33 No. 9 • December 2015
Did Indigenous people rock the federal vote? Page 7
Court to decide whether to destroy records Page 8
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Stop spending and show the books, says flood evacuee 6 A Siksika First Nation man affected by a disastrous flood two-and-a-half years ago says he and other band members will protest until chief and council “open the books” into how money sent to the community for remediation is being spent.
Confusion over credentials lands lawsuit
A former Onion Lake Cree Nation councillor is challenging the credentials committee of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for not allowing her to run in the Oct. 28 election.
Court to decide whether to destroy records
If the Ontario Court of Appeal decides that records from the Independent Assessment Process are to be held on to, one residential school survivor has given notice he will take legal action.
Action must be taken, or everyone complicit 9 Edith Cloutier is appalled at the situation, but relieved that action is finally being taken in response to allegations by a growing number of Aboriginal women – and a handful of men – that members of the Val-d’Or police abused them.
Cultural appropriation interpreted in fashion
A Toronto-based fashion arts project that seeks to challenge issues of cultural appropriation in clothing design is underway. Setsune Indigenous Fashion Incubator, the name of the team of artists who came up with the idea, launched the Collective Creation Project officially this month, and are working with specially selected individuals—both professional textile artists, and non—to bring their idea to fruition.
Departments [ book reviewss ] 4 & 12 [ rants and raves ] 6 [ windspeaker briefs ] 9 [ provincial news ] 13 - 21 [ alberta sweetgrass ] 14 - 18 [ health ] 22 [ sports ] 23 [ education ] 24 & 25 [ footprints ] Mary Kappo 26 As Nov. 8, the birth date of her late grandmother, came and went a few weeks ago, Tanya Kappo reflected on the words written on her mentor’s gravestone. “She passed away last March. This month, she would have been 94 years old,” Tanya said. “I was thinking a lot about her and came to a realization. If I want to leave any kind of an impression in this world, it is to have people remember me as having had the same qualities as my grandmother.”
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Windspeaker is published by the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) Canada's largest publisher of Aboriginal news and information. AMMSA's other publications include:
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Saskatchewan Sage — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Saskatchewan Raven's Eye — The Aboriginal Newspaper of British Columbia Ontario Birchbark — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Ontario
[ book reviews ]
Action-packed and breezy read with Autumn Leaf Reviewed by Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Autumn Leaf Written by Ken Gervais Published by Pemmican Publications
Autumn Leaf is the story of a friendship that develops when three people are thrown together by circumstance in remote British Columbia. However, like the leaf that floats on the wind, author Ken Gervais chooses to keep the story breezy instead of delving into the psyche of three troubled individuals, who choose not to be blown in every direction but to take control of their paths. The story, published by Pemmican Publications Inc., revolves around one-time Commonwealth middleweight boxing champion Victor, now 54. It’s easy to assume that Victor is a washed up boxer, never having been able to recover from his bout of fame. But that isn’t the case. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Victor’s medic-
on-the-move gig came about because of the tragic loss of his son followed closely by the death of his wife. Victor had a life after boxing, has money from boxing, and has a grown daughter, who lives in Vancouver with her two children and husband. As Victor later tells Pauline, one of the two young people he befriends, he chose not to be around his grandchildren because they didn’t deserve to be exposed to a man, who was always sad. Pauline is a young, recovering drug addict, whose brother, a drug dealer, has disappeared. She expects he has been murdered. Pauline takes to Victor’s lessons of self-defence in only the way a woman fighting for her life can and she repays Victor, grudgingly, by helping Victor steal painkillers so Victor can properly treat the workers at the camp he is stationed at. Sean is the third member of
this motley crew. He is the good looking First Nations man that talks Victor into heading up to Fort Nelson to work at the camp and introduces Victor to Pauline. Sean ends up idolizing Victor and hooking up long term with Pauline.†† Autumn Leaf is not short on action. It moves quickly from one action scene to the next, from Victor being knocked out in the bar brawl that opens the story to Pauline knifing Victor’s attacker at the work camp. Gervais establishes the physical setting of the work camp well, which is where most of the story takes place, but he fails to set up the emotional and mental aspects of working in an isolated camp. Had he connected the characters in their isolation to the barrenness of the wintry north, the story would have been rich. Gervais only skims the surface of Victor and Pauline and barely
touches on Sean. Pauline is the character with the most growth, changing from a drug addict to someone, who decides to live a clean life. Her motivations are unclear and her struggle is not chronicled. Victor’s attachment to these two twenty-somethings is equally unclear. He bemoans connections and being hurt by relationships, yet he accepts the friendship that Pauline, in particular, wants to give. Autumn Leaf is a novella and Gervais’ debut work. Novellas are a tricky length of work. They don’t have to be as tightly woven as a short story but there’s not as much room to play as with a novel. Gervais’ characters are flawed but endearing, and the setting of the story is compelling. Deeper writing and stronger editing would have produced an absorbing study in characters and settings. Instead, Autumn Leaf is an easy-read action novel.
Healer passes his knowledge on to youth Reviewed by Dianne Meili Windspeaker Contributor
A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom – Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories Written by Russell Willier
Hoping to help young people, Indigenous healer Russell Willier teamed up with anthropologist David Young once again to produce an excellent book — A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom – Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories—that preserves Cree medicinal knowledge, plant by plant. Following the 1989 release of Cry of The Eagle, a book tracking Willier’s life as a traditional healer and his treatment of 10 patients afflicted with psoriasis, the duo this time enlists botanist Robert Rogers to provide commentary on folk uses and the explicit properties of 61 plants in Willier’s repertoire. As a teenager, the healer rejected the responsibility that came with accepting his grandfather’s
medicine bundle. In his 30s, however, aging medicine people convinced him to abandon his everyday life in favour of studying their healing methods to help preserve their knowledge. Cree cosmology figures large in Willier’s approach to healing; he describes his spiritual views with the help of diagrams. He also discusses how and where he finds his plants and herbs, offers practical advice on how to approach a healer, and laments the loss of natural habitats where his wild medicines grow. Willier’s favourite healing stories are engaging, especially the one about the call he received from the family of a dying Elder who saw spirits emerging from a round flying vehicle “with little windows” to collect him. Through Young’s research diary, we ride along with them on a 1,000 km journey across northern Alberta to collect plants in July. The men
slog through bogs and ride quads on rutted roads to locate medicine, along the way visiting with Willier’s old mentor, and taking photographs of flowers, stems and roots. From “ice cream trees” (Trembling Aspen whose sweettasting cambium tastes like honeydew melon) to “frog pants” (the carnivorous pitcher plant), Russell provides information about how traditional Cree people interacted with various †plants, herbs and trees. Rogers provides additional information about uses and properties of each plant, while nearly 200 of Young’s color photos illustrate how they appear in the summer and fall. The authors revisit their 1986 Psoriasis Research project in the book’s final section, relying on dramatic before-and-after photos to help demonstrate the effectiveness of natural plant medicine on severe
skin eruptions. Six of 10 patients improved significantly over the course of seven months, one of whom was completely cured of psoriasis on his hands. Maps and descriptions of Northern Alberta locales where Willier finds his medicine plants underscore his generous wish to guide young people in using them. There’s also an index of referenced plants in English, Latin and Cree, plus a list of references cited in the book, published by North Atlantic Books, 2015. Fully accomplishing what it sets out to do, the book offers evidence that traditional medicine really works, and aspiring healers can reference text, pictures, and maps to identify and locate them. Providing, that is – as Willier repeatedly stresses in the book – that humans stop destroying the habitat of wild, medicinal plants.
Rich and compelling, writers reach emotional depth
Languages of Our Land Published by Banff Centre Press Reviewed by Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Languages of Our Land is a compelling collection of works by
12 emerging and established Indigenous writers living in Quebec, published by Banff Centre Press. The original work is in French, which is included side-by-side with the English translation. For English only readers, the English translation is rich and captivating. And for lucky readers of French, one can only imagine how much richer and more captivating both the prose and the poetry – especially the poetry, with the special attention that must be paid to rhythm and flow– must be. And what if the stories could have been related in the true first languages of the authors – Wendat, Innu-aimun, Cree or Algonquin? The writing would have been even more beautiful. However, although the writers did not use their mother tongues, it is evident that the writing is influenced by the lived culture and the original language. The writers have all been touched by the Indian residential school
experience. Indeed, a couple of the poets use the word “genocide” to talk about what happened to their families, their communities, their way of life. “Cultural genocide” was the phrase spoken by Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Murray Sinclair to sum up the federal government’s policy of Indian residential schools. In “Dust of our Blood,” poet Jean Sioui writes, “My father … / One day you were the trapper/the next day you were the trapped/My father …/One day you were the hunter/the next day you were the hunted.” It is easy to feel the loss of a way of life and of culture in those few simple lines. The work of Sioui, who is Wendat from the Bear Clan, is the first in the collection and sets the tone for what is to come. In “Lost Origin,” Manon Nolin’s despair is clear in her words: “I turned away from my origins/I lost my heart of a child/I don’t know
who I am/Am I Innu?/Am I other? I am rootless.” The way of life, of what it has become, is captured honestly in the thoughts of an old woman: “Poor Marie trying to get away from her man when the bottle turned him mean.” Simple, straightforward, and bare is the work provided by Carole Labarre in the short story, “Pishimuss.” These poignant words capture the struggle of a people who have lost seven generations to Indian residential schools. With no culture, no language, no spiritual practises, where does the strength and direction come from to move beyond hurt and self-destructive coping techniques? Not all the poems and short stories are about loss. “Though the shadows of residential schools/hovers still over our communities/I know today’s youth will find there/a way to free themselves,” writes Real Junior Leblanc in the poem “Uprooted
Childhood.” And in “Day by Day,” Melina Vassiliou writes about hope: “my son’s pure gaze/his winning smile/ my son’s pure gaze/my winning smile/day by day.” In the greys and blacks of loss, the writers also share the bright colours of hope. Writes Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau in the poem “Women’s Declaration of Peace,” the final selection of the anthology, “Peace is an answer/to all the wounds inflicted/on our dignity,/day after day./Peace is the condition of our healing.” Languages of Our Land was written at the Banff Centre in Alberta. Says editor Susan Ourious in her introduction, “In the majestic setting of the Rockies, the chosen Canada Council writers were given an opportunity to reunite with the land, the river, the forests and the sky.” That reunion has created a stirring collection of prose and poetry.
Mandate letters will allow the measure of the man and his government The newly-elected Prime Minister of Canada has put his best foot forward and chosen a Cabinet that reflects the country, including putting two Indigenous people in key positions. It was touted soon after the election results were in that Jody Wilson-Raybould of the Cape Mudge First Nation, elected to the riding of Vancouver Granville, was a shoe-in for a Cabinet post, but it surprised many that she was appointed to a dual role in the powerposition of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, an inner-circle appointment if there ever was one. Many surmised, and even insisted, that she get the nod for Indigenous Affairs minister, but to his credit, PM Justin Trudeau looked past the obvious. Similarly, it was a creative move to appoint a member from the north—and the often forgotten other coast—to the position of Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, tagging on responsibility for the Canadian Coast Guard. Hunter Tootoo, newly-elected as MP for the riding of Nunavut, takes on this role. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, who acted as critic for Aboriginal Affairs while sitting as the third party in the House of Commons, was given the credit she deserves for her efforts to learn and understand the issues facing Aboriginal people during that time, and Trudeau’s choice for her placement as Minister of Indigenous Affairs has been roundly applauded. On Nov. 13, these three Ministers, as did all of Trudeau’s ministers, received their marching orders, and in a new era of transparency from the federal government, these orders were made public. In the preamble of each of the mandate letters, Trudeau reminds the ministers that they were elected on a promise of change. He said the work would be “informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians.” Words that jump out while reading the letters include “collaboration”, “partnerships” and “answerable”. And this sentence is critical to their work: “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples.” Trudeau calls upon his ministers to renew the nation-to-nation relationship, basing it on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. “I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part,” reads the letter. Trudeau has given his ministers four years “to deliver on all of our commitments.” In Tootoo’s case, he’s expected to increase protected marine and coastal areas by 20 per cent by 2020, restore funding for freshwater research and ocean science and monitoring
programs, protect the health of fish stocks, monitor contaminants and pollution in the oceans and support responsible and sustainable aquaculture along the coast. He is to act on the Cohen Commission to restore sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, and “work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other stakeholders to better co-manage our three oceans.” Bennett has been tasked with reconciliation work “and the necessary process of truth telling and healing”. She will develop an approach for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. She will be part of a review of laws, policies, and operational practices to ensure the Crown is executing its consultation and accommodation obligations. “Make significant new investments in First Nations education,” she was told. Work nation to nation with the Metis. “Update and expand the Nutrition North program,” alongside the Minister of Health. “Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development” on a National Early Learning and Childcare Framework. “Improve the physical infrastructure for Indigenous communities, including housing outcomes. “I expect you to re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make real progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Metis Nation, and Inuit communities.” Yes, you read that correctly… the issues most important to us. Gone is the ‘our shared interests’ mantra of the Harperites, which really only meant the interests of Conservative government alone. Housing, employment, health care, child welfare, education were among our interests mentioned by Trudeau, but there was no limit put on what we could be interested in as we travel this road called renewal. Wilson-Raybould will be working on the murdered and missing Indigenous women’s inquiry. She’s to “reduce the rate of incarceration amongst Indigenous Canadians,” address gaps in services to Aboriginal people and those with mental illness in the criminal justice system, and restore a Court Challenges Program, which provides financial support for important cases dealing with the guarantees of Canada Constitution, among a list of other tasks. There are 30 mandate letters on the government website at http://pm.gc.ca/eng/ ministerial-mandate-letters and they are an interesting read. But most importantly, they are the yard stick by which we will be able to measure the success of the Trudeau term to see if our confidence in his leadership, as demonstrated at the polls Oct. 19, was wellplaced. Windspeaker
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews December 2015
[ rants and raves ]
Page 5 Chatter A new commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Sutton Cenotaph in York Region, Ont. Nov. 3 to honour the contributions of First Nations chiefs and warriors in their defence of Upper Canada during the War of 1812. It is just one of 10 placed in the territories of the Chippewas of Huron and Lake Simcoe, including Barrie, Cedar Point, Christian Island, Coldwater, Georgina Island, Midland, Orillia and Rama. “We are hopeful to have one installed at Anchor Park in Holland Landing, so that we may share the true history of our ancestors and our fundamental contributions to the history and formation of Canada,” said Georgina Island Chief Donna Big Canoe. The plaque includes a map, chiseled in stone, discovered at the Simcoe County Archives of the territories of Upper and Lower Canada. The commemoration honours the sacrifice of 10,000 warriors who became allies of the British.
In response to First Nations’ demands to repatriate cultural artifacts, the Smithsonian is exploring the possibilities of 3D printing to maintain its collection, reports inside3dprinting.com . The Hoonah Indian Association and a Smithsonian repatriation officer met at the Sharing Our Knowledge Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans in Juneau, Alaska, reads the report. The meeting was to explore common ground. 3D-printed copies of shamanic objects were present, which were made in response to a repatriation request filed by the tribe. The original objects represented by the prints are, to the Hoonah, yéik, meaning they have a spirit within them. “The 3D printed copies…therefore, have no more value than trying to substitute for a shamanic object by handing the tribe members a gym sock,” reads the report. Talks will continue.
The Alaska Federation of Natives Subsistence Committee said blood quantum is becoming an issue for the group. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires that hunters be at least one-quarter Native, said Co-chair Rosita Worl. “We are now hearing from parents (and) grandparents that they are no longer able to take their children, grandchildren with them hunting. The committee will be coordinating a study and holding focus groups in villages to learn more.
Skye Kakekagumick of Keewaywin First Nation in northern Ontario said she was physically assaulted by police in Thunder Bay when she was taken into custody as a 15 year old who had been drinking. She was testifying before a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students who died while attending school in that city. Kakekagumick was friends with one of the students, but she was asked about her overall experiences in the city. When she first moved to the city, Kakekagumick testified that she was drinking with friends when police arrived and a male officer began “body searching” the female students, reported the CBC. “I said, ‘shouldn’t a lady cop be searching me?...he grabbed my hair and he slammed my head [into the police car].” Put in cells, the girls were scared and crying. “The cops were in there just laughing at us,” Kakekagumick said. “They would hold up a paper... and draw cartoons of a Native and say savage on there...and draw sad faces that said ‘boo hoo’.” Thunder Bay police told CBC News they wouldn’t comment on testimony before an active inquiry.
Bruce Carson, a former top aide to Stephen Harper, has been found not guilty of influence-peddling. He was charged in connection with his attempts to encourage the sale of water purification systems to First Nations communities by a company that employed his former girlfriend, using his connections to the department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage success. Carson’s lawyer argued there was nothing in law that prohibited Carson from such lobbying. Ontario Superior Court Judge Bonnie Warkentin ruled the Crown failed to show the federal government had a say over the kinds of water-purification equipment First Nations communities can purchase.
The oldest known residential school survivor, Marguerite Kioke Wabano, died in Moose Factory Nov. 13. She was 111 years old. Wabano was known to friends and family as Gookum (Granny). Granddaughter Joyce Spence said her capacity to forgive is what Gookum attributed her long life to. She was one year old when Treaty 9 was signed, and in 2008, she was one of the survivors invited to Ottawa for the Prime Minister’s apology on residential schools. File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council has helped 53 community leaders to become better decision makers. The community celebrated the end of an intense six-month governance education program called the FHQTC Director Education and Certification program. Graduates of the program included chiefs, council members and senior administrators from the 11-member communities of the tribal council. “I just wanted to see what it was like and to open my mind up to things that are coming up in the future,” said Alvin Francis, a Nekaneet First Nation band councillor. “It showed me that there are better ways to deal with issues today and tomorrow. It”s going to be something I’m going to need in the future if I plan to (continue) to be a community leader once my three-year term is up,” he told the Regina Leader-Post.
[ news ]
Cottagers, Indians and an evasive species A little over 50 kilometres north of Peterborough, Ont., a tempest is brewing involving people who have spent huge amounts of money to buy or build a cottage on the shores of Pigeon Lake in the last couple of decades, and an Indigenous form of grain harvested by First Nations people for thousands of years. It’s a battle of aesthetics and culture, property values and subsistence, of Muskoka chairs and an Indigenous pilaf. At the heart of this issue is a fundamentally differing perspective on what is important on a cultural level. The offender in this case, Zizania (in latin), or manomin (in Ojibway), or wild rice (to the rest of the world). Actually, it’s a grain rather than rice, and it has since time immemorial been a staple of many First Nation diets. Most Indigenous gatherings would not be complete without one to three wild rice casseroles at the center of the potluck table. The offended is a confederation of cottagers located on this Kawartha Lake who feel that the presence of this plant somehow infringes upon their right to enjoy the beauty of the Canadian wilderness and use their seadoos. Valuable shorelines are being assaulted and defamed by the plant’s tall stocks rising above the water’s edge, giving it the appearance of a marsh. Evidently, marshes and swamps are anathema to those who weekend in the area. It is also alleged the vegetation could be considered a water hazard, limiting accessibility for their boats.
THE URBANE INDIAN
Drew Hayden Taylor
If there is a villain, it’s James Whetung from the Curve Lake First Nation, just a short drive away from the desecrated shorelines. For the past several years, he has been accused of seeding the lakes with wild rice and then harvesting the crop, as do other Native people from other nearby Aboriginal communities. Why? Why do Italians grow grapes and the French make cheese? Maybe it’s genetically programmed. Are cottagers not following an ancient urge to come upon land they consider is not being used properly, and occupy it? At its core, this story is filled with irony. Fond of shallow clear water found near the shore, it’s been theorized that the proliferation of the rice beds is not just Mr. Whetung’s fault. I was told that wild rice kernels can lie dormant for long periods of time until conditions are ripe for growth… growth encouraged by an invasive species introduced into the Ontario waterways from southern Russia called zebra mussels. They help filter the
water and improve conditions for this Indigenous plant to grow. It should also be pointed out all this is happening on a lake named after another invasive species of bird introduced to the Americas in the late 1660s. Things came to a head when cottagers took matters into their own hands and persuaded the Trent Severn Waterway to dredge up the offending plants along their shore. This action was short lived because contractually, the TSW is obligated to consult with local First Nations regarding such activity. It seems the cottagers own the land but not the water. To date, the dredging has been stopped and both communities are discussing how to deal with the matter. All this difficulty over 10- to 15 per cent of a lake covering over 57 square kilometres. Such is the tragedy of First World problems. In my early teens, I remember witnessing these dredging machines cross back and forth across Chemong and Buckhorn Lake, scooping up huge piles of
something called Eurasian Milfoil. Introduced to Canada sometime in the late 19 th century, this invasive species ravaged the southern and central Ontario water systems in the late 60s and 70s, clogging the waterways. The dredging was not particularly successful. Oddly enough, the Ministry of Natural Resources encourages the cultivation of wild rice. Evidently it helps cleanse the water. Fish and aquatic animal populations love it, and of course it’s an excellent nutritious and natural food source. Milfoil on the other hand only made quasi-adequate garden fill, making the village smell fishy for several summers. Understandably, this issue has become a cause celebre for Indigenous activists, calling the actions of the non-Natives a form of ‘cottage colonization.’ Susan Blight, a Toronto Anishnawbe activist and artist, was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying “There’s a philosophical difference about recreational enjoyment of the lake and the lake as a spiritual being, as sustenance, as nationhood and governance.” Part of the disagreement is over the wording in the treaty that allows Mr. Whetung, who has a provincial license giving him the right to plant and harvest the wild rice. He is allowed to gather it to provide for himself, his family, and community. Mr. Whetung has been known to sell the wild rice at a farmers’ market to non-Natives, which some believe violates the treaty.
However, this year he was happy to say, he managed to financially rise just above the poverty line. Evidently, for Native businessmen, there is no fortune to be made in harvesting wild rice. It seems likely he will not be using his meagre profits to buy a cottage. Many of the Pigeon Lake residents swear this has nothing to do with racism, and resent the fact the disagreement has evolved into a bigger issue. It’s a matter strictly of boat safety and property values and I believe them. If it were Ethiopians or Laotians, I am sure the reaction would be the same. And to tell you the truth, some of my best friends have been cottagers. They’re an interesting people with fascinating ways and have been maligned far too long. I’ve even been known to visit and make anthropological forays to these strange and mysterious sites. That’s why I know what a Muskoka chair is. But decades ago in my more innocent youth, people from my community used to spend the day out on the lake, enjoying the sun, the water and the landscape. And when we got hungry, we would pull over to a nearby shore and have lunch, maybe a fish fry, and soak up the essence of what the Kawartha lakes offered us. Alas, those days are long gone, far in the past with the vast roaming herds of buffalo. Every bit of shoreline now has a cottage on it. Talk about your evasive species…
Stop spending and show the books, says flood evacuee By Cara McKenna Windspeaker Contributor
A Siksika First Nation man affected by a disastrous flood two-and-a-half years ago says he and other band members will protest until chief and council “open the books” into how money sent to the community for remediation is being spent. Ben Crow Chief is also demanding that he and other flood evacuees who are still in temporary accommodations get input into where their new permanent homes are being built. Crow Chief and about 1,000 others were evacuated from their homes when flooding devastated the southern Alberta community in June 2013. He
and a number of others began blocking off a construction site where new housing is being built on Nov. 4. Crow Chief alleges that the 44-house subdivision — a portion of about 170 homes needed for evacuees — is being constructed on a lot where Elders previously told chief and council not to build, despite other options being available. He said evacuees waiting for homes weren’t consulted or notified that their homes were being built until late October when construction had already began. He said at least one flooded home was also demolished without its former occupant being alerted. He said he and other band members are concerned that money that was raised after the flood to help evacuees is being
wasted. “[Siksika leadership is] still making decisions. Everybody’s saying ‘stop spending the money’ and they’re still putting up workshops, paying for this, paying for that,” Crow Chief said. “By the time we move into their houses, our donation money is going to be gone.” Siksika’s project co-ordinator Reynold Medicine Traveller told CBC News that $702,000 in donation money remains. He said $12,500 was spent on a school project for child evacuees and $25,000 to construct two playgrounds. Nicole Robertson, a spokesperson for Siksika’s leadership, said in an interview that the protesters are the ones making the band lose money because they are blocking
construction crews from doing their work. She said there was a meeting between evacuees, Alberta government representatives and Siksika’s tribal and financial managers on Nov. 10 “to ensure accountability” and there will be a follow-up in several weeks. At the meeting, a total of nine evacuees were appointed between the band’s rebuild, donation and housing committees. “The administration, chief and council, at this time their importance is getting these homes built,” Robertson said. “I don’t know why [the evacuees] are so upset when a lot of what they’ve asked for is being done … chief and council are doing as much as possible to get this thing sorted out.” She said Chief Vincent Yellow
Old Woman and band councilors aren’t speaking to media directly about the conflict. “At the end of the day, the chief really feels strongly about bringing the community back to a place of harmony,” she said. But Crow Chief said that Yellow Old Woman isn’t answering the community’s concerns and has “gone into hiding.” He said he will continue to blockade with other residents until their demands are met, and they are soon holding their own community-hosted meeting. “The people are the backbone of Siksika,” Crow Chief said. “Open up the books and [give us input on] the locations of our homes.”
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Did Indigenous people rock the federal vote? By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
The numbers won’t be in until the New Year, but the stories support strongly an increase in Aboriginal voting across the country, both on reserves and in urban centres. “I would venture to say it would be significantly higher that it’s been in previous years,” said Dwight Dorey, National Chief with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents Indigenous populations in the urban centres. “A lot of people took advantage of the advance polls. The percentage was quite high right across the board and my assumption would be, particularly in urban areas, it would be reflective in the urban Aboriginal population getting out to vote.” The Inuit population was the same, said Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, noting that the voting numbers in Nunavut were up. “The Inuit across Canada seem like they’re excited,” he said. “They have a bit of optimism and hope.” First Nations people across the country were also excited about the election, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, and there was more dialogue. “I believe (the numbers) have gone up but we’re going to have to wait to do the assessment,” he said. “In my opinion right now, I would probably suggest that it did go up.” In 2011, only 44 per cent of
Shane Gottfriedson, Assembly of First Nations British Columbia Regional Chief, signed his name on the banner “Rock the Indigenous Vote” at the open forum held on the Enoch Cree Nation.
Aboriginal voters marked ballots. This time around, there is no lack of anecdotal evidence to back up the leaders’ beliefs that numbers are higher. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson estimated that voting increased as much as 20 per cent in some ridings in that province. According to numbers provided by Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, in the 2011 election about 25,000 votes were cast in Kenora, but this time there were nearly 30,700 and 2,909 can be attributed to First Nation votes. At Cold Lake First Nation in Alberta, a record 355 members
cast their ballots, said Chief Bernice Martial in a news release. A handful of polling stations in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta First Nations ran out of ballots in the late afternoon and early evening. In some cases, ballots were photocopied and in other cases, ballots were collected from other nearby polling stations. “No electors lost their right to vote in respect to any delays surrounding ballot questions or ballot matters,” said John Enright, spokesperson with Elections Canada. “You can’t anticipate ebbs or flows at a polling station.” Enright says Elections Canada will be doing an assessment of the
election as usual, but there won’t be any numbers available until January. Prior to the Oct. 19 federal election, which saw Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept into power, the AFN released a report identifying 51 ridings in which Indigenous voters could have an impact. Of those ridings, there were 24 wins for the Liberals, including 17 gains, nine wins for the Conservatives, 16 for the NDP, and two for the Bloc Québécois. Bellegarde won’t say whether a Conservative defeat in those 51 ridings meant Indigenous people carried the vote. “We were there to mobilize the vote. We weren’t there to
jump on any particular party but we wanted our people to make an informed choice,” said Bellegarde. “And I believe it did matter in those key ridings where large numbers of First Nations people turned out to vote.” Having a higher number of Indigenous people vote was no accident. Rallies and intensive social media campaigns encouraged the effort. Cara Currie Hall, originally from Maskwacis and now living in the United States, was a force behind the Indigenous vote in the U.S. for the past two Obama elections. She returned home in October to do the same thing here. “Rock the Indigenous Vote is a movement of the people by the people to get out the vote for the federal election and to really make a difference and be the swing vote,” said Currie Hall. AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson said it was important to get Indigenous people mobilized, something that is still fresh considering First Nations were only given the right to vote in 1960. “(This) is for a better quality of life,” said Gottfriedson. “We’re not just mom and pop band office operations anymore. Some of the communities across this country are multi-million dollar businesses that they run. Our people are the fastest growing population in Canada. I think our young people now, even in band elections, are the majority of the votes, so we really are encouraging all our young people in Indian country to get out and vote and they are.”
Confusion over credentials lands lawsuit By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
A former Onion Lake Cree Nation councillor is challenging the credentials committee of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for not allowing her to run in the Oct. 28 election. Dolores Pahtayken was one of four potential candidates who did not meet all criteria set out for filing nomination papers. Missing from her papers by nomination deadline was the vulnerable sector check. The vulnerable sector check verifies whether an individual has a criminal record, as well as any record suspensions (or pardons) for sexual offences. However, Pahtayken maintains, through a letter sent by her legal counsel John Kwok to the FSIN credentials committee legal counsel, that she was informed by Ron Crowe,
clerk of the assembly for FSIN, that her nomination package was in order. He accepted her $1,000 nonrefundable application fee, but two weeks later she received a letter from Crowe stating she was not qualified as a candidate because her package was not complete. Her fee has not been refunded. Adding to the confusion is the status of former FSIN Chief Guy Lonechild. His nomination papers were accepted although, as he told reporter Marvin Brass of Treaty 4 News, that he did not have his vulnerable sector check completed. Crowe, however, told the StarPhoenix that all accepted candidates had completed their full nomination packages. Crowe is no longer with the credentials committee. Darcy McKenzie, director of communications with the Office of the Chief of the FSIN, says the FSIN had “no jurisdiction over there. They’re a separate
committee from us.” Kwok said that whether or not the FSIN and credentials committee are separate, that should not have stopped the FSIN from issuing a statement. “It should not have even needed a letter from a lawyer. Once they heard about that controversy, I would think that FSIN, even the old leadership, had to step up to the plate and clear it. Why is it they need activists out there to challenge anything?” said Kwok. In his letter dated Oct. 27, Kwok says he has been retained by Pahtayken to “represent her rights and options, and her challenge to the FSIN and its credential committee….” At this point, says Kwok, “this matter is still being pursued.” Pahtayken had hoped to run against incumbent Third Vice Chief Dutch Lerat. Instead, Lerat was acclaimed to the position. Lyndon Linklater is another person who was unable to run
because he couldn’t get his vulnerable sector check done in time. Linklater says all the candidates support having a vulnerable sector check completed, which is a fairly new requirement for the FSIN. “The issue is the amount of time it takes to get a vulnerability sector check, and the time they allotted us to get it made it impossible for us to adhere to their requirements,” he said. Linklater assumed he had more time before he would be able to contest the positon of Second Vice Chief. But when Bobby Cameron, who held the position, decided to run for chief, Linklater was left scrambling. “I’m sad that I never got the chance to run,” said Linklater, “but if it’s meant to be, I’ll get another chance down the road.” The vacant seat went to Robert Merasty with 441 votes; also running was Rod Atcheynum, who took 246 votes, three more than
Lonechild. Linklater says he is hopeful that Lonechild didn’t get an opportunity to run that wasn’t afforded the other candidates. However, even if that were the case, Linklater says he will not be joining Pahtayken in any legal action against FSIN. “I love FSIN,” said Linklater, noting he worked there for six years. “On one hand you’re trying to be a leader in that organization, and in the same breath you’re trying to take them to court. It’s a struggle.” Also disqualified from running were Shirley Wolfe-Keller and former Yellow Quill First Nation chief Larry Cachene. The FSIN election saw Bobby Cameron win as chief with 758 votes, defeating Helen Ben (145 votes) and Leo Omani (69 votes). Kimberly Jonathan was acclaimed as First Vice Chief. Counsel for the credentials committee, Kimberly Stonechild, did not return a phone call from Windspeaker.
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Court to decide whether to destroy records By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
ATHABASCA CHIPEWYAN FIRST NATION, Alta.
If the Ontario Court of Appeal decides that records from the Independent Assessment Process are to be held on to, one residential school survivor has given notice he will take legal action. “This is a legal matter that will boil over and, I guarantee you, I won’t be the only one in the lineup. There will be others following,” said Allan Adam, who attended Holy Angels residential school in Fort Chipewyan. “My IAP records should be destroyed because that was the arrangement I made when I went into it.” At the end of October, the Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments from a number of parties on whether to uphold a lower court decision to keep the IAP records for 15 years before
destroying them. In August 2014, Justice Paul M. Perell of the Ontario Superior Court, called for the destruction of documents obtained through the IAP following a 15-year retention period. He ordered that the federal government destroy all the IAP documents it has in its possession after 15 years and that any other parties, which would include the four churches that signed the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, or any individuals in possession of the documents, destroy them immediately after the completion of the IAP hearings. Perell also ordered that a notice program be put in place during the retention period to reach IAP claimants and provide them with the option of archiving their statements, with all personal information and information about alleged perpetrators, blacked-out. Dan Shapiro, chief adjudicator of the IAP, says the records need
to be destroyed in keeping with the promise of confidentiality that was made to the survivors before they spoke. Shapiro would like to see that time frame dropped from 15 years to two years. Canada’s position is the IAP records are government property and should be held by the government and eventually stored in the national library and archives. Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has expressed his concern that destroying all the IAP records would be a step toward future non-Aboriginal generations being able to deny the damage caused by residential schools. Sinclair would like to see the records that are kept stored at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. Ry Moran, director for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, says he has heard from survivors, who want the records destroyed and those who
don’t. “In that uncertainty we say it seems risky to destroy this information before survivors have been properly informed about their choice to preserve this information if they so choose,” said Moran. He believes it is important that the survivor community talk about the “incredibly powerful but extremely sensitive collection of records,” whether they should be kept, and if they should be stored at the National Centre “under Indigenous control.” Adam feels this is a discussion that should not be taking place. Those survivors who felt their records should not be destroyed should have said so at the beginning of the IAP, he says. And it shouldn’t be in the court. “Right now, across this country, if it’s truth and reconciliation about working and trying to patch things up, this thing should be taken out of the courts immediately and say it’s because of the survivors;
it never should have been brought up,” said Adam. But Moran says that many survivors he has spoken to about their IAP records, after the initial anger, begin to see value in having them preserved. “Our job, as with the statement gathering process we ran with the TRC, our job is not to convince survivors one way or another. It is to provide them, I believe, with the full information on what preservation would look like, the full set of facts necessary for them to make an informed decision on this,” said Moran. “They should be in the driver seat.” Moran says he could see a multi-option consent process, similar to the TRC statement gathering process: survivors, who will allow full public access, and those, who want their records preserved but kept private. There is no timeline as to when a decision from the court is to be expected.
JIBC breaks ground on new Aboriginal Gathering Place The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) broke ground Nov. 18 on a new dedicated gathering place where students, staff and faculty can appreciate and honour Aboriginal traditions. The 821 sq-ft space is designed to enhance support services for JIBC’s Aboriginal students and also serve as a venue where non-Aboriginal students, staff and faculty can deepen their knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal history and culture. With $600,000 in funding from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the New Westminster Campus is scheduled to open in March 2016. “Gathering places provide a welcoming environment for Aboriginal students” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Our investment in gathering places throughout the province, including the Justice Institute of British Columbia, allows Aboriginal students to celebrate their heritage in an environment that will support their postsecondary studies.” On Oct. 19 at the site of the new Aboriginal Gathering Place, an Aboriginal ground blessing was conducted, led by JIBC Elder-in-Residence Audrey Rivers from the Squamish First Nation, JIBC Elder-inResidence Phillip Gladue (Métis), JIBC Governor Tina Dion, and Dr. Michel Tarko, president and CEO of JIBC. At the blessing, President Tarko, who is of Métis descent, noted the importance and value of having a dedicated space for
JIBC President and CEO Dr. Michel Tarko; Laureen Styles, JIBC Vice-President, Academic; Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation; Squamish Elder Audrey Rivers; Bridget Malcom, Aboriginal Student Advisor; Tina Dion, JIBC Governor; Métis Elder Phillip Gladue, and Peter Kingston, JIBC Vice-President, Finance and Administration were in attendance of an Aboriginal ground blessing ceremony for JIBC’s new Aboriginal Gathering Place. Aboriginal students where they can feel supported, and can participate in their Aboriginal traditions on campus. “While I was studying at UBC, it was comforting to have a place like the First Nations Longhouse on campus. I am very happy we will soon be able to provide a similar venue where First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, staff and faculty can gather and support one another, and share our traditions and customs with non-Aboriginal students,” he said.
“I’m confident that this additional support for our Aboriginal students will help them excel in their courses and programs at JIBC.” At the blessing, JIBC Governor Tina Dion emphasized the importance of having a space on campus where Aboriginal students can feel welcomed and at home. “This gathering place will be key support for Aboriginal students who come to JIBC,” she said. “To have a space where they can meet Elders and fellow
Aboriginal students will go a long way to helping them succeed in their studies, build rewarding careers in public and community safety, and ultimately support their community.” Dr. Richard Vedan, associate professor emeritus in UBC’s School of Social Work and a member of JIBC’s Aboriginal Education Advisory Council noted, “The Gathering Place will show to potential program applicants and recruits that there is a place for them at JIBC and
it will serve as a visual representation of JIBC’s commitment to serving Aboriginal students and their communities.” Government has funded $15 million since 2008 toward the creation of 31 Aboriginal Gathering Places at public postsecondary institutions that reflect Aboriginal culture. Gathering places are designed to provide a welcoming environment for the growing number of Aboriginal students on campuses all over B.C.
Action must be taken, or everyone complicit By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Edith Cloutier is appalled at the situation, but relieved that action is finally being taken in response to allegations by a growing number of Aboriginal women – and a handful of men – that members of the Val-d’Or police abused them. But it took the airing of the Radio Canada investigative program Enquête in midOctober before Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard responded. “It needed that because nobody believes us anyway when we come out with something,” said Cloutier, executive director with the Val-d’Or friendship centre. Cloutier says she made members of the Quebec government aware of the allegations in mid-May following a May 11 roundtable at the friendship centre, when the women spoke about the abuse. Some of the mistreatment dated back two decades. “This is where the women found cultural safety to talk,” said Cloutier, pointing out that the women, who are marginalized, living on the streets, many working as prostitutes and suffering from addictions, have little confidence they will be heard on their own. The discussion was sparked by CBC. “The (CBC crew) came through that door and started speaking to friends of (Sindy Ruperthouse) and through those conversations these things started to come out, how police were treating them,” said Cloutier. Ruperthouse, 45, is an Aboriginal woman who has been missing for 18 months. In the days that followed the roundtable, three women swore out complaints and members of the Val d’Or police took those complaints. That disturbed Cloutier. “I needed to raise a very high red flag knowing how issues surrounding Aboriginal people gets very political … and if we want to be heard, knowing the complexity of what was brought to my attention,” she said. Cloutier wrote a letter to the chief of the Val d’Or police and copied that letter to the provincial ministers of justice, Aboriginal affairs and public security. But she then decided copying letters to the province wasn’t enough. “I made a cover letter to each minister stating that because of the gravity of what had been brought to my attention directly by those women, I have the moral obligation to request immediate action because of the allegations – and it’s written black and white–sexual abuse
and brutality toward Aboriginal women and this is a very high profile issue when you consider missing and murdered Aboriginal women,” she said. “This is basically an issue of systemic racism in the justice and police force.” Cloutier says she was in contact with investigators from Val d’Or police throughout spring and summer, but things remained at a “very superficial first degree intervention” level. Even letting the provincial government know that a television broadcast was pending on the subject got Cloutier nowhere. Then Enquête aired on Oct. 22. The following day, Cloutier held a press conference jointly with the family of Sindy Ruperthouse, and Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Chief Ghislain Picard, Grand Council of the Crees Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, and Abitibiwinni First Nation Chief David Kistabish. Only then did the province respond. Part of that response was Quebec’s public security minister transferring the complaints from the Val d’Or police to the Montreal police force and Couillard appointing an independent observer to oversee the investigation. Picard said the chiefs wants to appoint their own monitor to oversee the investigation. Fourteen files of allegations were opened and nine Val d’Or police officers, one since deceased, were implicated. Couillard also said Quebec would consider holding a public inquiry into relations between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in the province. Cloutier says she and the chiefs want a public inquiry focused on the “authority relationship” between the police and First Nations people. If there’s going to be such a public inquiry, said Elizabeth Comack, a professor of sociology at the University of Manitoba, the parameters need to be set carefully. “What’s more important, if you’re going to have an inquest into those sorts of issues, what sorts of questions are you going to ask, what sorts of information are you going to seek? That’s where my concerns would lie, if there’s an inquiry, if it’s framed in a way that it’s really going to address the systemic problem,” said Comack. Comack is the author of the book Racialized Policing: Aboriginal People’s Encounters with the Police. Published in 2012, the book recounts, among other practises, the Saskatoon police force’s implementation of what became known as ‘starlight tours,’ where the police took intoxicated Aboriginal men and
dropped them on the outskirts of the city during the night, including winter months. These tours led to the deaths of a number of these men. The Val d’Or police were accused of similar practises with the Aboriginal women. Comack says she was not surprised to hear the allegations. “My response to that was, ‘Still? Instead of ‘not again.’ It’s still going on,” she said. The accounts published in Comack’s book and now what has happened in Val d’Or is about “reproducing the colonial order. It’s those power relations between Indigenous people and the police and those relations … they’re there to reproduce order, but it’s a particular kind of order they’re reproducing. It’s colonialism,” said Comack. And until people start accepting this sort of behaviour is happening, nothing will change, she says. “I really do think denial of the problem of Indigenous police relations is a huge issue. I think we’re in denial of racism, we’re in denial about the ways racism work, how systemic, how embedded it is. Part of what that denial enables, it enables those kinds of practises to continue,” said Comack. “A lot of the focus has been the Indigenous communities but I think much more of our focus needs to shift on the settlers, (on) the roll we settlers play in reproducing this issue.” “This has been a shock for everyone, including our leadership in First Nations communities in Quebec. It’s like an earthquake,” said Cloutier. “We have to say the nonAboriginal community is just as shocked.” Couillard’s discussion with the chiefs also resulted in his commitment to work with the Val-d’Or friendship centre, providing $6.1 million in investment toward a 24-unit social housing project for Aboriginal families in Val-d’Or; an innovative cultural traditional site in the forest; a pilot project for a day centre for the homeless; and more frontline workers. These projects have been on the books for a number of years, says Cloutier. “This is a concrete gesture on the part of the Quebec government, supported by the chiefs, because they’re the ones who pushed this thing. Ground zero is Val-d’Or in all of this. We need to make sure there’s a higher level political conversation going on,” said Cloutier. “If not, taking action is being complicit of the cultural genocide of Aboriginal people (then) if the Quebec government doesn’t act, if our First Nations authorities doesn’t act, then we are all becoming complicit,” she said.
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Windspeaker News Briefs Consultation on how to proceed with a murdered and missing Indigenous women’s inquiry will begin in the coming weeks, reports the newly-installed federal Liberal government. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett told the Canadian Press a process will begin to consult families of victims, provincial and territorial representatives and grassroots organizations to establish a road map for the inquiry, the mandate and how many commissioners should take part. The Liberals committed $40 million over two years during their election campaign on the inquiry.
Joe Spears, Manager Director of the Horseshoe Bay Marine Group in West Vancouver, says coastal First Nations communities in B.C. should have an official role in search and rescue services. He said the capsizing of a whale-watching tour boat off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in October demonstrates how crucial First Nations are in emergencies on the water. Two First Nations men fishing Oct. 25 saw the only emergency flare set off by passengers of the MV Leviathan II and rushed to the scene, calling on others from nearby First Nations to help. They saved 21 of the 27 people tossed into the cold waters by a rogue wave. Spears said the current structure for marine response is too ‘fragmented’. He said it would also be critical for the economy. “When you look at eco-tourism, we’re bringing people to a very rugged and dangerous coastline,” he said. “We’re letting them loose, and then when something happens, we shouldn’t be thinking, well we’ll think of something as it occurs.”
Luke Monias and Norman Barkman were switched at birth. Each was given to the other’s mother when released from a northern Manitoba hospital four decades ago. On Nov. 13, only days after finding out that fact for sure, they shared their horrible story, and they demanded answers about how such a thing could have happened. Eric Robinson, Manitoba’s Aboriginal and Northern Affairs minister, sat by their side at the news conference at the Manitoba legislative building in Winnipeg. “The mental, physical and the spiritual well-being of both men has been deeply affected by the loss of their proper identity, and the effects upon their immediate and extended families is just as serious.” The men were born on June 19, 1975 at Norway House Indian Hospital, run by the federal government. They grew up on the Garden Hill First Nation and were friends. Locals noted that each looked like the other’s family. They finally decided to take the test to find out if the rumors were true. The test results came back on Nov. 10. Federal Minister Dr. Jane Philpott said she was “very concerned to learn of this issue…I can assure Canadians that Health Canada will look into the concerns that have been raised.”
An Indigenous educator in Manitoba is warning that northern First Nations schools are vulnerable when hiring teachers. Treaty commissioner Jamie Wilson told the CBC that some community schools don’t have the resources to check teacher qualifications. Wilson is a former education director for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He raised as an example a recent firing of a teacher at Oxford House, Man., who had lied on her resume, saying it is not an isolated case. Her teaching certificate number was proved false, and the woman admitted it was fake. “We called her into the office, the principal and I, and asked her … She said, ‘Yeah, I needed a job, so I just made up the number’.” She then showed up at another school in Ontario months later. The high turnover in the schools—upwards of 80 per cent—doesn’t allow education officials always to perform due diligence when hiring.
For those First Nations living off-reserve in Manitoba, one out of every four will face a struggle to put food on table. Food insecurity means not being able to access healthy, affordable food. Data released by Statistics Canada shows the highest proportion of off-reserve First Nations people with “low” or “very low” food security is in Manitoba, with Saskatchewan and British Columbia coming in second and third. The lowest level of food insecurity for off-reserve First Nations was in Quebec.
Chief Corrina Leween of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation says five people from her community of less than 350 people near Burns Lake, B.C. have disappeared on the section of Highway 16 known as the Highway of Tears, including a family of four, and it’s time for a region-wide transportation service. BC’s Transportation Minister Todd Stone, however, says that a Prince George to Prince Rupert bus is not practical. Since the 1970s, at least 18 women have disappeared or been murdered along the highway and Highways 97 and 5. Leween says the recent release of a report over deleted Transportation Ministry emails about the highway and the missing persons has hurt her community deeply.
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Cultural appropriation interpreted in fashion By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
A Toronto-based fashion arts project that seeks to challenge issues of cultural appropriation in clothing design is underway. Setsune Indigenous Fashion Incubator, the name of the team of artists who came up with the idea, launched the Collective Creation Project officially this month, and are working with specially selected individuals— both professional textile artists, and non—to bring their idea to fruition. “Coming from fashion, the highlight was always on me being an Indigenous designer, and the expectation was to do things that were considered Native,” said Sage Paul, textile artist, and artistic director for Setsune. “But that was from a panIndian stereotype. So for me, cultural appropriation is about not wanting to fall into that stereotype,” she said of her inspiration for the message behind the project.
Paul works alongside Erika Iserhoff as part of Setsune, and they recently brought textile artist Louise Solomon onboard. Together the three will be contributing their own art to the Cultural Appropriation Project, as well as facilitating the experience for the other selected artists. “Each artist is going to have their own individual piece. And I think it’s going to have a good flow because a few artists are looking at cultural appropriation across all of the Americas, and how each community experiences it,” said Paul. Paul, and her Setsune team started by holding workshops last summer for women with limited opportunities in crafting and fashion. The idea was to teach them skills like tanning deer hide, and silk-screening to give them a boost in the areas of fashion they were interested in. After the workshops ended, a call for submission went out to artists who attended, and a selection committee was formed to choose the right artists objectively based on the artists visions of how to represent
cultural appropriation in design. “We’re not approaching it from a fashion, retail, commodification, mass sale of work perspective. When I think of appropriation, I think that’s where it started, was taking these beautiful works then creating it on a mass scale… Like it not even being made here, and being made in China,” she said. With help from funders such as the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Project, Paul, her Setsune team members, and the artists for Collective Creation Project will be able to take their show on the road, starting in the relatively affluent neighbourhood of Yorkville, Toronto for the first four weeks of their exhibition next April. The first showing in Yorkville will really help in their mission to send the message to the right audience, according to Paul, because there is little to no Indigenous representation there. And the goal is to carry on after that. “We’re talking about exhibiting it at other galleries in
TorontoÖ Places like the Harbour Front, Power Plant, AGO, Mercer Union... and other galleries across Canada. And we’ve spoken to a couple galleries in South America… I can’t say how excited I am to see it come to life. I think it’ll have a really big impact on our Indigenous community, but also beyond that,” she said. Jodi-Lyn Maracle, one of the artists selected for the project, is also excited to tackle the issue of cultural appropriation through textile art. Having done a Master’s Degree in Federal U.S. and Canadian Indian Law at the University of Buffalo, she knows all too well about the persecution Indigenous Canadians and Americans faced during colonization—something she says paved the way for their exploitation, and the appropriation of their culture. “I’ve always been fascinated that they even called it Indian, because ‘Indian’ is this whole constructed appropriated thing to begin with. It’s not Mohawk law, it’s not Navajo Law... The way that federal Indian Law works in the U.S. and Canada is
one of the first massive appropriations of identity,” said Maracle. Maracle just started her formal advancement into fashion, but has been creating fashion art since she was a child. Using her knowledge of both textile art, and real colonial history, she said she has a “grand idea for a gown” that will demonstrate three components of law that were historically used to basically void the existence of First Nations people in North America. Using materials like a sheer sheet, and weaving something like porcupine quills into it, she hopes to create a true visual of that. “There’s obvious ways culture is appropriated, but I also think there’s a lot of ways that not just Indigenous culture, but also Indigenous presence is appropriated. And often erased to justify a lot of ongoing horrific things in the world,” said Maracle. “That’s why I wanted to focus on these legal appropriations of our realities… It goes so far beyond just calling a pair of underwear Navajo,” she said.
Universities must play a role in implementing TRC Calls to Action Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed an audience of university presidents and faculty, students, Indigenous leaders, and federal and provincial officials Nov. 18 to set out a vision to give life to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and ensure First Nations peoples and their languages remain strong and valued. The day’s conference, Building Reconciliation: Universities Answering the TRC’s Calls to Action, was held at the University
of Saskatchewan and focused on the 94 recommendations issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on June 2. The Calls to Action aim to reconcile Indigenous peoples and Canada from the legacy of the Indian residential schools. “It’s often said that Canada was created by two founding nations, English and French,” said Bellegarde. “With respect, I challenge that. We have 58 Indigenous nations that opened their arms and welcomed our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters when they first arrived.
Our languages should be viewed as national treasures.” Universities, he said, should make a priority to offer Indigenous language programs or degrees that focus not only on comprehension, but also methods for revitalization. Moving forward on the TRC recommendations requires confronting and conquering fundamental misconceptions about history. He said universities can play a role in dismissing the Doctrine of Discovery. “This racist doctrine does underlie many legal assumptions that still
shape the common law of ‘aboriginal rights,’ as well as government policies that are an obstacle to progress. It must be abandoned, denounced and its impacts addressed.” Bellegarde said universities must play a part to ensure First Nations people and teachings are welcomed and incorporated into the university system. He noted the University of Regina is creating an award for Indigenous students and Vancouver Island University has recently designated First Nations Elders as special faculty in recognition of
the relevance of Indigenous knowledge across many disciplines. “I am confident that your work and your commitment to that task can make a real difference towards ensuring education systems and academic institutions across this country are transformed to reflect Indigenous peoples, our cultures, languages, knowledge, perspectives and ideas,” Bellegarde said. “We need your help in shaping the future of this country to meet the reconciliation challenge.”
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PHOTO: TIM FRASER FOR THE LAW SOCIETY OF UPPER CANADA
A panel of experts discussed reconciliation with the Métis at an event to commemorate Louis Riel Day on Nov. 16. Hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Métis Nation of Ontario, the event drew almost 200 participants. Left to right: Gary Lipinski, President, Métis Nation of Ontario; Peter H. Russell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto; Jean Teillet, IPC, Partner, Pape Salter Teillet LLP (moderator); Jason Madden, Partner, Pape Salter Teillet LLP; and Candice Telfer, Counsel, Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
Indspire explores a holistic approach to education By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
The Indspire Institute of Canada has been working to create a new understanding of the meaning of Indigenous education. The organization just wrapped up its annual National Gathering for Indigenous Education Conference for Indigenous educators—this year held in Calgary—and created a buzz around the idea of holistic education. Holistic education uses ideas from Indigenous beliefs about what makes a person whole, and healthy, and applies it to a classroom setting. “The reason we focus on Indigenous education is because it’s widely known and accepted that Canada needs to do a much better job at ensuring Indigenous students receive a quality education. If you look at First Nations alone, four in 10 graduate from high school, versus eight to nine for other students in Canada,” said Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire. “We are simply not graduating
at the rate we should be… but we know our students are gifted, and resourceful, and they have incredible potential. They just need more support,” she said. Awards were handed out at the conference, as part of their annual Guiding the Journey celebration, to Indigenous educators making a difference in the lives of Indigenous students. But this year Indspire handed out their first ever “group award,” said Jamieson. The Mi’kmaq Nation of Nova Scotia was honored for creating a program to train and employ more educators from their own nation, and obtaining an 88 per cent graduation rate for their students as a result—far ahead of the national average for Indigenous graduates, she said. “What we know to be true, is when our people control their own education experience… when we enrich the education experience children have, with Indigenous ways of knowing… our young people achieve tremendously,” she said. The conference filled two full days, and saw participants through 49 different workshops. Each workshop was taught by an Indigenous scholar or educator,
and touched on a variety of topics like creating participation in education in remote northern communities, science and math using a traditional Indigenous perspective, tactics of inner city programs that have been successful for Indigenous youth, and one of the ingredients to the success of Indigenous students— as well as an overarching theme of the conference, according to Jamieson—having a student’s identity as an Indigenous person validated. “If you know who you are, your Indigenous identity, you are far more likely to feel empowered. And if you can see someone like you, who has achieved, whether it’s in law, or medicine, or in the arts, you’re much more likely to believe you can do it too,” she said. The other Indigenous-specific component of the conference was that each workshop was tagged as working with one of four “pillars” that comprise a person’s self. These four pillars— the emotional-feeling, spiritualbeing, physical-doing, and mental-knowing aspects of a person’s self—are not only important for a person’s health and well-being, but can also
make or break a person’s ability to perform in the classroom. “This is really crucial to our way of knowing, our way of thinking, and our way of understanding,” said Sonia Prevost-Derbecker, vicepresident of Education for Indspire. “We know in our communities that that balance is important, and that it benefits our ability to learn, and our parent’s abilities to engage… and there are so many outcomes to a healthy balance, we want to include it in education,” she said. Also included is the effect of trauma on learning ability in the classroom. And one very specific and widely-known kind of trauma experienced by many First Nations people is the intergenerational trauma that resulted from the Indian residential school system. Indspire announced they will soon be tackling this issue in Indigenous education with inspiration coming from the final recommendations released by Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada earlier this year. “We’re looking at developing a five-day program we could
implement across the country in various helping fields, for various helping professionals… like Child Welfare workers,” said Prevost-Derbecker. “I think there’ll be pieces around the history and a greater understanding of (residential schools) and then talk about strategies in moving forward,” she said. Plans for the program are just getting underway now, so the structure isn’t clear, but PrevostDerbecker hopes to have it made fully available to the public by March 2016. As for her own takeaway message from the conference, Prevost-Derbecker was most impressed by the hard-work and dedication of the more than 600 professional educators who attended the conference. “While there are many challenges in our community, this conference really emphasized the strength our communities have to offer, and our educators have to offer,” said PrevostDerbecker. “And no matter what the media says, this brought about a new understanding of all the kinds of success we’re really having,” she said.
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[ book reviews ]
Hockey’s Reggie Leach a straight shooter in new book
My Story: Reggie Leach The Riverton Rifle Written by Reggie Leach Published by Greystone Book Reviewed by Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
When he was in the prime of his professional playing days, Reggie Leach was one of the National Hockey League’s most prolific scorers. It’s little wonder then that Leach continues to be a straight shooter these days. His recently released autobiography published by
Greystone Book called The Riverton Rifle tells it just like it was. He manages to stay humble and doesn’t omit the bad parts, which included his excessive drinking, the breakup of his first two marriages and a stint at a rebab facility in New Jersey. The Riverton Rifle concludes with a chapter titled Full Circle, in which Leach, who has been sober for 30 years, talks about his current life. Married for a third time, Leach lives in Aundeck Omni Kaning on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. He spends a good chunk of his time assisting his son Jamie, who was also a pro hockey player, with the Shoot To Score hockey school. The elder Leach is also a sought after motivational speaker, who prides himself on being an Aboriginal role model. Leach preaches the importance of making good choices in life. As he himself knows, at times bad decisions are made. He stresses to never blame anyone else for those choices. Leach, a member of the 1975 Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers, netted a career high 61 goals in 80 matches the following season. The Ojibwe, who grew up in the Manitoba community of Riverton, played in more than 1,000 games during his 13-season NHL career.
Leach devotes a chapter in The Riverton Rifle (a nickname he acquired for his accurate shooting) to his championship season with the Flyers. The chapter, simply dubbed The Cup, includes numerous recollections of the Flyers’ playoff run. Though he was part of a Philadelphia club nicknamed The
Broad Street Bullies because of their aggressive and intimidating play, one can’t help but secretly cheer for him as he describes the pandemonium inside the club’s locker room after clinching the Cup. Leach also details the bedlam in the ensuing championship parade through Philly streets, which
included a nude woman running alongside the players on the route. Even those who did not grow up as Flyers’ fans can be forgiven for feeling happiness for Leach as he concludes the chapter by stating how special it was – even more so today than back then – to have his childhood dream come to fruition thanks to plenty of hard work. The expression It Takes A Village To Raise A Child is certainly true in Leach’s case. He was born to a pair of young unmarried parents in Winnipeg. But when he was a mere few weeks old he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents who raised him in Riverton. Starting from a young age, members of the community would give Leach some odd jobs to do. It wasn’t until Leach was 11 years old that he found out the man who would drop by for visits for a few days was his biological father. Despite ups and downs, The Riverton Rifle details how Leach became a winner on and off the ice. Personalized signed copies of The Riverton Rifle ($35, plus shipping) are available by contacting Leach directly at email@example.com or by sending him a message via Facebook through his page at w w w. f a c e b o o k . c o m / reggie.leach.16
Honest, profane, difficult look at the 60’s Scoop
Bearskin Diary Written by Carol Daniels
Published by Harbour Publishing Reviewed by Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
A novel recently published by well-known Canadian journalist Carol Daniels brings to light issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women. Bearskin Diary is the story of
a young girl who was taken from her family by the Canadian government, and placed in foster care during the 1960’s. To Daniels, the “60’s Scoop” was one of the last great efforts at the assimilation of Aboriginal Canadians, but the effect of that historic act left a devastating mark. “There’s lot of things people aren’t going to like… there’s sexuality, and some really ugly behavior,” said Daniels. “Not necessarily from the main character, though she does her fair share. But it’s a really frank look at racism, and a brutal look at what First Nations have to go through,” she said. Daniels, who often writes children’s literature and short stories, acknowledges the book is much darker than many of her other works. But she also acknowledges because the issues raised in the book are real issues, faced by real people, being honest and sometimes even profane is important. The plight of the main character, which includes broken family ties, experiences with abuse, and the erasure of her identity—all after-effects of the 60’s Scoop—is talked about candidly in the book, and according to Daniels, for good
reason. “Sometimes I think ‘What if anyone had done that to me?’ I was a single Aboriginal woman with children, and if they came and said ‘You’re not married, you’re not capable of taking care of these kids,’ I think ‘Oh my God, that would have destroyed me’,” said Daniels. The novel has actually been in the works for nearly eight years, but raising three children, and working as a full-time news anchor kept her from finishing earlier. Her children being her biggest concern in life, gave her extra empathy for her characters’ griefs, and outside research added fuel to her fire. “The young lady in the novel is placed with a Ukrainian family, so I had to do research on the customs you would have in your family… I didn’t know Ukrainian families were put in concentration camps in Canada during World War I. That made for a good story because the grandmother could identify with her granddaughter (the main character) who was Cree,” she said. Even Daniels’ own artwork is featured on the cover. The piece, in real life, is a 5-ft by 4-ft painting modelled after a story told to her by an Aboriginal
Elder. The Elder vividly recalls running to hide as a child, every time he heard the Indian Agent’s vehicle driving up along the road near his home. The man’s experiences took place before the 1960’s, but because the government was already taking Aboriginal children from their families to be placed in Indian residential schools, that fear was already commonplace. “It’s made with dirt, and acrylic, and all sorts of materials,” said Daniels of her painting. “And if you look closely, there are skulls in the body of the Indian Agent. I’m happy they went with my image, because for the story of the scoop up, it was the same thing…” she said of the similarities between stolen children in the residential school system, and the stolen children of the 1960’s. Daniels’ novel has actually been placed on the winter syllabus at the First Nation’s University in Regina. And she is eager to educate the public about the larger picture behind her novel. As for her favorite part of the story, she is most proud of the fact that the main character, Andy, at one point is finally able to come to terms with her life
experiences, and challenge some of the identity issues she has picked up along the way. “She goes to a powwow,” said Daniels. “And she’s terrified because she doesn’t know what to expect. But before you get to that part you realize she’s got a lot of ideas that are not hers that have come to her because of her brown skin...† And she’s touched by her experience, in a good way that changes her life,” she said. This is where Daniels really hopes she’ll be able to reach people. While the novel is only one year of the main character’s life, it’s the year that is most significant. Daniels hope that as the main character unravels some of her trauma, readers, too, will find a new understanding of themselves, or people they might know. “If there are people out there who don’t know anything about our culture, it might serve as a starting point to learn about us,” she said. “And if you happen to be an adult who doesn’t know anything about the culture because of the 60’s scoop, I’m hoping they’ll say ‘Gee, I need to learn, and undo some of the things that were said to me…’ And stop believing somehow they aren’t worthy’,” she said.
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Tri-lateral partnership agreement to seek medical, first aid, safety contracts Bear Dog Enterprises Ltd., a Tahltan First Nations-owned company, Hobiyee Management Ltd., a Nisga’a First Nations-owned company, and Western Protection Alliance Inc. of Richmond, B.C. have signed a tri-lateral partnership agreement to seek medical, first aid, safety contracts within the Tahltan and Nisga’a territories. “Our first priority will be to engage with Pretium, owner of the Brucejack Project, with the interest of continuing to provide these services for the Project, and look forward to a long and good working relationship with them,” reads a press statement. Western Protection Alliance Inc. provides safety and security services to the mining, oil and gas, and extractive industries. “Hobiye’e Management’s partnership with Bear Dog Enterprises and Western Protection Alliance ensures jobs and training for Aboriginal people tied to current and imminent industrial projects in Northwest BC,” said Peter Lambright of Hobiyee. “This joint venture is a bridge for individuals and families of local First Nations to access
the economic prosperity gained from use of the resources on their traditional territories.”
Wild salmon at risk The First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance wants progress on the implementation of the Cohen Commission recommendations. It has asked the newlyappointed Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo for a meeting to discuss “the minimal returns of this year’s wild salmon runs in BC” and “risks to wild salmon habitat.” An open letter sent to the minister states the Alliance “is extremely disappointed and frustrated by the state of BC’s wild salmon stocks and the inaction of federal and provincial authorities to enact the recommendations and Calls-to-Action of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.” The letter states industrial effluents entering critical salmon habitat with the approvals of government, and fish farm expansion will have “negative consequences” on wild salmon. “A moratorium on the
expansion of all finfish aquaculture ventures along the BC coast needs to be implemented until further evidence is gathered on the negative impacts these installations have on our wild salmon,” reads the release. “This year’s runs have made it abundantly clear that our wild salmon stocks are in grave danger, and require immediate action to preserve their habitat.”
Reject PNW LNG on Lelu Island Northern British Columbia First Nations leaders, scientists, business owners, unions, university groups, and faith groups have signed on to a letter written by Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to reject the Pacific Northwest (PNW) LNG plant proposed for Lelu Island and Flora Bank, and to cancel test-drilling at the site. Lelu Island is part of the Yahaan’s territory of the Gitwilgyoots. He and his supporters have occupied the island since August, turning away geotechnical contractors working for PNW LNG.
“PNW LNG is poised to cause irreparable damage to the second largest wild salmon run in Canada and potential catastrophe for the fisheries economy thousands of people depend on.” Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition spokesman Greg Horne said “This is the first time that such widespread and unprecedented agreement has been reached in BC on LNG. From every corner of the province, we are all in agreement that Lelu Island and Flora Banks is the worst possible spot on the north coast to site an LNG facility.” Des Nobels, the Northern Outreach Coordinator for T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, said “Of all the thousands of miles of coastline, they chose the one location most critical for Skeena salmon.” “We are asking the Federal Government to respect the decision of our nation to say no to this project,” said Chief Yahaan. Lax Kw’alaams unanimously turned down a $1 billion offer from Petronas for permission to build PNW LNG on Lelu Island. “We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to reject PNW LNG and stand with us and communities
across the province to protect wild Skeena salmon for the sake of all future generations.”
Talks required on marine safety The Haida Nation passed a resolution demanding that the mass export of fossil fuel through its territory be prohibited. Kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation, said that if LNG is developed on the north coast we could see large LNG tankers passing through Haida territorial waters. Presently there are no adequate provincial or federal emergency response systems in place if a ship were to founder. “Should there be an accident our environment and way of life will experience significant damage,” Lantin said in a press statement. The Haida Nation wants to engage with the federal and provincial governments, as well as shipping industry, to explore ways to prevent and respond to marine vessel casualties. This includes the development of a marine emergency response system stationed on Haida Gwaii funded mostly by the shipping industry.
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PHOTO: IDLE NO MORE FACEBOOK
This action in Washington in April 2014 with Eriel Deranger, from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (left) and Crystal Lameman (right), from Beaver Cree First Nation, flanking singer-songwriter activist Neil Young at the Cowboy Indian Alliance’s “Reject and Protect” was just one of many protests aimed at TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.
Indigenous action played key role in Keystone rejection By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
United States President Barack Obama has rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam is grateful. “From those of us who live with the impacts of climate change every day, we want to take this opportunity to thank President Obama for his thorough review of the KXL pipeline and the leadership he has displayed with regard to impacts related to major pipeline projects and their source,” said Adam in a statement. Obama announced his decision on Nov. 6. It didn’t come as a surprise to anyone following the seven year controversial plight of the 1,900-km TransCanada Corporation’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would have moved petroleum from Hardisty, AB, to Steele City, Neb. From Nebraska, it would connect with existing
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pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to specialized refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Melina Laboucan-Massimo, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace and member of the Lubicon Cree, says there is no doubt that the combined campaign of Indigenous peoples, both in Canada and the US, and the wider environmental movement had an impact. “We were an integral part of the action,” she said. “I’m really excited about the potential of what climate leadership can actually look like when you see the rejection like this of a massive tarsands pipeline.” Premier Rachel Notley says she is not surprised by Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL pipeline but what did surprise her was the words he used. Along with saying the pipeline would “not serve the national interests of the United States,” he also called Alberta oil “dirty.” “I am disappointed by the way the US government chose to characterize our energy exports,” she said. “I think that it was not necessary to be quite
so critical in the way they described our energy product.” But Laboucan-Massimo says Obama was just saying it the way it is. “I was really glad to see the honesty and the thoroughness in which he responded because Ö. he went through the details really well and addressed the various issues a lot of critics would have. I was happy to see his strong words,” she said. Laboucan-Massimo holds that this is a signal to new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow Obama’s lead. In announcing his new cabinet, Trudeau stressed the importance of the environment, appointing Catherine McKenna in the new ministry of environment and climate change. “Following the lead of President Obama, Indigenous peoples of Canada can work with Prime Minster Trudeau to strengthen our relationships and introduce progressive climate policy that will usher us into a new future that respects our lands and our rights, and our planet,” said Adam. Notley says Obama’s decision
underscores Alberta’s and Canada’s need to act decisively on climate change. “The decision today underlines our need to improve our environmental record, enhance our reputationÖ. This highlights that we need to do a better job. That’s why I am pleased about the work that’s ongoing right now towards a new climate change plan for Alberta,” she said. The Wildrose Opposition holds that striking down Keystone XL means oil will have to be transported to market by rail, which according to a Fraser Institute study, which found that rail is over 4.5 times more likely to experience an incident when compared to pipelines in Canada. “If the NDP really care about safety, the environment, and Alberta’s prosperity, they will quit trying to play both sides and devote themselves to getting pipelines built as soon as possible,” said Wildrose shadow energy minister Leela Aheer, in a statement. Notley says she will put her efforts now into Energy East and Kinder Morgan
Transmountain expansion (heading west) pipeline projects “because in my view they are the more realistic ones. They’re also the ones that allow for more flexibility in job creation here in Alberta.” Notley noted that the Northern Gateway expansion had “more challenges.” Notley stressed that moving oil to foreign markets would not only benefit Albertans but Canadians as well. She said she spoke to Trudeau and he agreed with her that collaboration was needed to get the infrastructure completed to move oil to market. Laboucan-Massimo says Obama’s decision puts both politicians and the oil industry on notice. “I think it’s really exciting to see that Indigenous people, we are on the frontlines of environmental degradation and as well on the front lines of climate change but we’re also on the front lines of solutions. The Indigenous people throughout this campaign helped lead the way and it shows how our voices are being heard,” she said.
Two sentenced in Yellowbird shooting death The two men who admitted killing Chelsea Yellowbird on the Samson Cree Nation have been sentenced. Darren Ty Wacey Applegarth, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May and will serve a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years. His accomplice, Randall Omeasoo, 21, pleaded to manslaughter and was given a†nine-year sentence. Shelby Minde, 22, charged with firstdegree murder in Yellowbird‘s death, is still before the courts. Yellowbird was shot dead at a backyard party on Sept. 5, 2011. Her death was the second in the Yellowbird family in a two-month time span, with her five-year-old nephew Ethan Yellowbird shot dead in a drive-by shooting in July 2011as he slept in his home. Three teenage gang members pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case of Ethan and received the maximum youth sentence of three years each. The deaths of the Yellowbirds caused the band council to centre their efforts on
gang violence in Maskwacis. The arrests in Chelsea Yellowbird’s case were attributed to “community engagement” as help came forward.
First Nation casinos in Alberta see the most profit A recent online article on www.gamingpost.ca about First Nations casinos says Alberta “sees the most profits from its First Nations casinos.” Five First Nations operate casinos in the province: Stoney Nakoda Casino, in Morley; Eagle River Casino and Travel Plaza, in Whitecourt (Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation); Grey Eagle Casino, in Calgary (Tsuut’ina Nation); Casino Dene, in Cold Lake (Cold Lake First Nation); and, River Cree Resort and Casino, in Enoch (Enoch Cree Nation). Next on the most-profit list are First Nations casinos in Ontario, then Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba. British Columbia First Nations casinos are at the bottom of the list as B.C. has the largest number of corporation-operated casinos. A
study conducted by University of Lethbridge associate professor Yale Belanger in 2012 indicated that First Nations casinos improve the employment and investment opportunities, provide stable funding and enhance community infrastructure for the operating First Nations. Belanger also noted that “significant revenues” are directed from First Nations casinos to the provinces and used for general revenue.
FCPP says standard scale for Chiefs’ compensation needed The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has published “Financial Compensation of First Nations Leaders,” written by Dr. Tom Flanagan and Laura Johnson. The document is based on information available through the First Nations Fiscal Transparency Act, passed in 2013, and now brought into question by a recent Federal Court decision. In a legal challenge levied by six First Nations, including four in Alberta, a judge ruled that the federal government could not
force the bands to file their financial statements in accordance to the FNFTA. However, working on the information available, Flanagan and Johnson say there is great variation in the amount of money paid to Chiefs and council and recommend that a standard scale for compensation be developed and distinction be made between payments for carrying out governmental functions and those for running business enterprises. The executive summary states, “Greater transparency should lead to more efficiency in First Nations government as well as more informed and less acrimonious public debate about compensation.” Flanagana professor at the University of Calgary, is chair of the Aboriginal Futures program for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Johnson has a master degree in public policy program.
Man’s remorse, “tragic” family history nets him four and a half year jail term Nakoa Ernest Potts, 28, of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation has been sentenced to four and a half years on a manslaughter charge. Potts told police that he†had†been drunk and hadn’t slept for 13 days because of his methamphetamine use when he stabbed his younger brother Warren Fox Potts over a drug debt in the hamlet of Glenevis on July 1, 2014. Nakoa Potts had been charged with seconddegree murder but was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Mary Moreau ruled the stabbing was “spontaneous and impulsive” as a result of the killer being intoxicated by alcohol and drugs and suffering from a lack of sleep and said she found his remorse to be “genuine” and “from the heart.” Moreau also noted Potts has ADHD and has a “tragic” family history with a “dysfunctional” upbringing punctuated by sexual abuse, violence and substance abuse. Prior to being sentenced, Potts apologized in court. He will be credited with two years for time spent in pre-trial custody so has two and a half years left to serve.
Adam re-elected for third term as ACFN Chief Members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation have reelected Chief Allan Adam for his third term. He will head a new slate of councilors: Raymond Cardinal, Michelle Voyageur, Jonathan Bruno, and Teri Lynn Villebrun. This year’s election saw four candidates running for Chief and 16 candidates running for four council positions. The platforms of the candidates varied from concerns about the environment, economy, housing, education, employment and Elders and youth. Adam continued to run on a platform of the protection and
preservation of Treaty and Aboriginal rights, lands and resources. The ACFN holds an election every four years for all leadership positions.
Ambrose chosen as interim Conservative leader As Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Rona Ambrose becomes new interim leader of the federal Conservative Party, the Progressive Canadian Party is pushing for the re-birth of the Progressive Conservatives. The Conservative Party was born from the merger of the PCs and Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party). Ambrose was chosen following voting under a preferential ballot process, which allowed both MPs and Conservative senators to vote. Stephen Harper stepped down as party leader on election night as the Trudeau Liberals were swept into power. Meanwhile, Progressive Canadian Party leader Sinclair Stevens said in a letter, “Canadians have moved on. It is time for what was purposely called briefly the “Conservative Party” to do so as well. It is time for Progressive Conservatives to come together to restore vision to the party which first built a strong, united Canada to take heart in the decision of Canadians. It is time to consider a Progressive Conservative alternative.”
Reconciliation needs long term funding in Edmonton budget As the City of Edmonton begins its budget deliberations RISE wants to ensure that reconciliation receives a long term financial commitment. In addition to verbal commitments to reconciliation made by Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, there needs to be dedicated resources to making it happen, says the organization in an email. The three-year operating budget being considered by council includes $250,000 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action that are directed at municipalities. However, an additional request for $558,000 annually has been turned down. “Is piecemeal funding for reconciliation okay with you?” asks RISE. The organization is encouraging people to speak out in a joint effort to “share our message of reconciliation directly with city council” during a public hearing on the budget on Nov. 23. RISE, or Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton, is a group of citizens working toward educating and reconciling and making a change in Edmonton.
Edmonton to redevelop aging townhouses, apartments for affordable housing The City of Edmonton plans to take an 80-unit housing complex in the northeast neighbourhood of Londonderry, which is no longer fit for human habitation, and replace it with a high-density mixed-income building. The rents from the
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more expensive units would subsidize those of people with lower incomes. The model is based on Regent Park in Toronto, which contains more than 2,000 units with rent geared to income. Mayor Don Iveson said if the plan works, the city will be able to build similar projects more quickly. The Edmonton pilot project is just one step in a strategy to build and maintain the number affordable housing units as the demand climbs. The city’s plan is to redevelop the aging townhouse and apartment sites scattered throughout its 1970s’ neighbourhoods with a higher density mix of both market and low-income housing. Iveson said the number of people in need of help when it comes to†housing has risen†more than 30 per cent in the last 10 years, while the city has only grown about 20 per cent. Council discussed the plan in its October meeting and agreed to lobby the federal government for the dollars. Council approval is still required for the housing plan.
ED who shifted EAC towards equity, cultural diversity announces retirement Edmonton Arts Council executive director Paul Moulton will be retiring effective Dec. 31. Moulton has contributed extensively to the organization’s success since he began in April 2013. Under his direction, EAC saw in important internal shift towards improving equity and cultural diversity, including an emphasis on diverse representation on peer juries, the formation of a boardsupported Aboriginal initiatives committee, and increased accessibility of EAC funding. The EAC also hosted a gathering for Indigenous artists from across the prairies and announced Alex Janvier as the signature artist for Rogers Place. Most recently, EAC grants went to Aboriginal author Wayne Arthurson to complete his fourth novel in the Leo Desroches mystery series, and visual artist Heather Shillinglaw to produce a body of artwork for her exhibition Dreaming With My Great Mother, Dirinene, Nikawinaw Askiy. The EAC board will announce recruitment
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plans in the New Year.
Homeward Trust kicks off campaign to reach most vulnerable homeless Homeward Trust has launched its Edmonton 20,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement of communities to permanently house 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable homeless people by July 1, 2018. The campaign will create a registry to identify needs, prioritize housing efforts, and measure progress throughout the campaign. The focus will be on housing the most vulnerable, chronically homeless in Edmonton – those who have lived on the streets for more than one year, and who face grave health and safety risks because of their homelessness. Street outreach is an essential part of the campaign. “In spite of our success with the Housing First program, we haven’t been able to reach everyone. There are still those who have been living on the streets for years, and we have to do more as a community to ensure we are reaching all the chronically homeless in our city,” said Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust. She said Homeward Trust and its partners have been able to assist 5,000 people in finding permanent housing. November is National Housing month.
CNFC continues talks for revised Edmonton UAS November 9, 2015. The Canadian Native Friendship Centre, in partnership with the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association, Alberta Aboriginal Relations, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in Alberta region, and the City of Edmonton, continues its community consultation in November and December under the Urban Aboriginal Strategy. In the initial consultations held in March, participants identified the areas to focus. Recent discussion centred around housing. Sessions are open to Aboriginal peoples living in urban centres, organizations providing programs and services, and other stakeholders. Participants in these sessions will identify strategies and actions that will
be incorporated into a revised UAS Edmonton community strategic plan. This Edmonton strategic plan will in turn inform an Alberta-wide UAS regional strategic plan, which will guide
National Association of Friendship Centres and ANFCA investments from the Urban Partnerships and Community Capacity Supports funding streams under the federal Urban
Calgary focuses on development of cultural plan The City of Calgary is
developing a cultural plan and is looking for public input. The plan will examine cultural resources as they currently stand, identify gaps, and plan for future needs and opportunities. Throughout November, citizens may participate in person at one of six community sounding sessions across the city, contribute to an online discussion forum through The City’s†engage!†portal, or answer a telephone survey conducted by Forum Research. Input from Calgarians will help the city identify perceptions of culture and its value, as well as collect ideas and aspirations for Calgary’s cultural future. “As our city and its culture continues to grow and evolve, the development of a cultural plan gives us an opportunity to define what makes Calgary special and how we can improve the quality of life for our rapidly growing and diverse population which includes First Nations people as well as newcomers,” said Sarah Iley, manager of culture. A key
issue being addressed by the cultural plan is how Calgary can build capacity to “plan culturally,” meaning how both the city and key partner agencies might better integrate cultural priorities, goals and opportunities across a wide range of planning activities, enabling and encouraging considerations of culture to be at the centre of planning initiatives moving forward. The cultural plan for Calgary will support long-term planning, but will also provide specific recommendations and actions to be implemented over the next 10 years.
Siksika runner wins gold in World Indigenous Games Rilee Good Eagle was recognized on Nov. 4 in a special ceremony at the Sportsplex on Siksika First Nation. The young athlete won a gold meld in the 8 km run at the World Indigenous Games
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seven First Nation communities, DBCFS and the five children’s aid societies in that jurisdiction to continue to work cooperatively when child welfare concerns arise within one of the First Nation territories. It extends to members who live outside the First Nation community. Already a successful document for 10 years, the renewed version will guide the CAS and First Nation communities through the transition period towards the designation of DBCFS. “The child welfare system supports an agenda for sustainable Aboriginal and First Nations, Metis and Inuit child welfare services. This revised protocol is an important next step in the transition of DBCFS towards designation as a mandated child and family services agency,” said Jennifer Wilson, executive director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society, a signatory to the protocol.
Shannen Koostachin, the Cree youth who led the struggle for a new school in Attawapiskat.
New sculpture of teen activist unveiled A monument commemorating Shannen Koostachin, a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat First Nation, was unveiled on Oct. 24 at the New Liskeard waterfront.
Koostachin led the struggle for a new school in Attawapiskat, and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Tyler Fauvelle, based in Sudbury, created the figurative bronze sculpture. It depicts
Shannen dancing in traditional regalia, and features symbols reflecting her Cree heritage. Jules Arita Koostachin, multimedia artist and a relative of Shannen’s, led the commemorative project, which included installing butterfly
PHOTO: TYLER FAUVELLE
benches near the monument, and the production of a short documentary film. Kenneth (Jake) Chakasim, lecturer with the Laurentian University School of Architecture, and Rick Miller, an accomplished Canadian photographer and videographer, were part of the project team. When the only elementary school in Attawapiskat was condemned, and replaced with portable trailers that were cold and mice-infested, Shannen led the youth-driven Attawapiskat School Campaign, persistently advocating for a “safe and comfy” school. The students eventually succeeded, but Shannen didn’t live to see it. She was 15 years old when she died suddenly in a motor vehicle accident in 2010.†Family, friends and community started Shannen’s Dream, a campaign for proper schools for all First Nations children across Canada, and for quality, culturally-based education.
New protocol welcomes new child services agency Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services signed a revised protocol concerning the delivery of Child and Family Services. This is the first time that DBCFS is a signatory to this agreement. The signing of this protocol signifies the renewed commitment between the
Projects are collaboration between Indigenous, nonIndigenous artists Three works in Ontario are among six inaugural reconciliation projects† to receive funding through the Canada Council for the Arts, / the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation /and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. They are the Reconciliation Film Project for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Productions Cazabon in Ottawa; Project Charlie by Terril Calder, Joseph Boyden, Jason Ryle, and Geeta Sondhi in Toronto; and Opening the Doors to Dialogue by Samuel Thomas in Niagara Falls. This initiative aims to / promote artistic collaborations between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal artists, investing in the power of art and imagination to inspire dialogue, understanding and change.
Sinclair receives honourary degree from Carleton At its annual fall convocation on Nov. 14, Carleton University conferred an honourary degree upon Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sinclair received a Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of his stellar career in the judiciary as well as his dedication, care and service to Aboriginal and First Nations peoples and to all Canadians in leading the TRC.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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Inquest starts to hears first evidence after 11 years By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
A jury has begun hearing the details surrounding the deaths of seven First Nations youth spanning an 11 year period. The youth came to Thunder Bay from their remote northern communities to continue their secondary education. Dr. David Eden, the coroner who is presiding over the inquest, thanked the jury “for the commitment and personal sacrifices involved in your involvement in an inquest of this length and of this much importance to the community.” The inquest will be a sixmonth, three-phase affair that promises to be disturbing and emotionally draining if the first two days are an indication of what is to come. The jurors heard that all seven youth, six of whom were under the legal drinking age, had been consuming alcohol. Forensic pathologist Dr. Toby Rose and forensic toxicologist Karen Woodall testified that one death was directly attributed to “acute ethanol toxicity” while four others had alcohol as a contributing factor. The two deaths ruled not alcohol-related were that of Paul Panachese, 21, who was found passed out on the floor in his home Nov. 12, 2006; and Jordan Wabasse, 15 years old, who was missing for three months before his body was
found in the MacIntyre River in May 2011. There was no known toxicological or anatomical cause for Panachese’s death. Rose said it was likely his death was due to a genetic heart condition and she suggested that his close family members be tested. In reference to Wabasse, Rose said she found “relatively low” concentration of alcohol in his blood and said he drowned. The cause of Robyn Harper’s death in January 2007 was determined to be “acute ethanol toxicity.” She had a blood alcohol concentration of 338mg/100mL. Harper, 18, died two days after coming to Thunder Bay. Rose and Woodall said that the alcohol level in the blood and urine were indications that alcohol was a contributing factor in the deaths of the other four youths: Curran Strang, 18, who died in 2005; : Reggie Bushie,15, who died in 2007; Jethro Anderson, 14, who died in 2008; and Kyle Morrisseau, 17, who died in 2009. Christa Big Canoe, counsel for six of the families, said getting to the truth was important. “And so it’s been a long wait. And the families’ priority and the mandate is to ensure one thing all families share (and that) is the prevention of future deaths of any youth coming from remote First Nations communities,” she said. But making
recommendations to prevent further deaths occurring in similar circumstances is “optional,” said Eden, as set out by the Coroner’s Act. He also said that the jury could make no legal findings. Recommendations could be forthcoming in a number of areas, considering the breadth of testimony the jurors will hear. Areas of evidence include how students from remote areas become eligible for school in Thunder Bay; how boarding homes operate; how first responders and others respond to reports of missing children; programs that are available to prevent the deaths of First Nations children; and what obstacles and challenges faced the students who died, both in Thunder Bay and in their home communities. Status to take part in the inquest has been granted to the
Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, which operates the Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school, which six of the seven students attended; Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which comprises 49 communities, including the communities from which the students came; Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council of the Chiefs of Ontario, which has youth representatives from all First Nations in the province; Attorney General of Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; the province of Ontario; the provincial advocate for children and youth; Thunder Bay police service board and Thunder Bay police service; and the City of Thunder Bay. The inquest will be divided into three phases. The first phase includes evidence about the seven deaths, which took place from
2000 to 2011. The jury will be tasked with determining the circumstances surrounding each death. The second phase will provide broader evidence looking at policy and context, including operation of the schools and boarding home. The third phase will provide information that will speak to potential recommendations. “Like any institution here…. (NAN) recognizes that it has to improve itself and it looks forward to the guidance it can receive from you as a jury in terms of how future deaths can be prevented,” said NAN counsel Julian Falconer. The long awaited inquest got underway on Oct. 5, in less than favourable conditions as the smallest courtroom was employed. The inquest moved to the largest courtroom the following day.
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Hall of Honour will include Day in 1994. most decorated First Nation One in four off-reserve soldier A Hall of Honour in the Aboriginals suffer food Legislative Building was insecurity unveiled Nov. 10 by Premier Greg Selinger and Deanne Crothers, special envoy for military affairs. The hall has a complete listing of all First World War regiments that were based out of Manitoba and also displays plaques honouring various military regiments. Selinger said the government is planning additions to the Hall of Honour to include dedications to Lt.-Col. William ‘Billy’ Barker of Dauphin, the most decorated serviceman in Canadian history, and Sgt. Tommy Prince of Winnipeg, Canada’s most decorated First Nation’s soldier. It was also announced that the Legislative Building will introduce a daily ceremony for the ‘turning of the pages’ for the Books of Remembrance. Manitoba was the first province to recognize Aboriginal Veterans
Detailed information on food security stemming from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey revealed that Manitoba has the highest proportion of off-reserve First Nations people with either “low” or “very low” food security. Twenty-five per cent of Manitoba’s off-reserve First Nations population suffers food insecurity. Saskatchewan is next with 21 per cent and British Columbia with 19 per cent. Québec had the lowest level†of food insecurity with 13 per cent. “It demonstrates the reality that we see in our community work across the province; that Indigenous people in this province are far more likely to be more food insecure than the rest of the population,” said Stefan Epp-Koop, acting executive director for Food Matters Manitoba. The food insecurity rate for all Manitobans
is between eight and 10 per cent. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey does not track people living on reserves. “If you focus in on remote communities in Northern Manitoba, [food insecurity] is sometimes as high as 75 per cent,” said Epp-Kopp.
NCTR officially opened The lighting of a sacred fire Nov. 3 marked the official opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. The centre was built at the University of Manitoba. “In taking on this responsibility, the university is upholding its commitment to build respectful relationships between Indigenous and nonIndigenous peoples,” said David Barnard, president and vicechancellor at the University of Manitoba. “The centre will provide opportunities for survivors, families of survivors, researchers, students, and the public to interact with the oral
and documented history of residential schools.” The NCTR will provide a permanent home for more than five million documents, which include the stories that thousands of residential school survivors told to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC documented a legacy of abuse and racism against Aboriginal Canadians in a system of state-sponsored, church-run schools that the report’s authors said amounted to a policy of “cultural genocide.” The TRC’s summary report, released in June, documented “a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.” The TRC made 94 recommendations for reconciliation in its report. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to implementing all of them. The TRC was created through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement as was the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Law used to push back on poor water quality Lawyers and policy experts met Nov. 5 with First Nations people at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Human Rights Research for a workshop that tackled ways to bring the power of the law to the persistent issues of bad water on reserves. The centre’s director Karen Busby and Métis lawyer Aimée Craft received a public grant four years ago to look at finding solutions to best address the problems. The group examined
the different water concerns within First Nations communities and which approaches would work best to push the issue. A CBC News investigation last month revealed 20 reserves across the country have had drinking water advisories longer than 10 years. The numbers show that 400 out of 618 First Nations in the country have had water problems between 2004 and 2014. There are a number of routes First Nations can take, said Busby, including making a claim in court for a constitutional law or international law violation or filing a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Fake headdresses banned at Jets games True North Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the Winnipeg Jets, have banned headdresses at the MTS Centre. Initially, TNSE said they would not ban fake headdresses after a Jets season ticket holder filed a complaint with TNSE. However, TNSE reconsidered its stand and issued a statement the same night the Jets played host to the Chicago Blackhawks. Owner Mark Chipmen met with Indigenous leaders, including Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and MLA Kevin Chief, then issued the statement, “After gaining probably a better understanding of that significance, we have decided that going forward we will no longer be allowing costume and non-authentic headdresses into MTS Centre for hockey events.”
Compiled by Shari Narine
Discover why Windspeaker is the most respected Aboriginal publication in Canada. Every month Windspeaker features award-winning coverage of the news and events important to Canada's Aboriginal people. Read news, editorials, columns, and features on topics ranging from politics to arts and entertainment – it's all in every issue of Windspeaker.
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P a g e [ 21 ]
[ health ]
First Nations critical in rescue on the water
Compiled by Shari Narine Day pledges to bring attention to national health concerns Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, who recently assumed responsibility for the Assembly of First Nations national health portfolio, has issued a call to action. He says health for First Nations people in Canada is deplorable and unconscionable and he will make a determined effort to raise the awareness on the crisis of First Nation health. He says following the election he and the national executive will work to secure sufficient health funding from the next federal government, which means revisiting the failed 2005 Kelowna Accord commitment of a $1.3 billion investment over five years to reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, diabetes, and obesity by 50 per cent within 10 years. The next federal government must fast-track this investment over two years, says Day, and also look at the lack of movement over the last decade and make-up for that level of investment. Also on the health priority list is addressing the current health disparities in the number of community health clinics, doctors and nurses, and addressing the increase in chronic diseases. “Not dealing with this crisis is only going to cause greater strain on Canada’s health care system, potentially pushing this matter toward more drastic measures of seeking resolve, such as litigation,” said Day in a statement.
Report condemns Aboriginal child protective services in BC
PHOTO: DEB STEEL
Joe Martin of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation leads people during a candlelight vigil on the dock at Tofino for the victims of the Leviathan II sinking.
The capsizing of the whale watching tour boat Leviathan II off the West Coast of Vancouver Island has brought the vulnerabilities of search and rescue capabilities into sharp focus. Many are calling for First Nations communities to have an official rescue role in search and rescue services. First Nations men fishing in the area where the Leviathan II was swamped by a rogue wave, sending 27 passengers and crew into the cold waters 14 km west of Tofino, were the only ones to see a single flare sent up by those struggling to survive. They rushed to the emergency and pulled several people from the waters, but their calls to the Coast Guard communications station in Prince Rupert proved frustrating. The communication centre in nearby Ucluelet had been recently closed by the Stephen Harper Conservative government, and those manning the Prince Rupert station, 650 kms away, didn’t know the local name for the rocky outcrop where the ship was in distress. On the Coast Guard charts, the area is called Cleland Island, but locals know the area as Bear Island. Tony Cook, a fisherman, was at the Tofino dock when he heard the emergency called in by Ahousaht fisherman Clarence Smith. He said the Coast Guard took a while to “clue in” and had Smith repeating himself over and over. Finally skipper Rob Barton of the Georgia Prince broke into the call. “Break, message relay,” he said. “He’s telling you there are people in the water, people on the
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rocks.” The Tyee newspaper talked to a Coast Guard employee who too was listening to the call. “It was very loud. The guy was talking about people in the water, there was screaming in the background.” Giving up on the Coast Guard, Smith turned to a place he knew where help was available. He called out to the community of Ahousaht, and water taxi boats were soon coming to the rescue from that community and nearby Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. They saved 21 people, recovered five. The body of one man has not been found. The next day, the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council called on newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “to reverse a decade of decline in marine search and rescue under the Harper government and invest in life-saving equipment in our First Nations communities.” “They’re the ones saving us anyway,” said Tony Cook. He said the First Nations’ quick response is what saved lives that day, and the Coast Guard response would have been too late. Joe Spears, manager director of the Horseshoe Bay Marine Group in West Vancouver, said the Leviathan sinking demonstrates how crucial First Nations are in emergencies on the water. Spears said the current structure for marine response is too ‘fragmented’. He said it would also be critical for the economy. “When you look at ecotourism, we’re bringing people to a very rugged and dangerous
coastline,” he told CBC. “We’re letting them loose, and then when something happens, we shouldn’t be thinking, well, we’ll think of something as it occurs.” NTC President Deb Foxcroft agrees. “As greater and greater numbers of tourists flock to experience our ‘Wild West Coast,’ this tragic accident highlights once again how suddenly a day on the water, even aboard a well-equipped vessel with a well-trained crew, can turn deadly.” “As in previous marine accidents in B.C. coastal waters, while the Coast Guard and Canadian Marine Search and Rescue scrambled to deploy their resources, local First NationsÖ responded to the distress flare and arrived in time to pull survivors out of the water. “Our Nuu-chah-nulth people have operated their vessels in B.C. coastal waters since time immemorial, and have accumulated a priceless body of knowledge. When a marine emergency arises, our people take to their boats without hesitation, often in extremely hazardous conditions.” Foxcroft pointed out the need for specialized equipment. “Not only should our communities be equipped with emergency warming blankets, night-vision goggles and defibrillators, but larger vessels would benefit from more sophisticated equipment such as forward-looking infrared (FLIR) devices that allow searchers to locate survivors even in extreme conditions. Ideally, each community would have the appropriate rescue and first aid equipment ready for immediate deployment.”
The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union has released a report that says the province’s protection services for Aboriginal children are culturally inappropriate and inadequately funded. Closing the Circle: A Case for Reinvesting in Aboriginal Child, Youth and Family Services in British Columbia was based on feedback from child protection workers represented by the union. The report comes at a time when multiple agencies are investigating the Sept. 18 death of Alex Gervais, 18. He fell or jumped from the fourth floor window of an Abbotsford hotel where he was living for months in violation of child welfare rules. Aboriginal children represent half of those in care in B.C., even though Aboriginal people account for only five per cent of the population. “As we all know too well, the existing system is broken, and desperately needs to be fixed,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in the foreword to this report. “Our social services system is overly complex and under resourced. It completely ignores our culture and history. It needs greater transparency and accountability.” In response to the report, Children’s Minister Stephanie Cadieux issued a statement saying her department would review the recommendations “in the context of the other work currently underway.”
CSC told to stop using standard psychological assessment Federal Court Justice Michael L. Phelan has ordered Correctional Services of Canada to stop using its standard psychological risk assessment on violent Aboriginal offenders. Phelan said in his ruling written Sept. 18 that Canada is lagging behind other countries in its efforts to eliminate bias. Five tests have been challenged: Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised, Violence Risk Appraisal Guide, Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide, Static 99, Violence Risk Scale – Sex Offender. Simon Fraser University professor Dr. Stephen Hart testified the tests were developed without considering Aboriginal cultures or perspectives. He also said there are ways psychiatrists can analyze the tests to rule out cross-cultural bias but CSC has not done that work. It is anticipated that the decision will impact provincial jails as well as the federal system.
Unique art approach increased dialogue about cervical cancer A pilot project that used art to open lines of communication between researchers and women about cervical cancer has seen success. Dr. Ingeborg Zehbe, who leads the Anishinaabek Cervical Cancer Screening Study, consulted with Dr. Pauline Sameshima, the Canada research chair in arts integrated studies at Lakehead University, to find innovative educational tools to promote screening for cervical cancer. Studies show that First Nations women endure notably higher rates of diagnosis and mortality due to cervical cancer as they are less likely to seek out medical care until it’s absolutely necessary. They have less access to education on health issues, and have to travel significant distances off reserve to get even limited access to health care. Sameshima integrated art into the education part of the project in an attempt to increase dialogue and communication.
Aboriginal wellness centre being considered for Yellowknife Within days of announcing plans to build a new hospital in Yellowknife, the health minister tabled a document which suggests the territory is moving toward a separate, standalone wellness centre. The undated document says the department is “working with Stanton Territorial Health Authority to define the needs for the development of a Territorial Aboriginal Wellness Centre.” The need for the wellness centre has been identified because traditional activities can be better accommodated there than in an acute care setting. In February, the Elders’ Council at Stanton Hospital called for the development of an Aboriginal wellness centre in the city. Health minister Glen Abernethy said a wellness
Sports Briefs By Sam Laskaris Honorary degree for sports leader
[ sports ]
Forward eyeing world competition with optimism
A First Nation sports leader has received an honorary degree from the University of Victoria. Baptiste Harry (Skip) Dick was presented with an honorary doctor of education degree on Nov. 10 in recognition of his First Nations advocacy work. Dick, who was born in Victoria, was taken as a youngster from his home and placed in a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. He was recognized for his work over decades in education and youth athletics. He has been a positive influence for countless Songhees Nation youth. Besides being involved with the Elders’ Voices program, which supports students, staff and faculty at the University of Victoria, Dick also co-founded the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. Dick also co-founded the Victoria T-Bird Soccer Club. And in 1989, the BC Lacrosse Association selected him as the Manager of the Year. The University of Victoria has been handing out honorary degrees since its first convocation in 1964. An honorary degree is the highest honor university officials can present to individuals for their distinguished feats in scholarship, research, teaching, creative arts or public service. Dick was one of two people to receive an honorary degree at the November convocation.
McCallum starring in Edinburgh Craig McCallum is making an immediate impact in his first professional hockey season. McCallum, who is from Saskatchewan’s Canoe Lake Cree Nation, is a rookie forward with the Edinburgh Capitals. The Scottish-based Capitals are members of the Elite Ice Hockey League, the top hockey circuit in the United Kingdom. McCallum, 26, had spent the past five seasons with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. He has been a valuable addition to the Capitals. He was averaging more than a point per game early on this season. And he was second in team scoring, having accumulated 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) through 21 contests. Only American Ryan Hayes, a six-year pro, had more points (33) among Edinburgh players. Prior to his university career, McCallum had also spent his final junior season in his home province, toiling for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL). McCallum had played his first two WHL seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Demons prepare for season The Ohsweken Demons are gearing up for yet another season in the Canadian Lacrosse League. The Demons, the only pro squad in North America that features an all-Native roster, are entering their fifth season in the circuit, which is more commonly known as CLax. As was the case last season, the Demons, who play their home contests at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville, Ont., will be one of five entrants in the upcoming CLax campaign. Also taking part will be the defending league champion Barrie Blizzard, Niagara Lock Monsters, Durham TurfDogs and the SouthWest Cyclops. The Demons won the league crown in the inaugural CLax season in 2012. The club also advanced to the league final in each of the past two seasons but were beaten by the Lock Monsters and Blizzard, respectively. All squads in the CLax play 10 regular season contests. The top four finishers then advance to the playoffs. The Demons’ first regular season match is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2015 against the visiting Blizzard.
Conference seeks presentations Organizers of the annual National Aboriginal Physical Activity Conference are putting the call out for those interesting in presenting or staging educational sessions. The fourth annual conference will be held this coming April 28 and April 29 at Vancouver’s Langara College. The event has become Canada’s largest conference on physical activity for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. The Aboriginal Physical Activity and Cultural Circle host the conference, which is both a networking and educational opportunity.
Roy begins pro career with Americans Eric Roy has launched his pro hockey career in Texas. The 21year-old Metis is a member of the Allen Americans, who compete in the East Coast Hockey League. This circuit is considered two steps below the NHL. Roy, a defenceman, played his entire junior career, five seasons, in the Western Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Roy is hoping to eventually move up the ranks in the pros. He had been selected in the fifth round, 135th over-all, by the Calgary Flames in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Roy is off to a solid start with the Americans, who are the defending ECHL champions. He had eight points, including five goals, in his first 12 contests with the squad. And despite being a rookie he was the top scoring defenceman on the Allen squad. Roy, who is from Beauval, Sask., had 45 points in 66 games in his final season with the Wheat Kings.
Tasza Tarnowski By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
Tasza Tarnowski has already had her share of hockey highlights in 2015, and she’s now waiting for some news that hopefully will make her year even better. Tarnowski, a 17-year-old whose mother is Ojibwe, is hoping to get a positive call from Hockey Canada officials. She’s waiting to hear whether she’s earned a spot on the national girls’ under-18 squad that will participate at its world tournament. That eight-nation event will be staged Jan. 8 to Jan. 15, 2016 in St. Catharines, Ont. Also participating in the tournament will be the Czech Republic, France, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Tarnowski, who lives in the small eastern Ontario community of Embrun, actually cracked the roster of the Canadian under-18 squad this summer. She suited up for the club, which won two out of its three contests versus the American under-18 side. All those matches were held in August in Lake Placid, N.Y. But heading into the world tournament, Canadian team officials might decide to make some changes to their roster, based on performances at the national girls’ under-18 championships, which concluded Nov. 8 in Huntsville, Ont. “I think my chances are good,” Tarnowski, a 5-foot-4, 140pound forward said of the likelihood of being part of the national team chosen for the global event. “I think I had a really good tournament at the nationals.” Tarnowski was a member of
the Ontario Red squad at that eight-team event. Her club ended up winning the gold medal by defeating Manitoba 2-1 in overtime in the championship final. Meanwhile, another entry from her province, the Ontario Blue squad, captured the bronze medal thanks to a 4-3 victory over British Columbia. For Tarnowski, it was her first time participating at the national tournament. But she was well acquainted with a number of those on her team. “It was so much fun,” she said. “I knew a lot of the other (Ontario) girls from before, from other camps and from other teams.” Tarnowski said the Ontario Red squad entered the nationals confident they could win the title. “We stuck to our game plan every game,” she said. “You couldn’t ask for a better feeling, especially winning the goldmedal game in overtime. It was so awesome.” Tarnowski is also a member of the Ottawa-based Lady Sens’ junior hockey squad. The club competes in the 20-team Provincial Women’s Hockey League. And when possible, she also plans to suit up for her Embrun high school squad this season. As for next year, however, Tarnowski, who is currently in Grade 12, will be off to Massachusetts. That’s because she’s agreed to accept a scholarship offer from Boston University. Numerous other postsecondary schools, on both sides of the border, had expressed interest in Tarnowski. This includes 16 Division 1 schools from the U.S., who were offering scholarships. But Tarnowski found Boston
University the most appealing. “They have a really good reputation,” she said. “And it’s not an easy school to get into. I’ll be a student/athlete there and not just an athlete.” Besides starring on the ice, Tarnowski also excels in the classroom. She had an over-all average of 89 per cent in her Grade 11 studies. And as midNovember approached, she was waiting to receive her mid-terms marks for this year. Tarnowski has yet to declare a major for Boston University. But she applied and has been accepted into the school’s Science department. If need be, she can switch to another program after her first year, at which point she must decide upon a major. Tarnowski is rather pleased she was able to finalize her postsecondary decision rather early on in her final year of high school studies. “It’s definitely a load off for me,” she said. “Since there were a number of schools that were interested there was a lot of stuff to sort through. It was definitely a big decision. It’s deciding where you’ll live and what you’ll do for the next four years.” Besides the recent national under-18 tournament, Tarnowski also competed in another Canadian championship in 2015. She was on the Ontario female squad that took part in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC). That event, which concluded in early May, was held in Halifax. Tarnowski and her Ontario teammates ended up winning the silver medal at that event. Saskatchewan edged Ontario 32 in the gold-medal game. Tarnowski is also eligible to participate in the 2016 NAHC, which will be held in Mississauga, Ont.
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[ careers & training ]
Optimist new data from unique survey The First Nations Information Governance Centre has released data from the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey that finds 90 per cent of First Nations parents said their children’s schools were supportive of First Nations culture. Under the heading of Early Childhood, the survey reports that 86 per cent said it was important that their children learn traditional teachings, but only 40 per cent of children reported regularly attending cultural activities (more than once a month). Nearly 250 First Nations communities in 10 provinces and two territories took part in the survey, reads a press release, with more than 21,000 First Nation children, youth, and adults canvased on topics spanning the life cycle “from early childhood education and development to youth employment and
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education to adult employment and labour force conditions.” Under the heading Education, 66 per cent reported that knowing and learning traditional teachings was “very important” to them. The survey determined that, of the adults taking part, 43 per cent had less than a high school diploma, 32 per cent had a high school diploma, and 24 per cent had completed some postsecondary education. Under employment, nearly 80 per cent work within their community, while just over 20 per cent commute outside their community for work. More than 40 per cent of those who work in their community work in Governance (i.e., community services or related fields). The study was conducted with the support of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in partnership with Health Canada. The information can be found on the website at www.FNIGC.ca
PHOTO: SHIRLEY HONYUST/ YENATLI:YO
Fire Song is a full-length feature film by writer and producer Adam Garnet Jones. The film premiered at the ImagineNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto in October. Filmed in Wabigoon First Nation in Northern Ontario it focuses on the turbulent life of a teenager named Shane, whose life takes a disturbing turn after the suicide of his younger sister, Destiny. Shane struggles with his mother’s depression, his grief, and the delay of his education. He’s also confronting his sexual identity in an intolerant world. Reaction from the audience, made up of faculty and students of First Nations Studies, of Film, and Photography programs was intense and there was a spirited question and answer session after the screening.
[ careers & training ]
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Mary Kappo Grandmother’s kindness and wisdom helped a nation By Dianne Meili
As Nov. 8, the birth date of her late grandmother, came and went a few weeks ago, Tanya Kappo reflected on the words written on her mentor’s gravestone. “She passed away last March. This month, she would have been 94 years old,” Tanya said. “I was thinking a lot about her and came to a realization. If I want to leave any kind of an impression in this world, it is to have people remember me as having had the same qualities as my grandmother.” Tanya referred to the words written on Mary Kappo’s gravestone: “A woman of Grace, Virtue, Kindness and Modesty. A tender heart and generous Spirit.” Born on Nov. 8, 1921, the only daughter of five children raised by Abraham Moses and Philomene Noskey, Mary witnessed more than her share of loss in her life, yet remained strong and compassionate. Her mother died when she was only a child, and her trapper father took her to the Sturgeon Lake Indian Residential School to be raised by nuns. Although it was a place that left terrible memories for many, she never spoke badly of her own experience. “She focused on the positive things, like learning to read, write, sew, play instruments and cook,” Tanya explained. Son Richard Kappo, chief of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, said what stands out for him about his mother was that she never spoke poorly of anyone, and that she sewed exquisite moccasins and mukluks. “She made sure everyone got something for Christmas. She couldn’t stand the idea of someone going without anything for Christmas so she made things and shopped for everyone,” he said. “When she couldn’t shop for presents as she got older, she gave gifts of money to the family.” Mary was such a devout Catholic that she was headed for the convent to become a nun upon graduating from school. That was until Dave Capot came
into the church and saw her. The two married in July, 1940, with a nun as their maid of honour, and a brother as their best man. As Dave’s second wife, Mary became an immediate mother to his two young children, Howard and Evelyn; together Dave and Mary had 10 more children. Happily, the marriage brought two mother figures into her life: mother-in-law Charlotte, and grandmother-in-law Madeleine. Under their tutelage, she reconnected with Indigenous ways and re-learned her Cree language. Soon, she was trapping and hunting small game to help feed her family. She cleaned animals, tanned hides and prepared lynx, marten and rabbit fur, teaching her children the same skills. Even though her domestic chores never ended, she supported her husband as chief of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, and often travelled with him to Indian Association of Alberta meetings. Mary suffered more loss in 1972. Not only did she lose her 15-year-old son Harold in a car accident, she and Dave were also in an automobile collision, resulting in her almost losing her leg. Nearly completely severed, doctors thought she would never walk on it again. Luckily, one physician believed the limb could be re-attached and sent her to a larger hospital; following months of physical rehabilitation she regained the use of it. Recuperation was slow, but never one to dwell on negativity, Mary honed her beading skills while she was laid up, creating distinct designs on the hide jackets, gloves and moccasins she sewed. Hardly having time to grieve the loss of son Howard in a 1977 vehicle accident, Mary faced the death of her beloved husband later that year. Though she missed him terribly, she said she took joy in seeing a part of him in her children and grandchildren. Now it was her responsibility to lead the family, and she made sure informal family gatherings
Mary Kappo with granddaughter Tanya Kappo
took place regularly, almost every time a moose was brought home. She led the efforts at the meat racks to cut and dry it for pansawan (drymeat). Yet another car accident would take its toll in 1978, leaving her grandson Dougie dead and her son Edwin paralyzed from the waist down; Mary became his day-to-day caretaker. Resolving to take a role in leading her people, beyond just her family, Mary served two terms as a councillor for her nation, and devoted herself to children’s advocacy. She lobbied chiefs to create a child welfare agreement for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Council, and was active on child welfare advisory groups until health reasons
required her to move into extended care. She also attended Elders meetings for the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta. “She never spoke often, but when she did, she had something to say and people listened,” said Tanya. When sewing hide became difficult, Mary knitted socks and gifted many pairs to students at the Sturgeon Lake School. “You could be talking to her about something so serious, and she’d be right there with you, but her fingers would be moving fast without her even looking down,” said daughter Margaret. “She kept her mind sharp, too, by making puzzles, working on word-find puzzles, and reading her romance novels.” Long chats with son, Richard,
kept him focused on being a good chief, especially when hard decisions had to be made, and Mary never tired of helping her family and other band members. “She was my biggest cheerleader in law school,” said Tanya. “Sometimes the going was rough, but I knew I had to keep going. There was no way I could let her down. “Despite the fact there are so many challenges facing our people, she was always able to see that goals could be made and accomplished. She was honest, and giving, and kind to everyone, not just her family. She treated Indigenous and non-Indigenous people the same way. She was like a grandmother to everyone.”
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[ careers & training ]
Fifteen Aboriginal Skills Employment and Training agencies in BC and 18 BC building trades unions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October to increase employment opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples in B.C. The MOU is an outcome of the 3rd Partners in Trades Forum. The MOU was signed by Gary Patsey, manager, Nisga’a Employment Skills and Training, and Building Trades Unions represented by Joe Shayler, Business Manager, UA Local 170.
Alberta Sweetgrass News Briefs (Continued from page 17.) Wrote Fleury, “He will take this extraordinary experience and enhance his leadership skills to empower his community far into the future.” The first World Indigenous Games drew around 2,000 athletes from nearly 20 countries. It kicked off Oct. 23 and went nine days.
Chiefs meet to plan strategy for meetings with Trudeau government Tsuut’ina First Nation played host on Nov. 2 to about 50 Chiefs and their proxies from Treaties 1-11. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde was also in attendance as the Chiefs gathered to plan strategy. “The message will be clear,” said AFN Alberta Regional Chief Craig Mackinaw. “We want the prime minister to follow up on his election promises.” The Liberal election platform made significant new commitments to First Nations around missing and murdered Aboriginal women, education funding, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Chiefs spent the day strategizing on how to move forward to turn promises into action. Mackinaw said a position paper will be drafted so it can be presented to the prime minister when various Chiefs meet with Justin Trudeau. “I’m cautiously optimistic that things will change but it’s just a wait and see how things will go as we move along here in the next few months and how we discuss these items with the federal government,” said Mackinaw.
Find more career listings online exclusively at: www.ammsa.com December 2015
About 100 teenagers from four schools in the Calgary area gathered on the Tsuut’ina reserve in November to use theatre to talk about First Nations history. The students, both Indigenous and nonIndigenous, worked with local troupe, Trickster Theatre, to create their own plays about First Nation treaties. Four schools took part in the project: Tatsikiisaapo’p middle school, Strathmore high Sshool, Sir John Franklin middle school and Tsuut’ina middle and high school. “[Theatre] enables us to do is it enables us to viscerally kind of understand it and get a greater sense of empathy with what we are looking at,” said David Chantler, the founder of Trickster Theatre.
Guilty plea in recreation centre arson Conroy Poucette, 20, of Morley, pleaded guilty to arson in connection with the Morley Recreation Centre complex. He also pleaded guilty to charges of break and enter to commit arson and being unlawfully in a dwelling house. Charges stem from incidences that occurred on July 12 when Cochrane RCMP were investigating two fires on the Stoney Nakoda Nation. The second fire was a grass fire a short distance from the recreation centre. Two suspects were located after an RCMP service dog tracked them to a residence not far from where the arsons occurred. Poucette received a suspended sentence with 18 months probation and a $200 fine. His co-accused, Tylen Tray Poucette,19, also of Morley, is still before the courts.
Theatre used to bridge divide between Aboriginal, non- Compiled by Shari Narine Aboriginal students
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