Volume 34 No. 17 • December 2016
Inform. Impact. Inspire. Independent. Indigenous. Bear Chief refuses to ‘shut up’ or ‘move on’ Page 7
Museum receives $7 million donation of Indigenous art Page 9
plus GST /HST where applicable
Amnesty International links big industry to violence against women Page 4
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Photo: April Bencze/ Heiltsuk Nation.
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Alb Swee erta tgras s Insid e ! Pag
Feds hoarding environmental data on sinking of tug, say Heiltsuk Shoreline cleanup crews have been deployed to try to recover diesel contaminating tidal beaches and rocky shoreline areas from the sunken Nathan E. Steward tug in Heiltsuk waters. The tug ran aground and sank on Oct. 13 in Seaforth Channel, about 20 kilometres west of Bella Bella. See story on page 7.
December I 2016
[ news ]
Siksika Nation hopes to benefit from medical marijuana operation
Siksika Herbz has applied to Health Canada for a licence to grow and harvest medicinal marijuana on the First Nation in southern Alberta By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
SIKSIKA FIRST NATION, Alta.
The Siksika First Nation through Siksika Herbz has applied to Health Canada for a licence to grow and harvest medicinal marijuana on the First Nation in southern Alberta. Application was made in July and Shane Breaker, general manager with Siksika Resource Development Ltd., is hopeful that in the 18 months it will take for the license to be approved, “we’ll be shovel-ready for the operation for the building construction and up and running.” Siksika Resource Development has joined with LDI Group in a 50-50 joint venture, which creates Siksika Herbz Ltd. “We partnered with LDI Group to understand the operation in the growing of the product. With LDI Group we’ll navigate how we move forward in the market place with distribution and distribution partners when we get there,” said Breaker. He said that LDI Group has operations in Kelowna, B.C., and has experience dealing with Health Canada. “So they bring the expertise of operations to the table. What we’re going to bring is the actual facility and land and location for this. And we’ll learn,” he said. “We’re excited to partner.” Siksika Herbz Ltd. has committed to fund the $8.2 million, 25,000 square-foot state-of-the-art production and distribution facility to be located within the designated Siksika Industrial Park. Siksika will
invest $6 million into the engineer design and construction of the building. “The Nation is putting all the risk into this operation so we’ll own wholly the building itself and the product,” said Breaker. LDI Group has secured the funding to file the application and has committed to the operation management. Dr. Lyle Oberg, who held a variety of Cabinet positions in the Alberta government under a number of PC premiers, will serve as independent chair of Siksika Herbz Ltd. Oberg is with the LDI Group. Breaker anticipates 30 fulltime staff from the First Nation to be employed in all aspects of cultivating, harvesting, and packaging, as well as in the front office and security. The facility is expected to deliver upwards of $14.4 million in annual revenue from dried cannabis alone, while specialty cannabis products will contribute exponentially to future sales growth. Medical marijuana production on Siksika First Nation will follow a harm reduction model that focuses on reducing opioid use and alcohol dependency within the community. Medical marijuana is produced for those who suffer from addictions or if there’s pain relievers a patient’s using that’s not good for the body, said Breaker. “So as First Nations people, there are a lot of ailments in our communities. In being a front runner in producing medical marijuana it is the hope that we’ll bring light to the potential use for medical marijuana in First Nations communities, other than pills or any kind of substance abuse our
communities face.” Breaker said he is not aware of any other First Nations in Alberta who have applied for medical marijuana licences under Health Canada. Health Canada’s website lists 36 organizations that are licensed producers of medical marijuana under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. There are none in Alberta. The majority of producers are in Ontario and BC. At a medical marijuana conference held recently in Vancouver, Breaker said he met with a number of First Nations, including some from Ontario, which had invested as equity partners in established growoperations off-nation. “To my knowledge I’m unclear as to who out there has an application in with Health Canada but as Siksika Nation we want to be very innovative,” he said. The Wahgoshig First Nation is partnering with the Ontario company DelShen Therapeutics to convert a former forestry operation into a facility that will grow “pharmaceutical grade” marijuana. In British Columbia, the Penticton Indian Band’s development corporation signed a letter of intent to build a marijuana grow facility with cannabis producer Kaneh Bosm BioTechnology. In New Brunswick, the Maliseet First Nation is working with the American company XChange Corporation to build a medical marijuana research and treatment facility of 400 hectares on First Nation land. Health Canada has reported that the medical marijuana industry is expected to exceed $1.2 billion by 2024.
Find more of everything online: www.ammsa.com December I 2016
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Out of sight; out of mind. That’s how Indigenous women from Fort St. John, B.C. feel. And that is backed by a report released today from Amnesty International. The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, links the effects of intensive resource development in Northeastern British Columbia. to heightened levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Indigenous Speakers Series will challenge “safe ideas” of reconciliation
Cree academic and writer Dr. Tracey Lindberg will explore the complexities of reconciliation at Vancouver Island University’s Indigenous Speakers Series in Nanaimo this month. Lindberg, who teaches Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa and recently published her debut novel, Birdie, will deliver a talk entitled (W)rec(k)onciliation: Indigenous Lands and Peoples’ Respect, Reciprocity and Relationships. “I’m going to look at the notion of reconciliation not as a starting point, but as a measure of the health of relationships,” she said.
Museum receives $7 million donation of Indigenous art
An anonymous donation to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will be housed in a new Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks. Construction of the new gallery begins this month and is expected to be completed in time to open to the public by National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017.
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Amnesty International links big industry to violence against women 4
[ alberta sweetgrass ] 10 - 15 [ sports ] 16 & 17
[ health ] 18 [ careers ] 19 [ footprints ] Daphne Odjig 20 Even as a young girl, Daphne Odjig was resourceful and creative, turning the family farm pig hodvduse into a play school to teach local children math and reading. When they tired of her instruction, she converted the school to a play church, sitting in priest-like serenity to hear her students’ confessions. Growing up, Odjig designed needlework patterns for Jesuit Mission church linens, but it would take a meeting with Elders at a powwow on Manitoulin Island to turn her sights from Christian themes and realism to sought-after images of Manitoulin mysticism.
ADVERTISING The advertising deadline for the December II 2016 issue of Windspeaker is November 25, 2016. Call toll free at: 1-800-661-5469 for more information. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
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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:
Alberta Sweetgrass — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Alberta Saskatchewan Sage — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Saskatchewan Raven's Eye — The Aboriginal Newspaper of British Columbia Ontario Birchbark — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Ontario
December I 2016
[ news ]
Amnesty International links big industry to violence against women By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
Out of sight; out of mind. That’s how Indigenous women from Fort St. John, B.C. feel. And that is backed by a report released today from Amnesty International. The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, links the effects of intensive resource development in Northeastern British Columbia. to heightened levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls. “When you have these big projects going on, people from all over Canada come to Fort St. John to work… and when you have that dynamic, the amount of money people are making, and the age group of workers coming in, it’s not hard to make the connection there’s going to be trouble,” said Connie Greyeyes, an activist and women’s resource worker from Fort St. John. “Personally, I have experienced violence myself from somebody that was not a local, that was here workingÖ and when it was reported to police, they didn’t do anything, because they said we were both intoxicated,” she said. Fort St. John is the location for the proposed Site C dam, which has been under protest from Indigenous nations and allies for some time. It’s also home to industries like coal, oil and gas extraction, and other hydroelectric projects, brought in over the past few decades. It’s located along the Highway of Tears, a stretch of highway known for the astonishing number of women who’ve gone missing or been murdered there. Greyeyes runs a women’s warrior group in the city, which she formed after realizing just how many missing and murdered Indigenous women she knew. Members of the group look out for each other’s health and safety, even accepting middle-of-the-night phone calls from someone in crisis—all voluntarily. Because of her work, Amnesty asked Greyeyes to play a key role in their research, facilitating interviews with community members willing to share personal stories. “Most people don’t know one or two people who have been murdered, let alone four or five. There’s got to be a connection some way to what’s happening in our First Nations communities,” she said. “My hope is that when the report comes out, that the changes that are needed and the support to services that are already there, happen. It’s only going to get worse if this dam proceeds… And it’s scary to think potentially thousands of workers
Stolen Sisters vigil, Vancouver.
will come to this community,” said Greyeyes. Jackie Hansen, Amnesty Canada’s Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, started rifling through data for the report two years ago. Working alongside colleague, Craig Benjamin, Amnesty Canada’s Campaigner for Indigenous Rights, the two conducted a document review, consulted with Greyeyes and other community members, and conducted more than 100 local interviews, hoping to find out whether anyone else had previously drawn the same conclusion Amnesty has now. “We weren’t just looking directly at levels of violence. We were looking at individual and family health, safety, and wellbeing indicators…. What people identified as being factors to them, and how those were being eroded,” she said.
The report also touches on issues of skyrocketing housing and foods cost, driven up by higher-than-average wages paid to workers in the developing industry, and the loss of land that contributes to the loss of space for traditional Indigenous cultural practices. Amnesty also links the age group of what is often predominantly men—young men—combined with high wages, long work days, and the isolation from home, to increased levels of drug and alcohol abuse, which can then contribute to an increase in violent behavior, targeted at vulnerable populations like Indigenous women and girls. “We aren’t the first people to be saying what we’re saying. Our document review found studies going back over 30 years documenting the same impacts… But until a gender
analysis is done you don’t necessarily connect those impacts to levels of violence against women,” said Hansen. “That’s why we’re calling for that to be part of the environmental assessment process,” she said. The report specifically outlines more than 30 recommendations to help Canadian governments practice due diligence in balancing economic pursuits with the rights of Indigenous people, including treaty rights, and basic human rights. Amnesty also requests that social service and infrastructure assessments be part of the development process, and that there be an increase in funding to local social services in areas where development is taking place. Right now the hot spot is Northeastern B.C., according to the Amnesty report. Amnesty held a press
conference in Vancouver Nov. 3 prior to releasing Out of Sight, Out of Mind, with Greyeyes, Hansen, and Benjamin in attendance. Two other community activists were invited by Amnesty as well; Helen Knott, a social worker from the Blueberry River First Nation, and Judy Maas, a health director also from Blueberry River, sister of Cynthia Maas, who was murdered along the Highway of Tears in 2010. “The harms are documented. There’s solutions out there. And we’re hoping this report draws attention to the issues we’re highlighting,” said Hansen. “Everyone has the right to their most basic human rights being protected, respected, and fulfilled,” she said. Out of Sight, Out of Mind is now available on the Amnesty’s webpage at www.amnesty.ca/ outofsight
December I 2016
[ rants and raves ]
Our struggle continues Bert Crowfoot, the publisher of Windspeaker and CEO of the Aboriginal MultiMedia Society of Alberta (AMMSA), has headed off to Ottawa to address the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. On Nov. 17 he’ll be speaking to the committee about the importance of Indigenous media in Canada and how media concentration impacts our publications and operations. The Standing Committee is attempting to ascertain how communities are “informed about local and regional experiences through news, broadcasting, digital and print media.” This is a wide-ranging discussion that has included information on the impacts of digital media on traditional media, the reality of diminished advertising revenues, which hits small publications like ours particularly hard, and the issue of unfair advantage. On Nov. 15, for example, heavy hitters, including the Globe and Mail and Google, argued that CBC should not be provided Canadian taxpayer dollars to deliver its services. They want to level out the playing field, making CBC compete with other media organizations for advertising revenues. They say CBC is attempting to be all things to all people. That’s easy to do when you have an established revenue stream. Large media corporations don’t, and neither does AMMSA. In the event you don’t know very much about Windspeaker or the Aboriginal MultiMedia Society, let us catch you up. The Society was established 34 years ago in 1983. In those early days, the multi-media comprised of a radio show, and a single newspaper—Windspeaker. At that time, Windspeaker was devoted to media coverage of the Indigenous populations of Alberta, and it was a mightily successful publication. So much so, that it evolved into a national news publication. AMMSA evolved too and developed a new publication to fill the void that was left in Alberta when Windspeaker went national. That publication is called Sweetgrass. Two publications under the AMMSA banner led to four—Saskatchewan Sage and Ontario Birchbark—and then five—Raven’s Eye for British Columbia, with other specialty publications filling in the gaps of reader interest and need—Buffalo Spirit, a guide to Indigenous Spirituality and Culture, and Windspeaker Business Quarterly. Radio went from a show to a station— CFWE—to a network with websites, YouTube channels and a mobile phone app. People can now listen to AMMSA’s multiple radio channels from a smartphone almost anywhere in the world. If you’re interested check out http:// www.cfweradio.ca/ The pace of change experienced by all news organizations since those days has been dramatic. But for the last 10 years the sands have shifted under our feet like never before. For Indigenous media, it has always been a struggle to find the funds to do what we do. There is no government funding for this. We
don’t get a percentage from every cable subscriber across Canada, as does APTN, for example. (Not complaining. We support APTN and their news staff, and we’re glad they provide the service that they do.) But we’re out here swimming with the sharks. We have been for a very long time. It’s made us strong and resilient and we’ll carry on, because what we do is important; the Indigenous perspective is important, because what has remained consist over 34 years is the desire of our readers and listeners to have their own selves reflected fairly in news coverage. They want their issues and concerns discussed from the position of their own worldview. They want value placed on their histories, their cultures and traditions. While AMMSA has helped bridge the gap of understanding between Indigenous peoples and Canadian society, it has, even more importantly, helped Indigenous peoples learn about and understand themselves, through an Indigenous lens. The worldview, cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples are rarely accurately portrayed by mainstream media—yes, even now—and reports often take a pan-Indigenous view of Aboriginal people in Canada. They make no distinction between nations and this further skews understanding of Indigenous communities by Canadian society from coast to coast to coast. News of Indigenous peoples by mainstream publishers is, generally, focused on the activities of Indigenous peoples that run contrary to the initiatives, values and perspectives of Canadian populations. There is no coverage of potlatches or powwows, coming of age ceremonies, Indian rodeo, activities like fishing or beading or weaving. No coverage of what fills out our knowledge and understanding of family-based Indigenous communities. So, AMMSA will remain. We are committed to upholding the highest journalistic standards of balance and objective coverage of Indigenous issues from the Indigenous perspective. We will continue to build trusting relationships with our readers and listeners. AMMSA will continue to provide opportunities for Indigenous journalists, writers, photographers, artists and musicians, having already trained countless numbers of talented Indigenous people over 34 years. However, without a consistent revenue stream, Indigenous media, including AMMSA, will struggle, and readers and listeners will suffer, and become more isolated and misunderstood in Canadian society than they already are. All media, including Indigenous media, face significant challenges going forward. AMMSA has faced difficult times in the past, but remains optimistic. We must, however, be nimble. Financial resources will help make that happen and allow us to continue our important work.
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: email@example.com twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews December I 2016
Indigenous Speakers Series will challenge “safe ideas” of reconciliation
Dr. Tracey Lindberg
Cree academic and writer Dr. Tracey Lindberg will explore the complexities of reconciliation at Vancouver Island University’s Indigenous Speakers Series in Nanaimo this month. Lindberg, who teaches Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa and recently published her debut novel, Birdie, will deliver a talk entitled (W)rec(k)-onciliation: Indigenous Lands and Peoples’ Respect, Reciprocity and Relationships. “I’m going to look at the notion of reconciliation not as a starting point, but as a measure of the health of relationships,” she said. “Reconciliation is supported by a lot of other concepts. I’m going to talk about reconciliation with self, reconciliation with community, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And then addressing reconciliation with Canada.” The talk is presented by the university’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation. Director Douglas White explained that when the Indigenous Speakers Series committee was searching for a presenter for this second annual event, they wanted someone who could speak to reconciliation through the lens of story – connecting in a different way with our communities. “Dr. Tracey Lindberg will do just that – speaking through the arts, literature and story to reach out to the hearts of our national audience in a way that prompts us all to reflect and grow together in the spirit of reconciliation.” The Indigenous Speakers Series is delivered in partnership with the Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One’s Ideas. Lindberg is a member of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation in northeastern B.C. She is thought to be the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to complete a graduate law degree from Harvard University and to receive a doctorate in law from a Canadian university (the University of Ottawa). In 2007, she received the Governor General’s Award for her dissertation entitled Critical Indigenous Legal Theory. Her bio refers to her as “next in a long line of argumentative Cree women,” a description that Lindberg endorses. “We were born to lead and govern our people,” she said. “Women play a role in the development of healthy relationships, and healthy relationships are the basis of good governance. You can’t be quiet when you are dealing with issues related to the health and wellness of your community.” She’s also keen to challenge “staid or safe ideas.” “I want to talk to people about what does reconciliation do; if it’s an active verb, what are some of the steps we have to take to be able to participate in it?” The Indigenous Speakers Series is part of VIU’s Reconciliation Road, a collection of events and activities that address the challenge of reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The second annual Indigenous Speakers Series takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre (Nanaimo campus). To register for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/ indigenous-speaker-series-dr-tracey-lindberg-tickets28593262217.
[ news ]
Mom says First Nations culture fine, but don’t give my kids any religion By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
PORT ALBERNI, B.C. Assembly of First Nations B.C. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson suggests it’s time for parties to step back and take a deep breath. He was speaking about a lawsuit that has been filed in the BC Supreme Court. “It’s really being blown out of proportion,” he said. The lawsuit raises the issue of how schools should be allowed to teach and promote Indigenous culture in the classroom. Port Alberni mother Candice Servatius has filed a petition alleging that her two children were required to take part, on two occasions, in First Nations religious practices at John Howitt Elementary School, in contravention of both the B.C. Schools Act and the Charter of Rights provisions respecting religious neutrality. According to the complaint, the first incident occurred on Sept. 16, 2015. Two days previous, School District 70 district principal Stacey Manson sent home a notice that students were invited to participate in a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth cleansing ceremony, and directed any inquiries to an SD 70 staff member. In her petition, Servatius alleged that her daughter was told “it would be rude” not to participate. The parent immediately complained to the school district and was assured that no further religious practices would take place. Then, on Jan. 7, 2016, hoop dancer ≠≠Teddy Anderson performed at the school. In a letter to SD 70 Superintendent Greg Smyth, Servatius wrote: “The children went on to tell me that the hoop dancing was interesting and impressive but they felt uncomfortable with the [accompanying] prayer. The children concluded that: “He was praying to a god but not the same god we pray to.” Servatius emphasized that her children enjoy learning about Indigenous culture and tradition. Her objection is against their being required to participate in spiritual/religious activities in any form, as spelled out in the School Act and Charter. Through a family member, Servatius declined to comment to Windspeaker. For his part, Superintendent Smyth said while he stands by the District’s commitment to teach Nuu-chah-nulth culture in the classroom, he could not comment directly on the case. “We are aware of the petition and we are reviewing it with our lawyers to respond in court,” he said.
AFN B.C. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson In her petition, Servatius notes ever be hurt from our medicines. that Smyth had categorized the No child (or adult) should ever prayers and ceremonies as feel pushed, forced or intimidated “cultural,” rather than “religious” into praying in a way they do not practices. Smyth was asked if feel comfortable with. And no casting the ceremonies in those teacher, school board or lawyers terms tended to minimize their should ever try and defend that spiritual significance. disrespect of the medicines,” he “I will not comment on the particulars in the complaint,” he responded. “From what I know, the school district already apologized to her,” said Chief Gottfriedson. He suggested that the school district make a public apology to her to highlight the nature of participation in ceremonies. “I feel that it’s unfortunate it has been taken to the level it’s at.” Gottfriedson maintained there is a difference between organized, codified religion and the spiritual practices of Indigenous peoples. “When you look at our culture, it’s not a ‘religion,’ and to characterize it as such – because it may include a ceremony or prayer – is not a position that the BCAFN can support,” he said. Gottfriedson said that, because Indigenous cultures have been “devalued, outlawed and ridiculed in the wake of colonization” it is encouraging that there has been a growing movement to recognize and respect Indigenous cultures across the globe. “And this movement has been growing in B.C., to support and foster positive relationships between Indigenous and nonIndigenous students, with the hope that, one day, we can build a stronger and more supportive relationship. With the hope that, by sharing our cultures and our traditions, it will lead to the elimination of racismÖ and bullying, and animosity between different cultural groups.” When reports of the court case hit the newswires, U.S.-born Choctaw member Keith Hunter, who lives in Port Alberni with his wife, a member of Tseshaht First Nation, raised some concerns on social media. Speaking as “a pitiful human being that follows the pathway of our Sundance,” Hunter said it is concerning to see traditional medicines and ceremonies tied up in the courts as the result of mishandling by teachers and the school board. “No child (or adult) should
wrote. Hunter said he felt that SD 70 failed to address the concerns raised by the Servatius family. “I hope and pray that School District 70 and the ones involved stop harming our medicines and ceremonies by the way this was handled. And I hope and pray this young person and family is able to overcome the disrespect they were shown,” he concluded. But Gottfriedson said initiatives such as those taken by SD 70 should be welcomed in the spirit of reconciliation, rather than being met with anger and outrage – not to mention court actions citing infringements on Charter freedoms. “Our position is that the BCAFN supports SD 70’s
position by including the Nuuchah-nulth culture and traditions, and that they do not violate the Schools Act or the Constitution, or what a reasonable person could expect of a public school operating on the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people.” Gottfriedson said SD 70 has accepted a mandate from the province to include authentic Aboriginal content in their curriculum. “Truth and Reconciliation calls for action, as does the United Nations Declaration of the Rights. We applaud School District 70 for their efforts to include Nuu-chah-nulth culture in their curriculum, and support them as they move forward.”
December I 2016
[ news ]
Feds hoarding environmental data on sinking of tug, say Heiltsuk The Heiltsuk Nation is disappointed to learn that the federal government is withholding analytical data arising from early environmental sampling after a tug and barge ran aground Heiltsuk territorial waters. These samples, collected by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and handed over to the Department of Environment and Climate Change, may contain information critical to Heiltsuk decision-making around human and environmental health, reads a statement from the nation dated Nov. 10. “In the very beginning, we made the decision to collaborate,” said Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett. “We’ve supported the Incident Command System approach to response, and acted with integrity in the expectation that everyone else at the table would do the same. “DFO and ECC have clearly missed the message on federal
PHOTO: HEILTSUK NATION
Nathan E. Stewart tug ran aground Oct. 13
reconciliation.” Since the tug ran aground on Oct. 13, releasing an
unconfirmed amount of diesel into key Heiltsuk cultural and food-gathering sites, the nation
has struggled to fully assess the impacts – cultural and ecological – to its people.
For Heiltsuk Incident Commander Jess Housty, this refusal to collaborate marks a conspicuous betrayal of shared values agreed to by Unified Command. “This hoarding of critical information is preposterous in a situation where every other party has agreed to work together on sampling and analysis.” “DFO and ECC are potentially putting human and environmental health at risk, and certainly jeopardizing the trust that has enabled Unified Command to collaborate smoothly on incident response.” Repeated Heiltsuk requests for data access have been ignored and community leadership is frustrated by federal roadblocks preventing governance based on the best available information. “It’s 2016,” says Chief Slett. “We shouldn’t have to fight these battles just to get access to information about disasters on our doorstep.”
Bear Chief refuses to ‘shut up’ or ‘move on’ By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
SIKSIKA NATION, Alta.
Arthur Bear Chief said his is a story that needs to be told. Not only for himself, but for the other children who were abused at Old Sun residential school and can no longer speak out. “It’s important for me to make public what I personally went through and also to speak for people that are gone that went to residential school with me and that went through probably the same thing that I did. There’s no voices for these people. I wanted the public to know,” said Bear Chief. My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell will be published in December. The book is the first accounting Bear Chief has had of the sexual abuse he suffered. He made a pact with Nelson Wolf Leg, who also attended the school near Gleichen in southern Alberta, that neither of them would talk about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of their supervisor Bill Starr, until one of them had died. “My friend Nelson is long gone. When did he die? I don’t know,” said Bear Chief. Bear Chief was seven years old in 1949 when he entered Old
December I 2016
My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell by Arthur Bear Chief will be available in December through Athabasca University Press. Sun residential school. He did not speak English. His physical abuse started his very first night when he couldn’t stop crying.
Over the next 10 years, along with being abused and having his culture ripped away, he would be witness to the abuse suffered by
other children. Bear Chief hopes that by telling his story the public will understand that the financial settlement that came to residential school survivors through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement will never be enough. “We were told to take this, ‘now shut up and move on’. You’re supposed to heal,” he said. But to heal, said Bear Chief, he needed to talk and that is how My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell came about. He tried other means – like alcohol – to deal with “the demons that were inside of me.” “By telling that, it’s given me some sense of peace. It will never go away. I will never get rid of this … and I’m trying to get over that final hump. It’s not necessarily smooth sailing for the rest of my life, but perhaps to defeat my demons,” he said. For Frits Pannekoek, president of Athabasca University, it was important to publish Bear Chief ’s story. “It’s a very, very powerful story,” he said. “Arthur is very articulate. His writing is extremely powerful....His story is one that has a lot of strength.” Pannekoek said one factor that swayed Bear Chief to publish his work with Athabasca University Press was that, as an access press,
the book goes online and is available free of charge. “He wants to be sure that everyone has the chance to benefit from his experience,” said Pannekoek. The book will also be printed and sold. Chief Bear’s residential school story includes the legal documents of discovery, work undertaken by the Merchant Law Group. “You have access to all parts of his story. Arthur has nothing to hide,” said Pannekoek. “His story is very straightforward. It’s very honest, there’s no artifice or anything. Arthur is what he says.” Pannekoek wrote the afterword to Chief Bear’s book. Entitled “The burden of reconciliation,” Pannekoek said it is important for nonAboriginal people to understand the pressure that has been placed on Indian residential school survivors to reconcile. A professor of western Canadian history, Pannekoek is well aware of the residential school experience. “The abuse was systematic at worse, but most important of all, in virtually every one of the schools, there was an attempt to eradicate the culture. And that’s the single most, I think, serious of the crimes,” he said.
December I 2016
[ news ]
Museum receives $7 million donation of Indigenous art An anonymous donation to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will be housed in a new Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks. Construction of the new gallery begins this month and is expected to be completed in time to open to the public by National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017. The 200 pieces of Indigenous art, worth $7 million, make up the largest collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art to return to B.C. in recent decades. The donor was first inspired to amass the collection after seeing totem poles in Stanley Park in the 1970s. The collection includes rare historical works, as well as fine carvings, jewelry, basketry and textiles by Indigenous artists such as Bill Reid, Charles Edenshaw, Robert Davidson, Isabel Rorick, and Dempsey Bob. “It is an honour for UBC to receive this distinguished collection of Indigenous art at MOA where it will be accessible to both the campus community and visitors,” said UBC President Prof. Santa Ono. “The collection supports the university’s long-standing commitment to Aboriginal engagement, and to furthering the public’s awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures and histories.” The new gallery is funded by a $3-million donation from the Doggone Foundation and a $500,000 grant from the federal government as part of the Canada 150 Community
Infrastructure Program. Along with highlights from the donated collection, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition will include works from MOA’s collection as well as private and institutional lenders, and will feature the voices of contemporary Indigenous artists reflecting on the significance of the works shown. “The belongings made by our ancestors have always helped tell the story of who we are and where we come from. I am excited by the possibilities of contemporary community members and artists engaging with this collection,” said Jordan Wilson, MOA’s Musqueam curator-in-residence. With support from the Musqueam community, whose traditional ancestral territory includes UBC’s Point Grey campus, the new gallery will further MOA’s collaborations with First Nations artists and community members in order to research and build new knowledge about Northwest Coast art, reads a press statement. More than 90 per cent of historical Indigenous Northwest Coast art is currently held in museums and private collections outside B.C. Bringing these objects closer to home supports a new generation of First Nations artists who are studying and teaching the historical development of their arts, the creative legacy of past masters and their techniques of production, and ways of interpreting the connection of these works to ancestral stories and cultural practices today.
Above: Pipe bowl in the shape of a bird. Below: Raven rattle
Chief of Whitecap Dakota First Nation acclaimed
On Nov. 10, the members of Whitecap Dakota First Nation acclaimed Darcy Bear to his eighth straight term as chief. Bear has served 22 consecutive years as chief of the nation. His upcoming term of office is four years. “I am humbled and honored to continue to serve my community, said Bear in a Facebook post. The support from my community inspires me to continue to work hard to build our First Nation and create economic opportunity for all.”
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PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
Above: About 200 participated at the second dialogue session that is gathering information to help inform the University of Calgary’s institutional-wide Indigenous strategy. Left: Jackie Ottmann, co-chair of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy steering committee.
Indigenous input crucial as UCalgary develops new strategy By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Independent Indigenous input will help inform the University of Calgary’s institutional-wide Indigenous strategy, but there is no plan to solicit that same kind of input of the larger Indigenous community when the strategy is in draft format. That doesn’t mean Indigenous people won’t have hands-on involvement after the consultation process is concluded. It means that input will be limited to Indigenous personnel with ties to the university. “We have three Elders on our steering committee so they are an essential part of our steering committee. We also have a working group and within that working group we have diverse and extensive Indigenous representation,” said Jackie Ottmann, co-chair of the Indigenous Strategy steering committee. Ottmann is an
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associate professor and director of Indigenous Education Initiatives. She is also Annishinabe. Ottmann points out that the four-stage process that will result in UCalgary’s Indigenous strategy has been heavily guided by Indigenous input. Two parallel documents: the UCalgary’s western terms of reference alongside an Indigenous framework, entitled Journey towards an Indigenous Strategy, have guided the process. Community engagement for the strategy got underway in mid-October, with dialogue taking place in the inner city with organizations and agencies that work with Indigenous peoples in education, social services, employment, and the non-profit sector. This past weekend, oncampus and external stakeholders, including faculty and departments, corporations, non-profit sector, and education and research partners, were consulted. On Nov. 18,
dialogue will occur with the Traditional Knowledge Keepers. There is also an online survey. Ottmann notes that Indigenous writers are involved in the analysis and writing of the stories gathered through community dialogue. The strategy will also be informed through literature review, the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Royal Commission report on Aboriginal Peoples. Work other post-secondary institutions have undertaken will also be consulted. The draft strategy will go through internal approval processes including UCalgary’s board of governors in the spring. “In terms of the draft document (going back to the Indigenous community) that is something we could think of doing, … but I think what I would like to have acknowledged is the extensive Indigenous participation we have so far,” said Ottmann.
“There will be opportunities to sort of visit the content and connect back with the (Indigenous) community, if need be … but how that’s going to manifest in detail, we’re not there yet,” said Shawna Cunningham, co-chair of the Indigenous Strategy working group and director of the oncampus Native Centre. In 2014, UCalgary Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dru Marshall committed to an institution-wide Indigenous strategy. While it has taken almost two years to roll out the formal process, Ottmann says many of the university’s faculties and departments have already begun implementing Indigenous initiatives and improving curricula. Goals of the institution-wide strategy, she says, are to meet the needs of both Indigenous students and faculty and to start drawing on the knowledge and pedagogy of Indigenous peoples. “Ultimately, it’s to become more inclusive… to be
culturally competent as an institution,” said Ottmann. But the Indigenous strategy will also go beyond the university’s borders, says Cunningham. The strategy will target potential Indigenous students as well as equip Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals from UCalgary to serve and work more effectively with the Indigenous population. “We need to better understand what’s going on in the inner city in order to work for the betterment of Indigenous people,” she said, noting this could come through developing partnerships. Cunningham says once the Indigenous strategy has been implemented, changes won’t happen overnight. “This is a long term envisioning of the direction the campus can go,” she said. University of Calgary’s institutional-wide Indigenous strategy will be launched next year on National Aboriginal Day.
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Filmmaker calls mayors “cool” for reconciliation actions
Innovation continues to drive Indigenous peoples
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
At the Indigenous Innovation Summit, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson spoke about innovation and reconciliation as emcee and filmmaker Cowboy Smithx listened. By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
EDMONTON “What is it with these Alberta mayors, being so cool?” Cowboy Smithx wanted to know. Innovation and reconciliation were prevalent in the comments made by Smith, and guest speakers, as he hosted the opening ceremony for the Indigenous Innovation Summit, which wraps up today in Edmonton. Smith, a filmmaker and member of the Kainai Nation, recognized municipal politicians for the work they were undertaking toward reconciliation. Smith called Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – who has just announced his intention to seek re-election in 2017 –a “good homie of mine.” Smith pointed out that Wetaskiwin’s welcome sign includes Cree syllabics and he acknowledged the reconciliation work being undertaken by that city’s mayor, Bill Elliot. Elliot, speaking at the Truth and Reconciliation Summit held at the Banff Centre for Arts and
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Creativity at the end of October, said his council honoured the traditions of the Maskwacis nations, participating in sweats and attending pow wows and the inauguration of new band council members. He pointed out that all Wetaskiwin schools had Aboriginal liaison workers and there was a Maskwacis representative on the school board. He noted the Wetaskiwin hospital opened an Aboriginal cultural room a year ago. “It’s little things, it’s not big things. We’re not going to change this really fast,” said Elliot. In 2013, Wetaskiwin passed a proclamation declaring a Year of Reconciliation. Fort Saskatchewan and St. Albert passed similar proclamations after Elliot brought Wetaskiwin’s actions to the attention of the 22 mayors, who comprise the province’s midsized cities. “The main point is that it doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be flowery and you don’t do it for the photo ops,” said Elliot. “There’s lot of things you can do and just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
Continued on page 19.
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Participants gathered at the second annual Indigenous Innovation Summit held at the Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton to learn from each other. By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan had high praise for the province’s Indigenous people as he spoke Monday night at the opening ceremony of the second annual Indigenous Innovation Summit. Feehan said in the nine months he has served in his position, he has visited 26 First Nations and Metis settlements. “Every single place I go, innovation is a keystone to what’s happening there,” he said. He pointed to the work both the Louis Bull Tribe and Lubicon Lake Band have done with solar energy, noting that the province’s newest agency that is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions has a First Nations representative. Joseph Jobin, chief operating officer with the Treaty 8 First Nation, is one of six members on Energy Efficiency Alberta. Jobin was just the most recent appointment by the government as the province moves toward realizing its climate leadership plan. In September, Louis Bull
Councillor Desmond Bull and Roni-Sue Moran, director of industry relations corporation for Christina River Enterprises for the Fort McMurray First Nation, were appointed to the Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel. “So they’re there, at the table, teaching us what we need to know,” said Feehan. “Those kind of innovations are already happening and I’ve got to tell you, as a government, that really excites us.” Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, also in attendance, said the federal Liberals were investing $1.8 billion in arts and culture, more than any other G7 country. “We believe that supporting and investing in arts and culture will drive creativity Ö and that creativity will drive innovation and innovation will drive prosperity. That close link between all these important concepts I think will be well presented in this summit,” she said. The summit, to take place in Edmonton from Nov. 6-8, is the collaborative effort of the National Association of Friendship Centres and the JW McConnell Family Foundation. Stephen Huddart, president and CEO of JW McConnell
Family Foundation, said a number of philanthropy foundations decided to combine their efforts in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “Philanthropy needs to be fully engaged in this work. Civil society has a very important role to play, but shamefully it has taken us a long time to get here,” said Huddart. “NAFC is proud to be making our vision of creating a field for Indigenous innovation a reality. The ideas, the connections and solutions we make here over the next couple of days will have untold benefits for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and organizations alike throughout this coming year and beyond,” said NAFC vice president Christopher Sheppard. Sheppard noted that a direct result of last year’s summit and collaboration with the JW McConnell Family Foundation was the creation of the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund. Seventy applications were received and $400,000 will be allocated for the successful innovative projects, to be announced on Wednesday.
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Eileen Lucas, a teacher/counsellor at Dr. K.A. Clark School, is also the leader of Fort McMurray’s only Aboriginal drumming and leadership group. Winner of Indspire award to be recognized in Toronto Fort McMurray teacher Eileen Lucas will be among the 10 recipients of the 2016 Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards to be presented in Toronto on Friday. The awards, presented by Indspire, recognize the achievements of outstanding educators of Indigenous students. Lucas is the recipient of the Culture, Language and Traditions award. Born into the Qualipu First Nation in Newfoundland, Lucas learned to drum while working at the Ojibwe Kettle & Stony Point First Nation in Ontario. She started the drumming group in Fort McMurray in 2008 after an unusually persistent Grade 3 student begged her to teach drumming after class. “These educators are exemplary in their innovation and dedication to helping First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children and youth succeed,” said Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire.
PHOTO: EDMONTON ARTS COUNCIL
Erica Lord performing outside Edmonton City Hall at The Works (2013).
The Works extends Canada 150 Participatory Art Projects deadline Indigenous artists have until Nov. 15 to submit a proposal for the Canada 150 Participatory Art Projects. The Works International Visual Arts Society has extended the deadline. Proposals may consider: socially engaged practices, collaborative artworks, artworks involving research, works that include multiple voices or represent a conversation, as well as work that seeks to understand through genuine outreach.†The Canada 150 is a special invitation to Indigenous, recent immigrant, women, and francophone Canadians whose practice includes participatory art and has experience directly involving the community in their artistic projects. This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.
PHOTO: EDMONTON ARTS COUNCIL
“Pillars of the Community” shows the faces of Edmonton’s inner city.
Exhibition focuses on faces
University of Calgary senator and Piikuni Elder Reg Crowshoe (left) with David Lertzman, assistant professor, Haskayne School of Business, at the university’s Indigenous inner-city dialogue session held at Fort Calgary last month.
“Pillars of the Community” photograph exhibit kicks of with short speeches Thursday afternoon at Edmonton’s City Hall. “Pillars of the Community” is a public art project by Edmonton artists Lacey Jane and Layla Folkmann, celebrating the diversity and character of Edmonton’s inner city community members. Together with local photographer Sandy Phimester, the artists took photos of over 40 people from Boyle Street Community Services as references for a 1,200 squarefoot mural outside of Rogers Place arena as a means of paying homage to the people who contribute to Edmonton’s culture. This exhibit is a display of 12 of those selected images. The exhibition is open to the public until Nov. 24. All photographs then will be donated to Boyle Street Community Services.
UCalgary continues work on Indigenous strategy
Work by Indigenous filmmakers highlighted
The University of Calgary is hosting the second of three community dialogues organized by the university’s Indigenous Strategy Task Force. The Indigenous strategy community dialogue session, to take place Friday, is part of the ongoing development of the university’s Indigenous strategy. The full day session will engage students, faculty and staff from the campus community along with stakeholders from Indigenous communities and others connected to Indigenous communities in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Elder and UCalgary Senator Reg Crowshoe will deliver the opening prayer and Dr. Shauneen Pete, from the University of Regina, will deliver the keynote address. The results from these sessions will inform the final strategy, which is expected to be completed by June 2017.
Five short films by Indigenous filmmakers will be screened on Wednesday at the the Provincial Archives of Alberta in Edmonton. The films are: the live action/ animation blend and 10-minute long “Raven Steals the Light” by Daniel Foreman; “If you can’t remember, then it must not be important” by Jade Nasogaluak, filmed in various locations throughout Calgary; six-minute comedy “Toby and Clarence” by Ken Lefthand; documentary “Cree Code Talker” about filmmaker Alexandra Lazarowich’s uncle, who worked for the U.S. Air Force in World War II; and Kelton Stepanowich;s 25-minute long “Gods Acre,” starring Lorne Cardinal. The filmmakers will be in attendance to showcase and discuss their work and staff from the Provincial Archives will be on hand to discuss audiovisual preservation in Alberta.
PHOTO: RILEY BRANDT/UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
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PHOTO: EDMONTON ARTS COUNCIL
This billboard art by Lana Whiskeyjack and Rebecca Liappiatt was part off #YEGCanvas last year.
#YEGCanvas billboard, LRT station art returns Edmonton’s award-winning urban art exhibition, #YEGCanvas, returns to enliven Edmonton’s cityscape with 45 new artworks by 38 Edmonton artists from November 2016 until April 2017. Developed by the Edmonton Arts Council in partnership with Pattison Outdoor Advertising, #YEGCanvas; a citywide billboard and LRT station-based art exhibition, features art spanning a diversity of genres and disciplines including digital media, ceramics, photography, watercolour, acrylic, drawing, and fine craft. Artworks were chosen from more than 120 submissions. Over the next six months, the artworks will be displayed on 10 billboards, located throughout the city, and on 15 LRT station posters along the capital and metro lines. The art will be rotated every two months. #YEGCanvas is a jumping off point for artists who have had limited opportunity to participate in public art or exhibit in the Edmonton area. It became one of the largest campaigns in Pattison Outdoor Advertising’s history. The Edmonton Arts Council and Pattison Outdoor Advertising will launch #YEGCanvas Monday afternoon in the Willow Room at Boyle Street Plaza.
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CN recognized as a PAR committed company
Weasel Head accompanies Phillips to COP in Morocco
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business has recognized CN as a Progressive Aboriginal Relations committed company. Established in 2001, CCAB’s PAR certification signals to Aboriginal communities that designated companies are good business partners, great places to work, and committed to the prosperity of Aboriginal communities. “CN, as a business operating across Canada, is truly moving toward addressing the new economic reconciliation that is supporting an Aboriginal business renaissance in Canada today,” said JP Gladu, president and CEO of CCAB. CN operates within or adjacent to nearly 200 reserves of more than 110 First Nations and Métis territories. Olivier Chouc, vice-president of law at CN, said the company will continue to identify and foster business opportunities with Aboriginal chambers of commerce, entrepreneurs and businesses nation-wide. Edmonton and Calgary are among the cities CN serves.
Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head will represent Alberta along with Environment Minister Shannon Phillips in Morocco at the Conference of the Parties United Nations Framework on Climate Change. They left for Marrakech last Thursday and will spend this week at meetings networking and participating in roundtable discussions. While in Marrakech, the team will showcase the steps the province has taken to carry out the Climate Leadership Plan and share perspectives with representatives from governments and businesses. They will work to create international partners in innovation, technology and program implementation, and show that Alberta can be both an energy producer and a world leader on climate action. The estimated cost for the international mission for Phillips, Weasel Head, one political staff and two department staff is approximately $32,000.
RCMP investigating man’s death in Maskwacis Right to Play expanded to Alberta Health Canada has renewed its support for the Right To Play – Play for Prevention project with a five-year, $1,531,000 investment for expansion into Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia. Over the past five years, Right To Play in Canada has focused its efforts on Indigenous youth, partnering directly with First Nations and urban Indigenous organizations to deliver play- and sports-based programming in 87 communities across the country, reaching more than 3,000 youth in regular weekly programming. The expansion of the program will mean an additional 1,000 Indigenous children and youth will be reached each year, for a total of 3,500 children over five years. Play for Prevention will improve how it measures behavioural change while following a culturally relevant and inclusive approach to evaluation. The organization is currently headquartered in Toronto.
Food bank use increases throughout province According to the national HungerCount survey released Tuesday, in March 2016, 79,293 Albertans accessed a food bank. This is the largest number of people to visit food banks in the province’s 35-year history of food banking. In March, Edmonton’s Food Bank provided a food hamper to 20,431 Edmontonians, an increase of 31 per cent from March 2014. What sets Edmonton apart is the thousands of people who flocked to the city in May to escape the Fort McMurray fires. In all likelihood, this has sent food bank use soaring even higher than the numbers recorded in March, and the city’s social service system has been overwhelmed. Edmonton is not alone – 80 per cent of Alberta food banks saw an increase in use this year. HungerCount is released annually by Food Banks Canada to keep Canadians informed about the issue of hunger and to generate conversations on possible solutions.
Study to look at impact of childhood abuse A new partnership between the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and the University of Calgary’s Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education will study the impact of child abuse on the developing brain. The goal is to use a scientific approach to understand which interventions work best to mitigate the impact of child abuse, to compare the impact of childhood sexual abuse to that of other forms of childhood trauma, and to understand why some children are more resilient than others. “Despite emerging evidence that child abuse impacts the developing brain, the nature and extent of the effects are not well understood,” said Dr. Paul Arnold, child psychiatrist and director of the Mathison Centre at UCalgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. The study will provide a framework for personalized care informed by science. This first phase of the study is a two-year pilot study enrolling 240 children ages six to 17. After the initial pilot study, researchers hope to expand the study and enroll up to 1,000 children and follow them over a 10-15 year time period. The planned longitudinal study will be one of the most comprehensive studies of child abuse victims ever conducted. The SKCAC screens about 125 children for child abuse each month, with two-thirds of those cases related to sexual abuse. Childhood abuse increases the risk for mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.
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An autopsy is scheduled Monday afternoon for a 27-year-old male who died from injuries following a physical altercation Friday morning. Maskwacis RCMP responded to a call early Friday morning. The man succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The investigation is now being headed by RCMP Major Crimes South, which is working with the Wetaskiwin/Maskwacis GIS, the Maskwacis Crime Reduction Unit and the Red Deer Forensic Identification Section. Police believe this was not a random act and the public is not at risk. RCMP wish to speak to anyone who was present during this altercation. If you know anything about this incident please contact the Maskwacis Detachment at 780-5853767 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
Youth discuss child welfare system through film, panel (Dis)placed: Indigenous Youth and the Child Welfare System will premiere on Sunday afternoon at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton as part of the “Reconciliation in Focus” bi-monthly film series. The 42-minute film, directed by Melisa Brittain, features the voices of Indigenous youth as they reflect on their prior involvement with child welfare and share their multiple strategies of resistance to assimilation and state control. Adding to these insights, First Nations child advocate Cindy Blackstock traces the term ‘neglect,’ the main rationale for child welfare removals, to its roots in the residential school system, and points to laws that codify structural discrimination as the leading cause of child welfare (dis)placements. A panel discussion will follow featuring youth from the film –Tia Ledesma, Tyler Blackface and Donovan Waskahat – talking with Knowledge Keeper Gary Moostoos and researcher Daniela Navia. “Reconciliation in Focus” is a bi-monthly film series in partnership with Metro Cinema that critically examines reconciliation through documentary and feature film. The series is intended to foster conversations about the ways education institutions must address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and broader politics of reconciliation across the country. A panel of academics, artists and community members follows each screening.
Kayas Opikinawasowin ‘Long Ago Child-Rearing’ focus of workshop The Star of the North retreat centre, in St. Albert, will be the location of a four-day program based on Cree cultural perspectives that will explore values and attitudes of traditional child-rearing practices from before European settlement. This will include oral traditional storytelling, the spiritual nature of the child, traditional behavioral management, the role of extended families, and residential school history solutions. The program is intended for professionals among First Nations, Metis, and non-Indigenous, and anyone interested in empowering and enculturating future generations. The workshop runs from Nov. 14-17.
Riel commemorated in week of activities The sixth annual Louis Riel commemorative walk on Sunday will kick off Metis Week celebrations in Edmonton and area. In honour of Riel, the 6.6 km commemorative walk with horse and wagon rides to St. Margaret’s Church signifies the procession made by Riel’s family and community to his funeral. On Nov.
14, the Metis Nation of Alberta and City of Edmonton will raise the Metis flag at city hall. On Nov. 16, the Louis Riel commemoration ceremony will be held at the Alberta Legislature. Other events will take place throughout the week.
OCYA outlines work undertaken in annual report The annual report from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate was tabled in the Legislature on Wednesday. In 2015-16, 2,535 young people were served through the office, a figure consistent with the previous year. While the number of Aboriginal children decreased by four per cent, they still represented 58 per cent of the young people served. In this past year, the OCYA released two reports that focused on Aboriginal children, one that examined Aboriginal youth suicide and the other examined the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the system. There were also eight individual investigative reviews completed. This year’s annual report outlined the OCYA’s efforts to encourage improvements in the child intervention system.
ACFN begins challenge of Grand Rapids pipeline approval November 8, 2016. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation will present their arguments at the first day of hearings Tuesday at their appeal to overturn a consultation decision made by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Consultation Office over the proposed TransCanada Grand Rapids pipeline. The Grand Rapids pipeline was approved in 2014. The ACFN is challenging the Alberta government’s decision to not consult with the ACFN despite the ACFN’s numerous attempts to demonstrate the direct and negative impacts of the project. In addition, the ACFN raises questions over the general safety plans. The ACFN are hoping the courts will overturn this decision and uphold their right to consultation and protection of their constitutional rights. “The fact this decision was made is just the latest evidence that the relationship and the consultation process between Alberta and First Nations is seriously broken,” said ACFN Chief Allan Adam in a statement. The hearing will conclude on Nov. 10.
Special adviser to look at border crossing challenges The federal government will appoint a special ministerial representative to look at border crossing issues faced by First Nations. The Senate committee on Aboriginal peoples outlined border crossing issues in its June report. In response, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Immigration Minister John McCallum and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a joint letter that the adviser and First Nations will discuss significant and complex challenges, with a resolution involving several departments and agencies. The Senate committee said some First Nations believe they should have the right to freely cross the CanadaUS border, based on the 1794 Jay Treaty between Britain and the US.
Leading Indigenous innovators to meet in Edmonton Indigenous innovative practices from across Canada will be on display at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre Nov. 7-9 as the second annual Indigenous Innovation Summit takes place. The event will feature keynote speakers novelist Joseph Boyden and playwright Tomson Highway, as well as panel discussions and conversations between community members and leading experts. Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan will be in attendance for the opening ceremony Monday evening and Mayor Don Iveson will deliver opening remarks on Wednesday. More than 300 delegates are expected to attend, including representatives from First Nations, national Indigenous organizations and friendship centres, as well as mainstream social innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. By bringing together leaders in Indigenous social innovation from across Canada, the summit aims to share knowledge, expertise, and wise practices. The summit is the work of the National Association of Friendship Centres and its partners.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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River valley healing forest to be part of national network By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
EDMONTON Hearts will soon be adorning the trees and shrubs in Edmonton’s river valley along the multi-use path between Groat Road and the High Level Bridge. The pathway is Edmonton’s interpretation and contribution to a national network of healing forests that was conceived by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “These places are supposed to be places for reflection and understanding about the legacy of residential schools and also some current issues like murdered and missing Aboriginal women and the children in the foster care system,” said Sara Komarnisky, a member of RISE (Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton). The NCTR will be mapping the locations of the healing forests across Canada. “Our initiative in Edmonton is intended to be a community space but will be linked together with other healing forests throughout the country,” said Komarnisky. She says the path – which will be marked as far as 1,200-plus hearts go – was chosen because it was a busy location throughout the year and, in the winter months, includes an outdoor skating rink. “RISE works to bring people together around residential schools and the legacy of
residential schools and making safe places to talk about that and to take action toward reconciliation so we wanted to put it somewhere where people come together,” said Komarnisky. The installation is the repurposing of hearts that were made in 2015 by over 200 people and planted in heart gardens outside of City Hall and at Edmonton Public Library locations. The hearts – made of a variety of materials including paper, cloth and wood – contain messages of support for survivors of residential schools. “This is their second life. So they will be hung in the trees and stay there as long as nature intends them to,” said Komarnisky. A sign along the path will direct people to a website so they can learn about colonialism, residential schools, murdered and missing Indigenous women, and Aboriginal children in care. “I can imagine along that path people stopping to, at first, wonder what these hearts are and learn about them…. For other people it could be a place to go to reflect and think about their personal link to this history,” said Komarnisky. “We’re hoping that it sparks people to reflection and understanding and ultimately to action.” RISE is looking for volunteers to help out with the installation which will take place Saturday afternoon. Volunteers are asked to meet across from the Victoria Park oval parking lot.
The hearts that adorned the heart gardens in Edmonton last year will now become part of healing forest in the river valley.
Systemic improvements would have helped boy sooner By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
EDMONTON An investigative review released last week by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate into the death of a young boy resulted in no recommendations. But that isn’t an indication of improved circumstances for Indigenous children in care, says Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff. “I would suggest that is not what it means,” he said. “What it means is that the systemic issues that were arising in this circumstance, that we thought were present and that was the basis for us to do a review, were not confirmed.” In this specific review, 15-yearold Netasinim (not his name) died in a drowning accident when visiting his First Nation. He had
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been in the care of a designated First Nations authority and living in a group home off his First Nation. When he returned to his community for a celebration, he went swimming with friends and was pulled under by a strong current. Graff admits he was surprised that no recommendations came from the investigation. It is the first time in the 20-plus reviews he has conducted since he took office in 2011 that that has happened. He says potential systemic issues had been identified in the preliminary examination. “We had anticipated systemic issues in relation to the services Netasinim was receiving. And when we went out and had the interviews and got some additional information, what we found was once he was identified as being in need of service, the service provided was appropriate
service,” he said. Graff says had they known what the investigation would reveal, his office would not have gone further than the preliminary work. “Should we have been able to identify this? I couldn’t see a way we could without that additional information,” he said. Graff points out that the initial assessment involves reviewing the information that is in the child’s file and then getting confirmation of that information from someone who is close to the child. The investigative review involves interviewing people in depth. While no specific recommendations came from the investigation into Netasinim’s death, Graff is clear that the tragic death of the young boy is not the only tragedy he experienced. Netasinim lived in a garbage dump for two weeks before child intervention services were made
aware of him. “Netasinim was not willing to return home because of his family’s drinking and physical abuse. He was emotional when he explained that he preferred to live in the dump because it was safer. The police investigated and charged his mother with assaulting Netasinim and his younger sister,” said the report. “We think if the Voices for Change recommendations were mobilized in indigenous communities in fact there would be some … actions that would be taken sooner than what we saw (here),” said Graff. Voices for Change, which examined Indigenous child care, was released by the OCYA in July and contains eight recommendations focused in four areas: legislation, governance and jurisdiction; resources, capacity and access; program and service delivery; and outcomes and
accountability. “He comes from a community where some of the recommendations that we’ve made in our Voices for Change report would be especially helpful in developing his community’s capacity to care for vulnerable children,” said Graff. When taken into care, Netasinim initially resided on his First Nation with Indigenous foster parents. Two years later, he was moved to a group home in the city so that he would have access to more supports. Graff says recommendations from Voices for Change which specifically target community control, more recognition of the rights of Indigenous people to provide their “own style of parenting” and more capacity to support children to stay in their community and to reside in their homes would have impacted Netasinim.
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[ sports ]
Semi Demi joins the pros
PHOTO: MACK LAMOUREUX
Slamdunkcontest:†Demitri Harris competes in the Slam Duck Contest at West Edmonton Mall hosted and judged by NBA player Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans. By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
A lengthy drive halfway across the country has paid huge dividends for Vancouver’s Demitri Harris. As a result, the 26-year-old, whose father Frank is Ojibwe, has been forced to change his nickname. People used to call him Semi Demi. That’s because the highest level he had played basketball at was in the semi-pro ranks. But now, they simply call him Demi. The shortened nickname was necessitated because Harris inked a deal this past week to play with the Charlottetownbased Island Storm. The Storm competes in the professional National Basketball League of Canada, which is more commonly called NBL Canada. Harris had originally hoped to impress NBL Canada officials at a league-wide tryout camp in his hometown, but when that event was cancelled, he ended up
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embarking on a 30-hour drive to another camp, in mid-October, which was held in Winnipeg. “It was quite the trip,” Harris said. “We stopped in Medicine Hat and visited the largest tipi in the world. It was awesome.” Harris, a 6-foot-6-inch forward, obviously impressed Storm officials enough that they offered him his first pro contract. “I’m looking to use this as a stepping stone,” Harris said, adding his immediate focus will be on helping the P.E.I.-based Storm. “I really want to head over to Europe and play there. I want to see the world.” He realizes he may never crack the roster of an NBA squad, but Harris, who prides himself on his hustle and his ability to thwart opponents’ offence with his solid defensive game, is still hopeful he just might be able to earn a spot with a club in the development NBA’s D-League. As for Storm officials, not only are they hoping Harris will help them on the court but they’re
also hoping to capitalize on his Native heritage. “There’s a couple of very large Mi’kmaq communities that are within an hour-and-a-half drive from Charlottetown,” said Brett Poirier, the Storm’s vicepresident of business operations. “Already a number of people have been in touch with us asking when they will be able to see him play.” Harris’ chances of seeing his share of action is buoyed by the rule that all NBL Canada franchises must dress four Canadian-born players for each game. The Storm will kick off its regular season campaign at home on Dec. 26 versus the Saint John Riptide. The upcoming NBL Canada season will feature 10 entrants. Besides Saint John, the Storm will be in the five-squad Atlantic Division along with the Cape Breton Highlanders, Moncton Miracles and Halifax Hurricanes. There’s also a five-club Central Division comprised entirely of Ontario franchises. They are the Windsor Express, London Lightning, Orangeville A’s,
Niagara River Lions and KW (Kitchener/Waterloo) Titans. Harris is no stranger, however, to the east coast. He played a couple of seasons, from 2009 to 2011, at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. He left the school after two seasons. “It was a bit of a culture shock for me,” he said of his university experience. “I was too focused on basketball and on partying. I didn’t take (the schooling) seriously.” Since leaving school, Harris has toiled for a pair of semi-pro squads. First he had a stint with the Vancouver Balloholics in the American Basketball Association. And more recently he has suited up for another Vancouver club called SB Battle. Harris has also held a couple of different jobs. For the past seven years he has worked as a youth basketball coach for the Vancouver-based Real Basketball League. And for the past three years he’s also been a youth worker for a program called After School
Adventures. Earlier this year, however, he decided to make some lifestyle changes in order to try and make a go of it in pro basketball. He began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana when he was 15. He no longer smokes drugs and does not drink excessively. “I still have a beer once in a while,” he said. “But I’m not drinking out of the bottle.” Harris added he had turned to booze and drugs as a coping mechanism. “I was self-medicating before to control certain things in my life,” he said. “But now I find other ways to medicate myself like through prayer and meditation.” Poirier said Storm officials are keen to see how Harris develops during his first pro campaign. “He’s a high-energy guy and we are keen to get him in here and see what he is capable of doing for us,” he said. Harris will leave Vancouver on Dec. 8 to head to the Storm training camp.
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[ sports ]
Dobson remains calm and steady between the pipes
Bradley Dobson By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
SMITHS FALLS, Ont.
Bradley Dobson is making quite a name for himself, albeit far from his original home. Dobson, a member of the Moose Cree First Nation, was born in the remote northern Ontario community of Moose Factory. The 17-year-old is now starring in his first season of Junior A hockey with the Smiths Falls Bears. The Bears compete in the 12-team Central Canada Hockey League, comprised of teams in and near Ottawa and surrounding areas in eastern Ontario. Despite being a rookie with the Bears, Dobson, who will turn 18 on Dec. 31, had a league-leading 2.24 goals-against average after his first 13 appearances. Dobson, who had registered two shutouts already, also had six victories to his credit. And he had secured single points for his squad in two other matches, via an overtime setback and a
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shootout loss. “Everything is going great right now,” said Dobson, who is 6foot-2 and 180 pounds. In fact, things are going even better than just great for Dobson. He was recently selected to represent the league in the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge. This nine-team event will be staged Nov. 14 to Nov. 16 in Cornwall, Ont. Dobson will suit up for one of the two CCHL squads competing in the tournament. Four clubs from the Ontario Junior Hockey League will also take part. And there will be single entrants from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, Quebec Junior Hockey League and the Maritime Hockey League. Bears’ coach Mark Grady said Dobson is just a soft-spoken individual who is getting the job done for his club. “I can’t even make up stuff about him,” Grady said. “He’s just a quiet kid. And he stops pucks.” The fact Grady is a Dobson
supporter was further proven this week when the Bears acquired 19-year-old puck-stopper Bo Taylor from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the higher calibre Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With Taylor’s arrival, Grady, who is also Smiths Falls’ general manager, was forced to move one of his other goalies. But he kept Dobson and traded 18-year-old Brennan Kitchen to the CCHL’s Cumberland Grads. Grady first saw Dobson at the Bears’ spring camp earlier this year. “He looked like he could play (in the CCHL),” Grady said. But the Bears’ coach/GM wasn’t sure if a 17-year-old could be his starting goalie. Dobson was actually hoping to play at an even higher level this season. He attended the main training camp for the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs. Though he had a solid camp Dobson was released. But the IceDogs’ brass was unable to send Dobson to their Junior B affiliate, the St. Catharines Falcons, members of
the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. That’s because the Falcons had already committed to other individuals for their goaltending positions this season. Grady, who had kept tabs on Dobson after his appearance at the Bears’ camp in the spring, then invited him to join the Smiths Falls club. Though he is being billeted elsewhere, a selling point for Dobson was that his grandparents live in Smiths Falls. “They’re like five minutes away so I can go have dinner with them,” Dobson said. When he’s on the ice, Dobson tries to keep things simple. “I’m very calm and I try to limit my movements,” he said. “I just try to stay square to the shots.” Dobson’s favourite pro goaltender is Frederik Andersen, who joined the Toronto Maple Leafs this past June after spending the previous three seasons in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks. Dobson said the Danish-born Andersen was his favourite pro
net-minder even before he was traded to the Maple Leafs. Grady admits he hasn’t seen Andersen play too often so he is reluctant to compare Dobson to the Maple Leafs’ current goalie. Instead, he said Dobson’s calmness between the pipes reminds him of another Native pro, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Though ice hockey is Dobson’s first love and he’s hoping to take the sport as far as possible, he’s already a world champion in another sport. During the summer Dobson was a member of the Canadian squad that captured the world under-18 ball hockey tournament in the Czech Republic. He only started playing ball hockey three years ago but his play at provincial championships caught the attention of national team officials. Dobson said he never envisioned being a world champion in that sport. “If you had told me that a few years ago I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.
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[ health ]
Menard, Aglukark, Porter and Sainte-Marie will perform at iHope
Susan Aglukark at CCAB gala in 2012. By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
“Every one of us, we all have our own personal stories, including myself,” said Don Barraclough, whose mother committed suicide when she was in her early twenties and living in Vancouver. Barraclough, president and CEO of NationTalk, is from the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. A recent series of suicides in First Nations communities sparked the idea to hold a benefit concert to bring attention to suicide concerns. The event is more about “life promotion” than it is about suicide, said Barraclough, but the awareness it draws to the issue in general will be beneficial. The Indigenous Healing Our
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People Everywhere (iHope) Benefit Concert is being held at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on Nov. 17. The line-up for the show includes such talent as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Andrea Menard, Susan Aglukark, Murray Porter, and Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolfpack)—a traditional Salish dance group. “Now that we’re hearing what’s going on, the clusters of suicide among our youth, it’s a good time to put even more attention on prevention,” Barraclough said. Andrea Menard, singer, songwriter, actress, and speaker, will play a 40-minute set during iHope. She’s on just before Susan Aglukark. Buffy Sainte-Marie finishes the night off. Menard has struggled with serious depression on-and-off throughout life herself, so the cause is one close to her heart.
“What got me at first were just
the details of the gig… It was wonderful to me as a performer… “When I found out what we were gathered for… Then it became purpose driven. It became part of my heart and soul,” said Menard, adding she believes healing work is part of her duty as an artist. Menard hopes iHope will be part of a positive shift in the way we view suicide, and the way we bring about the solution to the issue. And she’s keeping with her newest, self-imposed, mandate of being more positive herself, both with her songs, and in her personal life, by participating in it. “Joy is our natural inheritance… that is our sacred right as children of the Creator. And we just have to get back to that remembrance,” she said. Barraclough had brought together a group of healthcare workers first to talk about holding the concert, initially planning only to have a small one-guitar, one-singer type show. But the project quickly escalated the more organizers and artists became involved. Sponsors now include NationTalk, as well the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, and the First Nations Health Managers Association. There will be a short reception before the concert, hosted by journalist Carla Robinson to honor the artists and sponsors. “We’re encouraging people to donate or just get involved… Or tweet a message of hope. The hashtag is #iHope and we’re encouraging people to take videos or write messages of hope.” The main beneficiary of the concert will be the Buffalo Riders Training program. The program is run through the Thunderbird
Partnership Foundation of Ontario. Nora Bressette teaches the program, and according to her, the program right now is only for adult First Nations wellness workers, like school support staff, youth program coordinators, and addictions counsellors. After the concert, however— and after the total incoming benefit funds are calculated—the program will be overhauled to meet the needs of youth, specifically between the ages of 11 and 13 in First Nations communities across Canada. “The Buffalo Rider training program basically became part of iHope because there was a First Nations youth gathering with the Assembly of First Nations Youth Council, and they were looking for a tangible way to help, and to manage… the crisis around suicide,” said Bressette. “Buffalo Rider is a good fit because ‘culture’ is the foundation,” she said. The program uses the latest research material in conjunction with culturally-specific teachings. For Bressette, the cultural component is the key ingredient. Communities that have strong cultural connections often have the lowest rate of suicide. The new, revised program should roll out in early 2017, she says, and it will be specifically taught to community-designated youth leaders who can then share their knowledge with their peers. “I really want to thank people across Canada who are going to be making donations. I’m thankful and I appreciate it… By people promoting and participating in the concert, it’s going to show youth across Canada that these individuals are cared about,” said Bressette. For more information go to: http://ihope2016.org/
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[ careers ]
Division-wide numeracy push sees results By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
CONKLIN Northland School Division may be seeing a pay off in its push for numeracy. Conklin Community School placed 12 out of 83 schools in a crosscountry mathematics competition. “I’d like to think that it’s showing we are making progress,” said Conklin school principal Cal Johnson. With 36 students from Kindergarten to Grade 9 doing the work, Conklin school finished as the second highest Alberta school in the Maple Leaf Math Challenge. Schools from Ontario and west (and one from New Brunswick) took part in the October competition. Conklin’s high school students were unable to participate because their elearning schedule did not allow the time. Johnson says the teachers at the school got together and made the project a “good team effort.” “It’s part of their extension to their math lessons. They view the Mathletics as part of what they do,” he said, noting this isn’t the first year Conklin has participated but it is certainly the best the school has ever placed. In the last few years, NSD has stressed literacy and numeracy initiatives and targets for its approximately 2,900 primarily First Nations and Metis students, who attend 24 schools in the northern half of Alberta. Johnson says it’s easy for the students to get down on their math results if they look at the annual Grades 6 and 9 provincial achievement test results. But a big
difference between the PATs and the Maple Leaf Math Challenge, he says, is if the students don’t understand a question with the Mathletics, they can ask for clarification and get support. That opportunity does not exist with the PATs. “Our provincial results, what they see, sometimes the statistics aren’t that great but the reality is, if they put their mind to something, they can do it. I think that was really good for the students to see how well they can do if they try and they don’t have to feel like they’re not capable,” said Johnson. The Maple Leaf Math Challenge provides teachers with supplementary learning materials that tie into the Alberta math curriculum. As well, online assessments are marked immediately, learning gaps identified, and individual student learning pathways are developed. That Conklin students did so well, says Johnson, is an indication of their strength. “It shows that the students are capable. If we provide them with the education that they need, they’re going to see results,” he said. “The confidence that it gives the students is a huge part of this.” Johnson notes that Conklin school has a full two-hour uninterrupted literacy block every day as well as daily mathematics. “We’re really proud of our students. It’s great to see these results coming from our district,” he said. This is Johnson’s first year as principal with Conklin school and first year with NSD. He has spent 11 years in administration and has been in education in British Columbia for 23 years.
Mayors “cool” for reconciliation actions Continued from page 11. the metropolitan area were taken In 2014, Elliot and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson were named honourary witnesses by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, when the TRC hosted its final national event in Edmonton. That year, both Edmonton and Calgary proclaimed years of reconciliation for their cities. Edmonton has gone further with implementing work force initiatives, training city employees on historical trauma, said Iveson, who spoke at the innovation summit. Iveson challenged Winnipeg’s claim to having the largest urban Aboriginal population, saying if
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into consideration, Edmonton came out ahead. “But think about this: cities are competing for the honour to be associated with Indigenous Canadians. It wasn’t always that way,” he said. Iveson said innovation was “a platform … to be united and not divided…. We take reconciliation really, really seriously.” “It’s pretty cool to see our leaders in the major cities and in the smaller towns in the rural areas stepping up with these types of gestures of reconciliation. It’s quite a cool thing,” said Smith.
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Daphne Odjig [ footprints ] Woodlands meets Picasso in artist’s vibrant style By Dianne Meili Even as a young girl, Daphne Odjig was resourceful and creative, turning the family farm pig house into a play school to teach local children math and reading. When they tired of her instruction, she converted the school to a play church, sitting in priest-like serenity to hear her students’ confessions. Growing up, Odjig designed needlework patterns for Jesuit Mission church linens, but it would take a meeting with Elders at a powwow on Manitoulin Island to turn her sights from Christian themes and realism to sought-after images of Manitoulin mysticism. “Some Wikwemikong women told her ‘you have a chance now, you have a voice and you need to start painting our myths and legends to tell people who the Ojibway people are’,” said Jackie Bugera, owner of Edmonton’s Bearclaw Gallery where Odjig’s final 2011 retail gallery exhibit was held. “She always called herself an ‘Indian’ but she admitted she didn’t know what an Indian was back in the 60’s. She and her sisters were walking around the powwow in buckskin dresses and headbands, but they really didn’t know if that was their Ojibway culture,” Bugera added. Odjig painted the legends the community women shared with her and soon after mounted her first exhibition. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson saw it and purchased the entire collection. Born in 1919 on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Odjig sketched for fun with her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, who carved monuments and tombstones, and her father Dominic, who painted war scenes and portraits of soldiers from the Great War. Her family was among the Potawatomi who migrated north and settled in Wikwemikong after the War of 1812. Rheumatic fever forced her out of school and into bed for three years; she hated to quit school but never regretted being able to spend time with her mother and grandfather at home. Both passed away within weeks of each other in 1938. By 1942 she left home and found factory work in Toronto, changing her name to “Fisher”, an old English interpretation of Odjig, in response to racism. On her days off, she frequented the gallery at the Eaton’s College Street store, inspired to teach herself to paint by trial and error. In 1945 she married Paul Somerville, a Mohawk MÈtis war veteran, moving with him across the country to British Columbia. While raising her two boys, she
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experimented with oils on homemade stretchers and recycled tent canvas. She became dissatisfied with realism, choosing to experiment with Cubism and Abstract Expressionism she saw in books and magazines. “If you look through old catalogues of Daphne’s work, you can see how she began altering space and dimension by analyzing and copying artists like Picasso and Van Gogh,” said Bugera. “At the same time, she’s using dark lines and connecting images which shows the Ojibway woodland influence.” Initially jolted by her husband’s death in a car accident, Odjig soldiered on and planted the family farm’s strawberry fields in the summer of 1962, finding time to paint during the winter, still interpreting the works of European impressionists. Her second husband, Chester Beavon, moved the family to northern Manitoba in his work as a development officer. Odjig’s drawings of the hardship faced by the Chemahawin Cree displaced by the Grand Rapids dam, along with paintings of Ojibway legends, figured largely in her first public solo exhibition at the Lakehead Art Centre in Thunder Bay. Next, she was commissioned by Dr. Herbert Schwarz to paint erotic illustrations for his book Tales from the Smokehouse – artwork that comprised an exhibition in Brandon, Daphne Odjig Manitoba. “I laughed when Daphne told me what Dr. Schwarz said when Norval Morrisseau, Beardy and he saw her first efforts at erotica: Janvier. he told her to make the genitalia Emboldened, she opened the larger, much larger,” recalls New Warehouse Gallery in Bugera. Winnipeg, a venture featuring Odjig’s Earth Mother exhibit emerging Aboriginal artists. With at Japan’s Expo 70, viewed by increased demand for their art, Picasso himself, reflected a looser she and her husband expanded and more expressionistic style. the business in 1974. She learned to scale-up her Commissions, invitations for drawings to paint murals, artistic residencies, honorary completing The Great Flood at university degrees, and awards Peguis High School in Hodgson, flowed in throughout the next Manitoba. decades. In 1972, Odjig’s art took her Odjig and her husband moved to Winnipeg for a pivotal back to British Columbia in the exhibition, Treaty Numbers 23, late 1990’s. Officially retiring in 287 and 1171, with Jackson 1999, she continued to draw and Beardy and Alex Janvier. In the paint even though she had two men, she found support and arthritis in her right hand. strength as the only female The 2011 show Bugera Aboriginal artist struggling for mounted at the Bearclaw Gallery recognition in mainstream consisted of works from Odjig’s galleries, a situation made all the private collection, works she had Painting by Daphne Odjig more trying because she was a saved for herself during her they could,” Bugera said. self-taught artist without an art lengthy career. Odjig was a nurturing and degree. “Even though she wasn’t well caring person who was a joy to She was the sole woman, again, enough to attend, I had line-ups work with, according to Bugera. in the Professional Native Artists of people waiting to get in. I “She was tall and elegant, always Association (known as the finally shouted ‘if you want a well put-together. She loved her “Indian Group of Seven”) she co- painting, pull the tag off the wall turquoise jewellery and when founded along with Carl Ray, and hang onto it’ because she’d bring art in, she’d trade for Joseph Sanchez, Eddy Cobiness, everyone was grabbing whatever pieces she just had to have.”
The artist hoped young people would follow in her footsteps and create expressions of their heritage more openly and joyfully than even she had. Odjig passed away on Oct. 1 in Kelowna, with her family at her bedside. She was 97.
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