34 No. 16 • November 2016 plus GST /HST Volume where applicable
Inform. Impact. Inspire. Independent. Indigenous. Blackstock flattered, but won’t run for leader of the NDP Page 4
Canada continues to fail Indigenous women under the Indian Act Page 7
Residential school system was genocide, needs day of refection Page 2
www.windspeaker.com / www.ammsa.com
Alb Swee erta tgras s Insid e ! Pag
Photo: April Bencze/ Heiltsuk Nation.
Windspeaker • Established 1983
ISSN 0834 - 177X •
Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA)
es 10 –15!
Diesel spill has reached the shores after tugboat crash 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 5.
November II 2016
[ news ]
This is personal: Residential school system was genocide, needs a day of refection By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette says now that he has “put it down on paper what it should look like” he is hopeful that a member of the Trudeau Cabinet – either Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett or Heritage Minister MÈlanie Joly – will take his private members bill forward as a piece of legislation, setting June 2 as Indian residential school reconciliation and memorial day. If the passage of the bill has to depend on him, Ouellette says residential school survivors and their descendants will be waiting at least three years for the first hour of debate on the bill. “I’m very low down on the list for private members bills itself, so anything I would put forward would take a long time to get debated and then actually be approved,” said the Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre. “Private members bills often don’t get passed.” But that didn’t stop Ouellette from introducing the bill Monday for first reading. And he didn’t mince words when he said the Indian residential school system was an act of genocide, as set out under the 1949 United Nations Convention. Ouellette said support from Parliament for Bill C-318 would “affirm the treaty relationship between Canada, Canadians and Indigenous peoples.” Ouellette admitted some people will be upset or angered by the term “genocide” but “sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair and now Canadian Senator Murray Sinclair called Indian residential schools “cultural genocide.” It was the term genocide – or more accurately the decision by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights not to use the word to describe the Indian residential school system – that spurred Maeengan Linklater as the driving force behind Bill C318. Linklater was contracted as the Aboriginal program coordinator by CMHR prior to the museum’s opening. When CMHR decided against using the term “genocide” to describe Canada’s Aboriginal policies, Linklater said he found himself in an “emotionally tough time.” As the first visible First
Nations male to be employed at the museum, he took the brunt of the anger from Winnipeg’s Aboriginal people. That city has Canada’s highest urban
Aboriginal population. Linklater was encouraged to draft something similar to the 2003 legislation that established a Holocaust Memorial Day. He
made use of material and expertise from the museum to work on a resolution. When Linklater’s contract with the museum ran out in
January 2015, he began drafting legislation. He approached Ouellette after the federal election to bring a petition forward. Ouellette suggested it be drafted as a private member’s bill. And so the work began with the Parliamentary lawyers. Linklater says while there may have been more strength in having the bill put forward by Cabinet, he is “honoured” to have had Ouellette present it. “This has been developed by First Nations people … and now it’s being led by a First Nations male politician for the benefit of the Indigenous communities,” said Linklater. For both Linklater and Ouellette, the Indian residential school experience is personal. Linklater’s parents went to residential school, but never spoke of it. Ouellette’s father and grandparents also attended residential schools. Now that the bill has been introduced, Ouellette says he will begin lobbying Bennett and Joly to move the bill forward. “I think it’s important enough that it should come from the government. It shouldn’t have to come from a private member,” he said. In its 94 calls to action, the TRC included the establishment of a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and “ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.” Ouellette says this bill isn’t calling for June 2 to be a national holiday, but instead setting it as a day for reflection on that part of Canadian history. Linklater says the bill isn’t about dwelling on those dark times, but about “actually charting a new position. Let’s focus on the future in terms of building our communities, building our people, continuing our healing and just making sure we’re going to be in a better place and we start looking at the treaties as a means of doing that.” Ouellette is working on introducing another private member’s bill. This one would see National Aboriginal Day on June 21 set as a national holiday for celebrating the culture and history of Indigenous peoples. Here is the link to Bill C-318: h t t p : / / w w w. p a r l . g c . c a / HousePublications/ Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1 &DocId=8557667
November II 2016
[ contents ]
Features Publisher Bert Crowfoot Editorial 1-780-455-2700 E-mail: email@example.com
Contributing News Editor Debora Steel Advertising Sales 1-800-661-5469 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Marketing Paul Macedo
National Sales Shirley Olsen Accounts Carol Russ • Tanis Jacob Circulation Tanis Jacob
Canada continues to fail Indigenous women under the Indian Act 7 “Canada keeps making the situation worse,” said lawyer Pam Palmater about the government’s latest attempt to take gender-based discrimination out of the Indian Act. “Every time they just tinker with it a little tiny bit, they create new forms of discrimination and leave out people and they have to tinker with it again to try and fix that,” she explained.
Condemn Canadian company Enbridge, says Treaty alliance 7
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being called upon to condemn the role of Enbridge Inc. in “violations” against the rights of the Indigenous people and their allies resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project at Standing Rock.
AMMSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President Leona Shandruk Vice President Rose Marie Willier Treasurer Dr. Chester Cunningham Secretary Noel McNaughton
TRC calls to action update after 500-plus days since Trudeau’s promise 9 It’s been 513 days since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action and only five have been completed. So says Ian Mosby – with the help of crowdsourced information.
Directors Elmer Ghostkeeper Rhonda Lizotte Jennie Cardinal Windspeaker subscriptions: Individual – 12 issues $20.00 +GST Individual – 24 issues $30.00 +GST Institutional/Corporate – 24 issues: $50.00+GST Published since 1983, Windspeaker is politically and financially independent. COPY RIGHTS Advertisements designed, set and produced by Windspeaker as well as pictures, news, cartoons, editorial content and other printed material are the property of Windspeaker and may not be used without the express written permission of Windspeaker. Letters to the editor can be sent to: Windspeaker 13245 - 146 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5L 4S8 General Enquiries: email@example.com Rants and Raves: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @windspeakernews Facebook: /windspeakernews
Departments [ alberta sweetgrass ] 10 - 15
[ sports ] 16 & 17 [ education ] 18 [ health ] 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.
Alberta Magazine Publishers Association
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 I 2016 issue of Windspeaker is November 11, 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.
○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
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
November II 2016
[ news ]
Matter of conscience over pipeline/mining concerns leads artist to quit the MNO By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
ESPANOLA, Ont. Christi Belcourt is leaving the Métis Nation of Ontario registry because her “conscience demands it.” Belcourt is the well-known artist who created the stained glass window in the Centre Block of Parliament, which commemorates Indian residential school students and their families. In a letter sent to the MNO and posted to social media sites Nov. 1, she requested that her name and her daughter’s name be removed from the registry, saying the decision brought her a “great deal of sadness.” Belcourt wrote that the MNO’s agreements with TransCanada for the Energy East pipeline, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization for burial of nuclear waste, and other mining agreements forced her decision to leave the organization. She said she learned of the signings through word of mouth as the agreements were never brought to membership for discussion or ratification. She said
PHOTO: INDIGENOUS AND NORTHERN AFFAIRS CANADA
Metis artist Christi Belcourt and Elder Alo White in front of the installed stained glass window in Centre Block. requests from membership to see the actual agreements have not been granted. Response to her letter on Facebook has blown up with more than 100 people commenting, including her father Tony Belcourt, who founded the MNO. “Nobody knows the courage of my beautiful daughter Christi
more than I. On the one hand it is very sad to me that it had to come to this. On the other I am hoping it will provoke everyone in the Métis Nation to turn its focus on what matters most and the values we embedded in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose and the objective to protect lands and waters that was approved at the MNO General
Assembly this summer,” posted Tony. “We need to rethink the way that we are doing things on this earth and that means that we need to look at our traditional governance, we need to start to implement traditional governance and abandon these western ways of thinking and of doing things,” Christi told Windspeaker. She said Indigenous organizations are getting away from their roots and must return to the land and water. . “We don’t hear a peep from the Métis National Council on the issues of the environment or water or much at all. The MNO is not alone in the way that they’re acting in the sense that … other Indigenous organizations across the country are doing exactly the same thing,” she said. Indigenous organizations have embraced western ways and the corporate structure, said Christi, which “never gives the grassroots a voice and it never puts the earth first. It always puts economic development first.” “We’re at the tipping point now,” she said. “Climate change is real and we can no longer support organizations that do not
speak for a voice for future generations.” Those commenting on Christi’s Facebook page agree with her. “When we follow the ways of the earth and we begin to take up the ways of our ancestors again, we will be helping the earth for the next generations. Our children have to be the focus and the ones not born yet have to be the focus and that includes all species, the babies of all the animals as well,” she said. Belcourt says it is not her intention for anybody else to pull their names from the MNO registry. In fact, such action could have personal impact on Belcourt. To benefit from the Manitoba land claims, Belcourt needs to be a member of the Manitoba MÈtis Federation or apply through MMF, which is affiliated with the MNC. “So that takes me off that even though some of my ancestors were living in and around the area and I could possibly be eligible for part of that claim,” she said. A spokesman for the MNO said President Margaret Froh would not be commenting on Belcourt’s letter or decision.
Blackstock flattered, but won’t run for leader of the NDP By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
OTTAWA A movement started to draft Cindy Blackstock as the next leader of the federal NDP is flattering, she says, but it’s not where she needs to be at this point. “In life you’ve just got to think about where you’re best suited, where you can make the biggest contribution, and for me, right now, that’s outside of politics,” said the executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Blackstock – and her organization – have been the driving force behind equal funding for children living in care on reserve. The society joined with the Assembly of First Nations in 2007 to file a claim with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Aboriginal Affairs asserting that First Nations family and child services agencies received less funding to do their work on reserve than the provinces spend for children in care off-reserve. This past January, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal sided with Blackstock and the AFN and ordered the
Online campaign started to draft Cindy Blackstock as the next leader of the federal NDP new Liberal government to ante up the money needed to level the playing field. But the Trudeau government has been dragging its heels and Blackstock has been vocal about that disappointment, especially when the federal budget was delivered in March. Although nearly $635 million was allocated over five years to strengthen services for First Nations child welfare, only 15 per cent of that funding was to come
in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. An additional $99 million was scheduled for the following fiscal year. Fifty-four per cent of the funds were slated to come during the 2019 election year and the year following. That breakdown was unacceptable, said Blackstock. Earlier this month, a Twitter account and Facebook page entitled “Draft Cindy Blackstock for leader of Canada’s NDP” went online. And that was when
Blackstock found out that someone had thrown her name into the ring. “Imagine Canada’s first Indigenous woman Prime Minister. Help us draft Cindy Blackstock,” says one tweet. “That’s a movement started without anyone talking to me. It’s flattering, but I’m not running,” she said. It’s not the first time others have tried to draft her for prime minister – or as leader for the
NDP. At the NDP convention in Edmonton last April, delegates voted to review Tom Mulcair’s leadership and Jenn Jefferys started a petition to support Blackstock as leader. Jefferys said Blackstock was “fiercely persuasive and stands up for what she believes in. Her†principles align with the traditional social democratic principles of the New Democratic Party.” While Blackstock did speak at the NDP convention, she admits that she doesn’t have a membership in any party. Even her voting strategy doesn’t lean in any definite direction. “I don’t vote by party. I vote by the ethics and the practises of the party at the time,” she said. Blackstock says she’s also been approached to run as national chief for the AFN. “I’m honoured that people would even think of me in those capacities. Those are very heavy responsibilities,” she said. Blackstock says she wants to continue to direct her energy toward helping children and families on reserve. “At some point in the future, if Canada continues to violate these orders, maybe I would think about a different strategy like that, but not at this point,” she said.
November II 2016
[ rants and raves ]
One year in and we’re falling backwards That old mistrust is creeping in. And it all started out so hopeful… a new day, a new relationship, and a bright new enlightenment after the long dark bleak winter of Conservative rule. But today, we’ve got to call it. The Liberal Party of Canada has duped us. Instead of ‘sunny ways,’ we’re getting a long familiar shadow cast over all our dreams. The bright new day promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is diminished in our eyes. He sure talks fine words, but he’s like every other top dog that Canada has elected. Full of himself and full of promises he can’t, or won’t, keep. First Nations leaders aren’t ready to give up on him. How could they, really? What are the options for them? But we’ll tell you something that you can take to the bank. The moment we heard the Justice Minister say the government had no intention of adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People into law, we knew the jig was up. No new day, no new way; just election sweet nothings that had been blown in our ears. Now the romance is over, like the blush off a rose, one year after Trudeau was swept into power. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to finally lift that heavy weight of oppression off of our chests? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to sit across the table and negotiate our way, on a fair and level playing field, into prosperity and good health for our people? Of course, we got suckered. We wanted it so much. And to think he even installed as Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. She’s a respected First Nations leader who held positions that pushed up strongly against government in the past. That was the icing on the cake for us. Why would Trudeau do that if he wasn’t sincere? Why indeed? In an article in this paper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde has called into question WilsonRaybould’s commitment to Indigenous rights and issues. That’s a harsh indictment from the chief (with a dollop of some bitter Indian politics on top, we suspect). Still, the
question needs to be put forward. Has the Justice Minister been co-opted? “How do we partner with [Indigenous people in Cabinet] to make sure that they’re espousing the rights agenda, they’re espousing everything they stood for and worked for all their lives?” the AFN chief is asking. This is her added burden in this role. After being elected one full year ago, Trudeau and company have accomplished very little for us. They’ve even ignored their own country’s Human Rights Tribunal leaving our children in care without equitable funding, despite orders from the Human Rights Commission to step up and be the country they think it is. Trudeau, et al, in fact has put many of our territories in harm’s way. The Site C dam approval is a case in point. That Canada, in this day and age, has given the OK to flood wide tracks of traditional territory and displace Aboriginal people for a benefit that won’t come for many decades, is stunning. It’s regressive, and it’s hypocritical, and the antithesis of what we were promised. And the PM is not done. There is more disappointment and regret for us coming down the pipeline. Just a few years from now when we’re still waiting for the benefits to flow from this nation-to-nothing relationship we have, Trudeau and his ilk will be around to us again, kissing our babies and pressing our palms. Fool us once, shame on them. But fool us twice… well, then we just have it coming. Besides, we have other options than dropping a ballot in a voting booth once every four years to get the attention we deserve. We used the voting tool last year, but soon it may come time for us to employ others. We’re so inspired by the resistance shown the North Dakota Access Pipeline. The courage, the bravery that people have shown makes us proud. Making things uncomfortable for government, corporations, and Canadians, and making it difficult to get things done can again be a tried and true method of our peoples. Windspeaker
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: email@example.com twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews
November II 2016
Diesel spill has reached the shores after tugboat crash
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. Trapped oil has been discovered in at least three coves in Seaforth Channel, reads a press statement from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Oct. 24. Beach crews have been deployed to find stranded oil on beaches and rocky shoreline areas. Crews will be raking beaches to bring up diesel trapped six to eight inches below the surface and flush it out with water, an ongoing process that will have to be repeated in the same areas over the coming weeks. Incident Command reported this morning that divers discovered at least one of the heavy oil tanks on the tug was damaged and contained seawater. Heiltsuk are concerned about the additional impacts of heavy oil from the tug on marine life in the area. Schools of juvenile herring were filmed at the dirty tug and an orca was spotted in Seaforth Channel yesterday. The seafloor also contains sea urchins, sea cucumbers, a variety of clams, kelp forests and juvenile salmon. Gale Creek is the area where the Heiltsuk the area where the Heiltsuk commercial and food harvest clam fishery takes place.
[ strictly speaking ]
Unsportsmanlike names and the time for change Indigenous activist and worldrenowned architect Douglas Cardinal lost his bid in Ontario Superior Court to stop the Cleveland Indians baseball team from using its “racist name” and Chief Wahoo mascot logo during the American League Championship Series games played in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The application also named Rogers Communications Inc., which broadcast the games. Cardinal’s lawyer, Michael Swinwood, said the Cleveland Indians’ team name and mascot Chief Wahoo, the cartoonish image of a man with red skin, a toothy imbecilic grin, and a feather in his headband are offensive and discriminatory to Native people. This was just the latest salvo in an ongoing battle against what many consider to be the politically incorrect names of numerous professional sports teams. But in this age of equity, diversity and inclusion, it’s becoming more and more difficult to understand what is socially acceptable when referring to Aboriginal people, sports and other complex issues. The standard argument is that these team names renders an entire race of people and their culture to that of inanimate objects, a maple leaf or a sabre, an animal, manta ray or penguins, or ruthless and desperate people, buccaneers or pirates. It is also pointed out that you don’t see other ethnically offensive names peppering the sports page
THE URBANE INDIAN
Drew Hayden Taylor
like the New York Jews or the Detroit Blacks or the Phoenix Latinos. Just Native people. The counter perspective says instead, the monikers honour Native people. However, a good chunk of those people being honoured might disagree. And if those being honoured disagree about being honoured, does that indeed honour them? I heard one person arguing that people of Nordic heritage aren’t voicing any discontent about the Minnesota Vikings football team. Vikings, to the best of my knowledge, are no longer pillaging and raping their way along the coast line of Europe, while Native people are still a vibrant and participating North American presence, small but distinct difference. I would like to point out though, that some of my best friends are Vikings. Canada’s First Nation population are not afraid to
address this controversial topic. You might even say….the Natives are restless. So in the interest of good community relations and keeping the lines of communication open, I would like to offer a humble glossary of familiar terms no longer acceptable to the average Indigenous person you might casually pass walking down the street. Let’s start with the obvious: Sports teams. Cleveland Indians—I don’t think so. To most Native people, the logo is generally considered offensive. Add to that, I doubt very much there are many Indians (North American or South Asians) on the actual team, much like actual Canadiens playing for the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a symbol of a bygone era, and should be relegated to such. Washington Redskins—Just a general misnomer. Native people don’t actually have red skins.
Some say that belief dates back to the Beothuk who used to coat their body with red ochre. Today, generally Native people’s skin colour runs the gamut from snow to eggshell to cream all the way through to nut brown, wheat, and shades of dusty copper. The only redskin seen in our communities are those that come back from Mexico in February. Atlanta Braves—two words— tomahawk chop. You don’t see Blue Jays fans pretending to eat worms. This is also the state that, as part of a land grab, sent most of its Indigenous population on what was called the Trail of Tears. Thousands died on a long forced march in the 1830’s to what was referred to as the Indian territories, today called Oklahoma. Nothing particularly brave about that. Edmonton Eskimos—If I remember correctly, a survey/poll was done a year or so ago asking local residents if they thought the team should consider changing the contentious name of the Canadian football team. The answer was a resounding no. So the team will continue to acknowledge the fact they come from Edmonton. Common phrases that litter contemporary language use: Having a powwow: Frequently used to describe a gathering or meeting of some general sort. Commonly heard when a coach, catcher and pitcher are in conference on the mound. This is not a powwow. There are no dancers, no drummers, no Indian tacos. Native people do
not, on average, meet on large mounds of dirt. This is a gathering of highly paid nonNative professionals. This is a board meeting. Off the reservation: A phrase usually used to describe someone’s actions that are not socially, or ethically, acceptable. In the Canadian Native community, when we say ‘off the reservation’ (or more accurately off-reserve), we mean going to a place with adequate housing, drinkable water, decent education and medical care. The veat of a different drum: This is not as controversial as other sayings due to the fact that many cultures around the world use drums in their social and spiritual activities. Generally speaking, First Nations are very pro-beating different drums. Think of how boring the world would be if there was only one drum to beat. And crowded. The cavalry coming to the rescue: That one should be fairly easy. From the Aboriginal perspective, our position should be quite self-evident. Native or First Nation: This is the number one question the Aboriginal people of this land get asked. “What the hell should we call you guys now?” Complex question because it varies, depending if you are on the reserve, in the city, at a university, working in government, getting a pedicure, etc. In order to cover all the bases (sports metaphor), I recommend the term NAFNIP: Native Aboriginal First Nations Indigenous Person/People.
Government needs to act now on suicide prevention recommendations By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
The frustration bleeds through when Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff talks about recommendations that have been repeatedly ignored by provincial governments. “Since my office has been responsible for investigative reviews, we’ve made 34 recommendations to address suicide for young people. Of 34 of those recommendations, only eight have been met. That’s less than a quarter of them,” said Graff Fifteen recommendations have received no response other than the government saying that they have been accepted. Graff says this lack of action by the province is not what he had expected. Tuesday morning, Graff ’s
Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff
office released two investigative reports into the deaths of two young people. One of those youths, 17-year-old Onessa (not her real name), committed suicide. She was the target of online sexual exploitation. Onessa had received child intervention services within two years of taking her life. Onessa
has Indigenous ancestry through her father, although that is not identified in the OCYA report, because, says Graff, Onessa had not seen her father since she was an infant and being Indigenous was not part of her day-to-day life. In the report on Onessa’s death, Graff reinforces
recommendations already made by his office to address youth suicide. This past April, OCYA released a special report entitled “Toward a Better Tomorrow.” “We identified 12 recommendations that we believe had a comprehensive kind of a way of understanding both what contributes to youth suicide and what are some protective factors, particularly for Indigenous youth,” said Graff. In responding to the OCYA’s report on Onessa, Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir said in a statement, “Our government recognizes that the rates of suicide for Indigenous youth are too high and we will continue to work closely across government, with Indigenous leaders and community partners to strengthen the way we support Indigenous children and families.”
Sabir also said that his department accepted the recommendations made by the OCYA in Onessa’s report “and commit to carefully reviewing them as we explore necessary actions to address these issues.” Top of mind for most people has been the six Indigenous girls, who committed suicide in Saskatchewan in October. “The recommendations (from “Toward a Better Tomorrow”) … just don’t call on a suicide prevention program only for Indigenous youth. We call for a broader kind of comprehensive approach for suicide prevention. For me that would make a difference. If government were progressively acting on that then we’d be much less likely to have those kinds of concerns that are coming up in Saskatchewan right now,” said Graff.
Continued on page 9.
November II 2016
[ news ]
Canada continues to fail Indigenous women under the Indian Act By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
“Canada keeps making the situation worse,” said lawyer Pam Palmater about the government’s latest attempt to take gender-based discrimination out of the Indian Act. “Every time they just tinker with it a little tiny bit, they create new forms of discrimination and leave out people and they have to tinker with it again to try and fix that,” she explained. The government’s latest proposed amendment to the Indian Act—Bill S-3—targets gender-based inequities in registration. The bill comes in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in the case of Descheneaux et al., v. Canada. “What they’re doing is what they always do, a very piecemeal, facts-specific amendment that generally addresses only part of the concerns raised in a case.” Palmater points to the Lovelace and McIvor cases as examples. The Lovelace amendment came in 1985 through Bill C-31. Before C-31, status women who married non-status men, lost their status. Men, on the other hand, who married non-status women, not only retained their status, their non-status wives and their children could gain status. When C-31 became law and changed that specific gender inequality, the amendment to the Indian Act left in place provisions that discriminated against some children by conferring status to those whose status grandparent was a man,
but not to those whose status grandparent was a woman. The McIvor case in 2009 tackled that issue and brought about Indian Act amendments in 2010. Now, Bill S-3 identifies three specific gender-based inequities: cousins, siblings and omitted minors. The cousins’ issue addresses the treatment of first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage with a nonstatus Indian, when that marriage occurred before April 17, 1985. The siblings’ issue addresses the treatment of women who were born out of wedlock of Indian fathers between Sept. 4, 1951, and April 17, 1985. The issue of omitted minors
addresses the treatment of minor children, compared to their adult or married siblings, who were born of Indian parents or of an Indian mother, but lost entitlement to Indian status because their mother married a non-status Indian after their birth, and between Sept. 4, 1951, and April 17, 1985. Palmater said the answer to all this tinkering is simple enough. “They’re making this far more complex than it needs to be…. the trial court in McIvor said what you need to do is just go back and make men and women equal … wherever men and their descendants get status, Indian women and their descendants should get the same Indian status,” she said. That’s exactly what the United
Nations has said. Palmater is fresh back from testifying in Geneva in front of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Canada also had a delegation present. “(The UN’s) very first question to the Canadian delegation was why are you not addressing all of the gender discrimination in the Indian Act? Canada’s response was we have to address Descheneaux by February,” said Palmater. The Superior Court of Quebec gave Canada until Feb. 3, 2017 to make the necessary legislative amendments. While the Native Women’s Association of Canada has commended the government for introducing Bill S-3, NWAC
states in a news release that there are still “other misogynist laws that have been discriminating against Indigenous women and girls for centuries.” NWAC notes that Dr. Lynn Gehl, in ongoing litigation, has identified the unknown or unstated paternity policy, in which the government asserts that lack of a father’s signature on a birth certificate means the father is a non-status Indian. “Even worse,” said NWAC, “the unknown or unstated paternity policy applies to Indigenous mothers whose children were conceived through the violent acts of sexual assault, incest, rape or prostitution. “This adds further insult to injury by depriving her children of the socio-economic and cultural benefits of status Indianship and First Nations citizenship.” Palmater says the government does not have to – nor should it – wait until court decisions have been rendered before it takes action to address all gender inequities in the Indian Act. In moving forward on Bill S3, the federal government says it will begin a collaborative process early next year with First Nations and other Indigenous groups to examine the broader issues relating to Indian registration, Band membership and citizenship. Palmater points out that Bill S-3 prevents those who have been wrongfully discriminated against from getting compensation. She says it’s just one more indication of the continued discrimination Indigenous women face.
Condemn Canadian company Enbridge, says Treaty alliance Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being called upon to condemn the role of Enbridge Inc. in “violations” against the rights of the Indigenous people and their allies resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project at Standing Rock. The call comes from the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sand Expansion, made up of 85 international First Nations and Tribes, which prohibits the passage of proposed Tar Sands pipelines, trains and tankers. The alliance was launched on Sept. 22, with the majority of signatories located in Canada,
November II 2016
reads a press statement. Enbridge, headquartered in Calgary, announced on Aug. 2 it would invest $1.5 billion in exchange for a 27.6 per cent share of the Dakota Access pipeline project. The pipeline will transport fracked oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to Illinois. It would pass under the Missouri River, the source of drinking water for the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as millions more. “It is time for the Prime Minister, who has stated that no relationship is more important to him than the one with
Indigenous peoples, to take a stand in support of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allied nations as they resist the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “This historic moment at Standing Rock is a Canadian issue that you must publicly address Mr. Prime Minister: we are talking about a Canadian company committing severe human rights violations and some of its victims are brave water protectors and land defenders from First Nations up North.”
The resistance shown at Standing Rock has seen many clashes between security guards and the water protectors and their allies, including the violent use of attack dogs on the people on Sept. 3. “There is a battle being waged across the globe by Indigenous people and their allies demanding a safe world for future generations,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. This is about water versus oil: life versus death. “Right now, the frontlines of the battle for humanity’s survival are located at Standing
Rock. It is time to choose Mr. Prime Minister. To be silent is to be complicit: do you stand with Enbridge and the forces trying to ram through the Dakota Access pipeline or do you stand for human rights and the protection of the environment,” Phillip asked. The Treaty Alliance will be holding an upcoming event in Ottawa on Nov. 15 where they will announce the groups that will be signing the Solidarity Accord in support of the Treaty Alliance. A copy of the Solidarity Accord and other information can be found at www.treatyalliance.org
November II 2016
[ news ]
TRC calls to action update after 500-plus days since Trudeau’s promise By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
It’s been 513 days since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action and only five have been completed. So says Ian Mosby – with the help of crowd-sourced information. On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Mosby began to tweet each of the calls to action that had been outlined by the TRC after seven years of meeting with survivors and generational survivors of Indian residential schools. Mosby used on-line research and corrections presented by groups in the know –lawyers, librarians and archivists– to determine whether the calls to action had been completed, some work undertaken, or it was unclear as to whether there had been progress. When he completed his recitation of the calls this morning, the tally was disappointing: five complete, 86 incomplete and three uncertain. “I had a feeling when I first started thinking about this project that a lot less had been implemented than I thought,” said Mosby. The Toronto-based historian undertook the task in preparation of a talk he is to give at the Canadian Studies Conference at Carleton University in Ottawa this weekend. His topic is the calls to action and Canada’s progress. But Mosby’s commitment to
Duchess and Duke of Cambridge visited B.C.’s central coast during their recent Canadian tour.
the calls to action goes beyond scholarly. He has been travelling to First Nations communities and meeting residential school survivors since he published an article in 2013 that showed how the government had conducted nutritional experiments using students in six residential schools. “I’ve listened to the testimony of dozens and dozens of survivors and I’ve made friends with survivors and it’s affected me pretty profoundly,” he said. It took Mosby until call to action # 41 to mark a “complete.” And even then, the launch of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls has not been met without criticism. Many Indigenous groups are charging lack of progress and lack of communication on the part of
the commission members. “If you look at some of the other ones I’ve marked as completed, they’re completed, but there’s still a lot of work to be done as well,” he said. “There are definitely grey areas, but I tried to stick to the wording. Has the wording of that specific call to action been met? And in the case of murdered and missing Indigenous women inquiry… there were a few specifics and the government had met that threshold in my opinion.” Mosby also broke the calls to action down to the groups that needed to undertake the specifics. According to his calculations, the federal government, Crown corporations and non-profit organizations have each
completed one call to action, while the churches have completed two. Mosby says he is surprised to see the lack of progress, however, he does understand that everything cannot be accomplished in 513 days – even though Justin Trudeau put out a news release that same day saying his Liberal government was committed to implementing all 94 calls to action. Trudeau has been in power for just over a year now. “A lot of the calls to action will take a long time, especially the ones that call for cooperation between multiple levels of governments, multiple groups. So that’s part of it…. They will require years of work,” said Mosby. But he contends that there are
some calls to action that could have been “easily implemented” by now as they require no money and relatively little debate in the House of Commons. He points to the creation of a National Day of Reconciliation. Mosby’s tweets have been getting quite the reaction, he says, as he’s gaining followers and personal responses and he is being retweeted. Mosby has registered a website to upload the information once crowd-sourcing and all the correct information has been garnered. “It’s to keep the government’s foot to the fire, and keep everyone who’s responsible for these calls to action feet to the fire, to actually implement them … so this isn’t another report that gets put on a shelf,” he said.
Government needs to act now on suicide prevention recommendations Continued from page 6. He repeated the need for a provincially-funded suicide prevention strategy that supports the development of community-led strategies across the province. Following this, he says, there needs to be capacity building for specific populations at risk, including Indigenous youth and sexually genderdiverse young people.
Graff said the report “Toward a Better Tomorrow” was meant as a message to government that “this issue demands action now. We’re still saying that. If you contact me in six months or in a year, I’ll still be saying that. It needs to happen now.” Graff says he does not know how many more children need to take their lives before the government implements all the
recommendations made by his office. The second investigative report addressed the accidental drowning of Netasinim (not his name), a 15-year-old First Nation youth, who was receiving child intervention services from a delegated First Nation authority. The investigation concluded with no recommendations being put
forward – the first time that has happened in the 20 investigative reports undertaken by the OCYA. However, Graff does note that recommendations made in “Voices for Change,” the OCYA’s special report on Aboriginal child welfare which was released in July, would have had an impact on Netasinim, his family and community.
He points out that Netasinim was in a group home off of his First Nation at the time that he made the return visit to his home community. If First Nations had more resources, Graff says, conditions regarding Netasinim’s earlier care could have been addressed more readily and he may have been able to remain in care on his reserve.
To receive free digital editions of Windspeaker – just register your email by contacting us at: firstname.lastname@example.org November II 2016
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Elder Elsie Paul led the prayer at a rally for Cindy Gladue, underscoring the need for diversity on the bench. (Photo: Shari Narine)
Diversifying bench remains priority for province By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
As the province pushes for more judicial appointments by the federal government, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley says she would like to see those appointments reflective of Alberta’s diversity. “Certainly the position of this provincial government that we need to see the diversity of population represented in all aspects of government, including the bench. I certainly have an eye to that when I’m making appointments to the provincial court. I understand that the federal justice minister also has that high on her list of things that she considers important. So I mean I believe they will be looking at it but it’s difficult to say (as) ultimately that will be their decision,” said Ganley. Ganley’s most recent appointment came on Sept. 28 when she appointed Ivan Modeste Laurie Ladouceur, a
P a g e [ 10 ]
member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, to St. Paul, in the Edmonton region of the provincial court. Last Thursday when Ganley was making the call for 10 new positions for the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal,federal Justice Minister Jody WilsonRaybould announced five new judges to the province’s Court of Queen’s Bench and the promotion of two others to the Alberta Court of Appeal. While two of the five new judges are women, none of the five are Indigenous. However, in total, WilsonRaybould appointed or promoted 24 judges, two of whom self-identified as Indigenous and 14 of whom were women. Wilson-Raybould also announced new measures to strengthen the role of judicial advisory committees in the judicial appointment process. “I understand part of the reason they want to revamp their federal appointment process is to ensure that it’s transparent and reflective of
the population,” said Ganley. Wilson-Raybould announced that among the changes that would take place immediately, the JACs would be “reconstituted” to better represent Canada’s diversity. Diversity on Alberta’s bench is imperative, says Kim Stanton, legal director for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. Stanton’s comment came in an interview with Sweetgrass late last month after she had been in Alberta presenting written briefs to the Court of Appeal on Cindy Gladue’s case and to the Canadian Judicial Committee discussing Justice Robin Camp’s future. In the Gladue case, an Edmonton jury acquitted Ontario truck driver Bradley Barton of second degree murder, accepting that rough sex led to the death of Gladue, an Indigenous woman and sex trade worker. In the incident of Camp, the Calgary judge came under fire for the comments he made both during the 2014 trial in Alberta Provincial Court in Calgary and in
rendering his verdict — which was later overturned — as he acquitted Alexander Scott Wagar of sexually assaulting a young Indigenous woman. “There is a great need for diversity on the bench,” said Stanton. “If you have a homogenous bench then you will not have credibility with the people in front of you at some point, because the people appearing in front of judges are much more diverse than the bench.” Ganley’s push for more judges follows the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v. Jordan this summer that the accused has the right to be tried within a reasonable time. The Supreme Court set 18 months for cases tried in provincial court and 30 months for cases in the superior court or cases tried in provincial court after a preliminary inquiry. Ganley said in light of the Jordan decision, Alberta could not continue with a businessas-usual approach. She said cases would have to be prioritized to work through the existing backlog and to ensure
serious, violent charges are dealt with and not dismissed. She said the focus would be on ensuring early case resolutions, which could mean dismissing or dropping charges, or diverting cases to be dealt with in other ways. She said Crown Prosecutors would review cases on an individual basis. “Over the last 20 years, Alberta’s population has grown by 50 per cent and the previous federal government, as well as the previous provincial government, failed to address the growing strain. That’s going to have to change,” said Ganley. “Beyond current vacancies, Alberta needs more justices.” Alberta passed an Order in Council on Oct. 19 creating an additional nine positions on the Court of Queen’s Bench and an additional position on the Court of Appeal. Following the federal appointments and the newly created positions by the province, there are 21 vacant positions in Alberta. All those positions have to be filled through appointments by the federal government.
November II 2016
EPS receives Wolf Award The Edmonton Police Service has become the first law enforcement agency to win a national award that honours efforts to improve relations between cultures and races. On Wednesday, EPS Chief Rod Knecht received the Wolf Award on behalf of the police force’s Indigenous Relations Unit for its Oskayak Police Academy. The summer program began three years ago. Participants are trained in leadership development and problem solving, attend educational sessions and traditional cultural activities with diverse speakers and Elders, assist with community outreach in the downtown core, and experience what it is like to be a police recruit. Wolf Project founder Heather Acres said several First Nations leaders nominated the EPS for the award. The Wolf Project was founded in 1995.
River Cree Resort & Casino celebrates 10 years On Wednesday the River Cree Resort & Casino celebrated its 10th anniversary, the first of the five First Nation casinos to open in Alberta. “When I look back on the 25 year journey which my Nation and I have been on to bring us to this day, where we sit as the sole owner and operator of the most successful resort and casino in Western Canada, I take enormous pride in all we have accomplished and look forward to an even brighter future…. Our results and performance show that we are on the right path,” said President and CEO Robert Morin in a statement. In January 2014, River Cree became the first Canadian First Nation-owned business to successfully issue a cross-border bond offering, allowing the Enoch Cree Nation to obtain sole ownership of the River Cree. In 2015, ECN assumed sole management. Improvements and expansion of services and amenities at River Cree will continue in the years to come.
Indspire awards presented to Spence, Butcher Doreen Spence, of Saddle Lake, and Josh Butcher, of the Metis Nation of Alberta, are two of 14 recipients of Indspire Awards, announced Wednesday morning. Spence was recognized in the Culture, Heritage and Spirituality category, while Butcher won for Metis youth. Justice Murray Sinclair, appointed to the senate in March, and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. The Indspire Awards recognize Indigenous professionals and youth, who demonstrate outstanding career achievement. They promote self-esteem and pride for Indigenous communities and provide outstanding role models for Indigenous youth.
Peace region RCMP corporal charged with assault RCMP Corporal Mark Potts of Peace Regional detachment has been charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm under the Criminal Code. The charge, laid Oct. 14, is the result of an RCMP investigation into an incident that occurred April 15, 2016. The incident was reported on April 20, 2016, by a fellow RCMP officer to the Peace Regional RCMP detachment commander. It is alleged that Cpl. Potts assaulted a prisoner while transporting him from Manning to Peace River. Potts has been suspended from duty since October. He will remain off-duty until the criminal charges against him are resolved. His duty status will be reviewed at that time. His suspension is standard RCMP practice and not a disciplinary measure.
Inuit need own voice in Alberta By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Norma Dunning believes that there is an advantage to having more voices advocating for shared causes. But she also holds that those voices need to understand the people they are advocating for. She isn’t so sure that the Aboriginal Congress of Alberta Association, one of the newest affiliate organizations for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, is the answer. CAP has as its mandate to represent the interests of all off-reserve status and non-status Indians, MÈtis and southern Inuit. “Not so much,” said Dunning, an Inuk scholar, writer and researcher. She says that CAP should consult with the Inuit to see if the Inuit want to be represented by CAP. The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami represents Canada’s 60,000 Inuit, most of which live in Inuit Nunangat. Beverly Allard, president of the ACAA, admits that there are no Inuit members yet. “I feel badly for organizations who take up the representation of the FNMI (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) because Inuit are the smallest population of all the Aboriginal groups in Canada … I think there is often lack of knowledge when it comes to Inuit history,” said Dunning. She points to a number of distinctions that the Inuit hold: they were assimilated much
and later much faster, and when Indian residential schools were beginning to close in 1955, residential schools were only then starting to open in the north. “People may have good hearts in terms of wanting to be representational, however, for Inuit, what is required is that the Inuit speak on behalf of themselves,” said Dunning. That is particularly important as the southern Inuit population continues to grow. Within Edmonton, that demographic has increased by 30 per cent within the last 30 years. Figures from 2011 Statistics Canada indicate that 37.5 per cent of Inuit live outside of Inuit Nunangat and further show that at 1,115, Edmonton is home to the largest urban Inuit population. “This population will continue to grow. I think that groups could have a good heart in wanting to represent, but in that they need Inuit people on board,” said Dunning. Last year, Dunning was instrumental in organizing the Inuit Edmontonmiut group and she sees this group as the voice for the local Inuit. “I think that the Inuit population within the city of Edmonton and within the province of Alberta is large enough to be able to work in conjunction with other groups and singularly,” she said. But Dunning does say that collaboration can go further in reaching common goals. “There’s always strength in numbers … but relationships
have to be established before anything really good can go forward,” said Dunning. Allard says Inuit Edmontonmiut has been doing “amazing, amazing stuff. So those are the sorts of organizations we’d love to collaborate with, support, work with.” While the two groups have not yet spoken, Allard and Dunning do share a common view when it comes to the Edmonton Eskimos. Both say the football club needs to start the community discussion about changing its name. “What I think has to be taken into consideration is how Inuit people take in the word ‘Eskimo.’ In Canada we don’t call ourselves EskimoÖ. The concern is, number one, it’s outdated. Number two, it’s derogatory,” said Dunning. “That is not how Inuit identify themselves.” “I think that there are certain sensitivities that one really needs to take into consideration,” said Allard. “It’s really about giving recognition about being respectful and doing the good thing.” Len Rhodes, president and CEO of the Edmonton Eskimos, said the football club will keep its name. “We’re always listening to what people have to say on a topic and at this point of time we have no plans to make a change to our name. But we continue to have discussions with people on that topic and any other topic,” he said.
PHOTO: HOMEWARD TRUST EDMONTON
In the Homeless Connect spring event, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society provided services.
Services available in one location on one day to help Edmonton’s homeless October 20, 2016. Volunteers will be gathering at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on Sunday as part of Homeless Connect to provide services to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Services include healthrelated, haircuts, clothing, housing information, employment and training, laundry, and tax preparation. Homeless Connect, coordinated by Homeward Trust, occurs twice a year, with over 2,500 people helped.
November II 2016
P a g e [ 11 ]
Fibbie Tatti will be presenting on Oct. 22 at the University of Calgary’s Speaking Her Mind: Canadian Women and Public Presence conference. PHOTO: WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/EVENTS/
Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, is the heart-wrenching tale of Chanie Wenjack.
MacEwan opens doors to livestreaming of Secret Path October 20, 2016. Secret Path, an animated film adaptation of Gord Downie’s album and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel, will be livestreamed Sunday at the Kule Theatre at MacEwan University in Edmonton. Working with Downie’s poetry and music, Lemire has created a powerful visual representation of the life of Chanie Wenjack. The film is divided into 10 chapters, each a song from Downie’s musical retelling of Chanie’s story — from
his escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, to his subsequent and heartbreaking death from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather. The final product is a uniquely immersive emotional experience — an insight into the life of a little boy who, as Downie has said, he never knew, “but will always love.” Secret Path will be broadcast by CBC in an hour-long commercialfree television special beginning at 7 p.m. A short program at the Kule Theatre will precede the broadcast.
U of C conference on women features First Nations speakers October 20, 2016. Three First Nations women are among the featured speakers at the University of Calgary’s Speaking Her Mind: Canadian Women and Public Presence conference. Lee Maracle, a poet and novelist, will be giving a talk Friday titled, “What shapes the silence around Indigenous women inside the feminist movement.” Cherish Blood, a Blackfoot woman from the Blood Reserve, who is an actress, writer, vocalist, storyteller and comedian ,will be taking part in a moderated discussion on Friday. Fibbie Tatti, an advocate for First Nations languages and culture, will be speaking on Saturday on Indigenous women and cultural survival. The conference begins Thursday and runs through to Saturday.
Lawyer critical of street checks appointed to Provincial Court Three new judges have been appointed to the Provincial Court of Alberta: D’Arcy DePoe, Michelle Doyle and Jasmine Sihra. DePoe, past president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, was critical of Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley last year when she said Alberta would not regulate street checks undertaken by the police. Ganley said street checks were “conversations,” but DePoe said there was evidence that the activity, also known as “carding,” discriminated and that the lack of standards governing street checks was a reason for concern. Leaders in the Aboriginal community and some ethnic groups held that their people were being unfairly targeted.
Funding available for solar panels on schools PHOTO: NORTHLAND SCHOOL DIVISION
(From left): MLA Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Tany Yao; Janette Cavanaugh, division principal literacy, Northland School Division; Rita Marten, director of education, Athabasca Tribal Council; NSD Superintendent Gord Atkinson;†Leanne Courchesne, group lead, community affairs, Cenovus Energy; Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Ward 4 Councillor Jane Stroud; Andrea Ruste, advisor, community affairs, Cenovus Energy; and, Randy Chernipeski, CTS school/industry partnership administrator.
Cenovus invests in NSD October 26, 2016. Cenovus Energy Inc. is donating $250,000 to Northland School Division over the next two years. The donation illustrates a continued commitment to support three key programs across the division. Cenovus is investing
P a g e [ 12 ]
$125,000 in the Literacy Initiative, $97,500 in Career and Technology Studies (CTS) and $27,500 in the Attendance Improvement Initiative ‘Every Day Counts.’ Since 2014, Cenovus has donated $1.15 million to support literacy, CTS and student enhancement programs at NSD.
As part of its Climate Leadership Plan, the province is making funding available for the installation of solar panels at 36 school projects that are now in the planning or design phase and have not gone to tender. The total investment in these installations will be at least $9 million and there will be more discussion about the projects with school boards. Government will also establish a committee to evaluate the impact of the installations with a goal of expanding the program over time. Putting solar panels on schools was a recommendation made by students as a way to demonstrate leadership on tackling climate change. This is a voluntary initiative. Alberta Education will be contacting school authorities to discuss modifying the scope of their projects to incorporate the panels.
November II 2016
Initial government response to OCYA’s special report “positive”
Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff (left) and Auditor General Merwan Saher released reports last July on Indigenous children care. (File photo) By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Find every Alberta Sweetgrass article online! Exclusively at: www.ammsa.com November II 2016
Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff says he is encouraged by action taken by Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan in response to the “Voices for Change” report delivered last July. “Voices for Change,” the OCYA’s special report on Aboriginal child welfare, was released alongside a report from Auditor General Merwan Saher. Both reports said that the province was failing Indigenous children. Combined, the two reports put forward 11 recommendations. Premier Rachel Notley, Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir and Feehan committed to accepting and acting on all of the recommendations from both reports. “I have met with the Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan, who wanted to talk to me specifically about the recommendations and about the actions I thought he should be taking, or that I could suggest to him some actions that he could take. That was quite a positive development
from my perspective,” said Graff. While another meeting with Feehan has not be scheduled, Graff says he provided the minister with a list of Indigenous people who were involved in the OCYA’s report and he is aware that Feehan followed-up on that. He adds that it is still too early to determine whether or not the government is putting those 11 recommendations in to action. “We always provide a sixmonth window before we ask for an update on what action has been taken,” said Graff. In writing “Voices for Change,” the OCYA garnered information from the Aboriginal community, caregivers and stakeholders. The report provides eight recommendations focused in four areas: legislation, governance and jurisdiction; resources, capacity and access; program and service delivery; and outcomes and accountability. Saher examined three key systems in Alberta Human Services and found that Indigenous children received less frequent contact with caseworkers; their case plans were reviewed less often; and
when assessing its performance, Human Services did not consider its performance for Indigenous children separately. Both Graff and Saher said there was disparity in the services offered by the province to Indigenous children and both were clear that a “blanket strategy” would not close those gaps. Graff says the special reports delivered by his office often seem to get “a different level of response from government” compared do the investigative reports – more than 20 – he has produced since 2011. In 2013, OCYA delivered a report on youth aging out of care. The report called for increased support for young people leaving the government care system, specifically for the government to put in place more support and finance agreements. Since that report was released, says Graff, there’s been an 80 per cent increase in the number of support and finance agreements implemented. “That’s a very positive development,” he said. “It takes time for that level of support to be realized but there are those positive responses out there.”
P a g e [ 13 ]
Young filmmakers have work screened in Toronto festival By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
CALGARY Colton Willier’s grandmother and mother are both artists so it’s no surprise that the now-sevenyear-old is an artist himself. What may be a surprise is that the Grade 2 student is having his two-minute animated short film shown at the ImagineNative Film & Media Festival this weekend. Colton and his best friend Ethan Aspeslet-Asels, 12, along with their moms, will be in Toronto to watch “Skateboarding Pants” on Oct. 23. And Mom Amy Willier couldn’t be happier. “I’m a pretty proud mama bear,” she said. “Colton has definitely come by his artistic capabilities early.” Willier and her mother Yvonne Jobin started Moonstone Creations, in Calgary, to allow Willier, who is a single mom, to spend more time with Colton. The store, which opened when Colton was seven months old, has grown from carrying the works of seven artists to representing over 50 Indigenous artists in western Canada, stocking beadwork and dreamcatcher makers. Colton, who is Cree and Blackfoot, and Ethan, who is Dene and Metis, created “Skateboarding Pants” in a workshop with the Calgary Animated Objects Society, operated by Xstine Cook, Colton’s honourary aunt. Colton and his mom worked
Colton Willier: six years old and co-creator
The two-minute short film “Skateboarding Pants,” created by Colton Willier and Ethan AspesletAsels will be shown at the ImagineNative Film & Media Festival.
Ethan Aspeslet-Asels, 12, cocreator together, with Colton telling Willier the story scene-by-scene and Willier writing it down. “As he’s telling the story, he’s laughing really hard about it, thinking that it’s hilarious and I’m laughing, too,” she said. Shortly after, Colton and Ethan and the moms gathered at the gallery to do the prep work. Willier drew the pants and shoes that would become the crux of the tale. “I got Colton to stand on a chair and model for me like how pants would move. I drew it out
then they coloured it and cut it out and everything,” said Willier. The preliminary work was all in preparation for the May-long weekend quick draw animation lockdown in 2015, when the boys, along with other youth from across Calgary, created their animated shorts. “Colton was pretty much the director,” said Willier. Colton and Ethan took over 1,000 digital pictures, using stop-motion photography to create their film, which tells the story of a pair of pants that takes off on a skateboard to find its owner in the laundromat. The boys made the background soundtrack using the AutoRap app and later added sound effects. The film was screened the next weekend in May. Quick Draw Animation chose “Skateboarding Pants” and four
other shorts to be included at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions this past March. Cook decided to submit “Skateboarding Pants” to the ImagineNative festival. “I had no expectations,” said Willier, “and then we got the notification it had been accepted to screen and I was like, ‘What? His film? This is just like the coolest thing ever!’” She says the boys are “pretty pumped” about their upcoming showing. “But I don’t think they understand the scope of it,” she said. Willier says making films and acting have become a passion for Colton and he’s looking forward to meeting with other filmmakers and getting tips. “He’s like, ‘I can do it all,’” she said. Colton and Willier, Ethan and his mom Thalia Aspeslet will
head to Toronto on Oct. 20. “Skateboarding Pants” is part of the #warpaint series which shows on Sunday. And, much to Colton’s amusement, his work has been rated PG because the pants kicks the laundry basket. “And when his character turns around, you see his butt-crack,” said Willier. “So we were joking, some nudity and violence.” Willier expects people who take in “Skateboarding Pants” to come away inspired. ‘It’s so fascinating that a seven-year-old can make a film and that it can be shown in such a grand scope,” she said. Moonstone Creations hosted numerous screenings of Colton’s work last Friday. A donation bin, popcorn sales and friendship bracelets made of deer and moose hide by Colton helped raise funds for the Toronto-outing.
Affiliate CAP organization for Alberta approved By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Ten years after the conversation began, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has an affiliate organization in Alberta. The Aboriginal Congress of Alberta Association, headquartered in Edmonton, received unanimous approval at CAP’s annual general assembly in September. Beverly Allard, president of ACAA, has been involved since the beginning. In 2006, she had conversations with then-CAP National Chief Patrick Brazeau, who undertook a western tour of the grassroots. This past January, she had discussions with then-CAP National Chief
P a g e [ 14 ]
Dwight Dorey, who was on a cross-country tour. In between, she says, when an application was made to become a CAP affiliate in 2010, ACAA was turned down because it did not have an audited financial statement. Allard says up to that point, she was covering all costs for outreach and town hall meetings as there was no core funding. Allard says the affiliate is still very much needed. “Having a representative body within Alberta that can kind of act as a political voice for those folks that currently have no other alignment with a political representative body — the Metis Nation Council for instance, Assembly of First Nations, for instance — those folks we really feel need to have an equal forum and equal support in bringing
forward a collective voice and being able to have an opportunity to speak to those issues that aren’t otherwise articulated by those in position of influence,” said Allard. CAP, recently renamed from the short-lived Indigenous Peoples Assembly of Canada, has as its mandate to represent the interests of all off-reserve status and non-status Indians, MÈtis and southern Inuit. Without affiliation with a band or the Metis Nation, health care and education funding are difficult to get, says Allard, and that’s where CAP comes in. “We have a lot of urban people who are non-registered. We have a lot of Metis folks who aren’t aligned with the Metis Nation, they’re not cardcarrying Metis,” she said. “There are small voids all over
and those folks deserve some equity in having the opportunity to be heard.” ACAA has board members throughout the province. Robert Bertrand, who was elected National Chief at the AGA, is pleased to have recently added affiliates from Alberta and British Columbia. “Now we’re truly national,” said Bertrand, who added that this new status will help CAP in attaining the same level of influence as the MNC, AFN and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. “CAP as a national body really missed for a number of years having the support from the western provinces,” agreed Allard. She sees the Daniels decision as an opportunity for CAP to have a stronger voice nationwide.
“Although those folks (AFN, MNC and ITK) do a great job, there’s still folks that aren’t equitably represented so I think we just need to be a little bit louder,” she said. AACA is presently developing its strategic plan and Allard will be attempting to access funding through CAP to allow the local affiliate to hold town hall meetings in both the southern and northern parts of the province. “As a body, one of our primary goals is really to bring forward a political voice within the national office that can represent people from Alberta to the Alberta government, to the federal government. And bringing our voice to a table where collectively others are coming, it gives strength,” said Allard.
November II 2016
November II 2016
P a g e [ 15 ]
[ sports ]
Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in high demand
National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks during practice. By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
The lacrosse hotbed of Six Nations will not be the official home for any professional franchise in the foreseeable future. That was guaranteed when the Canadian Lacrosse League, which included the Ohsweken Demons, ceased operations during the summer. The Demons played their home contests at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) in Hagersville. Though the Demons are no longer around, the ILA will continue to be the home away from home for another professional squad, the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks. Though they play their home contests in the U.S., the Knighthawks utilize the ILA as their practice facility, in large part because the majority of their players are from Ontario. The Rochester franchise will also be staging its upcoming rookie development camp at the
P a g e [ 16 ]
ILA. This event will enable the team’s prospects, as well as other camp invitees, a chance to show off their skills in front of the Knighthawks’ brass. The camp at the ILA will begin on Oct. 26. Sessions will also be staged on Oct. 29, Nov. 7 and Nov. 10. Knighthawks’ owner Curt Styres, who is from Six Nations, is also an owner of the ILA, which was constructed back in 2004. Rochester has used the ILA as its practice facility since 2009, when Styres purchased the club. “It’s a great facility,” said Rochester’s head coach Mike Hasen. “And it’s a short distance for 90 per cent of our players.” During the regular season the Knighthawks average about one practice per week at the ILA. And it’s a bonus that players and staff members do not have to travel across the border for practices. Depending on traffic and wait times at the border, for the majority of the Knighthawks’ players and personnel, the drive to Rochester can take more than three hours. For Hasen, who lives in
Brampton, Ont., it takes him about 40 minutes to get to the ILA from his home. “The floor is pretty close to the dimensions we have in Rochester,” Hasen added. “It’s a great facility. And it is home for us. Curt has done a really amazing job with that facility.” It seems only fitting the Knighthawks would practice at a Native-owned facility. That’s because the squad also has a large Aboriginal presence on its roster. A year ago the team had eight Native players in its lineup, more than any other NLL squad. Rochester’s contingent included captain Sid Smith (Cayuga Wolf Clan), who is from Six Nations. Besides its numerous players, Rochester has also several other Native ties. Besides Styres, who is also the Knighthawks’ general manager, the club’s front office also includes Gewas Schindler, the team’s alternate governor who is from the Onondaga Nation. Rochester also has two Native assistant coaches, Jason Johnson and Andy Secore. Plus, former National Hockey
League player/coach Ted Nolan, from Ontario’s Garden River First Nation, is a special advisor for the Knighthawks. It remains to be seen whether the Rochester club will have even more Native players on their roster for the upcoming season. The team’s rookie camp will more than likely feature several Aboriginal players looking to crack the lineup. “We’re expecting to pick out a couple of bodies from the rookie camp and invite them to our main camp,” Hasen said. “So we’ll see (if we have even more Native players this year).” The Knighthawks are expected to open their training camp during a weekend in late November in Rochester. After that the rest of the club’s camp will be at the ILA. Paul Day, another one of the Knighthawks’ assistant coaches, also has high praise for the club’s practice facility. “To be able to do all of our work there is amazing,” he said. “We also do our video work there. And we have our meals there.” And it’s not just the Knighthawks who make use of
the ILA. “The league also uses it for its referee training,” Day said. Many other NLL teams will also stage some of their practices at the ILA, especially when they are in Ontario preparing for a game. Besides the Knighthawks, the upcoming NLL season will feature eight other franchises, including four in Canada. The Canadian entrants are the Calgary Roughnecks, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock and the Vancouver Stealth. The league also includes the Buffalo Bandits, Colorado Mammoth, Georgia Swarm and New England Black Wolves. Rochester will kick off its regular season schedule on Dec. 29 with a home contest against Toronto. The Knighthawks, who have been around since 1995, have won the NLL championship five times. They won their first title in 1997 and had to wait until 2007 to capture another crown. Rochester then managed to win three consecutive titles from 201214.
November II 2016
[ sports ]
Headrick reaching his goals and showing his worth with his hockey skills
PHOTO: JODI DEFIEL
Owen Headrick By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor SAULT STE. MARIE, Michigan
Owen Headrick is continuing to turn heads with his hockey skills. The 19-year-old, who is from the Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is a sophomore defenceman with the Lake Superior State Lakers. The Lakers, an NCAA Division 1 squad, are based in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, a mere 20-minute drive from his home community. A year ago, Headrick earned rave reviews for nabbing a roster spot and having a regular shift with a club and in a league including players several years older. His play didn’t go unnoticed by pro talent seekers. Officials from about 10 National Hockey League teams had discussions with him. But Headrick, who is Ojibwe, was not selected in the NHL Entry Draft this past June.
Headrick is still eligible to be chosen in the 2017 NHL draft. Even if he is not selected, he won’t be abandoning his pro aspirations. “From college nowadays there’s a lot of guys signing on as free agents,” he said. Though it remains to be seen what will happen the next few years, Headrick, who is studying Criminology at Lake Superior State, is planning to use up his four years of college eligibility. “Education is a big part of my life and my family’s life,” said Headrick, who is the eldest of five children. “Graduating with that degree would be huge because say I do get to play a couple of years of pro hockey, I would still have that degree to fall back on afterwards.” Working towards a pro career, however, remains his main priority. “That’s definitely my main goal once I get out of college,” he said. “Hockey is the biggest part of my life. I want to play
hockey as long as I can.” Headrick played a couple of seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League before joining the Lakers. He helped the Thunderbirds win the league championships in 2015. Headrick was also named the league’s playoff MVP that spring by racking up 20 points, including 12 goals, in 14 postseason matches. As for this year, Headrick has collected seven points (one goal and six assists) in four contests. At this pace it won’t take him long to pass the 12 points he earned as a rookie with the Lakers in 39 games. “At the start of the year my goal was to get 20 points,” he said. “If I continue to play well, I think I can surpass that.” Despite his solid start, Headrick added he hasn’t adjusted the number of points he’d like to achieve by that much. “I think if everything is going well, maybe I can get 25 points,” he said.
With his seven points this far, Headrick is tied for top spot in team scoring along with three forwards; junior J.T. Henke, sophomore Mitch Hults, and freshman Brayden Gelsinger. Headrick collected six of his points in the Lakers’ seasonopening weekend wins (6-1 and 7-3) over the Michigan State Spartans on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. As a result, he was selected as the co-winner of the defensive player of the week in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. “That was a big honour,” said Headrick, who is a hair under 6-ft and weighs about 195 pounds. “I was really pleased to find out I received that. For me it was a reward for all the hard work I’ve put in. And it showed me I’m getting better.” But Headrick is not about to rest upon his laurels. He realizes there’s plenty of room for improvement in his game. And he knows he has plenty of hard
work ahead of him in order to get better. “I think everyone can still get stronger and faster,” he said. “Those are my main goals as a player – to get stronger and faster and be more of a resource in my own end.” The Lakers are sporting a perfect 4-0-0 record so far this season. The club registered a 1422-5 mark last year and finished seventh in their nine-team league. They were then knocked out of the playoffs after losing their best-of-three quarterfinal series 2-1 against Minnesota State. Headrick likes how his squad is shaping up now. “We’re looking really good this year,” he said. “We’re still a fairly young team. We’ve got 10 or 11 sophomores and seven or eight freshmen. But we’re all excited to see what the season has in store for us.” The Lakers return to action this week, hosting the Alaska Nanooks in a pair of games on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
Every single Windspeaker article ever published (well, almost) is now available on our online archives at: www.ammsa.com November II 2016
P a g e [ 17 ]
[ education ]
Important school renamed to remember Wenjack
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler announced Oct. 28 that the Thunder Bay training centre has been renamed for Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, a First Nations boy who died while running away from residential school 50 years ago on Oct. 22, 1966. The Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute will be renamed as a “fitting and lasting tribute to the memory of Chanie Wenjack and all of our youth who were lost during the Indian residential school era,” said Fiddler. “The institute that has provided new beginnings for so many of our people will be known as the Chanie Wenjack Pimachehowin Educational Institute.” Oshki-Pimache-OEducation and Training Institute is an Aboriginal post-secondary education and training facility providing accredited postsecondary education to the people of the 49 communities of Nishnawbe Aski Nation and other learners. Fiddler said it was a historic opportunity to keep Wenjack’s memory in an appropriate and significant manner “and build on the momentum his legacy is gaining,” through the efforts of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who wrote a 10-song solo album called “Secret Path” to honor the boy’s story. Acclaimed author Joseph Boyden has also contributed to the boy’s legacy by penning a novella called “Wenjack.” Wenjack died fleeing on foot Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora. The journey to his home of Ogoki Post was 1,000 kilometres. Wenjack was found dead along the railway tracks, only having made it 60 kilometres from the school.
Every single Windspeaker article ever published (well, almost) is now available on our online archives at:
www.ammsa.com The archives are free to search and read.
P a g e [ 18 ]
November II 2016
[ health ]
Youth matter and we want them to know it By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Filmmaker Kelvin Redvers and his sister Tunchai hope that the “We Matter” campaign they launched last week will encourage youth – and others – to speak out about suicide and come to understand that their lives are valuable. Suicide, depression and addictions are not new issues for Indigenous communities, but Kelvin and Tunchai wanted to
Kelvin Redvers and Tunchai Redvers: creators of the“We Matter” campaign. PHOTO: KELVIN REDVERS tackle the issues in a new way. “We Matter” is an adaptation of “It Gets Better”, a campaign that spoke to the issues faced by youth in the LGBT community in the United States. The social media campaign allows people from across the country to share their own experiences and messages of hope for youth who are going through a hard time, said Kelvin. “It’s a really simple way to connect with people who may need a bit of uplift,” he said. The campaign, launched Oct. 19, already has video messages from such notables as awardwinning author Joseph Boyden and group A Tribe Called Red, which earned a Juno in 2014 as Breakthrough Group of the Year. “The campaign wouldn’t exist without the youth voices that we have…. Their voice will connect more than anything with their peers.” While the horror of youth suicide in Indigenous communities is being covered more openly by mainstream media now – the latest incidences in the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation with four separate suicides of young girls in October– it is an ageold battle. The Redvers are from the Dene Nation and grew up in Hay River, where, Tunchai said they saw many issues on a daily basis stemming from a history of trauma and residential schools and lack of funding for education, youth activities, and counselling for drugs and addictions. “You can say that youth take their lives because they don’t feel like life is worth living, they feel it’s not worth it to live, and I think that’s where “We Matter” comes from,” said Tunchai. “It’s to remind these youth
that their lives do, in fact, matter. We, as Indigenous people across Canada, matter and that there’s hope and there’s a way to overcome that sense of hopelessness.” Kelvin is optimistic that as this campaign has been started by youth – he is 29 and Tunchai is 22 – it will speak loudly. “We wanted to create a sense of unity and resilience with Indigenous people and Indigenous youth across Canada,” said Tunchai. “This is an indicator of community. It’s about putting us with them and them with us in a way that I think can really empower and strengthen bonds between people. I think that’s the important aspect of “We Matter”, communicating that sense of community to people who may be feeling alone or a bit lost,” said Kelvin. “We Matter”, through videos, art and stories, empowers people, allowing them to reach out and make a difference, he says. The timing for such a campaign is sound, points out Tunchai. “You look at the state of Indigenous Affairs in Canada and I think we’re moving in a really hopeful direction with the new government and you look at reconciliation and the discussions on reconciliation and residential schools and nation-to-nation building. I think we’re just in a period now where we’re looking at Indigenous Affairs in general in Canada in a more positive and hopeful light,” she said. Success for the campaign will come through engagement across the country. “We believe that if we can get a video from every single Indigenous community across Canada that means that every youth in every community who’s going through a hard time will have someone that they recognize standing up and sharing a voice and being able to connect to,” said Kelvin. The brother-sister duo are well aware that their campaign alone won’t reduce the numbers of youth suicide, depression or addictions. “But we want to be part of that happening alongside other movements, and community groups, and volunteers, and sports and all sorts of stuff,” said Kelvin. Find the We Matter website at: wemattercampaign.org
To receive free digital editions of Windspeaker – just register your email by contacting us at: email@example.com
November II 2016
P a g e [ 19 ]
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
P a g e [ 20 ]
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.
November II 2016