Secret Path, a project by Gord Downie, includes a new album and a graphic novel illustrated by Jeff Lemire. It tells the story of Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, a 12 year old Ojibwe boy who died in 1966 while trying to make his way home from the residential school he had been sent to, located 400 miles away. [more inside]
Attawapiskat Declares State of Emergency Over Spate of Suicide Attempts [CBC.ca] The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation on remote James Bay have declared a state of emergency, saying they're overwhelmed by the number of attempted suicides in the community. On Saturday night alone, 11 people attempted to take their own lives, Chief Bruce Shisheesh said. Including Saturday's spate of suicide attempts, a total of 101 people of all ages have tried to kill themselves since September, Shisheesh said, with one person dying. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71. The Cree community — home to about 2,000 residents — saw 28 attempts in March alone. Last September, a group of five girls overdosed and had to be medevaced out of the community, Shisheesh said. [more inside]
In Canada, the Indigenous incarceration rate is 10 times higher than the non-Indigenous population—higher even than South Africa at the height of apartheid. 75 years after First Nations were given permission to travel freely, 50 years after being given the right to vote, and just 20 years since the closing of the last residential school, our history of colonization has been quietly forgotten. [more inside]
Starting on August 3, Narratively has been publishing a week of stories by Canadian photographers. [more inside]
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde is working hard to put First Nations front and centre in Canada's 42nd federal election. Polls suggest the election is a three way race, with the NDP, for the first time ever, contending to form (a minority) government. Indigenous voters could tip the balance, resulting in an end to Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Both the NDP and the Liberals made their case to the Assembly of First Nations, and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair underscored the importance of First Nations issues in a campaign rally in Montreal today. [more inside]
Thomas King wins Governor-General’s Award for fiction In February, King won the British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. On Tuesday, he won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction for The Back of the Turtle, his first novel in 15 years. [more inside]
On June 26, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Tsilhquot’in people in their title claim to more than 1700 square km of land in British Columbia. The case is a landmark, and was a unanimous decision, supported 8-0 by the justices. The decision, is the first time the Canadian courts have recognized full aboriginal title to a specific tract of land by, and experts in the field expect the ruling to have an impact on future title questions worldwide (from Vancouver Island to New Zealand, or, one might say, from PKOLS to Aotearoa) [more inside]
26 year-old Inuk woman Loretta Saunders was working on an Honours thesis studying the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women of Canada. Her supervisor called her proposal "the most beautifully written and cared-for assignment I had ever read in seven years of university teaching." Two weeks ago, Loretta disappeared and fell out of contact with family and friends. Yesterday police confirmed that her body had been found in the median of the Trans-Canada Highway. Her disappearance is now being treated as a homicide. [more inside]
For several months, bitumen from the Athabasca oil sands has been leaching out of the ground near Cold Lake, Alberta, so far amounting to roughly half of the oil leaked in the Enbridge-caused disaster in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Nearby sites of high-pressure steam injection used to extract the bitumen (and which is already associated with violent seismic activity in natural gas fracking operations) are suspected to have caused fractures that push bitumen "sideways" and out to the surface. As Vice reporter Sarah Berman notes, "The oozing leaks will continue until the underground pressure subsides. How long that will take is anybody’s guess." While tons of contaminated vegetation and dead animals have been removed from the sites, access to the region and to government data by First Nation representatives has been repeatedly denied.
In January, braving -40C weather, 18-year old David Kawapit and half a dozen other young Cree supporters set out wearing snowshoes and pulling sleds laden with supplies from the isolated community of Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec, to trudge the 1,500 kilometres from the edge of Hudson Bay to Ottawa in support of better conditions for aboriginal people. Yesterday, their numbers swelled to about 270 they arrived in Ottawa, where they were met with cheering and wild applause. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt agreed to speak with some of the young people who completed the trek, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper had more important matters to attend to.
Northwest coast native artist, Andy Everson explores pop culture and native rights in his prints. Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw artist Andy Everson's image of a hand holding a feather has become synonymous with the Idle No More Movement, which has shifted the Canadian political spotlight on First Nations issues in recent months (previously). But I predict it is his C3P0, Yoda, and LEGO figurine self portrait giclée prints that will be irresistible to many mefites.
Idle No More. (Note: music autoplay.) A year after the housing crisis in Attawapiskat (previously), Chief Theresa Spence is on the 14th day of a hunger strike. In a teepee close the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, she waits for a meeting with Prime Minister Harper in order to address ongoing poverty on reserves and the implications of Bill C-45, which strips protected status from thousands of miles of Canadian waterways, as well as ongoing plans for oil pipelines across the North and Harper's plans to bring legislation allowing for the privatization of reserve lands. An international surge of support from Indigenous Peoples, organizing through social media (including Facebook and Twitter) has seen demonstrations across North America, including thousands of First Nations activists marching on Parliament Hill, a rail blockade in Sarnia, Ont., and an open letter from Canadian academics, an open letter from The Assembly of First Nations, and other actions. [more inside]
It has been 15 years since the Supreme Court of Canada released their decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. The decision was perhaps the most important Aboriginal rights decision in Canadian history, radically framing the notion of Aboriginal title and creating several legacies in common law. [more inside]
THE VANISHING: 'In the stunning and remote wilderness along northern British Columbia’s Highway 16, at least 18 women—by some estimates, many more—have gone missing over the past four decades. After years of investigation, authorities still don’t know if it’s the work of a serial killer or multiple offenders. BOB FRIEL drives into the darkness for answers.' [more inside]
"For the last 20 years, the huge rock has lain in the museum's interior courtyard, its many petroglyphs slowly disappearing under a layer of moss and lichen. Next week, it will be repatriated to Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nations and taken back home to the Fraser River at Churn Creek Protected Area, about two hours east of Clinton." [more inside]
The Canadian government has put a negative spin on the state of emergency and situation at Attawapiskat, in northern Ontario. A Plains Cree speaking Metis woman in Montreal has prepared an excellent series of responses to the major comments being generated by the crisis at Attawapiskat. (Via:âpihtawikosisân)
A series of emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request shine light on collusion between the United States government and TransCanada, a corporation building a controversial pipeline from the Canadian Athabasca oil sands into its southern neighbor. The controversy extends beyond the currently poor safety record for delivering oil between the two countries, and beyond the environmental and health consequences of the oil extraction process for locals and the cost of climate changes it will contribute to, all the way to legal wrangling between Canadian media and Saudi Arabia over the "death panels"-like term "ethical oil", based upon a conservative group's advertising that argues that the purchase of Canadian-sourced oil is a morally superior act, because of oppression of women and human rights violations by the Saudi kingdom.
Language, culture, society and the frameworks used to define experiential reality; living a good life, pathways of decolonization
An internationally recognized Kanien'kehaka (Mohwak) intellectual and political advisor, Taiaiake Alfred is well known for his incisive critiques and groundbreaking work in the fields of Indigenous governance and political philosophy. In the past, Taiaiake has served as an advisor on land and governance and cultural restoration issues for many indigenous governments and organizations, and he has authored several important books including Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom and Peace, Power, Righteousness. Currently, Taiaiake serves as a Professor of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. Recorded March 23, 2009 at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, University of Victoria Professor of Indigenous Governance; a broad, deep, and beautiful discussion of pathways toward the future for indigenous people, Gerald Taiaiake Alfred talks about the “Resurgence of Traditional Ways of Being: Indigenous Paths of Action and Freedom” [more inside]
Here, the intellectual and political dispute centers around federal policy regarding First Nations in Canada, a debate that’s been controversially re-ignited by the book Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation. Among the book’s core arguments: the assertion that on-going “native problems” have a “cultural basis.” [more inside]
Moosonee: I never cared for the satellite dish—although it blends in here. A snowy owl ran into it and died.
After checking the USGS map for the earthquake that happened on the Ontario-Quebec border region today, I bet you were wondering the same as me: What is the deal with Moose Factory? It's the island off the coast of Moosonee, the ancestral home of the Swamp Cree, the home of the Hudson's Bay Company, the site of the first English settlement in the Province of Ontario (1673) and is the home of the Moose Cree First Nation. Here are recent and historical photos of the region. [more inside]
First Nations (aboriginal) communities in Canada often have levels of squalor and health outcomes comparable to developing nations [PDF]. Abuse of alcohol and other drugs is rife. Generally low health care levels in these communities has led to outbreaks of H1N1 (swine flu). While the distribution of hand sanitizer might help control these outbreaks, the Canadian government is hesitant to do so out of fear that the alcohol-based sanitizer will be ingested. Some argue that this is nothing more than continued paternalism that has reduced the First peoples of Canada to their present state.