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Just Announced Tanya Tagaq to perform at The Drum is Calling Festival this July

TANYA TAGAQ – photo by Katrin Braga

Playing to major festivals and packed houses all over the world you don’t want to miss

Experimental vocalist and artist Tanya Tagaq who will be headlining The Drum is Calling Festival on July 24 at Larwill Park. This award-winning Inuk throat singer released her latest album Retribution in 2016 and in 2014 won the Polaris Prize for best Canadian album for Animism.


The City of Vancouver’s Canada 150+ signature event The Drum is Calling is a nine-day, immersive festival of Indigenous and diverse arts and culture. Highlighting the festival will be stellar performances from iconic artists such as singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie who will be the opening headliner, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, northern Ontario rockers Midnight Shine, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Starr, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long.

For those drum lovers, a must-see will be a spectacular night of Drums over Salish Sea in July 27. This intercultural drumming will ignite the thunderous power of dancers and drummers from around the world and is led by renowned percussionist and cultural collaborator Sal Ferraras.

Artistic Program

Saturday July 22:        Bitterly Divine, Murray Porter, Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sunday July 23:           William Prince, Crystal Shawanda, Tom Jackson
Monday July 24:          Amanda Rheaume, Susan Aglukark,Tanya Tagaq
Tuesday July 25:          Shamik Bilgi, Boom Booms with Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Midnight Shine
Wednesday July 26:   Dj Kookum
Thursday July 27:        The Jerry Cans, Drums over the Salish Sea
Friday July 28:            Donny Parenteau, Sierra Noble, Chantal Kreviazuk
Saturday July 29:        George Leach, Kinnie Starr, DJ Shub
Sunday July 30:           Leonard Sumner, Leela Gilday, Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long

Attendees can expect much more than just music; additional highlights will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata Festival on Turtle Island. While Having Soup is a powerful installation in which over the amount of time it takes to consume a bowl of soup, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Vancouverites will engage in a “three-course” dialogue about charged issues during Canada 150+.


As part of the festival, the inaugural Indigenous Fashion Week will feature the super-stars and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling. The show is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitton.

Other forms of art will include carving exhibitions, curated short films by the National Film Board, Theatre for Young people presented by Shaw Communications Inc., and From Oral to Written presented in partnership with the Vancouver Writers Fest.


Artistic Director Margo Kane and the curators have themed each day, so festival-goers will experience something new at every return visit. From honouring our Host Nations to Elders and Matriarch to Youth, Warriors, and Friends, the themes bring together cultural presentations such as theatre, play readings, carving and weaving workshops, literary and speaker series, and film screenings. The best of authentic Indigenous artisans, vendors and food will be on site to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

The Festival’s main venue Larwill Park will feature a festival zone with stages, food and craft vendors, exhibits and more. Activities and performances will also take place at adjacent streets and plazas, including other venues such as Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Playhouse Theatre.

Events are free however some indoor venues may require advance registration. For more information on these events and programming for Celebration 150+ please visit the website at

Canada 150+ Signature Events Unveiled

The events will showcase the vibrant living culture of our three Host Nations—the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh—as well as traditional and contemporary arts from the Urban Aboriginal and Métis people of Vancouver and beyond.

The nine-day Drum is Calling Festival set for July 22-30 in Larwill Park is one of three signature events planned for this year. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Festival Artistic Director Margo Kane today announced the unique Indigenous and diverse cultural programming for this festival.

Some festival headliners include: Buffy Sainte-Marie, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Star, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet and musician Shane Koyczan.

“Vancouver is proud to be a City of Reconciliation and commemorating our heritage this Canada 150+ year in partnership with our host First Nations, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver’s ‘plus’ in our Canada 150+ celebrations recognizes the heritage of our land before 150 years, our journey to the present, and moving forward with mutual understanding and respect with our local First Nations and Urban Aboriginal community. I encourage all Vancouverites to experience the music, traditions, art and more of our Host Nations at one of our many events this year.”

During the program unveiling some of the speakers included Chief Wayne Sparrow from Musqueam Nation, Chief Ian Campbell from Squamish Nation and Chief Maureen Thomas from Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Additional highlights during the Drum is Calling Festival will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata installation.

Indigenous Fashion Week (July 26–29), is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitten and will feature the super-stars and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling.

The first signature event of 2017 will be the opportunity to witness a landing of the Pulling Together Canoe Journey at the Gathering of Canoes on July 14.  Up to 30 canoes—with First Nations, Public Service Agencies and youth paddlers—will request permission to land on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

During the third signature event, tens of thousands of Vancouverites are also expected to participate in the second-ever Walk for Reconciliation on September 24. In partnership with Reconciliation Canada and as part of the legacy of the inspirational Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C., the walk will remind Vancouverites of the healing and transformational power of ‘Namwayut — We Are All One’.

More details about The City of Vancouver’s Canada 150+ programming are available on the program’s website:

Danette Burden SIIT Carpentry Teacher

Danette Burden. Photo Courtesy of SIIT.

by Frank Larue

Danette Burden is a carpentry teacher at SIIT, her background showing a distinct penchant for carpentry. In her own words, she’s “… a red seal /Journeyman Carpenter. I pursued my career as a carpenter in 2006 when I had taken a pre-employment carpentry course in Outlook, Saskatchewan that was offered through SIAST. It offered the Level 1 and Level 2 technical training, and a 2-week work practicum. I worked with a couple well-known companies in the 4-years, and was able to get my ticket in 2011. Prior to my schooling with SIAST, I had a computer business diploma, and had most of my high school. I ended up working with SIIT IN 2014 when I had seen an ad for a women in trades instructor posted online. I have always wanted to do something to help make a difference within the indigenous community. I was able to see 11 women graduate a CWP course. A few of them are still working on the trade as a carpenter, and are pursuing their career as a carpenter.”

Burden was born and raised in Edmonton.

“I moved my young family of 4 boys to Saskatchewan in 2005,” she recounts. “We have made Saskatchewan our home. I am a carpenter instructor teaching apprenticeship courses. I have taught Level 1, Level 2, and at the moment I am teaching a Level 3 class. I have also taught a women in trades CWP course in Montréal Lake (2014), a CWP–RRAC program in Mistiwasis (2014), and a steel stud drywall course. I have been employed with SIIT on and off since 2014, where I taught courses. As of September 2016, I was hired as the apprenticeship instructor.”

Finding the right career is never easy, but carpentry had been a natural calling for Burden, and teaching was the perfect move.

“I love teaching and feel I have found my career. Being able to use my skills and knowledge to help others on the path of their careers is very rewarding as an instructor. I feel I am making a difference,” beams Burden. “To see the accomplishment on my students faces when they complete a project, completing a course, or passing a level is very rewarding. I know I have done what I could as an instructor.”

Not only is she happy with her career choice, Saskatchewan has been the right move.

“The post-secondary education for Indigenous students in Saskatchewan is amazing,” affirms Burden. “Being from a large city like Edmonton, and as an Indigenous women, I wish we had as much opportunity as there is here in Saskatchewan. My personal goal is to continue working with Indigenous people and helping better their lives, working towards building their future. By doing what I love doing, it continues to allow my own children to see the importance of helping others.”

Marci Lyon Makes Her Dream Come True

Marci Lyon. Photo courtesy of SIIT.

Marci Lyon teaches heavy equipment operation at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology. She has dealt with unusual circumstances in her life, but has always managed to triumph in situations that might have prevented someone with less survival instincts. She was born in northern Saskatchewan.

“My family on both my mother’s side and father’s side are all integrated in the construction industry, from drilling, mining, road building, cooking in camps, etc. It’s in my blood and desire to become involved one way or another,” asserts Lyon. “One day my mother had become ill. Her heart was troubling her, and she asked if I’d come to cook in the camp with her up near Sandy Bay. After 18 hours a day working weeks alongside her, cooking and preparing meals for up to 75-150 men, I realized I wanted to be on the other side of the buffet table. These men were working only 12 hours a day, and were paid three times more than my mother and I.”

Lyon’s moved on, taking up part time jobs while trying to find employment in order to start a career. “Now after praying, I landed a permanent full-time job, and take small semi-driving jobs like hauling up north, or driving across country. I continued to apply myself to jobs and careers that suited my skills and knowledge.”

She began teaching Essential Life Skills, and eventually she did find a job. It worked out for several years, but eventually Lyon’s was tempted by a more promising offer. A job at SIIT, which she thought she would never get.

“But I applied anyway, and got the dream job I never expected. Now I’m in a position where I help guide, mentor, encourage, empower, and inspire others to do whatever they dream and pray for. My position with SIIT construction careers here in Prince Albert gives me the ability to help others every day.”

Lyon’s experience in teaching, not only in heavy equipment, but also in essential life skills, has given her a reason to feel she has made a change. When asked what her personal goals are, she humbly replied, “My personal goals and dreams came true with the help of our creator as he guides us in all four directions. My children, Jonathan (26) and Christopher (23), my grandson, Liam (3), and my retirement shack at Denare Beach, Saskatechewan, awaits me. Til then, I have planted my seeds here at SIIT, and my roots are growing deep and strong.”

Lyon’s has no regrets, she loves her work and believes her decision to teach at SIIT was the true turning point in her career. “After having the opportunity to teach essential life skills to various groups (up to 25 students) throughout the industry in the central and western provinces, I was notified about an opportunity to teach for SIIT in 2014. I’ve never taught on a scale this large, it seemed. At the time, I was working in partnership with the city of Saskatoon as the city engineer, clearing and making the land ready for a new residential area. I was also the first female H.E.O. instructor for both SIIT and city of Saskatoon. On such a scale, the privilege was so uncomprehensive. To teach in an environment where everyone wants each, and every student to shine, engage, inspire, empower, and achieve was their motto! I was in awe in a surrounding filled with all the people and things I’ve been loving to do my entire life. Above and beyond my wildest dreams. Now it’s time to prove to others that they can do what ‘‘ve done with the backing, knowledge, and empowerment from the huge province wide institution of SIIT.”

BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative Funding for 2017-18

Vancouver – The New Relationship Trust (NRT), partnered with Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI), has allocated $1,200,000 of federal funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year of the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI).

Eligible BCICEI projects could receive support through contributions up to $150,000 in assisted project costs; however, project support levels will be determined based on demand for funds and the strength of applications. Categories of project development phases under the BCICEI include:

  • Feasibility and Site Selection
  • Environmental Review and Permitting
  • Project Design and Engineering
  • Demand Side Management

The BCICEI funding will support community projects that follow the completion of community engagement (such as a community energy plan), including those needed to secure an electricity purchase agreement and/or to attract debt and equity financing to enable project construction. Demand for BCICEI funds is high, therefore 2017-18 priority will go to project applications that:

  • Demonstrate readiness and viability through agreements and/or partnerships required for construction and commissioning;
  • Create opportunities for communities to gain experience and build capacity with clean energy or energy efficiency project development, including pilot projects; and/or
  • Support clean energy development in remote, off-grid, or diesel dependent communities

The BCICEI funding will provide support for planning and implementation of clean energy projects, such as hydro, wind, biomass, solar, marine, or geothermal technologies. Other initiatives may include energy efficiency projects, energy storage, and reducing dependency on conventional diesel power generation.

Open Date for Applications
April 19, 2017
Close Date for Applications
May 24, 2017


“NRT is pleased to partner with Western Diversification Canada to deliver this clean energy initiative throughout British Columbia. We have found that First Nation communities in BC have embraced clean energy projects enthusiastically and look for sustainable options to create economic opportunities while respecting the environment.”
-Cliff Fregin, Chief Executive Officer, New Relationship Trust

The new 2017/18 BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI) Guidelines and Application are available on the NRT website:

Iredale Architecture & Passive House

What is Passive House?

The term Passive House – or Passivhaus in German – refers to any building typology with a low-energy construction standard that reduces heating and cooling energy through passive measures by up to 90% compared to standard construction. The objective of this design process is to drastically reduce energy consumption, while also creating excellent indoor air quality and thermal comfort levels. The methods employed to achieve this objective include:

  • careful consideration of the building orientation, building form, and glazing location;
  • use of high levels of insulation and high performance windows and doors;
  • elimination of thermal bridging;
  • assurance of building envelope airtightness; and
  • design of mechanical ventilation with a heat recovery system.

The premium for Passive House construction depends on building type and can range from 4% to 15%. The payback period this initial investment derives from energy savings, building durability and low maintenance costs. Government grants and utility incentive programs can also help recoup costs.

Passive house construction contains a number of qualitative paybacks such as increased thermal comfort, high acoustical performance and superior air quality. By decreasing the demand for offsite energy, there is also a significant reduction in the building’s greenhouse gas output. That combined with a healthier building environment and a more durable building, Passive House design strategy exemplifies a sustainable built future and takes a progressive stride in an uncertain energy outlook.

PHIUS Certification

Passive House certification is a two-step process. The first step occurs during design. The energy performance of the building is assessed through energy modeling software from information such as site-specific climatic data, assumed occupant behavior, appropriate envelope assemblies and building form. The second step happens during the construction. Third party verification, such as Passive House Institute of US (PHIUS), ensures the built form and building systems align with the pre-approved design.

Certification is not a necessary requirement to reduce a building’s energy consumption to Passive House standards, although it is a relatively small investment to certify that energy use expectations are achieved and increases opportunities for government and or utility incentive programs.

First Nations Simpatico with Passive House Approach

The Passive House approach to building construction exemplifies a common theme of First Nations vision statements – a focus on community, health and the environment.

From a community perspective, there are multifaceted economic advantages in this construction methodology. The robust building envelope and simplified mechanical system provides a durable and low maintenance building. The reduced energy consumption is an obvious benefit; significantly enhanced when fossil fuels need to be imported into remote communities. From a health perspective the innate superior air quality and thermal comfort characteristics of a Passive House building have a huge benefit for the multi-generational occupant use of the spaces.

Passive House construction methodology limits the carbon emissions through significantly reduced energy consumption and building longevity.

Iredale Architecture Expertise in Passive House Design and Construction

Founded in 1980, Iredale Architecture is a full-service architecture firm with offices in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary. The firm’s areas of expertise include not only architecture, but also structural engineering, building envelope science, interior design, master planning, heritage rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, and LEED and Passive House certification. Iredale Architecture has been incorporating sustainable design strategies in projects since the early eighties. The firm provides cost-effective measures in green design solutions that translate into significant long-term cost savings for Clients.

Iredale Architecture is currently working on two Passive House projects for First Nations in Northern BC – the Doig River Community Church and the West Moberly Health Centre. These projects will establish new precedents in their respective typologies. Doig River Community Church will be the northern-most PHIUS certified building in North America, and the first PHIUS certified building for a First Nations community. West Moberly Health Centre will become the first PHIUS certified health centre in North America. The outcomes for both projects will be a ninety percent reduction in energy consumption over the base building standard, with healthier environments for users. The team responsible for these projects – Peter Hildebrand, Partner and Stefan Walsh, Project Manager – was involved in the development of a new Passive House window design in 2016. Trained in Passive House, Walsh contributed to the organization of the CanPHI symposium at UBC in 2014. Walsh is a member of Canada Passive House, the International Passive House Association and CanPHI West.

Doig River Community Church, Rose Prairie, BCDoig River Community Church, Rose Prairie, BC
(Image Credit: Iredale Architecture)
West Moberly Health Centre, Moberly Lake, BC (Image Credit: Iredale Architecture)West Moberly Health Centre, Moberly Lake, BC
(Image Credit: Iredale Architecture)
Passive House DiagramPassive House Diagram
(Image Credit:

2017 Siksika Nation Easter Pow-Wow Honours the Chicken Dance

By Hannah Many Guns

Powwow ... chicken dancing at Blackfoot Crossing. Photo: Peter Svehla

Powwow … chicken dancing at Blackfoot Crossing. Photo: Peter Svehla

During Easter weekend, brothers and sisters of Alberta Blackfoot reservation Siksika Nation came together during a celebratory pow-wow. The celebration was held in Siksika’s northern flats at their great pow-wow arbour. In the past, the nation held pow-wow’s at many different locations, including the Blackfoot Crossing along the Bow River where the Treaty 7 was signed back in 1877.
“That’s where we had our pow-wow before for a lot of years,” says journeyman drummer Skip Wolfleg. “It kind of moved around. In the beginning, we’d have pow-wows in old halls, a person’s house, even a barn, and this was because we weren’t allowed to actually sing our songs or pow-wow.”
Back then, there was no toleration for exhibition of traditional culture. “So y’know, we kind of went behind closed doors, kinda’ went underground. Up until about the seventies, or late sixties, then we were allowed to come out. This is when we started having different areas,” said Wolfleg.
This going-behind-closed-doors way the Blackfoot people carried themselves conserved many of their traditions. Without these kinds of efforts the ways of the Blackfoot people may have been completely wiped out by residential schooling systems and westernized law and regulation.
“Back in the early 1900s because of the Blackfoot Confederacy, we are lucky enough to have all our native traditions still active as of today,” says Troy Delaney of the Blackfoot Blood Tribe.
Delaney is a seasoned Chicken Dancer, which is a dance indigenous to the Blackfoot people. “Over the years, there have been many adaptations, and a lot of things happening in the world,” says Delaney about the Chicken Dance. “The dance almost got wiped out. But because of the language, because of the songs, because of the rattles that we dance with, and all the prayers that we have, we are lucky enough to still have it a part of our ways.”
He wears light blue and yellow traditional wear adorned with beadwork of the prairie rose. The rose is also along his head roach, which is lined with strands of beads that dangle along the ridge of his brow, hanging over his eyes. Fine peasant feathers line his skull, curving down his back into at a bustle of feathers at his tailbone.
I ask him to tell me more about the Chicken Dance. “If you ever see a real Chicken Dance – his footwork – he’s actually trying to impress the woman. In other word, he’s saying he wants the woman to be his spouse. Me and my brother, we dance proud for our wives. We dance proud for our people. We’re lucky enough we still have our women. The women are most important in the Blackfoot nation. They treat us with the most respect, and also, we treat them with the most respect. So when we dance, we bring them the joy of watching their spouse dance.”
I also ask Wolfleg to speak about what he knows about the Chicken Dance. “Sometime over our history, they say that the dance and songs were given to our people. It’s kind of like a show-off dance. What’s happening is that the male prairie chicken is trying to impress female prairie chickens out on the plains by doing these different fancy steps. It’s a neat thing to watch. We’re basically just imitating the mating ritual of the prairie chickens out there. It was given to the Blackfoots long ago, and for some reason it made us powerful and made us many. In a sense, you can say the dance and song promotes fertility.”
According to Blackfoot legend, the dance, known in the Blackfoot language as Kitokipaaskaan, came about long ago when a young Blackfoot man went out hunting on the prairies. He was hungry, and hadn’t had any food to eat for a while. He’d searched and searched, and then finally he came across some birds dancing in the tall grass. In a hungry haste, he shot an arrow at one of the birds, killing it instantly. Eager to eat, the young man brought the bird back home, cooked it, and fed himself and his family. That night, the man had a peculiar dream. In this dream, the spirit of the bird that he’d killed, which was a prairie chicken, came to him. The bird asked the young man why he had killed him, to which he replied: “I needed to feed my family”.
The prairie chicken then gave the man an ultimatum. After demonstrating the dance he was doing before he was killed, the prairie chicken told the man that he must go out and teach all the people this exact dance. If he did not do this, this prairie chicken vowed that he would come back and kill the young man. The man did so, and this is how the sacred Prairie Chicken Dance came about. (Story adapted from Blackfoot Crossing website).
The Siksika Easter pow-wow had an entire round dedicated to Chicken Dancing, and even a special dance-off between Chicken Dancers and Traditional Dancers. It was amazing to see the different adaptations of the dance, traditional wear, and see men from toddler to elder take part in the ritual. Between rounds, elders would tell stories of the dance, proudly honoring the Prairie Chicken Dance that is so integral to Blackfoot tradition.

New CEO Weighs in on the Forest Industry

By Kelly Many Guns

Derek Nighbor, CEO for FPAC.

Derek Nighbor, CEO for FPAC.

Canada’s forest products industry is a $67 billion dollar a year industry that represents 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and recently hired CEO Derek Nighbor for The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) says he’s ready for the challenges that lay ahead.
First Nations Drum recently had the opportunity to meet-up with Nighbor at an event in Vancouver. We discussed his plans and initiatives including FPAC’s plans and partnerships with the Aboriginal community.
The industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in 200 forest-independent communities from coast-to-coast, and directly employing 230,000 Canadians.
Nighbor was selected the new CEO for FPAC almost at the same time the new liberal government were elected.
“We’ve had a new government in Ottawa for the last 18 months so my main focus is what are the main issues facing the forest industry around trade, softwood lumber, and issues around labour,” Nighbor said. “I have spent a lot of time with issues facing us coast-to-coast, how do those issues interface around with what the Trudeau government priorities are; I think we have significant alignment with the government on issues like climate change, and healthy managed forests play a big part on fighting climate change. Also Truth and Reconciliation, we’ve done a lot of work internally on how we can do better in terms of supporting our companies with best practices on engaging with Indigenous communities, hiring Indigenous talent and working on Indigenous lands.”
Nighbor says that the main priority is how can FPAC work best with the government, and make sure the government knows what their issues are. For example, there currently is an urban government and as you know most of the forest products are in the rural areas so FPAC needs to bring forestry into the urban industry.
There is approximately 1400 Aboriginal businesses, contractors, and companies partnered wiry FPAC and, there are a little more than 17,000 jobs for the Aboriginal communities right now. Nighbor says that FPAC will be looking at the youth in the Aboriginal communities to fill in the aging workforce.
I asked Nighbor how FPAC is working closely with the youth in the Aboriginal community.
“There are two things, we sponsor a couple of Aboriginal Scholarships for Aboriginal students studying for a career in forestry, and partnering with CCAB (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business) and awarding Aboriginal businesses for their work in forestry, and we engage our members with best practices when it comes to working with the Aboriginal businesses and contractors.”
FPAC shares their information as a national organization to companies on how they can do better in all parts of the country. They also take a close look at their hiring practices with the Aboriginal communities and focus on the cultural sensitivities, plus awareness building.
“So we play a big role in sharing collaborations on the overall big picture when it comes to working with the Aboriginal community.”
Since Canada forest products industry has the best environmental reputation in the world, according to a Lager Survey of international customers, does FPAC share their environmental standards with other countries?
“Yes, they’re jealous” Nighbor said with a smile. “We do have high levels of government ownerships of the lands, 90 percent of the trees in Canada are subjected to government rules and regulations. We have some of the best talent in the world and other countries are envious and there is a lot of interest in what Canada is doing in forestry, which is good as we sell our products around the world. The Canadian product is highly valued and trusted around the world, so that’s great for business.”
Nighbor says that forestry is a global business and he wants people to understand that our product is sustainable.
In regards to the clear-cutting issues, how does FPAC operate in this area.
“Number one, every tree that is harvested is done in very scientific and planned out way. Like I mentioned earlier, 90 per cent of the land is government related – the cuts are very planned, we need to take into consideration the species, the water and the local environment; for every tree that is cut, three are planted. The key is following the strict rules, the cuts are planned and based on science, we deal closely with the Aboriginal communities, even if you have legal right to cut in an area or on Aboriginal lands, we have to go in with good intentions because this is a long-term investment. So that’s important to have good engagement, and have good solid science knowledge when cutting.”
Nighbor grew grew up in the Upper Ottawa Valley, and had a lot of exposure, working in small mills and plants as a teenager, and his family also worked in the forest industry.
“I am also very passionate about rural issues and I understand how important these jobs are for the rural communities. There are limited job opportunities in the northern communities, and a lot of the young people have to move to the urban areas to find work. I want to be a voice for those communities and that’s why I took the job.”
Canada is ranked as the world’s second largest exporter of forest products and the sector is the second biggest contributor to Canada’s trade surplus at 20.9 billion.
The industry wants those numbers to grow. Increasing trade with new and existing markets will be necessary for a vibrant forest products sector, especially in the face of growing international competition.
The final questions I asked Nighbor was where does he see the forest industry in 20 years.
“Number one, selling our wood products to the rest of the world is a huge opportunity, there’s more opportunity in China, India, and number two, the types of product we’re producing, we’re increasingly making bio materials, wood components are being used in other goods like cosmetics, and we’re seeing a lot of new uses for wood materials.”
Nighbor finished the interview by saying, “For the Indigenous communities we’re gonna see a lot more job opportunities for the young people and working with CCAB is a good thing so we can better position ourselves on how we can tap into that young talent, that’s a huge opportunity for FPAC. It’s a truly sustainable industry and of course there will be challenges ahead of us.”

The Legacy of Standing Rock


The Dakota Pipeline battle is over and the smoke has cleared at Standing Rock, and once again history records another injustice, one more in a long train of abuses perpetrated upon First Nations people by a North American government.

Since First Nations Drum last report on Standing Rock was published late November of last year, winter arrived and camp population dwindled to a few hundred people. In January, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault called for camps to disband, citing harsh weather conditions and possible contamination of the Missouri River during the coming spring flood.

Authorities set the deadline for all protestors to evacuate both camps – Sacred Stone Camp, and, Oceti Sakowin Camp – for February 22. In a news release one day prior to the deadline, Minnesota Governor Doug Burgum announced people were being allowed to leave voluntarily.

“You know that our big ask for tomorrow is anyone remaining in the camp, we want to make sure that they know they have an opportunity to voluntarily leave. Take your belongings, remove anything that may be culturally significant and we’ll help you get on your way if you need to do that,” Burgum was quoted by CNN.

Most protestors, about 100, obliged, and left voluntarily. However, 33 persons were arrested the following day for refusal to comply with the government’s demand, this according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. According to North Dakota authorities, an additional 23 people were arrested during site cleanup, bringing the total number of persons arrested to 55. On February 24, one day after the deadline to evacuate expired, via social media – Twitter – the Morton County Sheriff’s Department declared the camp cleared just after 2 p.m.

Directional drilling under Lake Oahe is complete and Dakota Access intends to place the pipeline into service on May 14 of this year. Lake Oahe is located one half mile upstream from the Sioux tribe’s Standing Rock Reservation. The Dakota Pipeline does not cross Sioux land but at it nearest point comes within about 150 meters from Standing Rock Reservation.

Sacred Stone Camp was founded by Standing Rock’s Historic Preservation Officer, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, in April 2016, and served as the center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline.

The change in season to warm summer weather brought with it an increase in the number of protestors. At its peak Sacred Stone became home to 10,000 people. This lead to the creation of an overflow camp, the Oceti Sakowin Camp (the Lakȟótiyapi name for the Great Sioux Nation or Seven Fires Council). Oceti Sakowin was the camp closest to where the pipeline runs beneath the Missouri River.

History Between the US Government and Great Sioux Nation

Land belonging to the Great Sioux Nation was taken by the US government by authority of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. The Sioux were restricted to land east of the Missouri River and the State line of South Dakota to the west. The Black Hills, sacred land to the Sioux, were awarded to the tribe.

The infamous General George Custer led his 7th Calvary into the Black Hills in 1874 in direct violation of the treaty. With Custer’s discovery of gold in the Black Hills, a “Gold Rush” ensued leading the US government to seek negotiations to rent or buy the Black Hills from the rightful owners – the Lakota Sioux.

Lakota Sioux spiritual leader Sitting Bull led his peoples’ opposition against acceptance of further encroachment upon, and theft of, their ancestral land leading to another war between a First Nations tribe defending their land against a US federal government looking to take it.

The Great Sioux War of 1876, or, the Black Hills War, included the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, and ended in 1877. The war was not without a significant victory for indigenous forces. It was at the Battle of Little Bighorn where Custer met his demise. Known as Custer’s Last Stand, the battle was an overwhelming victory for the Plains “Indians.”

As happened throughout U.S. history, superior resources enabled the US federal government to have its way, forcing the Sioux to surrender. The US government employed a common tactic when combating a First Nations people – attack and destroy encampments and property. The Agreement of 1877 ending the Black Hills War included a provision allowing the US government to steal the Black Hills away from the Sioux Nation.

T’Sou-ke First Nations Lead the Way in Solar Energy

Car charging station at T’Sou-ke Band Office. Source: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.

Car charging station at T’Sou-ke Band Office. Source:

by Frank Larue

“We made the decision, which is really easy, that it’s a light footprint approach, and we did that for our children. It’s all about future generations.” T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes told the CBC.

Located just outside Victoria, B.C., the T’Sou-ke First Nation may be a native Band of only 250 members but they are numero uno when it comes to solar energy. Having operated on a solar micro grid for the last ten years, their solar energy program was made possible thanks to the Comprehensive Community Planning, which is run by Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

The T’Souke Band solar energy program is based upon a list four priority pillars – energy, autonomy, food, self-sufficiency and cultural renaissance – and is built on the premise that it does not use more power than it produces. And selling power to BC Hydro brings the T’Sou-ke a financial return.

The Band offers eco-tourism tours that have attracted politicians, thousands of visitors interested in solar power, and several native leaders, including four chiefs from Manitoba making the trek to find out firsthand about solar energy and its benefits. The Band also offers workshops demonstrating how solar energy works.

Solar panels at work. Source: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Solar panels at work.

The benefit to solar energy over traditional energy sources was clear to Chief Planes, who, regarding the money that will be saved by adopting solar energy, said, “You’re going to look at a huge cost in the future if they’ve gotta’ start flying fuel in.”

The T’Souke also are involved in specialized agriculture. They own three greenhouses and grow Wasabi, a plant that stimulates nasal passages and is known as the Japanese horseradish. Although Wasabi is more popular in the USA and Europe than it is in Canada, the Band’s first Wasabi harvest was worth $100,000 and the Band now grows Wasabi on a yearly basis.

The T’Souke Band have one more project that is a work in progress. They want to save the Olympia oyster, which is listed as an endangered species. “There are not many left in our harbor We need to bring them back, full circle. The community will tackle anything that ensures the environment will be better for future generations and children yet to be born,” said Chief Planes. “It is important to bring everyone along and that whatever we envision, that we have the whole community behind it.”