Posts By: First Nations Drum

Leading by Example Exceeding Personal Expectations

Tanis Flett receiving her Diploma

Tanis Flett receiving her Diploma

Graduating is a major accomplishment and there’s great joy in donning your cap and gown and receiving your parchment. It’s a day when you look back on the challenges you’ve overcome – the late nights studying, driving through storms to get to class, and remembering the people you met along the way and the fun memories you’ve made. For Tanis Flett, a graduate of the Social Work Diploma program in June of 2017, it is also proof that her hard work and determination has set her up for a successful future.

Tanis Flett is a 29 year-old, mother of four who lives in Sucker Creek First Nation with her husband. Flett was a stay-at-home mom for eight years, and when her youngest child started kindergarten she decided it was time to return to school full-time. Flett credits her husband and his support in her success. She chose to study with Northern Lakes College because of accessibility. The High Prairie Campus is only 20 minutes away from where she lives, and it was easy to travel back and forth.

During her studies at Northern Lakes College, Flett was involved with several committees including the Student Union, the Student Association, Academic Council, and the Community Education Committee. Flett appreciates the support, “I had incredible instructors. The people in the Student Association and staff at the College were great. I really appreciate their support. It was a really good four years.”

Flett was very excited and relieved when she made it to graduation day. Graduating alongside her sister, Kim Flett-Letendre was a proud moment. Flett recalled when she was attending a convocation ceremony a few years earlier and watched a Social Work student being called up to receive multiple awards. This was an awe-inspiring moment for her and she set a goal for herself to be that person one day. Her hard work paid off; on her graduation day Flett received three awards, including the Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze Medallion for highest academic achievement. “I hope that my children will see my hard work and effort as an example for themselves to succeed in life. I believe in leading by example. If you work hard, you can achieve anything you want,” she said.

Today, Flett works for the Social Development Department at Sucker Creek First Nation. In her work, Flett continues to aim high and says that her education has given her the skills and tools to handle challenging situations that life has in store.

FNESS Youth Engagement Initiative – Fire Prevention: Be a Firefighter

Participants at Fire Prevention: Be A Firefighter workshop, GOV 2017, Kelowna Fire Department. Kelowna, BC.

Participants at Fire Prevention: Be A Firefighter workshop, GOV 2017, Kelowna Fire Department. Kelowna, BC.

The First Nations Emergency Services Society of BC (FNESS) has the mission as a professional community-minded, highly skilled and committed team, to work with First Nations in promoting, developing and sustaining safer and healthier communities. We believe that our youth are the future of society and that if young people engage in doing something with a purpose, they will build tomorrow’s communities.

FNESS is proud to be involved with youth with the well-established FNESS Youth Engagement Initiative. Every year the FNESS Fire Services department motivates youth to learn about practical fire safety knowledge, firefighter skills and careers in the fire services. Many young people join the Regional FNESS Fire Prevention Youth Boot Camps and the Fire Prevention: Be A Firefighter workshop. The latter is delivered in partnership with Gathering Our Voices Indigenous Youth Leadership Training (GOV).

For the past 2 years FNESS has partnered with schools, school districts, local fire departments, both municipal and First Nations led, to deliver this amazing event to First Nations youth. In 2017 FNESS had the honour to partner with Kelowna Fire Department to participate as facilitators at GOV, where over 100 youth attended and demonstrated their drive and excitement. Also, FNESS partnered with Penticton Indian Band Fire Department, Penticton Fire Department, West Kelowna Fire Department, and School Districts 23 and 67 to host two regional Fire Prevention Youth Boot Camps.

During GOV 2018 FNESS will be attending as an exhibitor at the career fair and as facilitators to deliver the most coveted Fire Prevention: Be A Firefighter workshop. FNESS has partnered with Richmond Fire Rescue to offer the best experience for our First Nations youth participating at the GOV 2018. It is an honour to be able to be part of one the greatest youth initiatives in BC, where thousands of delegates from all First Nations across BC come together to get inspired and motivated through diverse career oriented workshops at the GOV.

This year’s GOV is in Richmond, BC at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel from March 20th to March 23rd. The Fire Prevention: Be A Firefighter workshop will be on March 21st and March 22nd. Make sure you register for our workshop before it’s at capacity. Registrations open in February at

Chiefs Council Launches GoFundMe Campaign to Quash Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and Great Bear Rainforest

LAX KW’ALAAMS, BC, January 24, 2018 – The Chiefs Council represents over 30 communities engaged in the First Nations-led Eagle Spirit energy corridor proposed from Bruderheim, Alberta to tidewater in northern British Columbia. Its members have unextinguished Aboriginal rights and title from time immemorial and continuing into the present, or have treaties over the land and ocean of their traditional territories. Having protected the environment as first-stewards of their traditional territories for millennia, the Chief’s Council is vehemently opposed to American ENGOs dictating government policy in their traditional territories—particularly the illegal imposition of the Great Bear Rainforest and the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act proposed by the liberal government.

Today the Chiefs Council wishes to announce that it has set up a GoFundMe page to assist with legal and administrative costs needed to quash the Government’s unilaterally imposed Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and the Great Bear Rainforest—both of which were established largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs and without the consultation and consent of First Nations as required by the Constitution. We have and will always, put the protection of the environment first, but this must be holistically balanced with social welfare, employment, and business opportunities. These government actions harm our communities denying our leaders the opportunity to create a brighter future for their members.

The Chiefs Council understood that liberal government was supposed to be supporting reconciliation–not perpetuating past failed colonial policies designed subjugate and marginalize indigenous peoples. It is a sad comment that this action is required to taken by Canada’s poorest people against a federal justice department with an indigenous minister. When the federal government possesses unlimited financial resources, such heavy-handed unilateral action clearly is not consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to Aboriginal peoples.

Indigenous-Produced Docu-Drama Series “1491” Reveals Untold History of the Americas Before Columbus

The history of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, before and after 1492, has always been told from the point of view of the European settlers and in recent times, by non-Indigenous scholars. Until now. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) will present the world premiere of the docu-drama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus starting November 8th on APTN hd and e at 7:00 p.m. ET, APTN w at 7:00 p.m. MT and n North at 7:00 p.m. CT.

Based on Charles C. Mann’s best selling book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the eight hour miniseries, produced by Animiki See Digital Production of Winnipeg and Aarrow Productions of Victoria, takes its audience on a journey dating as far back as 20,000 years ago through to 1491. The series focuses on the origins and history of ancient civilizations and groundbreaking achievements in North and South America in the areas of agriculture, astronomy, architecture, environment, governance, medicine, technology, science, trade and art.

The series is produced, directed and written by Indigenous Canadians and most of the 35 historians, archaeologists, cultural experts and scholars interviewed have Indigenous ancestry. The series features an Indigenous cast of actors and cultural leaders who provide context on Indigenous history in the Americas.

“For many years it has been a dream for APTN to adapt Charles C. Mann’s groundbreaking New York Times Bestseller into a documentary miniseries,” said Jean La Rose, APTN Chief Executive Officer. “Many people are now displaying a greater openness to Indigenous perspectives and the time for this authentic story is fitting. Through the work of an amazing team of thought-provoking producers, scholars and talent, we hope to tell a new history of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and our contributions to the world.”

Mann’s critically acclaimed book, 1491, dispels long-held theories that prior to European contact, Indigenous Peoples were largely nomadic, did not alter the natural landscape, and were not as advanced as other civilizations in the world at the time.

“I am thrilled that my book has inspired APTN and two Indigenous production companies to create a docu-drama series on the history of the Americas before Columbus’ arrival,” said Charles Mann. “I’m looking forward to seeing this team create an epic narrative of Indigenous history that is long overdue.”

Two award-winning filmmakers, Barbara Hager (Cree/Métis) and Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe), directed the series in locations throughout North, Central and South America. The series was written by Barbara Hager and Marie Clements (Métis). Other key creatives include composer Russell Wallace (Lil’wat), production designer Teresa Weston, costume designer Carmen Thompson (Nuu-chah-nulth), director of photography Bob Aschmann, editors Michael Clark and Tyler F. Gamsby and narrator Dr. Evan Adams (Tla’amin).

“The opportunity to direct the dramatic scenes in this series that brings to life stories of our collective history, is both an honour and a creative challenge,” said Lisa Jackson, the series’ drama director. “My co-director Barbara Hager and I share a vision that this series must portray the history of Indigenous Peoples in an accurate, authentic and respectful way.”


For those of us who are not one of the one percent – Christmas can be a budget stretching, nerve racking stress fest.
Sorry for the reminder, but its better coming from a jokester like me than your spouse, your banker or even worse your in-laws.

Are you looking at a Ho, Ho, Ho season with not enough dough, dough, dough? Then my friend, you’d better get cracking, because the Chris Cringle cash crunch is coming down a chimney near you.

Just like Santa, you too, should make a list and check it twice. Think of your interactions with people over the past year. Who has been naughty to you, who has been nice and who deserves a lump of coal to fall on their head.
Start your list with the naughty, people who judge thee, the greedy and ending with something really naughty for the one you’re with.

At this time of year a lot of us wish upon a Christmas star in the hopes that the lotto-fairy would sprinkle a little lucky dust on us. But just like my childhood Christmas wish for a 3 speed, banana seat bike with the Easy Rider handlebars – it ain’t happening – then again, this is the season of hope.

We all know who the villains are in our lives – maybe it’s a so called friend, a mean co-worker or a rocky relationship with a relative. Just remember that in the spirit of the season and peace on Earth, we may have to smile, and at the very least give them a card. No one has to know that you secretly wish it contained a one-way ticket to Kissitstan.

If you’re going to have a house full of guests for the festive feast, get ready for hours of cooking, a huge mess and a huge bill with all the trimmings.

Christmas turkeys cost the same, no matter if you’re Scrooge McDuck or just a poor cluck like me. Let’s not forget the sweet potatoes, cranberries and pie. Then there are the liquid beverages from dad’s Old Granddad bourbon to junior’s juice boxes.

It all adds up, and if you happen to have a spare room, a comfy-couch or even a summer-floaty, you’ll be also cooking a big family breakfast.
Don’t forget you’ll have to gas up the tank and take them around town, show them the sights and feed those mooches lunch too.

The only thing that would makes things worse is if they had a terrible two year old brat, a big drooling dog and a bad habit of waking up a 5 am to watch TV.

The next test of your ho, ho, ho spirit is to organize everyone’s every move and movement right down to buying extra toilet paper.

As time ticks down to the big day, and every bow is neatly in its place – you’d think you could finally take a rest from your stress – you’d be wrong.

Answer me this why do people wake up so damned early on Christmas morning?

Well it’s not over yet, after the ribbons and bows get cleaned up, dinner gets started. Pots and pans begin to rattle, the bird gets stuffed and everyone is seated and ready to drudge up old family business.

After all the shopping, wrapping and decorating – the whole thing is over before you know it – and everyone is thinking the same thing: is that it?


Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at:

Annual Downtown Eastside: Heart of the City Festival

The 14th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival will take place during October 25 to Sunday November 5, 2017 in Vancouver. Over 100 events at over 50 locations throughout 12 days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, processions, spoken word, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibitions, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.

The theme of the 2017 Festival, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, pays tribute to women from all walks of life in the Downtown Eastside past and present.

A special feature this year is the premiere of MISSING a new chamber opera that gives voice to the story of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women. The libretto is by the distinguished First Nations playwright Marie Clements and the composer is Juno-award winner Brian Current. Produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre/DTES Heart of the City Festival, MISSING will open in the Downtown Eastside for a private invitational audience then continue for the public at the York Theatre starting on November 3.

Other Festival highlights include: Summoning (No Words), an interactive sound installation in response to global incidents of violence against women; performances of Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone, that tells the story of two friends who face life at the edge, weaving contemporary choreography and storytelling through an indigenous lens, featuring storyteller Rosemary Georges on (Coast Salish/Dene) and dance artists Olivia C. Davies (Welsh/Metis-Anishnawbe) and Emily Long; the fabulous voices of Dalannah Gail Bowen, Renae Morriseau, Helen Duguay and Sara Cadeau in Women in the Round; and the always popular evening of jazz at Carnegie Theatre with Jazz Confluence: Carnegie Jazz Band with Brad Muirhead Quartet & Four Special Female Jazz Musicians.

The mandate of the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, heritage, activism, people and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The festival involves a wide range of professional, community, emerging and student artists, and lovers of the arts. Over 1,000 local artists and Downtown Eastside residents participated in last year’s 2016 Festival.

Other highlights include Walking Tours. The Festival is pleased to present a new walking tour with Marcia Toms to shed light on the vital work of women in the home and the Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods. Marcia draws stories of women from many different cultures and marginalized backgrounds who most often worked outside of the realm of organized labour. Born and raised in Vancouver, Marcia is a retired educator, advocate for public education and has a passion for local social history. To all interested, meet at Ovaltine Cafe, 251 E. Hastings on Sunday Oct 29, at 11am.

Also, Sneak Peek into Chinatown: Join hosts Judy Lam Maxwell and Steven Wong for a glimpse of Chinatown. Judy leads Historical Chinatown Tours and Steven is third generation ‘man about town’ in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Meet at Sai Woo, 158 E. Pender, on Saturday Nov 4, at 11am, and $10, pay what you can for local residents.

Many events are free or by suggested donation. Visit for full details.

Siksika First Nation Evacuates Members from Sudden Wild Fires


Siksika First Nation – Wild Fires forced the evacuation in approximately 8 or more communities across Southern Alberta on Tuesday, October 17th. Those communities, included the Siksika First Nation, where no casualties were reported, but homes were destroyed by the wild fires. Extreme high winds was one of the main cause for the out of control fires.It was reported that one Elderly man had burns to his head and hands as he tried to fight the fire that nearly burned his home. Elders and young children had to be evacuated, some had no transportation.

Ruben (Buck) Breaker, Siksika First Nation councilor posted on his Facebook, that those with breathing problems and medical conditions, all these people, and countless others had a very traumatic day.

“Words cannot express the efforts of our Siksika fire fighters, as well as surrounding fire crews who helped out. These folks are the real heroes in yesterday’s devastation. Our fire fighters don’t get enough credit for the job they do. Prayers to our neighbors in and around the town of Gleichen, as they suffered damage as well.”

NIC TV and Film Crew Training Ready for Registration


New courses offered at North Island College’s Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses aim to feed a booming Vancouver Island film industry hungry for off-screen talent.

NIC is accepting applications for the new television and film crew training program, which starts in October.

It launches as Vancouver Island and BC’s local film industries are roaring. An estimated $2 billion was spent on film production in 2015 alone, creating 25,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanoose residents have seen their communities buzzing with activity during filming of Hallmark Channel’s TV series Chesapeake Shores for the past two years.

Joan Miller, commissioner of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INfilm), said NIC’s decision to offer the courses comes at a time when the local film industry needs qualified crew to attract productions like Chesapeake Shores.

“We have so many productions that want to film here,” Miller said.

But a shortage of local, trained crew “has been a barrier for years” to bringing more film and television production to the north Island, due to the additional costs of bringing crew from elsewhere to local sets, Miller said.

The pilot program includes four separate training courses, including training to set up lighting and camera equipment, build and design sets and work as a production assistant.

The province announced almost $500,000 in funding to develop the courses in March. NIC also relied on help and expertise from INfilm, which provides liaison and location services to film, television, commercial and media companies filming in communities from Nanaimo northwards.

INfilm consulted with industry partners and urged the province to provide funding for the courses, pitching the idea as a way to invest in local tradespeople.

“This opens up a whole new avenue to find work,” Miller said.
“It’s also going to supply students with a few key certifications they need to get on set including the Motion Picture Industry Orientation ticket,” Miller added.

“NIC is very pleased to be working with our regional film commissioner and industry to develop customized, applied short term training aligned with film and television productions,” said Cheryl O’Connell, NIC’s dean of trades and technical programs. “The fact that these courses are being offered in response to industry demand is very significant to the region.”

There are still vacancies in the program, but prospective students are urged to get their applications in before Sept. 15.
Anyone interested in applying for a course in the training program can request an application package at