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Scoop of the Sixties Victims Win Day in Court

By Frank Larue

When the dark era of the residential school came to an end in the early sixties, a new plan was developed by Ottawa: The Scoop of the Sixties. This placed aboriginal children in white foster homes across Canada and the United States. The children were cut off from their own parents, culture, traditions, relatives, and family history.

Sixties Scoop gathering

A woman is comforted at a Sixties Scoop gathering before a provincial apology was delivered in Winnipeg from Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger in June 2015. Photo Credit: John Woods / The Canadian Press)

In 1982, Judge Edwin C. Kimelman wrote a report on the negative repercussions of the Scoop of the Sixties. “The goal of child welfare should be to strengthen family ties, not to sever them. With the closing of residential schools, rather than providing the resources on reserve to build economic security and providing services to support responsible parenting, society found it easier and cheaper to remove the children from their homes and apparently fill the market demand for children in Canada and the U.S.”

Cultural genocide was used to describe the residential school system, and it applies also for the Scoop of the Sixties. Kimelman compares both systems and the damage done, saying: ”When the indian residential schools were operating, children were forcibly removed from their homes for the duration of the academic year. But at least under that system, the children knew who their parents were, and they returned home for the summer months.”

The Scoop was total separation. Foster parents brought up these children as white kids. Ironically, the society into which aboriginal children were being inducted would never let these children forget they were aboriginal.

The children taken from their homes during the Sixties Scoop grew up totally separated from their families and communities, with little or no understanding of their own culture, and no grasp of their own identity. In their new environments, they were often discriminated against because of their race. By the time they reached their mid-teens, the vast majority were running away repeatedly from the security of their white homes in search of their real homes and parents. Most never found their real parents, abusing drugs and alcohol, or turning to crime as a result of identity crises.

Five billion was given to residential school victims, but not a penny was given to the victims of the Scoop of the Sixties. Fortunately, that is about to change because of a class action against the government on behalf of the Ontario victims. Justice Edward P. Belobaba told the court that the province of Ontario failed to “… prevent on-reserve indian children in Ontario, who were placed in the care of non-aboriginal foster or adoptive parents, from losing their aboriginal identity.” The federal government will now have to compensate the victims who are asking $1.3 billion for the 16,000 scoop victims.

This is only the beginning. There are two class actions coming up in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC are expecting to follow suit which means the federal government will finally have to come up with a large payout. The federal government have avoided helping the Scoop victims for years. In fact, they have tried eight times to stop the trial, and now Carolyn Bennett – minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development – has agreed to abide by the court’s decision. She hasn’t made any apologies for attempting to prevent the Scoop victims from receiving any compensation. Considering Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises of rectifying mistreatment of First Nations, this is yet another example of his hollow promises and no action, which seems to be the modus operandi of the Liberal government.

Gitxsan Nation Divided Due to Pipeline Agreement

by Frank Larue

Liberal leader Christie Clark has done everything possible to push through the LNG projects, whereas native leaders have been reluctant to approve the LNG projects because of environmental concerns. However, not all native leaders were against LNG. Nine hereditary Gitxsan chiefs have given approval to this project in writing, which has shocked and angered many Gitxsan members who were not included in the decision.

Gitanmaax is a reserve in northern B.C.

Gitanmaax is a reserve in northern B.C. where Gitxsan members discovered confidential documents revealing that some hereditary chiefs had given their consent for the PRGT pipeline in exchange for money. Photo Credit: Trevor Jang


“No individual hereditary chief can make such a decision because the Gitxsan Nation is a collective of all members,” Gitxsan member, and consultant for Aboriginal rights, Neil John Sterrit told the media. “The hereditary chiefs act for all members. They should all be involved in any decision that binds the nation, which this does.”

The chiefs who signed the agreement were promised $6 million for their approval. The money was put in a fund which was to be used for projects approved by the band. Although, many of the members disagree with the decision to approve the LNG project. They want no part of the money, which they see as a form of bribery.

“It was done secretly,” Sterrit told the Vancouver Sun. “It was done so people like me would not know. Not just me, but a lot of people who were opposed to the way things operate.”

Earl Muldoon is the 80-year old hereditary chief known as Dulgamuukw, a symbolic ancestral chief name passed down from generation-to-generation of Gitxsan people. He is famous for the historic court case that confirmed Aboriginal title had not been extinguished by any colonial government. “It’s a name that’s greatly respected. We’ve earned respect for it,” Muldoon told the Vancouver Sun. He feels he has done no wrong.

Gordon Sebastian – also a hereditary chief who signed the letter of approval – stated the chiefs went through an extensive four year process. This involved 45 meetings with PRGT, the provincial government, industry experts, and those who were opposed to the project. “So what we did over four years is we evaluated everything,” says Sebastian. “The environment. The birds. The animals. I did all that stuff. I took it all in consideration. Me as well as the other 10 chiefs. We did all that, and we did it jointly.”

Muldoon has not benefitted from the money, it was deposited in a band trust fund. “I had members phone me and say they want $10,000, they want $20,000. Kind of a blackmail type of thing. We never spent any of the money. We didn’t want to deal with that type of method. It’s just sitting in the pot, that’s all. I had discussions with my family. We decided we have to go with progress.”

On the flip-side, a group of Gitxsan chiefs known as the United Gitxsan is opposed to any gas pipeline because of environmental concerns. “We’re not in favour of this at all,” spokesman Norm Stephens told the media. In an email, the pipeline administration provides the source of the problem: “TransCanada has a robust engagement policy that guides all of our interactions. PRGT has been able to sign benefit agreements with 13 First Nations along the route. This demonstrates that our approach works.”

Neither side is backing down, so we can expect a roadblock for the pipeline until everyone agrees. This will not happen in the foreseeable future. The LNG companies will not give up, there is too much money at stake; but the Gitxsan are a stubborn group, and solving their internal administrative problems will have to happen before any agreement can exist.

Members Denied Status With Newfoundland Band

by Frank Larue

The Mi’kmaq’s in Newfoundland have had to deal with a tragic history. In 1949, when Newfoundland became a Canadian province, there was no more than 560 Mi’kmaqs there. Unfortunately they were never subject to the Indian Act, which all native bands were governed by. This meant that they never received the benefits such as post-secondary assistance, medical assistance, along with the benefits most status indians received

William Prosper, a second generation Mi’kmaq descendant of the Prosper family, sits with his wife, Madeline, outside their wigmam in Nova Scotia sometime before William’s death in 1923. Photo: Nova Scotia Museum

William Prosper, a second generation Mi’kmaq descendant of the Prosper family, sits with his wife, Madeline, outside their wigmam in Nova Scotia sometime before William’s death in 1923. Photo: Nova Scotia Museum


In 2008, the population had grown to 23,000, so the government decided to create a landless band: the Qualipu. This gave the Mi’kmaq’s the same rights as most status Indians. The problem that the government wasn’t expecting was the number of applicants for the Qualipu, which has risen to 100,000. This meant that the Mi’kmaq were 1/5 of the population in Newfoundland. The federal government put through a new bill C-25, which gave them the power to review and revoke the indian status of native people who had been approved in 2005. Also, Bill C-25 didn’t allow native people who had been disqualified to appeal the decision.

To meet the criteria to be a member, the person must reside in Newfoundland – which many of the applicants did not – and for the applicant to prove their native identity. Their identity had to be accepted by a Mi’kmaq community, and show a connection to a Mi’kmaq community before 1949.

Hector Pearce, 69-year old retired psychologist and vice chair of the Mi’kmaq First Nations Assembly of Newfoundland, discovered his roots eight years ago. He told the CBC that “… this whole process has been bungled, they just made a mess of this from the beginning. I don’t want people to tell me I’m not something I am.”

More applicants were disqualified for not providing either a connection with a Mi’kmaq community, or a connection before 1949, but there were also petty administrative problems that nixed the applications. Jaimie Lickers, the lawyer representing the Mi’kmaq First Nations Assembly of Newfoundland, complained about the hundreds of applications that were turned down because of some small mistake. On top of this, there was no appeal for these mistakes.

“We’re talking about lifelong entitlement to Indian status and band membership. Recognition of your heritage,” she told the Globe and Mail. “To be disqualified from that because you forgot to include a long-form birth certificate is ridiculous.”

More than 68,000 native people have been rejected, including 10,000 members who were approved either in 1989 or 2005, which means they no longer are status Indians.

“Think about that for a moment,” Qualipa Chief Brendan Mitchell told the Globe and Mail. “People have a [status] card for five years, and all of a sudden the Canadian Government says: ‘we’re not recognizing you anymore. Give your card back.’ Sadly the government of Canada, in my view, shows no remorse or compassion about what happened here. It’s all ‘well, we had a deal and here’s the outcome and screw it, you’re in or you’re out.”

Year of the Woman: FND Celebrates Women of Change

By: Niimi Fontaine

In honour of Women’s Day, March 8th 2017, the First Nations Drum celebrates Native women who have made a difference. With the current political climate and recent Women’s March protest where an estimated 3 million people took part worldwide, some are calling this the ‘Year of The Woman.’ First Nations women have often been underrepresented and not received the credit they deserve, however, this is beginning to change and we hope to see more sisters young and old finding their voice and becoming a catalyst for positive change.

Waneek Horn-Miller

Waneek Horn-Miller, 2009. Photo Cred: Jeff De Booy/Winnipeg Free Press


Waneek Horn-Miller has recently been hired as the Director of Community Engagement for the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Horn-Miller, a former MVP for the gold medal winning Canadian women’s water polo team, says her new title is more than just a job – it’s a mission.

A Mohawk from Kahnawake, Que., Horn-Miller is a former Olympian, a media personality and a health advocate. Her hiring as director of community engagement was announced at the inquiry’s first news conference on Feb. 7. “I was really, really humbled and honoured to be asked, because this [inquiry] is a historic event,” Horn-Miller told the CBC. “Never in our history have we ever just solely focused on the safety of Indigenous women and girls.”

At the 1999 Pan Am Games Waneek was voted MVP and as a co-captain proudly led her team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. She went on to help Canada win a bronze medal at the 2001 FINA World Championships. Waneek was also present at the Oka Crisis in the occupational camp as a 14 year old. On the last day of the standoff as the occupiers were walking out there was a physical altercation between soldiers and Mohawk militants and Waneek was injured by a soldier’s bayonet as she carried her sister, and nearly lost her life.

As director of community engagement, Horn-Miller will oversee a team of regional community liaisons. The team will be in charge of connecting the commission with Indigenous organizations, the public, and most importantly, victims’ families across the country. “We’re supporting the families that have already identified themselves on what to expect from the hearings,” Horn-Miller told CBC. “But it’s also getting the word out there to people who don’t necessarily think that they have anything to contribute.”

Although she said it’s not entirely in her job description, Horn-MIller said she also plans to work with the commission’s communications staff to let the Canadian public know about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. ”It’s the reality in our communities…there’s a lot of women I know who have been the victim of violence, or know someone who has been impacted by violence,” she said. ”But I want the public to know that this issue is not just an Indigenous issue, it’s a Canadian issue.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie. Photo Cred: Matt Barnes Courtesy of the Artist


This year Buffy Sainte-Marie will be the award recipient of the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award. Sainte-Marie exemplifies the essence of humanitarianism through her dedication to protecting indigenous communities and indigenous intellectual property. Given out annually at the JUNO Awards, the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award celebrates and recognizes the philanthropic efforts made by Canadian musicians that have created a positive impact on the social welfare of society as whole.

Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan and grew up in Massachusetts. With a musical career spanning more than 50 years, Sainte-Marie is celebrated for her thought provoking lyrics and her passion for supporting Aboriginal people. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism. In 1997 she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans. She has won recognition and many awards and honours for both her music and her work in education and social activism.

The first First Nations artist who has been awarded an Academy Award (Best Original Song for “Up Where We Belong,”) Sainte-Marie is also the recipient of four JUNO Awards, a Golden Globe, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, a BAFTA Award, multiple Queen’s Jubilee Medals and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. She carries the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Sainte-Marie’s most recent album Power in the Blood (2015) won 2016 JUNO Awards for Aboriginal Album of the Year sponsored by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, as well as the Polaris Music Prize.

Shannen Koostachin

Shannen Koostachin, 14. Photo Cred: Toronto Star


Shannen Koostachin, a young activist from Attawapiskat First Nation, Ont., was named one of Canada’s top 150 Canadians. She was a passionate advocate who took her message to Parliament Hill in 2009, to demand the federal government provide better, safer schools for students living on reserves. She spoke openly about deplorable conditions she and other aboriginal students had to deal with in their schools on First Nation reserves.

Sadly, the 15-year old passed away in a car accident in June 2010.

Koostachin’s advocacy for better and safer education for aboriginal students was turned into a campaign by her family and friends, known as Shannen’s Dream. That legacy is what earned Koostachin a spot on the list of top 150 Canadians. The list — which also includes names like Terry Fox and Emily Carr — is to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year.

Shannen’s Dream lives on through the First Nations Child and Caring Society, based in Ottawa. Executive director Cindy Blackstock says Koostachin was first confronted with a poor educational environment when she started kindergarten. At that time, the official school in Attawapiskat was closed down because the ground underneath it was contaminated. Students instead had their classes in portables trailers supplied by the federal government. “It was only supposed to be temporary, but by the time Shannen was in Grade 8 these portables had deteriorated so severely that there was ice build up, there was ruins, there was black mould,” says Blackstock. “There was a fire in this girl.” Blackstock recalls of Koostachin. “She just thought this was absolutely not fair.” Koostachin asked other Indigenous children to write letters to the government demanding change and demanding equal opportunity for all students. Blackstock remembers when Koostachin met with the Minister of Indian Affairs in 2009 to demand a better school for her community. When that politician responded with an unsatisfactory response, Koostachin told him she would never give up, because every child deserved better education.

As for the large 150th birthday celebration and being named as a great Canadian, Blackstock says she feels Koostachin would by disappointed that millions of dollars were being spent on a birthday party, when so many Indigenous students are still fighting for proper schools and struggling for basic needs. Koostachin didn’t advocate for recognition or awards, Blackstock says she did it to help other students. Blackstock says she feels Indigenous students across Canada are asking for one thing this year as the nation celebrates 150 years. “They want Shannen’s Dream to come true.”

Melanie Mark

Melanie Mark becomes first Aboriginal woman elected to B.C. legislature. Photo Credit: Facebook


Melanie Mark is the first woman from a First Nation to be elected to the BC Legislature. She

is of Nisga’a, Gltxsan. Cree, and Ojibway heritage. Melanie admitted she knew little of her history until she worked as an interpreter for Bill Reid’s art displayed at the Vancouver airport.

“I was inspired by Bill Reid’s work not because I had any artistic ability but because I was curious about the native culture that was unknown to me.” Melanie had a very difficult childhood, her father died of a heroin overdose and her mother was described as an ‘alcoholic and fanatical woman.’ She grew up in downtown Vancouver’s Eastside, and was subject to abuse and humiliation, surrounded by drug and alcohol addiction and was often in charge of her siblings. “I hope the public doesn’t take the first two decades of my life as the defining piece of me. It’s part of what gives me empathy,” she told the media. “When people phone you and say ‘this is what I am faced with,’ I can understand what they’re talking about.”

As a former president of the Urban Native Youth Association Melanie Mark attended the Native Education Centre and Douglas College for a degree in Criminology. She spent eight years with the UNYA. “I saw enough inaction and status quo and stand-pat budgets and lack of commitment.” Having suffered abuse herself, she was committed to helping Native youth who had been abused. “Knowledge is power, and the trials and tribulations in my life have increased my knowledge as an Aboriginal woman to want to partake in creating a better system, of accountability for the protection of our young people.

Fred Sasakamoose, the First Indian NHL Hockey Player

by Kelly Many Guns

His favourite memories of playing hockey was not during his days as a professional or a junior hockey player, not at all. Rather, it was of his times heading to the lake with his grandpa and playing with his makeshift hockey stick and horse manure as his puck.

Fred “Chief Running Deer” Sasakamoose, 83-years young and born on the Ahtahkakoop First Nation in Saskatchewan, became the first Indian to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1954. Sasakamoose had just finished playing a game with his team the Moose Jaw Canucks, when he got the call and travelled to suit-up with the Blackhawks to play at the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens on the night of February 27, 1954. He would spend another year with the Blackhawks before spending many years with other professional teams, and the minor leagues.

Fred Sasakamoose Photo

Fred Sasakamoose. Photo courtesy of The Globe and Mail

Sasakamoose’s story is so intriguing that a movie about his life is in discussion. As of yet, he has made no definite decision to go through with it, but he will be meeting with movie directors and producers, or as he would put it, “people with them camera’s.” This is planned for mid-March when he travels to Montreal. But first, he wants to attend the opening of the ‘Little Native Hockey League 2017’  in Mississauga, Ontario, where he and other native hockey greats like, Ted Nolan, Reggie Leach, Gino Odjick, Johnathan Cheechoo, and many more will be there to salute the young hockey players of the future.

Before I get into his illustrious career, let’s get back to the story of Sasakamoose’s favourite hockey memory he shared with First Nations Drum.

“The best memory was the beginning of my life – learning to play hockey with my grandpa. We’d walk down to the lake with my toboggan, and he’d put box skates on me. He’d then dig a hole in the ice and fish while I skated around with my hockey stick, shooting around a horse manure puck,” Sasakamoose recalls. “My grandpa would cut off a willow branch to carve out a hockey stick. I cannot imagine beginning my life without my grandpa, he was the start of my life.”

Sasakamoose says he spent 10 years in a residential school. At the age of six-years-old, the Department of Indian Affairs took him and his eight-year-old brother from his parents.

“I remember a big truck pulling in front of our house and they took me and my brother in the back, which was filled with about 30 other kids who were all crying,” he said. “There really was nothing my parents could do, and I remember my grandfather yelling and trying to grab me, but he was not a big man and was pushed away by the two big men.”

His parents, Roderick and Sugil Sasakamoose, like thousands of Indian parents across the country, were forced to give up their children to the residential school. This was an order by the Canadian government, and if they refused, they were sent to jail.

Sasakamoose would spend the next 10 years, as he would put it, “it was like a jail system,” at the St. Micheal’s Indian Residential School at Duck Lake. Soon after arriving to the school, the priest then proceeded to cut off his and all the other children’s braids, and years of abuse ensued. Sasakamoose said it was inhuman what he went through, but that if there is something positive to talk about, he became a strong, young man by the age of 12 because of the heavy chores he did all those years.

“They could not break me, even sexual abuse, being beaten by the nuns and priests; I did learn a hard work ethic with doing chores every day and working in the barns. By the age of 12, I was a pretty strong little man, and not a bad hockey player, too.”

He would play hockey with the other boys at residential school with a 3-inch hockey blade stick. He thinks that’s how he became a good hockey player, because when he played with a regular sized hockey stick it was so much easier, and everything felt natural about hockey.

In 1953, he was selected as the most valuable player in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League when he played for the Moose Jaw Canucks. Sasakamoose said that when he was a kid, like many boys across the country, all he remembers was listening to Hockey Night in Canada on the radio and dreaming of playing in the NHL.

“You know, turning on the radio was like turning on the TV today, it was that good listening to Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday. We all got excited listening to the radio, and seeing the players though our imagination by listening to the announcers on the radio. We all wanted to be there one day, and for me, I knew it would happen!”

Sasakamoose said the game was played differently back then. “We had less equipment, no helmets, and we respected each other as players, that’s why we didn’t have too many injuries. You still had the tough guys making themselves known on the ice, but generally, it was a great game.”

He said playing with the Chicago Blackhawks got him $6000 a year, but the money has never been what was important. It was the game that he lived for.

“I asked Gordie Howe one time how much money he made, and he said, ‘Oh not that much,’ it was just that he really wanted to wear the Detroit Red Wings Jersey,” said Sasakamoose. “I agreed with Gordie, nothing beats wearing that Chicago Blackhawks jersey, no money could buy what it felt like skating into the Chicago Stadium with that jersey.”

Sasakamoose played against the best in hockey like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Tim Horton, and Gordie Howe. During his playing days, it was the ‘original six’ era of the NHL with: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Blackhawks. He once told the Globe and Mail that when he played in the NHL, there were only 125 players allowed in the league.

“At the time, there were 125 players on six teams, and I was one of them,” Sasakamoose says. “I succeeded to the highest level you could achieve. I played against the best in the game, perhaps the best that ever played. It is unbelievable when you face off against Rocket Richard. His eyes looked at you like a tiger.”

After retiring from hockey, he became a band councillor on his home reserve, and later chief for six years. He has also been extensively involved in the development of sports programs for aboriginal children. In 2002, he was honoured by the Blackhawks organization.

Adam Rogowin, the Chicago Blackhawks senior executive director for communications, says that they’re proud to call Fred a member of the Chicago Blackhawks alumni group.

“He’s another example of a former Blackhawks player that has made so many positive contributions both on-and-off the ice.”

Sasakamoose is so well respected, even the ‘great one,’ Wayne Gretzky talked about him in his book ‘99’ on how Sasakamoose has influenced hockey. Sasakamoose was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in the builder’s category. He was also a founding member of the Northern Indian Hockey League.

Today, he still lives a healthy life, walking an hour each morning and doing his weightlifting. He says he loves life, and if there were a movie made of his story, he’d like money made to go to the health of his community for causes like drug addiction and HIV prevention centres.

First Native Owned Winery a Success

by Frank Larue

Osoyoos First Nations Chief Clarence Louie has proved to be a visionary when it comes to business. The Osoyoos First Nations has built a spa and resort, rented out land to wineries, and made the first native owned winery in Canada and the United States. All projects have been successful. The Osoyoos First Nation have become financially secure, and they are always open to new challenges. No one is surprised that the resort has done so well, but many are surprised that the winery has prospered since it opened 15 years ago.

The Nk’Mip Cellars has been given multiple awards since its inception, including Best Winery awards for their Icewine and Pinot Blanc. They are now one of the main wineries in Canada, and it all started by partnering up with Vincor.

Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars Winery

Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars Winery

“We already had 300-acres of very high quality grapes, and they thought it was in our best interest to come together and make a winery,” assistant winemaker and band member Justin Hall told the CBC. “The idea was to utilize our high quality grapes and actually make wine out of them instead of selling grapes to so many people, and them all profiting from it. Why not profit from it ourselves?”

Vincor was bought out by Constellation Brands, who continued handling the corporate such as the marketing and distribution. The OIB are visited by their corporate partner twice a year to inform them of their strategies, and to discuss what new wines they are projecting for the future. “Our mandate for the winery is to produce wine off native soil,” Randy Picton told the CBC. “The band has over 1,000 acres in production, and we have about five or six different vineyards that we source grapes from. We get our cooler climate varietals from vineyards situated more northerly in the valley, and our Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc all come from the 350-acre vineyard in Oliver, which is owned and managed by OIB.”

Picton has encouraged band members to become familiar with the process of wine making, and he has recruited band members to work for Nk’Mip. Picton wants the winery to be cultural to the Osoyoos First Nation, insisting that the selection of names for their wines is influenced by their own culture. This includes their lively white wine ‘Dreamcatcher’, and their smoky red wine – named after the mythical Thunderbird – ‘Talon’.

“You never stop learning” says Picton, speaking on the wineries everyday challenges. “The different thing, from a winemaking perspective, is that you only get one shot every year. You have to wait until the next year to make changes to your program. Over the years, we’ve become more familiar with our blocks of grapes, and we have a very good understanding of the winery.”

The Osoyoos First Nations, led by their entrepreneurial Chief Clarence Louie, have successfully taken native business in a different direction. The only concern now is to maintain a level of consistency, which I am sure the OIB will handle with the pragmatism and caution they’ve carried in all of their enterprises. First Nations entrepreneurships have grown more in the last 10 years than they have in the last 100 years, and it is native leaders such as Clarence Louie that have been the difference.

Indigenous Women Join The March

By Lee Waters

Hundreds of thousands of women turned Washington’s National Mall into a sea of pink on Saturday, sending the first grassroots message of opposition to Donald Trump since he moved into the White House.

“Minority president”, “Women roar” and “I’m afraid” were among the signs waved by a crowd which was made up mostly of women but also comprised some men and which far exceeded turnout for Friday’s inauguration. Many wore pink handknit “pussy hats” – a rebuke to the billionaire businessman once caught on tape bragging about his ability to “grab” women “by the pussy”. Organisers estimated that more than a million people attended.

Also joining the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on Saturday — and identifiable by turquoise silk scarves — was a collective of native groups coming together to support human rights and advance indigenous issues. Women who participated in what they called the Indigenous Women Rise: Women’s March on Washington were gifted a limited-edition “Women Warrior” scarf by L.A. designer Bethany Yellowtail. The silk scarf was a creative collaboration between Yellowtail and artist John Isaiah Pepion. The scarf harkens to the traditional women’s war bonnet dance — in Crow culture called the “Shoshone War Bonnet Dance.” The dance is part of a larger ceremony that celebrates young leaders from indigenous nations.

In sister protests across Canada, indigenous women also joined the march. “Canadians are a part of this because we’re aware that what goes on in the U.S. does have an impact here,” said Tasha Donnelly, who’s with the Canadian delegation’s organizing committee. She points to the rhetoric that trickled over Canada’s borders since Trump was elected. “For a lot of people it meant sexism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment were not considered a deal-breaker for people. That attitude is what we’re worried about in Canada.” Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, for example, tweeted enthusiastic support for Trump’s victory, hoping it might be something that could be emulated here. “That worries us. We want to say this will not do in Canada, we will not permit that kind of divisiveness and disrespect to our voters.”

Canadians are also concerned about the message Trump sends their kids, Donnelly said, and they’re marching to protect rights we often take for granted in Canada, including reproductive freedoms. They’ll also highlight the rights and struggles of indigenous, black and Muslim people here.

While some felt the protest was primarily in reaction to the Trump presidency, others were fighting for a more global cause, especially focused on the racism against marginalised and Native women, who have historically been left out of the feminist movement. “If you go to Washington just to protest Donald Trump, you’ve missed the mark,” national co-chair Tamika Mallory said in a recent Facebook Live interview with Essence magazine. “He is a symptom of a disease that already existed. He’s just going to give new voice to white supremacy, the racism, the sexism, the misogyny, all the stuff that was already there.” As such, the march is about much more than equal pay and reproductive rights for women — it’s meant to draw attention to institutional sexism and racism against women particularly women of colour as well as LGBTQ rights and the rights of immigrants and lower-income people.

Taking action towards cultural safety in healthcare for Indigenous people in British Columbia

By Margo Greenwood, Hilary McGregor and Julia Petrasek MacDonald

In British Columbia, Northern Health is taking up the challenge of building cultural safety for Indigenous people both within the structures and systems of the organization and at the front lines of health care delivery. This is occurring within the context of a changing landscape of First Nations health governance in the province that is initiating New Relationships. This article discusses how Northern Health is taking steps towards cultural safety and provides concrete examples.

Health Service Delivery in Northern British Columbia
The landscape of northern British Columbia (BC) is vast and diverse with a relatively sparse population. It covers approximately two-thirds of the province and is home to about 300,000 people. Approximately 18% of the population is Indigenous.

Health services in BC are funded through the Ministry of Health and delivered through five regional health authorities. Unique in the province is the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the first Indigenous-led health authority in Canada. In 2013 FNHA assumed responsibility for the health programs and services previously administered by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. This historic transfer marked a New Relationship between First Nations, the province of British Columbia, and the Canadian government. Northern First Nations, the FNHA, and NH are working together to implement the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan with goals and actions to support improved First Nations peoples’ health and wellness.

Repositioning Northern Health to Build a Culturally Safe Health System for Indigenous People
Cultural safety occurs when an individual feels affirmed and respected, is able to maintain dignity, and is safe from racism and discrimination. Health care service providers—and the organizations that support them—must reflect upon, understand, and if necessary, change any routine processes, habits, or behaviours that create unsafe healthcare experiences. Realizing concepts like cultural safety require different types of initiatives, activities, and processes. Following are examples of how Northern Health has made system changes to be more culturally safe.

In 2013, the CEO and Board of NH created a Vice President of Aboriginal Health position – the first executive-level position in Aboriginal Health in the country and a significant structural change that supports incorporation of Indigenous perspectives and priorities throughout organizational structures.

In July 2015, Northern Health, along with the BC Ministry of Health, FNHA and the remaining regional health authorities, signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility, providing a mandate to advance cultural humility and safety in their practices with Indigenous people in BC. Furthermore, all new leadership job descriptions include a commitment and responsibility to the goals and intent of the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan.

Building cultural safety at the front-lines of health service delivery
Northern Health (NH) is committed to advancing cultural humility and safety, especially at the front-lines of health service delivery. The Aboriginal Health (AH) team supports NH employees to learn about Indigenous peoples’ histories and current realities and provides a multitude of resources for employees. For example one fact sheet provides information on how to support continuous care as First Nations patients transition from acute care settings to their homes in First Nations communities.
In addition, NH funds seats for employees in a provincially-developed online Indigenous cultural safety training course. This course provides an important introduction to colonial histories in Canada along with opportunities to critically reflect on one’s own biases and assumptions about Indigenous people. The goal is for all employees to take the course.
Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (AHICs) are an example of NH’s commitment to strengthen and enhance relationships with Indigenous people in northern BC. AHICs bring together local NH leaders, members of Indigenous organizations and communities, and representatives from the FNHA, to collaboratively address local health priorities. To date, the work of AHICs has included patient journey and process map activities to identify and address gaps and opportunities in health care service delivery. They have also developed over 30 local cultural resources to support increased cultural learning within the health system by informing health care providers about local Indigenous community protocols, histories, experiences and needs.

The examples described in this article represent only a small glimpse into the ongoing work by Northern Health and the Aboriginal Health team in collaboration with Indigenous communities, to build a culturally safe health system for Indigenous people in northern BC. These initiatives are helping one regional health authority take meaningful action on its commitment to improve the way health care services are delivered to Indigenous people. Northern Health recognizes that meaningful transformation in the face-to-face, on-the-ground interactions between Indigenous clients and health service providers requires an organizational commitment to cultural safety at all levels.

šxʷʔam̓ət (Home) – New Theatre Production will look at Reconciliation

by Kelly Many Guns

Since 1981, Theatre for the Living has been helping communities tell their stories through the expression of theatre. This year, director David Diamond and associate director Renae Morriseau will present šxʷʔam̓ət (Home) on March 3rd through to the 11th at the Firehall Arts Centre. It is hoped that audiences will find Home provocative and entertaining. This production is created and performed by an Indigenous and non-indigenous cast, and asks us to imagine what reconciliation really means.



I spoke with Diamond and asked him about Home.

“The play grows out of an organic process, and this is how Theatre for the Living works,” Diamond said. “The play will develop struggles, and it will try and try and answer what reconciliation means. I’ve been doing this work for a long time, and people’s perception of the world around us changes.”

If you want innovative theatre that is engaging and challenges your perceptions, than checking out Home would be it.

Theatre for the Living has a 36 year, multi-award winning history of creating cutting edge, interactive theatre that challenges perceptions and creates social change. With 11 performances slated, Home will weave stories based on real-life, and challenge the audience to make reconciliation real and honourable. When referring to reconciliation, Morriseau says that the deeper understanding we have, the better.

“The production sounds like it’s going to be heavy, but it will be a lot of fun and very interactive, only the subject is not.”

The title of the production, šxʷʔam̓ət (Home), is based on an hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (a local Indigenous dialect) word used to reference home. This word has so many different meanings to all of us who are living on this land.

The Theatre for the Living says there’s a conversation happening in Canada about reconciliation, and how it is manifesting action in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across this country. The City of Vancouver has officially declared that Vancouver sits on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. But what do these initiatives really mean? If we are sincere about the desire for reconciliation, what kinds of shifts in perceptions and behaviours need to take place? What is the pulse of change each of us are shaping? How do we break down the walls of colonization that surround us all? Is Reconciliation possible without respecting promises and guarantees made regarding Indigenous consent for projects on Indigenous land?

In šxʷʔam̓ət (home), the production will invite audiences to change the patterns of behaviour inside characters who are struggling with these issues – patterns that audience members may recognize inside themselves – and rehearse true reconciliation.

The cast will consist of seven original actors of Inuk, Cree, Okanagan, Ho-Cak, Snaw-Naw-As, and a range of diverse performers.

Diamond is the recipient of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre in NY (2010), as well as the Mayor’s Arts Award for Community Engaged Art (2012). Morriseau is Cree and Saulteaux, and she is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She works across Canada and the US in theatre, film, television and music. Among numerous honours, Renae was the recipient of the 2015 Mayor’s Arts Award for her work to cultivate social justice and inclusiveness through theatre and music.


At Camosun College, the Eye? Sq’lewen Centre for Indige­nous Education & Community Connections believes fully in the val­ue of wholistic education. Students are not just there to take classes and complete assignments; a good edu­cation includes strengthening and upholding one’s own mind, heart, body and spirit. Most of the time, the Eye? Sq’lewen Centre focusses on students at Camosun and the lo­cal communities we serve. Once ev­ery few years, however, we turn our focus to the Indigenous education world at large, and open our doors to other educators. This is the spirit of the upcoming S’TENISTOLW Adult Indigenous Education Conference, which will be held on Lkwungen and WSÁNEC territories, in Victoria, BC, from August 23-25, 2017.


S’TENISTOLW is a SENCOTEN term referencing the concept of ‘moving for­ward’. This conference will focus on both the “doing” and “being” of Indigenous education. “Doing” involves teaching methods and the day-to-day practices of Indigenous educators in classrooms. The themes around “doing” for this confer­ence are Land and Community-Based Experiential Learning, as well as Sup­porting Learner Engagement. “Being” involves relationships and connections between educators, communities, stu­dents, cultures and lands. The confer­ence themes for “being” are Practicing Indigenization and Strengthening Alli­ances.

Adult Indigenous educators, allied educators, scholars, students, Elders and other knowledge keepers from across Turtle Island and beyond are invited to join us. Together we will spend one day at the Songhees Wellness Centre for the cultural pre-conference, in partnership with the local Songhees Nation. Activi­ties will include a community tour, ca­noeing, introduction to the language, plant identification and a sweatlodge ceremony. We will complete day one with a welcome dinner with Keynote Dr. Gregory Cajete, a Tewa educator and au­thor.

Conference sessions will begin on the second day at the Lansdowne campus of Camosun

College. In addition to Dr. Gregory Ca­jete, we are excited to have Indigenous relations from afar join us as keynote speakers. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a Maori educator and author, and her husband Graham Hingangaroa Smith, also a Mao­ri educator and Indigenous education advocate will travel from New Zealand to speak.

Get to know the breathtakingly beautiful lands of the Lkwungen and WSÁNEC peoples. Make new connec­tions with Indigenous educators, schol­ars, students and Elders from across the world. Join us in an experience designed to enrich Indigenous adult educators, and uphold Indigenous education as a wholistic practice at S’TENISTOLW 2017.

Early bird registration for confer­ence attendees is open until February 28, 2017. Regular registration is open un­til June 30, 2017. We also invite people and organizations to submit proposals for workshops and panel discussion that fit into our themes.

Proposals are due on January 31, 2017 at 5pm PST.

Please visit for regis­tration, proposal submission, and more information on the conference.