Posts By: Nadine Spence and Savannah Walling

Honouring our Grandmothers Healing Journey 2022

2022 has been an exceptional year of destructive wildfires in BC’s interior, of urban fires in Single Room Occupancy hotels (by accident and by arson) in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and intergenerational impacts of historical “mega-fires”: colonization, cultural genocide,  pandemics.   Our peoples are experiencing fires that burn too fiercely, too swiftly and too big, damaging individual homes, communities, landscapes, and habitats

It’s easy to light a match, let it burn and then present fire as negative. Yet let’s remember that fire has been used by Indigenous cultures for thousands of years in ceremony and land management. Culturally managed, low intensity land fires cleared away debris, restored habitat and vegetation and made for safer communities. Cultural burning practices have been passed down from generation to generation in a process guided by Elders and knowledge-keepers.

In this second year of Honouring Our Grandmothers Healing Journey, partners are centering on keeping the fires burning: fires that burn in ourselves and in the hearts of our communities to inspire growth and renewal.

Honouring Our Grandmothers Healing Journey originated from the Interior Salish Matriarchs and peoples of Nlaka’pamux and Secwépemc.  We’re people who’ve lived with fire since time immemorial with traditional firekeepers who maintained the lands with fire for protection, warmth, and health with the natural cycle of all things.  We were taught very young to respect fire through traditional teachings passed down from generations of Indigenous tribes, and Grandmothers whose spirits guide and protect us to this day.”

 —Nadine Spence

Honouring Our Grandmothers Healing Journey is a multi-year (2021-2026), multi-community, multi-generational movement connecting communities of Interior Salish and Coast Salish peoples with neighbouring nations connected to the Fraser and Thompson rivers, mountains, and salmon.  Through arts and ceremony, Honouring Our Grandmothers brings together family and residents who work to restore relationships between generations and communities.  This fall’s journey is produced by Further We Rise Indigenous Arts Collective/Sacred Rock in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre/Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival, along with Massy Arts Society, VALU CO-OP Community Projects and Love Intersections, and Carnegie Centre/Oppenheimer Park. 

“We’re acknowledging Grandmothers who traveled to the Downtown Eastside, Grandmas who’ve passed on and Grandmas who are with us now.  We’re honouring their lived experiences, stories and legacies left for us to discover and share.  Destroyed connections to grandmothers have torn apart families.  Many don’t know the stories of entire generations before.” – Nadine Spence

During the 19th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival (Oct. 26-Nov. 6, 2022), two weeks of art, ceremony, teachings, and storytelling will honour lived experiences and legacies of grandmothers past and present.

At the heart of the journey are histories told through visual art on travelling chests that visit different communities and collect messages.  Artwork on a community Elements message chest is created by artists of different nationalities with historical relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Nadine Spence’s painted cedar chest honours her Nlaka’pamux and Secwépemc grandmothers who lived and died in the Downtown Eastside. Nadine’s chest is the first of 13 bentwood cedar chests that will be adorned and presented over the multi-year healing journey. Ed Archie Noisecat and Mike Alexander are other contributing chest artists.

This year’s residency includes Inherent Responsibility, a cultural protocol talk with guests including David Ng and Jen Sungshine. An arriving ceremony for the community Elements chest takes place on the land in Oppenheimer Park.  All are invited to contribute messages for their Grandmothers, families, lands and waters:  to help celebrate, bring closure, and guide spirits home to lay to rest in ceremony at journey’s end.

A collaboratively designed window display, inspired by the community Elements message chest, will be installed in Chinatown, with artwork by visual artists Odera Igbokwe with Lydia Brown, and poetry by Stephen Lytton, Savannah Walling, and Rita Wong.

There are many generations of healing backward and forward for all who carry pain due to genocide, race, gender, and spiritualityWe all need fire, water, air, and earth to live; these common elements unite us always.” – Nadine Spence

Other Indigenous-centered events of renewal and growth at this year’s festival include:

  • A reading of Hung Up by emerging Cree playwright Tyson Night;
  • Hearts Beat 2022, exploring Irish and Indigenous traditions of drumming and song with lexwst’í:lem drum group;
  • Always in Our Hearts, a dance film choreographed by Indigenous dance artists Sophie Dow and Olivia C. Davies that honours women whose lives have been lost to violence (O.Dela Arts);
  • 8th Symposium of Reconciliation and Redress in the Arts: Stories Have Always Been Our Governance, a national dialogue co-produced with the National Urban Indigenous Coalition

Lori Malépart-Traversy’s Magical Caresses series available across Canada on as of October 17

October 17, 2022 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The Magical Caresses animated documentary series by Lori Malépart-Traversy, produced by the NFB, will be available free of charge across Canada on starting October 17. Consisting of five animated shorts that take a playful and uninhibited look at solo sexuality, the series has screened to acclaim on the national and international festival circuit.


“The topic of women and masturbation remains taboo in our society, so we’ve tried to demystify it in a way that’s healthy, uninhibited and funny. This series and Lori’s approach fully embody the values we seek at the French Program Animation Studio: namely, auteur films with a strong, personal visual look and a distinctive narrative style.” – Christine Noël, Executive Producer, NFB French Program Animation Studio

Awards and festival selections

  • Fonds Bell prize at the 2022 Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FCIAT).
  • Award for Best Educational Film at the 2022 Sommets du cinéma d’animation in Montreal (Masturbation: A Short History of a Great Taboo).
  • Selected to screen in competition at the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival (Sweet Jesus).
  • Selected to screen in competition at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (Masturbation: A Short History of a Great Taboo).
  • Selected at the Animator International Animation Festival in Poznan, Poland (Turquoise Fish).

Quick Facts

Magical Caresses by Lori Malépart-Traversy (5 × 4 min)
Produced by Julie Roy and Christine Noël for the NFB’s French Program Animation Studio
Press kit:

A skillful blend of humour and confession, these five shorts provide a range of female perspectives to demystify masturbation. The films’ source material is adapted from intimate accounts published in the Caresses magiques book series written and edited by Sarah Gagnon-Piché and Sara Hébert.

The short films

  • Masturbation: A Short History of a Great Taboo
    This animated short looks back at the surprising story of our relationship with masturbation—and its repression—from prehistory to today.
  • Turquoise Fish
    In this candid and introspective short film, a young woman recalls a kooky ritual involving masturbation that she’d invented as a child.
  • Big Bang
    This animated short film recounts a 23-year-old woman’s quest to achieve her first orgasm. Along the way, it takes a sensitive and humorous look at the little-known phenomenon of vaginismus.
  • Sweet Jesus
    What happens when masturbation has its “come to Jesus” moment? This animated short takes a light and humorous approach to examining religion’s moral taboos around the female body and desires.
  • Playhouse
    How does porn fuel sexual fantasies? This animated short with a magic touch relates one woman’s confessions about her favourite erotic scenarios.

About the filmmaker

Born in Montreal in 1991, animation filmmaker Lori Malépart-Traversy studied visual arts and animation at Concordia University. Her graduation film, Le clitoris, was an international hit both on the festival circuit and online. With Magical Caresses, she continues her exploration of the wide-ranging topic of female sexuality.

Meet the First Nations team behind Futurpreneur’s Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program

When Futurpreneur launched its tailored programming to support budding Indigenous entrepreneurs, their vision was to streamline the startup process, address community-specific challenges and help break down barriers that prevent Indigenous youth from starting their own businesses. 

Nearly three years since its establishment, this vision has been realised with more than 100 entrepreneurs enrolled in the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) across Canada. The program is curated and led by a team of ambitious entrepreneurial-minded 

Indigenous professionals with lived experience and a genuine passion for 

empowering others reach their full potential.

Under the direction of a Cree Saulteaux woman, Holly Atjecoutay, and supported by a group of business development managers –  Jason McDonald, Melissa Gladue, and Noah Wilson – the team works closely with the entrepreneurs to help them navigate the startup journey. 

Jason McDonald – a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory where he also currently resides – spent most of his professional career assisting Indigenous people with disabilities, helping them secure employment or pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Today, he is a business development manager with  IESP, where he continues to employ his skills working with budding entrepreneurs.

Commenting on what entrepreneurship means to him, Jason explained the entrepreneurial spirit has always been an integral part of Indigenous community life and that he’s grateful to Futurpreneur for continuing this tradition. “Our culture will show entrepreneurship is not new to Indigenous people,” Jason said, “I am proud to say my grandmother was Mary Adams from Akwesasne. She was a world renowned basket-maker. Her baskets are sitting in the Smithsonian institute, the Vatican, in the New York State Governor’s office to name a few places.” 

Noah Wilson

Jason is also the treasurer of the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department. In his free time, he enjoys camping or watching motorsports. In 2019 and 2022, he volunteered for the Montreal Formula 1 Grand Prix as a firefighter.

Melissa Gladue is nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Cree woman) and a proud member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in

northern Alberta. Her mother is of Métis heritage and her father Plains Cree. Melissa was raised

in a small rural farming community in northern Alberta; brought up with the traditional knowledge

and lived-experience of the local Cree people.  

Outside of her volunteer activity Melissa likes to spend a lot of time travelling in Alberta by

exploring new lakes for kayaking, fishing, and finding new hiking trails. A fun fact, Melissa is also a plant mom to over 200 tropical house plants; a love she feels is inherently Indigenous.  

To Melissa, Indigenous entrepreneurship is a mutually beneficial relationship between community and the environment. “Understanding and respecting the importance of how both can affect each other and how being environmentally responsible is taking care of my community and being community orientated means taking care of the land we call home for my generation and the generations to come,” she said. 

When joining Futurpreneur, Melissa was most excited to play a first-hand role in bridging the gap of economic resiliency within the Indigenous population, specifically among the youth. Reflecting on what changes she would like to see being made to empower the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs, she said the introduction of “economic education to youth.”

“Our youth are our future we need to target them at an early age and teach them about the importance of finances so that when they are ready to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours, they are not being discouraged about how tedious the process is and how difficult it can be to rebuild credit to meet lenders’ requirements for capital,” Melissa said. 

“I believe in the importance of lived experience; especially when talking about my Indigenous

Culture. I am second generation removed from the residential school, but I was blessed to have

still been raised in the traditional cultural ways of my people. Having qualifications and

education is great; but nothing replaces lived experience. First-hand knowledge and

experience is what will equip you and give you the necessary means to be successful in a role,” Melissa said. 

She added, “It is through my lived experience I can relate and empathise with others, and it is through my career and educational experience that I can walk dual worlds working in tandem for the betterment of my people.”

Noah Wilson, a Cree man with French/Ukrainian heritage on his mother’s side of the family, is also a community member of Peguis First Nation which is the largest Treaty 1(1871) community located in the province of Manitoba.

Commenting on what continues to fuel passion for supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, Noah explained that “two of the biggest barriers facing Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island is access to capital and the lack of access to mentorship and peer groups that help in growing their business.”

Through his role at Futurpreneur, Noah is working directly to resolve these issues and equip entrepreneurs with the skills and tools they need to succeed.

He added, “The most exciting part of my role is being able to work solely with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Entrepreneurs and Potential Entrepreneurs to smash through these barriers with our financing and mentorship program by helping them build their business plans and connecting them with the larger Indigenous business development ecosystem. It is exciting to be able to help build an Indigenous business community with every Indigenous entrepreneur who goes through our program as well as watching their business grow as they get off the ground and the countless accolades our Indigenous entrepreneurs receive as they inspire the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about IESP and register for upcoming webinars and events, visit our website:

Under The Northern Sky ‘Whispers In The Wind’

 National Indigenous Peoples Day which takes place on June 21 and the wider National Indigenous History Month in June is a significant time for Indigenous people in Canada.

 This special day was established in 1996 by the Canadian government as a symbolic national holiday to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. In 2009, the House of Commons also passed a motion to designate June as National Indigenous History Month to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Before this special holiday and month were recognized, Indigenous people were more or less seen as insignificant communities that occupied the fringes of society and did not require any special status or recognition. It was far worse in my parents and grandparents time when they were basically looked upon as a forgotten people and savages that did not really exist in any meaningful way.

There is a great amount of Indigenous history in this country that has to be acknowledged. If it weren’t for Indigenous leaders fighting to protect their homelands, so much of the northern wilderness would have been changed and destroyed by mining, forestry and hydro developments without any regard for the protection of the environment, ecology or even the people that lived on these lands. If First Nation leaders had not spoken up, the terrible history that my parents and others had to live through would all have been forgotten. There would have been no sense of justice or acknowledgement for the suffering my people had to endure for the simple fact that we happened to be a different culture than the one that colonized this country.

This year’s events are saddened for myself personally and the people of my home community of Attawapiskat. In rapid succession within a month, we lost three prominent Elders including my aunt Martha Paulmartin and Elders Anna and Dominic Nakogee. These are individuals that grew up in a very traditional lifestyle on the land and who were raised by parents and Elders who only knew an old and ancient way of life on the James Bay coast. These Elders fluently spoke the James Bay Cree dialect and they knew so much of the history, traditions and customs of our people. I am comforted and reassured in the fact that they all raised a prominent group of sons and daughters that all carry their language and the histories of their families.

The great legacy that these Elders leave behind is in their humble nature and their never ending sense of kindness, warmth and strength. Even after having endured periods in their youth of difficulty, discrimination and poverty, they still shared a sense of joy and happiness with others. Whenever I met these Elders, they were always happy to share a bit of history of our families, to speak our language and to make anyone and everyone laugh with the fun stories they shared. Through laughter and fun, they made every bit of knowledge a memorable experience.

Their passing reminds me how we should all remember their example of love and inclusion in the face of adversity. Even as the world changed in so many ways, Elders Martha, Anna and Dominic were always there to remind those around them to stay close to the land, to remember one another and to live life as harmoniously as possible. Their example remind me to always remember my past, to remember where I come from but also to stay strong and resilient to fight for future generations.

 We all share the historic benefits and burdens of this country and the recognition of Indigenous peoples history is just a step in the right direction of that shared past. I feel that this national holiday is a way for us to move out of the darkness of the past and walk together into a brighter future as a more inclusive nation of what we call Canada. Whether we know it or not, we all rely on one another to build this country while at the same time hearing the voices of our ancestors whispering in the wind to protect the land, the water and the very air we breathe.

That spirit of cooperation and the memory of my Elders and my ancestors is what this holiday and this history means to me.

Secretary Haaland Launches New Indian Youth Service Corps Program

ALBUQUERQUE — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today joined Tribal leaders, community partners and Indigenous youth to celebrate the launch of the Indian Youth Service Corps (IYSC) and unveil the program’s guidelines. The IYSC is a new partnership-based program that will provide meaningful education, employment and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on public and Indian lands, and Hawaiian homelands – putting young people on a path to good-paying jobs while working to tackle the climate crisis.

Building on the decade-long success of the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, the IYSC will provide opportunities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives to support the conservation and protection of natural and cultural resources through construction, restoration or rehabilitation of natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational or scenic resources. Participants will receive a mix of work experience, basic and life skills, education, training and mentoring.

“Indigenous people have a strong and abiding connection to the Earth – increasing their access to nature early and often will help lift up the next generation of stewards for this Earth,” said Secretary Haaland. “In addition to completing much-need conservation projects that will enhance landscapes and ecosystems on Tribal and public lands, the Indian Youth Service Corps will have considerable focus on vocational skills training, economic empowerment and career development for Indigenous youth.”

Authorized in 2019 by the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the John S. McCain III 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act amended and expanded the Public Lands Corps Act to establish the IYSC.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) today announced a new commitment to fund $1 million in IYSC projects, in addition to its ongoing support of Tribal youth service corps projects. NPF is currently funding more than 10 projects from Maine to New Mexico that engage Tribal youth in a wide range of conservation and preservation activities, providing invaluable skills development, personal and professional mentoring and career preparation. Projects also protect Indigenous cultural practices, languages and traditional ecological knowledge used for land management practices.

“The imprint of Tribal history and culture is visible across our national park landscapes,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “Supporting the Indian Youth Service Corps engages and connects Tribal youth to the care and preservation of sacred places across the nation’s public lands.”

Tribal leaders, community partners and several current and former Indigenous members of the Conservation Legacy Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps joined a virtual roundtable with Secretary Haaland and Shafroth to share their experiences in conservation.

The IYSC guidelines provide a framework for Tribal and partner organizations’ participation in the program. Goals of the program include creating awareness of Indigenous culture and history, and conserving and protecting their landscapes, stories and shared experiences for current and future generations. The program guidelines were established in consultation with Indian Tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other stakeholders. They authorize the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce to implement the new program.

IYSC activities can include research projects, oral histories, habitat surveys, climate mitigation, trail restoration, invasive species removal, fire fuels reduction, watershed restoration, recreational expansion and the development of educational, informational or communication materials for the public.

The projects will promote Indian self-determination and economic development and can take place on Tribal lands, or on federal lands where Tribes have ancestral connections. All projects on Indian lands will be designed and managed in a collaborative fashion, including consultation with the Tribal government prior to the start of any project.

The Interior Department is committed to strengthening Tribal sovereignty and governance, fulfilling the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities, and engaging in robust consultation with Tribal Nations. This year, the Department is providing $2 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, $700,000 to the National Park Service and $600,000 to the Bureau of Reclamation to establish the IYSC.

Chiefs to Meet with Banks and Investors to Attract Capital to Indigenous Energy Projects

TORONTO, ON   The Indian Resource Council, an organization representing over 130 First Nations who produce or have a direct interest in the oil and gas industry, is leading a delegation of Chiefs to Toronto on June 9, 2022 to meet with the investment community. Their objective is to attract capital for Indigenous energy projects and ensure First Nations have equity opportunities going forward.

“There is an idea in some corners of Canada that First Nations are opposed to oil and gas development. In fact, what we want is to be partners and owners in energy projects, and benefit from the development of resources from our territories,” said Chief Roy Fox, chair of the IRC Board. “For that to happen, we need the investment community to be willing partners.”

Ensuring that ESG (environmental social and governance) funds value Indigenous participation is key to ensuring that First Nations can access capital that has long been denied their communities.  “ESG metrics have been focused almost exclusively on GHG emissions. It’s time to give Indigenous participation in projects more weight, if the financial community is truly committed to reconciliation,” said Chief Billy Morin. “There is an opportunity for everyone to win here.”

Conventional and oilsands production have allowed hundreds of Indigenous businesses to prosper and grow. Meanwhile, pipelines, LNG terminals, power generation, hydrogen and carbon capture projects have all provided major opportunities for Indigenous equity positions in the past three years.

“The movement to divest from the fossil fuels is actively harming our economic prospects,” said Stephen Buffalo, President of IRC. “First Nations have solutions for protecting the environment while ensuring we can provide affordable energy to a world that needs it. Instead of abandoning our industry to others with lower ethical and environmental standards, the investment community can work with First Nations to make sure Canadian oil and gas can get to global markets.”

Members of the delegation include Chief Roy Fox (Kanai Nation/ Blood Tribe), Chief Greg Desjarlais (Frog Lake First Nation), Chief Billy Morin (Enoch Cree Nation), and Stephen Buffalo (CEO & President, Indian Resource Council).

In addition to meetings with the chartered banks and major investment firms, the delegation will participate in a panel at the Albany Club to share their message.


OTTAWA – Today, Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) honours and commemorates Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ (MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+) people who are missing, those who have been murdered, survivors and their families, wherever they live.  On this first anniversary of the release of the MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan (NAP), the 2022 Progress Report has been released.

On June 3, 2021, a NAP was released as a response to the Calls for Justice within the MMIWG Final Report.  The NAP was co-developed with a core working group that included the National Family and Survivors Circle, input from the First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and the Urban Sub-working Group, comprised of survivors, family members, front line service providers and experts with lived experience.  TI participated and contributed to both the Inuit group and within the Urban MMIWG final report group.  The core working group ceased to operate following the release of the National Action Plan however, all members have continued to work towards the 2022 Progress Report.   

The 2022 Progress Report highlights progress made over the last year since the release of the NAP.  It provides insights on steps that have been taken and the urgent action that is needed next on the path to transformational change to end systemic racism and violence against Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, wherever they live.  One of the most significant points is the demonstration of how much work remains to be done.

Since June 3, 2021, there has been very little progress made on commitments by any of the governments. With the release of the progress report, we remind the governments that violence against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is a national crisis.  Urgent action is needed now to prevent gender and race-based violence everywhere in Canada.

Vanessa Brousseau is an advocate for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and has been personally affected by this tragedy. Her sister went missing on December 14th of 2003 and remains missing to this day. Vanessa shared, “As much as I appreciate the steps that have been made within our own organizations, it is not even close enough to what needs to be done to end the Genocide of Indigenous peoples. The Federal Government must take accountability for their role and enforce the 231 Calls for Justice. My missing sister’s children along with thousands of other children are not only going without their mother, but without any support their entire lives. They deserve better and we will continue to fight for better.” 

TI remains focused on providing programs and services to support Inuit Women and Girls who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and face threats to their personal well-being.  First Nations, Inuit, Métis and 2SLGTBQQIA+ people, as well all levels of government must continue to work in collaboration to implement all recommendations.

Collectively, it is our responsibility to ensure that Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ are safe and protected every day in every way. We envision a transformed Canada where Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, wherever they are, live free from violence, and are celebrated, honoured, respected, valued, and treated equitably.

Media Advisory

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) is holding its Spring 2022 Métis Nation Legislative Assembly (MNLA) this weekend in Saskatoon.

As the governing body for the Métis Nation government in Saskatchewan, delegates to the MNLA will engage in two-days of discussion and debate government business and policies as they pertain to all Métis citizens in the province.

Delegates to the MNLA will gather at Prairieland Park June 4 and 5, 2022. The proceedings will be live streamed on the MN–S website here.

MN–S President Glen McCallum will deliver the State of the Nation address after the Grand Entry and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief Aly Bear will bring greetings to the delegates. Métis National Council (MNC)

President Cassidy Caron and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark will be in attendance later in the day.

Members of your media organization are invited to attend the official opening of the Spring 2022 MNLA.

WHAT: Spring MNLA opening
WHEN: Saturday, June 4, 2022 – 9:00 am
WHERE: Prairieland Park – Hall C 503 Ruth Street West Saskatoon, SK

A short break will follow the official opening and MN–S President Glen McCallum will be available for interviews.


June 3, 2022

OTTAWA – Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) congratulates PremierDoug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party on a successful campaign victory in the Ontario provincial election. 

TI is optimistic the Progressive Conservative party is committed to addressing serious issues such as homelessness and housing, low-income individuals and families, healthcare and childcare, all issues that affect the urban Inuit population will remain a priority.  However, we are disappointed with the lack of specific commitments to the urban Inuit population or in fact, the Indigenous population at large. 

It is disheartening to see any serious conversations or acknowledgment related to Indigenous issues in Ontario from any of the political parties.  There was optimism as Canada and the provinces created and supported a pathway to true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the creation of a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.  We are concerned with the absence of commitment related to Indigenous-specific issues that are critical in creating safe and equitable access to programs and support. 

With this newly elected government, TI remains optimistic that through our existing relationships with the Ontario Progressive Conservative Partythat the growing population of urban Inuit will be supported and provided opportunity to thrive in urban Ontario.  Ontario continues to experience a boom in the number of Inuit relocating to the province and the needs of TI to provide Inuit-specific programming are seeing the highest demand in our 35-year history. 

TI continues to deliver Inuit-specific programming that will provide the greatest benefit to the urban Inuit community in the areas of food security, violence against women, housing and homelessness, human trafficking, employment, and family well-being.

We look forward to working with the Progressive Conservative Party and building towards a strong future for the growing population of urban Inuit in Ontario. 


by Xavier Kataquapit 

Many families along the James Bay coast are headed out onto their ancestral lands during this time of year. It is our most important season as so many events coincide that make it a perfect time to hunt and gather food. Even though it is still winter weather, temperatures moderate at around zero degrees which makes it more hospitable and manageable. This is also the time of the Niska, the Canada Goose migration where millions of these birds fly north for their summer nesting season. 

    Several of my family members make the journey to cross a small strait at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River over to Akamiski Island, the largest island in James Bay. The name of the island is a Cree word that means ‘land on the other side’. It is an area that has been visited by my people for generations and many families from my home community consider this island their traditional land. 

    My brother Joseph, his wife Lynda and their sons Orion and Landyn recently made the trip to gather food for themselves for the spring hunt. I was happy to see him and his family make that hunt in the same way our father Marius Kataquapit had done for us when we were young. My other brother Lawrence and his wife Christine also braved the challenges of travelling to the island in the very early spring. They enjoyed the rejuvenating aspect of being out on the land in the midst of real Canadian wilderness. 

    My brothers have established a well built camp on the southern shore of Akamiski close to many areas where dad had once trapped for animals to feed and sustain our family. Many years ago when I visited this family camp with my parents I recall that dad always enjoyed sitting on the high gravel bank of the south shore to admire the vast grey ocean water of James Bay. He reminded us about the many times he had walked along this same shore alone with just a toboggan or a small team of dogs to make this way to his camp or head back to the community. He said it fascinated him to think that he had been there when it was freezing, challenging and he was lonely and with few supplies and food. I understood that when he reflected on his early years it reminded him of all of his fellow hunters and gatherers who survived on the land. 

    Akamiski Island is an important historic place as my people have hunted and trapped there for generations. We identify this island as part of our traditional lands but Canadian, provincial and territorial governments see it differently. As Mushkego Cree, we reside in Ontario but the island and all islands in James Bay are actually identified as being part of the territory of Nunavut. To complicate matters more, two thirds of the eastern end of the island is identified as the Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary by the federal government. This arrangement has historically made it difficult for our leaders to assert our territorial rights to hunting and trapping on this land. We are residents of an outside province, on an island under the stewardship of a territorial government that is a thousand kilometres north and protected by a federal government that is headquartered a thousand kilometres south. We do our best to live with the politics regarding this great island. The western third of the island is not as regulated and my people freely use the land as we have always done in the past. This has to do with our ancestral right.

    The rewards of visiting and using this land come with plenty of risk for all those who venture out to Akamiski as there is danger for travellers who risk moving over thawing ice and snow for hours. It takes plenty of skill, knowledge and awareness to travel safely on this land and frozen ocean. Everyone maintains a network of communications among each other to monitor the weather, the ice, the open water and where other fellow travellers are located. People maintain their safety through their individual skill but also rely on one another to stay aware of the dangers. 

    The south shore is much like the northern muskeg river banks with high gravel bluffs, pine forests and fresh water lakes and creeks. The northern coast is a wide open flat landscape of tidal coast land, lowlands and swamp. It is excellent bird habitat and it is easy to get lost in what seems like a never ending expanse of flat land, scrub and tidal ocean water that seems to have no coastal edge. In the midst of this barren landscape are a few large boulders that sit above the silt, clay and scrub. Our people have used them as markers and their unusual placement on the flat featureless land are seen as grandfathers or ancestors that stand watch over the people and the animals that roam Akamiski, ‘the land on the other side’.