Posts By: First Nations Drum

Call for proposals – Women’s empowerment initiatives

Start Date: August 2, 2018 End Date: August 31, 2018 Nunavut-wide 60 sec

The Department of Family Services is accepting applications for community-based projects that promote women’s empowerment in Nunavut.

Projects must take place between October 15, 2018 and March 31, 2019. Community- based, non-profit organizations, municipal corporations or individuals can apply to receive funding under the following categories:

  • Leadership skills.
  • Employment.
  • Economic self-sufficiency.
  • Wellness.
  • Self-reliance.
  • Traditional knowledge.

Please contact Jordanne Amos, Family Violence Project Officer at 867-975-5236 or email, for copies of the application and guidelines, if you have any questions, or would like help completing your application.

Applicants must provide proof of current standing with Nunavut Legal Registries, if applicable. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2018 at 5 p.m. EST.

Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park celebrates elders

Start Date: July 31, 2018 End Date: August 3, 2018 Rankin Inlet

Nunavut Parks and Special Places would like to show appreciation for Elders in Rankin Inlet by hosting a day to celebrate them.

Elders are invited to join us in Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park at the ‘Elders Cabin’ for tea, coffee and food on Friday, August 3, 2018 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Bus services will be available; Elders can be picked up from outside the hamlet and arena at 1 p. m. For more information, or to request at-home pick up for an elder with mobility issues, please contact Annette Boucher at 867-645-8006 or

B.C. First Nations Languages Report Shows Increase in Language Learners, Urges Action

BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C. – A comprehensive survey of First Nations languages in B.C. reveals that all of the languages are facing severe threats to their vitality with the loss of aging fluent language speakers.

Despite this finding, language experts are cautiously optimistic about the future thanks to a growing interest in Indigenous language revitalization among First Nations communities and an increasing number of people, especially younger individuals, who are learning and speaking these languages. The Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2018 provides several examples of successful language revitalization efforts in First Nations communities.

“B.C. is blessed with the richest diversity of Indigenous languages in Canada, which are an integral part of our shared national history and culture. Revitalizing these languages is important not only for Indigenous people but for all Canadians, and time is of the essence to revitalize them,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), the organization that undertook the study. “This research points to some encouraging trends, including the rise in children and young learners, that bring hope for the future of our languages. It’s a real testament to the many language champions, Elders, young parents and teachers, and their commitment to passing on their languages.”

The report gathered information from more than 137,653 First Nations people in B.C. Across the province, 34 unique First Nations languages and 93 dialects are spoken, more than any other province or territory in Canada. In 2018, only three per cent (3%) of Indigenous people in B.C. (fewer than 4,200 people) identified themselves as being fluent in their mother tongue language, a decrease since the 2014 report.

While just over half (52%) of fluent speakers are aged 65 and over, the vast majority (78%) of all language learners are young (between the ages of 0 and 24). There are also a considerable number of adult learners, including young adults and elders. The report attributes these positive findings to the growth of community-based language revitalization projects across the province.

“I’m very heartened to see the growing interest and efforts to revitalize languages in our First Nations communities,” said STOLȻEȽ (John Elliott), a SENĆOŦEN language leader and speaker. “Although there’s much more to do, it gives me great hope to see so many young ones learning their languages. It takes real commitment and effort on the part of our communities to do this work.”

Despite the decline in fluent speakers since the last report on B.C.’s Indigenous languages in 2014, there have been positive developments that have the potential to support a language shift. The federal government, in partnership with Indigenous peoples across the country, has begun drafting legislation to give all Indigenous languages official status, legal protection and increased support, as well as more and longer-term funding for community-based language revitalization initiatives, a move that responds to one of four Calls to Action on Indigenous languages in a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Earlier this year, the B.C. government recognized the importance of Indigenous languages with an unprecedented $50-million grant to FPCC to support revitalization efforts across the province. The new funding, spread over three years, will allow FPCC to increase support to all of B.C.’s First Nations communities through larger and longer-term grants, the development of individual community language revitalization plans, and expansion of language immersion programs and learning resources.

“Our government is very pleased to support the growing number of Indigenous peoples who are teaching and learning their languages, because language is so important to connect people to their culture, their heritage and the lands they come from,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Both the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action highlight the importance of Indigenous languages, and I am proud that our government is working closely with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to make this critical work a priority.”

“Language revitalization work is complex and will not result in new fluent speakers overnight,” said Herbert. “But with increased support as well as significant, stable investment from all levels of government, effective language plans, and community mobilization, I’m optimistic that we can reverse the direction of language loss among B.C. First Nations languages and see them flourish again. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of our languages.”

The third edition of the Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages provides concrete data on the vitality of languages in B.C.’s First Nations communities, including changes in the numbers of speakers and learners over time, and resources available to support each language and community efforts to stem language loss. The goal of the report is to provide information to First Nations communities and leadership and all levels of government to assist with Indigenous language planning and revitalization. The last report was published in 2014 and the first ever report was published in 2010

Quick Facts:

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognize that knowing and being able to speak one’s language is a human right for Indigenous people. Both outline the need to protect and invest in the restoration of Indigenous languages as a concrete step toward reconciliation.

Learn More:

  • FPCC’s language programs, such as Mentor-Apprentice, Language Nest and Language Revitalization Planning programs:
  • FPCC, with B.C. First Nations as partners, developed a list and map of B.C.’s Indigenous languages:

About the First Peoples’ Cultural Council:

FPCC is a First Nations-run provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to support the revitalization of Indigenous languages, arts and culture in British Columbia. The organization provides funding and resources to communities, monitors the status of First Nations languages, develops policy recommendations for First Nations leadership and government, and collaborates with organizations on numerous special projects that raise the profile of Indigenous arts and languages in B.C., Canada and around the world. FPCC is the key source of current and accurate information on the state of First Nations languages in B.C. Since 1990, the FPCC has distributed over $40 million to First Nations communities in British Columbia for language, arts and culture projects. For more information, visit:

Territorial Premiers commit to working with new federal Ministers to advance the needs of northerners

July 18, 2018 – (Moncton, NB) Northern Premiers today extend their congratulations to new members of the Government of Canada’s Cabinet and look forward to working with all Ministers and the Prime Minister to continue to advance northern priorities.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod and Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq are eager to work with the Ministers to advance the needs of northerners in recognition of the unique circumstances in their jurisdictions. In particular, northern Premiers will continue to stress the need for a more flexible approach to federal-territorial infrastructure funding.

At a meeting of northern Premiers this morning in Moncton, New Brunswick, the Premiers reiterated that when it comes to the future development of the North and its peoples, decisions should be made with northerners, in recognition and respect of their cultures and diversity.

The Premiers acknowledge and welcome the appointments of the Honourable Dominique LeBlanc as Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

The need for more infrastructure in all three territories is urgent, and greater flexibility in federal infrastructure policy and funding will help ensure that northerners have every opportunity for economic success and a high quality of life.

The Premiers wish to thank former Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, as well as the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, former Minister of Northern Affairs, for their work and dedication in these critical areas.

Assembly of First Nations Says a National Strategy Developed with First Nations is Essential to Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals in Canada

(New York, NY) – On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild is participating this week at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations headquarters in New York, NY.  Grand Chief Littlechild spoke to the work Canada must undertake with First Nations to meet international sustainable development goals, including respecting Canada’s international human rights commitments and obligations to Indigenous peoples.

“First Nations must be full partners in achieving truly sustainable development, to meet the 2030 goals, and to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada,” said Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild following the release of Canada’s voluntary national review on its progress on achieving goals set out in Agenda 2030.  “This requires a robust national strategy co-developed with First Nations. The strategy must include mutually agreed-to mechanisms to share Crown revenue.  The violation of our Treaty rights and our right to self-determination respecting our lands and resources has entrenched and maintained a longstanding gap in socio-economic outcomes.  First Nations must be fully involved and drive approaches to addressing and closing the socio-economic gap and rights must be respected and upheld.”

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations Economic and Social Council is taking place July 9-18. This is the main forum to ensure States are accountable for commitments in the 2030 Agenda, which includes 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.  Canada presented a Voluntary National Review on its progress toward its goals yesterday. Grand Chief Littlechild’s comments are in response to this review.

“First Nations priorities and perspectives were not included in the development of either the Millennium Development Goals or the successor Sustainable Development Goals,” said Grand Chief Littlechild.  “We need a better approach. The Assembly of First Nations is offering to work with Canada to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and this effort must include working together on better ways to collect and analyze data and to evaluate progress.  The UN Declaration should be the framework for measurement, in collaboration with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis to ensure sustainable development goals contribute to First Nations’ own priorities for sustainable development and do not negatively affect our rights and priorities respecting development.”

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Bow Valley College and City of Calgary Commemorate Canada Day with the Fifth Annual Powwow and Indigenous Showcase

CALGARY – Bow Valley College’s Iniikokaan Centre and The City of Calgary have teamed up again to host the Canada Day Indigenous Showcase & Powwow at Prince’s Island Park on
Sunday, July 1.

More than 80,000 people are expected to take in this year’s event, which promises to offer dynamic and captivating demonstrations of traditional First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and entertainment, with activities in the Children’s Tent and Airbrush Tattoos situated close together for family participation. Many unique creations, such as beadwork can be viewed and purchased at the Artisan Market with local vendors. A selection of food trucks will also be on site.

Visitors are invited to sit in the Metis Trapper’s Tent and Tipis and take part in cultural teachings and sharing starting at 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to learn Métis dance steps with live fiddle music.

“This event with Bow Valley College and the City of Calgary shows our commitment to community, diversity and the relationships we have with Indigenous people in our area andNorthern Canada, including this year’s guest Dene drummers. One of the drummers is from Hay River, Northwest Territories, and the other is from the Treaty 8 area” says Noella Wells, Director of the Iniikokaan Centre.

The College’s Iniikokaan Centre also relies on staff member Carla Big Tobacco for her expertise and knowledge on Powwows, the various Dances performed by men and women and where the Drums groups are located in Treaty 7.

“We have nurtured relationships with all our presenters because they include our Iniikokaan Centre Cultural Resources Elders, Indigenous educators, leaders and knowledge keepers,” adds Wells. “All of the volunteers are Bow Valley College students and some of them will be participating as dancers in the Powwow.”

Activities begin on the Main Stage at 11 a.m. with a Blessing from Cultural Resource Elder Keith Chiefmoon. The Grand Entry of the Powwow will begin at 1 p.m. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome.

Laura Jo Gunter, President and CEO of Bow Valley College, David Collyer, Chair of our Board of Governors and other members of the College executive team will be in attendance.

Working in partnership with Treaty 7 First Nations, Bow Valley College is proudly committed to integrate Indigenous practices, develop focused educational programs, boost community involvement and build respectful relationships at all our campus locations across Alberta

AFN National Chief: Justice Demands Action Now to Show First Nations Lives Matter

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the below statement following the not-guilty verdict in the trial of Peter Khill, who was charged with the second-degree murder of John Styres from Oshweken, Ontario.

“The family of Jon Styres is top of mind today. We see once again that Canada has a legal system, but not a justice system. This is the third trial verdict this year that tells First Nations that our lives do not matter, along with 30 years of documented systemic discrimination and racism in the Canadian justice system. It also sends a troubling signal to Canadians that they will not face consequences for acts of violence they commit on First Nation individuals.

The treatment of First Nations in the justice system stands in stark contrast to other Canadians. First Nations are over-represented in the criminal justice system as offenders, yet their contributions to juries are not sought or welcomed. Our youth are incarcerated at appalling rates because of unfair treatment by the legal system. Justice in this country demands action now to address long-standing problems, end discriminative practices, ensure First Nations representation on juries and institute restorative justice. It’s time for all of us to stand up and say ‘First Nations lives matter’.”

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Red Sky Performance presents Great Lakes

JUNE 30 and JULY 1 at 6:30 pm.

Red Sky Performance’s newest project, Great Lakes, is a one-of-kind site-specific dance and live music production that will be performed knee-deep in water on the shore of Lake Ontario. It brings together contemporary Indigenous dance, original music, and our connection to five freshwater lakes.

This new work explores our interconnectedness to the Great Lakes, water as life-sustaining, and as a creative force. We as Anishinaabe believe that water is alive. Water is our earth’s lifeblood, and that all bodies of water are her veins. Without water, we simply would cease to exist. Water is life.

Great Lakes is choreographed by Eddie Elliott, Lonii-Garnons Williams, Sandra Laronde, and Jera Wolfe, with music creators and collaborators: Ora Barlow-Tukaki, Bryant Didier, Marie Gaudet, Bryden Gwiss Kwenize, Pierre Mongeon, and Rick Sacks.

Dancers include: Eddie Elliott, Lonii-Garnons Williams, Claire Holmes, Kalene Jeans, Michael Ramsey, Jera Wolfe, and with Ian Akiwenzie, Wesley Cleland, Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, Cylene Marie Morrison, and Tara Trudeau, with production management by Pip Bradford.

On July 1st, 13-year-old Anishinaabe girl, Autumn Peltier, recently nominated for the 2018 International Children’s Peace Prize, will make a live appearance and participate in the Great Lakes performance.

World Premiere: co-produced and presented by the Harbourfront Centre on Canada Day on June 30 and July 1, 2018 at 6:30 pm and performed in the adjacent Natrel Pond on the shore of Lake Ontario.

As part of Canada Day Celebrations, Free Admission

Viu Honours First Nations Advocate With Honorary Degree

Gene Anne Joseph, the first librarian of First Nations heritage in BC, will receive Doctor of Laws at VIU’s June 5 convocation ceremony

NANAIMO, BC: Since childhood, Gene Anne Joseph was always happiest with a book in hand.

“My parents and family would joke that I wouldn’t move in an earthquake if I was reading,” Joseph says.

Joseph’s father had an elementary-level education in federal Indian day school and her mother attended residential school until age 16. Her parents raised 12 children.

Due to their support and encouragement, the majority of their children have a post-secondary level education.

“Throughout my life my parents were my primary inspiration as they taught all of my sisters and brothers that we were expected to work hard, be honest, and support and encourage others,” says Joseph.

In 1972, she began her post-secondary academic career as one of the few First Nations students at Langara College.

Her first summer job was copying a catalogue of a small collection for the UBC Indian Education Resource Centre. Every summer afterwards, Joseph found herself obtaining positions at libraries.

When she finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a position with the BC Union Chief Resource Centre opened up, and Joseph knew this was the job for her – except they rejected her application. Unwilling to accept no for an answer, Joseph boldly wrote a letter to the President, Chief George Manuel, to explain while she didn’t have the exact qualifications they were looking for, the experience and passion she possessed made her the perfect candidate. He agreed and hired her. Joseph worked there for three years before going back to UBC to obtain her Master’s of Library Science.

During her graduate studies, Joseph collected and analyzed subject headings used by First Nations libraries in Canada to catalogue and organize information resources. This work continued in her role at the UBC Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) Resource Centre.

“I always felt I was working for First Nations people. When I saw the language used to describe First Nations, I found it ethnocentric and demeaning to us. It didn’t describe us how we describe ourselves,” she says.

Although Joseph considers herself a rather shy person, “when something is important enough, I force myself to step up.”

With no precedent to follow, Joseph carved the way by creating a new classification system that uses proper terminology used by First Nations communities. In 2005, UBC committed to protect the unique system designed by Joseph, which is now known as the First Nations House of Learning Subject Headings (FNHL-SH) and classification.

“To Indigenous librarianship, Gene Joseph is an unsung hero whose professional leadership laid a foundation for the future,” says Patricia Geddes, Student Engagement and Community Outreach Librarian at VIU. “Gene’s innovative approach to her work continues to inspire the next generation of Indigenous information professionals working towards decolonizing library services and building recognition for Indigenous knowledge systems.”

Joseph was the founding librarian of the Xwi7xwa Library at UBC, the only post-secondary Aboriginal library in Canada.

“She created an atmosphere that has continued to this day, an atmosphere that welcomed Aboriginal students and created a home-like environment for them as they adjusted to academic life in a huge institution,” says Tim Atkinson, VIU’s now-retired University Librarian.

In 1969, the federal government proposed to end the Indian Act, and First Nations communities in BC were coming together to legally stand up for Aboriginal Rights and Land Title.

“It was an exciting time politically for First Nations people,” Joseph says. “As a young woman, I decided my long-term goal was to work on Aboriginal Land Title. I wanted to do something to help First Nations – to help my people.”

In 1984, she was recruited to organize materials for the Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Supreme Court case, a landmark ruling that set a legal precedent for the court’s recognition of Aboriginal Title in Canada.

Although legally defined as Delgamuukw v. BC, Joseph intentionally refers to the trial as Delgamuukw Gisday’wa v. BC as both Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations were represented on the case – a fact too often overlooked.

“For me, it’s important terminology as I have dedicated my whole life to trying to correct terminology describing First Nations issues and subjects,” she says.

The case holds significant personal meaning to Joseph as she was born in Wet’suwet’en territory in the village of Hagwilget/Tse-kya, and has close connections to both Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan peoples.

“Through her efforts and collaboration with the chiefs and lawyers, Gene brought the Delgamuukw case to life and helped make the rights of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en people real in court,” says Stuart Rush, consultant at White Raven Law. “She has left a powerful legacy in what she accomplished for her people and for the land.”

Joseph went on to assist as Senior Advisor and Director of Research and Litigation Support at White Raven Law for the Haida Nation Aboriginal Title court case.

In 1991, Joseph helped establish the BC Library Association First Nations Interest Group, a professional network that holds a scholarship endowment created in her name to support Aboriginal graduate students pursuing library sciences. The funding for the scholarship originally came from the successful volunteer-run workshops for First Nations community information workers.

At the time of the first award, Joseph was one of the few First Nations librarians in Canada. Now 16 Aboriginal Gene Joseph Scholars are working as information professionals.

“I am proud the scholarship has affected so many people obtaining their master’s degree. I am proud I am no longer the only First Nations librarian in BC. It was difficult to be the only person in my field; no assistance or colleagues to understand what you are going through,” Joseph says.

Throughout her career and advocacy work, Joseph has demonstrated that education, once used as a tool for repression, can be used to empower future generations. Much of her work has revolved around ensuring First Nations history and stories are documented and acknowledged properly.

“People have such terrible misunderstandings about First Nations legal rights and place in Canadian history. If non-First Nations had knowledge of our history and culture, they would have a better perception of us.”

Joseph has been instrumental at changing that perception through her unwavering dedication and commitment to build bridges between individuals, institutions and communities for the benefit of First Nations and all Canadians.


University of Saskatchewan Researchers Find Incidence of Epilepsy in Indigenous Population Double the National Average

Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo (left) and Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno, in front of Mexican artist Eduardo Urbano Merino’s painting Epilepsy, leaving the nightmare behind (2013), representing epilepsy surgery. (Photo by Daniel Hallen, University of Saskatchewan)

Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo (left) and Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno, in front of Mexican artist Eduardo Urbano Merino’s painting Epilepsy, leaving the nightmare behind (2013), representing epilepsy surgery. (Photo by Daniel Hallen, University of Saskatchewan)


SASKATOON – University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researchers have discovered that the incidence of epilepsy in the Canadian Indigenous population is twice that of non-Indigenous Canadians.

In a study published today in Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy, a team of epidemiologists and neurologists led by Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno has established for the first time a Canadian national incidence rate of 62 new cases of epilepsy per 100,000 people per year. For self-identified First Nations patients, the rate is 122 per 100,000.

“We don’t have the exact reason for the difference in rate,” Téllez-Zenteno said. “Some other studies have shown higher rates of traumatic brain injury in Indigenous populations. Head trauma is correlated with epilepsy, so, we think that’s one of the factors.”

Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of brain activity can lead to seizures, he said.

“Until now, there has been very little epidemiology research done about Aboriginal peoples with epilepsy. Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition worldwide, but there are numerous gaps in knowledge,” said Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo, first author on the paper.

The research was also co-authored by U of S epidemiologist Dr. Lillian Thorpe and biostatistics professor Punam Pahwa.

While epilepsy can occur at any age, the U of S study data indicates that incidence tends to increase with age. Health problems such as strokes, dementia, and tumours that increase with age also increase the likelihood of epilepsy.

Using Saskatchewan health records from 2001 to 2010, the researchers combined information from three different databases to gather data on patients who were either hospitalized for epilepsy or had two physician visits with an epilepsy diagnosis. From demographic information, they were able to separately examine records from patients who self-identified as status First Nations people. The Saskatchewan data was then age-adjusted to be representative for all of Canada.

Overall, inequalities including socioeconomic circumstances and education may pose differences in epilepsy risk. Future studies should explore reasons accounting for these findings in order to make targeted changes in health provision, said Hernández-Ronquillo. Regardless of the health indicator explored, Canadian Indigenous peoples have been shown to suffer a disproportionate burden of illness with poor outcomes, she said.

Over the period of the study, the incidence of epilepsy was actually in decline in Canada. That trend matches that of other countries with universal healthcare. In countries without universal health care, the rate of epilepsy is increasing.

“Epilepsy is a disease, like diabetes in that it can be treated—it can be cured or controlled,” Hernández-Ronquillo said.

The paper can be found at: