Posts By: Frank LaRue

Protecting Our Elders Among Top Priorities During Coronavirus Pandemic #ItsNotAboutYou

Residents at the Wikwemikong Nursing Home took to social media this week to share the importance of social distancing and self-isolation during the global COVID-19 pandemic. (Wikwemikong Nursing Home)

First Nation youth are culturally obligated to learn and never forget our past if they intend to create a better future for our people. Our elders, who are living history and rank among our most-valued cultural treasures, are their best teachers. A priceless resource, elders provide language revitalization, cultural identity, and impart general wisdom gained over a lifetime of real-world experiences.

Our elders deserve respect and protection, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, extra-special care and attention. According to Courtney Skye, a research fellow at the Yellowhead Institute in Toronto and member of Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario, today’s health crisis is highlighting one distinction between Indigenous and Western values. “Non-Indigenous young people are still going on spring break, still going out partying. I don’t necessarily see that in our communities as much. Our community understands that collective value that we have and the role that we all play in supporting one another,” says Skye. “Elders don’t just have worth because they are caregivers or because they are knowledge keepers. They also just have human dignity and value themselves as people. For me, that’s a really strong Haudenosaunee value.”

Because First Nation family members visit each other often, Kahnawake Public Safety Commissioner Lloyd Phillips said that our communities are especially vulnerable to a rapid spread of the virus. “We know there’s going to be impacts across the board, we know there’s impacts on individuals, on businesses, and people’s lives, but it’s a requirement to protect the most vulnerable and to protect our elders,” said Phillips. “We have to take extra measures to protect our elders, which also falls in lines with our traditions of ensuring we are respecting our elders.”

Elders at Wikwemikong Nursing Home, whose values are based upon the Anishinaabe people’s Seven Grandfather Teachings, are relying on social media to remind families that it best for them to not visit and keep their distance. This because elders are particularly vulnerable to complications and possible death if infected with COVID-19.

Reinforcing the message of the necessity for social distancing, self-isolating, and handwashing – three key factors in preventing the spread of COVID-19 – the facility, located on the Manitoulin Island north of Lake Huron in Ontario, launched the public awareness campaign after administrator Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier felt people, not just locally but worldwide, were not taking precautions seriously enough.

Physical distancing and self-isolating is not synonymous with not communicating. Since every person, young and old, requires socializing, the Wikwemikong Nursing Home’s campaign includes messages from elders to their loved ones saying, “I know you love me,” and “we can Skype.” Osawabine-Peltier considers all Wikwemikong Nursing Home residents to be her grandparents and treats them accordingly. “As Indigenous people, we always hold our elders to the highest level,” said Osawabine-Peltier.

Peggy Mayo is the president of Golden Age Club in Kahnawake, Quebec. Her facility, like Wikwemikong, were ahead of the curve when they officially limited access to its long-term care facilities well before the provincial government ordered visitor bans. The Golden Age Club’s staff abided by their own rule by ordering employees over the age of 70 to work from home to limit physical contact with elders.

Physical isolation can be troublesome and a difficult adjustment to make for social-minded people, which is why Mayo checks in by phone with her most isolated members and connects them with volunteers who shop for their groceries and pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. “Every day, I’m on the phone at least five-to-10 times a day, calling various people to see how they are, how’s everything going, thinking of them, and hopefully when this is all over, we’ll get together again real soon,” said Mayo. “It’s very important that we don’t forget about anyone, so they don’t feel alone.”

Appellate Court Delivers Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Victory, Halts Expansion

Chief Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Photo courtesy of Nic Amaya/CBC

Chief Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Photo courtesy of Nic Amaya/CBC


Approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion has been overturned on two counts by an Appellate Court ruling. The court found that Ottawa failed to adequately consider aboriginal concerns, and that a National Energy Board (NEB), study’s focus on tanker traffic was considered to be too narrow. “WE are winning,” said Chief Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “The NEB was a flawed process from the beginning, and the courts recognized that today. This is a victory for all of us.”

The Appellate Court decision said the government failed in its constitutional duty to “engage in a considered, meaningful two-way dialogue” with First Nations affected by the project. “We tell the prime minister to start listening and put an end to this type of relationship. It is time for Prime Minister Trudeau to do the right thing,” said Khelsilem, a councillor and spokesperson for the Squamish Nation.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), called on the federal government to shut down the expansion project rather than try to resurrect the failed consultant process. He said he was not expecting a court ruling in favour of the First Nations.

“I was really taken aback by the decision.” said Phillip. “I’m absolutely elated. I’m ecstatic. We denounced the so-called consultation process from the beginning as fundamentally flawed, and the courts upheld that. In order for a new consultation to take place, they will have to go back to square one.”

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas was joined by UBCIC Vice-President Bob Chamberlin in calling the decision a new chance at reconciliation. “I’m mindful of all the times that we stood together with Canadians that made the decision to stand with First Nations. This is what reconciliation can be in Canada.”

But not all First Nations are opposed to the expansion. Along the existing pipeline – from the Alberta oil sands to the tanker terminal on the west coast of BC – are many who still hope to see the expansion move forward eventually.

Chief Mike LeBourdais of the Whispering Pines First Nation near Kamloops said he welcomed the ruling that First Nations were not properly consulted even though he supported the pipeline going ahead under Indigenous control. “Right from the beginning we wanted a piece of the pipeline, either in tax or equity. We want to protect the environment, and we want to do it on our terms.”

The cancellation is based on two findings: NEB’s failure to ctonsider the project’s impact on the marine environment to include the impact of increased tanker traffic on the endangered population of southern resident killer whales, and, secondly, a failure in the last stage of the consultation process with First Nations – Phase 111.

Phase 111 requires engagement in a considered, meaningful two-way dialogue. “Canada fell well short of the minimum requirements imposed by the case law of the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Justice Eleanor Dawson. “For the most part, Canada’s representatives limited their mandate to listening to and recording the concerns of the indigenous applicants, and transmitting those concerns to the decision makers. The law requires Canada to do more than receive and record concerns and complaints. As a result, Canada must redo its Phase 111 consultation. Only after that consultation is completed and any accommodation made can the project again be put before the Governor in Council for approval.”


Calgary Student Set to Become First in Family to Graduate High School

Calgary Student Set to Become First in Family to Graduate High School

Cauy Healy is a normal teenager, but he’s determined to accomplish something neither his parents nor his 10 siblings have done: graduate high school.

“I want to be the first one in my family to have my diploma,” said Healy. “I’ve been compared to my sisters so many times. Oh, I’m just going to ‘drop out of school.’ Oh, I’m just going to ‘drink.’ Oh, I’m just going to ‘have kids.’”

Cauy said hearing these comparisons from his own family made him more determined to graduate.

Cauy, his brothers, and sisters were often passed between their mom and dad. “The first time it happened, I didn’t understand it. I’m still trying to understand it now,” said Cauy of an early memory of moving between homes. “It felt like we were objects.”

Eventually, his family got kicked out of an apartment for delinquency on rent payments, so his mother moved out and settled with her children in Vancouver. Then his older sister left too, leaving him by himself in a basement apartment.

Thanks to a neighbor, Cauy got a job in exterior renovations then landed a room to rent in the house. “People look at me and they tell me I’m completely different from the ‘average native.’ That kind of makes me laugh. What’s the ‘average native’?” asked Cauy. “When people think of a native they think of alcohol, drugs, people on the streets, partying all the time, ‘savages’ that live on the reserve. ‘You get money from the government.’ and things like that. I don’t want to be thought about like that. I want to have the things that I want – have the house, have the family, have the good future, be able to go traveling.”

His intentions are good and he’s set to graduate next year and make decisions that will make or break him. “Honestly, before, I didn’t even think I could finish high school,” said Cauy. “But now I’m on track to finishing high school. I can go to university. I can get a job. I can travel. It’s so overwhelming that I don’t know what to pick from.”

The future looks bright for Cary, who added, “I’m going to finish high school and I’m going to get my diploma. I’m going to walk that stage!”

Remembering Thomas Prince: Canada’s Forgotten Aboriginal War Hero

The ten war medals of Canada’s most decorated aboriginal war hero Sergeant Thomas George Prince, a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, returned to the Prince family after being lost for over 30 years. Thomas Prince

“I was out in Halifax for the AFN meeting when I got the call that the medals were coming up for auction. We re-organized our committee and began to write letters for a fundraising media campaign and I did some radio talk shows,” said Jim Bear, nephew to the late Thomas Prince.

Money and pledges poured in from across the country. Bear, a prominent member of the Winnipeg aboriginal community has been after the medals since 1995, when the medals first re-surfaced after eighteen years after the death of Tommy Prince in November 1977. The medals were auctioned off by a Winnipeg coin dealer for $17,500 in 1997.

The ten medals were bought by the Prince family at a London, Ontario auction for $75,000 on the third bid.
The medals from WWII includes the King George Military Medal and the US Silver Star, which was presented to Prince at Buckingham Palace by King George VI, for his five years of outstanding service as a member of the First Special Service Force, a combined Canadian-US elite airborne unit that came to be known as the famed “Devil’s Brigade”.

The wartime experience of Sergeant Tommy Prince is the stuff of legend. He was a quiet ordinary man who had greatness thrust upon him by the force of one of the greatest conflicts in the history of Western civilization. It’s as if he was born and bred for one great task and then cast aside by the very society he fought for. He was a true son of his people and a great warrior.

His life story is told in the publication Manitobans in Profile: Thomas George Prince, 1981, Penguin Publishers Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s a fascinating piece of Canadianna.

The early years

Thomas George Prince was the great-great-grandson of the famous Chief Peguis, the Salteaux chief who led his people to the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg in the late 1790’s from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. One of eleven children, Tommy Prince was born in a canvas tent on a cold October day in 1915.

When he was five, the family moved to the Brokenhead reserve just outside of Scanterbury, some 80 kilometers north of Winnipeg, where he learned his father’s skills as a hunter and trapper.

As a teenager, Prince joined the Army cadets and perfected his skill with a rifle until he could put five bullets through a target the size of a playing card at 100 metres.

World War II

When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Prince volunteered at 24, and was accepted as a sapper in the Royal Canadian Engineers, which he served with for two years. In June 1940, he volunteered for paratrooper service. The training was hard and very few successfully completed. Prince was one of nine out of a hundred to win his wings from the parachute school at Ringway, near Manchester, England.

It wasn’t his ability to “jump” that made him a good paratrooper. Prince had a natural instinct for “ground”. He would land, creep forward on his belly with the speed and agility of a snake and take advantage of small depressions in an otherwise flat field to conceal himself from view. He was a crack shot with a rifle and crafty as a wolf in the field.

Prince was promoted to Lance Corporal as a result of his impressive skills and in September, 1942, flew back to Canada to train with the first Canadian Parachute Battalion and was soon promoted to sergeant. It merged with the United States Special Force, the airborne unit known as the “Green Berets.”

The First Special Service Force was an experiment in unity that was composed of 1600 of the “toughest men to be found in Canada and the United States.”

All the men were qualifies paratroopers and received training in unarmed combat, demolition, mountain fighting and as ski troops. They were described as “the best small force of fighting men ever assembled on the North American continent” and the “best god-damned fighters in the world and a terror to their enemies.”.

This combined elite force was first called into action in January 1943, when the Japanese occupied Kiska, an island in the Aleutian chain of islands near Alaska in the Pacific but the Japanese had already withdrew.

They went to the Mediterranean, followed by the Sicily landing. By a daring maneuver, it captured strategic Monte la Difensa, an extremely difficult piece of ground. Fighting side by side with the US Fifth Army, it maintained an aggressive offensive throughout the Italian campaign. The liberation of Rome was the culmination of its daring exploits.

A natural hunter, Prince’s fieldcraft was unequalled and in recognition of unique abilities, he was made reconnaissance sergeant. At night, Prince would crawl toward the enemy lines, mostly alone, to listen to the Germans, estimate their numbers and report back to his battalion commander.

Before every attack, he was sent out to reconnoiter enemy positions and landscape formations that could provide cover for an attacking platoon.

Prince’s most daring exploit was on the Anzio beach-head where the Special Service Force had fought for ninety days without relief on the frontlines.

Voluntary assignment

On February 8, 1944, Sergeant Prince went out alone on a voluntary assignment to run a radio wire 1500 metres into enemy territory to an abandoned farmhouse where he established an observation post.

From his post, Prince could observe enemy troop movements unseen by the Allied artillery and radio back their exact locations. Armed with this knowledge, the Allied artillery could lay down an accurate barrage and successfully destroyed four enemy positions.

When the communications were abruptly cut off, Prince knew what had happened. Shellfire from the opposing armies had cut the line.

Without concern for his own safety, Prince stripped off his uniform and dressed in farmer’s clothes left behind. At that time, many Italian farmers persisted in remaining on their farms despite the war that raged around them.

Acting as an angry farmer, Prince went out into the field shaking his fists and shouting at the German-Italian line and then to the Allied line. Taking a hoe out into the field, he pretended to work the field in plain view of the enemy line while he secretly followed the radio line to where the break had occurred.

Pretending to tie his shoe, he secretly sliced the line together and continued to work the field before retiring back to the farmhouse where he continued to relay enemy positions. With the positions of the enemy revealed to the Allied artillery, the enemy soon withdrew.

Only then did Prince return to his CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Gilday who recommended Prince for the Military Medal for “exceptional bravery in the field.”

Devil’s Brigade

It was at Anzio that the Force earned the name “Devil’s Brigade.” In the diary of a dead German soldier was a passage that read, “The black devils are all around us every time we come into the line.”

The passage was a reference to the Force’s tactic of smearing their faces with black and sneaking past Axis lines under the cover of darkness and slitting the throats of enemy soldiers.

Following the capture of Italy, the Devil’s Brigade took part in the seizure of coastal islands during the invasion of southern France. The Force gained the mainland and proceeded up the Riviara until they reached mountainous defenses held by German forces.

To break the impasse, the Force would have to launch a surprise attack, destroy the enemy defensive line and quickly capture the reserve battalions before they could be brought up as reinforcements.

To accomplish this daring move, the Force needed to know the exact location of enemy reserves and details of roads and bridges.

With only a private, Prince breached the enemy line and located the reserve encampment.. On the way back to report, Prince ands the private came upon a battle between some Germans and a squad of French partisans. From a rear position, the pair began to pick off the Germans until they withdrew as a result of high casualties.

When Prince made contact with the French leader, the Frenchman asked “Where is the rest of your company?” Pointing to the private, Prince said “Here.”

“Mon Dieu. I thought there were at least fifty of you!” said the astonished Frenchman.

The French commander recommended Prince for the Croix de Guerre, but the courier was killed en route and the message never reached the French Commander-in-Chief, Charles de Gaulle.

Returning to his own line, Prince was again sent out to the action on the frontline, despite his fatigue. Then, the enemy line was breached and an attack was launched on the German encampment reported by Prince.

When the battle had ended, Prince had been without food or sleep for 72 hours, fought two battles and covered over 70 km on foot. For his role, the Americans awarded Prince the Silver Star.

The Prince meets the King

One of his proudest moments and most cherished memories was when King George VI pinned on the Military Medal and the Silver Star, on behalf of President Roosevelt, and chatted with Prince about his wartime experiences.

Sergeant Thomas Prince was one of 59 Canadians awarded the US Silver Star and one of three who were awarded the King George Military Medal.

In December 1944, the Devil’s Brigade was disbanded. The war in Europe ended while Prince was in England. He returned to Canada and was honourably discharged on June 15, 1945.

Prince returned to civilian life on the Brokenhead reserve and found that few things had changed. He worked in a pulpwood camps and was a heavy drinker on weekends. In 1946, at a dance a woman attacked him with a broken beer bottle and badly cut his right cheek requiring 64 stitches.

It was a major turning point for Prince. He resolved to leave the reserve and get a job in Winnipeg.

With the assistance from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, he established his own cleaning service with a half-ton panel truck and cleaning supplies and, for a time, prospered.

At the time, the Manitoba Indian Association had been seeking an influential spokesperson and on December 1, 1946 elected him as chairman. The federal government had recently announced the formation of a Special Parlimentary Committee to revise the Indian Act.

Building a better community

The Manitoba Indian Association were concerned about the slow encroachment on their hunting and trapping rights. They wanted better housing, roads and educational opportunities for their children and financial assistance to start up businesses.

Prince arranged for friends to run his small, but profitable business. As chairman, he consulted extensively with aboriginal communities across Manitoba. He developed clear, well-documented arguments that made clear the Manitoba Association’s concerns in a brief presented to the committee on June 5, 1947.

Prince was overcome and frustrated by the legalese government officials threw out to counter his arguments. The committee hearings dragged on for two months, Prince became increasingly frustrated.

He tried to persuade other aboriginal representatives to travel to London and appeal to King George VI whom he had met.

While some changes were made the Indian Act, life for Canada’s Indians remained unchanged. Prince came to realize from the committee hearings that Indian people lacked prestige in the eyes of post-war Canadian society, who generally looked down on Indian people. To change this widely-held view became somewhat of an obsession with him.

He returned to Winnipeg with the intention of building up his business but instead found that his “friends” had wrecked his truck in an accident and was sold for scrap metal. With no recourse, Prince returned to the lumber camps a and worked at a local concrete factory in the summers.

Then, at the age of 34, one week after the Canadian government announced its involvement in Korea, Tommy Prince again volunteered.

As part of its UN commitments, the Canadian government formed and trained the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI), which Prince joined as a seasoned veteran. He and other veterans were re-instated at their former ranks, in charge of training fresh recruits.

Tom Prince exalted in the military tradition of the 2PPCLI, where he was the hard-boiled sergeant whose legendary exploits were held in awe by the fresh recruits.

Following basic training at Wainwright, Alberta, the 2PPCLI sailed across the Pacific on December 7, 1950 and was the first Canadian unit to land and to become part of 27th Commonwealth Brigade in Korea.

Prince’s service on the Korean frontline was intense, but brief. Second in command of a rifle platoon, the 2PPCLI were part of a commonwealth effort to push back the North Korean forces from hill and mountain strongholds.

In February, 1951, Prince led a “snatch patrol” of eight men into enemy territory and captured two guarded machine gun posts as part of a demoralization effort. The tactic was repeated successfully many times with Prince in charge. But his commanding officers felt that Prince took too many chances with the men’s lives and eventually assigned him fewer patrols.

Prince was with the 2PPCLI when, together with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment, were awarded the United States’ Presidential Unit Citation for distinguished service in the Kapyong valley on April 24 and 25, during one of the toughest actions of the war.

The Patricias were to hold a defensive position on Hill 677 so that a South Korean division could withdraw during an attack by Chinese and North Korean forces. Although at one point the battalion was surrounded and re-supply of ammunition and emergency rations could only be accomplished by air, the Patricias held their ground. The enemy withdrew. Ten 2PPCLI men were killed and twenty-three were wounded during the battle.
His knees were subject to painful swelling as a result of the constant climbing of the steep Korean country side. Following a medical examination in May 1951, he was hospitalized and then assigned administrative duties. In August, he returned to Canada.

Prince remained in active service as an administrative sergeant at Camp Bordon in Ontario.

His knees responded to the added rest and in March 1952, Prince volunteered for a second tour of duty and sailed for Korea in October with the 3rd Battalion PPCLI.

In November, the training of the 3PPCLI was interrupted by fighting on “the Hook”, a key position of the Sami-chon River that overlooked much of the rear areas of the UN forces.

When a Chinese battalion gained a foothold on the forward positions of another UN unit on November 18, the 3rd PPCLI was ordered in to help defend the sector. By dawn, of the following day, with the assistance of the 3rd Patricias, the UN unit recaptured the post. Five Patricias were killed and nine wounded, one of whom was Sergeant Prince.

He recovered from his injury, but began to have continual difficulties with his arthritic knees He spent several weeks in the hospital between January and April. In July, 1953, the Korea Armistice was signed and Prince returned to Canada. He remained in the army until September 1954, when he was discharged with a small pension because of his bad knees.

Unskilled and unable to fit into the post-war boom, Prince retained only menial jobs and was the subject of scorn from white workers ignorant of his wartime gallantry. His skills as a hunter that made him one of the best soldiers had no value in the urban centre of Winnipeg in the early 1950’s.

In many ways, Tom’s problems were typical of a certain type of returning soldier. These men had been unskilled workers prior to joining the army. From being in low socio-economic position, they suddenly became respected and honoured men who wore a uniform and commanded attention. Men like Prince were promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officers and had authority over others. When they were demobilized from the army, all the power and respect which their uniforms generated suddenly disappeared.

Family life

Nevertheless, Prince met and married Verna Sinclair shortly after and had five children together. By the early 1960’s, nothing had really changed for Indian people. Prince still suffered from discrimination at the jobs he could get. Often he simply quit.

His arthritic knees got worse so he drank more. All of this led to money problems and he and Verna separated in 1964. His five children had to be placed in foster homes by the Children’s Aid Society.

Prince tried to keep in touch with his children but they were often moved to other foster homes. Only his daughter, Beryl, who remained in one foster home for seven years could he keep in touch with and he visited monthly and never gave trying to keep in touch with his other children.

In the years before his death, Prince “was a truly forgotten man.” It was during these years that he pawned his prized medals.

Tommy Prince died at Winnipeg’s Deer Hospital on November 1977, at the age of 62. At his funeral, a delegation of Princess Patricias served as pallbearers and draped a Canadian flag over his coffin for the memorial service attended by active soldiers, veterans and representatives from France, Italy and United States, friends and family.

As the coffin was lowered onto the ground, Beryl and Beverly Prince, Tommy’s daughters, shed tears. When the officer in charge presented Beverly with the Canadian flag which had been draped over the coffin the flow of tears increased. Who were all these strangers, both military and civilian, honouring her father with apparent sadness and great respect? Where had they been these past years when her father, crippled from machine- gun wounds, was forced to do menial jobs to keep alive? Were the honour and respect given only after his death? Did these people really care or was this just a colourful pageant performed by white people for entertainment?

The ten medals of Sergeant Thomas Prince have been verified as the originals by the War Museum in Ottawa and will be held in trust for the Prince family at the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg.

International Women’s Month: Aboriginal Women Who Have Made A Difference


International Women’s Day message: “Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Yet let us be aware progress has slowed in many places across the world, so urgent action is needed to accelerate gender parity. Leaders across the world are pledging to take action as champions of gender parity.”

Indigenous women who have made a difference don’t always get the accolades that would have been given to their male counterparts. Yet in the last year, Native women have stepped up and have been recognized for their achievements. In 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada with Justin Trudeau leading the charge sent ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper to an early retirement. Trudeau, in forming his cabinet, selected former Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations Jody Wilson-Raybould. She is a lawyer by profession and worked as provincial prosecutor for three years before working for the BC Treaty Commission and was soon promoted to commissioner. Jody was councillor for the We Wai Kai Nation and helped develop a financial administration law that became a framework for establishing budgets and controlling expenditures. In 2009, Jody was elected as regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, which she won on the first ballot.

Jody Wilson-Raybould

Jody Wilson-Raybould

Jody Wilson-Raybould has only started her term as Justice Minister, but already the inquiry into Missing and Murdered women as been initiated, and there seems to be a much better understanding between the Liberal Party and First Nations leaders and organizations, including the AFN. She brings extensive experience in law, public service, and First Nations governance to the cabinet. Her message has always been “societies that govern well simply do better economically, socially, and politically than those that do not. Good governance increases society’s chance of meeting the needs of its peoples and developing sustainable long term economic development, and First Nations are no different.”

Another political victory for Native women: Melanie Mark is the first woman from a First Nation to be elected to the BC Legislature. She is of Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree, and Ojibway heritage. Melanie admitted she knew little of her history until she worked as 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 Mark new

Melanie Mark

Melanie Mark 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 Vancouver’s Downtown 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. It’s a part of what shaped me. It’s a part of what gives me my 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 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 a 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.”

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin has directed more than 40 films. Her films have always dealt with Aboriginal people and issues. Her first movie Christmas at Moose Factory was shown in 1971. Alanis is 83 years old now, and her most recent film Trick or Treaty deals with the James Bay treaty signed in 1905. “This film is so badly needed, I think because people are very ignorant in terms of knowing what a treaty is, especially Canadians in general. If you say treaty, ‘Oh it’s an old thing; it’s not important.’ Well they are going to find out differently because all the treaties that were made have had terrible consequences to our people and to the country, and people should know that. These things should be taught in school.”

Trick or Treaty was the first Indigenous movie shown at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Masters Program. Jesse Wente director of of film programmes for the festival was very respectful of Obomsawin’s work, “Alanis is certainly one of Canada’s great documentary filmmakers, but in a larger context, she is really the grandmother of Indigenous cinema all over the world.”

Crystal Shawanda

Crystal Shawanda

Crystal Shawanda was born on Manitoulin island in Ontario. She grew up with a dream that she would someday be a successful singer. That dream motivated her to go to Nashville to further her career. As a result at the 10th Annual Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Shawanda won Best Female Artist, Best Single, Best Video, and Best Country Album of the Year. “I didn’t have any expectations, I was just more excited I was able to sing.” The fact that Buffy Sainte-Marie was given a lifetime award the same night was icing on the cake. “Buffy Sainte-Marie was a huge mentor for me, musically and style wise.” Crystal has also appeared on the Grand Old Opry and has given many of her awards to Native schools where they could be displayed and inspire other Aboriginal youth to aim for greatness.

Ashley Callingbull Burnham is the first Canadian and first First Nations woman to win Mrs Universe.

Ashley Callingbull Burnham

Ashley Callingbull-Burnham from the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta was crowned Mrs. Universe in the summer of 2015. Ashley grew up in a poor family until she was five years old. She has said that it took years to forget the trauma she endured as a child, but she moved on and now uses her visibility as Mrs. Universe to bring awareness to Aboriginal issues. Ashley was also named Canadian Dignity Role Model and was very critical of the way the Harper government responded to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. “It’s dangerous to be a First Nations woman in this country because were not as important as other women in this country.”


Knotty Pine Cabins: The Affordable Housing Alternative

Knotty Pine Cabin exterior.

Knotty Pine Cabin exterior.

The housing problem among First Nations and Metis communities has been a sore point for years. Some First Nations Bands, such as the Osoyoos and Musqueam, have invested over the years in improving standards of the homes. Not all Bands have been able address the problems easily due to financial challenges, and in many cases there is little or no government support. The result is a lack of proper homes.

Native leaders have been looking for a housing solution that doesn’t bankrupt the community. Knotty Pine Cabins could be part of the solution. Since 2007, Knotty Pine Cabins has been selling beautiful pre-fabricated cabins at affordable prices. A family-owned and operated business, their primary goal is to develop strong relationships with clients by providing them with the highest quality cabins and friendliest service in Canada.

Knotty Pine Cabin interior.

Knotty Pine Cabin interior.

With Knotty Pine Cabins pre-fabricated options, assembly is simple. A majority of Knotty Pine customers build their own cabins. If clients prefer assistance, Knotty Pine has excellent teams of professional and friendly installers who would be more than happy to help. They can also work with you to custom-design a pre-fabricated cabin that fits your needs.

Cabin sizes start at 12 ft wide and go up to 24 ft wide. The cost for a 12’x12′ starts at an affordable $9,700 and up to $17,400 for a 12’x24′ plan. The 12’x16′ design starts at $11,900. The 12’x20′ begins at $15,200. The roomy 20’x20′ starts at $26,800 and up to $43,400- for a 20’x40′ floorplan. The most luxurious layout starts at 24’x24′ for $38,200 and peaks at $64,800 for a 24’x48′ cabin.

Knotty Pine Cabin interior.

Knotty Pine Cabin interior.

Knotty Pine wants their customers to feel they have been treated well, and they want you to have a unique and personalized cabin home. No matter what size cabin you choose, you can add your choice of windows, lofts, floors, and more with their comprehensive list of customizable cabin options. Your new cabin can be designed with a purpose in mind. It could be your new family home, become a vacation destination, or serve as guest quarters. The cabins are beautiful and practical, in addition to being affordable, and there is no company selling houses that offer everything that Knotty Pine does. Fashionable, yet not pretentious, your home can be comfortable and practical and designed exactly the way you wanted.

Blaine Mc Donald is only a phone call away to help make your dream home come true, and he can bring it right to you. His motto is “Shipping Homes to First Nations across Canada.” He will explain to you all the advantages of owning a Knotty Pine Cabin and how to maintain your new home. Ask about custom sizing packages. To purchase a cabin or get more information, contact Blaine McDonald at (778)-878-0689 or e-mail [].

Parents Can Motivate Their Children To Go To University

Tips for KidsIn a recent survey, ten successful men and women were asked what part education had in their success and whether their parents supported them and encouraged them to attend university or college. Not surprisingly, all praised their parents for helping them through their childhood and convincing them of the importance of post-secondary education.

There is a fine balance for parents who are dealing with children going through the rebellious period of the teenage years. Parents must be strong, strict, yet understanding and patient while at the same time trying to convince their children that going to university has to be their own decision or it will be destined for failure.

The communication lines must be open. Playing sports—any sport—with children can be a healthy way of communicating with your children on another level. Introducing children to books or music and helping them work through personal problems can create a closer ties and strengthen a parent’s bond with a child. This is very important because as they get older and are dealing with school, friends, growing up, and eventually relationships with the opposite sex, the communication lines with your children could suffer unless you the parent take into consideration the changes your children going through.

Communication is pivotal. It’s important to talk to your children to show that you’re interested and there to help. Bring discussions about career choices and interests to the kitchen table. Talk to your children about positive work experiences you’ve had. This sends the message that work can be meaningful and enjoyable. Balance is important, too. Let your children see that life is a combination of hard work and enjoyment. Also, you must let them know that you have made mistakes, but they helped you grow. Billionaire Bill Gates stated that he only hires people who have tried and failed; the will to succeed will get stronger if you made it through tough times.

Use time spent in the car to ask your children about their interests and activities. Get involved in an activity that you can do with your children. Make a list of occupations of interest. Each month, select an occupation to explore and discuss with your children. There are a multitude of high tech jobs that have been created in the last 20 years, for example. Find out what university or college degree can prepare your children for a position in high tech. Clip out career articles and put them on the fridge for everyone to see and discuss. This will open the door to post-secondary education discussion.

Explore music, books, websites, movies, TV shows, sports, and other things your children are interested in. Use these as starting points for career-related discussions. As a parent, you play a key role in helping your children succeed. In fact, you are you are your child’s head coach. Keep in mind that your teenage child needs to find an occupation that fits their skills, interests, values, and beliefs right now. As they journey through life, they’ll continue to evaluate and adjust their career plans in response to external factors like a shift in their interests or a change in their life circumstances.

Be observant and generous with your praise. Pay attention to how your teenage son or daughter spends their spare time because it is often a clue to what they are good at. Share what you enjoy about your own job. Talk about how your values, interests, skills, and personality link to your work.

Career planning is a lifelong journey, and the cycle repeats over and over again. Every journey has its unexpected turns. As your teenage child makes occupational choices, things may happen to change their plans. Help your child prepare for the good and the bad along their journey and discuss the importance of having a backup plan.

Brian Tracy, a specialist on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness, says, “If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent, and you will have given your children the greatest of all gifts.”