Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies Enhances Indigenous Reconciliation at Trent University

Academic requirement for Indigenous course content and new lecture series featuring Indigenous leaders also among key recommendations approved by University Senate


 
Trent University announced a significant addition to its 48-year history instilling Indigenous reconciliation in the institution’s everyday work with the approval of 11 key recommendations, among them the naming of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies.

Coinciding with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the announcement of the newly-named School was among a substantial series of recommendations, furthering Trent’s leadership in Indigenous reconciliation and education. The recommendations include an innovative lecture-talk series that will bring prominent Indigenous leaders to the University to speak on Indigenous issues, and a new academic requirement for all undergraduate students to successfully complete at least 0.5 credits from an approved list of courses with Indigenous content. With this recommendation, Trent becomes only the third university in Canada to institute mandatory Indigenous course content.

“The naming of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies and the implementation of the associated recommendations are a milestone in the evolution of Indigenous Studies at Trent. We aim to educate indigenous and non-indigenous students about Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and ways of knowing,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “National Aboriginal Day is a good day to celebrate these initiatives, but we are striving to make Indigenous reconciliation part of our everyday work and consciousness.”

The naming of the new School honours the life and history of Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who died in his attempt to escape residential school in 1966. The Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies brings together Trent’s undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. programs under one School and unites various events, initiatives and spaces dedicated to Indigenous perspectives, knowledge and culture at the University. Prior to the launch of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, Trent University paid tribute to Chanie and other residential school victims and survivors when Wenjack Theatre, the largest lecture hall on campus, was named in his honour in 1973.

“This is the latest effort in Trent’s well-known 48-year record of Indigenous reconciliation,” said David Newhouse, director of the School, and chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent. “We will continue to honour the life of Chanie Wenjack and recognize the impact that residential schools had on Indigenous peoples through the work that we plan to undertake at Trent. Our goal at the Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies is to constantly advance the knowledge of and about Indigenous peoples with a view to the overall improvement of quality of life and to contribute to the creation of places of respect, dignity and power for Indigenous peoples.”

Additional initiatives listed among the recommendations approved by the University’s Senate include:

  • Launch of new Indigenous Research Centre – uniting researchers across the University who share an interest in Indigenous issues;
  • Redesign of Native Studies Reading Room into Centre for Indigenous Learning –housed in the newly renovated Bata Library in fall 2018, his new space will feature a display of significant documents, including the Williams Treaty and other Indigenous documents that are significant to the history of the territory on which Trent is located;
  • Creation of Indigenous Knowledges & Pedagogies Working Group – within the Centre for Teaching and Learning, this group will assist faculty in the design, or review and redesign of courses, and in the creation of new course offerings;
  • Establishment of a permanent sub-committee of Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC) to recommend and periodically review courses on the Approved Indigenous Course list; and
  • Review of Research Office portfolio and operations with aim of developing and/or adjusting current policies to raise awareness of, and respect for, Indigenous people.

“These approved recommendations help set the way forward for the next phase of Trent’s work on Indigenous reconciliation,” said Dr. Jacqueline Muldoon, provost and vice-president Academic at Trent. “Over the course of the University’s first half century, our focus was centred on the development of Indigenous programming. Looking ahead, our goals are to ensure that our foundation supporting Indigenous reconciliation remains strong and that we extend it to encompass key institutional sites and processes so that reconciliation becomes fully engrained into our everyday work as a university.”

Trent’s leadership in Indigenous Studies dates back to 1969 when the University became the first in Canada, and only the second in North America, to establish an academic department dedicated to the study of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous knowledges. Trent was the first university in Canada to create unique Indigenous spaces, hire Indigenous student support staff, recruit and admit Indigenous students through special entry programs, and to teach Indigenous languages and Indigenous Knowledge with elders and traditional peoples. A full timeline of the University’s history of leadership in Indigenous education can be viewed at the new website for the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at trentu.ca/indigenous.


 

About Chanie Wenjack
Chanie Wenjack was a young Anishinaabe boy from Ogoki Post in Marten Falls in Northern Ontario, Canada. He attended Celia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario. The school was run by the Women’s Society of the Presbyterian Church. Chanie attended the school for two years and ran away on Oct 16, 1966. He was headed home when he died of exposure on October 23, 1966 on the railway tracks near Redditt, Ontario, the home of his uncle.

About Trent University
One of Canada’s top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that’s personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Trent’s unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than
ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent’s students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent’s Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham – Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
The land on which Trent University is located is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga adjacent to Haudenosaunee Territory and in the territory covered by Treaty 20 and the Williams Treaties.

Blackfoot Actor Embracing International Recognition for Role in ‘Wonder Woman’

Cast of Wonder Woman
 

Eugene Brave Rock is the Blackfoot actor from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta, who is enjoying world-wide recognition for his role as “Chief,” a.k.a. “Napi,” in Wonder Woman, one of the highest grossing films of 2017. I had the chance to talk with Brave Rock and discuss how his latest role has given him international recognition, including a recent “Headdress Honour Ceremony” bestowed upon him by his own First Nation.

First, we have to include some of his film and TV acting accomplishments like The Revenant, Big Thunder TV series, Blackstone, Tin Star, Klondike and Timeless. Originally, Brave Rock began work in the industry as a movie and TV stuntman but has embraced his acting chops and grown into a fine actor.

The role as “Chief” in the DC Universe Wonder Woman came out-of-the-blue when he was on vacation and his agent contacted him to audition for a role at Warner Brothers studios. When Brave Rock asked his agent details on the part he was told the studio would give him the lines for the character when he arrived in Hollywood for his first reading.

This would be his first film audition with a major Hollywood studio and Brave Rock said he was a bit excited. Not knowing for which film he was reading made the experience even more nerve-wracking.

Eugene Brave Rock in his role as The Chief

Eugene Brave Rock in his role as “The Chief”

“I was pretty overwhelmed. I was going to the Warner Brothers studios,” Brave Rock said. “I totally blanked when I read off the script and I thought, ‘Oh well, I screwed that one up.’”

Casting told him he “nailed it” in the audition. Brave Rock said he was surprised they would say that. “Well, I thought, ‘Oh, they were just being nice and that’s probably the last I would hear from them,’” said Brave Rock.

It turned-out Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins liked something in Brave Rock and a second audition was requested and he was offered the role.

“I was completely shocked that I got the role. I then asked what the role was for but they would not initially tell me because it was ‘top secret,’” said Brave Rock.

Eventually he was told he would be “Chief” in the upcoming movie version of Wonder Woman, but that he couldn’t tell anyone he landed the role in the big budget film, not even his wife.

Brave Rock said he enjoyed working with Gal Gadot, the actor who landed the coveted role as the Amazon Princess turned Wonder Woman.

“You know she was amazing, down-to-earth, and it’s so nice to see someone in that position to be just one of the guys and spend time with all the actors; the whole cast had such an awesome time and there was a lot of good vibes on set during filming,” said Brave Rock.

Filming took over seven months in England and other locations in Europe, with four months of straight shooting. Brave Rock says he flew over the Atlantic Ocean ten times to re-shoot scenes but there were no complaints as he enjoyed the process. Plus, he wanted to get his character performance right.

In the film, when Wonder Woman and Chief first meet one another, they talk to each other in the Blackfoot language – Brave Rock’s traditional language and the original language of over 40,000 Blackfoot people from the Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Peigan Nation, and from the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. It was the director’s idea to introduce Chief in his Blackfoot language and they both agreed they did not want to stereotype the character even though growing up, when someone called Brave Rock “Chief,” he said “those were fighting words.”

Blackfoot is the only non-English language not subtitled in the film as it is purposely left-out by director Jenkins for dedicated fans to uncover. It didn’t take long. Certain viewers revealed that during their introductions Chief introduced himself as “Napi,” a Blackfoot demi-god.

Napi is the culture hero of the Blackfoot tribe (sometimes referred to as a “transformer” by folklorists). He is a trickster, a troublemaker, and sometimes a foolish person, but he is also responsible for shaping the world the Blackfoot live in and frequently helps the people. Brave Rock revealed on his Twitter that Napi was an actual part of the script.

Is this a big deal? Of course it is. Not only for the character, but also for the overall DC Universe (DCU). It means several things. For starters, it means that Greek Gods are not the only “real” mythological deities in the DCU. Just like in the comics, there are several pantheons out there.

Second, it means that as a demi-god, Chief is ageless, much like Wonder Woman, and could show-up again in a future Wonder Woman film, or maybe another part of the DCU.

In a compelling scene, Wonder Woman asks Chief why he isn’t fighting on either side of the war and Chief replies he doesn’t have anything to fight for. When Wonder Woman asks about that, Chief says that Steve’s people (the white man) took it all from him.

In Hollywood, First Nation people are often portrayed as one of three stereotypes: the savage, Pocahontas, or, the medicine man. However the film industry is beginning to embrace a new kind of First Nation character: authentic, real and still here. Films like Smoke Signals, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and Fast Runner are embracing the authentic First Nations people. Chief in Wonder Woman is just the beginning.

When asked for the most challenging part of the role, Brave Rock said the role itself was not challenging because he enjoyed every minute of the production, but then added, “The most challenging part was being away from my family; I missed the birth of my son. The attack in Paris, that was a bit scary and tough.”

Brave Rock has always wished to one day be an actor and starring in this blockbuster is something special to him.

“It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid on the reserve to be an actor. There are so many stories of our culture that we can share,” Brave Rock said. “I’ll never forget where I came from. I’ve lived in Forest Lawn (Calgary neighbourhood), Bannock Street in Lethbridge, and of course Kainai (Blood Tribe).”

Now the question is: Will the franchise decide to bring back the character of Chief in Wonder Woman 2 or any other DCU production? This is a question Brave Rock couldn’t answer since there is so much secrecy involved with a sequel.

As for the future, Brave Rock will be in post-production as a stunt performer in an upcoming film. He is enjoying the amazing response to Wonder Woman and how it has ignited his acting career.

“I will take every opportunity that is there, there are so many stories out there,” said Brave Rock.

The Drum is Calling Festival


 
This is one event you don’t want to miss! The Drum is Calling Festival is a one of a kind, once in a lifetime event, providing an opportunity for everyone to celebrate Vancouver’s three Host Nations. Saturday July 22 celebrate the opening of this Festival with a free pancake breakfast for the first 500 guests arriving at Larwill Park (688 Cambie + Georgia).

The City of Vancouver, the world’s first official City of Reconciliation, has created the Drum is Calling Festival in partnership with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. This 9-day festival will feature cultural traditions, traditional and cutting-edge arts, music, dance, film, poetry, PowWow, and much more.

Highlighting the festival will be stellar performances from iconic artists such as singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, northern Ontario rockers Midnight Shine, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Starr, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long.


 
Additional highlights will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata Festival on Turtle Island. The inaugural Indigenous Fashion Week is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitton. The show will feature the consolidated and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling. While Having Soup is a powerful installation in which over the amount of time it takes to consume a bowl of soup, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Vancouverites will engage in a “three-course” dialogue about charged issues during Canada 150+.

There will be hands-on workshops, and live programming inside the site including Theatre for Young People presented by Shaw Communications Inc., carving and weaving workshops, play readings, curated short films by the National Film Board, From Oral to Written presented in partnership with Talonbooks and the Vancouver Writers Fest and the best of authentic Indigenous artisans, vendors and food. Exhibition games and a Basketball tournament will be taking place in adjacent streets. A spectacular night of intercultural drumming will ignite the thunderous power of dancers and drummers from around the world and is led by renowned percussionist and cultural collaborator Sal Ferraras.


 
Festivalgoers will experience something new every day. The artistic and cultural program will be in sync with the theme of each day, starting July 22 with 3-Host Nation Day, and followed up with Our Elders Day, Matriarch Day, 7 Generations – Youth Day Presented by Shaw Communications Inc., Warriors Day, Friendship Day, Gathering Our Relations Day, Transformation Day and closing the festival on July 30 with Intertribal In Action Day.

Oh, did I mention, all events are FREE! Taking place in the heart of downtown at Larwill Park, bounded by Cambie & Beatty streets and Georgia and Dunsmuir streets in downtown Vancouver, everyone is welcome. Those activities taking place at the Queen Elizabeth theatre and Vancouver Playhouse theatre require tickets. Tickets are free and links to register online are available at canada150plus.ca/drum/

Friends and families alike can share what we all have in common – our joys, fears, hopes and dreams through film, song, literature and dance.
For information and full schedule of events visit canada150plus.ca

In the Deepest, Darkest Parts of Our Hearts

You must admit you’ve had evil little thoughts from time to time. We’ve all had them, because we’ve all wished ill on another. Even the most holy-roller has the devil to curse.
Don’t feel bad if you wished your neighbor’s yappy mutt got laryngitis and had to go to a peaceful farm in the country.
In the minds of most people, that’s where it ends. For others, they may continue to obsess about that dumb beast until they too become dumb beasts.
Rage can be triggered from something as simple as a drive in the car.
Who among us hasn’t wondered about the mentality of the person in the passing lane who is matching speed with another mental case in the slow lane? Don’t they have mirrors to see the ever growing line-up of cars behind them?
Is the driver purposely playing traffic cop, or, are they just inconsiderate Canadians?
Maybe they’re unaware they are the ones breaking the law. I’m sure they too have seen those signs along the road reading: “SLOWER DRIVERS KEEP RIGHT or KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS.”
Ah, that felt good to express myself. I sincerely hope I’m doing the same for my readers and all people in the rear view mirror.
But this is where we, as a civil society, should draw the line. To cross the line between sanity and road rage is as easy as choosing between the force of good and the dark side.
Rage is just one of the multitudes of triggers that can cause someone to get violent or have an emotional meltdown that makes Chernobyl look like dripping wax.
If rages are red and melancholy is blue, that leaves jealousy, the green-eyed monster, and you.
Let’s imagine you yearn for an unattainable heart and a golden future. Then some loser, whom you went to school with, buys a winning lottery ticket at the same place where you just bought a loser ticket. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the lucky schmuck then marries your dream and goes on to have three very ugly children.
I wonder if you could then look me in the eye and tell me that you never had any nasty little day-dreams about your old schoolmate? If you could honestly do that, then I think you deserve a medal, or at the very least a metal plate for your head.
To wish upon a star is a wonderful childhood memory, but to seek out vengeance is a childish act. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t wish the villain their comeuppance; just don’t take the yappy mutt to a peaceful farm in the country.
I do see a bright future for humanities’ dark thoughts. Man comes from a violent history marred by wars and hatred. I’m sure there was a time if some chariot driver cut you off in traffic it was punishable by beheading.
If you are seeing red, green or feeling blue, don’t seek the blackness of revenge, seek help instead. Talk to a buddy, or, do what I do: draw pictures of grumpy people and poke holes in it.
For those who can’t draw, just imagine you’re the loser from high school and you just won $50 million dollars and go on to have three beautiful children.
THE END
Email Bernie Bates at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca

Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre at NorQuest College Providing Opportunity for Determined, Goal-Oriented Women



Depending on how one looks at it, patience is either a rewarding virtue or the procrastinator’s guide to failure. Many have excelled thanks to deliberate thought. However, there has been equal success gained by those who don’t just wait around for good things to happen.

Take Regan Gamble, for example. Contrary to her surname, the 40-year-old was leaving nothing to chance when she arrived in Edmonton looking for career options in the fall of 2015. That’s why one of the first places she visited was the Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre (AACCC) at NorQuest College. “I knew that there were organizations out there that could help me,” says Gamble, a member of the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan. “I just needed to get out there and find them. Once I heard about the Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre, I was completely drawn to it.”

Another good part to this story is Gamble is now working full-time as an engagement advisor with Edmonton’s Women Building Futures (WBF). WBF is one of this province’s leading educational institutions preparing women for work in trade industries like electrician, carpenter, Class I Driver, and other heavy equipment operators. WBF has a record of career success for women within these industries at a consistent employment rate of 90 per cent.
But before that happened, Gamble needed help in her new city. Initially, she thought of going into the safety side of the construction industry so she used Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre (AACCC), services to help earn safety tickets through the Alberta Construction Safety Association.

Through it all she was given emotional support by AACCC staff as a newcomer to Edmonton, provided with help to find information for things like funding, was given assistance with writing resumes and cover letters, and offered a treasure trove of contacts of employers and other helpful services. “I got everything I needed. The centre completely catered to my needs,” said Gamble. Which brings us back to the now. Feeling confident thanks to the AACCC’s support, and using one of her many provided contacts, she reached out to WBF to see if there was any way she could help. In the end, following an extensive interview, a way was discovered.

Seeing her tenacity and determination, WBF recognized Gamble would be a valuable asset when it came to attracting other Indigenous women to the trades. So today, because she reached out and asked for help, because she utilized the training and services the AACCC provides, and because she promoted her existing and new talents with confidence, Gamble has more than a job – she has a career.

Angry Inuk: Looking into Impacts of Seal Hunt Bans

In 1983, after animal activists groups like Green Peace were able to convince the European Union to ban products made from whitecoat harp seal pups, everything changed for the worst for Inuit people in the Canadian arctic. If that wasn’t enough, yet another ban in 2009 by the European Union caused even more hardship for the Inuit people who rely on their seal hunt to sustain their livelihood, their culture and economy.

“Angry Inuk,” a film by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, enlightens viewers by providing background on the reality behind the anti-seal hunt demonstrations and those using whitecoat harp seal pups as their slogan. By portraying the helpless baby white seal as their poster darling, animal activists have been able to, time and again, convince world governments and the public that hunting seals is “evil and cruel” and unnecessary.

Arnaquq-Baril is narrator for the compelling documentary, which was filmed over a seven-year period beginning in the spring of 2008. The film shows the pristine landscape of the Nunavut Territory in the Canadian Arctic and looks into the Inuit people and their way of life. It explains how the seal hunt is so much a fundamental part of Inuit culture.

In one scene, Aaju Peter, a seal skin designer and a lawyer for Inuit Seal Hunting Rights, is admiring a picture of two children with their faces smeared with seal blood while enjoying eating seal. Peter explains, “To other people, this probably looks scary. But to us, this is cute.”

After the 1983 seal hunt ban was imposed, most Inuit people had no choice but to move away from their traditional grounds and into town because the price of seal skin completely crashed. Most Inuit had to find odd jobs creating carvings and perform whatever other jobs they could find. But the Inuit still had to hunt seal for food.

Arnaquq-Baril said the 1983 ban was their “Great Depression” as it was a life altering event for the Inuit. Within a year of the ban the suicide rate spiked even higher and has risen to rank among the highest globally ever since.

“Suicide was once a rare thing in the Inuit community. As a result of traumas from residential school abuse, forestry relocation, and other destructive government policies, Inuit people began taking their lives at alarming rates,” narrates Arnaquq-Baril in “Angry Inuk.” “In 1983 it was yet another layer of stress on our communities causing widespread hunger and hardships.”

In 2009, the filmmaker followed a group of Inuit representative who traveled to the European Union Parliament to voice their opinion on banning the seal hunt. The viewer will see their efforts were futile and did not change world leaders’ minds on the vote.

“Angry Inuk” is a film worth watching and may even change your thoughts on the Seal Hunt Ban lobbied for by Green Peace – an organization responsible for successfully implanting the erroneous image of the “evil and killing of the baby white seal” in the minds of those not educated to the facts of Inuit life.

UBC Faculty of Medicine Aboriginal Admissions Program Celebrating 15 Successful Years

UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Aboriginal Admissions Program 2017 graduates. Alex Sheppard, back row center, James Andrews, right of center back row. Photo credit: Kevin Ward

The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine Aboriginal Admissions program is on track to graduate over 100 med students by 2020 says, James Andrews, University of British Columbia (UBC), Aboriginal Student Initiatives Coordinator. “This year is our 15 year anniversary for the program, and as of May 2017, with seven new med students graduating, we have reached 71 Aboriginal graduates,” Andrews said.

Interest in the program has grown since it began in 2002, the year they received seven applicants, of which two were admitted. Designed to increase the number of Aboriginal medical students and physicians in British Columbia, the program now averages 20 to 25 applicants per year.

Academic success of Aboriginal students is contingent upon early educational engagement. Programs such as the pre-admissions workshop (conducted by the Division of Aboriginal People’s Health) introduce science and medical career role-models to young Aboriginal students where academic success is fostered by early engagement and recruitment. Aboriginal MD students also serve as mentors to applicants in the pre-admissions stage and forge strong relationships and a system of peer support.

Andrews explained many individuals praise the Aboriginal medical program and hope it continues to thrive. “My response is, we still have decades to go and we need at least 300 Aboriginal physicians in B.C. in order to make an impact on our Aboriginal people’s health; we aren’t even a quarter of the way there yet. In Canada we need 3,000 Aboriginal physicians, but the best guestimate is 300 and our work isn’t close to being done,” said Andrews.

About 60 per cent of the program’s Aboriginal graduates have trained and are training to become family doctors, while the remaining graduates are in surgical specialties and other specialties like psychiatry. Aboriginal med graduates are choosing to practice medicine in the community, such as one graduate who is now a family doctor with a practice in Vancouver’s Lumar Housing complex.

As graduates help meet the need of more family doctors in B.C. and throughout Canada, the program continues to improve its curriculum in Aboriginal health. Alex Sheppard, Cree and Metis from Alberta, and one of the seven graduates this year, said she would definitely recommend the UBC Aboriginal Medical program to Aboriginal students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

“I think they are a leader in Canada for Aboriginal medical education with a separate Aboriginal admissions process and support for Aboriginal students during our four years of training,” Sheppard said. “All of the Aboriginal medical students also had the opportunity to take part in an Aboriginal orientation week before first year started, where we all got to know each other and take part in a number of cultural activities. We also had yearly Aboriginal retreats that allowed us to stay connected to one another and to our heritage.”

Sheppard plans to move to Newfoundland for two years for a residency in family medicine. She is in a program called NunaFam, which involves spending six months of second year training in Iqaluit. “I’m really looking forward to being immersed in rural generalist medicine and to further cultivate my interest in Aboriginal Health,” said Sheppard.

Sheppard said there are a number of health disparities facing Aboriginal communities across Canada today and she thinks, in general, there is a lot of room for improvement in how they deliver healthcare to the unique Aboriginal populations. “As a general practitioner, I hope to be able to work in these communities and have some opportunity to make changes on a systemic level,” said Sheppard.

During her time in medicine, Sheppard said she has been lucky enough to meet amazing Aboriginal residents and doctors who’ve taught her a great deal and inspire her every day. “I know what I have learned from them will inform my practice for many years to come,” said Sheppard.

I asked the UBC Aboriginal Student Initiatives Coordinator what students interested in gaining admittance into the Aboriginal Medical Program need to do to qualify. “Because the Undergraduate MD program is a professional degree, we require students to excel in their academic and non-academic endeavors,” Andrews said. “Academically, they should have strong marks, grades, and a relatively good MCAT score (Medical College Admissions Test). Non-academically, students should have demonstrated they can work with people through their volunteer and or work experiences.”

Border Tribal Council and SIGA Break Ground on Lloydminster Casino Development

Lloydminster Casino Rendering Photo Courtesy of Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority



Lloydminster, SK –

The Border Tribal Council and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) held a sod turning ceremony today to mark the official groundbreaking for the Lloydminster casino development – this will be SIGA’s seventh entertainment destination in Saskatchewan.
Chiefs Wallace Fox and Wayne Semaganis, from Onion Lake Cree Nation and Little Pine First Nation, respectively, on behalf of the Border Tribal Council revealed plans for the Eagle Park West development and reaffirmed their eagerness to expedite construction of the new casino.
Chief Reginald Bellerose, Board Chair for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, speaks to the key partnerships involved.

“On behalf of SIGA, we’re excited to officially be in the ground and to continue working with the Border Tribal Council to make this development a reality. This casino will not only benefit the community of Lloydminster but all First Nations of Saskatchewan, and is only possible through the positive partnerships between the FSIN, Border Tribal Council, Little Pine First Nation and the City of Lloydminster.”

The land for the development is owned by Little Pine First Nation, which is responsible for site development. The casino property will be leased to SIGA by the Border Tribal Council, the facility landlord, which will be responsible, alongside SIGA, for the facility development. SIGA will operate the casino and follow the same profit distribution model as its other six casinos as outlined in the Gaming Framework Agreement, with profits being administered by the Province of Saskatchewan.

Breaking Ground on the Lloydminster Casino ProjectPhoto Courtesy of Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority


50% is shared with the First Nations Trust which is distributed to Saskatchewan First Nation communities;
25% is shared with regional Community Development Corporations (CDCs) which are situated in the casino locations and benefit local initiatives;
25% is shared with the provincial government’s General Revenue Fund.

“The new casino will have significant benefits for Lloydminster – it will create local employment, provide funding for city services, non-profit and charitable organizations, and it will support local businesses through service agreements and by attracting tourism dollars to the community,” says Zane Hansen, President and CEO, Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.

Participating in the sod turning ceremony were First Nation Elders, representatives from the FSIN, Border Tribal Council, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Little Pine First Nation, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, and from various levels of government.

SIGA continues to strengthen the lives of First Nation people through employment, economic growth and community relations. SIGA operates six other casinos in Saskatchewan in North Battleford, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Yorkton and on the White Bear First Nation near Carlyle. SIGA’s casinos offer a distinctive First Nations entertainment experience that reflects the traditional aspects of First Nations heritage and hospitality.

Just Announced Tanya Tagaq to perform at The Drum is Calling Festival this July

TANYA TAGAQ – photo by Katrin Braga

Playing to major festivals and packed houses all over the world you don’t want to miss

Experimental vocalist and artist Tanya Tagaq who will be headlining The Drum is Calling Festival on July 24 at Larwill Park. This award-winning Inuk throat singer released her latest album Retribution in 2016 and in 2014 won the Polaris Prize for best Canadian album for Animism.

BUFFY SAINT MARIE

The City of Vancouver’s Canada 150+ signature event The Drum is Calling is a nine-day, immersive festival of Indigenous and diverse arts and culture. Highlighting the festival will be stellar performances from iconic artists such as singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie who will be the opening headliner, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, northern Ontario rockers Midnight Shine, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Starr, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long.

For those drum lovers, a must-see will be a spectacular night of Drums over Salish Sea in July 27. This intercultural drumming will ignite the thunderous power of dancers and drummers from around the world and is led by renowned percussionist and cultural collaborator Sal Ferraras.

Artistic Program

Saturday July 22:        Bitterly Divine, Murray Porter, Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sunday July 23:           William Prince, Crystal Shawanda, Tom Jackson
Monday July 24:          Amanda Rheaume, Susan Aglukark,Tanya Tagaq
Tuesday July 25:          Shamik Bilgi, Boom Booms with Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Midnight Shine
Wednesday July 26:   Dj Kookum
Thursday July 27:        The Jerry Cans, Drums over the Salish Sea
Friday July 28:            Donny Parenteau, Sierra Noble, Chantal Kreviazuk
Saturday July 29:        George Leach, Kinnie Starr, DJ Shub
Sunday July 30:           Leonard Sumner, Leela Gilday, Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long

Attendees can expect much more than just music; additional highlights will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata Festival on Turtle Island. While Having Soup is a powerful installation in which over the amount of time it takes to consume a bowl of soup, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Vancouverites will engage in a “three-course” dialogue about charged issues during Canada 150+.

SHANE KOYCZAN

As part of the festival, the inaugural Indigenous Fashion Week will feature the super-stars and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling. The show is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitton.

Other forms of art will include carving exhibitions, curated short films by the National Film Board, Theatre for Young people presented by Shaw Communications Inc., and From Oral to Written presented in partnership with the Vancouver Writers Fest.

CHANTAL KREVIAZUK

Artistic Director Margo Kane and the curators have themed each day, so festival-goers will experience something new at every return visit. From honouring our Host Nations to Elders and Matriarch to Youth, Warriors, and Friends, the themes bring together cultural presentations such as theatre, play readings, carving and weaving workshops, literary and speaker series, and film screenings. The best of authentic Indigenous artisans, vendors and food will be on site to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

The Festival’s main venue Larwill Park will feature a festival zone with stages, food and craft vendors, exhibits and more. Activities and performances will also take place at adjacent streets and plazas, including other venues such as Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Playhouse Theatre.

Events are free however some indoor venues may require advance registration. For more information on these events and programming for Celebration 150+ please visit the website at canada150plus.ca

Siksika Nation Teen Impresses Top Alberta Hockey Coach

Mandi Running Rabbit (mom), Anson McMaster, and Trevor Running Rabbit (dad)


 

Anson McMaster from the Siksika Nation recently helped Team South win the Alberta Cup Bantam Hockey Championships in a tournament held for the Top 160 bantam hockey players in that province.
“The Alberta Cup Championships takes place a week before the hockey drafts and is a higher level than the Bantam AAA which involves the top 160 hockey players in Alberta,” said Jamie Steer, head coach for Team South.
“They are split into eight teams and this year Alberta South won the championship!”
Steer named McMaster the team’s assistant captain for the hockey tournament at the first try-outs. “It was fairly easy because Anson is one of the best. He skates really well both forward and backwards, and he works really hard,” Steer said. “He’s a quiet leader, a front-of-the-line player. One thing I noticed as the tournament progressed is he got better. I always tell my players if a team gets better every game, they’ll win the tournament.”
At the team’s awards banquet, the 14 year old, 6 feet 4 inch tall, 175 pound McMaster won Defensemen of the Year, Top Scorer, and Most Valuable Player, plus the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League chose him as Top Defensemen of the Year for the South Division.
I asked McMaster what he thought about winning the Alberta Cup with Team South, and his recent awards and recognition while playing for the Rocky Mountain Raiders.
“It was a pretty good experience playing with the best hockey players in the province, and winning wasn’t bad as well,” said McMaster.
During the Alberta Cup, McMaster was chosen Game Star for one of the games as Team South went on to defeat Team Northwest 5-1 in the championship game.
Among his most recent achievements, McMaster was just drafted 23rd overall in the WHL bantam draft by Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. His parents, Mandi and Trevor Running Rabbit, are very proud of their son and instill education as a top priority.
“We are so proud and happy for our boy. He’s worked so hard through training five times a week and also keeping up his school average to 85%,” Mandi said. “We as parents have always told our kids that if they keep up with their education they can do anything they want, and for Anson that is to make it as far as he can in hockey, plus getting his schooling done along the way.”
McMaster appears to be listening to his parents as he told First Nations Drum he’s just finishing Grade 9 at the Crowther Memorial Junior High School in Strathmore, Alberta.
“Math is my favourite subject with an 85 percent average. I would like one day, maybe after hockey, possibly being a scientist.”
His favourite NHL player is Shea Webber, and if he had a choice to play for an NHL team it would definitely be his favourite team to cheer for, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
McMaster is on his way toward a bright future, and coach Steer thinks the same.
“So far he`s heading in the right direction. He’s 6 – 4, he needs to gain more body weight, needs to get stronger, and with his growth spurt he’ll continue working hard on his hockey skills. Anything is possible with this kid,” said coach Steer.