Standing Rock Continues to Gather Worldwide Support

by Kelly Many Guns

Since our last report on Standing Rock, there have been many new developments. There has been a growth in worldwide support, daily social media updates, law enforcement and the military using excess force when arresting water protectors, a high profile U.S. politician rallying support, and a major bank selling its assets out of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In mid-September, Energy Transfer Partners – the oil company building the Dakota Access Pipeline – hired law enforcement and military from local and surrounding States to enforce aggression against the water protectors. Arrests continue daily at Standing Rock. Over two-hundred water protectors were arrested, some women allegedly were stripped and locked in dog cages, and military officials shot tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds.

Last week, the front lines of protesters blocking the Dakota Access pipeline looked like this. Photo: Desiree Kane / YES! Magazine

Last week, the front lines of protesters blocking the Dakota Access pipeline looked like this. Photo: Desiree Kane / YES! Magazine

In a recent press conference, David Archambault, chairman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, says there have been false, unverified stories printed in the media about the peaceful protestors and water protectors. This includes a story about a woman firing a gun at law enforcement, and the North Dakota media ran with that. Another story stated that arrows were being shot at low flying aircraft’s.

“These press releases go out and diminish what we’ve been trying to accomplish, making us look like villains,” Archambault said. “This is an unfortunate time at Standing Rock, and I can honestly say we have the right to be on that land because that land was illegally taken from us, according to the 1851 Treaty.” According to Achambault, the state of North Dakota has laws that corporations cannot own farm or ranch lands without a pre-approved business, and that did not happen with Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).

Photo by Ryan Vizzions

Photo by Ryan Vizzions

“Energy Transfer Partners asked the State of North Dakota to step in and remove us, saying we were trespassing on our own land, and that’s just not right,” informs Archambault. “So the North Dakota law enforcement and the surrounding states came in with aggression, using weapons to force innocent people back.”

Over forty people were injured in the first clash with officers suited in riot gear against the pipeline protesters, including welts from rubber bullets, and tear gas shot from cannons. Archambault says it is wrong to use that type of force on innocent people on their own land.

“It seems like Energy Transfer Partners is getting protection, and this is what we’re up against,” he says. “We’re standing up for water and that has been our focus. Water is the most important thing, and not just for us, for everyone.”

The chairman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continued by saying that they’re up against state officials who support the pipeline. They support oil production, elected state officials receiving oil industry contributions, flawed federal laws, unions saying Standing Rock supporters are trying to shut down employment for them, and Donald Trump, who has a direct investment interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“So the oil industry is a powerful conglomerate, and we’re up against all these forces”

says Achambault. “All we have is support, unity, prayers, and we still have a chance.” Everyone can still benefit from this opportunity to stop or reroute this pipeline and not put our Tribes and everyone’s water at risk. He says it can be done.

ROBYN BECK VIA GETTY IMAGES

ROBYN BECK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Archambault believes that they should be investing in refurbishing and remodelling every pipeline that is under the Missouri River, and update existing pipelines. “This is about Energy Transfer Partners – they are a bad company. They have lawsuits in four different states for contaminating the environment and water. They illegally used unlicensed and untrained handlers to use guard dogs in their aggression towards the protestors. There is so many wrongs with this oil company ETP.”

In a November 17th, 2016 press release, the largest bank in Norway, DNB sold its assets in the Dakota Access pipeline. The news follows the delivery of 120,000 signatures from Greenpeace Norway and others to DNB urging the bank and other financial institutions to pull finances for the project.

“It is great that DNB has sold its assets in the disputed pipeline, and it is a clear signal that it is important that people speak out when injustice is committed. We now expect DNB to also terminate its loans for the project immediately.” Greenpeace USA spokesperson Lilian Molina said: “The writing’s on the wall for the Dakota Access pipeline – people power is winning.”

According to a U.S. publication, Energy Transfer Partner officials say they’ve followed all the rules. They point out the pipeline is not even on a reservation land. Plus, they argue that moving oil via modern pipelines is a far safer way than putting it on trucks or trains because, as statistics show, this is more prone to a crash and spill. It also says the pipeline will generate revenue and jobs for North Dakota.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, says that the pipelines are the most efficient, safe, and cost-effective way to move oil to market. “The products get there virtually 100 percent of the time without issue.” The Dakota Access Pipeline begins in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, carrying crude oil almost 1,200 miles through South Dakota and Iowa down to Illinois. The pipeline’s original path crossed the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, a city that is 90 percent Caucasian. However, when concerns were raised about a potential oil spill there, the pipeline was rerouted south to go under the river right next to the Standing Rock Reservation. The Missouri River is the Standing Rock reservations’ primary source of drinking water. The tribe says a spill there could be catastrophic for them. So when construction started, a plea for help went out.

In a recent PBS television report, the 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines across the U.S. do sometimes leak and rupture. When they do, they often spill far more oil than a single train car carries. Since 1995, there has been more than 2,000 significant accidents on oil and gas pipelines, causing about $3 billion in property damage. An example of this was in July of 2010. At least 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Michigan. It was one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history, and the costliest. Almost 5,000 acres of wetland habitat was inundated with oil. Hundreds of animals were killed. Thousands more were recovered, cleaned and released. Full recovery could take decades.

This past summer, as First Nations Drum reported, about 65,000 gallons of oil and other toxins spilled into the North Saskatchewan River, polluting the drinking water used by the James Smith Cree Nation. The Petroleum Council says those kinds of spills near the Standing Rock Reservation are very unlikely.

This pipeline is 90 feet below the river bed. It’s not going to leak right into the river, it’s got the detection equipment and the shutoff valves on each side of this pipeline,” said Ron Ness. The US Senator of Vermont and 2016 democratic nominee said that over 300 communities in the United States do not want the pipeline built. Sanders was video recorded on “Our Revolution” when he rallied a crowd in Washington on November 15th.

Sanders also said: “the issues are very clear. For hundreds of years, the native people in our country, the first Americans, have been lied to, have been cheated, and their sovereign rights have been denied to them. Today, we are saying it is time for a new approach to the Native American people, and not run a pipeline through their land.”

Sanders demands that sovereign rights of the Native American people be honoured and respected. In the midst of a major water crisis in the U.S. and around the world, he does not want to see a pipeline built and endanger clean water for millions of people.

Edwards School of Business Graduate Dana Carriere

Edward’s School of Business has been the stepping-stone for aboriginal students to make their dream come true. Edward’s provides course content that reflects the contribution of aboriginal people both economically and within their community. With an extensive, highly-integrated format, their programs develop management ability in an applied and useful way. What is more, students will learn the people skills of management such as how to manage employees, how to communicate effectively, and how to lead.

Dana Carriere is a graduate of Edward’s School of Business. Carriere grew up in Green Lake, Moose Jaw, as well as Prince Albert. In her own words, she says “the majority of my family is Cree/Metis from Cumberland House in Northern Saskatchewan. Although I didn’t grow up in Cumberland House, we spent a lot of time there. In a way, I received an education from the land as well. I learned how to fish and hunt and provide for others. I also really enjoyed school, so it was only natural that I would continue my education after graduation. I never had a ‘Plan B’, I always knew that I would attend university.”

From Left to Right: Blaine Favel (Former Chancellor, University of Saskatchewan), Adrian Waskewitch (Dana’s husband), Dana Carriere, Peter Stoicheff (President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Saskatchewan)

From Left to Right: Blaine Favel (Former Chancellor, University of Saskatchewan), Adrian Waskewitch (Dana’s husband), Dana Carriere, Peter Stoicheff (President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Saskatchewan)

Post-secondary is always a concern for students, but Carriere came prepared. Education was always her priority. “Since graduating from high school in 2005, I have achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies and Political Studies, Master of Arts with the Department of Indigenous Studies, and now a Master of Business Administration from the Edwards School of Business, all from the University of Saskatchewan.”

Carriere was determined to help native youth, so she concentrated in studies that would aid in her pre-existing knowledge of helping others. “I have always been motivated to achieve a good education, to provide opportunities for myself, and also to be a role model for others – especially Aboriginal youth,” she voices. “I have also been inspired by my parents as they have always worked hard, and have been very successful. They are also entrepreneurs, and I hope to follow in their footsteps. That is why I decided to pursue an MBA at Edwards. Even though I already had two degrees, I felt the need to get an MBA to diversify my knowledge and skills, and it provided me an opportunity to grow as a young professional. I was in the program for two-years as a part-time student. It allowed me some flexibility with my studies, as I was also busy as a student leader on campus and working as a graduate research assistant at Edwards.”

Carriere is now the President of the Indigenous Graduate Students Council, and has made her dream come true. “I took on the positions as Chair of the Indigenous Graduate Students’ Council as well as the Aboriginal Liaison for the Graduate Students’ Association since January 2014. A large part of my role was to ensure that there was an aboriginal voice at the table, and that our concerns were being heard and advocated for.”

With experience comes wisdom. Carriere has learnt that with experience comes wisdom, and that patience and understanding can go a long way. “Over the years, I have met with fellow students, staff, faculty, and senior administration, and I strongly believe in working collaboratively. This requires thoughtful, informed approaches, and a lot of patience. You often have to remind yourself that many of the people in the room with you haven’t been taught the history or challenges that Aboriginal people face, and you are constantly navigating how to provide appropriate context and teach others so that they are informed. But there has been a shift over the years, and people are more willing to listen, learn, and work towards solutions.”

Carriere has never forgotten the assistance she received at Edward’s School of Business and how it has helped her career. “When I first began the MBA at Edwards, I was a little overwhelmed and intimidated. Many of my classmates had prior experience in business, either as a commerce student or working in a business setting. My experience in business was limited, and I was primarily involved in academia, more so focused on research, data analysis, and writing. I did not have a prior business education. But I was successful in the program, and I gained a lot confidence as an MBA student and young professional. I learnt that I have a unique perspective that it is very valuable, and I brought a different kind of skillset and knowledge that was useful in individual course work, group projects, and class discussions. I have carried that forward into my employment.”

The MBA truly puts you through the grinder with all of the individual assignments, group assignments, readings, lectures, writing exams, and so on. However, you really do become stronger as a student, and it prepares you for your soon-to-be professional life. Although the program and the workload can be intimidating, you just have to keep reminding yourself of why you chose to pursue an MBA and what your personal goals are. The nice thing is that you are never alone in the MBA program. Everyone there supports one another, inside and outside of the classroom.

Children of Attawapiskat

by Danny Beaton

In Memory of Alicja Rozanska

Brian Martin, a Mohawk from Tyendinaga, told me to call this elder who was a doctor working up north with people from Attawapiskat. It was the best news I had all summer while researching the events that were unfolding for several years now. He gave me her card, so I gave Dr. A.A. Dunlop a call. She was both positive and friendly. I asked her if she knew any natives in Attawapiskat who were using traditional native culture to heal, as well as if there were any people who she thought I could connect with after telling her my background with native child and family services. Dr. Dunlop gave me the phone number of the mental health unit in Attawapiskat, and said to ask for Jane or Peggy. She told me to tell them that I was a Mohawk elder interested in bringing back traditional Cree healing ceremonies within native communities.

Young boys in Attawapiskat. Picture by Danny Beaton

Young boys in Attawapiskat. Picture by Danny Beaton

When I called the Attawapiskat hospital and asked for Peggy or Jane, the person I spoke to said it sounds like you need to talk to Joe Tipp, the head of Health Canada in Attawapiskat. Peggy and Jane were out of the office that day. I immediately called Joe Tipp, or Joe Tippeneskum, Cree elder. When he answered, I explained that I was being funded to bring back culture and ceremonies, as well as my background of organizing healing activities to the elders and youth who were suffering in their community. Joe Tipp was a positive person for me to connect with. He explained that the youth were taking a lead in efforts to bring back traditional Cree culture, but they could use my skills in organizing events that would unite the community in Attawapiskat. Joe said there were several youths organizing the sacred sweat lodge ceremony, and if I was free at night it would be good to join them. Joe mentioned we could work together in the secondary school, presenting traditional native culture to the youth in grades nine-through-thirteen, as well as anyone interested in hearing our message. As it turned out, Joe and I did present at Vezina Secondary for one morning in October.

Little boy in Attawapiskat, photo by Danny Beaton

Little boy in Attawapiskat, photo by Danny Beaton

I shared a poetic prayer addressed to a traditional Iroquois Thanksgiving. I honored creation, plant life, waters, relatives, and everything that moves on Mother Earth, in the sky, and through the air. My understanding of our Thanksgiving ceremony is it is equivalent to smoking the pipe for the Lakota, or any other indigenous way of giving thanks to the gifts of the universe and Mother Earth. We answered student questions later on, and I shared several songs on my native flutes. I play with the intent to heal and open the spirit and mind.

The students were glad to see a Mohawk and Cree elder working together for the protection of Mother Earth, and the future of generations to come. We explained that we were working for the benefit of all children, not just our own, and that every child deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. I then explained how Mohawk spiritual leader, Tom Porter, viewed all men as brothers, and all women as sisters. He mentions that this is our way of life in our country, and that it was no different in Attawapiskat. We talked about art, and the sacredness of using communication to heal, be it through writing, drawing, singing, photography, film making, and even just talking. I also explained, in the indigenous way, life, and how North American indigenous must always stand for our first law: respect for the land.

In Attawapiskat, you are surrounded by forest and bush. You have the cleanest and freshest air. I love it there. It is so quiet that I could fall fast asleep any time I lay down.

We are living in a concrete jungle in Toronto. People have forgotten how to live simply here. My wife was the best person I’d ever met. She chose to live like a Zen monk despite all of the conveniences and distractions and the fast-pace of city life. I enjoy living in Toronto because I’ve gotten a lot done here, but you can still live a good life in Attawapiskat. Once you finish high-school there, you have the opportunity to travel down south to get a college or university degree. Education is a great tool for indigenous in present day. It provides us with the ability to overcome the suffering of our past.

When my mother, uncles, aunts, and all First Nation people in Canada were put into residential schools, they lost their culture. Be it the Mohawks, the Ojibway, the Cree, the Inuit, the Haida, the Algonquin, and all of the tribes and all of the clans – our way of life was lost. Indigenous people down south recovered in a big way, but I see the Cree are still suffering from culture shock and trauma. Our elders say: when you take away the ceremonies and way of life for First Nations people, you are taking away their wisdom and connection to Mother Earth. Once a person has been traumatized, they need help or healing by a therapist or through native ceremonies. Personally, when I see how happy our people are, it is usually when they were raised with ceremonial parents. In Six Nations, there are always ceremonies and social events that bring our people together in order to honor Mother Earth and the Creator.

Today, I see many young people and adults looking for their native roots and culture because they see how broken and lost society has become. If the Cree people can get their ceremonies and cultural roots back, then they will not be hurt or broken. People have to be reminded, just like our elders had to remind us here, that we are learning up until our last breath. We have no right to take our own life, only our Great Creator can take a life when our time is up. Life is so sacred. Every minute when times get tough, we need to seek help to work out difficulties. If we had positive teachers and healers in our life, things would not get so bleak. We all need positive energy, positive thoughts, inner-beauty, love, respect, companionship, creativity, and peace. Without this in our world, negativity gets in and destroys our health.

Left: Mike Booy Mohawk from Tyendinaga, Right: Danny Beaton Six Nations Mohawk,  photo by unknown Swampy Cree Oct 2016

Left: Mike Booy Mohawk from Tyendinaga, Right: Danny Beaton Six Nations Mohawk, photo by unknown Swampy Cree Oct 2016

The residential school system did not take care of native youth or people, instead, it tore through culture and our way of life. This has be said in the case of Attawapiskat.  I heard it from the people, community, nurses, and teachers. Many northern communities need healing and resources fast. When I look at the faces of the children I worked with, I am ecstatic from the beauty of the Cree! The idiosyncrasy of the children come from the earth, wetlands, marsh, moose, bear, wolf, deer, and wounded parents. When I study trauma, this is what I see in Attawapiskat!

Many aspects of a child’s health, physical and mental, rely on this primary source of safety and stability. We need our native values and culture more than ever to fill our mind, body, and spirit with that kind of medicine. Like my uncle said: Danny, the kids need to see us laughing and having fun. They need to see us working together, singing, starting a sacred fire, loading our pipes, eating together, praying, and doing our Sacred Ceremonies in unity. They need to see us live in the way it was before residential schools. They need to see us as we were in the beginning.

MOA presents: Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures

By Kelly O’Connor

On November 19th, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC unveiled Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures, transforming the Audain Gallery into a veritable forest grove of ornate and delicate textiles. The new exhibition features culturally, spiritually, and religiously significant selections from Western Canada’s largest textile collection, on display through April 9th, 2017 in Vancouver, BC.

“From birth to death, people are wrapped in cloth. We wear clothing for warmth or protection from the sun, but also as an expression of political power, social prestige, pride in identity, and spiritual protection,” notes Dr. Jennifer Kramer, MOA Curator and Associate Professor of Anthropology at UBC. “What we value and wish to emphasize is mirrored in the clothing we wear.”

Haida hlk’yaan q’usdan (frog) k’aad gyaat’aad (button blanket) by Robert Davidson and Dorothy Grant, 1982. Photo courtesy of MOA

Haida hlk’yaan q’usdan (frog) k’aad gyaat’aad (button blanket) by Robert Davidson and Dorothy Grant, 1982. Photo courtesy of MOA

The cloth used in rites of passage, celebrations, and ceremonies embodies cultural values, identity, and connection to community. “It’s the hands of your ancestors you’re meeting,” says Kramer. Across cultures, treasured heirlooms share the spirit of generations, and some are living artifacts still in use by family members today.

Salish blankets are worn by community leaders as signs of social prestige and civic responsibility. In 1991, inspired by an ancestral robe, sisters Debra and Robyn Sparrow of the Musqueam First Nation created a Sister Blanket (on display at MOA). During Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in 1997, Chief Councillor Gail Sparrow wore this robe when she met with President Clinton. The original blanket, now in the Smithsonian collection, was made with mountain goat wool, cedar bark, and wooly dog hair.

Wild mountain goat wool was difficult to gather in quantity, but the Salish Wool Dog was once an integral part of Pacific Northwest coastal life, bred and raised specifically for its “fleece.” The long-haired white dogs were deliberately separated from other village dogs, and small “flocks” of wooly dogs were confined in on islands or in caves to prevent crossbreeding. They were fed salmon year-round and sheared like sheep to remove their thick fleece for use in textiles.

Haida chilkat robe (Kaigani or Tlingit) circa 1875‐1900, Alaska. Photo courtesy of MOA.

Haida chilkat robe (Kaigani or Tlingit) circa 1875‐1900, Alaska. Photo courtesy of MOA.

In 1828, a report from Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Langley described flocks of shorn dogs being transported in canoes. As Coast Salish Territory was colonized, Hudson Bay blankets and domestic sheep eventually replaced this unique Indigenous textile industry, and the Wooly Dog interbred with other dogs, losing its specific qualities. Less than 100 years after European contact, the Coast Salish Wooly Dog was effectively extinct. The last identifiable Wooly Dog died in 1940.

The exhibition also includes an intricate mountain-goat wool Chilkat dancing robe, possibly owned and worn by Kaigani Haida Chief Kasawak. It was woven by women and features a diving whale motif. Creating these unique textiles by hand requires patience and skill in addition to physical, emotional, and divine energy to fuel the process of weaving. William White, Tsimshian master weaver, says the power of the weaver “goes into the robe—that spiritual power that is put on it when you wear that robe. We believe that it comes alive.”

Coast Salish swuqw’alh wool blanket made by sisters Debra and Robyn Sparrow (Musqueam). Photo courtesy of MOA

Coast Salish swuqw’alh wool blanket made by sisters Debra and Robyn Sparrow (Musqueam). Photo courtesy of MOA

The Museum of Anthropology is Canada’s largest teaching museum, inspiring understanding of and respect for world arts and cultures. Layers of Influence includes over 130 examples of culturally significant textiles, showcasing a range of materials, techniques, and adornments, including hand-dyed batiks of Bali, appliqued button blankets from BC’s Northwest Coast, jaspe weavings of the Mayan people of Guatemala, and much more. Unfurled, the lavish display of fabric reveals the sophisticated workmanship of each piece and creative use of materials like silk, wool, feathers, and bark. Go to [moa.ubc.ca] to plan your visit or browse the MOA’s collections online.

No Charges Against Val-d’Or Police For Sexual Harassment of Native Women

by Frank Larue

 Sindy Ruperthouse was an Algoquin woman who disappeared in 2014. She was last seen in a hospital in Val-d’Or, and her parents still continue the search for her. They have travelled to Montreal, Ottawa, and all little towns in-between, but they have not found any clues that would lead them to their daughter. The Grand Council of the Cree are offering a $50,000- reward for information that would lead to Sindy’s where-abouts. Unfortunately, this rewards has not been given away. Sindy still remains missing. Over the past two-years, the Police have had to change the missing to a homicide. There is nobody to support the belief that Sindy was the victim of foul play, but considering the time-frame of her disappearance, police believe Sindy Ruperhouse is another victim in the long list of missing and murdered native women.

Downtown Val d’Or north of Montreal. Indigenous communities lose faith in system after no charges filed against Val-d’Or SQ officers. Photo: Christopher Curtis, Montreal Gazette

Downtown Val d’Or north of Montreal. Indigenous communities lose faith in system after no charges filed against Val-d’Or SQ officers. Photo: Christopher Curtis, Montreal Gazette

Sindy was recovering from a beating in a hospital before she disappeared. She may have become a cold case to the police, but to her own people, she is remembered. Her disappearance has inspired native women living in Val-d’Or to go public with claims of abuse by the city’s police. Radio Canada’s French investigative show Enquete spoke to several of the women, and they were shocked at some of the women’s claims. Enquete referred to the police behaviour as the culture of violence against women in northern Quebec. In response, these women told of the Val-d’Or police officers who would pick native-women up when leaving bars. They would make sure the women had been drinking. If she was, they’d either rough her up, or take her to the outskirts of the city. Here, the women would be forced to perform sexual acts, and then left to walk home.

An investigation by the police in Montreal was initiated to clear-up the situation. Native leaders and female organizations were expecting charges to be laid,  but the six officers who had been suspended had all charges against them dropped. They are now suing Radio Canada. Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief for the Quebec Grand Council of the Cree, told the CBC. “The allegations are about specific abuses committed by specific individuals of the SQ against specific Cree and Algonquin women. These are accusations of rape… When does a rapist become a scapegoat? There are accusations of assault… How does an assailant become a scapegoat? There are accusations of supplying drugs and alcohol… How does a drug dealer, or a bootlegger, become a scapegoat? Wanting justice is not searching for a scapegoat.”

Native leaders are seething, but no one should be surprised because when the police investigate the police, no matter what the charge, the police are never charged. The Val-d’Or police have introduced cameras on all police vehicles, and police will be sometimes accompanied by a social worker. This seems to be a sensible prevention attempt. But what about the women who were already abused? Are they not deserving of justice? The Val-d’Or police walk away without even a slap-on-the-wrist. This reminds me of Neil Stonechild, a young native man left to freeze on a cold Saskatchewan night by policemen who escaped any form of punishment. Human rights are respected if you are white, but if you are an Aboriginal woman, you are stripped of these rights by sadistic racists who are not only protected by the police, but are the police themselves.

Oral Histories Of The Lax Kw’alaams And Metlakatla First Nation Confirmed

By Lee Waters

According to a new genetic study, nearly 60% of native people living in a 9,000-year-old community in Canada died when European settlers brought diseases to which the local people had no immunity.

The research confirmed the oral histories of the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla First Nation peoples, which told how they had lived in the area for millennia.

Lax Kw’alaams Band has lived in this area (Prince Rupert) for between 1000 and 6000 years. Credit: Image courtesy of Pacific NorthWest LNG

Lax Kw’alaams Band has lived in this area (Prince Rupert) for between 1000 and 6000 years. Credit: Image courtesy of Pacific NorthWest LNG

Researchers studied the genomes of 25 people who lived between 1,000 and 6,000 years ago on the north coast of British Columbia, then compared this to the DNA of 25 of their descendants who still live in the region.

Joycelynn Mitchell, a Metlakatla woman who co-authored a paper about the research in the journal Nature Communications, said, “First Nations history mainly consists of oral stories passed from generation to generation. “Our oral history tells of the deaths of a large percentage of our population by diseases from the European settlers. “Smallpox, for our area, was particularly catastrophic. We are pleased to have scientific evidence that corroborates our oral history. “As technology continues to advance, we expect that science will continue to agree with the stories of our ancestors.”

Scientists were able to show there had been a dramatic decline in population about 175 years ago, when European diseases swept through the local population. Their findings suggested there had been a “reduction in effective population size of 57 per cent.” The researchers found that a particular gene variant associated with the immune system, part of a group called HLA, had been beneficial for thousands of years, helping the body to identify diseases. But it proved to be a disadvantage after the arrival of European diseases and has since declined by 64 per cent, a fall described by the researchers as “dramatic.”

Pennsylvania State University biology professor Michael DeGiorgio, who took part in the study, said, “The only scenario compatible with this stark change in diversity is negative evolutionary selection, suggesting that previously advantageous HLA-gene variants became disadvantageous, possibly contributing to the population decline that occurred upon European contact,” according to The Independent Journal.

 

Nadine Caron – First Female First Nations Surgeon

by Frank Larue

Doctor Nadine Caron is Sagamok Anishnawbe, and she is the first female First Nations surgeon. Graduating from UBC’s medical school, she completed post-graduate fellowship training in endocrine surgeon oncology, earning her a master’s degree in public health.

Traditional Indigenous healing practices and Western medicine can co-exist, says UBC’s Dr. Nadine Caron. (Courtesy of Dr. Caron)

Traditional Indigenous healing practices and Western medicine can co-exist, says UBC’s Dr. Nadine Caron. (Courtesy of Dr. Caron)

“I’m often asked what it feels like to be the first female First Nations graduate from UBC School of Medicine, and that means a lot,” says Caron. “I was the first not because I was special, but because of where we are as a society in Canada. I think it’s made a lot of people reflect on the fact that we need to focus on increasing the numbers not only of First Nations female physicians and surgeons, but of the representation of indigenous peoples in Canadian health-care professions across the board.”

Caron has dealt with stereotypes, but it has never prevented her from completing her courses or doing her work.

“I remember this one time,” she recalls, “it was many years ago. A surgeon came in [who] had just finished a long case. He sat down and was like, ‘phew, if I never operate on another Indian, it’ll be too soon.” Even though Caron has attained her career goals, she still experiences instances such as this. “Sometimes I’m so optimistic, and then on other days I experience things in the hallways, or I hear things that are unintended to be heard, and you just hang your head.” She continued to express that the only way stereotyping will decline is if people, indigenous or of any other race, continue to challenge such instances.

Caron’s interest’s go beyond her surgeon talents. When asked what could be done to improve the public health system, she uses an analogy. “As a surgeon, you’re sometimes the person pulling someone else out of the river who’s drowning. You might save that person, and that’s great, but eventually someone has to go upstream to figure out why everyone’s falling in. I realized that if I could step out of that clinical spectrum and divide my time into other areas of public health – and in mentoring and teaching – that I could start to understand a bit more about why we are falling-in as a society, and start to fill those gaps.”

A medical profession is a difficult journey, but Caron has been successful with a combination of intelligence, determination, and willpower. As mentioned previously, Caron would like to see more First Nation students in the medical profession.

“When I’m asked what advice I would give to an indigenous youth right now in Canada, there’s much, but above-and-beyond any other would be believe in yourself. Don’t let what other people say sway you from your beliefs, sway you from your dreams, sway you away from what you want to do. There are enough people in the world who will tell you that it’s going to be too hard, that you won’t be able to make it. Don’t ever let your voice be one of those who you hear saying that.”

Caron was also the recipient of the Indigenous Health Award for 2016. The award established in 2014 in honour of Dr. Thomas Dignan, whose advocacy was towards eradicating disparities in the care of Canada’s indigenous people.

“I have followed his accomplishments with great interest over the years,” expresses Caron. “This national award honours physicians who mirror Dr. Dignan’s zeal, devotion, and dogged pursuit of justice for Canada’s Indigenous population.”

 

 

 

INMATE ADAM CAPAY – FOUR-YEARS IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

by Frank Larue

Adam Capay is from Lac Seul First Nation’s. While he was serving time in a Thunder Bay District jail, he got into an altercation with another inmate and killed him. This was four-years ago, and he has been in solitary confinement ever since.

Thunder Bay jail is known for its terrible living conditions, even for inmates waiting for trail. “There’s often three people to a cell. There’s only two beds, meaning… two people get beds, and one person sleeps on the floor,” informs David Klesman, a Thunder Bay criminal defense lawyer, during a CBC interview.

Adam Capay was kept in solitary confinement for four years in a Thunder Bay District jail.

Adam Capay was kept in solitary confinement for four years in a Thunder Bay District jail.

Capay, now 24-years old, has spent the last four-years in a basement cell that is sheathed with plexi-glass and fully lit 24/7. The surprising thing is Capay is not even a convicted criminal; he has been waiting all this time for his trial. A ruling is set in place by the Supreme Court of Canada which nullifies any trial that has not happened within 30-months of the arrest. Capay has remained in solitary confinement for 52-months. Where was the justice system that allowed this to happen?

Solitary confinement for more than 15-days is considered torture by the United Nations standards. Capay’s situation did not seem right to Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s human rights commissioner. It was not until Mandhane visited Capay himself that the media was alerted of the injustice.

“This individual has been moved from their cell,” Corrections Minister David Orazietti told the media. “They are in a different location, with appropriate lighting and access to day rooms. They can spend time out of their cell for showers, phone calls, and to access T.V. It is my understanding, from speaking to officials, that the inmate is satisfied with the conditions they are presently in.” How could Capay be unsatisfied with this after 4-years of solitary confinement?

There is still no mention regarding Capay’ s trial, nor the fact that it should be annulled. There was also no apology for the sadistic way Capay was treated. First Nation’s Drum is stunned by this. There ought to have been an investigation on the warden and jail officials. Only then would there have been evidence brought to the surface regarding cases of excessive solitary confinement.

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said the Thunder Bay District jails treatment of Capay is a perfect example of how unjust the Ontario Correctional system is to Indigenous people. “It’s a very broken and unbalanced system. Clearly the situation [of] Adam… being treated like an animal is going to have an impact on him physically and psychologically.” Capay had memory and speech problems, which she attributed to the cruel treatment he had received in jail.

There have been many requests for the Thunder Bay District jail to be replaced. The building is a hundred years old, and it is in dire need of restoration. The requests have come from inquest juries, jail guards, and opposition politicians. Unfortunately, the provincial and federal government have overlooked all of these demands. Where is our Prime Minister? He’s made so many promises, but when there is an emergency he is never around. In this case, it is the Ontario Government and their very aloof Premier that should shoulder much of the blame. They believe that 15-days in solitary is not torture. What is more is that the Deputy Minister had received no less than 50 reports on Capay’s condition and still chose to do nothing.

“What I find unacceptable are the specific conditions under which Mr. Capay was being held,” David Orazietti told the media. “When I hear about 24-hour lighting issues, those types of things obviously cause me concern. I’ve already asked the ministry to confirm for me that no one in a segregation has those types of circumstances… and they be resolved immediately.”

The Corrections Minister is saying all the right things after the fact. Is he sincere? Perhaps, but he still garners doubts. If the Ontario Premier and Mr. Orazietti initiate an investigation into Capay’s treatment, there could be a potential trial.  In having this happen, officials at the Thunder Bay District jail will receive more than a slap-on-the-wrist, and will have to face criminal charges. This would deter any other jail officials in Ontario to take advantage of the same liberties as those in the Thunder Bay District jail did with Capay.

Mohawk Girls: Season Four Debuts

Press Release:

APTN’s (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) critically-acclaimed and award-winning dramatic comedy Mohawk Girls returns for season four. The show takes a comedic look at the lives of four modern-day women trying to stay true to their roots while navigating sex, work, love and what it means to be Mohawk in the 21st century.

Mohawkgirls

 

Filmed and set in Montreal and the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, the eight-episode, fourth season of the half-hour dramedy premieres Tuesday, October25 with weekly episodes airing on APTN e, and HD at 9:30 p.m. ET, APTN w at 9:30 p.m. MT and on APTN n on Sundays at 10:30 p.m. CT (premiering on Oct. 30).
Viewers can venture deeper into the world of Mohawk Girls via the interactive website, with a quiz app, behind-the-scenes secrets and entertaining graphic content. The devoted online community of the series can connect via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.

This season, the girls are pushed further out of their comfort zones as they deal with interracial dating, politics, wedding planning, love triangles, career aspirations, all as they try to forge their own identities in a community embedded with rules and cultural traditions.

In Season 4, Bailey chooses a path that she hopes will make her happy while satisfying her family and community. But it soon becomes clear to her that she can’t have her cake and eat it too; she’ll have to choose between following her heart and being a good Mohawk. Zoe goes to extremes to win back the community’s approval after shirking her duties at a fundraiser at the end of Season 3. But trying to be everything to everyone takes its toll and she reverts to indulging in her kinky little secret, which threatens to derail both her personal and professional life. Caitlin, after discovering that she’s never had a healthy relationship before, throws caution to the wind and embarks on one, despite her community’s disapproval. But when things begin to go a little too well, she falls back into an all-too-familiar pattern of self-sabotage, putting the relationship – and her chance of happiness – in jeopardy. And, after fighting with her mother and losing her boyfriend Thunder at the end of last season, Anna is ready to call it quits and move back to New York. But to her surprise, she’s finally welcomed into the community with open arms… as long as she conforms to the rules of the rez. But will that be too much conformity for this free spirit?

The dynamic cast of four leading women includes returning cast members Jenny Pudavick (Bailey), Brittany LeBorgne (Zoe), Heather White (Caitlin), and Maika Harper (Anna). Meegwun Fairbrother (Butterhead), Kyle Nobess (Thunder), Jimmy Blais (Watio) and Shawn Youngchief (Ohserase), reprise their roles as the men they love. Also returning, Tantoo Cardinal as Zoe’s mom, Glen Gould as Bailey’s father and Jeffrey Wetsch as James. New this year is Dwain Murphy, who takes over the role of Leon.

The series was nominated for 4 Canadian Screen Awards this spring, including Best Comedy Series, Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series, Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Comedic Role (Brittany LeBorgne). It has several awards to its name, including a Golden Sheaf Award in the Comedy category at the Yorkton Film Festival, the APTN Award at the Festival Présence Autochtone (Montreal First Peoples’ Festival) and a nomination for Best Sitcom at the Banff Rockie Awards. Spafax has licensed several episodes of the show, airing them on the Comedy TV channel on Air Canada enRoute Inflight Entertainment on domestic and international flights. US distributor GRB represents the show worldwide andMohawk Girls debuted in Australia on the SBS network in June.

HIGH STEEL: Mohawk Ironworkers Series on APTN

By Lee Waters

Mohawk Ironworkers is a new 13-part half hour documentary series that celebrates the ‘steely determination’ of the Mohawk ironworkers of Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Six Nations that are said to be “the best ironworkers on the planet.”

The series features engaging personal stories from the Mohawk Ironworkers who built the World Trade Center and were affected by the 9/11 cleanup, the men and women who enroll in today’s rigorous training programs to keep the tradition alive, and more. According to the APTN release: Using a mixture of dramatic HD “high steel” footage, on the job and home-life reality shooting and archival material, each half hour episode presents a fascinating visual and moving story of the ironworkers and their families – as they face the realities of one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.

Photo courtesy: DC Montreal WordPress

Photo courtesy: DC Montreal WordPress

 

It All Began With A Bridge

Ironworking requires a rare combination of strength, intelligence and courage. Tasked with laying the foundations and building the metal skeletons of buildings, workers handle the lifting, fixing and welding of hundreds of heavy steel beams – often while thousands of feet in the air.

The Mohawk tradition began in 1886 during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge across the St. Lawrence from Kahnawake to Montreal. First hired as day labourers, the locals soon proved adept at the dangerous work and later found themselves in demand elsewhere.

Unintended Consequences

The Mohawk Ironworkers series details some of the devastating health effects the cleanup crews were exposed to during the 9/11 cleanup. One episode description is as follows: When the NYC Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11, over 50 Mohawk ironworkers helped clear the wreckage of the iconic Towers their fathers built. But no one was prepared for the health risks of the Ground Zero cleanup. The cleanup cost Jaysen Mayo his health and career, and Brad Bonaparte, his life…

Photo Courtesy: Smithsonian Institute

Photo Courtesy: Smithsonian Institute

The chronic health impacts of ground zero have remained a controversial topic. An article from the Village Voice in 2006 reported that several dozen recovery personnel have developed cancer – as opposed to having contracted respiratory ailments, and that doctors have argued that some of these cancers developed as a result of the exposure to toxins at the Ground Zero site: “To date, 75 recovery workers at ground zero have been diagnosed with blood cell cancers that a half-dozen top doctors and epidemiologists have confirmed as having been likely caused by that exposure.”

Dr. Larry Norton of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital said, “Why isn’t the whole nation mobilizing to take care of the chronic health impact of this disaster?” Dr. Norton cited the 70 percent illness rate among first responders as “a wake up call.” Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, Dr. Nathaniel Hupert of Weill Cornell Medical College, quoted by Jill Gardiner of the October 4, 2006, issue of the New York Sun said that premature deaths and other ailments of dogs in the area are “our canary in the coalmine.”

Alleged deceptions about Ground Zero air quality also surfaced in August 2003, in a report by the Office of the Inspector General of the EPA said the Bush administration pressured the EPA to remove cautionary information about the air quality at Ground Zero. According to Wikipedia, numerous key differences between the draft versions and final versions of EPA statements were found. A recommendation that ‘homes and businesses near ground zero be cleaned by professionals’ was replaced by a request that citizens follow orders from NYC officials. Another statement that showed concerns about “sensitive populations” was deleted altogether. Language used to describe excessive amounts of asbestos in the area was altered drastically to minimize the dangers it posed. Despite the health risks, many ‘fearless’ Mohawk Ironworkers, felt it their duty to participate in the cleaning and building of the One World Trade Center.

The series is also accompanied by an online videogame called Rivet Rampage. This single-player game puts you in the role of a Mohawk ironworker. You are tasked with building one of the most iconic buildings in history, the Empire State Building, as well as Montreal’s infamous Mercier Bridge. Follow the foreman’s orders and ‘avoid flying birds, hot rivets and whirlnados.’

Each building site contains multiple levels where you take on real-life ironworker tasks like climbing structures, erecting platforms and finding tools.  Also available are Mohawk Ironworkers collectible trading cards that feature over 80 ironworkers who participated in the series. Collectable Cards will soon be available for purchase on the Mohawk Ironworkers website and in select stores in Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Six Nations. Virtual cards are available on the series Facebookpage.

Mohawk Ironworkers is produced by Paul M. Rickard, George Hargrave, and Margaret Horn. The series features a team of Indigenous directors: Jeff Dorn, Margaret Horn, Courtney Montour, Paul M. Rickard, and Michelle Smith. The series premiered Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.

For more information visit the Mohawk Ironworkers Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MohawkIronworkersTV or visit the Mohawk Ironworkers website at www.mohawkironworkers.com.