Nature, or its creator, truly is magnificent.


                           An interesting observation on survival – nature is always a good teacher, our part is to pay attention ……….

                                     WOLF PACK

(Look at the picture carefully)

              “ A wolf pack on the move :

·    The first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be   left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed;

·         then come 5 strong ones, the front line;

·         In the centre are the rest of the pack members;

·         then the 5 strongest following.

·          Last is alone, the Alpha.  He controls everything from the rear.  In that position he can see everything, decide

       the direction.  He sees all of the pack.

The pack moves according to the elders’ pace and help each other, watch each other. 


Again I am left speechless by nature … I knew that wolves are different, but didn’t realize how much we could learn from them….

 “I didn’t know wolves put the ELDERS of the pack FIRST.  People on this planet should take note – elders are to be seen up front, setting the pace and direction while enjoying the protection of the rest…and not invisible at the back of the line…” 

                                                                               [Unknown author]

History Decolonized: A closer look at Edward Cornwallis and why his statue toppled

Article from: APTN News

Trina Roache
APTN Investigates
Edward Cornwallis is honoured as the founder of Halifax. A British military leader who issued bounties on Mi’kmaw scalps, his statue in a city park named in his honour has been at the centre of division and debate.

For years, the Mi’kmaq have fought to have his monument removed. It happened at the end of January — a celebratory moment for the Mi’kmaq.

“We’re in a time now of truth and reconciliation, and peace and friendship,” said Mi’kmaw activist Rebecca Moore, watching crews work to lift the statue from its pedestal.

“This is it being lived out, right now in this moment,” said Moore. “And I’m really, really happy and proud to be here and to be able to witness this.”

Overhead, an eagle circled as a crane lifted the statue from its granite base.

“For that eagle to come and fly right over us, just right the same moment as Cornwallis just got removed from his pedestal was just, it was very affirming to me,” said Moore.

This was a moment three decades in the making and the focus of an APTN Investigatesepisode, History Decolonized.

It started with Mi’kmaw Elder Dan Paul, who published “We Were Not the Savages” in 1993. Paul applied an Indigenous lens to the history of the Nova Scotia and it painted a vastly different picture.

“In his correspondence with the Lords of Trade in London, [Cornwallis] made it clear that it would be best to root the Mi’kmaq out of the peninsula of Nova Scotia for all time and forever,” said Paul.

“What kind of a man is that and why do we have a statue of him in the park?” asked Moore, just weeks before a sudden turn of events led to the statue’s removal.

It’s a question Halifax city council has wrestled with for years. And a question that sparks fierce debate, one echoed across the continent.

Last May, a speech by the Mayor of New Orleans on why the confederate monuments were being removed went viral.

“There is a difference, you see, between remembrance of history and the reverence of it,” said Mitch Landrieu.

In the United States, as monuments came down in 2017, racism ramped up.

In Charlottesville, Va., white supremacists protested the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue. Counter rallies were held and violent clashes followed. It turned deadly after a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.

Canada is hardly immune to the racist backlash when colonial history is questioned.

“We’re seeing this emergence of it in much bolder ways,” said El Jones, a professor, poet and activist in Halifax. “I’ve certainly experienced it myself, very much an increase in the intensity of harassment. So people who love me are like, don’t walk home alone.”

Jones said it intensifies around the topic of Cornwallis.

In council meetings over the past year, Halifax councillors have referenced the racist emails they’ve received on the topic of Cornwallis.

And whether it’s Cornwallis or one of the confederate monuments, the rhetoric often includes the line, “you can’t erase history.”

“Where’s our history, if you can’t erase history?” said Moore. “Only settler people, only the colonist can erase history? Because this land has a whole pre-colonial history, where’s our pre-colonial history? Nowhere. It’s like they think that the world started when they landed here. And it didn’t.”

“I always call it white amnesia,” said Jones. “Like, white people don’t have to reckon with history and they have the privilege to forget it.”

Halifax mayor Mike Savage said it’s important the city grapple with an uncomfortable history.

“This is a city like many cities that has been a victim of systemic racism. Not just against First Nations, but against African Nova Scotians as well,” said Savage. “And we can’t deny the history. We have to accept the history and learn from it.”

Before the statue came down, Savage called it an “impediment to progress.”

City council had struck a committee to explore issues around the commemoration of Cornwallis. Savage hoped it would be an avenue to education.

But after months of no action, the Mi’kmaw chiefs lost patience and pulled out and demanded the statue be removed immediately.

The grassroots moved quickly to plan a rally called “Removing Cornwallis.” City staff, fearing a potential conflict, recommended to council that the statue be taken down and put into storage.

Within days, the debate was back before council who voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Cornwallis.

“It’s down and it allows us to have that conversation we need to have on true reconciliation,” said Savage.

The Mi’kmaq held a rally at Cornwallis Park, standing where the statue had stood just days before.

“We removed Cornwallis!” cheered Mi’kmaw warrior Suzanne Patles, bullhorn in hand. “And look who stands in his place. Mi’kmaw women!”

Mi’kmaw Warrior Toby Condo speaking at a gathering after the statue came down.

What followed was drumming, smudging and a thank you to Dan Paul, for his tireless efforts to expose the Mi’kmaw narrative of a city built in the traditional, unceded territory of Mi’kma’ki.

“It hasn’t been as erasure of history,” Patles told the crowd. What we’re doing is, we’re refusing to be erased. ”

“The hidden history of Nova Scotia is out now,” said Paul. “Let’s move on and begin to build a future together.”

Truth and Reconciliation in Canada: If It Feels Good, It’s Not Reconciliation – Pam Palmater

The 2018 Woodrow Lloyd Lecture


‘Truth and Reconciliation in Canada: If It Feels Good, It’s Not Reconciliation’

Presented by Pam Palmater

Mi’kmaw lawyer, author, social justice activist, and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University 


History of the Woodrow Lloyd Lecture

The Faculty of Arts is pleased to present an annual lecture in honour of Woodrow Stanley Lloyd (1913-1972), a dedicated public servant of Saskatchewan. Woodrow Lloyd served as the province’s eighth Premier (1961-1964) and also as Minister of Education (1944-1960). It was in this capacity that he played a formative role in the development of the modern day education system. In 1963, he laid the cornerstone of the first building on the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan, now the University of Regina. Throughout his career, Woodrow Lloyd’s voice emerged as one strongly in favour of the university as a space for innovation and catalyst for social change.

Said Woodrow Lloyd at the Canadian Education Association Convention of 1951, “Education needs courage. The very fact that education, if it is vital, leads to purposeful change, indicates the need for courage on the part of those who lead, because even purposeful change is always opposed. It is opposed by those who do not understand.”

The Woodrow Lloyd lecture is presented each Winter by the Faculty of Arts and funded by the generosity of the Woodrow Lloyd Trust Fund. Each lecture features a nationally or internationally recognized scholar, writer, thinker, and/or activist, who speaks on issues of direct relevance to Saskatchewan.

Past speakers have included former Premier of Saskatchewan Roy Romanow, noted climatologist Elane Wheaton, and author and Indigenous leader Cindy Blackstock.

Past Woodrow Lloyd Lectures

  • 2017: Islamophobia and Muslim Women in Canada
    Presented by Dr. Sheema Khan, Author and Global and Mail Columnist
    A video of Dr. Khan’s lecture is available at:
  • 2016: Presented by The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
    A video of Justice Sinclair’s lecture is available on the Faculty of Arts YouTube channel at:
  • 2015: Reconciliation: the children’s version
    by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, as well as Director of the First Nations Children’s Action Research and Education Service (FNCARES) and as Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. View or download the lecture from the Faculty of Arts Youtube channel at
  • 2014: The Hedgehog, the Fox and Canadian Austerity
    by Dr. Thom Workman, Professor, Political Science at the University of New Brunswick.  View or download the lecture from the University’s oURspace website at
  • 2013: Can Civil Disobedience Ensure Health Care Access for Drug Users?
    by Ann Livingston, Social Justice Organizer
  • 2012: Taking and Making Human Life: has healthcare replaced religion?
    by Dr. Margaret Somerville, Samuel Gale Professor of Law, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University
  • 2011: Western Canadian Democracy: A backward and a forward look
    by the Honorable Preston Manning, Founder of the Reform Party of Canada
  • 2010: Transforming Power: New paths to social and political change
    by Judy Rebick, CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University
  • 2009: Subprime Constitutionalism: Why are we over-invested in the charter?
    by Professor Harry Arthurs, Osgood Hall Law School, President Emeritus, York University

The Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission contained 94 Calls to Action that laid out a path to start the process of reconciliation. Yet according to Palmater, Canada’s approach to reconciliation has been more superficial than concrete. True reconciliation, she argues,  won’t be found in land acknowledgments or Indigenizing public buildings with Indigenous artwork – it will only be found in the discomfort that comes with the exchange of land, wealth and power.

About Pam Palmater
Pam Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer, author, and social justice activist from Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She is a former spokesperson, organizer and educator for the Idle No More movement and currently holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She has 4 university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas with a double major in History and Native Studies; an LLB from UNB, and her Masters and Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University specializing in Indigenous law.

Pam has been volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 25 years on a wide range of issues like poverty, housing, education, Aboriginal and treaty rights, and legislation impacting First Nations. She has worked as a human rights investigator at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and worked collaboratively with human rights organizations like Canadian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International on Indigenous issues.

She is a well-known speaker and media commentator and is frequently called as an expert before Parliamentary dealing with laws and policies impacting Indigenous peoples, and before United Nations committees on human rights of Indigenous peoples, particularly, Indigenous women and children. Her recent focus has been on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and sexualized violence in policing.

She has been recognized with many awards for her social justice and human rights advocacy on behalf of First Nations generally including the 2012 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice; Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2013 Top 5 Most Influential Lawyer in the Human Rights category; Margaret Mead Award in Social Justice 2016; J. S. Woodsworth Woman of Excellence Award in Human Rights 2016; and an Alumni Award of Distinction 2015 and honourary Doctorate of Laws from UNB 2016, as well as the 2017 Award for Excellence in Human Rights from the Atlantic Human Rights Centre at St. Thomas University.

CBC: 108 Indigenous writers to read, as recommended by you

FOLD, the Festival of Literary Diversity, tweeted out the names of several Indigenous authors you should know. Many readers got in the spirit and shared their own recommendations. We’ve highlighted their suggestions here.

Here are 108 Indigenous writers to check out.

1. An Honest Woman by Jónína Kirton (Recommended by: @Ayelet Tsabari)

2. Arctic Dreams and Nightmares by Alootook Ipellie (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

3. Bad Endings by Carleigh Baker (Recommended by: @Ayelet Tsabari)

4. Badger by Daniel Heath Justice (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

5. Bearskin Diary by Carol Rose Daniels (Recommended by: @feralplaywright)

6. Beautiful Razor by Al Hunter (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

7. Calling Down the Sky by Rosanna Deerchild (Recommended by: @elainecorden@concrete_poet)

8. Creating Space by Verna J. Kirkness (Recommended by: @jodysmiling)

9. Digital Ogichida by Jordan Wheeler (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

10. Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes (Recommended by: @missoliviaanne)

11. Fire Starters by Jen Storm, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

12. Firewater by Harold R. Johnson (Recommended by: @kevimrie)

13. Flint and Feather by E. Pauline Johnson (Recommended by: @fillingstation)

14. Gabriel’s Beach by Neal McLeod (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@kevimrie)

15. Half-Breed by Maria Campbell (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

16. Halfling Spring by Joanne Arnott (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

17. Huff & Stitch by Cliff Cardinal (Recommended by: @maritadachsel)

18. I Am Woman by Lee Maracle (Recommended by: @MarkAbbott604)

19. Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel (Recommended by: @N_StPierre)

20. In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier (Recommended by: @Katiewtweet)

21. In the Silhouette of Your Silences by David Groulx (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

22. Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway (Recommended by: @elainecorden)

23. I Want by Joseph A. Dandurand (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

24.  “kîwetinotahk pimâcihowin — northern journeys” by Andréa Ledding (Recommended by: @feralplaywright)

25. Lake of the Prairies by Warren Cariou (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@N_StPierre)

26. Life Among the Qallunaat by Mini Aodla Freeman (Recommended by: @sciencebanshee)

27. Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

28. Lnu and Indians We’re Called by Rita Joe (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

29. Invisible Victims by Katherine McCarthy (Recommended by: @RealRJParker)

30. Moose Meat & Wild Rice by Basil Johnston (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

31. nakamowin sa for the seasons by Rita Bouvier (Recommended by: @LawandLit)

32. Night Moves by Richard Van Camp (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@sarafdavidson)

33. nipê wânîn: my way back by Mika Lafond (Recommended by: @feralplaywright)

34. Owls See Clearly At Night by Julie Flett (Recommended by: @N_StPierre)

35. Poems for a New World by Connie Fife (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

36. Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Recommended by: @fillingstation)

37. Running on the March Wind by Lenore Keeshig (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

38. Salt Baby by Falen Johnson (Recommended by: @maritadachsel)

39. Sanaaq  by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, translated by Bernard Saladin d’Anglure (Recommended by: @elainecorden)

40. Seasons of Hope by James Bartleman (Recommended by: @eleanor70001)

41. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga (Recommended by: @JaelRichardson)

42. she walks for days inside a thousand eyes by Sharron Proulx-Turner (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

43. Slash by Jeannette Armstrong (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@CarrieTerbasket)

44. Spirit of the Wolf by Duncan Mercredi (Recommended by: @kevimrie)

45. Still No Word by Shannon Webb-Campbell (Recommended by: @N_StPierre)

46. Sugar Falls by David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (Recommended by: @sarafdavidson)

47. Taqralik Partridge (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

48. The Break by Katherena Vermette (Recommended by: @macpherson_a)

49. The Pemmican Eaters by Marilyn Dumont (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@elainecorden@LawandLit)

50. The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew (Recommended by: @evilscumbag)

51. The Red Files by Lisa Bird-Wilson (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@LawandLit)

52. The Stone Collection by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Recommended by: @concrete_poet)

53. The Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt (Recommended by: @concrete_poet)

54. Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

55. Tombs of the Vanishing Indian by Marie Clements (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

56. Totem Poles and Railroads by Janet Rogers (Recommended by: @LawandLit@Skink00ts)

57. Un/inhabited by Jordan Abel (Recommended by: @fillingstation@maritadachsel@N_StPierre)

58. Witness, I Am by Gregory Scofield (Recommended by: @elainecorden)

59. Wrist by Nathan Adler (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@JaelRichardson)

60. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (Recommended by: @theborrower@shellenepaull@CoyoteDreams)

61. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Recommended by: @shellenepaull@maggiem_chinook@GillEllis51@ejmspoelstra@celmslie1Junior de Lima & Lisa Laing)

62. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (Recommended by: Gerry Rogers@celmslie1@Danielle_Author)

63. Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Recommended by: @GillEllis51@Danielle_AuthorKent Wakely)

64. From the Barren Lands by Leonard Flett (Recommended by: @nothinglinKimberly LalibertyMarguerite FlettFrank Flett & Horace Flett)

65. Tilly by Monique Gray Smith (Recommended by: @CarolyneTaylorQuincey Erin Cable)

66. Where I Belong by Tara White (Recommended by: @tradewindbooks)

67. Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor (Recommended by: @maggiem_chinook@TheFOLD_)

68. Skin Like Mine by Garry Gottfriedson (Recommended by: @theborrower)

69. Kuessipan by Naomi Fontaine (Recommended by: @theborrower)

70. Blood Red Summer by Wayne Arthurson (Recommended by: @peggy_blair@MinisterFaust)

71. Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses (Recommended by: @Diginalgifts)

72. Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin with Alexandra Shimo (Recommended by: @susanhimel)

73. The Chief and Her Sister by Andrew Genaille (Recommended by: @rvgenaille)

74. Walking in Your Power by Barbara M. Derrick (Recommended by: @nativestudioart)

75. My Silent Drum by Ovide Mercredi (Recommended by: @paurrod)

76. Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson (Recommended by: @CoyoteDreams)

77. Bird Child by Nan Forler, illustrated by François Thisdale (Recommended by: @CoyoteDreams)

78. Art of Peace by Elizabeth Doxtater (Recommended by: @VMcNaughton)

79. Nationhood Interrupted by Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) (Recommended by: @SteveCowleyNYC)

80. Dramaville is not a place; it’s a state of mind by Andrea Lewis (Recommended by: @dredrelew)

81. Abstract Love by Bevann Fox (Recommended by: @SteveCowleyNYC)

82. We Are All Treaty People by Maurice Switzer, illustrated by Charley Herbert (Recommended by: @AnishNation)

83. The Stone Gift by Deborah L. Delaronde (Recommended by: @RoxShuttleworth)

84. Annie Mae’s Movement by Yvette Nolan (Recommended by: @ladyblerd@TheFOLD_)

85. Night Spirits by Ila Bussidor & Ustun Bilgen-Reinart (Recommended by: Gerry Rogers)

86. Voices in the Waterfall by Beth Cuthand (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

87. Porcupines and China Dolls by Robert Arthur Alexie (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

88. Seven Deer Dancing by Rolland Nadjiwon (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie)

89. This Accident of Being Lost  by Leanne Simpson (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@TheFOLD_Stéphanie Lynn)

90. Burning in This Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@TheFOLD_)

91. Kagagi by Jay Odjick & Patrick Tenascon (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

92. Café Daughter by Kenneth T. Williams (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

93. The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

94. Full-Metal Indigiqueer by Joshua Whitehead (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

95. Nobody Cries at Bingo by Dawn Dumont (Recommended by: Stephanie Strain@TheFOLD_)

96. A Gentle Habit by Cherie Dimaline (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

97. They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

98. Alicia Elliott (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

99. A Two-Spirit Journey by Ma-Nee Chacaby,with Mary Louisa Plummer (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

100. Legacy by Waubgeshig Rice (Recommended by: @KateriAkiwenzie@TheFOLD_)

101. Moe Clark (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

102. Jesse Wente (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

103. The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, illustrated by Kelly Mellings (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

104. The Plains of Aamjiwnaang by David D. Plain (Recommended by: Lee Anne Matheson)

105. Travelling Mother by David Seven Deers (Recommended by: Jill Webb Veitch)

106. Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent by Liz Howard (Recommended by: @fillingstation@bookgaga)

107. Norval Morrisseau by Armand Garnet Ruffo (Recommended by: @mrrgteacher)

108. Ryan McMahon (Recommended by: @TheFOLD_)

Coming Soon: The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Coming soon: The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Groundbreaking new educational resource coming this spring

February 26, 2018

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is honoured to present the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, a groundbreaking and ambitious new educational resource.

Produced in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis Nation, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and Indspire, the four-volume set shares the stories, perspectives, voices and history of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The Atlas includes historic and contemporary maps and explores themes of language, demographics, economy and culture. Important topics such as treaties and residential schools are covered in-depth, as well as the contributions of Indigenous Peoples, their oral traditions and land-based knowledge.

In addition to the Atlas, the RCGS and its partners have developed a suite of complementary resources for educators, including five giant floor maps that will circulate among schools across Canada, downloadable tiled maps, and plastic-coated maps for frequent use. These will be accompanied by two teaching guides — one for elementary students and one for secondary students. All materials will be available in English and French.

It is the hope of the RCGS and its partners that this project will help build multicultural understanding, encourage dialogue and foster mutual respect between all Canadians. In recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary, it is important to understand how our shared history with Indigenous peoples has shaped our present day reality, and how it may shape our future. A key to a better Canada lies in forging stronger relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

The Atlas will be available for purchase in late spring 2018; follow Canadian Geographic on Twitter or like us on Facebook to stay up to date.

In the meantime, you may also want to check out these stories and resources related to the Atlas project:

Imagine: A Canada Through the Lens of Reconciliation….Submission Deadline April 2nd

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is calling on all young people to Imagine a Canada through the lens of Reconciliation! What is your vision of Reconciliation? What does it look like?

Imagine a Canada is an invitation for all young people, from across the country, from kindergarten to post-secondary, to share their own vision of what Reconciliation can be. It can be a poem, a song, a painting, a sculpture, a rap, a drawing, an essay, anything!

A Great Educational Tool

Teachers, this is a great way to build upon the momentum of Orange Shirt day. Imagine a Canada is perfect for students, from kindergarten to post-secondary, to explore both the past and our shared journey into the future. Collectively, we want to be looking into the future of Reconciliation and youth deserve to be a part of this visionary exercise. Imagine a Canada is a great way for young people to see themselves not just as concerned citizens, but as transformative citizens; to empower them to be the change they want to see in the world.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be releasing Teachers’ Guides and materials to help you support students in preparing their Imagine a Canada submissions.

Friends and partners of the NCTR from across the country will help recognize and honour submissions in each region of the country and one entry from each province and territory will be selected to attend a national celebration of Imagine a Canada!

For more info, click here!

Ask Me Anything Indigenous

Family and supporters of Thelma Favel, Tina Fontaine’s great-aunt and the woman who raised her, march Friday, February 23, 2018, in Winnipeg the day after the jury delivered a not-guilty verdict in the 2nd degree murder trial of Raymond Cormier. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Article from the Winnipeg Free Press

Instructors seek open, honest dialogue with students about complicated issues

‘Ask me anything Indigenous,’ teachers say


IN the wake of cross-Canada outcry over the verdicts in the Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier trials, a pair of Winnipeg teachers are trying to explain the news and debunk stereotypes in the classroom with “ask me anything Indigenous” projects.

Christine M’Lot teaches Grades 10 and 12 English at University of Winnipeg Collegiate.

“With all the things going on in the media right now, the Colten Boushie (case), the Tina Fontaine (case), I knew that the students would be hearing about those things in the news, and so I thought it was the perfect time to start an Indigenous graphic novel and continue to talk about these things,” said the instructor, who hails from Winnipeg and has family ties to Swan Lake First Nation.

This term, her Grade 10 students are reading Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, while the Grade 12s are delving into The Life of Helen Betty Osborne: a Graphic Novel, by David Robertson and Madison Blackstone.

M’Lot also passes out slips of paper to her students at the start of class and tells them to write something down — whether it’s a question or not — for her to address later.

“I say, ‘Even if you’re not asking a question, you have to write something,’ just so students can’t figure out who wrote what,” M’Lot explained.

“I said, ‘Ask me anything Indigenous that you wouldn’t normally ask out loud — anything that you have in the back of your mind, even if you think it sounds racist or whatever. Just go ahead and ask, because this is a safe space and we’re going to discuss it.’” Some of the questions she’s fielded so far include: “Does racism against white people exist?” and “Why are so many people who kill Aboriginals let go?”

For queries that leave her stumped, she sometimes turns to her social networks for insight.

“I have a pretty strong network of brilliant Indigenous minds on my Facebook and Twitter, so there were a couple of questions where I wasn’t sure how to respond and so I got some feedback,” M’Lot said, citing the former question specifically.

Her Facebook friends weighed in, largely saying no, racism against white people does not exist due to current power and privilege structures in Canada. However, individual acts of discrimination can happen.

M’Lot borrowed the “ask me anything Indigenous” idea from her cousin and fellow instructor, Tara Williamson.

Williamson has taught at the postsecondary level for about seven years, working mostly in Ontario at Fleming College, Ryerson University/First Nations Technical Institute and Trent University.

Since September, she’s taught Indigenous studies at the University of Winnipeg, where a mandatory Indigenous course requirement took effect in September 2016. Students have to take three credit hours of Indigenous Studies to graduate.

“One of the goals of those classes is to debunk myths and stereotypes. So one of the easiest ways to do it is to address… questions coming from students, right? It’s not like I’m pulling them out of thin air,” said Williamson, who is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and grew up in Swan Lake.

In her classroom, Williamson passes a large envelope around, soliciting anonymous questions about Indigenous topics. Many are curious about employment rates, substance use, treaty benefits and quality of life on reserves, she said.

The majority of her 250 or so students are non-Indigenous

and, for some, their instructor is the first Indigenous person they’ve met.

In the coming days, Williamson plans to dive into discussions on the justice system and how it disproportionately involves Indigenous people.

“I needed some time as a teacher and as an Indigenous person in the community… I needed some time and space to sort of wrap my head around how I was going to teach (about the Stanley trial), and so we’ll be broaching that subject this week,” she said.

Though she can’t quantifiably measure the impact of the Indigenous course requirement on U of W students yet, the instructor said she sees itmaking a positive difference.

“I don’t know if I want to call it a success yet, but I do think it’s having an impact. And we’re actually just… the university is in the process of figuring out how to evaluate exactly what that impact is,” Williamson said.

Both teachers acknowledged how recent stories, such as those about the Stanley and Cormier trials, can stir emotions for students and themselves.

In early February, a jury in Saskatchewan found Gerald Stanley — a white farmer — not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Cree man Colten Boushie.

Later that month, a jury in Winnipeg found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of 15-year-old First Nations girl Tina Fontaine.

“I know this stuff is very triggering, because I feel triggered even. I see myself as Tina Fontaine when I was 15 and 16. That could have really easily been me as well,” M’Lot said.

“So, I know that it’s especially triggering for the Indigenous students, and I wanted them to know I care about this. This is important to discuss this in school.”

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