Posts tagged "first nations"

Anna Mae Aquash was a Mi’kmaq activist, born in 1945, who became a member of the American Indian Mouvement in the early 1970′s. She was murdered in 1975, and the case of her murder is still going on today. The murder of Anna Mae Aquash will never be fully resolved, but she will always be remebered as a powerful woman who fought for the rights of her people. An active American Indian Movement (AIM) member, as well as mother, wife, social worker, and day care teacher, her image is powerful as much for her untimely death as for her life’s work. Found murdered on the Pine Ridge Reservation during a time of tremendous social and political upheaval, she has become a symbol of the movement for Indian rights.

Anna Mae Aquash Quotes:

- “I’m Indian all the way, and always will be. I’m not going to stop fighting until I die, and I hope I’m a good example of a human being and of my tribe.”

- “These white people think this country belongs to them. They don’t realize that they are only in charge right now because there’s more of them than there are of us. The whole country changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that came over here in the 1500s. And it can take a handful of raggedy-ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those raggedy-ass Indians.”

Day 100! of Racism Free Ontario’s 100 People of Colour Spotlight.
 .(more info  at Anna Mae Aquash)

Uncivilized. Primitive. Inferior. Apparently, that is what the rest of us Canadians think of First Nations’ people.

I am not sure that is entirely the case but that at least is what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported last month after hearing the testimonies of many of those native people who went through the now discredited residential school system.

One thing for sure, most of us newer Canadians had probably never heard of the controversial residential school system until that boil was lanced a few years ago, and the federal government offered a formal apology and established the reconciliation commission to help chart a new future.

Most Canadians, I’d hazard a guess, had never realized that between the 1840s and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, aboriginal and Metis children were taken from their families by law and shipped to the residential schools, the majority of them against their will.

We were never really aware of the long history of emotional, physical and, sometimes, sexual abuse that confronted so many of these children, causing a long ripple of destructive behaviour within the aboriginal community, which they, and the rest of us, don’t know how to fix.

But, how would we know how to fix a problem that we didn’t really know existed, at least to the extent that we do now?

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair, Justice Murray Sinclair holds a copy of the commission’s interim report during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday February 24, 2012. (Canadian Press)

It is not like we were taught about it in school — which is something the reconciliation commission now wants to change.

Its first interim report last month asked provincial governments to examine their school curricula to make sure this sad chapter of Canadian history is well documented.

But is that enough? If we are going to retell our history from the human perspective, maybe we shouldn’t just stop there, or with what we learn in school.

When I came to Canada as a girl in 1987, I remember feeling as if we were moving to a modern Europe, where everyone was white, spoke European languages — English and French — and the biggest concern in my family was to become Canadian, in the white, Protestant work ethic sense.

As best as I can remember, no one suggested during the immigration process that we might want to learn Ojibwe, or where the Cree lived.

We had only a romanticized sense of North American Indians in those days anyway, probably from TV.

We weren’t expected to know anything about the ongoing struggle for aboriginal rights and land treaties, or about residential schools.

The daily lives of aboriginal Canadians were pretty much a non-issue in our introduction to this country. What’s more, it’s not like many of us gained a better understanding of these things once we entered the school system.

Reflecting back on it, Canadian history, as it was taught to those of my generation anyway, only began once the Europeans arrived and was seen through that prism.

Aboriginal Canadians, in particular, seemed to be frozen in time. We never learned much about the pre-contact period, nor about their modern-day tribulations, or contributions such as building big-city skyscrapers in the 1960s and ’70s, or fighting in the World Wars.

How not to teach Canadian history - Canada - CBC News

How not to teach Canadian history

Putting Canada’s real aboriginal story, and others too, in school curriculums

Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, a Maliseet woman from New Brunswick’s Tobique Nation,  has been a driving force in securing rights for Aboriginal women in Canada, and is also a wonderful example of the impact one woman can have when she sets out to correct an injustice.

Sandra lost her status when she married a white man, and even once divorced, she and her children didn’t recover her status. At the time, the Tobique band council refused to allocate her a subsidized house. The law made no similar provision for Native men who married non-aboriginals. Women who lost status were effectively barred from having their children educated on the reserve and taking part in band decisions. In 1977, Ms. Lovelace Nicholas took her case to the United Nations human-rights committee, charging that the discriminatory measures in Canada’s Indian Act violated an international covenant on civil and political rights – a case she won in 1981. The law was not reversed until 1985; it took her nearly ten years to recover her status.

Challenging discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, which deprived Aboriginal women of their status when they married non-Aboriginals, she was instrumental in bringing the case before the United Nations Human Rights Commission and lobbying for the 1985 legislation which reinstated the rights of Aboriginal women and their children in Canada.  In 1990, she was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 1992, she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas’ efforts have helped advance the cause of civil rights in this country, and her pride, strength and determination have made her a role model for many Aboriginal women. A proud mother of 4, she studied at St. Thomas University for 3 years and has a degree in residential construction from the Maine Northern Technical College.  She continues to make her home on the Tobique First Nation.

  (via Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas)

Beverly K. Jacobs (Gowehgyuseh). She is the current President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She was born into the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Southern Ontario. Her traditional name, Gowehgyuseh means “She’s visiting.”

Jacobs is a lawyer by profession and holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Windsor and a Masters Degree in Law from the University of Saskatchewan. She has taught at the University of Windsor, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and Ryerson University and began her career as an entrepreneur and consultant with her own firm, Bear Clan Consulting where she dealt with issues such as Bill C-31, Residential Schools, Matrimonial Real Property, and Aboriginal Women’s health issues.

Jacobs’ work on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women was inspired by her work with Amnesty International as the Lead Researcher and consultant for their Stolen Sisters Report. This 2004 groundbreaking document highlighted racialized and sexualized violence against Aboriginal women in Canada. Her work with Amnesty International led her to run for President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in 2004. There she successfully secured funding for Sisters In Spirit, a research, education and policy initiative aimed at raising public awareness about Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

In her role as NWAC President she has traveled extensively to raise awareness, rally citizens and inspire young Aboriginal women. Jacobs was re-elected for a second term as President of NWAC in 2006; in the same year she was appointed Chair of the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR), which advises the Minister of Environment and makes recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. In October 2008, Jacobs was honoured by Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, and Civilian Peace Service Canada as one of 50 Canadian women whose work and dedication has helped to further a culture of peace in Canada. In November 2008, she was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award in commemoration of the Persons Case, which salutes Canadian contributions to the advancement of women’s equality 

(via Beverly K. Jacobs)

Sheila Watt-Cloutier. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Sheila Watt-Cloutier is in the business of changing public opinion into public policy. Experienced in working with global decision makers for over a decade, Watt-Cloutier offers a new model for 21st Century leadership. She treats the issues of our day — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health, and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole. Every decision, whether environmental, political or economic, has a profound effect on those far from the corridors of power; to understand this connection is vital to building a sustainable world. This is Watt-Cloutier’s message. At a time when people are seeking solutions, direction, and a sense of hope, this global leader provides a big picture of where we are and where we are headed.

In 2007, Sheila Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights — especially in the Arctic, where it is felt more immediately, and more dramatically, than anywhere else in the world. (The Arctic is the planet’s health barometer; what happens in the world happens there first.) By making a human connection – by telling the human stories — she helped a generation see the issue in a newly urgent way. Her advocacy work — not just environmental but all-encompassing — is grounded in human rights, in our shared humanity.

Based in Nunavut, Watt-Cloutier is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is also the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the prestigious Norwegian Sophie Prize. From 1995 - 2002, she was elected the Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). At the ICC, she was a hugely influential voice in the successful negotiations of the Stockholm Convention, the landmark treaty banning Persistent Organic Pollutants. (POPs end up in the Arctic and have been an alarming health issue for Inuit). She was later elected in 2002 to become the International Chair of the ICC, representing the 155,000 Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Russia; she held this post until 2006. Under her leadership, she and 62 fellow Inuit from Canada and Alaska launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change, with a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She is the main signatory to the petition. Displaying calm, clear and reflective leadership on various big issues, Watt-Cloutier is a much requested speaker worldwide.

(via Sheila Watt-Cloutier)

Harriet Nahanee was a 73 year old residential school survivor, environmental activist, Pacheedaht (part of the Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous peoples of Vancouver Island) Grandmother, Elder, and Warrior. She passed away on February 24, 2007, in the manner that she lived her life, standing strong defending indigenous land and people. She was a powerful presence who was committed to indigenous education, environmental justice, and indigenous rights. As an Indian Boarding School survivor, Nahanee worked tirelessly to ensure that indigenous education saved what she saw as “the lost generations” and also spoke out about the gendered and cultural impact of Boarding School policies – including rape, murder of babies to hide the evidence, and burial in mass graves, etc. that typified some of the “women’s issues” at Boarding Schools.

She was concerned with re-instilling pride and traditional ways which she saw ran decidedly counter to nation-building in the West and its counter-productive consequences. Harriet died from pneumonia and undiagnosed lung cancer after serving 2 weeks in prison for her part in the 2006 blockade to defend Eagle Bluff, from the expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway, on her husband’s Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) territory. The highway expansion was a key development project for the corrupt Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Winter Olympics.

In her lifetime, Harriet Nahanee was a loyal supporter of AIM Warrior Leonard Peltier, who was extradited from Vancouver in 1976, and convicted of the murder of 2 FBI agents. At the time of her passing Nahanee had been weak from the flu and asthma in January, and it was widely suspected that Nahanee’s condition worsened during her incarceration at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre. An inquiry into her passing was called for in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on March 5. Following the completion of the Inquiry, colonial Solicitor-General John Les said the provincial government expressed “regret” for the passing, but as is so often the case denied any settler-government responsibility and refused opposition requests for an inquiry. She was an inspiration to women and activists everywhere. She was defiant and bold to the last minute.

(via Harriet Nahanee)

Bertha Allen spent her lifetime championing the rights of Aboriginal and Northern women in Canada. Her strength of character and commitment to achieve equality for Aboriginal women was an inspiration. Her role as an activist and leader also led to the creation of numerous training centers for Native women in Yellowknife and Inuvik.   A founding member of the Native Women’s Association of North West Territories, Ms. Allen was laid to rest after succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 76.

A Gwich’in women’s leader who was born in Old Crow, Yukon, Ms. Allen lived most of her life in the Mackenzie Delta area. She was a staunch believer in advancing social change on behalf of Aboriginal and Northern women; and as a result devoted her life toward helping to achieve this equality on a number of fronts. Her involvement dates back to the 1970’s when she helped to found the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories, eventually becoming the organization’s first President. Later on, Ms. Allen conducted work on the issue of gender equality for Aboriginal women by acting nationally as the President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Her involvement in pursuit of equality was expansive. In addition to her leadership roles within NWAC, Ms. Allen also worked on the NWT Constitutional Committee, served on the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee to the RCMP Commissioner, the NWT Judicial Appointments Committee, and the Multicultural Advisory Committee to the RCMP.

In 2005, she was recognized for her leadership and received the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This recognition continued on in 2007, when she was named to the Order of Canada. Last year, she was honoured with the Northern Medal by Governor General Michaëlle Jean for her role in supporting equality for Aboriginal and Northern women.

(via NWAC mourns the death of former president Bertha Allen | NWAC/l’AFAC)

More: [Footprints] Bertha Allen fought for equality and empowerment | Windspeaker – AMMSA: Aboriginal news, issues and culture.

 (via Bertha Allen)

“Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all, but he has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us different complexions and different customs…. Since he has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude that he has given us a different religion?…

“Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own.”


Campaign Titled: Healthy Sexuality and Fighting Homophobia: Native Youth Photography Project

About the Project:

This is the first national campaign for First Nations youth across Canada to fight homophobia and normalize healthy sexuality!

First Nations youth from across Canada came together in March 2010 to create a national campaign about sexuality and fighting homophobia. These are the images created from the campaign which can be utilized as posters, postcards, as well as community newspaper inserts for articles and awareness.

About the Organization:

The Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) is a North-America wide organization working on issues of healthy sexuality, cultural competency, youth empowerment, reproductive justice, and sex positivity by and for Native youth.

The reclamation and revitalization of traditional knowledge about people’s fundamental human rights over their bodies and spaces, intersected with present-day realities is fundamental to our work.

We work within the full spectrum of reproductive and sexual health for Indigenous peoples.


(via onedirectionfacingmecca)