HIP was created by Rotarians in Southern Ontario in partnership and consultation with a number of indigenous people. We are honouring indigenous people by supporting their educational efforts and encouraging all Canadians to be aware of indigenous issues, history and culture.
In our work we are guided by the initial treaties that are represented by the wampum belts that were historically exchanged by indigenous and non-indigenous people in North America. There are many wampum belts.
The Two Row Wampum belt is a treaty representing friendship, peace and respect. This belt has two purple lines symbolizing a canoe and a European ship travelling down the river of life together. The canoe carries the laws, spirituality and way of life for the First Nations or indigenous people and the ship carries the laws, religion and way of life of the Europeans, the North American settlers. It is understood that each should travel side by side, co-existing in mutual respect and harmony.
The Two Row Wampum belt is an original agreement to honour friendship, peace and respect. We hope the actions coming from our combined initiative will help to reconcile the past and create harmony in the future. We are hopeful every Rotary Club and Rotarian in Canada will join us and help to lead the way for all Canadians, and that, in turn, all Canadians will join with us.
’If you feel indigenous, no, that is not enough,’ says Rebeka Tabobondung of Wasauksing First Nation.
The first time I heard author Joseph Boyden speak was last June when he gave the keynote address at a health-care conference in a Richmond Hill hotel.
Boyden spoke for nearly an hour, played the harmonica and held the crowd captive as he spoke of his battle with depression and attempted suicide when he was a teen.
When he described himself, I felt an immediate kinship. Boyden was raised in Toronto and he described his background as mostly Celtic — his dad, Raymond, a Second World War hero, was Irish and his mom, Blanche, Scottish and Anishinaabe.
While I’m not Irish, I was raised outside of Toronto, my father was Polish Canadian, and my maternal grandmother, Margaret Dyck, is indigenous. She carries an Indian status card and her community is Fort William First Nation. She never lived on the reserve but in the bush, in Graham and Raith, places so small you would be pressed to find them on a map.
I thought Boyden’s background gave authenticity to his writing because his voice came from his mixed-blood background.
Then, shortly before Christmas, I read APTN reporter Jorge Barrera’s story, “Author Joseph Boyden’s Shape-Shifting Indigenous Identity,” and I cringed. Barrera’s detailed investigative report challenged Boyden’s claim to indigenous blood.
“Boyden has never publicly revealed exactly from which Earth his indigenous heritage grows. It has been an ever shifting, evolving thing. Over the years, Boyden has variously claimed his family’s roots extended to the Métis, Mi’kmaq, Ojibway and Nipmuc peoples,” Barrera wrote.
Those are roots from many trees.
The storm that followed on social media has been epic. Indigenous academics, writers and artists have weighed in. The debate has been thoughtful and informed and has evolved from bloodlines to one of belonging and nationhood. It is the nations that decide who belongs and who doesn’t. A nation can claim you, embrace you. And you are also responsible to your nation. You help, you contribute and when you make a mistake, you own up, ask for forgiveness and then the nation decides.Read more...