Update on things happening in Rotary and indigenous communities, including current events – Rotary luncheons with guest speakers, open community and cultural gatherings, etc.

 

 

ROM’s newly reopened Indigenous galleries ‘a great beginning’

With the renewed Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada, now free of charge, the museum takes a step toward closing the rift between Indigenous communities and mainstream society, writes Murray Whyte.

The Royal Ontario Museum reopened its Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada, devoted to Indigenous art and culture, following years of consultation with its Indigenous advisory board.
The Royal Ontario Museum reopened its Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada, devoted to Indigenous art and culture, following years of consultation with its Indigenous advisory board.   (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR)
By Murray WhyteVisual Arts Critic
Thu., April 19, 2018
 
 

A pea-sized pebble, earthy brown and polished smooth, sits next to my keyboard as I write this, alongside a pinch of tobacco, bound in bright yellow fabric and tied up with ribbon.

They’re gifts from a group of Indigenous children, who passed them out to everyone who came to the Royal Ontario Museum’s grand reopening of its Canadian galleries Wednesday morning and, for me, the generosity astounds: a people from whom so much was taken, still willing to give.

To not take it personally seems to miss the point. Just before the crowd settled into its seat, Louise Profeit-LeBlanc, who is Tlingit, and Clayton Shirt, who is Anishinaabe, led the group in a smudging ceremony in the museum’s new space. We formed a circle, at Profeit-LeBlanc’s request, and Shirt walked slowly around, a thatch of smouldering sweetgrass in his hand, offered to each one of us as a purifying rite.

This was not an off-the-rack institutional procedural: the ribbon-cutting, handshaking photo op that these things have most often been. “There are teachings among the Indigenous people about humility,” Profeit-LeBlanc said, her voice quiet but clear as she addressed the circle. “Humility is required to acquire knowledge. For a long time, people made assumptions about us. Now we can all learn together.”

 

Josh Basseches, the ROM’s director, had come with something to give, too. After a performance by the Bear Creek Drummers under the gilded mosaic ceiling of the museum’s original grand entrance off Queen’s Park, Basseches announced that the renewed Canadian galleries would be free, permanently, to anyone.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie urges patience, empathy on both sides of reconciliation

The award-winning singer-activist made the appeal at a Dalhousie University event.

 Buffy Sainte-Marie has received an honorary doctorate of laws from Dalhousie University.
Buffy Sainte-Marie has received an honorary doctorate of laws from Dalhousie University.   (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
By Fadila ChaterThe Canadian Press
Wed., April 18, 2018
 
 

HALIFAX—The road to reconciliation must include empathy and patience from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, famed Aboriginal singer-activist Buffy Sainte-Marie said Tuesday as she touched on a legacy of racism she has been fighting much of her life.

The award-winning songwriter told a Halifax audience that decolonization is a shared effort between the descendants of European settlers and Indigenous people, and Aboriginal people should teach others about injustice in a compassionate and noncombative way.

Indigenous people need to understand that much of “settler racism has to do with not knowing,” she told the sold-out crowd.

In effect, Sainte-Marie said people in conflict should treat each other as if they were children and didn’t know about Canada’s painful history of Aboriginal relations.

“Don’t devalue people because of their immaturity or their lack of knowledge: That’s what you’re there to remedy,” Sainte-Marie said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “You’re there to teach, not to scold.”

The celebrated singer issued the appeal before a presentation ceremony at Dalhousie University, where she received an honorary doctorate of laws.

“Even though things have changed a lot, the good news about the bad news is that more people know about it now,” she said.

“It’s going to take compassion and empathy and good hearts in both communities to ripen Canada into the way it could be.”

 

The singer, who now lives in Hawaii, reflected on her long journey to draw attention to the plight of Indigenous people.

“It took 50 years for the general public in Canada to address these issues,” she said. “I think a lot of people have been on the edge of understanding.”

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Tour of ancient Indigenous village offers unique B.C. vacation opportunity

Visitors become witnesses to the Huu-ay-aht First Nation culture and history, says council member.

 
A group tours the Huu-ay-aht First Nation's ancient capital site of Kiixin in September 2017, located at Bamfield, B.C., on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island overlooking Barkley Sound. The tour runs May through September.
A group tours the Huu-ay-aht First Nation's ancient capital site of Kiixin in September 2017, located at Bamfield, B.C., on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island overlooking Barkley Sound. The tour runs May through September.   (Chris Thorn Photography / The Canadian Press)
Kiixin tour guide Robert Dennis Junior (Wiisqi) holds a sketch of what the original Kiixin village looked like when it was inhabited.
Kiixin tour guide Robert Dennis Junior (Wiisqi) holds a sketch of what the original Kiixin village looked like when it was inhabited.  (.hris Thorn Photography / The Canadian Press)
Tour guide Stella Peters stops on a boardwalk. Visitors learn about plant life in the area used for cultural and medicinal purposes.https://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/life/travel/2018/04/16/tour-of-ancient-indigenous-village-offers-unique-bc-vacation-opportunity/indigenousvillagetour_3.jpg.size.custom.crop.433x650.jpg 433w">
Tour guide Stella Peters stops on a boardwalk. Visitors learn about plant life in the area used for cultural and medicinal purposes.  (Chris Thorn Photography / The Canadian Press)
 
A group tours the Huu-ay-aht First Nation's ancient capital site of Kiixin in September 2017, located at Bamfield, B.C., on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island overlooking Barkley Sound. The tour runs May through September.   (Chris Thorn Photography / The Canadian Press)
 
By Linda GivetashThe Canadian Press
Wed., April 18, 2018
 
 

BAMFIELD, B.C.—Surrounded by old-growth rainforest against the rocky shoreline on the southwest edge of Vancouver Island lies a centuries-old Indigenous village where traditional longhouses accessible only by foot remain undisturbed.

The Huu-ay-aht First Nation began offering tours of the ancient capital Kiixin — pronounced kee-hin — last year in an effort to share their cultural heritage with the world and revitalize the quiet coastal town of Bamfield.

Trevor Cootes, a member of the Huu-ay-aht's executive council, says opening up the rare archeological site to the world has been years in the making.

"For guests coming into our territory ... they're almost witnessing what we're doing in regards to truth and reconciliation. Truth and reconciliation has to do more with ourselves and how we put our own culture back into our day-to-day lives."

The Huu-ay-aht is among several Vancouver Island First Nations to sign a treaty in 2011 and is self-governing.

The ancient site near Bamfield is located between the popular tourist destinations of Ucluelet and the West Coast Trail, and is accessible by either logging road, plane or ferry from Port Alberni.

The Canadian government declared the village and fortress, which dates back to the 19th century, a National Historic Site in 1999.

The roughly three-hour tour offers more than a history lesson about the site. Guides tell stories reflecting the beliefs and traditions of the Huu-ay-aht people, including a tale of how their warriors reclaimed the land from a neighbouring nation and spiritual beliefs rooted in the land, water and stars.

 

"In our culture when you come to our territory and we share something to you, a part of that responsibility is that you now are a witness to who we are as Huu-ay-aht people," Cootes says. "Instead of just paying for a tour, you're being part of something and there is almost this life-long connection to Huu-ay-aht."

Visitors also learn about significant plant life in the area used for cultural and medicinal purposes.

"The idea is that we paint a picture of what is in the land," Cootes says.

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Eastview students raise awareness of injustice toward First Nations people

Students in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cultural Club from Eastview Secondary School in Barrie, ON recently shared stories with their peers and held a justice walk in hopes of raising awareness and understanding of the struggles faced by First Nations people. About 100 students took part in the justice walk. Grade 10 student Hannah Gill, one of the co-founders of the group, explained that the shooting of Colten Boushie encouraged them to raise awareness at the high school. "We realized there was no other representation at the school, so we took it upon ourselves to be that representation," added Grade 10 student and club co-founder Samantha Scott. "It was a pretty big win that people wanted to sign up and come out. We hope that they realize that it is happening and it brings it to their attention because I know a lot of people are just oblivious".

 

 

 

 

Métis people divided as children spirited away

The Métis Nation warns it’s losing kids at an alarming rate. Part 1 of B.C.’s Invisible Families, an investigation into a crisis generations in the making.

Shae-Lynn Noskye, 22, in Vancouver, where she spent six years in foster care.
Shae-Lynn Noskye, 22, in Vancouver, where she spent six years in foster care.  (David P. Ball / StarMetro)
By David P BallStarMetro Vancouver
Sun., April 15, 2018
 
 

Métis are the descendants of mixed Cree-French ancestry from the historic Métis Homeland in Manitoba and the Prairies. The 2016 Census found 89,405 in B.C. call themselves Métis, one-third of all Indigenous people. At least 16,000 of them are registered as citizens of the Métis Nation of B.C. The Métis language is Michif.

Who are the Métis?

Growing up, Shae-Lynn Noskye didn’t know much about her Métis family’s history. She knew that her mother had moved to Vancouver from Alberta while pregnant with her, leaving behind their extended family in the Prairies, known as the Métis Homeland.

Even now, the only other thing she really knows about them is that many, many were taken into government custody as children. That pattern, she said, goes way back.

“My great-grandfather was in residential school, where they took away his name,” the 22-year-old Métis and Cree woman told StarMetro. “I think all of my four aunties went into care. Some of my cousins have been in foster care as well, and when my mom was 16, she ran away from her own foster placement.

“So I’d have to say, there’s a lot of intergenerational trauma. And growing up … I was really used to just packing my bags, picking up and leaving.”

When Noskye was 14, she said, her mother’s addiction problems and mental illness meant she couldn’t take care of her properly. So one day, Noskye collected her belongings and asked a school counsellor to find her another home.

Though she voluntarily entered care — unlike the 91 per cent of removed Indigenous children who are taken against their parents’ will — she was repeatedly bumped from home to home. From 14 until she aged out of the system at 19, Noskye moved through half a dozen homes.

 

“For the most part, I felt really displaced,” she said. “You definitely lose your voice in the care system.”

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