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



Mapping Toronto’s Indigenous roots

By Patty WinsaFeature Writer
Sat., June 16, 2018

1. Clovis people, around 11000 BC: Archeologists haven’t found any evidence that Clovis, the precursors of most of North America’s Indigenous people, lived in Toronto after the glaciers retreated, but archeologist Ron Williamson believes it is possible. A fluted Clovis stone point has been found as close as the Rouge River in Markham and bones of mastodons, the elephant-like animals they most likely hunted, have been found near Christie Pits and during excavations for the Eaton’s department store at College and Yonge Sts. The Clovis are a prehistoric people whose tools were first uncovered near Clovis, N.M., in the 1920s and ’30s.

2. Spear point, around 8000 BC: The city’s oldest artifact, a Holcombe point — named for a beach in Michigan where similar stone tools were first found — was discovered by an elementary student here in the 1970s. The spear point, which dates from 8400 to 8000 BC, would have been used by some of the area’s earliest Indigenous people, who hunted small mammals and migratory caribou. The point, flaked from a sedimentary rock known as chert, is rare in the Toronto region. It’s at the ROM.

3. Withrow, at least 5,000 years old: In the late 1800s,archeologist David Boyle examined an Indigenous cemetery disturbed during roadwork on a high point of land overlooking the Don River. The remains of 30 people were apparently buried in one area, and more in another. A newspaper story reported Boyle found a handful of artifacts including a stone axe, chisel and knife and pottery fragments, and recovered a number of skulls and other bones. Boyle was appointed by the Canadian Institute Museum as the country’s first full-time professional archeologist in 1888. His collection of 50,000 artifacts, including a 7,000-year-old slate point from Withrow, was transferred to the ROM in 1914.

4. James Gardens, around 2000 BC: 4,000-year-old spearheads and stone tools were discovered in the 1920s in a homeowner’s backyard. Archeological Services Inc. (ASI) examined the objects in 2007, after the man’s grandson read a story about similar objects in the Star, and dated the spearheads. The other tools were from the Woodland period, about 1000 BC to AD 1000. All items were returned to the family.

5. Ancient occupation and burial site, around 800 BC: In the early 1970s, an ancient cemetery site near Grenadier Pond was documented by an archeologist. A second rumoured site called Bear Mound, next to High Park’s Grenadier Restaurant, was investigated by an archeological firm, which found no evidence to support it.

6. Huron-Wendat villages

The Huron-Wendat were committed farmers who typically exhausted the fertility of surrounding soils before moving on to a different site. Partial excavations at a number of sites in Toronto dating from around 1300 to 1500 have revealed evidence of longhouses surrounded by fences, called palisades, made of wooden stakes, as well as human remains. Thousands of artifacts have been recovered including stone and animal bone tools and fragments of ceramic vessels and pipes which were believed to contain spirits. Many of the sites have only been subject to test excavations in the 50's and 60's, so there is little known about them.

6. Alexandra, 1350: Discovered during an archeological assessment in 2000, detailed excavations by ASI showed evidence of 16 longhouses and thousands of fragments of vessels and pipes, stone tools and shaped bone tools. The pattern of the houses suggest there were phases of occupation of the site. One of the semi-subterranean sweat lodges on the site had portions of a woven mat on its floor.

7. Parsons, 1500: One of the most-studied villages is a 1.2-hectare site that was first excavated in the 1950s by U of T students as part of a field school run by the Ontario Archaeological Society. It was excavated again in the late 1980s by ASI. The village was twice as large as other sites due to the amalgamation of smaller communities who joined for protection. Excavations showed evidence of longhouses and subterranean sweat lodges surrounded by a defensive palisade. Pottery and pipe fragments found here, similar to other sites in southern Ontario, suggest groups across a large geographic area were in contact with each other. ASI’s collection from Parsons is housed at the University of Waterloo. The Huron-Wendat nation is currently exhibiting material from Parsons in Quebec City.

Huron-Wendat ossuaries

8. Moatfield, 1300: A village — and ossuary containing the remains of about 90 people — was discovered here during the expansion of a soccer field in 1997 when a fence post was driven into the centre of the burial site.

9. Tabor Hill, 1300: The burial site, on the summit of a hill overlooking Highland Creek, contained the remains of 472 people associated with the Thompson site, although researchers say more than one community may have been buried here.

 Historic Period Settlements

10. Baby Point, around 1670 to 1690: A Seneca village called Teiaiagon existed here, surrounded by the three sisters — fields of corn, bean and squash — and fortified by the steep banks of the Humber Valley. The vantage point allowed control of the fur trade on the Humber River, which was part of the Carrying Place trail, a main trade route. The land was bought by James Baby in 1820. Archeological investigations in the 1880s yielded artifacts and many burials.

11. Ganatsekwyagon (1660s-1680s): This is a rare intact Seneca village situated near the mouth of the Rouge River within the boundaries of Rouge Valley Park that has never been fully excavated. The palisaded site was first reported in the late 19th century and archeological excavations to date have turned up glass beads, ceramic smoking pipes and European gunflints. It was listed as a National Historic Site by Parks Canada in 1991.

Mississauga village

12. Mississauga settlement, around 1700: In the late 19th century, archeologists examining Baby Point also found remnants of a village that they believe belonged to the Mississauga, an Anishinaabe people whose descendants are the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation. The Mississauga moved here from the north shore of Lake Huron in the 1690s, driving out the Seneca. They traded with the British and the French. Mississauga leader Tequakareigh negotiated peace with Britain after the country won control of Lake Ontario from the French. The British eventually negotiated a land deal with the Mississauga, buying up most of modern-day Toronto for some money and goods. The federal government settled a land claim with the group for $145 million in 2010.

In the GTA

There are dozens of sites outside the city’s borders, including:


The 16th-century ancestral Huron-Wendat village is on the east bank of the Humber River on land owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in Vaughan. Since 1983, students in a joint TRCA and York University field school have excavated the area and have found evidence of seven longhouses and 13 other structures and have retrieved about a million artifacts. But the village hasn’t been fully analyzed because artifacts found in the early and middle parts of the last century are in a number of hands, including the Canadian Museum of History, the ROM, U of T and Sustainable Archaeology, as well as the TRCA. The conservation authority is working to consolidate the known research on Seed Barker as well as retrieve artifacts from the site that they stored decades ago at the ROM.

Mantle Site

The 16th-century ancestral Huron-Wendat community in Whitchurch-Stouffville was excavated between 2003 and 2005. The three-hectare village had multiple palisades and 95 longhouses built during different phases. About 1,800 people inhabited the village, which was surrounded in every direction by fields of corn. More than 100,000 artifacts were retrieved including 20 ceramic vessels with sculptures of mythological “corn-husk” figures, believed to contribute to fertile fields and abundant crops. Ceramic pipe bowls were shaped as woodpeckers, owls and turtles, all of which were regarded by the Wendat as “beings.” The site is now covered by housing. The artifacts are at the Canadian Museum of History.





Kawartha Area First Nations and Other Indigenous Events Calendar


Check our some exciting activities over the summer in the Kawartha area. Click on link to get full calendar:

"The Rocks That Teach" - Petroglyphs Park - June 21

First Nations Art Show - Whetung Ojibway Centre, Curve Lake First Nation - June 21

Educational Pow Wow at Whetung - June 22

Alderville First Nation Annual Pow Wow - July 14-15

Curve Lake First Nation Pow Wow - Sept. 15-16



Kawartha Events Calendar - June 2018




Auditor general says feds fail to measure social, economic gaps between First Nations and others

By Janice DicksonThe Canadian Press
Tues., May 29, 2018

OTTAWA—Indigenous Services Canada is failing to measure and accurately report the social and economic gaps between First Nations people on reserves and other Canadians, auditor general Michael Ferguson said Tuesday.

“There are so many discussions about the need to close the socio-economic gaps between Indigenous people and other Canadians in this country and we don’t see those gaps closing,” Ferguson told a news conference after his spring report was tabled in Parliament.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson holds a press conference following the tabling of the auditor general’s report in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
“We don’t even see that they know how to measure those gaps.”

The centrepiece of Tuesday’s report was the embattled Phoenix pay system for federal civil servants, which Ferguson described as an “incomprehensible failure” — a description he also ascribed to Canada’s intractable failure to get better results for Indigenous people.

“I concluded that I have to refer to that as an incomprehensible failure as well.”

Indigenous Services Canada is not using large quantities of socio-economic data provided by First Nations and other sources, the report found. It has also failed to engage meaningfully with First Nations people in order to report whether the quality of life on reserves is improving.

The Indigenous Services index used to measure social and economic well-being is not complete, Ferguson said, because while it includes education, employment, housing and income, it lacks certain other factors important to First Nations people, such as health, environment, language and culture.

Ferguson’s audit also found that the education gap has not improved in the last 15 years, that the department did not measure the education gap on reserves and that the information reported by the department was inaccurate.

“The department’s method of calculating and reporting the on-reserve high school graduation rate of First Nations students overstated the graduation rate, because it did not account for students who dropped out between Grades 9 and 11,” it said.

Using department data from the 2011-12 to the 2015-16 fiscal years, Ferguson’s auditors calculated graduation rates that accounted for all students who dropped out in Grades 9, 10 and 11. His office found rates that were 10 to 29 percentage points lower than those reported by the department.

That means that while the department reported a graduation rate of about 46 per cent of First Nations students, Ferguson’s report showed that only about 24 per cent of students who started in Grade 9 actually finished high school within four years.

The department did not report on most education results to determine if the gap was closing, nor did it collect data to improve programs or inform funding decisions, or assess data for accuracy and completeness, Ferguson found. It was also unable to report how federal funding for on-reserve education compares with funding levels for other education systems across the country.

Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott said the government is committed to prioritizing education and the well-being of Indigenous Peoples.

“Our government is resolute in renewing the relationship we have with Indigenous Peoples,” said Philpott, adding that the government is taking steps to eliminate the gaps.

Ferguson also looked at how Employment and Social Development Canada implemented, monitored, reported on and improved two programs aimed at helping Indigenous people find work.

He found the department did not collect data or identify performance indicators that would show whether the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy and the Skills and Partnership Fund were increasing the number of people getting sustainable employment.

Ferguson said that while the goal of the programs is to help Indigenous people find sustainable employment, the department didn’t define what that work looked like — making a part-time job or a five-day temporary assignment on a construction site qualify as sustainable.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said the government is working with Indigenous partners to co-develop and implement the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program.

The audit’s findings highlight the legacy of decades of underfunding for Indigenous communities under previous governments, Hajdu added.




Ottawa must learn from failures on Indigenous programs

Sun., June 10, 2018

More Indigenous children are taken from their homes by children’s aid societies today than were displaced at the height of the residential school system.

The inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women is bogged down in delay and reciminations.

And the federal government spent $110,000 to avoid paying a $6,000 bill for a 16-year-old Indigenous girl’s braces before finally deciding to update its dental care policies.

No matter how many politicians talk about rebuilding the relationship with Indigenous peoples and fixing the failed policies of the past, things just don’t seem to get any better on the ground.

In that context, it’s hardly a surprise that Canada’s auditor general, Michael Ferguson, found yet more examples of federal failure. This time with Indigenous education and employment programs.

Both are vital to achieving a better future. And that makes Ferguson’s recent report awfully depressing reading.

On education, he found a significant gap in high school graduation rates between Indigenous students living on reserves and other Canadian students.

That’s a problem that the auditor general’s office has reported on before. Not once or twice, but three times — in 2000, 2004 and 2011. And yet this new report shows that the gap has grown over the past 15 years.

Worse still, the government doesn’t seem to even know that.

The government’s data suggests that between 2011 and 2016 one in two on-reserve First Nations students graduated high school. In fact, the figure is just one in four, according to Ferguson.

That means the situation has gotten worse, not better, as the government’s poorly collected data says.

The government only measured the graduation rates of students enrolled in their final year. That means they left out all the students who dropped out between grades 9 and 11, obscuring the true picture.

Beyond that, they didn’t bother to collect data on what portion of these students were graduating with a diploma that would actually be recognized by a post-secondary institution, enabling them to continue on to the higher education that’s increasingly needed to succeed.

How can Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott possibly expect to fix a problem when her ministry doesn’t even know the extent of the problem?

Education programs, sadly, aren’t the only failure related to incomplete and inaccurate data.

On employment, Ferguson found that Employment and Social Development Canada did not collect the data it needed to assess whether programs aimed at helping Indigenous people find work were actually increasing the number of people finding sustainable jobs.

And this isn’t some new portfolio the department is just getting a handle on; it’s something they’ve been doing for 30 years.

Furthermore, the department’s strategy for handing out funding is based on decades-old data. And it doesn’t reallocate funding to groups proven to be more successful in helping clients find jobs.

So it’s the same basic problems that Ferguson uncovered on the education file: the government isn’t collecting the right data in some areas, and in others it’s not using the data it has to improve outcomes.

He’s right. It’s as though governments have stopped believing they can make a difference in the lives of Indigenous peoples and are simply going through the motions.

That can’t continue. As Ferguson points out, failure can be “a way to learn and improve.”

We’ve had far too much of failure just being failure. It’s long past time the government learned something from it.



Canada's first Indigenous-led think tank to focus on government legislation, self-governance

Hayden King

Yellowhead Institute Executive Director Hayden King on CTV’s Your Morning.


Rachel Kelly, Special to CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2018 3:16PM EDT

Canada’s first-ever Indigenous-led think tank, Yellowhead Institute, has launched at Toronto’s Ryerson University. The group aims to analyze government legislation on Indigenous issues from the community’s perspective.

“The think tank is really trying to address and focus on all of the changes that are happening in the relationship between Canadians and Indigenous People,” Executive Director Hayden King told CTV’s Your Morning.

“It’s clear we are moving in a different direction. It’s unclear which direction we are headed.”

Yellowhead Institute’s primary focus is land and self-governance issues, with secondary goals of promoting public education and community research into policy issues.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a commitment to officially recognize Indigenous rights in the Constitution by the end of the year through new federal legislation.

King points out that there has historically been very little analysis on legislation from within the Indigenous community. Yellowhead Institute will be the first group of its kind to use a non-partisan, Indigenous lens to examine government legislation.

“For so long, these discussions have been dominated by non-Indigenous people,” said King.

Governed by the Ryerson Faculty of Arts, Yellowhead Institute is run by King, a majority-Indigenous board of advisers, and a research team. King said the think tank will make academic research from an Indigenous perspective accessible for policy makers and the public.

Yellowhead Institute will publish bi-monthly public policy briefs and bi-annual special research reports, as well as host workshops and conferences to create a dialogue between Indigenous communities and Canadians.

The think tank derives its name from a chief from the 1800s, William Yellowhead, whose territory extended from east Toronto to Muskoka. He was a British Loyalist and a strong defender of Indigenous jurisdiction. Muskoka is named for Yellowhead’s Anishinaabe name, Musquakie.

“We wanted to name the institute after someone we could aspire to, somebody that we could honour,” said King.