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

 

 

Fashion is survival in Pond Inlet, Nunavut

By Jillian VieiraThe Kit
Thu., Oct. 25, 2018
 

It’s hard to imagine how remote Pond Inlet is until you land in its Starbucks-sized airport.

A three-hour flight north of Iqaluit (which is already three hours from Ottawa), the tiny Nunavut community of 1,600 people sits on the northern tip of Baffin Island amongst vast nothingness; the next settlement is 250 undrivable kilometres away. The tundra’s otherworldly green is visible in all directions, baby icebergs idle in the milky-blue waters, and primary-hued dwellings emerge between a blink-and-you-miss-it gap in the mountain ranges.

And then there’s the cold: During the winter, and its 24 hours of total darkness, the wind chills often dip to -50 C for weeks on end. And so, on the backs of four-wheelers and along the muddied, late-summer streets that wind toward the shores of Eclipse Sound, the primarily Inuit locals sport hand-fashioned coats designed to endure the conditions.

These coats are the reason Toronto-based outerwear purveyor Canada Goose is in town for the day. The brand’s Resource Centre Program, a project in partnership with northern airline First Air, works alongside community leaders to donate discontinued materials, surplus fabrics, buttons and zippers to residents of northern communities. The initiative began back in 2007 when Meeka Atagootak and Rebecca Kiliktee, two sewers from Pond Inlet, were invited by the brand to Toronto to create a commemorative coat. While the pair were touring the Canada Goose facilities, they spotted post-production scrap material and asked if they could bring fabric home to create their own coats. The request evolved into this project, the aim of which is not to outfit the locals in retail-ready parkas (the climate here demands something beyond what Canada Goose produces), but rather offer traditional sewers and craftspeople the opportunity to assemble their own iterations befitting of the environment.

When the more than 10,000 metres of fabric arrive at the local community centre, there’s already a snaking line out the door. The excitement is palpable as some 200 women eagerly eye the material that is normally unavailable to them. According to Stats Canada, nearly 50 per cent of the population’s total income is less than $20,000, and in a place where a small box of cereal costs more than $13, that doesn’t leave much for the parka-appropriate fabric that sells for $17 a yard in the co-op.

The scene spans multiple generations: Grandmothers squeal “Yes!” when they spot a particular pattern, while young mothers, carrying little ones in traditional amauti — a parka with a pouch built in the back — shepherd their eldest children around the abounding fold-out tables.

For Canada Goose’s CEO, Dani Reiss, the nearly 10-year old program that’s served seven hamlets is about establishing meaningful alliances with the locals. “It’s important for us to stay connected with these communities,” he says on the ground in Pond Inlet following the donation event. “I think this is a really great way of doing that: Giving them materials they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, to create their own products for their own drive and culture.”

Talented, resourceful women such as Killiktee are common in Pond Inlet. Jessica, a shy 23-year-old who learned to sew under her mother’s guidance, as is the case with many of the women here, tells me that she’s scooped up some fabric to create a coat for her 5-year-old daughter. Another woman carries her share of a reflective, snowflake-printed fabric and notes that in just two days she’ll be able to produce outerwear for her own young daughters.

While it only takes 15 minutes for the textiles to be completely cleaned out, the material is not taken lightly. Nothing is thrown away here; leftover scraps are fashioned into tents and thin, summer-appropriate jackets. If one’s haul yields some extra material, says one local, she’ll share it with her neighbours, or maybe sew something for her at no charge. It’s the kind of community-minded outlook that allows this tiny hamlet to thrive in one of nature’s most beautiful and rugged locations.

Pond Inlet native Apphia Killiktee, who has handmade seven coats for friends and family this year alone, says being able to customize her handiwork from top to bottom is key. She shows me a zipper-less, pull-over-style parka that she crafted for her 39-year-old son, Kane. The minimalist black piece extends past the knee and gains its windproof quality from a double layer of an insulating fibre called Hollofil (down doesn’t provide enough warmth in these parts, Killiktee explains). It’s outfitted with reflectors for visibility and a big pocket across the belly that holds a radio and flashlight — all necessities required by the many dark months of winter.

 

From far away, the map covering the lawn on Parliament Hill looks like modern-day Canada.

When you get closer, though, you see that the traditional provincial borders have been stripped away, replaced by huge swaths of green, purple and yellow to represent traditional Indigenous lands. The only cities are those with significant Indigenous populations, such as Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.

Read the whole story with the link below:

https://www.thestar.com/ipolitics/federal/2018/10/22/new-indigenous-map-makes-parliamentary-debut.html

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Canada's youth will be the ones to chart a way forwardfor reconciliation: FineDay

There is reason for optimism in the fact that Canada's youth will be key to the cause of reconciliation, says Max FineDay, executive director of the Canadian Roots Exchange. "When Canadians are polled, it's young people that are the most optimistic that reconciliation can be achieved in their lifetime," says FineDay, noting that each generation has a different idea of what reconciliation should look like. FineDay says that Canada's Millennials will begin to shape a path forward in coming years, and will focus on building a national network of passionate people who are willing to learn from each other and help adapt solutions that have previously been successful in other communities across the country. FineDay concludes that Canada is at a critical juncture in the process of reconciliation, one in which it can either continue moving forward or retrench in the colonial mindset.

Kainai First Nations athlete calls on McGill to change Redmen name

An athlete on McGill University's rowing team is calling on the university to change the Redmen team name. "Listening to the experiences of other varsity athletes throughout the university and other Indigenous students on campus, I thought it was important to orchestrate a movement where we could demonstrate our discontent with the continued usage of the Redmen name," said McGill student Tomas Jirousek, who is from the Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta. McGill interim Student Life and Learning Deputy Provost Fabrice Labeau explained that the name stems from colours worn by the team, but that Indigenous symbols, connotations, and unofficial nicknames were propagated by the media and fans. McGill's taskforce on Indigenous studies and Indigenous education released a report last year that included a call for the varsity teams' name to be changed within one to two years of the report. "We are very proud of our curent and former student athletes and their achievements;" said Labeau, "but we are also aware, as is any organization, of the fact that some portions of our history may not reflect current values, and of the need to reconcile past and present."

Seneca opens Odeyto centre

Seneca College has officially opened its new Indigenous centre at its Newnham campus. The multipurpose space is named after the Anishnaabe word "Odeyto," which means "the Good Journey". The centre features an office space, a computer lab, a kitchen and dedicated space for Indigenous elders. "The structure looks like a canoe resting on its side and the curvature of the roof mimics the position of the sun on June 21, the annual National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada," explained Seneca associate dean of student services and Indigenous education Mark Solomon. "A neon sign created by the Cree visual artist Joi Arcand is among the Indigenized features inside Odeyto. It's truly a home for our Indigenous students."