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



The Globe in Thunder Bay

Hate and hope in Thunder Bay: A city grapples with racism against Indigenous people

In this Ontario city, racism against Indigenous people has taken a deadly toll. Police and political leaders are being asked to do better. How they respond could shape the future of reconciliation in Canada.


Thunder Bay

'We want them to connect:' First Nations student orientation aims to address youth inquest

A First Nations education facility in Thunder Bay has welcomed 16 new students from remote northern communities to a new city orientation program.

Students will take part in various activities and tours to familiarize themselves with Thunder Bay

Adam van der Zwan · CBC News · Posted: May 08, 2019 9:30 AM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours ago
Students from northern First Nations gather at the Matawa Education Centre in Thunder Bay to begin a five-day city orientation. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

A First Nations education facility in Thunder Bay has welcomed 16 new students from remote northern communities to a new city orientation program.

The group of teenagers gathered in a large room at the Matawa Education Centre Monday to begin the week-long event, which is in response to the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations youth who died while attending high school in Thunder Bay.

Brad Battiston, the principal at the centre, said that, through fun activities such as bowling, swimming and city tours, the initiative intends to "give as much information as possible to students and parents," about the city and what kind of supports are available to them.

Many of the students may return to Thunder Bay for school in September.

Every year, youth from northern First Nations leave their homes and families for months to attend school thousands of kilometres away. Many of them have never set foot in a large city. Matawa hosts orientation session for new students. Grade 8 students get familiar with Thunder Bay and their new school at an orientation held by the Matawa Education Centre. Principal Brad Battiston hopes it will help students become more comfortable with moving south. Further deaths could be prevented. Battiston said that further deaths may be prevented by helping the students familiarize themselves with their new surroundings before moving south. "The recommendation is to try and paint as clear a picture as possible of what life would be like coming to high school here," he explained. It's important for them to "see the size of it, [...] to walk those hallways and to visualize," themselves living in Thunder Bay in a few months time. During the week, students will have the chance to tour city institutions such as the library, city hall and a couple of the high schools. They'll also partake in archery lessons with the Thunder Bay Police Service, and will eat a lunch and dinner sponsored by the city. Audio Year-2 report into 7 Indigenous youth inquest recommendations shows progress, report finds Battiston said the hope is that students will "connect in some way" with what school they'd like to go to, and with any other aspect of Thunder Bay, be it sports or cultural programs. It's also important that students be "aware of the allenges and possible negative experiences that can happen," in Thunder Bay, he added. Battiston said many of the students who'd arrived seemed nervous at the prospect of being in a school with up to 1,000  other students, "but there seems to be a lot of eagerness; there's a lot of curiosity." He said he hasn't yet heard if the program will receive the funding to continue next year, but is hoping to "hear about that shortly. "It does require a lot of planning [and] significant funding to fly the students in from the communities, to stay in the hotel," he said. "But we'd love for it to continue." Matawa Learning Centre says more eyes on city watercourses have saved lives



UNCEDED – Voices of the Land

Special Exhibition

UNCEDED – Voices of the Land

May 3, 2019 to March 22, 2020

What do Indigenous thinking and spirituality bring to the world of architecture? UNCEDED – Voices of the Land is a breathtaking multimedia installation that brings together the past, present and future of the Indigenous experience, as seen through the eyes and minds of 18 distinguished Indigenous architects and designers from across Turtle Island (North America).

Led by world-renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal and co-curated by Gerald McMaster and David Fortin, UNCEDED speaks to the contribution of Indigenous architects in shaping our world with their vision, creativity and technical skills — but above all through their connection to the land and traditional ways of knowing. Organized around four themed territories, the installation features the work of architects and designers as they tell their stories of Indigeneity, resilience, sovereignty and colonization.

UNCEDED was created to represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, the most prestigious architectural exhibition in the world.

“I firmly believe that the Indigenous world view, which has always sought this balance between nature, culture and technology, is the path that humanity must rediscover and adopt for our future. The teachings of the Elders are not the teachings of the past. They are the teachings of the future.” — Douglas Cardinal, Blackfoot, Red Deer, Alberta

“Our exhibit is about storytelling. You can’t look at a building without hearing the dances. You can’t look at a building without seeing the landscape behind it or beside it. You can’t look at a building without hearing the voice of the architect and them referencing their families.” — David Fortin, Métis Nation of Ontario

“A new critical dialogue is emerging among Indigenous artists and architects, such as the value of traditional knowledge in the face of hyper-capitalism, solidarity between Indigenous peoples, and a search for strategies of decolonization.” — Gerald McMaster, Plains Cree and member of the Siksika First Nation, Alberta

An exhibition developed by Douglas Cardinal Architect Inc. and adapted by the Canadian Museum of History.



Thunder Bay

Walk with Us project helps First Nation students 'tell stories of where they live'

A former northern Ontario teacher is hoping to help students in remote First Nation communities showcase their hometown and tell their childhood stories through the use of Google Maps Street View, with a project called Walk with Us.

Walk with Us project started in September 2016

CBC News · Posted: May 04, 2019 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: May 4
Melissa Lavoie said she started the Walk with Us project after a student in Moosonee "didn't understand" why his remote First Nation community is not featured on Google Maps street view. (Melissa Lavoie / Submitted)

A former northern Ontario teacher is hoping to help students in remote First Nation communities showcase their hometown and tell their childhood stories through the use of Google Maps Street View, with a project called Walk with Us.

"During the 2015/2016 school year ... I was at Bishop Belleau school in Moosonee and I was teaching about the uses of Google Maps and street view," she said. "There was a student there who tried to show me where his aunt lived and where he liked to play on the street," said Melissa Lavoie, the founder of Walk with Us.

"But, he couldn't because there wasn't any street view in Moosonee at that time."

She said that "got her wheels turning" as she realized students wanted to tell the stories of their communities and what affects them most.

"From there and with the help of a grant from the Ontario Teachers Federation, Walk with Us started," she said.

"It stemmed from that one student," she said, "he didn't understand why not my community. And that's the whole point of Walk with Us. Why not rural Ontario, why not north, northeastern Ontario, why not northwestern Ontario?"


First Nations education centre in Thunder Bay to get major overhaul

Matawa Education and Centre has received an investment of over $16M from Indigenous Services Canada for renovations, including new classrooms, a gymnasium, and a student residence. An investigation into the deaths of seven First Nations students who were attending school in Thunder Bay recommended that the students needed a residence or living facility when moving to the city. The City of Thunder Bay gifted the building of a former retirement lodge to the Matawa First Nations in 2017, and it has since been developed into an education and care centre for up to 200 students. "This will go a long way in bridging those cultural divides in the city of Thunder Bay," said Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River Don Rusnak. "It's completely different, you get to socialize more with students and teachers and they have cultural activities here as well as after-school programs," said Grade 12 student Andy Beaver. "It's a really good experience." The centre is expected to be completedin Fall 2020.

SK announces new language courses for high school students

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced new language courses in Dene, Nakawe and Michif at the 10, 20 and 30 levels. A provincial release notes that the initiative aligns with the TRC calls to action and the Joint Task Force recommendations, which are focused on the importance of Indigenous languages and their role in preserving cultural traditions. "It is encouraging to see a Metis language included in these efforts being made within our provincial education system," Metis Nation Saskatchewan Education Minister Earl Cook said. "This will assist in the retention of Michif, our official language. Providing Indigenous students with meaningful opportunities to learn about and connect with their cultural heritage is key to their success." School divisions across Saskatchewan will be able to offer these provincial language courses beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

Funding shortfall places Indigenous education program in jeopardy

The Indigenous Education Program, which was started by the Ottawa Community Foundation two years ago, is in danger of being discontinued due to a lack of funds. The program was funded by an anonymous donation and a community grant, which are projected to run out during the 2019/2020 school year. "This is reconciliation in action," said teacher Valerie Van Sickle of the IEP's Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. "This is reconciliation where the kids are learning culture. They're deepening their understanding, and that is an important part of the calls to action." Since the program began, over 800 Ottawa high school and elementary students have visited the Wabano Centre and partipated in tours, workshops, and information sessions about Indigenous culture and residential schools. CBC reports that most of the funding goes to transportation for students traveling to the Centre. Staff at the Wabano Centre and the Ottawa Community Foundation hope that the program becomes a mandated part of the curriculum by school boards, an action that would require funding for the programs.