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



"First Contact" Screening and Panel sparks deeper discussion about Reconciliation

by natalie.saintcyr on February 1, 2019, 10:02am. EST

Emotions were high at O’Gorman High School Thursday evening after a TV series that focused on racist stereotypes against Indigenous Peoples in Canada was screened for the public.

The Timmins Rotary Club and Northeastern Catholic District Board hosted a special screening of “First Contact”, a show produced by Winnipeg-based Animiki See Digital Productions that aired on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. The show takes six Canadians, all with strong opinions about Indigenous people, on a unique journey through Canada that challenges their perceptions and prejudices.

The event started with introductions of a number of special guests administering and taking part in the panel discussion after the screening.There was an opening drum ceremony by the New Moon Sisters and a traditional prayer by Elder Elizabeth Babin of the Wahgoshig First Nation.

Mayor George Pirie addressed the crowd with a passionate statement about where Canada as a culture is headed.

“Canada needs a dream,” he said, “and that dream can be reconciliation. It’s big enough for Canada. And we must realize it.”

After the screening, the special panel talked about the misconceptions about Indigenous people and the stereotypes the show addressed. The panel participants were Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau of Nishnawbe Aske Nation, Chief Chad Boissoneau of Mattagami First Nation, and Elizabeth Babin.

The panelists took turns talking about their personal history, including their painful connections to the Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop. All three panelists spoke of personal trauma, cultural genocide and abuse.

“Assimilation is alive and well,” said Babin. And about the history of Indigenous abuse: “Now we’re in recovery mode.”

“Canada can be the greatest nation in the world,” said Niveau, “and yet Canada bleeds.”

The lively discussion turned to the audience and members shared their experiences, both as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

“That was a lot to absorb in one night,” said Saralynn Hayward, President of the Timmins Rotary Club, “I think it’ll take some time to reflect on it. But I think one thing that probably stuck out the most was the Residential Schools. And […] I have a two and a half year old and I can’t imagine having him ripped from my hands.”

Hayward spoke to media after the event and she said it’s important to bring events like this screening to Timmins.

“I think, because of the location of Timmins, and we have so many communities and Indigenous communities near us, that we have a lot of opportunity to create these friendships and create that reconciliation that was discussed so often tonight,” said Hayward.

As an organizer of the event, Hayward said it was everything she hoped for in terms of sparking conversation, storytelling and challenging racial stereotypes. The engagement from the audience shows a real interest in the problems and finding solutions.

The Timmins Rotary and HIP (Honoring Indigenous Peoples) have a partnership that has a board made up of 50% Indigenous people and 50% Rotary members. Rotary-HIP has expressed that one of their goals is to work with children and bring awareness about Residential Schools to the classroom.

“We heard it tonight,” she said, “that it’s the children that are being affected. But it’s also the children that can effect that change. So if we work with children, we can create those generations to come that we create that reconciliation with.”

Hayward says there are lots of different opportunities within the club to work within the community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

“I see opportunities at, like, the Friendship Centre,” said Hayward, “or even at the YMCA, I’m not sure what sort of Indigenous Community is there. But there’s absolutely opportunities in Timmins.”

The show, “First Contact”, is available to watch online at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. 

Southern Ont. First Nation gifts warm clothes to Pikangikum students

The owner of a gallery in Ohsweken, a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, responded to a post on social media from Pikangikum's Eenchokay Birchstick School, asking for help to make sure students were properly clothed for the frigid winter weather.

A Six Nations business-owner arranged to send 70 new snowsuits to the local school

CBC News · Posted: Jan 25, 2019 4:00 PM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours ago
Students at Eenchokay Birchstick School in Pikangikum model new outdoor clothes gifted to them by Six Nations business-owner Dakota Brant and her sister and members of their community. (Dakota Brant/supplied)

Children and teens in Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario's far north are sporting warm new snow suits this month thanks to donations from another First Nation in southern Ontario.

Dakota Brant, who co-owns the Sapling and Flint Gallery in Ohsweken, a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, responded to a post on social media from Pikangikum's Eenchokay Birchstick School, asking for help to make sure students were properly clothed for the frigid winter weather.

Brant's company, which designs and sells jewelry, contributed 42 snowsuits to the school at a cost of more than $4,000, and other members of the Six Nations community chipped in another 28 suits. 

"We're both mothers," Brant said of herself and her sister, who co-owns the business with her. "I just don't think that there was a question that we think that when children need to be safe and warm, and there's a call-out put out there from another community ... there was no hesitating for us."  

"Everybody's child should be warm and safe," she added. 

Adults at Eenchokay Birchstick School in Pikangikum crack open the parcels of warm clothing sent from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. (Dakota Brant/supplied)

Brant was able to find an online retailer that offered free shipping, reducing the cost of the donation, she said.

The school specifically asked for new clothing, according to vice principal Jennifer Manitowabi, because it wanted quality goods that would withstand the harsh winters without needing repairs. 

The only shop in the community is the Northern Store, she said, and it's not always adequately stocked to meet every family's needs, nor are the prices accessible to everyone. 

"[The students would] come into the school off the bus, and I'd notice them only wearing a hoodie," she said. 

I'd say, "'Come with me to the office, and we're going to get you a jacket.' And typically they're expecting me to find something from the lost and found that might or might not fit them.  But [in] this case, because of the donations, we're able to offer them brand new outfits."    

Being able to offer new clothing to students right after Christmas was especially gratifying, Manitowabi said, because some children shared with her that they had not received many gifts.

"They were quite shy, but you could just see the joy in their smiles," she added of the students' reactions to the new clothes.

"When I would tell them, "OK, pick out a hat and mitts,' and then further tell them, 'Now you get to pick out a jacket and ski pants to match.'  And they almost couldn't believe me," she said.  "They're like, 'That's too much.'"

Another organization has also chipped in to help, and another six palettes-worth of clothing are on their way to the school, Manitowabi added.



Collingwood company to connect to Indigenous community with latest films

WhatsOn 1:00 AMCollingwood Connection

Awen Gathering Place

The Awen Gathering Place was designed to honour indigenous heritage. - John Edwards/Metroland

Mountain Goat Films is screening two films that focus on the local connection to the Indigenous community.

The first film is a documentary Gathering Circle, a look at the Awen Gathering Place at Harbourview Park.

The film will be screened on Jan. 30 at Simcoe Street Theatre at 7 p.m., as part of the Envisioning a Future Toward Reconciliation Presentation and Discussion event presented by the Town ofCollingwood.


 Tom and Tracey Strnad of Mountain Goat Film Company will be in attendance to discuss the film and answer questions. Register at culturesharecollingwood.eventbrite.com



2 Ontario Indigenous communities work together to create regional food cooperative

Ginoogaming and Aroland First Nations in northwestern Ontario are looking at setting up a food cooperative to serve nearby communities. The idea is being discussed as part of the Understanding Our Food System conference, running January 22-24 in Thunder Bay.

Representatives from 14 northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities sharing ideas at food security workshop

Cathy Alex · CBC News · Posted: Jan 24, 2019 8:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago
Jessica McLaughlin (left), the project coordinator at the Indigenous Food Circle in Thunder Bay, Ont., helped to organize the Understanding our Food System conference, attended by Angela Nodin (right) of Whitesand First Nation. The three-day workshop brought together people from 14 Indigenous communities to discuss food problems and solutions where they live. (Jessica McLaughlin)

Ginoogaming and Aroland First Nations in northwestern Ontario are looking at setting up a food cooperative to serve nearby communities.

The idea is being discussed as part of the Understanding Our Food System conference, running Jan. 22-24 in Thunder Bay.

The three-day workshop, hosted by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, brought together representatives from 14 communities with access to Highways 11 and 17, to explore food security and food self-determination with the goals of creating a unique food plan for each community and building long-term support networks.


Food system 'was our whole life'

The food system "was our whole life," said Jessica McLaughlin, the project coordinator at the Indigenous Food Circle in Thunder Bay, and one of the key conference organizers.

"We travelled around for food, that was how our lifestyles were pre-contact, and so we're talking a lot about them determining their own food systems and providing them with examples of people doing this work."


Canada shifts policy in effort to narrow Indigenous education fnding gap

The Canadian government is changing how it allocates nearly $2B in annual funding for First Nations education in an effort to close the gap between on-reserve students and those enrolled in provincial school systems, reports CBC. While provincial governments manage education off-reserve, the federal government funds on-reserve education. Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan said this week that the new model was developed after an extensive engagement process involving several organizations, including the Assembly of First Natoins, and that one of its core goals is to provide predictable year-over-year funding in line with provincial per-student amounts. Under the new approach, First Nations schools will also receive $1.5K per student every year towards language and cultural programs, while schools will offer full kindergarten for on-reserve kids aged four and five. The funding will be within the jurisdiction and control of chiefs and band councils.

All AB schools to receive new Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Every secondary school in Alberta will receive a copy of a new Canadian Georgraphic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. CBC reports that the resource is being touted as a comprehensive education tool written from the perspective of Indigenous Canadians. Published last year, the atlas is separated into four books, each covering a single broad topic: Truth and Reconciliation, First Nations, Inuit and Metis. "I grew up in Fort Chipewyan...and I didn't learn much about (my history)," said Marlene Poitras. Alberta regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations. ".It was only when I went to post-secondary and into nursing that I started learning (more). That was very important for me to understand. In school, I didn't get that information." The province is distributing 1,600 of the atlas sets, with a free online version available for home-school students and the general public. Charlene Bearhead, who served as the education adviser on the project, says the Royal Canadian Geographical Society heard from more than 200 Indigenous sources to create the books.

 Humber supports reconciliation with cultural land markers

Indigenous gathering places and cultural markers are part of a new genre of architecture in Canada, writes Alex Bozikovic, highlighting a trio of projects at Humber College. "We are in a state of cultural reclamation, rediscovering culture, rediscovering language and art," said Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe architecht Ryan Gorrie, who has worked on the Humber project. Bozikovic notes that the Humber projects reflect an effort by the institution to pursue recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which include sustained awareness of Indigenous land claims. "As Indigenous peoples, we've been taught that our language is written on the land," said Shelley Charles, Humber's dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement, adding that the college's set of Indigenous Cultural Markers "is a contemporary response to that, really creating a land acknowledgement in physical form."

McMaster researchers collaborate with Six Nations knowledge holders

Global Water Futures, a seven-year research program out of the University of Sask, is funding a collaboration between McMaster University researchers and traditional knowledge holders on Six Nations of the Grand River. A release states that the collaboration will focus on water-related issues of training, wellness and resilience, and governance. "We want to develop an enduring legacy of Indigenous knowledge harmonization with western science through the co-creation of sustainable water management pathways for the community," said Dawn Martin-Hill, the Project Lead and Paul R MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies at McMaster.

Level launches education, mentorship program in Thunder Bay to change lives through law

A new education and mentorship program launched by Canadian charity Level in Thunder Bay will enable elementary school students between the ages of 11 and 14 to learn more about law and the justice system. The program will see grade six and seven students from Kingsway Park Public School take part in the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program. A volunteer - a student from Lakehead University Faculty of Law - will run a variety of workshops on the Canadian criminal justice system. Since the Canadian criminal justice system is a colonial system, explained Level's Director of Programs Lisa Del Col, the students will also take part in Indigenous legal traditions and teachings. "We do a mock sentencing circle, we do smudging and we incorporate the eagle feather into the curriculum as well," said Del Col. Volunteers will need to approach the program with the mindset of being an ally, she explained, "because they're going to learn just as much from the youth, as the youth are going to learn from them."