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

 

 

KI TRIP AUGUST 2014

FROM: CHRIS SNYDER & TOM SEARS

We have included a brief report of a recent trip to KI in northwest Ontario as guests of Tikanagen Child and Family Services and their Executive Director, Ernest Beck, who is a HIP director. It gave us a much greater understanding of first nations and we hope it will lead to more interaction between the north and south.

Summary of trip to KithenehmahukoosibInninuwug(KI)- August 17-22, 2014

On Sun. Aug 17, Tom and Doreen Sears and Pat and Chris Snyder flew to Thunder Bay and on to Sioux Lookout. We spent 2 nights in SL and toured/explored the Lac Seul Reserve and schools. We visited Pelican Falls First Nation High School and elementary schools in Frenchmans Head, Keejic, and Whitefish Falls and met with the principal, vice-principal and some teachers. Generally the schools were well equipped and in good repair and the teachers were enthusiastic, open and appeared ,very dedicated. We discussed the program and needs of the schools with the administration who gave us the tours.

Our trip had several objectives:

1) To become more familiar with the lifestyle, living conditions, educational issues, customs and values of the first nations people.
2) To meet some of the chiefs - there were 29 present at the annual assembly of the Tikinagen Child and Family Services.
3) To discuss with them how Rotary, through HIP(Honouring Indigenous People-www.rotaryhip.com), might be able to work with them in educational initiatives and explore awareness creating opportunities for the public of their culture, issues and history.

After a spectacular flight on a small Beechcraft aircraft ( 14 seats) -from SL to KI we arrived Tuesday afternoon. The scenery in northern Ontario was spectacular with no roads and an estimated 200000 lakes. KI (population 1,526) is located about 350 km north of SL north of Fort Albany.

We were assigned accommodation in a teacher's residence 1 BR and an airmatress on the floor. It was cozy but OK.

Throughout the two days, the food was plentiful (aka too much) , home cooked and a great choice at each meal including some moose, cariboo, several varieties of fish and vegetables. The relationship/interaction between the locals and us "white folks" was cautious. It took 2 days to warm up and relax. They were always responsive and courteous and respectful.

TIKINAGEN Family and Child Services

This is a very large agency whose mandate is to care for children in over 30 bands scattered from Sioux Lookout north to Hudson Bay. They do this in the aftermath of the residential school system which caused the loss of the opportunity to learn and pass on parenting skills to their children. The last schools closed in this area in 1976, thus many of the parents and grandparents did not have the chance to learn those basic skills in parenting and the cultural values of their tribe.

The agency budget is in excess of $50 million. They maintain a counsellor in each of the bands and the travel budget is in excess of $15 million -BUT - it costs about $900 to $1,000 to fly from KI to SL per person which for many is frequently necessary to diagnose or treat a child. The role of TIK is the same as that of CAS in other communities.

The literacy level of many adults is quite low. Most of the bands have computer and broad band communication.

While most of the communities are "dry", the frequency of home brew is fairly high -although we saw no evidence of it . The most common drug is oxycontin but is not used by youth to any extent as the cost is too high. There is a problem on some reserves with youth sniffing gas which has significantly contributed to a suicide rate that is very significantly higher than in the south. Being such a close and communal culture, these events have a much larger impact than is normally seen in the south communities.

TIK ..has formulated a "community-centered" approach to child care called Mamow-Obiki. This model has been formulated and approved by all 30 bands. Counselors have been trained by TIK . Where possible a community/family support program is implemented for children in need. This includes involving the extended family as well as community members rather than taking them out of their home community. When it is necessary as a last resort, TIK places them, if possible, in another native community, monitors them and returns them to their home community as soon as possble -as well as working with the parents to teach coping skills.

OTHER MATTERS

A) During our visit, we had opportunities to speak with them on a one-on-one basis and Chris briefly addressed the group on HIP. We discussed a number of alternative ideas that might be attractive for them and improve their circumstances. It is our hope that we might work together(HIP's board is 50% aboriginal and 50% Rotary from 5 different districts). Our work is to get as many clubs as possible working together on aboriginal educational issues and improve their circumstances. These ideas always came from discussions starting with "what do you need?"or "can we help...." . We also emphasized that we need a request to the HIP board and explained that an application form is online and how to access it.

B) We discussed the possibility of an experimental short-term exchange program for HS students. These talks were held with the Sioux Lookout Rotary Club as well as with the education authority and band chief at KI. Proposed initial parameters:
i) Students 16-18 selected by clubs starting summer of 2015.
ii) 2-3 weeks in duration at each area during the summer.
iii) The purpose to be "cultural awareness" by living in band reserves (selected) as well as homes (south).
iv) Financial support to be sought to subsidize northern students.
v) There appeared to be considerable interest in both KI and SL.

Several other ideas were discussed as potential to augment the education and skills of both teens and adults. There appears to be needs for programs and opportunities to improve adult literacy, youth sports and vocational skills training. Ideas and initiatives, however, MUST come from them. There could be some building(repair opportunities). There is a huge need to develop vocational skills. We are waiting their requests.

OTHER COMMENTS

1. At the schools we visited, we were welcomed by the principal, vice-principal and teachers. The schools were clean, shiny, quite well equipped with books, white boards and computers.
2. The teachers appeared enthusiastic and caring.
3. Three of the five schools we visited were well equipped and had up-to-date multipurpose gym facilities but the 2 secondary schools were lacking in both vocational skill training and music and concern was expressed about lack of programs and support for students with special needs.
4. Lac Seul and KI are band owned and controlled. All housing is owned , controlled and assigned and design specified by the band. You must be a band member to be assigned a house. Some seem to have the right to operate a business for profit. Some band members live off reserve but retain band status as well as rights. In several communities, commercial enterprises are owned and operated by First Nations companies and this income is taxable.

5. Sioux Lookout is not a first nations community but is right next to the Lac Seul Reserve . It is also about 60% FN -many of whom have status as band members in other reserves or in Lac Seul.
6. In the schools, most, but not all, teachers are qualified to provincial standards but are paid significantly below provincial standards. While class sizes appear to be less, they are frequently multigrade and/or multilevel.
7. It should be noted that KI is one of the largest reserves in the region and is well-managed and does not appear to have the violence/abuse issues that some others do. In fact, it will be the host for a royal visit in September.
8. It was interesting and enlightening to learn about and see the seven grandfather teachings in action which underline the aboriginal philosophy and value system – love, honesty, respect, bravery humility, truth and wisdom. These are a part of HIP's value system. We saw evidence of this in the meetings we attended. Some speakers addressed an issue for very lengthy periods - much longer than would be tolerated in our meetings. However, they were never cut off and were listened to by all chiefs attending. All votes on motions were by consensus unanimous.
9. Most, if not all, chiefs spoke English but some chose to speak in their native language (Cree) which had simultaneous translation.
10. There is a significant degree of gender equity among the 30 chiefs and at the table they work by complete consensus.
11. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Six Nations - a band from Cornwall both of whom were Mohawk. There were other observers there from Toronto and Winnipeg.
12. On return, we attended a meeting of the Rotary club of Sioux Lookout where the current club president is first nations. It is this club with whom we are discussing the short-term exchange.
13. We were hosted by Ernest Beck, the Executive Director of Tikanagen - a most gracious and effective leader.

14. We did have some recreation. Pat and Doreen went to a local comedy evening at which they were the only non-aboriginals. Tom and Chris went fishing with the Chief of Lac Seul Reserve, Chief Clifford Bull and Judy Aneconeb from Tikanagen, our great hostess for our visit. Tom caught the only fish - a 6 pound lake trout.

Team took part in special canoe voyage

By Dale Clifford, Peterborough Examiner

Monday, September 1, 2014 10:31:40 EDT PM

An Adventure in Understanding coordinator Glen Caradus holds a ceremonial choke cherry tree to be planted in Curve Lake First Nation with help from fellow team members (front, l-r) Sarah Perks, Ivy Kaune, (back, l-r) Jon McIsaac,  Bronwyn Hodgins, Connor Williams and Ceinwen Perks. Dale Clifford, Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency

An Adventure in Understanding coordinator Glen Caradus holds a ceremonial choke cherry tree to be planted in Curve Lake First Nation with help from fellow team members (front, l-r) Sarah Perks, Ivy Kaune, (back, l-r) Jon McIsaac, Bronwyn Hodgins, Connor Williams and Ceinwen Perks. Dale Clifford, Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agenc

 

For four teenage campers, it was an experience they will never forget.

Ceinwen Perks, 18, her 16-year-old sister Sarah, Ivy Kaune and Connor Williams, both 17, joined three others on a special canoe trip to connect First Nation and non-First Nation youth called An Adventure in Understanding.

They left Beavermead Park Thursday morning and after 90-kilometres of paddling in a 26-foot Voyageur canoe up the Otonabee River and touching other waterways and camping along the way, arrived in Curve Lake First Nation over the weekend.

They were joined on the journey by trip coordinator Glen Caradus and two guide leaders Jon McIsaac and Bronwyn Hodgins.

The goal was to give youth from different cultures the chance to spend time together and get to know each other better. The original program was designed by the Rotary Club of Peterborough-Kawartha with the help of Curve Lake First Nation and Camp Kawartha.

The three girls were from Peterborough, Williams, from Curve Lake and working at the local cultural centre. During their journey, the crew met with Elders and learned about First Nation traditions in the region and the land around them.

The teens said they gained experience from everything they saw or did, including talking with Elders, visiting the Petroglyphs and wild rice beds, paddling on the waterways, living outdoors and practising various traditional skills. They went to such sites as Lakefield, Buckhorn, Lovesick Lake and Burleigh Falls.

“I gained a lot of knowledge,’’ said Ceinwen. “I learned different things, about the water, ecosystems, wild rice, many traditions and their importance.’’

They spent time with the first-year Indigenous Diploma students at Trent University, taking part in a presentation by Trent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science.

Caradus said the focus was connecting with First Nation traditions, learning traditional skills, diversity, being a team and outdoors.

“I learned to appreciate what we have and how important it was to take care of it,’’ added Sarah.

Don Watkins of the Rotary club said: “It made sense to bring two groups together to learn about each other. It was a wonderful idea.’’

To complete the journey, the group brought a choke cherry tree from GreenUp Ecology Park to plant on the grounds of ancestral remains as a symbol of unity.

“It was wonderful to see youth like this eager to learn about our culture and share with the outside world,’’ said First Nation Chief Phyllis Williams.

 

August, 2014

Dear Friends,

You are cordially invited to the London Peace Garden on September 21, 2014, United Nations International Day for Peace, at 3:00 p.m. to join fellow citizens representing diverse communities who value peace and justice and work in various ways to bring it about.

On September 21st there will be a ceremony to re-dedicate the newly restored peace plaque. The plaque was first installed in 1987 and dedicates the garden to peace based on justice, freedom, truth and love in contrast to the nuclear deterrence doctrine of that time. The Peace Garden is located in Ivey Park on the corner of York and Thames Streets.

On that day as well, a plaque will be installed to tell the story of the Tree of Peace that was planted on July 11, 1991, one year after events in Kanehsatà:ke, Quebec, known as the Oka Crisis. The White Pine is a symbol of the Haudenosaunee 'Tree of Peace' and Kaianera'kó:wa,The Great Law of Peace.

Three years ago the labour movement joined in the spirit of the Peace Garden with the installation of the "Good Hands" sculpture. The inscription says "the
true wealth and security of a nation is in the hands of its workers."

Susan Eagle, United Church Minister and former London City Councillor, who was involved with the original Peace Garden project will be with us (from Barrie)
as well as civic leaders and representatives of Native communities and Labour.

These plaques and symbols can be powerful statements of our values and reminders to commit ourselves to the work entailed in moving little by little

closer to the "dream of a world in harmony with the Creator, all Peoples and the Earth our only home. " (Joe Barth, Ploughshares London, quoted on the Peace Plaque)

The following day, Monday, Sept. 22 at 7:00 p.m. at London Public Library Central Branch, Stevenson-Hunt Room there will be a presentation entitled "Building Peace: Locally and Globally" by Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares, Waterloo. Cesar is a Program Officer at Project Ploughshares working on the Space Security and Nuclear Disarmament programs.

Please refer to the London Peace Garden Facebook page for more information or contact the committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you wish to make a donation to help with the cost of the plaques, see the easy instructions that follow.

Sincerely,

For the Peace Garden
Re-dedication Committee

519-439-6924

P.S. Please bring a lawn chair if possible. Meet and greet at 2:45; program starts at 3:00 p.m. Thanks!

There are two ways to donate to the Peace Garden Restoration Project:

(The Society of Friends(Quakers) of Coldstream area have agreed to manage finances for the project as several members of the planning committee are Quakers).
Charitable Registration #118867282RR0001

Option A: Online by credit card, at www.CanadaHelps.org, select Coldstream Monthly Meeting(Quakers) as the charity. Your charitable donation receipt will be sent by email immediately.

Option B: Write a cheque to Coldstream Monthly Meeting, earmarked Peace Garden. Include your mailing address – and email if you have one. Mail it to Coldstream Monthly Meeting, c/o Carl Thomas, 10245 Hedley Drive, R.R. #2, Ilderton, ON N0M 2A0.  Receipts will be issued for donations of $20 or more.

It is hoped to raise over $3,500 to cover the costs of the plaques and special attendees to participate. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Premiers' Lead May Leave Harper Isolated on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

By SHEILA COPPS | Published:

Monday, 09/01/2014

http://www.hilltimes.com/copps-corner/politics/2014/09/01/premiers-lead-may-leave-harper-isolated-on-missing-and-murdered/39476

Kathleen Wynne has moxie. The premier of Ontario demonstrated last week just how she withstood an appetite for change and secured a Liberal majority.

People like her and they believe she speaks from the heart.

That quality shone through when she became the first premier to weigh in on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal to recognize the systemic nature of violence involving Aboriginal peoples.

Wynne minced no words when responding to Harper's insensitive statement that the death or disappearance of Tina Fontaine and 1,181 other aboriginal women had nothing to do with sociological phenomenon and everything to do with crime. She characterized his comments as "outrageous" and spawned a series of similar
rebukes from other premiers.

Provincial premiers usually refrain from attacking the federal government. When they do, criticism is often muted. Biting the hand that feeds you, by way of
transfer payments, federal monies for health, post-secondary education and human resource development can be costly.

Harper has earned a reputation as a leader who will not hesitate to punish a political enemy with all the weapons in his arsenal. As prime minister, he has many
weapons.

Read more ...

An Inquiry Means Legitimacy
Matthew Coon Come
Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Friday, Aug. 29 2014

Dr. Matthew Coon Come is Grand Chief of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (Quebec), and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

To say, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper did, that the murder of Tina Fontaine is a criminal matter and not a sociological one is like saying that an earthquake is
a geological event and not a social one. It is obvious that any murder is a criminal matter, just as it is equally obvious that an earthquake is a geological
event. What is important in these two kinds of events is how we, as a society, respond.

In the case of an earthquake, we as a society will immediately tend to the injured. We will review our emergency preparedness plans. We will review our
building codes. We will review our insurance guidelines and alert systems etc. – all with the intention of mitigating the effects of the earthquake to the
greatest degree possible in order to protect the public.

A recent RCMP report(http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/mmaw-faapd-eng.htm) identified more than 1,000 aboriginal girls and women gone missing or murdered over the past few decades. Whenever there is a disproportionate targeting of a specific and identifiable sector of our population for rape, murder and sex trafficking, then
it becomes a public and a national issue. What has happened to Tina and more than 1,000 women is not just an aboriginal issue; it's an issue that all Canadians must
take seriously and grapple with. As the police officer who found Tina's body said: "Society should be horrified."

If our federal government's response to Tina and the rest of these women is to be founded on something other than the view that Indian, Inuit and Métis lives do not
matter, then we must know why our sisters and daughters are being disproportionately targeted and we must develop a strategy for prevention. It is for this reason that we need a collective response. That response is the launching of a public inquiry. It is for purposes such as this that we elect public
officials.

Read more ...