Nepal’s villagers; Canada’s Indigenous People

I keep finding parallels between villagers in Nepal and Canada’s poorest — Indigenous People.

A Nepali woman gets a pre-birth checkup. (c) UNICEF.

On the surface they are poles apart: Canada, one of the world’s most ‘developed’ nations and Nepal, still classified as a least developed country. But still, I keep finding parallels between villagers in Nepal and Canada’s poorest — Indigenous People. (See a previous post). Continue reading “Nepal’s villagers; Canada’s Indigenous People”

New school, and new hope, in Pikangikum

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(c) OPP Aboriginal unit via @OPP_Aboriginal.

This is old news by now but it’s great to see that a new school opened in Pikangikum First Nation, in northern Ontario, in October. The last building burned down a decade ago, so classes were being held in portables. Continue reading “New school, and new hope, in Pikangikum”

Ontario’s apology for residential schools positive but “so much is broken”

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Broadcaster Jesse Wente discusses Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s apology, on 30 May, for the province’s residential schools system for First Nations children. (c) CBC

Yesterday, 30 May, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized for the treatment meted out to First Nations children in the province’s residential schools and for the racism that underpinned the schools system.

The apology felt anti-climactic following last year’s release of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but it should be welcomed as a sign that follow-up to the report continues. Continue reading “Ontario’s apology for residential schools positive but “so much is broken””

Healing in Pikangikum stumbles

Little did I know as I was corresponding with those offices that at least three other community members died of suicide in Pikangikum early this year.

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(c) epodunk.com

I last wrote about Pikangikum in December 2014. Since then I’ve collected information from three government offices about what they are doing to combat the extraordinarily high level of suicide among young people in this indigenous community in northern Ontario. Continue reading “Healing in Pikangikum stumbles”

This is Canada too

WaterAdvisoriesFNCanada_CBC151015Regularly these days a global report is released revealing that one or more Canadian cities has made the world’s list of Top 10 places to live. I admit that I can’t help feeling just a twinge of pride when I hear the latest news.

Then I give my head a shake, because, for instance: Continue reading “This is Canada too”

Looking at and really seeing ourselves

My new hero: Justice Murray  Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
My new hero: Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

As a journalist in Canada and Asia I met many indigenous people, and I wrote numerous articles about their issues. I am far from ignorant about their realities.

Yet I realized this week that somehow I had still been denying the reality of how really really horrendously my ancestors had treated Canada’s indigenous people. And how that treatment continues today. Continue reading “Looking at and really seeing ourselves”

Time to START the discussion on residential schools

TRC_closing_image_200415Now that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has scheduled the release of its final report, the real work must begin: getting all Canadians to recognise that the residential school system was only a symptom of how society in general mistreated aboriginal people historically, that the effects of that abuse are still being felt, and that it will take an effort by all of us to overcome them.

I was happy to see the TRC’s Chairman, Justice Murray Sinclair, say that he wants to kick-start a national debate on how to bridge the gap between aboriginal Canadians and the rest of us. One very public way to engage would be to participate in the Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa on May 31. I hope to see you there!

“Love is something I don’t know”

(c) Indigenous Foundations, UBC
(c) Indigenous Foundations, UBC

In my previous post I explained why I wanted to publish accounts from some survivors of Canada’s residential school system.

These are the words of Pearl Achneepineskum who attended residential school for 8 years. She spoke at the TRC national event in Winnipeg in June 2010 and in a 2012 report by CBC Radio.

“I lost my brother CJ at the residential school in Kenora,” says Achneepineskum. “His name was Charlie Wenjack. He was only 12.*

My life has been not as good as it should be… Love is something I don’t know. I don’t know what that is.”

It was lonely: all I wanted to do was go home. Getting beaten up, and picked on, and sexually abused … that was the stuff I wanted to run from.

I’ve got 4 children, 1 daughter and 3 sons … and I treat them as if they were in residential school – that’s all I know.”

*Charlie Wenjack’s body was found a week after he ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora. CBC Radio News did a special report on his death, and broader issues linked to it.

Final event of truth and reconciliation body NOT the end of reconciliation process

We will never forget. But we must not burden another generation with anger and pain.

 

The final national event of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission ended on the weekend in Edmonton. But as Chief Shawn Atleo says in this article, it is not the end of the process. Continue reading “Final event of truth and reconciliation body NOT the end of reconciliation process”

Young people breaking down barriers between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians

I love this video!

The young people in it start from a basic truth – the forerunners of the current Canadian government made treaties with the indigenous people already living on the land. This makes us all treaty people. Continue reading “Young people breaking down barriers between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians”