Red Crow Mi'g Maq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that meansimprisonment at St. Dymphna’s. That means being at the mercy of “Popper”, the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school.
Monkman captures many scenes in his more recent work of the stories behind the abduction of Indigenous children by the Canadian Government and Christian religious leaders across Canada during the over 100 years that Canadian Indian Residential Schools were functioning, as well as the decades that saw Indigenous children removed from their homes and placed into foster programmes against the will of their parents–titled the ‘sixties scoop’.
July 1st 2017 marks the 150th birthday of Canada. It is important to think on what 150 years actually mean in this context. What we are ‘celebrating’ and whose voices and experiences are still being denied a platform.
Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous Genocide, of Colonization, and of Broken Treaties and Promises.
“In 1887, the first of Vancouver’s many anti-Chinese riots had just broken out when Sir John A. Macdonald stood up in the House of Commons to propose further measures to keep out the Chinese.
The Chinese took white jobs, he said. The Chinese would breed a “mongrel” race in British Columbia and threaten the “Aryan” character of the Dominion. Altogether, the prospect of having white working classes living alongside Chinese could lead only to “evil.” The steepest price, by far, came on the aboriginal file. In addition to being Canada’s first and longest serving prime minister, Macdonald remains the country’s longest-serving aboriginal affairs minister.
Serving in the post from 1878 to 1888, he laid the groundwork for basically every institution now blamed for the horrid state of Ottawa-aboriginal relations: The Indian Act, Indian Residential Schools and an over-bureaucratized Department of Indian Affairs. “First Nations people in Saskatchewan, I would bet you $5 to a person, consider Macdonald the agent of their subjugation,” said University of Regina professor James Daschuk.” — Tristin Hopper
The beauty of the sovereignty the Guru laid out for us is not only that it asks us to remain autonomous and distinct from systems of oppression but that it demands us to actively challenge and dismantle them. What use is there in acknowledging that we are settlers upon unceded indigenous land when we jump at every opportunity to be validated by colonialist rulers - historical or otherwise. Remember that time when Sikhs (many of whom were ex-british soldiers) came to this land, were starved and sent back by the canadian government only to die? It took place about forty years after this quote.
Today I pray for my Mother and all of the other Residential School Survivors who are not with us anymore
May you find peace and tranquility in the next spirit world that you could never find here on earth. Your pain and suffering is no longer. We live now with peace in our hearts, knowing that your abuse and inhumane treatment has been recognized as one of the most horrific crimes committed in Canadian History.
You suffered so no one else will ever suffer like that again. You survived when so many Native youth didn’t. I wish you lived to see this day, to read this report.
STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE Ogoki Post, Ontario September 9, 2016
Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adam’s Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.”
Chanie was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor know how to find it, but, like so many kids - more than anyone will be able to imagine - he tried. I never knew Chanie, the child his teachers misnamed Charlie, but I will always love him.
Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it; it was hardly ever mentioned.
All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are.
I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected — that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well…They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015)
I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.”
There isn’t a Native American zodiac because for one, There isn’t one large Native American tribe, We are some 500 distinct cultural groups. And secondly the original Astrological Zodiac signs are loosely based on constellations of stars that start and complete a celestial rotation.
Due to colonialism and assimilationist policies of the Spanish, British (later Canadian) and American governments we will never fully know to what extent our knowledge of the stars would have been.
There are tribes like the Lakota who have fragments, But because of things like the Indian Boarding Schools (Residential schools in Canada) Entire generations of knowledge has been lost.
Simply renaming something after an animal doesn’t automatically make it native. There are stories behind the meaning of things. If I look up at the stars at the Sagittarius constellation I don’t see an owl. Owl’s in some tribes are a bad omen by the way. It doesn’t make sense to unknowingly condemn an a person by referring to them as an Owl.
When Will U.S. Apologize for Boarding School Genocide?
The cultural genocide perpetrated by Canada’s Indian residential school system was heavily influenced by the United States.When the Canadian government first sought solutions to the country’s “Indian problem,” back in the 19th century, it turned to the cruel yet expedient example set by its neighbor to the south.
What Is My Name? deals with the theme of forced cultural assimilation by a dominant group of people over the indigenous minority, and the resulting long-term repercussions. It exposes the history of the “Indian residential school system” which saw thousands of Aboriginal children taken away from their families and homes, and put into the harsh and often abusive environment of church administered, government-funded schools from the nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries.
The work depicts various scenes from traditional camp life to school life, and the physical and mental transformation of the children. The base of the tree contains scenes of life on the land referencing the idea of family and cultural roots, the place where one comes from and to which one belongs. The branches, comprised of scenes from life at the residential schools, symbolize the growing of ill, even fatal, effects of contact with non-aboriginals on Aboriginal peoples. Like the branches in a genealogical tree, they also suggest that future generations must deal with the consequences of the loss of cultural identities and ancestral languages .
In her previous projects, Karine Giboulo focused on the social, economic, and political situation of “the other” in foreign lands, and the role of the Westerners was minimized. The latter would usually make an appearance as a guest (or intruder) in the world of “the other”. Their presence was used as a narrative device to illustrate an idea about globalization in our contemporary world. In this diorama, Giboulo focuses her attention on the West, and the story of her own country. Claiming (as she often does about all of her work) that “when we talk about others we are actually talking about our- selves”, here she is committed to directly critiquing the self while assuming the part of the oppressor.
This work is an acknowledgment by the artist of the historical plight and suffering of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. It is meant to help the artist come to grips with wrongdoings from the perspective of the descendant of the transgressor. It is about exposing an atrocious history through compassion and regret. Giboulo states that this project was “a labour of love”, and that she treated each of her delicately hand-sculpted figures with sensitivity, sympathy, and respect.
You know, I don’t want to take away from the excitement of Ilvermorny and the other new wizarding schools in the Harry Potter universe but I have this sneaking feeling a lot of people doing the test and seeing what Ilvermorny house they’re in aren’t actually North American. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there are some issues here with it.
Like I’ll tell you right now I am not from the UK but I know my Hogwarts house, but that’s a very different thing. The issue I’m having with this is that it seems like people don’t understand the very offensive thing JKR has done with Ilvermorny.
The school’s houses are based on creatures from Native mythologies, the founder however was a white Irish immigrant. This is where the issue with Ilvermorny lies.
I am white y’all, like sooooo fucking white, and my family is Irish, but I consider myself a pretty aware inhabitant of North America, and my ancestors treated the native people like SHIT y’all. Have you ever heard of an ‘Indian’ reservation? Because they’re large plots of land allotted by the conquering British to the native peoples of north america, these reserves are typically far in land, away from good hunting and fishing spots, and far away from traditional grounds for the people in them, and have the SHITTIEST possible soil which made it nearly impossible to farm. Reservations were created with the intent to starve out the native population that the European diseases and murders didn’t kill already.
This is the issue with Ilvermorny, it takes these creatures from Native myth, and creates a white saviour trope to boot with Irish immigrant Isold creating the school. The white people that came to North America wanted nothing more than to decimate the Natives, and they tried their damnedest to do it too.
In a 2011 census in Canada Natives made up only 4.3% of Canadian residents, and that is bullshit, they were here first and my ancestors destroyed their populations, their homes, and so much of their cultural heritage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love JK Rowling and I love Harry Potter, but I wish she had done more research here, had the school founded by warring native tribes as a way to bring peace to the land, and then invited the europeans to attend for the same reasons of peace, anything but a white woman founding a school in a place where white people are not native.
I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot of hate for this, especially from non north americans who don’t know this history, but please, before you come into my inbox and get mad at me I want you to google a few things; The Trail of Tears, Indian Residential Schools, and cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada and the US.
Please at least learn the significance of these creatures to Natives, and why it’s so upsetting that the school was founded by a white settler before you come get mad at me.
Phil Fontaine is an Aboriginal Canadian leader, having held multiple seats in First Nations communities across Canada, the most notable being the 3 terms he served as the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Fontaine was born at the Sagkeeng First Nation on the Fort Alexander Reserve in Manitoba. The first language he learned to speak was Ojibway. Fontaine attended residential schools for much of his youth. Fontaine’s mother was the first Aboriginal woman to be elected into band council in 1952; this event is what inspired Phil to get into politics. In 1973 Fontaine was elected the Chief of the Sagkeeng community, at the age of 29. Fontaine went on to serve two consecutive terms. This was only the beginning of his political career.
As Manitoba’s Vice-Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, Fontaine was among the Manitoba First Nation leaders who led the opposition of the Meech Lake Accord.
In 1990 Fontaine became one of the first residential school victims to speak openly about the verbal, physical, and sexual abuse he endured while attending these schools. This led to several other victims opening up about their experiences. The Aboriginal Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission credit Fontaine for getting the issue onto the national agenda. The following year he was elected the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba chiefs, a seat he held for 3 consecutive terms.
In 1997 Fontaine was elected the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for the first time. After his term was up Fontaine was appointed the Chief Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission, while serving the land claim of the Kahkewistahaw Fist Nation was resolved, $94.6 million was given to the Saskatchewan band as a part of the agreement.
Fontaine won the position of National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations once again in 2003 holding the position for two more terms. While serving, Fontaine successfully negotiated the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, a financial contribution of more then $5 billion dollars to the survivors of the residential school system and programs to help them. The conservative government ratified the agreement in 2006.
In his third term in 2006, Fontaine would attempt to bring the $5 billion Kelowna Accord back to the table that he had negotiated with previous Prime Minister Paul Martin. The accord was aimed at improving living conditions and education of aboriginal people. The succeeding Conservative government canceled the deal.
Fontaine was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2012, an honour that “recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large”.
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