Sacred Places: Indigenous Pictographs in Canada Being Vandalized

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Vandals are destroying ancient indigenous pictographs throughout Canada at an alarming rate and activists are trying to call attention to the desecration and its consequences.

As of late July vandals had defaced, and in some cases destroyed, indigenous pictographs in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Montreal in the last six years including some recent dramatic incidents.

“We are talking about indigenous heritage, oral traditions, cultural memory,” [Zawadzska] told CBC. “The sites are associated with sacred places, traditional territories, and traditional knowledge. They are living sites.”

Read the article in Indian Country Today.

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Return of the Wolastoq: Giving a River Back Its Name

Ron-Tremblay-Photo-by-Liane-Thibodeau

The Wolastoq Grand Council is supporting their youth’s proposal to change the name of the Saint John River back to its original and proper name, the Wolastoq. Wolastoq means “beautiful and bountiful river” in the Wolastoq (Maliseet) language.

“In a sincere implication of ‘Truth and Reconciliation,’ Wolastoqewiyik soundly propose to reinstate the name ‘Wolastoq’ to the river commonly known as Saint John River,” says Ron Tremblay, the Wolastoq Grand Council Chief.

The call for individuals and groups to support the name change issued by the Wolastoq Grand Council states that, “Wolastoq is our identity,” and argues that, “scientific studies have now confirmed what our people have always known: water has memory. Once we address the river as ‘Wolastoq,’ this river will remember its original name.”

Read the full article at the New Brunswick Media Coop.

Nova Scotia Pardons Mi’kmaq Chief 60 Years Later

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Gabriel Sylliboy died feeling like he failed his Mi’kmaq people. The grand chief launched a fight for aboriginal rights after being charged with illegal hunting in the 1920s, but the courts of the era dismissed the notion that a 1752 treaty gave Sylliboy any rights. It would take another six decades before those rights were recognized by the courts.

“Our grand chief was really quite sad about the fact that he was charged and wasn’t able to be successful in obtaining Mi’kmaq rights for his people,” said Jaime Battiste, the province’s treaty education lead. “He went to his deathbed thinking he let the Mi’kmaq people down.”

On Thursday, nearly 90 years after his conviction, the Nova Scotia government pardoned and honoured Sylliboy, who was born in 1874 in Whycocomagh, N.S., and became the first elected Mi’kmaq grand chief.

Read the full story in the Herald News.

Mi’kmaq Council Member John Joe Sark: Land Sale in Violation

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Ancestral sites and indigenous rights are being compromised in many places and under many pretenses. Keptin Dr. John Joe Sark challenges another instance in Mi’kmaki at Prince Edward Island.

I read with interest the article published in the Charlottetown Guardian in reference to Mi’kmaq sacred burial grounds in Alexandra. Thank you for publishing the statements made by the minister’s office for the record.

It appears that the provincial archeologist and Secretariat of Aboriginal Affairs for the Province of P.E.I. did little research before inaccurate conclusions and statements were made.  The eight digit map co-ordinates for these sites are in government records and the archives.

The places she refers to have historical names. The permanent fishing encampment is called Wji”kijek on Oejecucch and is nestled between the Acadian settlements of Anse au Matelot and Le Morais. The Mi’kmaq portages are in Crown deeds of property and are very likely treaty rights.

Read the full report in The Guardian.

Daniel Christmas, First Mi’kmaw Appointed to the Canadian Senate

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Senator Daniel Christmas, First Mi’kmaw Appointed to the Canadian Senate

Dan Christmas never knew what or where his journey would take him. He just knew his father’s teachings would buoy him along the way — and that was going to be more than good enough.

The oldest of six children, Christmas often found himself in a leadership role in his Membertou-based family at a young age. He encouraged his younger siblings, gave a hand to his mother around the house when needed, and even joined his dad at his various work spots.

But when Christmas and his family were hit with the unexpected passing of their father, he was thrust into what would be his eventual full-time calling in life — leading — and he hasn’t looked back since.

Read more at danielnpaul.com.

Nova Scotia Premier Apologizes to Mi’kmaq Chiefs and Elders

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Premier Stephen McNeil was making every effort to move from insult to consult after a meeting Thursday with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “The meeting started out this morning with an opportunity for me to express my regret and my apologies to the chiefs and to members of their communities,” McNeil said.

“The words that were attached to a brief that went before the court were not mine and not my feelings. I believe the foundation of this province and this country is in those treaties. We have a duty to consult, the Supreme Court has dealt with this issue a long time ago and it’s my responsibility as the premier of this province to make sure that we follow through on respecting the rights of the Mi’kmaq.”

Respect was not at the forefront in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court appeal case last week when Justice Department lawyer Alex Cameron described the complainants, the Sipekne’katik band, as a conquered people who had surrendered their sovereignty to the British Crown in the 1700s, negating the duty of the province to consult on industrial projects.

Read the full story at localxpress.ca.

Refer back to the incident that provoked this apology.

Kahsatstenhsera: Indigenous Resistance to Tar Sands Pipelines

A 2013 film from submedia.tv, featuring stories from several First Nations bringing indigenous resistance to the construction of fossil fuel pipelines. Timely and ongoing, a continuation of 500 years of colonialism…

The “Line 9″ and “Energy East” pipelines threaten to bring tar sands “crude” from Alberta for export through ports in the Atlantic. These pipelines will traverse through many Indigenous communities and natural areas, threatening not only the health of the land but the sovereignty of these territories and their peoples. We have teamed up with Indigenous organizer Amanda Lickers to produce a Kahsatstenhsera: Indigenous Resistance to Tar Sands Pipelines. This video will focuses on Indigenous resistance and seeks to build capacity in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities by providing an educational and accessible resource to build awareness across communities. Featuring stories and perspectives from land defenders in Athabasca Chipewyan, Aamjiwnaang, Six Nations of the Grand River, Kanehsatà:ke, and Elsipogtog First Nations, this video will not only educates the public on the issues being faced by pipeline construction and expansion, but showcases Indigenous resistance and provide an anti-colonial lens for understanding environmental destruction.