How Indigenous education for international students can help empower a generation of professionals committed to reconciliation 

At the start of all campus events, gatherings and classes, the following words have become ingrained as an important symbol of respect: “McMaster University recognizes and acknowledges that it is located on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations and within the lands protected by the Dish with One Spoon wampum agreement.” This land acknowledgment holds meaning and familiarity for students who have spent their lives in this country, but for international students, it can be challenging to appreciate these words in the same way. 

As newcomers to Canada, international students require educational support to better understand and learn about Indigenous peoples and their past as the original inhabitants of this land.  

Without recognizing the deep-rooted history of colonialism, oppression and racism Indigenous communities have and continue to endure, international students fall prey to the notion that Canada was always dominated by western, Eurocentric culture. These preconceived notions are harmful in and of themselves, but they also perpetuate harm against Indigenous peoples. 

Home to over 600,000 international students, Canadian universities have a duty to create awareness of these issues among students who have not had the opportunity to learn about the history of Canada prior to post-secondary education.  

In the 2020-21 school year, international students composed more than 15% of the McMaster student population. Yet there are little to no existing supports designed for newcomers on campus who may be interested in learning about Indigenous history. 

As an educational institution that strongly promotes every individual’s right to the truth, McMaster must create and develop education to equip international students with the appropriate resources and tools to initiate meaningful discourse on Indigenous history, culture and contemporary realities. 

McMaster University’s Indigenous Strategic Directions, created in accordance with the 94 Calls to Action by the Indigenous Education Council, outlines goals and approaches to improving Indigenous research, education, student experience, and leadership on campus. However, the directions for Indigenous education currently remain focussed on enhancing the delivery of Indigenous studies and courses, which may not be accessible to students in all fields of study.  

While the Indigenous Education Council is taking crucial steps toward reconciliation, they also have a unique opportunity to educate the international student body of the atrocities experienced by Indigenous peoples. As such, partnerships between McMaster’s Indigenous Education Council and International Student Services could offer international students an important opportunity to reflect on and recognize their privilege and responsibilities as guests on this land. 

With the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation having passed on Sept. 30, we face a stark reminder of how much there is yet to accomplish for the progression toward the reconciliation between Indigenous communities and Canadian settlers.  

Canadian universities cannot cultivate a generation of leaders who will advocate for Indigenous peoples and do their part for reconciliation without sharing the truth. Mandating, proactively involving and providing international students with an orientation to Indigenous history on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and at the beginning of each fall term is a necessary step towards fostering safe spaces for these students to learn and build bridges of mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation. 

Though most of our educational institutions currently fail to promote awareness of Indigenous history among students new to Canada, I believe domestic students also have an important role to play in honouring Indigenous history and highlighting the structural inequities Indigenous communities continue to face. Meaningful conversations and sharing insightful resources are just some of the ways we as domestic students can encourage our newcomer peers to seek out the truth.  

Currently, Indigenous history, including topics such as the legacy of residential schools, is embedded within the curriculum for grades 4 to 10 in Ontario to inspire generations of advocates who are ready to support Indigenous peoples and their rights. Of course, international students will not receive the years of education that domestic students possess, but with the right education and support, they can be involved and empowered to take action. 

By igniting a commitment to supporting Indigenous peoples and reconciliation among international students, we can help prepare future professionals who will advance sustainable equity, diversity, and inclusion in their lives, workplaces, and Canadian society.   

C/O Yoohyun Park

Concerns raised surrounding clean drinking water access in Indigenous communities

At the beginning of October, Iqaluit residents began noticing an odour in their tap water and some expressed feeling ill. After an initial inspection of the treatment plant and water samples on Oct. 4, the city of Iqaluit determined that the water was safe to drink. However, a second investigation on Oct. 12 yielded different results. 

Since Oct. 12, Iqaluit has been under a state of emergency and residents have been advised not to drink tap water, even after boiling or filtering it, due to a presence of fuel in the water supply. 

Since Oct. 12, Iqaluit has been under a state of emergency and residents have been advised not to drink tap water, even after boiling or filtering it, due to a presence of fuel in the water supply.

Amarah Hasham-Steele, News Reporter

On Oct. 24, the Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Iqaluit to set up a reverse osmosis water purification system. The CAF is purifying water from Iqaluit’s Sylvia Grinnell River and transporting it to a city water truck, which then transports it to water filling depots. 

Until the arrival of the CAF, residents were receiving bottled water from distribution sites and collecting water from the Sylvia Grinnell River. 

While the CAF is providing residents with potable water, trucked water deliveries in Iqaluit will no longer contain potable water as of Tuesday, Nov. 9. While residents can still use trucked water deliveries for bathing, laundry, handwashing and dishwashing, they are no longer able to drink it. 

The state of emergency in Iqaluit is currently set to last until Nov. 23. 

At McMaster University, Makasa Looking Horse is actively involved in projects that address water needs for Indigenous communities. One such project is the Global Water Futures project, which Looking Horse is the educational lead for. 

Global Water Futures is a Canadian university-led research project aiming to manage water futures in areas with cold climates, such as Canada, and landscapes changing due to global warming. 

“Global Water Futures aims to position Canada as a global leader in water science for cold regions and will address the strategic needs of the Canadian economy in adapting to change and managing risks of uncertain water futures and extreme events,” stated the Global Water Futures website

Looking Horse highlighted that water crises in Indigenous communities are not uncommon and that they can happen for a multitude of reasons. She explained that water crises occur when there are problems with treatment plants and when there are problems piping water from treatment plants to households. 

“Infrastructure within Canada for Indigenous communities is in really bad shape,” said Looking Horse. 

“Infrastructure within Canada for Indigenous communities is in really bad shape.”

Makasa Looking Horse, Educational Lead of the global Water futures project

In 2015, 126 drinking water advisories existed in First Nations, prompting the federal government to commit to resolving them by March of 2021. However, inadequate funding was allocated to meeting this goal and many advisories remain in effect. Water-borne diseases occur within First Nations 26 times more than the national average and people living on reserves are currently 90 times more likely to have no access to running water compared to non-Indigenous people living off reserves. 

On Nov. 3, the Cooperative Indigenous Students Studies and Alumni at McMaster shared a post about the Iqaluit water crisis and noted how the federal government has not kept their promise to eliminate water advisories in Indigenous communities. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by C.I.S.S.A. (@cissaatmac)

Mainly, CISSA referred to the fact that 58 advisories still remain despite prime minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to eliminate all long-term boil water advisories by March of 2021. 

“It has become abundantly clear that one cannot disentangle social conditions from health conditions and that the causes of recurrent Indigenous water insecurity are rooted in sociopolitical neglect. The lack of access to clean, safe water is a reflection of long standing political and economic marginalization,” stated CISSA in their post

For McMaster students, Looking Horse noted that there are always ways to help make clean water more accessible in general.

“Whether it's donating water to the food bank or cleaning up [garbage], whatever you want to work on, whether that's writing or doing something physical, you can definitely do something to make a difference,” said Looking Horse. 

“Whether it's donating water to the food bank or cleaning up [garbage], whatever you want to work on, whether that's writing or doing something physical, you can definitely do something to make a difference.”

Makasa Looking Horse, Educational Lead of the global Water futures project

Looking Horse has extensive experience protecting access to water for Indigenous communities. Beyond her role in Global Water Futures, she did a lot of advocacy work to protect the Six Nations water supply when she found out that Nestle was taking 3.6 million litres of water from the Six Nations aquifer without the community’s permission. 

Within Global Water Futures, Looking Horse has been part of multiple community projects, such as tracking snapping turtles on Six Nations to collect more data about the environment. 

“This kind of project really hasn't hasn't existed before and so we're super proud [of it]. It's a water project on Six Nations that all of these different professors at McMaster University and other universities and different departments are working [on] together,” said Looking Horse. 

The water crisis continues to be a significant issue in Iqaluit and across Indigenous communities, with many long-term water advisories still in effect and goals to resolve them not being met. McMaster students interested in taking action can refer to CISSA’s social media posts with more information on petitions to sign and links where donations can be made. 

C/O @goodmindsindigenousbooks

GoodMinds.com provides voices to Indigenous authors and their stories

By: Serena Habib, Contributor

GoodMinds.com is the largest Indigenous bookseller in Canada, but its impact extends far beyond that of a typical bookstore. It is a source of inspiration, a well of knowledge, a voice for Indigenous authors, an educational hotspot and a support for Indigenous communities across North America. 

Dave Anderson, whose spirit name is Wahwahbiginojii, is Bear Clan of Dene and Anishinabe descent born in Atikokan, Ontario. As an educator with a doctorate in Indigenous education, he has been involved with Goodminds.com on a number of projects and is constantly directing students and teachers to GoodMinds.com in order to help them learn about Indigenous peoples. 

Anderson described GoodMinds.com as an Indigenous way of doing business, with the purpose of helping Indigenous peoples and business grow economically due to disproportionate socioeconomic barriers faced.

The original vision for GoodMinds.com was to ensure there was a place where Indigenous authors could be supported and promoted. Founded over 20 years ago by Jeff Burnham and currently run by Achilles Gentle, the company’s owners have personally looked at every single book before choosing to sell it, ensuring it accurately represents Indigenous peoples in an honest and prideful way. Anderson described how each book will keep your mind growing in the spirit of having “GoodMinds”.

“Respect, responsibility and relationship: that's what GoodMinds is about . . .  Understanding our relations, understanding the knowledge of each other, respecting that knowledge and being responsible to do what needs to be done,” explained Anderson.

Another important part of GoodMinds vision is to support Indigenous libraries through their initiative, Supporting Indigenous Libraries Today. Since many Indigenous communities have neither libraries nor access to books, five per cent of every sale goes towards SILT.

In addition to selling books, the company speaks to students, libraries and schools. They also support Indigenous education in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The company tries to ensuring libraries purchase Indigenous books from Indigenous booksellers and reach out to schools and their teachers to help with the delivery of educational concepts and issues relating to Indigenous communities. GoodMinds have also begun to publish works by Indigenous authors and present interviews and reviews with Indigenous authors on their YouTube channel in their collection, “13 Moons 13 Reads.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GoodMinds.com Indigenous Books (@goodmindsindigenousbooks)

For Indigenous peoples, stories are a critical way of remembering and celebrating their life on this land. 

“We're learning our teachings again, we're learning to laugh again . . . The resiliency and the life that these authors bring in spite of what’s happened — that needs to be shared. There’s a vision . . .  there’s a life. And we need to celebrate that life,” explained Anderson. 

For non-Indigenous people, this is an important opportunity to finally listen to the stories of Indigenous peoples. We all can learn from these teachings and from the interactions of Indigenous peoples with the land we live on today.  They have been offering their teachings for 500 years to help us understand our land. It is time we embrace one another and learn so we can step towards a better future. 

“We are in a time of truth and reconciliation and educating everybody, understanding everybody,” said Anderson. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GoodMinds.com Indigenous Books (@goodmindsindigenousbooks)

As an example, Anderon spoke about the climate crisis. There are a number of books about Josephine-ba Mandamin, a Water Walker who walked around all five Great Lakes, carrying a bucket of water and a staff, singing Anishinaabe water songs and honouring the water because of how important it is.

The stories about her and the reasons behind her actions can teach us how to value water and ensure that our future generations will have clean water. The lessons from these stories are applicable to every one of us. To further explain our relationship with our land and water, Anderson recalled a statement from a Cree Elder he had spoken to.  

“It’s about Kenanow. It’s about all of us. That’s you and me and the water and the plants and the animals and the land. It’s about all of us living together,” said Anderson. 

Reading one story is taking one step on a road towards learning and understanding our place and responsibility as human beings on this shared land. The path of learning is ever-expanding; every book illuminates a path to infinite more for us to discover.

GoodMinds’ catalogue feature lists so that every individual can find multiple books for themselves. Anderson also recommended 500 Nations and the Truth About Stories as places to start reading Indigenous work.

To complement university courses, there are books in every subject ranging from engineering, medicine, astronomy and many more.  The children’s books, novels and poetry collections also share wisdom from an Indigenous perspective that are beneficial for everyone to become more aware of. 

“It’s your first step on [your] road — your road to knowledge [and], to being. If you've taken that first step, it means there's something that has brought you here. And now, there's more . . .  There's so much for us to learn,” explained Anderson.

The truth about stories, as Anderson powerfully described, is that everything we need is in the story. GoodMinds provides us with these stories in a way that allows us to help our communities by making a purchase and by reading a book. Let us open a story and join hands and minds for a future of flourishing and friendship.

“It's a time when we live together and for us to share with you. [Y]ou can listen in and we'll grow together to build a better world, a world that we can be proud of to leave for our children [and] our grandchildren,” said Anderson.

C/O Yoohyun Park

While lacrosse may be a game many Canadians are familiar with, its history often goes unnoticed

In 1994, by the National Sports of Canada Act, lacrosse was officially declared as the national summer sport of Canada. The term lacrosse came about in 1636 when French missionary, Jean de Brebeuf, compared the stick they played with to a bishop’s crozier, or la crosse. However, the game has existed for centuries, originally played by Indigenous tribes across North America, referred to as stickball, The Creator’s Game, Baggataway by the Algonquin and Tewaaraton by the Iroquois, both of which translate to “little brother of war.”

The Creator’s Game was an essential part of Indigenous culture and religion. This name came from the idea that lacrosse was gifted to the people by the Creator, the being responsible for creating everything on earth. As such, the game was used by the Iroquois to teach lessons, for instance, that everyone has struggles and that the key to survival is friends and allies. 

The other name, “little brother of war,” stems from the Iroquois using the game as a way to train young men to be warriors and to settle disputes without going to war. The game could include anywhere between 100 and 1,000 players at a time, playing until the predetermined number of points were achieved by one team. The game was vicious, injuring players with cuts, broken bones and the occasional death

Indigenous lacrosse was played with three to five foot long sticks made of wood and the netting was made of dried out animal hide. Alf Jacques is an Onondaga Turtle Clan lacrosse stick carver. Jacques explains the significance of the wooden stick in an interview with The Equinox. 

“You make that stick from nature. That’s a living piece of wood that you make that out of. The energy of that living tree then transfers to the player,” explained Jacques. 

This fits with the Iroquois culture and belief that, when a man dies, his lacrosse stick is buried with him. The first thing he does when waking up in the afterlife is to take the stick and begin playing. 

However, after the Indigenous people were colonized and assimilated into Canadian culture, so was the game of lacrosse. In 1834, a group from the Caughnawaga tribe demonstrated the game in the city of Montreal. In 1856, Canadian dentist, Dr. William George Beers, founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club and ten years later came up with an adjusted set of rules for the game including a rubber ball and newly designed stick. 

Allan Downey (Dakelh, Nak’azdli Whut’en) is a McMaster professor in the department of history within the Indigenous studies program. His first book, The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity and Indigenous Nationhood, traces the history of lacrosse in Indigenous communities and demonstrates how lacrosse is an example of the appropriation, then reclamation, of Indigenous identities. 

In his book, Downey describes why he played lacrosse, but also the inherent appropriation he recognized within the game. 

“When I was a kid, I was always told that field lacrosse . . . was a “gentleman’s game,” and we as players would be penalized if we swore. Later, I learned that this dated from an 1860s effort to construct lacrosse as a gendered white middle-class sport for Canadians who were naturalized as gentlemen,”

Allan downey

The book examines the process through which identity is created, articulated and the transformation within Indigenous communities as they continue to play their sport and maintain it as an Indigenous game amongst external and internal challenges. 

While lacrosse is a sport that may sometimes be overlooked in mainstream media, it is important to recognize its Indigenous roots and reflect on how Indigenous culture has shaped the Canadian landscape. There is still much to learn and many inherent biases to recognize and put aside as we work to reconcile the past and create an equitable future. 

C/O Creeson Agecoutay, CTV News

It's time to recognize what we've done and stop celebrating genocide

cw: indigenous inequalities, genocide, residential schools

The Silhouette encourages both the McMaster University and Hamilton communities not to partake in Canada Day celebrations. Take the time to reflect on not only the recent news about the countless graves found at residential schools across the country, but also the inequalities that Indigenous peoples face each and every day.

"McMaster University stands on land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement. Wampum belts are beads bound onto strings which narrate Haudenosaunee history, tradition and laws. The “Dish With One Spoon” wampum was created to bind the nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the Great Law of Peace. The “Dish” represents the shared land, while “One Spoon” reinforces the idea of sharing and peace."

This is the land acknowledgement said at the start of every McMaster function. While this is a start, this is not enough on the path to reconciliation or the path to trust.

There is no pride in genocide and we will not stand by and continue to watch these inequalities surface. While we made a commitment last year to continue our work to uplift BIPOC voices, we have noticed that our articles lack Indigenous voices. The Silhouette is a platform for students to share their voice to other students and the McMaster/Hamilton communities. If we do not represent all students, we are not meeting our mandate nor our goal.

There is no pride in genocide and we will not stand by and continue to watch these inequalities surface.

ANDREW MROZOWSKI, VOLUME 92 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE SILHOUETTE


As part of Volume 92, we want to ensure we are providing space for Indigenous students and faculty members to share their input on issues, to share their stance on university affairs, but most importantly, to share their stories. This will not be exclusive to Volume 92 and will be a commitment renewed every year with each Editor-in-Chief, masthead staff member and volunteer contributor. With this commitment, we will also creating our first Indigenous stories special issue this year. This will become an annual celebration of Indigenous stories, a critical lens of Indigenous issues, a place to showcase artwork and most importantly — to shed light on the voices that comprise a large part of our community.

We recognize that not all students reside in the Hamilton area. To find out whose land you currently occupy, go to https://www.whose.land/en/.

We also understand that many conversations currently being had within non-Indigenous communities have the potential to be traumatic. A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-441.

The Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster has many resources for Indigenous students including an Indigenous Student Success Advisor, Writing workshops and various Elder talks: https://indigservices.mcmaster.ca/

Commercial fishers spark violence as anger builds toward Mi’kmaw fishers’ fishery

In September, Sipekne'katik First Nation launched a self-regulated fishery in Southern Nova Scotia, distributing licenses and regulating harvest amongst Mi’kmaw persons without the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 

According to the Supreme Court Marshall ruling in 1999 and the 1760s Peace and Friendship Treaties, Mi’kmaq people are entitled to fish outside of the DFO regulated season. 

However, as Mi’kmaq fishers began to harvest outside of the commercial session, many non-Indigenous people were angered, sparking violence and ultimately, a rehearing of the previous Marshall ruling in November 1999. 

A clarification was issued by the high court, stating that the federal government can still regulate the Mi’kmaq fishers if there are concerns over conservation. The clarification also noted that there should be consultation with the First Nations groups first and the government should be able to justify its concerns. 

Although the Supreme Court ruling stated that they have the right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, the ruling did not clearly define what a moderate livelihood entails. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack said that the definition of their moderate livelihood should be defined by Mi’kmaq persons themselves. 

Canada doesn’t have the right to tell Indigenous people what ‘moderate livelihood’ means, my column #MikmaqRights https://t.co/s5rcJsZmhK

— Tanya Talaga (@TanyaTalaga) October 22, 2020

While non-Indigenous fishers claim to have concerns over conservation, conservation has been and continues to be a priority amongst Mi’kmaq persons. Others have also pointed out that the number of traps non-Indigenous fishers hold are extensively greater than Mi’kmaq fishers.

Now, with the launch of the fishery, non-Indigenous people are once again opposed to the idea of allowing the Mi’kmaq community to fish outside of DFO regulation. 

Anger from non-Indigenous fishers has been high since September when dozens of Mi’kmaq and commercial fishers gathered at a wharf in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia. 

"We're just here to exercise our right. We don't want to fight with anyone and we ask the commercial fishermen to please respect that,” said Sack. 

"We're just here to exercise our right. We don't want to fight with anyone and we ask the commercial fishermen to please respect that,” said Sack. 

Over the next few weeks, hostility from commercial fishers continued to escalate and on Oct. 5, a Mi’kmaw fisher’s vessel was destroyed in a suspicious fire. The vessel was used for commercial fishing and the owner of the vessel was one who received new licenses for the Mi’kmaw fishery. 

In the next week, non-Indigenous commercial fishers and their supporters raided and vandalized Mi'kmaw lobster storing facilities. Several hundred non-Indigenous fishers had gathered together and made their way to a lobster pound in New Edinburgh. A van was later set on fire, lobsters were stolen and the facility was damaged. 

Another raid took place in Yarmouth, a neighbouring county, where Mi’kmaw fisher Jason Marr had to hide within a lobster pound as his vehicle was vandalized by a mob outside. The group called on the fisherman, telling him to give up the lobster that he had harvested. 

“They totally annihilated that building, just tore it all apart. They took all the lobster," Marr told CBC.

“They totally annihilated that building, just tore it all apart. They took all the lobster," Marr said.

Marr also noted that the RCMP did not respond efficiently to the situation and did not try to stop the vandalization. 

On Oct. 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the government’s response, saying that they are active in trying to resolve the situation. 

Across social media, there has been a call to action to support Mi’kmaq fishers in standing their ground and spread awareness about the ongoing hostility toward the Mi’kmaq. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

BLACK INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY OVER HERE! Our Mi’kmaq friends need our help. Today settler commercial fishers burnt down a Mi’kmaq fishery while the RCMP stood by and did nothing. The government is refusing to address the fact that this is domestic terrorism & hate crimes being committed. They refuse to enforce the treaty rights that say the Mi’kmaq have inherent rights to fish on their land. The Canadian government is completely complacent and responsible in their allowance of violence to continue. They uphold the racism, violence & genocide Canada was founded on. It’s time to be actively anti-racist. We need to stand up for the Mi’kmaq as allies & in solidarity to colonial violence that oppresses our Black kin in the same breath. Please start here with this post, on actions you can take RIGHT NOW. We are keeping our story & twitter updated with actions you can take and indigenous voices you can uplift. Fuck white supremacy Be sure to continue paying attention to #1492landbacklane & The @wetsuweten_checkpoint And offering mutual aid & financial support! Thank you @girlupcanada for these amazing graphics! Please follow these accounts for updates: @wetsuweten_checkpoint @junnygirldecolonized @onecraftymikmaq @brookewillisss @jennifer.l.denny @justicegruben Be sure to tag more accounts & more actions in the comments below! #landback #shutdowncanada #moderatelivelihood #1492landbacklane #mmiw #indigenoussovereignty

A post shared by #NOTANOTHERBLACKLIFE ✊ ✊ ✊ (@notanotherblacklife) on


Activists are encouraging people to contact the DFO, asking them to stand by the Mi’kmaq, as well as reach out to various politicians such as the Prime Minister, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Justice. 

“The Canadian government is completely complacent and responsible in their allowance of violence to continue. They uphold the racism, violence & genocide Canada was founded on. It’s time to be actively anti-racist. We need to stand up for the Mi’kmaq as allies & in solidarity to colonial violence that oppresses our Black kin in the same breath," wrote an activism-focused Instagram account, notanotherblacklife

"... It’s time to be actively anti-racist. We need to stand up for the Mi’kmaq as allies & in solidarity to colonial violence that oppresses our Black kin in the same breath,"

Local artist explores Indigenous identity and resurgence with her beadwork

Art has long been a way for artists to create a space for themselves in a world where they feel one doesn't exist. It’s a way of carving out a tangible space to explore and reclaim who you are. For several Indigenous artists, including Kanien'kehá:ka beadwork artist Darien Bardy, art is an act of expression as much as it is an act of resurgence.

Bardy was born and raised in Hamilton. Growing up, she struggled with her Indigenous identity and history. She regularly faced racism and often had to act as if she didn’t know much about her culture in an attempt to avoid such encounters.

As she got older, Bardy became involved with a number of groups for Indigenous peoples, including the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, the Aboriginal Health Centre and the Native Women’s Centre. It was through this work that she was first introduced to and became interested in beadwork.

Beading is a traditional Indigenous art form with a long history. The final pieces are considered a manifestation of the artist's good intentions. It’s also an art form that has gained a lot of attention recently for its prominence in projects supporting Indigenous resurgence.

[media-credit name="C/O Beads in the Trap" align="alignnone" width="480"][/media-credit]

For Bardy, beading served as an important connection to her history and she didn’t expect it to grow into something more. People began to ask her where they could purchase her pieces, she made her Instagram page Beads in the Trap and things really took off. 

“It really just took on a different shape because at first I was like, “this is going to be my page for just documenting my beadwork journey and see how I'm improving over the months”. . . But then it just kind of turned into something bigger,” said Bardy.

“It really just took on a different shape because at first I was like, “this is going to be my page for just documenting my beadwork journey and see how I'm improving over the months”. . . But then it just kind of turned into something bigger,” said Bardy.

Now Beads in the Trap has almost 4000 followers and Bardy’s products sell incredibly quickly, often on the day she posts them. But even as her business continues to grow, Bardy’s personal connection to beading has not diminished. If anything it has grown and taken on a larger meaning. It is no longer solely about helping her connect to her own history and understand her identity, but it is also a way for her to help other Indigenous youth do the same.

“I describe it as Indigenous resurgence in contemporary colonialism because my stuff is not very traditional but I think it represents a lot of urban Native youth or Native youth in younger generations that don't necessarily conform to the traditional ways, but still are influenced by traditional ways,” explained Bardy.

This is seen even in the name of Bardy’s business, which is a reference to the Nicki Minaj song Beez in the Trap. For Bardy, these pieces are another way in which she reconciles the different aspects of her identity. 

[media-credit name="C/O Beads in the Trap" align="alignnone" width="480"][/media-credit]

“In our culture, it's like when you're touching the beads…the good thoughts that are happening in your mind come out through your fingertips and into the beads. So while you're beading, you're literally creating a physical piece of your good thoughts and your good intentions. Those intentions and those good words and thinking good thoughts and wanting good things for whoever wears them – that’s in every single piece that I put out. So, even though my pieces aren't traditional looking . . . the intentions and the good mind is still behind it,” explained Bardy.

Bardy also sees her business as a starting point for conversation about Indigenous histories and resurgence. Especially because many of her pieces can be worn, people often ask her — or her friends and family — about them, creating an opportunity and an opening for these important conversations. 

“What I want people to get out of it is just a symbol of like, we're still here, you can be an ally to us by supporting Indigenous artists . . . [I want people to] walk away with a sense of we're still here. Indigenous people are still here and we’re still trying to figure out where to go from here. We're still trying to figure out what it means to be Indigenous in the world now. Now that we're not a targeted people all the time. Now that we actually have space to breathe and be who we are, who are we?” said Bardy.

"[I want people to] walk away with a sense of we're still here. Indigenous people are still here and we’re still trying to figure out where to go from here," said Bardy.

Brady’s art, the histories and traditions it merges as well as the conversation it encourages are very much an act of expression and resurgence on both a personal and a community level.

The Westdale brings the film adaptation of award-winning book Monkey Beach to Ontario audiences

On Nov. 6, The Westdale will screen the Ontario premiere of Indigenous supernatural mystery film, Monkey Beach. The film is adapted from the 2000 novel of the same name by Haisla and Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson. It follows Lisamarie Hill, a young woman with supernatural abilities from the northern BC community of Kitamaat Village, as she searches for her brother who disappeared at sea.

The film has been many years in the making. The movie’s director, Métis Cree filmmaker Loretta Todd, first heard about the book in the early 2000s, when someone brought to her attention that Eden Robinson’s style of storytelling is similar to her style of filmmaking. Eden, who aims to have all her adaptations handled by Indigenous filmmakers, quickly came on board when Todd approached her about making Monkey Beach into a film.

However, the journey to make the adaptation was long and mentally taxing. Todd spent many years pitching the film, with the support of people such as executive producers Fred Fuchs and Carla Robinson, a journalist who is also Eden’s sister. After many years of pitching, Telefilm Canada funded the film in 2018 along with a few other Indigenous films. Unfortunately, Todd still had to fight to tell the story the way that she wanted to.

“Like even with the storytelling, Loretta did have to fight really hard to get the story told the way she wanted to, in a nonstandard approach. And so, you can't just edit it the normal way and it’s going to take longer and it's going to take more resources. So she really did have to fight to get an adequate amount of resources . . . [You] definitely have to fight harder and convince people of the worth of a different kind of storytelling . . . [I]t was a battle in a lot of ways, but definitely, one that I think is worth it,” said Robinson.

[You] definitely have to fight harder and convince people of the worth of a different kind of storytelling . . . [I]t was a battle in a lot of ways, but definitely one that I think is worth it,” said Robinson.

The filmmakers continued to face challenges during filming and postproduction. For a supernatural movie filmed in a remote area, the budget was small. In addition, if they started filming any later, the movie may not have been able to shoot at the location.

[media-credit name="C/O Ricardo Hubbs" align="center" width="2560"][/media-credit]

Towards the end of filming, it was announced that a liquefied natural gas pipeline would start building in the area, leading prices to rise almost overnight. As a result, Robinson described the film as almost a time capsule of what the area was once like.

However, regardless of this, filming in Kitamaat was always a priority for the filmmakers. Robinson noted that about a third of the budget went towards travel, but it was worth the cost because there was nowhere else that could capture the same emotions.

“[I]t's beautiful up there and it's unique. It's hard to get the same hauntingness or the same vastness, the same personality that the land gives . . . You know the animals, the characters, all of the characters have very strong storylines. It's not just the main characters, it's like [even] the land has a progression,” said Robinson.

“[I]t's beautiful up there and it's unique. It's hard to get the same hauntingness or the same vastness, the same personality that the land gives . . . You know the animals, the characters, all of the characters have very strong storylines. It's not just the main characters, it's like [even] the land has a progression,” said Robinson.

Filming on location fed the supernatural elements of the film. Not only did the land serve as the perfect backdrop but they also felt that the ancestors were helping them with the project. Even though they were filming in autumn, which is normally rainy and cold, they experienced extremely good weather that Robinson credited to the ancestors.

The challenges that the filmmakers’ overcame to make this movie mimics the journey of the main character, Lisamarie Hill. Lisamarie initially feels that no one is listening to her. However, much like the filmmakers who brought her to life, she persisted. The story acknowledges and highlights both the harm of the residential school system on today’s Indigenous peoples, but also demonstrates the resilience of these communities.

This is one of the reasons why the film is so important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous viewers alike. The important and universal themes in the film makes Fuchs, who is also the chair of The Westdale Cinema Group, so excited to bring the film to Hamilton. As many theatres in Ontario are currently closed due to COVID-19, the Westdale is going to be the only theatre in Ontario that screens the film.

“[T]he whole reason we bought [The Westdale] and restored it and it's a heritage-designated building was for exactly great movies like this. We want to showcase Canadian film, independent film, arthouse film and we want to provide as much diversity in terms of the films we select and be as inclusive as possible for all the different audiences,” explained Fuchs.

On the opening night of the film, singer-songwriter Gail Obediah will provide an introduction. After the premiere, there will be a question and answer session with Fuchs, Robinson and her daughter Leenah Robinson, who also stars in the film. There will be three screenings of the film from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8.

Fuchs thinks students should see the film because they will be able relate to the struggles of Lisamarie as she grows into adulthood. By watching this story, hopefully audiences will be able to tap into emotions that are better explained by art than by words.

A brief overview of activist action in Hamilton

CW: mentions of violence and racism

2020 has been a rough – albeit transformative – year for everyone. From the pandemic to the racial injustices across North America that gained media attention to global emergencies such as the Beirut explosion or worsening of the Yemeni crisis, the world has lived through some of its worst times in recorded history.

However, in the midst of the anger and sadness, there have been sparks of spirit and action as activists took the summer of 2020 as a time to enact social change. From rallies to sit-ins, activists across the country, even at McMaster, have advocated for change. Whether it be fighting for a home country’s autonomy and nationhood, empowering marginalized communities in Canada or reclaiming land that was lost to colonization, summer 2020 was full of activism.

[/media-credit] Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution 2014 爭取香港真普選

Pushing for Autonomy: Hong Kong’s Fight

In June 2019, protests took place across Hong Kong in response to plans to allow citizen extradition to mainland China. Although the bill that would allow for the extradition to occur was withdrawn in September, demonstrations continued as people demanded democracy and inquiries into police actions against protestors and activists. As police brutality against the citizens of Hong Kong became increasingly violent, many pro-independence activists are now seeking asylum in Canada as refugees. Canada has begun accepting these refugees into the country. 

The events unfolding in Hong Kong are heard here, on the other side of the globe, through media and first-hand accounts. Despite the physical distance between us, these issues directly affect and involve us, including students at McMaster.

McMaster Stands with Hong Kong is a student activist group that was founded last October. The mandate of the organization is to support and bring awareness to Hong Kongers in their fight against Chinese occupation, police brutality and to support all refugees seeking asylum in Canada. This past summer, the organization engaged in multiple acts of activism.

In May, Mac-HK opposed the Student Success Centre’s decision to post a Hong Kong police job on their student website, which yielded significant results as the Student Success Centre quietly deleted the post. In August, Mac-HK co-organized an event in downtown Toronto with other universities that called out Chinese influence and actions in Hong Kong and the need for Canada to protect Hong Kongers’ safety here. In September, Mac-HK co-organized a rally for Status for All, a rally focusing on giving status to international students, refugees, farmers and workers, who were all particularly affected socially and financially by the pandemic. 

These acts from McMaster students are a reminder that what happens across the world affects us right here in Canada and at McMaster. 

[/media-credit] Black Live Matter Plaza, Washington, DC - today with military vehicles removed

Fighting Social Injustice: Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter: this sentence and movement have been gaining traction since its use as a hashtag on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin in July 2013. This year, the movement reached a peak in traction and recognition following the shootings of Black men and women, including the murder of George Floyd in May.

An international fight against systemic racism and police brutality in the form of rallies, protests and petitions took center stage. In response to police brutality, many organizations seeking to fight systemic racism and police brutality in North America have emerged, some of them right here in Hamilton.

HWDSB Kids Need Help is an organization that was formed by Hamilton students, including some who currently attend McMaster University. The organization seeks to support the rights of high school students, particularly those from marginalized communities, in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and oppose police presence.

In February 2020, HWDSB Kids Need Help assisted in a report that requested the termination of the HWDSB police school liaison program. The program supported the presence of six officers at 38 secondary schools and five officers in a partnership with 158 elementary schools. This presence was meant to prevent crime, but HWDSB Kids Need Help researched and outlined the impact of the program. After a summer of activism, the motion to terminate the police school liaison program was passed

Reclaiming Land: Land Back Camp

Today, Indigenous people continue to face systemic oppression as a result of colonialism in many forms. In response to this, many movements fighting against land occupation have come about.

One example is Land Back Camp, which was set up in June in Kitchener’s Victoria Park. The camp was set up to reclaim land that was once a central hub of activity and life for Nations such as the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.

Beyond existing as a way to reclaim land and send a political message to authorities, the camp is said to connect young Indigenous adults to their culture and offer youth and two-spirited people a place where they feel more at home.

Movements like Land Back Camp that occur so close to home offer an opportunity for students to reflect on their role in supporting Indigenous communities.

Although social issues can often appear abstract or distant, it is important to remember that our neighbours and peers are actively shaping and defining change in our society. Large-scale issues manifest in one way or another within our school and communities and it is important not to disregard them, but to rather acknowledge the efforts local activists are putting in catalyzing change.

This article is the first in a series on the many acts, events and movements of activism from summer 2020.

Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By: Evan Jamieson-Eckel, Contributor

On Nov. 8, 2019, Indigenous women took to Twitter to call out Ainsley Whynacht. Whynacht applied for an Indigenous Student scholarship through the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and received one of the six awards worth $1,500. Her paper, which was required to apply for the scholarship, discussed the negative conditions experienced by people living on reservations. Here’s the catch: Whynacht is not Indigenous (and, no, claiming fake Indigenous identity doesn’t count).

From the scholarship committee who gave an indigenous scholarship to a white girl who gleefully posted her deception on social media: we’re letting her keep the award, and shame on you ndns for being mean to her. https://t.co/Tx3bGGWuoR

— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) November 11, 2019

The issue here is theft of opportunity for Indigenous Peoples that may otherwise allow us to reclaim our voices. If we look at this issue on a broader level, it is more common than you might realize. In this era of reconciliation that we are currently in, it has become acceptable for mainstream society to consume anything Indigenous without reciprocation or even a basic awareness of the consequences of consumption. This non-reciprocal consumption occurs here at McMaster University, where settlers can major or minor in Indigenous studies.

You read that right: our university provides the means for settlers to establish a career in dominating Indigenous voices.

This is a core issue with reconciliation-driven initiatives. Instead of creating opportunities for Indigenous People to reclaim our voices, make a living and rebuild Indigenous Nationhood, mainstream Canadian society maintains the oppression of Indigenous Peoples by supporting the creation of settler “Indian experts”. Settlers like William Fenton, an anthropologist who rewrote Haudenosaunee history as he saw fit throughout the mid 1900’s, have dominated Indigenous knowledge and its reproduction for centuries. Twisting the truth of our Nations and cultures to better suit settler needs and wants has always taken priority over undoing the destruction caused by settler colonialism. Institutions like McMaster University allow settlers to continue to have our cake and eat it too, in 2019 and beyond.

Now using reconciliation as their excuse, settlers are all too eager to find the next way to benefit from Indigenous experience. With most of our land base taken from us, the knowledge we’ve protected as Indigenous Peoples is more valuable than ever. While Whynact’s theft of $1,500 is wrong, it is also a drop in the bucket compared to the wealth that settler graduates in Indigenous studies will generate at our expense in the future. There are various lucrative jobs that having a degree in Indigenous studies will allow you to be considered for, including in education and politics. As of right now, the average annual salary for these kinds of jobs is around $94,743. Having a minor or major in Indigenous Studies acts as a resume buffer when reconciliation is positively regarded in hiring processes. These institutional preferences may prevent employers from addressing discrimination in their hiring practices, as credentials such as a university degree will outweigh actual Indigenous experience. This is a major problem since many Indigenous Peoples do not have the ability to attend university to obtain a degree in something that is clearly for us, yet it is all available on a silver platter to be consumed by those who can afford to enroll in the Indigenous studies program.

The issue goes deeper on the local level. Even before settler students at McMaster University graduate from the program, they are also able to obtain employment as teaching assistants in Indigenous studies classes. I took this issue to CUPE 3906, who are now bargaining to give preference to Indigenous applicants in the TA hiring process. This is common practice in other Indigenous-focused organizations and programs. Beyond obtaining a degree in Indigenous studies, employers will also be looking for graduates with experience. By allowing settler students to be TAs in Indigenous studies courses, it sets them up for further success and profit when they enter the job market as settler graduates will have the added experience of being a TA. Worse still, the dynamic of settlers marking Indigenous knowledge is problematic in its own right. Considering how unemployment is often referenced in anti-Indigenous racism through laziness or lack of intelligence, it is a wonder that settlers will also take away employment opportunities that are best suited by Indigenous peoples ourselves. 

To be clear, settlers that take advantage of opportunities that are meant for Indigenous people are not helping us. The impact of their actions will always outweigh their intent. If they were committed to real reconciliation, settlers would learn how to not take up space and know when it is time to stay in their own lane for once in the history of Indigenous/settler relations. They would only take Indigenous studies courses to supplement their learning, not as a minor or a major that allows them to establish authority over the subject. They would support Indigenous peoples in their efforts to rebuild their Nations. They would not be looking for the next way to make a buck at our expense. They would take the time to educate themselves about the settler-colonial foundation of Canada, understand their complicity in it and seek out Indigenous written resources for how to commit to genuine reconciliation. 

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

 

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenu