Paddlers from across Ontario canoeing to Garden River for Great Lakes Gathering
Two separate water journeys have converged on route to Garden River, Ontario for a historical event that calls together “all members of the Anishnaabe nations, including Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi peoples and the Metis all around the Great Lakes.” The Gathering intends to “gather, compile and share information regarding the health of our waters and make collective decisions as to what needs to be done to protect them.”
The Water Keepers Journey is a group of Indigenous women who are traveling 458 kilometres from Lake Wahnipitae near Sudbury, Ont. They have paddled between 20 to 30 kilometres a day. They are inspired by the Gathering’s intent and purpose and that is to remember how sacred water is.
“People … from different territories can paddle with them for a few days. [It is] just to keep everyone together and build relationships with our communities along the way,” said Dakota Recollet, the group’s spokesperson.
On July 9, 2016, the Water Keepers Journey met up with Nibi Onji Canoe Journey. Edward E. George’s month long journey started at Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation, near Sarnia, Ont.
“My approach isn’t really to be an activist but it is to raise awareness. The biggest part of this is an inquiry into what more do we do for the water. What can I do?” said George.
George has been greatly inspired by Josephine Mandamin who walked the shorelines of all five Great Lakes. Mandamin’s dedication has led George’s decision to eat a mostly traditional diet, including wild rice and dried meats. “There is one thing [Mandamin] says which is ‘in this work that we do, there is no such thing as try. Either you do it or you don’t.’” said George. “Every day that is what I’m faced with.”
“If I was to ask people for help, it would be to ask them to pray for the water and to give a moment of your time to think about the water. We are so blessed to the point that we don’t even realize it.” George said.
After converging with the Water Keepers Journey, the group of youth paddlers took a break to attend the Assembly of First Nations Youth Summit to raise awareness about the water. At this time, they also met up with the Youth Walk of Hope, a group of young men walking to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic in Attawapiskat.
Father and son teach trust and respect to youth through horsemanship
The Eagle Brothers Ranch is located 45 minutes north east of Regina, Sask. It is here in the Qu’Appelle Valley that Kamao Cappo and his son, Haydar have worked with youth for more than a decade. Cappo runs two horse programs including the Spirit Horse Camp and Rockridge Riders, which is a free horse riding program that Cappo started 13 years ago for youth from Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation.
Both father and son believe that it is important to pass on knowledge. It is through youth participation that horse therapy programming helps to raise their self-esteem and confidence. “With the Spirit Horse Project, it is a little more in depth,” said Kamao. “We have an elder on site and it’s a little bit more focused on healing and respect for horses and their therapeutic value.”
The first thing that they teach is how to respect the horses and also, themselves. “I always say that there is a circle around horses. It’s like the horse’s sacred circle and when they are in that circle, they have to be respectful at all times and be careful of that horse. I tell them they have their own circle around themselves and how they have to be respectful of themselves,” Cappo said.
Haydar Cappo teaches riding techniques, like how to approach a horse. He says it’s all about building trust, it takes time and patience to build relationships with horses. Until the riders feel comfortable, Haydar will lead the horses. Both father and son know how interconnected man and animal are. “If a person has trust issues, it will reflect while they are around the horse. Sometimes they can be in a place where they feel weak or powerless and they have to be able to trust that the horse is not going to hurt them.” Because horses can sense mood, the handler must feel safe. They also engage the help of Dawsin, who is a tiny horse that is always ready to help build trust.
Eagle Brothers Ranch provides inner city youth with opportunities to interact with horses. “These children are the most important of all,” said Cappo. “These kids are the ones who need it the most and if we can help in that, then we have done something.”
Saskatoon Police get addresses mixed up and brutalize indigenous man
Dion LaDouceur Waniandy is a 48-year-old man that volunteers at a local radio station in Saskatoon, Sask. On June 29, 2016, Waniandy was in his small apartment when four police officers barged in and used aggressive force and tasered his spine. However, Waniandy was not the man they were looking for. Now he suffers from shoulder and back pain as a result of the attack.
“I wasn’t the guy they were looking for; they knew that at the end. Even after they were told twice. It was Dion in here twice. Even after the guy they were looking for shows up in the hallway, I still got tasered,” said Waniandy. He filed a complaint. Saskatoon Police Department admits they made a mistake. Apparently, they were given the wrong address; however, Waniandy was still taken into custody and charged for assault on a police officer and uttering threats.
It could have de-escalated but the experience has since left Waniandy sleepless and lacking trust in the police. He feels that racism was a factor in the incident. “It really changes you. These guys are supposed to be the ones protecting you and taking care of you. This wasn’t taking care of me,” he said.
Man charged with offering indignity to human remains released on bail
On June 9, 2016, 25-year-old Joey English was reported missing by her family. Last week, parts of her body were found in North East Calgary. Joshua Jordan Weise, 40, of Calgary has been charged with offering indignity to human remains and was granted bail on Thursday. Police have not released English’s cause of death
“It’s been one month and it’s been very difficult to grieve and allow our spirits to heal from this. We can’t have a funeral because we don’t have all of her, which is extremely hard to deal with,” said English’s cousin Braelion English. “It’s a consistent thing in our aboriginal communities that women go missing and nothing is really done about it.”
The effects of intergenerational trauma are lived through the legacy of psychological and social damage. English has lost two family members to murder and three to suicide. “I want a future where I don’t have to worry about my family being killed.”
During the bail hearing, Weise told the judge, “I’m not a bad guy.”
“Imagine hearing this about your own child and knowing that this man is going to be allowed these rights and [her mother] can’t even see her daughter anymore.” Weise is set to return to court August 16, 2016.
Road to Niagara offers alternative perspective of the Indian Act and Treaties
From July 7 to 14, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will be hosting the “Road to Niagara”. It’s led by Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, who will be riding his motorcycle, amongst other riders and a caravan of buses and cars, to Niagara Falls to participate in the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly.
It is here that Nepinak will remind the Canadian government of the new “political will” that has entered the national discussion around Indigenous sovereignty. This includes a renewed nation to nation relationship, new fiscal relationship, the need to implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Ride to Niagara seeks to acknowledge and affirm Indigenous sovereignty.
Joan Jack, one of the riders, says that she is taking part in the Ride to Niagara to bring awareness of the misogyny of the Indian Act and to inspire Indigenous women to become leaders. “Many of our communities are still stuck in chauvinistic views of a woman’s place and a woman’s role and I’m just here to say that that’s just BS.” According to Jack, the Indian Act is “legalized misogyny.”
At the AFN Annual General Assembly, Chief Nepinak will be meeting with federal cabinet ministers to talk about treaty relationships. “We need to wake up from some of these false myths and narratives we’ve been carrying with respect to the Indian Act and really focus on what a treaty based relationship is all about.”