Inuk author sends up settler stereotypes in short stories

Norma Dunning’s latest subversive collection has earned her a Governor General’s Literary Award

Inuk author sends up settler stereotypes in short storiesInuk author Norma Dunning loves to court the absurd. In one of her short stories, called “Eskimo Heaven,” an Inuit ancestral spirit visits a priest from the North. “The spirit says, ‘Come with me, we’re gonna take a walk on the wild side,’” explained Dunning, a lecturer in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education…

Follow our Indigenous neighbours to a carbon-neutral future

The Wet’suwet’en are trying to preserve our planet in the face of the oil industry trying to amass profit

Follow our Indigenous neighbours to a carbon-neutral futureA major issue is getting surprisingly little coverage in the Canadian media. While we looked away to watch the impact of the climate crisis on farmland in southern British Columbia, 50 heavily armed RCMP constables raided a peaceful blockade in Wet’suwet’en territory in the north of the province. The police used helicopters and canine units…

Master’s grad thrives on team atmosphere as scientist and athlete

Liam Buchart's work in climate modelling was what really showed him the power of teamwork

Master’s grad thrives on team atmosphere as scientist and athleteLiam Buchart has always been a team player. He didn’t let academic pursuits get in the way of playing junior B hockey in the Capital Junior Hockey League while stickhandling through his first three years in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta. Even after junior, when he joined the U of A’s…

Canada is not a half-mast nation

The price of Trudeau's empty gesture was nothing less than a cheapening of the Canadian idea

Canada is not a half-mast nationThe Trudeau government’s decision to keep the Canadian flag at half-mast for more than five months was never more than a half-baked idea. On May 30 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canadian flag would fly at half-mast on federal buildings in remembrance of the residential school students who did not return to their…

Oil and gas provides nothing but opportunity for Indigenous peoples

The success of the industry is a success for Indigenous people

Oil and gas provides nothing but opportunity for Indigenous peoplesI learned from my dad about sharing opportunities and lending a helping hand. That principle of generosity now sets the tone for my business and its interactions with customers. The oil and natural gas industry has provided opportunities for me and my family, which I’m proud to pay forward to my employees, community and beyond.…

Murray Sinclair to receive honorary degree from U of A

Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair will give a virtual address during fall convocation

Murray Sinclair to receive honorary degree from U of AThe Honourable Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous judge in Manitoba and the driving force behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, will deliver the commencement address virtually to graduands as part of the University of Alberta’s fall convocation ceremony to be held Nov. 19. Sinclair is Anishinaabe and a member of the Peguis First Nation. “On…

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them right

What can be said of those who deny the past and ignore the inherent human rights of their neighbours?

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them rightIt’s a normal human reaction not only to acknowledge when we’ve done something wrong but to seek to make reparations and heal the relationship with the person we’ve harmed. This is also true on a societal level. As I complete teaching my unit on the residential school system in Canada, I ask students to reflect…

Indigenous peoples also have the right to say “yes” to resource projects

End the ideological posturing that has proved so detrimental to Indigenous rights

Indigenous peoples also have the right to say “yes” to resource projectsFor the last few decades, Indigenous communities have fought for the right to have a say in resource projects. In earlier generations, major resource and infrastructure projects were imposed on traditional territories without consultation, engagement, and collaboration. In some instances, these projects did severe environmental damage or caused significant social and cultural disruptions. Indigenous peoples…

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand it

Governments will only do the right thing if we, as Canadians, demand it

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand itI try to be optimistic and embrace the truth that “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” When I examine how the Canadian government treats Indigenous children, however, it’s hard not to be cynical. I began teaching my Social Justice 12 unit on residential schools by watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology…

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation well-intentioned but hollow

The transition from symbolism to action will be more difficult than Canadians imagine

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation well-intentioned but hollowCanada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation fell far short of expectations. The continuing pandemic did not help, nor did the unevenness of the holiday/commemoration across the country. As expected, most Canadians who had a day off used it as personal time. Only a small number took the opportunity to engage with Indigenous peoples…

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the pain

And may make the situation worse

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the painIn July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the arson and vandalism of Catholic churches across Canada in the wake of discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools. After more than 1,100 unmarked graves were discovered at the sites of schools previously run by the Catholic Church in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, protests erupted. Statues…

Systemic racism is embedded in our economy

We pass laws for unjust taxes, reward unscrupulous businesses and hold money back from our children

Systemic racism is embedded in our economyIn a 2016 interview, CBC journalist Peter Mansbridge confronted children’s advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock with this statement regarding public funding for Indigenous programs: “Billions of dollars have been spent in trying to come to grips with the situation that so many Indigenous Canadians face. And of those billions, it’s on the record that some of…

Protecting the most vulnerable from the coming energy crisis

We're deluded if we believe that the consequences will only be borne by workers in the oil and gas sector

Protecting the most vulnerable from the coming energy crisisShortly before the election was called, the federal government launched an engagement process to determine how Canadians want to implement a 'Just Transition' to a net-zero carbon economy. To the government, this means developing supports for the oil and gas workers whose livelihoods are being impacted by domestic climate policies. A 'Just Transition Advisory Body'…

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocrite

Our surfer boy PM has been a national and international embarrassment since 2015

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocriteWhen Justin Trudeau was first elected prime minister in 2015, there were political issues he said he wanted to tackle immediately. One of his earliest priorities was a desire to repair Canada's fractious relationship with the Indigenous community. "It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples," he told some Quebec-based First…

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliation

We must educate the many Canadians who don’t know what happened to our Indigenous neighbours

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliationI’ve been teaching high school students about Canada’s residential schools for a number of years. Indigenous content has recently been given a more prominent place in the British Columbia curriculum, and this has had an impact. Students now come to my class with some understanding of this tragic chapter in our history, and we’re able…

Five things we all need to know about reconciliation in health care

First Indigenous president of the Canadian Medical Association speaks about what it will take to overcome inequities

Five things we all need to know about reconciliation in health careOn Canada’s newly-declared National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we asked Dr. Alika Lafontaine to take stock of the state of reconciliation in health care. Lafontaine, an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie and associate clinical professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, was recently chosen as the…

How did we make reconciliation about white folks?

Many of the educational efforts associated with reconciliation are targeted at non-Indigenous peoples

How did we make reconciliation about white folks?Something strange has been happening on the road to true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission produced clear recommendations on how the country could shed the bitter legacy of Indigenous residential schools. Yet, following revelations about gravesites near formal residential schools, the process seems to have morphed into measures designed to serve…

Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilities

Tianna Tanasichuk's internship was a chance to gain experience – not learn about herself

Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilitiesWorking in the sunshine, surrounded by the soft hum of a dozen beehives this summer, Tianna Tanasichuk couldn’t help thinking of her recently passed Métis great-grandmother. “Whenever I was working with the bees, I felt like if she was here, she’d be proud of me, knowing I took this risk, of trying to grow by…

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?

The parties' records over the last 13 years are revealing

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?If Canadians are as concerned as they claim about the increasing number of unmarked graves found near former residential schools, the 2021 federal election will be pivotal. Each of the major political parties displays a clear track record exposing their views on Indigenous issues, domestically and abroad. The residential school apology on June 11, 2008,…

Understanding treaties is essential to reconciliation

Indigenous peoples agreed to share the land – with conditions. It’s important that we learn and talk about what that means

Understanding treaties is essential to reconciliationMy husband and I grew up in families that hunted wild game, mainly moose, for our primary meat source. So, it is no surprise that our children grew up hunting and eating wild game. Now our six-year-old grandson is learning the importance of our interconnectedness to our four-legged relative, the moose, and to the land.…

How to be a better treaty person

No two treaty agreements are alike, but all of them offer a lot to the people who reside on treaty territory

How to be a better treaty personMost Indigenous people know that their ancestors envisioned a strong future for them through treaty negotiations, says Chelsea Vowel, an assistant lecturer at the U of A’s Faculty of Native Studies. And many Indigenous people have signed treaties, which describe how they can live together in a good way with settler society (descendants of European…

What if money is not the answer for Indigenous communities?

The feds tend to use money as a surrogate to real commitment

What if money is not the answer for Indigenous communities?The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made extraordinary financial commitments to Indigenous peoples in Canada. The number and scale of the allocations over the past few years have been staggering, both in comparative and absolute terms. Last week, the federal government and First Nations reached an agreement on water supplies on reserves, estimated…

The questions left unasked about Indigenous deaths

Including: how was it possible for these deaths to occur without anyone noticing?

The questions left unasked about Indigenous deathsMelissa Mollen-Dupuis and I don’t know each other but we appear to share similar thoughts on the journalism around Kamloops, B.C. and the discovery of an unmarked grave containing remains of Indigenous children. In an interview with Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper recently, Mollen-Dupuis was sharply critical of media response to the shocking news that ground-penetrating…

Who is to blame for the church burnings across Canada?

Mainstream media may have lit the fuse, but there were accomplices

Who is to blame for the church burnings across Canada?Mainstream media lit a fuse, and churches are burning. Nearly two dozen to date and a greater number have been vandalized with graffiti, paint-dipped handprints, and splatter. Some congregations have accepted acts of vandalism as a visual lesson on the road to reconciliation. Others wonder if their place of worship is safe, or a safe…

Professors promote science as a tool for Indigenous governance

Kim TallBear and Jessica Kolopenuk are addressing increasing demands for Indigenous governance in STEM

Professors promote science as a tool for Indigenous governanceIt’s a common misconception, Dr. Kim TallBear says, that while Indigenous peoples have culture and tradition, white people own science and technology. As TallBear mentions in a video trailer for one of the Faculty of Native Studies’ newest online courses, this myth doesn’t only undermine the myriad ways Indigenous peoples have produced science, technology and knowledge systems throughout history…

Why the Calls to Action should be Canada’s guidebook

Canada is facing a pivotal moment. We can choose to keep the truth buried or we can choose to heal

Why the Calls to Action should be Canada’s guidebookCanada Day 2021 was like none other in our history. The unmarked gravesites of children who died at residential schools seemed to be on everyone’s mind. Efforts to “kill the Indian in the child” in residential schools did tremendous damage to our country. Today, Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in our prison system, their high…

Time to celebrate the Week of Indigenous Women

RoseAnne Archibald, Mary Simon and Jody Wilson-Raybould give Canadians plenty of reason to hope

Time to celebrate the Week of Indigenous WomenThe fifth ballot win that made RoseAnne Archibald the first ever female national chief of the Assembly of First Nations sealed the Week of Indigenous Women in Canada. Fittingly, it came only seven days after the wave of soul-searching national angst over residential schools that led to overwrought cancellations of Canada Day in some corners…

Finding a new path forward driven by Indigenous people

The graves of residential school children symbolize the abject failure of decades of government policy

Finding a new path forward driven by Indigenous peoplePeople are mad. Finally! And sadly, belatedly. The discovery of the locations where hundreds of children were buried around abandoned residential school grounds has touched the country in ways that perhaps even the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not. People are responding to…

Why I chose to celebrate Canada Day

Let’s fix what needs fixing but appreciate what we have

Why I chose to celebrate Canada DayI celebrated Canada Day. I took the day off from work. I wore red and white. I enjoyed a barbecue with friends. I’m very glad I live in Canada. Sad, tragic things have happened in Canada. A catastrophic event has been defined as one where little children die and we’re uncovering evidence of such catastrophes…

A civil libertarian who is neither civil nor libertarian

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association director Harsha Walia reacted to the burning of churches by tweeting ‘Burn it all down’

A civil libertarian who is neither civil nor libertarianBritish Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) executive director Harsha Walia retweeted a Vice News article on June 30 about two Catholic churches being burned down in Canada. These terrible incidents were reportedly related to the discovery of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at three former residential schools. A retweet wouldn’t have been noticed by most…
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