Aboriginal Education Month

Elijah Harper, Oji-Cree politician, consultant, policy analyst (born 3 March 1949 at Red Sucker Lake, MB; died 17 May 2013 in Ottawa, ON). Harper is best known for the role he played in scuttling the Meech Lake Accord, for which he was named the Canadian Press newsmaker of the year for 1990.  Read the rest of this article at The Canadian Encyclopedia online.

Interested in learning more?  The Toronto Public Library has an extensive collection of holdings relating to the the Canadian Constitution, and the Meech Lake Accord in particular.

If you’re really keen on Canadian Constitutional drama, take yourself to the Toronto Reference Library where you can access Jacques Godbout’s documentary film The Black Sheep.

  • One of Quebec’s foremost documentarians and authors, Jacques Godbout discusses the qualities that differentiate Quebec from the rest of the country, the demise of the Meech Lake Accord and the future of the “black sheep” of Confederation.

If that’s not enough for you, you can also take in the sequel, The Black Sheep – Ten Years On at the same time.  The sequel:

  • Captures a society in flux following the demise of the Meech Lake Accord, creating a mirror for those living in Quebec and a window for the rest of Canada. Jacques Godbout investigates the issues and the personalities of the critical times in Quebec’s history. In doing so, he reveals the qualities that differentiate Quebec from the rest of the country.





Aboriginal Education Month

Today is Inuit Day… an occasion to celebrate Inuit accomplishments, their communities and their culture with their International family. Today is also an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the important relationship and history we share with the Inuit of Canada as we move forward in our journey of reconciliation and a renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. (The Honourable Carolyn Bennett Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs)

Consider reading Kathleen Winter’s 2014 memoir Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage. Boundless explores the widespread climate change issues currently effecting Inuit people in Canada’s Arctic.  Boundless was a finalist for the 2014 Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Non-Fiction.

Consider also watching the National Film Board of Canada’s Inuuvunga – I Am Inuk, I Am Alive. This feature-length film by 8 young Inuit filmmakers shows a contemporary view of life in Canada’s North.

Aboriginal Education Month

A major result of residential schools is how they are continuing to impact the Survivors’ families and young Indigenous people as a whole, decades after the last residential school closure. Wab Kinew explores this in his memoir, The Reason You Walk.  In his memoir he explores his father’s traumatic childhood at a residential school and the overarching effects the experience had on his father, as well as himself and his family, and how residential schools continues to effect generations of young Indigenous people to come.  Though a shameful part of Canada’s past, Canadians must ensure that residential schools and the trauma that occurred because of them, continue to be acknowledged, learned about, and not forgotten.

Wab’s “Soapbox” video explains how common, hurtful stereotypes about Indigenous people, such as widespread alcoholism and poverty, linger and affect our ability to engage one another.  Worth watching.

November is (also) Aboriginal Education Month

Charlie Wenjack is perhaps the most well-known representative of the horrors of residential schools. Charlie was taken from his family and placed into a residential school at age nine. In 1966, at age twelve, he told his friends he missed his family and managed to escape from the school. He attempted to walk from the residential school in Kenora, Ontario, back to his home in Ogoki Post, more than 600 kilometres away. Charlie managed to walk 60 kilometres away from the school, wearing only a windbreaker and carrying a jar of matches. He survived thirty-six hours in freezing rain, snow, and below freezing temperatures, before dying of hunger and exposure, alone next to railroad tracks. Charlie’s death prompted nationwide outcry and an inquest into his death found that residential schools were culturally oppressive and emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive to the victims. Many residential schools were defunded and shut down in the years following Charlie’s death and Charlie himself has become a symbol of resistance to the colonization of Indigenous peoples in Canada. (Sourced from The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Two recently published books shine a light on Charlie:

You might also take a moment to watch the newest Heritage Minute… all about Charlie.