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Published: January 13th 2013
So sorry it took me so long to finish up this blog, but I was waiting on a friend I met up North. I had originally aimed to do a long-distance interview with her (as she is an aboriginal activist based in Yellowknife that I had some seriously thought-provoking conversations with during my tenure) but as the "Idle No More" campaign has gotten into full swing she is understandably otherwise engaged.
I was thinking that for my final blog entry I would leave you all with some of the notable quotables I stumbled across during my time up here in Canada’s great white North.
1). This is from the recent 2012 decision of the Supreme Court in <em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">R v Ipeelee. It acts as a reminder of how aboriginal peoples continue to be disadvantaged in Canadian society and reminds the Court to consider their situation when imposing sentences:
“To be clear, courts must take judicial notice of such matters as the history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools and how that history continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of substance abuse and suicide, and of course higher levels of incarceration for Aboriginal peoples. These matters, on their own, do not necessarily justify a different sentence for Aboriginal offenders. Rather, they provide the necessary context for understanding and evaluating the case-specific information presented by counsel.” (Paragraph 60)
2). This is an uplifting article that was circulated in the Employees of the Government of the NWT “BearFacts” Newsletter regarding the implementation of a curriculum that addresses and teaches youngsters about the impact of the Residential School System:
First of its Kind Comprehensive Curriculum on Residential Schools
This past week nearly 70 teachers from across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut arrived in Yellowknife for a unique inservice. These Northern Studies 10 (NWT) and Social Studies 10 (Nunavut) teachers participated in workshops and facilitated sessions on the new comprehensive Residential Schools curriculum. Launched on Tuesday morning at an opening ceremony that included Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty, Minister of Education and Premier Eva Aariak of the Government of Nunavut, and Commissioner Marie Wilson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The ceremony also included the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, and a ceremonial lighting of the qulliq, a traditional source of heat, food, and light in Nunavut.
In partnership with the Legacy of Hope, and the support from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association, the curriculum will cover the full spectrum of the history and legacy of residential schools, traditional education and learning, colonialism, assimilation, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Federal apology, the TRC and what reconciliation may look like. It also includes literature and stories of former residential school students shared through audio and video clips, allowing students to learn of both the positive and negative impacts that school life had on individuals.
“A significant part of our history is in this curriculum,” said Minister Lafferty. “The coursework and resources enclosed are the result of exhaustive research and provide a deeper understanding of the impacts of residential schools on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This will give our students insight into the challenges faced by survivors, and a context for healing and reconciliation.”
The inservice provided teachers with tools and information on how to engage students in these sensitive and complex issues, and supports are in place with Health Canada and the Healing Drum Society to ensure any questions that may arise in families as a result of students learning this curriculum are addressed through counseling and support.
3). And finally, a quote from Judge Morrow. He was the second acting judge of the Northwest Territories and he had this advice to give to those entering the practice of law:
“Lawyers need to use the profession to help protest injustice, not just to earn a comfortable living. ... A free society depends on the lawyers who will stand up for free and just causes and judges are only as good as the lawyers they began as ... . You can't all work in the north, but you can help to champion personal liberties and preserve human dignity anywhere in this country.”
There’s some inspiration for you eh? (We’ll try Judge Morrow, we’ll try!)
Wishing you all health, safety, happiness and an activist-like spirit!
‘Till my next adventure,
Some links to information on Kiera Dawn Kolson, the activist I mentioned earlier:
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