July 21, 2017
Great People Doing Great Things: Opening Up New Paths for Youth
The goal of the Montreal-based Wapikoni Mobile program, which has worked almost exclusively with Quebec’s Indigenous communities since its founding in 2004, is not to turn out a generation of First Nations filmmakers. It has, however, produced several young talents, sent films to the Sundance and Cannes festivals, and even won a number of short-film prizes.
Rather, Wapikoni seeks to give young people a project to complete, a skill to master and an outlet to express themselves.
For the first time this year, the program is being expanded across the country and will have visited more than 20 communities between British Columbia and Nova Scotia by year’s end, including the Ojibway First Nations of Fort William and Wikwemikong in northern Ontario.
Once the converted recreational vehicle that serves as Wapikoni’s mobile studio arrives in a remote community, the benefit can be as simple as a month of structured activity in a place where days are long and there is little for young people to do.
Other times, the Wapikoni mentors have arrived at a reserve in the throes of an addiction or suicide crisis as part of more structured intervention designed to save lives.
“We have cases with young participants who are at the lowest of the low in their lives,” Chica said.
“This really raises them up and at least gives them a little space for four to five weeks to come and express themselves, and forget about their struggles and gain the confidence to speak up, because sometimes they just keep it inside.”
Native Youth Under Attack for Indigenous Hunting, Receives Death Threats
It happened at the end of April, which for generations has been whaling season in the Siberian Yupik village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island on the northwest edge of Alaska. More than 30 crews from the community of 700 were trawling the sea for bowhead whales, cetaceans that can grow over 50 feet long, weigh over 50 tons and live more than 100 years. A few animals taken each year bring thousands of pounds of meat to the village, offsetting the impossibly high cost of imported store-bought food.
A hundred years ago — even 20 years ago, when Gambell was an isolated point on the map, protected part of the year by a wall of sea ice — catching the whale would have been a dream accomplishment for a teenage hunter, a sign of Chris’ passage into adulthood and a story that people would tell until he was old. But today, in a world shrunk by social media, where fragments of stories travel like light and there is no protection from anonymous outrage, his achievement has been eclipsed by an endless wave of online harassment. Six weeks after his epic hunt, his mood was dark. He’d quit going to school. His parents, his siblings, everybody worried about him.
Mixing Indigenous Knowledge with Western Nutrition
Our songs demonstrated the world around us in a holistic approach, a path of balance, with our connection to food in harmony with the land. Much has changed since this time. We find ourselves in new territory, navigating between both Yolŋu and Balanda (non-Indigenous) worlds.
Our people are dying too young from preventable diseases, but we have hope, and in Galiwin’ku we have found a way. We came together as a group of women two years ago after Biritjalawuy (a friend) experienced a health transformation with diet and exercise.
Sitting in circle and drawing from traditional knowledge, we talked about how our way had been confused and how to create a new way forward. We created our program, Hope For Health, based on thousands of years of Yolŋu guidance in our songs and dances. We’re using our traditional knowledge of what we know works with what is now available and accessible.
Speaking of Indigenous Food. Be on the look out for this food truck and others like it!
Native Team Make History at LaCrosse Womens World Cup
On July 14, the captain of the Haudenosaunee Nation women’s national lacrosse team sat in the concrete stands at the opening ceremony for the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Rathbones World Cup in Guildford, England. Next to her were her teammates, dressed fully in their purple and white uniforms waving the Haudenosaunee flag proudly. This moment, while also representing the beginning of the biggest international tournament for the women’s game, held an even greater significance to Hill-Donhauser, her teammates, and the Haudenosaunee people.
In 2015 the Haundenosaunee national team wouldn’t have even stepped foot on English soil. The Under-19 team was turned away from the World Games in Scotland when the United Kingdom did not recognize their collective passports.
The Haudenosaunee Nation is a sovereign society made up of Six Nations: The Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora, which are dispersed throughout New York State, Southern and Eastern Ontario and Quebec. 2015 was not the first time the Haudenosaunee people had been rejected for their passports either. In 2010, the men’s team withdrew from the FIL World Championship in Manchester, England when their passports were declined. The male players were given a choice to travel on American or Canadian passports, however the players declined.