LIRR Digest, Feb 5, 2015


Dear Friends,

It is not too early to think about how you might mark March 21 “The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”  Below, you will find all kinds of ‘grist for the mill’ and conversation starters.


This February, stand with First Nations children for the same chance to grow up safely at home and be healthy by celebrating Have a HeartDay! 

Write a letter to your MP and the Prime Minister, asking for the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan’s Principle is a child first principle named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. Jordan was a First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba.

Born with complex medical needs, Jordan spent more than two years unnecessarily in hospital while the Province of Manitoba and the Federal government argued over who should pay for his at home care.  Jordan died in hospital at the age of five years old, never having spent a day in a family home.

Payment disputes within and between Federal and Provincial governments over services for First Nations children are not uncommon. First Nations children are frequently left waiting for services they desperately need, or are denied services that are available to other children. This includes services in education, health, childcare, recreation, and culture and language. Jordan’s Principle calls on the government of first contact to pay for the services and seek reimbursement later so the child does not get tragically caught in the middle of government red tape.

It was unanimously passed in the House of Commons in 2007 but sadly the Canadian Pediatric Society reports that neither the Federal government nor Provinces/Territories have fully implemented Jordan’s Principle.  For more information, including a 4-minute video, see


Here is a quote from Wendell Berry.  Elaine Kellogg, with “Dancing the Circle” group in Bay of Quinte Conference wrote:I read it substituting “aboriginal people” for “black men” and thought how applicable his words are.

The Wound If the white man has inflicted the wound of racism upon black men, the cost has been that he would receive the mirror image of that wound into himself.As a member of the dominant race, he has felt little compulsion to acknowledge it or speak of it; the more painful it has grown the more deeply he has hidden it within himself. But the wound is there, and it is a profound disorder, as great a damage in his mind as it is in his society. This wound is in me, as complex and deep in my flesh as blood and nerves. I have borne it all my life, with varying degrees of consciousness, but always carefully, always with the most delicate consideration for the pain I would feel if I were somehow forced to acknowledge it.  But now I am increasingly aware of the opposite compulsion. I want to know, as fully and exactly as I can, what the wound is and how much I am suffering from it. And I want to be cured; I want to be free of the wound myself, and I do not want to pass it on to my children. Perhaps this is only wishful thinking;  perhaps such a thing is not to be done by one man, or in one generation. Surely a man would have to be almost dangerously proud to think himself capable of it. And so maybe I am really saying only that I feel an obligation to make the attempt, and that I know if I fail to make at least the attempt I forfeit any right to hope that the world will become better than it is now.

Wendell Berry Source:The Hidden Wound



Max FineDay (President of U of SK Students Union) says something is missing in the Maclean`s articles on racism. “Maclean’s has done a disservice to Native peoples, and all people of colour in Canada, when they turned racism into a competition between cities. After awarding Winnipeg a place as the “most racist city” in Canada, other cities were made complacent about the race issues in their communities.”  They are “wrong to deflect the focus from the underlying, systemic issues that are almost always the cause of bad outcomes for Native peoples everywhere in Canada.”

Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash said one way to eradicate institutionalized racism from federal policies is to ensure the country’s laws comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Saganash has put forward a private member’s bill to do that and it is scheduled to come up for its first debate on March 12.

Scott Gilmore writes : Don’t see the problem? Then perhaps you are part of it… You can build a better Canada or you can get out of the way.

A new study called `First Peoples, Second Class Treatment` says that racism in the health care system is `pervasive` and that discrimination is a major factor in aboriginal health disparities.  Metis Dr. Janet Smylie was the lead author of the study, released by the Wellesley Institute on Feb.3.  In the study, Smylie recommends several solutions for dealing with racism in the health-care system, including more aboriginal health-care workers  and “cultural safety” training for non-aboriginal health-care workers. She also recommends aboriginal-specific health treatment programs, such as the recently created `Sacred Space`room at St.Paul`s hospital in Vancouver.

An editorial that makes the same point as a major recommendation coming from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:the history of First Peoples in Canada, including the residential school system and its legacy,  need to be mandatory in school curriculums

500 YEARS IN 2 MINUTES – By Wab Kinew
Have you seen Wab Kinew’s video “500 Years in 2 minutes”  – begins with “What went wrong?…”  Ends with “Let’s talk…” It’s a real conversation spark, used with great success in a grade 6 classroom.  A good lead-in to the CBC 8th Fire Series hosted by Wab Kinew.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson wove traditional Anishinaabeg stories about trust, racism and confidence together with narratives of Western education in a thought-provoking reading at First Voices Week at Concordia.  She was reading from her recent book “Islands of Decolonial Love.  In responding to a question about her feelings toward reconciliation,  she pointed out that the “these commissions [i.e. TRC] do not talk enough about the relationship between land and bodies and that the conversation about missing and murdered Aboriginal women has to be at the forefront of these discussions.”


Native Youth Culture Camp March 27-29, 2015
First Nations youth ages 18-25 from across the Maritimes will have fun while learning First Nations culture and traditions. This includes learning how to set up a large teepee by doing it! You will be introduced to traditional character and team building games. They have funding for 20 youth so apply early.

Building Inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge – Unsettling the Settler June 11-12, 2015
Explore how the systemic effects of colonization that create and perpetuate poverty, racism and violence can be countered through the meaningful inclusion of Indigenous knowledge, values, language and community participation. Through the use of popular education strategies, community-based methods of decolonization are discussed. Discover how your life, work, services and projects can benefit from decolonization and honouring of Indigenous wisdom and practice, thereby supporting your role in “becoming an ally”. This is an opportunity to change our relationship with each other and with the land.

The Namgis First Nation is holding a ceremony to mark the demolition of St. Michael’s IRS at Alert Bay, BC.  Although the school was operated by the Anglican Church, many students who attended Alberni IRS also attended Alert Bay. The United Church will be represented on this occasion of “Celebrating the Passing of a Dark Historical Period by Igniting New Hope and Optimism Through Continued Healing and Potential for Reconciliation.”   For the details of the agenda for Tuesday evening Feb. 17, and Wednesday, Feb. 18  see

Some of you may have heard a CBC radio program with Dr. Richard Oster and research about the relationship between language retention, cultural continuity and lower diabetes rates in First Nations communities. Find out more here:

I just read a review of this novel, which made the reviewer cry.  Anyone up for adding it to their Book Club’s list?  Canadian writer Eden Robinson was born in Kitimaat, in Northern B.C., and is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations. Monkey Beach, which is also set in Kitimaat,  gives readers a glimpse into some of the cultural practices of the Haisla Nation through the main character,  a girl,  Lisamarie Hill, living in a post-colonial world.

In peace,
Cecile Fausak
Liaison Minister: Residential Schools
General Council Office: Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools
780-676-0562 (office cell)
780-675-7753 (Athabasca, AB home office)


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