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Oka Crisis 30 years later: The legacy of the warrior flag - CBC.ca
30 years after the standoff between Mohawks of Kanesatake, provincial police and later the army, Karoniaktajeh Louis Hall’s warrior flag remains a symbol of unity for Indigenous people..
In 2019, several large-scale flags were hung off the Honoré Mercier Bridge in Kahnawake, Que., to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Oka Crisis. (Submitted by Deidre Diome) Kahente Horn-Miller, an associate professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and the schools assistant vice-president of Indigenous initiatives, said the flag became an active part of Kanienkehá:ka communicating their identity. What Karoniaktajeh was trying to do is activate that sense of pride in who we are, she said. In 2010, she published "From Paintings to Power," an academic article about the flag, in the Journal of the Society for Socialist Studies. The flag is often misrepresented, she said. Negative connotations were placed on it because of how the Oka Crisis was covered in the media. In this famous photo, Danny Phillips, a resident of Kahnawake, winds up to punch a soldier during a fight that took place in Kahnawake on Sept.18, 1990. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press) Karoniaktajeh Louis Hall's painting based on Tom Hanson's photo of Danny Phillips. (Submitted by Louise Leclaire) The way we see it represented, its immediately associated with a violence, the English term 'warrior,' which has completely different connotations than what we describe our men and their role as, which is Rotiskenrakéhte, he carries the burden of peace, said Horn-Miller. The media at the time of the Oka Crisis created an image of the warrior to vilify our people and what we were doing, and that still continues. When we stand up for something, were vilified for it. Ellen Gabriel, an activist and artist from Kanesatake who is known for her involvement as spokesperson for the longhouse during the crisis, said she had mixed feelings about the flag for similar reasons. On one hand, I am proud because it is a symbol of the resistance of 1990," said Gabrie. "But my experience of it first-hand in the community wasnt so pleasant." Armed Mohawk Warriors patrol the perimeter of the Kanesatake reserve near Oka, Que., on August 8, 1990, a month into the standoff between Mohawks and police. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel prepares to speak to the media in the summer of 1990. She was chosen by the People of the Longhouse and her community of Kanehsatà:ke to be their spokesperson during the crisis. (The Canadian Press) When the barricades came down, she said, she faced harassment from people bearing the flag. The images that were predominant in the news, she said, created a romanticized image of warriors and the flags association with male machismo and ignored Kanienkehá:ka womens strong leadership role throughout the crisis. Its sexy — a cute guy wearing a mask … holding an AK-47. It looks so exotic in Canada, right? But when the SWAT team arrived at 5:15 in the morning on July 11, it was the women that went to the front, she said. There hasnt been an in-depth discussion in our communities about that machismo and how it hurt a lot of us afterwards.
Amachewespimawin: Understanding the Cree way of life - CBC.ca
Residential school survivors are running a land-based learning program for students in northern Saskatchewan.
"It's always good to go outside," says Peter Bird. "It's more bonding time." Bird is one of five teenage boys stuffed into a big van making its way down a winding road. It's March, and the Grade 9 students are heading towards a snowy forest, their classroom for the day. Every week they leave their high school in Stanley Mission, Sask., to spend half a day learning outdoors. The narrow, tree-covered road gives way to a partially cleared area with four buildings — two still under construction — and three tents. The sound of busy people radiates from the tents. Saws and planers are buzzing, shaping blocks of wood into sleds. Smoke rises up from a fire pit, snaking through thick canvas. You can hear laughter, too — more since Bird and the boys arrived. The teens have gulped their first breaths of fresh morning air and are ready. They stand at attention. "You have a few options," says one of the teachers, Isabelle Hardlotte, starting the meeting by laying out their choices for the day: snowshoeing to set up rabbit snares or making bannock in the kitchen. Student Peter Bird ties his snowshoes. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Hardlotte is the Cree culture language teacher and land-based co-ordinator for the Rhoda Hardlotte Memorial Keethanow High School, which is named after her late mother-in-law. Hardlotte uses humour in her lessons but sometimes is tough on the students. It's a tactic to help them learn. "At the beginning of the year, they were taught how to set rabbit snares, how to cut down trees, to feed rabbits, to attract them," Hardlotte says. "And it is very important because we do live in the bushes. The kids need these skills." Isabelle Hardlotte is the Cree culture teacher and land-based co-ordinator for Rhoda Hardlotte Memorial Keethanow High School. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Beyond providing basic life skills in the north, Hardlotte says the site connects them to the land and their language. "I was a product of the residential school syndrome, where if I spoke my language, I was beaten for it." "It is very important for the kids to connect to their culture," Hardlotte said. "The language and the culture are all intertwined. It is very important for the kids to learn their language and to learn their culture ... for a sense of belonging and their self-identity." WATCH | Learning traditional ways at the land-based site: Youth are able to go snowshoeing and engage in log-sawing out at the land-based site. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Amachewespimawin First Nation, commonly known as Stanley Mission, is a small northern town and reserve on the edge of the Churchill River. Stanley Mission is part of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, one of 49 First Nations across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba that are part of Treaty 6. Generations ago, birchbark canoes lined the banks of the Churchill River. They were the transportation method of choice for Indigenous travellers in northern Saskatchewan. Today, clusters of trucks and cars dot the parking lot in front of a big Co-op store perched near the rivers edge. It sells everything from winter boots to bug spray. Next door theres a Chesters Chicken restaurant. Further up the road theres a grocery store that opened earlier this year. A trip to the mall is a three-and-a-half-hour drive south to Prince Albert, which has movie theatres, drive-thru restaurants and all the trappings of modern life. Here in Stanley Mission, theres not much of that. There's an old church and an abundance of wildlife. Learning how to live off the land helps the younger generation understand how their ancestors survived — and how they might support themselves in the future. The Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Stanley Mission is the oldest in Saskatchewan. (Heidi Atter/CBC) For many people in Saskatchewan, when they think of Stanley Mission, a very old church comes to mind. Holy Trinity Anglican Church is known as the oldest church in Saskatchewan, which is true. It was built between 1854 and 1860. It has a heavy timber frame. Its stained glass windows, locks and hinges were imported from England and floated down to the site on the Churchill River (then known as the English River). What many people may not think of when they see it is the complicated history it represents. On Aug. 9, 1887, John Sinclair, a missionary in Stanley Mission, sent a letter to the federal government. In it, Sinclair asks the federal government to make a treaty with the First Nations people at Lac La Ronge, Montreal Lake and Pelican Narrows. He also writes about the scarcity of fur hunting in the area. It gives insight into the situation in this part of Saskatchewan in 1887. An 1887 letter written by missionary John Sinclair to the federal government. (Library and Archives Canada) For decades, the church was the heart of the townsite, but in the 1930s, people started moving to the other side of the river after the First Nations reserve was established there. For a time, the church fell into disrepair and sat empty with broken windows, and it looked like it might be consumed by the elements. It was designated a national historic site in 1970 and a provincial historic site in 1986. A family is photographed in Stanley Mission in August 1924. (Library and Archives Canada) The Amachewespimawin First Nation took over running its schools from the province in 1977. Soon after, teachers started using the outdoors as a classroom. Members of the school board pushed harder for cultural immersion following tragedy in 2016, when the area was rocked by multiple youth suicides. As a result, the Amachewespimawin First Nation received a one-time $300,000 grant from the Saskatchewan government for a land-based project. The grant paid to take a specific group of high-needs kids out into the bush each day for a few months, and it had positive results. In the following years, the school applied for further grants, and through the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund they received funding to continue and expand the project. The Trust Fund is meant to support education programs aimed at healing, reconciliation and knowledge-building for First Nation communities. The Trust Fund grant was originally given to the National Indian Brotherhood in a settlement for residential school survivors. In that spirit, the board hired residential school survivors, including Hardlotte. Isabelle Hardlotte pictured as a teenage girl. She is a residential school survivor. (Submitted by Isabelle Hardlotte) She said that when she was at school, she was punished for any acknowledgement of her culture. It had a lasting effect on her generation. "I was a product of the residential school syndrome, where if I spoke my language, I was beaten for it," she said. "A lot of the parents my age did not teach our children the language." Hardlotte said she and her husband decided not to teach their children Cree because of their own negative experiences. She said they thought it would be best to only teach them English. "Now, in hindsight … I wish I did not do that. I wish I taught my children my language." Three Grade 9 boys strap on snowshoes to set rabbit snares. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Although Isabelle Hardlotte regrets not teaching her own children Cree, she's remedying this now by teaching classes at the land-based education site that incorporate her mother tongue. Words like awas (get away) and atim (dog) fly through the air as she teaches the group of boys. A few lace up snowshoes, grab wire and wire cutters and head out to set rabbit snares. Others head to the kitchen — a modest building with a stove, counter, plastic tables and chairs. "You get to do a lot of stuff out here," Bird says, making bannock. On this particular day, he and another boy are busy plopping chunks of flour, baking powder, sugar, lard and water into a cast iron pan sizzling with boiling oil and fat. Susan McLeod keeps a watchful eye on the teens. Shes a cheerful, patient woman who works full-time at the land-based sites kitchen. "This is our language. This is our culture. And it is not intended to be taught in the classroom." Children prepare moose meat in the kitchen. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Once the bannock is cooked (and partly eaten), the snowshoers return with news that there were no rabbits on the schools nearby trapline. So, the group decides to step outside and practise their axe-throwing, with Hardlotte keeping a close eye. None of the axes stick to the target, but thats not really the point. Bird's throw chops a small section of bark off the tree but the blade doesnt stick. Teachers and teens are cheering and jeering to encourage him. For Bird, this is about being together. He says its important to learn in this way because it makes stressful things he faces outside of school seem more manageable. "It helps a lot of other stuff in life," he says. Students learn how to use many tools during their lessons. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Education was among the 94 calls to action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, including new legislation that would provide funding to develop culturally appropriate curricula. Its something Hardlotte supports. "This is our language. This is our culture. And it is not intended to be taught in the classroom," Hardlotte says. "Everything that I learned I learned out in the bush, from my grandparents and from my mom and my dad." Hardlotte says even rambunctious students in the classroom come out and are respectful at the site and eager to learn. "Someday, hopefully, these kids are going to grow up. They're going to have their own children. So now they have some knowledge that they can pass to their children so that a lot of knowledge is not lost and the culture is not lost." Sallie McLeod is the director of education for the Amachewespimawin First Nation. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Sallie McLeod, the director of education for the Amachewespimawin First Nation, says she isn't concerned about the students missing out on hours in the classroom. McLeod knows that math, science and English are important for academics in the future, but between Grades 4 to 9, other skills need to be taught, too. "We need to take our cultural language and take it back on the land. And that's how our land-base was born," McLeod says. "Retaining your culture and language is more important than the other core subjects." McLeod believes that helping kids learn about why they live where they do, and how they can do it well, helps with their mental health. "There's so much to enjoy. The nature and the language and the culture is all interconnected and we need to get back [to it] — if not for peace, at least for internal healing." Sylvia Mckenzie helps Kiersten McLeod put on her showshoes properly. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Beyond culture and language, Hardlotte says she hopes students learn how to be self-sufficient. After all, theyll be adults before too long. She says the land-based approach allows students to fail and then try again, with the support of teachers. "If you can plant a seed in these kids, to learn to be independent, to learn to do things on their own, then even if you've only planted one seed, then you have accomplished something," she says. Hardlotte and the land-based education team hope to build lodging at the site for overnight stays and larger trips that could qualify for educational credits. "This is important, because I live in Stanley Mission and this is how I have to learn the wild," says Kiersten McLeod. The Grade 4 student is a smiley, curious girl who has a passion for learning. Elder Peter Roberts teaches the Grade 4s how to make a sled from scratch. (Heidi Atter/CBC) The next day, McLeod is among a group of chattering Grade 4 students, clamouring down a path through the woods. Everyone is excited. Something special is happening today. The class is being taught how to properly treat a wolf carcass. The wolf was donated after a local hunter shot it, as was a section of moose meat. The kids are given a choice: watch the wolf-skinning demonstration or learn how to cut up and prepare moose meat. The Grade 4s wince, giggle and stare at the wolf bones as the skin is carefully peeled off. Some remark at the terrible smell as the tendons are exposed. In the kitchen, a smaller group quickly grabs knives and begins slicing the moose meat into tiny sections to be fried. The small group gets to use large hunting knives under the watchful eye of the teachers. After the moose meat has been cooked and eaten, the kids head to the tents where two elders are hard at work making sleds from scratch and rattles from fish skin. Elders Peter Roberts and Isaiah Roberts work out at the land-based site to teach the students traditional skills. (Heidi Atter/CBC) Elder Isaiah Roberts slowly planes down wood in his shop. He's been crafting handmade sleds for children. Elder Peter Roberts has been using burbot fish skin to make rattles with fish bones inside. Hardlotte says it's important to have the elders teach these skills. "One of the things that I explain to kids: go observe, go learn. It's a skill that's going to be lost," Hardlotte says. "And if you observe, some day you might try it, and you might be the only person that will have that skill. And it'll be your responsibility to pass on." It's something Noreen McKenzie is very aware of. Shes a shy student who is passionate about things she cares about. She said land-based education is fun, and that it feels good to be outside in nature. "That's how I want to grow up," she said. "And I want to teach my kids [about it], too." Grade 4 student Noreen Mckenzie learns how to prepare moose meat. (Heidi Atter/CBC) By the time the students need to head back to town, the smell of freshly cooked moose meat clings to their clothing. The teachers smile and crack jokes as they prepare for a lunch break before the next batch. The Grade 4s wave as they reluctantly walk back to the bus. Hardlotte stands and looks at the site with pride. She lights up when she talks about the program and its students. When looking at mental health issues and the high rate of suicides for Indigenous youth, Hardlotte says they don't know yet if the program will help. But theyre betting on it. "This is just the beginning of the program that we're starting and we've only been here since January," she says. "Give it a few years, when it's in full swing, and then we'll see what it brings." The place is peaceful, even when the students are present. Hardlotte says sometimes she and the students will stop so they can hear their own heartbeats. "It is so quiet. It's beautiful," Hardlotte says. "They really enjoy being out here." A Grade 4 student smiles for a snapshot during the wolf-skinning demonstration. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
Breaking their silence - CBC.ca
Two Canadian women have come forward to say they were raped by Peter Nygard. The Fifth Estate confirms key elements of their allegations. Nygard says their stories are “false.”
WARNING: This story contains graphic details. The doorbell rang one fall day in 1993, dropping a bomb on April Telek's seemingly storybook life in North Vancouver. A box of free clothes had arrived from a Canadian designer for the up-and-coming model and actor. The 20-year-old had recently represented Canada on the international pageant circuit, spent a year as a fashion model in Japan and had just filmed a commercial as the spokesmodel for Dairy Queen. Her career was on fire. April Telek had recently represented Canada at the Miss Asia Pacific Quest pageant in the Philippines when Telek says she was offered an opportunity to do some modelling for one of Peter Nygards new clothing lines in Winnipeg in 1993. (Miss Asia Pacific Quest) It wasn't uncommon for companies to send her clothing to wear. That wasn't the issue. It was where it came from. By 1993, Peter Nygard had made millions selling women's clothing around the world. The Winnipeg-based clothing manufacturer had factories in Asia, a multimillion-dollar marketing headquarters in Toronto and a 150,000-square-foot Mayan-styled estate in the Bahamas, surrounded by the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Telek had also recently been offered an opportunity by Nygard to do some modelling for one of his new clothing lines in Winnipeg. Thats when she said he held her against her will and raped her. That box of clothes, she believed, was a message: he knew where she lived. "I was so scared," Telek told The Fifth Estate in an emotional interview. She felt threatened by Nygard if she told anyone about the assaults. She battled nightmares, and the after-effects of the assaults she said she suffered, for decades. "I can't explain how deep he got inside my brain." But now, Telek said she feels compelled to stand up to Nygard, who has been accused by dozens of women of raping them. She is one of two Canadian women who said they were raped in Canada by Nygard and recently came forward to the CBC to raise their voices. They are the first Canadians to reveal their identities and talk publicly. Millionaire clothing manufacturer Peter Nygard is pictured at his Mayan-styled estate in the Bahamas in 2015. Through his spokespeople, he has 'vehemently' denied raping or assaulting anybody. (Jonathan Becker/Contour by Getty Images) The Canadian women say they are coming forward now to support young women from the Bahamas who were the first to speak out about allegations of rape by Nygard. Nine women from the Bahamas and one American filed a civil class-action lawsuit in New York against Nygard in February, saying they were raped or sexually assaulted. Their alleged assaults date as far back as 2003 and include an allegation as recent as 2015, involving a 14-year-old girl. An additional 47 women have now joined the lawsuit, including Telek. "When I found out that there was this case against him now and I heard that the victims were as young as they were, I felt an immense amount of guilt," she said. Had she come forward sooner, she wonders if that could have "stopped some of that from happening to other women and girls and children." Through his spokespeople, Nygard has repeatedly and "vehemently" denied raping or assauting anybody, including the two Canadian women who spoke to the CBC, calling their accounts false allegations paid for as part of a campaign to destroy him. "My clients rights are being trampled by a runaway media train," said Nygards lawyer, Jay Prober, in a statement to CBC. Nygards lawyers have also provided sworn statements from two people who say Telek's story cant be true. The allegations, which come at a time when wealthy and powerful men who abuse women are facing consequences like never before, also raise questions about whether Nygard should be investigated in Canada. Experts say some of the allegations would fall under the jurisdiction of Canadian law enforcement. That's because some of the alleged sexual assaults happened in Canada and others involve minors abroad. Most of all, however, Telek and the other women want the world to know their stories will challenge Nygard's narrative that the accounts of the assaults are all lies, part of a campaign paid for by a vengeful neighbour in the Bahamas. It's a defence Nygard has advanced repeatedly since the allegations first surfaced in February. An investigation by The Fifth Estate confirms key elements of their stories are backed up by witnesses, confidants, family members, and in one case an RCMP officer. All of it predates Nygard's dispute with the New York-based billionaire and former hedge fund owner, Louis Bacon. The women hope what they have to say now will help write the final chapter in Nygard's story, putting an end to the power and influence they say has allowed him to inflict more than four decades of pain and abuse on women. "It is a terrifying thing to go public with something like this with a man who is so seemingly powerful," said Telek. "But it has to be done. "I want him to pay for what he did to all of us."