Indigenous Education

Glenmary’s Weekly Acts of Reconciliation

Mrs. Davies Rhodes, the new FNMI Coordinator for Glenmary will be sharing Weekly Acts of Reconciliation.

This summer Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky from the University of Alberta published 150 Acts of Reconciliation for the last 150 Days of Canada’s 150.  150 Acts of Reconciliation

The activities range from very simple to thought-provoking to challenging.  I have chosen 40 of their actions as weekly Acts of Reconciliation that students and staff can consider at Glenmary School.The authors point out that “reconciliation is not about “feeling guilty”  it is about knowledge, action, and justice”.

Week 27 – Visit your local Friendship Centre

The Sagitawa Friendship Centre is a local organization that welcomes everyone. It is located just east of the Anglican church, across from Caribou Cresting.  Their Facebook page is

Sagitawa has been very active in a variety of capacities in the community for over 50 years.

Their mission Statement is:  “In partnership with community agencies and service providers, The Sagitawa Friendship Society will provide opportunities and programs that assist the people of the community to feel valued, supported, and capable of reaching their full potential.”They do this by supporting a variety of programs such as Charley’s Good Food Box,  HIV North,  the Aboriginal Interagency Committee and initiatives to end homelessness in our community.

They also operate the GroundLevel Youth Center which is an after school and weekend facility open to all youth in the community.

They have a gift/craft store which features the work of local artists and various Indigenous craftspeople from throughout the region.

Week 26 – Ask yourself if you believe some of the myths and stereotypes about Indigenous people

They don’t pay taxes. They get free schooling. They get free houses. They have always had the same rights as everyone else. Their situation is their own fault

One of the first things to address is the idea that “They” are one unified group. As we are learning, the term Indigenous encompasses many First Nations, the Metis people, and the Inuit.  There is not a single group of “They”  Now to address some of the other stereotypes:

I hope this information helps you to see these myths and others you may have heard in a different light.  I also hope that you can use this information in the future to correct others if you hear them spreading misinformation.

Week 25 Ever wonder why English and French are Canada’s only official languages when there are still at least 60 viable indigenous languages in this land?

The Northwest Territories recognizes 9 aboriginal languages as well as English and French.  Here is a page from the government website explaining their philosophy.  So, it can be done!
In Aboriginal cultures, the language is closely tied to other aspects of culture and the land, as shown by the numerous and very specific words for snow and ice in the Inuit language that have been posted on the bulletin board in the Junior High hallway during February.  Snow and ice scientists have said that the Inuit Elders have an incredibly complex understanding of snow and ice because they have lived with it all their lives.  This is reflected in their vocabulary.  but as these languages die out that knowledge is lost.  There are probably similar depths of knowledge about plants, animals, natural medicines and environmental conditions embedded in other Indigenous languages that are withering away.  This will be a great loss to those cultures, but also to the scientists who study these areas and to society as a whole (we have probably all heard that there is a “cure for cancer in plants in the Amazon” which may be going extinct) there may be similar valuable knowledge embedded in Indigenous languages.  Language is an important component of culture!

Week 24 – Learn local cultural protocol  

Learn Alberta’s Walking Together digital resource is very useful for this topic.   This site shows many teachings that are based on the medicine wheel. It was important to have symbols such as the medicine wheel because First Nations cultures used mainly oral stories, songs and traditions to pass knowledge from one generation to another.
When we honour our graduates with Eagle Feathers at the Powwow in June we first teach the students some of the basic protocol about dressing appropriately for the ceremony, handling their Eagle feather and showing respect for Elders.

I found this ebook from a consulting firm in BC with 23 tips on what not to say or do.  They are quite general but could save you from making mistakes and the companion ebook – 27 things to do

The most important thing is to show respect and ask if you are unsure. Most Elders are more than willing to share and provide teachings if you express an authentic curiosity and willingness to learn.

Week 23 – Counter racist or stereotypical comments with fact-based information.  

If we just smile and nod at racist, sexist, or any stereotypical comments or “jokes” we are complicit.  Difficult as it may be we need to call these out or nothing will change. One example of doing this is Jesse Lipscombe’s #makeitawkward campaign  started in Edmonton in 2016 to bring attention to inappropriate comments, turning the tables to make the person saying the racist comment feel uncomfortable.
The Gerald Stanley trial earlier this month in Saskatchewan revealed an undercurrent of racism throughout the Canadian Justice system and society in general.  These are deep-seated attitudes that have developed over centuries, so they will not be overcome easily or quickly.  This is why we need to counter racist comments when we hear them rather than letting them slide.

Week 22 – Learn about Indigenous athletes. 

With the Olympics opening in South Korea, this weekend let’s start there.

Rene Bourque from Lac La Biche is playing for the men’s hockey team, Kevin Koe is skipping the men’s curling team and Brigette Lacquette from Manitoba is on the women’s hockey team.

Here is a summary of Canada’s Indigenous Winter Olympians past and present
There are also many Indigenous athletes in professional sports.

Hockey – Carey Price, Theo Fleury, Jordan Tootoo, Sheldon Souray are some familiar Indigenous NHLers.  This season there were 5 Indigenous players on active NHL rosters at the beginning of the season.  They were; forwards Jordan Nolan (Buffalo Sabres), Micheal Ferland (Calgary Flames) and T.J. Oshie (Washington Capitals), defenseman Brandon Montour (Anaheim Ducks) and goaltender Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens).

Fred Sasakamoose, from Saskatchewan, was the first Indigenous player in the NHL, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954.  In December 2017 he received the Order of Canada for this accomplishment and dropped the puck at an Oilers – Blackhawk game.  This is the column that Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun wrote at that time.

The CFL also has some Indigenous players.  This article recounts how former CFL player John Williams visited our neighbors in Little Buffalo last October to inspire the students there.

Developing young Indigenous athletes through high-level competitions is also important.  The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are held every 3 years.  In July 2017 they were hosted in Toronto  Notice the hashtag #team88.  This refers to Call to Action 88 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was to: promote athlete development by supporting international competitions such as NAIG. Glenmary students Ashley Rafferty (U19 Volleyball ), Abbi Yellowknee and Brooke McDonald (both U16 Volleyball) and Darius Anderson (Badminton) competed at  NAIG in Toronto.  Both volleyball teams won gold      Looking farther back, here is a link to the Heritage Minute about Tom Longboat, a runner who has been called the Shaquille O’Neal of his time.   Tom Longboat

On another note, the medals for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 were designed by Corinne Hunt,  an Aboriginal artist.  Each medal was unique because she created one large artwork depicting an Orca whale and then cut the 615 Olympic medals out of it.  For the 399 Paralympic medals required she started with a piece depicting a raven (symbolic of physical challenges) and a totem pole

Week 21: Listen to Indigenous music

Northern Cree, a band from Saddle Lake Alberta, opened the 2017 Grammy Awards.

Here is their homepage.  scroll down for a choice of their recordings

Week 20:  Explore Canadian Indigenous Media.  

As with the actors, movies, TV etc, once I started looking there are a lot of indigenous media sources out there.  Here are just a few but they cover formats from monthly newspapers to quarterly magazines to TV, podcasts, and blogs.  I am sure that there would also be a lot of interesting indigenous people to follow on Twitter, Instagram or any social media platform.

  • The Aboriginal People’s Television Network was started in 1992 in the north and went national in 1999.  It is based in Winnipeg but has many Alberta connections
  • This is the site for Windspeaker, a national Aboriginal newspaper
  • SAY magazine Established in 2002, SAY publishes four regular issues, plus annual ‘Best Practices in Economic Development, Education Guide for Native Students and Back2School editions.
  • This is a weekly podcast discussing Indigenous issues hosted by Rick Harp,  You may remember Rick as the former morning host on CBC radio from  Edmonton
  • This is a blog by a Metis woman, from the Lac St Anne area   I referenced her site the week we talked about cultural appropriation with Indian headdresses.  Her recent post “Reconciliation – what can I do?” is quite interesting

Week 19: Initiate a conversation with a friend or colleague about an Indigenous issue in the news. 

There is a multitude of topics to choose from.  Such as:

Week 18.  Visit the website of a nearby Indigenous group.  

Here are a few local sites to get you started:

As you can see some are more up to date than others, but they are interesting nonetheless.  What do the websites tell us about the priorities of each nation or group?  Were there any surprises?  How do these sites compare to the Town of Peace River site?

This is a link from the Walking Together site to a map of all the First Nations in Alberta if you want to look up some other bands.

Week 17 Learn a greeting in a local indigenous language.  

Charlene Noskey, our division First Nation, Metis, and Inuit co-ordinator, also teaches Cree at St. Stevens in Valleyview.  She says that this week we should be wishing each other  ” Miyo Ochito Keysigaw” Pronounced -Mee yo Ochee too kee sig gaw-   for Happy New Year.

This link is for a Cree dictionary developed at the University of Alberta.  There are also iOS and Android versions

There are 3 choices of Cree – Woods Cree would be more common dialect used locally.  It is interesting to see the translation of various words and the Cree syllabic equivalents.

Week 16: Watch a movie or video featuring Indigenous Actors  

Two recent Hollywood movies featured Indigenous actors from Alberta.  The Revenant (also filmed in Alberta) featured Melaw Nakeh’ko and Wonder Woman included actor Eugene Brave Rock as “Chief” who even incorporated some Black foot dialogue into the movie

Adam Beach has starred in many major movies and he also posted the following response about why it is hurtful when nonindigenous people are cast in indigenous roles:
The US had Navajo code talkers during World War II – did you know that the Canadian military had Cree Code Talkers?  Here is a short documentary about one from our region:

Remember the summer they filmed “Hank Williams, First Nation” around Peace River? (  ) watch closely, you will likely see some of your friends and neighbors.

The Making of an Elder is a short documentary produced in Alberta.  It just recently became free to view on Youtube.  It is broken up into 6 segments – here is the link

The Gods Must be Crazy, a movie produced in South Africa in 1980, takes a humorous look at a traditional group’s first contacts with Europeans.

CAUTION:  May Contain Nuts is a sketch comedy series produced in Edmonton that airs on APTN.  Sheldon Elter ( a Glenmary alumnus) is one of the featured actors.  He also stars in another APTN series “Delmer and Marta”

Blackstone is another TV series produced in Edmonton    It tells stories from an Indigenous point of view and addresses issues such as racism, suicide, addictions, pollution, and politics.  It also aired on APTN  and later CBC.

If you want to binge-watch an older TV series with indigenous themes how about “North of 60′ filmed in Canada or Northern Exposure (about a big city New York doctor who moves to an Alaskan village and has to adjust to things that we would find commonplace such as a moose walking down main street).

And for something lighter, Corner Gas, produced for CTV has an Indigenous actor as one of the main characters.  There were a lot of Indigenous productions out there once I started looking.

Week 15.  Read a book by an Indigenous author or with Indigenous themes.

Check out the display that Mrs. Pardell has set up in our library or visit the public library or an online ebook, or audiobook site if that is your preferred way to consume books.  I even have a few books in my office.

Week 14. Learn your family history.  

Do you know where your ancestors came from? and when they arrived in Canada? in Alberta?There have been Aboriginal people in Northern Alberta for 12,000 years.That’s right – twelve thousand years.

This fireplace is at the Peace River Museum.  It is from Fort Fork on the Peace River which is where Sir Alexander Mackenzie spent the winter of  1792 – 93.  He was the first European to cross the continent north of Mexico.  That was 225 years ago but the Aboriginal people were here thousands of years before that. This map from the Walking Together resource shows the 4 nations that were established in Alberta in the mid-1700’s, before Mackenzie even arrived

How long has your family been in Alberta?

Week 13. Purchase an authentic item made by an Indigenous artist

Looking for a unique Christmas gift?  Check out the Hide and Seek Craft store at Sagitawa Friendship Center (across the street from the fire hall – just east of the Anglican church)The store has a variety of items ranging from paintings, moccasins, jewelry, birch baskets and more….It is open 9-4:30 Mon – Thurs and 9:30 – 4:30 on Fridays.

I also have 2018 calendars with photos from last year’s powwow available for $10.00.  All funds go towards the 2018 powwow in June.The photos are amazing and you may see some people that you recognize.

Week 12.  Which histories are celebrated in public spaces and which ones are ignored?

Canada’s complicated relationship with Louis Riel is an example of how difficult this can be.  Was he a hero or a traitor?

“Two statues of Riel are located in Winnipeg. One of the Winnipeg statues, the work of architect Étienne Gaboury and sculptor Marcien Lemay, depicts Riel as a naked and tortured figure. It was unveiled in 1970 and stood on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for 23 years. After much outcry (especially from the Métis community) that the statue was an undignified misrepresentation, the statue was removed and placed at the Collège Universitaire de Saint-Boniface. It was replaced in 1994 with a statue designed by Miguel Joyal depicting Riel as a dignified statesman. The unveiling ceremony was on 16 May 1996, in Winnipeg”   from the website: 

When Manitoba decided to create a long weekend in February (when Alberta has Family Day) they held a provincial naming contest and the winning name was “Louis Riel day”
Think about what is celebrated and recognized in the monuments, parks and street names in the Peace River region. What do our local historical sites commemorate?  The original inhabitants?   the settlers? or both?
The Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee currently has a subcommittee that is making plans to commemorate the fact that Treaty 8 was signed right here in Peace River on July 1st, 1899 (there were several locations but one was here).  We hope to have things in place to celebrate the 120th anniversary of this in 2019.

Week 11 –  Learn why the names and logos of some sports teams are perceived as racist and are offensive to many Indigenous people.

Here are a few examples:

You may have heard the recent controversy about the name of the Edmonton Eskimos.  Is this a racist name?  Is it offensive to some?  Should it be changed?

Natan Obed, the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, has stated that “Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term” and is a “relic of colonial power”.

Here is an article on this topic from four years ago – but it is still relevant today

The author discusses many aspects of the issue but concludes that sometimes we don’t change things just because the group “being offended” is small and doesn’t have a significant voice. Does this make it OK?

Sometimes it’s not necessarily the name that is offensive but the cheer (Atlanta Braves Tomahawk chop) or the logo – below is an example of an alternate logo that someone has designed for the Chicago Blackhawks – same colors, same team name but not stereotyping anyone. 
There are also spin off effects because youth sports teams often name themselves after their professional heroes passing on the stereotypes to the next generation.

On the other hand, many activists argue that First Nations people have far more important issues that they can focus their time and energy on such as clean drinking water, suitable housing, and high youth suicide rates.  What do you think?

Week 10 – Learn the difference between Aboriginal, Indigenous, First Nation, Metis, and Inuit

One of the reasons our board recently passed a motion to discontinue the use of the acronym “FNMI” is so that we are more conscious of the distinctions between these groups and do not just “lump them all together” since they are different cultural groups

Week 9 – Visit your local museum

A new display “Beyond Sashes and Fiddles” about the Metis people in Canada, opened on Saturday and runs until May 2018 For more information visit the museum website Peace River Museum  Admission fee is just $2.00 per person and children under 6 get in for free.
This would be a great way to prepare for the trivia questions when we celebrate Metis Week starting Nov 14!

Week 8 – Learn why headdresses ARE NOT appropriate to wear as Halloween costumes, at music festivals  – or anywhere outside of Indigenous ceremonies.

This blog post ( ) by Chelsea Vowel, a Metis woman from the Lac St Anne area of Alberta but now living in Montreal has a thoughtful discussion of appreciation vs appropriation of cultural symbols. Chelsea also has excellent posts on a variety of other contemporary indigenous issues in Canada and the world.

Week 7 –  Learn the original names of places and learn what places were and are important to Indigenous people.

What was the Cree name of the Peace River?  Why was it an important landmark?  Where did the names Sagitawa, Kinuso, Wapiti, Dunvegan come from?  What do those words mean? What landmarks in the area are important to indigenous people?

This would be a good time to take another look at the Learn Alberta Walking Together resource Walking Together

Week 6 – Visit an Indigenous writer or artist.

This week Metis author (of the novel Lightfinder) and artist, Aaron Paquette, will be visiting Peace River.  He will be speaking at a free event sponsored by the PR Municipal Library at Peace High on Wednesday.  The doors will open at 6:30.

Aaron has created many artworks in Edmonton, including murals at the Grandin LRT station in downtown Edmonton.  This project was a true Act of Reconciliation to represent both the Indigenous people of Alberta and the French settlers and missionaries.  Visit this link for more information on this project:  The Art of Reconciliation

Week 5: Did you know that Indigenous people were restricted from voting in federal elections until 1960? And they could not vote in Alberta provincial elections until 1965?

In spite of this many Indigenous people now stand for election – this year we have a First Nations candidate for the HFCRD board (Judy Ducharme) and longtime board member Dianne Arcand-Lavoie is Metis. Our NDP candidate in the last federal election, Cameron Alexis, was a First Nations Elder and we currently have a First Nations federal cabinet minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice.
This link has more information about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit voting rights in Canada in the past.  The section about Inuit voting rights really showed how little importance the general society gave to inclusion. Indigenous Suffrage

Week 4:  Ask yourself how to support indigenous families who have lost loved ones to violence.

RCMP statistics from 2014 showed that there were 1017 murdered and 164 missing Indigenous women in Canada between 1980 and 2012

Week 3: Find out if there was a residential school in your area.

There were many in Northern Alberta and St. Augustine right in the Peace River Area. The Walking Together resource has an interactive map of some in our region.  On the main screen (with the circle of stones) click on the word “map” in the upper right corner.  This takes you to an interactive map of Alberta with various choices along the left side.  I like to use the river background – it makes it easier to find Peace River.  Then use the residential school overlay – as you hover over each marker it displays dates etc for that institution.

Week 2: Consider the words that you use.

For example, do not call your group of friends a “tribe” or a meeting a “pow-wow”. Avoid phrases such as “Indian Giver”

Week 1: Learn the land acknowledgment for your region

We are on Treaty 8 land.