An Invitation to our Pow-Wow family. Brampton’s first ever Indigenous Festival & Pow-Wow

More and more urban communities across Turtle Island are hosting traditional gatherings.  In the Greater Toronto Area, we’ve seen one-day gatherings spring up in Orangeville, Aurora and Pickering on top of the successful pow-wows put on by the Native Canadian Centre, Native Men’s Residence and Native Child & Family Services.

Now it’s Brampton’s turn.

The Oneida Circle is hosting the first annual Akweni Ki Indigenous Festival, on Saturday, September 24.  The festival includes their first ever traditional pow-wow and an evening gala featuring Anishinaabe recording artist Crystal Shawanda and Oji-Cree Miss Universe contestant Melinda Henderson.

This gathering is gaining a lot of momentum and excitement.  It is turning out to be the fall pow-wow that you just can’t miss.  I personally would like to invite all my pow-wow family…  all singers, dancers, hummers and limpers to add this to your calendar and plan on attending.

1st Annual Akweni Ki Traditional Pow-Wow

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Brampton Fairgrounds, 12942 Heart Lake Road, Caledon, ON

MC:  Bob Goulais
Arena Director:  Earl Oegema
Host Drum:  Black Bull Moose
Grand Entry:  Saturday, September 24 at 12 noon. 

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Love, Respect, Kindness are integral to eradicating Racism

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“We are all brothers and sisters in Creation.” – Bob Goulais

 

Opening Remarks to the first Public Meeting of the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate held in Toronto, Ontario on July 15, 2016.

I want to offer some words to start off this important gathering in a good way.

As indigenous people we look to the guidance from the Spirit World and from our great and kind Creator, G’zhemnidoo, to provide us with direction in times of difficulty.

When our lives are burdened and our spirits are hurt through our collective and respective experiences with racism.

That numbing and gnawing grief we feel when we see our brothers and sisters torn down as a result of that racism.

And this is a particularly difficult time for many of our brothers and sisters facing such adversity and who are working hard to get across the message that Black lives matter.

We need to support and reinforce the message of those who are experiencing the worst that racism, discrimination, hate and intolerance brings.  We need to support our brothers and sisters and stand by them during their time of need.

We also have to look to the teachings of humanity – those original instructions and sacred law that were given to us all at the time of Creation.

Our eldest ancestors were put on Mother Earth together, at the same time, and in a very real way as brothers and sisters. We can all trace our ancestors back to our Creation Story – back to our respective creation stories.

The very first thing that we’re told when we learn our Creation Story is that “all creation stories are true“. That meaning, we must respect and believe in each other’s creation mythology and origin stories. To Love and appreciate one another’s culture, history and Spiritual ways of life.

For the Anishinaabe, when humankind was first put on the Earth, we were lowered down in a gentle, kind way from the Spirit Realm. Our feet touched the Earth for the first time in a physical way.

We’re told that there were four original brothers, the Yellow, Red, Black and White. At that time, we were all given original instructions and sacred law from the Creator.

We were given two very important gifts that were not given to any other living being on the face of the Earth. Those gifts where the gift of intelligence – to be able to think and reason; and the gift of freewill, to make choices based on what is needed for ourselves and those around us.

Sometime later, in a time of great need, the Anishinaabe people were given seven sacred teachings to show us how we are to interact and relate to one another, and the world around us. These Seven Grandfather Teachings don’t solely belong to Anishinaabeg people. These teachings were given to all of humanity, for us as Anishinaabe to share, teach and reinforce to all God’s creatures.

Those seven teachings are the teachings of Love – to know Love is to know peace. Respect – to honour all of Creation is to know respect. Humility – to know that we are just a small part of Creation.

The teachings of Bravery, Honesty, Truth and Wisdom were given to us to to reinforce our instructions to be the best people we can be. To live a good life – a philosophy we call Mno Bimaadiziwin.

To live a life of hate, to live a life of hurt, to treat each other without that Love and Respect is painful to us all. It’s contradictory to our original instructions. It’s contradictory to Sacred Law.

How do we begin eradicate racism, discrimination, hate and intolerance?

It takes a lot for us to get out of our heads. We tend to want to overthink things, to analyze the issues and risk factors and come up with a good public policy response.

But when it comes to emotional and the spiritual, we have to get out of out heads and into our hearts.

We need to bring back ourselves to those original teachings that we are all brothers and sisters in Creation.

We are expected to Love, Respect and Honour each other. We need to offer each other kindness and gentleness.

That’s what I’m going to ask for during this prayer. That’s why I smudged this room with our sacred medicines prior to our meeting this evening. I asked the Spirit to provide us with a place where we can have a progressive, sensible and respectful dialogue. Where we need not succumb to anger or frustration.

Every one of us in this room, are advocates for change and believe in this a world without racism, discrimination, hate and intolerance.

We, in this room, are all going to be part of the solution.

And I’m a firm believer that Canada, and the vast majority of people that make up this beautiful multicultural mosaic, truly embody the Seven Grandfather teachings.


 

With much credit and Love to our teacher, Bawdwaywidun Binaise. Gchi-miigwetch, gchi-gimaa ni ge’kinoomaaged.

Premier Wynne issues apology over residential schools

A recording of the historic apology this morning in the Ontario Legislature.

Please Mr. Trudeau, I want some more

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Let me get this straight!?!

The Trudeau government commits $8.4 billion in the federal budget towards indigenous communities, infrastructure and social programs.

They’ve restored the full Kelowna Accord fiscal commitment of $5 billion plus over $3 billion dollars more!!  The Kelowna Accord was brokered by First Nations leadership themselves.

That’s somewhere north of 21 times of any commitment made by the previous Harper government.

Is Kelowna your benchmark?  Or is Stephen Harper your benchmark?  Take your pick.

Even if you factor in the criticism that much of these commitments will be pushed out beyond the next election, that’s still way more funding ever allocated in the federal budget in the history of Canada.

Yet, for some of our leaders, it’s still not enough.  Some have even criticized Justin Trudeau over it.

Dependant anyone???

Surely, there must be some way that First Nations leaders can work with this puny morsel of funding?  Maybe we can’t all give Prime Minister Trudeau a headdress, but maybe, just maybe, he earned one this week.

How about a pat on the back? A handshake of thanks?  Any semblance of appreciation for going above and beyond any other Prime Minister has ever gone towards helping and working with our communities?

No way.  That’s not our style.

“Please, Sir.  I want some more.”

Why The Revenant is not so endearing to Indigenous people

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Grace Dove in The Revenant.

I’m sorry, readers and movie goers. I really don’t like to rain on anyone’s parade. But The Revenant is just not very endearing to indigenous peoples.

Like many indigenous people, I was so excited to go see The Revenant. Recently, my wife and I had a chance to spend some time with Duane Howard, the hard working Nuu-chah-nulth actor and stuntman who stars in the Oscar-winning film. He spoke about his experiences acting in the movie, and his interactions with mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio befriended a few First Nations people during it’s filming.

DiCaprio’s shout-out during the Golden Globes was heart-felt and honourable. He said: “I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the indigenous communities around the world. It is time that we recognized your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations.”

Finally, we found ourselves an outspoken hero in Hollywood! Someone who can replace the voice and noble action of the Late Marlon Brando, another superstar who was a friend to First Nations people.

The Revenant stars a whole bunch of indigenous actors, including Melaw Nakehk’o, Grace Dove, Isaiah Tootoosis and Forrest Goodluck.  In a year where the Academy Awards was being criticized for it’s lack of inclusion, an indigenous cast like this one was to my liking.

Not to mention, Leo is one of my favourite actors, playing the lead in my favourite movie of all time, Titanic. Needless to say, I had a lot of great expectations and was so excited to see this movie.

The Revenant is beautifully shot. It had incredible acting. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Best Actor Oscar was well earned. As was Tom Hardy’s Oscar nomination. It is a gripping, yet dark story.

But did The Revenant showcase indigenous people and accurately portray our culture? Did it make me proud to be Anishinaabe? I’m afraid not.

The first thing it did was showcase the stereotypical period violence doled out by indigenous people. It showed how eager our people were to wage war against non-native interlopers. There were plenty of arrows, brutal beatings and even some scalping. All in the first ten minutes of the film.

Leo’s character, Hugh Glass, is portrayed as a tortured and weathered guide who brings along his half-Pawnee son on the doomed fur trade adventure. The son, played by Forrest Goodluck, had the best potential for a good role in the film. That is until he is killed in the first third of the movie. But not before Leo’s character slaps the boy around making sure he knows where his place is among the filth around him.

Hugh and his son do speak Pawnee in the film. But not enough for the audience to embrace and appreciate any actual indigenous culture.

I was anxiously awaiting to see the part of Elk Dog, portrayed by Duane Howard. Surely, he would redeem the slow start of this indigenous anthology I was expecting.

Elk Dog is the leader of the band of warriors. Occasionally, he rides up on horseback overseeing the plundering and violence. But I can’t recall if he had any worthwhile dialogue. Apparently, the motivation for his vengeance is the kidnapping of his daughter by another group of fur traders. Alas, these Indians are on the warpath, just like other Indians in many a historical western. There is nothing really for First Nations people to latch onto or be proud of from Elk Dog and his men.

Ironically, my second favourite movie of all time is Dances With Wolves. Costner’s story is also guilty of furthering violent stereotypes. Sure, it’s ripe with the noble, white saviour theme. But it also shows, quite eloquently, the beauty and compassion of Lakota family and culture.

Such is not the case with The Revenant. In fact, there is nothing appreciably redeeming about the motivation of these characters nor their story. This movie is about vengeance and violence, plain and simple.

Between The Revenant, and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, there are 5 hours and 43 minutes of spilling blood and guts. But at least Quentin chose not to portray the spilling of any First Nations blood in his movie.

How to keep your Poppy from falling off (& Beaded Poppy Advice)

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Offering my support to Drake Morin

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My son Griffin Assance-Goulais and his Bulldogs teammate Drake Morin.

From: Bob Goulais <info@bobgoulais.com>
Date: Monday, October 5, 2015 at 5:19 PM
To: OFSAA Executive Council
Cc: OFSAA Football Advisor; OFSAA Transfer Advisor

Subject: Appeal of Mr. Drake Morin, North Bay, ON

Dear OFSAA Executive Council:

I am writing to express my support to Drake Morin, a Grade 11 student of St. Joseph-Scollard Hall in North Bay, Ontario.  He and his family are appealing a ruling that makes him ineligible to play senior football in the Nipissing District Association (NDA) this school year.

Having been raised in a small First Nation community in northern Ontario, I know and appreciate the challenges faced by students in the north and in rural areas.  There isn’t always the same opportunities and programs afforded students in more prosperous areas of Ontario.  Our students are faced with difficult choices and sacrifices.  Sadly, this often limits their potential.

In this case, Drake has made a choice to change schools that meets his academic need while also allowing him to pursue opportunities in school sports, to become a better football player and student athlete.  His former school, Chippewa Secondary School, did not offer a comparable academic program nor did it have a senior football program.

This rule, that prevents students from playing following a school transfer, may be appropriate in larger centres where nearly every school has diverse academic and athletic programs.  Such transfers may very well create issues of competitiveness.  But in northern and rural Ontario, such a rule is unfair and punitive given that there are really few, if any, alternative choices for a student to pursue their goals academically and athletically.

Further, this issue has created a growing movement across our region, as parents and the general public are showing enthusiastic support for such a dedicated student athlete.  Drake Morin is an knowledgable volunteer coach and mentor to many in our local youth football program.  Over the years, my sons Griffin and Miigwans have learned much from their camaraderie as teammates with Drake.  In my estimation, Drake exemplifies the kind of student athlete that OFSAA was established to develop and support.

I offer my support and encourage OFSAA executive council members to allow the appeal for Drake to play senior football this season.  Further, I recommend that this rule be evaluated to take into account circumstances such as these that may unfairly exclude students from First Nations, rural and northern Ontario.

Sincerely,

Bob Goulais
170 Gerald Crescent
Nipissing First Nation
Garden Village, Ontario P2B3J8

Cell: (416) 770-8567
E-mail: info@bobgoulais.com 

Nipissing First Nation: Want to actively help get rid of Stephen Harper? Here’s how.

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Stephen Harper and Patrick Brazeau.

My dear Nbisiing Anishinaabeg:

Please take a few minutes to consider this call to action.  It’s such an important time where we all need to do our part, to work together, to get rid of Stephen Harper and his insensitive, reckless and irresponsible government that has absolutely no care or concern for Anishinaabe families.

Several prominent community members and myself have been working to help our good friend Anthony Rota to take back the Nipissing-Timiskaming riding from Harper back-bencher Jay Aspin.

Harper, Aspin and the Conservative government have refused to work with First Nation on a nation-to-nation basis, choosing unilateral and arbitrary means to further their agenda.  An agenda that has seen them kill the $5 billion Kelowna Accord, a blind refusal to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, stripping environmental laws meant to protect fresh water, and cutting millions of dollars from First Nations organizations across the country.

Here’s what we need to know about the October 19, 2015 federal election:

  1. We need to take action. Stephen Harper has to go. So we must all do our part to help make that happen. What can you do?
  2. We need to vote strategically. In our riding, the last election was decided by only 18 votes. If we are to use “strategic voting” we can take a seat away from the Harper government. In our riding, strategic voting means that we all need to vote Liberal. In our riding, if you vote NDP or Green, you are helping re-elect the Conservatives.  See http://www.strategicvoting.ca/districts.html.
  3. We need to help our friends. As a community, we should support our friend and our biggest supporter. No MP or local candidate has been a better friend, supporter and stuck with us through thick and thin than Anthony Rota. He’s really been there for our First Nation as an MP and a community leader. Even during the past four, hard years, Anthony’s been here and we can count on him. Anybody remember Rona Eckhert, Dave Fluri, Dianna Allen, Art Campbell, Wendy Young or Dawson Pratt??? Me neither. But Anthony will be here for our community, doing what he does best, regardless of the election result.

Do you want to know what you can do to help get rid of Stephen Harper?  Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time with the Anthony Rota campaign.

We need some Nbisiing Anishinaabeg to help out with the following:

  • Making phone calls to potential supporters.
  • Canvassing our community door-to-door.
  • Delivering lawn signs to homes in our community.
  • Acting as election day volunteers.
  • Being a scrutineer or poll agent on behalf of the campaign.

No experience is necessary. It does help if you have a car or a ride to the Campaign office in North Bay.  You’ll receive a little bit of training then you’ll be set to work with a lot of good, friendly and like-minded people.

If you can help out, please call Bob Goulais at (705) 805-9242 or e-mail me: info@bobgoulais.com.

Miigwetch. Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

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Bob Goulais, Tory Fisher, Trish Cowie, Anthony Rota, Marianna Couchie, Chief Scott McLeod, Robin McLeod

 

Gill nets, check. Time to turn our attention to combatting a more pressing issue: Racism..

racismNow that a solution to the Lake Nipissing fishery is in motion, it’s time to turn our collective efforts towards addressing the other, more significant issue that came about during the Lake Nipissing fisheries crisis.

On a regular basis, First Nation people in Nipissing First Nation have faced blatant, hard-hitting criticism and racism arising from the fisheries debate. Racism has manifest itself by becoming socially acceptable in everyday dialogue and among users of social media.

The health of Lake Nipissing is a serious issue and addressing the fishery needs to happen. But this issue pales in comparison to the issue of racism, discrimination and hatred. This has far greater negative impact on our society and on our people.

Racism in any of its forms is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with. There is an urgent need for a focussed anti-racism initiative in North Bay to address the fall-out from the fisheries issue and bridge the gap between the Anishinaabe community and our neighbours.

We need to build on the good work that has already taken place and address this heinous monster that has reared it’s ugly head.

Don Curry, Executive Director of the North Bay Multi-Cultural Centre and Maurice Switzer, a renowned Mississauga public educator, have done a commendable job in exploring the topic a few years back. I was proud to be a part of the important work that was done to analyze the issue of racism targeting Anishinaabe people. However, specific and comprehensive follow-up to their study has not taken place, mainly due to funding constraints.

I feel that a new, and focussed anti-racism initiative should encompass Treaty education, Canadian-Aboriginal history, a cultural exchange and focussed and wide-spread Anishinaabe awareness training. It should be integrated in the schools, as well as with businesses and community organizations. It should focus on healing and fostering understanding between our communities. It should also involve feasting and celebrating – and the best parts of Anishinaabe culture.

The youth and Elders should be a part of such an initiative. The initiative should be based in the culture and values of our people – so that we may share the beauty or our ways of life to all people in our area.

We aren’t just spears and gill nets. We don’t let our fish rot and we don’t waste fish. We are a kind, generous and hospitable people, wanting to share with our neighbours.

We have a lot to share, including the realities and facts about Aboriginal law and our perspectives on our rights.

Aboriginal and Treaty rights are as inalienable as the right to free speech, the right to religion and the right to liberty and freedom. They’re rights that come from the Creator and are very sacred to us.

But on a regular basis during this fisheries crisis, we’ve seen finger pointing. We’ve seen people calling for the arbitrary elimination of our rights. We’ve seen our neighbours generalize about our people using contemporary stereotypes and highly racialized commentary.

The sad reality is that many of these people don’t understand or don’t care that Aboriginal and Treaty rights are legal rights. They are a part of Canadian law, defended in the Supreme Court and protected by the Constitution.

The subject of eliminating the legal rights of another, by arbitrary act of an oppressor, is not and should not be acceptable commentary.

I’m very concerned that such commentary and unchecked racism is becoming wider spread, socially acceptable and is reinforcing intolerant attitudes in the community.

If you hear something, no matter how heinous, over and over again, it starts to seem okay. It seems acceptable to use disparaging comments on a public Facebook page, or in the online comments section. Everyone else is doing it, so others feel they can vent their vitriol, ignorance and hostility of First Nations. I find this unacceptable, offensive and hurtful. It is wrong.

Anishinaabe children hear that they are the cause of “a slaughter” on the Lake. They open Facebook and read that they are “raping” the Lake.

These are words from the very people organizing on social media. These are also the people on stage, at the front of the crowd, inciting action from dozens of angry residents. If this were the south, fifty years ago, they would conclude their rally by marching into Duchesnay Village looking for someone to make a example of.

All Canadians and all local residents, need to stand up and say something about such racist commentary and attitudes. People shouldn’t sit idly by and be complacent when seeing and reading this kind of racism.

We need to learn from history.

For a generation, people on the outskirts of Brantford watched, day-after-day, First Nations children marched into the Mush Hole (a residential school) and didn’t say anything.

During the war, people in eastern Europe seen trainloads of Jewish people, being shipped off in railway cars bound for extermination camp, and didn’t do anything.

Today, thousands of social media users, right here in our area, see and read these comments, week after week. And didn’t say anything about it.

It’s not right. It can’t be right. But it’s happening right here, right now, in our area, by our neighbours. We all have to do something about it.

I wish to say a heartfelt ‘chi-miigwetch’ (big thank) to those social media users and good neighbours who stand up for what is right and say something about racism. There are still a lot of good people out there.

When it comes to the fisheries issues, we are all on the same side. We want to find out who is responsible for these offenses and bring them to justice. We want to see our Lake flourish and see the walleye restored to abundance and health. There are many of us are happy to see our First Nation ban gill nets and see the commercial fishery curbed. But none of this should come at the expense of our rights or the dignity of Nbisiing Anishinaabeg people.

The North Bay Comedy Festival, August 12-15. Be there or be… somewhere else.

northbaycomedy3I want to give a big shout out to support my friends Clint Couchie and Ryan McMahon.  These guys are putting the mainstream into Aboriginal comedy.

No longer does Nish humour have to be niche humour.

Today, these young indigenous comics are entertaining diverse audiences from Winnipeg to Montreal… and all locales in between, including North Bay.

Slynish Productions is organizing North Bay’s first Comedy Festival taking place August 12-15, 2015.  The headliner will be Winnipeg’s very own Ryan McMahon who will be at Moose’s Cook House in North Bay on the evening of August 12.  Clint Couchie will also be performing as well as fellow comics Gavan Stephens, Phil Luzi, Sandra Battaglini and Gilson Lubin.

All local comedy fans, please support the North Bay Comedy Festival.

If you are planning to visit the North Bay area, check out some good gut-bustin’ comedy.  The wings are pretty good too!

 

 

 

For tickets and for more information visit: http://slynish.wix.com/northbaycomedyfest

Be there or be… somewhere else.  Ayyyy!  Just kidding!!  Dew!!!  Baw!!!!

 

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Clint Couchie