Aboriginals seeking fairness

Reporter: Katrina Owens

Idle No More organizers participated in a countrywide action on Oct. 7. This day marks the 250th anniversary of the British royal proclamation. That led to the founding of Canada.
Kyla Holmes, a Mohawk woman who recently graduated from Durham College, said Durham Region needs to improve the services offered to Aboriginal youth. “We’re really lacking cultural services for our people,” she said.
Holmes works with troubled Aboriginal youths in Durham Region.
In just the past six months her caseload has doubled and she’s noticing the government isn’t giving much support. “There’s a lot of work to be done and there’s a lot of people who need to step up.”
An Elder named Bahnii Kenny, also spoke. She has been all over Canada to provide guidance to others. At this event she said the lack of government support plays a role in their day-to-day lives. “I think a lot of us are afraid to speak up because we’re afraid the government will cut us off,” she said.
Bahnii saw first hand the effects of residential schools. Her grandmother attended one.
She received “English” education and, of course, learned the Catholic religion. She touched on the promise made by the Canadian government. She called it the three R’s. The government promised to teach the Aboriginal community reading, writing and arithmetic. “Instead they gave us religion, residential homes and reserves.”
After the two women were done speaking, students watched My Name is Kahentiiosta.
This short film focuses on a young Kahnawake Mohawk woman who was arrested and detained by the government following the Oka crisis in 1990.
The young woman whom the film is based on was wrongfully detained for an additional four days after other Mohawk woman were released following court hearings. This happened because Quebec prosecutors wanted an “English” name on court records. This woman would not give up her name because, in her eyes, it was the only thing she had left.
The Oka crisis stemmed from a land dispute between the town of Oka and the Mohawk community of Kanesatake. Oka city officials were planning to develop residential homes and expand a golf course onto land used by the Mohawk.
The Mohawk people were extremely upset because the land wanted by the town of Oka was a burial ground for their ancestors, starting the 78-day stand-off between the Canadian government and the Mohawk, which resulted in one death.
Unfortunately for the Mohawk, a land claim to protect their traditionally used land had been rejected in 1986 by the government.
Idle No More events have been occurring since late November 2012.
These events are helping Aboriginals stand up in solidarity with the Canadian government.

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