“One of the great acts of decolonization is to create. Make art. Tell stories,” said Jesse Wente in a keynote speech for Prime Time 2017 in February of this year.
Wente, an Ojibwa from Toronto, broadcaster, activist and Director of Film Programmes for TIFF, says Canada is at an interesting moment: the intersection of the country’s 150th birthday and the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created for the children who endured residential schools and the parents who suffered the loss of their child or children.
The TRC released their final report in 2016.
It took five years for the TRC to complete their work. They interviewed over 150,000 survivors from 139 schools across the country. All were invited to share their experiences while in a residential school.
Murray Sinclair, chair of the TRC and his team of commissioners, Chief Littlewood and Dr. Maria Wilson, compiled information from former students and their families, as well as any others.
According to the Suswaaning Endjijig, a home away from home for Aboriginal students and their friends to sit and study, there are upwards of 150 Indigenous students at DC.
Durham College is home to The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and DC is situated on the traditional territory of Scugog Island, so it’s only fitting there are stories written about Indigenous issues printed in The Chronicle.
The Chronicle would like to honour those stories, in our own attempt at reconciliation. Because, as Wente says, the best way to get to know someone is through stories.
“Of course, colonial states know that – that’s why they obscure and steal stories, and create new ones, to reinforce the colonial state,” according to Wente.
Many stories were lost through the Indian, Act, the reserve system, residential schools. But it is time new stories were written.
According to the TRC Report, “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.”
Here are a few stories from the 2016-2017 academic year, which attempt both reconsideration and reconciliation.
Barbara Howe writes a review of the book Close Encounters of the Native Kind written by Drew Hayden Taylor a member of Curve Lake First Nation. She gives a slight overview on the author’s perspective to alien life form in an Indigenous world.
In this opinion article, Angela Lavallee writes about the tragic events of First Nation kids dying by suicide on remote First Nation reserves. She examines the bigger issue the kids face and why this is a national tragedy.
Toby VanWeston goes to Scugog Island First Nation and reports about what the First Nations’ plans are for the coming years in terms of clean drinking water.
Laura Metcalfe writes an article on Maya Chacaby’s visit to Durham College where she talked about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Maya toured other colleges to raise awareness with MMIWG.
In this review, Angela Lavallee writes about the tragic story of Alberta Williams as told by CBC Investigative reporter Connie Walker in an eight-episode podcast.
Angela Lavallee travels to Toronto to capture the protest in support of Standing Rock, North Dakota. Thousands gathered Queen’s Park and marched to Nathan Phillips Square to bring awareness about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the potential hazard it may bring.
In Thomas King’s book The Inconvenient Indian, Laura Metcalfe says the reader gets a different perspective on history. This perspective is not in textbooks nor portrayed on television or movies. King’s book is just a glimpse into the lives First Nations have lived, the rights they fought for and punishments they endured in the name of justice.
Reporter Asim Pervez talks with Elder Shirley Williams who visits the Aboriginal Center on a monthly basis. Shirley is also a residential school survivor.
Angela Lavallee divulges a feature article on bringing back the Mississauga language and how the leaders of area First Nations plan on doing so.