The Language Revitalization Planning Program 2016-2017 is now open for applications

The First Peoples’ Cultural Council is pleased to announce that the Language Revitalization Planning Program (LRPP) is now accepting applications for the 2016-2017. The LRPP supports communities that share the same language to collaboratively develop strategic language plans. The LRPP provides funding to hire a part-time Language Planning Specialist and to conduct multiple inter-community meetings to support the development of a collaborative, multi-community language strategy. B.C. First Nations communities and organizations are eligible to submit proposals.

Application deadline: Friday, April 29, 2016 at 4 pm.

Program description

Application Form

Applications may be emailed to Aliana Parker  aliana@fpcc.ca or faxed to 250-652-5953.

For more information, please call 250-652-5952

 

Huu-ay-aht residential school students will present their art in “Going Home Star”

Some former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) students  will have their artwork on display in the lobby of the Royal Theatre in Victoria. They are also going to present their paintings before each “Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation”  ballet performance. Huu-ay-aht former Chief Councillor Jeff Cook, his wife Lavern, his brother Jack and wife Deborah are going to attend.

Performances: April 1st and 2nd, at 7:30 pm

Commissioned by Artistic Director André Lewis, the ballet explores the world of Annie, a young, urban First Nations woman adrift in a contemporary life of youthful excess. But when she meets Gordon, a long-haired trickster disguised as a homeless man, she’s propelled into a world she’s always sensed but never seen. Not only do they travel the streets of this place but also the roads of their ancestors, learning to accept the other’s burdens as the two walk through the past and toward the future. Together, both Annie and Gordon learn that without truth, there is no reconciliation.

Run time
Act 1 – 53 minutes
Intermission – 20 minutes
Act 2 – 40 minutes

Act 1

Going Home Star is the story of a young contemporary First Nations Woman named Annie. She is confident and self reliant living in an urban city; and, she finds some creative satisfaction working as a Hair Stylist for upwardly mobile, chic, urban women. At the end of a typical day, Annie joins the fast paced activity of the city and the carefree encounters that come with it. Her nights often end with a line of cocaine and a random lover. Work, commute, clubs and random lovers are the highlights of Annie’s existence. Her restlessness comes from this meaningless life style. Annie feels strangely disconnected within her superficial urban loop.

Gordon is a homeless First Nations man. He was born on the reserves, but was scooped from his home as a young boy and forced into the Residential School system. Ultimately, Gordon fled this life to live on the streets not as a victim but as a true survivor. Gordon remembers and understands the teachings of Anishinaabe trickster. It’s this magical power and the deeper story of his people that is present when Annie and Gordon first meet.

In the bowels of the subway commute, surrounded by urban people, Annie and Gordon’s initial attraction is more than just physical. Annie has the sensation that Gordon knows something deeper about her being. Although Gordon struggles with his conflicted past he recognizes the disconnected spirit in Annie. Gordon becomes that being that teaches Annie about her people, her past and ultimately, her story.

One night after her random lover departs Annie lays motionless on the floor dreaming of her day. Gordon appears in her dream. He approaches and kisses her on the forehead. Dreaming she is flying through time Annie sees a nomadic First Nations woman pulling a great weight though blowing snow. Upon waking Annie senses her dream was more like a vision and the strange connection she felt with Gordon is somehow connected with this faraway image.

Annie begins her busy day at the Hair Salon. She feels out of place after her dream. All the urban women want highlights and coffee. Mistakenly, Annie gives one patron her measuring cup full of hair bleach to drink. Luckily the patron spits it out; but, Annie is mortified.

Closing the hair salon and escaping toward the clubs Annie finds a wallet dropped on the subway floor. When the owner returns he aggressively retrieves his wallet. Annie becomes aware that all the urban commuters are looking at her suspiciously.

Gordon, the trickster, enters. The mysterious cloth that Gordon usually carries (which Annie thought he used for sleeping) is now spread out upon the floor. Resting on top is a Reliquary (Shrine) model of a Residential School. Gordon pulls the cloth and the Reliquary in a similar manner to the First Nations woman in Annie’s dream. For Annie, Gordon’s burden (the Reliquary) and the burden of the nomadic First Nation’s Mother are both strangely familiar.

The Reliquary is an exact replica of the Residential School from Gordon’s past; and, like the Greek Sisyphus, Gordon is somewhat banished with this burden. Gordon is a story-telling trickster and his life experience is at the heart of his teachings.

Afraid of Gordon’s mystical power, Annie runs back to her lover. She has another dream of flying and this time a dream of urban people walking all over her. Upon waking Annie realizes that her life, thus far, has been spinning on the spot. When Gordon is near she feels part of something greater than herself.

Annie and Gordon are now separated from the urban world. Gordon stands behind the Residential School Reliquary, waiting for Annie’s attention. When she looks his way Gordon lifts the Reliquary over his head. The weight, the burden, is too great and crushes him. Annie comes to his aid. Now having Annie’s attention, Gordon begins to tell his story of the Residential Schools.

Moving back through time, towards a Residential School in a birch wood forest, Gordon’s story begins with two First Nations children, Niska and Charlie. They were forced from their home to be educated by a Clergyman. Abusing the power entrusted to him, the Clergyman subjects the children to corporal punishment and his religious zeal.

Annie is heartbroken over the treatment of the children but Gordon knows she must venture deeper into the story; that to know only a few surface details makes it easier to dismiss the truth. Gordon leads Annie to a dilapidated wall of an abandoned school. She has passed this wall many times but never even considered its origins. They climb and sit upon the wall. Staring at the night sky Gordon continues his story.

Moving back through time Annie sees Niska and Charlie in the Residential School. They sneak around looking for food and mischief. They are excited to be out of bed and even more elated at their ability to avoid the Clergyman’s detection.

When Niska entered the School she managed to hide the tobacco pouch which her Mother placed around her neck for protection. Niska now retrieves the tobacco pouch from its hiding place for her and Charlie to enjoy. The smell of tobacco remind Niska and Charlie of home and the rituals practiced by their family. Although they cannot fully remember the details their desire to be with Mother and Father is too great. Homesick, Charlie lights a Votive candle for fire and Niska sprinkles tobacco in the flame. The kids recreate their parents’ prayer ritual.

The ever-watchful Clergyman discovers Niska and Charlie practicing their sacred ways. The Clergyman is bent on destroying their culture and assimilating these children into his way of life. His retribution against the children is severe.

Sitting upon the wall with Gordon, Annie learns of Charlie’s beating and of Niska’s hair shearing by the Clergyman. When she returns to her hair salon chair she understands that the antique chair may have a darker history. Searching through the hair on the floor Annie looks for the tobacco pouch. Gordon has inherited this artifact and he gives the tobacco pouch to Annie.

Continuing his story Gordon reveals the truth hidden in the cracks of the Residential School wall. Annie sees the loving moment when Niska’s Mother and Father gave her the tobacco pouch: the moment Niska’s parents said, “goodbye”. She then sees the moment that the Clergyman rapes Niska.

Annie is greatly distressed by this final story and Gordon moves to console her. Repulsed and angry Annie pushes Gordon away and exits.

Alone, Gordon remembers Charlie’s story. Charlie escaped the Residential School and the punishments of the Clergyman. He fled into the nearby woods looking for the railroad tracks that would lead him home. He also used the North Star, known by his people as “ the Going Home Star” to help navigate his course.

For Gordon the stars in the night sky are intuited as spirits or Star Children. In Gordon’s past these Star Children and his Mother and Father have acted as guides and helpers. Gordon’s hope is that they were there for Charlie on his frightening journey home.

Gordon holds the artifacts from the past and communes with Charlie’s plight. The Votive candle and matches were carried by Charlie for energy and strength. Charlie’s fate, his disappearance, is like the fate of many children from the Residential Schools. Gordon knows it could have been his fate as well.

Annie returns to console Gordon. Like the vision in Annie’s dream—the vision of the nomadic First Nations woman pulling the great weight—Annie now realizes she shares Gordon’s burden. Like the First Nations woman before her Annie picks up the burden of the past and begins her new destiny as healer for Gordon and potentially healer for her people. The “Going Home Star” is clear in the sky and Annie knows the direction of her future.

Act 2

Annie, having picked up the burden of the past, immerses herself fully in the healing of Gordon. Harnessing the ancestral power of the Sweat Lodge, Annie stokes the stone fire pit. The turtle shell mirror from her hair salon and the shallow vanity it represented is gone. In its place Annie has hung a large turtle shell. For Annie, the turtle shell has a deeper meaning. It is an inspiration to unite with her people’s Creation Story by building a new home for her and Gordon.

Mourning the loss of his own childhood Gordon’s every thought is with Niska and Charlie. He remembers the torture these young children endured and he knows there was more than just one abuser. Many Clergymen practiced corporal punishment and more. It was an approach to education unknown to his people. The abuses haunt Gordon’s thoughts. His body is present, but his mind is trapped with these children in the past.

Earlier Annie followed Gordon through the underworld to learn about the past. Now she follows Gordon to help him reconcile his own conflicted memories.

Gordon knows he has to “build his fire up” and Annie aids in this endeavor. In search of answers Gordon contemplates a time before the Residential Schools. He questions how European colonialism became a campaign of forced assimilation for his people. A comical image of Louis the 14th, Divine Louis, are imagined by Gordon. Gordon remembers the first contact with his people. He believes that Canada was not discovered by these Divine explorers, but was shown to them by his people. Their very survival depended it.

Gordon wants to laugh at these earlier explorers, but when he thinks of Niska being raped he only feels anger; and, his anger leaves him weak. He tries to remember a better time when Niska and Charlie were with their Mother and Father; but, the Clergyman’s abuses are difficult to forget.

Annie continues to make a home for Gordon and herself. Her hope is to commune with the Star Children without anger; to hold them in loving memory. Annie brings the turtle shell down as an idea of shelter for Gordon and herself; it is her way of unifying all the past lives under one beautiful idea, shelter…refuge.

The loss of Charlie, his disappearance, is too painful for Gordon. He cannot so easily forgive this mistake. Gordon holds the Votive candle and says a prayer for Charlie. Gordon’s hope is to find reconciliation. He imagines both sides joining in a prayer for Charlie. He also imagines both sides coming together in prayer for all the survivors and the damage that’s been done…for the child taken, for the parent left behind.

Annie crosses the stage with her playful animal being. Gordon is at a cross-roads: his ancient path of animal tracks lead one direction and the difficulties of his more recent path, the railroad tracks, lead another. Annie invokes a new symbol for Gordon’s dilemma. She also invokes the healing power of the medicine wheel. Entering with ribbons representing the medicine wheel’s four colours, Annie begins hanging these ribbons on the trees. Recognizing the sacred ways of his people Gordon and Annie begin making a shelter for their Sweat by placing the glowing stones underneath the turtle shell.

Annie has prepared one more healing action for Gordon. She leads Gordon to the pyre that she has built. Resting on top of the pyre is Gordon’s ever-present burden: the Residential School Reliquary. Annie instinctively desires another realm for Niska, Charlie and Gordon’s past; a realm where the children no longer live trapped in the Residential School. Annie envisions a world where Niska and Charlie run free and happy as Star Children. Annie hands the flame to Gordon.

Gordon feels deeply the damage that has been done and the anger he carries inside. Following Annie’s lead, her hope, Gordon knows what he must do next. Gordon sets the pyre on fire. His gesture is a willing surrender to never returning moments. For a brief period, Annie and Gordon commune with Niska, Charlie and their Elders.

Gordon is weakened but feeling held only by love. Annie builds back his strength by braiding his hair. The future that shines in Annie’s youthful spirit unites with the dark past haunting Gordon. Annie and Gordon validate each other’s truth. Their journey has been like a dream and in their hearts are the words from their people’s Morning Song: “Sun finally here. Beautiful day. Just got back from a long walk in the forest”.

 

With information from Deborah Cook and http://rwb.org/whats-on/show/going-home-star

Celebrate National Aboriginal Language Day

Since 1993, Indigenous peoples in Canada have celebrated March 31st to honour the strength and endurance of our languages and cultures. While National Aboriginal Languages Day is a single day to honour the legacy we have inherited, there are thousands of Indigenous Language Champions creating and delivering Indigenous languages programs and traditional teachings every day. We celebrate the work of our Indigenous Language and Culture Champions to revitalize and seek ways to sustain survival of our languages.

We acknowledge the difficult burden they have carried to reverse more than a century of attempts, primarily through residential schools, to erase our languages and identity. Twenty-seven years ago, the Indigenous peoples of Hawai’i had only 50 surviving fluent speakers. Today, their education system supports Language Nests and Immersion Programs. Their language and culture is taught in all grade levels, and into college and university programs – from early childhood education to PhD. They now have more than 10,000 fluent Hawaiian speakers. It is our legacy, as our Hawaiian and Maori brothers and sisters have done, to sustain the struggle to ensure that our communities have equality of opportunity to live and learn in our Mother Tongues – to have access to Language Nests, Immersion Programs, Language and Cultural Camps, and to offer Master-Apprentice Programs for our Teachers and those who want to become fluent speakers and Language Teachers.

From coast to coast to coast, we will take action with even greater determination to assert our languages, our identities, and to seek equitable recognition and support to that which is provided to the official languages in this country. Together, let us agree that all learners will have equality of opportunity to live and learn in our Mother Tongue. Join us in celebrating National Aboriginal Languages Day, every day!

Christopher Williams explains why he admires Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Derek Peters

Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Derek Peters is Christopher Williams’ uncle. Christopher has found a role model in him. In this digital story, he explains how Derek has supported and cheered him up (čumqstup) in difficult moments of his life.  This young Huu-ay-aht talks about how to overcome intergenerational effects of colonization and Residential Schools through praying and “Native Pride.”

 

First Nations Leaders Call for Safety, Equality, Respect to Mark International Women’s Day

(Ottawa, ON):  Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson and AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve, today marked International Women’s Day by Canadians to celebrate the success of Indigenous women in Canada, and honour them by ensuring their safety, education and equality.

“Today we celebrate the many essential contributions women make at the centre of our families and our communities,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “Our relationships with our mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters are sacred and they must be respected.  Today we celebrate the success of Indigenous women across Canada and we honour them by committing to their safety, education, employment and equality wherever they reside.”

 

Women

International Women’s Day is acknowledged annually March 8.  It celebrates social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.  This year’s international theme is focused on gender parity.

“First Nations women still have many challenges ahead of us in terms of equality and equity at all levels, whether it be among First Nation governments, provincial or federal,” said Okanese First Nation Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier who is the longest serving female Chief in Canada.  “Efforts must be made to promote, provide and support upper level management and political opportunities for First Nations women.”

“Indigenous women in Canada should have access to the same opportunity as every other Canadian – male or female,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve.  “The AFN women’s council supports and promotes Indigenous women in leadership roles in our communities and across the country.  We celebrate our sisters who are thriving in their homes and family units and in business and high level careers.  Every role must be respected and every woman and young girl must be supported to fulfil their dreams for success.”

International Women’s Day follows the second National Roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls which last month brought together Indigenous families, leaders and federal, provincial, territorial leaders to set priorities to address and prevent violence.

“Safety and security for Indigenous women and girls is an urgent priority that requires immediate attention and long-term, coordinated action that will address head-on the vulnerabilities that lead to violence,” said AFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson who leads efforts in the area of justice and addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.  “There is no quick fix or easy answer, but with the appropriate investments in shelters, day cares, education and housing (just to name some), we will be able to better achieve safety and better support success.”

For more information on work toward a national action plan to address and prevent violence against women and girls and the upcoming 2016 National Roundtable please visit:  http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Jenna Young Castro AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca