Truth & Reconciliation Commission proceedings – Live screening in Ottawa March 27-30, 2014

The final public hearing of testimonials from survivors of Canada’s residential schools is being held from this coming Thursday (March 27) through Sunday (March 30).

Live streaming of the Edmonton Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings will be offered at First United Church (347 Richmond Rd. in Ottawa) in the chapel. There will be a host to orient you to what is going on, and provide hot drinks.

Free for all who wish to come and be a caring witness. See schedule below for daily times (all in the afternoons and evenings).

We invite you to come and gather in community as long distance witnesses to the proceedings. Our witness is important. A full schedule of events can be viewed on the www.trc.ca website under events – livestreaming is available to everyone through that website.

  • Opening Ceremony: Thurs March 27th 12-2pm
  • Commissioners Sharing: Fri March 28th 3-5pm
  • Call to Gather: Fri March 28th 6-8pm
    (includes Honorary Witness Ceremony and Expressions of Reconciliation)
  • Commissioners Sharing: Sat, March 29th 11am-2pm & 3-5pm
  • Call to Gather: Sat March 29th 6-8pm
  • Expressions of reconciliation: Sun March 30th 11am-12noon
  • Commissioners Sharing: Sun March 30th 12-2pm, 3-5pm
  • Survivor Birthday Celebration: Sun March 30th 5-5:30pm
  • Closing Ceremony: Sun March 30th 6-8p.m

For more information, email: jhardman@rogers.com

IPSMO member Sylvia Smith receives Governor General’s Award for educational project on residential schools

IPSMO member Sylvia Smith receives Governor General’s Award for educational project on residential schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2011

OTTAWA – Sylvia Smith, for her work as coordinator of Project of Heart, will be presented with a Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching on Monday.

Sylvia Smith presenting Project of Heart at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Project of Heart is a hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, inter-institutional artistic endeavour that commemorates the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the Indian Residential School experience.

Participants have used the learning module to connect with a specific residential school history and the Indigenous people whose traditional territory the school was located on, and have shared the experience with an Aboriginal elder and/or residential school survivor. Follow-up research and social justice action is part of the process for each participant.

Smith founded Project of Heart in 2007 in collaboration with her students at Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternate High School Program in Ottawa, and over 50 schools, faith communities, and workplaces across Canada have since taken part.

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) member Pei-Ju Wang states, “We are very pleased to see this award recognizing the work that Sylvia and others with Project of Heart have done to help non-Aboriginal Canadians acknowledge, and take ownership and action for, the devastating policy of residential schools that continues to have lasting effects on Indigenous peoples here. Her contributions to our group’s work have similarly been about moving people towards achieving justice, understanding and healing in the relationship between the Canadian state and the First Peoples of this land.”

Warren McBride, a fellow teacher at Elizabeth Wyn Wood, observes, “One of the main attributes of Project of Heart is that it provides an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of the past to issues that are continuing today. Sylvia has been able to create an educational experience that has direct relevance to the news headlines of December 2011.”

Smith herself says, “Project of Heart is something that belongs to all who embrace it.  Indeed, it is the collective aspect of the Project that gives it its strength. I am honoured to be the name attached to it.”

Contact:
IPSMO: ipsmo@riseup.net

For more information:

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Tanya Tagaq at Women’s Worlds 2011: ‘Breaking Cycles’

Tanya Tagaq was invited to participate in the first plenary, entitled ‘Breaking Cycles’, of the international Women’s Worlds 2011 conference, Her inspiring and heartfelt words touched on the topics of how traditional Inuit ways of keeping healthy communities were repressed under colonialism, about strong role models, residential schools, imposed community relocations, healing and breaking the cycles of sexual abuse, and even publicly announcing her 12-weeks-in pregnancy – plus she brought the plenary to a close with some beautiful singing.

She was on the panel with Andrea Smith, Devaki Jain, and moderator Joanne St. Lewis. She was there in place of Monica Chuji Gualinga from Ecuador, who had difficulties with her travel visa and was unable to attend.

See the full video of the plenary: http://vimeo.com/25984077

This was one of four plenaries, and around 300 sessions overall, during the five-day international women’s congress which is Women’s Worlds, celebrating it’s 30-year history in 2011. It was held this year in Ottawa, Canada, and over 2,000 women from around the world attended. More: www.womensworlds.ca

July 9: Grassy Narrows Youth Leader Speaks Out

Chrissy Swain will speak and will be presenting a new documentary
Thursday, July 9
Umi Café at 6pm
610 Somerset St. W
ipsmo@riseup.net
https://ipsmo.wordpress.com

Chrissy Swain, a Grassy Narrows youth leader and mother will be speaking about the ongoing struggles for healing and land protection at Grassy Narrows. Chrissy will also present a new documentary about the history of the conflict there.

She is speaking out in order to draw attention to links between environmental destruction and the destruction of communities, to open dialogue about protecting and healing the earth, as well as healing communities and the relationships between them.

Since arriving in Southern Ontario last week, Chrissy Swain has already visited the Anishnabe protest camp at Dump Site 41 in Tiny Township, had a presence at the rally in solidarity with Six Nations against the formation of the Caledonia Militia in Cayuga, participated in the Peace Caravan to Akwesasne, and spoke on stage in front of over 1000 music fans at the Propaghandi concert on June 26 in Toronto.

Last year, Chrissy led a group of 22 youth from Grassy Narrows (and a few other First Nations communities), on the Protecting Our Mother Walk—over 1800 kilometres from Grassy Narrows to Toronto—which became a catalyst for the Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors and Sovereignty Sleepover last May at Queens Park, where the message was:

*Respect the right of First Nations to say no to economic exploitation and environmental destruction, no criminalisation of land protectors.*

* *

This year, Chrissy is planning another walk which is scheduled to leave from Grassy Narrows for Ottawa on August 24th.  This year’s walk will bring together representatives from communities across the province to deliver a united message to Ottawa that the rights of First Nations must be honoured and land protectors must not be criminalised.

Chrissy has been an integral leader in the Grassy Narrows resistance to logging on their territory, in the empowerment of youth, and the traditional resurgence of Anishnabe culture that is taking place in their community.

On December 2nd, 2002, the youth of the Grassy Narrows First Nation established a blockade on a logging road in their territory, and sparked what is now the longest standing and highest profile indigenous logging blockade in Canadian history. Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) is a small Anishnabe community about 80 kilometres north of Kenora in Northwest Ontario. *The Grassy Narrows community has been through many traumas including relocation, residential schools, mercury contamination, flooding of sacred grounds and burial sites, and clearcut logging of their traditional territory. However, resistance is strong at Grassy Narrows where people are actively resisting the continued destruction of their territories, re-occupying their lands, reviving their culture and fighting for the right to manage their land as they see fit. ***

This tour, for Chrissy is a spiritual journey inspired by dreams and recent incidents. Chrissy and Grassy Narrows organizer Judy Dasilva visited the site of the Macintosh Residential School near Kenora. There, behind the old school site, instead of a memorial, they found several large hydro towers right at the site of the graves of those children who died at the school, disrespecting their memory.  Following the visit, Chrissy had dreams telling her that this was to be a symbol of the connection between the destruction of Indigenous lands, and the destruction of their communities. She began planning a second Protecting Our Mother Earth Walk that had been tentatively scheduled to leave Grassy Narrows on June 15.

The recent and ongoing standoff at Akwesasne is a spiritual sign to her that the time for the journey is imminent. The events of Friday June 12 (when the OPP brutally raided a solidarity blockade in Tyendinaga, and also escalated the police crackdown on protests by women from the Beausoleil First Nation who are camped at Dump Site 41) were a signal to Chrissy to forgo the walk across Northern Ontario so that she could be here now, talking to people in both settler and Indigenous communities, trying to build solidarity and support for communities engaged in land protection struggles, and to work towards healing.

“The government does not understand that words are not good enough. Talking ‘green’ and making empty apologies that don’t actually deal with real issues is not good enough. We have to *protect* the land—protect our Mother Earth. I want to tell Harper that apologies are not good enough. Canada needs to give proper respect to the victims, families and survivors of the residential schools. We need Canada to recognize the damage those schools have done to our communities and cultures, and we need an end to the destruction of our lands, and an end to native people being criminalised when they stand up for their rights to protect their lands, their cultures, and their communities.”
-Chrissy Swain, June 2009

Upcoming Events:

  • London, July 4*.  Empowerment Infoshop, 636 Queens Ave, 6-9pm. pbd.
  • Hamilton, July 7*.  Sky Dragon Centre, 27 King William St, 6-9pm. pbd.
  • Ottawa, July 9*.  Umi Cafe, 610 Somerset St W, 6-9pm.
  • Brockville, July 10*. St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 37 Victoria Ave, 7-9pm.