We are all connected to each other

Have you tuned in to a relatively new program on CBC Radio One hosted by Lisa Charleyboy?
It is called New Fire and it is an excellent program that is intended to bring you “to the surprising heart of the conversations important to Aboriginal youth.”
Catch it on Tuesday morning at 9:30 or Thursday evening at 7:30.
A recent New Fire program was a walking tour of University of British Columbia (UBC) with a former student Spencer Lindsay.
He is developing a multimedia application that is in its final stages of development that will bring the stories and history of the land upon which UBC stands to light, to the forefront of the awareness of those individuals who walk daily on the UBC campus or those who visit the beautiful grounds.
The application is entitled “Knowing The Land Beneath Our Feet.”
One of these historic landmarks is the replica of the original “Victory Through Honour” totem pole gifted to UBC in 1948, rebuilt/restored in 1993 to serve as a physical marker to represent the relationship between UBC and the Indigenous people whose land UBC stands on.
Another important landmark at UBC is The Longhouse opened in 1993, which is a centre for Indigenous students, a welcoming place when they find themselves far from home and from their traditions.
Another program interviewed Joshua Tordiff, a 21-year-old member of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation.
He shared a story of his younger brother, Evan, who was labeled as having a learning disability at age six.
Evan skipped school regularly but instead of playing and goofing off he sought out the Elders of his community to ask about and hear the stories of his ancestors.
He went on to receive one of the first Minister’s Cultural Circle Youth Award in NWT.
The energy of this CBC Radio program is uplifting, despite sometimes the difficult stories that are discussed.
The program gives a voice to a segment of our society that has often been silenced or certainly has had no platform from which to speak. It is a start, it is hopeful and positive; a beginning.
A distant grandmother of mine was of Northern Cree descent. She was born somewhere between 1775 and 1780 near the shores of Churchill River in the stone fortress of the Prince of Wales Fort on Hudson Bay, now known as Churchill, Manitoba.
In 1782, the French sailed into Hudson Bay, seized the fort and then burned it to the ground. No provisions remained for those displaced survivors so this child and her family left the burned out fort at Churchill and walked 150 miles to York Fort only to find it too had been destroyed and left in rubble.
During this long and difficult journey the child lost her voice, from either severe malnutrition or small pox that was raging in the area at that time or both.
Her mother renamed her Nahoway, “far off distant voice.”
A cousin of mine, Donna G. Sutherland spent years researching the facts and details of Nahoway’s story and published a book with the simple title of “Nahoway.”
It is a fascinating read and a history I take great pride in. I like to think my mother’s dark eyes come from Nahoway, her eyes and her determination and strong will.
My daughter taught for several years at a Community School in a First Nations Community near Whistler, B.C. Those teaching years were both her hardest and her most rewarding.
What she determined, and what most of us know, is that the way to healing the divide in our cultures is to celebrate and take pride in all that our Indigenous peoples are.
We are all connected to each other, each one of us, regardless of where we began our life, what heritage we celebrate as our roots.
wendistewart@live.ca

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