Ellen Gabriel: Twenty-four years ago, Indian country exploded with unrest that has shaped Native politics in Canada in a way no other event has since the 1960s. The spark was the quiet town of Oka, Quebec’s attempt to expand a nine-hole golf course in 1990 atop a Mohawk burial ground and into the pine forest that’s sacred to the community of Kanehsatake. Their outrage ignored by authorities, women from the community set up a small blockade on the road. But when the provincial police force and even Canadian army was deployed, the blockade transformed into a months-long armed standoff that saw Native warriors from all corners of Turtle Island to draw a line in the sand, flooding into Mohawk territories, blocking major bridges along the U.S. border, setting police cars ablaze, and seeing railway blockades across the land in solidarity. Women remained the decision-makers behind the blockade, and one 26-year-old became the face and voice of Kanehsatake for Canada. Ellen Gabriel, whose traditional name is Katsitsakwas, was chosen by her community at the time to represent the blockade. In the decades since the so-called “Oka Crisis,” Gabriel has continued her fight for her people. She became the president of Quebec Native Women, and went on to protect her language and culture through Kanehsatà:ke Language and Cultural Center, where she works to this day. Gabriel received the International Women’s Day Award from the Québec Bar Association in 2008 and has also received the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Golden Eagle Award, and a Jigonsaseh Women of Peace Award, for her ongoing advocacy work.
Michele Audette: Gabriel’s successor at Quebec Native Women, Michele Audette, has since gone on to become the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). NWAC has carried the battle cry for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women for decades. Until 2010, when the federal government slashed its funding, NWAC maintained a growing database of missing and murdered women that held the government’s feet to the fire and raised public awareness of a historic crisis that affects almost every community. As an advocate for aboriginal women across the country, the mother of five hails from an Innu community in northern Quebec and fought against sexist laws in Canada’s Indian Act that arbitrarily stripped many Native women of their Indian Status based on who they married. Women successfully fought to have those laws changed in the 1980s. “My heart beats, of course, to denounce the violence in our communities, and across Canada, for Aboriginal women,” she told Windspeaker after beginning her work at NWAC. “[I’m] always passionate for Aboriginal women’s issues. I think it’s going to be until my last breath. I’ll be fighting, working and doing stuff for my family and for aboriginal people.”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Since capturing the attention of a generation with hit songs like “Up Where We Belong” and “Universal Soldier,” Buffy Sainte-Marie keeps not only packing her rock music with lyrics both politically challenging, romantic and beautiful, but also continuing to pioneer her distinctive digital artwork, and supporting education efforts about and for indigenous people. Born in Piapot Cree First Nation, in Saskatchewan, the 73-year-old Cree artist now resides in Hawaii, but continues to tour aggressively and show her conceptual artwork—what she terms “digital beadwork”—across the continent, and promoting her Cradleboard Teaching Project, a program to convey accurate information about Native peoples through educational systems.
Bridget Tolley: Hailing from Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec, Bridget Tolley has carried the torch of missing and murdered women for more than a decade. Long before she co-founded Families of Sisters in Spirit, a national advocacy group on the issue, the Algonquin grandmother of five was galvanized to fight for justice and change after her mother was killed by a police car. It turned out that the policeman investigating the death was the brother of the officer responsible for it, Rabble.ca reported at the time. Her passion for social change has seen her speaking at massive rallies on Parliament Hill, in government committee hearings and frequently in the media. But she believes that today’s indigenous women are still at the frontlines in a struggle that goes right back to the foundation of the country. “Aboriginal women and families have been on the frontline all along trying to expose violence against indigenous women and its deep-seated roots, as well as to bring about change,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network in 2012. “It has been more than 519 years that our women are still resisting colonial violence against us, our people, our nation and our land. It is the longest social movement in North America. To end violence for all people, aboriginal women must be at the epicenter of the solution.”
Eriel Deranger: Though Canadian rock star Neil Young garnered attention for himself and his cause with a tour of Canada early this year—raising more than half a million dollars to help a First Nation fighting oil sands development—the concert series would not have been possible without one woman’s persistent work behind the scenes. Eriel Deranger is not just the spokeswoman for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, a community in the heart of Alberta’s oil sands that has seen drastic rises in rare cancers linked to petrochemicals. The 34-year-old activist, mother and former Prairie region director for the Sierra Club is also the face of a generation fighting to put the brakes on climate change and the destruction of indigenous territories. Working for countless hours to pull off Young’s controversial tour, Deranger gave a stirring speech beside the iconic singer that was not broadcast on the major news networks, but captured the energy and eloquence of a young woman who is no stranger to activism.
For the first time since 1707 (more than half a century before Burns was born), the population of Scotland is being given the chance to vote in a referendum that asks the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ The referendum won’t be held until 18 September, but already people are arguing about which side Robert Burns would have been on…
The amazing moment when you realize exactly why you were fucking up the Lindy Hop...
The triple step is syncopated (knew this part) and ends up counting as two beats not three (did not figure out this part til now). This makes my life SO much easier. Now I can actually practice without getting inordinately frustrated at my lack of coordination/counting skills.
While I am sad that I now have to put on a bra to get ready for cadets, the bright side of today is that I purchased all three LOTR films for $10. Also some other random $5 films and Life of Pi for 10$ for the NYC trip. Whatever the cadets don’t want to watch/we leave unopened is getting returned. Except LOTR. Nice to have it on dvd, so I’m keeping it regardless of whether or not it gets watched on the bus.
So apparently I’m a huge fan of Death Cab for Cutie. Or at least I freaking love “I will possess your heart” despite how fucking creepy the lyrics are. I think it’s because the intro tricked me into thinking indie88 was playing Tool.
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. So I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.”—
this is so important. too many actors fail to thank the people they play on screen. They often think they are those people and that they have actually done something through acting a part. Lupita knows the importance of playing the role of Patsey, but she always pays tribute to this real historical person and all the Patseys who have suffered. Lupita reminds everyone that Patsey is very real. That Solomon Northrup’s story is very real. This history from this movie is real and we must not forget. Thank you, Lupita. You’re an angel.
just in case people don’t know, the composer of frozen is bobby lopez, a renowned filipino-american songwriter, and if he wins best original song tonight then he will be the first man of colour in history to win an emmy, grammy, oscar, and tony
“When I look down at this little golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”—Lupita Nyong’o, upon winning the 2014 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (via thatbluebox)
Had a blast at the swing night yesterday! The band was great and played some music from New Orleans in honour of the upcoming Mardi Gras. I mostly danced the Charleston, but attempted the 6 count lindy hop and got back into the 8 count lindy fairly readily for only having danced it the one night in January. Wearing a twirly skirt for the first time added some fun too :D
I’m definitely improving my dancing as well as my discomfort with waiting by the sidelines and asking people to dance. That discomfort still exists but it’s lessened and, at least in the context of swing, I’m less shy now. Have to try and relax my face so I don’t fall victim to my resting bitch face however.
It seems that O and I are signing up (or trying to sign up) for the March swing 1 class, which covers lindy hop. Wasn’t sure if he’d want to, so that’s nice.
Now to hurriedly get ready for another shift at work.
shoutout to all the other ex-gifted & talented/honor student/straight a/senior editor/star student/99th percentile/once-creative burn-outs who have, since high school, realized they are truly miniscule fish in a giant, endless ocean, criticized themselves to the point of creative paralysis, and participated in so much self-sabotage they no longer see the point of doing anything at all because they’re just going to ruin it for themselves anyway