Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm on“Nimkii,” and the History of Indigenous Children in Foster Care

Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
 is the author of “Nimkii,” a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations by Ryan Howe and Jen Storm, and colour art by Donovan Yaciuk. In her author statement below, Kateri shares the stories that inspired “Nimkii,” and the personal connection that runs throughout. 

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“Nimkii” was inspired by the lives of a few specific children in care, the shocking statistics about Indigenous children in the system, and my own experience as an adoptive mother. In the late 1980s, I watched Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary Richard Cardinal: Cry from the Diary of a Metis Child about a boy who took his own life after being placed in 28 different foster homes during his 14 years “in care.” Richard’s story lodged itself in my heart, changing the way I understood Indigenous history and what it means to be “in care.” I resolved to adopt when I started a family. Later I heard about Teddy Bellingham, an Anishinaabe “Crown Ward” with roots in my community, who was brutally murdered in Smith Falls, Ontario. I learned about the Sixties Scoop and its devastating impacts on children, families, and communities, many of whom fought to bring their children home. When I eventually started my family, I did adopt. I have two beautiful, smart, loving, Anishinaabe boys who are the loves of my life, my family, my joy. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are many other children, just as beautiful and deserving of love, who languish in the system, neglected, abused, placed in homes where they are simply a “meal ticket” or a “good deed,” pawns in a power game by CFS workers and agencies exerting their control over Indigenous lives. There are Indigenous children “in care” who develop lifelong attachment issues, with no one to care or advocate for them, exposed to crime and addictions, taught to hate their Indigeneity. Of course, some Indigenous children are adopted into families bonded by love, respect, and caring. Some are fostered with kindness. Some thrive despite the system. They too inspire me and deserve to be celebrated. With “Nimkii,” I have done my best to tell a story that lovingly honours all of these children.

– Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

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Watch Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child, the powerful 1984 documentary film by Alanis Obomsawin that inspired “Nimkii”.

Looking for more information on the Sixties Scoop, or wanting to get involved? Check out the Métis National Council’s portal site.

Want to read “Nimkii” for yourself?  Pre-order This Place: 150 Years Retold today.

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Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

 

CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-eThis is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley on Inuit Shamanism in “Rosie”

Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley on Inuit Shamanism in “Rosie”Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley are the authors of “Rosie,” a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations and colour art by GMB Chomichuck. In their author statement below, Rachel & Sean delve into how colonization affected the Inuit, as well as some of the principles of Inuit shamanism.

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Secrecy. Intuition. Isolation. These factors conspired to make Inuit latecomers to assimilation. The result is that Inuit retain specifics regarding their cosmogony and shamanism—traditions spanning the circumpolar Arctic and laughably huge compared to our tale set around Canada’s “Foxe Basin.”

Doing a search for “Inuit beliefs” can get pretty depressing. Inuit psychology, as rendered in many sources, is presented as chaotic. Crude. But most researchers failed to understand that shamans (Inuktitut, aangakkuit; eldritch word implying “ecstatic ones”) were expressing a form of “imaginal intelligence” (praised by Einstein) necessary for physical and psychological survival. This is a vision of existence using layered, reiterating systems, whether in the human heart, or ice and wind.

“Rosie” is a nod to shamanism—a secret history of Inuit. To its layers. Much of this story is true. And while we’re not going to pluck at fact over fiction, for those who think the idea of shamans versus Nazis is … over-the-top, well, that really did happen. The dolls were real, too. So don’t be surprised at the rest.

Please note this, if nothing else: shamanism is different from spirituality. Aangakkuit are specialists in the soul (of any life), a membrane where mind meets spirit. The mind is temporary, while spirit is borrowed from a greater All, eternal and beyond expression. Shamans, in this sense, are not spiritual people. One might instead call them practitioners of “psychotechnology” (there’s a nice made-up word for you). Not the Inuit religion, but a system. An understanding. Of what? (Inuit secrecy…)

– Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

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Interested in more from Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley? Read about their award-winning young adult novel, Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic and find “Rosie” in This Place: 150 Years Retold.

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Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk


CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-e
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

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Potlatch as Pedagogy, an interview and introduction of Sara Davidson and Robert Davidson

Book launch and talk at The University of the Fraser Valley.

Book launch and talk with Sara Davidson and Robert Davidson at The University of the Fraser Valley.

Inspired by Haida ceremonial practice, Potlatch as Pedagogy is a resource for teachers written by educator Sara Davidson and her father, renowned artist Robert Davidson.  Sara began writing the book when she realized the traditions of the Haida practiced by her father—holistic, built on relationships, practical, and continuous—could be integrated into contemporary educational practices.

We sat down with Sara and Robert to chat about the book in preparation for its release.

PMP: Sara, what inspired you to write this book?

SD: One of my roles in teacher education is to teach educators and candidates how to integrate Indigenous content, perspectives, and pedagogies into their classroom practices. With the curriculum change in British Columbia that resulted in learning standards that are connected to Indigenous knowledge being introduced across grade levels and curricular areas, educators have become increasingly interested in how to bring that knowledge into their classrooms. Because of the difference in worldviews, some educators do not understand the protocols that may be associated with including Indigenous knowledge in their classes.

When my father first began carving the totem pole, his understanding of the art was still emerging. He did not realize the depth of ceremonial knowledge required to raise the pole. I hoped that by sharing the story about my father learning about the ceremonial knowledge connected with the pole raising, educators might also come to better understand the depth of Indigenous knowledge or at least to consider the different protocols that may be connected with bringing it into the classroom.

In my courses, I also talk a lot about the importance of connecting with local knowledge, and it was my hope that this project could serve as a starting place for thinking about how educators might be able to connect with local knowledge and educational principles to guide their teaching or at the very least to begin to understand the power of doing so.

PMP: The painting on the cover of the book is stunning. Could you talk a bit about what it represents?

SD: My father described this painting as “two working together” or a bow and arrow and it was the title that resonated with me at first. When my father spoke about the painting with me, he described the two faces that he saw in the shapes and the thin black lines of communication and he spoke about the significance of the colours in Haida art from before and after contact with Europeans. I described what I saw when I looked at the painting in the book, but as I mentioned previously, it was really the title that resonated with me – because it speaks to the process that we used to write the book. We really were two working together as we drew upon a process of intergenerational sharing of knowledge. (for more about the painting, see pages 9-10 in the book)

PMP: Your father [Robert Davidson] uses the expression “born in the nick of time.” Could you speak about what that means in relation to learning from your elders and passing that knowledge along to future generations?

SD: This expression would not have been necessary if not for the Potlatch Ban. Without it, we would have been free to pass on our knowledge to future generations in the ways that our ancestors did. However, during the Potlatch Ban, we were very restricted in the knowledge we were able to share.

My father speaks about his generation being “born in the nick of time” because they were at the right age – both old enough and young enough – when the Potlatch Ban was lifted to be able to receive the knowledge from the Elders before they passed on. Though we are now able to share our cultural knowledge without those same restrictions, we now face a similar challenge with our language, and I believe that those who are working to revive the language could also be considered “born in the nick of time” to be able to learn from the few remaining speakers.

PMP: Generally, what are the sk’ad’a principles, and how can they help teachers?

SD: In British Columbia, FNESC developed the First Peoples Principles of Learning which are not specific to an individual nation, but they “represent an attempt to identify common elements in the varied teaching and learning approaches that prevail within particular First Peoples societies” (BC Ministry of Education, n.d.). In working with teacher candidates over the years, I have always encouraged them to work with these principles, but I have also encouraged them to seek local connections and to learn more about how specific communities conceptualize teaching and learning in their local context.

Sk’ad’a is the Haida word for learn and the root word for teach. The sk’ad’a principles are based on stories that my father told me to help me to understand how he learned outside of the school environment when he was growing up. As I listened to the stories, I started to hear themes in what he was telling me. Following the conversations, I sat with the stories and the themes became more clear and these emerged to become the sk’ad’a principles. It is important to note that these are not Haida principles, as they are only based upon my father’s experiences, and I did not consult with the Haida Nation about the principles. I chose to call them the sk’ad’a principles after consulting with a few community members who are more knowledgeable than I am.

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PMP: Could you speak about some of the struggles of the Haida people and the steps they took to ensure that their culture survived?

SD: The Canadian government worked very hard to assimilate Indigenous peoples, including the Haida. This included (but was not limited to) the banning of our potlatches which prevented us from remembering and sharing our cultural knowledge with future generations, sending children to residential schools far away from our communities where children were abused and prevented from speaking their ancestral languages, and placing an Indian Agent in Masset to reinforce the Indian Act – punishing those who did not comply. This resulted in the necessity for Haida Elders to find innovative ways to ensure that the knowledge was not lost, including potlatching in secret and sharing the knowledge at Christmas dinners and/or weddings.

When I was doing research for this book, I learned about a specific dance that I will never learn because of a missionary who lived in Masset and prevented us from practicing the dance and passing it on. It is easy to focus on the loss, but I really try to focus instead on the gratitude for the Elders who worked to piece together knowledge of the old ways so that I have strong connections to my Haida culture today.

My father and my uncle started a traditional Haida dance group when I was a young girl, and this has also helped to revive our ancestral knowledge. Participating in this dance group has allowed me to live my Haida ancestry rather than to simply remember it or learn about it in books.

PMP: Robert Davidson’s carving of a totem pole for his village is a vital story in this book. Could you elaborate on that?

SD: I think that the story of the carving of the pole gave us a tangible way to talk about revitalization of cultural knowledge. It began with the stories my father told me about learning outside of the school environment. Through those conversations, I learned about how my father learned – what elements needed to be present for him to learn. As those conversations ended, he began talking about the pole raising, and I realized we had transitioned into something entirely different. He was speaking to me about learning cultural knowledge and protocol. He used the story of carving the pole and raising it in the community to teach me about relearning cultural knowledge after attempts had been made to destroy that knowledge. That experience of carving and raising the pole provided my father with an opportunity to learn that knowledge from the Elders. When he learned that knowledge, he felt compelled to share it and did so through hosting and co-hosting feasts and potlatches. What was particularly interesting to me is that he used those same sk’ad’a principles to share what he had learned.

PMP: Could you talk a bit about the difference between ownership of art and art that “belongs” to the community?

SD: First, to provide a bit of background, there is a moment in the book after my father has finished carving the pole when he is helping the community to move it to where it will be raised. As my father is helping to move the pole his tsinii (grandfather) tells my father that the pole doesn’t belong to him anymore.

I think that if you asked my father, he would say that the pole never did belong to him in the way that we often think about ownership. Both my father and my brother speak about the art emerging from the medium – for example, the wood from which it is carved. But there is this time, that they spend with the art, helping it to emerge, when they are completely connected to the art. They are so connected that when it has been completed, the piece has the ability to tell a story on their behalf. But in order for that story to be shared, the piece has to be let go into the world.

I think that those words that my great-grandfather said to my father have always remained with him because I believe that there is always a moment when the piece is finished and the artist must let the piece go. This is not about the art no longer being attributed to the artist – it is more about honouring the life in the art and the need for art to be out in the world interacting with people in order to complete its purpose. In the case of the pole, it belongs to the community because it created the opportunity for the Elders to remember knowledge and it allowed the community to live the culture once again.

PMP: The story about your great-grandmother putting a paper bag over her head to perform a traditional dance is very moving. Could you speak to the significance of her action, and what it has meant for you and other Haida?

SD: I cannot speak on behalf of others, but I can say that for me this was always an act of courage. Although I was not there, I have always felt that my great-grandmother struggled to share this knowledge, but she knew that it had the potential to die with her. I believe that this gave her the strength she needed to overcome any fears or shame that she may have faced in order to share the dance with my father.

As I mentioned previously, while doing research for this book, I learned of a dance that I will never know because of the Potlatch Ban, and specifically because of a single missionary who lived in Masset – this filled me with a tremendous sense of loss but also anger that I was denied this inheritance. My great-grandmother’s courage to share the dance and my father’s willingness to learn the dance meant that I was not also denied knowing this dance. For that, I am grateful.

Get your own copy of Potlatch as Pedagogy.

 

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An Interview with Writer and Illustrator Kyle Charles

Kyle_Charles (1)Kyle Charles is a writer/illustrator living in Edmonton, Alberta. He has drawn for several series including Roche Limit: Clandestiny and Her Infernal Descent. He has also written and illustrated short stories for publishers like Heavy Metal and OnSpec Magazine. When not busy at the drawing table, Kyle spends much of his time teaching comics to local students. He is a member of Whitefish Lake First Nation.

Kyle is the illustrator of “Tilted Ground,” written by Sonny Assu and coloured by Scott A. Ford.  

The story appears in the forthcoming graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold.

In “Tilted Ground,” Kyle’s illustrations depict Chief Billy Assu as he becomes one of the most well-known Ligwilda’xw potlatch chiefs in history, as well as the potlatch ban.

HWP: The style of your art is unique in that all of the work is done by hand—many other artists prefer to ink their work digitally. Why did you decide to work in this style, and what do you like about drawing by hand?

KC: I’ve always worked traditionally. It slows the process down, but I feel like my best work is done when it’s pencils and inks applied directly onto paper. I have nothing against working digitally, though. If I had the necessary tools, I would likely split my workload between the two, as working with digital pencils and inks lets you discover things, speeds up the process, and allows artists to be a little more bold.

HWP: What does your creative process look like?

KC: My creative process is pretty straight forward. If you put my work under a microscope, you’d see I adhere to a few visual rules for storytelling (which some could argue limits the work), but I never want to give up substance for style. I read the materials or script and try to get to the marrow of what the story is and what the characters need. Then thumbnails (small drawings), pencils, and if I like the composition and direction, I finish it with inks.

HWP: Your past work in series such as Roche Limit: Clandestiny feature illustrations that are reflective of the sci-fi genre, whereas “Tilted Ground” is historical fiction. Is there anything particularly interesting or challenging about illustrating either genre?

KC: Sure, I’ve worked on multiple period pieces set in the 19th century, and the biggest difference is the amount of reference I need to use. Sci-fi exercises a separate part of the brain; I love pulling on the thread of where tech is going or could go and what that does to human nature. Period work puts you in a box, but that’s not a bad place to be. You are forced to start thinking of various approaches to make it interesting while adhering to the strict guidelines that are required.


HWP: “Tilted Ground” is written by Sonny Assu and coloured by Scott A. Ford. What was it like to work with them on this story?

KC: It was a good experience. We weren’t in contact very much, but it’s exciting to work on a historical piece with a direct member of the family. I’ve never done that before. Scott brought a really intriguing dimension to the story, too—his colours are bananas.

HWP: What has been your most memorable experience as a writer and illustrator?

KC: Probably getting the opportunity to work on Heavy Metal #282. It was the first of Grant Morrisson’s takeover as E-I-C (he’s my favourite writer) and arguably the most important issue of Heavy Metal since the legendary days of their run in the 70s with artists like Moebius and Enki Balal. Those are artists I respect and admire, so to share pages with one of them under Grant’s watchful eye was rewarding.

HWP: What are you currently working on? Where can readers find your work next?

KC: Right now, I’m working on a book called War Path and a short story for Moonshot with Richard Van Camp. I also have an upcoming graphic novel that I can’t talk about yet, and I’ve been involved with TV and Film lately.

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Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

 

CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-eThis is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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Highlighting 2019 Spring Releases!

April is always an exciting time for us. We have many new titles in development to help you in the classroom, with several being released in the coming months. We’re excited to share this list of spring releases with you!

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Ghosts: The Reckoner Trilogy, Book 3

by David A. Robertson

The final installment of David A. Robertson’s The Reckoner trilogy will be available next month and will offer up an exciting conclusion to this popular young adult series.

Wounded Sky has been quarantined and Mihko Laboratories—the research facility that was working to manufacture and weaponize the illness that had previously plagued the community—has reopened. Cole Harper is dead, Reynold McCabe is alive and free, people are missing, and questions remain: what deal did Eva strike with Choch, and who will finally defeat Mihko and Reynold before time runs out?

This gripping finale to The Reckoner trilogy will finally give the answers we’ve all been waiting for. You have until May 24th to reread Strangers and Monsters before Ghosts is released!

KC Adams Perceptions

Perception: A Photo Series

by KC Adams

“Indeed, the potential lasting impact of this collection can’t be underestimated; this is socially engaged art at its best.”
— Kirkus Reviews

You might recognize the photographs from KC Adams’s Perception: A Photo Series, which first appeared around Winnipeg in bus shelters, on billboards, and projected onto Winnipeg’s downtown buildings.

Created to confront common stereotypes facing Indigenous people, this book is suitable for grades 9-12 as a tool to start a conversation about the harmful effects of racism. It is a title in the Debwe series and features a foreword by Katherena Vermette, author of The Break and the A Girl Called Echo series, as well as a critical essay by Cathy Mattes, Associate Professor of the Visual and Aboriginal Art Department at Brandon University.

As Adams shows through this incredible exhibition of faces and feelings, we are beautiful, whole, and complex peoples irreducible to stereotypes and slander.”
— Romeo Saganash (Cree, father, activist, and dreamer)

If you’d like to know more about KC Adams, check out this blog post.

21. ThisPlace-Cover

This Place: 150 Years Retold

by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated by Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, Jen Storm

Colour by Scott A. Ford, Donovan Yaciuk

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a powerful, groundbreaking graphic novel anthology that explores the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators.. It’s an enthralling journey through magic realism, empowerment, psychic battles, and time travel.

With ten stories by different authors and illustrators, this one-of-a-kind work may reshape what you think you know about Canada.

…breathtaking comics anthology…this mix of powerful storytelling and memorable illustrations is a place to begin a dialogue with Indigenous peoples in Canada.”
—The Globe and Mail

Check out this blog post to see the writers featured in the book!

 catch_a_fire_cover-e1550099397781Catch a Fire: Fuelling Inquiry and Passion Through Project-Based Learning

edited by Matt Henderson

Educators: we have a few titles just for you this month! This book will inspire, challenge, and engage you—and transform your teaching and learning.

Catch a Fire is described in the preface as a “book for all educators”. Each chapter is written by a different teacher and not only reflects on the how of project-based learning, but more importantly, on the what and the why. They offer insight into how connecting with learners, honouring their experiences, and promoting deep and rich questioning can be the path to impactful projects and learning.

…an impressive book written by and for a range of practitioners that show how Project Based Learning can be used in all sorts of environments with all learners. This is a very handy book for educators interested in refining their project-based learning chops.”
– Elliot Washore, Ed.D., co-founder Big Picture Learning

Order your copy today.

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Hands-On Science: An Inquiry Approach

Senior author: Jennifer Lawson

Get ready, educators! Hands-On Science: An Inquiry Approach is the only resource you need for your science classroom. These newly released books, intended for grades K–2, completely match the redesigned science curriculum for British Columbia.

Grounded in the Know-Do-Understand model, First Peoples knowledge and perspectives, and student-driven scientific inquiry, this custom-written resource emphasizes Core Competencies to help students engage in deeper and lifelong learning. Develop students’ Curricular Competencies as they explore science through hands-on activities that foster a deep understanding of the Big Ideas.

This series is one of the most comprehensive resources out there—just pick it up and use it, which makes planning a breeze.

Would you like to know more? Take a peek at the video here

 

Find these titles and more at the following conferences this spring. Drop by our exhibit—we would love to meet you!

 

Follow us on social media to find us at upcoming conferences and for more information on new releases!

Facebook (Portage & Main Press) / Facebook (Highwater Press)
Twitter
Instagram

 

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Chelsea Vowel on the Post-Apocalypse in This Place:150 Years Retold

Chelsea VowelChelsea Vowel is the author of “kitaskînaw 2050,” a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations by Tara Audibert and colour by Donovan Yaciuk. In her author statement below, Chelsea examines the tie between This Place: 150 Years Retold and the dystopian genre, and shares the basis of “kitaskînaw 2050” .

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Illustration & Colours: Natasha Donovan

Illustrations by Tara Audibert with colourist Donovan Yaciuk.

Dystopian or apocalyptic writing occupies an enormous amount of space in contemporary storytelling and in the social consciousness. We are told that the end is nigh, and that the world (or at least the world as we know it) will be destroyed, and that this is a Bad Thing. We are encouraged to imagine what life could be like during and after this supposedly inevitable destruction, but are steered away from dreaming up alternatives. Indigenous peoples have been living in a post-apocalyptic world since Contact. This entire anthology deals with events postapocalypse! Why end on the same note?

In 2014, Molly Swain and I began an Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast called Métis in Space. We explicitly rejected the idea that liberation necessarily proceeds from a period of even more intense oppression, of apocalypse as a catalyst for decolonization. Instead, we envisioned a future shaped by indigenous peoples; a future in which the ways we relate to one another are fundamentally transformed.

This chapter is a love letter to my ancestors and my descendants. It is a refusal to lose hope, and a denial of oblivion. Indigenous peoples will continue to exist into the near and far future. We need space and time to imagine our relationships branching out, growing in spite of severances, becoming more firmly rooted and nourished. We can do that work wherever we are, in our communities, in the academy, at the bedside of our babies who demand just one. more. Story.

Perhaps, after you finish this anthology, you will realize you too have been doing this work, and for that, I thank you.

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  • Listen to Chelsea Vowel examine the science fiction genre through a decolonization lens in her podcast Métis in Space, co-hosted with Molly Swain.
  • Read Chelsea’s take on a post-apocalyptic world in This Place: 150 Years Retold.

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Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

 

CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-eThis is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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This Place: 150 Years Retold, Writers Round Up

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a powerful, groundbreaking graphic novel anthology of 10 untold stories. It’s an enthralling journey through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel.

With eleven authors and eight illustrators, this one-of-a-kind work may reshape what you think you know about Canada.

Here are the authors who contributed to this groundbreaking collection of stories:

Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is the founder and Managing Editor of Kegedonce Press. Her story “Nimki,” about a child growing up in the foster care system, was inspired by Kateri’s own experience as an adoptive mother and the knowledge of the shocking experiences of Indigenous children in the system.

SonnyAssu_ThisPlaceRetold_2019

Sonny Assu

Sonny Assu’s story, “Tilted Ground,” explores the history of his great-great-grandfather, Chief Billy Assu, who was one of the most well-respected chiefs in Ligwilda’xw history. Chief Billy Assu has also played a significant role in Sonny’s life and inspired many pieces of his art.

Alicia Elliott

Alicia Elliott

Alicia Elliot is an award-winning Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River living in Brantford, Ontario. Her essay, “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground,” won Gold at the National Magazine Awards (2017), she was awarded the 2017-2018 Geoffrey and Margaret Andrew Fellow at UBC, and she received the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Prize in 2018.

Alicia wrote the foreword in the anthology, which is her first work with Highwater Press.

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Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Together, Sean and Rachael have worked for decades as Arctic researchers and consultants and have published 10 books including their novel, Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic,  a Governor General’s Awards Finalist. “Rosie” is their latest work, which is a coming-of-age story of a young girl becoming a shaman.

Jen Storm author photo

Jen Storm

Named one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 in 2017, Jen Storm wrote “Red Clouds,” a story about windigos and the clash between Indigenous and Canadian systems of law. Her illustrations also make an appearance in “Nimkii” by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm.

Hear about her inspiration for the story, written from a woman’s perspective, here.

Van Camp, Richard

Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp, an award-winning author of more than 22 books, writes about his personal hero in the story “Like a Razor Slash.” As part of the Berger Inquiry, Chief Frank T’Seleie gave a speech that is an iconic reminder of the environmental and cultural impacts of proposed pipeline projects.

Watch him talk about the experience of writing the story here.

Vowel, Chelsea 2

Chelsea Vowel

Chelsea Vowel, mother to six daughters, co-hosts an Indigenous feminist podcast called Métis in Space, and explores the sci-fi theme further in her story “kitaskînaw 2350.” The story travels through time to put current events in context for a woman from a decolonized future.

David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson


David A. Robertson, a Governor General’s Award-winning author, writes about Francis Pegahmagabow, an Indigenous sniper highly decorated for his military service in WWI—yet forgotten to Canadian history.

Learn more about ‘Peggy’ here.

Sinclair, Niigaan_ThisPlaceRetold

Niigaanwewidam “Niigaan” James Sinclair


Best known for his myth-busting columns in the Winnipeg Free Press, Niigaan Sinclair shares the story “Warrior Nation,” which follows young Indigenous activists in the 1990s and as part of the Oka Crisis.

Hear him talk about the story here.

K_Vermette_2016

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette, a Governor General’s Award-winning author, draws upon her Métis identity and deep roots in the Red River Valley for her story, “Annie of Red River.” Annie Bannatyne, a strong Métis woman, leaves a mark on history as one unsung hero that may have inspired the Red River Resistance.

Hear her thoughts on the story here.

Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell founder of Birch Bark Comics drew on his memories of fishing with his father and the stories from his community to write “Migwite’tmeg: We Remember It.” The story focuses on fishing raids from the 1980s and what they meant for Listiguj.

Watch him talk about the raids here.

These are just a few of the incredible people who contributed This Place: 150 Years Retold. Pre-order your copy of this groundbreaking anthology today, and keep your eyes peeled for it on shelves on May 1, 2019!

 


Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

Canada Council New Chapter LogoThis is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

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Spring Break! Tips for Recharging from Ensouling Our Schools

Spring break is right around the corner, and is a time for both you and your students to recharge. After the break, what can you and your students do to stay recharged during the rest of the school year?

In Ensouling Our Schools: A Universally Designed Framework for Mental Health, Well Being, and Reconciliation (Ensouling Our Schools), Jennifer Katz shares important lessons on mindfulness and mental well-being that help you create thriving, engaged learning communities.

Breathing exercises are a quick and easy way to combat stress, overwhelm, and anxiety on a daily basis. Here are some useful tips, straight out of Ensouling Our Schools to help your students (and you!) start the break off on the right foot. You can find these lessons on pages 133-134 of the book.

Breathing using imagery-Ensouling Our Schools

Breathing using imagery
Have your students sit comfortably in their chairs and imagine a time they were angry or anxious. Have them create an image of something that represents that feeling, such as a cat hissing or a dark cloud.

Have your students then inhale deeply through their noses while imagining something that makes them happy, like a bright colour or something that smells and tastes good, and breathe out the image of the bad feeling.

 

 

Belly Breathing- Ensouling Our Schools

Belly breathing

Have your students put a hand on their chests and on their bellies. Tell them that as they inhale, they should be pushing out the hand on their bellies without moving the hand on their chests, activating their diaphragms to help them re-centre themselves.

You can also alternate belly breathing and back breathing. Have the students put one hand on their lower backs and one hand on their bellies and focus on pushing out the hand on their backs while keeping the hands on their bellies still. This helps balance the body.

Nostril breathing - Ensouling Our Schools

Nostril breathing

Have your students press their thumbs onto one nostril and breathe out gently from the other nostril. This is a technique used in some forms of yoga, meditation, and qi gong to regulate the breath.

Remind your students to refocus daily. Improved mental health and a greater sense of calm equip us to better handle the challenges in our day.

Ensouling Our Schools is a book in Jennifer Katz’s “Teaching to Diversity” series. This third installment focuses on mental health and well-being in the classroom, and is available now. Order your copy here.

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Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair on What Inspired “Warrior Nation”

Sinclair, Niigaan_ThisPlaceRetoldNiigaanwewidam James Sinclair is the author of “Warrior Nation,” a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations and colour art by Andrew Lodwick. In his author statement below, Niigaanwewidam shares his connection to the Oka Crisis, and explains how they helped to shape both himself and “Warrior Nation”.

* * * *

The years 1990-2005 were the most formative for me as an Anishinaabe and an inini, a man. It was these years when I learned much of what makes me today – particularly my fierce belief in the power of story. It is this spirit I hope to instill in Warrior Nation.

I was 14 when Elijah Harper bravely said “no” to Meech Lake, and Ellen Gabriel and my Kanien’kehá:ka relations stood their ground at Oka – a time when a boy realizes he is a part of something bigger than him. It should be no surprise that parts of me are inside Washashk (from ignorance to maturation), but Raven is a conglomeration of so many who helped me along my journey who humbled, helped, and taught me along the way. I walk in their footsteps now. This is also the reason why I ended the story hopefully.

While the Kelowna Accord was an abject failure, the resistance and unity Indigenous communities forged during this time is the ultimate story that needs to be told. It is this “warrior spirit” that I believe carried us into the world of today. I want to take this opportunity to thank Ellen Gabriel, who profoundly influenced me with the details of the Oka resistance and helped me re-frame the entire story due to her advice and direction. Miigwech Ellen and to all who helped me along this path and into the future.

– Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair

 


Want to learn more about the event that inspired “Warrior Nation”? Click here to watch Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, an award-winning documentary directed by Alanis Obomsawin that chronicles the events of the 1990 Oka Crisis.

Read “Warrior Nation” in This Place: 150 Years Retold.

 


Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

Canada Council New Chapter LogoThis is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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An Interview with KC Adams, Creator of Perception: A Photo Series

KC Adams Perceptions

KC Adams is a Cree/Ojibway/British Winnipeg-based artist who graduated from Concordia University with a B.F.A in studio arts. Currently an instructor in Visual and Aboriginal Art at Brandon University, her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions, as well as in permanent collections both nationally and internationally. She is also the author and creator of Perception: A Photo Series.

KC created the Perception Photo Series in 2014. The series presents two photographs of the same Indigenous person side-by-side – one with a stereotype above it, and one with the participant’s own description of their identity. In the first photo, the participant is reacting to a memory of a racially-charged incident; in the other, they are remembering something that makes them happy. With its powerful ability to address prejudice, Perception was featured on billboards, bus shelters, and posters across Winnipeg, starting a national conversation about our own biases and perceptions..

KC Adams uses two images in her Perception photography series to contrast labels imposed by society with the ones Indigenous women give themselves empowering them to take back the narrative of their lives. The artist is part of The Resilience Project. (John Woods/Canadian Press via CBC Canada.)

KC Adams uses two images in her Perception photography series to contrast labels imposed by society with the ones Indigenous women give themselves empowering them to take back the narrative of their lives. (John Woods/Canadian Press via CBC Canada.)

In her book, KC Adams presents a series of images that confront the stereotypes about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and inspires her readers to act against prejudice of all kinds. In her Q&A below, KC explores the origin of Perception and her experiences creating it.

1. The longevity of Perception is something that you mention in your preface, as well as the various experiences that you have had because of it. What is the most valuable thing that you have learned as a result of this project?

I was surprised by the human connections that can happen through art. Normally, I am reluctant to ask strangers to help me. I worry too much about obligations and social protocols. I pushed through my fears because I understood that this art project was important. The beautiful souls who volunteered to be part of this photo project taught me about courage, tenacity, and vulnerability and further fuelled my hope in humanity. My models were so kind and generous, and I believe because of their courage, the general response to this work was with kindness and generosity. How cool is that?

2.What do you think your book, Perception: A Photo Series, brings to this project which the other mediums you have used have not yet been able to provide?

Photography allows the viewer to look into the eyes of my subjects and react to their truth. My method in photographing my subjects, was to allow their genuine reactions to hate and love shine through. My model’s physical reactions to those words allowed the viewer to relate and experience empathy.

3. In your book, you mention how, when you started the project of Perception, your intent was to “combat racism and present Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the ways they see themselves.”; but now it is “to give hope to the Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people for a better future and to remind people that discrimination must never be tolerated”. What prompted the evolution in your intent for this project? How does Perception: A Photo Series aim to accomplish this?

Initially, I was responding to negativity, a knee-jerk reaction to bigotry. It was from anger that I was driven to act quickly to combat this ignorance. As I photographed my community, I was able to sit and hear their experience, to understand how they saw themselves. Their strength, beauty, and hope encouraged me. When the work was distributed, I heard from strangers about how moved they were by the photos and shared their appreciation on how it allowed them to start the conversation about racism with their friends and family. Teachers started contacting me about how they were able to share this work with their students and have conversations about discrimination. What evolved was that people were eager to have these conversations and it took me out of anger into the light of hope.

4. The author Katherena Vermette, in her foreword entitled “Before Words”, describes the process you used to take photographs of the participants. Why did you decide to capture the photographs in this way?

I wanted the audience to understand the pain of each person I photographed, and the only way I could do that was to bring them into that mental state. The hate and joy that I inflicted on my models was allowing them to speak their truth. Photographing my mother was the most painful exercise. I asked her to remember when she was a little girl and kids would taunt her, calling her a ‘dirty little indian.’ She started to well up, and I managed to take a couple of photos before I had to stop and comfort her. That was really painful for me to see that she still holds onto those hateful words. I would often cry when I would talk about that photo session. This project was an eye-opening experience for me on the levels of pain and joy that exists in the original people of this land.

5. What are you working on now? Do you have any plans for future projects?

I am currently working on some public art commissions, one of which I just completed with Jaimie Isaac and Val Vint on a 30-foot sculpture called Nimamaa located at the South entrance of the Forks in Winnipeg. Nimamaa is a word recognized by Cree, Ojibway, and Métis speakers as “my mother.” Nimamaa is a stylized sculpture of a pregnant woman that represents motherhood, mother earth, and new beginnings.  

I am also working on multiple projects that addresses Indigenous knowledge through Indigenous clay, beading, and porcupine quill work. I am trying to address the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action in my art practice. I believe art can elicit positive change by reclaiming our culture and spirit. I will end this with one of my favourite quotes by my good friend Steve Loft.

“…when members of a community assert control over their own lives and culture politically, socially, and artistically, they go beyond oppression. Thus, control of our “image” becomes not only an act of subversion, but of resistance and ultimately liberation.”

Interested in learning more about Perception? Click here to listen to KC’s interview with CBC guest host Jelena Adzic about Perception’s effects across Winnipeg, and the project as a whole.

Want to experience Perception for yourself? Pre-order your copy of Perception: A Photo Series today!

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