Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Text Size

M’Chigeeng Knowledge Symposium stresses that decolonization of First Nations must take place in order to move ahead in healing

Manitoulin Expositor

M’CHIGEENG—The annual M’Chigeeng First Nation Knowledge Symposium was held March 3 with a large audience in attendance at the community complex. The purpose of the workshop was to give participants an opportunity to learn about their unique attachment to culture.

Estelle Simard was the keynote speaker at the conference and represented the Institute for Culturally Restorative Practices (ICRP), which is situated in Fort Frances. Outlines of the organization state that ICRP seeks to ensure that individuals, as well as families and communities, understand their own unique cultural teachings and rebuild communities through the language, teaching, customs, ceremonies, roles and responsibilities as well as societal structures.

The knowledge symposium workshop started with a smudging ceremony and prayer by elder Geraldine McGregor and drumming and song by the M’Chigeeng Drum Group after an introduction by Ron Kanutski of Thunder Bay who served as master of ceremonies and all-round comedian. Mr. Kanutski then introduced Chief Glen Hare to the audience for introductory remarks. Chief Hare is the Deputy Grand Chief of the Anishinaabe Nation and he is not one to mince words. “I travel 10,000 kilometres a month to see how people are doing,” he said as he went on to remark that he is not shy to speak of how the First Nation communities look great during the day but it is a different story after the sun goes down. He also talked of how he promotes jurisdiction and authority when he travels. “We belong on Mother Earth,” Chief Hare told his audience, “and First Nation people, including children, are being restricted to a certain area of the province.

Another topic raised by Chief Hare was the announcement by Prime Minister Harper of federal funds for First Nation education. As Chief Hare pointed out, the money is promised for 2016 and if Mr. Harper loses the election or forms a minority government, it will probably be gone.

Chief Hare also expressed his horror about the appalling things that were done to First Nations people who were forced to attend residential schools.

Ms. Simard, who was next to speak, is the executive director of the ICRP which evolved from her experiences around child welfare and childhood mental health. She is from the Treaty Three locale, which includes 27 reserves in her area, especially around Fort Frances, and began her talk by saying, “I want to share some ideas on what cultural attachment theory means. This is my PhD in progress.”

Ms. Simard first talked about the importance of the First Nation members on Manitoulin. “You are a powerful people,” she said. “You are talked about in our legends and in our stories and in our lodges,” as she went on to explain what cultural attachment theory means. “Remember a time in your life,” she told her audience, “when you really thirsted to know what it was like to be Anishinaabe—to know who you really were. Cultural attachment is all about connecting to that spirit of who you are. Cultural memories are inside you right now. It is in your blood. And the teachings that I give you today have been given to me over 27 years. There have probably been about 10 different elders who have molded me. I am just a vessel—a teacher telling you about the teachings of these people.” As Ms. Simard continued her dialogue she mentioned how kids are challenged with mastering two worlds, but are only given one. “We teach them English, not Anishinaabe. There is nothing Anishinaabe in those schools.” Ms. Simard was then surprised and pleased when a member of the workshop pointed out that an Ojibwe immersion school had opened in M’Chigeeng. Perhaps the hardest part of this seminar was to listen to Ms. Simard talk about colonization.

“Colonization is a distinct period in which Indigenous tribes across the world experienced horrific constant and chronic loss of land, home, resources, family and even self identity. Indigenous scholars have referred to this memory as the soul wound.” As Ms. Simard spelled out, based on the work of scholars colonial tools include control, psychological strategies, the forced removal from sacred lands, massacres, slaughters, laws, separation of families, child welfare and policies and regulations designed to control as well as the introduction of alcohol and the purposeful introduction of disease. Consequences of colonization, again defined by scholars, include increased suicide rates, low mortality rates, mental health illnesses, poor housing, overcrowded housing, poor educational outcomes, unresolved grief and trauma, loss of stability and loss of identity. The ICRP believe that in order to be liberated from colonization and its effects, decolonization must take place. This process means that Anishinaabe leadership is investing in defining the cultural structures, language, teachings, customs, beliefs and traditional ceremonies of their people.  

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins