Sunday, September 21, 2014
Text Size

Copper broken on Parliament Hill in First Nations shaming ceremony

Western Canada First Nations representatives want government to address troubled relationship

By Martha Troian, CBC News

A traditional shaming ceremony held today on the steps of Parliament Hill is meant to challenge the federal government to renew its troubled relationship with First Nations, says a prominent West Coast artist.

Beau Dick, 59, a master carver and hereditary chief from the Namgis First Nation, says the ceremony involves cutting or breaking a large copper shield.

“Breaking copper is a challenge, it is also a shaming, and it is also about banishment,” Dick explained.

“There are a lot of layers to this. Some people have described this as a protest and that is valid ... [But] it's beyond that. What it is, is about waking up the consciousness.”

Once practised throughout the Pacific Northwest, when copper shields were a measure of wealth and power, the shaming rite had all but disappeared until Dick revived it with a ceremony in front of the B.C. legislature in 2013.

Giindajin Haawasti Guujaaw, a master carver who served as president of the Council of the Haida Nation for 13 years, provided the copper for the shield. Guujaaw has been a high-profile figure since the '70s, when he led efforts to protect Haida Gwaii from logging and other resource development.

“[The] copper that is being provided is brought forth by the Haida Nation who have suffered atrocities over the last 150 years, almost totally alienated through genocide," said Dick.

Dick and other supporters from B.C. First Nations began their journey to Ottawa earlier this month, leaving Vancouver on July 2. They travelled over 5,000 kilometres and made several stops along the way to meet with various communities.

By the time the group arrived in Ottawa on Saturday, they were 20 strong and included members of the Blackfoot Nation in Alberta.

Sunday's event took place on the front lawn of Parliament Hill atop a banner with text from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2008 apology for Canada's residential schools.

After taking more than 10 minutes to break the shield, organizers took the broken shield to the front steps of Centre Block.

Although the ceremony is meant to shame the federal government, Dick says it also symbolizes an opportunity for the country's leaders to renew what is seen as a deeply fractured relationship with First Nations.

And he hopes it's a wake up call for all Canadians.

“Hopefully we can touch the conscience so people will start caring more and work towards creating a world of well-being for all of our children and our mankind," he said. "People need to be aware of the situation that we’re in in regards to our environment.”

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

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

JOBS

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

Responsibilities

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

EVENTS

September 2014
S M T W T F S
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
imageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

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