Walking In LA | One Month to the Toronto Mayoral Election | Game: Crimes Against Headlines | Music: Tanya Tagaq | The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples | Paul Calandra | Is Canada Going to War? (Yes) | Fighting ISIS: The Coalition is Growing
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IN ALL CULTURES, social dance figures. The pow wow has, as is the case with so many things indigenous, both its historic (which is to say “pre-contact”) and contemporary manifestation. Without doubt, the pow wow is today an expression of pan-aboriginalism, being a social festival which looks roughly the same across North America. The seasonal and ceremonial dances of long ago varied widely, from culture to culture, so that it is probably of little help to look back more than a couple decades to discern the roots of a modern pow wow.
EARLY IN THE week, during an interview whose topic was the relationship in Canada between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, I was asked what I would hope for “in an ideal world.” My answer was an alteration of political will, and more specific a beyond-mere-rhetoric commitment to a renewal of the relationship on the principle of mutual respect. I then felt it necessary to argue, along the lines of Theodor Herzl’s “If you will …” , that the only impediment to progress in Canada is the absence of political will.
TOMORROW MORNING I will get on an airplane and fly to Halifax, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is hosting its latest gathering. Already the event has produced headline material, derived from the statement yesterday of University of Manitoba President, David Barnard. Toronto Star Reporter Louise Brown characterizes this apology to Aboriginal people “an unusual move,” and so it is. Yet Canada’s universities, and indeed the entire education system, have good reason to feel the bite of conscience. Please allow me to expand upon that theme.
ABOVE THE fold of October 4th’s Globe and Mail there was featured a piece by the fine journalist Steven Chase, “Military intelligence unit keeps watch on native groups.” A more candid and accurate phrasing (Chase, not a writer given to mealy-mouthing, is not responsible for the headline) would be “Canada is spying on indigenous people.”
I discovered some days ago that my passport wasn’t where I was certain I’d put it. I had just moved one and-a-half miles, crossing the border between Hull, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario. I needed that passport to transfer my life (car registration, driver’s licence, and other various bits of ID) to my new-old place of residence. No ticket, no laundry. Thus begins what is for me a too-familiar recurring scene, in which yours truly is cast into the leading role of the identification theatre’s latest production.
It’s been more than a few years now since my afternoon Calgary chat with a Kainai (Blood) acquaintance, but I do remember a bit of the history lesson I received that day. One thing I recall above all else is a sensation of correspondence: the Haudenosaunee have the largest population within Canada’s borders, the Kainai the largest land base; the Haudenosaunee are known to be of an independent cast of mind, so too I gathered from my interlocutor the Kainai. (The name is pronounced “Ken-Eye,” and fittingly means something like Many Chiefs.) I left the conversation that day rather feeling a sense of kinship, which is unusual for me in most any social encounter.