Tag Archives: Native Canadian

Historica Canada releases new Heritage Minutes on Residential Schools and Treaties

From a media release:

In a ground-breaking addition to its Heritage Minute collection, Historica Canada is releasing a pair of new Minutes that explore vital moments in Indigenous history: treaty-making and residential schools. The Minutes highlight darker chapters of Canadian history and come a year after the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“If Canada is going to move towards reconciliation then we have to engage in some hard truths about residential schools and treaties,” said Shane Belcourt, director of the two Minutes. “We had so much to say about the issues but only one minute. My hope is these Minutes lend themselves to a larger dialogue.”

“Chanie Wenjack” tells the story of a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in 1966. Wenjack (known as Chanie to his family, but historically as Charlie) died shortly into his journey. His death sparked the first inquiry into the conditions faced by residential school students. Wenjack’s sister, Pearl Achneepineskum, herself a survivor of residential school, shares the story in her own voice.

“Naskumituwin (Treaty)” tells the story of the signing of Treaty 9 through the eyes of a historical witness, George Spence. Spence, an 18-year-old Cree from Albany, James Bay, witnessed the treaty signing at Fort Albany on August 3, 1905. In the oral history tradition, Spence passed the story of the treaty signing down through his family. His great-granddaughter, Rosary Spence, shares the story as she inherited it.

The Heritage Minutes were produced by Historica Canada and Toronto-based Wabunganung Film Company Ltd. They were written by acclaimed author Joseph Boyden. Boyden and filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin provide the iconic end narration for “Wenjack” and “Treaty”, respectively. Additional educational materials for teachers are available here and here.

These Heritage Minutes were made possible through funding from the Ontario government. Historica Canada thanks Porter Airlines for its generous donation of travel vouchers for this project.



Blackstone returns seeking happiness

It’s kind of ironic that the focus of Tuesday’s Blackstone return dealt with happiness. APTN’s drama, ending after this final fifth season, hasn’t featured a lot of lightness or positivity. Instead, it’s reflected the real issues affecting Native Canadians, from alcoholism and drug use to sexual abuse and murder. So, to hear the word happy even uttered was a little strange.

And yet there it was, used by Gail, the one person on Blackstone whose life is anything but happy. Wendy was kidnapped by Darrien and shows no signs of returning her, throwing Gail and Leona’s lives into disarray. Wilma is dying, and Gail is engaged in a daily battle with the bottle. But as Dr. Crowshoe suggested, discovering what makes Gail happy is her key to getting better. That included getting up in front of those at the band office and apologizing for her sins of the past.

Happiness was a big part of “Beginning of the End” for every major character, albeit in subtle ways. It seems like the only thing that will make Andy happy is reclaiming the chiefdom from Victor. Andy loves power and everything that comes with it—money and women—and blames Victor for Debbie’s death and Alan’s injury. But to become happy, Andy is going to make desperate, rash decisions to get there and I worry things will end badly. Nothing good can come from digging up a buried body. Daryl, meanwhile, is happy just running a successful club. If only things were as simple for others.

I know Darrien is a monster to most, but his most tender moments on Tuesday were reserved for his quiet time with Wendy. He may puff himself up like a tough guy, but Darrien clearly wants to connect with his daughter. I’m not sure kidnapping her was the right decision, but it’s where his brain went first. And then there was that little cough; clearly things aren’t right in Darrien’s lungs.

As for Victor, well … I’m sure he’d be happy if someone finds him before he dies out there in the forest.

Blackstone airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on APTN.