Debunking Misconceptions About First Nation Totem Poles

There’s lots of lore and misconceptions about First Nation totem poles. In this article we address six of the more common misconceptions.

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What Does Indigenous Knowledge Mean? A Compilation of Attributes.

What does Indigenous knowledge (IK) mean? That’s a big question because “there are approximately 370 million Indigenous people in the world, belonging to 5,000 different groups, in 90 countries worldwide. Indigenous people live in every region of the world...” [1] At this point, there isn’t a hard and fast definition accepted and recognized by all; it can mean different things to different societies and cultures.

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What are Gladue Reports?

Indigenous people account for less than five percent of the Canadian population, yet represent 25 per cent of the total inmate population. Canada is not alone, however, in having over representation of Indigenous inmates. In Australia and New Zealand the rate of incarceration of Indigenous people is also disproportionately high.

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Working with Indigenous Communities: ONT SPCA Launches Year of the Northern Dog Campaign

The abundance of dogs in both non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities in northern Canada is an escalating animal welfare issue. This article takes a look at the initiatives of the Ontario SPCA to work with Indigenous communities to provide animal welfare services and programs to facilitate a solution. The Ontario SPCA and partners have just launched “The Year of the Northern Dog” campaign to bring awareness, attention, and action to the overpopulation of dogs in the north

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Canada’s Complicated History with First Nation Totem Poles

Canada has a complicated history with the totem pole. Totems have been misunderstood, coveted, stolen, quashed, copied, and celebrated.

The first recorded mention of a pole, which was a house pole,  was on Langara Island in the Haida village of Dadans, c.1790, by John Bartlett, who wrote: 

“We went ashore where one of their winter houses stood. The entrance was cut out of a large tree and carved all the way up and down. The door was made like a man's head and the passage the house was between his teeth and was built before they knew the use of iron."

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A Snapshot of On-Reserve Clean Water Issues

In Canada, access to clean drinking water is considered a given. A given, I suspect, that is frequently taken for granted by those who enjoy clean drinking water at the twist of the tap. For thousands of Indigenous Peoples, clean water at the twist of tap is an elusive dream. Entire generations in some communities have grown up under various degrees of drinking water advisories (DWA). The Neskantaga First Nation, with a population of about 240, in northern Ontario has had a DWA in place since 1996. That means one full generation has grown up under a DWA and a second generation is now growing up having never turned on the tap for a glass of water.

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Communications with Indigenous leaders - Letter Writing Tips

When communicating cross-culturally there are certain sensitivities around language used in the letter and expectations placed on the recipient of the letter. In this article we focus on some guidelines for writing a letter to request a meeting with an Indigenous leader and provide some tips, as well as some do’s and don’ts.

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8 Things You Need to Know About On-Reserve Housing Issues

 Did you know that adequate housing was recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Did you also know that one in five (19.4%) of Aboriginal people lived in a dwelling that was in need of major repairs in 2016? Or that In 2016, 18.3% of Aboriginal people lived in housing that was crowded? [1] Those stats are not for a developing country. 

Those stats are for Canada, which ranked as  the 24th wealthiest country in the world in 2017. In 2014, James Anaya, then-Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that housing in First Nation communities “has reached a crisis level.” [2]

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What is Indigenous Identity?

We identify ourselves in many ways - by gender, generation, ethnicity, cultural, religion, profession/employment, nationality, locality, language, hobby (biker, equestrian, knitter etc) and so on. We rarely identify ourselves in one category - it’s usually a combination of identities.

Identifying as an Indigenous person brings additional layers, complexities, and considerations. The added layers of identity can include, but are not limited to: whether or not a person has status, which nation, band, clan, or tribal council or treaty office they belong to, and whether or not they live in their home community or have migrated to an urban centre. 

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3 Rs of an Effective Indigenous Pre- Engagement Strategy

The foundation of meaningful engagement with an Indigenous community is trust. Earning that trust will take time, consistency, and transparency. The key to understanding why trust is not readily given lies in the history of Indigenous relations in Canada. It is next to impossible to respectfully and effectively engage with an Indigenous community without knowledge of this history.

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