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 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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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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Definition of Smudging to Indigenous Protocol - Our Top 10 articles in 2017

In 2017, we had just over 816,000 visitors to our blog Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples® looking for information on a wide variety of topics related to Indigenous Peoples. Here are the top 10 most read articles from the past year, arranged with the most read first. 


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7 Not so Secret advantages of First Nations Radio

Here's an article shared by Juanita Muwanga:

 

Gimaa radio CHYF 88.9, which broadcasts from M'chigeeng First Nation, started as a dream of the late Carl Beam, an internationally known Indigenous artist whose works dealt with colonialism, language, and the spirit. As a child he was sent to Garnier Residential school and learned firsthand the power of language, and what happens to a people when their own is denied them.

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Why are Indigenous leaders called chiefs?

Definition: Chief (n.)

c. 1300, "head, leader, captain; the principal or most important part of anything;" from Old French chief "leader, ruler, head" of something, "capital city" (10c., Modern French chef), from Vulgar Latin *capum, from Latin caput "head," also "leader, chief person; summit; capital city" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Meaning "head of a clan" is from 1570s; later extended to American Indian tribes. Commander-in-chief attested from 1660s. [1]


In October 2017 a school district board in Ontario passed a motion to remove “chief” from all job titles out of respect for Indigenous communities. The action was, according to a school district spokesperson, a proactive step towards reconciliation. There was a mixed reaction to the move but the most common response, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, was confusion.

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