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We Stand Together

We Stand Together. It's time to start the conversation. Between February 24 – March 7, help raise awareness about aboriginal issues, and get the conversation started.

It’s time to start the conversation.

Join Free The Children and Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) from February 24 to March 7, 2014, as we break down the barriers to starting a dialogue about Aboriginal culture, rights, experiences and history. Each weekday from February 24 to March 7, 2014, Free The Children will email a daily fact about Aboriginal Peoples’ culture, experiences, rights and history to all registered campaign participants. Each fact will be accompanied by background information to help you dig deeper to gain a better understanding of the experiences of Aboriginal Peoples. These daily facts will also be sent out in advance to help you prepare for the campaign.

Why should you join the conversation?

1,400,685 people across Canada identified themselves as either First Nations, Métis, or Inuit. Together, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples comprise the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population, with youth making up a large proportion. This generation of youth is an essential part of Canada’s future. It’s time to learn from our past and build a future together.

It’s time to start the conversation.

Join Free The Children and Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) from February 24 to March 7, 2014, as we break down the barriers to starting a dialogue about Aboriginal culture, rights, experiences and history.

Each weekday from February 24 to March 7, 2014, Free The Children will email a daily fact about Aboriginal Peoples’ culture, experiences, rights and history to all registered campaign participants. Each fact will be accompanied by background information to help you dig deeper to gain a better understanding of the experiences of Aboriginal Peoples. These daily facts will also be sent out in advance to help you prepare for the campaign.

Why should you join the conversation?

1,400,685 people across Canada identified themselves as either First Nations, Métis, or Inuit. Together, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples comprise the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population, with youth making up a large proportion. This generation of youth is an essential part of Canada’s future. It’s time to learn from our past and build a future together.


We Stand Together resources

Below you’ll find all of the resources you need for a successful We Stand Together campaign, including a how-to guide, educational resources and much more!

Daily Fact #1


Canadian Cree and Métis served as code-keepers for the Allies’ top-secret transmissions during the Second World War, sending and translating messages into Cree and then back into English.

Aboriginal Canadians During the World Wars

First Nations, Inuit and Métis all have a long history of standing beside non-Aboriginals to defend Canada in times of conflict. In fact, despite facing discrimination, one in three First Nations men of military age volunteered during the First World War, serving as soldiers, snipers, sappers and scouts on battlefields across Europe. The war brought together men from First Nations across Canada. Some of the first Aboriginal political organizations formed during this time of Aboriginal pride and solidarity.

When the Second World War broke out, Canada’s Aboriginal population again prepared to fight. At least 3,000 status Indians volunteered (likely many more), and a small number of these soldiers were recruited for a special American initiative. Along with American Navajo, these men became responsible for coding the Allies’ most important messages into the Cree language. The efforts of the Navajo are recounted in the 2002 film Windtalkers, starring Canadian Aboriginal actor Adam Beach from the Saulteaux Nation.

For decades after their service, the experiences of the code-talkers were classified and they could not even speak to their families about their service in the war. The Canadian Aboriginal code-talkers never received recognition, either from the American or Canadian government, for their contributions to the Allies.

Discussion Questions

Why do you think Aboriginal men and women volunteered to serve in the war, despite facing discrimination?

What do you think it would have been like to serve as an Aboriginal Canadian in an army mostly made up of non-Aboriginals?

Resources

Veterans Affairs Canada. “Canada Remembers Aboriginal Canadians in the Second World War.” http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/fact_sheets/aborigin

Library and Archives Canada. “Canada and the First World War.” http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/firstworldwar/025005-3200-e.html#a

Daily Fact #2


Compared to other Canadians, First Nations People’s homes are 90 times more likely to be without running water, and currently 90 First Nations communities cannot drink the water that comes out of their taps.

Water issues in First Nations communities

Access to clean water is usually considered a problem present only in developing countries, but for some families in Canada, this is a very real issue. Lack of proper infrastructure in First Nations communities has resulted in conditions usually seen only in developing communities. More than 3,000 homes on reserves across Canada lack running water. Two out of five of these homes are in Manitoba. In the Island Lake area of Manitoba, some Aboriginal families subsist on 10 litres of treated water a day per person, plus another 20 litres of untreated river water for laundry. The United Nations considers 50 litres per person the minimum to meet basic needs!

Even when Aboriginal communities have access to running water, it may not be clean enough to drink. Of the more than 600 First Nations communities south of 60 degrees parallel, 90 had a drinking water advisory as of December 31, 2013.

Discussion Questions

Why do so many of these communities have unsafe drinking water?

What would it be like not to have access to running water?

What are some of the challenges to not having access to clean water?

Resources

Health Canada. “Drinking Water and Wastewater.” hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-eau-eng.php

Free The Children. “Grade 3 Science and Technology: Conservation for Today and Future Generations.” freethechildren.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/FINALWST-Gr3-ScienceTech-Feb20.pdf

Winnipeg Free Press. No Running Water. winnipegfreepress.com/no-running-water/

Daily Fact #3


Hockey and lacrosse, Canada’s national sports, are based on games that Aboriginal Canadians have been playing for hundreds of years.

Games in Aboriginal Culture

Canada has two official sports: lacrosse for summer and hockey for winter. Both have been played by Aboriginals across North America for hundreds of years. Baggataway, the stick-and-ball game that lacrosse is based on, sometimes took place on fields that could be as long as a mile—it’s hard to get a breakaway in an arena that size, especially with up to 100 participants in a single game.

Historically, these games were an important part of Aboriginal culture and the upbringing of children. Many traditional games were designed to train physical, mental and social skills like agility, strength, hand-eye coordination, orienteering, cooperation and teamwork.

Discussion Questions

What skills have you learned from games?

Do games form an important part of culture? How so?

In the 20th Century, hockey became more popular than lacrosse because hockey leagues included more kinds of players, including Aboriginals. How can sports be used as opportunities to include and learn about others?

Resources

Library and Archives Canada. “Aboriginal Hockey.” http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/hockey/024002-2401-e.html

The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Lacrosse.” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/lacrosse/

The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Sports History.” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/sports-history/

Daily Fact #4


Almost half of non-Aboriginal Canadians living in cities have not heard or read anything about Indian residential schools?

Aboriginal Experiences in Residential Schools

Beginning in the late 1800s, Aboriginal children were removed from their homes and placed in residential schools run by the Canadian government and local churches. The schools attempted
to assimilate and “civilize” the Aboriginal children. Instances of abuse were widespread, and in overcrowded schools, tuberculosis was often deadly. Of the approximately 150,000 children who attended residential schools, at least 3,000 died.

The schools had a devastating effect on many Aboriginal families, which is still felt today. Two-thirds of urban Aboriginal Peoples say they have been affected by the residential schools, either personally or through a family member. In 2008 the Canadian government offered an apology, twelve years after the last residential school closed in 1996. Today, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada works to establish truth, healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of the residential schools.

Discussion questions

The residential school system had such a widespread impact on Aboriginal Peoples in the last century, so why do so many Canadians today not know about the schools?

Why is the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada so important?

Resources

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. trc.ca/

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2012. “They Came for the Children.” trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2039_T&R_eng_web[1].pdf

The United Church of Canada. Residential School Archive Project: The Children Remembered. thechildrenremembered.ca/schools-history/

Environics Institute. Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study. 2010. uaps.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/UAPS_Summary_Final.pdf

For more resources, check out the We Stand Together How-To Guide, available at freethechildren/westandtogether.com.

Daily Fact #5


Cape Dorset, the “capital of Inuit Art,” has a higher proportion of artists than any city in Canada—almost one quarter of its workforce are professional print-makers, carvers and artists.

Inuit Art in Canada

The Inuit and their ancestors have been producing carvings and other works of art for thousands of years. Because Inuit communities were often mobile—moving between hunting grounds in winter and summer—much of their art was small and portable. Fine carvings, often with spiritual or religious meanings, could be made from ivory, bone antler or wood.
When the Inuit first encountered Europeans, their carvings became a prized trade item. Inuit carvers began to produce more carvings as souvenirs for visiting sailors. This new kind of trade art didn’t have much to do with the spiritual carvings of the past.

Today, Inuit art remains popular in Canada, and the range of art produced has expanded to printmaking and new media. Cape Dorset, called the “capital of Inuit art” emerged in the 1950s as a hub for Inuit art. Its status has only grown over the decades.

Discussion Questions

What motivates an artist to produce new pieces of art?

How can art be used to express culture? Or history?

Resources

Cape Dorset. “Town History.” http://www.capedorset.ca/en/tourism_town_history.asp

The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Inuit Art.” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/inuit-art/

Canadian Broadcasting Company. “Cape Dorset named most ‘artistic’ municipality.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/cape-dorset-named-most-artistic-municipality-1.574437

Daily Fact #6


In the days of the fur traders, the Métis earned a special Cree nickname: “o-tee-paym-soo-wuk,” which means “their own boss.” They were known for being proud hunters and legendary trailblazers.

Métis History

The Métis were children born from relationships between Aboriginal mothers and European settler fathers. They earned their Cree nickname, “their own boss,” because of their independence and cultural pride, combining their Aboriginal and European backgrounds into a unique cultural identity.

They became trailblazers in the fur trade, adapting European technology to the wilderness and innovating new trade routes. And because of their unique cultural background, they became central to the relationships between settlers and Aboriginal populations.

The Métis are considered to be a unique culture on their own, not simply a mix of First Nations and European settler backgrounds. However, despite hundreds of years of history as a rich, complex culture, the Métis were not recognized as a distinct Aboriginal people until 1982.

Discussion Questions

What do you think it means to be your own boss?
How is Métis culture different from First Nations culture?

Resources:

Our Legacy. “Métis Culture.” Yvonne Vizina. http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/exhibit_metisculture

University of British Columbia: Indigenous Foundations. “Métis.” http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/?id=549

Métis Nation of Ontario. “Métis Historic Timeline.” http://www.metisnation.org/culture–heritage/metis-timeline

Daily Fact #7


First Nations People couldn’t vote until 1960—12 years after the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

First Nations and the vote

In 1918, Canadian women were finally granted the vote in federal elections. Then, in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. But despite this progress, First Nations People in Canada were considered federal “wards” and were not allowed to vote. The exceptions were veterans of the two world wars, but only if they gave up their Indian Status.

When Diefenbaker’s government first proposed extending the vote to First Nations, some Aboriginal community members objected; they worried that they would be forced to give up their Status and be forced to assimilate. After the First Nations received the vote in 1960, they went to the polls for the first time for a federal election in 1962.

Discussion questions

Why did the First Nations receive the vote so late in Canada’s history?
What would it be like not to be able to vote when you turned 18?
Resources

Diefenbaker Canada Centre. “The Enfranchisement of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.” usask.ca/diefenbaker/galleries/virtual_exhibit/enfranchisements_of_aboriginals/

Daily Fact #8


Aboriginal Peoples invented a meat and berry mixture call pemmican—the continent’s first energy bar!—and later shared the food with European settlers.

Pemmican: The Food That Fueled the Fur Trade

If the fur trade had an official food, it would have been pemmican. The Aboriginal Peoples of North America have been eating this high-energy snack for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, and for the European settlers they shared it with, it was love at first bite. Records show that by 1870, the Hudson’s Bay Company was buying 200,000 pounds of the dried meat and berry mixture every year to fuel the fur trade. In fact, pemmican was so important to the Canadian fur trade that a war broke out in 1814 when a proclamation was made banning its export from the Red River Colony.

Pemmican was a very practical food, made out of whatever meat was available—usually buffalo, moose, elk or deer. For berries, cranberries and saskatoon berries were most common, but cherries, currants, chokeberries and blueberries were sometimes used for pemmican at weddings.

Discussion Questions

Pemmican could be stored over the winter, or even longer, without going bad. How do you think this would have been useful for early Aboriginal Peoples, and later for the fur traders?

What are other examples of cultures adapting each other’s traditional foods?

Resources

Parks Canada. “Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada: Cultural Treasures.” http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ab/rockymountain/natcul/natcul2/06.aspx

The Manitoba Historical Society. “The Origins of Metis Nationalism and the Pemmican Wars, 1780-1821.” http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/forkssevenoaks/pemmicanwars.shtml

Daily Fact #9


Of the 87 Aboriginal Canadian languages spoken in the last century, 61 are endangered, 24 are vulnerable and two became extinct within living memory.

Aboriginal language and culture

Aboriginal communities across Canada have unique cultures and languages. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) counts a total of 87 Aboriginal Canadian languages, which doesn’t include the dialects associated with each.

In Aboriginal communities, language plays a significant role in cultural heritage, but the number of fluent speakers for many of these languages is rapidly dwindling. Some Aboriginal communities are finding new ways to revitalize the use of their language through technological tools. To learn about one such community, check out this video: youtube.com/watch?v=XmCTEzD6HE4&list=PL9seAzJtXcku0nkpu78W3CBrq0BVlBvu8

Discussion questions

What is the relationship between language and culture?

What are some of the challenges Aboriginal communities face when trying to preserve their languages?

Why is language so important for one’s cultural heritage?

Resources

UNESCO. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/index.php?hl=en&page=atlasmap%20http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/
CBC. “Once-Vibrant Aboriginal Languages Struggle for Survival.”
cbc.ca/news/canada/once-vibrant-aboriginal-languages-struggle-for-survival-1.1173659

Daily Fact #10


Inuit throat singing is more than music—it’s friendly competition between two singers trying to go the longest without laughing or stopping for breath.

Inuit Throat Singing

Because the Inuit recorded their history by telling stories rather than writing them down, it’s hard to tell exactly how throat singing originated. We do know that it was a game that women played, which supports the theory that it was invented as a kind of entertainment when the men were away hunting. Because each game evolves differently as the singers explore vocal rhythms and harmonies and try to imitate the sounds of the arctic wind, sea and land, it would have been a game that was fun to play again and again. Unlike most cultural forms of music, throat singing sometimes requires performers to sing more than one note at the same time using complicated vocal techniques.

In the 1900s, a number of Christian missionaries attempted to suppress Inuit culture by banning throat singing in various areas. When the bans were later lifted, Canada saw a major popular resurgence in throat singing, both in Inuit communities and Canada at large.

Discussion Questions

What are some of the unique characteristics of Inuit throat singing?

How do you think that a ban on Inuit throat singing would affect Inuit culture?
What are other examples you can think of where music is used as a game or an activity?
Resources

National Geographic. “Canada: Throat Singers.” http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/places/countries-places/canada-tc/inuit-throat-singing-eorg/

Watchers of the North. “A Short History of Throat Singing, Part 1.” http://www.watchersofthenorth.com/home/node/369

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