Author Archives: paul waterlander

Module 4- Post 5: “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women + Technology” : Paul Waterlander

There is nothing more tragic than realizing how many Indigenous Canadian women have been either subjected to horrible acts of violence, or murdered.  The Native Women’s Association of Canada reports that “between 2000 and 2008, Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in Canada. However, Aboriginal women make up only 3% of the female population.”  Something is clearly wrong here, and in the last few years has been put into the political spotlight.

Technology has assisted the families of the victims in getting the word out that these victims deserve justice.  Technology has helped get the word out to a large part of Canada’s population via Twitter, FaceBook, Wikipedia etc… The spotlight put on this issue has also pushed the story into the mainstream media sites like the CBC and even across the Atlantic to the BBC.  So much political pressure has been brought to bear, that Justin Trudeau made an election promise that if elected, his government would create a commission to investigate the missing and murdered Indigenous women cases that are not yet closed, and put efforts into better protecting them from acts of violence.  Before this last election, this issue was not on Canada’s radar.  P.M. Stephen Harper was castigated for his inaction when it came to this issue.  Technology helped make this issue more visible.  Most Canadians have now been alerted to this issue, and a major reason has been the use of technology in spreading the message via social media.

Here are many links where this issue can be found on the Internet:



Module 4- Post 4: “Is The Crown at War With Us?” : Paul Waterlander

Nobody surpasses Canadian Aboriginal (Abenaki) filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin when it comes to spotlighting political issues that impact Canada’s Aboriginal population.

Is the Crown at War With Us?  is yet another example of the power technology provides when it comes to creating a political voice to those normally oppressed.

This film centres around the on-going battle of the Miq’mac Nation’s Aboriginal right to fish for lobster in New Brunswick.

Again, Obomsawin uses her access as an Aboriginal filmmaker to go into the Miq’mac communities and interview the people directly.  You see and hear the emotion and the plea by the Miq’mac on how they just want to have the opportunity to carry on their traditions, eat a healthier diet based on nature’s bounty, and perhaps make a little bit of extra cash by selling a few lobsters every year.

It is shocking to hear that the Miq’mac have a Canadian Supreme Court ruling that allows them the right to make a “modest living” fishing for lobster, yet the Canadian government continues to arrest the Miq’mac who are practicing their Aboriginal right to hunt and fish.  Tempers flare as the non-Aboriginal fishermen in the area protest and cut the ropes off of Miq’mac lobster traps as they blame the Miq’mac for getting special privileges they do not get in the lobster fishing season.

This video would be an excellent choice to show in a classroom.  Very powerful and eye-opening.  Obomsawin is a master in story-telling, and investigates the history and the heart of the issue which the mainstream media often ignore.

You can watch the entire film for free here (stream only, not downloadable unless you want to pay.)

Module 4-Post 3: “Idle No More and Social Media”: Paul Waterlander

Social media has created a tool for Indigenous people all over the world to organize politically that span both time and location.  The Idle No More movement has been one of Canada’s most successful political movements ever to spotlight the political issues Indigenous Canadians face.

Idle No More was created by 5 Cree women who vowed enough was enough when it came to the Canadian government threatening to pass omnibus bills that would decrease pollution protection for Canada’s lakes and rivers, ignoring historic treaty promises, and dragging their heels when it comes to missing and murdered Aboriginal females.

Technology like Twitter. FaceBook, and Internet allowed this small group to organize and expand their political voices.  This newspaper article from the Toronto Star traces how social media can be harnessed for maximum political power.

Here are some key quotes:

  • Erica Lee, 22, is a University of Saskatchewan student who has been an activist for most of her life. People like Lee, young and tech-savvy, are the face of this movement. And social media is the tool that’s allowing them to speak, she said.

         “Traditionally, it’s the chiefs and the people in power that have the ability to speak to the media,                  whereas now, people like me — university students who have been involved in this kind of stuff —             are getting interviewed,” Lee said.

       “Social media allows the people who are actually directly involved and impacted by these kinds of              movements . . . to have their voices heard.”

  •  “It gives (people), especially in northern communities and rural First Nations communities, a            chance to be connected with events and be inspired by other peoples’ events that they might not         have access to, that they aren’t seeing on TV and in newspapers,” Lee said.

             The Facebook page started Nov. 29 and now has more than 63,000 likes and photos from                             protests and rallies all over the world.

  • Megan Boler, a professor at the University of Toronto who studies the Occupy movement, said “Occupy would not have taken off” without the physical encampments in public places and face-to-face contact.

    “The digital divide that exists between First Nations people in Canada and those of us who are living in urban areas is huge.

    “Because of that digital divide, no doubt there are hundreds of thousands of First Nations people . . . who are not expressing themselves through social media.”


This article can be used in the classroom to start investigating how social media is really changing the face of political protests and giving voice to people who in older days were silenced, ignored and oppressed.


Here is the link:


Here is the Idle No More website:


Module 4 – Post 2: “Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance”: Paul Waterlander

My final research paper will focus on how technology has allowed Indigenous political voices to be amplified in 2017.

One way to do this is through the use of a well-made documentary.  One Indigenous Canadian filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin raised in the Abenaki culture as a young girl.  She has evolved into one of the most famous, professionally recognized, and outspoken filmmakers of our time.

One of her many films is titled Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance.  The film chronicles the very political showdown called the Oka Crisis that erupted in Oka, Quebec in 1990.  This film is a behind-the-scene look at the Mohawk Warrior side of this dispute.  When the crisis was in full-swing, the mainstream media basically ignored the Mohawk side of this story, and instead, the media presented the stand-off from the government side only.  The Mohawk Warriors were “domestic terrorists”.  Obomsawin’s film shows the complex colonial history of how this stand-off really began over 270 years ago when the Catholic Church basically stole Mohawk land in the Oka area.  The shameful way the governments of  both Canada and Quebec handle the urgent issue of land claims fuels the stand-off in 1990.

Obomsawin relies on interviewing the Mohawk throughout the film.  By the end of the film, it is obvious that somebody is not telling the truth about land theft, or Aboriginal title to the lands the Mohawk have traditionally called home.  This film is powerful in that the political issues are brought right out to the audience in a way that leaves you wondering who the real “domestic terrorists” really are.  This is not the story Canadians were told on the nightly news.

Here is a short trailer:

Module 4 – Post 1: What Western Education Did Not Teach Me: Paul Waterlander

This is a very interesting and topical article for any ETEC 521 student.  It was printed in The Walrus magazine, and written by Indigenous writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.  The article revolves around the issue of decolonizing Canada’s education system, as well as questioning why it seems that Western/European knowledge is seen as “superior” to Indigenous knowledge.

The author writes about her experiences of spending two years with 25 Nishnabeg elders who have spent all their lives living in close connection with their traditional land.

The author describes the naivete of early research done in the 1980’s in tandem with white anthropologists to document their culture:

“Traditional ecological knowledge was in its heyday in the eyes of white policy-makers, academics, and even Aboriginal organizations. The idea was that if we documented on paper the ways that we use the land, policy-makers would then use the information to minimize the impacts of development on our lands and ways of life. The idea was that clearly documented land use would bring about less dispossession, as if dispossession occurs by accident or out of not knowing, rather than being the strategic structure it is.”

The author gives high marks to a non-Indigenous anthropologist, Dr. Paul Driben, who worked at Lakehead University in Ontario.  Dr. Driben did not take the stance that he was the “creator of all knowledge”.   This is how he was described:

“Paul did something that has stayed with me and has always informed my approach to working with communities and to research. He was invited into the community to do a specific task, which in the end he did, but he actively and continually divested himself of the false power the academy bestowed upon him when he drove onto the reserve. He asked the Elders if they thought the project was a good idea. They said it was. He asked them how best to proceed. They told him. He asked them if they would be the decision makers. They agreed, and then they were, and he got out of their way.”

The author spent two years with the elders to create a new type of map, not one made in the western-style:

“During the next two years, the Elders, who in my memory are now eagles, took me under their wings. I wrote down on large topographical maps every place name for every beach, bay, peninsula, and island they could remember—hundreds and hundreds of names. We marked down all of their traplines, and the ones before that and the ones before that. We marked down hunting grounds and fishing sites, berry patches, ricing camps, and medicines spots. We marked down birthplaces and graves. We marked down places where stories happened. We marked down ceremonial sites, places where they lived, places where life happened. We also marked down the homes of their relatives—places where moose and bears lived, nesting spots and breeding grounds. We marked down travel routes, spring-water spots, songs and prayers. Places where feet touched the earth for the first time. Places where promises were made. The place where they blocked the tracks during the summer of the so-called Oka Crisis.”

This article would be an excellent read for any ETEC 521 student.  Forces you to recognize that there are many worldviews out there, and claiming any one as “superior” shuts our eyes to divergent ways of thinking.


Module 3 – Post 5: Modern First Nations Art: Paul Waterlander

It is so true that art reflects a culture’s values and history.  This article discusses some of Canada’s up and coming Indigenous artists.  I was very impressed with the variation of mediums used.  Artist Brian Jungen uses Nike running shoes to re-fashion traditional masks, and even a whale skeleton.

I think art is a fantastic window into the a people’s culture.  Teachers can use the article and photos of art to compliment any class discussion on culture or art.




                                                      Robert Davidson – Eagle Tranforming



                                                                      Fred Degrace: “Woman”


Daphne Odjig: “Bad Medicine Woman”




Module 3- Post 4: Gen. Cornwallis Statue: Paul Waterlander

I saw this interesting article from the The Walrus magazine.  There is a debate raging in Canada over who gets to select historical honours in the form of either statues ( General Cornwallis in Halifax), naming rooms in Parliament (Removing the name “Langevin Block”), or even street names (Trutch Street in Victoria, BC).

Supporters of a statue of British General Cornwallis claim that to remove this statue “white washes” history.  A number of Mi’Kmaw members say it is a symbol of hate and racism, and needs to be removed.

Here are some selected quotes from the article:

  • As she worked, a large white man approached her, a motorcycle helmet tucked under his arm. To Paul, his aggression felt palpable, so she asked him to leave. He refused. Instead, he began to lecture her, defending Cornwallis and what the man saw as his legacy. Paul knew better, of course. Unable to quell the Mi’kmaq resistance on the peninsula in 1749, Cornwallis put a bounty on the scalp of every Mi’kmaq person in mainland Nova Scotia, including children. Put simply, he wanted them gone.
  • That’s why Paul joined the movement to take down Cornwallis statue, a struggle that has gone on for more than three decades in Halifax. “There’s the oppression of living in a society that doesn’t have racial inclusion,” she says, “and then there is this symbol in the middle of the park just to fortify those messages.”
  • While she admits taking down monuments won’t suddenly bring about reconciliation with Indigenous communities, she says doing so would go a long way in paving the road towards a better future. “If you want to talk about reconciliation,” she says, “those reminders need to be taken away.”
  • Sir John A. Macdonald, whose face is plastered on our ten-dollar bills. He was also an early proponent of the residential school system and other genocidal policies against Indigenous peoples. As famine hit Indigenous communities, for instance, Macdonald bragged about denying them food as a way to clear the way for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. “We are doing all we can,” he once said, “by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”

As teachers, this article can be used to open conversations on how Canada selects people we wish to honour.  It will also give the Mi’Kmaw perspective on this statue as seen through the eyes of activist Tayla Fern Paul.

Here is the link to the article:



Module 3 – Post 3: “Did You Know” Videos: Paul Waterlander

This series of videos are very effective in helping to dispel common “myths” that are found all over Canada today when it comes to Indigenous Canada.  I have used these videos in my history classes with good outcomes.  I usually stop the video right after the narrator asks a question like: “Did the Canadian government ever outlaw Aboriginal sacred ceremonies?”  I then ask my own class to give their response.  When we are done trying to answer, I hit the “play” button and we listen to what the real answer is.  It is a good and non-threatening way to provide students with the facts of our nation’s history.  For many, this will be quite illuminating.  Many of these “myths” about Indigenous Canada are based on ignorance, and with a correction of the “myth” with real facts, this could be the cold-water-in-the-face some of our population really needs to hear to wake up because status quo will not change if the dominant culture determines their world based on myths and stereotypes and errors.


Module 3 – Post 2: Restaurant Serves Seal Meat Controversey: Paul Waterlander

I saw this article at the Huffington Post Canada website.  A restaurant called Kukum Kitchen owned by an Indigenous Canadian began serving raw seal meat as part of its menu.  The decision to serve seal meat was instantly met with protest by non-Indigenous protestors.

The menu offering seal meat was noticed by non-Indigenous environmentalists who began a boycott campaign against the restaurant to pressure them to remove seal meat from their menu.  A petition has already attracted 4,500 signatures.

“Toronto-based Anishinaabe artist Aylan Couchie launched a counter-petition in response, which has been shared by musician Tanya Tagaq and has nearly matched the support of the original campaign.”

“Lenore Newman, the Canada Research Chair for Food Security and Environment and author of “Speaking in Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey,” considers some of the practices in raising chicken and pork for consumption to be far more cruel — and far more common — than the seal hunt.

 Even if (the original petition) is well-intentioned, there are literally thousands of restaurants in Toronto that serve meat that is produced in much worse ways,” says Newman, adding that seal meat is an easy target for criticism because its roots are Inuit.”
I do think there is some underlying racism in our culture around other people’s food. In Canada we have this huge history of oppressing Indigenous cuisine, and telling Indigenous people how they should be eating. Controlling people’s food is about controlling them.”

“Like Newman, he thinks there’s some degree of hypocrisy in animal rights advocates who protest the seal hunt rather than factory-farmed chickens or industrial abattoirs.”If (seals) weren’t cute, we would probably have a much easier job.”

This would be a great article to use to begin classroom discussion on the topic of food use and cultural practice.



(A photo showing the restaurant Kukum’s Kitchen.  Indigenous chef John Shawana shown next to menu offering seal tartare.)

Module 3- Post 1: Repatriating Stolen Artefacts: Paul Waterlander

I saw this article in the Canadian magazine Walrus.  The topic is the struggle for Canadian First Nations trying to regain ownership of thousands and thousands of cultural artefacts that have been stolen away from the owners throughout the darkest days of colonial rule.

One example of a stolen artefact was a birchbark canoe recently found in storage in an English manor house.  An ancestor had taken the Anishinaabe canoe sometime in the late 1700’s, and brought back home to his home in Cornwall, UK.  Anishinaabe artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson felt an instant connection to the old canoe.

“It became a metaphor for me as an Indigenous woman in Canada in 2017,” she says. “It feels like everything has been stolen and you have to get it back.” In fact, there are sacred objects belonging to Canada’s Indigenous peoples dotting the globe, including thousands inside our own borders. They are displayed in museums, or packed away in storage, hidden in garages, both forgotten and remembered, depending on who is doing the thinking. There is no legislation about where they should go and no funding for Indigenous groups to bring them home either, let alone create their own museums.

Is is heartening to see that more and more Canadian museums are beginning to work with First Nations to repatriate these cultural treasures.  The CEO of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC supports the return of these artefacts, but sees some challenges: “Museums in Canada have a “great will” to repatriate artefacts says Jack Lohman, RBCM’s CEO, but he adds that there are simply not enough resources. If the government wants to commit to reconciliation efforts, more funding is needed for wide scale repatriation.”

This is an easy to read article that can be used in the classrooms to promote discussion around the topic of repatriation.


Here is the link:


(This totem pole was stolen from Haisla First Nations by European explorers in the late 1800’s and sold to a museum in Sweden!  The pole was repatriated to the original village after negotiations were made with the museum.)