First Nation Studies Program Newsletter

The 2nd edition of the Raven has been published by the First Nation Studies Program! Have a read to see all the happenings during the 2013/2014 academic year. Highlights include the very first First Nation Studies student directed seminar course entitled ‘The Politics of Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation in Canada’, as well as the the inclusion of the ‘First Peoples Writing’ Blog at the 2014 Student Leadership Conference at UBC.

Click here to access.

Don’t Call Me Indian by Anna McKenzie

Don’t Call Me Indian

Hungry eyes,
Licking your lips,
To save us from ourselves
You name big names
You all seem to know each other
You all laugh the same
And speak about us like we aren’t here
But we are, and we are listening
And we are relearning our ways
While simultaneously learning yours
I said don’t call me Indian
We need partners, not parents
Your unwanted fascination
Studying us and our losses
Repairing the damage that has not been forgotten
By us
It lives, It breathes, We Protect It,
We Remember It
We Never Forget
Your written words don’t resonate
Our knowledge runs through our veins
Pumps through our bodies
That Belong to Us
Connects to the land
That Belongs to Us
Informs our decisions
That Belong to Us
And will teach our children
That Belong to Us


Call Out for Blog Editors and Contributors

Hello to the FNSSA Community! 

We hope that you are all enjoying your summers! The FNSSA’s Blog team is currently looking for 2 assistant editors to help in maintaining and uploading content to our Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Blog! You’ll handle submissions coming in from students that will be uploaded to the site, and maintain News, Events, and Contact ages. While experience in blogging/web production/design and social media are assets, they are not mandatory. We’re just looking for a couple of cool people interested in helping out for a couple hours a week throughout the year. This is a great opportunity for students hoping to get involved but aren’t sure how. If you’re interested in getting involved and would like more details, email or, or send a message to the FNSSA Facebook Page. You do not have to be a current member or First Nations Studies Student to be considered.


You get to hang out with some of the coolest people on campus! You will be up and up on all the latest happenings within the UBC Indigenous community! You’ll gain practical skills! Did I mention you get to hang out with really really cool people? Plus you’ll become a member of (one of) the best club(s) on campus!


‘Garbage Baggage’ from Halfbreed’s Reasoning

I wasn’t going to major in Native Studies.

I just wasn’t going to.

When I came to university, I had decided that I was going to earn a “legitimate” major: economics, political science, anything but Native Studies.  I wasn’t going to major in Native Studies because I didn’t want to be that Native kid.

I came to university with four garbage bags of luggage: two were my clothes and bedding and the two others were my internalized racism and shame.

I struggled so much in my first semester of university.  I felt disconnected from my classmates who seemed to know way more than I did in these topics.  I felt disconnected from home and I desperately clung to any I could that made me feel less away and more at home where I was.  I failed two courses my first semester: French and Economics.  I struggled to grasp and understand the topics at hand, I felt nothing towards them.  I hated university, I regretted coming my second week into school.  I drank with my friends, I gossiped with my roommate, and I didn’t do my homework.  I spent nights crying, thinking that I didn’t belong here.  I was a fake, an imposter, and that my failing was just proof that I needed to go home and stay home.  I needed to just give up and realize this place wasn’t for me.

I left my first semester of university with 46% and a hope and prayer I didn’t fail out.  It was that Christmas break at home I spent crying because I thought I had let my family down that I realized that  to make it in this system, that I had to fight to be here.  So I pretended to know what the hell I was talking about.  From Kant to Macroeconomics, I pretended that I could keep up with kids who seemed to be so far ahead of me and my Northern education.  These kids from the city knew so much.  I had no Native friends, no community, no connection, no feeling of belonging.  I made friends, and to this day, my friends I made in my first year are still near and dear to my heart, but something was missing.

In my second year I took the plunge and enrolled in First Nations Studies 100 and my entire academic and personal life changed: my world was turned upside down.  I sat in lectures with students who looked like they came from where I’m from, students who were just as mixed-up in this institution like I was.  I re-learned my history, I learned things about myself and my people that I never knew.  I finally felt connected to something at this school, I felt belonging.  I felt really fucking angry. I was angry because I was feeling feelings that thus far, the education system said I shouldn’t.  I was angry because I realized that everything I have learned about my country was a lie.  I was angry because I had realized just how much I was ashamed of who I am as a Metis woman and student.

Through my degree I have learned how to be angry.  I learned to be angry at the systems that made me feel so ashamed of myself, I learned how to identify them and resist them.  I learned acceptance and the responsibility I have to this land.  But, yet, I think most importantly, I’ve learned how to love: myself, my family, and my community (in all its forms) just as they are.  I have learned that colonial trauma presents itself in our lives in so many different ways, that we have to learn to love ourselves and others as they heal.  We have to have patience and understanding for one another because we are all on a rough and complicated journey to a destination that is still undefined.

Now that I’m graduating (god willing), I look back to my first year at UBC and I realize how scared I was to be here, how disconnected, and how tough I pretended to be.  I’m not saying that every Indigenous student needs to major in Native Studies, I’m saying that there’s an obvious flaw in the education system that I didn’t learn these integral things until I was 19.

Now that it’s over, I realize that even though I have no idea what to do with my life, I have fundamentally changed as a person.  My degree has given me so much and now I want to begin giving back.

It is coming to a point in my life, in all our lives as graduating students, that we have to learn to begin a new journey.  I am thankful everyday that the knowledge I have now has taught me how to fight, love, and resist through my next adventure.

Samantha Nock is a recent graduate of the First Nations Studies Program at UBC. She assisted in starting up the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal as Editor, and served as Vice-President of the First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA). Her personal blog, Halfbreed’s Reasoning, has been shared across Canada and engages with Métis identity politics, academia, representation, and more. Her blog can be found here.



My desire to lead
Is born from adversity
And personal revelations
About the capacity for an individual to change.

My faith
Is nourished
By the ever present Gitchi Manitou
Whom instills seeds of wisdom
And rainfalls of abundance.
The abundance is triggered by a belief,
A belief in the unknown,
A belief in the unseen forces that want to do good through me.

My life is a reflection
Of the infinite intelligence
That resides within each of us.
The Creator hears a genuine prayer
And seeks me out.
For I,
I beam the light of truth and compassion for my people.
The compounded efforts of my sweat, blood, and tears will move mountains,
Overcome any obstacles,
And fulfill the 7 fires prophecy.

I will lead a cultural revolution,
I will bring back the ways of my ancestors,
I will make them proud.

Shawn Shabaquay
Anishinaabe Nation

Shawn Shabaquay is Anishinaabe from Wabigoon Lake First Nation. He is a 3rd year student at UBC majoring in Sociology and minoring in FN Studies. He is also the President of the Indigenous Students Association and is currently working on bringing more culturally relevant events on campus.


Breathe Life by Crystal Smith de Molina

Breathe Life

Walkways are silence
An eerie feeling looms
I look around and see death
No worse
Life without death

You can almost hear the screams of the artifacts
Screams to mother earth
From which they were born
From which they belong

People say they are just items
But protocol
Aboriginal protocol says different
We breathe life into everything we make
Breathe life
Totem poles
Each possessing power
Each possessing life
Each possessed

Museums preserve life
Museums prevent death
Museums break the cycle of life
Break the cycle of death

Circular to

Circular to

Each step
Eyes widen
Heart slows
Thump thump    Thump thump… …thump… … …thump
As if my body
Is caught between
Life Death
Sprayed with chemicals
Or not moved
Just  always there

Just lifeless



A broken cycle
A devastating cycle
A deathless cycle
A cycle of constant
Even though the only constant should be


FNSSA Elections & Call for New Members

Interested in getting involved on campus and being a part of an exciting student community?

The First Nation Studies Student’s Association will be holding general elections at the beginning of March 2014. We would like to invite any new or interested students to attend our general meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4th at the UBC Global Lounge to get to know current FNSSA members and learn about new and upcoming events and opportunities. Membership for the 2014/2015 session of FNSSA is $5.00. Throughout the academic year, we meet on Tuesdays at 6:30 to discuss current events and opportunities on and off campus. FNSSA is very engaged with the First Nation Studies Program as well as with many other clubs and organizations within the UBC community.

Please LIKE our Facebook page for more information on current events or email us at

Click her for the link to the Facebook Event Page


Happy New Year!

From all members of the First Nations Studies Student Association, the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal, and here at the blog, we hope your New Year is off to a great start, and we would love to share it with you! Check out some of the information below to see how to see how you can get involved.

2014 Student Leadership Conference

On January 11th, blog members Anna McKenzie and Matt Ward will be doing a highlighted project presentation at the 2014 Student Leadership Conference on their processes and experiences as contributing members to the Journal and Blog projects throughout the past year and offer their own advice and experiences when it comes to becoming student leaders. Be sure to register soon, as entry is limited! Register here!

FNSP Courses

Still looking for a course that will squeeze into your schedule? Look no further! Check out course descriptions of some very informative courses being offered by the First Nations Studies Program here at UBC! Space is limited so be sure to do so quickly here.

FNSSA Facebook Page

To keep up to date with upcoming events, meetings, and important conversations happening in and around the UBC and Vancouver community, be sure to like FNSSA’s Facebook page.

Blog Submissions Open (As Always)

As per usual, the blog is always accepting creative, academic, and intersectional approaches to Indigenous issues and we would love to hear from you! If you think you have some content that would look great on the website, just send us an email with your content attached and you could be featured! Send your work to We look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

To conclude, we would like to wish you all the best in the upcoming second semester, and hope to see you around campus at one of our events! If you’d like more information on how to get involved, don’t hesitate to email us here on the blog, or contact us through our Facebook page!

Happy New Year!

Pipe Dreams by Danette Jubinville

Every time I enter the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), I feel hopeful that this time it will be different. I feel good, at first, in the minimalist space, enveloped by concrete, natural light, and high ceilings. Tucked between cedars, on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the windy Pacific, MOA is located on a powerful, spiritual piece of land. But it doesn’t take long before the bitterness and resentment start to wash over me. I see and hear that MOA is trying. Artworks by Musqueam artists stand at the entrance, evidence that a more positive relationship is being forged between the institution and the Indigenous peoples on whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory the institution stands. But as soon as I enter through the doors, and I feel the spirits of the totems standing there, so far from home, I start to feel sick. Uprooted. That is the word that came to me on my first visit, and it is the word that still haunts me. I come upon my partner’s family house post, and I speak to my great-grandfather-in-law. Meegwich moshum. Thank-you for standing here. You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered. By the time I enter the multiversity gallery I can’t keep the disdain off my face. I remind myself that MOA is doing some great work to create space for relationship building. Native youth give tours. Some of the display cases are curated in partnership with First Nations. But the walls and the drawers are so crammed full of items, I wonder how the spirits have room to breathe. To move. To dance. There are so many masks, drums, carvings, baskets, and tools it is as if I have entered an ethnographic hoarding situation. Why are these here? How did they get here? Who do these belong to? I am not the first person to ask these questions. They are questions folks who tour the museum, who write about the museum, and who work at the museum constantly ask.

Moving on, the tour starts to get more personal. I come upon the small section devoted to the Plains. My people. A relative’s moccasins. A relative’s headdress. A relative’s basket.  I look closely at the glass display cases.  If I am entirely honest, my agitation is coupled with a bit of desperation.  I am looking for medicines, looking for signs of my relatives. It is part of my search to recover my own Nahkawe-Nehiyaw identity, something that was also seized temporarily by colonization.  I am looking for something that might help quell the ancestral grief that lives in my bones, if just for today. I put my hand on the cool copper handle of the drawer beneath the glass case. I have heard these drawers are special. Imported from Europe. Very expensive, you know. The drawer slides open gracefully.  I almost cry out when I see what is inside. Sacred pipes. I am told that Pipes were given to the world to help to heal the people. Pipes are meant to smoked, to carry our prayers to Gihzwe Manido. Pipes are meant to be in ceremony. Pipes are meant to be lovingly carried in beaded buckskin, and feasted.  And here they are, sitting in a bourgeois anthropological museum, objects of curiosity.


It has been over a month since I saw the pipes at the MOA, and I am still thinking about them. I see how much healing my Indigenous communities, friends, and family need, and I know those pipes can help to do that work. It is hard for me to know that they are in there, unable to carry out their original instructions.  I could hear the pipes singing songs of sadness, loneliness…their spirits are hungry for love.

Following my encounter with the pipes at MOA, I felt inspired to respond. I drew a comic strip, titled “pipe dreams”, which allowed me to explore new possibilities through imagination and fantasy. While pipe dreams is clearly a critique of museums, and MOA in particular, it is not meant to discount the good work that is being done in those institutions.  The Museum of Anthropology is a world leader for its progressive policy reform and extensive efforts to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples, thanks to Indigenous activism and visionary work done by museum staff. Community outcry to past displays of sacred ceremonial objects has resulted in teachable moments for both the institutions and the public. Today, an empty display case in the Multiversity Gallery makes a statement that educates visitors on respect for cultural protocol. Evidence of the institution’s humility, many exhibits at MOA provoke interrogation of museum practices. And perhaps the most encouraging aspect of MOA is that it has demonstrated a commitment to working with the Indigenous community.  In these ways, MOA has shown that museums can simultaneously be sites of colonization and decolonization.

And yet, I cannot ignore the way I felt in my body and spirit during my last visit.  Sometimes I wonder, why do museums have to exist, as a given?  I see the value in galleries displaying objects, art, and artifact with permission of those who made them (or their descendants). But for those items that were stolen or otherwise dishonourably acquired, for the items that are shown with question marks on their identification cards…do those items have to be kept? It cannot be ignored that MOA is a multi-million dollar facility that draws in tourists. What message is being sent to those who do not have the tools to think so critically, or those who are not so familiar with the nuanced histories and context of MOA and its collection? While those questions are important, the questions that are really on my mind, and that I mean to pose with pipe dreams, are this: What are our responsibilities, as Indigenous peoples, to objects that were given to use to care for by our ancestors, but are now locked behind glass?  And, knowing that they may or may not eventually return to our communities, how can we feed their spirits?

Danette Jubinville, 3rd Year FNSP Major, Saulteaux, Cree, French, German, Jewish, Scottish & English ancestry

To recognize trickster by Crystal Smith de Molina

To recognize trickster

Trickster was a crafty spirit
Shape shifting
He took many forms in the past
Raven, coyote, …
In the past he was

In the present he is
Today we look around
His face all around
He is inside our bodies
He hides behind our eyes
Hides behind our eyes
Our eyes

We see stereotypes through our eyes
We look at others and Judge
Judge their looks
Apply the appropriate stereotype
Act according to that stereotype

It is that trickster that creates stereotypes
He creates them within our eyes
So we see nothing but them
A clever spirit ready to create problems
Ready to separate
Ready to judge
Ready to fight

However we are clever
We are wise
We know right from wrong
We know what hurts
Know suffering
Know pain
Know bad judgment

And we know that no is different than know
That we should say no suffering
No pain
No judgement
And know right from wrong
We should take it upon ourselves to know people
To love people
To cherish our lives with each other
And to walk with soft steps
To recognize trickster
To pull that clever spirit from our bodies
To clean our eyes with truth
To know ourselves

It is up to us to know trickster
And to say no more
To be idle no more
To remember the true purpose
Of tricksters actions
Which is to teach
To become knowledgeable
To say no to stereotypes
And to know each other

Crystal Smith de Molina