Week 5: Indigenous People Matter

Beyond the Text, found within the text: Fashpoint Events
“…As can be seen from the analysis of Oka and Ipperwash, these acts of Aboriginal resistance serve as wake-up calls to governments. They are sharp and clear signals that Aboriginal Peoples are not going to take it on the chin any more, that there are fundamental flaws in the conditions of Aboriginal communities and the treatment of their rights that governments must address. For Aboriginal Peoples, they strengthen the sense of agency, a sense that their communities and governments have the primary responsibility for protecting their rights and advancing their interests.”
A paragraph taken from This is an Honour Song, Oka to Ipperwash: The Necessity of Flashpoint Events by Peter H. Russell, pg. 45.

This is definitely an interesting perspective, as I do not often see something that I agree with completely. I think in all essence, a democratic government’s main purpose is to protect the rights and forward the interests of their constituency in the House of Commons and a Legislative Assembly, yet the Canadian government does little to protect the rights and interests of Aboriginal communities. It is difficult for me to believe that things could change without positive steps taken forward to “bridge the gap” between settler and non-settler communities in Canada. The relationship between governments and aboriginal communities has been put on the back burner for far too long. I honestly think it would be in the best interest for all Canadians to discontinue that distractive cycle of not recognizing respect for the aboriginal communities. All it takes is communication – simply put. Then things don’t result in violent actions.

Media Analysis:
Major news story for this week, as noted from the Globe And Mail website:
“Feeding our Future,” the Toronto District School Board piloted a school meal project that fed three high-schools and four primary schools. Supporting studies for this project said “a hungry kid is an angry kid” and to counter this reality, the Toronto District School Board decided to feed children. They soon found that a healthy meal plan in schools reduced aggression, increased attendance, improved concentration in the classroom and children earned higher grades. The program reduced any stigma of poverty in school, and while this success story is new in a developed country, this type of meal program in schools is highly successful in developing countries. The news article says if the studies continue to prove success for the school board, then other school boards could follow by example. “School meal programs ought to be viewed as investments, not a cost.” Previous analysis by an independent consulting company from Boston suggested, on average, a high school graduate contributes $75,000 to the economy. It makes complete sense to me, investing in the wellbeing of people means a healthy economy. Ultimately, people make things happen, people are worth investing in.
For the full story, click the link below:

Another story in the media this week includes MP Romeo Saganash journey in the race to become the first Aboriginal federal party leader. Saganash is a former Cree leader whom Jack Layton persuaded to run for becoming an MP. His constituency includes northern Quebec; more than half of the provinces geographical area.
(Photo above NDP Leader Jack Layton, right, raises the hand of candidate Romeo Saganash at a rally Monday, April 18, 2011 in Val d’Or, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot)

Shaganash’s working relationship with the former NDP Leader Jack Layton was long and building up to this party leadership campaign. Toronto MP Chow spoke about his campaign on APTN National News. Chow is quoted “the New Democratic Party is about democracy and participating,” which in all essence would encourage the Aboriginal community to become more involved in politics when more people recognize a familiar face. Important goals such as education for young “native” people would be pushed, as well as an encouragement for “respect, love, friendship, trust” so as to consider that no one is left behind in Canada.
It would be a great legacy left by Jack Layton, whom brought many Canadians together this past year under his leadership of the NDP. His departing letter to Canadians honestly touched my heart, as I’m sure it did for many other Canadians. It will be interesting to see how this campaign plays out. Cheers to Saganash for stepping up and putting his name forward for becoming the first Aboriginal person running to become party leader!
The full story which includes a video interview of Toronto MP Chow below:

Research Discovery:
Robert Lovelace, former chief of Ardoch Lake Algonquin First Nation. He is a spokes person for petition against uranium mining on Algonquin land, lecture in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queens University with a special interest in Aboriginal Studies. He’s served in jail for peacefully petitioning uranium exploration, and gives many talks on colonialism, community development, and the right to land. He is sometimes mentioned in the likeness of Gandhi, Mandela and Lovelace by local supporters of his work. He says “we need to reap the benefits of our own land” as opposed to letting others do just that.

I’m sorry to say that I would have not heard about this guy had I not taken this class, and not looked up uranium mining. Its quite interesting the work he’s done, and how he speaks. You can listen on Youtube.
For an article from “Anarkismo” click the link:http://www.anarkismo.net/article/8395

Reflective Journal:
This class has increasingly become more interesting with special guests and lectures with the readings about Canadian Democracy. I’m not sure how others in the class are feeling, but I certainly am coming along quite well. Enjoying the journey of learning again, life outside of school is not so fast-paced, so coming back into learning and producing is feeling new again, but well worth it.

Question of the week:
What would it mean if Saganash were elected NDP Party Leader, and sit in the seat as the official leader of opposition? …Sitting across Stephen Harper. I am certainly happy he is vying for that position, it is definitely worth something to think about, in my opinion.

October Books:
Vanishing Face of Gaia
Empires of Food

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Week 4: It’s starting to get Interesting

Beyond the Text:
Harpers Bill on crime is definitely a debate buzzing across the country. Even as I notice this image, I wonder how this issue was/is discussed, and where and how Harper’s decision to continue with this plan is supported.
For those that might not agree with this image, let it be explained:
“The cartoon uses hyperbole to point out that some of the most vulnerable populations, and also those most susceptible to incarceration, are people suffering from some form of mental illness, or those living in social housing. In any case, both mental illness and residents of social housing are common characteristics of Canada’s most poor populations.” as noted by my previous co-worker. Ultimately, the Prime Minister’s new bill targets these people without helping to address the root causes of the problem. I will suggest a report to read in the Media Analysis portion for further discussion.

Media Analysis:
A major news item includes the German parliament agreeing to expand the Euro fund to support the 17-nations from a financial crisis. There are a couple news items for the business invested students. The German parliament voted in favour of expanding their powers to bailout Greece. The full story is below:

Another interesting note is an opinion piece from Margaret Wente from the Globe and Mail. Just to add to the idea of how and why the Euro Dollar is failing.

An under reported story, might be considered:
A report titled “The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty” was released from the National Council of Welfare recently. It mentions some very provocative discussion pieces, noting that the current government spends $24.4 Billion on social issues. The report mentions that half that amount, if utilized, can be used to lift the 3 million Canadians in poverty now, out of poverty. Interesting facts from CBC: 80% of women incarcerated right now are there because they could not pay a fine. The little reasons for putting someone in jail can be avoided if the money was used to support some of the most basic needs. The link provided below has more information. It think it’s an interesting debate that more Canadians should consider, if nothing else but to support our need for a healthy, educated society.

Research Discovery:
I wasn’t able to watch the full story on the fifth estate story “You should have stayed at home,” (you can view the full story on the Youtube link below) but the other research discovery for this week includes reporting on the Sisters in Spirit event on October 4th, 2011. This is especially an interesting event that brings attention to raising awareness about violence against aboriginal women in Canada. Something like 800 aboriginal women were reported missing and murdered by suspicious cause, and not much has been done about them. It is a case that our federal government refuses to support, and so grassroots organizations have been coming together to include stories about these cases, to raise awareness about what is going on to citizens of our country. The Native Women’s Association of Canada has information in this link: http://www.nwac.ca/programs/sisters-spirit

You Should have Stayed at Home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUjY_cCjnD0&NR=1

Reflective Journal:
It is definitely interesting to learn things in a “Canadian” context, rather than my own Nunavut specific scope or perspective. As much as I am learning from these classes, I feel that I am teaching some things about a different way of “Canadian” living, from a small community that happens to be situated in the north. I am learning some things I don’t think I would have gotten hadn’t I come to University, so I welcome the opportunity to learn about the greater context of societal living, as I hope my classmates are too. It’s been great.

Question of the week:
Is it time for a National Poverty Strategy? What do you think?

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Weekly Post. Week 3.

Beyond the Text: Political Cartoon
Most people in class might not be surprised at my selection of “Beyond the Text” image this week. Out of the many political cartoons the internet offers, I found myself choosing this image because I can relate to this image in a number of ways; most obvious is that I come from an Inuit community in Canada. This very depiction seems to be our reality: the “government” injecting the ways of politics, idea of race and the reality of poverty which exists in many communities. Now, I know that I am still very new at studying Political Science in University, but this definitely looked familiar to me. This kind of thing has been happening for far too long, and eventually things will change. How so? Let’s talk about it.

Media Analysis:
A big story in the international world of politics includes an analysis on the politics in Russia. The headline in the Globe and Mail says “Analysis: With Putin as president, Russia’s experiment with democracy comes to an end.” Vladimir Putin served as Russia’s president from 2000 – 2008, and because of constraints in the constitution, sat down in the role of Prime Minister and now gearing up for becoming President again. Full story in the link below.

What is typically not making the headline news, is a personal story about 19 year old Sharif Ali, a Libyan descent whose home is now Surrey, B.C. The news from “the Tyee” covers the intriguing story about Ali’s journey to support the revolution in Libya on his own. He found his way into Libya by hitch-hiking and meeting people who’d helped him reach his destination along the way. The full story in the link below.

Research Discovery:
This week’s research quest involving “checking our political pulse” as Cynthia said in class. www.politicalcompass.org is a place to do just that. Anyone can go on that site, answer six sets of questions and figure out where they fit on the political spectrum measuring in two different scales: economic and social. Interestingly enough, I was placed  slightly off centre toward “left – libertarian” where my role models such as Nelson Mandela and Gandhi were placed not too far away.

Reflective Journal:
Class is well on its way to delivering the heavier assignments and readings involved with studies. It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, so this is a good feeling to be in the classroom again. It also was exciting to be participate in the land trip with Dr. Don Julien and meet an interesting Mi’kmaq elder named Elise Basque. She was the first ever Mi’kmaq teacher, and at the age of 94, still in good condition to converse and share her life experiences. I believe that learning extends far beyond the classroom and is not bounded by status and grades. This is why I enjoyed participation in the land trip. Thanks to Cynthia for making it happen for us who participated.

Question of the week:
On what grounds do all Canadians agree on something? Or is it in our nature not to agree, given the physical distances that separate us, and the distinct cultures in our multi-cultured society. It is something I think about most times.

That’s it for this week.
These little practices certainly broaden my horizon, each and every step of the journey. The days are flying right by, and I am certainly enjoy the learning experiences.


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First Weeks of Political Science

First post.
‘Beyond the Text’ Theme Quest – Poem by Richard MacWilliam.
 This poem helps me to define what politics is, in all essence. Politics is to think, analyze, critique and decide what is best for a society – not simply to speak of good will, like Freedom Dust implies, but what it actually intends behind the pretty words spoken.

Freedom Dust

Freedom Dust burns to the bone
In screaming agony,
Freedom Dust
Like French Fries
Builds a barrier of words and lies

Freedom Dust
Protects Us from Ourselves
And our miserable lives
Built on

Allows Us
To stay (however briefly)

Us to bury our heads in the sand
Prevents Us from
And instead
Us to carry on
And scheming.

Media Analysis: A major news story to take note of is the race to find a new NDP leader. Most recently, a cree lawyer, NDP Saganash of Quebec was encouraged to put forth his name as a candidate running for NDP leader. He runs along side Brian Topp. Voting day is March 24, 2012.

A not so familiar news story, not surprising to me, is a news cast on APTN from Kahnawake diplomat Kenneth Deer, who reported on Canada’s promise to make Aboriginal education a priority. His statement simply put, was aboriginal education should not be intended to assimilate children into mainstream Canadian knowledge, but to keep their language and culture alive. My question is how they might do that. Kenneth Deer mentioned “it is important for Aboriginal communities to control their own education” within Canada. Lots of work ahead.

Research Discovery:
 The Nunavut @ 5 Symposium website is very well established and has neatly archived some important speeches in the context of, indeed, Nunavut at 5. Speakers such as Peter Irniq, former commissioner of Nunavut, Eva Aariak, John Amaroalik and Hagar Idlout-Sudlovenick in their respective roles in Nunavut at the time stating the (then) issues and accomplishments of Canada’s newest territory are well kept and interesting to note. I find it especially intriguing, listening to familiar statements, but also, a reminder of the great place that I come from, with such a rich history and all the right intentions. Still, a lot of work remains to fulfil the big dreams noted in their speeches recorded in this website, and our territory.
John Amaroalik’s video recording in “Not a Just Society” in the video gallery is especially noteworthy as he does mention Trudeau and his intention to create a Just Society in Canada. He mentioned the average Canadian thoughts that Canada was already a “Just Society”…”but we knew better.” With everything Inuit endured all too quickly, he ends his speech with a note “we now have all the tools to improve our place in this country.” My thought: we just need to take advantage of these tools, and work together to make our dreams/goals happen.

Peter Irniq, hosted the Nunavut@ 5 event with Dr. Cynthia Alexander in May, 2004. He is the former commissioner of Nunavut, a cultural teacher, and worked all of his career encouraging Inuit to participate in the development of their territory.

Reflective Journal:
 It’s definitely interesting for me to participate in this class, knowing that I have a different perspective than most other students in Political Science. The book such as This is an Honour Song, and the Kanesatake: 270 years of Resistance documentary are a familiar story to me, as I know that my parents and aunts and uncles experienced some of the same experiences noted in these books and documentaries. Their experience is not as harsh, but I definitely know people who’ve had the courage to share what they went though. It is a bit harder for me to process this, mostly, new information, but it is important nonetheless. I feel like we are unveiling a dark part of Canadian politics that most would rather shove under the rug and ignore…but ignoring anything important not a healthy move to make. Not in these ever changing times in Canadian politics.

Question of the Week:
 What will it take to encourage other young Canadians to become more involved in politics and decision making opportunities?


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Hello from Acadia!



My name is Kerri Tattuinee, and I am a little Inuk lady from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Most recently, I have lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut for two and a half years, but I grew up in the small (hockey) town of Rankin Inlet. Most of my family still lives at home, but I broke away to further my education and understanding about the bigger world of politics. It is my first year in University, all on my own. I applied earlier this year and to my surprise, Acadia accepted my application…and so here I am.

Our weekly tasks will include posting in this blog with five components:
1. ‘Beyond the Text’ – a piece of art, poetry, music lyrics or political cartoon that expands our weekly lectures.
2. Media Analysis – my take on a major news story, and highlight an under-reported story in the media.
3. Research Discovery – each week our professor will assign an online quest to discover an aspect or piece of information mentioned in class.
4. Reflective Journal – our thoughts on seminar books, films, guest speakers and such.
5. Our “question of the week” about an issue/event that has caught my attention.

So, each week I shall return and share my perspective on the tasks listed above.
Here’s to a year of learning about the Politics of Canada in the Law/Politics and Government class with Dr. Cynthia Alexander and my classmates!

Qujannamiik – Thank you!
Kerri Tattuinee

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