Teaching Indigenous Star Stories

When some Cree people look at the sky during summer months, they see Ochekatchakosuk, a group of stars in the shape of a fisher, a weasel-like animal related to the wolverine. According to Cree teaching, a long time ago (likely during the Ice Age), there was no summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The animals of the region wanted to find summer and bring it back, and the fisher, Ochek, was selected for the task. After he succeeded, he escaped into the sky, and the Creator stamped his shape into the stars. In spring and summer evenings, Ochek is located high in the sky, inviting celebrations of warmer weather; in autumn and winter, he appears closer to the horizon—a reminder to be grateful of the passing seasons.”

Kelly Boutsalis – The Walrus – August 2020

 

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The struggle for self-isolation

“While local and provincial governments loosen lockdowns and restart economies, vulnerable Indigenous communities across the country say they’re fighting an uphill battle to safeguard their residents. Though few have been exposed to the pathogen—sometimes by dint of the isolation that makes them medically vulnerable—they feel that the interests of their communities are not top of mind for the leaders guiding the rest of the country through the pandemic. Some voice a sense of outright neglect on the part of the provinces and Ottawa, and are taking an increasingly active hand to protect their people—even if public health measures lie outside their jurisdictions.”

Hamdi Issawi – Maclean’s – June 2020

In search of promised lands

 
Julian Brave NoiseCat – Canadian Geographic – March 2020

The Search for Mackie Basil

“‘Goodbye, bro. I love you,’ Mackie called back to him. In that moment, now frozen in his memory, Peter watched Mackie walk away, lingering at the door as she climbed the path. He spotted a man waiting for her farther up the trail. Something was not quite right, though. Why, Peter asked himself, would Mackie have said goodbye in such a way if she were coming home? Then he wondered if, perhaps, this would be the last time he’d see her.”

Annie Hylton – The Walrus – February 2020

How Devon Freeman died

“The circumstances of Devon’s death and its aftermath have left his family and his First Nation, Chippewas of Georgina Island, searching for answers. Why didn’t the group home disclose an earlier suicide attempt? Why was he not taken to the hospital after he first tried to take his life? Why did the police not find his body much sooner? These questions and more could be explored through a proper coroner’s inquest – something his family, his First Nation and the Hamilton Police are coming together to demand.”

Kristy Kirkup – The Globe and Mail – January 2020

Seeing Myself in My Mother’s Addiction

“When I was in kindergarten, she made me clothes and matching accessories by hand. I was the object of adoration for many years because Mom always went above and beyond when dressing her little princess. Mom grew up poor and told herself, ‘No white people will ever look at my children like dirty Indian kids.’ Those are good memories. But the memories of my mom shape-shifted into something else entirely for a period of time.”

Helen Knott – The Walrus – December 2019

The Year in Video Gaming

“I am fantasticaland I don’t mean to enrich myself with the positive connotations of such an adjective in naming myself as such, but rather I mean to say that I am one who conjures fantasies, a mesmer of a man, illusionist. My counsellor told me this during one of my sessions this summer, that in order to heal from the mental processes I was undertaking I must learn to ‘tame my illusions.’ To say I survived the year of all my years would be an understatement: 2019 was a ruination for me in all semblances of the noun.”

Joshua Whitehead – Hazlitt – December 2019

Lac La Croix pony saved from extinction by the Ojibwe

“Once upon a time, before the last Ice Age, horses galloped across the North American landscape. But when the Laurentide Ice Sheet pressed its way across the continent, before retreating some 11,000 years ago, the horses ran away, trying to keep a pace ahead of that cold front. Entire herds slipped across the Bering land bridge in the far northwest, where Alaska met Siberia, and the horse vanished from North America. It wouldn’t come back until around the year 1500, when European explorers, settlers, invaders, colonizers — however you see them — brought horses on their ships. Or so the history goes.”

Susan Nerberg – Broadview – October 2019

What Would It Look Like to Take the First Nations Water Crisis Seriously?

“The water has an earthy taste, Oskineegish says. It is tinted yellow in summer; in winter, the ice makes the water a bit clearer. No one routinely tests the lake water to ensure it is safe, but Oskineegish says it has never made him sick. He trusts the water because there’s no mining or industry upstream, but he boils it and runs it through a Brita-like filter before using it, ‘to be double sure.'”

Hilary Beaumont – The Walrus – October 2019

Sending Josephine home

“On May 17, 2018, Calgary Police surrounded a home in Penbrooke Meadows. Two people – a man and a woman – unknown to the owners, had barricaded themselves inside the empty basement suite. After an hour-long stakeout, police entered the home. When they came out, the man was critically injured, and the woman was dead. For nearly a month the dead woman’s name was not released. It was the third fatal shooting by Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers that year. Her name was Josephine Shelly Lynn Pelletier. She was Cree and Saulteaux, and she was 33 years old.”

Sarah Birrell – Briarpatch – December 2018