Category Archives: Anthropology

Newtown CT

When smoking was still permitted in restaurants, you’d sometimes see signs:  “No pipes or cigars”. That was because the smoke from those is much stronger. To me, this is a Bonnie Parker Cigar1933 pd wikicommonsway to look at gun access.  There are many valid reasons for owning a gun; for hunting, target shooting, self-protection. Many types and models that serve those purposes well have existed for many years.

Other firearms are designed for specialized purposes. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons, assault and sniper rifles were developed for military actions and are what you want in those situations. But for civilian hunting, sport or protection, their capabilities are not needed. Like cigar smoke, they are too strong for a setting of civility.

Our communities and streets, we hope, are places of civility. So let’s remove the “overkill” weaponry from them. That’s all previous US gun control legislation tried to do, and having even that back would be a vast improvement today.

balloons at Sandy Hook school signThere may well still be people who for whatever reason decide to shoot strangers, family or friends – maybe many of them, maybe even 6 year olds. But if they weren’t carrying firearms that would hold such large ammunition clips, maybe they wouldn’t be able to kill so many.

I think, by definition, those who kill people they don’t even know have something seriously wrong with them. There are ways, perhaps, to redirect or resolve their personal issues. Something more is desperately needed in our mental health support system.

A blog by a woman about life with a potentially violent son is chilling, but her honesty and insight makes it required reading for all of us. Provision of mental health care must be improved. But, please God, not just with psychiatrists prescribing yet more psychotropic drugs.

Gun Culture

26-Newtown-Christmas-trees‘The Culture of Violence’ has been much talked about since the massacre in Newtown. Video games, music, movies, drugs and media hyper-attention have all been blamed. All may contribute, I think. But that’s a very large and amorphous mass – called, indeed, culture. Can’t change it all with legislation.

I wonder if Miss Manners hit the nail on the head in discussing the loss of the dinner party as a social staple. In the NY Times, she says the ability to converse and generally act civilly is gone, replaced by opining and expounding without listening. Courtesy and respect can be taught and practiced at home, with family and friends.

To go back to the smoking analogy, people have adapted to bans on even cigarette smoking. If they can do that, why should it be any more difficult for people to adapt to something much less physiologically distressing like having limits placed on the types of firearms, modifications and firing capacity you can legally have?

 gun manufacturer ad-bushmaster-acrThere is a final irony in what happened Friday in Newtown. Connecticut has some of the strictest firearm laws in the US.  And the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, is based there, in Newtown. The gun industry has a long history in Connecticut. Some of the country’s largest gun manufacturers have their headquarters there. They pay taxes to the state and provide jobs. One may ponder whether the right to unbridled gun ownership and those jobs and tax monies are worth the 28 lives lost Friday.

 

Newtown Kids & Dogs

A lot of dogs in Newtown, Connecticut will be working overtime in the solace department.  There are children and adults who will need Victoria Soto and Roxie from USA Todaythe love of their pets to help them cope after losing a sibling, a son or daughter, a mother or wife.

The pets will need comfort themselves.  They too have lost a beloved member of their family.  Roxie, a Black Labrador, is one.  Victoria Soto, one of the teachers killed in Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was her person.  Ms Soto died protecting the children in her classroom.

Newtown Park & Bark

Trying to learn about Newtown, I went to the municipal website.  In dogpark_july newtownparkandbark.orgthe menu under the “residents” tab, I saw they have been raising money for a dog park called Park & Bark that is scheduled to open in late 2013.  It was sad, yet cheering, to look at the people looking so proud of their fundraising efforts and happy about building a place to play with their dogs.

If you wish to let the people of Newtown know in a practical way that you are thinking of them, consider donating to their dog park.  There’s a donate button newtown park-&-barkon the page.  While it’s not directly related to the tragedy they are enduring, the town and people and dogs will go on.  I hope that Park & Bark will open on schedule as a symbol that Newtown has survived this unspeakable loss.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 16, 2012 (2 comments)

Library Science

Sometimes a simple thing happens that makes you realize what you should have done.  Bancroft-Library-wikicommons-C-S-Imming-2012One day at the library, I was reshelving books that had been left out.  There were a lot of them.  Messy people, I thought, can’t even put back the books they take out to look at.  Before too long fortunately, I noticed a sign:  “Please do not reshelve books.  Survey of book usage in progress.”  Uh-oh.  I quickly unshelved those I could remember reshelving.

That day I acknowledged my inner librarian.  I have loved libraries, small and large, for almost as long as I can remember.  I now wish I’d taken Library Science at university.  I am not sorry I took Anthropology but had I combined that with Library Science I’d have had, for me I think, a perfect combination.

Anthropology provides wonderful tools for looking at the world, and it’s relatively marketable.  I think any government or social services position would be improved by having someone with an anthropology degree in it.  In real life, however, its direct connection to job requirements is usually as “a degree in social sciences.”  But that’s enough, it gets you in the door.  But it won’t get you a librarian job.

Malinowski in Trobriands - library scienceAs an Anthropology student, I could have focused on archival research methods.  That would have taught me, by experience, the nuts and bolts of libraries, archives and museums.  Ironically, historical research has been the largest part of my work.  But, in university, that did not seem as glamorous as ethnographic fieldwork.  So, despite the appeal of libraries to me, I didn’t think to put the two interests together within Anthropology or in studying both.

I love anthropology and it’s stood me in good stead.  But I love the smell and feel of Steacie-Library-York-U-wikicommons-Raysonho-2008libraries.  I love looking through bookshelves and card catalogues, but I’m always curious about what goes on behind them.  How do the books get processed and on the shelves?  How are decisions made about what books and periodicals are bought?  How does the Dewey Decimal System really work?  How has library work changed in the digital era?  People who have studied Library Science know all this.

Librarians are both the gatekeepers and the engineers of the worlds of knowledge.  They Belmont-Library-ON-2012 children's section artwork Patricia Couturelet you in and they stream the supply to their shelves.  They, with teachers, are children’s first encounter with literacy outside the home.  And maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve never met a librarian who made me think, “wow, you’d be happier in another line of work.”   Maybe that’s due to being a daily part of so many wonderful worlds of art and fact.

So to those in or thinking about undergrad programmes or graduate school:  don’t discount social science and liberal arts disciplines that appear to have no job market Stephen_A_Schwarzman_Building_wikicommons-Blurpeace-2009relevance.  They all do, at least indirectly.  And, most importantly, they teach you to think.  Without that ability, any degree or qualification is of limited use.  But don’t discount the practical career-directed degree either.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d have both Library Science and Anthropology degrees.

Mr. Otto Kelland

A while back, I was looking online for a family in response to a query.  I found them.  A note on their kinship chart said the wife was sister of Otto Kelland, maker of the model fishing boats displayed at the Fisheries College in St. John’s and composer of the song Let Newfoundland Museum Duckworth Street St. John'sMe Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s.  I sat back, stared at the screen and said “Wow!”

Instantly I was back in the Newfoundland Museum, the old one on Duckworth Street, about 1982.  I worked as a weekend attendant and we tried to have a staff person on each floor, to keep an eye on things and be available to visitors who had questions.  One Saturday, I was on the 3rd floor, the Newfoundland history display.

Two men stopped for a long time at the display case of model fishing boats.  The older man would point a finger to something on one of them while talking.  Their conversation looked interesting, so I wandered over close enough that I could eavesdrop.  I had spent a lot of time studying those models.  I loved the workmanship and I would compare all the Newfoundland Monkstown dory model by Otto Kellandlittle parts, seeing what made one type of vessel different from another.

Father and son, as it turned out they were, noticed me nearby and included me in their discussion.  After knowledgeably talking about the models, the elder man explained to me:  “I built these, y’see.”  I thought, sure you did, just after you finished the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  We had a lot of rather odd people who spent time in the museum.  But the more he talked, the more likely it seemed that he really had built these model ships.

Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s

The son decided introductions were in order so he told me his name and “this is my father, Otto Kelland.”  I sneaked a peak at the cards propped beside the model ships just to verify what I already knew:  made by Otto Kelland.  Then another realization hit me:  Otto Kelland also was the name of the man who wrote the most beautiful Newfoundland song I’d ever heard.  I said “Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s?”  “Oh yes my dear, that was me,” he laughed.

panorama of Cape St. Mary'sMy eyes filled up as I stared at him, open-mouthed.  I felt like a fool, but I was totally awestruck.  The beautiful models that I had spent so many hours looking at, the song that moved me to tears every time I heard it – and the maker of both smiling at me.

Then we reversed roles up there on the 3rd floor.  The museum attendant was given a tour by the museum patron.  Mr. Kelland explained the design and equipment of the fishing vessels using his models as illustration.  Then he took me and Otto Kellandhis son around the other displays of fishing stages and stores, industrial equipment and household items.  I learned more that day about my museum and about Newfoundland than I ever had before.

I’ve never forgotten the thrill of meeting him that day.  And seeing that note about him on a genealogy page brought it all back fresh as the day it happened.  So I’m proud to say that Mr. Otto P. Kelland is now entered in my database.

Amazon link for Dories and Dorymen by Otto Kelland*If you’ve never heard the song, here’s a beautiful version by The Irish Descendants.  Also here’s a book written by Otto Kelland on Amazon: Dories and Dorymen

 

Poppies

My dad had a whole collection of poppies.  Mom kept the ones that we bought every year Black and green-centred poppiesand pinned them on the top of a wallhanging in the dining room.  Every November, Dad would just take one off the hanging and pin it to his jacket.  When I commented that annual poppy sale money supported the Legion, he said “I was in the war. I don’t need to give my money every year to those old farts.”

He had a point.  And since then, I’ve looked carefully at the poppies worn by people old enough to be WWII veterans.  Are they, like Dad, wearing poppies with green centres, years after black-centred ones replaced the green?  Do their poppies look like they themselves had been through the wars, as some of Dad’s did?  When I do see a battered old poppy on an old fella, I smile, happy to think there’s someone who shares Dad’s philosophy.

New Brunswick Legion car poppyBut for the rest of us who haven’t paid for poppies with the currency of our lives, we owe it to those who have, and are, to put money in the collection boxes every year.  If, like me, you lose your poppy or wear a different jacket – well, buy another one!

White or red poppies

A white poppy movement started a few years after the red poppies appeared – so that people could honour war casualties, civilian and soldier, without honouring the act of war.  I white poppy boxsuppose that’s ok.  There was a time in my life when I felt conflicted about buying or wearing a poppy.  It seemed like it was giving positive sanction to war to do so.  I even lectured a couple young cadets once when they were selling apples to raise money.  “I won’t buy your apple because I don’t support the war machine” I told them.  Oh, how absolutely pretentious was I!

I’d read soldiers saying that, in war, their primary concern was with the survival of each other. They were fighting for their own and their comrades’ lives.  Hooey, I thought back then, you wouldn’t have to worry about that if you’d just said “no to war” and not enlisted or accepted your draft call.

Canadian UN peacekeeping troops Rwanda 1994But after getting to know some soldiers, I realized that there are many reasons why people end up in the Armed Forces and few of those reasons involve wanting to fight.  But that possibility is real, and is accepted as part of the job.  When it happens, whether in war or peace-keeping missions, the danger is faced and bravery kicks in.  They do, every day, put their lives on the line.  They want to do their jobs well, stay alive and keep their buddies unharmed.

War itself may be a vicious response to green-centred poppyinternational problems, but when it happens, it’s good that there are men and women who do the job that’s necessary to end it.  And they may well pay with their blood.  And it’s their blood that is honoured by the red of the poppy.

War of 1812

In 1814 we took a little trip – Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’

Johnny Horton Battle of New Orleans youtube linkWe took a little bacon and we took a little beans

And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’

There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago

We fired once more and they began to runnin’

On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

The Americans won the Battle of New Orleans, but not the war.  The War of 1812 was ended by the Treaty of Ghent, signed December 24th 1814, and Canada was still Canada, not part of the US.  The Americans did get this wonderful song written by Jimmy Driftwood,Fort McHenry flag war of 1812 an Arkansas school teacher, and made a hit by Johnny Horton in 1959.  They also got their national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, written for the flag atop Fort McHenry that survived the British attack on Baltimore.  The 1814 Battle of Baltimore followed upon the burning of Washington DC, including the White House, by the British.

The Americans wanted to take over Canada and get Britain totally out of North America.  They thought it would be easy, with the British already involved in the Napoleonic Wars.  It didn’t quite work out.  The British weren’t going to easily let go of more North American territory.

The UEL settlers of Upper Canada had made their political position clear when they left the United States after the War of Independence and they weren’t inclined Six Nations War of 1812 veterans phototo come under US rule again.  First Nations on both sides of the border, for the most part, fought with the British because they had promised a neutral Indian land in the mid-west.  One of them was John Smoke Johnson, a Mohawk chief from Six Nations near Brantford, maybe related through marriage to my family.  He’s on the left in this 1882 photo of the last Mohawk veterans of the War of 1812.

After 1812 – same as before

In the end, not much changed after 1814.  Geopolitical lines were restored to pre-war status in the Treaty of Ghent.  But Canada got a new sense of nationhood from fighting a war for our land.  The US didn’t lose or cede any land to the British, so claimed it as a map of Tecumseh's war 1811victory.  The First Nations did not get their promised land, which stayed in the hands of the US. And they were not given an independent homeland elsewhere in Canada.  Some moved north to Canada, hoping for better conditions with their military allies.  By fighting with the British, they had burned their bridges with the American administration, and it came down even harder on them.

But the British and Canadian governments didn’t keep their territorial promises.  Having defeated US encroachment, Painting by Lossing of what Tecumseh may have looked like ca 1868Canada believed there was no longer need of First Nations as military allies.  They became irrelevant to Canadian plans and were treated either as “wards” to be cared for or obstacles to development.

Tecumseh, the Shawnee war leader and politician, had been the main force behind the plan for an independent homeland.  He was killed October 5th 1813 at the Battle of the Thames, near Chatham, Ontario.

West of London there is what’s now a beautiful wooded park.  It was the site of the Battle of Longwoods, where, this weekend May 5th and Battle of Longwood cairn near Delaware Ontario6th, there will be a reenactment of that battle.  I hope Tecumseh’s spirit watches over it and all the reenactments this centenary year – remembering what might have been, what should have been.

Fanshawe Riot: Educating fools?

Last weekend, St. Paddy’s Day, London Ont. joined the ranks of cities of fools.  Violent, Burning car and London Ont. rioters St. Patrick's Day 2012vandalizing fools.  Students at Fanshawe Community College in the city’s east end overturned cars and torched a CTV news van.  Houses near the campus were damaged and several people were injured.

Over what?  High tuition fees?  The upward spike in unemployment among young people?  The political struggle in Syria?  Outrage over the Kony 2012 video?  Nope, just too much partying and too much green beer.  And, important to note, Fanshawe is in the suburbs, not downtown.  There aren’t a lot of bars and clubs around, no one congregates there other than the college students and area residents.

Fleming Drive house after 2007 party damageThis isn’t the first time Fanshawe students have run amok for no apparent reason.  From Canoe News: “Oct. 30, 2009: About 500 people at a student party on Thurman Circle near Fanshawe College pelt police with beer bottles, overturn vehicles and smash windows.  Police charge 22 people.”  There was at least one such incident a year before that.

But these were before last year’s Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, also starring foolish youth going nuts.  In that case, their home team lost the game.  Not much of a reason, granted, but at least a reason.  In London?  Nobody seems to know, but everybody Facebook posts from imgur.com and reshared many timesseems to have lost patience.  Some of those involved have posted on Facebook and other online sites.  You’d think they’d have learned after Vancouver – don’t take pictures with your phone and don’t post on Facebook!  Police are going through the material, online and contributed to them.

Local tv news said local high school students and “some University students” were involved as well.  The University of Western Ontario is the only university in the city.  Glad to see you’re putting the high cost for your education to good use.

The only major vandalism I remember when I was at Western was, once a year, the engineering students bricked up the bridge that was a main access to the main campus.  UWO bridge looking east toward Richmond Street entranceEveryone knew it would happen sometime in the academic year, including maintenance staff who would dismantle it in the morning, early bus drivers with a load of students anxious about being late for class, and profs with morning classes who knew few students would turn up.  It was pretty funny, the thought of students out there all night long blocking off the bridge as quickly as they could.  And they always did a good job of it, putting their learning to practical purpose.  Even, so I heard, competing against the previous classes that had done it, with each year’s job assessed on the length of time it took to demolish it.

I don’t know if they still do it.  Yes, it was vandalizing university property and, yes, it inconvenienced people.  But I don’t think too many people really minded.  The Police in riot gear watching fires near Fanshawe March 18 2012engineers were using what they were learning and we all took pride in how well they had done the job.

Throwing bottles?  Bashing in windows?  Overturning cars?  You don’t need higher education to do that.

Drifting into Doom: Book

link to DRC Pub for Drifting into Doom by Earl B. Pilgrim
Click to see on DRC Publishing

It was a dark and stormy night when I began reading Earl Pilgrim’s Drifting into Doom: Tragedy at Sea. Winter rain blew at the windows and tree branches hit the house. Reading about two men drifting in a dory during a January 1883 storm on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, I got chilled and thought “I knows how you feel!” Then I recollected myself, realized I was in a warm house, on a couch, with the wind and rain outside. No, I had no inkling of how Howard Blackburn and Tommy Welsh felt.

The story of the Banker schooner Grace L. Fears and the loss of one of her dories is itself a harrowing one. Trawling cod from tiny two-man boats set off the side of a schooner was a hard way to fish, especially for the dorymen. Many lives were lost on the Grand Bank fishery. This is the story of the loss of Tommy Welsh, a 16 year old 1890 painting, G. F. Gregory, Storm King at seafrom Grand Bank on the south coast of Newfoundland. It is also the story of the saving of the life of his dory mate, Howard Blackburn, an experienced fisherman originally from Nova Scotia who worked out of Glouchester, Mass.

Blackburn got the dory to shore near the tiny settlement of Little River (later called Grey River) on Newfoundland’s south coast. His frozen fingers and toes could not be saved but his hands and feet were by the skill of a local woman called Aunt Jenny Lushman. She was helped by a Mi’kmaq woman named Susie Bushney. Experienced healers and midwives that they were, neither woman had ever dealt with frostbite so severe. But Mrs. Bushney’s advice and Mrs. Lushman’s steely nerves kept Blackburn alive.

Howard Blackburn in later life sailingBlackburn went on to become a well-known businessman in Glouchester and a world adventurer. His dorymate Tommy Welsh was buried in Little River. The story of these men was not lost on the Grand Banks. Accounts were published at the time and Pilgrim uses these to tell a tale that lets you get to know them, the Blackburn family, the fishing company personnel and the people of Little River and Burgeo. As the cover blurb says, it keeps you “spellbound”.

The Lushman Family

Another story came from this one. Aunt Jenny Lushman lives on her own with her grown children. There is no Mr. Lushman.  That’s the other story. As a photo of Grey River by Holloway 1933result of publicity over Blackburn’s rescue, the story of what happened to Mr. Lushman came to light. It is also one of unbelievable happenstance and hardship. Probably it too is not an isolated case of people lost and believed gone, but it is one that became known and loose ends could be tied up. It is as epic as is the story of Howard Blackburn.

Jenny Lushman’s husband and one son left Little River for the United States in search of work. I found the story of what happened to them in a December 1912 Newfoundland Quarterly article by Sir Edward Morris.* You’ll want to be tucked up in your Snuggly while reading it too. Thank you, dear reader Jim F., for this book. And Newfoundland filmmakers? Movie here!

*See my transcription of Morris’ NQ article at A Tale of the Sea and  my post A Tale of the Sea, etc. for more. The entire Dec. 1912 NQ can be seen at the MUN digital archives (link in previous paragraph). For books on Amazon by Earl B. Pilgrim, click his name.

Musée Acadien PEI

If you have a drop of Acadien blood in your veins or if you just enjoy Permanent gallery, Acadian history, Musee Acadien, Miscouchethe distinctive sound of an Acadien fiddle, a place for you to go is the Musée Acadien in Miscouche, near Summerside.

A library full of binders of historical records, drawers of documents 3 generations of Acadian women with petsand compilations of genealogical research. I was there with only a few hours to spend, and a broad interest in all Acadian families with any connection to Newfoundland Mi’kmaq.  That’s a pretty tall order for assistance from archivists.  I figured I’d just poke around and get a feel for what was there.  Instead, files and books were pulled out and stacked on a table for me.  “Here, these might help you,” museum director Cécile Gallant said.

The emphasis is on Acadian family history.  But there are some church records from the nearby Lennox Island Mi’kmaq First Nation.  I started there, recording information as fast as I could.  I flipped through other files, recording names Earle Lockerbyand dates that seemed relevant to “my” people.  I looked at two huge published volumes of Acadien genealogy by Jean Bernard.  Vol. 1 was “A”: in PEI, for Arsenault.  It was also in the gift shop.  I bought it.  It seemed likely that everyone in PEI is somehow connected to the Arsenault family.I also bought Earle Lockerby’s Deportation of the Prince Edward Island Acadians.  If I could read French, the gift shop has many books on Acadien history that I would love to have.

Museum exhibit rooms

A quick tour of the exhibit rooms.  A whole room with a permanent 3rd painting in Acadian series by Claude Picard, Musee Acadien PEIexhibit of paintings by Claude Picard, depicting the creation and official adoption of the Acadien flag in the 1880s.  In another room, a temporary display of the lives and work of Acadien women.  Exquisite photographs, both professional and family snapshots.  Spinning wheels and kitchen tools, knitted and sewn goods, the implements and products of women’s hands.

St. John the Baptist Church cemetery beside the museum.  Names so familiar to me from Newfoundland west coast families.  I’d see these same names if I went to a graveyard in Louisiana.  Same families, but their move wasn’t voluntary.  In the 1750s, when Britain Cemetery gates, Miscouche beside Museumtook control of North America, the expulsion of the Acadiens began.  Many were sent to what’s now the US, especially Louisiana where they became Cajuns, adding their heritage and language to the cultures already there.  Others were “returned” to France on ships, to a homeland they’d never seen before.  Acadiens escaped to Quebec and Newfoundland or hid out and were missed by the British. Some stayed in their new homes.  Some returned to their homeland when it was safe.

carved panel telling Acadian history on side of Museum building, MiscoucheIn the museum and the cemetery, you get a sense of how vast Acadian history is in time and geography, and how strongly rooted it is in this small island.

 

Attawapiskat ‘Solution’

In a Sun Media op-ed column this week, Jerry Agar suggests a solution for the people of house interior Attawapiskat news.sympatico.cbc.ca 9 Dec 2011Attawapiskat, the embattled Northern Ontario reserve: leave it.

He points out that doing the same ineffective thing over and over again is, in general, a good definition of insanity.  His second point is that, in order to solve problems, individuals need to take action themselves.  I agree with both points.

But his solution – go to where the opportunities are – has also been tried and doesn’t slums of Ramos Arizpe Mexico photo by Codowork that well. The shantytowns of Mexico City are testament to the decisions and actions of individuals to leave their rural homes in search of employment and a better life in the city.  On a small scale, it works.  On a mass scale, not so much.

Will it help individuals and Canada as a whole to have everyone flocking to Toronto or Winnipeg?  What about the rest of the landmass we call our country?  The government has to pay incentives to medical students to get them to practice in rural areas.  Everybody, it seems, wants to be a doctor in Toronto, not so many in Nippers Harbour.

I give Mr. Agar credit for thinking laterally.  But let’s go a little further than just “leave the reserve.”  Why not make the reserve a centre of enterprise itself?  If people want to stay in the north or in rural areas, why shouldn’t they?  Who exactly benefits in the long run by having overcrowded megacities and vast expanses of unpopulated land?  In making First Nations communities viable wherever they are, the big stumbling block is the Indian Act.  So let’s think way outside the box and change that.

Miawpukuk Example

Aerial view of Miawpukek, from mfngov.caLet’s use the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq reserve Miawpukek as an example.  It was created from the village of Conne River and surrounding land in 1987.  At that time, Indian Affairs was promoting new measures of band self-government.  The people of Conne River, never before officially recognized as Mi’kmaq, were accustomed to the control afforded over life and actions afforded by regular municipal, provincial and federal government.  They were not about to give that up.  So, from the beginning, Miawpukek had a degree of control over economic and educational development that went beyond the Indian Act.

The prosperity of the community speaks to the success of that.  In the 1990s, former chief Shane McDonald showed me around.  Driving in, he laughed, “see, we’re on reserve land now, and the pavement starts.  Usually the pavement ends when you come into a reserve.”

dancers-from-miawpukek mfngov.caThe reason for its success?  The people used Indian Affairs money in ways that worked best for their community.  They built up a local economy that had people moving back there to find employment.  That development is largely connected with their traditional methods of land use.  The culture and the environment are alive and healthy.

So my solution for reserves like Attawapiskat starts with the Department of Aboriginal Attawapiskat 'solution' photo of town sign firstnations.ca/attawapiskatAffairs.  Redraft the Indian Act so that those who come under it have the same freedom to develop businesses and own property that other Canadians have.  Don’t force depopulation of northern and rural communities by action or inaction.  Let them develop in a way that makes sense for their people and their environment.