Language and Culture (13-17): Background Content

Indigenous Cultural Success

January 29, 2023

Dakota Nation’s Winterfest strengthens traditions, emboldens youth

Thousands in Brandon for 4-day festival after a two-year hiatus

Dancers enter the Dakota Nation Winterfest Grand Entry on Friday, Jan. 27. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

CBC News: Carrying the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation eagle staff with pride Friday evening, Donny McKay led the first Dakota Nation Winterfest Grand Entry since 2020.

McKay, 67, has been dancing for more than 50 years. Carrying the staff is a great honour, said the traditional dancer. As he dances, McKay looks to the past and future of the Dakota Nation with hope. “That’s what powwow is all about. It’s a place of positive energy, a place where different tribes get together and celebrate.”

The four-day Winterfest event has become an annual tradition in Brandon that helps bring people together to celebrate Indigenous culture each January. Running from Thursday to Sunday, it filled the Keystone Centre with traditional activities like powwow, jigging and moccasin games, paired with sports tournaments designed to help people get active in the dead of winter.

A man dressed in traditional regalia hold an eagle staff.
Donny McKay holds the eagle staff during Friday’s Grand Entry dance. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Growing up, McKay says his grandmother instilled a sense of pride in the Dakota spirit and the legacy of its warriors. McKay’s regalia tells the story of his ancestors and their fight for Dakota identity. He’s now passing this passion on to the next generations.

It’s been a powerful experience seeing Dakota culture, language and traditions strengthen through events like Winterfest, McKay says. It helps keep Indigenous culture strong by bringing experiences like the powwow and moccasin games to an urban centre and to youth.

Men play a traditional Indigenous game with moccasins on the floor.
Men play the traditional moccasin game at Dakota Nation Winterfest Grand Entry on Saturday, Jan. 28. It’s a traditional gambling game where two teams take turns hiding an object under a moccasin or mat. The opposing team tries to guess where the item is hidden. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

He said the event is “getting better all the time,” and it felt like an explosion of pride dancing in Grand Entry for the first time in two years. “We came back strong because here we are back again … most of us are back and we do this for the younger generation,” McKay said.

Dancers enter the powwow arena for Grand Entry.
Flag carriers lead Friday’s Grand Entry. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Urban people that live in the cities have a right to know and embrace their Indigenous identity, McKay said, and Winterfest helps them access and celebrate Dakota culture. “That’s why we bring them to the city, because some of them don’t ever get out on the powwow circuit,” McKay said.

“We have to bring pride to the people, to the younger people, because loss of identity for some of them, loss of language, loss of culture … we are bringing that back through powwow, through dancing and singing.”

A man dresses in powwow regalia.
Fredrick Fox from North Dakota prepares to dance Friday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

McKay has been dancing at Winterfest since it first began about 25 years ago. One of the biggest changes he’s seen has been the blossoming pride of culture on display. “We have went through a lot of turmoil with our language and culture. It’s coming up again … The pride is strong it’s always going to be like that we’ve opened up a new chapter.”

A girl dressed in powwow regalia holds a baby yoda.
Chloe Redman, 7, holds a baby Yoda doll Friday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation chief Jennifer Bone said Winterfest sees thousands of people from across Canada and the United States gathering together to celebrate Indigenous culture. The festival also includes a nine-division hockey tournament from youth to adults, along with volleyball and basketball tournaments.

Dakota Nation Winterfest brings thousands together from across Canada, US

“I think everybody feels rejuvenated,” Bone said. “It’s a good weekend to come out and visit with friends and enjoy the different events. You reconnect with people.”

Elders, knowledge keepers gather

Sioux Valley hosted a special elders and knowledge keeper gathering two days before Winterfest with a group of sister Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda communities. Bone says the gathering was an opportunity to talk about culture, language and teachings.

Dancers enter the powwow arena for Grand Entry.
Thousands of people attend Dakota Nation Winterfest each year from across Canada and the United States.(Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

It helped ground the 2023 Winterfest in education and culture, she said, through positive conversations with elders and knowledge keepers from different communities. “There’s a lot of positive energy in there,” Bone said. “That atmosphere was really uplifting and it’s nice to see all the children celebrating our culture and just coming together and enjoying the time here.”

A man ties bells to his powwow regalia shoes.
Kessin Thompson from Opaskwayak Cree Nation ties the bell to his chicken dance outfit Friday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Youth are embracing and practicing their culture, she said, and it shows that Indigenous people are still strong and resilient. People can approach different dancers and singers if they have questions about the culture, Bone said, and the powwow emcees drive home education by sharing knowledge and teachings and culture.

A man ties his arm piece onto his regalia.
Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation member Kevin Haywaheat ties an arm band to his regalia Friday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

“I think it’s like a great opportunity for urban members to come out and enjoy, not only our own urban members, but you know Indigenous people in general as well as non-Indigenous for them to come out and enjoy the powwow and see what it’s all about,” Bone said.

Sioux Valley traditional dancer Ella Wacanta, 15, is grateful to be celebrating her culture back at Winterfest.

Dancers enter the powwow arena for Grand Entry.
Jingle dress dancers enter the Dakota Nation Winterfest Grand Entry on Saturday, Jan. 28. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

“It feels great having it back because being at Winterfest, the powwow here, it’s like you’re being at home where all your troubles can all go away.” Even though the Winterfest powwow takes place indoors in January, Wacanta said, the power of the drum beat remains powerful.

A young girl ties a hair piece to her powwow regalia.
Traditional dancer Elle Wacanta, 15, from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation ties a hair piece to her powwow outfit.(Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

It’s vital to visit different powwows, Wacanta said, because each dance, drum song and piece of regalia has a story to share and teaching to impart. “When I’m dancing and my dad’s drum group is singing, they’re telling a story.”

Dancers enter the powwow arena for Grand Entry.
Fredrick Fox stands in the Dakota Nation Winterfest Grand Entry Saturday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Chelsea Kemp

Brandon Reporter

Chelsea Kemp is a multimedia journalist with CBC Manitoba. She is based in CBC’s bureau in Brandon, covering stories focused on rural Manitoba. Share your story ideas, tips and feedback with

August 24, 2022

Education a key priority discussion during latest Anishinabek Nation UNDRIP engagement session

NationTalk: ANISHINABEK NATION TERRITORY— The Anishinabek Nation Legal Department continues to host its United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act virtual engagement sessions with the third in the series held on August 10.

Anishinabek First Nations leaders and citizens were invited to participate in the Miigizi (Eagle) Dodem (clan) session exploring themes about UNDRIP and discussing priorities including but not limited to Education, Cultural, Language, and other relevant matters.

An introduction to UNDRIP was discussed and shortly thereafter, the Miigizi (Eagle) Dodem session was led by Leanna Farr, Anishinabek Nation’s Legal Counsel. The roles and responsibilities of the Miigizi  Dodem were presented, including an explanation on how the dodem has a role as spiritual leader and it is responsible for passing on oral histories, traditional stories, ceremonies, and providing guidance.

The First Nation history and how government policies made concerted efforts to eradicate First Nations languages and the consequences of this eradication are still being felt.

“When our children were born and welcomed into the world and into our communities by ceremony, the first language our children heard was Anishinaabemowin and this was important,” stated Nokomis Elsie Bissaillon, participant and member of the Getzidjig Advisory Council.

Participants voiced that presently, there are many barriers to preserving the languages. For instance, our Anishinabek Getzidjig (Elders) who speak fluently and are not recognized to teach the language, and more importantly, are not recognized as being bilingual, in many non-Indigenous institutions. Bilingualism has been formalized in Canada’s federal language policy and also guarantees recognition of minority languages, yet, unfortunately, new research shows a slight decline in the number of people who can speak an Indigenous language.

Concerns surrounding education arose including:

  • policies regarding funds for college education;
  • the need to allow for lifelong learning;
  • increases to living allowances;
  • a need to expand education policies to include transitions to new careers or in-demand occupations, perhaps a second career clause
  • Also, an exemption clause from funding allows for individuals wanting to learn and be certified in their First Nation language.

Other educational matters include when communities do not have high schools and youth need to attend in cities, there is no available funds for parents to temporarily move into the city and live with youth; however, there are funds available for youth to board with strangers in the cities. Participants expressed how there should be consistency on programs and the level of education received for children on the First Nation and/or within cities (i.e., breakfast programs, cultural activities and Indigenous languages). In order to revitalize language, it is critical to have children learning the language from birth — a suggestion was to have Indigenous immersion schools.

Many brought forth the need to have protections for the culture:

  • ceremonies,
  • sacred items (turtle rattles, etc.),
  • traditional medicines (cedar, willow bark, etc.),
  • traditional foods (wild rice, wild meats), and
  • historical pictographs need protection. These pictographs tell a story, teach about historical movement, or provide a teaching (i.e., of a specific plant or the lake).

Other concerns of fairness, such as why can’t Indigenous people bring traditional meat such as a moose to the butcher? Participants identified legal challenges and other barriers to traditional food harvesting and sharing activities (particularly in urban settings where these traditional meats are used for feasts).  Feasts are part of the culture and because of safety regulations, Indigenous organizations cannot have wild meats offered to public.

It is, however, acknowledged that there has been movement towards change and acceptance of First Nations traditional activities. As an example, the Ontario court system now allow for the Miigizi Miigwan (Eagle Feather) to be utilized as the swearing of the truth, as the Miigizi Miigwan is held in high regard in the culture. The Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law is an example of First Nations asserting inherent jurisdiction in the realm of child well-being. The Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being law is currently implemented in 22 of its member First Nations. Each First Nation developed community standards that were based on their traditional and cultural practices.

The Anishinabek Nation encourages Anishinabek Nation First Nations leadership, staff, and citizens to assist in embarking on changing Indigenous history and paving a way forward towards improving the road ahead for future generations. Citizens are welcome to attend the upcoming virtual sessions to bring forward critical feedback and/or matters as they relate to the key aspects of UNDRIP. The Anishinabek Nation will be gathering all feedback provided on what Anishinabek would like to see in Canada’s 10-year action plan and what changes need to happen within federal legislation over the next decade. A report will be submitted to the federal government outlining feedback and identifying priorities of needed federal legislative change.

The next virtual engagement session will be hosted on August 24, featuring the Ajiaak (Crane) Dodem, which involves discussions about Family Relations, Matrimonial Real Property, and youth.

Other upcoming sessions include:

  • September 7, 2022: Shiikenh (Turtle) Dodem – Justice, and Criminal Law;
  • September 21, 2022: Maang (Loon) Dodem – Equality and Discrimination, Wills and Estates, Employment and Labour, Human Rights; and
  • October 5, 2022: Mukwaa (Bear) Dodem – Health, Policing, Military, and other issues.

If you or anyone from your First Nation would like to participate in these sessions or would like to request a separate session, please contact Anishinabek Nation’s Justice Manager Kristy Jones:

Virtual engagement sessions registration available here.

December 22, 2022


Establishment of The Indigenous Cultural Integrity Advisory Committee

NationTalk: Indigenous Tourism Ontario is pleased to announce the establishment of the Indigenous Cultural Integrity Advisory Committee to support the respectful growth of Indigenous tourism in Ontario.

Today, the day of the Winter Solstice marks not just the shortest day of the year but also an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to longer days and the future. During this time of renewal, Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) welcomes 14 Knowledge Keepers to ensure the industry is equipped with culturally respectful tools and resources to conduct business in a responsible manner.

ITO knows that when developed sustainably, Indigenous tourism can be a powerful vehicle for improving the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous people while building a greater understanding and relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Across the province, over 400 Indigenous ITO members look to enhance existing products; develop new products; and market & promote their offerings. Through one-on-one support with entrepreneurs, business owners and community members, ITO is taking the necessary steps to build the Indigenous tourism industry in a responsible manner.

By establishing the Indigenous Cultural Integrity Advisory Group, ITO will rely on these diverse Indigenous peoples from across Ontario to guide our work.

“We are extremely excited to engage this group of outstanding individuals. They will be focused on developing, implementing, and maintaining broad and inclusive Indigenous cultural integrity guidelines applicable to all aspects of tourism operations, engagements, and practices. Their work will be reflective of the nations in Ontario and will lead with a Indigenous-led grassroots approach.” Kevin Eshkawkogan, President & CEO, Indigenous Tourism Ontario

The goal of the guidelines is to protect the knowledge, values, beliefs, and traditions of all Indigenous Peoples in Ontario while developing tourism initiatives that are in high demand. As the wider tourism industry looks to build partnerships and help develop Indigenous tourism products, these guidelines will help to prevent cultural appropriation and exploitation of Indigenous cultures in tourism.

After extensive outreach and careful consideration, ITO is ecstatic to announce the Indigenous Cultural Authenticity Advisory Committee Members. With a plethora of expertise in Indigenous history, knowledge, teachings, and practices, the Committee’s commitment to preserving Indigenous culture and traditions are invaluable to the Indigenous tourism industry and will allow ITO, and the industry, to maintain integrity in the development and delivery of culturally authentic tourism.

Indigenous Cultural Integrity Committee Members

Tyler French, Chippewas Of The Thames
Jaquie Jamieson, Six Nations of the Grand River
Beatrice (Bea) Johnson Tarbell, Akwesasne
Dominic Beaudry, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory
Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, Nipissing First Nation
Neda Debassige, M’Chigeeng First Nation
Josh Eshkawkogan, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory
Quinn Meawasige, Serpent River First Nation
Sam Manitowabi, Lac Seul First Nation
Michelle Savoie, Métis Nation of Ontario
Laurie McLeod-Shabogesic, Nipissing First Nation
Tim McGregor, Whitefish River First Nation
David R. Maracle, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
Dorothy French, Chippewas Of The Thames

“Ensuring we maintain the integrity of our culture while engaging in business is critical to moving forward in a positive direction. It is my pleasure to help the team at Indigenous Tourism Ontario and the industry with this important work.” Tim McGregor, Knowledge Keeper

January 28, 2023

How Indigenous people are strengthening fur traditions in an anti-fur world

Artisans and trappers from the Northwest Territories say using fur is humane and sustainable

Fashion designer Taalrumiq uses TikTok to share her Inuvialuit culture and educate others about the beauty and utility of fur.
 (Isabelle King)

CBC News: Inuvialuit fashion designer Taalrumiq says she knows first-hand how using real animal fur can foster harsh criticism and anger in people who are against the fur industry. 

Taalrumiq, whose English name is Christina Gruben King, creates couture pieces and fine art using the materials and designs of her ancestors. She travels from her home in northern British Columbia to sell these pieces and often has to explain to non-Indigenous people — whose responses she say can range from discomfort, to disgust, to anger — the uses, beauty and cultural importance of fur. 

It doesn’t always go as expected.

“I had a booth at Indigenous fashion arts in Toronto, so we had quite a variety of customers coming through,” Taalrumiq told Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild. “And there’s one man who came to my booth about five different times throughout the day. First few times he was arguing with me about fur and [saying], ‘It’s disgusting,’ and ‘How could you?'”

Taalrumiq remained calm and tried to explain the beauty and utility of the products she was selling.  “He kept coming back to look and then started to touch them,” she continued. “And then actually came back the next day and … he bought some earrings for his partner.”

Colourful Indigenous-made earrings, which are for sale, sit on a table.
Taalrumiq’s hand-made earrings on display. (Submitted by Taalrumiq)

Anti-fur sentiment has made it harder for the people who hunt and trap animals, as well as artists like Taalrumiq who use these harvested materials, to make a living from selling their wares. Animal rights activists have long called the fur industry inhumane and unnecessary. 

But despite the negativity toward using and selling fur, Indigenous people say fur can be a sustainable, respectful and even luxurious material for clothing, accessories and art. They believe it’s important to preserve fur’s place in Indigenous cultures and traditional economies.

Economic opportunities in the North

In Johanna Tiemessen’s role with the Northwest Territories government, she helps small communities turn their lifestyles on the land — through activities like hunting, trapping and fishing —  into economic opportunities. She also helps artists using these materials bring their work to market. 

The N.W.T.’s department of finance notes that while trapping doesn’t make up a huge part of the territory’s total economy, it’s a sector that is important to many residents — especially those in smaller communities — for food, clothing and income.

Conversations like the one Taalrumiq had with the man in Toronto are a way for artists to spread information about fur and help the industry survive, said Tiemessen. “When we look at the Queen not wearing fur, or talk about the RCMP not wearing fur in their garments anymore, they again are under the pressure of these groups that have tons of money [and] famous musicians speaking out against the use of fur,” she said.

“But they’re not thinking about the damage that they’re doing to … small Indigenous communities where economic development opportunities are scarce.”

A woman, standing outside in the winter, wears a black and grey fur hat and coat.
Johanna Tiemessen is the manager of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment in the Northwest Territories. (Johanna Tiemessen)

The N.W.T. government offers several programs to support these traditional practices, including a Hide and Fur program, which helps artisans access affordable materials; a Seal Certification program that gives Indigenous harvesters an exemption to the European Union’s seal ban; and the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program, which gives N.W.T. trappers access to the international fur auction market.  

She says in her eyes, all of this work isn’t just about changing anti-fur sentiment or getting consumers to purchase fur; it’s about something bigger.  “It’s part of our country’s move towards reconciliation of supporting Indigenous communities to have [economic] opportunities,” she said.

Knowledge passed down through generations

No fur from the territory is farmed, Tiemessen said. Fur farms breed and raise animals for their fur, and are considered cruel to animals that would otherwise be living in the wild. According to Humane Society International, fur farms have been banned in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Austria and the Netherlands. 

Instead of being farmed, N.W.T. fur is harvested sustainably by people like Nathan Kogiak. Kogiak, who is Inuvialuit and lives in Yellowknife, says he learned the skill of trapping as a young child, from his father. 

“He loved being in the bush. He loved being outside,” Kogiak said. “It’s definitely something that he made sure to teach me. How to trap, how to survive out there … what to do in certain situations. It was great knowledge to be handed down.”

Kogiak doesn’t rely solely on trapping for income — he has a full-time job with the N.W.T. government, working on the Hide and Fur program, and traps in the winter — but he has seen the prices of furs fluctuate drastically year to year, making his returns unpredictable. 

A man stands in a room holding up animal pelts
Nathan Kogiak, who is Inuvialuit and lives in Yellowknife, learned the skill of trapping as a young child from his father. (Nathan Kogiak)

He says he recognizes that the negative views of the fur industry play a role in how economically viable hunting and trapping can be. But this negativity, he suggested, stems from ignorance. “I don’t want that word [ignorance] to be demeaning in any way,” Kogiak said. “It’s just that people think that I’m trapping all these animals, but it’s really I’m trapping the sick, the injured and the old because those are the animals that are hungry, starving, you know, that can’t hunt on their own.” 

Healthy animals don’t go after the frozen bait he leaves in his traps, Kogiak said.

Kogiak says he believes the programs offered by the N.W.T. government are vital to help trappers continue this long-standing practice and keep their traditional fur economy going. And he hopes to pass his trapping knowledge down to his niece, who’s nearly three years old. 

“I don’t even know what generation trapper I am. It’s always been in our family,” he said. “It connects me with my culture. It makes me feel good about myself. And it’s just super relaxing, calming and something I foresee myself doing until I’m an elder.”

Artists Beatrice Deer and Julie Grenier talk about the importance of seal skin in Inuit diet and why sewing is a vital The Winnipeg Art Gallery launched a virtual tour of Qaumajuq — a new 40,000 square foot space devoted to Inuit art.Artists featured in Qaumajuq hope to educate Canadians about Inuit cultureskill in Nunavut.

‘Sense of identity and belonging’

Taalrumiq, whose home community is Tuktoyaktuk, says nothing compares to real fur when you’re out in the frigid N.W.T. temperatures.  “Fake fur falls short. It doesn’t have the same qualities or characteristics. It’s not as fluffy. [It] doesn’t have the guard hairs or the undercoat, like the fluffy, fuzzy undercoat. As soon as it gets wet, it’s matted, and then you’re going to have frozen ice around your face, which is not good,” she said.

“And it’s just not as beautiful and luxurious … not to mention, it doesn’t biodegrade,” she continued. “Real fur is biodegradable. It’s sustainable.”

Taalrumiq collects a lot of materials herself — like fish vertebrae from the beach, which she can turn into earrings — and with the help of friends and family. 

An Indigenous woman wears a parka with a fur trimmed hood.
Taalrumiq says faux fur doesn’t compare to the real thing when you’re trying to stay warm in the North. (Taalrumiq)

“A lot of times [the materials are] byproducts of subsistence living,” she said. “If someone has gone out hunting, things like the fur, the antlers, even the hooves … we’re not going to necessarily eat those parts, so then I can use them in my art.”

It’s what her ancestors did. And creating clothing and art that resembles the fine skills of her seamstress grandmothers makes her feel at peace, she said.  “There’s something to be said for wearing traditional clothing that just makes you feel proud to be who you are,” Taalrumiq added. “It’s so important [for] not only Inuvialiut, but Indigenous people to remember where we come from. Our connection to nature gives us a sense of identity and belonging.”

Part of her efforts to challenge anti-fur sentiment takes place on TikTok, where she shares funny skits, her art and sewing and aspects of Inuvialuit culture. She does get push back from people who aren’t comfortable with fur, but overall “the response has been positive,” she noted. 

“There’s still a lot of educating to do, but that’s good,” Taalrumiq said. “I’m here for it.”


Laura Beaulne-Stuebing


Laura Beaulne-Stuebing is a producer for CBC Radio’s Unreserved. She is based in Ottawa.

April 6, 2023


Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre celebrates history in reopening exhibition

1,000 art pieces to be displayed in 10 exhibits, marking centre’s reopening after 3 years

Danielle Mason smiles during an interview at MICEC.
Danielle Mason, the collections and library assistant at MICEC, is curating 10 new exhibitions based on the 1,000 items at the centre. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

CBC News: The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre (MICEC) in Winnipeg is back open to the public after three years of the pandemic.  Not only is it back open, there are plans for 10 new exhibitions — and the first documents MICEC’s own history as a non-profit organization that provides education and understanding of Indigenous culture.

A member of the public, Westin Sutherland, 23, from Peguis First Nation about 160 kilometres north of Winnipeg, said it was exciting to have the centre back open again. “It’s nice to finally be around fellow people that appreciate our culture and our languages and I’m just happy that we’re all here together again,” Sutherland said. 

“We need somewhere where we can learn about our culture, our languages, our history.”

WATCH | Cultural education centre reopens:

Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre celebrates history in reopening exhibition

Click on the following link to access the above video:

Danielle Mason, the collections and library assistant at MICEC, curated the current exhibition, Walking With Our History: MICEC through the years.

The 23-year-old from Fisher River Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation said despite being closed to the public through most of the past three years, MICEC kept busy with online services — like languages tables — to protect the most vulnerable populations. “We do work with a lot of elders, so we want to keep the space as safe for them as we possibly could and that meant keeping our doors closed longer than a lot of places,” she said.

Several small groups of people stand around inside the centre.
After three years of being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, MICEC has reopened to the public. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

Now that it’s back open to the public, MICEC plans to display the over 1,000 art pieces at the centre in a series of 10 exhibits over the next year. 

Although she’s primarily a textile artist, Mason said she’s proud of her work on the exhibition. “I think it’s a really nice illustration of not just the centre’s history, but sort of the history of Winnipeg and the history of Indigenous art.”

Mason said she hopes the collection inspires up-and-coming artists, draws more attention to the centre’s work and “warms the hearts” of the artists whose work is on display. 


Samantha Schwientek: Samantha Schwientek is a reporter with CBC Indigenous based in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). She is a member of the Cayuga nation of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and previously worked at CBC Nova Scotia. 

With files from Kevin Nepitabo

January 4, 2023

Marking 1st ever national Ribbon Skirts Day in northern Ontario

Ribbon skirts are often worn in ceremonies or special events, but can be for everyday use

Louise Jocko and Autumn Lewis, wearing ribbon skirts in front of their workplace N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

CBC News: Autumn Lewis from Wiikwemikong First Nation, Ont., has been wearing and making ribbon skirts since her youth. She even sews them for her seven-year-old daughter.

She plans on making a new creation to wear especially for Canada’s first ever National Ribbon Skirt Day — today.

Canadian Senator Mary Jane McCallum introduced a bill in March 2021 to have the day formally recognized.

At the time she said was inspired by 10-year-old Isabella Kulak. The young Saskatchewan girl had been shamed for wearing her ribbon skirt at school, just a few months before that.

Bill S-219, received royal assent and passed in Parliament in December 2022.

National Ribbon Skirt Day will be held every Jan. 4.

In Indigenous culture ribbon skirts can be worn in ceremonies or special events, but Lewis said they can also be worn every day. Each skirt is different and reflects the identity and personality of the owner.

Isabella Kulak, a member of the Cote First Nation, Sask., wears a skirt she made herself. In 2021 she was told her ribbon skirt was not dressy enough for a formal event at school, and shamed for wearing it. (Submitted by Lana Kulak)

Lewis is the healing and wellness co-ordinator at the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury, Ont. She holds workshops to teach others how to sew their own skirts as a way to help with their healing journeys.

“Letting them take the reins on what they envision in their ribbon skirt,” she said.

“It’s just really part of taking back your culture, giving to your own spirit and then just having a moment to feel special.”

Lewis calls ribbon skirts a ‘very important part of my culture, my identity’.

“I just feel very proud when I wear it.”


Louise Jocko, of Birch Island near Manitoulin, says there have been times when she felt apprehensive about wearing her ribbon skirt as well. She also works at N’Swakomok Native Friendship Centre with the homeless support program.

“I’ve come from powwows and I’m still wearing my skirt, and I come out of the car and in the back of my mind [wondering if] people are staring at me. But that really boils down to my self-confidence,” she said.

“It’s just being able to be comfortable in my own skin, at the same time as wearing the ribbon dress.”

About ten packages of colourful fabric and ribbon are laid on a table.
Fabric and ribbon are ready for sewing workshops showing participants how to make their own ribbon skirts, at the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury. (Submitted by Autumn Lewis)

Jocko added that when she can reflect her own identity and personality in her ribbon skirt that’s when she walks more confidently.

“Each person has their own story behind their skirts. Each person has their own colours that they bring with them when they make the skirt,” she said.

“I think it really does bring about the resiliency and it shows the strength in our people that we’re reclaiming that culture and identity, you know wearing these skirts,” said Jocko.

Jocko said she normally gets others to make her ribbon skirts. She recalls the only time she learned how to sew one for herself it came out shaped like a bell.

“I didn’t get the cut right and so it’s pretty baggy and it’s flared out.”

Woman wears homemade ribbon skirt with black and red poppy fabric, with a sewing machine in background.
Louise Jocko models the ribbon skirt she made herself using fabric and ribbon colours that are important to her. She admits she didn’t get the cut right and the skirt turned out too baggy and shaped like a bell. (Supplied by Autumn Lewis)

But Jocko said her favourite ribbon skirt has fabric with a northern lights pattern, and the seamstress embroidered two wolves on it. 

“Because it reminded me of my husband, who’s passed on now.”

To be marked every Jan. 4

Both Jocko and Lewis are thrilled to be wearing their ribbon skirts today for National Ribbon Skirt Day.

Jocko said as soon as she heard about the national day she immediately asked Lewis if she would be wearing her ribbon skirt to work that day.

“I’m so excited to actually get my daughter to wear hers to school,” Lewis said.

“Then seeing what kind of conversations come up in her classroom and what she comes back to tell me.”


Angela Gemmill


Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who covers news in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to

March 7, 2023

More than 350 Years in the Making: Moose Factory in Omushkego Aski from Time Immemorial to 1673 to 2023

NationTalk: MOOSE FACTORY, ON, March 7, 2023 – On March 7, 2023, in Moose Factory, Ontario, an Opening Ceremony will take place to mark the beginning of a year-long celebration featuring our Cree culture and heritage and commemorating “More than 350 Years in the Making.”

Established as Moose Fort in 1673, on a much older Cree gathering site, Moose Factory is Canada’s oldest continuous hub of Indigenous-European relations and intermarriage and a national historic site. The significance of the years 1673 to 2023, extends well beyond the establishment of a fur-trade post on Moose Factory Island.  It presents an opportunity to explore the broader and deeper history of the James Bay region, with emphasis on the heritage of hospitality and reciprocity that has seen the Moose Cree First Nation, the MoCreebec Eeyoud, and diverse Indigenous and European peoples living together in the region as friends and family for centuries. Our motto is Šawelihcikewin – translated as “receiving with gratitude with a desire to give back”.

The “More than 350” is led by the Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association (MRHHA) and the Moose Cree First Nation – the lead co-founding jurisdictional member of MRHHA – along with our partners MoCreebec Eeyoud, and the Town of Moosonee. The MRHHA has assembled many partners inside our region and beyond. Our events are taking place on location at Moose Factory and Moosonee, Ontario, and virtually by Facebook live stream.

Our events will feature music, entertainment, feasts, and workshops that are focused on reclaiming our culture, language, and heritage. An international Knowledge Keepers Conference will take place in the fall following on our annual Gathering of our People. This year of celebrations offers significant opportunities to further our community and economic development and for reconciliation in and beyond our region. We are now “Building a Future with our Shared Past.”

For further information: For interviews and more information about the “More than 350” events, please contact:

Cecil Chabot, Executive Director, Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association, 613-894-6283,,;

Stan Kapashesit, Director of Economic Development, Moose Cree First Nation, 705-658-4619, ext. 231,,

April 17, 2023

Fed. Govt., MB

On the way to Wehwehneh: What it takes to transform downtown Winnipeg’s former Bay

$130M redevelopment inching forward as title transferred to Southern Chiefs, but financing questions remain

A man in a suit stands before a row of elevators.
Jerry Daniels, grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, stands in front of the elevators on the main floor of the former Bay building in downtown Winnipeg. The elevators are slated to be removed as part of the redevelopment of the structure into Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

CBC News: There were only three floors open to the public when the former Bay department store in downtown Winnipeg was shuttered for good in November 2020. The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Manitoba flagship had been withering for decades, floor closure after floor closure, by the time the COVID-19 pandemic delivered the final death blow.

Above the main floor elevators once stood a broad mural, The Pioneer at Fort Garry, 1861, depicting interactions between settlers and Indigenous people along the banks of the Assiniboine River. The bucolic and somewhat problematic scene was squirrelled away to the Manitoba Museum in 2014. Now, the elevators themselves are slated to go, along with the Bay’s escalators, a few thousand tonnes of steel and concrete, and several centuries of historical baggage at the heart of the former Bay, in order to make way for a six-storey atrium.

Demolition is set to begin this summer to make room for the indoor open space, which is slated to be the central feature of Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, a $130-million redevelopment expected to open in phases starting in 2026, when the former Bay building turns 100.

A backlit statue of a bison on a table in a mostly empty departure store.
A lone bison stands watch on the main floor of what used to be the Bay building in downtown Winnipeg last Friday. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

“It’ll be a place that people love to be. A place for Indigenous peoples. It’s their home, and it’s a place they can feel welcome,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization during a tour of the former Bay building on Friday.

A year ago this month, the Hudson’s Bay Company — which facilitated the colonization of Western Canada more than 350 years ago — engaged in a ceremonial transfer of its 655,000-square-foot building at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard to the SCO, which represents 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota communities in Manitoba.

The formal transfer of title, however, was not completed until this March. The Southern Chiefs’ Organization has now spent six weeks poking around every corner of the building as it completes the designs for a reconstruction project that will take at least four years.

The plans include 300 affordable housing units, toward the south side of the building on floors three through six, for elders and university students who are members of southern First Nations.

A Hudson’s Bay Company museum is slated for the main floor. Two restaurants are planned, including a reopened Paddlewheel that may be moved from its former perch on the sixth floor to the second floor, near the entrance to the skywalk that crosses to Portage Place, Daniels said.

There are also plans for an art gallery, office space for Indigenous entrepreneurs, a health centre, a child-care facility, a seniors’ centre, a new seat of government for the SCO and a memorial for residential school victims and survivors.

A drawing of a large open space inside a buildung with a glass roof and a totem pole.
An architect’s conception of the atrium at Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn. (Southern Chiefs’ Organization)

Precisely where all the components go on the first two floors remains in flux, said Daniels, as his organization prepares to select construction companies qualified to engage in the often difficult job of adapting an old building for new uses.

A request for proposals will be issued to qualified firms in May. “You only get one crack at building a building of this magnitude and as significant as the Hudson’s Bay building, and we need to do it right,” Daniels said.

‘Larger cultural vision’

The more meticulous the design, the less likely it is a developer will have to ask contractors to make costly changes during the construction process. Change orders can very quickly drive up project costs, said Gursans Guven Isin, a civil engineering professor at the University of Manitoba who is an expert in construction management.

Nonetheless, that shouldn’t make developers shy about adapting existing buildings, she said. “There will be some significant costs associated with all of this, but examples from around the world show that usually it’s economically more viable to go with the renovation, instead of tearing it down and starting from scratch,” she said.

A man in a suit backlit against a window, with the Manitoba Legislature in the distance.
Jerry Daniels, grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, stands in what used to be the Bay’s Georgian Room, which looks south toward the Manitoba Legislative Building. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

Lisa Landrum, an architecture professor and associate dean at the University of Manitoba, said the Wehwehneh project should not be viewed through the lens of economic viability alone. “There’s an excellent, strong vision of reconciliation, which involves an enormous adaptive reuse project,” she said.  “But more significantly, it’s turning this mammoth building into a piece of porous social infrastructure which will change perceptions of citizens in Winnipeg for generations.”

The “little miscellaneous details that come through” during construction are manageable, she said, “but it’s the larger cultural vision that we want to keep our sights on.”

Funding still $20M short

At the same time, money does matter in this project. For now, Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn is not fully funded. The federal government is providing $65 million for the development in the form of a $55-million forgivable loan and a $10-million low-cost loan. Manitoba has pledged $35 million, with $10 million for the housing component alone. The City of Winnipeg has committed $9.7 million worth of property tax incentives, plus additional funds for streetscaping.

A bison statue rests on an empty display table on the main floor of the former Hudson’s Bay department store in downtown Winnipeg. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

Daniels said he’s not certain where the final $20 million will come from. “We’ll have to go get it,” he said, adding fundraising is underway. “Right now we have different proposals out, we have different partnerships out. We’re talking to the banks. So all of those are playing into this.” It’s also unclear who will pay for cost overruns on the project, should any emerge. Generally, that responsibility lies with the developer.

Daniels said if the project falls short, he would also approach other level governments for more funds. “Let’s face it, the city and the province and the federal government — this is their project as much as it is ours,” he said. Guven Isin said blown budgets aren’t a given, even for adaptive reuses. “It’s not uncommon to see cost overruns and delays in projects like that, but there are also successful examples as well. So it really depends on good planning and scheduling,” she said.

Landrum said she has confidence in the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and its architects. “This is one of the most important adaptive reuse projects going on in the entire country right now, and all of Turtle Island will have their eyes on it. So let’s do it right.”


Bartley Kives, Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He’s the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.

March 24, 2023

Quebec Cree launch knowledge festival to explain culture, history to non-Indigenous world

‘We want to share our culture. Who we are as Cree people’

A Cree man and a woman stand smiling at each other, dressed in full-regalia
Cree in northern Quebec are hosting the first-ever Cree Knowledge Festival this weekend. The hope is to share and explain Cree culture, history and teachings with the outside world and offer a way for Cree youth to deepen their connection with their culture. (Annie-Claude Roberge)

CBC News: Cree from northern Quebec are launching a yearly festival to gather and share with the world their culture, history, and teachings — and to help Cree youth reconnect with their roots.

The Cree Knowledge Festival is a virtual event happening in English and French on March 25 and 26. This year, it will take place in Chisasibi and will be shared online, but organizers say they want it to become an in-person, annual event.  “We want people to learn about us, we want to share our culture. Who we are as Cree people … and eventually [have people] come and visit us up in the North,” said Gaston Cooper, the executive director for the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association (CNACA).

CNACA is one of the groups organizing the festival, along with the Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association (COTA) and the Cree Trappers Association (CTA) and others. 

‘Cree culture alive and well’

“Our Cree culture is still alive and well. We need to protect it. Even with today’s society, you know, things are changing or moving very, very fast. We need to help our youth regain their cultural knowledge,” said Cooper.

The Cree Knowledge Festival will be full of Cree life, history and teachings and include traditional Cree storytelling, musical performances and panel discussions with elders, leaders and others. It will be an open platform, meaning guests will be able to interact with the panelists and ask questions during the event. 

A head shot of a Cree man.
Gaston Cooper is the executive director of the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association. (Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association)

“There’s always that transfer of knowledge that creates culture that’s done individually as families,” said Cooper. “Now we’re doing it at a global scale. And I’m hoping people [will] go and say, ‘Wow, this is very educational,'” said Cooper.

There are five panels including one called Myths, Reality, and Misconceptions with Cree Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty and Chisasibi Chief Daisy House. This panel is about Cree culture, colonization of Cree people, and myths about Cree people. Another panel will focus on the advancements of the Cree nation. 

“What are we good at? And what are the advancements of the Cree?,” said Cooper. This panel will include the chair of the Cree School Board, Sarah Pash; chairs of the Cree Health Board, Bertie Wapachee and Derrick Neeposh; the head of Cree Board of Compensation; and Creeco, the investment arm of the Cree Nation Government. 

A lot of pride 

“There’s a lot of pride among the nation,” said Cooper. They’re eager to show and talk about who we are as a nation.”

One of the biggest threats to the Cree way of life is the loss of knowledge as elders pass on, said Cooper. He said festival organizers want their event to be a source of reconnection to culture for youth and a way to gather and preserve elders’ teachings.

A Cree elder holds a small wooden canoe in front of the a teepee frame.
Cree Elder Eddy Pash will discuss how mother earth heals and how animals cleanse the soul. (Annie-Claude Roberge)

“The youth are caught between two worlds … with the high pace of technology sometimes our youth can get confused about where they come from,” said Cooper.  “I think this is an excellent opportunity for the youth to go back and be reminded of who they are as a nation.”


The organizers of the event made it virtual so it’s safe for everybody, as COVID-19 still has an impact. “As an added precaution, not to bring COVID into the communities at this time,” said Cooper, adding next year’s Cree Knowledge Festival will be in-person and in Oujé-Bougoumou. 

Organizers say it’s important to do this because the James Bay Cree play a big role in Quebec society.  “I do recall one time having a discussion [where] the non-native people were quite surprised and quite amazed and very often, I hear the comment, ‘I didn’t know. I wish I knew, but I do plan to visit now,'” said Cooper. 

An empty television set with elements of Cree culture, such as a teepee and a canoe.
The set for this year’s edition of the Cree Knowledge Festival. Organizers say they plan on it being in-person next year. (Andre Rousseau)

What pushes Cooper to do this on a personal level is his love for culture.

For the first 12 years of his life, he spent a lot of time on the land, while attending residential school and completing college. He grew up with a strong love and connection with the land along with his family roots, such as his uncle.  “The stories of the elders is what kept us going,” said Cooper.

Some of the musical guests include Cree Rising, a group from Chisasibi, Mariame Hasni, an award-winning singer, and others. There will also be fiddle player Jayden Ratt. Other Cree artisans will be showcasing their work during the festival.  For those who miss the virtual event sessions and panels, recordings will be made available through organizers’ websites. 

Christopher Herodier and Lori-Jane Pepabano will host the event.


Ethan MacLeod, Freelance contributor

Ethan MacLeod is Eenou from the Cree community of Mistissini in northern Quebec. He is one of the first graduates from the Iyeskuwiiu springboard to the diploma of college studies program, a new program offered by the Cree School Board and John Abbott College. He is also a new dad with an interest in music and writing and is now living in Montreal.

February 3, 2023

Reclaiming identity in the face of systemic erasure

Black Indigenous women shed light on intertwining histories during Black History Month

Tiara Cash has both Black and Indigenous heritage, but says she didn’t connect with her Indigenous identity until recently. 
Ben Nelms/CBC

CBC News: Two framed photographs sit on Tiara Cash’s kitchen table in her Coquitlam, B.C., home. “This is my mom and this is my grandfather, and they are both Black Native,” she said.

Cash’s great-grandmother on her mothers’s side was Chahta (Choctaw) and Tsalagi (Cherokee), while her great-grandfather on her mothers’s side was Chahta. They were also Black.

But she says her Indigenous identity was shrouded because of the U.S.’s ‘one-drop rule’ that came into effect around the 1830s. “If you had any percentage of Black within you or you had Black relatives, you were re-classified [by the U.S. government] … as white or Black,” said Cash, a PhD student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

A woman holds a photo of her grandparents in a gold frame
Tiara Cash’s grandparents, middle, pictured with the hosts of Bride and Groom — an early reality TV show where couples got married on air. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“I always knew I was Indigenous growing up but it’s only been in the last half decade that I’ve really been able to find community, do ceremony and have conversations around this,” Cash said. 

Despite having a sense of belonging within a Black community, Cash says her African ancestry has been difficult to identify because of a lack of documentation during forced migration through enslavement. “There was a stealing of your ancestors that happened from West Africa, and if you are lucky you can trace one or two of those ancestors back to Africa,” she said. “I was able to trace one.”

In search of ancestry

For generations, Cash says, her ancestors have been living in Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.  “Most of what I know about being Black is being Black American,” she said.

A woman stands in front of a wall of plants, looking into the distance
Tiara Cash is pictured at her home in Coquitlam, B.C., on Feb. 2, 2023. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

While the identities of Black and Indigenous people have been systemically erased, for many those lineages are also defined by resilience, resistance and reclamation. “It’s so powerful to come from ancestry of slavery, ancestory of genocide — that’s a lot of resilience that I carry within me and a lot of resilience that a lot of Afro Indigenous people have,” said Victoria-based Taleetha Tait, who is Black, Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en. 

A family stands on some steps
Taleetha Tait is pictured in her grandfather’s arms next to her mother in Texas. (Submitted by Taleetha Tait)

Tait has gone to great lengths researching and learning about her Black lineage, which according to a DNA test is most likely from West Africa, she says — but it’s been difficult to know for sure.  “We are descendents of human trafficking so I can’t go as far back as I’d like to,” Tait said.

She adds it’s a stark contrast to her knowledge of her Indigenous ancestry. “Those connections are much more accessible.”

Still, she says, she recognizes how government policy attempted to repress both identities. “My mother went to residential day school and my dad grew up in Jim Crow south in a segregated school — that is not that far back,” Tait said. Now, she says, she is witnessing both sides healing.

A woman stands in front of a black and red mural
Taleetha Tait is pictured in downtown Vancouver, in front of a mural by James Harry and Lauren Brevner titled Dreamweaver, about the weaving of cultures. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“I have so much compassion and admiration for the strength that runs in my blood,” she said. “I see the strength coming through on both sides.”

Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty

Despite the similarities and connections between her Black and Indigenous sides, Tait says there’s been misunderstanding or racism from both sides. “I have experienced microaggressions being Black and Indigenous — comments that are coming from a place of not knowing,” she said. “There’s a lot of explaining I need to do.”

Over time, though, her family has had more of an awareness of who she is, and of the parallels — rather than the differences — between both cultures, she says.

Cash says both histories are deeply connected. “These histories with land being stolen, children being stolen and people being stolen are all intertwined and they all come together,” Cash said. “And we can’t talk about Black liberation without talking about Indigenous sovereignty.” 

It’s something that Virginia-based Taylor McCarthy — who is Black and of the Squamish Nation — sees as core to her identity.

Two women smile
Taylor McCarthy, left, is pictured next to Elder Chief Janice George. (Submitted by Taylor McCarthy)

“My ancestors fought hard and never gave up,” McCarthy said. “It’s the reason why we have our songs and dances, why I can go to a restaurant as a Black person in general, I can have a job, be in the military and I have a Bachelor’s — it’s because of my ancestors on both my Black and my Native sides,” said McCarthy, who is currently serving in the U.S. military.

A family of four smiles
Taylor McCarthy, far left, is pictured with her brother Stephen, dad George, and sister Letha in Tacoma, Wash. (Submitted by Taylor McCarthy)

McCarthy was raised in Tacoma, Wash., by her late father, who was Black. He was born and raised in Charlotte, N.C.

Her grandmother, meanwhile, is from the Squamish Nation, and her grandfather is from the Sechelt Nation. When she was 18 years old, McCarthy moved to the Capilano Reserve, near North Vancouver to be with family there. “It was such a beautiful experience, I was welcomed with open arms,” she said. 

This Black History month, she hopes other Black and Indigenous people have the same experience of belonging and that “they have a community where they can thrive, with their language, culture, songs that they learn of the land, so they can share that with their grandchildren,” McCarthy said. 

“So that the culture on both sides is strong.”

March 29, 2023

Sacred Indigenous site opens in Edmonton’s river valley

‘Now we don’t have to leave the city to do the basic healing ceremonies that are necessary for our well-being’

A man stands inside one of eight doors of a large metal firepit at kihcihkaw askî
Project manager Lewis Cardinal stands inside the firepit at the newly opened kihcihkaw askî, a sacred site for Indigenous ceremony and prayer. (Samuel Martin/CBC)

CBC News: Hundreds of years ago, it was a place where Indigenous people collected ochre and precious medicines growing in the river valley.

This week, 10 young students walked those same lands at Whitemud Park — one of the first groups to visit Edmonton’s newly opened urban Indigenous cultural site, kihcihkaw askî.

In Cree, kihcihkaw askî means “this place here is sacred land.” The $6.5-million project is a collaboration between Indigenous elders, communities, and the City of Edmonton. “We don’t have a church, mosque or a cathedral that we can easily go to,” said project manager Lewis Cardinal, on a recent tour with CBC News. “This becomes that for us. Now we don’t have to leave the city to do the basic healing ceremonies that are necessary for our well-being.”

Nestled in a forest teeming with coyotes, deer and other wildlife and operated by the Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre, kihcihkaw askî is a vision more than 16 years in the making.

Elders and community leaders recognized the importance of such a site to strengthen belonging and connection at a time when more and more Indigenous people were moving to urban centres.

Over three days, elders determined through consensus that the 4.5-hectare site, just south of Fox Drive, was the right location. Rising up from the site is a grassy amphitheatre to gather and tell stories, not far off from a massive metal firepit to heat stones for sweat lodges.

Eight doors, facing various directions, can accommodate the different spiritual traditions of more than 60 First Nations that call Treaty 6 territory home. “Each nation that comes to this nation brings with it gifts and talents,” Lewis recently told an audience at city hall.  “When we sit in council, when we sit together as relatives and share, we learn and we create possibilities and a sphere of creativity that can change the future.”

A 9 year old girl wearing snowshoes stands in the snow with a 4 year old girl on her back.
Emery Riemer (right) said she was ‘practically floating’ on the snow in her snowshoes. (Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation)

On Tuesday, sun-saturated snow glistened underneath a cloudless sky as 10 Indigenous and non-Indigenous children raced each other on snowshoes and learned how to smudge.

Among them, Emery Riemer, 9, said it’s important to learn about other cultures. “Because then you have a better understanding of other people,” Riemer said. “So you can have empathy for others.” Riemer is part of the Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation inaugural land-based learning camp known as Blossoming Flower. Programming is based on traditional and experiential ways of teaching and learning..

‘Land is our classroom’

“It brings me to tears when I think about the amount of time elders have repeatedly reminded us as First Nations people that the land is our classroom and that we have to do whatever it takes to retain our language, and to have a land-based school rooted in cultural and language practices,” said Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, the foundation’s executive director. “It’s really the elders’ dream coming to life and I feel humbled and blessed that I’m able to help.”

A brown and grey single-storey building with solar panels on the roof, beside an amphitheatre structure.
The pavilion building and amphitheatre at kihcihkaw askî, a new sacred site for Indigenous ceremony and prayer in Edmonton’s river valley. (Sam Martin/CBC)

With Edmonton leading the way, Cardinal said five major Canadian cities including Toronto and Winnipeg are now pursuing similar projects, with interest from places as far off as Chicago and Melbourne.

Visitors have already included members of the Alberta Human Rights Commission and students from Edmonton Catholic and public.  “We found that it really helped these young people stand a bit taller and a bit more positive in the sense of who they are and where they come from, and those are the kind of things that we want to see,” Cardinal said.


Andrea Huncar Reporter 

Andrea Huncar reports on human rights and justice. Contact her in confidence at

May 28, 2023

Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation wants its youth to know the ways of their ancestors. So they took 20 kids 223 kilometres away from home to connect to their roots

​Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation wants its youth to know the ways of their ancestors. So they took 20 kids 223 kilometres away from home to connect to their roots

A sign at Gabriel Lake shows its location relating to other places in Labrador. Heidi Atter/CBC

CBC News: In the Country – Six kids sit on spruce boughs inside a white canvas tent, held up by wooden stakes. The fire in the wood stove by the tent door keeps the cool April air out.  “It’s breathtaking,” Ray Sillitt said, sitting on one of the sleeping bags. “This is one of the spots where our people used to live. 

“The Nutshimit to me is just very beautiful.”

Twenty preteens have been sleeping here, at Gabriel Lake in central Labrador, for the past 10 nights, spread between five of these tents. Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation runs the camp, 223 kilometres away from the First Nation reserve and well into Labrador’s wild interior. 

The kids sleep on layers of spruce boughs, a rug, a small mattress and heavy sleeping bags. Temperatures dip below zero at night and climb to 14C during the day.  Camp coordinators want these kids to experience what it was once like living on the land.  “They’re helping us learn more about our culture and they’re helping us know these things our ancestors did,” Ray said. 

The smoke from the tent stoves drifts up towards the stars, along with giggles and whispers, well into the early hours of the night. As night turns to day, the tents are quiet, but the camp coordinators’ cabin is bustling with activity.  Anniette Sillitt and Yvette Michel are awake early, cooking eggs and sausages. “It feels like you’re cleansing your mind,” Michel said. “Like you’re building your energy.”

A woman sits on a skidoo with two young children.
A young boy smiles while holding a fish
A young boy and girl lean over a cut open fish.
A fish is shown sliced open on a piece of cardboard on a picnic table.

For Michel and the other camp helpers, this outing is personal: a means of reconnecting with Innu children, of teaching them traditions that have existed for centuries. “The kids, they got to know me since we’ve been here,” Michel said. “They call me ‘Googum’, grandmother.” 

Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation held a pilot program in August to see how an overnight culture camp could work. The camp was successful, leading to the April trip. Michel cooks while keeping an eye on her two-year-old daughter and her four-year-old niece. She grew up spending mornings like these around No Name Lake in central Labrador with her family. Her father wanted his children to live, at least sometimes, the way Innu always have.

A woman sits by a hot plate looking back while a wood stove is behind her and clothing is hanging above it.
Anniette Sillitt cooks breakfast for the culture camp at Gabriel Lake. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

When he died 16 years ago, the family didn’t go out to the country as much. Until Anniette Sillitt decided that had to change in 2009.  “I realized that I have to go back. I can’t lose my culture,” Sillitt said. Sillitt returned to the country each year since. It was a different task to take 20 kids with them, but after only a few days, it feels like spending time with family, she said. 

A woman tickles her young child while the child giggles.
Yvette Michel plays with her two-year-old while food cooks at the Gabriel Lake culture camp. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

“Every night before bedtime, the kids, they say ‘Goodnight. I love you Auntie, Grandma,’” Sillitt said. “That feeling when the kid that you just met 10 days ago, they say they love you every night before bedtime, just melts my heart.” The current 20 kids filled up the camp in short order. The ad went up on social media with Sillitt’s phone number. It didn’t stop ringing. Now 60 kids are on a waitlist, she says. When everyone is fed, Michel’s focus quickly turns to teaching. 

A woman and girls each have their own bowls while they learn to make bread.
Yvette Michel teaches a group of kids how to make Innu bread at the Gabriel Lake culture camp. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

“Yvette’s cooking show,” Nykeesha Malleck calls it, as four girls surround Michel at a small table in the cabin.  They learn how to make Innu bread, a mixture of flour, baking powder, salt and water.  “I don’t use a measuring cup. I just [make] it by memory, by just watching my mom,” Michel said.  “By instinct, you know.”

A person holds up dough with a blue glove.
The kids at Gabriel Lake were able to make Innu bread, Innu pogeys and Innu donuts while at the culture camp. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Before long, 12-year-old Florrah Rich is helping the other girls learn. Florrah said her grandmother taught her when she was only nine, and she likes showing others.  “That’s how you pass on [traditions],” Michel said.  “If you wanna teach kids how to learn stuff, how to cook and how to make Innu bread, you gotta teach the first one. And then after that they get to be the teachers and they continue teaching the next person that wants to learn.” After their stomachs are full, it’s time to head outside along a shovelled path, two feet of snow at either side of them. 

A girl holds a wooden tool as she works to cut meat off of a caribou skin.
Florrah Rich works to cut off pieces of meat left on the caribou skin so it can be used in crafting. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

At the edge of the camp, a metre-wide circle has been shovelled out around a thick wooden stake.  Draped over the rounded top is a large caribou skin. Lyla Andrew works away, cutting the fat off the skin. “When they killed the animals, they cut the skin off, but it still leaves a lot of layers,” Andrew said: connective tissue, bits of meat.  “So you got to clean all that off in order to use the skin.”

A wooden tool with a metal edge scrapes meat off caribou skin.
Remaining bits of meat are cut off the caribou skin by pulling at it while using a wooden and metal tool. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Andrew quickly hands the tools to Rich and pulls the skin tight.  Rich uses a wooden tool with a sharp metal edge attached to scrape off the bits of meat that fall to the ground. Andrew shows Florrah how to pull the skin tight before handing full control to Florrah and 13-year-old Brooklyn Rich.  “It’s very calming,” Brooklyn said of being out in the country, working on the caribou skin. 

Innu hunters donated six caribou skins to the camp so the kids could learn how to work with them, Andrew said.  “This is our tradition of caribou,” Michel says.  “For us, caribou is like a signature of being Innu. We use everything, even the bones, everything that goes with it.”

A caribou skin hangs from a wooden stake onto the snow.
The caribou skin is draped over a large stake. The meat is removed from one side before the hair can be removed from the other. There are specific tools for each task. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

For millennia, Innu were nomadic hunters and gatherers throughout ‘Nistassinan,’ the Innu homeland that included modern-day Labrador and eastern Quebec.  In the early 19th century, trading posts were established in Labrador, bringing changes to their way of life. Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation history notes that the change from nomadic hunting to a livelihood from trapping resulted in Innu being reliant on European trade goods. 

Fur prices went down in the 1930s, and caribou herds populations dwindled. As a result, Innu were forcibly anchored into communities. The Innu of Labrador were one of the last groups to settle into permanent villages in the early 1960s. 

Four tents are shown on the snow.
Before being settled into communities, Innu in Labrador lived nomadic lives along the coast and following caribou in the interior, living out of Innu tents. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Around that time, government officials removed children from their families, placing them in other homes and residential schools. Innu children from Sheshatshiu were taken to the Mount Cashel Orphanage, where vulnerable children were abused for decades.  An inquiry into the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Innu in the child protection system is currently ongoing in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. The inquiry will lay out recommendations for change and reparation, and many Innu hope it will lead to them controlling their own social services. 

Today, deep in the endless Labrador taiga, the kids at Gabriel Lake can still feel the echoes of colonization. “Being Indigenous is really hard,” Florrah says, pulling the caribou skin tight. “You get treated differently and we lose our language.”

A girl cuts meat off caribou skin with a wooden tool and metal edge.
Florrah Rich works to cut meat off caribou skin at the Gabriel Lake culture camp. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

People in communities outside of Sheshatshiu give the girls dirty looks when they go to buy groceries or clothes, Brooklyn said.  “A lot of people are disrespectful to us. They say that we’re, like, different from them,” Florrah says. “They say that our culture is like, weird or something.” “Sometimes we get pointed at and laughed at,” Brooklyn adds. “Or they call us creatures.”

“Yeah, Indigenous creatures,” Florrah says.  “And people online are the worst,” Brooklyn says. “When I told some people online that I’m native, they called me a campfire dancer. Pocahontas.”

A girl holds a wooden and metal tool.
Brooklyn Rich works to remove meat from caribou skin. Rich said being out on the land feels free. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Innu Nation took over the schools in Natuashish and Sheshatshiu through the Mamu Tshishkutamashutau Innu Education School Board in 2009, but Brooklyn and Florrah say it is still difficult learning their language in the classroom.  “Most of us lost our language because of school,” Brooklyn said.  “We have an Innu classroom, but they don’t teach us…. It teaches us words. We have to like, figure out what they mean.”

Elder Elizabeth Penashue would come and talk to the class, make donuts, and take them to Rabbit Island, but Brooklyn and Florrah say more Innu-aimun in school would help them grow up immersed in their language and culture. 

a wooden and metal tool pulls at caribou skin
Knowing how to treat caribou skin so it can be used for crafting is one of the skills passed down at the Gabriel Lake culture camp. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

“Very soon, if we have kids, they might not know our language at all, ‘cause most of the kids in our school lost their language,” Florrah said. 

The renewed push to save Innu-aimun from extinction, she adds, is hindered by racism: by a deeply rooted fear of being othered, excluded and mocked. “That makes me feel like our culture and our language is like, just gonna change us even more,” Florrah says.

The judgement-free place to learn at the camp makes a difference for Brooklyn, though. “If we make a mistake in our language, they just teach us how to say it,” Brooklyn explains. “Makes me feel … a bit closer to our culture, and it makes me feel free.”

A girl stands on a boulder.
Brooklyn Rich stands on a boulder she climbed at Gabriel Lake. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
A pile of fur is shown at the bottom of the caribou skin
Florrah Rich uses a sharpened leg bone to remove the hair off the caribou skin. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

There’s been a difference in the kids during the 10 days, Michel says — and her own mental health — by being out on the land.  “Your health is improving, you’re moving, and I think it’s the same thing with these kids,” she says.  “It’s like regenerating your cells, like naturally breathing the air and having to make activities.”

Sheshatshiu culture camp takes 20 youth to Gabriel Lake to experience being in Nutshimit
See the culture camp held by Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and listen to learn what being on the land means to camp participants.

Click on the following link to access the above video:

After the girls scrape the meat from the caribou skin, they soak the hide overnight. Later, they’ll remove the hair with a sharpened caribou leg bone.  The kids have also been taught how to gut a fish, how to make bush pizza, how to clean partridge and how to make Innu donuts. 

A girl stands over caribou skin holding a bone.
Lyla Andrews watches as Florrah Rich uses a sharpened leg bone to remove caribou fur from its skin over a wooden stake. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

But they still talk back and forth in English, something Michel hopes to see change in the future.  While many of the kids understand Innu-aimun, none of them speak it fluently, and Michel hopes with enough immersion, they could start even incorporating Innu-aimun words when they talk.  The final night ends peacefully. The kids fall asleep among their pillows, a faint streak of green – the northern lights – dancing above them. 

A tent is lit up under faint green northern lights.
The faint northern lights shone above the Innu tents at the Gabriel Lake culture camp in April. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

As dawn breaks and frost covers the cabin windows, it’s time for the 223-kilometre trek back to Sheshatshiu. The kids are preparing for a 15-minute helicopter ride, then a two-hour drive.  “I got a big canvas to remind us that we’re all here,” Michel says.  “So everybody’s writing their names on the canvas, marking their hands on it.”

Michel says she and Sillitt want to hold other camps soon, with new kids from the waitlist, until all children in Sheshatshiu get the chance to experience being on the land. 

A hand print written in permanent marker says 'Terry Penashue, I'm going to miss it here.'
A tent and black bear are drawn on canvas.
A girl smiles at the camera with mountains behind her
A young girl smiles at the camera.
A helicopter lifts off into the sky with people watching in front of it.

The kids and coordinators helicoptered out of the camp on the final day.  “I’ve been feeling really happy ever since I’ve been here,” Florrah says, sitting in her tent, running her hand along the spruce boughs below her “I hope in the future to keep going to [the] country and learning my culture even more, in my language.”

“I was kind of depressed at home, but my mental health increased,” Brooklyn says. “I just hope I could do this all over again, but like, longer…. I hope I come back here in the future, with Yvette, my Googum.” 

A group of people stand on snow in front of trees and smile at the camera.
Twenty kids and a handful of workers spent 10 days on the land in April, 2023 in hopes to teach Innu youth how their ancestors once lived. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
Atlantic Voice: In The Country 26:10

Click on the following link to access the above audio:

About the Author

Heidi AtterHeidi Atter is a journalist working in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She has worked as a reporter, videojournalist, mobile journalist, web writer, associate producer, show director, Current Affairs host and radio technician. Email

April 12, 2023

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language panel will underscore link between economic reconciliation and cultural revitalization

NationTalk: VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Squamish Nation’s ongoing cultural revitalization will take centre stage at the 4th annual Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase (IPSS) when three members of a family from the Nation hold a panel discussion entirely in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language. This is the first time a business conference will feature a panel entirely in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim.

Held just after lunch on the first day of the conference and sponsored by TELUS, showcase attendees will be handed headsets as they enter the hall for the panel, through which they will hear a real-time English translation.

“Holding a panel in our language is both reclaiming and sharing our rich culture,” says Squamish Hereditary Chief Ian Campbell, chair of IPSS and one of the panellists. “I think it’s well-known that over the last decade, the Squamish Nation has been revitalizing our economy, pursuing developments and businesses that are creating prosperity and good jobs for our people, often in partnership. Perhaps it is not as well known that we have simultaneously been revitalizing our culture, including the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language. How we do business is grounded in our culture and cannot be disentangled from it.”

Chief Campbell’s aunt, Elder Vanessa Campbell, will handle the real-time English interpretation during the panel. She is among a handful of Squamish Nation members from her generation that has worked to revitalize the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language. She was an associate editor of the Skwx̱wú7mesh-English Dictionary and continues to work as an advisor to the Squamish Language Program. Encore Canada will handle the technical aspects of the translation, providing the headphones and other technology.

The other panellist will be Chief Campbell’s sister, Tsitsáyxemaat (Rebecca Duncan), who has been involved in the innovative language revitalization program over the last decade, developing curriculum for and teaching the language in an immersion program at the Nation’s K-7 on-reserve school.

Together, Chief Campbell and Tsitsáyxemaat will speak about the impact of colonization and residential schools on the Nation’s culture and language, in addition to the revitalization efforts underway and how it will impact the next generation. They will speak about the importance of the Nation’s community and history, their relationship with the land and each other, and how economic reconciliation goes hand-in-hand with language and cultural revitalization.

In addition to patron sponsor GCT Global Container Terminals, IPSS is made possible through the support of Enbridge Inc., TELUS, Beedie Development, Vancouver Community College, LNG Canada, Ovintiv, EQ Bank, Cenovus, Vancity and Teck Resources, and other valued sponsors.

Tickets may be purchased here.

Media contact:

Shawn Hall

February 27, 2023


The Building: Labrador’s striking new cultural centre

For the Nain project, Newfoundland-born architect Todd Saunders took inspiration from Inuit sod house shelters on nearby Rose Island

(Photographs courtesy of Saunders Architecture)

Macleans: The town of Nain, on the rugged, mountainous Labrador coast, gives new meaning to the word “remote”: it’s inaccessible by road and overlooks the wild Labrador Sea, which freezes for six months of the year. It’s also a gateway to the jaw-dropping Torngat Mountains National Park and an important cultural centre for Labrador’s Inuit community, who make up the vast majority of the area’s population. (Nain was founded in the late 1700s by Moravian missionaries.)

Until recently, the community had nowhere to showcase artifacts from its rich history. That’s why, in 2009, the self-governing Nunatsiavut government commissioned Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders to design the $19-million Illusuak Cultural Centre.

Illusuak’s exhibition area has floors of blue eyes granite and a view of the nearby mountains. The windows were constructed in pieces to contend with the area’s wild winds.

Saunders is known for creating contemporary geometric structures that draw from the striking landscapes that surround them. He’s also the architect behind Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn, a celeb-magnet destination hotel meant to evoke the stilted fishing structures built by outport settlers 400 years ago. 

For the Nain project, Saunders took inspiration from nearby Rose Island, specifically its sod houses—rounded, sunken temporary shelters the Inuit would build in the summer months. The result: a curved, flowing structure that features a café, a craft shop, studio space and a 75-seat theatre, as well as offices for the Nunatsiavut government and Parks Canada. The building opened in the fall of 2019 and now serves as a gathering spot for the community to celebrate its roots. So far, it has hosted grade school visits, presentations, meetings, cultural performances and weddings.

The centre’s gift shop and café, awash in spruce, sells locally crafted items—like beaded earrings and sealskin barrettes—and regional delicacies, like fish and brewis, a cod- and biscuit-based dish

Illusuak was built on solid permafrost in one of the country’s harshest, most isolated environments. Its building materials had to be floated in by barge. The steel-and-timber-frame structure is wrapped in ceiling-height windows and hand-cut Kebony spruce cladding, which will weather to grey with time, blending into Nain’s landscape. Inside, there’s timber panelling, stone floors and locally sourced sealskin floor coverings. Among the treasures housed in Illusuak’s exhibit space are Inuit-made soapstone pots and lamps and whalebone and ivory tools, some of which were returned home from the Smithsonian.

The building’s undulating shape wraps around the entire exterior. To find out where Saunders got his inspiration, look no further than its name: “Illusuak” means “sod house” in Inuktitut.

This article appears in print in the March 2023 issue of Maclean’s magazine.

January 11, 2023


Traditional winter dances make their way back into Indigenous communities after COVID restrictions lifted

Dances offer something to look forward to in the winter

Guests dance at the local Kahomni, Gahomni in Dakota, on Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation in Saskatchewan on Dec. 31. (submitted by Amos McArthur)

CBC News – Saskatchewan: Indigenous communities are celebrating being able to host in-person cultural dances after three years of online virtual events. COVID-19 meant no big public events — including cultural events — but round dances and kahomni dances are now coming back.

Elder Pete Bigstone, who usually celebrates his birthday by hosting a kahomni, had to put plans on hold for the past two years.

A kahomni is a dance where two people will two step to songs made specifically for the dance and sometimes take a turn to add to the steps. In old times it was a way for young men to show respect to the young women in courting, in public with little contact. The songs sing about love and even heartbreak, but it’s all meant to be a fun way to socialize.

This year, for Bigstone’s 75th birthday on Jan. 7, he was able to host a kahomoni at his home community of Ocean Man First Nation. Ocean Man is about 135 kilometres southeast of Regina.

Pete hosted a Kahomni for his birthday this year
Peter Bigstone celebrating his 75th birthday with Kahomni and cake. (submitted by Amos McArthur)

Bigstone, a Nakota speaker and teacher, has also been a singer since he was young and was taught traditional dance songs by his grandfather. He celebrated his birthday with a feast, songs and a dance, to bring people together to share laughter and take home some memories.

Pete Bigstone hosting an Kahomni for his 75th birthday on his home community of Ocean Man First Nation.
Guests and community members celebrate Bigstone’s birthday with dance at Ocean Man community hall.(submitted by Sam BigEagle)

These cultural dances bring communities together. People bring out their best ribbon skirts, beaded earrings, ribbon shirts and moccasins.

Amos McArthur, an advisor from Pheasant Rump First Nation, gets invited to emcee dances where he entertains with stories, keeps the singers on track and motivates people to get up and dance. “Having my father and my other relatives by my side, and teaching me and sharing the stories, I feel confident enough to get up there and to speak.” 

McArthur also brings his daughters Havana and Harmony along, to teach them the tradition of winter dances that go back hundreds of years and to be proud of their Nakota culture. He even jumps in with the drummers and sings songs his late father Armand passed down.

two step dancing at a Gahomni
McArthur and daughter Havanna step into the sweet heart dance. (submitted by Amos McArthur)
Importance of tradition

For some, events being stopped due to COVID-19 brought back memories of the Canadian government banning cultural celebrations for 75 years. The Indian Act prohibited the celebration of ceremonies and dance, including Pow-wows, from 1876 until 1951.

During that time songs and dances were lost, knowledge wasn’t passed down and communities were kept on reserve. Despite this, some Powwows continued in secret and began their resurgence with the emergence of Indigenous rights movements.

women dance in traditional clothing to dance
Cree/Nakota/Dakota/Saulteaux Women and girls dance on White Bear First Nation circa 1910. (Paul Seesequasis Facebook)

Heather Dawn Sparrow and her three children travelled two hours from their home on White Bear First Nation to a round dance on on Carry the Kettle Nakota Nation on Dec. 31.

“We drive two hours for a round dance because I want my kids to be successful in life without assimilating into the colonial system. We have our own ways of living life, and that balance of modernized Indigenous life means that access to our culture isn’t always readily available to us close to home.” stated Sparrow.

Heather Dawn with her three children
Heather Dawn Sparrow and children, twins Hosanna and Atarah, and big brother Brooklyn. (submitted by Heather Dawn Sparrow)

A round dance consists of a group of men with hand drums standing in the centre singing songs, and people dancing around the drummers in a circle. Some dancers join hands, while others prefer to go solo.

Originally started with the plains area tribes, the round dance has spread throughout Indigenous communities and was started as a means to bring communities together, usually during winter months, to share songs and stories and to have fun. The round dance songs usually consist of love, loss, and humour.

Sparrow and her kids were excited to be able to show off their newly made ribbon skirts this year. “Winter months are long. Round dances are a good way to spend time immersed in dance and music with my friends and family. I feel like it is important my children attend round dances to see that we are connected with culture all year long,” Sparrow said in a statement.

Dances usually start around supper time, with communities feeding the people, and can go late into the night, sometimes ending around 2 a.m.  At these dances you can catch shy teenagers grabbing their friends to go up to dance, young children giggling at each other, women sitting around sharing stories and young men learning from the older men on how to drum.

All are welcome to attend these winter celebrations.

young girls dance the night away in their skirts their mom made.
Heather Dawn Sparrow’s daughter and her friends dance the night away. (submitted by Heather Sheperd)

Louise BigEagle

CBC Journalist

Louise is a journalist with CBC Saskatchewan since September 2022. She is Nakota/Cree from Ocean Man First Nations. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina in Media, Arts and Performance.

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