Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday August 26, 2009

Taking the message to the villages, a snapshot for a budget review at recreation and Gary Coons offers up his thoughts on a possible BC Salmon summit.

THE DAILY NEWS, Front page story, Wednesday, August 26, 2009
MICHELLE SAM HAS A MESSAGE FOR COMMUNITIES-- A UNBC Professor in First Nations social work policy spent a number of days outlining her thoughts on how to empower First Nations Communities to take hold of the future. Wednesday's Daily News outlined some of the points outlined by Michelle Sam, Professor of First Nations social work policy. (see story here) item is reproduced at the bottom of this post.

The city's recreation department sees a review as a the financial picture for the various recreation pursuits of the city comes in for its regular look. This years financial figures show some lost revenue as past events were either cancelled or moved over to other venues in the city (see story here)

Chatter over the proposed HST continues to heat up and some of those local comments made their way into the Daily paper (see story here)

It`s a long climb to the salmon summit proposed for BC by local MLA Gary Coons, but he continues to advocate for such a forum to address the troubling state of Pacific salmon industry (see story here)

NORTHERN VIEW website extra
SOLLY'S PUB CLOSING DOWN THIS WEEKEND-- A long time favourite watering hole (and eatery too) for Prince Rupert will close its doors on Sunday, as Solly's struggling financial as far as the folks at West Coast Hospitality are concerned. The managers of Chances and the Coast hotel outline their reasons for shutting down the east side neighbourhood pub (see story here)

Daily News, headline, front page story:
Michelle Sam has a message for communities
By George T. Baker
The Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heading towards the future requires coming to terms with your past, says Sam.

Michelle Sam's message rang loud and clear and she spent the week sharing it in many Aboriginal communities around the North Coast - communities that still find it hard to deal with their history. Visiting Metlakatla, Hartley Bay and Kitkatla, Sam presented her rationale for rediscovering their ancestry. "It's about an acknowledgement that we need to do things differently," said Sam. "It's an acknowledgement that our history has been shaken but not destroyed."

It's an empowering message and one that perhaps needs to be shared as often as possible, said The University of Northern BC professor of First Nations social work policy.Doing things differently could take on a different aspect for Aboriginals in Canada, who are faced with many challenges few other Canadians have. One of the greatest hurdles is how much - or little - today's aboriginal understands his or her history.

Low levels of literacy, disproportionate health concerns and falling behind on economic growth charts has created a society that is distinct in Canada, but not always in a positive way. However, Sam does not discuss these issues directly. Her talks are far more focused on the realities of a society that was stripped of their culture throughout most of the twentieth century. She's concerned with the implications of that denial of rights and what effect it has had on Aboriginals living in Canada today. "

We don't talk about the realities of welfare, poverty and childcare because in a lot of places these issues are seen as baggage," said Sam.

Sam said these are the very reasons Aboriginals in this country need to really change how they view themselves and their culture's role in Canada. None is bigger than how education and history are valued. And that begins with placing value on the stories that used to be shared among communities.

"We have to put our stories back into our lives to understand our hopes and dreams," said Sam.In some ways that is happening in Prince Rupert with programs such as School District 52's WAP SIGATGYET, where the Tsimshian language of Sm'algyex is nurtured.

However, Sam said she sees contradictions in the way that Aboriginals are trying to fit their culture into western society.

In her presentations, the UNBC professor talks about trying to rebuild and honour the indigenous community and be responsible in a western world at the same time.

Sam has had to come to terms with her own past. Once a homeless woman living on the streets of Toronto, Sam was eventually able to turn her life around, and has since earned several university degrees. She said reconnecting to her heritage was the most crucial aspect of her self-empowerment, which she now shares with others.

"I talk about the things I have learned that have helped me and others to once again invigorate transformation traditions," she said. "

From exile to nation rebuilding, cultural continuity and good governance - we can do so through reviving our ancestors and our roles as ancestors to someone we might never meet."

She talks with communities about what is happening in the world, such as the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Child Rights, and Education as the new buffalo: what does that mean for our children? (Tasking research, relationships, roles and developing responsibility across generations) and about what Aboriginals can do at home to encourage educational success.

Canada is not a signatory on the Declaration. She believes this is because if the federal government were to do so, it would mean that it would have no choice but to accept that the country has not respected the pre-existing rights of Aboriginals. But, she argued, it would be more beneficial for Canada if it did accept that fact because it would allow Aboriginals to feel more at peace with who they are.

And if they reach that point they can do just about anything. "The more people acknowledge their inherent rights, the more people we have that are prepared to accept their roles in society," said Sam.

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