The Arrival of our students is near…

The orange skies in late August always seem to bring with it cleaner air, drifts of fall leaves within distance, a litter of red, orange and yellow, a new season and a new beginning. Before the fall of this years leaves will bring the arrival of new students, some with experience, most with none, but all eager to learn, motivated to make a life for themselves. It will be a challenge to say the least, one of homesickness, financial uncertainty and many will be presented with a list of reasons to quit because often times it will feel as if they are trying to conquer a gauntlet, an obstacle course just as dangerous as the recent mud run I read about. Maybe not that dangerous, actually not dangerous at all, just difficult, in which adversity will be one of the many elements conquered for those who succeed.

However, although difficult, the Educational component and classroom lessons  should be appreciated in the moment, in which many friendships are born and different levels of thought from different cultures and backgrounds are shared and criticized, often giving the student an Education beyond the classroom, one learned about others, adding a trait of cultured to her resume. Meeting deadlines for essays or studying for exams, usually multiple in number at the same time, sometimes on the same day teaches her a valuable lesson in preparation, a lesson carried through her professional life and personal, which in hindsight, she will credit to her Education.

If I could give her some advice, I would advise that she study hard and play hard, the latter meaning that she enjoy herself and take advantage of all the programs her Educational institution has to offer or meet new people and the former in that, she is there to learn, a purpose that should not be forgotten. Although I repeat this often, but rightly so for its message, I would tell her that our Ancestors  fought for our right to an Education when they negotiated and signed the treaties, casting upon us as their Descendants a duty to attain one. The wise words of my good friend Justice Murray Sinclair, a knowledgeable man whose advice always seemed to steer me in the right direction.

So, as the night falls and her spirits follow, I sit and think back about my journey and I recall my first year of University when I lost my brother to cancer, then my second year, having to care for a new born, pulling out my calculator at the end of each month to calculate how much I could spend on food, gas and diapers. Finally, in my last year of my studies, 8 years later, having to steal money from that same baby’s allowance jar just to make ends meet, funds that were replenished of course. A journey that was difficult, many who will begin theirs this year, some who may not succeed, all I hope do, as I wish them well and safety, but encourage them to look beyond the obstacles when life decides to show her bad sense of humor. I would encourage them to look to their role models, the many diploma and degree holders, the many successes and see that if one can do it, than most if not all can do the same.

Racism. Just another perspective of a Nordern Anishinaabe man…

I often think of racism as a dark cloud, one that covers the beauty of the sun even at its strongest moments of brightness. Similarly, racism will create a barrier to seeing the beauty of a person at her brightest moments, to which there will be many overshadowed by judgment, creating an obstacle for her that carries with it many tears, heartache and a pain that hits the gut stronger than any punch could, leading to causes of depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse and humiliation. It is also the cause of broken bridges to which many were built, many more in the process, in a country that was once divided by it, one that will continue to be should ignorance and judgment continue to lead, rather than Education and compassion.

As I age my reaction to racism is met with disappointment rather than anger and the need to Educate rather than confront or retaliate, so as I read the headlines in Thunder Bay of a woman running a platform of hate directed against Anishinaabe people, I felt the need to react, but kept it limited. As I read the headlines of another woman broadcasting hate against my people, the wife of a Mayoral candidate in Winnipeg, a place I used to call home, I felt the need to react, but once again kept it limited. I took a step back and thought about it and I wondered what they were thinking and how they got there, my grandmother called this compassion, a lesson I only recently started understanding, years after her passing.  

Then I thought about my people, first and foremost, the young ones. I was at two different powwows this past weekend and I listened to the drum while the young ones dressed up in their outfits, whose parents or grandparents looked as if they put in long hours making them, danced proudly and honorably. I watched a young grass dancer with bright green regalia and a brighter smile dance hard, who knew where he was going and how he was going to get there, a jingle dress dancer with long black braided hair, unknowing of my admiration for her beauty of not just her rhythm, but where she came from and how she was being raised, evident in her brilliant stride, one of confidence.

I thought of our cultural practices, ones I continue to learn which teach the basic foundation of respect for each other, but more importantly, respect for the Earth beneath us to which we walk and care for so that our descendants may do the same. I was mindful of my grandparents who sung me to sleep every summer night with the setting sun in a North I call home, after a day of checking snares for rabbit and partridge and fishing the shallow waters for clams, a delicacy.

The image of them sitting across from one another, a burning candle and a cup of tea separating them, sharing a piece of bannock to which they both dipped in the rabbit stew we had for dinner that night still visits my dreams often. Anishinaabe grandparents creating within me Anishinaabe values, teaching me to love the people and land to which I came and learn from them the compassion and care they were blessed with.

So finally, I thought of my boys, aged 8 and 10, naïve to the path they are about to walk without choice, a path to which they will have to endure the hardships of racism and learn quickly how to cope with people who dislike them for their skin color or background, people who will judge them before speaking to them. They will have to be confused, lonely and humiliated and like many of the Anishinaabe youth beside them, before them and after them, they will cope and endure, which in turn, I am confident in saying, will make them stronger leaders because of the fact they will have each other and their families.

So as I watch the sun rise once again, a beautiful day awaits in a country that doesn’t seem to know which way it is going, with respect to unity or division as racist headlines caused by racist thought floods the news. The direction it goes I can’t control, the direction I go, I can, which encompasses a continuation of building bridges, educating the ignorant and encouraging compassion so that my children and their peers will have something to build on, which is a relationship I have with my peers, friends and the hundreds and thousands of others I will meet. The country I know from the people I know is going in a positive direction, the people I have met appreciate the need for Anishinaabe values, culture and our knowledge of the land.   

So, how these women got to the point of judging a host of different tribes, many of which I am still trying to understand is beyond me. All the teachings of my Ancestors, the land and all the compassion passed from generation to generation does not give me the ability to say or assume how they got to a point of expressing negativity on a culture so vibrant and beautiful, one derived from the very land to which they walk, to which they were born. Maybe an apology is in store? Maybe a little bit of compassion or Education, maybe a bit of both, or a lot of both, I don’t know. Perhaps a visit to a powwow or our home lands, to see where we come from and why God made us the way he did will allow them to see beyond the dark cloud before them now. 

Day 1 of my Family Re-union Trip. A Tiring Success…

This is a quick blog which means I will not have time to proof read, yes, another disclaimer. We left Thunder Bay yesterday, just my sons, Aunt and I. It was a nice drive and one that looked hot, the kind of heat, to which you can see its hazy mist floating in the air, the kind of heat that the moose hide from. That is what I was thinking anyway as I passed my hunting area, wondering where those guys were hiding or how they looked rolling around in the swamps, away from the bugs and heat.

In our travels we made a pit stop in Shoal Lake, pigged out on some powwow food and visited with many old friends I hadn’t saw in years. I also visited with my in-laws and reminisced about the days of fishing and hunting on the open waters behind them. We listened to the drum and watched the young ones dance around the Arbor, youthful legs and hearts optimistic about the world in front of them found in the circle around them. We didn’t want to leave as the feeling of family was found within the circle as if we were all holding hands sharing stories and laughs.

So we woke up today on the border of Ontario and Manitoba in a hidden corner of nowhere watching the sun rise outside our window. My baby is still asleep, a sign that our drive last night was a tiring one, but a nice one in which he got to visit with his baby brother and sister and friends. So I guess it is time to wake him up, eat some grub and hit the road to meet up with generations of Fox family, who are just as excited as we are to get there.

I like that we are all descendants of a generation that struggled for us, one that could foresee that we would be the positive change to their people at a time in their lives that optimism was difficult to imagine, almost impossible to see. It will be nice to see traces of our Ancestor’s humour, smiles and story telling as we all gather for a short time, but one important in that it will provide me an essential guide to carry on answering many questions I had about yesterday. Day 2 of my Journey continues…

This one is to my Cree Brothers in the North…

I received a message from Angus Miles this morning who is from Fort Severn, asking if I wanted some caribou meat, fish and Labrador tea, a diet of longer living. Angus is a good friend whom I keep tabs on through Facebook because he posts pictures of his adventures on the wild Cree prairies, so I like to think of them, but often called the barren lands, a word that does not best describe its beauty. If you have not had the chance to visit one of these communities sitting along the Northern edge of our province than you should add it to your bucket list of things to do.

It is a vast land of flat lands with caribou, moose and polar bears, just to name a few species, roaming freely giving a valuable source of nutrients to each other and the people. The Cree people have been in the territory as long as the sun has, sometime before the trees sprouted and their Creator gave life to the rivers. They know the paths and trails through the land and rivers to which maps aren’t necessary, just their sense and experience.

Their language is a unique God given dialect to which their stories and prayers are better understood, a soothing tone of whispers that can be heard if you are close enough. Their history is a tradition of living off and protecting the land, using the resources they were provided, thus, becoming experts and professionals in the Art of hunting, fishing, trapping and guiding. I once watched an old friend, Doug Kakekaspan, who has since left this world navigate the mighty Severn River, with the map of his memory, a stranded hunter I would have been without him.

I listened to his many stories of moose jumping over him while he did his business and watched him analyze the rocks we pulled from the rivers, this one is 500 years old and this one is 1000 years old he said, making me laugh, a shared one I will never forget. I laid with him under the Northern Lights as he listened to sounds I could not hear but see in his smile at a place called Rocksand that sits on the mouth of two worlds.

He knew the land beneath us, but also understood the trees and rivers around us. A knowledge I didn’t have but vowed I would learn, an inspiration rooted in culture and revealed in prayer. A spiritual teaching whether it was meant to be or not, a sacred relationship between the people, land and wildlife. One I never understood until we sat together and watched 3 bull moose swim by our camp, heads bopping in the water to a joyful rhythm of the river current. We leave those ones alone he said. A teaching from a keeper of the land, a message understood years later.

So, tonight I will enjoy my caribou meat thanks to Angus and dream I am in Fort Severn under the Northern Lights, a set of them unique to that particular place in the world, bright colors in waves illuminating a clear night sky, stars in the millions and the sounds of wildlife on the distant horizon. The laughter from stories told about my good friend Doug, a man missed but remembered and honored by the traditions carried on by his loved ones, like myself. I will never know the land as well as he did, but love it as much? I already do.

 

 

Nordern Perspective of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act…

I have learned as the law has taught me to give opinions with reason, logic and support, the support for my arguments expressed through words should be nothing less than a foundation of research and hard work. In saying that, my analysis of this Act is scratching the surface at best because I have yet to see its application in the courts, much of it imminent I am sure. An Act that appears to be creating more roads to them, than away and judges left with the task of it’s interpretation, analysis, application and ultimate judgment.

So I have read the Act in its form, a small Act with big hands and even bigger implications and at this point, First Nations communities should be posting their financial statements or risk having their funding withheld or any existing agreements in relation to that funding terminated. Hayden King has written an excellent article on possible, probable and likely implications with respect to Canadian society and Native and Non-Native relationships. Thus, I will try not to cover too much of his article avoiding any overlap with respect to societal implications.

The most I can do is offer the perspective of an Anishinaabe from the North who practices law, offering an opinion amongst diverse opinions of First Nations people, plenty to be made about this Act I am sure. In saying that, my opinion of the Act misses an element crucial to providing a sound analysis, I am not a Chief, Councillor and currently do not live in a First Nations community, just a First Nations citizen in love with Anishinaabe people and the Anishinaabe land around me.

However, my opinion is not formulated from an illusional pedestal of ignorance as many good friends are Chiefs and Councillors and many more who voted them in. My work and passion is also with First Nations people, involving a dream of providing a better life to my children and their generation, A dream of wanting to contribute with the skills and knowledge I have attained and using them to gain more, an Education never-ending.

In saying that, the Act in my initial reading appears to state simply, Chiefs and Councillors submit your financial statements or you and your people pay the price, one already paid and will continue, not just financially. Section 10 of the Act gives First Nations members the right to apply to the Superior Court of Justice to compel their leaders to abide by the Act, should finances go unrevealed. Here is the kicker, Section 11 of the Act gives anyone the right to do so, not just First Nations members living on or off reserve, which may have been a relevant clause for those having financial transparency issues with their leaders.

But my biggest issue with this Act is the part where financial statements of the corporate entities in relation to the First Nation must also be posted. Let me tell you why, my law practice involves helping First Nations incorporate or partner with other companies to develop in areas of mostly economic development. They see this as a chance for their people to become self-sufficient, a way to provide for themselves. What we do is set up partnerships in such a way to which the First Nation is protected but run by its Corporation. Thus, legally protected from liability and taxes, but making money, which in turn provides more funding for Education, training, sports programs and social assistance.

This Act will compel these First Nations to submit the blueprints to their companies which encompass their strengths, weaknesses and will be revealed to their competitors in bidding wars, to which there are many. Weakened against their competition, thus, weakening the concept of self-governance or sustainability through economic development, a thesis or belief, which speaks to the fact that in order to escape the chains of poverty, one must provide for oneself, a school of thought encouraged from the same Government imposing legislation to hamper that development. Confusing I know.

So what do I or we do now? We continue to deal with a Government who created an Act to which an ambush was waiting, a media blitz of a select few Chiefs with high salaries plastered on the news. A headline to which reading the story was no longer required or more importantly, a thorough investigation of the facts. Many who believed that our Chiefs were corrupt can now breathe a sigh of relief that they were right.

However, corrupt is not the Chiefs or Councillors I know but rather loving, trusting and compassionate best explains. A reason that what we do now is not worrisome, because how we do it is together, leadership with direction from the people, a concept the Chiefs and Councillors I know follow. An Act that will not weaken, but rather make us stronger.

Penasi Golf Tournament for my Brother Darryl…

Today we celebrate the life of Darryl Fox. It has been 11 years since he left us and I can still see his gentle smile and hear his quiet demeanor. He walked a path that was content with giving help to others through lending hands, an unconditional love natural to him, that most work a lifetime to attain, a compassion usually learned and developed over time. An avid hunter, fisher, golfer and lover of animals. He carried with him many stories of the land told through humor, memories revealed through practice of the traditions he left with us to carry on.

A brother gone whose spirit remains, existent in little ones like my son Kairn who cares for animals the same way he did and my other son Darryl Jr., who creates smiles through his witty sense of humor. Much like our trap line in the North they miss, but haven’t been to, but feel they have, they miss their uncle who hasn’t physically cared for them, but both feel he has. An amazing concept of our Ancestors dancing as spirits from generation to generation, a connection and relationship to which they will live with throughout their life bringing meaning to honoring their Ancestors.

As the pain matures and tears turn to smiles and loss turns to celebration, we accept that cancer and disease is a part of life existent for reasons we don’t understand, but lessons are taught that life is a gift to be opened each day, something our loved ones gone physically but here spiritually, would want us to do. A gift and life lesson to appreciate that the world wakes up every day with a different plan, but the same optimism as we should.

In saying that, the sun is up and I will honor my brother’s memory by not just playing golf, but sharing a day with family and friends while envisioning him hunting, trapping and fishing on the muddy banks and shores of our heavens with an endless playlist of Coldplay and Goo Goo Dolls, his all-time favorite tunes. Our loved ones are never gone or forgotten but always remembered and honored and I see him in my sons every day, their growth is from the push of his spirit, a love found within them that will express itself over time.

A Requested Blog About my Son. One read by him Years from Now…

My 10-year old son saw my article on CBC and read it. He asked if I would write about him. So this is to you my boy. You were born during my first year of University, technically my 2nd, but the year prior I had just lost your uncle, my brother, a good man; and I would be content to say the year was a waste. The loss of a loved one is never easy because the human condition is structured in such a way we attach to others, spiritually. You will find this with the love you have for your mother, brothers, sisters, the woman you one day marry, your children and of course your old man, but remember those who find that love for their people make great leaders.

The loss of that attachment is a painful one, an empty space attempts to fill the void of the loved one whom once stood before you and made you smile, laugh and helped you dance around your greatest fears, a dancing partner gone, existent somewhere between a memory and prayer, teasing you in your dreams. An unfortunate but necessary part of life, a reason to appreciate today and those in it because life has a funny way of making you think that once you have a grip on it, you actually don’t.

This was the way my life was when I lost my brother and I wandered aimlessly, attempting to avoid the obstacles rather than defeat them, then your mother informed me you were on your way. I was told that Anishinaabe children choose their parents and that I should feel blessed and I did. I pictured you a youthful, playful and somewhat rambunctious spirit anxiously waiting to meet his father, confident he made the right choice.

You were due on a cold Winnipeg night, the roads I travelled to get to you were slick with ice and the Arctic winds from Churchill made their way through the prairies bouncing off the homes like waves hitting rocks. If you ever watch waves collide against rocks or a drift of wind so cold in its power, you will see the power of Mother Nature, sometimes mean, taking lives when she wants, many lives lost in those winds appearing deceitfully graceful.

At that moment I would pray to her and ask her to get you here safely and I made a life long promise to her that I would protect you. A promise I have kept so far, one that did not come for free as she wanted something in return. You see my boy, my relationship with her is now a rocky one at best, a past we share in which I went against her wishes of returning me home.

A time you may remember when I was caught between two worlds, fighting to remain and walk this world with you, at least until you didn’t need my guidance anymore. This story I will share with you another time, a time when you can understand the concept of life and death, both of which I have experienced and the latter experience carrying with it a reason I have yet to discover, one that will reveal itself in time, we call those teachings.

When you arrived in our world you were tiny, with a full head of thick black hair, a beautiful trait making you unique to me and dark brown skin that would determine where you came from, a land of beautiful songs, a drum beat heard in the womb, one needed to feed the air into your lungs. Your dimples were the first I saw, which helped turn a nice smile into a beautiful one, dimples that your wife will love and admire because her children will carry the same.

The giggles and cries were one of the same, a language you spoke we didn’t understand, only understood in the world to which you came from, the learning of our language would take you years. Our first summer was spent together and I stayed home with you, much like a mother would I fed you and rocked you to sleep while singing to you. I sung you little lullaby’s and held you, just a little bundle in my arms and the reason for everything amounted to those moments, the reason for my hurt and loss was for the right to be your father.

At the age of 10 you and I have endured more than most fathers and sons have because much like I, you almost had to experience the loss of someone you were attached to, you would have been left with a lifelong void, something you didn’t deserve. So I am grateful we are here together as we embark on this journey, one that includes my career and your upbringing in a generation that is changing the social fabric of our Nation, one to which you will be a fundamental building block, one to which you will succeed and the reason for your success will be the love from those who love you most.

You and I were united when you granted me the honor of being your father and our only duty is to make this work, give each other guidance, love, companionship which in turn will lead to an abundance of treasures on a journey in which we search for truth and try to understand principles that can right the wrongs or correct infractions against a Nation to which we were born.

Thus, our strongest bond is part of a larger brotherhood, in which a tradition of teachings guide Anishinaabe values that will help us stand proud and one day when we float toward the sunset on the Sachigo River, our traditional land; we will discuss the accomplishments and obstacles conquered and we will do it as father and son, an attachment of spirits never broken, continued in all worlds, not just this one.

 

Oh Sally Girl…

You will never believe this but I fell in love with a cat, once a kitten, just a tiny spirit that walked tiny footsteps, footsteps unafraid, ready to take on the world, a lack of fear which may have caused her eventual exit to the world that wanted her back, understandable.

Our relationship began when she came home, just a tiny kitten. She wanted to sleep with me but her nails were too sharp and her cries were too loud. I put her outside my door and locked it when she managed to sneak around to the loft stairs, an alternative entrance to our bedroom and leapt a determined leap, from a height that could have killed her. I gave in and let her sleep with me, a tiny bundle in my arms and we were connected, a connection so strong that she learned to carry the confrontational yet loving Anishinaabe spirit that I do, an extension of one another we became and still are.

Endless nights were spent together as I endured the toughest test of my life, the Bar Admission Exams to become a licenced lawyer. Sleeping by my feet and next to my notes, she would wait like a child waiting for her dad, the loving support in a partnership to which her love was needed. They say that the animal kingdom and its spirit world runs parallel to our dreams, spirits whom never fully enter our world, afraid to lose the unconditional love they give of never judging but supporting. Loving and supporting is all she did, all she knew and how she will be remembered.

Sally was her name and her time with us was short, but love was her gift and companionship was her strength. Just a cat she was not, a living being she was, with a home and people in it who loved her. Her presence will forever leave a tiny imprint on our hearts and when I see her again my brother Darryl will be holding her, saying sorry, I just needed my cat back.

North American Indigenous Games and the Power of Sport…

I left home at a young age, home being Bearskin Lake, Ontario. A playground for God’s children, a piece of land wedged between snake shaped rivers, deep lakes with mystery wandering its bottoms and a wildlife content with providing our stories. A place for the retiring mind where our dreams can rest, where a life will reach its end, a place I will return. It is the peak of my mountain in life, a mountain I will conquer having looked down on all my successes as I watch my final sunset and wish the best of luck to those beginning to ascend, those about to see what I saw but in a different light, a better one.

Like a child taken from his family, a part of me lost something when I was taken from my land, a way of life I will need to re-learn, however, I had gained a knowledge in sports that can be taught no other way except to play. I was given a chance to play a game I grew to love, a game that found a heartbeat within me, revitalizing a spirit of broken generations, a breath of fresh air found in the cold air and rinks I was immersed in.

Hockey was a resurrection, it was a teaching that taught me the feeling of pain, hurt, love, insecurity, confidence, adversity, teamwork, knowledge, toughness, discipline, dedication and hard work. Essentially, life lessons, valuable principles that built a foundation of success, no matter what I chose to do with it. It also allowed me to form friendships and bonds I would not have found elsewhere. It was a bridge between my world and that of others, a brotherhood needed to succeed as a team, family values needed to win.

I once played with a guy from Miramichi, New Brunswick who admitted that before he met me he didn’t like Indians and that I was the first one he met, his father was a lobster fisherman in the Burnt Church dispute. We became best friends and golfed almost everyday, but backed each other up on the ice more than once, I don’t know who was tougher between us, but I know we grew to love and respect each other, which in turn changed his outlook on my people, we still talk to this day.

I played with a guy from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, a red headed quiet fellow, who took me for dinner one night and admitted to me he was half native. I had no idea and he showed me his mom’s status card, a beautiful Plains Cree woman, smiling at me a painful smile, telling me stories through her son, a son who loved and missed her. Her status card he carried in his wallet all his life, looking at it daily, reminded of who he was, praying for strength to be proud, a prayer often unanswered, one he needed my help with. He is one of many I remember and always will from my journey.

The power of sport is like the power of prayer, it is like the power of the land, it is a seed planted in the heart and soul of those who engage, growing and expressing itself through the spirit of our children and our youth who will become leaders not just of tomorrow, but now. Sports, whether it be hockey, golf, baseball, basketball or swimming, is a lesson in growth, teamwork and overcoming adversity with hard-work, it is a necessary instrument in the development of a Nation, much like Education, it needs to be harnessed, encouraged and supported by all people of all ages, Native and Non-Native, those who believe in a better society and better country, one to be proud of.

So as I sit and listen to the many little warriors fighting for gold in Regina, Saskatchewan at the North American Indigenous Games, I sit with pride, knowing some Bearskin Lakers, Shoal Lakers, Treaty 9’ers and Treaty 3’ers compete, but most of all, proud because the fact that an entire generation of leaders are developing principles so valuable they cannot be explained, we can only wait to see the outcome. A generation that does not climb a mountain of life like I did, but builds it, that is called innovation. Our only duty as their guardians is to promote and encourage, then watch them flourish, a revolution of leaders developed from the power of sport.

Wab Kinew as National Chief: from the perspective of a Nordern Anishinaabe man…

The Assembly of First Nations meeting is taking place right now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the land of our Mikmaq and Maliseet brothers, its mig-ma not mic-mac I was always told when I lived with the people of Red Bank and Eel Ground in New Brunswick. Very nice people who took care of me during my time there and I found them very similar to the many First Nations from home, but also different in many ways. In saying that, what does it take to lead the different First Nations from the East to the West Coast? A tough proposition. A decision as to who will lead will be made in Winnipeg this December.

I have been reading articles about Wab Kinew running for National Chief and I am keeping a close eye on the results when they come and I am hopeful he is selected, a little bias yes but I will tell you why. Wab and I are the same age, we both originate from Treaty 3, myself from Shoal Lake, he from Onigaming, and our fathers are remembered as prominent leaders of their respective Nations who did so at the same time having worked together. My father was Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski-Nation, Treaty # 9, while Wab’s father served as Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty # 3. I also became good friends and worked for Wab’s sister Diane Kelly during her term as Grand Chief of Treaty #3. Many connections through family, but the strongest connection being the land to which we come from, a vast territory of Anishinaabe people.

I stated yesterday that Wab running for National Chief is a good thing and let me say why. He represents a generation of change, a generation of next, in a world changing extremely fast. He represents my generation, one that is often forgotten by Government, a mistake. Residential school survivors but not quite, because we didn’t actually attend, just raised by parents who did, but survivors nonetheless who heard, experienced and lived the stories of the wrongs committed to the people we love. A generation that overcame huge obstacles to become educated, empowered and innovative thinkers, but rooted in our land, culture and traditions, an awesome combination, a scary one for the Government.

The criticism against Wab is that he does not have the experience, might be putting the cart before the horse . As I stated before, I don’t know enough about the 633 Chiefs and how they might vote to form a valid opinion. But in my personal opinion Wab running for leadership sets a precedent for young Anishinaabe to put their names forth to lead in different capacities. It gives them the courage, inspiration and confidence to do the same within their communities, regions or like Wab, at the National level, in both Native and non-Native politics. A success within itself.

So in saying that I wish the very best of luck to my friend Wab. The campaigning and election will be a daunting task, but the task of being a National leader is not an impossible one.  Our territories in the North are rich with resources, stories and teachings. If my readers have visited our communities in Treaty # 3 and Treaty # 9 they will see why Wab is well developed in the art of story-telling and communicating and why young lawyers like myself understand and study the laws that govern our people and lands, a skill needed to protect both the latter and former.

A national leader like Wab from a territory strong in Anishinaabe values, will bring them to the forefront of an organization in need of restoration and I believe he will be a positive change in one that needs it, a concept that our generation represents, positive change.