Blanket Exchange

An exciting theatre workshop based on the Blanket Exercise we use in our Treaty Workshops. Register early!

Blanket Exchange

Why Elsipogtog Matters

A conversation about the land

On October 17, 2013, after months of vocal opposition, the Mi’kmaq defenders of the land in Elsipogtog we attacked by RCMP officers and their dogs.  What led to that confrontation and what does it mean for all of us living together because of a treaty relationship?

Please join us for learning and discussion on Tuesday, October 29 and 6pm at Gallery 101, 301 Bank Street (upstairs).

We will touch on three related areas:

Spirit: We feel such a connection to land that we will cry when we are told news of environmental devastation and distruction. We cry because we feel the pain of creation whose health has been compromized. Elsipogtog teaches us that our bodies should defend the land so that our grandchildren have something left to connect to.

Legal History: The Mi’kmaq signed a peace and friendship treaty in 1761 so that the English could settle but not to trample Mi’kmaq interests; the land was never relinquished. Before they came for shale gas, they came for the timber, the fish, and the wildlife. However, look forward to modern times the Canadian Supreme Court’s judgment in 1999 recognized Mi’kmaq rights under that treaty. What does that mean for resource extraction?

Fracking: What is it? Why do we use the technology? What are the social and environmental impacts? What is being done and how can we inform ourselves and voice our opinion?

For more information please watch this space or

Baamaa pii ga waabmin!
(see you soon!)

aabawaa, aabawaawindam, kinoomaagewin

Dr. John Borrows explains the meanings in Anishinaabemowin of aabawaa, aabawaawindam, and kinoomaagewin. Changing of seasons, spring thaw, forgiveness and learning from the land. Recorded at Niigaan: In Conversation, June 8, 2013.

Solutions through peace, friendship and respect

John Borrows will be presenting at Niigaan on June 8th. Read his bio here:

Indigenous peoples’ lives are drastically shorter than other Canadians and marked by more suffering as measured by considerably higher rates of poverty, injury, and incarceration, and significantly lower levels of education, income and health. This did not occur in an instant; we have long passed the “tipping point” in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and others. We are in crisis mode, and at this moment in time there is no politically-driven prospect of salvaging the relationship; it is already broken and lies in ruins all around us.

Indigenous peoples are living through a period of profound, extended, multi-generational trauma, and this issue only comes to the attention of most Canadians every few years. At the same time, Indigenous activism is ever-pervasive and is always present within and outside of Indigenous communities. Though Indigenous activism does not often rise to the level of national ‘news’, Indigenous peoples have long taken daily and longer-term steps of resistance to protect their lands, languages and resources, even while others within their midst ‘silently’ succumb to the despair spawned by the overwhelming challenge of finding success in these endeavors.

Within current structures, the Canadian government cannot and will not be able to effectively address Indigenous issues, either through legislation, litigation, education or economic development. Throughout history they have tried—and failed—again, again, and again. No political party or philosophy will solve these issues under our present political configuration of power. We are experiencing a moral, cultural, structural, and spiritual problem of the deepest order—answers to these problems rest on intangibles which cannot be manufactured through policy or solved with money. Solutions will never arise unless we take greater steps to cultivate practical goodwill in our own and others’ hearts and minds. I will discuss the issues of peace, friendship and respect which must lie at the heart of any movement towards better relations in this field.

KAIROS calls for “right relationship”

Ed Bianchi will be presenting at Niigaan on June 8th.

KAIROS is 11 Canadian churches and religious organizations working on social justice, including Indigenous rights. Although KAIROS was formed in 2001, its Indigenous rights work stretches back to the late 60s and early 70s when churches realized that the historical relationship with Indigenous peoples had to change, and change drastically!

The change involved acknowledging that the churches’ relationship with Indigenous peoples is founded on colonial practices and attitudes. It involved shifting the focus of this relationship to the recognition and implementation of treaty and Indigenous rights; to a just, nation-to-nation relationship based on solidarity with Indigenous peoples. It involved engaging in public education and political action with governments and corporations on social, economic, environmental and cultural issues.

KAIROS calls for “right relationship” with Indigenous peoples. This means educating ourselves about how we, as churches and as settlers, have contributed to the oppression of Indigenous peoples, and how we continue to do so. It means listening and learning, dialogue and action. It means understanding the racist attitudes and policies that are at the root of current inequities and injustices. It means shining a bright light on our colonial history. It means understanding the need for systemic change.

For KAIROS, being in “right relationship” means acknowledging that we are all “treaty people” and that that means working collaboratively towards a more equitable and sustainable society. It means becoming aware of the fact that ongoing violations of Indigenous rights and sovereignty are harmful to the land and water upon which we all rely. It means understanding that injustice impacts us all and that solutions lie in working together towards our collective liberation. In short, it means realizing that, as the Anishnaabe prophecy declares, Indigenous and settler must come together to build the “8th Fire” of justice and harmony.

Ed Bianchi

Niigaan: An evening of conversation

Saturday, June 8, 2013
from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Tabaret Hall, University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland St
Ottawa, ON Canada

Book your tickets!

Niigaan: An evening of conversation will centre on treaty responsibilities and understanding the treaty relationship that formed Canadian society.

Host: Waubgeshig Rice
Speakers: Chelsea Vowel, Ed Bianchi, John Borrows, Shiri Pasternak, and others


Inform on:

  • Indigenous protocols, cultures and traditions
  • Indigenous perspectives on the treaties
  • Settler interpretations of the treaties
  • Treaty scope and meaning

Share ideas and discuss solutions:

  • Brainstorm possible activities to recognize and respect treaty responsibilities
  • Possible creation of a treaty working group
  • Encourage personal commitment to making change

Participate in ceremony together
Build a nation to nation relationship for positive change