cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: canada

Native peoples in Canada

I’ve been reading and learning about Native peoples in Canada in the past two months. I think it was Sarah’s lending me Children of the Broken Treaty that started it. Here are things I’m finding:

Montreal is on Haudenosaunee and Mohawk territory

Maps that show territories and languages

Wampum Chronicles

Hochelaga Rock

CBC series 8th Fire

Maps from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada



Turtle Island Reads

I attended the very first edition of Turtle Island Reads tonight at the Kahnawake Survival School, and it was really wonderful. Over the weekend I read Children of the Broken Treaty by Charlie Angus, and on Monday I found out that McGill was holding a week of events focused on First Nations people and issues, of which this event was a part.

We took the bus across Montreal, over the bridge to the South Shore, and into the Kahnawake reserve, which greated us with a painted boulder that read “THIS IS MOHAWK LAND”. We arrived at the school after driving on a road that cut through forest and was lined with stores with names like “Four Winds Trading Post”, “Little Chiefs” and “Big Bear”. A car in the parking lot of the school had a bumper sticker of some school whose sports teams were the “Mohawks”, only they actually are. The school’s insignia was an enormous line drawing of an eagle with a large circle around it that bore the school’s name.

The event felt incredibly exciting because it was the first edition of Turtle Island Reads and a historical moment for indigenous literature in Canada. It felt like a moment of recognition, validation, and appreciation for the indigenous experience in Canada was unfolding before our eyes. And while this was exciting for me to be a part of it, for some people it was far more poignant. The woman who was sitting next to me was the mother of a former student of the school. She cried quietly as she listened to the presenters speak of how pivotal it was for each of them to read books about indigenous people, to hear their own stories told, and how much they wished this could have been something they had had earlier in their lives.

While the centuries-old problems between the Canadian government and the First Nations communities are not even close to being well addressed, I think Canada is experiencing a watershed moment in its history with its indigenous people. I look forward to watching the story develop.

Turtle Island Reads


I saw this at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. It was available by Health Canada for First Nations people reacting to a very powerful piece that used pieces of residential schools from across Canada. Copying it here because it’s a good thing for anyone who has experienced trauma to keep in their pocket.

Coping with Emotional Reactions

Thinking about how Residential School affected you can lead to positive or negative thoughts or memories. This brochure is designed to help you recognize the reactions you may have.

Revisiting painful memories can be an important step in the healing process. It can also lead to difficult thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You should not be surprised if you experience emotional reactions hours, days or weeks later. This is perfectly normal.

When past emotions or memories are triggered, you need to be kind to yourself and others. It is helpful to have a plan of how to take care of yourself as a way to honour what you have been through.

These are some common reactions you may experience:


Wondering about your spiritual/ religious beliefs, and/or values, doubting the goodness and kindness of people, not feeling in touch with yourself.


Flashbacks, agitation, appetite changes, addictions, quick to anger, isolating self, mood swings, shock, conflict in relationships, can’t concentrate.


Trouble sleeping, nightmares, stomach ache, nausea, general body aches, headaches, crying, panic attacks.


Sadness, anger, frustration, feeling alone, mistrust of others, feelings of guilt, shame, blame, fear, hopelessness, overwhelmed.

Important things to know:

If you experience any of the symptoms listed in this brochure, please know that this is not uncommon. If these symptoms last longer than a few weeks, consider talking to someone who can help you.
It is important to reach out and talk to others for support to help you to deal with these feelings as soon as possible.
Do not remain alone if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or hurting others. Tell someone you feel safe with. These thoughts are often temporary and talking with someone you trust can really help.
Healing is possible. Though it can sometimes be difficult and painful, healing is a journey that can make life better and more enjoyable.

Emotional Support

When dealing with emotional reactions, it can be helpful to talk to someone you feel comfortable with.

Are you a former residential school student? Is a family member a former residential school student? If so, counselling, emotional support and cultural support are available to you and your family members.

Support is provided through counselling, cultural supports such as Elders or Aboriginal community workers who will listen, talk and provide support.

Some Self-Care Strategies

Here are some suggestions for self care:

Be kind to yourself
Take walks and exercise
Get out on the land
Smudge, pray, sing
Sew, drum, dance
Spend time with family and friends
Laugh, cry, talk
Meditate, sleep, get plenty of rest
Seek spiritual or religious support
Eat healthy foods
Ask for help
Seek counselling

today we’re back in northern north america for the first time in a
month, and the difference is stark.

yesterday we were in a country that fights to survive every day, today
we arrived to a country that works.

yesterday there were places to eat everywhere (almost chaotically
so), and always something I wanted to eat, but the infrastructure was
in shambles. today the infrastructure was pristine but the food
choices were mcdonalds and tim hortons.

a week ago i visited a house that is built on 8 ft stilts so the
waters that rise every night dont flood the house. its source of water
is a water tank that sits on the roof, but the bathroom still
had a bidet. today, lavish washrooms without a single cockroach but there is no bidet to be found. (I don’t understand the priorities here:
what are you trying to keep clean, the bottoms of your shoes or your

yesterday there were brazilians, bolivians, mexicans, colombians and
lots of tourists everywhere but none could be called visible
minorities. today there are indians, natives, blacks, and lots of
assorted “white” people that look very different from argentine
“white” people. these are french, polish, english,
ukrainian, scottish mixes. many of the ones yesterday had dramatic
iberian and mediterranean features.

yesterday the hair colour predominantly dark. today is a sea of blond hair.

architecture yesterday varied between classic parisian and shanties.
sculpted and polished marble, lots of tin. today it’s large
box buildings that are efficient and sturdy and brutal on the eyes.

yesterday the news was about the ongoing prison escape drama of three
drug traffickers connected to the head of the cabinet of the outgoing
government. today was a full-page obituary to a hard hitter of the
stratford theatre scene.

yesterday was women and men of all ages casually carrying infants in
one arm while holding the hand of another. today I have yet to see a
baby, much less hear one crying. there abortion is illegal and having
children is no big deal. here having a child is a big deal, and the
role of reproductive literacy and rights mean a higher proportion of
those children are wanted.

yesterday it was conversations with literally everyone: the doorman,
the lady in line, the taxi driver, the shopkeeper that sees you
walking by in front of his store, the young children of distant
relatives. everyone who talks is super excited to do so (especially
when they’re angry). today you can walk around in a bubble of peace
and silence, like a bunch of monks walking around.

yesterday it was flat expanses next to striking mountains, and lots of
palms and trees in the balmy summer sun, today it’s lakes and
rivers along long stretches of farmland blanketed in quiet snow.

in montreal we hear rap blasting from car speakers, in buenos aires
we hear cumbia.

glad to come home after having visited home.

Inuit throat singing

My new favourite thing, both traditional and techno.

Health, equality in Canada

By now it’s accepted that development of public health is more important/should precede/facilitates economic development, and that equality in health translates into equality in other forms. While this applies much more to countries with emerging markets, maybe can be applied in Canada. We are facing an enormous imminent crisis as baby boomers retire and are projected to live longer. How do we not fall into a 2-tier system?

Also, today reading about the “need” for continuous growth in economy, which is not possible indefinitely. Looking at how to develop a sustainable health system that is not tied to the growth of our GDP.

Speaking in very abstract terms at this point, mostly because I have no idea of how things are actually structured, funded, etc. Should start learning about that.


Back in September, Munir Sheikh published an article explaining the need for rigorous national statistical data for good policy. It reminded me why I love intelligent people getting worked up about important things. You can find it here.