Takwakin (Autumn or Fall) is the time of year that my family and I usually make our annual visit to Saskatchewan. However, this year we decided to stay home on the coast. Taking my boys back to where I come from is always a time that I look forward to. I want them to see, smell and hear the sounds of the places that form my earliest memories. I want them to feel the warm sun on their faces as they gaze at the endless prairie sky. I want my boys to remember where their ancestors came from. To see the place of the stories of the rougarou and the Virgin Mary. I want my boys to play in the same leaf filled ditches that my sisters, cousins and I did. To smell the freshly cut wheat, barley and canola. To taste fresh lake fish caught by my grandfather. I want my boys to know those connections. I want us to feel those experiences in our bones, to remember the changes of the season.

For a long time I lived a life where I was torn between my home in Saskatchewan and my home on the coast. I struggled with how to teach our children about where our ancestors came from when we live so far away. Over the years we have even discussed the idea of moving closer to our ancestral territories. We exchange romantic ideas on learning Cree, harvesting from the land, getting a horse or two, maybe some chickens and driving off into the sunset. Then we would wake from that dream and look around at the life that we have built for ourselves on the west coast. We love it here and will probably never move back to Saskatchewan. And that is okay.

More than half of my life has been spent on the west coast. Where we live now on Cormorant Island, traditional territories of the Kwakwaka’wakw, is where my children call home. My youngest has no memory of living anywhere else. Community members have welcomed me, this lost halfbreed from Saskatchewan, and my family into their lives. We are forming friendships here that will last lifetimes. We laugh, we cry and we laugh again. Our stories weave together into a new narrative. It is this connection that makes me feel at home. All these years later, I have finally learned that home doesn’t need to be tied to a specific space and place. Home can change, like the seasons. So, I guess that I must not be lost anymore. I’ve always been home.


The waters east of Alert Bay. (BC)


The waters of Northern Saskatchewan. (SK)


Alert Bay playground. (BC)


My eldest son takes a break while we visit my cousin on his farm. (SK)


My youngest looking at all the eulachon inside the smokehouse. (BC)


My eldest walking into the barn as my grandfather walks out of the barn. (SK)


My boys and their friends playing in our backyard. (BC)


My son and his cousin playing around the same slough I played around with my cousins. (SK)


Ziplock bag, eagle feather, tarp and a black bear. (BC)


Truck, chairs, velvet paintings and a moose antler rack. (SK)


The next generation getting to know each other. (BC)


My father locking the gates after paying our respects to our ancestors at the Green Lake cemetery. (SK)


Gukwdzi (Big House) in Alert Bay. (BC)


Visiting Wanuskewin Heritage Park that sits above Opimihaw Creek and the South Saskatchewan River. (SK)


-Amanda Laliberte



Nature’s Reminders

As the season shifts and the leaves turn golden yellow, I am reminded of nature’s innate sense of balance. For me, Autumn season evokes a time for transition and a time for letting go.


The simplicity of watching trees slowly and gracefully shed their leaves somehow never fails to fascinate me. They remind me to reflect on what remains in my own life, and what I have stubbornly held onto. It is time to let them go.



The Return of History

I recently had the privilege of attending one of this year’s Massey Lectures in Vancouver, all being presented by this year’s powerhouse lecturer Jennifer Welsh.


The Massey Lectures have taken place annually since 1961 in honour of Vincent Massey, former Governor General of Canada. Each year since, CBC has invited a noted scholar to present a five-part series of lectures that focus on a political, cultural or historical topic that focus on original research in their field. These are the biggest thinkers and most important intellectuals of our times. Previous lecturers have been Martin Luther King Jr., Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Hill and in 2003 the first Indigenous lecturer: Novelist Thomas King.


By being invited to be the 2016 lecturer, Jennifer Welsh is validated as being one of these types of big thinkers. One that shapes the landscape of what follows.


Jennifer has an internationally impressive reputation. Regina born, she recently completed her role as Special Advisor to the UN secretary-general on the Responsibility to Protect. She co-founded the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and currently she is a professor of international relations at the European Union University Institute in Florence and is a fellow of Sommerville College at Oxford.


The theme of her CBC Broadcast 2016 Massey Lectures is what Brian Bethune of MacLean’s magazine called “her sober state-of-the-world assessment” that is accompanied by the release of her new book The Return of History: Conflict, Migration and Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century.”


Jennifer is also Métis.


Take that in for a minute.


It’s time we start paying attention to Jennifer Welsh and what she has to say as an internationally renowned expert in global politics, post-conflict reconstruction and the notion of sovereignty.


As Indigenous people we are slowly increasing our numbers in municipal, provincial and Federal government in the hopes of reaching a place where our people can be considered as part of a global landscape. Meanwhile Jennifer Welsh has been studying and helping shape the understanding of the world at a global level.


I attended her sold out lecture at the York Theatre entitled “The Return of Barbarism”. I appreciated her lecture so much. She connected the role of Western Liberal Democracy to the current state of affairs in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and explained to us “Why the West Hasn’t Won”.


Her lecture left me with so many questions and ready to devour the rest of her talks on CBC when they are available in October. But I was also left with some other questions. Why isn’t this making bigger headlines? Why isn’t she being profiled across the country with Métis and Indigenous leaders filling up all the seats? The lateral absence of commentary and support is stunning to me.


The very idea of reconciliation is rooted in the western ideal of liberal democracy. Liberal Democracy as a form of government that focuses on the protection of rights and freedoms of individuals. It places constraints on what can be done in which the will of the majority cannot overrule the rights of minorities. However the practice of liberal democracy is not cut and dry. How are those rights determined and who gets to assert them? The idea of reconciliation is that this part of our history is done now. We’ve moved on and reparations can be made. But it is Jennifer Welsh position that history is not done, it’s returning.


We need to increase our understanding of how liberal democracy has not worked to end extreme cruelty and brutality but has, in many cases, worked to entrench them is essential if we are to change the nature of our relationship to the nation state as First Nations people and governments.


Jennifer Welsh is setting the stage on an international level and we as a community are missing it. We are missing our opportunity to understand our own circumstances as they relate to the world as a whole.


You can attend  Jennifer Welsh’s Massey Lectures at the following dates, or
here or  the 2016 CBC Massey Lectures will be broadcast on CBC Radio One IDEAS October 31 – November 4.


Halifax, NS – October 5, 7 p.m.
Lecture 4: The Return of the Cold War
Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library
Presale: $27 regular
Regular price: $32 regular, students/seniors $20
Box Office: 902-422-6278 x500
Purchase tickets 
In person: at the Ticket Halifax Box Office/The Coast, 2309 Maynard Street

Toronto, ON – October 7, 7 p.m.
Lecture 5: The Return of Inequality
Koerner Hall
Presale: $45/$35 regular
Regular price: $50/$40 regular, students, $20, seniors $28
Box Office: 416-408-0208
Purchase tickets 


You can also purchase her new book that accompanies the lecture: The Return of History.

~Jessica Wood.


You need to believe in yourself

Since mid August I’ve been stuck in a creative rut. I could justify my actions with many excuses and reasons but in all honesty I just didn’t have the urge to pick up my camera and take photos. Moments like this seem to come and go in my life, especially with my tendency towards episodes of melancholia. Thank goodness for this collective because it keeps me shooting. Knowing that I had a post to prepare for today, I left it until the last minute. I do this a lot. The past couple of weeks I knew the post was coming but there was a heaviness in my heart. Instead of allowing this to consume me, I decided that I wanted to make a photo series that would make me giggle and maybe even get you laughing. Because laughing feels good.

Here are a few photos I took of my sons and their friend wearing my unicorn mask. Did I mention that I love unicorns? I am a child of the 80s.













-Amanda Laliberte



BDSM is an acronym for an overlapping abbreviation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM). As a 2spirit Metis/Saulteaux/Polish hard femme, it’s incredibly healing.

My name is Dayna Danger and I’m a visual artist. Prairie queer here, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. At present, I am living in the land of quality bagels and safe haven for Anglophones like myself, Montreal, Quebec. Graduate school in photography is what brought me here, but the community of folks that surround me, are what grounds me.

I’ve been precariously walking the line of empowerment and objectification through a queer white passing/mixed cis woman lens these days. The body and its representation have always been important to me. So has covering it in baby oil and having folks rock a rack of antlers, big or small. My series, Big’Uns, was all about reclaiming pornography, media, our gaze, our bodies and projecting it in a way that was challenging. For years I have been using lens based mediums to communicate my ideas visually.

It’s been months since I’ve talked about my work. Depression and unraveling the layers of trauma can really get you down. I call it my cocoon phase, except I seem to be revealing more open vulnerable wounds then getting anywhere close to a butterfly.

Last August 2015, I arrived in Vancouver with a past lover after rolling my car in a ditch filled with Sage. We carried on without a scratch. I’m quite proud of our resilience to seeing our respective families in different regions. On our only proper night in Vancouver before heading to Terrace, we hit up a punk show. I haven’t been to one of these in AGES. Like a good 14+ years. I remember feeling really uncomfortable, sticking out like a sore thumb, like they could tell I’ve been listening to other genres, and that teenager angst was not as present in my body. The positivity was dwindling.

The night was saved because this majestic babe shows up after back and forth texting, <3Jeneen<3. Something sparks inside of me. We gravitate to the mosh pit and cross hold hands like they did in that one scene in Titanic. Spinning  Spinning  Spinning! We let er’ rip! Smashing dudes in our way, like two sides of a battle axe, cutting down the dudes (who LOVED it), just like the patriarch. Jeneen Frei Njootli spoke to me about this imagery of the double-sided battle axe and I couldn’t shake it. It’s now tattooed on my body it resonated so much.


This brings me to what I’m working on now. I’m currently in process, the ideas are there, but sometimes hard to articulate. I started beading my axe, and then my friend’s tattoos onto leather fetish masks I privately commissioned.

The beadwork is done by myself and in its first iteration, two other talented native women that I hired, Nicole Redstar and Tricia Livingston. Georgia Crane, Adrienne Huard and Kandace Price wore the masks we beaded, with 2 of them wearing masks with their very own beaded tattoos on the side. It’s ramping up again as I have four new masks, without eye holes this time, to bead.

These masks are my cocoon stage.


To give some context on what I mean about BDSM being healing for myself, is a quote from powerhouse Lindsay Nixon, VISUAL CULTURES OF INDIGENOUS FUTURISMS, SÂKIHITO-MASKIHKIY ACÂHKOSIWIKAMIKOHK

“Indigenous peoples’ sexualities are frequently equated to histories of sexual violence, commodified and institutionalized by settlers seeking to dominate, discipline, and control Indigenous bodies. Danger’s use of the leather BDSM mask references the kink community as a space to explore complicated dynamics of sexuality, gender, and power in a consensual and feminist manner. Danger engages with her own medicine, beading, in order to mark kink as a space for healing colonial trauma. There is no shame in this action. Here the models’ gender expressions and sensual lives are integral to their resurgent identities as Indigenous peoples.”

Chi Miigwetch

-Dayna Danger


the place of gathering

As a child, I remember spending most of nights with my friends and family at the old wooden arbour located in the centre of town. We would run around, playing hide and seek or sit and watch the talent show or participate in the drum dance. The red painted arbour held so many great memories for me. It was taken down many years ago and I truly felt like my community lacked a gathering place since.

I was happy to learn that there was a new one being built by the Hamlet of Fort Providence. The arbour can seat up to 600 people and is built in a circular shape with a fire pit in the middle, it will hosts many traditional gatherings, drum dances and special events. Arbours are pretty common now days in the North and are used as a positive place for community members to socialize.  The one built in Fort Providence was like none I’ve ever seen. It’s such beautiful piece of art; it represents the union of the First Nations and Metis’ people in the community.

So when I was asked to capture the official opening of the Fort Providence’s Arbour, I was stoked and jumped at the opportunity. I knew I would see many elders, old friends and get to participate in a sacred fire feeding ceremony. It was a well-organized celebration, with several speeches and warming welcomes, to prayers and well wishes. And it wouldn’t be a celebration if it didn’t end with a tasty feast.


I’m relieved that my hometown now has it’s gathering place back – it’s going to be a place for many other friends and families to make fond memories, and to celebrate the culture and traditions for years to come.

 – shawna mcleod 


Standing with Standing Rock

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, upstream from the Missouri River in North Dakota has the people of Standing Rock and many others setting up camp and uniting in protection against the Dakota access pipeline oil interests- making it the largest gathering of nations in over a century. This is an important issue to acknowledge and address, as not only has it disrupted sacred burial sites, but is also putting the drinking water for the surrounding communities of people at greater risk.

Last week, violent acts were pushed upon the opposition en masse along both sides of the the demonstration. Tribal supporters of sovereign rights were attacked through mase and attack dogs by the corporation’s hired private security guards. In an attempt to incite more Violence toward our community, the protectors remained strongly opposed to the strategy devised by the DAPL, which I believe comes from a source of weakness. Instead of drawing back from it, we are pushing forward with our voices and our protective stance in what some Americans may refer to as protest. We are proctectos with The Right to consider our freedoms from injustice, the American views are skewed because of the private intersects- a dialect promoting fear and anger in order to propel action and results

As Indigenous people, we are all decedents of extreme resistance, and shouldn’t have to keep fighting for our rights and for our lands. But here we are, again, standing up to our oppressors (that continue to blindly destroy everything and anything in opposition to its path).

And so we must stand together – nation to nation – in opposition to these corporations to protect our waters, our lands, and our rights not only for the Sioux people but for our future protectors to follow in these footsteps.

This Friday afternoon, “shortly after federal Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint statement that, in effect, temporarily halts all construction bordering Lake Oahe on the Missouri” (Indian Country Today).

Let’s remain in support.

The Water Protectors are not leaving.

For those who wish to stay informed and see how you can get involved, I strongly encourage you to visit the link below and spread the awareness –

 – caroline blechert