AUNDECK OMNI KANING—Despite decades of activism on the part of Indigenous women and their allies, the lives of Indigenous women and girls in this country remain far too tenuous and society institutionally indifferent to their plight. Across the country, National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2 Spirited-plus events were held on May 5 in an ongoing effort to turn the tide on those narratives through the sharing of experiences, education and support.
Several engaging speakers were featured at the event held at the Four Directions Complex in Aundeck Omni Kaning, each of whom provided their stories and experiences before a large and engaged audience.
The events ran from 6 pm with the opening of several education booths from Island social service organizations who provide resources aimed at supporting Indigenous women and girls and their families and allies to a candlelight vigil and walk following the speakers.
Elder Geraldine McGregor of M’Chigeeng provided an opening prayer and song, assisted by firekeeper Sierra Jocko, which “opened” the doors of the Four Directions: east, south, west and north, in order to assist the ancestors to join in the gathering. The duo later closed those doors by the sacred fire following the candlelight vigil and walk.
Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere provided the welcoming address. Chief Corbiere delivered an impassioned plea for community solidarity across the Island, as the scourge of drug dealers and human trafficking are becoming endemic. “It is effecting a lot of youth in our community, in everybody’s community,” she said. “It’s not just girls, it’s boys too.”
Chief Corbiere recalled how hitchhiking was deemed reasonably safe in her youth. “We knew everybody,” she said. But now there are so many strangers moving through Island communities, the practice has become a kind of Russian roulette.
“We need to start protecting each other,” said Chief Corbiere. “We are seeing people dying every day.”
The first speaker was soon-to-be officially installed UCCM Tribal Police Service chief of police James Killeen, who delivered an impromptu speech (hence his “plainclothes” attire, he explained) focussing on the need for Island communities to band together to defeat the drug dealers and human traffickers preying on Island youth. (He was passing through the community after a meeting in Sudbury.)
Police Chief Killeen knows well of which he speaks, having served as an officer for 23 years, 17 of those with the City of Greater Sudbury Police Service drug intelligence and human trafficking squad. He has become intimately acquainted with the tactics of drug dealers and human traffickers and how to combat them. Key to success in that war is to provide information to the police—something the police need in order to overcome barriers to enforcement. “We know which houses,” he said, “but we can’t get a search warrant without someone coming forward.”
So, if a person in the community knows of someone who is being victimized, be it a family member or acquaintance, they can make a difference simply by “picking up the phone.”
Chief Killeen pointed out UCCM Tribal Police have executed eight search warrants in the past year which resulted in charges to four people from the Toronto area. “There have been seven overdose deaths,” he shared, noting that the fentanyl coursing through the community has been identified as being supplied from Toronto. Drug addiction and human trafficking are inextricably linked, he noted, as the debts from addictions allow the dealers to prey on their victims.
Order of Canada recipient, lifelong activist for Indigenous women’s rights and founding member of the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA, of which she served as president), Jeanette Corbiere Lavell spoke next, relating how she and her compatriots helped to launch the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Ms. Corbiere Lavell delivered some of the alarming statistics that helped lay the foundation for that inquiry. “Back in the ‘80s at ONWA we did a small study, the ‘Breaking Free Report,’ that found 75 to 95 percent of Indigenous women had experienced some form of abuse,” she said. “Be that verbal, physical and/or sexual.”
The battle to have something done raged for years—decades. “Even our own leadership, those men, told us to not air our dirty laundry in public,” she said. “While national Indigenous organizations were calling for action, while the premiers of every province and territory supported our call, in fact three-quarters of the Canadian population supported the call for a national inquiry, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued to deny and deflect, claiming this crisis was not on his radar. This was not merely a women’s issue, this was not only an Indigenous issue, this was a human rights issue—a national tragedy and, more importantly, a national shame, because this doesn’t have to happen.”
Even in the face of international human rights organizations coming forward to state unequivocally that the failure to protect Indigenous women and girls in Canada was a grave human rights violation, the Harper government was “busy shining the light elsewhere,” she said, sending millions of dollars overseas claiming that saving the lives of women and children was an issue close to his heart, “unless they are Indigenous women and children apparently.”
“It wasn’t until he was replaced by a Liberal government that a national inquiry was finally called,” said Ms. Corbiere Lavell.
The battle is far from over, Indigenous women are still eight times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women; rates of spousal abuse for Indigenous women (whose spouses are not necessarily Indigenous) are more than three times higher than non-Indigenous women; those incidents of spousal abuse are more severe and life-threatening (54 percent versus 37 percent) and Indigenous women are far more likely to be the victim of a serial killer.
Due to ongoing issues of systemic racism at all levels and historical social inequalities that exist into the present day, the number of Indigenous women federally incarcerated has increased steadily. Indigenous women are 36 percent of all women behind bars despite making up only five percent of Canada’s population and on top of that, Indigenous women are far more likely to serve the full sentence.
Poverty lies solidly at the core of the issue. Forty percent of Indigenous women live in poverty, and more than half of all Indigenous children. Is it any wonder, she said, that twice as many Indigenous women turn to crime to make ends meet as non-Indigenous (which are 18 to nine percent respectively). “But that still means 82 percent are totally legit,” cautioned Ms. Corbiere Lavell. “It is all about blaming the victim, blame the Indigenous community, or more specifically, blame Indigenous men.” But statistics show that it is non-Indigenous women who are more likely to be killed in the family home, while Indigenous women are more likely to be killed by a stranger or serial killer.
“Plain and simple, our women are at-risk because they are Indigenous and female in a society that has a long history of devaluing and degrading both of those groups,” said Ms. Corbiere Lavell. “The devaluing of women, the dehumanization of Indigenous peoples has left a tragic legacy, colouring our unconscious attitudes towards Indigenous people generally and Indigenous women in specifically—which influences our responses or lack of response.”
“Missing and murdered is a wrong term,” said Ms. Corbiere Lavell. “It should be ‘stolen from our families.’”
She offered up some solutions aimed at tackling the issue. “Programs for Indigenous women led by Indigenous women,” said Ms. Corbiere Lavell, citing 29 Circle of Care programs, 4,202 community events, 126 partnerships, more than 9,643 community members served by ONWA, with 79,956 participants, 71 family reunifications and 11 human trafficking exits.
ONWA’s activities have saved the Ontario government an immense amount of money, including child welfare costs, the provision of specialized care ($12,780,00 annually at minimum) and the $116,000 yearly cost of incarceration for each individual diverted.
“We are all treaty people,” said Ms. Corbiere Lavell. “These problems will not go away until we improve the socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous women and families. We can’t do it alone, this must become a priority at all levels of government. Men must make a stand as part of the solution. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We all have a role to play as we work to change this situation. Most importantly, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye.”
Sierra Jocko of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories spoke next, delivering her talk without notes or preparation, but from the heart. She spoke of having recently lost her brother and how that loss forced her to step up to take a leadership role in the observances for her family. She spoke of how, as a little girl, her great uncle’s body was found, murdered, and the anger that boiled up in her heart.
“But anger can be a good thing,” said Ms. Jocko, noting that she harnessed that emotion as a teaching tool. She went on to relate a story from her own experience, the first time she left Ontario to attend a conference in Quebec. Although she thought the hotel they were staying in was very nice, she learned that it was actually located in a red light district. What followed were a series of harrowing experiences that she managed to navigate thanks to the advice given to her by her father.
Nina Toulouse is the daughter of Linda Mae Toulouse, who died in March of 2020. A member of Whitefish River First Nation, Nina Toulouse works with UCCMM as an Indigenous Youth Prevention Intervention Worker and casually with the Crisis Response Team. She spoke of how her mother’s death was categorized as from natural causes, despite her body being covered in bruises.
She relayed the trauma that her mother’s death caused and how her mother had struggled with alcoholism for years, but was a kind and comforting human being who always had time to listen to those who needed her ear.
Ms. Toulouse described her career of helping the vulnerable. “It is not work,” she said. “It is life.”
Ingrid Madahbee of Aundeck Omni Kaning was the final speaker, she is the sister of Sonya Mae Cywink of Whitefish River First Nation, whose body was discovered near London, Ontario on August 30, 1994. Ms. Cywink was pregnant at the time of her death. Her murder was never solved, and the family continues to hunt for answers to this day.
Following the speakers, candles and tobacco ties bound in red cloth were provided to the participants who then walked through the gathering dark to a sacred fire, where the four medicines were offered before the hand drummers closed the four doorways to conclude the services.
The main facilitators of the event were: Dakota Legge, cultural support worker MMIWG at Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre; Lisa Still, cultural support worker SDVS at Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre; and Jo-Anne Thibodeau Audette, family wellbeing program at AOK health centre.
As Hollywood events return to full force in New York and Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic, here’s a look at this week’s biggest premieres, parties and openings, including four days of star-studded CinemaCon presentations and red carpets for I Love That For You, Grace and Frankie and Spring Awakening.
Grace and Frankie season 7 special event
In honor of the hit show’s final season, Netflix hosted a special FYC event for Grace and Frankie on Sunday at NeueHouse Hollywood, with stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker, Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry.
Bosch: Legacy premiere event
The cast, creator and EPs of Amazon Freevee’s Bosch: Legacy attended a premiere event for the show at The London West Hollywood premiere on Sunday.
TCM Classic Film Festival
Turner Classic Movies returned for its annual Hollywood takeover April 21 to 24, kicked off by a 40th-anniversary celebration of E.T. with Steven Spielberg and followed up with screenings of A League of Their Own, Diner, and Heaven Can Wait. Leonard Maltin and Bruce Dern were also presented with honors during the festival.
Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known premiere
Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff and their Spring Awakening castmates premiered the HBO Max documentary, which follows the original cast reuniting for a 15th-anniversary show at NYC’s Florence Gould Hall on Monday.
City Harvest 2022 Gala
On Tuesday in NYC, City Harvest held its 2022 Gala: Red Supper Club, supporting the organization’s work to rescue 100 million pounds of nutritious food this year and deliver it, free of charge, to help feed New Yorkers in need. Hosted by Benjamin Bratt, notable attendees included John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Richard Gere, Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, Antoni Porowski and Desus Nice.
I Love That For You premiere
Vanessa Bayer unveiled her Showtime comedy on Wednesday at L.A.’s Pacific Design Center alongside co-stars Molly Shannon, Jenifer Lewis, Paul James, Punam Patel, Johnno Wilson, Ayden Mayeri and Matt Rogers.
Hulu celebrated the premiere of its original film Crush, starring Rowan Blanchard and Auli’I Cravalho at NeueHouse Hollywood on Wednesday, with producer Maya Rudolph, director Sammi Cohen and castmembers Isabella Ferreira, Teala Dunn and Addie Weyrich.
The Girl From Plainville special screening
Hulu hosted a special screening and conversation of The Girl from Plainville at the Television Academy’s Wolf Theatre at the Saban Media Center on Thursday, with stars Elle Fanning, Chloë Sevigny, Colton Ryan and co-showrunner Liz Hannah.
Hollywood descended on Las Vegas this week for the annual National Association of Theatre Owners convention with star-studded presentations by Sony (teasing Bullet Train, Spider-Man: Across The Universe, Ghostbusters, Venom, The Woman King and Bad Bunny’s Marvel debut), Neon (Crimes of the Future, Fire of Love and Moonage Daydream), Warner Bros (Black Adam, Don’t Worry Darling, Wonka, Elvis and The Batman sequel), Universal (Nope, Halloween Ends, Bros, Ticket to Paradise, She Said and Jurassic World: Dominion), Disney (Avatar: The Way of Water, Lightyear, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Amsterdam), Paramount (Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible 7) and Lionsgate (John Wick 4, Expendables 4, About My Father, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Borderlands, and Hunger Games Ballad of Songbirds and Snake).
Published April 5, 2022 at 12:07 pm
Burlington groups or residents can apply for up to $500 in grants to hold a community event.
The City of Burlington’s Love My Neighbourhood grant program will recognize events that promotes connections, strengthens relationships and builds support systems for neighbourhoods.
Community members can plan a one-time or weekly event. The events must be free and inclusive to the entire local community.
“Now, more than ever, we need to build our sense of community and connections with our neighbours,” said Chris Glenn, the city’s director of Recreation, Community and Culture.
“This program is designed to help remove some barriers and build stronger connections between neighbours and communities by putting people together and having fun.”
The Love My Neighbourhood program will also work with the applicants for road closure permits, park permits, indoor facility rentals and insurance.
To apply for a grant and to learn about what is eligible for funding, visit the city website.
To say the last two years have been difficult would be an understatement.
A pandemic and climate change events are enough to tackle, but with the invasion in Ukraine the threat of nuclear warfare has now been thrown into the mix.
I watched Red Dawn enough times in my formative years to be incredibly triggered by the thought of Russia using nuclear warheads, but it took my daughter’s meltdown after she saw an Instagram post falsely warning about impending nuclear attacks on Canada for me to realize my kids’ nerves were just as frayed as my own.
After two years of uncertainty, anxiety and tragedy — from pandemic, fire, flood and now war — have we all collectively reached the end of our rope?
I want to recognize right off the bat that any anxiety or stress that my family and most families here in the Lower Mainland are feeling is just a shadow of what people in Ukraine are facing.
But there is no denying the cumulative effect of so much tragedy in a relatively small amount of time. Humans have a long and brutal history of war, disease and disaster and that trauma can deeply affect all families.
Jonathan Comers, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Florida International University, has extensively researched the effects of disasters and terrorism on children and families and the various ways that trauma can linger for years.
Comers says the past two years have been incredibly difficult for everyone and that needs to be recognized.
“We can’t ignore what we’ve all been going through and how complicated, challenging and devastating the last few years have been,” he said.
As for the invasion of Ukraine, “the stakes are incredibly high here,” he said.
“The potential of where this could lead is very unnerving for adults, let alone for kids who are trying to make sense of their world,” he added.
While it’s always a caregiver’s first instinct to protect their kids from the awfulness around them, they’re going to find out about it one way or another — and those difficult topics are always easier to understand and cope with if they are explained by someone who can provide not just information and context, but also unconditional love and support.
“In all of our research we find that kids who find out about major distressing events in the world from parents fare better than if they hear about it from the media or from their peers,” Comers said.
Parents need boundaries, too
But parents also need to remember how much they have had to process themselves these past two years. Recognizing we have our own fears is completely normal and important.
Jana Buhlmann grew up surrounded by the threat of the Cold War and finds that recent events have perhaps affected her more than her 16-year-old daughter Tove.
While she wants to have open discussions, Buhlmann says she also needs some boundaries, “in terms of my own emotions, being able to say, ‘Hey, you know what? It’s too much for me to talk about this right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t continue to explore and learn … but I need to take a break.'”
For older kids like Tove, if they can process what they see and hear objectively, urging them to independently seek out information can actually help them. Tove, who has always been keenly interested in world events, finds that the more she knows, the less fear she feels.
“I’ve always watched the news, that’s something I’ve always done since I was six,” Tove says. “I feel concerned, but I don’t feel fear for myself. … The more I know about [the situation in Ukraine], the more I can understand it.”
She says she has also been learning more about Ukrainian culture and language as a way to educate herself and find a connection to what’s happening in eastern Europe.
‘Focus on the helpers’
While there have been a lot of dark days, it’s important to find the brighter spots. Comers recommends trying to shift the attention away from a scary event and onto the people who step up during these times.
“There are … so many people helping and there are ways to share gratitude,” Comer said.
“Maybe kids could write letters of thanks to the military or use it as an opportunity to learn more about a region of the world that is having conflict. Use this as an opportunity to focus on the helpers and how kids can be part of making the world a better place.”
Through the pandemic, the wildfires and flooding and now war in Ukraine, we’ve seen the worst of what the world can bring — along with the best in some people.
We have no idea how this latest global crisis will play out, or what’s in store for us next. If nothing else, we’ve become experts in expecting the unexpected. But let’s make sure our kids also expect to be supported and loved and reassured no matter what is unfolding around them.
Swap out those roses for one or more of these fun things to do on Valentine’s weekend. You can enjoy V-Day with a sweetheart, a friend or all by your swell self. Some events are outdoors, so check for any changes due to weather before you go.
‘LOVE AT LEGACY WEST’ POP-UP INSTALLATION
Smile pretty for a photo at this flower-filled installation at Legacy West. The Valentine’s-themed backdrop is open for free selfies all month, or book a professional mini shoot on Feb. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. Additional Valentine’s pop-ups at Legacy West include Build Your Own Bouquet sessions at the Sand and Soil Flower Truck (Feb. 12-13, noon to 4 p.m.), a tasting of Latin American-tinged bonbons and confections from Maravilla Cacao (Feb. 12, noon to 4 p.m.) and a Kids Club DIY Valentine’s Day Cards craft (Feb. 12, noon to 3 p.m.). Check the website for more Valentine’s events and pricing.
The installation continues through Feb. 28, daily during shopping center hours at Legacy West, 5908 Headquarters Drive, Plano. Free for selfies. legacywest.com/events.
‘EL CORAZÓN’ EXHIBITION AT THE BATH HOUSE
This marks the 27th year for “El Corazón,” an exhibition curated by Jose Vargas and featuring a variety of works by North Texas artists. All the pieces are inspired by the human heart. An opening reception with music and more is planned for Feb. 12.
Through March 12, Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., with an opening reception Feb. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive, Dallas. Free. bathhouse.dallasculture.org.
VALENTINE’S AT REUNION TOWER
Music and magic are happening at Reunion Tower’s observation deck. Saxophone player Alex Styer will set the romantic mood nightly Feb. 11-14. Magician Grant Price will also be on deck Feb.14. If you’re in the mood to pop the question from 470 feet above street level, book a Love Is in the Air package on Feb. 13-14. If you prefer to keep your feet planted on the ground, you can still look up after dark to see the twinkling lights on the Reunion Tower ball.
Feb. 11-14 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. on Feb. 13-14) at Reunion Tower, 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas. $9-$35 for ages 4 and older, free for ages 3 and younger; call 214-712-7040 for Love Is in the Air information. reuniontower.com.
CHAMPAGNE, CHOCOLATES AND COMEDY
For a lighter look at love, laugh along with Paul Varghese and Linda Stogner and a lineup of more Backdoor favorite comics. Your ticket to any of the three Valentine’s shows includes a glass of Champagne, a box of chocolates and a ticket to a future show at the Richardson comedy club. Call 214-328-4444 for reservations.
Feb. 12 at 7:15 and 9:45 p.m., Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Backdoor Comedy, 940 E. Belt Line Road, Richardson. $30. backdoorcomedy.com.
LOVE ON THE RUN RACE/WALK AND AFTER-PARTY
Get a healthy start to the weekend with a 5K run, 10K run or family-fun walk that winds through Las Colinas and returns to the Texas Lottery Plaza for a beer and pancake after-party. The event benefits the Irving Schools Foundation.
Feb. 12 at 8:30 a.m. at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. $15-$69.99 for participants, spectators and after-party. irvingmarathon.com/love-on-the-run-5k.
CHOCOLATE AND WINE WALK
Stroll through downtown McKinney and enjoy a day of wine and chocolate tastings and shopping with participating merchants. Your timed general admission ticket includes a souvenir wine glass, 10 wine samples and four chocolate samples. Plus there will be a bonus taste waiting for you at Lone Star Cellars (103 E. Virginia St., McKinney).
Feb. 12 from noon to 6 p.m. in downtown McKinney. $30-$45. eventbrite.com.
JUST THE GIRLS GALENTINE’S DAY AT GRANDSCAPE
Grab a group of gals for an afternoon of wine tasting, waffle bars, massages and DIY creations at the shops and restaurants of Grandscape. There’ll be shopping, pop-ups, live music and swag bags.
Feb. 12 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Grandscape, 5752 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony. $50 (alcohol-free)-$65. eventbrite.com.
RICKI DEREK VALENTINE’S SHOWS
Crooner Ricki Derek will turn up the romance during two evenings of classics by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and more. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the Feb. 12 show at Legacy Hall, where a spin on the dance floor is highly encouraged. Standing room and reserved table reservations were still available at press time. On Valentine’s Day, Derek is back for an 8 p.m. show at the Granada Theater.
Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. at Legacy Hall, 7800 Windrose Ave., Plano. Tickets start at $10. eventbrite.com.
Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., Dallas. $25-$40. prekindle.com.
VALENTINE’S LOVE JAM
Grammy-winning vocalist Stephanie Mills and R&B group the Whispers take the stage for a Valentine’s concert of their biggest hits.
Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave., Dallas. $55-$75. ticketmaster.com.