After 20 years of negotiations, planning and construction, the water has gone up behind Manitoba Hydro’s $8.7-billion Keeyask dam about 725 km. north of Winnipeg. The troubled project on the province's largest river now floods 45 square kilometres.
“Where are you, Mennonites?”
A colleague and I are in a Winnipeg café discussing the current land struggles of many Indigenous peoples. I listen intently as she speaks of the Unist’ot’en, Muskrat Falls and the Tiny House Warriors. I nod my head in understanding and offer affirming murmurs. But then, halfway through tea, she looks at me impatiently.
Madelaine Kioke was born in the woods near Attawapiskat, in the James Bay region of northern Ontario, where her parents hunted and trapped. She lived out on the land until she was nine years old, learning to hunt and fish, and set traps and snares with her father. At age six, when her mother first gave her a sewing needle, her love for making moccasins began.
Tim Wiebe, centre, stands with fellow Walk for Common Ground participants Cassidy Brown, left, and Allegra Friesen-Epp, right. (Photo courtesy of Steve Heinrich)
The image on the Treaty 6 flag is striking.
The crest shows a European and Indigenous leader engaged in a never-ending handshake, a longstanding and well-understood symbol of mutual agreement.
The edge of the crest is lined with words that testify to the longevity of this agreement: “As long as the sun shines... And the rivers flow... The grass grows.”
“Yet we Christians have also been called to take a good hard look at ourselves. To reflect on our Christian beliefs, to scrutinize our missional practices. And to decolonize. It’s not that Christianity is inherently colonial, but for generations the church and its faith have been used —wittingly, unwittingly, and far too often—as instruments of dispossession in the settler colonial arsenal.
Gerald Neufeld and his father Henry share a passion for linking families from First Nation communities within the Berens River watershed in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario with archival photographs of their ancestors.
The sign directing people to Stony Hill, the former site of St. John’s Lutheran Church and of the Young Chippewayan Reserve No. 107, was changed earlier this year to reflect its importance to indigenous people. The name Opwashemoe Chakatinaw means Stoney Knoll in English. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Chief Sylvia Weenie of the Young Chippewayan band chats with Leonard Doell, coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program, at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
With her daughter Kimberley holding her notes, Chief Sylvia Weenie addresses the audience gathered to mark the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. ‘Stoney Knoll history needs to be told,’ she says. ‘Our children need to know.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Rita Macdonald of Rosthern Mennonite Church, left, visits with Marshall Williams and his wife Verna at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll, Sask. Williams is the hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan band. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Under darkening skies, participants line up to receive commemorative medals marking the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. The medals are to be a visible reminder of the treaty, says Harry Lafond, executive director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
“It’s really cool to see white people here today,” said Cheyenne Fineday. The first nation teenager was speaking at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6 on Aug. 23, 2016. Held at Stoney Knoll, 76 kilometres north of Saskatoon, the celebration included both indigenous and settler peoples.
The land at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in downtown Winnipeg was too important as an inter-tribal meeting and trading place to be held by any one people, says Clarence Nepinak, a learning tour leader at Native Assembly 2014. (Photo by Moses Falco)
Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, leads in singing during one of Native Assembly 2014’s worship services. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)
In the Blanket Exercise, quilts covering the floor are Turtle Island—aka North America. The blankets are folded and removed to represent the insidious ways that land and control were taken from Indigenous Peoples through colonialism. Participants are crowded into smaller and smaller areas, or sent back to their seats to represent those who died from disease or imposed malnutrition. (Photo by Moses Falco)
An early morning fire and smudging ceremony started each day of Native Assembly 2014 that met from July 28 to 31 at the edge of the Assiniboine Forest on the Canadian Mennonite University campus.