indigenous rights

Who do you support when a community is divided?

‘As people who believe in nonviolence, we cannot stand silent as the RCMP uses force and threat of force against people,’ says Rachelle Friesen, CPT's Canada coordinator. (Photo courtesy of CPT)

“The province of British Columbia alongside Coastal GasLink are continuing their plans to build a pipeline through the unceded territories of the Wet’suwet’en.

A life-long journey for freedom

Daryl Redsky of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stands on a temporary bridge over the man-made channel that used to isolate his community but has now been replaced by Freedom Road. (2014 file photo by Will Braun)

Freedom Road is now officially open. (Churches for Freedom Road Facebook photo)

Workers construct the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct between 1915 and 1919. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

A worker stands on an incomplete section of the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt’s dredge used to construct the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt surveying for the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

For the first time in more than a century, the isolated island of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is now connected to the rest of mainland Canada.

The Indigenous community, located on the Manitoba-Ontario border, just celebrated the official opening of Freedom Road, a 24-kilometre, all-season road that links to the mainland via the Trans-Canada Highway.

My day on the Walk for Common Ground

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.”

Watch: Spotlight on Cris Derksen

Cellist and composer Cris Derksen grew up in northern Alberta. (Photo courtesy of CrisDerksen.Virb.com)

The bio on Cris Derksen’s website says it well: The “Juno-nominated and classically trained cellist and composer braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.”

Mennonites advocate for Bill C-262

Joel Kroeker stencils messages on bread he makes to expand the public discourse on different issues. (Photo courtesy of Joel Kroeker)

Allegra Friesen Epp, right, speaks at the CMU rally on March 26 that she helped to organize. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Steve Heinrichs, left, Romeo Saganash, Leah Gazan, Jennifer Preston and Paul Joffe speak at a press conference on the importance of passing Bill C-262. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Approximately 700 people rally at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg on March 26 for the Canadian government to pass Bill C-262. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Joel Kroeker owns Baeker Kraeker bread share in Saskatoon. He stencils messages on bread he makes to expand the public discourse on different issues. (Photo courtesy of Joel Kroeker)

From changing their profile pictures and holding rallies, to baking bread embossed with messages of support, young Mennonites are standing up to call for a private member’s bill to be passed.

MC Canada staffer sentenced to seven days in jail

Steve Heinrichs and supporters gather for prayer outside the courthouse in Vancouver during his two-day trial on Aug. 7 and 8, 2018. (Photo by Brad Leitch)

Steve Heinrichs works on a statement to the court explaining the motivations for his act of civil disobedience, and how, in his mind, it was not in contempt of court or ‘the rule of law,’ but in defence of fundamental Indigenous human rights. (Photo courtesy of Steve Heinrichs)

Steve Heinrichs was found guilty of criminal and civil contempt of court in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver on Aug. 8, 2018, and was sentenced to seven days in provincial jail. He was immediately taken into custody and transferred to the North Fraser Institute in Coquitlam to serve his sentence. (Aug.

UNDRIP: Good news for everyone

Around 70 people gather to listen to a panel of speakers at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Geraldine ‘Gramma’ Shingoose speaks to those gathered at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. Marcus Rempel (left) was part of a panel. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Canada has violated the rights of its Indigenous peoples ever since the country was born, from forcing thousands of children into residential schools to disrespecting treaties and stealing land. In 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and Canada announced its support for the declaration in 2010.

Mennonites join in Kinder Morgan pipeline protest

Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations coordinator, is pictured while being arrested on criminal and civil charges for contempt of the order and injunction by the B.C. Supreme Court during a protest of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline by religious leaders in Burnaby, B.C., on April 20, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Osborne)

Three Mennonites were among the faith leaders who blockaded the entrance to Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C. for several hours on April 20, protesting the planned expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline system.

Indigenous and settler history along the Grand River

Phil Monture, Six Nations land claims researcher, speaks at 50 Kent Avenue in Kitchener, Ont., on Oct. 26, about the Haldimand Tract that was promised to Six Nations in the late 1700s. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The community room at 50 Kent Ave. in Kitchener had standing room only on Oct. 26, with more than 180 adults of all ages there to listen to Phil Monture.

Walking for equality

Abby Heinrichs speaks at a rally in Ottawa, where the pilgrimage ended. (Photo by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen)

Abby Heinrichs was one of the youngest participants on the pilgrimage. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Abby Heinrichs, left, is pictured with her father, Steve Heinrichs, right, and Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam, centre. (Photo by Chris Harrison)

This past spring, while her Grade 6 peers were in class writing spelling tests and working on their multiplication tables, Abby Heinrichs was doing something completely different: walking 600 kilometres in support of indigenous rights.

Churches support Freedom Road

First Mennonite Church doesn’t have a church sign with moveable letters, so they got creative in voicing their support for Freedom Road. (Photo by David Driedger)

Erwin Redsky, chief of Shoal Lake 40, left, tells the story of his community to Steve Bell and Joy Smith. (Photo by Amy Knight)

A campaign of church signs supported by Juno-award-winning musician Steve Bell is calling on the federal government to address the longstanding injustice of Winnipeg’s water system.

In August 2015 Bell joined the chorus of voices asking the federal government to do its part in building a road that would connect the isolated community of Shoal Lake 40 with the Trans-Canada Highway.

Water of life

Daryl Redsky of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stands on a temporary bridge over the man-made channel that isolates his community. (Photo by Will Braun)

Moses Falco and Steve Heinrichs of Mennonite Church Canada support access to the Shoal Lake community. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

When Mennonites in Winnipeg baptize a believer, they do so with water from Shoal Lake. The baptismal water comes from a project for which the members of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation were involuntarily moved. It comes from a place where local residents have lived under a boil-water advisory for 17 years.

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