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Comment: Our Role Models

Eagle Feather News Paul Chartrand | November 12, 2013 In the memories of the old ones and in the pages of the history books lie many stories If !olly"ood is looking for good stories for a movie, the histori#al $estern Plains region is a good pla#e to look It is also a good pla#e to look for the role models that the editor has #hosen to fo#us upon this month %here has been "idespread lo#al and national attention paid to the 2&0th anniversary of the 'oyal Pro#lamation issued on ( )#tober 1(*3 It "as issued by +ing ,eorge III to #laim -ritish North .meri#a after the defeat of the /ren#h regime but it is also remembered and is important be#ause of the pro#edures that it set out for negotiating %reaties !o"ever, things are never as simple as they might appear to be at first blush, and as I stated in an address in $innipeg re#ently the 'P 1(*3 must also be re#ogni0ed as part of the legal "it#h#raft by "hi#h the -ritish stole the Indian lands over "hi#h Canada no" asserts de fa#to authority In the story of the 'P 1(*3 "e meet Pontia#, one of the many indigenous role models from history It "as the politi#al and military a#tion of Pontia# 1)b"andiyag2 and his allies that #ompelled the -ritish to seek pea#e, and from "hi#h a#tions #ame the 'P 1(*3 %he lesson is that politi#al a#tion is "hat leads to legal a#tion and "hi#h is more important in the long run %urning to the $estern Plains, the stories of ,abriel 3umont and 4ouis 'iel are "ell5 kno"n on a##ount of their roles in the troubles of 166& along the 7askat#he"an 'iver, but a #loser look at our history reveals other leaders "ho surely are #andidates as role models for today Neil 8#4eod, the 7askat#he"an Cree philosopher, author and humorist has done a great 9ob in revealing the story of 8istahi 8us:ua, #ommonly kno"n at -ig -ear, "hose resistan#e to the en#losure of the Cree into small reserves by the government deserves to buy him a pla#e in the annals of heroes of the region 'ole models "ho resist the assertion of un#ons#ionable po"er sometimes end up in 9ail, and along "ith Poundmaker, another %reaty 7i; leader, -ig -ear spent time in 7tony 8ountain penitentiary, a true politi#al prisoner in the foreboding federal prison "hi#h sits on a rise in the plains 9ust north of $innipeg In the #onte;t of the 166& events /ine 3ay also stands out as the military leader "ho beat -ritish5Canadian for#es %here is a ri#h store of role model stories in "hat is no" 7askat#he"an, in#luding in the resistan#e to the imposition of the Indian .#t and the reserve system it imposed $e #an only tou#h upon a fe" e;amples in this #ommentary and "ithout intending to e;#lude any one of the many, "e #an name Pia Pot 1Payepot2 a #ontemporary of -ig -ear "ho is one of the first and foremost defenders of the %reaties In his story one also finds, in#identally, instan#es of "hat 'on 8erasty has #alled the <overdeveloped funny bone< or "onderful sense of humour of the Plains indigenous people In the %reaty /our region there is a ri#h history of resistan#e by leaders su#h as 4ouis )=7oup and >oe Cote and others from Co"esess, Pas:uah and 8os#o"petung

$e have a ri#h store of more re#ent role models as "ell in our lo#al history, in#luding the author the 'everend ?d"ard .henake" "hose book do#uments the story of Chief %hunder#hild and the Plains Cree In 8anitoba Chief 3ave Cour#hene of 7agkeeng "as a leader in the evolution of modern /irst Nation politi#s, as "as .hab 7pen#e, an old friend from 7plit 4ake in northern 8anitoba, the President of the 8anitoba Indian -rotherhood "ho spent mu#h time in 7askat#he"an %he 'everend .hab "as a member of the National /orum on 7e#ondary ?du#ation and of the 7tanding Committee on Native 4anguages in Canada "ho "as a"arded the Centennial 8edal in 1@*( and the )rder of Canada in 1@62 . people sets its o"n destiny in part by making its o"n history %hereby it affirms its sense of identity and identifies the values and things it holds dear Its history inspires future generations $hat is the role of the s#hools and of the edu#ation system in remembering this history of role models and their #ontributionsA !o" mu#h of the stories of our lo#al heroes is kno"n and honoured in the s#hools, "hether on reserves or in the publi# s#hools systemA 8ust not the system of edu#ation and the telling of the stories of lo#al role models operate togetherA )r should "e be "aiting for !olly"ood to dis#over our true stories of inspirationA Paul Chartrand, a 8etis from 7t 4aurent, 8anitoba and author of numerous publi#ations on la" and poli#y related to indigenous peoples, is a retired la" professor "ho has held university positions in Canada, .ustralia, Ne" Bealand and the C7., and has served on a number of high5profile .boriginal poli#y bodies -et"een 200252006 he "as Professor of 4a" at the College of 4a", Cniversity of 7askat#he"an !e has advised 8etis and /irst Nations organi0ations and governments, and #urrently does #onsulting "ork and o##asionally speaks at #onferen#es and le#tures at universities overseas and prin#ipally in .ustralia and Ne" Bealand Paul has been indu#ted into the 7askatoon 7ports !all of /ame and the 8anitoba -aseball !all of /ame

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