INUIT IN OTTAWA: Foodland Security, A Taste of The (Edible) Arctic & How To Do Away With Cultural Prejudice While Having Fun!

Antique image of Inuit family, mother, little child and father with traditional clothing Iñupiat family from Noatak, Alaska by Edward Curtis, 1929. Creative Commons. 

Systems Thinking as the Solution. 

The recent #Sealfies hashtag campaign that has trended in response to Ellen Degeneres’ call to arms against the seal hunt demonstrates how out of touch the dominant culture is when it comes to making an informed evaluation regarding people’s (often necessary) lifestyle choices. When communities live off the land they must apply a sophisticated ‘systems thinking‘ approach in the way they engage with the spaces they inhabit because the systems – seasonal, migratory, biological and social – interact and are relational to each other. Disregarding them could result in a community perishing.

The Western approach tends to ignore the systems. It’s why we have developed a taste for out-of-season strawberries on demand and been lulled into thinking ‘Vegan Leather’ is an environmentally sound option. Advertising is the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that makes us feel good about our consumer choices.

While Ellen, one on hand, galvanizes her audience against animal cruelty, on the other hand, she is one of the faces of Cover Girl Cosmetics, owned by Procter and Gamble. Enough said.

As the saying goes ‘don’t fix what ain’t broken’.

On March 18 in Ottawa local members of the Inuit community staged a demonstration with a stylish twist – a fashion show. The cat walk was the steps of Parliament Hill and the show raised awareness about all the ways seals are utilized in Inuit culture – from food, to fuel, to clothing. Even the bones get used as tools, children’s games and art. When it comes to the life-cycle assessment of the products that are derived from the seal the Inuit perfected the cradle-to-grave approach thousands of years ago.



Above images by Barry Pottle as well as image below left.  

The American (& unfortunately Canadian way) is to service one system – the economy – at the expense of all others. We see this represented in the food that has become symbolic of North America’s culture – burgers, bagels and pizza. This is a culture represented by food that is fast, cheap and easy and often processed using factory farmed meat and GMO wheat. It’s all about the dough. And we can’t seem to get enough.

“Avoid Cultural Prejudice”.

Signs held up at the protest promoted seals as a food source that is local, sustainable, and not genetically modified. Westernized foods need to be flown into the region from the south resulting in inflated prices that make healthy eating inaccessible. People are quite literally starving while fossil fuels pollute in the process of distribution.

Food that is fresh, healthy and whole is deeply satisfying because along with the nutritional value it offers emotional sustenance. When Inuk artist Barry Pottle set out to document Inuit food production for his project Foodland Security he also documented people’s responses to ‘country food’ from the North and the way it makes them feel. For Urban Inuit living in the south it connects them back to memories of family, friends and home.

“Country food means maintaining the good health that I was brought up with from birth. It means that I get to eat the freshest and purest forms of vitamins, minerals, and nutrition. If I don’t eat it, I get weak and sick.”

“The satisfaction of eating country foods cannot be described. There is a spiritual and cultural charge that comes from eating country food – especially caribou.”

“Appreciation is always expressed to the hunter who harvested the catch, and to God when receiving country food, while eating, and after.”

Needless slaughtering by those living outside of the community for the sale of skins on the global market is a tragedy that should be addressed, as it perpetuates the devastation of the very ecosystems that nurture an environment where the seal can thrive. It also supports a larger system that strips Indigenous peoples of their right to self-determination. Living off the land is very different than taking without being thoughtful of the gifts nature has provided.

Approaches like Ellen’s tend to take the patronizing know-it-all stance without much actual investment in the community she is negatively impacting with her words. Another approach would be to get a sense of the culture! Starting today, Thursday, April 3 until April 7 the Edible Arctic Festival is on at the Museum of Nature and on Monday Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is hosting the gala Taste of the Arctic at the National Arts Centre.

Click here for the full Edible Arctic Schedule and here for details on Edible Arctic After Hours Party this coming Saturday night.

Barry Pottle’s Foodland Security photographs will be displayed at the Museum of Nature for the duration of Edible Arctic Festival.

For more information in Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s A Taste of the Arctic click here.

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Sanitizing the Kill.

Sign Change.org’s petition against Procter & Gamble’s animal testing here. Animal cruelty in the beauty and hygiene industries is executed behind the closed doors of the laboratory. This technique sanitizes the kill. We think it’s not happening because we can’t see it but everyday billions of dollars are poured into industries that are intentionally and needlessly causing long term suffering to animals. IF we are speaking of systems, this one is archaic and everyday we support it with our dollars.

Cited from Change.org:

You’re funding and supporting animal testing every time you purchase one of these brands owned by P&G.

Cosmetics: Anna Sui, CoverGirl, Dolce Gabbana, Max Factor, Olay
Deodorants: Old Spice, Secret, Sure
Hair Care: A Touch of Sun, Aussie, Clairol, Fekkai, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Hydrience, Infusium 23, Lasting Color, Loving Care, Men’s Choice, Natural Instincts, Nice ‘n Easy, Pantene, Pert, Physique, Rejoice, Sebastian Professional, Ultress, Vidal Sassoon, Wella
Fragrances & cosmetics: Anna Sui, Baldessarini, Boss/Hugo Boss, Bruno Banani, Christina Aguilera, Dolce Gabbana, Dunhill, Escada, Giorgio of Beverly Hills, Ghost, Gucci, Helmut Lang, Herve Leger, Lacoste, Naomi Campbell, Old Spice, Puma, Valentino
Laundry and Cleaning: Ace, Ariel, Bold, Bounce, Cascade, Cheer, Comet, Dawn, Downy, Dreft, Dryel, Era, Febreze, Gain, Ivory, Ivory Snow, Joy, Mr. Clean, Swiffer, Tide
Oral Care: Crest, Fixodent, Gleem, Oral B, Scope, Whitestrips
Sanitary Products: Always, Prilosec OTC, Tampax
Shaving Products: Bran, Fusion, Gillette, MACH3, Prestobarba/Blue, Venus
Skin Care: Clairol, Clearstick, CoverGirl, DDF, Fekkai, Gillette, Max Factor, Noxzema, Ohm, Olay, SK-II
Soap: Camay, Ivory, Safeguard, Zest
Companion Animal Products: California Natural, Evo, Eukanuba, Healthwise, Iams (www.iamskills.com & www.iamscruelty.com), Innova, Karma, Mother Nature, Natura Pet Products
Food and Beverage: Folgers, Home Cafe, Millstone Coffee, Pringles, Torengoes
Paper Products: Bounty, Charmin, Puffs
Diapers and Baby Care: Luvs, Pampers
Batteries & Electrical Goods: Braun, Duracell, Gilette
Drugs & Health aids: Actonel, Align, DayQuil, Fibersure, Metamucil, NyQuil, Pepto-Bismol, PUR water filtration system, Sinex, Thermacare, Vicks

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Click here to read about how the economics of fashion has created a system of production that is polluting waters around the world but doing irreparable damage to China.

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THE SQUARE: The Doc About Egypt’s Tahrir Square & The People Who Demanded the Downfall of a Regime

The Square is now playing at the Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa.

“We’re not looking for a leader…we’re looking for a conscience” says Ahmed Hassan, one of the revolutionaries featured in documentary on the events circling in and around Tahrir Square  leading up to the removal of Mubarak and the implementation of Morsi.

Director Jehane Noujaim leads us through the emotionally exhaustive journey that Egyptians have endured for the last two years. You are left with no answers just one large question that scratches at the mind – how does humankind not learn? Like a broken record revolution seems to be a track that keeps skipping back to repeat past prejudices and the same social injustices.

“The problem as revolutionaries, most of the time, we only object and say ‘no,’ and we never suggest alternatives.”

This is not a feel good film rather a reminder that we still have so much to learn.

The Square plays tomorrow evening, Saturday, March 8 at The Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa.

For more information on The Square Documentary visit the website www.thesquarefilm.com and follow on Facebook and twitter @TheSquareFilm and @JehaneNoujaim.

THIS WEEK IN OTTAWA: Omushkegowuk Walkers, Joseph Boyden, Soup Ottawa, The Jerry Cans + Saali, New Sun Conference & Meshkwadoon

MONDAY: Omushkegowuk Walkers Arrive!

We can feel the seasons changing! We welcome the spring and the Omushkegowuk Walkers from Attawapiskat First Nation to Parliament Hill today. If you missed being part of the welcoming party you can support them by attending the Potluck Farewell Feast at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church (across from the Supreme Court) at 5 pm on Wednesday evening. If you can provide food for this event please visit the Reclaiming our steps, past, present and future – Ottawa  Facebook Event Page for contact details.

You can also support the Omushkegowuk Walkers by making a donation.



Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence & the welcoming group in Ottawa.

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TUESDAY: Joseph Boyden, Wab Kinew & Waubgeshig Rice for CBC’s Canada Reads

Tuesday night authour Joseph Boyden will be doing a reading at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health as part of the CBC’s Canada Reads 2014. This event is SOLD OUT but the good news it will be Livestreamed. Click here for broadcasting details and here for the livestream.

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WEDNESDAY: Soup Ottawa

Wednesday is Soup Ottawa.

Soup Ottawa is a recurring micro-grant participatory dinner event. For a $10 entrance fee you get soup and a vote for the pitch that moves your the most! Everyone’s $10 goes into the pot for the lucky winner to put towards their initiative. This time round the presenters are: Indigenous Walking Tours, Youth Can Slam, BeadWorks, Death Cafe, TACTICS Theatre Co-op and Beyond Dawn.

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THURSDAY: YAO

This Thursday and every Thursday the National Gallery of Canada is FREE after 5 pm  and so is the Museum of Civilization just over the bridge in Gatineau. Nice way to get out of the cold and get inspired!

Also this Thursday is YAO at the National Arts Centre

“A multitalented artist, poet, passionate advocate for the quest for knowledge through literature and music, YAO is comparable to a modern-day troubadour.

Although his music is characterized by a sweet mix of Slam poetry, Jazz and Blues, his eclectic approach and escapades in various musical genre gives it a rich, unique and very pleasant sound.Read more…

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FRIDAY: THE JERRY CANS + SAALI

Friday is The Jerry Cans & Saali at Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York Street.

“The Jerry Cans will take you on a stroll through Iqaluit, Nunavut with their unique mix of Inuktitut country swing, throat singing, reggae, and blues, sharing a glimpse of life in Nunavut while challenging misrepresentation of the great white north. Nunavuttitut! Nunavut Style!”

More details on the Facebook Event Page.

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SATURDAY: New Sun Conference with A Tribe Called Red & More…

Saturday is the New Sun Conference at Carlton U (9 am – 4:30 pm Room 5050, 5th Floor, Minto Centre). A Tribe Called Red will be giving a performance. Other speakers include artist Meryl McMaster, Sandra Laronde (Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre & Artistic Director of Red Sky Dance / Theatre Company), children’s authour Michael Kusugak, and Jean LaRose (CEO of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network).

And this event also includes an amazing lunch by Wawatay Catering. My mouth is already watering!

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SATURDAY & SUNDAY: Meshkwadoon

Meshkwadoon: Winter Celebration at Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health

“The Winter Village Storytelling Festival & Meshkwadoon is a celebration of the First Peoples’ winter culture through artistic and oral traditions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis People…Alongside these wonderful presentations will be some of Ottawa’s finest vendors showcasing both Aboriginal and non- aboriginal arts and crafts.” Read more…

Part of Sunday’s lineup is a performance by madeskimo.

Saturday, March 1st, 10am – 5pm & Sunday, March 2nd, 11am – 5pm

Individual Day Pass $5
Family Day Pass $12
Individual Weekend Pass $8
Family Weekend Pass $20
Children under 3 Free

More details on the Meshkwadoon Facebook Event Page.

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All images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

MASHUP STYLE: Jack Your Body Dancers Rocking Second Hand

Dancer posing against a wall

“OUR TOXIC ADDICTION IS SLOWING DESTROYING OUR BEAUTIFUL WATERWAYS” GreenPeace

Shop till you drop…dead?

In the aftermath of Boxing Day blowouts it’s a great New Year’s Resolution to take time to consider how fashion impacts the planet.

GreenPeace recently launched the Global Detox Campaign in an effort to inform people on how the garment industry, especially in places like China, is turning “public waterways into private sewers.”

According to GreenPeace 320 million people in China are without access to clean drinking water, 40% of surface water is considered polluted and 20% of the urban drinking water is contaminated.

Quote regarding how toxic chemicals are in 2 thirds of garments

“BEAUTIFUL FASHION DOESN’T HAVE TO COST THE EARTH” Greenpeace

The campaign sparked an around-the-world protest against companies like Zara, Victoria Secret, the Gap and Adidas some of which have now agreed to “detox”.

These toxins don’t just end up the water. New clothing is often sprayed with formaldehyde to protect against mildew and to keep fabrics wrinkle free. We then absorb the toxins through our largest permeable organ – our skin – via the clothes we wear.

With our purchasing dollars, especially during those Boxing Week Sales, we vote ‘YES’ for the continuation of harmful systems unless we opt to change our habits and the way we engage with mall culture and consumerism.

RECOMMENDED READING: The River That DID Run Red 

Necessity (mixed with creativity) is the mother of all invention (and prevention).

One way to change is to rock Second Hand Style.

Group of dancers in bright colours in front of grafitti wallThe gorgeous dancers from JACK YOUR BODY – Emily Law, Kristine Flores, Ashley Perez and Jasmyn Fyffe –  demonstrated, on the MIXED BAG MAG #MashUPStyle shoot, how to re-mix used clothing. I met JYB dancer Jasmyn Fyffe, when she modeled at a prior shoot and I was inspired by her ability to take cast offs and make them fresh. Many of us do this out of necessity as a way to save money but as we become more engaged around the issues of environmental protection re-using, up-cycling and swapping become great ways to assert our fashion sense while remaining true to the cause.

Profile of woman with long hair and patchwork jacket
Female dancer in a crouched posed against a wall
Woman holding a necklace in between her teeth and grimacing
Female dancer kicking up one leg in a pose
Profile of a young woman
Female dancer jumping up in a pose
Young woman leaning against a wall looking back at the camera
Female Dancer doing a handstand on one hand
4 young women posing against a wall

 

On the subject of Second Hand Style, Street Culture and Re-Mixing Emily Law (co-choreographer of JACK YOUR BODY along with Ashley Perez) explains that for the show:

“we attempted to costume each section with vintage clothing as much as possible. The majority of the cast owned a lot of second hand clothing, so it was not that challenging to find great retro pieces. Creating this show gave me a chance to wear some of the retro clothing I have been collecting! 

Analogous to using authentic clothing pieces from each era, we used classic ‘vintage songs’ specific to each time period. By creating to these songs we are giving them a second life just like the clothing.”

In Street Culture fashion and music riff off each other in a constant creative conversation. Just like DJs who re-mix retro beats to make them fresh the clothing is also about taking the best of the past and making it stylistically relevant to the present. Perfect timing for a world in need of more sustainability (but sexy) choices!

4 young women posing against a wall
All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

“Jack Your Body is a high-energy dance performance that pays homage to American street dance culture. The cast poses, struts, waacks and jacks their way through soul train, paradise garage and other iconic street dance scenarios. Issues of race, gender and social status come into focus during this dynamic dance piece that explores the evolution of underground social dances from the 70s-90s.”

JACK YOUR BODY runs until this coming Sunday, January 19

Tue Jan 14 9:15pm
Thu Jan 16 9:30pm
Fri Jan 17 5:00pm
Sat Jan 18 2:30pm
Sun Jan 19 7:30pm

WHERE: Factory Mainspace on 125 Bathurst St, Toronto
HOW MUCH: $15, purchase tickets here

Follow on Facebook and twitter @Mixmixdance and join Facebook Event Page

Get involved with GreenPeace’s Global Detox Campaign by signing their the Detox Manifesto and tweeting your support. 

Women in zombie makeup protesting chemicals used in fashion

 

DIVINE TIMING: Celebrating Indigenous Solidarity with Niigaan on December 10

Woman standing with protestors and the parliament building in the background

When a plan comes together in spite of it all.

When the curators working with the National Gallery of Canada came together to plan Sakahàn, the largest exhibition of Indigenous work ever held, they couldn’t have known that right before the Spring ’13 opening there would be a political movement that would globally link people in solidarity with Indigenous movements around the world.

When Idle No More emerged as a force for change no one could have predicted how quickly social media would spread the news like wildfire – #IdleNoMore#INM, #CdnPoli, #SovSummer, #Oct7Proclaim, #ElsipogtogSolidarity.

And as the Harper Government amped up its campaign of greenbrain-washing this country, a reactionary plan came together quickly because the seeds of change were already being watered and nourished and were ready to bloom.

And blossom they did! The internet was the fertile ground beneath the virtual commons where everyone who wanted to participate could look, listen and learn.

I discovered I could be in two places at once, morally locating myself with like minds via livestreams, tweets and Facebook groups (like Walking With Our Sisters & The Journey of the Nishiyuu) even if I wasn’t able to show support in person.

I felt I had a kind of empowerment that I never had before. I could have a say in what was happening in Canada now and play an active part in envisioning what it can become in the future.

I also felt the grounding that hope gives when you know that there are so many people out there who are willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of protecting the land.

Data collection allows for metrics around keywords and hashtags but what cannot be fully quantified are the relationships that have been made because of people coming together around a cause. A system of roots has now spread across cyberspace.

And those roots don’t just exist online. A year after Idle No More started I find that it’s hard to imagine my life without the people I have met due to the divine timing of a political movement, an art exhibit, and computer technologies that allow us to find each other.

Throughout my journey this year I have encountered many who recognize that  something important is happening –  things have changed, the time is ripe.

The Anishinaabe prophecy of the 7th Fire speaks of an era when people of all races and faiths will unite in an effort to direct the evolution of humanity towards an existence that chooses spirituality over materialism.

I believe that no matter our background we can understand this to be true as well as appreciate the importance of the timing – we have to pick a path.

Logo that says Niigaan with flower decoration

An organization that works toward facilitation around moving forward with strengthened relations between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians is Niigaan In Conversation. On March of this year, Niigaan held its first event to a packed out house! Sensing a need for constructive dialogue around Treaties as well as a welcoming space for Non-Indigenous people to learn about Canada’s troubled history Niigaan offered a much needed service in the months following the start of Idle No More.

The legacy of their hugely successful inaugural event lives on because of its accessibility online but the great news is if you want to have a chance to experience the energy of Niigaan in person this coming Tuesday December 10 in Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin Territory, Niigaan is offering us all a chance to celebrate a year of change, begin more new relationships and continue building a plan around solidarity.

NIIGAAN: IN CONVERSATION WITH RED MAN LAUGHING
THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
Ottawa
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
5 – 9 pm
$75 per ticket or $30 for students / underemployed
PURCHASE TICKET ON EVENTBRITE

Bring your cha-ching for the Silent Art Auction with works from Christi Belcourt, Sonny Assu, Jaime Koebel as well as Kelly-Ann Kruger, Mo McGreavy and Shady Hafez

Man singing while playing traditional Aboriginal drums
People holding hands and dancing in round dance in front of Parliament Buildings

Resources to More Indigenized Places in Cyberspace:

CBC’s 8th Fire Series & 8th Fire Dispatches

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Website & Book “Lighting the 8th Fire”

Niigaan Website & Facebook Page

The National Gallery’s Sakàhan Website

Walking With Our Sisters Website & Facebook Group

Muskrat Magazine

Man singing with traditional Aboriginal drums Above images taken at the Solidarity for Elsipogtog Event on Parliament Hill. All images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

“THE PEOPLE ARE DETERMINED TO PROTECT THE PINES”: Remembering Oka / Kanehsatake

Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance by Alanis Obomsawin, National Film Board of Canada

“They know very well what they are fighting for and its probably worth much [more] than nine holes in the ground.”

Just over a month ago the Turkish people came out to demonstrate in Taksim Square in Istanbul. The ignition – the desire to save trees. In an overdeveloped but ancient city, Gezi Park is one of the few green spaces left and the plan to rob the citizens of this enduring place for want of a modern mall was the final strike of the match.

In seeing the footage of the masses that showed up in Istanbul, I fantasized about the same size of a crowd gathering to protect the trees and the sacred natural spaces we have left here in Canada a land once so abundant with natural beauty but now being sliced through and whittled down.

Today is the anniversary of the blaze that started here in the town of Oka and Kanesatake community in Quebec. A developer’s desire to conform the land into a golf course was the fuel for a blaze that burned regarding human rights.

For the want of trees a population was ignited into action to deal with the deeper discontents.

The trees in Gezi Park were / are symbolic of the deeper discontent of the Turkish people with regards to their government.  Most people would be in agreement that the Turkish people, in their desire to save the trees, acted poetically in their fight for justice.

Was Oka any different?

END NOTE: Some of the land desired for development was a burial ground for the Mohawk people of that community. For over 400 years an Armenian cemetery was located in that area of Gezi Park. After the Armenian Genocide the cemetery was razed.

FATHER’S WHO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Little girl sitting on her father's shoulders during a protest on Syria, holding a flag with message FREEDOM with more flags in backbround. Syrians protest against Assad in Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

How many father’s actions are motivated by their dreams for their children?

Dreams of freedom. Dreams of safety.
Dreams of justice.

For every revolution resolved there are fathers to thank for the risks they took.

Large crowd of people walking down Istanbul city street waving the Turkish flag.

At protests in Turkey and uprisings in Syria fathers are fighting for their children and their grandchildren to have a life that respects their humanity.

Young woman from Soweto raises her hand with other students behind her holding a flag with words "Students and Parents let's be one. Kruger's boys have killed again."

Today, on June 16, as South Africa commemorates the 1976 Student Uprisings in Soweto, along with those courageous young people, we remember a father to a nation. Because of the sacrifice of Nelson Mandela, as well as the sacrifice of his own children who waited 27 years for their father’s freedom, we see a very different South Africa in the 21st Century.

And today in Canada, as we totter on the edge of environmental disaster of epic proportions, father’s from East to West, from all backgrounds, Indigenous and non-indigenous,  are fighting for Canadians to have a country where they can drink clean water, breathe in fresh air and live healthy lives for all the generations to come.

Let’s support all the fathers who are making this world better.

Older man raises his hand in peace symbol, young boys in behind him holding giant Syrian FREEDOM flag like a blanket.
Syrians protest against Assad in Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.