Evan Munday sends portraits of missing & murdered Aboriginal Women to PM Harper

Toronto illustrator sends portraits of missing, murdered aboriginal women to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Toronto illustrator Evan Munday plans to send a new Twitter portrait of a missing or murdered aboriginal woman to Prime Minister Stephen Harper every day.

Evan Munday's illustration of Elaine Frieda Alook, the subject of his first portrait posted to Twitter of missing or murdered aboriginal women.


OTTAWA—A Toronto illustrator has started drawing portraits of missing or murdered aboriginal women and plans to send a new one to Prime Minister Stephen Harper every day to bring more attention to the issue.

“Let’s make it higher on his radar. Let’s make it higher on everyone’s radar,” Evan Munday, 34, said in a telephone interview after he launched the project on Twitter Monday.

Chosen largely at random from an online RCMP database, the subject of his first portrait posted to Twitter is missing woman Elaine Frieda Alook.

The mother of four was 35 years old when she was last seen outside Fort McMurray, Alta. on May 11, 2004, when news reports say her brother dropped her off at a shopping mall.

Drawing the portrait first in pencil and then going over it with ink, Munday scanned it into electronic format at a photocopying shop and then posted it to Twitter.

He plans to start the time-consuming process anew each day.

“I wanted it to be taking time and effort. It actually makes me think more about it. It makes me think more about both the issue and that these are people who have gone missing or who have died and think about their lives,” said Munday, who is also an author of books for children.

The RCMP estimated last year that nearly 1,200 aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in the past three decades.

“The grim thing is that I could do this and literally not run out of portraits to do for over three years, which is really kind of a staggering thought,” said Munday.

Munday said the idea grew out of a similar art project he did for the 25th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre last month, posting to Twitter his ink-drawn portraits of the 14 women killed in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989.


Munday said the “last straw” for him was when Harper said, in his year-end CBC interview with Peter Mansbridge, that a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women “isn’t really high on our radar.”

The Conservative government instead announced a $25-million “action plan” on the issue last fall, arguing it would rather focus on criminal justice and preventative measures than further study.


“The federal government seems more concerned that retail prices for books or toys are slightly higher in Canada than the fact that thousands of indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered. That’s higher on their radar,” said Munday.

“So, not knowing how to do anything besides sort of draw, I thought maybe I could use what I did in December to try to generate some action, to use it to some kind of end rather than just a tribute,” said Munday.

Munday noted that while Harper may never acknowledge the illustrations being directed to his official Twitter account, his efforts may help raise awareness among other Canadians.

“I think it’s possibly one of the most important issues facing Canada today so the main goal is to make it higher on his radar and if that makes it higher on other people’s radar, whether they be government officials, whether they be individuals who decide to work toward ending this or work toward getting an inquiry held, that is so much the better,” Munday said.

Evan Munday's illustration of Danita Faith Bigeagle, the subject of his second portrait. Bigeagle was last seen in Regina in 2007.

Kinnie Starr "who will Save Our Waters?

Kinnie Starr "who will save our waters?"

 

Haida group animates pipeline opposition using stop motion and music

A new music video featuring the music of Kinnie Starr has stop-motion wood carved characters confronting Prime Minister Stephen Harper, depicted on a super tanker travelling around Haida Gwaii.

Haida Raid 3: Save Our Waters was released this week, in response to the December 2013 recommended approval of the controversial EnbridgeNorthern Gateway.

The video is a collaboration of activism and culture, produced by the Haidawood collective, who make stop motion animation featuring Haida culture and language.


According to the Indiegogo campaign that Haidawood launched, “the people of Haida Gwaii oppose both the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and the introduction of oil tanker traffic to the northwest coast of Canada.”

The Haida Raid 3: Save Our Waters production brought together Indo-Scottish Canadian artist and neuroscientist Ken Leslie, and K’alts’idaaK’ah (Laughing Crow) Productions, a storytelling society. 


Culturally Approriate Library Subject-Headings For Indigenous Peoples

When I research Indigenous populations in the United States they refer to themselves as "Native Americans" or "Indians" while in my research in Canadian Indigenous populations they refer to themselves as either "Indigenous, First Nation, Aboriginal, Metis or Inuit." So this can be difficult when researching subject-headings and when identifying these populations in my research papers.

The term "Aboriginal"  is supposed to encompass both First Nations and Metis people in Canada, however, I recall a First Nations colleague telling me that the "Aboriginal" has the connotation of abnormal because the first two letters in the term is "ab".

Certainly the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)  should try to work with Indigenous populations to find cultural sensitive terms that can be used universally, which is a tall order that needs to be addressed. The process of deliberative democracy in consulting with the Indigenous peoples who are the key stakeholders impacted by how these subject-headings represent their ethnicity is equally important as the resulting subject-headings from the process.

Therefore, the journey of deciding on the most culturally appropriate subject-headings is equally as important as the destination of the subject-headings-however, from an Indigenous Research Methodology perspective- learning is in a continuous circle like the ocean tides. Thus, I leave you with the quote from

Black Elk:

"You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children".

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

 Based on Black Elk's epistemology of the circle, I believe that learning and deciding upon the best subject-headings for Indigenous peoples is a continuous process flowing within fluid circles of social justice.

References

 

Black, E., & Neihardt, J. G. (1961). Black Elk speaks [electronic resource] : being the life story of a holy man of the Oglala Sioux / as told through John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow) Illustrated by Standing Bear. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Poems from Chief Dan George & Black Elk

May the stars carry your sadness away, 
May the flowers fill you heart with beauty, 
May hope forever  wipe away your tears, 
And, above all,  May silence make  you strong.”
Chief Dan George



And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell,
and I understood more than I saw
for I was seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of things in the spirit,
And the shape of all shapes as they must
live together like one being

Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks

Gary Moostoos Aboriginal Social Worker, Elder and Humanitarian

Gary’s work is recognized across Canada and he worked along with Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings across the nation. Media, Edmonton Police Services and the community of Edmonton have recognized Gary as an elder, teacher and healer.

Gary Moostoos has dedicated his life to assisting and supporting indigenous peoples who are in need. Gary’s commitment to helping people started over a quarter century ago. He worked in a hospital supporting people whom were sick, then as a youth worker for many years he assisted youngsters in connecting with cultural practices and spiritual teachings. Gary currently is employed as he works with homeless populations and survivors of the residential school system.

My name is Daniel Gallant and I am a former violent white supremacist. I was a street kid for many years in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. I suffered sexual and physical abuse as a child. I was angry and lost. Since that time I changed my life. At the age of 26 I started post-secondary school with a grade seven education. After my first year of school is when I met Gary Moostoos, which was about 12 years ago. Since that time I have worked as a frontline human services worker, group home manager, counselor, researcher and advocate. I now have a BA in First Nations Studies and aMasters in social workwhich Gary Moostoos is included within. I am currently a student of law in Kamloops, BC. My public work can be found in the media throughout the world. I am currently the director of Exit Canada, which is a non-profit that assists other violent extremists to leave violent lifestyles.

I tell a story of how Gary and my other friend Jerry have taught me lessons. This story called Scars of Past won a writer’s award at the UNBC Weaving Words National Indigenous Storytelling festival in Prince George during 2013. This is attributed and dedicated to Gary and Jerry.

…so basically my point is that without the support and love from people like my teacher and brother Gary Moostoos I would likely have continued on with my violent rampages and not experienced the profound degree of change that I have been gifted.

 

I include this link to my master’s thesis in social work because Gary has been monumental in my personal transformation from a violent white supremacist to a social justice advocate and practitioner. Gary has been instrumental in my life and the change therein. Moreover, I have gone on to help many people, which would not have been possible without Gary. Not only is Gary a healing practitioner for aboriginal peoples but he is also a practitioner for assisting all Canadians heal from racism and violence.

Pocahottie' Halloween costume offends aboriginal woman

'That's my culture; it's not a costume,' Mary Swain says after seeing adult outfit

A Winnipeg woman says some Halloween costumes being sold in the city are offensive and hurtful to her aboriginal culture, including one outfit that she saw recently.

The Spirit Halloween store on Regent Avenue in Winnipeg carries adult costume outfits with names like "Reservation Royalty" and "Indian Warrior." (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Mary Swain says she was browsing at Halloween Alley on Pembina Highway when she spotted a costume for adult women called "Pocahottie," which depicts the aboriginal historical figure Pocahontas in a short, low-cut dress.

"I just couldn't believe it," Swain told CBC News.

"It's my culture and we dress up in regalia when we dance at ceremonies and stuff, so I feel like people are disrespecting aboriginal people."

She said she also saw accessories made to look like traditional aboriginal headdresses, as well as items labelled "sexy Indian wigs."

Halloween Alley, the company that supplies 37 stores across Canada with products, has pulled the "Pocahottie" costume for adult women from its shelves. The outfit depicts the aboriginal Disney character Pocahontas in a short, low-cut dress. (Mary Swain/Facebook)

Swain said she immediately complained to the manager.

"I talked to her about it, and I told her my concerns that I didn't think it was appropriate for her to sell these costumes in the store," she said. "That's my culture; it's not a costume."

Another Halloween-themed store, Spirit Halloween on Regent Avenue, carried adult costume outfits with names like "Reservation Royalty," "Indian Warrior" and "Native Spirit."

Some of the outfits included feather headpieces. Many in the aboriginal community have banned the use of headdresses as fashion items, as they are considered sacred to many indigenous cultures.

'Native women trivialized as sexual objects'

Jacqueline Romanow, associate professor in the University of Winnipeg's indigenous studies department, said she, too, has been offended by some Halloween costumes.

"The costumes that are most offensive to me are the ones that show native women as trivialized sexual objects," she said. 

Swain said she immediately complained to the manager at Halloween Alley about the aboriginal-themed costume items. (CBC)

"Given the history in this country, given the context of racism indigenous people experience every day, given the hyper-sexualization of these costumes, that's really the problem." she said.

Romanow said for a society dealing with missing and murdered aboriginal women, the offensive costumes are a concern.

"I think that's more than insensitive, I think it's dangerous. It reinforces the marginalization and the victimization of some of the most vulnerable people in our society," she said. 


Store official responds

The regional manager for Halloween Alley, which has 37 locations across Canada, told CBC News he respects all cultures and takes feedback seriously, but there are no plans to remove the costume items in question.

Steven Pierson said what may be considered offensive to one person may not be offensive to another.

"The industry that we work in, you know, does have some challenges with sensitivities on a whole lot of fronts," he said.

Pierson added that many of the costumes in question are sold to aboriginal people.

"The reality is by far … our largest customer base are those customers in the aboriginal community," he said.

"It's not really my place to find what's offensive or not … I'm not an aboriginal person."

CBC News has not been able to reach officials with Spirit Halloween as of Monday night.

As for Swain, she said the official explanation is not good enough for her.

"I don't feel people should be making fun of us," she said.