There is an old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

By: Hadley Friedland and Lindsay Borrows

Part I: Backgrounder/context

This is a story about truth, about law, about reconciliation. It is a story about learning, about hope, about the strength and wisdom within Indigenous communities, and the remarkable results from truly collaborative research undertaken by academics and community partners.

This story is part of many larger stories, and involves many people, but the journey we are going to share with you came together from three directions, which we will tell you a little more about before beginning:

  1. The Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project,
  2. The Aseniwuche Winewak Nation, and
  3. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 

1. The Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project

The Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project [AJR Project] was a national research project launched by the University of Victoria Faculty of Law’s Indigenous Law Research Clinic, in collaboration with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and funded by the Ontario Law Foundation.

 

The AJR Project explored how Indigenous societies applied their own legal principles to deal with harms and conflicts between and within groups. The overall vision for this project was to honour the internal strengths and resiliencies of Indigenous peoples and to identify and articulate principles within Indigenous legal traditions that might be useful today.

The AJR Project’s approach was to treat Indigenous laws seriously as laws. Researchers analyzed publically available materials and oral traditions within partner communities, using adapted methods and the same rigor required to seriously engage with state laws in Canadian law schools. The AJR project looked at six legal traditions, in collaboration with seven partner communities across Canada.

More information about the AJR Project can be found at: http://indigenousbar.ca/indigenouslaw/ 

2. Aseniwuche Winewak Nation


One of the generous partner communities involved in the AJR project was the Cree community of Aseniwuche Winewak Nation [AWN]. AWN is actually a not-for- profit organization incorporated in 1994 to represent the Aseniwuche Winewak, a distinct group of Aboriginal people descended from Beaver, Sekani, and Shuswap (who originally lived on the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains) and Cree, Iroquois and Ojibway who migrated from the East. “Aseniwuche Winewak” means “People of the Mountains.”

AWN has gained a provincial reputation as being a dynamic and well-run organization that is meeting the needs of its community through innovative and collaborative partnerships with industry and government.

More information about AWN can be found at: http://www.aseniwuche.com 

3. The Truth and Reconciliation Comission and Education Day

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission [TRC] is a historic truth commission established as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation in the wake of the devastating residential school experience in Canada.

As part of this mandate, the TRC held seven national events across all regions of Canada, to gather survivor statements and promote truth telling and reconciliation for all Canadians. Each national event was based on one of the seven sacred teachings – love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth.

The final TRC National Event was held in Alberta, from March 27 to 30th, 2014. The theme was wisdom. More information about TRC can be found at: www.trc.ca 

The TRC Education Day, geared toward junior high and high school youth and educators, is held on the first day of each National Event. According to the TRC program, “Education Day is dedicated to all of the children who went to residential schools and all of the children who will help create a future of new and better relationships between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”

Viola Thomas, TRC Community Relations, says that the primary goals of this day of “Fostering Reconciliation through Education” are to:

  1. Promote an understanding of how Indian Residential Schools have impacted intergenerational survivors (children of survivors) families/communities.
  2. Raise awareness with educators on resources available to incorporate into curricula.
  3. Provide a youth centered focus to enable the TRC to hear their ideas to foster reconciliation with all youth.
  4. Honour and celebrate the resilience of intergenerational survivors and survivors through a youth tribute of expression.

Part II: The Journey from Grande Cache to the TRC National Event

There is an old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The AWN/AJR Project journey to the final TRC National Event began with a single email. In December 2013, Viola Thomas (TRC Community Relations) asked if someone from AWN would be interested in presenting on their legal traditions about reconciliation at the TRC Education Day on March 27, 2014. AWN said yes to this opportunity, and invited the AWN Youth Council to participate. The presentation would be primarily for youth, by youth. The AWN Youth Council, and other AWN community members, including the James Gang Drummers, agreed to work together to share about Cree legal traditions at the TRC Education Day, in order to help all Canadians with the work of reconciliation.

In the months that followed that first email, Jaeda Feddema (AWN/Susa Creek School) and Hadley Friedland (AJR Project) organized and facilitated several workshops and practices with the AWN Youth Council. We talked in the group about big concepts, like “Law”, “Cree Law”, and “Reconciliation”.

We looked at books, stones, sage and graphic novels together.

We challenged the stories of law we are taught in Canadian history.

We asked what made more sense, the AWN Youth Council’s Cree ancestors having laws to solve problems and make decisions as a group prior to European contact, or their ancestors just sitting around lawless for thousands of years until the NWMP brought them law in their magical pockets!

We talked about the TRC, what it was about, and what we had been asked to present. We all shared ideas about what each person could contribute to the presentation.

We ate lots of pizza together!

Food and Meeting

Story-telling Practice Pizza and Visit

Even though not every member of the AWN Youth Council came to Edmonton, almost every member came to the workshops and practices to listen, participate and hang out. For our final ‘dress rehearsal’ practice many community members came to watch, and eat more pizza with us! Lindsay Borrows (AJR Project/ Cape Croker) was a special guest. She travelled all the way from Victoria BC, to take part in the final preparations and visit the community before the trip to the TRC in Edmonton.

group photo

In the end, 20 people travelled to Edmonton to participate in the presentation on a very snowy March day!

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Part III: AWN Presentation at the TRC National Event Education Day, Edmonton 

After lunch

The AWN participants drove six hours in the snow from Grande Cache and arrived in Edmonton late at night. Despite the excitement of being in the big city, and little sleep, they awoke early the following morning and made it to the Shaw Conference Centre in time to practice before the presentation, ready to share their teachings.

practicing

Gals

Hadley Friedland and Val Napoleon from the University of Victoria Indigenous Law Research Unit, and Viola Thomas from the TRC introduced the presentation.

“We worked with communities across Canada to articulate various Indigenous legal traditions and how they address harms and conflicts, such as those that flowed from the residential school experience.”

 

 

“We recognize the painful histories, real legacies of hurt, trauma, violence and addiction that many people continue to struggle with, in fact ,we couldn’t over- estimate this pain. At the same time, we can honour, learn and apply the internal wisdom, strengths and resources that are just as real, but often less visible to outsiders, and even insiders. We shouldn’t under- estimate these resources”

Many visions and hopes were contained in this project, based on the belief that building a healthy future begins with recognizing and rebuilding strengths and resources already present within Indigenous communities.

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David

 

David MacPhee is President of the Aseniwuche Winewak. He explained that AWN first decided to join in on this project because it is part of a larger community vision. Recognizing and rebuilding laws are one small part of building a strong and healthy future for the community. David also explained his personal motivation, to ensure that no child has to go through today what he went through as a child.

 

 

Val asked the question, “what do you think of when you hear the word law?”

Val

Most people today think of police, courts, or judges. Val explained that, yes, law can include all of these things, but it is more than that. Law is how groups of people solve problems, make decisions, create safety, repair relationships, and act on their responsibilities to each other.

Hadley taught that while Indigenous laws are not yet found in textbooks or online like other Canadian laws, we can learn them through other means.

Hadley

Hadley explained that even beyond the lack of conventional educational resources, it can be hard even for Indigenous people to ‘see’ Indigenous law today for many reasons. Often “we are used to seeing law as something the Canadian government or police make or do. Some people have even been taught that Indigenous people did not have law before white people came here. This is a lie.”

Some people say Indigenous laws can be found in stories, dreams, dances, art, in the world around us and how we live our lives. Some people say they are ‘written on our hearts.’ They are often practiced and passed down through individuals, families and ceremonies. This is why many still survive. “Because of the presence of Canadian law, and the lies and efforts to stop Indigenous law, some Indigenous laws are sleeping. It is time to awaken them.”

Carol

Carol Wanyandie, the amazing community coordinator for the project at AWN, shared her experience discovering there was Cree law in her own community.

When she was talking with the law students and translating for elders being interviewed, she realized that she had heard many of the stories often, since she was a small child, but had never thought about them being about, or containing ‘law’ or ‘legal principles’.

To her, it had always just seemed the way things were, part of life. As she talked and listened, she started to see the ‘law’ in the stories. The principles in them suddenly seemed to stick out so clearly. Once she started seeing the principles, she couldn’t stop ‘seeing’ them. She realized, of course Cree people had always had laws and practiced law. It was right there in the stories. It just wasn’t talked about as ‘law’, but rather, ‘a way of life’.

 

 

val and hadley speaking

“So, how and what do Cree legal traditions teach us about the work of reconciliation? In our project, reconciliation was almost never talked about directly, as a specific response, right or obligation. Reconciliation is the outcome or result of hard work through legal processes and responses. It is life long work.”

Val and Hadley then invited the AWN Community members and Youth Council to present five Cree legal principles that apply to this work, through five different traditional teaching methods.

 

1) The principle of healing is essential to the work of reconciliation:

“There are some things in life that we’ll never get over, but we can get through them. Like the song shared by the James Gang Drummers, we need to be creative in order to heal. Our pain doesn’t always leave us, but we can change its intensity over time as we work hard to strengthen our hearts.”

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JGD

Members of the James Gang Drummers (from left to right: Robert Wanyandie, Jacob Wanyandie, Justin Wanyandie, Bailey Wanyandie, Gabriel McDonald and Charlie McDonald) opened with hand drumming to teach some Cree law through ceremony and song.

Robert

The lead singer of the James Gang Drummers, Robert Wanyandie, shared about a song that has brought a lot of peace and healing for many people in his family and community. The song came to him one evening when he was camping with his family in the mountains. He had recently lost his brother, James, who founded the James Gang Drummers, and with who Robert had a very close and special relationship. The song acknowledges the enormity of that loss and helps him express and work through his grief in a good way. He generously shares this song with his family and others. The power of the song’s words and music lets us feel our own grief and teaches us how to keep living well and somehow move forward in our own lives, even when we are hurting and have endured tremendous losses.

 

 

 

bailey drumming charlie drumming gabe drmming

Youth from AWN also feel the power of healing through the song.

JGD youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsay

Lindsay Borrows explained further the Cree legal principle of healing. When she was a teenager she had a strong disagreement one of her best friends. She felt sad to lose their friendship. She went running through the woods to debrief, though felt frustrated because a storm had gone through the forest and knocked many of the trees over. It looked like her friendship—messy and destroyed. Her grandma’s wisdom helped her deeply. The following words teach one way to view pain and healing: “There are some things in life we’ll never get over, but we can get through them.” Eventually different trees in the forest grow up, and while it never looks the same as before the storm, it can still be beautiful. We are all part of resilient families with difficult stories, and we can learn how to do hard things too.

 

 

 

2) The principle of taking responsibility is essential to the work of reconciliation

buffalo

“From that day forward, the Cree gathered at this buffalo rock (near the Red Deer River).”

This principle was shared through sharing a story. Stories were the main way we learned law in the AJR Project.

buffalo child story 1

The story was told by (from left to right) Jaeda Feddama, Vicky Wanyandie, Edna Doire, and some of the AWN youth council – Faith Wanyandie, Brent McDonald, John MacPhee, and some listeners from the youth council.

In this story, a baby boy is mistakenly left behind by his people while they were travelling. He was found by the buffalo who nursed him, and took care of him. The boy loved the buffalo, and they loved him. Already in this story we learn that buffalo are beings with agency, thoughts and social organization.

boys story telling

Eventually the young boy began to wonder why he looked so different from the rest of his buffalo family. He went in search of the Cree, to understand where he came from. He found them, and had to learn their language and learn their ways. The boy was not happy because he saw buffalo meat drying in racks. Not only did the Cree eat buffalo, they slept under buffalo blankets and lived in homes made of buffalo hide.
girls listening to story

The buffalo father said to the buffalo child, “This is our life. Those people you saw, they come from the same creator that we do. Our work is to feed the people, we cover them, and we keep them warm. The people live by us…But there is another law. They cannot kill too many of us…These Crees have to take care. They must treat us with respect and we must be good to them.”

 

 

story telling portrait

Buffalo child still didn’t like that the Cree were using so many of the buffalo. One day there was another attack on the buffalo and the father was injured. He told buffalo child to flee and save his own life. The buffalo father told the boy he had a choice. Buffalo child could could roll over a certain way and become a buffalo, or roll over another way and become a rock. The boy chose to become a rock (mistasiniy). 

adults story tellers

From that day forward the Crees gathered at this buffalo rock (near the Red Deer River). They sang and danced because the buffalo was one of the gifts they received.

 

 

faith smiling

The principle of taking responsibility is vital to the work of reconciliation. Maintaining mutually respectful and healthy relationships requires a lifelong commitment. This story showed the power of love, of generosity, of compassion and kindness. Can you think of a time in your life when it was hard to take responsibility for an action you had done?

At one time or another, we have all been affected by the destructive spirits of contention, resentment, greed or revenge. Sometimes we even recognize those harmful spirits in ourselves. None of us are perfect. We have all been on both the receiving and giving ends of forgiveness. Taking responsibility can mean checking our actions so we aren’t taking more from others than they are able to give, or it can mean choosing not to hurt those close to us when we feel the urge to lash out from our own hurt.

 

 

 

3) We learn another principle that is vital to the work of reconciliation from the Cree language itself— the principle of respectful relationships.

 These words teach us a lot: Wah ko to win, Matsiwin and O to ta me to win.

david on language

Cree law is also learned through language. David MacPhee shared his interpretation of the meaning behind three important Cree words. These words teach us a lot: Wah ko to win, Matsiwin and O to ta me to win.

Wah ko to win is how we are related to one another, and how things relate to one another. We all exist within larger relationships and these relationships are the foundation for everything else. Most importantly the word describes how all is related to God

the Creator. In relationships there are roles that each party has. It is critical to recognize there is also responsibility as part of relationships. The issue of responsibility creates a lot of discussion if it was not exercised appropriately.

Matsiwin is life. In our Cree language it means life in our relationships and our activities. Matsiwin is considered in how our actions line up with the ways of God the Creator, or don’t. If they line up, it’s matsiwin. Many of Cree teachings come from the ways of the Creator.

Protocols are an important part of life. They are used in ceremonies, hunting, greeting people, and gathering medicinal plants for healing, for births, for death. Protocols are often an acknowledgement of wah ko to win, matsiwin or the author of these two laws.

The word ‘law’ in Cree is translated literally as ‘the judging exercise’, or ‘the making of judging. The person who made our laws literally had the authority and ability to do so. Culturally this is a position reserved for the Creator.

At the same time, nobody sits around when someone is doing something dangerous and harmful and says, well, we’ll just not pass judgment. This is where protocols and process come in. The process of passing judgment or deciding a serious outcome in a situation is so important that a process combined with protocol is crucial.

Ototametowin -This word is more of an action– the action or the work of creating relationships and taking care of all our relationships. This is an action. It requires ongoing work – it never ends. It is something we do.

Lindsay

“It’s amazing that language itself can teach us about the importance of valuing and taking care in all our relationships. This fits with Justice Murray Sinclair’s definition of reconciliation on the TRC website. He says, ‘Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts.’ We agree.”

Lindsay told a story of when an elder taught her about the word dabaadendiziwin, which is Anishinaabe for ‘humility’. The elder said we can talk about and use words and language all we want, but it doesn’t mean anything. He then paused and looked out the window of his house. He pointed out a squirrel and said, “When you can see that squirrel and know you are no greater and no less than her, then you have walked with humility. Only then do you understand dabaadendiziwin.” Learning Indigenous languages, allows us to understand the meaning behind the words in even deeper ways that fosters respectful relationships.

4) The principle of creating safety is foundational to the work of reconciliation.

safety shawls

The young women (from left to right) Grace Wanyandie, Rebecca Wanyandie, Faith Wanyandie, Devina Doire, Hannah McDonald and Davita Friedland made their shawls. Men from the community placed them over the girls as a symbol of care and protection. The shawls had a lot of meaning to each girl, as they are all unique. It requires safety to express oneself, whether it be through art or otherwise.

safety shawls 2

After placing the shawls on the girls, they looked into each other’s eyes and acknowledged their relationships.

all girls shawl

The girls stood proud.

shawls!

Our children, our young women and our young men, need to and deserve to be protected and live in communities they feel safe in and proud to be part of today. If we or our families are not in a safe place, then none of the other principles we discuss can have a positive effect. Safety is foundational.

davina shawl

Looking at the young women, it is hard not to feel gratitude for the women and men in our lives, and others in the world, who are living and teaching gentleness, compassion, and are creating safe places.

davita and hannah shawls

We need to validate others, and be validated.

faith and girl shawl

The indigenous laws we learned during this project make safety a clear principle. For those who are contributing in any way to make an unsafe place, we need to send this two-worded message: stop it.

robert and vicky daughter shawl

After the girls modeled their shawls to the song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Darling, Don’t Cry, Davita and Hannah presented a special art project.

davita and hannah project

They had collected photos to represent four categories under the title “What makes us, us!”: family, tradition, land and law.

 

 

 

 

 

what makes us, us!

Davita and Hannah said: “Today we came here to show you that not just words can make us understand, but art is another way that can make us understand. We created this project, “What Makes Us, Us” to show that the concepts of family, law, love, tradition and land come together as one whole and makes us, us. Part of our project was to ask the kids of our community to draw pictures of what they thought of when they heard the words: family, law, love, tradition, land, hope and faith. This showed us that our generation to come is happy, strong and hopeful. Our great-grandparent’s, grandparent’s and parent’s chose to continue walking the long path of the red road. As a result we are a happy, hopeful and strong generation and there are many more strong generations to come.”

 

 

 

Other youth from AWN had also prepared art, which played in a slideshow as the girls modeled their shawls. The creativity of their representations enabled the youth to show how to live matsiwin—the good life, which David explained the meaning of earlier.

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Val encouraged the young women through an explanation of a piece of art she created called “Girlzz Matter”.

val reading to girls

“I painted this picture when thinking of my nieces – they have so many struggles. This is an adolescent raven that hasn’t yet learned of her beauty, potential, and strength. Just as my nieces are

still underestimating their worth in the world, this little raven also struggles. The raven is to generate questions about safety, responsibilities to keep girls and other young people safe in our communities, and connections.”

 

 

 

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“We can ask, ‘Why is she alone? Is she afraid? Who is she waiting for? Does she know her power? Or, Why are her toenails blue?’

There are lots of questions and these are ways to create conversations. We need lots of questions and lots of conversation to build strong relationships in our communities.”

 

 

This painting is part of a larger art project of ravens that challenge stereotypes and encourages us all to think critically and creatively.

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The shawls and art remind us of the foundational importance of creating safety. Without it, none of  the other principles discussed have effect.

5) The principle of education is important for the work of reconciliation to be enduring. 

chehala 1

 

Chehala Leonard shared her own personal journey of reconciliation, from growing up in the bush to succeeding at university. She first talked about growing up as part of two rich heritages and families, one European, Metis and Cree. This heritage held both gifts and challenges. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

che dad 2 che dad1

che bush

Her upbringing, spent in the bush and on the trail, shaped her worldview and still affects how she interacts with the world. Her experiences at school, and how other children and adults treated her, based on her appearance and their assumptions, also still has profound effects. She shared about experiencing racism and being treated differently, from both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in her life, both as she grew up, and as an adult. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chehala 2

When Chehala was a teenager, she found herself really struggling with her identity and all the painful things that seemed to go along with it. She coped by turning to drugs and alcohol. She dropped out of high school and felt very lost and alone for a very long time. An experience in a jail cell, surrounded by other Indigenous women, helplessly stuck there while a guard screamed derogatory and racist remarks toward them, was a turning point in her life, and gave her the determination and motivation to change her life. From that day forward, Chehala began to steadily work toward a better future for herself. 

 

chehala power point

Chehala started to seek out healthy experiences. She actively sought and found productive ways to reconcile the different parts of her life and her self, to accept who she is, and start creating a life she could be proud of. She embraced travel opportunities and discovered she loved exploring new places and meeting new people. She went back to school to complete her high school and then started university. She met cultural teachers and began participating in ceremonies. These cultural activities helped her gain and now help her maintain a sense of inner peace and strength. She started taking care of herself through healthy eating, working out, and even boxing! 

che group

She has travelled the world and also taken the opportunity to return to her community as a youth mentor and role model in a summer program for university students. She is currently happy, healthy and almost finished her university degree, with a bright future ahead of her. 

 

 

 

Lindsay

“One of the principles we learned through the way Chehala lives her life, that is a vital part of the work of reconciliation, is the principle of education. There is a deep history of Cree, and other Indigenous peoples, being aware of and open to all effective tools and allies to help achieve their goals. One thing Chehala’s personal journey teaches us is how to honour ourselves and build a healthy future through accessing resources like education, fitness and travel.

When we learn correct principles, we can govern ourselves. Education teaches us these correct principles that helps us live well. Our desire to do good in the world is only a dream until we have education. Our laws can be about thinking, acting, feeling, and relying deeply on the many sources around us to know how best to act.”

Mikomosis

Val and Hadley closed by talking about work happening in the UVic Indigenous Law Research Unit. This presentation demonstrated different ways to engage with Indigenous laws. There are many ways to do this essential work. The graphic novel, Mikomosis and the Wetiko, was developed through the UVic Indigenous Law Research Unit as part of the IBA AJR project. This graphic novel is one creative new way of learning ancient wisdom. It can also speak to the work of restoring right relations between peoples, and the importance of asking the critical questions while doing so. It is yet another way we can access and understand the Cree laws.

 

 

 

 

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Healing, taking responsibility, respectful relationships, creating safety, and education are all essential principles in Cree law. They were demonstrated in five different ways – through song, story, language, art, and a way of life.

Ask yourself, has the way I look at the work of reconciliation changed?

Anishinaabe writer, Richard Wagamese says, “We need to hear stories of healing, not just relentless retellings of pain. Despite the horror, it is possible to move forward.”

 

 

There are incredible resources within communities, and within each one of us. We invite you to wonder, what if the work of reconciliation is really about drawing on all of our stories to move forward in a good way—the painful ones and the strong and beautiful ones, like we saw today, to create new stories together?

In this project, we found we can all learn from and use these resources to work toward a strong and healthy future. There is much work to do, but there is much hope. It is up to me. It is up to you. We all have a part to play.

drum group end presentation

The James Gang Drummers provided the final closing for the presentation by sharing a very special honour song. This was shared to honour the residential school survivors. It was also to honour everyone who took part in the presentation, to honour the audience’s important work of actively listening, with open hearts and minds, and to honour the work yet to come.

end panorama

Part IV: AJR Project Team Reflections and Thanks

The AWN/AJR Project Presentation at the TRC Education Day felt different to us from a typical presentation about law because here, law was not just read or talked about. The AWN youth and

community members were empowered to explore and express their ability to make decisions, resolve challenges, and create safety in their lives, through song, art, story and other traditional methods. Law was embodied. Law was lived, and living. It was colourful, powerful and present.

The presentation demonstrated a vital truth. Truth is not only about exposing human stories of pain and abuse that have been hidden for far too long. Truth is also about revealing the rich resources within Indigenous communities that have been equally and as tragically hidden. Indigenous peoples have laws. The myth of a lawless land prior to European contact is just that – a myth. There are wisdom and strengths that can be found in the law of all of our ancestors that we can draw on today. This too is a truth that needs to be brought forth and recognized in the wake of the residential school experience in Canada. In this truth, there are grounds for hope.

The AWN youth council and participating community members shared this truth – they generously shared their own wisdom, strengths and resources about the work of reconciliation, from their own legal tradition, in their own ways, to a wide audience of Canadians at the final TRC National Event. They connected people to the potential of relearning and respectfully engaging with Indigenous legal traditions, and in accessing a wider array of resources for the work of reconciliation, for living well, for building new stories together. This was the wisdom the AWN community and the AJR Project brought to the final TRC National Event. It was one step in much longer journeys, but it was a significant step.

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed and participated. We are honoured and humbled to have taken part in this historic journey with you.

Part V: AWN Community Participants’ Reflections and Thanks

AWN member Edna Doire, said of the experience: “What a great honour it was to have Val, Lindsay and Hadley facilitate the presentation. It was a great privilege for me and I am very grateful. I am thankful to have been with two teachers, Jaeda, Vicky, and the James Gang Drummers, AWN Youth Council and AWN members, all presenting together. The James Gang’s song was majestic. It told of the pride of being from the Rocky Mountains (Aseniwuche). Hearing Robert tell about the song itself being a gift teaches knowledge. The Buffalo Child story is such a powerful story. I could feel the emotion. To see the men stand behind the young women and girls and put the shawls on them was just a beautiful image. The symbol – that we stand by and help and protect the girls and young women and honour them is so powerful. Hiy Hiy. To hear David and Carol speak and explain their meanings was very cool. To see the girls walk with pride as they modeled their regalia was awesome. They reminded me of eagles, so powerful in their shawls. Hannah and Davita’s art showed much love. Hiy Hiy. Listening to Chehala’s story fit so well with truth and reconciliation. I felt emotional pain as I thought of the survivors but I had hope as there was so much support. Thank you for letting me and Devina be a part of this.”

John MacPhee, age 18, from the AWN Youth Council said:

“The trip to Edmonton for the TRC was amazing. I felt proud to be part of such an amazing event. It felt as if the culture flourished across the group we went with. Getting to see the people who went and got to perform was a profound experience – the room felt light and there was pride on everyone’s faces.”

 Part VI: Appendix, How do I teach this to my class? Where do I learn more?

You can visit the AJR Project website: http://indigenousbar.ca/indigenouslaw/

Additional Resources:

The following resources are recommended for those interested in learning more about this and other approaches to engaging with Indigenous legal traditions:

Articles, Chapters and Books:

  • Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez, “Nunavut: Whose Homeland, Whose Voices?” in Patricia A. Monture and Patricia D. McGuire (Eds.) First Voices: An Aboriginal Women’s Reader (Inanna Publications, 2009).
  • Raymond D. Austin, Navaho Courts and Navaho Common Law: A Tradition of Tribal Self-Governance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).
  • CF Black, The Land is the Source of the Law: A Dialogic Encounter with Indigenous Jurisprudence (New York: Routledge, 2011).
  • John Borrows, “Physical Philosophy: Mobility and the Future of Indigenous Rights” in Benjamin J Richardson, Shin Imai and Kent McNeil, eds. Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives (Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2009) at 403.
  • John Borrows, Canada’s Indigenous Constitution (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010).
  • John Borrows, Drawing Out Law (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010).
  • Gordon Christie, “Indigenous Legal Theory: Some Initial Considerations” in Benjamin J Richardson, Shin Imai and Kent McNeil, eds. Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives (Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2009).
  • Aimee Craft, Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2013).
  • Mathew Fletcher, ‘Rethinking Customary Law in Tribal Court Jurisprudence’ (2006) Indigenous Law and Policy Centre Occasional Paper Series.
  • Hadley Friedland, ‘Reflective Frameworks: Methods for Accessing, Understanding and Applying Indigenous Laws’ (2013) 11 (2) Indigenous LJ 1.
  • Luke McNamara, ‘The Locus of Decision-Making Authority in Circle Sentencing: The Significance of Criteria and Guideline’ (2000) 18 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice
  • Val Napoleon and Hadley Friedland, “The Inside Job: Engaging With Indigenous Legal Traditions Through Stories” in Tony Lucero & Dale Turner (eds.), Oxford Handbook on Indigenous Peoples’ Politics (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2014).
  • Pat Sekaquaptewa, ‘Key Concepts in the Finding, Definition and Consideration of Custom Law in Tribal Lawmaking’ (2007-2008) 32 Am Indian LR.
  • Val Napoleon, “Aboriginal Discourse: Gender, Identity and Community” in Benjamin J Richardson, Shin Imai and Kent McNeil, eds. Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives (Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2009).
  • Val Napoleon, “Thinking About Indigenous Legal Orders” in Rene Provost and Colleen Sheppard (eds.), Dialogues on Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (New York: Springer, 2012)
  • Justin B. Richland, Arguing with Tradition: The Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  • Rupert Ross, Returning to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice (Toronto: Penguin, 1996).

Theses and Dissertations and Reports:

  • Hadley Friedland (2009) The Wetiko (Windigo) Legal Principles: Responding to Harmful People in Cree, Anishinabek and Saulteaux Societies – Past, Present and Future Uses, with a Focus on Contemporary Violence and Child Victimization Concerns, LLM thesis, University of Alberta.
  • Tracey Lindberg, Critical Indigenous Legal Theory, (University of Ottawa, PhD Dissertation, 2007).
  • Val Napoleon (2009) Gitksan Legal Order, Law, and Legal Theory, PhD dissertation, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria.
  • Law Commission of Canada, Justice Within: Indigenous Legal Traditions, DVD (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 2006).
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Aseniwuche Winewak Nation Gathering at TRC National Conference, Edmonton

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