Sunday, May 28, 2017


Last week I was assisting a friend to expose racist behavior near a local town surrounded by many First Nation Reservations.  Many of this town's residents have been known for generations to racial profile, conduct racially violent actions, and condone racism in the town since it was overtaken and stolen from Metis Settlers in the area...

As a result of the Facebook post, it was removed several times and put on Facebook Jail (not allowed to post, comment, or use imessenger) for 24 hours.  At the time I found it ironic because in the past many highly racism posts were made for years against people of color and it took many people to get the posts removed but like a Black Pastor in California stated while doing a talk with well known speaker, Time Wise, Facebook is a "White Privileged Social Media" platform that supports Whiteness...

So so true...therefore, I thought I would share further explanation of White Fragility because this is what I see when confronting this Mental Conditioning...

BELOW IS Isaiah Hines WORDS:

Isaiah Hines
May 25 at 9:07pm · South Burlington, VT, United States ·

It’s come to my attention that this image is circulating the “Rebel Alliance” Facebook page and is generating quite a bit of confusion. Just wanted to clear up a few things. This is a picture of me, one year ago, giving my final presentation for my AP Psychology class. For this project, we were allowed to choose any psychology-related concept to research and present to the class. I chose ‘white fragility’. I stand by my presentation and the concept of white fragility and here’s why.
White fragility is a term coined by Westfield State University professor Robin DiAngelo. It refers to a mental state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive actions and biological responses. It is a well-researched, well-documented psychological phenomenon and it was entirely appropriate for the assignment. My psychology teacher also fully approved of the presentation.

Part of why white fragility occurs is because we are falsely taught that racism is an issue solely of moral and immoral people rather than as an issue deeply embedded in our nation's systems and institutions. This means that people believe if they are a good person with good morals, they are incapable of being racist. So, when white people are called out for saying or doing something racially insensitive, they believe they are being called an immoral, bad person. This explains much of the defensiveness.

In truth, as Americans, we are raised in a racist society that exists as a result of our extensive and violent history of race-based oppression, we are all socialized to have racist tendencies. Saying and doing racist things by mistake does not make you a bad person. Everyone will make these mistakes at some point. Instead of seeing being called out as a personal attack on your character, I encourage people to try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

The reason it is so important to understand this concept is that it can be a HUGE barrier to having effective conversations on race and racism. 

White fragility allows people not to be held accountable for their words and actions, it allows white people to govern when and how racism is discussed, and it reinforces racial power dynamics thus upholding the white supremacy within our society.

I did find it just a little funny how many of the people responding to this image with anger or indignation are actually displaying the psychological concept in action! 

I’ve attached the link to my actual presentation below. I HIGHLY suggest everyone take a look!

A Psychological Analysis of the Social Phenomenon That Is White Fragility
By Isaiah Hines

What Is White Fragility?
  • The term ‘white fragility’ was coined by Robin DiAngelo. 
  • It refers to a mental state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable. This then triggers a range of defensive moves. 
  • In America, white people live in a social environment that protects them from race-based stress.
  • As a result, white people get to set expectations for racial comfort which in turn lowers their tolerance for racial-stress.
Why Is It A Bad Thing?
  • The term ‘white fragility’ was coined by Robin DiAngelo.
  • It refers to a mental state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable. This then triggers a range of defensive moves.
  • In America, white people live in a social environment that protects them from race-based stress.
  • As a result, white people get to set expectations for racial comfort which in turn lowers their tolerance for racial-stress.
Why Does This Happen?

  • Most white people understand racism solely as an issue of moral and immoral people.
  • They believe if they’re a good person with good intentions, they can’t be racist.
  • They also tend to believe that racism consists of easily identifiable singular acts such as racial slurs, hate crimes, etc.
  • When white people are called out for doing something racist, they tend to think they are being called a bad person, which upsets them. 
How Can We Avoid It?

  • There is no such thing as “reverse racism”
  • There is no such thing as “colorblindness”
  • Racism is not always overt and due to the racist society that we live in, we are all capable of it.
  • Simply speaking about race is not racist.
  • When called out for saying/doing something racist, take it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • You are never “done” unlearning racism.
  • Learn how to listen and never try to dominate a conversation on racism with a person of color.

Also, here are some links that I’ve often used when facilitating discussions on this topic. I find both of these pieces extremely helpful and educational.

'White fragility' is a defensive response to real conversations about race.

White Fragility

by Robin DiAngelo

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This paper explicates the dynamics of White Fragility. I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility. I have just presented a definition of racism that includes the acknowledgment that whites hold social and institutional power over people of color. A white man is pounding his fist on the table. His face is red and he is furious. As he pounds he yells, “White people have been discriminated against for 25 years! A white person can’t get a job anymore!”

I'm happy to respond to any questions or concerns or just further explain this concept if anyone is interested. Just let me know!

See the original post on Facebook below:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Healing Through Neurodecolonization and Mindfulness"

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

"Healing through neurodecolonization and mindfulness"

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird speaks at Portland State University, "Healing through neurodecolonization and mindfulness". Indigenous scholar and activist, citizen of the Arikara (Sahniish) and Hidatsa Nations in North Dakota. Dr. Yellow Birds activism focuses on: Native American and other Indigenous Peoples cultural and political rights; Indigenous Peoples’ health and wellness, neurodeocolonization and mindfulness; and Colonization and methods of Decolonization.

He is also co-editor and author of several books: For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook, 2005 (with Dr. Waziyatawin); Indigenous Social Work around the World: Towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice, 2008 (with Drs. Mel Gray and John Coates); For Indigenous Minds Only, 2012 (with Dr. Waziyatawin); and Decolonizing Social Work, 2013 (with Mel Gray, John Coates, and Tiani Hetherington)

DECOLONIZING THE MIND from cheryle easter on Vimeo.

PowerPoint From 2015: Concepts of Traditional Mindfulness and Neurodecolonization of the Mind and Body

Dr. Michel Yellow Bird attended the Indigenous Thought Conference as a Keynote Speaker at the University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills from May 2-5, 2017

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird is a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes, (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara), and a Professor of Sociology and Director of Indigenous Tribal Studies at North Dakota State University. He joined the NDSU faculty in the fall of 2014. He has held faculty and/or academic administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, and Humboldt State University.

His teaching, writing, research, and community work focus on Indigenous Peoples’ health, leadership, and cultural rights; the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; decolonizing social work approaches; decolonizing war and military service; neurodecolonization and mind body approaches; neuroscience and Indigenous Peoples; traditional mindfulness and contemplative practices; ancestral and paleo eating and lifestyle; and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kehewin Language and Cultural Symposium

A short journal as an attendee of the event...


February 15-17, 2017

“To strive to retain Cree Language with Culture”

KCN Chief Brenda John - Tawaw
It was a pleasure to attend the language conference held in our neighbouring tribe. This was a great opportunity to hear some key trail blazers in language revitalization within our Indigenous Lands and some used research to support the need for revitalization and strategies to strengthen our goals towards success of removing our languages from the endangered status.
The Chief and Council and Elder’s support and presence was exceptional and reflected their focus of treaty and education etc. during the grand entry with our Treaty No. 6 flag, the Crown flag and their nation’s flag present. There was no Canadian or Provincial flag present. This was something another attendee commented on and noticed at the table I was at and she thought this was a great demonstration of honour and respect for who we are as nehiyawak and an honour to witness.

However, on a more personal journey, this was a great opportunity to network with others of like minds, support each other on this journey of reclamation, and reiterate a message that we are all interconnected on this journey together. After all, language is a vital tool way beyond communication.

The three-day conference was very well organized and planned with exceptional Keynote Speakers Belinda Daniels and Solomon Ratt and wide variety of Presenters. It was hard to decide what sessions to attend as some were scheduled longer than others and overlapped. I was left with having to let go

of the opportunity to see some presenter’s sessions. I did, however, attend Darlene Auger’s session on Swing Therapy, half of Jerry Saddlebacks’ session on the nehiyaw Creation Story, and Elmer Ballantyne on wahkotowin. All were exceptional sessions leaving me yearning for more but again leaving me feeling like I needed to let go of my desires to learn more those days. I guess in the future I can hope to cross paths with them again in “Indian Country”.

The first session I attended was Darlene Auger’s and I walked away more enlightened on how she started her journey to start the Swing Exercises. I heard of her work years ago and want to participate in it sometime to assist in furthering my own healing pimohtewin. After she shared her story, she
demonstrated the method with a volunteer. Later, we did discuss doing this with our Master’s Students this spring. This was promising. I strongly believe in the swing for children and helping our people heal from intergenerational traumas. Traumas which can also be barriers for our people to learn our Indigenous languages and a path of resurgence.

The second presenter I briefly listened to was Jerry Saddleback and I walked away with another part of the Creation Story as many are aware, takes days to hear. However, grateful for the piece I did hear on a spirit’s journey on sharing some sacred medicines across our lands even as far as south of the border, before those superficial borders were invented by our colonizers. Every time I have an opportunity to hear him speak, I am grateful for him and the time and energy he puts towards sharing the stories. It is always a blessing to hear him, even if only for a short time.

The third session I attended was with Elmer Ballantyne from Saskatchewan. He shared part of his life and expanded on the importance of kinship and why some of the words are the way they are as they tie into teachings and roles of how we interact with each other. For example, in-laws would not talk to each other as a sign of great respect and find other ways to communicate and often through others or animals or objects. It always is interesting to hear because over the years I have seen some of these behaviors demonstrated and sometimes some didn’t know why, they just did it. Some of this knowledge was shared and some was blood memory. Kinship is always interesting as the connections are not always simple but the kinship system is very complex but also very efficient.

What I remembered the most were the sessions and I did catch parts of the Keynote Speakers words but sometimes, it was not always easy to hear due to the busyness of the gym while they spoke. However, it was great to stay and attend the evening event and listen to a fun laughter filled gym with Don Burnstick. This allowed me to free my spirit and just have some fun and laugh until I cried hahaha. As was all know, I hate laughing! haha

I did walk away with many pictures, some video of wise words from people like KCN Councillor
Ben Badger, and my peers. It was also great to see so many attend as the even was full. I really hope there are more conferences like this locally, with easy access, for our people to attend as the registration was minimal and it included meals and evening entertainment. This was what I liked about it too, welcoming environment, fun, professional but laid back, healthy meals, easy to access and attend, and affordable…but most importantly the exercising of our language and culture!

Memorable three days on Treaty No. 6 Territory reclaiming & resurgence of language and culture...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017



When I attended a Treaty 1-11 meeting in 2013 hosted by Onion Lake, there was a presentation to all leaders and treaty people about how Indian Act is set up to policy out all Indians from Inherent and/or Treaty Rights (1950s changed Treaty to Status) and when women from Saddle Lake challenged Indian Affairs, Canada used the bill, C-31 to add their own additional enfranchising criteria to water down or weaken inherent/treaty rights. This wasn’t the intent of the women who challenged Indian Affairs, it was politicians who used the women’s re-instatement challenge to push their own agenda to remove rights over generations (also a White Paper agenda).

What would today be like or the future of all our people if people like Big Bear, Poundmaker, Nellie Carlson, or those of Oka etc. never challenged the systems or colonial people?

Anyways, at this meeting we were all being informed that due to Indian Affairs current policies, more future generations will be refused status/treaty rights to eventually zero band membership registrations by 2050. This was also projected for the future of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in 2050 at current band membership issue. Leaders were advised to challenge Canada and Indian Affairs to protect future generations by taking back control of our ᐊᐧᐦᑯᐦᑐᐃᐧᐣ wahkohtowin (kinship) and nationhood so we maintain our inherent and treaty rights as the Original Peoples of Turtle Island etc..

As I was about to scan through a section of the book, Disinherited Generations, written by Carlson, Steinhauer, Goyette, I came across a few pages that reminded me of my current situation with this Saddle Lake Cree Nation Election 2016 Federal Judicial Review

Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and Their Descendants

 4.25  ·   Rating Details ·  8 Ratings  ·  3 Reviews
This oral autobiography of two remarkable Cree women tells their life stories against a backdrop of government discrimination, First Nations activism, and the resurgence of First Nations communities. Nellie Carlson and Kathleen Steinhauer, who helped to organize the Indian Rights for Indian Women movement in western Canada in the 1960s, fought the Canadian government#146;s interpretation of treaty and Aboriginal rights, the Indian Act, and the male power structure in their own communities in pursuit of equal rights for Aboriginal women and children. After decades of activism and court battles, First Nations women succeeded in changing these oppressive regulations, thus benefitting thousands of their descendants. Those interested in human rights, activism, history, and Native Studies will find that these personal stories, enriched by detailed notes and photographs, form a passionate record of an important, continuing struggle. (less)

This is not a case about power or control, it’s about rights, the right to be treated fairly, the right to exercise rights as a person/people who are part of a nation, and even exercise the option/choice to serve the people, in a leadership capacity, if the people so choose to exercise their rights to vote a person for that position. 

It is more than just about an election, it’s about all band members not being discriminated against or belittled/excluded or targeted but treated as valuable worthy members of our band or nation with skills to offer for the betterment of our people. It’s about no one being better than another or less than another

…it’s about fairness, respect, exercise rights, and not accept tyranny.

This is what this is about, not all will agree or others have their own belief or idea of why we are challenging the Election process, but I guess we will be accountable to Kise manitow for those actions of truth.

As I opened the book and started to read a section, it reminded me that history is being repeated (Saddle Lake Election 2016 Federal Court Judicial Review hearing January 17, 2017) in the sense of how humans react defensively and persecute people who challenge systems and attempt to create division, conduct fear mongering etc..; especially if they benefit in some way (i.e.. false power, status, financially etc.) from the corrupt system and/or process.

Here is the section I read and decide for yourself, if history is repeating in the sense of the treatment of anyone who challenges corruption etc… At the end of the day, each morning gives us all a new beginning to change our ways, correct, and/or improve life for all/ourselves etc.. for all future generations to benefit.

Here is to nationhood and hope that our ancestors assist and guide us to ensure we be the best we can be and remember to guarantee a future for all our people.


Pages 36, 39, 40: Nellie Leaves Saddle Lake

Read the attached pictures of the pages but these words stand out for those who believe I do not belong or have the right to exercise my rights as a band member…

some people know the history & know how bad the women where treated and even their lives threatened at times too by family members…but they were thinking of our future generations…

as Nellie walks into the Indian Agent office, 

“…I unlocked the hook, and I went in…But I went right in, and said to the Indian Agent, “Sir, I came to say goodbye”. He said, “Get this damn Indian woman out of here!” He just said that. And I said back to him: “See! You called me an Indian woman! That is what I am” He didn’t like to hear me saying that. We were expected to respect them. I guess we didn’t! And I said, 

“I’ve come here to tell you. I’ll be back to fight for my treaty rights.” That’s when he said: “Oh, no, you can’t” And I said: “I can!”…”

Disinherited Generations, Page 36
Disinherited Generations, Page 39

Disinherited Generations, Page 40


I WILL STAND WITH THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN FAIRNESS!  I am humbled to stand with you, Eric Shirt, Valerie Steinhauer, and Greg Cardinal and all our relations and friends.  We walk in a good way!

Additional Resources for Review:

Friday, December 16, 2016

ᓂᐱᒧᐦᑌᐃᐧᐣ ᐅᒪ: ᐁᓄᐦᑌᓂᐦᑕᓀᐦᐃᔭᐁᐧᔭᐣ

ᓂᐱᒧᐦᑌᐃᐧᐣ ᐅᒪ: ᐁᓄᐦᑌᓂᐦᑕᓀᐦᐃᔭᐁᐧᔭᐣ

nipimohtewin ōma: enohtenihtanehiyaweyān

Translation: This is my journey: I want to be a fluent Cree speaker

ᑕᓂᓯ  ᓂᑐᑌᒥᑎᐠ  ᐁᑲᐧ  ᓂᐊᐧᐦᑯᒪᑲᓂᑎᐠ 
ᐊᐧᐱᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ  ᓂᓀᐦᐃᔭᐃᐧᐃᐧᐦᐅᐃᐧᐣ
ᐅᓂᐦᒋᑭᐢᑲᐧᐳᐃᐧᓂᐦᐠ  ᐊᓱᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ  ᓂᑯᑕᐧᓯᐠ  ᐅᐦᒋ  ᓂᔭ
ᓂᓂᑭᐦᑲᐧᐠ  Jerry Houle  ᐁᑲᐧ  Alma Marten  ᐁᑲᐧ  ᐁᑯᓯ  ᒥᓇ Rose Houle  ᐁᓯᐦᑲᓱᒋᐠ  

tan'si nitōtem'tik ekwa niwāhkōmākan'tik
wāpimahihkan ninehiyaw'wīhowin
onihcikiskwapowinihk asotamowin nikotwāsik ohci niya
ninīkihkwak Jerry Houle ekwa Alma Marten ekwa ekosi mina Rose Houle esihkasōcik

Hello, greetings my friends and all my relations
my Cree name is White Wolf
I come from Saddle Lake Cree Nation on Treaty No. 6 Territory
My parents are Jerry Houle & Alma Marten & also Rose Houle, are their names

My assimilated name is Shannon Houle and my Indian Concentration Camp Label is #4620-2730-01
(Translation: my non nehiyaw spirit name is Shannon Houle & my Indian Reservation Indian Act No is 4620: Reserve ID - 2730: My Genocidal Number - 01: My birth placement in my family)

What is Language Revitalization and where does it start?  

However, the answers are not supposed to come from out there, the answers are supposed to come from within!

As  I reflected on these questions, what kept crossing my mind as the answer over and over again throughout this course was, "this journey of language revitalization started even before me, before I was born, it started with my grandparents and relations, even started with my relation Chief Pakan, treaty signatory at the making of Treaty No. 6 started in my blood long before my own heart beat began to beat within my mother's womb" was the only valid answer I could come up with! 

I was born in the fall of 1969.  This was a year so many in the world will remember as the year the first man walked on the moon or the year of Woodstock (hahaha) but for my relations, my people, the nehiyawak & Dené Suline, this was the year Blue Quills Indian Residential School would finally close and the genocide of our people would stop, so we thought!

Late Stanley Redcrow was employed there at this time and his words when interviewed about the closure: 
"In 1967 we had a district white school committee meeting at Lac La Biche which is about 70 miles north from here. At that time the Superintendent of Schools was Danny Daniels, he told us that Indian schools were going to be phased out." - Stanley Redcrow 1972

This was also the same year Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would announce the famous "White Paper": Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy 1969 to abolish the Indian Act and the Indian Chiefs of Alberta would later release the more famous extensive read "Red Paper" Citizens Plus, to counteract and stop it the following year.

So much was happening the year I was born, the state of Canada also passed the 1969 Language Act to make English and French the Official Languages in Canada but the original Indigenous Languages were still being attacked and forbidden...assimilation was still happening...the so called "Indian Problem" was still a problem, according to Canada; hence the White Paper.

This is the era I was born into & a journey laid out for me to take on, a responsibility I would carry for my ancestors into the is my journey, it's my ancestor's journey, it's my future generation's journey...

I grew up with the stories of the closure of Blue Quills Indian Residential School and the long sit in of our people to reclaim the RIGHT TO EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN AGAIN, OUR WAY.  I grew up hearing the stories of my late capan (great grandfather) Jonas Cardinal standing on the steps of the BQ school, as others were losing hope, and helping them find that hope again...

"In a story about Mr. Jonas Cardinal, Mike Steinhauer reflects back to the time when this 
Capan Late Jonas Cardinal

notable Elder of Saddle Lake arrived at Blue Quills to assess the situation for himself. There was friction and controversy about the take-over growing from within the assembly that stemmed from some people’s fears of failure. In a heart moving address delivered at the sit-in when protestors were being harassed by internal dissenters, Mr. Cardinal captured the attention of all present when he asked these jarring questions. “In the past 40 years, since the department has had control over our schooling, how many of us completed grade 12? If you have stand up.” No one stood up. He went on to enquire, “How many of us completed grade 8? Let’s stand up!” One person sheepishly arose from his chair. “How many of us completed grade 6?” A handful of people stood up. Then he said, “Look around. We can’t do any worse by taking over this school! We need graduates who will return to our reserves to teach our people so that we can become strong as nations.” His speech made a resonating impact which caused the people in the room to unite and stand together to assert their responsibility to determine the educational destinies of their own children and grandchildren. 
After 21 days of the sit-in, a telegram was received from Minister Jean Chretien for representatives to meet with him on Parliament Hill..." - BQ Commemoration Edition, Pg 3
As I write this,  a memory crosses my mind, and it's of my late capan Jonas holding me on his lap, I am not even 6 months, but I see him looking down at me talking to others and he is bouncing me, even then, I'm listening and learning...all I know was that feeling of safety, comfort, and pride as I remember and even after he passed away shortly after & the opening of the school in 1971, his daughter Mrs. Roseanna Houle (nohkom - my late grandmother) became one of the first Cree Teachers of the first Indian owned and operated school in Canada - Blue Quills Schools as Mr. Stanley Redcrow further discusses in an interview about implementing the Cree Language:

"Sask. Indian: Did you make any changes as far as the curriculum went and the teaching of Indian Culture?

Mr. Redcrow: Yes we made a lot of changes. There was no Indian language taught at this school. Right away I told the people to start teaching the cree language, reading and writing and also different ways of doing things to improve the Indian situation that is say, making moccasins, and bead work and all kinds of things like that. They are doing that now and the children are very happy.

Sask. Indian: I understand you have a cree teacher here, Mrs. Roseanna Houle, from nearby Saddle Lake Reserve. Perhaps you can tell us a little bit about her class and how she teaches the children.

Mr. Redcrow: She started with the alphabets and it took her a little while before she could make the kids understand..."
She taught the Syllabics and through this she taught the language but also shared the stories behind the language...about who we are and were we come from.

nohkompan (late grandmother) taught at Blue Quills from 1971 - 1979 until she passed away. In all those years teaching at the school, she would never tire of teaching nehiyawewin.  After a long day at school teaching my relations and others, she would come home to us, osisimak (her grandchildren) and teach us as she beaded, made moccasins, or cooked bannock.  She would tell us prophesies past and to be, she would tell us of Creation for all, of how we come from the land, we are the land...all this she would tell us in nehiyawewin (Cree language), including the journey of our people to reclaim their rights in teaching us, their future!

"You only have to look at a child and you will find something to love in that child, even if at first you think the child a rascal.  The children know what you think of them.  From there on, you teach from the heart and that is the only way to teach"

After 1979, language loss would become a reality for me, after the loss of nohkom because after that, no one spoke to me in nehiyawewin.  I asked my dad years later why he never taught me, he said because he didn't want me to have a hard time in the world but he was coming from years of second generation Indian Residential School indoctrination and trauma.  He didn't know and my mother only spoke english but understood some nehiyawewin and Dené Suline.  As time passed, my language identity would be put to sleep and in a bad long dream.

Celebrating 1876 Treaty No. 6
It wasn't until, I had overcame years of addictions, all types of abuses at the age of 19 years, did I start to remember nohkompan Roseanna's teachings, it was when I started to remember her telling me to be proud of being who I am, where I come from, a strong and proud people, did I start to reclaim our language and it was reawakened through our nehiyawe ceremonial ways... through daily morning smudges, prayer, and hearing the drum is when I really woke...hearing Mother Earth's heartbeat!

This was when my journey that started on a clean clear path with nohkom teaching us, then ended up in the trenches of the side ditches in darkness during my addictions, and as I walked out of onto the path again in my healing, I would reclaim my ancestral responsibilities...

This time, I had a 3 year old child in tow but my mind, my spirit, my heart, and my body were clean enough to embrace them all again, the plans laid out for me long before I was born.

Over the next course of 28 years of living, learning, searching for my identity, I would eventually finish a teaching degree from the University of Alberta: Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP), specializing in Indigenous Education Implementation, meaning I would learn how to use our Indigenous Teachings and implement in the school curriculum.  Again, I hoped to revitalize our language and culture...decolonize!  However, I would find this wasn't enough!

During my first year of teaching at an on reserve school, the Idle No More Movement began November 10th, 2012, and I attended their first Alberta Teach In on December 2, 2012 with Sylvia McAdam (co-founder), Pam Palmater, Janice Makokis, and Tanya Kappo.  It was only out of curiosity that I attended and again, my spirit was awakened...this time with a fierce drive that would waken not only my spirit but the blood of my ancestors that flowed through my whole being...

This is where that spark in my blood would become a huge flame of protecting and defending our
language and culture, who we are as Indigenous peoples... I would launch the original Idle No More website (now there is a team of volunteers) to assist in protecting our people, the land, the water and all from Canada's extermination of our people through policies, laws, legislations etc...

At the time, I was teaching and the school, I was employed, fully supported by campaign to assist Idle No More and my grade 4 students were fully involved, they learned about the Making of Treaty No. 6, the Indian Residential Schools, and I also tried my best, even though I wasn't fluent, to use syllabics in all I students had to write the date in syllabics daily etc..and we practiced broken Cree hahaha

As much as I was helping bring back the language in the classroom, Idle No More opened the doors for me to try to make more change.  In 2013, I was approached to run for council and as I put my faith in the Creator, I decided to run for Chief and Council on my reserve because I wanted to get in those rooms that make change.  I knew rallies, walks, protests, etc..were helping make change but change also had to happen in those doors the politicians were in, Federally and Provincially.  I ran and I was elected as a Band Councillor for a three (3) year term from June 2013 - June 2016.

This was also a time when Indigenous Education was under attack again and the Federal Government accepted a bill by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada call Bill C-33 that would infringe on our rights towards Language Self Determination and Sovereignty.  This bill was one of many bills Idle No More would identify as part of the Harper Gov'ts Termination Policy and once again, many Chiefs, Indigenous Peoples stood against it, especially the people within Treaty No. 6 Territory by fighting to previously approvednAlberta Education memorandum of Understanding .  More rallies and protests erupted again to protect the future of our children and the right to continue educating our children, our way:

October 7, 2013 Idle No More National Day of Action:

Burning the Bill C-33 FNEA, AB Education MOU & Rising up Treaty No. 6

As time went by we stood strong and as it looked like the Bill C-33 First Nations Education Act was going through parliament, it passed second reading but we still fought it nationally and even at home by continually rejecting the Alberta Education Memorandum of Understanding.  

Then a surprise announcement from the Prime Minister's office, Steven Harper, AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, and INAC Minister Valcourt was going to happen in Kainai Nation on Treaty No. 7 Territory.  Chiefs, the people, were all in the dark, February 7, 2014 and I had been an elected band councillor for 8 months.

I was then assigned to attend, on behalf of our nation of onihcikiskwapowin (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) as proxy Chief.  Here is my account of the event:

Shannon Houle: Personal Reaction of First Nations Education Announcement

Personal Reaction by Shannon Houle to Feb 7 2014 Harper Speech on First Nations Education

"My heart and my mind said I needed to speak up for our future generations"

This is only my personal reflection from my perspective of my experience while attending the event as Chief proxy for Saddle Lake Cree Nation.

I felt it important to record this as a personal journal or record.

Recorded: February 9, 2014

Shortly after the announcement, AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo resigned, Idle No More grassroots people started the Blue Dot Campaign, & on May 2014, the AFN Chiefs reject the bill and Ottawa is forced to kill the education bill but is it really dead?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Two Years Later and BILL C-33 FNCFNEA is not law

It has been two years later and out of all the bills the Conservative pushed through at a historically fast rate, some illegally like C-27 First Nations Financial Transparency Act and more, the First Nations Control of First Nation Education Act Bill C-33 is still the only bill that did not receive Royal Assent from the Crown's state of Canada.

However, even though it was put on "hold" in parliament it is still not removed.  "Be Aware and Beware" former Conservatives said, "we will work with willing partners..." - translation: we will do divide and conquer and get the First Nations to break treaty by entering into other agreement without ever honouring those Internationally Recognized Sovereign to Sovereign Treaties made with the Crown and the Indigenous Nations!


We need to be diligent and careful because this month, Canada's newest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the son of late PM Pierre Trudeau, who introduced the 1969 White Paper, just announced a proposed Indigenous Language this a repeat and regurgitation of Bill C-33 or will this be a real Language Act with Indigenous Self Determination & Sovereignty???

At the end of the day, leaders and the people need to maintain protecting and defending who we are and our language is KEY, it is key to who we are, the laws, our education system, our justice, our social structures, all who we are is embedded in our language.

Even though, I was one (1) speck with so many others, in the whole story of defending, protecting, and journeying to maintain the right to revitalize our language, I also REMEMBERED, it had to start with me like I stated in the beginning...


 ... the answers are not supposed to come from out there, the answers are supposed to come from within!

..."this journey of language revitalization started even before me, before I was born, it started with my grandparents and relations, even started with my relation Chief Pakan, treaty signatory at the making of Treaty No. 6 started in my blood long before my own heart beat began to beat within my mother's womb"...

This is why I returned to the place my ancestors fought so hard to reclaim the right to educate their future, our way...therefore, I am back in school, at UNBQ learning and honing my skills to continue protecting and revitalizing nehiyawewin as a Language Learner and Master's student in Indigenous Languages.

Dianne Brown-Green Must feel strange
LikeReply17 hrs

Shannon M Houle Actually, it is hopeful because I draw on the strength of my grandparents and parents for being warriors and surviving the school so I can live. I was also born the same year it closed as a indian residential school and my family and many other family stood up to reclaim the right to educate their children, this was the result. So after a long sit in protest & meeting with the Prime Minister, this became the 1st Indian owned and operated school in Canada. It has been decolonizing many of us for over 45 years now, longer than it was opened as an is now a University. When you walk in it, the halls smell like sweetgrass or sage and many times during class you hear drumming, laughter, and many smiles as you walk the relations are here & we go to school with many non Indigenous ppl too.

I have to succeed so my family's challenges & triumps have justice...

Ya, that is the way I look at it, I draw on the strength of my relations and ancestors...even all those who lost their lives here, need justice, we are their future & we need to succeed...must honour them...we need to reclaim who we are, for them too - it's the 7 generation teachings 💖🖒

LikeReply416 hrsEdited
Dianne Brown-Green You are awesome , I'm sure the ones from the past are watching and perhaps proud of the positive things going on.
UnlikeReply113 hrs
Shannon M Houle I hope so, I miss them
LikeReply13 hrs

UNBQ Language Concert...we are practicing and learning

The Future they talked about in 1969, is us...we need to continue this journey...resurgence of US ~ UNITY!

ᐁᓄᐦᑌᓀᐦᐃᔭᐁᐧᔭᐣ  ᐁᑲᐧ  ᐁᓄᐦᑌᑭᐢᑭᓄᐦᐊᒪᐊᐧᑭᐠ  ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐁᐧᐃᐧᐣ  ᓂᑕᐊᐧᓯᒥᓴᐠ  ᓄᓯᓯᒪᐠ  ᐁᑲᐧ  ᓂᑕᓂᐢᑯᑕᐸᓇᐠ  ᐸᐱᒪᑎᓯᔭᓂ

enohtenehiyaweyan ekwa enohtekiskinohamawakik nehiyawewin nitawasimisak nosisimak ekwa nitāniskotāpānak papimatisiyani

I want to learn to speak Cree and I want to teach my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren if I am still in this world

I do all this for them, nosisimak (my grandchildren) & the ones not born yet

ᓂᐱᒧᐦᑌᐃᐧᐣ  ᐅᒪ
nipimohtewin ōma

This is OUR journey... it's OUR ancestor's journey, it's OUR future generation's journey!

Ekosi Maka

This is my hopes and dreams for my nation

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