Archive for November, 2011

Aboriginal Education and Habitat for Humanity

AFN Chief Shawn Atleo just announced a partnership with Habitat for Humanity  to work towards building decent, affordable housing in aboriginal communities across Canada. The goal here should not be just housing but also construction training and housing maintenance  for aboriginal youth. One without the other is just a continuation of the same old paternalistic dependency joke that has been going on for over a century.

For every house built there should be a core of aboriginal youth who emerge more knowledgeable and capable in housing construction and maintainance so that they can continue this work when Habitat has moved on to other more pressing projects. .

Kindle Store and TWS Reading Series

Generating buzz about self-published titles is what it’s all about and in view of this, The Kindle Store ebook price of Blue Saltwater is now 0.99 US. As well, I have been invited to be Guest Reader at Simon Fraser University’s TWS Reading Series on December 8 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway at Kingsway in Vancouver, British Columbia. Everyone is welcome.

Aboriginal Education and the Power of Parents

Recent studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have concluded that parental involvement in their children’s education is the single most important factor in predicting educational success.

The Assembly of First Nations along with many other Canadian Aboriginal organizations continue to harp on increased government funding as the only answer to the appalling aboriginal drop-out rates from high school. Certainly there is no substitute for good teachers and decent educational facilities but regardless of a family’s socioeconomic background the results are crystal clear; parental involvement such as reading to their young children on a regular basis, getting them to school on time, rested and fed, and rewarding their efforts, are the most important determinants for future success in school and in life beyond. Money alone is not the answer. The ball is in your court mom and dad.

Winnipeg Aboriginal Fim Festival

For anyone living near Winnipeg, November 16-20 figures to be an exciting and informative time with the annual exposition of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. (  This year’s keynote speaker is Mr. Chris Eyre who directed the film Smoke Signals starring Adam Beach. The award winning screenplay for this film was done by aboriginal author Sherman Alexie based upon his collection of short stories entitled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. See for more information.

Blue and Sarah

The Oscar Season has begun and one of the movies getting buzz this year is the WW II holocaust drama, Sarah’s Key. . This is another story about Nazi’s killing Jews but what makes it unique is that it is told through the eyes of a young Jewish girl, depicting what happened in a more compelling way than what the usual historical and journalistic accounts are capable of presenting.

Blue Saltwater was written with the same goal in mind; to relate the truth about the trauma experienced by countless aboriginal kids within the Indian Residential School System through the eyes of one teenage boy, Blue Saltwater, taking readers on an emotional journey which enhances their ourstanding of what really happened. A movie based upon this book will someday inform an even broader audience. .

Aboriginal Smoke Shops and Health Responsibilities

The Great Buffalo Nation Dakota, an alliance of 10 Dakota Nations in the Prairie Provinces has decided to flout Canadian tobacco control regulations by opening up a smoke shop and VLT gaming centre that defies Manitoba laws regarding tobacco sales. The Dakota say they just want to exercise their “sovereignty rights” but the real plan is to make easy money by selling cheap smokes and ripping off the rest of their customers’ money with the gambling.

Although the combined voices of the tobacco industry and Canadian law authorities have urged the Manitoba government to crack down on this operation, we haven’t heard a word from the Assembly of First Nations on this issue.

If Chief Shawn Atleo and the Assembly’s leaders are serious about taking full responsiblity for aboriginal health care through organizations like the newly established BC Aboriginal Health Authority (See blog October 14,2011, Aboriginal Education and BC Health Authority), they must immediately take the lead in standing against this initiative which will promote smoking and subsequent health problems especially among aboriginal youth in the area. If this challenge isn’t met head on by Chief Atleo and his executive team, how confident can Canadian taxpayers be that their hard earned dollars will be able to effectively administered to promote positive aboriginal health outcomes in the future.

Aboriginal Education and Blue Saltwater Kindle Edition

Blue Saltwater is now available at the Kindle Store for $3.99. What an affordable way for educators to provide their students with an emotional no-holds barred insight into the Canadian Indian Residential School System that they will never get by reading a boring documentary edition about this subject. I would love to participate if any students or educators out there want to start a dialogue or book club on this story.