For the second year McGill University has held an event called Aboriginal Awareness Week,"designed to increase awareness at McGill about Aboriginal peoples in Canada."The event aims par-
ticularly at the university community,especially its students, academics, and employees who belong to some of the various first nations of this country. However, most of these activities were also open to the public at large. Aboriginal Awareness Week is organized by the Aboriginal Sustainability Project, which in turn "seeks to develop a broad-based educational campaign aiming to provide Aboriginal-specific programming and opportunities for bridge-building among diverse members of the McGill community". The opening event featured a ceremonial meeting on September 24 in which there was an opening prayer conducted by Elma Moses who is also a McGill professor, Michael Loft, also an instructor at McGill addressed the audience as well as representatives from various groups involved with first nation students on campus. After the ceremony a traditional corn soup and bannock (indigenous bread) were served. The event this year took place from the 24th to the 28th of September featuring speakers from a variety of places and backgrounds.They were, Aboriginal American comedian Ryan McMahon whose talk was titled "Two Moccasins, Two Worlds;"
Traditional corn soup and bannock at the end of the opening ceremony
Celebrating those who were here first
Ghislain Picard an Innu from the community of Pessamit who spoke about First Nations in Quebec Today; wellknown activist, fine arts graduate and art teacher Ellen Gabriel who addressed the issue of International Indigenous Rights; Clément Charier, president of the Métis National Council who addressed the fight of that nation for recognition;Artist JeffThomas (Iroquois,Six Nations) who discussed his photographic series "The Conversation, and Rebinding the North American Indian," and his curatorial project "Where Are the Children: Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools in relation to the Edward Curtis's photographic project;" Pamela Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern
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New Brunswick whose topic was"Beyond Blood:Rethinking Indigenous Identity"; and Jonathan Rudin from Aboriginal Legal Services ofToronto, who spoke on a topic whose title was "Pushing Open the Gates of Justice: Making the Gladue and Ipeelee Decisions a Reality for Aboriginal Offenders." Besides the conferences, Aboriginal Awareness Week also featured artistic and social events, such as a workshop on how to make a Dreamcatcher, one of the most traditional aboriginal crafts,a session on aboriginal stories held at the McCord Museum, and the Quebec premiere of the play "Where the Blood Mixes" by Kevin Loring, and directed by Lib Spry. Playwright Loring won the 2009 Governor General's Literary Ward for this work which focuses on the legacy left behind after Aboriginal children were taken from their families, abused and assaulted in Residential Schools. The film "The Creators Game: The Search for Gold and the Fight for Nationhood" by Mohawk director Candace Maracle was also shown. This documentary covers the story of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team which chose to forfeit the World Championship when they were denied entry into England because of their Haudenosaunee passports. Aboriginal Awareness Week ended with a social gathering on Friday at the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal. Comment on this article at: www.westendtimes.ca