Back in my first year of post-secondary education at The University of Manitoba I was a lowly Arts student. People make fun of Arts degrees all the time. But when I think of all of my years in University, that first year was the richest one for me in the category of uncovering my true passions. I was taking courses from all over the map. When I registered for classes that summer, I simply thought, "what am I interested in?" and went with it.
And so I found myself sitting in Professor Emma LaRocque's Native Studies course on my first day of class. Her lectures were interesting and insightful, but it was one book on the required reading list that captured me. The Dispossessed, by Globe and Mail reporter, Geoffrey York still has a place of honor on my increasingly full book shelf. Reading it changed me. It changed the way I saw First Nations people and how I understood their story.
I tell you this, because I want you to understand that part of the reason I so passionately care about the situation in Attawapiskat, is rooted in the days I sat in that huge lecture hall on the U of M campus listening to Emma LaRocque's narrative, and furiously turning the pages of The Dispossessed in my south-end apartment.
There is something more that is fueling my passion and creating more roots this week. CBC radio and television is beginning their series called "8th Fire" - exploring First Nations people in Canada in a way they haven't before. It's a chance for you to listen and watch and connect with First Nations people who are telling their story.
This morning on The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti hosted a show called "Father's without Father's - Aboriginal Men in Canada". The show was recorded in a "town-hall" style forum in Whitehorse, Yukon last night. It was such a compelling, honest conversation, and simply needs to be listened to. To make it easy for you, you can listen to the podcast of the show here.
CBC television begins its 4 part Doc Zone series "8th Fire" tonight, hosted by CBC Manitoba reporter Wab Kinew. I developed enormous respect for Wab after his coverage of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in which he told the personal story of his own family's experience with residential schools.
I can't make you listen, or watch. And just simply watching or listening won't change anything.
Hearing the stories will.
I hope you'll be hearing them along with me.
I plan to let the roots of passion go a little further down.