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By Mark Pavilons
You can't talk about Canada without including our Indigenous people.
A CBC/Radio-Canada yearbook has brought some fascinating stories to the forefront.
To mark the country's 150th, CBC launched “What's Your Story? – A Canada 2017 Yearbook.” It's a collection of over 150 stories, perspectives and photographs that create a fascinating snapshot of the people, places, things and events that tell a story of who we are now and where we are headed together as a nation.
What's equally important is the voice given to some very fundamental aboriginal issues, something Schomberg's Sarain Fox is passionate about.
Fox is Anishinaabe Ojibwe, originally from Batchewana First Nation on Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie. Raised in the traditional manner within the Midewiwin Lodge, Fox is a bastion of hope, an outspoken champion for weaving a new mosaic of Canadian culture.
Often called an activist and a “warrior,” Fox refers to herself as anishinaabekwe, or “Woman of the People.” She's that and more. Fox is an actor, dancer, choreographer and fashion designer. First and foremost, she's a protector of her culture, which admittedly, is on the brink of fading away, unless we all act together and start reading a brand new script from the same page.
While Canadian pride was in the forefront during our 150th anniversary, Fox is often critical of the past, one that is, unfortunately, riddled with guilt and shame. She points out the Indigenous history preceeds those 150 years and First Nations voices should lead and speak for the country. That's not to say others should be silent, but those Indigenous voices are integral in portraying an authentic Canada and can help us all learn how to protect our land.
In terms of Canada 150, Fox said she feels Indigenous people were “not invited in a proper way to honour our truth and to honour the contributions that we've made. I felt so left out of the narrative, and that was extremely painful.”
There's no need for Canada's people to be at odds. We have to become good friends and have this earnest conversation about how to take our cultural past and meld it with our future. In order to cement this friendship between European-Canadians and Indigenous people we have to acknowledge the truth and build lasting connections.
Our nation has gone through years of discussions on the residential school issue. Despite this dark part of our history, it resulted in open and frank discussions and awareness on both sides. These journeys of discovery are “marvellous” if you want to explore them. Currently, Fox is pushing for “reconcili-action.”
In the yearbook, Fox promotes Indigenous innovation. Truly Indigenous-made art and products and their distribution channels have the ability to connect Indigenous people with the world. There is a lot of potential in expanding Indigenous business and a lot to be proud of. It is important for buyers to distinguish between Indigenous art and Indigenous manufacturing. Both have potential grow globally and to support Indigenous people making an impact in their local communities. I buy Indigenous art from local Indigenous crafters and my Indigenous products from Indigenous companies who give back.
Fox just wrapped up filming a new series called Future History. This “gem” is about the reclamation of Indigenous knowledge and the rematriation of their ways through all kinds of avenues – arts, dance, policy, treaties, children and food. Preserving native identity is key.
Fox hosted “Rise,” an eight-hour documentary shown on Viceland. In the show, they travelled to Indigenous communities across the Americas to meet people protecting their homelands and rising up against colonization.
Rise chronicled several different movements of resistance by indigenous people, including the current Standing Rock protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Apache Stronghold protesting the handover of Oak Flat to the Rio Tinto mining company in 2015.
“I think people can fall into a really linear thinking when they think about Indigenous issues. And what we're trying to showcase is that it's not just one thing, it's actually the fabric that this country is made of, that Indigenous people are interwoven with it.”
Fox explains that, “through film and acting my goal is to tell the stories that allow us to relearn our self's as aboriginal people.” Through her pursuit of recognition as a name in the film industry, Sarain hopes to open new doors and opportunities for aboriginal youths.
Fox has worked on several major film and TV projects as well as independent projects.
Fox has also been studying, practicing and performing as a professional dancer for the past 10 years. She is currently touring with Xara Choral Choir as the lead solo dancer performing the heart-wrenching Canadian book Fatty Legs (a true story of the injustices of residential schools written by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton).
Fox said she's excited to be part of this “revolution.” You can count on her to always be on board to make a difference!
This limited edition yearbook is available to the public at Indigo, Chapters, Coles and independent booksellers for $29.99. A downloadable, digital version will also be available for free to all Canadians in early December 2017.
For more on Fox herself, visit http://sarainfox.com
Excerpt: You can’t talk about Canada without including our Indigenous people. A CBC/Radio-Canada yearbook has brought some fascinating stories to the forefront. To mark the country’s 150th, CBC launched “What’s Your Story? – A Canada 2017 Yearbook.” It’s a collection of over 150 stories, perspectives and photographs that create a fascinating snapshot of the people, places, things and events that tell a story of who we are now and where we are headed together as a nation.
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