THIS MONTH FROM THE COMMUNITY CONNECTOR
What has Kate Boyer been up to this month…
Of Outsiders and Aliens
May 12th, 2021
(my own photograph)
Maybe it is just me, but lately, all I want to do is sit outside in the sun and read.
This year, for some reason, I quickly got tired of my usual summer reads and have been on the hunt for stories that not only capture my imagination but also inspire reflection.
One of my favorite stories I have read so far that does both of these things is a story entitled Aliens written by Richard Van Camp.
In my opinion, there are two main aspects of this story that make it extremely interesting and unique.
Firstly, it uses a theme called “Indigenous Futurism”, a term coined by Portland State University professor Dr. Grace Dillion. In a nutshell, it combines science fiction with Indigenous ways of knowing to imagine a future where these two themes coincide. In Aliens, Van Camp tells the story of two individuals living in a world where aliens have come to earth. The twist is that they aren’t there to dominate the world or exterminate the human race. They are there to aid us rather than destroy us.
The other thing that I love about this narrative is that it tells the story of an LGBTQ2S+ individual with a theme of acceptance rather than one of othering. While this might not seem so unusual it is in fact more common for stories to talk about othering and differences rather than community and acceptance.
If you would like to know more about Indigenous Futurism in art and other areas, check out this interview/article with artist Tsista Kennedy here.
The story itself can be found in the book Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and two-spirit sci-fi anthology.
Give Aliens a read! I hope you love it as much as I did.
See you next month!
Yours truly… Kate
(warning: this story has some adult themes)
Forgotten People: A Metis History
April 19th, 2021 (so sorry)
Picture from Amazon.ca
Well, it’s officially happened.
I am late getting this article out.
As some of you are likely aware, it is finals month so I have been spending most of my time working hard (or hardly working rather).
And so, because of all that… erm… studying, I completely forgot to publish this article.
Anyway! On with the show!
Today I have yet another book recommendation.
That’s right… another one.
This book happens to be quite close to my heart as it talks about the history of the Metis people.
So, without further adieu, this month’s book recommendation is The North West is Our Mother by Jean Teillet.
What is so special about this book you may ask? Well, it tells a comprehensive history of the Metis peoples in a way that does not put you to sleep.
That’s really all I have to say for you to know this book is a triumph.
But seriously though, learning about the history of the Metis people is extremely important, and here is why. Metis people have often been thought of as not a real or distinct people because they originated from the mixing of two different cultures. Often they have been treated as second-class citizens by both the settler population and the First Nations population. To add to this, our people have often been left out of discussions involving historical events that they were present at but no one acknowledges. These events include things like residential schools, the sixties scoop, and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and girls. The only way for these narratives to be corrected is to educate others on the history of the Metis so the struggles of our people (as well as the victories) will not be forgotten.
I highly encourage you, dear listener, to check out Jean Teillet’s book.
As history books go, it is far the best that I have ever read (and that is saying something considering I am in university).
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Budget Sask Wanderer
Of Literature and Queens
March 18th, 2021
(Picture from CBC.ca)
Sorry this article is a bit late coming out; I’ve been having some computer trouble lately.
Well… SPRING IS HERE!!!
Oh no… might have said that a bit too loud…
Shhhhhhhh. Spring is here.
Don’t want the gods of winter to get mad again.
In this article, I will be continuing with my Indigenous authors series because there are so many good ones that no one knows about!
The book I’m going to be talking about this time is called “Kiss of the Fur Queen” by Tomson Highway.
I had the opportunity to read this book in my Indigenous literature class at university.
I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I knew the main characters went to residential school at some point in the novel and I was worried it would be a really sad story that focused on the horrors of an individual’s life rather than the whole picture. Boy was I wrong!
Tomson Highway is an incredible author and “Kiss of the Fur Queen” is a perfect example of his talent. He seamlessly crafts a story that starts out in a traditional storytelling style, changes to a more classic literature model and back again.
The story itself is about two Cree brothers from the north and their journeys of self-discovery and growth. (Honestly, I have the hugest crush on Gabriel… Just saying… that guy would be a tall glass of water in real life).
Something I found interesting about the novel, that I didn’t know about until after I read it, was that many of the experiences Gabriel and Jeremiah have in their lives echo those Highway himself experienced. His connection to the piano for instance or his father being a caribou hunter and dog sledder. He also has quite a large body of work in the performing arts which lends itself well to the subject matter discussed in the story.
If you would like to read more about Tomson Highway I really suggest taking a look at his website under the biography section. I found it quite entertaining to read, unlike most biographies.
I won’t say too much more because the mysteries of this book are just as important as the revelations but I for sure would recommend this novel to pretty much anybody.
So, in conclusion, check out your local library or bookstore and crack open a copy! It’s so worth it!
Warning: since the book deals with these characters’ whole lives there are some scenes that may be upsetting to some. These include Sexual assault, residential schools, substance abuse, death, illness, etc. If any of these things hold trauma for you personally I would exercise caution while reading because Highway paints very vivid pictures through expressive sentences and that could be triggering for some folks.
How To REtell a Story
February 18th, 2021
Picture from: goodreads.com
Well, it’s February! Seems hard to believe that in three months we will be enjoying the first whispers of spring. As it is now it feels like spring might miss us entirely! Luckily the earth is the most unpredictable yet reliable of mothers. She always has a way of making us smile again.
I was struggling to come up with something to write about for this week’s article when it hit me! “Kate!!” I said, smacking myself on the forehead. “You are in an Indigenous literature class! All you do is read amazing books by Indigenous authors!”
So, in this article, I will share with you a book I just recently read that really stood out to me both in style and in subject matter.
Without further ado…
THIS PLACE: 150 Years Retold (a review)
The history of Indigenous peoples has been a topic widely overlooked by scholars and everyday folk all across Canada for many years. THIS PLACE: 150 Year Retold sets out to change this by using colourful storytelling and compelling illustrations to retell the history of Indigenous peoples on this land.
I gotta tell you when I first heard of this book I was skeptical. As an Indigenous person, I have seen many so-called “historical retellings” recount the same Indigenous stories over and over again and still never tell the stories that were important to my people (the Metis). Sometimes it seems that the only Indigenous history taught in mainstream settings is that of indigenous peoples interactions with settler populations and not about the rich histories and experiences of Indigenous peoples themselves. Well, THIS PLACE not only corrects common misconceptions about the past, it also tells stories of the people and cultures time forgot.
I really REALLY loved this book. The combination of compelling stories coupled with gorgeous illustrations helped me connect with the characters in a much deeper way than I ever had been able to in the past. To me, this book was definitely a 10/10.
Here are a few places I’ve seen it for sale If you would like to get your own copy:
- Better Good (Saskatoon)
- Coles/Indigo (Saskatoon)
I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
Community Connector signing off…
Love Your Neighbour
January 14th, 2021
(my own artwork)
Well, we’ve lived through the strangely violent blizzard of 2021! I was scrolling through facebook last night and saw lots of people in our community offering to rescue anyone who might be stuck in their vehicle and personally bring them back to town by snowmobile. This is just one example of why I love living here! Lots of people say “Oh, Canadians are so polite!” and things like that, but they very rarely grasp what it truly means to live in a small town in Canada, especially one so lovely as Rosthern. It means helping each other out, not just because you can, but because we are neighbours, we are friends, and we are human beings who understand the struggles that occasionally come into each other’s lives.
In the Metis communities of old, the same commitment to service that has held this town together for generations also brought peace and harmony to my ancestors. In fact, the concept of community and what it meant to be someone’s neighbour was compared to the inner workings of a close family. The unspoken rule was: if you can share then share, and if you can help then help. One’s neighbours were considered more than just people living close by, they were considered family, and when your family is in need you help them, without question. These teachings still hold true for Metis people today, as they do in many other communities.
In the Mennonite community, for example, service and kindness are very important elements to a life lived with purpose (as many of you know). While the Metis community and the Mennonite community are very different in many ways, there are certain beliefs that bridge the gap between us. I had the opportunity to attend RJC during my high school years and was very surprised at how many similarities there were between their beliefs and mine. Maybe if more communities had the opportunity to discuss their similarities rather than their differences peace would finally begin to outweigh conflict in this world.
I don’t really have an activity for you to do this month. I think with all that’s been going on lately it is hectic enough for everyone to just live their normal lives. The only thing I will suggest to you is this: for this month, really embrace what it means to be part of this community. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time or bake some cookies for your neighbour or just go for a walk and bask in the comfort of knowing that you have a glorious gang of people watching out for you.
So now, go forth and enjoy the community we are blessed with!
Happy (Almost) New Year!
December 17, 2020
Well, here we are with just 8 days till Christmas.
Every year I am surprised at how fast the holidays come upon us and this year was no different. While 2020 felt like a marathon rather than a sprint, Christmas still seems to have kept its time-warping abilities.
Even though the Christmas season is supposed to embody all things joyous and bright, I find it a strangely melancholy holiday. This might be due, in part, to the weather and lack of daylight or maybe even to the strain my bank account feels every year. although, I suspect the real source of the “Christmas Blues” (as I like to call them) is all the expectations that surround Christmas.
For example, I know I am supposed to feel happy during this time of year so when I am not happy I feel like a failure, or like I am missing something wonderful that everyone else seems to be experiencing. The buying of Christmas presents and the many family gatherings usually doesn’t help as they also have their own sets of expectations and moral codes.
While I know how I usually feel during the holidays, this year promises to be a complete surprise as I personally have never had a Christmas like it. It’s fair to say that many of our old traditions and plans may need a revamp as in-person contact may not be possible this year.
While a lot of things about this year have come across as negative, I think a reset such as COVID gives us the opportunity to get out of the ruts we find ourselves in and finally listen to our hearts rather than the expectations of others.
In light of this year’s new feel, I thought I would share with you what a traditional Metis holiday looks like so you could try and recreate it for yourself! I’ve even compiled a few videos and some music suggestions that can help you celebrate your very own Metis holiday if you so choose. If we have to change our ways this year anyway, we might as well add in a little bit of spice and try out some new traditions.
How We ‘Get Jiggy with It’ for the Holidays
Jigging is a traditional Metis Dance that was created by combining Scottish dances and traditional indigenous dances back when the Metis nation was in its infancy. Since Metis people love to celebrate and have a good time it is not surprising that we love a good dance as it gives us an excuse to kick up our heels and really let loose. I’ve been jigging since I was a very little girl and to this day I can still remember dancing in a crowd of distant cousins, laughing and screaming as the fiddlers played faster and faster.
While many Metis people (me included) show off their fancy steps at competitions and other large events, there is no better place to portray your talent than at a Metis house party, especially the one usually held on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s (for us at least) is arguably a bigger event than Christmas because when we get together and party on New Years’ we are celebrating both holidays in one. It is a chance for everyone to celebrate the year that has passed and ring in the new one with a positive attitude and the people we love.
A House party usually goes as follows:
- Lots of food (including bannock) is prepared in advance of the party as we seriously love to eat.
- All the furniture is cleared out of the living room in order to make room for the dancing and visiting.
- Once the guests arrive, the party officially begins.
- After some snacking and catching up on recent news, instruments are pulled out and the dancing commences.
- As the evening wears on, songs change from slow to fast and back again, creating a nice mix of music so people can do different dances (couples dancing, jigging, reels…)
- At the end of the evening, some people might stay over and some might go home, but usually, everyone helps with the clean up at the end of the evening.
These parties are more than just an excuse to have a good time. They also provide a place for people in the community to connect with one another and share their talents no matter their age. If you think about it, dancing and singing are the greatest connectors of all. Did you know when people sing or dance together their hearts actually beat in unison?! I know… Pretty crazy, right?
So, in the spirit of connection and new beginnings, I invite you to throw your very own Metis New Year’s Celebration!
Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare some of your or your family’s favourite food. We usually eat bannock (recipe in my previous post) but it can be anything. The most important thing is that it brings you comfort, good memories, or warm fuzzy feelings. (These house parties also usually hold a great selection of homemade wine but if you have kids or aren’t into alcohol, you can always substitute with sparkling cider).
- Clear some room for dancing. As I have said, dancing is HUGELY important to Metis people. So, move some furniture if you have to and put on your dancing shoes.
- Next, Get the lighting right!! I know this is kinda picky, but if you are able to turn off the overhead lights and just use lamps and maybe some string lights it can give such a lovely change from harsh living room lighting.
- Look at some jigging tutorials. Even though I am, in fact, a jigging instructor, I am unable to film a good demo video right now as it is -23 C outside and I don’t have enough space in my house to get a good angle for you to see what’s going on. So, in lew of this, I have attached a link to a great free jigging lesson. P.S. This is a great video for kids as well.
- Time to put on some music and get the party started! Now that all the preparations have been made, it’s time to bust out your newly learned fancy steps and enjoy the evening. Here are some youtube links to some awesome fiddle music including the Red River Jig. Alternatively, If you have apple music or Spotify, you can look up the “Red River Jig” by Sierra Noble, Johnny Arcand, or Arvel Bird. Another awesome song performed by Sierra Noble is “Big Bear” (one of my personal favourites because of its mysterious vibes), in fact, her whole album is amazing. (Music links: here, here, and here.)
- Extras: here is an example of professional Jigging as well.And if you want to help your kids learn more about this holiday and jigging, you can always go to the library and get out the book “Fiddle Dancer” by Anne Patton and Wilfred Burton.
Don’t Panic, Eat Bannock!!
November 19, 2020
Another day another article about stuff I do. This day in particular I focus on one of the greatest things on this planet: FOOD!
Some of my earliest memories involve food, which I’m sure is also true for many of you. Contrary to popular belief, food is not just a way to sustain energy, it also sustains our very soul by connecting us to our ancestors and our individual histories while also connecting us with each other.
For Indigenous peoples and especially Métis people, bannock (a type of bread similar to a biscuit or a fry bread) holds a special place in our history as well as in our hearts (and our stomachs :)). When I was just knee-high-to-a-grasshopper I remember my Mama making bannock for me and my Papa (Mama and Papa translate to Mom and Dad in the dialect of Michif my father’s family spoke). We loved to eat it with a generous helping of butter and either saskatoon berry or strawberry jam with a large cup of Red Rose tea on the side.
If this description has your mouth watering, get ready because a chef based in saskatoon is using bannock as a vehicle to educate people about indigenous culture as well as creating innovative ways to serve this traditional dish. Chef Rachel Eyahpaise (with ties to the Sakimay First Nation on treaty 4 territory) is the owner and chef at ‘Bannock Express’ in Saskatoon. A quick peek at her restaurant’s Facebook page had me craving things I didn’t even know existed, all with a healthy serving of delicious homestyle bannock.
If you would like to hear more about chef Rachel and her business you can pay Bannock Express a visit at 312 Avenue B S, Saskatoon. They are open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 9 pm and on the weekend from 11 am to 7 pm.
Click Here to read a fabulous interview with Chef Rachel when she was featured in Canada’s Tastemaker series on the Food Bloggers of Canada website (which is also where I got the information from this article). I have also attached a bannock recipe similar to the one my family uses if any of you guys, gals, and non-binary pals would like to give it a try at home. With Covid and all the stress of the winter season, there is nothing better than grounding yourself with a little home cooking.
I hope all y’all give it a try!
Community Connector signing off.
Bannock (La Galet)
- 6 cups flour
- 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- ¾ cup melted butter, oil, or lard (Choose one of these)
- 1 egg beaten
- Mix all dry ingredients together
- Mix all wet ingredients together
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into it
- Mix with a fork until stiff
- Dump onto a floured surface and knead until no longer sticky (be careful not to over kneed otherwise the bannock will be tough)
- Hand press until one inch thick, dust with flour and flip if it has become sticky
- Place on a baking sheet and poke with a fork
- Bake 25-30 min until lightly brown on the bottom, flip, and then continue to bake until both sides are golden
- Serve with jam and tea and enjoy!
Costume with Care
October 15, 2020
The Halloween season is upon us. It feels like summer lasted for about 35 seconds but here we are in the heart of fall. Pumpkins, ghosts, and goblins are beginning to take over stores all over the place and we are again faced with an age-old problem: cultural appropriation. You might not think that cultural appropriation has anything to do with the fun-filled candy crazed holiday we all know and love but let me assure you, it comes up again and again. Every year thousands of costumes are bought and sold and unfortunately many of them are different orientations of the “Indian princess” trope.
Throughout history this trope has been used over and over again as a costume or a bit of fun as if it’s no big deal… like it means nothing. This carelessness is extremely harmful to Indigenous people because it portrays us as nothing more than a character, or something else that doesn’t exist. So this year please be kind and choose a costume that doesn’t harm anyone and only brings joy.
If you would like to read more, here is an artical from CBC News. Eventhough its from 2018, it still illustrate the problem that continues today.
There are so many fun costumes ideas out there, so I thought I’d attach a couple of pictures for inspiration. Enjoy!
You could be a Jelly Belly bag…
Or a corn cob…
Or maybe that guy from Ratatouille!
Pictures from Pintrest.com, Popsugar.com, and deMilked.com
Fall into an Unexpected Adventure
October 7, 2020
Hey communities in need of connection! It’s me, the tame adventurer. I may not be trekking through rainforests or crossing deserts (desserts on the other hand I am well versed in) but I do have a habit of getting out into the world and finding some interesting and fun things to occupy your time. This month I’ve really been loving the cozy fall feels and have enjoyed getting out and exploring the beautiful natural landscape we are blessed with. As a Métis person, I feel a deep connection with the land we occupy and the plants we share the space with. Mother Earth has taught me so much about how to live and how to sit back and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. So this time, to celebrate her beauty and wisdom, I thought I’d try something a bit different and film one of my adventures. Click here to check out how it went and feel free to email me with any questions you might have or ideas for more adventures!
A Walk By the River
September 12, 2020
Photo from thestarphoenix.com
As many of you know, the river has been a major resource for First Nations and Métis People throughout history. It has been used as a transportation system, a guide, a water resource (obviously), and a healer. As summer is slowly giving way into fall, appreciate the beauty of this sacred element while taking a calming walk along its banks.
River landing in Saskatoon has always held a special place in my heart because of its close proximity to the south Saskatchewan River. I like to start my walk at Broadway Bridge and continue beside the river all the way down to just past the old Farmer’s Market building.
On your adventure by the water, here are a couple of things to look out for:
River Landing Tree Grates
(I got this information from saskhistoryonline.ca by the way)
Photo from metalshapes.ca
Along the riverbank, there are art pieces that have such a functional purpose they can sometimes go unnoticed. The River Landing tree grates were created by urban designers in partnership with local Indigenous elders to create a narrative that focuses on four indigenous themes: Home, storytelling, play, and ceremony. Some of the designs you can expect to see are Bison Grate, Feast Grate, Grass Dance Grate, Hoop Grate, Horse Grate, String Games Grate, Tipi Exterior Grate, and Tipi Interior Grate.
Photo from metalshapes.ca
You can learn more about these tree grates here: https://thesheaf.com/2009/10/20/aboriginal-urban-design/
The Comming Spring
Photo from eaglefeathernews.com
Right near the end of your journey, you will find a very impactful public art piece. According to Eagle Feather News “The Comming Spring” was created in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #79, which is “educating and creating a sense of shared awakening”. If there is a slight breeze you can hear the haunting sound of the chimes on the top of the sculpture. I encourage you to take a minute to sit in silence in the grass and just listen to the sound of the wind and the chimes. If you feel moved to, offer some Tabacco as a gift of thanks to the life-giving river, or pick up some of the garbage that is always blowing around down there. Say thank you to the water for sustaining us and grounding us. I believe that everything lives and in turn gives life, so to continue the cycle it is important to give in order to receive.
You can read about “The Comming Spring” at:https://www.eaglefeathernews.com/arts/the-coming-spring-reconciliation-commemorative-artwork-installed-in-victoria-park#:~:text=%E2%80%9CThe%20Coming%20Spring%2C%E2%80%9D%20by,a%20sense%20of%20shared%20awakening.
The Bog Blog
August 13, 2020
While this summer heatwave continues (seriously, it’s so hot my cat stole my fan!) it’s great to take advantage of the beautiful Canadian landscape during our short summer season. One way to do this is by visiting Boundary Bog inPrinceAlbert National Park for a much-needed photography adventure. Bust out your camera and capture the natural beauty of the place we call home. As of now, Metis citizens will be able to get into national parks in Saskatchewan for free! As a Metis citizen myself this is super exciting because I love walking through the landscapes my ancestors have walked for many years. Bring your friends, bring your family, or just bring a snack and enjoy some amazing and delicate northern plant life.
For more information on the trail and how to get there visit pc.gc.ca and if you want more information about free access to national parks for Metis Citizens, check out this link. Here are some photos I took when MaTayOo (my boyfriend) and I walked the trail this past week:
Some Art to Light Up Your Day
Hello other budget Saskatchewanderers! As I’ve mosied around Saskatoon in the last few
days, I’ve noticed some temporary art exhibits that are definitely worth the search. In recent years, Cree syllabics written in neon letters have been popping up across the city. According to Eagle Feather News and CBC News, these works of art have been created collaboratively by Indigenous and Settler artists to showcase the beauty and tradition of the Cree language. The next time you are in the city, consider going for a syllabics scavenger hunt which will take you to some of my favourite spots in Saskatoon. For the locations of these art pieces and translations of them, check out:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/city-of-berries-could-become-permanent-1.4082818#:~:text=City%20of%20Saskatoon)-,An%20art%20installation%20that%20honours%20Saskatoon%20as%20the%20%22land%20of,according%20to%20a%20city%20report. And for more information about Cree syllabics:
SHE NATIVE; Indigenous Women Helping Indigenous Women
Devon Fiddler is the Chief Changemaker and Founder of the fashion brand SHE NATIVE, based in Saskatoon. Fiddler’s company is run by Indigenous women with a goal of providing support and mentorship to other Indigenous women. Fiddler’s designs are hip and fashionable while also using elements of Indigenous culture to tell a powerful story. SHE NATIVE is also committed to giving a percentage of their proceeds to causes that help support Indigenous women.
You can learn more about the brand and buy your very own SHE NATIVE designs at https://www.shenative.com/.
Back to Batoche with a New Twist!
Every year Metis Nation Saskatchewan along with other partners put on a Festival called Back to Batoche Days that celebrates Métis culture and way of life. This year, COVID had the potential to put a damper on the usual celebrations. Luckily, we Métis are good at finding new ways to deal with adversity. This year the festivities will go-ahead but in a virtual setting. On July 23rd at 10 AM you can join in the fun at https://backtobatochedays.ca/.
If you are looking for a fun family event from July 23rd to July 26th Back to Batoche Days is a perfect choice. You can watch square dancing, jigging and fiddle competitions all from the comfort of your couch, as well as enjoy a host of other entertainment and Métis cultural events. If you look closely you might even spot me in a competition or two. Have fun enjoying a good old Métis house party!
images sourced from: