Friday, May 31, 2013

"We Are Getting Our Stories Back" She Says

Sandy stands at the microphone in the Governance Centre's inner circle. She has just made a short speech, thanking everyone for their contributions to this year's magazine, Kitoskayiminawak Pikiskwewak Our Young People Speak: The Healing Edition. She downplays her role, but as Lesley Farley and Michelle Hugli Brass have just said, "Sandy is a visionary." In fact, she is the one who has brought us all together.
Sandy has just mentioned a couple more thank you's and then, her voice fails. Sandy pauses. "We are getting our stories back," she says.
A few months ago, I asked Sandy if I could publish excerpts from her thesis on my blog. She graciously said yes.
Sandy is a story keeper. Here is the beginning.
A Thesis
Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Master of Education
Educational Administration
University of Regina
Sandra L. Pinay-Schindler
July 2011
Copyright 2011: S.L. Pinay-Schindler

The personal journeys of First Nations Elders and leaders provide insight into
moral and ethical leadership and have implications for First Nations and Western
leadership models. Examining and defining how First Nations leaders find balance and
guidance in challenging situations was the purpose of this leadership study. As the data
was analyzed and synthesized, the findings emerged as a self-reflexive narrative. The
study revealed that Indigenous methods and concepts were vital to this culturally
respectful and significant research journey.
The First Nations experience in Canada is complicated and there are historical
impacts from a colonial presence and oppressive government acts (Episkinew, 2001). The
social and leadership structure of most First Nations communities has been negatively
impacted. Contemporary First Nations leaders appear to strive for a balance between
spiritual, moral, and ethical leadership guided by Elders and Western influences
(Ottmann, 2005). Through a combination of Indigenous and Western research processes,
it was revealed that First Nations leadership relies upon place, values, and relationships to
sustain moral and ethical balance. The Indigenous concept of place was significant. The
leaders situated themselves in the collective and in relation to others, both physically and
metaphysically. Through the Indigenous conversational method (Kovach, 2010) based on
oral tradition, the First Nations leaders revealed that their place in relation to their life
journeys, people, and personal development gave them the guidance to be strong and
humble leaders. A spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional connection to Turtle Island,
our First Nations ancestors, and our place was vital to being a strong leader. Influences
of Elders, family, and connections to others were essential to leadership development and
sustainability. The models of servant leadership and moral and ethical leadership are
increasingly relevant to modern organizations. The roots of this model are found in
historical First Nations leadership tenets, like humility, servitude, connectivity,
balance, and relationships. This is a natural, respectful leadership model that provides
opportunities for reflection, responsiveness, and adaptability.
The importance of Indigenous methods combined with Western research methods
emerged as a strong theme in this study. Culturally respectful protocol, methods, and
data interpretation were vital to the process. The value of established, trusted
relationships between the Indigenous participants and the Indigenous researcher was
significant. The Western epistemologies, data analysis, and grounded theory proved to
be useful tools for framing the initial research and analyzing the data, but the emergence
of Indigenous themes was strong. Indigenous research methods (Wilson, 2008; McLeod,
2007; Kovach, 2009) are proper and respectful of First Nations participants and
researchers to the place of their origin.


Thanking my helpers, both physical and spiritual, at both the beginning and at

the end of my thesis respects the Western and the Indigenous ceremonial protocols. I

wish to thank my co-supervisors, Dr. Linda Goulet and Dr. Larry Steeves, for their

patience, dedication, and time. They were incredibly supportive. Their viewpoints

and feedback on both Indigenous and Western methodologies and worldviews were

valued. My sincere thanks to Dr. Marc Spooner for expanding my synapses in his

introductory research class. He inspired me to explore the creative possibilities of thesis

work. It has been worth the long and winding road.

My thanks to the following organizations for funding and scholarships:

Prairie Valley School Division and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for the

Aboriginal Graduate Student Scholarship, the LEADS Award in Educational

Administration, and the U of R Alumni Association Dr. John Archer Scholarship.

To my respected participants, Adlard, Flora, Julia, Grant, and Matthew, I thank

them for their honesty, trust, and generosity. They exemplify all that is grand and

powerful about First Nations leadership and I am humbled and honoured to know them. I

strive to reach the places of truth that they have attained. They are inspiring leaders.


To my first role models: my parents, my sisters, and my brothers.

To my husband Kurt and our precious gifts, Ben and Brendan.

My parents: Emma (Crowe) & Noel Pinay Jr., Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Peepeekisis First Nation, June 17, 1946

Their hard work, sacrifices, love, and support have allowed me to find my wings and attain the educational goals they held so precious. I thank them for their incredible strength and resiliency; and for showing me that anything is possible.

My brothers and sisters: Ida, Lorraine, Dwight, Donna, Ronald, Lloyd, Debbie, Shane, Bruce, Lester, Paul, & Sandy with cousins and friends, Percival, Sk., circa 1967

I thank them for leading the way and helping me discover the joys of literature, the arts, creativity, and following the heart.

My family: Kurt and our sons

I thank them for tirelessly supporting me in this research journey. Many kilometres were driven to ski trips, appointments, and vacations while I sat in the passenger seat surrounded by books and draft papers. Their love sustains and inspires me.

Excerpt published with permission from the author.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pueblo De Canada. Los Zenues Nesekitamos El Apoyo Canadiense.

People of Canada. The Zenu People Need Your Support.



Protect Indigenous Peoples at risk of extinction in Colombia
Hon. John Baird
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dear Minister,
Indigenous Peoples in Colombia are in extreme danger. The Colombian Constitutional Court has concluded that at least 34 distinct nations are on the verge of utter destruction as a result of armed attacks and being forced from their lands. The Court has ordered emergency measures to protect Indigenous Peoples and ensure that they live safely on their own lands.
We call on you to use Canada's special relationship with Colombia to press for full compliance with the Court's ruling and ensure that Indigenous Peoples in Colombia receive full protection of their rights.
114 people from Fort Qu'Appelle have signed this petition with Amnesty International. You can too.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Treaty Promise and Treaty Reality Personified

When Sue and her daughter, Marina, pull up the lane at Philip and Michelle's on Peepeekisis First Nation, Sue calls through the trees. "Sheena, come here." Sue is rummaging in her back seat, and I can't really see, but she seems to be pulling out a box. I skip down the steps, off the deck, thinking, "Puppy. I'll bet she has a new puppy."
Sue has a broken shovel, signs, garden-themed gift wrap, and overalls. Marina puts a cowboy hat on me. "You can be 'Treaty Promises'," Sue says. "I'll be 'Treaty Realities'."
This is the opening act to our Idle No More Community Circle potluck and meeting. The only better entrance is when Marina's boyfriend shows up on horseback as the sun is setting.
Later, Angela posts this quote on our Fort Qu'Appelle Idle No More facebook page.
"...the older students wore radio parts on their lapels like jewellery- and so I explained about 'resistors', and that the first subversion is a joke, because humor is always a big signal to the authorities, who never understand this, that the people are dangerously serious and that the second most important subversive act is to demonstrate affection, because it is something no one can regulate or make illegal." Anne Michael's Winter Vault, p.316.

People of Canada the Zenu People Need Your Support


Reading translation of each handwritten message on each poster.

Google Translate to the rescue.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

3rd World Canada

My family and I lived on Black Lake Dene First Nation in Saskatchewan for five years. This opportunity rocked our world. As teachers we grew leaps and bounds professionally. As a family, we became part of the Black Lake family. As settler descendant Canadians we learned what it means to walk in two worlds.

Over ten years later, my Black Lake relationships continue to inform my identity and calling, especially to social justice, reconciliation, and treaty implementation. These twenty-five Canadians who accept the 3rd World Canada invitation need to prepare for a life-changing experience.

Congratulations to the youth of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug. When young people have a dream, anything is possible.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Watching the Journey of Nishiyuu Livestream from Parliament Hill in Ottawa with Two of my Students

If I could interview the seven original youth who trekked to Ottawa with the Journey of Nishiyuu , what would I ask them?

1. Describe how it felt the first day you began the walk, January 16th, 2013.
2. Describe how it felt as "The Journey of Nishiyuu" walked into Ottawa on March 25th, 2013.
3. What kept you going out on the trail?
4. What message do you have for Canadian youth?
5. What message do you have for Canadian teachers, working with the youth of today?
6. Which teachings did you turn to at various points along the trail?
7. What is your dream, now that the walk is over?
8. Is there anything else that you'd like to tell me?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Who Is Poached Egg Woman?

The more I get to know Sue Bland -- AKA Poached Egg Woman -- the more I relax. (Those who know me well are thinking, "I wish Sheena would get to know Sue much, much better." Don't worry, I'm working on it.)

Sue contacted me shortly after I began my Treaty Walks blog. She told me that she worked for the Saskatchewan Justice and Right Relations http: and wondered if she might share my blog with her network. I was kind of shy and self-doubting back then, and I wasn't sure what to say to this woman who was taking my Treaty Walks, so seriously. I assumed that Sue was a very serious person.

Little did I know.

For starters, Sue has this great, big smile. And when she smiles, a good laugh is to follow. And when she laughs, well, she's not afraid to throw in a chortle or two.

I remember meeting up with Sue outside of the Community Outreach. Marg, Sue and I were making signs and writing letters about Chief Spence as well as Idle No More for a Walk in Regina later that morning. Sue had been waiting in her car, and it was December, so she had left the motor running. As she jumped out, she was laughing. She turned off her car and declared, "Idle No More."

To which I replied, "I want to make a poster of an old car, spewing exhaust, that says, "Idle No More. It's Exhausting."

Sue snorted.

For the past year and a half, Sue has been my great encourager, with her playful spirit and kind words. She's driven to my house in the morning, on numerous occasions, treaty walked me to school, then walked all the way back to my place to pick up her vehicle. She has facilitated a weekend called Treaty Days at which Keitha and I co-hosted. Most recently, she brought the first ever, Frog Moon Cafe, to life at the Calling Lakes Centre. (See her blog post "Frog Moon Magic" at

And really, when Sue started blogging as Poached Egg Woman that about says it all.

But, you know, when I used to think Sue was so serious, I wasn't all that off the mark. In fact, Sue takes her light-heartedness very seriously. In our Idle No More Community Circle, Sue often reminds us of the importance of play and just being together. And really, she has to keep light in her heart, because she is not afraid to walk into some very dark situations. I'll never forget last spring, taking my grade ten students to the Truth and Reconciliation gathering at the Governance Centre here in Fort Qu'Appelle, and seeing Sue stand up, and read an apology on behalf of the United Church of Canada for it's part in the legacy of Residential Schools.

So today, on my Treaty Walks blog, I celebrate my friend, Poached Egg Woman. And I promise that I will continue to get to know her until my heart is as full of light as hers.

 Who is Poached Egg Woman?
Did I mention that Poached Egg Woman is an Artist?
Don't miss her upcoming
SOLO ART SHOW AND SALE: “Taking Flight: Exploring Birds and Other Winged Creatures in the Art of Sue Bland”

Mother’s Day Weekend -Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.
Photo by Cherie Westmoreland
polka dot whimsy, rice paper
Sue writes, "Please come, bring your mom, your gramma, your aunties or a good friend. I will be bringing my mum and gramma’s tea cups and serving tea. There will also be art table set up giving you and yours an opportunity to make paper birds, flowers or other creations of your own. (Check Galleries for some of the flying creatures I will be showing, others can be found in the post “An Exultation of Larks“.) I am delighted with the beautiful natural light and many windows at the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts."

For a map of Fort Qu’Appelle, click here. If you are coming from Regina, turn left on Bay Street (just past the Country Squire) and left again on 4th Street (between the Anglican and United Church).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflection: “treaty on my mind and social justice on my heart” by Dr. Martin Ravelo, Quesnel, BC

I am so pleased to be emailing you this draft caused by your expression: “treaty on my mind and social justice on my heart.” Wow! Treaty/mind and social justice /heart.  In other terms: treaty is an affair of reason; social justice, of emotion. So right, Sheena!

We have IQ. Do we have EQ? My point is, what do we know about emotion? Of course, everyone knows about the emotion of love. I mean, like a dog loves a bone. The dog will destroy the bone to get the best from it. Or like a person who loves a fellow human being. The former will "destroy" the latter to get the best from him or her. When is this love-emotion of a high EQ? (Love emotion being one of our emotions that are directed toward self, or one of our intra-emotions.) How do we master each of our intra-emotions? What are the other intra-emotions?

Do our schools teach about emotion for years, as they teach about English? We have language at our birth. We speak it at three years old. But then, we have to learn it for years to be literate. We have emotion and function with it from very early in our life. But are we all (most of us) illiterate on emotion?

How high is our EQ in social justice? What do we know about social justice, as one of the emotions that are directed toward others, an inter-emotion? Again, how do we master it, as well as each of the other inter-emotions. Do we know them?

Being illiterate on emotion, on “heart”, is a stumbling block in the treaty development and implementation, as an affair of the “mind”. According to me, it is not enough to be smart. One has to be bright. For this, one has to be very literate both in reason and in emotion; one has to genuinely cultivate both his mind and his heart.

Dr. Martin Ravelo

*Note. On the banner of my Treaty Walks blog I have written, “Please join me as I continue to walk with treaty on my mind and social justice on my heart.”