What You May not Know About Indigenous People in Niagara

Special to Niagara At Large from Karl Dockstader

Posted on NAL this March 20th, 2017

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017, is the United Nations annually designated day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. For Indigenous people, visible minorities, and other people who happen to be the wrong kind of person this day cannot come soon enough.

The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre isn’t waiting for racism to end and neither are the community partners who have been working with the Native Centre to promote The FRIEND Project throughout the past month.

The FRIEND Project display

This project is telling the stories of the real Indigenous people of Niagara. These stories of success in education, culture, law, employment, the environment and other areas have been part of a movement to remind Niagarans that Indigenous people are an important part of our normal everyday life.

Racism is an ugly and complicated problem. Even uttering words like racism, privilege, and entitlement can trigger defensive behavior among people who feel accused and maybe even a little guilty.

It is only natural to feel defensive when being accused of something and that feeling might stem from feeling as if you have been treated unfairly. If that is the case then that may be a good sign that you intuitively seek fairness and equality through the equitable treatment of all people.

Unfortunately there is no way around the truth that racism is deeply rooted in modern society, entrenched in the fabric of Canadian history and emboldened by latent practices enhancing its pervasive effects. Racial discrimination’s negative effects come with a high social, cultural and even economic cost.

Fortunately, one of the most powerful tools to vanquish darkness is light. In Niagara there is a long and rich history of Indigenous people worth highlighting. Understanding, education and open-mindedness, are great starting points for improving how we get along as shared members of a greater community.

The Fort Erie Public Library, the YMCA, the Tourism and Economic Development Office in Fort Erie and more have been hosting displays with pictures of Indigenous community members sharing their accomplishments.

Indigenous attendees of the recent 22nd annual Fort Erie Midwinter Powwow offered their perspective on things they thought were important in a series of micro-podcasts ( http://www.fenfc.org/2017powwow_sounds).

Real Indigenous people shared deeper insights into community, education, the past and the future available for free listening on the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre’s website ( http://www.fenfc.org/friend#allan ). Even reading an article like this on a great site like Niagara at Large is an important positive step.

The Real People are Indigenous community members making a positive change as part of their lifelong journey. The roots of racism run deep, but so too does the urge to improve ourselves as people. The real people, and really all the people, will define what this greater community values by living in a peaceful, respectful and then friendly way.

For more information about The Friend Project please head toFENFC.org/Friend or fb.com/NiagaraFriend if you have any questions please send inquiries to FRIEND@FENFC.org .

Author: Karl Dockstader – writing as the Anti-Racism Urban Partnership Project Coordinator for the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.

Author Mini-bio: Karl Dockstader is a longstanding advocate for Friendship Centres and the rights of Indigenous People. He has contributed his perspective as a member of the Oneida First Nation to the public dialogue in Niagara about Treaties, the Environment, and government inaction on issues of importance.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


One response to “What You May not Know About Indigenous People in Niagara

  1. Doug
    I once made a remark to a friend in New York, actually Buffalo, a statement about the war of 1812 and the unsuccessful attempt by the U.S of A. to invade and take over Canada. Startled and very annoyed she said “We never ever attempted to invade Canada?” whoops I was in hot water and had to bail the sinking ship quickly…Chuckle
    I mentioned the huge and very high statue at Queenston Heights, a recognition to the British General Brock and his contribution to Canada.
    It was at this point that I told a story very few people, including some Canadians knew, a sago of war where the First Nation People came to the rescue of Canada and that Brock himself once stated that Chief Tecumseh was the greatest general he ever served with. The British made a lot of promises to the First Nation People during that period and after especially when they fought and so many actually died to preserve Canada, promises never fulfilled and where promises are still not being honored.
    Brock Died at Queenston Heights during the first volley but it was the First Nation People though greatly out number who turned back the Americans.
    Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames near present day Chatham in Ontario and from my understanding his burial site is unknown and his efforts were never totally appreciated or documented as was BROCK’s

    Though I am Not of the FN People I, for the life of me CANNOT understand
    the betrayals, the broken promises, the lies and deceit perpetuated then and STILL against these guardians of Mother Nature.


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