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The Chez Willy et Nigane day residence opened its doors in January 2016. It welcomes and accompanies women in difficulty or who are homeless. In less than ten years, homelessness has become a major trouble ravaging this city of 42,000 inhabitants because of prejudice and racism. Stranded in the city, these women, who left the reservation to escape difficult living conditions or marital violence, are in survival mode. So at least they can get a break here during the day. Being at Willy is a bit like being at home. There is a kind, community spirit. Telephone calls are free. People confide in each other easily and are listened to attentively. Their visit here is often the beginning of support from the Friendship Center.

“Itinerance has a color, it is indigenous”

Besides being accompanied, these men and women can also rediscover their roots, the forest, and skills to help them find their place. Kinawit, which means “Us” in the Algonquin language, is located 12 kilometers from Val d’Or and is a place for resourcing oneself and healing. During the day, the men hunt along the banks of Lake Lemoine while the women prepare banique, a traditional bread, in their teepees. This life from another era moves to the soft rhythm of beating drums. In the evening, some participate in a care and purification ceremony in the steam cabin, a therapy offered by the Indigenous Friendship Center. But Kinawit is also a cultural site, a place for exchanges and sharing that is open to non-indigenous people. During short stays, they can discover the traditional culture and learn about the Amerindian philosophy. A time for encounters has replaced a cultural genocide.

The slogan of the Idle No More movement, “No more Apathy”, illustrates the strength of this people and these women in their fight against oppression and their refusal of all forms of assimilation. Today, the indigenous Friendship Center is not only an identity space but a laboratory for leaning to live together better.

“Culture is learned throughout one’s life … but being together gives us strength and is a beautiful way of sharing”

CONCLUSION

“It is this solidarity that means that 500 years after the meeting with the first colonists, we are still here”

Soeurs volées, enquête sur un féminicide au Canada (Stolen sisters, an inquest about a femicide in Canada) by Emmanuelle Walter at Lux Editions.

Enquête, abus de la SQ : des femmes brisent le silence (Study, sexual abuse of the SQ., women break the silence) by Josée Dupuis, Emmanuel Marchand, Benoit Michaud

 

Le peuple invisible (The Invisible People), a film by Richard Desjardins and Robert Mondorie

 

Ce silence qui tue (This silence that kills), a film by Kim Obomsawin

KINAWITT: THE ANISHINAABE ADVENTURE

LEARN MORE

AT WILLY AND NIGANE: A PLACE WITHOUT JUDGEMENT

KIJATE: A MODEL FOR INDIGENOUS SOCIAL HOUSING

Today, almost one in five indigenous people live in lodging that needs major repairs, three times more than the homes of non-indigenous people. Thus in 2017 the Friendship Center built a three-floor building that can house 24 families in difficult situations. Rolande and her daughter were the first to move into an apartment on the edge of the woods. It represents a new life for her and her young daughter Angelyne. It is also the result of her long circuit as an indigenous woman. Her story represents resilience and hope.

“I’m still standing, I came back … and I have become someone”

Documentaire "Amérindiens Wayana un peuple entre deux mondes"

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

FILMS:

A WOMAN WHO SERVES HER COMMUNITY

Edith Cloutier’s mother was Anishinaabe and her father a Quebecker. Very early on, she became conscious of her difference and participated with her mother in demonstrations during the 80’s that resulted in a modification of the law about Indians that had been written by white men with Victorian values. This law had explicitly excluded women from all forms of power and even linked their identity to that of their husbands. This injustice was fundamental to Edith’s commitment since, after earning her high school diploma in accounting, she had her first internship in 1983 at the Friendship Center of Val d’Or and eventually became its director in 1989. For thirty years, she has multiplied initiatives in favor of indigenous peoples in this mining city created in 1930 in the Anishinaabe territory.

“It is a gift to be able to serve my people… and contribute to improving the living conditions and rights of the First Peoples”

In 2015 in Quebec, a short time after his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to begin a new era with the First Nations, even apologizing to survivors of the special boarding schools for indigenous children.

Four years and 21 billion dollars later, what has changed?

A plan to revitalize the language and oversee the protection of children by indigenous communities was introduced.

Various inquiry commissions were launched. The most recent Viens commission on relations between indigenous peoples and the Quebec public services just revealed 142 recommendations and concluded that women do suffer systematic discrimination.

This is a symbolic recognition from the government but the acts are slow to be implemented.

Four years after their testimony denouncing the sexual abuses by policemen in the Val d’Or police station, women there are still afraid to walk in the street alone.

These women, who seek a future outside the reservation, are the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable. They often take refuge at one of the indigenous Friendship Centers. Created in the 1950’s, the 117 centers in Quebec accompany indigenous city dwellers thanks to programs in health, education, employment, justice and traditional culture.

Bettering the First Nations’ situation is at the heart of their mission but they are also a bulwark against racism and discrimination. They participate in bringing together an entire people.

“It is through women that we are currently working on reunifying our peoples and our nations”

THE VOICE OF RECONCILIATION

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE:

IN QUEBEC:

NATIONS

AND

OF THE QUEBEC POPULATION

IS INDIGENOUS,

MEANING ALMOST

1876

1982

1985

1930

1950

CREATION OF THE FIRST

INDIGENOUS

FRIENDSHIP CENTERS

CREATION OF VAL D'OR,

A CITY IN THE

ANISHINAABE TERRITORY

A CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

RECOGNIZES

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

AND THEIR SPECIAL RIGHTS

SOME NUMBERS:

- Over one quarter (27%) of Indigenous people have no diploma or social status.

 

- At 12.1%, their unemployment rate is double the rest of Quebec adults from ages 25 to 64.

 

- Almost one in five – 20% of indigenous people - live in run-down lodgings compared with 7% for the non-indigenous population.

 

- Indigenous people’s life expectancy is drastically lower than that of non-indigenous people (9 years lower for men and 5 years lower for women)

LAW C-31

GIVES WOMEN BACK

THEIR RIGHTS

LAW ABOUT THE INDIANS

PEOPLE

COMMUNITIES

%

THE PORTRAIT

THE PORTRAIT

AT WILLY AND NIGANE'S

AT WILLY AND NIGANE'S

INDIGENOUS SOCIAL HOUSING

INDIGENOUS SOCIAL HOUSING

THE ANISHINAABE ADVENTURE

THE ANISHINAABE ADVENTURE

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EDITH

CLOUTIER

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EDITH      CLOUTIER

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THE ANISHINAABE ADVENTURE

CREDITS

INDIGENOUS SOCIAL HOUSING

AT WILLY AND NIGANE'S

LEARN MORE

THE PORTRAIT

THE SUBJECT

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