Issues of identity, land claims and the repatriation of ancestral remains will be at the heart of Native Awareness Days –a week-long event to be held at STU later this month.
“We have to stand up and speak out, and native awareness days gives us that opportunity,” said Frank Jr. Molley, president of the Native Student Council at St. Thomas.
“(We can) respectfully look at the issues that affect us here in New Brunswick from the perspective of academia and have a great time,” he said.
Constitutional lawyer Candice Metallic and Fred Metallic, a doctoral student who wrote his entire dissertation in Mi’kmaq, will be among guest speakers.
St. Thomas University professors Andrea Bear Nicholas, Roland Chrisjohn and D’Arcy Vermette, along with Donna Augustine will also host talks throughout the week.
Candice Metallic of Maurice Law in Ottawa will speak about section 35 of the Canadian constitution, which provides protection to the aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations people in Canada.
She will also look at the relation ships between First Nations people and crown corporations, but won’t be addressing the sale of NB Power, Molley said.
She’ll be giving a lecture titled Consultation and Accommodation of First Nation Rights and Interests on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Holy Cross conference room.
Molley said, however, the sale of NB Power from a First Nations perspective is an underplayed angle that will be ex plored and debated throughout the week.
“When you sell something like that, without respect, without even trying to think twice about it, you’re going to come up against something big,” he said.
First Nations communities in the province say the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec violates the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Wolastoqewiyik Traditional Council of Tobic filed an injunction to the province late last month asking both parties to stop the deal.
Focus on the NB Power deal will also mesh with the week’s theme, “Got land? Thank an Indian.”
When coming up with the slogan, Molley felt he needed to be humor ous, but direct about land issues.
At its weekly meeting Thursday, the St. Thomas student council awarded the Native Student Council $475 to sponsor speaker Fred Metallic, a PhD candidate at York University. He’ll be speaking Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Holy Cross conference room.
Council will also lend its support to find other sources of donations in the community, possibly in the form of hotel rooms.
Molley said Native Awareness Days is going to cost $5, 637 and so far he hasn’t had much luck raising money from the event’s usual funders yet.
The Native Student Council is spending $1, 500 on the six-day conference.
He’s still hopeful some funding will come through before the end of the month, but either way, he said organizers are determined to host a successful event.
Three aboriginal bands are playing Saturday night in James Dunn Hall.
Razor Red, who were showcased at the East Coast Music Awards in 2008, will be joined by Riverside of Listuguj First Nation, Qc. and Gravel Chewer of Fredericton. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Native Awareness Days runs from Feb. 22 to Feb. 27.
A full schedule of events can be found here -> Final NAD Schedule
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