"For as long as the world shall endure, the honor and the glory of Mexico-Tenochtitlan must never be forgotten."

~ Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

stuff about Deborah Ellis and her awesome book 'Looks like Daylight' plus another really long rant about how the government sucks because of the way they treat First Nations people

A/N: I haven't posted anything decent for like half a year. How about I write about something serious for once? 

Well, during the school year the best book I read was probably 'Looks like Daylight' by Deborah Ellis. I'm sure if you've lived in Canada you've heard of Deborah Ellis. She's an amazing author who almost always gets nominated for the Red Maple award in Canada. We really do not have that many famous authors here, so it is easy to name them all very fast, at least the ones who write for children and YAs: 

Kenneth Opel, Gordan Korman, Sigmund Brouwer, Eric Walters, Richard Scrimger, Susin Nielsen, Kelley Armstrong, Ted Staunton, and of course, the one who this post was inspired by, Deborah Ellis. 

So quickly, before I get to the point, let me talk a bit more about Deborah Ellis and the Red Maple award. 

The Red Maple award is a literary award given to Canadian authors. It is a very difficult award to get, as your book must first be picked by the Forest of Reading selection committee (this is run by the Ontario library association). Then, students across the country will read the ten books that have been nominated (although some years, there are twenty books- 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction. This is what happened this year, when Deborah Ellis was nominated for nonfiction). If the book gets the most awards from Canadian students by the end of the year, it wins!

If your school isn't dirt-poor you can also visit the Red Maple award ceremony (or you can pay a huge amount of money like we had to) and see the authors in person. You can buy signed copies of their books there.

Deborah Ellis didn't win. I wanted her to though. Here are the winners: 

  • The 2015 Red Maple Fiction Award™ Winner: The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
  • The 2015 Red Maple Non-Fiction Award™ Winner: The Last Train: A Holocaust Story by Rona Arato

Rona Arato isn't terribly popular but Eric Walters certainly is. I wanted the Boundless by Kenneth Opel to win for fiction. This happened last year too. I voted for the one I liked and someone else o :'(((((((((((((((((( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, now that you know what the Red Maple award is, let me proceed to repetitively expound on the accomplishments of Deborah Ellis. 

She's not only a great author, but a fabulous activist. She writes nonfiction and realistic fiction about conflicts that are happening in the world, problems that need to be addressed. Some of her books have been challenged and almost banned. The following is from the Pelhalm Public library blog of banned books related to Deborah Ellis' book 'Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak'. 

Canadian challenged book list has the following information about the recent banning of Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
2006—In Ontario, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) urged public school boards to deny access to this children’s non-fiction book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to students in the elementary grades.
Cause of objection—The CJC said that Ellis had provided a flawed historical introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The CJC also said that some children in the book portrayed Israeli soldiers as brutal, expressed ethnic hatred and glorified suicide bombing. The effect on young student readers, the CJC said, was “toxic.”
Update—Although the Ontario Library Association (OLA) had recommended Three Wishes to schools as part of its acclaimed Silver Birch reading program, and although schoolchildren were not required to read the book, at least five school boards in Ontario set restrictions on the text:
a) The District School Board of Niagara encouraged librarians to steer students in Grades 4–6 away from Three Wishes and to tell parents that their children had asked for the book.
b) The Greater Essex County District School Board restricted access to the book to students in Grade 7 or higher.
c) The Toronto District School Board restricted access to the book to students in grade 7 or higher and withdrew the book from school library shelves.
d) The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board refused to stock the book and refused to provide copies to students who asked for it.
e) In 2005, before the CJC made its views about Three Wishes public, the York Regional District School Board also withdrew the book from the Silver Birch program.
Protests by the OLA, The Writers’ Union of Canada, PEN Canada and the Association of Canadian Publishers failed to persuade the school boards to repeal their restrictions.
Controversial books are always the best books, amirite ;D ?! 

So, Deborah Ellis donates most of the money from her books to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Street Kids International, the Children in Crisis fund for IBBY (international board on books for young people), and UNICEF. She's a really, really good person. 

ZOMG have I not talked about the Breadwinner series yet?!?!?!? One does not simply mention Deborah Ellis without mentioning THE BREADWINNER SERIES. 

This was taken from deborahellis.com and explains what the Breadwinner series is about and why she wrote it:

In 1996, when Deb read about the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan, and about their brutal treatment of girls and women, she decided that she had to get involved. She visited refugee camps in Pakistan, met Afghan women and heard about their experiences. She was particularly struck by the story of a young girl who cut off her hair and disguised herself as a boy so she could earn money to support her family. Deb knew she had to turn that story into a book. The result was the Breadwinner novels, about young Parvana and her best friend, Shauzia. 

Now, the Breadwinner trilogy contains Deborah Ellis' most famous books. She has donated over one million in royalties from this series alone. 

Want to know something cool? Her fans begged her to write a fourth book, even though she only planned a trilogy. So, a fourth book, 'My Name is Parvana' was nominated for the Red Maple award last year. I read it, it was awesome. 

Unfortunately, there was also an extremely awesome book nominated last year called "Loki's Wolves" which was about Norse mythology. At that time, one of its two authors, Kelley Armstrong, who is now quite popular among younger readers as well, was just taking a break from writing books for adults. I wanted her to get popular, and I loved her book, so I voted for her. 

I'm not saying it was better or worse than My Name is Parvana. Those two books aren't worth comparing. Both can prove how good the authors are at research and at engaging the audience in more serious topics. 

Now lets talk about when Deborah Ellis turned her attention closer to home, when she really became one of my idols. You guessed it. The book 'Looks like Daylight' focuses on First Nations people. 

I wonder who wrote this obsessive review:

"Wow!! This book was so eye-opening, enlightening, and beautiful that I am left in awe and have no words to describe how amazing it was. This should be required reading for all Canadians. Let me start by saying that this book was about the condition of First Nations people in Canada and the united states. We as Canadians have always been told that Canada is a great country but this book takes a look at the impact of residential schools, the sixties scoop, alcoholism, poor housing conditions, etc. on modern indigenous people. 45 REAL people were interviewed for this amazing book and it really makes you think deeply about what Canada was really built on.... Native land. I can give you statistics. I can tell you that The United Nations reported that at least 1 in 5 aboriginals live in homes in need of serious repairs.I can tell you that in remote northern communities of the Inuit, the suicide rate is 5 times the national average. I can tell you that 1 in 3 aboriginal women are raped. But all this is just numbers. You simply HAVE to read this book to realize what this means. 'Looks like daylight' will open your eyes to things that have been kept hidden from you. Read it now. Pleeeassee read it. Also, Deborah Ellis is an amazing activist and I have read her Breadwinner series. I recommend her books to all."

It's true, what I said in that review. Before I read the book, I knew about how the government treated First Nations people. I even wrote a report on the topic for school once. But I only knew numbers and statistics. I didn't understand how these were real people until I read Deborah Ellis' book, Looks like Daylight. Deborah herself didn't write much in it, just an intro, conclusion, and a short paragraph before each chapter talking about who the child in the interview is. She interviewed 45 kids about their experiences. 

If you want, you can check out the other reviews here: just click this link to see them

You will have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see my review BECAUSE I WAS THE FIRST ONE TO REVIEW IT :D !! My Red Maple username is Aztecatl13, that's the same as my chatbox username here ;D . 

Also, I know almost everyone who commented that book personally. Because people from other schools are too lazy to write reviews. I could name them all but I don't think I should reveal their identities in case the person who is reading this is a stalker. 

Now, I have done lots of research on how the government treats First Nations people, both before and after reading 'Looks like Daylight'. For the rest of this blog post, you can read a report I did on the topic. If you do manage to read through it all, I sincerely hope you will continue finding out more about these issues by reading 'Looks like Daylight' and doing other research. Not many people know about Canada's dark secret. 

Of course, this is going to be long, and probably very depressing. But it's 100% real. You can click the links for explanations of certain terms. I've tried to include possible solutions, and ways that people are helping. I got a good mark on this, the teacher thought it was a unique topic (we were supposed to choose a social justice issue). 

The Treatment of First Nations People in Canada
a report by Freya the Frypan

Canada is a nation that ranks among the top ten countries on the human development index (HDI). Many of its citizens are proud of living in a country that they consider fair, wealthy, and peaceful. Yet below this surface, there are shocking injustices. Many families in this country live in poverty, for example, the First Nations people of Canada. On aboriginal reservations throughout the country, there is still an alarming suicide rate. Substance abuse is common and murders occur more frequently with a tendency to go unsolved. Many communities in the reservations are far from being peaceful. What exactly goes on in these meagre scraps of land that the government tossed to aboriginal people? James Anaya, the former UN rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people says that life in some First Nations reserves resembles 'third world conditions'. What are the historical roots and causes of these issues? Why should Canadians even care about these problems?  Is anyone taking the initiative to help?

History and Causes
Firstly, it is important to understand the historical roots of the mistreatment of First Nations people. Before the arrival of the Europeans in Canada, First Nations people had rich cultural traditions and sophisticated systems of government such as the Iroquois Confederacy. The coming of the Europeans lead traditions being altered or taken away. The new government that the Europeans imposed upon First Nations was never meant to benefit the aboriginal people in any way. Scraps of land that the Europeans didn’t want were cast aside, creating reservations. Forced relocation was used to get the aboriginals to live on the reservations, and for a time, none of them were allowed off. To make things worse, the Canadian government decided it wanted to integrate aboriginal people into the mainstream Euro-Canadian society. For this purpose, they used the notorious residential schools. The residential school period in Canada lasted from 1870-1996, though conditions were worst starting from 1920. Over 4000 students died from malnutrition or disease from the unsanitary conditions. Many suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. "Generations of aboriginal children grew up in residential schools estranged from their culture and languages, with devastating effects on maintaining indigenous identity. It is clear that the residential school period continues to cast a long shadow of despair on indigenous communities and that many of the dire social and economic problems faced by aboriginal people are directly linked to that experience," says James Anaya. There were many acts of rebellion from aboriginal students, who often ran away, or, in the most extreme cases, attempted to burn down their residential school. On the reservations, there was no infrastructure or economy which led to the impoverishment and deaths of many who lacked shelter, food, or healthcare. When aboriginals were finally allowed to leave the reservations and the residential schools were abolished, many First Nations people still faced unemployment because of the racist attitudes that Canadian society had built up. Unemployment led to issues such as drug dealing and many First Nations who survived faced mental health issues like trust issues and depression. Many turned to alcohol. Alcoholism led to violence and the neglect of children. Since residential school times, the secondary school completion rates for aboriginal people have always remained very low because of the abuse that some young people face at home. Today on the reservations, there is still alcoholism, drug dealing, inadequate housing and schooling conditions, violence, and lack of access to healthcare and clean drinking water. All of this is deeply rooted in the colonization and unjust treatment of aboriginal people in Canada, which is why it's so important to understand the cause of this issue.
Housing Conditions & the Access to Clean Water
On aboriginal reservations today, housing conditions are highly inadequate and unsanitary. There are First Nations communities all over the country who don't have access to clean water. Houses are small in size. "Young people describe to me the difficulty they have studying in small homes overcrowded by generations of family members. Other social problems have been linked to these overcrowded conditions, including high rates of tuberculosis & other health problems, family violence, unemployment, and unwanted displacement to urban centers," James Anaya says. The United Nations reported that at least 1 in 5 aboriginals live in homes in need of serious repairs. The homes are often contaminated with mold and have leaky roofs. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the housing conditions on aboriginal reserves show, "poverty beyond imagination- like a shanty town in Mexico or Sao Paulo, with sometimes ten to fifteen people living in one shack. The people are conditioned to live on welfare; more than 70 percent don't work. There is no work, apart from a little trapping and fishing along the Churchill River. Life has improved in recent years thanks to band initiative and good leadership, but there is still no work.... People have nothing to do here. Especially the young people. Children start drinking as early as six." It is agreed upon that some of the problems caused by poor housing conditions would be solved if there was better sewage treatment and clean water access. Improper sanitation and poor water quality can cause infections, diarrhea, and skin rashes. Diseases are spread more easily in these unclean conditions. On many reserves, outhouses, slop pails, and cisterns are used because there is no indoor plumbing.  Ian Knott, a band councilor of the Wasagameck First Nation in northern Manitoba says, "We have water fountains in the community store; for sewage, we still use outdoor washrooms." This is the seriousness of the housing and clean water issues on First Nations reserves in Canada.
Violence and the Suicide Rate on First Nations Reserves
Ever since the establishment of the reserve system, crime rate and violence in First Nations communities have become much higher. There is a cycle of poverty that goes on in First Nations reserves. Family violence happens in many homes. This is partly because of the impact of residential schools. Parents who have once been in residential schools do not know how to take care of their children and can sometimes be alcoholics. This has a terrible effect on children. According to the Centre for Social Justice, the cycle of poverty is "….Where family violence leads educational failure, which leads to poverty, which leads to ill health and back to violence." It is clear why violence is such a huge problem in impoverished areas. One of the worst things about family violence is that it leads to many teenagers committing suicide. The suicide rate on First Nations reserves are five to six times the national average. In remote northern areas of Canada, the suicide rates are some of the highest in the world. For example, among the Inuit of northern Canada, the suicide rate is eleven times the national average. Many suspect that the suicide issue is a lot worse, because these statistics do not include all First Nations reserves in Canada.  Suicide incidents are most often linked to family violence. "Parents don't know how to be parents. Families don't know how to love," explains Bob Goulais, an indigenous rights activist. There are also numerous murder cases that have happened on aboriginal reserves. Murder cases have a tendency to go unsolved on First Nations reserves. According to the United Nations, you are more likely to be murdered if you're an aboriginal Canadian, than a non-aboriginal Canadian. Particularly, if you are an aboriginal women. "Another aspect of the long shadow of residential schools....is the disturbing phenomenon of aboriginal women missing or murdered at the hands of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal assailants....aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women," says James Anaya. It is very important that the provincial governments of Canada take more action to prevent murder, suicide, and family violence as simply too many First Nations families have been affected by this problem.
Education & Identity
Next, there is one overlying problem that affects all First Nations people not only in Canada but all over the Americas. This problem has the most to do with colonization. It is the issue of identity. What makes an aboriginal person an aboriginal? Clearly it should be blood and what the government labels you as should not matter. Unfortunately, there are many First Nations people in Canada who the government ignores and does not consider aboriginal. These people are not allowed to call themselves First Nations or have the land rights that the recognized aboriginal people have even though they have First Nations blood. For example, a person with mixed aboriginal and European heritage is considered Métis by the government, or even First Nations, depending on how much European & aboriginal ancestry the person has. Métis people are allowed to have aboriginal IDs. On the other hand, a person with mixed aboriginal and African or Black Canadian ancestry is not considered First Nations and is not allowed to have an aboriginal ID, even though they may have the same amount of aboriginal ancestry as a Métis person. In Canada there are many people who have both Black Canadian and aboriginal ancestry who are struggling to be able to identify as First Nations and be recognized as First Nations by the government. First Nations people in Canada also are isolated from their relatives the Native Americans, Native Mexicans, and other indigenous people of the Americas because they are not allowed to identify with them. Before the Europeans came, there were no borders separating ‘Canada’ from ‘The United States’ and ‘The United States’ from ‘Mexico’ etc. Because of these borders there are restrictions on what the Canadian government can do for aboriginal identity issues. The reason why this aboriginal rights issue is so directly linked to colonization is because the Europeans used an effective strategy called ‘divide and conquer’. Now, the only way to help aboriginal identity issues is by improving the education system, especially on First Nations reservations, to make sure it empowers aboriginals and teaches them history from their perspective rather than European perspective. According to the Windspeaker, a newspaper published by the Aboriginal Multimedia Society of Canada, “parents of First Nations students on reserves express the fear that their children are failing to develop a positive sense of their identity and that curricula rarely reflects their children’s true history, diverse cultures and languages, and their contributions to Canada.” There are still many stereotypes, misconceptions, and errors within the Canadian curriculum about aboriginal history. For example, Canadian students are often left with the opinion that aboriginals were inferior to Europeans and had limited contributions to Canada’s history. Errors about the diverse and complicated religions, philosophies, and spirituality that the aboriginals had are common, suggesting that the aboriginals “lived in harmony with nature which prevented them from becoming technologically advanced.” Such topics are culturally sensitive and should be approached differently when taught to Canadian students. Furthermore, because the violence and suicide cases on aboriginal reserves are often linked to the traumatic residential schools that aimed to destroy aboriginal culture, strengthening and empowering First Nations people and helping aboriginal students achieve a positive sense of their heritage may be the key to making the conditions of First Nations people meet the high standard of Canada. Even if poverty on First Nations reserves is ended by economic development, education is still one of the only solutions for aboriginal identity issues.
What are we doing to Help and why?
Canadians usually perceive their country as peaceful and fair, which is why so many are shocked at the history of the Canadian government’s racist actions towards aboriginal people. Luckily, change is happening and Canadians are finally speaking up for the mistreatment of their fellow citizens. After over five centuries of oppression, it is great to know that there are many organizations that are helping to stop the racial inequality of First Nations people in Canada. The reason why it is so important that we have these organizations is because there are not enough government recognized aboriginal people in Canada to form a significant voting block. This means that there isn’t enough pressure on provincial governments to stop the oppression of the indigenous people. Furthermore, there are many cultures all over the world who have had to suffer and still struggle to survive because of the long lasting effects of colonization. Today, many of these cultures live in impoverished nations and empowering the First Nations of Canada may set an example for other oppressed peoples to unite for liberation. One organization that is helping is called the Truth and Reconciliation committee (TRC). Their mandate is to inform the Canadian government about issues on reservations that have been caused by residential schools. One way they do this is by interviewing residential school survivors. Here is a statement from their website:  “One of the jobs of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is to gather statements from former students of the Indian Residential Schools and anyone else who feels they have been impacted by the schools and their legacy.” They believe they are continuing the “acts of reconciliation that have been happening all over Canada”. The TRC insists there has been progress and improvements in the treatment of First Nations people (such as prime minister Stephen Harper’s official apology for residential schools in 2008) and that Canadians should continue this movement for racial equality. They encourage Canadians to spread the word about residential schools and put pressure on the government. There are also movements from other countries who support the rights of First Nations people in Canada. These people are often enraged that such a developed country is unable to provide basic human rights like clean water to its citizens. The American Indian Movement and Mexica Movement are examples of movements from other countries who stand up for the rights of their “indigenous brothers and sisters” in Canada. Both movements believe that educating others is the best way to fight the injustice in Canada. The Mexica Movement is particularly passionate about aboriginal identity issues and wants to unite all First Nations people across the ‘false borders that were made on our continent by Europeans’.  So, if we want to help make a difference, putting pressure on the government, spreading awareness, educating others, and educating yourself are the most important ways to bring about change.
Possible Solutions
As we can see, the mistreatment of First Nations people in Canada is deeply rooted in Canadian history. The problems of the aboriginal cycle of poverty all reinforce each other. We can also see that, even with economic development, little will be done for aboriginal identity issues without some major improvements to the education system. The good news is, there are solutions to these seemingly overwhelming problems, but implementing them will take time. Firstly, we must understand that “all these conditions must be tackled together, not piecemeal” as suggested by the Centre for Social Justice. Economic development will be needed to make First Nations less dependant on the federal government and to end poverty. Housing conditions must be improved so that more people can complete secondary education and university. One possible solution was suggested by Michael Den Tandt in the Toronto Sun, “the reserve system is a disgrace. It should be abolished, just as the Indian Act should be abolished. The reserves should be broken up, the homes given to the people who live in them, and the whole putrid, rotten, system of race-based distinctions outlawed.” This solution is suggesting that the reserve system and the Indian act (a federal law outlining the rights of aboriginal people) are means of racial segregation and should be abolished. This solution would mean that aboriginal people would have to integrate into mainstream Canadian society. This may improve living conditions but will not do anything for aboriginal identity issues. Another solution is to improve the health care on First Nations reserves. Although Canada is regarded as having an affordable health care system, being publically funded, many First Nations people live in geographically isolated parts of Canada such as the remote north. This prevents them from having access to health care. Improving the health care will make living conditions better as it would help to stop the spread of disease and help residential school survivors cope with mental health problems.
Lastly, to prevent suicide and aboriginal identity issues, the indigenous rights activist Richard Bull suggests that unbiased  education and understanding of colonization may be the only solution, “suicide is not about dying, but about stopping the overwhelming pain that is associated with colonization. In Canada we are currently into the fifth devastating wave of colonization. First, it was disease. Secondly, relocation & the establishment of the reserve system. Thirdly, the theft of rights & criminalization of culture. Then, the residential school experience, and now social services. Understanding that colonization is still happening & is not just part of our past is the key to healing our communities from within.” So, economic development and stopping racial segregation are solutions for improving living conditions, better health care is a further solution to living conditions and mental health problems, but above all, education is the key to decolonized thinking and healing. Without a better education system we will never be able to stop aboriginal identity issues and empower First Nations communities or inspire change among other oppressed people in the world.  
Did you actually read this entire post? No skimming. Zomg. Good job. 
Image result for looks like daylight <<<< you should read that book. It's good ;_;. 

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