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Trailblazing Secwépemc leader George Manuel memorialized on Canada Post stamp



Susan Margles, the chief people and safety officer for Canada Post unveils the stamp along with George Manuel Jr, Doreen Manuel and Ida Manuel. Submitted photo

Kanahus Manuel was just 13 when her grandfather George Manuel passed away in 1989 — but his lasting impact on her life has been profound.

“I pretty well live my life in existence to his legacy,” she shared.

“And fighting for our Aboriginal title and rights, fighting for our Secwépemc title and rights — that’s what I live and breathe.”

Kanahus was part of a group of relatives, friends and admirers of George Manuel who gathered at Tsleil-Waututh Nation on Monday to witness the unveiling of a Canada Post stamp in tribute to the beloved leader.

The commemorative stamp — which features a 1970s image of Manuel peering out from under a pair of stylish glasses — is being issued as part of an Indigenous Leaders stamp series which started in 2022.

During the unveiling, people spoke about how much of a difference Manuel had made in their lives personally and to the Indigenous rights movement at large.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs recalled how he first met Manuel as a young man, and became inspired by his powerful presence and speaking ability.

“He was such a dynamic speaker and such an inspirational leader, and those kinds of leaders, throughout world history, get things done and motivate people to stand up to speak up,” he said. 

“And that’s what George did.”

He remembered attending a meeting with Manuel where they faced down the B.C. Wildlife Federation in a room “just packed with rednecks, hunters, ranchers, loggers” — and how Manuel matter-of-factly asserted Indigenous hunting and fishing rights to them.

“And they were so taken aback that when that session was over, you couldn’t get near George,” he said. “All of those people came up around him and were shaking his hand.”

A lasting legacy

Manuel, a member of Neskonlith Indian Band, had a four-decade-long political career with a far-reaching impact, which included being nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He served as national chief of what’s now the Assembly of First Nations and was the former president of UBCIC. He also co-founded the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, where his efforts led to the creation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As a leader in the grassroots Constitution Express movement of 1981, he led hundreds of supporters to Ottawa in order to secure Indigenous rights in the Canadian Constitution — now articulated in section 35, which formally entrenches “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights” in Canadian law. Cases like R. v. Sparrow would go on to set legal precedent using this section and further define these rights. 

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said Manuel was a true “warrior of the people” who fought for justice not only for Indigenous people, but for all — demonstrating how change can be made through action. 

Born in 1921, he survived the Kamloops Indian Residential School after being taken there when he was nine years old. He went on to work as a tradesman in the lumbering industry before getting involved in politics.

“He inspired generations and he ensured that his legacy as a political leader, author and changemaker was an indelible one, not only for First Nations but for all of Canada,” said Archibald.

“He showed us despite the intergenerational trauma that we have suffered for many, many generations, he showed us intergenerational strength and he showed us intergenerational healing and intergenerational wisdom.”

The new Canada Post stamp features a black and white photo of Manuel that’s illustrated in multi-coloured designs by Secwépemc artist Tania Willard.

The colours “represent the ‘shining light’ of Manuel’s message for international Indigenous rights, while the deep red ochre evokes the pictographs and other markings found on Secwépemc lands,” according to Canada Post.

To announce the stamp’s release, Canada Post also issued a press release in Secwepemctsín — Manuel’s Indigenous language — as part of a wider effort to utilize the ancestral languages of the people being honoured, according to a statement.

‘It was amazing to be in his presence’

At the unveiling event, Manuel’s oldest granddaughter Dana spoke about how, although she didn’t get to spend as much time with her grandfather as she would have liked, he always made her feel special.

“When I did spend time with him, he made sure to treat me like I was the most important person in the world and would even tell adults: ‘my granddaughter’s talking, please listen to my granddaughter,’” she recalled. “And it was amazing to be in his presence.”

Charlene Aleck, a councillor for Tsleil-Waututh Nation, echoed the sentiment about Manuel’s strong presence, comparing him to a “grizzly bear” in the way he held himself and spoke. She recalled visiting Manuel’s home often as a child because their parents were close friends.

“I remember just sitting on the floor listening to him,” she said.

“Just hearing how the politics of where he came from was something that was so old but the way he was carrying it and delivering it was this bright, new shining light that I knew I wanted to follow.”

Grand Chief Phillip went on to say that George has left a strong legacy through his family, as well as all of the other people who he inspired to become powerful activists and leaders in their own right.

“It’s very comforting to know that the entire Canadian population will be looking at George when they put a stamp on their mail,” he said.

The stamp will be released on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, along with two more featuring Nellie Cournoyea and Thelma Chalifoux.

With files from Lauren Kaljur

The post Trailblazing Secwépemc leader George Manuel memorialized on Canada Post stamp appeared first on IndigiNews.

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SD67 career fair connects Indigenous students with professional mentors




From left: Whitney Cardenas, Chris Ingle and Jaden Sampson were at the career fair with PIB’s fire department. Photo by Athena Bonneau

During a career fair in “Penticton” last week, Indigenous secondary school students heard from 26 mentors working in different industries — giving the Youth an opportunity to learn about various professional pathways.

The event was the first-ever Indigenous Career Fair held by School District 67’s (SD67) Indigenous Parent Group, planned in collaboration with the district’s Indigenous Education Program and held at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

It aimed to bridge the gap between post-secondary aspirations and alternative career paths, and set Indigenous Youth up for success after high school.

The Youth learned about various industries from professionals including water technicians, Youth and family workers, teachers, artists and more. 

Along with covering the event as a journalist on Nov. 16, I also represented my industry as a mentor, talking to the Youth in Grades 8 to 12 about my career as a freelance storyteller contributing to IndigiNews and Global Okanagan. I shared with them what it means to me to tell these impactful stories as a member of Penticton Indian Band (PIB).

Another of the mentors, Whitney Cardenas, is also a member of PIB and works for the nation’s fire department. She told me that before she became a firefighter, attended a similar career fair to explore different job paths.

Now, she is eager to encourage the next generation of Indigenous Youth who are trying to decide which career path to choose.

“I’m pretty proud of myself to be named as one of the Indigenous role models, and I’m excited to talk to the Youth and tell them why I do what I do,” said Cardenas.

“I’m here to help encourage them to know that there are options out there and how easy it is to get into these careers and how they can make a living.”

Students at SD67’s Indigenous Career Fair at Princess Margaret Secondary School on Nov 16. Photo by Athena Bonneau

As a mother of two young children, Cardenas shared her passion for building a sense of community, emphasizing the importance of involving youth in trades for real-world experience. 

“I never saw myself in this position with the fire brigade but I love it. I feel it’s something that I’m going to continue doing for a long while,” said Cardenas.

Cardenas encouraged Youth who may be interested in the trades to “come as you are and experience it firsthand” — embodying the inclusive and supportive spirit at the heart of the Indigenous Career Fair.

Dustin Hyde, the District Principal of Indigenous Education and Equity for SD67, highlighted the importance of broad representation of Indigenous workers across different sectors at the event.

“There was a parent who said, ‘my daughter wants to study medicine’ and it would be wonderful if there was an Indigenous doctor here,” said Hyde, who is Métis.

“We plan to broaden our role models next year and the hope and the dream would be that we just continue to offer more opportunities.”

Christy Tiessen, a member of the Indigenous Parent Group and organizer of the Career Fair, said the group will continue to meet monthly to find different ways to encourage Indigenous youth to see themselves in different career paths aside from only the traditional university route.

“If one kid walked out of here tonight and says, ‘I know what I want to do, that’s what I’m going to do’ and now they have a passion to move forward — that’s the goal,” said Tiessen.

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For 18-year-old syilx basketball star, sports and mental health intersect




sk’ik’aycin Peter Waardenburg Jr., an 18-year-old syilx Youth from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, pictured at Westbank First Nation’s (WFN) basketball court on Nov. 3. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Just down the road from where sk’ik’aycin Peter Waardenburg Jr. grew up is one of his favourite safe spaces — the Westbank First Nation’s (WFN) basketball court.

The sport is more than just a means of keeping active or staying connected with his community — it’s his go-to coping mechanism to help navigate whatever challenges may present themselves. 

So whenever he needs to clear his mind and ground himself, the 18-year-old will head to outdoor facility in syilx homelands and spend time shooting hoops. 

“Whenever I feel down or need to feel motivated, I’ll come out,” says Waardenburg Jr., who is a member of Lower Similkameen Indian Band. 

“It allows me to get away from whatever I need, to create a space for myself.”

Waardenburg Jr. was raised by a community of basketball players. His family started Syilx Basketball long before he was born — some of his earliest memories are of him watching his older brother Treyton, his older cousins and his dad play.

In addition to Treyton, his favourites included local Syilx Basketball league legends Jesse Vissia and Skye Terbasket, with his mom even gifting him a poster of the latter for Christmas one year.

“I always liked to watch and analyze more than I liked to play when I was younger. I was a little shy,” he recalled.

But Waardenburg Jr. was playing ball by the time he was five years old. Throughout his 13-year career, he’s generally played the point guard position, sometimes switching to shooting guard if needed. 

At one point, he also played competitive baseball, where his time as a pitcher taught him patience and how to keep himself calm.

“That helped me later on with basketball: being a point guard and calm on the floor, kind of leading,” he said.

Basketball has introduced him to a new world of different clubs, tournaments and communities throughout North America — he’s played with the Jr. Heat Boys Basketball Club, Okanagan Valley Elite, GW Hoops, the Similkameen Men’s team, and Syilx Basketball for both the Junior and regular All Native Basketball tournaments.

He’s also represented Team BC twice in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) — first in 2017, where the team placed second, and this past spring, where he was the starting point guard for the team, who finished third.

In 2022, he was part of the Syilx Basketball team that won the All Native Youth Basketball Tournament, which also saw him earn the MVP award. He competed again in this year’s Junior All Native, where he was the top scorer and was named an all-star, helping his team place second.

“Basketball allowed me to stay connected, especially to culture. With the All Native and with the Junior All Native, it brings you towards different tribes and bands,” he said.

A special highlight in his career was when he played with his older brother and his younger brother on a Men’s Similkameen Basketball team that his dad coached. 

“When you’re surrounded by friends and family, and they’re playing basketball, it just makes you realize how much you’re loved,” he said.

This past August, Waardenburg Jr. was named as one of three syilx Okanagan recent high school graduates to receive a Syilx Siya Bursary Award from the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), for demonstrating “a willingness to dream big for themselves, their Nation, their community, and/or their family.”

Applicants for the bursary award were tasked with writing about overcoming a difficult moment in their lives. In his application, he wrote about losing his cousins to mental health challenges and how sports — basketball in particular — helped him cope.

“I definitely believe sports help with mental health. I’ve seen it help me through the roughest times,” said Waardenburg Jr., who graduated from Mount Boucherie Secondary School.

He said while opening up about loss was difficult, he has worked through many of the emotions involved with the grieving process. 

“My two bros that I lost, they played a lot of basketball. I grew up playing with them,” he said.

Now, he is working his way through his first-year studies at Okanagan College’s business administration program. Waardenburg Jr. said he’s keen on promoting Indigenous sports more — he said he’d like to teach and coach other Indigenous Youth someday.

Speaking from his own experience, he encouraged those struggling with mental health to try and pick up a sport because you never know who you’ll meet that may help you down the road.

“It can also just make you realize that there’s more to life,” he said.

“Honestly, it could save someone.”

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Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc celebrates grand opening of on-reserve grocery store: ‘a source of pride’




The Sweláps Market features Secwépemc language and culturally-influenced architecture. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (TteS) is celebrating a new community-owned grocery store that’s bringing food options and employment opportunities to the reserve. 

The grand opening for the new Sweláps Market is set to take place on Thursday at 11 a.m., and will include speeches and a ceremonial ribbon cutting. It will also feature week-long deals and prize draws, giveaways and food samples. 

The Sweláps Market is located in the Chief Louis Centre, and had its soft opening on Oct. 19.

The market is owned by TteS but is open to everyone. The store displays signs in Secwepemctsín (Secwépemc language) including a welcoming of Weyt-kp above the front door. 

The language also labels each department of the store such as q̓wlem (bakery) and ts̓i7 ell swewll (meat and fish). 

On the market’s website, each department is listed with audio files to hear the proper pronunciation.

Sweláps translates to “bighorn sheep” and the logo represents the sheep’s horn among the mountains and North and South Thompson rivers.

The 22,000-square-foot grocery store incorporates culture into the architecture, including a Secwépemc weaving design on the ceiling and a wooden ladder outside which resembles the entrance of a pithouse. 

After the ladder was carved on-site by Charles Dumont, the owner of Coyote Contracting and a TteS band member, and his son Ryder — a ceremony was held to bless the log as it was put into place. 

General manager Kara Stokes spoke about the importance of having a market in the community, given that, before now, the closest grocery store was off-reserve and across the river.

The vision for a band-owned grocery store goes back ten years, Stokes recalled, with multiple locations explored before settling on the Chief Louis Centre.

Before the store’s opening, Kúkwpi7 Rosanne Casimir expressed high hopes for the store’s impact.

“This project will bring food closer to home, create employment, and further strengthen our economy,” she said in a community statement. “It will be a source of pride as leadership is fully implementing a community driven opportunity.” 

Before opening, the public was kept up to date through updates and upcoming events listed on the market’s website.

A members-only job fair was held in September to give band members a chance to explore the job opportunities before opening it up to the public.

Between full-time and part-time job openings, the market employs a total of 65 people in management and frontline positions.

Stokes explained that the job openings are a helpful addition for TteS. 

“That opens up the opportunity for a lot of people who live in the area to be able to work in the area,” she said.

Since the store opened to the public last month, Stokes said she has served customers of all ages and varying family sizes. The market is currently open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

“Everybody’s been coming in and shopping and it’s really amazing to see the support from the community to be able to provide this service,” she said.

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