Information – access to it, or access denied – has long been at the root of how communities have expressed who they are, to themselves and outsiders. The oral traditions of First Nations have been – for hundreds of years – cherished and deeply respected ways of communicating complex information about culture, politics, the environment, and what we now call economics.
After European contact, these oral communications were given less and less weight, and First Nations were put at a profound disadvantage in negotiating about their lands and resources. Just a few years ago, I remember talking to a provincial cabinet minister about forestry operations that were going to have a serious negative impact on Algonquin lands and the Algonquins’ ability to sustain themselves. The minister said, “Prove it to me!” Clearly, words were not sufficient. That was a seminal moment in my life, and in my work. Read More