Wawatay News will be 45 years old on January 21, 2019, and it is an honour to carry forward what our ancestors, Elders, current staff, admin and board have been working towards since its inception. In the spirit of furthering the mandate to ‘preserve and enhance’ the languages of the Nishinawbe Aski Nation, we must consider how we utilize our network. Ultimately it is our radio broadcasts that carry the responsibility of the mandate fully, and Wawatay News print and online has been predominantly produced in English with articles translated into syllabics. Over the years, and currently, we have had some great writers producing for Wawatay. To name of few, the late Richard Wagamese, Xavier Kataquapit, Rick Garrick and many others who have went off to work for mainstream media companies. What these writers did was tackle the issues and concerns that affect our communities and did it eloquently.
My journey to Wawatay has been a triumphant roller coaster ride and more so a calling, as was my education. My intention was to study journalism, however that year the college had discontinued the program and it was suggested I attend the local University and study English Literature, so off I went. Right, wrong or otherwise my heart was followed and the mistakes and successes were come by honestly. The right was the light in my life and signifies the successes, but they could have only been established by walking through the darkness. The wrongs signified the darkness in my life and it unpleasantly ushered in the unbearable heartache of becoming aware of inherited inter-generational dysfunctions and the anguishing unlearning of ill learnt behaviours. As uncomfortable as it was, it did cut a trail for me from the darkness to illumination, essentially sealing my fate and bringing me full circle to journalism, media and Wawatay, twice.
As an Indian Residential School inter-generational survivor, as well as having the great honour of cutting my teeth in Administration and working in that portfolio some years ago, I learned about what happened there and the understanding of imposed dysfunctions. Many families were affected and many continue to deal with these issues and concerns today. If we can share stories and means of walking out of the darkness then I believe we are obligated to help one another regardless of the many imposed divisions, always knowing that we are families first, and primordial- no one is to be left behind.
What we hope to provide with this new Publisher’s Note is inspire those in the communities who would like to write about their homeland and the issues and concerns that directly affect their families and communities. We hope to inspire those that want to be a voice for their community, to tackle the hard issues and expose the darkness to light that will help anyone out of a rut or be a beacon for those still struggling in the dark.
It is essential to understand the power of language. The people should know the difference between an ancient language connected to the land that dates back thousands, and the mosaic melting pot of the ambiguous English language. Think of it this way, English in the form used in today’s society is less than 500 hundred years old.
The English language is polarizing and divisive in nature, it is adversarial and in many ways demeaning. For example, within the mainstream media Canadians are defined as citizens, whereas within the context of Nish society we are recognized as members. Wikidiff.com states, “As nouns the difference between member and citizen is that member is one who officially belongs to a group while citizen is a person who is legally recognized as a member of a state, with associated rights and obligations.” So we must use language that empowers us, not demean. In saying this, we will edit any articles that contain the word ‘member’ when describing a citizen of NAN, because our spirits and the spirits of our ancestors come from this land for time immemorial, and we are citizens of our Nations.