80 - Taking the Road Back: From Wampum Belt Promises to Highway Blockades

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

We often hear of the difficult situation on aboriginal reserves and
in their communities. For many of us, our vision is characterised by
media reports of poverty, unemployment, leadership disputes and
internal divisions.

We also hear their calls for treaty rights and other signed
agreements to be respected by the federal government. We see their
protests and actions to put pressure on the government after what is
seen as years, even decades, of foot-dragging and outright disregard.
But these stories are often divorced from a discussion of the impacts
that decades and centuries of colonialism has had.

Last summer when the Canadian government formally apologized for the
horrors of the residential school system there was a rare break is the
conventional discussion. Both government officials and the media made
reference to how the historical abuses of the residential school system
had contributed to the current struggles facing most First Nations
communities across Canada.

But those links are often both quickly forgotten and rarely discussed.

When members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake blockaded a
major highway in northern Quebec twice this past year, there was little
discussion in any venue about the historical context that would bring
members of a small, northern Algonquin community to initiate a blockade
and face the harsh repercussions. In episode 80 of the CitizenShift
podcast, Montreal journalist and member of Barriere Lake Solidarity
Courtney Kirkby delves into this history, from before the first
encounters and treaties with European settlers to their current
struggle to have management and say over their land and their community.

As always, if you have any thoughts or comments on this issue, we'dencourageyou to post them on our site: http://citizen.nfb.ca/podcasts.

To find more media on First Nations and aboriginal rights and culture in Canada, visit CitizenShift's two dossiers on the topic: Language Lost, on the struggle to maintain native languages in Canada, and Rebel With a Cause: Alanis Obomsawin, a look back at the work and career of this groundbreaking aboriginal filmmaker. For more on Barriere Lake, visit barrierelakesolidairty.blogspot.com.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.