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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 - The year in review

Last year's newsmaker of the year for 2011, Chief Teresa Spence deserves to be acknowledged as the individual newsmaker of the year. But Newsmaker of the Year has to go to the Idlenomore Movement, the grassroots and online revolution that is growing everyday. It was the year in which the people stood up and declared, we will be idle no more. Where will the movement go in 2013 will be the testament of whether it comes to an end or becomes the change we seek. A revolution of spirit and ideas and vision exercised in every action.

Another social media campaign brought attention to the issue of Native American mascots on sports teams. Ian Campeau aka DJ NDN of a Tribe Called Red started a facebook and social media campaign to pressure the Nepean Redskins. Metro is the largest and most widely distributed free daily newspaper in Canada. On it's website it asked readers if the Nepean Redskins should change their name because it was racist. Almost  85% of responsdents said the name was racist and should be changed.
A Tribe Called Red recorded Canada's new championship anthem according to a poll on CBC Radio. Their song Electric Powwow   was not just the championship anthem it was the anthem of the summer of 2012.


It was a great year for music with standout releases by Plex (Demons), Janet Panic (Samples), Chrystal Shawanda (Just like you) which included my choice for single of the year, Fight For Me.

Bear Creek has nailed it with their  album Right Now. The drum group from Sault Ste. Marie  has written an anthem of their own with "Together Again".

Why is Don Amero not huge? The Winnipeg boy has got it all. Great songs, great voice, great looks and charisma to burn. His album "Heart on my sleeve" lives up to its name. The songs are intimate and almost too sincere but Amero's honesty carries the songs to another level. Beautiful work, world class pop.

My favourite record of the year was the soundtrack to the Documentary "Searching for Sugarman" one of the most inspiring films of recent memory. 

It was my good fortune to work with the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival this year and had a chance to see some films that are not easily available outside of Native film festivals. I thought that Smoke Traders was the most controversial and compelling documentaries I have seen in a while. The protagonist in the film is challenging First Nations across Canada to seize their rights and participate in a potentially multi-billion dollar a year business.

My favourite film of the festival and huge audience favourite is the mockumentary More than Frybread, The film is "llol" literally laugh out loud funny. It is also endlessly quotable - "The wolves will even cry when they hear his name."  "He's the Jim Morrison of frybread." "There's a reason it's called Navajo Frybread, because Navajo Frybread is the best." "It's not about being overconfident it's what I call visionary."

Flooding Hope - The Lake St. Martin Story is the heartbreaking story of the intentional flooding of the Manitoba First Nation by the province of Manitoba.

The opening night film with actors Chaske Spencer and Tantoo Cardinal in attendance was Shouting Secrets.  A family drama that was not written for a Native American family but which evolved into a Native American family during development. The performances are wonderful across the board and the use of a cellphone message in this indie film is one that I bet will be seen in some big Hollywood film down the road.

Dakota 38 is the story of the largest mass execution in the United States. Under the orders of Abraham Lincoln, 38 members of the Dakota Sioux nation were hung at the same time on a massive gallows built for that sole purpose. It's the Lincoln film that Steven Spielberg doesn't want you to see.

In another story that lit up the twitterverse, Justin Beiber declared his Native heritage in Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately he described his lineage as "enough to get free gas". The teenybop star's comments inspired a pilebag from all corners with many Native people joining in the fun. Was that really necessary? He's a kid. The fact that he is acknowledging his ancestry is a good thing. Do you honestly believe that there aren't many young Native youth who have as little understanding of their own heritage, history and rights. Beiber's comments were a condemnation of the Canadian education system more than anything else.

And finally, the feel good story of the year, Native boys bring home the cup.  Jordan Nolan (Ojibway) and Dwight King (Metis) were part of the surprising Los Angeles Kings team that brought the City of Angels its first ever Stanley Cup. In the celebrations every member gets to take the cup home. Which also gets my vote for image of the year and it was the picture of Jordan Nolan holding the Stanley Cup over his head while standing on a bridge with the words "This is Indian Land" painted on it. Come on Toronto Maple Leafs think about it, the last time you won the cup, George Armstrong was the captain.