To Act or Not to Act That is The Question

Chief Shawn Atleo

The Indian Act was established in 1876 by the Canadian government. It was a piece of legislation that determined who and Indian was, and what they could and could not do. Treaties were signed prior to this, and were deemed insufficient in controlling Indian populations in Canada, as they created rights and relationships between Canada and the respective First Nations. Probably the most important law in the Act was the statement that the Crown and Government of Canada have “control over Indians and lands reserved for Indians.” Essentially it denied any form of self-determination for First Nations in Canada.

Beyond being a simple power and control mechanism for the Government, the Indian Act was also a powerful tool of colonization and assimilation. For example, an Indian could not leave their reservation without consent from the Indian Agent. They could not gather in groups of three or more, and ceremonies and other cultural gatherings were strictly forbidden by the law. An important function of the Act was to determine who was a status Indian and who was not. These rules were often discriminatory towards women and their children, and were based on arbitrary rules concerning paternity and blood quantum.

Despite several changes to the Indian Act such as Bill C-31, there is still a great deal of powerlessness in First Nations communities. Of course, it is no longer illegal for Indians to have ceremonies and cultural gatherings, and the position of the Indian Agent has now been abolished, but most of the decisions made on First Nations land must be approved by the Department of Indian Affairs. This can be anything from band budgets, to membership, to housing. Essentially, the intention of the original Treaties for First Nations to maintain a healthy degree of self-determination has been broken by this one piece of legislation.

Given the history and the current realities of the Indian Act, when Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo advocates to the Federal Government his wishes to completely abolish the outdated document, you would think it would be cause for celebration in Indian Country. There are many supporters of this vision, as it would create the space to renegotiate terms for self-governance, and hopefully put First Nations and Canada on a more level playing field. However, in 1969 Jean Cretien (at that time Minister of Indian Affairs) created the White Paper. This proposed legislation would also abolish the Indian Act in hopes of creating equality between First Nations citizens and the rest of Canada. What it also did was disregard all of the treaties as well as the inherent rights that Aboriginal people have as a result of their history as Canada’s original people. As a result, First Nations communities vehemently fought the proposed law and it was never passed. Alan Cairns wrote his popular response to the movement with “Citizens Plus”, which would become commonly known as the Red Paper.

Like all Indigenous issues and politics in Canada, there is a great deal of history and complexities that need to be considered. Perhaps the dismantling of the Indian Act is the most positive way forward for First Nations communities in Canada, though the decision is wrought with well-founded fear and mistrust of Canadian leadership. I hope this article has clarified some of the things that you may hear in the news, and give you a more informed decision. The relationship between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada is everyone’s responsibility, and I encourage everyone to join the discussion about this new and exciting time in our history.

Caesar Another Great Canadian

Clam juice in a cocktail? You can’t be serious? This is usually followed by a polite and perplexed look of disgust from the foreigner. After attempting to convince them that it is just like a Bloody Mary but way better they give you the blank stare; The sales pitch rarely works. The Bloody Caesar cocktail is a truly Canadian phenomenon. It is understandably difficult for outsiders to get past what some describe as “the clam barrier”.

The Bloody Caesar, or Caesar for short, is a cocktail that typically combines vodka and Clamato juice with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, and salt and pepper in a celery salt rimmed glass garnished with a stick of celery and a lime wedge.

The obvious question is how on earth did someone come up with the idea to add clam juice to a cocktail? Adding a lime seems normal but adding clam juice sounds like an industrial kitchen accident or a prank.

Walter Chell was a bartender at an Italian restaurant in what is now a Westin in Calgary. In 1969 he was asked to create a signature drink for his restaurant. Like most great mixologist, Walter was a fine cook. The drink’s inspiration came from a dish he tried in Venice called Spaghetti alle vongole, that is, Spaghetti in a tomato clam sauce. He spent three months perfecting the drink and mashed many clams to obtain its nectar. I am sure that he got a lot of concerned stares from his coworkers. As man was landing on the Moon the planets were also aligning that same year as the Mott’s company was simultaneously developing Clamato, its mix of clam and tomato juice. Destiny.

The drink’s name apparently comes from his own Italian ancestry and is obviously fitting for his employer’s restaurant. According to the creator’s granddaughter the final “bloody” touch was added by an English patron, “That’s a bloody good Caesar”!

The drink was an instant hit at the restaurant. My guess is that Chell probably did not tell anybody what was in it until after they were hooked. It quickly spread across Western Canada and then to the East and has not waned in popularity since. In 2009 Caesar celebrated his fortieth birthday in Canada and the Mayor of Calgary declared May 13, 2009 as Caesar Day in the city. Good man. A marketing campaign was launched by Mott’s to make it Canada’s official mixed cocktail, and numerous attempts to popularize the drink outside of Canada were attempted without avail.

I wonder if Will and Kate tried one on their recent Canadian stopover? A Mountie on the tarmac passing them a Caesar after they descended the plane’s stairs in Slave Lake would have been a fitting Canadian greeting. A nice lift after all those flights.

Bloody Caesar

1 ½ oz Vodka

6 oz Clamato Juice

2 dashes hot sauce

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

3 dashes salt and pepper

To make a Caesar, rim a highball glass with celery salt and fill with ice. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir and garnish with a lime and a stick of celery. Raise your glass and toast, “Long live Caesar.” Optional.

The Growers Cider Company

By: Doris Miculan Bradley

The Growers Cider Company planted their roots in British Columbia in1927. With a goal to produce and showcase the best cider and wines the country has to offer, Growers had a tall order to fill. The family of apple based ciders are available as natural or flavoured ciders including Açai Berry, Apple Lime, Blueberry, Extra Dry Apple, Granny Smith, Nectarine, Orchard Berry, Passion Fruit, Peach, Pear, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Red Ruby Grapefruit and White Cranberry.

The history of global cider production can be traced back to 1300BC where apples were grown on the Nile River Delta. Historians have yet to prove that cider was produced for human consumption but nature would claim rudimentary cider production when apples fell from trees and naturally fermented in the blazing sun from falling off the tree on to the ground allowing for a tasty, intoxicating treat for rabbits, birds and any other creature brave enough to taste it. Although cider production is documented as far back as 55BC, it was Medieval Times where cider production amounted to commerce and wages. Canada, ,

Fast track to 2010 the `smart Canuck` company Growers Cider Company launch the clever introductory ` Go Au Naturale’ campaign in Ontario which resulted in a 13% growth in sales from 2009, outpacing the growth in the overall Canadian cider industry by 7%.The idea was to feature the clean taste and natural production methods for the ciders. With the average cider caloric content 187 calories for a 341 ml bottle, consumers also enjoy zero sugar, zero carbs. (It should be noted that the average cider hosts 7% alcohol which could lead to ill-health if over consumed or consumed with medication.) The “Eve” campaign in British Columbia spoke to the ` vestal fresh` apple cider taste experience while stirring up a little sex appeal in collectable label graphics.

The company remains true to their base product, apple cider while appealing to millennial market demands.

Food Friendly Pairings

Growers Peach Sweet, tree-ripened, creamy and natural peach flavour make up this sweet and refreshing cider. Try alongside Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Barbecue Sauce.

Contact The Growers Cider Company

Please call: 877.919.7587

Do you have a favourite Canadian brewery that you would like me to write about? E-mail me directly at

A Great Canadian Thomas Clement Douglas

It’s the twentieth of October 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland. Annie Clement brings her son Thomas Clement Douglas into the world. This night holds the wonder of birth and new life, but untouched is the notion that this child would become the man who would bring revolutionary ideas to reality in Saskatchewan and eventually most of Canada. Six years later the family would immigrate to Canada, but not before little Tommy has a fall and badly injures his knee. He undergoes a surgery before they leave Scotland. When the family arrives in Winnipeg, Manitoba the injury flares up again and his parents are told they will need to amputate his entire leg. Luckily for Tommy a good-willed doctor hears of the situation and intervenes. This experience opens their eyes to the world of healthcare and its inaccessibility to the majority of the Canadian Citizens.

As a young man Tommy was full of ambition and dreams, he worked hard, even dropping out of school to pursue a job. During this time he attended night school to continue to educate himself and eventually decides to return to full time school to become an ordained minister. In 1924, the 19-year old Douglas started at Brandon College to work towards becoming a minister. During the six years he attended the school he was strongly influenced by the Social Gospel, a term referring to the movement of Christian values combined with social reform. The professors at the College challenged the students to think critically and question their fundamental beliefs, arguing Christianity was just as concerned with social justice as salvation. This is a revolutionary idea in itself, to most Christians.

When Douglas graduated from College he settled in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. At the time was the most impoverished province of the country. Douglas arrived with high hopes, a young wife and the untarnished idealism of youth. He was the minister of the Calvary Baptist Church. With the Depression looming in the near future Douglas became one of the leading activists in the area, joining the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Foundation). He endeavored to practice what he preached. In the election of 1935, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons. The passion and inability to stand by had led him from the pulpit to a life of politics and participation.

With charisma and passion Douglas led the CCF to power in Canada. In the elections of 1944, the party won forty-seven of fifty-three seats in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. They formed the first democratic Socialist government in Canada and the idea spread to all of North America. 1953, Douglas was the premiere of Saskatchewan and as such attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II that June. He would go on to win the next five consecutive provincial elections up to the year 1960. During his time in office he kept his promises to the province, he brought about changes such as SGI, the same one we still buy our insurance from, a Power Corporation that extended the reach of electricity, a program to offer free hospital care to all citizens- the very first in Canada, and the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, which preceded the Universal Human Bill of Rights by eighteen months. It was clear to see this man had grand ideas for the good of people, but not only that, he brought them to life in Saskatchewan, the poorest of poor at the time.

Tommy Douglas’ biggest and most important contribution to the Country was the innovation and creation of Medicare. This was the idea that possessed him most strongly. Douglas put all of his effort into making this vision become reality. In the summer of 1962, Medicare was the forefront issue between the Saskatchewan Government, the North American medical establishment and the healthcare practitioners of the province. The physicians of Saskatchewan went on Strike called the 1962 Doctor’s strike and put the battle on hold. They were convinced their interests were being overlooked, and the change would incur an income decrease and unnecessary government interference in medical decisions, despite Tommy’s promise that this wouldn’t happen. The Medicare Dream had plenty of opposition at the time, mostly the medical establishment that believed they were going to be put out of work by bringing in cheaper foreign workers to make Medicare happen. The opposition used a lot of racist imagery to try to scare the public out of the idea. At this time, however, the issue was brought to federal light and despite Douglas no longer being in office (he had retired in 1961) the bill was passed in 1962 after both John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson had helped out.

Written by: Tierra Marasse

Great Canadian Wild Herbs

There are an infinite number of plants that grow around our world. Many of which are edible, while a select few are not. Certain parts of the world have beautiful plants that grow year round, and others only seasonal. We, as humans, should be thankful for the abundance of such an array of foliage.

Many cultures and/or societies today practice horticultural etiquette which jeopardizes the very nature of some of these sustained permacultures. Several of us who live in the “Western World” have come to understand the plant world as selective or monoculturistic. We try our best to preserve a lawn or flower garden that is immaculate in design and look – all in the name of vanity. On the other hand, there is a group of individuals (which is continuously growing) whom are trying, in the best of their ability, to preserve the very beauty and essence of our natural ecosystems.

It is possible to find some of this wholesome goodness right in your own “backyard”. For many of us, it’s a matter of reconnecting with the earth and discovering all her beauty; to be thankful for the food and medicine she has provided to us all. CLICK HERE to watch a video where we show you a few wild herbs that grow in our very own backyard here in Canada. This, of course, is only possible if one does not cut their lawn, however, their are many national parks and green spaces available to us all which gives us the opportunity to go foraging – how exciting!

Further to some of the wild herbs pointed out in the video (i.e. salsify, red/white clover, sweetgrass, quackgrass, plantain, dandelion, bugleweed, burdock, chamomile, cham namul, skullcap), there are many others that I haven’t touched upon that grace our lands. Some others which grow in our part of the world (Canada) include: wild chive, fleabane, nettle, thistle, butter and eggs, goldenrod, black eyed susan, cone flower (aka echinacea), chicory, chickweed, ragweed, mullein, lily, wild mint, daisy, and a variety of ferns to name just a few. I encourage all of you (as nothing is impossible) to venture out in your backyard, or local park and see what beauty you can discover. Who knows, you may find something you have been long looking for.

Let’s be respectful of the earth (Gaia). She has provided us with a bounty of food and medicine for many eons without any demand for reciprocity. The least we can do is “take time and smell the roses”.

-Jordan and Kyla (check out their blog HERE)

Your question: What type of wild herbs grow in your part of the world? (post your comment below)