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Review: The Winter We Danced

Valerie Lannon

May 16, 2014

Manitoba’s Kino-nda-niimi Collective has created an invaluable resource with the recently-published book, The Winter We Danced (ARP books, Winnipeg). This is a treasure trove of photos, poems, stories and essays, in all about 120 entries that capture the emotions and ideas of indigenous pride and resistance that fuel the Idle No More movement.
The title is derived from the round dances organized in numerous cities and towns across Canada in late 2012 and early 2013, in both outdoor and indoor locations like shopping malls. The intent was to provide an opportunity for both indigenous and settler peoples to celebrate indigenous rights. They were hugely successful and were quickly supplemented with all kinds of educational discussions on campus and in community centres, which continued to draw both indigenous and non-indigenous participants.
Some indigenous authors’ names are familiar due to their exposure in mainstream media over well-fought campaigns, e.g. Ellen Gabriel, Winano LaDuke, INM founders (Jessica Gordon), Taiaiake Alfred, Wab Kinew, Hayden King, and BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond.
Others are long-time indigenous activists (several of whom have blogs) like Russell Diabo, Clayton Thomas-Muller, and Chelsea Vowel.
While most contributors are indigenous, space was also made for statements from allies including the letter of support to Chief Theresa Spence from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and authors such as Ethan Cox, Naomi Klein, and Judy Rebick.
The chapter “Friendships” demonstrates the remarkable outreach undertaken by INM, not only to settlers in general but to other oppressed communities, for example the article entitled “Idle No More Organizers Reach Out to Queer Community.”
The final chapter, “New Directions” contains thoughtful assessments of both the success and the limitations of INM’s first year of existence, as well as suggested strategies for the future. Suggestions are made about the continuing leadership role of indigenous women, and the need to defend traditional territories.
This highly accessible volume is suggested reading for everyone.
If you like this aritcle, register for Marxism 2014: Resisting a System in Crisis, a weekend-long political conference June 14-15 in Toronto. Sessions include "Today's resistance to the genocide of Indigenous people," "Environmental racism and climate justice,"  and "Socialism and indigenous sovereignty"

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