A Message from the Editors

Welcome to the belated second issue of Pimatisiwin for 2012.

Deadlines moved from winter, through spring and now fall, but we believe the wait has been worthwhile. This is a special issue of Pimatisiwin for several reasons: the theme, the focus on northern Canadian issues, and the sponsorship of this issue by the Tłįchǫ Government. The Tłįchǫ Government is an Aboriginal government established in 2005 with a Land Claim and Self Government Agreement that recognizes ownership of over 39,000 sq km of land in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Their purpose is to preserve, and protect their Aboriginal and Treaty rights including their Tłįchǫ language, culture, and way of life “for as long as the land shall last.” We have been told this sponsorship is a first for Pimatisiwin, and we welcome the Tłįchǫ Government’s support for Aboriginal and Indigenous community health research.

It is especially appropriate that they should sponsor this issue of Pimatisiwin. The theme is “Restorying Northern Issues from Within.” The wide ranging articles attest to the varieties of understanding that this theme encompasses. It could mean simply that we need to re-tell our stories from within the North. Why is this important? It is important because to a large extent northern stories, at least in the academic press, have been told by outsiders. People who are visitors, telling the stories of the people who have lived here for generations. So one interpretation of the theme of this issue is about the importance of doing it over, of ensuring that northern stories can be told by northerners themselves, about their land and their lives. It is important that their stories not only survive, but can thrive alongside the other stories of our country.

This is one of the powerful messages in the introductory interview of John B. Zoe conducted by Jim Martin. Dr. Zoe has had a preeminent role in the negotiation of the Tłįchǫ Agreement, and the creation and ongoing development of the Tłįchǫ Government. The Tłįchǫ Government is a testament to the demand by a distinct people to create a distinct institution of modern government. This institution is intended to tell the Tłįchǫ story from a “new” perspective, from what is typically heard in the North. It is in fact re-storying from within. Ironically this “new” perspective, is in fact a very old perspective. Through its very existence, the Tłįchǫ Government can ensure that this unique story will continue to be told. In the interview with John, he speaks of the importance of his people’s story as the story that was in danger of being left behind.

In 1994, a Tłįchǫ elder from Gamètì, Madeline Drybones also spoke to the importance of this theme.

The stories never die. We are still using the story. We live our lives like the stories. These stories are from my grandmothers, my grandfathers. I am talking with my grandparents’ stories. Their words are very important because they will help you live in the future. Their words will help you to think for yourselves. (Zoe, John B., ed. (2007). Trails of our Ancestors: Building a Nation. Behchokö: Tłįchǫ Government, p. 37)
This too speaks of re-storying from within.

The editors would like to thank Patti LaBoucane-Benson as the General Editor of Pimatisiwin, and Native Counseling Services of Alberta who make the online publication of this journal possible, and Dr. Nancy Gibson, a former General Editor of this journal whose facilitation and encouragement always got us through the difficult moments. As well, we must thank Laura Botsford whose editorial magic is responsible for bringing everything together in such an attractive, and compelling format.

We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We hope too that you find the articles practical and useful for your work in your communities.
(click on PDF to read more)

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