Everyone's Canada

I was recently asked to share my story for the newly formed non-profit called Everyone’s Canada, which is based in Edmonton, Alberta. This organization is highlighting individuals from across Canada with the aim of challenging the narratives about belonging in Canada. I was not quite sure what I wanted to write about after being asked, but after watching an episode of “This is Us” on television, I felt inspired to write about what I knew— my own experience, my family and how they inspire me.

Here’s my post below:

“What does it mean to be a Ts’msyen and Dene citizen. These are questions that my supervisor Dr. Val Napoleon has tasked me with, when thinking critically about the countless ways in which it means to be a Canadian citizen or how Canadian law is enacted. But what does it mean for Indigenous law to be practiced? There are certain rights, responsibilities, and obligations that I have as a Ts’msyen citizen, that is part of the Ts’msyen legal system. I am part of the Ts’msyen nation on my mothers side of the family. I am also Dene with Métis ancestry from my father’s side of the family.

Within the last generations of my family, there was a move from the North to the South. My grandmother moved from the small Ts’msyen community of Lax Kw’alaams to Prince Rupert in Northern British Columbia. She then moved to Vancouver along with my mother and most her family in the 1960s. My late father was from a small Dene community along the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories called Łutselk’e. Much of my father’s side of the family continue to live in Yellowknife. But after my father left residential school he ended up in Vancouver, which is where he met my mom. I was born and raised in Vancouver until I finished law school. I moved to Toronto to article at Aboriginal Legal Services, and later worked as a human rights lawyer. I was not the first person to go to law school in my family. My aunty Valerie Conrad went to the University of Victoria and graduated with her law degree. I have so many aunties that inspire and support me to be a critically engaged person and continue to ask these difficult questions.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I come from a long line of very strong, resilient, and brilliant woman. They have passed down teachings from their mothers and instilled in me a strong sense of dignity and pride in what it means to be both Ts’msyen and Dene. To me, this is part of what it means to be a Ts’msyen and Dene citizen.” — Christina, Victoria/Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples territory

'Postable' YouTube Video

In July of 2019, I was asked to be interviewed on the issue of reconciliation and election issues for a new PostMedia YouTube channel called ‘Postable’. I didn’t think I would be able to be interviewed, as I was not in Toronto where the interviewer was located. However, I was accommodated by being interviewed by Google Chat and FaceTime. It was somewhat difficult to be interviewed, as I had frequent connection issues. The finished video turned out well and offers a range of Indigenous people’s experiences and political issues.

The YouTube video is called “The Lost Children: A Canadian Cover-Up”. Manuela Vega interviewed myself along with Lee Maracle, Tara Williamson, Eddy Robinson, Tavia Christina, and Michael Ethrington were interviewed as well. A small but eloquent, strong, and smart sample of some of Indigenous folks and their experiences.

Watch the video here:

CBC Ideas interview aired - Five Freedoms: Freedom from Oppression

The CBC Ideas panel interview with host Paul Kennedy along with the other panelists, lawyer Eloge Butera, and Ontario MPP Bhutila Karpoche, aired here on April 9th, 2019.

It was funny because I didn’t realize that this interview had aired until someone I was emailing told me that they had heard me on national radio a few weeks after the fact. This interview aired during a very busy period in my life, as I was finishing up my legal methodology course at the University of Victoria and I was busily trying to finish a number of papers due for my class.

I told my friend about this interview that I generally prefer not to watch or listen to any interviews of myself after the fact. My friend asked me— how I could improve in the future? I didn’t know the answer because I had not listened to the interview. I had already lived the experience of the interview, so why did I need to listen to it is what I said.

My friend had convinced me to listen to the interview and so a few days later, I was at home and finally got up the nerve to listen to this podcast. I lit some candles, turned on the fairy lights, and got under the covers to listen to the podcast from start to finish. I was really happy with the way that the producers had artfully crafted this panel interview into a cohesive work of art.

Even though I did this interview almost eight months prior, I could still feel the excitement and nervousness that I felt on that day. But one thing that was quite different from that day was that I no longer remembered the many thoughts that were whirling around my head. I just could focus on what was being said, which in my mind was a blessing. I guess now in the future, I’ll put more consideration into listening to my interviews after they happen.

CBC: Daybreak North Interview

On February 15th, 2019, I was interviewed for CBC’s Daybreak North by Carolina de Ryk about my legal research as a junior scholar, involvement with the Yellowhead Institute as a Research Fellow, the importance of the Yellowhead Institute, and our event in Prince Rupert during the 60th All Native Basketball Tournament, which was held that same day.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Yellowhead Institute, it’s an Indigenous-led think tank based out of Ryerson University. They publish policy briefs and reports on Indigenous issues from across Canada. When the Yellowhead Institute launched in September, I became part of their inaugural group of Research Fellows. I will be publishing with them in the near future.

Listen to my interview here to learn more about it! I was interviewed at 1:49 minutes into the taping.

CBC Ideas: Freedom from Oppression

On July 28th, 2018, I participated in a live taping of a panel discussion with host Paul Kennedy of CBC Ideas on the topic of Freedom from Oppression at Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. The panel consisted of myself and two highly esteemed individuals, Bhutila Karpoche, Ontario NDP MPP, and Eloge Butera, a lawyer and former Rwandan refugee. It was a real pleasure to be able to participate in this highly evocative panel and learn more about Bhutila and Eloge’s experiences as well.

I’ve decided to share it on my blog.

Oppression takes many forms. It can be political as well as cultural, there's the weight of inherited oppression, and there's the question of how oppression shapes who we are, both individually and collectively.