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  • Orville Lloyd Douglas is critical of Black Lives Matter on Pride, calling it out for being self-appointed representatives of black Canadians.

  • Alex McKeen writes in the Toronto Star about First Nations groups holding ongoing ceremonies in Queen's Park.

  • Betsy Powell, also in the Star, notes new restrictions and licensing Toronto is set to impose on Airbnb locally.

  • CBC notes that King Street is slated to become a street where transit, particularly streetcars, will have priority over other traffic.

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  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

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  • The Atlantic's Ed Yong notes the discovery of dated Homo sapiens fossils 300k years old in Morocco. (!)

  • The Atlantic reports on Twitter-driven science that has highlighted the remarkable visual acuity of the spider.

  • The Economist notes that multilingual societies can encounter more difficulties prospering than unilingual ones.

  • Torontoist notes a Thunder Bay park devoted to the idea of First Nations reconciliation.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on how gardens grown under solar tents in Bolivia can improve nutrition in poor highland villages.

  • The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume trolls Rob Ford's supporters over the new, well-designed, Etobicoke Civic Centre.Metro Toronto calculates just how many avocado toasts would go into a mortgage in the GTA.

  • MacLean's hosts a collection of twenty photos from gritty Niagara Falls, New York.

  • The National Post shows remarkable, heartbreaking photos from the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • Edward Keenan argues that the Toronto Islands' flooding should help prompt a local discussion on climate change.

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  • Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.

  • Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.

  • The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.

  • Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.

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Lori Blondeau, Asiniy Iskwew


Cree/Métis/Salteaux artist Lori Blondeau's Asiniy Iskwew, part of the Scotiabank Contact Festival, is on display in Devonian Square in the heart of Ryerson University's downtown campus.

Asiniy Iskwew (2016)—whose Cree words translate to “Rock Woman”—continues the artist’s interest in rocks connected to Indigenous traditions, such as petroforms (large stones or boulders outlining anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, or geometric forms), and rock art (paintings on or carvings into rock surfaces). In this series of photographs, Blondeau celebrates and gives homage to Plains Indigenous rock formations, significant ancient sites created for sacred and rite-of-passage ceremonies, and for recording battles and histories. She draws from oral histories of Mistaseni—a 400-tonne sacred boulder marking an important Indigenous gathering place that the Saskatchewan government dynamited in 1966 to make room for a man-made lake. Capturing performative interventions in the landscape, the images depict the artist standing statuesquely atop glacial boulders, draped in blood-red velvet cloth. Strong and solemn, her figure reflects the resilience of Indigenous cultures.

Situated in Devonian Square, a meeting place with a man-made pond in the centre of Ryerson’s campus, the photographs are seamlessly adhered to the contemporary site’s two-billion-year-old boulders imported from the Canadian Shield. The location resonates with its complex connections to the ancient sites of Blondeau’s research, as the Square serves as a gathering area, but one that is artificially constructed for an urban environment. This divergence points to issues of displacement and environmental preservation, offering a potent reminder of Toronto’s pre-colonial history and the controversial treaties that renounced Indigenous rights to ancestral lands. Here, Blondeau occupies the site—as if summoning its spirits—and proclaims (her) Indigenous history and irrefutable connection to the land.


Asiniy Iskwew in the background
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  • Bloomberg looks at the recent surge of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.

  • Culture.pl looks at why Nietzsche falsely claimed Polish ancestry.

  • Foreign Policy suggests that this is a new age of German prominence in the West.

  • The New Yorker finds Amazon's new brick-and-mortar bookstores lacking.

  • The Toronto Star shares claims that learning a second language provides mental benefits.

  • Universe Today notes the discovery of potentially habitable super-Earth Gliese 625 b.

  • Vice's Motherboard notes how the popularization of ayahuasca-driven spirit quests has actually hurt traditional users.

  • Vox notes the latest Russia-Ukraine history fight on Twitter.

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on asteroid P/2016 G1, a world that, after splitting, is now showing signs of a cometary tail.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers outrage as a sociological phenomenon. What, exactly, does it do? What does it change?

  • Joe. My. God. reports on a new push for same-sex marriage in Germany, coming from the SPD.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the Alabama government's disinterest in commemorating the Selma march for freedom.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Oxford University's attempt to recruit white British male students.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Masha Gessen warns against falling too readily into the trap of identifying conspiracies in dealing with Trump.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Muslims in Crimea according to the 1897 Russian census.

  • Savage Minds takes a brief look at ayahuasca, a ritual beverage of Andean indigenous peoples, and looks at how its legality in the United States remains complicated.

  • Elf Sternberg considers the problems of straight men with sex, and argues they might be especially trapped by a culture that makes it difficult for straight men to consider sex as anything but a birthright and an obligation.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers how the complexities of eminent domain might complicate the US-Mexican border wall.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on protests in Russia and argues Belarus is on the verge of something.

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The Toronto Star's Jesse Winter reports on how linguist Ryan DeCaire, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, is taking part in an ambitious revival of the Mohawk language.

When Ryan DeCaire was a kid, he couldn’t speak his own language.

Growing up in the Wahta Mohawk Territory near Bala, Ont., he’d often hear his elders speaking the mysterious tongue, but he never knew what they were saying.

“You’d hear it spoken sometimes, and you always wonder ‘oh, that’s my language but I can’t speak it,’ ” he says.

Now 29, DeCaire has not only learned to speak Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — but he’s leading a revival of it in the heart of downtown Toronto.

In July, DeCaire joined the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and the linguistics department as an assistant professor. He’s teaching the first-ever Mohawk language classes at the university, and helping to revive a language that eight years ago he feared might die out forever.
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  • Anthropology.net reports on the recent discovery in China of two skulls a hundred thousand years old, possible remnants of a hitherto-unknown hominid species.

  • blogTO reports on the boom in the Toronto tech community.

  • Language Log breaks down the linguistics, specifically word lengths, of audiobooks.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the difficult position of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the potential health benefits of substances in the blood of the Komodo dragon.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on the modernist photography of Berenice Abbott.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the adventures of the Mars rovers.

  • Supernova Condensate takes a quick look at Jupiter's moon, Io.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a new Russian film that transposes the superhero genre with the Soviet era, and argues that Russia is acting these days not as a constructive power but as a spoiler.

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At the Unviersity of Toronto at Mississauga's newspaper The Medium< Sabiha Shah discusses a recent lecture by Anishinaabe artist Susan Blight talking about ways Toronto can better engage with its living First Nation heritage.

Last Tuesday, Susan Blight delivered Hart House’s annual Hancock Lecture, titled “Land and Life in Tkaronto: New Solidarities Toward a Decolonial Future.” Blight is an Anishinaabe artist, filmmaker, arts educator, and activist from Couchiching First Nation. She is nationally recognized for her work in language revitalization. Blight is also a presidential appointee to the Hart House Board of Stewards, and organizes U of T’s annual Indigenous Education Week.

As the country celebrates its 150th anniversary, Blight sheds light upon Toronto’s 15,000 years of history. She began the lecture by introducing her clan and origins, acknowledging the Indigenous territory that we occupy. The intent of Blight’s lecture was to promote Anishinaabe land, history, knowledge, and particularly, the language—Anishinaabemowin.

In 2013, Blight co-founded The Ogimaa Mikana Project with Anishinaabe writer and educator Hayden King. The project consists of Anishinaabe activists and artists working in Toronto to reclaim the streets and landmarks of Anishinaabe territory with the use of Anishinaabemowin. The main objectives of the project are reclaiming and renaming. This is done by replacing official street, park, and landmark signage with the original Anishinaabe versions. For example, “Spadina” would be changed to the original Ishpadinaa.

“At the centre of the project is the revitalization of the Anishinaabemowin,” noted Blight, “[…] as a pushback against the settler-colonial system in Canada—a system whose objective with regards to Indigenous peoples has not changed.”

Blight acknowledged the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their land and resources, and how the state’s assimilation policies resulted in devastating effects on Indigenous languages. The Ogimaa Mikana Project aims to remind non-Indigenous people of their place on Indigenous land. It also seeks to reinforce awareness of Indigenous presence in Canada. Moreover, the project hopes to initiate communication with other Anishinaabe in Toronto—a city that can feel alienating to Indigenous peoples with its endless signage that represents the settler-colonial system.
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Natalia Manzocco writes for NOW Toronto about how Bloor Street West is going to soon host a First Nations restaurant.

When Tacos el Asador vacated their perpetually-packed corner unit on Bloor for roomier digs across the street earlier this year, it turns out they were making space for a cuisine that's hugely underrepresented in Toronto: First Nations eats. The new tenant at 607 Bloor West is NishDish, a cafe focused on Anishinaabe recipes, as well as products from First Nations and Metis producers.

At the helm of the new cafe is Anishinaabe chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who's been catering under the NishDish banner for some time, offering dishes like wild duck and hominy corn soups, venison stew, buffalo chili, baked bannock and wild rice. Ringuette promises the "marketeria" will include "Indigenous sourced coffee, quick meals, or check out a vast selection of goods and food products sourced from First Nations, Inuit and Metis people."
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  • Centauri Dreams notes the sad news that, because of the destructive way in which the stellar activity of young red dwarfs interacts with oxygen molecules in exoplanet atmospheres, Proxima Centauri b is likely not Earth-like.

  • Crooked Timber takes issue with the idea of Haidt that conservatives are uniquely interested in the idea of purity.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole in the heart of 47 Tucanae.

  • The Dragon's Tales reports on the search for Planet Nine.Far Outliers reports on the politics in 1868 of the first US Indian Bureau.

  • Imageo maps the depletion of sea ice in the Arctic.

  • Language Hat remembers the life of linguist Patricia Crampton.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes some of the potential pitfalls involved with Buy American campaigns (and like political programs in other countries), including broad-based xenophobia.

  • The LRB Blog looks at nationalism and identity in their intersections with anti-Muslim sentiment in Québec.

  • The Map Room Blog links to an essay on the last unmapped places.

  • Torontoist notes the 2017 Toronto budget is not going to support affordable housing.

  • Transit Toronto reports on TTC revisions to its schedules owing to shortfalls in equipment, like buses.

  • Window on Eurasia claims that Putin needs a successful war in Ukraine to legitimize his rule, just as Nicholas II needed a victory to save Tsarism.

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  • blogTO notes the Distillery District's Toronto Light Festival.

  • Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.

  • Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry's expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.

  • The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at China's very heavy investment in Laos.

  • The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.

  • Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.

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The Toronto Star's Jayme Poisson and David Bruser report on the latest about the pervasive mercury contamination in the vicinity of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northern Ontario.

The Chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to commit in writing to cleaning up the mercury that has contaminated the river near his community.

Late Monday, a spokesperson for Trudeau said the federal government will take action to deal with the Grassy Narrows mercury contamination “once and for all.”

“I am pleased to see Trudeau finally stepping up and accepting his responsibility to solve the ongoing mercury crisis that my people have endured for three generations,” said Chief Simon Fobister.

“We have seen many politicians and their promises come and go, and still our river is poisoned with mercury. I call on Trudeau to clearly commit in writing to clean our river until our fish are safe to eat. Trudeau must commit to a short timeline and a sufficient budget to make our dream of a healthy river a reality. Our youth yearn to see our river cleaned soon. Trudeau must not frustrate their hope.”

The federal government will work closely with the province and First Nations leaders to address mercury contamination that has plagued the northern community for decades, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Star. The vow of action followed requests for help from Chief Simon Fobister Sr., a New Democrat MP, and the recent publication by the Star of new test results showing contaminated land.
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Toronto Life shared First Nations educator Eddy Robinson's account of how his experiences of First Nations spirituality changed his life. There's definitely something to this, I think, about the transformative effect of the processes and procedures involved. My memory of the time spent in a Mi'kmaq sweat lodge while during field research for an undergraduate paper is one of my fondest of my young adulthood.

I didn’t have a happy childhood. My Cree father, a residential-school survivor, and my Ojibwa-Anishinabe mother split when I was three and sent me to live with my grandparents. I slept on a cot in their living room, and my little brother’s crib was in the hallway. When I was 10, I moved back in with my mom in a subsidized housing complex at Pape and Danforth. We argued all the time. A few months later, I reconnected with my dad, who was living in Sault Ste. Marie. When I was 14, after a particularly nasty fight with my mom, I hopped on a Greyhound bus and went to stay with my dad and his girlfriend. That didn’t work out, so they put me up in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and bought me groceries once a week. Soon I was drinking and smoking weed. I was arrested several times—for stealing, for fighting, for selling drugs—and spent four months in juvie. Eventually, I was remanded back into my mother’s custody. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I knew she’d let me do what I wanted.

When I moved back to Toronto at age 15, my grandparents insisted that I prepare for my confirmation at St. Ann’s Catholic Church near Gerrard and Broadview, where they were parishioners. The church has a Native People’s Parish, which combines Catholicism with elements of Indigenous spirituality. The church leaders incorporate sage-burning ceremonies into Mass, for instance, and translate hymns into Indigenous languages. As part of my confirmation, the priest insisted that I go on a vision quest—a ritual that lasts anywhere from 24 hours to a week. You’re left alone in the wilderness without food or supplies, and you pray to the Creator for guidance and wisdom.

On the night of my vision quest, I set up my tent at Dreamer’s Rock, a sacred place on Manitoulin Island. I was skeptical. 
I just thought I’d be abandoned outside, bored, hungry and alone. To my shock, I had a vision that night. It was an old man, standing beyond my tent. He looked like he was beckoning me. I didn’t recognize him, but I believe he was a manifestation of First Nations culture—my culture—which was waiting for me to embrace it.
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The Guardian is the latest news organization to cover the erosion of Lennox Island, chief Mi'kmaq reserve on Prince Edward Island, into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Ashifa Kassam's article. Between erosion and rising sea levels, it's an open question as to whether one of the most noteworthy centres of Mi'kmaq culture left can last to the end of the century.

His hands tucked tightly in the pockets of his jeans, Gilbert Sark nodded at the ice-covered bay stretched out before him.

Decades ago, his grandfather – at the time one of the few in this First Nations community to own a truck – would spend winters ferrying people across the frozen bay to Prince Edward Island. One wintry day, the truck hit a patch of soft ice, sending it plunging into the frigid waters below.

His grandfather didn’t make it out of the truck in time. “That bay has claimed a lot of people,” said Sark. “Now it’s claiming land.”

For as long as anyone can remember, life on Lennox Island – a community of some 450 people on the east coast of Canada – has been set to the rhythm of the waters that lap its shores of red sand. But climate change is drastically altering this relationship, sending sea levels rising, pelting the small island with fiercer and more frequent storms and bringing warmer winters that eat away at the ice cover that traditionally protected the shores for months at a time.

The result is impossible to ignore. “We’re losing our island,” said Sark. A survey of the island carried out in 1880 counted 1,520 acres of land. In 2015, surveyors mapped out 1,100 acres of land on Lennox Island – suggesting more than 300 football fields worth of land have been swallowed by the sea within the span of a few generations.

Sark pointed to the shoreline next to the cemetery where his mother and many other members of his family are buried. “There used to be a field right there. We used to play football in that area.”

The community recently spent tens of thousands of dollars to save the graveyard from the encroaching waters, building a wall made up of three layers of rock. “They had to fix it or there would be caskets going out into our bay,” said Sark. “It was that close.”

The scars of the island’s battle against climate change are visible across this low-lying island. Local people recall playing baseball where boats now bob in the water; homes that once sat 20ft from the shore now teeter precariously close to the sea. The shoreline has crept up to the edges of the community’s decade-old sewage lagoon, sparking concerns that a storm surge could send waste into Malpeque Bay, a world-renowned site for harvesting oysters.
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The Guardian of Charlottetown reports on the potential for a land claim lawsuit on Prince Edward Island, involving the sale of resort property in the west of the province on land traditionally significant to the Mi'kmaq.

The Mi’kmaq chiefs in P.E.I. are considering legal action to prevent the sale of the Mill River golf course and provincial park to one of the founders of the Toronto Blue Jays, which was announced earlier today.

The chiefs of the Abegweit and Lennox Island First Nations issued a joint news release Thursday, saying they are “shocked and thoroughly disappointed” to learn of the sale of the Crown land to Don McDougall.

They have repeatedly told the province, both verbally and through formal correspondence, of their objection to the deal that will see over 400 acres of provincial Crown land sold to McDougall.

On several occasions the Mi’kmaq governments have told the province this sale would impact negatively on the constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq people, the chiefs state in their release.

They say they are now considering legal action to stop the deal from going through.

“We will have to take all steps necessary to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq people and will be forced to examine litigation, including injunctive relief to prevent the sale,” said Abegweit Chief Brian Francis.

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