Welcome! I love to write, and I love sharing what I write with my readers. I vary my style as much as I can-posting events, creative non-fiction, prose and poetry and the occasional video. Enjoy!



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Nations House Staff Susan Blight Designs Button, Bookmark and Poster to Commemorate National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

(Design Made By: Susan Blight)

(Susan Blight: Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

an Blight, Project Development Staff from the First Nations House of the University of Toronto designs button, bookmark and poster after a request made by the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women Committee. The Green Dot is any action that reduces the risk of violence in the moment, supports survivors or creates a culture less tolerant of violence. A Green Dot is your individual choice to make the University safer. Events are taking place on the St.George Campus, and the Scarborough Campus.

 On the St.George Campus there will be a Remembrance at 12:15pm featuring commemorative benches in front of Hart House behind UTSU and a working for change Lunch in the Hart House East Common Room, which is wheelchair accessible and there will be ASL interpretation. For any accommodations needs please contact 
For more information on these events please visit the following website:
(If you do your small part, and others do their small part, we can all make a difference in preventing power-based personal violence at the U of T.)

Book Review: "Seven Gifts for Cedar"

Seven Gifts for Cedar Book written by Cherie Dimaline

 Review By: Christine McFarlane

“Seven Gifts for Cedar” written by Metis author Cherie Dimaline is a great book in the sense that it teaches a young audience some very valuable and core traditional values of First Nations culture.

The story is about seven year old Cedar who lives in a big city with her mom and travels to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario to stay with her dad’s family on the reserve every summer. She receives very valuable gifts during her summer visits- the gifts from the Seven Grandfather teachings- humility, wisdom, respect, bravery, honesty, truth and love.

Under the teaching, “humility”-Cedar’s aunt teaches her the importance of humility after overhearing the little girl excitedly describe her bike back in the city, and sees that Cedar’s cousins are hurt by the comparisons made between their bikes on the reserve and Cedar’s bike in the city. Auntie Flora explains to Cedar in her teaching that

“it is important to think about how others feel before you go talking about how great you are and what kind of stuff you have, even if you think it is really really great.,” and goes onto say “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.”

Throughout each summer visit to Georgian Bay, Auntie Flora undertakes the task of teaching Cedar the six other teachings, how to pick medicines, and how each of these teachings can apply to every day life. The story also portrays the strong ties that exist within First Nations families and communities, which in the case of Cedar is the bond between herself as a great niece and her father’s aunt.

This book has been formatted in a way that encourages parents, extended family members and caregivers to read aloud with their young children. There are two different reading levels in this book. Ontario LBS Reading Level 5, in smaller-print text, is intended for the adult to read aloud to the child. Larger-print text in the book is intended for the child to read, it is at a Grade 2 or a LBS Level 2. The content targets 7-10 year olds. It also has a brief section at the end of the book that gives you a word list and grade 2 sight words which give young readers a good base for beginning reading.

This unique reading format within “Seven Gifts for Cedar” is great because it allows the parent and child to read together which in turn strengthens a learning experience between parent and child and makes reading a lot more exciting.

Cherie Dimaline writes “Seven Gifts for Cedar,” and is a Metis author from Georgian Bay; Ontario whose work has been featured in national magazines and diverse anthologies. Her first book ‘Red Rooms’ was published in 2007 and promptly received a Fiction Book of the Year Award. She is the editor of First Nations House magazine, an Aboriginal student publication out of the University of Toronto, and the honoured writer in residence at First Nations House at the University of Toronto.

Seven Gifts for Cedar  is 56 pages and published by Ningwakwe Learning Press in 2010. It is available through Ningwakwe Learning Press and also

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Raven Tales- The Games

Book Review: "Raven Tales-The Games"
By: Christine McFarlane

Christmas is fast approaching, and though I know I should have posted this review a little sooner, (the book only came into my hands about a week ago) I thought I would review a couple of children's books. My next children's book review will be "Seven Gifts for Cedar" written by Metis author Cherie Dimaline. If you can't get these books this year,  maybe  you will keep them in mind either for next year, or keep them in mind for another occasion throughout the year to come.

This first review is one in a series of 26 new graphic novels for children in grades 4-6. This new series of graphic novels is based on the popular Emmy nominated TV series Raven Tales. The Raven Tales stories are built upon traditional stories, and invite young readers to join Raven and his cast of friends as they entertain you with stories from Aboriginal cultures across North America .

The story "Raven Tales-The Games" is about games and fair play that are shared by First Nations people of the Northwest Coast of Canada. It is about learning how to get along and also about how winning isn't everything. It teaches young readers that games are also about trying your best and having fun in the process.

Within the story, the people of two distant villages meet for the first time. The children don't get along at first with the new children they meet in this new village, so their parents decide that the way to get them to get along with each other is to play and compete against each other. The children engage in games like swimming, running and archery, and every winner receives a small totem to recognize their efforts.

Through the games the children's parents have them play in, the children learn to respect one another, they realize the value of games and decide to hold a friendly competition every year.

These graphic novels  follow the adventures of Raven, the powerful transformer and trickster from Aboriginal folklore. There are 26 graphic novels in total and each title features an interpretation of a popular tale from the teachings of First Nations peoples. Stories vary from trickster tales, origin stories, pourquoi stories as well as traditional tales.

They are perfect for independent reading, small groups reading in the classroom and school library. There is also a Teacher Guide for the Raven Tales Series that include support for small-group work, support for connecting Raven Tales to First Nations cultures and international and aboriginal cultures with similar stories, discussion prompts and graphic organizers for reader response.

These graphic novels are available through Scholastic Education. For more information please visit or contact Scholastic Canada through their website at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Indigenous Nationhood: Bill C-10, Justice Minister Vic Toews, and Things ...

Indigenous Nationhood: Bill C-10, Justice Minister Vic Toews, and Things ...: Please tell me that I am not the only one who is shocked by federal Justice Minister Vic Toews' idiotic comments tonight on APTN News. Did h... (this is written by Dr.Pam Palmater)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Introducing Romeo Saganash NDP!

 ( Romeo Saganash and I at the 18th Annual CanAB Festival)

So, there I was at the 18th Annual Canadian Aboriginal Festival at the Better Living Centre on November 19, 2011, strolling along and wondering what pictures to take next, when all of a sudden I ran into NDP Candidate Romeo Saganash. It was kind of cool because I was kind of lost with deciding what pictures to take. I mean sometimes I get to feeling that I can only take so many pictures, before I start to think "oh gawd! how long is it going to take me  to download everything onto my computer and then organize all of it?  oh the life of a writer/photographer right? lol 

In all seriousness though,  I was happy to meet Romeo Saganash because after all he is the first Indigenous person to seek the leadership of a major federal political party and that means breaking new ground for the First Nations people of Canada. We need a change! 

Here is a bit about Romeo Saganash:

Romeo was raised in the small northern community of Waswanipi, Quebec. He is a residential school survivor and a graduate of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal law school. Multilingual, he is fluent in Cree, both of Canada's official languages and Spanish.

Romeo is one of the principal authors of La Paix des Braves-the landmark agreement between the James Bay Cree and the Government of Quebec-and a key player in many national and international initiatives, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He has been in politics for almost 30 years. For more information or to support his NDP Leadership Campaign, please visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Poem: Lights, Sounds

By: Christine McFarlane


Off the walls
Around me


Too many
In one room

People yelling
People laughing

Next to impossible


Off the walls
Around me

I stand 
Against the wall


A hand
Wrapped around
A cold drink

To help 
Pass the time


Make me forget
About the anxiety

That threatens
To engulf me

Sunday, November 13, 2011

All Out (de) Occupy Toronto: Solidarity with Indigenous Struggles

(Photo Taken by Christine McFarlane)

By: Christine McFarlane

It has now been almost a month since Occupy Toronto protesters first gathered in the financial district at Bay and King Streets and marched to St. James Park, near King and Church, where they set up camp.

As in other cities, Occupy Toronto’s message has morphed from the original “Occupy Wall St” protest in New York, which started out as a demonstration against the action of U.S. investment banks and the American government in the subprime mortgage securities scandal that led to the global economic recession in 2008.

St. James Park has been home to about 500 protesters since October 15, a day of global protests against the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite. These protests are worldwide. Some of them have already faced the dismantling of tents, (eg. London, Ontario) clashes with the police (Oakland) etc. What’s going to happen if Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford makes the move to dismantle Occupy Toronto? 

On Saturday, November 12, 2011 Occupy Toronto marched in solidarity with Indigenous struggles to raise awareness about the links between Indigenous issues and struggles against austerity, privatization and neo-liberalism, and sovereignty.

The march was to support our own decolonization as well as the larger decolonization needed for our society. Occupy Toronto recognizes that they are occupying already occupied lands, and are saying no to the violent imposition of economic austerity, industrial development and privatization on themselves and people around the world.

The movement means different things to different people.  What does it mean to you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Interview with Pura Fe

(Pura Fe: Photo Taken By Christine McFarlane)
By: Christine McFarlane

Recently I was given the chance to interview Pura Fe and was immediately struck by her warm demeanour and candidness as I sat and interviewed her. Pura Fe is a founding member of the internationally renowned native women's a cappella trio Ulali and a Native American singer who is recognized for creating a new genre in music by bringing Native contemporary music to the forefront of the mainstream music industry. She is currently a World Music Visiting Artist in Residence at the University of Toronto.

Pura Fe was born in New York City, and grew up in the working class community of Corona in the Queens borough of New York, but her family has traced its roots back to the Cherokee and Tuscarora tribes of the southeastern United States. Her Spanish name translates as “Pure Faith” which was given by her father who is from Puerto Rico. She was raised by her mother and a gifted family of female singers, that are descendants of the Tuscarora Nation that had migrated from North Carolina to New York in the early 1900’s.

Though she is only here until December 15, 2011, she is bringing her unique style of music to the students who are getting a chance to study with her. Pura Fe is teaching/mentoring a core group of 15-20 students in the Music Department, has been brought into other courses at the University to do presentations and workshops, and most recently held a concert in October for the Chocolate Woman Collective Theatre group fundraiser that took place October 25, 2011.

(the full interview will be in the next issue of the Native Canadian newsletter)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Ojibwe Story: Who I Am

Ojibwe Story: Who I Am
By: Christine  McFarlane


Christine nitishinikaas- My name is Christine

 Kanoohken weti kaa-onciyan- Remember where you come from

 Peguis nitoonci- I am from Peguis

 Baskkodebizhiki nitootem- Buffalo is my clan

 Shaakooc ni daabishkoo indigo mahkwa- However I like bears

 Ni ombigi’aawaswaanag- I am adopted

Nikii ontaatis mekwac pimankasoc Kashkatinoo-piihsim- I was born in November

Ni’dibaajimoomazinaigan- I write for the newspaper

 nindibaajimoowikwe I am a female journalist

 Ni minwentan ahpi masinahkeyaan I am happy when I am writing

Nimaamaa Peguis nitoonci- my mother is from Peguis

 Anna ishinihkaaso- her name is Anna

 Nimaamaa noonkom Peguis ishitaa- my mother now lives in Peguis

 Nitaataapan Fisher River oonci- My father is from Fisher River

 William ishinihkaasopan- His name is William

 Kaawiin nitaataa ayaawaasiin- No, my father is not around anymore

 nintAyaawaa peshik nimihses-  I have one older sister

Marguerite ishinihkaaso- Her name is Marguerite

 nintaayaawaa peshik nintooshamihkwen- I have one niece

 Samantha ishinihkaaso- Samantha is her name

 Kinokaapawi-  nimpahshitahok-She is tall, bigger than me

 Jiikendaagozi moojigendaagozi- she is fun

wiinge ni gichi-inenimaa- I think the world of her

Nisaakihaa nintoshamikwen- I love my niece.

 Nikihci-metawemin- We play a lot

Niwii waapamaa nintooshamihkwen shaakooc ishi ishkooniwikamik- I want to visit my niece, however she is in school

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Am:

By: Christine McFarlane

I am a writer. When I put pen to paper, my thoughts become alive, and dance across the page. This is the gift that the Creator has chosen and given to me.

I am a writer. I may come across as emotional and blasé but really that isn't me. That's the shield I have learned to use because I often wear my heart upon my sleeve.

Ask me to write an article, a poem or a piece of prose, and I let my voice scream and be heard.

I am a writer and I am proud to have found the gift that helps to define just one part of me. 

This is my gift to you from me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Own Business Card!

 I know this is a little ridiculous posting a pic of my business card, but I am excited about having these and want to share it with my readers! lol

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post: Nathan Adler

(Nathan Adler-Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

Bio: Nathan Adler is a writer and artist who works in many different mediums, including video, film, drawing & painting, as well as glass and installation.  Nathan was the first place winner of the 2010 Aboriginal Writing Challenge, he has had his writing published in Redwire magazine, Canada’s History magazine, and as a part of the Odemin Giizis Festival.  He is currently working as a glass artist, and is a member of Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation.
How To Always Fly-Under The Radar: 
           Seven Easy Steps!

1.    Keep your mouth shut, things that normally remain un-seen or escape notice, rarely make a sound.  (Unless it is like white-noise, and you never shut up.  In this case, always maintain a steady stream of inoffensive chatter.  Strive to be like the fuzz on the radio, or the snow on the T.V. à you are like the language in which the story is told, or the film through which the light passes in a projector, present and accounted for, but rarely the subject of examination.  BE the fuzzy snow, or the silver nitrate that is essential for the development process, but far from the jazz of colours and fireworks that steal the show, BE the black & white dots on the television being whacked on the side by the man trying to get a better reception.

2.    If you are in an actual airplane, fly low.  Not too low or you will crash into a mountain and die in a fiery terrifying explosion.  This will be counter-productive and certainly attract notice, instead, fly just under that elevation, the height at which radar technology finds it difficult to pick up your signal.  If it helps the creative process, visualize yourself as a stealth plane.

3.    Always wear grey, Fade into the background.  Wear clothing that is the same shade of grey as the grey of the pavement, the grey of the sidewalk, the grey of a cement wall.  Conversely, if you are in a forest, wear camouflage, if you are in Rome, dress like everybody else, but always remember the fall-back position: grey.  Like black, it contains all colours, refracts all aspects of light split through a crystal, except less harsh, less dramatic, and less likely to draw attention.  Think of the cover of the Pink Floyd album, or . . . the song “♪♫♪ come become-a become-a chameleon♪♫♪".  Adjust yourself to your surroundings.  Blend in.  Conversely à see the following notation in #4!

4.    Dazzle Camouflage, a tactic used by the Navy to disguise their boats, by painting them so bright, so garishly decorated, it confused and mystified their enemies.  Like the sun which is too bright to look at, or a psychedelic splash so confusing to the mind it would rather protect the observer from the harshness of it’s light, and so you are edited out of existence, seen and forgotten all in the same instant.

5.    Avoid making any sudden movements, always think before you leap, never cause a commotion.  Behave as if a dangerous predator were around the next corner, flying high above you, searching for that next small running wriggling creature.  You are that small running wriggling creature, and the eagle-eye is trained upon you.

6.    Always sit at the back of the bus, always sit at the back of a classroom.  Always keep your back to the wall.

7.    Never volunteer for anything, never line up first, or last, stick to the middle while in a herd, so the numbers will protect you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: Midnight Sweatlodge

Review of Midnight Sweatlodge
By: Christine McFarlane

Midnight Sweatlodge” is a collection of short powerful stories that reflect struggles young Native youth have experienced or witnessed throughout Aboriginal Canada. It is written by Waubgeshig Rice, a member of Wausasking First Nation and a CBC reporter based in Ottawa. This is Rice’s first book.

 Midnight Sweatlodge is about a group of youth and family who gather together to take in an ancient aboriginal ceremony-the sweatlodge ceremony. The struggles reflected in “Midnight Sweatlodge” deal with everything from isolation, identity crises, depression and substance abuse. Through each youth narrating their story, they are giving voice to an inner pain and sharing it with others. By sharing, they are telling other youth participants, they are not alone.

This collection of short stories is a great read, and captivates the reader right away. Through each story in this collection Rice also exposes non-native readers to some of the difficulties that young native people live with in Canada, and attempts to break the negative portrayals that mainstream media often tries to convey about aboriginal youth. This book is a great collection that gives important issues a platform and a voice that non-native individuals may not be privy to.

Midnight Sweatlodge is 85 pages and published by Theytus Books. You can find it at your local bookstore.