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Our Native Land: Rise of the native rights movement

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

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On its 20th anniversary, Our Native Land looks back at the rise of Red Power in Canada. The Kenora protest and the native pavilion at Expo '67 are early examples of activism, but a national movement rose up against the Trudeau government's 1968 White Paper. The ongoing struggle of native women for equal rights is reported, as is the 1973 Wounded Knee protest and the 1974 March on Parliament Hill. The show ends with stories on the James Bay hydroelectric deal and the Berger pipeline inquiry. 
• The Indians of Canada Pavilion shocked many Expo 67 visitors by revealing the stark living conditions on reserves and their anger at the government for breaking treaties.

• The 1975 $225 million deal with Hydro-Québec and the James Bay Cree and Inuit was only the beginning. While communities benefited from better homes and schools, traditional ways began to fade and social problems, including alcohol abuse, grew. In 2002 the Cree signed another deal for a second phase of the giant dam project.

• Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger traveled through Canada's North for two years to hear from residents about the proposed pipeline. Berger's recommendation for a 10-year moratorium on pipeline development was heeded. But today, with most aboriginal land claims settled, people are talking about the pipeline once again. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: Feb. 4, 1984
Guest(s): John Barbarash, Thomas Berger, Jeanette Corbiere Lavell, Walter Deiter, Sandra Lovelace, Russell Moses, Bob Rhodes, Vina Starr, Bernelda Wheeler, Johnny Yesno
Host: Brian Maracle
Duration: 28:04
This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: July 2, 2014

Page consulted on July 2, 2014

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