Photos

Blue dots becoming symbol for First Nations Education Act resistance

Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media following what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.

Meme meant to represent those not included or considered in current FNEA legislation

A “blue dot” movement has taken the Twittersphere and Facebook by storm. Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media.

It follows what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

The proposed legislation was announced in the Kainai First Nation on the Blood Tribe Reserve in Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a ceremony in the community to “seal the deal."     

Twila Singer and her two children attended the event.
Historical photos like this one of the American Indian Movement are showing up with blue dots. Christi Belcourt is using old photos of vocal figures to make a point with the blue dot campaign. (@christibelcourt/Twitter)

“We were separated at the door and given either a blue dot or a yellow dot. The blue dots were uninvited guests and were ushered to the gymnasium, and the invited guests were the yellow dots and they were brought to the auditorium where the dignitaries were.” 

Along with about 40 others in the gym, Singer and her seven and 17-year-old daughters viewed what was happening in the auditorium on LCD monitors. At the end, the invited guests were directed to go to the gym for a feast.

That’s when Twila was kicked out — for tweeting.

Twila Singer was given a blue dot to wear, which distinguished her from invited guests wearing yellow dots at the FNEA announcement on Friday. (Twila Singer)
A few days later, a “sacred blue dot” meme appeared on social media. Today, more and more people are posting a blue dot on photographs of themselves, and on historical and current people on photographs lifted from the internet. 

Niigaan Sinclair is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.

“It's not only in solidarity of those removed or of the 'uninvited guests' but a symbol of those who are not included or considered in current FNEA legislation,” he said during a telephone interview.  

Christi Belcourt says she began posting the blue dot photographs as a gut reaction.

"One of the blue dot people was kicked out for 'tweeting' when she didn't have a phone with her. She had previously protested in INM [Idle No More],” Belcourt said over a Facebook exchange with CBC. 

I'm claiming the blue dot for us as a mark of pride. We are the "uninvited" and I reject the essence of what that means in its entirety within my being.- Christi Belcourt

“I'm disgusted,"she said. “That is why I started that blue dot series. For all of us who disagree, who want change, who stand up for change."

"I'm claiming the blue dot for us as a mark of pride. We are the 'uninvited' and I reject the essence of what that means in its entirety within my being.”

Belcourt, an acclaimed and influential Métis artist, said she began to see the blue dots as “representing the people who the government would arrest first, or would harass first, or doesn't care about, or throughout history has considered the 'rebels' for protecting land speaking out.” 

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair is embracing the blue dot campaign, which he says appears to be catching on. (Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair)
“Or even further," she said, "the blue dots are our people, the masses of people who are not able to influence decisions. It signifies all of us who do this despite not being at a table with
Atleo or the prime minister or anyone else who has the power to mark their 'X' and sign away our rights.”

As for Twila Singer, she never excepted any of this would happen. "It's touching, I never realized how many people care and feel the same way."

About the Author

Angela Sterritt

CBC Reporter

Angela Sterritt is a journalist from the Gitanmaax band of the Gitxsan Nation. Sterritt's news and current affairs pieces are featured on national and local CBC platforms. Her CBC column 'Reconcile This' tackles the tensions between Indigenous people and institutions in B.C.

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