Our Native Land - Holiday Edition

When Our Native Land first aired in 1965, it was called Indian Magazine. Six years later, it was reborn to be "all-red, all-the-time." The show was part of the rejuvenation of aboriginal culture, art and political activism. A look at Christmas and holiday festivities from an aboriginal perspective.
Our Native Land Brochure

From the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, Saturday afternoon on CBC Radio meant time for a weekly serving of bannock and tea along with a look at aboriginal issues. For more than 20 years, Our Native Land gave voice to aboriginal stories. On this edition of Rewind, some pieces from the various Christmas editions of Our Native Land - cheery stories about food and celebration, and more poignant ones about prison and residential school. 

Johnny Yesno (CBC Still Photo Collection/Richmond Jones)

When Our Native Land was first created in 1965, it was called Indian Magazine. The show grew up alongside a resurgent native rights movement in Canada, becoming a provocative, politicized, all-native current affairs show. It morphed into Our Native Land in 1970. 

Tom Jackson, 1985 (CBC Still Photo Collection/Fred Phipps)

In 1971, host Johnny Yesno, called Our Native Land “Canada's only national radio program for native peoples. I realize that programs about Indian, Métis and Eskimo people have been done before, but not with native peoples participating. They were being used, studied, analyzed and classified like rare butterflies."  Our Native Land was different.  It was, as its producers said, "all-red, all-the-time." 

Bernelda Wheeler

The Huron Carol is probably the oldest Canadian Christmas carol. It was written in its original Huron in 1642 by Father Jean Brebeuf and translated into English in 1926. The song, with its haunting winter imagery, remains a favourite at this time of year.

Charlie Pangoniak (CBC Records)

Winnipeg born Métis actor and singer Tom Jackson recorded an iconic version of The Huron Carol. Since 1987, he has hosted a series of concerts that he calls The Huron Carole to raise money for various charities at Christmas time.

Family is so important in aboriginal cultures that spending holidays alone has particular challenges. In 1975 Our Native Land talked to Margie Pavis, a Saulteaux woman who worked and lived in New York. 

One of the features of Our Native Land every week was traditional native music. Some of the presenters  were Albert Angus, Bernelda Wheeler, and Charlie Panigoniak -  an Inuit singer from the North. 

Our Native Land aired on CBC Radio until 1985.