Thursday March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017 full episode transcript

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The Current Transcript for March 16, 2017

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti


Listen to the full episode


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Defendants include two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service, an intelligence and law enforcement agency of the Russian Federation, and two criminal hackers with whom they conspired.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: The US has never filed criminal cyber charges against Russian government agents before. So the decision to name them and publicly link them to organized crime is seen as a strong volley from the US Department of Justice to Russia. Four men stand accused of compromising 500 million Yahoo accounts. Information that would allow Russia access to the private data of politicians, business executives, activists, and foreign officials. And of the four people accused of that massive hack. Only one is in custody — and he's the Canadian. We're on that story in just a moment. Also today, Jake Garrow was clearing an ice road when the ice gave way.


I ran across the lake with the machine and broke through. I could feel the mud at the bottom, so I knew I had hit the bottom. It was pitch black, you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

AMT: He was plunged into the inky depths of Lake of the Woods, Ontario in minus 30 degree weather. He has lived to tell his tale in a season where there are far too many stories of thinning ice and sudden death. Jake Garrow’s surprising tale of survival in half an hour. And..


These celebrations are a celebration of colonialism. As an Indigenous person, I’m choosing not to celebrate.

AMT: As governments and cities and organizations pour enthusiasm and money into plans to mark Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation, Indigenous critics say that history is built on negating the lives and the land of their much older history. In an hour, #Resist150. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.

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Who is the Canadian charged in Russian hack of Yahoo accounts?

Guests: Matthew Braga, Malcolm Nance


VOICE 1: Yahoo just admitted it fell victim to a massive data breach that has exposed 500 million user accounts in 2014.

VOICE 2: Yeah, this is a big number. When you hear 500 million, you go, that’s, you know, a lot of people.

VOICE 3: That is the country of the United States plus another half of the people in the United States.

VOICE 4: Yahoo says the information that was stolen could include names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed or encrypted passwords, and in some cases encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. Wow.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: Well, it was a massive breach indeed. A 2014 hack of Yahoo that we only learned about last year. And yesterday a bombshell, as the US Department of Justice announced charges against four people for the hack.


Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin both FSB officers protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere. They worked with co-conspirators Alexsey Balen and Karim Baratov to hack into the computers of American companies providing email and internet related services. To maintain unauthorized access to those computers and to steal information, including information about individual users and the private contents of their accounts.

AMT: Well, two of those charged are officers with Russia's FSB, the modern day incarnation of the Soviet KGB. One of the other names, Karim Baratov, is a Canadian. The 22-year-old was picked up by police Tuesday in Ancaster, Ontario near the city of Hamilton. Matthew Braga is a technology reporter for CBC. He has been looking into the background of Karim Baratov. He's with me in our Toronto studio. Hi.

MATTHEW BRAGA: Hey, good morning Anna Maria.

AMT: What can you tell me about him?

MATTHEW BRAGA: So, as you say, 22-year-old from Ancaster, the sort of person that you wouldn't think would normally fit the profile of international sort of, [chuckles] you know, Russian co-conspirator. But that's what we've seen here is that he actually played a pretty important part in this particular scheme according to this indictment from the FBI.

AMT: What did you find out about him online?

MATTHEW BRAGA: So he has a number of social media profiles online that are actually quite easy to find, quite open. He's active on Facebook, he's active on Instagram, and [chuckles] immediately you can see he loves his luxury vehicles, he loves his Aston Martin, his Mercedes, his Lamborghinis, his Audis. There's pictures of him going to the gym, you know, hanging out in sort of, you know, local sort of haunts in Ancaster and going to [chuckles] nightclubs and things. And, you know, nowhere do you really kind of get a hint of what he does or how he made all this money that allowed him to do this. You see all these comments from posters saying well, how exactly can you afford this lifestyle? And he always seems to kind of demur and say well, you know, I just I work in online services. I offer, you know, businesses online and that's. [chuckles]

AMT: So interesting because you just named off a whole bunch of luxury cars — he's 22.

MATTHEW BRAGA: Yes. [chuckles]

AMT: OK. OK. Keep going. So what, he's offering online services. What else did you find on his sites?

MATTHEW BRAGA: So there are a number of things that, you know, once you kind of start digging deeper kind of gives you a little bit of a hint at the sort of online services that he offers. So, you know, right from his Facebook page he links to a website called Elite Space, which is all in Russian. And, you know, offers services that aren't particularly nefarious in and of themself, right? I mean, servers for people to rent in Russia and other parts of the world, you know, domain names or URLs that you can buy in China. But once you kind of start, you know, going a little bit further, there is, you know, little bits of evidence, right? Showing that, you know, he may have also been kind of engaging in some of the stuff that the FBI is alleging. So you can find his name and his address tied to domain names that look like they would have been used for phishing attacks. So domain names that have been crafted or picked to look as similar to perhaps, you know, an official Google account or a Russian web mail provider is possible.

AMT: OK. And of course he is, they have charged but of course nothing has been proven in a court of law.


AMT: But what is the FBI is accuse, what is he being accused of?

MATTHEW BRAGA: Mhm. So the FBI is saying that, you know, what Karim’s role was or Baratov’s role was was not actually breaching Yahoo itself, it wasn't gaining access to Yahoo servers. What he did came, is alleged to have come after. So after breaking into the Yahoo servers, they accessed these 500 million account credentials. And, you know, basically went to Baratov and said OK we have these targets, they have Yahoo accounts, we want you to help us to break into their other accounts. So accounts that they might have had with Russian web mail providers such as Yandex or Mail.RU, Google web mail and other services. And that's sort of where he came in. And so he's alleged to have helped these Russian intelligence officials break into about 80 email accounts, 50 of those being Google accounts.

AMT: And you talk about how he is online with all the cars and sort of, like, very sort of proud of sort of his monetary success. How does the FBI describe him?

MATTHEW BRAGA: I mean, the FBI is very much of the stance that, you know, he is part of a international sort of criminal crime ring, right? Part of the sort of one of the most massive breaches right? That we've ever seen. And he played a pretty important part. I mean, arguably accessing the, you know, account credentials of 500 million users, it's a huge deal. But it was only sort of, you know, the first step and I think what these intelligence officials were after, which was as you say earlier, you know, targeting people within government, people within business, people that were of interest to these Russian intelligence officers. And that was Baratov’s role.

AMT: And he's been arrested now by Canadian authorities. He's the only one who's actually in custody then, because the other three are in Russia.

MATTHEW BRAGA: The other three are in Russia. And there's an interesting little part of that as well, is one of the accused Alexsey Balen was actually wanted by Interpol for a few years now for other hacks that he is alleged to have committed. And it looked for a time as if he was actually going to be extradited to the States. Managed to escape back to Russia and once in Russia, US authorities said well, you know, can you arrest him? Can you hand him over to us? And they said they were met with silence. And now we know what he was doing in the meantime. [chuckles]

AMT: And so what happens to all those sites you were looking at? They go dormant? What happens?

MATTHEW BRAGA: Yeah. I mean, you know, some of these sites that, you know, I found are definitely, they have been dormant for some time. You can kind of just find, you know, whispers or records of sort of what used to exist right? That suggestions of how they may have been used. As far as the social media profiles, I mean, those will probably stay up unless someone goes and tries to take them down or unless, you know, the police sort of ask for these to be taken down. I'm not entirely sure right? But we’ll see.

AMT: Fascinating. Thanks for coming in.

MATTHEW BRAGA: Thanks Anna Maria.

AMT: That is Matthew Braga. He is a technology reporter for CBC. With me in our Toronto studio. Well the allegations that Russia's FSB could be behind the Yahoo attack came as a shock to many yesterday. My next guest not so much. Malcolm Nance is the Executive Director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project. He's a former career intelligence officer, a US intelligence officer. His new book is The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election. Malcolm Nance is in Philadelphia. Hello.

MALCOLM NANCE: Good morning.

AMT: So you're not so shocked that Russia’s in there, but did you expect charges?

MALCOLM NANCE: Well, I think that considering that the Department of Justice has spent two years carrying out this investigation, certainly on the side of Yahoo, with half a billion accounts being hacked, charges were going to be brought at some point. And this of course precedes the arrival of the Trump administration. So it's been going on quite in-depth, this investigation. So bringing charges against the two Russian intelligence officers who were of the FSB and Russia's version of NSA and against the two hackers, that was probably inevitable, considering the magnitude of the attack itself.

AMT: And we should just be clear here, is they have gone out of the way to say this is not about the election issue hacking.

MALCOLM NANCE: Absolutely. And this has been going on for some time. And this is, you know, what we need to understand is Russia has incorporated cyber warfare, which involves a whole myriad of things, from political operations, propaganda operations, hacking in order to compromise people's integrity, you know, to affect the election results. Actual full scale cyber warfare, like shutting down power plants remotely, Russia uses these on a day-to-day basis, like the way you butter bread. Countries like Canada, the United States, other nations in NATO, they are extremely rare, rarely used figures. So in addition to that, Russia uses an entire network of cyber criminals who they are allow to go around steal what they please, so long as they carry out the bidding for state security services.

AMT: Well, can you just explain that to me? Because there's a Canadian charged and then there's another, there's a Russian hacker charged. What would they get out of this if indeed they are guilty of what the FBI alleges?

MALCOLM NANCE: Well the beauty of how the Russian intelligence agencies do this is they don't have to dedicate their own actual resources. There are three wings to the way that the FSB, which was formerly known as the KGB to most people, carry out their operations. They either dedicate national resources to go and do that, or they use liaison officers, in this case two intelligence officers, who will go out and subcontract hackers to go and break into a certain location, or there are hackers themselves who view themselves as nationalist militiamen, who will go and carry out attacks in the interest of the state without any state direction. So this is the second category. What do they get out of it? The Russian state intelligence got access to very specific accounts, which could have been cross correlated against their own intelligence databases of known spies, American spies, Canadian spies, other members of NATO, politicians and anyone that they wanted to compromise in that way.

AMT: Business executives as well huh?

MALCOLM NANCE: Sure of course, and the beautiful thing about going through a company like Yahoo, if you have more than one email account, you might note that you generally have to have another email account to verify your other email account. So it gives you pathways into your computer systems with your passwords, security questionnaires, and things like that so that you can steal that information and go after a very specific person. But the Canadian and the Russian hacker who actually carried out the operation, they get to keep anything they can steal. Russian intelligence is only--

AMT: What? Like what? What do they want?

MALCOLM NANCE: Oh, well, credit card information, information about very noteworthy people who could be subject to blackmail on their own. And they can also sell this information in bulk to other black hat hackers who want to go and steal more, you know, more data or try to strip credit cards and things along that line. So it’s a billion dollar black business.

AMT: In other words, OK so let me just understand. So again, and they are allegations, but the allegation--


AMT: Would be that the two contract hackers would then be able to that that's how they make their money?

MALCOLM NANCE: Sure, absolutely.

AMT: And they can make millions.

MALCOLM NANCE: Oh, tens of millions. You know, there's many many different pathways to make money in the dark internet, which is, you know, amongst the black hat hackers community. And there are other intelligence agencies that would pay for this. The Chinese generally use their own resources. But if it's put out on the market that they have, you know, half a billion yahoo email accesses, people will pay for that. And they could have made tens of millions off of this.

AMT: And now Malcolm, I just want to get some clarification, because I was reading up last night and there was a breach of one billion Yahoo accounts the year before. What happened with that?

MALCOLM NANCE: Well, that hasn't been fully vetted out. So we're not quite sure. That could have been a Chinese operation. The Chinese actually do this in a very different way. The Russians use it of course for state purposes. The Chinese use it for state purposes but mainly because they are gathering information related to business. And it's, you know, we've had these breaches in the United States as well in the political sphere. When Donald Trump, not Donald Trump, excuse me, Barack Obama and John McCain had their computer networks hacked by the Chinese. The Chinese did nothing with it except to try to figure out what the policies were of the United States. Whereas the Russians on the other hand tried to swing an election when they stole information. But again, we're not quite sure what's going on with that when maybe there's another indictment in the future.

AMT: OK, so the world of Russian hacking has always been mysterious. How much more do you think we might actually learn about what is happening because of these charges?

MALCOLM NANCE: I think you’re going to learn a lot more. And that's principally because the hacking of the United States election, which is way way bigger than just going into the Democratic National Committee and stealing documents. It was a psychological warfare operation, a political warfare operation that literally hacked the mindset of the American public. It changed, you know, the entire media spectrum of coverage against Hillary Clinton, to the point where if you look at a word cloud the only thing that was covered was the word email, and the Russians capitalized on that and kept that going. That is a completely different form of cyber operation than people are used to. People are, they're used to the Yahoo style hacks or the Office of Management and Budget hack, where you steal information and then you try to steal people credit card and sell off information for identity theft. I think that now that the Russian spectrum of operations is now into the public domain, people will see that their own personal cyber security can be affected on an international scale by state players as well as these cyber criminals.

AMT: Well let me ask you about that. Should people who are not at all connected with big multinational business, if they're not connected with the, you know, this kind of politics, should they be worried about their accounts being swept up in this?

MALCOLM NANCE: Sure they should be worried that their accounts are going to be swept up. Simply because you just don't know where your information is going to end up and how it's going to be used. You might think I have nothing to do with this, I only have an innocent Gmail account. I'm not part of, you know, the big political machine, you know, Ottawa or Toronto. That doesn't mean that you're not going to have, your contract isn’t going to be sold to identity thieves or that they're not going to use your email address for what are called phishing scams, where they will send you a link, you click on that link and now your access to everything in your computer is linked to another computer. So all of these things are a reason for every individual to be aware of their own personal cyber security.

AMT: How has this also pointed to weakness in cyber security and cyber warfare tactics in the US and Canada too? Is Russia way ahead?

MALCOLM NANCE: Russia’s only ahead because Russia uses it with total impunity. They do not care what we think about their breaches. They use it because, like I said, it's essentially a chainsaw run amok. Whereas, you know, in the United States in Canada, we use it like a surgeon scalpel. So Russian, you know, the Russian government, Russian criminal hackers, Russian militia hackers and, you know, their associated criminal gangs, which collect and sell this information, they're not particularly concerned what we think about this. We need to take greater strength in the West, we need to have greater awareness of what's going on. And now certainly because of the US election, we've seen these new dimensions of how cyber warfare can just change our perception of what is right what is wrong, what's black and what is white.

AMT: And again, you make the point that the whole link to organized crime is not something that you can get away with in other countries then.

MALCOLM NANCE: No, and Russia allows it because, you know, Russia is essentially a dictatorship in which their intelligence agencies control everything and when it comes to the cyber domain. And they allow these mafia gangs, these cyber mafia organizations to make as much money as they want so long as the state gets what it wants out of them in the end. Vladimir Putin actually came to power in St. Petersburg in the late 1990s after the fall of communism doing the exact same thing, only by selling state assets. He controlled the mafia by using, at that time, ex-KGB officers.


MALCOLM NANCE: So he's doing it on a global scale.

AMT: So four people are charged. Three of them are in Russia. The only one in custody is the Canadian.


AMT: So where does this go?

MALCOLM NANCE: Well, there's virtually nothing we can do about the Russian citizens who are in Russia. And that will actually be used as a propaganda tool against the United States. You see it now in Russia Today and Sputnik, constantly mocking the United States for all of its accusations. And they might in fact be hailed as national heroes. We saw that occur when the United States deported the Russian spy Anna Chapman, after she was caught conducting espionage in the United States, she became a national figure in Russia and sort of a state hero. But we will put them on the international blacklist. There will be arrest warrants placed throughout the world. And should they leave Russia then we may have a chance of having them extradited to the United States.

AMT: We haven't heard Donald Trump, President Trump respond politically to these charges yet have we?

MALCOLM NANCE: No, we haven't. You probably won't. Considering how closely tied the Trump campaign has been to Russian hacking, he himself actually called on Russian intelligence to hack, release Hillary Clinton's emails. He's not going to say a thing about this. This is a strictly being held at the Department of Justice level. And I'm certain the less said in his presence the better.

AMT: OK. Malcolm Nance, we'll leave it there. Thanks for your insights today.

MALCOLM NANCE: It's my pleasure to be here.

AMT: Malcolm Nance, Executive Director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project, former intelligence officer in the United States. His new book is The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyber Spies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election. He joined us from Philadelphia. Let us know what you think of what you're hearing on this one. You can tweet us we are @TheCurrentCBC, find us on Facebook. Go to our website And stay with us, the news is next. And then, the winter of 2017 was on thin ice. A high rate of fatalities involving snowmobilers, ice fishermen and more has us talking about the ice. And we'll hear a remarkable story of survival in that discussion as well. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.

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This man plunged 100 feet into freezing lake — and survived

Guests: Jake Garrow, Angelica Morrisson

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: Hello, I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

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AMT: Still to come..


GEORGE ERASMUS: What are we going to celebrate? Are we going to celebrate that it took until 1959 before we could vote in this country, are we going to celebrate that it took until 1968 that we could vote in Quebec? What are we going to celebrate? I don’t like what has happened over the last 500 years, 125 years. But what are we going to do about the next 500 years?

AMT: That's George Erasmus, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a quarter century ago when Canada was marking its 125th birthday. This year it's 150, and this year many Indigenous Canadians are asking the same thing. What is there to celebrate? In half an hour, we have a panel discussion on First Nations in Canada 150. But first, a winter when the ice wouldn't hold.


[Sound: snowmobile motor]

AMT: Believe it or not, the first day of spring is less than a week away now. And before too long, the snowmobiles will be put away again for the season. And as the winter of 2017 comes to a close, it has been an unusually temperamental one in many parts of the country. It has also been an unusually deadly one. We have seen a spate of tragedies across the country involving people falling through the ice. In Quebec, a 76-year-old ice fisherman died when his ATV fell through the ice on Lake Brome. In Ontario, the list of fatalities is long, Stony Lake, Dark Lake, Lake Scugog, Lake Nipigon, and the Waterford North Conservation Area have all claimed lives of snowmobilers and ice fishermen this winter. And then there is Airdrie, Alberta near Calgary. The community is still reeling after the death of a six-year-old boy who fell through the ice on a neighbourhood canal. In a few moments we'll hear from a reporter who's tracking this story of the ice in the Great Lakes region. But first, someone who's lived to tell the tale of his crash through the ice. Jake Garrow was clearing snow off an ice road on Deception Bay, which is part of Lake of the Woods, near Kenora, Ontario in January, when the ice gave way. We've reached Jake Garrow outside of Winnipeg. Hello.


AMT: Can you take me back to that day in January? What was the weather like?

JAKE GARROW: It was about minus 30 and probably closer to 40 with the wind chill.

AMT: And how familiar were you with this ice road?

JAKE GARROW: I opened it up the night before. So pretty familiar.

AMT: And what were you using to clear the road?

JAKE GARROW: The night before, I was using my truck at the time when I sunk, when I went through the ice, I was using a Bobcat skid-steer.

AMT: OK, so a Bobcat skid-steer is basically it's got a little cab and it's on tracks right? And you're plowing with it?


AMT: OK. How heavy is that thing?

JAKE GARROW: It’s about 9,000 pounds.

AMT: OK. And how thick was the ice you were on?

JAKE GARROW: Well, when we checked the ice when we opened the road it was 12 to 14 inches. And after when we checked where I actually went through, the spot where I went through was only seven inches.

AMT: OK, 12 to 14 would have held you?


AMT: OK. I'm working up to this. Why don't you tell us what happened?

JAKE GARROW: Well, the night before we had started open up a road to our job site, we were plowing it with our trucks. It was really terrible conditions. Several layers of ice and lots of water and the plow actually broke off the truck. So we had to abandon it for the night and came back in the morning with the skid-steer to pick it up. I ran across the lake with the machine and brought the plow back to the road and was just waiting for my guys to come back and was widening the banks from the night before a little bit, because they froze and broke through. And basically, I broke it through a lot in the machine on the ice and usually you only drop, you know, four or five inches through a little crust of ice. And that's originally what I thought had happened. And then all of a sudden the water started coming in the top of the door so I tried to get out the front door. It wouldn't open. I just swung around and smashed the back window with my elbow. And before I could turn around, basically the water was coming in. So I waited for the cab to fill up and I pulled myself out through the back window and I could feel the mud of the bottom, so I knew I had hit the bottom. And it's pitch black you can't see your hand in front of your face. And basically I just started to swim up. Look, I'm trying to look for the hole, but it was so black you can't see it, you can't see anything.

AMT: How far down did you plunge?

JAKE GARROW: Well, after we went and did the depth finder and GPS the hole, it was 105 feet.

AMT: You didn't know this at the time?

JAKE GARROW: No. No idea.

AMT: That's really deep.


AMT: So you're going, you're dropping down, and it's happening really fast. Like, how fast did this take?

JAKE GARROW: I probably went down in like two or three seconds.

AMT: What are you thinking?

JAKE GARROW: You don't really have time. You just want to get out. I remembered my grandpa had went through a few years earlier and he always just told me, you know, if you ever go through, look for a white hole. Yeah.

AMT: You remembered that.

JAKE GARROW: Yeah. So when I got out, I started looking for a white hole but you can't see nothing. And it feels like you're trying to swim up and I had like my full insulated ski pants on, my work boots. I was lucky enough I had taken my jacket off in the machine because I was warm. And when you're swimming up it feels like you can't tell which way you're going. There's no point of reference, it just, it feels like you’re just getting flopped around. Then I was lucky enough that I was, I guess I was probably about half way up is when I could start to see light and I could see the ice everywhere. And I just happen to be able to see a yellow slushy, it looked like a yellow slushy patch, which I just hoped was the hole. And I swam up to it and lucky enough it was the hole

AMT: That sounds terrifying.

JAKE GARROW: Yeah, you just don't have time to think about that when it’s happening.

AMT: But you needed to find that hole obviously, because otherwise it's like a ceiling over you right?

JAKE GARROW: Yeah. Solid sheet of ice.

AMT: What did it sound like Jake?

JAKE GARROW: it's very quiet. There's nothing, there's no movements, there's no, I guess you can say it's peaceful under there. [chuckles]

AMT: And when you crashed through, what did it sound like? Did you hear a crack, did you hear anything?

JAKE GARROW: You don't hear anything, you just start hearing the water coming in.

AMT: And you're obviously holding your breath through that.

JAKE GARROW: I guess so. Even everyone asked if I got a breath of air or not, I have no idea. That water, I just remember the water hitting me in the face and that was it. I don't remember holding my breath, I don't remember if it took the air out of me. I just remember at one point swimming up trying to, it's almost like your body tells you to breathe but you don't really need to breathe. And I think that the adrenaline kicks in and for a little bit it just feels like you don't need to breathe anymore.

AMT: You make the point that it was pitch black. So at first you don't even know which way is up.

JAKE GARROW: Well, when you come out, you just, you go up. So at that point, when I left the machine I know which way is up. But once I left the machine I couldn't, once I got the first push off of the ground then you don't know which way is up. There's nothing. You're not feeling anything, you're not seeing anything. There's no point of reference that you're moving one way or another, nothing.

AMT: It's sheer survival. You’re just instinct.


AMT: So you saw the what you say was it looked like slush, so you go that way. What happens?

JAKE GARROW: [chuckles] I just swam towards it. And when I got close, I just put my seems kind of funny now but I remember just sticking my hand up because I didn't want to hit my head on the ice. So I just went up real slow and I just kept going up until I was out of the water until I got a breath.

AMT: You just climbed up on the ice?

JAKE GARROW: Well, when I got to the top I just, I grabbed the ice and I actually just kind of laid there for probably a minute or so and just caught my breath. And I kind of figured I only had one shot to get myself out. If I had to struggle too much I’d probably be too tired and too cold to get out. So I just kind of waited for a little bit until I felt I could do it and managed to pull myself up in one shot, stood up, looked around, and there's a lot of cabins that were kind of close that I was thinking about walking to, but I just walked my ice road back to the highway. And there is a store that was under construction. So my idea was to walk towards that store. There was quite a few people who were walking down the side of the highway trying to flag somebody down. I had counted about nine cars just kind of drove around me. Nobody would stop. And finally one of the contractors that I work with, he was heading towards Winnipeg and recognized me, turned around and picked me up.

AMT: Wow. Nobody would stop?

JAKE GARROW: No. And when the police actually called me the following Monday, apparently they tell the thing now is not to stop, it's to phone into the police. So out of the nine cars that I counted, six of them reported me walking on the side of the highway.

AMT: Why do they tell people not to stop?

JAKE GARROW: I guess it's dangerous for them. I am a, you know, I’m 6 foot 3, close to 300 pounds. So I'm not a little guy walking down the road. I had no mitts on, I had no hat on. Probably looked like a crazy snowman.

AMT: Let's talk about that, because you weren't, it’s minus 30, you've just plunged into the water, you're soaking wet and you're only half dressed, like, you've got ski pants on but no jacket.

JAKE GARROW: Yeah, I just had a sweater, just my sweatshirt, ski pants.

AMT: At this point do you feel cold? Are you registering that you’re out in the elements?

JAKE GARROW: Somewhat but not really. I just basically was worried on my fingers. So I kept my hands in fists. My clothes froze up almost immediately when I got out so I couldn't even pull my arms inside my sweatshirt or anything. So I just bawled my fists up and put them over my ears every so often. And I ended up just getting frostbite on one ear.

AMT: Any other damage? Any other physical damage to you?

JAKE GARROW: I blew one of my ear drums. Really that's about it. Now my fingers and ears get cold really quick. That’s about it.

AMT: So a guy who knows you picks you up and you go home? That's it? Like do you go to the hospital?

JAKE GARROW: No, I just went home and had a hot shower. I actually did a little bit of paperwork and then my girlfriend and mom made me go. I guess it was, I'm not sure, I think it was that night I went. They brought me around 7:00, but there was a severe car accident came into the hospital, so we just ended up going home.

AMT: You're pretty tough.

JAKE GARROW: I have a few doctor clients. So I ended up calling them and one of them has a sister who is out here. So they kind of gave me a rundown of what I should be taking and what I should be doing. And everything worked out.

AMT: Mm. When did you realize that you had gone that deep?

JAKE GARROW: When I got home, my dad and brother came out to check on me. And he had asked, you know, how deep did you go? And I said well I know I hit the bottom and it was a far swim so, you know, maybe 40, 50 feet. And he just kind of told me I was full of crap, that there's no way I could have swam that far. So went out with his depth finder and checked the spot, and it said 105, and he didn't believe it. So he took a picture of all the settings on his depth finder, went home and researched to make sure he was reading it correctly. And sure enough he was. And when we checked on the map for insurance and the environment of Canada, or the environmental people, the map says 99. So it was right on.

AMT: Wow, this is your dad who did the measurement?


AMT: I guess you could say I told you so. [laughs]

JAKE GARROW: [laughs] Well I was wrong but.

AMT: What was your dad's reaction when he realized?

JAKE GARROW: I don’t know, he didn't say too much.

AMT: It's such an incredible story, because you could have easily been killed.

JAKE GARROW: Yeah, I was probably one, I don’t know, maybe 30 seconds away from, if that. If it was 120 feet, I probably wouldn’t have made it. I don't know if I could have held my, I don't know. You don't know until it happens I guess.

AMT: Yeah. Have you been out working on ice roads since then?

JAKE GARROW: Yeah, I went back out on Monday. The Monday after.

AMT: What was that like for you?

JAKE GARROW: Just normal.

AMT: You weren't nervous. You weren't?

JAKE GARROW: No. We, not really. We just went back to work as normal.

AMT: Did you double check the thickness? Do anything you didn't normally do?

JAKE GARROW: No, because there's only so much you can do. You can follow the ministry standards but you still can't check every square foot of the lake. So no matter whenever you're driving on an ice road, you never know for sure that it is the same depth as five feet away when you're checking it. It could vary ten inches in a matter of four or five feet. So, you know, I've been doing this quite a while now. I work on the lake, you know, basically five days a week, and I always knew at some point something was going to go through. I just never thought it would be that deep and I'd go right to the bottom. When a truck goes through usually you have a little more time to get out, it sinks a lot slower. Skid-steer sinks like a rock.

AMT: What an incredible story. And so when you're on that lake, when you're on that ice road now clearing, what are you thinking about?

JAKE GARROW: Well, right now we’re hustling to get everything done, because the road conditions have really went for a turn for the worse. So it's just one of those things that's bound to happen. People that work on the lake as much as I do, and opening roads and plowing roads, you're going to, something's going to go through eventually. You just do everything you can to make it as safe as possible I guess.

AMT: And I guess for those of us in southern cities, we need to understand those ice roads are really, they’re your only way to get stuff done right? And get transportation. You've got a finite window there to get to places you can’t otherwise get to.

JAKE GARROW: Yeah, we do barge a lot of stuff to the islands and that. But it's a lot cheaper, more economical to do a lot of the work in the wintertime along the roads.

AMT: Have you noticed a change in the seasons with the ice roads at all?

JAKE GARROW: This year with the extreme temperature changes, we had minus 30 one day and within three, four days we had plus seven. So it affects the ice a lot.

AMT: Well, it's a harrowing story. I'm glad you've lived to tell it. It's good to talk to you.


AMT: Thank you. Take care.


AMT: Jake Garrow spoke to us from outside of Winnipeg. He was on Lake of the Woods. Let's go to Buffalo, New York now. Angelica Morrison is a radio reporter there, she heads up the Great Lakes Today journalism collaborative. Her group reports on many issues related to the Great Lakes, and this year ice has been the big story. Angelica Morrison joins us from Buffalo. Hello.


AMT: When we talk about the Great Lakes area, what are you actually covering?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Here at Great Lakes Today, we cover the area along the Great Lakes corridor, along Great Lakes basin, including areas in Canada as well.

AMT: OK. So outlying lakes as well. And so how deadly has this winter been in that area?

ANGELICA MORRISON: This winter, more than 33 people have died and that includes areas along the Canadian basin as well. Up north on Lake Winnipesaukee, that's in New Hampshire, three snowmobilers broke through the ice and died in a single weekend. One victim was a 15-year-old boy. On your side of the border in Canada, there was a 16-year-old girl, she died as well, she was on a snowmobile with her boyfriend, in February. She ended up going under the water and dying.

AMT: And so how do those numbers compare to previous years?

ANGELICA MORRISON: It's hard to gauge. Here in New York State, the number was around four last year compared to nearly a dozen this year. So that's quite a spike. Local authorities and environmental officials are warning about higher than normal reports of ice fatalities and near misses in the Great Lakes region.

AMT: So what's different about the conditions this year?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Yes, I spoke with Chris Fallon. He's here in New York state with our Parks department snowmobile unit. Take a listen to what he says.


CHRIS FALLON: It has not been a real cold winter and a lot of times the ice has not been safe. It's just the speed that operators are going on those bodies of water, and you don't know what's underneath the snow.

ANGELICA MORRISON: That's right, you don't know what's underneath the snow. So unseasonable warm weather is thawing these lakes that are typically frozen this time of year.

AMT: Mm. And so how do those conditions affect ice fishermen and snowmobilers?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Well, snowmobiling is a popular sport back in New Hampshire, Lake Pontanipo, riders love the wide open spaces. So, you know, it isn't uncommon to see them set up makeshift roads and race tracks, and they're actually on the ice zooming around. But even the seasoned riders sometimes they can forget the risks that come with snowmobiling and fishing on the ice. It's something that the family of Edward and Stephen Sattler learned this year.

AMT: Who are they? What happened?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Well Edward and Stephen Sattler are brothers. They live just outside of Buffalo. They have over 40 years of snowmobile experience. And what happened, they were starting a snowmobile trip. It was supposed to be a family trip. They're going to the Adirondacks, where they had a cabin, and the rest of the family was going to meet them. I spoke with Ryan Sattler, Edward's son, we met at a coffee shop. He was still a little raw from the experience.


We were all going up roughly a week after they went up, was the plan.

ANGELICA MORRISON: But Anna Maria, the trip didn't go according to plan.

AMT: What happened?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Ryan got a call from his aunt. She said that his uncle and his father were missing. The family as soon as they heard, they rushed up to the cabin, it was near Racket pond, and that's in north eastern New York. When they got there, they couldn't, they wanted to participate in the search immediately but they couldn't. There were search crews, state officials, helicopters, air boats. And while all this was going, on the family waited.


The waiting part was horrible, to be honest. You know, I think at some point, you know, I’m like, I just want to go do something.

AMT: So they were waiting. And what did they eventually find, what did the authorities find?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Yeah, waiting’s definitely the hardest part. But eventually the waiting was over. And here's what Ryan had to say about that.


So they told us they found debris in the water, they wouldn't really give us any specifics as to what the debris was. And the helicopter landed which, you know, logically we're thinking well if the helicopter landed then they must have some degree of certainty.

ANGELICA MORRISON: So Anna Maria, the helicopter landed and they did find something. They found the bodies of Edward and Stephen Sattler, you know, his dad and his uncle. And today they really don't know what happened, you know. And they think that maybe they were disoriented by the Adirondack snow squalls.

AMT: Mm. So even though they were very experienced.


AMT: Are there warnings out, given the conditions now?

ANGELICA MORRISON: What they're doing is they're basically asking snowmobilers and ice fishermen when they're out there, to use caution. Very important. And to check with local law enforcement and other agencies regarding the thickness of the ice when they're out there. Stay on the trails and then use visual clues. You know, like colour, and know that if there's snow on the ice, a lot of times the snow serves as like an insulator and sometimes that means the ice underneath might not be stable. And of course, absolutely no drinking and riding.

AMT: Are a lot of these incidents due to alcohol?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Alcohol is a factor in lots of snowmobile accidents, but these ones I'm from when I was told, speed was the number one factor. Going over that ice super-fast is not a safe thing to do.

AMT: If it has been such a dangerous season Angelica, because of the weather, why are people still risking going on the ice?

ANGELICA MORRISON: Well, people do it because of passion, passion for the sport. The Sattlers for example, the whole family was passionate, not just about snowmobiling but about adventure sports in general. Ryan told me about his family's love for adventure sports and how it started. Let's take a listen.


My dad and my uncle built race cars as well and they used to drag race at Lancaster. And so we were all involved in that as well. But they sold their last race car that they built, probably about eight years ago or so. So this was kind of our other family bonding, you know, kind of guy thing that we used to like to do together. And so it was, you know, it was part of our blood almost.

ANGELICA MORRISON: So when I asked him if this is an activity that that their family continues to plan to do as a family, snowmobiling, I wasn't too surprised by the answer.


It's something that we all enjoy doing together very much. And I don't think they'd want us to stop snowmobiling.

AMT: Hm. Well as he says, it's in their blood.


AMT: It's a sad story though eh, when people are killed because they're out there enjoying a winter sport. Angelica Morrison, thank you.


AMT: Angelica Morrison, reporter with Great Lakes Today in Buffalo, New York.

[Music: Fleet Foxes]

AMT: That is White Winter Hymnal, music from the band Fleet Foxes. Coming up in our next half hour, it is Canada's sesquicentennial, but not everyone is celebrating. Resisting Canada 150 in about 90 seconds. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.

[Music: Extro]

Back To Top »

What does Canada 150 mean for Indigenous communities?

Guests: Lillian Howard, Christi Belcourt, Eric Ritskes

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.


[Sound: fireworks]

RICK MERCER: Canada turns 150 next year, and yes, there will be fireworks in Ottawa. Amazing fireworks.

VOICE 1: Happy Birthday Canada.


VOICE : 150 years young.

VOICE 3: You don't turn 150 every year.

MELANIE JOLY: 2017 is here, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Let the celebrations begin. In the coming year, Canadians in every community across the country will join together to mark this important milestone. This is your moment. This is our moment. Let's all embrace this opportunity to celebrate the rich heritage and cultural diversity that makes Canada such a great place to live.

AMT: Well, that is just a taste of celebrations getting underway for Canada's 150th anniversary this year. Messages from Tourism Ottawa, the CBC, Canada's Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly as well. And you can be sure that as Canada Day approaches on July 1st, there will be Canada 150 festivities everywhere you look, along with plenty of the celebratory tone we just heard in those clips. But not everyone finds that tone entirely appropriate. For First Nations people, the territory known as Canada is much much older than a century and a half. And the 150 years of this nation's history is hardly a cause for great celebration for many. So we have gathered together three guests to share their thoughts on how First Nations should or should not mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Lillian Howard is from the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation. She is co-chair of the Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Peoples Advisory Committee, that's a panel that advises Vancouver city hall and Vancouver city staff on how to enhance access and inclusion for urban Indigenous people to fully participate in the services the city offers and civic life. Lillian Howard joins us from our Vancouver studio. Christi Belcourt is a Métis visual artist and one of the creators of the #Resist150 hashtag. And she joins us from Espanola, Ontario. And Eric Ritskes is a Ph.D. candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He's the editor of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society. And he's in our Toronto studio. Welcome everyone, hello.

LILLIAN HOWARD: Good morning.



AMT: Lillian Howard, I want to start with you. You are co-chair of this committee that came up with a concept of Canada 150+ in Vancouver. What is that?

LILLIAN HOWARD: Canada 150+ is a term that we had come up with that during one of our urban Aboriginal peoples advisory committee. It was presented to us, we were asked what our thoughts were on participating in 150. And the committee strongly felt that we could not really participate in that, as it was, and we'd certainly get resistance from our Indigenous community in Vancouver. After a lengthy lengthy discussion, the notion had been brought up about adding plus, Canada 150+. And after more discussion, we realised that we could participate in something like that because 150 reflects the colonial history of Canada and the historical trauma that Indigenous peoples face all over the country. And given that we're in the spirit of reconciliation here in Vancouver and following the TRC, truth and reconciliation call to action recommendations, we thought that maybe we could work with it if it was Canada 150+, meaning that the plus would represent the moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation, and telling a truth about the history of Canada. And to the dark past or the dark secrets of Canada with respect to First Nations. So that's where we're coming from on that.

AMT: The challenging the idea that history did not begin with Confederation.

LILLIAN HOWARD: Exactly. For example, in my own community, archaeological digging they’re doing there. I participated in the dig that, as far as we went, it was 11,000 years.

AMT: Christi Belcourt, what were you thinking as you heard that montage calling on Canadians to celebrate 150 years of Canadian history?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: Good morning Anna Maria. Well, I find it really insulting that there is, as Lillian just said, you know, 11,000, 15,000, 20,000 years of history in this continent and yet Canadians are going to celebrate their 150, completely erasing and ignoring the, you know, thousands upon thousands of years of Indigenous experience of knowing and being on these lands. So I find it very insulting. You know, you played a clip by Minister Joly at the beginning. And she, there's something that's funded through Canada 150 called the Red Couch project and she was filmed on that couch for a little two minute clip saying that Canada is made up of a social contract. And social contract is a philosophy that originates in Europe, which says that people will voluntarily come together to be, you know, to govern themselves and to be governed. Well, when did Indigenous people ever agree to be governed by Canada? When did Indigenous people ever agree to be part of this country that stole their lands? When did Indigenous people ever agree that their children would be taken at a rate into childcare higher than when the Residential schools happened? I mean, there are so many things that we can point to where we never agreed to have our sovereignty erased or usurped for Canadian law.

AMT: Yeah, and so Christi, what do you think of the idea of Canada 150+? Does that address anything for you?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: I actually don't like Canada 150 at all. But I would leave it up to other people in their own regions and territories to decide what works best for them. I mean, obviously, you know, Lillian has beautiful projects that she's probably working on and that as she said in the spirit of truth, as part of the reconciliation, that's going to be what works best for her so.

AMT: OK, but you have your own projects. You're one of the creators of #Resist150. Tell us about that.

CHRISTI BELCOURT: We started a Twitter account Resistance 150. Tanya Kappo, Isaac Murdoc, Maria Campbell, and myself to highlight the history of resistance, resilience, rebellion, resurgence, and restoration. There's this massive movement that's really beautiful that's happening within Indigenous communities all over, mostly being led by young people, who are desperate for their languages and desperate for a return and restoration of the things that were stolen. So we wanted to highlight all of these things that are happening. There's really amazing people in our communities doing wonderful things.

AMT: Lillian Howard, what are your thoughts on that idea? Of challenging the celebration completely with Resist 150.

LILLIAN HOWARD: As Christi mentioned, I think it's entirely up to first, the Indigenous peoples across the country. Even here in Vancouver, there will be some people who do not want to participate and we all have that individual choice. And we just happen to be a group of people who thought that we could make use of that time to highlight the Indigenous culture and to address the Indigenous past. To tell the truth but also to celebrate our survival. And I think that's where we're coming from. And there will be resistance and we are a very diverse Indigenous community across the country, so we of course, some of us still have mixed feelings, but the idea is to celebrate our culture and celebrate our resistance.

AMT: Eric Ritskes, you are listening and waiting patiently for me to come to you. You created your own Canada 150 logo but instead of saying Canada, it says Colonialism 150. Talk to me about that. Why?

ERIC RITSKES: I think one of the questions that when a celebration like Canada 150 comes up is what exactly are we celebrating? When Canada, we recognize that Canada was founded on and continues to be upheld by violence against Indigenous peoples, as well as against black people and other people of colour. And that these colonial and racialized violence is something that's normalized and part of what Canada is. So despite the sort of lip service to reconciliation, even within the Canada 150 platform, many Indigenous folks have asked how can we reconcile with a state that is still harming us and still violating our rights as Indigenous nations and hasn't really taken significant steps to rectify that. So I think the Colonialism 150 logo that I created has resonated, because it presents a challenge to the celebration and reveals that while the past 150 years might be a cause for celebration for some folks, it has come at the cost of others. And that's quite a significant cost.

AMT: OK. Let's go back 50 years. Montreal was hosting Expo 67, which included what was called an Indian Pavilion. I want you to listen to this CBC report from inside that pavilion.


Let's move, Ms. Robinson, into the final part of the pavilion. And here the perhaps note of unhappiness or the note of questioning comes into the Indians of Canada Pavilion, because we see here that everything isn't really entirely happy with the situation of the Indians in Canada. What are you what, what is your point that you're trying to make in this section Ms. Robinson?

ROBINSON: Well here we definitely see the different values of both societies. The Indian child, when he first goes to school, he has to learn a new language, sometimes two. And quite often he has been forbidden to speak his own Indian language. In the schools, he doesn't learn anything about his history, his ancestors, or his traditions.

AMT: OK. That is CBC reporter Bob McGregor being led through what they called the Indian Pavilion at Expo 67. Eric, what are you thinking as you listen to that?

ERIC RITSKES: I think it's quite striking to me that 50 years ago we had a very similar discussion as we're having right now about Canada 150. A lot of Indigenous artists and activists mobilized a lot of critical energy to push back on Canada at Expo 67. When the Indian Pavilion was created, it really wasn't intended to be a critical space but a number of artists really mobilized in that space to create that kind of critical energy. Artists such as Norval Morisseau, Alex Janvier, and others were involved in that and really mobilized this critical energy for Anishinaabe poet Duke Redbird called “to use it as a fulcrum for creating a new relationship with Canada”. And here we are 50 years later, sort of looking at that and that really didn't materialize. And here we are with Indigenous artists like Kent Monkman, Christi Belcourt who's here, again, sort of pushing back and mobilizing this critical energy to again, speak back against this colonial narrative.

AMT: It's interesting huh? Andrew Tanahokate Delisle, Commissioner General of the Indians of Canada Pavilion from that time, told CBC archives that they went across the country and they asked different bands what they wanted to show at the pavilion. And the thing that kept coming up was their anger at the government at that time, as you point out. Lillian Howard, do you remember Expo 67?


AMT: And what did you think as you listen to that clip?

LILLIAN HOWARD: I think that during that time, Indigenous peoples weren't really anywhere on the radars agreeing within government or within Canadian society. And I was one of the activists of the day. And we, I think for the most part, a majority of Indigenous people here in BC didn't participate. At that time, there's very little participation.

AMT: And it's interesting, Christi, at the end there, there was some acknowledgement of how Indigenous children were forbidden to speak their language in schools. Was there some beginning of understanding there that has, like, only kind of permeated the rest of society now? Like how do you see that conversation then and now?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: I find it really interesting listening back to those old tapes. There's something that I listened to recently which was George Erasmus’ interview with CBC, you know, back in 25, I think at the 125 celebration. And he, you know, he very poignantly pointed out that he said that my generation, he was talking about himself, is the generation that Canada will see that will want to negotiate, that will want to sit down. But there are so many things that need to be dealt with that if Canada doesn't move on those things then the next coming generations will not be so easily, you know, so easily peacefully. I think he said so peaceful. He said the young generation is going to be one that, you know, really looks for a reckoning of some of these things.

AMT: Christi, we played that earlier in the program actually just to promote that we were going to talk to you guys. But we just pulled it up again. Let's listen to George Erasmus from that time.


GEORGE ERASMUS: What are we going to celebrate? Are we going to celebrate that it took until 1959 before we could vote in this country? Are we going to celebrate that it took until 1968 that we could vote in Québéc? What are we going to celebrate? I don't like what has happened over the last 500 years, 125 years. But what are we going to do about the next 500 years?

AMT: OK. So 25 years later, Eric, what are you thinking?

ERIC RITSKES: Well I mean, as Christi said, I think the challenge is that the younger generation is coming up and that they're a lot less willing to be pacified, a lot less willing to take the government at its word. And I think, I mean, it's a really deep challenging question. What does it mean to ask a settler colonial state that's founded on this violence, that continues to be upheld by this violence, that continues to exist on unceded Indigenous land to be less colonial or to be uncolonial. And so really the I think the primary challenge here is Canada itself. I think it begins, you know, 25 years later we're thinking again, how do we move past first steps here? We've had 150 years of, you know, trying out first steps. And I think what we really need to see is a serious commitment to not only sort of reparations but also to supporting Indigenous resurgence of sovereignty apart from the Canadian state.

AMT: OK. So what does that mean? Like, let's talk about that. Because obviously this goes beyond a day or even a year of celebrations of the Confederation.

ERIC RITSKES: Absolutely.

AMT: Of the 150. It's almost the symbolic marker for what you're talking about right? So what tangible concrete things would you like to see begin to happen in this year that actually speak to, you know, a ten-year-old, an Indigenous ten-year-old 25 years from now, saying they finally got it.

ERIC RITSKES: Right. And I think that's a huge question. I mean, Trudeau--

AMT: I know, and I’m looking for a quick answer.

ERIC RITSKES: [laughs]

AMT: but you know what I’m trying to get at.

ERIC RITSKES: Absolutely. And I think Trudeau, I mean, took a lot of heat earlier in the year saying the Indigenous youth wanted canoe storage. And it obviously goes much deeper than that. So I think it begins both with sort of reparations, both monetary and returning land. It needs to be in the form of meaningful and significant change to Canada and also Canadians attitude towards Indigenous people. And if you want a nation to nation relationship based on treaties, which is something that this government has at least paid lip service to, then you have to actually recognize and support Indigenous nations that you're in a relationship with, rather than trying to dismantle and extinguish them. And I think this really isn't something novel that I'm putting forward. Indigenous peoples have been asserting their sovereignty, maintaining their cultural forms of knowledge and ways of being in opposition to a state that every turn has tried to exterminate them. So the big question really is for those of us who are non-Indigenous Canadians, when are we going to start listening to Indigenous peoples? And when are we going to start actively working to change the conditions of the relationship in significant and meaningful ways?

AMT: OK. So Lillian Howard, what do you want to see? What do you want to see come out of the 150 discussion that can actually move the people of this country, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, forward in a way that is more acceptable to you?

LILLIAN HOWARD: I think I want to give this notion or concept of Canada 150+ some context. The city of Vancouver has Urban Aboriginal Peoples advisory committee, which they appoint. And it was the urban Aboriginal Peoples advisory committee and Reconciliation Canada that put together a resolution for Councillor Reimer to present to council that we have a year of reconciliation 2013 to 2014, and that we make Vancouver a city for reconciliation. That resolution was passed unanimously. And of course, there is follow up to that. So there was a proclamation read out to by our mayor in that year. And it was really to, the year of reconciliation was to begin a process of mending the past, sharing understanding, really working on meaningful change. And it was done through gatherings, dialogue, storytelling, workshops, cultural and programmes.

AMT: And do you feel there has been some meaningful change since that point Lillian?

LILLIAN HOWARD: In Vancouver, only speaking for Vancouver, certainly there has been. We did have the Reconciliation Week in 2013 with the RC, Reconciliation Canada Vancouver and Vancity. And it was an amazing event that took place at the TRC forum. Had like hundreds of First Nations giving testimony. We had the all nations gathering, which was included over 50 canoes being officially welcomed by the local First Nations. We had the reconciliation walk with 70,000 people participating. And following that event, we launched the discussion around the framework on how can we make Vancouver a city of reconciliation. So it's based on all those in the past two years of really work, really hard to work between the leadership of Vancity, Vancouver city council and staff and Reconciliation Canada and other organizations in telling the truth about what happened to our people. And also to OK, how can we move forward? How can we work together? And so we tell the truth, and there's some acknowledgement there. And it's a hard one, because one has to reconcile within. I certainly, I'm a fourth generation Residential school survivor and I was sexually abused at age of 6 and 7. So it took me a long long time for me to go through that healing journey. And it's only during that week of the Reconciliation Week that I was able to with hundreds of other Residential school survivors, I felt I was not alone. And that there was hundreds of us that went through that, thousands of us.

AMT: Christi, what do you want to add to what Lillian is saying?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: Oh well, I appreciate what Lillian is saying very much and Eric, both of my co-panel members. But what I would like to see for myself for Canada in the future, because as you said, it does go beyond just this year of celebration. Is I actually want to see crown lands returned. I want to see crown lands returned into 100 per cent control by Indigenous people. I want to see our languages fully restored and thriving. And also I want to see the waters cleaned. I want to see the lands cleaned. I don't want to see tar sands expanded. I want to see climate change really addressed. And the whole country, Indigenous people as sovereign nations and Canadians, working towards green technology that will change, you know, that will help the planet. I mean, we're facing really critical times coming up and the young people are telling us that all the time that they want the language, they want land based experiences and a return to traditions and protocols. But they also want to have a future that they can look to where, you know, there is a clean environment for them and for their children and for all of our great grandchildren to come. So these are the things that are really pressing I think.

AMT: And Christi, do you see any benefit to the fact that Indigenous people are talking about this in the 150 year, so that non-Indigenous people will understand this at another level? Is there an opportunity that you see here at all in the Resist 150 that way?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: I think any time we can have a conversation about this it's important. And I think that there are conversations like this going on all across the country, which are really great. But I also see that there's an environmental movement for the waters and for the lands that's being led primarily by Indigenous people. There is a lot of resistance by the Canadian state to our resisting the pipelines and the other projects that are going on that are devastating our lands. And I think that as time goes on and as pollution and as the waters begin to become more and more poisoned, that Canadians are seeing the wisdom of Indigenous ways of being on the land and they're starting to join in with the movements. So I think that this is sort of the future of what we're looking at, is that we have to be aware that there is a sort of some confrontation coming over water. And that's going to be the next front that people are going to have to face all over the continent.

AMT: Now, we're almost out of time. Before I let you all go then, we'll go back to this, the 150 celebrations, we heard the stuff off the top. I wonder where you will be on July 1st? Eric.

ERIC RITSKES: [laughs] I'll probably be celebrating with Indigenous folks around the nation as they celebrate their resistance to Canada and 150 years of that.

AMT: Lillian Howard, where will you be?

LILLIAN HOWARD: I will be in Vancouver with hundreds of other people and Indigenous peoples and allies. Or with my canoe family on the water, one or the other.

AMT: And Christi?

CHRISTI BELCOURT: I'm going to be in the bush. We're going to be building our Culture Camp Forever for youth and elders.

AMT: It's really important to hear all of you, thank you so much.

ERIC RITSKES: Thank you.


AMT: That is Lillian Howard. She is from the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation, co-chair of the Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Peoples Advisory Committee. She's in Vancouver. Christi Belcourt is a Métis visual artist, one of the creators of #Resist150. She's in Espanola, Ontario. Eric Ritskes is a PhD candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Editor of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society. He's in our Toronto studio. We want to hear from you on this. Has Canada done enough to acknowledge the experience of First Nations people as the country marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation? Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, post on our Facebook page. Email us by clicking on contact at And we’ve got a little bit of time for a credit roll. Here we go.


WILLOW SMITH: Hi, I'm Willow Smith one of the producers here at The Current. This week the show was produced by Idella Sturino, Howard Goldenthal, Ines Calabrese, John Chipman, Sam Colbert, Lara O’brien, Shannon Higgins, Sujata Berry, Kristin Nelson, Liz Hoath, Karin Marley, Samira Moyeddin, Pacinte Mattar and Stephanie Kampf. The Current’s writer is Peter Mitton. Our web producer is Lisa Ayuso and with help this week from Sarah Claydon. Ruby Buiza is our interactive producer. Transcriptions are provided by Eunice Kim and Rignam Wangkhang. Our technical producers are Gary Francis and Jennifer Rowley. Our documentary editor is Josh Bloch. Our senior producers are Richard Goddard in Toronto and Cathy Simon in Vancouver. The executive producer of The Current is Kathleen Goldhar.

AMT: That's our program for today. We've got one more voice on the subject of Canada's 150th birthday. Earlier this year Mark Critch of CBC Television's This Hour Has 22 Minutes asked the current National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde for his thoughts. We will leave you with that exchange. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti, thanks for listening to The Current.


MARK CRITCH: 150 is coming up. You must find that hilarious huh?

PERRY BELLEGARDE: Every time I go across Canada, chiefs and leaders and people say as Indigenous peoples what are we going to celebrate?


PERRY BELLEGARDE: 150 years of what? Colonization and poor housing and overcrowded black mould.

MARK CRITCH: Pshhho, psshoo, psssho.

PERRY BELLEGARDE: And high youth suicide. All this stuff. And then I say this way though, in spite of that, we're going to celebrate not so much the last 150 years, let's celebrate the next 150 years.

[Music: Extro]

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