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Guest Wab Kinew

Honest Injun... Indian giver... Cowboys and Indians... These are just expressions that have creeped into our language. They don't really mean anything... right? Wrong. Wab Kinew knows all about words. The Native hip hop artist and host of CBC's documentary series, '8th Fire' took on his own bosses in a fight over words. Are the children of residential schools simply former students? Or are they, as Wab insisted, survivors? For Wab that fight was close to home. His father grew up in a residential school like more than a hundred thousand other Native children. He was brutalized and terrorized. And lived.

For Wab, his father wasn't merely a former student.The residential school mission of "killing the Indian in the child" quite often simply killed the child. For those who managed to stay alive, Wab wanted Canadians to know that the story of Aboriginal people today isn't limited to the words - and pictures - we are used to. Images of communities in crisis - of broken down homes, mouldy trailer, and grinding poverty - taken in Aboriginal and Inuit communities like Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, and Davis Inlet.

These pictures tell Native and non-Native Canadians the only relationship these two groups can have is one based on charity - helper and helped. '8th Fire' is trying to change that. Its premise? Native and non-Native Canadians can have relationships based on mutual trust and benefit. Wab stands at the divide of these two solitudes, holding out his hand. He calls himself an ambassador for First Nations people. And he says it's about time Canadians - all of us - figure this relationship out.

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