Latest story from the July/August 2018 issue of The Walrus

Hello everyone,

 

If you want to read my latest story in The Walrus you can find that link here.

It was a lot of fun to write this story. I really had no idea where it was going or coming from and that is a good sign that something other than the self is directing the word on the page. I still laugh when I read it and hopefully you will too.

Please note-this story may be quite difficult for fans of David Thompson. My only suggestion is to get a life. I mean seriously, there are a lot of other interesting hobbies and such that one could pursue. Thompson is so 1805.

Other than that, put on the kettle, make some tea, enjoy the story and always buy the 50/50.

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Hakyaxamik-to tell one’s life story

My latest work entitled ‘Hakayaxamik’ appears in this month’s issue of The Walrus. You can check out this link to read the article or go out and buy a copy of the magazine and read it for yourself.

I am fortunate to have the illustrator Tallulah Fontaine provide work for the story. Shout out to Alicia Elliott for this break. She is a phenomenal writer and a leader within our   Indigenous writing community. My mom and my brother also deserve thanks for their support in telling this story.

Taxa

 

 

 

 

Premier Horgan’s Great Leap Backward

“There has been over 150 years of disappointment in British Columbia, I’m not the first person to stand before you and disappoint Indigenous peoples”. – BC Premier John Horgan

History is littered with watershed moments-moments that represent the end of one era and the beginning of another. For Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, the approval of the Site C dam represents one of those moments.  Instead of it being a day of justice and respect for Indigenous peoples free, prior and informed consent we received something much less.  Today the NDP government of Premier John Horgan set the bar as low as possible for the province’s relations with Indigenous peoples. Welcome to the great leap backward.

For the better part of two decades, and for much of this century, the BC Liberals governed British Columbia. During that time, the Opposition NDP was steadfast in its guise of solidarity towards Indigenous peoples. It was a convenient pantomime. Opposition to the 2002 referendum on treaties, the practice of pipeline politics and the utterance of the rally cry of ‘Jumbo Wild’ were all matters of convenience for a party of perpetual second best.

This spring’s muddled election result brought humility to Christ Clark and power to John Horgan and Andrew Weaver. For a few weeks this summer, we were subject to an ongoing saga of will they or won’t they. Finally, at a rugby game outside of Victoria, Horgan and Weaver found Jesus. I suppose this was the first fidget of suspicion- rugby is as colonial a tapestry to backlight settler power as anything else. No sooner than Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon could utter the words, Christy Clark and her bevy of native shawls were out and the terror of Reynolds Secondary began.

I was one of those people who held some hope for this government. Of course, I was suspicious of the framework of piety towards the party’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Those annoying iTunes terms and conditions agreements receive deeper consideration than settler politics apply to UNDRIP and TRC these days.

In spite of these reservations, I held hope that they would do the right thing. They had usually said the right thing and often had done the right thing too. With the swearing in ceremony behind them, and the boiler plate mandate letters to cabinet on UNDRIP and TRC in place, time was of the essence. Action was at hand.

But that is not what happened.

As the summer dragged on hope turned into an echo of expectation. By Labour Day, it was clear that the NDP was not going to do much of anything at all for Indigenous peoples. Whilst we were told to wait for action and that real change was not possible in the short term, we saw the removal of bridge tolls, an increase of a billion dollars in spending across government, a commitment to electoral reform and other announcements that clearly indicated what and who this government cares about.

If last three months has been a slow backslide, today’s decision is a great leap backward.

Premier Horgan’s decision to approve the Site C dam represents the sort of settler duplicity Indigenous peoples are all to familiar with. It is more than that however. Horgan’s decision is a repudiation of the UNDRIP framework of free, prior and informed consent that many have spent decades if not lifetimes working to establish.

Site C’s approval only happens with the rejection of UNDRIP’s framework of free, prior and informed consent. For Premier Horgan and his supporters, Indigenous peoples only deserve to have a chance to be heard and not to have our voices respected. Indigenous consent does not matter to the NDP government.

This is settler erasure in action.

Just consider this quote from the Premier:

“surely we can get passed the acrimony around a big issue a big project and start focusing on the things that matter to people”

The message is clear-the ‘people’ who matter to the Premier are not Indigenous peoples who withhold consent. Only the Weinsteins of settler society could uphold such grievous beliefs.  We know where this this sort of ideology leads. The erasure of our rights and destruction of our land leads to the erasure of Indigenous peoples. It is violence by any definition.

Site C will be built. Treaty 8 lands will be lost under unionized concrete and social democratic hymns.

Bray on, brothers and sisters. Once again, the spectre of settler solidarity is at hand.

 

Who is Troy Andrew Sebastian?

Good evening. How are you doing? I am doing well. The city lingers on the cusp of midnight. It is as peaceful a summer night that I can recall here in Lkwungen territory. I grew up in summer heat. In Sylix territory and in Ktunaxa territory too. I feel summer most during the hot, dark twilight, when the wind is peaceful and stars are plenty. That is not what we get in the city. Still, tonight feels close to that so I am grateful.

I have been meaning to post an introduction on this page for some time. I figure it is worth doing. Four years after I created this page, or perhaps created the intention of this page, I am finally using it. Most of what I wrote below was done at the end of Spring nearly a month ago. I was listening to late night baseball and got finally writing an introductory post about me.  Time to put the kettle on for some tea. So here it goes…

Admit it. You caught yourself wondering who the hell is this guy.  I often wonder that myself. Currently, I am listening to the Yankees take on the Angels. There is something very wonderful about listening to baseball on the radio. I have found myself doing that this year while I am writing. More on that later.

I have to admit that I intended to post content on this page a lot sooner. Well, here is the first post. Congrats. You are getting in on the ground floor.

I am Ktunaxa from the St. Mary’s Indian Band. This is our spot back home.

home on the range aqam

Check out that beautiful, unceded Ktunaxa territory. Ktunaxa amakis is so beautiful. That’s my brother’s house on the right.

You can read the ‘about’ section on this page and it will tell you something about me. Yes, I write poetry and prose. Sometimes I love it, most of the time it is enough to keep me going. I am working on two book projects; the first a novel and the second a book project for and about my nation.

If you are interested in my writing you can snag a deuce of a poem in this edition of The Malahat Review. I also interviewed Leanne Betasamosake Simpson  and Richard Van Camp for that issue as well. What an amazing assembly of writers in that issue. Glad to have been a part of that racket.

NATIVE WAVES RADIO

For the past few years I have been broadcasting with Janet Marie Rogers on Native Waves Radio. (and btw- if you have been a fan of that show and you are finding this, well hell pard’ner. Welcome back. Time to put on the kettle for some tea.)

Janet is absolutely amazing and if you haven’t purchased her latest book of poetry  what are you doing? Xina! Go and get it. You won’t regret it.

Although we have put Native Waves Radio on hiatus for a little while you can listen to my interview with the late Richard Wagamese  from last summer. What is not in the interview is our conversation about the Boston Red Sox. I knew he was a BoSox fan and ever since I visited Boston as a little big guy, I have always had a soft spot for the team. When I am listening to baseball on the radio, I feel like, wherever Richard is now, somehow he too is also listening. And he is cheering for the Boston Red Sox.

Helluva guy that Richard.

Oh ya, there are also a few Native Waves Radio episodes on my Soundcloud account you can check out. Here I am at the CFUV studios during an episode from last year. (And yes, that is a Star Wars Death Star trench tuxedo t-shirt and a Targaryen laptop skin)T Seb CFUV

I should be posting more from our catalogue this summer. If you did not get a chance to listen to our ‘Bannock on the Radio’ episode you really missed out. We had a bannock baking contest on the radio and it was a lot fun. I’ll get that up soon. I promise.

Oh, ya, there is that interview with Joseph Boyden recording during the promotion of Going Home Star .We spent most of the time talking about the ballet and only briefly touched on identity. which certainly was a missed opportunity, though I did try to go there. Anna Marie Tramonti I am not. What a legend btw.

QAT’MUK

What else have I been up to over the past decade? Right, protecting the Grizzly Bear Spirit.

Qat’muk is a sacred area in Ktunaxa amakis. For the past three decades, developers have been trying to build a ski resort up there and we keep telling them no. To make a long story short, and I might post something about this in another blog,  Ktunaxa Nation Council’s efforts to oppose this development have gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Ktunaxa have been working hard on our legal defence of Qat’muk and are looking forward to an upcoming decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Maybe you saw the documentary Jumbo Wild. It was produced by Patagonia and was a huge hit on Netflix. I wrote a piece for Patagonia about our efforts to Protect Qat’muk and you can check that our here

Speaking of Anna Maria Tramonit, CBC’s The Current interview KNC Chair Kathryn Teneese about our Supreme Court Case last December. You can hear that interview here.

What else?  Oh ya, I have been working on a documentary about our Supreme Court Case with the great peoples at Hot Docs. Our short documentary is called ‘Last Resort’ directed by Vivian Belik, and it is part of the feature documentary “In the Name of All Canadians“. Check out the trailer

MORE WRITING

Before I end this whirlwind tour of what I have been up to, I should mention a few more of my publications. First off, is the Royal BC Museums’ magainze Curious which was edited by the amazing Francine Cunningham. My piece titled Permanent Remand was included in the collection. I will also be included in the upcoming issue of The New Quarterly. They chose a piece I wrote a few years back called “New Year’s Eve, 1984”. You can order that here

HE DOES TEEVEE FOLKS

VOBC Red Power Panel

OK, seriously, last thing. And thanks for reading through all this guff about me. I hope you did put the kettle on as we have covered a lot.

On occasion I am asked to provide political commentary on Shaw TV’s Voice of BC hosted by The Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer. Usually, I record a few questions to the guests on the show including politicians, industry and labour leaders and member of the media. A few weeks back, I was asked to be part of the panel along with Judith Sayers We had a great time and you can check that out here

…so there it is. Geez, that was a long winded post with loads of clickbait.  If you  want to get in touch with me at the ol’ Twitter corral send me a note at  @skink00ts

 

 

Nuxalk Radio’s ‘Unsettling Canada’ podcast c/o Indian & Cowboy

Over this past weekend, Nuxalk Radio broadcast the late Arthur Manuel’s ‘Unsettling Canada: A National Wakeup Call‘ on July 1st. I was asked to be a part of this broadcast and, I have to say, it really helped me get through the Canada150 hullabaloo. If you want to have a listen to this check out this link on the Indian & Cowboy. It is good medicine. Seventeen chapters are read by indigenous and settler narrators including Janet Rogers, Ryan McMahon, Khelsilem and Lisa Girbav.

Below is a photo I took in Toronto last week. What a helluva city.

 

Honour the treaties #resistance150 poster