Thursday, March 4, 2010

Honouring Our Activists

Regina Celebrates Canadian Dimension
By Joyce Green, Phil Hansen and Jim McCrorie
Canadian Dimension, Jan\Feb 2009

Often the politics of the Left are driven by crisis and committment, and in the process of organizing and analyzing we neglect the human need to build community, have fun and celebrate our successes and our heroes. In an attempt to redress this, on Ocotber 18 a committee convened as Canadian Dimension - Regina, consisting of Jim McCrorie, Phil Hansen and Joyce Green, organized Honouring Our Activists, an event that combined music, food, poetry, solidarity and fun with presentations of honours to seven notable Saskatchewan activists. The event was a success - sold out. It certainly raised Canadian Dimension's profile - and raised some money, as well.

Folks came in from the Swift Current area, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Regina. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, represenation from the Grain Services Union and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Briarpatch magazine, Rock the Boat Books and the Canadin Centre for Policy Alternatives were all present. We were fortunate to have he company of Jim Struthers, who in his eighties holds one of Dimensions oldest subscriptions.

Success was due in no small aprt to the cohort of young volunteers who ran the bar, did the set-up  and clean-up of the hall, and brought new energy into the Dimension circle. Special recognition goes to Mike Radmacher, Trevor Holloway and Nicole Leah - and to Ann McCrorie, who designed and produced the programs and certificates for the honourees.

The Luther Bach choir (profiled in CD's July/August 2008 isue), under the direction of Dr. Carl Cherland and with singers Meredith Cherland, Beth Drozda, Hilary Schroeder, Don Waite, Kevin Grant and Rob Pope, performed a special program titled "Songs of Hope and Justice."

Dimension collective member Bernadette Wagner performed several of her powerful, political poems for the event. Cy Gonick delevered the keynote address: "Forty-Five Years of Canadian Dimension."

The Dimension - Regina committee identified the seven honourees from a very long list of worthy activists who have contributed to progressive politics in Saskatchewan.

Doug Cuthand
Doug Cuthand is an independent film producer, director and writer. He is the creator and owner of Blue Hills Productions, an independent television production company with an extensive list of impressive credits. His work focuses on the lives, history and culture of First Nations peoples.

Doug has been active for many years in First Nations politics. He served as executive secretary of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), before being elected vice chief of the FSIN in 1977, a position he held until 1982. He is chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Little Pine First Nation.

Doug is a thoughtful and notable presence in provincial public affairs through newspapers and television. His contributions serve to educate a primarily non-Aboriginal, mostly uniformed audience about issues in Indian Country, thus challenging racism and ignorance and building understanding and empathy. Since 1991, he has written a weekly column for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post. Selected columns were republished ina book titled Tapwe: Seleted Columns of Doug Cuthand (Theytus Books, 2005). From 1999 through 1998, he was producer and host of Indigenous Circle on CTV. In 200 and 2005, he was the regional producer of Vision TV's Insight.

His film credits include Aboriginal Waterways; Patrick's Story; Circle of Voices; Donna's Story; Childhood Lost; You're in Our Hearts; Sweetness in Life; Stage, Screen and Reserve; The Life and Times of Gordon Tootoosis; Wheels of Thunder; and For the Love of the Land.

Bev Currie
A retired farmer and rancher from southwest Saskatchewan, Bev Currie is a citizen activist particularly concerned about eco-politics and rural community politics. Bev and two of his brothers were among the few in the province who dared to form a co-operative farm after World War II, on which they grew cereal crops and raised cattle. The Currie farm was and still is a member of the Saskatchewan Federation of Production Co-operatives. Bev served several terms as its president.

As a young farmer, Bev was active in the farmer's movement. His development as a radical and socialist was nutured by his work with the youth sections of the Saskatchewan Farmers Union, where he eventually became the president, and the Co-operative Commoinwelth Federation. He has been a provincial member of the NDP executive and served one term as the provincial party's president. Many will recall his vigorous support for the late Woodrow Lloyd when the former premier, who made medicare possible, was driven from the leadership by the NDP's right-wing. For this, and for Bev's support for the Waffle, he was not flattered with a second term. He has run three times for a seat in the House of Commons - twice for the NDP and once for the Green Party.

Bev is increasingly concerned witht he state of the environment. He became convinced that humans were converting the land, a renewable resource, into its opposite. The development of sustainable alternatives has become a preoccupation for him.

Don Kossick
Don Kossick, a proud son of Moose Jaw's south end, is a well known political activist and long-time community organizer in Saskatchewan, Canada and overseas. From his memorable days as a student radical and activist at the University of Regina, he has worked extensively in community development and the promotion of social justice. He has been an active participant in many of the nation's social movements, including those for students, farmers, workers, women and aboriginal peoples. He remains a resolute promoter of human rights and environmental sustainability.

He is currently a board member of Quint Develpment Corporation and the Station 20 West revitaliztion project in Saskatoon's core neighbourhoods. Don has been selected Saskatoon Citizen Activist of the year for three of the past five years by Planet S magazine's public poll. Don is  a prolific writer and has penned numerous articles and commentaries over the years, including contributions to Canadian Dimension and Briarpatch.

He developed and co-ordinates, a community-radio website dedicated to linking global and local issues from a social-justice perspective. Don also has been working in Mozambique, focusing on the use of community radio as an organizing tool in building healthy communities.

Stacey Lalacher and Greg Hluska
Despite having no exprience in publishing, Stacey Lolacher, then a political-science student at the University of Regina, and Greg Hluska, a U of R graduate in marketing, started Regina Streets magazine for distribution by panhandlers in return for a donation. The idea began as a conversation among friends who sought to put their political theory into practice.

According to Stacey, the magazine has three goals; "First, we want to increase circulation to the point that can give people who would otherwise be pandhandling the chance to gain some financial security through its distribution. Second, we want to educate people about poverty, its causes, its effects and possible solutions. Lastly, we want to build a repository not only of news, but also of scholarly analysis of poverty and related issues." The motivation is the elimination of poverty.

Greg and Stacey are models of solidarity, vision and committed activism. If young people like these two take over the world, our future is in good hands.

Bonnie Morton
Bonnie Morton, a Regina resident, has lived most of her life and raised her son in poverty. For the past 21 years she has worked as an anti-poverty aadvocate with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry; has served as president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization; as chair of the Regina John Howard Society; and as president of the Core Community Group.

Bonnie is currently chairperson of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues; chair of the Equality Advisory Committee of the Court Challenges Program; and board member of the Court Program. She has received the Keith Couse Award for social-justice work, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the International Helen Prize for humanitarian service, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and the Elizabeth Fry Society's Rebel with a Cause Award.

Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Human Justice degree and is working toward her master's degree in Justice Studies at the University of Regina.

Lorna Standingready
Lorna J. Standingready was born and raised on the Peepeekisis Reserve. Her parents died when she was young, and she became the foster child of Keith and Doris McKeechie. Lorna raised seven children, who now have families of their own.

Lorna survived ten years of residential schoolls to go on to university studies. While in residential schools, her love of learning and gifts for art and music were recognized with awards and certificates. She excelled at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, University of Regina, holds a Bachelor of Administration (2000) and is presently working on a master's degree in Human Resource Development.

Lorna is the recipient of the Saskathcewan Indian Women's Association Appreciation Award, and in 2005 she recieved the Saskatchewan Jubilee Award. She has also been involved in the women's movement, health and child welfare programs and, as of 2008, with the John Howard Society. For many years Lorna has also been active in many roles with the NDP, serving as secretary to the party's Aboriginal People's Commission and a s vice president of the provincial NDP from 2001 to 2007.

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