About 68,000 Aboriginal people live in Winnipeg, Canada, making the city home to Canada’s largest population of First Nations people. And many elders believe returning to their core spiritual values is the quickest way to save themselves from urban problems of addiction, obesity and crime.
Manitoba’s prisons are home to a staggering number of First Nations people – they comprise 60% of prisoners in provincial jails and 75% in Winnipeg’s juvenile detention centers.
Winnipeg’s Ojibwa elders blame longstanding federal policies aimed at integrating Aboriginals into Canadian society.
“They took us away from our families,” Charlie Daniels, an Ojibwa elder, tells Radio Canada International. “So in the schools we were not allowed to speak our language. We were not taught parenting skills. So when we returned home, we didn’t have those skills that we should have had.”
Daniels says the high rate of youth incarceration is a direct result of youth losing their native language, spirituality and traditions. She believes youth become disenfranchised when they integrate into modern society without maintaining a foothold in the past. But when young people practice cultural traditions, they stay rooted in their history.
Follow the link below to hear Manitoba’s elders speak for themselves.