The fascinating history of Indigenous alphabets
One thing that has always fascinated me about the Inuit people was their strange, seemingly alien alphabet. Every day on my walk to work, I’d see a van with strange triangles and swooping hooks that were instantly recognizable.
As I’ve since learned, this alphabet isn’t used solely by the Inuits. According to Nunavut’s official website, “Inuktitut” is written in “syllabics, a phonetic form of writing that was developed by Rev. James Evans for the Cree, adapted for the Inuit in the latter part of the 1800s.” Their website goes on to say that Rev. Evans’ writing system has “one or two minor problems … but on the whole, it is accurate.”
Evans is credited as being the creator of the syllabics system for the Ojibwe language, the Cree Language, as well as the Inuktitut language. His writing systems were based on Devanagari—an ancient language dating back nearly 2000 years—and Pitman shorthand, an abbreviated symbolic writing method.
Though the connotations surrounding white men and Indigenous Americans is not a particularly good one (and probably for good reason,) the records show Evans to be a man of God who sought to help indigenous communities. Some historians go so far as to credit Evans with greatly aiding in “ensuring the survival and spread” of their language and its syllabic system.
The end of Evans’ story though, is not one to envy.
Sometime in 1844, while he was on a trip to the north country to counter the efforts of Roman Catholic missionaries, Evans accidentally shot and killed his most trusted interpreter, Thomas Hassall.
After the incident, Evans’ character had drastically changed due to the emotional disturbance he felt. He focused his attention on aiding the sick, as his daughter had married off and no longer lived with him. According to Biography.com, this resulted in him taking care of several sick native girls. This coincided with high tensions with the Hudson Bay Company and turned to an openly hostile relationship.
During this time, rumours began to circulate that James Evans was having inappropriate sexual conduct with the same native girls he was taking care of. This was proven to be a ploy by the church to discredit and incarcerate Evans, due to his unwavering dedication in helping the sick.
Evans was eventually found not guilty. The judge ruled, though, that his caring for sick girls in his house was “imprudent.” Evans was again sent to London for additional submissions and charges, where he’d have to face trial again.
Upon arriving in London in October, Evans was examined by the society’s secretaries, where they too found him innocent of sexual misconduct, but stated that his treating the native girls in his home with the same familiarity as he treated his daughter had been unseemly and improper.
Despite his uninspired ending, which involved a stress-related heart attack just days after being found not guilty, Rev. Evans’ story reminds Canadians that it’s not all black and white, all of the time. There are Canadian figures that go unknown, whose impact may not ever be fully acknowledged. Though history has forgotten him, his alphabet will live on for years to come.
Evolution of the language situation in Nunavut
The Inuktitut language is on the rise in Canada’s north. Individuals with an Inuktitut mother tongue represented 65 percent of Nunavut’s population in 2016, according to data released yesterday by Statistics Canada.
While this is a decrease of the 72 percent figure found in 2001, the number of people who could fully conduct a conversation in Inuktitut rose from around 6000 in 2001 to 27,320 in 2017, representing 77 percent of Nunavut’s population as a whole.
Inuktut’s use of a main language is declining while its use as a secondary language is increasing. According to Statistics Canada, “in 2016, 74 percent of the Nunavut population (26,270 people) reported speaking Inuktitut at home at least on a regular basis. This was up slightly from 2001 (73%), when 19,480 people reported speaking Inuktitut at home.”
These figures coincide with the rise of English in Nunavut among the Inuit people especially. In 2016, 82% of Inuit were bilingual (Inuktitut–English), up from 76% in 2001. Most Inuit (58%) spoke more than one language at home (Inuktitut and English in nearly every case) in 2016.
WATCH: Trump calls Trudeau 'two-faced' in response to PM caught talking about POTUS to world leaders
At the second day at the NATO anniversary gathering US President Donald Trump called Justin Trudeau “two-faced” when asked by a reporter if he saw the video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic talking to other world leaders about him behind his back.
“Well, he’s two-faced… And honestly with Trudeau he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy. You know the truth is, I called him out that he’s not paying two percent [GDP on military] and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said at a press conference Wednesday.
“He’s not paying two percent and he should be paying two percent. It’s Canada, they have money.”
During the NATO anniversary celebration at Buckingham Palace, Trudeau was caught on a hot mic talking to other world leaders about Trump.
“He was late because he took a 40 minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau says in response to another world leader asking why he was late. Although Trump’s name is not included in the conversation, it’s a pretty clear reference to the US President’s press conference with the media earlier on Tuesday.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Princess Anne are all in the conversation, but mostly Trudeau can be heard talking.
“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. He announced…” Trudeau followed up, with audio not catching the rest of his statement.
“You just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau says in another part of the conversation. Johnson and Macron appear fairly animated in their talk with Trudeau, too.
The video was released by the CBC Tuesday night and has spread far and wide through social and traditional media (the CBC video has over 6 million views on Twitter alone and the New York Times picked up the story).
CBC journalist Katie Simpson pointed out that the exchange would like hurt the Trudeau’s administration’s attempts to not upset Trump. Trudeau’s staff have even set up a “friendship room” focused on Canada-US relations, with the main goal of figuring out how to get along with a mercurial and unpredictable US president.
The video captured the tail end of the first of a two-day NATO gathering.
Earlier on Tuesday Trump confronted Trudeau in front of reporters on how much Canada is spending on its military.
Trump called Canada “slightly delinquent” in its military spending, while Trudeau claimed, after getting help from aide during the press conference, Canada is spending 1.4 percent of GDP on military and that his government has increased spending by 70 percent. Many analysts disputed Trudeau’s figures, saying they do not reflect the actual amount of money the Canadian government is currently spending on defence. NATO itself estimates Canada is now spending 1.3 percent of GDP.
On Wednesday morning Trump made UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wait several minutes for another meeting in front of cameras. Late Tuesday night Trump said he “enjoyed” his meeting with Johnson earlier in the day. The New York Times reported he also had a brief, reportedly friendly, exchange with Trudeau as well.
Last year Trump blasted Trudeau on Twitter after leaving a G7 summit held in Quebec, calling the prime minister “meek and mild”. Those comments were in response to a press conference in which Trudeau said it was insulting the US had put tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
Five students are still in critical condition following a collision between a crane and a school bus in Smoky Lake, Alberta Monday morning.
The crash happened around 8:30 am on Monday near Range Road 180 along the highway according to the Edmonton Journal. The bus was attempting to cross the highway when the collision took place.
The bus was en route to H.A. Kostash, a K-12 school and confirmed to be carrying 14 students by Aspen View Public Schools.
A total of 16 patients had to be assessed by emergency services and or are currently in hospital.
Three of the students had to be airlifted to hospital by STARS and Alberta Health Services said they’re in critical condition. Two more students also had to be transported by ground ambulance in critical condition as well.
A man and a child were also taken in by ground ambulance to Edmonton, both of whom are in stable condition although they have both sustained serious injuries.
One additional patient in stable condition had to be transported to the hospital.
The driver of the crane was also brought to the hospital with minor injuries and the crane’s sole passenger was luckily not injured.
Locals in Smoky Lake have shown a great sense of community by starting a Gofundme page in an attempt to raise funds for the victims and their families. Already, more than $3600 has been raised of the set $10,000 total goal.
Canada 'slightly delinquent' on alliance military spend, cracks 'payment plan' joke: Trump-Trudeau at NATO talks London
Canada is “slightly delinquent” when it comes to defence spending, said United States President Donald Trump during a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of NATO talks in London Tuesday.
According to NATO figures, vis-a-vis individual members’ benchmark defence spending at two-percent of their Gross Domestic Product, Canada rang in below that level for 2019 at approximately 1.3 percent.
“But Canada, they’ll be ok. I have confidence. (They’re) Just slightly delinquent. Some are major delinquents, some are way below one percent and that’s unacceptable,” said Trump, who hinted at leveraging trade to get members to pony up.
This ‘two percent of GDP’ obligation of NATO alliance members, or what became an “aspirational goal”, was a watered down demand by U.S. President Barack Obama and Britain in 2014; then they wanted Canada to double its expenditure on defence.
Trump made the remarks when pressed to categorize Canada’s current military spending as it stacks up against others.
“We are talking to Germany tomorrow and they’re starting to come along. They have to. They have to. Otherwise if they don’t want to, I’ll have to do something with respect to trade. And with trade I have all the cards.”
Germany’s defence spending as percentage of its GDP is slightly higher than Canada, while Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium are below one percent.
“And that’s unacceptable and then if something happens, we’re supposed to protect them,” Trump continued. “It’s not really fair and it never has been fair.”
Trump rounded off the comments by quipping that “well, we’ll put Canada on a payment plan, I’m sure the prime minister would love that” in answer to a question about whether Canada “should have a plan to meet the two percent standard.”
“Where are you at? What is your number?” Trump asked regarding the NATO benchmark.
This caused Trudeau to repeat what he noted earlier in the press scrum: that Canada’s military spending would increase by 70 percent through the coming decade.
“Over these past years, including for the coming years including significant investments in our fighter jets, significant investments in our naval fleets,” Trudeau said.
“We are increasing significantly our defence spending from previous governments that cut it.”
While the Twitter universe lit up with conjecture, in the moment Trump was not interested in the minutiae of Canada’s incremental budgetary increases over the next 10 years and pressed Trudeau.
“Ok, where are you now?” Trump asked again.
Trudeau: “We’re at one-point-three-five.”
“One-point-three?” asked Trump.
“One-point-four, and continuing to move forward,” replied Trudeau who later reiterated Canada’s leading role in military operations in Latvia and Baghdad during the half-hour media confab.
“United States and all NATO allies know that Canada is a reliable partner. We’ll continue to defend NATO, and our interests.”
In addition to Trump’s expression of confidence in Canada, he added that “two percent is very low. It should be four percent.”
For the 2019-20 fiscal year, Department of National Defence budget allocation was $21.9 billion. In terms of “significant investments” Trudeau noted in Canadian air and sea power, two years ago Canada bypassed Boeing for interim CF-18s and instead paid $90 million for 25 Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18s. Retrofitting them is expected to run another three or four-hundred million dollars.
This was after Trudeau scrapped the former Conservative government’s sole-sourced contract to buy Lookheed Martin’s next-gen F35 fighter after defeating Stephen Harper in the 2015 election.
In July of this year, the federal government reopened the project and invited multiple companies, including Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab to bid on a $22 billion contract to supply the Royal Canadian Airforce with 88 new fighter jets.
The Royal Canadian Navy is also in the throes of a major $4.3 billion rebuild, having already retrofitted several interim vessels and constructing four of six scheduled Arctic and offshore patrol ships.
A further 15 larger, surface combatant vessels based on “type 26 BAE warships” are also in the design phase, according Public Services Canada. The department estimates that construction could begin as early as 2020 with a $60 billion budget.
The election is over, Justin Trudeau won the most number of seats, and Canada now has a Prime Minister who cannot remember the number of times he wore blackface throughout his life.
As Liberals nationwide celebrate their ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, pundits have been left to wonder just what Trudeau’s victory in 2019 could mean for citizens, politics and the nation as a whole.
While the long-term implications are hard to predict, one consequence certainly is not.
In a matter of four short years, the Liberals under Trudeau have gone from the promised heroes of progressive values to the gritty practitioners of Realpolitik, with no other goal in mind than winning.
No longer are they concerned with broken promises, such as electoral reform, skyrocketing deficits or lacklustre help for injured veterans on a pension. Nor are they bothered by the federal government’s continued attempts to hold money designated for Indigenous child welfare, or heck, their willingness to campaign off the climate change issue, while putting forward plans that all but fail to meet Paris requirements when it comes to carbon cuts.
This doesn’t even include the gigantic mess that is the SNC-Lavalin affair, and Trudeau’s habit of violating ethics laws and throwing powerful women in his own government under the bus on a regular basis.
Heck, after this, it seems MPs and voters are still somehow all too happy to support a PM who considered blackface only racist after being elected as a member of parliament in 2008. Photos and videos have shown that Trudeau wore blackface more than three times before 2008, with the most recent known instance occurring in 2001.
With seven years of space between the time the Prime Minister was last known to wear blackface and the time he learned blackface was wrong, it is possible that the number of times it was worn stands to be far higher than three.
For the many Liberal MPs who are having difficulty keeping up with the scope of this, It’s wrong to wear blackface in 2019, just at it was wrong in the year 2001. Typically the cancel culture mob, which so intensely has concentrated into the progressive wings of politics, would have ensured a politician with such a history would have all but failed to ascend and then dominate the heights of politics.
There’s a catch though. To successfully cancel a person, normally their own fans must turn on them. And here’s where Canadian progressives are similar to Republicans in the US. Forced to campaign with a flawed idol and the protector of their views on the international stage, the willingness to cancel these individuals evaporates, principles be damned.
Instead, the boogyman of the other side has been used to ensure dedicated voters continue to push forward, regardless of moral deficiencies.
For Justin Trudeau, and perhaps the Liberal party, that level of voter control is a life-saving relationship worth its weight in gold. For the nation, it potentially sets us up the country to be defined by the actions and moral makeup of Trudeau and his government.
Said simply, there is no getting around the fact that Canada today has a leader who takes Indigenous children and veterans to court, breaks ethics laws, can’t keep simple promises, and can’t even keep count of the number of times he performed an act he himself now considers racist.
Liberal members and parliamentarians voted for that, and unless action is taken from within the party, the country alongside the Liberal movement as a whole, will come to be maligned and defined by it.