Dr. Edmund Metatawabin is a Chief, First Nations Elder, Cree writer, Author, educator, and activist. Edmund was awarded the Order of Canada for his advocacy on behalf of residential-school survivors. He is a survivor of St. Anne’s Residential School, in Fort Albany, Ontario where he and his fellow students experienced physical, psychological, and sexual abuse at the hands of school administrators. He documented his experiences in his 2014 book, Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History available here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/227773/up-ghost-river-by-edmund-metatawabin--with-alexandra-shimo/
In 1992, Edmund organized a conference for other survivors of St. Anne’s Residential School so that they could share their stories. He took their accounts to the police, spurring a criminal investigation that culminated in the convictions of five former staff.
Edmund has devoted himself to righting the wrongs of the past, and educating First Nations youth on traditional knowledge.
Edmund was the first born of eleven siblings. His father lived on the land, a natural resource harvester. Edmund was working on his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies at York University when he was called home to run for Chief. For eight years, he held that position concentrating on economic development and education.
He has adopted the motto “For Those That Are Not Yet Born” in his research and writing to honour the First Nation heritage on Turtle Island.
His 2014 memoir Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History was a shortlisted nominee for the Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction at the 2014 Governor General's Awards.
His publications also include: Hanaway (2004) and Harvesting: Cree Hunting and Gathering Techniques (2008). In 2010, he was part of the Our Story Advisory Committee for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge, run by the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Toward the end of the episode, you’ll hear directly from Edmund’s nephew, Terry Metatawabin, Edmund’s grandson, Braiden Metatawabin, and his partner Daanis McDonald. You’ll also hear a song performed by Edmund’s son Shannin Metatawabin. You can watch his performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOQoy0vsA0s
We ask that if you are listening to this episode somewhere that you find yourself able to, please stand when the song begins for its duration.
We’d like to offer our most heartfelt, deepest thanks to Edmund Metatawabin and his family for their incredible bravery, generosity, and openness in trusting us enough to share their stories, experiences, wisdom and deeply profound insight on Breaking Brave. We understand the gravity of this trust and appreciate it beyond what words can describe. Our hope for this episode is an echo of Edmund’s hope:
That you listen and share the truth with the people in your life. That you pass on what you learn to your children, your family, and your community so that all future generations can know and understand the truth and history of Canada's enduring, genocidal, and horrific treatment of our First Nations people. Thank you for listening.