Category Archives: People & Places

Mom’s moved into a seniors home

And so THIS HAPPENED this week!

Mom is now in a senior’s home. She’s been asking for for several months, and a recent turn of events, and the progression of her dementia and short-term memory loss made for necessary quick decisions.

Although I thought her being with me was the best for her, I’ve had to come to terms that as my life gets busier, and my children move out of the nest, she needs companionship, and soon, 24 hour attention.

She feels good about the move, and I am trying to adjust. #parentingourparents

BC Indigenous Leaders Win National Literary Award for “Unsettling Canada”

Co-Authors: Arthur Manuel (left) and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson (right)

News Release: Two prominent BC Indigenous leaders, Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson and Arthur Manuel, have won the Canadian History Association Aboriginal Book Award for their co-authored work Unsettling Canada; A National Wake-up Call.

The award was announced at the Canadian History Association organization’s annual gala in Calgary on May 31. The jury said it was “impressed by how the work traced the struggles for Indigenous rights and land claims in Canada during a time-period that frankly scholars (especially historians) have neglected, and from such a personal and significantly Indigenous-insider perspective. It was fascinating to read.“

Unsettling Canada, which tells the story of the past 50 years of struggle for Indigenous rights, also lays out a course for the future relations between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. The book had already been named one of the top 100 political books by The Hills Times and one of the top six non-fiction books by Canadian Dimension Magazine and it has been widely praised.

Naomi Klein described Unsettling Canada  as “wise, enlightening and tremendously readable” providing “the back story of both grassroots and backroom struggles that created the context in which we find ourselves today, one in which a new generation of First Nations leaders is demanding sovereignty and self-determination, and more and more non-Indigenous Canadians finally understand that huge swaths of this country we call Canada is not ours—or our government’s—to sell.”

The award-winning Indigenous writer, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson described Unsettling Canada as “a breathtakingly beautiful story of Indigenous resistance, strength, and movement building, a critical conversation that Canada and Indigenous peoples must have because it is centred on land, and, therefore, it is one of the most important books on Indigenous politics I’ve ever read.”

Arthur Manuel said he is “very encouraged by the degree that non-Indigenous peoples are recognizing that we need to have a fundamental change in this country and this award is another indication of that.“

Grand Chief Derrickson said that although they had not written the book for an academic audience, he was very pleased to see that it worked on that level. “This book has been reaching Indigenous peoples and Canadians from many backgrounds because it looks at not only where we are today but it offers a look ahead at where we can be in the future.“

Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Derrickson are now working on a follow up book that sets out in more precise terms how Canada and Indigenous peoples can honourable resolve the conflicts described in Unsettling Canada, and also points out the dangers to both sides if they fail to find just solutions to the Aboriginal title and rights issues.

B.C. brides-to-be encouraged to enter Bahamas 16 Weddings contest


With The Bahamas laying off the east coast of the United States, it’s often not the destination of choice for Canadians living in the western provinces of Canada.

But, The Bahamas has come out with a contest that I am hoping will excite and chance all that.   This November, sixteen (16) Canadian couples will say ‘I Do’ in paradise, as The Bahamas is giving away 16 wedding packages valued at $12,000 (Cdn) each!

I want as many people out west to know about this contest so that  we can have at least one winner from this region.

All you have to do is enter at

and you could get married on one of the following Bahamian islands:  Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, New Providence, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma, Long Island, San Salvador, Paradise Island, Crooked Island, and Inagua.

As editor of, I’ve been witness to this exciting promotion as it ran first with winners from the UK, and then a second promotion in the United States.  Now it’s Canada’s turn!

But hurry! you only have until May 16th to get your entry in. Enter today!

From left to right: Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications, Bahamas Tourism for Canada; Robbin Whachell, Editor/Cofounder; and Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales, Western Canada, Sunwing Vacations (Photo:
From left to right: Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications, Bahamas Tourism for Canada; Robbin Whachell, Editor/Cofounder; and Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales, Western Canada, Sunwing Vacations (Photo:

No purchase required. Contest begins January 8, 2016 at 12:00:01 a.m. EST and ends June 10, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. Entry deadline: May 16, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. Voting deadline: June 10, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. There are a total of 16 prizes available to be won, each consisting of a round trip for two to The Bahamas, 6 days/5 nights accommodation and includes a wedding package provided by the Sponsor. Open to legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, who are age of majority in the province or territory of residence at time of entry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received before entry deadline, entrants’ creativity and popularity of finalists’ entries. Limit one entry per couple. Limit of one vote per person/Facebook account. Entrant information may be used for promotional purposes. Not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook. For rules and entry details click here

My mother and I at (Photo: Cliff Ma Photography)

Bahamian delegates visited with CKPM FM radio in the Tri-Cities to help launch the contest.  Listen here:

Cherish our inheritance on Louis Riel Day

“We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on.” – Louis Riel

Today is Louis Riel Day,  a time to think about how this one man, a true hero, helped his  people.  My mother said she remembers a story that her grandmother would tell her of her mother feeding Riel when he was on the run.  My mother lived in Duck Lake Saskatchewan. We are Metis.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “Today, I join the Métis people, Manitobans, and Canadians across the country to commemorate Louis Riel: a champion of minority rights, a Founder of Manitoba, and a key contributor to Canadian Confederation.”

Wikipedia says Louis David Riel (born 22 October 1844 – died 16 November 1885) was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government in 1869 and 1885. He spent much of his life in exile in the United States due to his rebellions, then was eventually tried for treason in Canada, and was executed.

“I will perhaps be one day acknowledged as more than a leader of the Half-breeds, and if I am I will have an opportunity of being acknowledged as a leader of good in this great country.” – Louis Riel

“Louis Riel made important sacrifices to defend the rights, the freedoms, and the culture of the Métis people. The ideals that Louis Riel fought for – ideals of inclusiveness and equality – are now the very same values on which we base our country’s identity,” continues Trudeau’s statement.  “As we work to renew a nation-to-nation relationship with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, including the Métis people, let us take a moment to reflect on the life of Louis Riel, and celebrate the many contributions of Métis communities to our great country.”

One of Riels’ my favourite of his quotes is, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”  I believe this to be true as I have been watching the resurgence of indigenous arts gets stronger as the years pass.  The internet has also enriched this.  Read more of Riel’s famous quotes here.

Because of his strength and courage, we are a stronger nation today and the rights of Metis / Metisse are being acknowledged, even though we still have much further to go.  We will always remember Riel, the man who led the Red River Resistance,  a fight to maintain rights for Métis people.  #fightforyourrights

“I am glad the Crown have proved that I am the leader of the half-breeds in the Northwest. I will perhaps be one day acknowledged as more than a leader of the half-breeds, and if I am, I will have an opportunity of being acknowledged as a leader of good in this great country. ” – Louis Riel, Founder of Manitoba – Father of Confederation (1844-1885)

Pets in a Cage – Parents in Apartments

Photo: Robbin Whachell
Father and son…   (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

We all realize the dilemma of pets in cages. We understand that they are in a foreign environment and so we compensate by taking them out, petting them, or talking to them to ensure they feel loved.

Do we give our aging parents that same amount of thought ? A talk, a walk. We walk our pets to ensure they maintain their bodily functions… do our parents not deserve the same attention to ensure they are moving their bodies?

They too deserve a pet, a soft kind word… An “I love you mom,” before they go to bed, or hang up the call. Put it on a postcard.

When you finally do reach out and touch them, you realize it’s good for both of you. Warmth grows from the inside out. You reconnect, reconfirm, that you will be there for them – for each other. They can be the ones that feel the gift, that all is safe in their world.

Just like when you were little and they tucked you into bed.

Our parents are growing older, and they need us. It’s payback time…

My great-grandfather served in World War I and II

All photos seen here are from World War I, except for the bottom left, which is the Canadian Veteran Reserves. My great-grandfather, Frederick Primeau is seen standing second-left. The barber photo is actually a W.W. 1 'postcard'. Primeau is the tall man far right. He fought in Flanders Field. (Photos: Whachell/ Hinz collection)
All photos seen here are from World War I, except for the bottom left, which is the Canadian Veteran Reserves. My great-grandfather, Frederick Primeau is seen standing second-left. The barber photo is actually a W.W. 1 ‘postcard’. Primeau is the tall man far right. He fought in Flanders Field. (Photos: Whachell/ Hinz collection)

Like me, my mother (Corae Hionz, nee Rosalyn Hinz)  is a record keeper. She held on to most of our family memorabilia. She’s from the era where you appreciated everything you had, because you had little. You reused, because you had to. She kept every address book she’d ever owned, important slips of paper, and treasured family photographs. So I am not too surprised that some of these photos I post here of my great-grandfather are now 100 years old! Because of her, we have a rich history and so many more memories…

My great-grandfather, Frederick Primeau lived in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. That’s the historic location of the Duck Lake Massacre. Her grandmother used to feed Louis Riel when he was on the run. This is rich Canadian history. Fred Primeau used to be a farmer, trapper, barber and played the juice harp. He was like my mother’s second father as her own father remarried after her mother died when she was young, and her grandmother raised my mother since birth (as her mom sewed in the furrier factory – “coats and hats for Europe” my mom says, and so she had to be away to work. Her father was away trapping for the Hudson’s Bay Company.)

Everyone loved my great-grandfather. “He was quite a man,” says my mother. “He had to tip his head to walk into most doorways in those days.” It is my great-grandfather Primeau who carries the Native bloodline of Cree and Sioux; French-Canadian on the other side. We are Metis.

These photos are from World War 1 (1914 – 1918) when he fought near Flanders Field in France, and used to use his barber skills to cut the soldiers hair when they were not out fighting. This photo is actually a W.W. 1. ‘Postcard’ and he is the tall one.

Some of these photos of him are when he was older when W. W. 2 (1939-1945) came along, and he joined the Canadian Veteran Reserves in British Columbia. My mother tells us that they used to listen to the radio about the horror that was Hitler and Fred Primeau was adamant about opposing this evil power. She said it gave her nightmares and to her, Hitler was like the devil, and she was scared witless that he would come to Canada.

These wars are behind us now, and we now have the memories and the tribute we pay to those who fought and fell. I cannot imagine the hardship it put on our men, our women and their children, but I am grateful for our freedom and pray we never have to experience war in our future.

‪#‎LestWeForget‬ ‪#‎RemembranceDay‬ ‪#‎Memories‬ ‪#‎FrederickPrimeau‬

Grand Chief Nepinak meets Jean Chretien

12184309_10153641873265891_5211550383848923950_oGrand Chief Derek Nepinak wrote the following on Facebook after attending the swearing in of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada.  His message was posted with a photo of himself with Former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien at the event:

In 1969, men like our aged Honourable Prime Minister Jean Chretien put together a plan to erase the Indian Act with no consideration to anything but a backdrop of Eurocentric political, social and economic systems to absorb every indigenous man, woman, child and elder. It was an effort to create a political and social hegemony that would ease the conscience of many who knew that something was wrong with how we were being treated by the colonial state…But it didn’t work.

This ‘White Paper’, (one of many ‘white papers’ the government creates for a multitude of policy plans), disturbed the slumber of the giant that is us. In the wake of the disturbance, the political infrastructure of the past 45 years was created. Great men and women rose up to organize our response from all over turtle island. The legacy of that great initiative is not lost on our generation as we grapple with the challenging times and the tough questions about notions of our own nationhood and what that will mean in the coming year.

I stood in Rideau Hall on November 4, 2015, adorned in the feathers of the eagle, wearing the colours given to me in Anishinabe ceremony, wearing my treaty medallion. I took his hand and I shook it, which I think may have shook him entirely. He’s an aged man now, dressed well for important days in the transition of the times that we are in. His smile is uneasy and uncomfortable. Not sure if that comes out in the photo or not.. The agenda that he helped bring did not succeed in advancing the extinction of us. None of them have, and none of them will…

Thats the beauty of it…

Meegwetch Mr. Prime Minister,  it was an honour…

A Sweetings Cay Treasure


Rosetta-Cartwright-No-WatermarkWhen I used to live in Grand Bahama Island and well before my work on my newsletter or, I was always taking photos no matter where I went. I am not sure if it’s my desire to record my life, and those of the people I love, or the example my mother led documenting much of our lives in photos (which was rare in those days). I grew up with a wall full of photo albums all in date order, my mom was that organized.

The beauty of taking so many photos is that one day they become treasures.

I was going through my online photos the other day and came upon a Sweetings Cay album. Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience runs excursions out there and I went out several times with my children or with visiting friends. I was looking through the photo thumbnails and something made me zoom in. “Is that the current Miss World Bahamas, Rosetta Cartwright!?” I thought staring at the photo of children playing barefoot on the road in a plastic car?

For those that do not know, Sweetings Cay is a quaint little fishing village located 55 miles east of Freeport, Grand Bahama only accessible by boat and has a population of @ 400 people, “most of whom live by selling lobster and conch in Freeport. The village stretches about a mile, and there people walk or use golf carts to get around.”

I sent the photo to a mutual friend and he checked with her, and yes indeed it was her! …and guess what!? She said it is the only photo she has of her childhood as all her others were ruined in the storms (I assume the hurricanes). She asked if I had any more, and I looked again and found one other, one of her on a day I visited and school was in session and they were on lunch break.

I remember her as a special-spirited child and of course so striking to look at – her eyes I remember most. Rosetta hails from a small fishing village and became Miss World Bahamas.

I’m glad I was able to gift her a tiny piece of her childhood.

(Photos at top: The reigning 2014-15 Miss World Bahamas, Rosetta Cartwright and the two photos I took in Sweetings Cay many years ago that I sent her today. She said she thinks she was 6 years old.)

All Nations Festival celebrates an inclusive Coast Salish Territory


Creating our shared heritage and vision for the future 

I was very interested when I found out that an All Nations Festival was to take place in Coquitlam where I live, and only blocks from my home. I immediately went to Facebook to learn more.  The 3-day-long event was said to celebrate Coast Salish culture, art, and language from July 23rd through 25th in Kwikwetlem, (Coquitlam) which is part of the Coast Salish Territories. It also was to include the other cultures living in the area.

After living abroad for many years I am new to much of the indigenous territories and culture, and I learned that  the Coast Salish Territory includes a lot of the  Georgia Basin and Puget, and this huge drainage basin comprises of the coastal mainland and Vancouver Island from Campbell River and the Georgia Strait south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lower Fraser Valley, and the lowlands of Puget Sound. I’ve been volunteering with the Hoy -Scott Watershed Society in my area for the past year so all these land details are of great interest to me.

The event was hosted around beautiful Lafarge Lake in Coquitlem / Kwikwetlem (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

But back to my All Nations Festival experience… 2015 is the inaugural year, and the annual festival aims to celebrate a Coast Salish cultural resurgence by bringing together the performing and visual arts, music, food, sports and ideas honouring a shared future.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. Ihanktonwan of the Dakota and Chickasaw Nation (who is a visitor to these lands and is seen in my feature image at the top) spoke about the Tsleil Waututh Nation “People of the Inlet” and how at one time there were 10,000 people in the area, before a series of small pox epidemics in the last century. He spoke about inclusion as he stood before the Persian group ready to perform at the event in front of artist Sonny Assu “Enjoy Coast Salish Territory” artwork. I captured a short clip of his remarks HERE.

The 3-day Festival program opened on Thursday July 23rd with the Kwikwetlem /kəˈlōkwēəm/ Colloquium hosted by Douglas College. I was unable to attend due to my work, but tuned in via livestream.   If you missed it, you can now watch the Colloquium here. The colloquium’s  aim was to share the work of professional Indigenous artists, academics and researchers in Coast Salish Territory through programming, education, outreach, and networking.  The discussions were very interesting.

George Leach put on an amazing show!
George Leach put on an amazing show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Thursday evening the entertainment kicked off with an intimate concert, which my daughter and I attended at Evergreen Cultural Centre,  with none other than the first aboriginal Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Steven Point, who performed a number of songs he’d written in his younger days. They were lighthearted and teleported us back to earlier days in Vancouver. Point opened for Juno award-winner George Leach,  a Stl’atl’imx and Kwikwetlem musician and actor.   We learned George is also a great-great grandson of Chief Kwekwetlem.  One concert goer said, “This may have been the best concert I have ever seen…I’ve got 5 words for George and his band’s performance: pure, smooth, honest, funny, and enjoyable…what an incredible voice and refreshing personality, some very heartfelt tributes were endearing as well!”

Friday the colloquium continued with a Coast Salish Leaders’ Roundtable on Shared Environmental Stewardship, and a keynote address was delivered by awarding-winning author, teacher and grandmother, Professor Lee Maracle, from the Sto:lo and Tsleil Waututh Nations.  Listen to her speak about her work and the festival on CBC radio HERE.  Each day the colloquium included plenary, breakout sessions, panel discussions, art exhibition, traditional foods, performances, and dialogue with leading Indigenous scholars, professional and community artists, and cultural leaders.

Just a few of the Colloquium speakers
Just a few of the Colloquium speakers. Left to right: Charlene Aleck, Lee Maracle and Ronnie Dean Harris.

Pulling our best thread forward from our past, and taking it into the future – Lee Maracle, author, activist on the focus of the event to CBC radio.

Friday featured an evening of ideas and spoken word from one of the foremost experts in Coast Salish history and culture. More entertainment was provided on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening at the outdoor festival  held by Lafarge Lake at Town Centre Park which also included engaging talks, a salmon and bison burger barbecue, kids corner, crafts and displays. Aside from sharing dialogue,  the outdoor locations provided the general public loads of activity, sights and sounds on stages, under tents, and by displays, which attracted many Coquitlam residents that just happened to be out for  a walk.

The backdrop of Lafarge lake and the mountains made for a beautiful venue, even with the intermittent cloudy weather. A heron flew over and in the late afternoon the Canada geese, who had been grazing on the adjacent lawns took flight over the tents into the evening sky.

I enjoyed the ‘Idea Tent’ featuring speakers from the festival’s steering committee and special guests. It was refreshing to hear about moving forward as a people who care about each other and our land, without a political party agenda attached. Topics included First Nations rights, pipelines, racism, reconciliation and more. One common idea was echoed through the weekend however, that being, that the Harper Government had to be outed at the next election.

Photos courtesy of the All Nations Festival

What I was most impressed with was that the First Nation’s speakers never excluded themselves from others, but rather spoke about the connectedness of humanity, no matter our origins, or religious beliefs. They kept hitting home that we had to work together to protect our environment for our future generations, and really if we don’t have that, what are we left with?  The event also included a  green energy fair featuring electric cars, solar panels and more.

One of my favourite features was a beautiful art piece showcased in the food tent  (see below) called ‘Our Painted Responsibilities’ coordinated by artist, Melanie Schambach along with Nati Garcia and Jen Castro.  Like this woman seen in my photo, people stood in awe to take it all in, as it represents so much, and it also encapsulated the spirit of the event. You can learn about the artwork in this video HERE.

I was told that “this mobile mural was an extension to the 2014 Totem Pole Journey, where a 20-foot-long totem pole carved by Lummi Indian Master Carver Jewell James travelled with his family 6,000 miles along proposed fossil fuel export routes to honor, unite and empower communities in the destructive path of coal and oil exports.”

"From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her." (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
“From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her.” Coordinating artist, Melanie Schambach (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The All Nation’s event offered a lot over the three days! On top of the engaging dialogue and visual arts displays there  were performances by Doug and the Slugs; Bill Henderson, rapper and activist Ronnie Dean Harris (Ostwelve),  DJs including DJ Hedspin, Hip hop artists, Persian dancers, the Vashaan Ensemble, and many others. Add in sports with skateboarding, basketball 3-on-3s, ball hockey, volleyball, and the Coast Salish Lacrosse Challenge.

I certainly look forward to next year!

Check out the video below to see some of what was featured. If you would like to obtain more information,  become involved by exhibiting, performing, sponsoring or volunteering, learn more at:

The 2015 All Nations Festival was hosted by Douglas College and the Kwikwetlem and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.  It was produced by Coquitlam School District Aboriginal Education, Coast Salish Cultural Network, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation; and supported by Kwikwetlem First Nation, Douglas College, City of Coquitlam, with additional support from Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, and various program partners. Steering Committee: Lee Maracle, Charlene Aleck, Gabriel George, Ronnie Dean Harris, Cease Wyss, Brandon Gabriel, Rueben George. Irwin Oostindie (ex-officio member).

Funding was provided by Canada Council, City of Coquitlam, Telus, Vancity, Coquitlam School District #43 Aboriginal Education, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Aboriginal Sport BC, and community donations.

About the author: Robbin Whachell lives in Coquitlam, BC and is a volunteer for the local watershed society. In her spare time she likes to hike The Crunch and  explore her community by taking photos and sharing her thoughts on what she sees.


Bravo Bruce Jenner!

abc_jenner_sawyeI watched the ABC Diane Sawyer interview tonight with Bruce Jenner, and my spidey senses were tingling, as not only was I moved by the interview, I knew that I was taking in a part of history. I tuned in by chance (channel surfing), and never intended to watch it. I, like so many, felt Bruce was some sort of ‘oddity or loser’ solely by the way “The Kardashians” depicted him on the show.

Watching the ABC special tonight, I revisited Bruce in his early years as the Olympic athlete; then his love for his second wife (a widow/ Kris); his love for his own 4 children and taking in Kris’ children – them having 2 of their own. The fact that he held all this in, ‘his story’ for all this time, and quietly let the girls strut; and now bravely steps forward, is the most courageous act I’ve seen in a very long time.

Most touching was how his children rivaled around him, showing that really, all we need is unconditional love, and acceptance…

All I can say now is, if he did that much as a man, I can’t wait to see what he will do as a woman!