The urban native survival guide


Contacting the Minister of Aboriginal affairs

Reconciling aboriginal relationships with Canadians at no $ cost. Renaming Mt Cascade to Mount Riel


Dear Minister 


I wish to bring to your attention something that I have started with a couple of your fellow ministers. First I would like to state that my proposal would go a long way towards making present and future generations of indigenous peoples move inclusive in Canadian Society. 

Secondly this will not be a great cost to Canadian society monetarily speaking. It will not require a investment on millions of dollars over a long period of time with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

Thirdly it is the proper thing to do. I am sure there is some legal basis for my request however the moral justification for this outweighs all other reason. It will go a long way towards reversing some of the negative effects of colonialism. In addition it will show that the present government is sincere in it’s actions towards it’s indigenous citizens. 

As I have stated I wish the iconic mountain Mount Cascade as it is presently named be changed to Mount Riel. First off their is no Mount Riel of any kind in the entire country. This seems strange as he was one of the forefathers of our country, negotiated a peoples representation into the Canadian confederacy and by and far the father of the Metis people.

He fairly represented native, french and english mixed race peoples by bringing into the newly formed nation of Canada the province of Manitoba. (Ironically, just down the road is Mount Douglas the surveyor responsible in no small part for the Red River Rebellion by blindly surveying and and ignoring land parcels as they had been agreed up by the peoples who had occupied the Red River District for over a century.)

As I am sure you have been to Banff you can’t help but notice the massive peak ( perhaps the most iconic in all of Canada). This mountain was named Cascade by James Hector who was a member of the 1856/58 Palliser expedition.  The Palliser expedition was commissioned in England to survey the (then) NWT for it’s exploitive value in the terms of mineral wealth, farming potential and catalogue plant species among other things. 

The expedition members took it upon themselves to rename large recognizable landmarks after themselves and/or their patrons. It can quite easily be argued that they had no legal authority to be renaming landmarks. I am sure we all can in some way understand the colonial mindset of the era. As indigenous peoples were no more then a source of labour in Canada and later a inconvenience. The fact remains that the treaties with the natives of the area had yet to be signed. This was still indigenous peoples land at the time the Palliser expedition did their survey.  


“Treaty 7 is one of 11 Numbered Treaties signed between First Nations and the Crown between 1871 and 1921. The treaty established a delimited area of land for the tribes (a reserve), promised annual payments and/or provisions from the Queen to the tribes and promised continued hunting and trapping rights on the "tract surrendered". In exchange, the tribes ceded their rights to their traditional territory, of which they had earlier been recognized as the owners.”



It is worth pointing out that indigenous peoples had occupied this area for over 10,000 years and that all the landmarks already had been named. Something that Hector and other members of the expedition could have easily found out had the simply asked their interpreters in conversation with the natives that they had encountered. 

I initially sent my request to the heritage minister Mélanie Joly. As my request lies in the jurisdiction of a national park I believed that she was the one with authority to make the required changes. A few months later I find that my request for a name change of ( what is now ) Cascade to Riel was passed to the Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna.

The small sub peak  lookers left of Mt Cascade is named Stoney Squaw and is identified this way on Canadian topographical maps. I would like to suggest that this peak’s name be changed to Mt Dumont (as you know Riel’s right hand man in the 1885 resistance in Batoche). The peak to the left again is Mt Norquay named aft James Norquay, manitoba's premier 1857 to 1897 and a proud Metis himself. The remaining of this peak is more then just symbolic gesture. It show a real understanding of the importance of greater esteem required by indigenous youth to reverse the effects of colonization. 

While there is precedence for such a change in other parts of the world I believe they are not worth mentioning as Canada is a nation of leaders. This is what I believe. In addition I have seen more positive movement towards the correction of past injustices in the last 6 months then I have in the past 30 years. Feel free to keep up the good work

yours sincerely 


Joe McKay

Member of the Alberta Metis Association

ID# 030977

Father of 4  


Did I learn anything Sea kayaking

What did I learn from Sea Kayaking. I never had to worry about something like tides before. That was a short learning curve.  As they happen often.

Water? There just isn’t any. Least where we were. So 8 10 ltr. water bags, Actually that was a discovery. These MSR bags were killer! They called these things Dromedary's. They seem as durable and versatile. I just wish I had discovered these things years ago. They would have been quite handy on other canoe trips that we had taken with the kids over the last few years. Mostly likely take three of these 10 ltr. bags on the big trip.

Humidity! Like  the tides it is a constant. I don’t suggest down bags at sea level. They turn into clam shells. Even when you tried to dry them out in the sun it seems like they absorb more moisture right out of the atmosphere. This really has me thinking about the sleeping system that I will be carrying. As I write this Ontario is going through a incredible heat wave with incredibly high humadex values. I am considering a 0.C synthetic with a over bag for the cooler spring travel out on the plains. Not sure if the budget will allow for a new bag so will have to hold off on that one for a bit yet.

We had double kayaks with the kids in the front. So you are paddling a big boat with no help. Those little single person kayaks look pretty slick. I never got to try one. 

They get long sunsets at sea level. Not something your used to if you live in the Rockies. Beach with the right aspect. Because many of the islands are narrow you can easily change aspects for the setting sun. 



Food is much like canoeing meals. Prepare them at home. We went all out with the initial idea being we will fit exactly what you need for the day in separate bags so that when you picked it up you were good to go.  Well that lasted till the first day. Didn’t want what was in the bag we wanted what was in the other bag. The whole house of cards came falling down. 

We went back to bagging things as usual; breakfast; lunch; dinners. System was a screw up as usual. Lot more stuff then we needed, etc. The usual excuses.

Weather a constant factor. Swells. There really is a lot to think about. One could get in trouble out their. Compass is a good idea.

Ok packing these things really suck. Our double kayak didn’t have a centre hatch. Who knew one would be handy. We are stuffing stuff everywhere. Couple hundred pounds of water add to the whole thing. The water tight cargo bins fore and aft Me Matey. Hundred 10 litre  water proof stuff sacks. 


Wet suits may be required. Had one along but didn’t use it. Paddle gloves are find. 

Joy of double paddle stroke, along with a sore back after a couple hours.  

Would I do it again. maybe someday when the units can paddle their own kayaks. Who knows I wouldn’t ever say never. 


Metis Island gets a new flag

So we headed out to Metis Island the other day to change out the flag. The last one had been up for about 11 months and the wind and sun had taken their toll. The original flag was sun bleached and about a 1/3rd of it had been torn off by the wind. Needless to say it had seen better days. You don’t really know how sun bleached it is until you compare it to a new flag. 

So my two kids Aven and Tyler come out with me to replace the old flag. This is their third trip to the Island. The Island by the way is located next to the Trans-Canada hi-way about 10 minutes east of Canmore, AB near the hamlet of Lac Des Arc. It is about three or four hundred meters from shore. Countless thousands of people drive by this island. 

However recently it has been sprouting up flags left right and centre. When we showed up there was a Harley Davidson flag, Irish flag, number 8 flag ( no idea what that means ) and of course a Canadian flag along with a coupe others. Well the Irish flag I find a bit offensive mostly because this is not Ireland so it is fine to display in your home or yard and most certainly anywhere in Ireland but not on public land and not in full display of one of the busiest tourist destinations in Canada. What would be next French, German, how about the extremist group ISIS. No sorry the only other flag that could go up there in my mind would be the province of Alberta. Possibly the Stony or naked which are indigenous tribes local to the area but as far as I know they do not have flags.

All that aside we changed out the Metis flag. The Canadian one is starting to fade a little but is in not to bad of shape. I will let the Canadians take care their own flag since there are so many of them. They could consider upgrading the flag pole as it is just a 12 foot pole stuck in a pail of cement. I guess it is time to order two more flags so that I can get ready to replace the one that is out there should it get damaged or stolen. I wrote my Metis Nation of Alberta ID# and name on this one as i doubt that very many people know what flag this is and who it represents. 


A crazy three weeks then I bought a boat!


This last three weeks has been a crazy series of guiding gigs. It has been the best and worst of times. So to start with I ordered my boat. I was initially led to believe that if I ordered the boat in September it would be delivered in December. This was the Clipper Canoe dealer in Calgary ( ). Anyhow I went hat in hand, toe kicking the dirt, eyes respectfully looking downward to the clipper canoe people to see what kind of deal I can get out of them. I ended up corresponding with a lady by the name of Lynne Smith. Well she promised to do the best she could for me but more importantly informed me that there was a 8 month waiting period on the boat I NEEDED! 

Well two days ago I decided that I had better order thsi puppy. They must have a hell of a resale value becouse after a day of searching I could not find one for sale used anywhere. I phoned Lynn gave her my CC# and said " What the Hell!" charge me full price if you want but oeder this thing.

So delivery date is sometime in March. Which is fine. I don't think I need to leave here in Banff till the first week in May. I was thinking of leaving sooner but I doubt the travel in the prairie rivers would much fun with ultra low water levels. Anyhow I can think about all that later. Next post I will tell you about a new cool twist to the route. How about the trade route that hasn't been traveled in 130 years! Yep the old NWCo/HBC route to avoid the Grand Portage.

So as guiding goes been fun but under fairly tough conditions. It seems we are having a record year for moisture. The weather forecasts have been anything but reliable. Barring that the best gig I had so far was with Cam Douglas who was bound and determined to play the bagpipes on the summit of Mt Victoria. Fog, rain and finally snow changed all that. So at 4:30 in the morning we called it. Cam however played one of his original tunes which I would love to record as a asset for my upcoming flick. This recording I am sharing with you is goofed up because these guys were packing while I was recording it.


Tribe Called Red

So went to the Tribe Called Red concert at the Banff Centre last night. If you have never heard of this band it is best described as Powwow electric hip hop. Yep you read that right. Certainly a movement has befallen this band which is really a group of DJ's (3) that spin sounds using traditional powwow music mixed with electric spin. The result is a unique dance band with a red twist.

We often listen to the tribe when we are getting pumped on the way to the ski hill. It's on the play list along with AC/DC Thunderstruck. They have a really solid following white and native alike.  I saw a interview recently with one of the band members and he was saying how they have become a political movement. Their words and shows are statements for a lot of people. 

I like seeing these guys do good. Their combination of genres adds a real sellable twist to their art. I am sure they would be better in a enclosed arena out on the prairies rather then the glistening golden towers of the Banff Centre.