Info about the Mission:
Chief of Canadian Cree Nation Leading Youth Leadership Development Mission to Israel
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Ron Evans, Chief of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, will lead a Youth Leadership Development Mission to Israel at the end of this month (April 29 – May 6, 2012). Under the auspices of Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, the thirty young First Nations leaders will study Israeli culture and society, visit Christian and Jewish holy sites, study the Israeli immigrant absorption experience, and skate at Israel’s only full-sized hockey rink – located at the Canada Centre in Metulla. The group will also meet with the Galilee branch of Kav Hazinuk (“The Starting Line”) – an Israeli youth leadership development program funded by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
“The objective of this trip is to help develop leaders among First Nations youth,” said Chief Ron Evans. “I visited Israel for the first time last year, and I was overwhelmingly inspired. The Jewish people are the historic, Indigenous people of Israel. For Canada’s First Nations, Israel’s story demonstrates how an ancient people can maintain their heritage while embracing the modern world – and in so doing, achieve self-determination.”
“We are hopeful that, by studying the Israeli experience, these highly motivated youth will return to their communities empowered with additional knowledge and leadership tools,” said Shelley Faintuch, Community Relations Director for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and Associate Director of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “The future of Canada’s First Nations depends on building the next generation of ambitious, dynamic, and innovative First Nations leaders. Our goal is to support this important project.”
Chief Evans was the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for two successive terms. The mission program, which Chief Evans hopes to run for ten successive years, was built jointly with Shelley Faintuch. With the support of their families and the community, the First Nations youth conducted fundraising to support the trip, including through church events, auctions, hockey, golf and fishing tournaments, and a circus. They also received a grant from the Asper Foundation.
We arrived in Tel Aviv after a 12 hour flight. I didn’t sleep much on the plane but I was excited to be Israel. The weather was hot and it was awesome to see palm trees. Tel Aviv looks like a modernized, Western city. People were a little pushy compared to Canadians but they are friendly.
The first place we visited is called Better Place, a factory that makes electric cars. These cars can go 160 kms without losing its charge. Electric cars need to recharged almost every hour but they are great for the environment.
Even though we were tired, we continued touring. Our next place to visit was Independence Hall, where David Ben Gurion declared independence for the state of Israel. We learnt that Israel is only 64 years old, a pretty young country.
Later in the evening, we met Uri Steinberg, director of North & South America Department at the Ministry of Tourism at a nice restaurant. We ate terrific meat, fresh vegetables, and outstanding lemonade. Mr. Steinberg gave an excellent speech about what we can expect visiting Israel and he was pleased to have First Nations visiting Israel.
Overall, it was a tiring exciting first day.
We started this day by driving north from Tel Aviv. We visited a Druze village, a people who live within their own culture, separate from Israeli society. The Druze were great hosts and I learnt a lot about what they believe and how they live as a minority in Israel.
Next, we visited the Atlit camp, a detention camp for Jews trying to come back to Israel after the Second World War. The Jews trying to come back thought the Holocaust and their hardship was over but they were placed into detention camps once again.
Kav Hazinuk is a leadership program for Israeli youth to learn leadership skills and get mentorship by experienced people. The program is 10 years long and each person has to do a project for society. For example, one student helped children with special needs.
Today was an memorable day. We went the Sea of Galilee where Jesus himself walked on water and started the Christian church. We learnt that Jesus was a Jew and early on, people went to synagogues and churches.
Later, we went rafting on the Jordan river, the river where Jesus was baptized.
We also visited the border between Israel and Lebanon and learnt about how Iran sponsors a group known as Hezbollah to live in Lebanon and attack Israel. Israel is a peaceful country and learning about the security issues was frustrating to hear but it was also a great learning experience at the same time.
Today we drove three long hours to Jerusalem. I felt sick on the bus ride due to motion sickness. We arrived in the incredible city of Jerusalem and it was unforgettable. The city is busy and there are ancient buildings everywhere in the Old City.
The first holy site we went to was the Western Wall, one of most important sites in Judaism. It was the wall to the ancient main temple and Jews everywhere in the world pray facing this wall in their hearts. It is a custom to write a prayer on a piece of paper and put the paper between the cracks in the wall.
Next, we travelled through the road where Jesus is thought to be have carried the cross on the way to his crucifixion. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the church where it is believed Jesus was crucified and rose to heaven.
Later in the evening, we had a political discussion with Bassem Eid, a human rights activist in the Middle East. He was inspiring and added to our understanding of relations between Israelis and Palentinians.
Another unforgettable day!
We started the day at the holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. It had a strong impact on me. I couldn’t believe how terrible the Jews were treated and how people did not stop it sooner. It was deeply sad to hear people were taken away from their families and how the Jews were targeted and their community was almost erased. It doesn’t fully compare on the same level, but there are similarities between the holocaust and how First Ntaions people were treated in residential schools.
In the afternoon, we went to an archeaological dig. Israel is an ancient land and some things still need to be discovered. We dug in ancient caves and found pieces of pottery, animal bone, and rock. It was exciting to discover items that have not been by people for 2,000 years!
After a lunch in a Jerusalem mall, we went to an absorption centre for immigrants to Israel. Our presentation addressed the Ethiopian immigrantion to Israel. Ethiopian Jews are considered a loss tribe of and Israel and in the 90s, Ethiopian Jews faced starvation and discrimination from communist governments. Micha Feldman was a key person in Operation Moses, the airlifting of thousands of Ethiopian jews in the course of a weekend in a beseiged Ethiopean city. We also heard from Assia, an Ethiopian Jew, who walked thousands of miles to reach a rescue point and to be airlifted into Israel. Assia spoke about adjusting to life in Israel and his story was heartwarming.
Later in the evening, we met with David Weinberg, director of the Israel and Jewish Affairs. Over dinner, we discussed Jewish rituals, Jewish family life, why David left Toronto to live in Israel, and social and security issues in Israel. We are grateful for Mr. Weinberg’s support for our leadership trip and his willingness to share so much about Judaism with us.
Today was mostly centered around the Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. The day of rest begins at Friday evening as soon as the sun goes down until sundown on Saturday night.
We toured the Western Wall again, this time the tunnels. Inside, we saw women rushing off to pray facing the wall and men touring in groups listening to explanations of how the temple was built. Outside, there were more people praying, with crowds of men and women gather on their designated sides of the temple wall. All the stores in the newer part of Jerusalem were closing at 5 for the Sabbath. In Judaism, it is forbidden to work during Shabbat.
Back at our kibbutz-hotel, Shelly lead us to welcome in the Shabbat. We learned about the meaning of the candles, and we heard the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew. Shelly canted a few more prayers and explained how people tend to observe the Shabbat in a group and over a meal fit for a queen. Later that evening, we had a huge Shabbat meal and discussed more about our trip.
The last day! We drove south to Masada, a former place built by King Herrod on top of a mountain. It was very hot, with the temperature hovering around 35 degrees.
We took a cable car up to the top of the mountain and we were treated to a tour of the place by our great tour guide, Elad. Masada is a very important place for the Jewish people. The Jews were ruled by the Romans and decided that they did not want to be persecuted anymore. Masada was originally a Jewish settlement then it was taken over by the Romans. The Jews wanted to practice their religion and did not want to pay taxes anymore to the Romans, who persecuted them. It was the earliest instance that the Jews asserted themselves as a people and fought against tyranny.
After spending so much time in the scorching heat, we drove the Ein Gedi, a spa on the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea gets its name from the high amount of salt in the water. The sea contains so much salt that we can float on top of the water without trying. It was funny to see people amazed at how they can float automatically without any effort. There is one spot on the beach were a blackish clay can be found. This clay contains a lot of minerals that are good for the skin. Most of the people in our group smeared the clay on themselves and they looked like entirely different people!
Later that evening, we had a wonderful farewell dinner at a nice restaurant in Jerusalem. In between courses, our chief spoke about the meaning of our trip and we gave gifts to our tour guide, bus driver, and thank the organizers of the trip. We also gave small gifts to each participant, as a way of recognizing how each person from Norway House contributed the leadership mission. It’s too early to say how the trip has affected me. It’s been incredible! We have seen so many religious sites and learned so much about how Israel was formed and the challenges it faces. We saw many similarities between Jewish people and First Nation peoples and what we could do to strengthen our community.
Because we were taking a long international flight, we checked out of our hotels early and made our way to the airport. We were well prepared for the security checks and the logistics of getting a large group through an airport. I didn’t mind though, I was prepared and I know that Israeli security is very sophisticated and well-managed.
By the time we made it through all the security checks and did some last minute shopping to spend any remaining sheckles, I started to think about what an amazing trip we had. We learnt so much in seven days that it is going to take a few days to get over the jet lag and make sense of it all. I believe that the participants have personally grown from this leadership mission and we have many insights to take back to our community.
Time will tell how we applied what we learnt from our experiences. In speaking to the participants in our group, we were strongly affected by the determination of the Jewish people, their ability to blend their ancient traditions with the modern advancements, and Christian holy sites we visited. For now, I am grateful to have gone on such a trip, to see how another people rise to challenges, and to first hand understand how our community shares several religious and historical similarities with Israel.
Good evening and chag sameach
Thank you for having me here to celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday.
64 years as a democratic, independent state is a remarkable achievement.
One that many would never have imagined to be possible in years prior.
Your determination did not end in 1948, it only became stronger.
These have not been an easy 64 years. Every step of the way, Israel’s courage – your courage – has been tested.
But Israel’s tenacity through those tough times has spurred unparalleled innovation.
Israel is home to some of the top universities and technical institutes in the world.
It’s a country with leading edge research and innovation
in health sciences, biotech, chemistry, clean technology and the environment.
A country with more start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world.
And to me, that’s the story of Israel.
I still remember my first experience in Israel.
I could see citizens committed to putting their families and communities first. Because the only way to build a country like Israel is by working together and for each other.
That same commitment is found here in British Columbia. You don’t just support your own families and community – which you do – but you are there for all of British Columbia and Israel too.
You are helping build British Columbia and Israel.
My primary mission is to make lives better for British Columbian families.
And to do that we are focused on creating and protecting jobs by strengthening our economy.
That means ensuring that our universities offer the best training, education andresearch.
It means getting government out of the way of the private sector and eliminating redtape that restricts business growth.
And it means opening doors and working with other innovative, forward-thinking nations.
As part of that initiative, I am pleased to announce today that MLA Moira Stilwell will be leading a BC delegation on a mission to Israel next month.
She will be joined by several other MLAs as well as key biotech and health leaders.
The purpose of this mission is find ways to work together to commercialize medical technology, something Israeli entrepreneurs have been doing for years.
We want to establish long-lasting business relationships between Israel and BritishColumbia.
And we want to spur even more innovation so we can create jobs that put food on dinner tables in both British Columbia and in Israel.
Support for Israel abroad makes a difference. That’s why you are here today. Every friend counts.
I’m proud that British Columbia can be counted as a friend of Israel’s.
I wish you all a happy Yom Ha’atzmaut. Chag Sameach.
Night clubs and dance clubs open their doors around 11 pm or midnight and rarely close before 3 or 4 – if then! Ethnic nightclubs draw patrons of all ages and feature performers and entertainers from just about every community making up the city’s complex social fabric. Artists presenting repertoires that reflect the entertainment culture of Turkey, Iran, Greece, Israel, and Russia abound in Tel Aviv, especially in Jaffa and the “Little Tel Aviv district in the north of the city, but not only there.
After midnight the serious nightlife scene begins, as Tel Aviv’s younger residents in particular flock to the dance clubs in south Tel Aviv and Allenby Street, or, in the summer, to the beaches and the Tel Aviv and Jaffa ports, where the partying often continues until after dawn. One significant focus of late-night action in south Tel Aviv is Lilienblum St. and the surrounding area, with their ever growing number of bars, bistros and restaurants. Neve Tzedek, not far away, is another focal point for night life.
World class scientists and top research students raided Tel Aviv bars on Monday, in another installment of what a successful tradition called “Science on Tap.”
For one night a year scientists from the Weizmann Institute taking part in the program trade their labs and classrooms with dark, smoky bars, and the young students with a wide range of listeners, holding not a pen, but a beer in their hand.
Tel Aviv’s best bars not only hosted those who are usually considered as outsiders, but turned the spotlight to them, with topics ranging from alternate realities; the fate of the universe; genetic engineering; and even on how quantum physics works in a glass of beer.
The idea to abandon the labs and hit the city’s nightlife formed when the Weizmann Institute decided it wants to broaden its student base. Instead of trying to convince people to come to class and listen to scientific lectures, they come to where the public is and talk in an informal, friendly, day to day language.
While at first some were skeptic, today it’s clear the event is a success, with 55 bars taking part (compared to 40 in the past year) and people signing up for the event weeks in advance.