May 20, 2013 - At the Manitoba Legislature,hundreds lined up to view the body of Elijah Harper. In New York, at the 12th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a statement was read by Grand Chief Edward John on the passing of Elijah Harper. In our lifetime- there are those few who touch our hearts and minds in profound ways. Today, as he is being laid to rest,I wish to acknowledge the passing of Elijah Harper, a distinguished and respected Indigenous leader and- parliamentarian in Canada. We extend our deepest condolence to his family and friends. Elijah Harper was an elected member of Manitoba's Legislative Assembly as well as an elected member of Canada's Parliament. He was a survivor of Canada's Indian residential schools system. He was a proud member of Red Sucker Lake First Nation in Northern Manitoba. He will be remembered for that moment when he took a stand, with an eagle feather in his hand, in the Manitoba Legislature in 1990 as the lone voice to vote against the "Meech Lake Accord" which proposed amendments to Canada's constitution but which ignored Indigenous peoples rights. With this decisive action he stopped the amendment from proceeding which already had the political support from the federal and provincial leaders and governments. In his quiet and humble way, he said, "I stalled and killed it because I didn't think it offered anything to the aboriginal people." His stand helped propel Indigenous issues to the top of Canada's political agenda and into the public consciousness of Canadians. Elijah Harper's family released the following statement:
"Elijah was a wonderful man, father, partner. He was a true leader and visionary in every sense of the word. He will have a place in Canadian history, forever, for his devotion to public service and uniting his fellow First Nations with pride, determination and resolve. Elijah will also be remembered for bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to find a spiritual basis for healing and understanding. We will miss him terribly and Love him forever." Today we bow our heads in gratitude.
May 18th, 2013 - R. E. S. P. E. C. T. - Elijah Harper R. I. P. - The Manitoba government says Elijah Harper’s body will lie in state in the province’s legislature. The casket will be open during the viewing and that there will be a Manitoba flag draped over a portion of it. The province says the public will be able to view Mr.Harper on Monday afternoon and that books of condolences will be available. Later that evening, a funeral service will be held at Glory and Peace Church in Winnipeg. The burial service will take place Thursday in Red Sucker Lake, where Harper was born and was once chief of the Ojibwa-Cree Red Sucker Lake First Nation.
May 17, 2013 - Condolences on the passing of Elijah Harper. (Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Monday May 20 at the Aboriginal Funeral Chapel in Winnipeg). Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs: "Elijah Harper was a Hero. Over the course of his career he used fundamental democratic processes to address First Nation issues that had been politically ignored for centuries. His courage, his quiet and gentle leadership will be greatly missed." Grand Chief Nepinak offered condolences to the family and friends of father, brother, husband, government leader, political warrior, Mr. Elijah Harper who passed away early this morning, May 17, 2013. "On behalf of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, I offer sincere condolences to his wife Anita and children, along with the family and friends of Elijah Harper," said the AMC Grand Chief. "As a residential school survivor, Elijah spent a large part of his life fighting for the rights of First Nations people of Canada and for the betterment of the human condition around the world while he was a Chief of Red Sucker Lake First Nation, worked with the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, a Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, a Member of Parliament and as Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission,: said Grand Chief Nepinak. "As a humble leader, he made Canadian history when he, with symbolic eagle feather in hand, said "No" to the Meech Lake Accord because he felt that the Indigenous people of this country were not being recognized or being allowed to participate in a meaningful way in that constitutional process. Mr. Harper is an inspiring positive role model for Indigenous people here in Canada and around the globe. His dedication and commitment to our First Nations people is commendable and will act as a legacy as so many of our Indigenous young people strive for success." An AMC news release explained that Elijah Harper's commitment to human rights took him around the world including the European Parliament in France, South Africa, and the Americas, Great Britain, the International Court of Justice at The Hague. After a lengthy illness he brought 3,000 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together in Hull, Quebec in a Sacred Assembly in December of 1995. They met to find a spiritual process for resolving political problems. He received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Public Service for his example and dedication to resolving the political and social problems of First Nations. He has worked hard over these last few decades to make Canada a more inclusive country for our Indigenous people. "Elijah Harper was a Canadian hero. Over the course of his career he used fundamental democratic processes to address First Nation issues that had been politically ignored for centuries. His courage, his quiet and gentle leadership will be greatly missed" continued Grand Chief Nepinak.
Elijah Harper: March 3, 1949 - May 17, 2013 - Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, who regarded Mr. Harper as a close, personal friend says his passing represents an enormous loss for everyone who truly wants Canada to be the best country it can be. "Nobody understood better the concept of First Nations sovereignty, and the positive impact that it will have on Canada's cultural, social and economic well-being," says the Grand Council Chief. "We will miss his courageous and inspirational voice, and send our sincere condolences to members of his family."
"On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations National Executive, I offer sincere condolences to the family, friends and all First Nations in Manitoba region and across Canada mourning the loss of a tireless and courageous leader of our peoples," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. "Elijah's commitment and dedication to asserting and upholding First Nation rights and recognition has helped lay a solid foundation as this hard work continues today. Leading two Sacred Assemblies focused on finding a spiritual basis for healing and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, Elijah's drive and actions toward reconciliation will continue to be a legacy for First Nation and all Canadians as we move toward improved and renewed relationships based on mutual respect and recognition – two things he stood firm on in all of his work."
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno stated: "Chief Elijah Harper was a friend, a confidant and a leader who was an inspiration and role model for me. . .The First Nations community have lost a great man who led our people for years, was a champion for Treaty and aboriginal rights who inspired many, built bridges between the aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds and changed the direction of an entire country."
"We are grateful for all Elijah has done to advance and protect First Nations rights and we can best honour his memory by continuing to advocate for a better life for our people through greater respect for our rights", said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. "On behalf of the First Nations in Ontario, I want to thank Elijah's family for sharing him with all of us, and assure you that you are in our thoughts and our prayers at this difficult time."
"Today we raise our hands in respect and honour to mark the loss of a great and respected warrior," said Grand Chief Ed John of the BC First Nations Summit. "We send our sincere condolences to his wife Anita Olsen Harper, his family, as well as the community of Red Sucker Lake First Nation", said Chief Doug White of the First Nations Summit Political Executive. "Elijah Harper was not only a leader and beacon for his community and First Nations in Manitoba, but for all indigenous peoples in Canada. He has, and in memory, will continue to serve as an inspiration to current and future generations for his steadfast determination to shine a light on, and create a greater understanding of indigenous issues in this country", added Chief White.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs released this statement: "The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Elijah Harper. On behalf of our member communities and leaders, we send our sincere condolences and prayers to Anita Olsen Harper and their children. We shall never forget Elijah Harper's courage, tireless commitment and deep sense of political integrity. We shall be eternally grateful to Elijah Harper for the tremendous contribution he made, in spite of great personal sacrifices, to defend the sovereign interests of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. We shall honor and celebrate his memory from this day forward. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten."
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau used social media's Twitter to offer condolences, saying: "Very sorry to hear of former #LPC MP Elijah Harper's passing. He was soft spoken but a powerful voice for Aboriginal Ppls. He'll be missed." (Elijah Harper was a Liberal Member of Parliament.)
The first Treaty Indian to be elected as a provincial politician in Manitoba, well respected First Nations leader, Elijah Harper has died at the age 64. Heart failure from his battle with diabetes was cited as the cause. His wife, Anita Olsen Harper, his children Bruce and Holly, stepchildren Karen Lawford, Dylan, Gaylen and Grant Bokvist, released the following statement. "Elijah was a wonderful man, father, partner. He was a true leader and visionary in every sense of the word. He will have a place in Canadian history, forever, for his devotion to public service and uniting his fellow First Nations with pride, determination and resolve. Elijah will also be remembered for bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to find a spiritual basis for healing and understanding. We will miss him terribly and Love him forever." Mr. Harper was born in Red Sucker Lake where he was raised by his grandparents. He spent much of his childhood on trap lines, although he also attended residential schools. He became chief of Red Sucker Lake when he was 29 years old. He went on to be an NDP MLA, and a Member of Parliament from Manitoba, including sitting briefly in the cabinet of Manitoba Premier Howard Pawley. Mr. Harper is best remembered as a politician and strong leader from his well-known action in 1990, when in the Manitoba Legislature, he held a single eagle feather, as he voted no to the Meech Lake Accord which had been created to modify the Canadian Constitution. His vote (and Newfoundland's refusal to vote on it) killed the Meech Lake Accord. First Nations had not been properly included in discussions to change the Constitution. A diabetic, Elijah Harper suffered from kidney failure and for years was on dialysis. Last year he underwent a kidney transplant. His life was further explored in a made-for-tv movie simply titled ELIJAH. It was recognized at the 2009 Gemini Awards as the Best TV Movie. Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series. In between Harper's political struggles are scenes of his personal struggles with his wife and children. His fight against solvent/drug abuse is shown as a major issue in his life, from his gas sniffing youth, to his anger over his daughter's marijuana experimenting.
May 16, 2013 - The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has launched an investigation into policing in northern British Columbia. Ian McPhail, the Interim Chair stated: "I am initiating a complaint and public interest investigation into the conduct of RCMP members involved in carrying out policing duties in northern British Columbia. I am satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for me to initiate this complaint, following the concerns expressed by Human Rights Watch in its report of February 13, 2013, entitled Those Who Take Us Away: Abusive Policing and Failures in Protection of Indigenous Women and Girls in Northern British Columbia, Canada. The Commission will examine RCMP member conduct relating to the following specific areas: The policing of public intoxication; The incidence of cross-gender police searches; The handling of missing persons reports; The handling of domestic violence reports; Use of force;
The handling of files involving youth. Member conduct is to be assessed in accordance with criteria, including the following: Whether the conduct of RCMP members responsible for identified files was consistent with the applicable policies, guidelines, training and legislation; Whether RCMP members responsible for identified files discharged their duties in a thorough and impartial manner; and Whether the conduct of RCMP members responsible for identified files was consistent with section 37 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. The Commission will also examine whether existing RCMP policies, procedures, training and guidelines in respect of the identified areas are adequate.
Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is celebrating the opening of its Grey Rock Power Centre, a 70-acre commercial centre project, that will provide economic benefits to the First Nation and surrounding communities through construction jobs, sustainable employment opportunities, land lease and provincial tax revenues, new business development and the establishment of tenant businesses. The Centre is expected to generate up to $300 million in sales, tax revenues, business start-ups and employment in its first eight years, according to estimates provided by the First Nation. "The Maliseet people have occupied this river valley for thousands of years," said Chief Joanna Bernard. "We have known great despair — disease, poverty, social exclusion, the loss of language and culture — but in today's modern society, economic development is the key to achieving social parity; to reclaiming our status as a proud, independent people. This exciting project embodies the hopes and aspirations of my people. It represents a transition from the past to the future; from what was, to what will be."
The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation contributed $9.2 million to this commercial centre project. The federal government provided a total of $3.5 million: $3 million from the Community Economic Opportunities Program for water, sewer, electrical and road infrastructure, and another $500,000 under the Aboriginal Business Development Program towards the establishment of a Band member-owned anchor tenant. The Province of New Brunswick contributed $500,000 through its Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund. Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is located within Edmundston, NB. The community has 330 members, with an on-reserve population of 151.
The Cherokee Nation has agreed to partner with Chicago-based PNE Wind USA Inc. to develop the largest tribal wind farm in the United States. "The Cherokee Nation is playing a significant role in creating new green jobs and expects to play a key role in Oklahoma's emerging wind energy industry," said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "The Cherokee Nation is committed to growing the Oklahoma economy, helping reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and creating sustainable jobs for our people in the renewable energy sector." The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 14-2 to enter into the project that is estimated to generate $16 million over the next 20 years. Development of the 90-turbine wind farm will start immediately on 3,000 acres of the tribe's Chilocco property in Kay County, site of a former Indian boarding school. "The Cherokee Nation has an opportunity to be a leader among Indian nations in renewable energy," said Deputy Speaker Chuck Hoskin Jr. "The tribe will be able to utilize an underutilized resource. We talk a lot about protecting our environment and conserving our resources, so this is a prime opportunity to put words into action." The wind farm would provide 153 megawatts of power to the southwest grid region for homes, businesses and farms. The entire Chilocco wind farm will encompass 6,000 acres, with four other tribes jointly overseeing 45 turbines on their 3,000-acre half.
May 14, 2013 - Royal Bank of Canada announced that Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), has been appointed to a second three-year term as Special Advisor to RBC. Fontaine will continue to support RBC's business development priorities, provide advice and counsel on business matters affecting Aboriginal Peoples and act as a representative in support of sponsorships and donations. "Over the past three years, Phil Fontaine has been instrumental in helping RBC deepen its relationship with Aboriginal communities," said Chinyere Eni, national director, Aboriginal Markets, RBC. "Recognizing Aboriginal rights and respecting cultural differences makes good business sense and we are optimistic that, with Phil's guidance, our relationship will continue to grow stronger and stronger." Many Aboriginal communities are prospering through land claim settlements and small business growth, as well as energy and resource development. This vital partnership will help them maximize their benefit from these opportunities. RBC will work closely with Fontaine to affect positive change and support Aboriginal participation in business ventures that will improve local economies and the future development of Canada. "There are more major projects happening on Aboriginal land in the private sector and resource industry than ever before. With RBC's support, Aboriginal communities can capitalize on these projects at the early stages of business development," said Phil Fontaine, special advisor, RBC. "This will not only help build strong Aboriginal economies, but also respectful, reciprocal and long-term professional relationships. I am proud to be a part of this process." RBC is committed to helping Aboriginal communities realize their goals by improving access to banking and capital, contributing to community and social development, providing employment, training and education, and supporting procurement opportunities. Since Fontaine began his first term as special advisor in September 2009, he has been involved in many of RBC's key corporate citizenship and sponsorship initiatives, including the RBC Blue Water Project and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Fontaine was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions on behalf of First Nations and his involvement in the resolution of claims arising from the legacy of Indian residential schools. (SOURCE: RBC)
Eighty students of First Nations School of Toronto will receive laptops today as part of the National pilot program One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Canada. A program of The Belinda Stronach Foundation (TBSF), OLPC Canada strives to empower Aboriginal youth to play an active role in their own education through access to learning centered technology. Canada's first National One Laptop per Child program, OLPC Canada with support from Vale, the Bank of Montreal Financial Group and the Government of Ontario has provided 3600 laptops to Aboriginal youth 6-12 years of age in rural, remote and urban communities located in 7 provinces and 2 territories. First Nations School is the first educational institution to participate in the program within the Greater Toronto Area. "Teaching and learning today must incorporate 21st Century knowledge, global perspectives, learning skills, resources and technology. Many of our students do not have access to technology in the home. Participating in this program will provide all of our students with the opportunity to use technology to support their learning in an engaging, hands-on way, and to prepare them to be citizens of tomorrow." said Lisa Zwicker, Principal of First Nations School of Toronto. The OLPC Canada initiative is modeled after the internationally successful One Laptop per Child program currently in place in more than 30 countries. This first of its kind program in Canada was designed in collaboration with Aboriginal leaders and students, education specialists and program experts from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), ParticipACTION, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ekomini and Safe Kids Canada. This collaboration resulted in the development of eight customized programs designed specifically for Aboriginal youth. "The Belinda Stronach Foundation is pleased to have partnered with the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) and First Nations School to enhance access to educational technology among Aboriginal youth in Toronto, the city with the largest population of Aboriginal peoples in Ontario." said Jennifer Martino, Director of OLPC Canada. Over 70,000 people in Toronto identify as First Nations, Inuit or Metis. Steven Vanloffeld, Executive Director of TASSC expresses the importance bringing programs such as OLPC Canada to urban Aboriginal youth, "Our young people are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population, so ensuring educational success is crucial. The First Nations School naturally seemed like the perfect fit to launch this urban pilot project." In addition to the distribution of laptops at the First Nations School, TASSC and OLPC Canada will be bringing this program to the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in Toronto in the coming weeks.
(SOURCE: One Laptop per Child Canada www.olpccanada.com )
May 13, 2013 - Congratulations to First Nations youth who walked 2,100 kms to speak out about the need to protect our waters. Today the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) acknowledged and applauded "the incredible achievement" of the 'Youth4Lakes Walkers' in their completion of their walk from Winnipeg to the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Since initiating their walk as a group of First Nations Youth from Manitoba, the Youth4Lakes journey grew to include youth from other provinces. Youth4Lakes left Winnipeg on March 28, 2013 and trekked over 2,100 kilometres "to raise awareness about protecting and honouring Lakes and Rivers from further damage by industry and pollution". AMC thanked the Youth4Lakes Walkers "in their effort to protect all of our waterways for all Canadians and acknowledges the work the young people are doing to also protect the Inherent and Treaty Rights of First Nations people".
First Nations Day of Action - WSANEC (Saanich) First Nations Reclaim Mount Douglas on Vancouver Island. WEC'KINEM (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout First Nation, with support from the Songhees and local WSANEC nations, are calling on all peoples in the Victoria area to participate in a day of action to Reclaim PKOLS, the original name of Mount Douglas. On May 22nd at 5PM. the event will reinstate the traditional name for the mountain and reclaim the site where the Douglas Treaty was first signed with the WSANEC nations. "This is something that our elders have been calling for, for many, many years," said Pelkey, "to bring back the names we have always used to where they belong". PKOLS (pronounced p'cawls), which can be translated as "White Rock" or "White Head", reflects the Indigenous oral history of the area. Stories of PKOLS go back to nearly the beginning of time for WSANEC (Saanich) people. Historically, it has been an important meeting place; and geological findings indicate that it was the last place glaciers receded from on southern Vancouver Island. "It is a very important place for our people," said Pelkey. "PKOLS is a part of our creation story within the WSANEC nation; and it's where our treaty was first agreed to in 1852." James Douglas and his men met with WSANEC chiefs at the summit of PKOLS to discuss a treaty between the local Indigenous peoples and the settler newcomers. Outnumbered by WSANEC warriors, Douglas offered blankets and money. The eventual signing of the Douglas Treaty was understood to be a promise that the WSANEC people would not be interfered with. "But this promise has since been broken." To signify the renewal of this original nation-to-nation treaty relationship, organizers of the May 22nd action, including volunteers from local First Nations, the Indigenous Nationhood Movement and Social Coast, will stage a march up PKOLS from the base; a re-enactment of the signing of the Douglas Treaty; the telling of oral histories and traditional significance of the mountain; and the installation of a new PKOLS sign. Beginning at 5:00pm on May 22nd, supporters will gather at the base of PKOLS in the lower parking lot, before beginning a march to the summit. "We expect this to be a major event," said Pelkey. "We welcome all people to witness and participate in this important day for our people." The following community organizations and individuals have endorsed the May 22nd Day of Action: AIDS Vancouver Island, Council of Canadians, Freeskool, Greenpeace, the Indigenous Nationhood Movement, Indigenous Waves Radio, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Keepers of the Athabasca, Lifecycles Project Society, Los Altos Institute, Naomi Klein, Rising Tide Vancouver, SocialCoast.org, Social Environmental Alliance, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Together Against Poverty Society, University of Victoria Indigenous Governance Program, Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network, Victoria Coalition for Survivors, Victoria Idle No More, The Warren Undergraduate Review.
May 10, 2013 - Alarming Findings from the National Household Survey. The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) is greatly concerned with many of the statistics found in the National Household Survey (NHS). The Survey goes into great statistical detail on Aboriginal children's housing situation; notably that in 2011 about one-third of Aboriginal children lived in a lone-parent family compared with 17.4% of non-Aboriginal children. The NHS also mentions that almost half of all children aged 14 and under in foster care were Aboriginal children. "The situation is far worse than previously thought" said NWAC President Michele Audette. "We're failing our children, and if we don't urgently turn this around, the future of Aboriginal Peoples in this country is in serious jeopardy." President Audette's concerns stem from the work NWAC has done recently on the legacy of residential schools where the link between residential schools and prisons became all too clear. She expressed concern that today's child welfare system has replaced yesterday's residential school system. The NHS identified a loss in the Aboriginal population's ability to converse in Aboriginal languages. 17.2% of the Aboriginal population responded that they were able to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language; compared with 21% according to the 2006 Census of Population. Between 2006 and 2011, there was a decline of 2% in the ability to converse in Aboriginal languages, while the Aboriginal population increased by 20.1%. Language and culture are closely connected, and cultural continuity has been directly linked to community health and wellness. An investment in language preservation today would go a long way towards community sustainability tomorrow. The survey demonstrates age trends that indicate the Aboriginal population is not only younger than the non-Aboriginal population but also growing at much higher rate. Due to higher fertility rates and shorter life expectancy the Aboriginal population increased by 20.1% between 2006 and 2011, compared with 5.2% for the non-Aboriginal population. In isolation the demographics are positive, however in light of other statistics such as those related to child welfare there is serious cause for concern. President Audette asserts, "There is no greater investment than our children. If Canada made efforts to invest in this untapped resource, and targeted community programming at children and youth we would all reap the benefits in the not too distant future." (SOURCE: NWAC)
May 8, 2013 - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo expressed concern regarding the Government of Canada's appeal of the April 2013 federal court decision reaffirming Jordan's Principle - a 2007 parliamentary motion requiring governments to put jurisdictional disputes related to payment aside in order to ensure First Nations children receive the same care available to non-First Nations children. "It is extremely frustrating that the federal government has chosen to expend scarce resources to continue this case in court, rather than fulfilling the commitment under Jordan's Principle with the health of our kids first," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "If we're genuinely committed to achieving solutions, we have to smash the status quo of protracted legal disputes that cost everyone. The lives and care of our children are at stake, and we must do everything in our power to support their health and safety. This is not something that can be disputed. It cannot wait." In what was considered a landmark ruling, last month the Federal Court ruled that the federal government is bound by Jordan's Principle, ordering the federal government to reimburse the cost of care for Pictou Landing First Nation member Jeremy Meewasige (18) who lives with numerous complex disabilities requiring 24 hour care. In the first decision to uphold the application of the unanimously passed motion of 2007, federal court Justice Leonard Mandamin ruled not only that Jordan's Principle be applied in this case, but that "Jordan's Principle is not to be narrowly interpreted." National Chief Atleo's comments come after a statement from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development confirming that the federal government has decided to appeal the Court's April 2013 decision. "No child should be denied health or medical services because of jurisdictional disputes between federal and provincial/territorial governments, and AFN will continue to call on all governments to work with First Nations to ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan's Principle," said National Chief Atleo. Adopted unanimously by the House of Commons December 12, 2007, Jordan's Principle is a mechanism to prevent First Nations children from being denied equal access to benefits or protections available to other Canadians as a result of First Nations status. It states that the government department first contacted for a service readily available off-reserve must pay for it while pursuing repayment of expenses, and that jurisdictional disputes, whether they are between departments or between levels of government, must not impede the provision of health care services to First Nations.Jordan's Principle is consistent with government obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and many federal, provincial and territorial child-focused statutes. (Source: AFN)
New data from the National Household Survey show that 1,400,685 people reported an Aboriginal identity in 2011, representing 4.3% of the total Canadian population. Aboriginal people accounted for 3.8% of the population in the 2006 Census. Of the people reporting an Aboriginal identity in 2011, 851,560, or 60.8%, identified as First Nations (North American Indian) only. Another 451,795, or 32.3%, identified as Metis only; and 59,445, or 4.2%, identified as Inuit only. Ontario was the province where the largest number of Aboriginal people lived, with 301,425, representing 21.5% of the total Aboriginal population. In addition, nearly 6 in 10 (57.6%) Aboriginal people lived in one of the four western provinces. In 2011, 16.6% of the Aboriginal population lived in British Columbia; 15.8% in Alberta; 14.0% in Manitoba and 11.3% in Saskatchewan. Aboriginal people made up the largest shares of the population of two territories. In Nunavut, 86.3% of the population were Aboriginal people and in the Northwest Territories 51.9%. In Yukon, Aboriginal people accounted for 23.1% of the population. The Aboriginal population is younger than the non-Aboriginal population. Children aged 14 and under accounted for more than one-quarter (28.0%) of the Aboriginal population, compared with 16.5% among the non-Aboriginal population. Additionally, Aboriginal youth aged 15 to 24 comprised 18.2% of the Aboriginal population, compared with 12.9% of the non-Aboriginal population. Seniors aged 65 and over represented about 6% of the Aboriginal population, less than half of the proportion of 14.2% in the non-Aboriginal population. The median age of the Aboriginal population was 28 years in 2011, compared with 41 for the non-Aboriginal population. (The median is the age where exactly one-half of the population is older and the other half is younger.) Inuit had a median age of 23 and were the youngest of the three Aboriginal groups. The median age was 26 for First Nations people, and 31 for Metis.
About 201,100 First Nations people lived in Ontario in 2011, the largest number in Canada. Another 155,020 lived in British Columbia and 116,670 lived in Alberta. First Nations people accounted for less than 4% of the population in each of these provinces. First Nations people represented almost one-third of the population of the Northwest Territories, nearly one-fifth of Yukon's and about 10% of the population of Manitoba as well as of Saskatchewan. First Nations people were younger than the non-Aboriginal population in every province and territory. The youngest First Nations population lived in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where their median age was 20 and 21 respectively. This was half of the median age (41 years) for the non-Aboriginal population in both provinces.
Most people who identified themselves as Metis lived in either the western provinces or in Ontario. In 2011, 96,865 Metis lived in Alberta, the largest population among the provinces and territories. They represented 21.4% of all Metis in Canada. One-quarter of Metis lived in four western census metropolitan areas. Winnipeg had the highest population of Metis at 46,325. It was followed by Edmonton with 31,780, Vancouver (18,485) and Calgary (17,040). The youngest Metis population lived in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where their median age was 28. The median age for non-Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan was 41 years and in Alberta it was 37. Metis living in New Brunswick were the oldest with a median age of 41. The median age for non-Aboriginal people in that province
was 44 years. About three-quarters (73.1%) of Inuit in Canada, or 43,460 people, lived in Inuit Nunangat. Inuit Nunangat stretches from Labrador to the Northwest Territories and comprises four Inuit regions: Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and the Inuvialuit region. Among these four regions, Nunavut had the largest Inuit population, with 27,070. Inuit living in Nunavut accounted for about half (45.5%) of the total Inuit population in Canada and represented 85.4% of Nunavut's population. The youngest Inuit population lived in Nunavik and Nunavut. In both of these Inuit regions, the median age of Inuit was 21 years, and about 4 in 10 Inuit were children aged 14 and under. In 2011, 240,815 Aboriginal people, or 17.2% of the total Aboriginal population, reported that they were able to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language. The ability to converse in an Aboriginal language was highest among Inuit.
May 6, 2013 - Three registered nurses employed by Health Canada, First Nations and Inuit communities are being recognized during National Nursing Week for their dedication, initiative and high standard of excellence in service. This year's recipients are: Joan Belanger - Bearskin Lake, Ontario. Joan is employed by Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) as the Nurse in Charge at the Bearskin Lake First Nation Nursing Station. Joan has been working with FNIHB since 2005 and has been in the role of Nurse in Charge since 2010. She obtained her Nursing Diploma in 1976 from Fanshawe College, Woodstock Campus School, and continues to further her nursing knowledge through additional courses and certificate programs. Her goal for 2013 is to obtain a diploma in Addictions Education at McMaster University. Joan has extensive nursing experience; prior to working with FNIHB, she worked in both homecare and hospital settings. Joan has been instrumental in initiating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle weight-loss program, as well as a detox program to improve the lives of individuals and their families in her community. She is recognized as delivering client care with compassion, empathy and dedication in her role, as well as providing excellent nursing care. Gail Nahmabin - Chippewas of Sarnia, Ontario. With a strong desire to promote healthy living in her community, Gail has worked as a Community Health Nurse for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation since 1995. She is well-known for being a seasoned professional and an advocate for health services in her community. She has mentored many nursing students and has helped to develop and guide new nurses. She is described as warm and compassionate with a sound knowledge of nursing practices. Gail was born and raised on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. She received her Diploma in Nursing from Lambton College and has a wealth of knowledge she obtained from her additional studies in Community Health Nursing and various other health courses. Gail is committed to providing excellent nursing care to all her patients and their families through her advanced knowledge and previous nursing experience.
Marie McPherson - Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territoires. Marie is the Nurse in Charge at the Sachs Harbour Health Centre. She has been a devoted nurse and caretaker, providing excellent nursing services to this community for over 10 years. Marie obtained her Registered Nurse Diploma in 1970 from St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing and has continued to take additional courses over the years to advance her knowledge of nursing. Before moving to Northern Canada in 1997 to become a Community Health Nurse, Marie's career included nursing positions at various hospitals both nationally and internationally, obtaining extensive experience in Coronary and Intensive Care. While working in Yellowknife, she also attended a six month outpost nursing program, which allowed her to practice and develop her nursing skills in many different areas of nursing. Marie is known for going above and beyond as she delivers excellent nursing care to her community. Based on her knowledge and experience, she is able to provide solid judgment, which is well received by community members. At the eleventh Annual First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Award of Excellence in Nursing ceremony in Ottawa, the winners were awarded the National Award of Excellence in Nursing for their hard work and commitment within their community. The Award of Excellence in Nursing was created in 2003 to acknowledge the hard work, devotion and commitment of nurses in First Nation and Inuit communities. Each year, nurses are nominated by their supervisors, peers and fellow community members. Three nurses are selected annually to receive this designation. Award recipients will receive a bursary towards career development training.
May 3, 2013 - "The relationship between many First Nations communities and the RCMP is broken," according to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. He joined with the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society in travelling to Prince Rupert to meet with families of young First Nations people whose suspicious deaths remain unsolved. The families say that the deaths of their family members have not been sufficiently investigated by the RCMP. The Grand Chief stated: "Time and time again, RCMP action and inaction has made our people feel they cannot rely on them for help and that they will not be treated fairly. The RCMP have not paid enough attention to violent crimes against our people, whether along the infamous Highway of Tears or the many unsolved deaths of women and men throughout the north. We question why the RCMP are so quick to dismiss the suspicious death of Justin Brooks as a suicide or as an accident. We are deeply concerned as to how casually the RCMP approach their investigations when a First Nations person is killed." On March 4, Justin Brooks, a 21-year-old Indigenous man living in Prince Rupert, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the shore near the city’s downtown. Apparently, Mr. Brooks had been in a fight the same evening as his death. A coroner's report indicates that his cause of death was drowning, but there is so far no conclusion as to how Mr. Brooks ended up in the water or whether his death was connected in any way to the fight earlier that evening. While the RCMP indicate that their investigation is ongoing, the Brooks family is concerned about the way the investigation is proceeding. The family says that RCMP officers who visited them seemed to blame Justin's death on him, suggesting that he may have committed suicide, or tripped into the water. They say that the police returned their son's bloodied clothing to the family instead of keeping it as evidence. The family also say they were denied the ability to view Justin’s body and the condition that he was in after he was found. Justin Brooks' death follows the unsolved deaths of a 15-year-old Indigenous woman at the same park in 2003, Kayla Rose McKay, and a 14-year-old Indigenous woman Emmalee Rose Mclean in 2010 on Prince Rupert's shore. Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association added: "There is clearly a problem in BC when First Nations families and communities are unable to place their faith in law enforcement either to protect them, or to properly investigate crimes committed against them. Across the north we have heard from many First Nations communities that police treat them poorly compared to non-First Nations communities. The tragedy of missing and murdered women on the Highway of Tears is the most well-known example, but the problem extends well beyond that." There will be a vigil in memory of the victims on Saturday, May 4 at 8pm at the Prince Rupert's Rotary Waterfront Park.
May 1st, 2013 - CANADA AND THE FIRST NATIONS Cooperation or Conflict? In his research paper, noted academic DOUGLAS L. BLAND warns of the possibility of an Aboriginal "insurgency in Canada. "The young warrior cohort is here to stay. By 2017, about 42 percent of the First Nations population on the Prairies will be under the age of 30, over twice the 20 percent in the non-Aboriginal community. Many young Aboriginal people are disadvantaged by circumstance, government policies, band mismanagement, negative leader models or parental choices. They tend to be poorly educated and unskilled. To reduce the feasibility of an uprising in the First Nations, Canada needs educational and employment policies that immediately transform future First Nations cohorts aged 15 to 24 into productive, selfreliant people. The challenge for Canadian and Aboriginal leaders is to rescue today's Aboriginal youth from the negative social effects of Canadian realities and the shortcomings of Indigenous governments. At the same time, they must prevent conditions from disenfranchising future generations of First Nations youth. There is no either/or choice in this situation." Bland believes it is now very real with the possibility of a disruptive confrontation between Canada's Aboriginal and nonAboriginal communities. "The fractionalization along Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal fault-lines is obvious. Social life on many reserves is defined by poverty and its consequences. For many Aboriginal people in Canada, but especially for First Nations women and children, life on-reserve is dreary, dark and dangerous. Over-crowded conditions and poorly constructed and maintained housing are the norm on reserves. Illicit drug use is widespread on many reserves; personal insecurity is a constant.Left untended as they are today, these social cleavages present a growing danger to citizens in both communities and to Canada." Security factor: The minimal capabilities of Canada's security forces are well understood in Aboriginal communities. Native leaders also understand the reluctance in governments, in the Canadian Forces and police organizations (as demonstrated at Caledonia) to intervene in Aboriginal demonstrations, even when there are urgent and lawful reasons for doing so. This reinforces the feasibility factor, and makes more certain future challenges to civil authority at times and places of Aboriginal leaders' choosing." Bland concludes that "Without reasonable shifts in both communities in the near future, a great deal might change for the worse for both First Nations people and for Canadians."
Protection and resilience for Urban Aboriginals. Research published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine suggests illicit and prescription drug problems among urban Aboriginal adults in Canada is lessened by the practise of traditional culture. ( "Findings encourage the growth of programs and services that support Aboriginal peoples who strive to maintain their cultural traditions within cities, and further studies that examine how Aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs may promote and protect Aboriginal health in an urban environment." )
Highlights: This study provides much needed information about the protective role of traditional Aboriginal culture in cities. Aboriginal cultural participation was protective against prescription and illicit drug problems for urban-based Aboriginal. Increased self-esteem partially explained why cultural participation was protective for Aboriginal peoples.Aboriginal culture also promoted resilience. Mainstream acculturation was not associated illicit drug problems and was a risk factor for prescription drug problems.(Illicit and prescription drug use disorders are two to four times more prevalent among Aboriginal peoples in North America than the general population. Research suggests Aboriginal cultural participation may be protective against substance use problems in rural and remote Aboriginal communities. As Aboriginal peoples continue to urbanize rapidly around the globe, the role traditional Aboriginal beliefs and practices may play in reducing or even preventing substance use problems in cities is becoming increasingly relevant, and is the focus of the present study. Mainstream acculturation was also examined. Data were collected via in-person surveys with a community-based sample of Aboriginal adults living in a mid-sized city in western Canada.
April 30, 2013 - PERSPECTIVE: Matrimonial Real Property Rights On-Reserve. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawa:ke (MCK) would like to reiterate its strong opposition to federal legislation being pushed ahead by the Conservative government that will affect land use on reserves. The Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act (known as S-2) is expected to formally become law in the near future and will be imposed on communities that don't have their own laws to counter it. "The Federal government is creating legislation that is absolutely and completely unacceptable," said Grand Chief Michael Ahríhron Delisle Jr. "S-2 will only complicate issues by granting Provincial courts the jurisdiction to rule on applications made regarding land ownership on reserves, once again eroding Canada’s responsibilities. . .Since this topic was introduced in 2007, the government has failed or refused to listen to the voices of First Nations stakeholders. . .Once again, the Harper Conservatives are steamrolling ahead, which clearly highlights the paternalistic approach by dictating how we run our affairs on our own lands." The MCK will be making a formal request to the Kahnawa:ke Legislative Coordinating Commission to begin the development of a Kahnawa:ke law using the Community Decision Making Process to take full consideration of the community's will and direction in this urgent matter.
The Auditor General of Canada has pointed an accusing finger at both federal Aboriginal Affairs and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their lack of agreement and co-operation in addressing key issues. "An absence of cooperation is hindering the historical record's creation". The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada have been unable to cooperate, in the spirit of reconciliation, to create as complete as possible a historical record of the Indian residential school system and its legacy, says Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada, in his Report tabled today in the House of Commons. Under an agreement reached in 2006, the Commission, working with the Department acting on behalf of Canada, was to create a historical record of Indian residential schools and establish a national research centre where the record is to be maintained. "Documenting the history of Indian residential schools is an important part of the reconciliation process," said Mr. Ferguson. "With the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission running out in some 15 months, the Commission and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada have yet to agree on the work to be done." The audit found that the Commission and the Department have not cooperated and agreed on basic questions, such as which documents are relevant to the historical record, what timeframe should be covered, when the documents would be provided, in what formats and quality level, and who would cover what costs. These disagreements about the scope of the project have resulted in a situation where no one knows what is required to create the historical record, what remains to be done, and how much time and resources it will take to complete the work. The Commission has selected an organization to host the national research centre and identified an approach to transfer its documents and assets to this organization. However, the audit found that it has yet to develop a detailed plan to resolve significant issues relating to this transfer, including privacy protection. "We are concerned that the lack of cooperation, delays and looming deadline stand in the way of creating the historical record of Indian residential schools as it was originally intended," said Mr. Ferguson.
"We agree with the Auditor General that Canada and the TRC can work more closely together to ensure the objectives of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are met, and we are working jointly with the Commission to develop a project plan to fulfill document disclosure requirements." Bernard Valcourt, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development responded to the Report by the Office of the Auditor General. "The Government of Canada is committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools. That is why the Prime Minister made an historic apology on behalf of all Canadians in 2008, and it is why, to date, we have provided over 3.5 million documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). All of these documents have been digitally scanned and provided to the TRC in electronic format to aid in the creation of a permanent historical record of the residential schools legacy for current and future generations of Canadians. Last week, on the occasion of the TRC's national event in Montreal, I met with the TRC Commissioners and reaffirmed our government's commitment to reconciliation between Aboriginal people, their families and all Canadians, and to working with the TRC to fulfill Canada's obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). I also had the honour of meeting with a group of residential school survivors and youth, and had the opportunity to tour the Learning Place to learn more about Quebec's residential schools and the effect they had on the lives of Aboriginal children. The report released today by the Office of the Auditor General acknowledges some of the steps that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has taken to fulfill its obligations under the IRSSA. We agree with the Auditor General that Canada and the TRC can work more closely together to ensure the objectives of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are met, and we are working jointly with the Commission to develop a project plan to fulfill document disclosure requirements. I also extended to the TRC an invitation to participate in a focused education consultation so that the government's proposed education legislation benefits from the insights gleaned by the Commission through its hearings across Canada. Our government has been, and will continue to be, guided by the principle that working together is the best way to achieve the healing and reconciliation that the implementation of the IRSSA is intended to achieve. This is a goal I know is shared by the TRC and I look forward to our next meeting so that we can build on our discussion last week as we work toward this important objective."
The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted the report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada's human rights record, which included a large set of questions, recommendations, and comments from countries across the world about violence against indigenous women and girls. Human Rights Watch believes this latest attention should spur Canada to take decisive action to address the hundreds of murders and disappearances of indigenous women and girls over the last four decades. "It is not surprising that violence against indigenous women and girls figured so prominently in the discussion of Canada's human rights record," said Liesl Gerntholtz, women's rights director at Human Rights Watch. "It reflects the persistent insecurity faced by women and girls, the urgent need for a public accounting of what has gone wrong for so long, and a robust national plan for addressing it going forward." The UN Human Rights Council report released in Geneva today summarizes Canada's second Universal Periodic Review which took place on April 26, 2013. All UN member countries undergo such a review every four years. During the UPR process, other UN member countries may ask questions and make recommendations about measures to improve the country's human rights situation. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Sweden, and Mexico submitted questions in advance about Canada's response to violence against indigenous women and girls. While recognizing efforts made by Canada on this issue, China, the United States, Estonia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, Togo, and others expressed concerns about the situation during the review and made recommendations to the government. The development of a national strategy to combat the violence was a recurring recommendation. The government elaborated on measures in place to address the issue, including the National Center for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, police task forces to investigate cases, and community safe plans. "To be successful, any effort to address violence against indigenous women and girls will need to address the issue of police accountability," Gerntholtz said. "That includes accountability for the police response to reports of violence in the community and accountability for any acts of violence committed by police officers themselves." Canada recently approved the requests of three human rights authorities to visit the country.
April 29, 2013 - Canada and the Metis Nation have signed a new Governance and Financial Accountability Accord. The Protocol establishes a process for Canada and the Metis Nation to conduct discussions on a range of key issues and objectives, including: jurisdictional issues related to federal and provincial responsibilities, access to benefits and settlements by Metis veterans, economic development, among other issues. The Governance and Financial Accountability Accord formalizes the transparency and accountability measures related to the Metis National Council's fiscal arrangement with Canada. "We are pleased to have renewed the Protocol so that we can continue to build on the success of the 2008 Protocol," added President Clement Chartier. "We are serious about working together to ensure that Metis people continue to share in economic development opportunities." The renewed Metis Nation Protocol includes a number of changes from the 2008 protocol, including an agreement by both parties to hold an annual meeting engaging the Minister, the Metis National Council and its Governing Members. It also includes an agreement by both parties to hold regular bilateral meetings between the Minister and the President of the Metis National Council, as well as meetings between senior officials, to ensure continued discussions on issues that matter to both parties. New in this year's agreement is a Governance and Financial Accountability Accord, annexed to the Protocol. The Accord identifies five major priorities, including: the completion of the MNC General Assembly Governance Resolution from December 2010; completing the development of common standards for Metis Nation Registries; a move toward more flexible funding agreements and reduced administrative burden; continuing to strengthen national policy support for Metis economic development and participation in major development projects; and, similar to the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act, the Accord will ensure the public disclosure of audited consolidated financial statements and schedules of remuneration, to strengthen the transparency and accountability of the Metis National Council's fiscal arrangement. As part of this renewed Protocol, both parties agree to prepare a joint progress report on the results achieved under the Protocol and its schedules on an annual basis. This report will be posted on both parties' websites.
April 26, 2013 - Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs - Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak - Southern Chiefs' Organization have joined forces "to combat Manitoba's failure to fulfill their legal duty to consult, accommodate and obtain the full, informed and prior consent of First Nations prior to issuing work permits, mining licenses and other authorizations to companies in First Nation traditional territories." The Chiefs accuse the province of being in collusion with the mining industry and other resource companies, "skirting the legal duty to consult and obtain consent from the First Nations". A news release warns of protests in the coming months. "Chiefs, with the support of grassroots, are prepared to take direct action to achieve resource sharing and to send a message to the Manitoba government that the status quo is not acceptable. The grassroots are rallying for a summer of protests directed at the Manitoba government and resource development companies. Idle No More and other allies have vowed to support any First Nation and organization that defend the Aboriginal, treaty and inherent rights of First Nations, and stand in defence of the environment." Thew news release explains that on many occasions the province of Manitoba has unlawfully issued permits, licenses and other land dispositions which constitute a breach of constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights. "Due to mounting frustration, First Nations in Manitoba will stop the provincial blockade against their traditional economies by declaring moratoriums on resource development on their traditional territories. First Nation "Stop Work Orders" on mine development are now being posted and will be enforced."
April 25, 2013 - Ottawa hosts Northern Scene, produced by the National Arts Centre, it is a multi-disciplinary arts festival that offers a contemporary cultural snapshot of the Canadian North, featuring the work of 250 of the best established and emerging artists from Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and Nunavik, including northern music, theatre, dance, visual and media arts, film, literature, storytelling, food and fashion events. "It is a joy to welcome these talented performers from across the Canadian Arctic. Many of them have performed for audiences around the world – from circumpolar nations to villages in sub-Saharan African to Buckingham Palace. But Canada is our home and it has special meaning to perform in the national capital. I congratulate the National Arts Centre on this incredible showcase, and in particular on its success in reflecting the true depth and breadth of our," said Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Terry Audla. Metis National Council President Clement Chartier commenting on the 10-day festival featuring 200 Indigenous artists, in Ottawa stated: "Northern Scene is a breath of fresh air, or some may say, an Arctic storm, hitting the nation's capital where Indigenous peoples' sometimes become part of the political reality of Canada, but never a significant force in the cultural life as will be witnessed during the next two weeks." AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Alteo, welcoming the artists said: "Northern Scene is a unique opportunity to experience and celebrate the strong and thriving Northern cultures through the important expression of art. Sharing is an essential step toward increased understanding and respect for where we come from and where we're going. I commend all those who have travelled here to Ottawa to share their experiences, their visions and expressions with all of us, and I encourage everyone in Ottawa/Gatineau region to attend the Festival."
Manitoba honours "a true champion of the north". The late Oscar Lathlin, who overcame many challenges to become chief of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) and a cabinet minister in the Government of Manitoba, is being honoured today with the opening of a library that bears his name. "Oscar dedicated himself to expanding educational opportunities for young people, so it's entirely appropriate that this new library is now part of his legacy," , Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said. "He encouraged young people to do everything they could to further themselves and be competitive. The Oscar Lathlin Library will honour that commitment and give northern students an important tool to do just that." The 16,400-square-foot research library includes a campus commons area for students, computer workstations, study areas and rooms for private meetings. It serves the two main campuses and 12 regional centres across the north. The library is part of a major expansion of the University College of the North campus at The Pas, supported with a $15 million investment by the province. It was also done with the help of generous donations from members of the community including Evans Premachuk, Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the family of Oscar Lathlin, said Ashton. The expansion includes: * a new 6,500-sq.-ft. child-care facility to accommodate up to 76 children, * an Aboriginal centre offering culturally appropriate assistance, and * centralized administrative offices. "Oscar Lathlin was a great leader and a man dedicated to his community," said Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Erin Selby. "Oscar worked tirelessly for the north and became a voice for the north in the legislature, and this
library will be a fitting tribute to his memory." Lathlin was born May 20, 1947, and died Nov. 1, 2008. He was elected chief of OCN in 1985. In 1990, he was elected to the legislative assembly of Manitoba and following the 1999 election became a minister in the provincial cabinet. Lathlin lost his father when he was eight and shouldered the responsibility as the principal breadwinner for his mother, brothers and sisters when he was 15, Ashton said, adding he had the ability to laugh in the face of adversity and was not afraid of challenges. "Oscar was a true champion of the north. He was a quiet man, but when he spoke,
people listened," said Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson. "He worked tirelessly to provide more opportunities for northern families and he never lost his sense of humour, forging strong relationships with his constituents, family, friends and colleagues. I can think of no more fitting tribute than this library that will stand for generations as a symbol of what Oscar stood for."
April 23, 2013 - "Band-aid solutions won't change much for Aboriginal communities fighting prescription drug abuse". That according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, MP, Carol Hughes, who says the Harper government's solutions for the Neskantaga First Nation are temporary and insufficient.
Neskantaga declared a state of emergency last week to draw attention to suicide in the community which lost two members in the space of two weeks. Hughes, the Official Opposition's critic for Aboriginal Health, questioned the answer she received from the Minister of Health when she raised the community's plight in parliament last week. Hughes says the government is merely providing short-term assistance for this one community, when there are many communities facing similar public health challenges that deserve a long-term response. "The temporary government solution is totally inadequate," said Hughes. "When will the government come up with a serious strategy and long-term help for the fight against drug abuse, suicide, crime and violence in Aboriginal communities?" The issue has been brewing for some time according to Hughes who points out the small remote community has publicly asked for support to deal with problems related to prescription drug abuse for years. She also says the Minister's assurances given in March of last year have proven to be premature. "Instead of playing political games the Conservative should act to end this crisis and start working on real solutions," said Hughes. "The sad truth is that in a non-Aboriginal community, a similar situation would not be tolerated and substantial resources would already have been deployed to deal with the situation."
The government has committed to send additional nurses and counselors to Neskantaga, but Hughes says that Aboriginal communities fighting prescription drug abuse and related issues require long-term assistance, not band aids. "Why won't the Government deliver, long-term solutions that this community needs, and in a country such as ours, they deserve?" said Hughes.
Tribute to Mi'kmaq Elder Margaret Pictou Labillois. "On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations and the national executive, I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Chief Margaret Pictou Labillois and the people of Eel River Bar First Nation (NB). We have lost a respected Elder, leader and a magnificent First Nations Mi'gmaq woman who will be remembered for her tremendous dedication, kindness and generosity towards her people," said National Chief Atleo. "Chief Pictou Labillois, a loving wife and mother of 14 children, will be missed by many and remembered dearly for her tireless efforts. We offer our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones." A proud member of the Mi'gmaq Nation and a long-time supporter of her community, Chief Pictou Labillois will be remembered as a strong voice and advocate for her nation. Her contributions, conviction and compassion will be missed. She dedicated a good portion of her life to helping promote and protect the Mi'kmaq language and culture. She was the first of her community to graduate high school in 1939. Five years later, she served in the Royal Canadian Airforce (RCAF) as a photo-reconnaissance technician. Beginning in 1970, she served two terms as Chief of Eel River Bar First Nation, the first female Chief in the New Brunswick region. She received the Order of Canada in 1998 in recognition of her leadership qualities and significant demonstration of traditional skills. In recognition of her leadership and protection of the Mi'kmaq language, she was awarded the Order of New Brunswick in October 2005. Regional Chief Roger Augustine, New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island, added: "In today's world, Margaret Labillois was a true spiritual leader. The integrity, honesty and wisdom that she has provided to all of us will be remembered by future generations. May the Great Spirit guide her through her journey in her new life and provide love and strength to her family." In closing, National Chief Atleo remarked that "Chief Margaret Pictou Labillois was a truly remarkable leader who leaves behind a legacy that inspires all of us. Her many achievements are a source of pride and an example of the tremendous potential of our peoples."
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Guns and Gangs Unit, Drug Enforcement and Canine Unit with the assistance of the O.P.P. Organized Crime Enforcement Team attended the First Nation community of Bearskin Lake to execute a search warrant as part of an investigation. The search warrant yielded police a Prohibited Ruko AK-47 Assault Rifle and two Prohibited High Capacity Magazines. The weapon and devices were seized from the residence of a 57 year old man, no charges have been laid at this time and the Guns and Gangs Unit is continuing the investigation. Bearskin Lake First Nation is located approximately 650 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.
April 22, 2013 - The leader of the NDP issued an Earth Day statement that speaks out against any proposed oil pipeline expansion to British Columbia. Adrian Dix who is seeking to be BC's next Premier, stated: "People know that the NDP has taken a clear position on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. We believe it is not in the economic or environmental interests of British Columbia. We also believe the Liberal government made a mistake by signing over decision-making authority to the Harper government in Ottawa. It is not acceptable that the Harper government’s decision on Enbridge has become the decision of the people of BC. That's why in the first week of an NDP government, we will take back that decision making authority. We believe that that is the appropriate approach—that a decision that has so much impact on the economy and environment of British Columbia should be made here in BC. Of course, the Enbridge pipeline isn't the only pipeline proposal BC faces. Kinder Morgan has a proposal currently in the pre-application stage. Kinder Morgan has an existing pipeline, which has been used largely to serve the west coast market, including the Chevron refinery in Metro Vancouver and other refineries such as Cherry Point in Washington State. Only about 80,000 barrels per day of the current pipeline is exported via tanker from Vancouver. The Kinder Morgan proposal as we understand it, would dramatically transform what that pipeline does and would dramatically transform the Port of Vancouver. The Kinder Morgan pipeline would become a pipeline designed for oil sands bitumen export, with increasing dramatically the barrels per day passing through the Port of Vancouver via tankers. We have to wait to see a formal application, but I don't think that the Port of Metro Vancouver, as busy and as successful as it is, should become a major oil export facility. We will conduct a made-in-BC review of the Kinder Morgan proposal and decisions will be made here in BC. Our position is clear: we do not believe any proposal should transform Vancouver into a major port for oil export. In this election, more of the same means Stephen Harper decides what’s right for BC. Change for the better means a made-in-BC approach to protecting our environment and our coasts."
April 20, 2013 - On behalf of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Executive Vice Chief Edward (Dutch) Lerat welcomes the Advocate for Children and Youth 2012 annual report. The recently released annual report emphasizes the need for greater inclusion of First Nations in designing, implementing and monitoring the new child welfare system. Vice Chief Lerat appreciates the Province's initial efforts to include First Nations in the design of the new child welfare system, however, that involvement has been significantly reduced and greater efforts must be made to ensure First Nations are not in the same place in another 20 years. "We share the concerns of the Advocate for Children and Youth as raised in their recent annual report; particularly, that we must collectively do better for First Nations children and youth in Saskatchewan as well as for all children and youth in this province," says Vice Chief Lerat. "Why wait another day to make those investments that will see the system responsive to the children that are using it. The moment to act is now. If we had acted collectively twenty years ago, we would be seeing the returns on those investments today with fewer health and social issues facing our children, youth and families, less pressures on health, social and justice systems in the province, and ultimately, a healthier and wealthier province overall." Vice Chief Lerat commends the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth for their role in protecting the rights of all children and youth in Saskatchewan. He also recognizes and respects the work of the Advocate’s office in advancing the importance of building better and more meaningful relationships between governments and First Nations as stated in the 2012 Advocate for Children and Youth Annual report. The FSIN encourages every citizen of this province to become more involved in changing the system through advocacy and just being more informed. A good place to start is by reading the annual report which is available on the Advocate’s website. http://www.saskadvocate.ca/
Bob Pringle, Advocate for Children and Youth, tabled his 2012 Annual Report in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly yesterday. The report details recent developments and provides some advice from the Advocate to the provincial government on the Saskatchewan Children and Youth Agenda, recognition of the
rights of young people in legislation and practice, and doing better for Indigenous children and youth in our province.Throughout the report, the Advocate highlights the rights of young people in accordance with the 54 Articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, and in particular, the
need to embed them into domestic law in Saskatchewan. He notes that the review currently underway of The Child and Family Services Act and The Adoption Act presents the opportunity to not only define the authority of government, but to also include recognition of citizen's rights, including children's rights, as well as the rights of parents, foster parents, extended family or other caregivers, professionals and other stakeholders in the system.
April 19, 2013 - The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) commends the leaders of the National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) and Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs for jointly calling on the federal government to conduct a National Public Inquiry on violence against Aboriginal women and girls. "This is an important demonstration of solidarity by Aboriginal leaders and the Ministers", said NWAC President Michèle Audette. "Aboriginal leaders have agreed on the need for an inquiry and a national action plan to address violence for some time. We are so very pleased to now have the support of the Ministers who were at this meeting on the need for a National Inquiry to address this critical issue." President Audette said that the full support she felt among the NAO leaders on this issue helped her to press strongly for action, with positive results. The five National Aboriginal Organizations have been working to identify key elements for a National Inquiry, including the participation in planning, decision making and implementation by those most affected by this issue – Aboriginal women, their families, and their communities. Aboriginal leaders and community members came together to work on this issue at the recent National Forum on Community Safety and Ending Violence co-hosted by NWAC and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Edmonton on April 9-10, 2013. The meeting between Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and the leaders of the five National Aboriginal Organizations in Winnipeg on April 17th had three key agenda items: violence against Aboriginal women and girls, education and economic development.
April 17, 2013 - Provincial and territorial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Leaders from the five National Aboriginal Organizations (known as the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group AAWG) confirmed further actions to be taken to address the unique challenges and opportunities of First Nations regardless of status or residency, Inuit and Metis Peoples. Acknowledging that Parliament has agreed to appoint a Special Committee on the matter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, Premiers and Ministers in attendance support the National Aboriginal Organizations Leaders call upon the Federal Government to hold a National Public Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls, and that the Federal Government consult with the Provinces, Territories and National Aboriginal Organizations on the terms of reference of the National Public Inquiry. Among the items agreed to pursue. . .they identified the need for disaster mitigation strategies with the federal government on reserve and to improve disaster mitigation and emergency management in
Aboriginal communities. Ministers and Leaders acknowledged the importance of continued cooperation on Aboriginal Affairs. This includes focusing on increasing efforts to support safe communities and prevent violence against Aboriginal women and girls, enhancing skills training and educational opportunities, building strong working relationships with Aboriginal communities to support economic development, working to address housing challenges and working with the federal government to enhance disaster support services. Ministers and Leaders agreed to meet again in November 2013 to discuss progress on their activities.
APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC From Vivian and Andy Tom, Fraser Lake, BC - I am appealing to the public for help regarding our 21 year old daughter Destiny Rae Tom. In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, our daughter's badly beaten body was discovered on the Nadleh Indian Reservation just outside of Fort Fraser, BC. Our lives have forever been changed with the loss of our youngest child. Destiny was a beautiful, caring, and loving person. She was a loving mother to our 3 year old granddaughter, Cassidy. Destiny loved life, loved people and had many family and friends that loved her. Her life was tragically taken far too soon. Whoever is responsible for Destiny's death is still out there. My husband, children and especially our 3 year granddaughter deserve closure to this horrific nightmare. We are not sleeping and we are having difficulty eating. We believe that someone out there knows something and has yet to come forward with information surrounding Destiny's death. Please – if you have any information that will help with the investigation, we ask you to help us. Please come forward with the truth. We ask you to help our family understand this, and more importantly, that justice is served for Destiny and little Cassidy. We are praying and trusting God for answers. We are praying for the person who is responsible for Destiny's death. We miss you Destiny. We love you. We are deeply hurt that you left us at such a young age. Cassidy misses you every day. We are thankful to anyone who is going to come forward and help us today. Thank you and God bless you. Please contact: Fraser Lake RCMP at (250) 699-7777 Crimestoppers 1-800-222-8477
Following Monday's release of the final report of the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Metis People, the Government of Saskatchewan is announcing its intention to ensure driver education is available to all eligible students who attend on-reserve high schools. Increased access to driver education removes barriers to mobility and employment opportunities, a challenge identified in the report. "Driver education is something that should be provided to all students in our province, regardless of where they live or attend school," Education Minister Russ Marchuk said. "Our government is committed to ensuring that all Saskatchewan residents share in the success of our growing province, and that requires removing barriers to First Nations education and employment opportunities." Driver training is already offered by some First Nations high schools. This will enable approximately 2,600 more First Nations students to take driver education. Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) will discuss funding of the additional programs with both the federal government and First Nations Bands. "Increased access to driver training makes the roads safer for all Saskatchewan residents," Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance Donna Harpauer said. "This provides SGI with another opportunity to promote traffic safety with First Nations youth and helps support the growth of Saskatchewan's workforce by facilitating access to driver's licences." Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief Simon Bird is pleased with the provincial announcement. "This is an important issue we have been working with the provincial government on for the last two years, and we see this as a positive first step in moving forward on the recommendations of the Joint Task Force," Vice Chief Bird said. "I agree that this funding removes a barrier to mobility and employment opportunities for First Nations youth in this territory called Saskatchewan." SGI will be consulting with First Nations high schools in the coming months, and will assist them in implementation of the program.
April 16, 2013 - New legislation introduced by the Alberta government, "will improve the lives of Albertans on Metis Settlements", according to a provincial government news release. Bill 19, the Metis Settlements Amendment Act, 2013, "promotes accountability and good governance of the settlements".
Highlights of the proposed legislation: An official Code of Conduct for Settlement councils will be developed. There will be a clear division between the role of councils and administration. An independent committee will review councillors’ salaries and make public recommendations on those salaries. After considering the recommendations, the Metis Settlements General Council will set maximum salary rates. Councils will be required to develop annual three-year business plans. Elections will be held every four years instead of three. This is consistent with the recent move to a four-year cycle for other local governments. Increased accountability measures including standardized financial reporting. The new rules regarding accountability and financial stability are in line with other local government practices in the province. Alberta is home to the only recognized Metis land base in Canada, comprising 512,121 hectares (1.25 million acres). The eight settlements are located primarily in the east-central and northern areas of the province. 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Metis Settlements in the province.
April 15, 2013 - Voice, Vision and Leadership: A Place for All. That's the title of the final report of the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Metis People in Saskatchewan. In this final report, the Joint Task Force describes three foundational
understandings that connect and intersect with all components of the report: Dignified mutual relationships; Poverty reduction and the prevalence of racism; and, Recognizing First Nations and Metis cultures and languages. Taken together, they form a lens by which the Joint Task Force judged the potential recommendations. Two recommendations are overarching – the recognition of First Nations and Metis languages; and, a holistic approach to actions and outcomes.
Twenty-three recommendations are made across the four mandated areas – early childhood, prekindergarten to grade 12, post-secondary education, and labour force attachment. Recommendations address a broad range and scope of issues including an early childhood strategy; literacy; funding; ancillary supports; First Nations and Metis content, perspectives and ways of knowing; youth engagement; high school credits; technology; driver education; adult basic education; student supports; seamless credit transfer; leadership programming; education labour alignment; inclusive workplaces; sector planning; and, quick skills training. The three-member task force was established on March 26, 2012, with a mandate to focus on several key goals for First Nations and Metis people including: Improved early childhood outcomes and transition to school; Increased high school and post-secondary completion rates; Improved participation in the labour force and employment; and Greater quality of life and enhanced self-sufficiency.
April 14, 2013 - Did you know that the celebrated comedian Johnathan Winters (who recently passed away at age 87) had ties to Native America? Winters was one-sixteenth Cherokee and referring to blood quantum was once quoted: "If I had a nosebleed, I'd be out of the tribe". Winters was among the celebrities who visited Alcatraz Island in support of the American Indian occupation there in the early 1970's. People magazine also reported that Winters was active in American Indian causes, including rounding up abandoned clothing from dry cleaners and organizing the first American Indian tennis tournament.
April 13, 2013 - Here's one of the Aboriginal-specific resolutions passed this weekend at the NDP convention in Montreal: WHEREAS over six hundred Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada;WHEREAS the Government of Canada has cancelled funding to Sisters in Spirit research into missing and murdered Aboriginal women; and BE IT RESOLVED THAT the New Democratic Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to immediately launch, in consultation with Aboriginal women and their representatives, a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the New Democratic Party of Canada reaffirm its commitment to ending violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women by committing to action, including addressing root causes and systemic inequalities.
April 11, 2013 - Key milestone reached on road to a modern-day treaty in BC. Kitsumkalum First Nation members have voted in favour of their (treaty) Agreement-in-Principle. Once the polls closed at 8p.m. last night, 298 ballots were counted with 190 members voting yes to proceed into final treaty negotiations with Canada and British Columbia while 108 members voted no. 97 of the 298 total were mail in ballots with the remainder voting in person at the Kitsumkalum Community Hall.
April 9, 2013 - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), the Government of Canada, and Government of Ontario have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote the success of Ontario First Nation students. This partnership agreement is designed to support and improve educational outcomes for First Nation students from participating NAN communities who attend provincial and band-operated schools. The focus of the agreement is on working collaboratively to support NAN students in reaching their full learning potential and in attaining achievement levels comparable to the general student population in Ontario.The MOU identifies five priority areas:Student Support Services: focuses on student safety and well-being measures, transition and orientation programs, retention strategies and parental engagement initiatives, support mechanisms for students living away from home, extra-curricular activities, and anti-drug education;
Curriculum: focuses on the inclusion and integration of First Nation history, culture perspectives and language in provincial curricula, and supporting staff in meeting the holistic learning needs of First Nation students;Governance and Administration: focuses on a review of First Nation involvement in provincial school board governance and advisory bodies, exploration of organizational options for delivery of second level services, improvements in communication between provincially funded schools and First Nation schools, and the development of a sample tuition agreement;Human Resources: focuses on increasing participation of First Nation staff and participation of Elders in provincial schools, examination of mechanisms for joint professional development and exchange between the First Nation and provincial education systems, support for cross-cultural training modules and joint teacher training; and
Parental Participation: focuses on the development of strategies to improve communication and involvement of First Nation parents whose children attend schools away from their communities.With this agreement, Canada, Ontario and NAN will continue the joint development of an implementation plan based on the five priority areas. Monitoring, evaluating and reporting will be completed annually on the outcomes of this plan.
April 8, 2013 - Partnership agreement aims to increase urban Aboriginal participation in Canada's information technology workforce. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP - representing off-reserve Aboriginal Canadians) announced a formal partnership agreement with the Ottawa-based Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), to increase Aboriginal participation in Canada's information technology (IT) labour market. ICTC is a not-for-profit organization that conducts research, and develops and implements solutions to help Canada take advantage of the digital economy. "Increasing Aboriginal participation in the workforce is a top priority for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples," stated CAP National Chief, Betty Ann Lavallee. "By working in partnership with organizations such as the ICTC, Aboriginal Peoples living off-reserve have a much better chance to improve their skills which leads to high-skilled and long-term employment opportunities in the IT industry." The Congress will work in collaboration with the ICTC to develop targeted talent, training and education program strategies to strengthen skills. "I believe that there is a real opportunity for Aboriginal Peoples, particularly our Aboriginal youth living off-reserve, to fill the labour shortages faced in the information and communications technology sectors across Canada," said National Chief, Lavallee. "We at the Congress strongly believe that partnerships with industry and government, works. Our plan is to continue to create these types of strategic alliances with our respective affiliates and with private- and public-sector organizations to ensure that Aboriginal Peoples have the same level of skills as other Canadians when competing for jobs in the rapidly changing and exciting world of technology."
April 5, 2013 - First Nations win major victory, as Federal Court judge says Canada must respect Jordan's Principle (pay for children's care on-reserve, and don't let jurisdiction issues get in the way of fair funding). "It sets an important precedent to ensure all First Nations children across Canada are given equal access to essential government services," said Paul Champ, the lawyer for Maurina Beadle of Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia. She is 18-year-old Jeremy Meawasige's mother. He has hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, spinal curvature and autism, is self-abusive and can only communicate with his mother.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed the decision by the Federal Court to grant a judicial review in the case between the Pictou Landing Band Council and Maurina Beadle vs. the Government of Canada. The decision is the first to uphold the application of Jordan's Principle in providing health care services to First Nations children. "First Nation children are too often denied health and social services readily available to other children in Canada," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "This is a historic victory and means Jeremy does not have to be separated from his family and his community to receive the care he requires. More than five years have passed since members of Parliament voted unanimously to support Jordan’s Principle and this is a step forward in stopping discriminatory policies and practices that burden our First Nations families." AFN NS/NFLD Regional Chief Morley Googoo added, "It is unfortunate that challenges of this nature have to be made in court when the purpose is to ensure that First Nation children receive the health care services they need, at a level equal to that provided off-reserve, and that they are not denied when in need. We are fortunate that communities such as the Pictou Landing First Nation stand up for their community members and are paving the way forward for others in need." Maurina Beadle, cared for Jeremy at home until May 2010 when she suffered a double stroke. As a result, she became physically unable to carry out the extensive and physically demanding work involved in caring for her son, who requires 24-hour monitoring. Under a Nova Scotia Community Services policy, Jeremy and Maurina Beadle would be eligible for extra funding because of the family's exceptionally vulnerable financial position. However, because Jeremy and Maurina are Status First Nations people, they were deemed ineligible for the extra funding. Jeremy would have to be moved to an institution. Given these circumstances, Pictou Landing Band Council and Maurina Beadle launched a lawsuit against the Government of Canada for this inequality, employing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is the first case in Canada to cite Jordan's Principle in demanding equal health services. "No child should be denied health or medical services because of jurisdictional disputes between federal and provincial/territorial governments. The AFN will continue to call on all governments to work with First Nations to ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan's Principle. Every child deserves respect, care and equitable treatment and First Nations children must not be treated differently," added National Chief Atleo. Jordan's Principle is consistent with government obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and many federal, provincial and territorial child-focused statutes. (SOURCE: AFN)
April 4, 2013 - Wataynikaneyap - "line that brings light". 13 First Nations are partners in a NW Ontario transmission project, to replace diesel generation. (Over 40 years, the project could result in over 4 million tons of avoided greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions) Wataynikaneyap Power, a partnership between 13 First Nations and Goldcorp, is a First Nation led company "working to design, permit, construct, own and operate a transmission line to bring additional grid connection to Pickle Lake and beyond to connect remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. The company's vision is to provide reliable and affordable power for residents, businesses, and industry in the region and realize economic opportunities for First Nations." Margaret Kenequanash, representing the 13 First Nations partners in Wataynikaneyap Power, said the goal of the First Nations is to eventually own 100% of this important infrastructure. The company is proposing a single project with a two-phase development process. The first phase, a 300-km transmission line, will reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake, including servicing Goldcorp's Musselwhite mine. The second phase will extend transmission north of Pickle Lake to service 10 remote First Nation communities. (Five of the ten remote partner communities are at capacity with their diesel generators and connection restrictions are being imposed.) A news release further explained that in total, 21 of Ontario's 25 remote communities, as well as the Ring of Fire, could be connected to the grid. Ontario's 25 remote communities burn approximately 25 million litres of diesel fuel per year to generate electricity. The associated cost of this diesel generation has been estimated at approximately $68 million annually. In the long term, a new transmission line would cost significantly less than continued diesel generation. The project will create new economic development opportunities including potential for renewable energy development. Approximately 1,200 construction-related jobs and 60 long-term career opportunities will be created. "Our goal is to create as many local economic opportunities for our First Nations communities as possible," said Kenequanash. "We are currently in the process of developing training programs to prepare the local workforce not only for the construction period but for the long term as well." The 13 First Nations are located in the heart of the boreal forest comprised of Anishininiiwug and Anishinabek. Chiefs' resolutions gave the mandate to connect communities to the provincial grid and pursue a 100% First Nation owned Transmission Company.
April 3, 2013 - The Nunavut Official Languages Act came into force this week, maintaining "the rights and privileges of English and French, while the Inuit Language will be elevated to equal status". A government news release explained that this level of statutory protection for an aboriginal language is unprecedented in Canada. "I am proud that Inuit in Nunavut now have a clear statement of their inherent right to the use of the Inuit Language in full equality with English and French," said James Arreak, Minister of Languages. "The Act further recognizes the important cultural contributions of Anglophones and Francophones in our territory, and affirms our commitment to deliver programs and services to the public in all three official languages." To the extent set out in the Act, all three official languages will enjoy equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in territorial institutions, namely in the Legislative Assembly, the courts, and the departments of the Government of Nunavut and public agencies.
April 2, 2013 - Anishinabek Nation leader has major concerns regarding Ontario's new mining regulations (scheduled to take effect yesterday). "These new mining act regulations will impact our inherent, treaty and aboriginal rights directly," says Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. A news release explains that he has asked Minister Michael Gravelle to postpone the mandatory implementation of the new mining regulations. "We would like the chance for our leadership to meet with their citizens to discuss concerns with regulations that did not go through a proper consultation process," said the Grand Council Chief. The Anishinabek Nation is requesting the opportunity for a meeting with the Minister and the establishment of a bilateral table on mining as was committed to by Ontario on September 24, 2012. "We hope to use a bilateral table so that the Anishinabek Nation and the ministry can work together through a mutual process as consultation and accommodation should be." The Anishinabek Nation has concerns in the following four areas: Recognition of Anishinabek inherent and treaty rights; Requirement for Resource Revenue Sharing; Requirement for Environmental Stewardship; and Requirement for Providing Resources for Capacity at the local level to permit First Nations to meet the heavy demands that the new regulations require. The Anishinabek Nation news release reminds the provincial government that the Supreme Court of Canada requires Ontario to satisfy duty to consult and accommodate concerns when Section 35 rights of Canada's Constitution may be impacted. According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is signatory: Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.
Senator Patrick Brazeau ( his Twitter identity is @TheBrazman )tweeted yesterday that he was resigning. He faces serious sexual assault charges, and so at first glance many of us thought he was announcing that he was about to do the honourable thing and in fact, was going to relinquish his Senate seat - resign. Forget we did, that it was April 1st, and Brazeau was just foolin. Today he tweeted this: "Apologies for my tasteless joke. It was meant as just that....a joke but I do realize is was tasteless."
April 1, 2013 - Environmental restoration, and Akwesasne culture - language preservation, will benefit from $20 million damages-to-natural-resource settlements. The U.S. government, the State of New York and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe announced a $19.4 million settlement with Alcoa Inc. and Reynolds Metals Company for injuries to natural resources, recreational fishing, and Mohawk culture resulting from the release of hazardous substances into the St. Lawrence River environment since at least the late 1950s. Most of this settlement, $18.5 million, will be combined with $1.8 million in restoration funds from a 2011 General Motors (GM) bankruptcy settlement, to be used for restoration of the St. Lawrence River area. In all, a total of $20.3 million is slated to go to restoration efforts. The natural resource trustees-the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)-solicited restoration project ideas and developed a restoration plan to address injured natural and cultural resources and address lost human uses of natural resources, such as recreational fishing. For decades, Alcoa Inc. (Alcoa West), Reynolds Metals Company (now Alcoa East) and the former GM Central Foundry plant, located in Massena, NY, and adjacent to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe lands, released hazardous substances into the St. Lawrence River environment. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aluminum, fluoride and cyanide adversely impacted natural resources within the surrounding environment and contaminated the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, degrading natural resources used for traditional cultural practices.
The $20.3 million in settlement funds include the following components: Approximately $8.4 million from the Alcoa/Reynolds settlement will go to the tribe to support traditional Mohawk cultural practices, including an apprenticeship program to promote Mohawk language and traditional teachings. A portion of those funds will also support cultural institutions, including youth outdoor education programs and horticultural programs for medicine, healing and nutrition. More than $10 million from the GM and Alcoa/Reynolds settlements will be spent on a variety of ecological restoration projects, including restoration and/or enhancement of wetlands, streambanks, native grasslands, bird nesting and roosting habitat, fisheries and fish habitat and acquisition of unique habitat under threat of development. These projects may also benefit cultural practices that depend on these restored natural resources. Nearly $2 million will be spent by Alcoa/Reynolds to develop and upgrade two boat launches on the Raquette River and construct three new launches on the Grasse River to improve fishing and boating access to rivers in the Massena area. Additionally, the four trustees will be reimbursed for outstanding past costs to assess impacts and damages. (SOURCE: St. Regis Tribe)
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