Canada and Indigenous peoples 2017 – 2018

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16 Indigenous movers and shakers to watch in 2016

Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy
We have reached a pivotal moment in our shared history. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. The celebrations in 2017 provide a unique opportunity for reflection and an opportunity to build new relationships that contribute to our collective well-being.
Through Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy, Reconciliation Canada will examine and document perceptions, actions and aspirations of Canadians in relation to reconciliation. This narrative will recognize our common history, highlight current achievements and create a vision for the next 150 years.
Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy is a Canada 150 Signature Project.
This project includes several initiatives planned across Canada through 2016 and 2017 to engage diverse individuals, groups and organizations in the reconciliation process.

11 October
Vast region of Northwest Territories declared an Indigenous Protected Area
(Globe & Mail) A vast region of the Northwest Territories that local Indigenous people call their “breadbasket” because of the abundance of wildlife has been declared permanently off limits to resource development, eight years after the federal government tried to open it to mining.
Supreme Court rules Ottawa has no duty to consult with Indigenous people before drafting laws
(CBC) Canada’s lawmakers do not have a duty to consult with Indigenous people before introducing legislation that might affect constitutionally protected Indigenous and treaty rights, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The decision will be welcomed by the federal government, which has argued such an obligation would be far too onerous and slow down the legislative process considerably.
In its 7-2 decision, the top court has ruled against the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta, which had argued that two omnibus budget bills introduced by the former Conservative federal government in 2012 affected its constitutionally protected treaty rights because they amended regulatory protections for waterways and the environment.
Those amendments, the First Nation argued, reduced government oversight of lands and waters and thus threatened its established right to hunt, trap and fish on their traditional territory. These rights were guaranteed by the Crown when it signed Treaty 8 in 1899, and were enshrined as constitutional rights after the passage of the Constitution Act of 1982.
A majority of the justices said Indigenous people can pursue other remedies — such as court action — if legislation affects their rights.
And yet while the court said there is no duty to consult during the legislative process, in a 5-4 decision the court found there is still an obligation on the government to act honourably and maintain the “honour of the Crown” when drafting legislation that could affect Indigenous people.

3 October
Frank Iacobucci hailed as right pick to rescue ‘failed’ Trans Mountain process
New Indigenous consultations likely to take months
The federal Liberal government ended up choosing a seasoned judge to lead renewed Indigenous consultations efforts on the Trans Mountain expansion project after Ottawa received a stunning rebuke from the Federal Court of Appeal last month that quashed cabinet approvals.
Frank Iacobucci, an 81-year-old former Supreme Court of Canada justice, has a daunting task before him: jump-starting a reboot of the so-called Phase 3 consultation process with Indigenous peoples so the government can meet its constitutional duty to consult with them before making another final decision on whether to proceed with construction.
Iacobucci will do this without a set deadline from Ottawa — a signal, experts told CBC News, that the government expects this new process will take months, not weeks. That’s a troubling sign for oilpatch boosters who increasingly are restless about constrained pipeline capacity, and for the opposition Conservatives who are pushing for a fast resolution to the legal quagmire.

8 September
First Nations group proposes oil pipeline that protects indigenous rights
Aboriginal peoples have long protested such projects, but one group’s plan would give First Nations control and profits
(The Guardian) Behind the scenes, however, one group has been quietly refining a precedent-setting proposal that they say offers a means of protecting indigenous rights while unlocking the country’s vast oil and gas reserves: a First Nations-led pipeline.“We did this because First Nations wanted to be able to demonstrate how to do this right,” said Calvin Helin, the chairman and president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings and a member of the Lax Kw’alaams band on Canada’s west coast.
Six years in the making, plans for the Eagle Spirit pipeline envision transporting up to 2m barrels a day of medium to heavy crude oil from Alberta’s landlocked oil sands to tide water on the west coast. The proposal still faces considerable hurdles, leading some to describe the project as far-fetched. But Helin describes it as an alternative way forward at a time when the politics around pipelines has become increasingly sensitive.

5 January
A memo to Canada: Indigenous people are not your incompetent children
The election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government was supposed to signal a new ‘nation-to-nation relationship.’ But until the country recognizes the right to self-determination and acknowledges the sovereignty of Indigenous nations, argues Alicia Elliott, the future will be the same as the past
(Globe & Mail) Canada has never accepted Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. In fact, they – the individuals who, throughout history, have represented and made decisions on behalf of Canada – have actively suppressed it. By intentionally cutting essential funding at critical moments, wielding court injunctions to stop our land defenders and legislating the minutiae of our lives through the Indian Act, to name just a few examples, the Canadian government continually prevents us from creating meaningful change in our communities. It stops us from determining our own present and forging our own future. And like every decision Canada makes about us, without us, we’re supposed to smile and accept these arrangements, or laugh defensively, or, better yet, do nothing – regardless of how it affects our families and our lives.
In August, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surprised almost everyone by announcing that the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was not only being dismantled, but was to be replaced with two new departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Indigenous Services. As the days passed, it became clear that among those surprised by the news were national Indigenous organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations and the National Women’s Association of Canada, elected band councils (who need INAC to approve everything they do before they can actually do it), traditional councils (who have yet to be acknowledged by Canada), even members of Health Canada and other departments whose funding and organizational makeup will be directly affected.
Many of the Liberal government’s supposedly momentous announcements seem to be little more than repackaged versions of old policies.  [emphasis added] On Dec. 6, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott announced that First Nations with solid financial track records are now eligible for guaranteed 10-year funding.  This announcement essentially admits the status quo for First Nations communities under the Indian Act has been hundreds of years of insecure and unstable funding. How can a community plan for the future when it never knows if it’s getting the meagre resources Canada has promised? Is it any surprise, then, that one-quarter of First Nations have become so indebted they’ve been put under third-party management? Or that many communities cannot get off third-party management once they’re there? After all, these organizations – which Canada forces First Nations to hire without offering any additional funding to pay for their services – do not have to report to Canada on their progress. This gives them no incentive to get communities out of debt and makes them unaccountable to the very communities Canada forces to pay their salaries. By ignoring these realities, Ms. Philpott implies that only good, financially responsible communities deserve even the possibility of stable and guaranteed funding, furthering the “corrupt Indian chief” stereotype Stephen Harper trotted out before her. This is not real change. This is stasis, rebranded as revolution.


31 December
Indigenous newsmakers of 2017: people whose stories we followed this year
From the ongoing fight of Indigenous children’s advocate Cindy Blackstock, to the political challenges and triumphs of Wab Kinew, to the tragic death of Barbara Kentner, these names made headlines in 2017.
NB The Honourable Mentions:
Eden Robinson released her critically acclaimed book Son of a Trickster in 2017. The author was awarded the $50,000 2017 Writers’ Trust of Canada Fellowship and was short listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The book took Robinson eight years to write.
Autumn Peltier ​The Anishinaabe teen has been receiving international recognition for her advocacy relating to clean waters. She was the only teen in Canada who was nominated for the 2017 International Childrens Peace Prize. She has also been invited to the United Nations General Assembly next year to speak about protecting water.
The Onaman Collective comprised of Christi Belcourt, Isaac Murdoch and Erin Konsmo. Together, the trio have created resistance campaigns to Canada’s 150th, used art and spirituality to create environmental awareness, and have also used their art to help fund an Anishinaabe language camp in Ontario.

28-29 December
Liberal government signals ‘dramatic change’ in funding relationship with First Nations
Minister says some First Nations will qualify for 10-year funding grants with minimal government oversight
(CBC) The new transfer-style agreements being proposed by [Indigenous Services] Minister Jane Phillpott, alongside the Assembly of First Nations, could mean some First Nations could get 10-year funding from the government for everything from housing to education to clean-water initiatives.
Gone would be some of the rigorous reporting requirements often attached to that cash.
While the move to more longer-term funding is being applauded by First Nations in Saskatchewan, the proposed change does have its critics.
“We believe they are starting at the wrong spot. All good governance is based on accountability and transparency and that’s true on First Nations,” said Todd MacKay, Prairie director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation strongly supported the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
MacKay says getting rid of red tape is never a bad thing, but the fact the government wants to loosen reporting requirements is not sitting well.
But Philpott says the move is not about making First Nations more accountable to government bureaucrats; rather, it’s aimed at making sure First Nations bands are accountable to their members.
More consultation needed on First Nations funding proposal, FSIN chief says
New federal plan could change the way First Nations fund health care, education and housing
(CBC) … the federal government says 100 First Nations across the country that are in good financial standing could qualify for 10-year grants to fund everything from housing programs to clean-water initiatives.
It’s a move that was developed in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) chiefs.

24-25 November
Who’s sorry now? A tale of 2 Trudeaus and their approach to historical wrongs
By Anthony Germain
Not like father, like son: Why Pierre Trudeau would not have approved of government apology
(CBC) Trudeau told Mulroney, “I do not think the purpose of a government is to right the past. It cannot rewrite history. It is our purpose to be just in our time.”
But how can we be “just in our time” without recognizing that past events live in the present? The disruption of lives by a system whose goal was summarized as designed “to kill the Indian in the child” was — and is — the cause of great harm.
For those who were sexually abused, the damage is even more extreme.
Still, the elder Trudeau had a point: an apology in 2017 does not undo the psychological and physical damage of assimilation disguised as education.
Recognizing injustice
The legal settlement of $50 million approved by Justice Robert Stack in September carries far more assistance for victims as a measurable remedy than does yet another prime minister’s cathartic, “We’re sorry, we’re really sorry…”
And yet, apologies — when properly executed as was the case Friday — have merit that go beyond the symbolic recognition of wrongdoing.
Tearful Justin Trudeau apologizes to N.L. residential school survivors
‘The treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools is a dark and shameful chapter in our country’
‘A painful chapter of Canada’s history’: Read the PM’s apology for N.L. residential schools
Trudeau: ‘Today, I humbly stand before you to offer a long overdue apology’

4 October
We Didn’t Choose to Be Called Indigenous
Even today’s most well-meaning terms erase our identities
(The Walrus) The continual refusal of Canada to acknowledge our names for ourselves, insisting instead on “Indian,” or later “Aboriginal,” or now “Indigenous,” has ideological roots in the same idea. We name you. We grant you your identity—or not. You are ours to name as we choose. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau originally announced the split of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada into two new ministries this summer, he admitted the department had been created when Canada’s approach to Indigenous peoples was “paternalistic, colonial.” Canada’s control of us—down to the very names we bear—reflects this paternalism and colonialism in action. The current national confusion around what constitutes Indigenous identity—which we’ve seen play out very publicly at times in a number of different ways, from the debate about cultural appropriation to the scrambling at many organizations to hire Indigenous spokespeople in a kind of retroactive diversity—is the direct result of this painful history. It’s obvious, then, that before we really have a conversation about what post–Indian Act Canada would look like, we need to have a serious conversation about Native identity itself and the ways that Canada’s policing of that identity has historically hurt our communities—and continues to do so today.

27 July
(Globe & Mail) The Supreme Court of Canada says the rights of Indigenous people must be respected when governments and regulators consider resource projectsbut that doesn’t mean they have a “veto.” The country’s highest court released a pair of rulings yesterday that examined Indigenous rights when it comes to resource projects. In one, the court threw out an oil consortium’s permit for seismic testing because the National Energy Board didn’t properly consider the impact on the treat rights of residents in Clyde River, Nunavut. In another, the court denied a challenge filed by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation that sought to overturn the approval of Enbridge’s reversal of its Line 9 pipeline through Ontario and Quebec.

26 July
Canada’s Supreme Court halts seismic testing near Inuit hamlet
(BBC) A tiny Inuit hamlet in Canada’s northern territory of Nunavut has won a landmark indigenous consultation case in Canada’s top court.
The Supreme Court ruled that oil and gas exploration near the community of Clyde River cannot go ahead.
The unanimous decision stated Canada failed in its duty to consult the tiny Inuit hamlet about the impact of seismic testing near their community.
The court heard the case in November.
Wednesday’s decision helps clarify the federal government’s duty to consult with indigenous groups on development projects.

11 July
MMIW inquiry commissioner Marilyn Poitras resigns
A University of Saskatchewan law professor who was serving as one of the commissioners for Canada’s inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women has stepped down.
Marilyn Poitras resigned on Monday in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing the inquiry’s “current structure.”
She adds her name to a growing list of people connected to the troubled inquiry who have left their jobs since it began its work eight months ago.

9 July
Justin Trudeau is failing as minister of youth: Mochama
Young people, specifically and especially Indigenous young people, are left with a minister who, instead of advocating for them, undermines their futures.
For far too long, the federal government has continued to defend against the Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling that it must meet the requirements of Jordan’s Principle which requires the government to provide equitable funding and access for Indigenous children’s health and well-being. The Tribunal has now issued three non-compliance rulings against the government. The most recent one was this May.
Despite this, the Trudeau government has gone back to court. Since the January 2016 ruling, they have spent $707,000 on court fees.

4 July
Racism, sexism — and a press conference gone horribly wrong
By Martin Patriquin
(iPolitics) … An activist from Attawapiskat First Nation Reserve in northern Ontario, Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail had booked the room to speak about her group’s frustration over the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry.
Standing at a podium, with journalists hanging on her every word, Wabano-Iahtail had a golden opportunity to state what she and her group clearly believe — that the Trudeau government isn’t a true ally of Indigenous people. The MMIW inquiry is just one example. The Liberal government is pushing ahead with pipeline development, against the opposition of dozens of First Nations bands. This government still comparatively underfunds First Nations social and health services. And on this country’s 150th birthday, there are still over 150 reserves on Canadian land that don’t have clean drinking water.
Wabano-Iahtail could have highlighted it all to a national audience. Her behaviour did absolutely nothing for her cause. In fact, by turning a press conference into a sideshow, she has cheapened it.

1 July
‘A horrible history’: Four Indigenous views on Canada 150
From Labrador to B.C., four people explain to Dakshana Bascaramurty why they struggle with this weekend’s sesquicentennial celebration – and even the label ‘Canadian’

30 June
Canada’s Hidden History, My Mother and Me
By Gabrielle Scrimshaw, a joint degree candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School, and a co-founder of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada.
The more I educate myself about my Dene heritage, the more I find strength in our community’s resiliency. There is strength in knowing where you come from and understanding the history that led you to where you are.
Learning about our past won’t change it, but mandating indigenous history in our school systems is a good start. Without an honest dialogue and recognition of this history, we will hide behind a comfortable ignorance. My hope is that on July 1, Canadians who raise their flag high in celebration will also take a minute to reflect on the loss many have faced along the way.
John Robson: Canadians feel for aboriginals, but our patience for too many insults has limits
Aboriginal activists should remember that the public to whom their appeals for reconciliation are addressed is not a faceless line of abusive residential school staff
The Liberals were remarkably conceited to suppose their sunny ways and blithe ignorance of reality would, among other things, enable them to solve all problems with the descendants of Canada’s pre-European inhabitants. But the fault is not entirely theirs.
As the National Post noted, Aboriginal Day, a classic from the ministry of symbolism, went sour fast for the Liberals. Including rededication of the old U.S. embassy across from Parliament Hill as some sort of aboriginal space being met with sneers: “Indigenous architects called the building a ‘hand-me-down’ and not ‘culturally appropriate space’” and the chair of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Indigenous Task Force “said Ottawa should pay for the construction of a building that Indigenous architects design.”
You’re welcome. Besides, what would be “culturally appropriate”?
Most Canadians are heartbroken at the difficulties that afflict so many aboriginals today and bitterly regret the history that brought this misery. But most of us had nothing to do with it, have sad stories of our own ancestors, and will tire of every open hand being met with open insult like a “reoccupation” of Parliament Hill to spoil the Canada Day mood, of every concession bringing new demands.

23 June
Trudeau Liberals take Human Rights Tribunal to court over First Nation children ruling
(APTN) Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and Health Minister Jane Philpott issued a joint statement Friday saying the tribunal’s May 26 ruling contained two issues that they, as medical doctors, could not allow to stand and needed clarification from the Federal Court.
The ministers took issue with the tribunal’s order that all Jordan’s Principle cases be processed within 48 hours and that the federal departments do away with case conferencing, which it saw as an unnecessary and additional administrative layer.
Under Jordan’s Principle, the health care needs of First Nations children are placed ahead of jurisdictional disputes between the federal and provincial governments. It also applies to other public services, including education, early childhood learning and child welfare.

21 June
Trudeau renames Langevin Block
Sir Hector-Louis Langevin is someone associated with the residential school
The federal government is renaming the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous Peoples.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says keeping the name of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin – someone associated with the residential school system – on the building that houses Prime Minister’s Office clashes with the government’s vision.
Instead, the building will be called the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.
Trudeau also announced today that a new space for Indigenous Peoples will be established nearby at 100 Wellington Street, the site of the former U.S. Embassy.
Trudeau says the prominent location, directly facing Parliament Hill, symbolizes a turning point in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples through a concrete marker in the heart of the nation’s capital.
The federal government also intends to rename National Aboriginal Day – being celebrated today – as National Indigenous Peoples Day.
John Geddes: The trouble with Trudeau’s Indigenous centre plan
Architecture professor David Fortin explains why ‘nothing about the building would reflect Indigenous people’

9 June
The people left behind by Trudeau’s promised nation-to-nation relationship
The feds’ talk around Bill S-3 reveals Indigenous women and children are being ignored in discussions on Indian status
By Pamela Palmater and Sharon McIvor
(Maclean’s) Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), was introduced in the Senate in 2016 in response to the Descheneaux case—a decision from Quebec Superior Court which held that the Indian Act’s registration provisions around who is an Indian still discriminate against the descendants of Indigenous women. Bill S-3 represents another piecemeal effort by the federal government to remove a sliver of the sex discrimination in the status registration provisions. This is despite the fact that Justice Masse of the Quebec Superior Court encouraged, even pleaded, with the federal government to once and for all address the longstanding gender discrimination in the Indian Act’s registration provisions, not just the piece that the Deschenaux case identified.
5 June

Indigenous children play in a water- filled ditch in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. In many ways, Attawapiskat – population 2,100 – has all the trappings of any small town, including older folk lamenting the changing of the times. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Scott Gilmore: The Canada most people don’t see
(Maclean’s) It has an unemployment rate worse than Sudan. The infant mortality rate is worse than Russia. And the injustice is appalling
In the other Canada there are 89 communities without safe drinking water. A child is more likely to be sexually assaulted than to graduate high school. The murder rate is worse than Somalia’s and the incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Imagine if that was your Canada. Imagine your rage if your children lived there.

4 June
Celine Cooper: The future role of indigenous languages
(Montreal Gazette) On Thursday of last week, Montreal MP Marc Miller stood before the House of Commons and delivered a speech in the Mohawk language of Kanyen’kéha.
“I stand here to honour the Mohawk language and I pay my respects to their people. Hopefully it will help us to become better friends. I also hope that we will hear the Mohawk language a lot more often here and that more Canadians will be proud to use it to speak to one another,” Miller said according to a translation of his remarks.
The Island of Montreal is a traditionally Mohawk territory. The MP for Ville-Marie – Le Sud-Ouest – Île-des-Soeurs has been studying Kanyen’kéha since January.
Amid the hoopla of Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th celebrations, the speech was an understated but meaningful gesture toward acknowledging the historical and contemporary place of indigenous languages in this country.
At a speech to the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly back in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be proposing a Canadian Indigenous Languages Act. While  they announced an allocation of around $90 million over the next three years to support communities seeking to revitalize indigenous languages in the 2017 budget, no actual legislation has been introduced as of yet.
Of course, there’s no denying that such legislation would be a logistical challenge. In Canada, there are more than 60 aboriginal languages, grouped into 12 distinct language families. About 20 per cent of those in Canada who report having an aboriginal mother tongue live in Quebec. … The reality is that different First Nations groups have been thinking about this for decades. One example can be found in a 2005 report titled Towards a New Beginning delivered to the minister of Canadian Heritage by the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. The authors concluded that while recognition of indigenous languages would be national, implementation could be regional.

30 May
Andrew Scheer hasn’t engaged enough with First Nations leaders in Sask., chiefs say
First Nations leaders say new Conservative head needs to build better relationships
On Scheer’s website, the only policy on First Nations issues is a call to reinstate a Conservative bill requiring First Nations bands to publish their financial information online.

29 May
Trudeau says Pope working on request for residential schools apology
(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Pope Francis has offered to work with him and Canada’s Catholic bishops on a “path forward” to issuing a historic papal apology for the church’s role in the dark legacy of residential schools.
Mr. Trudeau said the pontiff signalled during a 42-minute private audience that a formal apology would be forthcoming to Indigenous survivors for the sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered at church-run schools.

A tent at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse serves as the venue of the public hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls between May 29 and June 1 (Meagan Campbell).

The MMIW inquiry comes out in the open—literally
By design and benign fortune, organizers in Whitehorse have created an ‘organic and authentic’ space for inquiry participants
(Maclean’s) Blankets will enwrap the commissioners. The chief will wear a star-embroidered quilt; other commissioners will have coverings from Costco, and the curtains will hang with more bedding. The blankets aren’t just for emotional comfort but also for physical warmth, as hearings—of families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls—won’t happen in a courtroom but in a tent. As the most public part of the inquiry, proceedings won’t just be open-door; rather, they’ll be outdoor.
“It’s this authentic, organic space,” says Jorgina Zeegers, whose mother died of suspected murder in Saskatoon, and who helped make blankets. Zeegers is the special advisor to Marilyn Poitras, one of five commissioners who will hear testimony between May 30 and June 1 in Whitehorse. Comfort is the top priority. Family members won’t take the stand, but rather take a seat in a truth-telling circle, eye-level to the commissioners and their legal counsel. No speaker will need to “take the floor,” because there is no floor—only planks of wood.

Unequal treatment: First Nations woman denied medical coverage readily available to non-Aboriginals
Doctor says Indigenous children in Alberta being singled out, putting them at ‘an extreme disadvantage’
White Eagle’s prosthodontist says he’s never encountered a problem getting compensated for dental implants for his non-Aboriginal patients.
“All the other children are getting covered by Alberta Health,” said Lim. “It doesn’t matter whether these other kids, whatever race or religion they are, as long as they’re a child, they get covered.”
The fees for First Nations Albertans are supposed to be split equally between the federal and provincial governments, but the federal program that covers the costs has denied payment to Lim.

19 May
MMIWG chief commissioner still has ‘hope’ despite rocky start
Inquiry has been rocked by poor communications, revolving door of staff, cancelled meetings
The chief commissioner of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls says the criticism the inquiry has received over its progress so far is not the result of a leadership or staffing deficiency but rather a failure to communicate the “tremendous work” it has already accomplished.
Chief commissioner and former B.C. judge Marion Buller made the comments Friday after prominent Indigenous leaders and grassroots activists penned a strongly worded letter this week calling on Buller to formally request an extension to the inquiry’s mandate.

10 May
Bear Witness Day brings awareness to Jordan’s Principle
(CBC) Spirit Bear is not a household name, but he has become the symbol of Jordan’s Principle, a child’s-first principle meant to ensure that First Nation children receive the health care they need without delays.
He is a small teddy bear who can often be seen posing alongside children’s advocate Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
Spirit Bear will be no doubt posing for a few more photographs on Wednesday as part of Bear Witness Day, a social media campaign created by the society.
It’s asking Canadians to snap photographs of their childhood teddy bears and post them to social media with the hashtags #JordansPrinciple and #Waiting4UCanada. It’s also encouraging people to bring their teddy bears to work or school to spread awareness of Jordan’s Principle.

MMIW inquiry won’t hear from most families until the fall
After next week’s hearings in Whitehorse, inquiry will spend the summer listening to expert testimony
(CBC) Bernée Bolton, director of communications for the MMIW inquiry, said in a statement that the commissioners are waiting until the fall to hear from other families because many people told the inquiry they would be on the land hunting or travelling in the summer and it would not be a good time to hold hearings.

The inquiry has also decided to scrap further regional information meetings that it was conducting ahead of its public inquiry, in favour of more informal community ones.

24 April
Families of missing, murdered Indigenous women say inquiry hearings must go ahead
May start date for inquiry hearings still a go despite delays to advisory hearings, inquiry officials say

21 April
Three years later, is Canada keeping its Truth and Reconciliation Commission promises?
By Tracy Bear, director of the Indigenous Women’s Resilience Project in the Faculty of Native Studies and Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta, and Chris Andersen, interim dean of the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.
(Globe & Mail) The year 2017 is especially symbolic for Canada. In addition to marking the 150th year of its confederation, it also is the third anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s completion. Two years ago, the TRC released its final report and 94 calls to action to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.” Amid celebrations, a vigorous debate has erupted over the gap between the Canadian federal government’s promises to Indigenous peoples and what might charitably be termed the muted delivery on those promises.
At possibly no other time in our history has so much discussion taken place, country wide, about issues relating to reconciliation and the calls for a renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. In the midst of these ostensibly celebratory conversations, however, some examples have emerged that demonstrate just how far we have to go. Nationally, Senator Lynn Beyak recently commented on what she regarded as the TRC’s excessively negative depiction of Canada’s Indian residential schools. Her remarks are as profoundly tone deaf as they are historically inaccurate and they led to her removal from the Senate committee on aboriginal peoples. Here in Alberta, the local council in Strathcona County (directly east of Edmonton) recently voted against beginning its meetings with an acknowledgment of their presence on Treaty 6 territory.

28 March
Feds announce 18 First Nations wastewater, drinking water upgrades
$34.7 million committed as part of Liberal’s 2016 budget promises
(CBC) The federal government says 18 northern Ontario First Nations are getting upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said $34.7 million in new projects are underway.
The goal is ending long-term drinking water advisories, and the projects include new wells, repairs to existing systems, training, as well as designing and building new water treatment plants.

According to a government website, there are currently 81 drinking water advisories spread across Ontario, with the majority affecting First Nations communities.

27 March
The Federal Budget Forgets Indigenous Youth Suicide Prevention
By Jeffrey Ansloos, Registered Psychologist and Assistant Professor at the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria
(HuffPost) In the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party promised a new relationship with indigenous young people. Last week Finance Minister Bill Morneau indicated that Budget 2017 would “provide greater access to mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention services, while working with indigenous communities to combat substance abuse.”
While it sounds substantive to many Canadians, in reality the budget falls short, offering no designated indigenous suicide prevention funding or programming investments. While the 2015 election platform, the 2016 budget and 2017 budget did promise investments in mental health services for all Canadians, all failed to grapple with the structural barriers and systemic discrimination that are common to indigenous children and youth’s access to public services.
Budget 2017 is all about strengthening the middle class, strengthening their access to services, but what gets lost in the numbers and system is that indigenous youth have the least access to these services and do receive equitable funding as compared to any other young Canadian. When over 50 per cent of First Nations children in Canada live in poverty, is the budget of the middle class for them?

12 January
Learning the Land program combines Indigenous teachings with scientific knowledge
Program is a partnership between Nature Conservancy of Canada and Treaty 4 Education Alliance
Tracking moose collars isn’t something most kids get to do while studying science at school, but that’s exactly how students at 11 schools in southern Saskatchewan are learning about the subject.
It’s part of Learning the Land, a program created by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Treaty 4 Education Alliance. It combines Indigenous culture and teachings with scientific knowledge about conservation.
“It’s a better way to engage students,” said Scott Fulton, the program’s co-ordinator.
“They’ve got natural inclinations, I think, for environmental outdoor education, learning that takes them outside the classroom.”

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