Canada and Indigenous Peoples

Written by  //  December 19, 2014  //  Canada, Government & Governance  //  1 Comment

19 December
The accidental journalist: Wab Kinew emerges as contender to host Q
(Globe & Mail) He has already replaced Ghomeshi as host of Canada Reads, on which Kinew made an eloquent winning pitch last year for Joseph Boyden’s novel The Orenda. Even people who weren’t sold on the book were impressed by Kinew’s talent for advocacy, his positive spirit, and his likeability.
Those are the qualities of a politician, less so of a journalist and sometime rapper. Kinew has spent much of his working life in broadcasting, as a CBC Winnipeg host and as a correspondent for Al Jazeera America, but his outlook and background are those of someone for whom a political career seems inevitable. Earlier this year, Kinew mused publicly about running for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations. At 32, he was 10 years younger than Shawn Atleo when he took the job.
3 December
Bernard Valcourt Insulted Us Over Environmental Concerns: Yukon Chiefs
Assessments in Yukon, developed as part of treaty negotiations, are conducted by an independent board with representatives from the federal government, the territory and the Council of Yukon First Nations.
If a federal bill is passed, that board would be replaced with one led by a chairman appointed by Ottawa. It would be subject to binding political direction, which could come from either the federal or territorial government.
The legislation would also limit the amount of time groups would have to request more information from a proponent, although it wouldn’t limit the time companies would have to answer. It also proposes removing the requirement for a new assessment when companies change their project.
Lawyer Says Need For First Nations Financial Transparency Act Is ‘Complete Lie’
The federal government’s new financial transparency law for First Nations is a redundant piece of legislation based on a “complete lie,” according to a lawyer specializing in aboriginal law.
“Every First Nation has to file an audited financial statement with Indian Affairs every year to account for federal funds and it’s 100 per cent accessible by band members either through the band or Indian Affairs,” said Ryerson University associate professor Pam Palmater on Power & Politics on Tuesday.
2 December
Canadian prisons see huge spike in aboriginal women population, government study finds
(Canadian Press) The number of aboriginal women who were locked behind bars in federal institutions grew a staggering 97 per cent between 2002 and 2012, the study by the federal Justice Department concluded.
Two out of every three aboriginal women were put into federal custody for violent crimes, such as assault, uttering threats, robbery, sexual assault, criminal harassment, forcible confinement and murder.
Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, said a number of factors — including mandatory minimum sentences and more limited conditional release options — add up to a higher incarceration rate for society’s most marginalized people.
“The trajectory we’re on doesn’t create a lot of hope for very positive interventions,” Pate said in an interview. “So one of the things we would very much like to see, in addition to accountability within the system and judicial oversight, (is) also a concerted effort to develop services in the community so individuals are prevented from being criminalized in the first place, if at all possible.
25 November
First Nations Flouting Financial Transparency Act Face Consequences
First Nations that flout the Conservative government’s new financial-transparency law have been told they could face consequences ranging from a public shaming to possible court action.
Aboriginal Affairs wrote to a number of First Nations last month to advise them they have until Wednesday to publish their financial information online. If they don’t, they will find themselves on a list of delinquents that the department plans to publish on its website on Thursday.
Aboriginal Affairs is also warning it could come down a lot harder on those First Nations that don’t comply with the new law.
One of those actions could be to order third-party managers to withhold band councillors’ pay.
23 August
Trudeau: Harper ‘On The Wrong Side Of History’ In Opposition To Aboriginal Inquiry
(Canadian press) “The prime minister has shown himself not to be simply … just out of touch with Canadians on this issue, but also on the wrong side of history.”
Harper said earlier this week that Fontaine’s death was a crime and should not be viewed as a “sociological phenomenon.”
“There’s no question that there’s a criminal issue here, a horrible crime was committed,” said Trudeau, who was campaigning with the provincial Liberals for the New Brunswick election.
“But it’s part of a pattern that has gone on for years and Canada absolutely needs to get to the bottom of (it) with a national inquiry.” Stephen Harper said WHAT about crime and aboriginal women?
(Press Progress) Don’t think of Canada’s growing list of murdered and missing indigenous women as any sort of “sociological phenomenon,” Stephen Harper says.
In Harper’s black and white world, the murder of Tina Fontaine in Winnipeg, an aboriginal teenager who had run away from her foster home, is simply a crime for law enforcement to solve.
The problem? Even the RCMP situates the staggering number of vulnerable aboriginal women who are victims of violence (exceeding 1,000 since 1980) in a larger context of inequality and injustice.
In raw numbers, that translates into a rate of homicide per 100,000 of 4.45 for aboriginal women compared to 0.90 for non-aboriginal women. And aboriginal women account for 4.3% of the overall Canadian female population, but account for 11.3% of the cases of missing women and represent 16% of female homicides.  Harper: Missing Aboriginal Women Cases Should Be Solved Through Police, Not National Inquiries
14 July
Northern Gateway pipeline: First Nations outline constitutional challenges
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says at least 9 legal challenges have been launched
(CBC) The First Nations leaders said they will argue the proposed pipeline and its recent approval by the federal government is a constitutional violation of their aboriginal land rights in their respective territories, particularly in light of the Supreme Court of Canada victory last month by the Tsilhqot’in First Nation.
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he was aware of at least nine separate legal actions being launched by various First Nations, as part of a co-ordinated effort to stop the project.
Phillip ruled out any sort of deal with Enbridge that could see the project go ahead for a share of the revenue or a cash payment.
1 July
Pipelines and First Nations
Can Canada’s indigenous communities stop Prime Minister Stephen Harper from turning the country into a petrostate?
(Foreign Policy) … All along the Gateway route, Enbridge was making similar cultural flubs. These gaffes, along with a negotiating style Robinson described as heavy on “talking points” and light on listening, had by 2011 caused 130 First Nations across British Columbia and Alberta to oppose the project, many of them not even directly impacted by it. “If Enbridge has poked the hornet’s nest of aboriginal unrest,” Robinson wrote, “then the federal Conservatives, Stephen Harper’s government, has spent the last few years whacking it like a pinata.”
27 June
Andrew Coyne: Supreme Court ruling a legal and economic earthquake
The Supreme Court’s Tsilhqot’in decision, as everyone instantly recognized, is a legal earthquake. Though in some ways a summation of the court’s previous rulings, it is the first to confer aboriginal title to a specific piece of land, and the first to define it in concrete terms.
In so doing, it radically extends previous lower court conceptions of title, to include not only the actual settlements historically occupied by aboriginal groups, but all lands over which they can show they “exercised effective control” in a continuous and exclusive fashion, as for example traditional hunting and fishing grounds. Where aboriginal title has been established, governments will normally be obliged to obtain the consent of the titleholders to proceed with development; or where consent is not granted, may proceed only subject to the usual conditions by which rights may be overridden: They must have a pressing and substantial purpose, the infringement of title must be the minimum necessary to achieve it, and so on. The mere assertion of title is enough to impose a duty of consultation pending resolution of the claim, in proportion to its legitimacy.
31 May
Harper’s actions unconscionable and immoral: Former PM
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin says the government’s decision to put the First Nations education bill on hold is “morally wrong” and “unconscionable.”
(Global) In an interview airing Sunday on The West Block with Tom Clark, Martin said the decision to shelve Bill C-33 and the money that goes with it, shows the government is playing a “very tough game…really an unfair game with the First Nations.”
The government has been flip-flopping on its First Nations policies, he added.
Martin said first the government admitted there was a gap in funding for First Nations education compared with funding for non-Aboriginal students, but then recanted. He says the government then again acknowledged the gap. (CBC Radio, The House) Paul Martin ‘angry’ with Ottawa’s handling of First Nations file
2 May
Shawn Atleo resigns as Assembly of First Nations national chief
Shawn Atleo, the national chief of Canada’s largest aboriginal group, has resigned his post — driven out by internal dissent for his support of a federal bill to overhaul education for First Nations children.
Atleo made the surprise announcement in Ottawa on Friday at the end of a week during which some aboriginal chiefs from five provinces strongly criticized the government’s education bill, C-33.
They said it fell short of providing sufficient funds for schools on reserves, was prepared without adequate consultation, and gave the federal government control of the system. Those sharp attacks amounted to a reprimand for Atleo, who believed the bill represented a strong step forward for First Nations children. His failure to get some chiefs onside spelled trouble for his continuing leadership at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
28 April
The status of Métis people
On April 17, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal upheld a 2013 Federal Court decision, declaring Métis to be “Indians” under the Constitution. It was a bittersweet decision because Non-Status Indians were excluded. The appeal court decided that Non-Status Indians are to be dealt with separately, on a caseby-case basis. What that means has not been determined, but I’d bet my buffalo hide that the Conservative government will go the last step and appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. I cannot see the federal government allowing a less-than-full cookie jar to have more hands reaching in.
Canada’s Supreme Court has defined Métis as “a person of mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry who has some ancestral family connection (not necessarily genetic), identifies himself or herself as Métis, and is accepted by … a Métis Association.”
According to Aboriginal Affairs, Non-Status Indians are defined as “people who consider themselves Indians or members of a First Nation, but whom the Government of Canada does not recognize as Indians under the Indian Act, either because they are unable to prove their status or have lost their status rights.”
Status Indians are defined as, “People who are recognized as Indians under Canada’s Indian Act.”
All of them get lumped into the federal government’s “Aboriginal Peoples” teepee, which according to 2011 data, represent more than 1.4 million people or roughly 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population. Of those, about 698,000 are Status Indians, 214,000 are Non-Status and almost 452,000 identified as Métis.


5 December
Protests, concern with Canada’s proposed First Nation Education Act
(RCInet) First Nations, who have until fairly recently, found themselves faced with assimilation in so-called residential schools are concerned by the government’s motives in evaluating First Nation education in Canada, and making binding regulations to enforce those evaluations.
29 November
Bob Rae: Canada’s future depends on a new deal with First Nations
(Globe & Mail) Canada’s course has been difficult, with some marked successes with treaties and land claims in the territories, B.C. and Quebec, and a young aboriginal population that is making breakthroughs in business, the professions, and education. But the pain of poverty, discrimination and disrespect for the first nations perspective continues, with the latest example of the Harper government’s determination to move ahead on education reform without real participation or engagement with the First Nations leadership.
The Supreme Court of Canada has advanced the issue in the absence of serious political leadership, but the recognition of the duty to consult and accommodate, the liberal interpretation of historic treaties, and insistence on a continuing fiduciary duty of the Crown can only do so much in the absence of political will and imagination.
8 November
B.C. First Nation leads historic and controversial move toward aboriginal private home ownership
(National Post) To the Nisga’a and the First Nations looking to follow their example, private ownership of aboriginal land will pull their people out of poverty and put Canadian First Nations on the road toward unprecedented levels of economic and political power. For opponents, Nisga’a-style land reforms will be the trap door by which First Nations culture is unalterably scrubbed from the Canadian landscape.
21 October
New Brunswick fracking protests are the frontline of a democratic fight
(The Guardian) Images of burning cars and narratives about Canadian natives breaking the law obscure the real story about the Mi’kmaq people’s opposition to shale gas exploration
There is only one reason the police were unleashed. Not because of the New Brunswick Premier’s claims about the dangers of an “armed encampment”; protestors had been unswervingly non-violent for months. Ever since 2010, when New Brunswick handed out 1.4 million hectares of land – one-seventh of the province – to shale gas exploration, opposition had been mounting. Petitions, town hall meetings, marches on legislature had slowly transformed to civil disobedience, and in October, to the blockade of equipment that Texan SNW Resources was using for seismic testing. The company was losing $60,000 daily, and the non-violent defiance had put a wrinkle in the Premier’s plans for a resource boom. The blockade had to go.
The pundits howl or hand-wring about destroyed police cars, but say nothing about the destruction wrought by fracking. Short for “hydraulic fracturing,” fracking pumps a toxic cocktail of chemicals, sand and water into deeply drilled wells. It shatters the bedrock to free shale gas. The chemicals – many of which are kept secret by industry – are linked to cancer and other illnesses.
7 October
Paul Martin: Who will be the next Tecumseh?
(Globe & Mail) This week, the collective conscience of Canadians renews its interest in Tecumseh, a man renowned as a great Shawnee warrior who was actually much more of a statesman and nation-builder ahead of his time. He unified tribes where no one had before and strategically aligned his nation with the British against the Americans. He had every aspiration of sovereignty and voraciously opposed treaties – for he predicted how they would eventually fail his nation.
SHAWN ATLEO: The Royal Proclamation and the way forward for First Nations
On the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of King George III, issued at the conclusion of the Seven Years War. It’s important to mark historical milestones, as we did with the War of 1812. But the Royal Proclamation is in fact more relevant and essential to our relationship today and our shared future tomorrow.
Katia Opalka: La Proclamation Royale de 1763 a 250 ans
(CBA Magazine) La Proclamation Royale de 1763 aura 250 ans le 7 octobre.  Si vous n’avez jamais entendu parler de ce document, lundi serait un excellent moment pour en prendre connaissance.  Si vous êtes à Ottawa, vous pourriez même en profiter pour assister à différents évènements organisés dans le courant du mois d’octobre pour souligner cet anniversaire. La Proclamation Royale est en quelque sorte la première constitution du Canada. Son libellé et la façon dont elle a été mise en œuvre ont profondément marqué l’histoire du Canada et surtout les relations entre les Anglais et les Canadiens et celles des colonisateurs avec les Premières Nations. Connaître la Proclamation Royale, c’est savoir qui nous sommes.
Royal Proclamation of 1763, Canada’s ‘Indian Magna Carta,’ turns 250
A pivotal moment in Canadian and First Nations history gets a small celebration
Ring Of Fire Negotiations: Bob Rae Must Turn Legacy Of Failure Into Hope For Future
Band council has limited authority to make bylaws, which can ultimately be vetoed by Ottawa; frustrated with the arduous process, some reserves have given up trying, resulting in a lack of law and order.
The Indian Act subverted traditional methods of decision-making, replacing them with a system that prized elected leaders, gave the federal government the authority to overrule any decision by chief and council and handed civil servants de facto power over most aspects of reserve life, including land, resources, wills, education and how their community leaders are chosen.
The Act imposed a two-year election cycle, reducing the ability to make long-term plans and creating an unstable political system. Chiefs have one year to accomplish a goal before they start re-campaigning.
5 October
Tecumseh’s Ghost: an essay by Allan R. Gregg

(iPolitics) Tecumseh’s true historical significance is derived from much more than his feats on the battlefield in the War of 1812. It was his statesmanship, diplomacy and charisma that convinced and motivated Indian braves throughout the length and breadth of the North American frontier to put aside their tribal differences and loyalties, and join a pan-Indian Confederacy to take back the land that had been stolen from them through dozens of unscrupulous treaties. He also brandished a powerful vision and philosophy that combined spiritualism with militarism which still reverberates in the protests of modern day Aboriginal leaders and the Idle No More movement.
More than this, what he represented also ignited the intense fear and subsequent dehumanizing of the Indian by the white man that lurks at the root of Canadian attitudes today. It was his ideas, as much as his tomahawk and scalping knife that made him an inspiration to Indians and dangerous in the extreme to non-Indians.
30 September
Ring Of Fire Project: For First Nations, Disruption Is Certain, Profits Less So
(HuffPost) “The First Nations closest to the Ring of Fire are among the most socio-economically challenged in Ontario, impacting their ability to meaningfully participate in large complex projects,” according to February 2013 briefing notes prepared for John Duncan, then minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
“Exposure to a development of this magnitude combined with low educational attainment and other factors suggests that the communities do not currently have the capacity to address the various issues related to the Ring of Fire.”
Before Webequie considers whether it is for or against a permanent road connection, it must improve existing shabby infrastructure, MacDonald says. The reserve needs some $28 million to bring its roads, housing, garbage disposal, water and sewage treatment facilities up to the Canadian standard, according to a study conducted for the band last year.
The people of Webequie want development to help end the challenges associated with isolation in the wilderness and to raise a more hopeful generation that thrives on both modern and traditional knowledge, that understands both Oji-Cree and the technical jargon of mining companies.
They want to end their 70 per cent unemployment rate, increase the percentage of the population with a high school degree from 30 per cent and address the problems that contribute to a suicide rate that is 10 times the national average.
15 August
Haida Gwaii totem poleTotem pole celebrates Haida’s pact with Canada
A new totem pole the height of a three-storey building now looms over the southern Haida Gwaii, carved with symbols to note the remote land is protected from ocean floor to mountaintop.
Hundreds gathered in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve to watch the nearly 3,000-kilogram pole raised using six ropes and sheer manpower, the first such raising in over a century. Spectators were dwarfed by the colourful and intricate pole, which took more than a year to carve and paint and represents Gwaii Haanas’ modern and ancient history. The pole was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an agreement between the Haida Nation and the government of Canada that allows both to co-manage and protect the region. Video: Celebrating protection of the land on Gwaii Haanas
Inclusive development practices honor indigenous peoples
Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples when “we highlight the importance of honoring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between states, their citizens and indigenous peoples,” says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The best way to honor indigenous people is an inclusive decision-making process, giving them a say in development issues, said Santos Mero, deputy secretary general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in the northern Philippines. (free registration) (8/9)
5 August
Alberta’s Oil Sands Bring Jobs, Services and Despair
(IPS) There is a huge incentive for oil companies to expand. … This is a worrying prospect for [Eriel Deranger, spokesperson for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation] who believes that expansion has already committed a “cultural genocide” against her community. Being both an economic catalyst and environmental hazard, the tar sands pose a difficult dilemma for many Fort Chipewyan residents.
2 August
Ring of Fire talks off to ‘productive’ start, Bob Rae says
(CBC) Northern Ontario mining negotiations a chance to ‘do development differently’
24 July
Canada’s provincial premiers focus on indigenous issues on first day
(RCI) Premiers of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories started a three-day First Ministers Conference with a focus on indigenous issues on Wednesday .
Bob Rae To Chair Board Of FN Group Limited Partnership
Former Liberal MP Bob Rae has been appointed chairman of the board of the British Columbia-based FN (PTP) Group Limited Partnership, or FNLP.
The FNLP is a limited partnership of 15 First Nations along the proposed PTP pipeline route between Summit Lake and Kitimat, B.C.
The appointment comes as FNLP prepares to implement a $200 million commercial agreement with the Pacific Trail Pipelines Limited Partnership, the pipeline component of the proposed Kitimat LNG Project.
18 July
Kelly McParland: Justin Trudeau stokes the flames of native grievances
Among the many challenges the natives face, their own divisiveness is near the forefront. The challenge to Mr. Atleo’s authority is a prime example. A group of more confrontational-minded native leaders are upset at his willingness to work with Mr. Harper in pursuit of solutions.
… Mr. Harper is also being told he has to apologize for yet another example of Canada’s appalling treatment of natives during the years bracketing the Second World War. In the latest revelations, University of Guelph food historian Ian Mosby detailed bizarre tests conducted between 1942 and 1952 on northern Manitoba reserves and at six residential schools across the country. Mosby reports that children and adults living on starvation-level diets were given supplements instead of proper food, to study the effect.
AFN head Shawn Atleo, who is the target of the breakaway group for whom Trudeau blames Harper, wants Harper to take responsibility for the experiments, although he wasn’t born at the time and has already issued a blanket apology for all the horrors imposed by earlier Canadian governments on Canadian aboriginals. (The 1942-52 experiments, it bears pointing out, took place under Liberal governments.)
“We’re going to call on the prime minister to give effect to the words that he spoke when he said: ‘The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government,”’ Atleo said in Whitehorse, where the AFN is holding its annual gathering, and where the separate National Treaty Gathering could give rise to a rival aboriginal group.
10 July
First Nations resource development group stalled by the AFN
A government working group set up to ensure aboriginals share the benefits of natural resource development is more than a month behind schedule because the Assembly of First Nations has yet to nominate its members.
The delay comes after the previous incarnation, a joint economic task force, fell apart last November after two AFN appointees quit, according to briefing notes released to Global News under access to information.
14 May
Flourishing Cree in Quebec (video)
How did the Cree of northern Quebec manage to break the cycle of poverty and despair that plagues their Ontario counterparts?
8 May
The Aboriginal population: younger and more troubled
The dry data of the National Household Survey paints a grim picture of the challenges facing Canada’s First Nations youth. But what, if anything, can be done?
For the Conservative government, the answer lies in a new education act to address the inadequate quality of many schools on reserves. Whether this is the right approach – who it will help and how much it will help – will be the crux of a major national debate when the bill is brought before the House of Commons in a few months.
The median age of the aboriginal population is 28; for the non-aboriginal population it is 41. (Sixty-one per cent of aboriginal Canadians are First Nations; the remainder are Métis and Inuit.) Fertility rates among aboriginal Canadians are higher and life expectancy is lower than those of the broader population – two signs of poverty within a community.
Thirty-four per cent of aboriginal children live in single-parent families, which are often subject to greater income stress than two-parent families; for the non-aboriginal population, the figure is 17 per cent.
Most alarming, 48 per cent of all children in foster care are aboriginal – a statistic that Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called “staggering.”
Forty-nine per cent of First Nations people live on reserve, where education is provided by band councils using federal funds – and where other studies found that about 60 per cent fail to graduate.
‘Tragic’ number of aboriginal children in foster care stuns even the experts
(Ottawa Citizen) Nearly half of children under 14 in foster care in Canada are aboriginal children — a number that exceeds even the grimmest estimates of a leading First Nations’ child welfare advocate.
Newly released data from the National Household Survey suggest that, of the approximately 30,000 children in care in Canada in 2011, 14,225 were aboriginal.
Overall, four per cent of aboriginal children were in care, compared to a scant 0.3 per cent of non-aboriginal children, or 15,345 children.
24 June
Bob Rae jumps into Ring of Fire
Bob Rae has had a few tough assignments in his life, but the job he faces as he departs his federal political career could be one of the most challenging.
Mr. Rae will represent nine different native governments as chief negotiator for the Matawa First Nations in talks with the Ontario government about the opening of their land to the massive Ring of Fire mineral development. There are varying ideas about how to proceed, and even about what his role should be.
The huge impact the mining projects in the remote northwest part of the province could have on the native communities’ environment, social welfare and long-term prosperity means there is an imperative to get it right – to ensure that the First Nations walk away from the negotiations with deals that will leave them richer, not poorer.
30 April
Auditor general’s report 2013: Lack of co-operation threatens Indian residential schools historical record
Disagreements are stalling the creation of historical record as mandated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says auditor general
(Toronto Star)  “We are concerned that the lack of co-operation, delays and looming deadline stand in the way of creating the historical record of Indian residential schools as it was originally intended,” auditor general Michael Ferguson said at a news conference Tuesday after tabling his spring report in the House of Commons.
The five-year mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission includes creating a historical record of the residential school system that removed about 150,000 native children from their homes and placed them in church-run schools, where thousands were subject to physical, mental and sexual abuse.
22 March
Native leader frustrated by lack of consultation with Ottawa on job program
(Globe & Mail) Shawn Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says the big problem with programs like the First Nations Job Fund is the way they are conceived by governments and then rolled out without any two-way dialogue. Despite more than a year of government promises for increased consultation, and despite mounting first-nations frustration as demonstrated by the rise of protest groups like Idle No More, there is still a top-down approach, Mr. Atleo said.
Cannot help but be reminded of the subtitle of Dr. Strangelove “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” – more seriously, this is one of the rare happy stories of an aboriginal band profiting (not profiteering) from  the resources within its territory. It would be instructive to learn how the agreements with industry are structured.
Fort McKay aboriginals take ‘good with the bad’ of the oil sands
(Financial Post) The 700-member community, 65 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, owns the Fort McKay Group of Companies LP. With $100-million in annual revenue, it employs 4,000 people — aboriginal and non-aboriginal — and provides services to many of the top oil sands developers.
20 March
International aboriginal alliance vows to fight new oilsands pipelines
(Vancouver Sun) An alliance of First Nations leaders is preparing to fight proposed new pipelines in the courts and through unspecified direct action.
Native leaders from Canada and the United States were on Parliament Hill on Wednesday to underline opposition to both the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines. …
Some of the chiefs brushed off the federal government’s appointment this week of a special envoy to look at tensions between natives and the energy industry.
Vancouver-based lawyer Doug Eyford is to focus on energy infrastructure in Western Canada, but some native leaders say he has no credibility.
19 March
Envoy to deal with First Nations concerns on pipelines
Vancouver lawyer Doug Eyford to submit preliminary report to Harper by June
(CBC) Vancouver-based lawyer Doug Eyford will focus on energy infrastructure in Western Canada and submit a preliminary report directly to Harper by the end of June and a final report by the end of November.
He is to examine First Nations concerns about the troubled Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, as well as the development of liquid natural gas plants, marine terminals and other energy infrastructure in British Columbia and Alberta.
He will discuss environmental protection, jobs and economic development, and First Nations rights to a share of the wealth from natural resources. But he said he won’t argue in favour of development.
8 March
Métis celebrate historic Supreme Court land ruling
Manitoba Métis Federation sought declaration of government’s failure to implement 1870 land deal
(CBC) A legal challenge by the Manitoba Métis Federation sought recognition for the treatment of its people after the 1870 government land deal that ended the Red River resistance.
The 6-2 ruling in Canada’s highest court declared that “the Federal Crown failed to implement the land grant provision set out in s.31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 in accordance with the honour of the Crown.”
The Manitoba Act, made in 1870, promised to set aside 5,565 square kilometres of land for 7,000 children of the Red River Métis. That land includes what is now the city of Winnipeg.
22 February
John Ivison: Bernard Valcourt part of new Conservative strategy for dealing with aboriginals
What’s the reward for selling the Conservatives’ unpopular employment insurance reforms in Atlantic Canada? The answer, it seems, is to be handed the job of flogging the government’s equally unloved native policies as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. PM Harper shuffles cabinet to fill aboriginal affairs gap
18 February
Residential School Deaths In Canada Number At Least 3,000, According To Research
(Canadian Press) At least 3,000 children, including four under the age of 10 found huddled together in frozen embrace, are now known to have died during attendance at Canada’s Indian residential schools, according to new unpublished research.
“These are actual confirmed numbers,” Alex Maass, research manager with the Missing Children Project, told The Canadian Press from Vancouver. … The largest single killer, by far, was disease. For decades starting in about 1910, tuberculosis was a consistent killer — in part because of widespread ignorance over how diseases were spread.
15 February
Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigns from cabinet
MP for Vancouver Island North wrote to tax court for constituent
(CBC) Heritage Minister James Moore will become acting minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development until a new minister is named, Harper said in a statement released by email late Friday afternoon.
Duncan was heavily criticized in 2011 for his handling of a housing crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat. But of course that has nothing to do with his resignation
6 February
Liberal senators walk out on Aboriginal Affairs minister
(CBC) John Duncan defends bill proposing more financial transparency in First Nations communities
28 January
First Nations dominate Question Period as Parliament resumes amid renewed Idle No More protests
(National Post) As about 200 protesters made noise outside, NDP critic Romeo Saganash tabled a private member’s bill in the Commons which would require that all federal legislation be compatible with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As Parliament resumes in Ottawa, global day of action backs Idle No More
27 January
Excellent analysis of underlying governance problems, combined with realistic (if difficult) solutions.
First Nations Governance
(CBC | The Sunday Edition) For some the solution is to give First Nations a bigger share of resource revenues and expand the right to self-government.
For others, that sounds like throwing good money after bad.
John Graham has worked in the field of First Nations governance for more than 20 years… as a federal employee, as a Director with the Institute on Governance, and now as an independent consultant.
He has worked with more than 300 bands and has presented his views to the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
He says that along with a lack of funding, geographic isolation, and the legacy of colonialism, a poor governance system is the principal cause of the appalling living conditions on many First Nations reserves across Canada. And he has concrete ideas about how that can be dramatically improved.
At Issue The Politics of Idle No More (10 January) and Theresa Spence, Electoral Reform and More (24 January) — Chantal Hébert suggests that Stephen Harper could do worse than enlist Bob Rae in the effort to develop agreement with the First Nations. What a great idea!
16 January
Terry GlavinOpinion: AFN obstructionists will stop at nothing
(Ottawa Citizen) Let’s say that somehow, the eruption we’ve all agreed to call Idle No More results in a historic breakthrough between Ottawa and Canada’s diverse and deeply troubled First Nations.
Let’s say the covenant recognizes and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights and contains a specific, collaborative action plan to deal with the urgent challenges of aboriginal childhood education, economic development, First Nations governance and accountability. Plus it comes with a startup $275 million just to be sure the rubber hits the road. And it’s announced at a historic gathering in Ottawa with the senior First Nations chiefs, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and even Governor-General David Johnston.
Now let’s say along comes an obstructionist “movement” that masquerades as militant but is really a minority faction of eccentric and reactionary Indian band chiefs who are hopelessly devoted to the status quo. They set out to methodically undermine the agreement. They hijack the work plan. Within a year they’ve pretty well sabotaged the whole thing.
You would not know it for all the pageantry and the rhetoric about genocide and treaties and insurrection, but that’s just one untold story of Idle No More so far. There was such an agreement. It was called the Joint Action Plan, dated June 9, 2011. It was systematically derailed, piece by piece, and its saboteurs are now among the loudest and most theatrical characters in the Idle No More drama.
Paul Martin says Ottawa has ‘no understanding’ of native issues
(CBC) As Canada’s 21st prime minister, Martin oversaw the signing of the 2005 Kelowna Accord, which envisioned the investment of $5 billion over 10 years for education and social welfare programs for aboriginal Canadians. The project fell apart when Stephen Harper took over that year as prime minister, and cut the funding.
Since his retirement from politics, Martin has continued his work with aboriginal communities and has invested his own money in organizations such as the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) and the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (CAPE) fund.
11 January
Harper Meets With First Nations Chiefs, But With A New Plan

(Canadian Press via HuffPost) When the hard-won meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was finally over on Friday, the exhausted and contested chiefs said they could hardly believe what had been accomplished.
Despite rancorous boycotts by some chiefs and a door-pounding protest on the front steps of the prime minister’s working office Friday, National Chief Shawn Atleo declared that Harper has finally agreed to top-level talks to modernize and implement the ancient treaties that were always supposed to bring peace and prosperity to First Nations.
“We have achieved some movement today,” Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a statement.
“The prime minister listened respectfully to chiefs and responded to all they brought forward and for the first time, provided a clear mandate for high-level talks on treaty implementation. Prime Minister Harper also committed to high-level discussions on comprehensive claims.”
But secondary demands — including a repeal of contentious sections of the government’s omnibus budget bills — were dismissed or put off for another day.
And in order for the commitment to treaty talks to work, the Ontario and Manitoba First Nations who boycotted Friday’s meetings will have to come back into the Assembly of First Nations fold.
Harper, First Nations Meeting: Checklist Of Demands
Agreed — Commitment to a high-level process on treaty implementation.
Agreed — Commitment to speed up resolutions of land claims and affirmation of inherent rights.
Agreed — Designate decision-makers within the Privy Council Office to specifically oversee the Crown-First Nation relationship.
Partial headway — Harper agreed talks on resource equity should be part of the high-level process on treaty implementation, but also need to include provinces.
Partial headway — Make funding for First Nations sustainable, in line with growth of the population. Harper agreed this would be part of the treaty and comprehensive land claims discussions.
Partial headway — Guarantee schools for every First Nation. Harper agreed education is important but didn’t make firm commitments.
Little headway — All legislation needs to be compatible with indigenous rights, and the parts of Harper’s budget omnibus bills that contravene aboriginal rights need to be repealed. Harper agreed the government has a duty to consult with First Nations, but will not repeal the omnibus bills.
No — Set up a public commission to focus on murdered and missing aboriginal women.
Chris Hall: Stephen Harper, First Nations and an opportunity lost
10 January
John Moore: Idle No More’s digital smoke signals
I ask Wab Kinew [named by Postmedia News as one of “nine aboriginal movers and shakers you should know” —  a 31-year-old rapper and CBC TV host working at the University of Winnipeg] a question I often get on my radio show: “Why can’t natives just move on?”
“We are moving on,” he writes back. “We are getting educated, We are embracing technology. What we aren’t moving on from is a desire for equal opportunity, for our kids and to have a connection to our heritage.
Is there any Canadian who wants to “get over equal opportunity, or the freedom to celebrate his or her heritage”?
Kinew’s message ends with the Ojibwe words, E iing o’owe onjibite ngiigitoo biwaabikoosiming.
That means: “Sent from my iPhone.”

8 January
David Johnston Won’t Attend Meeting With Aboriginal Leaders On Friday
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) A spokesman for David Johnston says he won’t be there because the gathering is a working meeting with government on public policy issues.
… The Governor General was seen as an important participant for the meeting because he represents the British Crown, which negotiated the original treaties with aboriginal people.
7 January
Non-Status Indians And Metis Declared ‘Indians’ Under Constitution Act, Court Rules
(Canadian Press) The federal government’s responsibilities for aboriginal peoples just got a whole lot bigger.
The decision helps to clarify the relationship between Ottawa and the more than 600,000 aboriginal people who are not affiliated with specific reserves.
“The recognition of Metis and non-status Indian as Indians under section 91(24) should accord a further level of respect and reconciliation by removing the constitutional uncertainty surrounding these groups,” writes Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan.


2 August
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: Attawapiskat didn’t Mismanage Funds, Harper — You Did
The government was wrong in its response to the crisis in Attawapiskat and its ongoing attempt to divide Canadians with misleading information is shameful. Federal court ruled
this morning the that the Conservative government’s response to the crisis in Attawapiskat was unreasonable and failed to look at any remedy other than the appointment of a Third Party Manager.
Rather that own up to their mistake the Conservative government says it is “disappointed” with the decision. What will it take for this government to take responsibility for its own incompetence?
The court made it clear that Attawapiskat did not mismanage funds, as the Conservatives — from the Prime Minister on down — accused them of doing in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves. It also made clear that the decision to appoint a third party manager during the Attawapiskat crisis was unreasonable. But this is part of a much broader issue.JSF and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

One Comment on "Canada and Indigenous Peoples"

  1. Diana November 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm ·

    Bob Rae: Canada’s future depends on a new deal with First Nations
    From the Ring of Fire to B.C.’s natural gas pipelines, economic development will only happen with the full participation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. Decisions on environmental review can’t ignore full discussion and community engagement. New forms of self-government will have to be found – the Indian Act will need to be replaced with better governance and a genuine sharing of power and responsibility. But let there be no doubt – these new partnerships have to happen. Canada’s future depends on them.

Comments are now closed for this article.