Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Canada and Indigenous peoples 2015-16
Ottawa won’t require First Nations’ consent for Trans Mountain decision
(Globe & Mail) The federal government will not require consent from First Nations as it makes a decision on whether to approve Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, despite endorsing a UN declaration earlier this year that includes the principle of “free, prior and informed consent,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Thursday.
Mr. Carr released a report from an advisory panel that noted many First Nations and Métis communities in British Columbia feel they have not been adequately consulted on the $6.8-billion expansion and insist they have the right to veto resource projects on their traditional territory.
Mr. Carr has said the government will make a decision on Trans Mountain before Christmas. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has demanded that Ottawa approve the pipeline expansion in order to provide a boost to the depressed oil industry in her province.
But the panel heard from many indigenous communities and other residents and local politicians in B.C. who remain adamantly opposed. First Nations have successfully launched legal challenges against other resource projects, notably Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline, though the legal test has typically been whether they were adequately consulted, not whether they gave consent.
… In a speech in Vancouver on Thursday, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said the company has a lot of work to do before it can break ground on the project, even if Ottawa grants its approval.
That includes meeting 157 conditions recommended by the National Energy Board.
Skin-deep: The awkwardness of Justin Trudeau’s Haida tattoo
(Maclean’s) The Haida once approved of Justin Trudeau’s ink of a Haida raven on his shoulder. But that was before Ottawa supported an LNG terminal in B.C.
To the Haida, what’s changed is Trudeau. This fall, Ottawa greenlit a controversial LNG terminal near the breeding grounds of one of B.C.’s biggest salmon runs. The Haida are among those First Nations opposed to the Petronas LNG terminal slated for Lelu Island, on B.C.’s North Coast. Already, Davidson says he’ll be among those willing to stand at Lelu Island to block heavy machinery from landing on its shores. Many Haida are equally angry with Trudeau’s decision to allow B.C.’s controversial Site C Dam to go ahead before the Federal Court of Appeal can rule on treaty rights. And the Haida, like most British Columbians, are anxiously awaiting Ottawa’s decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, expected by Dec. 19. … Nor did Trudeau ask permission of Davidson, or follow any protocols to use the image … for the Haida, acquiring ink is sacred, a step generally taken at a potlatch or public forum, particularly for a clan tattoo, like Trudeau’s.
A year on, anger brews over Trudeau’s inaction on indigenous rights
(Globe & Mail) More than a year after the federal Liberals won, having promised significant legislative reforms aimed at recognizing and respecting aboriginal title and rights, the lack of progress is brewing frustration. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, faces a significant task to bring Canada’s laws into line with her government’s commitments – and her people’s expectations.
At issue in this case is the Nuu-chah-nulth people’s right to fish for a living. They are presently in court doing precisely what Ms. Wilson-Raybould said they shouldn’t have to do: Fight battles already won.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the Nuu-chah-nulth have an aboriginal right to fish for any species in their territories, and to sell those fish.
Since then, the federal fisheries department has approved harvests of gooseneck barnacles and chinook salmon, but turned down everything else the Nuu-chah-nulth have proposed.
That frustration is directed squarely at Mr. Trudeau: “He is the one who can tell his ministers, ministry staff and their legal staff to reflect his commitment to indigenous people – and until he does that the nation has said he is not welcome in the territory.”
Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge can help us prevent climate changes says Ban Ki-moon
(RCI) Ban Ki-moon receives the Arctic Circle Prize 2016 for his leadership in bringing together the Leaders of the world on a Climate agreement. The prize was announced by Iceland’s former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson in Reykjavik this weekend.
In his thanks speech, the Secretary General addressed the importance of Indigenous Peoples traditional knowledge in fighting climate change.
“Let us remember those on the frontlines, the many indigenous peoples who have lived here for centuries. They contribute to the Arctic’s diversity and sustainable resource management. Yet, as the developing countries, those who have contributed least to climate change, they are hit first and hardest by serious consequences for their safety, health and human rights,” Ban Ki-moon said to the 2,000 delegates at the Arctic Circle Assembly.
Clark and Kakfwi: How Indigenous Peoples can manage their own lands and communities
(Ottawa Citizen) some of the most significant reforms are being driven and led by Indigenous citizens themselves, and by a respect for their cultures and experience. A compelling example is the proposed National Indigenous Guardians Network.
It is a program of stewardship that empowers Indigenous people to manage their own lands, in ways that combine the best of modern science with the wisest of traditional Indigenous practice, and trains young people to become the next generation of leaders – educators, scientists, and legislators – not by rejecting their culture but by embracing it.
Bureaucrats were prepared to roll First Nations education money out quickly, Liberals delayed
(CBC) Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was presented with a plan to roll First Nations education funding out over four years — as the Liberals had promised during the last election — but the government ultimately opted for a slower route, earmarking a large part of the money for after the next election.
In a proposed funding document obtained under access to information, the department lays out a “projected investments” plan to meet the campaign promise of $2.6 billion in additional dollars over four years for kindergarten to Grade 12 school education on reserve.
The documents show much more money would have been available sooner to address the dire state of Indigenous learning had the fast-tracked plan been followed: nearly $3 billion more than current spending track.
CBC Aboriginal changes name to CBC Indigenous
Beginning today, we’re changing our name — here’s why
While we understand that there is no truly all-encompassing term, Indigenous is fast becoming the preferred way to refer to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
In adopting this change, we join the ranks of many individuals, groups, organizations, universities and governments — both nationally and globally — who have chosen to use the term Indigenous.
Aboriginal vs. Indigenous
In 1982, the Canadian government adopted the legal term “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” in the Constitution Act, referring to the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
While the term Aboriginal increased in popularity in the ’80s and ’90s, Indigenous began to take over, often chosen by Indigenous people — as opposed to designated by someone else.
“The term Indigenous is used internationally and it has a lot of contemporary political clout,” said University of Manitoba Prof. Niigaanwewidam Sinclair.
This was affirmed In May 2016, when the federal government officially adopted the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Canada officially adopts UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Our change to Indigenous comes after consulting with Indigenous CBC staff from across the country. It also follows on the heels of a recent move by CBC to capitalize Aboriginal and Indigenous — recognizing that when we use these terms, we are talking about a distinct community, often with official representation and a regular place in the national debate.
Some of the bloom is off – at least at The Guardian
Justin Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric on First Nations a cheap simulation of justice
An era of so-called reconciliation has disguised the continuation of Harper-era land and resource grabs
(The Guardian) Reconciliation is a powerful hope, an uplifting prospect, a deeply desired new relationship that Trudeau has compellingly invoked. But if reconciliation does not include the restitution of land, the recognition of real self-government, the reigning in of abusive police, the remediation of rivers and forests, it will remain a vacant notion, a cynical ploy to preserve a status quo in need not of tinkering but transformation. It will be Canada’s latest in beads and trinkets, a cheap simulation of justice.
The good news is that Indigenous peoples have never been more poised to push Trudeau from mere words to deeds. …
They have endured too much to be satisfied with Trudeau attending a pow wow, flashing a Haida tattoo on his arm, or calling for yet another consultation and study. If Canadians are willing to do their part, Indigenous peoples can test Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric the most effective way possible: in the crucible of a rising movement.
Indigenous people overrepresented in justice system a ‘sad reality’: Jody Wilson-Raybould
(CBC) Justice minister in favour of taking a restorative approach to justice
While Indigenous people in Canada make-up 4.3 per cent of the population, they represent more than 25 per cent of inmates, Wilson-Raybould said of the most recent findings by Canada’s prison watchdog.
The justice minister also pointed to the following findings:
- Between 2005 and 2015, the Indigenous inmate population grew by 50 per cent compared to the overall growth rate of 10 per cent.
- Indigenous women comprise 37 per cent of all women serving a sentence of more than two years.
- Incarceration rates for Indigenous people in some parts of Canada are up to 33 times higher than for non-Indigenous peoples.
See Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report points to ‘growing crisis’ for indigenous youth (December 2015)
Brenda Gunn: The legal system has harmed indigenous women enough – make it the focus of the inquiry
(Globe & Mail Opinion) After years of calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, the federal government has released the terms of reference for the inquiry. It is a time of mixed emotion. Many people are hopeful that the inquiry will address the systemic racism, sexism and colonialism at the root of the violence, and hope that the government will implement recommendations to address the situation. But many others are frustrated and angry that the terms of reference do not refer to key issues raised during the pre-inquiry consultations.
Ottawa launches long-awaited inquiry into missing, murdered indigenous women
(Global News) Three cabinet ministers were on hand inside the Museum of History’s great hall – a space bedecked with long houses, totem poles and artwork dedicated to Canada’s First Nations – to hand the reins of the nascent inquiry to independent commissioners.
Those commissioners will provide concrete recommendations to federal, provincial and territorial governments about how to deal with the disproportionate rates of violence and crime against Canada’s indigenous women and girls.
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
The Government of Canada launched an independent national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is independent from the federal government. The inquiry will establish its own office and website.
Ottawa unveils final report on MMIW inquiry consultation
No official word yet on when inquiry will start or how it will work
(Nunatsiaqonline) Though they’re not yet ready to say when and how they’ll conduct their national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the federal government is now ready to report what others want them to do.
Ottawa’s final report on what they heard between December 2015 and March 2016 quietly appeared May 27 on the website of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
In it, federal bureaucrats summarize recommendations made to them during 18 inquiry design meetings held across the country with the family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and seven other roundtables and symposiums held with a variety of stakeholders, including lawyers’ groups, Indigenous law experts, provincial and territorial leaders and Indigenous organizations.
Conrad Black: This isn’t religion, it’s madness
I have a ghastly, sinking feeling that the high court is reaching for this case to make another secular intrusion in what is ostensibly an issue of theology, and to make another faddish foray into the terribly difficult and largely tragic public policy area of the rights and entitlements of aboriginal peoples. This is, after all, and as it appears, almost a Monty Python parody: someone reveals after four years that the Almighty had indicated to him that the rites of a thousand people would be desecrated if a recreational project, that has been endlessly debated for 24 years, will give the complainants employment and is on formerly commercially exploited territory, is allowed to proceed. This is because it may be within earshot of some grizzly bears whose collective sacred spirit will be affronted.
This isn’t messianism; it isn’t even reverence, or spirituality. It is bunk. Are we all mad?
Abandoning reserves not the answer to aboriginal suicide: former PM
People should not have to abandon aboriginal reserves in order to address growing suicide rates across the country, former prime minister Paul Martin said at an event in Montreal Wednesday.
“Aboriginal people will live where they want to live,” Martin told reporters. “The problem that exists on reserves isn’t due to the fact that they’re remote. It’s that their education system is inadequate, that their healthcare system is inadequate, that the child welfare system is inadequate. If they have the same opportunities there that we have here, they’ll succeed, they’ll stay (on reserve) and they’ll build stronger economies.”
Portrait of PM Paul Martin who ruled from the cheap seats: Neil Macdonald
Former prime minister Paul Martin keeps up his almost-apologetic air as portrait revealed on Parliament Hill
(CBC) Yesterday, he was referred to as the greatest finance minister in our history.
He flew commercial, in the cheap seats. He was finance minister, and slashing government, and reasoned that if he was going to preach austerity, he should demonstrate some.
There was one department he refused to cut, though: Indian and Northern Affairs. Indigenous people, to whom so many Canadians remain indifferent, were always Martin’s great matter.
“The depth of feeling he has on aboriginal issues is almost impossible to understand,” says Elly Alboim, an Ottawa strategist and Martin confidant since the days at Finance. “It’s just ingrained.”
Martin has worked constantly for Indigenous rights in the 10 years since he retired, and he went quickly to that subject in his speech at the ceremony yesterday, declaring that “when we look at Indigenous Canada, we are blighted by our blind spots.”
Canada to shift position on UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The declaration, enacted by the General Assembly in 2007, recognizes Indigenous people’s basic human rights, as well as rights to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others.
More than 140 nations passed the declaration but Canada — which had been involved in drafting it — initially opposed it, along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
The then-Conservative government had concerns about the declaration’s wording on provisions addressing lands and resources, as well as an article calling on states to obtain prior informed consent with Indigenous groups before enacting new laws.
Implementing UN indigenous rights declaration good for Inuit
UN expert applauds Trudeau’s comments on Indigenous issues
Canada finally officially endorsed the declaration in 2010 but called it an “aspirational document” and noted it was not legally binding.
Shortly after the 2015 federal election, Bennett announced the new Liberal government would implement the Declaration as part of its effort to rebuild its working relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Minister gets earful on visit to Attawapiskat; commits to new youth centre
(National Observer) A young man in the troubled First Nation of Attawapiskat asked the federal indigenous affairs minister on Monday why his community was living in Third World conditions while Canada is greeting refugees with open arms.
Speaking briefly after her meeting with the chief, Bennett noted larger issues such as the acute shortage of housing, the desire for a healing lodge as well as the ongoing concerns of the youth.
All levels of government and departments need to work together to “provide hope and a plan,” she said.
House of Commons to hold emergency debate on Attawapiskat suicide crisis
The Speaker of the House of Commons has agreed to allow an emergency debate on the suicide crisis playing out in Attawapiskat First Nation as well as other communities.
The debate, requested by NDP indigenous affairs critic Charlie Angus, is scheduled to take place today after 6 p.m. ET and last until around midnight.
The Suicide Emergency Among Canada’s First Nations
A troubling trend has prompted the Attawapiskat community to declare a state of emergency.
(The Atlantic) An indigenous community in Canada’s northern region of Ontario has declared a state of emergency after 11 people there attempted suicide on Saturday night. …Charlie Angus, said the Attawapiskat community and the First Nation people lack resources typically available to others in Canada
When “a young person tries to commit suicide in any suburban school, they send in the resources, they send in the emergency team. There’s a standard protocol for response,” Angus said. “The northern communities are left on their own. We don’t have the mental-health service dollars. We don’t have the resources.”
The declaration of a state of emergency means that a nearby hospital will send a crisis team of social workers and mental-health nurses to the community. Ontario’s Health Ministry also sent an emergency team that includes two mental-health counselors.
Saturday’s suicide attempts came after 28 people tried to kill themselves in March, Reuters reported. Since September of last year, more than 100 people there have attempted suicide, the youngest being 11, and the oldest 71, with one person dying as a result.
… The community’s current chief, Bruce Shisheesh, told CBC that overcrowding, with as many as 15 people living in one home, bullying, drug addiction, and the emotional damage of physical and sexual abuse have driven the high rates of depressions and suicide among the Attawapiskat.
By rejecting $1bn for a pipeline, a First Nation has put Trudeau’s climate plan on trial
Canada’s Lax Kw’alaams show us how we can be saved: by loving the natural world and local living economies more than mere money and profit
(The Guardian) … an oil giant is aiming to construct one of the country’s biggest fossil fuel developments: a pipeline to ship liquified natural gas (LNG) out of British Colombia. To export it overseas via tankers, Malaysian-owned Petronas must first win approval for a multi-billion dollar terminal on the coast.
That happens to be at the mouth of Canada’s second-largest salmon river, on the traditional territory of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation. One of the world’s longest un-dammed rivers, the Skeena abounds in the fish relied on by surrounding wildlife — and by First Nations and an entire regional economy.
Last year, following our modern principle, Petronas offered the First Nation an offer they imagined couldn’t be refused: in exchange for their support, a whopping $1.15 billion in cash. But put to a vote, the Lax Kw’alaams resoundingly said “no” — every single community member.
Justice Murray Sinclair plans to foster reconciliation from the Senate
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of seven new senators today. One of them is a Manitoban, Justice Murray Sinclair, who gained national recognition due to his work leading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Justice Sinclair, who comes from the Ojibway Nation, has been involved with the defence of Aboriginal peoples’ rights for more than three decades. He was appointed associate chief judge of the court of Manitoba in 1988, making him the first Indigenous person ever to hold such position. That same year, he was also named co-commissioner of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.
Sinclair might have many distinctions in his long career, but he refers to today’s Senate nomination as “a sacred honour.”
Reconciliation Starts with Educating about Indigenous Lives
Universities can play big roles that remain to date unfulfilled, say Indigenous academics.
When media talks about fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the list of 94 changes to jumpstart reconciliation between Indigenous people and the settlers of Canada, the onus is placed squarely on the federal government to implement them all.
But the feds can’t do it alone. Although they actually served to destroy children’s identities, the church- and state-run residential schools that First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced to attend from 1884 until 1948 (with many continuing in the system until the last school closed in 1996) were on the surface meant to educate. Keeping this in mind, it’s a fitting response for Canada’s universities to have a big role in reconciliation.
This was Justice Murray Sinclair’s message during the Hewitt Bostock Lecture he gave at the University of British Columbia’s Green College on Friday, March 18.
A shocking story – we must keep Health Canada’s feet to the fire.
First Nations man drags oxygen tank 1000 km on a toboggan in health care protest
Norman Shewaybick says his wife died after the oxygen supply ran out at the local nursing station
(CBC) Shewaybick’s walk has already prompted Health Canada, which operates the nursing stations in northern Ontario’s remote First Nations, to promise an oxygen concentrator for every community.
NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen puts federal feet to the fire on Site C dam
Today in Parliament, Skeena–Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen asked why Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo is still signing permits even though this “megadam” on the Peace River “would have irreversible and negative impacts on the rights of Treaty 8 people”.
“When is the Liberal government going to actually commit to its sacred policy to respect First Nations rights?” Cullen asked.
This hasn’t the only NDP salvo on indigenous issues.
Last week, NDP House Leader Charlie Angus previously demanded to know why wheelchairs, medication, and emergency dental surgery have all been denied to First Nations children.
Another NDP MP, Georgina Jolibois, has asked Health Minister Jane Philpott what she’s doing to end systemic discrimination against First Nations children when it comes to accessing health services.
Shortly before last year’s federal election, the Assembly of First Nations gave the NDP the highest marks for addressing six broad topics: strengthening families, sharing and equitable funding, upholding rights, respecting the environment, revitalizing indigenous languages, and truth and reconciliation.
Government wraps consultations on inquiry into murdered indigenous women
They’ve heard from 1,300 people, many of whom believe police have ignored their concerns
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu are to wrap up consultations with a final meeting on Monday in the nation’s capital.
The pair has been on a cross-country tour since early December to meet with the families of murdered or missing aboriginal women and girls, seeking their input on what a national inquiry should look like and what it should attempt to accomplish.
The federal government hopes to have the inquiry up and running by the summer but it must first decide what the inquiry’s mandate should be.
‘Cultural genocide’ of Canada’s indigenous peoples is a ‘mourning label,’ former war crimes prosecutor says
The “cultural genocide” of Canada’s indigenous people in residential schools is more of a “mourning metaphor” than an accurate legal label, more a “song of bereavement” than a specific indictment under international laws.
That is the controversial argument put forth in a lecture Thursday night by Payam Akhavan, professor of law at McGill University, former United Nations war crimes prosecutor, and now one of the most prominent public figures to question — however tentatively — whether Canada was ever a truly genocidal colonial power. …
As a United Nations prosecutor for war crimes in Yugoslavia, where he was targeted for assassination, he remembers thinking of the genocide question, “Who cares?”. Academic and legal distinctions seemed to wither in the presence of mass graves and systematic rape. Later, after similar work in Rwanda and elsewhere, terminological debates seemed to him to reflect the “professionalization of human suffering.” Survivors have stories, he realized, which are more important than the labels we put on them. …
Akhavan notes that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights refused to use the term “genocide” for Canada’s crimes against indigenous people, and indeed when it opened, there were First Nations protests outside. That decision followed the government’s official recognition of just five genocides: Rwanda, Srebrenica, Armenia, the Holodomor and the Holocaust. …
“I think on the one hand it’s understandable that some of the delegates (to the 1948 convention) believed that the physical extermination of people in gas chambers has to be seen as a different idea than the destruction of monuments or the burning of books and those kind of acts we associate with cultural genocide. But on the other hand, in 1948, the majority of the countries that are now members of the United Nations were still overseas colonies of the European powers. Had they been involved in negotiating the Genocide Convention, they would probably have brought their own experiences and priorities to the table and we may have ended up with a different definition of genocide. Now that did not happen, but it’s important to bear in mind that for people who have been subject to colonial domination, maintaining their identity is as important as physical survival.”
16 Indigenous movers and shakers to watch in 2016
It takes a lot of people to make the world go around. Some people are putting their best foot forward to make sure it moves in the right direction. 2016 promises to be a big year for First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit peoples across the country.
APTN National News created a list of Indigenous movers and shakers that we predict will be doing big things in the coming year. Here is the list of exceptional up and comers in alphabetical order:
Celine Cooper: Reconciliation with First Nations should be a national priority
“What does reconciliation look like? Does it matter to you?”
(Montreal Gazette) As Canadians come to terms with the truths of the residential school era and its harmful legacy, renewing the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples will be one of the most important commitments the federal government can make both now and in the foreseeable future. We are all on this journey together.
To me, part of moving toward reconciliation means changing the way we think and talk about Canada, our shared history and future.
Yes, it matters.
Missing and murdered indigenous women: 1st phase of national public inquiry outlined today
Ministers to spend next 2 months consulting with families of missing, murdered indigenous women
“I am pleased to announce that the government of Canada is launching its first phase of the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said at a news conference Tuesday on Parliament Hill.
22 cases added to CBC’s MMIW database
Trudeau presents 5-point plan at special meeting of AFN chiefs
More coverage on missing and murdered indigenous women
“As a first step, we will meet with the families in the national capital region with the goal of hearing their views on the design of the inquiry and what it needs to achieve.
“And over the next two months, we will hear from more families, other indigenous peoples, national aboriginal organizations and a range of front-line services workers and others,” Wilson-Raybould said.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said today’s announcement will set a new tone for “a collaborative, inclusive” process.
Liberals reveal first details of inquiry into missing and murdered
(Globe & Mail) Tuesday’s announcement … marks the first step toward an inquiry that indigenous leaders hope will culminate in concrete action and a better understanding of the systemic issues at play. It comes more than a year after the RCMP released an unprecedented report that found 1,181 aboriginal women were killed or went missing between 1980 and 2012.
Dr. Bennett, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu all spoke of the need to address the systemic factors that render indigenous women and girls disproportionately more vulnerable to violence. These include poverty, poor housing, lack of access to potable water, low-quality education and unemployment, as well as historic ills such as the residential-school system and colonialism.
Algonquin leader Claudette Comanda led the announcement with a prayer and a moment of silence for the indigenous women and girls who have been lost. The image of a red dress – an increasingly ubiquitous symbol of this country’s missing and murdered indigenous women – was also on display.
Throne speech heralds hope of new relationship with Aboriginal Peoples
(CP via iPolitics) The newly elected government’s first speech from the throne, delivered in the Senate chamber by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, heralded the start of a new partnership with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.
“Because it is both the right thing to do and a certain path to economic growth, the government will undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples — one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership,” Johnston said.
The government will work jointly to implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which explored the dark legacy of Canada’s now-defunct residential school system.
Uncivil dialogue: Commenting and stories about indigenous people
(CBC) Today we made the difficult decision to temporarily close comments on stories about indigenous people. …
We’ve noticed over many months that these stories draw a disproportionate number of comments that cross the line and violate our guidelines. Some of the violations are obvious, some not so obvious; some comments are clearly hateful and vitriolic, some are simply ignorant. And some appear to be hate disguised as ignorance (i.e., racist sentiments expressed in benign language).
This comes at the same time CBC News has made a concerted effort to connect with indigenous communities in order to improve our journalism and better reflect these communities to a national audience. The success of our Aboriginal unit and our investigative journalism around missing and murdered indigenous women are just two examples of that commitment.
We don’t want violations of our guidelines by a small minority of our commenters to derail our good work or alienate our audience. So we’re taking a pause to see if we can put some structure around this. We will reopen comments as soon as possible.
A Movement Rises
How did inequality within indigenous communities — the most serious, current consequence being the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women — creep from out of mind to front of news coverage? It involved much determination, passion, and love. Journalist Angela Sterritt brings to life six stories from a movement finally resonating in Canada.
(Open Canada) Understanding the complex, underlying discrimination around this issue in Canada is an important part of the solution — and the recommendations from the recent Truth and Reconciliation report are part of that — but shining a spotlight on the family members and activists who have been at the crux of this story is paramount.
Feds pledge to implement UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(National Observer) Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett pledged this week to include First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in every decision affecting their land, bringing Canada into line with the UN declaration. The Liberal approach marks a complete U-turn from the former Conservative government, who maintained that the declaration’s commitment to “free, prior and informed consent” was problematic, as they believed it would give a possible veto to Indigenous groups.
Her conciliatory remarks build on a statement by her boss, Justin Trudeau, who said, “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples.”
Jeffrey Simpson: Despite top court ruling, native land claims still a thorny issue
More than a year has passed since the Tsilhqot’in decision, and everyone has a different interpretation of where it will or should lead. The decision’s implications will colour what two new federal ministers do in their portfolios: Carolyn Bennett in Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Jody Wilson-Raybould in Justice.
Leaders of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and representatives of the First Nations Summit and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations argue that the Tsilhqot’in ruling gives aboriginals title over all of British Columbia, not just pieces where the courts decide title exists.
In their “four principles” put before the B.C. government they affirmed that post-Tsilhqot’in, “relationships are based on … Indigenous peoples’ inherent title and rights, and pre-Confederation, historic and modern treaties, throughout British Columbia.” From now on, they say, the B.C. government needs to establish “relationships, negotiations and agreements” for just about everything the province might want to do “throughout” because what is now B.C. was entirely aboriginal land before the Crown asserted sovereignty.
They further assert that title is not contingent on being recognized by the Crown. It exists everywhere. Since the land belongs to aboriginals, the Crown can only infringe on that land “in a manner aimed at furthering reconciliation consistent with the fiduciary obligation owed the aboriginal group. That is the only power – the only jurisdictional foundation – that remains for provincial action over aboriginal title lands.”
A pitfall or two on the road to reconciliation with First Nations
(Globe editorial) Carolyn Bennett was a good, assiduous Liberal critic on what was then called aboriginal affairs. Now she is the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, a portfolio that has a fair share of pitfalls.
Wisely, she is not taking literally the Liberal platform’s promise to “immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls,” known as MMIW. Instead, she wants to consult the families of the victims first.
Not so wisely, Ms. Bennett wants to model her inquiry on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, published in 1996. One of the virtues of an MMIW inquiry will be (we trust) an intense focus on a quite specific pathology and a dreadful tragedy. …
On Wednesday, someone said to Ms. Bennett, “Consider yourself to be the minister of reconciliation.” It was a moving remark; let’s hope she does contribute to harmony.
But the word “reconciliation” now has a particularly charged meaning. The Liberal platform promises to enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, though many of them do not lend themselves to being enacted as law.
Specifically, the platform promises to legally bind Canada to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes a right to self-determination and “the right to determine their political status.”
Ms. Bennett’s colleague Stéphane Dion, now the Minister of Foreign Affairs, should take a careful look at this. Back in 1999, he was the author of the Clarity Act, on secession, limiting claims to the right of a province to self-determination. At the time, this was of course about Quebec. It would be surprising if Mr. Dion, in his new role, thinks an international treaty such as UNDRIP should entitle an indigenous First Nation, or reserve, to claim unilateral secession from Canada.
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Jody Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer, advocate, and leader among British Columbia’s First Nations. As Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, Jody brings extensive experience in law, public service, and First Nations governance to the Liberal team.
Jody is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw and also known as the Kwak’wala speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation and is married to Dr. Tim Raybould.
Hon. Hunter Tootoo
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
First elected as the MLA for Iqaluit Centre in 1999, Hunter served its residents for fourteen years and was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly until 2013. Hunter has a deep understanding of the challenges facing Nunavut, having held numerous cabinet positions, including Minister Responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, Homelessness, the Qulliq Energy Corporation, and Minister of Education.
‘Harper awoke a sleeping giant’: First Nations break election records
(CTV News) Monday’s election was historic for Canada’s First Nations community, which saw 10 indigenous MPs elected.
Winners included Liberals Vance Badawey, who was elected in Niagara Centre, and Yvonne Jones, who was re-elected in Labrador.
The election also saw a record-breaking 54 indigenous candidates run for office.
Each candidate ran in one of the 51 swing ridings identified by Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, where he said the aboriginal vote could make a difference between a majority and minority government.
Among the major Conservative upsets Monday night was Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who was ousted by Liberal candidate Rene Arsenault in his New Brunswick riding of Madawaska-Restigouche.
At least five first nations reportedly needed extra ballots brought in to accommodate the numbers.
Wab Kinew, et al.: Make reconciliation an election issue
(National Post) The last three federal leaders debates, covering topics as varied as the economy and foreign affairs, had a gaping blind spot: there was no meaningful discussion of the challenges facing indigenous people and their communities.
When the work of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) came to a close this June, the breadth of news coverage it received gave us hope that our country was finally at a turning point and might begin to use the acknowledgement of Canada’s dark and discriminatory past to address the economic, social and cultural struggles faced by too many aboriginal people. And yet, the issue seems to have been omitted from the public debates informing our upcoming election choices.
As honorary witnesses to the TRC and members of civil society from across Canada’s political spectrum, we urge all voting Canadians to make reconciliation an issue at the ballot box next month. And we call upon all Canadians to demand that all political parties explain their plans to finally change this country’s course.
We believe that rebuilding trust and forging new relationships based on mutual respect should be a centrepiece of a governing agenda for any political party vying for votes on Oct. 19.
“In the pipelines’ path: Canada’s First Nations lead resistance”
(The Montreal Gazette) Even as oil prices continue their months-long slide, there are four major pipeline projects in the works across Canada — totalling more than $34 billion in investments — that would link the Alberta oilsands to markets across the globe. And while the projects inch forward, some legal experts say the country’s indigenous peoples represent the only real threat to their development. […]
Through a series of hard-won court battles in the ’80s and ’90s, indigenous peoples have enshrined environmental protection into Canadian law. Under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, the federal government has an obligation to consult with and accommodate First Nations affected by pipelines that pass through or near their territory.
The Crown delegates its consultation duties to the National Energy Board — a regulatory body where half the members once drew a paycheque from the oil, gas and pipeline sector. So while the consultation system isn’t perfect, it does provide the only real legal framework for people opposed to the pipeline.
“Whenever there’s been arguments in law about environmental issues, it’s a bit of a crapshoot,” said Signa Daum Shanks, who teaches aboriginal rights classes at York University’s Osgoode Law School. “There’s no language in the Constitution, no real phrases that guarantee environmental protection. But there is Section 35, and there’s no way around that. …
“The interests of British Columbians in not having this pipeline [Northern Gateway] and these tankers on our coast are aligned with the interests of First Nations,” says Tim Pearson, a spokesperson for Sierra Club. “We see that, it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but First Nations court challenges are, arguably, the best way to stop these pipelines.”
Ashley Burnham, Mrs. Universe, Urges Aboriginal People To Vote Out Harper
(HuffPost) Burnham, 25, is from the Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton. An actress on the APTN show Blackstone, she is better known by her maiden name, Ashley Callingbull.
This year’s contest in Minsk, Belarus was dedicated to the topic of combating domestic violence. Burnham has spoken publicly about enduring physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather as a girl.
On Monday, she told APTN’s Brandi Morin that she wants the federal Tories defeated, in part, because of their approach to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. She also accused the Harper government of having an adversarial and “controlling” attitude toward First Nations.
Native Vote Could Make The Difference In Canada’s Elections
(HuffPost) The Assembly of First Nations, which represents more than 900,000 status Indians hailing from 634 native communities across Canada, has identified 51 ridings where the native vote could swing the election.
“[O]f course, that can make and mean the difference between a majority government and a minority government,” AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde told The Huffington Post. “Our issues matter, our voices matter and our vote counts.”
The impact of Idle No More continues to reverberate in native communities across Canada, and in the run-up to the election, Mulcair’s NDP and Trudeau’s Liberals have tried to turn native frustrations with Harper into votes for their respective parties.
Both opposition leaders spoke at last month’s AFN general assembly, taking shots at the Conservatives and making promises to promote reconciliation in line with the findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released this year on widespread abuses in residential schools that many native people were forced to attend. The last such school was closed in 1996. …
Now — less than two months before the election — Charlie Angus, NDP MP for the Northern Ontario constituency of Timmins–James Bay and identified by Maclean’s magazine as one of the 25 most powerful Canadians in 2012, is coming out with a new book, Children of the Broken Treaty. The book details the fight for aboriginal education rights in the Cree community of Attawapiskat, which is covered by Treaty 9 in Northern Ontario.
Although Angus said that winning the native vote was not his intention with Children of the Broken Treaty, the publication of a book by a prominent NDP member suggests that native issues and native voters will be important to this campaign.
What the four federal parties have promised Indigenous voters so far
TransCanada funds First Nations engagement meetings over Energy East pipeline
A new agreement signed by pipeline giant TransCanada with a group representing Ontario First Nations has raised alarms that the oil and gas industry is trying to buy social license in order to build its Energy East pipeline.
Grand Council Treaty 3 — representing 21 First Nations across Ontario — entered into a Communication Engagement and Funding Agreement (CEFA) with TransCanada, in which the company would pay $717,500 over 2015 and 2016 for communications and engagement relating to Energy East.
TransCanada called the agreement a “first important step,” though Grand Chief Warren White (Ogichidaa) of Ontario’s Anishinaabe Nation said in a news release that it doesn’t mean Council is on board with the pipeline project.
UN Report On Canada’s Human Rights Record A ‘Wake-Up Call’
(HuffPost) The United Nations Human Rights Committee has accused Canada of failing to take effective action on a range of issues, including missing and murdered aboriginal women, political audits of charities, and the federal government’s anti-terror legislation.
The report, published Thursday, is the first substantive review of the country’s human rights record under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
“This should be seen as a wake-up call by governments and courts in Canada that increasingly serious violations of civil and political rights in Canada can no longer be tolerated,” said Canada Without Poverty president Harriett MacLachlan. …
The report also highlights pressure on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into the more than 1,200 aboriginal women and girls reported missing or murdered over the last 35 years.
Referring to Canada’s failure to provide adequate and effective respond to the issue, the committee said it was “a matter of priority” to establish an inquiry into the lack of adequate measures taken to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible.
It’s the second such call from the UN after James Anaya, special rapporteur on indigenous rights, urged Ottawa to set up a national inquiry into the “disturbing phenomenon” two years earlier.
Although many of the report’s recommendations are not new, it is the latest call to action for the Harper government to address its relationship with Canada’s aboriginal peoples, according to the Assembly of First Nations.
“It is significant that a report on human rights in Canada by independent experts focuses so much on indigenous peoples and rights and this speaks to the extent of the challenges and the need to address them,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a release.
Gordon Gibson: The claims are just. But the Supreme Court ruling means chaos
This commentary does not dispute the justice of First Nations claims, nor give any credit to governmental wisdom. The treatment of our First Nations has been awful. For four years, I sat on the Gitxsan Nation’s side of a treaty table and will say without hesitation that governments were not bargaining in good faith. Our proposals were imaginative and negotiable. The government representatives’ mandates are narrow and inflexible – everyone agrees with that. The blame for the current situation lies squarely in the fat laps of governments.
(Globe & Mail) The Supreme Court’s Tsilhqot’in Nation decision marks a very dark day for the economy of British Columbia. A new era of chaotic jockeying will open among First Nations, governments and resource proponents, casting a pall over a basic economic driver of the province. Here’s why.
… The Supreme Court has now defined aboriginal title in an expansive way. Title confers the exclusive right to control that land in a much stronger manner than ordinary Canadians with private property. Any activity on that land must have consent from the relevant nation. (This award of 1,700 square kilometres was to a small subgroup of the Tsilhqot’in Nation. There are about 200 Indian Act Bands in British Columbia.)The key word is “consent.” The old rule was “consultation and accommodation if required.” Lacking consent, governments still have a right to “infringe” on title in certain circumstances but must pass high hurdles of justification – another recipe for litigation.
The upshot will be that major resource projects, pipelines, mines and the like will face the kind of uncertainty that investors hate. (The new certainty will be more litigation.) Many projects will simply be abandoned and new opportunities will be spurned.
Enbridge dead, LNG delayed by ‘historic’ Supreme Court ruling: Aboriginal leaders
Stock watchers and Aboriginal leaders weigh in on the historic impact of a landmark legal decision, granting Aboriginals more control over pipeline and resource developments
History-making, because the Supreme Court now requires oil, gas, mining and other resource developers to first seek the consent of First Nations. Until now, courts only obliged industry and government to ensure Aboriginal parties were consulting with, and accommodated.
Truth and Reconciliation recommendations possible, if the political will exists: Hébert
Inertia has increasingly become the default response of governments to both emerging and enduring challenges. And that begs one question: When did Canada lose the political will to change its ways?
(Toronto Star) Underwhelmed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s non-committal response to the remedial prescriptions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Consider this: When Jean Chrétien was handed a similarly devastating royal commission report, it took him a year to respond with a formal apology for the mistreatment of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.
It was another seven years before the ruling Liberals put together a comprehensive action plan.
Set up in the dying days of Brian Mulroney’s tenure, the royal commission headed by George Erasmus and René Dussault spent five years on the report it handed the Chrétien government in 1996.
At 4,000 pages, it set a royal commission record as the most voluminous of its kind.
The fiscal climate was not auspicious for the 20-year plan the Dussault-Erasmus commission put forward in 1996. The federal budget was still awash in red ink. The report came a year after the Quebec referendum, at a time when the Chrétien government had its hands full with the unity file. It was almost another decade before the federal government under Paul Martin teamed up with the provinces and the aboriginal leadership to come up with a comprehensive response. By that time, Canada has raked in budget surpluses for a number of years. Among other things, the ruling Liberals delivered tax cuts for all, a new child benefit for families, a major reinvestment in health care and seed money for a national childcare initiative before they turned their attention to the aboriginal file and the 2005 negotiation of the Kelowna Accord.
Education the first step to reconciliation
It’s time to develop and implement a curriculum on residential schools, treaties, and Aboriginal Peoples’ contributions to Canada.
By: Wab Kinew, Eloge Butera and Jonathan Sas
(Toronto Star) The mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has come to an end, and in its wake a historic opportunity for Canada opens — the opportunity to build a shared future together, one where good relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians replace the fractured and distrustful solitudes that prevail today.
As the three youngest honorary witnesses inducted over the commission’s six years, our duty to make good on building this shared future now begins.
We are a child of residential school survivors, a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, and a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission
PM Harper won’t implement TRC recommendation on UN declaration on Indigenous peoples
(APTN National News) Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaled Tuesday his government would not be implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People despite a call for the move from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report released earlier in the day.
Harper also refused to back the conclusion of the commission which determined Indian residential schools were a main tool used by the Canadian government in its policy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.
The TRC released a summary of its final report in a ceremony that included a speech from Chair Murray Sinclair who called on Ottawa to implement the UN declaration as a way to begin reconciliation. Sinclair also said Harper’s 2008 apology for residential school rings hollow today because the federal government has done little to work toward reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission urges Canada to confront ‘cultural genocide’ of residential schools
Testimony from thousands of residential school survivors leads to 94 recommendations
Canada needs to move from “apology to action” if reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples is to succeed, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says in its final report, which includes 94 recommendations for change in policies, programs and the “way we talk to, and about, each other.”
Truth and Reconciliation: Aboriginal people conflicted as commission wraps up after 6 years
#MyReconciliationIncludes hashtag shows skepticism many Aboriginal Peoples have
(CBC) After six years of travelling the country to hear testimony from 7,000 witnesses about their experiences at residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wraps up this week in Ottawa.
The final event kicked off yesterday with thousands of people participating in a reconciliation walk through the nation’s capital. The summary of the commission’s report will be released Tuesday. …
When the commission began in June 2010, there were high hopes it would help repair the relationship between aboriginal people and the rest of Canada. However, as the TRC winds down, many seem conflicted about the state of reconciliation in Canada.
About 150,000 children attended residential school over more than 100 years, starting in 1880s until the last school was closed in 1996. Many students as young children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to the schools to live. The commission heard thousands of statements about their experiences, which often included emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Truth And Reconciliation Commission Chair: Confront Ugly Truth Of Residential Schools
(HuffPost) The time for frank apologies for Canada’s treatment of its first peoples is over and must make way for a change in behaviour, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said on the eve of his long-awaited report’s release.
Residential schools findings point to ‘cultural genocide,’ commission chair says
At least 6,000 aboriginal children died while in the residential school system, says Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Sinclair, who has been tasked with studying the legacy of the residential schools, says that the figure is just an estimate and is likely much higher. Residential schools were established in the 19th century and the last ones closed in 1996.
Sinclair, who was Manitoba’s first aboriginal judge, said one estimate made in the early part of the 20th century was that 24 to 42 per cent of aboriginal children who attended the residential schools died at school or shortly after leaving school.
Chief Justice says Canada attempted ‘cultural genocide’ on aboriginals
(Globe & Mail) Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin says Canada attempted to commit “cultural genocide” against aboriginal peoples, in what she calls the worst stain on Canada’s human-rights record.
Genocide – an attempt to destroy a people, in whole or part – is a crime under international law. The United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, does not use the phrase “cultural genocide,” but says genocide may include causing serious mental harm to a group.
See also Canada and The First Nations — Treaty relationship must evolve and Ring of Fire News
Young indigenous leaders: 5 under 30 to watch in 2015 –The next generation of indigenous movers and shakers are making great strides
Staking Claim is a multi-part series exploring the proposed Ontario Ring of Fire mining development in Ontario and how the First Nations communities are preparing for economic activity and the environmental and societal consequences of Canada’s next resource rush.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper started off on a combative note, after winning power in 2006, by effectively [undoing the Kelowna agreement], a complex deal worked out by then-prime minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government and the leaders of five national Aboriginal organizations that would have seen $5 billion spent over a decade on social and economic initiatives. But in 2008, Harper seemed to set a more conciliatory tone by issuing an historic apology to former students in Indian residential schools for that disgraceful period in Canadian history. Searching for a balance on Aboriginal affairs, Maclean’s April 2012
Canadian government pushing First Nations to give up land rights for oil and gas profits
(The Guardian) Harper government organized private meetings between oil firms and Indigenous chiefs to try and gain support for oil and gas pipelines and other investments located on their lands, documents reveal
Funded by the federal government, the Working Group on Natural Resource Development held private meetings in Toronto and Edmonton in the fall of 2014 that were attended by several invited Chiefs and representatives from Enbridge, Syncrude and other oil corporations, as well as mining companies and business lobby groups.
In one email, a government official writes that it was “widely agreed” at the meetings that “unlocking resource development projects is squarely in the national interest,” a suggestion that will be contested by many First Nations involved in mounting protests against pipelines and other industrial projects around the country.
It was “noted repeatedly” that “we can no longer afford the investment uncertainty created by issues around Aboriginal participation,” the official writes. The transcripts of the meetings were redacted in the documents, which were obtained through access-to-information.
The case studies cited from “expert bodies” include a Fraser Institute report entitled “Opportunities for First Nations Prosperity Through Oil and Gas Development.” The right-wing think tank has been heavily funded by the American Koch brothers, who are one of the largest owners, purchasers and refiners of the Alberta tar sands.
Stephen Maher: Harper and aboriginals not in same room, let alone on same page
On Friday afternoon, Stephen Harper went to Rideau Hall to present the Public Service of Canada’s Outstanding Achievement Award to Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister of trade.
The prime minister did not have time, or judge it appropriate, to attend another event taking place in Ottawa: the national roundtable on missing and murdered aboriginal women, which took place in a downtown hotel. …
Aboriginal leaders sat down with provincial representatives, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, and two federal ministers, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch.
They listened to the relatives of missing and murdered aboriginal women, adopted a vague framework for action and agreed to meet again next year (emphasis added).
Q and A: Kimberly Pate, an advocate for women and champion for social justice
Kimberly Pate has spent a lifetime advocating on behalf of women who are marginalized, victimized or incarcerated.
(Ottawa Citizen) Described by the Governor General’s office as an outspoken champion for social justice, Pate has worked to improve conditions for women in prison and support their reintegration into society as the executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. She has also shed light on the special needs of Aboriginal women, who are overrepresented in Canadian federal prisons, and those with mental health issues. Pate has also contributed to national and international policy discussions on women in the criminal justice system through her research, writings and volunteerism, according to the Governor General’s office.
Paul Martin: Indigenous thought belongs in the classroom
When it comes to the reality of indigenous life in Canada, no issue can be deemed the most important. But if I were to single out one action that has too long been ignored, it would be to repair the mistake that was made by colonial governments who, believing that native culture had no value, assumed its people had nothing to say.
This false assumption has contributed grievously to the wrong and repeated attempts to assimilate the First Nations, which is a root cause of so much of the poverty and missed opportunity we see today. From outlawing traditional ceremonies to the horrors of residential schools, the history of Canada is fraught with examples of a culturally genocidal dismissal of First Nations values and sense of worth, a policy of unconscionable discrimination that continues apace. For example, it can be seen in the current case before the Human Rights Tribunal on the underfunding of child welfare on-reserve, where one out of every two children already lives below the poverty line, and in the current underfunding of schools on-reserve as a result of the government’s expropriation of the new education monies provided in the 2006 Kelowna Accord.
What if First Nations (and their poverty) were counted?
Kudos to the Globe and Mail for their front page story on Jan 23rd highlighting the fact that the official unemployment rate does not count First Nations reserves. You heard that right: First Nations reserves, some of the poorest places in the country, are not included in the official unemployment rate.
As unbelievable as that sounds, the reality is even worse. Reserves are regularly excluded from all of our regularly updated measures of poverty, wage growth, average incomes etc. The exception to this rule is during a Census, i.e. every four years (and as a result of legislation making the long form Census voluntary, concerns have been raised about the future reliability of these data). Otherwise, reserves—some of the poorest places in Canada–are statistic-free zones: out of sight…out of mind.
You can build a better Canada, or you can get out of the way
Don’t see the problem? Then perhaps you are part of it, writes Scott Gilmore
(Macleans’s) This week, Maclean’s published a powerful piece of journalism. Nancy Macdonald wrote about her hometown, Winnipeg, and the terrible conditions under which some of its Aboriginal citizens live.
In some ways, Macdonald’s article is about two kinds of Canadians. Mayor Bowman exemplifies the first type. When he looks around, he sees poverty, injustice and pain, but he also sees hope and a potential for great things. He resolves to work harder, to achieve more, and to build a better city. Macdonald’s story is filled with people like him who acknowledge there are problems and work hard to fix them. These are the people who built Canada.
The other kind, by contrast, are people like Wheeler. When they see a problem, they first deny it exists. Then they make an excuse. They explain it’s not their responsibility. They blame someone else. They attack those who would suggest things could be better, and question those people’s loyalty and patriotism. A Third World population in the midst of a wealthy country like Canada doesn’t just happen. It requires people like this. It requires denial, indifference, ignorance, and wilful blindness.
To those people we all need to patiently and slowly say this: Canada does have a race problem. It persists because of people like you. We don’t expect you to help fix it. But as better men like Bowman try, the least you can do is get out of the way.
Michael [Enwright]’s essay – Why Maclean’s has done us all a great service
If nothing else, the story re-ignites in the minds of its readers, and really all Canadians, how badly the country has failed its aboriginal people. It conveys what it is like to be aboriginal in one province. It holds nothing back.
It should be read by every politician – and every journalist – in the country. (The Sunday Edition)
Maclean’s claim that Winnipeg is Canada’s most racist city upsets mayor
Magazine alleges city’s First Nations residents suffer ‘daily indignities and horrific violence’
Winnipeg’s mayor choked back tears as he began to address the media today about claims by Maclean’s magazine that his city is the most racist in Canada.
“My wife is Ukrainian. I am Métis. I want my boys to be as proud of both those family lines — to be proud of Winnipeg, to be proud of who you are,” Brian Bowman said, surrounded in the city hall foyer by prominent community leaders.
“We have come together to face this head-on as a community,” Bowman added, noting that Winnipeg exists on what is traditional Treaty One territory.