Canada and Indigenous peoples 2017 – 2019

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16 Indigenous movers and shakers to watch in 2016

1 December
Former top public servant calls on western premiers to settle outstanding Indigenous land claims
Michael Wernick, former clerk of the Privy Council and deputy minister of Aboriginal and northern affairs, worked on Indigenous issues for 34 years in the federal government.
(CBC) Canada’s former top federal public servant says uncertainty over Indigenous land title in the West is holding back the regional economy — and is calling on three regional premiers to commit to settling the issue within five years.
Michael Wernick, who retired in April as clerk of the Privy Council amid the SNC-Lavalin affair, recently delivered the frank advice during a Nov. 27 speech to the the progressive think tank Canada 2020 during a forum on Indigenous economic development, which he expanded on in an interview last week with CBC News.
“To premiers [Jason] Kenney, [Scott] Moe, [Brian] Pallister, uncertainty about Aboriginal title [is] pulling back economic growth in your provinces,” Wernick said.
“Let’s clarify who owns what across the West. Let’s expand the Indigenous land base to its rightful dimensions.”
Wernick said the premiers are pointing the finger at the federal government and stalling talks on settling outstanding claims over treaty lands that were promised to First Nations but never handed over.

30 November
New England’s drive for Canadian hydropower threatens native population’s way of life (Part 1 of 2)
(Valley News, New Hampshire) Amid the last 20 years of worsening impacts from climate change, environmentalists in the Twin States have scrambled to push state leadership toward ambitious renewable energy goals.
And a key component of meeting those goals has been Canadian hydropower, a cost-effective, reliable resource that is often billed as clean, green energy.
But hundreds of miles to the north, indigenous residents say the “green” power purchased by New Englanders comes at a great cost to native communities’ local environment, livelihoods and their very well-being.

16 November
B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain
(CTV) Two First Nations in British Columbia’s Interior that had been part of a court challenge against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have reversed course and signed deals with the Crown corporation.
The Upper Nicola Band and Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc dropped out of the Federal Court of Appeal litigation, leaving four B.C. First Nations to fight the case.
The Upper Nicola says in a joint news release with Trans Mountain on Friday that its deal represents a “significant step forward” toward addressing environmental, archaeological and cultural heritage concerns.
It says the agreement provides resources to support its active involvement in emergency response and monitoring while also helping avoid and mitigate impacts on the band’s interests and stewardship areas.
A news release from Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc says its leadership came together and determined an agreement could be a tool used as part of a larger strategy to protect its cultural, spiritual and historical connections to the land.

5 November
Squamish Nation’s planned development on traditional land in Vancouver doubles in size, includes 11 towers
(Globe & Mail) The Senakw development, to be built on part of the traditional land of the Squamish Nation in the neighbourhood now known as Kitsilano, across the False Creek inlet west of downtown Vancouver, will bring a level of density and building style to the area unlike anything there now.
The City of Vancouver would have very little influence on the plan, because the land is owned by the Squamish Nation and not subject to local zoning or bylaws. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has called the housing project an opportunity to demonstrate the city’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

31 October
Quebec Cree launch $1M internship fund to bring graduates home
Quebec Cree launch a $1 million internship fund as part of capacity building work to help youth develop to their full potential and benefit from an estimated 10,000 jobs available in public and private sector in Eeyou Istchee
(CBC) Bosum says he estimates as many as 10,000 jobs have been created in public and private sectors in Eeyou Istchee as a result of agreements and progress in the Cree Nation since the mid-1970s, with many more jobs on the way as a result of infrastructure projects.
He wants to see more of those jobs filled by Cree people.
“If the Cree Nation does not take advantage of these opportunities, they will be seized by others, and we will be passive observers. This is not what we want,” said Bosum, who launched capacity building efforts back in 2013, before being elected grand chief.

24 October
A very long book review and analysis of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s guiding philosophy. Certainly controversial, but worth reading.
A Separateness that’s Anything but Equal
By
(C2C) By now, Jody Wilson-Raybould needs no introduction. She is best known to the Canadian public as the determined Minister of Justice who stood up to the repeated pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his most senior people as they attempted to convince her to change her mind in the convoluted SNC-Lavalin affair. That scandal and her firing have made “JWR” part of Canadian history. She is widely admired by a Canadian public sympathetic to a proud Indigenous woman who stood up to powerful men. Now that she has retained her seat as an Independent – a rarity in Canada – it is certain we will hear a lot more from the member for Vancouver-Granville.
Wilson-Raybould has written a book, From Where I Stand: Rebuilding Indigenous Nations for a Stronger Canada. It opens with a very brief Foreword by Senator Murray Sinclair and a slightly longer but still slim Introduction by the author. From there it is entirely a collection of speeches she gave throughout her career.
… All of the book’s speeches evince a determination to have Indigenous people be regarded as different from everyone else. Wilson-Raybould insists that Indigenous people are so different from all other ethnic groups that they need their own laws and even their own economic systems. But she doesn’t explain her radical position. That is because she can’t. Indigenous people are people with a different history. How or why that different history makes necessary the separate systems that Wilson-Raybould insists on is neither explained nor even mentioned. It is simply assumed and considered proven because Indigenous advocates say it is so.
If this weren’t enough, Wilson-Raybould insists that each of Canada’s 600-plus First Nations be entitled to an individually crafted legal system. She does suggest – echoing the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples – that they consolidate into 80 or so larger units. Not one “nation” has since chosen to do that, however, and there is little reason to believe that Wilson-Raybould’s current recommendation will change things. Virtually nobody vested in the current system is willing to give up the, jobs, power, salaries and budgets that consolidation would eliminate.
… Drafted under Wilson-Raybould, it was brought informally and surreptitiously into force in 2017. It greatly constrains Department of Justice legal teams in their defence against Indigenous claims, no matter how expansive, and in settlement negotiations.
The Practice Directive’s 20 points changed the normal litigation rules by directing that “reconciliation” be the end goal of all such cases and that settlements satisfactory to the Indigenous plaintiffs be sought as a matter of policy. In the words of one anonymous senior Justice Department lawyer, it directed his colleagues “to litigate badly”. The Practice Directive seriously affected major claims even before it was formally implemented, such as the Restoule and Bruce Peninsula cases (covered in the linked C2C Journal articles).

19 October
Drawn From Poverty: Art Was Supposed to Save Canada’s Inuit. It Hasn’t.
By Catherine Porter, Canada bureau chief for The New York Times
Indigenous work is all the rage in the Canadian art world. But life in the North is as much a struggle as ever.
The country is going through a period of atonement for its history of racism. While much of the world has turned inward, becoming more xenophobic, Canada has been consumed with making amends.
Public meetings across the country routinely start with an acknowledgment that they are standing on traditional Indigenous lands. In history classes, Canada’s young learn about their government’s systematic attempts to erase Indigenous cultures. Buildings have been renamed, street signs changed and in one city, a statue of the country’s first prime minister removed.
Canadians call this “reconciliation,” and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces a tight re-election vote on Monday, has made it central to his government and image.
… Cape Dorset — a community of about 1,400 on a bay cradled by low-lying, bald mountains — is synonymous in Canadian minds with art. Local artists churn out works that decorate the walls of corporate headquarters and the homes of the well-off. Cape Dorset prints are featured on Canadian stamps and currency. Its sculptures are the standard gift of Canadian diplomats. If any town could slip the bonds of poverty that have defined Indigenous life in Canada for so long, it should be Cape Dorset. Instead, it reflects the vast disconnect between the country’s aspirations and the grim reality on the ground.

4 October
Trudeau government seeks judicial review of tribunal decision to compensate First Nations kids
The move comes 2 weeks before the election and days before the English-language debate
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government on Sept. 6 to pay $40,000 — the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act — to each child taken from homes and communities under the on-reserve child welfare system from Jan. 1, 2006, to a date to be determined by the tribunal.
The ruling also directed Ottawa to compensate some of the parents and grandparents of children who were apprehended.
The decision could leave the federal government on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation.
Trudeau said he is not challenging the tribunal’s conclusion that compensation should be awarded.
“We need to compensate those who’ve been harmed, but the question is how to do that,” Trudeau said in Saint-Anaclet, Que., Friday. “We need to have conversations with partners, we need to have conversations with communities, with leaders to make sure we’re getting that compensation right. Those are conversations that we cannot have during a writ period.”
But that’s not what his government’s application says.

26 September

Autumn Peltier, 13, speaks in the General Assembly for the launch of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, March 22, 2018,
UN Photo/Manuel Elias/The Associated Press

Autumn Peltier, 15, to address United Nations about water issues in First Nations communities across Canada
(Globe & Mail) There are things about Canada that Autumn Peltier can’t accept. Children growing up without access to drinkable tap water. Seventy-year-olds having to walk every day to claim water rations. Entire communities unable to shower without risking possible exposure to a carcinogen.
These are stories she hears from across the country. At 15, Autumn, the Anishinabek Nation chief water commissioner, has spent nearly half her life fighting against these injustices.
There are 56 First Nations communities across Canada under long-term boil-water advisories, the longest of which have lasted nearly 25 years. Worse, some types of contaminations are resistant to being boiled. Others don’t even need to be consumed to be toxic, such as trihalomethanes (THMs), which recently forced Northern Ontario First Nations community Attawapiskat to declare a state of emergency. THMs are linked to an elevated risk of cancer. They can be absorbed through the skin, making showering and even washing your hands a danger.
Autumn travelled to New York this week to speak at the Indigenous march within Friday’s climate strike. She will also deliver a speech at the Global Landscapes Forum at the United Nations on Saturday. This will be her second speech at the UN in as many years.

5 September
Colin Alexander: Canada Fails Churchill’s Test
When the minister in charge of prisons in England, Winston Churchill wrote: “The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.”
(Frontier Centre for Public Policy) With an immensely disproportionate number of Indigenous inmates, jails are the new residential schools—only worse.
Neither the Truth and Reconciliation report on residential schools nor the Murdered and Missing Women’s report delivered recommendations, as they were mandated to do, for fixing systemic causes of marginalization. It eluded both inquiries that educated and skilled people in or preparing for rewarding employment seldom commit suicide, are seldom murder victims and seldom disappear. And they seldom go to jail. The TRC report exaggerated the horrors, real as some once were, as well as the numbers enrolled. So now the uninformed blame all ills on those schools. It ignored successes, like a few federal cabinet ministers, and the Inuit thoracic surgeon who graduated in Inuvik. Later, a debate in the Senate about women in prison delivered nothing useful.
Success or failure for schools, and jails, depends on how they actually function. The formative years for TRC commissioner Murray Sinclair, MMIW commissioner Marion Buller and Canada’s Senators enabled them for rewarding employment in the high-tech economy. So why don’t they demand what they had for Indigenous youth and prison inmates?

7 August
Oka calls for moratorium on land transfer to Kanesatake
The Quebec town of Oka is calling on the federal government to impose a moratorium on the proposed transfer of lands to the neighbouring community of Kanesatake.
It is also asking for an RCMP detachment to police the Mohawk community.
The proposals were contained in resolutions adopted Tuesday evening addressed to the federal and provincial governments as well as to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.
Mayor Pascal Quevillon held the first public council meeting since tensions mounted after a local developer proposed returning privately held lands to the adjacent Mohawk community, about 50 kilometres west of Montreal.

2 August
Trudeau unveils housing agreement with Nunavut to address housing crisis
The federal government has reached a new housing agreement with Nunavut to help address the housing crisis across the territory, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
“We recognize that this is a big step forward that is going to make a huge difference in creating thousands of homes, and we know this is really going to make a tangible impact in the lives of people here in the North,” Mr. Trudeau said Friday during the second day of his two-day visit to the Far North.
The Prime Minister made the announcement in Iqaluit alongside Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern.
Iqaluit homeless stay in shacks, under overturned boats amid housing crisis

11 July
Developer offers to give land back to First Nation where Oka Crisis happened
Land is a part of The Pines, a forested area important to the Mohawks of Kanesatake
Grégoire Gollin said he’s committed to transferring around 60 hectares of the forest known as The Pines in the spirit of reconciliation, through a federal ecological gifts program.
“As a citizen, I don’t have to wait for the government to do my contribution to reconciliation,” he said.
“My concrete gesture is to initiate giving back to the Kanesatake this piece of forest I own and they value a lot in their heart because it has been planted by their ancestors.”
In 1990, the municipality of Oka, Que., planned to expand a golf course in The Pines, sparking the 78-day standoff known as the Oka Crisis between the people of Kanesatake, the Sû​ré​te du Québec and later the Canadian military. The area is a part of a 300-year-old land dispute over the seigneury of Lake of Two Mountains.
[Mohawk activist Ellen] Gabriel is skeptical of the agreement, as little information on its contents has been given to the community by the Mohawk Council.
History Through Our Eyes: July 11, 1990, the Oka Crisis begins
On July 11, 1990, long-simmering tensions between the Mohawk community at Kanesatake and the town of Oka turned deadly.

4 July
Landmark agreement gives Indigenous ‘forgotten people’ power to self-govern
Three agreements laid groundwork for possible future land claims, reparations and centuries-long grievances for Métis nations
The Métis are one of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, with roots 400 years deep. But although these mixed-race people were descended from Canada’s original inhabitants and French fur traders, they were excluded from negotiations between the federal government and other Indigenous peoples. For more than a century, they had no land and no formal status.
The three agreements signed on Thursday lay the groundwork for possible future land claims, reparations and other settling of centuries-long grievances. At the emotional signing ceremony, Canada’s crown-Indigenous relations minister, Carolyn Bennett, said the government was committed to advancing the self-determination of the Métis.
Today, there are nearly 600,000 Métis living primarily in Ontario and the Canadian west, forming nearly a third of the country’s Indigenous population. Unlike many First Nations, Métis don’t typically live on reserves; but like other Indigenous Canadians, many still face poverty, unemployment and health problems. A lack of official status has made it difficult to address these issues in any structured way.

19 June
Liberals promise government law on Indigenous rights as high-profile bills die in Senate
The Liberal Party’s 2019 platform will include a pledge that the United Nations declaration on Indigenous rights will be applied to Canadian law after the government acknowledged that a private member’s bill to that effect is poised to die before the next election.
In the final parliamentary flurry to pass legislation before the summer recess, the government leader in the Senate, Peter Harder, said Wednesday that several high-profile bills introduced by individual MPs or senators are not going to make it to final votes before the summer break.
Because an election is scheduled for Oct. 21, Parliament is not expected to sit again before the campaign. That would mean all legislation that has not been passed into law will die when the election is called.

14 June
Margaret Wente: Justin Trudeau and the ‘woke’ generation
Should the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women be called a genocide? That question is fuelling much passion. To those of us who define “genocide” as what the Nazis did to the Jews, the idea is offensive. But to a generation of millennials, the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls got it right. As the commissioners wrote in their report, Canada has pursued “a continuous policy, with shifting expressed motives but an ultimately steady intention, to destroy Indigenous peoples physically, biologically, and as social units.” This policy is not just embedded in our history, but is alive and active in the present day.
Not surprisingly, the pushback against the idea of Canada as a genocidal state has been intense. “If we say everything is a genocide, then nothing is a genocide,” said Irwin Cotler, the noted human-rights lawyer. When asked if the term should be applied to Canada, retired general Roméo Dallaire, who saw the genocide in Rwanda up close, said, ”I’m not comfortable with that.”
What’s striking is that this dispute over the most loaded of all words comes at a time when the prospects for Indigenous Canadians have never been more hopeful. Levels of educational attainment have risen. Most major universities in Canada have prominent Indigenous faculty members who teach law and history on their own terms. Indigenous Canadians have won substantial rights to negotiate over pipelines and other resource development. Native arts and artists are showcased across the country. Public acknowledgments that we stand on stolen land are common.
All of this is irrelevant to millennials, and to an increasing number of older liberals as well. In the past few years they have moved sharply to the left. What’s happening in Canada is part of a much bigger trend that is transforming the political landscape both here and in the U.S.
Most of us (in the older generation, anyway) sincerely believe that Canada is intrinsically good. We believe that although the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous people has been wrong, negligent, even at times evil, our country today is not inherently racist, let alone genocidal. The morally outraged disagree. They think the quarrel over the term “genocide” is just a sideshow that distracts us from our refusal to see what’s really going on. So, as far as they’re concerned, reparations in some form came due long ago.

10 June
One united Indigenous pipeline ownership would be ‘game changer’: Jason Kenney
(Globe & Mail) Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he hopes the growing number of First Nations-led proposals to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline come together under one banner, which he says would be a “game changer” for obstacles facing the expansion project.
Mr. Kenney met with First Nations leaders Monday to pitch his government’s proposal for a Crown corporation to facilitate Indigenous ownership of pipelines and other major energy projects, ahead of a coming deadline for the federal government to approve the Trans Mountain project.
The United Conservative government plans to set up the Indigenous Opportunities Corp. this fall with $1-billion in loan guarantees and other financing, as part of a plan to elevate the voices of First Nations communities that support the stalled Trans Mountain expansion. Several Indigenous organizations, including Project Reconciliation and Iron Coalition, have been putting together proposals and seeking funding to make offers to buy part of the pipeline.
The latest First Nations proposal to emerge is Iron Coalition, which announced plans last week to invite all Alberta First Nation and Métis communities to participate in a plan to buy a stake in Trans Mountain. The group, led by three First Nations chiefs and the president of a northeastern Métis community, has said it has not yet finalized the size of stake it wants or how financing would be structured.

6 June
Kelly McParland: Inquiry wasted the chance to right some wrongs for First Nations
Unmeetable demands and incendiary accusations in place of practical solutions will achieve nothing for Indigenous Canadians
Marion Buller has done no one any favours with her inquiry’s sweeping denunciation of Canada as a society of mass killers.
She’s done nothing to enhance support among Canadians, who will mostly dismiss her report’s most contentious finding out of hand. She has offered no aid to a federal government that would desperately like to do something right on Aboriginal claims but has just been told it’s running an extermination project. And she certainly hasn’t helped Canada’s First Nations, which are likely to see their place on the national priority list fall deeper into the status of hopeless causes as people conclude there’s simply no means by which their demands and aspirations can be satisfied.
The two per cent to four per cent of Canadians who identify as First Nations unquestionably feel left behind in a country in which they were first to arrive, and where they have been treated abominably. They have every right to demand restitution and the righting of past wrongs, or something as simple as drinkable water or workable fire trucks. That won’t happen, however, as long as the focus remains on groaning collections of unmeetable demands and the hurling of incendiary accusations in place of practical solutions any reasonable person could get behind.

3 June
National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issues final report with sweeping calls for change
The report, released today in Ottawa, calls on government and police to address endemic violence
After more than three years, dozens of community meetings and testimony from well over 2,000 Canadians, the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry delivered its final report to the federal government at a ceremony in Gatineau, Que., today.
The report includes many recommendations to government, the police and the larger Canadian public to help address endemic levels of violence directed at Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people.
231 ‘imperative’ changes: The MMIWG inquiry’s calls for justice
At the ceremony, Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the inquiry, said the calls for justice are not just “recommendations” but are “legal imperatives” that must be implemented to help end a cycle of violence that has claimed untold thousands of Indigenous women.
Beyond defining the level of violence against these women as a “Canadian genocide,” recommending official language status for Indigenous languages and calling for “a guaranteed annual livable income for all Canadians,” the commissioners are also recommending sweeping reforms to the justice system and policing in this country, including stiffer penalties for men who carry out spousal or partner abuse.
Canada aimed to ‘destroy Indigenous people’: The MMIWG inquiry’s case for genocide
It was an “inescapable conclusion” that genocide was committed against Canada’s Indigenous peoples, said Marion Buller, the chief commissioner for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, during a Monday news conference.
That conclusion has been reverberating across the country since news first surfaced on Friday that the inquiry had determined that thousands of those women and girls were victims of a “Canadian genocide.”
The final report said Canada, from its pre-colonial past to today, has aimed to “destroy Indigenous peoples.”
“Canada has displayed a continuous policy, with shifting expressed motives but an ultimately steady intention, to destroy Indigenous peoples physically, biologically, and as social units, thereby fulfilling the required specific intent element,” said a supplemental report.

23 April
Indigenous Conservation Offers Model for International Leadership
(Boreal Conservation) Indigenous leaders have an important message of hope to share at an international summit being hosted by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna this week in Montreal.
From coast to coast to coast, a movement is growing up from the land calling for Indigenous leadership on conservation. We see it in the scores of Indigenous Nations proposing new protected areas. We see it in the over 40 Indigenous Guardians programs that manage lands and waters. And we see it the thousands of Indigenous youth, elders and women leaders who are honouring their cultural responsibility to care for the land.
Now is pivotal time to support this movement. Canada has pledged to nearly double its protected lands by 2020. It made this commitment in 2010 as part of the global effort to stem the tide of animal and plant extinctions. Canada’s international commitment requires protecting 17% of lands and freshwaters by 2020, and the federal government invested $175 million to accelerate progress.
Many Indigenous Nations are eager to lead in protecting lands and waters and to partner with Canada to honour these commitments. The sheer number of proposals Canada is receiving from Indigenous Nations across the country is testament to the power and scale of this vision.
Supporting this leadership will deliver benefits for all.

1 April
‘This situation is only going to deepen’: Wilson-Raybould warned of Indigenous anger if dumped from AG role
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould warned Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that there would be Indigenous anger across the country if she was removed from the post.
A series of text messages between Wilson-Raybould and Butts in the days after she was told of the plan to shuffle her out of the position show Wilson-Raybould repeatedly stressing that removing her from the post would lead to questions about why she was being “pushed out” of the position.

16 March
Cuthand: Indigenous people have different relationship with party politics
“Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party made two fateful mistakes in the appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould.”
By Doug Cuthand, Saskatoon Star Phoenix
First, they underestimated her commitment to the law and her ethical framework that put the law before political expedience. Second, they didn’t realize that she came to government with an Indigenous agenda that superseded party politics.
Indigenous people have an interesting relationship with party politics; we see it as a means to an end and not an end in itself. We don’t regard political parties as our institutions but as non-Indigenous vehicles that can be used to meet our needs. This drives party hacks up the wall — they regard our party affiliation as shallow and superficial, and you know what? They’re right.
The loyalties of First Nations people extend from family to community and nation. By nation I am not referring to Canada but to our nations — Cree, Anishinaabe, Saksika, Nakota and so on. Anything else follows.
When our people enter the ring of partisan politics, it is usually because they have an agenda and want to make change. This might mean changing parties to accomplish it.
When Wilson-Raybould spoke out about First Nations–Canada relations she was admonished by Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council. He told her it wasn’t government policy. He was the former Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs and he had his own unwritten agenda, but that never came out.
To Wilson-Raybould the legal relations between Canada and the First Nations include the constitution, the Crown, the treaties and so on. These are the bedrock legal instruments that define our relationship and don’t need to be policy.

14 March
Ottawa lauds ‘amazing’ Mi’kmaq graduation rate, signs new $600-million agreement
(CTV) Twenty years ago, only 30 per cent of Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq students were graduating from high school.
Today, that number stands at 90 per cent — the highest on-reserve graduation rate in the country.
The federal government recognized the province’s Mi’kmaq community for leading the country on Indigenous education on Thursday by signing a new, 10-year education agreement worth $600 million.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the “amazing success” can be attributed to the 1997 creation of the Mi’kmaq education authority, known as Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey or simply MK.

11 March
Who Pressured Whom?
By Brian Giesbrecht, retired Manitoba provincial court judge (appointed in 1976, Associate Chief Judge from 1991 and Acting Chief Judge in 1993), Senior Fellow with the Frontier Center for Public Policy
(C2C Journal) There’s little doubt Wilson-Raybould was pressured. But was she simultaneously pursuing her own political objectives, notably pushing the PM to go further on Indigenous issues than even he – the national champion for “Indigenization” – was willing to go? During her tenure in Justice, she made statements and took actions that furthered Indigenous political and legal goals, even going so far as to tilt the scales of justice in favour of Indigenous litigants. As one Crown lawyer who declines to be identified puts it, “This was clearly Minister Wilson-Raybould’s priority right from the start. She issued directives to all government lawyers involved in Indigenous cases that severely limit the Crown’s ability to provide a full defence. They constrained time limitations, and shifted the onus from the plaintiffs having to prove their claims, to the government lawyers to show why any Indigenous claim should be limited.”
Wilson-Raybould’s insistence on a real “nation-to-nation” deal with Ottawa, including imposing obligations to fund 600-plus Indigenous nations in perpetuity and give them de facto command of the country’s economy, was too much even for Trudeau.
There is also evidence, including in the former minister’s own words, that she was very upset with Trudeau’s decision to shelve a major piece of his government’s “reconciliation” agenda. This decision roughly coincided with the start of her falling out with the government over SNC-Lavalin. No one is suggesting, yet, that she tried to get what she wanted in return for giving Trudeau what he wanted. But if their showdown leads to her rise and his fall, it will obviously advance her cause.
… Indigenous political objectives were also well-served by her handling of another legal matter that made far less news, but may cost the country billions of dollars. In the Restoule case, Indigenous plaintiffs argued that treaty annuity payments in the Robinson treaties (covering the northern Great Lakes) should be made retroactive for up to 150 years. They won, but only after “Practise Directives” issued by Wilson-Raybould’s office had deliberately weakened the Crown’s defence on numerous vital points, making it virtually inevitable that the judge would find for the plaintiff. In effect, the minister threw the game.

8 March
How the SNC-Lavalin affair became entangled with Trudeau’s Indigenous reconciliation agenda
First Nations leaders concerned over Indigenous relations minister’s handling of rights file
(CBC) Questions about the government’s commitment to reconciliation aren’t new, but they sprung up again when Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her position as justice minister and attorney general in January. That shuffle happened before the Globe and Mail broke the story about the SNC-Lavalin affair. The government’s handling of it ultimately led Jane Philpott to leave cabinet earlier this week.
Philpott, who was at Indigenous services before she was shuffled to Treasury Board in January, was driving the department to end long-term boil water advisories on reserves and managing the complex work of co-developing a landmark bill on Indigenous child welfare.
As justice minister, Wilson-Raybould had the levers of the legal machinery of Ottawa that had often resisted the progress of Indigenous rights that had been propelled by successive courtroom victories over the past decades.
Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were once considered part of a “dream team” on the government’s reconciliation agenda, along with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations. …
Wilson-Raybould wanted to talk to the prime minister about the recognition and implementation of an Indigenous rights framework. The framework aimed to enshrine the Constitution’s Section 35, which affirms Aboriginal rights into federal law. The framework was the central promise of Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda, and he announced it with much fanfare during a House of Commons speech on Valentine’s Day 2018. When Wilson-Raybould sent the Sept. 6 text to Butts, work on the framework was publicly unraveling.
According to February testimony from Wernick, Wilson-Raybould and Bennett were in a policy standoff over the direction of the framework. Externally, the Assembly of First Nations chiefs had rejected the framework by the time of the September meeting and grassroots activists were preparing to fight it. The meeting eventually led to a cabinet decision to shelve plans to table the framework in the fall,

7 February
‘We’re not bluffing’: Ontario First Nation urges Trudeau, O’Regan to witness housing crisis
Images coming out of the First Nation show young children covered in red rashes, which community leaders say were caused by black mould building up in many of their homes.

2018

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

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

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

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

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

2017

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

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

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

4 October
We Didn’t Choose to Be Called Indigenous
Even today’s most well-meaning terms erase our identities
(The Walrus) The continual refusal of Canada to acknowledge our names for ourselves, insisting instead on “Indian,” or later “Aboriginal,” or now “Indigenous,” has ideological roots in the same idea. We name you. We grant you your identity—or not. You are ours to name as we choose. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau originally announced the split of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada into two new ministries this summer, he admitted the department had been created when Canada’s approach to Indigenous peoples was “paternalistic, colonial.” Canada’s control of us—down to the very names we bear—reflects this paternalism and colonialism in action. The current national confusion around what constitutes Indigenous identity—which we’ve seen play out very publicly at times in a number of different ways, from the debate about cultural appropriation to the scrambling at many organizations to hire Indigenous spokespeople in a kind of retroactive diversity—is the direct result of this painful history. It’s obvious, then, that before we really have a conversation about what post–Indian Act Canada would look like, we need to have a serious conversation about Native identity itself and the ways that Canada’s policing of that identity has historically hurt our communities—and continues to do so today.
While Nestlé extracts millions of litres from their land, residents have no drinking water
(The Guardian) The Six Nations are not the only First Nations community in Canada with a water crisis. There are currently 50 indigenous communities with long-term boil water advisories, which means an estimated 63,000 people haven’t had drinkable water for at least a year – and some for decades. But this may underestimate the size of the problem, since some indigenous communities, such as Six Nations, have a functional water plant but no workable plumbing. The lack of water has been linked to health issues in indigenous communities including hepatitis A, gastroenteritis, giardia lamblia (“beaver fever”), scabies, ringworm and acne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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