Canada and Indigenous peoples 2021

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National Indigenous History Month 2021
recognizes the history, heritage and diversity of
First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.
2021 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
to educate and remind Canadians about
the history of residential schools,
honour the victims and celebrate the survivors.
How journalism failed aboriginal Canadians
(9 June 2015)

The activities included in this Guide have been developed in line with the Historical Thinking Concepts developed by Dr. Peter Seixas. Students and historians are often required to make judgments when studying history, but it is important to consider historical context. This involves considering what society and attitudes were like in the past. When trying to understand people’s motivations or beliefs, historians and students of history must balance this awareness of past beliefs while working to avoid excusing their actions as resulting solely from their historical context.

When we debate complex legacies such as Sir John A.’s, we must not be ahistorical
By J.D.M. Stewart, Canadian history teacher and author of Being Prime Minister.
These are perilous times to have been a monumental historical figure from the 19th century. The list of names of those under reconsideration is long and growing, with the country’s first prime minister, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, regularly at the top of it.
The latest disgrace to be inflicted upon Macdonald – a leader without whom the very existence of this country may be questioned – occurred on Saturday when protesters in Montreal disdainfully toppled a statue of our first prime minister. A debate quickly ensued around Macdonald and his legacy. In predictable fashion, there has been no middle ground.
The continued targeting of Macdonald is really as much about our own times as his. But that has always been the case with history. As renowned University of Toronto historian Margaret MacMillan – a continuing voice of reason in our challenged times – once wrote: “We argue over history in part because it can have real significance in the present.”
Canada’s continuing work toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as the systemic racism and violence in all its forms that has been a part of the lived experience of many Canadians, are the issues of our times. But defacing and vandalizing statues of a former prime minister is not going to advance any of those causes. Nor is it justified by history – although it may make some feel better.
Critics of Macdonald act as though his regrettable actions against Indigenous peoples in the West were happening now. But his policies, which we rightly chafe against today, took place primarily in the 1880s. “Quite unlike Canadians of today,” wrote the late Richard Gwyn in his two-volume biography of one of this country’s greatest prime ministers, “nineteenth-century Canadians felt no guilt about their country’s treatment of Indians.”
The real historical vandalism is not so much the destruction of public property, but in the singular and contemporary lens with which people are trying to judge actors from the past such as Macdonald. Unlike statues of Confederate “heroes” in the United States, which were raised in homage to the South’s support for slavery and to remind people of it, the statues of Macdonald were not put up in celebration of his genuine and ugly mistakes but for his larger legacy: his undeniable contribution to creating the Dominion of Canada. More (1 September 2020)

Global land use history confirms that empowering the environmental stewardship of Indigenous peoples and local communities will be critical to conserving biodiversity across the planet.
People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years (April 2021)

12 November
The dark flip side of Canada’s oldest English coin
(iPolitics) Specifically, in this case, that’s the forced retreat of the Beothuk inhabitants of Newfoundland from coastal sites in the face of the 17th-century English settlement of the island, and their eventual extinction.
The vanishing of the Beothuk is one of the great tragedies of Canadian history. Does recognition of this sorrowful outcome of East Coast colonization complicate an otherwise super-cool, time-machine tale about archeologists digging up a coin at Cupids Cove stamped with the visage of the first Tudor king?
Yes, it’s now a more complicated story. Much more. Or we could say the narrative has just become more layered, more comprehensive, more balanced — and more true.
There is a lesson here for all governments and all politicians across Canada. If they’re serious about healing relationships with the country’s Indigenous peoples, high-profile gestures of reconciliation must be matched by routine, sincere adjustments in the way they understand, frame and talk about history — especially in the context of the European age of exploration and so-called discovery.

26 October
Residential school abuse reported to department while Jean Chrétien was minister, records show
While Jean Chrétien was minister of Indian affairs, his federal department received several reports — including one addressed directly to him — of mistreatment and physical abuse of children at residential schools, government records show.
Chrétien, Canada’s prime minister from 1993 to 2003, told a popular Radio-Canada talk show on Sunday that he never heard about abuse at residential schools while he was minister of what was then called the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development from 1968 to 1974.
A cursory look at the historical record reveals that while Chrétien was minister, his department received at least four reports outlining allegations of abuse and mistreatment of children at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, which operated in the Fort Albany First Nation, along Ontario’s James Bay coast.
The department also received reports of abuse from other residential schools during his tenure, including two from one that sat about 130 kilometres north of his hometown of Shawinigan, Que., records show.
Jean Chrétien says he never heard about abuse in residential schools while he was minister

19 October
Members of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation wonder whether Trudeau was listening during his apologetic visit
‘Only actions will tell me if he was really listening,’ said one member as PM apologizes repeatedly for snub
The event was a reckoning for the prime minister, who apologized repeatedly Monday for snubbing an invite from the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc to join the community on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in September.
[Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne] Casimir laid out the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation’s demands in her meeting with Trudeau. She called for federal funding of a new healing centre in Kamloops for survivors of the residential school, assistance to further survey unmarked burial sites and full access to student attendance records from residential schools.
While Trudeau did not promise new funding, Casimir said having him speak directly to the community was crucial to healing the relationship.

15 October
(National Post) Land acknowledgements, noting the territory of Indigenous groups, have become common at public events right across the country. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the New Brunswick government has told its employees to stop doing them.
N.B. government tells staff to stop making Indigenous land acknowledgments
Justice Minister Hugh Flemming noted that N.B. First Nations are claiming title to ‘over 60% of the province’
New Brunswick government employees have been ordered to stop making territorial or title acknowledgments in reference to Indigenous lands, because the province is involved in a series of legal actions and land claims initiated by First Nations.
The memo said the order covered land or territorial acknowledgments during meetings and events, in documents and in email signatures. Employees can make reference to ancestral territory but not use the terms “unceded” or “unsurrendered,” the memo said

3 October
Trudeau apologized to chief of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc after Tofino trip: PMO
(CTV) The head of the The Native Women’s Association of Canada said she welcomed word of Trudeau’s private apology, but called on him to make a more public statement and cautioned that his actions may have lasting consequences.
Reports of his Reconciliation Day activities sparked widespread backlash from Indigenous leaders, who felt it was disrespectful of him not to join other politicians in attending events held to honour the children who never came home.
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation, which earlier this year announced the findings of more than 200 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., shared on social media that it sent “two heartfelt invitations” for Trudeau to join them on Sept. 30.

1 October
How could he?
Trudeau spends 1st Truth and Reconciliation Day in Tofino on vacation, contradicting itinerary
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is spending the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on vacation in Tofino, B.C., with his family, despite his official itinerary placing him in private meetings in Ottawa.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the vacation in a statement sent to Global News.
Trudeau had received at least two invitations to spend the day with survivors and their families. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a B.C. First Nation that uncovered the remains of 215 children a residential school site earlier this year, said they had sent “two heartfelt invitations” to Trudeau.
While Trudeau did end up travelling to B.C. on Thursday, it was to spend the day with family in Tofino, rather than to take the community up on their invitation.

28-30 September
Why Canada is marking the 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this year
Sept. 30 honours the children, survivors, families and communities affected by residential schools
Michelle Ghoussoub
Sept. 30 will mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — an annual commemoration honouring the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families and communities still affected by the legacy of the residential school system.
The creation of the new federal statutory holiday was approved by Parliament days after the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery of roughly 200 potential burial sites, likely of children, on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
Weeks later, the Cowessess First Nation announced a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School east of Regina. Since then, more than 300 other potential burial sites have been identified, and searches are underway at sites across Canada.
While the discoveries have shocked many and led to an outpouring of grief and news coverage globally, Indigenous people and advocates say it had long been known and talked about that some of the children who were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools never made it back home.

This New Canadian Holiday Reflects On The Legacy Of Indigenous Residential Schools
(NPR) Survivors have long advocated for recognition and reparations, and Canada created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of those efforts. The commission ran from 2008 to 2015, and released a final report with 94 calls to action — one of which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
Ottawa marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
(CTV) On Parliament Hill, thousands of people gathered for “Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance.” The Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada hosted the gathering to remember Indigenous children and families affected by residential schools.
“So let us hold you in sacred space today for you to mourn with us. Thousands of children dying at residential schools is genocide and that’s why we need a day like Remembrance Day, a day like today,” said Jenny Sawanohk Sutherland, organizer of the Remember Me gathering.
The gathering on Parliament Hill was followed by a Spirit Walk to Confederation Park, where there was music, presentations, art installations and dance
(Politico Canada) On the morning after National Truth and Reconciliation Day, we’re still thinking about Algonquin elder Claudette Commanda who invited Canada to learn and listen.
And Wakerakatste Louise McDonald Herne, bear-clan mother of the Mohawk Nation, who urged Canadians, “to own your own truth.”
— Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer and chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University: “We will never get to real truth, justice and reconciliation until there is a substantial transfer of power, wealth and resources. That means lands have to come back. That also means there has to be us sharing in the resources. And it also means recognition and full implementation of our sovereign right to be self-determining.”
Jody Wilson-Raybould on National Truth and Reconciliation Day. What it does: “Honours the children; educates and focuses public attention; supports healing processes; promotes reflection on our past, present, and future; brings out necessary truth-telling.”
What it doesn’t do: “Change the reality on the ground in communities; lift a family out of poverty, provide clean drinking water, or return a child home; change colonial laws & uphold Indigenous rights through new laws, policies and practices; confront and address systemic racism.”

16 September
‘About damn time’: First Nation gets clean water after 24-year wait
Residents of Shoal Lake 40 can drink from taps thanks to a new water treatment facility but dozens of communities lack access
(The Guardian) Until recently, the only way to get in or out of the community was across the lake on a summer barge or winter road, making it too expensive to haul in construction material to build a water treatment plant. Plans for a treatment plant were scrapped in 2011 after the federal government balked at the price tag.
In 2019, a 24km (15 mile) all-season road, dubbed the “Freedom Road”, was built, connecting the community to the Trans-Canada highway system – and spurring construction of the new plant.
“This is not a victory of the federal government, this is a victory of the community,” Marc Miller, the country’s Indigenous services minister, said at the event.
Dozens of Canada’s First Nations lack drinking water: ‘Unacceptable in a country so rich’

12 August
Canada commits $340 million to Indigenous protected areas, guardians programs
(TorStar) The Canadian government is investing $340 million to support Indigenous guardians and Indigenous Protected Areas as part of its commitment to conserving 30 per cent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. The funding will be provided over the next five years and includes money earmarked to support the forming of a national Indigenous guardians network.
The announcement comes…on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, an alarming indictment of humanity’s continuing role in wreaking havoc on the global ecosystem and an urgent warning that we collectively do everything possible to mitigate and slow down the irreversible and catastrophic effects of climate change.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is through nature-based climate solutions, including Indigenous Protected Areas, which effectively create huge carbon sinks when they are established.
While Indigenous leaders welcome the investment, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the need and desire from Indigenous communities across the country. When Canada invested $25 million in a pilot project five years ago, there were 125 applications for just 10 opportunities

30 July
First Nations and Ottawa agree to $8 billion settlement on drinking water advisories
The proposal also requires the federal government to renew its commitment to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves.
More than 142,000 class members and 120 First Nations may be compensated if the court approves the settlement
A proposed settlement agreement worth nearly $8 billion has been reached in two national class action lawsuits launched against the federal government by First Nations living under drinking water advisories.
[McCarthy Tetrault: Class Action Litigation on Drinking Water Advisories on First Nations]
The settlement, which is awaiting court approval, would offer $1.5 billion in compensation to individuals deprived of clean drinking water and modernize Canada’s First Nations drinking water legislation.
The proposal would see the federal government commit at least $6 billion in previously announced funding to provide reliable access to safe drinking water on reserves, create a First Nations Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water, support First Nations’ efforts to develop their own drinking water by-laws and initiatives and make Ottawa responsible for private water systems, such as wells.

Mandy Gull-Masty, première femme élue grande cheffe des Cris du Québec
Après quatre ans au poste de grande cheffe adjointe, Mandy Gull-Masty s’est présentée au poste de grande cheffe en axant son programme électoral sur la gouvernance, la langue, la culture et l’économie.
(Ici Radio Canada) Mandy Gull-Masty accède à la tête du Grand Conseil des Cris avec 64 % des votes exprimés au deuxième tour de scrutin et en devient la première femme élue grande cheffe.

13 July
Nicolas: Respect and recognition should be reciprocal
Asking for recognition and respect, without reciprocity, becomes hard to differentiate from a show of colonial arrogance.
…let’s be honest. The level of ignorance acceptable for non-Indigenous Peoples holding office is less akin to Simon not speaking French than to her not even knowing that the French and the English are two different peoples with different customs and legal systems, and having a hard time locating their European homelands on the map. Which of course, is a ludicrous notion.
… Let’s encourage Simon to learn French — and, in the same breath, acknowledge that the vast majority of non-Indigenous people in positions of power are not only far from being fluent in an Indigenous language, but still wading in a swamp of ignorance and prejudice that should from now on, at the very least, be denounced as a lack of professional competency. Let’s get out of that mud ourselves before we dissert too profusely on the standards others should be held to.

9 July
Jonathan Kay: The performative snobbery of social justice
In an alternative, common-sense social-justice world, it might be taken for granted that Canadians should unconditionally oppose the burning down of houses of worship as retribution for historical crimes committed by congregants’ deceased coreligionists.
And yet here we are, a month into a sustained arson and vandalism campaign that has damaged or destroyed more than 20 churches, and Canada’s progressive cadres still can’t quite decide what to think about it — even as Indigenous leaders decry the violence as a counterproductive and ghoulish response to recent disclosures about residential school victims.
Liberal party consigliere Gerald Butts called the arson “understandable.” Osgoode Hall Law School Prof. Heidi Matthews posted a thinking-deeply emoji alongside musings about how these arsonists might simply be exercising their “right of resistance to extreme and systemic injustice.”
Most infamously, we had Harsha Walia, head of the BC Civil Liberties Association — whose job includes protecting religious freedoms, I should add — commenting on a news report about burned churches by tweeting, “Burn it all down.”

8-9 July
New national chief calls for reparations for Indigenous people
RoseAnne Archibald says redress must go beyond payments to residential, day school and Sixties Scoop survivors
(CBC) Speaking at a virtual press conference one day after being elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, RoseAnne Archibald said settler colonialism has had dire effects on Indigenous people in Canada — effects that continue to this day and demand redress.
“Reparations are an essential part of the journey on reconciliation,” Archibald said. “Our communities have had longstanding negative impacts as a result of colonization.”
Archibald was responding to a media question about an report released last week by Sen. Patrick Brazeau, a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, that examined the history of the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous people.
In a subsequent interview with online news site iPolitics, Brazeau said his report highlighted a history of “broken promises” and “Band-Aid solutions” to First Nations issues, and that reconciliation must include a “process of reparations.”

Indigenous Women Assume and Cede Prominent Positions in Canada
This week, Canada’s largest Indigenous organization selected a woman as its chief for the first time and an Inuk was named governor general. But Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister said she’s leaving politics.
(NYT) …on Thursday, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister and a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-kwil-tach people, announced that she was leaving politics in a letter that pulled no punches about being an Indigenous woman in the House of Commons.
Wayne K. Spear: Thirty years in the making, Jody Wilson-Raybould has the last word with Justin Trudeau
She’s provided useful insight into a party that has sold itself as progressive, inclusive and feminist, while driving away female talent and retaining under-performers and partisan hacks
John Ibbitson: RoseAnne Archibald will face challenges on all fronts as national chief of Assembly of First Nations
She will now face extreme challenges: within the AFN, between the AFN and the chiefs and in the assembly’s relations with Ottawa.
The AFN confronts a federal government and a country with a long and lamentable record of hostility to the rights of Indigenous peoples. It must advance those rights, and also help to heal Indigenous wounds at a time of great national shame, as gravesite after gravesite emerges of children – hundreds, even thousands – who were buried at former residential schools.
But Ms. Archibald’s first act of healing must be within the AFN itself.
As well as internal disagreements, the AFN must confront an inherent contradiction in its mandate.
The assembly is essentially a lobbying organization, charged with pressing the federal government for improved services and increased self-government for the 634 First Nations it represents.
But the national chief is elected by the chiefs of each band, and some see her as the representative of all First Nations. This is treacherous ground, for there are regional and ideological cleavages among the chiefs, as you would expect in any organization with such a diverse membership.
One thing that will unite the chiefs: Now that the Liberal government has incorporated the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law, the AFN must work to give that declaration teeth in Crown-Indigenous negotiations.
Some First Nations refuse to participate in the AFN. It is, after all, a lobbying organization with a quasi-parliamentary gloss, making it very much a construct of the settler culture, which for some means the assembly is illegitimate, as is the Canadian state. This attitude appears to be gaining increasing currency, especially among activists and within universities.
A further concern relates to the role of provincial governments, which are primarily responsible for education, health care, infrastructure, policing and other day-to-day services outside reserves. Many chiefs want nothing to do with the provinces, insisting on a nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown and demanding that the AFN resist the provincialization of services to their bands.
But the Crown, in the form of the federal government, does a lousy job of providing those services to reserves. Transferring responsibility and funding for services to First Nations on reserve to the provinces would almost certainly improve the quality of life on reserves. But most chiefs will have none of it.
RoseAnne Archibald elected 1st female national chief of Assembly of First Nations
Former Ontario regional chief elected after 2 days of voting
Archibald is a member of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation (formerly New Post First Nation) in northern Ontario. She spent a three-year term as Ontario regional chief.
Archibald has had a long history of holding leadership roles. She was the first woman and youngest chief elected for Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN) in 1990 at age 23.
[AFN: RoseAnne Archibald Bio]
She was also the first woman and youngest deputy grand chief for Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), as well as the first female and youngest grand chief for Mushkegowuk Council.
After taking a break from politics for nine years, she became the first woman to be elected as Ontario regional chief in 2018.
“Chiefs, whether you voted for me or not, I have listened and I have learned from you. While there are differences that divide us, there is much that we share,” said Archibald.
“We all want our children to grow up proud and surrounded by love, culture, ceremony, language, and safe vibrant communities.”
She said her vision for the AFN is an organization that strengthens First Nations communities and furthers First Nations sovereignty, jurisdiction and inherent treaty rights.
6 July

Inuk leader Mary Simon named Canada’s 1st Indigenous governor general

Simon, an Inuk leader and former Canadian diplomat, is an Inuk from Kuujjuaq, a small hamlet on the coast of Ungava Bay in northeastern Quebec. She was born to a local Inuk woman and a fur trader father who worked at a Hudson’s Bay Company outpost.
Simon, who is bilingual in English and Inuktitut, attended the federal Fort Chemo day school in the Nunavik region.
Asked about her lack of fluency in French, Simon said she never had the opportunity to learn Canada’s other official language while at this institution — a school that has been the subject of lawsuits over the mistreatment of students by administrators.
Simon said that she lived a “very traditional lifestyle” growing up in a subarctic region, but she also learned from her father, a white man originally from Manitoba, about the “non-native world.”
After her schooling, Simon worked as an announcer and producer with CBC North before starting a decades-long career advocating for Indigenous rights.
She helped negotiate the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975, a landmark deal between the Cree and Inuit in Quebec’s north, the provincial government and Hydro-Québec.
Simon was subsequently elected president of Makivik Corp. in 1982, the organization created to administer the funds the Inuit received from the development on their lands. The organization now manages tens of millions of dollars worth of investments, including an ownership stake in Canadian North, a major air carrier in the Arctic.
In 1986, Simon was tapped to lead the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), a group created in 1977 to represent the Inuit in all the Arctic countries. At the ICC, she championed two priorities for Indigenous Peoples of the north: protecting their way of life from environmental damage and pushing for responsible economic development on their traditional territory.
As an Inuit leader, she was on hand when the Constitution was repatriated in the 1980s. She was part of former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s attempts to amend the Constitution as part of the Charlottetown Accord process in the early 1990s.
In 2002, former prime minister Jean Chrétien named her Canada’s first Arctic ambassador, a position where Simon worked closely with the eight other circumpolar countries to bolster co-operation in the region. She also served as Canada’s ambassador to Denmark.
She served two terms as the president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Indigenous organization that works to advance Inuit rights.
Opinion: Mary Simon’s appointment as governor general is a win for Canada
John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.
(Montreal Gazette) The appointment of Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general resonates positively with the spirit of the times and has been broadly welcomed. A child of an Inuk mother and a non-Indigenous father from Manitoba, Simon embodies a Canadian story, her father being the manager of the local Hudson’s Bay outlet. Her life story and experience, spanning decades of Canadian politics and international developments, equip her specially to understand contemporary challenges, from reconciliation through social inclusion and equity to climate change.

Trudeau signs agreement returning child welfare responsibilities to Cowessess First Nation
Agreement with Cowessess is the first signed under legislation passed in 2019
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signed a landmark agreement that will see Canada return child welfare responsibilities to Cowessess First Nation, which he described as a critical step in reducing the number of Indigenous children in the foster care system.
Trudeau travelled to the Saskatchewan community this afternoon to announce the agreement alongside Chief Cadmus Delorme and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
“Never again should kids be taken from their homes, families and communities,” Trudeau said at the ceremony to commemorate the agreement.

Catholic Church raised nearly $300M for buildings since promising residential school survivors $25M in 2005
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto celebrated completion of its $128-million renovation in September 2016, one year after Canadian church groups told a judge that $3.9 million was all they could fundraise nationally for residential school survivors.
Critics say these figures throw into question the church’s legal claim it gave “best efforts” to help survivors.

5 July
Residential school survivors call for an end to arson attacks on churches
‘Whoever is doing this, you’re going to wake up a very ugly, evil spirit in this country,’ survivor warns
(CBC) A group of residential school survivors is calling for an end to arson attacks on churches after several Catholic and Anglican churches were vandalized or damaged by fire following the reported discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Jenn Allan-Riley, a Sixties Scoop survivor and the daughter of a residential school survivor, said the acts of vandalism are sowing discord between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada. “Burning down churches is not in solidarity with us Indigenous people,” Allan-Riley told the press conference.
Burning churches is ‘not the Dene way,’ says Dene Nation after Yellowknife fire
The Dene Nation is calling for forgiveness and love — and also accountability — in response to a suspicious fire at the Catholic church in Yellowknife.
‘Unacceptable and wrong’: Trudeau condemns attacks on churches
Trudeau also condemned the toppling of two statues — one of Queen Victoria and one of Queen Elizabeth II — on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature on Thursday.
“I fully understand the anger … and the grief that so many people are feeling,” he said when asked about the statues.
“But we need to move forward as a community, we need to listen to that anger, to that grief, and make reflections around how we commemorate and honour historical figures, (or) whether we do.
Politicians, Indigenous leaders say burning churches not the way to get justice

4 July
Kahnawake elects Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer as first female Grand Chief
Sky-Deer vows to promote economic development and address the need for affordable housing in the community of about 8,000.

From the 1870s to the 1990s, residential schools were part of a systematic federal policy to assimilate Indigenous children into European culture, based on racist assumptions that their own cultures were inferior.
(Globe & Mail) Children were separated from their families and lived in poorly funded schools where federal- or church-run staffs punished them for speaking their own languages. Physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition and disease were common. The last school in the country closed in 1996, in Saskatchewan.
Survivors pressed the government and churches for compensation and apologies, a process that led to a $2-billion settlement and the creation of the TRC. Its final report in 2015, based on interviews with more than 6,000 witnesses, said the schools amounted to cultural genocide and are inseparable from the present-day problems Indigenous people face, from high rates of poverty, suicide and incarceration to the loss of Indigenous lands and traditions.

Posted on Facebook – cannot vouch for the origin, but hope that the generous spirit of the message is widely shared among Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike

1 July
Trudeau, political leaders ask Canadians to delicately balance celebration and reflection on Canada Day
“Today, we celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home,” said Trudeau in a media statement.
“But while we acknowledge our successes, we must also recognize that, for some, Canada Day is not yet a day of celebration.”
The prime minister’s unusually sombre Canada Day message comes in the wake of discoveries of children’s remains and unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Trudeau said the revelations “have rightfully pressed us to reflect on our country’s historical failures, and the injustices that still exist for Indigenous peoples and many others in Canada.”

30 June
182 unmarked graves discovered near residential school in B.C.’s Interior, First Nation says
The community of ʔaq’am, one of four bands in the Ktunaxa Nation and located near the city of Cranbrook, B.C., used ground-penetrating radar to search a site close to the former St. Eugene’s Mission School, the Lower Kootenay Band announced Wednesday.
According to the band, the findings indicated the graves were shallow, about a metre deep.
An Exit Interview with Perry Bellegarde, National Chief
By Christopher Guly
The outgoing AFN leader on the ‘sacred work’ facing residential school communities, dismantling the Indian Act, marking progress and more.
(The Tyee) First Nations law is paramount in C-92. Chiefs and councils that do not want federal or provincial law on child welfare applying to them can create their own law and exert their jurisdiction.
Finally, Bill C-15 requires the establishment of a national action with First Nations people within two years. The laws of Canada that aren’t in sync with the declaration have to be brought in line. That is major. …
How do you imagine the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada’s federal government looking 25 years from now?
If there’s sustained investment every fiscal year in housing, water, infrastructure, education, health care and mental health, that gap is going to be closed.
Everybody has good quality education and employment opportunities, and economic self-sufficiency. Everybody is sharing from the land and resource wealth. Everybody embracing their language and culture. Canada is stronger through respect for the diversity that’s here, and a country that is free from racism and discrimination.
That’s what I see. We are all related, we are all connected.
I am going to a Sundance lodge this week to pray for not only people but our relatives — the four-leggeds, the fliers, the swimmers, the crawlers, Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandmother Moon, Grandfather Sun.
In 25 years, if we can embrace our Indigenous worldview, you’re going to have a better country and a better world.
We’re just getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. But that will pale in comparison to a bigger issue if we don’t get our heads around it — and that’s climate change. And that’s something we all have to get our heads around in every country in the world. That there’s a global movement to make sure that our children and grandchildren and those yet unborn have access to clean air and clean water and clean land to live on.
Is it not an opportunity to take advantage of the Indigenous tradition of respect for the land?
Yes, getting Elders’ Traditional Knowledge to help the policy and legislation going forward. That’s huge, no question. …
How would you characterize your relationship with Prime Minister Trudeau and his government?
Respectful. As [national Chief] of the Assembly of First Nations, you have to be able to open doors and have access to the policy and legislative decision-makers. I am not Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green or Bloc Québécois. We have to get along with all of the leaders, and I do. You don’t agree on every issue, but you find two or three that you do agree on and move them forward.
If you can’t open doors and influence the throne speech and/or the federal budget, what good are you to the people at the reserve level [to advocate for] better housing, education and health care?
We don’t have a treaty with the Liberals or the Conservatives. We have a treaty with the Crown.
Churches are burning.
(Toronto Star) Even though speculation has been widespread, no official connection between a string of church burnings that have happened across Canada in recent days and the unmarked grave sites has been made.
But for Arthur Noskey, the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta grand chief, churches need protecting, and during a meeting Wednesday, he and other Indigenous leaders discussed having their members appointed as security to do so.
… There have been a series of church fires since the discovery of 215 unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops in B.C. and another site where 751 unmarked graves were flagged on the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
After RCMP said Wednesday that they are investigating the “suspicious” fire that levelled the St. Jean Baptiste church in Morinville, the Alberta premier said it appeared to be a hate-crime and called it “unacceptable.”
“These attacks targeting Christian churches are attempts to destroy the spiritual sites that are important to people of faith across Alberta, including many Indigenous people,” said Kenney.

29 June
Indigenous leaders secure papal audience to set stage for residential school apology
National Indigenous leaders will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December to set the stage for a formal papal apology in Canada for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
A delegation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit will meet with the Pope separately between December 17 and 20, according to the CCCB.
Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBC News Pope Francis will speak to the Indigenous delegates directly about the painful legacy of residential schools.
Gagnon said the Pope is open to delivering an apology in Canada at an “opportune time.” He said the Pope is expected to take a path similar to the one that led to his formal apology in Bolivia in 2015.
In Bolivia, Pope Francis apologized for sins and crimes committed by the church against Indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas.

Citizenship oath sworn by new Canadians now recognizes Indigenous rights
Revised citizenship study guide coming soon
The first citizenship ceremony using the new oath happened last week. New Canadians are now swearing a revised oath of citizenship that recognizes Indigenous rights, but are still studying the old citizenship guide that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also recommended be revised.
Bill C-8, which amended the wording of the oath in the Citizenship Act, received royal assent and became law on June 21.
The next day, 31 new Canadians swore the new oath at a citizenship ceremony presided over by Suzanne Carrière, the first Métis citizenship judge in Canada.
The language of the new oath is: “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples”

28 June
Indigenous people ask Canadians to ‘put their pride aside’ and reflect this Canada Day
Investigations into unmarked graves at former residential schools prompt call for reflection
After Bodies Are Found, Some Say Canada Day Is Nothing to Celebrate
Heeding calls from Indigenous people, some places have canceled plans to mark the holiday, after hundreds of children’s remains were discovered at former boarding schools for Indigenous children.
By Ian Austen
After the discovery of hundreds of bodies in unmarked graves at former schools for Indigenous children, communities across Canada are canceling or altering plans to celebrate a patriotic holiday on Thursday, increasing the pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call off national celebrations.
Christopher Dummitt: This Canada Day, let’s cancel the cancellers
The social media campaign is rooted in an astounding ignorance of history
(The Hub) The recent discovery of unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops, quickly followed by another 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, is another reminder of the horrendous history of this institution and Canada’s policies towards Indigenous peoples. Too many families were torn apart, their children sent away to underfunded and criminally unsupervised institutions that simply did not care enough for those under their protection.
But it’s possible to deplore the legacy of residential schools and still be put off by the sickening glee with which some activists (and sadly, some actual historians) jumped on the news of the discovery to advance their pre-set ideological attack on Canada and the western world, and its values more generally.
Nutrition researchers saw malnourished children at Indian Residential Schools as perfect test subjects
By Allison Daniel
(The Conversation) As a nutrition researcher, and settler-Canadian, I am calling on my peers to recognize and understand the harms that malnutrition and nutrition experiments on Indigenous people have caused and the legacy they have left.
Ian Mosby, historian of food, Indigenous health and the politics of Canadian settler colonialism, uncovered that between 1942 and 1952, Canada’s most prominent nutrition scientists performed highly unethical research on 1,300 Indigenous people, including 1,000 children, in Cree communities in northern Manitoba and at six residential schools across Canada.
Frederick Tisdall — famous for being a co-creator of the infant food Pablum at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto — along with Percy Moore and Lionel Bradley Pett were the main architects of the nutrition experiments.
They proposed that education and dietary interventions would make Indigenous people more profitable assets to Canada, that if Indigenous people were healthier, transmission of diseases like tuberculosis to white people would decline and assimilation would be easier.
The pitch from Pett and his team centred on determining a baseline. They wanted to give children at the Alberni Indian Residential School a low amount of milk for two years, enough to substantially deprive growing children of the calories and nutrients they needed.
Other experiments involved withholding essential vitamins and minerals to children in control groups, while preventing Indian Health Services from providing dental care under the guise that this could impact the study results.
For residential school survivors, malnutrition has lasting effects. Starvation during childhood increases risk of chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, and research indicates that severe malnutrition may even cause epigenetic changes that can be passed on through generations.

With thanks to Peter Schiefke:
Achieving clean drinking water in First Nations communities
I’ve received many questions, recently, about the progress on ending long-term boil water advisories in Indigenous communities. Here is the progress since 2015:
💧108 long-term drinking water advisories lifted
💧183 short-term advisories lifted
💧535 water infrastructure projects (including 99 treatment plants)
💧$4.3 billion invested
💧51 advisories remain (in 32 communities continue). Of those 14 are completed and are awaiting approval, 33 are under construction, 2 are in the design phase and 2 are under a feasibility study. All have funding and all will be completed.

26 June
Canada’s Indigenous services minister talks about residential schools — and the road to reconciliation through truth
Shortly after his re-election in 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau re-committed his government to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, saying it “isn’t just a word that we use.”
To some, in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, reconciliation feels further away than it has since Trudeau took office.
“I have a number of mixed views on it. Obviously as the federal government, knowing that we are, together with the churches, responsible for these atrocities, it’s a difficult proposition to have the federal government sort of investigate the crime.
But we have to be conscious of the needs of the community and what they want to do. At every single moment, what I want to ensure inside government is that we are not (getting) in the way of those communities that want to take that more difficult path of going down the road of securing what is a crime scene, perhaps exhuming. Those are all very difficult conversations that in some sense are also very much in their infancy”
Respecting role of First Nations
A key issue in the Fairy Creek situation has been the positions of First Nations, both for and against old-growth logging.
Soon after the Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht First Nations requested the deferral, Huu-ay-aht Chief Coun. Robert J. Dennis Sr. told CBC Radio it was the protesters who were not being respectful of Indigenous rights.
“If you respect First Nations in what they stand for, if you respect First Nations Aboriginal title and if you respect First Nations people, period, you would honour their request not to protest,” said Dennis.
[activist TJ ] Watt said Saturday it’s up to governments to give First Nations additional resources so they aren’t “forced to choose between logging of old-growth forests or losing the jobs and revenues that come from logging old-growth.”
Provincial Forestry Minister Katrine Conroy told The House that working with Indigenous groups on developing forestry plans is the government’s priority.

25 June
Trudeau says Canadians ‘horrified and ashamed’ of forced assimilation
PM responds to discovery of graves at Indigenous schools
Trudeau stops short of ordering national investigation

(The Guardian) “This was an incredibly harmful government policy that was Canada’s reality for many, many decades and Canadians today are horrified and ashamed of how our country behaved,” Trudeau said. “It was a policy that ripped kids from their homes, from their communities, from their culture and their language and forced assimilation upon them.”
The federal government has previously admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages. Thousands of children died of disease and neglect.
The recent discoveries have fanned growing calls across the country for an independent investigation into what happened at the residential schools. Speaking to reporters on Friday, however, Trudeau made no indication his government was considering a national investigation.
Cowessess First Nation chief on ‘heartbreaking’ discovery of unmarked graves
(On the debate over whether to cancel Canada Day)
(The National) I would never tell somebody what to and what not to celebrate. You know, in 2021, we all inherited this. Nobody today created residential schools. Nobody today created the Indian Act. Nobody today created the Sixties Scoop. But we all inherited this. And if we want to say we’re proud Canadians, then we will accept the beautiful country we have today, and we will accept what we all inherited. And what I would challenge is: Everybody on Canada Day in this country, if you say you’re a proud Canadian, read the Truth and Reconciliation ‘Calls to Action.’ Over 100,000 residential school survivors told their story – including my parents – and they created the Truth and Reconciliation ‘Calls to Action.’ Bring that into your personal life, your social life, your business life. And read the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ‘Calls to Action.’ There’s 231 Calls to Action. If we can all own those a little bit in this country, in one generation we would overcome so many challenges today, that our next generation won’t inherit this. We will make them more as Dreamers.”

My Long-Overdue Indigenous Education
, a Times Canada correspondent recalls how meeting an Indigenous chef gave him a powerful and belated history lesson about Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous people.

24 June
How Indigenous memories can help save species from extinction
From Canada to the Amazon, scientists are trying to build on Native knowledge before it’s too late.
By Karen Pinchin
(Vox) Around the world, the memories of elders…are playing a powerful role in understanding and helping to preserve marine species. A growing group of researchers, some of them from within Indigenous communities, is translating the qualitative stories of fishermen into quantitative data, in a process that often requires sensitive negotiations and uncomfortable conversations between Indigenous leaders and Western institutions. Their recollections can help fill historical and geographical gaps that have eluded scientists until now.

31 May (Updated 24 June)
Marieval, Kamloops residential schools: What we know about the unmarked graves, and Canada’s reaction so far
In Saskatchewan, Cowessess First Nation says there could be 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school. This follows the announcement by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc that it found the remains of 215 children in B.C. Here’s what we know, and how it’s rekindled Indigenous demands for justice and action
The findings have angered and galvanized other First Nations who fear their relatives are buried in other sites across Canada. It’s also reopened questions about a colonial system designed to separate Indigenous youth from their parents and cultures, how many people that system killed and who should be held accountable.
“Over the past years, the oral stories of our elders, of our survivors, and friends of our survivors, have told the stories that we knew these burials were here,” said Cowessess First Nation Chief, Cadmus Delorme.
It is the latest discovery and so far the largest. Mr. Delorme stressed that the unmarked graves found at the former Marieval Indian Residential School site were not a mass grave. It can’t be confirmed how many of the remains belong to children, oral history says there are adults buried there too.
Using radar technology has made it possible to confirm the unmarked burial sites. Cowessess has now placed flags at the newly identified grave sites.

24 June
Sask. First Nation announces discovery of 751 unmarked graves near former residential school
Ground penetrating radar work began at the start of this month and will be used in the future to aid the Cowessess First Nation in locating more unmarked gravesites, Chief Cadmus Delorme said
The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess is now located, about 140 kilometres east of Regina. Children from First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba were sent to the school.
The First Nation took over the school’s cemetery from the Catholic Church in the 1970s. It was not immediately clear if all the remains are connected to the residential school.
“This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves,” Delorme said.

18 June
Egerton Ryerson would be appalled
Columnist Sylvia Sutherland delves into the history of Ryerson, whose statue was recently torn down at a Toronto university that bears his name
What would appall Ryerson would be what happened in the residential schools for which, in 1847, the Department of Indian Affairs sought his advice as Chief Superintendent of Education in Upper Canada regarding curriculum.
He was the first Methodist missionary to live with the Credit Mississauga. … Their chief, Kahkewaquonaby (Peter Jones), who became Ryerson’s life-long friend, joined other chiefs in arguing that the government should fund schools to educate Indigenous adult men in new techniques of agriculture.
In 1846, government officials met with 30 chiefs at the narrows of lakes Couchiching and Simcoe, and arrived at an agreement that such schools were necessary.
Indigenous residential schools date back to 17th century French Canada. Their shameful, twisted story is best summed up in Trent historian John Milloy’s seminal book, A National Crime.
For his part, Ryerson advised in a letter that, even though the churches would be involved, the system should be run by the government.
Ryerson did not implement or oversee the 19th-century launch of the residential schools, although he had a peripheral role in advising those who did.

June 21, 2021 is the national 25th anniversary of celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
National Indigenous Peoples Day
[T]he Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

14 June
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID
The federal government is moving ahead with two recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One allows Indigenous people to reclaim their birth names on official documents, while the other establishes the first commissioner of Indigenous languages
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the announcement goes a step further, as it applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Metis background, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people who aim to reclaim their identity on official documents.
All fees will be waived for the name-changing process, which applies to passports, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards, said Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino

7-10 June
B.C. suspends old-growth logging in Fairy Creek at request of Indigenous communities
The two-year deferral is meant to give three First Nations time to develop their own resource plans related to old-growth forests. All three rely on forestry as an important source of revenue.
The B.C. government has suspended old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed and in the nearby Central Walbran at the request of local Indigenous communities, seeking to quell a dispute that has led to months of civil disobedience and mass arrests by protesters who say they are protecting a rare ancient rainforest in a region where most valleys have been subject to clear-cuts.
Premier John Horgan announced the decision Wednesday, calling it a transformational moment for the forest industry as the province allows Indigenous communities to shape land use decisions. But between the two deferral zones on southern Vancouver Island, old-growth logging will continue – as will protests.
First Nations tell B.C. to defer old growth logging on territories including Fairy Creek
A major development in the battle over old growth logging on Vancouver Island. Three First Nations have issued a declaration, calling on the province to bring a temporary halt to the harvesting of ancient timber in an area that has been the focus of ongoing protests.
The Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht First Nations have formally given notice to the B.C. government to defer old-growth logging for two years in the Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas of Vancouver Island while the Nations prepare formal forestry plans.
“We are in a place of reconciliation now and relationships have evolved to include First Nations. It is time for us to learn from the mistakes that have been made and take back our authority over our ḥahahuułi (traditional territories),” a short statement by Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters, Hereditary Chief Paul Tate and Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones said.

8 June
The theological reason why the Catholic Church is reticent to apologize for residential schools
Jeremy M. Bergen, associate professor of religious and theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, and author of Ecclesial Repentance: The Churches Confront Their Sinful Pasts.
In traditional Catholic theology, the church can act collectively, but as the Body of Christ it cannot sin. Only members, including leaders, sin. When Catholics do something good, this may be ascribed to the church. When Catholics harm others, it is the action of individuals.
Pope John Paul II is perceived to have apologized for many church wrongs, but he did not claim the church itself was the agent of sin. In a highly public “Day of Pardon” in 2000, he asked God’s forgiveness for thousands of years’ worth of sins committed by members of the church, but not by the church as an institution.

3 June
The Imbecile Attack on Egerton Ryerson
An Assault on Decency
Doug Sweet: there are a few points I think ought to be addressed:
1. Most of the “modern” residential schools, including Kamloops, came into being after Egerton Ryerson was in his grave, so it is indeed unfair to hang their barbaric practices on him; nonetheless, some of his prescriptions for public education in what became Ontario could doubtless have been used as an organization manual for the original establishment of residential schools, which seemed, pre-Macdonald, to have been more altruistic in nature. These early schools, not many in number, were also not necessarily run by religious orders, which seems to have made a difference.
3. More and more is being made of the presumed causes of death of the children at the schools, being dismissed as nothing more sinister than tuberculosis or childhood diseases. The fact is conditions in most of these schools were appalling, the staff poorly trained and concern for the kids’ welfare far from that accorded children in other situations (we’re well past the worst of Victorian England by this point). Food was scarce, work was arduous and overcrowding was rampant. That all adds up to abuse, no matter whether a child died from TB or a broken limb that led to septicemia.
4. Finally, one of the most despicable practices was the failure to notify families that a child had died. … That is unconscionable and lends credence to the accusations that these institutions, Catholic, or Anglican, or United, or non-denominational, were and are a stain on our history and our society. I am as bothered by uninformed, broad-brush, “cancel culture” reactions as anyone; I recoil when some of the reaction to that uninformed argument strays into the “it wasn’t so bad” territory. Because it was.

1 June
No longer ‘the disappeared’: Mourning the 215 children found in graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School
(The Conversation) A macabre part of Canada’s hidden history made headlines last week after ground-penetrating radar located the remains of 215 First Nations children in a mass unmarked grave on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Like 150,000 Indigenous children that were taken from their families and nations and placed in residential schools, the 215 bodies of children, some as young as three, located in Tk’emlúps were part of a larger colonial program to liquidate Indigenous nations of their histories, culture and foreclose on any future. To do this, Canada put into motion a system to “kill the Indian in the child.”
The chilling discovery in Tk’emlúps reminds us of the larger project of aggressive assimilation.
Indian Residential Schools were centres for state-directed violence against Indigenous nations, where the children — the heirs of Indigenous nations — were programmatically stripped of their Indianness.
Indigenous lives were broken down, sterilized of any trace of the gifts inherited from their parents and ancestors and re-packaged into Canadian bodies.

[Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce: A Story of Courage
Dr. Bryce was a Canadian doctor and a leader in the field of Public Health at the turn of the 20th century. 100 years [later], he is most recognized for his persistence in advocating for better health conditions for Aboriginal children living in Indian Residential Schools
In 1907, Dr. Bryce visited 35 residential schools and found that the schools were overcrowded and poorly ventilated, conditions known at the time to facilitate the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases among students. He found a clear connection between the sanitation and health conditions within the schools and the incredible number of child deaths (Milloy, 1999). After inspecting these schools, Dr. Bryce wrote his 1907 “Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories” which is commonly known as “The Bryce Report”. … he reported: It suffices for us to know… that of a total of 1,537 pupils reported upon nearly 25 per cent are dead, of one school with an absolutely accurate statement, 69 per cent of ex-pupils are dead, and that everywhere the almost invariable cause of death given is tuberculosis (Bryce, 1907, p.18).
Dr. Bryce…held the government and churches to account for creating and maintaining the conditions that led to children’s deaths. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Final Report on Canada’s Residential schools includes a section about Dr.Bryce, the contributions of his 1907 report and the recommendations that he put forward to the federal government (2015, p. 401-407). Although the government deliberately chose not to act upon his recommendations, Bryce’s work can help us understand what conditions were like in these residential schools and allow us to recognize the consequences of the actions (and inactions) of the government and churches who ran these schools. Dr. Bryce provided evidence of child death and disease in residential schools and exposed the truth when few others were willing to talk about it. (July 2016)]

26 February
Andrew Caddell: In the midst of the current storm, we need perspective and leadership
In the present day, there are modifications possible within the ‘colonial’ framework. But you don’t burn down the village to save it. And binary descriptions don’t help the cause of reconciliation.
(The Hill Times/paywall) In the fall of 1996, Canada was facing two existential threats: the possibility Quebec might secede, or call a successful referendum on independence after the “near-death” experience in October of 1995; and a debt that severely constrained action by the federal government.
Into this maelstrom of demanding priorities landed the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, or RCAP, which contained 440 detailed recommendations. From 1991, the Commission had held 178 days of hearings and commissioned reports. Its key recommendations were summarized as: mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility.
The Chrétien government and the public service, rather than seizing the moment, struggled to walk and chew gum at the same time. It responded with an anodyne document titled “Aboriginal Agenda: Three Years of Progress.” Then, more than a year later, it published the bland “Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan” and offered a $350-million healing fund to address the legacy of the residential school system.
Looking back, RCAP was a lost opportunity. Although some of its recommendations were impractical (such as an aboriginal Parliament) or unpopular (merging 600 band councils into 60 “nations”), it was certainly pertinent.
One of its recommendations was the creation of an inquiry into residential schools.
Governments dragged their feet, and in 2008, the Harper government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Expectations were it would focus exclusively on the history of residential schools. After various internal problems, the inquiry began, and finally reported in 2015, more than two decades since the RCAP was established.
In the same way one takes a two-by-four upside the head to get another’s attention, TRC Chair (now Senator) Murray Sinclair recognized the value of using the residential schools revelations to resurrect the RCAP. Of the 94 Calls to Action, there are recommendations applying to universities, schools, health care providers, municipalities, businesses, and of course, the federal and provincial governments. There are 17 recommendations pertaining directly to residential schools.
Five years later, the Trudeau government is blamed for inaction after promising “a nation-to-nation relationship” without considering its consequences. The current crisis is based on an internal dispute over the multi-billion dollar Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline within the Wet’suwet’en nation in British Columbia and who has authority for their territory: elected or hereditary leaders.
Many are erroneously quoting the 1997 Delgamuukw decision of the Supreme Court, which only mentions “aboriginals,” and makes no distinction between hereditary or elected leaders. It also does not confer a veto on development or international sovereignty on the territory.
As a result of this dispute, tempers have flared and blockades have been erected that have caused untold harm on individuals and the economy. We have heard radical Indigenous voices saying “reconciliation is dead,” and calls for wholesale elimination of the “colonial” system.
But our courts, Parliament, legislatures, and municipal councils are based on a “colonial” model. In the present day, there are modifications possible within this framework.
There is a need for change. Here are a few ideas: a commission of three prominent Canadians (Beverley McLachlin, Bob Rae, and Sinclair, perhaps?) should examine aboriginal governance, offering ideas for merging traditional and elected leadership.
Then, governments should strike a new “Grand Bargain” with Indigenous leadership. It would set a 10-year deadline for abolition of the Indian Act, and the transfer of resource rights to all First Nations, to ensure financial independence. The option would be given for mergers of communities, and aboriginal leaders would nominate candidates for 25 new aboriginal Senate seats. That would be followed by an infusion of billions of dollars in literacy and training for adults in First Nations on and off reserve, increased funds for education and health care, and consultative councils of communities and their First Nations neighbours.
That might be enough to make a new start, but it does not tear apart the systems we have in place. And it recognizes we are all Canadians within the borders of our country.
As the RCAP stated: “We advocate recognition of Aboriginal nations within Canada as political entities through which Aboriginal people can express their distinctive identity within the context of their Canadian citizenship. Aboriginal people do not have to surrender their identity to accomplish those goals.”

13 April 2016
21 things you may not know about the Indian Act
The Indian Act has been in place for 140 years
The Indian Act has been a lightning rod for criticism and controversy over the years, widely attacked by First Nations people and communities for its regressive and paternalistic excesses.
For example, Status Indians living on reserves don’t own the land they live on; assets on reserve are not subject to seizure under legal process making it extremely difficult to borrow money to purchase assets; and matrimonial property laws don’t apply to assets on reserve.
The act has also been criticized by non-Aboriginal Peoples and politicians as being too paternalistic and creating an unjust system with excessive costs that are considered uneconomical.
The Indian Act gave Canada a coordinated approach to Indian policy rather than the pre-Confederation piece-meal approach.
“The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change,” stated John A. Macdonald, in 1887.
The Act imposed great personal and cultural tragedy on First Nations, many of which continue to affect communities, families and individuals today.

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