Canada and Indigenous peoples 2022-

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Achieving clean drinking water
in First Nations communities

Compare and contrast with the first visit of Pope John-Paul II in 1984
10 September 1984.
A National Indigenous Guardians Network

18 April
‘A special moment in our history’: Mohawk Council of Kahnawake inks deal with Hydro-Québec
The agreement will give the Indigenous community co-ownership of a $1.1-billion transmission line exporting electricity to New York City.
In a historic agreement that could serve as a template for future land deals, Hydro-Québec and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake signed an accord Thursday that will make the Indigenous community a co-owner of a $1.1-billion transmission line exporting electricity to New York City.
It will be the first time Hydro-Québec shares ownership of its transmission infrastructure with a third party and a First Nation community. With the Crown corporation projecting it will run out of energy surpluses by 2027 and will need to build dams and wind farms on Indigenous lands to meet growing demand, the partnership is a sign of things to come, said Hydro-Québec CEO Michael Sabia.

6 April
Underneath the ArriveCan scandal, questions swirl about Ottawa’s Indigenous procurement requirements
Bill Curry, Tom Cardoso and Kristy Kirkup
(Globe & Mail) … ArriveCan investigations have also raised questions about the [Procurement Strategy for Indigenous Business] PSIB, the program Mr. Yeo participated in. It has come under scrutiny for a feature that some critics say can be exploited: non-Indigenous businesses are allowed to receive federal contracts under the program, as long as they partner with Indigenous businesses in joint ventures. In those cases, the government requires that at least a third of the total value of the work be performed by an Indigenous company or Indigenous subcontractors.

5 April
Andrew Coyne: Why should Indigenous Canadians not be entitled to the same rights as other Canadians?
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms,” the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms boldly proclaims – then immediately goes to work describing all the ways in which they don’t.
Indeed, even before the Charter gets to listing all the rights and freedoms it “guarantees” to “everyone,” it has already attached a large asterisk: “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
Are Indigenous governments, in other words, bound by the Charter? Which trumps what? Charter rights or Indigenous rights? Individual rights or collective rights? With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Dickson v. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, at last we have an answer: It depends.
Cindy Dickson is a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, a tiny community in the Yukon that governs itself according to the terms of its self-government agreement with the federal and Yukon governments, and according to its own constitution. Ms. Dickson wishes to run for election to its council.
Unfortunately for her, she lives in Whitehorse, 800 kilometres to the south, and as such does not meet the Vuntut Gwitchin constitution’s requirement that all of its chiefs and councillors live on its territory, or relocate there within 14 days after election. Ms. Dickson, whose son requires medical care unavailable in such a remote community, challenged the requirement as an infringement of her equality rights under Section 15 (1) of the Charter, arguing she was being discriminated against on the basis of her non-resident status.

27 February
Feds reviewing Indigenous procurement policies as they grapple with ArriveCan revelations
‘Defining who is Indigenous is challenging in some cases,’ Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu says
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said Tuesday the federal government is reviewing its procurement policies to determine who can claim to be Indigenous when bidding for federal contracts set aside for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
Hajdu’s department is responsible for auditing some Indigenous companies contracted to provide services to the federal government.
… “We’re working with Indigenous partners to think through a better way, perhaps even at some point turning over maintenance of the list to Indigenous partners,” the minister said, referring to the Indigenous Business Directory.
That directory includes a list of Indigenous companies eligible for special consideration when bidding on some federal contracts.
As part of a reconciliation push, the government has been trying to allocate more of its business to Indigenous-owned firms and Indigenous contractors.


27 October
Indigenous business and federal procurement
(Indigenous Services Canada) As part of the Government of Canada’s work to advance economic reconciliation, Canada is supporting Indigenous businesses with federal government procurement opportunities.
How contracting with Indigenous business works and the next steps Indigenous business owners can take to win contracts awarded by the Government of Canada.
6 October
Learn how federal Indigenous procurement works
(Indigenous Services Canada) How contracting with Indigenous business works and the next steps Indigenous business owners can take to win contracts awarded by the Government of Canada.

28 September
An end to plunder and pillage: how a First Nations nature reserve became a model for the world
Thirty years ago, when the people of Haida Gwaii blockaded logging roads in British Columbia, few foresaw the result – the remarkable Gwaii Haanas agreement that has reshaped how to manage contested areas
(The Guardian) The deal, which stemmed from Haida-led blockades of logging roads, was hard won. Much friction remains, including tensions over economic development, conservation and Indigenous sovereignty. Three decades on, however, the agreement is widely seen as a resounding success – not only as a globally recognised template for cooperatively managing a contested territory, but for restoring to Indigenous nations the ability to guide key conservation decisions.
Delegations of Indigenous groups, both from abroad and from within Canada – including the Kitasoo/Xai’xais nation, which recently created a similar conservation plan of its own up the British Columbia coast – have visited the region to study the Haida’s triumph, aiming to replicate the model at home. The vast Great Bear Sea, a recently announced marine protected area, was also heavily influenced by the Gwaii Haanas agreement.
Meanwhile, the legacy of the logging blockades that led to its creation lives on in current events such as the protests against old-growth logging on nearby Vancouver Island.
Amid widespread global biodiversity loss and last-ditch international meetings to protect what remains, many now wonder if the triumphs – and stumbles – of Gwaii Hanaas could be a model for how Indigenous stewardship of lands and waters could act as a safety rail on a planet dangerously out of control.

26 August
Parks and Reconciliation
How First Nations in B.C. are taking back control of stewardship and access in their traditional territories
(CBC) Vancouver Island’s west coast is home to some of British Columbia’s most iconic scenery, including moss-laden old-growth forests and rocky shores on narrow inlets that harbour pods of killer whales. It’s this abundance of land, water, and wildlife, much of it preserved in federal and provincial parkland, that’s helped to build a $240-million tourism economy in Tofino, a town of just 2,500 people.
Despite thousands of years of caring for these lands and waters, First Nations in the region have historically been shut out of decisions about the management of these parks and the booming tourism economy they bring.
Indigenous nations across B.C. are increasingly asserting political power as the provincial and federal governments enter a new era of commitment to reconciliation. For First Nations, increasing their presence in their traditional territories is a key part of regaining their power, as the separation of Indigenous people from their lands was a main tool of colonization.
For the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, the tribal parks system is one method of reinstating their traditional role and claiming authority over the land.

17 August
Nunavik housing shortage – The far-reaching impacts on education
Housing for school board staff in the community of Quaqtaq. Nunavik is still missing some 160 units for its personnel, something that has knock-on effects on everything from teacher recruitment and retention, to the programs that are offered to students.
Nunavik, the Inuit region of northern Quebec, is home to 14,000 people. Overcrowding is a longstanding issue. For decades, the infrastructure needs in the North were neglected by southern governments and did not keep up with the region’s growing population.
Recent years have seen increasing investment but progress is slow given the complexity of construction in Arctic environments, lack of available land in some communities and the high cost of building in locations with no road networks linking them with the South.
Nunavik currently needs approximately 800 additional social housing units, which means many people in the region live in overcrowded conditions. The impacts on students living in cramped accommodations can be profound, leaving them nowhere to study quietly or do assignments. It can also leave them sleep deprived, hindering their ability to learn and causing behavioral problems.

9 August
Statement by the Prime Minister on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
“Today, on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we celebrate the diverse cultures, languages, and traditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and across the globe, and reaffirm our commitment to preserving and promoting them.
“This year’s theme is ‘Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination.’ Indigenous youth have the immense potential to shape a better, fairer world. Working with Indigenous partners from coast to coast to coast, we are taking significant steps, including through the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, and through Regional Education Agreements with First Nations as well as the Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy and the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy, to give young people the tools they need to keep leading the charge in pursuing economic, political, social, and cultural development.
How indigenous conservation protects Canada’s environment
In Canada, centring conservation with the country’s indigenous peoples is allowing its original stewards to reconnect to their land and culture – and proving remarkably effective.
(BBC) … a flourishing movement of 1,000 “Indigenous Guardians” across Canada who are stewarding their traditional lands and waters and redefining what conservation can – and many argue should – look like.
Amidst global ecological collapse, which some scientists call the “sixth mass extinction”, there is increasingly widespread acknowledgement that indigenous people can demonstrate a more sustainable path forward – one that other societies could learn from. This is due to both their relationship with the environment, based on respect and reciprocity, and their substantial but often undervalued contributions to biodiversity conservation.
In Canada, where there are feelings among many that colonialism is a historical problem but one still rooted in the present, centring conservation with the country’s original stewards is allowing indigenous people to reconnect to their land and culture. It is also reshaping relations between indigenous nations and non-indigenous Canada, presenting an opportunity for genuine reconciliation.
Amid Industrial Development Threats to Lands, Major Opportunities to Support Indigenous Stewardship
A new global study maps out conversion risks to Indigenous Peoples’ lands and emphasizes the importance of rights-based solutions.
By Sarah Wakefield Adhya, Communications Manager, Protect Oceans, Land and Water
(The Nature Conservancy) Rising demand for food, energy, minerals, and infrastructure is pushing extractive and commodity-driven development into areas that have historically avoided large-scale conversion.
This has implications for both Indigenous Peoples and the lands they govern, which harbor a significant proportion of the world’s biodiversity and help mitigate climate change. It also underscores the need for greater support of Indigenous stewardship and the adoption of transformative, rights-based approaches to conservation.
The study by Christina Kennedy and Brandie Fariss et al. in One Earth, provides the first comprehensive, global assessment of conversion risk to Indigenous Peoples’ lands and helps to identify where and how Indigenous communities, governments and organizations can work together to benefit both nature and people.
Indigenous Peoples’ lands are threatened by industrial development; conversion risk assessment reveals need to support Indigenous stewardship
Industrial development threatens nearly 60% of Indigenous Peoples’ lands in 64 countries
37 countries have highly threatened lands that are vulnerable to conversion
Vulnerabilities in rights, representation, and capital increase the risk of conversion
Support of Indigenous governance and stewardship can reduce conversion risk

8 August
Marc Miller on an abrupt job change
Immigration Minister Marc Miller spent five years trying to build some kind of meaningful trust between the federal government and Indigenous people, first as a parliamentary secretary in 2018 and later in two Cabinet portfolios.
There were achievements (historic compensation settlements, vastly reduced boil-water advisories in First Nation communities), but he also had critics (the Native Women’s Association of Canada recently gave Miller a failing grade on achieving progress for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls).
Miller’s files were some of the thorniest in government. But he loved working on them. And on July 26, with little notice, he found himself in a new job. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled Miller to immigration, part of a summertime sea change in Cabinet.

19 May
Indigenous nation in US seeks to block billion-dollar port project in Canada
Lummi Nation in Washington state says it holds transboundary rights and that Canada has failed to ‘consult and accommodate’
A tribal nation in the United States is seeking to block approval for a multibillion dollar port expansion in Canada, arguing that it holds transboundary rights and should have been included in consultation process.
The effort to block approval of a controversial new container terminal project in Vancouver marks the first major attempt to use a recent landmark decision by the Canadian supreme court, which found that some Indigenous peoples living in the US have rights in Canada.
On Thursday evening, the Lummi Nation filed a judicial review in Canadian federal court, seeking to quash approval of the Roberts Bank terminal expansion and arguing that Canada failed to “consult and accommodate” the nation on the “potential adverse impacts” the project could have on the community’s Aboriginal rights and title in Canada.

1 May
First nations in Quebec and Labrador recognize the rights of the St. Lawrence River
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) unanimously adopted a resolution to confer legal personhood to the St. Lawrence River. The official announcement was made on April 24th at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.
To commemorate International Mother Earth Day on Monday, the UN General Assembly held the 12th Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature,* which aimed to recognize Earth as a living system with rights.
In his speech before representatives of UN member states and global actors from civil society and the scientific community, as well as Indigenous representatives, AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard said that granting rights to nature, including the St. Lawrence River, is important because human rights are dependent on it.
In an interview with Radio Canada International (RCI), Picard said that the AFNQL is keeping a close eye on the work being done to confer legal personhood to natural elements, including the Gatineau River, the Magpie River and now the St. Lawrence River.

22 January
Landmark deals give Indigenous key role in Canada resource projects
YQT community signs unprecedented agreement with coal company giving Indigenous leadership ‘veto’ on proposed project
In recent years, Indigenous leadership in western Canada have advocated for a greater say in – or even full control over – resource projects that affect their territory.
The deal comes as the Blueberry River First Nations, a community 1,200km away, announced its own historic agreement with the province of British Columbia. In landscape scarred by a relentless push for new industrial development, the deal would see new protections for wildlife, a halt to logging in old-growth forests, new compensation for the community. Any new resource extraction projects will be limited in how much land they can disturb.

The provincial government has also agreed to establish a C$200m restoration fund by to support “healing” of the land from years of industrial disturbance.
In 2021, the British Columbia supreme court sided with Blueberry River, finding the province had violated the nation’s treaty rights by allowing fossil fuel development in the region that had prevented the nation from being able to live off the land.
More deals on revenue sharing and land rehabilitation between the provincial government and First Nations are expected in the coming days.


19 December
In Danielle Smith’s fantasy Alberta, Indigenous struggle is twisted to suit settlers
(The Conversation) What do a notorious Ku Klux Klan writer, right-wing libertarianism, the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the “lost cause” of the American Confederacy have to do with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s recent controversial statements on Indigenous matters?
More than we might imagine.
Smith was recently forced to backpedal on comments conflating the ugly history of the Indian Act with Alberta’s treatment by Ottawa.
Just a month earlier, her office had to publicly address her solidly debunked claims of distant Cherokee heritage. She also compared the deadly ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee Trail of Tears with Alberta’s anti-Ottawa conflict as though they shared a similar moral significance.
Smith’s grasp on Indigenous issues is untethered from actual history. It seems rooted not in genuine allyship and justice but in the appropriation of Indigenous experiences to advance white grievance politics in Alberta and beyond.

7 December
Ottawa announces up to $800M for Indigenous-led conservation projects
(Global) As Canada hosts the COP15 biological diversity conference in Montreal — the prime minister is announcing major funding for an Indigenous-led conservation partnership. The federal government is providing up to $800 million to support four major projects across the country — covering almost a million square kilometres.
A portion of the funds announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday will support 17 First Nations in developing a long-term conservation finance model for the Great Bear Sea initiative.
The initiative aims to protect the Great Bear Sea’s ecosystems, create thousands of jobs, support sustainable local economies, and strengthen Indigenous governance, according to Coastal First Nations.

25 October
Canada is ‘weaving’ Indigenous science into environmental policy-making
(CBC) As the first director of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s new division of Indigenous Science, Myrle Ballard is setting out to make sure Indigenous peoples are part of the solution to climate change.
Research shows that Indigenous communities in Canada are at higher risk from climate-related disasters such as flooding. Myrle Ballard is setting out to make sure Indigenous people are also part of the solution to climate change.
Ballard is the first director of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s new division of Indigenous Science, a role in which she’s tasked with raising awareness of Indigenous science within the department and helping the government find ways to integrate it into its policies.
“Indigenous science is … a science of the way of knowing the land. It’s a way of knowing the water, the air, everything about the Earth. Their knowledge of the weather patterns, their knowledge of how species migrate,” Ballard said in an interview with What On Earth. “It’s this knowledge that has enabled them to survive.”
Ballard, an assistant professor in the faculty of science at the University of Manitoba, is Anishinaabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation. Some of her own research looks at what Indigenous languages reveal about local ecosystems. She said her own first language, Anishinaabemowin, has a scientific management tool embedded within it.
“We have words for various spaces and places right across the country that are very significant to the natural state of the ecosystem,” she said.
The names of streams, for example, reveal details about the natural way water flows. Other words contain information about when fish start to spawn, said Ballard.
“We have words like that that are very significant as a biological monitor throughout our language,” said Ballard. “They’re the indicators of the state of the ecosystem and the way it was before, to the present.”
Ballard, who was hired in July to lead the new permanent division, is using a process she calls “bridging, braiding and weaving.” Bridging means raising awareness about Indigenous science within the government, while braiding is when Western scientists work together on research with Indigenous peoples on the land.
“The weaving process will be when the government, when the department ECCC, starts weaving Indigenous and Western science for better-informed decision-making,” she said.

12-24 October
Terry Glavin: Another “Indigenous” Icon Outed.
So it’s turned out that the famous 1970s-era Native American Oscar gala celebrity activist, model and actress Sacheen Littlefeather wasn’t Apache or Yaqui or Native American in any way, after all, this past weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle has awkwardly divulged.
Joseph Boyden [The making of Joseph Boyden], Canada’s internationally-acclaimed author, high-society Indigenous interlocutor and friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who collaborated on a thing about residential schools with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, …had variously claimed Indigenous identity as Metis, Mi’kmaq, Nipmuc, Anishinabe, Ojibwe, and Wasauksing. He once somehow situated his understanding of Indigenous life at least partly in his Uncle Erl (an irony alert is warranted here). Uncle Erl was a white man who boasted about having masqueraded for the tourists as “Injun Joe” selling curios from a wigwam at Algonquin Park in the 1950s, where he’d famously shot a tourist in the head, by accident. After he was outed, Boyden settled on being an “eighth” aboriginal, and his legions of supporters insisted that this was a sufficient claim; after all, he was such an eloquent spokesperson for the Indigenous perspective, it was all for a good cause, so everyone should back off.
…the phenomenon of the “pretendian” is more than a century old. The beginning of Littlefeather’s story wasn’t so much in Salinas in 1946 as in a posh household in the English seaside town of Hastings, on September 18, 1888. In that place and on that date Archie Belaney was born. Belaney was a philanderer, a bigamist, a drunk and a fabulously successful author and self-promoter known to the world as Grey Owl, eventually eulogized by the Globe and Mail in 1938 as “the most famous of Canadian Indians.”
… I don’t mean to be uncharitable to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, either, but the truth is she may now be fairly described as a white lady from Niagara Falls, Ontario, and not the decorated Treaty Cree person from Norway House, Manitoba, who was recently a candidate to become the first Indigenous justice on the Supreme Court of Canada.
Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases statement on Indigenous ancestry following CBC report
UBC Allard professor and lawyer Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-kwe) has released a statement in response to questions about her claims to Indigenous ancestry.
Disputed history
(CBC) Prominent scholar and former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says she is a treaty Indian of Cree ancestry — but her claims don’t appear to match the historical record. Her story illuminates a complex and growing discussion about Indigenous identity that’s playing out across the country.

8 September
Diane Francis: Rampage Without End
Canada rarely makes world headlines, but unfortunately three major stories have become global this year involving the country’s ongoing aboriginal tragedy. This spring, there was the grim discovery of hundreds more unmarked graves beside former residential schools run by the Catholic Church where abuses against aboriginal children took place for decades. In July, the Pope began a “penitential voyage” across Canada to apologize for these crimes and try to help native communities heal. But this week, the ravages of inter-generational trauma caused by the historical abuse of aboriginals unfolded when a 32-year-old aboriginal man on parole went on a stabbing rampage in Saskatchewan and killed 11 people, wounded another 17, then died days later in police custody of self-inflicted injuries. This awful story illustrates how untreated trauma, caused by abuse and violence, lurks behind most of the world’s misery, from violent crimes to addiction, mistreatment of others, and even wars against innocent nations. …
Canada has only 1.67 million aboriginals (First Nations and Inuit) or roughly four per cent of its population of 38.6 million but aboriginals represent 32 percent of the male federal prison population and 48 percent of the female prison population. Despite considerable concern and fiscal support in Canada for aboriginals, one in four live in poverty and 40 percent of Canada’s indigenous children live in poverty. To blame is communities with leaders who are impaired, indifferent, and autocratic.
Fugitive suspect in Saskatchewan stabbing rampage is dead
Myles Sanderson went into medical distress after he was arrested and was pronounced dead at a hospital in Saskatoon, Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchewan RCMP, told a news conference Wednesday night.
Ten people were left dead and another 18 injured in the James Smith Cree Nation area and the nearby village of Weldon, Sask., over the Labour Day weekend. Those tallies do not include Myles or his brother, Damien Sanderson, who was also facing charges before he was found dead on Monday.
Parole board horrifically failed James Smith Cree Nation
(NP view) It’s hard to see how anyone could read an account of Myles Sanderson’s history of violence, criminal activity and substance abuse, and conclude that releasing him from prison would “not present an undue risk,” and would actually “contribute to the protection of society.” Yet that is exactly what the Parole Board of Canada decided in February.
The results were tragic: one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history, which left 11 dead, including Sanderson’s brother and alleged accomplice in the stabbing spree, and 18 injured. Sanderson himself died after his arrest Wednesday night. The case highlights systemic failures in our criminal justice system, which puts community safety at risk by treating too many violent offenders with kid gloves.
Parole board saw high risk of violence in Myles Sanderson, but approved his release anyway
In its assessment of his potential for safe reintegration to society, the parole board described Myles Sanderson’s childhood as characterized by neglect, in homes where violence and substance abuse were normalized. After his parents divorced when he was nine, he was living between his father’s home in a city, his grandparents’ home on a First Nation, and later his mother’s home. He has what the parole board describes as an “incomplete education and limited employment experience,” and substance abuse behaviour that dates to age 12, with alcohol and marijuana. He started using cocaine at 14, and more recently reported a three month period of crystal methamphetamine use.

20 August
Canada ‘forever discharged’ Catholic entities from $25 million campaign for residential school survivors, documents show
(Globe & Mail) Indigenous leaders and legal experts have long questioned why Ottawa opted to give up an appeal of a court decision that meant Catholic entities didn’t have to pay their remaining financial obligations under the historic Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.
The actions of the Catholic groups involved – and by extension, the Catholic Church as an institution – as well as Ottawa, have been under renewed scrutiny since the uncovering of what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites, which First Nations began announcing last year.
The dispute in question arose years before and culminated in a court decision handed down by a Saskatchewan judge in July 2015.
By Oct. 30, 2015, a final agreement was signed by the former deputy minister in what had been called Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada, freeing the Catholic entities of their financial obligations.
“Should discussions around the order result in a release that is limited to three financial obligations, Canada will not pursue the appeal,” reads a document dated September 2015. It included an illegible signature from a former minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which at the time was in the middle of a federal election campaign.
[Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc] Miller said it belong to Bernard Valcourt, Harper’s former minister of aboriginal affairs.

2-3 August
Pope Francis asks for ‘forgiveness in the name of the church’ for abuses at residential schools
Pope Francis said on Wednesday he felt the pain of survivors of Canada’s residential school system and he asked for “forgiveness in the name of the church” for the role many of its members played in abusing children and attempting to erase Indigenous cultures.
The pope dedicated his talk at his weekly general audience to his trip last week to Canada, where he delivered a historic apology for the church’s role in the government-sanctioned schools, which operated between 1870 and 1996.
Pope Francis’s visit to Canada was full of tensions — both from what was said and what wasn’t
Christine Jamieson, Associate Professor, Theological Studies, Concordia University
(The Conversation) Reactions to Pope Francis’s apology in Canada for harm perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church on children at Indian Residential Schools were far from unanimous.
While some have acknowledged the apology was genuine and deeply felt, there was tension and a mix of welcome reception and protest.
These tensions were illustrated during Cree woman Si Phi Ko’s protest. After former Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild placed a headdress on the Pope’s head, Phi Ko could not be silent as she saw it as a sign of disrespect. But for Chief Littlechild, Pope Francis choosing to visit his territory was an honour.
This tension, poles of reception and protest was evoked not only from what was said by Pope Francis in his apology, but by what was omitted.
What was omitted
While recognizing the importance of the apology, former TRC commissioner Murray Sinclair saw a “deep hole” in it.
Sinclair said the Catholic Church’s role in the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples was more than just the work of a few bad people.
What was also omitted, in some instances, was the presence of survivors — from the procession to sitting in the front seats during the eucharist, both in Edmonton and at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Indigenous symbols and ceremonies were also omitted from the altar and during the service.
While Pope Francis sincerely sought reconciliation, reconciliation did not seem to touch these forms of celebration and the clash of cultures was palatable.

24-30 July
Why Pope Francis may be hesitant to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery
(CBC) On May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull known as “Inter Caetera” that provided Portugal and Spain the religious backing to expand their territories in Africa and the Americas for the sake of spreading Christianity. The papal bull said that land not inhabited by Christians could be claimed, while “barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”
While the doctrine justified the colonization, conversion and enslavement of Indigenous peoples, and the seizure of their lands, scholars say it also laid the foundation for Canada’s claim to land and the Indian Act, which laid the groundwork for residential schools.
Dias says other edicts soon replaced the Doctrine of Discovery. For example, by 1537, Pope Paul III had issued his own decree that opposed the enslavement of Indigenous peoples. He wrote that they should “by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.”
The Vatican did address the doctrine in a statement to the United Nations Ninth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April 2010.
The doctrine, the Vatican argued, had been abrogated as early as 1494 and that “circumstances have changed so much that to attribute any juridical value to such a document seems completely out of place.”
The Doctrine of Discovery had also been abrogated by other papal bulls, encyclicals, statements and decrees, it said.
The Doctrine of Discovery explained and what would happen if the Pope revoked it
(National Post) The idea that Europeans could claim land not belonging to them, which is inherent in the Doctrine of Discovery, paved the way for the Indian Act and residential schools

Pope says genocide took place at Canada’s residential schools
Pontiff concludes ‘penitential pilgrimage’ of reconciliation between Catholic Church and Indigenous people
Ka’nhehsí:io Deer
(CBC) Pope Francis described Canada’s residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children as genocide. Brock Pitawanakwat, the co-ordinator of the Indigenous Studies program at York University, called the Pope’s comments ‘late,’ but said they were an ‘important development.’
While the word genocide wasn’t heard in any of Pope Francis’s addresses during a week-long trip to Canada, on his flight back to Rome, he said everything he described about the residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children amounts to genocide.
Pope Francis, in Iqaluit visit, asks forgiveness for residential schools
Pope Francis wrapped up his Canadian visit on Friday evening in Iqaluit with an outdoor public speech before a crowd of both admirers and critics, and again offered an apology for the “evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics” involved in Canada’s residential school system.
The roughly four-hour visit — which went more than an hour longer than planned — included private meetings with residential school survivors, as well as public performances by traditional singers and drummers. It culminated in the Pope’s public speech outside a local elementary school.

Doctrine of Discovery is a ‘legal fiction,’ but revoking it won’t herald immediate changes, experts say
The principle is entrenched in Canadian and U.S. law and may be a challenge to dismantle.
(APTN) Pope Francis and his entourage of Vatican officials on their week-long Canadian pilgrimage have faced mounting pressure to renounce, repudiate and revoke something scholars increasingly describe as a legal fiction rooted in imperial ideology: the Doctrine of Discovery.
For centuries, this doctrine justified the seizure and dispossession of Indigenous territories and nations all over the world. Canadian judges have based their country’s sovereignty claims on it for 134 years.
While experts say a public papal renunciation won’t bring major domestic legal changes overnight, it will provide an impetus for lawmakers and judges to change their thinking.

Pope denounces ‘evil’ of sexual abuse during service in Quebec City
Pope Francis, who is presiding over Thursday evening prayers in Quebec City, acknowledged the sexual abuse inflicted on “minors and vulnerable people” for the first time since arriving in Canada.
In his homily, Francis said the Catholic Church in Canada is on a new path after being devastated by “the evil perpetrated by some of its sons and daughters.”
He said addressing sexual abuse and other such “crimes” requires “firm action” and an “irreversible commitment.”
Francis has apologized during stops in Alberta and Quebec for the role Catholic institutions played in the Indigenous residential school system but until now had not directly spoken of sexual abuse.
Trudeau urges Vatican to take concrete action on Indigenous artifacts and residential school documents
The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today released a statement about his meeting yesterday with Pope Francis at the Citadelle of Quebec.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with His Holiness Pope Francis
Trudeau thanked the Pope “for visiting Canada to engage with Indigenous Peoples on their ancestral lands, acknowledge the truths about the residential school system, and recognize its painful legacy for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada,” the statement reads.
Trudeau and the Pope “discussed the importance of the Roman Catholic Church’s continued meaningful engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in advancing healing and reconciliation. They also discussed the need for the church to take concrete action to repatriate Indigenous artifacts, provide access to residential schools documents, address the Doctrine of Discovery, and ensure justice for survivors, including for the Rivoire case.”
‘It’s empty’: Montreal Mohawk women’s group slams Pope’s apology
Apology isn’t enough to heal the wounds created by the Catholic Church’s mistreatment of First Nations families and communities, some say.
“I don’t know how anyone can apologize for what they did, which is the genocide of our people, the stamping out of our languages, the killing of our children, the experimentations — all of that in order to take the land away from us,” Mohawk Mother Kahentinetha said Wednesday
Although he branded the forced cultural assimilation of First Nations children a “deplorable evil” and “disastrous error,” Pope Francis hasn’t mentioned sexual abuse in his remarks since landing in Canada. He also hasn’t brought up the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, a centuries-old decree from the Vatican that countries such as Canada used to justify the colonization of Indigenous lands.
Canada’s bishops want Catholic Church to issue new statement on Doctrine of Discovery
(The Star/Canadian Press) Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican in the hope of issuing a new statement from the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery, the organizers of the papal visit said Wednesday.
Many Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors had hoped Pope Francis would renounce the policy, which stems from a series of edicts, known as papal bulls, dating back to the 15th century. Countries, including Canada, have used the doctrine to justify colonizing lands considered to be uninhabited, but were in fact home to Indigenous Peoples.
The pontiff did not directly mention the Doctrine of Discovery when he delivered his apology to residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alta., on Monday, which has prompted criticism it failed to fully recognize the role played by the Catholic Church in the residential school system.
Pope Francis’s apology evokes faint praise from Indigenous groups in U.S., Canada
“An apology must include steps forward that are both justice-seeking and that open pathways for healing,” said Deb Parker, chief executive of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
Parker singled out the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, a series of 15th-century edicts and decrees by the Catholic Church that justified and encouraged Europe’s colonization of Indigenous lands in the Americas in the name of furthering Christianity.
“The time is now to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery,” she said. “Pope Francis was asked to do exactly this by the Indigenous delegation to the Vatican four months ago and has yet to respond.”
Pope Francis apology: What wasn’t said in address to residential school survivors
In the lead-up to the Pope’s visit, Indigenous leaders made specific calls about what they wanted to see in the apology and where they hoped it would lead to next.
A revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery
The Assembly of First Nations has been among the loudest bodies calling for the renouncement(sic) of the 15th-century policy.
It was a decree from the Vatican that countries including Canada used to justify the colonization of Indigenous lands.
[What is the Doctrine of Discovery? As with the discredited notion of “terra nullius”, the doctrine of “discovery” was used to legitimize the colonization of Indigenous peoples in different regions of the world. It was used to dehumanize, exploit and subjugate Indigenous peoples and dispossess them of their most basic rights. Based on such fictitious and racist doctrines as “discovery” and “terra nullius”, European nations were relentless in their determination to seize and control indigenous lands. Papal bulls, such as Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455) called for non-Christian peoples to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, reduced to perpetual slavery, and to have their possessions and property seized by Christian monarchs. Such ideology led to practices that continue unabated in the form of modern day laws and policies of successor States. This Doctrine is the foundation of laws.]
Pope Francis’s “Penitential Pilgrimage” to Canada’s Indigenous Communities
Papal acknowledgment of the Church’s transgressions is relatively new, but Francis has tried to make it central to the job.
(The New Yorker) …he arrived on Sunday [24 July], in Edmonton, Alberta, returns to Rome on Saturday, and, most days, will take part in just one event each morning and afternoon—and a sombre mood attends it.
Pope acknowledges need for ‘concrete action’ in mending relationship with Indigenous people
Francis completes pilgrimage in Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., on Tuesday
The sounds of First Nations drumming and Métis fiddlers echoed across the shores of Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta, as Pope Francis arrived at the national historical site Tuesday for an annual pilgrimage significant to many Indigenous people.
… The visit was part of the Pope’s six-day “penitential pilgrimage” in Canada to express “sorrow … healing and reconciliation” between the Catholic Church and Indigenous people.
“In this blessed place, where harmony and peace reign, we present to you the disharmony of our experiences, the terrible effects of colonization, the indelible pain of so many families, grandparents and children. Help us to be healed of our wounds.”
The pontiff acknowledged that in order to achieve that, “effort, care and concrete actions” are required on the church’s part.
While he did not expand on what those concrete actions may be, the Pope did say that they will rely on the intercession of Indigenous women and elders.
Pope’s residential school apology prompts mixed emotions from Manitoba survivors
Phil Fontaine, the former chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a residential school survivor says, for him, accepting the Pope’s apology is an important step in moving forward. But not all survivors feel that way.
Pope Francis didn’t mention sexual abuse, day school survivors in long-awaited apology in Canada
‘A deep hole’ — Murray Sinclair, Romeo Saganash harshly criticize Pope’s apology
Francis didn’t acknowledge Catholic Church’s leading role in residential schools, says senator who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Pope Francis faced blistering, high-profile criticisms over his apology to Indigenous survivors of residential schools in Canada from those who say it fell far short of the demands and expectations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
… A group calling itself Mohawk Mothers, or kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera, is planning a protest in Montreal to mark his arrival in the province, which was once Canada’s Catholic heartland.
The group rejects the Pope’s apology…and noted in a statement that the Iroquoian language used by Indigenous Peoples living in the St. Lawrence Valley when European settlers arrived had no words for saying “I am sorry,” only for saying “I will make it right.”
… The group is also demanding the removal of a giant steel cross that sits at the summit of Mount Royal, the successor of a wooden cross said to have been erected when French explorer Jacques Cartier arrived in the territory.

14 July
Ottawa says it will support First Nations fight against Quebec’s new language law
The federal minister of Indigenous services said Thursday she supports the will of Indigenous communities to be exempt from Quebec’s new language law, which limits the use of English in the public service and increases French-language requirements in schools.
Patty Hajdu told a news conference she was “preoccupied” to hear that Indigenous leaders think the language law, known as Bill 96, will have a negative impact on the rights of First Nations children to be educated in the language and culture of their choice.
“We cannot put barriers in the way of children striving to reach their full potential, including barriers that involve language,” Hajdu said. “We will continue to stand by and defend the leaders with whom I have the opportunity to work. I see it as an important part of my role as minister.”
Hajdu made the comments after participating in a signing ceremony for a new agreement under which Ottawa will give $1.1 billion over five years to First Nations communities in Quebec to help fund education. The ceremony was held on the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake, south of Montreal.

10 May
First Nations leaders say Quebec has ignored their pleas to be exempt from Bill 96
Kanien:keha’ka and speakers of Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — are raising concern over a proposed Quebec law that would update the province’s existing Charter of the French Language.
(CBC) Quebec says it won’t change Bill 96 to exempt Indigenous youth from having to take extra French courses in CEGEP, despite mounting calls from First Nations leaders who say their efforts to rebuild their languages and cultures are in jeopardy.
Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer — who held a news conference at the National Assembly Tuesday alongside Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador and Gesgapegiag First Nation Chief John Martin — said her community would hold protest actions until it felt heard.

11 April
Outdoor education program gives First Nations youth in Saskatchewan a new taste of old ways of life
Learning to ride dog sleds, hunt game and pick berries and medicine, students at White Bear First Nations are discovering the benefits of a land-based education
The program, which incorporates activities like picking berries, harvesting traditional medicines, tanning hides and trapping, is not only helping Indigenous students get the credits they need to graduate, it is helping them embrace their traditional way of life.
Kevin Lewis, an assistant professor in curriculum studies at the University of Saskatchewan, has been certifying land-based educators for over 20 years in northern Saskatchewan. He says the curriculum for courses like Mr. Schmidt’s comes from the rivers, the wind, the land, and traditional teachings, and often reflects the spiritual side of Indigenous people. It is an authentic experience, with culture braided throughout the class activities. Education like this revitalizes an Indigenous way of living, he says. It helps instill an appreciation of lifelong learning and reinforces a sense of Indigenous identity.
The demise of traditional Indigenous practices is one of the painful consequences of the residential schools system, he says. Many young Indigenous people haven’t learned these traditions because the relatives who would’ve taught them were taken away from their families and forced to learn residential school curriculum.

1 April

Pope apologizes for ‘deplorable conduct’ of some Catholics in residential schools

(WaPo) After years of resisting calls to do so, Pope Francis on Friday apologized for the “deplorable conduct” of some Catholics in Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous children, saying he was “deeply grieved” by the stories of “suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse” from survivors.
Speaking to an audience that included an Indigenous delegation that traveled from Canada to the Vatican this week to press for an apology, Francis said he felt “shame” for the role Catholics have had “in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”
“All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the pope said at the Apostolic Palace. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”
Francis reiterated a pledge made last year to visit Canada, where he said he would be “better able” to express his “closeness.”

Canadian Bishops welcome Pope’s apology to Indigenous peoples
(Vatican news) Pope Francis asked for pardon during an audience with indigenous Canadians Friday in the Vatican, in the wake of recent revelations of abuse in Canada’s residential school system. The Pope also expressed his hope to visit the nation this year
Pope apologises to indigenous Canadians for wrongs at residential schools
Pope hopes to visit Canada in July; jokes: “not in winter”
Indigenous leaders pleased, call apology “historic”
Pope feels “sorrow and shame” for attempt to erase culture
Prime Minister Trudeau praises apology, welcomes visit

30 March
B.C. reveals 89-point action plan to advance the rights of Indigenous Peoples
Government and Indigenous leaders herald 5-year plan as historic step toward reconciliation
The 89 actions address a wide range of issues, including governance, land and water stewardship, salmon, education, anti-indigenous racism, child welfare, policing and justice, data collection, health care, sport and recreation, Indigenous languages, climate change, B.C. place names, cannabis policy and high-speed internet access.
Each of the 89 actions notes which provincial ministry is responsible for its implementation.
Premier John Horgan called the plan a roadmap to do “what has never been done on planet Earth before.”
“This … is a first for any government in the world. It will drive transformative change in the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and help us build a brighter future for everyone,” said Horgan.

11 March
First Nations drinking water settlement open for claims from communities, individuals
$8-billion settlement follows class-action lawsuits over unsafe drinking water
After a years-long fight for clean drinking water, Indigenous communities and individuals in Canada are a step closer to receiving money from a class-action lawsuit that was settled with the federal government for $8 billion last year.
The claims process under the settlement opened up to submissions on Monday. Indigenous communities now have until Dec. 22 to file their claims, while individuals have until March 7, 2023.
The legal fight began in 2019, when two separate lawsuits were filed against the federal government — one by Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, both from Ontario, in the Federal Court of Canada, and the second by Tataskweyak Cree Nation in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench — concerning prolonged drinking-water advisories on First Nations reserves across the country.

10 March
Canadian pipeline groups spend big to pose as Indigenous champions
Oil and gas companies are ‘Indigenous-washing’ their ads to garner support for projects on First Nation lands
The fossil fuel groups spent some C$122,000 (US$95,249) on more than 400 targeted Facebook and Instagram ads over the past two years relating to various oil and gas projects throughout the country. The ads spiked last November during Indigenous land defense actions on the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia and solidarity protests across Canada. The vast majority of the ads, which were shown some 21m times in total, were linked to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the site of intense protest and violent police crackdown in recent years.

3 January
Ottawa reaches $40-billion deal with First Nations over child welfare
The federal government has reached a $40-billion agreement in principle related to First Nations child welfare, with half the money earmarked to compensate adults who went through the system as children and the other half directed toward reform.
The parties reached the agreement on New Year’s Eve, on the last day of negotiations, which included the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and representatives of class-action lawsuits related to Indigenous child welfare. The federal government will reveal details of the non-binding agreement on Tuesday.
Mary Teegee, who represents British Columbia on the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s board, confirmed on Sunday that $20-billion will be directed toward compensation and $20-billion to reform.

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