Volume 34 No. 9 • August 2016
New structures being added to Anishinaabe camp at National Park Page 2
Thunder Bay inquest: Transition students to prepare them Page 7
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Seeking justice for Grassy Narrows Grassy Narrows First Nation and supporters continue to hike up the pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario government to clean up the Wabigoon-English River systems of toxic mercury waste. Marie Clarke Walker, Executive Vice President, Canadian Labour Congress speaking at press conference at Queen’s Park, Toronto, July 7.
Story and photos on page 9. August I 2016
[ news ]
New structures being added to Anishinaabe camp at National Park By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
Near Marathon, Ont.
Visitors to Canada’s Pukaskwa National Park are getting a special treat right now. The traditional Anishinaabe camp there is being is being relocated and two new structures are being created. Park staff commissioned an entire family of artisans from the Biigtigong First Nation—whose territory the park sits on in part— to build a traditional wiigwaam, and a cook-tent called a jiibaakwewgamig. Visitors have had the luxury of watching the artisans work during guided tours. “Pukaskwa had its first Anishinaabe camp up by 2002, and it was inspired by some of the Ojibwe Elders in the area… This is a rebuilding of the camp that was here previously,” said Eva Couchie, one of the four artists tasked with creating the wiigwaam and cook-tent. “It doesn’t mean we’re repairing the old structures. The old structures lived their lives here in the park, they were torn down, and we started in a new location,” she said. Eva, her husband Dan, her daughter Bonnie, and Bonnie’s husband Gord, are all working together on the projects. They’ve been officially at it since June 22, and are scheduled to finish within the first week of July. Eva’s motivation to work on the project was her desire to share the culture with others, and she says Elders in the community share the same pride. “Some of the Elders were very emotional about seeing the structures being put up. They were talking about how important it was to them to see our culture being recognized and acknowledged, and how grateful they were that young people and other visitors would have the opportunity to see real, traditional structures,” she said. According to Dan Couchie, it’s gratifying, but tough work, and the family had to start long before June. Making the traditional wiigwaam and cook tent required the harvesting of certain natural materials they had to scout for in spring, such as trees and sapling poles that were just the right size. And it also required serious prep work. “For the cook shelter, it’s black spruce poles. They have to be peeled and de-limbed and all those little sharp branch ends pulled off. Then the birchbark is a big component of it,” he said, adding that the wiigwaam uses primarily white birch sapling poles, and he and his wife gathered 55 of them. “And we used spruce roots for lacing the bark. Then rawhide cut into long strips for tying off real
critical areas,” he said. The only store-bought substance was jute, said Dan. Jute is a plant fibre spun into twine. The family used it to fasten the poles of the wiigwaam frame because it’s significantly stronger than the rawhide twine they’d been using to tie pieces together in other places. “We’re taking a two-week time frame to do it, and putting in very long days. Way back when people were living in them on a daily basis, they put them together a lot quicker. We’re taking a lot of care to ensure it’s very sturdy,” said Dan. The relocation piece, for this year’s revamping of the park and the Anishinaabe camp, is the result of advice from Elders and knowledge keepers of the Biigtigong First Nation, said Sharon Hayes, Pukaskwa Park Manager. The old location and the new location aren’t that far apart, she said, but the new location enhances the park’s mandate in sharing real, true Anishinaabe culture with people, and giving them a heavy dose of nature at the same time. “Where it’s moved is a better view-scape of what we call the Hattie Cove area. It’s what we were hearing from staff who worked closely with Biigtigong First Nation Elders, and it seemed to be a more fitting spot where you could see a little bit out onto the water,” said Hayes. “A big part of what people are seeking is that true wilderness environment… We hope that when people leave they have a broadened understanding of what Indigenous culture is and what it means to this landscape,” she said.
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DAN COUCHIE
Eva Couchie preparing spruce roots for lacing birchbark panels together
August I 2016
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Blueberry River is overrun with development 6 The Blueberry River First Nation now has substantial evidence their traditional territory is being infringed upon. In fact, it’s being more than infringed upon, according to a report released by the First Nation, with help from the David Suzuki Foundation, and EcoTrust Canada.
Thunder Bay inquest: Transition students to prepare them, and keep them connected to home 7 Quinn Meawasige believes that the 145 recommendations that came from a coroner’s jury earlier this week have firmly at the centre of them the seven young people who died over an 11-year period in the city of Thunder Bay. “I think their stories were very much a part of the inquest,” said Meawasige, member of the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council, which participated in the inquest and contributed to the recommendations considered by the five-member jury.
Is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne the new face of colonialism in Canada? 9 Grassy Narrows First Nation and supporters continue to hike up the pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario government to clean up the Wabigoon-English River systems of toxic mercury waste.
Departments [ alberta sweetgrass ] 10 - 14 [ saskatchewan sage ] 15
[ sports ] 16 [ education ] 17 [ health ] 18 [ careers] 19& 20 [ footprints ] Len Marchand 21 At a time when his people were so restricted by the Indian Act they were barely surviving, Len Marchand began his rise to the highest ranks of power in this country. “He was born into a world of Indian agents, where his people could not vote, and where a university degree or serving in the war meant losing your status and the right to livef on the land,” wrote Lori Marchand in a tribute to her dad on his 80th birthday.
21 ADVERTISING The advertising deadline for the August II 2016 issue of Windspeaker is August 12, 2016. Call toll free at: 1-800-661-5469 for more information. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
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Windspeaker is published by the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) Canada's largest publisher of Aboriginal news and information. AMMSA's other publications include:
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August I 2016
[ news ]
Saganash stands firm that UNDRIP must become law By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Romeo Saganash is adamant that Canadian laws can be “in harmony” with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. So says a private member’s bill that received first reading April 21. “There is nothing ‘unworkable’ about that,” said Saganash, using the word spoken by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who said UNDRIP cannot be adopted as Canadian law. On July 12, Wilson-Raybould addressed the Assembly of First Nations at the annual general assembly and told chiefs and delegates, “….Simplistic approaches, such as adopting the UNDRIP as being Canadian law are unworkable and, respectfully, a political distraction to undertaking the hard work required to actually implement it.”
Saganash suggests that WilsonRaybould “go back to reading” the Calls to Action presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In call 43, the TRC directs all levels of government to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP “as the framework for reconciliation” and in call 44, the TRC directs the federal government to “develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals” of UNDRIP. “My bill is proposing to do that exactly. My bill is proposing to implement what (the Liberal government) had promised Indigenous people,” said Saganash, NDP MP for AbitibiBaie James-Nunavik-Eeyou. The Trudeau government pledged to implement all 94 Calls to Action from the TRC. He pointed out that the opponents of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was created in 1982, also said it was unworkable.
Continued on Page 18.
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Prove it. Keep your commitment. Our youth knocked it out of the park on the first day of the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly, held in Niagara Falls, Ont. July 12 to 14. These young people came to the assembly to tell the chiefs and delegates a few hard truths. They needed a reason to hope, asking the chiefs to envision what hope means. These young people re-invigorated the assembly delegates and gave the rest of the old war horses there a reason to believe and work towards an improved future. And the young people laid out the challenges that they face each and every day. They told the chiefs they don’t want to face them alone anymore. The new co-chairs of the AFN national youth council introduced a youth group that had walked 950 km, from Cochrane, Ont. to the assembly, to bring a message about suicide prevention. Co-chair Jennifer O’Bomsawin described the hard journey of the Attawapiskat Youth Walkers of Hope. Among the challenges faced by the 14 walkers along their journey was sweltering heat, storms, black flies and mosquitos, she said. Co-chair Andre Bear said the courageous walkers had come to express their deep frustration with the leaders. “They are calling on all levels of government, including chiefs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, premiers and ministers, and municipalities to find a way to join and support their spiritual walk of hope,” he said. But it was walker and spokesperson Patrick Etherington Jr. who drove the message home about the ugliness of suicide, and the action required to put meaning into the often used phrase “our young people are our future.” “I’ve heard that since I was young,” Etherington said. “The system has failed us…. failed miserably.” He said he had lost faith in those words. The older generations have let the youth down. Enough talk, he told the delegates. “We all know the talk. We’ve all heard the talk. All of us here have heard the talk. It’s easy to talk, but it takes action to implement it. So, that’s what we want.” It was a straight-up clear message, and he and the other walkers had the credentials to say it. All they had to do was walk 950 km to be heard, he said. “Prove your words. It’s easy to talk, but it’s harder to implement your commitment… We showed it. We showed our commitment to this issue.” The young people across the country are engaged in addressing the issue of suicide. Youth from Manitoba region have produced
a video about suicide and preserving young lives, and we were given insight when it was played during the Young Voices session. Key to the discussion was identity and the search for identity. Our young people don’t feel connected to their identity, the video tells us. There is a disconnect. Kids sit in their houses, they don’t interact with each other, or play with each other. “I don’t know if they know how, because a lot of the playing, a lot of the laughter has been taken out of these communities.” It’s a stunning statement. Kids play in the dirt, play with a stick. They don’t even have a ball. “It’s really… they have nothing.” One young man said everything gets taken away from them. Can’t skateboard because they can’t afford a helmet, and the local RCMP intervene. Poverty affects play, and a lack of play degrades the enjoyment of young lives. What’s wrong with us that we need our young people to point this out to us? Our young people don’t feel connected to their culture or their people. What are we going to do about that? The jobs of leaders can distract from what is most important. While we are working at high levels on important topics, we fail to see our children sitting in the dirt. In a plenary panel called Moving Beyond the Indian Act, the magnificent powerhouse of a speaker Regena Crowchild of Tsuut’ina Nation talked about a hopeful future and how we get there. A hopeful future for our young people and moving beyond the Indian Act are intertwined, because both are about identity. “Let’s be true leaders,” Crowchild said. “These young people that came in and asking for ‘what’s hope?... Let’s give it to them. Let’s show it to them. Get back to our own laws, incorporate our value systems, be honest, be transparent. Be a part of the solutions that we have within our own reserves. We can do that and we can give them hope. And then maybe there’ll be no more suicides. They will be a part of the community, and not just the leadership acting by themselves. “We’ve got to engage our community, our members, our citizens. … It’s simple. You want to move beyond the Indian Act, go back, find out who are, what your identity is, what your history is as a people, your customs, traditions, and set them out. And let Canada recognize and respect us like they’ve been telling us. Put them to task.” And share what you’ve learned with the children. We’ve been challenged, by Regena and by Patrick. Don’t let their words fall on deaf ears. Windspeaker
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews August I 2016
[ rants and raves ]
News Briefs Consistent cultural resource will help urban youth Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) has committed $6.3 million over three years to fund 28 friendship centres and two satellite sites with cultural resource coordinators. They will provide culture and culture-based program and service delivery to improve identity and foster healthy relationships for urban Indigenous children, youth and families. A dedicated Cultural Resource Coordinator within friendship centres will begin to fill a cultural gap and provide regular assistance for urban Indigenous children, youth and families involved in programming, who often go without consistent access to resource people and Elders, reads a press statement from OFIFC. The position will offer counselling, support, teaching and ceremonies, and preventative services. It will provide activities that will foster a strong sense of well-being and positive Indigenous identity. Children and youth who are grounded in culture and who have positive associations with Indigenous identity are far more likely to transition into adulthood confident, capable and prepared. Connectedness to culture for children and youth is a critical aspect of development and holistic well-being. This initiative is part of the Walking Together—Ontario’s Long Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women.
Sweat Lodge will help clients in recovery The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is the first hospital in Ontario to have a fully operational Sweat Lodge and traditional ceremonial grounds in Toronto. It opened June 23. The Sweat Lodge will offer patients the opportunity to engage in a form of therapy based on the values, beliefs and traditions of Aboriginal peoples. “Having a Sweat Lodge at CAMH will enable us to provide enhanced Indigenous healing ceremonies as part of clients’ treatment plans,” said Renee Linklater, director of Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach at CAMH. “This is an exciting example of how hospital-based health services can incorporate Indigenous healing processes and create more opportunities for clients to achieve balance and wellness in their lives.” Clients can participate in the Sweat Ceremony after progressing through earlier stages of teachings and healing. “It’s important that clients are mentally and spiritually ready for the Sweat Ceremony and that they are engaged in recovery that includes cultural knowledge,” said Diane Longboat, the Elder with CAMH’s Aboriginal Services. “There is deep emotional and psychological healing when clients release the negative patterns in their lives and begin to understand their gifts; the whole person they are meant to be.” In addition to the Sweat Lodge, the new ceremonial grounds at CAMH also include a sacred fire and medicine garden. The sacred fire will be used for therapeutic group sessions and cultural learning. Staff, volunteers and clients will increase their own cultural knowledge by receiving teachings that will prepare them to assist with fire keeping and ceremonies. “We are at a point in time when Canadians are much more aware of the historical trauma experienced by Aboriginal peoples,” said Linklater. “We also need to recognize that part of that trauma is the loss of culture and traditional healing practices. This is why it’s so important to offer services that are culturally relevant and appropriate.” The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion and is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Chiefs celebrated for eliminating boil water advisories Six First Nations chiefs have been presented with a Water’s Next Award, which recognizes the chiefs’ work on eliminating boil water advisories in Indigenous communities as part of the Safe Water Project. The Water’s Next Awards are presented by Water Canada. They celebrate the achievements and ideas of individuals and companies that successfully work to change water in Canada. The chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak won in the “People – Academic or NGO” category. They are Chief Roy Dale Meekis, Deer Lake First Nation; Chief Joseph Crow, Fort Severn First Nation; Chief Chris Kakegamic, Keewaywin First Nation; Chief Vontane Keno, McDowell Lake First Nation; Chief Caroline Keesic, North Spirit Lake First Nation and Chief Alice Suggashie, Poplar Hill First Nation. “It’s an honour to receive this award, and to be included in the company of such distinguished water leaders,” said Crow. The Safe Water Project is a program that is eliminating boil water advisories in First Nations communities by providing community members with the training, support, and technology they need to operate water treatment facilities. Since its implementation in May 2015, the Project has ended three long-standing advisories, and is poised to end a fourth in the near future. “Our model is unique because it invests in community members themselves, and builds capacity at the local level,” said Suggashie. “This approach could easily be replicated in other communities, and could help to significantly increase access to safe, clean drinking water in many First Nations.”
[ news ]
RCMP commit to building respectful relationships with Indigenous communities By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson agree that moving forward in policing is about building mutually respectful relationships. On Tuesday morning at the
AFN’s annual general assembly, the AFN and RCMP signed a memorandum of understanding. While the MOU is formally with the AFN, Paulson stated that it would guide RCMP relationships with all Indigenous communities in Canada. “I’m aware that this protocol is simply words on paper and words alone will not improve things,” said Paulson. “I am here today to pledge that we will put action to
Blueberry River is overrun with development By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
Blueberry River First Nation, B.C.
The Blueberry River First Nation now has substantial evidence their traditional territory is being infringed upon. In fact, it’s being more than infringed upon, according to a report released by the First Nation, with help from the David Suzuki Foundation, and EcoTrust Canada. The three parties worked together to develop The Atlas of Cumulative Landscape Disturbance, and uncovered disturbing statistics about the commercial use of Blueberry River First Nation’s traditional lands. The most significant finding is that 84 per cent of their territory is currently impacted by industrial activity of some kind. “Elders and land users give me daily reports of continuing damage to our lands and water… Development has extinguished our traditional way of life on wide areas of our land,” said Chief of Blueberry River, Marvin Yahey. “Fracking, forestry, roads and other development is pushing us further and further to the edges of our territory and we are no longer able to practice our treaty rights in the places we’ve always known,” he said. The Disturbance Atlas is as a follow-up report to a 2012 Disturbance Atlas. The 2012 report also found significant damage was being done to BRFN territory, so the Nation requested assistance from the B.C. government on the matter, in a variety of forms including a cumulative impact assessment in 2014. But according to Yahey, pleas were not heard, and the 2016 report supports his sentiment. The data in the report shows that since that 2012 report was
published, more than 2,600 oil and gas wells have been approved by the government of B.C. to develop within BRFN territory, along with 1,884 of petroleum access roads and permanent roads, 740 km of petroleum development roads, 1,500 km of new pipelines and 9,400 km of seismic lines. “Despite raising these concerns directly with the premier and with provincial ministers, there has been no meaningful response to this critical threat. Instead, the province continues to approve major industrial undertakings in our territory, including major fracking operations and the Site C Dam, willfully ignoring that each new approval brings our unique culture closer to extinction,” he said. More significant findings from the new report include: • 75 per cent of the entire BRFN area territory is within 250 metres of some kind of industrial disturbance, while over 80 per cent is within 500 metres. • Active petroleum and natural gas tenures—an agreement with the government which gives oil and gas companies the right to explore areas with further development in mind—cover nearly 70 per cent of BRFN traditional territory. • Linear features such as roadways and pipelines, has reached beyond 10,000 km in total, and exceeds a level which can co-exist with wildlife sustainably. • Of the total area in B.C. reserved for pipelines through oil and gas tenures, 46 per cent sits on BRFN land. • Nearly 200,000 hectares of BRFN’s traditional territory has been logged since 1950. • And, 60 per cent of B.C.’s natural forest landscape is still intact, less than 14 per cent of natural landscape remains in BRFN.
these words so we can continue the healing, continue the building, and improve these vital relationships in every way possible.” Paulson repeated what he told chiefs last December during a Special Chiefs Assembly: that discrimination and racism does exist within the force. “I can tell you unequivocally, that while it might exist there is no room, there is no place for it to remain,” he said. The MOU calls for, in part, the development of strategies to address and identify issues of discrimination in how the RCMP provides services. Legislative changes implemented in the last 18 months allow the RCMP to address questionable conduct of members in a more timely fashion, said Paulson. But he also pointed out that the majority of RCMP members have built strong, respectful relationships and undertake good work in
Indigenous communities. Eight per cent of those who wear RCMP uniforms have selfidentified as Indigenous. While that is a respectable number, Paulson said it wasn’t enough. “To truly be a culturallycompetent organization we must and we will increase that number,” he said. He pointed out that the MOU includes a commitment to develop recruitment strategies to attract Indigenous peoples. Both Bellegarde and Paulson referenced the work undertaken by the police forces in investigating murdered and missing Indigenous women cases. Bellegarde said he has told police chiefs that they will come under scrutiny during the upcoming national inquiry for their lack of resources when it came to investigating the cases, as well as lack of respect for and communication with the families. “There’s still a lot of hurt, still
a lot of pain with the families that are still looking for closure,” said Bellegarde. Paulson said if cases have been mishandled, the RCMP want to know about it and they “will be transparent and open about it… and we will fix what needs to be fixed.” Paulson said the RCMP would participate fully in the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. He also said the RCMP remained committed to resolving all outstanding cases. “We know there’s going to be always issues…when it comes to policing, but again it’s all about building relationships in a respectful way and communicating and working together to bring about change, internally and externally in the way that our people are policed,” said Bellegarde. The protocol agreement is not legally binding between the RCMP and the AFN.
Continued on page 8.
August I 2016
[ news ]
Thunder Bay inquest: Transition students to prepare them, and keep them connected to home By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor THUNDER BAY, Ont. Quinn Meawasige believes that the 145 recommendations that came from a coroner’s jury earlier this week have firmly at the centre of them the seven young people who died over an 11-year period in the city of Thunder Bay. “I think their stories were very much a part of the inquest,” said Meawasige, member of the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council, which participated in the inquest and contributed to the recommendations considered by the five-member jury. In October 2015, the Ontario coroner began its inquest into the deaths of Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Robyn Harper, 19, Paul Panacheese, 21, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morrisseau, 17 and Jordan Wabasse, 15. All seven youths left their Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities to attend high schools in Thunder Bay, six at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and one at the Matawa Learning Centre. They all died between November 2000 and May 2011. On Tuesday June 28, the jury released its findings, deeming the deaths of Anderson, Morrisseau, Wabasse and Panacheese as undetermined; and the deaths of Strang, Bushie and Harper as accidental. One of the recommendations— number two—is to develop a memorial for the seven students. “I think that memorial piece is very important to recognize that these youth, these stories, this unfortunate series of events will not be forgotten and it can be learned from,” said Meawasige. The experiences of the youth “resonated” with him, said Meawasige. He attended Elliot Lake Secondary School, a one-hour round trip daily from his home of Serpent Lake First Nation. “I can understand coming from a community and then entering an urban centre and not feeling prepared, wondering what their place is… having to deal with racism and being ashamed and possibly by being ashamed, not really reaching out, but going to alcohol,” he said. Alcohol was cited as a contributor in four of the seven deaths. “There were so many factors involved, I can understand these youth and feel for them as well. I’ve run into the same type of issues but maybe not on the same scale, but I certainly share the experience.” Meawasige, who is now a student at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, says peer support and mentorship helped him through high school. He also says that his
August I 2016
community was involved with the school, to the point of providing a late bus to allow students to participate in after-school activities. He graduated from high school in 2012. Some of the jury’s recommendations speak directly to assisting on-reserve students for transition to outside communities, generally, and to life and lodging in Thunder Bay, specifically. Meawasige says the recommendations overall are sweeping and they need to be. “A lot of it is structural and we could be addressing the problem as they are the products, but by not addressing the root causes I think we’ll still be addressing the products of the problem. Unless we address the problem itself, we’re not going to be able to … prevent it from happening,” he said. Many of the jury’s recommendations reflect recommendations or comments already made, whether by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the Assembly of First Nations. That fact, said Meawasige, is a stark reminder that these issues “need to be addressed like yesterday. We can’t wait.” Meawasige points out that there are still students leaving their communities for high school and many are unprepared. “This inquest might shine light on it … and there are many parties that need to be involved, not just the province or Canada. The city, local communities, organizations. It’s got to be a collective effort in moving forward. It’s got to be happening soon,” he said. The issues can only be dealt with, said Meawasige, by embracing Jordan’s Principle. Students need to be at the forefront and can’t be forgotten in jurisdictional wrangling between the different levels of government. Meawasige says cultural grounding made a difference for him. It was something he sought out on his own, attending a culturally-based treatment centre. But today, he sees many First Nations communities getting involved in the schools, providing cultural presentations and resources. Meawasige is studying community economic and social development. He hopes to pursue his master’s degree in an Indigenous community development-related field. He wants to focus on youth programming. “Youth empowerment is essential … if you don’t know who you are, if you don’t have a grounding in your identity, you often look to find other means to see that belonging,” he said. “To understand who you are instead of being ashamed, you’re more equipped to navigate this world.”
[ news ]
Gwaii Haanas to benefit from unprecedented Parks Canada investments On July 7, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, joined the Council of the Haida Nation President Kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin to announce more than $650,000 in infrastructure investments in Gwaii Haanas. The investments will support projects that directly benefit the Haida’s use of the area, as well as new visitor experiences. Two pools will be built to capture new locations of thermal water flow and offer visitors the opportunity to experience the hotsprings that were lost when the 2012 earthquake struck Haida Gwaii. There will be upgrades to the boardwalk at SGang Gwaay Llnagaay, which will allow the Haida Gwaii Watchmen and visitors to safely access the site while protecting these culturally and ecologically sensitive areas. These upgrades will also make the site more accessible to those with mobility needs. “SGang Gwaay holds long memories for the Haida Nation, and the village still tells stories today, said Kil tlaats ‘gaa. “The site is world renowned; protected by two governments and recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. “Investing in SGang Gwaii is critical to maintain the integrity of the village site and area and will benefit those who are able to visit and experience, in situ, the past and present culture of the Haida
Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, joined the Council of the Haida Nation President Kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin
Nation.” As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, SGang Gwaay contains the largest number of standing memorial and mortuary poles of any village found on the west coast of North America. Canada’s national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites represent the very best that Canada has to offer, reads a press statement from Canada. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site is a shining example of a
national heritage place that recognizes the role of Indigenous people in Canada and the traditional use of these special places, the statement continues. “The Government of Canada
is proud of its relationship with the Haida Nation at Gwaii Haanas and our shared commitment to conserving, restoring, and presenting this natural and cultural treasure,”
said Minister McKenna. “These investments will ensure highquality visitor experiences for years to come, while also supporting tourism, local jobs and the regional economy.” The Archipelago Management Board – comprised of Haida Nation and Government of Canada representatives – manages Gwaii Haanas from mountain top to sea floor using consensusbased decision making. Located in the southern part of Haida Gwaii, approximately 130 km off the British Columbia coast and 640 km north of Vancouver, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site encompasses more than 5,000 km 2. Gwaii Haanas is renowned for its spectacular wilderness. Parks Canada is investing $3 billion dollars over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada. These investments represent the largest federal infrastructure plan in the history of Parks Canada.
Blueberry River Continued from page 6. The Nation has even launched a lawsuit against the government of B.C. In March 2015, they launched a suit in the B.C. Supreme Court over the breach of their rights under Treaty 8. They stated the B.C. government was not protecting their territory and upholding treaty rights, but instead was allowing the oil and gas, and logging industry to exploit their land. Their latest move—efforts now being put forth after seeing findings from the new report—is the creation of a Land Stewardship Framework. BRFN will use it to better assess the environmental issues facing them, and to develop a plan to restore territory, rehabilitate wildlife, and ensure sustainable development in the future—despite not having government assistance at this time. “The findings of the 2016 report clearly show that even though the provincial government had clear notice of the scale of harm that existed, including those found in the 2012 Atlas, it has worked to make the problem
worse, not better,” said Chief Yahey. BRFN did receive a statement of support from Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation the day after the report was released, however. Rustad openly declared his concern for the environmental issues impacting BRFN and acknowledged the government would need to act fast in order to help. “As the 2016 Disturbance Atlas shows, the situation in Blueberry River territory is severe and requires an urgent response. The province has acknowledged it will take years to complete their regional assessment. Blueberry River cannot wait that long… Otherwise there will be nothing left for us by the time the regional assessment reaches the same conclusion we have reached for years: there is a serious problem and immediate protection measures must be put in place...” For more information and to download the full report go to: http://www.marketwired.com/ press-release/-2138314.htm
August I 2016
[ news ]
Is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne the new face of colonialism in Canada? By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
TORONTO Grassy Narrows First Nation and supporters continue to hike up the pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario government to clean up the Wabigoon-English River systems of toxic mercury waste. On July 7, prominent environmental, labour and social justice leaders marched through downtown Toronto to the Ontario Legislature where they delivered a canoe filled with letters and petitions representing more than 35,000 people. They were met with a strong police presence and a fence barring entry to the legislative buildings. The signatures delivered were collected from petitions and online actions from Leadnow, the David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, and the Council of Canadians. Other groups involved in the day’s action, included the Canadian Labour Congress, CUPE, and Free Grassy. Speakers at the press conference following the march expressed anger and frustration at the government’s lack of commitment to Grassy Narrows, in particular, and to Indigenous people, in general. Reconciliation and renewed relationships are “just pretty words,” said Dawn Bellerose, the Aboriginal representative on the board of CUPE. “What does that really mean, because they’re not doing it,” she said. “It’s time they started taking some action. The people of Grassy, they’re Canadians, they’re human beings. They need to have clean water.” CUPE is Canada’s largest union, representing more than 635,000 people across the country. Marie Clarke Walker, executive vice president of the Canadian Labour Congress, told the gathering at Queen’s Park, “I’m here today to let everyone know that the Canadian Labour Congress and its over 3.5 million members stand in solidarity with Grassy Narrows.” She said it was very clear to her that race was an issue in the government’s lack of action on Grassy Narrows. If this kind of situation occurred with the Don River, the Humber River or the Rouge River, it would be cleaned, Walker said. More than 50 years ago, the Dryden Chemical Company dumped 9,000 kilograms of toxic mercury waste into the waterway that provided fish, clean water and an economic base for Grassy Narrows residents. The Ontario government has done nothing to clean up the river. A report by three renowned scientists that was released a
August I 2016
Canoe being portaged through downtown Toronto to Queen’s Park, July 7. month ago said the mercury can be cleaned and the water and fish made safe for consumption. Ontario has not committed to a clean-up of the river. Following a visit to the community by Ontario’s ministers of Indigenous Affairs and the Environment on June 27, the provincial government committed $300,000 to conduct testing of the water, fish and sediment. “Decades of inaction by successive governments are a stain on Canada’s human rights and environmental record and depicts the history of environmental racism,” Walker said. “Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, Premier Wynne, it’s been over 50 years of inaction. Clean up the river and stop poisoning generations.” Amara Possian, 27, is campaign manager with Leadnow, an independent advocacy organization with 500,000 members across Canada. “Six years before I was born,” she said, “the Ontario government heard that there were safe ways to clean up the river. For my entire lifetime, the government has been making excuses and refusing justice for Grassy Narrows First Nation.” The Leadnow community stands in solidarity with Grassy Narrows, Possian said, “and it’s time for Premier Wynne to clean up the river.” The Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest member-based social justice organization, was represented by Mark Calzavara, Ontario-Quebec organizer. “We all know now what only some people knew years ago,” said Calzavara, “that the water can be cleaned, that Grassy Narrows can be returned to what it once
PHOTOS: BARB NAHWEGAHBOW
Dawn Bellerose of CUPE at press conference at Queen’s Park, Toronto, July 7. a comprehensive life,” she said. was, a thriving and healthy place monitoring program of the community. “The David Suzuki “At this point Kathleen Wynne pollution sources, and last of all, Foundation stands in solidarity has to wonder – is she going to but most important, to remediate with Grassy Narrows,” said act for Grassy Narrows and fulfill the river.” Rachel Plotkin, Ontario Science “It’s time to heal the people. It’s Projects Manager for the our responsibilities as treaty partners, or is she going to time to heal the water,” Calzavara Foundation. become the new face of said. “We believe that the science Connecting with the press exists to clean up the watershed colonialism in Canada?” Calzavara said their members conference by phone was Chrissy so that the people in Grassy had sent 1,400 letters to Premier Swain, a member of Grassy Narrows can eat the fish and Wynne over the last few days. Narrows who is a young mother continue their traditional way of “The letters ask for her to fulfill and grandmother. Swain thanked life once again.” her treaty obligations,” he said, the gathering for their support, Amara Possian of Leadnow said “and to provide the best possible “and keep supporting us until the that Premier Wynne was out of health care for mercury survivors, river is cleaned up,” she said. “We town but that a representative to compensate those impacted by really need this. I have a grandson from her office was expected to mercury, to fund an now and I look at him and I want take delivery of the letters and environmental health monitoring him to be healthy. I want him to petitions. By 1:30 p.m. that station run by Grassy, to put in have clean water because water is representative had not arrived.
PHOTO: ASHLEY CALLINGBULL FACEBOOK
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ashley Callingbull-Burnham talk about education and language in June. “I’m happy the Prime Minister took the time to listen to my thoughts about what the Nation to Nation relationship means for our people,” said Callingbull-Burnham in her Facebook post.
Magazine names Mrs. Universe among 50 most influential in province By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
ENOCH CREE NATION
One simple statement says it all about Alberta Venture magazine naming Ashley Callingbull-Burnham among the province’s 50 most influential people. “I believe they’re correct,” said Lisa Ground, CallingbullBurnham’s mother. “I’m not surprised. I always knew that with her drive and stamina and how she affects and impacts people that I knew she would be influential somehow.” On Monday, the publication’s annual list of the province’s “movers, shakers and difference-makers” included the 26-year-old beauty queen and actor from Enoch Cree Nation. She was listed in the
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company of Premier Rachel Notley, Fort McMurray fire chief and hero Darby Allen, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake. “Just being in the same list, just even being compared is amazing, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. Just her being acknowledged and recognized is all I was caring about,” said Ground. “Her father and I are so proud of her everyday of her life for everything.” In describing CallingbullBurnham, Alberta Venture staff wrote that she “took over the Twittersphere last year after competing in the Mrs. Universe pageant – not because she won, but because she immediately began speaking out against
injustice. … The actress and titleholder used her spike in popularity to urge First Nations people to vote in the federal election. Though she faced backlash, Callingbull-Burnham was quick to defend her right to speak as an Indigenous woman.” Ground says her daughter’s fearlessness is one reason why she is influential. “She speaks for others. She says the truth and she speaks where things that need to be said and heard have always been said, but now, because of her platform, her strength and her voice and her conviction, people are now listening to what has been said (already) for a long time,” said Ground. “(Her father and I) are so proud of her for standing up to that (backlash) and not letting that
get a hold of her at all.” Ground isn’t surprised that her daughter, only 26 years of age and the only Indigenous person on the list of 50 and among the youngest, has been included. “The thing is, she’s relatable,” said Ground. “Everything she’s gone thorough – her life, her trauma, her successes – that’s what makes her all relatable.” That trait is evident in last week’s debut of season four’s The Amazing Race Canada. Callingbull-Burnham and her father Joel Ground were among the 10 teams chosen to compete this year. Hanging underneath a skytram in Jasper National Park as one of the challenges, CallingbullBurnham made it clear that she wasn’t having fun. But she
conquered her fear and moved on. “In The Amazing Race, every emotion you see and her feelings, everything is real and it’s under stressful conditions,” said Ground. Even at the launch party for The Amazing Race on June 28 at Callingbull-Burnham’s home, Ground says neither her daughter nor Joel Ground divulged the slightest hint of what is to come. “I’m seeing it all for the first time, so it’s a nail biter for me. “Nobody other than them knows what’s happening. Her family is in the dark,” she said. “Ashley has got a very kind hear, but she’s a very strong woman and she will tell you what she thinks,” said Ground. “She’ll say she’s brutally honest and it is true.”
August I 2016
IAAW one of 100 organizations to receive BPW Canada Centennial Recognition Award.
100 years of suffrage remembered at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. The western provinces, including Alberta, led the way in women earning the right to vote in 1916. By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Find every Alberta Sweetgrass article online: www.ammsa.com August I 2016
Over two decades of hard work by the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women has been recognized by the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women. In June, BPW Canada announced that IAAW was one of 100 organizations that would be receiving the 2016 BPW Canada Centennial Recognition Award. The award marks 100 years of women’s suffrage and has been given to organizations, selected from across the country, who, says a letter from BPW Canada, are “dedicated to improving the lives of Canadian women and girls, their families and their communities.” “Everybody is just walking on air. It’s just so wonderful because we’ve been in the wilderness for a long time. Recognizing the importance of Indigenous women is really just fantastic,” said Muriel Stanley Venne, founder and president of IAAW. Stanley Venne began the organization 21 years ago, the mandate of which is “to recognize and promote the leadership of Aboriginal women in Alberta, be actively involved and assist Aboriginal women to establish local representative groups and develop relationships to
promote human rights and dignity of Aboriginal women and their families, and to address economic, social, cultural and political issues of concern at the provincial, federal and international levels and as they impact Aboriginal women in the communities.” It was a goal Stanley Venne was confident IAAW could achieve in 10 years. And so her business plan said back in 1995. “We had such a bad time with the Conservative governments, provincially and federally. It was just really, really hard,” she said. What Stanley Venne wanted to accomplish was straightforward enough: “the absolute recognition of Indigenous women in this country as full citizens. Not second class, not third class, not as an afterthought, not for the remains to be found in the bush or at the side of a road.” Stanley Venne says there is still a long ways to go for her goal to be achieved, but she is optimistic. Her confidence has been buoyed, in part, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following through with his commitment for his Liberal government to lead a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. And, on the provincial level, NDP Premier Rachel Notley directing her Cabinet ministers to implement into their work the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. IAAW is joined by such organizations as the Executive Women’s International (Calgary), Every Woman Foundation, and Women in Leadership in receiving BPW’s Canada Centennial Recognition Award. The western provinces, including Alberta, led the way in women earning the right to vote in 1916. The federal government allowed all women– except Aboriginal and Asian - to vote in 1919. Aboriginal women covered under the Indian Act were not allowed to vote in the federal election until 1960. The inability of Indigenous women to vote until almost 40 years after other women is a point Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean noted in April when Alberta celebrated 100 years of suffrage. “It was an important victory for social justice, but an incomplete one. The fight for equality continued as women of different cultural backgrounds sought the vote. It was finally extended to Canada’s Indigenous peoples in 1960,” said McLean. The top 100 women organizations will be recognized with the centennial award at BPW’s national convention in Calgary Aug. 12-14.
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Ceremonial blessing at Indian Village
Language ownership, protection issue with archiving work
A ceremonial blessing to recognize Suncor’s generous support of the Sweetgrass Lodge facility will take place at Calgary Stampede’s Indian Village on July 6. The village’s new location at ENMAX Park includes 26 tipis and a hands-on interactive showcase will include traditional performances. “(The Indian Village) is one of the oldest examples of an investment in a living relationship and a unique celebration of culture that exists in this traditional territory, if not in the world, that marks reconciliation,” said Cindy Provost, member of Treaty 7 and Aboriginal liaison for the Calgary Police Service. The Calgary Stampede runs July 8-17.
By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
The new location of the Indian Village at the Calgary Stampede is almost two and a half times as large as the previous site.
Elizabeth Letendre could be delivering a message this weekend that academics from across the country won’t be pleased to hear: reconciliation goes beyond archiving Indigenous languages. Reconciliation, she will say, needs to be shown by universities going into First Nations communities to help people learn their language. Keeping a language alive, she will say, comes from speaking the language fluently, not by archiving it. “(Universities) go into the communities doing research all the time,” said Letendre. “They have to reach out. It can’t be in a little box in the school and they think studies prove everything. Studies only say so much.” Letendre is the director of Heritage and Language at the Alexis Heritage Institute, opened two years ago with a pipe ceremony on the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. But prior to the creation of the AHI, Elders and the local schoolboard were active in developing a course and teaching their elementary-aged children to high school students how to write and speak their language. Students have been learning their language for the past 15 years. “Our language got interrupted when (residential) schools became,” said Letendre. “Fluency has to be kept because a Nation always has to speak it.” On July 8-10, the University of Alberta will be hosting a workshop to talk about developing a national initiative that would collect, house and share Indigenous language data from across the country. “Archiving for Indigenous languages has been an idea that has been kicking around for at least a couple of decades as a need for both people in the communities – community language activists had noticed and mentioned - and folks in academia had known about,” said Jordan Lachler, director of the Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute, which is housed at UAlberta. Archiving, he explains, is a way to protect Indigenous languages as well as keeping the languages in circulation. Work is often undertaken in one community but not accessible to another community. Such a database would likely be hosted on the web. “On the one hand it serves as a way to preserve and safeguard information but also a way for communities to kind of keep control over who gets to access information about their language and their culture,” said Lachler. There was much discussion at the university level as to what role UAlberta should play in such an effort or if creating an archive should be left to an Indigenous post-secondary institution, says Laclher. But with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action delivered last year, it became apparent that this was one avenue to reconciliation. “As a non-Indigenous institution we do have responsibility to put some time and money into these sorts of things that we have not been putting time and money into for the last century at least,” said Lachler. Approximately 130 people from across the country will be in attendance for the weekend workshop, about one-third academic and two-thirds community members. Some attendees will fall into both categories.
PHOTO: CALGARY STAMPEDE
Lisa Ground: first runner-up at Mrs. Globe Classic As first runner-up at Mrs. Globe Classic, Lisa Ground, from the Enoch Cree Nation, will be heading to China as a special guest and judge for the Mrs. Globe pageant in early December. “I’m excited,” said Ground about the opportunity to judge the 45 years and under competition. Ground participated in the Mrs. Globe Classic in June in Las Vegas as the winner of the Mrs. North America Globe Classic.
Lisa Ground (second from the left) PHOTO: TWITTER.COM/LISAGROUND
Calgary adds to affordable housing On Tuesday, Calgary Housing Company announced the acquisition of East Village Place, a 163-unit residential building. The building and land are being acquired at $12 million with funding from the city, the province and CHC. Calgary’s contribution includes transferring the land, valued at $6.5 million, for the book value of approximately $185,000. Alberta is contributing $1.4 million. East Village Place will be added to the over 7,000 subsidized and affordable housing units already operated and managed by CHC. “This acquisition will secure housing for more than 150 current tenants, secure this building long term for affordable housing and move forward work to secure community space for the residents of the East Village,” said Councillor Brian Pincott, CHC board chair.
Indigenous Peoples’ Experience at Fort Edmonton gets provincial funding The province has announced it will be investing $33.5 million over the next three years in Fort Edmonton Park to help develop, in part, the Indigenous Peoples’ Experience. Premier Rachel Notley made the announcement Wednesday morning at the park, accompanied by Metis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras and Treaty 6 Grand Chief Tony Alexis. Notley said the Indigenous People’s Experience will happen in a “respectful and historically accurate way” with input from both the Confederacy of Treaty 6 and MNA. Last year, Treaty 6 Confederacy and MNA signed agreements of understanding with Fort Edmonton to provide accurate cultural programming at the new Indigenous Peoples’ Experience. As well, funding will go toward expanding the Hotel Selkirk and midway, and constructing a new admission and guests services facility. The City of Edmonton has committed $70 million to utility upgrades. Construction work is anticipated to employ hundreds while 50 full time positions will follow the expansion.
Cold Lake First Nation, province partner on development of English Bay The province is working with Cold Lake First Nations to redevelop the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area into an Alberta Parks cultural and recreation destination. The first phase of the project, starting this month, will include the refurbishment of two camping loops in the south campground, a new access road and the expansion of the boat launch parking lot. Future plans include development of educational programming and interpretive signage in collaboration with the CLFN that will reflect their cultural significance and history to the
land and region. The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by August. In addition to interpretive programming, CLFN summer employees will participate in construction and the band council will also contribute to dual-language visitor signage to be installed at English Bay.†The project will eventually include 120 modern campsites, improvements to the day-use area, a playground and washrooms at a cost of $3 million. The scheduled completion date is the spring of 2017. Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips said the partnership between the province and the First Nation will showcase the “rich cultural and heritage of the area’s Indigenous people.”
Alberta innovator recognized with Indspire award Eileen Lucas is one of 10 recipients of the 2016 Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards. The awards, presented by Indspire - the largest funder of Indigenous education outside the federal government - recognize the achievements of outstanding educators of Indigenous students. Guiding the Journey honourees are acknowledged for having innovative teaching practices; advocating for updated resources and more cultural teachings in the curriculum; and helping Indigenous students reach their full potential. Lucas, who is a counselor and teacher in Fort McMurray Public School District, was recognized in the Culture, Language and Traditions category. “These educators are … creating lasting change in the communities they serve and enriching the field of Indigenous education through their contributions,” said Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire. The Guiding the Journey gala is part of Indspire’s National Gathering for Indigenous Education, a conference taking place Nov. 4-5 in Toronto.
Scholarships available to attend international conference Applicants have until July 15 to apply for Aboriginal financial scholarships to attend the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, which is holding the 21st international congress in Calgary from Aug. 28–30. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants to be a part of an international gathering of researchers and practitioners involved in the area of child abuse and neglect. It is hosted by the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work. Professional scholarships are $500 while student scholarships are $250.
Continued on page 14.
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August I 2016
Wood Buffalo students given more time by province to repay loans
New exhibit offers up authenticity in work
The Alberta government is extending the deferral of repayment and interest-free period to March 1, 2017, for student loan borrowers affected by the fire so they can focus on their immediate needs. Originally, affected Wood Buffalo student borrowers had their payments and interest accruals deferred to Nov. 30, 2016. More than 700 students will benefit from payment and interest deferrals. “We recognize that rebuilding a community following a devastating event like the Fort McMurray wildfire takes an emotional and financial toll on its residents. When people have been displaced from their homes and their jobs, the last thing they should be worried about is repaying a student loan,” said Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt. The repayment and interest-free period extension is for Alberta student loans only. Students with Canada student loans are advised to contact the National Student Loans Service Centre to discuss repayment options.
Saddle Lake man wanted in St. Paul shooting St. Paul RCMP have issued an arrest warrant for Lionel Cory Steinhauer, 32, of Saddle Lake for charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault, possession of a firearm while prohibited, and failure to comply with conditions of release. The warrant follows a St. Paul man being shot in the chest just during the night of June 30, 2016. He is currently recovering in hospital. RCMP were dispatched to reports of shots fired in the area of 46 Avenue and 48 Street, shortly after the town’s Canada Day fireworks celebration ended. Investigation revealed that there had been a verbal confrontation between two groups prior to a single gunshot being fired. RCMP believe that the parties were known to each other and the incident does not appear to have been a random act. RCMP are also seeking several other individuals for questioning. Steinhauer is described as Aboriginal, short black hair, pockmarked face, husky build and approximately 5’9.5”, and with tattoos of a bear claw on his upper left arm and “LIONZ” on his right forearm. The public is asked to report any sightings or knowledge of Steinhauer’s whereabouts to the St. Paul RCMP at 780-645-8888 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Increase in grizzly bear population promising New regulations to protect Wood Buffalo residents in rebuilding The province has passed three regulatory amendments and one new regulation to protect residents, who are rebuilding in Fort McMurray. The changes increase publicly available information about builders. “Following the fires in Slave Lake, many of my friends and neighbours faced tremendous and unnecessary challenges throughout the process of rebuilding their homes. Our government is committed to ensuring this does not happen to Wood Buffalo residents and will support them from start to finish as they rebuild not only their homes, but their lives,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee in a statement. The amendments will be implemented immediately in the Fort McMurray area and will require builders to complete a builder declaration through the New Home Buyer Registry before they may apply for a building permit. Additional information can then be collected from a builder, including residential construction history, corporate and financial history, and outstanding fines or orders. In May, more than 1,900 residential units were destroyed by wildfires in the Wood Buffalo region.
South African firefighters paid in accordance to Alberta labour laws Officials with the South African agency Working on Fire have confirmed that firefighters deployed in Alberta to help battle the wild fires in the Fort McMurray area have been paid in the same salary range as Alberta wildland firefighters. Close to 300 South African firefighters provided support arriving in Edmonton May 29. They were deployed to northern Alberta two days later. On June 12, the force returned to South Africa amidst controversy over their salary. Firefighters left believing they were being paid less than their Alberta counterparts.
August I 2016
By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
Carrying On is an appropriate name for the Alberta Craft Council Discovery Gallery’s newest exhibit. “Obviously it’s about carrying devices, but the more important aspect of it is that these are all people who are actually carrying on their own traditions as well their own creative practises,” said Tom McFall, executive director of the Alberta Craft Council. The exhibit, which opened June 18 in Edmonton, showcases the work of Blackfoot, Cree and Metis artisans and focuses on carriers and containers. “It’s not kind of an anthropological survey of something at its end. It’s an artistic survey of something that’s going into a new creative phase,” said McFall. For three students - Jamie John-Kehewin, Morgwn Martine, and Amber Weasel Head - and one former student – now instructor Ruby Sweetman - from Portage College’s Native Arts and Culture Program, it showcases the level of skill and the in-depth work that has been learned at the college. “It highlights the traditional authenticity of what we do. We don’t purchase hides, we don’t purchase furs, we don’t purchase porcupine quills or fish scales or any of that stuff. We harvest it all,” said Donna Feledichuk, associate dean with the program. The students learned to tan hides in the traditional method and harvest quills from porcupines. They also learned which willow, birch and spruce trees to collect bark from. “It’s not just about the art. It’s also about maintaining the culture and traditions and why they’re done a certain way, why they’re preserved a certain way,” said Feledichuk. She notes that some students come in with beadwork and sewing skills, but little else. While the Native Arts and Culture Program has been running since the inception of the college in Lac La Biche, it has moved in a different direction recently. The one year Native Arts certificate can now lead into a two-year diploma that focuses on the business-end of being an artisan. There are presently 12 students enrolled in the combined program. In fact, it was this entrepreneurial focus
that tuned the college into ACC’s plans for the Carrying On exhibit. Feledichuk says students were taking a tour of the ACC galleries, to get ideas on how to display their own work, when they learned about the potential exhibit. “This gallery … is the first step toward getting exposure, putting themselves out there, having to talk to people that may be interested in purchasing work from them in the future. (It’s) all the things they need to learn if they want to be successful artists,” said Feledichuk. McFall says ACC has become more deliberate in its approach to Aboriginal artists, in part due to the influence of the Edmonton Arts Council. “(EAC led) large public conversations about generally how any of us can do more for Aboriginal artists… how we can invite more activity into the mainstream cultural stream,” he said. In October, ACC is hosting the Canadian Crafts Federation’s annual conference in Calgary. McFall says he hopes to have Carrying On exhibited there. It’s a perfect fit, he says, as the themes of the conference are being more inclusive of diversity, and relationships between the craft councils and educational institutions. McFall adds that ACC will also be working with Aboriginal artists beyond showing their work to help them develop their careers and market their pieces. McFall anticipates that more and more of ACC’s 1520 annual exhibits will have an Indigenous focus. Carrying On, which also features work by MelissaJo Belcourt Moses, Albertine Crow Shoe, Sharon Rose Kootenay, Kathleen McIntyre, and Ben Moses, runs through until July 23 at the Alberta Craft Council Discovery Gallery in downtown Edmonton.
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New Indian Village has more to offer at Calgary Stampede
Vanessa Stiffarm, from the Blood Tribe, represents Treaty 7 as the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
CALGARY The Calgary Stampede has a history that spans over one hundred years with Treaty 7 peoples. “They created a safe cultural space in the Indian Village,” said Cindy Provost, a member of the Piikani First Nation. “They showed extraordinary vision. We’re still here celebrating that same opportunity to come celebrate who we are, the best parts of who we are as a people and to showcase that in front of the world.” That relationship and vision will continue this July when Indian Village is opened on a parcel of land almost two and a half times larger than was previously occupied. The 16-acre space along the Elbow River is the result of a multi-million dollar investment and partnership between the Calgary Stampede, Calgary Stampede Foundation and Enmax. This was once a significant area for camping and crossing for the Treaty 7 Confederacy. Now, it will serve as the new location for the Indian Village. The additional user space will mean Indian Village will have more to offer, says Provost, including enhanced interpretive programming. A pilot program will see interpreters talk about how First Nations people lived before they started using horses and then how horses were immersed into the culture and the changes horses brought in their everyday life with mobility and trade. “We’ll be looking at the horse through a cultural lens and for that interactive piece to happen hands-on with the horse and there will be Elders involved as well,” said Provost, who is also
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on the Calgary Stampede Indian Village committee. There will be no change to the number of tipis raised this year. However, there will be more artisans and crafters, who will be located indoors in a new building. There will also be outdoor picnic space and green areas available for visitors. Signage on the Calgary Stampede grounds will be used to direct visitors to the new location for Indian Village. Provost, who is also the Aboriginal liaison for the Calgary Police Service, says the relationship between Treaty 7 and the Calgary Stampede is strong. It started in 1912 with Guy Weadick’s supporters lobbying both the provincial and the federal governments to allow First Nations off their reserves to attend the stampede. It was a time when First Nations people required permission to leave their reserves. “I believe Calgary Stampede should be very proud of the foundation of the partnership and collaboration they achieved for 104 years with the traditional people of this territory,” said Provost. Moving forward, she says, the Calgary Stampede and Treaty 7 will be working together to address the calls to action delivered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. How that will be tackled has yet to be decided. “(The Indian Village) s is one of the oldest examples of an investment in a living relationship and a unique celebration of culture that exists in this traditional territory, if not in the world, that marks reconciliation,” said Provost. Provost adds that year-round programming on the site will also be explored. The Calgary Stampede runs July 8-17.
Language ownership, protection issue Continued from page 12. Lachler says discussion will centre around three subjects: what are the needs and challenges facing the communities in accessing recorded data; how concerns by communities about loss of control and loss of intellectual property in depositing information into an archive can be addressed; and what are the institutional responsibilities at the academic level as well as provincial, territorial and federal levels. “At this stage, the first step is to bring everybody together and to kick-start this conversation, and we’ll see where the conversation goes so we’re not sort of pre-determining … how this is going to turn out,” said Lachler. Letendre says the conversation can go no further
if protocol is not followed. “That permission needs to be sought from the Elders in our community before they start to archive (our language) in the World Wide Web,” she said. “If they work with the communities themselves at the grassroots, maybe, they’ll agree to that. But at this point there’s no permission granted to do that.” Letendre is wary of the university taking over and driving the process. She is also wary about the university wanting access to publish work written in Indigenous language and wanting to keep copies of video-recorded stories told by Elders. “Our biggest concern is the protection of it. When it’s there, is somebody going to exploit it or run with it? That happens to First Nations all the time,” said
Letendre. “We want (the universities) to help us, but we don’t want them to acquire (our work) in their website,” she said. “Everything we do is for the benefit of the Nation.” But Lachler stresses that the university will not be the front runner in this project. “To pull it off, if it’s actually going to happen, you have to have buy-in and support all the way across the board,” he said. “You need to have the communities on board and taking the lead on these thing, but we have these responsibilities as large institutions to support this kind of endeavour.” If an archive comes about, Lachler points out that any community involvement will be voluntary.
August I 2016
Indigenous language revitalization degree heads to Saskatoon The University of Victoria is setting up shop in Saskatoon, bringing a Master’s degree in Indigenous language to the prairie city. UVic already offers a successful—and the only— master’s degree in the country specializing in Indigenous language revitalization, and it has drawn people from across Canada. Now the program travels east from British Columbia to the University of Saskatchewan. The goals of the program are to ensure a generation of language experts will have the language and academic skills to participate and lead successful language revitalization efforts in Indigenous communities, and to develop language scholars
who will have the expertise to support post-secondary instruction in the revitalhization, recovery and maintenance of Indigenous languages. “I was excited when the University of Saskatchewan first approached us about this possibility,” said Onowa McIvor, director of Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education at UVic. “Our vision is to work together with our university partner and the group of students who are already leaders in language revitalization who are now training to become ambassadors and visionaries and to truly lead the charge of the language revitalization movement in Saskatchewan. In the wake of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission’s findings in 2015, this program is part of a larger movement of language revitalization activities across the country.” At the graduate level, Indigenous Education in partnership with the Department of Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities at UVic offers a graduate certificate and master’s degree program in Indigenous language revitalization. Faculty members from the University of Saskatchewan, which is located in Saskatoon and offers undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to a student population of more than 20,000, including more than 2,200 Indigenous students, will help in teaching and supervising the UVic students.
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August I 2016
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[ sports ]
Field lacrosse tourney will be a dogfight for gold By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
The Iroquois Nationals will be among those looking to dethrone the only team that has ever won the world boys’ under-19 field lacrosse championship. The 2016 tournament, which runs July 7 to July 16 in Coquitlam, B.C., will feature 14 entrants. The United States has captured the gold medal at all seven previous world tournaments. The event was first held in 1988. Early on and in recent times the tournament was held every four years. But there has also been as little as three years and as many as five years between events. The last tournament was held in Turku, Finland in 2012. The Iroquois Nationals did defeat the U.S. in a round-robin match at the 2012 championships. But it was the Americans and Canadians that advanced to the gold medal game, with the U.S. winning 108. The Iroquois Nationals registered a convincing 18-1 triumph versus England in the bronze-medal match. The Nationals have never qualified for the gold-medal contest in the tournament’s history. “Right now we want to take the next step and be playing in the championship game,” said Ansley Jemison, the executive director of the Iroquois Nationals’ squad. The tournament final has
Ansley Jemison, executive director of the Iroquois Nationals
featured the U.S. versus Canada every time except for the 1996 event in Tokyo. That year Australia took home the silver medal. As for this year, besides the Americans, the tournament’s highest calibre Blue Division will include the Iroquois Nationals, Canada, Australia and England. The tournament’s Red Division will feature Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico and Taiwan. And the Green Division is made up of China, Ireland, Scotland and South Korea. All tournament games will be held at the Coquitlam Town Centre. The Iroquois Nationals finalized their 23-player roster about three weeks ago. The club’s lineup includes about a dozen
individuals who are coming off their freshman season in the U.S. collegiate ranks. “I think we’re a little more of an experienced team than we’ve had in the past,” Jemison said. Finalizing the club’s roster though was not an easy chore. That’s because Canadian Junior A box lacrosse circuits will shut down their leagues during the tournament, making players available for their national squads. But Junior B circuits will continue to operate. And since those teams are already into their own playoffs, squads are reluctant to make their stars available to play in the world tournament. “That was a little difficult in the end,” Jemison said, adding some elite Junior B players had
to be kept off the Iroquois Nationals’ roster. “There were some difficult choices to make.” The Iroquois Nationals’ side will include Tyson Bomberry, who recently completed his rookie campaign with the Syracuse University Orange. Bomberry is the only member of the Iroquois Nationals that also competed at the 2012 world tourney. “He’s going to bring some leadership for us now,” Jemison said of Bomberry, who is also currently toiling with the Six Nations Arrows’ Junior A club. Jemison also likes the makeup of the others on the team. “I think offensively we have some great players,” he said. “That’s never been a problem for us. We’ve always had guys that
can put the ball in the back of the net.” The squad is also solid defensively. “We’ve got some solid guys back there,” Jemison added. The Iroquois Nationals will play their tournament opener on July 8 versus England. Following a one-day break, the club will then play three more round-robin matches in three days. For starters, the Iroquois Nationals will meet Canada on July 10. They will then square off against the Americans the next day. And the Iroquois Nationals will conclude their round-robin schedule with a July 12 contest versus Australia. The Iroquois Nationals’ team includes players currently starring in various leagues in both Canada and the U.S. “If we can come together and play the game we are capable of playing, we can run with anybody in the world,” Jemison said. “We’re hopeful we’re going to do well. Some kids are doing well at the junior (box) levels (in Canada). Hopefully that will translate into the field game.” His charges will not be intimidated by the fact the Americans have captured the gold medal every time this event has been held, Jemison said. “The U.S. is beatable,” he said. “Canada can run with them as well.” Besides his own team wanting to win this year’s title, Jemison said the Canadians will be doing likewise since they will be playing on their home field. “As the hosts, they’re going to be firing on all cylinders, trying to win this,” he said.
Elite squad takes the World Series of Native slo-pitch By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
Billy Gorrell’s idea of forming a powerhouse team has paid off, and now Gorrell can boast that he is a World Series champion. Gorrell, who is the president of First Nation Athletics apparel, thought it would be a wise move to take players from a pair of successful Native slo-pitch teams and combine them into one squad. The result is the FNA Elite, an organization that includes a men’s team, a women’s club and a mixed squad. The FNA Elite mixed team captured the title at this year’s Native World Series, which concluded this past Sunday in Whitecourt, Alta. Besides serving as the team’s manager, Gorrell is also a pitcher for the championship squad.
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PHOTO: RENE LETENDRE
World Champion FNA Elite The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation hosted the 24-team tournament. The event primarily featured clubs from Alberta, but
there were also two entrants from Saskatchewan and one from the Northwest Territories. Gorrell, however, said team
members prefer another aspect of their championship. “Definitely the prestige is more important,” he said. “I
know everybody loves the fact they can say they are a World Series champion. And that feels good.” For Gorrell, this marked the first time he participated in the Native World Series. This event is one of the main tournaments the FNA Elites will compete in during 2016. This year the organization consists of 24 male players and 22 female players. The plan is to take these players to various tournaments throughout Canada and in the United States. Due to family and work commitments and roster limitations, not all players attend all tournaments. “They’re proud to be an FNA athlete,” Gorrell said. “And they wear their FNA gear. But we really encourage our players to go and play for other teams in other places as well.”
Continued on page 19.
August I 2016
[ education ]
Collaboration is formalized with new protocol agreement
A new protocol agreement will support collaboration to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal post-secondary students in British Columbia.
A new protocol agreement in British Columbia is all about collaboration, and realizing the goals of the Aboriginal PostSecondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan, penned in 2012. The agreement was signed July 8 by Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) President Tyrone McNeil and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) Chair Verna Billy-Minnabarriet in Vancouver. The agreement promises to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal post-secondary students. The Aboriginal PostSecondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan was designed to help Aboriginal learners succeed in an “integrated, relevant and effective British Columbia postsecondary education system.” The goals of the framework agreement are to work toward systemic change that will • provide a post-secondary education system that is relevant, responsive, respectful and receptive to Aboriginal learners and communities; • ensure access to communitybased delivery of programs, through partnerships with Aboriginal institutes and communities; • reduce financial barriers; • make seamless transitions from K–12 to post-secondary education; • and provide continuous improvement based on research, data-tracking. Another of the goals set out
August I 2016
in the Aboriginal PostSecondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan is to increase the number of post-secondary credentials awarded to Aboriginal students by 75 per cent by 2020-21. The number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal students in the postsecondary education system has increased by 23 per cent, or 607 credentials, to 3,241 in 201314. The protocol agreement formalizes the existing relationship between the organizations and the ministry. “This protocol agreement builds on the strong relationships already in place between our government, FNESC and IAHLA,” said Minister Wilkinson. “Our government is committed to working closely with these two organizations to ensure that First Nations students and communities are supported in the post-secondary education system in B.C.” “Although progress has been made in advancing First Nations post-secondary education in B.C., we still have work to do to achieve the transformation envisioned in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework,” said McNeil of FNESC.† “This protocol will provide a formal mechanism for us to jointly move forward on implementing our shared commitments and priorities to ensure that the needs of First Nations students and communities are met.”
Continued on page 19.
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[ news ]
Sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for First Nations within reach By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
A promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last December, and a commitment in the federal budget in May to do away with the two per cent cap on funding for First Nations, was formalized Tuesday morning July 12 in a memorandum of understanding. The MOU, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde in his opening address on the first day of the Assembly of First Nations’ annual general assembly, “will work towards the creation of a new fiscal relationship.” Bellegarde and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett signed the MOU, initiating a process by which Canada and First Nations will work together to jointly design and establish sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for First Nations communities. Further, the MOU establishes a joint Canada-First Nations New
Fiscal Relations Working Group to develop recommendations. Bellegarde said the new fiscal framework will take into account “real” needs and total population, both on and off reserves. Bennett referred to her government’s action to do away with the two per cent cap as “removing the irritants from previous years that poisoned the relationship and set back progress by a decade.” Bennett said the budget passed by the Liberals in May is new money for education, infrastructure, housing, enhanced prevention in child welfare, and ending boil water advisories. Bennett committed to building a nation-to-nation relationship and undertaking meaningful engagement, especially in the face of disagreements. She stressed that the Liberals did not believe that litigation was the way to build relationships and her government would stay away from court action. “How do we react when
something goes wrong? …. (this) must be answered if we are truly on a path to nationto-nation relationships and reconciliation,” she said. Both Bennett and Bellegarde agreed that the time since the Liberal government came to power has been filled with accomplishments and both the government and the AFN have been moving forward on a steady path. Both talked about the preinquiry work and upcoming national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women; the full implementation of the United
Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People; and the federal government’s commitment to implementing all 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “We have a new federal partner in Ottawa. A partner that has pledged to build a new relationship with us …. We can see the first steps to reset the relationship,” said Bellegarde. But while he applauded the government for its commitment of $8.4 billion over five years to First Nations, Bellegarde said that, in keeping with the theme of the AGA, which is “Gaining
Momentum,” the AFN would keep pushing. “We say, ‘Was it enough? No.’ It’s not enough … to close the gap in terms of the quality of life,” said Bellegarde. “The budget was a significant first step and we’re going to continue to press on in all areas. Action is needed in all areas and we need to keep pushing for that action.” “I know how hard it is, after so many broken promises, not to be cynical,” said Bennett. “But we must not, we cannot fail at rebuilding a renewed relationship of respect and opportunity together.”
Saganash stands Continued from page 4. “Here we have the Indigenous Member of Parliament, the Attorney General of Canada saying the same thing as the opponents of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms back in the day,” said Saganash. “What is unworkable, in my mind, is the continuing denial of fundamental rights to Indigenous people of this country.” In her statement to the AFN, Wilson-Raybould suggested, “… the way the UNDRIP will get implemented in Canada will be through a mixture of legislation, policy and action initiated and taken by Indigenous Nations themselves.” Saganash says his bill calls for implementation of the UNDRIP, which could be carried out through policy and action, but he stresses the need for the UNDRIP first to become Canadian law. “I don’t see how that’s unworkable in this country,” he said. Saganash says he has asked the government during numerous question periods to support his bill and has received no answer. “I got the answer yesterday,” he said, adding that was what he was expecting to hear considering the lack of response in the House of Commons. “We’ll continue building on the momentum we have right now for Bill C-262 and the support behind this bill is pretty overwhelming. I think I’ll
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continue building on that. I don’t think denying Indigenous people fundamental rights in this country is something that is unworkable. I think it’s workable and that’s where I’m going,” he said. Saganash says he is concerned that the standing ovation WilsonRaybould received after her address at the assembly may be viewed by her as acceptance that the UNDRIP does not need to become Canadian law. “Ultimately,” said WilsonRaybould, “the UNDRIP will be articulated through the constitutional framework of section 35.” But Saganash says that isn’t good enough. Millions of dollars have been spent in court addressing what Aboriginal rights mean in the Constitution. “UNDRIP clarifies that and this is what my bill is going to do, clarify what those rights are and they’re contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” he said. “The Minister of Indigenous Affairs Canada committed to working with First Nations as full partners on the adoption of the UN Declaration,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in an email response to Windspeaker. “As full partners we clearly have a lot to discuss. “First Nations and Chiefs in Assembly have been clear that legislation is an option to ensure the adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration.”
August I 2016
[ careers ]
McKenna will resource and involve First Nations in environmental assessment By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Consultation with Indigenous groups and peoples will get underway in September as the Liberal government begins a comprehensive review of federal environmental assessment processes. “We need you to contribute your knowledge. We need you to contribute your ideas. We need you to help build better environmental assessment processes,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. McKenna addressed chiefs and delegates July 13 at the Assembly of First Nations’ annual general assembly. She said it was the first time in more than 10 years that a federal environment minister had attended an AFN general assembly. National Chief Perry Bellegarde said it was the first time ever. The review McKenna announced will include the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, National Energy Board, the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Act. Funding for Indigenous involvement will be provided. “Indigenous consultation is an integral part of environmental assessments,” said McKenna. She stressed the need for a strong, respectful partnership between the government and Indigenous peoples, noting that over the past decade the previous government had done little to gain that trust. She said her government would continue to work hard to change that. McKenna said that traditional Indigenous knowledge and the observations of those who live off the land will play an important role in informing the government in the actions that need to be taken to address climate change. “The health of the environment is challenged as
never before with climate change. It really is the challenge of our generation. Our job is to work together to find and implement solutions … (for) a safe and healthy country and one where the land, the sea, the plants and animals are all respected,” she said. She acknowledged that Indigenous people – particularly those living in the north – were the first to feel the impact of climate change. “For too long governments did not listen to the warnings from Elders,” she said. “All these changes tell us, without a shadow of a doubt, that we must act now…..We have to find solutions that are built on an understanding of the real impacts of climate change and that means a greater collaboration with First Nations.” McKenna said her government would continue to involve Indigenous people in the climate change discussion, including at the international level. “I’m extremely proud that Indigenous leaders were part of our delegation to the Paris climate negotiations,” she said. She added that one of her “greatest accomplishments” was to have included in the Paris agreement references to Indigenous people, their rights and their traditional knowledge. McKenna’s work did not go unacknowledged, as she was blanketed by AFN environment portfolio holders Chief Bill Erasmus, Chief Kevin Hart and Chief Isadore Day. “In COP 21 in Paris, (McKenna) worked so tirelessly,” said Bellegarde. “We are blanketing her. We all know the importance of blanketing. It’s been smudged. It’s there to represent love, warmth, strength, protection.” Bellegarde said First Nations were preparing for further involvement in COP 22 to be held in Morocco next year.
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[ careers ]
Collaboration is formalized Continued from page 17. “A b o r i g i n a l - c o n t r o l l e d institutes are a critical part of B.C.’s post-secondary system, working within communities to support Aboriginal learners in achieving their education goals,” said Billy-Minnabarriet of IAHLA. “Through this protocol, we will see improved collaboration between Aboriginal communities and the provincial government, and in turn between our institutes and the public post-secondary system, leading to increased
participation and success for Aboriginal learners.” FNESC was formed in 1992 and represents First Nations education interests in British Columbia. IAHLA was incorporated as a society in 2002 and is an umbrella organization that represents approximately 39 Aboriginal post-secondary and adult institutes throughout the province. Both FNESC and IAHLA are recognized as the leading policy and advocacy bodies on First Nations post-secondary education in British Columbia.
Elite squad takes the World Series Continued from page 16. The FNA Elites had kicked off their 2016 campaign by placing second at a May tournament in Leduc, Alta. The squad also placed fourth at an event in Kamloops, B.C. in June. At the Native World Series, the FNA Elites won all seven of their matches in the double knockout tournament. As the tourney was drawing to a close the only two undefeated entrants were the Elites and a club called Legit, comprised of players from Edmonton and surrounding areas. The Elites won the first matchup between these two sides by a 30-29 score. The tournament featured seveninning games but that contest required four additional innings to break deadlocked scores. Since that was the first loss for the Legit squad, the two rivals had to square off once again. A Legit victory would have necessitated yet another match since that would have been the Elite’s first loss. But that was not required as the Elite was able to squeeze out a 25-24 triumph and win the championship. Gorrell said he knew he had plenty of talent on the FNA Elite side. And he was obviously hoping for plenty of success. “But I never expect to win,” he said. “You never know what you will get. You never know if people are going to buy into what you are trying to do. And you never know how they will perform.” Gorrell is hoping to take the FNA Elite to the USA Co-Ed
Fall World Series, set for midNovember in Mesquite, Nevada. “We really feel we have the team to go down there play well and win it,” he said. Meanwhile, this marked the first year the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation hosted the Native World Series. Alberta’s Tsuu T’ina Nation had hosted the tournament the previous 11 years, but it opted to hold another event this year instead. That prompted officials from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation to step up and host this year, but they only took over the event in March. “There was a lot of work to do, especially in the last couple of weeks,” said Rene Letendre, one of six individuals that made up the organizing committee. “But it turned out pretty well for it the first time here.” Letendre said her First Nation would be interested in hosting the event again. But if it does it would want to find another location with some bigger diamonds. Matches at this year’s event were held on six diamonds in Whitecourt. Letendre felt the top prize money of $10,000 was a big attraction. “It’s such a big prize amount,” she said. “Usually with slo-pitch tournaments you don’t see that kind of money for the top prize. The winning team usually gets somewhere between $800 and $1,200.” The top nine finishers at this year’s Native World Series ended up taking home some cash. In total, there was about $23,000 in cash and prizes presented.
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August I 2016
Len Marchand [ footprints ] Scholar and politician succeeded despite Indian Act restrictions By Dianne Meili
At a time when his people were so restricted by the Indian Act they were barely surviving, Len Marchand began his rise to the highest ranks of power in this country. “He was born into a world of Indian agents, where his people could not vote, and where a university degree or serving in the war meant losing your status and the right to live on the land,” wrote Lori Marchand in a tribute to her dad on his 80th birthday. A teacher in a one-room schoolhouse who believed in the accomplishments of his elementary students sent the Skilwh (Okanagan First Nation) man on his way to becoming the first status Indian to graduate from a public high school in Vernon, B.C. He completed grades 12 and 13 in one year, and entered the University of British Columbia the next. There he would meet Sandy McCurrach and Mack Bryson, who would derail his bid for a PhD in rangeland management by talking him into running as the Liberal candidate for Kamloops-Cariboo in the 1968 federal election, resulting in his becoming Canada’s first status Indian elected to Parliament. Before that, Marchand would work on issues to better the lives of his people as a member of the North American Indian Brotherhood in the 1950s and ‘60s. Mostly, he wanted his people to gain the right to vote. He had cast his ballot illegally in a 1958 election, two years before his people were granted that right. “I was in my last year at UBC, living in a boarding house run by the ex-wife of (Haida artist) Bill Reid,” he told KamloopsThisWeek in an interview in 2015. “She was keen on doing the right thing, getting people involved, so she signed me up to vote and I voted.” His activism led him to Ottawa, where he helped lobby for his peoples’ right to vote, and worked for Cabinet ministers Jack Nicholson and Arthur Laing, but by 1968 he was ready to leave Ottawa. That’s when his old university friends interceded and urged him to run for the Liberals in 1968; he found himself campaigning against long-time Progressive Conservative MP
for Kamloops, Davie Fulton. It was a long shot, but Trudeaumania was sweeping the country, and Marchand’s strong connections with the agricultural community in the area pushed him toward a surprise win. He went on to hold Cabinet positions, including minister of state for small business, dealing with the task of bringing the metric system to Canada. “I was really getting a lot of heat about metric,” Marchand said in the Kamloops newspaper interview. “So I said to Pierre ‘give me the word and I can dismantle it’. But he told me ‘we are a trading nation and one of the last great nations in the world not going metric’.” He was also able to use his science background as the minister of Environment. Over the years, he weathered the FLQ crisis, votes on capital punishment and abortion, and saw the Canadian Constitution repatriated. Heady times until the Liberals were defeated in 1979. Marchand entered the public sector until being appointed to
the Senate in 1984, where he made gains for Aboriginal veterans, winning restitution for them and playing a role in establishing the Aboriginal War Veterans Monument in Ottawa. He retired in 1998 to enjoy his grandchildren. In 1999, he received the Order of Canada, and he was awarded the Order of B.C. in 2014. Marchand speaks of his humble beginnings in Breaking Trail, his 2000 autobiography co-authored with Matt Hughes, a former political speech writer. In the first chapter, he surmises his parents must have hitched a ride to the Vernon Jubilee Hospital when he was born – 16 miles from their Six Mile Creek homestead on the Okanagan Reserve Number One – because they were too poor to own a car. “They probably caught a ride with my uncle Louie, who was the only one in the family who owned a car back in 1933.” Though he is ashamed to admit it, as a youngster he would tease his mother at the town grocery store. Pointing to signs and labels, he would ask
her, ‘what does that say, Mom?’ or ‘what size is that tin?’ Though his mother was not educated, she was an intelligent woman, and managed to do her shopping without help from her ‘smart-aleck son’, he observes. Later on, he understood how his parents had to live “in a tightly circumscribed world because they could not read, and I would feel an overwhelming sadness and a strong tinge of guilt.” As a senator, he confides, he begged off becoming involved in Joyce Fairbairn’s literacy programs, able only to cheer her on from the sidelines because “the memories hurt too much.” Len Jr., Marchand’s son, acknowledged the “down to earth” upbringing his father, along with his six sisters (a seventh died as an infant) and one brother, received. “My grandfather Joseph Marchand, and my grandmother Agnes Robinson, were devout Catholics. My dad’s sisters weren’t allowed to get away with anything, but my dad said, because he was a boy, he at least got to go to dances and ball
games.” Marchand married Donna Parr, a public health nurse, within six months of meeting her. On their first date, Marchand took her to a square dance, but ended up calling the dances when the hired man didn’t show up. Unfazed, Marchand’s future wife danced with other partners that night. Len Jr. was gratified to see the condolences that poured in on June 3, the day his father died, acknowledging the difference he made in improving the lives of First Nations people. Tributes came from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom Marchand held as a baby, Premier Christy Clark, and Senator Nancy Greene Raine, amongst others. Marchand, 82, was admitted to a Kamloops hospital with kidney problems and died shortly after. He is survived by his wife Donna, daughter Lori Marchand, and son Len Marchand Jr.
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