33 No. 11 • February 2016
Time for Enbridge to cut its losses, say Sterritt Page 6
Seven arrested after occupation of Kinder Morgan drilling barge Page 7
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Inform. Impact. Inspire. Independent. Indigenous. Eviction notice at Site C shack ramps up activity on the Peace Page 9
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Eviction notice at Site C ramps up activity Grand Grand Chief Chief Stewart Stewart Phillip Phillip (left) (left) and and Dr. Dr. David David Suzuki Suzuki (third (third from from left) left) stand stand with with members members of of the the Treaty Treaty 8 8 Stewards Stewards of of the the Land Land where where clearcutting clearcutting has has begun begun in in preparation preparation for for the the Site Site C C dam dam on on the the Peace Peace River. River. Full Full story story on on page page 9. 9.
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Treatment centre to remain closed after allegations of financial irregularities
The president of the Three Voices of Healing Society has gone public to refute allegations of questionable spending at its 12-bed residential alcohol and drug abuse treatment centre in Invermere, B.C.
Time for Enbridge to cut its losses, say Sterritt 6 Art Sterritt expects Gitga’at First Nation’s recent legal victory to impact more than the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
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Congress of Aboriginal Peoples reaches out to urban peoples 8
Jasmine, from New Brunswick, stood up at a recent open forum, hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples in Edmonton Jan. 14, and gently chided Alberta for not having a CAP affiliate.
Eviction notice at Site C shack ramps up activity on the Peace
A dedicated group of protesters are hoping they can accomplish what legal action has failed to do: shut down BC Hydro’s construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River.
Horror, sci-fi and fantasy puts their mark on the north
Native Women in the Arts is looking forward to the New Year. They have a new logo, designed by Beehive Design in Toronto, which is inspired by quill-loomwork, and reflects the four directions, harmony, equality and artistic expression rooted in traditional elements, reads a press statement.
Departments [ windspeaker briefs ] 9 [ provincial news ] 12 - 21 [ alberta sweetgrass ] 14 - 19 [ health ] 22 [ sports ] 23 [ education ] 24 & 25 [ footprints ] Allen Sapp 26 Allen Sapp’s paintings depict hardworking men in moccasins through the seasons, while his women wear head scarves and fry choke cherries or boil potatoes over open fires. Even the most urbane of prairie people cannot fail to feel a pang of nostalgia looking at them. The man who once painted mountains and wild animals he’d never seen – thinking the subject matter would earn him sales from white people – was redirected to depict what he knew by a savvy doctor who saw his potential.
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Alberta Sweetgrass — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Alberta 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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Tragedy and triumph: a rollercoaster ride of emotion It’s been weeks of extreme highs and extreme lows in our greater community this month. There was a feeling of triumph when the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal acknowledged the inequities of the federallyrun First Nations child and family services program across the country. The Tribunal finally, after a ridiculously long wait, revealed on Jan. 26 that, yes, First Nations children in care—kids from ages 0 to 19—were discriminated against by governments that took them from their homes, communities and families on reserve in order to protect them, but then decided they weren’t worth as much as other kids in similar circumstance living off reserve. Canadian governments, we remind you— not just the beastly, pinched and miserly Harper government, but the Liberal and other Conservative governments in the past as well— in prosperous times and lean, knowingly and willfully over decades decided to underfund the care of vulnerable little kids, depriving them of necessities, purposely, while they were in the government’s care. Canada had full understanding and knowledge of this discriminatory practice. It knowingly perpetuated the separation of children and families through legislation and policy. And then under Harper, Canada fought, bullied and sought to undermine the full disclosure of it. The Tribunal also found that, despite passing Jordan’s Principle unanimously in the House of Commons in 2007, Canada has narrowly applied it, leaving children in need of medical care and services to suffer until wrangling over who would pay was hashed out. Jordan’s Principle is named for a child, who spent more than two years unnecessarily in hospital, while Manitoba and Canada fought over who would pick up the tab for his home care. Jordan died in hospital at the age of five, never having spent a day in a family home. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has finally called on Canada to end their discriminatory ways. It was a few days earlier that we felt a great collective low. On Jan. 22, a 17-year-old in La Loche, Sask. made the decision to unleash, through deadly violence, whatever pain and anger he was feeling on his friends, a school full of kids and their educators. Nothing is so difficult to make sense of than an act such as this. It is particularly painful when such violence occurs against young adults, full of talent and promise, and incomprehensible when it occurs to innocent children and youth. Most of us understand, however, that there is more to learn before we fully grasp the circumstances that led to the shootings in La Loche. Not just the motivation and mental
health of the young shooter, but the disheartening rates of suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, unemployment, poverty and other distresses that are the underpinnings of the community in which he lived. Most of us understand that this situation is going to have multiple layers of complexity. Journalists know it, as they’ve been pulling at these strings since the tragedy occurred at La Loche. Most Indigenous leaders know full well the troubles that burden our remote and rural communities, largely ignored by governments who find their votes in urban centres. And we whisper at the news from La Loche with, ‘there but for the grace of Creator go we.’ Most of us would know better than to characterize this incident in any other terms than complicated. So, when we read the kneejerk statement from one provincial leader, we took considerable offence. She chimed in just hours after the La Loche shootings, and in the most shallow, most intellectually bereft way. Premier Christy Clark—who is intent on flooding the Peace River Valley for a dam to produce electricity that nobody needs, is intent on building a LNG terminal on sensitive salmon habitat, who strategized to †build “political capital in ethnic communities by taking what will be perceived as thoughtful and caring actions” including apologizing for past wrongs to get votes, whose government unjustly fired eight health ministry researchers, one of whom committed suicide in the aftermath—told us through a press release that “… there is no comprehending the evil that would drive anyone to harm a child.” Evil. Evil. Within hours of the shooting, the premier of a province, who is expected to think deeply about highly complex matters, could only see the La Loche situation in the simplest, starkest terms. She had decided that a boy of 17, who she knew nothing about, whose situation she knew nothing about, was driven to act by profound wickedness and immorality. No. We won’t let that comment stand. It lacks the dignity and critical thinking that we expect from people who occupy the province’s top job. The boy will be judged, but that’s not our job, and it’s certainly not the job of the premier of B.C. without any facts before her, without any understanding of the situation on the ground, without a full and proper hearing. “… there is no comprehending the evil that would drive anyone to harm a child.” We didn’t, by the way, receive a press statement from Clark on the ‘evil’ done to 163,000 First Nations children in care who have been purposely, and with intent over decades, harmed by the discrimination of the federal government.
[ rants and raves ]
Page 5 Chatter Rare mineral clays found in the traditional territories of the Heiltsuk First Nation, about 400 kms north of Vancouver, can fight bacterial infections in hospitals, scientist at the University of British Columbia have found. About 10,000 years ago, near the end of the last Ice Age, a 400,000 tonne deposit of the clay was formed over a five-acre granite basin. The First Nations have used the clay over the centuries to treat ulcerative colitis, duodenal ulcer, arthritis, neuritis, phlebitis, skin irritation, and burns. The clays killed 16 strains of the ESKAPE bacteria in laboratory testing. Sources of the bacteria used in the tests came from St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and UBC’s wastewater treatment plant. “Infections caused by ESKAPE bacteria are essentially untreatable and contribute to increasing mortality in hospitals,” said UBC microbiologist Julian Davies, co-author of a paper published in the American Society for Microbiology’s mBio journal. The clay presents no toxic side effects, but further research is required to see if it is suitable for clinical treatment. “More than 50 years of misuse and overuse of antibiotics has led to a plague of antibiotic resistance that threatens to reduce the efficacy of antimicrobial agents available for the treatment of infections due to resistant organisms,” reads the paper. “The main threat is nosocomial infections in which certain pathogens, notably the ESKAPE organisms, are essentially untreatable and contribute to increasing mortality and morbidity in surgical wards.”
A Nova Scotia judge wants more information on how an effluent leak from a pulp mill has affected those living in Pictou Landing First Nations. Northern Pulp Corporation has pleaded guilty on a Fisheries Act charge laid following an investigation into an effluent spill in 2014. The judge is preparing to sentence, but he was curious as to why Pictou Landing First Nations members were not asked about the impact of the leak. The judge acknowledged the history between the mill and the nation, so he wanted to hear more from those affected, despite a joint statement of the Crown and defence of the facts in the case. Prosecution said victim impact statements weren’t taken because they were not legally required, but will have Environment Canada investigators contact the nation about the matter. Sentencing is put off until Feb. 24.
Raven Thundersky, an advocate for people who suffered illness linked to vermiculite insulation, has died of mesothelioma cancer, which is associated with asbestos, said Raven-Dominique Gobeil, ThunderSky’s daughter. She was 50 years old. ThunderSky grew up on Poplar River First Nation, Man. in housing with asbestos-laced insulation and lost several family members to illnesses related to the product. In 2008, ThunderSky urged former prime minister Stephen Harper for an inquiry into Zonolite insulation. She was also critical of the settlement that came about from a lawsuit against the American company that produced the product. Her complaint was that it wouldn’t cover the cost of removing the insulation from the homes. Zonolite insulation was used in housing on military bases and on First Nations reserves.
The Chippwas of the Thames First Nation is raising concerns about a proposal to repair a dam on the Thames River for recreational and economic development purposes. The nation’s desire is to not see the broken Springbank Dam repaired. “Our position is we would like to see the dam decommissioned,” said Chief Leslee White-Eye. She sent a letter to London Mayor Matt Brown, who is advocating for repair, expressing the nation’s wish to have a role in the decision making. “We come from the stance of nation-to-nation relationships. We have Aboriginal rights being impacted; treaty rights being impacted.” The letter references the London Township Treaty of 1796, findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Environmental Assessment Act. “At this point I’m not going to enter into a discussion around treaty rights and Aboriginal affairs. That’s not my purview. We’ll leave that to our legal staff,” Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert told CTV News London. He says an upcoming environmental assessment would allow First Nations to participate.
The Halalt First Nation at Crofton on the east coast
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews February 2016
of Vancouver Island is suing the Catalyst pulp and paper company, alleging that its 59-year-old mill is trespassing on Halalt land. They also accuse the company of breaching a confidentiality agreement by disclosing sensitive information. In two civil suits, the claimant seeks $2 billion and a permanent order to shut down the Crofton Mill. Halalt says the mill interferes with water and land rights and has caused damage to fisheries and land within the territory. The second suit seeks $100 million from the company and an order to permanently block Catalyst from building, owning or operating an anaerobic digester facility, which processes organic waste material and converts it into energy. Halalt also maintains the mill was constructed near and on sacred burial sites. The nation said it was working in good faith with the company on their issues, but those attempts have failed.
[ news ]
Time for Enbridge to cut its losses, say Sterritt By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
GITGA’AT FIRST NATION, B.C.
Art Sterritt expects Gitga’at First Nation’s recent legal victory to impact more than the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Jan. 13 that the province had failed in its duty to properly consult and accommodate Gitga’at First Nation on Northern Gateway. An equivalency agreement signed by B.C. allowed the National Energy Board (NEB) to drive the approval process for the project. B.C. did not issue its own environmental certificates, instead depending on federal environmental certificates, and did not carry out its own consultations, instead depending on NEB hearings. “B.C. entered into the same kind of equivalency agreement with Kinder Morgan. The same thing is going to be true there. B.C. didn’t consult with the First
Nations on Kinder Morgan,” said Sterritt. Kinder Morgan is proposing a $6.8-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Burnaby to Alberta. The provincial government recently said it would not support the project. The legal challenge of Nothern Gateway, advanced by Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative Society, said the province had abdicated its duty by signing an equivalency agreement with the NEB for the Northern Gateway pipeline project. While NEB set out more than 200 conditions for Enbridge to meet, B.C. had five of its own conditions. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say on the one hand we’re opposed, but really do nothing about that when in actual fact you have the power to do (something). What we did is we went to the court to demonstrate that (the province does) have the power,” said Sterritt, a member of the Gitga’at First Nation. “(The province) may very well
have been able to delegate (their approval authority), but they had to consult with the Gitga’at before they did that,” said Sterritt as the implication of signing the equivalency agreement had ramifications on the Gitga’at people. Sterritt is not surprised by the court’s decision. “Everybody knows what the law is, but some choose to ignore it and, when you ignore it, you lose court cases,” he said. It is unclear how the government will proceed. “We have just received the decision on the petition and will need to take time to review it and determine next steps. The court held that the equivalency agreement is invalid to the extent that British Columbia relies on the decision of the National Energy Board in relation to the Northern Gateway project. My staff will need time to review the decision and government will have more to say in due course,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton in a statement. The ministry of justice has
further stated that it does not expect it will have to “duplicate the entire process.” No decision has been made at this point as to whether the decision will be appealed. An email request to Enbridge for comments went unreturned. However, Ivan Giesbrecht, communication manager for Northern Gateway, had issued a statement previously, saying, “Approval of the project falls within federal jurisdiction and this decision from the BC Supreme Court does not change that approval or the project’s environmental assessment.” Sterritt says consultation with all First Nations along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline will take some time, noting that it took NEB a couple of years, and that was “hurrying it through.” As far as Sterritt is concerned, Enbridge should pull the plug on the project, considering 85 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to the development and the federal government has said it wants to formalize a tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast.
“I don’t know when Northern Gateway will start mitigating their losses … they would be wise to use this as an opportunity to finally vacate the idea,” said Sterritt. “(They) are finding out that the whole legal landscape they thought they were operating under has changed. I don’t know when they’re going to realize they need to cut their losses and that this project has been a long time dead.” As for the province, Sterritt says it should follow the federal government’s lead in “listening better to First Nations.” Assembly of First Nation National Chief Perry Bellegarde agrees. In a statement, Bellegarde said, “The Prime Minister has committed to make sure all federal laws and policies respect First Nations rights. He has committed to give life to the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of First Nations to free, prior and informed consent on any developments in our traditional territories. We call on provincial governments to follow suit.”
Treatment centre to remain closed after allegations of financial irregularities By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
The president of the Three Voices of Healing Society has gone public to refute allegations of questionable spending at its 12-bed residential alcohol and drug abuse treatment centre in Invermere, B.C. The centre, which operated under the umbrella of the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, earned a high profile for its success working with First Nations clients. But the B.C. First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) withdrew funding for the facility effective Dec. 31, just days after a report published in the Vancouver Province, which provided details from a financial audit compiled earlier in the year. The Province story drew on a single source: FNHA COO Richard Jock, who outlined the sequence of events that led to the decision to withdraw funding. Calling it a “deliberate and vicious attack on the best run and most successful NNADAP treatment centre in B.C.,” Three Voices President Karen LeClair contacted Windspeaker to put some of the more glaring allegations into context. LeClair said it is important to examine the evolution of the society. “Twelve years ago, [the forerunner to Three Voices] was part of the Ktunaxa-Kinbasket First Nation,” she said. “They only had a 12-bed centre in Creston.”
As a result of operational difficulties, Health Canada stepped in, advising the principals to put together a new society. On the plus side, they had put together an after-care program, LeClair said, adding that both Health Canada and FNHA have named after-care as a much-needed component of treatment, beyond detoxification. The members of the new society were determined to continue providing after-care, so they looked for a successful model to use at the newly-named Three Voices of Healing Society, which would relocate to a new facility on Shuswap First Nation property in Invermere. Funding would flow, at various levels, from FNHA, Shuswap First Nation and NNADAP. The Province report spells out a litany of “unsupported” transactions and questionable spending that dated back to 2010. That included “$10,000 to cover travel and accommodation costs for three people to visit a rehab centre in Italy.” The facility is the renowned San Patrignano centre in Rimini province, and it offers working visits for professionals from around the world. On its website (www.sanpatignano.org/en), the centre advertises that it has treated 25,000 young men and women so far. “First of all, one of the three attendees was not from Three Voices, and he paid his own expenses,” LeClair said, making the figure closer to $6,600. “You
go there for seven days. You’re on site, 24/7 and you experience everything they do. We came up with a [treatment] program that was modeled after what they do.” That included an improved after-care program, LeClair said. In the eyes of the Three Voices board, this was a foundational learning session and $6,600 well spent. In the Province article, Three Voices executive director Delena Tikk came under criticism for her “total remuneration in 2014 of $178,464.” A much more detailed report, by Columbia Valley Pioneer reporter Breanne Massey, posted Jan. 8, cited the same figure as an “executive director salary.” LeClair said Tikk’s aggregate remuneration (not base salary) reflected the fact that she was, in effect, working at least twoand-a-half jobs, including raising money for operations via several fundraising efforts. “She was on call, 24/7, 365 days a year. That meant she was paid out her vacation pay in lieu of holiday time. In the summer, on Saturdays and Sundays she supervised the beach concession that we ran as a fundraiser – 10 to 12 hours a day. On top of that, she also served as our chief fundraiser, rather than contracting it out at top dollar. So when someone is putting in that many hours, you have to compensate.” LeClair said the auditor brought in to examine the society’s finances, John Scherbnyj of White Rock
Consulting, had this information, but it was not reflected in the audit he delivered to FNHA. LeClair maintains that, as a member of the FNHA board of directors and as acting band manager of Shuswap First Nation, which partially funded Three Voices, Scherbnyj was in a conflict of interest at the time he performed the audit. She said she has now filed a complaint with Certified Public Accountants BC. Massey’s news report provided an expanded litany of expenses that came under question, but LeClair gave the young reporter high marks for taking a balanced approach and for speaking with herself and executive director Tikk. LeClair said she was unable to “have a conversation” with COO Jock or with Sonia Isaac-Mann, FNHA executive director of Community Health and Wellness, who was cited extensively in the Jan. 8 article. LeClair maintains that the Dec. 31 shutdown violated the society’s contract, which demands 90 days’ notice. On Jan. 19, Windspeaker held a conference call with Jock, Isaac-Mann and communications/public relations director Davis McKenzie to address some of the issues raised by LeClair. Isaac-Mann offered reassurance that First Nations clients would continue to receive treatment in FNHA facilities. The first option would be the Round Lake facility near
Armstrong, in the B.C. Interior. (LeClair suggested that Round Lake was the only FNHA facility to achieve the kind of successful outcomes provided at Three Voices. But there is a monthslong backlog, she added.) “If there is a backlog in Round Lake, we have 254 beds, province-wide, and some of those treatment centres aren’t at max levels, so we have redirected to them,” Isaac-Mann said. Jock was asked if, aside from finances, there had been any questions about the quality of care provided at Three Voices, which received a Certificate of Excellence in July, even as the audit was unfolding. The COO said there was a long sequence of events that ultimately did raise issues of safety. But finances triggered the investigation, he said. “We work very closely with the existing board and chair. About a year ago, at this time, we became aware of a ‘high-debt issue’,” he said. The society’s bank, Peace Hills Trust, approached FNHA to advise that Three Voices was overdrawn by at least threemonth’s (one quarter) worth of FNHA funding. “They said, basically, their first full quarter of funding would go towards satisfying their line of credit. That was when we got involved. We tried to be helpful, and advanced two quarters [funding] to make sure they could operate.” According to Jock, the Three Voices board, the FNHA and (Continued on page 7.)
[ news ]
Seven arrested after occupation of Kinder Morgan drilling barge By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
Seven activists led by We Wai Kai Hereditary Chief Geh-SohGiliach (Dan Wallace) have been taken into custody after occupying an offshore geotechnical barge moored near the Westridge Marine Terminal on Burrard Inlet in TsleilWaututh Nation traditional territory. The barge, working under contract to Kinder Morgan, was conducting drilling operations in preparation for the proposed expansion of the terminal to increase crude oil shipments from the Alberta tarsands. On noon on Sunday, four activists shut down operations on the barge. On Monday, at 11 a.m., a few hours after the occupation team was boosted by three new members, a heavily armed Burnaby RCMP team boarded the barge and took the seven into custody. Sparrow Anderson is a member of Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain, and has taken part in the ongoing fight against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Anderson contacted Windspeaker as the arrest was taking place. The action took place on short notice, she said. “A couple of days ago, a friend contacted me and said there was a barge [at the current site] with lights on, and it looked like there was drilling going on. I put the word out,” Anderson said. When Wallace approached the vessel on Sunday, there were three employees on board, Anderson said. “They read out the security notice that they had to stay 100
A protestor holds up a sign claiming seizure of a barge, working under contract to Kinder Morgan
metres from the barge. But [Wallace and his team] boarded anyway.” Wallace’s partner, Shannon Hecker, said the circumstances of the barge protest/takeover are complex. The action was authorized by Tsleil-Waututh Hereditary Chief Tulsii’m Kia’palanexw, but he was unable to take part in the operation. Tulsii’m Kia’palanexw gave Wallace the authority to act in his place, she explained. Complicating the picture is the fact that the Tsleil-Waututh elected council has distanced itself from the barge takeover. From a media release issued late Sunday: “The actions represent individual considerations, not those of the Tsleil-Waututh government. While we respect all those opposed to the
expansion and their perspectives on the best way to voice that opposition, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation government will continue to oppose the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project by all legal means necessary.” Both sides agree that Kinder Morgan has failed to undertake the necessary consultation with the Indigenous people in Coast Salish territory. Last May, elected chief Maureen Thomas stated that her Nation voted unanimously to oppose the pipeline expansion, which would increase the capacity to 900,000 barrels per day of heavy oilsands bitumen from Alberta. Tsleil-Waututh has a Jan. 22 court date in the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge the regulatory process undertaken by
the National Energy Board to evaluate the Kinder Morgan/ Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion proposal. To reinforce their authority, the release noted: “Under the Indian Act, the elected chief and council govern the TsleilWaututh Nation.” Hecker said that was something the hereditary chiefs took under consideration. “They say they are operating ‘outside the authority of the imposed colonial governance system,’” she said. “I wasn’t there personally to witness it, but I am receiving [realtime] Facebook communications. Right now, I am organizing people to go down to the Burnaby RCMP headquarters to provide ‘jail support’.” Shortly after noon Monday, Burnaby RCMP issued a news
release. “Today, the Burnaby RCMP with the assistance of the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, arrested seven protestors at the Westridge Marine Terminal where permitted, geotechnical test drilling is taking place approximately 100 metres off shore,” the release stated. At 1 p.m., RCMP media spokesman, Sgt. Major John Buis, told Windspeaker the custodial status of the seven suspects had not been determined. “If they meet certain requirements, they will be released on a promise-to-appear,” he explained. “By law, we can release them. I don’t know what each individual’s situation is, but that is the normal plan.” In the event of a political protest, individual suspects may indicate they will not abide by the terms of their release. “That can be taken into consideration,” Buis said. “That will form part of our investigation, and also our response.” In their news release, the hereditary chiefs state that they are acting in solidarity with “all Indigenous nations displaced by the Tar Sands,” along the current and proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline routes. The chiefs noted that direct action is necessary to re-state the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples, who “are most regularly the first displaced, the first poisoned, and the first killed by extractive processes. “These lands are unceded, these lands are Indigenous. We are putting an end to genocide, ecocide, capitalism, and the colonial process that continues to this day.”
Treatment centre to remain closed Shuswap chief and council all agreed to undertake a financial review, to be conducted by Scherbnyj. At no time was there any suggestion that Scherbnyj was in any conflict of interest. “We did a financial review over the summer, then moved into a program review,” Jock said. At this point, he added, there had been no concerns raised about operational practices at the centre. Jock said the program consultant also found no issues when he visited. “But after that, we were made aware of a series of written complaints from staff (six in total) and from clients (10), which were very specific. And we also received a very detailed complaint from Ktunaxa First Nation, with their perception of financial irregularities.” Jock said FNHA contacted then-Three Voices chair, Dr. Murray Trusler, to set up a response plan.
“Our concern is the safety of clients, and secondarily, safety of staff. And ultimately, the complaints that we had were unaddressed. “Without addressing those, we felt that patient safety is compromised. We provided many opportunities and many time frames for those client complaints to be addressed, and they were not addressed.” Complicating the process further, Jock said Trusler was “effectively deposed” in late November, “in the middle of our discussion,” said Jock. Jock said FNHA had no choice but to act. That led to the Discontinuing of Funding notice. Jock and Isaac-Mann disagreed with LeCLair’s assertion that Three Voices was the only NNADAP centre in B.C. trained to accept fentanyl clients. Abuse of the synthetic opioid, mainly used in palliative
care, has reached epidemic proportions in some communities. “I am not aware of any specific training for fentanyl,” IsaacMann said, noting that it falls under the protocols for opioid abuse in general. “We [FNHA facilities] are all part of the overall Fentanyl Overdose Response [program],” Jock said. “All of our facilities are equipped with Naloxone (antidote) kits. I would also say we use the provincial health system for some of the more intensive medical treatments. There is not ‘one’ way of dealing with it.” Jock acknowledged there were concerns raised when it was revealed that 40 per cent of the Three Voices clientele was actually from Alberta. FNHA’s mandate is to treat First Nations clients from B.C. “But these are the sort of secondary things we would have
worked on if we had a willing partner,” he said. Asked if Tikk’s total compensation package of nearly $180,000 was not unreasonable when her multiple roles and job duties were spelled out, Jock was emphatic. “I think it’s pretty simple. Their total [annual] funding was about $750,000. For that size of centre, it is taking a much larger portion of finances than is sustainable.” Another item pointed out in the Three Voices audit was a $5,000 trip to the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas in late 2014. LeClair said the trip came about when the State of Nevada asked Three Voices to do a presentation about the centre. The board approved the visit as a Christmas break for staff and an opportunity to publicize the work being done at Three Voices, she said. Jock noted the timing, just
weeks before Peace Hills Trust approached FNHA about the Three Voices financial deficit. “We asked, is it reasonable to take trips of this order when you are $200,000 in overdraft?” he said. Jock said taking all these factors into consideration, “The operation, to us, became too unstable to continue.” Asked what would happen to the remaining debt on the Three Voices books, Jock replied, “I would direct that to the [Three Voices] board of directors.” In the Jan. 8 Pioneer article, LeClair stated that she and the board would attempt to keep the facility running under a different funding system. Speaking to Windspeaker 10 days later, that goal had been abandoned. “We have no capacity to take on any clients with no funding, so we are winding down the society, because there is no choice,” she concluded.
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Congress of Aboriginal Peoples reaches out to urban peoples By Shari Narine
Jasmine, from New Brunswick, stood up at a recent open forum, hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples in Edmonton Jan. 14, and gently chided Alberta for not having a CAP affiliate. “It’s been a culture shock. The disparities between the Aboriginals we have in the east as opposed to here in the west. Right away my daughter and I noticed the homelessness. It’s so rampant here. It’s mindboggling,” she said. Jasmine and her daughter had recently moved to Edmonton. “Why don’t you guys have (a provincial-territorial organization) here? We have one back home …. It would address the problem of housing. It would address the problem of education. It would address the problem of health care. These PTOs are the voice of us, of us urban Aboriginals.” It’s this outspoken attitude, paired with the numerous concerns voiced by Indigenous people living in cities throughout the country, that has CAP National Chief Dwight Dorey confident that his organization is on its way to becoming a stronger voice for urban Aboriginal peoples. CAP represents the interests of MÈtis, off-reserve status and non-status Indians, and southern Inuit Aboriginal peoples. “I’m quite optimistic that before long the congress will have affiliates from every province and territory,” he said. He notes that
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples hosted an open forum in Edmonton: (from left) local organizer David Turner, National Chief Dwight Dorey, and senior advisor Jerry Peltier.
even in the Yukon there’s a strong possibility of a CAP affiliate. When the territory moved to the self-government process a number of years before, the organizations worked together toward land claims and shared priorities. “Now I’m hearing a different story,” said Dorey, noting that his predecessor heard “things aren’t as harmonious and people are feeling left out.” Right now, CAP has affiliates in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and two affiliates in Newfoundland. An affiliate in Manitoba is the most recent addition. Edmonton was Dorey’s last three-city stop in Alberta. He says the concerns voiced in that forum—affordable housing, access to post-secondary
education funding, access to culturally appropriate health care, appropriate funding for prescription drugs, living in isolation and without support in the city, culturally appropriate recreation, access to Indigenous women’s shelters, lack of knowledge about services that are offered, and hassle by the city police—were similar to those voiced in Red Deer and Calgary earlier in the week. Each location had high turnout. “With exceptions of some regional differences, priorities change in the east and the west, the issues are pretty much the same right across the country,” said Dorey. And as far as Papaschase First Nation Chief Calvin Bruneau is concerned, the priorities of Edmonton’s urban Aboriginal people are not being carried
forward by the existing organizations. Bruneau says he approached both the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs and the Metis Settlement General Council for support and received none from either organization. Dorey notes he has had a similar experience. “I’ve already extended my hand to the other national (Indigenous) leaders, almost immediately after getting elected,” he said. While he has met with the presidents of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Native Women’s Association of Canada, he says his overtures have not been returned by either the Assembly of First Nations or Metis National Council. “My sense is they have no interest in meeting with me oneto-one. That’s just the way it is. I’ve extended my hand and I’m
not going to stand there holding it out. I’ve got to get on with the work and that’s exactly what I’m doing.” From Alberta, Dorey went to Whitehorse and Yellowknife. The open forums are a way for him to get a handle on the “main issues” facing urban Aboriginal peoples. Those issues will be used to create policies and proposals, which CAP will take to the “appropriate jurisdiction,” which could be federal, provincial or municipal governments. Dorey feels that once urban Aboriginal people can present a unified voice, the various levels of government will listen. “It’s important in terms of the timing and focus … with this government, with the priorities (Trudeau has) identified, with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so much of these things that the people were talking about here that are needed are things that were committed to by this country, by this government,” said Dorey. “I don’t think we need to push this government. I think we need to just demonstrate we’re ready to work in partnership with them and being ready means creating a situation where they or the bureaucracy or anybody else is not going to question these people, who they are, who they representÖ if those questions don’t come up, then I think we’ll get favourable response from this government in addressing the concerns,” he said. CAP is one of five national Aboriginal representative organizations recognized by the federal government.
Human Rights Tribunal lands on the side of children By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Perry Bellegarde and Cindy Blackstock are heartened that the Liberal government has embraced the decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal as an important call for changes to child welfare on reserve, but neither is willing to wait long for those inadequacies to be addressed. “There’s an opportunity now to fix the system and to make sure that those needs are addressed, immediately,” said Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Bellegarde and Blackstock, executive director with First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, hosted a joint news conference hours after the CHRT released its ruling on Jan. 26. The AFN and FNCFCS joined in 2007 to file a discriminatory
claim against the Conservative government and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada asserting that First Nations family and child services agencies received inequitable funding to do their work on reserve. In its 182-page ruling, the tribunal said AANDC had inadequately funded services, and in doing so discriminated against First Nations children and families living on reserve and in the Yukon. That lack of funding, said the panel, negatively impacted children in care and families. The tribunal also said that the government implemented Jordan’s Principle too narrowly. Jordan’s Principle calls for jurisdictional disputes over funding to be put secondary to the child’s best interest. FNCFCS asked the CHRT to award the children impacted— going back to 2006—$20,000 each as compensation, which would then be pooled to be distributed for wellness services,
culture, education and language. The panel, however, has reserved its decision for three weeks, needing to take other factors into consideration, including the AFN’s request that an expert panel decide what appropriate compensation would look like. Blackstock says a “substantial amount” of children would be eligible for the funding, which FNCFCS has suggested. “It’s a small recognition of how much they suffered,” she said. Blackstock said children, who have already lost so much of their childhood, cannot afford to wait for the federal government to undertake studies on how to improve the system. Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, former BC-AFN regional chief, agrees. Speaking at a news conference following the ruling, WilsonRaybould said her government was committed to discussions at a “very early time” with the AFN and Blackstock on how to
proceed. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, who joined Wilson-Raybould, said the Liberal government also committed to provide the funding needed to implement the changes. “We know we’re going to have to significantly increase the dollars that are available for child welfare programs,” said Bennett. “There is no question that (the funding) was committed to in the platform, it was committed to in my mandate letter and we are now in the midst of a budget process.” Bennett said the funding would proceed on a needs-basis and that regional needs would be assessed and “sufficient funding” would be allocated. Bellegarde noted that he and the regional chiefs would be meeting with Finance Minister Bill Morneau prior to the budget coming down, the first time such a meeting with any finance minister has ever happened.
Bellegarde also said that based on election promises, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s address at the AFN’s Special Chiefs Assembly, the Throne Speech, and the beginning of work towards the murdered and missing Indigenous women’s national inquiry, he was “hopeful” that changes would be happening. Both Bellegarde and Blackstock pledged to continue fighting on behalf of the children if Canada did not take action quickly. “If they don’t do it, I’m going to continue in court. I will not give up until they do the right thing,” said Blackstock. “Because really at the end of the day, this is Canada needing to respond to its obligations towards little kids. And I would hope that every Canadian would now join me in demanding that the Prime Minister and whole government … realize that today is the day when we end racial discrimination as a fiscal restraint measure in this country.”
Eviction notice at Site C shack ramps up activity on the Peace
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Windspeaker News Briefs The Kaska Dena nations which span the border between northern British Columbia and Yukon, has signed a land management framework deal with the territorial government. The agreement defines responsibilities, benefits and decision-making powers for resource development on traditional lands in southeast Yukon. Kaska territory is one of the richest in Yukon and the nations wish to benefit from development in their territories. The agreement is said to provide certainty around resource extraction. Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski says the deal is a milestone towards reconciliation and a renewed relationship between the territory and Kaska.
Snaw-naw-as First Nation on Vancouver Island has filed a civil
PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY STEWART PHILLIP
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (fourth from left) and Dr. David Suzuki (third from right, front row) stand with members of the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land where clearcutting has begun in preparation for the Site C dam on the Peace River. By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
ROCKY MOUNTAIN FORT CAMP, B.C.
A dedicated group of protesters are hoping they can accomplish what legal action has failed to do: shut down BC Hydro’s construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River. A rotating group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land say they will remain at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort Camp, the height of where clearcutting has already begun for the dam, “for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow. That’s how long our people have been here and that’s how long we will continue to be here,” said Helen Knott of the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land. The group has had a daily presence at the camp since midDecember, pitching a canvas tent on site and making use of a survival shack that has kitchen facilities. But when Knott went out with a couple of young people from nearby communities to celebrate New Year’s Eve, she found that BC Hydro had placed an eviction notice on the door of the survival shack. That was too much. Since then, the stewards have had constant overnight presence on the site, which, if the dam goes through, will be flooded out. “(BC Hydro) doesn’t have the right to evict us from our Treaty 8 territory. We have to give free, prior and informed consent. We’re going to be here, we’re going to stay here,” said Knott. “We go through a daily process of giving BC Hydro notice that, ‘You are on Treaty 8 territory. That we have the right to be here and that we are actively practising our treaty rights while
we are here.’” During the first few days after the stewards had established themselves on site, Knott says BC Hydro representatives came out routinely with video cameras and asked questions. Now BC Hydro has hired security that comes to the camp for regular checks. Knott says neither BC Hydro nor the security guards have been aggressive, but at times she has felt intimidated. There is no blockade. Instead, the group burns a campfire near to where BC Hydro has undertaken its work and Elders, youth and daily visitors—who have to come in by snowmobile or hike 45 minutes from the road—gather around the fire and tell their stories. They walk down to the Moberly River, where drummers perform, tobacco is offered, and prayers for the land are given. “When people come out they’re really emotional. There’s a lot of crying when people see where they’ve cleared, when they walk that. We do a lot of praying and offering and stuff and that part is really hard,” said Knott. The $9 billion Site C dam would flood 107-kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, flooding out a migratory corridor that contains medicine and burial sites, as well as rich agricultural lands. The battle against Site C dam is not new. “We’ve tried all these peaceful measures prior and we’ve not been listened to, so this grassroots movement is saying, ‘That’s enough. We’re here. This land is Treaty 8 territory and we’re the faces of that territory,’” said Knott. The stewards’ efforts got a boost in early January when Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and Dr. David Suzuki
came out to the site. “(Suzuki) was absolutely amazing. He was so sweet. We had a lot of good conversations,” said Knott, who notes that Suzuki successfully fought this same dam 30 years ago. Successive proposals for the dam over the past three decades have all been beaten back by opposition. Knott said Suzuki’s visit gave the protesters’ spirits a boost. Phillip was impressed with the dedication of the people at the site and overwhelmed with the devastation he saw. He is familiar with the area having participated many years in the Paddle for the Peace annual event. “When I first arrived into the camp I was completely overwhelmed at the destruction. It was heartbreaking,” he said. UBCIC has passed a number of resolutions supporting Treaty 8’s ongoing opposition to Site C dam and stands firm with the stewards’ call that all construction stop until the legal issues have been resolved. “We think it’s absolute arrogance on the part of the provincial government through BC Hydro to let contracts in and start the preliminary work, given the fact that there are court cases that have not run their course through the courts and could very well come out and bring a complete stop to this project,” said Phillip. UBCIC also supports the stewards in their call that the federal government consider the infringement of Treaty 8’s Constitutional rights by the Site C dam and that the project be reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission, an exemption that was previously granted by the provincial government. “We are monitoring the situation very, very closely,” said Phillip.
lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court against the Island Corridor Foundation and the Attorney General of Canada over a railway line. Snaw-Naw-As wants the land that was removed from them to build the E&N Railway returned. The line runs through the reserve, north of Nanaimo. “The corridor, that was taken out of the reserve for the railway, was expropriated back in the early part of the 20th century and one of the conditions that goes with any expropriation like that for railways is that once it’s no longer needed or used for railway purposes, it goes back to the original owner,” said Robert Janes, Snaw-Naw-As legal counsel. Island Corridor, a non-profit organization formed in 2003 to manage the railway, is awaiting $7.5 million in federal government funding to restore passenger train service to Vancouver Island, reads the Nanaimo News Bulletin. Unsafe track conditions caused passenger service to be discontinued in 2011. “If the E&N can actually prove that they are planning to genuinely run a railway, and have the ability to run a railway, and have the money to run a railway, then that obviously would impact the basic underlying part of our claim,” said Janes.
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Willis College of Business, Technology, and Healthcare, have announced they will collaborate to provide “state-of-the-art career preparation and skills training” for Indigenous peoples across Canada in healthcare, business, and information technology and management. The goal sets out to train 1,000 Métis, status, non-status and southern Inuit Indigenous peoples in Canada. Dwight Dorey, national chief of CAP, expressed his optimism with the Liberal government’s commitment to prioritize education for Indigenous people. “By alleviating the gaps in educational funding that have blocked progress for Indigenous students for far too long, many more of our youth and adults will finally have the opportunity to look forward and decide their own career path.” Rima Aristocrat, president & CEO of Willis College, said “I believe that skills training and talent development is vital to the Indigenous community in achieving better health and living standards. With a core of trained professionals in all areas of technology, I’m excited about the potential of expanding our partnership with CAP into other Indigenous communities.”
Is there an elephant room? B.C.’s First Nations leaders think there is. It’s the inability or refusal of community members to pay rent in band-owned housing, reports the Vancouver Sun, because some say free housing is an Aboriginal right, according to reports and interviews. “There’s confusion around rights and title because Aboriginal people don’t have an Aboriginal right to a home,” said Lawrence Lewis, chief executive officer of the Malahat First Nation on Vancouver Island. Chiefs and councillors say bands are, as a result, finding it difficult to fund renovations and repairs. They can’t fund new housing projects or pay off the debt required for the social housing they’ve got. “It is the elephant in the room,” said Garry Merkel, chief executive officer of the Tahltan Nation Development Corp. A report produced by the B.C. Aboriginal Housing Committee estimates that B.C. Nations owe $331 million in arrears. Shane Gottfriedson, B.C. regional chief, said the challenges are very practical in remote, impoverished communities. The legacy of poor housing management compounds into social issues, said Cheryl Casimer, executive-member of the First Nations Summit.
As a result of an Apache-Nde-Nnee Working Group report, submitted to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN CERD Committee has recognized that the Doctrine of Discovery, the Holy See’s Inter Caetera and related Papal Bulls are within the legal scope of racial discrimination under International Law and therefore require redress, reads a press statement. The UN CERD Committee has also concluded that the Holy See is responsible for the ongoing legacy of historical racist legal documents, and that, in addition, the Holy See must be in direct dialogue with appropriate representatives of Indigenous Peoples to discuss its accountability. The Apahche-Nde-Nnee Working Group demands that a dialogue between the Pope and Indigenous Peoples must occur, and must include the Apache-Ndee-Nnee Working Group and the issues of the Apache-Ndee Nnee, for full accountability of the Holy See and for justice to occur. These dialogues must result in genuine redress and remedy, and in the establishment or supporting of the establishment of one or more related Truth Commission(s).
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Kahnawà:ke actress nominated for Canadian screen award By Lauren Karonhiarónkwas McComber Windspeaker Contributor
A few years ago, Brittany LeBorgne, 31, was about to give up on her dream of becoming an actress. It was a dream she kept alive since she was a fiveyear-old girl, playing dress up and performing for large imaginary audiences. Fighting her self-doubt during what she calls her “Debbie-Downer period,” she decided to give it another shot after the then TV pilot series Mohawk Girls landed its first season in 2011. Fast-forward five years, and LeBorgne is now a nominee for the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards (CSA) in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role. “I never thought I’d be nominated so early in my
Mohawk Girls’ actress Brittany LeBorgne portraying Zoe
career,” confessed LeBorgne. “You never think it’s going to
happen for your first big role.” Leborgne’s first big role is as
Zoe in APTN’s Mohawk Girls, a Type-A personality perfectionist Mohawk girl who escapes from her pent-up frustrations with some kinky sex. “She takes me out of my comfort zone, and that’s always a challenge. As an actor, it’s good to push yourself and do things that are out of your comfort zone because that’s how you grow.’ LeBorgne is up against Belinda Cornish (Tiny Plastic Men), Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek), and, most notably, Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), who many have seen in Home Alone, Beetlejuice, and Waiting for Guffman. “It’s sort of unreal that I am up against Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy!” said LeBorgne, who is admittedly a huge fan of Schitt’s Creek. “Catherine O’Hara is such a brilliant comedic actress, I can only aspire to one day be as
great as she.” APTN’s Mohawk Girls is also nominated for ‘Best Comedy’, ‘Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series’ (Tracey Deer), and ‘Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series’ (Cynthia Knight). The TV series began filming Season 1 in 2013. It finished airing Season 3 late last year, and has been approved for Season 4. Mohawk Girls creator and director Tracey Deer describes the show as “Sex and the City for the Native set.” Deer was the first Mohawk woman to win a Gemini Award for her documentary, Club Native. The CSA gala will be held in Toronto on March 13th. Watch LeBorgne act out one of Zoe’s hilarious kinky sex scenes here: https:// w w w. y o u t u b e . c o m / watch?v=oSIOy0n5A8M
Horror, sci-fi and fantasy puts their mark on the north By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Mason Mantla is no stranger to the camera. It is part of the work he does with kids in his job with the Tlicho Community Action Research Team. So when the opportunity arose to get behind the camera for the “home-grown grassroots” Dead North Film Festival, he couldn’t pass it up. “And I just wanted to make a horror film!” he said. The Dead North Film Festival runs from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28. It is into its fourth year. This year will mark Mantla’s third in producing a short film for the horror-science fiction-fantasy genre festival. His first year, he shot his film in minus 40-degree C weather just three days before the festival deadline. “We’re definitely doing a lot more planning than we have in previous years, so we won’t shoot three days before deadline,” he said.
Mantla will be drawing on his experience, his new-found comfort and the strength of his team this year. Dead North is a unique film festival that gives participants nine weeks to create, at maximum, a 10-minute short in its entirety, from writing the script to shooting the film to post-production editing. The created work is then screened in Yellowknife. This year the competition was opened internationally to Greenland and Alaska. It already draws from the three northern territories, with the majority of submissions coming from the Northwest Territories. There is one international submission in the 33 entries received and it comes from Iceland, said organizer Meagan Wohlberg, but there is a local connection as one of the team members lives in Fort Simpson and is studying in Iceland. There is a good mix of experienced and novice participants, and this year about one-third of teams participating are led by women.
In a normally maledominated profession, Wohlberg is thrilled that so many women are getting behind the camera. The original organizers of Dead North, she says, wanted to inspire amateur filmmakers and get more northerners involved in the film industry. “It was just a fun challenge to get more people, even if you’re not experienced filmmakers, to take the plunge and do something new,” she said. “If you have a good idea, and you know some people, and if you have a camera on your phone, then there’s no real barriers here.” Working with the bleakness of winter, the desolate landscape in the circumpolar north, filmmakers draw on some of the more chilling Indigenous legends and interesting stories that comprise the spookier tales in the three northern territories. The festival’s founders thought horror, science fiction and fantasy would be a perfect fit and also a way to entice young people.
Mantla agrees enthusiastically. His first film told the story of Nàhga, which means “Bushman.” “It was the creative entity that we grew up hearing about as kids to put us to bed,” he said. Mantla is Tlicho Dene from Behchoko. In the film, a young man climbs a hill to get visions and if he gets specific visions, he ends up with medicine powers. He sleeps on the hill to soak up the powers. The catch? He can’t ever look behind him. “We were playing on that trope, to have noises behind him, to have something behind him the whole time, but he really doesn’t know what it is until he looks behind him,” said Mantla. Mantla’s work has been met with success. He has won the best use of the two northern elements as well as the audience favourite. “Whoever gets the loudest cheer wins and all these people were cheering for my film and it won audience favorite. That felt pretty good because it kind c
of cemented my identity as a filmmaker. Maybe I could do this professionally or go on and try for greater things down the road,” he said. The short films have to contain specified elements such as a line of dialogue or special northern element or specific angle shot, says Wohlberg, and often times they include Elders speaking in their Indigenous languages. The shorts range in time from three to 10 minutes. While this year’s 33 entries are record-setting, Wohlberg expects about five or six won’t meet the deadline. Those that do will be screened at the Capitol Theatre, in Yellowknife, as well as posted online. And some of the entries may even go on to other festivals as they have done in the past, which include Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, New York Horror Festival, and Cannes (as part of the Canadian short film segment). “There’s a lot of possibilities for people to pursue after Dead North,” said Wohlberg. “It’s about expanding the northern filmmaking industry.”
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APTN looking south for opportunity By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is hoping it can capitalize on an acceptance speech delivered by Leonardo DiCaprio at the recent Golden Globes and bring its unique style of TV to the United States. “We’re talking to the cable companies now and satellite distributers in the U.S. It’s still at the negotiation stage with them,” said Jean La Rose, CEO with APTN. “This would be a purely commercial enterprise (in the U.S.). That’s why we have to secure carriage from some of the major distributors from there to ensure we have the opportunities to generate the revenues to create the programming.” Whatever programming APTN manages to offer in the U.S. will come without the comfortable cushion it has been given by the Canadian Radiotelevision and Te l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s Commission. When APTN first started operating in 1999, the CRTC designated APTN as a mustcarry channel for cable and satellite. “The reason CRTC made that mandatory carriage order for APTN was to be sure that cable and satellite companies would carry us because there was some
The comedy television series Mohawk Girls is one of two shows that appears on APTN that was nominated for Canada Screen Awards. Mohawk Girls received five nominations while the drama Blackstone received one.
negative reaction for them being forced to carry a Native channel. They felt there was no market for it, there was no interest in it and it would probably be a bust business within a year or two, so the CRTC decided that the only way to ensure that we were given an opportunity in the market place was to make us a mandatory service,” said La Rose. That designation means that the current series of changes being brought about by the CRTC – which requires
providers to offer a basic package of channels for no more than $25 per month, and also give customers the option of buying individual channels or small bundles – will not impact APTN. But even though APTN will be part of the basic package, that doesn’t translate to more advertising revenue for the broadcasting network. “The way advertising is sold in Canada is through what is called the audience rating… but APTN’s audience is not
measured,” said La Rose. Audience surveys are carried out in five or six major urban centres in Canada. Approximately 3,000 people are sampled and their viewing habits are used to determine what all Canadians watch. “We believe that the service is faulty…. What it does do is it puts us at a disadvantage. About 40 to 45 per cent of our community is on reserve still. Those aren’t measured. So the measurement system doesn’t actually measure what our audience truly is. It only extrapolates from a very, very small percentage of mostly an all non-Native audience, who may watch us at some point in time,” said La Rose. But recent occurrences, both in Canada and the U.S., have La Rose encouraged that APTN may start picking up more nonNative viewers. At the Golden Globes, DiCaprio was presented with the best actor award for his starring role in The Revenant, which was filmed largely in southern Alberta and made use of a sizeable Indigenous cast. “I want to share this award with all the First Nations peoples represented in this film and all the Indigenous communities around the world… It is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your Indigenous lands and corporate interests,” said DiCaprio in accepting his award.
It’s not the first time an actor has highlighted Indigenous peoples, says La Rose, who points to Marlon Brando, who refused his Oscar for The Godfather in 1973, because of how Native Americans were treated by the film industry. The impact is short-lived, says La Rose, unless something carries the momentum. And that could be what is happening with DiCaprio’s comments coming on the heels of a new Canadian Prime Minister, who has pledged to change the country’s relationship with Aboriginal peoples. “All of this generates a positive feeling in the community that things will change,” said La Rose. That change could provide APTN with opportunities to work with other broadcasters to develop series that would appeal to Canadians as well as to Aboriginal people, or access more money through the Canada Media Fund to develop more programming so that “Canadians can get a different insight as to who we are.” It may also result in opportunities for the network to gain a wider audience that then helps with advertising sales. “There are opportunities and we are, through various initiatives, meeting with people in Ottawa to try to bring about some movement that would be beneficial to us and to our production community and also, we hope over time, our entire community across the country,” said La Rose. With DiCaprio’s comments and interest from the Native American production community, who do not have an APTN equivalent in the U.S., APTN is looking south of the border. “There’s a lot of support and interest with what we are attempting to do. I think it will help us generate possibly more opportunities for carriage in the U.S.,” said La Rose. Moving into the U.S., he says, would allow APTN to develop more programming opportunities and pull on the expertise of Native American filmmakers. Negotiations are ongoing and if there is a favorable outcome, it will take at least nine to 12 months before APTN launches in the U.S. Radio is also another area that APTN is presently examining.
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Fisheries Council wants feds to make First Nations’ right to fish a priority By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
VANCOUVER A recent study that indicates First Nations fisheries’ catch could decline as much as 50 per cent by 2050 due to climate change is just one more factor that will impact food and economic security for British Columbia’s coastal First Nations. The findings of the study, conducted by scientists with the Nereus Program, an international research team led by scientists at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, do not come as a shock to Ken Malloway, chair of the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. “I’ve been at it for a long time and we’ve been talking about climate change and things like that for an awful long time and it seems like it’s here now and really happening,” he said. “Climate change is not something new.” The study, published in January in PLOS ONE, says that most of the 98 “culturally and commercially important” species of fish and shellfish in the northeast Pacific would be affected by climate change. According to the research team, southern communities, such as the Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth Nations, are likely to be most severely impacted, but all communities are likely to encounter declines in traditional resources, including decreases in catch by up to 29 per cent for species of salmon and up to 49 per cent for herring by 2050. The economic loss for coastal First Nations, says the study, could run between $6.7 and $12 million annually by 2050. This study is one of the few that focuses on the implications of climate change on Indigenous communities. But First Nations don’t have to wait until 2050 for either their culture or their livelihoods to be impacted. It’s happening now, sair Malloway. First Nations are already being hurt, both commercially and ceremonially, by existing quotas and allocations on a variety of species, as well as no longer being able to fish for other species. Malloway remembers a time when commercial fishing was a lucrative industry for First Nations. He says coastal First Nations are being squeezed out of the commercial fisheries by non-Aboriginal commercial operations, as well as recreational
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fishing. “If the government doesn’t go by the law, we’re not going to get any fish,” said Malloway. Malloway points to the 1990 Sparrow decision which, he says, the government is not abiding by. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that, despite nearly a century of governmental regulations and restrictions on Musqueam’s right to fish, their Aboriginal right to fish had not been extinguished. “That decision basically said that First Nations have Aboriginal rights to fish for food, social needs and ceremonial needs. It says in Sparrow that if there’s not enough fish to go around, (if ) not enough fish to sustain First Nations’ needs, then there won’t be any fishing going on,” said Malloway. “That’s not what’s happening.” Malloway is hopeful that changes will come about under the new federal Liberal government and that hope is buoyed by the appointment of Hunter Tootoo as the minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Tootoo delivered an address in December at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly. “When he talked about fishing rights … he talked about ‘us’ and our Aboriginal rights and our Aboriginal title and things like that. That’s the first time we’ve ever heard a minster of Fisheries saying ‘us,’” said Malloway. “We’re hoping we can expect more from the Trudeau government.” Malloway has been impressed with Tootoo’s open line of communication. FNFC met with Tootoo in December and another meeting is planned for midFebruary. “We want him to make sure that First Nations have priority as far as fishing goes. Right now we don’t enjoy that priority,” said Malloway. Malloway would also like to see more Aboriginal voices on the various existing panels, committees and commissions, which deal with fisheries issues. Barring that, he’d like to return to a practise implemented by a former Liberal fisheries’ minister, who established a minister’s advisory committee, which set Indigenous representation at 50 per cent plus one. “We reminded (Tootoo) that we had a very good relationship with the Liberal government in those day and that we’ve been suffering under the Harper government since (Harper) got in,” said Malloway.
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The Haida Nation maintain closure of the commercial herring fishery in its waters to allow time to address long-term management and conservation of herring stocks, a press release reads. The closure does not affect the traditional roe-on-kelp fishery. A letter to the nation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada shows the new federal government is onside with the plan. “Based on science information and pre-season consultations… DFO is proposing a balanced, precautionary approach to harvest planning… Under the historic assessment methodology, both the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii are below commercial fishery cutoffs and are closed to commercial fisheries for 2015/16.” Peter Lantin (traditional name kil tlaats ‘gaa), president of the Haida Nation, said they are pleased to see the government looking at herring stocks “in a
way that is closer to our understanding of how the natural world works, calling the “new perspective” refreshing. He said the Haida Nation hopes to see this perspective applied to other fisheries and in government to government negotiations.
Simon Fraser University has approved a Burnaby campus memorial to commemorate the experience of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who attended residential schools. It will be a part of the Faculty of Education’s new Aboriginal Gathering Place. The initiative is sparked by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report. “It is still early, but we envision the creation of a special area with a copper or bronze wall plaque with map, locations and names of B.C. residential schools, a small stone or bronze statue of a hugging mother and child figure, and a memorial garden with traditionally used plants and an outdoor classroom,” said
William Lindsay, director of the Office for Aboriginal Peoples at SFU. “The plan is to locate this in a beautiful patio location that is part of the new Aboriginal Gathering Place being created in the SFU Faculty of Education. We see this place as a place of honour, a place to remember, and a place to learn.” It is expected that the project will take years to complete. SFU’s Vancouver Aboriginal gathering place opened last fall.
Lelu Island and Flora Bank is critical habitat for wild salmon, located at the mouth of the Skeena River in northwestern B.C. The area has now been declared permanently protected from industrial development by a coalition of First Nations leaders, local residents and federal and provincial politicians. The Lelu Island Declaration will be a “major obstacle” to Malaysian-owned oil and gas giant, Petronas. The company intends to develop a liquefied
natural gas (LNG) plant near Prince Rupert, reads a press release. “The Lelu Declaration sends a powerful message to Premier [Christy] Clark and Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau,” said Hereditary Chief Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams. “The support to stop this LNG project is overwhelming. Nations are united from the headwaters of the Skeena River to the ocean. Together, we will fight this to the end.” The declaration was the culmination of a two-day Salmon Nation Summit. More than 300 hereditary and elected First Nations leaders, scientists, politicians, commercial and sport fishermen gathered “to defend wild salmon from the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project.” The Petronas project was rejected by NDP MP Nathan Cullen (Bulkley Valley), and three northern NDP MLAs, Jennifer Rice (North Coast), Doug Donaldson (Stikine), and Robin Austin (Skeena). “This project isn’t going to happen. This project can’t happen,” Cullen said. Gerald Amos, chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, stated “We honour the support of our elected representatives. Unlike the Clark government, they are prepared to stand up for an economy that recognizes our Aboriginal title, plays a part in the fight against climate change, and favours long-term prosperity for all the people of the Skeena, over short-term gain for foreign investors.”
The Huu-ay-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island, one of the five Maa-nulth Treaty Nations, has purchased a significant amount of land around Bamfield, including the purchase of a gas station, a lodge and marina, the 40-acre airstrip, and the seven-acre Rance Island in Bamfield Inlet. A Huu-ay-aht, press statement says the nation hopes to generate more tourism in the area while giving an economic boost to their people.
Edward John, an executive member of the First Nations Summit, is calling for urgent efforts in B.C. to revive Indigenous languages. He said the 6,000 to 7,000 languages spoken by Native peoples around the world are “the essential component of cultural heritage” and should get international attention and support to ensure their survival. John spoke at a three-day meeting of language experts at U.N. Headquarters in New York. “The priority focus that I hear from all of the experts is, create fluent speakers,” he said. “That’s what you need to do. How do you do it? That’s the discussion taking place.” “There’s been a large focus on literacy, developing books and calendars and dictionaries” in Indigenous languages, John said, “but not as much of an effort in fluency.” He said some languages have less than a handful of fluent speakers left, “and when they’re gone that language is gone and everything — everything about that culture and that heritage is gone as well,” John said.
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PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Girls from Cold Lake First Nations, with Chief Bernice Martial (right) standing behind them, sing O Canada in Dene at opening of the Treaties 1-11 gathering.
Chiefs agree to engage prime minister, governor general By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
ENOCH CREE NATION
Chiefs are “cautiously optimistic” that recent strategizing to implement their treaty rights will get somewhere with the new federal government. “We are cautiously optimistic with the promises of the newly elected federal government…,” said Cold Lake First Nations Chief Bernice Martial. She points to the promises made by the Trudeau government to implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to follow through with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Trudeau campaigned on holding a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and work has already gotten underway.
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Adam Allan, of Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation in Saskatchewan, and co-chair of the two-day Treaties 1-11 gathering, says he shares that optimism. “Personally … I watched what happened before Trudeau and it didn’t seem like it was a very good relationship. It was very adversarial and people were always at odds with each other and it just seemed like that was the atmosphere. With Trudeau there seems to be a hint of a light there now,” he said. Chiefs, their delegates and Elders gathered behind closed doors at the Enoch Cree Nation Jan. 20 and 21 to discuss how to move forward with the federal government in treaty implementation. “We, as treaty people, are developing our strategies to implement our jurisdictions over our lands and resources. We owe this to our future generations and those yet unborn to come,” said Martial.
The two-day event brought together approximately 300 Chiefs and delegates from Treaties 1-11. “(We) are here to discuss further our common goals and vision on treaty rights,” said Martial in her opening remarks. “Our Elders always reminded us that we are a treaty people. For as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow…. There is still much work to do but we are committed to the long term goals set before us.” Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin called the push to implement treaty rights a “grassroots movement.” “As a young leader I still take (this) as a learning opportunity to learn about treaty and how that is essential to the foundation of our people and how this is such a grassroots movement and how chiefs have committed to this not being part of the government’s agenda but as part of our agenda as to move forward,” he said. Morin also held that with the
change in the federal government, decades of discussion could have favourable results. “There are so many opportunities that you get to make a move … and I think now we’re living in a moment of history that it’s time to make that move. And I think that the Chiefs that are leading this today, with a new government and with a new way of looking at things, is really a tipping point if we really put our best foot forward together as First Nations Chiefs, treaties 1-11 as people,” he said. The discussions focused on engagement with Canada, both Trudeau and Governor General David Johnston, who represents the Crown. It is the Crown that entered into treaties with First Nations, says Martial. The peace and friendship treaties allowed the Queen’s subjects to live among the First Nations people. Adam says Trudeau committed to working with First Nations.
“But he didn’t say anything too outright on implementation but hopefully we’ll see more programs and things like that at the community level,” he said. Adam points to clean water, education and “all the issues that are still outstanding.” Martial says it is about more than resource revenue sharing. “Our nations have survived in our territories for thousands of years. We know how to survive. Now we need to put these skills to work and go beyond survival (to) implement our government-to-government vision with commitment for the next seven generations,” she said. “Our own traditional economic practices are still as relevant today. We are losing these rights to our livelihood and need to reinforce our stance that these issues are not negotiable. This is recognized through our inherent rights and treaty,” Martial says there is still much work to be done but Chiefs were committed to that work.
Aboriginal Affairs undertakes research project Aboriginal Relations will be undertaking a research project to get a handle on provincial attitudes toward Aboriginal women. No such study has ever been conducted in Alberta. “If it articulates the discrimination and racism that exist against Aboriginal women then I’m very much in favour of it,” said Muriel Stanley Venne, founder and president of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. “If it achieves that, it is very useful.” The IAAW is one of the organizations the province will be working with as it sets parameters for the study. Details are few at this point, but the government will be contracting a researcher to identify myths and stereotypes and how these perceptions contribute to the barriers faced by Indigenous women. April Eve Wiberg, founder of Stolen Sisters, does not anticipate the research project will uncover anything Indigenous women don’t already know or haven’t already experienced, and the public isn’t already aware of to some degree. But she hopes it leads to a clear path of zero tolerance when it comes to discrimination.
Applications being taken for Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement Through the Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement, those who were subject to a permanent wardship order or
permanent guardianship order by Alberta Child Welfare between July 1, 1966, and Feb. 19, 2008, or a temporary guardianship order between July 1, 1985 and Feb. 19, 2008, are eligible for compensation either through the Victims of Crime financial benefits program or, having missed the time parameters set out by VOC, through a special fund created by the class action. The fund will have $6.5 million fund accessible to those who were under permanent wardship $1 million as compensation for those under temporary guardianship. Average benefit payments, which will be delivered in the areas of injury, witness (those who witnessed a crime that resulted in the death of a loved one), and death (reimburses funeral costs), are expected to run between $15,000 to $30,000. Any money not claimed will be returned to the province as the Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement does not set aside money for mental health supports for those abused while in government care. Nelson Mayer, executive director with the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association, says providing mental health care for those abused is important. There are no figures available as to how many of those impacted are Aboriginal but considering the high number of Aboriginal children in care presently, it is expected the number will be substantial.
DiCaprio acknowledges Indigenous peoples in Golden
Globe speech In accepting his Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Drama, Leonardo DiCaprio recognized the First Nations people he worked with while filming The Revenant in Alberta. Said DiCaprio, “I want to share this award with all the First Nations peoples represented in this film and all the Indigenous communities around the world…It is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your Indigenous lands and corporate interests.” Director Alejando Gonzalez Inarritu reached out to several First Nations communities, including Tsuu T’ina, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Sunchild, Maskwacis, and Frog Lake, to fill the roles of extras and actors for the film. Many were involved in the expansive battle scenes shot in Morley. The Revenant also took the award for Best Picture.
Mother charged in beating death of infant Florencine Leandra Potts, 28, has been charged with the second-degree murder of her son. Wetaskiwin Emergency Medical Services responded to a report of a child in distress at a residence on the Samson Cree Nation on Dec. 5. EMS determined that the 15-month-old boy was deceased at the scene. After an autopsy determining homicide and investigation by RCMP Major Crimes Unit, Potts was charged. The baby and his five siblings were apprehended
by the province in August 2014 and placed in the care of three foster families. The children were returned over the objections of the foster parents Oct. 8, 2015, just days after their mother had a seventh child. Tim Chander, with the child and youth advocate office, says advocate Del Graff has requested additional file information and if Graff determines systemic issues were involved in the baby’s death, the OCYA will investigate and the results will be made public. The Wildrose Party is pushing Graff to investigate. In a statement issued by the NDP government, Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir said, “There is nothing more tragic and heartbreaking than the death of a child in our care.”
Father refuses to testify further in fatality inquiry into sons’ deaths Jason Cardinal, who killed his two young sons in December 2010, was removed from an Edmonton courtroom in early January when he refused to further answer questions at a fatality inquiry about their death. Cardinal was testifying about his involvement with the child welfare system during the time Caleb, 6, and Gabriel, 3, were removed from his care. The boys were found dead in an Edmonton home on Dec. 20, 2010, 10 hours after their mother and a family support worker went to pick them up following an unsupervised weekend visit with Cardinal. Cardinal pleaded guilty in 2012 to two counts of first-degree murder. In February 2010, Child and Family Services apprehended the boys based on a number of incidences involving Cardinal, who became the boys’ main parent in late 2008. Initially he was allowed supervised visits, which turned into unsupervised weekend visits by late 2010. Even after a doctor’s report diagnosed Cardinal with various conditions including generalised
anxiety disorder and sociopathic tendencies, his unsupervised access to the boys remained. The boys’ mother, Andrea Badger, testified that she felt Child and Family Services were not open with her and did not listen to her concerns. She said CFS should have taken Cardinal’s mental state into consideration. In 2013, Badger began legal action to sue the province over her sons’ deaths, claiming CFS failed to protect them. The fatality inquiry, tasked with preventing similar deaths, is scheduled to go all week.
Sculpture, permanent display commemorate the Aseniwuche Winewak people In 2016, a bronze sculpture will be erected in the garden outside the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives to commemorate the Aseniwuche Winewak people, who once called Jasper home. The Aseniwuche Winewak, or Rocky Mountain People, currently reside in the Grande Cache area. The sculpture and a permanent exhibit inside the museum will highlight the contribution of the Aseniwuche Winewak people to the region and commemorate their traditional way of life within the park. “There was a very important Aboriginal presence and connection to Jasper National Park and it belongs in the museum,” said Andy Klimach, manager of the museum. “I think we’ve been overdue in showcasing that and really showing people that aspect of our history.” Klimach has been collaborating on the project with Parks Canada’s Aboriginal liaisons and the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation since July 2014. The four-foot bronze sculpture, which will depict an Elder gathering berries and herbs and is entitled Kokum, is expected to be completed in time for National Aboriginal Day in June.
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Alberta to continue to support Indigenous tourism industry Following a meeting of the Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers in Winnipeg in January, Alberta’s minister David Eggen said the province would continue to promote Indigenous tourism. “I applaud the federal government’s commitment to support continued growth of Indigenous tourism in Canada. Alberta is working closely with Indigenous communities to further develop its own tourism industry,” said Eggen in a statement. He noted that tourism was one way for the province to create jobs immediately while diversifying the economy over the long term. The most recent numbers from the Alberta Market Monitor indicate an increase in visitation, up more than 15 per cent in the national parks and more than six per cent at the historic sites and museums.
Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Society removes its artifacts The City of Lethbridge says maintaining a close relationship with First Nations in the operation of Fort Whoop-Up a priority. In a statement released by the city, Director of Community Services Bary Beck said, “Recognizing the importance of maintaining a close connection between our First Nations and Fort Whoop-Up, it would be our expectation that the successful proponent demonstrate the ability to maintain strong relationships with the Aboriginal community. This link is vital to the future success and growth of Fort Whoop-Up.” The Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Society, the fort’s current operator, was invited to submit a proposal to continue its work. However, in light of the call for a new operator, the society, which has important artifacts in the fort, removed those artifacts. Beck said if the society is not successful in maintaining the contract to operate the fort, “they would be welcomed and encouraged to work with the new operator to ensure their artifacts remain displayed at Fort WhoopUp.” The successful operator will be announced in early 2016.
WBF, NorQuest team up to offer academic readiness programming Women Building Futures has entered into a new partnership with NorQuest College to deliver a new academic readiness program. “This program is designed specifically to address the needs of Aboriginal women who are struggling to meet the academic entrance requirements for many of WBF’s pre-trades training programs,” said Corey Wells, WBF Aboriginal engagement advisor. Ultimately, the hope is these women will apply to a WBF program and begin a career in a trades apprenticeship. Regardless of the outcome, this new program will have an impact on the number of women who become registered apprentices in the years to
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come. Four academic readiness programs will be offered by WBF at NorQuest’s downtown Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre. The first course begins Feb. 29. WBF is providing the curriculum, instruction and ongoing support to the students in this program and NorQuest is referring students and AACCC clients to the program, as well as providing facility space and bus passes. The goal of the fourweek program is to provide women support, empowerment and educational upgrading to assist them with their future career goals in the trades industry. They will also write the trade entrance exam (Level B).
Food hamper numbers climb Tamisan Bencz-Knight, manager of strategic relationships and partnerships with the Edmonton Food Bank, anticipates her organization will feed 20,000 people in January. Just over one-third of people making use of the Edmonton Food Bank could be Aboriginal if self-identified figures from the May 2015 hamper count are anything to go by. Helping out food banks both in Edmonton and Calgary has been the Shaw family, with their generous commitment of $300,000 per year for each of 10 years to the Edmonton Food Bank and $600,000 per year for each of 10 years to the Calgary Food Bank. The money is to be used specifically for food purchases. The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton served 67,000 people this year, an increase of 3,000 from the previous Christmas season.
Indigenous artwork sought for new LRT location The City of Edmonton has put out the call to Canadian Indigenous artists for the Tawatin‚ Bridge public art competition. The Tawatin‚ Bridge – meaning “valley” in Cree – will span the North Saskatchewan River from a tunnel at the east end of Louise McKinney Park. The bridge replaces the existing Cloverdale footbridge. It will be one of 12 stops along the first stage of the new Valley line for the LRT. There are two potential site locations for Tawatin‚ Bridge public artwork, both of which provide a significant and highly visible public art installation opportunity. The Edmonton Arts Council Public Art Program, on behalf of the city, is seeking a Canadian Indigenous artist or artist team to do the work. Deadline for submissions is March 3, 2016. The work will be installed between August and September 2018. Edmonton Arts Council is also calling for submissions for artwork for the Churchill Station Connector and the Davis Ramp, both part of the new Valley line. Submission deadlines for this work is also March 3. Installation for these pieces will take place between August and November 2018.
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Women’s faces grace walls of multicultural centre This untitled photograph was taken by Eugene Uhuad and appears in the Clareview Multicultural Centre in north Edmonton. Uhuad spent nearly a year photographing community gatherings and the many people who participated at events at the centre. Each portrait is superimposed upon an intricate collage of images – soccer games, picnics, and celebrations. (Photo: Edmonton Arts Council)
Boyle Street Community Services announces big plans Boyle Street Community Centre plans to build a $60million facility with 24-hour access for the homeless, complete with housing and boutique hotel. The six-storey building will replace Boyle Street’s current facility and be located next door to the Ice District, which will include the new Edmonton Oilers arena. The building, designed by Manasc Isaac, is reflective of Aboriginal culture with its curvy, colourful design, said Julian Daly, Boyle Street executive director. About 75 per cent of Boyle Street’s clientele are Aboriginal. Boyle Street plans to raise funds for the project in 2016 and to build in 2018 or 2019. The housing will see four floors for the working poor and long-term homeless as well as market price housing on the upper floors to help make the building financially viable. While construction is underway, programming will be moved to a temporary facility.Piikani grad club sets sights on New York trip Students from the graduation class at Piikani High School are raising funds to go
on a trip to New York City. Originally, the class had hoped to go overseas, but with the uncertainty in world travel they changed their destination. The students have been doing bottle drives, catering and bingos, and have also started a GoFundMe campaign. The money will be used to pay for a chartered bus, hotel rooms, food and entertainment, which will include tickets to Broadway, and other tourist events. Their endeavour has caught the eye of Steve Cowley, who writes a blog entitled “A Cree in NYC.” Cowley is originally from Opaskawayak Cree Nation in Manitoba and has been living in New York for almost 25 years. Cowley has offered to tour the group in the city when they arrive in May.
Tsuut’ina people lose “true and loyal friend” Tsuut’ina First Nation Chief Roy Whitney offered his condolences to the family and friends of Ron Southern, a man who Whitney called “a true and loyal friend to Tsuut’ina people.” Southern passed away on Jan. 21. “This is … a day where I choose to reflect with fondness and respect on a man who built
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so many things, created deep life-long and personal friendships with the people he touched, and who did not just talk about respect for First Nations people – he demonstrated it,” said Whitney. Southern made Tsuut’ina a central part of the vision and execution of Spruce Meadows and supported the education for Tsuut’ina young people. In 2013
Southern was made an honourary member of the Tsuut’ina Nation, bestowed honourary Chieftainship and given the name ‘Sorrel Horse’. Premier Rachel Notley lauded Southern as a “great Alberta business leader and community giant.”
Significant amount of drugs Flames alumni support work in Calgary Native Earth Performing Arts seized from Standoff done at Sheldon Kennedy Child began its Canada tour of Cliff residence Advocacy Centre In mid-January, the Blood Tribe Police Service Crime Reduction Unit, with the assistance of BTPS Patrols, seized a significant amount of illicit drugs from a residence in Standoff on the Blood Indian Reserve. Investigation at the scene led to the arrest of Kyle Mitchell Saddleback, who was on release conditions for previous charges and had been served papers through a Blood Band Council Resolution not to be on the Blood Indian Reserve. Seized was 109 grams of suspected crack cocaine (with a local street value of $10,900) and 359 tablets of suspected fentanyl (local street value of $17,950). Saddleback, 29, was charged with possession for purpose of trafficking cocaine, possession for purpose of trafficking fentanyl, nine counts of breach of recognizance, and breach of Band Council Resolution.
Calgary Flames alumni, including Lanny McDonald, Al Coates, Jamie Macoun and Rick Skaggs, stopped at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre late January to support the work undertaken by another alumni. The groundbreaking not-for-profit centre, in Calgary, brings together more than 95 professionals from six partner organizations to offer wrap around services for children, youth and families. It blends investigation, treatment, prevention, education and research to help people through difficult times. The centre was renamed for Kennedy in 2013. Kennedy has devoted his posthockey career to child abuse prevention and education after he went public about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of one of his junior hockey coaches.
Huff kicks off nation-wide tour
Cardinal’s Huff with a stop at Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts Jan. 19-22. Cardinal won the 2015 RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwright prize and is considered one of the most exciting new voices in Canadian theatre. Huff is the wrenching, yet darkly comic, tale of Wind and his brothers, caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the death of their mother. Wind’s fantastic dream world bleeds into his haunting reality, as he’s preyed on by the Trickster through the hallways at school, the abandoned motel he loves more than home, and his own fragile psyche. Cardinal expertly portrays more than a dozen characters in his captivating solo performance. After Calgary and a stop at the Rubaboo Festival in Edmonton, the tour heads to another seven cities across the country.
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election. Funding was initially cut off in 2014 by the federal Conservative government due to in-fighting in the MN-S.
FSIN pushes meeting with premiers to discuss seized moose meat
Don Farber won over $1 million playing a progressive slot machine at the casino on Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
Dakota Dunes Casino creates millionaires Dakota Dunes Casino is responsible for creating two more millionaires in Saskatchewan. The “Smoke Signals Jackpot” was won twice in three weeks at the Dakota Dunes Casino on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. The most recent winner, Don Farber, from Porcupine Plains, arrived at the casino just 20 minutes before winning $1,048,973 by playing a progressive slot machine. Farber was presented with a cheque on Jan. 16. During the Christmas holidays, Ben Vuong, of Saskatoon, walked away with $1,166,462. Vuong collected his winnings on Dec. 30. Smoke Signals is the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority’s largest progressive jackpot. It
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links 52 slot machines and can be played at all six Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority casinos.
Crown will argue that Metis hunting rights are site-specific. The trial is to continue in June when historical experts are expected to take the stand.
Métis men face hunting, MN-S to go under third-party fishing charges Three Metis men from management Meadow Lake were in court mid-January, charged with hunting or fishing without a licence. They were separately charged in 2012, 2013 and 2014 as they were harvesting animals and fish at least 30 kilometres away from their home community. Defence lawyer Kathy Hodgson-Smith argued that all Metis in the province belong to one traditional homeland. More than 45 community witnesses spoke during seven days of the trial. Hodgson-Smith anticipates the
Metis Nation-Saskatchewan may soon get its funding back. The MN-S provincial Metis council has agreed to a thirdparty funding proposal by the federal government. The new agreement comes one month after Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said the Liberal government would reinstate the funding. Under the terms of the agreement, the third party, which has yet to be named, would be responsible for the administration and finances of the organization until the next
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Bobby Cameron is calling for a meeting with premiers of Manitoba and Saskatchewan over the right to hunt moose. Cameron said there is a need to discuss treaty territories and rights. On Dec. 15, Saskatchewan officers seized moose meat from two homes on Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba. The moose was hunted on Pine Creek’s traditional territory, which crosses the ManitobaSaskatchewan border. Pine Creek First Nation is covered by Treaty 4, which gives Indigenous people the right to hunt, trap and fish in their traditional territory. Treaty 4 territory covers parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, within which 35 First Nations are situated. The treaty also states that the right is subject to regulations made by the government. Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has also made a request for a meeting with premiers Brad Wall and Greg Selinger.
New solar power projects launched Bullfrog Power®, Canada’s leading green energy provider, and First Nations Power Authority, recently launched two projects that showcase solar technology specifically designed for Canada’s climate. The two latest projects are designed to offset power consumption for schools in the communities of Fond du Lac
and Hatchet Lake. These power generation projects are FNPA’s second and third Strategic Off Grid and Renewables projects. The SOAR project was initiated by FNPA to develop small-scale power projects to research emerging technologies— including solar photovoltaic. FNPA is partnering with a number of First Nations and private industry to develop new technologies for reliable energy sources that will improve business productivity and support community sustainability in remote areas. The first SOAR project is a solar photovoltaic demonstration project in Swift Current. “These renewable power generation systems are important to the First Nations communities as they work to lower their power bills, increase the reliability of the electrical grid in remote areas and reduce their environmental footprint,” said First Nations Power Authority CEO Leah Nelson Guay.
KCIF set at same rate as GST The Kahkewistahaw First Nation has implemented a community improvement fee. The KCIF is set at five per cent, the same rate as the GST, and will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency. The money raised will go toward local improvements. “It is our hope that the funds generated by our community improvement fee will bring much-needed benefits to our community and our members,” said Chief Louis Taypotat. The KCIF will operate on reserve following the same basic guidelines of the GST and the Harmonized Sales Tax and will apply to everyone except some outside governments. The First Nation began collecting the tax Dec. 11.
Compiled by Shari Narine
Dedicated NAPS officers to fight drug trafficking The Moose Cree First Nation and the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service have entered into a memorandum of understanding highlighting their joint commitment to fight drug trafficking. MCFN said it could wait no longer for the federal government to give more funding to First Nations policing and has gone ahead with funding for two NAPS officer positions for one year. The new positions will focus specifically on prevention, and investigating drug offences. NAPS will provide training and equipment. Chief Norm Hardisty Jr. said it was important that Moose Cree First Nation tackle drug trafficking in the community as quickly as possible.
Chippewas hope Supreme Court will hear case The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is asking the Supreme Court of Canada
for leave to appeal a lower court’s decision and allow the First Nation to take action against Enbridge Inc., the National Energy Board and the Attorney General of Canada over Line 9, which runs between Sarnia, Ont., and Montreal. At the heart of its legal case is a question over the duty of the Crown to consult and accommodate First Nations on concerns related to the potential effects of the pipeline on their Aboriginal and treaty rights. “The case has huge implications for First Nations across the country,” said Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Chief Leslee White-Eye. “The corporations running the pipeline shouldn’t be the ones fulfilling the constitutional obligations.” After the NEB approved Enbridge’s application, the First Nation appealed the board’s decision at the Federal Court of Appeal but it was dismissed in October.
Trent University to offer Indigenous B.Ed. Next fall, Trent University will offer an Indigenous bachelor of education degree program. The new program is partly in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report last summer that called on all†levels of government to change policies to repair problems caused by residential schools. The report also recommended that students be taught about the history and current plight of First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Cathy Bruce, interim dean of education at Trent University, says the school is still accepting applications and hopes to have 15 students, all who self-identify as Aboriginal, start the first year of the program in September. Some of the professors will be Aboriginal. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay offers a similar program that allows graduates to teach children up to Grade 6. Trent graduates will
be able to teach through high school.
Wabigoon able to participate The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has provided the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation with $45,000 to assist its participation in the environmental assessment of the Goliath Gold Project. The funding will enable participation in the upcoming steps of the environmental assessment, which include reviewing and providing comments on the environmental impact statement or on the summary, the draft environmental assessment report, and on potential environmental assessment conditions. Treasury Metals Inc. is proposing to construct, operate, decommission, and abandon an open-pit and underground gold mine and associated infrastructure. The proposed
mine, located 20 km east of the city of Dryden, will have an ore production capacity of 2,700 tonnes per day with an anticipated mine life of approximately 10 to 12 years.
First Indigenous dean of a Canadian law school appointed Angelique EagleWoman has been appointed dean of Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin faculty of law. She is the first Indigenous dean of a Canadian law school. The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada says Bora Laskin faculty of law’s actions, which also include the introduction of mandatory courses on Indigenous legal traditions and Canadian laws applied to Aboriginal peoples, demonstrate the school’s commitment to implement the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Compiled by Shari Narine
Manitoba Pipestone: Special Section providing news from Manitoba Province’s plan on education Mathias Colomb intent to by not working Omnitrax A 50-page report from Auditor General Norm Ricard says that despite years of effort, the provincial government still has not identified the barriers Aboriginal students face in finishing Grade 12. The high-school graduation gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in Manitoba has worsened, despite new government programs and spending. About 55 per cent of Indigenous students are completing high school compared with 96 per cent of non-Aboriginals, which is a slightly wider gap than in 2010, when 57 per cent of Aboriginal students were finishing high school. The report said while the government has aimed to improve Aboriginal education outcomes since 2004, its plan—including two grants to school divisions targeted specifically at helping Aboriginal students—has been vague and poorly thought out. The report contains 19 recommendations, most of which focus on clearly defining the responsibilities of school divisions and government departments that are involved in Aboriginal education. The government says it accepts the findings of the report and is working on improvements.
The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation is looking for federal and provincial support in its bid to buy the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill. Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and Denver-based Omnitrax announced in January they had entered into negotiations for the transfer of Omnitrax’s two properties. “The reality is, we all need to make an investment. We all need to ensure the success of this route,” said Mathias Colomb Cree Nation Chief Arlen Dumas. The rail line is the only land link to four communities in the region and Churchill is Canada’s only deep-water northern port. Omnitrax has faced difficulties in running the facilities. The rail line crosses hundreds of kilometres of bog and permafrost, and has been plagued by derailments and delays. The port relies heavily on grain shipments, which were down by more than 50 per cent last year from the normal 500,000 tonnes. Omnitrax has indicated it might discontinue the rail service if no buyer is found. Mathias Colomb and other First Nation communities in the north already run the Keewatin Railway Company, a shorter rail
line purchased in 2006 with more than $6 million from the federal and Manitoba governments.
Southern child care authority back under First Nation rule A new governing board of directors is now administering Southern First Nations Network of Care. The province lifted its order of administration on the southern authority on Jan. 12. The Southern First Nations Network of Care oversees one of the largest child welfare systems in Manitoba with 10 frontline agencies supporting 36 predominantly Ojibway and Dakota First Nations, with about 4,500 children in care. The authority has been under provincial control for more than three years, sparked by a dispute between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the organization over whether chiefs could sit on its board. No chiefs sit on the new board, but chiefs must approve the appointments. The province is also nearing agreements that will allow it to lift the administration order on the northern authority, which the province took over more than a year ago.
Services expanded for victims
The Manitoba government has committed funding to new services for victims of crime, including expanding programming at Ka Ni Kanichihk. Those new programs will see supports through Heart Medicine, a place specifically for Indigenous women who are victims of sexual violence, and Medicine Bear, a culturally-based healing program for Indigenous men and boys when a family member is missing or murdered. “This funding will support new and expanded initiatives for Indigenous people affected by violence,” said Ka Ni Kanichihk’s executive director Leslie Spillett. As well, additional funding for Sage House will allow the hiring of a new outreach street worker to increase supports based on Indigenous teachings for people exploited through sex work. An investment of $120,000 for new services will be provided with $90,000 coming from the Victims of Crime fund.
Kinew’s work among finalist for Taylor prize Wab Kinew is among five finalists for the 2016 RBC Taylor Prize. Kinew’s book, The Reason You Walk, published by
Viking Canada. “Brutally honest, original, funny, uncomfortable, and compelling, Wab Kinew’s memoir explores the personal reconciliation of a father and son and that of a country searching for healing and a way forward,” the jury selection committee has described the book. “When Wab Kinew’s father was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to reconnect and, in so doing, learned about his dad’s terrifying childhood at residential schools. The reader is transported into an extraordinary world of truth and reconciliation. As he explains: ‘during our time on earth, we ought to love one another, and that when our hearts are broken, we ought to work hard to make them whole again’.” The jury evaluated 120 books written by Canadian authors and submitted by 39 Canadian and international publishers. The RBC Taylor Prize recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates. All finalists will be supported with extensive publicity and promotional opportunities over the next two months.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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[ health ]
Put food in the social assistance budget By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
Aboriginal people are the poorest of the poor, Torontobased community organizer Mike Balkwill was told by Chief Shining Turtle of Whitefish River First Nation. The Ojibway community of 600 near Manitoulin Island was Balkwill’s first stop on his northeastern Ontario tour to meet with people living in poverty and with service providers. Balkwill is the organizer for a campaign called Put Food in the Budget, which was started in January 2009, a month after the provincial government announced a poverty reduction strategy. There was no corresponding increase in social assistance rates as part of the strategy. “We said, you gotta raise the rates, put food in the budget. So our campaign started.” “We’re trying to build an organization that gives voice to poor people,” said Balkwill. “There’s lots of non-profits that have some kind of program where they bring in people who are poor. They might talk about advocacy, but they don’t connect them to anything else. Local work is good, but reducing poverty really depends on increasing income and increasing affordable housing and local community can’t do that.” Put Food in the Budget is a way to connect groups across the province and to build a campaign strong enough to influence at the provincial level, he said. “The worst thing about poverty, Chief Shining Turtle told me, is how it affects the spirit. It takes away hope. The hopelessness that people feel, the perception is it won’t change, it’s not going to get any better.” Living in poverty is a traumatic experience; falling into poverty is a traumatic experience, said Balkwill. People in the north are surviving, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, because humans are programmed to survive and because of the goodwill and generosity of others. Front-line agencies and food banks do what they can by providing food, Christmas dinners. “But there are a lot of people who are not surviving and who are not thriving, and we are diminished as a society because of that.” In a large city like Toronto, he
Compiled by Shari Narine Suicide epidemic needs to be addressed Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler issued a call to action to the governments of Ontario and Canada to establish a special emergency task force to address the growing suicide epidemic across NAN First Nations. Several NAN First Nations were thrown into crisis this Christmas season following the suicides of a 10-year-old girl in Bearskin Lake First Nation, a 20-year-old woman in Fort Albany First Nation, and a 14-yearold girl in Neskantaga First Nation. NAN is looking for both the provincial and federal governments to commit resources for the development of crisis response teams to immediately begin to assist communities, as well as developing a long-term strategy for suicide prevention, including physical and mental health services, counselling and addiction treatment. NAN’s call to action followed the launch of The People’s Inquiry on Suicide by the Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon during the NAN Winter Chiefs in Assembly in Thunder Bay. The comprehensive report documents the ongoing suicide pandemic in the Mushkegowuk communities along the James Bay coast and identifies key solutions and recommendations.
Work on Indigenous health accord to include Aboriginal input
Map showing communities covered in Put Food in the BVudget northeastern Ontario tour
said, poor people have more options to supplement limited incomes – more food banks that can be visited with greater frequency than once a month, free meals, but poverty is still poverty no matter where you live, and “food banks are a BandAid solution, rather than a cure for hunger and poverty in Ontario.” Balkwill’s tour showed little evidence that Premier Kathleen Wynne is living up to her promise to be the social justice premier. There’s a big difference in the Ontario government’s official policy and their operating policy, said Balkwill. “The official policy is Wynne wants to reduce poverty. The operating policy is, let’s privatize Ontario Hydro, sell it to Bay Street and watch the heating costs and hydro costs go up which will hurt poor people. There’s lots of nickel and diming cuts that happen to people who are poor. Clawbacks, rising health costs, reductions in subsidies for housing. Those have to be made obvious so we can say, the government’s not acting in the public interest, but in the private interest. The government won’t act until they feel like they’re losing public support.” The poverty reduction strategy has become the strategy to make it look like you’re doing
something about poverty, said Balkwill. “They haven’t done anything around housing. Social assistance increases are lower than inflation. Inflation runs around two per cent a year. Social assistance increases have been around one per cent a year. Food inflation rates are higher, around three per cent to five per cent and now they’re going to be higher. Chief Shining Turtle of Whitefish River First Nation told Balkwill that after paying rent, hydro, telephone landline and $60 for a trip to town to buy groceries, a single person on social assistance has $3.67 per day for food and all other personal necessities. The band council subsidizes hydro costs in the winter, up to $50,000 a year, for the households receiving social assistance. If cauliflower is $8 in Toronto, like it was this week, said Balkwill, it’ll probably be $16 or more in the north. “We consistently hear from people of all political backgrounds that we’re a wealthy country, a wealthy society and people should have enough money to buy food and not depend on a food bank. We need to have a conversation about values. What kind of society are we? Are we a society where it’s okay for people to be poor and neglected?”
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Indigenous peoples will have a say in the planning of the national Health Accord renewal. The agreement was reached at a meeting between Indigenous leaders, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and provincial and territorial health ministers late January in Vancouver. Leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and ministers from the federal, provincial, territorial governments committed to developing a formal process within the broader Health Accord discussion inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit to better determine how provincial, territorial and federal governments can meet health needs in their respective health systems. “This marks an historic moment that must prompt transformative change. Our peoples require, deserve and demand stable, sustainable and culturally-appropriate access to health care no matter where they reside. We must all act now so that jurisdictional disputes no longer delay or deny care, as this only leads to deteriorating health or, tragically, death,” said Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, head of AFN’s health committee.
Study finds link between racial discrimination, prescription drug misuse A new University of Lethbridge study suggests an expanded focus is needed in the fight against prescription drug addiction within Aboriginal populations. The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, found that racial discrimination and subsequent post-traumatic stress symptoms might be key factors contributing to prescription drug problems among Aboriginal people. The study came out of data collected through in-person surveys with Aboriginal adults living in Edmonton in 2010. It found that each additional situation in which Aboriginal adults experienced racism in a one-year period – be it at work, in public spaces, or seeking health care – was associated with a halfpoint increase in prescription drug addiction score. The study also found that this relationship was explained by increased PTSD symptoms among those experiencing high levels of discrimination. Multiple studies have linked racial discrimination to poor mental health and addictions as people try to cope with these experiences, as well as stress-induced endocrine dysfunction, cardiovascular dysfunction and accelerated aging across various racial groups. “The idea that racism is stressful is not new,” said Dr. Cheryl Currie, AIHS Translational Chair in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and assistant professor in the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “The idea that racism may lead to symptoms of PTSD is more controversial. Yet, a growing body of research suggests individuals may respond to discrimination in ways that extend beyond their psychological control; in ways that are consistent with PTSD symptoms.”
FNHA leads way with chair position Jeff Reading, a leading national and international expert in Indigenous health, is the inaugural First Nations Health Authority chair in heart health and wellness at St. Paul’s Hospital. The $2.5 million chair, the first of its kind in Western Canada, will place a holistic focus on First Nations and Aboriginal peoples’ cardiac health to drive research that can improve health outcomes. As chair, Reading’s responsibilities include leading research to develop protective health promotion strategies that encompass cultural and spiritual considerations, understand risk factors related to the social determinants of health, and produce health knowledge for policies and programs. The chair position was codeveloped by FNHA, St. Paul’s Hospital and Simon Fraser University with shared funding to support the FNHA chair for 10 years. Reading is a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga First Nation in Ontario.
Sports Briefs By Sam Laskaris New BC Aboriginal Awards Aboriginal youth athletes in British Columbia now have a new achievement to strive for. The Aboriginal Sport Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council and the Province of B.C. have joined forces to establish a new awards program. A total of 12 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sports will be handed out annually, starting this year. There will be six female and six male recipients each year. Those under 25 are eligible for their awards. The program does not simply honour those with athletic achievements. Other factors that determine the winners include their leadership qualities and commitment to higher education. The selection committee will also take into consideration how much the award nominees serve as role models, both on and off the field of play. Besides being under 25, in order to be eligible for the Premier Awards, nominees must have Aboriginal ancestry (First Nation, Metis or Inuit), have lived in B.C. for at least the past 12 months and also be registered with a provincial sport organization or involved in a Partners Council program. Those selected as recipients for the inaugural awards will be honoured at a ceremony in Victoria, held in conjunction with the Gathering Our Voices Aboriginal Youth Conference set for March 21 thru March 24.
[ sports ]
Arctic Games split between Nuuk and Iqaluit
Nicholls Toiling For Wolf Pack Former junior hockey star Josh Nicholls continues to plug along in the minor leagues hoping he’ll eventually be called up to the National Hockey League. The 23-year-old Metis is in his third season of pro hockey. He’s currently a member of the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Nicholls, who is from Tsawwassen, B.C., had a stellar junior career with the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades. He spent five seasons with the Blades, from 2008 through 2013. He had a career high 87 points (34 goals, 53 assists) in 71 games during his third season in Saskatoon. And during his final year with the Blades he notched a career-high 47 goals and a total of 85 points in 71 contests. Nicholls concluded his junior career on a relatively high note, participating in the 2013 Memorial Cup with the host Blades. After posting a 1-2 round-robin mark, Saskatoon was eliminated from further play when it lost a tie-breaking contest to determine tournament semi-finalists. Though he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Nicholls did not sign with the organization. He eventually inked his first pro deal with the New York Rangers in 2013. Since then he has spent time with Rangers’ affiliated teams in the AHL and East Coast Hockey League. This season Nicholls has bounced around between the Wolf Pack and the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits, a club based in South Carolina. He had registered 21 points, including 10 goals, in 29 games with the Swamp Rabbits. And he had earned three points (one goal, two assists) during his first 11 games in a Hartford uniform.
Mississauga Hosts Tournaments The city of Mississauga, located just west of Toronto, is gearing up to host two prestigious Aboriginal hockey tournaments. For starters the Little Native Hockey League tournament, which is more commonly called The Little NHL, will be staged March 14 to March 17. And then the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) will be held from May 2 to May 7. The Little NHL tournament, which includes girls’ and boys’ teams from across the province, will feature 15 divisions this year, ranging from Tyke through to Midget. This year marks the 45th running of the tournament. And it will be the fourth consecutive year that the event will be staged in Mississauga. A record 178 clubs participated at last year’s event. During its early years the tournament was primarily held in various northern Ontario communities. But since the event has expanded greatly, a location with numerous arenas and nearby hotels is now required to host the tourney. Four different facilities will be utilized for matches this season, including the Hershey Centre, which is the home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads. As for the NAHC, it is an event featuring provincial or regional bantam and midget-aged female and male players. The tournament has been staged annually since 2001. But this marks the first time it will be held in Mississauga. Matches will be staged at Iceland, a facility that features four ice pads, including an Olympic-sized rink that has a seating capacity of about 1,200. Sixteen teams (eight female and eight male) participated at the 2015 NAHC, which was held in Halifax. Saskatchewan captured the gold medal in both the girls’ and boys’ divisions.
PHOTO BY ASHLEY NICOLE TAYLOR
Arctic Winter Games in 2014, Nunavut-vs-Yukon/Hockey By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
The capital city of Nunavut is gearing up to host a portion of this year’s Arctic Winter Games. The majority of the Games, which run from March 6 to March 11, will be staged in Nuuk, Greenland. But since there are no suitable rinks to stage the hockey competition in Greenland, Games’ organizers opted to move the hockey portion of the event to Iqaluit, Nunavut’s largest city. Iqaluit is slightly more than 800 kilometres away from Nuuk. This isn’t the first time, however, that the Games, which have been running every two years since 1970, have been held in two different countries. “In 2002 Nuuk and Iqaluit cohosted all of the events,” said Dawn Currie, the host coordinator for this year’s hockey tournament. The Arctic Winter Games feature athletes from the circumpolar north. Representatives from nine contingents take part in the Games. Five of those contingents are from Canada. Besides Nunavut, teams taking part are from northern Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavik (northern Quebec). Greenland and Alaska will also be represented. And there will also be a Russian team called Yamal and a side called Sapmi, featuring athletes from Finland, Norway, Sweden and parts of Russia. In order to compete in the Games, athletes need to simply live in one of the areas of the participant squads. Currie though estimates that at least 75 per cent of the Games’ participants will be Aboriginal.
Currie anticipates between 9095 per cent of the Nunavut hockey players will be Inuit. And she is also anticipating a rather large percentage of the northern Alberta players will be Aboriginal. About 2,000 athletes took part in the last Games, held in 2014 in Fairbanks, Alaska. This year’s Iqaluit-based hockey tournament will feature a junior girls’ category for those born in 1997 or later, as well as a bantam boys’ grouping, for those born in 2001 or later. Both divisions will feature five entrants each. The participating squads in both divisions will be from Nunavut, Alaska, northern Alberta, Northwest Territories and Yukon. Currie said overseas competitors do not traditionally send ice hockey squads to the Games. “They bring much smaller teams,” she said. “They tend to focus on some of the individual sports. So they never participate in hockey at these Games.” Though the hockey segment of the Games will be in Canada, participants will not miss out on some of the associated festivities. Competing hockey players will drop off their equipment in Iqaluit before flying to Greenland to be a part of the Games’ opening ceremonies. They will then return to Iqaluit to play their games. And then they will then fly back to Greenland in order to enjoy the Games’ closing ceremonies. About 200 volunteers will be required to ensure the hockey tournament runs smoothly. “They’re all working together to host this event,” Currie said. Since it has been 14 years since Iqaluit co-hosted the Games, organizers have been forced to establish a new list of those willing to lend a hand.
“We’re looking at building a new set of volunteers,” Currie said. Though only one sport will be contested in Iqaluit this time around, Currie said having the hockey tournament in the northern Canadian city is indeed a huge deal. “We don’t get a chance to host many events like this,” she said. As a result, a bit of a buzz is being created in the city prior to the Games’ arrival. “It also brings enthusiasm and builds pride in the community,” Currie said. This year’s Games is also being utilized as somewhat of a trial run. That’s because Iqaluit has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 Games. Local organizers are eager to prove they can do a splendid job with the hockey portion as part of a reassurance they can also host the Games on a much larger scale in the future. A total of 15 sports will be contested at this year’s Games. Besides hockey, some of the other traditional sports include snowboarding, alpine skiing and cross-country skiing. Indoor sports like badminton, basketball and volleyball are also included. Participants will also take part in Arctic Sports and Dene Games. Arctic Sports features events such as the one- and twofoot high kick, as well as the kneel jump. Dene Games include events such as the finger pull and pole push. Currie said the Games will be the athletic highlight for many. “The Arctic Winter Games is the pinnacle of sport for many for these northern athletes,” she said. Some participants do go on to compete at elite national and international competitions. “Those people are few and far between,” she said.
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[ education ]
Feds frustrate Indigenous language revitalization By Andrea Smith
Indigenous languages in Canada are dying. Of the 60 languages that exist across the country, nearly all were declared endangered—some of them critically—well over a decade ago by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, and most still maintain that status. Census data from 2011 also show a decline in the numbers of fluent speakers of the majority of languages, and show an even greater decline in the numbers of people speaking an Aboriginal language as their first language. So where has Canada gone wrong? According to Linda Cree, a language consultant for the Assembly of First Nations, lack of funding has been the major obstacle, and though the AFN has been petitioning the federal government since as far back as the 1980s, they’ve experienced serious setbacks along the way. “As is often the reason used by most federal departments dealing with Indigenous programs and services, they ‘lost’ reports repeatedly by regions,” Cree said in an email to Windspeaker. “This became a convenient excuse to disengage with the AFN… but we fought them and resubmitted all their lost reports and won most of what was owing,” she said. Cree also forwarded documents which show that Canadian Heritage—a branch of the federal government responsible for funding arts and cultural projects—withheld the
over $1 million from the AFN on the grounds of missing documentation, for the years between 2005 and 2009. The AFN was also “removed” from participating in any languages and culture activities by Canadian Heritage, with Canadian Heritage telling the AFN each region in Canada wanted to deal with CH directly, rather than go through the AFN as a third-party manager, she said. Most of the reports submitted, both to the U.N. and to the Government of Canada, specifically address the unequal distribution of funding for language programs in the country—the emphasis from the government being most often upon bilingualism with French and English-immersion programs, rather than programs for Indigenous populations wanting to speak Indigenous languages. In one report to the United Nations, the AFN targeted a specific policy—The Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality: Acting for the Future— calling it “discriminatory, assimilative… and the causal factor in the destruction of all Indigenous languages, cultures and histories” because of its likeness to colonial sentiment. But despite setbacks, Cree said the AFN is committed to working for and advocating on behalf of Indigenous languages, and the AFN does make note of many smaller successes on their website, including the increase in children ages five to 14 who speak an Indigenous language from 2006-2011 (taken from
the 2011 Canadian Census), and the fact that four provinces and territories have either recognized the importance of Indigenous languages, or declared them official, under provincial legislation. But probably the most astonishing success to date, not recorded on the AFN website, but found on UNESCO’s Atlas of World Languages in Danger, is the success of the HuronWyandot language. HuronWyandot is spoken in the community of Wendake, Que., and was once considered completely extinct, but has since found its way back into the hearts and minds of the people there. John Steckley, a retired professor from Humber College in Toronto, is one of the people who was moved to learn the language. Though he is a scholar and not a community member, he has been working on the language since 1974, and is the most fluent speaker alive today. But he attributes the success of the revitalization to the grassroots efforts of the people of Wendake. “The community felt the need, because they called me. In the early 1990s, I was asked to do workshops. And there was a major project that brought together people from different communities, brought linguists together and brought different cultural aspects together... It was very powerful,” he said. The major issue that resulted in the loss of the language in the first place, said Steckley, was the isolation of the community members, and the lack of
younger members who were picking up the language as older generations died off—not unlike what has happened with many other Indigenous communities. “In the Wendake community, they are just outside a major city. They have a community of about 1,000, but were long cut off from other groups who ended up in Michigan, Kansas, and Oklahoma... “So the oppression that happened on all the languages was particularly potent when you have one community of speakers… And the last speaker there probably died in the early 20th century,” he said. And surprisingly, while colonization was wiping out the language, Jesuit missionaries were also creating elaborate dictionaries of the language, said Steckley, which has been the key piece for study of the language today. “I like what I hear people say… It’s that the language was sleeping and we are waking it up,” he said. There are also two other languages on UNESCO’s map which were declared extinct, but did not make a comeback. Tsetsaut was spoken on the Northwest coast of B.C. near the town of Stewart, while Pentlatch was spoken on Vancouver Island around Courtenay, B.C. Missing from the site, however, is any information on the Ski:xs language, which Margaret Anderson, a retired professor from the University of Northern British Columbia, says is also nearly extinct. Anderson’s language of choice
is Sm’algyax—from the Tsimshian family—and while she tends to a website called Sm’algyax Living Legacy Talking Dictionary, she is aware of the demise of the Ski:xs language. Ski:xs, too, is from the Tsimshian family, but has no fluent speakers left and only a few beginners in the language now picking it up through recorded material, she said. “The last speaker of Ski:xs died last year, in her late 90s, and still living on her own… But she worked with a young linguist who did hours and hours of recordings. And she had worked with another linguist in the 1960s. who recorded a number of CDs… because he was trying to do a dictionary like ours,” said Anderson. As for Sm’algyax, there are a little over 100 fluent speakers left, and they’ve been using material recorded in the 1930s and 1940s to revive it, said Anderson. She will be updating her website soon and is working on a project with Simon Fraser University to “double” the documentation that currently exists on Sm’algyax. For Anderson, language revival is about more than just language. “It’s beyond vocabulary,” said Anderson. “It’s an issue of words that describe the world around us. In Sm’algyax there’s a whole set of words that are prefixes that explain how people move… out from shore, towards the shore, along the shore, up from the shore or down. It’s more than a simple word like walk or runÖ You get an extra richness in talking about movement on the land,” she said.
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[ careers & training ]
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Allen Sapp Cree artist captured prairie life By Dianne Meili
Allen Sapp’s paintings depict hardworking men in moccasins through the seasons, while his women wear head scarves and fry choke cherries or boil potatoes over open fires. Even the most urbane of prairie people cannot fail to feel a pang of nostalgia looking at them. The man who once painted mountains and wild animals he’d never seen – thinking the subject matter would earn him sales from white people – was redirected to depict †what he knew by a savvy doctor who saw his potential. Dr. Gonor could just have easily said “no thank you” to Sapp when the artist made a cold call at his North Battleford Medical Clinic in 1966. Instead, he bought a painting and gave him money to buy more art supplies, encouraging him to capture the story of his people. “That’s all Allen needed to hear,” said his adopted daughter Faye Delorme, of Whitehorse, Yukon. †“Allen had grown up drawing pictures of his grandmother, the most important person in his life. He was a sickly child and he didn’t go out and play with other kids – he always said he didn’t have a lot of friends.” Sapp would often tell his young daughter that he most often drew his grandmother while she was asleep because he always saw her working so hard when she was awake, Delorme explained. As the local medicine woman on the Red Pheasant Reserve, Maggie Soonias was on call to deliver babies and administer herbs to people suffering with illness. Sapp wanted to share with the world how kind and giving she was – and to depict how close his people were to the land and the essence of traditional values taught to him by his grandparents. With Dr. Gonor’s offer to buy anything he painted, Sapp went to work in oils, producing as many as two pictures a night, according to an article in the Globe and Mail. He arranged to have Wynona Mulcaster mentor Sapp, and she hosted his first
exhibition in her yard in September 1968. “Allen Sapp’s paintings tell a story of a people, who despite all obstacles, persevered,” said Leah Garven, curator of the Allen Sapp Gallery in North Battleford. “They depict life in the 1930s and 40s when people were very poor, especially on the reserve, but also throughout Saskatchewan, and because of this his work has had broad appeal. People can relate to this honest and simple time. They remember the stories from their own families, and have a deep heart-felt connection to his work.” Born in 1928, Sapp was raised by his maternal grandparents since his mother was sick with tuberculosis during his childhood on Red Pheasant Reserve. His mother died in 1942. Earlier, at the age of 12, he’d attended Onion Lake residential school where he learned to paint with watercolours, though he missed out on learning to read and write. Sapp contracted spinal meningitis when he was 14 and was unable to help his grandparents manage their cattle ranch of more than 200 head. His grandmother encouraged him to draw. He drew boys playing hockey on the slough behind his house and domestic scenes of his grandmother working. In 1955 he married Margaret Paskemin Whitford of Little Pine Reserve. Their son David was born in 1957, but sadly, would die as a young man of about 20. Further loss came when Sapp’s grandparents died. The couple moved to North Battleford, where Sapp worked in a craft store part-time by day, and painted at night. By 1970, Sapp was concurrently showing art in London’s Alwin Gallery and in Los Angeles, one of Canada’s first Aboriginal artists to gain international attention. The Allen Sapp Gallery opened in 1989 in North Battleford, populated with 80
paintings donated by Ruth Gonor from her late husband’s collection. Dr. Gonor died in 1985. His wife passed away in 2015. By 1990, Sapp had fallen in love with Margaret Berryman, the woman who lived beside the Delormes with her elderly mother. After divorcing his first wife, he and Margaret married, travelling from one gallery event to another. The two were matched in temperament, said Delorme. “They were both the kindest people you could meet. Allen would open his wallet to anyone who knocked on his door and said they were having tough times. And if anyone said they were hungry, Margaret would be in the kitchen cooking them up a quick meal,” she added. According to Garven,
whenever Sapp visited the gallery, he went to work immediately. “He took it as his responsibility to ensure visitors, especially children, had the chance to learn about Cree culture, not only through his art, but through song and dance. He wanted the children to know where he came from, and he wanted to share the richness of his culture – the nurturing and love taught to him by his grandmother. “It was only 18 months ago that Allen saw a group of Grade 5 students, and from a distance he called them to come and sit down. He sang for them. It was a beautiful time. They were in awe that they got to meet the man himself. “Our gallery staff, past and present, were dedicated to this
man.” Sapp embraced the Christian values of his grandmother, as well as Cree ceremonial ways. “He would paint from memory and whenever he would paint something ceremonial, he would tell me he wasn’t supposed to paint it – like the sundance or raindance,” said Delorme. “But he missed ceremony so much when he got older that he would paint ‘religion’ as he called it, and then he’d sit there and stare at it.” Sapp was awarded the Order of Canada in 1987. His travelling art exhibition “Through the Eyes of the Cree – the Art of Allen Sapp: A story of a people” toured 14 venues from Vancouver to Ottawa in 2003, and was seen by 250,000 Canadians.
Every single Windspeaker article ever published (well, almost) is now available on our online archives at www.ammsa.com The archives are free to search and read. P a g e [ 26 ]
[ entertainment ]
Indigenous-themed going-home story touring Canada
PHOTO: SAMANTA KATZ
Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company Dancers in Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation. By Nigel Irwin Windspeaker Contributor
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is currently touring Going Home Star, a brand new production that finds its subject matter in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This intriguing blend of European art form and Aboriginal narrative is the first of its kind for the ballet world. For many years, the late Elder Mary
Richard, as a board member for the RWB, prodded Artistic Director Andre Lewis for an original Indigenous-themed ballet. The company had, in the past, performed their interpretation of George Ryga’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, but the desire was to create something new. As the 75th anniversary of the company loomed ahead, once again the suggestion was made— this time from Cree board
member Tina Keeper, known for her role on North of 60 and for her political activism. With the Truth and Reconciliation proceedings in everyone’s minds, the idea was quickly tapped into that this new ballet would deal with the trauma and healing in our community. Having explored psychological terrains before in his ballet Svengali, Mark Godden was recruited to choreograph the new piece. What’s truly unique is that Going Home Star boasts a brand new score from composer Christos Hatzis, who utilized the throat-singing virtuosity of Tanya Tagaq and the textured speaking voice of Northern Cree singer Steve Wood. It wasn’t lost on Mark Godden that using ballet, a traditionally white, European dance to express First Nations’ voices and stories was ironic to say the least. “The bridge between these two cultures had to be the music,” says Godden. “The music allows you to go to some very dark and intimate places. There’s a beautiful saying from Flannery O’Conner, ‘The South is not necessarily Christ-centered, but they are Christ-haunted’. We talked about how this is a haunting. That is what Christos is trying to tap into.” The story follows an urban Native girl named Annie, who owns a hair salon and is as viable and strong-willed as they come. Yet her life feels unfulfilled until she meets a homeless man named Gordon who is a residential school survivor. Gordon imparts
her with the past by eliciting visions of Niska and Charlie, two children under the abusive authority of clergymen. This is history she does not know and though it’s a great burden to hold, Annie finds the will to help Gordon along and together they seek strength and healing for the future. These themes have been thoroughly explored before in the works of Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden, who provides the narrative through line for Going Home Star. Annie and Gordon first appeared in Boyden’s Giller Prize winning novel Through Black Spruce, but are reinterpreted as lost souls in the ballet. Boyden re-imagines Niska from his novel Three Day Road and utilizes Charlie as a new character. Together these four represent the directions of the medicine wheel. There are also two Elder spirits who watch over the four characters and provide the inspiration for the ballet’s title. “I call them star children. Pretty early on I wanted it to be a ‘going-home story’. The Polaris star is known in some First Nation’s communities as the going home star. If you keep the star over your shoulder as a reference point then you’ll always be able to find your way home. I absolutely love that idea, says Godden. It was important to Tina Keeper and company that the ballet was created in an authentic and respectful way. During
rehearsals the company observed smudging ceremonies, spoke with Elders and community members and collectively participated in a four- hour sweat lodge ceremony, which was a personal challenge for the claustrophobic Godden, who spoke about the unifying experience. “To move forward we can’t just think about ourselves and the story and how we want to hold it. This story relates to very real individuals. This affected all the dancers. Onstage you see a sense of authenticity and sincerity from them that is really different from what they are used to performing. So I think that radiated out to many people in the audience.” In Winnipeg, Godden said audience members were moved to tears and it serves to mention at each performance there will be an Elder Corner in the lobby, as well as on-site counselors. This demonstrates once again how considerate and genuine the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s efforts are. “The path of vengeance and the path of feathers start and end together. On the path of vengeance I departed, on the path of feathers I arrived,” Godden recites a Haida peace poem. “To me, this speaks of reconciliation. It’s about where you start and where you end. That’s the feeling of the ballet.” Going Home Star will be touring from sea to shining sea well into the spring with dates being advertised on the Royal Winnipeg’s website.
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