Volume 33 No. 10 • January 2016
Indigenous peoples feel climate changes first Page 7
Review of child welfare a wasted opportunity, says leadership Page 8
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Feed the People Christmas Lunch The mental health and residential schools healing programs of the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council hosted the Feed the People Christmas Lunch on Dec. 10 at Trinity Church in Port Alberni. It was the fifth year a lunch for inner city and urban Native people was held in honour of late Ray Seitcher, hereditary chief of the Tla-o-qui-aht people, who dedicated his life to helping people. Servers had hundreds to feed in a short time.
Photo: Sheila Seitcher
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Leaders are liking what they’ve been hearing from Liberals 6 The Speech from the Throne on Dec. 4 was short on pages and details, but for Indigenous people it underscored the promises made during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election campaign.
Indigenous peoples feel climate changes first 7 Canada’s Indigenous people had strong representation at the Paris climate change conference where 195 countries came together to negotiate a practical plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions to slow down climate warming.
Homicide is a complex issue to tackle
Mining company given OK to release more tailings water from Mount Polley mine
First Nations people who are still feeling the impacts of a catastrophic tailings dam breach are speaking out against a permit that will see more mine effluents released into a nearby lake. The B.C. government granted Imperial Metals the two-year discharge permit for the Mount Polley mine northeast of Williams Lake in order to avoid overflow from an open storage pit.
2016 shaping up as a good year for women in arts 11 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 [ book reviewss ] 4 & 12 [ rants and raves ] 6 [ windspeaker briefs ] 9 [ provincial news ] 13 - 21 [ alberta sweetgrass ] 14 - 18 [ health ] 22 [ sports ] 23 [ education ] 24 & 25 [ footprints ] Gil Cardinal 26 “Today, it’s important to look Indian, to be Metis.” With these words, Gil Cardinal narrates how he feels about meeting a blood relative for the first time in his autobiographical documentary Foster Child. The 1987 internationally-acclaimed selfportrait records his heartrending journey to find his Aboriginal roots and birth family.
The advertising deadline for the February 2016 issue of Windspeaker is January 21, 2016. Call toll free at: 1-800-661-5469 for more information.
The statistics are sobering. But not surprising. The RCMP recorded homicide rates for the first time in 2014 as they pertained to Aboriginal people. Nationally, 23 per cent of the 516 murder victims were Aboriginal, while one-third of those accused of murder were Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people account for only five per cent of the Canadian population.
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Windspeaker is published by the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) Canada's largest publisher of Aboriginal news and information. AMMSA's other publications include:
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.
Saskatchewan Sage — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Saskatchewan Raven's Eye — The Aboriginal Newspaper of British Columbia Ontario Birchbark — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Ontario
Child welfare review falls short Talk about a lead balloon. A government review of child welfare in British Columbia dropped out of the sky, landing with a thud when it attacked the one person in the province that works steadfastly to stand tall and talk truth to power about the systemic problems in the Ministry of Child and Family Development—the Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. If there was any good to be learned from the review, penned by former MCFD deputy minister Bob Plecas, it was poisoned and corrupted publicly by lack of consultation with First Nations people and is buried now in mistrust. Plecas review was done without input from Aboriginal leadership, despite Aboriginal children making up more than 60 per cent of kids in care. That tells us a lot about this provincial government, which keeps putting the cart before the horse on First Nations concerns, over and over and over again. This old-world, cynical style of conservative governing is perceived in stark contrast to the open, inclusive style of the new Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Add to that the misrepresentation of the job of Edward John, a top ranking First Nations official appointed as a special advisor on child welfare concerns, and Plecas review is as a stick that pokes at the hornets’ nest. Plecas job was to review the department following a B.C. Supreme Court decision that found the province’s child protection services abused its authority in the case of a toddler who was molested by his father while the child was in ministry care. Another report at the time shone a white hot spotlight on the department when a teenage boy living in a hotel in government care was found dead. The Representative for Children and Youth found in that case that B.C.s child protection unit is in crisis, and it’s not the first stinging rebuke of MCFD services from TurpelLafond. While the public expects MCFD’s feet to be held to the fire over such tragic events, it seems it’s been getting a little too warm to bear for the ministry itself. In the preface to Plecas Review, Part One: Decision Time the author says he focused on a number of key reports, including the Gove report, the Hughes report and the 29 reports issued by the Representative, all authored by lawyers and judges. “My grandfather used to say, if your watch is broken you have two choices: take it to a lawyer if you want to sue the watch company, or take it to a jeweler if you want to get it back running on time.” He’s the jeweler who fixes “complicated government organizations,” he says. His style is condescending and glib, and reeks of an old man’s ‘I told you so’ arrogance. Plecas reminds us dummies that many reports make recommendations and expect government to find the money to implement them, but he’s smarter than the average bear.
“I can attest that there is no printing press for dollars hidden in the basement.” (At least, not for children at risk. Other government priorities seem to be funded just fine.) “So, choices must be made,” and we couldn’t agree more. He makes it clear in the report that despite every best effort by government care workers, children will still be abused and die; a kind of collateral damage of the imperfect modern reality. And there is not a darned thing anyone can do to stop that from happening, he says. He told us all this, of course, 18 years ago when he was brought back to MCFD under Premier Glen Clark to implement the recommendations in the Gove Report and build a new Ministry for Children, and it’s still true today, he said. He tells us that government is the fourth level of protection of children, but it’s not the first three—parents, grandparents and extended family, and community—that bears the burden of the failure if a child is injured or dies. “If a tragedy occurs, front line child protection decision makers are the ones whose “heads must roll… But I am convinced that we are not well served by a system where fear constantly underlies every worker’s day—a fear bred by what I would describe as a culture of relentless accusation.” Plecas says “there seems to be a great appetite for piling on and blaming both individual workers and the system at large for perceived and real failings.” And this culture of blame cannot be seen in other areas of the public service. Plecas seems more an apologist for a system that he’s helped create, than an arm’s length reviewer of the functionality of the service, and he finds fault with the “uncompromising” and “insistent” demands of the Representative, finding the “sheer volume” and “constant nature” of her recommendations “overwhelming.” He tells us they have become “part of the bigger management problem.” Plecas view is that now “real change” at MCFD is underway, he says the ministry itself can take on the role of oversight, self-policing and reviewing its own efforts. Well, if his review is such a result, we say ‘no way’. The First Nations Leadership Council has said ‘not a chance’, as well. The Plecas Review gets a failing grade, right there. Plecas calls also for in infusion of money— $50 million, in fact—but half as much as the Representative has called for, and many times less that what has been taken from the system over the past two terms of the Liberal (read conservative) ruling government. What a waste of time and energy. And as the FNLC notes, a wasted opportunity as well. Windspeaker
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Page 5 Chatter
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Dec. 16 meeting of Indigenous leaders, the Prime Minister and seven federal Cabinet ministers, was productive. The meeting was held to determine a path forward to renew the relationship with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, the day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to†develop a national engagement strategy leading to a National Reconciliation Framework informed by the Calls to Action in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was clear that working nation-to-nation means that First Nations, the Metis Nation and Inuit peoples each need their own approach with the federal Crown, said Bellegarde. “We are distinct peoples with our own unique rights, approaches and priorities. We will stand with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in calling for action and engagement, but the ongoing relationship must be bilateral, not multilateral.”
The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) announced Dec. 3 that they have started a process for a vote on a proposed Agreementin-Principle (AIP) to be held between Feb. 29 and March 7, 2016. The AIP is the result of negotiations between the AOO and the governments of Canada and Ontario. If ratified, it will represent a significant step towards reaching a modern-day treaty that would be protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. “If wisely managed, the benefits of a treaty based on the elements proposed in the AIP will bring certainty to Algonquins of Ontario Aboriginal rights and will assure the AOO an enduring place in the social, political and cultural fabric of Ontario and Canada,” said Robert Potts, principal negotiator and Senior Legal Counsel for the AOO. On Dec. 13, 2012, the first step of negotiations was taken with the release of a Preliminary Draft Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) for public review. Following that release, the parties engaged in extensive consultation efforts in order to garner feedback from Algonquin voters, stakeholder groups, elected officials and the general public, reads a press statement. “The choice is now in the hands of Algonquin voters,” said Kirby Whiteduck, chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and one of 16 Algonquin negotiators with the Algonquins of Ontario.
The accused killer of 15-year-old teenager Tina Fontaine led a life of crime, according to parole board documents. Raymond Cormier, 53, was arrested in early December and is charged with second-degree murder. He had been living in Vancouver. The body of Fontaine was discovered in the Red River in Winnipeg in August 2014, her remains wrapped in a bag. Fontaine had been missing from foster care, running away from the hotel she was placed in by Child and Family Services. Her body was found 10 days after. Police picked her up two days before it is believed she was killed. Cormier is said to have a “significant and violent criminal history” with 80 convictions, 17 for violent offences.
The Ahousaht First Nation, whose members were first to respond to a whale-watching tour boat accident, saving 21 and recovering five of six other passengers’ bodies, will be getting a new skate park, thanks to fund-raising efforts by a longboard design and production company called Landyachtz, which has reached its goal of $20,000. The campaign received a boost after survivor Dwayne Mazeereuw read about the effort. He and his wife wanted to find a way to give back to his rescuers after being plucked from the waters by an Ahousaht fishing crew. He just happens to be a skate park designer. The project is expected to get underway in Spring.
The B.C. Government has committed $3 million to improve public transit along the Highway of Tears. The funding comes following a meeting with Transportation officials and First Nations leaders. A number of women have gone missing or been murdered while hitchhiking Highway 16, between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The new transportation safety program includes $1.6 million over two years to extend or enhance B.C. Transit services, cost-shared with local communities; $750,000 over three years to purchase and operate vehicles, also cost-shared with local communities; $150,000 over three years for a First Nations driver education program for community vans; $500,000 over two years for highway infrastructure safety improvements, including webcams and transit shelters; and better coordination of existing services and schedules to expand user eligibility.
A letter sent to Quebec’s minister of Public Safety asked the province to allow two First Nations police officers to be included in the investigation of the abuse of Native women by police in Val d’Or, Que. Montreal police are investigating allegations of physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous women by eight members of the Surete du Quebec. Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador Chief Ghislain Picard proposed that First Nations officers join the investigation at a meeting with the acting Minister of Public Safety Pierre Moreau and Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley on Nov. 23. “Our chiefs are convinced that the professionalism and familiarity with the setting of our First Nation officers can greatly benefit, on the one hand, the conduct of the inquiry, and on the other hand, the confidence of our populations in the impartiality of this inquiry,” states the letter dated Dec. 9, reported by APTN.
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TRC work is done, and now Canada’s work begins By Suzanne Keeptwo Windspeaker Contributor
Twelve-year-old traditional singer, Theland Kicknosawy (Odawa/Potawatomi), led the procession into the room where the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission awaited to present their final report in Ottawa yesterday. Chairman Justice Murray Sinclair (Ojibway), opened the event encouraging the young First Nation boy to walk tall and continue to sing his Honor Song. Sinclair acknowledged Kicknosawy as an example of “what could have always been.” Then, indicated the two empty chairs beside him to symbolize the boys and girls who did not survive Indian residential schools. It was an emotional gathering, but one that came with a sigh of relief. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has finished its mandate. †“We are not the same people as when we started, and neither is this country,” said Sinclair. He spoke of the actions and commitments to be taken, marking the “threshold of a new era in a period of change” that must be sustained by the people from all sectors, the partners, the politicians, and individuals, who are now aware of the detrimental policies to assimilate, acculturate, indoctrinate, and destroy Indigenous identities. “Change will take years, perhaps generations, but we cannot be daunted by the task because our goal is a just one, and we owe it to our children,” he said. Fellow commissioner, Chief
PHOTOS: SUZANNE KEEPTWO
TRC commissioners are pictured with members of the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee Wilton Littlechild (Cree) continued by sharing the Principles of Reconciliation before the large crowd of families of survivors, local Aboriginal community members, allies, †members of Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and federal, provincial and territorial Cabinet members. The principles include the right to Indigenous languages, spiritual expression, traditional laws and protocols, and to the treaties. “Reconciliation is a national responsibility. We must all serve as the champions for the changes we are calling for.” Commissioner Dr. Marie Wilson, reminded all that it was the “survivors who fought for Truth and Reconciliation; they provoked this national dialogue that is beginning to transform our country.”
The report contains six volumes covering the history (pre-confederation roots) of assimilation policies, the Inuit and MÈtis experience, the deaths and missing records, the intergenerational impact of residential schools and the need for a concrete measure of the damages done. Eugene Arcand (Cree), member of the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee, reminded the crowd that “media often refers to the TRC report’s recommendations, but these are calls to action. Canada has been awakened. This is your rite to passage.” When Prime Minister Trudeau addressed the crowd, he reminisced about his own privileged school days in comparison to the education residential school survivors received, and remembered when
Theland Kicknosway and Colleen Cardinal his history teacher dismissed Aboriginal content as “not important”. He then made an open promise that “this is an integral part of Canadian history. I give you my word that we will renew and respect the relationship between
Canada and Indigenous peoples. The burden is now ours as a government and country.” He finished by stating the final report “sets us squarely on the path to true reconciliation and I enter that relationship in partnership and friendship.”
Leaders are liking what they’ve been hearing from Liberals By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
OTTAWA The Speech from the Throne on Dec. 4 was short on pages and details, but for Indigenous people it underscored the promises made during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election campaign. Trudeau reiterated his commitment to “undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.” He renewed that pledge four days later when he addressed the Special Chiefs Assembly for the Assembly of First Nations. He said it is a priority he has made clear to his MPs. “This is a responsibility I take seriously and I have instructed my entire government to do the same. In the mandate letters given to my Cabinet ministers, my expectations were clear. I told them that no relationship is more important to me and to Canada
Dwight Dorey, national chief for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples than the one with First Nations, Metis Nation and Inuit peoples,” he said. “Today, I promise this relationship will be transformed and will be respected.” At the AFN’s assembly, Trudeau provided more details as to what First Nations were to
expect from his government, including an end to the two per cent cap on funding of programs and repeal of legislation unilaterally imposed on Indigenous people. Other campaign promises mentioned in the Throne Speech included implementation of all 94 calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; working with First Nations to ensure that every child receives a quality education; doing away with omnibus bills; and engaging Indigenous peoples “more fully” in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects. The speech also included the commitment to launch a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. That inquiry was announced on Dec. 8. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says he is “very optimistic” that change will take place. Part of that optimism is due to the prominence the AFN has had in the more public business of the government. Bellegarde
had visible seating in the swearing in ceremony for the Cabinet; he was in attendance for the Speech from the Throne; and he was included with Trudeau and two of his Cabinet ministers as a fourmember Canadian delegation for the opening of the climate change conference in Paris. “What it says to people, to our chiefs and leadership, to the people of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations is really becoming more relevant,” said Bellegarde. The AFN was active in the federal election, encouraging its members to get out and vote. During the campaign, the AFN released a report stating that in 51 ridings, First Nations voters could influence the outcome. In many cases, Conservative candidates were defeated in those ridings. Dwight Dorey, national chief for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, expects his organization to get the same attention from Trudeau that the AFN has received. “I would certainly hope so although I have no commitment
or confirmation at this point of time. But I certainly would expect that (Trudeau) will be meeting, not too far off, with all the national leaders,” said Dorey. While Dorey was pleased with the continued commitment the Speech from the Throne delivered to Indigenous peoples, he says he was disappointed with the lack of detail. He was also disappointed during the election campaign with the lack of attention to issues that face Indigenous peoples who live off-reserve. It is those people that CAP represents. “References to Indigenous peoples of Canada (in the Speech from the Throne) without being specific, I’m going to try and ensure that it’s an all-inclusive reference and process,” said Dorey. “For citizens of the Métis Nation, the Throne Speech represents the next step in putting into effect the commitments made by the Liberals during the election campaign,” said Metis National Council President Clément Chartier in a prepared statement.
[ news ]
Indigenous peoples feel climate changes first By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Canada’s Indigenous people had strong representation at the Paris climate change conference where 195 countries came together to negotiate a practical plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions to slow down climate warming. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two federal ministers in the four-person Canadian delegation to the opening ceremony. He was invited by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. “We haven’t been part of the problem when it comes to climate change, but Indigenous peoples can definitely be part of the solution,” said Bellegarde. In his opening address at COP21, Trudeau said Indigenous people knew how to care for the planet and the rest of the world could learn from them. “What a very powerful statement from our Prime Minister. He understands the important role of our peoples to protect our environment,” said Bellegarde. But despite Canada’s acceptance of the role Indigenous peoples can play in addressing climate change, having a reference to Indigenous peoples included in the Paris declaration, both in the preamble and the body of the text, has proven to be a battle. And that bothers Bellegarde. “But if we don’t do that strategic lobby nationally and internationally, our voices will get put to the side and that’s not really
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde chat during COP21.
in the best interest of Canada or the world,” he said. †While Bellegarde left Paris after the first couple of days, Northwest Territories Regional Chief Bill Erasmus, Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart and a number of other AFN leaders remained on. Also in Paris were Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed and Congress of Aboriginal Peoples’ National Chief Dwight Dorey. “There has to be some serious consideration and inclusion in the negotiations of our people to ensure that the interests of Indigenous people throughout Canada, regardless of their residency and status, that their rights are protected,” said Dorey. CAP represents Aboriginal
people living off-reserve. Dorey said urban-dwellers also have the inherent right to hunt, fish, gather and trap, and many do so in order to provide for their families. The Paris declaration has a direct impact on that right, said Dorey. “The whole process is about climate change, trying to ensure that issues relative to the changing climate are minimized as it effects our people, Indigenous peoples of Canada. It’s very important. It impacts upon our peoples’ traditional way of life, traditional knowledge,” he said. Bellegarde points out that it is the Indigenous peoples who feel the impact of climate change first. He says that impact is already noticeable with the melting of
icebergs in the north; the rising of ocean waters and the flooding of the lands; the loss of plant species; the movement of grizzly bears and ants going north, and ravens heading south. “There’s this whole switch-up that’s going on in the environment,” he said. That “switch-up” and the talks in Paris have people like Jessie Cardinal, coordinator with Keepers of the Athabasca in Alberta, concerned. “Today, many are gathered in …one of the biggest international climate change gatherings in world history, in Paris, France. And while I sit here in northern Alberta, I pray, that these leaders, will have some concrete plans and actions, solutions that we can all adopt,
that will help save our winter. Many promises will be made, but what real actions will be taken and will the actions be big enough, smart enough and fast enough to tackle this mess we have got ourselves in, our dependence on extracting everything, at any cost, with no regard for the future,” wrote Cardinal in a piece entitled, Where is the snow? For Dorey, the answer is to have Indigenous concerns included in the Paris declaration. “One of the benchmarks I’m looking at is the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We fought long and hard to get the protections that we feel are needed through that process. And Canada has signed on to the national agreement. What I’m trying to do is ensure we don’t lose ground. When it comes to climate change issues we want to ensure that those protections we got under that declaration remain.” Up until the last days, McKenna was reaffirming Canada’s position on the importance of including human and Indigenous rights in the document. The United Nations conference on climate change concluded on Dec. 11. Every year since 1992 the Conference of the Parties has taken place with negotiators trying to put together a practical plan of action. This year’s COP21 in Paris was the last chance for this process. Negotiators agreed in 2011 that a deal had to be done by the end of 2015, and an agreement was indeed reached. The deal can be read here: http://unfccc.int/ resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/ l09.pdf
Government systems blame families for their poverty By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
VICTORIA Taking action to address the number of First Nations children living in poverty has been a constant battle with both the provincial and federal governments for British Columbia’s youth advocate. “I’ve had a series of in-depth investigative reports over the years that have looked at the impact of poverty on children and families, especially First Nations children and families, and I found consistent systemic problems that give rise to child welfare issues,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who has served as B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth since 2006. She cites a case in which a child was severely abused after being taken into government care because his family could not afford housing. Unfortunately, these stories are far too common. Instead of parents being provided
with support to handle situations that are beyond their control, such as low income, unstable housing, poor food, limited transportation, children are apprehended. Turpel-Lafond says that one of her concerns is how poverty is reported. It does not include First Nations communities, so ignores the conditions of the 200 First Nation reserves in the province, many of which struggle with economic deprivation. Since Statistics Canada does not collect from First Nations, Aboriginal poverty is underrepresented. “So the data Öshows a more rosy picture than is the case for family poverty, particularly on reserve,” she said. The last reliable statistics that are available come from the 2006 long form census. While data was collected in 2011 through the National Household Survey, the questions and responses were limited. According to 2006 figures, 48 per cent of First Nations children live in poverty in B.C. and 28 per
cent of Aboriginal children live in poverty in B.C. “We have no information to say it’s gotten better or worse,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator with First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, which released a 2015 child poverty report using figures from both 2006 and 2013. The 2013 tax filing data shows that one in five B.C. children is growing up in poverty. “There are certain groups that are over-represented in child poverty stats; Aboriginal families being one of those,” said Montani. “It’s unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable and that it’s been able to go on for so long.” Poverty has a huge impact on First Nations children, who are already leading lives “with multiple shocks,” such as racism, poor educational outcomes, and poor access to health care, says Turpel-Lafond. “As a result they tend then to become involved in systems that can be more coercive and in many cases more harmful than helpful,”
she said. Among the systems TurpelLafond classifies as harmful are child welfare and the justice system. “There have been very punishing social policies that deprive children of, for instance, a strong supportive family environment,” she said. Just because a family lives in poverty does not mean a parent or grandparent cannot impart love and caring and that a community cannot respond effectively, she says. “I’m not saying leave children in poverty, but there are protective factors you need to look for and you need to build on those. You may not be able to erase all the poverty, but you can build good parental warmth and good supportive systems for children,” said Turpel-Lafond. But instead, the system judges, casts blames and criticizes Aboriginal families for their poverty, she says. “(That) is extremely corrosive and I think that has often been
the underpinnings of child welfare and justice system approaches that have caused more harm to children,” said TurpelLafond. But still, she “remain(s) optimistic” that changes will come about, given the new federal government and Trudeau’s desire for a renewed partnership with First Nations. For Montani, hope comes in the form of the work undertaken by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She admits that all of the recommendations in the First Call report – increased funding for child welfare, housing and education, and development of a long-term plan to eradicate poverty – are repeated from previous years. “Perhaps we can take some wind in our sails from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in making that happen,” she said. But, she adds, awareness created by the TRC needs to be accompanied by public pressure from grassroots and advocacy groups.
[ news ]
Homicide is a complex issue to tackle By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
The statistics are sobering. But not surprising. The RCMP recorded homicide rates for the first time in 2014 as they pertained to Aboriginal people. Nationally, 23 per cent of the 516 murder victims were Aboriginal, while one-third of those accused of murder were Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people account for only five per cent of the Canadian population. “I’m saddened and it’s really unfortunate (the statistics) confirm trends we were already aware of. We know about the extremely high rates of violence,” said Dawn Lavell Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Lavell Harvard was in Edmonton recently to talk about violence against Aboriginal women. Figures released by Statistics Canada indicate that Manitoba and Alberta have the highest homicide rates overall and the highest homicide rates for Aboriginal people. Manitoba had a rate of 13.29 per cent and Alberta was at 11.55 per cent for Aboriginal homicides. Manitoba and Alberta also led the way for the provinces with the highest rate of Aboriginal people accused of murder at 16.96 per cent and 13.48 per cent, respectively. Both provinces are home to the centres with the highest urban Aboriginal populations. Nationally, of the 431 persons accused of homicides, almost one-third were Aboriginal, with
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Native Women’s Association of Canada president Dawn Lavell Harvard was in Edmonton recently to talk about violence against Aboriginal women.
Aboriginal males accounting for 30 per cent of men accused of homicide and Aboriginal females accounting for 51 per cent of women accused. The rate of Aboriginal people accused of homicide in Canada was 10 times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginal people. “You’ve got to go back to some of the historical context.… We’re talking about a whole colonized process leading to the residential schools and from there the issues we face now in terms of poverty and marginalization. It just goes on and on,” said Nelson Mayer, executive director with Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association out of Edmonton. Lavell Harvard said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that took place across
the country over the last six years has made it clear that residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and children taken into government care have had a resounding impact on Indigenous people. “We can’t … know all that we know about the abuse and generations of our people and then expect people are going to come away unscathed,” she said. “Yes, there is extremely high rates of violence.” Other figures presented by Stats Canada indicate that nationally, one-third of Aboriginal homicide victims were victims of spousal homicide compared to 45 per cent of nonAboriginal victims. Thirty-eight per cent of Aboriginal women who were killed were victims of another family member; eight per
cent were killed by an acquaintance; and four per cent were killed by a stranger. Nine per cent of Aboriginal males killed were victims of spousal homicide. Eighty-five per cent of Aboriginal homicides were solved. Violence has become a part of Aboriginal life, although violence “is not part of any of our cultures,” said Mayer. “When you look at other nations across the world, whenever you have oppressed communities, the oppression goes downward and downward until there’s no other place to go. Then it goes sideways…. “Here in Canada, it’s our Indigenous people who are being oppressed and it’s down, down, down until that lateral violence
sweeps sideways.” From 1980 to 2014, police services across Canada reported 6,849 homicides involving female victims. For that same period, Aboriginal female victims accounted for 16 per cent (1,073) of all female victims of homicide. Over the past 34 years, the number of Aboriginal female victims has remained steady while the number of nonAboriginal female victims peaked in 1991, but has declined since. As a result, Aboriginal females account for an increasing proportion of total female victims. Once again that is not a statistic that surprises Lavell Harvard. And it disturbs her on a number of levels. “Obviously whatever steps, whatever programs, whatever things have been put in place, whatever supports to increase and improve the safety of women in general in Canada are obviously just not there for Aboriginal women. We’re not seeing the same benefits from the interventions that are happening for other women,” she said. Contributing to the growing violence, says Mayer, are existing systems that have traditionally placed Aboriginal people at a disadvantage, including the correctional system, with its high number of incarcerated Aboriginal people; school with its high number of Aboriginal drop outs; and child and family services, with its high number of Aboriginal child in care. “It’s a very complex issue when you start exploring it and getting to the roots of what’s going to address it,” said Mayer.
Review of child welfare a wasted opportunity, says leadership Windspeaker Staff
The newly-released internal evaluation of British Columbia’s child welfare system has been solidly panned by First Nations leadership, who called it a wasted opportunity and an attack on the child advocate’s office. In an open letter to BC Premier Christy Clark, the First Nations Leadership Council, made up of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the BC Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Summit, called the report entitled Plecas Review, Part One: Decision Time, a biased survey and a unilateral public assessment of the value of independent oversight, specifically, the evaluation of the performance of the current Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen TurpelLafond. “We find this attack on this valued oversight role to be deeply offensive and inappropriate. Let us be clear in stating that we fully support the important work of
Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen TurpelLafond.
the Representative for Children and Youth,” reads a press statement. “We will also be writing to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to indicate that we hope the utterly unfair review of the performance of the Representative can be withdrawn fully and that should such a review be conducted, it should be done in the proper forum, before the Standing Committee on Children and Youth that the Representative has worked closely with for nine years and has appeared before in excess of 30 times.” The Leadership Council called the report’s assessment of deaths and serious injuries of children in care as having occurred rarely, a “cavalier observation.” “From July 2007 to September 2015 there have been 2,981 instances of critical injuries and deaths. To be clear, the MCFD is aware of 814 deaths and 2,077 critical injuries in the last eight years. For the current fiscal year of 2015-2016, there are 380
critical injury reports and 90 deaths of children in care.” And the Leadership Council questions the report’s description of the role of the newlyappointed special advisor to the Ministry of Children and Family. “The report references Grand Chief Edward John as being brought on ‘to help find ways to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care’. We find this to be an attempt… to minimize a need to consult with First Nations’ on these important issues by offloading and mischaracterizing Grand Chief Edward John’s important role as Special Advisor.” The Leadership Council said the report represents a wasted opportunity to effect the positive change so desperately needed in BC. And they called for investments in child welfare, in the order of $100 million. The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) too said the latest BC child welfare report is (Continued on page 9.)
Mining company given OK to release more tailings water from Mount Polley mine By Cara McKenna Windspeaker Contributor
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C.
First Nations people who are still feeling the impacts of a catastrophic tailings dam breach are speaking out against a permit that will see more mine effluents released into a nearby lake. The B.C. government granted Imperial Metals the two-year discharge permit for the Mount Polley mine northeast of Williams Lake in order to avoid overflow from an open storage pit. The permit will allow the company to release tailings water below the surface of Quesnel Lake through a pipeline. The provincial ministry of environment said in a statement that the tailings water will be treated and must meet its quality guidelines before it is discharged. But statements from the Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in people expressed outrage and concern over the decision. Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chairman Chief Joe Alphonse said salmon stocks are still at risk after a massive tailings breach in 2014
that gushed millions of cubic metres of mine waste and water into area lakes and streams, considered the worst mining tailings disaster in Canada’s history. “The Mount Polley project is in Northern Secwepemc territory, but the downstream effects of the dam breach and any effluent are felt by the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” Alphonse said. “We are still waiting to see if the disaster will have a long-term detrimental effect on the smolts and rearing of salmon in Chilko Lake.” The Tsilhqot’in National Government is concerned that the water will only meet quality guidelines, because it will be diluted once it reaches Quesnel Lake. Secwepemc activist Kanahus Manuel said the lake is sacred to her people and “at threat once again by the same negligent mining company.” Her statement called the permit process “flawed and illegal” and said Secwepemc people are “outraged” as there has been no consultation with the area’s Indigenous people. But the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council said Manuel’s
statement does not represent its interests and that the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands have taken on a stewardship role on behalf of the Northern Secwepemc people. The B.C. government reiterated that the permit was granted after “extensive engagement” with the two bands, as well as a consultation process and technical review. The permit’s approval was the second of three steps Imperial Metals must take in order for the Mount Polley mine to keep operating. The company next must submit a longer-term water treatment and discharge plan by June of 2016. Tsilhqot’in National Government Vice-Chairman Chief Roger William said he is “very concerned” about the permit and believes that the provincial approach needs to change. “This sets a bad example both on the national and international stage,” he said. “Regardless of political pressure, rigorous scientific studies must be completed and communicated effectively in order for our people to trust decisions that may impact our food sources and ways of life.”
Review of child welfare (Continued from page 8.)
discouraging. The council is a health and wellness advocacy body, and is upset by the approach taken by the province in the release of the review, saying it was prepared without consultation with First Nations in B.C. The FNHC is troubled with the conclusion of the author, that says critical incidents and deaths of children in care are accepted as an inevitability. “This is completely inconsistent with the FNHC vision of healthy, selfdetermining and vibrant First Nation children, families and communities and a serious risk for the wellbeing of our children. “It is our perspective that more must be done to take care of those children that find themselves in the most complicated circumstances. This will require concerted and
coordinated action to restore family and community connectedness, improve social conditions, and address the social challenges inherent to the current epidemic of First Nations children in care.” The report says 7,200 children are in care in the province. More than 60 per cent of which are Aboriginal. FNHC says the report doesn’t account for or reflect First Nations perspectives and the vision of services for children, youth and families in British Columbia. “The exclusion of First Nations in the development of this report further contributes to the erosion of First Nations confidence and trust in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD),” reads a press statement. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which released its final report on Dec.
15, has called for fundamental change to child welfare systems in Canada. “The TRC has been clear that the current crisis of First Nations children in care is a direct consequence of failed policy,” said FNHC. Canada has committed to implement the TRC calls to action in full partnership with First Nations across Canada, but British Columbia has promised no similar action, insists FNHC. In 2015, the Provincial Health Officer and the Representative for Children and Youth released a report titled Growing up in British Columbia. “The report clearly signals that historic inequities continue. This report calls for a government-wide response from the Province of British Columbia in collaboration with First Nations to address the upstream factors that shape the social determinants of health,” said FNHC.
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Windspeaker News Briefs
From left to right: Bryan Trothen, CLAS board president, Andrew Bolter, CLAS executive director, Donna Day, Jeff Plain, Baamsedaa Aboriginal Justice Co-ordinator, Wilson Plain, Baasmedaa advisory committee member.
At community legal Assistance Sarnia’s (CLAS) Annual General Meeting held on Dec. 1, Donna Day of Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island) was recognized with a Community Service Award. Day works for Enodmaagejig (Place of Helpers) Social Services on Walpole Island as the Central Intake Worker. Her other roles include Justice Team Leader and the Naaknigewnan Restorative Justice Co-ordinator, assisting Walpole Island’s satellite provincial court held the first Thursday of every month. Day’s advocacy expertise ensures Island residents can access justice through referrals to CLAS, and it’s Baamsedaa (Let’s Walk Together) Aboriginal outreach program that is funded by Legal Aid Ontario. Day was Walpole Island’s first woman Chief.
It's the beginnings of change for the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, said outgoing chief Bryan LaForme, with more women elected to council than men. Chief R. Stacey LaForme will now lead the nation. It was the highest turnout on record, with 518 votes cast. “This new council will re-energize the Mississaugas of the New Credit. We will work in unity with administration and our membership to benefit our First Nation today and for future generations,” said the new chief. The council thanked Bryan LaForm for his “unwavering commitment to the MNCFN membership,” reads a press statement.
The National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund launched a call for applications Dec. 10 to support education programs aimed at healing and reconciliation. Applications will be accepted from First Nation and Metis individuals, governments and organizations with preference for former students of Indian residential schools. “Funds through the National Indian Brotherhood Trust are being made available at a time when there is unprecedented attention on the need for reconciliation in our country,” said Phil Fontaine, chair of the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund. Fontaine was instrumental in achieving the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement of 2007. For the purpose of the NIB Trust Fund, education programs are those provided by education institutions, cultural centres, organizations, communities and individuals/ groups, whether short or long-term, informal or formal or certified or non-certified. Successful applications will use the funds for educational expenses such as tuition, transportation, accommodations, meals, books, computer equipment and program supplies and traditional education, including Elders’ fees, guide fees, equipment, supplies, travel, fuel; and research. The maximum benefit to an individual applicant is $20,000, and the maximum benefit for a group, organization or institution is $200,000. The NIB Trust Fund expects to approve applications to a total of up to $5 million before April 1, 2016. Applications for groups, organizations and institutions are available now and individual applications will be available Spring 2016. The funds have been made available from a surplus of the compensation allocated for former students of Indian residential schools, consistent with the terms of the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The funds are no longer tied to previous compensation packages, including Common Experience Payments, Independent Assessment Payments and Personal Education Credits. The funds will be held in Trust for beneficiaries to access by application. The deadline for the first round of applications is January 15, 2016.
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Family consultations begin in Phase One of inquiry By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
OTTAWA Three women stood shoulder to shoulder, each carrying eagle feathers, one wearing an “honouring our sisters” shirt, and announced that the new federal government was delivering on one of its campaign promises. Work for the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls was beginning. “The extent of crime against Indigenous women and girls is not an Indigenous problem. It’s not simply a women’s issue. It is a national tragedy that requires an urgent and deliberate national response,” said Jody WilsonRaybould, former Assembly of First Nations regional chief for British Columbia and now Attorney General and Justice minister. Wilson-Raybould was accompanied by Minister Carolyn Bennett (Indigenous Affairs) and Patty Hajdu (Status
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of Women) on Dec. 8 to announce that the inquiry would take place in two phases. The first phase, to get underway immediately, involves meeting with families of victims, frontline service workers, national Aboriginal, provincial, and territorial representatives over the next two months, said WilsonRaybould. Indigenous leaders have expressed approval of the preplanning phase approach the government is taking. “I am uplifted by the government’s announcement to work alongside the families of victims and Indigenous organizations in launching an inquiry,” said Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey in a statement. This phase will be used to design and set the scope and tone of the inquiry. All three ministers will have a role to play in that, said Bennett, adding that the first phase will also guide in the selection of commissioners and determining the role of
ceremonies in the inquiry. Bennett said the process will be transparent with regular updates on a dedicated website and comments welcomed through social media. Discussion guides will be mailed out and an online survey set up in the coming weeks. “We are encouraged to see the government announce an open, transparent and fulsome process,” said Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed. Bennett said she expects to announce the second phase of the inquiry in spring, but she was adamant that the first phase would not be cut off prematurely if it took longer than initially anticipated. She also stated that the two years and $40 million commitment to the inquiry that the Liberals made during the campaign were simply “place holders” in the platform and would be adjusted depending on what the ministers heard as consultations progressed. This commitment further demonstrates the change in relationship between the
government and Indigenous peoples, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “She’s saying if it takes more financial resources to get the job done, she’s committed to get that done. Again it strikes to a really new relationship with this government…. (This) is a prime example of what is needed to bring about reconciliation in this country,” he said. “The inquiry itself is to be able to find concrete action that will actually stop this national tragedy. That includes seeking justice for the families, support for those families, but what we’ve heard time and time again is that these families want to prevent this tragedy so that other families don’t have to go through this,” said Bennett. While phase one and phase two of the inquiry are underway, Hajdu said the government would be taking immediate steps in an attempt to prevent more Indigenous women and girls from being victims. She said affordable housing;
more accessible shelters, which include transitional housing; access to running water; affordable food; and other social infrastructure issues would be addressed. “These are all very important components of actually moving forward with action right now,” she said. Support for the inquiry has come from all federal political parties, as well as groups such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia, and the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada. Support has also come from nonIndigenous organizations, including the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the United Steelworkers. Figures released by the RCMP in 2014 indicated close to 1,200 Indigenous women murdered or missing between 1980 and 2012, with 1,017 women as homicide victims and 164 women considered missing.
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Media Arts Centre helps people tell stories of the north By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
It has been decades in the making but Debbie Brisebois still can’t believe it’s officially here. On Dec. 2, the Nunavut Media Arts Centre had its official grand opening in Iqaluit. The 8,000-square-foot building is located in the core of the business and government district. “It feels totally amazing,” said Brisebois, executive director for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. The IBC began operating out of NMAC at the end of March when the first phase of the equipment installation, primarily for post-production, was completed. But the second phase, the studio and control room, was only finished in the last month. “We’ve got pretty much everything we wanted and need, but there’s still more. There’s always more,” said Brisebois. The budget for the centre, which included the facility, equipment and training, was set at $8.6 million. Fundraising has fallen $1.3 million short. That
Jim Papatsie, with Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, in the new control room at the Nunavut Media Arts Centre.
shortfall will be felt in going beyond basic training on the new technology and state-of-the-art equipment, as well as seating for a live studio audience, a welcomed feature for IBC productions. New office furniture will also have to wait. The federal and territorial government primarily funded NMAC, although financial support also came through partnerships with Inuit organizations, private corporations and individuals. Brisebois expects the remainder
of the money will be garnered through grants and more traditional fundraising. “We’ve been talking about the need for something like this for about 20 years,” said Brisebois. “We started for real the planning about seven years ago.” The need for a new facility was evident from the time IBC set up shop in a 1950s warehouse, which was never designed for television production or for office space. It was the second facility occupied by IBC in Iqaluit.
“We survived all those years there, but it wasn’t the optimum situation,” said Brisebois, adding that safety and health of staff was always a priority. NMAC has eight to 10 permanent staff and a “multitude” of contractors depending on what production is being worked on and what stage the production is at. IBC has five production centres across Nunavut, with 29 Inuit staff at every level of the production chain, from director of network programming to technical producer to administrative assistant. All programming is conceived, designed and produced by Inuit for Inuit. Presently, IBC produces five series. Brisebois is hopeful that local and territorial freelancers, performers, artists and production companies working in Nunavut will choose to make use of the new facility. Most material produced by independents in the territory is either assembled in small, homestudios or shipped south at considerable cost for editing and mastering. Already this past summer, a production company from Quebec used NMAC for work it shot in the territory for its feature film, Iqaluit.
IBC sustains its core operations through selfgenerated revenues, with grants and contributions supporting specific activities and projects. The new facility will diversify that revenue generation and reduce dependence on government funding. NMAC also has an Inuit Film and Video Archive, bringing together more than 30 years of historic material, an estimated 9,000 hours chronicling, from the Inuit perspective, the division of the territories, the creation of key national Inuit organizations, the concept and signing of Inuit land claims, the creation of Nunavut, and the evolution of a new political, social cultural environment. The work will now be catalogued, digitized, archived and safely stored, enabling the network to introduce management and administrative systems for receiving and responding to requests for access to archived material. “We’re really blown away by the amount of support that we did get and it was a good validation of people seeing the importance of what IBC does, that we had so many people pitch in to make this happen,” said Brisebois.
2016 shaping up as a good year for women in arts Windspeaker Staff
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. And they have a new website at nwia.ca. Plus they have a number of events planned for 2016. On Feb. 26, at The MusicGallery, Toronto’s Centre for Creative Music, NWIA will co-host an evening featuring Pura Fé and Rosary Spence. Pura Fé will feature her new album, Sacred Seed, which celebrates the roots of First Nation blues. ”Mixing original compositions deeply rooted in the pre-blues First Nation tradition with songs displaying the humanistic concerns of their author (as well as two classics, Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” and Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”), Pura Fé gives us the most intimate and adventurous music of her career.” She is joined by relative newcomer Rosary Spence, who is originally from the coastal Cree community of Fort Albany First Nation, off the coast of James Bay. Spence is a selftaught vocalist, but has also studied vocals at The Banff Centre For The Arts, and has
Rosary Spence participated in vocal training with a diverse group of artists at various times throughout her professional career. Pura Fé and Rosary Spence will also be presenting daytime workshops on Feb. 21 at the
Pikwakanagan First Nation. In June, Native Women in the Arts will present Miiyuu Pimaatswin ~ Living a Good Life: A Symposium for Indigenous Women Arts Leaders in Toronto.
Pura Fé Also in 2016 there will be an open call for the second annual Barbara Laronde Award to honour an emerging Indigenous female artist from Northern Ontario. The 2015 recipient, Aylan Couchie, recently
installed a new sculpture at The Halifax Stanfield Airport. The work, entitled “The Current Current,” considers transportation in Canada: precolonial, post-colonial and modern.
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Exhibit of contemporary group of Indigenous artists planned for March
The Art Gallery of Alberta will be presenting the exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. from March 5 to July 3, 2016. The show brings together more than 80 paintings and drawings from the 1970s from the group, whose members included Jackson Beardy (1944-1984), Eddy Cobiness (1933-1996), Alex Janvier (b. 1935), Norval Morrisseau (1932-2007), Daphne Odjig
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(b. 1919), Carl Ray (19421978) and Joseph Sanchez (b. 1948). Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez are confirmed to attend the opening, and there will be events, education, and programming around the show. This exhibition has been shown in Regina at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Winnipeg at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Kelowna at the Kelowna Art Gallery, the
McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont. and the Art Gallery of Windsor in Windsor, Ont. Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated was one of Canada’s most important early artist alliances. A groundbreaking cultural and political entity that was wryly known as the ‘Indian Group of Seven’. This influential group demanded recognition as professional, contemporary
artists and stimulated a new way of thinking about contemporary First Nations people, their lives and art. The exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. draws on both private and public art collections to bring together paintings from the 1970s during which the seven artists were active as a group. The exhibition considers their collective artistic impact, as well as the distinctive styles
and experimentation of the individual artists. The history of Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated signaled a new course for the exhibition and understanding of contemporary Indigenous art. The visual impact of this exhibition will reacquaint visitors with the excitement and newness of the images and styles that these seven artists produced.
Heritage Conservation Act under fire again By Cara McKenna Windspeaker Contributor
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. A B.C. developer and First Nation are asking the provincial ombudsperson to investigate the government’s apparent failure to recognize the historical value of what is believed to be an ancestral cemetery. Corpus Management Group claims that the provincial ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations failed to grant historical status to the site, which is understood to be a mass burial ground for victims of the 1782 smallpox epidemic. The company had planned to build a $40-million agri-centre on the 67-hectare lot in Abbotsford until it was discovered that nearly half is a sacred site for the Sumas First Nation. Sumas Chief Dalton Silver has joined with Corpus to ask provincial Ombudsperson Jay Chalke to investigate the province. In the meantime, Corpus’s director is urging property buyers to be “very, very careful” in light of the province’s many
unsettled Indigenous land claims. John Glazema said his company cannot be compensated for the land he purchased and is now known to be undevelopable until the province intervenes under the Heritage Conservation Act. “This is a profoundly unacceptable circumstance,” he said in a statement. “I would be very, very cautious if you’re purchasing any other property in B.C. At this point the collective cost of unresolved Aboriginal claims falls to unsuspecting landowners and property investors.” The B.C. ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations said in a statement to Windspeaker that a site alteration permit was granted to Corpus in August of 2014, but that it was suspended days later when First Nations told officials about the burial site. The ministry said it “received further information with respect to the site” this October and it is under review. When asked about the complaints, Ombudsperson Chalke’s office said it cannot give any specifics about any potential or current
investigation. Last December, Corpus and the Sumas Nation petitioned the ministry to designate a portion of the land as a provincial heritage site but both parties claim to have never received a response. It is not the first time B.C. has been criticized over how the heritage act is employed. Several years ago, the Musqueam First Nation fought to save a sacred burial site in Vancouver that was granted development permits for condos by the province. Earlier in 2015, B.C. was criticized again when a home was partially constructed on top of an ancestral cemetery on Salt Spring Island. Forests Minister Steve Thompson ordered a review of B.C.’s Heritage Conservation Act last January, though no results have yet been revealed. He said at the time that it can be difficult to balance private property rights with the preservation of heritage sites. “It can be challenging … especially when the significance of some of these archeological sites don’t become apparent until development occurs,” he said.
Nations support PM as he promises tanker traffic ban First Nations leaders in British Columbia offered the Trudeau government their support to implement an oil tanker moratorium on the province’s north coast. “A federal moratorium would protect not only the ocean, but also our lands, freshwater and the plants, animals and communities that depend on them,” said Chief Stanley Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation, a member of the six-nation Yinka Dene Alliance whose territories represent 25 per cent of the proposed route of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines. “We support the federal government on this. I think our boats are finally pointed in the right direction.” The Ministerial Mandate Letters for Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, as well as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Hunter Tootoo, direct that formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on B.C.’s north coast is a top priority. “We have invested extensive resources and time to build a sustainable economy in our territories,” said Marilyn Slett, chief of the Heiltsuk Nation and president of Coastal First Nations, an alliance of First Nations along the north and central coast of B.C. “An oil spill would devastate fishing, tourism, and traditional subsistence harvesting.” They are the backbone of the economy in the north and central coast and Haida Gwaii.” The Coastal First Nations declared a ban on oil tankers in their waters in 2010. “First Nations in B.C. have spoken together in clearly saying no to the environmental risks that Northern Gateway represents,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “The dispute between First Nations and the federal government over Northern Gateway has been prolonged and highly-charged, diverting resources away from the many other important issues in the region that require constructive, forwardlooking dialogue,” said Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli Nation, which is also a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance. “I’m heartened that the federal government seems ready to move from promise to reality on an oil tanker moratorium.” He said it will put to rest a toxic issue and marks an important step in improved relations between First Nations and government.
Minister delegating legal obligation, say chiefs On Nov. 23, the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs, on behalf of all Gitanyow, filed an application for a court order to require Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Steve Thomson to comply with his obligations under provincial legislation to manage wildlife in the Nass area of British Columbia in Gamlaxyeltxw v. Minister of FLNRO Under the Nisga’a Final Agreement Act, which ratified the Nisga’a treaty, every year the Minister of Forests, Lands
and Natural Resource Operations must set the total allowable moose harvest for that year for the Nass area. The Minister does so after receiving recommendations from a joint BC-Nisga’a committee established by the Nisga’a Final Agreement of 2000, reads a press release. “Our information is that the minister has not set the total allowable moose harvest for several years,” said Glen Williams, chief negotiator for the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs “He’s
abdicated his legal responsibility and let the Nisga’a make this decision for him. All we want the court to do is to order the minister to follow the province’s own laws, plain and simple.” Williams said that the hunting decisions presently being made by the Nisga’a impact not just Nisga’a but Gitanyow and all non-Aboriginal citizens of B.C. “Basically, this is a major failure of the province to properly implement a modern day treaty. All British Columbians should be seriously concerned.”
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Installing the eight solar photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof of the Elder and youth lodge in Fort Chipewyan.
Notley government gives Indigenous companies opportunity in green energy By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
The provincial government has committed to a favourable process for Indigenous bids on green energy projects. “Indigenous participation… was something we wanted to ensure we were doing throughout, the sort of the growth, of the green economy such that the new economy does not replicate the social and economic exclusions of the old,” said Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips. Alberta’s climate change advisory panel, chaired by Andrew Leach, recommended that “the government introduce a premium in the adjudication of bids for projects that partner with rural, First Nations and Metis communities.” “Dr. Leach made a recommendation that we allow for, in the bid process, Indigenous participation as part of the bidding process and that was a recommendation we quite liked,” said Phillips. Nicole Bourque-Bouchier,
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CEO of Bouchier Group, applauds the government’s focus on Aboriginal-specific opportunities. “I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for growing Aboriginal businesses,” she said. Bouchier Group is a leading provider of integrated site services to the Athabasca Oil Sands region. It is now one of the largest Aboriginal-owned and operated companies in the area providing contracting, construction, maintenance, and general site services. It is not involved in any green energy projects at this point, but that could change. “One of the things we’re always looking at is how do we venture outside of our region and how do we expand on the growing technologies and get out there and grow the business into other areas,” said BourqueBouchier. Already, green energy is something that Indigenous communities have embraced. The Keepers of the Athabasca worked with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s Housing and Special
Projects last year to install solar panels on the roof of the Elders lodge, which feed into batteries to store power. “If we’re telling people there’s a timeline to fossil fuels and to show them how destructive it is, what are we telling them to do instead?” said Jesse Cardinal, coordinator with the Keepers of the Athabasca. “Now as Keepers, we’re finally able to spend some time on solutions as well.” This past May, Montana First Nation partnered with Bullfrog Power for the construction of a 20-kW solar installation on the First Nation’s water treatment plant in Maskwacis and set up a solar training program. On the Piikani First Nation, Weather Dancer spins east of Brocket. The First Nation spent about $400,000 last year to update the turbine, which had been standing dormant for some time. They are looking to recoup those costs by selling the energy they generate. “I think we’re just on the cusp of beginning to do great things in the country and being given an opportunity like that is just
another sign of what we’re capable of and we’ll rise to the occasion to do it,” said Bourque-Bouchier. The climate change advisory panel consisted of five members, include Angela Adams, a Metis from the Wood Buffalo region, who worked 20 years as a heavy duty equipment operator at Suncor Energy in Fort McMurray. The report was the result of extensive public engagement, including meetings in Aboriginal communities and with Aboriginal organizations. Treaty 6 Grand Chief Tony Alexis was at Premier Rachel Notley’s side when the province unveiled the climate change strategy in late November. “(First Nations people) are in the heart of the impacts of climate change. The way forward is simple, but not easy. We must strengthen our treaty relationships and honour our commitments, roles and responsibilities further to the (United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and other human rights frameworks in setting our
agenda on climate change,” said Alexis. The strategy, which Alberta took to the first ministers’ meeting and then on to Paris for the climate change conference, includes a phase out of coalgenerated electricity by 2030; an increase in renewable energy to 30 per cent by 2030; a 100 mega-tonne limit on oilsands emissions; and a levy that starts at $20 per tonne in 2017 and rises to $30 per tonne price on all carbon emissions by 2018. Albertans will also be covering costs of the new climate change policy, as the price of gas at the pump will increase by 4.7 cents per litre and home heating costs will†rise by $320 per year by 2017 and $470 by 2018. However, low to middle income families will receive financial assistance as will First Nations, small businesses and people working in the coal industry. “We have already compromised the future of our children and grandchildren. How we move forward together will decide what happens to them and to Mother Earth,” said Alexis.
PHOTO: TARA CUTARM
A fire, caused by a furnace, destroyed the home of Jason Cutarm and Melissa Nepoose and all the belongings, including Christmas gifts.
Fire leaves family homeless on Ermineskin Cree Nation Donations are being gathered for a family of 14, who lost their home on the Erminskin Cree Nation and all their belongings to a fire on Dec. 4. The fire was caused by a furnace and broke out around 4 p.m., saidTara Cutarm. The home belonged to her brother Jason Cutarm and his wife Melissa Nepoose. All family members are safe. The community has rallied around the family, which includes three adults and 11 children ranging
in age from two years to 17 years. Donations can be dropped off at Ken and Elizabeth Cutarmâ€™s in Ermineskin and financial donations can be made to a GoFundMe account. Tara Cutarm said the Ermineskin Fire Department is also collecting donations.
EMTs can now administer, distribute naloxone Health Minister Sarah Hoffman issued ministerial orders on Dec. 11 allowing more
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health professionals to prescribe, administer and distribute naloxone. Naloxone is a drug that can be used immediately to reverse fentanyl overdoses. The ministerial orders will expand the scope of practice for registered nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and emergency medical responders. Hoffman is following an early recommendation made by the Mental Health Review Committee. Tyler White, CEO of Siksika Health Services and the only non-elected member on the committee, said it was important for First Nations that EMTs and nurse practitioners be able to administer naloxone. EMTs will be able to administer and distribute naloxone now. The ministerial orders will be in place until July 1, 2016, and will be renewed if needed. In the meantime, Alberta will continue to work with the federal government, provinces, territories and other stakeholders to make naloxone available without a prescription. From Jan.1 to Sept. 30, 2015, there were 213 overdose deaths involving the drug in Alberta. Illicit fentanyl is highly toxic, and only a very small amount can be deadly.
OCYA experiences busy year The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released its annual report for 2014-2015 for what Advocate Del Graff says has been “one of the busiest for the office.” OCYA began work on a special report regarding the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care, which is a significant and growing concern in Alberta. The special report will make recommendations to the government, with a goal of improving the experiences that Aboriginal children and families have with the child intervention system. The OCYA’s investigative mandate expanded to review circumstances where young people died within two years of receiving child intervention services. In 2014-2015, a total of 2,526 young people, almost 60 per cent Aboriginal, were served by individual advocacy services through screenings, information gathering, or working on advocacy issues with an advocate.
issues being addressed by Canada’s minister of environment and climate change are incredibly important and we’re honoured to see our general manager selected to assist in implementing the minister’s mandate.” Harrietha served as general manager for the local MÈtis association for the past three years. Although unsuccessful in two federal campaigns (one by-election and then October ’s general election), Harrietha made breakthroughs for the Liberals in the northern riding. In two other appointments, Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault was named parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage, Mélanie Joly, and Labrador MP Yvonne Jones has taken on the position of parliamentary secretary to Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous and northern affairs. Jones was one of eight Indigenous candidates elected under the Liberal banner in October.
Those who want to use the system must qualify for a mortgage but make less than $80,000, or $90,000 if they have children. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that for the $2 million seed money the city put into Attainable Homes, it has now helped over 700 people purchase a property. The 24 properties in the southeast are not yet complete. In Copperfield, 14 townhomes will be available in the new year through the program. In Mahogany, the Sandgate project is a 306-home condo. Ten of the units will be sold through Attainable Housing. Jeff Rust, VP of multifamily for Hopewell, said the company is looking at its work with the city as a “long and productive relationship between our organizations.”
Alberta Court of Appeal dismisses O’Chiese application to appeal AER decision The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed two applications by the O’Chiese First Nation for
leave to appeal regulatory licence decisions by the Alberta Energy Regulator made in favour of Shell Canada Limited. The decision clarifies that a right to a regulatory appeal is not automatic simply because development is occurring on treaty lands. The decision also clarifies that a party must offer specific evidence to demonstrate that it is directly and adversely affected by an AER decision as a pre-condition to be accorded a regulatory appeal.†O’Chiese First Nation had taken issue with AER’s approval of Shell’s application for two natural gas pipelines, and application for a mineral surface lease and a license to occupy a petroleum and natural gas site and road. While this decision does not clarify the nature of the evidence that would satisfy the directly and adversely affected test, this case makes it clear that location or proximity between the work proposed and the rights asserted is not enough. The O’Chiese First Nation reserve is
located 16-20 kilometers from the land covered by the AER approvals.
Oil and gas producing First Nations, industry gather on Tsuut’ina December 1, 2015. First Nations Chiefs, council members, technicians, and industry representatives from across the country gatherED in Tsuut’ina First Nation for two days earlier this month to learn about vital topics pertaining to First Nations and energy transmission. The annual general meeting of the Indian Resources Council of Canada enabled invited guests and presenters to address and discuss related issues, challenges, and opportunities. The IRC was founded in 1987 by Chiefs representing the oil and gas producing First Nations, following the recommendation of the task force that was established to study the role of the Crown in the management of First Nations oil and natural
Private Members’ Bill addresses domestic violence Government members voted to support Bill 204, the Residential Tenancies Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence Amendment Act. The bill, introduced by independent Calgary Bow MLA Deborah Drever, allows tenants affected by domestic violence to break a lease early without financial penalty. A lease may be terminated if a statement is received from a certified professional - including a doctor, nurse, social worker, psychologist, or peace officer verifying that domestic violence is occurring. The legislation will be proclaimed after consultation and drafting of supporting regulations with key stakeholders including landlords, tenants, and women’s organizations. “I commend Ms. Drever for her commitment to survivors of domestic violence. Bill 204 will help ensure that survivors of domestic violence are safe and have the supports they need to maintain their independence,” said Shannon Phillips, minister responsible for the status of women, in a statement.
Calgary, homebuilder form partnership for affordable McMurray Métis GM to work housing The City of Calgary and for climate change minister
McMurray Métis general manager and Fort McMurrayCold Lake Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha has been appointed director of parliamentary affairs to Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. “Kyle’s respect for the Métis people, and all Indigenous Canadians, is without question. While we’re sad to see him go,” said McMurray Métis VicePresident Bill Loutitt. “The
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Hopewell Residential have formed an alliance to help meet Calgary’s affordable housing challenge. Twenty-four Hopewell Residential properties in the southeast communities of Mahogany and Copperfield will be available to homebuyers using the Attainable Homes system. Attainable Homes is a non-profit corporation owned by the city that helps working-class Calgarians purchase a home.
gas resources. IRC has a national membership of over 130 First Nations that have oil and gas rights and interests on their reserves and traditional lands. IRC advocates on behalf of these First Nations.
Charity Checkstop raises funds, food for worthy causes The Rowan House Emergency Shelter was the recipient of two Charity Checkstops this season. Okotoks 9th annual Charity Checkstop raised $6,500 and one truck load of toys for the shelter, while High River and area first responders conducted their 3rd Annual Charity Checkstop and collected $6290.29 in cash and gift cards, which they split between the shelter and Foothill Victims Services. Okotoks also collected 5.5 truck loads of food for the Okotoks food bank, while High River collected a truck bed of groceries which went to the Salvation Army for their food bank.
Turkey Ham Jam helps feed families this Christmas The Mustard Seed, along with the Calgary Co-op and Country 105, collected frozen turkeys, hams and chickens for those in need this holiday season. Four Co-op locations accepted donations, including cash and gift cards. One in 10 Calgarians lives below the poverty line, which means many won’t be able to afford a celebration dinner this holiday season. The turkeys, hams and chickens will be distributed as part of The Mustard Seed’s Christmas Food Hamper program, which will provide hampers to approximately 400 individuals and families in the community and to another 400 people in The Mustard Seed’s housing program. In addition, the donations will be part of the Christmas dinners at The Mustard Seed’s Foothills Shelter for up to 370 guests and for another 250 residents in the permanent supportive housing units.
PHOTO: BRAD CROWFOOT
Brandon Atkinson’s untitled work is located on a billboard along 111 avenue and west of 142 street.
#yegcanvas launched midDecember as an opportunity for 32 Edmonton-based artists to have their work displayed around the city. Already, work by
Indigenous artists MJ Belcourt Moses and Brandon Atkinson can be viewed. Moses’ work is located in two LRT stations while Atkinson’s work can be found along the west end of 111 avenue. Lana Whiskeyjack and Dale Badger will also be featured in this program. The 45 pieces of work will be displayed from December to May 2016 on 10 billboards, located throughout the city, and on 15 LRT station posters along the
Capital Line. The pieces span a diversity of genres and disciplines including digital media, photography, watercolour, acrylic, drawing, and fine craft. Artworks were chosen from more than 80 submissions. The project was developed by the Edmonton Arts Council in partnership with Pattison Outdoor Advertising. The art will be rotated every two months.
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Tips sought in 11-year Project to look at impact of disappearance of woman loneliness
Eleven years ago on Dec. 9 Maggie Burke, then 21, disappeared north of Edmonton’s downtown. Now, Crimestoppers has erected a billboard on117th Avenue and 95th Street, a block south of where Burke was last seen, hoping it might result in tips. Burke was a sex-trade worker and police suspect foul play. Her mother, Marie Burke, says the billboard makes the family realize Maggie’s disappearance is being taken seriously. Maggie has an 11-year-old daughter. The missing persons unit is currently investigating 83 longterm, or historical files, some dating back to the early 1970s. Missing persons files are classified as long-term after 60 to 90 days have passed.
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A research project spearheaded by NorQuest College and the Edmonton Public Library has received a $239,296 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The “Building a Better Life” research project aims to understand how loneliness and lack of self-esteem impact people’s abilities to interact with others and take advantage of life opportunities. NorQuest College and EPL will use their research to help improve access to education and workforce opportunities for newcomers, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities in the Edmonton region. The study will
take place over a three-year period, with three rounds of data collection in spring 2016, winter 2016-17 and fall 2017. Research will be conducted through focus groups, one-onone interviews and case studies, with a focus on individuals who have successfully overcome various types of marginalization. “As the Councillor for Ward 6, I hear from constituents and see firsthand the damaging effects urban isolation has on individuals, families, and communities,” said Councillor Scott McKeen. “Social connectedness is one of the cornerstones of resiliency and mental health. This important project will provide helpful information to address some of
the complex social challenges we face as a municipality.”
Grandin Murals recognized for “respectful” work The Grandin Murals were recognized with an Award of Merit in the Community category at the Edmonton Urban Design Awards. The work undertaken by lead artist Aaron Paquette, who invited Sylvie Nadeau, the original artist, to contribute to the re-envisioned artworks, was a response to the 1989 mural commissioned by Francophonie Jeunesse de l’Alberta to honour Bishop Vital Grandin. Many within the Aboriginal community felt that the mural’s imagery evoked the troubling history of the residential schools and their
impact on Canadian history. Paquette and Nadeau each created two medicine drums that flank their murals and “speak” across the platform. The panels, illustrating two young men and two young women, symbolize balance and harmony, inviting conversation about, and work of, reconciliation. The jury for the awards said the reworked Grandin Murals “allowed a political dialogue to happen in a creative way” and “other projects should strive to be as respectful.” The 2015 Urban Design Awards recognized public art in Edmonton for its contributions to the city’s built culture.
Compiled by Shari Narine
Work underway commemorate soldier
Tyler Fauvelle works on his sculpture of Francis Pegahmagabow. Born at Shawanaga First Nation, Pegahmagabow was the most highly-decorated First Nations soldier in Canadian history. This will be a life-sized monument to honour his heroic service. It will be located at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts in Parry Sound, Ont., overlooking Wasauksing First Nation (Parry Island), where Pegahmagabow lived his adult years. The bronze will be unveiled on National Aboriginal Day, June 21.
MNO says Ontario Secretariat Act strong move forward
Tyler Fauvelle works on his sculpture of Francis Pegahmagabow
On Dec. 9, Bill 153, the Métis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act, passed with unanimous consent in the Ontario legislature. The MNO Act does not deal with or interfere with the Métis Nation’s internal governance and institutions that are grounded on its inherent rights of self-government and self-determination, but it recognizes and accommodates the MNO Secretariat’s unique status as the corporate arm of the Métis Nation. “Less than two decades ago, we struggled to have the existence of the Métis people and our communities acknowledged by the government of the day, which led to us turning to the courts for recognition and justice. Now, in partnership with the Ontario government, we are witness to this type of recognition legislation being unanimously
passed by a legislature that once put a $5,000 bounty on Louis Riel’s head,” said MNO President Gary Lipinski in a statement. David Zimmer, minister of Aboriginal Affairs, said the legislation illustrated the government’s willingness to strengthen and improve its relationship with the MNO. “The Métis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act will be another step forward on the path to reconciliation,” said Zimmer. Lipinski said the bill is the result of repeated resolutions on the part of the MNO to get such legislation passed.
Chapleau Cree negotiates more land Chapleau Cree First Nation has initialed an agreement to settle a long outstanding Treaty Land Entitlement claim with the governments of Canada and Ontario. The eight-year long negotiation has resulted in the addition of more than 9,100 acres of reserve land in the Chapleau, Ont. area, as well as a significant monetary compensation package to address loss of use. “Although I feel that we negotiated a very good overall settlement under this process, this still falls far short of what we lost as a people. Canada will never be the country it was intended to be until they truly acknowledge the injustice that has been dealt us as a nation and we have real truth and reconciliation,” said Chapleau Cree Chief Keeter Carston in a statement. Chapleau Cree members must now decide whether to proceed with finalizing the deal. A referendum will be held and information packages are being mailed out to all members.
Chamber calls for revenue sharing The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling on the province to create a revenuesharing framework between government and First Nations “to provide certainty surrounding the benefits that these communities will gain from mineral resource development.” The chamber released its report earlier this month encouraging the government to do more in mining development in the province, including in the Ring of Fire. Chamber President Allan O’Dette said the Ring of Fire is critically important, but that this report is also about the broader mining sector, which is worth billions to the province. Other recommendations include
increasing tax credits meant to encourage investment in exploration companies; increasing Ontario’s investment in mining research and innovation; and using ”global demand for Ontario mining expertise” to create new business.
Aboriginal education to be strengthened The Master Education Framework Agreement, recently signed by Education Minister Liz Sandals and Anishinabek Nation chiefs, is a formal agreement for the province and Anishinabek First Nations to collaborate on supporting Indigenous education in onreserve and provincial schools. The goal of the agreement is to help strengthen education on Anishinabek history and culture in schools, bolster strategies for student success and well-being, and support transitions between reserve and provincial schools. The agreement recognizes that the province and First Nations have a joint responsibility to ensure Aboriginal students have the best education possible. “So this is significant in terms of the collaboration that’s planned. With this agreement, we’ll have reciprocal agreements, we’ll take the best of the Anishinabek culture, history, languages, incorporate them with the best practices of provincial schools and create an overall enhanced education system,” said Patrick Madahbee, grand council chief of Anishinabek Nation.
Angeconeb invested into Order of Canada Garnet Angeconeb, a community builder and an advocate for reconciliation, was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada on Nov. 30 and presented with his insignia by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell. As a journalist and former councillor in Sioux Lookout, Angeconeb worked to promote his Anishinabek language and culture, and to foster intercultural dialogue between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal communities. A residential school survivor, he has been involved with both the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, sharing his story of courage and resilience, and serving as an inspiration to survivors across the country. Angeconeb was appointed on Nov. 19, 2012.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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MPs include honouring treaties as part of their oath Two Saskatchewan MPs were among four to recognize in their Oath of Allegiance in Parliament the treaties signed with Indigenous nations. After giving the oath outlined in the Constitution, MPs Georgina Jolibois (DesnethÈ— Missinippi—Churchill River)†and Niki Ashton (Churchill) pledged the following oath: “And, I solemnly affirm that, in the carrying out of my duties, I shall honour and respect the treaties signed with Indigenous Peoples.” Also doing the same were MPs Pierre Nantel (Longueuil— Saint-Hubert) and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—BaieJames—Nunavik—Eeyou). The four MPs were inspired by the 94th recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which proposed that the Oath of Canadian Citizenship be modified to include recognition of the treaties with Indigenous peoples.
Teacher from Sturgeon Lake First Nation up for global prize Belinda Daniels from Sturgeon Lake First Nation is in the running to be named the world’s best teacher. She is one of 50 educators nominated for a $1 million (U.S.) award dubbed ‘the Nobel prize of teaching.’ The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize†recognizes exceptional teachers making an outstanding contribution to the profession who have “transformed young peoples’ lives.” Daniels most recently taught at Mount Royal Collegiate in Saskatoon. Principal Scott Farmer says her “innovative” and “excitable” approach “breaks down barriers” in mixed classes of Indigenous and nonIndigenous students by encouraging them to go beyond the textbook in search of knowledge. Throughout her 15-year teaching career, Daniels has held positions at seven schools, taught at the universities of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and ran a summer camp teaching adults the Cree language. Daniels is currently on a leave of absence to obtain her PhD in interdisciplinary studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Daniels is the only Canadian nominee with 8,000 nominations received from 148 countries. The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will be announced in March.
Black Lake First Nation membership approves hydroelectric project Black Lake First Nation community members have voted to move forward with the
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$630 million 50-MW Tazi Twe hydroelectric project, a joint venture with SaskPower. Of the 44 per cent of eligible voters, 63 per cent voted in favour of the project. “Many people have been working toward this day for many years,” said Chief Rick Robillard, of Black Lake First Nation, “and I’m happy to hear that our community is in support of Black Lake First Nation becoming proud owners in a profitable, long-term business.” The Tazi Twe project is a run-of-river scheme that will be constructed on reserve land. The primary components of the project include a water inlet structure on Black Lake across from Fir Island, a penstock that will provide flow to a powerhouse and a tail race that will return water to the Fond du Lac River near Middle Lake. Review of the project has been completed by the Ministry of Environment, but public consultations still need to take place. An environmental impact statement has been filed with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment Environmental Assessment Branch. Construction could begin in late 2016 or 2017, with a projected in-service date of 2019.
Hales appeal dismissed An appeal by Douglas Hales of his murder conviction in the death of Daleen Bosse has been dismissed by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina. Hales was found guilty of strangling Bosse and burning her body near Martensville in 2004. Last December, he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. The move to appeal Hales’ conviction was based on a Supreme Court judge ruling that a “Mr. Big” sting operation, in which officers†pose as lowlevel criminals to get information, was inadmissible. However, the three appeal court judges said evidence against Hales was overwhelming and not solely due to the “Mr. Big” sting. Hales led undercover officers to Bosse’s body in a stand of trees north of Saskatoon in 2008.
MOU opens new platform for government contracts The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Offset Market Exchange Inc., and the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote Aboriginal business opportunities and Aboriginal employment in Canada. This first-of-its-kind partnership in Canada links Aboriginal-owned businesses to procurement opportunities in the public and private sectors. “By linking our
organizations, we will be able to maximize the opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to compete and win new procurements,” said Nicole Verkindt, president of OMX. OMX is Canada’s platform for government contractors to connect with suppliers and partners, as well as manage and track the economic impacts from their projects with government. OMX and CCAB will also collaborate on research studies, demonstrating the ability and capacity of Aboriginal-owned business to succeed in the global supply chain of defence procurements.
Bear, Pratt recognized with CCAB awards The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and ESS Support Services (a member of Compass Group Canada) have honoured Chief Darcy Bear and entrepreneur Jacob Pratt. The 2016 Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame Lifetime
Achievement Award went to Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear, recognizing him for developing a financial management plan that led to the development of a selfgoverning land code. It enabled the community to sell long-term lease hold interests which resulted in the funds needed to spur development and the creation of a golf course and infrastructure. Jacob Pratt, the founder and creative director of Wambdi, a performance and events company based in Saskatchewan, was the recipient of the 2016 National Youth Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award. Since 2012, Wambdi has been providing high quality and culturally appropriate First Nations music, dance, and event services for corporate functions and in First Nations communities. It also offers workshops and youth training. Both men will be honoured at the CCAB’s annual gala on Feb. 2, in Toronto.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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[ health ]
HIV/AIDS awareness continues, but progress is slow By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
The Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network is spreading awareness about the impact of the disease in the Aboriginal community. Each year, CAAN holds a week-long series of events across Canada inviting key partners, members of parliament, and members of the public, to come to together to engage in discussion around issues faced by those affected by HIV and AIDs, and learn preventative measures. This year the week kicked off in Calgary on Dec. 1, and ended with a breakfast on Parliament Hill. “It’s a special opportunity for leaders in Canada to support the work we do. The theme is ‘Getting to zeroÖ Zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero HIV-related deaths in Canada,” said Ken Clement, CEO for CAAN. “One of the most important things is to bring issues of HIV and AIDs to Aboriginal leadership and Aboriginal communities. Because one of the things that continues in our communities is the stigma and discrimination for those living with HIV and AIDs,” he said. The rate of HIV infection is higher in the Aboriginal population than for nonAboriginal people, and there are a variety of circumstances that contribute to this, according to Clement. “The numbers for our Aboriginal people are 3.6 times higher than other Canadians… When we look at Aboriginal Aids Awareness Week, we need everyone to be part of the prevention, the education, access to care, testing, treatment and support,” he said. Further, issues resulting from the effects of colonization, and systemic and systematic discrimination have also contributed to the problem, as
many Aboriginal people are dealing with the trauma leftover from those. The numbers of people infected by HIV are still increasing, and issues with substance abuse—particularly injection drug use, which is an easy way to contract the disease—are particularly high for Aboriginal people, said Clement. “It’s a combination of challenges that are being faced by people… If someone gets news they are HIV positive, they need support. And it could be in a traditional way or a western way. I think people who are affected need that early intervention and support so they can understand what the treatment is all about,” he said. There are also certain populations that are particularly vulnerable within the Aboriginal community, and CAAN held talks in honor of each group, including children and youth. Speaking on behalf of CAAN and the National Indigenous Youth Council on HIV and AIDs on Dec. 1, Elizabeth Potskin addressed the issues specific to her and her peers. “As a youth myself, I’ve actually encountered and experienced first-hand the youth around my age. They don’t usually listen to older generations… they listen to youth their age, because those youth are going through those experiences,” said Potskin, of why being a voice to and for young people, is so important. “Some of the key issues I touched on were that all of those different sexually transmitted infections and diseases do not discriminate against any type of body… And partying, and alcohol, and drugs, is a big part of it,” she said. To Potskin, alcohol, drugs, and the party culture of young people, leads to a lack of concern about adequate protection, such
as condoms. And this became crystal clear for her this past year, when a good friend was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. While the STI wasn’t AIDs specifically, the friend was emotionally devastated, and it was still enough to make Potskin take her role as a youth representative more seriously. “It totally hit home… and I didn’t come to my home community here in Edmonton, my circle of friends, and talk about these things. And if I did, maybe it would have helped, and maybe that person would not have contracted… she probably would not have made so stupid of a decision,” she said. One of the other vulnerable populations are two-spirited people—the Indigenous phrase used for gay, lesbian or bisexual people. Dave Miller is a twospirit person, who is on the executive board for CAAN, and is also on the executive board with the Canadian Treatment Action Council. Miller was diagnosed nearly five years ago, and found there were limited resources and supports to help him come to terms with his diagnosis. “I made a promise to myself and to everyone that was affected by HIV that I would do everything possible to help out our Aboriginal people, because I had a rough time in my early diagnosis… I didn’t know a lot about HIV and I started abusing drugs and alcohol and isolated myself, and had a couple suicide attempts,” said Miller, who now wishes to prevent others from experiencing the same difficulty he did. “I basically want to bring back as much information as I can to the communities I work in, around HIV and stigma and discrimination… HIV is not a death sentence, and I find a lot of healing in myself in helping others,” he said.
Health Watch Compiled by Shari Narine Partnership to help with high cost of food Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Lac Seul First Nation and Creewest GP Inc. (a for-profit corporation owned by First Nations in the northeast) have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a food distribution and logistics centre in Sioux Lookout to better provide food to northern communities. The plan calls for a new warehouse hangar to be built at the airport in Sioux Lookout, which would include refrigerated storage and act as both the transport hub for shipping food north and the business centre for processing orders and transactions. The initial goal is to reduce the cost of groceries in northern communities by 40 per cent. First Nations would be responsible for procuring the food, while Creewest would handle the logistics of transporting the goods from the proposed warehouse to the communities, said Ron Basaraba, CEO of Creewest. Funding for the project will come from Creewest’s own capital, as well as a variety of sources, such as the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, FedNor, and the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund. Creewest would own 51 per cent of the project and member First Nations would own 49 per cent. It is hoped the project will be operating within a year.
Economic downturn pushes food bank use Food bank use has increased for the second consecutive year, and continues to hover at record levels, according to a national study released this month by Food Banks Canada. The HungerCount 2015 report shows that 852,137 people – 305,366 of them children – accessed a food bank in March this year. Food bank use is 1.3 per cent higher than in 2014, and 26 per cent higher than in 2008, when the economic downturn started. This means that 175,000 more people each month are seeking assistance, compared to 2008. The national increase was strongly influenced by Alberta, where food bank use rose by a shocking 23 per cent in the past year. Food bank operators in Alberta, including those on First Nations, say usage has grown even more since the March 2015 calculation.
AIDS/HIV still hold stigma Organizers for National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week say stigma and discrimination still have an impact and were felt at the kick-off event in Calgary on Dec. 1. “The invitation was sent to all of the chiefs … and I think we have two chiefs from throughout the province,” said Ken Clement, CEO for the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. “It’s a commentary that, I think, needs to be said. That’s part of the stigma and discrimination as experienced by our leadership. Stigma and not understanding what HIV is about. (It) is important for us to share with our leadership to be able to change their minds. Our leadership needs to understand that HIV is preventable.” The numbers of HIVinfected Aboriginal people continue to increase. According to Public Health Agency of Canada figures, it is estimated that 9.1 per cent of Aboriginal people were living with HIV/ AIDS in Canada in 2014, which represents an increase of 12.1 per cent from the 2011 estimate. Workshops were held throughout the week in Ottawa, Regina, Montreal, Winnipeg and Halifax.
Housing conditions impact Inuit children’s health
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A new Statistics Canada report compared the health of 1,233 Inuit children age two to five to physical housing characteristics like overcrowding, a parent’s reported satisfaction with their housing and home ownership, and determined a family’s lower satisfaction rate in living conditions and lack of home ownership are related to poor physical and mental health in the children. It was the first study of its kind to use a population-based sample of children under six years old to look at various aspects of housing and children’s health outcomes. The report shows more than a third of Inuit children age two to five live in crowded homes and close to 30 per cent live in homes in need of major repair compared to their nonAboriginal counterparts at less than seven per cent and eight per cent, respectively. Inuit children whose parents reported lower levels of housing satisfaction had more chronic and respiratory conditions, ear infections, inattention hyperactivity and emotional symptoms. Anna Banerji, director of Global and Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto, says more than housing conditions factor into a child’s health, including poverty and poor nutrition.
Sports Briefs By Sam Laskaris Blackwater Now Toiling In Slovakia Judd Blackwater’s professional hockey career continues to take him to various parts of the world. Blackwater, a 28-year-old forward who is from the Blood Tribe in Alberta, is a much travelled player who has suited up for 12 different squads during his pro career. This year alone Blackwater has already played for two teams. He began the season with Feverhar AV19, a Hungarian-based club that competes in Austria’s top pro circuit. But after appearing in just seven matches with that squad, Blackwater moved on to join HK Nitra, a team that participates in the Slovakian pro league. The club plays its home contests in the city of Nitra. Blackwater was averaging a point per game with HK Nitra, having earned 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his first dozen appearances. The majority of those on the HK Nitra side are from Slovakia. The club’s roster includes 43year-old Jozef Stumpel, a native of Nitra who appeared in a total of 1,012 NHL contests during his career. For Blackwater, this is not his first season toiling overseas. He had spent the 2013-14 campaign with a Slovenian-based club that plays in the Austrian league. Blackwater returned to North America last season where he starred with the California-based Ontario Reign in the East Coast Hockey League. He was the top scorer for the Reign, racking up 63 points, including 35 goals in 59 contests. He then added 16 points in 14 playoff matches. Blackwater has been frequently on the move since his final junior season with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs. He began the 2008-09 campaign by playing for the University of Lethbridge. But after just four games he decided to embark on a pro career. That season he played for four teams, two in the East Coast Hockey League and two in the American Hockey League.
Communities Host Alumni Games A pair of Aboriginal communities in Ontario are gearing up to welcome some former National Hockey League players. For starters, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ alumni squad will square off against players from the Moose Cree First Nation. This contest will be held in Moose Factory on Jan. 16 at the Thomas Cheechoo Jr. Memorial Complex. General admission tickets for that match are $20 each, but $100 VIP tickets are also available. These tickets will include a meet and greet and autograph reception with the former pros, as well as a seat to the game. And on March 5 another alumni contest, primarily featuring Aboriginal players who made it to the NHL, will be held at the Anowarakowa Arena in Akwesasne. Among those taking part in this match will be Bryan Trottier, a seven-time Stanley Cup champion. Trottier won four league championships as a member of the New York Islanders. He then won two more titles playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And he added a seventh title when he was an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche. Others taking part will be the father-son tandem of Reggie and Jamie Leach. Reggie was a member of the 1975 Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers, while his son won backto-back league crowns with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. Other former Aboriginal pros expected to take part are Stan Jonathan, Chris Simon, Sandy McCarthy, John Chabot, Denny Lambert and Aaron Asham. Advance tickets for this contest are $20 each.
Starring In Alberta League Wyatt Noskey has taken his game to another level in his final season of junior eligibility. The 20-year-old forward, who is from the Peavine Metis Settlement in northern Alberta, is starring with the Olds Grizzlys, a Junior A team. The Grizzlys compete in the 16-squad Alberta Junior Hockey League. Noskey, who is in his third AJHL season, has already established career high for both goals and points as he was averaging more than a point per contest. Through his first 30 games with the Olds side, he had accumulated 36 points, including 16 goals. Noskey had scored 12 goals in each of his first two seasons in the AJHL. He had 23 points in 56 matches during his rookie season, 2013-14, with the Bonnyville Pontiacs. And then last year, when he was a member of the Drumheller Dragons, he earned 32 points in 60 contests. Noskey, who had finished ninth and fifth in team scoring, respectively, during his first two AJHL seasons, is now one of the Grizzlys’ go-to guys. He was second in team scoring, three points out of the top spot.
[ sports ]
Young player chosen for tourney in Russia
Samuel Assinewai By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
AUNDECK OMNI KANING, Ont.
Though he’s just 11, Samuel Assinewai is gearing up to represent Canada in an international hockey competition. Assinewai, who is Ojibwe, was selected to represent his country at the inaugural Russian World Hockey Challenge. The tournament will be held in Moscow from May 5 to May 9. This event will include teams with players born between 2001 through 2005. Assinewai, a Grade 6 student at Little Current Public School on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island, will play for one of the two Canadian entrants featuring players born in 2004. Assinewai, who has an April birthday and will turn 12 before the tournament, is understandably pumped to participate in the Russian event. “I’m excited,” he said. But the youngster, who lives on the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, is not quite sure of what to expect in terms of the calibre of play at the tournament. “I’ll see how the first game goes,” he said. Assinewai is currently a member of the Sudbury-based Nickel City Sons’ Minor Peewee AAA squad. This marks his first season of playing in the AAA ranks, the highest level of competition in youth hockey. Playing in Sudbury is a huge commitment. The youngster travels to Sudbury, a return trip can take as much as four hours, an average of five times per week. Assinewai usually has two games per week with the
Samuel Assinewai meets Reggie Leach ( right)
Sudbury squad, as well as two practices and one dryland training session. A Toronto-based company called CAD Sports Management is helping to organize the Canadian entrants for the Russian tournament. Officials with the company scouted and consulted with various AAA coaches to find the best prospective players for the Canadian entrants. The 2004 age grouping will include two teams from Canada. Assinewai will be on a squad with players from across Ontario and Quebec. There will also be another Canadian side for this age grouping, comprised of players from western provinces. CAD Sports Management officials compiled a list of 100 possible players for the two teams of 2004-born players. Company officials then sent out invitations in November to 34 individuals, those deemed to be in the Top 17 of each squad. “We had no idea about this (tournament),” said Assinewai’s father Shaun. “It was kind of a surprise to us when we did hear about it.” The elder Assinewai was not told where CAD Sports Management officials saw his son in action. But the Nickel City Sons did compete in a Toronto tournament in November. It remains to be seen, however, how many of those players, believed to be among the Top 17 for their squad, will accept the invite to compete in the Russian tournament. That’s because participants need to pay a hefty cost in order to take part. The family of each Canadian player is required to pay a fee of close to $7,000 (U.S.), which works out to about $10,000 Canadian these days. The fee will include 11 days of
hotel costs, transportation, sightseeing tours and team activities. Each club is guaranteed to play six matches in the tournament. If some of the 17 players chosen for the squad opt not to take part, then organizers will extend invites to others on the Top 100 list until a full roster is set. Despite the costs associated with competing in the tournament, Assinewai’s family agreed to have him play. “I think it’s a great opportunity and a great experience,” said Shaun Assinewai. The registration fee allows one parent to travel with each competing player. Samuel’s mother Lauren is also keen to make the trip. Since both parents will be attending, the family has to pay an additional $2,700. Shaun Assinewai is anxiously anticipating the games against Russian clubs. “From watching Russia versus Canada games at any level, I think it’s going to be exciting,” he said. “To me the top nations in hockey have always been Russia and Canada.” Assinewai believes the exposure his son receives at the Russian tournament could possibly lead to other opportunities. If he does play well, his son could be asked to join a squad for some prestigious spring or summer tournaments. “Maybe somebody will see him and this will lead him to play in some of the AAA tournaments in Toronto,” he said. The Assinewai name is well known in the Aboriginal hockey community. That’s because Samuel’s grandfather Marvin is the president of the Little Native Hockey League Tournament – more commonly known as the Little NHL – which is held annually.
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[ education ]
Mental illness, access to guns drive murdersuicides by men: UBC study UBC nursing researcher John Oliffe has been studying men’s health for more than 20 years, focusing on the mental and physical challenges experienced by men in modern society. His most recent study focused on murder-suicides in North America and how these cases are linked to traditional masculine ideals and identities. What got you interested in this topic? One thing that struck me in my research is why most cases of murders followed by suicide have been committed by men. It’s a long-standing, but not fully understood men’s health issue. I wanted to understand why it’s always men who commit these acts, what drives them to do so, and ultimately gain some insights on how we can quell something that is occurring all too often right now. What cases did you include in your research? We searched North American article databases, going back to 1989 through 2013, and eventually zeroed in on 45 murder-suicide cases reported during that period. There were 32 U.S. cases and 13 Canadian cases. Many made major headlines: the Santa suit killer in Grapevine, Texas; the Columbine High, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook shootings; and in Canada, the shootings at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. These men took other people’s lives—their spouses, families, co-workers, supervisors, fellow students or teachers—before taking their own lives, and guns were often their weapon of choice. You found a few key themes running through these murdersuicides. Common to most murdersuicides were mental illness and access to guns. Also prevalent were male perpetrators failing to achieve markers of masculine success oftentimes amid experiencing bullying or marginalization. Within this context the key findings were: Domestic desperation— where the men felt they were unable to provide economic security for their family and the future was bleak—was the most common, representing 27 cases. Nine murder-suicides centred on workplace justice. The men had lost or were about to lose their jobs, or felt they were bullied or marginalized at work. School retaliation was represented in another nine cases. These were men, often young men, who wanted payback on real or imagined
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bullying and other injustices. But women experience crises and hardship too. Why is it that most murders and murdersuicides are committed by men? Our research suggested that masculine identities and how they are informed by society and taken up by some men plays an important part in these violent acts. Men are expected to be competitive and assert power. It’s considered OK for guys to be aggressive, even to lose control or lose their temper—we pay to watch that in sports and in movies. You rarely see that behaviour depicted for women or idealized as feminine. The other thing is that mental illness plays a part in many of these cases. It is hard to know the actual extent, because in a lot of cases there wasn’t an established pattern of mental illness. And that might be because the men weren’t really seeing a doctor or formally diagnosed and being treated. Women tend to be more connected and oriented to the health care system. What changes would you like to see happen based on your findings? We need to better diagnose mental illness in men and to support these individuals better. Men can be reluctant to go to the doctor, or they don’t know how to get seen by a specialist in mental health. So targeted men’s mental health services are important. Supporting men’s mental health in the workplace is key and this should include strategies to help them adapt to constant changes in skill sets and the labour force in general. In terms of depression and suicidal behaviours, my colleague, UBC psychiatry professor John Ogrodniczuk has developed an online resource, www.headsupguys.ca, for men at risk for or experiencing these mental health challenges. The project was developed thanks to funding from the Movember Foundation and it gives guys a roadmap for understanding what’s going on with them and practical information on what to do about it. On a policy level, I believe restrictions on gun ownership are a central piece in stopping this epidemic of murder-suicides by men. Firearms were used in all the cases we reviewed, and guns have long been closely linked to masculinity. Yet research across different countries shows that the fewer guns there are in civilian hands, the lower the rates for murders, suicides, and murder-suicides.
UBC nursing researcher John Oliffe
The Nickle Galleries of the University of Calgary is hosting a new exhibit entitled Games for Life: Canadian Inuit Prints and Carvings. The exhibition invites viewers to reconsider the balance of work and play in their lives, and reminds us that it’s OK, even necessary, to have fun. The exhibit is curated by Chelsea Rushton, working with prints and carvings from the collection of the Nickle Galleries. It opens Dec. 18 and runs to January 31. The Nickle Galleries are located in the first two levels of the Taylor Family Digital Library on the University of Calgary campus. For more information, visit http://nickle.ucalgary.ca/
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Gil Cardinal Filmmaker wanted nothing less than the truth By Dianne Meili
“Today, it’s important to look Indian, to be Metis.” With these words, Gil Cardinal narrates how he feels about meeting a blood relative for the first time in his autobiographical documentary Foster Child. The 1987 internationallyacclaimed self-portrait records his heartrending journey to find his Aboriginal roots and birth family. After 35 years of living in the white world, raised in a nonAboriginal foster family, Cardinal is finally wondering about his childhood; why he’s so detached and so guarded as an adult. He knows nothing of his early life, and chafes while a child welfare worker thumbs through a two-inch file, unwilling to give him details beyond his mother’s name and the fact she had problems with alcohol. “Please do not protect me,” he tells her when she hesitates to divulge more, worried she will reveal information that will upset him. Adhering to government policy, she deprives him of important life details “to protect other people involved.” “Foster Child is groundbreaking,” said Bill Evans, executive director of AMPIA (Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association). “The film is at the forefront in the personal style Cardinal used to make it. It paved the way for so many filmmakers to track their own personal history in such an intimate way. And this was back in 1987, when residential school and the social issues and broken homes it created were pretty well yet unknown.” Perhaps the early factwithholding that Cardinal experienced as a foster child informed the rest of his career to reveal the truth about issues in his life – things that he struggled with – and other subjects many were unwilling to tackle. “He was passionate about exposing sensitive issues in our communities and he came to me with the idea for Blackstone a long time ago,” said fellow director Ron E. Scott, who would eventually lead the
brooding Blackstone television series in a five-season run. “I asked him how he wanted me to proceed. He said he just wanted me to tell the truth about what’s happening on reserves,” Scott explained. “He comes from film, and saw Blackstone as a two-hour movieof-the-week. I said it needed the “long narrative” treatment of a television series for the truth to be properly told. The script sat for a year. Finally, we got together on it; eight or nine drafts later we had Blackstone as a T.V. series. “Sometimes he walked out on me and was mad as hell. In the end though, he told me Blackstone became much more than he could have ever imagined. It stands up there with many of the projects he made that have impacted the nation.” Born in Edmonton, Cardinal graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s radio and television arts program. In his twenties, he began a long affiliation with the National Film Board of Canada as a freelance director, researcher, writer and editor. His first film for the NFB was Children of Alcohol in 1983, dealing with the effects of parental alcoholism on teenaged children. He scored a hit with Foster Child, winning a Gemini for best documentary director in 1988. It was a success on the festival circuit and was broadcast on CBC’s Man Alive series. In 1987, Cardinal made Keyanaw Tatuskhatamak, about the struggle for self-government in a remote northern Alberta community. His other NFB films include 1990’s The Spirit Within, about cultural and spiritual programs in prisons, and David with F.A.S. in 1997, dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome. His television documentary for CBC, Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis, followed the standoff between the federal government and the Mohawks of Kanesatake. In 1998 Cardinal directed the CBC miniseries Big Bear, based on the historical novel about the leader by Rudy
Gil Cardinal honoured by Dreamspeakers in 2006
Wiebe, starring Gordon Tootoosis and Tantoo Cardinal. Cardinal’s forays into television include directing episodes of the popular North of 60 and The Rez. In 2003 his feature-length documentary Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole was screened at the Toronto Film Festival. It told the story of a cultural icon that had been missing from an Indigenous community for 60 years. Discovered in a Swedish museum, the government was unwilling to return it until the film impacted the people of Sweden to push for the totem pole’s return. “Though Gil was quiet, his films said so much,” wrote close friend and NFB producer Bonnie Thompson in an e-mail to Windspeaker. “His documentaries were seen in
festivals, on television, at screenings in communities, youth centres, in prisons and in classrooms. It would be impossible to know how many thousands of people they touched over the years and how they effected changes in many lives. This was especially true for Aboriginal people who had seen themselves and their issues so misrepresented in media previously, before the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples in 1995 or the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” According to Scott, Cardinal struggled sometimes, but it’s important he be remembered as the trailblazer he was. “Without Gil, my career would not have progressed. Aboriginal actors and crews would not have auditioned for Blackstone. And because of
Blackstone, doors will now open for younger Aboriginal directors. Gil started a chain of empowerment that’s ongoing and will continue into the future.” Cardinal, 65, died on Nov. 21 after a long illness. In his memory, a group of Edmonton filmmakers have created the Gil Cardinal Legacy Fund, approved by him, to assist emerging Indigenous filmmakers wishing to produce a demo for their first film, drama or documentary. “Gil was so powerful, yet so unassuming,” commented former Senator Thelma Chalifoux. “I loved him for the pride he had in his heritage. He is and always will be a strong representation of Canada’s Aboriginal people, and a role model to them.”
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