Volume 33 No. 12 • March 2016
Heiltsuk Nation takes lead role in future of Great Bear Page 6
Open, respectful, safe inquiry is the expectation Page 7
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Bitter weather limits participation in Strawberry Ceremony Community marches for missing and murdered women and girls in Toronto on Valentine’s Day 2016. See full coverage on page 8.
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Windspeaker • Established 1983
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Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA)
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Fox hopes Canada will settle “omission” of duty
Harvey Strosberg said Canada insisted First Nations go through the government rather than deal directly with oil and gas companies, and Canada failed to protect First Nations’ interests. Now Canada will have to pay.
Two Indigenous men killed in Toronto
Toronto’s Indigenous community is mourning the loss of two young men who were killed in two separate incidents within the space of two weeks. Quinn Taylor was 29, and Kiowa Wind McComb was 20 years old.
Families deeply traumatized by pre-inquiry, says participant
Deborah Ginnish knows the importance of having families listened to before the federal government undertakes the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
Treaty 1 explored through art and artifact
The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new curatorial resident of Indigenous and Contemporary Art has found a unique way to draw attention to the discussion around treaty territories and land claims.
Work to continue despite appeals on natural gas storage pond 11 Sipekne’katik First Nation has filed an appeal with Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment claiming the province “failed to accommodate and engage in deep and meaningful consultation” before granting industrial approval to AltaGas Ltd. for the operation of the Alton natural gas storage pond project in Sipekne’katik traditional territory.
Departments [ windspeaker briefs ] 9 [ provincial news ] 12 - 21 [ alberta sweetgrass ] 14 - 19 [ health ] 22 [ sports ] 23 [ education ] 24 - 26 [ footprints ] John Trudell 27 Lakota activist and poet John Trudell said that when he buried his wife and three children, he became the earth that received them. His family, along with his mother-in-law, died in a house fire he maintained to his death was set by the FBI in 1979 to silence him and AIM, the American Indian Movement.
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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 Saskatchewan Sage — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Saskatchewan Raven's Eye — The Aboriginal Newspaper of British Columbia Ontario Birchbark — The Aboriginal Newspaper of Ontario
Accord binds B.C. and Tsilhqot’in in forwardthinking relationship By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
The Tsilhqot’in First Nation is one step closer to reconciliation, at least in regards to the provincial government of British Columbia. The Nation and the province reached an accord Feb. 11 with the signing of an official declaration to work together over the next five years towards realization of the Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision,
the first to recognize Aboriginal title over wide swaths of territory. Premier Christy Clark made a special appearance to sign the Nenqay Deni Accord (the People’s Accord), joining John Rustad, minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and chiefs Roger Williams and Joe Alphonse. “This dates back to the Supreme Court decision from June 2014, but the history with the nation goes back even farther…We’ve had, for more
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than 150 years, various levels of friction and conflict,” said Rustad. “So we entered into a Letter of Understanding in September of 2014 which committed us to working towards a framework for negotiations. And as we went through the next 18 months of discussions, we went back and forth and entered into smaller agreements… culminating in entering into this new accord,” he said. Rustad refers to a land claim issue that arose in 2014 as a key breaking point for the province and Tsilhqot’in. It was then that the real discussions started. “One piece of the accord is to work through with the Tsilhqot’in over the five-year period, trying to address additional lands and how that governance will be structured,” said Rustad. “What we have committed, is that we will do shared decision-making on the
land-base, and try to build consensus for activities that will be happening on their territory.” Both the province and the Tsilhqot’in have identified eight specific “pillars” they want to address, including Tsilhqot’in culture and language, children and families, healthy communities, justice, education and training, and economic development, land and resources. Tsilhqot’in Chief Alphonse is happy with the agreement, but feels there is still more work to be done. “We want to be independent, and get where we were precontact with Europeans… When we relied on the natural resources from our territory to enable us to be independent,” he said, adding that he still points to the hanging of the Tsilhqot’in war chiefs in 1864 as an indication of the unfair trials and tribulations his people have had to go through with the federal
government. That year, five chiefs were executed in Quesnel, and a sixth was executed the year after in New Westminster. Then, in retaliation, Tsilhqot’in warriors lit New Westminster on fire, and burned part of it to the ground, he said. So while that initial message to the government from the Tsilhqot’in was clear—and even resulted in an early land claims victory for them—it was breached by the government years later, said Alphonse, contributing to the ongoing conflict between the two parties. “This is only B.C. We also now have to point our arrows at Canada...” he said. “Harper didn’t want to deal with us, but with Justin Trudeau, we are optimistic, we are happy, and we are encouraged. We hope the province will help us find innovative ways to bring Canada to our table,” said Alphonse.
What is Canada's obligation? “If Canada can’t bring First World Canada to all the communities within its borders, does it deserve those borders?” This statement by APTN host Michael Hutchinson, as part of the Feb. 23rd segment of The Laughing Drum, provides some interesting grist for the proverbial mill. Hutchinson and his panel of Indigenous comedians were discussing some of the inane, shallow and badly researched perspectives offered up by Maclean’s columnist Scott Gilmore. Gilmore, husband of MP Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change, opined in two columns, not one, that northern Indigenous people should be helped to move from their home territories to southern cities where the roads are paved with opportunity for all. Gilmore wrote that communities, such as La Loche, Sask., which suffered terrible tragedy when a young man took four lives in a mass shooting in the community, will always be far more disadvantaged compared to larger cities in the south and “the single most effective step they can take to immediately improve their health, education, safety and income is to leave” home. Of course, we’d like to mention as an argument to that perspective, Canada purposely disadvantages these communities by ongoing underfunding in areas such as health, education and safety. And provide as an example the Feb. 24th Nishnawbe Aski Nation declaration of a public health emergency, in part, for what has been described as a “dire shortage of basic medical supplies” in their northern communities. A nursing station runs out of oxygen while treating a woman in respiratory distress; two four-year-old children die because of rheumatic fever caused by treatable strep throat. Still, Gilmore’s contention is that an exodus from the north will “end the culture of isolation, despair and violence that has
plagued Canada’s remote north since before there was a Canada.” We think Gilmore is blinded by the view from his southern city ivory tower and would benefit from a unescorted stroll round some select southern city neighborhoods, like perhaps in greater Toronto—where we lost two promising Indigenous men to violence in a three-week period this year—or maybe Winnipeg, where they drag the Red River for the remains of missing Indigenous women. Or Thunder Bay, perhaps, where Indigenous people might expect to have things thrown at them by people in passing cars, or so we have been told by inquest witnesses into the deaths of seven Indigenous high school students who moved to that city for their education. Patty Hajdu, MP for Thunder Bay— Superior North, said “It’s appalling, it’s ashaming for my community, but for our country as well, that Indigenous†young people who come to Thunder Bay to study are subjected to racism that includes things like people flinging things out of cars at them or demeaning hate speech that they face.” Maybe Thunder Bay is too far north. Perhaps we should be draining that whole city into Gilmore’s neighborhood. Regardless, it’s clear that southern cities aren’t the haven for Indigenous people that Gilmore thinks they are. It is our contention (and it seems to be the opinion of Hutchinson, as well) that the better argument in advocating for the improved lives of Indigenous people in remote and isolated areas is that it is far more sensible to adequately resource their communities so that the people can stay in their historical homelands. This all boils down, however, to the real question at the root of the Gilmore comments. If we might paraphrase Hutchinson, the honest and uncomfortable question being raised by the columns is, ‘Is Canada obliged to bring First World Canada to all the communities within its borders? Windspeaker
Publisher’s Statement - Bert Crowfoot Thirty three years ago, on March 18, 1983, we published the very first issue of AMMSA/ Windspeaker. Over the course of 33 years we have seen many changes in the publishing industry, some positive and others not so positive. We’ve gone from typesetting our content on typesetters the size of freezers to smaller more efficient desktop publishing. Then came the internet and social media… Now most people get their news from their mobile devices via news sites, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Not very many people read physical newspapers anymore, with the exception of older generation. There is this need for speed and one of the casualties of this need has been good journalism. I see so many stories that are shared without checking all sources. Stories that are not objective and unbiased. I was a guest instructor at a Indigenous media class a few years ago and I saw many young people that were passionate about the news. Maybe too passionate, because they wanted to right all the wrongs that had ever been committed to our people. I love their passion, but they were activists and not journalists… We need both, but our people need good journalists to give balance to the stories they read, hear or watch. I also saw a couple of students who became excellent journalists and went on to work in
mainstream media. We have gone through many changes over the years. In 1990 the federal government cut the Native Communications Program and nine out of 11 Native newspapers ceased to publish. Windspeaker and Wawatay kept publishing and AMMSA began publishing provincial publications such as Alberta Sweetgrass, BC Raven’s Eye, Saskatchewan Sage and Ontario Birchbark. We managed to survive 26 years after those funding cuts… But as costs rose over the years and advertising declined, we started incorporating these provincial publications into Windspeaker. Windspeaker is not alone in this as news in the mainstream is about how Postmedia, Rogers and other publications are shutting down or laying off staff. Now we’ve reached the point where this next issue of Windspeaker will be the last hard copy publication we print and will instead focus on online and digital publishing. We are simply changing delivery methods. By going online, we will continue to provide stories that adhere to good journalistic principles and also save printing and mailing costs. Our original slogan when we printed our first edition of Windspeaker, was “A New Dawn in Aboriginal communications.” After 33 years, we are facing another new dawn.
[ rants and raves ]
Page 5 Chatter The federal government will not appeal a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found Canada discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding child welfare services on reserves. The government made the announcement Feb. 22. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the ruling demonstrates the present system is failing, which is unacceptable in this day and age. “We believe that this decision is pointing us in the right direction, as a country, and we will not seek a judicial review of the decision. This is part of the new relationship and spirit of reconciliation that our government is committed to.”
An Ontario Provincial Police officer demonstrated ignorance of treaty relationships and rights when he pulled Nigigoonsimikinkaaning First Nation Chief Will Windigo over for having a quartered moose in his truck, he said, and that disturbed him more than the aggressive treatment of the officer against his hunting party. Windigo said his truck was pulled over last fall, but the officer was unaware Treaty 3 members have hunting rights within the entire 142,000square-kilometre territory. Although Windigo was able to produce his treaty card, he doesn’t have a Possession Acquisition License on principle, he told a Thunder Bay newspaper. “I basically told the officer, ‘I understand what your position is. You have a job to do, but you guys need to be more educated as to knowing the rights holders you’re dealing with. You guys have to know about our treaties,’ and he really wasn’t willing to listen to that,” Windigo said. There were no charges laid, but Windigo contacted OPP in Fort Frances, 40 kilometres west of his community, reports the paper. He urged police leadership to assist their officers to understand provincial laws and Indigenous rights.
Greenpeace is supporting the Waswanipi Cree Nation, as well as scientists and environmental organizations, as they urge Premier Philippe Couillard to protect the last pristine forest on Cree ancestral territory. Greenpeace said proposed logging roads and clearcuts, currently under government review, threaten more than 113,000 hectares of forest, south of the Broadback River. “The roads and logging in the Broadback endangered forest are direct threats to the Cree way of life, to the survival of the woodland caribou, and to the integrity of one of Quebec’s last great forests,” said Nicolas Mainville, forest campaigner at Greenpeace. “The Cree have waited long enough. We now ask Mr. Couillard to act by July 2016 in order to protect this extraordinary forest once and for all.” The road construction project is backed by five logging companies, including Resolute Forest Products and Eacom Timber Corporation, and is being evaluated by the Environmental and Social Impact Review Committee (COMEX), presided by Mr. André Boisclair, reads a press release. Greenpeace submitted a report to the COMEX demonstrating that authorizing this project, without community support, would have major environmental impacts on Waswanipi ancestral territory, and would seriously undermine the credibility of the committee’s public consultations.
Katzie First Nation and the City of Pitt Meadows in B.C. have created three historic agreements over the page 18 months that focus on communications protocols and the provision of water, sewer, and fire protection services. The process began with the intention of replacing expired service agreements. The communities crafted the new service agreements, and strengthened their relationship by participation in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) First Nations - Municipal Community Infrastructure Partnership Program.
Patty Hajdu, MP for Thunder Bay, Ont., said First Nation students arriving in the city to attend school are made to feel less welcome than refugees or other minorities arriving to the city. “It’s appalling, it’s ashaming for my community, but for our country as well, that Indigenous young people who come to Thunder Bay to study are subjected to racism that includes things like people flinging things out of cars at them or demeaning hate speech that they face,” Hajdu said. An inquest is currently underway into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay. Witnesses have described racist treatment in the city.
The Métis Nation-BC and the Adoptive Families Association of BC signed a memorandum of understanding Feb. 9 to help find permanent homes for Métis children and youth currently in the care in the province. There are more than 4,000 Aboriginal children and youth in care, including more than 1,000 Métis children, reads a press statement. The MOU wants to safely reduce this number while supporting these children in their families, extended families, kin, neighborhoods, and communities. By “combining our efforts and experience to focus on Métis children and helping to find them permanent homes is tremendously valuable in MNBC’s work on behalf of Métis children in British Columbia,” said Métis Nation-BC Children and Families Minister Daniel Pitman. The organizations will collaborate on programming and services intended to support Métis and non-Métis families who plan to adopt Métis children. “The ability to provide support services that are sensitive to the needs of Métis children and their families is important for ensuring permanency for children and youth. It also builds stability for the families who provide that permanence,” said Karen Madeiros, the Adoptive Families Association executive director.
[ news ]
Heiltsuk Nation takes lead role in future of Great Bear By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
BELLA BELLA, B.C.
B.C. Coastal First Nations have taken on a critical role in the future of the Great Bear Rainforest, which covers a landbase twice the size of Vancouver Island. On Feb. 1, the province announced a comprehensive agreement that will protect 85 per cent of the forest land base, while the remaining 550,000 hectares will be subject to the most stringent, science-based commercial logging standards in North America. “It is structured specifically to allow for a viable forest industry,” ForestEthics Solutions spokesperson Valerie Langer told Windspeaker. “They have reduced the total amount [of harvest] and First Nations get a bigger piece of the pie.” Calling it “globally significant,” Langer said the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement actually consists of 26 separate agreements between the province, First
Nations, forest companies and environmental organizations. “When you look at the land use objectives that have been signed into law, the whole first section of the new logging rules is First Nations cultural values. So this is dramatically different from how forestry has operated across the province.” Heiltsuk First Nation has taken a leading role in bringing the agreement to fruition, and the new rules are already playing out at the ground level, according to William Housty of Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department. “We have working agreements with all the forest companies in our territory,” Housty said. “It’s through them we are able to increase our access to free-use wood, to cultural wood, for major projects like our Big House.” Housty said, unlike many of the smaller Nations, Heiltsuk has been fortunate to have a large resource management department, including a full-time forester, at its disposal throughout the process. “We have been able to focus
exclusively on developing these land-use objectives. We have been able to sit at every table, travel to every meeting and have a voice at every venue.” All told, Heiltsuk Coastal Forest Products has gained access to an additional 235,000 cubic metres (cm3) of timber plus a forest license of 50,000 cm3 to complete its Big House project. As well, the Nation will receive $150,000 in Targeted Training Funds over the next three years. “We are quite happy with the ground we have been able to gain, coming out of the previous round [of negotiations] in 2009. We’re looking forward to implementing these objectives now.” Housty said Heiltsuk has had the right to harvest wood for cultural purposes as part of its traditional rights and title. But actually extracting selected timber suitable for creating large projects, such as canoes, totem poles or longhouses, can prove extremely difficult unless it is accomplished as part of a larger harvesting operation. “That’s one of the key components of our agreements
with the forest companies, is that they assist us with access to cultural wood in terms of moving the wood into the water, or transport by boat. “As part of the agreements, we have boatloads of Heiltsuk people taken out to the sites where they are roadbuilding – where trees have been fallen for roadbuilding purposes. [Heiltsuk crews] can harvest cedar from that. It’s been a very big increase in access to cedar of all types, whether it is the bark or the tree itself. We’ve been able to leverage that into our agreements quite well.” Historically, a lot of yellow cedar has been felled in roadbuilding operations on the B.C. Coast, Housty noted. Because it is considered a lowvalue species for milling, much of that wood has been wasted over the years. Culturally, however, yellow cedar is of immense value. Gaining access to this oncemarginalized resource has been a major bonus for Heiltsuk, Housty said. Langer emphasized that this
sort of cooperation is key to the agreement. “The rules are structured so that forest companies are able to get out a particular wood flow. So there is less logging, but it is structured to be more operable, so that everybody walks away with the possibility that what they are most interested in can happen: business and First Nations having shared opportunities on their land base, and environmentalists knowing that the forests, and the species within them, will be healthy.” In a Feb. 1 news release, Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett said Heiltsuk and its neighburing Nations have a major challenge ahead in both implementing the agreements and monitoring the operations that flow from them at the ground level. But Slett said Heiltsuk is up to the challenge. “The agreement on the land use order is an important milestone in self-determination. We are looking forward to a very productive relationship with the province,” Slett said.
[ news ]
Open, respectful, safe inquiry is the expectation By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
OTTAWA The national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls must be respectful to family members and loved ones and give them enough time to speak. That has been the “primary conversation,” said Dawn LavellHarvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “We made it very clear in moving forward with the actual inquiry that the families would absolutely have that safe space and just make sure their story is heard and that they will have the time.” Families who spoke at the preinquiry meetings felt frustrated and rushed, she says, both in the time they were given to tell their stories and in the time they had to prepare. But they accepted the limitations knowing that more was to come. Seventeen pre-inquiry meetings were held from early December through to mid-February. Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett attended them all, while Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody WilsonRaybould and Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu were in attendance at many. Bennett says it was important that the ministers listen. “I think what we heard from the families across the country is that this is very important to them that they get to speak directly to the people who hopefully will be able to make the changes necessary to stop this tragedy,” she said. Lavell-Harvard agrees. “It was important that the three ministers responsible for this process really understand … the depth of the problem, the breadth
PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says the national inquiry must fully examine systemic issues that lead to murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. of the problem,” she said. Now the ministers will take what they heard from the preinquiry meetings and determine the scope of the inquiry; who should be part of the commission; who will participate in the inquiry; priorities and key issues that will be addressed; and the recommendations for specific actions that will come from the final report. NWAC teamed up with the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law to host a symposium in January, in which 22 recommendations for the inquiry emerged from deliberations. “Gendered, sexualized and racialized violence against Indigenous women and girls violates our commitments to equality and causes lasting intergenerational harm to families, communities. These 22 recommendations establish the measures necessary to address this
crisis effectively and to begin to reverse the cycle of violence,” said Lavell-Harvard. The Assembly of First Nations hosted a forum earlier in the month on the Enoch Cree Nation, in Alberta, and took direction from families, as well as women’s and Indigenous organizations, to set conditions that it hopes will lead to a “meaningful national inquiry (where) our women are front and centre,” said British Columbia Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, who holds the AFN portfolio for murdered and missing Indigenous women. The AFN six conditions are: • to conduct an open and transparent examination of the socio-economic, political and historical factors that lead to increased vulnerability among Indigenous women; • examine police practices and protocols in investigating missing Indigenous women and in communicating with families;
• identify the barriers in implementing recommendations from previous inquiries and reports; • provide a safe forum for families to participate; • innovative practices and community-based supports in preventing violence and achieving reconciliation; • and provide tangible recommendations and an implementation plan to prevent violence and improve responses where women are missing or murdered. Other organizations, including the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Metis National Council met with the ministers and will present written recommendations as to the scope of the inquiry. Lavell-Harvard said she sees the inquiry being held in two parts: one that listens to families, in a way that is non-aggressive, but then aggressively examines both federal and provincial institutions
for the roles they play in systemic racism. “That’s something we’ve said right from the start … having a national inquiry … can’t just be a federal inquiry. The distinction there is that it can’t just be institutions or structures within federal jurisdiction,” she said. For the inquiry and its recommendations to be substantial, Lavell-Harvard says it is necessary for the provinces and territories, all of which supported a national inquiry, to be willing to open their institutions – such as provincial police services and child welfare agencies – up to scrutiny. Also important, she says, is that justice be carried out. If through the inquiry, new evidence comes to light on missing or murdered loved ones, then cases need to be re-opened. “There needs to be a commitment to basically a third phase, which is the all-important follow-up to make sure that it isn’t just about recommendations but those cases that came forward where there was lack of justice, that they be re-examined,” she said. “They need to commit to that process.” Details on the inquiry will be announced over the next few months, says a recent statement issued by the three ministers. Lavell-Harvard says she would like her organization to be able to look at what the ministers are proposing before they finalize the process and go public with it. “We absolutely need to be able to have a final conversation to make sure that we’re moving ahead in a way that’s going to address the issue, address the breadth and the depth of the issue, and at the same time be culturally sensitive and really respecting of families,” she said. It is anticipated that the inquiry will roll out by summer.
Fox hopes Canada will settle “omission” of duty By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
ONION LAKE CREE NATION, Sask. Harvey Strosberg said Canada insisted First Nations go through the government rather than deal directly with oil and gas companies, and Canada failed to protect First Nations’ interests. Now Canada will have to pay. Strosberg is the lawyer for two Saskatchewan First Nations in a lawsuit against the branch of the federal government responsible for monitoring oil and gas production on or near the First Nations’ territories. “The government said, ‘We’ll take care of you. We’ll administer that properly.’ Therefore they became a fiduciary in my judgement. And the government didn’t do it properly, and they’re in breach,” Strosberg said. The Onion Lake Cree Nation and Poundmaker Cree Nation
filed a Class Action claim Feb. 9 on the issue of “drainage” of oil and gas reserves from under their territories, and are seeking a total of $3 billion in compensation. † Drainage comes from well sites located off reserve, but close enough to reserve lands that they are draining oil from pools right underneath the reserve. Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC) is specifically tasked to work with oil companies that want to engage in oil and gas production that might affect First Nations. IOGC is supposed to carry out the work needed to ensure First Nations are compensated for any loss that they might incur from “drainage.” But despite that oversite, “First Nations have been losing the minerals around their reserves,” said Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox. The key issue at play, according to Strosberg, is that there is one major difference between oil and gas development on First Nations’
land and development on nonFirst Nations land. This difference is that the federal government has active involvement with First Nations’ oil and gas production, and actually created the system that puts IOGC directly in the middle of the process, rather than allowing the oil companies to go directly to the First Nations. For example, he said, the federal government, over the years, has filed leases for 40 wells on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, but just off the land, there are more than 240 wells, which are also “sucking up the oil and gas,” said Strosberg. The government should have taken steps to compensate Poundmaker for these wells, but they didn’t, and Strosberg calls this an “omission” of duty. “The process has always been oil companies do research, seismic analysis and whatever... Then they approach IOGC and say they want to do exploration or
seismic work on A, or B, or C First Nation. And IOGC typically sits with them and goes through regulations and processes etc., and they come to an agreement. Then the Nations, after the fact, are generally contacted,” said Fox. Over the years, Onion Lake has cultivated a good relationship with IOGC, and Fox said he doesn’t blame them for their mistakes, which he contends is an issue of underfunding. Still, he feels the whole system has often put First Nations people at a disadvantage. Strosberg said this is the first class action lawsuit of this kind to be filed in Canada, and he hopes it’s the last. Fox expects, however, that other First Nations will follow in Onion Lake’s and Poundmaker’s footsteps. He’s been hearing stories for years, from other nations dealing with the same issue, and had a number of talks with members of other nations
prior to launching this lawsuit. “There are about 70-plus First Nations in Canada that are going to be impacted by this... And as this comes forward, other First Nations are going to be coming on board to make statements about their concerns, and experiences... That’s going to happen right through the course of this whole process,” he said. Fox hopes, because the time and cost of litigation and court proceedings may be challenging—to both the First Nations and the government— the government will want to settle quickly (and fairly) without allowing the court action to carry on. “Every class action is different, said Strosberg. “But this is the first class action that is in oil and gas with the Aboriginal Nations… There’s been no response yet, but hopefully there is just our class action. I hope the government will discuss it rather than immediately fight it.”
[ news ]
Bitter weather limits participation in Strawberry Ceremony By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
TORONTO The speeches were short at this year’s Valentine’s Day Strawberry Ceremony for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The group of 400 people gathered at Toronto Police Headquarters at Yonge and College streets was considerably smaller than in previous years, likely due to the bitter minus-28 degree temperature. Cups of water and several hundred strawberries, the women’s medicine, were distributed to the accompaniment of traditional Anishinabek teachings by Whitebird. It was the eleventh year for the ceremony, conducted by Mi’kmaq Elder Wanda Whitebird, and organized by No More Silence. No More Silence is a grassroots group that aims to develop an inter/national network to support the work being done by activists, academics, researchers, agencies and communities to stop the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women. For the first time, the family of Bella Laboucan-McLean attended the ceremony—her parents, Billy Joe Laboucan and Annette McLean, her Aunt Ruby, her little brother Billy Joe and her sister Melina Laboucan-Massimo. Her father, Billy Joe Laboucan, chief of Lubicon Lake Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, said his daughter “died mysteriously by falling 31 stories and we haven’t really had any resolution yet. The police have said her cause of death was ‘undetermined’.” Bella was 25 years old when she died in Toronto on July 20, 2013. Whether her fall from the 31stfloor balcony of a downtown
PHOTOS: BARB NAHWEGAHBOW
The family of Bella Laboucan-McLean at Strawberry Ceremony for MMIWG, Toronto. From left to right, her aunt Ruby McLean, father Billy Joe Laboucan, mother Annette McLean, and her sister Melina Laboucan-Massimo.
Community marches for missing and murdered women and Day. Toronto condo was an accident or just graduated from Humber murder has never been College’s Fashion Design determined by police. They view Program, her father said his her death as suspicious. Having daughter was looking forward to
girls in Toronto on Valentine’s her career. “My beautiful Bella was so special to me,” said her mother, Annette McLean. “She was so
loved.” When she was just a little girl, McLean recalled, her daughter would talk about moving to the city, living in an apartment and working downtown. “I begged her to come back,” she said, “But she wanted to follow that dream. And you know what? In her short life, she did everything she wanted to achieve. Now she’s in that other realm, but she’s not far…That’s what we have to tap into is that spirituality and take time to pray because it’s something that’s going to help you. We’re not alone.” Bella’s sister, Melina LaboucanMassimo, thanked the gathering for, “holding her picture and holding her memory here on the streets of Toronto. It’s really an experience to go through this,” she said, “because when the case is unsolved and the death is listed as suspicious, it’s hard… you can’t wrap your head around why, how and who. That’s why I’m here today standing outside the Toronto Police service, to demand justice for my sister and for all the murdered and missing women.” Several other speakers talked about family and friends they had lost to violence and expressed their hope for justice. The group marched along College Street pausing at Yonge and College for a round dance as Toronto police stopped traffic. Several women singers drummed as people danced and others held up signs bearing names of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The march ended at the YMCA on Grosvenor Street where a feast was provided by Native Men’s Residence. “These deaths have to stop,” Billy Joe Laboucan told the crowd. “We have to do stuff in our own communities, in the provinces and also nationally, as well as globally. What we’ve experienced, the losses, it has to stop.”
Two Indigenous men killed in Toronto By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
Toronto’s Indigenous community is mourning the loss of two young men who were killed in two separate incidents within the space of two weeks. Quinn Taylor was 29, and Kiowa Wind McComb was 20 years old. Taylor was shot to death in Toronto’s Chinatown on Spadina near Nassau Street early on the morning of Jan. 31. McComb (Ojibway/Cree) was the victim of a stabbing on Feb. 9 in Toronto’s Jane and Lawrence area.† Taylor’s mother Brenda MacIntyre (Ojibway/Odawa), a well-known traditional singer in Toronto, learned of her son’s death on social media. “He had a three-year-old daughter and he was at the happiest point in his life. Incredibly happy,” said
PHOTO: J’NET AYAYQWAYAKSHEELTH
Kiowa Wind McComb, 20, was the victim of a stabbing in Toronto on Feb. 9.
MacIntyre. A rapper and producer, Taylor was just starting
Quinn Taylor, 29, a member of Toronto’s Indigenous community, was the victim of a shooting on Jan. 31.
his music career, she said. Her son first displayed his
incredible musical gift when he was just three years old,
MacIntyre said. They were in a studio and “he stepped up to a drum kit, having never seen one in his life, and started drumming. Everybody turned around to see who was creating all these interesting beats. Everyone’s jaws dropped.” A few years ago, Taylor decided to return to school to study audio engineering, a huge step for him, his mother said, because he hated school. He applied to the Trebas Institute, got himself a student loan and surprised his teachers with his talents. “He had a very good musical ear, a hard thing to come by,” MacIntyre said. “He was shy about performing himself, but he wanted to produce other artists.” Her son’s life was not without its struggles, she said, but in the past five years he was determined to focus on his passion for music.
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Families deeply traumatized by pre-inquiry, says participant By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
ENOCH CREE NATION, Alta.
Deborah Ginnish knows the importance of having families listened to before the federal government undertakes the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Last week, Ginnish travelled from her home on the Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia to be part of a forum conducted by the Assembly of First Nations on the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta. The result of that forum will be a report the AFN will present to the federal government Feb. 15 laying out the conditions that need to be met if this inquiry hopes to be successful. But the result of that forum for Ginnish was dredging up memories that have not been laid to rest–not for her, her family or her community. Ten years ago, Ginnish’s niece Michelle, 23, was stabbed to death by a woman on the Membertou First Nation. It was an alcohol and drug-fuelled argument that spun out of control. “That really split the community. Even today it’s still there,” said Ginnish. “We are still grieving. That bitterness is still there. Even towards that family of that woman because it
is such a close-knit community and it will never go away.” It’s the same for all First Nations communities, said Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, who accompanied Ginnish. “This anger is something that is carried on…. When we bring our families here, that opens up something bigger than actually talking about the deaths or the circumstances. It opens up those wounds that are still in the community, still in the families,” said Maloney. “A lot of the families are estranged for different reasons, on how people grieve or don’t grieve, whose fault it might have been and that’s a problem within our communities that we have to deal with.” Maloney and Ginnish both attended a pre-inquiry meeting hosted by the federal government in Halifax. Ministers Carolyn Bennett (Indigenous Affairs), Jody Wilson-Raybould (Justice and Attorney General) and Patricia Hajdu (Status of Women) are crossing the country, gathering input on how the national inquiry should be carried out. Based on that meeting, Maloney and Ginnish say the inquiry needs to be different. It needs to be inclusive, said Maloney. The pre-inquiry meeting was limited to direct family members. Maloney uses the extended family of 26-year-
old Inuk woman Loretta Saunders from Labrador, who was murdered, as an example. Her cousins, who were part of the search for Saunders and also worked with Maloney to clean out Loretta’s Halifax apartment, were not allowed to be part of the pre-inquiry process. Families were deeply traumatized both during and following the pre-inquiry, said Ginnish. “There should have been some counselling or debriefing available for the families after the [pre-] inquiry,” she said. Maloney goes a step further saying every community needs to have mental health workers trained in a variety of areas, including post-traumatic stress disorder, who remain in the communities well after the national inquiry wraps up. Ginnish also thinks it’s important for the national inquiry to follow cultural protocol, such as opening prayers and sacred fires. Embracing a restorative justice model could help healing to begin as the national inquiry is carried out, said Maloney. If done right, Ginnish believes the national inquiry could help her “move forward.” “We’re not doing this to look at blame or what happened. That’s a waste of our energy and heart and soul. We need to move forward, find solutions to everything,” said Maloney.
Indigenous men killed in Toronto Continued from page 8. “Music and hanging out with his little girl, that was his bliss.” “There’s no way to make sense of this,” she said, “because he had no enemies. Everybody loved him.” A celebration of Quinn’s life that was held at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto was attended by about 250 people and featured musical tributes, both traditional and contemporary. If there is any lesson to be learned from this tragedy, said MacIntyre, it’s to realize that we don’t know how much time we have here. “So, don’t wait. Go for your dreams,” she said, “and get back to who you really are.” On Feb. 12, Toronto Police arrested a 25-year-old suspect in connection with Taylor’s death and that of a friend who was with Taylor that night. The suspect has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. A memorial for McComb was co-hosted on Feb. 12 by the Native Women’s Resource Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) where Kiowa
had worked for the last year as an intern in the Learning Department. The theatre at ROM was packed with family, friends and his ROM colleagues. Kiowa was a bright light, a success story, said J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth, Aboriginal Outreach and Learning Coordinator at ROM. She hired McComb for the internship position because he knew who he was and was very proud of his ancestry, and “we needed somebody who was willing to step up in front of a group and own their identity,” she said. He and his girlfriend, Lauren LaVallee, became part of her family. His keen interest in education inspired her to return to school, said Ayayqwayaksheelth. Kiowa was not devastated by life and the challenges he’d faced, Ayayqwayaksheelth said. “The boy had goals and he chipped away at them. He wanted to live a good life and he was doing what he could to make that happen.” Kiowa made great inroads building bridges and relationships between the ROM
and the Indigenous community, said Dr. Mark Engstrom, who spoke at the memorial. Engstrom is the CEO and director of ROM. “He served as a role model to the members of our staff and the outside community and he was really liked in the institution,” said Engstrom. The manager of Learning at ROM, Wendy Ng, said, “Everyone that Kiowa touched will have had their lives enriched by him.” He was pivotal in establishing and nurturing the ROM Youth Cabinet, a group creating museum content for youth by youth. That’s a legacy that Kiowa has left to ROM, said Ng. In remembrance of Kiowa, Ng announced that ROM has created the Kiowa Wind McComb Internship. “It will help Indigenous young people work with our Learning Department to continue his work,” said Ng. Police arrested a 35-year-old suspect shortly after the stabbing of McComb, and charging him with second degree murder. A second suspect has not been apprehended.
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Windspeaker News Briefs The island community of Beausoleil First Nation in Georgian Bay, Ont. says its ferry is on its last legs. The ferry, the only access to the mainland, makes the hour-long round trip to Christian Island 14 times a day, every day, allowing people to access goods and services, as well as medical appointments. Chief Roland Monague says the 65-year-old vessel, the M.V. Sandy Graham, is no longer safe and a replacement is needed. It was purchased by the government in 1998 as an interim measure, reported the Toronto Star. “Without a proper, safe, viable transportation for the community, we are going to be in a predicament soon,” said Monague.
People involved in Voices of the North, Northern Spirits and their friends, gathered at St. Albans Church in Prince Albert Feb. 13 to record a professional version of “Lean on Me”, dedicated to the Saskatchewan community of La Loche after the community suffered a mass shooting that killed four people and injured many others. About 40 to 50 people worked with a six-person production crew. The project is meant to keep the needs of La Loche in people’s mind for years to come. Watch the video on Youtube here: https:// youtu.be/ewghhLhoEnY
Manitoba will change how it publicly reports the number of children in its care by excluding those who are voluntarily transferred by their guardians. More than 10,000 children are currently reported, but about 700 will be discounted once the voluntary placements are removed from the publicly-reported numbers. Other provinces don’t count their voluntary placements, which include children under customary care legislation placed with family members in First Nations communities. Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said there is world of difference between apprehension and a voluntary placement. Guardians are “reaching out to us and saying, ‘Please come and help us.’ They can come at any time and say, ‘I want my child back’,” she said. “It’s very different than a case of a child coming to school with bruises and Child and Family Services being called ... and feeling they have to apprehend for the child’s safety.” The number of kids in Manitoba’s care has jumped 55 per cent since 2006, reports the Canadian Press, 90 per cent of which are Indigenous, which gives the province the highest child apprehension rates in Canada, seizing an average of one newborn baby a day.
Internal government documents show that it will cost $2 billion to eliminate mould and chronic overcrowding on reserves in Manitoba, about 13 times more than the $150 million the federal government promised for all First Nations across Canada this year, reports the Canadian Press. Reports from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, obtained under access-to-information legislation, say the housing situation in Manitoba has worsened as infrastructure funding has been redirected to other areas. “As a result, Manitoba First Nations continue to face further deterioration in infrastructure,” reads the internal report dated January 2015. “Current estimates indicate a $1.9B need to address existing overcrowding, replacement and major repairs related to mould and substandard conditions of housing units. Key challenges continue to include affordability, low income and high social assistance rates.” Manitoba has the highest percentage of First Nations people living in substandard housing in Canada (29 per cent), reads the report. Alberta, however, is in a similar situation.
John Joe Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation traditional government, is petitioning the federal government to change the name of the Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst historic site near Charlottetown, saying it’s an insult that a national park in Prince Edward Island is named for a military general who wanted to kill Aboriginal people with smallpox. Sark wants the name of General Jeffery Amherst removed from the park name, reports the Canadian Press. Amherst’s goal was to eradicate Aboriginal peoples. He supported using blankets infected with smallpox to kill them. Ontario Reginal Chief Isadore Day said the recently announced cultural competency training for all public service employees is a positive step in terms of fulfilling Truth and Reconciliation action items and signals the Ontario government is standing firm in its political accord with the Chiefs of Ontario. “I welcome this training and hope our renewed relationship through the Political Accord and the TRC action items spur further progress with the Ontario government,” said Day. “Everyone in Canada needs to be aware of, and understand, the history and current priorities of the Indigenous peoples of this country, not only within the schools but in the halls of the public sector where many vital decisions are made on our behalf,” reads a press statement. The training is designed to help develop policies and programs to redress the legacy of residential schools, advance reconciliation with Indigenous communities and make a real difference in the lives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Key components of the sensitivity training will be focused on violence against Indigenous women and girls, the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the role of treaties signed between the Crown and First Nations.
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Treaty 1 explored through art and artifact By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new curatorial resident of Indigenous and Contemporary Art has found a unique way to draw attention to the discussion around treaty territories and land claims. Jaimie Isaac of the Sagkeeng First Nation is the curator of an exhibit called “We are on Treaty Land” opening Feb. 5 with a public celebration beginning at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit pays homage specifically to Treaty 1, the treaty that encompasses the city of Winnipeg and surrounding area. It acknowledges and honours that Winnipeg is situated geographically on the traditional territory of Treaty No.1 and homeland of the Métis. “We’re talking about treaties, agreements, and the history, and how it affected our past and present and future ways of relations,” Isaac told Windspeaker. Isaac has collected pieces from the gallery’s permanent exhibit that highlight treaty and land claims in order to open up discussion about the government’s and public’s responsibilities today. “It ranges from paintings to mixed media to photography… And I selected a couple of pieces from the Manitoba Museum. I picked them as active witnesses of Indigenous Agency within the Treaty 1 agreement,” said Isaac. Isaac, whose two-year residency began last September, often works with themes pulled from Indigenous issues, but this particular topic gave her the opportunity to research an area she wasn’t entirely familiar with. And it gave her added insight into what is, and what is not, being honored in treaty by the government today. “Coming from the traditional education system, I didn’t learn about treaties, and the Indian residential school system, and the colonial realities that still exist today. And it’s not just an Indigenous problem,” said Isaac.
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The work of Robert Houle features in the exhibit “We are on Treaty Land”
Jaimie Isaac is curatorial resident of Indigenous and Contemporary Art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery “Indigenous and nonIndigenous people need to learn to work together to learn about those things… that’s what I learned while researching,” she said. The items Isaac borrowed from the Manitoba Museum include a beaded bandelier bag from the 1890s, a set of moccasins from the same era, a birchbark basket, and a choker necklace. The use of these items in her exhibit allows her to highlight her feeling about
colonial policies—which came hand-in-hand with the signing of treaties. “It was a colonial practice with institutions to name these beautiful objects from Indigenous cultures an artifact…To underscore their nature of being a beautiful art aesthetic that someone put a lot of talent and time into… I’m changing the labels on them from artifact to art,” she said. Isaac has also chosen works
from Robert Houle, Jeffrey Thomas, Rosalie Favell, Daphne Odjig, and KC Adams. In some cases, Isaac has only taken one or two pieces from each artist, and in other cases she has taken multiple images from an artist’s works, and arranges them in a way that aligns with the treaty theme. The work from Houle, who received a Governor-General’s award in 2015, includes an archived piece from the Treaty 1 Agreement—which is dated Aug.
3, 1871. The work is a key ingredient in Isaac’s show. The piece in the exhibit from Jeffrey Thomas comes from his personal experience on the territory, which makes his art even more relevant, she said. “I had a real pleasure in talking with Jeffrey through email when he found out his work was in the show. He’s not from Treaty 1 territory, but spent about five years here. At that time he had lost his inspiration to do artwork, but found it again while working at The Forks,” said Isaac, a historical gathering place in Winnipeg, where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet. “He began seeing his work in a different way, and says he will always be grateful to the land for providing him with a new voice,” she said. Daphne Odjig was the first Canadian Indigenous woman to open an art gallery in all of Canada, and one of the artists from the Indigenous Group of 7 artists credited with paving the way for other Aboriginal artists everywhere in the country. And KC Adams gives visitors a taste of the discrimination Indigenous women still face today, using her contemporary photography. “The artists really critically respond to matters pertaining to our treaty relations, and relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people… it’s an opportunity to learn about the territory history and understand where we are today,” said Isaac. We are on Treaty Territory runs until May 22. Isaac’s next exhibit opens in April and tackles the issue of reconciliation from the residential school system in Canada. “It’s really important to think of the realities of Indigenous people today. It’s very unequal right now… and it shows in our education systems, land claims, and environmental issues. I think art is a good way to educate,” said Isaac. Winnipeg Art Gallery is located at 300 Memorial Blvd. in Winnipeg.
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Road key to lower power costs, water treatment and a school By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
NORTHWEST ANGLE 33, Ont.
A “do not consume water advisory” is the latest challenge facing Northwest Angle 33 First Nation. Having struggled through five years of a “boil water advisory” with the two portable water treatment plants the First Nation operates, Health Canada changed Northwest Angle’s status on Feb. 12. Regular monthly testing, says Northwest Angle 33 First Nation Chief Darlene Ross Comegan, indicated that there were radioactive particles in the water. There is no indication as to where they come from. “I’m quite concerned,” said Comegan. “I feel really bad for my people. The fact that they’re getting sick. I feel like my hands
are tied most times.” A conference call on Feb. 18 with the Ontario regional director for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, which included Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, saw INAC commit to covering the cost for bringing bottled water in for the 50 or so residents in the community. For the previous five years, that cost has fallen to the First Nation. Comegan says Bellegarde will be speaking with INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett further about Northwest Angle’s situation when he meets with her in person on Monday, and will push for Northwest Angle to get on the priority list for funding for a water treatment plant and phase three power. Because INAC picking up the tab for bottled water is only a stop-gap measure, says Comegan. And now, the First Nation
seems to have another threat to its water source. A short time ago, a community member on a walk discovered a number of hydro transformers, which contain PCBs, were dumped. How long the transformers have been there and the impact of PCBs leeching into the ground water are unclear, says Comegan. “We’d like an environmental clean-up,” she said, noting that a high powered water plant won’t take care of the radioactive particles. Comegan says residents are complaining about being sick, developing lesions on their skin after taking baths, and there has been an increase in colon cancer and other types of cancer. Northwest Angle recently received $200,000 from the federal government to carry out a cancer study, but that amount of money won’t be enough to undertake a comprehensive
study. “When we met with the principle investigator for our cancer study, he said this thing could take years and we just don’t have the money. So they will be applying to other sources of funding to help us with our cancer study,” said Comegan. As far as Comegan is concerned, much of what ails her First Nation could be fixed by building an access road to her community. During the winter months, an ice road is used, but the rest of the year, the only access is by boat. Flying-in is too expensive. Comegan says until Northwest Angle can access power at a reasonable rate, a water treatment plant can’t be built. Right now, the community, which, sits on the Manitoba/Minnesota border, purchases its power from the U.S., which in turn purchases its power from Manitoba.
Comegan wants to purchase power directly from Manitoba Hydro but says that can only be done when the road comes in so Manitoba Hydro can service its equipment. She tags a road and hydro-electric project at a cost of about $6 million. The road will also lead to more services for residents as well as improved housing as contractors will have easier access. With a water plant, there will be fire hydrants and a school can begin operating, bringing the children back to the community. Right now, most families live in Kenora, so they can access schooling. “The school is probably one of my next priorities. But the urgency of all this, I want that road and the hydro and the water. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I hope (the federal government) listens,” said Comegan. “We just can’t do anything without a road.”
Work to continue despite appeals on natural gas storage pond By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
SIPEKNE’KATIK FIRST NATION, N.S.
Sipekne’katik First Nation has filed an appeal with Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment claiming the province “failed to accommodate and engage in deep and meaningful consultation” before granting industrial approval to AltaGas Ltd. for the operation of the Alton natural gas storage pond project in Sipekne’katik traditional territory. “There was consultation, but with a very narrow focus,” said Jennifer Copage, Sipekne’katik consultation coordinator. In the 12-page document filed Feb. 18, one day before the appeal deadline, Sipekne’katik claims that “the content and scope of the duty of consultation and accommodation owed to Sipekne’katik was significant,
because Sipekne’katik has established rights at stake.” Sipekne’katik is asking that the industrial approval, which was granted by the province on Jan. 20, be stayed until the final decision on the appeal. However, Environment Minister Margaret Miller, who has 60 days to rule on any appeals, said work will continue on the project. Sipekne’katik is not the only appeal on the project. Colin and Valerie Hawks, representing the local community of Brentwood, and Shubenacadie†River Commercial Fishermen’s Association, both of whom joined Sipekne’katik in making the nation’s announcement, have also filed appeals. Copage says there has been no discussion as to the next steps if the nation’s appeal is not granted. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs has not filed an appeal. “We respect (Sipekne’katik’s)
position if they wish to appeal. We respect that Sipekne’katik has its own process,” said Twila Gaudet, consultation liaison with the assembly. Sipekne’katik decided to go on its own in consultations with the province on the Alton natural gas storage pond project. In March 2013, Sipekne’katik withdrew from the process, which involved consultation between the province and the Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO),which takes its direction from the assembly. However, Sipekne’katik continued to have technical representation with the KMKNO. In its appeal papers, Sipekne’katik contends that the province did not consult with the First Nation from the time Sipekne’katik withdrew from the KMKNO process to Sept. 17, 2014. When Sipekne’katik was finally included in consultation
again, Sipekne’katik expressed concerns about the environmental assessment. Sipekne’katik further contends that consultation with KMKNO was not the same as consultation with Sipekne’katik. To this point, Gaudet says the assembly has approved the third party review and the mitigation measures, both of which focus on fish and fish habitat, put in place for the Alton natural gas storage pond project. In a news release issued by the assembly, Chief Paul Prosper, lead chief of the assembly’s energy portfolio, said, “We pushed the province further than they normally would have gone with environmental protections.† We saw that changes were made to the project design and operations to avoid any impacts or damage. We successfully argued for a more extensive operational shutdown during spawning seasons to protect all fish species, including
striped bass. These are all significant accommodations.” “We know there’s still outstanding concerns about the project and Ö there’s still further consultation required,” said Gaudet. On Jan. 21, Sipekne’katik withdrew its membership from the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. Work began in 2002 on exploration for an Alton natural gas storage project site. In December 2007, Alton natural gas storage received environmental assessment approval from Nova Scotia to proceed with developing of the brining facilities. In May 2013, Alton natural gas storage received environmental assessment approval from Nova Scotia to proceed with the development of the gas pipeline. Last fall the project came to a halt because of protests and further consultations were undertaken.
Windspeaker to publish online exclusively By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor EDMONTON Readers of Windspeaker are now holding the last printed issue of the magazine. As of March 1, Windspeaker will be available on-line only. It is one more change in a long line of changes for the publication, which had its beginnings in March 1983 when the Aboriginal MultiMedia Society launched the AMMSA Newspaper to cover
news in northern Alberta. At that time, the newspaper distributed 5,000 copies every two weeks. Three years later, AMMSA Newspaper was renamed Windspeaker and news coverage grew from northern Alberta to western Canada and finally, in 1993 on its tenth anniversary, Windspeaker became Canada’s first national Aboriginal publication. Readership has been in excess of 150,000. Embracing digital media and going on-line is the next step in the publication’s evolution.
“The speed and relevancy of Windspeaker’s coverage will be greater than ever. On-line distribution allows us to not only cover issues of the day, but also enables us to continue with analysis of the issues impacting Indigenous people and communities throughout Canada,” said Paul Macedo, AMMSA director of publishing operations. But the change won’t come without challenges, he admits. Loyal traditional Windspeaker readers will have to be converted to on-line readers and at the
same time Windspeaker will have to build a new readership of the already tech-savvy, social mediafocused younger generations. Windspeaker’s sister publication, Alberta Sweetgrass, which carries news relevant to the Indigenous population in Alberta, began paving the way in October 2015. At that time, Sweetgrass stopped being distributed as an independent publication and was incorporated into Windspeaker, and also began a more pronounced on-line presence. The on-line presence does
away with the significant costs of printing and mailing. “This is a way for us to continue with the reporting and covering of critical issues,” said Macedo. “It also enables us to schedule content on a daily basis rather than quarantining it for publication every four weeks.” For Alberta readers, there are more changes on the horizon as AMMSA works to coordinate its radio station, CFWE-FM out of Edmonton, with its on-line Sweetgrass coverage. AMMSA launched CFWE in 1986.
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Kwikwetlem First Nation has filed an Aboriginal title and rights and Charter claim with the B.C. Supreme Court in an effort to ensure its title and rights over key areas in its traditional territory. Kwikwetlem has traditional territory around the watershed of the Coquitlam River, which the Nation says has seen significant development over many years, with no end in sight. “Our community has worked hard to be consulted and meaningfully involved in decisions about the planning and management of our land for years,” said Chief Ron Giesbrecht. “Although governments have taken some steps to involve us in making decisions about how our lands will be used, we do not feel our title and rights interests are being taken seriously. Given there are limited processes for resolving Aboriginal land claims for a small Nation like ours, this claim is the next logical step.” The claimed title areas in the case filed Feb. 9 amounts to less than one per cent of Kwikwetlem’s core territory, reads a press statement. It
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includes the following lands, and their surrounding areas: Colony Farm Forensic Psychiatric Institute Lands: The Province of B.C. is the fee simple owner of this area; Colony Farm Regional Park: The Greater Vancouver Regional District operating as Metro Vancouver is the registered owner of this area; Riverview Hospital Lands: The Provincial Rental Housing Corporation is the fee simple owner of this area. Kwikwetlem believes that the case will help to ensure it is meaningfully involved in decisions made about its lands, as per the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada in Tsilhqoti’in, which called for a consent-based decision model. “We hope that the government will follow the advice of the Supreme Court of Canada and negotiate a fair and respectful resolution to our claim, which will allow us to build a strong future for our community,” said Giesbrecht.
The B.C. government and Service Employees’ Union signed a solidarity accord Feb. 4, which commits its opposition
to pipelines running through 130 First Nations’ territories. Representing thousands of employees, the union affirms its support of the Save the Fraser declaration, which bans Northern Gateway or other similar pipeline projects from crossing the territories of signatory nations. The accord, said the union, was years in the making. The union said it supported the B.C. Supreme Court ruling that found the province failed to consult with First Nations on Northern Gateway. Union Treasurer Paul Finch said governments have a legal and moral duty to engage First Nations in meaningful consultations, and B.C. has “spectacularly failed in this responsibility. “We’re in favour of resource development projects. They just have to be done right,” he said.
Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh First Nations have signaled their intention to purchase a 38.8-acre parcel of land in West Point Grey. The lands consist of two parcels totaling 38.8 acres, which are owned by the province. Another
52 acres, known as the Jericho lands, were recently transferred from the federal government to the three First Nations and the Canada Lands Corporation. “If a sales agreement is concluded, it will allow for a meaningful community consultation process between the First Nations and the City of Vancouver on what the community would like to see with respect to future development of the lands,” B.C. said in a statement. “Any purchase would be based on fair market value for the land as determined by independent appraisals.”
Three communities of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and its NStQ Treaty Group voted yes Feb. 11 to continue negotiations based on their Agreement in Principle. Canim Lake, Soda Creek and Canoe Creek/Dog Creek voted in support of moving to Stage 5, the Final Agreement, in negotiations. “The results of this important vote show that the BC treaty negotiation process is working, and supports First
Nations governance and selfdetermination,” said Commissioner Jerry Lampert. The Williams Lake’s vote, as part of the NStQ, was suspended, however, due to protests around the voting process and will hold another vote on March 15. As part of British Columbia’s interim agreement with the NStQ, the nations will receive 3,760 hectares of provincial Crown land transfers. The agreement also includes funding for construction of fencing to address the interests of cattle ranchers affected by the agreements. The transfers will occur in two phases. Phase one is initiated with the successful ratification of the AIP. Phase two would happen after British Columbia, Canada and NStQ conclude a Final Agreement.
At a meeting of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition held in Terrace on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5., representatives from 27 First Nations discussed the possibility of a First Nations-led environmental assessment process for major industrial
projects, reads a press statement Feb. 8 from the group’s Coalition and Steering Committee. The group says it is made up of nations who have agreed to work together to develop common approaches to strengthen capacity of communities impacted by major project development. No list of the nations involved with the group was included with the release. The First Nations-led environmental assessment process would be modeled on the environmental review
conducted by the Squamish First Nation concerning a proposed LNG terminal. Squamish Nation issued a legally-binding environmental certificate to the proponent with attached conditions, reads the press statement. These conditions included economic consideration for the use of land under First Nations title. First Nations participating in the coalition’s process retain their individual decision-making authority. The next meeting of the coalition is scheduled for March 30 and March 31 in Prince George.
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It’s canning time at Seabird Island
The land gives back to its people in many, many ways, said Dale Cory, the communications officer at Seabird Island Band. Cory said the Seabird Island Band kitchen has been busy. Calls went out to Elders, resident chefs, and labor pool clients, when donations of meat came in. They all came together to dice, wash, clean and prepare all of the ingredients to can goods for the Traditional Food Bank. On the menu: deer chili, fish soup and elk stew. They had five days of canning from “the most caring and wonderful ladies.” The team was led by Wanda Forseth, Elder Victorine Louis, Jennifer Bobb, Leanne Ellis and Lenette Joe,” said Alexis Grace, manager of Employment and Social Development Programs, with youth work experience from Taylor Starr. Five cases of fish soup were canned, as were three cases of deer chili and three cases of elk stew. The Traditional Food Bank will distribute the product to Elders specifically, and other community members in need of food. “We don’t turn anyone expressing need away and every effort is made to ensure there is a maximum amount of nutrition, deliciousness and love in every jar,” said Grace.
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Red dress memorial As Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett was in Edmonton conducting a pre-inquiry meeting for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, it was poignant timing that saw Métis woman and Anglican priest Lori Calkins’ exhibit Ni Wapataenan on exhibit. Forty red dresses were hung from trees in Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue neighbourhood encircling a bare, uncovered tipi.
Agreement with province will help level education field By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
The provincial government has signed an education agreement with Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council that promises to have long reaching consequences for the over 1,000 students attending schools on the five First Nation. But there is still more work to be done. “Let’s not get sidetracked. This is not a win-all situation. (There is) inequality between First Nations in Alberta and public schools across the nation. There is still a very big gap. There are many steps yet to take after this one. But yes, I am very pleased and very thankful that we are on the right path,” said Woodland Cree Nation Chief Isaac LaboucanAvirom. On Feb. 19, Chiefs from Loon River, Lubicon Lake, Whitefish Lake and Peerless Trout joined Laboucan-Avirom in signing an agreement with the province, which will see the full resources
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of the department and ministry of education used to improve the quality of education on those five northern First Nations. “Ensuring First Nations students have quality education is a top priority for our government,” said Education Minister David Eggen. “We Ö must prepare students for a bright future in our evolving Alberta economy. This involves giving First Nations students improved instructional supports that are available to all students here in the province of Alberta. Every student in our province deserves the best we can provide in education regardless of where they live.” “This agreement … aligns with the objectives of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which supports the delivery of Indigenous education in a culturally meaningful way,” said new Indigenous relations minister Richard Feehan. Eggen says the agreement will improve learning opportunities for the students along with developing skills. It
will give teachers and administration access to the department’s wealth of expertise when it comes to working with students, who have special needs. Chief Robert Gray, Grand Chief of the tribal council and Chief of Whitefish Lake First Nation, says the agreement is an important step in leveling the education field. “Right now our schooling is so far behind we need to catch up,” he said, noting that students in Grade 10 have an education equivalent to Grade 8. He says the agreement will also allow the northern schools to offer more resources in order to retain teachers. Presently, most schools having a revolving door of first year teachers. He is hopeful the agreement will have an impact on teachers as early as this September, with some choosing to stay on because “they’re seeing new stuff happening.” Another immediate response Eggen is hoping to get is an increased attendance rate, which will lead to an increased graduation rate. He is also
hoping for stability with both administrators and teachers. Eggen says the department is working on a First Nations, Metis and Inuit curriculum which can be piloted in the Kee Tas Kee Now schools. Such a curriculum would focus on preserving and revitalizing Indigenous language and culture, and provide the children with examples they can personally relate to. Loon River First Nation Chief Arthur Noskey says a framework agreement like this has been in the works through four premiers: Stelmch, Redford, Prentice and now finally signed with Notley. “This is a very significant moment for us because it’s something we’ve strived for and worked for and now to have the NDP government come to the point and sign a framework agreement … I appreciate this process and the relationship established,” said Noskey. Eggen adds that partnership is the only way to deliver “quality meaningful education for First Nations students.” To that end, he says, the province is willing
to work with both First Nations and the federal government. He says the agreement was signed between the province and Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council because of the council’s strong leadership. The schools had already begun pooling their resources and working in collaboration. He says this framework agreement can be used in other parts of the province to provide better education for First Nations children. “We’re finally seeing the realization of what can happen when you partner up with the proper governments,” said Lubicon Lake Chief Billy Joe Laboucan. Eggen says the province has committed $500,000 “to get things moving here immediately.” Another $1.2 million has been set aside to start building curriculum and to make the full resources of the department and ministry of education available. The province has committed $70 million for First Nations, Metis and Inuit education over the next three years.
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PHOTO: SHARI NARINE
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was at Enoch Cree Nation and in Calgary for some of the final preinquiry meetings to set the scope of the upcoming national inquiry for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
MMIW pre-inquiry meetings to held in Edmonton, Calgary Federal government ministers, including Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was on Enoch Cree Nation on Feb. 11 and joined by Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu in Calgary on Feb. 12 in holding pre-inquiry meetings. Bennett said it was important that the ministers, who will be guiding the creation of the inquiry, meet with families and hear their stories first hand. In all, 17 pre-inquiry meetings were held and the input will be used to set the scope of the national inquiry for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
Panelâ€™s report of LARP validates First Nationsâ€™ concerns A review committee appointed by the former provincial government to examine the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan upheld concerns raised by First Nations. However, it took six months for the Notley government to share the results with the First Nations impacted. The review panel, an independent body, said that LARP did not protect Aboriginal and treaty rights and the process to develop LARP did nothing to meaningfully address those rights either. The panel said the plan itself created damage and erosion to treaty and Aboriginal rights. The review panel also agreed with claims by First Nations that projects needed to be examined by looking at cumulative impacts and not on a project-by-project basis. LARP came into force in 2012. Between that time and the panel carrying out its review, the plans was used to approve a number of projects were for the region.
Continued on page 16.
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Royalty review excludes Indigenous peoples and the Aboriginal resource revenue province. Class action lawsuit filed sharing The results of a recent against federal government royalty review by a governmentappointed committee give no indication as to where Aboriginal communities stand with the province on resource revenue sharing. The only reference to resource revenue sharing with Indigenous peoples comes in a section entitled “Other matters raised with our panel,” and states, “Representatives of First Nations and Metis communities consistently represented the issue of sharing resource revenues with their communities. There are outstanding and serious concerns about the impact that energy development activities have on their communities. These concerns could be added to other discussions undertaken by the government.” Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief Craig Mackinaw says the committee did a poor job in getting input from First Nations when carrying out the review. Mackinaw says the results of the review do not lend credibility to Premier Rachel Notley’s campaign promises of creating a better relationship between
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Onion Lake and Poundmaker Cree Nations filed a class action lawsuit in early February against the federal government claiming $3 billion in damages and alleging “a continuing breach of fiduciary duty and negligence on the part of the federal government.” The two First Nations claim that their reserve lands and reserve lands of the other class members contained oil and gas rights “which were ripe for exploitation.” But instead of drilling occurring on the reserve lands for which the First Nations designated oil and gas rights to the Crown, drilling occurred on lands bordering the reserves. The lawsuit claims that the federal government, the Department of Indian Affairs, and Indian Oil and Gas Canada owed a “fiduciary duty to the Class members and each breached its fiduciary duty;” that they owed a duty of care to the Class members and each breached the standard of care and was negligent; damages for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence in the amount of $3
billion. The lawsuit claims the federal government, through Indian Oil and Gas Canada, has not done enough to “actively promote and solicit” exploration and development by oil and gas companies on reserve lands.
New Indigenous relations minister named Richard Feehanwas appointed as new new Indigenous relations minister when Premier Rachel Notley announced additions to her Cabinet in early February. Feehan takes over from Kathleen Ganley, who will remain as solicitor general and minister of justice. Feehan’s ministry has also been renamed from “Aboriginal” to “Indigenous” which “(reflects) the preference of Indigenous communities,” said Notley. Four other ministers and one associate minister were added to the Cabinet. As well, a climate change office was created to assist in the
implementation of Alberta’s climate leadership plan and will report to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips.
AFN facilitates pre-MMIW inquiry discussion The Assembly of First Nations hosted a panel discussion Feb. 4 on Enoch Cree Nation to examine how to move forward in the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls national inquiry. From that forum, six conditions were set: to conduct an open and transparent examination of the socio-economic, political and historical factors that lead to increased vulnerability among Indigenous women; examine police practices and protocols in investigating missing Indigenous women and in communicating with families; identify the barriers in implementing recommendations from previous inquiries and reports; provide a safe forum for
families to participate; innovative practices and community-based supports in preventing violence and achieving reconciliation; and provide tangible recommendations and an implementation plan to prevent violence and improve responses where women are missing or murdered.
Ministers to move forward on improving outcomes of Indigenous children in care Federal, provincial and territorial social services ministers met Feb. 4 and 5 in Edmonton to discuss key social issues such as improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth, reducing poverty, supporting high quality early learning and child care services, and removing and preventing barriers for people with disabilities. Ministers committed to engaging Indigenous partners and other
ministers, such as the minister responsible for Indigenous and northern affairs Canada, in future discussions on how to reduce the number and overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care. “We had a valuable opportunity to discuss social issues that have significant impacts on our communities, develop a shared understanding of the ways these issues affect our jurisdictions and set the stage for ongoing collaboration between governments and Indigenous communities,” said Alberta Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir, who co-hosted the talks.
Unemployment impacts off-reserve workers Job losses in Alberta have hit First Nations workers particularly hard, according to the latest Statistics Canada report. From about nine per cent a year ago, the number of off-reserve workers who had no work rose to 16 per cent in January – second-highest in Canada, after Newfoundland and Labrador, where the unemployment rate has spiked to 16 per cent. Major employers of First Nations personnel are the trades, transport and equipment operators – followed by sales and service positions. For the first time since 1988, Alberta’s level of unemployment is higher than the national average. Alberta’s unemployment rate sits at 7.4 per cent, while the national average is 7.2 per cent. The Alberta rate was an even seven per cent in December, and as low as 4.6 per cent a year ago.
Lana Whiskeyjack’s Apitaw Piciwas, an image from a photographic series created in collaboration with photographer Rebecca Lippiatt, can be found on a billboard at 99 street and 75 avenue by Totem Outdoor Outfitters on Edmonton’s southside.
New images go up around city The second group of #YEGCANVAS artists are on view on billboards throughout Edmonton. Presented by the Edmonton Arts Council and Pattison Outdoor Advertising, #YEGCANVAS is a transitory public art initiative featuring 45 artworks from 32 Edmontonbased emerging, culturally diverse, and Indigenous artists and artisans. Apitaw Piciws, by Lana Whiskeyjack and Rebecca Lippiatt, is one of the latest billboard postings, while LRT posters, including work by Indigenous artists Dale Badger (Cathedral), MJ Belcourt Moses (Caribou Hair Swirl, and Wild Rose & Bee) and Yvette Prefontaine (Penguinpuppy) have been rotated to different LRT stations. The pieces in this project span a diversity of genres and disciplines including digital media, photography, water colour, acrylic, drawing, and fine craft. Artworks were chosen from more than 80 submissions. The six-month
project, which debuted in December 2015 and runs until May 2016, will see artwork displayed on 10 billboards, located throughout Edmonton, and on 15 LRT station posters along the Capital Line. The art is rotated every two months.
Road renamed shows commitment to reconciliation Enoch Cree Nation and the City of Edmonton announced that 23 avenue between 215 street and Anthony Henday has been renamed to MaskÍkosihk Trail. The area between 184 street and 23 avenue has served as a gathering place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples for generations. Sharing a border, Enoch and Edmonton also share a dedication to reconciliation. “The naming of this roadway to MaskÍkosihk Trail serves notice that Edmonton is committed to renewed relationships with the First Peoples of this land.
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Over 20 First Nations and non-Aboriginal performers, dancers, musicians and poets were featured in the World Premiere of Making Treaty 7.
Continued from page 17. Exhibit brings attention to In this time of reconciliation murdered, missing Indigenous Enoch Cree Nation is women
– committed to mamawihkamatowin (working together),” said Chief Billy Morin. The 184 street to 23 avenue roadway is situated within traditional Enoch Cree Nation territory and will serve as a highly visible entryway into Enoch Cree Nation’s lands.
Artwork proposals for Alex Decoteau Park The City of Edmonton is looking for an artist or artistic team to create artwork for Alex Decoteau Park. The park, located in downtown Edmonton, is named after Decoteau, who joined the Edmonton police force in 1909 and became Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer. He was born on Red Pheasant First Nation, in Saskatchewan. In 1912, Decoteau represented Canada as a long distance runner in the Stockholm Olympics. He enlisted in 1916 with the Canadian army and was killed in October 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele. Alex Decoteau Park is the first park site to uphold the vision of the Capital City Downtown Plan and will act as a catalyst to more urban green spaces in the greater downtown core. Proposals for a “significant sculptural work” are to be submitted by March 23 and the budget for the project is $112,000.
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Forty red dresses are hanging from trees in Alberta Avenue neighbourhood as part of Métis woman and Anglican priest Lori Calkins’ exhibit Ni Wapataenan. It is Michif word meaning “we see.’’ The dresses encircle a bare, uncovered tipi and represent missing and murdered Indigenous women. Calkins drew inspiration for her exhibit from Jaime Black’s REDress Project a few years back. Calkins says the interactive exhibit is a community collaboration as more than 20 local writers shared their messages of reconciliation, which have been hung in the trees alongside a series of traditional teachings from Indigenous community Elders. The Bleeding Art Space helped install the display and the gallery will be hosting a series of exhibits, talks and workshops in conjunction with the tribute, including k‚-katawasisicik iskwÍwak (Cree for “beautiful women”), an indoor exhibit by Lana Whiskeyjack, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Both exhibits will continue through to March 5.
Making Treaty 7 receives government funding Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society in Calgary recently received for $74,926 through the Community Initiative Program. Also receiving CIP funding were Kainai Board of
Education for $47,500; Aboriginal Women’s Professional Association, of Ardrossan for $37,500; ABC Headstart in Delwood school in Edmonton for $30,000; Mother Earth’s Children’s Charter School Society in Warburg for $2,454; and the Youth Emergency Shelter Society of Edmonton for $50,000. The Siksika Board of Education received $37,704 through the Community Facility Enhancement Program for playground development at Old Sun School. Also receiving CFEP grant funding was the Kapawe’no First Nation of $30,000 to renovate the Grouard community hall. The province provided $6 million in CFEP grants and $4.5 million in CIP grants to assist 294 projects in communities throughout Alberta.
Mount Royal University presents peace prize to TRC Mount Royal University will be presenting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with its 2016 Calgary Peace Prize. “Not only is MRU on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot people and Treaty 7 nations, but the campus benefits from having Indigenous knowledge, practises and culture embedded into the community,” said Mark Ayyash, assistant professor of sociology. Commission members, Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson, are being recognized for
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Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Blood Tribe pushes for Siksika Nation singer- courthouse songwriter nominated for When Blood Tribe officials met with Justice Minister Juno Armond Duck Chief, a country singer-songwriter from the Siksika Nation, is among the five nominees for a Juno for the Aboriginal Album of the Year. Duck Chief’s album delivers tales of life, love, and the rodeo in a classic country style. He is joined by Come and Get Your Love: The Tribe Session, by Black Bear, from Manawan, of the Atikamekw Nation in Quebec; Power In The Blood, by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Cree activist from Saskatchewan; Rumble, by Derek Miller, a guitarist and singer-songwriter born in the Six Nations of the Grand River, on Mohawk Territory in Ontario; and Refined, by Don Amero, a Métis musician from Winnipeg. The 45th Annual JUNO Awards take place on April 3 at the
Kathleen Ganley and Indigenous Affairs Minister Richard Feehan in midFebruary, they asked for support for funding to help build a provincial courthouse and hire police officers. The courthouse would also house a restorative justice program and give access to traditional healing and peacemaking practises. Band councillor Billy Wadsworth said having a courthouse on reserve would save on transportation expenses as the courthouses surrounding the Kainai First Nation are often filled with members facing charges. Band officials have been working on the Kainai Peacemaking Centre, estimated in 2010 to cost $14 million, for over a decade. Ganley said she supported the project but it
would have to be negotiated with the federal government and balanced against other infrastructure projects. In 2014, Statistic Canada’s crime severity index set the serious crime rate on Kainai Nation at more than triple the provincial average.
Indoor skate park could help fight drugs, alcohol, gangs The Sacred Rocky Mountain Mini Thni Movement Association wants to establish a drop-in indoor skateboard park on Stoney Nakoda land. The plan is for a 10,000-squarefoot building with 12 ramps and four rails. Tasina Pope, SRMMTMA treasurer, says the committee discussed needs within the community. The hope is that with the skateboard park opened late it will attract the older youth and help decrease drugs, alcohol and gang affiliation. The Bearspaw Youth Centre, an indoor recreation centre in Morley, closes early, catering to a younger crowd. The estimated cost for the new facility is $500,000. Pope says a letter of intent has been presented to the tribal council, which holds its next meeting March 3. Potential funding may come from Alberta’s First Nation Development Fund grant program, which is a grant for social, economic and community development projects. Funding for the program in 2015-16 was $128 million.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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North Battleford shelter struggles with funding Changes in funding by the province could force the†Lighthouse Supported Living shelter in North Battleford to close its doors. In November, the Ministry of Social Services told the shelter program it would not be paying for anyone it considered living on reserve, which could result in a slash of approximately 90 per cent in funding. The province does not have a contract with the shelter. It pays only the per diem rate for eligible individuals. North Battleford is surrounded by nine reserves and has high rates of First Nations’ use. The shelter had originally planned to close at the end of January, but a donation from the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs enabled them to stay open until March.
Indigenous writers leave mark in Saskatchewan book world Indigenous writers have been shortlisted in categories beyond the Aboriginal Peoples’
Writing Award and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Publishing Award in this year ’s Saskatchewan Book Awards. The Education of Augie Merasty, by Joseph August Merasty and David Carpenter, is shortlisted for Book of the Year (and in two other categories); Ken Coates’ #Idlenomore and the Remaking of Canada and Sylvia McAdam’s (Saysewahum) Nationhood Interrupted are shortlisted for the Non-Fiction Award (among other categories); Rita Bouvier is shortlisted for the Poetry Award for nakamowin’sa for the seasons; and Leah Marie Dorion is shortlisted for the Children’s Literature Award for My First Métis Lobstick. Works on Indigenous topics figured prominently in a number of award nominations as well, including publishing in education, scholarly writing, and the overall Publishing Award. The Saskatchewan Book Awards received 185 submissions this year for 13 award categories. Award winners will be announced on April 30.
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Team of First Nations spellers will head to national competition For the first time ever, the Spelling Bee of Canada will have an all-First Nations team competing. Winners from the First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee, to be hosted by Chief Poundmaker School in April, will form a team to compete in Toronto in May. Local organizer Pauline Favel says that Spelling Bee of Canada has endorsed the FNPSB as a regional competition, which will allow all first place winners from the bee’s three categories to advance to the national spelling bee as Saskatchewan’s only representative. “This is a first ever for Native people,” said Favel. “Not just for Saskatchewan but all the provinces. We are taking a team from First Nation schools, all the winners are going to be First Nation students, and we’re taking them to Toronto to compete with everybody else.” The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority is the title sponsor for the FNPSB.
Two First Nations acquire shares in Saskatoon welding company The economic development corporations of English River
First Nation and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have each acquired 30 per cent of JNE Welding. The Saskatoon fabricator manufactures enormous steel vessels for mining and oil companies. The terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, but JNE’s vice-president of finance said the company’s annual revenue is between $35 and $40 million. Together, the three corporations employ more than 1,000 people with an annual payroll of $54 million, and have an estimated combined revenue of $296 million, according to a news release. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty said that the deal with JNE Welding will further diversify the First Nation’s business interests and will “hopefully” increase the First Nation’s revenue while providing jobs for its members, many of whom have taken training in welding and fabrication.
New information reignites Napope investigation Based on new information, the RCMP Major Crime Unit North and the Prince Albert Police Service are continuing their investigation into the homicide of Troy Napope. Napope, 26, was last seen on May 28, 2015 at a residential
party in Prince Albert. His burnt out car was discovered that day in a grove of trees north of Prince Albert. His remains have still not been recovered. Investigators are now focusing on a 10 km area west of the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary and are asking residents in that area to search their property and outer buildings. The RCMP Police Dog Service was also employed to conduct searches.
Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre officially opened After a decade of planning, designing and construction, the University of Saskatchewan officially opened the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. The facility is named after Gordon Oakes, chief of the Nekaneet First Nation from 1958-62 and 1970-92, and was unveiled on the anniversary of Oakes’ death Feb. 3. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde was among the dignitaries present for the occasion. The $17-million 20,279-square-foot building houses the university’s Aboriginal Students’ Centre. Architect Douglas Cardinal was present to celebrate the centre he designed.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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Protect vulnerable individuals against sex-trafficking The Ontario Native Women’s Association is calling upon the Ontario government to develop a provincial anti-trafficking strategy as Ontario has been identified as a hub for sex-trafficking. ONWA is also calling for increased research and funding to better understand the domestic and international sex trafficking of Indigenous women and girls in Ontario and beyond. ONWA underscores the need for this research to occur within a gender and culture-based framework, and says that the provincial and national governments have an obligation to protect vulnerable individuals. Indigenous women and girls have repeatedly been identified as especially vulnerable. Combating the trafficking of Indigenous women and girls requires prosecution, protection and prevention efforts that are culturally-responsive, collaborative and gender-specific. Efforts must address the root causes of the vulnerabilities, and empower Indigenous peoples. ONWA recently released a paper on the sex trafficking of Indigenous women and girls.
Energy literacy report will prove to be helpful guide The Chiefs of Ontario have produced an innovative energy literacy tool that will provide First Nations in Ontario with foundational information necessary to build knowledge, insight and understanding of essential energy issues. The report will also be a useful reference guide for all First Nations across the country. “This report is a process that will help demystify a complex energy sector and illustrate how First Nations are getting involved and bringing forward key considerations for First Nations communities to consider in their role in shaping the current and future energy system,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. The First Nations Electricity Report: An Energy Literacy Tool to Support Meaningful Participation is available for purchase and can be found on the Chiefs of Ontario website.
A Tribe Called Red recognized for top music video A Tribe Called Red has garnered a spot in the Prism Prize’s Top 20 best Canadian music videos of the year. The videos are voted on by a jury of more than 120 Canadian music, film and media arts professionals. After viewing hundreds of music videos released in 2015, jurors selected the Prism Prize Top 20 based on originality, creativity, style, innovation and effective execution. The Ottawa-based group A Tribe Called Red hit the Top 20 with Suplex, directed by Jon Riera. “This was the best year for Canadian music videos ever, and a Top Ten list just couldn’t capture all the talent,” said Louis Calabro, director and founder of the Prism Prize. The Prism Prize Top Ten will be announced on March 22. The Prism Prize Screening and Awards Presentation at TIFF Bell Lightbox on May 15 will include a screening of the Top Ten videos, and award presentations including the $10,000 Grand Prize for best Canadian music video of the year; the Audience Award; the Special Achievement Award for artistic achievements and exceptional world-wide contribution to music video art; and the Arthur Lipsett Award for innovative and unique approaches to music video art.
Aboriginal institute first to offer stand-alone degree program Six Nations Polytechnic will be the first Aboriginal institute in the province to offer a standalone degree program. As of January 2016, students at Six Nations Polytechnic Aboriginal Institute in Ohsweken can obtain a Bachelor of arts degree in Ogwehoweh (Cayuga and Mohawk) languages. This degree will help promote and protect Ogwehoweh languages and make it possible for students to complete their degree at one institution and closer to home. It also will help students build on their linguistic skills and cultural knowledge as well as expand their opportunities to participate in the labour market. This standalone degree also supports the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for post-secondary institutions to create degree programs in Indigenous languages.
Compiled by Shari Narine
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[ health ]
Breast cancer screening vehicles blessed by Elders
Compiled by Shari Narine
Inuit healing centre slated to close Lack of funding will force the closure in March of Mamisarvik Healing Centre, one of only two Inuit-specific treatment centres in the country. The centre, located in Ottawa’s east end, has treated 723 people since opening in 2003 and is said to have been instrumental in preventing dozens of suicides. Jason Leblanc, executive director of Tungasuvvingat Inuit, the not-for-profit organization operating the centre, said the program is consistent with the federal government’s call for healing and support for families in light of the upcoming inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. The residential program, which offers services in English and Inuktitut, opened with funding from the Aboriginal Health Foundation, but when the Harper government closed AHF in 2013, Tungasuvvingat was left to fend for itself. It can no longer operate without stable funding, said Leblanc. Ottawa has a population of about 3,000 Inuit, which makes it bigger than most Inuit communities in the North. It is considered a “gateway” city for travel to and from the north for health care and education. It is also home to a growing urban Inuit community; many of whom have lived in Ottawa their entire lives.
PTSD prevalent in Indigenous youth leaving home
New Mobile Mammography units blessed by Elders.
As the inquest into the deaths of seven Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay continues, more disturbing information is being revealed. According to Mae Katt, a nurse at Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School, many First Nation†teenagers who leave home to attend high school in the city are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said students, in the recent past, have shown more acute conditions of mental health and substance use. The students exhibit symptoms of PTSD, including excessive worry, sleeplessness, headaches and “early psychosis” such as “auditory hallucinations — hearing voices,” said Katt, who attributes the mental illness to “25 years of a suicide crisis that never got addressed” in northern Ontario’s First Nations. The current generation of students is the first to be raised in the “sub-culture of suicide,” where their parents use drugs to cope with unresolved trauma, grief and loss, she said. Katt said students talk about feeling “devalued” in Thunder Bay, adding†that the “devaluing is related to their race” in a city where “no one really knows who they are.” Six of the youth that died in the 11-year period from 20002011 attended Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School.
FNHA needs to improve
Two new digital mammography vehicles, blessed in a ceremony at the Musqueam First Nation in Vancouver Feb. 1, will provide breast cancer screening to women in rural and remote areas in British Columbia. Currently, the BC Cancer Agency’s Mobile Mammography program visits 120 remote and rural communities annually, including more than 40 Indigenous communities. After the blessing, the new digital mammography vehicles will begin providing mammograms for women on site at the Musqueam First Nation. The coaches will then visit communities across the province from Maple Ridge to Merritt, and Osoyoos to the Soda Creek First Nation. These new vehicles join a third coach, which was launched in February last year. That coach is currently serving communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
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The service is the first of its kind in Canada to use wireless cellular data to send the images through a secure VPN tunnel from the mobile unit to the reading centre. Screening mammograms are available for women 40 years of age and older. A doctor’s referral is not needed. The purchase of the vehicles was made possible by Ministry of Health capital funding and support by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Shoppers Drug Mart at a total cost of $1,808,000. Eligible women can use the clinic locator at www.screeningbc.ca/breast to find a year-round fixed location near them, or view the schedule for the mobile mammography service in their area. Assisted travel support is provided for eligible women in remote communities the vehicles can’t get to. “As a breast cancer survivor, I know first-hand that mammograms save lives, said
Johnna Sparrow-Crawford, a breast cancer survivor. “My cancer was found two years ago when the mobile mammography service was visiting my community. I was already two years overdue for my routine mammogram – I kept putting it off because, like many women, I was too busy.” She said her cancer was found early and it was treated. “These new coaches will make getting a mammogram easier for women,” said SparrowCrawford. “They are comfortable and private, and because they travel to rural and remote communities, they are so accessible. If I could tell women in B.C. anything, it would be to take care of your health. Book a mammogram. It can save your life. It saved mine.” In 2015, an estimated 3,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in British Columbia, and about 610 will die from the disease. It is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Canadian women.
A recent report from the Office of the Auditor General affirms several positive elements of the work undertaken by the First Nations Heath Authority and the establishment of the First Nations health governance structure in B.C., but also points out that FNHA fell short on some aspects of accountability and governance framework. The report concluded, “Although the Authority had policies in place to guide its operations, there were some weaknesses in the Authority’s policies that we examined, and a lack of guidance surrounding how they were to be implemented. We also concluded that the Authority was not fully complying with some of its existing policies. As the Authority shifts from a period of transition to the delivery of programs and services, its success will depend on its ability to demonstrate that it has the accountability and governance framework in place and on its compliance with its policies.” However, the OAG did highlight that FNHA, along with Health Canada and the province, are on the right path to achieving the goals set out in the guiding documents, and that the work underway is addressing challenges related to systemic obstacles to service delivery for First Nations communities in B.C. FNHA assumed the programs, services, and responsibilities formerly handled by Health Canada’s First Nations Inuit Health Branch – Pacific Region in 2013.
Study shows Inuit have highest lung cancer rate in world Nunavut-led surveys indicate that eight in 10 of the territory’s mostly Inuit population smokes – a rate five times higher than in the general Canadian population. “Smoking provides huge challenges to our health system, and it has huge societal impacts,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. A new study published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health tracked rates of various cancers among different ethnic populations around the Arctic. Co-authored by Kue Young, dean of the University of Alberta’s public health department, it found cancers that once were rarely seen in the far north, including breast and colorectal, are an increasing concern generally. Most notable is the rising rate of lung cancer among the 165,000 Inuit of Canada, the United States and Denmark. Territorial governments are spending millions in an array of anti-smoking programs, some of them stressing that smoking is not a traditional part of Inuit culture – a message underscored in Nunavut by the tagline “Tobacco has no place here.” But life is harsh, said Obed, and having to worry about food scarcity, poverty, and mental health, means smoking is not a primary concern.
Sports Briefs By Sam Laskaris Haitian Native banned from tournament A 20-year-old who was raised by a family in British Columbia’s Heiltsuk First Nation is disappointed he was banned from participating in a recent All Native Basketball Tournament. Organizers of the event, which concluded on Feb. 13 in Prince Rupert, B.C., would not allow Josiah Wilson to compete. That’s because Wilson, who wanted to play for the Heiltsuk Wolf Pack, was born in Haiti. He was adopted in his homeland when he was five months old by a Heiltsuk doctor. Despite the fact he was raised by an Aboriginal family, tournament organizers prevented Wilson from taking part. They cited a tournament rule which states all competing players must be of North American Indigenous bloodlines/ancestry. Only those who are at least one-eighth Indigenous (having had at least one Indigenous great-grandparent) were allowed to take part. Wilson had taken part in the All Native Basketball Tournament, which includes squads from across British Columbia and Alaska, during each of the past two previous years. About 400 players took part at this year’s event. Wilson had also competed in British Columbia’s All Native Junior Championships twice. Wilson, who was legally adopted, is registered with the Heiltsuk First Nation and also has a status Indian card. Concerns about his eligibility were raised this year and that is why tournament organizers investigated and made their decision to exclude Wilson. Following the tournament Wilson wrote an article in The Globe and Mail about his exclusion from this year’s event. He said he identified himself as being Haitian, Canadian, First Nations, Francophone and Black. He also wrote that he was frustrated and angry with the decision to ban him. But he is also hoping that organizers will allow him to take part at next year’s All Native Basketball Tournament.
[ sports ]
University career over, and maybe hockey too
Caitlyn Lahonen between the pipes.
Fleury performs in Edmonton
By Sam Laskaris
Theo Fleury will once again showcase his skills in Alberta. Fleury, a Metis, is perhaps best known for his days as a National Hockey League player with the Calgary Flames. During his 15-year NHL career, Fleury spent portions of 12 seasons with the Flames. He helped Calgary win the Stanley Cup in 1989, his first year as a pro. Fleury, now 47, is trying to make a name for himself in the music industry. A country singer, Fleury released his debut album this past fall. He’ll be performing songs from that album titled “I Am Who I Am” at Edmonton’s Century Casino on March 4. Fleury will perform along with his band called the Death Valley Rebels. Fleury had also made plenty of headlines in 2009, when he co-wrote his autobiography called Playing With Fire. Fleury revealed for the first time in his book that he had been sexually assaulted by his former junior coach Graham James. Fleury has since become an advocate for sexual abuse victims. Besides Calgary, Fleury also suited up for the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks during his NHL career. He averaged more than a point per outing during his career. Fleury appeared in 1,161 matches and earned 1,167 points. Two nights before the Edmonton concert, Fleury and the Death Valley Rebels will perform at Casino Regina. The band also has concerts scheduled for a pair of other Alberta venues later in March. They’ll be in Medicine Hat on March 6 and Campbell River on March 11.
Saskatoon hosts nationals Entrants are being accepted for this year’s National Aboriginal Curling Championships. The national bonspiel will be staged March 25 to March 28 at the Granite Curling Club in Saskatoon. Organizers are hoping the event attracts 32 men’s and 16 women’s teams. Though the event is being held in Saskatoon, it is being hosted by the northern Saskatchewan village of Ile-a-la-Crosse in conjunction with the Sakitawak Development Corporation and the Ile-a-la-Crosse Friendship Centre. Participating teams will be vying for a share of the $22,300 up for grabs. Registration fees cost $500 for men’s teams and $400 for the women’s entrants. The top eight finishers in each division will end up receiving a cash prize. The men’s winners will be awarded $4,000 while the members of the winning women’s side will share $2,000. Despite the fact there will be no divisions for younger participants at the nationals, the event will include a youth clinic. This clinic will be led by Stefanie Lawton, a Saskatoon-based curler. Lawton has been a member of four provincial championship women’s teams in Saskatchewan and has competed in the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts four times. Lawton’s teams placed fourth at the nationals in all four of her appearances.
Despite a considerably increased workload, Caitlyn Lahonen has certainly been shining in her fifth and final season of eligibility in the university women’s hockey ranks. Lahonen, who is Metis, is a goaltender with the Queen’s University Gaels women’s squad. She entered the 2015-16 campaign as one of three netminders on the roster of the club, based in Kingston, Ont. Gaels’ head coach Matt Holmberg was originally counting on Lahonen to play in slightly more than half of the team’s games this season. But because another goalie suffered a concussion at the start of the season, which has kept her out of the lineup since, Lahonen was given additional starts. Heading into Queen’s final two regular season matches, Lahonen had appeared in all 22 of the Gaels’ matches, starting 21 of them. “Caitlyn has certainly been getting more games than I thought she would,” Holmberg said. “But she has played really well and has arguably been our MVP this year.” Lahonen, a chemical engineering student, had a 138-0 record. Her goals-against average of 1.44 was second best in the 13-team Ontario University Athletics. Her save percentage of .949 was equally as impressive and also the second best in the OUA. Lahonen has welcomed all the ice time she has been given. “No, not at all,” she said, when
asked if any fatigue was setting in. “I’ve managed it pretty well. And I feel rather energized.” The Gaels usually play two games per week. The club also averages three practices per week. The Queen’s puckstoppers also have one extra training sessions each week with a goalie coach. And when she is able to fit it into her schedule, Lahonen also books some additional time with the goalie coach on her own. Lahonen is hoping the Gaels have a lengthy and successful playoff run. “I would like to win a national championship,” she said. “That would be a great way to end my university career.” In order to advance to the Canadian tournament, the Gaels need to qualify for the OUA championship final. Regardless of who wins the Ontario crown, both OUA finalists will then move on to the nationals, scheduled for March 17 to March 20 in Calgary. Though she is in her final year of university eligibility, this marks the third season that Lahonen has played at Queen’s. She spent her first two years toiling in the NCAA ranks with New York-based St. Lawrence University. “I guess you could say it’s very competitive,” Lahonen said of her time spent in the NCAA. “I’m a competitive person, 100 per cent. But they put a large emphasis on the sport. They didn’t allow you to focus on anything else like school. “It was just hockey, hockey, hockey and you were always on the road. It took the fun out of the game for me.” After transferring to Queen’s, Lahonen had to sit out for one full season before she was eligible
to suit up for the Gaels. Lahonen, who will be graduating this spring, said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time at Queen’s. Besides playing hockey she’s also has been content with her academics. And she’s also had an opportunity to have more of a social life than she did in her first couple of university seasons. Lahonen though is not quite sure what lies ahead for her, in terms of hockey, following her Queen’s career. She has accepted a job in Saskatoon, which is scheduled to begin on April 1. She will be writing her final exams early in order to begin her job on time. Lahonen will work as a process engineer in training for Potash Corp. “I don’t know what will happen (with hockey),” she said. “I’d like to play more. The only opportunity might be to play rec hockey or to play with the guys at work.” Like he does with all of his graduating players, Holmberg asked Lahonen if she’d be interested to go into a pool of players eligible to get drafted by a team in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CHWL). This league features five entrants this year. Teams are based in Calgary, Toronto, Brampton, Montreal and Boston. Lahonen said she would only consider playing in the league if she were to be drafted by the Calgary squad. But even if that happens, work would be her priority and might put a kibosh on her hockey. “The job market is really tough,” she said. “Since I’ve got a job lined up I would like to keep my foot in that door.”
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[ distance learning ]
PhD candidate wins award to pursue pollination research PhD candidate Kyle Bobiwash is one of 25 Aboriginal students who received the 2015 Irving K. Barber Aboriginal Student Graduate Award. With the $5,000 renewable award Bobiwash, 31, is free to undertake his doctoral research in pollination at Simon Fraser University without having to worry about working on the side. “It’s a full-time job,” says Bobiwash, “I’m working at it from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. – they’re full days. It would be difficult to manage my workload and have to work as well.” Pursuing a PhD in Biology, the focus of Bobiwash’s research is pollination ecology – looking at which native pollinators are important for crop pollination and how pollinator diversity impacts crop yield. By planting wildflowers next to blueberry fields, for example, he examines whether increased floral resources leads to greater native bee pollination and fruit yield as compared to a field with only honeybees. By understanding the relationships between pollinators and crops, Bobiwash, of the Mississauga First Nation, intends to develop farm systems that are productive and profitable to create opportunities for First Nation communities. He’s had a love of bees and nature from a young age. “I’ve always been interested in the natural world,” says Bobiwash. “I remember learning about bees on Reading Rainbow when I was really young and being so fascinated.” Growing up with traditional farming practices, like wildfire burning, taught Bobiwash about the relationship between land and food, and how to manage land in an ecologically sustainable way. Complemented by his interest in beekeeping and his studies, Bobiwash developed
a thorough understanding of how biodiversity supports healthy ecosystems and thriving communities. “Many communities have lost their traditional agriculture practices,” says Bobiwash, “I soon saw the direct benefits that understanding ecology could provide to native species, farmers and communities.” While a lifelong passion for this work helps him to persevere, Bobiwash admits that it’s not always easy and limited funding available for doctoral studies makes it particularly challenging. “There are definitely times where you start to wonder, is it really worth it?” says Bobiwash. However, he now shows no sign of letting up. Once he completes his research, Bobiwash wants to help create sustainable farms on reserves using everything he’s learned. By creating productive and profitable farms, Bobiwash wants to demonstrate the opportunity that First Nations communities have in sustainable agriculture. He wants to incorporate research and academia, jobs, economics, scientists, and accountants to show that agriculture can truly sustain a community. “It doesn’t matter how hard school is for you,” says Bobiwash, “If you have something that you really love, just keep knocking on those doors – just keep on going. Chip away, chip away, chip away.” The BC Aboriginal Student Award, established in 2008, supports Aboriginal students pursuing post-secondary education in British Columbia. For more information on all of the Irving K. Barber Aboriginal Scholarships and Awards visit www.ikbbc.ca/web/aboriginal. Applications for the Aboriginal Awards Program re-open in November 2015.
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[ distance learning ]
Learning is a growing concern at Tsawwassen Farm School By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
Tsawwassen First Nation and Kwantlen Polytechnic University dig deep to grow new farmers.
While farming is sometimes thought to be a colonial practice imposed on First Nations by force by European governments, one First Nation in Canada is embracing it. The Tsawwassen First Nation recently formed a partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to bring a farming program directly to Tsawwassen land. The “farm school” teaches how to plant, grow and manage small-scale and ecologicallysound farms, as opposed to a large-scale industrial approach to farming. The Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School is a collaboration between Tsawwassen First Nation and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. Registration for the 2016 season is open now, but beware. Prepare for some seriously physical hard work. “The farm is on 20-acres and it’s just going to grow better every year. It’s a great teaching program because it’s good hard outside work, but also teaches people about team work and the need for team work to get everything done,” said Deana Jacobs, a member of Tsawwassen First Nation and a student in last year’s Farm School program. “Some people can’t handle it because it’s hard work, but the ones that do feel very gratified in the end,” she said. The program is in its second year. Jacobs was part of last year’s pilot run. Already an avid gardener and professional greenhouse owner, her participation in the program gave her the boost she needed to take her business to a higher level. “It interested me because I wanted to learn more about nature and soils… and to incorporate what I learned in my existing business and what I do from home. I’ve learned a variety of vegetables that would suit my baskets and I’ve learned a variety of native plants I could incorporate,” she said. And she’s still learning. The program offers a multitude of comprehensive courses, including building greenhouses, soil quality and nutrient density, crop planting and management, and even animal husbandry—yes, there are chickens and pigs on the farm in Tsawwassen. Jacobs took it upon herself to stay in touch with one particular teacher of a course she took. “There’s this Native Elder from Musqueam who taught us, and I had no idea I had so many plants in my own backyard. Now I want to use those for my healing teas and I want to get the seeds and grow more... I’m hoping to grow sweetgrass for my smudge kits,” she said. And there are other bonuses to
the program, too. It has given the community members something a lot more beautiful than buildings and developed land to look at, and it’s helping to recreate and preserve natural Indigenous plant landscapes, Jacobs said. It’s even helped her to understand nutrition better. “It really opened my eyes to the seriousness of pesticides out there, and corporate grocery stores, and the lack of nutrients in food.... And how it’s possible for everyone to grow their own food or at least shop locally in the market,” said Jacobs. Dr. Kent Mullinix is the director of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He oversees the program in Tsawwassen, as well as one in Richmond, B.C. But he says there are key differences between the approaches taken in both locations, and the program in Tsawwassen was tailored specifically with the Indigenous population in mind. “One of the things that distinguishes the First Nation farm school from the Richmond school is that the Tsawwassen First Nation school is more linked to the community. In addition to teaching about the farm, we want to do things to create a place for community gatherings, to create a place for parents to bring their children, to see the farm and the animals, and experience that,” he said. Mullinix helps run the program, and said there is a specific reason it does not use entrance examinations, term papers, mid-term exams, or textbooks. The program is intended to be “pure teaching and pure learning”—a practical hands-on experience aligned with a traditional Indigenous way of life. And although it’s still a work in progress, and has gone through some modifications between the two seasons so far, it’s been successful in achieving most of the community’s and the school’s objectives. It’s also worth noting that the community approached the school to request the program come to them, and not the other way around, said Mullinix. “For some folks there’s this residual disdain for farming because of residential schools… because it’s a colonialist enterprise. Those sentiments have been expressed to me, but others have expressed that it’s important for us to do and could be important for our future,” he said. “And I was particularly enthusiastic to do it because I think the Indigenous communities have a lot to teach us about stewardship of land, and about farming with Mother Earth,” said Mullinix. For more information or to register at the Farm School, visit http://www.kpu.ca/tfnfarm
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[ careers & training ]
AMMSA applies to operate urban Indigenous stations The Canadian Radiotelevision and Te l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s Commission (CRTC) has announced that it has received 12 applications to operate radio stations serving urban Indigenous Canadians in major markets, reads a press statement. Specifically, the CRTC has received two applications for stations in Vancouver, three for Calgary, three for Edmonton, two for Toronto and two for Ottawa. Five organizations have submitted applications: the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (the publisher of Windspeaker operator of CFWE-FM), Watwatay Native Communications Society, Northern Native Broadcasting, VMS Media Group Ltd. and
First Peoples Radio Inc. Frequencies became available in these markets after the CRTC revoked, in June 2015, Aboriginal Voices Radio’s licences for its radio stations. The CRTC took this decision due to numerous, serious and repeated instances of noncompliance with the regulations and the broadcaster’s conditions of licence. Aboriginal Voices Radio subsequently filed an application with the Federal Court of Appeal. The Court stayed the CRTC’s revocation and ordered that Aboriginal Voices Radio’s licences remain in effect until the appeal is determined. The CRTC has stated that it will announce a public process to consider these applications at a later date.
Windspeaker to publish online Continued from page 11. “Much of the Alberta Sweetgrass coverage impacts CFWE radio listeners so there will be a direct tie-in. Windspeaker news impacting Alberta listeners will also be utilized to help build the radio news package on CFWE. Incorporating Windspeaker and Sweetgrass will be a significant improvement to the
number of voices and views that make up CFWE news,” said Macedo. While AMMSA is in the process of hiring a news director for radio and publishing to coordinate the coverage among all of its platforms, the move of Windspeaker to on-line, says Macedo, has not impacted office staff or freelance writers.
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[ footprints ]
Activist had huge FBI file By Dianne Meili
Lakota activist and poet John Trudell said that when he buried his wife and three children, he became the earth that received them. His family, along with his mother-in-law, died in a house fire he maintained to his death was set by the FBI in 1979 to silence him and AIM, the American Indian Movement. Known for his peaceful opposition to unjust government policy toward Indigenous people – and as someone who’s had a key role in every significant event having to do with equal rights for Native Americans – John also advocated for the earth because “the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it.” Questioning society’s material addiction and misled priorities, he dedicated his life to Indigenous human rights and land issues. His intelligent wit and outspoken lobbying also made him one of the FBI’s most wanted. “After he lost his family, we never saw him, and he went into himself. That’s when his anger and sorrow began to come out in the poetry most people know him for,” said his half-sister Edna Baumann-Trudell. John, by this time, had retreated to Vancouver, trying unsuccessfully to obtain asylum and refugee status in Canada. Lengthy gaps had always punctuated reunions between John and his birth family. “He thought he was being followed by the FBI and he didn’t want to put any of us in danger,” Baumann-Trudell said. But she remembers her kid brother as a quick-talker who could get anybody to do anything. “He got my sister to do his chores by telling her he didn’t know how to sweep and he wanted her to demonstrate. By the time she finished, the job was done and he skipped off. He was always doing stuff like that. Smart as a fox. And with a wicked sense of humour.” Born on Feb. 15, 1946 in Omaha, Nebraska, John was raised by a truck-driving Santee Sioux father, Clifford Trudell,
and a Mexican Indian mother who died in childbirth when he was only six. “He was your typical boy who hated school,” said Baumann-Trudell. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17 in 1963 to get away from book learning; upon returning to civilian life he went to California, got married, and trained for a career in radio and broadcasting.” His life took a turn when students and organizers occupied Alcatraz Island in 1969. For eight months, the group – calling themselves “Indians of All Tribes” – held the rock “legally”, based on the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, which stated any abandoned federal property would revert to the Indian Nations. Using his radio experience, John fuelled the Native American rights movement on “Radio Free Alcatraz”. A compelling speaker, he became the voice of the occupation, and gained national attention. The occupation fell apart in 1971— as did his marriage – without having gained ground on its demands to government. But, it produced AIM. First, the activists gained a profile protesting the droppedcharges against two brothers who beat 51-year-old Raymond Yellow Thunder to death in a bar in 1972, but scattered after a take-over of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building shortly after. Reuniting in 1973 for the occupation of Wounded Knee village along with the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights organization, AIM – based in Minneapolis, Minnesota – hit the headlines, with John acting as its chairman and national spokesperson. He relinquished the position in 1979. This was the time he lost his family to a fire in his wife’s parents’ home on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada. Tina Manning perished, along with his children Ricarda Star, Sunshine Karma, Eli Changing Sun, unborn son Josiah Hawk, and Tina’s mother Leah Hicks Manning. The family was known to have enemies within local law enforcement, but John believed
the fire was “set up” by the FBI as a strategy to silence his protest of the Bureau’s abuses toward AIM and Native Americans. Indeed, the FBI tagged him as “extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous” in an early memo within the 17,000-page dossier they kept on him, one of the longest in history. Though he hired a private investigator to determine the cause of the fire, no cause was ever found. The numbness he felt after the tragedy receded as he began to write, a talent that made him famous. “I didn’t even know what reality was … then these lines came into my head,” John said in the 2005 documentary Trudell, by Heather Rae. He explained that what others came to know as poetry were actually “hanging-on” lines given to him
by the spirit of his dead wife Tina. “She gave me the lines to follow … so I won’t fall completely … that feeling of falling apart, it doesn’t go away,” he added. After publishing Living in Reality, a chapbook, in 1982, he began putting his poetry to traditional Aboriginal music, sparking a spoken word movement some say is a continuation of Indigenous oral tradition. He gained the attention of musician Jackson Browne, and the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson. Peter Gabriel and the band Midnight Oil also invited him onstage with them. John and his band Bad Dogs released their Blue Indians recording in 1999, which won a Native American Music Award, while his book Stickman: Poems,
Lyrics, Talks gained him international success that same year. United States popular music critic Neal Ullestad said of Trudell’s live performances, “This isn’t simply pop rock with Indian drums and chants added. It’s integrated rock and roll by an American Indian with a multi-cultural band directed to anyone who will listen.” John’s acting career gained him another set of fans, especially when he played the enigmatic, radical activist and shapeshifter Jimmy Looks Twice in 1992’s Thunderheart, with Val Kilmer and Graham Greene. The beloved figurehead died from cancer on Dec. 8, 2015. “My ride’s here. Love life, love each other,” he said at the end.
Every single Windspeaker article ever published (well, almost) is now available on our online archives at www.ammsa.com The archives are free to search and read. March 2016
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AA new new dawn dawn in in Indigenous Indigenous communications communications windspeaker.com windspeaker.com P a g e [ 28 ]
Windspeaker Volume 33 Number 12