Action needs to follow words as NDP promise to withdraw Bill 22 By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
ATHABASCA CHIPEWYAN FIRST NATION Two days after Treaty 8 signed a protocol agreement with the province and Treaty 8 Deputy Grand Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom said, “Actions will speak louder than words,” the government has announced it will be withdrawing Bill 22. Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan said Wednesday the government would withdraw the bill, which created a levy to fund, in part, the province’s Aboriginal Consultation Office. The bill passed all three readings under the Conservative government but had not been enacted. But as far as Eriel Deranger, spokesperson for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, is concerned, the government is still about words. She notes that this is the third time – but this time publicly – that the NDP government has said that it would repeal Bill 22. “It’s still words. We need to see action,” she said. Feehan said the bill will be withdrawn next week in the legislature. The bill, introduced by the Conservative government, directs industry to pay fees into a pot to be collected by the government and distributed through the ACO, which is part of the Indigenous relations ministry. The money would also help operate the ACO. First Nations were opposed to Bill 22 as they had not been consulted on it. Deranger is wary about Feehan’s announcement also because he has not said how that lost revenue will be replaced. Presently, First Nations must negotiate consultation fees from the company whose development could impact the First Nation. Deranger also says that withdrawing Bill 22 will have little to no impact on court action ACFN began in 2014 against the government’s policy on land and natural resource management. At issue, she says, was the ACO’s recommendation to the joint review panel that TransCanada did not have to consult with ACFN on the development of the Grand Rapids pipeline. ACO claimed, without consulting with ACFN, that the First Nation would not be impacted because the pipeline project was on the boundaries of ACFN traditional territory. On Tuesday, Fort McKay First Nation announced it had filed a law suit against the province following the decision by the ACO to advance Prosper Petroleum Ltd.’s application on to Alberta Energy Regulator for approval. Prosper wants to develop an oil sands lease on the border of Moose Lake Reserve. In a news release, Chief Jim Boucher said passing approval on to AER left no recourse for Fort McKay First Nation as AER does not have the jurisdiction to consider Aboriginal or treaty rights or the capacity to delay approval of the Prosper project until a plan is in place to protect the environment and Fort McKay’s rights. Feehan said the government will consult with First Nations to redesign Aboriginal consultation. Once more, Deranger says she is looking for more than talk. “We do have a lot of rhetoric that’s been bolstered in the public by national and provincial leaders on renewed relationships with First Nations … but we haven’t really seen a lot come to fruition,” she said.
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Health disparities topic of weekend forum The School of Public Health at the University of Alberta will be hosting an international conference entitled Transforming Health Care in Remote Communities, on Friday and Saturday, in Edmonton. Among the topics to be discussed is the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations as well as the challenges faced by health care in Canada’s North, other circumpolar regions such as Alaska, Greenland, the Nordic countries, and Arctic Russia. Speakers from the School of Public Health include Dean Kue Young, Professor Stephanie Montesanti and Professor Arto Ohinmaa. In addition, the conference will host speakers from across Canada. Minister of Health in the Northwest Territories Glen Abernethy will offer the greeting.
Notley promotes Climate Leadership Plan in the U.S. Premier Rachel Notley will be pushing environmental responsibility and diversification across sectors when she is in Washington Wednesday and Thursday. Notley will draw attention to Alberta’s progress on the Climate Leadership Plan and how it will create opportunities to advance clean technologies and renewables for global markets. She will also address the measures government has taken to support the economy through the economic downturn. Notley will meet with U.S. government officials, elected representatives and public policy think tanks.
Marked increase in gonorrhea rates for young Indigenous females Sexually transmitted infections have reached outbreak levels in Alberta and social media hook-ups are largely to blame. Cases of gonorrhea in 2015 are up 80 per cent from 2014, with nearly half of all cases among young Indigenous females. Infectious syphilis in 2015 doubled from 2014, with the increase most notably in men who have sex with men (MSM). “New social media tools enable people to communicate quickly to arrange anonymous sexual encounters, resulting in increased difficulty in tracking STIs. When people don’t know their sexual partners’ identities, it makes it difficult to contact partners for follow-up testing and treatment,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karen Grimsrud. Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are working together to raise awareness of the outbreak, the risks of anonymous sexual encounters, the importance of testing, and safe sex practices. AHS has expanded STI clinic hours in Edmonton and Calgary, increased outreach testing in Edmonton in collaboration with agencies serving Indigenous and MSM populations, and reached out to physicians to increase STI testing for clients that are sexually active. AHS will also continue with its social media campaign to raise awareness and encourage STI testing. STIs are a significant health issue for Albertans, resulting in health, social, emotional, and economic costs. Some of these issues can be long-term.
Fort McKay First Nation begins legal action to stop development encroachment into Moose Lake Fort McKay First Nation has filed a law suit against the province following the decision by the Alberta Consultation Office that an application by Prosper Petroleum Ltd. to develop an oil sands lease on the border of Fort McKay’s Moose Lake Reserve can be processed for approval by the Alberta Energy Regulator. “One department of government is barreling ahead with development while Minister (Shannon) Phillips (Environment and Parks and responsible for the Climate Change Office) and other government officials are working with us to protect the same area from development,” said Chief Jim Boucher, in a news release. Boucher said that former Premier Jim Prentice had promised a plan to control intensive oil sands development on the borders of the Moose Lake Reserve, and that plan was adopted by the new government. The plan would protect the ecology and natural features of the area enough to enable traditional activities, including hunting and trapping, to continue, but would also permit the oil sands resource to be extracted over time with controls on the pace, proximity and density of projects. The plan, however, has not been completed. Prosper Petroleum’s project, with its first phase to extend within 2 km of the Moose Lake Reserve, is before the Alberta
Energy Regulator, which has no jurisdiction to consider Aboriginal or treaty rights or the capacity to delay approval of the Prosper project until a plan is in place to protect the environment and Fort McKay’s rights, said Boucher.
Dene Tha First Nation looks to join Dene Nation April 26, 2016. Dene Tha First Nation wants to become the second Alberta First Nation to join the Northwest Territories-centred Dene Nation, claiming the in-Canada borders are artificial. “We do have traditional boundaries that overlap into Northwest Territories,” said†Chief Joe Pastion, “and our Elders, through our oral history, they do paint the picture that the majority of our area... back in the nomadic days, a lot of Dene people travel the land. A lot of settlements were not too far in the Northwest Territories.” Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation joined the Dene Nation in 2011. The Dene Nation currently represents 34 different First Nations, bands and councils. The only other outside-NWT council that is part of the Dene Nation is the Arctic Athabaskan Council, headquartered in Whitehorse.
Liberals funding expands Trade Winds at NAIT Randy Boissonnault, Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre, announced Monday that the federal government plans to spend more than $1 million on a program designed to help get Indigenous young people into the trades. Trade Winds, run through NAIT, offers 14- to 16-week pre-apprenticeship training to Indigenous students for almost every trade. By completing the program the students receive their safety tickets and become apprenticeship-ready. The additional funding and additional partners will see the program’s capacity increase from 135 to 400 students, as well as renovate training spaces, launch new marketing plans and create a new outreach business model for Bonnyville. Since the†program began in 2005, more than 1,000 students have graduated.
Firefighter charged in trestle bridge fire A Mayerthorpe firefighter will appear in Stony Plain Provincial Court on Wednesday facing 18 counts of arson, including setting fire to the CN trestle bridge in Mayerthorpe. Lawson†Michael Schalm†was arrested and charged by the Mayerthorpe RCMP on Saturday. Schalm helped fight the trestle fire, which claimed the bridge on April 26. Schalm is the son of a former mayor of Mayerthorpe and joined the department as a junior member when he was 15. Aiding local RCMP in the investigation, which involved a rash of fires in the community, were the CN Police and Edmonton and Whitecourt general investigative sections.
ENMAX funding will help prevent homelessness Bissell Centre announced new funding from ENMAX, which will increase the organization’s ability to prevent homelessness in Edmonton. Joining previous funders, ENMAX’s significant contribution for Bissell Centre’s Community Bridge program will help stop imminent evictions for people who are on the edge of becoming homeless and struggling to meet their basic needs. “Over half of the people who benefit from the Community Bridge program are children. This means they are able to stay in school, stay with their families, and not endure the stress and anxiety that comes with being uprooted. If we are going to end homelessness, prevention is a must, and this program does that well,” said Gary St. Amand, CEO Bissell Centre. The Community Bridge program, launched in July 2014, is Edmonton’s first collaboration between businesses and organizations to prevent homelessness by preventing evictions.
Drugs, cash seized from Blood Reserve residence Two adults and three youth were arrested in the community of Moses Lake, on the Blood Reserve, and charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds obtained by a crime. A search of the residence was carried out by Crime Reduction Unit of the Blood Tribe Police Service and the Cardston RCMP. Approximately seven ounces of marijuana with a street value of approximately $2,000 and $1,131 in Canadian currency were seized. Cyles Chief Body, 20, and Vaugn Oka, 23, will appear in Cardston Provincial Court. The youth, who cannot be named, will appear in youth court in Cardston.
May II 2016