33 No. 6 • September 2015
Malahat First Nation the final piece of Steelhead LNG puzzle Page 7
Flood victims suffer as multi-million dollar project made priority Page 8
Stats staggering in fentanyl-related drug deaths Page 9
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Accord signed Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Premier Kathleen Wynne sign political accord at Queen’s Park Aug. 24. Please see full story on page 6.
Photo: Barb Nahwegahbow
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Malahat First Nation the final piece of Steelhead LNG puzzle
Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG has announced the signing of a Mutual Benefits Agreement and Long-Term Lease with Malahat First Nation to export natural gas fracked in Northeastern B.C.
Flood victims suffer as multi-million dollar project made priority
The decision by Canada and Manitoba to fund infrastructure on Lake Manitoba while nearly 2,000 First Nations members remain homeless has First Nations leaders questioning government priorities.
The discovery of about 30 dead blue herons near a run-off pond at a Syncrude operation in northeastern Alberta has resulted in an outcry against oversight and management of oilsands operations.
Stats staggering in fentanyl-related drug deaths
Sixteen fentanyl-related overdoses all in the evening of Aug. 9 in Vancouver have brought national attention to an issue the Blood Tribe has been tackling head-on. In March, the First Nation in the Blackfoot Confederacy in southern Alberta declared a local state of emergency in response to 13 deaths over four months due to drug overdoses.
Indigenous candidates abound, yet election pans Aboriginal issues 10 Candidates, leaders of national Aboriginal organizations, and academia all say that, to date, the federal election has been light on issues that impact the country’s Indigenous peoples.
The advertising deadline for the October 2015 issue of Windspeaker is September 17, 2015. Call toll free at: 1-800-661-5469 for more information. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Departments [ rants and raves ] 5 [ windspeaker briefs ] 9 [ provincial news ] 12 - 13 [ health ] 14 [ sports ] 15 [ education ] 16 & 17 [ footprints ] Private Robert Bruce 18 Even though he returned to Juno Beach with mixed feelings, Private Robert Bruce made the trip in 2009 to be honoured as a Métis soldier. The Elder made the trip with 50 Canadian delegates as one of only a handful of D-Day soldiers who attended the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to Metis veterans at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The centre is immediately behind the beach in Normandy where 14,000 Canadian troops landed on June 6, 1944.
Mystery remains regarding bird deaths at mine site 8
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Has the corner been turned? Within the last week, governments of different political stripes have stood with First Nations and committed to changing— fundamentally—the relationship that their provinces have had with the Indigenous people of this land. Have we really, finally, turned a corner? On Aug. 21 in Edmonton, NDP Premier Rachel Notley, of the fresh new ruling party in Alberta, joined the 50 Treaty 6 Nations in commemorating the signing of that historic agreement in 1877. Grand Chief Tony Alexis noted that there was work to be done around the infrastructure of communication, sharing information, and empowerment, but there must have been some gratification that, in June, Notley had suggested substantial headway would be made towards a respectful relationship. She apologized to Aboriginal people for staying silent on residential schools, for one thing. “We deeply regret the profound harm and damage that occurred to generations of children,” she told the legislature. “Although the province of Alberta did not establish this system, members of this chamber at the time did not take a stand against it. For this silence, we apologize.” At that time she committed to a “fundamental shift” in the relationship between the province and the Indigenous people within Alberta’s borders. Notley also that day called for a national inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal women—which the federal NDP has committed to within the first 100 days of taking office— “because it is the right thing to do,” she said. And then on Aug. 24, Premier Kathleen Wynne of the ruling provincial Liberal Party in Ontario, who has stumped for federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, set the table for the Chiefs of Ontario with the signing of a political accord that will guide their relationship going forward. She acknowledged that, in some cases, the accord was not even about rebuilding a crumbling relationship, but building one “from scratch.” The accord acknowledges the inherent right to self-government and the respectful way in which that right should be viewed. The accord commits the parties to working together on resource benefits sharing and jurisdictional matters. Regional Chief Isadore Day called it “the most important collective milestone in modern times,” advancing jurisdiction and treaty rights “on our own terms.” So, what’s happening here? What’s the big change in perspective for these provinces? Are governments waking up, taking notice, that it’s hard to get anything done if you don’t have that ole’ ‘social license’ to develop in First Nations territory? Well, that’s a tale yet to be told after the circus has left town. It’s the long-term progress of all this new-found lovey-dovey talk that we’ll be judging. Call us cynical, but let’s not forget that we are in the midst of a federal election
and it wouldn’t be the first time that First Nations have been used as handy props to woo votes. Now, not to throw cold water on the big party in Ontario, but, just days before this announcement, on Aug. 18, Chief Day was complaining bitterly to the Toronto Star about being completely excluded from the decision to sell Hydro One. To the Star, Day said the sale could have a substantial impact on First Nations economic and environmental futures. “There was virtually nothing leading up to (the sale), and we know the transmittal of that sale has begun through legislation,” he said, referring to the June 3 budget bill that approved the sale of 60 per cent of Hydro One,” reads the Star’s report. They also reported that it would be very difficult for that sale to be completed without First Nations support. We’re not pulling a page from the Monte Solberg song book—remember that former Conservative finance critic from a decade ago who said a Harper government would not honour the Kelowna Accord because it was “something the Liberals crafted at the last moment on the back of a napkin”—but surely, with all the high level negotiations presumably going on to craft the new Ontario political accord, an important milestone in provincial/First Nations relations, that there would have been a more direct and effective avenue for Day to make his Hydro One complaint than to go public with such agro just days before the announcement. The proof will be in the pudding going forward, is all we’re saying. We’ve become a little nauseated by the promises to First Nations by provincial governments. There’s a big photo op and then the bubble bursts on the way home in the car. Just ask B.C. about its New Relationship dog and pony show under the Campbell regime a decade ago. That too was based on “respect, recognition and accommodation of Aboriginal title and rights, including the inherent right of First Nations governance.” What happened to that? We still have the same Liberal government in power, just with a different leader, and she hasn’t come out to rescind the New Relationship document, yet we have B.C. nations fighting the province over the construction of Site C dam in Northeastern B.C., fighting the provincial government over the LNG terminal being built in the sensitive salmon habitat at Lelu in Northwestern B.C. Sewer sludge is being poured all over the territory in the Kelowna Valley and five chiefs earlier this year had to occupy the current premier’s constituency office, just to get her attention. Where’s the love, Christy Clark? These accords are just words on paper. The big story—the real story—happens after the cameras are gone and the work is done. It’s the implementation of the document that we’ll be interested in. Windspeaker
Do you have a rant or a rave? Criticism or praise? E-mail us at: email@example.com twitter: @windspeakernews facebook: /windspeakernews September 2015
[ rants and raves ]
Page 5 Chatter Rob Demarais is searching for the remains of First Nations people who were buried on Scholten Hill, Alta. in the late-1800s and disinterred in the mid-twentieth century because of road construction. The remains had been reinterred in Medicine Hat. Then they were again disinterred and sent to the University of Alberta for research. A report in a local newspaper Nov. 19, 1959 say city work crews came upon the burial site while they were building City View Road, which became Scholten Hill. The newspaper reported the remains were wrapped in bright blankets with tin cups, a pipe and buttons buried with the bodies. “I’d like to see them brought back if they’re sitting in boxes,” Demarais told the paper. Esplanade Archives report that in the 1960s excavation uncovered the bodies of 11 adults and two children, and those remains were taken to the university at Edmonton. What happened to the remains after that is what Demarais is hoping to discover.
About 13 per cent of the eligible voters of the Menominee Tribe cast ballots to approve both the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana on tribal grounds in a referendum described as “advisory”, meaning leadership is not bound by results. There are about 9,000 members of the tribe, and Menominee is the only Wisconsin tribe solely responsible for enforcing its own laws. “The state has no criminal jurisdiction over the Menominee Reservation, and we will continue to monitor this issue going forward,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel in a written statement. The tribe now can decide to legalize recreational and medical marijuana, making anyone over 21 able to get a permit to purchase marijuana from the tribe and possess it. Anyone who has received a written recommendation or prescription from a medical provider would also be able to purchase it from the tribe. Almost 60 per cent of those voting said yes to recreational use being approved, and 77 per cent approved of medicinal use. The tribe now wants to take a close look at the potential of selling marijuana, and will also look at the drawbacks. Gary Besaw, Menominee chairman, said they want to make sure minors do not have access to it, gangs do not become involved, and that it does not go outside the reservation to places where it is illegal.
Matt Cruickshank sketched Duke Kahanamoku’s face on a wooden surfboard for the Google Doodle Aug. 24, the graphic that accompanies Google’s search box on the Internet. Kahanamoku was an Olympian, medaling five times in swimming. He was also considered the father of modern surfing. Aug. 24 marked his birthday. He was born in Honolulu in 1890 and is the only person to be inducted into both the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Surfing Hall of Fame. The Indigenous Kahanamoku traveled the world putting on swimming exhibitions, and increasing interest in surfing.
A new technique has been applied to the ear bone of Arctic Grayling and Slimy Sculpin which measures heavy metal concentrations in fish. Dr. Norman Halden from the University of Manitoba developed the technique of fish otolith microchemistry and the Yukon Research Centre, Access Consulting Group, and Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation applied it on fish from the Keno Hill mining district. “This technique has the potential to provide First Nations, regulators, and other Northerners with robust data to inform land and water decisions in Yukon,” said Dr. Amelie Janin, Industrial Research Chair of the Centre. “This information could advance our understanding of the local ecosystem and become an additional technique in the environmental assessment toolbox.” Said Chief Simon Mervyn, “Our nation is interested in using research and innovation to assist us in better understanding and managing these impacts to further support us in being successful environmental stewards.” The baseline data can assess contaminants exposure over the lifespan of the fish species.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples received funding from Status of Women Canada for a project to engage men and boys in the prevention of violence toward Aboriginal women. “This project will engage both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men and boys across Canada to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls,” said CAP Vice-Chief Ron Swain. The organization will deliver a toolkit for community use and create an annual awareness-raising event for men to step forward and take responsibility for addressing violence against Aboriginal women, he continued. As part of Status of Women Canada’s Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes against Aboriginal Women and Girls, this project will provide concrete tools to help prevent violence against Aboriginal women and girls. “We hope to inspire men and boys from across the country to get involved in ending violence toward women. We will provide education, skills development and tools, and support service providers and community organizations to encourage non-violence”, said Swain. “We will do this through culturally-relevant teachings to our constituents while being cognizant of the diversity among Aboriginal communities. And we hope to re-establish traditional relationships between women and men through understanding that our teachings have never tolerated violence toward women. We will also aim to raise awareness among non-Aboriginal men and help with efforts in those communities as well.”
[ news ]
Political Accord promises new relationship
PHOTO: BARB NAHWEGAHBOW
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Premier Kathleen Wynne sign political accord at Queen’s Park Aug. 24. By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
At Queen’s Park on Aug. 24, Elder Garry Sault from Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation opened what Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day Wiindawtegowinini called, “a momentous occasion.” A political accord was signed between the Chiefs of Ontario, represented by Day, and the Ontario Government, represented by Premier Kathleen Wynne. The accord commits to a renewed relationship between Ontario First Nations and the provincial government. As Elder Sault lit the pipe for the opening, he told the 75 people gathered that the pipe represents the territory, the Treaty rights that go along with the territory and the responsibility given to look after
the land. “It’s all about Mother Earth and protection of the land,” he said, as he offered the pipe to the chiefs, the premier and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer.† Smoking the pipe binds First Nations leaders and provincial government leaders, said Sault, and our voices are as one. “Once again, we have the Treaty relationship,” he said. Premier Wynne reflected on the shared long history between First Nations and the Crown. “We’ve seen, time and time again, when this relationship is not respected. The consequences are painful and long-lasting,” said Wynne. “By signing this political accord today, we’re taking an important step to renew the relationship between First Nations and Ontario, and an important step in the important revitalization of First Nations communities,” she said.
Wynne added that in some cases, she understands that the relationship has to be built from scratch and acknowledged the work that will take. The accord commits all parties, said Wynne, to work together on shared priorities, including the treaty relationship, resource benefits and revenue sharing, and jurisdictional matters involving First Nations in Ontario. She committed her government to turn the general principles contained in the accord into real and measurable results for First Nations people. Now is the time, she said, to work on real change that will make a difference in people’s lives today and build a better future for our children and grandchildren. Regional Chief Day said the signing of the political accord was “a very, very important event for Ontario and First Nations in Ontario.” He said it “marks a new era of relationship on the
treaty lands on which Ontario is situated. The importance of the treaty relationship cannot be denied nor should it be misunderstood,” said Day. He acknowledged that other players, primarily the federal government, need to be brought to the table along with municipalities. Day gave a brief history lesson and said that there has been a practice on the part of the Crown of not honoring the treaties, which has resulted in a long list of land claims. To move forward with a renewed relationship “it is this kind of history that we must face headon,” he said, “but we face that history with respect and collaboration.” “For centuries,” Day continued, “our relationship has gone in only one direction. First Nations were not only robbed of their lands, our children were denied a future and had imposed
on them residential schools.” Day said both parties will have to find a way to enforce the accord. “Other nations have enforcement mechanisms when they enter into treaties,” he said. “Why have there never been enforcement mechanisms built into treaties with First Nations people? We must take measures, we must create criteria of what that enforcement means.” The accord recognizes that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government and that the relationship between Ontario and First Nations must be based upon respect for this right. The accord contains provision for two meetings yearly between the Political Confederacy of the Chiefs of Ontario and the Premier, with the agenda including a joint assessment on the progress on the identified priorities and issues.
Educators to be honoured for improving Indigenous learning Nine recipients of 2015 Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards were announced Aug. 25 and they will be honored at a gala ceremony in Calgary on Nov. 13. Community Service awards will be bestowed on Dr. Monique Annette Giard of British Columbia and Loretta C. Woodhouse of Manitoba, the Culture, Language and Traditions awards will go to Elizabeth Aapak Fowler of the Northwest Territories and Delvin Kanewiyakiho of Saskatchewan. The award for
Innovative Practice will go to Thomas B. Doherty of Ontario. Mona Markwart of Saskatchewan will receive the Leadership award. Partner in Indigenous Education will be received by Elizabeth Gouthro of Alberta. Celina CadaMatasawagon of Ontario will receive the Role Model award, and the Indigenous Organization award goes to Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey of Nova Scotia. The awards, presented by Indspire, recognize the achievements of outstanding educators of Indigenous
students. Guiding the Journey honourees are acknowledged for having innovative teaching practices; advocating for updated resources and more cultural teachings in the curriculum;†and helping Indigenous students reach their full potential. “These educators are exemplary in their innovation and dedication to helping First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children and youth succeed,” said Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire. “They are creating lasting change in the
communities they serve and enriching the field of Indigenous education through their contributions.” The gala is part of Indspire’s National Gathering for Indigenous Education where more than 500 participants from across the country are expected to take part in dozens of workshops and presentations during the two-day conference held in Calgary. Author and journalist Wab Kinew will deliver the keynote address. “The awards not only
celebrate the accomplishments of our educators, they highlight the critical role they play in supporting high school completion of Indigenous youth, which is vitally important, not only to the students and Indigenous communities, but to the whole of Canada,” said Cathy Glover, director of Community Investment at Suncor, a sponsor of the awards. “Congratulations to each of the recipients. It is an honour to be part of a celebration that recognizes such exceptional individuals.”
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[ news ]
Malahat First Nation the final piece of Steelhead LNG puzzle By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG has announced the signing of a Mutual Benefits Agreement and Long-Term Lease with Malahat First Nation to export natural gas fracked in Northeastern B.C. The proposed FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) terminal would have a capacity to transship up to six million tonnes (mpta) of LNG annually, and would be located at the existing deep-water port formerly known as Bamberton, located on the Saanich Peninsula. For Steelhead, the Malahat Agreement completes a five-lease package on Vancouver Island. The company previously signed four separate six-mtpa agreements with Huu-ahy-aht First Nation to build a shorebased LNG facility in their traditional territory on Sarita Bay. On Aug. 21, Malahat CEO Lawrence Lewis said both parties were subject to a confidentiality agreement that kept the location of the fifth lease secret until the signing announcement Aug. 20. “We’ve spent the better part of a year working with Steelhead, to ensure that these are folks we want to do business with. We wanted to understand a little bit about them and what they are up to. We spent 13 months doing that,” Lewis said. “What we announced yesterday was the first box in a thousand boxes that have to be checked around this process.” “We hope to be able to run the regulatory process – which is a very arduous and detailed process in B.C. – over the next two years, and after then, we will be able to make an investment decision,”
Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko said Friday. Steelhead LNG already has a $30-million contract in place with WorleyParsons Canada to conduct the Huu-ay-aht/Sarita Bay study. Kuzemko said WorleyParsons is one of several “technical partners” in the project, and they would also conduct the Malahat LNG study. “No price tag on this one yet,” he added. “The best case scenario would see us get operational in five years, but that’s only if all the stars fall in line,” Lewis said. When it was suggested that five years would be “an extremely ambitious” target, Lawrence said planning for a long, protracted process serves no one. “It’s never been done before, but you’ve got to be bold; you’ve got to set some timelines and you have to be aggressive and you’ve got to take some action. We’re going to work hard.” Because they do not extract the gas from the ground, Malahat First Nation does not receive royalties; their revenue is derived from the service provided: chilling, liquefying and loading the product onto a ship. Lewis would not say whether future Malahat revenue would be based on the volume of LNG shipped. “I am not going to speak to what our financial arrangements are, but they are diversified in terms of this project. We haven’t put all our eggs in one basket. We’ve diversified our interests and we will receive varying types of benefits depending on the stage of the project – and certainly when it’s operational.” Lewis said Malahat would receive both cash and future investments, as well as training, employment and capacitydevelopment. “We are well-diversified within
that agreement for the Nation to benefit, whether the project gets to [Financial Investment Decision] or not.” Last year, in light of the extended multimillion-dollar consulting process attached to the Huu-ay-aht/Sarita Bay project, Kuzemko was emphatic that his company had taken steps to avoid becoming entangled in a “selfperpetuating proposal,” in which the consulting process itself becomes the main revenuegenerator. Lewis echoed Kuzemko’s assertion that there is no other goal short of bringing a functioning LNG shipping facility to fruition. That is where the real benefits and “the real opportunities of a lifetime” lie, he explained. “This is a whole different game for First Nations – and that’s where we want to get. We have no interest in creating a consultant’s regime that never translates into any benefits for the Nation.” In its own Aug. 20 press release, Huu-ay-aht First Nation suggested that the development of the Malahat project would hasten the process of building the high-capacity pipeline required to transport export gas from Northern B.C. to Vancouver Island. Kuzemko was asked whether this was a concession that the Malahat project would be built first. The CEO replied that while Steelhead places equal priority on both projects, “having said that, if we do get the pipeline across from the Southern mainland across to the Island, then obviously, Malahat LNG is the first facility on the way. It makes sense from that point of view.” Kuzemko said there were several incentives to go with FLNG over a land-based
liquefaction facility as envisioned for Huu-ay-aht at Sarita Bay. “For one, we are looking at a smaller and more modest size: four to six million tonnes (per annum). [FLNG] gives you the ability to put the liquefaction trains on a barge or a small vessel… that opens up opportunities to do that.” Kuzemko said there were also environmental considerations in deciding between a marine-based or a shore-based plant. “If you do a land-based facility, you are looking at thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel on the land to make it safe and secure. If you can do that on a vessel, you don’t need to do near as much.” It was pointed out that in the Huu-ay-aht/Sarita Bay proposal, one of the benefits frequently trumpeted has been the number of high-paying jobs (up to 4,000 at peak) that would be generated during construction of infrastructure and assembly of the processing plant. By contrast, an FLNG terminal would be built and assembled offshore, likely in Korea, then simply floated into port and moored. Local construction would be limited to maintenance and administration infrastructure, as well as the hookup to the pipeline. Kuzemko said options were limited by the topography of the port. “It’s probably the only way of realistically doing it at this site. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if this was a landbased facility, because there isn’t enough room,” he explained. “It’s a very steep place.” Lewis said losing the liquefaction plant construction was not a deal-breaker. “The ship will be made somewhere else. That is for Steelhead to sort out,” he said.
“The upland side will all be constructed here. It’s not going to be a Lego-type of assembly. I don’t know what the numbers are going to be, but it’s going to require hundreds of folks, from across all sorts of sectors, with all sorts of skills.” Lewis said it is estimated that the project, when complete, would result in 200 full-time permanent jobs in a full spectrum of fields, from engineers, technicians and operators to maintenance, security and housekeeping staff. “There will be opportunities across all sectors, and many entry points for our aboriginal folks.” One fact that did not emerge at the media conference was that FLNG is an entirely new technology. To date, there is not a single working FLNG facility on the planet. According to the joint Steelhead/Malahat press release: “The use of floating liquefaction technology provides Steelhead LNG with a low impact facility that builds on the exemplary 50year safety record of LNG carriers and floating regasification and storage units.” In strict point of fact, however, while there are a number of FLNG terminals under construction worldwide, these are huge offshore facilities built to service undersea natural gas wells. (Regasification takes place at the customer end, converting the LNG back into its gaseous form for shipment via conventional pipeline.) Googling “FLNG” takes one directly to the Shell Global Prelude project currently under construction in Korea. The massive vessel is 1,600 feet long, with five times the displacement of the largest U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and a pricetag of over $10 billion. See Malahat on page 17.
Steelhead CEO says offshore gas not in his company’s plans By Shayne Morrow Windspeaker Contributor
The offshore capability of an FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) terminal immediately raises the question as to whether the Steelhead/Malahat LNG project, announced Aug. 20, has opened the door for new discussion on the issue of offshore oil and gas. Since 1972, the federal government has imposed a moratorium on offshore drilling on the B.C. coast, but the petroleum industry has continued to explore the potential for undersea oil and gas development by re-interpreting pre-moratorium drilling data
and using low-impact technologies. The Tofino Basin alone is estimated to hold 266 billion cubic metres of natural gas – no messy hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or invasive transprovincial pipeline required. In a 2012 paper authored by Joel Wood, the right-leaning Fraser Institute asked, “Is it time to lift the moratorium on offshore oil activity?” In his paper, Wood suggested the moratorium has served its purpose in postponing offshore development until better and safer technology has evolved elsewhere. “Having waited to develop its offshore fossil fuel resources leaves B.C. in the enviable
position of learning from regulatory improvements in other jurisdictions,” he wrote. Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko was asked whether the current industry campaign to frack and export Northern B.C. gas, despite concerted opposition from environmentalists and First Nations is, in part, a strategy to “destigmatize” offshore petroleum extraction as the lesser of two evils. Kuzemko said his company is not looking beyond the current LNG/FLNG proposals with Huu-ay-aht and Malahat First Nations. While he raised the possibility that the floating Malahat terminal could be installed at a different location, he categorically refuted the
suggestion that the plant could be diverted to service any future Tofino Basin gasfield. “Absolutely not. The facility wouldn’t work with a natural gas well. We’ll be taking pipeline quality gas – the same quality of gas that is provided in Vancouver,” he explained. Raw offshore gas requires a major amount of processing to remove marketable secondary hydrocarbons such as propane and butane, as well as the lowgrade solvent once known as “drip gas,” now used to dilute heavy oil from the Alberta tarsands. Each of those by-products must be extracted, stored and shipped using specialized equipment and loading
terminals. Currently, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) ships regularly pass through Vancouver harbour after loading at the Chevron Canada refinery in Burnaby. “FLNG” projects currently under construction, then, are actually floating natural gas refineries with all the required ancillary functions, and would load LPG ships as well as LNG. “That’s when you’re getting into a Shell Prelude project,” Kuzemko said. “Ours is much simpler than that.” For that reason, Kuzemko said he is confident that installing a single liquefaction technology onto a barge or ship could be accomplished without a protracted design/build process.
[ news ]
Flood victims suffer as multi-million dollar project made priority By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
WINNIPEG The decision by Canada and Manitoba to fund infrastructure on Lake Manitoba while nearly 2,000 First Nations members remain homeless has First Nations leaders questioning government priorities. “Clearly the idea of making a splashy announcement on half-abillion dollars for the benefit of Manitoba Conservatives is problematic considering the tragedy that we’ve experience for our communities has been nothing short of devastating,” said Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. Premier Greg Selinger and Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen announced a $495million plan, which calls for a second outlet channel from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin to be constructed and for the current one to be enlarged. The province
will cover $330 million with the federal government picking up the remainder. “(The governments) have to prioritize peoples’ lives. They have to prioritize the living conditions of those people… They’ve got to prioritize this before they move on to other developments,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. While reserve land is federal jurisdiction, Nepinak said the province needs to be held accountable for its decision to divert the water. The province constructed the original†emergency channel after a flood in 2011. It diverted water from the Assiniboine River through the Portage Diversion into Lake Manitoba. This increase in the water level flooded out communities on Lake Manitoba. From here the water went to Fairford Dam and overran the banks on the way to Lake St. Martin. The rise in water wiped out the Lake St. Martin First Nation. Also impacted
significantly were members of the Little Saskatchewan, Dauphin River and Pinaymootang First Nations, many of whom, four years later still remain off their land, living out of hotels in Winnipeg. But it’s not only about losing Treaty 2 land in the Interlake region, said Nepinak. “We’ve lost over 70 people (died) just from one community in the dislocation that resulted from the flooding and the evacuation,” he said. “It’s four years now. Four years. That’s just not acceptable for this issue to languish and be put on the side,” said Bellegarde. Negotiations are occurring with the four First Nations, but details have not been shared with either community members or First Nation leadership, such as himself, said Nepinak, who views secret negotiations as a government tactic. “The more the governments can control the scope of the discussion by way of keeping
small groups at the table, I think they can get results more and more in favour of what they want to promote and achieve going forward,” he said. Nepinak notes that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs tried to create an environment for collective bargaining that would include solutions, compensation, and rebuilding of communities. Their attempts to facilitate discussion, hire mediators and meet at neutral locations were rebuffed. “These are treaty lands that were devastated. These are treaty people that are impacted and the nature of the negotiations towards settlement should be based in treaty principles. And it hasn’t been. It’s been secretive. It’s been exclusive of community members and it’s frustrated a lot of people,” he said. Nepinak points out that there are more than four First Nations impacted. Close to 20, he says, used their own limited resources to cover the costs of flood
mitigation and have still received no payments. He says he has been told by these bands that the federal government is not responding to their requests for reimbursement. He holds that the Interlake communities are owed $8 million. While those negotiations have yet to be solidified, said Nepinak, Canada and Manitoba have announced a capital project that has not received input from the First Nations. “They’re now trying to put this channel through and we have to come forward to continue to push a treaty-based solution,” said Nepinak. Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson told CBC News that the province will consult with First Nations on the flood diversion projects. “The first thing that we had to do was identify the federal and provincial dollars. They were matching and we did that, and now the consultation phase has to commence,” he said.
Mystery remains regarding bird deaths at mine site By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
ATHABASCA CHIPEWYAN FIRST NATION
The discovery of about 30 dead blue herons near a run-off pond at a Syncrude operation in northeastern Alberta has resulted in an outcry against oversight and management of oilsands operations. “While the birds may not have been found in a tailing pond it’s clear the birds succumbed after exposure to something in the region. This draws out some serious concerns about how monitoring during the various stages of operations is being done. Something is failing and there is a real need to review regulatory management and monitoring parameters,” said Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Deranger said the birds were found at the Mildred Lake mine site in an area that is not actively under development in an abandoned Syncrude site location. “It’s clear reclamation needs to be prioritized more aggressively and better monitoring needs to be established for all stages of operations so we don’t see continued incidents like this,” she said. Bob Curran, spokesman with the Alberta Energy Regulator, said the regulator inspected all the dams at the Mildred Lake site
only two weeks before, from July 21 to July 23, as a regular inspection. The sump ponds were not part of the inspection. He added it has yet to be determined what caused the deaths of the birds. AER is in charge of the investigation. As part of an environmental protection order issued by the regulator four days after it received word of the deaths, Syncrude was directed to collect water and soil samples from the site. Those samples, along with information regarding wildlife deterrents Syncrude had in place at the Mildred Lake mine site at the time the birds were discovered, will be part of the “full analysis” AER will undertake, said Curran. The birds, in various stages of decomposition, were found by Syncrude personnel working at the Mildred Lake mine site and reported to AER on Aug. 7. Two days previously, Syncrude personnel discovered a distressed blue heron exposed to bitumen. Syncrude contacted Alberta Fish and Wildlife and was given permission to euthanize the bird. “Although this wasn’t on a tailings pond, which has very specific deterrent systems in place, the company is still responsible for ensuring there’s no impacts to wildlife on its mine site in general,” said Curran. “If they need deterrents at other places on the site, then we would expect that they have those in place.”
The EPO, issued Aug. 11, also directed Syncrude to develop a wildlife mitigation plan. According to Syncrude’s website, the company has already taken those steps. Along with the six effigies that “remain in place,” six rotating cannons are now being used, two of which have been repositioned to the sump floor; two falcons are operating in autonomous mode; a fence is being maintained and monitored; wildlife fencing completed; and the access to the site is being controlled around the clock. The deaths of these birds, in the vicinity of oilsands operations, are just the latest. More than 1,600 ducks died after they landed on a Syncrude tailings pond in 2008 and the company was fined $3 million. In 2010 and 2014, freak winter storms resulted in the deaths of approximately 750 birds when they were forced to land on tailings ponds. No charges were laid then. Curran says AER is presently working with the University of Alberta to review existing deterrents in an attempt to address the issue of extreme winter weather conditions forcing waterfowl to land on tailings ponds, even though “you basically have a company doing everything right.” Curran says the study is expected to be complete this fall. A report commissioned by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in 2011, when the First
Nation was battling with Shell Canada over Pierre River mine and Jackpine mine expansion, says development in the region has been considered a serious threat to birds since the 1970s. The study stated, in part, that “the presence of an extensive network of industrial waterbodies along an internationally significant migratory bird corridor poses risks to migratory and resident birdsÖ..With increasing presence, size, and distribution of tailings ponds, the hazard to birds also increases.” The study, prepared by MSES out of Calgary, noted that wetlands in the region were decreasing and that the surface area of tailings ponds exceeded natural bodies in some areas. This latest mass death of waterfowl is an indication of how monitoring needs to be stepped up, said Carolyn Campbell, conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association. The province’s ‘Alberta Wild Species General Status Listing – 2010,’ classifies blue herons as “sensitive,” which means the “overall trend for this species may be decreasing.” The entire Alberta population is dependent on fewer than 100 known nesting colonies. Management of these key habitats and protection from human disturbance is essential, she said. “The death of 30 great blue herons at one site makes it all the more important to reduce the significant adverse cumulative
effects to wildlife habitat that is now occurring in the mineable and in situ oil sands regions,” said Campbell. She notes that waterfowl mortality statistics only account for birds found dead on-site. There has been no tracking of birds, who have landed on the tailings ponds, flown away and then succumbed to pollutionrelated causes. “I think at the root of it is there’s been pretty unmanaged growth of the accumulative impacts of oilsands and these hazardous waterbodies are only one. We need to keep managing the footprint of these projects much, much better, including contaminated waters for both wildlife and ecosystem impacts,” said Campbell. Curran said no deadline has been set for AER to issue its report on the Mildred Lake mine site. “We don’t set timelines for investigations because depending on the amount of information we have to gather, how complex it is, how difficult it is to do the analysis, the time can vary widely as to how long it takes to conduct them,” he said. “Once that assessment is complete we’ll decide how we’re going to move forward. Whether or not we’ve going to pursue enforcement.” Enforcement could mean formal prosecution, Curran says. AER’s findings will be made public.
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Stats staggering in fentanyl- Windspeaker News Briefs One year has passed since the violent death of 15-year-old Tina related drug deaths Fontaine and now the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says little has changed to provide safety for other young Aboriginal women in Manitoba and across the country. While the province has decided to no longer allow foster children to be housed in hotels, and there was a high level meeting of Canada’s premiers to discuss murdered and missing women, Bellegarde said there has be little other progress made. “We still don’t know who killed Tina. We still don’t know what was the cause behind it. There’s no closure for the family,” said Bellegarde. Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River wrapped in a bag Aug. 17, 2014. Her killer has not been found, though Winnipeg police maintain her case is a “prime focus” for the homicide unit.
Rice is at the centre of a fight between the First Nations’ right to
SUPPLIED BY THE CALGARY POLICE SERVICE
“Whether you’re a recreational user popping a pill, or an entrenched user shooting heroin, you won’t see, smell or taste fentanyl, but it could very easily kill you,” said Dr. Nicholas Etches, Alberta Health Services Medical Officer of Health. AHS has launched a public campaign. By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
BLOOD FIRST NATION, Alta.
Sixteen fentanyl-related overdoses all in the evening of Aug. 9 in Vancouver have brought national attention to an issue the Blood Tribe has been tackling head-on. In March, the First Nation in the Blackfoot Confederacy in southern Alberta declared a local state of emergency in response to 13 deaths over four months due to drug overdoses. “We can’t associate all of those (deaths) to the fentanyl. We believe they’re overdoses but until the toxicology comes back from the medical examiner’s office we can’t say they were fentanyl,” said S/Sgt. Joseph Many Fingers with the Blood Tribe Police Service. In response, the BTPS instituted an Oxy-80 tip line, created a crime reduction unit with two dedicated police officers, and began educating the public. Declaring a local state of emergency, which is still in effect, also allowed the First Nation access to more services and support for the community, including Naloxone, which can be administered immediately – although not self-administered – to counter the initial effect of a fentanyl overdose. Deaths have decreased on the Blood reserve because of the education and awareness campaign, said Many Fingers. The tip line has yielded results as well. But also frustration. As quickly as the police get the drug dealer off the street and out of the reserve, there is someone else to take his place. And after the dealer has paid his fine and served his sentence, he is back in the community selling drugs that are cut with fentanyl. Dealers from other reserves are also trying to get a foothold on the drug trade on the Blood reserve. But Many Fingers says there are also local sources for the illegal
drugs. The profit is too great for a fine and insignificant jail time to be a deterrent, he said. “We’ve just got to stay on them,” said Many Fingers, who points out that all the law enforcement agencies are working in cooperation, whether they’re tribal police or RCMP. On the street, fentanyl is commonly called Oxy-80 or fake Oxy (as there is little oxycodone in it) or “greenies.” Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 750 times stronger than codeine. Fentanyl is cut into the mix with prescription drugs or used to lace illegal drugs. Often times, users either don’t know how much fentanyl their drugs include or that their drugs do include fentanyl. Fentanyl taken with alcohol can be lethal. The drug is extremely addictive and “the high they get from it is apparently greater than morphine,” said Many Fingers. While Many Fingers hasn’t heard of any other First Nations that have declared a local state of emergency because of fentanyl, he said, “Pretty much all of Canada is having problems with itÖ. I know western Canada, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., lots of problems, lots of overdoses, lots of deaths.” Recent numbers provided by the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use indicate that deaths in these three provinces have increased significantly since the network put out its first alert on fentanyl in June 2013. Many Fingers blames organized crime for making fentanyl a cheap, popular and easy-to-access commodity. According to the RCMP, fentanyl is making its way to the illicit drug market as either a diversion of pharmaceutical fentanyl from domestic supply or through smuggling, primarily from China, where fentanyl comes in to the country in powdered form and Canadianbased organized crime produce
illicit fentanyl products. On July 22, a joint investigation by the Calgary Police Service, the RCMP and Alberta Health Services resulted in the arrest of a Calgary resident and seizure of 122 grams of fentanyl, worth an estimated $348,000. The investigation began a week earlier when an officer at the Canadian Border Services Agency’s Vancouver International Mail Centre intercepted a parcel from China. Upon investigation, the officer discovered an unknown white powder she suspected was fentanyl. So far this year, Calgary police have had 34 incidents involving fentanyl seizures compared to only 12 incidents in 2014. Data provided by Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Services indicates that seizures of fentanyl had increased over 30 times from 2009 to 2014. Figures provided by the Epidemiology Network are staggering. Between 2009 and 2014, at least 655 deaths in Canada were either fentanylcaused or contributed. In that same time frame, there were at least 1,019 drug poisoning deaths in Canada where fentanyl was indicated in post-mortem toxicological screening; more than half of these deaths occurred in 2013 and 2014. Dr. Matthew Young, with the network, says no figures have been gathered specific to Aboriginal populations, either off or on-reserve. Dr. Jennifer Melamed, who operates out of Alliance Clinic in Surrey, B.C., says fentanyl is impacting anybody who uses heroin, whether it’s the suburban “recreational user,” the working class or the homeless. The Alliance Clinic treats opioid addicts providing them with methadone or suboxone. While fentanyl is only now coming to the public’s attention, Melamed says it has been an issue for years. See Stats on page 17.
harvest traditional foods and the recreational enjoyment of a body of water by cottage owners on Pigeon Lake, located north of Peterborough in Ontario. A First Nation man has been seeding the lake and harvesting rice, but cottagers said the rice is spreading, taking over the lake, choking out other plants and interfering with water use. James Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation said he plants and harvests the rice, selling it for $12 a pound. He said he has a right to access traditional foods. His people gathered rice long before the cottagers came to the area, he said. But a group of cottagers wants the lake cleared out of the rice plants, and received permission from Parks Canada to harvest aquatic weeds, with a private company beginning to remove the rice in August. Alderville First Nation, however, complained they were not consulted and the harvesting was stopped so meetings could be held with the First Nation.
The Steelworkers Humanity Fund will contribute $20,000 to help Aboriginal and northern families recover from forest fire evacuations. The money will go to Food Banks and Food For Fire Evacuees program. “The forest fires have disrupted and traumatized thousands in northern Saskatchewan and left many needing a helping hand to recover,” said Fund President Ken Neumann. Neumann praised United Steelworkers Local 8914 in northern Saskatchewan which advocated for Steelworkers Humanity Fund support for recovery efforts in the region.
Kitsumkalum First Nation and the governments of B.C. and Canada signed an Agreement-in-Principle for treaty Aug. 5 The Kitsumkalum agreement provides for about 45,406 hectares of land, north and west of Terrace, and a transfer of $44.2 million once a Final Agreement is reached. The agreement covers a variety of chapters, including governance, taxation and resources,” reads a press statement from the provincial government. “This is a happy occasion and we are pleased to recognize and celebrate this important milestone,” said Kitsumkalum Chief Don Roberts. “It has been a long process which was initiated by our Elders many years ago. Kitsumkalum First Nation has chosen the path for change and this couldn’t have been possible without community support and the many years of hard work of our elders and negotiation team. I am proud of these efforts which lay the foundation of self-government and economic independence. This will help bring control to our future within our territory lands of the four crest clans; and with that will follow the economic certainty.”
Kitselas First Nation, B.C. and Canada have also signed an Agreement-In-Principle. The agreement provides for 36,158 hectares of land east of Terrace, and a transfer of $34.7 million once a Final Agreement is reached. “It has been a longer road getting to this stage than we expected, but we have waited much longer, generations, to regain our self-governance,” said Joe Bevan, chief of Kitselas. “We realize this is a challenging process for all parties and are pleased with the commitment that the province and Canada have made in moving this along. Kitselas has seen significant growth in the past couple of years and we foresee greater involvement in the economy and more control over our members’ futures. A treaty agreement will be an important pillar in us building a strong Nation once again.”
On July 29, the BC Court of Appeal overturned a BC Supreme Court decision and found the province breached its duty to consult with the Kwakiutl Indian Band regarding Forestry decisions impacting on Kwakiutl Traditional Territory, and that Kwakiutl’s 1851 Treaty rights “occupy the high end of the spectrum of claims demanding deep consultation.” The Court of Appeal also upheld the finding of the BC Supreme Court that the Douglas Treaties did not extinguish Kwakiutl Aboriginal rights and title, and the Crown (BC) must proceed on a correct basis regarding the rights at issue and provide a meaningful consultation process before a First Nation can be faulted for not engaging. Louise Mandell, lawyer for Kwakiutl Indian Band, said, “This case sets a precedent… Governments can no longer ignore and minimize the pre-Confederation Treaties, and deny Aboriginal title in the decisions it makes about the lands and resources.” In 1851, Kwakiutl Tribes entered into Treaties with the British Crown that stipulated that village sites and enclosed fields were to be kept for Kwakiutl’s own use, with the liberty to hunt over unoccupied lands and to fish as formerly. Kwakiutl Chief Yakawilas Coreen Child said, “To this very day, not one of our Treaty rights have been honoured.”
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Indigenous candidates abound, yet election pans Aboriginal issues By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
Candidates, leaders of national Aboriginal organizations, and academia all say that, to date, the federal election has been light on issues that impact the country’s Indigenous peoples. The first leaders’ debate touched briefly on relevant issues, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We’ve got to really do a better job of getting our issues and priorities in front of the party leaders, in front of their caucus and political teams,” said Bellegarde. Those issues, he said, centre around what he calls “closing the gap” between First Nations people and the rest of Canadian society. In recent years, the United Nations Human Development Index has ranked Canada at six, while First Nations in the country fall to 63. “That gap represents all of our issues,” said Bellegarde. Those include: overcrowded housing; cap on transfers to First Nations people; cap on education; the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls; the high rate of youth suicide rate; and high health care rate. “But when I say they’re our issues, they’re also Canada’s issues because that gap is not good for
our people and it’s not good for Canada. Therefore, when we win on closing that gap, it represents a win for all of Canada.” To get answers, AFN will be sending a questionnaire on federal election priorities for First Nations people to the four major parties and will ask for response on six themes: strengthening First Nations families and communities; sharing in equitable funding of key issues; upholding rights; respecting the environment; revitalizing Indigenous languages; and implementing the recommendations made by Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Bellegarde said the AFN will not be endorsing any party, but will share the results of the questionnaire with its membership to allow them to make informed decisions. A major First Nations-related announcement came from the Liberals in mid-August, when leader Justin Trudeau promised $2.6 billion in new funding over four years to improve kindergarten to Grade 12 schooling, as well as help First Nations students gain access to post-secondary education. That announcement, and early in the campaign emphasizes the Liberal’s strong Indigenous caucus, said Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who is running under the Liberal banner in Winnipeg
Centre. “We’ve been talking to the Liberal party about what it is we want to see in the platform…ww really seeing Aboriginal people as being centre to what’s happening in our country and part of what we need to be doing to ensure this group is successful, so all of Canadians are successful,” he said. At the time of our publishing, the Liberals have 15 Indigenous candidates. Ouellette, who is Cree, has a Ph.D. He says there are other well-qualified Indigenous candidates, all of whom would be strong Cabinet ministers in any portfolio. The NDP, for its part, have promised to call for an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women within 100 days of taking office. April Bourgeois, who is one of 16 Indigenous NDP candidates, is running in Regina-Wascana and she says stay tuned for more on aboriginal issues from the party. “As far as I’m concerned it is really important for the economic well-being for our province moving ahead, we have to be working with Aboriginal people,” she said. Bourgeois contends that the NDP “is the best party” for protecting the environment as well as working with Aboriginal people in a respectful manner.
Selecting a candidate to support should not be based solely on indigeneity, said John Borrows, law foundation chair in Aboriginal justice and governance at the University of Victoria. “That’s not always the path forward. I think what the voters should do is study the issues and strategically choose the candidate who best represents them on those issues,” he said. Borrows is also a member of the Chippewas of Nawash. Liberal candidate Lawrence Joseph is running in the northern Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, where the candidates for all three major parties are Aboriginal. “That’s encouraging because the interest is there finally from our own people to take on this challenge, a very great challenge to be able to make a difference for the people they represent,” said Joseph, who’s campaigning in his second successive federal election. Reception this time around as he goes door- knocking has been more favourable than four years ago, he said. Who better to put forward issues important to Aboriginal people than another Aboriginal person, said Bourgeois. “Chances are if you vote for one of your own, they’re going to be backing you up and they’re
going to be representing you.† It’s just more likely,” she said. “I’m never going to change my politics when it comes to First Nations. It’s like being pregnant. Either you are or you’re not. There’s no flip-flopping.” Bourgeois isn’t concerned about NDP and Liberal supporters splitting the left-ofcentre vote and the Conservatives coming out with the win. She believes that with the NDP presently having a greater number of seats in the House of Commons, her party has “a better shot. They need half as many seats as the Liberals need and I think that we have a really strong leader.” Borrows contends that a coalition government formed by the Liberals and the NPD wouldn’t be a bad thing. “People look down on coalitions but it’s possible you can form a coalition between the NDP and the Liberals. I know they’re both dancing around that and not being very definite that they would actually do that – and I understand the reason why they wouldn’t want to do that – but at the same time … you can often get very effective coalition governments,” he said. “I, as national chief, will work with whoever gets elected Oct. 19,” said Bellegarde, noting that the AFN is a non-partisan organization.
Indigenous people may feel too “dislocated or estranged” to vote By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor
The Assembly of First Nations and Congress of Aboriginal Peoples are encouraging Indigenous people to exercise their sovereign right and vote. But not all Indigenous people believe that the way to have their voices heard is by marking an X on the ballot box. John Borrows, law foundation chair in Aboriginal justice and governance at the University of Victoria, said he was at a recent powwow in Ontario where Tshirts declaring, ‘I’m not Aboriginal, I’m not Canadian. I’m Anishinaabe,’ were worn. “That’s a prominent theme I see out east here, particularly among the Anishinaabe and others. So that’s going to be a big part of the vote as well,” said Borrows, a member of the Chippewas of Nawash. “There’s going to be large groups of people who still feel either dislocated or estranged from politics or actively opposed [to] involvement in Canadian politics because of failure to deal with treaties and the Constitution in a way that recognizes the nationhood of Aboriginal people.”
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There are also the frustrated youth, said Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who is campaigning in Winnipeg Centre. Idle No More, which took shape three years ago, galvanized young people, he said, but some of those same young people have been turned off by the political structure, frustrated by not knowing how to turn desire for change into public policy. “This is my Idle No More. This is why I’m running… because I really wanted to make a longterm difference,” said Ouellette. Winnipeg, with the highest urban Aboriginal population in the country, has four federal ridings. The AFN has identified three of these ridings, including Ouellette’s, as points of interest. To date, Ouellette, who is Cree, is the only Indigenous candidate contesting a Winnipeg seat. Ouellette also ran for mayor in 2014, finishing third among seven candidates. His mayoral platform, in part, spoke about bringing together a city divided along socio-economic and ethnic lines. His federal platform, in part, speaks about building a coalition in Winnipeg Centre, where 20 per cent of the population is
Indigneous, 20 per cent are immigrants and 80 per cent speak French. Response has been overwhelming, he said. People are snapping up his campaign signs and he and his team have been registering new voters, helping them meet the difficult new requirement for two pieces of identification. To date, there are four ridings in Manitoba each with a single Indigenous candidate, all of whom are with the Liberal party. Manitoba has 14 federal ridings, with six identified by the AFN as being Aboriginal-influenced. Only two of those six ridings have Indigenous candidates. Liberal candidate Rebecca Chartrand, who is Anishinaabe and Metis, is challenging NDP incumbent Niki Ashton in Churchhill Keewatinook-Aski, one of the ridings the AFN says should be watched. The AFN has pegged 51 ridings as significant for Aboriginal voters. In other words, said Don Kelly, communications director with the AFN, “essentially these are ridings where Aboriginal voters can either swing the vote (be a significant factor in deciding the outcome) or, in some, cases, where Aboriginal voters form the
majority (some of the northern ridings, for example).” Liberal candidate Lawrence Joseph is running in DesnetheMissinippi-Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan. It is his second attempt to become MP. He says he did little campaigning in 2011 and came within 800 votes of Conservative incumbent Rob Clarke. Joseph expects a better outcome this time around. To date, he is facing off against Clarke and Georgina Jolibois of the NDP. All three candidates are Indigenous. Joseph points out the riding has a 71 per cent Aboriginal population and 25 First Nations bands, including two of the largest bands in Saskatchewan: La Ronge and Peter Ballantyne. April Bourgeois, who is Metis and the NDP candidate in Regina-Wascana, is knocking on doors and getting the regular “ABC” response – Anybody But the Conservatives. “I think it’s really important. If we want to see change, we have to start voting because the government is not accountable if you’re not voting,” said Bourgeois. Desnethe-MissinippiChurchill River and ReginaWascana are two of seven ridings
(of 14) in Saskatchewan that Aboriginal voters can have an impact in, says the AFN. “We need to have First Nations people around all decisionmaking tables on policy and legislation that impacts on our lives and our rights,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “It’s better to have First Nations people pushing for change on the inside… and we can be pushing on the outside of those organizations as well.” “This election campaign is far too important to the future of the country and the future prosperity of First Nations, MÈtis and Inuit for people to be uninvolved,” said CAP Vice-Chief Ron Swain in a statement. “With over 1.4 million Aboriginal people in the country, the political power of an organized and unified voting block would not be over-looked.” To date there are 40 Indigenous candidates – in five parties – in 37 ridings, but there are still a handful seeking nomination for their parties. Fifteen of the 51 ridings that the AFN says can be influenced by Aboriginal voters have Indigenous candidates. On the Oct. 19 federal election, there will be 338 MPs elected. See Indigenous on page 17.
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Regional chief looks to grassroots for collective strength By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
A month after his election as Ontario Regional Chief, Isadore Day Wiindawtegowinini offered tobacco at the sacred fire burning at the Mississaugas of New Credit Cultural Village set up at Toronto’s Fort York as part of the 2015 Pan Am Games. He also visited the Aboriginal Pavilion where he agreed to an interview to talk about his priorities for his three-year term of office. As the regional chief, Day is a member of Assembly of First Nations’ national executive and the chair of the political confederacy for the Chiefs of Ontario. The Chiefs of Ontario functions as a political forum and secretariat for 133 First Nations, which includes the Anishinabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe and Lenape peoples. “The biggest change we need to advance our people is to mobilize our people,” he said. “All our people. Not just the ones that have education and are in the most favourable position to succeed, but everybody.” One of the biggest challenges, said Day, is to be able to engage the grassroots. “We’re blessed as First Nations leaders to have such a strong grassroots movement at this time in our history,” he said, “and that is one of the strengths that is going to help our people move from our current oppressed condition to rising above and really seeing nationhood take over this country.” As chief of Serpent River First Nation for 10 years, Day made a point of seeking opinions and direction from the membership – the people most affected by the many issues facing First Nations people. He’ll continue the practice of
engaging people, he said, and he’ll help local leaders build networks comprised of the diversity of people that make up First Nations communities with their differing talents, skills, educational levels and economic circumstances. It is the most vulnerable people who get left behind, he said, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the remote north. “I’m spending a lot more time in the remote north than previous regional chiefs,” he said, “and I’m finding it’s like that old cliché. Out of sight, out of mind.” The high cost of transportation, health care, food creates a situation, said Day, “where so many of our people get left behind.” Addressing this inequity “has to be a major focus of my work as [regional chief ],” he said. While some chiefs might be afraid to share the leadership role with the community, Day himself has no such fears. “There’s so much work to do that we need to share and the community often knows better than we do,” he said. First Nations need to make a shift in the way they work, said Day, in order to make full use of the talents and commitment in the community. “As First Nation leaders, we only have the same level of capacity as the next person. We have to build the collective strength. We’ve somehow been fooled into believing that the hierarchical system, that the top-down system is the one we need to design and become experts at. That’s totally wrong. That’s what’s gotten our people into so much trouble. For us, it’s the circle. It’s actually being able to see all humanity at an eye level and to say, ‘Listen, I got a different role here and you’ve got a different role that’s important to me. I can share with you and
PHOTO: BARB NAHWEGAHBOW
Daryl Redsky excited about the possibilities you can share with me and we creates havoc on the biosphere can work together to help that and there’s no turning back from it. I think about fish. If a fish other person’.” Protecting the land and the can’t breathe in the water, water has to be the number one eventually what’s going to priority, Day said, in order to happen to us is we’re not going secure and maintain a future for to be able to breathe. We, as our children. “We cannot allow Indigenous people at this time ourselves to get pulled into a in our history, have to stand up discussion or decisions on and we have to be very pipelines solely based on committed and we have to be economic grounds. The pipeline very dedicated to our value economy is a scary one. When systems.” We can’t depend on bitumen spills into the other governments to protect the environment, it destroys. It environment for us, he said, to
ensure that our people and their children and grandchildren can continue living off the land. At the Assembly of First Nations, Day plans to take forward a strong voice on behalf of Ontario First Nations. That’s been missing for a long time, he said. “The Ontario First Nations have told me, we have to be visible, we have to be vocal, we have to be respectful, we have to be strategic about our positioning.”
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The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations of Treaty 8 continue their fight against construction of the Site C dam. They are attempting to save thousands of hectares of oldgrowth forest and the eagle habitat located there. B.C. Supreme Court heard that Site C would cause “irreparable harm” to the two northeastern British Columbia First Nations. Their lawyer wants a stop-work order issued for the $9-billion hydroelectric project on the Peace River. Permits have been issued to clear 1,600 hectares of forest, even though both the B.C. Supreme Court and Federal Court will soon deliver judicial reviews that may quash the hydroelectric project altogether. B.C. has also authorized the expansion of quarries, the removal of beaver dams, 28 eagle nests, the alteration of 163 archeological sites and possibly burial sites as new access roads and bridges are constructed. The First Nations’ lawyer argues there’s no urgency to begin project.
Members of the Union of B.C. Municipalities will vote at their annual meeting Sept. 23 to Sept. 25 on whether to lobby the province for an expanded
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review of the Site C dam. The City of Victoria has submitted a resolution to advocate for such a review and wants to know the “potential impact on BC Hydro ratepayers and provincial taxpayers” and on agriculture, the environment, and Aboriginal and municipal interests. Hudson’s Hope and the Peace River Regional District have called on British Columbia to subject the project to a “proper review” before “any construction or development activities proceed.”
Of the B.C. Nations that have filed information under federal transparency rules, there are 55 chiefs that received compensation of less than $50,000 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015. Only about a dozen chiefs earned compensation of more than $100,000. The chief of Bridge River Indian Band near Lillooet, population 457, earned less than $15,000, the lowest in the range of compensation. The highest was more than $200,000 for Gwawaenuk Tribe near Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. The average compensation for chiefs is $60,000, not including expenses. Chief Ron Giesbrecht of the Kwikwetlem band, who last year took home about $1-million in compensation and sparked shock and media outrage,
received $113,167 this year, including nearly $23,000 in bonuses.
A First Nations burial site has been protected and the construction of a retirement home in the Gulf Islands has come to an end. The building is to be demolished after the government stepped in with some compensation for the owner. Grace Islet was found to be the site of 16 cairns, and even after the burial location was discovered, the construction of the home kept moving forward. British Columbia will cover the $300,000 to decommission and tear down the house. The islet will be transferred to the Nature Conservancy of Canada at a cost of $5.45 million. “It’s a significant amount,” said the Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources in a statement, but he said “the First Nations’ archaeological and cultural interests” were “also very significant.”
A new agreement will allow Wei Wai Kum First Nation to harvest almost 9,900 cubic metres of timber per year from their traditional territories. The 25-year First Nations woodland licence was signed by Chief Robert Pollard and Steve Thompson, minister of
Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. “We have enjoyed success with a variety of economic development projects, including the Discovery Harbour Marina and Shopping Centre, House of Treasures native art and gift shop and the Thunderbird Campground,” said Pollard. “This new forest licence allows us to build on our strong economic base, while taking the lead in managing traditional lands and better conservation of our cultural interests in the region.”
A decision by the Ministry of Children and Families to appeal a BC Supreme Court decision that found ministry staff disregarded the safety of children from a Vancouver family, exposing the children to an abusive situation, including sexual abuse, has “deeply disappointed” the First Nations Summit, reads a release. “This appeal clearly reflects continued bad decision-making by the Minister and senior MCFD bureaucrats,” said Cheryl Casimer of the Summit. “MCFD should not be hiding from the findings contained in the BCSC decision; rather they should be looking at immediate ways to ensure a similar situation is not repeated.” The Summit is calling for an independent investigation with
recommendations regarding the case, and suggests the province’s child advocate take up the matter. “We have extreme concerns with how the government has chosen to deal with this case… We expect that MCFD should involve First Nations in decisions and government policy designed to lower the numbers of Aboriginal children in care in B.C.,” said Casimer.
Senior science advisor John Werring of the David Suzuki Foundation conducted tests in July that showed high levels of contamination—higher than the BC Contaminated Sites Regulations—where biosolids in the Nicola Valley were dumped. He supports the protest of biosolid dumping by the Lower Nicola Indian Band. “The independent tests confirm that biosolids must not be applied to land,” said Chief Aaron Sam. “Biosolids contaminate our lands and waters, and it has serious potential negative effects on fish, animals and plants. First Nations people are reliant on the land for food and medicines. Biosolids put the health of our community members at risk. We can no longer sit back while the Government of British Columbia ignores our constitutionally-protected rights,” said Sam.
PHOTO: DEB RANSOM
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, joined by Premier Brad Wall and Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Rob Clarke, is briefed on the damage caused by a series of severe wildfires in many parts of the province during his visit to Saskatchewan.
Harper visits wildfire sites Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled July 24 to La Ronge and Regina to meet with government officials, including members of Saskatchewan’s Wildfire Management Centre, and some of the first responders, who had been fighting a series of severe wildfires in many parts of the province. While in La Ronge, Harper received a briefing on the current situation and met with provincial and municipal government officials, firefighters and other first responders and volunteers to assess ongoing requirements and discuss the way ahead for affected communities. “I am saddened by the devastation that this year’s wildfires have caused in this part of the country. The people of Saskatchewan have shown great determination in the face of terrible hardship,” said Harper.
Court hears case about First Nations financial transparency On Aug. 18 and 19, the federal court in Saskatoon heard the case put forward by the Canadian government forcing five First Nations to abide by the
First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Named by the federal government in the court action are Thunderchild, Ochapowace and Onion Lake bands in Saskatchewan and the Sawridge and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations in Alberta; the five First Nations have yet to comply to the FNFTA. Cold Lake First Nation, in Alberta, had been listed, but did provide its financial details to Aboriginal Affairs Canada. The five First Nations are arguing that Ottawa did not consult with them before enacting the FNFTA. The federal government set July 29 as the deadline for submitting 2014-2015 documents. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said bands that have yet to comply “will see funding for non-essential services withheld” starting Sept. 1. “Transparency and accountability is a good thing, and we totally support that, but it’s our own-source revenues that’s the big issue … it’s pretty heavy-handed,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who was in attendance for some of the hearing. A rally was held outside the court house in support of the five First Nations.
Residential school survivors keep lacrosse program going Residential school survivors at the Standing Buffalo First Nation are using their money to ensure the continuation of the lacrosse program. The reserve has operated a lacrosse program for its youth for the past six years, however, financial difficulties last year meant Standing Buffalo couldn’t afford to put a team together. About 80 residential school survivors in the community donated their compensation package of $3,000 to the program. The donation helped pay for the registration fees and transportation costs for the novice, peewee and bantam age groups. It also covered the cost for new equipment and allowed the teams to enter the Calgary Canada Day Tournament — one of the largest lacrosse tournaments in the country. “It was an investment in our youth because of what residential schools were intentionally set up for was to take the Indian out of the child,” said Chief Roger Redman, who also donated his settlement.
Indigenous entrepreneurs selected for G20 YEA
Goods Inc., and Heather Abbey of ShopIndig.ca are among 22 delegates who will travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in September for the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit. Both women were chosen through a lengthy process by Futurpreneur Canada. Abbey is the founder and CEO of ShopIndig.ca, a platform by which Indigenous artisans can sell their designs and creations to a global market. Fiddler is the chief changemaker of SheNative Goods Inc., a lifestyle brand of handbags, accessories and apparel with a social mission to empower Indigenous women. Both women need to raise the funds to attend the summit. G20 YEA is a global network aimed at championing the importance of young entrepreneurs to the G20 member nations.
Pasqua First Nation works with CN to identify respectful route A collaborative approach by the Pasqua First Nation and Canadian Pacific Railway has resulted in the preservation of sacred sites significant to First
Nations people. An area identified for the railway to transport potash from K & S Potash mine near Bethune caused concern for the Pasqua First Nation as it cut through natural prairie, which was also a migration route for First Nation people from the Last Mountain Lake area. Members of the First Nation were hired as site inspectors and they went ahead of the railway construction to identify areas of cultural and spiritual significance. When sites were identified, the First Nation worked with CP on a new location for the rail line. Mike Lovecchio, director of government of affairs for CP, said Saskatchewan has what the world wants and through collaboration with the First Nation, CP Rail is able to provide that access in a way that respects the cultural heritage and cultural resources. “We’ve learned a tremendous amount on how to work with First Nations about the communication that is necessary and the end result is a very good result for everyone involved.”
Compiled by Shari Narine
Devon Fiddler of SheNative
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[ health ]
Education and higher income key to longer life A study released by Statistics Canada says 70 per cent of all deaths in Canada that occur before age 75 could have been avoided, and that avoidable mortality among Aboriginal people is disproportionate. But, when educational attainment and income adequacy were taken into account, the hazard ratio for dying from avoidable causes was reduced by 47 per cent from 2.09 to 1.58 for First Nations men, and by 32 per cent from 2.58 to 2.08 for First Nations women. “Avoidable mortality refers to deaths that potentially could have been averted through effective prevention, public health policies, and/or provision of timely and adequate health care,” reads the study. “Differences in avoidable mortality can be used to assess health inequalities between population groups and geographic regions, and to trace trends over time.” The study says a number of risk behaviors are more prevalent among First Nations than nonAboriginal people, including alcohol abuse, smoking, which is related to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and lack of exercise and poor diet, associated with type II diabetes. The study says these risk behaviors are associated with lower levels of education and income compared to nonAboriginal people. “But despite extensive research
on health disparities, detailed analyses of mortality attributable to avoidable causes have not been undertaken at the national level for the First Nations population.” This study examined mortality outcomes for 61,220 First Nations adults (26,800 men and 34,420 women) and 2,521,285 non-Aboriginal adults (1,261,510 men and 1.248,775 women) during the 1991-to2006 period. Compared with nonAboriginal adults, First Nations adults were younger, had lower levels of education and income, and were more likely to live in western and northern Canada. More than 40 per cent of all deaths of this group that occurred from 1991 to 2006 were premature (before age 75). Compared with their nonAboriginal counterparts, First Nations were significantly more likely to die prematurely (895.5 First Nations men versus 471.1 for non-Aboriginal men and 631.3 for First Nations women compared with 273.3 for nonAboriginal women). Avoidable deaths accounted for 76 per cent and 73 per cent of all premature deaths among First Nations men and women, respectively. The corresponding percentages among nonAboriginals were 71 per cent and 67 per cent. Compared with non-Aboriginals, First Nations men were twice as likely to die from avoidable causes and First
Nations women were 2.5 times as likely. These differences were greater than those for unavoidable deaths. First Nations men were 1.6 times more likely than nonAboriginal men to die from unavoidable causes. The risk of unavoidable death for First Nations women was twice that for non-Aboriginal women. Compared with nonAboriginal men, First Nations men were significantly more likely to die from alcohol and drug use disorders, unintentional injuries, and diabetes. First Nations women’s risks of death were significantly high in comparison with non-Aboriginal women for alcohol and drug use disorders, diabetes, infections, and unintentional injuries. Compared with nonAboriginal people, First Nations people have lower levels of education and income, factors that are fundamental determinants of disease, illness and injury, reads the report. In models that controlled for educational attainment and income adequacy simultaneously, hazard ratios for avoidable mortality among First Nations were reduced for men and women, suggesting that these socioeconomic variables are important in explaining the disparity. Low income and education explain a substantial share of the differences in avoidable mortality.
Health Watch Compiled by Shari Narine Study shows culture impacted in wildfire evacuations A study by Julia Scharbach and James Waldram in the department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan says more care must be taken to protect family and culture when wildfire threatens northern communities. The pair looked at the experiences of the Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation, who were evacuated due to wildfire in 2011. The authors suggest that “the irony is clear: the disaster of which many residents spoke pertained not to the threat of wildfire, but to the efforts to protect them from it.” The study makes a number of recommendations and calls for officials to reimagine the concept of risk to include the potential impact of an evacuation on the cultural and social fabric of a community.
Breastfeeding could significantly cut back on illnesses A new study has found that encouraging First Nations, Inuit and Métis mothers to breastfeed would be a simple way to significantly cut down the high rates of common infection — and even deaths — seen in Aboriginal babies. In her paper published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, Dr. Kathryn McIsaac, with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said Aboriginal babies could benefit because they suffer higher rates of common ear infections, respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections and SIDS. McIsaac estimated that breastfeeding could have a significant impact on babies both on-reserve as well as for First Nations, Inuit and Métis babies off reserve. Presently the rate of breastfeeding among Indigenous women (78 per cent) is lower than the general population (87 per cent). Promoting breastfeeding among Aboriginal women is one solution, said McIsaac, noting such programs would be even more successful if delivered by Indigenous people.
Aboriginal youth suicide up in Northern Ontario Increasing numbers of Aboriginal youth in Northern Ontario are killing themselves, and 42 per cent of the suicides over the last 10 years have occurred in just seven communities. In 2013, there were 31 suicides by Aboriginal people in Ontario, up from 11 in 1991, said Gerald McKinley, a postdoctoral fellow at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Overall, from 1991 to 2013, there were 468 suicides by Aboriginal people in Ontario, almost half by people 25 or younger. McKinley was able to analyze the figures because the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario breaks out those suicides, unlike most other provinces. Although Health Canada cites the Aboriginal youth suicide rate as up to seven times higher than that for non-Aboriginal youth, there are no Aboriginalspecific rates per 100,000 for each province. Clusters of three to five youths in a community who complete suicide within months of each other drive the increasing rates in Ontario, McKinley says. “Similarities in method, geographic distribution and age completion make concerns over the idea of suicide as a contagion legitimate and worth considering.”
Changes to bring about transparency in Nutrition North Canada program A change to the Nutrition North Canada program, effective April 1, 2016, will see retailers implement a point-of-sale system to show consumers how the subsidy is being applied to their purchases. Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said NTI has publicly and privately called on the government to develop regulations that would make the program more transparent and accountable to Inuit. “This is only a small step in the right direction. Inuit want further changes, including involvement in the program’s decisionmaking process, including the engagement of NTI directly, and making decisions about the redesign of the program. NTI plans to continue to exert strong pressure on the current government, as well as the next government,” said Towtongie. The Nutrition North Canada program has been heavily criticized for years, most recently by the Auditor General, because users assert that the subsidy is not passed on to consumers.
Ontario Métis face higher risk than non-Aboriginal residents A joint report from Cancer Care Ontario and the Métis Nation of Ontario outlines that the province’s Métis face higher cancer risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity than other Ontario residents. The report says Metis people, who tend to be under-identified or under-represented in Indigenous health research, are also less likely to be up to date with cancer screening tests. Dr. Loraine Marrett, a senior scientist at Cancer Care Ontario, said the data underlines that the Métis community would benefit from programs framed in their community- and family-centric culture. The study combined six years of data from Statistics Canada on the lifestyle factors that play the largest role in cancer risk.
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Sports Briefs Compiled by Sam Laskaris Thibeault Competes At Pan Am Games Canadians won more than their share of medals at the recent Pan American Games staged in Toronto. In fact, Canada won a total of 217 medals at the multi-sport Games, which concluded on July 26. Only the United States won more medals, 265. Jaimie Thibeault and her Canadian volleyball teammates, however, did not perform as well as they would have liked to. Thibeault, who has Coast Salish ancestry but grew up in Grande Prairie, Alta., has been a member of the Canadian national women’s team since 2010. At the Pan Am Games, Thibeault and her teammates managed to win just one of their three preliminary round matches. Canada defeated Cuba but was downed by the Dominican Republic and Argentina. Peru then beat Canada 3-2 (25-22, 24-26, 17-25, 25-21, 15-13) in a match which determined the seventh and eighth place standings. Thibeault, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker who now lives in Sylvan Lake, Alta., played her collegiate career at the University of Montana. Since graduating with a degree in Elementary Education in 2011, Thibeault has played professionally in Italy, France and Poland. She spent the past season playing with Legionovia SA, a squad in Poland.
Six Nations Hosts Historic Tournament Four Aboriginal squads will compete at an international lacrosse tournament that will be staged in Ontario at the Six Nations community of Ohsweken in September. The World Lacrosse Challenge, a boys’ under-19 tournament, will run Sept. 11 to Sept. 13. The event is considered a historic one as it is the first international event to be held on Haudenosaunee land. The Native entrants include Team Iroquois West, Team Iroquois East and Team Iroquois Seneca. British Columbia’s Squamish Nation is also sending a club. Meanwhile, Canada will be represented by three squads. Besides the Canadian Lacrosse League (CLax) Jr. All-Stars, also taking part will be a team representing Canada West and an Atlantic Canada/Quebec entry. The United States will also send a squad to take part. And the tournament’s international flavour will be enhanced with entrants from Czech Republic, Germany, Israel and Team Nordic, which will be comprised of players from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. All teams will play four round-robin matches. And then all squads will play two additional contests to determine their final tournament placings. This tournament will be staged in conjunction with the men’s World Indoor Lacrosse Championships set for Sept. 18 to Sept. 27. Games for this event will be held in Syracuse and on the Onondaga Nation. The Iroquois Nationals will be the only Native team in this tourney, which will feature 13 entrants. The men’s tournament will also make a bit of history, becoming the first world championship on Haudenosaunee land.
Race Honours Mi’kmaq Runner A Mi’kmaq athlete who was considered one of best runners from the early 20th century is being honoured with a race in his name. The Michael Thomas Race Day will be staged on Sept. 19 in Stratford, Prince Edward Island. Thomas, who died in 1954, was inducted into the PEI Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. Besides a 10-mile road race, which was Thomas’ specialty, other events being staged are a one-kilometre kids’ fun run, a 5K walk and a 5K run. All those that register in advance will receive a replica singlet worn by Thomas, with the words Abegweit Amateur Athletic Association on it. Both the 5K and 10-mile routes will pass by a bronze statue that was unveiled on the Stratford waterfront by town officials last year. Thomas won numerous 10-mile races in eastern Canada during the early 1900s. He also participated in the 1911 Boston Marathon where he placed 26th. It is believed Thomas could have fared even better in that marathon. But he was forced to run the majority of the event without any water as the cyclist who was supposed to provide refreshments for him was involved in an accident and was unable to continue. Some of Thomas’ descendants are expected to participant in the race day. While the kids’ run is free, there is a $40 registration fee for the 5K events and a $55 entry fee for the 10-mile race. Proceeds from the Michael Thomas Race day will go towards the PEI Aboriginal Sports Circle. This group promotes physical activity in the province among Aboriginal people, with a focus on youth. More information is available by contacting race director Nicole Herbert through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 902-626-2882.
[ sports ]
Softball player determined to get off the sidelines By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor
It’s been a year of up-and-down emotions for Carrie-Leigh Thomas. The 22-year-old Cayuga, who lives in Ontario in the Six Nations community of Ohsweken, first joined the Canadian senior women’s softball team in 2012. This past December, however, she was named as an alternate for the squad for the 2015 season. That meant Thomas, who primarily plays first base now, would only get to suit up for the club’s most prestigious event this year, the Pan American Games, if another infielder was injured and unavailable to play. “I was still allowed to train with them and play with them right up until the Pan Am Games,” she said. Thomas was one of two alternates on the national squad. The other alternate, Brantford’s Logan White, did get to play in the Pan Am Games, because another outfielder, Toronto native Victoria Hayward, was sidelined when she suffered a torn ACL just prior to the tournament. The Canadians ended up winning the gold medal at the Pan Am event. The women’s softball tourney was held in Ajax, located about a 20-minute drive east of Toronto. “It was a bittersweet thing,” Thomas said of not being able to take part in the Pan Am Games. “I wanted to play but it’s a good thing nobody (that plays an infield position) got hurt.” Though Thomas did not get the opportunity to play at the most significant event on the team’s calendar this year, she did don a national team uniform at a pair of other prestigious tournaments. She helped Canada to a fourthplace finish at the US World Cup of Softball, which wrapped up in early July in Irvine, Calif. The Americans won that event, while Japan and Puerto Rico placed second and third, respectively. Canada managed to defeat the U.S. in a round-robin contest at that event. “That was a very exciting tournament,” Thomas said. “It was the only time we faced the Americans before the Pan Am Games.” Following this tournament Thomas and her teammates picked up some hardware, placing third at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships, staged in Surrey, B.C. Thomas got to play in four of the team’s seven tournament matches. “I understood my position,”
said Thomas, who hit a homerun in a contest versus Japan. “And I thought I was lucky and very happy to play as much as I did.” Japan captured the gold medal at this event while Cuba took the silver. Prior to the two tournaments that Thomas did take part in with the national squad this season, she also participated in a six-game exhibition series against a women’s club from Stratford, Connecticut. Despite being an alternate, Thomas was content with her performances this year. “I had a good season,” she said. “I developed more. And I’m a better player now.” Earlier this year, Thomas completed her teaching degree from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. While she is still hoping to find a full-time elementary school teaching job, Thomas will be able to pick up some work as a Six Nations supply teacher starting this fall. Though there are no more national team events scheduled for this year, softball will continue to be a big part of her life. “We still have to keep up with our training,” she said. Thomas is hoping to be in top shape for the next national team
tryouts, expected to be held in January, possibly in Florida. “After the next tryouts I want to be on the team,” she said. “I don’t want to be an alternate again.” Those that make the Canadian squad this coming year will participate at the women’s world championships, which will be held in Surrey next July. Thomas is also hopeful that one day she will be able to represent Canada at the Summer Olympics. Women’s softball was last included in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The sport was then dropped from the Olympic schedule and it will not be included in next year’s Olympics, which will be in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The earliest the sport will be now be added again will be the 2020 Olympics. Thomas and her fiancÈ, Danny Vyse, an elite lacrosse player, already have a two-yearold daughter named Lyla-Shae Vyse. The couple have decided they do want at least two more children but will hold off for the next few years to concentrate on their athletic careers. “I want to be able to say that I am an Olympian some day,” Thomas said.
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[ education ]
Indigenous ways of commemoration becomes Master’s thesis By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor
Self-described settler ally Trina Cooper-Bolam found a world of difference between Western and Indigenous practices of commemoration. Bolam worked with residential school commemoration projects funded through the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. When she learned that no one was doing research on the commemoration projects that totaled $20 million, she decided to take it on for her Master’s thesis at Carleton University in Ottawa. “It was so mind-boggling to me,” Bolam said, “that here we had Indigenous people participating in commemoration on an unprecedented scale and nobody was looking at it. Commemoration was a component of that settlement agreement, and the TRC in their final report were reporting on all the elements of that agreement. I thought, if no one’s looking at this we’re not going to get the benefit of understanding what’s important to Indigenous people to commemorate in the context of residential schools. The commemoration infrastructure that is supposed to commemorate is not going to change and if nobody studies this, we’re not even going to learn anything about what is important to survivors to commemorate.” Canada’s national program of historical commemoration, she said, honours people, places and events that are meaningful in Canadian
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PHOTO: JEFF THOMAS
history and is mainly done through the plaque program. Plaques go up on buildings or in parks. Sometimes, parks will be dedicated or if it’s something really important, an interpretive centre will be built or a heritage site turned into a museum. This approach, she said, is problematic because many Indigenous people would never want, or be able, to go to the residential schools attended by them or family members to see a plaque or similar marker. Communities had to find ways to de-colonize the idea of commemoration and to do something that was meaningful to them. What Bolam found with Indian residential school commemoration projects is they tended to be communitybased rather than national in
scope. She found other common elements to the projects across the country. “First and foremost, people gathered,” she said. “They used the opportunity to gather in ceremony, different types of ceremonies – healing ceremonies, smudging ceremonies. It was not only the survivors who gathered, but intergenerational survivors, entire families, entire communities and youth, and
some had cultural teachings and workshops.” The second element she found was that of sharing. There were sharing circles in which people shared stories and included a feast where they shared food. In some instances, the stories were recorded. The sharing circles also included round dances, Bolam said. “Gathering, sharing and ceremony were very, very common elements of commemoration projects across the country,” Bolam said. “It was really wonderful to see what people did – many beautiful monuments and works of art. Nothing prohibited the major museums in Canada from doing an exhibition on residential schools, yet the subject was barely represented in our museums.” When she asked why this was the case, Bolam was told there are no residential school artifacts. Yet the Witness Blanket, a large-scale travelling art installation managed to secure hundreds of artifacts from survivors. “That just flies in the face of what people from museums have said; that there is no artifactual record from the residential school era. They just didn’t go about seeking it.
They didn’t seek the trust of the source communities to be able to even discuss, which doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Bolam, “given the historical relationship between first peoples and museums.” Bolam submitted her report to the TRC for their consideration and is pleased that they referenced the report and included a couple of her recommendations. Her research was conducted independently without pay. “The historical program on commemoration and the whole infrastructure that runs it has to change,” she said. “Now we have proof that there are different ways of commemorating that are more appropriate, like healing from historical trauma and are more appropriate for Indigenous ways of healing than we have now. “I’m sick of these celebratory histories of Canada that we tell ourselves in our museums, in our history books, and in our sites and programs of commemoration. I won’t stand for that as a Canadian. It’s not acceptable. We have to start telling the truth. Stop celebrating the lie.” Bolam is hoping to have her thesis published. In the meantime, it is available at: https://carletonca.academia.edu/TrinaBolam.
Heather Rae films to be spotlighted at festival The 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will be held in Toronto Oct. 14 to 18. imagineNATIVE’s opening night gala will be held at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema with Sterlin Harjo’s Mekko, starring Rod Rondeaux and Sarah Podemski. Mekko is a thriller following a man who must navigate a welcoming, yet dangerous, community of Native Americans living on the streets, after release from his 20-year prison sentence. Prior to Mekko, imagineNATIVE will present the premiere of Jeff Barnaby’s experimental short film Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down). Closing will feature Fire Song by Cree/Métis filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Fire Song is a dramatic feature film starring Andrew Martin and Jennifer Podemski, about a young gay man who dreams of leaving his reserve for
the city. When the world as he knows it falls apart, the future he’s been dreaming of seems impossible to reach. The 2015 International Spotlight will focus on S·mi films and filmmakers of the S·pmi nation, the Indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and northwestern Russia. Proud reindeer herders, the S·mi have a rich tradition as artists and filmmakers. As part of the Spotlight on S·pmi, imagineNATIVE will present two shorts programs, Nils Gaup’s Academy-Award nominated Pathfinder, and indigiTALKS: Our Stories Must Be Heard, a video-essay series introducing the world of S·mi cinema from stereotypical depictions in mainstream film, to the International S·mi Film Institute which funds contemporary S·mi features and TV series. The inaugural Artist Spotlight will celebrate the work of Cherokee filmmaker Heather
Rae. This annual Artist Spotlight will acknowledge Indigenous creative leaders whose work has broken new ground and created lasting contributions to the Indigenous media arts. Heather Rae will be in attendance as three of her films are screened, Trudell, Wild Walkers, and the two-time Academy Award-nominated Frozen River, that will be followed by a tribute to the late actress Misty Upham, co-star of Frozen River. The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing innovation in film, video, audio and digital media. The festival presents the most compelling and distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrating the vitality and excellence of Native art and culture in contemporary media, reads a press statement.
[ careers ]
Malahat First Nation final piece of puzzle (Continued from page 7.) Kuzemko conceded that the design process for the proposed terminal alone could be measured in years. While it may be possible to install off-the-shelf LNG technology onto a barge within a reasonable time frame, he noted, a purpose-built vessel would likely take years to design and build from the keel up. “The design process starts in earnest shortly. What we have to do is make sure we’re taking into account all of the environmental impacts it may or may not have, in detail,” he said. The Bamberton site is part of a 525-hectare parcel of land purchased by Malahat just last month. It was once home to a cement plant, now closed for decades. It is already zoned for heavy industry with marine foreshore leases already in place. Currently, there are a number of heavy industrial leaseholders onsite, and they will remain, Lewis said. “This is about expanding the industrial complex for the benefit of the Nation. We will, obviously, have to expand some of those marine-space permits, and that is a whole engagement process in itself, with the community and with the stakeholders.” Rather than focus entirely on
preventing potential impacts related to the FLNG project, Lewis said Malahat is committed to use the project as a vehicle to repair existing damage to the marine environment in their traditional territory. “We can’t harvest clams on the beach now, because the inlet is so toxic. We can’t fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. There aren’t enough fish, because the habitat has been so damaged by historical impacts from other upland uses.” Lewis said it is implicit that Malahat will take all necessary steps to protect its traditional territory as it moves ahead into the industrial world. “I believe First Nations have a duty and a responsibility to be active in industry, if only to protect their interests and be proper stewards of the environment and the resources that affect them. Otherwise you’re just sitting on the sidelines. “[This] Nation is focused on nation-building. We’re going to do what we need to do to protect our interests and the interests of our First Nations brothers and sisters, and, to the extent we can, the rest of B.C. We have to own that; we have to be part of that, and we have to be directly involved in that.”
Indigenous people too “dislocated or estranged” to vote (Continued from page 10.) In 2011, there were 37 Indigenous candidates and a 45 per cent First Nations voter turnout. The increase in Aboriginal candidates and the push by national organizations like AFN and CAP are strong indications that this election has the potential of providing a strong platform for Indigenous issues, said Borrows. “But at the same time there is that other strand where people say, ‘We don’t want to be involved. We’re not Canadian.
We are Aboriginal. We’re allies of the Crown. We’re not subjects of the Crown. We need to avoid that kind of electoral involvement,’” he said. These people, said Borrows, believe that Sect. 91 (24) of the Constitution says the federal government’s power is in relation to First Nations and not over First Nations. In that case, Indigenous issues should be dealt with through such entities as the Treaty commissions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, or the world stage, like the United Nations.
Stats staggering in fentanyl-related drug deaths (Continued from page 9.) “I asked a patient if she was scared about fentanyl out there. She said, ‘No, it’s been out there for three years,’ and she’s right…. For the last three years we’ve been seeing it in the urine and nobody’s changing their behaviour,” said Melamed. “When you’ve got the disease of addiction and all you can think about is the next high … nobody learns because everybody believes it won’t happen to them and they’re the next one that gets caught in it,” said Melamed. “It’s
a horrible problem, but it’s not going away.” Many Fingers agrees, saying fentanyl is only the latest in drugaddiction fads. A few years ago it was OxyContin. When law enforcement finally gets a handle on fentanyl, it will be replaced by something else. “I don’t think …we’re going to say we’re ever going to stomp out the drug trade,” he said. “It’s a lucrative business. That’s why we have so much trouble in today’s society. There’s so much money to be made and it’s easy money.”
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Private Robert Bruce Métis veteran lived to see his heritage honoured By Dianne Meili
Even though he returned to Juno Beach with mixed feelings, Private Robert Bruce made the trip in 2009 to be honoured as a Métis soldier. The Elder made the trip with 50 Canadian delegates as one of only a handful of D-Day soldiers who attended the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to Metis veterans at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The centre is immediately behind the beach in Normandy where 14,000 Canadian troops landed on June 6, 1944. Bruce, who was in the second wave of soldiers to get off the boats, described the day in detail during a CBC interview last Nov. “I landed with the troops and – I’m guessing now – but I’d say there were 5,000 ships in that harbour. They were just packed together. There was a British battleship with 16-inch guns. It would thunder ka-boom when it went off and the ship would lurch in the water. “I’d never seen anything like it in my life. I’m from Saskatchewan and I was only 22. Until then, the biggest city I’d been in was Prince Albert. But to see all of this … I had no words for it. It was just amazing.” Bruce made it safely through the landing but lost his brotherin-law on D-Day. “He was in the paratroopers. He wanted me to go in his outfit and I was going to go but the officer wouldn’t let me. That bugged me for a long time.” Fellow Métis veteran Leo Goulet and 75 others landed in Normandy only to be captured by Nazis three days later. Their captors, who didn’t even have enough food for themselves, talked about killing their prisoners before finally forcing them into a death march. By the time the Allies liberated Europe and Goulet was freed, he weighed a skeletal 94 pounds, 59 pounds less than normal. More than the memory of physical discomfort, Bruce was most affected by the sight of the children of war he encountered. “We were at this place in Holland. We had our breakfast every morning at 5 a.m. The little kids knew there was food and they’d come around. This little Dutch girl had her hands out.”
Private Robert Bruce
Voice faltering, Bruce wonders aloud why he didn’t keep contact with her. “I saw her every day and it was heartbreaking. Those poor little buggers were starving.” Until Bruce was interviewed five years ago, son Don Bruce had never heard his father say a word about the war he fought in. “When he was being recorded, it was a different man. I never really knew him until then and I tried to feel what it must have felt like as a young man. What he did was necessary. There’s no two ways about it.” Robert kept silent regarding his years in the war because of his contempt for it. “They talk about ‘the Great War’ but I say ‘what’s great about war?’ What’s great about fighting and killing? Other people … they wanted to live too. In fact, I’m walking down this ditch this one time and I see this body. This man was lying like he was
sleeping. He didn’t seem to be wounded and I thought he was just playing possum so I poked him with my rifle and I said ‘come on, wake up you S.O.B.’ He was dead all right and I saw he had a picture in his tunic pocket. It showed his daughter and his wife. This man’s family is dead and now he’s dead. What for? He must have wanted to live, too, eh?” Born in Sturgeon Valley, Sask., on Feb. 11, 1922, Robert Bruce joined the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps in 1941 at the age of 19 and fought in continental Europe. While stationed in the United Kingdom he met and married his war bride Lorna. The two were married for 70 years. For his dedicated service, Private Bruce received The Canadian Voluntary Service Medal, the 1939-1945 Star, the France and Germany Star and the Defence Medal. He was honourably discharged in Dec.
1945. At the Juno Beach unveiling, then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians Chuck Strahl said that when the call went out during the Second World War for people to join up, entire Métis communities volunteered. “Some of them walked for hours and days, they say, in order to join up in the Second World War. So they’re real fighters for freedom and it’s a real tribute and honour for me, of course, to be here to pay tribute to them.” For Métis veterans, this was the first official recognition they’d ever received for their service. Soldiers like Robert Bruce said they were denied postwar benefits such as financial help for housing, land and education. They said they were left out
again in 2002 when statusIndian veterans were offered $20,000 each for benefits they had previously been denied. According to a report prepared for a Métis veterans association, only eight per cent of Métis veterans reported receiving any benefits and fewer than one per cent received land under the Veterans Land Act. “I didn’t know what the hell a half-breed was. I always thought I was as good as anybody else. I always thought everyone was equal, but then I realized they weren’t,” Bruce said in a 2009 CBC interview. Private Robert Bruce passed away at the age of 93 on Feb. 18, 2015. He lived in St. Vitale and was laid to rest in Winnipeg on Feb. 25. He is survived by his wife Lorna, his children, and a large family of grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Every single Windspeaker article ever published (well, almost) is now available on our online archives at www.ammsa.com The archives are free to search and read. P a g e [ 18 ]
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