November 21, 2021
25th Anniversay of the RCAP Final Report
Prime Minister’s Office – “25th anniversary of the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples”.
The five-volume landmark document outlined 440 recommendations on Indigenous governance, nation rebuilding, lands and resources, treaties, economic development, and social policy, and called for the renewal of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and all orders of government in Canada.
“The Government of Canada established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (the Commission) in 1991, in the aftermath of the conflict at Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke, during a time of upheaval, concern, and hope, following longstanding challenges across the country. The Commission’s comprehensive mandate was developed in consultation with national and regional Indigenous leaders and groups, and federal, provincial, and territorial elected representatives. Its mandate was to investigate the evolution of the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government, and Canadian society as a whole, propose specific solutions to the problems that have hindered those relationships, and examine all issues it deemed relevant to Indigenous peoples in Canada. What has happened since?
The RCAP Final Report was issued 25 years ago and many of its 440 recommendations were never implemented as acknowledged by Prime Minister Trudeau who stated, “Since 1996, the Commission’s report has continued to inform the actions of successive governments to support Indigenous peoples, even if many of its recommendations have not been fully implemented.”
As of March 22, 2022, according to the Indigenous Watchdog “TRC Calls to Action Status Progress Snapshot” the federal government has completed 8 of the 76 Calls to Action for which they are either directly or jointly accountable. That is 8 completed Calls to Action in 6 ½ years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its Summary Report on June 2, 2015.
As the Prime Minister pointed out: “The report concluded that many policies pursued since the colonial period onwards had been wrong. In a country built on the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples, many government policies and societal practices have led to the systemic erosion of many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures, identities, practices, and governance structures and systems.”
25 years later, that statement still rings true. And 25 years later, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are still waiting for substantive change to take place.
January 7, 2020
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
8 Ways to champion Human Rights
Toronto Star – Toronto Star identified eight ways that Canada can champion human rights in the 2020s, including the following:
- First step is to adopt overdue legislation making the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Canada’s framework for rights and reconciliation. And to show we truly mean it:
- address mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows First Nation,
- halt construction of the Site C dam in NE British Columbia and
- redress years of discrimination against First Nations children
- Second, the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been released. Now is time to create a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, harmonized with a wider National Action Plan to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.
In addition, two of the other 8 issues by default include Indigenous populations:
- we are beginning to shake off the smug denial that racism is a concern in Canada. We need to move from anguished hand-wringing to meaningful action. Governments across the country should work to address racism in policing, beginning with consistent laws to ban carding and random street checks.
- Naming the first Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise last April may help address human rights abuses by Canadian mining and other companies when they operate abroad. But that will remain an empty gesture unless the federal government grants her office the powers to conduct effective investigations. (This impacts Indigenous peoples in other countries where Canadian mining companies operate)
That’s 50% of 8 recommendations!
April 20, 2018
First Nations, Inuit
AFN-QL Opposition to Bill 99
Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador – In response to the decision of the Quebec Superior Court to uphold the Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogatives of the Québec people and the Québec State (Bill 99), the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) totally rejects the very foundations of the Quebec provincial government’s claims contained in Bill 99.
“It is ironic that, 18 years after claiming its right to self-determination in Bill 99, Quebec, which speaks of its ability to take control of its future, has made no progress in recognizing First Nations Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Demanding for yourself what you deny to others is absurd,” says Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, who is not surprised that Indigenous issues are not considered.…Whatever they say, whatever they do, the cultures, values and philosophies of our peoples were and are fundamentally different from anything that characterizes Quebec’s dominant society.
Let us be clear and say it like it is: I am not Canadian, I am not a Quebecer, I am Innu. AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard on October 25, 2006.
June 15, 2021
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
AFN/Canada Race Race Relations Foundation poll
Assembly of First Nations – Thirteen years after the Government of Canada offered a formal apology to the survivors of the residential school system and families, 68 percent of Canadians polled still say they were either unaware of the severity of abuses at residential schools or completely shocked by it.
A poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system. “The results of the survey expose glaring gaps of knowledge and education related to Canada’s history and renew calls to re-examine questions around who should be held accountable.
- 93 percent of Canadians are aware of the discovery of remains at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, with 58 percent Canadians following the news closely.
- This is a slight increase (seven percent) in the number of Canadians who were closely following the news on the legacy of residential schools upon the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, nearly six years ago.
- Despite 72 percent of Canadians being saddened by the news of the mass grave, only 10 percent of Canadians are very familiar with the history of the residential school system
- 62 percent of Canadians believe that provincial education curricula do not include nearly enough about residential schools,
- 65 percent believe the level of education around residential schools should increase.
- 70 percent of survey respondents say that the framing of residential schools has been downplayed in the education system.
The majority of Canadians are unequivocal about whom should take responsibility for the damage done by the residential school system:
- Ninety percent of respondents believe that the federal government is liable for the damage caused by residential schools, followed by the Catholic Church (81 percent) and the RCMP (80 percent).
- Four out of five Canadians would like to see the Pope formally apologize to the survivors of residential schools. Nearly as many want the federal government to offer more funding to identify other possible mass graves at all residential school sites.
“By margins of greater than three to one, Canadians are telling us they want action on First Nations priorities,” added AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “People want to see Canada accelerate progress on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, invest in efforts to identify all unmarked graves at residential schools, and to stop fighting against our children and residential school survivors in court. Decisionmakers at all levels must heed these calls for action. These are some of the ways we can truly honour the lives of those who were so tragically lost.”
June 30, 2022
Cree Nation Government expresses its disappointment in Quebec’s lack of meaningful collaboration regarding the moose population situation in Zone 17
Nemaska, Eeyou Istchee (June 30, 2022) – The Cree Nation Government wishes to provide the following statement in response to the situation of the decline in moose population in Zone 17 and the discussions on the potential allocation of a portion of the Cree harvest of moose to Jamesian resident of the territory.
The Cree Nation Government would like to express its disappointment in the process and the lack of collaboration and communication that has been demonstrated by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks and MNA for Ungava Denis Lamothe with respect to potential solutions to maintain a sports hunt for residents of the territory.
While the Cree Nation Government was in a process to find solutions to maintain a limited sport hunt for residents of the territory while respecting the decisions of each respective communities, the Cree were unfortunately informed, via a public notice on social media by MNA for Ungava Denis Lamothe, that such solutions would not be considered by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks.
The recent announcement of the MNA has been issued without any Cree involvement and disregarded efforts currently in progress by the Cree. The announcement also referred to decisions by our Cree communities regarding the allocation to the sports hunt. Any announcement of a Cree harvest allocation to the sports hunt should have been provided by the Cree Nation Government. Furthermore, this announcement fails to respect due process while such decision by Québec should have been brought to the Cree Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee (HFTCC).
It is important to clarify that intensive efforts have been invested by the Cree Nation Government, concerned communities and tallymen, to propose solutions and approaches that would meet the expectations of all impacted by the decline of the moose population in Zone 17, including the Jamesian residents of the territory.
Given the current population, the HFTCC has established a limit of harvest of 104 moose and allocated this entre harvest to the Cree as foreseen in the JBNQA which states under sub-paragraph 24.6.3 d) that if game populations do not permit levels of harvesting equal to the guaranteed level established pursuant to paragraph 24.6.2, the Native people shall be allocated the entire harvest and may allocate a portion of this kill to non-Natives through recognized outfitting facilities. Pursuant to this, and given the sensitivity of the issue, the Cree have undertaken extensive consultations throughout the last 5 months with the impacted communities and tallymen to assess the feasibility of sharing a portion this allocation to the Jamesian residents of the territory.
The communities have expressed many concerns on the decline of the moose population including increased pressure from development, forestry and mining activities, increased uncontrolled access, lack of monitoring of wildlife population, as well as the lack of surveillance in the territory. Most importantly, the impacted communities and tallymen have outlined the importance of prioritizing the conservation of the moose population and its habitat first and foremost as well as the preservation of their traditional activities and subsistence needs as outlined in the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA).
Our tallymen have been patient and have continued to show openness despite the numerous impacts that they are subject to. The allocation of moose would have required great sacrifice by our tallymen and people to further reduce our harvest to accommodate the needs of the residents of the territory. Despite this, some of our tallymen and communities were still open to share their portion of the moose harvest in a spirit of sharing, compassion, and harmony between users of the territory.
The decision the Cree Nation of Waswanipi has taken to maintain the closure of the moose sport hunt for 2022, is in respect of concerns brought forth through their tallymen and the desire to focus on the development of a moose conservation plan. In parallel, the community and concerned tallymen of Ouje-Bougoumou has been open to allocate a portion of their harvest to the Jamesian residents of the territory for a special project that would maintain a limited sport hunt for the 2022 season.
The Cree Nation has expressed numerous times their openness by proposing solutions that have unfortunately not been adopted by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks. In the meantime, the Cree Nation Government, the concerned communities, and tallymen will continue its work towards developing a moose conservation plan and harvesting guidelines through a Moose Management Committee. This plan will outline measures addressing impacts on the moose population and its habitat.
The Government of Québec must acknowledge its responsibility towards balancing development and conservation of habitat in addition to facilitating and promoting a harmonious co-existence between populations of the territory. The Cree Nation Government remains open to these discussions in the spirit of collaboration essential to positive and beneficial relations for all.
October 24, 2021
Montreal Canadiens Land Acknowlegement
Toronto Star – The Montreal Canadians Land Acknowledgement preceding a hockey game “that’s launched hysterical editorials, hours of inane talk radio chatter and the interference of Quebec’s populist right wing government. What’s so offensive? That the Canadiens are insinuating Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) is unceded Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) territory.”
According to the nationalist school of Quebec history, when Champlain explored the area in 1603, no trace of the community Cartier described – in 1535 – was found. The island was claimed to be uninhabited—Terra Nullius—and thus free for the taking. Similarly, when de Maisonneuve founded Ville Marie in 1642, no trace of Hochelaga could be found, and so it was presumed the island was free for the French to colonize.
Apparently, it’s drawing the connection between extant Indigenous communities and unceded territory in the more public realm of a Montreal Canadiens hockey game that is a step too far. Quebec’s non-Indigenous Indigenous Affairs minister, Ian Lafrenière’s overly cautious (and inconsistent) approach to historical accuracy
is laughably lopsided given it is only the Kanien’kehá:ka claim to the land that apparently deserves greater scrutiny and not the ludicrous assertion an island dotted with Indigenous burial sites could be considered a ‘no man’s land’ ripe for the picking.
It isn’t conclusively proven that the people of Hochelaga are the direct ancestors of the Kanien’kehá:ka, but it is a safe bet the Kanien’kehá:ka are more closely related to the Hochelagans than certainly anyone of Euro-Canadian ancestry.
That a seemingly innocuous land acknowledgement could create such a firestorm speaks volumes about how dangerous nationalist sentiments can become. Hochelaga (Montreal) was not the only place where Indigenous people in Québec lived but the concept of terra nullius knows no boundaries not only in Quebec but in every other province and territory where federal and provincial governments refuse to acknowledge the existence of Indigenous laws and legal traditions and methods of governance. After all the concept of terra nullius gives them the justification to ignore treaties and “unceded” territory and enforce a Eurocentric view of ownership that overrides Indigenous views of land and responsibility.
No wonder the AFN-QL warn about the dangers of the Québec’s governments revision of the Ethics and Religious Culture course offered to secondary school students to advance “Québec citizenship” as the primary focus. As AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard points out,” That the rights of the “Quebec nation” in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate… There are other ways to build national pride.”
September 14, 2021
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card
Native Women’s Association of Canada – NWAC commissioned Nanos Research to compare the parties’ platforms with the 11 policy issues NWAC determined to be of primary importance. Those policy issues include:
- human rights
- clean water
- child welfare
- justice and policing
- employment and
- economic development, and
- health care.
The result is a 79-page document called SCORECARD: Where do the federal parties stand on Indigenous women’s issues:
- First: NDP – A (52 points)
- Second: Liberal – B (45 points)
- Third: Green – B (41 points)
- Fourth: Conservatives – D (26 points)
- Fifth: Bloc Québecois – D (19 points)
September 14, 2021
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card
|Rights of Indigenous Women & MMIWG2S||
|Self Determination & Decision-Making||
|Reconciliation & residential Schools||
|Environment & Climate Change||
|Clean Drinking Water & Public Services||
|Justice and Policing||
|Employment and Econ. Dev.||
October 26, 2021
First Nations, Inuit
Revisions to Ethics and Religious Culture course
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador – The Legault government is revising the Ethics and Religious Culture course, offered to secondary school students in the province, with the objective of giving its content a more “Quebec citizenship” focus. The project is part of the new nationalist ideology championed by Premier François Legault. The Premier’s initiative raises many concerns, including those of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).
“What kind of message to young people can be expected by a provincial government that is determined to deny the deep roots of discrimination and racism that make it a systemic scourge? What other message can we expect from a provincial government that is determined not only to deny, but to fight in court the very existence of First Nations’ fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination, to govern themselves according to their rights, customs and traditions?
If we base ourselves on statements and actions that are taken by the Legault government on a daily basis, young Quebecers will be convinced that it is legitimate and fair to have built Quebec’s collective wealth on the backs of First Nations, by depriving them of their right to their territories and resources and that the rights of the “Quebec nation” in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate.
The AFNQL is very concerned that this initiative, with such strong nationalistic content put forward by the Legault government, will be taking us back years whereas, it could have been a step forward towards the Systemic Reconciliation that First Nations are proposing to Quebecers. There are other ways to build national pride,” says AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
June 9, 2022
The CAQ’s record with Indigenous peoples is historically disappointing
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador: Wendake, QC – As the parliamentary session in Quebec City comes to an end, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is drawing up a less than rosy assessment of the Legault government’s mandate in terms of its relations with First Nations. From its recent adoption of Bill 96 to its refusal to recognize systemic racism, the CAQ has shown indifference, and even contempt and paternalism towards First Nations, marking a break from previous governments.
“Respect for language and culture, children’s rights, and discrimination, the Legault government has not delivered in any of these areas and has demonstrated not only arrogance, but also a glaring lack of consideration toward the realities of First Nations. Unfortunately, we have witnessed four years of missed appointments,” stated Ghislain Picard, despite having seen many governments come and go after 30 years as Chief of the AFNQL.
A series of setbacks on fundamental rights
- Language: the adoption of Bill 96 imposes a historic setback in terms of First Nations’ language rights. In 1977, when Bill 101 was passed, Indigenous communities, whose languages and cultures were already greatly weakened, were exempted from the application of the Charter of the French Language, a principle that has since been recognized and respected by all subsequent governments.
- Yet, the Legault government has chosen to ignore this principle.
- Systemic Racism: In parallel, for the past four years, every minister in the Legault government, like their leader, has stubbornly denied the existence of systemic racism against First Nations in Quebec, despite the evidence and reports that keep accumulating and proving the Legault government wrong. In the wake of the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, Minister Ian Lafrenière made the minimum commitment required by the circumstances: to include the notion of cultural safety in the Act Respecting Health services and Social Services (ARHSSS).
- This spring, the government reneged on its word by not amending the ARHSSS to that effect.
- Youth Protection: The Legault government rejected several of the main recommendations issued by the Viens and Laurent Commissions which among others, included:
- the recognition and respect of First Nations’ jurisdiction over youth protection and the abolition of time limits for placement in Indigenous communities.
- Child Protection: To add insult to injury, before the Supreme Court of Canada, Quebec is now challenging the constitutionality of the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (C-92), which affirms First Nations’ jurisdiction over child and family services. Yet, the reports of the Viens and Laurent Commissions recognized, as a basic principle, our right to self-determination.
- In addition, in its historic decision rendered on February 10, 2022, the Quebec Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court, recognized that Aboriginal self-government in child and family services is an Aboriginal right guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
- United Nations Declaration: Yet, newly elected, François Legault had announced his intention to multiply “nation-to-nation agreements” with Indigenous Peoples. In October 2019, the National Assembly of Quebec even unanimously adopted a motion recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- COMMENT: Indigenous Watchdog- Legault changed his mind and no longer supports UNDRIP. Québec was one of six provinces objecting to the Bill C-15 in a letter sent to PM Trudeau on Nov. 27, 2020.
“This record is a huge disappointment. The Legault government’s words have never been supported by its actions. Our approach has always been one of good faith and good will. Faced with so many rebuffs, we will make sure that we are heard during the next few months and over the course of the election campaign,” concluded Chief Picard.
July 11, 2019
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
The Council of The Federation, bi-annual meetings of the Federal, Provincial and Territory Premiers
Refusal to allow leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and the Native Woman’s Association of Canada to participate in the main body of meetings with a primary focus on climate change within each jurisdiction. As has been noted by numerous media, Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate change, especially in the north.
Multiple articles in UNDRIP explicitly address the rights of Indigenous peoples “to free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them” (Article 19) as well other fundamental rights relating to treaties and land claims, spiritual relationship “to lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources (Article 25)”,and “the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources (Article 29).
Articles 1, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 37, 40, 42, 46
Fully and completely honor the commitment to UNDRIP specifically and “Reconciliation” in general. Develop and implement the logistical framework and protocols to allow the leadership of the designated national Indigenous organizations – AFN, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and Native Women’s Association of Canada) to participate in all agenda items that directly impact Indigenous peoples.
July 9, 2019
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada
Upstream – Failure to reduce the level of poverty among Indigenous children. Tracking Indigenous child poverty and non-Indigenous child poverty trends between Census 2006 and Census 2016, it’s clear that these differences have not markedly changed over that 10-year period. “Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada” co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and published by Upstream: Institute for a Healthy Society says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.
The following straightforward recommendations should be included in the federal government’s poverty reduction plan:
- Low-income lines, including the Market Basket Measure (MBM) and the after-tax Low Income Measure (LIM-AT), should be applied on reserves and in the territories;
- Reserves, conditional upon the agreement of First Nations governments, should be included in annual income surveys, as has already begun to occur in the territories;
- The federal government should commit to a 20% reduction in MBM poverty on reserves between 2015 and 2020 and 50% reduction between 2015 and 2030.16 This is in line with the national goals, but should be evaluated separately for reserves;
- The federal government should commit to supporting self-determination, both financially and jurisdictionally, with an emphasis on revenue sharing.
December 15, 2020
First Nations, Inuit, Métis
TRC Commissioners comments about pace of Reconciliation
APTN – The three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson, are issuing a public statement expressing their concern about the slow and uneven pace of implementation of the Calls to Action released by the TRC five years ago today… While they acknowledge important and encouraging initiatives that have been made, they note that the essential foundations for reconciliation have yet to be implemented, despite government commitments, especially the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and the National Council for Reconciliation The three Commissioners have come together for the first time since the release of TRC’s final report because they feel strongly that the sense of urgency, purpose and unity around the Calls to Action must be renewed.
“Five years ago today, we delivered a report, and 94 Calls to Action, that we hoped would change the fabric of Canada forever, and bring forward important changes in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. We’ve seen some promising changes like new curriculum and courses that teach the history of Residential Schools in Canada. However, it is very concerning that the federal government still does not have a tangible plan for how they will work towards implementing the Calls to Action,” said Senator Murray Sinclair.