September 26, 2022
‘We are truly sorry’: Leaders, health officials acknowledge Indigenous-specific racism in northern Manitoba’s health-care system
CTV News: Indigenous leaders and northern health officials in Manitoba say Indigenous people continue to face racism in the health-care system, and have signed a declaration committing to eliminate it.
On Monday morning leaders from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin (KIM), and the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA), met in Thompson to sign the declaration.
“Let me begin by acknowledging Indigenous-specific racism has existed and continues to be present within the Northern Health Region. On behalf of our staff, I offer a humble heartfelt apology. We are truly sorry for the harm this has caused,” said Helga Bryant, the CEO of the NRHA. “We know we all have much to learn, and in many cases to unlearn, as we embark on this journey together.”
The declaration says the three groups acknowledge racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada exists and stems from colonization, and says this leads to a loss of trust in health systems, reduced use of services, and ultimately to poorer health outcomes for Indigenous people.
It is something Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias said he has seen within his community. “Our people are dying from things that can be prevented,” he said, adding in his first term as chief, there were 55 deaths in his community – two by suicide, four by natural causes, and the rest he said died from lack of health services.
“That’s got to stop – it has to.” He said. “We can’t live like that. Racism has to end.”
Bernice Thorassie is a client navigator with MKO and helps people access proper health-care. She said in the last year she had received 1,400 calls as of June. She shared stories of patients who came to MKO for advocacy, narrowly avoiding unnecessary amputations, or ensuring proper care is being given to their newborn babies.
She called on those working in health-care roles to learn more about the Indigenous people.”When people learn more about who we are and the extreme challenges we have lived through, you will better understand and empathize with us,” she said. “We can work together to end racism and build a safe health-care system for our children and our grandchildren.”
Manitoba’s Health Minister Audrey Gordon, who was among the officials at the signing Monday morning, said she believes the things learned in the Northern health region can be applied across the province.
“Today is not the end, there is much more work to do. We will continue to work with each other,” she said. “We want to listen and learn from Indigenous leadership in communities to acknowledge that racism exists, it does, and that changes are needed to bring about reform in our provincial health-care systems.”
As a part of the declaration, the three groups have committed to identifying and eliminating Indigenous-specific racism and will be conducting bi-annual reviews to ensure progress and accountability within the Northern Regional Health Authority.
Dr. Barry Lavallee, from KIM, said the first report is expected in six months. “The experiences of people coming into the health-care system need to be monitored as kind of a first line,” he said. “We are going to be looking at processes including developing databases that describe Indigenous patients versus non-Indigenous patients.”
He said an example of this would be monitoring whether an Indigenous child with severe asthma is offered steroids or not, compared to a non-Indigenous child.
You can read the full declaration here:
December 11, 2021
BC, Fed. Govt.
24th anniversary of Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision
Union of BC Indian Chiefs – UBCIC marks the 24th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ground-breaking Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision, which confirmed the continuing existence of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Title and Rights, contrary to provincial claims that their Title, if it had existed, had been extinguished. On December 11, 1997 the six members of the Court taking part in the judgment were unanimous in their conclusions that the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title and Rights were never extinguished by Crown occupation, and recognized Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title as inalienable, collective rights, based on their continuing use and occupation of their territories.
Since 2019 the RCMP have used force, aggression, and intimidatory tactics against Wet’suwet’en Nation members and allies, and UBCIC notes that while the CGL pipeline has been approved by both provincial and federal governments, it has come under criticism from Amnesty International, B.C.’s Human Rights Commission and the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, who say all First Nations affected by the pipeline should give free, prior and informed consent before it can proceed.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia continue to openly ignore the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting Delgamuukw decision, greenlighting the RCMP to engage in whatever violent tactics it deems appropriate to remove peaceful land defenders from their territories. UBCIC also notes that in 2020 the governments of Canada and B.C. signed an MOU with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs which included:
- Canada and B.C. recognize that Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by Wet’suwet’en houses under their system of governance.
- Canada and B.C. recognize Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title throughout the Yintah.
- Legal recognition that the Wet’suwet’en Houses are the Indigenous governing body holding the
- Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title in accordance with [their] lnuk Nuatden.
- Legal recognition of Wet’suwet’en title as a legal interest in land by Canada and B.C.
The UBCIC calls on Canada and BC to uphold the landmark Delagamuukw-Gisday’wa decision and federal and provincial legislation to implement the UN Declaration, and stop any violent or discriminatory practices against Wet’suwet’en land defenders defending their unceded territories.
November 21, 2021
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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!
August 9, 2022
A damning Parliamentary Budget Office report reveals a gaping disconnect between money spent and successful outcomes
Canada’s paternalistic mindset toward supporting Indigenous communities just doesn’t work.
A damning Parliamentary Budget Office report revealed a gaping disconnect between the government’s aspirations and the amount of money spent on the one hand, and the actual consequences on the other.
Globe & Mail: Ken Coates – McDonald-Laurier Institute
Despite a decade of dramatic increases in federal funding for Indigenous affairs, a damning report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer released in May revealed a gaping disconnect between the government’s aspirations and the amount of money spent on the one hand, and the actual consequences on the other.
Put bluntly, Canada is not getting what it is paying for – and what’s worse, the massive spending is not improving lives in Indigenous communities.
The PBO’s report on Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) summarized the situation succinctly, in the passion-free language that defines Ottawa’s civil service: “The increased spending did not result in a commensurate improvement in the ability of these organizations to achieve the goals that they had set for themselves. Based on the qualitative review the ability to achieve the targets specified has declined.”
The government can and does change up targets and metrics, making it difficult to determine actual outcomes. But given the vast expenditures, such a conclusion is tragic.
Canadians have become numb to reading about public expenditures on Indigenous peoples, much as they have to federal spending generally. Routine announcements of millions or billions of dollars for Indigenous initiatives, court settlements, compensation payments and on-reserve infrastructure have dulled many Canadians’ sensitivities. Instead, many of us have grown to see the spending of public funds as evidence of affection: If Canada spends billions on Indigenous affairs, it must mean that we care deeply about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
But it does nothing of the sort. While headlines emphasize dollar amounts, the statistics that tell the actual story of Indigenous well-being – around employment, health, housing conditions, suicide rates, violence and imprisonment, language, cultural revitalization – are much more sombre. When spending vast sums fails to make a substantial difference in many communities, the federal response is too often to double down and spend even more, in the absence of understanding what actually works to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of long-overdue attention focused on residential schools, but the schools were just a vehicle for a broader and more pernicious force: state paternalism. And Canadian governments have revealed that they have a problem with stepping away from it.
After the Second World War, in a surge of well-intended social engineering, successive governments concluded that more intervention was the solution to Indigenous living conditions. Forced relocations, reserve housing that was substandard from the start, intrusive education, bureaucratic oversight and targeted federal programs (among other initiatives) gave the state enormous authority over Indigenous lives.
Welfare dependency, one of the greatest curses inflicted on Indigenous peoples, was an almost-inevitable result. Government payments often displaced Indigenous work, disrupted families and social relations, encouraged migration to larger centres, and asserted bureaucratic domination over communities. In the early 1950s, the number of Indigenous peoples collecting welfare in its various and emerging forms was small; by the 1970s, thousands of Indigenous families were wedded to regular government support, while also facing marginalization and discrimination if they attempted to work in the mainstream economy.
Government funding comes with multiple strings attached, not the least of which is forced adherence to federal dictates. Securing government funding also requires a great deal of precious staff time, not just in applying for grants but around reporting expenditures and outcomes. Federal priorities take precedence over Indigenous preferences, distorting community initiatives and prompting the grovelling for funds to become part of Indigenous governments’ processes. Indeed, individual dependency has become Indigenous government dependency, though many communities are resisting that transition today through creative economic development strategies.
As the Auditor-General and Parliamentary Budget Office have frequently shown, far too little attention is paid to medium- and long-term outcomes. What often matters most to the federal government is whether the money was spent on time and according to budget, even if community needs and shifting priorities would have seen the funds better spent elsewhere. As Canada has shown repeatedly over the past 40 years, governments can spend a lot of money and achieve mediocre or even terrible results – typically sparking more spending to solve those new issues, rather than fundamentally re-examining whether state funding was really needed.
Moreover, Canada’s collective management of Indigenous affairs is marked by a consistent failure to monitor the effectiveness of major cash infusions. There has been little post-hoc investigation into whether multibillion-dollar compensation packages have positive financial and social effects, and major collaboration agreements with corporations too often go unexamined; the same is true for postsecondary funding, language revitalization supports, counselling interventions, land-claims agreements and the like.
Some federal expenditures do work – college and university funding, along with modern treaties and self-government agreements, appear to have solid outcomes. But others appear to do little more than paper over continuing Indigenous crises, and worse, we don’t really know, because we don’t research them enough.
Governments are not particularly good at dealing with truly wicked problems – that is, complex and multi-dimensional issues. Canada and the global community are discovering this on climate change, to our collective dismay. The crises in Indigenous communities reflect a vast array of processes – including occupation of lands and Indigenous dispossession, racism, colonialism, assertion of cultural superiority, technological transitions, religious dominance, political marginalization and economic transformation. It is unreasonable to believe that a set of government programs, however well-funded and well-meaning, will in a short period of time address all of those highly disruptive forces.
Given the failures of state programming toward Indigenous autonomy, the country – which apparently has learned little from the residential school revelations – must listen more intently to Indigenous peoples. The message from their political leaders is simple: They need and deserve greater autonomy. Government funding must continue, or even expand, but Ottawa’s strings must be cut. Indigenous governments are best suited to defining their most urgent needs and priorities, spending the money and reporting publicly to the audience that matters most: their members. Federal bureaucracies, including but not limited to CIRNAC and ISC, need to be dramatically reconceptualized and restructured.
The predictable pushback to such a strategy would be the hoary claims that Indigenous groups are less than forthcoming in terms of financial accountability. But the reality is that few Canadians appreciate that most First Nations are extremely open about their financial affairs, and candidly discuss small details of budgets, salaries and expense accounts with members. Still, since the funds are provided by the Canadian public, a legitimate measure of accountability is required by the federal government. This could be achieved through an Indigenous auditor-general providing annual reporting to Parliament.
In clinging to its traditional approach, Ottawa could triple its Indigenous affairs spending tomorrow, and still not see a miracle turnaround in Indigenous social, cultural and economic conditions. Or it could do something much more difficult and meaningful: admit the failure of the state-driven approach of the past 70 or even 150 years, trust Indigenous communities, and transfer real authority to First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments.
Changing the core fabric of this relationship will take years, if not decades, but it is clearly time for Canada to start. Chronic problems demand dramatic, transformative approaches. Indigenous peoples know what is best for them, and are the only ones who could oversee such a successful revitalization.
Ken Coates is a distinguished fellow and director of the Indigenous Affairs program at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, and a Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan.
April 20, 2018
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
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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.”
November 9, 2022
Fed. Govt., First Nations
BCAFN Honours Important Contributions by Indigenous Veterans
(Lheidli T’enneh Territory – Prince George, BC) – The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is grateful and honours the many First Nations in British Columbia who made significant and important contributions to Canada’s military service. Over the years, First Nations displayed incredible strength, determination, generosity, resilience and courage, and are a source of immense pride and respect for their families, communities, and all Canadians. We acknowledge the sacrifices made and remember the family and friends who lost their lives and the deep scars left on our communities with these losses.
This year, Canada Post issued a new stamp to remember the life and achievements of Sergeant Thomas George Prince, one of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous war veterans and a prominent Anishinaabe activist. He was well known for his skills and bravery and was awarded 11 medals for heroism during his military service in WWII and Korean War. His warrior spirit remained with him as he returned from overseas and continued to fight for Indigenous rights and equality. After the wars he fought, Prince struggled as a civilian as he did not qualify for Canadian armed forces veteran benefits, including veterans employment programs, veterans education support, or land purchase support for military veterans, because of his status as a First Nations member.
Discrimination against Indigenous veterans continued in Canada for decades after the Korean war. The lives of many Indigenous veterans, including Sergeant Tommy Prince, ended in despair and poverty because of policies and laws that excluded them or removed their status and rights as Indigenous peoples.
In addition, it was not until 1995 that Indigenous peoples were permitted to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honour their dead.
BCAFN recognizes the efforts and determination of First Nations veterans who demanded equality and recognition of their wartime contributions and their activism as civilians to stand against injustice as they fought for their identities and rights. They ensured that their stories and histories, previously ignored, were preserved in Canadian history and the national consciousness.
Currently, approximately 2,800 Indigenous members are enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Some also fill other military roles, such as the Canadian Rangers and army reservists, who are predominantly active in the North and on remote stretches of our east and west coasts.
For further information, contact: Annette Schroeter, Communications Officer, (778)281-1655
October 31, 2022
Canada’s attempts to change the Indian Act without adequate consultation must stop!
NationTalk: On October 21, 2022, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs (Assembly) was made aware that the Government of Canada is intending to make changes to the Indian Act. This information was brought to their attention by a third-party, not by the Department of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
The Assembly is frustrated and angered, that ISC would attempt to make changes to policies that impact Indigenous people in Canada, without proper consultation of the people whose lives are directly impacted by these amendments. This goes against the promises of working towards reconciliation and Articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – which Canada said they would uphold with the passing of Bill C-15. The deadline for comment imposed by ISC is November 1, 2022.
“Not properly engaging our communities and then pushing through legislative changes on such a restrictive timeline is wrong and disrespectful,” said Chief Sidney Peters, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. “Canada is only furthering the colonized approach that they should be working harder to move away from. This is an unfortunate step backwards in the work towards Reconciliation and the promise to build a Nation-to-Nation relationship.”
The Assembly believes reform to the Indian Act (1985) is necessary for reconciliation to take place, but simply reforming legislation that was originally intended to remove and limit the Rights of Indigenous people, and assimilate Indigenous people to settler-colonial citizenship, will always uphold colonial notions. Meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities is required to identify a legislative path forward which upholds Indigenous Rights, upholds the Honour of the Crown, and Canada’s fiduciary duty to Indigenous communities.
“Canada is making legislative changes that could directly impact the lives of our members and impact how we operate our communities. We must be part of those decisions. It is up to us to fight for our people, and we’re going to do that,” said Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs.
At no time has Canada upheld the Honour of the Crown, nor the Duty to Consult, with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia on their proposed legislative amendments to the Indian Act. Further, this engagement process was inaccessible and inadequately communicated.
The Assembly is demanding that Canada upholds their Crown obligations and undertake formal consultation, pursuant to the Terms of Reference for a Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Process immediately.
August 17, 2022
Canada’s takeover of First Nations finances left a legacy of substandard homes and contaminated water
NationTalk: Canada’s National Observer: Gull Bay First Nation is finally starting to recover.
For decades, the Ojibway community north of Thunder Bay, Ont., has suffered through a series of disasters nearly unparalleled among non-Indigenous communities.
In 2004, an assessment found about half of the First Nation’s 100 homes were dilapidated and unlivable, mostly due to mold. Today, dozens of homes have been replaced and more construction is planned. The community’s boil-water advisory will soon be officially lifted, ending a 13-year interruption to its water supply. And according to Chief Wilfred King, Gull Bay now has a positive balance on the books, a triumph for the community, whose debt once soared as high as $11 million.
The nation’s finances spun out of control in 2004, at a time when they were controlled by a “third-party manager” appointed by the federal government, he said.
“That [set] us back easily 20 years,” said Chief King, referring to the period between 2002 and 2010. “No resources went into building up our community. There was just a lot of people making money on our backs, on our misery.”
Canada’s intervention in Gull Bay was part of a long-standing federal policy granting officials options for placing a First Nation under trusteeship if they believed the chief and council were not managing funding responsibly. The federal government announced plans to replace the Default Prevention and Management Policy (DPMP) in 2017.
An investigation by Canada’s National Observer and researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University examined the impact on First Nations where the policy was in place between 2008 and 2016. It found in more than half of cases where federally appointed “default managers” either shared control or assumed complete control of a First Nation’s finances, conditions in the community got worse, not better.
In at least 65 of those 112 First Nations, the community experienced long-term boil-water advisories or the percentage of homes in need of major repair increased. On the other hand, conditions were more likely to improve in First Nations left to manage their own affairs.
A federal financial intervention program created new water and housing hardships for at least 65 First Nations while it was in place, a @NatObserver investigation finds. #cdnpoli
Boil-water advisories followed the federal government’s imposition of the DPMP in every case where records were available, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
“There should be a class-action lawsuit,” said Chief King after Canada’s National Observer shared with him the results of the two-year investigation. The federal government is liable for any damages communities experienced, he said.
“This policy here sets First Nations back, and it’s designed to set them back,” said Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe of the Anishinabek Nation, an organization representing 39 First Nations. “There should be some sort of reparations for the communities who have gone through this.”
The investigative team built a database using ISC documents and data obtained by Shiri Pasternak at Toronto Metropolitan University through the Access to Information Act. Effects on housing were quantified using Statistics Canada’s data on housing repairs needed and numbers of homes. The team is gathering more information to better understand the impacts on the First Nations administered under DPMP during this period, but this may constitute the most comprehensive information gathered on the policy’s impacts to date.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu was not available for comment. In response to questions, an ISC spokesperson pointed out the federal government acknowledged problems with the intervention policy in a 2017 report and is “replacing it with a new, proactive approach that supports capacity development.”
Currently, ISC administers 93 First Nations under the DPMP, but only one is currently under third-party management, the policy’s most restrictive form of trusteeship. In cases where default managers are still working with bands, they are now paid through dedicated federal funds.
ISC acknowledged that the federal government’s chronic underfunding of First Nations programs and services hindered leaders’ ability to deliver them and set the stage for DPMP being enacted in the first place. “That is why, since April 2016, Canada has committed more than $14 billion to improve infrastructure in First Nations communities,” a spokesperson for the federal department said.
“This is the ultimate manifestation of the power of the Canadian state,” said Charlie Angus, an NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, a riding that includes First Nations administered under DPMP. “The results are clear.
“(In) what municipality in Canada does the government arbitrarily take out the chief or the mayor and council and bring somebody who doesn’t even live in the community, who has absolute, total control?” he said. “That’s colonialism.”
Angus said the data describes what he’s seen during his 18 years in politics. As the NDP’s former critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, a department that has since been dissolved and replaced by ISC, he witnessed housing conditions deteriorate in First Nations in his riding and across Canada. For First Nations placed under third-party management, “no contracts could be signed for building,” he said, “and so you had people who were living in a massive housing crisis.”
Federal authorities repeatedly warned Canadian leaders about the failures of the DPMP after it was formalized in 2001, according to internal documents the team obtained. Until 2017, it was administered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Successive auditors general pointed out the highly paid default managers, who often earned between $160,000 and $420,000 annually, had no incentive to hand control back to First Nations. By 2008, most had been in their positions for 10 years or more. The number of First Nations administered under all forms of this policy peaked at more than 180 in 2004, then stabilized around 150 until 2017.
A 2003 federal audit report labelled the financial control policy “punitive” and noted third-party managers needed more guidance on how to pay down debts. The managers made poor decisions about infrastructure, and some government officials failed to follow federal tendering rules when hiring them, the audit stated. “There was no indication of public tenders or open bidding for the work,” the federal audit team wrote in 2003.
Naiomi Metallic, an assistant professor of law at Dalhousie University and member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, said the DPMP exacerbated poverty in First Nations already facing budgetary deficits, creating “a vicious circle” of growing debt, ensnaring these communities in long-term crises.
“They’re sort of trapping them in these poverty traps,” she said.
The team found significant regional differences. In Manitoba, federal authorities administered nearly 90 per cent of First Nations under this policy between 2008 and 2017, while officials in B.C. imposed it on 15 per cent of First Nations.
Current and former default managers and federal workers explained in interviews that the ministry’s regional offices had considerable autonomy. But in many cases, First Nations were placed under government financial control because they had simply reallocated funds from one department to another — for example, from education to road maintenance after a flood — to solve budgetary emergencies caused by federal underfunding.
In Gull Bay First Nation, the chief and council tried in vain to monitor the nation’s debts after a new third-party manager was brought in. They asked him for the First Nation’s financial documents, which he refused to share. Gull Bay leadership successfully fought both the default manager and the federal government in court in 2006 to gain access to the documents. The presiding judge noted in the decision that the manager had treated requests from Gull Bay leaders “somewhat distainfully (sic) and with considerable delay.”
Gull Bay switched to co-management in 2010 and retains this status for bookkeeping purposes, Chief King said. Like many remote communities, it is a challenge for Gull Bay to find qualified financial professionals to manage federal reporting requirements, which most experts suggest are beyond the capacity of even experienced chartered professional accountants.
However, Grand Council Chief Niganobe said the threat of federal intervention remains, since the policy has never been entirely repealed.
“If you really want to decolonize anything, you take it all away,” he said.
— With files from Rob Houle, Declan Keogh, Michael Wrobel, Jaida Beaudin and Karina Zapata. This reporting builds on work undertaken in partnership with the “Clean Water, Broken Promises” consortium.
If you are a member of a First Nation that has been administered under the DPMP or would like to learn more about the data and documents the team has collected, please contact us at email@example.com.
July 6, 2018
Cancellation of Indigenous curriculum content
Ontario’s Ministry of Education has cancelled a project to update provincial curriculum documents with Indigenous content. including those on TRC curriculum revisions and Indigenous languages in kindergarten. Ontario is the only province to renege on its commitment. See Education C2A # 62i. Doug Ford continues to undo the work of his predecessor, Kathleen Wynne, who initiated a number of positive reforms to advance Reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Indigenous stakeholder groups in Ontario have raised objections to this unilateral and unjustified dismantling of Reconciliation efforts especially given the positive momentum generated in other provinces and territories.
November 15, 2018
Closing Child and Youth Advocate Office
Letter from the Provincial Advocate for Children. Mar. 13, 2019
Progressive Conservative government announced as part of its Fall Economic Outlook that they would be repealing the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, and transferring investigation authority into child welfare services, residential care (including youth justice) and children’s secure treatment to the Ombudsman’s Office.
30% of child welfare caseload in Ontario is Indigenous despite comprising only 4.1% of the population. Many of the provisions in the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, 2007, will not be carried over to the Ombudsman’s Office.
These include, but are not limited to:
- broadening the Ombudsman’s investigation mandate to include all children and youth currently served within our mandate;
- the power to investigate or be notified of incidents of serious occurrences, such as when a young person dies or suffers serious bodily harm; and
- the responsibility to provide rights education to children and youth seeking or receiving services.
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.
February 3, 2020
Fed. Govt., MB
Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation
CTV News – People from a Manitoba First Nation destroyed by flooding nearly nine years ago met in Winnipeg on Monday after a federal court upheld a decision by the federal government last week to end benefits for evacuees still waiting to go home Chief Adrian Sinclair has expressed concern some people, who have been temporarily living in Winnipeg since severe flooding displaced around 1,400 people, could end up homeless with evacuation benefits coming to an end.
The federal government said Monday, financial support is ending because there’s more housing now than before the flood.
November 7, 2019
Fed. Govt., MB
Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation
Government of Canada – announcement by the Government of Canada to cut off funding for emergency aid to residents of Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba on Dec. 31. 2019 with the expectation that new housing stock – needed due to the massive 2011 flood – will be finished by then to accommodate all evacuees. Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair says the recent storm, and other factors have delayed the completion of houses on the First Nation.
When a massive flood hit Manitoba, the Government of Manitoba decided to divert water to Lake St. Martin in order to protect cottage, and agricultural properties on other bodies of water. As a result, all the housing at Lake St. Martin First Nation was destroyed. As of 2014, the approximately 1,900 flood evacuees are still displaced (Wikipedia).
November 6, 2019
Fed. Govt., MB
Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation
Nov. 6, 2019 – While some have returned to newly constructed houses, 991 people are still waiting for a place to live, 400 of them children. (CTV)
June 29, 2018
Eliminating dedicated Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Eliminating a dedicated cabinet position for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and subsuming all responsibilities under one Ministry responsible for energy, northern development ad mines, and Indigenous Affairs June 29, 2018 – The Ipperwash Inquiry into the police killing of protester Dudley George in an Indigenous occupation of a provincial park in 1995 concluded that divided attention was dangerous — that Native Affairs, as it then was, should be its own ministry. (Ottawa Citizen)
July 12, 2022
Federal government is failing First Nation fishers, Senate Committee on Fishing and Oceans finds
NationTalk: Halifax – More than 23 years after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling affirmed the treaty fishing rights of certain First Nations, the federal government has failed to fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries, according to a new report by the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Peace on the Water: Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries examines the federal government’s response to the Marshall decision and the implementation of the rights of First Nation communities in parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.
The scope of the study focuses on the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in R. v. Marshall, which upheld the treaty rights of First Nation communities to fish in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood” by catching and selling fish year-round. This decision affected 35 Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the Gaspé region of Quebec.
Witnesses told the committee that the failure of consecutive federal governments to fully implement rights-based fisheries has resulted in tension, disagreements and violence between First Nations and non-First Nations fishers in parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The committee also heard several allegations of systemic racism within federal departments and agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Witnesses testified how federal authorities have pursued an enforcement approach that has surveyed and criminalized First Nation fishers, yet failed to protect them from acts of intimidation and violence. Further, the committee heard how Fisheries and Oceans Canada prioritizes commercial fisheries over rights-based fisheries.
The study makes 10 recommendations on how the federal government can fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries, including reallocating commercial traps to the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati, developing tools to educate the public about rights-based fisheries, and integrating Indigenous laws, principles and knowledge with scientific data into decision-making processes. The report concludes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to implementing Indigenous rights-based fisheries and that any solutions must be reached in collaboration with First Nation communities.
- Fisheries across Canada fall into two categories. Rights-based fisheries are based on Aboriginal or treaty rights set out in historic and modern treaties between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Privilege-based fisheries, like commercial or recreational fisheries, are often fee-based and subject to limitations through licencing and regulation.
- Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie found that the Peace and Friendship treaties negotiated between the British Crown and First Nation communities in 1760 and 1761 “affirm the right of the Mi’kmaq people to continue to provide for their own sustenance by taking the products of their hunting, fishing and other gathering activities and trading for what in 1760 was termed ‘necessaries’.”
“We have heard loud and clear from First Nation witnesses that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing Indigenous rights-based fisheries. It is crucial that the federal government immediately take steps to co-manage rights-based fisheries with First Nations across the country.”
– Senator Fabian Manning, Chair of the committee
“It has been 23 long years since the Marshall ruling. The Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati communities are still waiting for their fishing rights to be fully implemented. They should not have to wait any longer.”
– Senator Bev Busson, Deputy Chair of the committee
“We need to focus on a reconciliation approach to distributing fishing licences instead of a ‘buyback’ approach. The exercise of Indigenous rights cannot, and should not, be contingent on the federal government’s ability to buy back licences from commercial fishers.”
– Senator Brian Francis, member of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure
July 13, 2022
Federal government is failing First Nation fishers, Senate Committee on Fishing and Oceans finds: REBUTTAL
NationTalk: HALIFAX, NS – The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) is voicing its grave dissatisfaction and frustration over a study released by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans earlier this week on Indigenous rights-based fisheries, specifically those affirmed in the 1999 Marshall decisions. The report dismisses over twenty-two years of work by the federal government to implement Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati rights-based fisheries and its approach to negotiations and the methods used to gain more access for First Nations.
“The findings are incredibly biased and do not adequately represent the legal realities of the Marshall decisions,” says Colin Sproul, President of the UFCA. “It appears to have been written without substantial engagement from those closest to the fishing industry and without legal context to the fishery,” says Sproul, adding that broader consultation with industry and legal experts is required to ensure it reflects the current realities of the commercial fishery.
While the Marshall decisions (I & II) affirm the Indigenous Right to participate in the largely regulated fishery, the UFCA argues the study fails to recognize the substantial commercial access that has been granted to, and held by Indigenous communities since this affirmation. The value that the federal government has invested for First Nations impacted by the Marshall decision is nearly $1-billion and per capita, First Nations have more commercial fishery access than non-Indigenous. Furthermore, hundreds of Commercial Communal licences, provided for the pursuit of a moderate livelihood, are controlled and leased by Chief and Council to non-Indigenous commercial fishers for a royalty.
“We support Indigenous fishing access utilized by community members for employment, opposed to a royalty benefit controlled by First Nations government,” says Sproul.
The report also inaccurately refers to the moderate livelihood fishery as a priority access fishery. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed, rather, that the treaty right is a right to “equitable access”; a right to participate in the modern, regulated commercial fishery. “If the Senate Committee is serious about understanding this issue, we strongly encourage them to attempt sober second thought; that is to say, unbiased thought that seeks to understand the Right, the participation level, mechanisms of participation and the value of a single fisheries management authority for sustainability and conservation. Our goal is to have Indigenous and non-indigenous fishing side by side again however, advocating expropriation and chaotic change is not a path to “peace on the water”. The report takes into account the input and perspectives of approximately 18 groups representing Indigenous communities across the Maritimes but just two commercial fisheries associations. The absence of non-indigenous experts who live and work in these communities is evident because it’s clear this Senate Committee does not have the appropriate information to have made practical balanced recommendations on this issue.”
About the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance
The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) represents thousands of independent, multi-species commercial fishermen and women, fishery associations and associated businesses from across Atlantic Canada. The UFCA was formed to bring together many participants in the Atlantic fishery to speak with one balanced, coordinated and moderate voice.
For more information, visit www.ufca.ca
Colin Sproul, President
Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance
February 28, 2019
Firing of Jody Wilson-Raybould over SNC-Lavalin
Firing Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould for refusing to grant SNC-Lavalin a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement”. As she stated in her testimony to the Justice Committee: “I was taught to always hold true to your core values, principles and to act with integrity…I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House”.
“The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country, includes a history of the rule of law not being respected…And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.” Jody Wilson-Raybould. “For more than150 years Canada has bent laws, disrespected treaties, spent millions taking First Nations to court over resource sharing and tried to bully communities into pipelines.” Tanya Talaga. Toronto Star. March 1, 2019
November 2, 2022
First Nations leaders push back against ‘Saskatchewan First Act’ tabled by government
First Nations leaders unhappy with Legislation and lack of consultation.
First Peoples Law Report: APTN News – The Saskatchewan government has tabled its controversial Saskatchewan First Act, in spite of push-back from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Saskatchewan Treaty Commissioner and the opposition NDP.
The government had unveiled the policy in October which is aimed at “confirming Saskatchewan’s autonomy and exclusive jurisdiction over its natural resources”, which appears to be at odds with First Nations rights laid out in the treaties.
“First Nations are not surprised with the province’s lack of consultation and accommodation when it comes to the development of laws, regulations, and policies imposed upon us, especially when it impacts our inherent, treaty and constitutional rights,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a statement released Wednesday.
“Our people have always maintained that the lands and waters were never relinquished under Treaty. First Nations continue to be excluded from discussions related to the natural resources, just as we were in 1930 when they imposed the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement.”
The original treaties stated the land was to be shared to the depth of a plow.
A statement posted on the Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan’s website, reads that: Economic reconciliation requires an ethical process that respects Constitutionally protected rights, Treaty rights and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Métis and Indigenous Rights Critic for the NDP, Betty Nippi-Albright, is promising to re-introduce a bill that would force the government to engage in “meaningful duty-to-consult”. She says it’s needed because the province and industry have not engaged in a meaningful way when First Nations are going to be impacted.
The premier has defended the legislation. In an Oct. 13 statement emailed to APTN News, Scott Moe said the government’s goal was to unlock Saskatchewan’s economic potential for the benefit of everyone in the province, including First Nations.
“Our government’s actions to protect and defend our exclusive constitutional jurisdiction over natural resources does not in any way diminish or detract from First Nations treaty rights, as they are enshrined in the Constitution,” Moe said.
The province’s Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre, called the legislation historic.
“It is time to draw the line and assert our constitutional rights,” Eyre stated, echoing the premier’s comments when the plan was first outlined at a Battlefords business meeting October 11.
The Act amends the Constitution of Saskatchewan and asserts what the government sees as the province’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada.
That includes jurisdiction over exploration for non-renewable natural resources, the development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural and forestry resources, and the operation of sites and facilities for the generation and production of electrical energy.
The Moe government claims the federal government’s environmental polices would cost the province $111-billion over 12 years.
The FSIN hinted last month it may pursue legal recourse. It said when the province ignores its constitutional obligations to consult on important policies, First Nations have no choice but to consider their legal options.
March 19, 2019
Funding for National Council for Reconciliation
Deferring the budget decision to fund the National Council for Reconciliation until AFTER the next election. The Interim Board of Directors appointed in Dec. 2017 submitted their interim report to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs on June 12, 2018. The 2020 fiscal year beginning April 1, 2020 will be almost five years since the TRC Summary Report was issued on June 2, 2015 and almost 2 years since the National Council interim board submitted their report on June 2018 with detailed recommendations on mandate, scope, budget, reporting, governance etc. This will be the third government since the TRC Summary Report was issued: Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau (2 x).Make that 3x and no progress as of Dec. 5, 2021)
April 1, 2022
Government of Québec reneges on Indigenous commitments
CISION: Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador
- refusal to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act
- refusal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position
- refusal to establish an Assistant Commissioner and team to address issue impacting Indigenous children
Le Devoir recently published an article announcing that the Government of Quebec would not be honoring its commitment to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act, thus feeding the insecurities experienced by First Nations within this system.
Far from being a true understanding of the realities faced by First Nations people who experience racism and discrimination in public services, this earlier commitment by the CAQ was made in response to the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan and the subsequent complaints of other Indigenous patients at the Joliette hospital. This was also one of the recommendations of the Viens commission report (C.E.R.P.).
This legislative measure was but a very small weapon to fight such a great scourge as racism in the health and social services system and now, Quebec is backtracking and refusing to implement this timid measure. Asked by Le Devoir about this change of heart, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, said that despite this setback, his government was still “discussing the idea”.
“Fighting systemic racism against First Nations will take more than words. The CAQ government prefers to isolate itself in its denial of the very existence of systemic racism that threatens the well-being and safety of First Nations people, even though its existence has been denounced in every forum, by the public and by the commissions of inquiry as well as by the opposition parties. Only the CAQ government does not see systemic racism in its public services,” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
In the same article published by Le Devoir, we learn that the CAQ has also rejected a proposal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position, an idea consistent with recommendations of the Viens Commission. The minister’s argument in support of this decision is that there will be one protector for all students. This reasoning is problematic because the inequalities that exist between Indigenous students and their non-Indigenous counterparts will require adapted measures to eliminate the gap in educational achievement that exists between these populations. Also of note is Minister Carman’s exclusion of the recommendation to establish an Assistant Commissioner position and a team dedicated exclusively to issues impacting Indigenous children with the Commissioner of well-being and the rights of children, proposed in the framework of the Commission Laurent. By insisting on a one size fits all approach, the government is in fact reinforcing the inequities that First Nations students continue to experience within the education system.
Refusal to include cultural safety in legislation, refusal to take specific measures to support First Nations in their pursuit of academic achievement, refusal to recognize systemic racism, etc. The AFNQL Chiefs are saying that the government’s systematic denial of the unique realities experienced by First Nations has gone on for far too long. Faced with a provincial government that prides itself on being proactive and seeking concrete solutions, it is easy to see why First Nations are just not buying the good faith rhetoric being peddled by this government.
November 15, 2022
Indigenous Services Canada did not provide First Nations communities with support to manage emergencies
Auditor-General of Canada: Ottawa —A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled today in the House of Commons found that Indigenous Services Canada did not provide First Nations communities with the support they need to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies such as floods and wildfires, which are increasing in both frequency and intensity. Over the last 13 years, more than 1,300 emergencies have occurred in First Nations communities, causing more than 130,000 people to be evacuated and displaced.
The audit found that First Nations communities had identified many infrastructure projects that would mitigate the impact of emergencies. The department has a backlog of 112 of these infrastructure projects that it has approved but not funded. Meanwhile, it is spending 3.5 times more money on responding to and recovering from emergencies than on providing communities with the support that would help them prevent these emergencies or enhance their abilities to respond to them. Indigenous Services Canada’s actions were consistently more reactive than preventative. According to Public Safety Canada, for every $1 invested in preparedness and mitigation, $6 can be saved in emergency response and recovery costs.
Many of the issues noted in this audit were first raised in the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s 2013 audit of emergency management on reserves. For example, Indigenous Services Canada still had not identified which First Nations communities most need support to increase their capacity to prepare for emergencies. If the department identified these communities, it could target investments accordingly—for example, to build culverts and dikes to prevent or reduce the impact of seasonal floods. This would help to minimize costs that the department is currently incurring to help First Nations communities respond to and recover from emergencies.
The audit also found that Indigenous Services Canada did not know whether First Nations communities received services that were culturally appropriate and comparable to those provided to similar non‑Indigenous communities.
“Over the last 4 fiscal years, Indigenous Services Canada has spent about $828 million on emergency management,” said Ms. Hogan. “Funding and building approved infrastructure projects, such as culverts and dikes to prevent seasonal floods, would help minimize the impact on people and the cost of responding to and recovering from emergencies.”
– 30 –
The 2022 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 8—Emergency Management in First Nations Communities—Indigenous Services Canada is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
Please visit our Media Room for more information.
8.32 Indigenous Services Canada should work with First Nations to implement a risk-based approach to inform program planning and decisions on where to invest in preparedness and mitigation activities to maximize support to communities at highest risk of being affected by emergencies.
8.36 Indigenous Services Canada should work with First Nations communities to address the backlogs of eligible but unfunded structural mitigation projects and of unreviewed structural mitigation projects to effectively allocate resources to reduce the impact of emergencies on First Nationscommunities.
8.39 Indigenous Services Canada should, on the basis of an assessment of risks, regularly update outdated departmental and regional emergency management plans and take immediate action to develop regional emergency management plans for the 3 regions that do not have them. These plans should be used to make informed decisions and take concrete actions to assist First Nations communities with managing the risks related to emergencies.
8.42 Indigenous Services Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, should determine how many emergency management coordinator positions are required and allocate funding for these positions on the basis of risk and need to ensure that First Nations have sustained capacity to manage emergencies.
8.62 Indigenous Services Canada should, in collaboration with First Nations, provincial governments, and other service providers, ensure that First Nations communities receive the emergency management services they need by:
- establishing emergency management service agreements and wildfire agreements in all jurisdictions that include all First Nations
- establishing mutually agreed-upon evacuation service standards in the jurisdictions that lack such standards
- increasing support for First Nations–led approaches to emergency management8.66 Indigenous Services Canada should develop performance indicators to allow the department
to measure progress against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and use these indicators to track and report publicly on progress.
8.68 Indigenous Services Canada should, in collaboration with First Nations, provincial governments, and other service providers, ensure that First Nations communities receive the emergency management services they need by
- defining what is meant by comparable services for First Nations in relation to those available to municipalities of similar size and circumstance in each jurisdiction
- monitoring the services provided to First Nations to ensure that they are comparable to services provided to non-Indigenous communities, are culturally appropriate, and address the needs of marginalized groups
- identifying and addressing shortcomings by monitoring emergency management service agreements and conducting lessons-learned exercises
To view the complete report including the government responses click on the following link.
October 5, 2022
Justice Department Shuts NWAC Out of FPT Meeting with Indigenous Leaders; Ignores Expertise on Critical Gender-based Issues
NationTalk: OTTAWA – The federal Justice department has closed the door on Canada’s largest national Indigenous women’s organization when it meets with provincial and territorial ministers next week, effectively opting not to address Indigenous gender-based issues in any meaningful way.
Though Canada recognizes five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs), including the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), only some groups will have a seat at the table. Excluding NWAC from national discussions on justice issues is a significant rebuff to the organization that is the recognized expert on matters related to Indigenous women, girls, gender-diverse, two-spirit, and transgender people in Canada.
The people represented by NWAC face high rates of incarceration, violence, and abuse – all issues that should be central to any discussion of justice. Just yesterday, NWAC honoured the thousands of Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and girls who have gone missing or been murdered at its annual Sisters and Spirit vigil. NWAC is committed to holding Canada accountable to ending the genocide by answering the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 231 Calls to Justice.
NWAC anticipates those with seats at the table will discuss matters that directly impact the people it represents, such as implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, Indigenous policing, mandatory minimum sentences, overincarceration and the MMIWG genocide. Indigenous women and gender-diverse people are valued leaders, decision-makers and knowledge keepers in their families, communities, and governments. Without their perspective, government discussions are unlikely to consider gender-specific solutions to undoing systemic discrimination.
If NWAC does not hold a seat at the table, Canada’s promises of reconciliation and gender-based equality remain empty.
For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Gloria Galloway firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-447-6648
Pour obtenir plus d’information ou prendre des dispositions pour une interview, contacter:
Gloria Galloway, par courriel : email@example.com ou par téléphone: 613-447-6648
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 29, 2022
National chief says Canada’s reconciliation actions taking long road; 40 years away
Toronto Star: VICTORIA – The road to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada remains a long one, says Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who estimates it will take 40 years at the current pace to achieve the more than 90 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
It has been a process of two steps forward and one step back over the past year, Archibald said in an interview ahead of Friday’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The day was declared last year after hundreds of potential unmarked burial sites of Indigenous children were found by First Nations near former residential schools, including by the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc nation in Kamloops and Saskatchewan’s Cowessess First Nation.
The national chief was in Regina Thursday along with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon for a reconciliation ceremony at Mosaic Stadium and co-hosted by Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess.
“At that rate we’re going with the number of calls to action that have been actually implemented, it’s going to take 40 years to complete all the calls to action,” she said in an interview.
“That’s how slow the process has been,” said Archibald. “That’s kind of disheartening that we’re not moving faster. The Canadian government and all the partners that are mentioned in these calls to action are not moving as quickly as they could be.”
Making progress on the 94 calls to action is a subject of the federal government’s “relentless commitment” on reconciliation, Marc Miller, federal Crown-Indigenous relations minister, said Thursday in an interview. “It’s ongoing,” he said. “It’s incomplete. I’m not satisfied. I don’t think anyone is.”
Miller said many of the calls to action involve long-term investments, which the government is determined to achieve. “This isn’t an operation of ticking off boxes,” he said. “It has to have the relentless commitment of our government, particularly in light of the horrific discoveries in and around Kamloops, and really the impact that had on all Canadians, shocking their conscience and a re-examination of what it means to be Canadian.”
Miller said he’s heard others beyond Archibald say the process to achieve the calls to action could take many years, but many of the issues can’t be resolved in short periods of time. “We’ve heard from some people doing searches, for example, that it could take up to 10 years to get a full picture of what it is in and around those unmarked graves,” he said.
The 4,000-page report released in 2015 by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment at residential schools, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths at the institutions.
Archibald said there have been positive reconciliation steps this past year, but “we’ve had a couple of real steps backwards in relation to reconciliation.” She cited court cases over Indigenous rights to self-determination, self-government and jurisdiction over their children as examples of backtracking,but the recent establishment of an independent National Council on Truth and Reconciliation and the raising of the Survivors’ Flag on Parliament Hill were steps forward.
Archibald said the Pope’s visit to Canada last summer and his apology to residential school survivors “was very much appreciated by some survivors.”
But the progress toward addressing many of the calls to action remains slow, she said.
“The real, deeper issues under the TRC’s report have yet to be fulfilled. So, it’s as though governments are trying to find the, I guess, easiest to implement,” said Archibald. “I suppose it makes sense, but you know when it comes to systemic changes we need in Canada, we need those deeper issues looked at. We need some of the issues around justice and policing, all of those things to be actioned as well.”
Organizations monitoring reconciliation in Canada, including the completion of the 94 calls to action, report the resolution of up to 12 of the commission’s calls.
Indigenous Watchdog, a federally registered non-profit dedicated to monitoring and reporting on how reconciliation is advancing on the critical issues affecting the Indigenous world, reported 12 completed actions in August. The group also reported 35 per cent of the 94 calls to action have not been started or are currently stalled.
In June 2021, the First Nations-led Yellowhead Institute reported nine completed calls to action, including the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry and federal acknowledgment of Indigenous language rights.
Archibald said the National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a time for Canadians to pause and consider the history and reality of residential schools.
“It’s really an opportunity for reflection,” she said. “It’s a call to action for non-Indigenous peoples to do some basic things like get a copy of the summary of the TRC calls to action. It’s really worth it for non-Indigenous people to read that particular handout pamphlet.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.
September 14, 2021
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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.||
November 14, 2019
Opposition to Bill 132 “Better for people, Smarter for business Act, 2019”
First Nation leaders from across Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) have strongly opposed Bill 132 “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019”, as it seriously undermines the mining industry obligation to consult with First Nation communities. They have also rejected the disrespectful approach of this government of burying issues fundamental to First Nations in omnibus legislation and creating unreasonable timelines to undermine the right of our communities to adequately respond.”
NAN Chiefs have declared that the area designated by Ontario as the ‘Far North’ is subject to the James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5, and that development in these lands will not be unilaterally imposed. With respect to Bill 132, NAN looks to Ontario extend the time for consultation and accommodation in respect of the Bill and create a respectful process for engagement. NAN will also request that Ontario end the disrespectful legislative practice of burying issues important to First Nations in omnibus legislation completely unrelated to First Nation matters.
November 15, 2022
Premier Heather Stefanson Unveils Path to Fight Violent Crime, Strengthen Health Care, Grow Economy and Help Manitobans in Speech from the Throne
Indigenous Watchdog Comment:
The conclusion of the Speech from the Throne repeats all of the following priorities except “Advancing Reconciliation” which unfortunately does not inspire confidence that the Government of Manitoba is seriously committed to “significant efforts towards reconciliation” (as quoted from the Manitoba Speech from the Throne):
- Helping Make Our Communities Safer
- Helping Families Make Ends Meet
- Strengthening Health Care and Reducing Surgical and Diagnostic Backlogs Helping Make Manitoba More Competitive
- Helping Protect Our Environment, Climate and Parks
- Helping Build Stronger Communities
- Advancing Reconciliation
Each of the above sections warrants its own dedicated section in the Speech from the Throne except “Advancing Reconciliation” which is reduced to the following comments integrated within each of the other priorities:
Making Our Communities Safer:
- Homelessness: Our recent investment of $1.7 million in N’Dinawemak’s 24/7 shelter ensures that those in need have a safe, warm place to spend the night.
- Violence against women and girls, and incidence of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, continues to be a priority for our government. The first progress report and update to the gender-based violence framework will be released in the coming months.
Strengthening Health Care...
- Suicide crises are most acute within Indigenous communities.
- Building on our existing five-year roadmap for mental health, we will complete and implement a provincially-coordinated strategy for suicide prevention focusing on youth and at-risk communities.
- Our government is committed to collaborating with Indigenous communities and the federal government to bolster regional health care and mental health and addictions services.
Making Manitoba More competitive
- Economic reconciliation, key to building a stronger province for everyone, will continue with Indigenous Peoples by removing barriers to full participation in Manitoba’s economy, ensuring access to education and training, and revenue sharing.
NationTalk: The 2022 speech from the throne, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville at the opening of the fifth session of the 42nd legislature, is setting a course toward greater health, and prosperity for Manitobans with a series of commitments to make communities stronger, safer and more affordable, Premier Heather Stefanson said today.
“Our government is focused on making our neighbourhoods safe places to raise families, building a strong and sustainable health-care system and helping make life more affordable for all Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “We are listening to Manitobans, taking action on their priorities and getting things done for the benefit of all Manitobans. We are committed to finding even more measures that will help Manitobans cope with global inflation from rising prices and carbon taxes.”
The speech outlined a series of initiatives that will be implemented to strengthen the province’s health-care infrastructure and take aim at violent criminal behaviour while supporting efforts to tackle mental health, homelessness and addiction issues including:
- increasing supports for front-line law enforcement officers through investments in technology, specialized training, enhanced police presence and support for more officers;
- making an unprecedented investment in Winnipeg hospitals to ensure Manitobans get the best care possible in the most modern facilities with a multi-year, multi-billion dollar capital investment;
- providing financial support for up to 1,000 addictions treatment spaces;
- reopening the Communities Economic Development Fund’s business loan program to support key sectors of a growing northern economy;
- financially stabilizing Manitoba Hydro as a Crown corporation so it can continue to provide clean hydroelectric power for Manitoba residents and businesses at among the lowest rates in the country into the future;
- protecting students by establishing a teacher registry and an independent body to improve accountability and transparency related to educator misconduct in kindergarten to Grade 12 schools;
- modernizing the waste diversion and recycling framework to divert more materials from landfills and create new business and job opportunities within a circular economy;
- helping ranchers recover from climate-change driven droughts and floods by implementing a temporary rent reduction on agricultural Crown lands from 2023 to 2025;
- continuing efforts to reduce red tape through regulation reform and modernization; and
- revitalizing the Conservation Officer Service by hiring more officers and providing better equipment and technology to combat dangerous activities such as poaching, night hunting and road hunting.
“This throne speech is a roadmap to a more prosperous future, building a province where its government helps make communities safer, healthier and stronger and its citizens and communities more competitive,” said Stefanson. “It is a course that is guided by listening to Manitobans and advancing reconciliation, protecting our environment and helping families make ends meet.”
To read the speech from the throne, visit www.manitoba.ca/thronespeech.
– 30 –
For more information:
- Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
- Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.
December 4, 2018
Rejection of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework
AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, Resolution # 25 / 2018 “Rejection of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and Associated Processes.
The Framework and associated processes undermine the true Nation-to-Nation relationship between First Nations and Canada:
Reasons for rejection:
- Openly reject Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a guiding principle of the relationship between Canada and First Nations. This is made evident by Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (Ten Principles) document which states that Canada will only attempt to honour FPIC. This amounts to little more than consultation.
- Call for the infringement of inherent and unextinguished rights and jurisdictions of First Nations. The Ten Principles document clearly states that infringement of Aboriginal rights will continue unabated in situations where Canadian courts find it “justified” or where it is found to be in the best interest of the nation.
- Assert that the Canadian constitutional framework is the only vehicle for the exercise of inherent rights by First Nations.
- Confirm that only First Nations can determine the path to decolonization.
Reject Canada’s Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (Ten Principles) as the basis of the relationship going forward. Joint principles of understanding must be developed in partnership with First Nations and be enshrined in a new Royal Proclamation.
- Reject the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework (the Framework) and will take all necessary steps to prevent the passing of any legislation related to the Framework created by the federal government. There have been no meaningful changes to the Framework process since it was announced in February 2018, despite widespread criticism and outright rejection from First Nations across the country. Unilaterally developed policy and legislation that sets the parameters of Canada’s relationship with First Nations is in direct contravention of the nation-to-nation relationship and Canada’s obligations under international law.
- Call on the Assembly of First Nations to support First Nations in developing their own nation-building processes, including law-making, institution-building, and research of traditional governance systems. It is imperative that First Nations begin developing standards of governance and law-making and begin to assert their inherent rights and unextinguished jurisdictions outside the purview of Canadian legislative control.
December 5, 2022
Report finds Indigenous N.W.T. employees largely working entry level jobs
CBC News: Recently released data from the N.W.T government indicates that Indigenous employees in the public service are still largely confined to entry-level positions.
On Nov. 15, the territory released Indigenous Employment Plans for each of its 11 departments and 13 agencies to the public. The plans are part of its ongoing push to boost the recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees.
Each plan includes a department-specific breakdown of Indigenous employee ratios by job classification. They also lay out hiring targets for the next two years, four years, and six years, and strategies to increase those targets by rooting out racism and bias in staffing processes.
Looking at the data, it’s clear that there’s less and less Indigenous representation the further up the public service employment ladder you go. So, what gives?
Deh Cho MLA Ronald Bonnetrouge, for one, thinks the territory’s education system is to blame.
“There’s barriers for our people moving up,” he said. “We’re going to get stuck because we don’t have university or college, or public administration [experience]. And many of our people can’t get in there because of the poor quality of education to begin with.”
‘Lackadaisical’ education a big problem in smaller communities, says Deh Cho MLA
The new numbers seem to back Bonnetrouge’s claims.
Take the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, the biggest employer in the territorial government, as an example. As of March 2022, of its 1,434 employees 297 identified as Indigenous — around 15 per cent. The authority has set targets to expand overall representation by 25 per cent in two years, and 39 per cent in six years.
Break the numbers down further by job classification, and the gap grows.
About 38.5 per cent of those Indigenous employees are working in positions requiring high school equivalencies or less. That’s compared to 20 per cent occupying positions requiring a college or trade equivalency, and 11.6 per cent in positions requiring a university equivalency. Meanwhile, Indigenous employees hold only 8.8 per cent of middle management positions, and 9.1 per cent of senior management positions.
This trend is replicated across nearly every department of the N.W.T. government, with some exceptions.
Speaking with CBC News on Friday, Bonnetrouge said these discrepancies are evidence of the territory’s “lackadaisical” education system. “I’m not afraid to call it that,” he said.
Bonnetrouge — who lives in Fort Providence — said youth from his community often have to travel south for upgrading before they can even attend college or university. He said that the curriculum used is “very limited” and hinders kids from following specialized career paths, such as science or math.
He says the territorial government is not doing enough to address the problem.
“They’re trying to just wash it aside, saying everything is hunky-dory, our education is world class,” Bonnetrouge said. “And I’m scratching my head saying, ‘Well, what is world class in our education system?’
“This is what our leaders have said in the past: we want good education for our children, for them to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, teachers and such. That speaks volumes about what we expect of the education system in our small communities.”
Education Minister R.J. Simpson was not immediately available for comment, but the shortcomings of education in the territory have been well-documented over the years.
A report prepared by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment in early 2022 shows that in the 2020-21 school year, 45 per cent of students in smaller communities graduated high school on time (within six years), while 74 per cent of students in Yellowknife graduated on-time.
Likewise, only 49 per cent of Indigenous students that year graduated on-time, compared to 81 per cent of non-Indigenous students.
On-the-job training, summer student opportunities possible solutions
Bonnetrouge is also not the first person to connect the N.W.T. education system with a lack of Indigenous representation in the public service. Chief Danny Gaudet of Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government made similar comments during a meeting of the territory’s standing committee on government operations last month.
“We really need to have a real serious conversation about education, because I think in the end, if you work for the public sector, a big chunk of it is you have to have an education,” Gaudet said at the time, adding that education in his community was “weak.”
Gaudet also said he was well-supported back when he used to work for the N.W.T. government. He said there were “a lot” of programs to train people on the job, including helping people get into courses to get their diplomas, certificates or even degrees to be qualified for various government jobs.
“I don’t think you support [employees] like you used to,” he told the government committee.
Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North, chairs that committee. He agrees with Bonnetrouge and Gaudet that education is “no doubt the larger systemic barrier” facing Indigenous candidates.
“We need to be graduating more high school graduates and more post-secondary graduates in order to make up that labour force, and I think, as with many of our social issues, education is the key solution,” he said.
Johnson said the committee has spent the last several months travelling to communities and holding public hearings about ways to increase Indigenous representation in the public service.
In terms of more immediate solutions, he said many communities demanded more flexibility around hiring requirements for certain jobs with the appropriate on-the-job training to back it up, and expanding its summer student program within smaller communities.
“A lot of the programs existed in the GNWT, the mentorship and management training programs for Indigenous employees, but they just weren’t being utilized and they weren’t really being promoted,” Johnson said.
“So that I think is starting to change, and a pretty clear direction has been given to make sure all of those programs are being fully taken advantage of and being promoted to all Indigenous employees.”
October 26, 2021
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.
October 27, 2022
Saskatchewan Office of the Treaty Commissioner says throne speech offends treaty rights
The Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan responded to the 2022 throne speech on Thursday, saying its contents do not work for everyone and offends the treaty and inherent rights of Indigenous people.
“While the Office of the Treaty Commissioner welcomes programs and initiatives with Indigenous communities on health, education, and community policing among others, there remains an ongoing concern on a lack of true engagement and actions,” the Office of the Treaty Commissioner stated in their release.
They say that Scott Moe’s White Paper and The Saskatchewan First Act do not consider First Nations access to provincial resources.
“While talking about having provincial jurisdiction over resources there continues to be no consideration to the impacts of implementing these measures to First Nation inherent rights to access those resources,” they say.
During the throne speech, Scott Moe said, “These measures are about removing barriers to unlock Saskatchewan’s incredible economic potential. We have everything the world needs — food, fuel, fertilizer and an ambitious and talented workforce. We just need to remove the barriers that are preventing us from sustainably developing our resources to their full potential and exporting them to markets around the world where they are needed.”
The constituents of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples states that the government must cooperate with First nations and obtain prior, informed consent in order to adopt and implement measures that may affect them.
“Complete disregard of obligations and infringement of Treaty is not in the best interest of Treaty rights holders, citizens, governments or industry,” said the treaty commissioner.
“First Nations hold inherent rights to the land and natural resources of Canada. They are not stakeholder groups, they are to be co-decisionmakers and acts such as these need to be written collaboratively taking a holistic view of socio, environmental and cultural issues, not just impacts to the economy.”
The Office of the Treaty commissioner places responsibility upon the Crown to uphold treaties and has submitted formal correspondence to the Government of Saskatchewan to further discuss.
Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan government but did not hear back before publication.
November 15, 2022
Study reveals 99%+ of Indigenous people surveyed in BC have faced discrimination when using their Indian status card
NationTalk: (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – Indian status card holders face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis when presenting them at stores or to officials, according to a landmark study commissioned by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
The full report is titled “They Sigh or Give You the Look: Discrimination and Status Card Usage” and was prepared using a comprehensive methodology to inform recommendations for government, businesses, and the media.
The decision to commission the study stemmed from the unlawful arrest and detention of Maxwell Johnson when he and his granddaughter presented their federal status cards to open a bank account.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “Status cards have long been the prime catalyst for the public expression of ongoing racism and stereotyping of Indigenous peoples. The media and schools have failed to educate people on the history of status cards and why First Nations peoples have them. These results will help us to begin educating Canada so that no grandfather and no granddaughter need ever suffer violence when lawfully going about their business.”
The findings show discrimination is a near-universal experience amongst status First Nations individuals who have used their status card. This experience is traumatic, particularly for those experiencing other compounding and overlapping forms of oppression, and shapes people’s behaviour for a lifetime.
The report also underlines the ways that traditional and social media portray status card usage as a platform for anti-Indigenous racism.
“I will never forget being handcuffed and seeing my grand-daughter standing on the street, crying and handcuffed,” stated Maxwell Johnson. “She was 12 years old, and we were just trying to open a bank account for her. We both have to live with this trauma and the fears caused by it including what could happen the next time we show our Indian status cards. UBCIC’s report is an important step forward to revealing the discrimination Indigenous peoples experience every day. I want to see governments and businesses step up to learn, educate, and eliminate this kind of discrimination.”
“The burden of educating people on status cards is unjustly on First Nations people when the government has been negligent in providing the proper and relevant resources to educate public service workers and the public about the legality and legitimacy of status cards as government-issued identification,” stated Chief Marilyn Slett, Heiltsuk Nation. “The end result is unacceptable and traumatizing incidents like those of Mr. Johnson and Tori-Anne who merely wanted to do some banking.”
“Using a literature review, media analysis, online survey, and behavioural fieldwork, the study uncovered a near-universal experience of discrimination amongst status First Nations who have used a status card,” said Harmony Johnson, the report’s author, “Although this is an issue we all know about, there were no existing studies available. That excuse no longer exists.”
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information:
- Please visit ubcic.bc.ca
- The Johnson family and Heiltsuk Nation’s fight against systemic racism includes the Strong as Cedar campaign (strongascedar.ca) which empowers Indigenous people and communities of colour to fight racism in Canada by sharing and gathering stories and highlighting solutions for change.
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
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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.
August 30, 2022
The political relationship between First Nations and the Government of Quebec needs to be fixed: Québec 2022 election
WENDAKE, QC, Aug. 30, 2022 – With the election campaign now underway, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) would like to remind political parties and their leaders that the priority issues of First Nations have too often been absent and ignored during provincial election campaigns.
The political relationship between First Nations Governments and the Government of Quebec is in dire need of inspiration. Among its priorities, the AFNQL is asking of the next government to make a committment to the holding of a special parliamentary commission of the National Assembly which will allow for a real dialogue between the elected representatives of Quebec and those of the ten (10) Nations in Quebec can take place.
“It is clear that First Nations issues, across the country, occupy an unprecedented place, except in Quebec, where successive governments have developed a culture of procrastination by handing over the responsibility of providing responses to our demands,” recalls Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL. “The fundamental rights of First Nations can no longer be ignored. It is time to develop a relationship marked with respect, without the Government of Quebec imposing its conditions on our governments. The self-determination of our peoples must be the starting point,” continues Chef Picard.
The AFNQL would also like to highlight the number of Indigenous candidates who are challenging the status quo and bring about a wind of change in a process that is not used to being confronted with the Indigenous context. “I would like to acknowledge and welcome the courage of candidates from our Nations. Their courage will be necessary for the province of Quebec which responds well to tragedies but falls short when it comes to proposing measures to provide lasting solutions,” added Chief Picard. The AFNQL would like to remind everyone that it will be present and will keep a close watch throughout the campaign to ensure that the priorities of the First Nations have the place they deserve in the public space.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together the 43 chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
For further information: Marie Celine Einish, Communications Advisor, AFNQL, email@example.com, C: 438-522-4642
July 26, 2019
Fed. Govt., NT, NU, YT
Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic
Failure to take a leadership role in positioning the Canadian arctic for success in a rapidly evolving arctic political landscape. “As the effects of climate change increase access to the Arctic, the global geopolitical context for the region is changing. With enormous untapped opportunities for shipping, research and resource development, many countries are looking to pursue their own national interests in the region, including economic and security interests.
Canada has no guarantee that the interests of these other state actors coincide with its own interests and priorities. Nor can we be certain that existing rules, agreements and international institutions are still up to the task of reconciling and settling competing interests in the Arctic space – in what is effectively Canada’s own backyard.” Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic”.
Keynote Vision Address: Bob Mcleod
Premier Bob Mcleod of the Northwest Territories believes our national plan needs to be built on three elements:
- leveraging the geographic advantage represented by the three territories
- ramping up Canada’s northern presence, and
- increasing Canada’s knowledge about the north.
He also thinks it is important that the residents of Canada’s three Northern territories, including its Indigenous residents… have a leading say in determining Canada’s plan for the Arctic. We are the ones who live there. We are the ones who are repeatedly affected when decisions are made for us, rather than with us. We are an obvious partner when discussions about what happens next take place.
Considering that the Canadian Arctic links across the Arctic Ocean to Russia, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the United States, we should be the major player with the ability to decisively set the terms for the Arctic — but only if we make a concerted and deliberate effort to build on the advantages we already have in our three Northern territories.
July 9, 2019
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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
AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT
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.
June 30, 2022
Tŝilhqot’in Nation Condemns Destructive B.C. Moose Harvest Allocation
Williams Lake, B.C.: The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is condemning the B.C. government’s destructive moose harvest allocation for the Chilcotin Region in recent days and expressing its opposition, in the strongest terms, to B.C.’s drastic escalation of Limited Entry Hunts (LEH) for moose in Tŝilhqot’in territory.
Tŝilhqot’in people depend on moose for sustenance and cultural survival. For many years, Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members have reported struggling moose populations, and not enough moose to feed our families and communities. Many members have chosen not to hunt moose for the past several years, out of concern for the survival of moose populations.
The Province’s own surveys show the moose population in the Chilcotin at its lowest point on record. Instead of raising the alarm, the Province has now drastically increased the LEH for moose – effectively doubling the number of moose LEH permits issued in the Chilcotin region compared to last year.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation opposes LEH moose hunting in the territory, given the lowest population estimates on record and the devastating impacts on habitat in recent years from unprecedented wildfires, beetle epidemics, wide-scale industrial logging and increased predation and competition with other species.
BC’s decision to increase the LEH in Tŝilhqot’in territory disrespects and disregards the traditional knowledge of Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members, and violates the Aboriginal rights and title of the Tŝilhqot’in peoples, and our international human rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has a duty and responsibility under Tŝilhqot’in law to prevent the destruction of the moose population in our territory. Tŝilhqot’in leaders are meeting together and with membership to decide next steps in response to B.C.’s decision and the direct threat that it poses to the wellbeing of Tŝilhqot’in families and communities, and the survival of the Tŝilhqot’in way of life.
Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, O.B.C, Tŝilhqot’in National Government
“We have to take action on this issue. Mismanagement of our wildlife affects us directly. The 2017 wildfires left much of our wildlife stressed from the destruction of their habitat. Our people rely heavily on the moose populations. The province needs to do more – a business as usual approach will not be tolerated. We do not recognize the authority of any government to make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections – and mismanage our lands and wildlife. We have fought to maintain jurisdiction over our territory, and there is a blatant disregard for that when it comes to the management of wildlife. B.C. needs to start acting to protect and preserve these populations. Our people are not going to sit and watch moose disappear in the territory like we have witnessed with the caribou. Hunters that planned to come to the Chilcotin need to be making other plans – don’t come to the Chilcotin.”
Nits’ilʔin Otis Guichon, Sr., Tŝideldel First Nation, TNG Tribal Vice-Chair
“Our people are living with crisis upon crisis. Our salmon runs have collapsed to record lows and for the first time our people have had to choose not to fish for food in recent years. Our members are not getting the moose they need to feed their families. Our caribou populations are threatened and at risk of extinction in our lifetime. These are decisions that affect whether we can put food on our tables for our elders and our communities. This B.C. government continues to talk about UNDRIP and reconciliation, but they continue to ignore and disrespect us, and make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections, and mismanage our lands and wildlife to the state that they are in now. Our people will not stand for it. The BC Government should be ashamed of this decision”
November 18, 2021
BC, Fed. Govt.
Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests
Toronto Star – Fifteen people, including Indigenous elders, media and legal observers, had been arrested by the afternoon, according to Jennifer Wickham, a spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs and their supporters. Wickham stressed they had been acting peacefully.
Wickham said armed RCMP officers in tactical gear with canine units and heavy machinery moved into the Gidimt’en blockade at the 44-kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road, using a vehicle and other obstacles to block the road. The blockade had been in place since Sunday after being set up by members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. They described the blockade as an effort to enforce an “eviction notice” on the company that the nation had first issued last year.
Wickham said Thursday the memorandum of understanding was meant to work toward agreements on Wet’suwet’en rights and titles; it did not include consent to the pipeline. She said pipeline opponents largely stepped back from protests due to the pandemic and to see how the talks progressed.
But they have not gone anywhere, she said.
February 6, 2020
BC, Fed. Govt.
Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests
Union of BC Indian Chiefs – RCMP began aggressively raiding Wet’suwet’en traditional and unceded territories under the watch of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC concluded “Using armed force to take Indigenous peoples off their unceded and traditional territories against their will is not reconciliation, it is colonialism in all of its ugliness and hypocrisy.
January 6, 2020
BC, Fed. Govt.
Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests
Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church’s decision granting an interlocutory injunction, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), and have issued and enforced an eviction of CGL’s workers from the territory.
“Canada and the B.C. government have both pledged to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but are trying to impose their laws over Wet’suwet’en laws. If this was really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada’s own courts. The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same. There is no reconciliation in the actions that unfolded yesterday.” AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde
January 10, 2019
BC, Fed. Govt.
Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLink protests
What happens when you engage Hereditary Chiefs in the Process vs excluding them?
Union of BC Indian Chiefs – “There are not a lot of similarities between the Broughton and the Unist’ot’en engagement with the Province (as stated by Premier John Horgan). In June, government-to-government work between our three Nations and the Province was confirmed in a letter of understanding (LOU) formalizing ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago. Importantly, this was a jointly developed consent-based process where our Title and Rights were recognized and as a result, we included our hereditary leadership in decision-making on outcomes.
That’s an extremely important distinction because for us, that’s how we respected Delgamuukw and the wishes of our people. The Province also followed its own decision-making process. There was space in the process to revisit any Tenure decisions that weren’t jointly accepted. I’m confident that we would not have reached a point of RCMP action at Gitimd’en if a jointly designed, consent-based process had been in place.” Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation
October 15, 2020
BC, Fed. Govt.
Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink
Union of BC Indian Chiefs – Coastal GasLink called in the RCMP to remove a group of Wet’suwet’en women and community members who are holding ceremony at a proposed drill site for Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline. UBCIC stands in solidarity with the Indigenous land defenders who are protecting the Wedzin Kwa, the river that sustains and gives life to their Nation, from test drilling. These land defenders are lawfully exercising their right to steward their unceded territories and strengthen their cultural ties to their lands through the sacred responsibility of prayer, smudging, and ceremony.
The presence of the RCMP and the threat they represent – surveillance, intimidation, arrest, discrimination, and violence – undermines the authority and self-determination of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands.
Given the forthcoming provincial election and renewed statements from political leaders regarding the importance of reconciliation and advancing Indigenous relations, it is worrisome that systemic violations of fundamental Indigenous and human rights continue to occur over major energy projects such as the CGL pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of additional challenges First Nations are facing, the Province can no longer afford to deem industrial projects like the CGL pipeline and the TMX as essential services and adopt a “business as usual” approach. The health and safety of Indigenous communities must be prioritized.
Indigenous land defenders and community members cannot be criminalized and targeted for asserting their Title and Rights and conducting