Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

February 15, 2024

First Nations

Remembering Mona Hardy: A Legacy of Activism and Advocacy

INationTalk: t is with a heavy heart that the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) shares the passing of our dear friend Mona Hardy. Mona’s life was driven by sharp humour, activism, and advocacy. She was a woman who dedicated her life to giving and fighting for marginalized and forgotten people. As a proud trans-woman, she was always ahead of her time in addressing the rights of the Trans-community and Two-Spirit peoples.

In Mona’s recently released memoire Lost Between the Cracks she openly shares her heart, love of community, and life path.

“…here I am. Some say victim, some say survivor, I say I’m Mona.”

Mona’s life was a tapestry of courage, resilience, and unwavering determination, inspiring countless others to find their voice and take up their leadership. Mona’s journey was one of challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs. She overcame adversity and discrimination, refusing to be defined by limitations others tried to impose on her.

Mona’s life shaped her into a warrior, a fearless leader who fought tirelessly for Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people’s rights. Her unwavering commitment to social justice and her infectious spirit ignited a fire in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to spend time with her. Her ability to empower others to challenge oppression and demand change will live on in those folks who received her gift, and they too will pass that to the next generation.

Mona led a support group for Trans and Two-Spirit people through the Northwest Community Health Centre. She volunteered for many agencies and institutions; she was also a member of ONWA’s provincial advisory committee for the Anti-Human Trafficking programs and a strong advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit people.

Mona’s guidance was fundamental in the development of ONWA’s Journey to Safe SPACES Report. The report was based on extensive engagement with over 3,360 community members and the ongoing relationship with 250 self-identified human trafficking Survivors who have shared their stories.

The report resulted in 14 recommendations to address Human Trafficking. The Province of Ontario used this report to guide the development of the second Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, which is now the largest in Canada. Mona was also incredibly supportive as ONWA created several of our other programs that collaborate with trafficked Survivors.

Mona’s values were grounded in giving and helping others, “Before people managed without money. They managed with community. They helped each other; they built together as a community.” Mona’s experience and love was open to the wider world she travelled and lived in.

“That little girl I used to be would be proud of me, too, and perhaps that is most important.”

Mona, you will be extremely missed, and your legacy will carry on for generations to come. Your selfless life’s work embodies Creator’s way, may he hold you close on your journey to the stars.

Mona leaves behind a legacy of transformative impact and a world that is more compassionate because of her efforts.

Sending condolences to her family, friends, and community.

The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)

August 4, 2023

Odawa welcomes couple on walk across Canada for missing and murdered Indigenous people 


Charity and Cameron West with staff and supporters at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre in Ottawa on Friday. Photo: Kierstin Williams/APTN. 

APTN News: A couple from Prince George, B.C. who are on a walk across Canada were welcomed by a group of supporters from the Odawa Friendship Centre in Ottawa on Friday.

Charity West, a member of the Kwadacha Nation and Cameron West, a member of Lake Babine Nation, have been walking 40 kilometers a day beginning May in Alberta to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and men.

Their goals are to raise media coverage, open the conversation to non-Indigenous people, and leave a better Canada for the seventh generation.

“We aren’t walking for ourselves, we are walking for children. We’re walking for their children and their children. So, for me, personally, I don’t think this walk is for us, is for them,” says Cameron.

The couple lives along the Highway of Tears, a 720-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 where the RCMP say 18 women and girls have reportedly gone missing or have been murdered.

The final report of the National Inquiry of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other demographic in Canada.

Both Charity and Cameron have lost family members. The father of Charity’s son, Barry Blaine Thomas Seymour, has been missing from Prince George since May 2012 and he has not yet been found.

Five years ago, Cameron’s 18-year-old cousin, Jessica Patrick, was murdered. Cameron says her body was found outside of Smithers, B.C., after searchers noticed birds circling an object. The case remains unsolved.

Charity and Cameron West speak to supporters at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. Photo: Kierstin Williams/APTN.

“There really needs to be a change. Like we have so many people that we’ve lost personally within our families,” says Charity.

“It’s not right that this is such a regular occurrence within our Indigenous community this can’t continue to happen. This has to stop.”

Not just a walk 

The Odawa Friendship Centre is helping to support the couple with gas, a good rest, and supplies to help them continue their cross-country walk.

Donna Hester, an intergenerational trauma program manager at Odawa says their journey is not just a walk, it is important healing work.

“It promotes that awareness and education understanding and it brings those issues out into the forefront,” says Hestor.  “Even though it’s a cause that comes from a place of trauma of what we all experience, I believe that coming together in situations like this is also healing.”

The couple expects to arrive in St. Johns., Newfoundland and Labrador in October. Then they will begin their walk home which includes the 720-kilometre-long Highway of Tears from Prince Rupert to Prince George.

June 23, 2023

First Nations

Thunder Bay supports couple’s walk across Canada to bring awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous people

Community gathered in hopes of gathering more attention to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples

A couple is wrapped in blankets gifted from NAN while standing beside Anna Betty Achneepineskum.
Charity and Cameron West stand with Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum while wrapped in blankets gifted from Nishnawbae Aski Nation (Sara Kae/CBC)

CBC News: The hot June sun beats down on the group of individuals trying their best to huddle for shade under the pine tree that stands tall above them. 

They’re elders, hand-drummers, and community members gathering for a small ceremony at the Terry Fox monument off of the Trans-Canada Highway in Thunder Bay, Ont. They are here to show support for Charity and Cameron West who are walking across Canada for awareness of murdered and missing Indigenous peoples across the nation.

They began their journey in May, after Charity and Cameron left their home in Prince George, B.C., deciding to set out on their walk on a Sunday, and leaving just a few days later. 

Charity is walking in honour of Barry Seymour, her son’s father who went missing in 2012 after visiting their son for his ninth birthday. She walks in honour of him, in hopes of gaining attention to the growing issue in Canada. Although, this is one story of many, Charity said.  “We haven’t only lost just like Barry… Cameron’s lost a cousin. I’ve lost multiple cousins, multiple family members,” Charity said.  

The couple switch out every five kilometres while the other drives behind them in a dark blue Ford truck, for a total of approximately 50 kilometres a day.  The truck following behind is filled with colourful painted handprints from allies across Canada. They have big flags attached to the box of the truck and a sign with “walker ahead” in big white letters is on the back, warning oncoming traffic of their presence. 

A group of people gather around a blue truck that is decorated in support of Missing and Murdered Indigenous people in Canada.
Everyone gathers for a photo before they continue their walk down the Trans-Canada highway going East. (Sara Kae/CBC )

The support they receive is what keeps them motivated to continue their journey, Cameron said and they feel honoured to hear from people who have similar stories to theirs, advocating for the importance of the walk.  “We have a lot of thoughts going through our heads. Sometimes, we even doubt ourselves… and then at the end of the day, you see all the messages, and all the comments, and people encouraging us to not stop,” Cameron said. 

Important to the community 

With the help of the hand-drummers and elders, everyone stood around the two, with tobacco in hand and positive affirmations and  prayers being spoken in support of them and their travels. 

Deputy Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anna Betty Achneepineskum was present to assist in sending off the couple on the rest of their 3,710 km journey to St.John’s, Newfoundland where their walk will conclude.  The support of a walk, like the West couple is on, is critical to Thunder Bay and its surrounding regions, said Achneepineskum. 

“We have a lot of cold cases involving First Nation citizens. We need to work together to address those and also, to prevent,” Achneepineskum said.    Last year, a report from an investigative team looking into sudden death cases in Thunder Bay involving Indigenous people recommended 14 cases be reinvestigated. In addition, there are 25 unresolved missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls cases from Thunder Bay that the report recommends being reviewed. 

Police Office printing his handprint on the back of the truck.
Members of the Thunder Bay Police were in attendance printing their hands in support of murdered and missing Indigenous people. (Sara Kae/CBC)

Achneepineskum made recommendations of what is needed to better combat the ongoing issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. “There has to be more resources from police services,” she said.  She also suggests that the courts and those within the justice system hold themselves accountable to what they have contributed to the injustices against Indigenous peoples. 

For the next generation

The walk strikes importance for individuals of all ages.  Kirsta Goodman of Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek First Nation works for Nishnawbe Aski Nation in the reclamation and healing department  as a summer student. She, along with her friend, walked in support of the missing and murdered. 

Goodman believes this is her duty as a young Anishnawbe woman.  “It’s my duty to attend these types of things… This is how we change the future,” she said.  She found unity in everyone from different walks of life printing their painted hands on the truck that will follow behind the West couple on the remainder of their journey. 


Sara Kae, Reporter

Sara Kae is an Ojibway/Cree reporter of Lake Helen First Nation based in Thunder Bay, Ont. She covers stories that highlight Indigenous voices with a special focus on arts and culture

May 11, 2023

First Nations

‘This is a call to action’: Sault student Nevaeh Pine’s speech outlining plight of missing, murdered Indigenous women wins national honours

Grade 11 White Pines Collegiate & Vocational School student tops Speaker’s Idol 2023 category 

Nevaeh Pine, a Grade 11 White Pines Collegiate and Vocational School student, delivers her speech virtually for Speaker’s Idol 2023. Screenshot

NationTalk: Nevaeh Pine’s passion for illuminating the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada was trumpeted loud and clear – judges heard, understood, appreciated and  applauded.

Pine, a Grade 11 White Pines Collegiate & Vocational School student, finished first Wednesday in a secondary panel of Speaker’s Idol 2023. “I am five times more likely to go missing than other women and girls. I am 16 years old. I am Indigenous,” Pine said in her speech, delivered virtually in the annual student public-speaking competition hosted by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

In introducing her address, Pine called herself an “advocate” for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Canada. “I joined Speaker’s Idol because I believe in our human rights,” Pine said. “And I believe that we need to ensure that our human rights are protected.”

Pine, joining 11 other students from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, said the issue of missing women in Canada is as “old as Canada itself.”

“It has been called the hidden human rights crisis and national tragedy,” she said in her speech, but one that has had scant attention paid to it. “If I went missing, would you look for me? Would you see my face all over the news? Would you care?” she said. “Would you demand to know what happened to that girl? ‘Have they found her?’ you might be wondering? Why is the girl so worried about disappearing?”

Pine placed second last year, competing in the finalist round. This year’s competition included two rounds – the first featuring six students in grades 6-8, the second consisting of six students in grades 9-12 – in which participants spoke before a panel of judges, who determined the best speech from each round. Finalists were chosen from more than 200 students across Canada.

This year, students based speeches on Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s quote, “I believe that there is no other solution than to constantly engage with the past and to learn from it.”

Pine said Indigenous women and communities have long called out for help, but pleas were “ignored” by the federal government until, “finally,” in 2016, a federal inquiry was launched. But most families, she said, are still waiting for answers on “countless” unsolved cases. “We are the most targeted and the least seen by media and law enforcement,” Pine said. “If there can be reconciliation of the past, it consists of the retelling of what happened and recognizing and challenging systemic racism and discrimination. Silence is your compliance. This is a call to action.

“These woman are someone’s mother, someone’s daughter. These woman are someone.”

Pine wrote her speech, which she delivered Wednesday by memorization, at 12. Naturally, it’s been revamped with time and experience. “It grew each time I got new information or new statistics … I would change it up,” Pine told the Sault Star in a phone interview Thursday.

Pine, chair of the Northern Indigenous Youth Council  and Indigenous student trustee for Algoma District School Board, said the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been sadly lacking in schools. “It wasn’t your everyday topic, and it’s something that needs to be an everyday topic because it’s such an ongoing issue on our people,” said Pine, who, along with talking, takes action. Last year at this time, she organized an assembly at her school, which involved the entire student population and featured speakers and presentations.

“Action and education … educating everybody on this topic and having it known and made aware (is essential),” Pine said.

“Safety for our women and Indigenous People is really important because we’re overrepresented in the systems and, like I said in my speech, the most targeted and the least seen,” said Pine, who is eying a career in law, specializing in human rights. “People have always mentioned that to me, especially because I started advocating so young. I got to explore the topic and I fell in love.”

The Garden River First Nation member credits her mother for helping ignite such passion on the topic, taking her daughter to the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse for events marking National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and other such ceremonies.

Family was also invaluable for speech preparation. “A ton of practice every day … (in front of ) my mirror, my mom. She’s my biggest supporter,” Pine said.

The Wednesday event was hosted by television and radio personality Rick Campanelli and judged by lawyer and public policy expert Annamie Paul, litigation lawyer Matthew Gottlieb and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Toni Zhong. Paul said Pine’s speech “is something that will stay with me for a very long time.” “Your language and your passion and your wisdom were extremely clear,” Paul said.

Zhong said she had “goosebumps” listening to Pine’s delivery. “I’m not sure that I actually breathed while listening to your speech, it was so moving so powerful. Any of these lines that were in your speech would be enough to complete its own speech. But you put them all together.”

Zhong applauded Pine’s concluding statement: “No one asks to disappear.” “These are all simple, simple truths but, yet, told in such a poignant way,” Zhong said. “This is a topic that most of us know about, but you’re absolutely right. (Doing) something about this once a year is not enough. We need to all do more.”

Author of the article

Jeffrey Ougler:, On Twitter: @JeffreyOugler

May 8, 2023

First Nations

Moose Hide Campaign Day addresses reconciliation and gender-based violence

NationTalk: VICTORIA, BC – The Moose Hide Campaign, an Indigenous-led grassroots movement aimed at reconciliation and ending gender-based violence, is holding its 12th annual day of ceremony, fasting and action on Thursday, May 11, 2023.

This year, Moose Hide Campaign Day includes keynote addresses from Raven Lacerte, co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, Dominic Paul, Campaign National Ambassador, and Brandi Morin, an award-winning journalist, storyteller, and passionate advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-spirit plus people as well as Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, OC, OBC of Reconciliation Canada.

In addition to the workshops, ceremony, and celebration on Campaign Day, people are encouraged to fast from sunrise to sunset to show their support and deepen their personal commitment to be part of the solution to ending gender-based violence. Walks and other events will be taking place in schools and communities across the country.

“Although we are an Indigenous-led organization, it is a shared responsibility of all Canadians to step up to foster positive change through meaningful dialogue and action. It starts by shining a light on the issue and then helping Canadians understand how they can get involved to end gender-based violence and advance truth and reconciliation in Canada,” says Raven Lacerte.

The Moose Hide Campaign is represented by a simple square of moose hide worn on the lapels of so many Canadians, including students, business and political leaders and others who have joined the cause to end violence against women and children.

In many Indigenous cultures, moose hide is considered good medicine. The moose hide pin is offered as a medicine for a social illness impacting all Canadians – domestic and gender-based violence against women and children, and particularly Indigenous women and children. Each pin sparks about five conversations around gender-based violence.

Last month, the Campaign presented its four millionth pin to Senator Michèle Audette, one of the commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

At the pin ceremony, Senator Audette spoke about the importance of men and boys being part of the solution to ending gender-based violence. She acknowledged progress is being made, but more action and change needs to happen.

The Moose Hide Campaign also gives Canadians, who are looking to participate in the nation’s journey of reconciliation, an accessible and important path forward and an opportunity to help stop violence in our communities once and for all.

“Part of our journey to create a safer Canada for all women and children is recognizing this isn’t an issue that women should tackle alone.  We’re calling upon all Canadians, including men, to join this movement and it also starts with a commitment to raising children to know what love is,” says Sage Lacerte, Campaign National Ambassador.How to get involved

On May 11th, the Moose Hide Campaign wants Canadians from all backgrounds, cities, communities, cultures, and gender identities to join in solidarity. Moose Hide Campaign Day is a national ceremony, and once again will take place virtually so all Canadians across the country can participate and show their support, whether it is in person or online. Canadians can get involved in many ways by visiting or by:

  • Registering to join the livestream on campaign day, originating from Victoria, BC, and participating in virtual workshops being offered.
  • Participating in the Fast or Walk to End Violence.
  • Partaking in the on-demand livestream and various workshops for K-12 classes.
  • Ordering a moose hide pin at 
    With each pin shown to spark 5 conversations, the Moose Hide Campaign has now inspired over 20 million conversations about domestic violence since its inception, but there is still a long road ahead in the journey for change.
  • Organizing a local event to take an active role in ending gender-based violence in your community.

“Whether you are choosing to fast with us, join the livestream or wear your moose hide pin every day, your participation is a meaningful, measurable, and impactful way to help create safe families, organizations and communities. Violence is 100% preventable, and together, we can end gender-based violence in Canada,” said David Stevenson, CEO, Moose Hide Campaign.About The Moose Hide Campaign

The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women, children, and all those along the gender continuum. It was created by Paul and Raven Lacerte, an Indigenous father and daughter from the Carrier First Nation. Twelve years ago, while on their annual moose-hunting trip, on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing, they were inspired to launch this initiative. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in your life and speak out against gender-based and domestic violence. Each moose hide pin sparks five conversations, helping to bring this critical issue into the light.

For further information: Media Contact: Anna Woodmass, NATIONAL Public Relations, E:, P: (416) 571-2147

April 26, 2023

First Nations

The Moose Hide Campaign presented its four millionth moose hide pin to the Honourable Senator Michèle Audette

NationTalk: OTTAWA, ON, April 26, 2023 – Today, the Moose Hide Campaign presented its four millionth moose hide pin to the Honourable Senator Michèle Audette, one of the commissioners responsible for conducting the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The gift of the four millionth moose hide pin reflects Senator Audette’s lifelong commitment to the cause of supporting Indigenous women and her tireless work on Reconciliation between peoples.

With over four million pins distributed since 2011, the Moose Hide campaign has engaged Canadians from coast-to-coast in a collective movement to stand up against violence towards women and children. Studies have shown that each pin generates five conversations about ending gender-based violence. The four millionth pin symbolizes over 20 million impactful conversations. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect, and protect the women and children in your life and speaks out against gender-based and domestic violence.

The ceremony took place at the Senate Building in Ottawa.

Raven Lacerte, co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, presented the pin to Senator Audette. Raven Lacerte and her father Paul Lacerte were inspired to start the Moose Hide Campaign on an annual moose-hunt twelve years ago. The hunt took place on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears in British Columbia, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing.

Since then, thousands of Canadians have participated in the Campaign every year and worn a moose hide pin as a symbol of solidarity in standing up against violence towards women and children in Canada.

The presentation of the four million pin comes in advance of Moose Hide Campaign Day on May 11. In 2022, over 400,000 Canadians took part in the Campaign Day by participating in the Walk to End Violence, fasting, ceremony and education about gender-based violence and reconciliation.

Anyone interested in joining can register directly to the Moose Hide Campaign at:

About The Moose Hide Campaign
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women and children. It was created by Paul and Raven Lacerte, an Indigenous father and daughter from the Carrier First Nation. Twelve years ago, while on their annual moose-hunting trip, on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing, they were inspired to launch this initiative. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children.

Media Contact:
Anna Woodmass, NATIONAL Public Relations
P: 416-571-2147

August 19, 2022

First Nations

Michelle O’Bonsawin, the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous justice

‘I am optimistic it will erase a blind spot’: Who is Michelle O’Bonsawin, the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous justice?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced her nomination Friday, the fifth selection he’s made for the top court since the Liberals came to power in 2015.

Toronto Star: OTTAWA — In the Indigenous Abenaki language, Michelle O’Bonsawin’s last name means “pathfinder.” Now the path she set out for herself as a child finds her poised to make history as the first Indigenous person appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

She’ll take the spot being vacated this September by Justice Michael Moldaver, who has reached the legal retirement age for Supreme Court justices.

“Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin is a widely respected member of Canada’s legal community with a distinguished career,” Trudeau said in announcing the appointment. “I’m confident that she’ll bring invaluable knowledge to our country’s highest court, which is why I’m announcing her nomination today.”

O’Bonsawin was born in Hanmer, Ont., just outside of Sudbury, and identifies as a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation, according to a news release issued by Trudeau’s office.

In her application, she recounted conversations with her father about the racism they both experienced, and how growing up in a working-class family she was taught there was no job that wasn’t worthwhile.

Although she’d go on to work in retail, and at a chip stand to earn money as a young adult, she knew from the age of nine she wanted to become a lawyer.

“As a First Nations woman growing up in Northern Ontario, I became aware of the need for dedicated individuals to provide a strong, representative voice on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves,” she wrote as part of her application for the Supreme Court appointment.

When in high school, she shared her dream of becoming a lawyer with a guidance counsellor, who dismissed the idea as impossible for someone from a small French town in Northern Ontario. “And I had decided no, this is what I’m going to do. Watch me,” she recalled in a 2020 video for the University of Ottawa’s Jurisvision program.

She applied to join the Ontario court in 2017 after a 17-year legal career that saw her work with the RCMP, Canada Post and the Royal health group. Over those years, she honed a focus and expertise in the intersection between mental health and the law, as well as the application of the Gladue principles, which stem from a 1999 Supreme Court decision declaring an Indigenous individual’s background must be taken into account for sentencing decisions.

She wrote her PhD thesis on the subject while serving as a judge on the Ontario Superior Court.

O’Bonsawin’s name had been circulating in legal circles as a candidate for the job since the process to select Moldaver’s replacement began.  Among those in her corner was the Indigenous Bar Association, whose president said in an interview Friday that for years, he did not believe an Indigenous jurist would get the nod.

The barriers to entry are hard to tear down, Drew Lafond said. One is a bilingualism requirement, which sidelines numerous potential candidates. He cited, however, others he hopes will now begin to change with O’Bonsawin’s appointment. “I don’t want (her appointment) to be an example of tokenism,” he said, but a “landmark step” in influencing the inclusion of Indigenous people at the highest ranks of the legal system. 

The process that ended with O’Bonsawin’s appointment was the first time the Indigenous Bar Association had a representative on the selection committee, Lafond said. 

The amount of time and energy devoted came at the expense of their own families and legal practices, a sign of how seriously the Indigenous legal community took being part of the process, he said.  “When you are looking at these legal bodies and you don’t see an Indigenous person, it makes you call into the question the legitimacy of them, and their understanding of Indigenous laws, customs and traditions,” he said.

Another challenge is there’s no legal or even customary requirement to have an Indigenous justice on the top court, in the same way there must be three justices from Quebec.

Lafond said his group will continue to advocate to change the law to ensure Indigenous representation on the court, but that for now, the perspective O’Bonsawin brings to the bench — on top of her “sterling” reputation as a lawyer and judge — will prove the value. 

For the first time, there will be a justice who hasn’t just decided over issues involving Indigenous people or their laws in the lower courts, but lived them herself.  “I am optimistic it will erase a blind spot at the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said. 

Before O’Bonsawin begins the new role, the House of Commons justice committee will hear from the justice minister and the chair of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments about her selection. She’ll also meet with members of Parliament and senators for a question-and-answer session.

That process is normally far less partisan than the hearings which greet nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a statement Friday, the federal Conservatives congratulated O’Bonsawin on her appointment, noting its historic nature and how important the job is.

In her application, O’Bonsawin said she believes justices must stay far away from the political battlefield, and also not allow themselves to be swayed by popular political discourse, including the force that is social media and its ability to allow everyone to voice their views “regardless of whether certain views are inappropriate or insensitive.”

The loudest voices must not be the ones that carry the day in court, she wrote. “A constitutional democracy will face threats, not only from within its borders, but also from abroad which is further facilitated with social media,” she said.

“Beliefs in other areas of the world should not influence or affect how our Constitution is interpreted and applied to all Canadians, absent the pressure of external forces. Our Constitution is only as strong as those who defend it and assure its application to all.”

February 2, 2021

AFN-QL Action Plan on Racism and Discrimination

Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador – AFNQL acknowledges City of Gatineau, which today mandated, by unanimous resolution, its Table de concertation sur le vivre ensemble, to reflect on the actions proposed to municipalities stemming from the AFNQL’s action plan on the fight against racism and discrimination towards First Nations.

“I am very pleased today to take part in this announcement by Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and the elected officials of the City of Gatineau, who are putting their efforts into fostering closer ties and living together. The fight against racism and discrimination is a challenge for everyone. The commitment of elected municipal officials represents the political will that can only inspire our respective societies. This movement is in keeping with the spirit of the Summit of Municipalities and First Nations initiated more than three years ago,” said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

“Too often, racism and discrimination are the result of misconceptions, and action is needed to reduce mistrust and improve relationships…this sends a clear signal about the importance of improving relationships and recognizing our ancestral territories,” said Chief Dylan Whiteduck of the Anishinabeg community of Kitigan Zibi.

“The AFNQL also wishes to salute the openness of the Anishinabeg Nation, and in particular the elected officials of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, who confirm their willingness to work in partnership with their neighbors. The AFNQL launched its Action Plan on Racism and Discrimination towards First Nations on September 29, 2020. This plan contains more than 140 proposed actions, of which more than thirty are addressed to municipalities.

July 7, 2020

National Indigenous Justice Summit

Terrace Standard – Indigenous thinkers, community leaders, and grassroots organizations met over two days to call for immediate justice and policing reform. The summit was structured around three sessions:

  • Need for policing reform
  • Indigenous approaches to justice reform
  • Community-based Calls for Reform

The 10 immediate action points reflect shared recommendations that have been compiled from the many studies and reports that have been done. It is presented as a starting point for a discussion.
Indigenous Bar Association: Summit Notice, Agenda and Immediate Action Points:


1. Create a National Indigenous-led Police oversight body funded by Canada,
2. Establish a National Protocol for Police Investigations
3. Redirect “Public Safety” funding to services that increase Community safety
4. Implement a multi-pronged Indigenous de-escalation strategy
5. Establish a National Protocol for Police Engagement with Indigenous Peoples


6.  Amend Canadian and provincial/territorial human rights codes to include “Indigenous identity” as a protected   ground against discrimination


7. Create Indigenous Courts
8. Increase Indigenous Representation across all levels of the Criminal Justice system
9. Require Judges to give written reasons in all Indigenous Sentencing Cases
10. Require Judges give written reasons in all Indigenous Child Apprehension Cases where a child is placed outside of their Indigenous community

May 14, 2020

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation – is celebrating the Supreme Court of Canada’s denial of Taseko Mines Limited’s (TML) application to appeal the rejection of the New Prosperity Mine proposal by the Government of Canada in 2014. New Prosperity Mine threatened a sacred area of profound cultural importance to the Tŝilhqot’in peoples, with a destructive open pit gold and copper mine that did not have the consent of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.
We look forward to turning our focus and energy to supporting responsible economic projects in appropriate areas of our Territory, as we move towards building a regional economy that respects our culture, our spirituality and our Aboriginal Rights and Title. BC should finally recognize the importance of this area to the Tŝilhqot’in and support the Dasiqox Nexwagwezʔan. The Nation should never have to face the burden of an industrial threat to this sacred area ever again.” Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tŝilhqot’in National Government:

May 14, 2020

Wet’suwet’en MOU with Canada recognizes Aboriginal title

Maclean’s – With a virtual signing ceremony on Thursday, federal and provincial governments are set to formally recognize Indigenous title over traditional land for the first time outside a courtroom. A signed memorandum of understanding with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs will launch a year-long negotiation to decide the terms of their claim to a vast territory in northern British Columbia.
Internal divisions, however, are evident between the elected chiefs and the hereditary chiefs. Elected chiefs overseeing the administration of five of the six First Nations reserves within Wet’suwet’en territory signed agreements with Coastal GasLink. Hereditary leaders representing eight of the nation’s 13 house groups, whose traditional jurisdiction is far vaster, secured community approval for blockades that would hamper its construction. (One hereditary chief supports the pipeline; four seats are vacant.)
The one – year timeframe allows the Wetsu’wet’en Hereditary chiefs to achieve consensus within the population to endorse and ratify the MOU.

May 14, 2020

Treaty 8 victory over AER and Prosper Rigel oilsands project

Edmonton Journal – The Prosper Rigel oilsands project is proposed for a uniquely sensitive part of Fort McKay territory — Moose Lake — situated in the middle of the last relatively undisturbed wilderness vital to maintaining the connection to our ancestral way of life. The Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the Alberta Energy Regulator’s approval of that project, requiring it to be reconsidered with proper attention to protecting the constitutional guarantees of Treaty 8. The court affirmed decisions about land use in our territory must be consistent with the honour of the Crown.

Mere consultation about individual projects is not enough. Governments must address the cumulative impact of development on our rights, and, most importantly, make substantive decisions consistent with its role as an honourable partner in the Treaty relationship with Fort McKay.
Treaty 8 established the terms on which our ancestors would both permit development on our lands and protect our mode of living. Together with the Crown, we must ensure the promises that framed the Treaty relationship remain vibrant and robust, so the treaties operate as the mutually beneficial relationship that the honour of the Crown requires.

The court’s decision provides an opportunity not only for Alberta but for governments and their regulators across the country to renew their relationships with Indigenous treaty partners on honourable terms.

December 3, 2019

Native Women’s Association of Canada invitation to OAS

Native Women’s Association of Canada – At the formal invitation of NWAC, International Dignitary Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) will raise awareness Internationally on the Crisis Impacting Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender-Diverse People. The OAS is establishing an expert panel following the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
His visit and tour to Indigenous communities also cements NWAC’s goal to develop international collaborative partnerships and seek the support of international human rights defenders to ensure implementation of the Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice. Mr. Almagro’s visit reinforces this importance and will help raise awareness of the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across our country,” says Lorraine Whitman, NWAC President.

August 23, 2019

Nulh Ghah Dechen Ts’edilhtan law

On August 23, 1989, Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government enacted its first modern written law, the Nemiah Declaration, and the law was affirmed by Xeni Gwet’in and the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in 2015. The Nulh Ghah Dechen Ts’edilhtan law comes into force on August 23, 2019 – the 30th anniversary of the Nemiah Declaration. The law applies to hunting and other activities, except trapping, that may affect wildlife and habitat within the Nation’s declared Aboriginal title lands. In particular, the law regulates hunting by Tŝilhqot’in and non-Tŝilhqot’in persons. All persons are expected to familiarize themselves with the law, and ensure their compliance with the law while in the Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s declared Aboriginal title lands.

April 3, 2019

Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre

Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC released “Red Women Rising”, a comprehensive report regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The over-representation in statistics on homicides, poverty, homelessness, child apprehensions, police street checks, incarceration, and overdose fatalities is not a coincidence; it is part of an infrastructure of gendered colonial violence. Colonial state practices target women for removal from Indigenous lands, tear children from their families, enforce impoverishment, and manufacture the conditions for dehumanization.
This unprecedented work shares their powerful first-hand realities of violence, residential schools, colonization, land, resource extraction, family trauma, poverty, labour, housing, child welfare, being two-spirit, police, prisons, legal system, opioid crisis, healthcare, and more. “We stand behind this excellent report and the Indigenous leadership it provides on the elimination of gender-based violence on these lands.” – Yellowhead Institute.

May 23, 2018

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)

determinNATION: Moving Beyond the Indian Act Conference will be Indigenous-led and will create a venue for a broad range of voices including Indigenous youth, women, leaders, Elders, legal and scholarly experts, keepers of traditional Indigenous knowledge, as well as representatives from the Government of Canada to create a plan for moving beyond the Indian Act.

The event will cover principles that underlie the Indigenous-government relationship and include a diverse range of delegates, presenters, and other special guests. Working together, participants will contribute to a concrete, actionable solution for overcoming barriers to de-colonize the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Canada.

May 1, 2013

Phyllis (Jack) Webstad and Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.

June 28, 2005

Sisters in Spirit vigil

Vigils take place across Canada and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), 11 vigils were held that year. In 2017 there were an impressive 212 vigils held across Canada and internationally. Family members, Indigenous community members, and concerned citizens gather for a vigil every October 4th to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Vigils take place in communities across Canada as well as internationally. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one. (NWAC)

June 17, 2005

Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot

Established in 1995 at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, the Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot is unique among moot court competitions in the world, in that it is conducted in accordance with Aboriginal customs of peaceful negotiation and consensus-building rather than adversarial competition. The moot attracts teams from law schools across Canada. The 2019 Moot is at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University with representation from 18 Law Schools from across Canada.

Each team represents a different party in a complex negotiation concerning Aboriginal law, and works toward consensus with the help of Aboriginal facilitators and an elder. The format of Kawaskimhon, which is a Cree word meaning “to speak with knowledge,” encourages students to bring their unique personal perspectives to bear on a collective problem affecting Aboriginal peoples and to work toward a mutual consensus.