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ICT: News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

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  • Ishgooda, Senior Staff
    News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada Posted: April 30, 2003 - 9:18am EST by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
    Message 1 of 6 , May 1, 2003
      News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

      Posted: April 30, 2003 - 9:18am EST
      by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
      http://www.indiancountry.com/article/1051708836

      Caravans converge on Ottawa

      OTTAWA - Opposition to the First Nations Governance Act, also known as Bill C-7, remained high amongst many in the First nations and their supporters as they prepared to march on Ottawa to protest the legislation.

      The Western Canada contingent left Vancouver April 22 led by Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. On April 26, the Eastern caravan headed toward Shubenacadie in Nova Scotia, the site of a bitter lobster harvesting dispute with the federal fisheries ministry. Chief Roberta Jamieson of the Six Nations of the Grand was at the head of the column of Natives from Southern Ontario that left for Ottawa on April 27.

      The caravans met at Victoria Island before proceeding to Parliament Hill where the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs that has been conducting a clause-by-clause examination of C-7.

      The Assembly of First Nations also held a special confederacy at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel from April 29-30 to examine the current status of C-7, the Specific Claims Resolution Act (Bill C-6), and the Fiscal Institutions Act (Bill C-19).

      AFN and other First Nations organizations have opposed the suite of legislation as infringements on treaty rights and described Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Robert Nault’s approach to the dispute as "colonial."

      Deh Cho ink deal

      FORT PROVIDENCE, Northwest Territory - An initial agreement between the Deh Cho First Nations and the Government of Canada that could have blocked the development of the $4 billion (Cdn.) Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project was signed April 17.

      A key piece of the Deh Cho Process Interim Resource Development Agreement is the removal of over 70,000 square kilometers of Deh Cho land from future mineral exploration, an addition of 4,828 square kilometers to the Nahanni National Park.

      An estimated 210,000 square kilometers of territory will remain subject to development.

      The Deh Cho also gained a concession that will see them paid an amount equal to royalties from oil and gas production in the Mackenzie Valley collected by Ottawa, a percentage of which is slated for economic stimulation projects.

      An Order-in-Council, similar to an Executive Order in the United States, has also granted the Deh Cho control over how their land is developed.

      "In the vision of our ancestors, we will continue to walk the path with governments a journey of trust and mutual respect in our negotiations," said Deh Cho Grand Chief Michael Nadli.

      Gwich’in and Inuvialuit move toward self-government

      INUVIK, North West Territory - An agreement-in-principle (AIP) was reached earlier in April that clears the way fir the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit to obtain self-government.

      On April 16, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, the Inuvialuit, Canada signed the AIP that will recognizes new legislative and administrative powers in the Beaufort-Delta region, including authority over culture, language, education, local government operations, training, child and family services, and health care.

      The AIP provided for the establishment of a new public government structure which will also provide for guaranteed representation for Gwich’in and Inuvialuit.

      Approximately 7,100 people live in he Beaufort-Delta communities of Alkali, Fort McPherson, Homan, Inuit, Palate, Sachs Harbor, Tsiigehchic, and Tukoyakuk. Gwich’in and Inuvialuit make up 75 percent of these residents.

      The two First Nations began negotiating self-government agreements in 1995.

      Natives reject fed proposal on consent forms

      CALGARY, Alberta - There is little argument that drug abuse has become an issue in the First Nations, but a move by Health Canada to track prescription drug abuse in Canada is drawing harsh criticism by First Nations leaders in Alberta.

      Spokesman Herman Wierenga of the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on April 14, figures on the non-insurance health benefits Natives receive as part of their treaty rights is needed to be able to track what drugs are dispensed and is requiring that Natives sign consent forms to release their information by Sept. 1.

      Policy Advisor for Treaty Seven Norma Large, however, criticized the forms as granting unrestricted access to an individual Native’s medical records.

      "It’s a blanket consent, it’s being able to review our information from the time we’re born until the time we die," Large said. "And I don’t know if anybody would be willing to allow that and, in fact, former Health Minister Alan Rock said he would not sign this consent form.

      "So if it’s not good enough for that person, why is it good enough for the First Nations," asked Large.

      A statement from Health Canada said the forms stipulate who exactly who would be able to see the information and that it would only be retained for seven years.

      Large responded that there are better ways of dealing with prescription drug abuse by monitoring doctors, pharmacies, and addressing the causes of addiction.

      The Health Canada measure was a recommendation made on April 10 by a federal judge investigating the prescription drug overdose deaths of two Natives on the Eden Valley reserve.

      Kluane First Nation settlement reached

      WHITEHORSE, Yukon - The Kluane First Nation, the territorial government, and the Government of Canada installed a self-government and land claim agreement on April 11.

      According to a statement released by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the agreement will establish three "Special Management Areas" which are a territorial park in at the Klutlan (Asi Keyi) Glacier, a habitat protection area at Pickhandle Lake, and the Tachal region of the Kluane National Park.

      The Kluane First Nation will also receive a reserve set at 352 square miles, 13.45 million (Cdn.) or $9.3 million (USD) adjusted for inflation over the next 15 years and a one-time payment of $2.99 million (Cdn.) or $2.1 million (USD) and an economic development package as part of the agreement.

      The Kluane First Nation Agreement must now be sent to the territorial assembly and to the federal government for final ratification.

      Cat Lake First Nation under state of emergency

      OTTAWA - An outbreak of gastroenteritis on the Cat Lake First Nation reserve in northwestern Ontario caused by contaminated drinking water has caused the band to declare an on-going state of emergency.

      The situation on the reserve deteriorated over the first two weeks of April as the community’s sewage treatment facility suffered a complete shutdown and Health Canada was forced to close its nursing station on April 4 when raw sewage began flowing into the facility.

      Health Canada has said there could be serious health consequences for the region if spring runoffs caused by the recent warm weather spread the contamination.

      Cat Lake has been under a boil water advisory since March 2001.

      Cat Lake Chief Wilfred Wesley has been petitioning Ottawa for aid to correct the situation since October 2002 but has not received any answer or help on the matter. Ironically, Robert Nault the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is the local member of Parliament representing the Cat Lake community.

      Cat Lake First Nation Tribal councilor Vernon Wesley told ICT that several of the younger people on the reserve have gotten sick from drinking the tap water, but some progress is being made on fixing the filtering system that caused the problems with the assistance of other First Nations and Native organizations.

      "He’s not doing anything at all," said Wesley of Minister Nault. "He has other priorities right now."

      Wesley said Cat Lake has been forced to move ahead on its own to correct the problem without federal aid and is waiting for its budget to be approved before completing its water treatment initiatives.

      Please forward your comments or story ideas for News from the North to rtaylo16@....

      ©2003 Indian Country Today

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    • Ishgooda, Senior Staff
      News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada Posted: June 23, 2003 - 9:41am EST by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 23, 2003
        News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

        Posted: June 23, 2003 - 9:41am EST
        by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
        http://www.indiancountry.com/article/1056375826

        Pankiw accused of ‘hatemongering’

        OTTAWA - A controversial Independent Member of Parliament has been accused of hate crimes by Aboriginal leaders for the second time in a year.

        Member of Parliament for the riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt, Jim Pankiw, mailed a pamphlet to his constituents on June 5 in which he called some of Canada’s leading Aboriginal lobbyists racists.

        Pankiw’s charges of racism, detailed in the pamphlet, are based on an incident in December 2002 when former Assembly of First Nations National Chief David Ahenakew made anti-Semitic remarks and praised the treatment of the Jews under Nazi rule in Germany.

        "It’s clear who the racists are," said Pankiw in the pamphlet that also included comments made by the current National Chief Matthew Coon Come.

        In addition, the pamphlet included a survey in which constituents were asked to respond if they favored eliminating tax exemptions, affirmative action, Native hunting and fishing rights and cutting federal financial support to the AFN.

        The pamphlet set off a series of complaints to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police calling for investigations of hate crimes by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations against Pankiw and a similar action by Pankiw against the AFN.

        "It’s hatemongering," FSIN Chief Perry Belgrande told reporters on June 5. "This information is revolting and disgusting. He’s fanning racist fires is what he’s doing, and is using taxpayers dollars to do this."

        Pankiw did not respond to Indian Country Today’s request for an interview, but was quoted in numerous Canadian newspapers as describing himself as "a champion of equality" who was "telling the cold hard truth."

        Coon Come extended an earlier invitation on behalf of the First Nations for Pankiw to visit Native communities in Saskatchewan so he could witness first hand the conditions that have forced the aboriginal lobbyist to make serous demands.

        Pankiw is not likely to accept the invitation considering he declined an invitation earlier this year to tour Saskatchewan’s reserves after he admitted never having visited a First Nation. Pankiw was first elected to the House of Commons in 1997 and plans to leave federal politics later this year to run for mayor of Saskatoon, according to information on his official Web site: http://www.jimpankiw.com

        Three seek top position at AFN

        OTTAWA - As the Assembly of First Nations fends off the latest attack on the organization by Jim Pankiw it is also in the midst of an election campaign for national chief.

        The AFN, representing 633 First Nations reserves with a population of 700,000 status Natives, officially announced the slate of three official candidates on June 12 that includes incumbent Matthew Coon Come (Cree Nation of Mistissini - Quebec), Phil Fontaine (Sagkeeng First Nation - Manitoba) and Roberta Jamieson (Mohawk Nation of the Six Nations of the Grand River - Ontario).

        The national chief earns an annual salary of $125,000 tax free and serves a three year term.

        Coon Come has served as national chief since 2000 when he defeated Fontaine in a two-horse race. Observers in Canada have said that Coon Come’s advantage as the incumbent may have already been lost to resentment over a decrease in federal funding from $20 million to $6 million, staff layoffs and comments he made two years ago that Natives drink and smoke too much. The AFN under his leadership has been the leading critic of Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Robert Nault and the Liberal Party’s First Nations Governance Act (FNGA).

        Fontaine has the leadership experience and ability to take back the reins at AFN, but is seen by many as a Liberal Party insider. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien considers Fontaine a personal friend and appointed him as the chief commissioner of the Indian Land Claims Commission. Fontaine has said he favors a cooperative approach with Ottawa rather than the confrontational and "get tough style" of the other candidates.

        Jamieson has emerged from the debate over the FNGA with a reputation as a highly effective speaker and would be the AFN’s first female national chief. Jamieson was one of the first Native women in Canada to earn a law degree and was also the first elected chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River, Canada’s most populous reserve. She was, however, the target of an impeachment attempt in the first year of her term at Six Nations by members of the community that were angered over her firing of two longtime band employees.

        The election for national chief will be held at the AFN’s annual general assembly at Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta on July 16. A 60 percent majority of votes is required to be declared the winner.

        Police accused of abandoning Native man

        WINNIPEG, Manitoba - A Native man has accused the Winnipeg police of a practice that has become known as dumping.

        According to the Canadian Press, Garrett Barthelette, 21, and three other Native men were taken into custody by unidentified Winnipeg police officers on the night of April 15 while they were walking in an inner city neighborhood and driven approximately 12 miles outside of the city limits.

        Barthelette claimed in a complaint, currently under investigation by the Winnipeg police department’s professional standards unit, that he and his companion were forced to remove their shoes before they were released and although they recovered their shoes, were still forced to walk back into the city where they were again stopped by police who listened to their story and drove them home.

        There have been several similar dumping cases involving the police in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that have resulted in the deaths of at least four Native men. In one of these cases, former police officers Dan Patchen and Ken Munson were convicted of unlawful confinement and sentenced to eight-months in jail for dumping an aboriginal man, Darrell Night, in sub-zero temperatures causing his death.

        INAC contributes to First Nations’ economy

        OTTAWA - Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Robert Nault announced the federal contribution to economic development and infrastructure projects in aboriginal communities in the provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia between June 11 and June 16.

        Details of those projects include:

        Alberta

        * $350,000 for expanded well services for seven First Nations in Alberta’s Oil Patch;

        New Brunswick

        * $55,000 for the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq and the Pictou Landing First Nation to assist in the operation of a cultural tourism and wood lot management;

        * $15,000 for two members of the Paq’tnkek First Nation to open an auto repair business;

        * $300,000 for the Shubenacadie First Nation to support resource remediation and training;

        * $162,000 for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians to assist the advisory council of the Mi’kmaq leadership to establish government and private sector training opportunities;

        Nova Scotia

        * $5,000 to help acquire equipment for a silversmith in the Tobique First Nation;

        * $50,000 to fund the expansion of a homebuilding business owned by a member of the Woodstock First Nation.

        According to statements from INAC, approximately 60 full-time and four part-time jobs total will be created in First Nations benefiting from the federal contributions.

        Please forward your questions and comments on News from the North to Robert Taylor at rtaylo16@....

        ©2003 Indian Country Today
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      • Ishgooda, Senior Staff
        News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada Posted: November 12, 2003 - 1:37pm EST by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 13 6:05 AM
          News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

          Posted: November 12, 2003 - 1:37pm EST
          by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
          http://www.indiancountry.com/?1068662314


          Ottawa allocates millions for water improvements

          MONTREAL - The Government of Canada announced on Oct. 6 it will spend $5.5 million on water quality projects for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne First Nation.

          Akwesasne will receive $3.78 million to complete a water line from an existing treatment facility and $1.74 million to design and begin construction of an additional water treatment plant.

          "Improvements of this nature help address one of the many needs in Aboriginal country and strengthens the foundation for a healthy, safe and flourishing environment for our citizens," said Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Angie Barnes.

          The quality of drinking water on many reserves became a priority for Canada in May 2003 when Indian Affairs Minister Robert D. Nault announced the federal government’s First Nations Water Management Strategy including the addition of $600 million for reserve water quality improvement projects like the Akwesasne project.

          Information on First Nations water quality provided by the Ministry of Indian Affairs shows that Canada has plans to spend a total of $1.2 billion on reserve water quality over the next five years.

          The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne First Nation is located near Montreal, Quebec with additional territory on Cornwall Island in the St. Lawrence River.

          Resource revenue sharing to become part of First Nations treaties

          VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The governments of British Columbia and Canada signed a cost-sharing agreement on Oct. 3 that will pave the way for resource revenue sharing agreements to be included in treaty settlements in the province.

          Karen Williams, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Treaty Negotiations Office, said the agreement offers guarantees to the province that Ottawa will pay 50 percent of the "significant" costs of including the resource agreements in the treaties.

          "This (including the resource sharing agreements in treaties) is something new that has not existed before," Williams said in an interview with Indian Country Today. "This is a new tool for treaty making."

          British Columbia and Canada are currently negotiating treaties with First Nations to create certainty with respect to Aboriginal rights and title, according to a statement from the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

          "Benefits of this certainty include increased access to Crown lands and resources, an improved investment climate, increased employment and economic growth," said the statement.

          Inuktitut business web site launched

          IQALUIT, Nunavut - A new Web site in the Inuktitut language was launched on Oct. 1 that will allow Inuit businessmen in Nunavut access to information on government programs and services, starting new businesses, regulations and funding sources in the territory.

          The Canada-Nunavut Business Service Center Inuktitut site is a joint effort by the territorial government and the federal government to remove the language barrier to economic development in Canada’s newest territory.

          "With Inuktitut as the first language of 85 percent of our population, this Web site allows residents to access more information and make better informed business decisions," said Nunavut Minister of Sustainable Development. "This will contribute greatly to the success of Nunavut’s economy."

          The cost of developing and launching the site was made possible by an $80,000 grant from the Knowledge Fund administered by the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

          Services on the new site will also be available in the two official languages of Canada, English and French.

          "This joint initiative is an excellent example of how our two governments have been working together to identify and address barriers to economic and community development in Nunavut," said INAC Minister Robert D. Nault.

          The Web site can be viewed at http://www.cbsc.org/nunavut.

          Maa-nulth

          First Nations take next step toward treaty

          ANCALA, British Columbia - An official Agreement-In-Principal was signed on Oct. 3 between the Maa-nulth First Nations as part of British Columbia’s treaty negotiation process with First Nations.

          The A-I-P is only the fourth in the six-step treaty negotiating process with a review and a membership ratification vote to follow. Terms in the agreement included adding up to almost 52,000 acres to the existing reserves of the Maa-nulth member bands.

          Other major components of the A-I-P are resource rights, culture and self-government provisions.

          The government of Canada is reported to be contributing $62.5 million, less outstanding negotiation loans, to pay for land transfers.

          Please forward your comments or questions about News from the North to rtaylo16@....

          ©2003 Indian Country Today

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        • Ishgooda, Senior Staff
          News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada Posted: May 26, 2004 - 12:28pm EST by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
          Message 4 of 6 , May 27, 2004
            News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

            Posted: May 26, 2004 - 12:28pm EST
            by: Robert J. Taylor / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
            http://www.indiancountry.com/?1085588980

            Métis lawyer appointed to bench

            OTTAWA - Todd Duchame has become the first Métis lawyer appointed as judge in Canada.

            Duchame, a certified specialist in criminal law, was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Irwin Cotler officially on May 7. Métis National Council President Clem Chartier congratulated Duchame in a prepared statement on May 10 and described the appointment of a Métis as judge as "long overdue." The Métis Nation of Ontario president said the appointment was a reflection of Duchame’s personal ability and cause for "great celebration."

            "Justice Duchame is a role model for me and other young Métis lawyers, law students and youth considering a legal career," said General Council to the Métis Nation Jason Madden. "He stands as an example of the talent that lies within the Métis Nation to contribute to Canada’s legal profession. It is a proud day for us."

            Justice Duchame brings serious credentials to the bench according to information provided by the MNC. He holds advanced legal degrees from the law schools at the University of Toronto and Yale University. Duchame has also served as the clinic director for Aboriginal Legal Service of Toronto and currently serves as the director of Native Child and Family Service of Toronto.

            Supreme Court to hear Marshall appeal

            FREDERICTON, New Brunswick - The Supreme Court of Canada announced on May 3 it has agreed to hear an appeal of a key decision on Aboriginal treaty rights filed by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

            The original decision by the high court involved the conviction of Stephen Marshall Jr. and over 30 other members of the Mi’kmaq tribe for illegally harvesting fish without a license off the Atlantic coast in 1999. The justices agreed with the defenses’ argument the First Nations fisherman were guaranteed the right to hunt and fish and to maintain a moderate living from doing so by 18th century treaties and dismissed the charges. Since the Marshall decision was handed down it has been used a precedent in several cases in both of the provinces by Aboriginals seeking to guarantee their treaty access to natural resources on territory controlled by the federal or provincial governments.

            The appeals filed by both provinces, to be heard sometime in 2005, are focused on logging cases. In the New Brunswick appeal, the province is seeking to reverse the overturning of the conviction of Joshua Bernard of the Eel Ground Reserve for harvesting 23 spruce logs from government land for sale in 2000. In the Nova Scotia appeal, the province is also seeking to return the conviction of 35 First Nations loggers for harvesting lumber for profit on government land. The provinces’ arguments are both based on the premise the Supreme Court erred in its earlier interpretation and no treaty rights exists allowing the First Nations to harvest trees on government land.

            An affirmation of the Marshall decision will obviously be good news for First Nations seeking to establish economic self-sufficiency, but a blow to the big business of commercial logging. Groups favoring overturning the Marshall decision have told the Canadian media that special access to natural resources based on race is discriminatory to non-Aboriginal loggers and fishermen. Surprisingly, some Aboriginal rights advocates are welcoming the appeal.

            "It means the Supreme Court, authors of the original Marshall decision, will get the opportunity to determine how to handle forests and trees," commented Bruce Wildsmith, a Native rights lawyer, to the Canadian Press news service on May 3.

            ©2004 Indian Country Today

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