OPINION: Canada’s paternalistic mindset toward supporting Indigenous communities just doesn’t work – by Ken Coates (Globe and Mail – August 5, 2022)


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.

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:

Read more

Pope says genocide took place at Canada’s residential schools – by Ka’nhehsí:io Deer (CBC News Indigenous – July 30, 2022)


Pontiff concludes ‘penitential pilgrimage’ of reconciliation between Catholic Church and Indigenous people

While the word genocide wasn’t heard in any of Pope Francis’s addresses during a week-long trip to Canada, on his flight back to Rome, he said everything he described about the residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children amounts to genocide.

“I didn’t use the word genocide because it didn’t come to mind but I described genocide,” Pope Francis told reporters on the papal flight from Iqaluit to Rome on Friday. Over the last week, the Pope visited Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit on a “penitential pilgrimage” of healing, reconciliation and hope between the Catholic Church and Indigenous people.

Read more

Curse the church if you will, but spare some consideration for this Pope and what he’s doing – by Rosie DiManno (Toronto Star – July 27, 2022)


QUEBEC CITY—On that mild March evening in 2013, with tens of thousands jammed into St. Peter’s Square, all eyes looked anxiously toward the central balcony of the Basilica. Who would emerge?

And when Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped outside, from behind the velvet curtains, a murmur swept across the crowd, building into a crescendo. Who is that? Pope Francis. Pope who? Pope Francis, who’d taken his papal name from Francis of Assisi, for the saint’s gentleness and humility, for the Franciscan order’s plainness.

Read more

As Pope Francis visits Canada, the Church may be too belatedly sorry – by Rosie DiManno (Toronto Star – July 25, 2022)


And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those that trespass against us.
The Lord’s Prayer

There is apology and, just as powerful, there is forgiveness.

Pope Francis will repent for the Catholic Church, for all the sins that were visited upon Indigenous people over a century of residential school harm. I hope the Holy Father, and the church he leads, will also receive mercy, if not absolution.

Because forgiveness is a state of divine grace. It is why Catholics go to confession, also known as reconciliation or penance — acknowledgment of our sinfulness.

Read more

Inside the chaos of the Assembly of First Nations national chief’s office – by Olivia Sefanovich (CBC News Politics – July 1, 2022)


RoseAnne Archibald’s lawyer calls the accusations ‘inappropriate and inaccurate’

When RoseAnne Archibald staffed her office following her election win last July as the Assembly of First Nations’ first female national chief, it was seen by some working in First Nation politics as a dream career opportunity.

Now, a year into her first term, what was considered a chance to usher in a new era at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) under female leadership has devolved into workplace turbulence, according to sources who spoke with CBC News.

Read more

Australia’s Northern Territory: red earth paved with gold? – by Andrew Tunnicliffe (Mining Technology – January 24, 2022)


Covering more than 1.3 million km2, around 17% of the Australia’s entire land mass, the Northern Territory (NT) is home to some of Australia’s most alluring natural phenomena: Alice Springs, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and the spectacular Uluru or Ayres Rock.

Its uniquely red terrain – cast against the often sunny skies – is awash with historical Aboriginal culture too; much of the land is owned by the Aboriginal people comprising a wide assortment of tribes. However, those cultures have often clashed with state and federal governments , particularly when it comes to matters associated with land and its use.

Read more

Upcoming election won’t change federal response to Robinson-Huron Treaty annuities – by Jenny Lamothe (Sudbury.com – August 18, 2021)


A recent announcement regarding the Robinson-Huron Treaty annuities case has Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation feeling a little more at ease, especially in light of the upcoming federal election.

The 21 signatories of the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 have been in court since a 2018 decision in favour of the signatories, one that the provincial government appealed. Both stages of that appeal are complete but the decision has yet to be rendered. The federal government, however, decided against appealing.

And now, the correspondence recently received by the signatories states that regardless of the party behind the new Canadian government, the decision will not be appealed.

Read more

First Nation’s court victory sets precedent for equitable compensation – by John Woodside (Toronto Star – July 21, 2021)


More than 90 years after the Lac Seul First Nation’s reserve land was flooded to build a hydroelectric dam, Chief Clifford Bull says his people may finally receive just compensation.

The impact of the dam on the Lac Seul First Nation, traditionally the home of the Obishikokaang Anishinaabeg, was severe. It destroyed the nation’s way of life and many people moved away, Bull says.

“When I talk about total devastation, I mean there were 80 homes that went under … our sacred grounds, campsites, burials were washed up and bones were exposed — skulls were exposed — and that continues to this very day,” he said.

Read more

‘A race against time’: First Nations, towns in northwestern Ontario prepare to evacuate as wildfires approach – by Logan Turner (CBC News Thunder Bay – July 14, 2021)


First Nations and towns in northwestern Ontario are monitoring the weather forecast and making urgent plans for evacuations as firefighting crews race to bring wildfires across the region under control.

“Our community is in a race against time,” said Pikangikum First Nation Chief Dean Owen in a written statement. “With so many communities being evacuated due to the fires, we are all competing for limited resources and space.”

The First Nation, which is about 100 kilometres northwest of Red Lake, Ont., and has an on-reserve population of more than 3,000, declared a state of emergency on Monday night, and requested that about 500 to 800 “vulnerable people” be evacuated from Pikangikum. It marks the third time in three years community members have been forced to flee due to forest fire and smoke threats.

Read more

OPINION: Will accountability ever come in the Catholic Church and the Canadian government? – by Tanya Talaga (Globe and Mail – July 9, 2021)


It must feel as though the fury of hell has come to southern British Columbia, where scorching temperatures have broken records and giant fires have engulfed First Nations communities and cities already dealing with the devastating discovery of the remains of ancestors of those in the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation.

The open mourning, the coming together and the steps toward healing among the Tk’emlúpsemc – “the people of the confluence” of the North and South Thompson Rivers – is happening as smoke from the smouldering First Nations community of Lytton, just hours down the highway, blows into Kamloops.

And all this comes as the burning of Catholic churches continues, and statues of Sir John A. Macdonald, Egerton Ryerson and Queen Victoria fall across the country like dominoes.

Read more

Penance is required for the church’s residential school sins – by Diane Francis (Financial Post – July 6, 2021)


Guaranteeing the security and well-being of children in a society is a sacred trust. Both church and state were to blame in Canada for this terrible stain on the country’s history

My late mother spent her childhood in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Chicago with her siblings. She never talked about it. She eventually left the church when I was young. She never fully explained why.

My family history is another reason why Canada’s renewed residential school scandal, because of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves near some of these schools, has hit me harder than most.

It’s an abomination and the Catholic Church has much to answer for. These unmarked graves were found near some of their schools and others are being probed.

Read more

Neglected Ring of Fire-area community taking Ottawa to court over 20-year boil water advisory – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – June 29, 2021)


Road proponent Marten Falls First Nation joins national class action lawsuit over lack of potable water, calls for action on housing crisis

A First Nation community supporter of mining development in the Ring of Fire still has to boil its drinking water after two decades.

Marten Falls First Nation is joining a national class-action lawsuit against the federal government led by Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP (OKT) and McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

In a June 29 news release, Marten Falls said despite its members living in mineral-rich lands coveted by mining companies, members in the community of 250 still live in poverty; dealing with homelessness or overcrowded housing conditions, suffering from inadequate fire protection, enduring challenges associated with the water treatment plant, and a boil water advisory that’s lasted for more than 20 years.

Read more

As residential school grave tally rises, this will be a summer of despair – by Doug Cuthand (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – June 25, 2021)


Our elders told us what hellholes these institutions were: Places of violence, disease, religious indoctrination and cultural genocide.

A few weeks ago, Canadians were struck with the announcement that 215 unmarked graves had been discovered at the Kamloops residential school in British Columbia. It set off a wave of shock across the nation, but for many first Nations people it was a foreboding of what would come.

The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission pointed out that while the official count of children who died at Canadian residential schools was around 3,000, the true amount would be double or more.

Across the country, federal and provincial governments have stepped up and made funds available for First Nations to get access to ground-penetrating radar to search the old school sites for human remains.

Read more

OPINION: A call to Canadians: Help us find every burial site. Bring every lost Indigenous child home. Prove that you are who you claim to be – by Tanya Talaga (Globe and Mail – June 26, 2021)


“We had concentration camps here.” Those were the words of Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan.

He was speaking to the world on his phone from his car, at a press conference on Thursday that detailed the crimes against 751 children and possibly adults, whose headstones were silently, viciously removed at the Marieval Indian Residential School in the 1960s.

Canada may not have more than one million dead who were slaughtered and buried in killing fields, as they do in Cambodia. But make no mistake: Over the past 153 years, Canada has consistently used government policies – residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, the prison system, “universal” health care and repeated ignorance of our people’s necessities of life – to make damn sure we are assimilated.

Read more

OPINION: Canada must listen to the stories of the buried, or their deaths will haunt us forever – by Kim Echlin (Globe and Mail – June 8, 2021)


I want to tell you an old Brothers Grimm tale called The Singing Bone. In this story, a jealous man kills his younger brother and hides his body below a bridge. Some years later, a shepherd sees a white bone poking up from the sand and takes it to make into a flute.

To his astonishment, when he blows into the flute, it sings a song about a murder. The shepherd takes the bone and plays it for the king, who immediately recognizes the story. He finds and punishes the murderer.

Then he orders the younger brother’s bones dug up and brought back to be buried in a beautiful place. In this way, order is restored in the kingdom.

Read more