Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

OPINION: Troubled water: The slow drip of change in Attawapiskat is not and has never been enough – by Adrian Sutherland (Globe and Mail – July 30, 2020)

Adrian Sutherland is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and the frontman and founder of roots-rock band Midnight Shine. He lives in Attawapiskat, on the remote coast of the James Bay.

It’s been one year since the water contamination crisis in my home community of Attawapiskat.

In July, 2019, the Attawapiskat Band Council notified residents that our tap water had tested positive for potentially harmful levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) – byproducts of the disinfection process created when chlorine interacts with high levels of organic materials.

We were told not to bathe in it, not to cook with it and not to inhale vapours from it. A state of emergency was declared. This is our tap water that flows into our houses. It’s important to note we do not drink from our taps – and never have. Continue Reading →

Ginoogaming First Nation Chief Celia Echum won back land owed to her community – by Willow Fiddler (Globe and Mail – June 18, 2020)

At 5 foot 2, Ginoogaming First Nation Chief Celia Echum was below average in height. But despite her diminutive size, she held enormous influence in her community.

In 2016, Ms. Echum initiated a claim seeking compensation for land that Ginoogaming was entitled to under Treaty No. 9 but did not receive. Once settled, the claim will see the Anishinaabe community in northwestern Ontario gain almost 25 per cent more land.

Peter Rasevych, one of Ms. Echum’s nephews from Ginoogaming, was a boy when his Aunty Celia, as she was known to many, began serving the people of Ginoogaming. She received her community health representative (CHR) certificate from Laurentian University in the late 1970s. Continue Reading →

Court rules in favour of Robinson Huron Treaty beneficiaries – by James Hopkin (Soo Today – June 28, 2020)

Justice Patricia Hennessey has ruled in favour of Robinson Huron Treaty beneficiaries in the second phase of a lawsuit launched by 21 First Nations against the federal and provincial governments over treaty annuity payments.

Hennessy ruled in December 2018 during phase one of the hearings that both Canada and Ontario had failed to live up to its obligations to increase annuity payments over time as mineral and forestry resources were being developed. The annual treaty payment – which currently sees each beneficiary receive $4 annually – hasn’t increased since 1874.

“This century-old dispute between the federal and provincial Crowns is one of the reasons why no increase has been made to the annuities for over 150 years,” said Hennessy in the phase two decision. Continue Reading →

A remote First Nation prepares for its most daunting challenge: limiting the spread of coronavirus – by Marcus Gee (Globe and Mail – April 6, 2020)

First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Eabametoong First Nation, which has limited resources to deal with an outbreak

Isolation has so far protected many of Canada’s remote Indigenous communities from the coronavirus. Far from the big cities where the virus is taking the heaviest toll, they have largely been able to shield themselves from its spread. But isolation is also their greatest weakness. If the virus gets in, they are a long way from help. With crowded households, many residents in poor health and limited medical facilities, they could be devastated.

Few people know this better than Harvey Yesno. The veteran Indigenous leader from Eabametoong First Nation in Northern Ontario has spent his long career trying to build up his community and others like it. Conditions are still a long way from where he would like them to be. So, while hoping for the best, he is bracing for the worst.

“We have done everything we can to get ready for the worst-case scenario with the facilities we have, which is not very much,” he said on Friday. Eabametoong imposed a lockdown on April 1, limiting movement in and out of the community of 1,600, located 360 kilometres by air from the nearest city, Thunder Bay. Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: The rumours of reconciliation’s death are greatly exaggerated (Globe and Mail – February 27, 2020)

The use of police in British Columbia and Ontario to clear illegal blockades, part of a broader dispute over a pipeline that runs through disputed Indigenous territory, has led to an outbreak of people declaring that “reconciliation is dead.”

That’s not surprising. The Trudeau government turned “reconciliation” into a political slogan; it now finds it thrown back in its face anytime it, or anyone else, makes a decision that doesn’t jibe with the expectations of Indigenous leaders – or non-Indigenous activists claiming to act on behalf of Indigenous Canadians.

Live by the ill-defined word, die by the ill-defined word. What does reconciliation look like? How is it measured? How will we know when it has been achieved? The Liberals lifted the word from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but beyond a promise of a “renewed nation-to-nation relationship,” they never defined their terms. Continue Reading →

Canada’s future is going down the drain amid destructive federal-provincial feud – by John Ivison (National Post – February 24, 2020)

“Provincial and federal governments have their differences but if
their focus remains on one another, there will soon be no oilpatch
to phase out – and no money to pay for poverty-reduction. Much more
of this and Venezuela is going to look like an attractive investment alternative.”

As Canada goes down the drain, its political leaders are arguing about the size of the plug-hole.

The Alberta Court of Appeal decision, which rules that the federal carbon tax is unconstitutional and erodes provincial jurisdiction, is merely the latest blow to Canada’s brand as a safe and reliable investment haven.

Why would any sentient investor put money into energy projects in a country where environmental policy is so erratic? Justin Trudeau’s political opponents were quick to exploit the decision by Teck Resources to shelve the giant Frontier oil sands project. Continue Reading →

OPINION: The ‘iron road’ that brought ruin and death – by Stephen Maher (MACLEAN’S Magazine – February 17, 2020)

As tempers flare over rail protests and talk of the rule of law, consider the history of the CPR

Ask Canadians to describe their country and they talk about public health care and hockey, military valour on European battlefields, peacekeeping and multiculturalism.

But most industrialized countries have public health care, some better than ours. Lots of countries play hockey. Most societies have stories they tell themselves about military glory. Many countries do more to keep the peace around the world than we do.

If you were to describe this country to someone who had never heard of it, it would be accurate to describe Canada as a country built around a railway—the Canadian Pacific Railway—on land taken by force from Indigenous people. Continue Reading →

In dealing with protests, Justin Trudeau must be clear about what’s negotiable, and what isn’t – Editorial (Globe and Mail – February 19, 2020)

The Prime Minister is in his comfort zone when he’s delivering the kind of speech that’s become his hallmark: light on substance, heavy on platitudes, and with more than a hint of lecturing folks from the other side of the political spectrum on their failings.

Unfortunately, the issue Justin Trudeau rose to address on Tuesday in the House of Commons does not lend itself to any of that. The government is instead faced with practical questions about the legalities of a gas pipeline in British Columbia, and the pressing fact of a blockaded arterial rail line in Eastern Ontario.

This is nuts-and-bolts stuff about the country’s economic and legal plumbing. It’s going to take more than political clichés to unblock the national pipes. Continue Reading →

‘Serious damage’: Businesses warn of looming layoffs, loss of sales as rail disruption drags on – by Jesse Snyder and Julia Mastroianni (Financial Post – February 19, 2020)

Businesses are warning of looming layoffs, lost revenue and a hit to Canada’s reputation, as rail disruptions drag on in the country.

A coalition of 39 industry associations wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, calling on him to “work urgently” with First Nations and police to bring the blockade to a peaceful end.

“The damage inflicted on the Canadian economy and on the welfare of all our citizens mounts with each hour that these illegal disruptions are allowed to continue,” the coalition said, which represents automotives, mining and numerous other industries. Continue Reading →

Robinson-Huron Treaty First Nations demand Ottawa, Ontario stop land claim talks that impact their rights – by Jorge Barrera (CBC News Indigenous – February 4, 2020)

Say they do not recognize Mé​​​​​​​tis in their territory as having any land rights

First Nations that are part of the Robinson-Huron Treaty group demanded Tuesday that Canada and Ontario back off ongoing land claim talks with neighbouring Indigenous organizations that they say infringe on their treaty rights.

Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers said talks between the two levels of government and the Algonquins of Ontario along with the Métis Nation of Ontario threaten the treaty rights of Robinson-Huron Treaty First Nations.

“We assert our sovereignty and we cannot have Canada and Ontario negotiating with other groups that infringe on our rights in our territory,” said Sayers at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. Continue Reading →

Thunder Bay: Warm weather creating ‘crisis’ for First Nations that rely on ice roads (CBC News Thunder Bay – February 4, 2020)

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug is flying in fuel and pondering how to ship materials for a new school

Warm weather is playing havoc with the winter road network that connects remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario to the provincial highway system, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Only one community’s winter road was fully operational as of Jan. 31, according to NAN’s winter road report. Fifteen communities have roads that are open to light traffic and three to partial traffic. Six communities’ roads are still under construction, and six communities have roads that are closed due to weather.

“It is a developing crisis as many of our communities are running out of fuel and cannot haul anything in,” NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler wrote on Twitter. “We need immediate government intervention.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s worst violent crime problem is in Thompson, Man. – by Shannon VanRaes (MACLEAN’S Magazine – November 19, 2019)

As the “Hub of the North” Thompson serves a regional population
of 55,000. The city’s airport is the second busiest in the province
and more than 40 remote communities—mostly First Nations and
Northern Affairs settlements—rely on Thompson for essential
services and commerce.

It’s the “machete kids” that worry Donnel Jonsson most. The property manager for Ashberry Place, a low-income apartment complex in Thompson, Man., has dealt with assaults, fires and even murder over the years. However, recent youth crime has him feeling unsafe, particularly along the city’s Spirit Way trail.

“Kids are going around and assaulting individuals walking the path, no reason why, they just come up to them and basically stab them or cut them across the face,” he says, pointing to a wooded section of trail below a 10-storey-high wolf mural.

This May, the city’s RCMP detachment indeed found itself investigating a stabbing spree that left five injured. In March, a machete-wielding home invader hacked a dog to death and in June, Thompson saw two stabbings and a machete attack in three days. Continue Reading →

Treaties in Ontario: what are they and what do they do? – by Rhiannon Johnson (CBC News Indigenous – November 10, 2019)

46 treaties cover what is now the province of Ontario

Since 2016, Ontario has held Treaty Recognition Week in the first week of November to honour the importance of treaties and raise awareness about treaty rights and relationships. What are treaties? A treaty is a legally binding agreement between nations.

European countries colonizing North America made treaties with the Indigenous Peoples occupying the land. These agreements often set out rules of governance, land use and the relationship between parties.

The earliest is the two-row wampum, an agreement between the Dutch and Haudenosaunee in 1613 in what is now New York state. The two-row wampum represents a river and the parallel lines represent the paths of each party’s vessel, and while they may travel forward together they will not intersect or interfere with each other. Continue Reading →

How to build Ontario: First Nations need clean water – by Jon Thompson (TV Ontario – September 27, 2019)

Sixteen First Nations in the riding of Kenora have no access to clean water. What is the federal government doing about it?

THUNDER BAY — On September 12, a pump at the water facility on Neskantaga First Nation broke, plunging the community — which has been under a boil-water advisory since 1994, longer than any other community in the country — into crisis. The supply slowed to a trickle; in some homes, it stopped entirely. The unchlorinated water that did flow was, according to residents, unsafe even for bathing: residents reported headaches, stomach problems, and rashes after contact.

Two days later, the chief and council declared a state of emergency and organized an air evacuation of 219 residents to Thunder Bay, 450 kilometres to the west. “We had to [evacuate] because people were mostly scared.

They’re traumatized already from the water,“ said Neskantaga councillor Allan Moonias. “Mostly everyone in Neskantaga has an illness, and that’s coming from the water. That’s what people have to understand: it’s the water causing our illness.” Continue Reading →

Autumn Peltier, 14, to address United Nations about water issues in First Nations communities across Canada – by Ben Cohen (Globe and Mail – September 27, 2019)

There are things about Canada that Autumn Peltier can’t accept. Children growing up without access to drinkable tap water. Seventy-year-olds having to walk every day to claim water rations. Entire communities unable to shower without risking possible exposure to a carcinogen.

These are stories she hears from across the country. At 14, Autumn, the Anishinabek Nation chief water commissioner, has spent nearly half her life fighting against these injustices.

“There are people living in third-world conditions in our first-world country,” she says. “It’s insane. Canada is wealthy. There shouldn’t be places that can’t drink their water.” Continue Reading →