Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

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 →

In the Neskantaga First Nation, undrinkable water is a crisis of health and faith – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – September 16, 2019)

Why can mining companies build water treatment plants for their
workers in remote locations in a timely manner that have no problems?

And why could a dinky little country of 4.5 million, take less than five years, in the early 1880s, to build the longest railroad in the world, at that time, through some of the harshest geography on the planet and yet a modern, industrialized G-7 C$2 trillion economy not be able to provide clean drinking water to all affected FNs in ONE political
mandate of roughly four years?? – Stan Sudol

After a quarter-century of Canada’s longest boil-water advisory, the people of Neskantaga thought their water crisis could not possibly get worse. They were wrong.

The breakdown of two electric pumps has left the isolated First Nations community without any water in some of its homes this week, and only a trickle of unchlorinated water in others. Its school has shut down, and nearly 100 people were flown to Thunder Bay on emergency evacuation flights on Sunday, with more evacuations scheduled for Monday evening.

Some residents are already reporting headaches and skin infections from the water, according to Chief Chris Moonias. The federal Liberals have pledged to eliminate all of the 56 remaining boil-water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada by March, 2021. But the prolonged crisis at Neskantaga and other First Nations has raised doubts about whether or not that promise will be met. Continue Reading →

[Aboriginal Issues] Column: Defending a ‘free speech’ hero in Sudbury – by Barbara Kay (Sudbury Star – September 4, 2019)

Last February the Sudbury branch of Chapters abruptly cancelled an upcoming book-signing event. A clue to their decision may be found in the politically incorrect title of the book in question, by area lawyer Peter Best: There Is No Difference: An Argument for the Abolition of the Indian Reserve System and Special Race-based Laws and Entitlements for Canada’s Indians.

Best is one of my free-speech Canadian heroes (full disclosure: I not only considered Best’s book a trenchantly-argued and comprehensively researched dissertation on this most important of national themes, I wrote a positive blurb for the cover).

Few and far between are disinterested scholars of Canada’s aboriginal history who have the tough hide and principled will to publicly depart from the approved Indigenous “nation-to-nation” narrative that keeps the guilt and money flowing, but perpetuates a dysfunctional status quo on many reserves. Continue Reading →

[MMIWG Report] ‘Genocide’ appropriation makes reconciliation harder – by Barbara Kay (National Post – June 12, 2019)

Doubtless many Canadians of Armenian, Rwandan, Bosnian, Ukrainian and Jewish descent were disturbed by the MMIWG report

I won’t pretend to have professional detachment in my reaction to the MMIWG report’s deployment of “genocide” to characterize disproportionate violent crimes suffered by Indigenous women. The word cut to the quick, and Justin Trudeau’s endorsement of its use — slightly delayed while he calculated the political cost of refusing — added salt to the wound.

Yes, a number of Indigenous peoples have been systematically and purposefully annihilated by Europeans in the past. Those tragedies meet an international norm limiting assignment of “genocide” to acts “seeking the biological destruction of all or part of the group.”

But the MMIWG situation falls wildly far of the mark by any objective metric. Apart from any other consideration, the MMIWG inquiry only investigated violence to individual girls and women. Genocides generally feature either bilateral slaughter, or wholesale slaughter of men, reserving women for wholesale rape. Continue Reading →