Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

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 →

Inquiry wasted the chance to right some wrongs for First Nations – by Kelly McParland (National Post – June 7, 2019)

Unmeetable demands and incendiary accusations in place of practical solutions will achieve nothing for Indigenous Canadians

Marion Buller has done no one any favours with her inquiry’s sweeping denunciation of Canada as a society of mass killers.

She’s done nothing to enhance support among Canadians, who will mostly dismiss her report’s most contentious finding out of hand. She has offered no aid to a federal government that would desperately like to do something right on Aboriginal claims but has just been told it’s running an extermination project.

And she certainly hasn’t helped Canada’s First Nations, which are likely to see their place on the national priority list fall deeper into the status of hopeless causes as people conclude there’s simply no means by which their demands and aspirations can be satisfied. Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: Is Canada committing genocide? That doesn’t add up (Globe and Mail – June 5, 2019)

The national commission investigating the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls came to the conclusion this week that Canada is engaged in “nothing less than [a] deliberate, often covert campaign of genocide.”

Those are the words of the chief commissioner, Marion Buller, who was the first Indigenous woman appointed as a Provincial Court judge in British Columbia.

She was not speaking metaphorically: Ms. Buller and her commission are accusing Canada of being in the act of committing one of the most reviled crimes in history. That has inevitably turned the release of their report into a legal and linguistic debate that will do nothing to improve the lives of Indigenous women and girls. Continue Reading →

At MMIW report’s heart, a contradiction that’s impossible to ignore – by John Ivison (National Post – June 5, 2019)

After $92 million spent, the commissioners don’t know who is committing violence against women — mainly because they didn’t try to find out

The reception afforded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report into the residential school system four years ago was very different to that which this week greeted the final report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

There was widespread recognition across Canadian society that the residential schools were a dark stain on the nation’s history. Even when TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair said Canada had perpetuated a “cultural genocide,” on the grounds families were disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values, there was comparatively little fuss.

The mood was one of reconciliation — Sinclair called on the country to unite in an effort to build better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Continue Reading →

First Nation sues for title to massive, scenic swath of Ontario and $90B as landmark trial starts – by Adrian Humphreys (National Post – April 26, 2019)

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation claims ownership of government land across the entire Bruce Peninsula and a legally unique claim for title over the ‘water territory’ around it

TORONTO — A massive Aboriginal claim over some of the most picturesque geography in Ontario triggered a landmark trial Thursday, with a large contingent of lawyers politely starting a delicate dance over contentious issues of land, treaty rights and money.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation is pressing a claim to ownership of government land across the entire Bruce Peninsula and a legally unique claim for Aboriginal title over the “water territory” around it — stretching from the international boundary with the United States in Lake Huron across to Georgian Bay — along with compensation that could amount, by their accounting, to $90 billion.

A passel of more than 20 lawyers hauled suitcases and boxes filled with paperwork into court; laptops were connected to projection screens and huge maps unfurled as dozens of observers gathered in a stately courthouse in downtown Toronto. Continue Reading →

PM scores a direct hit on the core of Brand Trudeau – by Matt Gurney (National Post – March 29, 2019)

Wednesday night’s debacle had nothing to do with SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau was in a safe Liberal space. And he screwed it up

The prime minister who we saw Wednesday night is about as far from the Justin Trudeau who campaigned for the top job in 2015 as can be imagined.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a true believer or one who thinks the prime minister’s entire public persona is a carefully created political act. In either case, you’d be baffled after the performance.

Trudeau was in Toronto, at the gorgeous downtown Omni King Edward Hotel, for a meeting with top Liberal donors. The event was for members of the so-called Laurier Club — those Liberal supporters who donate the maximum to the party each year. If you’re under 35, $750 a year gets you into the club. Continue Reading →

[Aboriginal Northern Reserve/Urban Migration] OPINION: A tale of two refugees: Canada is facing two refugee crises, not one – by Charles Cirtwill (Northern Ontario Business – March 20, 2019)

Canada is facing two refugee crises, not one. Our responses are similar, but by no means identical, and they are demonstrably not equally effective. These thoughts struck me as I listened to an exchange at the recent immigration forum held in Thunder Bay.

The exchange was between one of the panellists and one of the Indigenous singers who had been invited to set the tone for the day – one of welcoming and reflection.

The panellist was a recent refugee arrival, a new homeowner, and was presented as a case study for successful emergency immigration to Canada. He spoke about the important role his host family played in helping his family learn about their new community. Continue Reading →

‘A never-ending cycle unless you break it’: Snotty Nose Rez Kids push against racism – by David Friend (Canadian Press/City News – March 12, 2019)

TORONTO — Snotty Nose Rez Kids rappers Darren Metz and Quinton Nyce weren’t equipped as children to analyze the vicious Indigenous stereotypes and racist caricatures flashing on their TV screens.

Like many kids of the late 1990s, they were raised on a steady diet of Disney classics while living in Kitamaat Village on Haisla Nation in northwest B.C. Some of those animated movies sent clear negative messages about their identities that echoed throughout the community.

“Peter Pan” presented Native Americans as “savages” who spoke in monosyllables, while “Pocahontas” romanticized colonialism by framing it against a love story. Metz and Nyce remember how elders rarely questioned the ways Hollywood movies taught the Indigenous youth to devalue themselves. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Our national shame: The racism inherent in our First Nations water crisis – by Gary Mason (Globe and Mail – January 30, 2019)

Eight years ago, the state government in Michigan was forced to take over the financial affairs of the city of Flint, which had fallen on hard times and been run into the ground through ineptitude and gross mismanagement.

In what was deemed a cost-saving move, officials decided to build a new pipeline to deliver water from Lake Huron. Meantime, the city turned to the Flint River as its source.

Not long after the switch, residents began noticing something odd with the water: It looked, smelled and tasted funny. It would later be determined that it contained dangerous levels of lead, which can, and did, lead to a plethora of health issues. Twelve people died after more than 80 people were infected with Legionnaires’ disease. Continue Reading →