Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

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

https://www.thestar.com/

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. Continue Reading →

‘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)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/

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. Continue Reading →

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

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

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. Continue Reading →

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

https://financialpost.com/

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. Continue Reading →

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

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

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. Continue Reading →

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

https://thestarphoenix.com/

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. Continue Reading →

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)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

“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. Continue Reading →

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)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

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. Continue Reading →

Canadians have known about unmarked residential school graves for years. They just kept forgetting – by Terry Glavin (National Post – June 3, 2021)

https://nationalpost.com/

It’s a gut-wrenching and dreadful way to begin the month of June, which was designated Indigenous History Month by Justin Trudeau’s government in 2017, from the Aboriginal History Month declared by Stephen Harper’s government in 2009, which arose from the June 21 Aboriginal History Day declared by Jean Chrétien in 1996, deriving from a proposal from the Assembly of First Nations’ forerunner, the National Indian Brotherhood, in 1982.

The first headlines appeared last week in a local news report in British Columbia’s southern interior, then quickly spread across Canada, and then around the world: “Mass grave of Indigenous children discovered in Kamloops.”

“‘Horrible History’: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada.” “Memorials spread for 215 First Nations children found buried in mass grave in B.C.” Continue Reading →

Murray Sinclair says more remains will be found at residential school sites – by Kristy Kirkup and Mike Hager (Globe and Mail – June 2, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Canada’s residential schools says the country is beginning to see evidence of how many children died at the institutions and that more sites will likely come to light.

Murray Sinclair released a video message on Tuesday evening, his first public remarks since the remains of children were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School last week.

He said survivors of the schools need to understand that it is important to make this evidence public so Canadians can see the magnitude of what happened and the extent of responsibility. This includes what he described as the need to force churches that have documents related to residential schools to disclose them. Continue Reading →

Indigenous leaders say discovery of children’s remains at Kamloops residential school is beginning of national reckoning – by Jana G. Pruden and Kristy Kirkup (Globe and Mail – June 1, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

As the discovery of the remains of 215 children at one of Canada’s largest residential schools continues to reverberate around the country, Indigenous leaders and community members say it is only the beginning of an important – but painful – national reckoning.

“Kamloops is one school,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, referencing the more than 130 residential schools that once operated across the country.

“I’ve said before that the residential school system was a genocide against First Nations people, Indigenous peoples. Here is the evidence. Nobody can deny that.” Continue Reading →

The discovery of a mass grave at a former residential school is just the tip of the iceberg – by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Globe and Mail – May 30, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) is the director of the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and a professor of law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, at the University of British Columbia.

Many Canadians have expressed their horror, shock and sadness at the announcement that the unmarked buried remains of 215 children were discovered in preliminary radar findings last weekend at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

And we should be sad; it is horrific. But it is not shocking. In fact, it is the opposite – a too-common unearthing of the legacy, and enduring reality, of colonialism in Canada. To the degree it is shocking, it is evidence of how much learning there is still to do.

Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, the chief of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, said it best: She called the discovery of the mass grave an “unthinkable loss.” But as she importantly made clear, it was also a known loss – that is, the deaths were undocumented, but the community “had knowledge” of them. Continue Reading →

Nornickel has changed positively, says Taimyr indigenous group – by Thomas Nilsen (The Barents Observer – May 16, 2021)

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/

After the oil spill, we see positive changes in policy and approaches to interaction with the indigenous minorities, says Grigory Dyukarev, head of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North on the Taimyr Peninsula.

A year has passed since a fuel tank owned by a subsidiary of Nornickel ruptured, causing more than 20 thousand tons of diesel to leak into soil and waterways near Norilsk in the Russian Arctic.

The ecological disaster made worldwide headlines and the mining metallurgical giant had to pay a record 146 billion rubles (€1,62 billion) fine to cover environmental damages caused by the spill.

For Nornickel, a company controlled by some of Russia’s richest oligarchs, the spill became a serious wake-up call. They have entered agreements with associations of indigenous peoples of Russia, says Grigory Dyukarev to the Barents Observer. Continue Reading →

Website launches for marine conservation project in James Bay – by Dariya Baiguzhiyeva (Timmins Today – March 9, 2021)

https://www.timminstoday.com/

Wildlands League has launched a website that provides more information about the Mushkegowuk Marine Project.

Last October, Mushkegowuk chiefs approved a motion to have nation-to-nation talks with the federal government about establishing a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) to protect the marine ecosystem in western James Bay and southern Hudson Bay.

The website shows infographics, information about establishing the NMCA and a promotional video featuring Adrian Sutherland’s James Bay track. Continue Reading →

A year after Wet’suwet’en crisis, First Nations’ questions about self-governance have only grown louder in a pandemic – by Wendy Stueck and Brent Jang (Globe and Mail – February 23, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Three small cabins stand next to Lamprey Creek in northern British Columbia, built by Wet’suwet’en Nation members and their supporters over the past year.

The structures occupy the site of a former Indigenous village site where Wet’suwet’en people lived and fished for centuries before the area became a recreation site for campers and anglers, according to Molly Wickham, a member of the nation whose hereditary name is Sleydo’.

But the site is also close to spots where, one year ago, RCMP officers arrested protesters challenging the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Continue Reading →