Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

Alberta Cree official admits dilemma over Gateway as Edmonton hearings begin – by Trish Audette (National Post – January 30, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Edmonton — The lead community-industry liaison for the Enoch Cree First Nation finds herself in a “bind” when it comes to the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

“We were known as the caretakers of the land . . . if you’re going to take something from the land, give something back,” Leigh Ann Ward said Tuesday at hearings of National the Energy Board-Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel in Edmonton. “There is a need for (the pipeline), but what are the environmental impacts?”

At the same time, Ward is interested in the economic benefits of the proposed pipeline, which would carry Alberta bitumen to port in Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded aboard Asia-bound tankers.

“We want it to go ahead because this will ensure employment for our band members,” she said, noting as many as 24 members are already trained to work on pipeline construction. “The benefits are really, really high.” Continue Reading →

Scrutinizing Canada’s pipeline to Beijing – by Terry Glavin (National Post – January 30, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Canada is at the brink of a radical shift in energy and foreign policy. But there has been no debate of any consequence about it — not in the House of Commons, not in the Senate, not in the proceedings of a Royal Commission. Certainly not in the news media.

Here’s what you’ve been missing.

Ostensibly, it’s about the Enbridge project, a plan to pump condensate eastward from the coast to Alberta so that Alberta bitumen can be made fluid enough to be pumped back to the coast at Kitimat — then put into oil tankers to be sent down Douglas Channel and out into the roaring North Pacific, eventually landing in California and Asia.

As recently as last fall, John Bruk, the founding president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and as fervent a booster of trade with China as you’ll meet, was cheering Stephen Harper and wishing him all the best with his trade engagements in the Forbidden City. Continue Reading →

For people of Attawapiskat, hope endures – by Jim Coyle (Toronto Star – January 27, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

ATTAWAPISKAT, ONT.—For more than 20 years, Gilles Bisson has been visiting Attawapiskat, often flying his own small plane up to this remote Cree reserve. As much as any outsider can, he knows all the people, all the issues. Being a smart guy, he also knows how much he doesn’t know.

“Sometimes,” sighs the veteran New Democrat MPP for Timmins-James Bay. “I wonder if I really understand the community any better now than when I started.”

Attawapiskat is basically built on swamp, about 300 kilometres north of Moosonee on the James Bay coast. And the imagery fits. Lately, as the reserve became the new Canadian shorthand for native need, dysfunction and failure, its problems have seemed just as boggy and intractable.

The community is, to be sure, everything it has been portrayed as and more — a world of chronic poverty and dependence, of babies having far too many babies, of cascading generations piling up in shanties, of disheartening self-sabotage, of nepotism and decidedly imperfect governance. Continue Reading →

The [resource] race to China – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – January 28, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

KITIMAT, B.C. — In a climate of growing hostility toward energy industry development across North America, Timothy Wall, president of the Canadian unit of Houston-based Apache Corp., took the road less travelled to the heart of Kitimat.

He flew multiple times to the 9,000-resident town on the northern British Columbia coast to ensure support for his liquefied natural gas plans. He unleashed a team to explain the challenges and the benefits.

He won over the local aboriginals, the Haisla Nation, by meeting with them, acknowledging their rights, making them his landlords. “We had a big push … trying to make this a win-win for everybody,” Mr. Wall, who is originally from Houston, said in an interview.

“We told the stakeholders in the Kitimat area that there would be challenges, but that we would work through them. That with everybody pulling in the right way, we would get there.”

The two-year effort paid off with widespread community support for Apache’s plan to pipe natural gas from fields at the other end of the Rockies, build a terminal down the canal in Bish Cove to liquefy it, and transport it by tanker to Asia. Continue Reading →

Modular home builder eyes First Nation partnerships – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – January 25, 2012)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business  provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business [email protected].

Break out of the wood box

A First Nation-declared housing emergency in the Far North community of Attawapiskat may be a watershed event in rethinking social housing on reserves.

Steve Marshall, vice-president of the Sudbury-based Morris Group of Companies, watched last month’s flurry of media reports of deplorable housing conditions in the James Bay coast community and the federal government’s frantic efforts to find shelter for its residents.

“We’re certainly following it very closely because it’s not something unique to just Attawapiskat…it’s not all that different across most First Nation communities.”

In early December, he was meeting with representatives from seven First Nation communities in Ottawa, all interested in partnering up on modular home products that his company produces. Continue Reading →

Pragmatic PM looks ahead as Chiefs air old grievances – by John Ivison (National Post – January 25, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The Crown-First Nations gathering in Ottawa was a classic example of a failure to communicate.

Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and National Chief Shawn Atleo recognized the history of Canada’s relations with its First Nations as a register of crimes and misfortunes. Both paid lip-service to the idea of unlocking the potential of aboriginal Canadians.

But they talked past each other when it came to moving forward. The Prime Minister said he has learned from the past but wants to focus on the future. Mr. Atleo spent most of his speech re-fighting old battles by pointing out how Canada has failed to live up to its treaty obligations.

Mr. Harper is likely the most pragmatic leader this country has seen since Sir John A. Macdonald, and his interest is in practical solutions that can have impact on the ground. Continue Reading →

Focus first nations dialogue on self-sufficiency – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – January 25, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

History does repeat itself, it would appear.

Pierre Trudeau had his constitutional conferences that involved aboriginal leaders. Brian Mulroney had his too, plus a big session in British Columbia to launch the B.C. Treaty Commission process, which has been a discouraging flop.

Jean Chrétien often went on about how splendidly he got along with the chiefs, having been Indian Affairs minister early in his career. Paul Martin had his Kelowna Accord. Stephen Harper had his reconciliation/apology statement over residential schools and, Tuesday, a day-long session with the chiefs.

Along the way, the national leadership of the Assembly of First Nations has obviously changed, as have the local chiefs. But the dialogue seldom changes, on either side of the table. Sonorous clichés mix with history lessons about “settlers” and their perfidy, lessons are repeated about the “honour of the Crown” and treaties that are/were not respected. Continue Reading →

Harper sees jobs as key to better future for first nations [resource revenue sharing] – by Bill Curry and Gloria Galloway (Globe and Mail – January 25, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA— Stephen Harper is pushing ahead with an agenda focused on practical steps to boost the economies of Canada’s reserves, pointing to a promising new generation of native leaders and entrepreneurs as examples of a brighter future.

More than 400 native chiefs from across the country arrived in Ottawa with wide-ranging demands for the one-day Crown-First Nations Gathering, but the Prime Minister quickly made clear that his priority was the economy.

His message: Canada’s resource sector is expanding, skilled labour is in short supply and the government is ready to make incremental changes to land and education policy that will boost first nations employment. “This is a new day,” he said. “New generations are arising, generations that seek a common vision, that have common goals.”

A growing number of first nations communities are striking their own direct land-management deals with Ottawa that make it easier to create businesses on reserve and attract non-native investment. Continue Reading →

‘An aboriginal uprising is inevitable’ if Harper doesn’t listen, chief threatens – by By Peter O’Neil

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The announcements underscore the Harper government’s
messaging that the best route out of aboriginal poverty
is economic and resource development instead of social
program spending.

OTTAWA — Canada could face an Arab Spring-style “uprising” if Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t give a clear indication in his meeting with aboriginal leaders here Tuesday that he’s prepared to take their concerns seriously, a B.C. native leader warned Monday.

“We must do better. The honour of the Crown and the very integrity of Canada as a nation is at stake,” said Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in a news release issued by the Assembly of First Nations’ B.C. wing.

“Otherwise, an aboriginal uprising is inevitable.”

An estimated 400 chiefs from across Canada, including 47 from British Columbia and 22 from Alberta, have gathered here for their first face-to-face meeting with Harper since the Conservatives formed government in 2006. Continue Reading →

There is hope for Canada’s First Nations – by Ken Coates and Greg Poelzer (National Post – January 24, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

…and a boiling crisis in Ontario. The Ontario government
does not really get the challenges and opportunities of its
north, particularly those of aboriginal communities, and is
currently more preoccupied with resource development than
aboriginal issues. (Ken Coates and Greg Poelzer)

Ken Coates is professor of history at the University of Waterloo. Greg Poelzer is an associate professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s meetings this week with First Nations leaders have a quiet urgency about them. It has been a long while — really not since the final negotiations on the Kelowna Accord late in 2005 — since there was a First Nations meeting of this importance.

The shadow of Attawapiskat — and David Inlet and Kashechewan and other communities in crisis — hangs over this gathering. Conditions on many First Nations reserve communities are appalling and represent a national disgrace. Governments and First Nations leaders alike agree that education and economic opportunity are the keys to long-term revitalization. There is also a consensus that the housing conditions, facilities and infrastructure in many communities need immediate upgrading.

There is less agreement about what to do next. First Nations want more money; the Government of Canada wants greater accountability and transparency. First Nations demand greater autonomy and access to resource revenues. The Government wants improvements in local governance and viable economic strategies, particularly for remote communities. Continue Reading →

Ottawa summit aims to boost first-nations economies – by Bill Curry (Globe and Mail – January 23, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA— Boosting economic activity on aboriginal land will be the dominant focus of Tuesday’s gathering with native chiefs, as Stephen Harper aims to bring first nations on board with his efforts toward increased natural-resources development.

The Prime Minister’s vocal support of a pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific Ocean is just one high-profile example of the economic stakes riding on smooth relations with first nations.

With the government planning a budget with a focus on cuts – as well as long-term job creation and changing demographics – the Tuesday summit in Ottawa, according to government officials, will include a discussion of how aboriginal communities with high unemployment can contribute to development projects that are expected to face shortages of skilled labour.

Continue Reading →

No pipeline under any condition: Haisla – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – January 10, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

KITAMAAT VILLAGE, B.C. — Ellis Ross, the elected chief of the Haisla Nation, hasn’t come lightly to his view of Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The thoughtful leader of the 700-member community on the shore of Douglas Channel has immersed himself in the study of energy markets, risk of spills, and how the energy sector tends to behave when accidents occur. He has also personally been involved in spill response, in jobs in government and in the private sector.

His conclusion?

The pipeline will not be allowed under any condition by the Haisla, the aboriginal group most affected by the $5.5-billion project. It’s not about anti-fossil fuels ideology, environmentalism or dirty oil, said Mr. Ross, who is no green ally and would look at home in any corporate boardroom. Continue Reading →

Two peoples in one city – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (January 9, 2012)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

WHILE issues unique to far northern First Nations unfold in places like Attawapiskat, a different set of challenges confronts aboriginal people who move south and the cities that become their homes.

Thunder Bay has always had native neighbours at Fort William. But the aboriginal population of the city itself grew 22.6 per cent between 2001 and 2006. It is estimated that one in five people living in Thunder Bay today is aboriginal, almost 40 per cent of them under the age of 20.

A recent report from Statistics Canada projects that in 2031, Thunder Bay will be one of five cities with the largest aboriginal populations in the country.

This growth will transform Thunder Bay in many ways. It is already straining services. A report to city council tonight updating the Urban Aboriginal Strategy recommends spending $125,000 to maintain the UAS advisory committee. Continue Reading →

Reality jostles with hope in advance of natives’ meeting with Harper – by Bruce Campion-Smith (Toronto Star – January 02, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

OTTAWA—A northern Ontario aboriginal community in crisis, a high-level summit to tackle chronic problems facing Canada’s First Nations people — and hopes that those problems may finally be solved.

That could be the storyline going into the Jan. 24 meeting between the federal government and Canada’s First Nations leaders.

But that was the backdrop in late 2005, when then-prime minister Paul Martin, premiers and the leaders of five native groups huddled to hammer out the Kelowna Accord, an agreement to invest $5 billion in priorities facing aboriginal communities.

Within a year, that deal was dead, killed by the newly elected Conservative government. Continue Reading →

After Attawapiskat, what? – by Jim Foulds (Toronto Star – December 29, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Jim Foulds is a freelance writer in Thunder Bay. He was the MPP for Port Arthur from 1971 to 1987.

When Canadians first saw the news about Attawapiskat they knew that no matter who is at fault, nobody in Canada should be using a plastic bucket for a toilet and have to dump it outside on a regular basis. Nobody should be calling a shack with mould on the walls home. And nobody in Ontario should be paying $23.50 for six apples and four small bottles of juice.

With little evidence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper charged that the funds that the federal government had transferred to the reserve over several years had been mismanaged. With no consultation he put the band under third party management.

(Earlier this year several flooded towns along the Assiniboine River called for provincial and federal help. Think how the municipalities would have reacted if, immediately after asking for aid, they had been placed under third party management.)

The Harper message to Attawapiskat was clear. Blame the victims; discredit the messenger; and sow doubt in the minds of Canadians. Continue Reading →