Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

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 →

[Neskantaga FN] Not a drop to drink – by Kyle Edwards (MACLEAN’S Magazine – January 2019)

On a November afternoon, Casey Moonias, a 26-year-old mother of three, places firewood in her stove and soon it gives off the warmth and smell of charred lumber. The inside of her home is small and overcrowded with toys and piles of clothes.

Outside, like many houses on the Neskantaga First Nation, about 450 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., a black-and-white husky is curled up in the snow by the doorsteps. After about an hour, when the house is warm enough, Moonias fills an electric kettle from a nearby jug, eschewing the water from her tap. Her community has had unsafe water for nearly as long as she’s been alive—unsafe not only for drinking but also, many residents say, for bathing. And this is bath time.

The day before, Ashley Sakanee, Moonias’s partner, fetched three plastic jugs of clean water, each holding four litres, from the community’s reverse-osmosis machine, a laborious process that requires him to trudge 10 minutes down an icy road to the local hotel to fill up, then pull the jugs back on a sled. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Marten Falls First Nation Selects AECOM to Conduct Road Study and Environmental Assessment for new All-Season Road

THUNDER BAY, ON, Nov. 22, 2018 /CNW/ – Marten Falls First Nation and Ontario announced the agreement to study a long-awaited community access road on August 21, 2017. Since then, Marten Falls has entered into a voluntary agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) and Preliminary Design (PD) for the proposed community access road from Marten Falls First Nation going south to existing provincial highways.

The First Nation has established a project team and conducted one field season of baseline surveys; but to carry out the full suite of technical services and studies, and other steps within the EA process, Marten Falls has brought on AECOM.

This global engineering firm provides design, consulting, construction, and management services. AECOM will consult with Marten Falls and neighbouring communities, perform data collection, prepare technical studies and all documents associated with the project, to complete the EA process. Continue Reading →

The First Entrepreneurs: Income of First Nations with resource deals exceed national averages – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – November 6, 2018)

The report found that First Nations people working in the mining sector
had a median 2016 annual income of $91,572, double the nationwide First
Nations median of $43,812 per year, and well above the $53,648 per year
for non-Indigenous people.

Similarly, First Nations members working in the oil and gas sector earned
close to three times the average personal income of First Nations people
across the country, earning an average of nearly $150,000 in 2016,
compared with $51,500 outside the industry.

Reconciliation is not just atoning for past misdeeds but there also needs to be economic reconciliation, according to the Montreal Economic Institute

CALGARY — A dramatic change in First Nations’ approaches to natural resources development has led, in certain cases, to rising incomes in Indigenous communities where members now out-earn national averages.

The Montreal Economic Institute found in a study released Tuesday that First Nations communities and members involved in resource development earn multiples of what both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people earn in other industries. Continue Reading →

Why the B.C. First Nation with the most on the line is going to bat for Trans Mountain – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – April 27, 2018)

Chief Nathan Matthew of the Simpcw First Nation in British Columbia has had enough that no one in government, the green lobby, or among First Nations opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has ever talked to him about why his community stands behind the project.

The 700-member Simpcw First Nation is one of 33 bands in B.C. that want the $7.4 billion expansion to go ahead. Another 10 bands in Alberta also support the project.

Yet the Simpcw have more on the line than the vast majority of those who have an opinion. One third of the pipeline traverses its traditional lands in the B.C. interior, stretching from Jasper to Barriere, which means it has the greatest land exposure to the project. Continue Reading →