DEFENDING OUR SOVEREIGNTY

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rise of the Eastern Empire: Lavallee's Plan to Dismantle the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

This blog is about CAP's demise and to ask whether anyone cares? I would love to hear from folks about this blog and CAP in general. I worried about using "Congress of Aboriginal Peoples" as the title to this blog because I assumed that most of you would be thinking "Who?". Seriously though, some of you may be wondering what the heck has happened to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). In my last blog, I wrote that they have essentially fallen off the face of the earth.

http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2010/11/slow-painful-death-of-cap-can-it-be.html

We (those who live off-reserve in Canada) do not ever hear from CAP or its President Betty-Ann Lavallee in the media, in the community, or anywhere else for that matter. On APTN's InFocus (Jan.21, 2011 edition), the political panel talked about how irrelevant organizations like CAP are when they do not reach out to the people they claim to represent.

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/01/24/january-21-2011/

Aside from CAP's lack of engagement with the substantial Aboriginal population that lives off-reserve in Canada (50% of total Aboriginal population), CAP's current President is taking the organization on a nosedive into oblivion and if those who care about the organization don't do something soon, it could be gone forever. Many of you who have contacted me have indicated that it is your opinion that President Lavallee simply doesn't have the skills or capacity to lead a national organization because as many have commented, she nearly tanked her own provincial organization in New Brunswick - the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC) and at the very least, made it politically irrelevant.

http://www.nbapc.org/

I appreciate the feedback from grassroots folks and I can definitely relate. In fact, I used to be a member of the NBAPC and watched the organization grow over the last 40 years and have actually seen it when it was a strong political voice and engaged with the off-reserve community. Sadly, I have also seen it in the last 10-15 years slowly become less effective as a political voice, less engaged with the off-reserve Aboriginal people and become an elite club that would rather spend money on lawyers against their own membership than use those lawyers to defend our Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Why has the NBAPC gone downhill after such a strong history? Many of you have commented that the reason is Lavallee's poor leadership skills, her lack of knowledge on Aboriginal issues, her lack of connection to our First Nation communities, her lack of political experience, and some have even suggested that she has other, more sinister motives. While I respect everyone's opinions, I always base my opinions on fact versus conjecture, but in this case, they proved to be one in the same.

I personally can speak to a time when the mood of the community was to have a non-confidence vote and remove Lavallee as President of NBAPC, so instead of dealing with the issue, she skipped the Annual General Meeting (AGM). At subsequent meetings, she claimed that she could not be removed as President because she was an employee of NBAPC and not a political leader. Her lawyer started appearing at more and more meetings, which had the effect (for many) of effectively silencing them.

If that does not say it all, I don't know what does. Our people elect leaders to speak for them, not to be lead by lawyers, consultants, or staff. The situation had become so bad, many people simply stopped participating. I for one, resigned as a member so that I could exercise my voice without fear of retaliation.

AGMs became more predicatible as Lavallee did not report on significant accomplishments she made for NBAPC each year, instead we got a copy of her calendar which said which days she was in the office and which days she was out sick. As members started to speak out, ask questions and demand more, Lavallee started to attend AGMs and board meetings with her lawyer.

We knew then that there was no getting rid of her unless she left voluntarily. Then when Patrick Brazeau jumped ship to become a conservative Senator, Lavallee set her sights on CAP. As I explained in my last blog, many off-reserve folks thought that the only way to get rid of her in NB was to vote her in as President of CAP, because CAP's Constitution and By-laws had a specific provision that would allow votes of non-confidence.

http://www.abo-peoples.org/CAP/About/CAP_ByLaws_Constitution_2007.pdf

As expected, Lavallee was voted in as President and CAP has been dying a slow death ever since. However, while I used to think it was a capacity issue: poor leadership skills and a lack of knowledge and experience - I was shocked to find out it was her plan all along. It is no accident that CAP is dying, in fact when Lavallee was President of the NBAPC AND the Vice-President of CAP, she called for CAP to be dismantled!

It gets worse than this - not only did she want CAP to be dismantled, but she wanted the financial support to be funnelled back east to support her organization and that of those affiliated with the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council (MAPC) an organization that represents the NBAPC, Native Council of Nova Scotia (NCNS) and the Native Council of PEI (NCPEI).

http://www.ikanawtiket.ca/

How do I know this? Well, today I was sent a copy of a letter dated May 28, 2009 that was addressed to Fred Caron, ADM of the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, and signed by Lavallee when she was President of NBAPC and Vice-President of CAP. It is not posted online anywhere, so I will reproduce the text below (all the grammar and spelling mistakes are from the letter itself):

"As you know, for many years now we have discussed the idea of ways we could make the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council more recognized as a real credible organization. In the East, we have run it so far as a formal group but now I think it is the right time to go further and officially recognize the important role it plays for Aboriginal people here in Eastern Canada.

It is the right time to do this now when you consider the problems that CAP is facing now as a National organization. We seen the failure of OMAA in 2005 and also the addition of some affiliates in the West that are very questionable.

We are very concerned that the new affiliates in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan still don't get core funding and do not have real membership. This hurts the national organization in terms of credibility as well as reputation and it is not fair for the Eastern PTO's. We should not have to suffer because these groups cannot get their organizations running effectively.

Maybe the time has come to turn away from CAP and to regroup around the east where the affiliates are running very well and have real and successful operations. We have a long and successful history compared to those in the West and we play by the rules. I am worried that if we continue to be a part of a national organization with serious and many debt and governance problems that other PTOs have created we in the East will ultimately be severely affected."

Not only was Lavallee trying to tank CAP when she was one of its provincial affiliates, but according to the Board, she was also the Vice-President of CAP at the time. I wonder if Brazeau was aware he was being stabbed in the back? That letter alone should have prevented her from running for the position as President of CAP given her obvious bias towards tanking it. It should also be at the top of the list for bringing about an immediate vote of non-confidence.

However, the issue that I am most concerned about regarding Lavallee, relates to the lack of voice by the grass roots people. They say that Lavallee NEVER consulted with her membership in NB about writing such a letter or taking such a position. Other members from other affiliates say they were never consulted by her keeping in mind she was the Vice-President at the time. To call for the end of the NBAPC's national organization should have been an agenda item at an AGM, it not a special consultation meeting in and of itself. I would also venture to guess that this should have been an agenda item at CAP's own board meeting.

What also strikes me is the hypocrisy of the letter. As former Vice-President and board member of CAP, it was her job to support the other affiliates and to direct resources towards assisting the other affiliates in obtaining core funding so that they could build capacity. Currently, as the President of CAP, the buck stops with her. If her affiliates are struggling, it is her job as a leader to make assisting those affiliates her number one priority. Instead, Board members report that she takes trips to places like Bolivia or the Olympics instead of taking care of what appears to be urgent business at CAP.

If CAP is failing, Lavallee need only point the finger at one person - herself, seeing as she is the President, Chief AND CEO of CAP.

I am told by members of the Board, that at CAP's recent governance training, the person who conducted the training was surprised that Lavallee was the President, Chief and CEO of CAP. They felt that this was highly unusual and apparently the discussion centred on the fact that it felt like a dictatorship. CAP has apparently mixed both the political side of the house with the administrative side which means that CAP mixes politics and business. I am also told that all employees must report to her and that politics often factors into daily administrative decisions. This might be one of the reasons why there are pending lawsuits against CAP - but I can't say for sure as I don't have copies of those lawsuits.

I am further told by various Board members that the level of dysfunction within CAP has increased ten-fold as Lavallee has been the centre of much in-fighting among the board. I have copies of e-mails and letters from Lavallee and the NBAPC President Kim McKinley which are appear to be particularly targeted at certain affiliates. If you read the above letter, it is no surprise that Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan bear the brunt of Lavallee's scorn.

The hypocrisy continues at the financial level as well. At CAP's last AGM it was reported to the members that CAP was in a major deficit of over $1.2 million dollars. Yet, no debt reduction strategy was presented to the AGM. Some board members of CAP estimate that CAP's deficit may well be close to $2 million dollars at this point. Assuming for a minute that the deficit is "only" $1.2 million, then CAP has a great deal of work to do to get back on track. There is no way to tell for sure, as CAP's website link to its "financial reports" does not contain any information:

http://www.abo-peoples.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=35

How has CAP done this? Well, aside from Lavallee's trips to Bolivia and the Olympics, the board reports that she also gave herself a salary increase. While she wanted a much bigger increase, she did come away with a significant raise. Similarly, at Christmas time, the Board indicates that she gave herself a nice bonus of $1000 dollars and gave staff members all $500. At the same time, I had former staff contacting me saying they were being laid off due to budgetary issues. Something doesn't add up in CAP's math?

I am sure members of CAP's affiliates will be left wondering how Lavallee could possibly justify her own base salary given her lack of productivity for CAP, let alone salary increases, trips, and bonuses when CAP is in such serious financial troubles.

The Native Council of Canada used to mean something. It was part of the constitutional talks and intervened on many important matters for Aboriginal peoples living off reserve. Its name change to CAP has not brought with it a strong vision for uniting its affiliates across the country, nor has it engaged with the people who need it most - the off-reserve grass roots people. Instead, Lavallee has transported her dysfunctional, anti-CAP form of leadership from NB to Ottawa, and the grass roots people are paying the price.

Based on the information that I have been receiving about its internal dysfunction, I can only guess that CAP is slowly imploding - but not due to a lack of capacity. In fact, some might argue that this sad situation is not fate, but is being actively promoted by its own President - Betty-Ann Lavallee. In December 2010, CAP sent a letter to the Indigenous Peoples Confederacy (CAP's Manitoba affiliate) and said they were no longer in good standing with CAP. It appears as though CAP may be doing the same thing to Saskatchewan and one wonders if OACP is next? Some fear that Lavallee is well on the way to seeing her stated goal to fruition - the end of CAP and the rise of her Eastern Empire.

Lavallee: "the time has come to turn away from CAP and to regroup around the East"

I am not sure what the answer is, but surely it must involve the grass roots shaking the rotten apples from the tree and getting their organization back to where it used to be. I'd be happy to hear any feedback about the information in this blog or whether anyone cares about CAP anymore.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jordan's Principle and Standing Up for Those Who Can't

Ok, I have to get back to dealing with the real issues. I can't waste any more time on the Senator. I feel confident that our First Nations leaders on and off reserve will ensure that no one speaks on our behalf who hasn't been chosen to do so by our people. Also, I have a huge family who always supports me but doesn't hesitate to remind me to stay focused. They clearly don't want me to stoop to his level and give him any more fame than he already has. There are far too many important issues that need to be addressed and I love my family for keeping me on the right path. So, back to it...

Recently, I attended a conference full of amazing Indigenous women leaders in Newfoundland. Just being a part of their event was a humbling experience for me. Attending gatherings of strong Indigenous women like this always reminds me of how little I know and how much I have to learn. Although I had travelled to Newfoundland feeling under the weather and a little stressed out from my recent workload, when I arrived in that room, I could literally feel the energy of these women surrounding me.

I was awed by their dedication to their community despite their personal struggles; their supportive words to one another, despite their own lack of support from others; and their warmth and welcoming to me as a non-Islander, despite their personal histories of trauma and loss. They reminded me that despite our differences, we have to keep our eye on the ball, so to speak, and focus on our communities. There are a good number of people who need our help right now and they don't have the same capacity as we do to advocate on their own behalf. So, when one of the ladies asked me what Jordan's principle was, I agreed to blog about it so that we'd all know what it was and how we can all put pressure on federal and provincial governments to finally implement it.

Jordan River Anderson was a small boy who was a member of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. He was born with some serious health issues and required extensive hospital care. When he was two years old, his doctors determined that he was well enough to go home so long as his house was properly outfitted for his needs and he had care specific to his needs.

It was at this point that the federal and provincial government re-engaged in their decades old debate over who should pay for the health costs associated with caring for little Jordan. Canada argued that health care was provincial jurisdiction and the province argued that status Indians living on reserve were federal jurisdiction. Because neither government would agree to pay for Jordan's health care costs to live at home with his family, this little boy was forced to stay in the hospital for the next two and half years until he passed away. His family never got to take him home.

For anyone who does not understand what exactly the jurisdictional issue is, here is a mini-overview. Our Constitution Act, 1867 sets out the specific areas of power that the federal and provincial governments will have in Canada. Basically, what this means is that each government has complete power or jurisdiction within their specific areas. These specific areas of jurisdiction are set out in section 91 (for the federal government) and section 92 (for the provincial governments). This means that no government can interfere in the jurisdiction of another. Here is a link to the Constitution Act, 1867:

http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/const/const1867.html

So, how does this all apply to Jordan's principle? Well, under section 91(24) the federal government has jurisdiction (sometimes referred to as responsibility) over "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians". This is one of the reasons why Canada deals directly with First Nations.

On the other hand, the provinces have jurisdiction over health of residents in the province by virtue of section 92(7). So, the jurisdictional dispute arises when Canada argues that it should not pay for the health costs of status Indians because health is the responsibility of the province and the province argues that it should not pay for the health costs of status Indians that live on reserve because that is federal jurisdiction. The federal and provincial governments have been locked in this stalemate for decades on health and other similar issues which negatively impacts vital services to First Nations.

So, back to Jordan's principle. Jordan's family explains that had Jordan been a non-Indian living in downtown Winnipeg, the provincial government would have paid for his health care costs. They feel that the only reason why their son was left to die in the hospital was because he was an Indian. Whether or not this is the case (and it certainly appears to be so), the fact that the family feels this way mandates that we consider their situation carefully. In fact, many politicians did consider the issue carefully and were so horrified by this state of affairs for status Indians living on reserve that NDP MP Jean Crowder made a motion in the House of Commons to adopt what she called "Jordan's Principle" which is a "child first" principle that would require that no First Nations child ever be denied health or other vital social services again.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society explains that the principle "calls on the government of first contact to pay for services for the child and then seek reimbursement later so the child does not get tragically caught in the middle of government red tape. Jordan’s Principle applies to ALL government services and must be adopted, and fully implemented by the Government of Canada and all provinces and territories."

This is the link to their website which provides a great deal more information about the issue:

http://www.fncfcs.com/jordans-principle

On December 12, 2007, by Private Member's Motion 296 NDP MP Jean Crowder received unanimous support for the following principle: "in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately adopt a child-first principle, based on Jordan's Principle, to resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of First Nations children". This means that NDP, Liberal AND Conservative MPs all supported the principle. Over three years have passed since the adoption of this principle and the federal and provincial governments have been slow to actually implement it. Both the Liberals and NDP have been calling on the federal government to implement the principle, but the conservatives continue to stall.

The Assembly of First Nations as well as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and others have also called on the federal and provincial governments to implement the principle. Recently, National Chief of the AFN, Shawn Atleo had this to say:

"First Nation children are too often denied health services and other services available to other children in Canada... Jordan's Principle reminds us that no child should be denied health or medical services because of jurisdictional disputes between federal and provincial/territorial governments. It has now been six years since the tragic death of Jordan Anderson, and we continue to call on all governments to work with First Nations to ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan's Principle, including support for the Declaration on Action for the Implementation of Jordan's Principle as put forth by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. We can all agree that every child deserves respect, care and equitable treatment and First Nations children must not be treated differently."
See the following link for more information from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN):

http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/assembly-of-first-nations-supports-manitoba-chiefs-declaration-for-the-impl

Similarly, while some provinces have taken steps to implement the principle, some have not. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) explains on their website that: "The federal government is at various stages of discussion on Jordan's Principle with the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Newfoundland and British Columbia." So, in other words, the majority of governments in Canada have not yet implemented Jordan's Principle.

This link will take you to INAC's website:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/mr/nr/s-d2009/bk000000451-eng.asp

The issue have received a good deal of media attention lately, but sadly, very little action on the federal government's part. What follows are some links to recent media stories on the issue:

Chiefs draw attention to lack of action on Jordan's Principle:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Chiefs-draw-attention-to-lack-of-action-on-Jordans-Principle-115138379.html

Jordan's Principle, governments' paralysis

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/177/4/321

What follows here are links to several videos which focused on Jordan's Principle:

Jordan's Bill:

http://watch.ctv.ca/news/top-picks/jordans-principle/#clip411887

APTN's In Focus - Jordan's Principle (click video on upper right hand side)

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/category/infocus/

The most recent news coverage of this issue was on APTN National News during their weekly political panel with federal MPs and Senators. This video highlights the very problem that Jordan's principle was meant to address - arguing over jurisdiction:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/02/11/aptns-political-panel-on-jordans-principle/

For those who can't access the video, here is a brief overview of the panel:

Interviewed in this panel was conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and NDP MP Jean Crowder. Crowder explained that despite the fact that the principle was passed unanimously in the House of Commons by all political parties, the conservative government has failed to take a leadership role in implementing it. While Manitoba has implemented the principle, it has done so in a narrow way. Saskatchewan only has an interim agreement which is also narrow. British Columbia (BC) does not have an agreement yet and has criticized the conservative government for taking far too narrow an approach to implementation.

Crowder raised some very key points:

(1) First Nations children do NOT receive the same standard of health care as Canadians;
(2) First Nations parents are forced to surrender their children to provincial foster care if they can't access the health funds they need; and
(3) This situation is a violation of their basic human rights.

Brazeau's response was that although these are sad stories, this amounts to a jurisdictional issue and that health care is "provincial jurisdiction".

Crowder explained that in fact, Jordan's families and other families at Norway House Cree Nation live ON reserve and are "clearly" federal jurisdiction. But more importantly, Jordan's principle says to put the children first and fight about the money later.

When asked why Canada can't foot the bill and work out the details later, Brazeau completely dodges the issue and claims that there is partisan politics being played here. He goes on to say that while they want to put the needs of the child first, that health care is provincial jurisdiction. Then in a bizarre twist, Brazeau cautioned all Canadians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to not "become victims of our own health care system".

I am not sure anyone quite knows what Brazeau was talking about, but Crowder clarified that there is no partisan politics involved here because ALL political parties unanimously supported Jordan's principle in the House of Commons, including the conservatives.

Crowder's main point was that if there was political will on the part of the federal and provincial governments to actually put children before politics, then none of them would be having the discussion. I think she makes a good point given the fact that the motion was passed back in 2007.

Brazeau turned the discussion back to jurisdiction and said that Crowder should be directing her concerns back to the provinces and not the federal government. I almost could not believe what I was hearing. It is as if Brazeau has no understanding of what Jordan's principle says or means. The whole purpose of the principle was to avoid the argument over who has jurisdiction and make it a priority to provide health care to First Nations children.

Crowder was asked why the provinces seem to be narrowing down the scope of Jordan's principle from one that includes all services to one which only covers health care. She explained that in BC, it is the federal government that has narrowed the principle to include only those children with complex medical needs. Similarly, First Nations in Manitoba are not happy with how the federal government has narrowed the definition.

If you watch the video a couple of times, like I did, I couldn't help but get the feeling there were two separate conversations happening: one by Crowder that focused on implementing Jordan's principle, and one by Brazeau which defaulted to the old jurisdictional arguments that this principle was meant to address.

At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to stand up for those children who can't stand up for themselves. Parents with sick children are so focused on caring for their children that we cannot expect them to shoulder this burden alone. Whether or not you have kids, the caring and protection of our children is vital to not only the health of those children, but the health and well-being of their families, communities and Nations.

I would ask that all my readers write to all the MPs and demand that they put their money where there mouth is and MAKE CHILDREN FIRST!!! You don't have to write a long letter, it can be as as simple as an email asking that all governments implement Jordan's principle right away.

Here are the e-mail addresses:

To contact Liberal MPs - LIBMEM@parl.gc.ca

To contact Bloc MPs - BQMEM@parl.gc.ca

To contact Conservative MPs - CPCMEM@parl.gc.ca

To contact NDP MPs - NDPMEM@parl.gc.ca

Please take five minutes and send an e-mail to the federal government and tell them we have waited long enough for health care for our children. Then, if you have another five minutes, write to your provincial or territorial MP as well.

Thank you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Brazeau's Tiresome Campaign Against Chiefs Will Not Maintain His 15 Minutes of Fame

Although my blog site already says this, I have to repeat it for the small handful of Brazeau fans that exist in Canada. This blog and every single word contained therein represents my own personal opinions and views as an Indigenous person. It does not represent legal advice nor should it be relied on as such. This blog, as with all others, represents my "fair comment", on a wide range of legal and political issues, i.e., my honestly-held, personal opinions which I have based on personal experiences, media reports, Senate documents, as well as other discussions and events that have been relayed to me by Indigenous people all over this country.

There is no malice in any of my blogs and, in fact, they are designed to engage with other Indigenous Peoples and to think critically about our state of affairs. This blog also does not hurt his "reputation" for his reputation, as has been relayed to me by Indigenous people, media and himself others confirms that he is an Indigenous person (some would argue used to be) who obtained his fame and political power by trashing Chiefs.

Senator Patrick Brazeau went from obscurity to enemy number one in Indian country because of his singular focus on trashing First Nations and Chiefs at every public opportunity. I have seen him on TV, quoted in newspapers, speaking in the Senate, heard his videos, and even been present in public forums where he literally trashes Chiefs as though such negativity and stereotypes were acceptable or even helpful in the debate. Whenever he loses some of the limelight, he will come up with his own bizarre home video to share with the public to again stir up some controversy and of course, publicity for himself.

Prior to becoming a hand-selected conservative Senator, Brazeau was the President of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) for a very short period of time. I say President, because although he called himself "Chief", he certainly did nothing to earn that title and in fact so often trashed Chiefs, I often wondered why he was so desperate to be called Chief? He only became President by default when the former one stepped down. He served out that term and was elected again amongst much controversy and several political plots to have him removed as President shortly thereafter - of course none of that ever made the media.

He appeared to use his very limited time as President to get as much media attention for himself as possible and the common theme was to stereotype First Nations and Chiefs in negative ways. This of course caught the attention of the conservatives, whose former political advisor was none other than Tom Flanagan - the poster boy for promoting the assimilation of First Nations. There is no better way to sell an otherwise objectionable or unconscionable idea than to get an Indian to do it. Here is where Brazeau found his niche.

By doing conservative bidding, he would get his media fame and make up for his failed modelling career and his failed attempt to become a real lawyer. We have to keep in mind that Brazeau brought no real political experience to the table when he became the President of CAP. He was a self-described former model and had completed some law school courses. Oh, and I can't forget - he was also allegedly a whiz in martial arts. How that ever qualified him to try to lead a national Aboriginal organization is beyond me.

FORMER MODEL: "PRESENTABLE FACE" FOR CAP:

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=3f7827a1-d524-4c56-a6f4-d86bb1aada68

I think the above article may have unknowingly hit the nail on the head about where Brazeau gets his qualifications - it could be unresolved anger and jealousy for having lived a "rock's throw" away from the reserve and perhaps is why he is so bent on "throwing a few" rocks at First Nations. First Nations are not to blame for his living as a non-status Indian for part of his life and growing up off reserve. We all know that is Canada's legacy.

There is also a saying - don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house. While Brazeau clamored for media attention through throwing rocks at chiefs, he forgot to look in his own backyard. There are many media sources which say that Brazeau left CAP in financial and administrative shambles, that he had originally wanted to double-dip, i.e. get a 6-figure salary from CAP and a 6-figure salary from the Senate, that he was not paying his child support and even worse, that several former employees had filed sexual harassment complaints against him. Here are some links to related media reports:

SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST BRAZEAU

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/07/brazeau-senate.html

BRAZEAU LAGGED ON $100 CHILD SUPPORT

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/585027

BRAZEAU WANTED BOTH JOBS AND BOTH SALARIES

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/568616

SECOND WOMAN FILES SEXUAL HARASSMENT AGAINST BRAZEAU

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/568616

BRAZEAU CHOOSES STAFF ALLEGED AS "OFFICE DRINKERS"

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20090208/senator_brazeau_090208/

BRAZEAU DEFENDS DRIVING PORCHE AND REPRESENTING IMPOVERISHED

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20090208/senator_brazeau_090208/

Certainly, this is not the kind of resume I would want from a person that would represent me in the Senate.

In addition, the current President of CAP, Betty-Ann Lavallee has indicated that Brazeau is suing her and CAP for speaking out publicly about Brazeau. I have not seen the actual Statement of Claim, so I can't provide any details. When interviewed, Brazeau always tries to shift the focus on his critics, as if they just make these things up. Some elders have indicated their view that by not taking responsibility for any of his actions, Brazeau cannot ever grow and become a better person.

If we are to believe what is reported in the media about the horrible mess that CAP's finances were left in after Brazeau's reign, then we start to get a picture about his real talents or lack thereof.

CAP's ACCOUNTS FROZEN:

http://media.knet.ca/node/2089

On a more personal note, I used to be a member of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC), which is a provincial affiliate of CAP. I used to attend their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and one year Brazeau, then President of CAP attended to give a speech to the delegates. Instead of focusing on the severe poverty in off-reserve Aboriginal communities, lack of housing, jobs, and recognition of rights, his mantra was "Down with the Chiefs"! I believe that session was taped, but I never saw it ever reproduced. There were many of us sitting in the audience in absolute shock as he loudly and passionately shouted "Down with the Chiefs".

He completely ignored the fact that although the NBAPC represented off-reserve Aboriginal peoples, many of them still had band membership with their home communities; many had close relations with their families and friends on reserve, and more still worked in solidarity with their communities, including their chiefs, to bring about change for their people. His stereotyping of all chiefs as bad, not only hurt the hearts and souls of the people he spoke to, but he betrayed the very position with which he occupied - to be a spokesperson of the people he represented. No one in my family or circle of friends and relations held such negative, stereotypical views about our leaders - so I was left who the heck was he representing?

From that point on, every time I saw him in the media, he was literally parroting everything that the Minister of Indian Affairs or conservative MPs had to say about Aboriginal peoples. At one of the last AGMs of CAP that he ever attended during his short reign, one of the delegates stood up and turned his back to Brazeau, when Brazeau got up to address the delegation. In our tradition, this is our way of saying that the person being shunned is no longer considered an Indigenous person which belongs to the community. No one yelled or challenged Brazeau because from that point on, as far as many were concerned, he was no longer a part of the Indigenous community.

It was not long after that, that Brazeau was appointed to the Senate where he has been given a forum to continue trashing our communities through our leaders. Many people across the country who write to me, call or meet me, feel that Brazeau has single-handedly set back all the public education that has been done over the last 20 years to overcome the racist stereotypes about First Nations. Now, thanks to Brazeau and other right-wing groups and academics, it has become acceptable again to publicly insult, stereotype, and humiliate our people.

The really sad thing about Brazeau's situation is that he was so young and inexperienced that he could not see how easily he was manipulated and used by the conservatives. What was so clear to those of us who were more experienced and used to the kinds of political games and divide and conquer methods used by governments, was beyond Brazeau's comprehension. Instead of seeking advice and guidance from the many experienced leaders in our communities - some of whom have done amazing things for their communities, he acted as if he had all the answers. It was pitiful to watch, especially since it is so rare for an Indigenous person to be so completely "converted".

Despite all this, what it comes down to at the end of the day is personal responsibility. Many elders have told me that Brazeau had a choice: he could be a spokesperson for his people or for himself and it appears as though he chose the latter. According to the elders, he therefore has to accept full responsibility for all the damage he has done and is doing in his pursuit of fame and power. I have learned over the years that our elders' wisdom should not be discounted lightly. Even if Brazeau would take time to consider the criticism that is levelled against him, he might be forgiven for ignoring it. Yet he seems to relish in the spotlight and use those opportunities to further insult and stereotype our leaders and in so doing, our communities and future generations.

I have written previously about my concerns over Brazeau's use of Senate insignia and meeting rooms to film his bizarre videos criticizing chiefs, his uninformed opinions on our communities, and the disrespectful way he talks about our leaders. Many experienced Senators work on various issues outside of the Senate to support important community issues - but they do so in a helpful, positive way. Using the resources of the Senate to vilify, even if only by implication, a cultural group that is already the most vulnerable group in society, goes well beyond what is conduct expected of a Senator.

Readers may also recall that when I was invited to the Senate to present on Bill S-4 regarding matrimonial real property (MRP) as an expert witness, Brazeau later, when I was not there to defend myself, wrongly accused me of being a paid consultant to the Chiefs and therefore asked the Senate to ignore my expert legal testimony based on the unfounded allegation that I was only there to "feather my nest". When APTN made my subsequent complaint public, it was the Chiefs who stepped forward to defend me publicly and by letters.

Did Brazeau ever apologize to me personally? No. But I can tell you that the next time I was invited as an expert witness to speak to the Senate on Bill C-3, I was unexpectedly disinvited at the last minute after having already made travel and other arrangements. I have to wonder whether I will ever be invited back after having spoke out against Brazeau's behaviour.

Now, Brazeau's tiresome campaign against the Chiefs continues. Many chiefs have complained how he treats them disrespectfully whenever they appear before a committee of the Senate. Brazeau himself admits to "testy" exchanges. I wonder if Brazeau would ever think to speak to PM Harper that way?? Of course not. Some of you may be questioning why I would compare First Nations Chiefs to a PM - well, if its good enough for the salary issue, why is it not applicable for other issues? The public can't have it both ways.

Below is a link to APTN's story on the issue:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/02/09/brazeau-not-legitimate-represenative-of-first-nations-ontario-chiefs/

The letter that is referenced comes from the Chiefs of Ontario and is addressed to all Senators and Members of Parliament. It is signed by the heads of its regional organizations as well as Chiefs from Six Nations and Akwesasne. They raise a very important issue: that Brazeau was never nominated, appointed, elected or in any way chosen by First Nations people to speak for them and therefore he should not do so. In fact, they argue that it is a breach of our numerous international human rights.

The letter goes on to state that while they recognize that the conservative government has the right to appoint anyone it chooses to the Senate, the government must recognize that First Nations have the right to choose their own leaders and have asked that the Conservatives: "desist from characterizing Senator Brazeau as someone who can speak to our issues".

This seems like a reasonable request given that many have questioned not only his ability to be a Senator and former President of CAP, but also his lack of experience personally or politically in First Nations. Given that some of Brazeau's own "grass roots" people have literally turned their backs on him and no longer even consider him Indigenous, I think the request is more than reasonable.

We are all sick of Brazeau's tiresome campaign against First Nations and their leaders. Many of us are even sick of seeing him on TV. Let him sit in the Senate with his former CAP employees and work on other issues. Leave the business of First Nations issues to those with the experience to add something positive to the agenda. Let's get on with the business of finding solutions to the serious and even deadly issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada and finally wrap up Brazeau's 15 minutes of fame.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Conservatives' Election Platform for Aboriginal Peoples is "Assimilatory"

With all this talk of a possible federal election, I was wondering how long it would take for the three major national parties (Liberals, NDP and Conservatives) to start talking about their platforms in relation to Aboriginal peoples. Thanks to APTN National News, we got to hear a preview of their platforms last night. For anyone who missed the APTN panel, please go to the following link and watch it before you read my commentary:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/02/04/aptns-mp-panel-back-in-business-but-for-how-long/

For those who don't have video capabilities, I will briefly review the discussion. Appearing in this broadcast was Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, NDP MP and Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder, and Liberal MP and Aboriginal Affairs critic Todd Russell. The purpose of this panel was to discuss the possible federal election, whether the parties had a platform on Aboriginal issues and what their views were on First Nations tobacco industry and sovereignty. Here is an overview of what they had to say:

(1) WILL THERE BE AN ELECTION?

Russell - He was concerned with direction that the Conservatives are taking, i.e. billions in tax cuts to wealthy corporations and little for families and First Nations education. While they will try to work cooperatively, if the Conservatives don't change direction, they will vote against the budget.

Crowder - The issue is whether Harper will work with minority parties to make Parliament work for Canadians and substantial work needs to be done for Aboriginal communities.

Brazeau - This Conservative government does not want an election and Canadians don't want an election. Canadians want them to focus on the economy and creating jobs and training opportunities for Aboriginal people to "hold" jobs.

(2) WHAT ABORIGINAL ISSUES ARE MOST IMPORTANT?

Russell - Liberals have already spoken about their vision for Aboriginal policy going forward: (1) they would remove the 2% funding cap on post-secondary education, (2) substantial investments in Aboriginal education and k-12 system, (3) national response to murdered and missing Aboriginal women, and a (4) commitment to endorse UNDRIP which has happened.

He also stresses that there must be a rebuilding of trust between government and Aboriginal peoples and criticized the Conservative government for their plans to get rid of communal property ownership on reserves and for their overall "assimilationist" approach to Aboriginal issues. Aboriginal peoples are not the same - they have legally protected rights.

Crowder - When NDP develops platform on Aboriginal issues, they work with their Aboriginal Commission which is made up of Aboriginal peoples and they are working on running Aboriginal candidates in the next election.

The larger issues are Nation to Nation status, inherent rights, treaties and other issues like education, health care and water.

Brazeau - "There may be a disconnect" between the Conservative government and Aboriginal peoples in "some cases" but "the relationship is getting better".

The Liberals are just fear-mongering. Brazeau said he heard 5 years ago about the Conservative plans to take away First Nation rights and promote assimilation. He refers to their record: (1) residential schools apology, (2) funding for murdered and missing Aboriginal women and (3) UNDRIP.

However, their focus is Aboriginal education and economic development.

(3) HOW DO THE PARTIES VIEW THE TOBACCO TRADE BETWEEN SOVEREIGN FIRST NATIONS?

Brazeau - The topic of "illegal tobacco" needs to be addressed. "Many of the tobacco shops on reserves" "are being used for other illegal drugs" and other "illegal things that are happening".

We have to start treating Aboriginal people equally with other manufacturers and store owners who sell tobacco". Perhaps we need to start to "tax" them and their is a "role for the federal government in this".

Crowder - (1) There is a public health issue with the availability of cheap tobacco. (2) You have to control the supply of the raw product to control the manufacturing and (3) There are solutions like a First Nation tobacco tax imposed by First Nations and that goes back to First Nations.

Russell - Aboriginal communities and the public have identified issues of health and economics. There are also issues of sovereignty, jurisdiction and treaty rights. We need to have these discussions around a negotiating table.

So what we have seen in this panel on the part of the Conservatives is really more of the same. Brazeau accused Russell of fear-mongering when Russell said that the Conservatives were using an assimilatory agenda to make Aboriginal people the same as other Canadians and ignore their legally protected rights. Yet, Brazeau could not help himself when he later said that the Conservative goal was to treat First Nations the same as other Canadians.

While the Conservatives try to dance around their ultimate agenda so that their assimilatory views do not look so overt, the fact of the matter is that this is exactly what they are attempting in their Aboriginal policy. You can look at any of their activities over the last few years and see the common thread of trying to making Aboriginal "the same" as everyone else and an almost complete rejection of their legally and constitutionally protected rights. For example:

(1) Bill C-3 did not remedy gender inequality which leads to loss of status. In fact, Canada defended the second-generation cut-off rule despite the fact that it guarantees the legal extinction of First Nations.

(2) Bill S-4 does not provide real access to justice for Aboriginal peoples living on reserve after a marital break-up, but it does guarantee land rights to non-Indians of reserve lands for the first time in history.

(3) Bill C-575 does not address the severe poverty of First Nations that lead to their early deaths. It creates more reporting requirements for First Nations who already report more than any other entity in Canada.

(4) There have been numerous studies, reports, commissions and inquiries that prove that Aboriginal men and women are incarcerated at a disproportionately higher rate than non-Aboriginal peoples and sometimes the cause is pure racism. Yet, the Conservative response is to spend millions building new prisons and hiring new corrections officers so they can house the increasing numbers which will effectively remove any remaining Aboriginal people (who are not assimilated through the Indian Act) out of society.

(5) When the Native Womens' Association of Canada identified an alarming number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada, the Conservatives cut the funding and poured millions into policing to help "all Canadians".

(6) When the Corrections Ombudsperson identified discrimination against Aboriginal offenders; the former auditor general Sheila Fraser identified inequality in funding critical services like child and family services and education, when the Ministerial representative for INAC noted that matrimonial real property legislation required consultation, when the UN identified numerous unresolved issues in Canada with regard to Aboriginal peoples, the response is always the same - there is no response.

(7) Now it is reported that Canada is providing funds in one form or another to people like Tom Flanagan and Manny Jules to promote the privatization of reserve lands. No land = no community = assimilation.

I could go on and on, but my blogs cover alot of this stuff. Brazeau focused on education and jobs - assimilating Aboriginal people into Canadian society, and no recognition of their special legal, constitutional and cultural status. It is the Flanagan-Cairns-Helin-Gibson-Widdowson-Canadian Tax Payers plan:

Step 1 - underfund essential services so that First Nations off reserves,
Step 2 - educate them in the Canadian system and put them in "regular" jobs and debt,
Step 3 - entice individuals with financial incentives not tied to their community and villify their leaders,
Step 4 - bleed off Indian women and their descendants through the Indian status provisions, and
Step 5 - innocently promote individualism under the guise of equality.

I am not saying that jobs or education are bad. In fact, I am a huge promoter of education so that we can build capacity to help heal our communities and rebuild our Nations. Having jobs and income to finance these projects are also essential. But I don't agree with the requirement that we abandon our cultures, languages, identities, histories, legal rights, lands, communities, governments, laws, or treaties. The Conservatives hope to entice us down the path of assimilation "voluntarily" - but we have another choice.

We can be Indigenous and educated. We can be Indigenous and own our own businesses. We can be Indigenous and have relations with Canadians. We do not need to give up our identities, communities and Nations to be entitled to demand fair treatment and respect of our rights.

I have never been a voter myself, nor do I belong to any political party, but in recent years I have started to think that we need to take action on multiple fronts. I am still thinking about it, but the Conservatives are getting scarier as each year passes and their arrogance and paternalism on Aboriginal issues becomes more and more apparent.

MP Todd Russell spoke of jurisdiction, treaty rights, and negotiation. MP Jean Crowder spoke of inherent rights, treaties and Nation to Nation relations. Brazeau preached about federal taxation of "illegal" First Nation business, the disconnected relation they have with Aboriginal peoples, and the need to treat Aboriginal peoples the same as other Canadians.

Could the message be any clearer?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions About Bill C-3 (Simplified)

Hi all, I hope you are all in the process of changing your links over from my Non-Status Indian sites to my Indigenous Nationhood sites. My Facebook, Blogger and website have all been changed to Indigenous Nationhood. I will leave my old blogger and website links up for a few months to allow people to find the new sites, but please switch over so that you don't miss any future posts. My Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are the same.

New blog site: http://www.indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/

New website: http://www.indigenousnationhood.com/

New facebook name: Indigenous Nationhood

Same Twitter: Pam_Palmater

Same LinkedIn: Dr. Pam Palmater

New E-mail = palmater@indigenousnationhood.com

I hope you have all read my last blog post where I updated everyone with what is happening with Bill C-3. Since I still continue to get a large number of e-mails and questions related to what the application process and who qualifies, I decided to post another this blog will point you to the exact links which answer your questions. Please feel free to e-mail me if there is anything else I have not covered.

I apologize to my readers if this information seems at all repetitive or you were hoping for a blog on another topic. I have been receiving so many e-mails and calls for information and complaints from Aboriginal people all over the country saying that they don't know what is happening and their local organization or community has not provided any information.

One would think that organizations like the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) or any of their provincial affiliates, like the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC) and others would be in their communities informing people about next steps. Sadly, this does not appear to be happening and people are left on their own trying to figure out this amazingly confusing, complex, legal process.

(1) DID BILL C-3 COME INTO FORCE?

Yes, the bill is now in force and the Indian Act has been amended accordingly. You can see a copy of the amendments that will be added to the Indian Act at this link:

http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/I-5/AmendmentsNotInForce

(2) WHO QUALIFIES FOR STATUS?

Here are the three criterion that INAC has indicated will determine whether or not you qualify for status under the new Bill:

(i) Did your grandmother lose her Indian status as a result of marrying a non-Indian?
(ii) Is one of your parents registered, or entitled to be registered, under sub-section 6(2) of the Indian Act?

(iii) Were you, or one of your siblings, born on or after September 4, 1951?

If you have answered yes to all of these questions, there is a good chance that you might qualify for status. These criteria can be found on INAC's website here:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/is/bll/rpb/index-eng.asp

(3) ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?

Even if you meet all of the criteria noted above, you might still be excluded from status. Please take note of the very important qualification that INAC has recently posted on their website:

"If the applicant's grandparents were not married to each other before April 17, 1985 and the parent of the applicant was born after April 17, 1985, the 2011 Indian Act amendments may not entitle the applicant to registration."

This information can be found at the following link:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/frms/mci/83114-eng.asp

(4) I ALREADY APPLIED BEFORE BILL C-3 BECAME LAW - SHOULD I REAPPLY?

I had the very same question. I applied for my status before the McIvor case was decided and before Bill C-3 became law. I called INAC's toll-free information line (1-800-567-9604) and asked the very same question.

They informed me that INAC already has a process in place to deal with those who already applied. They advised me NOT to reapply as this might delay the processing of my application. They further advised that INAC would contact me about what the next steps are for my application to be considered.

They said that while I am waiting for INAC to contact me, that I could be getting all the extra required documents in order to submit. This includes the guarantor form, driver's license and passport photos.

The following link provides detailed information about the registration process and the various ways in which you can contact INAC and ask questions:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/is/bll/rpb/index-eng.asp

(5) WHAT IS REQUIRED TO APPLY FOR STATUS UNDER BILL C-3?

Here is the link that provides you with detailed information about what you need to submit with your application:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/is/bll/rpb/index-eng.asp

In simple terms; here is the checklist of things you need to apply:

(1) The application form (for applicants 16 years and older);

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/frms/mci/83114-eng.pdf

(2) The guarantor form (a lawyer, doctor, social worker, chief etc) who can confirm your identity:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/frms/mci/83120-eng.pdf

(3) OR the statutory declaration form to list two references (in case you don't have a guarantor) (notarized by lawyer):

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/frms/mci/83119-eng.pdf

(4) Two identical passport photos taken within the last 12 months (signed by guarantor or lawyer)

(5) Copy of both sides of your driver's license (or passport, etc) (signed by guarantor or lawyer);

(6) ORIGINAL long form birth certificate (shows parents names);

Here is the link which provides the more detailed list of exactly what you need and which highlights other requirements:

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/br/is/bll/rpb/index-eng.asp

There are many different situations which might require different or alternative documents and/or information. This simplified list is just to give you an idea of what is required. PLEASE refer to INAC's website for precise information related to your own specific situation. Also remember that this blog is just trying to simplify the information and should never be relied on as legal advice.

INAC asks that all the applications and documents be mailed (although I recommend that they be couriered so that you have a record) to INAC directly:

INAC Application Processing Unit
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
GD Stn Main
Winnipeg MB R3C 0M2
 
If you have any questions, please contact INAC directly as they would have the official information that relates to your specific individual situation.
 
Hope this helps.

Blog Name Has Changed from Non-Status Indians to Indigenous Nationhood

Dear readers;

Please be advised that the names of my social media sites will be changing. This blog will now be "Indigenous Nationhood" as will my website. In the interim, you will still be able to acess the old addresses. However, no new blogs will be posted on Non-Status Indian. Any "followers" should also add their names to the new blog to avoid any missed links in future posts.

Please link to the following addresses:

Blog = http://www.indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/

Web = http://www.indigenousnationhood.com/

Facebook = Indigenous Nationhood

Twitter = Pam_Palmater

LinkedIn = Dr. Pam Palmater

E-mail = palmater@indigenousnationhood.com

Thanks so much and I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. This is a permanent name change and will be the only one. I will leave the old sites operating for the next few months until followers have a chance to change their links.

Pam