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Indigenous issues slowly disappear from election 2019

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*This picture was taken by Michelle Girouard and the logo is from from The Lawyer's Daily). This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on Oct.15, 2019 (see link below).

The unofficial slogan for the 2015 Liberal election campaign was “there is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples.” It was a mantra shared repeatedly by Justin Trudeau pre- and post-election and stood in stark contrast to former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s adversarial relationship with First Nations. In fact, it was Trudeau’s election promise to make Indigenous issues a political priority, together with his commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship grounded in respect for Indigenous rights, that helped his party win the Indigenous vote.

While not all Indigenous people voted for the Liberals, record numbers of them voted — largely to help the Liberals unseat the Conservatives. Fast forward to this election and Trudeau started his campa…

First Nations and the Business of Cannabis

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This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on Sept.25, 2019 -(see link below)

Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election platform promise to immediately legalize marijuana if elected spurred a frenzy of activity behind the scenes. There were police officers, politicians and other former leaders, previously against the sale of the drug, making plans for their own cannabis boutiques. The very same people that had previously outlawed, arrested and jailed people for growing, possessing and/or selling cannabis would now have the unfair insider advantage about where to sell and to whom.

In the chaotic positioning that played out behind the scenes by those “in the know,” very little attention was given to the full legal implications of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act.

The failure to properly engage First Nations about the legalization of cannabis was not only irresponsible policy making but was also a lost political opportunity to work on a nation to nation basis with First Nations — o…

Justice system still not protecting Indigenous women and girls

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(Picture by Pam Palmater, Rally for Justice for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg) This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on May, 28, 2019.

“Her life mattered. She was valued. She was important. She was loved.” R. v. Barton [2019] S.C.J. No. 33.
Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous woman originally from Alberta, where she grew up with her four siblings and extended family. She was also the mother to three daughters and her family described her as both a loving mother and caring auntie. She had close friends and always dreamed about being the first in her family to go to university. Cindy Gladue loved and was loved. She did not deserve her violent death in 2011 nor the indignity done to her body after.
She is now one of the many thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada — a growing crisis that represents grave human rights violations. The trial of the man who admittedly committed this act of violence against Cindy is …

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Universities and Colleges

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Reconciliation has become the buzz word of the decade ever since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada published their report on residential schools in Canada.* The TRC, headed by (then) Justice Murray Sinclair, heard from residential school survivors, families and native communities from all over Canada about their experiences in residential schools and their lives afterwards. These schools lasted for over 100 years, with the last one only closing in 1996.
Despite being called schools, residential schools were actually designed to separate native children from their parents, extended families and communities, for the express purposes of assimilating them into, what the TRC describes as "Euro-Christian society". Thousands of children were starved, neglected, tortured, medically experimented on, mentally, physically and/or sexually abused or even murdered. Their experiences have had long-lasting, inter-generational impacts on many more thousands of children, …

Bill C-92’s Indigenous Child Welfare Act: More Pan-Indigenous Legislation that Risks Continuing the Status Quo

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Bill C-92 An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families has been heralded as a “historic turning point”, an “important first step”, a “major milestone” and other similarly over-used and under-impressive political phrases to describe yet another top-down initiative from the federal government. While the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde (AFN) claimed that this legislation was “co-drafted” by the AFN and the federal government, that was not the case. In fact, Dr. Cindy Blackstock confirmed that First Nations did not co-draft the legislation and First Nations were not even permitted to see the second draft before it was tabled. This should be no surprise as Justice Canada does not co-draft legislation with anyone other than the French and English legislative drafters at Justice Canada – this is their long-standing practice. Bill C-92 content is glaring evidence that First Nation experts in child welfare did not hold the pen on this …

Federal Budget 2019: Indigenous Women and Children Left Behind - Again

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(Pam Palmater, photo by Ben Powless)
As expected, the Assembly of First Nations was first out of the gate offering glowing praise for this Liberal government’s federal budget, followed shortly thereafter by the Metis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami – the three male-dominated national Aboriginal organizations. Their organizations have seen substantial increases in funding for their political organizations in recent years. Meanwhile, the Native Women’s Association of Canada – the only political organization representing Indigenous women at the national level - issued its own press release criticizing the government for failing Indigenous women. They accused the federal government of, once again, ignoring the pressing needs of Indigenous women and in so doing, not only hampering reconciliation but breaching their core human rights. NWAC is especially aggrieved about this lack of funding for Indigenous women and families, given the urgent n…