Showing posts from 2011

Brave Leadership Spreads Hope: Attawapiskat Takes on the Ultimate Bully

There have been countless blogs, reports, media stories and commentary on the crisis Attawapiskat First Nation located in northern Ontario on the James Bay. So many of these stories report on the current situation and few provide the historical context from which it all evolved. The purpose of this blog is simply to provide a little context and show how grass roots community members have the power to spread hope to all First Nations by their brave leadership. Attawapiskat is a First Nation community of approximately 2000 of its 3335 members live on reserve. This community is part of the larger Cree Nation and the current Chief is Theresa Spence. Attawapiskat is part of the Mushkegowuck Council (a tribal council representing eight Cree communities which is currently headed by Grand Chief Stan Louttit and represents about 10,000 First Nations people. At the regional level, Attawapiskat is represented by the Nish

Justice Minister Vic Toews' Wilful Blindness to the Ongoing "Crisis" in Justice System

Please tell me that I am not the only one who is shocked by federal Justice Minister Vic Toews' idiotic comments tonight on APTN News. Did he actually say that there is nothing wrong with our justice system and that our justice system does not discriminate? I can't even think of a proper descriptor for his comments - ignorant, racist, wilfully blind, pitifully stupid, unprofessional, and irresponsible don't seem to convey the depth to which his comments are offensive. It is as if he has ignored every single justice report, inquiry, and Supreme Court of Canada judgement that has found, based on overwhelming research and evidence, that our justice system does in fact discriminate, especially against Indigenous peoples. However, we all know that as Minister of Justice he knows about all these reports - he has simply chosen to ignore them because it suits the Conservativ


I am moved to write this blog because of Minister Duncan's outrageous remarks that residential schools were NOT cultural genocide. This has led to discussions about whether or not the murder, torture and abuse of Indigenous peoples in this country "qualifies" as genocide, given the more recent, and much more distant atrocities committed in countries like Rwanda. Rwanda gained international attention because upwards of 800,000 people died in less than a year by brutal means. The Srebenica genocide resulted in the murder of approximately 8,000 Bosnian men and women in 1995. The holocaust of millions of Jewish people is likely the most famous of all. These events all took place far away from our shores in North America and allowed Canadians and Americans to point across the sea and shake their heads in horror and disgust. North Americans have been able to rewrite their own histories so that they don't have to face the atrocities committed here at home. They have the be

Authoring Our Own Demise? NAOs Must Stop Propping up Conservatives

I keep wondering, why is it that some of the national Aboriginal organizations (NAO's) continue to look the other way when the Conservatives show their true colours? There is a saying that goes: when someone tells you who they really are, you should listen. So, if a guy tells you on a date he doesn't want to settle down, you should not be surprised if after dating him for several months that he does not want to get married. Why then do our leaders pose for photo-ops shaking hands and smiling with the government that wants our assimilation? In Canada, the Crown has not only shown its true policy objectives through its legal and political actions, but it has made them very explicit in speeches, cabinet papers and written documents. Canada's underlying objective in Indian policy is to "rid Canada of the Indian problem" and to free up land for settlement and development. Even the joint action plan between Canada and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) focuses on fre

More than Empty Promises: Canada's Military Still Fighting Indians Today

Why is it that Indigenous Peoples are always accused of creating an us vs. them dynamic in Crown-First Nation relations, when in fact it is the opposite that is true. Our treaties were negotiated so that we could move forward cooperatively, yet Canada (which includes Canada includes ALL federal departments, agencies and commissions as well as the provinces and territories) has broken every promise it has made. Given that our treaties were to maintain peace and friendship, Canada has breached the treaties at every step. We wanted to maintain our connections to the land and Canada wanted to assimilate us. When we exercise our "Canadian" right to peaceful assembly and protest, Canada sends in the military to take us down. It seems that no matter what we do, Canada's answer always seems to be to "get rid of the Indian problem" and it does so by very strategic military means. Canada has long used military tactics against us to accomplish its goal of taking our la

Murdered, Missing, and Still Excluded: Indigenous Women Fight for Equality

If there is one thing that the Pickton Inquiry has proven to Canadians is that gender discrimination against Indigenous women is not only a present-day phenomenon, but that it is systemic at all levels of government. The unique problem for Indigenous women is that the gender discrimination they face when dealing with one group, like the police, is multiplied many times over top of the gender discrimination they face in all other aspects of their lives. These Indigenous women who were murdered at the hands of Robert Pikcton or who remain missing have never truly been treated as human beings worthy of care and protection. In many Indigenous Nations, their concept of citizenship or belonging was a relational concept that provided both rights and responsibilities on the parts of individuals and Nations. So, an Indigenous Nation required the recognition, loyalty and contributions of their people, and the people required the recognition, protection and contributions of their Nation. For ma

Bill S-2 - Family Homes on Reserves: Protection or Threat?

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011. Minister John Duncan introduced Bill S-2 An Act Respecting Family Homes Situated on First Nation Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights in or to Structures and Lands Situated on Those Reserves in the Senate where it had its First Reading. The short name for this proposed legislation is Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act . The full text can be found at this link: As some of you may recall, this is the fourth attempt at passing federal legislation that would address what Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is referring to as a 'legislative gap' in relation to how property gets divided upon the break up of a common law relationship or marriage. The previous bills, Bill C-8 , Bill C-47 and Bill S-4 all died on the order paper, but not before Aboriginal organizations, First Nations, Indigenous women, and other groups like famil

First Nations Sign Agreement with Federal and Provincial Governments in NB to Negotiate Self-Government

It was reported earlier this week that 10 out of 15 First Nations in NB signed an agreement with the federal and provincial governments to negotiate self-government. It was then subsequently reported that all 15 First Nations in NB have signed on. However, after speaking with several First Nations, I understand that only 10 First Nations signed, and only one was Maliseet. I don't have an original signed copy, but I have been provided with the text by one of the First Nations. Many people have been emailing me and asking for a copy of the agreement which I have copied below. Please always refer to the original as the official document: MI’GMAG, WOLASTOQIYIK, NEW BRUNSWICK and CANADA UMBRELLA AGREEMENT  -among-  THE MI’GMAG AND WOLASTOQIYIK PEOPLES IN NEW BRUNSWICK, as represented by the Chiefs of the Mi’gmag and Wolastoqiyik First Nations in New Brunswick (“the Mi’gmag and Wolastoqiyik in New Brunswick”)  -and-  THE PROVINCE OF NEW BRUNSWICK, as represented by the Minist

Ontario's Invisible People - Where are Aboriginal Issues in the Ontario Election?

So in case you didn't know, the Ontario provincial election is happening in 4 weeks on Thursday, October 6, 2011. There is lots of election activity happening in Ontario and lots of confusing political messages and attack ads on tv. Elections can be very confusing, especially to our younger population who may be voting for the first time. The contenders for the top spot of Premier are: (1) Progressive Conservative Party's Tim Hudak; (2) New Democrat Party's Andrea Horwath; (3) Green Party's Mike Schreiner; and (4) Liberal Party's Dalton McGuinty. McGuinty is the current incumbent (i.e., he is currently in the position of Premier and hoping to be re-elected). You are entitled to vote in this upcoming election if: (1) you are at least 18 years old, (2) a Canadian citizen, (3) you reside in an electoral district and (4) have not already voted. This means that for those Aboriginal people in Ontario who want to, you ca