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Contemporary Indigenous Issues and Resistance

Judge Grants Release to Halfway House for Red Fawn Fallis

Bismarck Tribune, June 22, 2017

A federal judge has given Red Fawn Fallis permission to move from a jail in Rugby to a halfway house.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ordered on Tuesday that Fallis be released as soon as space is available at Centre Inc. in Fargo. Hovland had previously denied a similar request for Fallis, who is accused of shooting at police officers during a Dakota Access Pipeline protest on Oct. 27.

In his order, Hovland cited Fallis’ successful completion of a furlough to attend a memorial service in Colorado for her mother and the need for easier communication with her attorney, Bruce Ellison, of Rapid City, S.D.

U.S. Attorney David Hagler had opposed the request, saying she remained a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Fallis’ trial, which was scheduled for July 17, has been postponed to Dec. 5. Ellison asked for the continuance due to the amount of evidence and legal issues in the case. The government did not oppose this request.

Ellison has also requested to move the jury trial out of Bismarck to another jurisdiction. Ellison cited “the massive, pervasive and prejudicial pre-trial publicity that has attended the pipeline protests and, specifically, her arrest and prosecution.”

The government and judge have not yet responded to his request.


Wapekeka First Nation Declares State of Emergency in Wake of Suicides

Jolynn Winter, 12, left, and Chantel Fox, 12, centre, from the community if Wapapeka First Nation in Ontario, died by suicide in January. Jenera Roundsky, 12, (not pictured) died on June 13. (Supplied by the Winter and Fox families/CBC News)

Jenera Roundsky, 12, latest child to die by suicide in the remote northern First Nation

Staff | June 21, 2017

Wapekeka First Nation has declared a state of emergency after the third suicide of a child in the remote First Nation since January.

Chief Brennan Sainnawap issued the declaration after a meeting Tuesday night.

All of the girls who died were just 12 years old and part of a suicide pact that community leaders became aware of last summer.

That’s when community officials first asked for help but, according to a spokesperson, it has been slow to arrive.

Jenera Roundsky was the latest child to die. She was found by another child near the community’s outdoor rink last week. Jolynn Winter died on Jan. 8, while Chantel Fox died two days later.

Nearly 40 young people from the community are currently considered to be at risk of suicide; that represents about 10 per cent of the population of Wapekeka.

The state of emergency asks for an immediate response from Ontario and provision of the necessary services for the community.


Mother Claims Saskatoon Police Overreacted by Firing Shots at Stolen Truck With Son Behind Wheel

Agatha Eaglechief says she lost her son to gangs. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Agatha Eaglechief says she lost her son to gangs

CBC News Posted: Jun 21, 2017

Agatha Eaglechief says she watched helplessly as she lost her 22-year-old son to the violent world of Saskatoon gangs.

Her worst fears came true this week. Austin Eaglechief never came home for his 10 p.m. CST curfew on Monday night and, by morning, his mother was hearing reports of a chase and fatal crash with a stolen truck.

She woke up to the news and thought, “Oh no. I hope that’s not him.”

Police confirmed Austin was behind the wheel of a stolen truck that rammed a police cruiser and was involved in a chase with gunshots that ended with a crash at Circle Drive and Airport Drive just after 9 p.m. Monday.

Agatha said her son had been involved with gangs since his teens, first with the Terror Squad and most recently with the Indian Posse.

She said that he had also served time in both provincial correctional centres and the federal penitentiary.

The frequent beatings meted out by gangs left him with head injuries that lead to anxiety and depression, she said.

‘I can’t wait to die. I can’t wait.’

Agatha said her son tried unsuccessfully to escape the gang life. In the end, she said that he saw only one way out.

“Finally, a month ago, he says, ‘I can’t wait to die. I can’t wait.’ He kept telling everybody, and just like he knew he was going to die. He was tired of working for these guys,” Agatha said.

Austin Eaglechief

Austin Eaglechief, 22, was involved in gangs, his mother says. (Facebook)

She is still trying to process her son’s final hour. She is alarmed that officers fired on the stolen truck when they had it penned in the cul-de-sac at Clearwater Place.

She believes they overreacted.

“I’m just saying, why would they have to go and shoot at him numerous times, right in that core neighbourhood? Anybody could have been walking or shot,” she said.

Police said the truck rammed a police cruiser, pushing it about 30 metres, off the cul-de-sac and into a driveway. An officer responded by firing two shots at the stolen truck.

Austin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at Circle Drive and Airport Drive. Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said on Tuesday it does not appear the 22-year-old’s death was related to a gunshot wound, but his cause of death has not been confirmed.

Weighill said police have a strict policy on when to initiate or end pursuits. He said the urgency of apprehending the driver had increased after a constable was injured by the truck ramming.

Agatha is now left with having to bury her son, and wonder what might have been.

“We gotta get back into our culture, into our tradition of smudge, pray, powwow, sundance,” she said. “Making sure that my kids are going to get that right treatment.”

Two vehicles were damaged in a crash near the airport in Saskatoon Monday night. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)


PM Justin Trudeau Changing Name of National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde at Aboriginal Day Live Pow Wow on June 21, 2016 at The Forks, Winnipeg. Photo: Black Powder, Red Power Media. ·

Federal government is renaming National Aboriginal Day

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 21st, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is marking National Aboriginal Day with a symbolic name change to the annual celebration of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

The federal government will be renaming National Aboriginal Day — being celebrated today — as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Trudeau, issued a statement on National Aboriginal Day where he announced the Government’s intention is to rename the day.

He opened his statement by noting that the summer solstice, June 21, was designated as National Aboriginal Day more than 20 years ago.

But the prime minister did not signal if his government will support recognizing the day as a statutory holiday, as it is in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Trudeau’s statement noted work remains to build a true nation-to-nation relationship.

Trudeau also noted that Canada’s 150th birthday in July will provide an opportunity to think about “the legacy of the past.”

According to CTV News, the federal government is also renaming the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous Peoples.

Trudeau says keeping the name of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin — someone associated with the residential school system — on the building that houses Prime Minister’s Office clashes with the government’s vision.

Instead, the building will be called the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.

 See Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, statement issued today HERE


Ottawa Must Act to Address Indigenous Suicide in Canada: Committee

MaryAnn Mihychuk, chair of the House of Commons standing committee on Indigenous and Northern affairs, speaks in Ottawa on Monday regarding the committee’s report on Indigenous suicide. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

  • Staff| The Globe and Mail, Jun. 19, 2017

A long history of misguided federal policies has fuelled repeated suicide crises in Canada’s Indigenous communities and urgent government action is needed to address the root causes, which include inadequate health care, housing, infrastructure and economic development, says a unanimous report by politicians of all stripes.

The Indigenous Affairs committee, which spent more than a year studying the problem of suicide among Canada’s first peoples and released its report on Monday, found that the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, forced relocations of communities and racism on the part of health-care workers, teachers and social-service agents all contributed to the problem.

The committee’s 28 broad-ranging recommendations include calls for the federal government to dramatically overhaul the delivery of child welfare, and to fully implement what is known as Jordan’s Principle, which says native children should receive the same quality of health care as is provided to other children in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found last year that the discriminatory policies of the Indigenous Affairs department have led to chronic underfunding of welfare on reserves and have allowed jurisdictional issues to interfere with the provision of adequate health services, including mental-health services.

“We need to send a message to Indigenous Canadians and especially to young Indigenous people that their lives have value, and to hold on to hope,” said committee chair MaryAnn Mihychuk, a Liberal MP and a former cabinet minister in the Trudeau government.

“We recognize,” Ms. Mihychuk said, “that they are losing hope because they have difficult lives and are suffering from intergenerational trauma as the result of decades of unjust policies, and that we must act together.”

A study released last year by the First Nations Information Governance Centre found that between 2008 and 2010, 22 per cent of adult First Nations people in Canada contemplated suicide. That compared with 9 per cent of the general population. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading cause of death for First Nations people under the age of 45. And the suicide rate for First Nations male youth is five times the national average.

Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who is a member of the committee, told reporters that the testimony given by the 100 witnesses was some of the most disturbing she has heard as an MP. “As a committee, we thought to do justice to all those very tragic stories,” she said. “I only wish that we had some quick easy fixes but, clearly, there aren’t quick easy fixes.”

Last week, 12-year-old Jenera Roundsky of the Wapekeka First Nation in northwestern Ontario texted “goodbye” to a friend then took her own life at the community’s outdoor hockey rink. She had been in the care of social services since two other girls from the same community killed themselves in January. Her father died by suicide in 2011.

The wide scope of the committee’s recommendations reflects the complexity of mental-health issues and the fact that there is no single solution to the high rate of suicide in Indigenous communities, Ms. Mihychuk said.

Among other things, the report calls for more investment in housing, better access to education including the establishment of a university in the North, more employment opportunities, enhanced suicide strategies and improved mental-health services in Indigenous communities. In most cases, it recommends that government provides funding to allow the Indigenous communities to meet their own needs and find their own solutions.

Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society who launched the CHRT case against the government, said the tribunal noted in January that First Nations youth in Ontario are denied mental-health services that are provided to all other children.

“In worldwide research, we know that inequity is linked to a much higher risk for suicide in two ways,” Dr. Blackstock said. “One is that it creates a lot of hardship for youth so they are more likely to have suicidal ideation and die of suicide. And the second thing is that, for those kids who are feeling suicidal ideation, there’s inequitable services to meet that need.”


RCMP Statement on Human Rights Watch Report on Police Treatment of Indigenous Women in Saskatchewan

RCMP are investigating an assault on an 11-year old girl Wednesday night in St. Theresa Point. (CBC)

OTTAWA, June 19, 2017 /CNW/ – 

RCMP statement on Human Rights Watch report:

  • The RCMP has received the Human Rights Watch Report on Police Treatment of Indigenous Women in Saskatchewan and will take time to thoroughly review it. Several of the report’s recommendations to the RCMP have been addressed in response to other reports by, among others, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) and the Call to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • Last February, the CRCC released its report on Policing in Northern British Columbia, which contained 31 recommendations pertaining to the RCMP. These recommendations focused on five areas: personal searches, policing of public intoxication, use of force, domestic violence and missing persons. In response to the report, the RCMP has further implemented policy and/or procedural changes in each of these areas. The CRCC’s review did not find any systemic racism in Northern British Columbia, nor did they initiate any new investigations.
  • The RCMP is committed to participating fully in the implementation of the national reconciliation framework and supporting the Calls to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. For example, regarding Call to Action 41, the RCMP is providing its full cooperation and participation to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • Allegations of police misconduct are serious and demand a full investigation. If individuals are aware of specific allegations of police misconduct, the RCMP encourages them to bring them forward, either to the RCMP directly or to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (

RCMP actions:

Expand Indigenous training for officers

  • The RCMP has integrated cultural awareness, human rights and gender diversity training into its Cadet Training Program. Also, the RCMP’s Aboriginal Perceptions Training Course provides members an understanding of Indigenous perceptions/attitudes towards the Canadian Justice System, the factors which have influenced perceptions, and how those factors can sometimes create tensions. The interactive training fosters a broader understanding of the contemporary and historical issues between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the government.
  • Through Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Government of Canada has committed to cultural competency training for members that is division-specific. The training will recognize the unique and varied experiences of local and regional communities and focus on family violence and violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Training on de-escalation/use of force

  • The RCMP created a national crisis intervention and de-escalation course, which is mandatory for all members to complete by October 2017. Included in this course is a crisis intervention and de-escalation model. This model provides a foundation for police to approach a crisis in a manner that not only builds rapport but allows for a more thorough risk assessment of crisis situations and ultimately de-escalating crisis situations more effectively and safely.

Respectful police response for Indigenous victims of violence

  • The RCMP has developed a National Missing Persons Investigations course. This course is being released in English at the end of June 2017, and will be available in both official languages in September 2017. The course will be mandatory for all members who investigate missing persons complaints. Within the course, there is a module dedicated to Indigenous missing persons.

Female body searches

  • The RCMP’s Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 and states that strip searches must be authorized by a supervisor/delegate and be conducted by an officer of the same sex and in private, unless exigent circumstances require an immediate search for the preservation of evidence or to ensure the health and safety of members, the public, or detained persons.

Available female officers to conduct searches

  • The RCMP Personal Search Policy was enhanced to ensure that same sex searches are conducted, when possible. However, given operational requirements and the vast geographic area covered by the RCMP, it is not always possible to have a female member available to conduct a search. The policy permits strip searches by officers of the opposite sex in exigent circumstances.

Identification of dominant aggressor in intimate partner violence

  • The RCMP’s bias-free policing policy is clear: all persons are treated the same regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The RCMP’s Violence in Relationships policy demands a thorough investigation be completed to distinguish the primary aggressor.

Collection of race and gender data

  • As announced in the 2014 Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, “Aboriginal identity” is now included on the Homicide Surveys used by all Canadian police forces, and remitted to Statistics Canada.
  • The RCMP is committed to a bias-free policing policy to ensure all people in Canada are treated fairly through transparent, independent and neutral investigations. Ethnicity is not a variable collected through most policing forms, unless there is a need to do so for the investigation, such as for missing persons.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Media Relations and Issues Management

For further information: RCMP Media Relations,, 613-843-5999


Human Rights Watch Wants Special Unit to Investigate Alleged Sask. Police Violence Against Indigenous Women

Farida Deif, Canada director at Human Rights Watch, speaks at a news conference Monday. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Organization says it’s documented dozens of claims of police misconduct based on 64 interviews

By Jason Warick, CBC News Posted: Jun 19, 2017

Human Rights Watch is calling for the creation of a special investigative unit to look at allegations of violence by police in Saskatchewan.

During detailed interviews last year with 64 Saskatchewan Indigenous women, the New York-based organization says it uncovered dozens of cases of police misconduct, including overly intrusive strip searches, excessive use of force, racial profiling and sexual harassment.

“The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada means that police services across the country should be acutely aware of and sensitive to the well-being, vulnerability, and needs of Indigenous women,” said Farida Deif, Canada director at Human Rights Watch.

“Instead, in some cases, it is the police themselves who are making Indigenous women feel unsafe.”

Human Rights Watch, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Elizabeth Fry Society and others held a news conference Monday to elaborate on the report.

At the conference, Deif said the group found evidence of a “deeply fractured” relationship between police and Indigenous communities.

‘Why is there still denial? You can’t deny that this is going on in our police system.’– Heath Bear, vice-chief

She said Indigenous women told them they wouldn’t call police to report crimes for fear of harassment and violence. She said one woman told them “we become as invisible as we possible can” in public places to avoid police attention. This breakdown of trust is particularly dangerous for victims of violence, she said, and could be life-threatening.

Sheila McLean, an Idle No More community organizer, said at the news conference the report “is not talking about a few bigots on our police force” but is example of systemic racism and the justice system’s role in perpetuating it.

All parties agreed action is needed, not more reports. Heather Bear, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief, asked how many reports have to be done before the problems are addressed.

‘Not invisible’

“Why is there still denial?” she said. “You can’t deny that this is going on in our police system.”

She said the country needs “strong laws that protect our women from our protectors.”

“We are not invisible,” she added.

The report calls for a new special investigative unit that should employ staff with expertise in responding to violence against women. The report also calls for the unit to have power “to require chiefs of police to comply with the recommendations.”

According to the report, many Indigenous women are afraid to report police misconduct. Many are even afraid of the repercussions of reporting police violence against other Indigenous women they’ve witnessed.

Police agree changes needed: report

The report says most police know major changes are necessary in some areas. For example, it states, Prince Albert police estimate they take into custody 3,000 people per year for public intoxication.

“Police themselves recognize the problem and acknowledge that more centres are required and more support needed for those suffering from alcohol dependency,” says the report.

Other recommendations include:

  • Ensure the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women investigate police agencies.
  • Expand non-incarceration options for individuals arrested for being intoxicated in public, including short- and long-term detox facilities and alcohol management programs.
  • Expand training for police officers to ensure that police forces have knowledge about Indigenous history, the legacy of colonial abuses — including policing abuses — and human rights policing standards.
  • End body (“frisk”) searches of women and girls by male police officers in all but extraordinary circumstances.
  • Collect and make publicly available (as ethically appropriate) accurate and comprehensive race- and gender-disaggregated data that includes an ethnicity variable on violence against Indigenous women, as well as on use of force, police stops, and searches.

Colombia’s Riot Police Sent Back to School to Learn About Human Rights

written by Adriaan Alsema, June 16, 2017

Members of Colombia’s feared ESMAD riot unit must take compulsory courses in human rights, the country’s State Council ordered while convicting the unit for killing a student during a protest.

The ESMAD unit is one of Colombia’s most feared and loathed police units, because of recurring reports of police brutality and excessive violence in the curbing of social protest.

In the last month alone, the unit was accused of throwing teargas into people’s homes and aiming at protesters’ bodies when western Colombia rose up and protested peacefully to demand an end to chronic state neglect and violence.

In Bogota, the unit used teargas and water cannons to break up a month-long peaceful protest of teachers demanding structural investment in the country’s substandard education system.

In the ruling condemning the execution of a student protester in Cali in 2005, the National Government was ordered to submit each of the country’s riot police units to compulsory schooling on human rights, after reminding authorities that public manifestations are Colombians’ constitutional right.

The mere taking part in a civilian protest does not represent a transgression of legal order since the inhabitants [of Colombia] have the right to express their dissent to measures adopted by state authorities.

Council of State

The court also urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to re-open the homicide investigation that was closed before going to court, but is now investigated by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States.

The damage that result from this kind of reproachable behavior must be known, judged and repaired before civilian justice, before submitting the victims of the armed conflict to the wearisome burden of demanding a conviction in international courts., in addition to the fact that this circumstance leaves the Colombian justice system ill-served and is portrayed before the international community as an instance lacking efficiency, suitability and social legitimacy.

Council of State

Colombia’s Congress last year debated a proposal to disband the controversial unit, but the bill never made it to the final vote.

Colombia Reports


Indigenous Woman Evicted for Smudging, Files Complaint With B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

Indigenous woman evicted for smudging files rights complaint

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 15, 2017

An indigenous woman has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging her landlord tried to evict her for performing traditional smudging ceremonies indoors.

According to CTV News, Crystal Smith of the Tsimshian and Haisla First Nations has had problems with her landlord, ever since he noticed her smudging at her Burnaby home with her children in March.

The ceremony, which involves burning sage for prayer or cleansing is a traditional practice among many First Nations people.

“I’m being forced to move because my landlord is not allowing me to practice my spiritual ceremonies,” Smith, a single mother from Burnaby, told CTV Vancouver.

Smith says she’s filing a Human Rights complaint in hopes that this does not happen to others.

Burnaby NOW reports, Smith’s landlord, Parminder Mohan, has accused her of smoking marijuana and covering it up with sage. He has served Smith three eviction notices despite a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) ruling in her favour and still wants her out.

Smith, who told CTV News she doesn’t smoke drugs or even cigarettes, assured Mohan that wasn’t the case, and even offered to demonstrate how smudging works. The landlord wasn’t satisfied, and allegedly told her to stop.

For Smith, smudging is a crucial part of keeping her son and daughter in tune with their heritage.

They have only been living in the apartment for a few months, and previously had a brief stay at a safe house where they moved after she left an abusive relationship.

“It’s frustrating,” Smith said. “We were supposed to be in this home until December at least, and I was even hoping to stay a little longer because me and my children have been through so much.”

She’s given up on remaining in their Burnaby home and intends to move out this week.

Burnaby, B.C. resident Crystal Smith demonstrates how to smudge using sage, a shell and a feather. June 13, 2017. CTV News

Mohan, who sees things differently spoke to CTV News by phone Wednesday, and said he’s actually an accommodating landlord who has become the victim of an unappreciative tenant.

Mohan said he reduced Smith’s rent and gave her a dishwasher when she moved in, but he’s concerned about how smudging might impact the property and her neighbours.

The first time Mohan realized Smith was smudging, he says he had to “stagger out” of the house.

Smith said the ceremony does create a smell, but it fades after a day or two.

Smith feels smudging is a religious right that shouldn’t open up indigenous people to evictions.

“I naively thought that, after the RTB decision, that he would abide by their decision, and he hasn’t,” Smith said.

Smith is now turning her attention to her human rights complaint.

“I’m moving, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up,” she said.

Judge Asks Army Corps to Revisit Environmental Analysis of Dakota Access Pipeline

Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in St. Anthony, N.D., on Monday. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

  • Staff | Reuters – Wed Jun 14, 2017

A federal judge on Wednesday said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not fully weigh the impacts of the Dakota Access pipeline and ordered it to reconsider sections of its environmental analysis.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said that while the Army Corps substantially complied with the National Environmental Policy Act, it did not adequately consider the impacts of a possible oil spill on the fishing and hunting rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The tribe had sued the Army Corps over its approval of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

“To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court,” the judge said in a court order.

Operations of Energy Transfer Partners LP’s pipeline have not been suspended but will be considered later, the order said.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)