First Nation wants Controversial Sculpture by New York Artist Taken Down

The Bowfort Towers

A First Nation near Calgary is calling on the city to remove a controversial piece of public art that has previously drawn criticism from those who don’t like the $500,000 price tag as well as those who just don’t like its looks.

On Tuesday, Kevin Littlelight of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation lambasted the sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park.

Littlelight called the sculpture — consisting of steel beams and Alberta rundle stones — offensive, saying it appears to emulate Indigenous burial scaffolding.

Littlefield said the First Nation believes that attempting to reflect Indigenous symbolism without collaborating with local artists and elders “is not reflective of other recent steps by Calgary City Hall to respect Treaty 7 Nations.”

Geist, who grew up in North Dakota, has previously said he did speak with Blackfoot elders and has said the use of four towers in the piece is a nod to the traditional significance of the number, but has denied accusations of cultural appropriation.

The use of rock and steel has long been a staple for the artist, whose work has been displayed around the world for more than 40 years.

“As an artist, using the natural sciences as a palette, he has developed major site-specific artworks throughout the U.S. and Europe,” reads the biography on his website.

“His environmental artworks elicit unique qualities inherent to a place, fostering a viewer’s direct sensory experience. The stone and earth, metaphorically, contain the natural history of a region and its geology, capturing the spirit and flavour of an area.”

City councillor Sean Chu, a vocal opponent of public funding for the arts, called the sculpture “the worst kind of wasteful spending of tax dollars” while many on social media have criticized the look of the piece. One person suggested it belonged in a recycling bin.

Indigenous artist Adrian Stinson argued it’s up to municipalities to do a better job of vetting art projects.

“The artist needs to show the group what they’re working on so that people can actually give input to say, ‘oh you know, there’s a red flag — that’s too close to a brutal platform, you might want to rethink that because you’re going to offend people,’ ” he said.

Littlelight said this could be an opportunity for the city to learn from its failures, adding the First Nation would like to see elders and cultural experts help in the next step moving forward.

“There’s great artists that are Albertans, Aboriginal artists that are Albertans, southern Albertans, cowboys, Indians, that should be our focus and we should be pushing that,” he said. “Nobody comes to Calgary to look at New York art.”

He said he has some empathy for Geist.

“I can’t really speak for him but it is a strike out,” he said. “What do you do? You have to rebuild and if I was the artist I would reach out to the art community of Treaty 7 and redo things. Diego Rivera was a great artist, he had to redo art all the time, it’s no different here.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

MMIWG Families Slam ‘Colonial’ Inquiry Process, Demand Hard Reset

Marion Buller chief commissioner of national inquiry. (CP)

Relatives, supporters says their concerns have been ignored by commissioners, minister

Dozens of family members, activists and academics have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding the “deeply misguided” inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls be scrapped and restarted with a new panel of commissioners.

The coalition says relatives have been shut out of the process and that commissioners are on a path that will not lead to the successful fulfillment of the inquiry’s mandate.

“They have continually dismissed our concerns, refused to take steps to rebuild trust, and have maintained a deeply misguided approach that imposes a harmful, colonial process on us,” the letter reads. “This has and continues to create trauma as well as insecurity and a lack of safety for our families, communities, and loved ones.”

Families wrote a letter complaining about being excluded three months ago, but say their deep-seated concerns were ignored. The letter was used only to pit families against families, the coalition said.

Families and supporters are also accusing Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett of dismissing their concerns.

A statement from the minister’s office said the government remains committed to ending the “ongoing national tragedy,” and that the inquiry’s terms of reference require that families be central to the commission’s work.

After meeting with the commissioners, Bennett was satisfied they had a plan and dedication to address families’ concerns, which will adapt as the inquiry progresses.

‘Immediate action’

The statement said the government is working in the meantime with Inuit, First Nations and Métis partners to honour the lost and to advance reconciliation.

“We’ve taken immediate action with a new gender-based violence strategy, changes to the child and family welfare system for Indigenous children, safe housing, shelters and work with British Columbia towards safe transport on the Highway of Tears,” the statement reads.

The inquiry has been plagued with problems, including staff departures and last month’s resignation by Marilyn Poitras, a Métis professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She cited issues with the “current structure” of the inquiry, which is set to get underway this fall.

But the letter from relatives and supporters says too much damage has been done and too much time has lapsed to rebuild trust now.

Instead of drawing on Indigenous knowledge and practices, the inquiry has been rooted in a colonial model that prioritizes a Eurocentric medical and legal framework, it reads.

“Such an approach is rooted in a broader culture of colonial violence that is inherently exploitative towards Indigenous peoples and causes ongoing trauma and violence for us as families,” the letter says.

Health, legal and community relations team workers for the inquiry are scheduled to be in two Saskatchewan cities this week to meet with families who wish to participate.

The teams are in Regina and Saskatoon to get in contact with families who want to participate in the truth gathering process which will be held in Saskatoon in November.

Source: CBC News

‘Do Something Now!’: Indigenous Activists Plead for Action in Youth Suicide Crisis


A group that has been camped out at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada offices for two weeks marched down Yonge St. Friday to demand government action on northern Ontario’s suicide crisis.

Staff | Toronto Star

Beneath Friday’s pouring rain and dark skies, a group of Indigenous women continue the fight against northern Ontario’s suicide crisis outside the offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on St. Clair Ave.

They’ve been at it for more than two weeks. Geoffey Daybutch, who was asked to join the women outside INAC three days earlier to serve as a male voice from the First Nations community, stands guard as a man brushes past him with groceries and tells him to get off the sidewalk.

For Daybutch, this crisis hits close to home.

“The stories that are coming out from the suicide crisis is that some of the older children from the families are making their choice to commit suicide so that the younger kids will have enough food to eat,” he says, struggling to get the words out.

Daybutch is in Toronto because he too made that choice.

“This is a personal thing that I haven’t told anybody here: that’s why I left my home,” he says, tears in his eyes and barely able to talk.

“When we had my youngest brother, I knew we were struggling so I told my family I’ll come down to the city, I’ll leave so that there’s enough food for everyone. I never came up with the choice to off myself. I made the choice to come down south and make a difference and here I am.”

On Friday night, a few dozen activists marched their cause up Yonge St. to the office of Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in a vigil for the nearly 300 under-20 Indigenous youth who’ve taken their lives in Northern Ontario since 1986.

Once the march began, and two lanes of traffic were blocked, lineups of cars waited patiently while others blared their horns in anger as drum rolls sounded out and flags and signs were carried north on Yonge St.

This is the second time in a year the activists have come to INAC to demand the federal government follow through on an election promise made to address a state of emergency declared last April by the northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat.

The state of emergency came after 100 people, including children, tried to kill themselves in the community of only 2,000.

On July 24, Indigenous leaders met with the federal government in Ottawa. Another meeting was arranged for September.

Out of the July meeting came four already-promised mental health workers for the northern community of Wapekeka and 20 more for Pikangikum, which is now the suicide capital of the world after five youth suicides last month, according to the vigil’s organizers.

“They have reneged and they’re going to have a meeting in September when they’re finished their holidays and vacation time,” says organizer Sigrid Kneve, two days after someone woke her up in the middle of the night to inform her that another Indigenous youth had taken her life.

This year alone, there have been more than 20 suicides in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which is located in northern Ontario and represents 49 First Nations communities.

“Since that meeting when they decided to have the meeting in September, another young person has killed themselves,” adds Kneve. “We want them to do something now! We don’t understand how it’s out of sight and out of mind.”

Outside their sidewalk tent, Toronto police frequently visit, stopping to check in and make sure they’re OK.

Bennett, too, often meets with them. But they say they are still awaiting action.

“How many young people are going to commit suicide from now until September?” asks Kneve.

For now, Daybutch waits on a sidewalk he has claimed as his own until his friends and family get the support he feels they deserve.

This story originally published Here.


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Canadian Tire Employee Involved In Altercation With Indigenous Elder Loses His Job

Kamo Cappo at a Canadian Tire store in east Regina

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, July 30, 2017

Canadian Tire says employee involved in altercation with Indigenous man at a Regina store is no longer with the company.

Kamao Cappo of the Muscowpetung First Nation posted a video to social media last week that showed an employee trying to physically removed him from the store.

Cappo, an Indigenous elder, said he was shopping for a chainsaw when the employee accused him of stealing.

Cappo disagreed and refused to leave the store.

Cappo who has a heart condition was injured in the confrontation.

Cappo told CTV Regina that he believes the fact that he is Indigenous was a factor in the employee’s response.

“The employee involved in the matter has not been working in the store since the incident and he is no longer with Canadian Tire,” the corporation announced Saturday on its official Twitter account.

“We have tried to reach Mr. Cappo again to express our sincere apologies,” said another tweet from Canadian Tire“We take this matter very seriously.”

Protesters gather outside a Regina Canadian Tire store on Friday, July 28, 2017.

About 50 people staged a demonstration outside of the store Friday to show support for Cappo.

Regina police have said they are investigating the incident as an assault.

 

Alt-Right Group Posts Names, Photos of ‘Potentially Dangerous’ Cornwallis Protesters

Personal information about people who have shown interest in protests against an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax has been posted online. For privacy protection, CBC has published only the information of persons included in the story. (Twitter )

28 people ‘doxed’ by national socialist group, some labelled as mentally ill

By Nic Meloney, CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2017

A group of self-described national socialists in Nova Scotia has posted personal information about people who have shown interest in protests calling for the removal of an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax, labelling them as “potentially dangerous.”

Cornwallis was a governor of Nova Scotia. In 1749, he issued a so-called scalping proclamation offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

On Saturday, a large crowd protested around the statue and demanded the likeness of Halifax’s controversial founder be removed from a downtown park.

Demonstators had earlier threatened on Facebook to remove the statue but relented when municipal crews covered the monument in black cloth for the duration of the event.

An anonymous Twitter user affiliated with Cape Breton Alt Right published a list online last Thursday, releasing the names, photos and other identifying details of 28 people interested in the removal of the statue — in a process known on the internet as “doxing.”

The list, later shared and discussed on Facebook, also included categories like:

  • Group affiliation (anti-Fascist, Communist, anarchist, LGBT).
  • Associates/sexual partners.
  • Occupation.
  • Contact info/social media links.
  • Location.
  • Interests.

The final “notes” column identifies some people as being “mentally ill and unstable,” “extremely militant and dangerous,” having histories of being “drunk and disorderly” and being on police watch lists.

Tied to anti-fascist organization

The list included a ‘notes’ column, labelling some people as violent or mentally ill. (Twitter)

Adam Lemoine of North Sydney was doxed as having affiliations with Antifa, a far-left, anti-fascist organization. He said he was “blown away” when he found out, as he has never even been to a protest.

“The only information they had correct was my name and my hometown,” said Lemoine, who caught wind of the list after it was posted on Facebook.​

“They have me playing an instrument I didn’t play, in a band that no longer exists.”

Lemoine said he clicked “interested” on a Facebook event for a protest last Saturday at the Cornwallis statue to get updates on what happened.

He believes the Twitter user who posted the list saw that, put his name into a search engine and listed what they found.

Activists protest at the base of the Edward Cornwallis statue last weekend after Halifax staff covered it with a black sheet. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

List created with public safety in mind: group

Lemoine said that when he asked the Cape Breton Alt Right group to remove his name from the list, it responded by saying even if he could prove his details were wrong, the rest of the information would stay.

The group continues to maintain anonymity and refused to be interviewed by the CBC over the phone or in person on the grounds that it would be “inappropriate.”

In an emailed statement, however, the group said it has received death threats almost daily since the list was posted.

The statement goes on to compare the actions of Cornwallis demonstrators to the destruction of historical sites in Palmyra by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and indicates the list was compiled over the course of about two months “in the interest of public safety.”

“The community at large has a right to know the identities of those around them who may pose a threat to their immediate safety and a threat to their property,” said the two-page statement, signed only by “leadership.”

Wrongfully labelled

Tanner Leudy, a student at Cape Breton University, shared the same event page for the Cornwallis protest on Facebook though he knew he couldn’t attend.

Leudy said he had never even heard of Antifa before the list linked him to the organization and he’s worried about how being associated with such a group could affect the future of those who’ve been doxed.

“I’ve never done anything to warrant [the inclusion],” said Leudy. “Being labelled as a dangerous protester, even if it’s not true, isn’t something that employers will want in their workplace.”

Anthony Leudy says he shared a Facebook event and then was wrongfully labelled ‘potentially dangerous’ by an anonymous Twitter user. (Twitter)

The group maintains all of the information was gathered within the public domain, referencing social media and news interviews, but David Fraser, an internet privacy lawyer in Halifax, said it’s the language of the list’s “notes” column that may push legal boundaries.

Questioning the legality

Information compiled from social media platforms is fair game when it comes to doxing, said Fraser.

However, he added that legal proceedings on doxing, as rare as they are, require that what has been published is explored as much as why it has been published.

“To be defamatory, all something has to do is to harm your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person,” said Fraser.

“It would seem to me that [the notes] at the end of the list would be, on its face, defamatory and the onus would shift to the person who said them to justify them as being true.”

Fraser said the Halifax Proud Boys provide a good example of doxing.

He said they were “implicitly doxed” by volunteering their personal information when showing up at an Indigenous rally on Canada Day in Cornwallis Park. They were recorded and the videos eventually made it to their workplace, resulting in their reprimand.

But, Fraser said, it’s part of the “rough and tumble” of freely expressed politics.

CBC News reached out to the Cape Breton Regional Police, the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. They say no investigation is ongoing because no one has come forward with a complaint.

Intention to intimidate?

El Jones says the doxing proves the extremity of the racism surrounding the Edward Cornwallis statue issue. (Twitter)

El Jones, Halifax’s former poet laureate and a well-known, outspoken activist, said she is not surprised she ended up on the list.

“You hope that this is just some form of extreme reaction that’s perhaps just intended to intimidate people,” said Jones.

“[But] you have to take seriously the intent behind it, which is an attempt to harm.”

[SOURCE]

 

 

Mounties Issue Plea for Help from Small Community to Find Girl’s Killer

Leah Anderson, a 15-year-old girl who was brutally slain and left on a snowy trail in Gods Lake Narrows, Man., in 2013. (RCMP photo)

The Canadian Press | July 18, 2017 

GODS LAKE NARROWS, Man. — RCMP have issued a plea on social media for help from a small, isolated Manitoba community to find the killer in their midst.

Manitoba Mounties posted on their Facebook page Tuesday the story of Leah Anderson, a 15-year-old girl who was brutally slain and left on a snowy trail in Gods Lake Narrows, Man., in 2013.

Her body was in such bad shape it was initially thought she had been attacked by wolves or dogs, but eventually investigators concluded she had been viciously beaten.

At first, RCMP asked volunteers to submit DNA samples, conducted interviews and even did lie detector tests, but one by one the suspects were ruled out.

However, on Tuesday, Mounties posted they have made “significant advancements” in the investigation.

They said they have narrowed down the remaining suspects and determined that the killer was a male and known to Anderson, but said they need the Cree community to “come together” with any new information that might lead to an arrest.

Located 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Gods Lake Narrows is accessible only by air or ice road in the winter.

The night Leah died started out as a typical one for the “bright, happy” teenager, Mounties said.

“Hey hey hey, you you you, how are you?” she kidded with a friend in her last post on Facebook.

She had planned to meet up with a buddy to go skating but the plans fell through so she headed toward the rink by herself at 7:30 p.m.

“Somewhere between her door and the arena, Leah met her killer,” said the RCMP. “He brutally beat her and left her dead on a snowmobile/walking trail.”

Her remains were found two days later.

“The popular, funny girl with so much potential was gone,” said the RCMP. “Not only was the community dealing with the grief of losing Leah, they had to come to terms with the brutal manner of her death and the fact that in their isolated community, where the ice road in and out was closed, the killer was still there.”

It was another blow for a family that had already endured much heartache. Leah’s father, Gilbert Duke, was slain when she was little, and she and her siblings went into foster care until an aunt and uncle in Gods Lake Narrows took them in.

In recent days, friends and relatives have been posting remembrances and pictures leading up to the RCMP’s announcement of a renewed push in the case.

For some, it has been tough.

“They say they have a suspect but shouldn’t because they have no actual evidence against him,” Eleanor Duke posted to the RCMP page. “I just want my sister to be at rest and for my family to get the justice she so truly deserves.”

[SOURCE]

Ontario First Nation ‘In Shock’ After Two More Young People Take Their Own Lives

A picture taken in Pikangikum on March 30, 2016 shows several homes in the community of approximately 3,000 residents.

  • Staff | The Globe and Mail, July 18, 2017

Two young girls took their own lives in Pikangikum this weekend, bringing to four the number of adolescents who killed themselves on the remote Ontario fly-in reserve in the past two weeks – another spate of such deaths in a community that has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.

The girls who died this past weekend were in their mid-teens.

Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl died by suicide. One of the girls who died on the weekend was a sister of the girl who died by suicide earlier this month.

The 49 communities within the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in Northwestern Ontario have grappled with the problem for decades. But halfway through this year, with the publicly known toll surpassing 20, there have already been more suicides in NAN territory than there were in any of the previous five years. More than half of the dead are between the ages of 10 and 15.

“We’re making every effort to prevent another life from being taken,” Dean Owen, the chief of Pikangikum, said on Monday as the First Nation of about 2,800 people waited for the girls’ bodies to be returned to their families following autopsies.

“The community is still very much in shock,” Mr. Owen said. But, he said, he and the other community leaders are at a loss for what they can do about the crisis.

As for the federal government, which funds First Nations’ health care, Mr. Owen said: “I would like to say, get a professional to come in and find out what’s going on in the minds of these young people.”

Pikangikum is no stranger to suicide epidemics. In 2000, after many deaths throughout the 1990s, one British sociologist said it likely had the highest suicide rate in the world. Between 2006 and 2008, 16 of its young people took their own lives. There was another string of deaths in 2011.

Suicide happens with alarming frequency through the reserves of Northwestern Ontario, but this year has been particularly difficult. The Wapekeka First Nation alone, with a population of about 400, has lost three 12-year-old girls. On Saturday, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation buried a youth who killed himself in Thunder Bay.

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, the deputy grand chief of NAN, said she has been trying to look at the lives of the young people who have killed themselves in her communities recently to determine if there are commonalities that can be addressed. “But we’re always responding to crises, and all of the resources that we have are all committed to that part of it, so we really don’t have the resources to develop some proactive and prevention measures,” Ms. Achneepineskum said.

When a child takes their life in a NAN First Nation, the community makes an effort to identify other children who are at risk and to take care of their immediate needs. That often means sending them to a city such as Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout or Ottawa for counselling. But that is a “very quick, Band-Aid solution” and there is little ability to do long-term followup because the resources are so stretched, Ms. Achneepineskum said. “We’re talking about youth here. We’re talking about youth that continue to die.”

Health Canada has sent additional supports to the affected communities and to the region at large, and is bolstering mental-health teams that serve NAN reserves. Jane Philpott, the federal Health Minister, said the suicides are an “unspeakable tragedy” and her department and others are working on the issue on an urgent daily basis.

“There is no question that this has to be addressed on a wide range of levels,” Dr. Philpott said. “We absolutely have to get to the root causes of why communities have lost hope and why there is this cycle of despair and continued [decisions by] people to act on their suicidal thoughts and not be able to see hope for their future.”

In fact, many of the root causes of the suicides are known, such as poverty, poor education, substance abuse and the loss of culture, something Dr. Philpott acknowledges.

“It is really a result of what we have tolerated as Canadians for generations now of discrimination, including things like, of course, residential schools, that have led to cycles of domestic violence that have taken root on some communities,” she said. “We need to acknowledge that we have done wrong by the First Peoples of Canada and we need to start to address that.”

[SOURCE]

SIU Lays Charges Against OPP, London Police in Death of First Nations Woman

Debra Chrisjohn. (Facebook)

Officers involved in woman’s death still on active duty 

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, July 13, 2017

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has laid charges against two police officers in the 2016 death of Debra Chrisjohn a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames.

In a release from the SIU, charges were laid against Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Const. Mark McKillop, and London Police Service (LPS) Const. Nicholas Doering for criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, 2016, police were called to Trafalgar Street and Highbury Avenue North in the east end of London.

According to CBC News, the SIU said there were reports of a woman obstructing traffic at the intersection.

Chrisjohn, 39, was arrested by London police and then transferred to the Elgin County OPP detachment on an outstanding warrant.

Paramedics took Chrisjohn to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital at 7:52 p.m. She was pronounced dead almost an hour later.

Both officers are still on active duty.

OPP say McKillop is on active duty with the force, while Doering is carrying out administrative duties with the London police.

The officers are ordered to appear in Ontario Court on July 31.

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Chief says RCMP Threatened to Call in Child and Family Services if Parents Failed to Leave Community

The Canadian Press | 

ALEXIS CREEK, B.C. – The chief of the Tl’etinqox First Nation said RCMP officers told them to leave or risk having their children taken away. Instead, they erected a fire boundary and prepared to fight.

“We are generation after generation that continue to live in a fire zone. This is not new to us,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, whose community is about 100 kilometres west of Williams Lake. “We feel this is the safest place for our community members to be.”

Emergency officials and police are urging British Columbia residents to respect evacuation orders ahead of fast-moving wildfires, but some First Nations are standing their ground, successfully protecting their homes and property.

There are about 1,000 residents on the reserve, but Alphonse said only about 300 stayed to fight the fires.

BC Wildfire Service chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek said there had been a slight reprieve in the weather forecast with some rain expected, bringing relief to the windy, hot and dry conditions fuelling nearly 200 fires and displacing more than 14,000 people.

Crews took advantage of calmer conditions Wednesday to make progress on fire guards near Williams Lake, where 10,000 people remain on evacuation alert.

With improved conditions, Alphonse said he finally had a moment to reflect on the three days of firefighting without the aid of power or telephone service.

He said Mounties told them to evacuate last weekend and the conversation quickly became heated.

As chief, he said his signature is required to enforce the evacuation order on the reserve, which he chose not to authorize.

Robert Turner of Emergency Management BC said Alphonse was correct. First Nations have the authority to issue their own evacuation orders for their territory.

“They would hopefully be taking advice from the same experts as a local government,” he said.

Alphonse said many in the community wanted to stay behind to fight and they have trained firefighters, access to heavy equipment and emergency plans to evacuate if they lost the battle with the fire.

He said an officer threatened to have the Ministry of Children and Family Services “remove all the children.”

Tempers flared and Alphonse said he suggested their own roadblocks would keep the Mounties out and if that didn’t work, perhaps warning shots above their heads would.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said in a statement Wednesday, “as far as the comments made by Chief Alphonse, we do not believe the comments made are reflective of the recent and continued meetings and conversations we have had with the chief.”

The RCMP’s responsibility is to “advise the public that there has been an order and advise them of the risk associated with staying,” Linteau told reporters on a conference call.

“Of course, if the person has the ability to make their own decision and they are over the age of 19, we will not force them to leave the home,” she said.

But she said if there are children under 19 at risk, police are required to move them to a safe location. No children have been removed by the RCMP to date, she added.

Alphonse disagrees that officers were trying to protect their children.

“The safest place for our kids is here with their families under the supervision of the leadership of this community,” he said.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said Indigenous Peoples have a fundamental right to make decisions about protecting and defending the safety, health and well-being of their community.

“If and when houses and band infrastructure are lost to these fires, it will take years to rebuild and we fear in many instances the homes and infrastructure may never be built,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said in a statement that the department is working with Emergency Management BC and First Nations to make sure the communities are supported.

B.C. Forest Minister John Rustad told radio station CHNL that the province was concerned about the situation.

“People are staying behind, they want to fight for their homes. That poses a very serious problem. We know these fires can be very, very volatile and can change at a moments notice,” Rustad said.

Ultimately, Alphonse said staying was the right decision and it saved at least 10 homes.

The chief of the Bonaparte Indian Band north of Ashcroft said they also defied an evacuation order over the weekend and successfully stopped flames from overrunning their reserve.

“My community has some really skilled firefighters, like a lot of First Nations reserves, and they came together and they stopped that wildfire from wiping out that whole community,” Chief Ryan Day said.

He said 60 of the band’s 280 members stayed to fight the fire.

The community doesn’t have a firehall, a new water reservoir hasn’t been connected to their main supply yet and they don’t have a formal emergency response plan in place.

But Day said the experience of the trained forest firefighters in his community and access to heavy equipment contributed to their success.

“We weren’t prepared for it of course because it happened in a blink of an eye, but we snapped into action and everyone did their part,” he said.

[SOURCE]

Chiefs of Ontario Call Out for Sacred Fires and Prayers

(Ken Gigliotti/The Canadian Press)

Call out for Sacred Fires and Prayers 

When: Sunday July, 9 2017

Time: All Day; Sunrise to Sunset

Where: Turtle Island – All Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Communities

From: Ontario Regional Chief, Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini

Purpose: Support, Prayers, Reflections of Hope and Clarity in the wake of rising Social Tragedy and Turmoil of First Nations Suicides


In light of the increasing number of violent deaths and suicides of First Nation children and youth in many First Nation communities across Turtle Island, this is a request for Sacred Fires to be lit and Prayers to be offered on Sunday July 9th 2017, anywhere, anytime and for anyone, any family, and any community that may be experiencing the tragedy of violence, loss and/or suicide.

Many leaders are currently discussing this issue and working hard to formulate strategies and responses specific to their communities and regions. The sad reality is that suicide is epidemic in many First Nation communities across the country. It is vital that we not only turn to political, clinical and mainstream approaches to address this tragic trend, but that we turn inward, upward and to the land for strength and clarity about this troubling time. Prayer and thoughtful reflection have always been a strong Indigenous value and cultural practice – we must rely on that more than ever at this moment.

Our Elders and Spiritual Knowledge Keepers have always been reminded as Indigenous Peoples that prayer and traditional protocols have great meaning, and have helped our Ancestors draw strength in the most difficult of times. Our Youth, Women, Elders, Children and Men, essentially Our Communities are in need of this spiritual strength now.

Prayers: A spiritual expression that comes from an individual, family or community. Prayers and reflection at home, in spiritual lodges, churches or sitting on the land – the request is that we take the time search and seek for strength, clarity and direction about the challenges that face our families and communities. Prayers can take place with oneself or with family or entire communities – spiritual expressions with a focus on faith and hope are much needed at this time.

Sacred Fires: Our sacred fires have increasingly become a source and symbol of strength and divine connection to the Creator. The sacred fires that help us govern our community gatherings, ceremonies and prayerful expressions as Indigenous Peoples, continues to be a way for our struggles to be refocused into clear understanding and clear direction about where we take challenges and painful issues facing our community.

Fires must be maintained with the utmost respect and consideration for those that come to seek a place to pray, place tobacco and medicines in the fire, and to reflect on issues weighing heavy on the mind and heart.

We are asking that these fires be lit for the day this Sunday from sun up, until sundown. These fires can be lit for the purpose of gathering to pray, lift the pipes, place offerings, or to gather as families or communities to discuss major issues facing our people. Sacred Fires should be tended by fire keepers, knowledge keepers, Elders or those who have experience with some of the protocols about the sacred fire.

Thoughtful and Safe Dialogue: The issues of suicide, family violence, poverty, and/or social challenges in our Indigenous Communities are often better understood and dealt with through discussion and dialogue. This means talking about these issues, and talking about them with a purpose to find the best possible way forward. Community, Family and Personal inflicted violence is tragic and must be addressed. Together we have to find common approaches and seek common solutions – it’s not easy, but finding thoughtful opportunities to talk about these things can and should happen as often as needed. Finding safe spaces and people that can provide safe support is important if we are to talk about these challenges issues that face our people, families and our communities.

The most important point is that we can no longer remain silent or afraid to talk about issues of fear, abuse and confusion. Supporting one another in our community’s means talking about these issues, and finding common approaches to healing and solutions that help strengthen Our Communities.

Prayer, Sacred Fires, Thoughtful and Safe Dialogue  – Sunday July 9th 2017 – we are looking to all of our Indigenous Communities across turtle island to light fires from sunrise to sunset; praying for our communities and others that may need support and encouragement.

We are also encouraging the use of social media as a way to convey positive messages, live feeds, and online discussion forums about building up and encouraging our communities, their families and those that need to know that they are loved and cared about.

“Let us put our minds together, and see what life we will make for Our Children.” – Sitting Bull

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