Halifax Council Votes to Immediately Remove Cornwallis Statue from Downtown Park

(CP )– Halifax council has voted to immediately remove a statue of Edward Cornwallis from a downtown park, with several councillors calling the bronze figure of the city’s controversial military founder a barrier to reconciliation.

After just over an hour of debate, it took less than 10 seconds for council to vote 12-4 to temporarily place the statue in storage until a decision is made on its long-term fate.

“The Cornwallis statue has become a powerful symbol,” Mayor Mike Savage told council. “I believe its continued presence on a pedestal in the middle of a city park is an impediment to sustained progress and forging productive, respectful and lasting relationships with the Mi’kmaq in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”

He added: “Halifax is not the garrison town of Edward Cornwallis. It’s a thriving, diverse, modern city that I believe will be largely shaped by those who’ve been here the longest and those who are finding it for the first time.”

Morley Googoo, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the decision to take down the statue is a “huge opportunity for the city.”

“Other municipalities across the country are dealing with the same very question about how to have a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” he told reporters following council’s decision. “Being here today and witnesses how we talked about it and the progress we’ve made in Halifax, I’m very proud to be here.”

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs had called Friday for the statue to be taken down immediately, because a panel appointed in October to study how the city commemorates Cornwallis had not even met yet.

“If we want reconciliation, we pull down the statue immediately,” said Coun. Richard Zurawski. “Let’s end the 500 years of broken promises and take away this visual symbol of supremacy.”

Savage told council that the issue of truth and reconciliation has been a long time coming. Speaking from prepared notes, he said “we are all a product of our history,” but we do not have to be a prisoner to it.

The mayor told council that removing the statue is not about re-writing history, but acknowledging that history is also not “cast in bronze.”

Cornwallis is a disputed character seen by some as a brave leader who founded Halifax, but by others as the commander of a bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against Mi’kmaq inhabitants.

“The status quo is completely untenable. The statue is a barrier to reconciliation,” Coun. Sam Austin said during the debate. “Cornwallis will always be in the history books. This is about how we commemorate him.”

A staff report suggested the Cornwallis statue could be taken down and stored at a cost of about $25,000.

It said it is concerned about rising tensions around the statue, citing a planned protest Sunday that could result in “damage to the statue, conflicts among protesters and counter-protesters and personal injury.”

“The statue has increasingly become a flashpoint for protests,” states the document, dated Jan. 27.

“Clashes arising from protests and counter-protests of controversial statues in other jurisdictions have in some cases resulted in injury and damage to public property and in a worst case, death. There is a reputational risk to Halifax from the attention associated with this unrest.”

One councillor, Steve Adams, called instead for leaving the statue but adding statues of Acadians, Mi’kmaqs and others in a “Founders Plaza” with interpretive panels.

“This is not the way to run a city, based on threats of violence,” he said.

Halifax councillors voted last fall to launch a special advisory committee that would provide council with advice on what to do with Cornwallis commemorations, as well as make recommendations for honouring Indigenous history.

But the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs has said it was frustrated with a process that has dragged on for “far too long.”

The assembly said it submitted names of potential Mi’kmaq panellists, but the committee has yet to be formed.

The council report also called on the mayor to “re-engage” the assembly in the committee.

“Removing the statue offers the opportunity to reduce the current volatility around discussions of commemoration, protect the statue, and undertake a public engagement in a less charged environment than is currently the case,” it states.

By: Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press



$1.1B Lawsuit alleges Horrors at Canada’s ‘Indian Hospitals’

Dynevor Indian Hospital is seen during the 1920s. (Source: Archives of Manitoba, Rupert’s Land Collection 152, N29451)

A $1.1-billion class-action lawsuit alleges the federal government is liable for the suffering and mistreatment of Aboriginal patients admitted to 29 “Indian hospitals” between 1945 and 1981.

The lawsuit contends that patients of these segregated hospitals were routinely sexually assaulted, beaten with rods and sticks, held in isolation rooms for long periods, deprived of food and drink without medical reason, physically restrained to beds and forced to eat their own vomit.

It alleges the government was fully aware of the “widespread physical, psychological, emotional, cultural and sexual abuses” but continued to operate the hospitals and “permit the perpetration of grievous harm.”

“I think people would be shocked to know that for almost 40 years Canada was operating a segregated health-care system, designing and implementing hospitals just for Indigenous Canadians where they first treated for tuberculosis, but ultimately expanded to include all other illnesses,” said Jonathan Ptak, a partner with Koskie Minsky, a Toronto law firm handling the case.

“They were taken from their homes, often in remote locations, and treated in these substandard hospitals,” he told CTV News Channel Tuesday.

The statement of claim, filed Jan. 25, alleges patients were “forcibly confined” in “overcrowded, poorly staffed and unsanitary facilities where they suffered consistent physical and sexual abuse.”

None of the allegations have been tested in a court.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, said in a statement: “While the Government of Canada respects the decision of plaintiffs to pursue their claims through the courts, Canada believes that the best way to address outstanding issues and achieve reconciliation with Indigenous people is through negotiation and dialogue rather than litigation.”

The “Indian hospitals” were established to test a new vaccine for tuberculosis on Aboriginal children. The last of them closed in 1981, according to the statement of claim.

“It’s been over 35 years and the survivors have been suffering largely in silence,” Ptak said. “But with the residential schools settlement, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and with a number of scholars across the country looking into this issue, these stories have been coming to light, to the point where they can now finally come forward and bring their story publicly.”

The residential schools settlement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, has set aside $1.9 billion for former residents of the schools.

The representative plaintiff in the hospital class-action is Ann Cecile Hardy, a member of the Metis Nation who lived in the Northwest Territories before being brought to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton in 1969 when she was 10. It was one of the largest Indian hospitals in Canada.

She alleges that in her four-month stay, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by hospital staff, and “witnessed the horrific sexual abuse of others as well,” says Ptak. Hardy was left “physically, emotionally and psychologically battered,” according to the statement of claim.

The class action is intended to covers patients, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Ptak said he hopes to have the lawsuit certified as a class action within a year.

“Every lawsuit is in part about compensation, but this lawsuit in particular is more about shining a light on this really dark chapter in Canadian history so that Canadians are aware of this,” said Ptak.

“My question is why did it take 35 years and the commencement of a lawsuit for the government’s attention to be garnered in this way?”

The lawsuit contends the federal government is liable for damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in the amount of $1 billion, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $100 million, plus court costs and interest.

“Canada ignored, remained willfully blind and permitted harm to Patient Class members in order to avoid scrutiny and unwanted publicity about its inappropriate, common practices and procedures concerning Indian hospitals.”

The lawsuit contends Aboriginal people, many of them young children, were forcibly removed from their homes and confined in hospitals if they had tuberculosis. They faced arrest if they tried to leave. Non-Aboriginal people were not subjected to that treatment.

The practice of bed confinement for those with TB continued in Indian hospitals long after it was abandoned in non- Aboriginal hospitals, the lawsuit claims. It says Native patients were restrained to beds or put in body casts for days, weeks, and sometimes months for no medical reason.

The facilities, found in six provinces and two territories, were often converted military barracks left over from the Second World War. The claim alleges that the facilities lacked the proper sanitary infrastructure because they were never intended as hospitals and that they were operated by poorly trained staff, including many graduates of foreign medical schools who hadn’t been properly licensed in Canada. Few staff spoke a Native language or had any understanding of the culture or beliefs of patients.

Read the statement of claim: on Scribd

CTV News published, January 30, 2018


Reader Submission

Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation sign framework agreement for Treaty

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett signs a framework agreement for treaty negotiations with Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear on Jan. 22, 2018. (650 CKOM)

Signing sets the stage for Whitecap Dakota Treaty

A new framework agreement between a Saskatchewan First Nation and the Canadian government sets the stage for what would be the first new treaty signed in the province since the beginning of the 20th century.

A historic agreement between Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation was signed earlier this week to negotiate a treaty with the Crown — for what will be known as the Whitecap Dakota Treaty.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear and Carolyn Bennett, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed the agreement Monday at the First Nation.

Whitecap is not part of any of the numbered treaties in Saskatchewan because the Dakota people were viewed as Native Americans rather than British or Canadian.

Bear says the six-page document builds on more than 230 years of shared history, including a military alliance and concurrent promise by British representatives to protect Dakota territory.

The historical relationship between the British and the Dakota is well documented. The Dakota were allies of the British before Confederation and fought alongside the British in the War of 1812.

According to the agreement, the negotiation mandate includes recognition of Whitecap Dakota’s rightful place in Canada, and an acknowledgement of contributions made by the Dakota in the founding and development of the country.

The mandate also includes “appropriate measures to realize equitable treatment and benefits as between (Whitecap Dakota First Nation) and Treaty First Nations,” as well as resources to “support a sustainable community.”

Bear said the main objectives for the First Nation in treaty negotiations are to acquire a larger land base for sustainable growth, money for economic development, capital projects and protecting language and culture and to be recognized as a Treaty First Nation.

Unlike most of Saskatchewan’s First Nations, which were allocated land under six numbered treaties, Whitecap Dakota’s land was provided by a federal order in council issued in 1889. Bear said he hopes to increase that allocation to 128 acres per person from 16 acres.

In the 1870s, Dakota Chief Whitecap was present at both Treaty 4 and 6 discussions, but wasn’t acknowledged as a signatory.

The framework that was signed Monday launches a negotiation process where the Whitecap Dakota will provide a list of issues they want the treaty to address. The finalized mandate will be presented to cabinet by Bennett for approval. Ottawa would then formally offer a treaty to the First Nation.

The Whitecap Dakota First Nation is part of the larger Dakota-Nakata-Lakota Nation whose traditional governance structure was called the Seven Council Fires or Oceti Sakowin, whose lands extended into both Canada and the United States.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation is located 26 kilometres south of Saskatoon.

Red Fawn Fallis Back in Custody on Pretrial Release Violation

Red Fawn Fallis stands outside the Federal Courthouse in Bismarck, N.D.

Pipeline protester accused in shooting arrested by US Marshals Service 

Red Fawn Fallis was arrested by US Marshals in Fargo Thursday for violating conditions of her pretrial release.

Fallis was charged for allegedly firing a handgun three times during her arrest at a Dakota Access Pipeline protest in October 2016. No one was injured.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland agreed in June to allow Fallis to move from jail to a halfway house over the objections of prosecutors. She was moved in October.

The High Plains Fugitive Task Force said a federal warrant was issued before Fallis was arrested without incident at a halfway house in Fargo around 5 p.m on Jan 18.

She was supposed to attend GED courses at the Adult Learning Center in Fargo Thursday morning, but never showed up, according to a petition filed by Fallis’ pretrial Services officer. She was also allegedly half an hour late returning to the halfway house.

Fallis was arrested after she returned and taken to the Cass County Jail, where she’ll remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until further order by the court.

It was reported Wednesday that Fallis reached a plea deal for her DAPL related charges.

She is scheduled to appear in Bismarck’s federal court Monday to plead guilty to civil disorder and gun possession to avoid trial.

Attorneys for Fallis said the decision was based on anti-protester sentiment in the area and unsuccessful attempts to have a judge order the prosecution to turn over more information, including details about an FBI informant Fallis alleges seduced her and owned the gun.

Her arrest Thursday won’t affect the hearing, but it could result in her being sent back to jail as the case proceeds.

Fallis was among 761 pipeline opponents arrested by authorities between August 2016 and February 2017 during protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota.

‘We Are Dying’: Maskwacis Community Members Overwhelmed by Suicides

Community members held a vigil to celebrate life in the wake of a wave of recent suicides in Maskwacis, Alta. on Saturday.

Community looking for answers after 14 deaths by suicide in less than 2 months

Emily Soosay is grieving the loss of her 22-year-old son Luwen Soosay-Morin, who took his life two days before Christmas. Saturday she attended a vigil for a celebration of life following a wave of recent deaths by suicide in her home community of Maskwacis, Alta.

She doesn’t want anyone else to die, in what she calls an “epidemic.”

“I am broken, hurt. I’m lost. I’m crying out for guidance,” she said.

“Right now our nation is in a state of crisis. We’re in need of help bad. We are dying. […] The chief should call a state of emergency.”

She has lost several family members and friends to suicide over the years — Soosay’s cousin also took her life just two weeks after her son. She was too traumatized to attend her cousin’s funeral.

Emily Soosay participated in the Walk for Life vigil in Maskwacis on Saturday in memory of her son Luwen Soosay-Morin who took his life two days before Christmas.

Maskwacis Indian Health Services mental health worker Rick Lightning said there have been 14 deaths by suicide within the four nations that make up Maskwacis since December 2017. He also believes local leadership should call a state of emergency because help is desperately needed.

“It’s a cultural crisis and spirituality. There’s a spirit here. At night sometimes I can feel the heaviness creep over the land, the dark side running around knocking on the doors and the windows looking for its next victim.”

Lightning has witnessed the numbers of suicides rise while growing up in the community with a population of approximately 17,000, and has been personally affected by it.

His own daughter and granddaughter died by suicide three years ago. At that time suicide was also rampant in Maskwacis with an estimated 70 people taking their lives in less than six months.

“When I was a young kid my dad used to get up at sunrise. He’d sing and he’d pray. He’d say ‘I’m not alone. There’s many other old people out there that are doing the same as me. We keep the dark side out of here,'” said Lightning.

Maskwacis Indian Health Services counsellor Rick Lightening with his daughter Amber who took her life in March 2015.

“It starts with that protective circle,” he added, saying he believes a loss of spirituality among young people has contributed to the suicide epidemic.

There are seven mental health workers that serve Maskwacis from the Indian Health Services centre, but Lightning said they are overloaded. His cell phone rings off the hook, day and night from people reaching out for help.

“People are destitute here. The only people that were doing well are the funeral homes making the money off of us.”

He hopes Maskwacis can come together to create a 24-hour youth safe centre. A warm place where individuals can go to talk, share their experiences and be encouraged to not give up.

Soosay also wants to see an emergency youth centre built.

Samson Band member Mason Buffalo remembers loved ones he’s lost to suicide while attending the Walk for Life in Maskwacis on Saturday.

“Our children are crying for help. It’s violence, it’s poverty — we’re facing it all first hand,” she said.

“But not just up to chief and council. It’s up to us as parents, community members, grassroots people to keep our youth alive and well.”

Samson band member Janet Swampy is also familiar with the effects of suicide, having lost six family members. She thinks the healing and intervention needs to come from inside the community.

She says the current system of emergency support is a phone line that connects callers to outside sources who are unfamiliar with Indigenous culture.

“As an Aboriginal individual if I was contemplating suicide and they gave me a suicide hotline, with my experience in the world today being ostracized by the white community, do you honestly think I’m going to grab that phone and talk to someone on the other side that doesn’t understand my culture?” asked Janet.

“We need to take care of our own. Have someone on the other end of line that understands us, youth, our elders and the whole community.”

Samson band councillor Katherine Swampy agrees that the solution to the current epidemic is community.

‘I don’t want to give suicide any more power.’ – Emily Soosay

“When people have a connection to each other they are stronger, they feel loved, they have supports to go to when they need help,” said Katherine.

“I noticed how scared our people are when they need help. They don’t look at hospitals or health centres as a place to go for help if they feel suicidal or depressed; they are afraid they’ll be locked up, or if they have kids, they are afraid their children will be taken away by children services.”

Her sister attempted suicide on Jan. 8 and is in the process of healing, she said. Katherine too once found herself contemplating suicide after fighting hopelessness.

She doesn’t think calling a state of emergency is the answer. In the past the community has asked for outside help, but says it hardly made a difference.

“Off-reserve facilities seem to be failing our people. Maskwacis health centre has counselling, mental health services, and community wellness has programs provided,” she said.

In the meantime Soosay is focusing on raising awareness in memory of her son.

“I have to go on without my baby. I’m embracing life now — I don’t want to give suicide any more power.”

By Brandi Morin, CBC News Posted: Jan 14, 2018


Reader submission 

Crown seeks adult sentence for second teen guilty in death of Serena McKay

(Image: Serena McKay / Facebook)

A second teen has pleaded guilty for her role in the death of 19-year-old Serena McKay.

Mckay was killed in April of last year on Sagkeeng First Nation. A graphic video showing the teen being brutally beaten the night she died was later circulated on social media.

The girl, 16 at the time, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Winnipeg youth court on Wednesday. The Crown is asking for an adult sentence.

Sentencing for the teen will take place in June.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, an 18-year-old woman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December for her part in the death of McKay, who was found dead outside a home on Sagkeeng. The Crown did not seek an adult sentence for that teen.

Her sentencing hearing is set for April.

McKay likely froze to death, left helpless after a violent attack. She was reported missing on Sunday, April 23, and about two hours later, McKay’s body was found by a community member.

The two girls, who cannot be named because of their ages, were arrested and charged with second-degree murder a few days later.

All three teenagers attended the same Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School,

Drunken argument led to the vicious on-camera beating

CBC News reports, the court heard that there were seven people at a party, including the accused and McKay, on the night of Saturday, April 22.

A fight broke out between the accused teenager and McKay over alcohol and at some point McKay was kicked out of the party. That’s when the fight turned physical.

Two videos filmed — which later became widely shared on Facebook — showed McKay being beaten.

Mckay’s death attracted national attention and prompted a call to action against violence in Sagkeeng, located 140 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Artificial Intelligence Pilot Project to look for Suicide Warning Signs across Canada

Pilot will examine all parts of country including Indigenous communities

An Ottawa-based firm has been tapped by the federal government for a three-month pilot project designed to look for warning signs for suicide before tragedy strikes.

Advanced Symbolics Inc., is an artificial intelligence service company set to examine suicide hot spots across the country to better understand precursors to suicide.

The pilot, expected to start by the beginning of February, will examine all parts of the country including Indigenous communities, said chief scientist Kenton White, though he stressed the goal is not to focus on any particular group.

“What we would like to try and understand is what are the signals … that would allow us to forecast where the next hot spots are so that we can help the government of Canada to provide the resources that are … going to be needed to help prevent suicide before the tragedies happen,” White said.

There were a number of high profile “hot spots” in 2017, White added, noting northern communities and places like Cape Breton were hit particularly hard by spikes in suicide.

Advanced Symbolics’ pilot will not identify individuals, White added, saying safeguards are in place to ensure individuals can’t be identified within samples.

“This is not Minority Report and we are not identifying individuals who … have risk of self harm,” he said.

“We are not knocking on doors or contacting individuals. We have nothing that is personally identifiable about any individuals in this study.”

Instead, the company turns to a technique to create randomized, controlled samples of social media users in all regions.

The project will only use anonymous data already in the public domain for surveillance purposes, according to the Public Works contract award document posted online.

White, also an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, said Tuesday his biggest hope is the research can demonstrate a positive application for artificial intelligence.

“So many times in AI research we hear the stories about AI is going to take jobs … Big Brother is spying on us,” he said.

“If you can show that (suicide) rates have gone down because we have deployed this sort of study, that would be most gratifying.”

Dr. Stan Kutcher, a Dalhousie University psychiatry professor who examined a spate of Cape Breton teen suicides in 2017, said this summer that authorities need to look beyond bullying in their response to tragedies, adding there is a tendency to assume it causes “every single problem” young people have and that it is “just not true.”

The Canadian Press


Family says Indigenous Elder Humiliated by Search at Sask. Canadian Tire Store

Gordon Albert, 78, searched by an employee at the North Battleford Canadian Tire.

Elder from Sweetgrass First Nation searched at North Battleford Canadian Tire store

First Nations elder says he was humiliated when an employee searched him at a Canadian Tire store in Saskatchewan earlier this week.

“They really, really embarrassed us,” said Gordon Albert, 78, of the Sweetgrass First Nation Thursday. “They thought that since we’re native we’d steal something.”

Albert was in North Battleford shopping for a gift with his wife Marlene and son Deryk on Monday, but they didn’t find what they were looking for.

The anti-theft sensor by the door beeped as they left and an employee stopped them and asked him to take off his coat, his wife said.

“That lady took his cigarettes out, took his phone out. She was just going through his pockets,” she said. “He said, ‘What else do you want me to take off? My clothes?”‘

The employee never explicitly accused her husband of stealing, but the encounter was upsetting, she said.

The couple have been driving buses on the Sweetgrass reserve and in town for decades and are well known for their work with the local minor hockey team, she said.

They go to Canadian Tire often to shop for gardening supplies or things for their vehicle and have never had an experience like this.

Gordon Albert said the suggestion that he would steal makes no sense.

“I make enough money that I can buy whatever I want. I don’t have to go that route,” he said.

Canadian Tire said in a statement that staff asked to inspect Albert’s belongings, as they normally would when an alarm goes off.

They determined that the sensor was triggered by something they had bought elsewhere.

“Recent conversations between the store and Mr. Albert and his family have been positive and productive, and the store considered the matter to have been resolved,” the company said.

Albert said the store manager called to apologize the next day.

“He said ‘sorry, sorry sorry.’ I said ‘that’s not going to help,”‘ he said.

He said he told the manager that Canadian Tire had been one of his favourite stores in North Battleford.

Albert said he won’t shop there again.

But he said he can also understand why the store would want to crack down on theft.

Deryk Albert said he got a call from the manager, too.

“He said, ‘It wasn’t a race thing’ and I said, ‘It was a race thing,”‘ he said.

It was embarrassing to have everyone in the store looking at them, he said.

“It just offended me … I was pretty upset all that day.”

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said the retail industry needs a wake-up call.

“The family is still considering their options, but at the very least, I am recommending that they file a human rights complaint,” said Chief Bobby Cameron.

Gordon Albert said he’s not keen on doing that.

“I’m kind of forgetting about it,” he said. “Why cry over spilled milk?”

By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press 


Grizzly Bear Hunting Banned in British Columbia

There are about 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia

British Columbia has formally brought an end to grizzly bear hunting in the province.

The B.C. government says public consultations have made it clear that killing grizzlies is no longer socially acceptable.

On Monday the NDP banned all grizzly bear hunting in the province with immediate effect.

According to the government, 78 per cent of British Columbians recommended grizzly hunting be stopped entirely.

First Nations will still be allowed to hunt grizzlies for food, social or ceremonial reasons, or for treaty rights.

The government estimates there are about 15,000 grizzly bears in the province.

The grizzlies will now be protected province-wide from both trophy and regular hunting.

In August, the provincial government announced a ban on trophy hunting across all of B.C., which came into effect following the close of the fall hunting season on Nov. 30.

Around 300 grizzly bears are killed in the hunt every year, about 250 of which are taken by non-First Nations hunters.