Former SQ Officer Alain Juneau, Accused of Abuse of Aboriginals, Found Dead at Home

alain-juneau

Alain Juneau was facing charges dating back to the 1990s, when he was a Sûreté du Québec officer in the northern village of Schefferville, Que. (Radio-Canada)

Red Power Media | January 4, 2017

MONTREAL — The coroner’s office in Quebec confirmed Wednesday it is investigating the death of a retired officer recently charged with sexual assault in connection with an investigation into claims of abuse against indigenous women.

Alain Juneau, 56, died in his home Sunday in Rimouski, 300 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, coroner’s office spokeswoman Genevieve Guilbault said by email.

“His death is currently under investigation by a coroner and any information related to the probable cause and circumstances surrounding his death will be included in the coroner’s report, which will be made public in the coming months,” she said.

Juneau, a retired provincial police officer, was charged in November with sexual assault and assault, allegedly committed between 1992 and 1994 in Schefferville, a town on the Lower North Shore.

He was one of two retired officers charged after Montreal police concluded a high-profile investigation into claims that indigenous women in northern Quebec were abused by police.

Originally six provincial police officers in the northern town of Val-d’Or were accused of physically and sexually abusing indigenous women following an investigative report by Radio-Canada in 2015.

Quebec’s Public Security Department mandated the Montreal police force to investigate the allegations.

By April 2016, Montreal police had 38 cases of complaints of police abuse, including rape, sexual assault, harassment and so-called “starlight tours,” where police would allegedly take people against their will and drive them far outside town and abandon them.

In November, Crown prosecutors concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge any of the six provincial police officers originally accused, but brought charges against Juneau and another officer for alleged assault committed in a separate northern town.

Premier Philippe Couillard announced in December the creation of a provincial inquiry into relations between First Nations peoples and various government-run bodies, including the police.

Source: The Canadian Press

First Nations Deeply Involved In Natural Resource Development

First Nations Benefits and Opportunities

First Nations Benefits and Opportunities: Chevron

Report commissioned by the Indian Resource Council finds First Nations are deeply involved in natural resource development.

The Canadian Press | June 22, 2016

Canada’s First Nations have a stake worth hundreds of millions of dollars in resource industry development and are likely to call more of the industry’s shots in the future, concludes a research paper.

“There is not going to be a very substantial expansion of the resource sector in Canada without full partnerships with indigenous Canadians,” said Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan.

Coates wrote the report for the Indian Resource Council, an aboriginal group that represents First Nations oil and gas producers.

Coates notes that aboriginal opinion on new energy, pipeline and mineral projects reflects the same splits in the rest of Canada.

He writes while many “connected to broader environmental and climate change protesters” oppose such developments, others welcome well-regulated proposals.

Coates cites several examples of bands that have prospered. Saskatchewan’s Meadow Lake Tribal Council controls companies that earn up to $80 million and employ nearly 200 aboriginals through work with uranium mines.

Alberta’s Onion Lake band owns 400 oil wells that pumped 14,000 barrels in 2014.

Gerald Amos, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, speaks as BC First Nations Leaders come together to voice their rejections for the Petronas' Pacific Northwest LNG project during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Gerald Amos, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, speaks as BC First Nations Leaders come together to voice their rejections for the Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG project during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Other First Nations have taken equity positions in projects proposed for their traditional lands, such as the 35 per cent ownership share offered B.C.’s Haisla band in the Kitimat LNG plan. The band sold the option and reinvested the money.

Coates writes, however, that owning service businesses and equity stakes has not yet brought much in the way of control.

“Equity ownership rarely includes First Nations representation on the corporate board of governors,” he said.

As well, aboriginal equity in the resource sector is dwarfed by the amount of money in play. Suncor, Canada’s largest energy firm, is worth nearly $43 billion.

But companies – driven by a series of legal judgments – are slowly accepting the need to include aboriginals earlier and earlier in the process, said Coates.

“The known rules now include First Nations and indigenous engagement. Any company that wants to do business in Canada should know now that early involvement of the indigenous population is the only way to go.”

Representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as those from a number of bands contacted by The Canadian Press, were celebrating National Aboriginal Day and not available for comment.

Coates’s report comes as Canada debates projects such as pipelines that cross many First Nations communities.

Reformed environmental approval “at the highest level possible” would go a long way toward reigniting those stalled projects, Coates suggests. So would a set of federal-provincial-First Nations financial agreements.

Sharing resource revenues with aboriginal governments is increasingly widespread. In the three northern territories, Coates said, it’s already the law and is likely to become standard practice.

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall leads the only province that actively opposes resource-revenue sharing.

Coates said it’s a mistake to think aboriginals are automatically opposed to resource development. He said Canada has a chance to bring its resources to market with the consent and full participation of First Nations.

“The way it’s going to go is real, substantial sustained partnerships,” he said. “This is the way of the future.”

http://www.bnn.ca/News/2016/6/22/First-Nations-a-growing-influence-in-resource-industry-development-Study.aspx

Court Oaths On Eagle Feathers Now Permitted For Aboriginals In Ottawa

Residential school survivor Madeleine Basile holds up an eagle feather as she speaks during the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

Residential school survivor Madeleine Basile holds up an eagle feather as she speaks during the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

The Huffington Post Canada | By Jesse Ferreras, 01/26/2016

To swear on a Bible is to pledge that you’ll tell the truth in a courtroom.

But Ontario courts have found a whole new way for indigenous people to swear an oath, rather than have them do it on the text of the Christian faith.

The Ottawa Courthouse is allowing aboriginal people to swear on eagle feathers after two such items were handed over to staff in a ceremony last week, CBC News reported.

They were gifts from Greg Meekis, community justice programme coordinator at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. He provided them after one of his clients asked to swear on an eagle feather, but wasn’t able to last year.

“I was gifted with feathers during the course of my life as well,” he told the network.

“I’ve had these two, and following the teachings that we are just carriers of these sacred items, the keepers, until such time that there’s an opportunity to pass them on, I saw this opportunity to pass these two eagle feathers on to the courthouse. That way they’ll be available to our people when the time comes.”

NDP MLA Elijah Harper sits in the Manitoba legislature holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength as he delays a house debate on the Meech Lake Accord on June 19, 1990. (Photo: Wayne Glowacki/Winnipeg Free Press via CP)

NDP MLA Elijah Harper sits in the Manitoba legislature holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength as he delays a house debate on the Meech Lake Accord on June 19, 1990. (Photo: Wayne Glowacki/Winnipeg Free Press via CP)

Eagles are considered sacred figures in certain indigenous cultures, and they’re often used in important rituals and events.

Former Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, for example, held an eagle feather as he delayed discussion of the Meech Lake Accord in the provincial legislature in 1990, effectively blocking its passage.

APTN reporter Nigel Newlove said that residential school and religion have left a “sour taste” with indigenous people, and the feathers provide them with a new option.

The feathers will be kept in a case at the Ottawa Courthouse, and court operations director Jan Crozier has been instructed to open it every day to “let the spirits breathe,” the network said.

“They’ll be under lock and key, but they will be breathing every day,” she said.

truth and reconciliation

Debbie Stephens holds an eagle feather as she pauses before the start of the Walk for Reconciliation, part of the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on May 31, 2015 in Gatineau. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)

Ottawa isn’t the only city that allows people to swear on eagle feathers — any Ontario courthouse can allow witnesses to use them, if they have them.

Feathers were, for example, given to courthouses in North Bay and Brantford, Ont. in 2012, The Toronto Sun reported.

Sherry Lewis, Brantford Native Housing’s then-manager of community programs, suggested that the oath’s wording be changed to the following, for those who chose to swear on them: “This eagle feather symbolizes our direct connection to the Creator for my people and I hold it in the spirit of truth.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/01/26/aboriginal-court-oath-eagle-feather_n_9074136.html


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Aboriginals Far More Likely To Die Violently Than Other Canadians

WPTV-crime-scene-police-tape-generic-red-hue_1421855774996_12706266_ver1.0_640_480

by COLIN PERKEL, THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO – Canada’s aboriginals were far more likely to die violently than other Canadians in 2014, with aboriginal men at greater risk than women, Statistics Canada reports.

Aboriginals are also much more likely to be accused of violence, according to the agency.

Overall, aboriginals accounted for 23 per cent of all homicide victims last year, even though they made up only five per cent of the population.

“Aboriginal people were victims of homicide in 2014 at a rate that was about six times higher than that of non-aboriginal people,” Statistics Canada says.

Experts have long blamed residential schools, poverty and lack of supports for the disproportionate rates of violence and substance abuse among Canada’s aboriginal communities.

Lisa Monchalin, a criminology professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, says the statistics reflect the sorry history of how Canada’s aboriginals have been treated.

“We had seven generations of our people put through those residential schools where we experienced violence,” Monchalin says.

“All of the trauma and the impacts resulting from that are still felt in our communities.”

However, last year marked the first time StatCan’s homicide survey had complete police-reported data on the aboriginal identity of victims and those accused of homicide.

The data shows aboriginal males were seven times more likely to be homicide victims compared with non-aboriginal males and three times more likely than aboriginal females. The rate for aboriginal females was six times higher than for non-aboriginal women.

The data also show police had a significantly higher success rate in solving killings involving aboriginal victims — 85 per cent as opposed to 71 per cent.

Most aboriginal victims knew their killers, with aboriginal women much more likely to be killed by family members than their non-aboriginal counterparts but less likely to die at the hands of a current or former spouse or acquaintance.

The odds of an aboriginal man being killed by a spouse is nine times higher than for non-aboriginal males.

There’s little difference between First Nations and other Canadians when it comes to being killed by a stranger.

When it comes to perpetrators, however, aboriginals are much more likely to be accused of homicides than their non-aboriginal counterparts.

Overall, one-third of Canadians accused last year of homicide were aboriginal — 10 times the rate for non-aboriginal accused.

The differential was especially marked for aboriginal women, who accounted for fully half of all females accused.

The agency also made police-reported data available on the aboriginal identity of female homicide victims for the years 1980 to 2013.

The proportion of homicide victims who are aboriginal women has climbed sharply in recent decades, even though the number of victims has not changed much. That’s because the number of non-aboriginal women killed has been declining since 1991.

Between 1980 and 2014, police reported a total of 6,849 women killed. Female aboriginals accounted for 1,073 or 16 per cent of those.

Aboriginals accounted for one in five female homicide victims last year.

Provincially, aboriginal victims were most likely to be found in Manitoba, where the rate was nine times higher than for non-aboriginal. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick reported no killings of aboriginals.

SUMMARY

Aboriginals are much more likely to be accused of violence

Aboriginals accounted for 23 per cent of all homicide victims last year

http://www.news1130.com/2015/11/25/aboriginals-die-violently-canadians/

 

Premier’s ’60s Scoop’ Apology Criticized By Manitoba Métis Federation

By Red Power Media, Staff

Manitoba’s Metis Federation President says his people are being left out.

Manitoba’s Metis federation says its people are being left out of an apology — set to happen on Thursday at the legislature — for aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and adopted into white families.

The apology, thought to be the first by a Canadian province, is directed at individuals from the so-called “60s Scoop,” which many see as an extension of Indian residential schools policy.

Premier Greg Selinger said the apology, will acknowledge damage done to those taken from their homes and their culture. Manitoba was one of the provinces most affected, so it is appropriate that it be among the first to apologize, he said.

“It’s an acknowledgment that they did lose contact with their families, their language, their culture,” Selinger told The Canadian Press. “That was an important loss in their life and it needs to be acknowledged. It’s part of the healing process.”

Manitoba’s Metis Federation President David Chartrand said no one from the Manitoba government consulted with the Metis or formally invited him to the event. The Metis were left out of the residential school settlement and it feels like the same thing is happening again, he said.

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, says his people are being left out of an apology for the '60s Scoop.

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, says his people are being left out of an apology for the ’60s Scoop.

Manitoba appears to be blaming Ottawa for what is known as the ’60s Scoop when it was provincial social workers who seized aboriginal children and placed them with families as far away as the southern United States, Chartrand said.

“It’s the province that took our children. It’s the province that sold our children to the United States and other places. It’s the province that did harm to my families.”

“Clearly we’re not going to let the province get away from this.,” said Chartrand.

Paul McKie, spokesman for Selinger, said numerous aboriginal organizations have been invited to witness the apology. The Manitoba Metis Federation was invited Friday by phone, by email and formally by letter, he said.

The province, along with affected adoptees, has been working on the apology for months, he said.

“Many people, groups and organizations have been invited,” McKie said. “There were informal consultations with many people.”

An apology without a plan and proper consultation with those affected is empty, said Chartrand, who has worked with ’60s Scoop adoptees and their families for years.

“You can’t just say ‘I’m sorry’ and walk away. You did permanent damage here. You tore entire communities apart. Maybe they’re thinking if they say ‘I’m sorry’ that ends my responsibility.”

Grand Chief David Harper, with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak which represents northern First Nations, still remembers children being taken away from his community, never to be seen again. He said he will be there to witness the apology but will also be looking for more.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child-welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families. Many have filed class-action lawsuits in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Another class-action lawsuit in Ontario is still making its way through the courts.

Residential school survivors have had a formal apology from Ottawa and were able to speak at hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which released its final report. The ’60s Scoop’ adoptees have been fighting for the same recognition of their experience and a formal apology. 

Source articles:

http://www.vancouversun.com/Manitoba+apologize+aboriginals+taken+from+parents+adopted+into+white+families+Scoop/11131157/story.html

http://globalnews.ca/news/2055457/manitoba-metis-federation-president-criticizes-60s-scoop-apology/

First Nations Chiefs End Occupation Of Christy Clark’s Office

Chiefs are ending occupation of Christy Clark's office.

First Nations chiefs have ended their occupation of Premier Christy Clark’s office.

By Red Power Media Staff

First Nations Chiefs have ended their occupation of Premier Christy Clark’s office in West Kelowna after being guaranteed a high-level meeting with government officials (Tuesday) in Merritt.

The six day occupation started after Chiefs said they were unable to have an open dialogue with the province over their concerns regarding the trucking of sewage sludge from the Central Okanagan to land near Merritt.

“We decided we had no choice but to begin the occupation once it became clear that the province was refusing to take our concerns seriously,” said Upper Nicola Indian Band Chief Harvey McLeod.

“The province should have sought our consent before allowing any kind of biowaste dumping on our lands. Instead, the Province refused to give us proper information about the effects of biowaste and went ahead and allowed the operations without even consulting us.”

At the time, Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band said leaders had met Environment Minister Mary Polak twice and asked her to disclose where the waste was being spread, but the government only provided a partial list.

The leaders said they were worried about impacts on land, water, traditional foods and health and noted the government is legally obligated to consult with aboriginals.

“It is time to move forward with resolving this issue on a government-to-government basis,” Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan said in a release.

During the occupation RCMP members were on site both day and night ensuring the protest remained peaceful.

Cpl. Joe Duncan told Castanet there had been no issues with the demonstrators and officers wished to show their appreciation for the peaceful protest.

“Supt. Tim Head gave Chief Sam a blanket, a symbol of respect for going through these peaceful negotiations and having an open and honest dialogue.”

Although he had never seen a gesture such as this before, Cpl. Duncan did say the RCMP giving the blanket was a positive step in any negotiations and that officers respect everyone in the community.

Facebook Page Targeting Winnipeg Aboriginals Pulled Down

Before disappearing on Wednesday, the Facebook page had close to 5,000 members and was filled with negative comments about aboriginal people. (iStock)

Before disappearing on Wednesday, the Facebook page had close to 5,000 members and was filled with negative comments about aboriginal people. (iStock)

CBC News

A Facebook page that attacked aboriginal people in Winnipeg and re-ignited the racism debate in the city, has been pulled down.

The page, called “Aboriginals Need to get a job and stop using our tax dollars,” claimed support for Kelvin High School teacher Brad Badiuk who was suspended in January after making racist comments on his own Facebook page.

Facebook page

A screen grab of the controversial Facebook page. (Facebook)

The page was created in December — the same month Badiuk’s posting was made. Before disappearing on Wednesday, the page had close to 5,000 members and was filled with negative comments about aboriginal people.

Robert Sinclair, an aboriginal man, who came across the page on Tuesday, called it a hate crime and hopes the people behind it are held accountable.

Aboriginal Facebook page

A note on the Facebook page claims support for Brad Badiuk. (Facebook)

“Knowing the fact that people [were] looking at and supporting it, it doesn’t say a great deal of positive outlook for the way that Winnipeg is directing themselves,” he said.Just before it was pulled down, the page started getting a lot of posts critical of it, with at least one person calling the administrators “racist a—holes.”

A new Facebook page called Protest against “Aboriginals Need to get a job and stop using our tax dollars” started in response and was applauding the removal of the racist page.

‘Inspiring, important moment’

One aboriginal leader says he’s not angry by the page, but rather inspired by the opportunities it presents.

Niigaan Sinclair, who teaches indigenous literature, culture, history and politics at the University of Manitoba, said it used to be that no one talked about racism, that it was swept under the rug.

Now, people talk about racism and relationships every day, and that is the only way to make things better.

“I actually think this is a really inspiring important moment,” he told CBC News on Wednesday, adding he wants people to talk about what it means to be a meaningful citizen in this city.

Activists, aboriginals fear anti-terror bill will tread on rights

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto's financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto’s financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian Press

Federal assurances the government’s anti-terrorism bill will not be a licence to spy on activists have done little to calm the fears of aboriginal leaders, environmentalists and human rights advocates.

Several critics said Thursday they have strong reason to believe legislation would be used to step up surveillance of protesters opposed to petroleum projects and other resource developments.

“We don’t want to be labelled as terrorists in our own territories, our own homelands, for standing up to protect the land and waters,” Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde told the House of Commons public safety committee.

(What is the Conservatives’ new anti-terror bill and what are the privacy concerns? Read The Globe’s easy explanation)

The committee plans to hear more than 50 witnesses on the bill, introduced in response to extremist-inspired attacks that killed two Canadian soldiers last October.

The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the ability to actively disrupt terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers and take aim at terrorist propaganda.

In addition, the bill would relax the sharing of federally held information about activity that “undermines the security of Canada.”

Neither the new disruptive powers nor the information-sharing provisions apply to “lawful” advocacy, protest or dissent, but some fear the bill could be used against activists who demonstrate without an official permit or despite a court order.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the committee earlier this week such concerns were ridiculous, saying the legislation is not intended to capture minor violations committed during legitimate protests.

Roxanne James, Blaney’s parliamentary secretary, used much of her allotted time during the committee meeting not to ask questions of the witnesses, but to reiterate Blaney’s assurances.

There is strong reason to suspect the new powers could – and would – be used against those advocating for clean water, ecosystem protection and an end to climate change, said Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada.

“We are very concerned that the draft legislation appears to environmental and First Nation climate activists as a threat to security,” she told the MPs.

Kerr pointed to the recent leak of an RCMP intelligence assessment, Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry, that said those within the movement are willing to go beyond peaceful actions and use “direct action tactics, such as civil disobedience, unlawful protests, break and entry, vandalism and sabotage.”

If an aim of the bill is to avoid targeting legitimate dissent, then parliamentarians “have an obligation to write the legislation so it cannot be used in that way,” she added.

Recent examples show the government already takes a very wide view as to what constitutes a threat to Canada’s security, said Carmen Cheung of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

“We need only to look at CSIS and RCMP monitoring of non-violent protests undertaken by First Nations and environmental groups,” she told the MPs.

The bill’s information-sharing provisions are “fundamentally flawed” and should not be enacted, Cheung said.

She echoed concerns raised by privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien that the scope of the warrantless sharing would be excessive and put the personal information of Canadians at risk.

Stephen Maher: Harper and aboriginals not in same room, let alone on same page

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Governor General David Johnston, right, present the Outstanding Achievement Award to Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister of trade and negotiations in the Department of Foreign Affairs, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Friday, February 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Governor General David Johnston, right, present the Outstanding Achievement Award to Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister of trade and negotiations in the Department of Foreign Affairs, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Friday, February 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

By Stephen Maher | National Post

On Friday afternoon, Stephen Harper went to Rideau Hall to present the Public Service of Canada’s Outstanding Achievement Award to Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister of trade.

The prime minister did not have time, or judge it appropriate, to attend another event taking place in Ottawa: the national roundtable on missing and murdered aboriginal women, which took place in a downtown hotel.

The federal government, which needs to lead the national response to the urgent and terrible problem facing aboriginals, is unenthusiastic.

Aboriginal leaders sat down with provincial representatives, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, and two federal ministers, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch.

They listened to the relatives of missing and murdered aboriginal women, adopted a vague framework for action and agreed to meet again next year.

At the closing news conference, national chief Perry Bellegarde said leaders have to put their minds to closing the “huge socioeconomic gap that exists between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples.”

“The United Nations human development index has rated Canada sixth-best place to live in the world, up here,” he said.

“But you apply the same index to indigenous people, we’re 63rd, down here. If people cannot get their heads around inherent rights or treaty rights or aboriginal rights, then start getting your heads around the business case. There’s a high social cost to that gap.”

Mr. Bellegarde, naturally, wants Ottawa to help close that gap, which would mean spending money.

The Harper government, which spends $11-billion on aboriginals every year — much of it as mandated by treaties — doesn’t want to do this, because there are no votes in it and the Tories don’t really like government programs.

It also refuses to set up a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, both because it would cost money and would shift the national media spotlight onto the problem, putting pressure on it to take action, which is what it says it wants to do, but which it does not want to do.

Nothing is stopping the government from taking action now, but if you look at the five-year, $25-million national action plan ministers point to, you see little of it is specific to aboriginals. And the amount is piddling: $5-million a year. In comparison, the government will spend $65-million this year on advertising, much of it tailored to give Canadians warm feelings about the incumbent Conservatives.

If the government really wanted to pretend to take action, it would have made a big show of spending more on aboriginal policing, which would be sure to do a lot of good in the most troubled communities in Canada.

The one new initiative the government has signed on for since this issue came to the fore last year is a prevention program, aimed at convincing aboriginal men not to commit acts of violence against aboriginal women.

This program, which may be helpful, dovetails with the government’s message — aboriginals are themselves to blame for high levels of violence, part of a long tradition of federal politicians shirking responsibility for aboriginal problems.

“Obviously, there’s a lack of respect for women and girls on reserves,” Mr. Valcourt said last year. “So, you know, if the guys grow up believing that women have no rights, that’s how they are treated.”

Aboriginals complained his comments amount to victim-blaming. They point out many aboriginal women are murdered by non-aboriginals, like Robert Pickton, and the best way to make them safer is to provide them with better social support.

The government does not see it that way.

“I think we should not view this as sociological phenomenon,” Mr. Harper said in August after the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. “We should view it as crime.”

In December, he told CBC’s Peter Mansbridge an inquiry “isn’t really high on our radar.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 following the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Aboriginal leaders complained Friday about Mr. Harper’s reluctance to take action, but he was not there to hear them. And when they complained at the closing news conference, Ms. Leitch and Mr. Valcourt didn’t have to listen to it. They held a separate newser in another hotel.

At events like this, the tedious cliché is everyone needs to work together on this problem.

The provinces and aboriginals’ groups seem to be trying to do that. The feds are in a separate room.

National Post, February 27, 2015 | Last Updated: Mar 1

Aboriginal adoptees suing Ottawa for “cultural genocide”

Aboriginal adoptees are suing Ottawa for what they are calling cultural genocide. File / Global News

Aboriginal adoptees are suing Ottawa for what they are calling cultural genocide.
File / Global News

The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG – Aboriginals who were adopted into white families during the so-called ’60s Scoop are suing the federal government for their loss of culture and emotional trauma.

Almost 1,200 adoptees have filed a class-action lawsuit in Saskatchewan seeking compensation from Ottawa for “cultural genocide.”

From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child-welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families, some in the United States. Many consider the adoptions as an extension of residential schools, which aimed to “take the Indian out of the child.”

David Chartrand, who joined the lawsuit, was taken from his Manitoba family at the age of five and moved to Minnesota.

“They wanted maids, butlers. They wanted slavery and to do it legally. We just fit that criteria,” said the 52-year-old Metis man. “I was made to clean the house, be their slave, be the punching bag.”

Chartrand said Canada had a duty to protect him and others like him. Although he returned to his home community of Camperville, Man., in his 20s, he lost everything, he said.

“I lost my life, my childhood.” he said. “We want to put it behind us so we can move on.”

The lawsuit, which was filed last month, is seeking unspecified damages for everything from loss of identity to sexual and physical abuse. Regina lawyer Tony Merchant said many of the children who were adopted weren’t in unsafe homes but were taken simply as another way to assimilate aboriginal people.

“It was a part of taking red babies and trying to make them into white adults.”

Having been raised by a white family with no cultural support, many survivors have struggled to reclaim their roots, Merchant said.

“They’ve just been lost from their culture.”

People who were part of the ’60s Scoop have been calling for a formal apology from Ottawa. They also want compensation for their experience, which many argue was just as traumatic as that suffered by residential school survivors. But while those who were sent to residential schools have had a formal apology and have been able to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, ’60s Scoop adoptees haven’t been formally recognized.

Other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of adoptees. A class-action lawsuit by some survivors in Ontario in 2009 is still making its way through the courts.

Chartrand worries any resolution to this lawsuit will come too late for many adoptees who are aging and suffering from increasing ill health. For those adoptees who ended up in prison or committed suicide, Chartrand said, any resolution comes too late.

“As an Indian, you have a spirit. That spirit has to come back home.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about these kids that are dead out there.”