Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs shocked that downtown Winnipeg is a First Nations burial site

Treaty One Territory, MB. _ Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is shocked to learn there were 1,200 First Nations people who died from a small pox epidemic in the late 1700s and were buried in “the heart of the city of Winnipeg” on “the north bank of the river.”

“It is horrifying to learn of the impact of this small pox epidemic and the number of our people who died due to their contact with the settler society,” said Grand Chief Dumas. “This devastation of our First Nations population cleared the way for the appropriation of their lands and resources. The mere fact that there are a dozen burial sites within short distances of each other and that Winnipeggers do not know whose bones they are walking over, building over is astounding and disheartening.”

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Niigaan Sinclair wrote, a smallpox epidemic destroyed communities across southern Manitoba in 1781. These outbreaks came with a 90 per cent death rate. Scholars have noted that 800 lodges of Indigenous peoples resided at what is now known as The Forks in Winnipeg. First Nations people lived, travelled and traded for 6,000 years at The Forks.

“These epidemics had more than just the immediate effects of First Nations people perishing from the disease; they also altered the lives of not only survivors, but future generations. They affected First Nations’ cultural, social, and political institutions. Their everyday life changed forever. We need to work with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to honour those that perished from these outbreaks,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

This could include but not limited to a memorial statue, stories included in history books of Winnipeg and Manitoba, or a plaque at the site of The Forks detailing the small pox epidemic and the effects on First Nations citizens in Manitoba, suggested Grand Chief Dumas.

By Kim Wheeler | Oct 4th, 2018

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Manitoba Grand Chiefs Call On Trudeau To Fulfil Promise Of MMIW Inquiry

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak (left), AFN Grand Chief Sheila North-Wilson (centre) and AFN Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart (right) meet Tuesday morning following the Liberal's majority federal election win. (CBC)

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak (left), AFN Grand Chief Sheila North-Wilson (centre) and AFN Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart (right) meet Tuesday morning following the Liberal’s majority federal election win. (CBC)

CBC News

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson is hoping to see a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls called in the first 100 days of Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister.

North Wilson, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart gathered at a news conference Tuesday morning to congratulate Trudeau on the Liberal’s majority win.

North Wilson said she looks forward to working with the new Liberal government and is eager to see Trudeau fulfil his campaign promise to call a national inquiry.

“This is something that’s near and dear to our hearts and to my heart,” she said.

North Wilson said it’s crucial to take a deeper look at why Canadians are seeing epidemic numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

“We want families to be involved in the framework of what the national inquiry would look like,” said North Wilson. “There are many things that we’re hearing from our own families of why they see these problems. A lot of it has to do with poverty and lack of education and even just a complete disregard for our people and our families and that just can’t be anymore.”

North Wilson credits the commitment of women, men, teens and children who have been working to draw attention to the issue.

“They were relentless in holding vigils and ceremonies on our streets where women were found,” said North Wilson. “They were relentless and they brought out leaders and they brought out media. Sometimes there was only three people at a vigil, but they still held it.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper had refused to call an inquiry, despite repeated calls to do so.

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said of all campaign promises made in this election, a commitment to hold an inquiry stands out as the most important to him.

“I think that Canadians recognize that there is a tragedy, there’s a national crime that’s happening on the streets of the cities and towns, communities across the nation,” said Nepinak.

Nepinak said he wanted to thank all Canadians who rallied together to bring the issue to the forefront.

“It’s not us versus them, it’s only us.” said Nepinak. “All those Canadians who saw this as an issue and went out to vote in a different way this time around, thank you so much for doing that.”

Nepinak believes involving families, as well as creating healing mechanisms for those affected, is vital to ensuring an inquiry has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-grand-chiefs-call-on-trudeau-to-fulfil-promise-of-mmiw-inquiry-1.3280710

Dozens Of People March Through Winnipeg In Rally For CFS Kids

Dozens marched through Winnipeg and rallied for children in the care of Manitoba's Child and Family Services.

Dozens marched through Winnipeg and rallied for children in the care of Manitoba’s Child and Family Services.

CTV Winnipeg

Dozens of Winnipeggers are standing up for kids in the care of Child and Family Services.

A rally organized by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Office of the First Nations Family Advocate started at the Children’s Hospital on Saturday morning.

The group then walked past the Women’s Hospital, the law courts, and the remand centre, finishing at The Forks.

There they held a ‘Stand-up’ ceremony where families shared their experiences with CFS.

AMC’s First Nations Family Advocate, Cora Morgan says there are 11,000 children in care and the majority of them are indigenous.

Many mothers at the event who have kids in the system said they feel they are assumed guilty until proven innocent.

One mother, who cannot be identified because her two children are in care, said she has taken 27 parenting courses and still she feels she isn’t any closer to getting custody of her children.

 11-year-old Tait Palsson started a petition for children's rights which he is taking to the provincial government

11-year-old Tait Palsson started a petition for children’s rights which he is taking to the provincial government

Also at the event was 11-year-old Tait Palsson who started a petition for children’s rights which he is taking to the provincial government.

He’s fighting for the rights of the child set forward by the United Nations to be upheld, especially for children in care who he believes do not have enough say in what happens to them.

So far he’s got more than 800 signatures, but he would like to get more. His goal is for everyone in Manitoba to sign.

http://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/dozens-of-people-march-through-winnipeg-in-rally-for-cfs-kids-1.2593643

Manitoba Chiefs Adopt ‘Family First’ Approach To Address Missing, Murdered Women

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs walks with people at a rally for families of missing and murdered indigenous women in June. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs walks with people at a rally for families of missing and murdered indigenous women in June. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

CBC News

New initiative stems from frustration with lack of action by governments, says Derek Nepinak

Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak says his organization is not waiting for another roundtable discussion or a national inquiry to take action on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs adopted and endorsed a new report they say puts the families of indigenous women at the forefront.

Families First: A Made in Manitoba Approach to Addressing the Issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for a number of recommendations including more culturally sensitive support for families, providing funding for honouring missing or murdered women and research on root causes.

Nepinak says the new approach stems from a frustration with the lack of action by provincial and federal governments.

“Nobody feels any solution coming out of a roundtable discussion where the only outcome is another discussion,” he said.

Derek Nepinak

Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, speaks at a TRC gathering in Ridell Hall at the University of Manitoba on Tuesday. (Chris Glover/CBC)

“We’re losing children, we’re losing women and girls — and men and boys for that matter — every week. There is a sense of urgency to this. We cannot sit back. We have to take action.”

The report calls for the appointment of eight representatives called “Families First Leaders” that will be responsible for overseeing the process.

“We are not waiting for the federal government to come and consult us when it is time to do the inquiry, we’re getting ahead of the issue now. We’re specializing our knowledge, we’re engaging in the research,” said Nepinak.

The report was discussed at a general assembly of Manitoba Chiefs held at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation this week.

In June, RCMP delivered an update on missing and murdered aboriginal women that pointed to a strong connection between homicides and family violence. Nepinak says the Family First approach will take a deeper look at root causes of violence.

“When we think of contributing factors or what people will call ‘issues’ — are these really the issues or are they the consequences of living within the systemic and institutionalized violence that exists for our people?” said Nepinak.

According to the report, Manitoba has the third highest number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/manitoba-chiefs-adopt-family-first-approach-to-address-missing-murdered-women-1.3163748

Manitoba Children In Care Not Treated As ‘Human’: First Nations Advocate

Cora Morgan, was appointed, First Nations family advocate by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs last week.

Cora Morgan, appointed First Nations family advocate by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Photo: APTN

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s new First Nations family advocate says Manitoba doesn’t treat children in care and their families as “human.”

Cora Morgan, who was appointed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs last week, said the province’s child welfare system is broken. Child and Family Services are taking children into care too quickly and it’s virtually impossible for parents to regain custody.

Children in care are being put up in hotels and languishing in jail without a proper support system for families in crisis that would prevent kids from being apprehended in the first place, she said.

“There is a lack of humanity in the way that CFS operates,” Morgan told The Canadian Press. “These children in care and these families, I don’t see that they’re being recognized as human.

“Every single individual needs to feel loved. Where do you find that growing up in a hotel room?”

Manitoba has more than 10,000 children in care and the vast majority are aboriginal. The system has been under scrutiny for years following several high profile deaths and assaults of children in care.

Manitoba Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross speaks regarding the province's pledge to ensure no children in CFS care are housed in hotels on May 28, 2015.

Manitoba Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross speaks regarding the province’s pledge to ensure no children in CFS care are housed in hotels on May 28, 2015.

Most recently, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross tearfully promised to stop using hotels to house kids in care after a young girl was seriously assaulted in March. Both the victim and the youth charged in the assault were in the care of Child and Family Services at a downtown Winnipeg hotel.

The child welfare system came under fire last August when 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was killed after running away from a hotel where she was in government care. Her great-aunt had contacted child welfare when she had difficulty managing the teen. The teen’s body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River.

Many guardians reach out to family services for help, only to have their child taken, Morgan said. Some parents are prepared to do what it takes to get their children back but, they aren’t supported by addiction and parenting programs, she added.

Morgan said she has encountered up to six generations of a family who have grown up in care. That cycle must be stopped. The province must involve aboriginal people and support community-based alternatives to apprehension, she said.

“When newcomers first came to this land, they didn’t understand us then and they started imposing the creation of reserves and residential schools,” Morgan said. “After all these decades, they’ve created people that they still don’t understand because there is so much damage to our identity and our ability to care for our children.”

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the provincial child welfare system is carrying on the legacy of residential schools. Chiefs created the office of the First Nation family advocate to give aboriginal families a voice in a system that threatens their children and perpetuates the cycle of inter-generational trauma, he said.

“We have to meet the system head on. It’s escalating and it’s out of control.”

Irvin-Ross was unavailable for an interview. Her spokeswoman, Rachel Morgan, said in an emailed statement that the province agrees children belong in loving families in their own communities.

“We have begun moving toward a system of supporting families and supporting communities so that children don’t have to be taken into care,” she wrote.

“We know there’s more to do and we’re committed to working with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, First Nations leaders and communities to reduce the number of children in care.”

By Chinta Puxley / The Canadian Press, June 9, 2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/06/09/manitoba-children-in-care_n_7544930.html

Manitoba chiefs call Sun Media racist, demand boycott

Grand chiefs Terrance Nelson of the Southern Chiefs' Organization, left, Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and David Harper of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak speak to reporters on Tuesday. (Bouchra Ouatik/Radio-Canada)

Grand chiefs Terrance Nelson of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, left, Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and David Harper of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak speak to reporters on Tuesday. (Bouchra Ouatik/Radio-Canada)

Nov 04, 2014 – Updated Nov 04, 2014 at 6:45pm

Top aboriginal leaders want public to cancel subscriptions and remove advertising from Winnipeg Sun

Manitoba’s top aboriginal leaders are calling for a boycott of the Winnipeg Sun, claiming the newspaper and its parent organization, Sun Media, discriminate against indigenous people.

The boycott was announced on Tuesday by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents First Nations in the province’s North.

The organizations’ grand chiefs accuse the Winnipeg Sun of “discriminatory reporting and biased editorial against indigenous peoples,” citing the recent coverage of the death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl whose body was recovered from the Red River in mid-August.

The chiefs say an article published in the Winnipeg Sun on Aug. 24 suggests that aboriginal people “have only themselves to blame” for tragedies such as Fontaine’s death.

“I’m not going to call it news because I don’t believe that it reaches the standard of news, objective news,” Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs told reporters on Tuesday morning.

“Often times what’s being printed in the newspapers across the country, I believe, is racialized to the point of inciting hatred.”

That hatred puts families, children and women at risk, Nepinak said.

The boycott is being spearheaded by Terrance Nelson of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, who said it applies not just to the Winnipeg Sun, but the entire Sun Media organization.

“Here in Manitoba, we’re starting the process of ensuring that First Nation dollars do not support racism,” Nelson said.

“The reality is that freedom of the press does not include the right to [the] incitement of hatred.”

The organizations are calling on Canadians to cancel their Sun subscriptions and remove their advertisements. They also want retailers to stop selling or giving away copies of the newspaper in their establishments.

Their boycott will later extend to businesses that continue to advertise with Sun Media.

Nepinak said First Nations officials will reach out to local businesses that advertise in the Sun over the next 60 days.

“The business people that I know, and that I do business with here in Winnipeg, know that this exists, they know it has to stop and I think that they will join forces with us,” he said.

Nepinak and Nelson said they will then encourage First Nations not to do business with anyone that continues to advertise with Sun Media in the new year.

Grand Chief David Harper of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said his organization will stand behind the boycott of the Winnipeg Sun and Sun Media for one calendar year.

Not the first time

This is not the first time the Winnipeg Sun has been targeted by local First Nations groups.

Protesters from the Idle No More movement held a peaceful demonstration outside the Sun’s offices in January 2013, accusing the newspaper of biased coverage of aboriginal issues.

Aboriginal protesters demonstrate outside the offices of the Winnipeg Sun in Winnipeg, Man. Saturday Jan. 12, 2013.

Idle No More protesters demonstrate outside the offices of the Winnipeg Sun in Winnipeg, Man. Saturday Jan. 12, 2013.

And in 1983, a group protested outside the Sun offices over an editorial by Peter Warren that called the average Canadian aboriginal person “a drunk, a wastrel, an idolmonger, a person only too happy to live on a government cheque….”

It’s also not the first time Nelson has accused the media of presenting an anti-aboriginal bias.

In 2005, Nelson took aim at news organizations during the trial of David Ahenakew, a former Saskatchewan First Nations leader who was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks.

At the time, Nelson sparked criticism by condemning what he believed was Jewish control of the Canadian media.

“Articles appear regularly in newspapers filled with hatred of natives,” he wrote in a statement in April 2005.

“Will there be a dramatic rise in hatred of Jews amongst native people? As a chief, I say, ‘Yes there will be’.”

Nelson later apologized for his statement.

Update: The Winnipeg Sun categorically dismissed accusations of racism made Tuesday by a group of Manitoba First Nations representatives.

Mark Hamm, the Winnipeg Sun’s editor-in-chief, said claims from local aboriginal chiefs that the newspaper’s reporting practices are “biased” and “racist” against aboriginal people is baseless.

“The Winnipeg Sun has nothing to be ashamed of with its ongoing coverage of aboriginal issues,” editor in chief Mark Hamm said. “Just because some topics are sensitive isn’t reason to ignore them — not if we believe they merit discussion and debate. Not if we care.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-chiefs-call-sun-media-racist-demand-boycott-1.2823318?cmp=abfb

http://winnipeg.cityandpress.com/node/8620541