Trudeau Calls Stabbing, Van Assault in Edmonton a ‘Terrorist Attack’

A U-Haul truck rests on its side after a high-speed chase with police in Edmonton. (CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning violent events in Edmonton as a “terrorist attack” following a chaotic night that saw a police officer stabbed and several pedestrians run down with a cube van.

Edmonton police said they have a 30-year-old man in custody and they think he acted alone. But police chief Rod Knecht stressed Sunday morning that the investigation is in its early stages and authorities haven’t ruled out others might have been involved.

The police officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Four people were injured by the van, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Trudeau said Sunday that he was deeply concerned and outraged at what he called a “terrorist attack.”

“Our thoughts are with those injured, their family and friends, and all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” Trudeau said in a statement, in which he also thanked first responders and law enforcement.

“While the investigation continues, early reports indicate that this is another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against.

“We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”

It all began Saturday night outside the Edmonton Eskimos CFL football game at Commonwealth Stadium where it was military appreciation night.

Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, conducted the pregame coin flip and two CF-18 fighter jets did a fly-past before kickoff. More than 800 Boy Scouts were expected at the game and many were planning to camp out on the field afterward.

While the Eskimos were battling the Winnipeg Blue Bombers inside the stadium, outside a white Chevy Malibu approached a traffic control post at a high speed.

Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.

The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground but they run off when the driver gets out of the car, runs over and appears to starts stabbing the officer.

The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows behind him into traffic.

Police launched a manhunt for the suspect.

Knecht said an Islamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and was seized as evidence.

A few hours later, while fans filed out of the game and were re-routed around the crime scene, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at a checkstop north of downtown.

When the driver was asked for his licence, Knecht said the name on the identification was close to that of the registered owner of white Malibu.

When confronted, Knecht said the U-Haul sped off toward downtown with police cars in pursuit.

The van intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks, Knecht said.

“It is believed at this time that these two incidents are related,” Knecht said. “These incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism.”

The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.

In a tweet Sunday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said “Canada will not be intimidated by terrorist violence.”

Goodale’s office issued a statement to say the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was working closely with Edmonton police.

“At this time, the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at ‘medium’ where it has stood since the fall of 2014,” his spokesman Scott Bardsley wrote, adding Canadians should report any suspicious activity.

Another police press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Edmonton time.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted her well-wishes to the injured officer.

“Our thoughts are with @edmontonpolice member injured on duty tonight & hoping for a speedy recovery,” she wrote. “Grateful for our first responders.”

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also reacted on Twitter.

“Saddened and outraged by the terror attack in Edmonton. My first thoughts are with the injured, praying they all make full recoveries.”

Austin Elgie, manager of The Pint bar just west of the downtown core, saw the van zoom by with police giving chase.

The van “peeled” into an alley where people were smoking, he said.

“There were like 10 cop cars following him … It was crazy. It just came around the corner, ripping. I thought at first he was pulling over for the cops coming by, but he was clearly the one they were chasing.”

Elgie said the van hit a man who was a bar customer.

“I have a registered nurse on my bar team and I grabbed her and had her look after the guy until the ambulance came.

“He was breathing and we got him in the ambulance and he was still breathing.”

The chase came to an end outside the Matrix Hotel, only a few blocks from the bar, when the van rolled on its side.

Natalie Pon tweeted that she was at a wedding at the hotel when the crash happened.

“They’re keeping us away from windrows/the lobby,” she said.

Pon posted pictures of the U-Haul on its side with a large hole in the windshield.

Witnesses told local media they saw the suspect being pulled from the vehicle through the broken windshield and then placed in handcuffs.

— with files from Andy Blatchford in Ottawa

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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First Nation Questions Relationship with Canada Following Court Ruling

Myeengun Henry, then a band councillor for Chippewas of the Thames. – Marta Iwanek / Toronto Star

Meaningful engagement with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources

by Myeengun Henry

I write on behalf of my First Nation in relation to the recent decision from the Supreme Court of Canada regarding .Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., 2017 SCC 41, which leaves our members questioning the meaning of an ongoing nation-to-nation relationship with the Canadian government.

This decision, which allows Enbridge to reverse the flow and increase capacity of crude oil on the Line 9 Pipeline, significantly impacts our community and its members, and as you may expect, has not been well received.

Though the National Energy Board failed to fully recognize and respect our Aboriginal and treaty rights, the Supreme Court upheld the NEB process nonetheless. The question the court failed to address is what recourse does our nation have to protect its rights going forward?

What if a tribunal, such as the NEB, improperly addresses or fails to recognize an Aboriginal right with no Crown oversight. As a final decision maker, what recourse would a First Nation have to then protect its rights? A decision from the NEB can effectively extinguish an Aboriginal and/or treaty right.

It is clear the courts are not prepared to protect our constitutionally entrenched rights. And now we must question what the government is prepared to do? Offering our nation an opportunity to participate in fundamentally inadequate consultations does not preserve the “honour of the Crown” and completely ignores our historical treaty relationship.

The decision of the Supreme Court has an immediate and chilling effect on our nation. We are currently inundated with applications on numerous resource development projects. We are most concerned that the Crown will fully adopt the reasoning of the Supreme Court and completely rely on any and all regulatory processes to satisfy its duty to consult. Such a result is not acceptable.

The Supreme Court’s ruling allows the Canadian government to delegate a nation-to-nation relationship to resource companies who are now empowered to determine the potential impacts of our nation’s constitutionally protected rights without any direct Crown involvement.

This is extremely troublesome and was not the intention of our people when we agreed to share in the protection and management of our land and resources as set out in our Treaties including the Longwoods Treaty of 1822; the London Township Treaty of 1796; the Sombra Treaty of 1796; Treaty No. 29 of 1827; and the McKee Treaty of 1790.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, recently released the Government of Canada’s 10 principles to assist in achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a “renewed, nation to nation, government to government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

Specifically, Canada stated, “Canada’s constitutional and legal order recognizes the reality that Indigenous peoples’ ancestors owned and governed the lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty. All of Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples are based on recognition of this fact and supported by the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the negotiation and implementation of pre- Confederation, historic, and modern treaties.”

This principle is intended to honour historic treaties as frameworks for living together, including the modern expression of these relationships. In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the accompanying Treaty at Niagara, 1764, many Indigenous nations and the Crown historically relied on treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their relationships.

The treaty relationship between the Chippewas nation and the Crown is a foundation for ongoing co-operation and partnership. The spirit and intent of both Indigenous and Crown parties to treaties, as reflected in oral and written histories, must inform constructive partnerships, based on the recognition of rights, that support full and timely treaty implementation.

To protect our rights and way of life the Chippewas of the Thames have developed our own consultation law (Deshkan Ziibiing/Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Wiindmaagewin), which is now being enforced within our traditional territory.

Our own consultation law will now be provided to any and all developers operating or intending to operate within our traditional territory. Further to the Canadian government’s guiding principles our nation will be asserting our own self-determination with respect to consultation within our territory.

Meaningful engagement with our nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources. It is through the assertion and enforcement of our own laws that we can guarantee our lands and territory are properly protected for the enjoyment of future generations.

– Myeengun Henry is chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation

Article originally published in the Toronto Star on Aug. 11, 2017

[SOURCE]

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

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

Federal government is renaming National Aboriginal Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, statement issued today HERE

 

Ottawa Must Act to Address Indigenous Suicide in Canada: Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

Métis Sniper Made His Mark for Canada at Vimy Ridge

Marilyn Buffalo holds a portrait of her great-grandfather Henry Norwest, a Métis marksman who was a celebrated sniper during the First World War. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

April 9 marks 100 years since Canadian troops began the battle for Vimy Ridge

At the bottom of the list of names etched into the cenotaph at the legion in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., there is one that stands out from the rest.

Henry Norwest’s name is in a different format. The white paint, which has not yet faded like the others, still gleams.

Norwest’s name was added to the First World War cenotaph at the Legion in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., in 2008. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

If the name looks like it was an afterthought, it’s because it was. Norwest’s was added to the cenotaph in 2008, an action formally honouring the Métis marksman who died 90 years earlier, during the First World War.

Sunday marks 100 years since Canadian troops began the assault on Vimy Ridge in northeast France. By April 14, the Canadians had won the battle, but lost almost 3,600.

“There is no doubt in mind that he is in a place of peace,” says Marilyn Buffalo, Norwest’s great-granddaughter.

“There is a special place for warriors like him.”

Ranch hand and roper

Before he took to the battlefields in France and was among the thousands of Canadians who fought at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, Norwest was a married father of three who frequently moved around to find work.

Of French and Cree ancestry, he was a ranch hand and a roper who helped to wrangle bison in Montana in an effort to move herds north to Canada.

He listed his trade as “Cow Puncher” when he signed up to be part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in January 1915.

Norwest, who sometimes went as Henry Louie, worked as a ranch hand and roper before enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. (Glenbow Archives)

With war underway in Europe, he eagerly enlisted in Wetaskiwin, Alta., under the name Henry Louie, but his initial military stint was short-lived. Records from the time show that he was discharged three months later because of what was then referred to as “drunkenness.”

Still determined to fight overseas, he headed south to Calgary and enlisted again, this time under the name Henry Norwest.

Norwest established himself as a skilled sniper while fighting in France with Calgary’s 50th Battalion (Marilyn Buffalo)

Before he left for England, he went to say goodbye to his three girls, who at the time were living in a residential school in Ermineskin, Alta.

Buffalo remembers her grandmother telling her about the last time she saw him.

“There was a very handsome man who came to bid her goodbye at the residential school and that was her dad.”

A hunter turned sniper

Starting out earning a monthly wage of $15, Norwest quickly established himself as a skilled sniper while fighting in France with Calgary’s 50th Battalion.

Snipers typically worked with an observer, but Buffalo says she heard stories about Norwest sometimes creeping through no man’s land on his own, slipping out of the trench at night and returning to camp early in the morning.

During the war, First Nation soldiers were among Canada’s top snipers, and Norwest’s upbringing and experience as a hunter were evident, says Al Judson, curator of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment Museum, where one of Norwest’s rifles is on display.

“He could move well, quietly with stealth,” says Judson.

“He could use camouflage and the natural foliage around him to hide.”

A Ross rifle on display at the King’s Own Calgary Regiment Museum is one of the rifles Norwest used. (Colin Hall/CBC)

He had a reputation that was feared by the Germans and revered by his comrades.

In military records, he is described by a fellow soldier as understanding “better than most of the us the cost of life and the price of death.”

“He showed complete detachment from everything while he was in the line.”

Off the battlefield, he was jovial and popular with the women in the dance halls, which is how Buffalo says her great-grandfather earned his nickname “Ducky.”

“He would dance all night and then duck out on the girls at the end of the night.”

Vimy Ridge

On April 9, 1917, under a barrage of heavy fire, Norwest was among the thousands of Canadian troops who made the deadly push to capture Vimy Ridge.

Norwest was awarded a Military Medal for his efforts to help allied forces capture “the Pimple,” a significant point along the ridge.

In his award citation, officials said he showed great bravery and “saved a great number of our men’s lives.”

In the three months leading up the to the battle, he shot and killed 59 men from opposing forces.

Norwest won a military medal for his efforts during the battle for Vimy Ridge. He died in August 1918, three months before the war ended.

In August of the following year, he fought during the battle of Amiens, taking out snipers and machine gunners. But just three months before the First World War ended, Norwest himself became the target of a German sharpshooter and the 33-year-old was shot and killed.

On his temporary grave marker, one of his fellow soldiers wrote: “It must have been a damned good sniper that got Norwest.”

‘Made me very proud’

At the time of his death, he had 115 confirmed kills, but the actual number of fatal shots he fired could be much higher because the military only recorded hits that had been observed by someone else. He was awarded a military bar posthumously to go along with his medal.

After the war, his remains were reinterred in a small church graveyard in Warvillers, France. In 2009, his great-granddaughter made an emotional visit to the site, where she performed a sacred Cree ceremony.

“It made me very proud,” Buffalo says.

“This is a part of the history, our contribution to the world and to the British Empire 100 years ago. It has to be honoured.”

Buffalo visited her great-grandfather’s grave in Warvillers, France, in 2009. (Marilyn Buffalo)

As a self-described history buff, she says she’s tried to learn as much as she can about Norwest. She has reflected on what his contribution and his loss meant to her family.

Before he was killed in France, his wife died in Alberta, so his three daughters were left as orphans and spent most of their childhoods at residential school.

‘He should have been there a long time ago.’- Dutchie Anderson

Today, Buffalo says Norwest has hundreds of descendants, mostly concentrated around Samson Cree First Nation in central Alberta.

Some of them were there for a special ceremony in 2008, when Norwest’s name was finally added to the cenotaph at the Fort Saskatchewan legion.

“He should have been there a long time ago,” says Dutchie Enders, the services officer for the legion.

Two stones have been placed in honour of Norwest at the cemetery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

He believes Norwest’s legacy was previously overlooked because he was Indigenous. Enders himself had only learned about his story shortly before Norwest’s name was engraved.

“That is when we recognized that he had been neglected all these years.”

Two stones have also been placed in the community’s cemetery, each bearing a plaque recounting Norwest’s accomplishments during the war.

The legion’s canteen is now named in honour of Norwest. His black and white picture hangs in the room and pressed under the glass beside it is a single eagle feather, which is a sacred symbol in Cree culture.

“We had to do this,” Enders says. “He was one of our own.”

[SOURCE]

 

 

’60s Scoop Ruling: Canada Failed To Protect Indigenous Children, Judge Rules

Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel (left) is seen outside court in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel (left) is seen outside court in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

The Canadian Press | Feb 14, 2017

Canada failed to take reasonable steps to prevent thousands of on-reserve children who were placed with non-native families from losing their indigenous heritage during the ’60s Scoop, an Ontario judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling in the long-running and bitterly fought class action paves the way for an assessment of damages the government will now have to pay.

In siding with the plaintiffs, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found Canada had breached its “duty of care” to the children.

The lawsuit launched eight years ago sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.

The plaintiffs argued — and Belobaba agreed — that Ottawa breached part of the agreement that required consultation with Indian bands about the child welfare program.

Belobaba was scathing in commenting on the government’s contention that consultation with the bands wouldn’t have made any difference to the children.

“This is an odd and, frankly, insulting submission,” Belobaba wrote. “Canada appears to be saying that even if the extension of child welfare services to their reserves had been fully explained to the Indian bands and, if each band had been genuinely consulted about their concerns in this regard, that no meaningful advice or ideas would have been forthcoming.”

Belobaba also took issue with the government’s argument that the 1960s were different times and that it acted with good intentions in line with prevailing standards. As a result, the government had tried to argue, it could not have known the harm that might have been done to the children.

“I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my heart.” — Marcia Brown Martel, lead plaintiff

“Canada’s submission misses the point,” Belobaba said. “The issue is not what was known in the 1960s about the harm of trans-racial adoption or the risk of abuse in the foster home.”

The lawsuit sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984. (Photo: CP)

The lawsuit sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984. (Photo: CP)

Instead, the justice said, there can be “no doubt” that what was well known even then was the importance to First Nations peoples of protecting and preserving their distinctive cultures and traditions, including their concept of the extended family.

The lead plaintiff in the Ontario action, Marcia Brown Martel, 53, is a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont. She was adopted by a non-aboriginal couple in 1972 at age nine and later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

“I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my heart,” Brown Martel said in a statement. “Our voices were finally heard and listened to. Our pain was acknowledged.”

The government did not immediately comment on the decision.

Belobaba said that while the 1965 agreement, strictly speaking, applied to the Indian bands and not the children, he hoped the government would not now try to make such a “formalistic argument” given the First Nations context.

The Liberal government indicated last week it was going to try to block Belobaba from releasing his ruling after Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced an intention to negotiate with ’60s Scoop survivors across the country. The government relented amid outrage by the plaintiffs and critics, who called the attempt to stop the ruling an unprecedented political interference.

Similar legal actions in several provinces other than Ontario are pending but none has been certified.

[SOURCE]

Coroner Report: Apartheid Reserve System the Root of Suicides in Quebec Indigenous Communities

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Suicides in Quebec indigenous communities were avoidable: coroner

Red Power Media | Feb 03, 2017

Five suicides that occurred in two indigenous communities in 2015 were avoidable, a Quebec coroner said in a report that compared Canada’s reserve system to apartheid.

Bernard Lefrancois’ report was the result of a public inquiry that was ordered in January 2016 after four women and one man died by suicide in a nine-month period.

The victims ranged in age from 18 to 46 and all died between February and October of 2015 in the communities of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and Kawawachikamach, on Quebec’s North Shore.

In his report, Lefrancois wrote the victims all had unique stories and circumstances, but had their aboriginal heritage in common.

“That fact raises the issue of living conditions in these communities even though, when each death is considered individually, each person may have had a different reason for ending his or her life,” the report said.

Lefrancois’ report concludes the five victims — four Innu and one Naskapi — all exhibited at least one of the factors associated with suicide, which can include alcohol and drug consumption, family difficulties, sexual abuse, mental illness and exposure to the suicide of a loved one.

The coroner added that most of the victims had not wanted to die, but wanted to end to their suffering.

Lefrancois called for improving the living conditions in aboriginal communities and increasing the number of resources as well as the co-ordination between various services in indigenous communities to ensure people receive proper follow-up.

“There were a lot of human resources used by social services after a suicide, but it was requisitioning almost everyone and there was no one left to take care of people at risk,” he said.

Lefrancois noted the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam suffers from social problems that include high rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide. The troubles are despite numerous community resources including its own police force, social services, three Innu schools, and health service points.

He places the blame for the struggles of aboriginal communities squarely on the reserve system, and describes the Indian Act as “an ancient and outdated law” that treats aboriginal people as wards of the state who are “considered incapable and unfit.”

Lefrancois said the residential schools, which were a source of multi-generational trauma, were “only one product, one beast among many others, of the apartheid system that was introduced by our ancestors and that has been preserved to our day.”

He said he hoped the report would prompt Canadians to question whether the current system still has its place in 2017.

“In South Africa, they finished by abolishing the system of apartheid,” he continued. “They haven’t solved all the problems yet, but its much better compared to what it was before.”

Ghislain Picard, the Chief of the assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, said Canadian and provincial governments now “have no choice” but to look at the efficacy of the services in place.

That, he said, needed to be matched by efforts within the communities to try to figure out how to intervene earlier to prevent suicides.

Picard also praised the Quebec government for its openness to initiating “a process to take a deeper look at the question of social development in the communities.”

Lefrancois’ report contains a number of recommendations, including a “specialized resource” in the communities to take charge of persons who are at risk of suicide. That would include a team of caseworkers and psychologists, and be able to offer longer-term follow-up and lodging close to the community.

He noted that one of the communities sometimes doesn’t have 24-hour police service due to staffing shortages, and pointed out that a local suicide prevention centre receives few calls from members of the aboriginal community because none of the staff speak Innu or Naskapi.

He also recommended that existing services focus on suicide prevention in youth, with special attention given to the Internet and social networks, as well as more programs that help young aboriginals preserve their culture, identity, and health.

A version of this article titled Five suicides in Quebec indigenous communities were avoidable: coroner’s report By Vicky Fragasso-Marquis was originally posted in the National Observer on January 15th 2017.

Jane Fonda Tours Alberta Oil Sands, Urges Canada to Listen to First Nations

Actress Jane Fonda tours Alberta's oilsands ahead of a news conference with First Nations leaders about oilsands expansion plans, pipeline approvals and indigenous rights. Courtesy: Greenpeace Canada

Actress Jane Fonda tours Alberta’s oilsands ahead of a news conference with First Nations leaders about oilsands expansion plans, pipeline approvals and indigenous rights.
Courtesy: Greenpeace Canada

By Staff | The Canadian Press

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – Actor and longtime environmental activist Jane Fonda says Canada should listen to aboriginal people when they express concerns about resource development.

Fonda is in the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta Tuesday to meet with local First Nations.

She says she backs their opposition to new pipeline development from the oilsands.

Fonda says she sympathizes with workers who are concerned about losing their jobs and supports the desire of some First Nations for greater prosperity.

But she says renewable energy developments offer much greater economic spinoffs than what she calls a fossil fuel industry on its way out.

Fonda is the latest in a long string of prominent people who have visited the oilsands, including musician Neil Young, Hollywood director James Cameron and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Greenpeace Canada will be holding an event Wednesday at the University of Alberta where Fonda will be among several speakers. They are expected to detail why they oppose the federal government’s approval of the Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, as well as the possible approvals of the KeystoneXL and Energy East projects.

Greenpeace said the projects are in conflict with Canada’s commitments to Indigenous Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Paris climate accord.

In 1970, Fonda was arrested while marching with indigenous people during the occupation of For Lawton in Seattle, Wash.

Greenpeace said First Nations leaders will join the Academy Award winner during Wednesday’s event.

[SOURCE]

Canada Ignores Its Own Refugees

Lorelei Williams holds a eagle feather as she wears a T-shirt bearing the pictures of her cousin Tanya Holyk and aunt Belinda William during a news conference on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Vancouver, on Aug. 3, 2016. (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lorelei Williams holds a eagle feather as she wears a T-shirt bearing the pictures of her cousin Tanya Holyk and aunt Belinda William during a news conference on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Vancouver, on Aug. 3, 2016. (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Indigenous people have suffered for generations in Canada without the same supports offered to refugees.

By Liam Massaub | thestar.com – Jan. 4, 2017

We have homegrown refugees in Canada who aren’t prioritized enough to justify a Justin Trudeau greeting at an airport or a tear shed from the prime minister that made for such a great, heartstrings-tugging photo shoot.

Yes, we have a particular group of people forced from their homelands, who fled rape, terror and abuses so great they would be considered war crimes. Simply because they were different.

Yet we ignore these refugees. We let them suffer in mouldy, crumbling shacks. We keep them poor and dependent through racist legislation designed to do just that. We ignore mass child suicides and deny them access to adequate health care. We have let their communities deteriorate in many places to war zones of shootings and contaminated water and soil, overdoses and sexual abuses.

And unlike other refugees, they don’t get a basic income, a guaranteed safe roof over their head, support from groups to help them adjust, free food or business people paying their family’s way and giving them jobs over skilled Canadians.

There is no help to start businesses. We don’t let them own houses or benefit economically from selling their resources, yet billion-dollar corporations can pillage these resources for off reserve benefit and profits.

And for the most part, they do not have media constantly pushing a positive image of them and government and law enforcement scrambling to punish and demonize all who offend their religious beliefs or are racist towards them.

No, after enduring a lifetime of pain, indigenous people are in many ways foreigners in their own land.

There are those who would say that comparisons of indigenous people and refugees is wrong, or in fact that attempts at comparisons just pits one group against another.

Well, look at the situation of indigenous people and the circumstances of the refugees coming to Canada from other countries. Trauma, seeking a better life for their families — all shared by both groups. But First Nation people just don’t get the compassionate headlines like others.

Consider the systemic minimization of concern and lack of law enforcement action related to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, until years of outrage, truth telling and advocacy pressured a response.

Maybe we can ignore indigenous people because we already have a history with them; they aren’t newly arrived here and appreciative of every gesture. Maybe it is too hard to bring them up with one hand while you take their resources and undervalue them with the other. Maybe it’s too hard to tell corporations they can’t pollute their land.

Or maybe we can’t face them after the residential school system or years of broken promises and flat out lies to them.

And the lies continue to this day. Like telling them we will solve their water crisis and give them hope their children can bathe without rashes or falling ill from drinking contaminated water. We all may wish politicians will one day really do these things and we remain satisfied with ourselves and government if at least the promises are made.

And with lots of promises made we don’t have to think about the contributions of First Nation people to Canada, including playing instrumental roles in winning past wars. Those times are long gone.

It’s much easier to let the deterioration of First Nation people and communities play out through packing our prisons and child welfare systems. And it is easier to control all aspects of energy and development and just keep them where they are; then we can call them poor, irresponsible and lacking in motivation to help themselves.

The lives of many indigenous people are hard ones. That’s the comparison to refugees. And the comparison can stop there, as the response to indigenous people and refugees from other countries should not be the same, or one vs. the other. The approach to refugees is largely a time-limited sponsorship, often through church involvement. The approach to indigenous people should be to shape and strengthen relationships between governments and indigenous communities on a nation-to-nation basis.

It is time for the Government of Canada to put in place the concrete actions, policies and funding that will honour its promises and commitments to First Nation people. There is much to be done, including repealing racist legislation, removing barriers to economic development on and off reserve and reforming subsidy programs to be effective, adequate and with direct benefit to families.

This work needs to include the active representation and participation of First Nation people in planning, decision-making and governance. These approaches are the difference between a sponsorship model for refugees and the ongoing, strategic foundation required for the sovereignty of First Nations and the elimination of the Third World conditions in one of the richest countries in the world.

Enough is enough.

Liam Massaubi is a repeat entrepreneur, investor and aboriginal business consultant. He is a proud Mohawk and a busy dad. Twitter: @OldManLM

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/01/04/canada-ignores-its-own-refugees.html


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U.S., Canada Ban Offshore Drilling in Arctic Waters

Obama is making a last-ditch effort to sustain his environmental agenda by restricting offshore drilling. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Obama is making a last-ditch effort to sustain his environmental agenda by restricting offshore drilling. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama uses 1950s-era law called the Outer Continental Shelf Act

The Associated Press: Dec 20, 2016

President Barack Obama on Tuesday designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.

The White House announced the actions in conjunction with the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which also placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in its Arctic waters, subject to periodic review.

“Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau are proud to launch actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem, with low-impact shipping, science based management of marine resources, and free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity,” the statement read.

U.S. President Barack Obama is designating the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Oceanand certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

U.S. President Barack Obama is designating the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Oceanand certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

The move helps put some finishing touches on Obama’s environmental legacy while also testing president-elect Donald Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s untapped energy reserves.

Obama is making use of an arcane provision in a 1953 law to ban offshore leases in the waters permanently. The statute says that “the president of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.”

Environmental groups hope the ban, despite relying on executive powers, will be difficult for future presidents to reverse. The White House said it’s confident the president’s directive will withstand legal challenge and said the language of the statute provides no authority for subsequent presidents to “unwithdraw” waters from future lease sales.

The Atlantic waters placed off limits to new oil and gas leasing, which hold the volume equivalent of 31 Grand Canyons,  stretches off the coast of New England south to Virginia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours a tugboat in Vancouver harbour on Tuesday. The federal Liberal government says Canada will ban offshore and gas licensing in Arctic waters. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours a tugboat in Vancouver harbour on Tuesday. The federal Liberal government says Canada will ban offshore and gas licensing in Arctic waters. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The administration cited environmental concerns to justify the moratorium. The president also issued a statement noting the minimal level of fuel production occurring in the Arctic. Obama said just 0.1 per cent of offshore crude production came from the Arctic in 2015, and at current oil prices, significant production would not occur in future decades.

“That’s why looking forward, we must continue to focus on economic empowerment for Arctic communities beyond this one sector,” Obama said.

Still, industry officials objected to Obama’s proclamation, calling it “last minute political rhetoric.”

“Instead of building on our nation’s position as a global energy leader, today’s unilateral mandate could put America back on a path of energy dependence for decades to come,” said Dan Naatz of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

In issuing a permanent ban, Obama appears to be trying to tie the hands of his successor. Trump has vowed a domestic energy revolution and is filling his cabinet with nominees deeply opposed to Obama’s environmental and climate change actions.

Environmental groups were calling for a permanent ban even before the presidential election, but Trump’s victory has provided greater urgency for them and for businesses that rely on tourism and fishing. Trump has said he intends to use all available fuel reserves for energy self-sufficiency — and that it’s time to open up offshore drilling.

“This decision will help protect existing lucrative coastal tourism and fishing businesses from offshore drilling, which promises smaller, short-lived returns and threatens coastal livelihoods,” said Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice-president at the advocacy group, Oceana.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/obama-ban-offshore-drilling-arctic-atlantic-1.3905384