Tag Archives: Canada

Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in pipeline dispute

Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader Chief Woos, centre, also known as Frank Alec, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, left, and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser address the media in Smithers, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader says they remain opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief and senior government ministers say they have reached a proposed arrangement in discussing a pipeline dispute that has prompted solidarity protests across Canada in recent weeks.

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser would not give details on the proposed arrangement, saying it first has to be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en people.

Chief Woos, one of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders, said the proposal represents an important milestone.

“We’re going to be continuing to look at some more conversations with B.C. and of course with the proponent and to further our conversations with the RCMP,” Woos said.

“It’s not over yet.”

Still opposed to pipeline

Woos said the hereditary leaders remain opposed to the pipeline. The proposed arrangement with the government is regarding questions around rights and title to their traditional territory.

“This is what we’re all about, is the occupation of the land out there,” he said.

The Wet’suwet’en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils. A majority of its councils have approved the Coastal GasLink pipeline, but some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose it running through their traditional territory.

The issue has spurred solidarity protests and rail blockades across the country since RCMP moved in on Feb. 6 to enforce an injunction to stop a road blockade erected by those opposed to the pipeline that prevented the company’s workers from entering the site.

Bennett said the proposed arrangement will honour the protocols of the Wet’suwet’en people and clans.

Rights holders always ‘at the table’

The arrangement builds on a Supreme Court decision regarding rights and title, she said, presumably referring to a 1997 decision acknowledging Aboriginal land title that set a precedent for how it is understood in Canadian courts.

Bennett said the past few days of negotiations had been about learning, and humility.

“The rights holders will always be at the table. And that is the way through for Canada,” Bennett said.

Woos warned developers that the hereditary leaders will continue to protect their waters, wildlife habitats and traditional sites with “everything we have.”

“As Wet’suwet’en, we are the land and the land is ours,” he said. “We’re not going to look at any alternative ways.”

The announcement comes as talks between the hereditary chiefs and the ministers entered a fourth day.

The Canadian Press · Posted: Mar 01, 2020

[SOURCE]

First Nations given maximum compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

OTTAWA — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has awarded more than $2 billion in compensation to First Nations children and their families who were separated by a chronically underfunded welfare system.

In a ruling this morning the tribunal says the federal government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services.

The result was a mass removal of Indigenous children from their parents for years in a system Indigenous leaders say had more First Nations kids living in foster care than at the height of the residential-schools era.

The tribunal is awarding the maximum damages it can — $40,000 — for each child taken away for lack of proper services or who was later returned to his or family, for each parent or grandparent who had a child taken, for each child who experienced abuse in foster care, and for each child who was taken into foster care because proper medical supports were not made available to their families.

The Assembly of First Nations says as many as 54,000 children could be eligible for the compensation.

The decision comes more than three-and-a-half years after the tribunal ruled there was clear discrimination by the federal government, which did not provide anywhere near the funding non-Indigenous children received for child welfare services.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Half of Indigenous children on reserve and off, live in poverty, study says

Indigenous children play in water-filled ditches in a northern Ontario First Nations reserve on April 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

OTTAWA — Indigenous children face the highest rates of poverty in the country, with almost one in every two living in households with low incomes, says a new study that shows little improvement in the situation over the last decade.

The study published by the Upstream Institute, written by researchers at the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, finds that 47 per cent of First Nations children on- and off-reserve live in poverty.

That figure rises to 53 per cent when looking at First Nations children living on reserves — the highest rate of child poverty anywhere in Canada.

The on-reserve child-poverty rate is roughly three times the national rate of 17.6 per cent reported in the 2016 census.

Taking a deeper dive into a decade of census data, the researchers found that poverty rates barely budged downward for most Indigenous communities between census counts in 2006 and 2016. At the same time, the number of children on reserves stayed stagnant over that time at about 120,000, so it’s not a matter of growing populations outstripping social programs and economic growth. The researchers say that “points to a failure to undertake effective solutions.”

There were, however, some exceptions.

On-reserve child poverty rates in Quebec were lower in 2016 than they were in any other province, largely as a result of agreements with First Nations governments to share revenues from natural resources.

Metis child-poverty rates dropped to 22 per cent from 27 per cent, but did so at the same time that the number of people identifying as Metis rocketed upward. The researchers suggest that the decline in poverty rates might be because of more better-off people describing themselves as Metis on census forms.

Inuit child-poverty rates declined to 25 per cent from 27 per cent between 2006 and 2016, but about half the Inuit population is excluded from poverty figures because they live in the territories and Statistics Canada does not believe its low-income measures work there.

Official poverty statistics don’t examine the situations on reserve except during census counts, which the researchers say must change to better track anti-poverty efforts. Not tracking these figures, the study says, may muddle the statistics nationwide.

Earlier this year, the national statistics office reported that in 2017, the most recent year available, about 622,000 children in all lived below the newly adopted official poverty line, a decline of 278,000 since 2015.

“It is time to officially acknowledge that poverty exists on reserves and in the territories,” the study says. “The causes of poverty among Indigenous Peoples are varied. Solutions must address this complexity. A necessary first step requires a clear set of goals with transparent criteria.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

National Inquiry Deems Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women Canadian Genocide; Leaked Report


The final report from the national inquiry into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada has deemed the situation a genocide.

The report was leaked by CBC News, which published the details on Friday.

The report found that about 1,200 women and girls have been murdered or gone missing since 1980, some advocates believe the actual number is far higher.

The report concluded that what happened in Canada consisted of a disproportionate level of violence facing indigenous women and girls in the country, spurred by “state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies.”

“Genocide is the sum of the social practices, assumptions, and actions detailed within the report,” the summary said. “As many witnesses expressed, this country is at war, and Indigenous women, girls…are under siege.”

The report acknowledged disagreements over what constituted genocide but concluded: “The national inquiry’s findings support characterizing these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual] people, as genocide.”

The report also concludes that colonial violence, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people has become embedded into everyday life, resulting in many Indigenous people becoming normalized to violence.

The report urges all actors in the justice system, including police services, to build respectful working relationships with Indigenous Peoples by “knowing, understanding, and respecting the people they are serving.”

Actions should include reviewing and revising all policies, practices, and procedures to ensure service delivery that is culturally appropriate and reflects no bias or racism toward Indigenous Peoples, including victims and survivors of violence, says the report.

During the course of the inquiry, it notes, policing representatives acknowledged the “historic and ongoing harms” that continue to affect First Nations, Metis and Inuit families, as well as the need to make changes to how non-Indigenous and Indigenous police work to protect safety.

CBC said the report contains more than 230 recommendations.

The 2014 murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine in Winnipeg sparked public outcry and renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

The inquiry was launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

It has heard from more than 2,000 witnesses since 2017 – including survivors of violence and family members of missing women and girls.

The final report of the $92-million inquiry is slated to be released to the public in Gatineau, Que., on Monday.

The Closing Ceremony will be live streamed:

Website: http://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca

By RPM Staff, Updated June 2, 2019

Senate suspends Lynn Beyak over refusal to remove racist letters about Indigenous people from website

A picture of Senator Lynn Beyak accompanies other Senators’ official portraits on a display outside the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 21, 2017.

The Senate voted Thursday to suspend Senator Lynn Beyak from the Red Chamber over her refusal to remove racist letters about Indigenous people from her website.

Senators voted on division – meaning, without unanimous consent – to adopt the recommendations of a Senate ethics committee report calling for Ms. Beyak to be suspended without pay for the remainder of the current parliamentary session. Ms. Beyak has rebuffed repeated demands to remove five letters posted to her Senate website that have been widely described as racist toward Indigenous people.

The ethics committee report, released last month, also recommended that Ms. Beyak apologize to the Senate and attend − at her own expense − “educational programs related to racism toward Indigenous peoples in Canada.” In the case that Ms. Beyak refuses to remove the letters, the committee called on the Senate administration to do so.

The vote came after Ms. Beyak asked her fellow senators to reject the ethics committee’s recommendations, calling the penalties “totalitarian.” She stood by the letters, saying her website has become a “positive public forum” since posting them.

Ms. Beyak said the Senate should only scrutinize the speech of a senator if it’s “contrary to law,” warning that the decision to suspend her could set a risky precedent for others.

“If the Senate does not respect this legal bright line, then every activist senator will become fair game for political opponents, including interactions in the office, in the home, in the bedroom and at church.”

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said the Senate did the “right thing” by suspending Ms. Beyak and committing to take the letters down.

“It is truly sad that Senator Beyak still does not understand the gravity of her actions nor her role as a parliamentarian to lead by example. It’s not about political correctness − this is about racism that hurts people,” Ms. Bennett said in a statement Thursday.

The ethics committee’s recommendations came after a year-long probe by Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault, which found that Ms. Beyak breached two sections of the conflict-of-interest code by posting the letters on her website. The report said the letters imply that Indigenous people are lazy, opportunistic, inept, incompetent and greedy individuals who milk the government.

“Posting racist letters is incompatible with upholding the highest standards of dignity inherent in the position of senator. Senators are expected to protect Canada’s values and to represent the underrepresented, not to publish material on their Senate websites that denigrate them,” read the report.

Ms. Beyak posted the letters to her website to demonstrate that she had support for a speech about residential schools that she gave to the Red Chamber in March of 2017. In that speech, she said residential schools did “some good” for Indigenous children. However, many suffered widespread physical and sexual abuse and thousands died from disease and malnutrition.

Ms. Beyak was appointed to the Senate by then-prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer kicked her out of the Tory caucus in January, 2018 after she refused to remove the letters from her website.

The Globe and Mail 

[SOURCE]