Tag Archives: Chiefs

Manitoba First Nations Leaders Split On Syrian Refugees Coming Into Canada

Dakota Tipi First Nation Chief David Pashe and Grand Chief of Southern Chief's Organization Terry Nelson

Dakota Tipi First Nation Chief David Pashe and Grand Chief of Southern Chief’s Organization Terry Nelson

By Erin Brohman, CBC News

Syrian refugee plan ‘outrageous’ says leader but ‘sins of few’ shouldn’t stop plan says another

Two First Nations leaders in Manitoba have opposing views on how the federal government should proceed with plans to allow Syrian refugees into the country.

“Are we letting in ISIS people dressed up as refugees? Those are concerns that we have,” said Chief David Pashe of Dakota Tipi First Nation.

Pashe says the federal government needs to exercise caution in light of recent events in Europe and hold back on plans to bring in thousands of refugees in just over six weeks.

“They’re trying to allow 25,000 people by end of December. How are you going to clear all these people security-wise?”

On Monday, the new MP for the Portage-Lisgar riding in southern Manitoba expressed on Twitter she was “embarrassed” and “sickened” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to withdraw warplanes from the fight against ISIS and with his pledge to bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada from Syria by the end of 2015.

While Pashe says Bergen should show more support for First Nations and has not visited his community or other First Nations in the constituency, he says he agrees with her point of view.

“I feel that bringing that amount of people in is outrageous at this time. … That’s too quick,” he said.

“Justin Trudeau needs to do a little more security clearance checks for these people.”

At the same time, another First Nations leader in the province spoke passionately today about welcoming refugees into Manitoba.

“We live in the greatest country in the world. The most peaceful country in the world. We are blessed,” said Terry Nelson, Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization, while speaking at an event on restorative justice Wednesday.

“How we react to people that immigrate to this country is how we are judged. Recently events in Europe, Paris, some Muslim people, a very small minority, committed terrorist crimes,” he said.

“It should not impact how we view Syrian people,” Nelson said.

David Pashe says it’s frustrating to see the government prioritize refugees over First Nations people, who he says need work and housing too.

Pashe says when he became chief of Dakota Tipi First Nation in 2012, he saw a lot of young people not finishing Grade 12. He says he asked the provincial government for funding for upgrading so that they could get training in the trades. He says ministers were supportive of the idea but offered no money to do it.

“But they have all kinds of money to bring in refugees from all other countries. The governments are sending the wrong message to native people by doing that,” he said.

And he says an influx of refugees will detract further from resources that could go towards struggling First Nations.

Nelson, on the other hand, says the province’s plans to bring refugees in from other countries should not be impacted by events in Europe.

“There’s been an invitation for 2,500 Syrian people to be here in Winnipeg,” he said.

“They should not be judged. They should not be judged by a small minority of people that are terrorists.”

Pashe urges caution.

“Proceed at the rate you were going. Don’t throw in a whole pile. We have to learn from other countries like France and Germany who are taking in an abundance of refugees and they don’t have housing for them, they don’t have jobs for them,” he said.

“Put 10 refugees in my reserve, I’m going to say no. Because I don’t have the infrastructure for them. I don’t have jobs for them. I don’t have housing for them,” he added.

Nelson said the reason people come to Canada is because here they can be free. He said those who have fled their homes in war-torn countries love Canada because it’s peaceful.

“Let’s not judge other people who are immigrating here by the sins of a few,” he said.

“We need to show the best that we are. This is a great country,” Nelson said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-first-nations-leaders-split-on-syrian-refugees-coming-into-canada-1.3324899?cmp=abfb

Chiefs Urge Aboriginal People To Vote Against Harper Government

Assembly of First Nations national Chief Perry Bellegarde gives the keynote speech at the AFN's annual conference in Montreal on Tuesday, July 7, 2015. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Assembly of First Nations national Chief Perry Bellegarde gives the keynote speech at the AFN’s annual conference in Montreal on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.
(Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Globe and Mail

Chiefs across Canada are being urged to get their people into federal voting booths next fall with the aim of defeating the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The call on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), adds another dynamic to an already tight three-way race and offers incentive to opposition leaders to target at least part of their campaigns at aboriginal people – a demographic that has largely been considered inconsequential to the outcome of elections.

“This is a matter of national importance, and there should be no greater effort put forward by us in the coming weeks and into the coming months,” Derek Nepinak, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, told the crowd of several hundred.

Every indigenous leader has a responsibility to return to their community and ensure their youth are registered to cast a ballot on Oct. 19, Mr. Nepinak said. He urged the chiefs to persuade their communities to vote for the candidate – Liberal or New Democrat – with the best chance of defeating a Conservative.

“We all have the ability to cast a ballot to effect change in Ottawa,” he said. “We can mitigate the damages by voting for a different government in this upcoming election.”

First Nations leaders say they have the numbers to affect the outcome in 51 ridings. Traditionally, turnout among aboriginal people lags well behind that of the general population. Elections Canada says 45 per cent of people on reserves voted in 2011, but the chiefs say the actual turnout was much lower.

Many First Nations people also believe casting a ballot in a national election undermines their sovereignty and tarnishes the ideal of a nation-to-nation relationship between their community and the government of Canada. That has undoubtedly contributed to low participation rates.

But First Nations leaders say several factors could propel their communities to the polls this year.

The first is a mistrust of the Conservative government that has been simmering for years and has intensified since the last election. Chiefs complain about matters such as a lack of money for on-reserve education, a frustrating process for settling land claims, the government’s refusal to call an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and Mr. Harper’s reluctance to meet face-to-face.

Groups have been created, including one called Rally The First Nation Vote, with the intent of ousting the Conservatives.

“We can work towards getting the Harper government out, and having a new government that is willing to work with First Nations people on indigenous issues,” Quinn Meawasige, a member of the AFN youth council, told the gathering.

The second factor is what some chiefs describe as a growing empowerment of young indigenous people who are angered by the disparities between their standard of living and that of the rest of Canada, and whose numbers are increasing faster than the rate of the general population.

And the third is the rapid expansion of social media.

“Look what happened with Idle No More,” Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, told The Globe and Mail. “Because of social media, people are starting to talk. Look at the excitement of the youth. They are the ones that are really going to drive this.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says the Conservative government has introduced measures to improve the lives of aboriginal people, many of them aimed at positioning the First Nations to take full advantage of Canada’s economic prosperity. The Liberals and the New Democrats, he said, “favour irresponsible spending instead of concrete, achievable and necessary action.”

But native speakers at the three-day AFN meeting decried Conservative policies, from changes to the Canada Elections Act they say will make it more difficult for aboriginal people to vote, to reductions in environmental assessments, to anti-terrorism legislation that they say could affect their ability to engage in legitimate protest.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who addressed the assembly, promised a new era of respect for indigenous people. Both committed to increased consultation, improved language rights, a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women, more money for education and to attend future meetings of the AFN.

Change is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary, said Mr. Mulcair.

“We will never impose solutions from the top down,” said Mr. Trudeau.

Unlike other chiefs, Mr. Bellegarde does not openly lobby for the defeat of the Conservatives saying the AFN must remain staunchly non-partisan. But he does urge greater First Nations electoral participation.

“The important thing is we want to make a difference,” he said. “And, if anybody wants to get elected into government now, we are saying our vote is going to count this time around. Pay attention to us.”

Chiefs across Canada are being urged to get their people into federal voting booths next fall with the aim of defeating the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The call, which came on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), adds another dynamic to an already tight three-way race and offers an incentive to opposition leaders to target at least some of their campaign messages to aboriginal people – a demographic that has largely been considered inconsequential to the outcome of elections.

“This is a matter of national importance, and there should be no greater effort put forward by us in the coming weeks and into the coming months,” Derek Nepinak, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, told the crowd of several hundred.

Every chief has a responsibility to return to their community and ensure that their youth are registered to cast a ballot on Oct. 19, Mr. Nepinak said. He urged the chiefs to persuade their communities to vote strategically for the candidate – Liberal or New Democrat – who has the best chance of defeating a Conservative.

“We all have the ability to cast a ballot to effect change in Ottawa,” he said. “We can mitigate the damages by voting for a different government in this upcoming election.”

First Nations leaders say they have the numbers to affect the outcome in 51 ridings. Traditionally, the voter turnout among aboriginal people lags well behind that of the general population. Elections Canada says 45 per cent of people on reserves voted in the 2011 election, but even the chiefs say that is likely inflated and the actual turnout was much lower.

Many First Nations members believe casting a ballot in a national election undermines their own sovereignty and the ideal of a nation-to-nation relationship with the government of Canada. That has undoubtedly contributed to low participation rates.

But, this year, First Nations leaders say several factors could propel their communities to the polls.

The first is a simmering mistrust between the Conservative government and many indigenous people. The chiefs complain about matters as diverse as a lack of money for on-reserve education, a frustrating process for settling land claims, the government’s refusal to call an inquiry into the large numbers of murdered and missing aboriginal women, and Mr. Harper’s reluctance to meet face-to-face.

Groups have been created, including one called Rally The First Nation Vote, with the intent of ousting the Conservatives.

“We can work towards getting the Harper government out, and having a new government that is willing to work with First Nations people on indigenous issues,” Quinn Meawasige, a member of the AFN youth council told the gathering.

The second factor that could motivate the First Nations vote is what some chiefs describe as a growing empowerment among young First Nations people.

And the third is the rapid expansion of social media.

“Look what happened with Idle No More,” Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “Because of social media, people are starting to talk. Look at the excitement of the youth. They are the ones that are really going to drive this.”

Speaker after speaker took to the podium on opening day of the three-day meeting to decry Conservative policies, from changes to the Canada Elections Act they say will make it more difficult for aboriginal people to vote, to reductions in environmental assessments, to anti-terrorism legislation they say could affect their ability to engage in legitimate protest.

Those themes were echoed by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who were each given a half hour to make their pitch to the assembly. Both opposition leaders promised that the election of their party in the fall would usher in a new era of respect for Canada’s indigenous people.

Both committed to increased consultation with native people, improved language rights, a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women, more money for education, and their own presence at future meetings of the AFN.

Change is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary, Mr. Mulcair said.

“We will never impose solutions from the top down,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Unlike other chiefs, Mr. Bellegarde does not openly advocate for the defeat of the Conservatives, saying the AFN must remain non-partisan. But he is urging greater electoral participation.

“The important thing is we want to make a difference,” he said. “And, if anybody wants to get elected into government now, we are saying our vote is going to count this time around. Pay attention to us.”

Source: http://fw.to/8mibwtP

Mohawk Council Of Kahnawake Orders Two Chiefs To Publicly Apologize

A Kahnawake law prohibits non-native residence in the South Shore reserve. Kahnawake resident

A Kahnawake law prohibits non-native residence in the South Shore reserve. Kahnawake resident

Kalina Laframboise | The Montreal Gazette, May 31, 2015

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has ordered two chiefs to publicly apologize to the community after they challenged the native reserve’s controversial membership law.

The band council voted for acts of censure against Chiefs Christine Zachary-Deom and Gina Deer. The disciplinary measures come after a resident asked the 12 chiefs for their stance on membership law at a community meeting and both chiefs voiced concerns with the law.

The private investigation into the complaints launched by two residents of Kahnawake cost the council $9,240. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Disciplinary Measures ensures an investigator appointed by council looks into complaints made against the chiefs by residents on the town’s registry. The report is confidential and only community members are allowed to view the recommendations.

“I have personally put the law into practice by moving away from the community in 1988 when I married a non-native. The choice was not made because of pressure or by notice; rather, it was to uphold the wishes of the community,” Deer wrote in a statement.

Kahnawake’s Membership Law prohibits non-natives from residing on the territory and has been in effect since 1981, but is rarely enforced. Since May, protests have been staged outside the homes of blended families demanding non-natives leave Kahnawake. Signs with “marry out, get out” and “respect Mohawk law” are posted along the main highway in town.

The two chiefs had a week from May 15 to comply with the acts of censure. Deer issued a short online apology through the council while Zachary-Deom published two separate statements in Kahnawake’s local newspapers.

Zachary-Deom was also ordered to apologize for her “overtly aggressive manner and actions” during a heated debate over the membership law at a community meeting.

“For those who were witnesses to the deplorable events, and who may have become alarmed at my actions, I hereby tender my heartfelt apology in the hopes that a sense of respect and peacefulness can return to all of our deliberations and proceedings, and that there can be a return to a feeling of harmony once again,” wrote Zachary-Deom in a statement.

Joe Delaronde, spokesperson for the council, explained chiefs are obligated to uphold Mohawk law regardless of their own personal convictions. The report issued by investigator Rish Handa called for disciplinary actions only against Zachary-Deom, but the council voted in a secret ballot to also issue an act of censure against Deer. The act of censure requires Deer to apologize while the report only recommended it.

Grand Chief Michael Delisle recused himself from some of the votes and the investigation because one of the complainants was his niece. He refused to comment.

“They have obligations to their oath of office. That’s where the apologies are based,” Delaronde said.

This is the first time a Mohawk chief in Kahnawake has been disciplined for not publicly supporting the membership law.

Eviction letters sent by community members last fall demanded non-natives pack up and leave. Several blended families are suing the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake in Quebec Superior Court in hopes of being able to stay.

Racism is something you have to live, feel and breathe. It is not something you can read about or learn about. Now I can honestly say I have felt it.— Terri McComber, a non-native mother of three who lives in Kahnawake

Terri McComber, a non-native mother of three who lives in Kahnawake, was the target of a demonstration in early May. Her home was vandalized, although she has lived on the reserve with her native husband for 26 years.

“Racism is something you have to live, feel and breathe. It is not something you can read about or learn about. Now I can honestly say I have felt it,” McComber said.

She also said her family has received an outpouring of quiet support from community members, but that many are scared to challenge the membership law.

“All I know is that things need to change and that’s the way it will go down. There is going to be change and how that is going to be, I don’t know,” McComber said.

For Kahnawake resident Jeremiah Johnson, the legislation protects his community’s identity, culture and language.

“It’s not about who you are, it is about who you are not,” Johnson said. “If you’re not a native person and not a part of the community then you should not be residing here.”

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/mohawk-council-of-kahnawake-orders-two-chiefs-to-publicly-apologize

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.

RCMP To Update Report On Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women

TANYA TALAGA / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy of the Assembly of First Nations said the RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women "should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people's lives."

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy of the Assembly of First Nations said the RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women “should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people’s lives.”  TANYA TALAGA / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Toronto Star

A year after the release of a report on 1,181 aboriginal women and girls that have been murdered or gone missing in the last three decades, the RCMP will provide an update on progress made.

First Nations leaders are calling for all the information gathered for the report to be released to the public — a step authorities have so far not agreed to.

The RCMP is not conducting new research for a second report, but they will provide an update in May on the areas listed in their original report, the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, which stunned the nation after police put a figure to what many already knew — First Nations women fall victim to violence far more than non-aboriginals do.

The RCMP update will include progress made on unresolved cases, focusing on prevention, increasing public awareness and making sure the data is accurate and captures women of aboriginal background, according to RCMP Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer.

Many First Nations leaders and aboriginal advocates feel the number of 1,181 murdered and missing is too low and that there are more uncounted cases out there. Of those listed in the RCMP report, 1,017 were murdered and 164 are missing women and girls from 1980 to 2012.

After the report’s initial release, cries for a national inquiry into how to stop the killings have grown louder. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper steadfastly refuses to hold an inquiry. Instead, the provinces have decided to hold a roundtable looking at systemic issues surrounding the issue.

Last month, when Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt commented to First Nations chiefs that 70 per cent of the cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women were perpetrated by indigenous men, community leaders demanded to know what new information the minister has.

It is time for the RCMP to release all the data they have collected so far on the cases so everyone can analyze the wide variety of factors that have led to the systemic problems of murdered and missing women, said Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.

“Any report will have pros and cons. Depending on what views you are trying to project, you’ll use what works for you. The report should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people’s lives,” Beardy said.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Valcourt refused to comment on what was discussed in the meeting with the chiefs on March 20, but he called the session productive.

Valcourt’s office would not answer specific calls from the Star.

But opposition members accused Valcourt in the House of Commons on Wednesday of being discourteous during the meeting and demanded he account for his actions, saying one chief even complained that Valcourt’s “responses and attitude strongly reflects the very same attitude that resulted in Indian residential schools.”

The original RCMP report concluded that 90 per cent of the homicide cases identified had been solved and that this percentage was similar to solved murders of non-First Nations women. Most homicides were committed by men and the report noted most women knew their attackers.

In cities across Canada on Thursday, First Nations people and advocates will march to remember Cindy Gladue, who bled to death from a 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. Gladue was a sex worker.

Bradley Barton, the long-haul trucker accused of killing her, was freed after the mostly white male jury found him not guilty. His defence argued the wound happened during rough sex.

During the criminal trial, Gladue’s body suffered further injustice after her wounded vagina was brought into court as evidence, said Audrey Huntley of Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. She is one of the organizers of the march to remember Gladue.

“That really shows the level of racism we are dealing with. I think that is one big reason why her case has touched such a nerve,” Huntley said.

“There has been absolutely no justice for her in the courts or from the jury. Because she was a former or current sex worker, does that mean she was allowed to be violated or killed?” she asked.

With files from Joanna Smith

By: Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Apr 01 2015