‘We want to be owners’: Fort McMurray First Nations and Métis unite on pipelines

The Fort McMurray regions’s 10 First Nations and Métis community say they want to be pipeline owners. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

‘Let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil’

First Nations and Métis communities in the Fort McMurray region are expressing interest in becoming business partners in the pipeline industry.

The indigenous communities want to either buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline or partner and build another future line.

“We want to be owners of a pipeline,” Allan Adam, chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said in an interview. “We think that a pipeline is a critical component to the oil and gas sector, especially in this region.”

“If Fort McMurray and Alberta are going to survive, the Athabasca Tribal Council has to be alongside.”

Adam, a board member with the Athabasca Tribal Council, an umbrella organization that represents the regions’s five First Nations, admitted, the details still need to be worked out.

Ron Quintal, president of the Athabasca River Métis, the organization that represents five Métis communities in the region, confirms it too is on board with the proposal.

But, Quintal said, he expects they would need backers to help guarantee loans to help fund the multi-billion dollar project.

Tired of fighting oil companies

The announcement happened on the heels of the groups’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the basement of a Fort McMurray hotel on Friday.

Participants say it was the first time region’s Cree, Dene and Métis communities met together with the head of the federal government. Typically such high level meetings don’t take place together.

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the Fort McMurray region’s First Nation and Métis communities back pipelines and they want to own one. (The Canadian Press)

Also in the background is the uncertainty over the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which would ship bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

On Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced it will halt “non-essential activities” and related spending on the project and set a May 31 deadline to decide whether the project will proceed. The company declined to comment for this story.

Premier Rachel Notley said the May deadline is a serious concern and suggested Alberta may become a co-owner in the pipeline’s construction.

The announcement from Adam is a change in position for the chief who is no stranger to pipeline opposition. The chief has posed with celebrities and activists critical of the oilsands’ environmental legacy.

Most recently, Adam was pictured with Hollywood actress Jane Fonda who described the oilsands on a 2016 trip to Fort McMurray as if “someone took my skin and peeled it off my body over a very large surface.”

Adam denied he was ever anti-pipeline or against the oilsands, rather the chief said he is critical of the feverish pace the oilsands developed without environmental considerations.

But, Adam also admitted fighting oil companies and industry has been tough and it’s time for a change.

“The fact is I am tired. I am tired of fighting. We have accomplished what we have accomplished,” Adam said. “Now let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil that’s here already.”

Archie Waquan, chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, also supports a pipeline partnership.

“No disrespect to the other First Nations that are against the pipeline in B.C.,” Waquan said.

“From our end — from this northern territory where the oilsands comes from — we would like to see more things happen and hopefully this will go ahead.”

Ultimately we are the keepers of the land

The region’s Métis communities say their Indigenous pipeline ownership would help alleviate the roadblocks the oil and gas infrastructure have been facing lately.

Elaborating, Quintal said, First Nations and Métis would provide ease of access for the pipeline route on their traditional territory.

Also, he said, Indigenous owners would take the upmost care to ensure the pipeline route would avoid sacred or sensitive areas and the infrastructure is maintained to the highest standards to prevent spills.

Chiefs and heads of the Athabasca Tribal Council and the Athabasca River Métis Council pose after a meeting Tuesday at Fort McMurray’s Raddison Hotel where they announced they are willing invest in pipelines. (David Thurton/CBC)

“From our perspective, the Métis have always for the most part been pro-pipeline,” Quintal said. But, “I am not saying that it’s an open book or a blank cheque for the industry to develop pipelines.”

“Ultimately we are the keepers of the land and it is of the upmost importance that lands are protected as much as possible.”

Quintal also said, Indigenous owners behind a pipeline, might also lend credibility that could quell some of the opposition.

This article was originally published by David Thurton  · CBC News · Posted: Apr 15, 2018

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Indigenous protesters again block entrance to Pinery Provincial Park

Maynard T. George is leader of the Indigenous family group claiming ownership of Pinery Provincial Park. (Submitted by Colin Graf)

Protester Maynard George says the action is connected to a First Nations claim to the land

Indigenous protesters are again blocking the entrance to the Pinery Provincial Park, an action they say stems from a longstanding dispute over First Nations claims to the park on the shores of Lake Huron.

Maynard George of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation told CBC news that he and about four other protesters have pulled into the park’s front entrance in a trailer, preventing visitors from entering the park.

He said Pinery staff told people using the park to leave. As of Monday evening, about 10 trailers have already left, said George.

“We’ve moved in, we’ve taken up our residency here,” said George. “And we’ve shut down the park permanently. We’re in a position where we have to do something to resolve the claim.”

​George was involved in a similar action that ended in November with the park re-opening.

He said the protesters’ claim to the land stretches back to the War of 1812.

The park’s superintendent would not comment on the situation.

Indigenous protesters say they are again blocking the entrance to the Pinery Provincial Park. (Submitted by Colin Graf)

No court action

George’s lawyer Wanda Corston said for now, there are no plans to file any official court claim. She said the OPP have spoken to George about the protest.

“They’ve decided to take over the park with regard to some claims they have,” said Corston. She said for now, there has been no action to file a claim in any court.

“There’s no legal position at this point in time, we just hope the claims can be settled in an amicable way,” she said.

Ministry response

George said police were present in the park on Monday, but that they are only there to maintain order. He said there have been no arrests or confrontations.

In a statement to CBC News, a spokersperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources said, “Ontario Parks is working toward a resolution to this situation – we are engaging with the individuals, their counsel and police to better understand their claims.”

George said he intends to stay at the park. It’s unclear for how long.

CBC News Posted: Mar 19, 2018

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First Nations Launching Call for Mass Demonstration to Protest Trans Mountain

A sign protesting the path of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion hangs outside a trailer in Burnaby, B.C., on Jan. 10.

First Nations communities and their supporters are planning to ratchet up on-the-ground resistance to Kinder Morgan Inc.’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline with a call for a mass demonstration on Burnaby Mountain in March.

Members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation – which is challenging the federal approval in court – is launching a campaign of volunteer recruitment and training Tuesday through a network of allied Indigenous communities and environmental groups.

“The spiritual leaders are calling for a mass mobilization,” Rueben George, project manager for the Sacred Trust, which was established by the Tsleil-Waututh to oppose the $7.4-billion pipeline project.

“We want to rally support and bring out the facts of the destruction [the project] will cause and who really benefits.”

The planned action could escalate into confrontation as opponents of the project are determined to stop construction, said Chief Bob Chamberlain, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“I can see [protesters] doing whatever it takes” to stop the project, he said. “This is going to escalate to a place that the government doesn’t anticipate. We hope for peaceful, non-violent action but people are going to rise up to the challenge.”

Opponents of the pipeline expansion demonstrated on Burnaby Mountain three years ago, and more than 100 people were arrested for refusing police orders to disperse. Smaller protests have sprung up in recent months around Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby terminal, as the company continues to obtain permits from the B.C. government for preconstruction activity.

On Tuesday, the Tsleil Waututh will put out a call to allied nations and supporters of environmental organization, with organizers saying their network will reach some 200,000 Canadians.

The planned pipeline expansion has sparked an interprovincial battle between the British Columbia government, which opposes the project, and Alberta, which argues its oil industry desperately needs access to Pacific Rim markets in order to receive world prices for its crude.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Nanaimo, B.C., last week defending his government’s decision to approve the project that he insists is in the national interest, while pledging to protect the coast from risks of a spill because of increased tanker traffic.

At an energy conference in Ottawa, several industry speakers said the Trans Mountain project is a key marker for the Liberal government, arguing that Ottawa’s response in the face of opposition will determine whether Canada can complete controversial resource projects.

Mr. Trudeau should not leave Alberta to lead the defence of the project that Ottawa has declared to be in the national interest, said Martha Hall Findlay, president of Calgary-based Canada West Foundation. Instead, Ottawa must send a strong message that neither protesters nor the B.C. government will be allowed to derail the expansion, she told the Energy Council of Canada meeting.

At the town hall session in Nanaimo last week, the Prime Minister was jeered when he defended the government’s decision.

“It is in the national interest to move forward with the Kinder Morgan pipeline and we will be moving forward with the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Mr. Trudeau told a rowdy crowd.

“We will also protect the B.C. coast,” he said. However, he added that the Liberal’s vaunted $1.5-billion ocean-protection plan was contingent on the pipeline proceeding, a statement viewed as a threat by pipeline opponents.

Chief Chamberlain complained that the Prime Minister is “holding the ocean-protection plan hostage” to the pipeline project.

The government is failing in its pledge of reconciliation by approving the Trans Mountain expansion project over the objections of several local First Nation communities, he said. The government has committed to respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes the principle that First Nations people be afforded the right to free, prior and informed consent over projects that impact their traditional territory.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said the UN principle provides for fuller consultation and partnership over decision-making, but does not provide any one Indigenous community with a veto over a project that is in the national interest.

The Globe and Mail

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Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation sign framework agreement for Treaty

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett signs a framework agreement for treaty negotiations with Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear on Jan. 22, 2018. (650 CKOM)

Signing sets the stage for Whitecap Dakota Treaty

A new framework agreement between a Saskatchewan First Nation and the Canadian government sets the stage for what would be the first new treaty signed in the province since the beginning of the 20th century.

A historic agreement between Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation was signed earlier this week to negotiate a treaty with the Crown — for what will be known as the Whitecap Dakota Treaty.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear and Carolyn Bennett, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed the agreement Monday at the First Nation.

Whitecap is not part of any of the numbered treaties in Saskatchewan because the Dakota people were viewed as Native Americans rather than British or Canadian.

Bear says the six-page document builds on more than 230 years of shared history, including a military alliance and concurrent promise by British representatives to protect Dakota territory.

The historical relationship between the British and the Dakota is well documented. The Dakota were allies of the British before Confederation and fought alongside the British in the War of 1812.

According to the agreement, the negotiation mandate includes recognition of Whitecap Dakota’s rightful place in Canada, and an acknowledgement of contributions made by the Dakota in the founding and development of the country.

The mandate also includes “appropriate measures to realize equitable treatment and benefits as between (Whitecap Dakota First Nation) and Treaty First Nations,” as well as resources to “support a sustainable community.”

Bear said the main objectives for the First Nation in treaty negotiations are to acquire a larger land base for sustainable growth, money for economic development, capital projects and protecting language and culture and to be recognized as a Treaty First Nation.

Unlike most of Saskatchewan’s First Nations, which were allocated land under six numbered treaties, Whitecap Dakota’s land was provided by a federal order in council issued in 1889. Bear said he hopes to increase that allocation to 128 acres per person from 16 acres.

In the 1870s, Dakota Chief Whitecap was present at both Treaty 4 and 6 discussions, but wasn’t acknowledged as a signatory.

The framework that was signed Monday launches a negotiation process where the Whitecap Dakota will provide a list of issues they want the treaty to address. The finalized mandate will be presented to cabinet by Bennett for approval. Ottawa would then formally offer a treaty to the First Nation.

The Whitecap Dakota First Nation is part of the larger Dakota-Nakata-Lakota Nation whose traditional governance structure was called the Seven Council Fires or Oceti Sakowin, whose lands extended into both Canada and the United States.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation is located 26 kilometres south of Saskatoon.

‘Eco-Colonialism’: Rift Grows Between Indigenous Leaders and Green Activists

Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation.

Indigenous communities say they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree

With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group Stand.earth even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline.

The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.

Louie’s experience is indicative of a widening rift between Indigenous communities and activists over natural resources, particularly in British Columbia, the focal point of major green campaigns generously funded by U.S. interests to thwart oil and gas exports.

The campaigns consistently portray a united Indigenous anti-development front and allies of the green movement, but some Indigenous leaders are becoming alarmed that they could be permanently frozen out of the mainstream economy if resource projects don’t go ahead.

They said in interviews they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas, recruiting token members to front their causes, sowing mistrust and conflict, and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree.

“The best way to describe it is eco-colonialism,” said Ken Brown, a former chief of the Klahoose First Nation in southwestern B.C. “You are seeing a very pervasive awakening among these First Nations leaders about what is going on in the environmental community.”

For instance, Louie is now one of the leaders of the proposed $17-billion Eagle Spirit pipeline, a Northern Gateway alternative championed by First Nations.

“When I went after Enbridge we were trying to gain more benefits for major projects going through our country,” he said.

Word soon got out about his differences with Enbridge and he was approached by a handful of lawyers representing green organizations who promised him assistance and funding, Louie recalled.

Their partnership ended bitterly because the two sides had conflicting objectives. He wanted better benefits; the activists wanted the project to fail.

The eventual failure of Northern Gateway was just one of a series of tipping points in recent months that worry some Indigenous leaders.

There was also the demise of Pacific NorthWest LNG and Aurora LNG, as well as the continuing challenges faced by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and other proposed LNG projects. These cancellations and obstacles are celebrated by activists, but also wiped out jobs and revenue for First Nations.

Calvin Helin is chairman and president of the proposed Eagle Spirit pipeline, conceived and backed by First Nations groups and individuals.

Eagle Spirit also faces difficulties. Led by Indigenous lawyer Calvin Helin and supported by First Nations along the proposed route through northern B.C., the project will collapse if the federal government goes ahead with a tanker ban that is making its way through Parliament.

The ban is related to the Great Bear Rainforest, which was created by the B.C. government last year to conserve a big part of the province’s northern and central coast.

Both initiatives are seen by greens as big achievements, but are disputed by First Nations such as the Lax Kw’alaams, who said they were advanced without proper consultation and prevent their members from making a living.

Brown’s experience with environmental activism started about a decade ago, when he was chief of his tribe and supported two run-of-river hydro projects.

The projects were attacked by groups such as Save Our Rivers and Western Canada Wilderness Committee for being harmful to fish habitat, and Brown’s band was criticized for being “sellouts and socially irresponsible people looking for the quick buck,” he said.

“What an onslaught it was. There was a high level of participation from people who had never been to the region … and they were all conveying the same narrative: ‘The sky is falling, keep your blood money, corporations are evil.’”

Brown, who now runs a consulting company, said similar tactics are used against other projects, too.

“If First Nations communities are willing to conform to the prescribed eco-narratives, they are going to get all kinds of accolades and praise, but if they don’t conform, it’s vitriolic hit pieces on these people,” he said.

Louie is still shaken by the backlash he experienced. After complaining to activists they were only using him to advance their cause, he said he was blackballed.

“Workers were spreading the word that I am not a good man, that I am there to ruin the environment, that I am making money on my own,” he said. “They were making me sound like I am taking millions from a lot of people. If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be struggling to pay for my car payments.”

Louie said he joined the Eagle Spirit project to achieve what he couldn’t with Northern Gateway: help his tribe become economically self-reliant.

Martin Louie in 2012 leading a protest against Enbridge Inc’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

They were making me sound like I am taking millions from a lot of people. If I was in that position, I would not be struggling to pay for my car payments – Martin Louie

Environmental organizations and Indigenous communities in recent years have found common cause in opposing some projects and in fighting the impacts of capitalism on the environment, said Dwight Newman, Canada research chair in Indigenous rights at the University of Saskatchewan.

A big reason is that Indigenous people have unique legal rights and by working with them, green groups are better able to block developments than if they relied on environmental grounds alone, he said.

Section 35 of Canada’s constitution states the Crown has a duty to consult with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and, where it anticipates adverse impacts, to accommodate to the extent reasonably possible.

So far, the law has been used against development, but one of the unknowns is whether Indigenous communities will use it to pursue economic development and override the environmental laws that block projects such as Eagle Spirit, Newman said.

“At some point, these arguments will end up in the courts, either directly as rights claims or as claims that there ought to have been consultation on potential effects on such rights,” Newman said in an article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, where he is a senior fellow.

“And the very presence of these arguments will overturn the expectations of many who think they have liberal views, but actually have ongoing paternalistic views that assume First Nations always need protection from development.”

And the very presence of these arguments will overturn the expectations of many who think they have liberal views, but actually have ongoing paternalistic views that assume First Nations always need protection from developmentDwight Newman

Many conservation campaigns rely on U.S. funds because there is more money available there due to tax laws and an abundance of wealthy philanthropists.

Vancouver-based researcher and blogger Vivian Krause has tallied the large sums poured by U.S. groups to fight pipelines and gas projects in Canada by analyzing tax filings.

The biggest funder has been the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which has granted more than $190 million to First Nations, environmental and other organizations working in B.C., Krause said.

The top recipient of funds from the Moore Foundation is Tides Canada, which received at least $70 million, she said. Tides Canada spends that money internally and re-grants it to other groups, particularly First Nations organizations.

Other big U.S.-based funders are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.

“These American interests are trying to stop these projects any way they can, and one of the best ways is by leveraging the constitutional rights of First Nations in the courts,” Krause said.

The former United Nations worker said she pursued the research because of pleas for help from Indigenous leaders “who want jobs and social and economic prosperity (and) are sick and tired of what they call the paid protesters.”

One of those leaders is Gary Alexcee, a hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation near Alaska, and a member of Eagle Spirit’s Chiefs Council. He’s disappointed the federal government is giving more weight to environmentalists than to the needs of Indigenous communities.

“We were totally taken aback and surprised by the announcement of this tanker ban because of the government’s statement that they were going to include First Nations,” he said. “No one got consulted.”

Eagle Spirit would create jobs and opportunities “that people never had” in a region where other industries such as fishing, forestry and eco-tourism are doing badly, he said.

Gary Alexcee, a hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation near Alaska.

Alexcee, 70, said many in his community don’t support green campaigns. He said activists have come to the region in big numbers and picked “token” members to advance their causes.

Relations between activists and Indigenous people got really ugly in nearby Prince Rupert, in the territory of the Lax Kw’alaams.

The community was initially opposed to a liquefied natural gas project proposed by a consortium led by Malaysia’s Petronas because of its location on Lelu Island, which they believed would threaten juvenile salmon.

They became supporters after negotiating bigger benefits and getting the project to re-locate.

But a small group of opponents continued to protest. Their frontman was Donnie Wesley, who claimed to be a hereditary chief and led an occupation of the site. That opened the door for activists to come in and offer band members funds and assistance to defeat a high-profile target, said Mayor John Helin.

Dozens of “professional protesters” travelled to the area from as far away as California with funding from groups such as SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, which, in turn, was getting money from Tides and the Moore Foundation.

“More or less, they called me a traitor,” Helin said.

Everybody said they hated me for working for Enbridge, you are the enemy, you are a traitor – Ray Jones

Petronas pulled the plug on the $36-billion venture this summer, which meant $2 billion in benefits over 40 years for the band were lost.

The Lax Kw’alaams chided Wesley for misrepresenting himself as a hereditary leader. The dispute over who represented the community ended up in court. Wesley lost and is appealing.

Greg Knox, executive director of Terrace, B.C.-based SkeenaWild, said there is a wide range of perspectives in Indigenous communities and while some may feel they lost opportunity when Petronas cancelled its LNG project, others were relieved because salmon were no longer threatened.

“This project was proposed for a terrible location,” Knox said. Many other LNG projects were also proposed, but “this was the only one that people were concerned about and there was big opposition to.”

His group also campaigned against Northern Gateway and supports the tanker ban, he said, but doesn’t have a position on Eagle Spirit yet because it doesn’t have enough information.

Stand.earth brags on its website that it has delayed or stopped 21 “dirty oil pipelines and train projects.” But it relied on Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, to confront Kinder Morgan Canada chief executive Ian Anderson at a recent Vancouver Board of Trade event promoting the $7.4-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“I do not welcome you onto my territory. You are not welcome on my lands, and you certainly cannot be doing business here without Tsleil-Waututh consent,” George said, according to a statement distributed by the group.

“It’s really Indigenous nations protecting their land that allows us to win these fights,” said Stand.earth campaigner Hailey Zacks, noting 150 First Nations in Canada and the U.S. are opposed to the project.

For its part, Kinder Morgan said 42 directly impacted Indigenous communities are supportive of the pipeline expansion and have signed benefits agreements.

What I do know is that the communities that I work with are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it – Hailey Zacks, Stand.earth campaigner

Zacks couldn’t speak to that, but said, “What I do know is that the communities that I work with are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.”

Haida Gwaii is one community known as a hostile place for development of all kinds — and for those who dare to promote it.

Hereditary chief Ray Jones, 66, was harshly castigated for doing consulting work for Northern Gateway, which would have included tankers sailing to and from Asia, potentially impacting the island.

A former captain in the fishing industry with intimate knowledge of the coast, the 66-year-old said he supported the shipment of oil and gas and any other work that promised desperately needed employment.

His contract job with Enbridge involved building communications between the island community and the company, he said.

But Jones was up against powerful forces. Haida Gwaii’s leadership worked closely with activists, he said, “a whole pile of them,” particularly from the David Suzuki Foundation, visited the area regularly and influenced the local population.

The foundation did not respond to an interview request.

The community was so close-minded about getting an alternative point of view, few even asked him what his job with Enbridge involved, Jones said.

“Everybody said they hated me for working for Enbridge, you are the enemy, you are a traitor,” he said. “I have two sisters who don’t talk to me. I have had people call me the village clown, a lot of derogatory things. I’ve had my tires slashed, I’ve had somebody key my car. It’s ugly.”

The same attitude has killed other jobs, pushing young people away and leaving the rest with nothing to improve their lot, he said.

“I always tell my grand children, get a damn good education because I don’t know what you kids are in for in your life,” Jones said. “We lived in a good time.”

By: Claudia Cattaneo – Jan 4, 2018.

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Manitoba First Nations Worried About Changes to Child-Welfare System

Cora Morgan, Manitoba First Nations family advocate,

There are concerns more Indigenous children will be permanently taken from their homes

Some Manitoba First Nations say they are worried some of the reforms planned for the province’s troubled child-welfare system could worsen the problem of having Aboriginal children raised in non-Indigenous homes.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says government plans to expand subsidies to include people seeking permanent guardianship of foster children will only make it faster and easier for kids to be taken from their parents forever.

“This is putting children at risk of being in non-Indigenous homes permanently,” said Cora Morgan, the assembly’s First Nations family advocate.

“When probably close to 90 per cent of our children are placed in non-Indigenous homes, and they’re not having access to culturally appropriate services or meaningful connections to culture and identity, then I have trouble with that.”

Indigenous people make up 17 per cent of Manitoba’s population, but almost 90 per cent of the 10,700 children in government care are Aboriginal.

System encourages taking children

First Nations leaders have long said the system is set up to encourage the seizure of children, because agencies are paid partly based on how many kids they care for.

The Progressive Conservative government, elected in 2016, has promised reforms but has yet to release details.

Families Minister Scott Fielding said legislation will be introduced soon to offer the same kind of subsidies foster parents have to people who seek permanent guardianship. The aim is to give kids a more stable environment rather than have them bouncing between temporary foster homes.

Morgan is worried the subsidies will encourage the current majority of non-Indigenous foster parents to seek permanent care of their charges. Fielding said his goal is to entice more family members who may not otherwise be able to afford to take care of the children.

This is putting children at risk of being in non-Indigenous homes permanently. – Cora Morgan

“We absolutely want more permanent guardianship, and the vast majority of people who take on permanent guardianship is a family member,” he said.

Not providing subsidies to permanent guardians in Manitoba means that “for a lot of people that may take on someone, that is a barrier to basically taking on a lifelong commitment.”

Fielding said courts are already required under law to favour family members in awarding permanent guardianship, so the expanded subsidies should make it more possible that children end up in the culture and language to which they are accustomed.

Fielding is also working on other changes first announced last month, including the launch of customary care, which allows First Nations children to stay in their community in the care of extended family and community leaders.

Preventative supports

The government has also promised to focus more on preventative supports for families to help them before they face apprehension.

A public inquiry report released in 2013 into the death of Phoenix Sinclair urged the government to address the fast-rising number of Indigenous children being taken from their parents.

Two years later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report called on all governments to provide adequate resources to keep Indigenous families together and, when children are apprehended, ensure they are placed with families where they can maintain ties to their language and culture.Assembly of First Nations National chief says there is a gap in services and programs for Indigenous children on reserves that needs to be immediately addressed. Perry Bellegarde spoke after a demonstration on Parliament Hill.

The Canadian Press

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Talks on with Indigenous Demonstrators to Reopen Pinery Provincial Park

pinery-closure

The Ministry of Natural Resources wants a trailer at the park entrance moved

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says talks continue in an effort to resolve an issue that led to the closure of a provincial park nearly two weeks ago.

Pinery Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario was closed to the public on Nov. 9 after demonstrators set up a trailer by the front gate in support of what police said was a land claim.

Ministry spokeswoman Emily Kirk says the trailer has been moved so that it now blocks the park entrance.

Kirk says the ministry and Ontario Provincial Police are involved in discussions with the individuals involved.

The park near Grand Bend, Ont., boasts about 10 kilometres of sand beach along Lake Huron and 21 square kilometres of forests and rolling dunes.

It has been the site of land claim protests in the past.

An Indigenous family led by demonstrator Maynard T. George has made several attempts to “repossess” Pinery Provincial Park in past years, saying the land belongs to approximately 100 of his great-grandfather’s descendants.

In 2004, then Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant told the legislature that George’s claim was “an individual grievance” and not a land claim.

Bryant noted that the First Nations in the area — Kettle and Stony Point First Nation — had said that they didn’t endorse the grievance and that they have no land claim at Pinery.

Pinery Park is located near the former Ipperwash Provincial Park is where a land claim demonstration turned deadly in 1995 when a police sniper killed Dudley George — no relation to Maynard George.

The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation approved the deal with the federal government in 2015 to settle that claim.

The Canadian Press

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Tensions rise between RCMP and First Nations against fish farms

For Immediate Release, October 17, 2017

RCMP, Marine Harvest, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans has just arrived on site to where Members from six First Nations of the Kwakwaka’wakw have been occupying fish farms, in their territorial waters for nearly two months near Alert Bay, B.C.

Yesterday, the peaceful occupiers, were been served with notices of injunction applications to be heard in court on Wednesday. Sources have reported significantly increased RCMP, Marine Harvest employees and Fisheries and Oceans employees in nearby Port McNeill headed to Port Elizabeth with boats and water equipment.

RCMP have been escorting the Norwegian vessel, Viktoria Viking, contracted by Marine Harvest to refill salmon pens with juvenile stocks, against local First Nation consent. The company is restocking, despite that most of the farm tenures and/or licenses expire before the fish mature.

The escalation in tactical teams, equipment and police numbers deeply concern First Nation members who have been asserting their rights to consent and consultation. Communities oppose the open net salmon farms’ effects on wild salmon including spread of disease, sea lice and other environmental concerns.

The police have no jurisdiction to remove the occupiers, and are supporting the illegal restocking of destructive open net salmon pens in their territory, instead of defending rights and title, and right to wild salmon assert community members.

The police escalation follows a gathering of Namgis, Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, Mamalilikulla hereditary leadership and community members this weekend. David Suzuki, UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Elected Chief Bob Chamberlain, and Elected Chief Rebecca David representative from the BC AFN, were present to show support for those occupying the farms, messages indicated over 90 First Nations are in support of the collective nations’ demands for removal and ongoing occupations.

Last week, Premier John Horgan met with approximately forty Kwakwaka’wakw leaders – elected and hereditary alike,and supporting community members – First Nations and non First Nations, alike. of the community who demanded the fish farms be removed.

Media Contact:

Ernest Alfred
Email: alertbayalfred@gmail.com
Cell: 250 974 7064
Carla Voyageur
Email: gwayee_jane@yahoo.ca
Cell: 204 292 1098

[SOURCE]

Trudeau Government Built Pipeline Website During ‘Consultation’ With First Nations, Court Told

Indigenous representatives at a news conference in Vancouver addressing the legal challenge to Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion. Photo by Dylan Waisman

The federal government was already building a website announcing approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion when it “consulted” with First Nations in November 2016, according to lawyers at the opening day of a court challenge in Vancouver.

“We had no choice but to go to court,” Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan told a news conference in downtown Vancouver about the proposed Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

The legal challenge, which includes seven First Nations, the City of Vancouver and Burnaby, as well as two environmental groups, is seen as a major legal test for an oil pipeline project that has the support of the federal and Alberta governments, but has been met with fierce opposition in British Columbia.

The B.C. and Alberta governments both have status as intervenors in the case. If built, the project would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, allowing it to transport up to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C..

Standing in front of a large green and white banner with the words “United against Kinder Morgan,” Indigenous representatives spoke to reporters, saying that the Texas-based oil giant didn’t properly consult First Nations about their proposal.

“Our efforts may be seen as a nuisance,” Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Chief Maureen Thomas said, her voice heavy with emotion. “But I see it as survival for our future generations.”

Large-scale legal challenge

The Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver began hearing arguments on Monday from 10 applicants challenging Ottawa’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Lawyers for the Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater, and the Upper Nicola band argued that First Nations consultations weren’t done in earnest because the government was already preparing to give the green light, even as discussions were underway.

“Canada was preparing a website to announce the approval of the project plan, while at the same time were still undertaking consultation with First Nations,” Tsleil-Waututh counsel Scott Andrew Smith argued in court.

“It has been found that no alternative version of the site was being prepared. [On] November 29th, a mere day after Minister Carr promised Chief Thomas that Tsleil-Waututh’s submissions would be taken into account by the cabinet and his colleagues, the pre-prepared website was published. The Governor in Council did not consider or take Tsleil-Waututh’s final considerations into account, and proceeded with consultations with a mind that was already made up.”

Lawyers also pointed to the exclusion of marine shipping concerns from the National Energy Board’s report, the alleged failure to address this error, and Canada’s alleged breach of duty to consult First Nations and obtain consent.

Environmental groups strongly opposed the pipeline on the basis of climate and environmental impacts. The expanded pipeline would increase the current number of oil tankers into Burrard Inlet, which scientists argue will be a major risk to whales and marine wildlife on the coast.

Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, said she was especially disturbed by news that Kinder Morgan has been putting anti-spawning mats across rivers to prevent salmon from spawning near the pipeline route:

“We learned this week that the lack of protection has become even more concerning — spawning deterrent mats have been placed in advance of construction, before it’s been approved.” she said.

A Kinder Morgan spokeswoman, Ali Hounsell, told The Canadian Press last week that the spawning deterrents were considered a “preventative measure” to minimize environmental impacts of constructing the pipeline. The National Energy Board has since issued an order for the company to stop unauthorized construction activities.

A spokesperson for for Kinder Morgan commented Monday on the court proceedings, saying that the company “… will be providing our legal argument through the court process and are confident in that process and our position.”

Around noon, Indigenous and environmental leaders spoke outside the courthouse to oppose the pipeline.

“We know when push comes to shove we will be on the front lines standing in solidarity, protecting our children and grandchildren,” Grand Chief Stewart Philip said. “We will get arrested if that’s what it takes.”

Grand Chief Philip Stewart at rally to support legal challenge against the Kinder Morgan pipeline approval on Vancouver on October 2, 2017. Photo by Dylan Waisman

“The exceptional support from the cities of Victoria, Vancouver, and Burnaby, show the deep commitment we all share to protecting and defending our natural values,” he said in a later interview with National Observer.

“Indigenous people are not standing alone. In every sense of the word, we are standing together. The fact that we can successfully stand up to both a large scale corporation and the Canadian government, is powerful. I’m convinced our cause will prevail. Otherwise, there will be mass unrest and we are prepared to do whatever we have to.”

The Government of Canada will respond in court on Oct. 12 and 13 next week. The Province of Alberta and the federal National Energy Board will present their cases on Oct. 13th.

By Dylan Waisman in National Observer, Oct 2nd 2017

[SOURCE]

 

Sask. Indigenous Girls 26 Times More Likely To Die By Suicide: Report

There have been more than 500 First Nations suicides in Saskatchewan since 2005.

Grim numbers from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations are showing First Nations youth face a significantly higher risk of suicide than their non-Indigenous counterparts in Saskatchewan.

A discussion paper released by the FSIN on Friday used coroner office statistics to show there have been over 500 First Nations suicides in the province since 2005, a rate four times higher than in non-First Nation populations.

Over half of the suicides involved people under the age of 30.

Dr. Kim McKay-McNabb, a First Nations therapist, calls it “a mental health crisis.”

McKay-McNabb is one of two technical advisors assisting with the development of the FSIN’s Saskatchewan First Nations suicide prevention strategy, which will be released on May 18, 2018.

The release of her research comes almost one year after multiple suicides rocked the province’s northern communities.

She said there aren’t enough treatment centres for First Nations residents across the province.

“You can be on the reserve and want to access treatment options. As a First Nations person you are limited on where you can go for treatment,” she said.

The numbers released Friday also indicated First Nations girls aged 10 to 19 faced a suicide rate 26 times higher than non-First Nations girls in Saskatchewan.

Children waiting too long for mental health treatment

McKay-McNabb said children are waiting too long for mental supports.

“Someone on the reserve gets a referral for an ed-psych to find out if they have a learning difficulty. That child can wait up to two to four years before they actually get to see that psychologist,” she said.

FSIN vice-chief Heather Bear said the discussion paper highlighted the importance of the suicide prevention strategy.

She added it would be important for First Nations voices to lead the effort to find a solution for their communities.

“We can’t go wrong when we get our people involved and they know what their issues are, they know what their problems are,” she said.

“They do have the solutions on how to fix them.”

 HuffPost Canada

[SOURCE]