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]

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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]

Lynn Beyak kicked out of all Senate committees after First Nations remarks

Controversial Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak has been removed from all Senate committees following remarks about First Nations which have been widely condemned.

Beyak remains a member of the Conservative caucus, but has lost her spots on the Senate’s agriculture, defence and transportation committees.

Sen. Larry Smith, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, says in a statement today the decision is an internal party matter and Beyak has been given guidelines going forward.

He did not elaborate on those guidelines and says he considers the matter closed.

Beyak issued a letter earlier this month calling for First Nations people to give up their status cards in exchange for a one-time cash payment and said they could then practice their culture “on their own dime.”

She was removed from the Senate aboriginal affairs committee by former party leader Rona Ambrose in the spring after she said more good than bad happened at residential schools and that people were focusing too much on the abuse rather than the positive impact the schools had.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

‘Do Something Now!’: Indigenous Activists Plead for Action in Youth Suicide Crisis


A group that has been camped out at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada offices for two weeks marched down Yonge St. Friday to demand government action on northern Ontario’s suicide crisis.

Staff | Toronto Star

Beneath Friday’s pouring rain and dark skies, a group of Indigenous women continue the fight against northern Ontario’s suicide crisis outside the offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on St. Clair Ave.

They’ve been at it for more than two weeks. Geoffey Daybutch, who was asked to join the women outside INAC three days earlier to serve as a male voice from the First Nations community, stands guard as a man brushes past him with groceries and tells him to get off the sidewalk.

For Daybutch, this crisis hits close to home.

“The stories that are coming out from the suicide crisis is that some of the older children from the families are making their choice to commit suicide so that the younger kids will have enough food to eat,” he says, struggling to get the words out.

Daybutch is in Toronto because he too made that choice.

“This is a personal thing that I haven’t told anybody here: that’s why I left my home,” he says, tears in his eyes and barely able to talk.

“When we had my youngest brother, I knew we were struggling so I told my family I’ll come down to the city, I’ll leave so that there’s enough food for everyone. I never came up with the choice to off myself. I made the choice to come down south and make a difference and here I am.”

On Friday night, a few dozen activists marched their cause up Yonge St. to the office of Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in a vigil for the nearly 300 under-20 Indigenous youth who’ve taken their lives in Northern Ontario since 1986.

Once the march began, and two lanes of traffic were blocked, lineups of cars waited patiently while others blared their horns in anger as drum rolls sounded out and flags and signs were carried north on Yonge St.

This is the second time in a year the activists have come to INAC to demand the federal government follow through on an election promise made to address a state of emergency declared last April by the northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat.

The state of emergency came after 100 people, including children, tried to kill themselves in the community of only 2,000.

On July 24, Indigenous leaders met with the federal government in Ottawa. Another meeting was arranged for September.

Out of the July meeting came four already-promised mental health workers for the northern community of Wapekeka and 20 more for Pikangikum, which is now the suicide capital of the world after five youth suicides last month, according to the vigil’s organizers.

“They have reneged and they’re going to have a meeting in September when they’re finished their holidays and vacation time,” says organizer Sigrid Kneve, two days after someone woke her up in the middle of the night to inform her that another Indigenous youth had taken her life.

This year alone, there have been more than 20 suicides in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which is located in northern Ontario and represents 49 First Nations communities.

“Since that meeting when they decided to have the meeting in September, another young person has killed themselves,” adds Kneve. “We want them to do something now! We don’t understand how it’s out of sight and out of mind.”

Outside their sidewalk tent, Toronto police frequently visit, stopping to check in and make sure they’re OK.

Bennett, too, often meets with them. But they say they are still awaiting action.

“How many young people are going to commit suicide from now until September?” asks Kneve.

For now, Daybutch waits on a sidewalk he has claimed as his own until his friends and family get the support he feels they deserve.

This story originally published Here.


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Ontario First Nation ‘In Shock’ After Two More Young People Take Their Own Lives

A picture taken in Pikangikum on March 30, 2016 shows several homes in the community of approximately 3,000 residents.

  • Staff | The Globe and Mail, July 18, 2017

Two young girls took their own lives in Pikangikum this weekend, bringing to four the number of adolescents who killed themselves on the remote Ontario fly-in reserve in the past two weeks – another spate of such deaths in a community that has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.

The girls who died this past weekend were in their mid-teens.

Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl died by suicide. One of the girls who died on the weekend was a sister of the girl who died by suicide earlier this month.

The 49 communities within the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in Northwestern Ontario have grappled with the problem for decades. But halfway through this year, with the publicly known toll surpassing 20, there have already been more suicides in NAN territory than there were in any of the previous five years. More than half of the dead are between the ages of 10 and 15.

“We’re making every effort to prevent another life from being taken,” Dean Owen, the chief of Pikangikum, said on Monday as the First Nation of about 2,800 people waited for the girls’ bodies to be returned to their families following autopsies.

“The community is still very much in shock,” Mr. Owen said. But, he said, he and the other community leaders are at a loss for what they can do about the crisis.

As for the federal government, which funds First Nations’ health care, Mr. Owen said: “I would like to say, get a professional to come in and find out what’s going on in the minds of these young people.”

Pikangikum is no stranger to suicide epidemics. In 2000, after many deaths throughout the 1990s, one British sociologist said it likely had the highest suicide rate in the world. Between 2006 and 2008, 16 of its young people took their own lives. There was another string of deaths in 2011.

Suicide happens with alarming frequency through the reserves of Northwestern Ontario, but this year has been particularly difficult. The Wapekeka First Nation alone, with a population of about 400, has lost three 12-year-old girls. On Saturday, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation buried a youth who killed himself in Thunder Bay.

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, the deputy grand chief of NAN, said she has been trying to look at the lives of the young people who have killed themselves in her communities recently to determine if there are commonalities that can be addressed. “But we’re always responding to crises, and all of the resources that we have are all committed to that part of it, so we really don’t have the resources to develop some proactive and prevention measures,” Ms. Achneepineskum said.

When a child takes their life in a NAN First Nation, the community makes an effort to identify other children who are at risk and to take care of their immediate needs. That often means sending them to a city such as Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout or Ottawa for counselling. But that is a “very quick, Band-Aid solution” and there is little ability to do long-term followup because the resources are so stretched, Ms. Achneepineskum said. “We’re talking about youth here. We’re talking about youth that continue to die.”

Health Canada has sent additional supports to the affected communities and to the region at large, and is bolstering mental-health teams that serve NAN reserves. Jane Philpott, the federal Health Minister, said the suicides are an “unspeakable tragedy” and her department and others are working on the issue on an urgent daily basis.

“There is no question that this has to be addressed on a wide range of levels,” Dr. Philpott said. “We absolutely have to get to the root causes of why communities have lost hope and why there is this cycle of despair and continued [decisions by] people to act on their suicidal thoughts and not be able to see hope for their future.”

In fact, many of the root causes of the suicides are known, such as poverty, poor education, substance abuse and the loss of culture, something Dr. Philpott acknowledges.

“It is really a result of what we have tolerated as Canadians for generations now of discrimination, including things like, of course, residential schools, that have led to cycles of domestic violence that have taken root on some communities,” she said. “We need to acknowledge that we have done wrong by the First Peoples of Canada and we need to start to address that.”

[SOURCE]

First Nations Activists from Winnipeg to Blockade TransCanada Highway on Friday

Blockade at Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media

Red Power Media | June 29, 2017

For immediate release

On, June 30th, 2017, First Nations activists from Winnipeg will be shutting down a portion of the TransCanada Highway to protest the Canadian government and bring awareness to the youth suicide crisis in First Nations communities as well to the deaths of several indigenous youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Members of the American Indian Movement, Urban Warrior Alliance and Idle No More will be taking part in a pipe ceremony for youth, followed by a blockade of the highway.

Representatives from groups taking part are demanding the Liberal government increase the availability of mental health services on reserves and provide culturally appropriate resources for youth including in Manitoba. Inadequate health-care services, the loss of cultural identity and lack of proper housing are key factors contributing to the high rates of suicide and mental illness among indigenous peoples. Recently in Ontario, three 12 year old girls died by suicide at Wapekeka First Nation, located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. The latest one happened June 13th when a pre-teen girl hung herself.

The deaths of several Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay have also raised concerns about racism against Indigenous people and inadequate police investigations. First Nations leaders have expressed their lack of faith in Thunder Bay police. The York Regional Police service have been requested to investigate the deaths of Josiah Begg, 14, and Tammy Keeash, 17, found dead in McIntyre River in May. Ten indigenous people have been found dead in Thunder Bay, since 2000. Seven were First Nations students who died between 2000 and 2011 while attending high school in the Thunder Bay, hundreds of kilometres away from their remote communities where access to education is limited. Organizers of Fridays protest would like to see improvement in First Nations education and increase in funding for schooling on reserves.

Activists are requesting the RCMP respect their right to protest. They plan to start their demonstration around 12 pm just east of Winnipeg near Deacon’s corner. A press conference will also take place at that time. Activists are planning to hand out information to motorists and collect signatures on a petition calling for immediate action from the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennet, as well as the Minister of Health Jane Philpott.

Thunder Bay Police Rejects First Nation Leaders’ Call for RCMP Probe of River Deaths

APTN National News |

The acting chief of the beleaguered Thunder Bay police force rejected a call from First Nation leaders for the RCMP to step in and investigate three waterway deaths in the city.

Thunder Bay police acting Chief Sylvie Hauth said during a press conference Wednesday that she did not believe it to be “practical” or “necessary” to call in the Mounties.

The Ontario government has said only Hauth, as acting police chief, has the power to call in the RCMP.

Hauth became acting chief after the Ontario Provincial Police charged Thunder Bay police Chief J.P. Levesque with obstruction of justice and breach of trust after he allegedly disclosed confidential information about the city’s mayor Keith Hobbs.

First Nation leaders have said the local Indigenous community has no confidence in the Thunder Bay police or the OPP to investigate the deaths of Indigenous people.

Nishnawbe Aski Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Grand Council Treaty 3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh and Rainy River First Nations Chief Jim Leonard last week called on the RCMP to investigate the deaths of: Tammy Keeash, 17, who was living in a group home and found dead in the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway on May 7; Josiah Begg, 14, who was found dead in the McIntyre River on May 18; and Stacy DeBungee, who was found dead in the McIntyre River on Oct. 19, 2015.

The chiefs could not be immediately reached for comment.

Hauth said the OPP completed a review of how the city police handled the DeBungee investigation on May 15. The Thunder Bay police said earlier Wednesday there were no plans to release the report.

The Thunder Bay police botched the handling of DeBungee’s death investigation, according to private investigator David Perry, a former senior Toronto homicide detective. Thunder Bay detectives shut the file on DeBungee, declaring it to be accidental, before the conclusion of an autopsy examination.

Perry discovered DeBungee’s debit card was used after his death and that his identification cards were strewn on the river bank near where he was found mixed in with the identification material of another individual who has not yet been found.

Hauth said the OPP review now also extends to the Keeash and Begg deaths.

Serious questions still remain around the deaths of three of seven First Nation youth who were the subject of a coroner’s inquest which ended in June 2016. Five of the seven youth died in Thunder Bay’s waterways and three of those deaths were found to be “undetermined” by the coroner’s jury.

Perry told APTN it’s highly possible foul play may be behind some of these river deaths.

The Thunder Bay police now says it is investigating whether Indigenous youth are being targeted.

[SOURCE]

First Nations Boys Tethered at Ankles at School Angers Aunt

Jo-Ann Nahanee, the great aunt of one of the boys, says the unusual punishment meted out on the boys reminded her of residential school discipline. (Jo-Ann Nahanee/Facebook)

‘This is beyond punishment’: Aunt seeks judicial review at Supreme Court of B.C.

CBC News Posted: May 18, 2017

A First Nations woman has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, asking for a judicial review of a decision concerning a teacher who meted out a school punishment in which a boy was tied at the ankle to another boy.

Jo-Ann Nahanee, who is the great aunt of one of the boys, has asked the court to review a decision by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, which cleared the teacher involved.

The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation is a provincial regulatory body that deals with teacher competence and conduct.

The boy, a member of the Squamish Nation, who was eight years old at the time, was tied at the ankle to another boy with t-shirt material strips as punishment for a full school day.

​”This shouldn’t happen to any child,” Nahanee said in a phone interview.

The incident happened at Xwemelch’st Etsimxwawtxw, or the Capilano Little Ones First Nations School in West Vancouver in 2015.

In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson for the school, Chief Ian Campbell, said that the Squamish Nation conducted its own “thorough internal investigation” into the incident and found that no misconduct was found and no substantive action was required.

‘Reminiscent of residential school’

Court documents say the boys were tied together as a “form of punishment given their history of being unable to not get along.” The petition also says the boys’ caregivers had consented to the strategy — but doesn’t detail the length of time the caregivers agreed to have the boys tied up.

The two boys were tied three-legged race style, and at lunch time were told to stay off playground equipment to lessen risks of injury. At a later point in the day, the boys asked if they could take off the ties, but were denied.

Nahanee made a formal complaint with the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation at the time of the incident. She found out about the incident at a general meeting of the Squamish Nation.

She said the incident with the boys was reminiscent of what she experienced and witnessed at residential school.

“This happened to me and my sister in residential school; I watched her being tied together [to other students] like this, and the only difference today is that I can do something,” Nahanee said.

Teacher was new

In a decision made in March 2017, The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, Bruce Preston, said that the use of the ‘three-legged strategy’ was ‘flawed’ and said the students were not treated with respect or dignity.

Preston also noted that it was not sensitive to community members, some of whom are survivors or relatives of survivors of the Indian residential school system.

However, Preston concluded that the teacher who tied the boys together was not responsible because her immediate supervisor had made the call to use the ankle-tying strategy. He said that other strategies to help the boys to get along had been tried, and the teacher was new and recently certified.

But Nahanee said that she is still angry about the incident and hopes the petition filed will lead to a review of Preston’s decision, and policy changes in the school too.

For its part, the Squamish Nation says it will continue to “monitor the situation and support all involved.”

There have been no responses filed to the petition, which contains allegations that have not been tested in court.

The CBC contacted the Ministry of Education but it was would not provide a comment until the election results are complete.

[SOURCE]