Tag Archives: First Nations

965 Indigenous artifacts found in Kitchener during road construction

Phase 1 of road work on Fischer-Hallman between Bleams Road and Strasburg Creek was set to begin in May of this year and run throughout the construction season. (Region of Waterloo )

An archaeological assessment that involves hand excavation will be conducted on Fischer-Hallman Road

Indigenous artifacts and evidence of a longhouse and First Nations village have been found at a location in south Kitchener where road construction is set to start on Fischer-Hallman Road this spring.

The Region of Waterloo has ordered what’s called a stage 4 archeological assessment after 965 items were found in an area of Fischer-Hallman Road between Bleams Road and Strasburg Creek.

The latest stage, which will be led by an environmental company and a First Nations field liaison will “involve hand excavation to identify, document and salvage all archeological artifacts.”

A stage 4 archeological assessment is estimated to take about six to seven months according to a regional report and cost $1.6M.

During stage 3 of the assessment by an environment company, evidence of a First Nation village and a longhouse was found at the site. A First Nations field liaison representative has been working with the organization hired to do the archeological work.

The work to widen Fischer-Hallman Road between Bleams Road and Strasburg Creek was set to begin in May of this year and last through the end of construction season in November.

The roadwork is part of a four-phase road project in the area that will be completed by 2025.

By: CBC News · Posted: Mar 04, 2020


Photo credit: Dan Lauckner / CTV Kitchener.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s not over yet.”

Still opposed to pipeline

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

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

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

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

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

Rights holders always ‘at the table’

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press · Posted: Mar 01, 2020


Saskatchewan chief saddened by lack of help to stop suicides

Chief Ron Mitsuing of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation voices his concerns about a suicide crisis in his community at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Photo by The Canadian Press/Mark Taylor

The chief of a northern Saskatchewan First Nation says he is disappointed at the lack of long-term help from the provincial and federal governments to deal with what he says is a suicide crisis.

Ronald Mitsuing of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, along with another band leader, met in Regina on Wednesday with ministers and the deputy premier.

The leaders are concerned about what they are calling “cluster suicides” in their community of Loon Lake, about 360 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

They say there have been three suicides, including one by a 10-year-old girl, in three weeks and eight suicide attempts, mostly by young people.

Mitsuing said he asked Premier Scott Moe and officials for help now, as well as for a long-term suicide prevention strategy to help all First Nations.

“Things are happening now. They can’t wait anymore,” he said.

“Kids are losing their lives and, if they keep waiting, it’s going to happen again.”

Mitsuing said Saskatchewan Health Authority officials sent to help his community will eventually leave and temporary assistance isn’t enough to prevent future deaths.

He wants community members to be trained on how to spot signs of suicidal thoughts and on how to properly respond.

“Right now our teachers are also burning out over there. They’re stressed. Our whole community, front-line workers, are stressed.”

Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding said the first step was to provide immediate help, which has been done, and then to plan for any medium- and long-term solutions.

“It’s a little early in the juncture to determine what those services are, but that’s something that’s going to be community-led, and we’ll certainly have those conversations with officials,” he said.

The Ministry of Health is reviewing its services and looking at what is offered elsewhere in Canada.

The Opposition NDP has put forward a private member’s bill that would create a suicide prevention strategy. Its leader says the Saskatchewan Party government has failed to act on reducing poverty and developing economic opportunities in the north.

“Nothing that we’ve seen from them so far indicates that they actually take this seriously which … causes me to wonder whether this is something they care about,” said Ryan Meili.

Band CEO Barry Mitsuing Chalifoux said an ongoing strategy would better help prevent suicide crises and give local governments ideas on what resources could be of help in their communities.

He said federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller called last week to offer his condolences. Chalifoux said he understands work is being done by federal officials to see what support may be coming and he believes they will respond.

“I’m just hoping they do that soon,” Chalifoux said.

The First Nation wants parenting programs and funding to hire additional supports in order to monitor its youth, he said.

In the fall of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called several suicides by children in northern Saskatour girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had taken their own lives over a short period of time.

“We continue to be committed to working with Indigenous communities across the country to deal with this ever-occurring tragedy,” he said at the time.

Earlier that year, a string of suicide attempts in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario garnered international media attention when the Cree community declared a state of emergency.

By The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press


Former Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence begins hunger strike over state of community

Former Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence during her hunger strike in a teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa in 2012. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Spence and band councillor demand end to federal government’s ‘piecemeal’ approach to crises

Former Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence says she is embarking on another hunger strike, this time over the state of her community’s water and infrastructure, along with its ongoing social struggles.

Spence became a focal point of the Idle No More movement after she subsisted on fish broth and medicinal tea from December 2012 to January 2013, demanding a meeting between the prime minister, the Governor General and First Nations chiefs.

Spence held the fast in a teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa and her actions added fuel to cross-country protests across the country under the Idle No More banner.

Spence began the current hunger strike with Attawapiskat Band Coun. Sylvia Koostachin-Metatawabin on Sunday at midnight.

“We will no longer sit by and watch government groups and officials come in and visit our community only to offer a piecemeal approach to longstanding and ongoing crisis within our community,” said Spence and Koostachin-Metatawabin, in a statement posted on a Facebook page called Reclaiming our Steps, Past, Present and Future.

Attawapiskat’s band council declared a state of emergency last week after water tests showed potentially harmful levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) in the tap water. The chemicals are byproducts produced by the water treatment process when chlorine interacts with the high level of organic materials in the community’s water source.

The community has a separate system specifically for its drinking water supply that is filtered through a reverse-osmosis system and distributed through two water stations where community members can fill up jugs. While still safe, the drinking water is starting to register rising levels of THMs and HAAs.

Attawapiskat has long struggled with high levels of THMs and HAAs and the fix needed to deal with the issue is in the millions of dollars.

Wants senior bureaucrats at the negotiation table

The statement from Spence and Koostachin-Metatawabin demands that senior Indigenous Services Canada management with “budgetary and decision making authorities” meet with Attawapiskat on “major capital investment that encompasses not only with our water crisis, but also focusing on infrastructure and housing.”

The statement said the community also needs commitments on dealing with child welfare, health, mental health and education, along with “the looming genocidal encroachment” of resource development activities on traditional lands.

Danny Metatawabin, who was Spence’s spokesperson during Idle No More, said that Spence and Koostachin-Metatawabin are currently only drinking water.

“But if there is no solution provided by Indigenous Services Canada or provincial officials, then they are going to stop taking water,” said Metatawabin, in a telephone interview from Attawapiskat.

Metatawabin said Spence and Kooostachin-Metatawabin have taken over a vacant De Beers training facility to hold the hunger strike.

“It’s long-standing issues with the Department of Indian Affairs, it’s not just about the recent state of emergency on our water crisis,” he said.

“It’s a multitude of issues.”

By: Jorge Barrera · CBC News · Posted: Jul 16, 2019