Tag Archives: INAC

‘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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Colonialism No More Group In Regina Asked To Move Their Tents

The Colonialism No More group in Regina is being asked to move their tents.

Colonialism No More group in Regina asked to move their tents

CTV News, June 28, 2016 

The “Colonialism No More” group camped out in front of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Office in Regina is being asked to move their tents.

Sue Deranger, a member of the rally says the owner of the building and the property manager both approached the group and informed them they would like to landscape the space they are currently camping on.

“Personally, I don’t think we need to leave. We’re not protesting the land owner. Our issue is with INAC, the tenant. This camp has received a lot of support from all walks of life. You can walk down the sidewalk, you can get in the door. We’re not blocking anything and in fact everything but the tipi is off their property line.”

“They were asked to get rid of six or seven tents that don’t look clean. (The tents) don’t look appealing and they are a fire hazard but they’re welcome to leave their tipi.” said Dwayne Anderson, the developer of the building.

“We have tenants moving into the 4th and 3rd floor of the building in the winter and we would like to do some landscaping this summer. We don’t want this to be a political issue. It would be a lot easier to landscape if they can move. We would like this group and the government to resolve their issues quickly.” Anderson adds.

Deranger says they will not move until INAC meets their needs. It has now been 72 days since the group set up in front of INAC. Better housing and clean drinking water on reserves across Canada are just some of the issues the group want addressed.

Colonialism No More sent a response letter to the group that owns the building. You can read it below:

INAC Letter


Winnipeg’s Urban Treaty Payments Delayed Because Of Occupation, Indigenous Affairs Says

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada says urban treaty payments are delayed because of the INAC office occupation. (Dave Gaudet/CBC)

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada says urban treaty payments are delayed because of the INAC office occupation. (Dave Gaudet/CBC)

Traditional annuity payments of $5 are usually handed out in mid-June

CBC News Posted: Jun 22, 2016

First Nations people looking to pick up their annual treaty payment in Winnipeg at the Forks will have to wait.

The treaty payments have been delayed as a result of protestors occupying the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office in downtown Winnipeg, the department says.

The traditional annuity payments of $5 are usually handed out in mid-June for two weeks to people who are members of a Treaty First Nation.

In April, protesters occupied the INAC office in Winnipeg to stand in solidarity with the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario which declared a state of emergency after multiple suicide attempts.

Other INAC offices across the country were also occupied but most ended within a few days. The occupation continued on much longer in Winnipeg.

“The office was closed in mid-April as the result of an occupation by OccupyINACWinnipeg,” an INAC representative said in an emailed statement. “Regional staff have continued working from remote locations to deliver essential services.”

INAC said the treaty payment in First Nation communities will be delivered as normal but the payments in Winnipeg are postponed.

INAC said further details will be available when a new date is confirmed.


INAC Protesters In Winnipeg Record Video Of ‘Unexpected’ Police Visit


RAW: 2 police officers joined a sharing circle with protesters occupying Winnipeg’s Indigenous and North Affairs office 3:29

Facebook video of the meeting has been viewed more than 5,000 times

By Jillian Coubrough, CBC News Posted: Apr 25, 2016

When two police officers showed up at the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office in Winnipeg, where protestors have been peacefully occupying for 12 days, the group figured the worst.

“I heard someone say ‘the police are here’ and the warriors went to the elevator to block them,” protest supporter, Vivian Ketchum told CBC News. The occupiers are standing in solidarity with the Attawapiskat community and other First Nations amid a suicide crisis.


Protest supporter Vivian Ketchum captured the visit by Winnipeg police on camera. (CBC)

“I thought for sure we we’re going to be taken out of there,” said Ketchum of the police’s arrival.

Instead, a moment that Ketchum said could have gone bad, a protestor invited the officers inside to smudge and participate in the sharing circle. She began recording on her camera.

“I just wanted to extend an offering of peace and respect,” one police officer told the group, “You guys have got a legitimate concern for your brothers and sisters…we just wanted to see if there is anything we can do and, you know, extend a hand.”

The group erupted into cheers, before the second officer begins to speak.

He explained the pair were on foot patrol and didn’t know what was happening in the INAC office and thanked the group for inviting him to partake in the ceremony.

“A lot of times, what you’ll find is officers that they, people take at face value, they’ll see somebody dressed a certain way, looking a certain way — and I speak from experience, too they judge,” he said.

“I want to extend to you, as well, as far as when you see us dressed the way we are, also not to judge us upon the basis of our uniforms. We come here, this is who we are. When we take our uniforms off, this is who we are. We help people the same without the uniform on and with the uniform off.”

Protesters in disbelief

Ketchum posted the video to Facebook and it has been viewed more than 5,000 times.

“It was just at that moment things could have went bad, I was shocked that they did agree to come in the sharing circle with us. And then the mood kind of eased up a little bit,” she said, adding it gave her some hope.

INAC protestor

Crystal Green said the visit by police “was good public relations” but she does not trust the officers’ motivation. (CBC)

“[For] better relations, better understanding — why we’re occupying this building, why we’re there.” Occupier Lionel Daniels said he was also in disbelief.

“For them to acknowledge that they’re veteran cops, that they walk the streets day and night and them even acknowledging that there is racism within the Winnipeg police department was huge,” he said, adding he appreciated the officer’s respect of their peaceful protest.

“That’s why we’re all here is for that is love. The last thing we want these children that are already in their dark places in their mind is to see confrontation.”

Occupier not convinced by police visit

Daniels said it was a step in the right direction to building better relations between indigenous people and police but occupiers, we’re also skeptical.

Crystal Green said the visit “was good public relations” but she does not trust the officers’ motivation.

“With 30 of us people being in that sharing circle…of course they’re going to show their good side, with smiles and come to us appearing non-threatening,” she said.

“The reason why were cautious is because many of us have had a lot of bad experiences with the police.”

Green said ultimately they disrupted a sacred sharing circle and she believes the purpose of the visit was to gain intel on the occupation to pass on to the police force. She added subsequent visits from officers have not been so friendly. Winnipeg Police told CBC News they are proud of the officers’ conduct.


INAC Offices Offer Limited Services As Protesters Remain In Winnipeg, Toronto


Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office Winnipeg. Photo: Facebook

CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2016

Protesters took over offices to demand more be done to address suicides in aboriginal communities

A number of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada offices are closed to the public as protesters continue an occupation that began last week.

INAC issued a news release on Monday saying the offices are staffed but operating in a limited capacity “due to exceptional circumstances.”

Walk-up services are not available but telephone information lines and Internet services are working, the release states.

The following locations are affected:

  • Gatineau, Que. (headquarters)
  • Toronto, Ont.
  • Winnipeg, Man.
  • Regina, Sask.

All other INAC regional offices and business centres are open for regular business.

Protesters took over some offices in Toronto and Winnipeg last week, demanding that more be done to address youth suicides in aboriginal communities, including Attawapiskat in Ontario and Cross Lake in Manitoba.

The department responded by closing those offices as well as many of its other offices to the public.

Raquel Kirton, who was among close to 20 people occupying the Winnipeg office on Sunday afternoon, says the protesters are staying put.

The department said in an email late last week that it was working to resume some of its services at alternate locations.

With files from The Canadian Press