Justin Trudeau ‘Deeply Moved’ By Courage In La Loche After Shootings

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses for a moment as he lays a wreath outside the La Loche Community school in La Loche, Sask., Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. (CP/Jonathan Hayward)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses for a moment as he lays a wreath outside the La Loche Community school in La Loche, Sask., Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. (CP/Jonathan Hayward)

The Canadian Press

LA LOCHE, Sask. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is deeply moved by the courage shown in a northern Saskatchewan community that lost four people in a mass shooting.

Trudeau is visiting the isolated Dene community of La Loche, which was rocked to its core last Friday when two brothers were killed in a home before a teacher and an aide were shot at the high school.

A 17-year-old boy, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Friends have said he was an outcast at home and a victim of bullying at school.

Trudeau is to be joined by his public safety, justice and health ministers, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde.

The prime minister says in a statement that he wants to personally express to the people of La Loche the country’s shock and sadness.

“It is both heartbreaking and devastating when lives so full of promise are taken from us too soon. On Jan. 22, four Canadians were senselessly killed. Seven more were injured, and the lives of countless others were altered by these terrible events,” he says.

“I have … been deeply moved by the courage of the families and friends of the victims, the mental-health workers, the school’s personnel and students, the mayor and indigenous leaders.”

Teachers from the school have posted a letter on Facebook that assures students they won’t be deserted after last week’s events.

“Some people have expressed concern that some of us have left and the fact is, we are hurt and we are healing but we are still here,” the letter says.

“Some people need to leave to get help. We don’t judge or condemn anyone who needs to be somewhere else to pick up the pieces, but we are choosing to move forward together, as a family and a community,” it continues.

“We are supporting each other so we can help support you. We will be back. We will rebuild. We will get better together.”

“So if you find yourself wondering where your teachers and school staff are, the answer is: we are in La Loche. Because truly, where else would we be?”

[Source]

B.C. Site C Dam Protesters Dig In And Prepare For Arrest

Treaty8
The Canadian Press

Long-time former politician Arthur Hadland among those arrested at the work site

First Nations protesting the construction of the $9-billion Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia are preparing for their own arrests while they implore Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervene to stop the hydroelectric project.

Helen Knott of the Prophet River First Nation said in an interview from the protest site that she and six other demonstrators are camped at Rocky Mountain Fort, the former site of a North West Company fur-trading post established in 1794, near Fort St. John.

RCMP said they arrested three protesters on Wednesday who had been blocking an access road needed by BC Hydro crews to begin work on the dam, the third on the Peace River. The dam will create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood the area where the protesters are camping.

Eviction notice issued

The BC Hydro and Power Authority has issued an eviction notice, warning protesters that all contents of the camp set up on Dec. 31 will be removed and delivered to the RCMP.

Knott said the protesters are hunkering down while weathering snow and temperatures as low as –20 C, awaiting the possibility of arrest.

“It’s not necessarily anybody goes into it with that idea, like, yeah, we’re going to be arrested, right? It’s that, yeah, we’re committed to saving this tract of land and to, you know, actively use our treaty rights here,” she said.

Knott said she would rather not be arrested but is willing to be at the camp and take a stand on the issue.

https://twitter.com/faisal_moola/status/685228206698426369/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Protest camp to be logged

Site C spokesman David Conway said the protest is affecting a small clearing area, but all other construction work on the project continues. Contractors had been prepared to log the area where protesters are camped.

The utility hopes to resolve the situation through ongoing discussions with protesters and local authorities in order to resume construction, he said.

“BC Hydro respects the right of all individuals to peacefully protest and express their opinions about Site C in a safe and lawful manner,” he said in an email. “Our immediate concern is to ensure the safety of both Site C workers and the protesters.”

Several First Nations and local residents have filed legal challenges over the dam, raising concerns about flooding and the impact the lake will create.

Flooding historic and sacred sites

Art Napoleon of the Saulteau First Nation said in a phone interview from Victoria that the lake will flood the historic site and other sacred areas.

“That whole area was a culturally significant area for us, for hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering, a lot of history, all of our history, so that’s our cultural institution and it’s being raped, and it’s still not enough,” he said, adding he hopes Trudeau can get involved.

“Well, I don’t know what exactly he can do, but it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?” said Napoleon.

The protest camp is in a remote area. Knott said once protesters leave the main highway, they must drive on rough, secondary roads for 90 minutes to two hours before making another seven-kilometre trip by foot or snowmobile.

The timber needs to be cleared before birds move in for nesting in the spring, and provincial Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the delay would make the project more expensive.

“Government wants to be respectful of people’s right to express themselves and their right to protest. We accept that,” Bennett said in an interview. “We have to balance that with the right of the BC Hydro ratepayers to expect that this project would get built on time and budget.”

Moving forward despite court challenges

Bennett added that government agrees construction should proceed despite outstanding court cases. He said those in opposition appear to be using the legal system as a stalling tactic and also noted the courts have mostly sided with the utility.

Opponents have been stating their case for a long time, but “the fact of the matter is the majority of people in the province don’t agree with them,” Bennett said.

About 75 per cent of the 600 workers currently on the site are from B.C., Bennett added.

BC Hydro announced in December it would spend $1.75 billion to build the earthen dam, foundation, two diversion tunnels and spillways.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/1.3394523

Suicides in Uashat Mak Mani-utenam: Council Launches An Appeal To Justin Trudeau

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Canada NewsWire (Press Release)

UASHAT MAK MANI-UTENAM, QC, Nov. 9, 2015.

The Uashat mak Mani-utenam Council (ITUM) applauds the Quebec government’s decision to hold a public inquest into the causes and circumstances of the October 31, 2015 death of Nadeige Guanish, a young Innu woman from the community. The Council hopes that this announcement will be the first in a series of concrete measures aimed at ending the wave of suicides affecting the Uashat mak Mani-utenam community.

When adjusted for scale, the five suicides in the community last year are equivalent to 12,000 Quebecers. In addition to this tragedy, the community must cope with a number of suicide attempts and the general despair felt by many residents. “Recently, our community has suffered real heartache, with so many premature deaths in such a short period of time. Our sadness knows no bounds. On behalf of the Council and all of the ITUM employees, I would like to express our sympathy for the family and loved ones of Nadeige. The entire community of Uashat mak Mani-utenam is suffering and commiserating. I hope that the coroner’s inquest will shed light on this tragedy and the circumstances surrounding it,” declared Chief Mike McKenzie.

The Council and the family of the young victim are aware that a number of factors contributed to her act of despair. Therefore, they are calling on all of the concerned authorities to reflect on the conditions that lead many young people in the community of Uashat mak Mani-utenam to consider suicide. “Nadeige’s suicide is a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be solved. We have to find solutions to make sure this doesn’t happen again. There have been too many already,” expressedMarie-Luce Jourdain, Nadeige’s aunt and the family spokesperson.

Appeal to the new Canadian Prime Minister

The Uashat mak Mani-utenam Chief is appealing directly to the new Prime Minister of Canada,Justin Trudeau, with an invitation to meet the community to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation. Recalling that Pierre Elliott Trudeau had come to Uashat in 1970 to mark the 100thanniversary of the discovery of iron ore in the Labrador Trough, Chief McKenzie believes that “45 years after his father’s visit, Justin Trudeau should come meet the community and demonstrate that he is prepared to move from words to actions when it comes to Aboriginal issues.”

The Chief also asks the Prime Minister to quickly announce the launch of a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, as he promised to do during the campaign. The Chief also asks both levels of government to adopt, without delay, a set of other measures that would respond to a number of problems in the community. In particular, he is requesting:

  • Adequate funding for the Uashat mak Mani-utenam police force (SPUM) to allow it to better meet the needs of the community. The police force is currently underfunded.
  • The creation of a mixed police squad made up of the SPUM, the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP. This would reduce the availability of illicit substances, especially given that Sept-Îles is the transit point for drugs in Eastern Quebec.
  • Support for prevention programmes in the community and programmes aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Support for crisis intervention workers and the establishment of a follow-up monitoring programme to prevent relapses and people returning to a state of crisis.
  • Developing channels with partners in the Quebec network for specialized needs.

“We are in a crisis. All authorities must recognize this, and we must work together to solve it quickly. We have to also think about how we can avoid other crises. In the medium term, we therefore have to come up with sustainable strategies to foster the autonomy of our people and embark on the road to individual and collective healing. The residential school at Mani-utenam left deep wounds, and we are still the victims of a paternalistic system that must come to an end,” added Chief McKenzie.

In addition to a national inquiry into the fate of Aboriginal women, ITUM also echoes the call of the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL) for a Quebec public inquiry into the systemic issues harming relations between Québec institutions and First Nations, especially with respect to law enforcement.

SOURCE Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM)

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/suicides-in-uashat-mak-mani-utenam-council-launches-an-appeal-to-justin-trudeau-calls-for-concrete-actions-543767652.html

Families Must Be Consulted Before Inquiry Begins Into Missing Indigenous Women

A portrait of Maisy, who went missing in 2008 at the age of 16, held by her mother Laurie Odjick in Maniwaki, Que.

A portrait of Maisy, who went missing in 2008 at the age of 16, held by her mother Laurie Odjick in Maniwaki, Que.

OTTAWA—Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has promised to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, but now that it is on the radar, there is some pressure to make sure it is done right.

“We’re only going to get one chance at this, obviously. It’s really important that we do this right,” said Dawn Lavell Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).

The Liberals have committed $40 million over two years to an inquiry that is expected to examine the root causes behind the more than 1,200 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

The numbers are one thing, but those tasked with setting up a national inquiry will need to make difficult decisions about which stories to highlight, which families to hear from and which of the many systemic problems surrounding the issue to address.

Kim Stanton, legal director of the Toronto-based Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, said the inquiry must be structured to attract the attention of Canadians throughout the entire process.

“A really good inquiry is a pedagogical exercise,” said Stanton, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on truth commissions and public inquiries and said getting a report at the end should not be the only goal.

“The point of an inquiry is to educate us about what is going on in our society that is wrong. It can do that, as it goes along, if it is well run and well organized and has various components that will enable the commissioners to more ably tackle the problem in a way that will engage the public, so that by the time they report, there is some political will to do something with the report.”

Everyone agrees the scope and mandate of the inquiry should not be set without first listening to the families of missing and murdered women.

“I think families should be a major part of that inquiry because we are the ones who are living through it and are still living through it,” said Laurie Odjick, whose daughter Maisy was 16 when she went missing from Maniwaki, Que., seven years ago with her friend Shannon Alexander, 17.

Odjick, who has always been on the fence about a national inquiry because she is skeptical of what it will achieve, also wants Trudeau to take charge of that crucial first step.

“He, himself, should meet with us and talk to us and ask us questions because that is something that was never done,” she suggested.

It remains to be seen whether Trudeau will take that step personally, as the new government is focused on preparing for the transition to power Wednesday, but Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett said there is an understanding that involving the families before launching an inquiry will be key to its success.

“Justin Trudeau believes you have to talk to the people with expertise and those with lived experience in order to get good policy or good processes,” said Bennett, who was the aboriginal affairs critic in the previous Parliament. “I think step number one is to be in touch with people who have been doing a substantial amount of work, but number one is the families.”

Whatever form the consultations take, many believe it should be done directly with families and aboriginal women at the grassroots level and not through national organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations.

“I know that many families have been hurt and there is a lot of trust issues with the (national organizations) with families. I think they need to stay out of it,” said Beverley Jacobs, a former president of NWAC, although she thinks the organizations and their expertise have other roles to play.

Tanya Kappo, an indigenous lawyer and activist, noted the grassroots have been playing a larger role in the conversation over the past few years, such as through the Idle No More movement with which she has been involved.

“They are perfectly capable of talking for themselves. I think they may have been quite clear, in that even though these organizations exist and may have some views, they don’t represent the voices of the people at the grassroots,” said Kappo.

Harvard, of the NWAC, said she understands those concerns.

“Even just for me, trying to ensure that we have consulted with and really come to a consensus of the opinions and the concerns of all of our women, from the East Coast right to (Vancouver’s) Downtown Eastside, that’s a huge challenge,” she said. “That’s why it is important for those grassroots organizations to have a voice, to have a space, to have support, to have standing.

“We don’t want to see our women being pushed out of the process and have it being taken over by political leaders who essentially came much later to the process.”

By the numbers

718,500: Number of aboriginal females in Canada, representing 4.3 per cent of the population (Source: 2011 National Household Survey)

1,017: Number of aboriginal female victims of homicide across all police jurisdictions from 1980 to 2012, representing about 16 per cent of all female homicides (Source: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, RCMP, 2014)

174: Number of aboriginal females missing, representing 10 per cent of all missing-persons cases involving women and girls, since 1951 (Source: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: 2015 Update to the National Operational Overview, RCMP)

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/10/31/families-must-be-consulted-before-inquiry-begins-into-missing-indigenous-women.html

Inquiry Into Abuse Of Aboriginal Women Can’t Come Soon Enough

A vigil was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 5, 2014, for Loretta Saunders and to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. A full public inquiry should be among Justin Trudeau’s first acts as prime minister.

A vigil was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 5, 2014, for Loretta Saunders and to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. A full public inquiry should be among Justin Trudeau’s first acts as prime minister.

Editorial in Toronto Star

A full public inquiry is needed to end the silence around abuse of aboriginal women. It should be among Justin Trudeau’s first acts as prime minister.

If any more proof was needed that this country has to come to grips with the systematic abuse of aboriginal women, it came out of northwestern Quebec late last week.

In the town of Val-d’Or, a group of women from the surrounding Algonquin native reserves came forward to accuse officers from Quebec’s provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec, of sexual assault and other abuse of power.

Some say they were forced to have sex with policemen. Others say they were dumped far out of town on frigid nights, forcing them to walk kilometres in the snow. Eight officers have been suspended, and the province promises an independent inquiry.

The abuse of native women across Canada has been going on for far too long, mostly unreported. Finally, with the election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals last week, the country is about to get a national government committed to an inquiry into the approximately 1,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women identified by the RCMP since 1980.

That can’t come soon enough, and the revelations in Val-d’Or underscore the need for action. The women making the charges of abuse there are neither murdered nor missing. But their sickening allegations speak directly to the way too many aboriginal people — especially women — have been treated.

Others had made similar claims for years, but they were simply ignored. Still others may never have come forward, given the deep distrust of institutions such as the police that First Nations people have quite understandably developed.

A full public inquiry is needed to end the silence and rebuild trust. It should be among Trudeau’s first acts as prime minister.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/10/26/inquiry-into-abuse-of-aboriginal-women-cant-come-soon-enough-editorial.html