Two women charged with inciting hatred after social media post called for “shoot an Indian day”

Two women have been arrested and charged after racist comments on a Facebook page called for “a 24-hour purge” and a “shoot an Indian day.”

RCMP say the women, along with another who has not yet been arrested, posted hateful comments online after some vehicles were vandalized.

A Manitoba woman, Destine Spiller ranted on a Flin Flon Facebook page, blaming the local First Nations community for damage to her car after it was spray-painted with large, black lettering on all sides.

(Destine Spiller/Facebook)

Spiller’s post escalated into racist and threatening language against First Nations people.

In the comments, she said that she was going to “kill some Indians when I get home” and talked about putting together a day to shoot “Indians.”

A second woman agreed with her, and suggested getting a shotgun and alcohol.

A Facebook user under the name Raycine Chaisson suggested “a 24-hour purge.” Destine Spiller commented “it’s time to keep the animals locked up or have a shoot an indian day!”

According to CTV News, RCMP haven’t released the names of the women but said a 25-year-old from Denare Beach, Sask and a 32-year-old from Flin Flon, are facing charges of uttering threats and public incitement of hatred.

The same charges are pending against a third person. All three suspects are cooperating with police.

Urban Trendz Hair Studio, a salon in Flin Flon, posted on Facebook that it had let go of an employee following the social media posts.

“Our business has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of discrimination or racism. The person in question is no longer employed by us.”

The other woman’s Facebook account stated she worked in Flin Flon as a mentor and as a substitute teacher in Creighton, Sask.

The Flin Flon and Creighton school divisions said they do not tolerate racist behavior and that the woman hasn’t worked with the divisions for “some time.”

The first woman apologized the next day, saying she was angry and upset about her vehicle being tagged.

However, several people had already called RCMP about the women’s comments.

Both women have since deleted their Facebook accounts.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is applauding RCMP actions in investigating and arresting the two women.

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Spirit of the Buffalo camp aims to stop Enbridge pipeline at Canada-U.S. border

Protesters near Gretna, Man., are camping near the point where the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline crosses the border. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Spirit of the Buffalo camp set up Wednesday near Gretna, Man.

An Indigenous prayer camp has been set up near the Canada-U.S. border along the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline in an effort to stop construction of its replacement.

There were five people at the Spirit of Buffalo camp near Gretna, Man., 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, shortly after noon Wednesday.

Geraldine McManus, a Dakota two-spirit person at the camp, says they can see the crews working on the pipeline on the U.S. side of the border, where the pipeline replacement received approval on June 28.

“We’re standing about 10, 15 feet away from them, so we’re putting ourselves right on the line,” McManus said. “We’re not letting them cross into Canada.”

Enbridge is replacing its Line 3 pipeline from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis. (The Canadian Press)

The Enbridge Line 3 replacement has received approvals in Canada and construction has begun in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Construction in Manitoba is anticipated to start in August and facilities construction in the right-of-way has already started, an Enbridge spokesperson said.

Enbridge officials say the pipeline, which was built in the 1960s, is deteriorating and needs to be replaced. Current capacity is 390,000 barrels per day, but the new 36-inch pipeline will restore it to its former capacity of 760,000 barrels per day, the company says.

The original 34-inch pipeline will be deactivated and left in place, which Enbridge says causes less damage than removing it.

Line 2 Maintenance

Company officials are aware of the protest camp, an emailed statement says.

“A number of individuals are observing our Line 2 maintenance work site near the Canada-U.S. border. Safety of our workers and others present near the site is our Number 1 priority,” says the email from an Enbridge spokesperson.

“Enbridge respects people’s right to express their views safely and in accordance with the law.”

McManus, who was part of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017, says the group arrived at their camp site at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“I just grabbed a group of people really fast and just said, ‘You know what? We can’t wait no more,'” she said.

The group, which is receiving support from the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, has lit a sacred fire and there’s continuous prayer.

“What we’re doing right now is just holding space,” McManus said.

A farmer has told them they are near a firing range where people shoot toward the encampment, but they aren’t moving, McManus said: “They’re going to have to drag me off here and I don’t know how they’re going to be able to do that.”

The land they are on is Crown land and Indigenous land, she says, and Indigenous people have been given the task of protecting the part of the world they call Turtle Island.

“The earth that I walk on right here, this is my mother. I love her, I respect her and I’m going to protect her in any way that I have to,” McManus said.

The government needs to stop dealing with corporations that are destroying the water and the earth, McManus says.

“Politicians are pushing it through for the sake of money,” she said.

“What are we going to do with all that money when we have no more clean water, when Mother Earth is so polluted from these spills and all these leaks in these pipelines?”

Indigenous people fighting to protect the land have allies of every nationality, McManus says.

“We just all, as Canadians, need to get in front of this line,” she said.

[SOURCE]

Calls for Child Welfare overhaul filter into Sask. after Tina Fontaine’s death in Man.

Manitoba’s child welfare system has been criticized since Tina Fontaine’s body was found in the Red River in 2014. (CBC)

81% of 5,000 children in care in Sask. are Indigenous

As the death of Tina Fontaine leads to calls for an overhaul of the child welfare system in Manitoba, a similar push is gaining momentum in Saskatchewan.

On Aug 17, 2014, Fontaine was found dead in Winnipeg’s Red River. Fontaine was originally from Sagkeeng First Nation, but had been in the care of Manitoba’s child welfare system at the time of her death.

Calls for drastic change in Manitoba’s child welfare system have been consistent and loud since Fontaine’s body was discovered. In Saskatchewan, similar whispers are getting louder.

There are approximately 5,000 children in care in Saskatchewan, and about 4,000 of them are Indigenous.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has been in talks with the Ministry of Social Services in Saskatchewan since October — when Second Vice-Chief David Pratt was elected to improve the situation for young Indigenous people in the care of the province. The collaboration is in its infancy, according to Pratt.

David Pratt is the second vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and manages the child welfare file. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC News)

“There’s a lot of receiving homes open in Saskatchewan and we want greater accountability in terms of what’s going on in those homes, who’s staffing those homes, if there’s any cultural component happening in those homes,” he said.

“I think we need to work together as partners.”

Pratt has been encouraged by the readiness of federal ministers Jane Philpott, of Indigenous Services, and Carolyn Bennett, of Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, to focus on prevention of children having to go into care, rather than band-aid solutions.

But Pratt said the province has some work to do.

‘Here in Saskatchewan, we have a lot of work to get done.’ – FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt on Saskatchewan’s child welfare system

“A lot of times the government comes to us with the jurisdictional song and dance. We know the constitution. We know what Section 91 states, that responsibility [for] Indians falls under the federal government. But we’ve got to look at what regions like Ontario are doing.”

In Ontario, federal and provincial governments work with Ontario Chiefs as a tripartite to work toward better outcomes for children in care.

“In Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq actually helped draft the child welfare legislation. Why can’t we do that in Saskatchewan? Let’s open up that legislation.”

Pratt believes that groups like the FSIN have solutions, if only various levels of government would listen.

Recognizing trauma, heritage

Part of improving outcomes for Indigenous children who are unable to live with their parents is connecting them with their home communities.

“Nine hundred of these children are not registered with their community, so we’d like to work as partners with the ministry to get them back registered,” said Pratt

“It’ll help them with their identity. Learning who they are is part of a healthy young individual.”

A young Indigenous person’s identity, though, can often involve a history linked to residential schools and intergenerational trauma, and the necessity of navigating colonial systems.

“Our treaty partners in Saskatchewan, non-Indigenous people, need to realize our history and that we’re not going to find solutions unless we work together on them,” said Pratt.

Within the province’s social services, there has been a conscious shift over the past few years to be more sensitive to the needs of young Indigenous people, and to connect them with their First Nations and families

Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on Aug. 17, 2014. It was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks. (Tina Fontaine/Facebook)

“For many Indigenous families we work with, they might identify elders, community leaders, or agencies like community-based organizations that are Indigenous-run, or they might identify their home First Nation, so we’d connect with them in developing the case plan,” said Tobie Eberhardt, executive director of community services at the Ministry of Social Services.

“It would be around the family identifying what their needs are, who they would see as their natural supports.”

Every child is also subject to a strength and needs assessment when they come to the ministry for help.

Most often, children are then placed with a family member, or at the very least, with someone familiar to them.

“Sixty per cent of children in Saskatchewan are placed with extended family, or significant people in their lives,” said Eberhardt.

CBC News Posted: Feb 26, 2018

[SOURCE]

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

[SOURCE]

Families Unsure Whether To Take Part In Missing Indigenous Women Inquiry

Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (CBC)

Manitoba coalition for MMIW families hosted meeting to talk over inquiry in Winnipeg on Saturday

  • Staff | The Canadian Press Posted: May 14, 2017

Some families of missing and murdered Indigenous women remain uncertain if they should take part in a national inquiry aimed at examining the violence in their communities, according to a group representing them.

Representatives of the Manitoba Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Coalition said a meeting Saturday to talk over the responses from inquiry staff to major questions have failed to produce clear answers.

The group has raised concerns about the inquiry process and how traumatized families and survivors will be treated.

Coalition co-chair Hilda Anderson-Pyrz said these people need to be confident that it will be worthwhile for them to get involved.

“They need to give reassurance their voices will be heard in a good way and a meaningful way,” Anderson-Pyrz said following the four-hour-long, closed-door meeting in Winnipeg’s North End.

A major worry among the families is that the inquiry, announced by the federal government in December 2015, will be conducted within a framework that doesn’t account for Indigenous ways and traditions, said Sandra DeLaronde, also a coalition co-chair.

“If we let the inquiry go on its own, it will completely be in a legal tradition,” said DeLaronde. “It’s the only chance we’re going to get, and if it’s not done right, we’ve lost the opportunity.”

‘We’re still in the dark’

More than 30 people attended the meeting, according to attendee Sue Caribou, who has seen several of her relatives murdered and others go missing.

“We’re still in the dark,” Caribou said.

The coalition sent 43 questions to inquiry officials after an earlier meeting with the inquiry’s commissioners in Winnipeg.

That meeting came a few weeks after the inquiry postponed a series of regional advisory meetings supposed to help determine what issues should be covered when formal hearings get underway.

A copy of the questions and responses was supplied to The Canadian Press by people who attended Saturday’s meeting.

One question was whether the inquiry’s five commissioners and staff will receive “trauma informed” training. No one from the inquiry’s “health team” at the May 4 meeting assisted a family member who broke down and left, the coalition said in the document.

The coalition also asked how the inquiry will reach families and survivors in Canada’s isolated or northern communities and those who don’t use social media.

Inquiry officials responded that commissioners, directors and most of the staff will be trained in June 2017. They responded the inquiry is still working on an outreach strategy which may include “posters, podcasts on local radio stations.”

The inquiry is to complete its work and wrap up by December 2018, and the document says it is planning to do its work within the existing timeframe and budget.

Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said the inquiry might need longer than its current timeline to do the job in a meaningful way. (CBC)

Sheila North Wilson, the grand chief of an organization advocating for northern Manitoba First Nations, said it may not be enough time to get the job done in a meaningful way.

“The biggest need, immediately, that I see is we need to provide better resources and opportunities for our women and girls and families because ultimately that’s what leads to what happens,” she said.

“Women become vulnerable, people that take advantage of vulnerability have their way and then become victims of this issue.”

[SOURCE]

Enbridge Setting Stage For Big Project

Pipes are being stacked at Enbridge’s “storage” area located roughly 2 1/2 miles east of Morden on the south side of Highway 14

Written by Pam Fedack | PembinaValleyOnline.com, May 10, 2017

Enbridge is getting set for a major project that will snake its way through Southern Manitoba, and activity has been well observed in the Winkler and Morden area.

Over the last several weeks, pipes have been moving into the area by the truck and trainload to a storage site along the corridor between the two communities on the south side of Highway 3.

enbridge trains

Train cars parked in Winkler with Enbridge pipes side of Highway 3.

Enbridge Spokesperson, Suzanne Wilton said the company plans to replace their entire 1,600 kilometre main line, (Line 3) which runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. Wilton noted replacing the pipeline will make it safer and restore it to its full capacity.

Wilton said they have storage sites like the one between Winkler and Morden at various locations right across the entire length of the pipeline.  She said these storage sites allow them to mobilize and put pipe in storage so that’s it’s ready for when they need it.  “Pipe is the longest item of lead time, and so we procur the material well in advance, have it engineered and ready so that when we actually need it, we can fully mobilize.”

Enbridge received approval in Canada late last year to undertake this project, and Wilton said they are currently in the pre-construction phase.  “Of course all of this is pending U.S. regularatory approval,” said Wilton. “But given the long lead time of the project we’re now beginning some of those activies that’ll be required that when we do go into contruction, we’re ready.”

Wilton said the new Line 3 pipline is not scheduled into service until 2019.  She said they may start some construction sometime this summer, primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  “This is just providing us plenty of lead time.  That pipe will stay in storage until we actually need to move it onto the right of way in the construction phase.”

Line 3, comes through Manitoba south of Brandon, runs down through the Morden area, and ultimately crosses the into the U.S. at Gretna.

[SOURCE]

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Principal After Violent Death: Drugs and Gangs ‘Killing Our Youth’

Views of Sagkeeng First Nation which sits on the north and south shore of the Winnipeg River near Pine Falls Manitoba. Dec 19, 2014 Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

  • Staff | CP – Apr 26, 2017

SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, Man. — The killing of a 19-year-old high school student and a graphic video believed to be linked to the death has shocked a small Manitoba First Nation that has seen more than its share of tragedy.

RCMP said Wednesday they were reviewing the video circulating on social media to determine whether it was indeed connected to the death on the Sagkeeng reserve, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

They also said they had arrested two girls, 16 and 17 years old, on charges of second-degree murder.

RCMP would not identify the victim, but community members said she was Serena McKay. The two accused cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

All three were students at the Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, said principal Claude Guimond.

“We’re not a very big school. We only have about 220 students here … and all three of the students in the video, I know them personally and it was hard to take,” Guimond said.

“Tuesday we had a healing ceremony for our students and staff … and one of the recurring things that came out was how social media — Facebook, you know — made things even worse by people reposting the video.”

The video shows a young woman lying bloodied on the ground and barely conscious as she is repeatedly kicked and punched in the head. It appears to have been taken on a cellphone. Female and male voices can be heard.

McKay is the woman being attacked in the video, Guimond said.

RCMP would only say the victim’s body was found Sunday night, near a home in Sagkeeng, about two hours after she was reported missing to the detachment in the neighbouring town of Powerview.

Counsellors were brought in this week to help students and staff at the school deal with the death. A vigil was planned for the community on Thursday evening.

Sagkeeng, a community of some 3,000 residents, was also the home of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg in 2014. She had left Sagkeeng just two months earlier. Her father, Eugene Fontaine, was beaten to death on the reserve three years earlier.

The small community has seen several other cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, including 17-year-old Fonessa Bruyere, who was killed in Winnipeg in 2007.

Guimond said gang activity and drug use have encroached on the community from the city.

“Over the last 10 years, what I’ve noticed is that more and more of the gang influence is filtering on to the reserve from Winnipeg,” Guimond said.

“With gang activity comes drug trafficking and stuff like that, and that’s what’s killing our youth here.”

Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said everyone is trying to come to terms with the latest death.

“It’s been tragic and it’s pretty sombre right now.”

By Steve Lambert in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Video Linked to Serena McKay Homicide Needs to Be Pulled Off Facebook, Chief Says

The body of Serena McKay, 19, was found Sunday evening in Sagkeeng First Nation. Two teenage girls have been arrested and charged in her death. (Del Daniels/Facebook)

2 teenage girls from Sagkeeng First Nation charged with 2nd-degree murder in McKay’s death

CBC News Posted: Apr 26, 2017

The chief of Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation wants the video of a vicious attack on a young woman — some say the same woman later found dead in the community — pulled off Facebook.

The body of the woman believed to be the victim in the video, 19-year-old Serena McKay, was found Sunday night near a home in the community 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

The video is disturbing and its continued existence is extremely difficult for McKay’s mom, who hasn’t even seen her daughter’s body yet, said Chief Derrick Henderson.

Serena McKay

“I know the mom personally. It’s very hard for her,” he said, adding he hopes she will see her daughter on Wednesday and then funeral arrangements will be made.

“Today’s going to be a tough day for her,” he said.

Two teenage girls from the community have been charged with second-degree murder in McKay’s death. The girls, aged 16 and 17, cannot be identified due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Both are being held in custody.

​All three went to Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, but McKay lived in the neighbouring community of Powerview-Pine Falls.

The video, which has been shared many times on Facebook, shows a girl being beaten but doesn’t clearly identify anyone.

“I’ve asked Facebook and I’ve asked the major crimes unit to get that video removed, whatever it takes,” Henderson said. “I mean that’s part of the investigation again, right? It’s evidence.

“It’s pretty hard once it gets out there, I guess. But there must be some mechanism there available.”

RCMP are aware of the video, but a spokesperson would not confirm whether the person being attacked is McKay. Sgt. Paul Manaigre said officers are reviewing the video to determine if it is relevant to their investigation.

He also said the video is being passed around via Facebook Messenger, which means it cannot be controlled by Facebook but only by those sharing it.

Henderson hopes the homicide sparks a conversation that starts to bring changes to Sagkeeng.

​”It’s devastating for everybody. Even me, as a leader, it’s so hard to stomach, but we have to continue and move forward and try to make it a better place for our people,” he said.

“I’m not sure what the circumstances are of what happened but I know a lot of it can be related to lots of factors like addictions. I know that’s an issue in my community, it’s an issue everywhere, and we need to deal with those things.”

Henderson also wants to see parents held more accountable for keeping an eye on their children.

“They need to be more responsible towards their children: ‘Where are you? Why are you not home?’ Things like that,” he said. “Where’s the moms and dads?”

Henderson plans to speak about those issues at a vigil for McKay planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. in Sagkeeng.

McKay was last seen by a family friend on Saturday evening and was reported missing to Powerview RCMP on Sunday around 6 p.m.

As officers searched the area, they received a call two hours later — around 8 p.m. — that her body had been found.

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Women Demand Stronger Provincial Support For National Inquiry

The Urban Warrior Alliance camps outside the legislature to protest the delays in the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry Tuesday. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Urban Warrior Alliance camps outside the legislature to protest the delays in the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry Tuesday. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Free Press, By: Alexandra Paul Posted: 07/26/2016

A group of indigenous women camping at the legislature wants to know whether Manitoba supports a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

“Our understanding is the government is holding up the inquiry over the terms of reference and over semantics. So what’s going on? The families are waiting,” said Chelsea Cardinal, one of two women at the camp Tuesday.

There were three tents set up on the legislature’s front lawn; a similar tent camp two years ago also called for a national inquiry, before Ottawa signed on to it.

The group is expected to take turns, holding down the camp, where a fire for prayers was lit Monday evening, over the next four days and nights.

The latest camp comes after a week or more of mixed signals and growing frustration among indigenous advocates in and outside Manitoba that the inquiry is being held up.

The national inquiry will look at the estimated 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, including more than 100 who are from Manitoba.

Prior to the premiers’ meeting last weekend in Whitehorse, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett attempted to settle public concerns after a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry was leaked. She assured advocates that policing and child welfare issues, both systemic issues, would form a big part of the mandate.

Aboriginal leaders and premiers also added their oar to calm the waters by stating there was no need to wait for an inquiry to get to work on the socio-economic issues behind the problem, another issue indigenous advocates and families have repeatedly raised.

And late Tuesday, in response to word the camp had been set up, Manitoba waded in to break through the continued confusion with an unequivocal statement of support for the national inquiry.

“Manitoba’s new government intends to move forward with an order in council in support of the federal government’s establishment of a national inquiry. We will do this in a timely manner as we continue to work with our federal and provincial partners to finalize the draft terms of reference,” Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said in an email to the Free Press.

The statement raised one of the major points of confusion, that the terms of reference were an issue still to be worked out with Ottawa. Stephanson’s statement did not go into details.

The concern with the Pallister government is Manitoba may try to delay the national inquiry, or at the very least pare down it’s scope, to leave out systemic issues such as the child welfare and policing, women at the legislature camp said.

The camp’s concerns echo the province’s First Nations and indigenous leaders who met a week ago with the provincial ministers for justice and indigenous and municipal affairs and issued public statements urging the province to sign on to the inquiry.

NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP government’s former adviser on missing and murdered indigenous women’s issues, told the women Tuesday their presence reminds the province it owes the public an explanation on where it stands.

“You cannot just do the work and not advise the families of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls on what you’re doing,” Fontaine said.

The federal Liberals made the national inquiry, something former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper opposed, a major election promise.

But since Justin Trudeau became prime minister, headway in Ottawa appears to be meeting headwinds in Manitoba by the Conservatives under Premier Brian Pallister, the women at the camp said.

They cited Leslie Spillett’s removal from the Winnipeg Police Board this month as a jolt, especially since the respected indigenous advocate hadn’t been given the courtesy of a phone call before the announcement was made public.

“What is going to be happening next? We took a few steps forward with the national inquiry happening. Now it’s being held up again. To us, it seems like tactics,” Sandy Banman said.

Fontaine told the women to expect an announcement from Ottawa as early as next week on the start of the national inquiry.

The most recent media reports noted the province wanted a commissioner from Manitoba named to the inquiry and they had questions over the inquiry’s terms of reference.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Alexandra Paul   .

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/indigenous-women-demand-stronger-provincial-support-for-national-inquiry-388321392.html

Protesters Accuse Manitoba Government Of Stalling MMIW Inquiry

mmiq

MMIW camp-out at the Manitoba Legislature

Role police, CFS play in MMIW cases must be examined in national inquiry, protesters say

CBC News Posted: Jul 26, 2016

About half a dozen tents were set up outside the Manitoba Legislative Building by protesters who say the province is keeping a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women from getting underway.

Last week, Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government said it is moving forward with an order in council in support of the inquiry, but officials are still in negotiations with the federal government over the terms of reference.

“Now that the inquiry has been called, it feels like Manitoba is stalling. We seem to be the ones holding everything up, and that’s not OK,” Sandy Banman, one of the protesters, said Tuesday.

About half a dozen tents are set up on the Manitoba Legislative Building grounds by a group saying the province is delaying the start of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. (CBC)

About half a dozen tents are set up on the Manitoba Legislative Building grounds by a group saying the province is delaying the start of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. (CBC)

On July 14, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson told CBC’s Power & Politics that she was concerned there hadn’t been enough consultation and the province, which counts one of the largest Indigenous populations in the country, wanted the federal government to appoint a commissioner from Manitoba.

The protestors said they are concerned the draft terms of reference for the inquiry reveal that a thorough review of police conduct is not part of the agenda.

Protester Sandy Banman says the Manitoba government is stalling the inquiry. (CBC)

Protester Sandy Banman says the Manitoba government is stalling the inquiry. (CBC)

“They’re trying to say that police and [Child and Family Services] will not be held accountable or will not be part of the inquiry,” Banman said. “Those things are off the table. We’re here to say we don’t want them off the table. That’s very, very important.”

The inquiry’s mandate isn’t expected to include the option of recommending that police reopen cold cases, and Banman said that’s “very disturbing.”

“There’s families hurting, like really hurting, in this camp,” she said. “We have individuals who are directly affected. All of the family members we’ve spoken to say that this is outrageous; like, families need closure.”

The group is staying on the Legislative Building grounds for four days and four nights and may stay longer.

The group is staying on the Legislative Building grounds for four days and four nights and may stay longer.

A sacred fire was lit to start the protest on Monday night while about 35 people watched.

Banman said the group is staying there for four days and four nights — a reference to the four quadrants on the medicine wheel and the seasons — and they are considering staying longer.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/mmiw-campout-protest-manitoba-legislature-1.3695663