Trans Mountain CEO says pipe construction could restart in 2019 on NEB timeline

CALGARY — The president and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp. says its sidelined pipeline project could be back on track by next year under a new National Energy Board hearing schedule, setting it up for a possible 2022 opening date.

The timeline unveiled by the federal pipeline regulator on Wednesday is “reasonable and fair,” said Ian Anderson, the former CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada who became head of the resulting Crown corporation when Ottawa closed its $4.5-billion purchase of the pipeline and its expansion project in early September.

He told reporters in Calgary it’s possible construction that was halted when the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the expansion project’s NEB approval in late August could be restarted in 2019.

“Sure, it’s possible,” he said. “If things go according to the timeline that’s been now started with the NEB and they have a recommendation by the middle of February and the government takes a few months for additional consultation, an order-in-council could be as early as next summer.”

He added construction is expected to take about 30 months, depending upon seasonal adjustments, which would mean the pipeline could be operational in 2022, about two years later than the most recent predicted in-service date.

The federal government approved the Trans Mountain expansion project in November 2016, following a recommendation by the NEB.

But the court cited insufficient consultation with Indigenous communities and a failure to assess the environmental impact of additional oil-tanker traffic in overturning that ruling.

Last week, the federal government ordered the NEB to go back and conduct a review of tanker traffic, paying special attention to the affect on killer whales, and issue its report no later than Feb. 22.

Environmentalists were quick to criticize the NEB’s schedule, which calls for public comments by next Wednesday on draft factors for the environmental assessment, the draft list of issues to be considered in the hearing and on the design of the hearing process itself.

Indigenous groups who are affected by the marine shipping issues but weren’t allowed to engage in the previous NEB process because of scope limits might have a difficult time preparing submissions in time, said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.

“Indigenous consultations are inextricably intertwined with review of marine impacts — orcas have important cultural significance — so charging ahead on this before sorting out the Indigenous consultation piece seems like a mistake,” he added.

Furthermore, the process is tainted by the fact that the government insists the project it now owns will be built no matter what, Stewart said.

The expansion will include a new pipeline running roughly parallel to the existing, 1,150-kilometre line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

It will nearly triple the capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

The NEB named Lyne Mercier, Alison Scott and Murray Lytle to the panel that will conduct its reconsideration of the project.

The Canadian Press




Ottawa Must Act to Address Indigenous Suicide in Canada: Committee

MaryAnn Mihychuk, chair of the House of Commons standing committee on Indigenous and Northern affairs, speaks in Ottawa on Monday regarding the committee’s report on Indigenous suicide. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

  • Staff| The Globe and Mail, Jun. 19, 2017

A long history of misguided federal policies has fuelled repeated suicide crises in Canada’s Indigenous communities and urgent government action is needed to address the root causes, which include inadequate health care, housing, infrastructure and economic development, says a unanimous report by politicians of all stripes.

The Indigenous Affairs committee, which spent more than a year studying the problem of suicide among Canada’s first peoples and released its report on Monday, found that the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, forced relocations of communities and racism on the part of health-care workers, teachers and social-service agents all contributed to the problem.

The committee’s 28 broad-ranging recommendations include calls for the federal government to dramatically overhaul the delivery of child welfare, and to fully implement what is known as Jordan’s Principle, which says native children should receive the same quality of health care as is provided to other children in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found last year that the discriminatory policies of the Indigenous Affairs department have led to chronic underfunding of welfare on reserves and have allowed jurisdictional issues to interfere with the provision of adequate health services, including mental-health services.

“We need to send a message to Indigenous Canadians and especially to young Indigenous people that their lives have value, and to hold on to hope,” said committee chair MaryAnn Mihychuk, a Liberal MP and a former cabinet minister in the Trudeau government.

“We recognize,” Ms. Mihychuk said, “that they are losing hope because they have difficult lives and are suffering from intergenerational trauma as the result of decades of unjust policies, and that we must act together.”

A study released last year by the First Nations Information Governance Centre found that between 2008 and 2010, 22 per cent of adult First Nations people in Canada contemplated suicide. That compared with 9 per cent of the general population. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading cause of death for First Nations people under the age of 45. And the suicide rate for First Nations male youth is five times the national average.

Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who is a member of the committee, told reporters that the testimony given by the 100 witnesses was some of the most disturbing she has heard as an MP. “As a committee, we thought to do justice to all those very tragic stories,” she said. “I only wish that we had some quick easy fixes but, clearly, there aren’t quick easy fixes.”

Last week, 12-year-old Jenera Roundsky of the Wapekeka First Nation in northwestern Ontario texted “goodbye” to a friend then took her own life at the community’s outdoor hockey rink. She had been in the care of social services since two other girls from the same community killed themselves in January. Her father died by suicide in 2011.

The wide scope of the committee’s recommendations reflects the complexity of mental-health issues and the fact that there is no single solution to the high rate of suicide in Indigenous communities, Ms. Mihychuk said.

Among other things, the report calls for more investment in housing, better access to education including the establishment of a university in the North, more employment opportunities, enhanced suicide strategies and improved mental-health services in Indigenous communities. In most cases, it recommends that government provides funding to allow the Indigenous communities to meet their own needs and find their own solutions.

Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society who launched the CHRT case against the government, said the tribunal noted in January that First Nations youth in Ontario are denied mental-health services that are provided to all other children.

“In worldwide research, we know that inequity is linked to a much higher risk for suicide in two ways,” Dr. Blackstock said. “One is that it creates a lot of hardship for youth so they are more likely to have suicidal ideation and die of suicide. And the second thing is that, for those kids who are feeling suicidal ideation, there’s inequitable services to meet that need.”


RCMP Defends Use Of Secretive Cellphone Surveillance Technology For The First Time

RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam confirmed Wednesday that the national police force is using cellphone-tracking devices known as IMSI catchers. (Patrick Doyle/The Toronto Star)

Unprecedented briefing with reporters comes in wake of CBC investigation into illegal spying in Ottawa

CBC News Posted: Apr 05, 2017

The RCMP for the first time is publicly confirming it uses cellphone surveillance devices in investigations across Canada — but at the same time says the potential of unauthorized snooping in Ottawa, as reported by CBC News, poses a threat to national security.

“Absolutely,” RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam, who is in charge of technical investigations services, said in an unprecedented technical briefing Wednesday with reporters from CBC News, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

The RCMP held the briefing in the wake of a CBC News investigation that found evidence that devices known as IMSI catchers may be in use near government buildings in Ottawa for the purpose of illegal spying.

‘It is publicly known there is equipment out there that is not limited in its capturing of communications between devices.’– RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam

“Not everyone uses the equipment in the way the RCMP does,” Adam said. “It is publicly known there is equipment out there that is not limited in its capturing of communications between devices. And so it’s a security risk when it is used in proximity to government and/or any other commercial enterprises.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday the devices detected did not belong to any Canadian police or intelligence agency.

The RCMP and CSIS are now investigating.

But on Wednesday, after shrouding their own use of the technology in secrecy for years, the RCMP took the unprecedented step of speaking publicly about the devices — also known as Stingrays or Mobile Device Identifiers (MDIs) — to address public concern amidst mounting questions about their use.

Other police forces have them, too

The RCMP says that MDIs — of which it owns 10 — have become “vital tools” deployed scores of times to identify and track mobile devices in 19 criminal investigations last year and another 24 in 2015.

He says in all cases but one in 2016, police got warrants. The one exception was an exigent circumstance — in other words, an emergency scenario “such as a a kidnapping,” said Adam.

“This technology is a vital tool in providing valuable assistance to criminal investigations,” Adam said, adding some recent media reporting has misstated how police use MDIs and what the technology can actually do.

An IMSI catcher pretends to be a cellphone tower to attract nearby cell signals. When it does, it can intercept the unique ID number associated with your phone, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, or IMSI. That number can then be used to track your phone. (CBC)

He says using an MDI requires senior police approval as well as getting a judge’s order. And he says the technology provides only a first step in an investigation allowing officers to  to identify a device.

He says only then can police apply for additional warrants to obtain a user’s “basic subscriber information” such as name and address connected to the phone. Then, he says, only if the phone and suspect are targets of the investigation can police seek additional warrants to track the device or conduct a wiretap to capture communications.

Adam says the RCMP currently has 24 technicians trained and authorized to deploy the devices across Canada. He knows other police forces own and use them too, but declined to name them.

RCMP ‘does not collect’ texts, emails, calls

He said the RCMP’s devices are restricted in their use, with software that only allows them to identify a mobile device and to potentially track the location of that phone.

“What the RCMP technology does not do is collect private communication,” Adam said. “In other words, it does not collect voice and audio communications, email messages, text messages, contact lists, images, encryption keys or basic subscriber information.”

There do exist interception tools that allow eavesdropping on phone calls and direct interception of digital messages but Adam said the RCMP does not own them or use them.

He said anyone operating in Canada without a proper licence or judge’s authorization would be breaking section 191.1 of the Criminal Code that prohibits possession of these kinds of interception devices. He also said it would be a violation of the Radiocommunications Act.

RCMP lacked proper approval

Adam conceded that until two months ago the RCMP itself failed to get express approval from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada) to use MDIs.

He said police have almost always sought a warrant, though he noted a few exceptions.

He said in recent years the law has changed to catch up with emerging technologies.

Police used to apply for a general warrant to get court approval to use the cellphone trackers. Then, he said, there was a period of approximately four months when the RCMP, acting on advice from the Department of Justice, didn’t seek a warrant at all.

Today, he said, the RCMP apply for a new kind of warrant called a Transmission Data Recorder Warrant (TDRW).

Innocent users’ data

IMSI catchers have been highly controversial for fear that hundreds of innocent device users can be swept up in the collection of cellular data.

Adam said all data collected is strictly protected, isolated and reported to judges, preserved until it is no longer needed and then destroyed.

A special cellphone made by ESD America and purchased by CBC and Radio-Canada that can detect when an IMSI catcher is trying to intercept it. (CBC)

“The data, once it is seized lawfully to the judge, will be secured and locked up for criminal court purposes. It will not be accessed other than the target information,” Adam said.

He said the RCMP has been fully co-operating with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, which has been investigating police use of cellphone-tracking equipment in Canada.

He also said police are very aware that cell MDIs can potentially disrupt mobile users’ signals and even, in older phones, interfere with the ability to dial 911.

Adam said the RCMP has developed protocols to ensure the MDIs — which essentially highjack all cellular signals in a given area — are only used for a few minutes at a time to limit potential disruption for users.

He said that while his office is tracking the numbers of warrants and applications, currently the law requiring police to report to Parliament on interception techniques does not expressly require them to detail how many times they use cellphone-catching technology.

“We’re not averse to reporting, to a degree, on the number of times this technology is used, but there is as of yet no requirement to do so,” Adam said.

By Dave Seglins, Matthew Braga, Catherine Cullen, CBC News

Indigenous People Impacted By Sixties Scoop Finally Getting Day In Court

"I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture," says Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff.

“I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture,” says Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff.

Ottawa has fought unprecedented class action every step of the way

The Canadian Press, Aug 22, 2016

Thousands of Indigenous people who argue the federal government robbed them of their cultural identities finally get their day in court this week but will have to wait months for Canada to make its case in the unprecedented class action Ottawa has fought every step of the way.

The plaintiffs and supporters from all over Ontario are expected to rally at the courthouse on Tuesday as their lawyers press for summary judgment in the legal battle started in February 2009.

The lawsuit turns on a federal-provincial arrangement — called the Sixties Scoop — in which Ontario child welfare services placed as many as 16,000 Indigenous children with non-native families from December 1965 to December 1984.

Their unproven claim alleges the children suffered a devastating loss of cultural identity that Canada negligently failed to protect. The children, the suit states, suffered emotional, psychological and spiritual harm from the lost connection to their Aboriginal heritage. They want $1.3 billion in various damages — $85,000 for each affected person.

“This is the first case in the western world (about) whether a state government has an obligation to take steps to protect and preserve the cultural identity of its Indigenous people,” said Jeffery Wilson, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment to be heard Tuesday essentially calls on Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba to decide the case based on the evidence the court already has without the need for a full trial.

Canada has previously tried to have the case thrown out as futile. Among other things, Ottawa argues it was acting in the best interests of the children and within the social norms of the day. However, Divisional Court ruled in December 2014 that the plaintiffs deserved a chance to argue the merits of their position at trial.

“It is difficult to see a specific interest that could be of more importance to Aboriginal peoples than each person’s essential connection to their Aboriginal heritage,” the three-justice panel concluded.

In early March, the courts ruled the action should proceed over two weeks, starting Aug. 23. However, much to the chagrin of the plaintiffs, the government late last month asked for a delay, saying it needed more time to come up with experts to counter the claims. The court refused.

‘I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture.’– Marcia Brown Martel

But with buses ordered and courthouse rallies planned for Tuesday, the prospect of more government appeals and delays prompted the plaintiffs to agree to the one-day hearing. In exchange, the government since filed thousands of pages of materials, but has until November to file expert evidence. The hearing is slated to resume for two days on Dec. 1.

Wilson said he hoped the hiatus would allow for a negotiated settlement — a tack the Liberal government now appears to favour. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said last week she would like to see the case discussed at the table rather than in court.

The Ontario case differs from scoop lawsuits in several other provinces in that it does not take legal issue with the placement of Indian children in non-Aboriginal homes because it was done under court orders in the best interests of the child.

In addition, Ontario was the only province to sign a formal agreement with Ottawa to take over the protection and adoption of First Nations children. The case turns on a single provision the plaintiffs say essentially required the federal government to consult Indian bands and maintain oversight of the children’s welfare.

“I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture,” Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff in the Ontario case, told The Canadian Press. “This should never have happened. It was wrong.”

Martel, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., was taken by child welfare officials and adopted by a non-native family as a child. She later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

Last week, five Aboriginal leaders wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge his government to settle, and admit the “immense wrong” done the scoop children.

“This moment is an opportunity for Canada to put an ugly legacy behind us,” the letter states.


Ottawa Releases Pre-Inquiry Report On MMIW



The federal government has quietly released a series of recommendations from its pre-inquiry consultations with friends and family of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The report was release late Friday with no press release.

According to the report, there were 17 meetings involving 2,000 friends and family across the country, with Indigenous organizations, provincial and territorial leaders, Indigenous leaders, scholars and legal experts.

The government also accepted comments via an online forum and survey.

“The face-to-face meetings provided the government a chance to hear directly from survivors, and families and loved ones of murdered or missing women and girls,” according to the report posted online. “Participants were provided with cultural, spiritual and religious support. Elders were also on hand to provide ceremony and counsel. Also, health support workers were available to provide additional cultural and emotional support.”

According to the report, the government heard:

The leadership should represent Indigenous communities and regions. It should also have a timetable that is sensitive to the needs of survivors, families and loved ones. Efforts must be made to avoid a long, drawn-out and legal process.

The inquiry should include as many individuals and organizations as possible including survivors, families and loved ones, national Indigenous organizations, front-line workers, and Indigenous community leaders and organizations.

It should also respect different points of view.

The inquiry should take a broad approach to its analysis of the issues. It should look at the economic, cultural, political and social causes of violence against women, girls and trans and two-spirit people.

It should also look at the causes of unequal and unjust treatment of Indigenous women, girls and trans and two-spirit people and recommend solutions to the causes of violence.

The inquiry should provide a variety of cultural, spiritual and religious supports and ceremonies. The ceremonies should reflect the diversity of all participants and regions and be supported by elders.

As well, it will be critical to have professional mental health counselling and community-based health supports. Professional and culturally-sensitive counselling will be needed if the inquiry is to be effective and avoid causing further trauma.

What isn’t clear is when the inquiry will start. When it was announced, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said she wanted it officially announced before the House of Commons recessed for the summer.

That is towards the end of June.

Ottawa Used Technicality To Disqualify 1,000 Residential-School Claims

A group of students and a nun pose in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

A group of students and a nun pose in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

The Globe and Mail, Feb. 02, 2016

The federal government used a technical argument to disqualify an estimated 1,000 claims for compensation made by indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in the agreement negotiated to award them for their suffering.

It is a move that the people who signed the deal on behalf of former students denounce as a cash-saving measure by Ottawa – one that has created unequal restitution for survivors, depending upon the date they filed their claims and the location on the school grounds where the assaults occurred.

“The government should reverse this unfair decision and agree to pay compensation to these people,” said Phil Fontaine, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is himself a residential-school survivor and who launched the efforts to obtain redress.

Residential schools, which were varying combinations of boarding facilities and educational institutions, were established in the 1800s and run by churches. Ottawa made attendance compulsory for indigenous children in a massive program aimed at assimilation.

Faced with complaints during the 1950s and 60s about the quality of education being delivered, the federal government took over the operation of about 58 of the actual schools, leaving only the residences under the control of the religious orders. This is known as the “administrative split.”

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement between the government, the churches and the school survivors was implemented in 2007. Many of those who were abused gave up their right to sue the government in return for being able to participate in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created, as part of that agreement, to determine how much compensation they deserved. For three years, the issue of the administrative split was not raised at IAP hearings.

Then, in late 2010, Justice Department lawyers began arguing that schools listed in the settlement agreement ceased to be residential schools at the time the administrative split took place – and that any student who was abused after that point should be disqualified from receiving compensation unless the abuse occurred within the church-run residences. If a child was sexually or physically abused in a classroom, in a gym, or on a playground, the government lawyers argued, he or she should not receive payment for his or her suffering.

While some IAP adjudicators vehemently disagreed with the government’s position, others started dismissing claims based on the administrative split. Those that were denied were returned to Daniel Shapiro, the chief adjudicator of the IAP, for review, and they sat there, some for several years, without resolution.

In April of last year, Rosemary Nation, a judge of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, tossed out the appeal of a woman whose case had been rejected by the IAP on the basis of the administrative split. The unidentified claimant had attended the Grouard school, on the north shore of Lesser Slave Lake, and her arm had been broken by a nun some time after 1957 when responsibility for the school was handed from the federal government to the province, which occurred in a handful of the roughly 58 cases.

Justice Nation determined that Grouard was not a residential school when the abuse took place. And she agreed with the government – over the objections of the claimant and her lawyers – that adjudicators had the right to determine what was, and what was not, a residential school.

Once that decision was rendered, Mr. Shapiro dismissed the other claims affected by the administrative split – a number he estimated in 2014 would exceed 1,000.

That means the end of a compensation claim for people such as Murphy Powderface, who was molested by a teacher at the Morley school in Alberta in the 1960s. “After I got denied again, I got more depressed,” said Mr. Powderface, who said he has made several suicide attempts as a result of the abuse. “It still affects me.”

Mr. Shapiro said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that his adjudicators are bound by the Alberta decision.

“Our adjudicators are independent from Canada and other parties in the [agreement], and are very diligent in assessing all of the submissions and evidence brought before them in hearings under the IAP,” wrote Mr. Shapiro. “I believe that all claims are dealt with in a fair and impartial manner.”

Still, chiefs who attended a special assembly in Gatineau, Que., in December asked Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, to call a meeting of the parties to the settlement agreement to “deal with the injustice being perpetrated against survivors affected by the illegitimate actions of the office of the chief adjudicator.”

Charlie Angus, the NDP critic for indigenous affairs, said the Independent Assessment Process is the only legal process he has heard of that was set up and administered by the defendant. “The IAP has opted to side with weasel words from government lawyers over abiding by the spirit and promise of the residential-school apology,” said Mr. Angus. “This is a travesty.”

Kathleen Mahoney, who represented the AFN during the settlement talks, said she and her fellow negotiators never intended to give IAP adjudicators the power to decide what constitutes a residential school. The eligible institutions are all spelled out in the settlement agreement, she said, and although there is a provision that allows schools to be added to the list, there is none that allows them to be taken away.

Nor did the government negotiators raise the issue of the administrative split at the time the agreement was being written, said Ms. Mahoney. “Arguably, they had that opportunity, but they would have been laughed out of the room.”

Ms. Mahoney says the unfairness of the administrative-split decision is evident on many levels.

In families where two members were abused by the same person in the same way, one has been compensated because he or she filed his or her claim before 2010, while the other, who filed his or her claim later, has received nothing, she said. And “if one was assaulted in the residence, they would get compensated. But if the other was assaulted in the classroom – same abuser, same type of abuse, same time period – they are out of luck.”

Common-experience payments, which are awarded to any former student of a residential school, regardless of whether abuse occurred, are still being paid to people whose claims under the IAP have been denied because of the administrative split – so the institutions are considered residential schools for one purpose but not the other, said Ms. Mahoney.

In addition, she said, even though Mr. Shapiro used the Grouard decision to justify throwing out all of the other claims affected by the administrative split, “Grouard is quite different on its facts” from the other cases. While Grouard was handed over to the province, most of the other schools that were split from the church-run residences continued to be run by the federal government.

Throwing out all of the administrative-split cases, said Ms. Mahoney, “does undermine and contradict the agreement, which is a massive investment in reconciliation.”

Rod Soosay, a social worker at the Samson Cree First Nation who helps abuse claimants with their applications, said he has worked with many people who have had their IAP claims denied because of the administrative split.

“One lady I am dealing with right now had her IAP hearing and totally believed she would get something. She was devastated,” said Mr. Soosay. The government, he said, “are a bunch of hypocrites. It’s like apologizing in advance for slapping you in the face.”

Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

Court Oaths On Eagle Feathers Now Permitted For Aboriginals In Ottawa

Residential school survivor Madeleine Basile holds up an eagle feather as she speaks during the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

Residential school survivor Madeleine Basile holds up an eagle feather as she speaks during the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

The Huffington Post Canada | By Jesse Ferreras, 01/26/2016

To swear on a Bible is to pledge that you’ll tell the truth in a courtroom.

But Ontario courts have found a whole new way for indigenous people to swear an oath, rather than have them do it on the text of the Christian faith.

The Ottawa Courthouse is allowing aboriginal people to swear on eagle feathers after two such items were handed over to staff in a ceremony last week, CBC News reported.

They were gifts from Greg Meekis, community justice programme coordinator at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. He provided them after one of his clients asked to swear on an eagle feather, but wasn’t able to last year.

“I was gifted with feathers during the course of my life as well,” he told the network.

“I’ve had these two, and following the teachings that we are just carriers of these sacred items, the keepers, until such time that there’s an opportunity to pass them on, I saw this opportunity to pass these two eagle feathers on to the courthouse. That way they’ll be available to our people when the time comes.”

NDP MLA Elijah Harper sits in the Manitoba legislature holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength as he delays a house debate on the Meech Lake Accord on June 19, 1990. (Photo: Wayne Glowacki/Winnipeg Free Press via CP)

NDP MLA Elijah Harper sits in the Manitoba legislature holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength as he delays a house debate on the Meech Lake Accord on June 19, 1990. (Photo: Wayne Glowacki/Winnipeg Free Press via CP)

Eagles are considered sacred figures in certain indigenous cultures, and they’re often used in important rituals and events.

Former Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, for example, held an eagle feather as he delayed discussion of the Meech Lake Accord in the provincial legislature in 1990, effectively blocking its passage.

APTN reporter Nigel Newlove said that residential school and religion have left a “sour taste” with indigenous people, and the feathers provide them with a new option.

The feathers will be kept in a case at the Ottawa Courthouse, and court operations director Jan Crozier has been instructed to open it every day to “let the spirits breathe,” the network said.

“They’ll be under lock and key, but they will be breathing every day,” she said.

truth and reconciliation

Debbie Stephens holds an eagle feather as she pauses before the start of the Walk for Reconciliation, part of the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on May 31, 2015 in Gatineau. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)

Ottawa isn’t the only city that allows people to swear on eagle feathers — any Ontario courthouse can allow witnesses to use them, if they have them.

Feathers were, for example, given to courthouses in North Bay and Brantford, Ont. in 2012, The Toronto Sun reported.

Sherry Lewis, Brantford Native Housing’s then-manager of community programs, suggested that the oath’s wording be changed to the following, for those who chose to swear on them: “This eagle feather symbolizes our direct connection to the Creator for my people and I hold it in the spirit of truth.”

Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.


Ottawa To Make MMIW Inquiry’ Announcement On Tuesday

Announcement about missing, murdered women inquiry coming Tuesday

Announcement about missing, murdered women inquiry coming Tuesday

Ottawa To Make MMIW Announcement 

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett is scheduled to make an announcement Tuesday on the subject of a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

According to CTV NewsBennett will be flanked by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Status of Women Minister Patricia Hajdu.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to address a group of First Nations leaders who have gathered in Ottawa.

Bennett said earlier last week that the government plans to launch pre-inquiry consultations, with the victims’ families and other stakeholders, in the near future.

She indicated that the consultation is vital to address core issues related to the inquiry, such as its design, the amount of commissioners, the length, the number of families involved and the terms of reference.

Bennett has said that she hopes to model the government’s approach after the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which included a consultation process.

The Liberals have promised to spend $40 million on the inquiry, which is expected to be rolled out in the spring of 2016.

Calls for a national inquiry into the issue have been growing since an RCMP review last year found that 1,181 indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing since 1980 — 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims.


Hate Crime Complaint Sent To Ottawa Police Service


(One of the notes left for Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa)

By Julien Gignac, APTN National News, 

A complaint has been filed with the hate crimes unit of the Ottawa police over notes slipped to an Ojibway woman.

Since late August, Sharon Land Fisher, who lives in a YMCA women’s shelter in Ottawa, has received two notes.

“Indians are disgusting,” says one, the other accusing her of being a “Stupid, dirty, Inian.”

Tanya Schryer, coordinator of the TRY Housing Program for Women at the YMCA, filed the complaint.

“I contacted the OPS to have them come in and provide us with a seminar, which will be mandatory for all the TRY clients to attend, in hopes for people to understand the impact that racism has.”

Schryer admitted this was the most glaring testimony of racism she has heard about while at YMCA.

“It’s right in your face.”

Land Fisher has been living in subsidized housing for two years and says these are by far the most shocking and blatant signs of racism she has experienced since she first walked through the doors.

“I cried,” she said,” because it reminded me of growing up when it was quite legal to have signs that said ‘No Indians Allowed.’”

The first note was discovered when she was in the washroom. The other note, however, was slid beneath her door.

“The first note didn’t affect me as much as the second,” she said. “Having it put under my door brought it into my space.”

Sharon Land Fisher. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Sharon Land Fisher. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Land Fisher was part of the “Sixties Scoop”, the apprehension of Indigenous children during a period between 1960 and 1985.

Initially from Wabaseemong, near Kenora, Ontario, she was adopted by an Ottawa family where she was subjected to vehement forms of racism and intolerance at a young age.

“I grew up during that time when I faced a lot of racism because I was the only dark person in that area,” she said. “I got called everything, from squaw to wagon burner, tripped and shoved in lockers.

“I didn’t actually have any friends growing up because a lot of people who weren’t racist were afraid to stand up for what they believed in,” she said. “I was very alone. It was very hard.”

Land Fisher is skeptical of certain social interactions now.

“I’ve met a lot of nice people here, I’ve made a lot of good friends,” she said. “It was hard for me because now I take a second look at everybody, asking myself, ‘Are you the one who wrote that note?’”

Land Fisher does not show the tell-tale signs of someone who experienced a hate crime – she is giddy and shares her story openly. She took to Facebook, too.

Note slipped under the door of Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Note slipped under the door of Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

“Part of it was to show this wasn’t going to hold me back,” she said. “When I was young I did. I kept a lot of pain inside, a lot of hurt, but this time no, it’s going to push me to continue spreading cultural awareness. It proves to me how much more this is needed.”

Land Fisher says many women who come to the shelter still call her “Indian,” explaining to them that she is, in fact, First Nations.

“People are not going to see my age, or my gender, they’re going to see the colour of my skin first when I walk through the door,” she said. “It’s still out there, and I’m not dirty, I’m not disgusting and I’m definitely not stupid.”

Land Fisher has been spreading cultural tolerance and sensitivity in the city since 2000. She worked as an Indigenous cultural speaker and teacher at public and private institutions for twelve years. For two years she has served as the chairperson of the Ottawa Aboriginal Parade Committee, a non-profit organization promoting Indigenous culture on National Aboriginal Day.

Indigenous People In Ottawa Want To Reclaim Thanksgiving Day, Columbus Day

Drummers perform at the first "Indigenous Resistance Day" at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre in Ottawa on Oct. 10, 2015. (CBC Ottawa)

Drummers perform at the first “Indigenous Resistance Day” at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre in Ottawa on Oct. 10, 2015. (CBC Ottawa)

CBC News

Seattle and Minneapolis renamed the American holiday Columbus Day as ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

 It’s a movement in many American jurisdictions, and now people in Ottawa’s indigenous community want to reclaim Thanksgiving Day — also known as Columbus Day in the United States — to honour the cultures that existed in the Americas long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

The Odawa Native Friendship Centre held an “Indigenous Resistance Day” on Saturday, with a potluck, film screenings, music, and discussions.

Celebrating ‘resistance and resilience’

“It started off as kind of an anti-Columbus Day, but what we wanted to do was to have more relationships and dialogue with indigenous people from across Turtle Island, across the Americas,” said Odawa president Christopher Wong.

Thanksgiving’s a traditional day for indigenous people as a celebration of harvest.’Odawa Native Friendship Centre president Christopher Wong

“People [like] our Mayan and Aztec brothers, indigenous people from up north, Cree, Ojibway, Haudenosaunee, and just get them celebrate our resistance and resilience for surviving the last 500 years together,” he added.

U.S. cities like Seattle and Minneapolis have recently renamed the American holiday Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” to recognize the indigenous people that lived in the Americas at the time of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in 1492, when he was credited for “discovering” the so-called “New World”.

That holiday falls on the same day as Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, and Wong believes it’s a good opportunity for people on both sides of the border to recognize Indigenous cultures.

“Thanksgiving’s a traditional day for indigenous people as a celebration of harvest,” Wong said. “And we wanted to reclaim the harvest aspect of it.”

Recognizing the cultures that historically thrived here before Columbus is important for Tito Medina, who’s Maya-Mestizo and originally from Guatemala.

Odawa Morgan Hare, Christopher Wong, Tito Medina

Morgan Hare (left) and Christopher Wong (middle) are part of the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. Tito Medina (right) came to Ottawa from Guatemala in 2003. (Waubgeshig Rice)

“We have over 25,000 years of building our culture,” said Medina.

Medina, his wife, and their two young daughters came to Ottawa as refugees in 2003, and soon found a home among the city’s indigenous community.

Medina regularly shares songs and stories from his culture at community events.

“We are so grateful that we developed these kinds of links, and then to learn about the situation of the First Nations people here,” he said.

‘Not about blaming each other’

Saturday’s Odawa event brought together people from different indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds. The hope was to start discussions about history and culture, in order to create a positive sense of community here in Ottawa.

“It’s not about blaming each other, but we talk about dignity, respect, love, compassion,” said Medina. “We need to know that after all these centuries, First Nations all across the continent have paid a big price in poverty, marginalization, genocide that is still happening.”

Wong believes the weekend gathering — which he hopes to make an annual event — offers the perfect opportunity to share at an important time of the year.

“Coming together as a community, reestablishing family ties and relationships, and getting ready for the winter,” he said. “In the same spirit, we want to invite all community members to come out and celebrate and prepare for the winter together.”