The team at Keewaytinook Okimakanak is offering a series of workshops for teachers of Native children starting today. The first set of sessions will provide workshops about Special Education, Literacy and Early Child Development.
Check out the web site at http://knet.ca/PD/SpecEd.html for more information about:
These workshops are being made available to First Nation teachers and education people through Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program and their Ontario Regional Management Organization (http://firstnationschools.ca)
AN OPEN LETTER TO CANDIDATES IN 2006 FEDERAL ELECTION
As the Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), a political territorial organization that represents 49 First Nations, covering an area of 2/3rds of the province of Ontario, I have been requested to seek further clarification on your position on a number of issues of importance to the people in the NAN territory. This is notwithstanding and in addition to the clarification your party/riding has already provided to the Assembly of First Nations on over-arching national issues.
As you are aware, there are number of ridings in the NAN territory in which First Nations represent a large population. More and more, First Nation voters are expressing the need for a government that will be in tune with their needs. This is in light of the fact that there exists such a large disparity between them and the larger Canadian population.
There are many issues facing the people of NAN (many of which that are comparable or surpass those of other First Nations in Canada). The two most critical for the people of NAN are as follows:
Alarming Rate of Youth Suicide:
In 2005 there were 24 completed youth suicides. We are only weeks into the new year and we have already lost 3 youth to suicide.
In the fall of 2004, Health Canada announced a $65 million to address the issue with First Nations across Canada. The program framework has since been developed by Health Canada, but the consultation process to roll out funding in Ontario is just beginning.
This has been frustrating as our need is very, very urgent. We are also concerned that the Health Canada funding will probably be distributed across the First Nations generally, while our experience is that major targeted community development investment to high risk communities is the only approach that works.
In addition, protocol hurdles currently enforced at the regional level are hindering time sensitive interventions needed in the communities when this kind of crisis occurs. Flexible, timely, targeted community based suicide prevention funding must be a priority with the new federal government.
NAN has put a proactive suicide prevention program in place called the NAN Decade for Youth and Development which the Chiefs mandated in 2000. The youth are asking for opportunities economically, socially, politically and culturally, but, again, funding for this type of programming has been very minimal.
Discussions to address the issue with the Province of Ontario have been favourable yet, the federal government continues to lack interest. This is unacceptable given that we are dealing with the lives of human beings and families.
We are interested in determining how you view role in this issue as leader of your party/riding.
The Need to Develop Approaches to End a Dependant Economy
As part of our unique approach to address socio-economic conditions, based on the abundance of lands rich in untouched natural resources (found mostly north of the 50th parallel), NAN has a made it known that we have a vested interest in developing a region specific framework based on building a natural-resources driven economy and on rights as affirmed in s. 35 of the Constitution Act of Canada, 1982.
Over the years, we have been working with your provincial counterparts to move this forward.
We are interested in determining how you view your role as the leader of your party/ riding.
To assist you in determining your views on these issues, I have enclosed a questionnaire for which I would like your response by January 18, 2006. I will be sharing an analysis of the responses of all parties as they are provided to me so that the people in NAN are prepared to make an informed decision on election day.
I would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation and I look forward to your timely response.
Stan Beardy, Grand Chief
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
1. If elected, would your party/riding be committed to ensuring that targeted funds be made available for community development/suicide programming in communities that are facing multiple youth suicides (over and above the $65 million already provided regionally)? If elected, is your party/riding committed to discussing with NAN methods for more meaningful. federal participation in the issue of NAN youth suicide? What specifically do you propose?
2. Does your party/riding support the principle that the ability to control the natural resources on the lands is directly linked to the vitality, autonomy and future of NAN First Nations? If not, why or what other methods would you propose?
3. If elected, is your party/riding committed to participating in a NAN specific tripartite process/forum on lands and resources as currently being discussed between NAN and the Ontario government and committed to pending cost-sharing arrangements involved? Within this process, is your party/riding committed to developing and endorsing a Joint (Tripartite) Treaty Statement in commemoration of 100 years of Treaty No. 9?
4. What is the position of your party/riding specifically with respect to developing northern transportation and infrastructure, developing an economy in the north through intergovernmental collaboration and other procurement strategies. If elected, what would your party/riding commit to doing to support these? (detail a response for each). In addition, is your party/riding willing to support the negotiation of a resource revenue sharing agreement for the NAN territory between Canada and Ontario?