Counterpoint: Native assimilation is not the answer - Waubageshig (Harvey McCue) - National Post - Nov 16, 2006
In a recent editorial, this newspaper praised former Ontario cabinet minister Alan Pope for his proposal to relocate the Cree residents of the troubled Kashechewan First Nation from their reserve near James Bay to the outskirts of Timmins, Ont.
But Mr. Pope and his media admirers are merely reiterating what many Canadians have argued for generations is the salvation for First Nations: "Get off the reserve and get a life!" In fact, this sentiment began in earnest with Duncan Campbell Scott who, as the deputy minister for Indian Affairs in the 1800s, officially commented numerous times that the only good Indian was an extinct one, or words to that effect.
If the residents of Kashechewan agree to it, the relocation proposed by Mr. Pope will result in their assimilation. The same would be true of any other isolated First Nations communities that accept this route.
Elsewhere, other First Nations, such as the Cree on the Quebec side of James Bay, are actively pursuing economic and social progress, and rejecting the conventional wisdom that says success for First Nations lies in assimilation. The principal difference between the communities on the two sides of the bay is that the Quebec Cree have acquired authority over their lives.
That authority has enabled the Quebec Cree to fashion a growing regional economy, a quality of life that combines ancient Cree traditions with Western modernization and a cultural confidence that is the bane of Quebec separatists. They have found a successful course that does not involve assimilation. Life is not perfect for the Quebec Cree, but they do have the tools to work at resolving their problems.
The Ontario Cree, by contrast, have been virtually ignored. The communities there have been left to subsist on federal government handouts rather than developing policies for their own benefit. That subsistence has led to what some might call a culture of dependence.
The condition stems from the views of an army of officials, who have been unwilling to see northern Indian communities as self-reliant. And so Ottawa continues to provide a minimal level of services, which ensures that a wholesale social collapse will be avoided but ignores any meaningful consideration of how these communities might become successful. Consequently, the residents lack the tools, i.e., the infrastructure, the institutions, the fiscal resources and, more importantly, the self-determination to do much more than make do with handouts.
Indeed, the federal government doesn't really know what "self-government" means for First Nations. If the Quebec Cree had relied on Ottawa to achieve their local and regional governments, their nation would now be in tatters. Moreover, the process to achieve Indian self-government -- as Ottawa defines it -- is mired in bureaucracy with little guarantee for success.
Relocating northern residents is the easy way out, the quick fix. The slow strangulation by the umbilical cord of government handouts is not a viable option either. Instead, we should support Kashechewan and similarly situated First Nations in creating a northern economy, and ensuring that they have the power necessary to take control of their land and resources.
For two centuries, officials and politicians have been trying to figure out how to get rid of Indians. As their strategic roles as key players in the early economy of the fur trade and as military allies waned, the preferred strategy came to be moving them as far as possible from developing areas onto remote, isolated patches of land. Duncan Campbell Scott predicted that residential schools would possibly be the final step in the process. Failing that, the Indian Act was used as an instrument of the state to get rid of Indians through the loss of Indian status.
Mr. Pope's suggested urban relocation of an entire community is just another step in that desperate process. Assimilation is simply not a justifiable or worthy goal for this country to pursue.
- Waubageshig (Harvey McCue) consults on a variety of First Nations issues
Founder and Drummer of MYRAGE, Raymond Kakepetum of Sandy Lake First Nation, was suprised to learn his band had been Nominated for Best Rock Album for the 2006 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
The family and friends of Raymond Kakepetum from Sandy Lake, On. would like to congratulate his band called Myrage who have been nominated for Best Rock Album with their album titled “Images” for the 2006 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
Myrage was number 1 for 4 weeks on NCI 105.5 FM Aboriginal Top 30 list and remained on the list for several weeks during 2005 with their song titled "Walk a Fine Line".
The winners will be announced on Friday, November 24th, 2006, at the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The music awards show is a part of the Canadian Aboriginal Festival.
Congrats and the best of luck.
It seems that more than the lawyers are now trying to contact residential school survivors to try and get their compensation payments before they are even available.
Keeping compensation cheques out of scam artists’ hands - Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Man. Security Commission and RCMP create plan of attack - By Leighton Klassen - The Daily Graphic - Thursday November 16, 2006
Indian residential school survivors are being warned money-hungry scam artists are on the prowl for their federal compensation.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Secur-ities Commission and RCMP detachments across the province are teaming up to keep federal cash in the pockets of its recipients.
“Our concern is that this is public knowledge and there’s a lot of money (distributed to survivors) and that’s when investment scam artists have their ears up,” said Ainsley Cunningham, education officer for Manitoba Securities Commission.
Jennifer Wood, residential schools policy analyst for AMC, said survivors are vulnerable.
“It’s important that the elders are not taken advantage of,” Wood said yesterday. “They’re very vulnerable people and naive .… They don’t know much about fraudulent measures.”
The fear stems from the amount of money Ottawa is distributing as compensation for the suffering experienced at residential schools.
On May 10, the federal Conservative government approved a proposal on a settlement of $10,000 per student, plus an additional $3,000 for each year spent in school. Currently, survivors 65 years old and over as of May 30, 2005, are receiving $8,000 as a first payment, and the remaining $2,000 as a second.
That includes Marina James, 69, who attended Portage Residential School from 1942-51. She said she’s not worried about being scammed because she has close family who watches over her, but she does fear for other survivors.
“It’s terrible that some people don’t realize that there is people like that who try and sell you different things and see how much money you have,” she said from her home on Dakota Tipi First Nation.
She is also aware of how the elderly are often taken advantage of.
“I know this one guy who had a car and he asked a couple of kids to get him stuff from the store,” she explained, adding the man lived alone. “They took off with his money and car.”
The chief of Dakota Plains First Nation, a reserve about 30 kilometres southwest of Portage, is also a residential school survivor. Orville Smoke attended Portage Residential School in 1962. He said he’s well-educated about scams, but fears for the six elderly survivors living on the reserve.
“I’m going to be making an effort to make sure to look out for the elders,” he said yesterday.
Wood said AMC and the securities commission will collaboratively develop information packages that will be distributed to all First Nations.
The brochures, which will likely be ready by the end of the month, will include information on the characteristics of scam artists’ tactics such as the absence of documents or paperwork or an offering of low rates at a high return.
“It will be basic protection messages,” Cunningham said.
And time is of the essence. Wood expects the federal government will approve payments for all ages of residential school survivors, through the common experience payment, later this month. That means a lot of people will be receiving a lot of money.
“It’s for everyone and that’s why this is important,” she said. “There’s 80,000 survivors across Canada.”
Residential schools' ex-students get help against scams - November 15, 2006
Winnipeg RCMP and the Manitoba Securities Commission are joining native leaders to help prevent former residential school students from getting scammed out of thousands of dollars in federal compensation.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said Tuesday it welcomes the expertise of both groups as students of residential schools wait to receive payments ranging from $25,000 to more than $250,000.
"Then we have a collective effort, and that's what we want," said Jennifer Wood, the assembly's residential school compensation co-ordinator.
"We want to show it's a concern on every level because it is out to very fragile individuals, the elders."
"History in the past has shown that scam artists, they don't take very long figuring out who's getting money," said Cpl. Sue Downs of the RCMP's commercial crimes unit in Winnipeg.
"Hurricane Katrina, the flood of '97 here in Manitoba … it seems that scam artists target communities they know that are getting large sums of money."
Downs said she hopes to arrange antifraud workshops on reserves. As well, the assembly will include material from the RCMP and the commission in any information packages it sends out.
Operations already popping up: former student
Former student Ray Mason said he has already heard of one new company based in Edmonton that offers to lend money, with interest, to former students who are expecting large compensation payments.
Mason, chairman of Spirit Wind, a Manitoba-based organization of residential school survivors, said he expects such a company to charge large amounts of interest as students wait months for their cheques.
"That person could lose a good chunk of their compensation claim," Mason said.
As well, he fears the number of similar operators will only grow.
Wood said the large settlements many elderly former students will receive can make them prime targets for scam artists.
"You know, they're not street smart, they're not out here in Winnipeg [or] living in an urban centre. They're living in a community, and they have probably been for most of their lives. The elders are a very vulnerable targeted group of people," she said.
Earlier this fall, former students gave their input on the proposed $1.9-billion federal compensation package in hearings held across Canada, including one in Winnipeg.
If approved, the proposed package would compensate up to 80,000 former students for abuse suffered in the schools and for their loss of language and culture.
Under the proposed settlement package, which was approved by the Conservative government in May, any former student is offered a lump sum of $10,000, plus $3,000 for each year spent in the schools. Former students can seek more compensation if they can prove sexual or physical abuse.
Youth workers from 25 different First Nations across northern Ontario came together this week in Sioux Lookout to further develop their IT skills. Lead by Angus Miles (Fort Severn) and Jesse Fiddler (Sandy Lake) this week's training workshop provided everyone with the opportunity to meet each other and share their stories and experiences.
Click here to visit the Youth Workers online training and sharing meeting space. (requires registration)
The IT Youth Worker employment project is coordinated by Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net Services with funding support from Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program and HRSDC. Marie Carson, Darlene Rae and Jeannie Carpenter are working together to support the Youth Workers and the training coordinators from across Ontario.
Participants in this week's training workshop include: