From Kenora Daily Miner and News at http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com./story.php?id=234216
Health money should flow through First Nations: chief
By Mike Aiken - Kenora Miner and News, June 2, 2006
Shoal Lake 39 Chief John Wapioke would rather see public health money flow through the band council, than the public health unit.
Speaking just days after Northwestern Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Pete Sarsfield spoke out against the gap in services between aboriginal communities and cities, Wapioke agreed with the assessment.
However, he would rather see his own health director allocate the funds.
“He would know best where the needs of the community are,” Wapioke argued.
As he winds up his battle with restaurant owners over smoking, Sarsfield is getting ready for another campaign against the province, the federal government and possibly the city over public health. This would include money for such things as flu shots, health inspections and emergency procedures in the case of a bird flu pandemic.
The chief noted he helped found the Kenora Area Health Access Centre many years ago, so it could help serve the needs of residents. There is also the Kenora Chiefs Advisory Service, along with health policy advisors for both the band and Treaty 3.
Wapioke would also like to see more preventive services within the community, so elders wouldn’t have to live in homes in Kenora where they may feel isolated from their friends and families.
“They don’t seem to live as long,” said Wapioke.
Instead of a pitched battle over jurisdiction, the chief hoped to see partnerships formed so that whatever resources made available may be use most efficiently.
He vividly remembered the day his uncle had a stroke. By chance, the nurse practitioner from the health access centre was visiting, and she helped stabilize the patient. Through a further coincidence, a doctor was also visiting the reserve, and he helped transport him to Kenora for further care.
Together, the medical staff offered an ideal example of how partnerships can work seamlessly together, he noted.
Other players at the reserve level include community health nurses from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada, who work in the same building as the health portfolio staff from the band.
However, with so much demand, space is already being rented in buildings as far away as Longbow Lake, in an effort to ensure proper treatment for residents.
From the The Timmins Daily Press at http://www.timminspress.com/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentID=54994&catname=Local+News
Scott Paradis / The Timmins Daily Press, May 31, 2006
The cure for high rates of suicide and depression at remote Aboriginal fly-in communities may be literacy, the Ontario Lt. Governor James Bartleman told a Timmins crowd Tuesday.
Bartleman was making his third official visit to the city as the lieutenant-governor. He made a presentation at the Days Inn Grand Ballroom following the Porcupine United Way's annual general meeting.
Bartleman's remarks highlighted his Aboriginal literacy program -- and he announced the initiative will grow from five literacy camps at First Nation communities to 35, including 27 communities north of Timmins.
"I think there's a link between literacy and self-esteem," he told the crowd. "I spoke to a principal in Attawapiskat and he told me since getting a library, students have been reading 30 per cent more."
The project, called the Club Amick Young Aboriginal Reader's program, will arm youth with new books, library access, literacy coaches, the ability to assemble a community news letter and more -- which Bartleman hopes will boost literacy rates within First Nations.
Although Bartleman didn't have statistics to show depression and suicide rates fell with the increased reading, he said anecdotal evidence came from the five literacy camps held in 2005.
"In the communities where camps were held, there were no suicides," he told local media after his presentation. "In surrounding communities, there were."
While the results from the literacy camp are positive, Bartleman said suicide rates among Aboriginal people are still 10 times higher than the national average.
As for the overall quality of living, Canada ranks in the world's top five. But the United Nation's quality of living list ranks remote First Nation communities in Canada far below that at close to 60 -- near many Third-World nations in Africa, he said.
With the new initiative Bartleman said he hopes to change those statistics for the better in Canada.
The Porcupine United Way jumped on board to support the program, dishing out $1,250 to support five children for five years.
The five year support will provide the selected children with access to used books from a library, new books to own, a literacy coach and other literacy-driven initiatives.
Children involved will also develop a news letter for their community.
"When we first heard about the program we were really excited about the potential," said Shawn Chorney, Porcupine United Way executive director.
The United Way had already allocated most of its programing funds when it heard about the literacy initiative, so the group quickly began searching for resources.
The United Way then received a call from a family wishing to remain anonymous. The family has experienced a recent death and, Chorney said, a last will and testament stated "they had a legacy gift for the United Way."
The United Way told the family about the literacy initiative and the $1,250 was quickly allocated to that program.
The rest of the money donated by the family will go towards other United Way programing.
While the program directly benefits communities north and outside of Timmins, Chorney said the United Way is excited because the results will have an impact locally.
"A lot of people living in Timmins are from those communities," he said. "They have relatives still living there."
He also said building a stronger region will lead to a stronger city. The total cost of the initiative will likely be $150,000, and that money will give the literacy opportunities to about 1,500 children.
Bartleman said he has raised about $40,000 for Club Amick thus far and said if more organizations, including other United Way affiliates, come forward, raising the remaining funds shouldn't be too much of a challenge.
From CBC North at http://www.cbc.ca/north/story/nor-healing-fudning.html
Res school healing will take decades, and millions: Erasmus - June 2, 2006
It will take hundreds of millions of dollars more, on top of the $1.9 billion now set aside for native victims of residential schools, to properly complete the healing process, veteran native leader George Erasmus told an audience in Yellowknife Thursday.
Erasmus, now chair of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, said his foundation won't have enough money to finish the healing process it started, even with the $125 million it expects from the proposed residential school settlement to help fund community programs.
"Our final report suggests that what is required to complete the healing in Canada is an endowment of $600 million, and 30 more years of healing on top of what we can do with the existing money," he said.
Erasmus made the comments at an Assembly of First Nations-sponsored conference on the $1.9-billion compensation package passed by Parliament last month.
The compensation package provides money for as many as 86,000 aboriginal people who attended church-run schools. The so-called common experience payments release the government and churches from all further liability relating to the Indian residential school experience, except in cases of sexual abuse and serious incidents of physical abuse.
The Foundation, which spends about $60 million across the country, funds about 35 programs in the Northwest Territories.
Erasmus said the foundation will not fund any new programs, but concentrate on existing ones, and encouraged communities to start or continue healing programs on their own, even without money from the foundation.
Fontaine addresses concerns
Meanwhile, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said he sees better days ahead for aboriginal people, after years of frustration while seeking healing and compensation for the wrongs suffered in residential schools.
Fontaine was explaining the details of the agreement at the one-day conference.
He says the establishment of a national reconciliation and healing commission will also open many Canadians' eyes to the incredible hardship many natives of a certain generation went through.
"People know absolutely nothing, most often, about this experience," he said. "They don't know that residential schools existed, or why they existed, and the policy that governed the management and operation of these schools. And it's such a tragic part of our history."
Fontaine encouraged former students to apply for compensation. He told the group that benefits received under the deal would not be clawed back by Revenue Canada or territorial governments, and that the system will respond to people who have lost their education records or went to schools not on the official list.
"This agreement is fair, it's just, it's generous, and it actually fixes all of the things that were problems under the old system," he said.
Fontaine says the first payments, advances worth $8,000 to former residential students who are over 65, are being processed now.
Younger claimants can send in their forms in March of next year.
However, the deal must still be cleared by courts in nine jurisdictions, where individual abuse cases are being heard, and could be scuttled entirely if as few as five per cent of former students opt out in writing.
An art exhibition worth checking out if you are in Thunder Bay ... (Admission is $5 for Adults) ... From the Thunder Bay Art Gallery newsletter and web site at http://tbag.ca ...
THUNDER BAY ART GALLERY
CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF ART EXCELLENCE 1996 - 2006
Norval Morrisseau - Shaman Artist
Organized and distributed by The National Gallery of Canada.
Dates: June 3 through September 3.
Included, among many more, are the three works below.
The Storyteller: The Artist and His Grandfather 1978
Diptych: acrylic on canvas 96.6 x 176.3 cm
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Gatineau Quebec
From The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa
The Gift 1975
Acrylic on paper 196 x 122 cm
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Helen E Band Collection
Untitled: Two Bull Moose
Acrylic on mill board 81.28 x 243.9 cm
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Gift of Carl Boggild
Norval Morrisseau - Shaman Artist
In order to prepare for this exhibition, I was privileged attend the show's premier in Ottawa in February.
As I surveyed the work selected, I was struck by one persistent thought: I was immersed in the achievements of a true innovator. Most artists are lucky if they manage in their lifetimes to extend the traditions they inherit.
Real originators are rare - so rare in fact, that they quite often are seen as the instigators, progenitors, founders of entire epochs which bear the impress of their accomplishments. One thinks, for instance, of Giotto, Michelangelo and Cezanne. Undeniably, one must now also think of Norval Morrisseau.
In so many personal ways, Morrisseau is an uncharacteristic hero, but his achievement - as so decisively demonstrated in this project - is the first of its scale ever accorded a Canadian Aboriginal Artist.
Greg Hill, the curator of the Morrisseau project reports, "Viewers encounter an intriguing plethora of images representing animals and plants of the earth, spiritual creatures inhabiting heavenly and underworldly realms, as well as ancestors and human intermediaries who communicate with the spirit world. Drawn from public and private collections in Canada, the United States, and Israel, many of these works have rarely been on view; some have never been exhibited. They include drawings, painted objects, and paintings - including early works painted on such unorthodox surfaces as birchbark and cardboard through to the intensely colourful and large-scale canvases that characterize his maturing form.
The show documents Morriseau's progression as an artist, charting the creative and spiritual journey that would contribute to his unique style of painting known as "Woodland" or "Legend" painting, now called Anishnaabe painting, of which he is the originator. In works that evoke ancient symbolic etchings on sacred birchbark scrolls and pictographic renderings of spiritual creatures, Morrisseau "reveals" the souls of humans and animals through his unique "x-ray" style of imaging: sinewy black "spirit" lines emanate, surround, and link the figures. Skeletal elements and internal organs are visible within the figures' delineated segments. Saturated with startling, often contrasting colours, such paintings appear to vibrate under the viewer's gaze.
This landmark exhibition affirms Morrisseau's reputation as a modern-day master who has achieved national and international acclaim. It also reminds us why this shaman-artist inspired three generations of Anishnaabe to pursue painting and print as a means to recovering their heritage."
Yes, Morriseau had his sources. Yes, he had influences that helped form and shape his vision. And yes, like any artist who has the daring to experiment, his output was at times irregular. His career of nearly fifty years has been marked by transformations. It is clear that Morrisseau was constantly engaged in the search for a visual language to support his evolving vision. And as one bathes in the intensity of colour that radiates from his surfaces, it is easy to ponder the therapeutic values that Morrisseau attributes saturated hues.
I am not qualified to speak to his shamanic participations, not being part of that Anishnaabe tradition, yet as one disciplined by 40 years of cross-cultural reference, and as witness to Morrisseau's achievements recorded here, I do not hesitate to lend credence to the assertion that all of Morrisseau's activity is marked with spiritual intent. Morrisseau's mature work is possessed of such a commanding assurance that it has become an idiom among successive generations. The gift of retrospective vision is that is allows us to trace the initiation of a pictorial vocabulary expressive, not merely of personal exigencies, but of an entire cultural ethos. When power, form, vision and vibrancy are lent to a people in such a way as to expand their identity, I am among the first to define that accomplishment as belonging to a spiritual realm.
At the National Gallery opening, already acknowledged as Grand Shaman of the Ojibwa and honoured with an eagle feather by the Assembly of first Nations, member of the Order of Canada and the RCA, Morrisseau was also one of the first artists to be inducted into The Royal Society: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada. This gesture, flowing from the highest level, accedes traditional forms of knowledge and the visual arts as a learned discipline. It was fitting that Norval Morrisseau, Shaman Artist, should be seen breaking through that barrier.
Norval Morrisseau - Shaman Artist is circulating only to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, and the National Museum of American Indian in New York City. The project boasts fully illustrated bilingual catalogues. A series of lectures and public activities will complement this exhibition.
Glenn Allison, Curator - Thunder Bay Art Gallery
From the House of Commons Hansard: http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/032_2006-06-02/HAN032-E.htm
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION - EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 032
Friday, June 2, 2006
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Right Hon. Paul Martin (LaSalle—Émard, Lib.) moved that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, on too many reserves and in too many cities there is an unacceptable gap between what ought to be the hopeful promise of youth and the experience of aboriginal adulthood, a gap made even more unacceptable by the fact that aboriginal Canadians represent the largest segment of our youth and the fastest growing segment of our population.
We face a moral imperative. In a country as wealthy as ours, a country that is the envy of the world, good health and good education should be givens. They are the pillars underpinning equality of opportunity, which in turn is the foundation on which our society is built.
I rise today because the descendants of the people who first occupied this land deserve to have an equal opportunity to work for and to enjoy the benefits of our collective prosperity. Today the majority do not because of gaps in education and skills, in health care and housing, and because of limited opportunities for employment. Put simply, these gaps between aboriginal Canadians and other Canadians are not acceptable in the 21st century. They never were acceptable.
Last fall the Government of Canada came to an extraordinary agreement with an extraordinary group of people. These included the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the first ministers of Canada's provinces and territories.
Together we developed a plan to narrow and eventually eliminate the gaps that afflict aboriginal Canadians. It became known as the Kelowna accord.
The history of aboriginal communities is heart-rending. For a year and a half, we worked to establish objectives in order to make progress in five crucial areas: education, health, housing, drinking water and economic development. Our goal was to make a real difference, to do everything in our power to change what is a harsh reality for many of our fellow citizens through investments that would bring about real change in the daily lives of aboriginal peoples.
We began by studying the gap in education. Giving young people the chance to reach their potential is essential to all of the other initiatives we set out. This means building schools and training teachers. This means ensuring that students complete their studies. This means making all types of post-secondary education available to young people. This means encouraging them to get professional training so they can get better jobs. We must ensure they have the means to succeed at all of these pursuits.
This is why the government committed to establishing a network of first nations school systems run by aboriginals in cooperation with the provinces, which are responsible for education. Our plan also included making aboriginal, Inuit or Métis culture an integral part of the curriculum in certain urban public schools.
The number of major economic projects underway in the north is staggering. Employment opportunities are abundant, and the number of well-paid jobs is remarkable. Aboriginal people will really be able to benefit from this, but only if training starts now.
This is why we committed to working with our public and private sector partners to create the apprenticeship training programs Canadian aboriginals need to get good jobs. The goal of the Kelowna accord is to close the gap between aboriginals and non-aboriginals within 10 years. The accord will ensure that the aboriginal population has the same proportion of high school graduates as the non-aboriginal population, and it will halve the post-secondary studies gap. That is just the beginning.
In terms of health care, the gaps that persist between aboriginal health and the health of most Canadians are simply unconscionable. The incidence of infant mortality is almost 20% higher for first nations than for the rest of Canada. Suicide can be anywhere from three times to eleven times more common. Teen pregnancies are nine times the national average. It is evident that these heartbreaking statistics and facts speak not just to health care. They speak to the psychic and emotional turmoil in communities, which we must find ways urgently to address.
We started this effort two years ago when aboriginal leaders participated in the first ministers meeting on health care. There we recognized the need for a new health framework and we began work on an unprecedented document, the aboriginal health blueprint, a comprehensive plan for the delivery of reliable health care in every province and territory on and off reserve.
We aimed to double the number of aboriginal health professionals in 10 years from 150 physicians and 1,200 nurses today. We aimed to focus on core measures of health, which we can monitor and improve upon in each community. We set goals to reduce the gaps in key areas, such as infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes.
This is only a start. No one will be satisfied until these gaps are closed completely.
We addressed the issue of clean water and housing. Housing is about more than having a roof over one's head. It is about dignity. It is about pride of place. It is about having a stake in the community and an investment in the future. We recognize the need to reduce these gaps significantly with a comprehensive effort to expand the skills of first nations, Inuit and Métis to manage their land, infrastructure and financing. It is estimated, by implementing the Kelowna accord, that we could realistically close the housing gap on reserve by 40% within 5 years and by 80% within 10 years.
The Kelowna accord is a comprehensive 10 year plan to achieve a clear set of goals and targets. We provided $5.1 billion for the first five years. Let me be very clear. The funds were fully provided for in the fiscal framework. The government has the money. It is a fiscal framework, incidentally, which has, since that time, produced a surplus substantially larger than was originally projected. We made it clear that for the second five years of the program, enhanced resources based on the success obtained would be provided.
It is a measurable plan, with targets to be attained and evaluated every two to three years, giving Canadians the ability to hold everyone who is involved accountable. It was developed through a non-partisan, collaborative approach in concert with the aboriginal leadership. All political parties and government across the country, Liberal, Conservative and NDP, were at the table. The Government of Canada, on behalf of the people of Canada, gave its solemn word that we would work to achieve these goals.
Aboriginal Canadians, provinces and territories have made it clear that they want to see a commitment from the new government to honour the Kelowna accord. Despite this, five months later, after inheriting a very healthy balance sheet, one much better than it had anticipated, the new government refuses to say whether it will support the nation's commitment to these goals and objectives. Its budget did not confirm the funds necessary to attain those goals.
Wherein lies the problem? Is it that the government disagrees with the goals that are set out in the accord? Is it that it does not want to work with the provinces, territories and the aboriginal leadership, all of whom share these goals?
On the other hand, the government agrees with the objectives that are laid out in the accord. Why will it not take advantage of a plan that was developed over 18 months by experts in 14 governments across Canada and in our aboriginal communities?
Let us be honest, we have consulted long enough. We have studied enough. The time has come for the government to act. Why will the government not recognize that, because of its lack of commitment, it has already wasted precious months, precious months in which critical progress could have been made toward the attaining of our interim targets?
The goals and objectives of the Kelowna agreement will not go away. This was never a partisan issue. The premier of British Columbia, speaking recently in his legislature, said the following:
I characterized that agreement as Canada's 'moment of truth.' It was our time to do something that has eluded our nation for 138 years. It was our chance to end the disparities in health, education, housing and economic opportunity. All first ministers rose to that moment of truth alongside Canada's aboriginal leaders to undertake that challenge....
Similarly, this week during their meeting in Gimli, western premiers said the following:
Having previously made an extraordinary national commitment, failure to follow through on that commitment will only make us poorer as a nation.
That is the premiers talking about a commitment.
The premier of Manitoba, who chaired that meeting, added that it would be morally wrong to walk away from the accord.
It is because of this that I have taken the unfortunate necessary step of introducing the bill entitled an act to implement the Kelowna accord. I do so with only one goal in mind, and that is to provide the government and the House with the opportunity to reaffirm what was, by all accounts, a historic agreement for Canada, for Canadians.
The bill is about confirming national commitment lest it be lost. It is also about another potential loss, the loss of the goodwill and the optimism that characterized the Kelowna meeting, the positive spirit, which played a huge role in helping us reach an agreement. All of us at that meeting left imbued with a new sense of hope for the future. That hope was underpinned by an expectation that all the parties to the agreement would live up to their commitment.
Unfortunately, for aboriginal Canadians, new hope has been replaced by doubt. Goodwill has been displaced by worry as the government engages in red herring after red herring. Too many aboriginal Canadians today endured crushing poverty in one of the world's most prosperous countries. That is why I chose, as a new prime minister, to make it a central issue for my government.
The new government is responsible for making a clear commitment to aboriginal peoples. It must respect the promises made and honour the Kelowna accord.
We need a clear commitment, not just in words but in action. We need a clear commitment to meet the challenges facing our aboriginal people by living up to the Kelowna accord.
I ask the government and the ministers here present to rise above partisanship. I ask them and all members of the House, for the sake of our aboriginal people and the future of our great country, to support the bill.
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my right hon. friend, the former prime minister of the country, and I both share a commitment to improving the lives of aboriginal Canadians. I certainly do not question his bona fides in that sense and, I assume, as a gentleman, that he does not question mine.
Long before I was elected I worked on land claims. I have spent a significant part of my life working in the aid of aboriginal Canadians. I have seen aboriginal poverty firsthand, both on reserves and in urban centres, which is why I truly believe that one of Canada's greatest challenges is the issue of aboriginal poverty. In that sense, he and I are of common ground. ....
The problems in this country are much deeper than that. They require a long term commitment, structural reform and renovation in consultation with first nations. Unless that is done, we will not succeed in the eradication of aboriginal poverty.
I support the principles and the targets that were discussed at Kelowna in the course of that first ministers' meeting. I also acknowledge the efforts that were undertaken to draw together the premiers and the aboriginal leaders. However, the issue is where to go from there.
From the June 2006 issue of BC Business Magazine at http://www.bcbusinessmagazine.com/feathersJune06.htm
Ruffling Feathers -The tough-talking, no-bullshit genius of Chief Clarence Louie.
By Andrew Findlay
In a small boardroom on the second floor of the Metropolitan Hotel on Howe Street, Clarence Louie, the maverick chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band, is doing what he is often asked to do these days. That is, talk to First Nations bands about how to evolve from a culture of dependence into a bastion of independence and entrepreneurship.
“I won’t go to a meeting these days unless it has to do with creating jobs and making money,” Louie announces bluntly to a small gathering of band councillors and administrators from the Saulteau First Nation near Moberly Lake in northern B.C. “I spend my time on economic development and I don’t care what you say; everything costs money. Even our traditional ceremonies cost money.”
It’s the first and last time you’ll hear this renowned (No. 40 on Maclean’s 2003 Watch List of Canadians) First Nations business leader utter the word “tradition” during his PowerPoint presentation, but you’ll quickly lose count of the number of references to “economic development.” In his neat blazer, pressed black trousers and wire-rimmed glasses, he could be mistaken for a Fraser Institute pundit. Before an audience, Louie is a formidable and brazen speaker who isn’t afraid to push buttons. In private, he is serious, intense and straightforward, with a penetrating gaze and an extremely quick mind. He’s been accused by his own kind of sacrificing traditional First Nations culture and values at the altar of capitalism, yet under his leadership his band built the beautiful Nk’Mip Desert and First Nations Heritage Centre which does just that – promotes aboriginal culture. Nobody – First Nations or otherwise – is immune to his critical gaze. In one breath he’ll dismiss the federal department of Indian affairs as an inept bureaucracy that has perpetuated a First Nations welfare state. In the next, he’ll chide fellow aboriginals who claim to be following the “red road” (adhering to traditional values and spirituality) while collecting a social assistance cheque.
Truth is, the 46-year-old’s pro-business views are grounded in a belief that the only way forward for First Nations is to break the cycle of poverty and dependence on government handouts – that have plagued his people since the Indian Act became law in 1876 – through self-sufficiency and economic development. His track record as chief of the 420-strong Osoyoos Indian Band, now in his 22nd year, has garnered attention around Canada and abroad. The accolades are nice, and Louie’s got the financial cred to back it.
The Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corp. currently owns nine businesses, with annual revenues topping $13 million, including the award-winning Nk’Mip Cellars, the first First Nations-owned winery in the world. Every Christmas, 12 per cent of profits are distributed to band members. In 2005, more than 1,000 First Nations and non-First Nations were employed by OIB businesses and joint ventures. That same year, OIB Holdings generated nearly $2 million in lease payments from non-First Nations companies such as Calgary-based Bellstar Hotels & Resorts, which is putting the finishing touches on a four-star property – Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa – on the shores of Lake Osoyoos.
Not too shabby for a band that has fewer members than your average urban high school has students.
“Anyone who has been in town for more than five minutes knows about him,” says CJ Rhodes, president of the Osoyoos Chamber of Commerce.
Brett Sweezy is the Sandpoint, Idaho-based president of Winter Recreation, ULC, the parent company of Mount Baldy Ski Corp. When the outfit purchased the small ski resort east of Osoyoos in 2005, Sweezy and his partners approached the Osoyoos Indian Band on whose traditional lands they were planning to build an 8,000-bed resort. After tough negotiations, Sweezy and company signed a precedent-setting agreement that gives OIB a 2.5-per-cent interest in Winter Recreation ULC, a share of revenues from real-estate development, reduced lift tickets and job opportunities for band members at the resort, as well as assurances that archeological sites and traditional land use would be respected. In exchange, the American company acquires a comfortable level of certainty that the band will support its resort plans, wisely sidestepping the thorny aboriginal land title conflicts that have deep-sixed other ventures in the past.
“I give the OIB a lot of credit because there is a lot of pressure from other First Nations not to sell out,” Sweezy says over the phone from Sandpoint about the agreement he hammered out with Louie. “In our meetings with Chief Louie, there wasn’t a lot of open banter. He’s not afraid to point fingers and put issues on the table. He’s a politician and he’s always aware of how things will play out with his council.”
On several occasions Sweezy has had the unenviable task of following Louie on the speakers’ list at various conferences and meetings. “I’ll only speak before him now; otherwise nobody will listen,” Sweezy says with a chuckle, giving a nod to Louie’s prowess at the podium.
In an article published by the online journal Indian Country Today, Ed Romanowski, CEO of Bellstar Hotels & Resorts, says outside investment on Osoyoos band property is attractive because Louie and the OIB have demonstrated that “their word is their deed.”
The OIB’s economic profile has been “an inspiration for many bands,” but it’s not necessarily a model that can be applied across the board, says Stewart Phillip, chief of the Penticton Indian Band and current president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “Some bands simply don’t have the same economic opportunities.”
Certainly, the OIB is blessed by its proximity to a relatively vibrant business environment in the south Okanagan, and it doesn’t fault other First Nations for focusing on the treaty process to gain a share of resource revenue from the province. However, he’s convinced the principles of self-sufficiency are sound.
But the doorway to change hasn’t always swung open easily for Louie. It’s taken a lot of debate, disagreement and frank self-reflection among a people Louie says are too often fixated on looking to right past wrongs and sticking Band-Aids on nagging social issues such as alcoholism, drug abuse and family strife. “I like dealing in reality,” he says. “I’m not saying that everybody agrees with me. A lot of elders still hold up the British flag and talk about promises made a hundred years ago. Personally, I don’t have any faith in the Queen.”
Louie was born in Oliver in 1960 and at the age of 18, he enrolled in Native American studies at the University of Saskatchewan, eventually completing his degree in Lethbridge. In 1984, at age 24, he was recruited to run for chief of the Osoyoos band. He won his first campaign and hasn’t looked back since. When he first took over the council reins he walked into a stereotypically dysfunctional band preoccupied with running Department of Indian Affairs (since renamed Indian and Northern Affairs) social programs and crippled by rampant nepotism, acrimonious band politics and social problems. The single band-owned business, a vineyard started in 1968, limped along year after year accumulating losses. Not surprisingly, he says, collectively his band was a symptom of a system the government instituted – one of welfare dependence and shoehorning bands onto marginal lands at the expense of job creation and economic development. But, he concedes, aboriginal leaders are also to blame, too eager to become the servants of federal programs instead of real advocates for change. “Any time we can kick DIA out of our business, we do it,” he says.
Today Louie’s vision is still a work in progress, but the streamlined corporate environment at the OIB is a far cry from the dysfunctional place he walked into two decades ago. It’s no picnic working under Louie’s watch. Some of his HR concepts don’t exactly mesh with supposedly enlightened business models, where every day is a casual Friday. It’s not unusual to see small banners with slogans like, “If your life sucks, it means you suck,” or “A real warrior supports himself and others,” tacked to the walls of the band office. His council recently decided to install clocks at the band council and OIBDC offices to curtail truancy, and strict rules guard against the kind of nepotism that is common on Indian reserves where sisters supervise brothers and the chief hires his wife to do the books. Surprisingly, there’s not a single member of a First Nation on the OIBDC’s board of directors because, Louie says, business isn’t about race – it’s about expertise. “There’s a group of natives that feels entitled, and that needs to be changed to a culture of performance,” he says. “You don’t hand over the keys to a multi-million-dollar business to someone who hasn’t earned it. That’s a recipe for bankruptcy.”
It’s time for Louie to wrap up his PowerPoint. He has a plane to catch back to the Okanagan. These days he doesn’t get too misty-eyed over First Nations spirituality and traditions. In his briefcase, along with his books on First Nations history and politics, he has a set of custom door handles for his kids’ Hummer that he picked up at a Vancouver car dealer. (As he’s fond of saying, there’s no culture in poverty.)
“Our people have the worst social statistics in Canada and our leaders have allowed this to go on for 100 years. I’ve never bought that stuff about natives being non-competitive. Throwing the best potlatch required accumulating a certain amount of wealth,” he says as he snaps his briefcase closed.
Clearly, Chief Louie didn’t get to where he is today by mincing words.
Chief Executives - B.C.’s First Nations are drumming up big business.
by Ryan Stuart
Profitable since year one: it’s the dream of any start-up, but for the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni, it means more than money in the bank. For this band, it’s the first step toward self-sufficiency and self-determination. “Developing our own source of revenue is a great way of getting off the federal teat,” says Trevor Jones, CEO of the Hupacasath Economic Development Corp. “It spurs an entrepreneurial approach that the whole community notices.”
The key is Hupacasath Woodlot, the band’s forestry company, which opened a 400-hectare woodlot in 2003. Catering to high-end log-home and timber-frame builders, who come directly to the managed forest to select their own trees, the woodlot has generated a profit every year since it started and according to Jones, “It’s created enough money to help us start up some of our other businesses.” A joint-venture micro-hydro project, a granite quarry partnership and a cultural tour company have all been started or supported with the woodlot’s $250,000 to $500,000 annual profit. Thanks to the woodlot, the band is moving toward the day when the Hupacasath won’t need to answer to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) about how it spends its money.
The Hupacasath are not alone in this goal. From tree lots and wineries to salmon farms and cultural tours, First Nations groups across the province are working toward self-determination and freedom from INAC’s transfer payments. Their new economic focus is on band- and individual-generated revenues, increasing cultural awareness and freeing First Nations members from Ottawa’s influence. Non-aboriginal partners are enticed and prejudices are disappearing as First Nations people overcome stereotypes. Unemployment is falling and some B.C. First Nations are now teaching the business world some lessons of their own.
This is a new mindset for First Nations in this province, one that has yet to catch on in some places. Fifty years ago, most aboriginal people were living off the land as their ancestors had, logging, fishing and trapping. “They were fairly self-reliant,” says Vancouver-based lawyer and author Calvin Helin, president of the Native Investment and Trade Association, an aboriginal non-profit society.
A combination of the downturn in the resource sector and increased reliance on financial support from the government gradually created a depressing scenario in which band offices became the only employer on many reserves and all the money came from Ottawa. Since First Nations bands don’t have the authority to collect taxes, they rely on transfer payments from the federal government to pay for infrastructure, schools, roads and band offices on reserves. (It’s similar to the money every municipality receives from government.) For the Hupacasath that’s about $900,000 for 250 people. It’s never enough. There’s no money left to help band members find jobs. Aboriginal people, totaling 3.5 per cent of the Canadian population, account for 30 per cent of the welfare roll, according to Helin. “The only solution for most chiefs is to beg for more money,” he says. “That’s just prolonging the problem.”
Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education & Training Institute
Student Support Worker
Established by Nishnawbe Aski Nation to provide excellence in culturally appropriate post-secondary education and training programs, Oshki offers choice, accessibility, flexibility, opportunities and support services for our students. To meet the learning needs of people in the communities, the Institute offers a range of courses through distance delivery methods.
We are looking for a highly, energetic and dynamic individual for the position of Student Support Worker. The successful candidate will have an exciting opportunity to help the students increase their educational growth and successes. Under the direction of the Program & Student Services Coordinator, the successful candidate will provide support services to the students enrolled in the Aboriginal Community Services Worker Program and other programs.
• A diploma or degree in a related field.
• A minimum of three years of experience in related experience.
• Understand needs and challenges faced by First Nation students in remote locations
• Possess strong communication and organizational skills.
• Ability to work independently and be an effective team member.
• Hold a valid driver’s license.
• Demonstrate an understanding of First Nations culture and issues
Responsibilities include (a complete job description is available on request):
• Assist potential applicants in the registration process for the programs of interest.
• Provide support to the students registered in the Aboriginal Community Services Worker Program when they are on-campus and during their independent learning.
• Provide logistical support when students are scheduled for the on-campus sessions including arrangements for travel and accommodations.
• Be a liaison for the programs with the community educators and counselors in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and related organizations.
• Maintain appropriate and updated student records.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a letter of interest and resume to:
Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education & Training Institute
106 Centennial Square, 3rd Floor
Thunder Bay, ON P7E 1H3
Fax: (807) 622-1818
Closing date: Friday, June 16, 2006 at 12:00 p.m.
While we appreciate all applications for this position, only those who are selected for an interview will be contacted.
For the Second year in a row, the Aboriginal Head Start Program in Deer Lake has been selected to participate in a Canada-wide Community Exchanges Program. Last year staff members travelled to Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan to exchange ideas and information. This year the group will travel to Kahnawake, Quebec.
Last year 16 sites were selected to take part in the Community Exchanges Program but because of overwhelming success, Health Canada increased the number of participating sites to 30 sites this year. Head Start sites are paired based on strengths and weaknesses.
Deer Lake Head Start has had tremendous success in its Culture and Language component of the Program. With the guidance and assistance from Elders and dedicated community members, the Program has been more active in exposing its students to traditional lifestyle practices.
Deer Lake Head Start hopes to get ideas on networking and creating linkages with other programs in the community. With a stronger emphasis on creating a working relationship with the local school.
The Exchange visits will take place in the fall 2006.
Indian Affairs minister feeling heat as Tories put brakes on native spending - SUE BAILEY for Canadian Press
OTTAWA (CP) - The desolate Kashechewan First Nation has become a flashpoint for growing frustration over Tory aboriginal policy.
That anger boiled over outside the Commons on Thursday as Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice turned his back on a confrontation with leaders representing the tiny James Bay community.
It started in the daily question period when New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Kashechewan, challenged Prentice to recognize a Liberal-signed deal to rebuild what he called the flood-prone "rat hole" on higher ground.
Prentice refused. Instead, he countered over howls from the opposition that the Liberals never budgeted millions of dollars needed for the relocation.
Former Indian Affairs Minister Andy Scott signed an agreement last October pledging 50 new houses a year for 10 years.
"It is shameful that the previous Liberal government would have resorted to misleading the people of Kashechewan with empty promises and with no money set aside in the budget," Prentice said Thursday in the Commons.
"It is a situation we will deal with."
Angus says the minister's staff told him that it will be at least three years before a new site is selected. Moreover, funding expected this summer to repair existing homes and to study potential sites has been cancelled, he said.
Kashechewan Chief Leo Friday says he's worried that any delay will provoke residents, especially young people, to acts of civil disobedience.
"This government is trying to send my people back to that same shit hole that we've been out of for the last months," Friday said moments after Prentice refused to debate the matter in front of reporters and walked away.
"What are we going to do?"
Despite Prentice's claims that money was never budgeted, Friday says about $9 million had arrived in the community since the rebuilding deal was signed last fall. It was used to repair several homes, some of which were redamaged in the most recent flood.
The Cree community was moved against its will by Ottawa to the low-lying land in 1957.
More than 1,400 residents were evacuated for the third time in two years last month. They are now scattered among temporary homes in several northern Ontario cities and towns.
Spring flooding caused sewage backups in buildings, tainted drinking water and shut down hydro. This, after photos of Kashechewan toddlers riddled with skin infections blamed on dirty water made international headlines last fall.
Angus says he and Kashechewan leaders worked for months with the Conservatives trying to iron out details of a new plan.
"If we could (tell) the community, 'Yes, the minister needs more time but recognizes the (Liberal) agreement,' we'd be more than willing to go back and tell the people to be patient," Angus said.
"He has had ample opportunity to find the money and come up with a plan. He has done nothing."
Prentice insisted he is willing to continue talks with Kashechewan leaders.
"We have to patch that together, make it workable and livable and accelerate it as we can," he said when asked what residents are supposed to do in the meantime.
"Clearly, we have to move forward with a permanent solution."
Aboriginal issues may not be one of the Tory government's stated five priorities, but they've quickly become a political headache.
Prentice has taken heat since the maiden Conservative budget gutted a $5.1-billion plan signed by the former Liberal government, native leaders and all premiers to raise aboriginal living standards over 10 years.
The Tory budget commits just $150 million this year and $300 million next year for such goals.
Another $600 million was earmarked for housing and aboriginal programs in the territories - but only if surplus federal funds, to be finalized in the coming months, exceed $2 billion.
© The Canadian Press, 2006
Northern Nishnawbe Education Council is completing a search to fill a number of key positions. Please post the following job ads ....
NORTHERN NISHNAWBE EDUCATION COUNCIL
NNEC seeks an Executive Director to provide leadership in the management and operation of its Education Programs: Secondary Student Support Program, Post Secondary Program, Wahsa Distance Education Centre, Pelican Falls First Nations High School, Pelican Falls Centre, Northern Eagle Student Centre and Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and is accountable to the Chiefs of the Sioux Lookout District.
LOCATION Sioux Lookout, ON
SALARY Negotiable - commensurate with related education and experience.
CLOSING June 30, 2006 at 4:30 pm CST
TO APPLY Submit resume, covering letter and two recent employment references to NNEC, Attn Dorothy Trout, Personnel Officer, by fax at (807)582-3865 or email at email@example.com , originals should follow or mail to PO Box 1419, Sioux Lookout, ON P8T 1B9.
For info visit www.nnec.on.ca or call 807-582-3245
NNEC requires Criminal Background Check from those offered positions
NORTHERN NISHNAWBE EDUCATION COUNCIL
Consider leading Pelican Falls First Nations High School, our private boarding school located on a picturesque 14 ha peninsula, 15 kms from Sioux Lookout, ON (a full-service community of 5000+). We seek a dynamic educator and role model who can incorporate First Nation languages and values in the Ontario curriculum. PFFNHS operates with a modified (condensed) school year from August to May and is home to 150 students from remote communities.
Note: Staff are required to live in Sioux Lookout area; on-site living accommodations are not provided.
Fax or mail your resume complete with:
Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. June 16, 2006 at NNEC Head Office, Attn Dorothy Trout, Personnel Officer, Fax (807)582-3865; mailing address Box 1419, Sioux Lookout, ON P8T 1B9 Call (807)582-3245 for info.
NNEC requires Criminal Reference Checks from those offered positions
NORTHERN NISHNAWBE EDUCATION COUNCIL
Full Time Positions
NNEC invites applications for various teaching positions for the 2006-2007 school year at Pelican Falls First Nations High School and Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.
Pelican Falls First Nations High School and Dennis Franklin Cromarty High Schools are private schools operated by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council under the direction of District Chiefs and First Nation communities. Pelican Falls First Nations High School is a unique facility that is located on Pelican Lake in the traditional territory of Lac Seul First Nation and within the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School is located in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Pelican Falls First Nations High School has the following teaching positions:
(1.0) Mathematics , grades 9-12
(1.0) Science, grades 9-12
(1.0) General Subjects
Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School has the following teaching position:
(1.0) Computer Studies
Teaching positions are full time with additional teaching assignments.
Term Full time positions starting August 2006 with renewable annual contracts.
Please fax your resume complete with
To: Dorothy Trout, Personnel Officer, NNEC Head Office, Lac Seul First Nation at (807)582-3865 or by mail to Box 1419, Sioux Lookout, ON, P8T 1B9. Applications must be received by 4:30 pm June 23, 2006.
NNEC requires Criminal Background Checks from those offered positions
NORTHERN NISHNAWBE EDUCATION COUNCIL
NNEC seeks a Payroll Clerk for its Finance Department which provides payroll and human resource services for more than 140 full-time employees. The Payroll Clerk maintains the payroll system and assists with maintenance of human resource information systems. The Payroll Clerk must manage sensitive information with strict confidentiality and must have strong bookkeeping, computer, interpersonal and organizational skills to perform duties accurately and efficiently. NNEC encourages applications by First Nations people from the Sioux Lookout District.
LOCATION Frenchman’s Head, Lac Seul First Nation
HOURS 8:30 - 4:30 (35 hrs/wk)
SALARY Starting $22,508 to $30,122 annually
TERM Full - time, renewable annual contracts
CLOSING June 2nd , 2006 by 4:30 pm.
TO APPLY Submit resume, three employment references (with permission to contact) and covering letter to:
Attn Dorothy Trout, Personnel Officer
by fax at (807) 582-3865
or mail to:
PO Box 1419
Sioux Lookout, ON
Job description / more info. may be obtained by calling Dorothy Trout at (807)582-3245
NNEC requires Criminal Reference Checks from those offered positions