Racism, ignorance and hate literature being defended by House of Commons lawyers as a politician privilege (see story below).
From CanWest News Service ...
Former MP loses bid to be immune from human rights law
Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service - January 24, 2007
OTTAWA - A former Saskatchewan MP, who is accused of racism against aboriginals for a ''householder'' brochure he sent to his constituents, is not exempt from a human rights investigation, says a federal judge.
Jim Pankiw, who was a member of the former Reform and Canadian Alliance parties before he was ousted for his controversial views, unsuccessfully tried to convince a judge that politicians should be able to express their views without being hauled before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Federal Court Judge Francois Lemieux concluded the concept of parliamentary privilege, which has traditionally been used to protect politicians from lawsuits for comments made in the House of Commons, does not extend to handouts distributed by MPs.
''There can be no doubt freedom of expression is the lifeblood or a democratic Constitution such as Canada's,'' wrote Lemieux. ''Having said this, there is always a balance to be achieved because there are limits to free political speech.''
Pankiw took the commission to court after it decided a human rights tribunal could examine nine complaints against him for distributing pamphlets appealing for a halt to ''Indian crime.'' He also condemned ''race-based hiring quotas for Indians'' and a Criminal Code provision that urges judges to use leniency when sentencing aboriginals.
Pankiw, now a Saskatoon chiropractor, said the court decision is a blow to free speech.
''It means that the Canadian Human Rights Commission can censure members of Parliament for speaking their mind about public policy, which means we no longer live in a free country,'' said Pankiw, the former MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt. ''If you can't get elected in and espouse your views, then we don't have free speech, do we? It makes a mockery of our Constitution.''
Pankiw was elected as a Reform Party member in the 1997 and its successor, the Canadian Alliance, in 2000. He joined other dissidents who defected to protest Stockwell Day's leadership, but when Stephen Harper assumed the helm, he did not invite Pankiw back on the grounds he was too confrontational.
The House of Commons, which supported Pankiw in the court challenge, filed an appeal on Friday in the Federal Court of Appeal.
''The question is whether it is appropriate in a democracy for a government agency to be judging the content of what members of Parliament say to their constituents,'' said Steven Chaplin, a lawyer for the House of Commons. ''In our view, the political process should deal with it, that's what elections are all about.''
He noted Pankiw was not re-elected as an independent candidate in the federal elections of 2004 and 2006, when he lost to the Conservatives.
Chaplin said the House of Commons draws the line at the free speech that amounts to criminal hate.
Ailsa Watkinson, one of Pankiw's former constituents who filed a human rights complaint, doesn't buy the argument that politicians should be able to speak their minds and then let the voters decide.
''To have in that position somebody disseminate information and to speak in a way that is promoting hatred, that perpetuates discrimination against a certain group of people, is an abuse of power and privilege,'' said Watkinson, a professor at University of Regina.
Parliamentary privilege has traditionally immunized politicians from lawsuits for comments in the House of Commons. It has also protected them from being called to testify while the House is in session.
There have been numerous attempts over the years to expand the scope of parliamentary privilege.
Lemieux, in his ruling, drew heavily on a 2005 decision in the Supreme Court of Canada which retained a narrow scope for parliamentary privilege in the case of Satnam Vaid and the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Gib Parent.
The House of Commons tried to claim privilege when Vaid tried to take his former boss to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, alleging that he was the victim of a racist firing.
CanWest News Service
Judges and national organizations continue to talk and meet about the residential school settlement as the survivors wait. Now the lawyers are taking over the settlement and further delaying the distribution of few thousand dollars for each survivor while they fight over the millions they are expecting. (see stories below). SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on the government, on the lawyers and on the organizations for making this happen!
Meanwhile, in a few short months Canada announces a $10.5 million settlement for a newcomer to Canada for being wrongfully sent to a detention centre. Residential school survivors, many of whom spent years in these forced school environments, suffering various unacceptable experiences are still waiting for even a little personal justice from Canada.
AFN press release ....
Residential School Survivors are One Step Closer to Compensation Following Judges Meeting in Calgary
OTTAWA, Jan. 26 - The final court approval for the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) is one step closer to reality after judges from across Canada met in Calgary yesterday.
"I am pleased to report that yesterday's meeting between the judges, who approved the settlement in principle last month, resolved a number of issues that will allow the administrative process to proceed as quickly as possible," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine. "As you know, the AFN was central to discussions with Canada that formed the responses to the judges concerns on the independent administration and related issues."
The judges also agreed to an unprecedented sitting of all the courts, in the very near future, in order to issue the final settlement approval.
"This certainly indicates that our judicial system realizes the urgency in approving this settlement as quickly as possible," noted the National Chief. "I am very pleased that our Elders have already benefited from the Advance Payment Program. To date, 13,400 have received their $8,000 cheques. This means a total of $74.8 Million dollars have been paid out to the elderly. I look forward to all survivors receiving their compensation due them in the very near future.
"AFN's continued involvement in this process will ensure that the IRSSA remains on track to get payments out to survivors as soon as possible," added the National Chief.
In the coming months, a Community Outreach Mobile Plan (COMP) will travel to as many communities as possible to conduct face-to-face information sessions with survivors.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: please contact: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell: (613) 293-6106, firstname.lastname@example.org;. Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor to the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext. 243, cell: (613) 298-6382, email@example.com.
Appeal means residential school deal on hold: Ottawa
Friday, January 26, 2007 - CBC News
A multibillion-dollar settlement for aboriginal students who attended residential schools is now stalled, a lawyer with the federal government says.
Earlier this month, the attorney general's office filed an appeal against the deal approved by nine judges across Canada. That appeal was against the $15 million to $40 million in legal fees approved for Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, whose firm represents thousands of former students.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine had hoped that the dispute over fees could be separated from the rest of the deal and the long-awaited payouts could proceed.
The situation became more complicated on Friday when Merchant filed his own appeal in Regina that replied to the attorney general's appeal and added other objections to it.
The effect, according to federal government lawyer Catherine Coughlan, is to delay implementation of the compensation package.
Under the law, the settlement is "stayed" during an appeal period, she said.
"It means that further steps in the matter cannot be taken unless a party applies to the court to lift the stay," she said.
However, in the cross-appeal he filed Friday, Merchant argued that it was Ottawa's appeal that triggered the stay and he wouldn't have appealed if Ottawa hadn't done so first.
The deal includes $1.9 billion for the roughly 80,000 aboriginal people who attended the schools in the 20th century. There's also more money for students who were abused physically or sexually in the schools, which were typically run by churches under the supervision of the federal government.
Money has also been set aside for memorial projects and various healing and reconciliation programs.
In total, it's estimated the deal could add up to between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to documents filed in a Regina court.
A new report by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) highlights the challenges Aboriginal people face when trying to access learning opportunities taken for granted by other Canadians.
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) press release ...
State of Learning in Canada: No Time for Complacency Report - Learning Measures Lagging for Aboriginal People
Report calls for approach to learning that reflects community values
VANCOUVER, BC, Jan. 26 - While more Aboriginal youth are finishing school and entering post-secondary education than ever before, Aboriginal languages are endangered and the effects of persistent poverty are hindering progress among Aboriginal youth.
State of Learning in Canada: No Time for Complacency, the first in a series of annual reports to be published by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL), is a comprehensive overview of key aspects of learning in Canada.
Using a wide range of research into learning among Aboriginal people, the report reveals that:
"Although progress is being made, serious gaps remain with respect to learning among Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal Canadians" said Paul Cappon, CEO of the Council. "Substantial action needs to be taken to repair what exists on the Aboriginal learning landscape and enhance it to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people of all ages."
The report makes a number of recommendations on approaches to learning that reflect the particular needs of Aboriginal people. In addition, CCL's Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre is developing new strategies to address the challenges.
In March, CCL is sponsoring a forum to bring together leaders, learners, practitioners and policy makers to look at the current state of Aboriginal learning in Canada and share best practices with the goal of improving learning outcomes across the country.
"Aboriginal communities have traditional, holistic views on how people learn in their societies. We need to work to integrate their perspectives with Western perspectives and models," said Cappon.
In addition to Aboriginal learning, the report also contains chapters on early childhood learning, learning in school, adult learning, and a special feature profiling the challenges low literacy levels pose to Canadian society.
The full report is available at www.ccl-cca.ca/solr.
About the Canadian Council on Learning
The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Social Development Canada. Its mandate is to promote and support evidence-based decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.
NOTE: Additional State of Learning in Canada news releases are available on the report in general and on health literacy.
For further information: please contact: Bob LeDrew, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Canadian Council on Learning, (613) 782-2959, firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern First Nations Hockey
2007 Hockey Tournament
First Teams to submit 50% deposit of the entry fee by Feb. 15, 2007 will be accepted
Final payment must be submitted by March 1, 2007
ENTRY FEE $2000.00
For more information, please contact:
Margaret Kenequanash Cell: (807) 737-9796
Fax: (807) 737-1208
A-side Champions $18000.00
B-side Champions 5000.00
C-side Champions 3000.00
For further information check out the website: www.firstnationshockey.ca
6 DAYS OF 32 FIRST NATIONS FINEST HOCKEY, AT IT’S BEST
Update - Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) Program
New application deadline - May 1st, 2007
This important new program is moving forward. To date, 19 applicants have been recommended to Brock University for admission. Between now and May 1st, the Program Management Committee hopes to find 11 more qualified candidates. Anyone with Grade 12 (or the GED) and is interested in a career in education, is encouraged to apply.
The start date for the program has been delayed to the fall of 2007 by which time the accreditation process will be complete. This is a community-based program. First year courses will be face-to-face in Sioux Lookout - three weeks in November, February, May and July for a total of 12 weeks. In the following years, the program will be a mixture of both face-to-face and distance education courses so that students will spend less time away from their communities.
Those interested can get the application forms from Brian Hawker email@example.com . Email is the best way to communicate with the B.Ed. office but applicants are welcome to call Brian toll free at 1-877-636-0667, ext. 25.
Why not think about it? If you enjoy learning, you could become a fully qualified teacher and also eligible for other careers in education - adult education, curriculum development, youth worker, recreation planning and so on. This program emphasizes both First Nations' values, culture and languages while giving teacher candidates the academic skills to teach anywhere in the province of Ontario.
Do you have questions? Email or call Brian. Do it now!
Brian Hawker, M.A.
Coordinator, B.Ed. Program
Northern Nishnawbe Education Council
P.O. Box 1419, 21 King Street
Sioux Lookout, ON, P8T 1B9
(807) 737-8859, ext. 25
toll free 1-877-636-0667, ext. 25
fax: (807) 737-2769
cell: (807) 737-0734
Ontario targets aboriginal youth to reduce smoking rates among teens
Thursday, January 25, 2007 - Canadian Press: KEITH LESLIE
TORONTO (CP) - The number of aboriginal youth in Canada who smoke is three to four times higher than those of non-aboriginal teens, but the federal government is not helping Ontario's efforts to curb their tobacco use, Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson said Thursday.
Statistics from a 2003 Canada-wide survey found 61 per cent of aboriginal girls between ages 15 and 17 smoke, compared with the provincial average of 15 per cent, while 47 per cent of aboriginal boys smoke, compared with 13 per cent of non-aboriginal males in the same age group.
Other figures from Health Canada show the majority of aboriginal adults smoke, and that 52 per cent of them picked up the habit between the ages of 13 and 16.
Watson said Ontario's smoke-free strategy is being hindered by the federal government's refusal to stop reserves from passing their own bylaws allowing smoking.
"The feds indicated they're not prepared to take action to allow enforcement of these kinds of laws, which is regrettable," Watson said.
"The challenge we face is that this is larger than simply a health issue - it's a constitutional issue."
Dr. Malcolm King of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research said aboriginal youth smoking rates are a concern, and suggested the teens themselves would be the best ones to devise a public awareness campaign to help their peers kick the habit.
King also said Ontario would be wise to stick to its plan to work with aboriginal communities and forget about trying to get Ottawa to enforce a smoking ban on reserves.
"It's probably going to be more rewarding to work with First Nations and convince them to take the action that they need rather than externally imposing regulations," King said from Edmonton.
"From what I've seen, those kinds of approaches don't generally work that well."
Watson visited an aboriginal health centre in downtown Toronto on Thursday to announce a public awareness campaign that will target young aboriginals with radio spots as well as pamphlets and posters in five languages.
"One of the things that we have not done a good job of in the past is communicating in the language of the people we're trying to reach," he said.
"The federal government could be more co-operative, but at the end of the day, if we can't get their co-operation we will work with First Nations and aboriginal communities, like we are with this program."
Fiona Blondin of Anishinawbe Health Toronto said aboriginal teenagers need to be made aware of the dangers of tobacco and second-hand smoke.
"Our experience leads us to believe that there's a real overwhelming need in our community for prevention and for campaigns that focus in on prevention," Blondin said.
Dan Waboose, who performed a traditional drum ceremony at Watson's announcement, noted aboriginals have a long history of using tobacco in ceremonies, but said young people shouldn't confuse those spiritual uses with the abuse of commercial tobacco products.
"Modern cigarettes are filled with many, many toxins and poisons," Waboose said.
"It's important that we teach our people about tobacco."
The government says tobacco-related diseases cost the Ontario health-care system at least $1.7 billion annually.
Dr. John McLaughlin of Cancer Care Ontario said the public awareness campaign will be a critical step towards convincing young aboriginals about the dangers of smoking.
"This plan and the communities of aboriginal people have really helped to define new ways of thinking about the problem and helping us to deal with it," McLaughlin said.
"The use of commercial tobacco is the cause of more preventable deaths than anything else."
Tobacco companies complain they've been losing business to illegal cigarette sales, and say almost all black-market smokes sold in Canada are manufactured on aboriginal reserves.
Watson said Ontario has taken "a much more aggressive stand" in cracking down on illegal cigarette sales and manufacturing on reserves, "but clearly we still have a challenge with tobacco leaving the reserve and illegal tobacco products."
Ontario is also organizing an aboriginal tobacco strategy youth summit in Toronto in March to develop action plans to fight smoking.
AFN press release ...
Partnerships for Prosperity: National Chief Phil Fontaine Signs Memorandums of Understanding at National Aboriginal Economic Development Symposium in Saskatoon
OTTAWA, Jan. 24 - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine signed Memorandums of Understanding with Bell Canada and Siemens Canada at the AFN's Corporate Challenge Dinner last night in Saskatoon.
"In order to close the gap in poverty, First Nations must build partnerships for prosperity with corporate Canada," said National Chief Fontaine. "These Memorandums of Understanding with Bell Canada and Siemens Canada are a significant signal that two of the world's largest companies recognize the potential economic benefits of working closely with First Nations.
"The First Nations population is growing at a rate twice as fast as the rest of Canada," noted the National Chief. "Half of our population of 750,000 is 23 years of age or younger. We must take the initiatives now to create opportunities for this generation, and for our children, in order to break the cycle of poverty and despair that seems to grow worse each day."
The National Chief has challenged corporate Canada to establish, enhance, and increase their activities with First Nations governments and business in order to fully realize employment and economic growth potentials. "I know some of original partners like Adobe, Grand River Enterprises, SIXTech Information Management, Encana and Enbridge join with me in welcoming the latest partners to our corporate table."
"We are very pleased to be working with National Chief Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations on initiating new projects and partnerships," said Gary Cameron, Vice President Professional Services, Bell ICT Solutions. "In particular, we believe that the ability of First Nations, government and the private sector to harness information technology will ultimately create significant and sustainable economic development opportunities for First Nations."
Added Frank Suraci, Aboriginal Relations Manager for Siemens Canada: "We are very excited to be working closely in partnership with First Nations communities and the AFN. We want to help realize the unlimited potentials of a growing First Nations' population in developing socio-economic programs and technology infrastructure that will enhance wellness, economic development and community growth."
Ken Hill, CEO of SIXTech stated: "Bringing our partner Adobe, one of the world's largest software companies to the AFN's corporate table a year ago was a real accomplishment and I am thrilled to see so many other corporations now accepting the National Chief's challenge. These companies can all make a positive difference in First Nations communities and I look forward to contributing to the success of the National Chief's vision."
"We look forward to many more companies - large and small - accepting our Corporate Challenge," commented the National Chief. "I look forward to reporting upon significant progress in the months and years and to come."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: ON-SITE: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief, Cell: (613) 298-6382 or firstname.lastname@example.org;. Bryan Hendry, AFN, A/Communications Director, (613) 241-6789 ext. 229 or Cell: (613) 293-6106, email@example.com.
Federal government press release ...
Canada's new Government Signs Agreement with Siemens to Increase Aboriginal Employment and Economic Opportunities
SASKATOON (January 24, 2007) – Rod Bruinooge, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Frank Suraci, Director of the Aboriginal Sector at Siemens Canada Limited, on behalf of President and CEO Guenther Scholz, today signed an agreement to work together on the development of a partnership for Aboriginal employment.
"Canada's New Government is proud to sign an Aboriginal Workplace Partnership agreement with Siemens Canada, which will recruit, retain and promote Aboriginal employees," said Parliamentary Secretary Bruinooge. "By partnering with Siemens, we will be providing opportunities for Aboriginal people to enter careers in business, science and the skilled trades."
The parties agree to work together to generate opportunities that can provide mutual benefits for Aboriginal people, the Government of Canada and Siemens Canada. They will focus on identifying and working to eliminate barriers in the workplace that limit Aboriginal employment opportunities, and supporting career and business development projects for Aboriginal youth.
"Our strategy considers not only the technologies required for clean water, health care, telehealth and wireless connectivity, but also requires Siemens to build local capacities to maintain and operate these systems," said Mr. Scholz. "We are committed to developing infrastructure that fosters employment, economic development and community growth."
Today's signing took place at the National Symposium on Aboriginal Economic Development, hosted by the Province of Saskatchewan, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Clarence Campeau Development Fund. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is also a member of the Saskatchewan Government Working Group that organized the event, whose theme is "Excellence in Action: Best Practices in First Nation, Métis and Inuit Economic Development."
The Government of Canada, through the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative (AWPI), promotes employment partnership agreements throughout the country. AWPI is part of the federal government's commitment to help Aboriginal people build stronger, healthier and more self-reliant communities by increasing their participation in the labour market.
Siemens is one of the largest and most diversified companies in the world, providing innovations in areas such as automation and control, power, transportation, medical, information and communications, and lighting. In Canada, Siemens is headquartered in Mississauga, Ont., with more than 7,500 employees located in 76 offices and seven major manufacturing facilities.
For more information, please contact:
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Media Relations at (819) 953-1160
Don Paterson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TBayTel along with Peter Diedrich, President and CEO of TBayTel and Kevin Burns, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing travelled to Balmertown for an afternoon and evening with the chiefs and staff at Keewaytinook Okimakanak.
To see photos, click here.
Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold press release ...
Apollo Gold and Wahgoshig First Nation Announce Entry into a Memorandum of Understanding
DENVER, January 23 /CNW/ - Apollo Gold Corporation ("Apollo" or the "Company") (TSX: APG) (AMEX: AGT) and the Wahgoshig First Nation ("Wahgoshig") announced today that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (the "MOU") with regard to the Company's Black Fox project.
The Black Fox project, located near Matheson, Ontario, Canada, was acquired by the Company in 2002 and lies within lands to which the Wahgoshig asserts treaty and aboriginal rights. The Black Fox project is currently in the permitting and feasibility stage, which we expect to be completed in 2007.
The Company believes that the MOU establishes the foundation for a positive and mutually beneficial relationship between the Wahgoshig and Apollo by setting out interim provisions which will apply while the Black Fox project is still in the advanced exploration stage. These provisions include such measures as training, ongoing communication, a good faith financial contribution and, subject to approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, an issuance of a nominal amount of the Company's common shares to the Wahgoshig. Negotiations toward an Impact Benefit Agreement ("IBA") will commence if and when the Apollo Board of Directors decides to move from exploration to production at the Black Fox project. The MOU outlines the agenda and the process for conducting the IBA negotiations, which will include, among other things, such topics as employment, training, business opportunities and financial compensation.
"This is a significant agreement for our First Nation," said Chief David Babin. "It provides some immediate benefits which we appreciate, but more importantly from our perspective, it includes a commitment to negotiate a comprehensive agreement should the project move to the operations phase."
The President and CEO of Apollo, R. David Russell, agreed: "We see this MOU as the beginning of a positive and continuing relationship with the Wahgoshig community. During the course of our negotiations, we have become aware of the importance and the benefits of working cooperatively with the Wahgoshig First Nation."
Maurice J. Kistabish, who acted as head negotiator for Wahgoshig on the MOU negotiations, confirmed the Wahgoshig First Nation's intent of negotiating similar agreements with other resource companies operating in Wahgoshig traditional lands. Mr. Kistabish stated, "The agreement with Apollo is an important first step for our community. We consider it a precedent for our discussions with other companies in the area, and we are hopeful that they will show the same respect and cooperation in accommodating our interests as Apollo has demonstrated."
Apollo Gold Corporation
Apollo is a gold mining and exploration Company with a mine in Montana, the Black Fox advanced stage development project in Ontario, Canada, and the Huizopa Project, an early stage exploration project in the Sierra Madres in Chihuahua, Mexico.