Philipp Budka, a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna, is back in Sioux Lookout (click here to see previous KNEWS story about Philipp's 2006 visit).
He arrived by train on Wednesday after attending the CRACIN workshop in Montreal where he presented a paper on MyKNet.org. Over the next two months Philipp is hoping to meet with as many people as possible to discuss their interest and use of MyKnet.org.
He is interested in travelling to as many First Nations as possible across the region to gather stories and meet the people who are MyKnet.org users. Next week, Philipp will be travelling to Mishkeegogamang with Tina Kakepetum-Schultz.
Philipp created an online meeting space at http://meeting.knet.ca/moodle/course/view.php?id=51 to share information about his research and to gather feedback and stories. EVERYONE is invited to join in these discussions and to help us better understand why MyKnet.org is important to the people who use this online resource.
Please visit this online meeting space and joining into the discussions about MyKnet.org. Click here to go directly to the discussion forums that have been started (everyone can start their own discussion thread).
The following two press releases highlight the challenges facing First Nation post-secondary students and their institutions. The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) works with K-Net to access their broadband connections ...
Aboriginal Students Spiked in Game of Federal-Provincial Volleyball
By Karihwakeron Tim Thompson
President and CAO, First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI)
OTTAWA, June 28 - "The education of Indians consists not merely of training the mind but of a weaning of the habits and feelings of their ancestors and the acquirements of the language, arts and customs of civilized life." Egerton Ryerson, 1847
Egerton Ryerson is celebrated as the father of the public school system in Canada. Few Canadians know that as a consequence of a report on Aboriginal education he tabled to the government of the day Mr. Ryerson is also the father of the residential school system which has left a legacy of inter-generational social and cultural disruption among the many nations of Indigenous peoples across Canada.
"I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone... That has been the whole purpose of Indian education and advancement since the earliest times... Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department...". Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1920
The residential school system was the primary weapon to implement a federal policy designed to destroy the cultural identities of Aboriginal peoples. Despite the fact that academic education was far from a priority of these institutions, the federal government of the day did consider the possibility that "civilized" Aboriginal people might be able to experience higher education. Under the Indian Act, an individual would be required to give up their identity and all rights as an Aboriginal person in exchange for the right to get a post-secondary education. This law did not change until 1951 - for many of us, this is our parents generation. Is it any wonder that there are significant gaps in education attainment between Aboriginal peoples and Canadians?
First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is an Aboriginal controlled post-secondary institute which was created in 1985 to provide access to post-secondary programs for Aboriginal people. We are succeeding.
FNTI offers a variety of degree, diploma and certificate programs in partnership with provincially recognized colleges and universities. The Institute has gained international recognition for work in Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) and adult education initiatives. Our annual conference is attended by delegates from around the world. This has led to our involvement in working with Indigenous nations, state governments, and industry in countries such as South Africa, Ecuador and Chile. Ironically, our international engagements are bringing us significant recognition. Yet here in Ontario, Canada, we exist as the unwanted relative that neither jurisdiction wants to acknowledge.
The federal government has constitutional responsibility for "Indians" and acknowledges its responsibility for education on reserve. However, the federal government has attempted to limit its legal responsibility to Grade 12 and takes the position that post-secondary is a provincial responsibility. I don't think they've ever told this to the government of Ontario so I fear I may be releasing secret information. In Ontario, Aboriginal controlled institutions are not considered as colleges or universities but are instead treated as "Indians" which, of course, are a federal responsibility. FNTI is tired of being in the middle of an endless jurisdictional volleyball game.
Because we exist on the periphery of the post-secondary education system, we must engage in partnership agreements with mainstream colleges and universities in order to "accredit" our programs. Although we have valued partnerships, forced paternalism can be difficult to stomach. I'll let out another secret but please don't tell Ontario - many of our partners are never actually seen because they simply leave us alone to develop and deliver post-secondary education initiatives without their involvement.
Each year, we await an annual allocation from both governments. The federal allocation is based not on any educational outcomes, but on historical amounts. Despite growing from seven post-secondary programs last year to eleven this year with approximately 400 students, federal funding which we use to support core operations has declined by 50% since 2004. FNTI received a letter this year which advised that there are no guarantees to maintain our funding levels next year and to be prepared for additional cuts. I guess we have to go back to South America once again to feel good about ourselves.
Last week we were informed that in the upcoming school year the government of Ontario values an Aboriginal student attending FNTI at $1677, approximately 20% of the value of a student attending a college or university in this province. This is expected to cover all costs associated with the delivery of a post-secondary program while also acknowledges that we must pay some of our partners for accreditation arrangements. I'll be frank - we cannot deliver a Mohawk Language Immersion program for $11,000 a year, but we'll somehow find a way. I'm pretty certain French and English language programs in other colleges and universities are compensated at a somewhat higher rate. This is where the jurisdictional volleyball game becomes a game of chicken. Each government assumes that by placing the future of 400 Aboriginal post-secondary students at risk, the other government will step in and ensure operations continue uninterrupted. But what if neither government decides to step up?
The Premier of Ontario would like to be known as the education Premier and established some impressive credentials early in his term in office. His government even created a post-secondary access and opportunities strategy for Aboriginal peoples and historically disadvantaged people. However, there is no way to accept inaction on the outstanding matter of equity for FNTI and Aboriginal controlled institutions in Ontario. It would be a tragedy if FNTI was forced to eliminate initiatives because of a failure of leadership in Ontario. I hope the Premier will take corrective measures immediately to ensure that this does not happen.
Why place the onus on the Premier and not the federal government? Well, it seems logical given that we do deliver provincially recognized education programs within Ontario. When one considers that the federal funding formula for First Nations elementary and secondary schools has not changed since 1987, and a recent post-secondary education report by the Minister of Indian Affairs to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples failed to even make reference to Aboriginal institutions, one can guess that change on the federal side is likely going to take a long, long time.
So, Premier McGuinty, will the legacy of your initial term in office be one of groundbreaking leadership in achieving equity for FNTI and Aboriginal institutions? Or will you simply allow the status quo to prevail where the Institute and its students are placed at risk? I think you have shown your good heart in education and I trust you will act quickly to address the inequities. With fairness and equity, I have no doubt that significant accomplishments will be made in Aboriginal education in Ontario.
Karihwakeron Tim Thompson
President and CAO
First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI)
3 Old York Road,
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. K0K 1X0
(613) 396-2122 ext. 133
For further information: Karihwakeron Tim Thompson, President and CAO, First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI), (613) 396-2122 ext. 133
FNTI press release ....
FNTI Demands Fairness, Equity and Justice In PSE Funding
TYENDINAGA, ON, June 28 - "The Government of Ontario values an Aboriginal post-secondary student at FNTI at one-fifth of a student attending other colleges and universities. We cannot wait another 22 years to address this inequity," stated Karihwakeron Tim Thompson, President and CAO of FNTI (First Nations Technical Institute).
FNTI is an Aboriginal controlled post-secondary institution which came into existence in 1985 as a result of an innovative partnership between the FNTI Board of Directors, and the federal and provincial governments. FNTI has graduated over 2000 people from its certificate, diploma and degree programs and boasts a 90% graduation rate. It offers unique programs which reflect Indigenous knowledge, responding to Aboriginal socio-economic needs, and developing community human resource capacity to enhance self-government and self-determination. FNTI is making significant contributions to reduce the post-secondary education attainment gap which exists between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian population.
The federal government believes support for Aboriginal institutions is a matter for the provinces and has said so as recently as June 2007 in a report tabled with a Parliamentary Committee. Ontario offers a program which provides support for program development and delivery in Aboriginal institutions, however, at funding levels of $1677 per student this is approximately 20% of per student allocations to support colleges and universities in Ontario.
"FNTI faces an annual struggle to survive, due to the fact that both levels of government engage in short-term programs and half-measures. FNTI is a success story yet we find ourselves being tossed around in an annual game of jurisdictional volleyball which constantly threatens our very existence," said William J. Brant, Chair of the FNTI Board of Directors.
"The lack of urgent action by both governments is inexcusable," FNTI President Thompson added. "I had hoped the age of institutional assimilation had passed. It is time for Ontario to demonstrate leadership and make room for FNTI in a truly inclusive post-secondary system. I call upon the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to work with FNTI to remove the system barriers which undermine our operations.
We are seeking fairness, equity, and justice. Surely these are values with which Ontario agrees."
For further information: Karihwakeron Tim Thompson, FNTI President and CAO, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, (613) 396-2122 ext. 133
Far North response facility launches; New emergency services centre based out of Moose Factory
Scott Paradis - June 28, 2007
Firefighters, paramedics, police officers and other emergency service workers will all share one roof in this island First Nation community.
After three years of construction and more than 10-years of planning Moose Cree First Nation officially held the grand opening of its Far North Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) Centre of Excellence, located on Moose Factory Island.
Wednesday's opening makes Moose Factory the first and only community within Nishnawbe-Aski Nation territory to have its emergency service facility meet basic national building code standards.
Doug Cheechoo, Emergency Preparedness and Response co-ordinator, said the emergency services that the new building will house isn't just for Moose Factory.
"It's for the James Bay area," he said. "A lot of people have died in fires, getting lost and running into trouble out in the (James) bay."
Cheechoo said in order to operate an emergency service properly, whether it's a fire department or police detachment, the community needs to have the right tools.
Adequate facilities like the new Far North EPR building is one of those necessary tools, he said.
"It's important to provide that to the firefighters, ambulance and police," he said. "They need a modern facility where they can train."
The total cost of the project was just less than $6 million. About $5.1 million of that was associated with construction costs while about $900,000 was spent on non-construction costs.
Those non-construction costs included, drafting a business plan, consultations, and finance plans among other things.
"We had a number of project partners and investors that came aboard and joined the project," Cheechoo said.
Some of those investors and project partners include Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, FedNor, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Mushkegowuk Employment Training Services.
"They all came forward and supported this project and we were able to achieve it," Cheechoo said.
"Of course Moose Cree (First Nation) was a major contributor - they invested about $1.4 million for this project. They really did their part."
The opening of the Far North EPR centre means that Moose Factory becomes the first community in Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) territory to have all its emergency services buildings meet basic building code standards.
NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy spoke briefly during the building's official opening about the bittersweetness of such a fact.
"We don't have any fire halls across NAN, we don't have emergency measures across NAN," Beardy told The Daily Press after his speech. "This is the only one in all of NAN that meets the basic national building code."
Several communities have their own police detachment, volunteer fire department and search and rescue teams.
But the buildings those services work out of are "substandard" and wouldn't be accepted anywhere else in Canada, Beardy said.
Beardy hopes that the grand opening in Moose Factory is a sign of things to come. He said he would like to see his people push the government to get the same standards that other municipalities receive.
"We are part of Ontario," he said.
"We should have the same consideration as everyone else."
Chiefs of Ontario press release ...
Statement from Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse on National Day of Action
TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - The recent events in and around the area of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Alderville First Nation, and near Bala, Ontario are a result of the actions of a few individuals and are not reflective of the collective resolve of the First Nations in Ontario. There is no doubt that First Nations have longstanding legitimate grievances that must be addressed now and not ten, twenty or thirty years down the road. The National Day of Action was planned to initiate a peaceful process to raise awareness about these legitimate grievances, and to continue to advocate for the full recognition and respect of First Nations aboriginal and Treaty rights. First Nations leaders are responsible to represent, and speak for their citizens. First Nations leaders have clearly stated that the frustration and despair in our communities is palpable. We cannot stand by and pretend this is not the case. First Nations leaders have done their utmost to bring this situation to light, while advocating peaceful and constructive measures to build momentum and support for genuine, positive action on the part of governments to improve the quality of life for First Nations citizens. This means taking action to move beyond the grinding poverty and the hopelessness that exists now.
We are all responsible to address and improve this situation --- First Nations leaders, Canadians, and Government. One must ask themselves why it takes blockades, or threats of blockades and occupations to force the Government to act. The Oka crisis in 1990 forced some change. For example, the Indian Claims Commission was established following the conclusion of the Oka crisis. Additionally, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was created. The 400 or so recommendations from the RCAP have been all but ignored. Now in 2007, with the threat of blockades and further uncertainty once again looming, both levels of government have made positive announcements that First Nations leaders have been advocating for over many years. These announcements include the creation of an independent body to settle land claims, and for more resources to support the settlement of claims in a more expedient manner. Why does it have to come to this for the government to act? Canadians must ask their elected officials this question.
First Nations people believe in resolving differences in a peaceful manner. We remain committed to this principle and implore all First Nations citizens to stand with us in our collective efforts. The First Nation leadership in Ontario appeals for calm, restraint and good judgment on the part of all parties on this National Day of Action. We are appealing to all First Nations citizens to focus on the true message and to not lose sight of it, as this will only serve to detract us from achieving progress and building a strong network of support. We call on the Government of Canada to work with First Nations leadership in a true spirit of partnership, reflective of the Nation to Nation relationship that the sacred Treaties established. First Nations leaders call on both levels of government to move beyond the rhetoric by taking concrete and immediate actions to settle our legitimate grievances. The policies of inaction have consequences, and unfortunately, we are seeing more and more what these consequences can be. This benefits no one, and hurts all of us. Let's finally move beyond the status quo. First Nations leaders in Ontario are certainly willing to move forward in a positive manner for the good of all our citizens.
For further information: Pam Hunter, (905) 683-0322 or Policy Advisor, (613) 720-5539
AFN National Chief Calls National Day of Action an Overwhelming Success and Show of Support for First Nations: "A hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope"
"We are looking for the basic necessities of life that come with being Canadian - clean drinking water, decent housing, education and health care. We are looking for equality of opportunity so we can get good jobs and support ourselves and our families. We are looking to control our own destinies. Improving our lives will not only be good for us. It will be good for Canada."
AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine
Speaking to 3,000 supporters
National Day of Action event on Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Ontario
OTTAWA, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine stated that today's National Day of Action organized by the Assembly of First Nations was an overwhelming success.
"First Nations and Canadians across the country organized and participated in more than one hundred events," said National Chief Fontaine. "This is one of the largest rallies in Canadian history based on the sheer number of events and the number of locations. Today, the story is not about conflict or confrontation. It is about the overwhelming critical mass of support for justice and fairness for First Nations."
The National Chief took part in the Ottawa event, which attracted approximately 3,000 supporters. The National Chief was joined by political leaders such as Liberal leader Stephan Dion and NDP leader Jack Layton, union leaders, church leaders, First Nations leaders and citizens and many non-Aboriginal Canadians. The Day of Action is also supported by all Premiers and Territorial leaders and many businesses including Canadian Pacific railways.
"I hope the federal government takes note of this massive show of support for our people and our cause," said the National Chief. "This is a Day of Action and clearly Canadians want to see action. First Nations have a plan for progress and prosperity. All we need now is for the federal government to step up and demonstrate the will and the vision to work with us in partnership for a better, stronger Canada."
In his address to the crowd, National Chief Fontaine called for immediate action to address the poor social conditions that afflict too many First Nations. The National Chief called on the federal government to honour its promises to First Nations; to implement the plan agreed to at the First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal Issues in Kelowna, BC; to apologize to survivors of residential schools; and to work with First Nations to give life to their rights as recognized in Canada's Constitution.
The National Chief noted that all AFN-organized events were peaceful and positive.
"I thank all our supporters for gathering in a spirit of cooperation, and I commend law enforcement officials for their commitment to a measured and non-confrontational approach," said the National Chief.
The National Chief noted that the Day of Action is only the beginning of creating a new era of peace and prosperity for First Nations. The AFN's Annual General Assembly takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 10-12, during which there will be a discussion about the National Day of Action and next steps. As well, the National Chief has been invited to meet with all Premiers and Territorial leaders on August 8 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
"Today is only a beginning, but an excellent start to the work we must do as a nation," said National Chief Fontaine. "If we were to look at Canada from above today, we would see more than a hundred rallies and marches across the land, and thousands and thousands of people showing their support for a better quality of life for First Nations. Each event and each individual represents a point of hope - hope for a better future for First Nations, and hope for a stronger, more united Canada for all Canadians. We see the support for our cause: more than a hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations in Canada.
/For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications,
(613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, firstname.lastname@example.org; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext 243, (613) 298-6382, email@example.com/
INAC press release ...
Statement by the honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians regarding the National Day of Action
OTTAWA, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians issued the following statement today regarding the events that took place around today's National Day of Action.
Today a number of Aboriginal organizations and communities across the country took part in activities relating to the National Day of Action. The express purpose of this day was to raise awareness of the serious issues facing Aboriginal people in this country. The vast majority of Aboriginal people taking part in these activities did so without causing disruptions for Canadians.
Canada's New Government has made real progress in addressing the issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada. We understand that the status quo is not sustainable - that the gaps in health, social and economic conditions must be closed. That is why, along with the provinces and territories, we will continue to work with responsible Aboriginal leaders to bring real improvements to the quality of life of Aboriginal people through improvements in housing, water conditions, education, economic development and accelerating the land claims process. Since taking office, we have focused our efforts on practical, results-oriented action.
I can confidently tell all Aboriginal people in Canada and other Canadians that we will continue to follow through on our commitments. We will measure our performance as we go and we will ensure that our efforts are open, transparent and accountable to all Canadians.
/For further information: Deirdra McCracken, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; This release is also available on the Internet at http://www.inac.gc.ca./
Native-focused school eyed
KATE DUBINSKI, SUN MEDIA - June 27, 2007
The city's aboriginals seek an immersion school based on their culture, open to all.
It would be a school where music class would focus on drums instead of the recorder.
In art, students would study carving and beading, and in history, they'd learn the stories of native leaders.
The N'Amerind Friendship Centre will push the Thames Valley District school board at a meeting tonight to establish an aboriginal cultural immersion school.
"There is not one school in the Thames Valley school board that offers native languages," said Chester Langille, the centre's executive director.
"What we want is a stand-alone school, open to everyone, focused on aboriginal culture along with the regular compulsory provincial curriculum."
Langille and representatives of the National Association of Friendship Centres will meet tonight with Peggy Sattler, chairperson of the Thames board, and other board officials.
"They're in the midst of their capital planning process, and we want them to look at this possibility. We talked to them about it two years ago," Langille said.
"The native population is the fastest growing in Canada. Forty per cent of our population is under 18 . . . and our young people will form an important part of the economy."
However, it's also the population with the highest dropout rate in Canada, and many available services aren't reaching those in need.
The Thames board has 600 aboriginal students in its schools, according to its records, but Langille said the number is 2,000.
The discrepancy comes because only native kids living on reserves are funded and counted as aboriginal (the school board gets federal grant money for them), but the vast majority of Ontario's aboriginal population -- 80 per cent -- lives in urban centres.
"School boards never identify the needs, because how do you meet the needs of a population that's invisible?" Langille said.
The vision for the school would be one where aboriginal issues would be woven into the provincial curriculum, and the school would be open to all students.
"Ultimately, the overlying vision is about decolonizing native students, and to reverse the impact of residential schools."
If the school was built around the N'Amerind Friendship Centre, at the corner of Colborne and Horton streets, then the 19 social programs already available there -- everything from family violence to addiction to prenatal help -- could be delivered to students who need them.
"The kids could focus on education and not the social issues which negatively impact them."
The meeting is set for today at 7 p.m. at the N'Amerind Friendship Centre.
First Nation organizations and communities across Ontario are planning a variety of events to take place on the NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION, Friday, June 29. Everyone is invited to participate in any event and show your support for these demonstrations highlighting the inadequate government efforts to address poverty and third world conditions in First Nations. See the newspaper articles below as examples ...
The following list of events is just a sample of the type of gatherings being planned. Everyone is invited to contact their nearby First Nation or First Nation organization to find out how you can help make the government listen to Canadians who want immediate action to provide solutions and resources required to correct the wrongs imposed on Aboriginal people across the country.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Event Time: 10:00 AM
Event Location: Lakehead Labour Centre – 929 Fort William Road to Marina Park, Thunder Bay
Contact: Jenna Young Director of Communications Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625 4952 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Batchewana First Nation, Garden River First Nation, First Peoples National Party of Canada and Various Sault Ste Marie Native Organizations
Event Time: 10 AM
Event Location: Clergue Park Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Contact: Cory Mcleod 705-945-6226
Event Time: 10:00 a.m
Event Location: Hollinger Park Timmins, Ontario
Contact: Grand Chief Louttit at 705-658-4222, cell 705-363-7670 or by email at email@example.com.
Toronto Council Fire & Mississaugas of the New Credit
Event Time: 8:30 AM & 10 AM Starts
Event Location: Walk begins from Council Fire at 8:30 AM or meet at Little Norway Park (10 AM to 2 PM)
Contact: Jayne, Patricia, Jennifer or David at Council Fire
Tel.: (416) 360-4350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link for more information: http://www.councilfire.ca/
National Day of Action - London, Ontario
Event Time: Start at Sunrise - End at Dinner - 5:00pm
Event Location: *Sunrise Ceremony - N'Amerind Friendship Centre* 10:00am Meet at N'Amerind Friendship Centre, 260 Colborne St., London, Ontario and walk downtown to City Hall and then Harris Park. Guest Speakers will present at all locations. Potluck dinner to follow at N"amerind FC.
Contact: N'Amerind Friendship Centre 1-519-672-0131
Saugeen First Nation
Event Time: 11 a.m. on June 29
Event Location: Saugeen First Nation Band Office
Contact: Saugeen First Nation - Chief Randall Kahgee
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Event Time: 10:00 am to 2 pm
Event Location: Cornwall Island, Ontario Open Field west side of Canada Customs compound
Contact: Akwesasne Rally for National Day of Action Russ E. Jock Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Nipissing First Nation (NFN)
Event Time: 12:00 noon until 4:00 pm
Event Location: N’bisiing Education Centre 469B Couchie Memorial Dr. in Duchensay Ontario bordering North Bay just west of the city
Contact: Perry McLeod-Shabogesic (705) 471-3780 / 472-7888 (ext. 25) or Dwayne Nashkawa (705) 753-2050
Assembly of First Nations
Event Time: 12:00 Noon
Event Location: Ottawa City Hall (Festival Plaza) at 110 Laurier Avenue West
Contact: Donnie Garrow at 1-866-869-6789; Fax: (613) 241-5808; email@example.com
Link for more information: http://www.afn.ca/nda.htm
Jane Mattinas Health Centre
Event Time: 9:30 a.m. June 29th
Event Location: Highway 11 Jct 663, Ontario
National Chief Statement on potential illegal protests on June 29th
OTTAWA, June 27, 2007
I am aware of public statements in recent days about intentions to disrupt traffic during the National day of Action in support of First Nations on June 29th. While these comments have been widely reported they are isolated comments and do not reflect the position of the Assembly of First Nations, or the many First Nations across the country, who have organized peaceful and positive events that are inclusive of all Canadians.
The real story here is not about conflict. It is about the many events that are taking place across the country which, combined, make for one of the largest rallies ever held in Canada. The real story here is that we have an unprecedented critical mass of support for justice and fairness for First Nations. We have already received pledges of participation from various organizations, corporations, unions, church groups, and ordinary Canadians.
We respectfully urge Canadians not to criminalize First Nations people with respect to the actions they plan to take on June 29th and beyond. Our people do have a right to protest, as do all Canadians. The Assembly of First Nations has never resorted to illegal activities, or anything beyond the rule of law, to advance the causes of FN people.
We understand the frustration that exists among too many of our people. Our objective in organizing the National Day of Action is to provide a positive channel for that energy. We invite all Canadians to stand with us in support of a better life for First Nations and a stronger country for all Canadians.
In recent weeks, the AFN has met with various police forces, as well as CN and CP Rail, because of our mutual interest in ensuring public safety and security during the various events that will make up the National Day of Action.
Of course, the best way to prevent problems of a disruptive nature is for First Nations and Canada to show that we are working together for a better future, and to give our people hope. Since the National Day of Action was passed by resolution by the Chiefs in Assembly last December, the intent has always been to have a peaceful day of education and awareness in order to create a common rallying point for all Canadians to show their support and solidarity for First Nations people.
Campaign brings together First Nations, non-natives
Local News - June 27, 2007
The Anishinabek Nation will launch a summer-long public education campaign Friday, as First Nations across Canada mark a national day of action.
The launch will be held at the Union of Ontario Indians head office with Grand Council Chief John Beaucage and special guests including Sam George, brother of Dudley George, who was killed during the Ipperwash standoff.
A postcard campaign will be unveiled during the launch, asking Ontario residents to join Anishinabek Nation citizens in endorsing key recommendations of the report of the Ipperwash inquiry.
The campaign is the first call to action for First Nations and non-native people to work together for a better future. Postcards will be delivered to Premier Dalton McGuinty Sept. 6.
Health issues overwhelm native community
Samantha Craggs - June 26, 2007
When posing for a photograph, Janet Brant Nelles smiles.
As program co-ordinator for Tyendinaga Home and Community Care, she has many reasons not to smile, however. With a small staff funded on a shoestring budget, Brant Nelles administers a program that sees firsthand the poor health condition of some of the members of her community.
She provides home care to about 50 patients on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory at any given time, from babies to the elderly. She concurs with the assessment by aboriginal leaders and health professionals that when it comes to First Nations, health issues tend to triple the rates of non-native communities.
"Our rate of diabetes is 30 or 40 per cent," said Brant Nelles. "And those are the ones that know (they have it)." By comparison, the Canadian Diabetes Association Quinte branch estimates about 12 per cent are diabetic in the general Quinte area.
Higher diabetes rates lead to a multitude of health problems. Brant Nelles estimates rates of heart disease and high blood pressure, dialysis, amputations and diabetic-related wounds such as ulcers are about 10 times higher on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory than in non-native communities. A nurse practitioner and graduate of Queen's University, Brant Nelles worked in operating rooms in Belleville, Trenton and Kingston and has seen the difference.
"Poverty, education, employment, mental health status, all of those things affect health," she said.
The proximity of grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables affect local health, she said. Native people also have what Brant Nelles calls a "thrifty gene," which historically allowed the hunter-gatherer population to go without food for long periods of time. The influx of western convenience foods is attributed to the higher rates of diabetes.
Broader figures of First Nations communities show an ailing population. In the province's 2005 Report on the Health Status of Aboriginal People, Dr. Chandrakant Shah reported that 50 per cent of aboriginal people living off-reserve smoke, with rates as high as 70 per cent in the late 1990s.
Forty-three per cent engage in binge drinking and 28 per cent use illegal drugs. Sixty-three per cent are considered overweight or obese, compared to 39 per cent of Canadians. Cancers in both sexes are on the rise, and in 1999, 10.7 per cent of all HIV/AIDS cases in Canada were aboriginal.
"The rule of thumb is that you can take almost any possible mental or physical health problem and multiply it by three in aboriginal communities," said Shah.
Throwing money at it, he said, is not necessarily the solution. The problem is deeply rooted and interconnected to other First Nations issues - land claims, the reserve system, the lack of cultural identity. All have led to the depression and mental health issues manifesting themselves in startling health statistics, he said.
"There is a lack of self-esteem and a lack of inner happiness," said Shah, who has organized a forum for Wednesday featuring former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Chief R. Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. "Until we fix that, nothing will help ... It's a huge task, but it's a doable task."
At Anishnawbe Health Toronto, where Shah is a staff physician, a mixture of western and traditional medicine is used, such as sweat lodges and healing ceremonies, an approach that is "absolutely crucial" for native communities, he said.
In British Columbia, self-governing First Nations have found less suicide and better health in general amongst their people, he said. Related is the lack of aboriginal physicians. The University of Calgary spearheaded a program in the 1990s to leave five spots open in its medical school for indigenous students, and eight other universities have done the same, including the University of Ottawa, said Dr. Malcolm King, an Ojibway medical researcher from Ontario's Mississaugas of the New
Credit. King chairs the aboriginal health care careers committee in Calgary and the Aboriginal People's Health Institution, and is also past president of the Canadian Thorasics Society, making him the first aboriginal president of a mainstream medical organization.
"The barrier many aboriginal communities face is that their own education system at the high school level is just not conducive to training and science and the subjects needed to get into medicine," King said. "There is already a much higher high school drop-out rate in most aboriginal communities anyway."
King sees the solution as being not just with the government, but with aboriginal communities themselves. The tide is turning, but more communities need to develop their own health promotion programs, he said.
"Governments really can't do anything," he said. "They can't go in and change things. The change has to come from within, a desire to do something for the community, followed by more of a collaborative working arrangement between governments and First Nations communities. We can't just throw money at it."
Like Shah, however, King sees a link between what the government isn't doing, such as settling land claims, and health. Until land claims are resolved and a settlement with residential school survivors is reached, the needed "respectful relationship" to curb physical and mental health issues can't exist, he said.
"Until that's solved, there isn't the will," he said. "People may think it shouldn't have anything to do with it, but it does."
For her part, Brant Nelles is helping the change. She is helping the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte band council develop its own strategic plan for health, which will see a new perspective for a healthier community. A public meeting in February drew about 100 people. Then 10 people, ranging from social services workers to the band council's CAO, did a four-day retreat to develop a plan. It is expected to be ratified in the fall.
The plan will include short- and long-term goals and encompass the areas of mind, body and spirit, she said.
"For each of those three areas, we look at the things that might affect them," she said. "We also defined what health means to us."
With her training, Brant Nelles could actually be writing prescriptions and treating ailments on the reserve, but jurisdictional wrangling has prevented the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte from getting approval, said spokesman Brant Bardy said. The Ministry of Health says it is a federal matter, while Health Canada sends them back to the province.
"That happens with a lot of issues, not just health care," he said. King supports the aboriginal day of action, provided it is peaceful, to eventually improve the health of aboriginal communities.
"It's important to get these political issues out in the open and dealt with so we can get on with issues like health and education," he said. "They are so critical to aboriginal peoples that they really have to be dealt with, or we're never going to get where we need to go."
50 per cent of aboriginal people smoke on a daily basis. In 1997, 79 per cent of males and 72 per cent of females were smokers.
43 per cent engage in binge drinking, and 28 per cent use illegal drugs.
63 per cent of First Nations people aged 18-34 are considered overweight or obese, compared to 39 per cent of Canadians.
Health problems on the increase in aboriginal communities include diabetes, ischemic heart disease and cancers in both sexes.
The suicide rate in aboriginal communities is three to four times greater, as are the rates of most mental illnesses. At least 75 per cent of aboriginal women have experienced family violence, and an estimated 20,697 aboriginals in Ontario are currently suffering from a major mental disorder, most commonly depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
Source: Report on the Health Status of Aboriginal People in Ontario, 2005, by Dr. Chandrakant P. Shah.
Please note that the online survey deadline is this Friday, June 29 ... Please circulate widely so as many people as possible can provide input into the Federal government's planning efforts for improving the health of Canada's children and youth.
Go directly to the online survey at http://survey.confirmit.com/wix/p479525526.aspx?p=999
Minister Clement Launches On-Line Consultations to Improve the Health of Canada's children and youth - June 19-29
Federal Government press release ...
Minister Clement launches on-line consultations to improve the health of Canada's children and youth
OTTAWA -The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, announced today the launch of on-line consultations to gather opinions from Canadians on the health issues of Canada's children and youth.
"We have an important opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and youth," said Minister Clement. "Still, we need input on how to truly make a positive and lasting impact not only on our kids, but on Canadian society as well."
Dr. Khristinn Kellie Leitch, Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth, is examining the health issues facing Canada's children and youth. Since her appointment on March 8, 2007, Dr. Leitch has met with a number of stakeholders from across the country as well as provincial and territorial government representatives. The opening of the on-line consultations marks an important step in Dr. Leitch's mandate.
"The responses that I receive from this on-line consultation, combined with the information I am gathering from face-to-face meetings, will assist me in forming recommendations on key federal priorities and opportunities in the domain of children and youth health," said Dr. Leitch.
The consultations will be held on Health Canada's Web site from June 19, 2007, and will close at 23:59 (Pacific time) on June 29, 2007.
Dr. Leitch will report on the on-line consultation to the Minister of Health later this summer. Her advice and recommendations will inform the federal Health Portfolio on what actions it can take to best contribute to enhancing the health of Canada's children and youth.
SLAAMB press release ...
New Aboriginal Apprenticeship Research Initiative Announced For 30 Remote First Nation Communities
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 (Sioux Lookout, ON) – A new initiative is underway for 30 remote First Nations located in the Sioux Lookout area to improve access and opportunity for First Nations people who are currently employed or want to be employed in the skilled trades. The 30 First Nations being targeted are the ones served by the former Sioux Lookout Zone Hospital.
The initiative is funded by Human Resources Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and will bring together the expertise of other numerous local and provincial partners. The anticipated outcome of this research project would be to support Ontario’s and Canada’s need to generate a new wave of home grown skilled workforce in the trades while improving the social and economic conditions of the First Nations people as a result of obtaining a career in the trades.
The Sioux Lookout Regional Centre For Aboriginal Apprenticeship Research (CAAR) Initiative is designed to maximize training and job opportunities around the construction of the Sioux Lookout Health Centre (Meno-Ya-Win) and the new hostel. The initiative will develop partnerships and tools that will facilitate, enhance and support the recruitment, retention and advancement of First Nations people in the skilled trades.
The Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs, Job Connect, the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada (AHRDCC), Confederation College, Northwestern Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council and the Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre by way of letters of support support the CAAR Initiative.
SLAAMB will work with the Apprenticeship office in Kenora (MTCU) to assess the skill levels of the various community members who have worked in the construction field over the last 15 – 20 years without their trade’s certification. After assessing their skill levels, we will prepare them to challenge the various trades’ exams (carpentry, electrical & plumbing). We will also place some people in apprenticeship to obtain their trade’s certification. At the same time, we will deliver pre-apprenticeship and upgrading of employment skills using the internet and video conferencing so people can stay in their home communities while upgrading/improving their skill levels.
This project will give the First Nations People in the area the opportunity to get their trades certification and become part of the future labour force to address the sever lack of trades people.
Last but certainly not least, we thank Human Resources Social Development Canada (HRSDC) for funding this important new initiative. We would ask the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to come on side with this important project by providing the additional resources needed to help ensure its success and a trades training school here in Sioux Lookout.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Bob Bruyere
(807) 737-4047 or
First Nations activists erect nine-metre teepee on lawn of Ont. legislature
By JERED STUFFCO - June 25, 2007
John Cutfeet is silhouetted outside the provincial legislature in Toronto, Monday June 25, 2007 after a nine-metre teepee was erected by members of the Grassy Narrows and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nations.
TORONTO (CP) - Activists from two northern Ontario First Nations groups erected a nine-metre teepee on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature Monday, four days before a planned national aboriginal day of protest.
Members of the Grassy Narrows and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nations said they were using the teepee to draw attention to the continued logging and mineral extraction on their traditional lands. "Our traditional territory has been destroyed by forestry operations," said Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister.
"All the trees are gone, all the animals are gone, and there's been no compensation for our people."
Fobister also said the demonstration was intended to educate the public in advance of the day of protest on June 29.
John Cutfeet, a spokesman for the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, said the mining of minerals on traditional lands near Thunder Bay is illegal.
"What we're saying is it's now time for this government to recognize our rights and uphold the laws of this land," he said, noting a Supreme Court of Canada ruling stating that aboriginals must be consulted about resource development on their traditional lands.
David Ramsay, the province's minister of natural resources and aboriginal affairs, insisted his office does consult with aboriginal groups before issuing permits, and he called the matter "a difference of opinion."
He said aboriginal groups and the provincial government have been unable to fully agree over the definition of a consultation, but added his ministry has tried to avoid allocating logging permits near trapping grounds and species migration areas.
Leah Fontaine, a 20-year-old who lives on the Grassy Narrows reserve near Kenora, Ont., travelled to Toronto last week to take part in Monday's protest.
"Our trapping and our wildlife are being destroyed by the logging companies," she said.
Only a few minutes from her home, Fontaine said massive areas of the forest have been clearcut.
But while the area has seen an increase in logging activity, she said none of the economic benefits have reached the reserve, which suffers from 75 per cent unemployment.
"In Grassy, there's maybe only 50 jobs and there's about 800 people there," she said. "It's impossible to find a job."
Grassy Narrows resident Melissa Fobister, 26, said previous efforts by the band to deter logging on their traditional lands have resulted in the logging companies moving to remote locations less easily accessed by roads.
"It's almost like they're being sneaky," she said, adding that the recent birth of her child has motivated her to take action.
"I have a young son, so I just want to protect our lands for him and other future generations."
The protesters did not say how long they planned to keep the teepee in front of the legislature in place.
The demonstration was organized in conjunction with the Rainforest Action Network and Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Immediate Action Needed to Aid First Nation Communities - Families Suffering Third-World Like Conditions in Northern Ontario, Report States
SANDY LAKE FIRST NATION, ON, June 25 - Quick action is needed to help children and families in Northern Ontario who are living in third-world like conditions as a result of poverty, inadequate housing and health concerns, states a report released today by the North-South Partnership for Children, Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win.
"The conditions that people in our communities live in are unacceptable and must be addressed, as a matter of urgency," said Chief Connie Gray McKay of Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation.
In January, under the North-South Partnership, an assessment team of international humanitarian aid experts and others visited the First Nation communities of Webequie and Mishkeegogamang in northwestern Ontario to assess the quality of life for children.
The assessment team included representatives from Save the Children UK, Save the Children US, Save the Children Canada, the Ontario Office of Child and Family Services Advocacy, Tikinagan Child and Family Services, First Nation Chiefs and Elders, community leaders, parents and youth. The community assessment was organized by the North-South Partnership for Children and adapted an assessment model used by international aid agencies in response to emergencies such as earthquakes, drought and famine.
The final community assessment reports document issues of desperate poverty, inadequate housing and community infrastructure, serious health and mental health concerns, barriers to economic development, family and child-care issues, needs for greater opportunities for community participation, and significant gaps in social service programs. Many of these issues are similar to what one might expect to see in developing countries.
"We have come to understand that children and families up north live in desperate conditions," said Nicholas Finney of Save the Children UK, also a leader of the assessment team.
At present, few non-governmental agencies support remote First Nations communities. The community assessments and response plan will help change that by providing an avenue for support through the North-South Partnership, for individuals, companies and organizations who wish to get involved in support of First Nations looking to rebuild their communities. "They can become part of a growing Wee-Chee-Way-Win Caring Circle to improve life for First Nations' children," said Maurice Brubacher, co-chair of the North-South Partnership and member of the assessment team.
"Contributions from Partnership organizations have already touched the lives of many young people in our communities. But, as this recent report indicates, there is much more work that needs to be done to ensure that our children and families have the best opportunities possible," said Chief Scott Jacob of Webequie First Nation.
The community assessments have identified what needs to be done; and the North-South Partnership for Children is creating the means to do it. It is time to work in true partnership with the community members and leaders of First Nation communities to realize their solutions for their children, families and community.
Assessment reports can be obtained at:
The North-South Partnership for Children, Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win is a group of voluntary non-government agencies and First Nations communities formed in 2006 to improve the quality of life of children in remote First Nation communities. The collective goal of the Partnership, as stated in the Partnership Terms of Reference, "is to build a network of caring relationships, learning from one another, and following the lead of First Nation leaders and communities, to create solutions to the urgent conditions and challenges in remote First Nation communities."
For further information: Jennifer Golden, 250 Davisville Avenue, Suite 503, firstname.lastname@example.org,. (416) 325-5672