We need to listen to Native leaders
By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD -- Sun Media - June 14, 2007
PICKLE LAKE (Sun Media) -- It was the children who captured the heart of Governor General Michaelle Jean on her first visit to a remote Ontario aboriginal community.
At a small welcoming ceremony at Pickle Lake airport, it seemed as if everyone in this tiny, isolated community 2,200 km northeast of Toronto had turned out to meet her.
The Canadian Rangers, an aboriginal group attached to the military, stood stoically on the sweltering tarmac awaiting Jean's inspection.
School children waited patiently, carefully holding up a Canadian flag for the vice-regal visitor.
On cue, they burst into a heartfelt rendition of O Canada. They waved their flag and sang at the top of their lungs for her.
It touched the hearts of the visitors not just, I suspect, because adorable children doing lovely things always touch our hearts.
In this case, you also look at their young faces and wonder whether that flag and the government it represents deserve such passionate loyalty from this group of disadvantaged children.
Poverty is intense in isolated aboriginal communities. You see the ramshackle homes, the poorly-equipped schools and you come to the conclusion this is our Third World -- in the backyard of a First World country.
That's the view of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy, who was on hand in neighbouring Mishkeegogaman First Nation, where 134 chiefs from around the province welcomed Jean to their annual three-day conference. He noted that the 100th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 9, which established his nation, happened two years ago -- so a visit from a government official is overdue to celebrate the centenary.
That said, he's glad Jean battled the blackflies to meet with them.
The Grand Chief added that treaties have worked well for the rest of us in the province -- but not for aboriginals: "Canada and Ontario have benefitted greatly from the agreement we made 100 years ago, but from our side, we haven't benefitted at all."
Beardy isn't a hothead. We should take heed when he says he'd like to see First Nations people share in the rich resource revenues. They need a cut of the economic pie.
Aboriginal young people want training in mining, forestry and the pulp and paper business but Beardy points to the De Beers diamond mine near the James Bay aboriginal community of Attawapiskat as an example of goverment meddling.
First Nations leaders negotiated a revenue-sharing deal directly with the multinational diamond company. But those revenues have now been sharply reduced by a massive hike in mining royalties announced in Finance Minister Greg Sorbara's spring budget.
Beardy represents 50 communities over a 5-million hectare area. Two-thirds of the population is under 29 and unemployment in that age group is 85%.
In Ottawa, Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice announced a new process to speed up land claims this week.
At least it's a start.
Beardy says the native Day of Action June 29 isn't about blockades and disruption. He hopes it will be an opportunity to peacefully educate the rest of the country about the disgraceful conditions on remote reserves.
"I hope we can create awareness for the general public that yes, there are treaties that are legally binding," Beardy said.
We should listen to him. Then when aboriginal children like those at Pickle Lake proudly wave their red maple leaf, we can look them in the eye and tell them we will not fail them.
Natives benefit in casino deal
By CHINTA PUXLEY - June 14, 2007
TORONTO (CP) - Ontario's aboriginal communities could get $2.5 billion over the next 20 years for community health care, education and infrastructure under a new proposed deal to share revenue from provincial lotteries and casinos.
Provincial negotiators say the deal, if ratified by Ontario chiefs when they put it to a vote June 18, would be the first agreement of its kind in Canada since it gives 133 aboriginal communities a cut of the province's gaming revenue.
The deal would also give First Nations representation on the board of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., giving them a say in how the organization is run. Ontario chiefs would in turn agree to drop an ongoing lawsuit against the province regarding casino revenues.
"This is a huge deal," said former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson, the province's chief negotiator.
"It's a big, big, big pile of money. It's a flow of money into these communities the likes of which they haven't had. It's stable. They can count on it for education, for water, for all the things that are so important in the communities."
Under the current deal, which expires in 2011, some aboriginal communities get a cut of the revenue generated by Casino Rama near Orillia, Ont., which works out to an average of $60 million a year.
Under the proposed agreement, the 133 aboriginal communities would get a cut of all the provincial cash that comes from gaming, essentially doubling their annual revenue share to about $125 million.
Communities would get $112 million immediately upon signing the deal.
"This is groundbreaking," said Peterson, who has been negotiating the deal since February 2005. "It is a brand new partnership with the aboriginal communities. . . . I think the rest of the country can look at this and say this is something we can be very proud of."
Sharing gaming revenue has been a thorny issue for governments of all stripes in Ontario. Casino Rama was originally set up as a First Nations Casino with revenue going to communities within the Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership.
A 20 per cent "win tax" - imposed on Casino Rama by the former Conservative government in 1996 - prompted several lawsuits from aboriginal communities and Ontario chiefs, claiming the government was not entitled to a cut of the casino profits.
Harvey Yesno, chair of the First Nations partnership, said chiefs are split on whether they want to continue with the lawsuit or settle for a stable source of revenue.
"This deal is not a slam dunk by any stretch," said Yesno, adding it has to be approved by a two-thirds majority. "There are some serious concerns. There is going to be a debate."
Some chiefs feel the $2.5 billion isn't that much when they look at how much the province rakes in from its lotteries and casinos, he said.
The cash communities have received from the current agreement has been put to good use and has been used to leverage even more money for community centres and health promotion, Yesno said.
Other chiefs, however, are looking for more than just money, he added.
"This is just one more source of revenue," Yesno said. "It's also about the relationship between the province and the First Nations. That's part and parcel of the whole arrangement."
David Ramsay, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, said he knows chiefs have mixed feelings about the proposed deal because some would like aboriginals to have complete jurisdiction over gaming in Ontario.
But Ramsay said he's still hopeful the deal will be ratified since the money would make a huge difference to the province's aboriginal communities.
"It's really badly needed money and I hope there is a positive outcome," he said.
New Democrat Gilles Bisson said $2.5 billion is little more than an easy way for the province to avoid costly lawsuits.
It may sound like a lot of money, but Bisson said it doesn't make up for the cash taken over the last decade by the province through the win tax, nor does it address the desperate need of many aboriginal communities.
Over 60 northern aboriginal communities don't have potable water and most don't have adequate sewer systems or proper housing, he said.
"People need to understand that $2.5 billion over 20 years is a drop in the bucket towards the needs of those communities," he said. "This is obviously needed money but it doesn't undo the damage that's been done up until now."
AFN Media Advisory ...
Conference on the Canadian Truth Commission on Indian Residential Schools
OTTAWA, June 14 - Beginning tomorrow, Friday, to Monday, June 17, the University of Calgary and the Assembly of First Nations will co-host a unique and very important conference to address the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission which begins its work this fall.
The Truth Commission is one part of the comprehensive settlement reached between the AFN, the residential school survivors, the churches and the government of Canada to settle thousands of claims brought in the courts for sexual and physical abuse as well as for loss of language and culture which occurred over several generations of students.
News conference to be held at 10: 45 a.m. (Mountain Time) tomorrow, Fri., Jun.15/07
MacEwan Hall Ballroom (2nd floor MacEwan Hall), University of Calgary
Present will be Conference Co-chairs:
National Chief Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations
Kathleen Mahoney, Professor, Faculty of Law
Bob Watts, Interim Executive Director, Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Available for comment/interviews:
Lisa Magarrell, International Centre for Transitional Justice
Rev. Bongani Finca, formerly of South African Truth Commission
Other Key Note speakers include: Minister Jim Prentice, Piers Pigou (South Africa), Dr. Sophia Macher (Peru), Mary Raftery (Ireland), Michael Enright (CBC), and others.
For further information: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243, (613) 298-6382, email@example.com;. Kim Reinhart, University of Calgary, Bus: (403) 239-8982, Cell: (403) 861-2065, firstname.lastname@example.org;. Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789 ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, email@example.com.
From the conference web site at http://www.truthcommissionconference.org
On June 14 - 17, 2007, the U of C Faculty of Law and the AFN will host a national, interdisciplinary conference on this historic Truth Commission which begins its work later this year. The conference is designed to engage and inform survivors, and the general non-Aboriginal public about the Commission’s mandate, and how they can participate. Conference delegates will discuss such topics as:
The conference will simultaneously seek extensive input and recommendations on the various elements of the Commission and its future work, including strategies that will ensure maximum participation in the Truth Commission.
Additional links to Residential School information:
Press Release ...
Superior Initiates Diamond Drill Program, Canopener Gold Joint Venture, Lansdowne House Area, Northwestern Ontario
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(June 14, 2007) - Superior Diamonds Inc. (TSX VENTURE:SUP) ("Superior" or the "Company") is pleased to announce commencement of a first phase diamond drill program on its 50%-owned Canopener Property, located near Lansdowne House, Northwestern Ontario. Superior's joint venture partner is Lake Shore Gold Corp.(1). This program was initiated once an agreement was reached with the Neskantaga First Nation, upon whose traditional territory the Canopener property occurs.
As previously reported, the interest in this area for gold was sparked by the recovery of anomalous numbers of total gold grains from overburden samples, including anomalous values of pristine gold grains. (Gold, being relatively soft, remains as pristine grains for only a short distance from its source.) These samples, part of a regional sampling program, were originally collected to evaluate the area for its diamond potential. When Superior analysed the results of the overburden sampling program, it identified two significant and well defined gold grain dispersal trains. In addition, there were several single samples with anomalous gold grain values that did not appear to be associated with dispersal trains.
These anomalous gold grain values are associated with shear structures that occur within the Peeagwon metavolcanic assemblage of the Wunnummin Greenstone Belt. This belt is considered under-explored for gold. The Canopener property strategically covers a significant area of these shear structures from which the individual anomalous gold grain values and gold grain dispersal trains are thought to have been derived and within which several gold showings have been previously identified.
This purpose of this first phase of diamond drilling is to gain a better understanding of the local geology and to test some of the gold showings. Nine to twelve holes are planned and drilling should be completed by mid- to late July. A program to collect 200 to 250 overburden samples is planned to follow, for completion by mid-August. The purpose of this program is to: a) determine if there are other gold grain dispersal trains on the Canopener property, and b) determine if the single samples with anomalous gold grain values are part of other gold grain dispersal trains. Once the data from the first phase of diamond drilling and overburden sampling has been compiled and interpreted, Superior is anticipating a more extensive diamond drill program in early 2008.
About Superior Diamonds
Superior Diamonds is a junior Canadian exploration company, primarily searching for diamonds in the under-explored and highly prospective regions of the Canadian Shield within the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Over a period of just three years, Superior's highly skilled team has defined four promising target areas through grass roots exploration, and is now focused on prioritizing these targets for drilling. To diversify risk and balance its portfolio, the Company has adopted a strategy to explore for other commodities where it has a proven track record of expertise, including uranium. The Company is a reporting issuer in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol SUP.
Superior Diamonds is owned 13.0% by Southwestern Resources Corp. and 10.8% by FNX Mining Company Inc.
Statements in this release that are forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties concerning the specific factors disclosed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. Such information contained herein represents management's best judgment as of the date hereof based on information currently available. The Company does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
(1) For details, see Superior's news release dated January 15, 2007, available at www.superiordiamonds.ca.
The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
For more information, please contact
Superior Diamonds Inc.
John G. Paterson
(604) 688-5175 (FAX)