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./