Update on things happening in Rotary and indigenous communities, including current events – Rotary luncheons with guest speakers, open community and cultural gatherings, etc.



Portrait of Kent Monkman


Celebrating Aboriginal Canadians

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day. To celebrate we are featuring portraits of prominent First Nations, Inuit and Métis in our gallery.  This collection includes First Nations artist Kent Monkman, Haida artist and a chief of the Haida Nation Jim Hart and Inuk musician Susan Aglukark, just to name a few.
This growing exhibition project is my personal effort to acknowledge the ongoing contributions made by Canada’s indigenous peoples.
The photographs will be on view until July 16th, 2017
V. Tony Hauser Photographer



Portrait of Susan Aglukark




Portrait of Jim Hart



V. Tony Hauser Photographer 
The Omni King Edward Hotel
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Parcel of land is root of contention on Six Nations

Kristine Hill is caught in the crossfire of a land dispute between Six Nations Band Council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy

Kristine Hill, 52, has no intention of leaving 381 acres of farmland after being served an injunction by the Six Nations Elected Band Council.
Kristine Hill, 52, has no intention of leaving 381 acres of farmland after being served an injunction by the Six Nations Elected Band Council.  (Julien Gignac / Toronto Star) | Order this photo  
By Julien GignacStaff Reporter
Wed., June 21, 2017

Kristine Hill drives her mud-caked pickup truck through a bucolic parcel of farmland, where she has cultivated an assortment of crops such as beans, flint corn and tobacco.

Most of the bounty makes its way back to Hill’s home of Six Nations of the Grand River, south of Hamilton and some of the yield is used for traditional ceremonies, she said.

All of this hangs in jeopardy, however. The 52-year-old Mohawk woman last month was handed an unsigned letter from the Six Nations Elected Band Council, instructing her to vacate the area — just west of the reserve’s boundary — or face legal action.

The band council stayed true to its word. Hill, who has farmed the parcel for about three years, faces an injunction. The case is before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario’s Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation confirmed via email.

“It was very disheartening and frustrating,” said Hill. “It’s that basic question: ‘Why me?’ This property is supposed to be held for the people.”

She is caught in the crossfire of infighting between the band council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council — a historic government system made up of five First Nations — which issued a five-year lease to Hill to farm the land.

The Confederacy wants the area to be independent from the Canadian government with no strings attached, in case it’s expropriated. Once a tract of land is given reserve status, the Crown becomes the title holder.

“They (the band council) want it turned into reserve lands under Canada’s Indian Act, and that’s not how those lands were to come back,” said Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton.

Kristine Hill and Terrylynn Brant walk through farmland that is pitting the Haudenosaunee Confederacy against the Six Nations Band Council.
Kristine Hill and Terrylynn Brant walk through farmland that is pitting the Haudenosaunee Confederacy against the Six Nations Band Council.  (Julien Gignac)  

MacNaughton is referring to negotiations entered into between Six Nations and Ontario in 2006 during the climax of the Caledonia standoff, whereby First Nation people erected blockades and occupied a housing development called the Douglas Creek Estates. Ontario attempted to pacify tensions by transferring land, including the 381-acre “Burtch lands,” back to Six Nations.

A former jail on the property was razed and multi-year environmental remediation was undertaken to clean up soil contaminated by asbestos, which the Confederacy helped with, said MacNaughton.

The band council is refusing to acknowledge the arrangement but the Confederacy won’t be swayed, he said.

“We will continue to honour that lease,” said MacNaughton. “It’s a power play because the band council has known that the Confederacy has managed that land for the past 10 years.”

A 2006 letter signed by former Ontario premier David Peterson and addressed to the Confederacy states that “The title of the Burtch lands will be included in the lands rights process of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations/Canada/Ontario. It is the intention that the land title be returned to its original state, its status under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.”

“The proclamation stated the lands are ours to enjoy basically forever . . . as long as the grass grows and water flows,” said MacNaughton. “That agreement was struck in order to take the barricades down at Caledonia and for those Burtch lands to be returned under those terms. In the end, the Confederacy said they will be farmlands.”

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer did not respond to the Star’s requests for comment.

“The use of the land is now a matter internal to the Six Nations community,” a media relations co-ordinator wrote via email. “As the matter is before the courts, any further comment would be inappropriate.”


A federal corporation was established by the band council in late March to amalgamate the Burtch lands. And it’s holding the land in trust until it gains reserve status.

The parcel is sought after by the band council for agricultural purposes, said Lonny Bomberry, director of Lands and Resources at Six Nations, who is overseeing the trust.

“Six Nations elected council and the corporation are saying they’re entitled to the property and that (Hill) is illegally there, trespassing, and are getting a court order to have her removed,” he said.

“(Ontario) said they were returning the land to Six Nations, they didn’t say to the Confederacy. The Confederacy doesn’t own the land, so I don’t know how you can have the authority to give a lease to anybody. It’s just all self-serving action by them.”

Issues like these have had a tendency to “rear their heads” ever since 1924 when Confederacy chiefs were replaced by an elected system under the Indian Act, he added.

“Everybody puts a different slant on it,” said Bomberry, adding that both the elected council and the Confederacy were negotiating with the province.

“Elected council gave the Confederacy the authority to negotiate a resolution (of Douglas Creek Estates).”

Hill appears unfazed as she describes the land snafu, comparing it to an irksome mosquito.

“From my perspective, I continue,” she said. “I have a significant investment in this property.

“(The band council) knew I had a lease because it was public information, and decisions were made without consulting the community. Ontario is maintaining their hold on the reins and they’re using the Six Nations elected council to do it. I didn’t believe my fight would be with my own people.”



In deference to Indigenous peoples, Trudeau strips ‘Langevin Block’ name from PM’s office

Prime minister renames building that houses his office out of respect for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Langevin Block loses its name. It will now be called the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office.
Langevin Block loses its name. It will now be called the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office.  (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)  
By Bruce Campion-SmithOttawa Bureau
Wed., June 21, 2017

OTTAWA—For decades, “Langevin Block” has been at the centre of Canadian politics.

As home to the office of the prime minister and the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic wing that supports it, the copper-roofed limestone building across from Parliament Hill is a symbol of political power.

Yet for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, the building has served as a different sort of symbol — a reminder of a dark chapter in the country’s history, a particularly heinous time of racism.

The building is named after Hector Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation and member of Sir John A. Macdonald’s cabinet.

But Langevin was also a proponent of the residential school system that stripped Indigenous children from their parents and communities.

Those schools were set up to forcibly assimilate First Nations, Inuit and Métis children into the mainstream by denying them access to their communities and culture, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that troubled past and said the building would be stripped of its name, becoming, instead the “Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office.”

“We’ve heard from you and the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and from many Indigenous communities over the past year that there is a deep pain in knowing that that building carries a name so closely associated with the horror of residential schools,” Trudeau said.

“Keeping that name on the prime minister’s office is inconsistent with the values of our government. It is inconsistent with our vision of a strong partnership with Indigenous peoples in Canada,” he said.

The new functional name might lack the cachet of Britain’s 10 Downing Street or the U.S. White House. But no longer will it stand as an offensive reminder to a segment of the Canadian population.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, voiced his gratitude for the gesture.

“Thank you so much for changing that name,” Bellegarde said. “That’s a big thing, because that is part of reconciliation. That is part of rebuilding that nation-to-nation relationship.”

As previously reported by the Star, Trudeau confirmed that the former site of the U.S. embassy, occupying pride of place across from Parliament Hill, would be transformed into a space for Indigenous peoples.

He said he hoped the building would become an important symbol of the changing relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples.

Speaking outside the old embassy site, on a stretch of Wellington St. that had been closed for traffic, Trudeau highlighted the building’s prominent location.

“Look at where we are, across from the Peace Tower, in front of the eternal flame, at the very heart of our country’s seat of government,” he said.

“Millions of Canadians and their families will visit . . . and see that indeed no relationship is more important to this government than that with Indigenous peoples,” Trudeau said.

Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, praised the move but said much work lies ahead before the building is re-opened in its new mission.

“I want to recognize the hard work it will take between Inuit, First Nations and Métis to make this a success and to bring together groups to understand what the best use will be for us,” Obed said.

The announcements were made on National Aboriginal Day, although, in future, it would be renamed, too, Trudeau said, and would become National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Speeches at the event were interspersed by traditional drumming, dancing and singing.

The prime minister noted that as Canada marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation “not everyone will be celebrating.”

“In the spirit of reconciliation, it is important to understand why,” Trudeau said.

“For too long, First nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation have been ignored in the decision-making of this country while having their rights denied,” Trudeau said.

“It took 400 years to create these problems. They will take time to solve,” he said.

Built between 1883 and 1889, Langevin Block was the first building purpose-built off Parliament Hill by the federal government to handle its growing operations, according to its historic designation.

It originally housed the several federal departments but, by 1977 it had been renovated for the offices of the prime minister and the Privy Council Office.



Celebrating the longest day and the first inhabitants: Bellegarde

On National Aboriginal Day and the summer solstice its important to thank Mother Earth for her gifts and to celebrate Indigenous languages, cultures and ceremonies, which have persevered and prevailed despite decades of concerted effort to eradicate them.

Eagle staff carrier Bernard Nelson  stands amid dancers during National Aboriginal Day festivities in 2015. The Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor Pow Wow was held at Fort York in Toronto.
Eagle staff carrier Bernard Nelson stands amid dancers during National Aboriginal Day festivities in 2015. The Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor Pow Wow was held at Fort York in Toronto.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star) | Order this photo  
By Perry Bellegarde
Wed., June 21, 2017

The summer solstice is a day that Indigenous peoples around the world have celebrated for thousands of years. The Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted as close as it gets toward the sun, and we enjoy the longest day of light in the year.

Across the land, First Nations will gather and share in ceremonies and traditions that have been carried out for thousands of years. We gather to celebrate and to thank Mother Earth for her gifts. And we gather to celebrate our languages, cultures and ceremonies, which have persevered and prevailed despite decades of concerted effort to eradicate them.

In Canada on June 21st, the summer solstice celebration has become National Aboriginal Day, a day of celebration for the contributions and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

As these lands have changed, so too have the peoples and nations upon them. It was the land itself that taught us how to survive here. And our teachings of survival, of fitting into an environment, of adapting to the lessons of creation are all still valid and effective today, even with the introduction of the concrete environment.

I often explain to Canadians the symbols on the treaty medals given to the numbered treaty chiefs when those treaties were being made.

The figures of an Indigenous man and a non-Indigenous person shaking hands, with a hatchet buried in the ground between them, came to represent the meaning behind treaty-making — that peaceful coexistence and mutual respect would and should guide our relationship forward.

It is a meeting of two equals, who both came to the negotiating table with their own laws, legal systems and traditions that made treaty-making with their new neighbours a legal requirement. The treaty was not meant to extinguish First Nation rights, but to recognize that First Nations’ ways of life, including our legal systems and ways of governance, were protected and would continue and develop alongside the legal system of Canadians.

June 21st is an appropriate day to think about the path we are now on and the movement toward basing the Canadian-First Nation relationship on the true recognition of the inherent rights, title and jurisdiction of First Nation peoples and nations.


In 2017, treaty and trade are still dominant themes of relationships between nations. And today, First Nations have rights and interests, and our place as nations and distinct peoples in the global dialogue on the economy, trade, the environment and human rights.

The United Nations and Canada have in clear terms affirmed our international status as nations and peoples with the right to self-determination, which includes the right to benefit and prosper from the wealth of our lands while carrying out our sacred responsibilities to protect Mother Earth.

Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, many Canadians have responded enthusiastically and have taken steps to learn, and sometimes relearn, the history of the relationship between Canadians and First Nations.

Many people ask how we can overcome our difficult shared history and forge a new, brighter future for First Nations peoples. Reconciliation means returning to a relationship where Indigenous peoples can once again express our own unique nations, laws, languages, governance and spirituality.

Revitalizing First Nations languages, the original languages of these lands, is a vital part of reconciliation. It may seem a challenging task, but the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides the framework for rights realization and reconciliation that is respectful and peaceful coexistence — and an end to colonial mindsets and discriminatory attitudes.

That is why the declaration is at the core of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ calls to action. The next step is to work with us to develop a national action plan for implementation, as required by Canada’s international obligations and recent commitments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Today, First Nations celebrate our resilience, our many contributions and our languages, knowledge traditions, laws, songs, dance and ceremonies. First Nations are an enduring presence in this land and have been since time immemorial.

We are inseparable part of these lands; the past, the present and the future. We are here. We always have been, and we always will be.

Perry Bellegarde is the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, which represents more than 900,000 people living in 634 First Nation communities and in cities and towns across the country.



House of Commons report on Indigenous suicide issues 28 recommendations

The committee is urging the federal government to make sure communities have available resources after hours and on weekends, when emergencies often occur.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, speaks on June 19 regarding the committee's ninth report, which examined suicide in Indigenous communities. The committee issued 28 recommendations for the federal government, many of which focus on Indigenous youth and mental health.
MaryAnn Mihychuk, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, speaks on June 19 regarding the committee's ninth report, which examined suicide in Indigenous communities. The committee issued 28 recommendations for the federal government, many of which focus on Indigenous youth and mental health.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  
By The Canadian Press
Mon., June 19, 2017

OTTAWA—A House of Commons committee looking at the issue of Indigenous suicide is urging the federal government to make sure Indigenous communities have resources available after hours and on weekends — often when emergencies occur.

The report released Monday included a total of 28 recommendations — work that flowed from a 2016 motion to examine and report on suicide among Indigenous people and communities across the country.

During its study, the committee heard from over 50 Indigenous youth representatives, First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, academics and health organizations.

MPs on the committee say the witnesses — including many young people — shared difficult personal stories of suicide, while also expressing hope that mental health issues within Indigenous communities could be addressed.

Cathy McLeod, a B.C. MP and the Conservative Indigenous affairs critic, said the committee needed to put its differences aside and come up with a unanimous report after hearing “disturbing” testimony.


“We had a father who lost his son who came to our committee and bravely shared his story,” McLeod said.

“We were sitting in Vancouver . . . and we heard from a young girl about her assault at the hands of someone she knew in her community.”

The committee report also said witnesses highlighted how intergenerational trauma is a factor in the suicide crisis.

“It is an important report,” Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in an interview.

“The issue of intergenerational trauma and child abuse is there, but I think we all know we have got to really provide the safety for young people to be able to disclose child abuse and get the appropriate kind of trauma-based care.”

MPs heard about sexual abuse in Indigenous communities during the course of their work, said Liberal MP and committee chair MaryAnn Mihychuk, noting the issue was raised “lightly” due to its extreme sensitivity.

“We have heard and we know that there is significant sexual abuse in Indigenous communities,” she said outside the House of Commons.

The committee’s list of recommendations for the federal government also includes:

  • Making long-term funding investments to improve housing for Indigenous peoples, including addressing homelessness and housing affordability
  • Developing the Indigenous languages strategy with the help of Indigenous communities and groups
  • Establishing a university in Northern Canada in partnership with Indigenous organizations and local governments
  • Making sure that mental health services in Indigenous communities are culturally appropriate and able to provide adequate support for youth
  • Undertaking a complete overhaul of Child and Family Services for Indigenous communities to ensure that more children remain out of foster care and are able to gain a “secure personal cultural identity”