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



‘There is no reconciliation in Canada unless there’s justice for St. Anne’s survivors’

B.C. Supreme Court decision seen as setback for St. Anne’s residential school students as judge rules new evidence isn’t enough to reopen compensation cases.

In 2000, more than 150 former students joined civil suits against Ottawa and the Catholic Church, which ran St. Anne’s for almost 70 years.
In 2000, more than 150 former students joined civil suits against Ottawa and the Catholic Church, which ran St. Anne’s for almost 70 years.  (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)  
By Alex BallingallOttawa Bureau
Fri., Jan. 19, 2018

OTTAWA—A lawyer representing former residential school students says a judicial ruling this week will make it harder for people with “valid claims” to get fair compensation for the hardships they suffered.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown ruled on Wednesday that former students’ compensation claims that have already been closed can’t be reopened if new evidence of abuse comes to light.

“A new hearing may be ordered only where a palpable and overriding error is found,” Brown wrote.

It is the latest twist in a heated, years-long legal battle that pits former residential school students and the Assembly of First Nations against the federal government, and centres on the special Independent Assessment Process (IAP) created in 2006 to settle students’ compensation claims.

The ruling has particular resonance for people who attended the infamous St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., where students have said they were forced to eat their own vomit and children as young as 6 were shocked with an electrified chair.


Trudeau visiting Ontario reserve where chief says housing shortage worse than ever

Dean Owen of Pikangikum First Nation says the backlog of homes needing to be built has doubled since he became chief 13 years ago.

Dean Owen of Pikangikum First Nation says he’s interested in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured, will have to say during his visit.
Dean Owen of Pikangikum First Nation says he’s interested in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured, will have to say during his visit.  (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

PIKANGIKUM, ONT.—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting a remote northwestern Ontario reserve where the chief says a shortage of housing is still a big problem.

Dean Owen of Pikangikum First Nation says the backlog of homes needing to be built has doubled since he became chief 13 years ago.

He says there were 1,800 band members in 2005 and that has grown to 3,100.

Owen says nine and 10 people often share one of the reserve’s existing homes and are forced to sleep in shifts.

Some new homes and a school have been built, but Owen says construction on the reserve is hampered by a lack of electrical capacity.

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The federal government last summer announced up to $60 million in funding to connect Pikangikum to the province’s power grid, and Owen says that should help.

He says he’s interested in what Trudeau will have to say during his visit today.



Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act receives royal assent


The federal Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act has received royal assent as of December 2017, thus enabling Anishinabek communities to create and administer their own education systems. "For so long, having our own education system was a dream, but today we take a step forward on our journey to building a better education and realizing a better future for our Anishinabek youth," said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. The act recognizes the Anishinabek Nation's law-making powers and authority over education offered both on-and off-reserve, from junior kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as its administrative control over funding for PSE. TheAnishinabek Education System is expected to be in place and operational by April 1, 2018.

Yukon permitted to offer undergraduate degree programs

Yukon College has been recognized by the Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC) as being ready to deliver and sustain high quality undergraduate degree programs. The recognition stems from a partnership established earlier this year between the Governments of Yukon and Alberta. "It's almost like a seal of approval that you put on the website, and so everybody can see it, and everybody can see that we met the standard," said Yukon College President Karen Barnes. "That means that our students will have exactly the same opportunities as every university student across the country." The college plans to launch a made-in-Yukon Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance program for Sept 2018. The program would be adapted from the school's current certificate program.

Queen's expands ATEP to full-time model

Queen's University's Faculty of Education is expanding its community-based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) to a full-time model. The new model will provide teacher candidates with greater skills and knowledge to teach in the primary-junior level at First Nations or Ontario provincial schools, and will provide an opportunity to obtain a transitional certificate. Teachers will also now be able to choose between two conentrations: Aboriginal Language Teacher or Northern Teacher. "The introduction of the transitional certificate is an important feature of the program, because many teacher candidates can continue their teaching jobs and apply the teaching time towards their practicum requirement," said Queen's Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies Peter Chin. "While most of the program is delivered in their community, the teacher candidates engage in the Queen's community during their first semester on campus and through the virtual leaning."

 Fishing Lake First Nation to break ground for new, much-needed school in 2018

Fishing Lake First Nation will be breaking ground on a new school this year. CBC explains that the new school was originally discussed with the federal government a decade ago during a treaty land entitlement agreement, but faced a number of delays. In mid-December 2017, however, Chief Derek Sunshine received a letter from Indigenous and Northern Affairs stating that the project would go ahead despite incomplete paperwork. The new school is expected to be completed in two years, and will replace six portable units. "Some of the classrooms are smaller than other," explained Principal Melanie Laplante. "The challenges are there to be able to, as one teacher, to teach and get across to those three grades your curriculum - exactly what you want academically for them to know getting out of the first grade."

MB announces Indigenous Education Roundtables to support FNMI Students

The Manitoba Government announced in December that it would hold a series of full-day Indigenous education roundtables in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson that would seek to strengthen education outcomes for First Nations, Metis and Inuit learners. "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called upon all levels of government to develop culturally appropriate early education programs for Indigenous families, " said MB Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke. "The Manitoba government accepts and embraces this responsibility." The discussions will focus on three major themes: Student and family well-being; early childhood development and kindergarten to Grade 12 education; and adult learning, postsecondary education and the workplace.

USask receives $2M grant to tackle HIV, Hep C among SK First Nations

The University of Saskatchewan has received a $2M grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to bolster a program that aims to tackle HIV, Hepatitus C, and other blood-borne diseases among Saskatchewan First Nation groups. USask researcher Stuart Skinner explained that the Know Your Status program integrates western medicine and traditional Indigenous knowledge, and that it aims to expand local doctors' knowledge and ability to treat infectious diseases. The five-year project involves 50 people, about half of whom are Indigenous community members, chiefs and persons who have personally experienced infections. "This is their program," said Skinner. "The communities themselves, the leaders and the people who are affected are the ones who design the program, design the treatment, and we're just following what they want us to do."

WLU Indigenous Field of Study launches Educator's Certificate in Indigegogy

The Indigenous Field of Study, Masters of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University has announced the launch of The Centre for Indigegoy: Indigenous Centred Wholistic Development. A WLU release notes that Indigegogy is a term coined by Stan Wilson, a Cree elder and educator, which means using Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous ways of learning to create and provide education. The Indigenous Educator's Certificate in Indigegogy is designed for educators who wish to develop the capacity for bringing Indigenous ways of knowing and learning to their curriculum. Educators will then be able to adopt and translate their new knowlege into community specific and culturally relevant contexts within their specific Indigenous territories, traditions, languages, cultures and work place.















B.C. teen creates app to help revive fading Indigenous language

Tessa Erickson of Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation is hoping to encourage young people in her community to learn the local dialect of the Dakelh language, which has been nearly lost.

Tessa Erickson, 15, seen at the July 2017 opening ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games, is creating an app to help revive a nearly lost language.
Tessa Erickson, 15, seen at the July 2017 opening ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games, is creating an app to help revive a nearly lost language.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star file photo)  
By Gemma Karstens-SmithThe Canadian Press
Sun., Jan. 7, 2018

VANCOUVER—A 15-year-old high school student in British Columbia is turning to technology to help address a decades-old problem — how to revive an Indigenous language nearly lost to the residential school system.

Tessa Erickson of the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation is creating an app and organizing a summer camp to help get younger people in her central B.C. community speaking the Nak’azdli dialect of the Dakelh language.

“To me, it’s a bit of a symbol,” she said. “The language is really important to me, personally, because it’s a way to connect with my community and really bridge the gap between the generations.”

Members of her nation were fluent in the dialect about three generations ago, before they were sent to residential schools, Erickson said.

The Grade 10 student said she’s been told generations since then were afraid to teach the language to their children.

“They didn’t want the same experiences they went through to happen to their children if they passed on this language that was kind of looked down upon,” Erickson said.

Languages don’t die naturally but are actively snuffed out, usually by colonial forces, said Mark Turin, chairman of the First Nations and endangered languages program at the University of British Columbia.

Bringing them back is an explicitly activist and political act, and one that is key to reconciliation, he said.


Some wonderful news with a cheque presentation by District 7070 Clubs to Native Child and Family Services (Scarborough).

Jan 2018 BM ad