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



Edmund Metatawabin named to the Order of Canada

A residential school survivor from northeastern Ontario is being named to the Order of Canada.

Metatawabin 1 of 105 new appointments across Canada

CBC News · Posted: Jul 04, 2018 11:33 AM ET | Last Updated: July 4
Edmund Metatawabin, a survivor of St. Anne's residential school in Fort Albany, Ont., is being appointed to the Order of Canada. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A residential school survivor from northeastern Ontario is being named to the Order of Canada.

Edmund Metatawabin, from Fort Albany, is being recognized for his advocacy work on behalf of residential school survivors.

He's also being honoured for his courage in sharing his own story of survival as an author, speaker and teacher.

For more than a century, First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families to attend residential schools. Most were run by churches and funded by the federal government. As a result of being away from their families, students lost their language, culture and family bonds.

Metatawabin was one of thousands of children removed from his home and forced to attend a residential school. 

For years, Métis, First Nations and Inuit children were taken from their families to attend residential schools, including St. Anne's in Fort Albany. (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

He attended St. Anne's Residential School for eight years. Many students were physically and sexually abused.

Metatawabin eventually became chief of Fort Albany and organized a conference for survivors of the school in 1992.

The information shared by the survivors prompted a police investigation the same year. Over the next six years, OPP interviewed 700 victims and witnesses to gather 900 statements about assaults, sexual assaults, suspicious deaths and abuses alleged to have happened between 1941 and 1972.

Eventually, 74 suspects were identified and seven people were charged. Five people were convicted of crimes committed at the residential school. Work is still being done to compensate the survivors.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief Alvin Fiddler says it's important Metatawabin is being recognized. 

Edmund Metatawabin, a residential school survivor, is being honoured for sharing his story and advocacy work on behalf of other survivors. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

"Edmund is a strong advocate for survivors and has worked for years to uncover the abuse that took place at St. Anne's," he said.

"Edmund has been monumental in ensuring that the federal government can no longer hide the shocking truth behind this terrible chapter in Canadian history. His refusal to be silent at a time when the horrors of the Indian Residential School system were not widely acknowledged took tremendous courage."

A ceremony to honour the 105 appoints to the Order of Canada, including Metatawabin, will take place at a later date.

The Order of Canada was created in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievements, dedication to the community and service to the nation.



Groups partner to build fibre optic network to rural Manitoba First Nations

Three organizations have announced they will partner in a joint venture to bring high speed internet via a fibre optic network to rural towns and First Nations in Manitoba.

'It will allow us to to become a part of the world economy'

Lenard Monkman · CBC News · Posted: Jul 04, 2018 9:25 PM ET | Last Updated: 9 hours ago
Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief Christian Sinclair is looking forward to having high speed internet access in his community. (CBC)

Three organizations have announced they will partner in a joint venture to bring high speed internet via a fibre optic network to rural towns and First Nations in Manitoba.

The new partnership will see the three groups — Distinct Infrastructure Group, Clear Sky Connections, and Broadband Communications North — partner into a for-profit corporation known as Clear Sky Indigenous Network.

"With this opportunity coming forward, it will allow us to to become a part of the world economy," said Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief Christian Sinclair.

Sinclair said his First Nation has access to the internet but is looking forward to having high speed internet throughout the area.

The group will continue to work with the Manitoba and federal governments, which pledged in January that there would be an $83.9 million investment into building internet infrastructure in remote and underserved communities.

"We recognize the backbone of the infrastructure is critical to ensure that we maximize the opportunities that are available," said Sinclair.

"That will allow us to capitalize on telehealth, economical development, educational development and many other aspects."

Economic opportunities for First Nations

Broadband Communications North is one of the partners in the new venture. They are a non-profit community-driven network aimed at improving broadband internet services in First Nations communities in Manitoba.

Ken Sanderson, executive director of BCN, said he is looking forward to working with the newly-formed group.

"With all of our expertise, one of the critical challenges that we've seen is the availability of quality backbone infrastructure," said Sanderson.

"That's the critical component that's been missing. If we don't have backbone, we are super limited with what we can do for communities and the demand is far outstripping what's available now."

He has been working with First Nations communities to get consent for the fibre-optic project and sees it as an opportunity for First Nations to own a piece of the network.

"Long gone are the days where we sit back passively and receive services," said Sanderson.

"We need to be actively part of that. This is what a partnership like this represents."

Lisa Clarke is the CEO of Clear Sky Connections. She has been consulting with communities and offering ideas for economic development opportunities. (CBC)

Lisa Clarke, CEO of Clear Sky Connections, said she sees this opportunity as a chance for communities to generate revenues.

"We're just starting the human resources plan for our communities, so that they can start building businesses and training."

The network is being planned in a way that will allow all 63 First Nations in Manitoba to join, but they also plan on partnering with non-Indigenous communities. The funding has yet to be secured, but they are hoping to start building the fibre optic network by next year.



Canadian K-12 and PSE celebrate, reflect upon National Indigenous Peoples day

Postsecondary institutions and associated organizations from across Canada held celebrations, highlighted the contributions of Indigenous scholars, reflected upon historic wrongs, and more in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day last Friday. Flag-raising ceremonies, cultural performances and other events were held across the country, from Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic on the east coast to Royal Roads University on the west. Several institutions announced that they had signed CICAN's Indigenous Education Protocol or hired new Indigenous faculty. K-12 schools across the country also celebrated the day with festivities. The Red Deer Public and Catholic school divisions participated in the first National Aboriginal Day Conference in Red Deer, Alberta; students from elementary and secondary schools in Prince Rupert, BC took part in drumming, live performances and other activities.

York U, TDSB partner on creation of new Wabaan Indigenous Teacher program

York University and the Toronto District School Board have partnered on the creation of a Bachelor of Education with a focus on Indigenous worldviews. The Wabaan Indigenous Teacher Education program will prepare the next generation of teachers to address the needs of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students, families and communities. "Wabaan, which is an Anishinabe (Ojibwa) word meaning "it is tomorrow," draws on the wisdom of ancestral teachings and contemporary leaders to put Indigenous futures into Indigenous hands," said YorkU Faculty of Education Professor Susan Dion, who designed the program. "The curriculum includes attention to contemporary urban, rural and reserve perspectives, and teachings from a dviersity of nations. "The program will include culture camps where students can learn on the land from Indigenous artists and scholars, engage with families, and focus on Indigenous voices. Teacher candidates will also help to shape the curriculum, create resources, and contribute to Indigenous education publications.

YK program facilitates Indigenous engagement for Carleton journalism students

The MasterCard Foundation has contributed $250K to support Stories North, a one-month program that connects Carleton University journalism students with the Yukon's Indigenous communities, reports Nation Talk. The program introduces students to Indigenous cultures and histories while providing education on colonization, reconciliation, traditional knowledge, climate change, resource development, self-governance, and the arts. "Stories North takes its mandate from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 84, 85 and 86 and will foster a greater understanding of the challenges and possibilities that Canada's national reconciliation process represents," said Jennifer Brennan, Associate Director of Canadian Programs at the MasterCard Foundation. Nation Talk reports that participants will work with Northern stakeholders through peer-to-peer learning and workshops to share experiences, teach multimedia storytelling, and contribute to a new multimedia website called Shakat.

QC replaces Secondary III history textbooks to improve depiction of Indigenous peoples

The Quebec government has replaced the Secondary III history textbook with a new version that will "better reflect the Indigenous perspective." The change comes after the two-year history course piloted in 2015-2016 was criticized for failing to reflect the experience of Indigenous peoples. The textbooks were revised and reissued at the request of QC Deputy Education Minister Sylvie Barcelo, who added that the cost of the new textbooks will be covered by the ministry. Robert Gree, head of the Committee for the Enhancement of the Curriculum in Quebec, welcomed the change while also calling on the province to go beyond editing the textbook to make changes to the curriculum itself.

KPDSB Four Directions graduation coach program sees boost to Indigenous graduation rates

The Four Directions First Nations, Metis and Inuit graduation coach program introduced by the Keewatin Patricia District School Board has been boosting graduation rates for Indigenous students from 30% to 77% over four years. The program supports each student while they're enrolled in high school before helping them transition i to nto postsecondary life. "It's become a very tight-knit community within the school and almost a family situation," said FNMI coach Kieran McMonagle. "My favourite conversations to walk into are when my senior students are giving advice to the younger students, based on their experience." Families are encouraged to join the program based on their preferred time frame and comfort level. The program also aims to help Indigenous students overcome barriers through supports such as paying for sports equipment or identifying leadership opportunities. "Working with them for that length of time and being so deeply connected, you're there for their triumphs, their struggles, you see trauma happen and you see them overcome it," explained McMonagle, "so it's been really powerful to invest that time and just help them and see them recognize their potential."

Metis Nation, Canada sign sub-accord focused on improving education, work opportunities

Metis Nation leaders and Government of Canada representatives signed a Metis Nation Skills and Employment Accord in Ottawa earlier this month. The sub-accord will see the MNC and its Governing Members collaborate on providing Metis people with the skills and education necessary for success, helping Metis people find and keep good jobs, position the Metis workforce to meet the demands of the next generation of jobs, and implement a new Metis Nation Labour Market Strategy. A Metis Nation release reports that it is the first sub-accord under the Canada-Metis Nation Accord signed by the Prime Minister and Metis Nation in 2017. "This agreement will change lives of tens of thousands of our Metis citizens. We know that it will fill the gap that exists for our people in Canada's economy in both trades and educational opportunities", stated Metis Nation Minister of Social Development David Chartrand. "Now we have a federal government that understands the steps needed to assist the Metis Nation in becoming a true partner in this economy." 

Queen's, TTO partner on launch of Mohawk Language and Culture Certificate for Tyendinaga community

Queen's Univeristy and Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawken na (TTO) Language and Culturall Centre have partnered on the launch of a Certificate in Mohawk Language and Culture. The certificate will give students knowledge of the Mohawk language and embed them in culturally rich learning experiences. "We have been delivering Mohawk language and culture courses in che Tyendinaga community since 2004," says Callie Hill, Director of TTO. "What is new and unique about this certificate is our partnership with Queen's University and fact that students who complete the certificate will be able to apply their credits towards a degree at Queen's. These university credits are definitely an added bonus for our students." The certificate will be delivered through the Language and Cultural centre, and can be completed over a two-year period. 





Treaty of 1850 makes First Nations full economic partners

By Duke PeltierOpinion
Wed., June 27, 2018

We, as Anishinabek communities of the Robinson Huron Treaty (RHT) are looking forward to sitting down with new Ontario Premier Doug Ford. After he was elected, the Conservative leader said, “We have taken back Ontario,” which we hope to educate him on what that means to First Nations, more specifically to RHT communities.

First Nations and Crown relations have never held such prominence in Canadian political consciousness as it does today, yet the relations have never been so stagnant. Often, while it appears like we are making progress, we are actually moving backwards.

Robinson Huron Treaty Chiefs stand outside a teepee before final arguments began in the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuities case in Sudbury. From left to right are Wikwemikoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier, Wasauksing First Nations Chief Warren Tabobondung, Shawanaga First Nations Chief Wayne Pamajewon, Batchewana First Nations Chief Dean Sayers.  

This is evidenced by a federal government whose prime minister has exclaimed that “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples” yet his government spends record amounts of public dollars fighting First Nations rights in court.

Well before the imposition of the Indian Act in 1876, which was meant to assimilate Indigenous People in Canada, the Crown signed treaties with First Nations with whom they recognized as sovereign nations of this land. Treaties are only made amongst sovereign and independent nations.

For example, the Treaty of Niagara in 1764, ratified the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Canada has said, “In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, many Indigenous Nations and the Crown historically relied on treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their relationship.”

Canada has also said in its recently issued “Principles to Guide the Relationship between Canada and Indigenous Nations” that, “treaties have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation.” We agree with that statement. We are also of the same mind when Canada said, “…historic treaties, like the Robinson Huron Treaty are frameworks for living together, including the modern expression of these relationships.”


Williams Treaties First Nations vote to approve $1.1-billion settlement proposal

By Alex BallingallOttawa Bureau
Wed., June 27, 2018

OTTAWA—Seven First Nations outside Toronto have voted to accept a $1.1-billion settlement deal with the federal and provincial governments to resolve a long-standing treaty dispute.

The proposed settlement was approved by nation members in votes held last Saturday, Scugog Island First Nation Chief Kelly La Rocca confirmed in an email.

The first page of the Williams Treaty with the Mississauga First Nations of Rice, Mud and Scugog Lakes and Alderville.  

La Rocca said the approval is “an important milestone” toward a final settlement that would end decades of court litigation and negotiation over the controversial Williams Treaties of 1923. The seven First Nations have long argued the government unjustly crafted and implemented the treaties, that they were unfairly compensated for their land, and that they never surrendered hunting and fishing rights in the 20th century treaties.

Canada and Ontario still need to complete their own internal approval processes before it can be ratified by all parties, she said, which includes the Alderville, Beausoleil, Chippewas of Georgina Island, Chippewas of Rama, Curve Lake, Hiawatha and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations that are spread out from Georgian Bay to Lake Scugog north of Oshawa.

“We are pleased to report that voters from the seven Williams Treaties communities have approved the proposed settlement agreement,” La Rocca said.

“Negotiated settlements advance reconciliation with First Nations and resolve outstanding issues in a way that respects the rights and interests of First Nations and all Canadians.”

Documents obtained last week by the Star, including a memo to Curve Lake members from the nation’s chief, laid out details of the proposed settlement. Ontario and Canada would provide $1.1 billion to the seven nations, recognize fishing and hunting rights that have been denied by the courts, and grant 312 square kilometres of new land to the communities, the documents said.

The Williams Treaties are different than others in Ontario because they were signed in the 20th century and pertained to land that Chippewas and Mississaugas had never agreed to relinquish, but was already occupied by settler homes, mines and lumber mills.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the proposed settlement in recent days. Ontario’s Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation also did not respond to requests for comment.