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

 

 

Time to transform First Nations education for success

Our children and their education continue to be a critical priority.

By AFN NATIONAL CHIEF GHISLAIN PICARD
<http://www.hilltimes.com/author/AFN%20National%20Chief%20Ghislain%20Picard> |
Published: Monday, 11/03/2014 12:00 am EST
Last Updated: Monday, 11/03/2014 12:21 am EST

http://www.hilltimes.com/opinion-piece/politics/2014/11/03/time-to-transform-first-nations-education-for-success/40119

MONTREAL—In the coming days, First Nations leaders and experts will be taking a message to Parliamentarians to let them know that our children and their education
continue to be a critical priority. The messages are simple: ensuring success for our children requires First Nations control of First Nations education; First
Nations reject federal legislation Bill C-33 because it is not about First Nations control of education; and First Nations continue to advance their plans to take
responsibility for education and we call on the government to work with us.

First Nations have the right and responsibility to educate our children. This right was confirmed in treaties and articulated in national policy statements like Indian
Control of Indian Education in 1972 and First Nations Control of First Nations Education in 2010.

We hold firm to this position because it works. Where we see First Nations control we see success. The Mi'kmaw school system in Nova Scotia—Mi'kmaq Kina'matnewey— boasts a secondary school graduation rate near 90 per cent, exceeding provincial and national averages, fostering students fluent in mainstream curriculum and their own language and culture. There are others, like the Cree School Board in James Bay and the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation.

First Nations education is a right, and it is the right approach.

This is why First Nations reject Bill C-33. Its name aside, it does not provide for First Nations control.

First Nations set out five key components essential for genuine First Nations control of First Nations education. We have been very public in sharing these
principles, yet Bill C-33 fails to address them.

Read more...

1-"I'm not the Indian Prime Minister": Atleo responds to secret education agreement with Harper

Cara McKenna, APTN National News, October 30 - Former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo responded Thursday to a secret education agreement he signed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper months before the controversial First Nation Control of First Nations Education Act was tabled in Parliament, igniting a
firestorm of criticism that led to Atleo's resignation in May. The document, filed in Federal Court in September, outlines the framework and name of the now-shelved
First Nations Education Act. It was signed Feb. 3 by Harper, Atleo, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and former Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne
Wouters. Atleo said in an interview Thursday that, at the time, he was pressing Harper about First Nations education, and understood the federal government would be responding positively to five educational priorities put forward by chiefs. "The details of which I was not a party to," he said. Atleo said that only governments
can forge deals with other governments, and that he wants to clarify his role was not legislative. "I always said over and over again, 'I'm not the Indian Prime
Minister,' when I was in my former job as National Chief," he said. "My work, as I followed the instructions by resolution, was to do exactly (what I did), and an
important decision on my part. Recognizing the tasks that I felt the chiefs has sent me to Ottawa to do, I had accomplished." APTN National News earlier reported that Atleo never told chiefs about the document. Two AFN regional chiefs also reportedly didn't attend a Feb. 7 announcement at the Blood Tribe reserve where Harper and Atleo announced a "historic agreement" on education because of the lack of information. During the announcement, neither Harper nor Atleo mentioned that the draft proposal of the upcoming bill – "Bill C/S-X, First Nation Control of First Nations Education Act" – existed. In May, Atleo resigned suddenly after many chiefs  outright rejected the legislation, which now sits in limbo with $1.9 billion in funding. He has since kept a low profile, but at a press conference at Vancouver
Island University in Nanaimo on Oct. 30, B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced Atleo is now taking on a new academic role working indirectly for the provincial
government as Canada's first "Speaker for Indigenous Dialogue." The job will involve leading sessions between corporations, local governments and First Nations on
various issues including resource development and land rights. Clark said Atleo has become "a great friend" and "a really outstanding example of how people of First
Nations ancestry can bring both their traditional outlook ... and at the same time grasp the opportunities for economic growth." "We are very focused on trying to
build partnerships in a respectful way," Clark said. "We need to hear each other's stories if we want to ensure those relationships work. The speaker's role is to lead
the development of dialogue sessions, research and public policy." Atleo, who will be working through VIU's newly formed Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and
Reconciliation in Nanaimo, said his first role will be listening to what people have to say. He is also currently doing academic work out of the University of Toronto.

Read more...

1-Premier enlists Shawn Atleo to improve aboriginal relations

Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Sun October 29 - Rob ShawPremier Christy Clark has tapped former national aboriginal leader Shawn Atleo to lead a new round of talks between First Nations, governments and the business community during a contentious time for aboriginal relations in the province, The Vancouver Sun has learned. Clark will make the announcement in Nanaimo on Thursday, proclaiming Atleo, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, as British Columbia's new "Shqwi qwal (Speaker) for Indigenous Dialogue." The new position, which B.C. is billing as the first of its kind in Canada, will see Atleo travel the province to kickstart "dialogue sessions" about priorities between First Nations, local leaders and corporations, according to details obtained by The Sun. The move comes at a key time for
aboriginal relations in B.C., as the issues of oil pipelines, liquefied natural gas plants and aboriginal land title court rulings create questions and conflict between
the business community, First Nations, Victoria and Ottawa. Clark's government has banked its political future on the development of an LNG industry, but many of the companies proposing to spend billions of dollars on LNG terminals also need to strike deals with First Nations groups to build natural gas pipelines and facilities
on sensitive traditional territories in B.C.'s northwest region. Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline between Alberta and B.C.'s coast has also sharply
divided the province, with some First Nations leaders threatening to block the project in court over concerns about the environmental risk from a pipeline leak or
an oil tanker spill. Atleo's appointment is also in response to aboriginal leaders who have called on Clark and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to re-engage First
Nations communities with more respect after the Tsilhqot'in nation's landmark victory on land title rights at the Supreme Court of Canada earlier this year. Atleo
will produce a series of research and public policy papers on economic and social issues identified from his meetings. He's not working directly for Clark, nor is he
expected to be parachuted into conflicts between companies and First Nations to try to sort out disputes on behalf of the government. Instead, the B.C. government will provide funding to Vancouver Island University, which will host Atleo as part of the university's Centre for pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, according to details obtained by The Sun. Atleo served as head of the Assembly of First Nations from 2009 until May when he abruptly quit amid a brewing internal revolt over his support of a proposed federal bill on First Nations education. He has maintained a relatively low profile since his departure. He took time off to travel the United
States alone on a motorcycle, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network recently reported, and was spotted in his home territory of Port Alberni earlier this month
where he declared he'd had enough of Ottawa. Atleo is a hereditary chief from the Ahousaht First Nation. He also serves as a distinguished fellow in indigenous
education at the University of Toronto.

Read more...

1-Jobs vs. the environment: First Nations face a tough choice

Wendy Stueck , The Globe and Mail, October 28 - For the past few years, British Columbia's Moricetown Indian Band has mulled whether to join 15 other First Nation groups who have teamed up to get a stake in the Kitimat LNG Project and pipe-line. A large plant and export terminal, spearheaded by California-based Chevron, would ship up to 10 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas from Bish Cove, near Kitimat, on the province's northwest coast. The band is weighing the nvironmental and cultural risks against the prospect of jobs, training and millions of dollars worth of other benefits for its 2,000 members.  In recent months, those conversations have often hung on another thread: a June Supreme Court of Canada decision that recognized aboriginal title over more than 1,700 square kilometres of territory in Interior B.C. The case dates back to the 1980s, when the province authorized logging on lands B.C.'s Tsilhqot'in Nation considered their own. The decision was the first in Canada to confirm aboriginal title to a specific tract of land, and set off a flurry of speculation about what it might mean for other First
Nations, and for resource companies that want to build pipelines, plants or other projects in areas subject to unresolved land claims.  The implications loom larger in B.C. than in other provinces. Only a handful of its First Nations have signed land treaties, but companies are now scrambling to build new pipelines that would carry liquefied natural gas, oil and bitumen through traditional native territories. Decades of court rulings have already underscored the duty of provincial and federal
governments to consult and accommodate aboriginal interests.  First Nations believe they now have more leverage in negotiations. "Whether it is a yes or no, the [decision] strengthens a First Nation's ability to say yes or no," says Trevor Jang, a communications officer for the Moricetown band. The ruling augments a landmark 1997 Supreme Court of Canada case, known as Delgamuukw, that confirmed that aboriginal title exists in B.C. "It added to what we already had and solidified what we have known all along," says Jang.  The band is feeling more confident as it debates whether to join the First Nations Limited Partnership (FNLP). Last year, the partnership agreed to support the Kitimat LNG project, and the associated Pacific Trail Pipeline, in exchange for $200-million worth of benefits.  The Tsilhqot'in decision will raise the stakes in other negotiations as well. Corporations will now be under pressure to sweeten the terms of deals they offer to aboriginal partners. There are currently 17 proposals for LNG projects at various stages in B.C., and two pitches for large coastal oil refineries. Albert Hudec, a partner with the Vancouver law firm Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy, who represents some FNLP members, says that the decision "shifts the balance of negotiating power."  But whether First Nations are inclined to say yes or no to a project, the ruling also presents them with a dilemma: Should they start by negotiating with industry? Or should they head to court first in an attempt to secure aboriginal title to land, which can be a very long and expensive process?  Even before the decision, some corporations in B.C. and Alberta recognized the upside of working with First Nations through joint ventures, royalty agreements or equity deals. Calgary-based Cenovus Energy has struck five long-term agreements with aboriginal communities for oil sands projects since the company was formed in 2009. The exact terms of those agreements haven't been disclosed, but they spell out how communities are to be consulted, and include money for education, training and other purposes. The company has also concluded more than $1-billion worth of deals with First Nations and Métis companies for construction, supplies and services.  Beverley Clifton Percival, a negotiator who represents the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs of northwestern B.C. in treaty talks with the provincial and federal governments, says companies will now have to treat First Nations like true partners, not just as activist groups that can be bought off with a relatively small investment. "We have proprietary interests in the land,
water, air and resources across 33,000 square kilometres. You have some people who are trying to make moves on that [land], but they are going to have to get consent from the titleholders," she says.  But legal experts say that First Nations still do not have a veto. Under Canadian law, including the Tsilhqot'in decision, governments can infringe on aboriginal rights if a broader public interest can be proved. Ottawa reinforced that position in a Sept. 22 statement in which it responded to an "outcome document" from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The document calls for "free, prior and informed consent" from indigenous peoples before adopting legislation or regulations that may affect them. The Harper government says that "could be interpreted as providing a veto to aboriginal groups and in that regard, cannot be reconciled with Canadian law."  Former Liberal MP Bob Rae, who is chairman of the board for the 15-member FNLP, says that Ottawa's response is disappointing and "unhelpful." "The reality is most companies and most thoughtful governments realize that without First Nations' active participation and consent, resource development will not happen. And if the federal government keeps returning to this mantra of, 'well, we can do whatever we like'.that sets us on the path to confrontation."  Rae added that "the whole purpose of what the courts have been saying is that it is important to avoid confrontation. And the way you avoid confrontation is recognizing that there are rights on all sides, and there needs to be a meeting of minds on how to go forward."

Read more...

 Ottawa moves closer on DNA database

Kathryn Blaze Carlson  <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/kathryn-blaze-carlson> OTTAWA - The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Oct. 27 2014, 11:21 AM EDT Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 28  2014, 7:44 AM EDT

Ottawa is one step closer to creating a DNA-based national missing-persons tool it says will assist coroners and police in solving cases and identifying human remains - a victory for families who have long pressed for the database despite privacy concerns and funding obstacles.

The proposed legislation, introduced in the Conservatives' latest budget bill, is the culmination of more than a decade of advocacy by those calling for a system that can compare missing persons' DNA with samples culled from unidentified human remains. Victims' families say the national database will give them the comfort of knowing that if their missing loved one is in a morgue somewhere, at least they'll know.

Judy Peterson, whose daughter disappeared at the age of 14 in 1993, has been a key proponent of the measure and was on hand at the government's
announcement in Ottawa on Monday. "When I understood that I couldn't put Lindsey's DNA into a databank to find out if her remains were anywhere in
Canada, I was horrified," she said. "I'm absolutely thrilled to see the legislation in print."

The budget bill is aimed at creating a missing-persons index, a human-remains index and an index for relatives whose profiles may be valuable in locating loved ones or identifying remains. The new indexes will be housed within the RCMP's National DNA Data Bank facility, which already holds a crime-scene index and a convicted-offenders index.

The legislation says profiles uploaded to the missing-persons index and the human-remains index can be compared against those in the crime-scene index
and the convicted-offenders index - a move that could set up a battle with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which said it doesn't object to a missing-persons database so long as it's tightly secured and independent from the criminal indexes.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office told The Globe and Mail it is reviewing the proposed amendments to the DNA Identification Act and will be looking
closely at the relationship between the new indexes and the existing criminal ones. The Criminal Lawyers' Association has also raised concerns about linking the various indexes, saying it's possible an intentionally "missing" person's DNA could innocently end up at a crime scene. The association argues police might then become aware of that person's whereabouts, infringing on privacy rights.

Ms. Peterson defended the government's plans, saying she wants to look for Lindsey in the crime-scene index because if her daughter was killed but no
remains were found, then it's possible a trace of Lindsey is in that index.

The proposed legislation also comes amid immense pressure on Ottawa to do more to tackle the issue of Canada's more than 1,181 murdered and missing
aboriginal women.

Read more...