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

 

 

Closing arguments begin in case of feds paying less for aboriginal kids in care

The Canadian Press  October 20, 2014 11:20 AM

OTTAWA - The First Nations advocate who has been fighting the federal government for nearly a decade over how much money it spends on child welfare says she hopes her experience serves as example.This week marks the final round of Cindy Blackstock's long battle at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to get aboriginal children the same funding from the federal government as non-aboriginal kids get from the provinces.She and the Assembly of First Nations say funding levels for First Nations child welfare agencies are 22 per cent lower than provincial agencies, despite First Nations carrying a far higher case load of child welfare files.Though the government has been aware of the discrepancy, a lack of action on their part prompted Blackstock and the AFN to file a human rights complaint in 2007 alleging the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children on the basis of their race.Closing arguments are underway this week with a decision expected next year.In the course of the fight, Blackstock's personal Facebook profile was mined by the federal government, which led the privacy commissioner to find her rights had been violated.That issue is also before the human rights tribunal which could find that she was retaliated against for speaking out and award her damages.She said she'd donate any money."This is not about money, this is about every Canadian having the right to speak out when they see something that's wrong in ways that are respectful and in ways that are in keeping with our democracy," Blackstock said at a news conference Monday."I'm hoping that people get inspired by my story to not remain silent when they see something that's wrong and needs to change because I'm not going to remain silent no matter what they do."The same year the complaint was filed, the government did change its funding model, promising better outcomes. The Conservatives also say they've
increased funding by 25 per cent.Blackstock, who is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said while there has been some improvement, there needs to be much much more. "What we're asking for is the government to implement the solutions it's already identified,"  Blackstock said, pointing to a 2000 joint review carried out by the AFN and the federal government. "It's about doing the right thing for the children and stop using racial discrimination against children as a fiscal restraint measure. I think that goes against everything the country stands for."Statistics Canada estimates that about half of children in foster care in Canada are aboriginal, with nearly four per cent of aboriginal children in care.The Conservatives had at first successfully argued the tribunal
shouldn't hear the complaint because it's unfair to compare federal and provincial programs.But the Federal Court disagreed and ordered the tribunal to proceed.Their ruling next year could affect not just aboriginal children but also open the door for discrimination cases on issues such as aboriginal policing and health.

Rights case on reserves' child care nearing end

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS By: Mia Rabson

Posted: 10/21/2014 1:00 AM |

OTTAWA -- A seven-year-old human rights complaint over the funding of child-welfare services on reserves is hitting the home stretch this week. Parties began making closing arguments at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearings Monday and will continue throughout the week. "It's very frustrating that time and time again we have to look to the courts," said Ghislain Picard, acting national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

The case was filed in 2007 in the wake of a report that showed federal funding for child-welfare services on First Nations was as much as 22 per cent less than for kids who lived off reserve. Child welfare is a provincial responsibility everywhere except reserves. The discrepancy in funding, reports argue, leads to fewer services on reserves and a higher rate of aboriginal children being taken into care.

Cindy Blackstock, head of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which brought the human rights complaint, said Monday there are more aboriginal children in the care of child services today than there were aboriginal kids in schools at the height of the residential schools era.

There are more than 10,000 kids in care in Manitoba, and more than eight in 10 are aboriginal.

The case has dragged on because of years of legal technicality wrangling, including which body has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Blackstock has launched a complaint with the privacy commissioner after she discovered through an access-to-information request the government had been
tracking her movements both online and in person and generating a file with hundreds of pages about her activities. That included tailing her to speeches, observing her on social media and writing up detailed briefing notes every time she spoke publicly.

She said she believes Ottawa was trying to find a way to discredit her.

Document: Ottawa’s funding shortfall put East Coast FN children at ‘high’ risk of ‘serious harm’
<http://aptn.ca/news/2014/10/20/document-aboriginal-affairs-funding-shortfal l-put-east-coast-fn-children-high-risk-serious-harm/>

National News <http://aptn.ca/news/category/national-news/>  | 20. Oct, 2014
by Jorge Barrera <
http://aptn.ca/news/author/jbarrera/>  | 0 Comments
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*1-**Mi'kmaq First Nations representatives set eel traps as part of natural gas storage project protest*

 *2-**Auditor General of Canada investigates health services on reserves*

*Jody Porter, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364>, Oct 09
-* Officials with the Auditor General of Canada's office are touring remote First Nations in northern Ontario this week as part of their investigation into on-reserve health services. The visit comes as a leader from Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is raising concerns about the deaths of two children who live in remote communities he represents. "This year two 4-year-old children from two NAN First Nations died from strep throat-related issues," deputy grand chief Alvin Fiddler recently told an audience at an Ontario Medical Association event in Thunder Bay. "An illness so treatable that if a child in Thunder Bay had it, it would result in a quick trip to the doctor's office or ER for a swab and antibiotics, and maybe a day or two in bed, watching cartoons and sipping soup. "But these two babies, and their parents, are now the latest victims of a broken health care system in Ontario's North," he said in a prepared speech. Fiddler said a girl died in Pikangikum in January and a boy died in Sandy Lake in May. There are no resident doctors in the 49 isolated communities within the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Health Canada provides nursing care. The department would not confirm to CBC News whether it is doing a review of the children's deaths.  "Our people have extremely limited access to medical  professionals and health service in their communities and face unacceptable barriers that stem from discriminatory policy when they are forced to travel from their First Nations to receive health care in an urban centre like Thunder Bay," Fiddler said. The regional coroner confirmed he is investigating "two deaths of young children that shared some features," one in Sandy Lake and one in Pikangikum. Dr. Michael Wilson said his investigation is not yet closed and may be sent on to Ontario's Patient Safety Review Committee. The auditor general's report is expected to be released in the spring of 2015.

 

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*1-**B.C. Treaty Commission urges First Nations to resolve overlapping land
claims*

*Dene Moore, THE CANADIAN PRESS, October 7 - VANCOUVER -* Despite the
glacial pace of negotiations, the British Columbia treaty process remains a
viable option for First Nations to pursue self-determination, says the
provincial treaty commission. But commissioner Sophie Pierre said Tuesday that
overlapping land claims are an ongoing and thorny issue for negotiations.
"We have consistently identified overlapping claims as one of the biggest
challenges that a First Nation, reaching final agreement, must overcome,"
Pierre said in the commission's annual report. It's a barrier to more than
treaties, she added in an interview. "It's also for all the major
development that's being talked about," Pierre said. "We want everyone to
concentrate right now on finding a process, coming to an agreement on what
we can put into place to support First Nations to reach these agreements
amongst themselves." Well over 100 per cent of B.C. Crown land is claimed
as the traditional territory of one or more of the province's 198 First
Nations. Treaties are even more needed in light of a recent high-court
ruling recognizing land title for the Tsilhqot'in Nation, she said. "In
fact, what Tsilhqot'in has said is that the best way of moving forward is
through negotiated settlements, and that's what we need to do," Pierre
said. The report includes recommendations from several high-profile
mediators and arbitrators, including Vince Ready. Pierre said progress had
been made among nations to resolve their own boundary issues but she blamed
a lack of funding from the provincial and federal governments for the
failure to complete the work. The commission does not negotiate treaties
but allocates funds and facilitates negotiations. Since it was established
in 1992, nine First Nations have fully ratified final agreements.
Thirty-eight others are in various stages of negotiations, while 18 of the
102 nations who initially joined the process are no longer negotiating. The
First Nations Summit, which represents bands involved in the treaty
process, echoed the commission's call for action. "The (summit) supports
the recommendation of increasing the focus on the resolution of overlaps
and shared territory issues, which continues to be a critical focal point,"
Robert Phillips, a member of the summit executive, said in a statement.
Among all the First Nations in B.C., 102 have taken part in the treaty
process and 96 have not. The commission report said a limited federal
mandate has also been a significant stumbling block for negotiations, but
Pierre expressed some hope that a change in approach announced by federal
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt over the summer may jump-start
stalled talks. Those include a mandate to negotiate fishing rights and the
re-appointment of special representative Doug Eyford. Eyford was originally
enlisted to try and salvage discussions with aboriginal groups over the
Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. Over the past two decades, the
commission has allocated approximately $627 million to First Nations to
negotiate treaties. Eighty per cent of that money is a loan from the
federal government, and the tally has become crippling, the commission
said. Outstanding loans totalled approximately $486 million as of March 31,
2014. The commission is pushing the federal government for an exit plan
that would provide some relief to First Nations that have incurred massive
debt at negotiations that have gone nowhere. "We'll never have the federal
government say, yes, we were the problem but everybody knows they were the
problem," Pierre said. "There are tables that are never going to reach
treaties and they should not be left with this debt."

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Submitted by John Andras, The Rotary Club of Toronto

This note is from my friend Karyn in KI. It speaks to the awakening and empowerment that is beginning among the youth. The Rotary Club of Toronto through
support of 3rd World Canada, the trip by KI youth to Lisbon and support of the first Reconciliation Exchange played a role in Karyn's journey.
================
I hope all is well in Toronto! I would like to forward you a piece I wrote last
night.

The Vision: Through the eyes of a youth leader.
It all started in December 2012, when Attawapiskat's Chief Theresa Spence went on a hunger strike in the nation's capital on Victoria Island in a small teepee. A
cry out to Canada's Government & Prime Minister, Stephen Harper to sit down and discuss Canada's treaty relationship with First Nations leadership. Her protest
attracted worldwide attention to the Idle No More movement.  All across the nation a spark grew and even ignited in me, I couldn't just sit at home when our people were in distress. I had to move. Deputy Chief, Darryl Sainnawap of K.I. & a few of us called a board room meeting for youth who would want to help show their support in any way we could. A few of us brainstormed of what we should do to take part in this historical event. A community "spiritual walk" was called at the end of December, in the cold 40 below weather we walked from Mainland to the treaty site across town, with K.I. flags, signs to show we stand in solidarity with Idle No More & Chief Theresa Spence. All ages came out to show their support and walk with us as we led the way. The first ripple was completed.  


The second one started shortly after the spiritual walk. I received a call from  the band office asking if I would be interested in joining Mark Anderson, his
crew and some of the K.I. leadership to walk from Toronto's Queen Park to Ottawa's Parliament Hill to help raise awareness for what was happening in our
country. 5 days we walked in relay's covering every 5 kms, people we met along the way suddenly became lifelong friends and supporters, we even came across the
racist people, their words would bring us down but still we kept the fire going for our people and generations to come. The joy we felt on January 6, 2013 when
we finally reached our goal was quite overwhelming, to meet Chief Theresa Spence, the woman who woke up the entire nation was something else. It was then when I first met Andree Cazabon, a local filmmaker from Ottawa. She quickly became a close friend of mine. I told her about all the racist people I've encountered
along the way, heart broken I knew she wanted to help in every way she could. It was then our "Reconciliation" vision was born. With only 5 months to plan, Samuel
Mckay being our community mentor.. we, Justin Beardy, Faith Mckay, Leona Matthews & I came into partnership with Productions Cazabon and Andree believed in us as leaders and was there for every event. We formed a youth group to plan the early stages of the "June Reconciliation Event", a youth driven project to break down
and build bridges of stereotypes of everyday Canadians, inviting 50 strangers into our homeland to experience life in the forgotten north, to show them that
regardless of our everyday struggles, we do not forget where we come from, the  beauty of our land we proudly call our home is our way of life, our love and ours
to share.


Weeks into planning doubts filled the air of how we could pull this off. Long nights and obstacles we endured, finally the big day came when everything we
worked so hard for came to reality. Media reporters and people across the country were in awe as we successfully accomplished our vision. The most memorable moment for me was when the Governor Generals wife her excellency, Sharon Johnston & the Lt. Governors wife her honor, Ruth Anne Onley joined K.I. elders in a teepee where they had tea and talked for a good hour, the elders stated how proud they were of us youth for putting together this never before seen event in our
community. It was the cherry to my sundae. The following July, Faith was invited down south by one of the guests I joined her, together we went on a southern tour
to talk about the success of our project.

Weeks later, rumors spread of us hosting another event next year. With the continuous support from our Chief, council & community members we decided to host
another one.


August 2014 was our aim then we decided to coincide with "Homecoming" an event where 8 surrounding communities come home and visit for a week full of activities
and family get together's. Once again, we accomplished our goal a second year in a row. It was a life changing event for our guests. An elderly woman from Jamaica
said the amount of hugs she received in one day was not even the amount of hugs she would receive in 3 months... from family. Each guest of the two events we
hosted will always be in my heart.

What came next was history.  On September 18, 2014, some 85 years after the historical treaty signing between K.I. leaders & The British Crown, a representative from the Royal Family came to our community in hopes to rebuild bonds between the Royal Family and Canada's aboriginal community.  "I hope that through my involvement with the proud aboriginal people of this land  that the old bonds of our relationship are strengthened." the Countess of Wessex said after her unusual northern Ontario visit.

For our KI leadership it was quite overwhelming to stand by the historical treaty site with a representative from the Crown as our ancestors did many moons ago.

Today, I stand here and proudly say, "We did it! Together, great minds could make the impossible, possible if you believe in your dreams."

Karyn Laurie Paishk

*Volunteers wrapping up ground search along Winnipeg river for missing,
murdered women*The Canadian Press, October 6 - WINNIPEG – Volunteers are
wrapping up their ground search in Winnipeg for clues about missing and
murdered Indigenous women. The group has been searching the banks of the
Red River since the body of a 15-year-old girl was pulled from the water in
August. Searchers have found bones, which turned out to be animal remains,
along with a blood-splattered pillowcase, a bloody rug, a set of dentures
and clothing. Bernadette Smith, whose sister disappeared six years ago,
says the ground search is becoming too difficult with the colder weather
and fallen leaves. "We're dealing with lots of mud due to the rain," she
said. "The leaves have been a big hindrance. You have to move them all out
of the way. It's been really hard and it's taken us a long time."
Volunteers will continue dredging the river for another few weeks as the
water level drops, Smith said. They're still hoping to uncover anything
from a distinctive piece of clothing to a body that might bring closure to
a family searching for a missing loved one. Since the discovery of
Fontaine's body, the group has attracted hundreds of supporters from around
the world and dozens who have painstakingly scoured the ground and the
river. Smith said the search has kept the conversation about missing and
murdered Indigenouswomen alive. "All of our people in Canada are important
and we can't just become desensitized or complacent that people are being
murdered or going missing," she said. "We should be alarmed about that and
worried because these numbers continue to increase." Fontaine's body was
found Aug. 17, just over a week after she had been reported missing. She
had been in Winnipeg less than a month and had run away from foster care.
Police aren't saying how she died but are treating her death as a homicide.
No arrests have been made. The young girl's death touched a nerve across
the country and reignited calls for a national public inquiry into almost
1,200 missing and murdered Indigenouswomen. The Assembly of First Nations
has called for an independent investigation into how police handled
Fontaine's case after it was discovered that two officers came across the
girl after she was reported missing but did not take her into custody.
Police say they will be doing their annual sweep of the Red River on their
own later this month once the locks open and the water level drops. Const.
Jason Michalyshen said the patrol is not new and officers will search
riverbanks that have been submerged for most of the spring and summer.
"They'll be looking for anything suspicious, whether that be objects or
anything that shouldn't be there," he said. "This isn't something new by
any stretch." When the snow melts away next spring, the volunteer group
plans to resume its own search, Smith said. The effort has brought the
community together and empowered families who felt helpless, she added. "We
were tired of not doing anything and waiting for somebody else to do it,"
she said. "We're really hoping to have the width of the river covered with
boats so that we can do one sweep and cover more ground."*2-**We Need To
Stop Seeing Indigenous Women As Worthless*

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