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



*First Nations Stories Dominating the News:*

*Debora Steel, with files from Mike Watts, September 30, 2014*


Port Alberni —

"Six years in Ottawa. That was enough," said A-in-chut Shawn Atleo today at
Maht Mahs. "Six winters in Ottawa, that was enough," he laughed. "I'm
really happy to be home. I'm very happy to be home."

A-in-chut, Ahousaht Ha'wilth and former national chief of the Assembly of
First Nations, was stood up this morning by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal
Council and wrapped in a blanket, paid tribute to for his hard work on
behalf of Nuu-chah-nulth-aht, and First Nations in British Columbia and
across Canada.

"We thought it was really important to hold up one of our own," NTC Vice
President Ken Watts told the delegates gathered for the organization's
annual general meeting Sept. 30. NTC wanted to remind A-in-chut of where he
came from, that there are many people here that support him.

"Whatever [his] choices are in life and whatever [he's] been through, we
always stand behind A-in-chut and the amazing work that he has done on
behalf of our people."

Watts said that A-in-chut has inspired many young people in Nuu-chah-nulth
communities. "It's not too often that we see a Nuu-chah-nulth person on TV
representing thousands in hundreds of communities." Watts described Atleo
as a role model and mentor who has carried himself in a good way according
the principle of iisaak (respect).

"I really want to acknowledge A-in-chut for the way he has walked upon this
earth." Watts wants A-in-chut to remember that "we are all here to support
you as Nuu-chah-nulth. We are all here to stand by you and walk with you."


Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Dignitas International have joined together in recruiting for a Community Health Co-Ordinator position. You can view the job description and how to apply on the website www.slfnha.com.

*1-**Ottawa buries official statement criticizing UN conference for giving
Indigenous people too much power

*Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, Sept 24 -* Ottawa didn't think much of
the high-profile UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples' outcome
document and quietly posted an official statement outlining its displeasure
in a back corner of its website. The statement is posted under Foreign
Affairs' website for the Permanent Mission of Canada
the United Nations. It's not easy to find on the website as it's not
highlighted on the front page
It can be found first by clicking through a section on "Canadian
Statements" and then the section subtitled "Statements on Human Rights."


Scott Haldane, CEO, YMCA and Chair, Commission on Aboriginal Education has advised us that he is available to speak to Rotary clubs or other organizations to hear about his work. You can reach him by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Thank you, Scott, for helping "spreading the word".



We have included a brief report of a recent trip to KI in northwest Ontario as guests of Tikanagen Child and Family Services and their Executive Director, Ernest Beck, who is a HIP director. It gave us a much greater understanding of first nations and we hope it will lead to more interaction between the north and south.

Summary of trip to KithenehmahukoosibInninuwug(KI)- August 17-22, 2014

On Sun. Aug 17, Tom and Doreen Sears and Pat and Chris Snyder flew to Thunder Bay and on to Sioux Lookout. We spent 2 nights in SL and toured/explored the Lac Seul Reserve and schools. We visited Pelican Falls First Nation High School and elementary schools in Frenchmans Head, Keejic, and Whitefish Falls and met with the principal, vice-principal and some teachers. Generally the schools were well equipped and in good repair and the teachers were enthusiastic, open and appeared ,very dedicated. We discussed the program and needs of the schools with the administration who gave us the tours.

Our trip had several objectives:

1) To become more familiar with the lifestyle, living conditions, educational issues, customs and values of the first nations people.
2) To meet some of the chiefs - there were 29 present at the annual assembly of the Tikinagen Child and Family Services.
3) To discuss with them how Rotary, through HIP(Honouring Indigenous People-www.rotaryhip.com), might be able to work with them in educational initiatives and explore awareness creating opportunities for the public of their culture, issues and history.

After a spectacular flight on a small Beechcraft aircraft ( 14 seats) -from SL to KI we arrived Tuesday afternoon. The scenery in northern Ontario was spectacular with no roads and an estimated 200000 lakes. KI (population 1,526) is located about 350 km north of SL north of Fort Albany.

We were assigned accommodation in a teacher's residence 1 BR and an airmatress on the floor. It was cozy but OK.

Throughout the two days, the food was plentiful (aka too much) , home cooked and a great choice at each meal including some moose, cariboo, several varieties of fish and vegetables. The relationship/interaction between the locals and us "white folks" was cautious. It took 2 days to warm up and relax. They were always responsive and courteous and respectful.

TIKINAGEN Family and Child Services

This is a very large agency whose mandate is to care for children in over 30 bands scattered from Sioux Lookout north to Hudson Bay. They do this in the aftermath of the residential school system which caused the loss of the opportunity to learn and pass on parenting skills to their children. The last schools closed in this area in 1976, thus many of the parents and grandparents did not have the chance to learn those basic skills in parenting and the cultural values of their tribe.

The agency budget is in excess of $50 million. They maintain a counsellor in each of the bands and the travel budget is in excess of $15 million -BUT - it costs about $900 to $1,000 to fly from KI to SL per person which for many is frequently necessary to diagnose or treat a child. The role of TIK is the same as that of CAS in other communities.

The literacy level of many adults is quite low. Most of the bands have computer and broad band communication.

While most of the communities are "dry", the frequency of home brew is fairly high -although we saw no evidence of it . The most common drug is oxycontin but is not used by youth to any extent as the cost is too high. There is a problem on some reserves with youth sniffing gas which has significantly contributed to a suicide rate that is very significantly higher than in the south. Being such a close and communal culture, these events have a much larger impact than is normally seen in the south communities.

TIK ..has formulated a "community-centered" approach to child care called Mamow-Obiki. This model has been formulated and approved by all 30 bands. Counselors have been trained by TIK . Where possible a community/family support program is implemented for children in need. This includes involving the extended family as well as community members rather than taking them out of their home community. When it is necessary as a last resort, TIK places them, if possible, in another native community, monitors them and returns them to their home community as soon as possble -as well as working with the parents to teach coping skills.


A) During our visit, we had opportunities to speak with them on a one-on-one basis and Chris briefly addressed the group on HIP. We discussed a number of alternative ideas that might be attractive for them and improve their circumstances. It is our hope that we might work together(HIP's board is 50% aboriginal and 50% Rotary from 5 different districts). Our work is to get as many clubs as possible working together on aboriginal educational issues and improve their circumstances. These ideas always came from discussions starting with "what do you need?"or "can we help...." . We also emphasized that we need a request to the HIP board and explained that an application form is online and how to access it.

B) We discussed the possibility of an experimental short-term exchange program for HS students. These talks were held with the Sioux Lookout Rotary Club as well as with the education authority and band chief at KI. Proposed initial parameters:
i) Students 16-18 selected by clubs starting summer of 2015.
ii) 2-3 weeks in duration at each area during the summer.
iii) The purpose to be "cultural awareness" by living in band reserves (selected) as well as homes (south).
iv) Financial support to be sought to subsidize northern students.
v) There appeared to be considerable interest in both KI and SL.

Several other ideas were discussed as potential to augment the education and skills of both teens and adults. There appears to be needs for programs and opportunities to improve adult literacy, youth sports and vocational skills training. Ideas and initiatives, however, MUST come from them. There could be some building(repair opportunities). There is a huge need to develop vocational skills. We are waiting their requests.


1. At the schools we visited, we were welcomed by the principal, vice-principal and teachers. The schools were clean, shiny, quite well equipped with books, white boards and computers.
2. The teachers appeared enthusiastic and caring.
3. Three of the five schools we visited were well equipped and had up-to-date multipurpose gym facilities but the 2 secondary schools were lacking in both vocational skill training and music and concern was expressed about lack of programs and support for students with special needs.
4. Lac Seul and KI are band owned and controlled. All housing is owned , controlled and assigned and design specified by the band. You must be a band member to be assigned a house. Some seem to have the right to operate a business for profit. Some band members live off reserve but retain band status as well as rights. In several communities, commercial enterprises are owned and operated by First Nations companies and this income is taxable.

5. Sioux Lookout is not a first nations community but is right next to the Lac Seul Reserve . It is also about 60% FN -many of whom have status as band members in other reserves or in Lac Seul.
6. In the schools, most, but not all, teachers are qualified to provincial standards but are paid significantly below provincial standards. While class sizes appear to be less, they are frequently multigrade and/or multilevel.
7. It should be noted that KI is one of the largest reserves in the region and is well-managed and does not appear to have the violence/abuse issues that some others do. In fact, it will be the host for a royal visit in September.
8. It was interesting and enlightening to learn about and see the seven grandfather teachings in action which underline the aboriginal philosophy and value system – love, honesty, respect, bravery humility, truth and wisdom. These are a part of HIP's value system. We saw evidence of this in the meetings we attended. Some speakers addressed an issue for very lengthy periods - much longer than would be tolerated in our meetings. However, they were never cut off and were listened to by all chiefs attending. All votes on motions were by consensus unanimous.
9. Most, if not all, chiefs spoke English but some chose to speak in their native language (Cree) which had simultaneous translation.
10. There is a significant degree of gender equity among the 30 chiefs and at the table they work by complete consensus.
11. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Six Nations - a band from Cornwall both of whom were Mohawk. There were other observers there from Toronto and Winnipeg.
12. On return, we attended a meeting of the Rotary club of Sioux Lookout where the current club president is first nations. It is this club with whom we are discussing the short-term exchange.
13. We were hosted by Ernest Beck, the Executive Director of Tikanagen - a most gracious and effective leader.

14. We did have some recreation. Pat and Doreen went to a local comedy evening at which they were the only non-aboriginals. Tom and Chris went fishing with the Chief of Lac Seul Reserve, Chief Clifford Bull and Judy Aneconeb from Tikanagen, our great hostess for our visit. Tom caught the only fish - a 6 pound lake trout.