#TheMétiscommunity, #FortMcKay; #Alberta, #Canada
Fort McKay (Alta), Mar 28 (Canadian-Media): The Métis community of Fort McKay, Alta., has become the first in Canada to buy all of the land it's on from a provincial government, media reports said.
The $1.6 million transaction was finalized Monday between Fort McKay Métis and the Province of Alberta, leaving the former in complete control of its 800 acres of territory. A formal announcement with the province was scheduled for 11 a.m. MT today.
The community is small, both in terms of its size and its population. Not all of its 97 members live in the area, a 40-minute drive north from Alberta's oilsands developments in Fort McMurray. But it's now a pioneer in Métis history.
"The message … is that as we go over the future for Métis developments and Métis land claims all over the Prairies, we can say that Métis land ownership is not incompatible with the ownership of other interest groups," Dwayne Roth, a lawyer who played a key role in negotiations, said.
Felix Faichney, who grew up in the Fort McKay community, says the idea that he and the rest of its members would one day own the land they call home seemed a distant dream.
"It wasn't ours. We didn't have the freedom to do with our land what we wanted," Faichney, 20, the board director of the Fort McKay Métis Community, said as he surveyed some of the backwoods that will eventually be torn down to make way for housing.
Felix Faichney says he is glad young people in the Fort McKay Métis Community will have opportunities he didn't, now that it owns the land it's on. (Peter Evans/CBC)For years, Roth said, the Fort McKay Métis hesitated to develop the land, as they were leasing it from the province.
"To invest that kind of development infrastructure into something you don't own just didn't make economic sense."
Now, the construction equipment and fences that sit in a barren field should soon be transformed into a community pavilion.
A community pavilion will be developed in this clearing, now that the Fort McKay Métis have bought their land from Alberta. (Peter Evans/CBC)Across the street, an advertisement billboard should soon be replaced by the gas station, car wash and fast-food restaurant it currently promotes.
The community also has plans for a healing lodge, a spray park and an administrative centre.
For the community's president, Ron Quintal, this has all been long in the making. He said he was first elected to office in 2005 with a mandate to acquire the land in question.
"The work that I've done for this community is to allow my sons and all the sons and daughters of the community in Fort McKay to almost have an inheritance," said Quintal.
Key court decisionIn 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the federal government has the same level of responsibility toward Métis people in Canada as it does toward First Nations.
Quintal said the landmark decision is playing a key role in shifting how Métis are able to speak to, and negotiate with, different elected representatives across the country.
Fort McKay Métis president Ron Quintal says Métis nations in Canada have been lagging behind First Nations in asserting their rights for years. (Peter Evans/CBC )
"The First Nations have been able to get where they are through a recognition of treaty rights. They negotiated treaty rights years ago, and that's basically the platform they've been able to assert themselves on," Quintal said.
"The Métis haven't had that opportunity. Up until recently, recognition of Métis rights was non-existent."
Challenges aheadBut Quintal is also aware their example won't be the easiest one for Métis to emulate elsewhere.
With its proximity to the oilsands, his community has been uniquely placed to build up the wealth to buy its land over the years. Many of its members work for companies in the industry.
With its proximity to Fort McMurray, Alta., oilsands operations, the Fort McKay Métis Community was uniquely placed to build up wealth and buy its land from Alberta. (Raffy Boudjikanian/CBC)
That's not the case for other Métis communities in Canada. Still, both Quintal and Roth hope Fort McKay could serve as an inspiration.
"Communities that don't have the prosperity that we have, they can follow that model and start working with industry or whatever model it is that they have in their own backyards, to start to leverage this economic prosperity," Roth said.
As for Felix Faichney, he is excited about what the future has in store for Fort McKay, and he wants to be there to help build it. He'll be leaving his own full-time job in the oilsands industry at the end of March to dedicate himself full-time to the Métis.
"The youth coming up, like my son — [this purchase] creates all those opportunities for him, opportunities that I didn't have," he said, referring to two-year-old Felix Jr.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
Justin Trudeau/Facebook page
#JustinTrudeau, #Tsilhqot’inNation, #JoeAlphonse, #reconciliation
Ottawa, May 27 (Canadian-Media): Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Mar 26 and absolved the Tsilhqot'in leaders of any wrongdoing more than 150 years after six B.C. First Nations chiefs were hanged by colonial authorities, media reports said.
The current leaders of the Tsilhqot'in Nation their traditional territory in British Columbia's central interior region were reportedly gathered on the floor of the parliamentary chamber while Trudeau delivered the apology Monday in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 26, 2018.
"For generations of Tsilhqot'in youth, the first story they learn is of the historic betrayal by the British colonial government that led to the hanging of six of the nation's leaders, says Chief Joe Alphonse.
"Reconciliation starts here. Ground zero. Tsilhqot'in. This is where it starts," Alphonse said, describing the apology as "a giant step."
"Canada has a chance and opportunity to be a role model to all countries with Indigenous people. That's what this is about, a new way of doing things, a better way of doings things, that includes all of us."
"We recognize that these six chiefs were leaders of a nation, that they acted in accordance with their laws and traditions and that they are well regarded as heroes of their people," Trudeau said.
"They acted as leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation."
Trudeau then reportedly hugged a drummer and continued,
"As settlers came to the land in the rush for gold, no consideration was given to the rights of the Tsilhqot'in people who were there first," Trudeau said. "No consent was sought."
Members of parliament (MP)s in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa applaused while Trudeau read his speech and prompting the Tsilhqot'in chiefs to hold up eagle feathers in salute.
Canadian government's authority to execute the six chiefs as criminals, describing the confrontation as an altercation between warring nations had reportedly been disputed for a long time by the Tsilhqot'in.
Trudeau reportedly said that he understood that apologies cannot alone undo wrongs of the past, but he said that apologies an important part of reconciliation in renewing Canada's relationship with Indigenous people.
"If we're to move forward with the federal government, we need to tell this right and start with the truth. It's an emotional day for many of us," Chief Russell Myers was reported to state.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#Indigenousvoters, #ElectionsCanada, #StéphanePerrault
Ottawa, Mar 18 (Canadian-Media): Elections Canada is launching new initiatives for training staff to better serve Indigenous voters in next year's polls, media reports said.
Elections Canada/Courtesy of CBCNews
Leaders in Indigenous communities would be contacted by returning officers in 28 electoral districts, this spring to plan with them the delivery of electoral services in the 2019 election.
The goal reportedly should be to improve access rather than persuading people to vote, said Stéphane Perrault, Canada's acting chief electoral officer.
"Indigenous voters may decide to participate, or not, and they have all kinds of historical reasons that will inform their choice," Perrault was reported to tell CBC News. "It's not for us to be a player in that, but we want to make sure that when they do choose to participate, that there's no administrative barrier."
Perrault added that Elections Canada is planning 18 months ahead of the campaign to to recruit more Indigenous people to work as returning officers and encourage their participation in local events in the communities.
Indigenous populations in their ridings would be trained by returning officers to be culturally competent in indigenous people's terminology and keep them well-informed about the socio-demographics on Indigenous people in Canada, their historical experiences, stereotypes and misconceptions.
There had been positive historical increase in turnout in on-reserve polling divisions, reported by Elections Canada, from 47.4 percent in 2011 to 61.5 percent in 2015 federal election.
This was an important reflection of reconciliation, said Perrault and added, "I have a lot of respect for the decision that they make to participate or not participate, but obviously I welcome their participation and hope that it increases."
"Our role is to make sure that if they want to participate, that we're there for them."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#WalkingTogether:Ontario'sLong-TermStrategytoEndViolenceAgainstIndigenousWomen, #Ontario, #DavidZimmer, #Indigenouspeoples, #FamilyWell-BeingProgram, #Harinder Malhi, #SylviaMaracle, #DawnLavell-Harvard
Ottawa, Mar 18 (Canadian-Media): Ontario is investing $100 million on 'Walking Together': Ontario's Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women' over three years to address violence against Indigenous women and girls as one of many steps on Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, media reports said.
“Walking Together is an example of the good that comes from governments and policymakers listening to Indigenous communities and working hand-in-hand with them on their priorities. Two years into the strategy, I’m proud of the province’s work and our accomplishments with Indigenous partners. More remains to be done, but Ontario is committed to continuing to walk together with First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and communities, to see this strategy through,” David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation was reported to state.
The second progress report released in Feb 2016 on 'Walking Together' stressed on strategies to raise awareness, creation of culturally appropriate programming, improving socio-economic conditions to stop violence indigenous women experience, and to support their healing and wellness.
'Family Well-Being Program', an essential part of Walking Together, is also reportedly being implemented by First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous partners in more than 250 sites and communities across Ontario, with more than 200 program workers to make lives safer for indigenous children and families.
“Indigenous women, like all women in the province, deserve to feel safe wherever they are. We have made important progress on this goal in the two years since Walking Together was launched. Through the Kanawayhitowin: Taking Care of Each Other’s Spirit prevention and education campaign initiative, we have reached more than 52,000 people to raise awareness of the signs of violence against women in their communities,” Harinder Malhi, Ontario Minister for Status of Women was reported to state.
Harinder Malhi/ Facebook page
The executive committee that guides implementation of the strategy comprises representatives from the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, the Ontario Native Women’s Association, Chiefs of Ontario, the Métis Nation of Ontario, Independent First Nations, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and Six Nations.
“I am happy to see the continued growth and progress of... Walking Together...developed out of years of collaborative work between Indigenous organizations and activists...OFIFC has been part of this work from the very beginning...looks forward to another year of progress through stronger relationships, greater collaboration, and better outcomes for our women, girls and communities,' Sylvia Maracle. Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres was reported to state.
Other key accomplishments of 'Walking Together' include Enacting the 'Missing Persons Act', which, when implemented, will make investigations missing persons more timely and effective; Hosting the fifth National Indigenous Women's Summit which would bring approximately 300 delegates together to workshop and recommend the best ways to empower Indigenous women now and in the future; Developing a Performance Measurement Framework to measure the success of Walking Together to improve how Ontario measures the success of Indigenous-focused initiatives.
“Walking Together has provided the Ontario Native Women’s Association and the communities we serve the opportunity to develop ...creation of many new programs and supports...meant to address...the lives of Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people in Ontario. Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people have sustained their families and communities through colonization..and ensure that policy, regulation, laws and programs increase their safety and well-being,” Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President, Ontario Native Women’s Association was reported to state.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#IndiraNaidoo-Harris, #Ontario, #MitzieHunter, #Indigenouslanguages, #FirstNation, #Métis, #Inuit students, #JasonLeBlanc, #TungasuvvingatInuit, #MargaretFroh, #MitzieHunter, #StrengtheningourLearningJourney, #IsadoreDay, #OntarioFederationofIndigenousFriendshipCentres, #OFIFC #IndigenousEducationKnowledgeNetwork, #IEKN, #KnowledgeNetworkforAppliedEducationResearch, #KNAER, # DavidZimmer
Ottawa, Mar 18 (Canadian-Media): Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of Education, and Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, were at Eastview Public School in Toronto this month and announced that Ontario is investing $10 million in 40 community-led programs over two years to support community-led programs to promote the revitalization of Indigenous languages to support the success and well-being of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, media reports said.
"For ten years, strong relationships between Ontario, Indigenous partners, school boards and communities have supported the success and well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Our government is investing in community-led programs that will help Indigenous students reach their full potential. All students benefit from a better understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and contributions," Naidoo-Harris was reported to state.
Ontario is home to six Indigenous language families- Anishinaabek, Onkwehonwe, Mushkegowuk, Lunaape, Inuktitut and Michif, which include over 18 unique languages and dialects and community-led programs and projects will include language camps, Indigenous language immersion programing, the creation of curriculum, games and apps to support language learning.
"Tungasuvvingat Inuit is pleased to move forward with an Inuit specific approach to Indigenous Language opportunities in Ontario. This investment is consistent with the values and aspirations in our MOU with the ministry and will bring the Inuit world view to our shared work," Jason LeBlanc, Executive Director, Tungasuvvingat Inuit was reported to state.
Ontario and indigenous communities had signed a historical partnership as well as an agreement of Master Education programs to ensure the curriculum is more inclusive of First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories and cultures to promote the revitalization of Indigenous languages.
"The Métis Nation of Ontario would like to recognize its longstanding partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development...improving outcomes for Métis learners...acknowledges the ongoing efforts of these ministries in this area...for its commitment...ensure that as we move forward we will see long-term, positive impacts for all our students in the provincial education system," Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario was reported to state.
Starting in 2017, the Ontario government is investing an additional $56 million over three years for Indigenous Institutes to expand their capacity and strengthen their role as an important pillar in Ontario’s postsecondary education system.
"Education is key to reconciliation and Indigenous participation in our growing economy. Since our government introduced free tuition last year, we’ve seen a 34 per cent increase in Indigenous learners accessing aid to go to college or university. That, coupled with major investments in Indigenous Institutes and this languages fund, is helping to close the education gap — making higher education and training a reality for more Indigenous learners," Mitzie Hunter, Ontario Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development was reported to state.
The province also released 'Strengthening our Learning Journey', the Third Progress Report on Ontario's First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework; the first two progress reports were published in 2009 and 2013, respectively.
"We have made significant strides in our partnership relationship with the province to...build on our accomplishments and make further changes in education to ensure that our students are achieving educational success without having to change who they are, how they think and what they believe in" Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chiefs of Ontario was reported to state.
Ontario in its commitmentment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is supporting the existing development of new, child and family programs in over 40 First Nations.
In 2017, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) was selected to lead the Indigenous Education Knowledge Network (IEKN) -- part of the ministry’s Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER) -- with an objective to share existing knowledge in support for the well-being and success of Indigenous girls and young women in schools.
The work of IEKN will be aligned with the intended outcomes of Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women.
In response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (#62 and #63), Ontario is investing $15 million over three years to support the development of resources and educator capacity to enhance the learning and teaching of the history of the residential schools system, the legacy of colonialism and the importance of treaties.
"Education plays a significant role in the journey of reconciliation within Ontario schools. By working with Indigenous partners, we are strengthening Indigenous education across the province. This is helping to improve Indigenous student achievement and well-being. The Third Progress Report on Ontario’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework will help inform us on the important work that still lies ahead," David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation was reported to state.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#Phyllis(Jack)Webstad; #residentialschoolsurvivor; #OrangeShirtDay; #TheOrangeShirtStory; #BritishColumbia, #Canada, #EveryChildMatters
Ottawa, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor yesterday officially launched her book, “The Orange Shirt Story” in Kamloops, British Columbia (B.C.), media reports said.
The orange shirt referred to in this book is the one Webstad wore on her first day at the St. Joseph's Mission residential school in Williams Lake, B.C., in the 1970s.
"When I got to the mission, they stripped me and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt," Webstad wrote about the experience.
"I never wore it again. I didn't understand why they wouldn't give it back to me, it was mine!"
Phyllis (Jack) Webstad/Courtesy of CBCNews
Webstad hoped that by reading this book, people will gain a deeper understanding about the event.
Since 2013, 30th September has been recognized annually across Canada as a day to honour residential school survivors and their families.
The day has also being considered by the federal government for a new statutory holiday to mark the legacy of residential schools.
While she sees a lot of schools participating in Orange Shirt Day activities in Canada and internationally, Webstad noticed a lot of people don't understand the significance of the day and hoped "that with the book there will be more understanding of what the orange shirt means," she said.
Since then, she said the colour orange has reminded her of that experience and her year at residential school, "how my feelings didn't matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared."
At the core of The Orange Shirt Story is the message that every child matters.
"I really felt like I was worthless and I didn't matter when I was there. It's taken me a lot of years to know that I do," she said.
Webstad's book focuses specifically on her year at residential school and is specifically geared toward a younger audience in terms of the content, said Webstad.
She said she hopes the story will be a valuable addition for schools in teaching children about the history of residential schools.
"Not a lot of people care to educate themselves and so I want to start with the children," she said.
"They're going to be our future doctors and lawyers and bankers and those types of people."
As for this year's Orange Shirt Day, Webstad encourages people to attend an event in their community and participate in some way.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)