#Canada; #FirstNations; #NCTR; OntarioSuperiorCourt; #ResidentialSchools; #IRSSA
Ottawa, May 22 (Canadian-Media): An appeal was made by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) to a January ruling of Ontario Superior Court's agreeing with Ottawa to prevent the creation of detailed reports drawn from a database held by the body that oversaw residential school compensation claims, media reports said.
NCTR was created in 2015 to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy and is the archival repository for all of the material collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
An estimated about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend residential schools across Canada and suffered abuse at the schools.
The federal government was the only party in the court case that opposed the creation of the detailed reports.
The Assembly of First Nations, along with NCTR, the secretariat and the National Administration Committee (NAC) - that oversees the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), was also involved in the court case.
The secretariat's proposal of creation of detailed reports for the centre based on information extracted from its database containing nearly two decades of information since the compensation process began in 2007 under the IRSSA would facilitate the number and kinds of claims as well as profiles of survivors who filed claims according to court records.
Ottawa argued that this would be a breach of privacy of residential school claimants, protected by a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that forbade the archiving of individual claim information held by the secretariat.
Ontario Justice Paul Perell had also said in his January 20 ruling that the information would do nothing to help Canadians understand the history of residential schools or help advance reconciliation.
The court also blocked the transfer of a number of other compensation claim-related records held by the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat directly to the centre.
Ottawa said that these records were the property of the federal government and should be transferred to the Crown-Indigenous Relations department which would then hand them over to Library and Archives Canada.
Although the court had ordered Ottawa to file a plan on how it would handle the records and transmit copies of some files to the centre by June 30, the process was delayed due to the restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic and Canada had to ask for an extension.
#Manitoba; #Painting; #JustinTrudeauPartiallyNude; #FirstNationsTraditions; #MMIWG; #HankyPanky
Manitoba, May 21 (Canadian-Media): A new painting titled Hanky Panky by renowned Cree artist Kent Monkman depicting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau partially nude on all fours, surrounded by laughing Indigenous women, has been condemned for its portrayal of sexual violence and disrespect for the First Nations traditions, media reports said.
Kent Monkman Studio. Image credit: Facebook Page
Also shows in the painting is a Mountie lying on the ground with his pants down and Canada's former prime ministers in the crowd, watching.
Monkman, from the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba and living in Toronto is known around the world for creating highly sexualized, provocative work.
He said the main aim of his posting the painting on Facebook on Saturday was to highlight problems of Indigenous women who experience violence and sexual assault at rates higher than other women in Canada due to the Canadian injustice system and did not know it would provoke a backlash.
Image of the red hand, which to many in the Indigenous community is a symbol meant to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is seen by many as an insult.
Sinclair, an Independent Manitoba senator, praised the work in a Facebook post, saying that by reversing the roles of victim and victimizer,
"Monkman has managed to get people worked up over the obscenity of the content, in startling contrast to the intellectual calmness with which people look upon how Indigenous women were treated...He's talented. He's brilliant. He cares. Do you?"said Sinclair.
Monkman says he deeply regrets any harm caused and also referring to the okihcitâwiskwêwak in a context that could be interpreted in a disrespectful way.
The Prime Minister's Office did not comment on Monkman's painting.
#UNHCR; #LatinAmerica; #Covid19Pandemic; #DisplacedIndigenous; #NationalLockdowns
Latin America, May 19 (Canadian-Media): As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads through Latin America, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is warning that many displaced indigenous communities are now dangerously exposed and at risk, UNHCR reports said.
Venezuelan indigenous Warao refugees and migrants are relocated to a safe space in Manaus, Brazil, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Image Credit: © UNHCR/Felipe Irnaldo
There are almost 5,000 indigenous Venezuelans displaced in Brazil, mainly from the Warao ethnic group, but also from the Eñapa, Kariña, Pemon and Ye’kwana communities. With COVID-19 hitting this Amazon region hard and Brazil emerging as an epicenter of the pandemic, UNHCR is worried that many may struggle without adequate health and sanitation conditions.
In Colombia, a number of bi-national indigenous groups, including the Wayuu, Bari, Yukpa, Inga, Sikwani, Amorúa, live near the border with Venezuela. While their ancestral homes straddle both countries, many have not been able to regularize their stay in Colombia and are undocumented. Some now also face threats from irregular armed groups who control the areas where they live.
UNHCR is concerned that for some indigenous Venezuelans, documentation issues, most notably their irregular status, and living conditions are placing them at heightened risk.
Many live in isolated or remote areas, where they lack access to health services, clean water and soap. Others live in cramped dwellings or in informal urban settlements without access to protective equipment. Most of the border indigenous groups are threatened by physical and cultural extinction because of insufficient food and severe malnutrition that can increase the risk of contagion. These areas have lacked adequate health services which can now exacerbate the current situation.
National lockdowns have also ground to a halt many of their livelihood activities, such as farming, the selling of produce and handicraft production. Faced with increasing poverty and destitution, some have no option but to peddle goods on the streets to try and support their families. Not only does that expose them to the risk of infection but also stigmatization and discrimination for perceived inability to comply with lockdown and physical distancing measures.
Other protection concerns include an increased risk of recruitment of children in certain areas in Colombia, where armed conflict has not ceased. Education is also a challenge as isolated and impoverished indigenous students and teachers have no means of learning remotely and pursuing virtual education during the lockdown.
Since March, UNHCR has been working with national governments to ensure COVID-19 prevention measures and assistance reaches remote areas where these groups have found safety. This is in addition to the work with displaced indigenous communities in both Brazil and Colombia on prevention and awareness.
As the number of suspected and confirmed cases increases and the first deaths are reported among indigenous communities, UNHCR has scaled-up its support despite a serious lack of funds.
To try to limit the spread and impact of the virus, UNHCR is working with national authorities to increase capacities of national health systems. New structures including improved shelters, care and isolation facilities as well as early warning systems have also been put in place to respond to COVID-19 among indigenous, displaced Venezuelans and their hosts.
In Brazil, UNHCR is supporting national efforts to ensure adequate shelter for indigenous Warao refugees from Venezuela. Currently, some 1,000 indigenous people benefit from shelter, food, medical and educational services provided by Operação Acolhida, the national government led emergency response to the Venezuelan influx in Brazil. Additionally, some 770 Warao have been relocated to municipal shelters with better hygiene conditions in the cities of Manaus and Belem in response to the coronavirus outbreak. UNHCR is facilitating the relocation providing technical support and material assistance, including mosquito nets, hygiene kits, solar lamps as well as transportation. UNHCR is also continuing hygiene promotion sessions, delivered in Warao and Eñepá languages, to indigenous refugees in those cities.
In Colombia, complementing national efforts, UNHCR and partners are supporting the State in food distributions and providing hygiene kits for those most vulnerable among the Yukpa and Wayuu populations, especially those living in informal settlements. Health brigades have been organized and remote protection lines have also been activated by UNHCR and partners. Information and hygiene promotion campaigns tailored for indigenous communities, also continue.
Despite strong efforts made by host countries and humanitarian organizations, increased support is urgently needed to continue life-saving interventions for indigenous communities, other refugees and local host communities.
Ahead of an international donor conference for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America, hosted by the EU and Spain, next Tuesday, UNHCR is calling on countries to pledge support. Alarmingly, the Regional Response Plan for refugees and migrants from Venezuela (RMRP) is currently just four per cent funded.
Indigenous Services Canada providing direct air transportation with strict, safety-first health protocol to protect against COVID-19
#FirstNations; #Canada; #Covid19Pandemic; #ISC; #SafeFlights
Ottawa, May 10 (Canadian-Media): The Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, issued the following statement today:
Marc Miller. Credit: Twitter Handle
"The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented international emergency. My department is working hard on advancing a health response to this serious health crisis.
The ongoing delivery of essential services and supplies to remote First Nations communities in provinces where travel is currently limited is particularly challenging but critical to Canada's overall response to COVID-19.
To minimize the risk and exposure of the virus to community members and service providers, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) has been transporting essential service personnel and supplies via carefully managed charter flights with strict health safety measures in place. The charter flights are often on airlines that already serve these communities and allow nursing and other personnel to board at terminals where the highest standard of health and safety procedures are being enforced.
Meanwhile, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is working with Transport Canada and territorial governments, that are responsible for primary health care, to ensure continuity of routes for goods and essential services in the territories and Inuit Nunangat.
The first flights to First Nations took place on April 22. That day, 45 nursing professionals were flown to and from 23 First Nations communities in fly-in communities in Ontario and Manitoba. On April 27 another 22 nursing professionals were flown to 13 First Nations communities in Ontario and 18 left the communities on the return charter flights.
Flights continued on May 6, with 88 nurses flown to 35 fly-in communities in Ontario and Manitoba and 64 flying out of 31 fly-in communities on return charter flights.
These health care workers are part of the regular complement of nurses that normally service these fly-in communities. They are familiar with the communities and their continued support through this difficult time is laudable.
In addition to supporting the needs of the communities we serve, these flights help keep nurses and our other incredible health care professionals safe. One of our nurses, Ruth Lockhart, recently wrote to us to express her appreciation for the safe flight home to her family:
'Thank you very much for all the work and effort that went into arranging the charters. I realize that this wasn't an easy process and was quite stressful. I felt very privileged and special to be able to travel back home through the use of the charters. Thank you for looking out for us and finding the safest way home for us to be with our families.'
I am grateful for the dedication and tireless efforts shown by Ruth and all nurses during these unprecedented times. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the nurses and essential personnel taking part in these charters to serve isolated communities, and to the leadership and community members who offer a warm welcome and support to them during their stays.
Nursing and other professionals are observing mandatory two-week, at-home self-isolation prior to travelling to communities aboard these flights. They are also required to self-screen their health status. Longer (four-week) rotations into communities are taking place to minimize changes in staff and to maximize the protection of the health and safety of community members.
Providing these charters ensures that health care and infrastructure professionals, medical supplies and equipment required to maintain critical infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, will be able to access these communities. It also provides flexibility to support other community needs such as emergency management responses, food security or medivac services, as required.
In addition to maintaining critical services, this approach also provides a much-needed revenue stream to airlines serving First Nations communities, helping to support their economic long-term viability. I would also like to thank the airlines that have made this unique initiative possible.
Future flights are planned for May 20, June 3 and June 17 to fly-in communities in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta for nurses, as well as other health care providers such as doctors and mental health service providers. Flights will then continue every four weeks until it is safe to return to the previous process. Other flights may be scheduled to bring cargo or other critical personnel such as professionals needed to maintain or fix critical infrastructure if additional needs are identified.