Thursday, April 30, 2009

Awwhhh ... Now here is the cry from the bully ...

Following is a press release from the little bully who did not think that Metis Residential School survivors were important enough to bother even taking one when he had the chance....

And don't forget that had Mr. Clem Chartier and Mr. David Chartrand lost their attitude about being superior ... Phil Fontaine continued to encourage and support them to participate in the negotiations around compensation and reconciliation. It was David and Clem that refused to participate.

For those that don't know ... this has meant that many of the Metis residential school survivors have not received compensation. Some were not registered and recorded due to the issues that related with administration of the Residential Schools. The churches and organizations were compensated for First Nations students so they were tracked. Metis students were not applied for so they were often treated like the servants of the facilities and not registered.

There are some survivors who are even in the old pictures of the school but not in the registries. Some were identified as day students. Not that the day students did not get the same beatings, sexual violations and emotional and cultural abuse ... but once again because there was no voice for them throughout the discussions ... there is not acknowledgement of their abuse.

The other piece that I would tell you is that at least David sees compensation in a different light. He would like the Metis Residential School Survivors to consider having the money they would receive placed into a Manitoba Metis Federation account for the collective use of the President. Who knows maybe our Metis survivors would not mind one more act of abuse being perpetrated on them - financial abuse?

The press release is as follows:

MNC Disappointed with Métis Survivors Exclusion from Vatican Apology

April 29, 2009

Métis National Council Vice-president David Chartrand is welcoming the expression of regret from Pope Benedict XVI for abuses suffered by First Nation survivors of Catholic-run residential schools, but says he’s disappointed Métis and Inuit survivors were not included.

“I hope First Nations survivors can find some healing from this genuine statement of sorrow from Pope Benedict XVI,” says Chartrand. “A similar gesture of reconciliation would be of great comfort for the many Métis survivors who suffered in Catholic-run residential schools.”

Pope Benedict XVI made the statement of regret during a private audience with AFN National Chief Fontaine, First Nation elders and survivors. Vice-president Chartrand was invited by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine to represent the Métis Nation during the visit to the Vatican, but was not part of the private audience.

Vice-president Chartrand, along with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Mary Simon, met with Archbishop the Most Reverend James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, to voice their concerns over the exclusion of Métis and Inuit survivor from the Pope’s statement. Archbishop Weisgerber has offered to press the Vatican for private audiences for Métis survivors and another for Inuit.

“I am heartened by the support from Archbishop Weisgerber,” says Chartrand. “I believe he has a sincere desire to help heal the pain residential schools caused for Métis survivors and the entire Métis Nation.”
Vice-president Chartrand says the MNC will continue to work with Archbishop Wesigerber and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops towards reconciliation. To that end, Chartrand and ITK President Simon offered a joint invitation for Pope Benedict XVI to visit Métis and Inuit communities in Canada.

For more information contact Frank Coyle, MMF Communications at (204) 586-8474 ext. 374 or fcoyle@mmf.mb.caThis. e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Greg Taylor, MNC Communications, at (613) 296-9263 or

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international level. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. There are approximately 350,000 – 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

Métis hunting trial to begin Monday


Medicine Hat will be the venue for a trial with ramifications for Métis in Alberta and across Canada as three men are set to challenge the constitutionality of hunting charges against them.

Two of the three – Ron Jones and Bruce Bates – are facing charges of hunting out of season while a third man, Garry Hirsekorn of Medicine Hat, is accused of hunting without a licence.

All three were part of a group who took part in 20 protest hunts conducted in Alberta in late 2007 and early 2008. Their trial is part of what the Métis have dubbed, “hunt for justice.”

Though the hunts have stopped, they have only begun the expected year-long trial, which begins on Monday, that will seek to establish Métis rights in the province, according to the group’s lawyer Jean Teillet.

Speaking in a telephone interview from Vancouver, Teillet said this case will be held as a benchmark whether the government will pursue charges against others.
“Our defence is that there is a Métis right to hunt across the province,” she said.
“It is fair to say what we are trying to do is get away from the idea of invisible boundaries that demarcate parts of Alberta.”

In support of the men, Métis leaders are calling on members from across their community to join them at 4 p.m. on Sunday for a celebration feast at Medicine Hat’s Veiner Centre. They are also calling on members to attend this “historic trial.”

The proceedings begin at 9 a.m. on May 4 at Medicine Hat Provincial Court

Aboriginal People receive an Expression of Sorrow from the Pope

Firstly – I am not a residential school survivor – generations that went before me were mostly spared the experience. We did have a few cousins and more distant relatives that were affected but most of them remained loyal to their Catholic faith until their passing.

I have been to many of the activities, conferences and meetings where there were residential school survivors. To hear the atrocities that resulted from a generational genocide of a people from policies that created the struggles of some of our survivors would shake the very core of anyone’s beliefs. It has altered my own but that is not what this is about.

Firstly, I do believe that whether you are a fan of Phil Fontaine’s or not – you have to acknowledge that during his leadership he has worked diligently to try and address and have the Residential School issues acknowledged and understood. For Canadians – they have become more aware of the issues that resulted from the residential school experience. For our survivors there has been a great deal of effort towards acknowledging their struggles in an attempt to help them find healing.

I do hope that some of them do find healing in the apologies that were made. I also pray that the programs and compensation that is a part of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation pieces bring further progression towards a place of peace.

Now folks I want to deal with the Métis politics of this story – because as much as the event is significant – Métis politics is always a place of its’ own expression.

Phil Fontaine invited other Aboriginal leaders to come and participate. The Inuit leader, Mary Simon went to the Vatican City, Jim Sinclair – one of our past Métis leaders was invited to attend and then Clem was invited. As many of our Métis people here have come to know – Clem will not participate with the AFN or Phil Fontaine in most things. He is generally invited to participate and if AFN is the hosting organization – Clem normally ignores the invitation.

In fact folks – one of the reasons that Métis and the issues related to most of them have not been addressed through the Residential School initiatives is thanks to Clem not participating. This time though he sent our infamous David Chartrand. Now there was room for two Métis – so our infamous leader could have taken a Métis residential school survivor. Now that would have made sense that a Métis Residential School Survivor joined the other Métis Residential School survivors to gain audience with the Pope.

Well my Métis friends – we did not take a residential school survivor – we took our well paid Métis contractor – Mark Leclair. I am trying to make sense of these things so what I am speculating is that due to the behaviour of the Métis bully – David Chartrand - he needed to take his main henchman and himself to get a special blessing – so he may repent for his bullying and find his way to the pearly gates some day.

Now just to be clear – when the Pope gave private audience to the Aboriginal delegation for the 30 minutes that they got – David was not invited into the private meeting. Maybe he will have to do some more repenting to find St. Peter.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and a Million Dollar Donation

Frank Godon provided me with a comment relating to a story that was released last week. Now as you read the story and the editorial comments - I will tell you that I am not providing an opinion related to what the First Nations in Manitoba are doing relating to their money. There is always criteria related to how gaming dollars can be used and that is generally detailed much earlier then these announcements are made.

The one thing that I would like to bring forward is the waste of tax payers money that all governments are guilty of why crying for money to deal with the social ails of society on the other hand.

In Alberta last week - we came to understand that the Alberta Government did not hesitate to spend 25 million dollars on an ad campaign to promote Alberta as a travel destination. They then put forward a picture of a beach in the UK as a means of promoting Alberta. There are beaches, majestic mountains and some of the most breath taking scenery in the world here but Britian's beaches were what was used.

In Edmonton - we have a municipal government that has continously advised the Federal and Provincial governments the ever ending need for resources to address the social problems that we have. On the other hand they are busy putting forward bids for the 2017 Expo. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on making the bid and have asked the Province for millions of Alberta tax dollars to continue on their trek to try and get the bid through.

We can't seem to find the dollars to deal with homelessness, pot holes, snow removal, police services, and other matters that seem essential to many but we have the resources to chase a bid - not even knowing if we stand a snow balls chance in hell of getting the bid.

We could also go to examples of other Aboriginal leaders prioritizing things like endless civil law suits against individuals to spend their limited resources on while whining that they do not have any funding - but somewhere these decisions get made by elected individuals that do not consider the reality of the situations that affect the common grassroots people.

The link to the story is:

Manitoba First Nations donate $1M to museum.

WINNIPEG- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights received a $1-million boost Tuesday from the First Nations in Manitoba.

The donation was made on behalf of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the South Beach Casino and Resort.

``The First Nations stories and themes throughout the museum will share the true history and stories of our people,'' said assembly Grand Chief Ron Evans in a news release Tuesday.

``This is a great opportunity for us as First Nations to educate the citizens of the world, not only on the historical injustices that we continue to endure, but also the resilience of our people, the teachings we can offer related to peace and justice, and the great progress we have achieved in protecting and advancing our rights.''

The museum, which will be constructed in Winnipeg, is the brainchild of the late Izzy Asper, the founder of Canwest Global Communications.

The mission of the museum will be to explore human rights and commit to taking action to combat the forces of hate and oppression.

``The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has always been envisioned as a journey of hope,'' said Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights campaign chair, Gail Asper.

``Indeed, the very mission of the museum is to promote respect and we believe that educating and enlightening visitors with the stories of First Nations people will help achieve that mission.''

To date, there have been more than 4,500 donations made by the private sector to the museum. All three levels of government have given a combined $160 million contribution to the project.

The total cost of the project has been pegged at $265 million. Construction is expected to be completed by February 2012.

Excuse Me

Posted 4/22/2009 8:00:00 AM
Interesting, The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs cut a cheque for a million bucks and handed it over to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Excuse me? Doubt that the chiefs had to buy their way into the museum. When it comes to human rights and a museum highlighting the struggles aboriginals will qualify as charter members, believe me.

The donation came in part from the South Beach Casino and the Grand Chief says it’ll give them a chance to tell their story.

Wait a minute, we know the story, we’re hearing it every day but unfortunately it’s been going in one ear and out the other and the chiefs themselves make that point.

The Chiefs made their donation in the morning and later in the day the same chiefs stuck a hand out demanding government financial relief from the flood waters.

The chiefs had a million bucks gained through the easy-come-easy-go method of gambling revenues and instead of handing it over to help their people in a time of need they make a deposit on membership in a human rights museum.

They just don’t get it do they? They do not know how to spend their money in a manner which will most benefit their own people. They complain about the state of their housing, they’re hard pressed to find safe drinking water, they have kids on the reserves with no future, they have people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and they take their casino money and give it to a museum.

And then the audacity of hearing their so-called top aboriginal leader step to the podium down there in Ottawa and complain that the onus is upon others to bail them out.

And therein lies the problem…..Indian Affairs says the government gives First nations money each and every year and it is up to them to decide how to spend it.

Believe me, the examples are everywhere, they do not know how to spend nor where to spend.

The museum donation is just one of those examples.

A million bucks won’t do much in the big picture but the optics and the cheque would provide a small dose of relief right now at a grass roots level where it is most needed.

Wonder if they bothered to ask the people of Peguis if they could have used a million bucks right now?


3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas

April 24, 2009 – Indigenous Leaders celebrated a highly successful 3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas (3rd ILSA) in Panama City, held on April 14th to 15th, 2009. Approximately 120 leaders representing Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas, including youth and women, met and issued a Declaration and Plan of Action addressing the theme “Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas for Present and Future Generations.” The co-chairs of the 3rd ILSA Summit were Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Beverley Jacobs, Grand Chief Edward John (representing the Assembly of First Nations) and Panamanian Indigenous leader with the Kuna General Congress Héctor Huertas.

The Declaration set out the vision for the advancement of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas, including self-determination; rights related to lands, territories, waters, and natural resources; the protection of traditional knowledge and intellectual property; Indigenous women’s and youth rights to participate on an equal basis and many others. The Plan of Action sets out concrete activities for realizing these rights and making a difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples throughout the hemisphere that require strong partnerships with member states of the Organization of American States (OAS).

NWAC President Beverley Jacobs noted that, “The energy of the 3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas highlights the commitment of Indigenous Peoples to overcome the past and present challenges and to secure a future where sustainable ways of living are promoted and protected and socio-economic conditions are improved. Through this vision, Indigenous Peoples truly enjoy human rights recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as many other international laws and standards.”

Unfortunately, the environment at the V Summit of the Americas was not one that facilitated the critical development of partnerships with States. Rather, the delegation of Indigenous leaders experienced exclusion. Despite numerous requests by the leaders to attend the State Summit, no such invitation was extended by any government. Nor was it possible for the Indigenous Peoples to participate in the Civil Society Summit or other parallel summits leading into the V Summit because the government of Trinidad and Tobago would not accommodate the 3rd ILSA on site. The result was that the Indigenous leaders, representing millions of Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas, were not even considered “delegates” unlike members of civil society, youth, business and private sector delegates. Further, a last minute decision by the National Secretariat to increase the number of delegates from civil society from 10 to 40 individuals in the Forum with Ministers was not extended to Indigenous Peoples.

At a substantive level, this exclusionary attitude is also reflected. The V States Summit Declaration of Commitment fails to address Indigenous Peoples, despite the theme “Securing our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability.” Initially, there were three brief references to Indigenous Peoples in the area of health, education and the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the final Declaration of Commitment, only two paragraphs refer to Indigenous Peoples, one which supports “voluntary” corporate social responsibility best practices, involving dialogues between the corporate sector, governments and Indigenous “groups”, and one that commits to the adoption of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Speaking about the process and the State Summit Declaration, Grand Chief Edward John voiced his disappointment: “We saw the V Summit as an opportunity to work in partnership with States of the Americas for the betterment of our people and securing a future where Indigenous Peoples are treated with respect and equality. But if our experience at the V Summit is any indication of the States’ intentions, we have a long way to go. Indeed, the V Summit represents a step backwards for recognition of Indigenous Peoples. At the IV State Summit in Mar del Plata in 2005, Indigenous Leaders were given the respect we deserve and had an opportunity to speak directly to Heads of States.”

The efforts of Indigenous Peoples to create a less discriminatory world for their communities will not be waylaid by this recent step backward. We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, suffer persecution due to the fact that we are Indigenous. This persecution includes murder, displacement, and violations of our human rights by States. As pointed out by the Co-Chair (3rd ILSA) Héctor Huertas, Indigenous leader from Panama, "We have a clear vision of the path to follow and we will continue meeting with the OAS and its Member States in order to ensure that they comply with their international obligations in relation to Indigenous rights and their implementation in these American States. We will be vigilant that the VI Summit be a space to measure the true fulfillment of the States’ commitment against violence and discrimination towards Indigenous peoples.”


These co-chairs can be contacted through the following media:

Joshua Kirkey, Communications Advisor
Native Women’s Association of Canada
(613) 722-3033 ext. 231, mobile: (613) 290-5680

Gina Cosentino, Government Relations
National Chief’s Office, Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 356

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The First International Metis Rendezvous Gathering

August 28, 2009

International Peace Garden

The festival for the weekend is free but there is a $10.00/car load fee to access the International Peace Garden. In addition to this – there is one evening event at the Berdick Performing Arts Center – Dinner and Show for $25/person. The meal will consist of buffalo roast with all the trimmings. If you only want to go to the show – the cost is $15/person. There is limited seating for this event.

We will continue throughout the next months remind you to continue to go to Métis Fest’s website at:

There is an International Committee; International Performers and all good things willing – International crowds.

Dan Gooden, Canadian Co-organizer has expressed the following:

“We as Metis/michif people will finally get a North American Gathering point to connect with OUR relatives we know are out there but have not been able to meet or greet yet!“

“The Peace Garden Horticultural staff have agreed to grow, at the front entrance to the Gardens - a Metis Infinity Flag that measures 12' x 20' also one side angled off the ground about 4 to 5 feet for all 150,000 tourist to view this summer!”

Go Metis Pride Go!

This looks like a true International Gathering Point where being METIS and sharing in our proud culture and heritage is the only objective.


This festival is for the North American Metis/Michif to create Memories, Friendship, Entertainment, Excitement, and to meet family from across the Métis Homeland on both sides of the border!

Keep viewing the website for updates, the performers list is still being updated regularly.

To enter the International Peace Garden you will not need a PASSPORT, being Canadian or American, as long as you return to your Country of origin when you leave the Gardens.

There is Camping for tents, motorhomes or campers.

Rooms and Motels are available on site.

For information – bookings - tickets or any other questions contact:

Dan GoodonCanadian Co-organizer


204-218-0090 cell

Clock ticking on legal definition of 'Indian'

This article is interesting to the Métis in the sense that the National definition has its’ own issues around interpretation. This is evident on how each governing member has taken a nationally accepted definition and have altered it by putting forward policies to interpret what they believe was the intent of the discussions and debate leading to the approval of the definition.

This has resulted in individuals who live in other provinces not being eligible for membership/citizenship in other governing jurisdictions. Some of those interpretations are a result of the very individuals that are being raised in the BC Courts. There are some provinces that have over many years accommodated the individuals who no longer apply for ‘Status’. This may have happened for many reasons – much of what I believe is a situation where individuals who have lost their place by racist, sexist government policies that have tried to assimilate Aboriginal people for centuries. The individuals who are of Aboriginal descent and have been displaced due to the Indian Act are attempting to maintain their – Aboriginal heritage. To fit within the definition of Aboriginal within the Canadian Constitution they need to fit within one of the three identified groups.

These issues are as old as life itself – nations of people – even though they are displaced from their lands – they don’t just stop being – because they have been bullied out of their inherent ethnic heritage. They don’t take on the ethnic being of another nation. All we need to do is look at the issues in the Middle East to see the centuries of war that resulted from individuals who do not assimilate or disappear.

There are more issues in the defining of the Métis that need resolution – but it should be the Métis that are setting the parameters. Many of the issues related to the definition would have been resolved if the work to come up with the National definition would have resulted in a National Registry that was coordinated amongst the various jurisdictions. It will be curious to see if the Government and Courts set us up to start dealing with the outstanding issues related to who is Métis – or if the courts and government get to set the parameters of what they think the membership is.

The Globe and Mail
April 13, 2009 at 8:39 PM EDT

OTTAWA — Parliament has less than a year to craft a new definition of “Indian” before Canadian native policy risks tumbling into chaos as the existing rules for determining native status are thrown out by the courts.

The clock is ticking after the B.C. Court of Appeal set the tight deadline for the minority Parliament. It's a ruling that has experts in native law scratching their heads, wondering how such a contentious issue can possibly be resolved in time.

Some lawyers say the ruling means hundreds of thousands of natives are now 12 months away from losing status entirely. Conversely, writing a new definition that complies with the Charter of Human Rights could mean a dramatic increase in the number of Canadians eligible for status.

“It's going to be a mess,” said Winnipeg lawyer Norman Boudreau, who represents natives living in Treaty 1 territory. “If you take that a step further, if you no longer have Indians, then some reserves will no longer be in existence because the reserves are set aside for Indians. So if there's no Indians any more, then the reserve itself falls by the side as well.”

Mr. Boudreau is among the many legal experts both outside and inside government currently grappling with the potential implications of this month's B.C. Court of Appeal ruling, in what is known as the McIvor case.

Mitchell Taylor, who represented the Crown in the case, disputes the interpretation of Mr. Boudreau and others. He said natives would not lose status if nothing happens by the deadline. However, new individuals would not be able to register if the definition was struck down, he said in an interview.

“That's obviously an unacceptable situation and something would need to be done,” he said. Mr. Taylor said there are several options available over the coming 12 months, including a request for a deadline extension, a new law in Parliament or a potential appeal to the Supreme Court.
A spokesman for Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said the government is considering its options.

The outcome will have a significant impact on native communities and families, who have long struggled with social divisions created as a result of the Indian Act's definition. The existing six-part definition is a complicated one, based on family ancestry as well as several side-arrangements.

An expansion of the definition would also have an impact on the public purse, as status Indians currently qualify for federal coverage of non-insured health benefits such as prescription drugs and can apply for postsecondary assistance.

In the case at hand, Sharon McIvor and her son Jacob Grismer claim that in spite of amendments made to the Indian Act in 1985 aimed at treating men and women equally, the act continues to discriminate against women. They point out that, unlike men, women cannot pass down status to their grandchildren in certain cases.

From 1868 until the Indian Act was amended in 1985, Indian women who married a non-Indian lost their status, while Indian men who married a non-Indian were able to keep their status and bestow status on their wives.

In a June of 2007 ruling, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed that the 1985 changes did not do away with all discrimination in the act. That ruling called for status to be extended to anyone who could show that somewhere in their pre-1985 ancestry a woman had lost status through marriage.

This month's B.C. Court of Appeal ruling said the lower court went too far, and that Parliament must fix only the problems with the 1985 amendment. However, Mr. Justice Harvey Groberman candidly wrote that he's not sure what MPs could have done in 1985 to fix the complicated definition.

“I am even less certain of the options that the government might choose today to make the legislation constitutional,” he wrote.

But while Judge Groberman's concerns appeared to be narrow, lawyers say they are surprised by his solution: striking down key parts of the act's definition of Indian within one year.

The 2006 census found 698,025 Canadians self-identified as “first nation,” a term used by people who are likely to have Indian status. However 1,172,790 describe themselves as aboriginal, which includes 50,485 Inuit, 389,785 Métis and first nation. An expanded definition of Indian status would likely incorporate some of the people who are Métis or aboriginal but do not currently qualify for federal services.

Statistics Canada also found that between 1996 and 2006, the aboriginal population grew by 45 per cent.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some Easter Thoughts

There are many topics that one could write about but the interesting parts are always – what is too much; what is too cynical; what is too personal and do you let everyone know that things are not always what they appear to be.

As I have been doing this for a bit now – there are times when I wonder what it will achieve? Then issues are raised that I believe need attention. People need to know and sometimes based on editors, media and political correctness – not all gets told. Journals and media outlets try to set their coverage of issues based on selling advertising. If things seem obscure or not of interest to everyone – they do not get attention.

There is a great deal of public discussion by many about the number of print medias that are disappearing because they can no longer keep up and keep their business viable. As more of us get access to the internet and as our lives get busier – we don’t have time to sit around and float through hundreds of pages of newsprint to find what interests us. We will go to the internet or television and identify mechanisms to catch our interests and funnel out the things that do not seem to be relevant to our lives.

My question though – What will happen to those who don’t have access or knowledge about the internet? How will individuals who have no affordability access the internet? Where will there understanding come from? These questions come to mind when I look at the Métis veterans that are in our community. Many of them are older now – they came into our world when people still traveled on rough roads, sometimes by horseback and central heating was a wood or coal burning heater. They lived in an era where the DIY [Do It Yourself] bathroom remodel was digging a hole for a new outhouse.

Now we are being funded by government to create awareness amongst our Métis veterans about potential supports that may be available to them. In fact President Chartier describes the “The Métis Nations Veteran’s Web Portal will be a one stop resource for information important to Métis Nation veterans and their families.” Have we become so removed from who are community is that common sense has lost its’ place in what we do – or we have come to a place where we just don’t care what might be important to the people that we represent because we buy into a government agenda to get the all mighty dollar?

I do wish all of our Métis people and everyone from across the homeland the “Hoppyist Easter”. We were just trying to see if it was just our thoughts or maybe I under estimate the ability of our veterans to learn about and make new technologies available.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just a quick entry

I saw a blog that talked about an Aboriginal man speaking to a non-Aboriginal person about traditional hunting and fishing in the US. The non-Aboriginal person was disgusted that the Aboriginal man was using a spear gun in the ocean and traveling in a speed boat. He asked the question about how traditional is that?

Now firstly, I am humored at the thought that people may think Aboriginal people when practicing their right to hunt and fish would be traveling in a canoe with a spear to eat their traditional foods.

Every culture has traditional ways of life but they don’t necessarily practice them with the same tools that they used in the 1700’s – so why would Aboriginal people? Now imagine if to maintain traditions we would still be running around wearing hides, furs and clothing that would set many on their morale high ground about the slaughter of animals to provide us with our necessities of life. Practicing the right to hunt, fish and harvest to eat and provide our communities with the things that were our customary way of life does not mean we need to be living with the limitations of technology that were available in the 17 and 18 hundreds.

Just a thought – but when Europeans practice their traditions or eating their traditional foods are they limited to the technologies of the past? They are not traveling across the prairies in Chuck wagons – why would we be?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

BC Appeal court orders amendment to part of Indian Act

This is long overdue. Many First Nations people have been impacted by legislation that discriminates and puts First Nation women at an even greater disadvantage then any other group. The descendents of these women have the right to claim their inherent place and heritage. Sharon McIvor has been a courageous fighter and through a walk of perseverence she has been able to demonstrate a fight for fair human rights for all the generations who have been impacted by the legislation.

Tue. Apr. 7 2009 5:42 PM ET

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Court of Appeal has given the federal government a year to amend sections of the Indian Act it says violate equality provisions of the Charter of Rights.

In a unanimous ruling, the court found that two sections of the act continue to discriminate against aboriginal women who married non-aboriginal men and, crucially, their children when it came to conferring Indian status.

The Appeal Court found that 1985 amendments to the Indian Act designed to conform to the newly minted Charter's equality rights actually discriminated against some people who should be able to claim Indian status.

The ruling stems from a longstanding dispute involving Sharon McIvor of Merritt, B.C., and her son Charles Grismer.

McIvor lost her Indian status when she married a non-aboriginal man but after 1985, she fought for 20 years to regain status for herself and her son.

She and Grismer challenged a provision that barred Grismer from passing on Indian status to his children from a non-aboriginal spouse, something he would have been able to do had his father -- instead of his mother -- been aboriginal.

Background Article:

The long, hard road of Sharon McIvor

She has fought for two decades for her and her children's rights under the Indian Act. Despite a court victory, her fight isn't over yet

Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Friday, November 09, 2007

The Native Women's Association of Canada and several B.C. women's groups describe it as one of the most important equality rights cases in Canada, affecting an estimated 300,000 people who were improperly denied Indian status.

It began in 1985 when Sharon McIvor was a law student. She had no idea that her battle to reclaim her birthright and that of her descendants would drag on well into the first decade of the 21st century, or that it would likely end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

A descendant of Lower Nicola Valley band members, McIvor applied within months of 1985 amendments to the Indian Act to be registered as a status Indian along with her children.
Both McIvor's grandmothers were Indians, but her grandfathers were not.

The amendments were ostensibly supposed to remedy the gender inequity of stripping Indian status from women and denying it to their children if they married non-Indian men. Men who married non-Indians not only retained their status, but their wives and children were registered as status Indians.

But the amendments simply put off the gender discrimination by a generation. Women who married non-Indians and their children got status, but the women's grandchildren did not, while the grandchildren of Indian men and non-Indian women did.

Sixteen months after that first letter, McIvor received a reply from the government. She could be registered as a status Indian, but her children could not.

On May 29, 1987, McIvor wrote another letter asking that the decision be reviewed. It took 21 months for a response. In February 1989, she was told that the initial decision had been upheld.
McIvor launched her court challenge that year, but her case wasn't heard until October 2006, 17 years later.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross agreed with what McIvor has been saying all these years -- the 1985 Indian Act's section that determines who is given Indian status contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as international conventions on human rights, women's rights and children's rights.

In June 2007, Justice Ross declared the section "of no force and effect" because it "authorizes the differential treatment of Indian men and Indian women born before April 17, 1985, and matrilineal and patrilineal descendants born before April 17, 1985."

In a sharply worded, 144-page judgment, she said that by drawing a distinction between male and female ancestors in determining who can be registered as a status Indian, the section offends the basic notion of human dignity.

The judge wrote that the section implies that "one's female ancestors are deficient or less Indian than their male contemporaries. The implication is that one's lineage is inferior. The implication for an Indian woman is that she is inferior, less worthy of recognition."

Because the government had used every tactic possible to delay the case getting into court for 17 years, Ross refused its request to have two years to find a remedy.

It was a sweeping victory. The favourable decision stunned McIvor, who is now a 59-year-old grandmother, practising law part-time in Merritt and teaching law, indigenous studies and political science at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

"I actually didn't trust that we would get a good decision," she said this week. "I've acted as counsel in other cases, similar kinds of cases involving women's equality and I haven't had any good decisions . . . . It's just so totally unbelievable that we won."

But it was only the first round. The government has vowed to appeal.

Set aside just how offensive it is to any reasonable person's expectation of a speedy hearing that it took so long for McIvor's case to be heard.

What is so depressingly evident throughout the 144-page judgment is just how badly we have mistreated -- and continue to mistreat -- aboriginal women and their children. It started when the colonial government lumped all aboriginal people together and misnamed them Indians.

In its determination to "civilize" aboriginal people, the Indian Act of 1850 imposed and entrenched a strictly patriarchal system. Even though many first nations were matriarchal societies, the "civilizers" stripped aboriginal women of their equality and property rights and overturned centuries-old hereditary systems.

The 1857 Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes that "enfranchised" men over 21 who met specific criteria, not only stripped them of their Indian status, but that of their wives and children as well.

The 1869 Indian Act went further. It is the great-great-grandfather of the discriminatory system that was continued into the current act. Women who married non-Indians lost their Indian status. Women who married outside their own tribe were stripped of their band status, which meant if the marriage failed they could not return home.

All of the subsequent revisions and amendments to the Indian Act have failed to correct those inequities.

They have continued even though the Canadian Bill of Rights was passed in 1960; and even though in 1982 the United Nations Committee on Human Rights found Canada was in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for effectively denying Indian women access to their culture, religion and language.

"It seems to me," Ross wrote, "that it is one of our most basic expectations that we will acquire the cultural identity of our parents; and that as parents, we will transmit our cultural identity to our children."

It was the judge's empathy for and understanding of what it must be like to be excluded as McIvor and her children were from their culture that most impressed McIvor.

"It was lonely and painful to be excluded from the Indian community," McIvor said when she testified. "My family and I suffered various forms of hurt and stigmatization because we did not have status cards."

They were excluded from the traditional hunting, gathering and fishing as well as from traditional marriage, funeral and healing ceremonies.

They were not allowed to live on reserve land or go to Indian schools and they did not qualify for health and dental benefits or free post-secondary education.

On Oct. 16, 2006 -- the day McIvor's case finally went to court -- the government suddenly found a reason to recognize her son, Jacob Grismer, as a status Indian.

He was "ecstatic" to finally be recognized for what he is, McIvor said, even though the official documents didn't arrive until this past August.

McIvor started this fight for herself and her children. They now all have Indian status. But McIvor vows to continue the fight in the appeals courts for her grandchildren, aged 16 and 14, who do not have status and were not even born when this battle began.

Aside from the personal toll of having to lay bare one's entire life before bureaucrats, lawyers and judges over a period of more than 20 years, this case has cost McIvor tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. And it's not over.

It's almost certain to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will take at least three years and a minimum of a quarter of a million dollars.

Time and money are no problem for the government. It has deep pockets; McIvor does not.
"It would be horrible to lose because I can't mount a defence," she says.

McIvor estimates that legal costs for the B.C. Court of Appeal will be about $120,000 and that's only because she is doing some of the legal work herself and her lawyers, Robert Grant and Gwen Brodsky, aren't charging her anywhere near their usual fees.

It will cost at least that much to prepare for a hearing at the Supreme Court of Canada. Canada's court challenges program has covered a portion of McIvor's costs so far. But the Conservative government eliminated that program last year.

It's added another burden and further insult to McIvor, who is fighting not only for her family, but for thousands of others like her.

Sharon McIvor fund

The Supreme Court of B.C. decision is available at:

The Native Women's Association of Canada and Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter are sponsoring a reception on Wednesday between 7 and 9 p.m. at Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, to honour Sharon McIvor and help raise money for her legal costs.

For information on how to donate to the fund, contact mcivorfund@

Cheques for the Sharon McIvor Case Fund made out to

Heenan, Blaikie, in trust for Sharon McIvor can also be mailed to Rob Grant at Heenan, Blaikie, Suite 2200, 1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, V6E 2E9.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Ministers Strahl and Thompson Announce Partnership to Launch Métis Veterans Web Site

Now we are looking at real economic stimulus... I did not even realize that the Ministers in our present economic state have been reduced to trying to do press releases over $39,000. In fact, this must have been such a fast paced negotiation because they forgot to consult with the Metis veterans across Canada. The Metis and Aboriginal Veterans organizations are struggling to access funding and to meet thier priorities - hopefully they too will be able to access funding.

Ottawa, Ontario (April 6, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and the Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today announced a partnership with the Métis National Council to launch a web site that will allow the Canadian public to gain deeper awareness of the role played by Métis veterans during the First and Second World Wars.

“I am delighted that Métis veterans will finally have a venue through which they can tell their stories of heroism and sacrifice,” said Minister Strahl. “This is an important step forward, not just for the veterans and their families, but for all Canadians. These are stories that we all need to hear.”

“This project will pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of Métis Veterans who have served our country during wartimes,” said Minister Thompson. “Their courage, sacrifices and accomplishments are a source of pride to their families, communities and all Canadians.”

The web site will provide a virtual library through which Métis veterans will be able to share their photographs, stories, remembrances and the lessons they learned through their war experiences. It will also give Métis veterans information on program and services supports.

The Government of Canada is providing approximately $39,000 that will be used to create a content management system that will enable the Métis National Council (MNC) to store and disseminate data and research in real time, and to transmit knowledge to others using electronic data, graphic models, audio and video streaming mediums. The system will provide the MNC with a compelling and user-friendly tool to advance the interests of Métis Veterans.

For more information, please contact:

Minister's OfficeNina Chiarelli
Canada Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
(819) 997-0002

Media Relations
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada
(613) 992-7468

Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Richard Roik
Director of Communications

Clem's Release:

Métis National Council
350 Sparks St., Suite 201
Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8


April 6, 2009

Métis Nation Veterans Web Portal Announced

Métis National Council (MNC) President Clément Chartier is welcoming the Federal Government’s commitment to helping share the stories and celebrate the contributions of Métis Nation veterans. Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Federal Interlocutor for Métis, and Greg Thompson, Minister for Veterans Affairs, today announced funding for the MNC to develop a new web portal dedicated to Métis Nation veterans.

"The Métis Nation Veterans Web Portal will be a one-stop resource for information important to Métis Nation veterans and their families," said President Chartier. "It will also be a place for all Canadians to learn more about the sacrifices Métis Nation veterans have made for their people and this country over the last 125 years."

Métis Nation veterans will be able to share their stories of war through the web portal, and Métis Nation citizens and all Canadian will be able to post messages of thanks and remembrance to Métis Nation veterans. In addition, the Métis Nation Veterans Web Portal will host information on benefits and services available to Métis Nation veterans, and it will also have information to assist those who have not received all the benefits available to other Canadian veterans.

"This web portal is an invaluable resource for Métis veterans to share their experiences with the Métis Nation, in particular Métis youth, and all Canadians," said David Chartrand, Minister of Veteran Affairs for the Métis National Council. "While we recognize this as a positive first step, there is still much work to be done in order to ensure that all Metis veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled".

The Métis Nation Veterans Web Portal will feature photos and videos of Métis Nation Veterans and will have a continuously updated list of commemoration ceremonies being held across the Métis Homeland, Canada and around the world. The web portal is expected to go on-line in mid-April, and will be linked with the Métis National Council website at

For more information contact Greg Taylor, MNC Communications, at (613) 296-9263 or

"Shell In Court Over Alleged Role In Nigeria Executions"

This article was found on the Aboriginal News Group. As we stop at the Shell station to gas up - maybe our social coconscious should have us asking what some of these large multinationals are involved in across the world with other Aboriginal people.

by Nick Mathiason

The Observer

Sunday 5 April 2009

Ken Saro-Wiwa swore that one day Shell, the oil giant, would answer for his death in a court of law. Next month, 14 years after his execution, the Nigerian environmental activist's dying wish is to be fufilled.

In a New York federal court, Shell and one of its senior executives are to face charges that in the early 1990's in Nigeria they wer complicit in human rights abuses, including summary execution and torture.

The Anglo-Dutch company, if found liable, could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in damages. No multinational has ever been found guilty of human rights abuses, although two previous cases saw major claims settled outside court. Saro-Wiwa became famous as a campaigner on behalf of the Ogoni people, leading peaceful protests against the environmental damage caused by oil companies in the Niger Delta. There was worldwide condemnation when, along with eight other activists, he was hanged by the Nigerian military government in 1995 after being charged with incitement to murder after the death of four Ogoni elders. Many of the prosecution witnesses later admitted that they had been bribed to give evidence against Saro-Wiwa, who was a respected television writer and businessman.

Lawyers in New York will allege that Shell actively subsidised a campaign of terror by security forces in the Niger Delta and attempted to influence the trial that led to Saro-Wiwa's execution.

The lawsuit alleges that the company attempted to bribe two witnesses in his trial to testify against him. Members of Saro-Wiwa's family will take the stand for the first time to give their version of events among them his brother Owens, who will allege that Brian Anderson, managing director of Shell's Nigerian subsidiary, told him: "It would not be impossible to get charges dropped if protests were called off." Anderson is fighting the action.

Witnesses who were shot by military police in the Niger Delta principally to protect the building of Shell's oil pipeline will allege that Shell, by paying the police to protect its interests, was complicit in acts of violence.

Speaking to the Observer from Abuja, Nigeria, Sara-Wiwa's son, Ken Wiwa, said: "For 14 years we have lived with the memory of a father, an uncle, a brother, a son executed for a crime he didn't commit. We have daily reminders. It's painful to live with a monstrous injustice. To wake up one day to finally get our day in court is tremendously satisfying.

"After the injustice of the original crim against my father, having to watch legal arguments [by Shell] using the highest-paid lawyers in the world is sickening. You can't describe how painful that is to go through."

Part of the reason for the original protest was the way Shell behaved. Ogoni people made their living farming and fishing, but Shell was using open waste pits and oil pipelines criss-crossed the land. These polluting activities were put on top of a delicate ecosystem. It destroyed people's ability to sustain themselves. That's the impact of Shell and, when people tried to protest, they were brutally repressed.

In a statement, Shell this weekend described the executions of the Ogoni 9 as "tragic events carried out by the Nigerian government in power at the time".

"Shell attempted to persuade that government to grant clemency; to our deep regret, that appeal - and the appeals of many others - went unheard, and we were shocked and saddened when we heard the news. Shell in no way encouraged or advocated any acts of violence against them or their fellow Ogonis. We believe that the evidence will show clearly that Shell was not responsible for these tragic events. The allegations made in the complaints against Royal Dutch/Shell concerning the 1995 executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight fellow Ogonis are false and without merit.

"US lawyers have finally won permission to bring the case to court under the alien tort statue, which gives non-US citizens the right to file claims in American courts for international human rights violations. The court case had been set for 27 April, though last night the date was moved to 26 May.

Today the oil producing Niger Delta region is riven by intense violence and corruption. The Ogani 9 trial is seen as a way of coming to terms with the past and building a non-violent future.

"We need to know the truth," said Ken Wiwa last night. "We need to have people account for their role in the executions and the displacement of the Ogoni people, many of whom feel traumatised. It will be a relief. It will enable people to face the future. That's the most important thing. Let's account for the past, so we can move forward."

Lawyers representing Saro-Wiwa's family have not sought specific damages should Shell be found liable, but legal experts say the oil giant could face fines running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Jenny Green, a senior lawyer at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, who has played a pivotal role in ensuring the Saro-Wiwa case made it to court, said: "Mosop [the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People] was formed to stand up to multinationals and the dictatorship that acted hand-in-hand. This is a significant moment, because it says you can't act with impunity."

Federal Court to appeal dismissal of complaint against former Sask. MP

SASKATOON — The Canadian Human Rights Commission is appealing a ruling that dismissed a racism complaint against a former Saskatchewan MP.

The controversy involves pamphlets mailed by Jim Pankiw to his constituents in the Saskatoon area that contained slogans such as "Stop Indian Crime."

Last month a commission tribunal dismissed the complaint, saying federal human rights law doesn't cover such pamphlets called householders that are routinely sent by MPs to their constituents.

Ailsa Watkinson, one of several people who filed the original complaint, said she is very pleased the commission is appealing the decision to Federal Court.

"This is a very important case when it comes to speech and how the written word can be so harmful - in this case aboriginal people," Watkinson said Monday.

"The way that those messages were sent out were without a doubt in my mind harmful to any kind of co-operation within a community."

The pamphlets sent by Pankiw in 2002 and 2003 claimed aboriginals were behind higher crime rates, blackmail and terrorism.

One pamphlet, titled "Stop Indian Crime," showed a photograph of the Oka protest in Quebec in 1990. The caption under the photo described an aboriginal protester as a terrorist.

It's not clear when the Federal Court will conduct the judicial review.

The three-person tribunal ruled last month that the householder mail-outs are not subject to the Canadian Human Rights Act because they do not provide a service to the public but rather to MPs by allowing them to share their political views with constituents.

Daniel Poulin, a lawyer for the commission, said because the pamphlets aren't subject to the act, the panel was unable to consider whether Pankiw's statements were objectionable.

Pankiw said he's disappointed the commission is appealing the ruling.

He said the ongoing case is costing him time, energy and money for speaking his mind.

"I firmly stand by my assertion that there should not be special race-based privileges in our country," he said in an interview Monday.

"No tax-free status, no special hunting and fishing privileges, no lenient criminal sentences, no free education. Everything should be equal. That is the definition of egalitarianism."

Pankiw served two terms as a Reform and Canadian Alliance MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt before he left to sit as an Independent until his defeat in the 2004 federal election.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A New Partnership for Métis National Council and Statistics Canada

Ottawa (March 30, 2009) - The Métis National Council and Statistics Canada have entered into a new partnership to develop better and more helpful datasets about Métis Nation citizens living in the Homeland. Statistic Canada will also be helping the MNC become better able to analyze statistics and utilize them for a variety of research projects.

The partnership will focus on the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) and the Aboriginal Children’s Survey (ACS). Both were conducted by Statistics Canada just after that year’s national census. Developed with the help of the National Aboriginal Organizations -- including the MNC, the surveys were completed by several thousand off-reserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, living in urban, rural, and northern locations across Canada.

The first task to be tackled as part of the partnership will involve Statistics Canada assisting the MNC effectively analyze and tabulate the APS and ACS data. Statistics Canada will offer expert advice to ensure the MNC can make the most of the APS and ACS statistics and the corresponding analysis, in the hopes it will provide a clear and quantitative picture of the lifestyles and living conditions of Métis Nation citizens.

The second part of the partnership will have the MNC giving Statistics Canada a better idea on what additional data and analysis is needed, and will suggest what Métis topics should be covered in further Statistics Canada research articles. This process will help Statistics Canada ‘fill-the-gap’ in information available on Métis Nation socio-economic conditions.

As part of this work, Statistics Canada will be holding a series of workshops with participating provincial Governing Members. The workshops will be asking what specific information on Métis needs to be collected, and what new studies and analysis from existing statistical data would be beneficial and most useful for Métis governments.

The partnership will also bring better access to the Statistics Canada information on Métis Nation citizens over the internet. APS, ACS and a host of other tabulated statistics concerning Métis will be posted on the MNC website, available to all Métis, anytime.

This statistical information will prove invaluable to the MNC and the provincial Governing Members relationship with the Federal and Provincial governments, as well as other external organizations. With concrete, quantitative data, and comprehensive analysis, the MNC and its provincial Governing Members will be in a better position to negotiate and receive equal service on par with other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.

If you would like more information on the Statistics Canada workshops, the Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Children’s Survey’s, please contact the Métis National Council at