Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hypocrisy in the World

I had to spend some time putting down what I see as hypocrisy in the world.

I have no particular view about Jews, Palestine’s or any of the races that seem to be addressed under what is perceived as inciting hatred. In fact, I probably could only tell you that racial profiling is not one of the better qualities that the human race often has. I am not sure – but as a young person we heard words – that even though we did not know there meaning were as racially motivated as any. One for sure comes to mind. I kept hearing the term for many years about the ‘DP Bastards’. Now frankly, as a child I had no idea what a DP person was or for that matter what a Bastard was. I did not know why the people were referred to in those terms but I did know that as a child I would witness these subtle forms of insult that were never said directly to a person’s face but always behind their back.

Now not that we were not afforded our own racial profiling and because we were children and it was not seen as hateful they would tell us things directly to our face like, “Stop acting like a little Indian” or “look they are like dirty little halfbreeds.” As a young child I was taught I was a halfbreed – because at the time the politically correct term of Métis was not prevalent – so I thought it meant we were not suppose to be dirty and for what ever reason – you did not want to be an Indian. Even more to the point – our houses were kept immaculately, the laundry on the clothes line was always made to be whiter then anyone else’s and the outhouse was scrubbed till the boards were white and smelled like pine because we did not want to be ‘Dirty’.

I raise this for two reasons:

Firstly, my beliefs around racial profiling and trying to identify people through some negative context as a race or religion – is probably formed from my own experiences or brushes with racism when I was young.

Secondly, it is quite amazing how the world has hypocritically changed. The articles and two trials in relation to David Ahenakew and the allegation that he “willfully promoted hatred against the Jews” has shown me just how racism for some cultures is tolerable – while others are able to have the entire system respond.

Before I go any further let me make it clear – I do not support Mr. David Ahenakew’s views. It is not the first time that I ever heard such a stance – but that is not my personal point of view. I know that some media and blogs are identifying him as crazy for even thinking it – but truthfully – I don’t even know why he would be sharing those views at an Aboriginal gathering – but what I notice has gotten no press coverage is this is an Aboriginal man that was not just the past leader of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Assembly of First Nations but a man who had served in the Canadian Army for over 15 years where he served in Korea and Egypt, made major contributions in improving educational opportunities for Aboriginal youth in Saskatchewan, had significant roles in the United Nations and was awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian Society. He may have had some personal or learned experience that has shaped his views on Jewish people – but they were his views.

On the other hand we have two professors named, Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard who have through a narrow minded view expressed their dislike and racial profiling beliefs in a book – all over the internet – in television and radio blurbs and that is shall we say – their view on how to make Canadians critical thinkers. There is nothing hateful about attacking issues that would racially profile Aboriginal people through these mediums but let one Aboriginal man verbally present to a small group of people his ideology on another race and we not only put him through one but two trials to defend his position.

No double standard here – is there?

Monday, February 23, 2009


August 28 - 29 - 30 2009



Note NO PASSPORT is required to enter thePeace Gardens from either Canada or United Statesas long as you return to your country of origin.

"A Living History of Metis Families"

"A Living History of Metis Families" Film Premieres February 24 – Free Admission

(February 19, 2009 —Thunder Bay, ON) As part of Research and Innovation Week 2009, Lakehead University is hosting a film festival that’s open to the public. Three films will be shown: the premiere of Canada Research Chair Dr. Judy Iseke-Barnes’ film A Living History of Metis Families, as Told by Dorothy Chartrand, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, and Bloodline.

In A Living History, Metis grandmother Dorothy Chartrand tells the story of her Metis families, and the political and social change that impacted Metis lives in the 1800s until today, tracking some of Dorothy’s 25 years of research in archives and HBC and church records that lead to understanding the history of her family, and the community of St. Albert, Alberta.

Filmmaker Judy Iseke-Barnes says, “This film is one piece of the puzzle in the history of women, specifically Metis women, in this country. We don’t often hear stories of how these women worked to create and sustain the community structures that were the basis of this country.”

According to Iseke-Barnes, the historical record is male dominated, and focussed on written records, as opposed to oral ones. “There is a bias embedded in the recording of history which gives more legitimacy to written records. Those often focus on men and men’s work. Oral history, by way of contrast, is a valid and under-valued window into the history of women, and the history of this nation.”

Iseke-Barnes has two more films in production, and a third one in the planning stages. The first is tentatively entitled, Leadership as Service: Lives and Roles of Metis Grandmothers, and may be released as early as April 2009. The second is an animated collection of Metis/Cree stories from Tom McCallam, (White Standing Buffalo), and has a tentative release date of the fall of 2009. The films will be sent to film festivals, the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN), and the Smithsonian Institute, which has requested copies of them. Ultimately, the films will be available on DVD. More information is available at the accompanying website http://www.ourelderstories.com/.

A Living History of Metis Families, as Told by Dorothy Chartrand, premieres Tuesday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. in ATAC 2001. There is no charge for admission, and parking on campus is free.

Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,900 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit http://www.lakeheadu.ca/

NAHO finds Release of Métis-specific Information A Step in the Right Direction


National Aboriginal Health Organization


February 23, 2009

For Immediate Release

OTTAWA, ON — The National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) commends Statistics Canada on the release of its article on Métis health and well-being today. The article, entitled An Overview of the Health of the Métis Population, summarizes findings from the 2006 Métis Supplement of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey.

“We have been saying for years that there is a clear gap in information about the health and wellbeing of Métis people,” said Dr. Paulette C. Tremblay, Chief Executive Officer of NAHO. “The release of this Métis-specific information is an important step in the right direction towards closing that gap.”

The report analyzed Métis health and well-being by examining the social determinants of health – information such as demographic information, health behaviours and health care utilization.

Key findings outline many significant gaps in health between Métis and the total population, including the following:

  • Métis tend to have high rates of chronic disease. Just over half (54 per cent) of Métis adults report having been diagnosed with a chronic condition.
  • Twice as many Métis adults report asthma (14 per cent) and diabetes (seven per cent). For Canada, the rates are eight per cent and four per cent, respectively.
  • The most common chronic condition reported for Métis youth was asthma, at rates almost double that of Canada’s total population – 20 per cent for Métis versus 11 per cent for Canada.
  • “Despite these gaps in health status, there are many positive signs of the increasing well-being of Métis, particularly among youth,” said Dr. Tremblay. “While we must address the significant gaps in health, we must not overlook the positive indicators that clearly demonstrate the resiliency of Métis.

This strength and resiliency is seen throughout the Statistics Canada report, particularly in the increasing health status of many Métis youth.”

Approximately one third of Métis people reported access to traditional medicines or wellness practices. Interestingly, Métis living in urban centres are more likely to report access to traditional healing practices.

Furthermore, almost 60 per cent of Métis adults rated their health status as very good or excellent.

And, according to the report, the Métis population in Canada is growing. In fact, the number of people http://www.nationtalk.ca 2009/2/23 13:35:49 - 1 identifying as Métis increased 33 per cent in the five years since the last Aboriginal Peoples Survey in 2001. There are now 389,785 people in Canada who identify as Métis, making up 33 per cent of the Aboriginal population in Canada of 1,172,790.

Dr. Tremblay went on to say, “Sound policy, programs and services are built upon good health information. At NAHO, we will be using this new information about Métis health to inform our work.

We hope it will inform the work of provincial and federal health initiatives for Métis.”

Catherine Graham, Director of the Métis Centre of NAHO says, “This is a great day for Métis in Canada. As this and other information begins make its way to leaders, researchers and community members, we will hopefully begin to see programs and services developed in accordance with Métis needs and priorities.”

NAHO is proud to have played a role in the development of the report. A NAHO Métis Centre Research Officer, Joyce Seto, was one of the authors.

The National Aboriginal Health Organization is an Aboriginal-designed and -controlled body that works to influence and advance the health and well-being of Aboriginal Peoples through knowledge-based strategies.

For media inquiries, contact:
Colleen Patterson, Communications Officer
Tel: (613) 237-9462 ext. 559
Toll Free: 1-877-602-4445 ext. 559
Cell: (613) 863-9001
E-mail: var id='cpatterson';var host1='naho.ca';var host2='';document.write('
For more information, visit:
http://www.nationtalk.ca 2009/2/23 13:35:49 - 2

Friday, February 13, 2009

Steven Harper's Pet

Someone sent this picture of the Prime Minister's Pet named Patrick and I couldn't help but post it and share the humour.

Raising Awareness of the Problems with Generalizing a Race of People

A Few Interesting Statistics:

As of 2002, Russians are the world’s leaders in alcohol consumption. The average Russian male drinks about four gallons of pure alcohol per year, which amounts to about a pint of vodka every other day. To put it in perspective, this is nearly twice what Americans consume.

As a result of this pernicious habit, the average Russian male is expected to live only 57 years. This means many Russian citizens will die of alcoholism even before they retire. While many observers hint that the problem is growing the numbers are much more blatant: the number of deaths resulting from intoxication in January – May 2002 increased by 8.1% over the figures of January – May 2001. This problem can only get worse as Russians face even more instability in their lives. The general consensus among Russians is that alcoholism is (and has always been) Russia’s biggest problem.

In June , 2007 a study was released that indicated, drinking alcohol not meant for consumption, such as that found in cologne and antiseptics, may be responsible for nearly half of all deaths among working-age men in Russia.

Scientists limited their research to the Russian city of Izhevsk but believes it represents many areas of Russia. The research suggested that despite Russia's economic resurgence in the past decade, it still faces staggering social and health problems, especially in provincial areas far from Moscow and St. Petersburg. The scientists concluded that 43 per cent of deaths amongst Russian men were caused by hazardous drinking.

Price and accessibility are major factors in the popularity of drinking cologne and other "surrogate" alcohols. They cost a fraction of what vodka costs, and are available in the kiosks and pharmacies on Russian streets.

So based on this story….we could generalize and blame the ails of Russia on the men in the community …because based on what someone might have seen…80% of Russian men who live outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg are staggering around – smelling good and dieing early and that is causing the social ails of a country. Maybe if they ban cologne and surrogate alcohols it will keep men alive and working to support their families instead of being the countries social problem.

We won’t look at any of the other environmental, social or political issues that the country faces – just drunks.

The idea of marginalizing and profiling a culture based on a few who practice social ails is ridiculous. I am sure that there are many individuals in Russia who do not spend their days laying around being drunks. Racial profiling is not beneficial to anyone that is a victim of it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The CBC Should Be An Alert to All Websites, Blogs and Other forms of Internet Use to be responsible:

As the CBC issue was raised by the Chiefs and the issue of legal responsibility gets brought into question – even though people detach and identify that they are not responsible for the opinions of others – allowing a forum to perpetuate that could make one liable. I have made some inquiries today about this very issue and find that there is a responsibility to the individuals or groups that manage these forms of media. In fact, we would not have to look far to see how time consuming and costly these types of law suits are at this time. In fact many call this malicious prosecution litigation at both the trial and appellate court levels. It is often referred to as SLAPP. So for my critics that don’t like me to synthesize what ends up here they won’t be standing beside me when I have to defend myself in court.

As for the perpetuating of racism – it is often systemic and underground but recently – even on this blog – comments seem to digress, become personal and breed a level of ignorance that is not necessary and is not supportive of the value of respect.

I received a comment today that indicated we should accept the written words that refer to natives as drunks, criminals or incapable of supporting themselves because if they see 80% of natives in this state that makes it a truth. I would say the fallacy is that anyone seen 80% of the natives like that. To prove my point I will use fact.

Based on Statistics Canada:

  • 50% of Métis adults aged 25 to 64 have completed a postsecondary education; A college education was most common, with 21% of Métis having completed a diploma, followed by a trades certificate (16%).
  • Between 2001 and 2006, the percentage of Métis with a university degree increased from 7% to 9%.
  • In 2006, the employment rates for Métis adults of core working age (aged 25 to 54 years) was 74.6%. The non-Aboriginal population rate is 81.6%.
  • Unemployment rates represent the proportion of people in the labour force who are looking for work but cannot find it. At the national level, unemployment rates of Métis adults of core working age was 8.4%.

Based on just one Urban Homeless Study the statistics show the following dynamic:

  • 22% Aboriginal Descent
  • 72% Caucasian
  • 6% Other Nationalities

So based on previous statements – should I now indicate that because what I see is that 72% of homeless, unemployed people are Caucasian that must mean the majority of them are a blemish on our good society and nothing but a bunch of drunks, criminals and welfare burdens.

Or maybe I would indicate what I really think – which is the Aboriginal population is about 4 - 6% of the overall population and we are overrepresented in the number of homeless people because we make up almost 20% of the homeless statistics. And even saying that will I look further to address the number of individuals who have mental health issues and a lack of investment in programming (whether they are Caucasian or Aboriginal) that would allow these individuals to have a safe environment to exist and often find themselves living out of control without access to necessary medical supports to address their health needs – mentally and physically.

Just of the sake of argument – it would be easy to sit somewhere else in the world and judge issues from a biased – right wing perspective without considering all the data that would result in fact.

The majority of Aboriginal people are employed, educated to some level of post secondary and are functioning contributing members of society. To say anything less is irresponsible. The colonialism that perpetuates the attitudes of savage – immoral and inexcusable beings is buying into falicies that do not have any statistical or factual base. One inappropriate european person – does not make for a bad race of people and neither does one Aboriginal person.

Ex-aboriginal health boss charged in $1M theft

You know we often wonder why there are no audits and reviews done that would determine accountability for what we believe are issues in the reporting of government funds received by organizations. There are a couple of interesting points in this article the first being that this is an issue that started in 1999 and went on for five years - over two organizations and four years of RCMP investigating before charges were laid. It would be important to remember that this is just allegations at this point which are now 10 years since the start of this. There will still be the cost associated with the trial and justice process that may take up to another 2 plus years before there is guilt attached to the individual that is being charged.

Based on that – when might we see investigation, forensic audits or accountability of what is believed to be misspent tax dollars? Also consider the amount of resources that are spent to try and bring justice to the issue. Could be a very long and expensive wait….

Ex-aboriginal health boss charged in $1M theft


WINNIPEG -- The former head of a Manitoba aboriginal health agency is accused of stealing more than $1 million from the organization as well as from a reserve he once co-managed.

The RCMP say Daryl Joseph Cote, 53, of Winnipeg, is charged with two counts of theft and two counts of fraud.

Police say the charges were laid following a four-year investigation by the Winnipeg RCMP commercial crime section.

The investigation began after a complaint from Health Canada.

Cote is the former CEO of Anishinaabe Mino-Ayaawin Inc. and the one-time co-manager of the Dauphin River First Nation.

RCMP allege Cote stole more than $700,00 from the health agency between 1999 and 2004, and more than $300,000 from the First Nation between 2001 and 2004.

The health agency delivered programs and services to seven Manitoba First Nations.

Comments Part of CBC Website is under question:

I know some bloggers including myself have been under criticism because some comments do not get published. Based on this Article from Canadian Press I believe that there are times when individuals may feel very passionate about something but it borders on hatred, generalizations and feeding the misconceptions that breed racism.

Even though we are criticized there are times that criticism is worth it because this particular blog was not about trying to promote those thoughts or values.

Aboriginal leaders accuse CBC of allowing website readers to promote racism


WINNIPEG — The CBC has failed to police its website and has given racists a forum to spew hatred, Manitoba aboriginal leaders charged Wednesday.

The Southern Chiefs Organization distributed printouts of comments left by CBC website readers in response to stories on aboriginal issues in Manitoba, British Columbia and other provinces. Dozens of the comments suggested natives were drunks, criminals or incapable of supporting themselves.

"Those (comments) definitely have no place in the public domain," said Grand Chief Morris Swan-Shannacappo.

"The world will always have racists and kooks and people who just don't know what they're talking about. But the CBC ... has provided them with a forum they can use to attack our people."
Swan-Shannacappo said he has seen similar comments on other media websites which allow readers to post their thoughts, but his organization is singling out the CBC partly because it is federally funded and should be held to a high standard of accountability.

The broadcaster said all reader comments are pre-screened by a combination of in-house and third-party monitoring agents, but admitted some comments slip through the cracks.

"Because this is a subjective exercise, sometimes those things get through," CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said from Toronto.

The CBC website allows readers to report racist or other objectionable content that slips through for a second review.

Swan-Shannacappo admitted that many comments he objected to had been removed, but said the removals sometimes take hours because they rely on public input.

The corporation is looking at ways to improve monitoring of public comments, Keay said, including a possible temporary shutdown of public comments when discussions get heated.
"If the abusive stuff starts to pile up, it may make sense to discontinue it, to let things cool off," he said.

Many of the comments that have raised the ire of the southern chiefs have come in response to news stories about aboriginal crime or tragedy.

One reader comment regarding a Manitoba aboriginal leader charged with theft and fraud said aboriginals "just want to leech from society, sell cheap smokes and drink beer."

Another reader commenting on a story about a fatal house fire on the Chemainus First Nation in British Columbia suggested aboriginals "should go out into the real world and work for a roof over their heads like the rest of us."

The southern chiefs called on the Manitoba government to step in and force the CBC to improve its monitoring of reader comments.

Steve Ashton, Manitoba's acting attorney general, called the comments offensive and racist, but said there is little the province can do. Because the CBC is federally regulated, the chiefs organization should take its complaint to the federal human rights commission, the RCMP or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, he said.

The complaints about the CBC could serve as a warning to other media outlets that allow readers to post their thoughts on the web, said a law professor at the University of Manitoba.

"If you've got control over what messages go up ... you can be held responsible," Karen Busby said.

Busby said website comments are comparable to letters to the editor that are printed by newspapers. She pointed to a 2002 letter published in the Red Deer Advocate in Alberta that suggested gays were as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.

Darren Lund, a high school teacher, complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission and in a settlement, the newspaper agreed to ban letters that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.The commission later ordered the writer of the letter, Stephen Boissoin of the Concerned Christian Coalition, to pay Lund $5,000 in damages. Boissoin is appealing that ruling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brazeau in the News Again

Okay – I guess I thought I did not care about his personal laundry but now I am annoyed.

Message for Patrick Brazeau:

Firstly, Patrick this so called “Native Establishment” who is that – your 14 year old son who knows you as a dead beat. The Aboriginal community that now perceives you as a less then honest person and full of hypocrisy. Have you ever heard the term our elders taught us about “Walk the Talk”?

Could I even begin to imagine what your latest untruth would warrant in the news now? You paid 0.089% of your income from the Congress of Aboriginal People to your 14 year old son in child support payments. You could not even bother to send the crumbs sometimes – no matter what processing excuse you chose to use as an excuse. Let us be clear – you are contributing approximately $3 per day to the well being of your child. Hardly what would be needed for bus fare to attend school. He certainly could not afford the lessons necessary to achieve a black belt in Karate. You have got to be kidding me. I am not sure what the laws are in Quebec but this is crazy. You are now paying 0.072% of your Senate income in child support – if you can be bothered to submit the payments. Let’s also be honest Patrick – the salary both at the Congress and now at the Senate does not come without other financial and personal rewards. That was only the dollar income that you reported less benefits and less expenses.

Patrick – you profess to be the great Aboriginal Leader who is going to change things from the Senate for the betterment of Aboriginal peoples and the people of Canada. Well maybe your first mandate should be to change the laws of this country so that people with no integrity can’t sit in the upper house. If you were truly the Aboriginal leader you profess to be you would not need a court to tell you to be responsible for your son’s well being. You would have increased his entitlement to a life that you chose to make him a part of when you impregnated his mother. Your child’s mother should not have to be in a position where she can demonstrate what a dead beat dad you are. (O yea – I’d like to make note that I don’t imagine she sees herself as part of the “Native Establishment” that you would like to blame for all your dirty laundry.)

In my view - the Congress of Aboriginal People should be sending a letter to Harper to firstly thank him for ridding the organization of you. Now they will work for decades to recover from the mess you have left them in – but why would you care – you will hide behind the apron of the Upper House.

Just as one last message – I am not the “Native Establishment”, Frankly, I am not sure who is – but I do know I do not have a relationship with AFN or anyone else that you perceive is your enemy and further to that – you don’t need any enemies because you definitely have one that is looking you in the mirror each day.

New senator lagged on $100 child support

Harper's controversy-plagued appointee repeatedly fell behind on payments for his son

Feb 10, 2009 04:30 AM

OTTAWA–Three times in the past five years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most controversial new Senate appointee fell behind in support payments for a son he has not spoken to in eight years – payments that totalled less than $100 per month.

Patrick Brazeau, the 34-year-old former aboriginal leader who was appointed to the Senate in December, missed one payment as recently as 11 months ago at a time when he was earning a six-figure income.

In an interview yesterday, he said he did not want to air any personal "dirty laundry," but he acknowledged he had been late on some payments and said he would consider larger monthly payments for the well-being of his 14-year-old son now that he was earning more than $130,000 as a senator.

Brazeau, who is scheduled to give his maiden speech in the Senate today, has faced a series of allegations since his appointment, including a sexual harassment complaint and a draft audit of expenses at the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the congress he led, which resulted in a demand that at least $54,678 in expense claims be repaid.

Brazeau's style and penchant for luxurious trappings have also raised eyebrows, particularly his 2006 Porsche SUV.

"The child support payments are basically less than $100 a month," the son's mother, Dena Buckshot, said from her Gatineau, Que., home last week.

A spokesperson for Harper last night declined to comment on a "private matter," but a litany of charges against Brazeau has raised questions about how thoroughly the Prime Minister's Office vetted the young aboriginal leader before making the appointment.

Brazeau says many of the allegations are being brought by those who are pushing back against his bid to bring more transparency to the country's aboriginal leadership.

As national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Brazeau was widely viewed as a smart and articulate voice for aboriginal people living off-reserve, stirring the pot with talk of abolishing the Indian Act and bringing more accountability to native governments.

The former model with a black belt in karate was portrayed as a family man and spoke eloquently in the House of Commons the day Harper apologized for abuses in Indian residential schools.

Buckshot said she dated Brazeau briefly in 1993 but broke up with him soon after she discovered she was pregnant with the first of her three children.

She said she was concerned that Brazeau's visits with their son were inconsistent, so she sought to regulate matters through the Quebec courts in 2001.

The Star cannot publish information contained in documents from Quebec family court.

As a result of that process Buckshot said she began receiving bi-weekly child support, which is now $46.90 after it was raised by 2.5 per cent at the beginning of this year. Brazeau sends cheques to Revenue Quebec and the ministry sends a cheque to Buckshot twice a month.
Revenue Quebec has suspended these payments three times – twice in 2004 and once in 2008.

"We are writing to inform you that the debtor of support has not paid the amounts required under the act to facilitate the payment of support and that the (ministry) is taking steps to rectify the situation," says a letter dated Feb. 10, 2004. "In the meantime, however, the (ministry) has had to suspend your support payments."

She received a letter with an identical message dated Dec. 10, 2004 and a letter dated March 6, 2008 again says her support payments were suspended.

The letter lists a number of reasons why Revenue Quebec could not forward the payments – such as the debtor not having any income or the creditor not living in Quebec – but do not specify which applied to her situation.

Buckshot said gives her son the child support to use as pocket money. "I remember telling him this is how much he pays and I think (my son) was upset because he couldn't believe he drives a Porsche," she said.

The vehicle made waves when Brazeau started driving it around Parliament Hill but he said it is second-hand and he bought it before he learned of his appointment.

Brazeau said he does not want to discuss the issue of his relationship with his son.

"I'm not going to use the media from my vantage point to try and iron out this dirty laundry, so to speak," he said.

"My goal is still to develop a relationship with my son in the future, because it is true that I have not seen him in the last eight years, but the reasons for that are beyond my control and so I don't think that this is in the best interests of my son," he said.

He said he was aware some payments have been late "in terms of processing, but I have always issued cheques to Revenue Quebec in which they internally deal with forwarding the payment to the mother of my child."

He added that he has been paying the amount he was ordered to "and if there's any adjustments that need to be made in the future. ... I will pay accordingly."

Buckshot said friends and family have told her over the years to take Brazeau – who now makes $130,400 as a basic Senate salary – to court to increase his payments. She started the process when he first started working as a legal researcher at the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, but decided it would cost her too much time, stress and money.

Monday, February 9, 2009




We have added this to the sidebar links. Please watch as they add the latest news and confirm artists for the upcoming event.

We want to support our Metis community in anyway that we can. I received this comment earlier today and thought it needed its' own special post. For all those that can get out and support our Metis. I was told once that it is our responsibility to share our rich culture and heritage and that we were one of Canada's best kept secret for far too long. Here is a chance to assist in changing that:

Post from Dan Goodon read as follows:

Hello Metis Mama

We've been reading your blog over here in Manitoba for about a year now, keep up the good work and articles.

The reasoning i'm posting is to get the word of our newly formed Metis festival , henced the name " METISFEST". Held at the International Peace Gardens in the Majestic Turtle Mountains of Manitoba.


We are very excited in getting things going and have a good buzz happening here in Manitoba but need to keep getting the word out, in your neck of our Metis Nation . Please check our website , that just started up a week and a half ago.

I looked this morning and our count was over 500 hits, very happy with the interests. It is http://www.metisfest.com/ there is info on the site to get a hold of me, if you like.

But please visit the site or even better yet, please come and visit us in Manitoba this aug 28-30 and see how we fest here.

Dan Goodon Co-cordinator Metisfest

"Where the Fiddle and The Mountain Unite"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back to Patrick

CTV has given Senator Brazeau an opportunity to respond to the allegations and stories that seem to be haunting him. There appears to be a great deal of “No Not Me” but very little to back up the claims. It would seem like a simple matter to disclose correspondence from Health Canada saying that the $200,000 plus in expenses that he now claims are allowable have been accepted by Health Canada as legitimate. In addition, it would seem like things like $7,000 plus cheques going to each of the Board Members including himself would be explained.
If the reports are sealed to protect the complainant why is the complainant asking for them to be made public and pursuing the matter to other judicial reviews? Just a few things that seem to not have answers – but also recognizing that some of the more personal things – like child support and relationships with kids is not information that should be a part of public domain in my view. Those issues need to remain with his son and he needs to be answerable to him – in my view it is not part of the package of being transparent and accountable. I do recognize that media has a way of going after all public figures and I guess it makes them a target for all their dirty laundry to be aired but personally I do not find any great satisfaction in trying to assess his personal life character based on hearing a 5 second clip on his value as a father. This segment aired on Question Period if you have time to watch. By the way - I also do not buy into the belief that we all need to drive an old rusted out vehicle because we are Aboriginal. If he is the one buying the Porsche why would we care? I do not think we expect to see our leaders driviong thier red river cart around Ottawa.

Brazeau dismisses 'personal attacks'


Embattled Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau defended himself against allegations of corruption and sexual harassment Sunday, saying the personal attacks are the byproduct of his ongoing fight against what he called the "native establishment."

08/02/2009 1:02:07 PM

CTV.ca News Staff

During an interview on CTV's Question Period, Brazeau answered questions about allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of public funds during his time as leader of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

Brazeau said that while he would not speculate on "who may or may not be after me," he did say the attacks on his character signal a backlash against his willingness to challenge how native leaders are dealing with the plight of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

"Many times when you attack the native establishment and you demand for more accountability, obviously I have not made many friends," Brazeau said. "And so I have always been open, transparent and always invited people to criticize my policies. Unfortunately, it's more in the realm of personal attacks now than professional attacks."

During the interview, Brazeau faced a barrage of questions about a series of allegations that critics have leveled against him since his appointment to the Senate late last year.

Brazeau, 34, is one of the youngest senators to ever be appointed to the upper house.

The father of three children has faced criticism for not having a relationship with his 14-year-old son. In Sunday's interview, Brazeau said the matter was "hurtful" and acknowledged that he has not seen his son for eight years.

"But there are reasons beyond my control for that," he said, adding that he has paid child support over those eight years.

When asked about his desire to keep his six-figure salary as head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples while getting a six-figure paycheque as a senator, Brazeau said that he had just been re-elected in November for a four-year term with the Congress and had hoped to continue his work with the organization.

He said he consulted with the Senate ethics officer and others before deciding that keeping the job would have led to the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"I have invested a lot of time into that organization and I was looking forward to continuing the hard work I started," Brazeau said. "So whether it would have been a full-time paid position, a half salary or no salary at all, I was looking into that possibility. But the bottom line is I made the personal choice to step down because I foresaw some potential conflict of interest and even perceived conflict of interest."

In addition to the allegations that he was trying to double his salary, it also came to light that a former Congress employee launched a sexual harassment complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

According to Brazeau, the complaint is against the Congress, not him personally, and the allegations were first dealt with in a third-party investigation.

"There was a full investigation that was conducted by a third party who has expertise in dealing with these issues," Brazeau said. "And the conclusion of the investigation was that there was no wrongdoing on my part and there was no harassment done on my part."

The final report issued by the investigators, who Brazeau did not name, has not been made public. Brazeau said that even he has not read it, but understands it has been sealed to protect the privacy of the complainant.

Office drinking

Brazeau also defended his decision to bring with him to Ottawa two former Congress staffers who co-workers witnessed drinking in his office.

"The two individuals who have come to work for me at the Senate are highly qualified people, people that I certainly trust, and will have a lot to contribute not only to myself but to the Senate and for all Canadians as well," he said.

Brazeau said that one employee had seen the two drinking in his office on one occasion, after office hours, and not long before Christmas.

Following the incident, Brazeau and the Congress's board of directors established a no-alcohol-on-the-premises policy, he said.

On allegations that he and other Congress staffers misappropriated nearly $260,000 in funds, which was discovered during a Health Canada audit, Brazeau countered that the agency was merely asking for supplementary documentation to justify about $200,000 in expenses, which the Congress did.

Health Canada is currently seeking re-payment of about $52,000, Brazeau said, but the Congress is in the process of justifying those expenses, as well.

Brazeau also dismissed critics who complain he should not be driving a Porsche SUV around Ottawa when he represents an impoverished segment of the population.

He said he bought the car second-hand, and before Prime Minister Stephen Harper called him with the offer to sit in the Senate.

Metis National Council responding to call from feds for economic development advice

This article came out in today’s Grassroots News. It is stale dated and so the part that the Federal Budget gave no stimulus is not reported here. We have heard that the bureaucrats in Ottawa under the Minister have advised the MNC that the Minister is disappointed that there was nothing for the Métis but he would work to help them find other resources if he could. We will have to wait and see what that exactly means. Does that mean that after the Board of Governors contribute their present economic stimulus and extra dollars to pay for the 1.8 million dollar deficit the Minister will find ways to continue to support them or does that mean he will forgive them their indiscretions – wipe clean the money and not publish the embarrassing facts like they did with the Congress of Aboriginal People?

By GRN Staff

The Metis National Council took an important step in responding to a call for advice on ways to undertake economic development from the federal government by holding a Working Group Meeting at the Clarion Hotel in Winnipeg on January 13 – 14, 2009. Delegates from Manitoba and Saskatchewan fine tuned policy papers covering topics ranging from the need for a holistic approach to integrating economic opportunities and initiatives, to support services such as child care, financial institutions including venture capital corporations, and even bursaries and greater access to gaming revenues.

"To assist in the development of a new framework for economic development, we need to hear from you," said Chuck Strahl, Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. "My Department will engage people like you across the country to seek views on how the federal government can help secure the economic well-being and prosperity of Aboriginal peoples."

The Gathering in Winnipeg was co-ordinated by Mark LeClair, Metis National Council, who was pleased with the progress which was made.

"This meeting was critical to moving forward with our stimulus package tabled with the federal government as they complete their economic development framework for the country by the end of March this year," said LeClair. "By bringing together Metis economic leaders from Human Resource Departments and Capital Corporations from Ontario to British Columbia, we achieved consensus on the package while adding some great new ideas."

LeClair added that the MNC has recommended $200 million each year for the next two years of Metis economic initiatives to be included in the new federal budget (again, please check today's newspaper as the federal budget was released as GRN went to press).

The bottom line for these "high-falootin' meetings" is the impact the discussions and decision will have at the grassroots level – for the independent, Metis who actually run a small business and create the jobs and profits which will sustain the Metis Nation economy. One such business is Bluesky Bed and Sled – a dogsled experience package run by Gerald Azure out of Churchill, Manitoba. Grassroots News asked Gerald if his attendance at the summit in Winnipeg was as un"fur"gettable as the catchy slogan he uses to market his very unique business (a bed and breakfast combined with a dog sled run).

"It is good that the federal government is finally recognizing and is willing to work with the Metis and build on what we do as individuals so that positive results can be achieved on a more massive scale," said Azure. "The meeting in Winnipeg and the package we created gives us credibility."

Azure's business has grown from two sled dogs providing 15 sled rides during his first season to 1,100 rides last year. They found a six bedroom house in Churchill and the maximum four bedrooms which are allowed to be used for rental accommodations by the town of Churchill are routinely full during the long, winter season up north.

"We not only have to work harder, we have to work smarter," says Azure. "And everything you make has to be invested back into the business. But the satisfaction of being your own boss is worth it.""We don't want the Metis to be left behind when it comes to the business end of things so we welcome the opportunity to provide practical advice to the politicians (MNC) who have to negotiate with the federal government on our behalf."

Even if that practical advice includes things like, "Bluesky Mush" is not a theme park like Disney World. I carry a rifle with me when we go out on a ride. Those are real bears and wolves out there on the trail."

Adventurous types who want to learn more about cruising the cool north on a dog sled can check out blueskymush on the internet.

Grassroots News on Chiefs and Missing Money

This story was written in the Grassroots News. I have to say one thing before you read this… It is somewhat surprising that more editing staff is not being utilized at this news source…but as so many of you in Manitoba have clearly laid out … this is a David controlled paper … the advertisement for employment at the newspaper must read …No writing experience required. The article does run on and has very little focus but it does contain the information in relation to several recent news items - so I have not edited its' content.

NEWS BRIEFS – Breaking News By GRN Staff

First Nations leaders, especially Chiefs, can take some solace in the news that over $9 million was "misplaced" and not accounted for properly by staff at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Chiefs are often maligned for failure to comply with proper accounting procedures, and Grassroots News has become convinced over the years that, while there are some Chiefs who have abused the system, most are trying to run governments with minimal resources while trying to comply with reporting procedures that are completely overbearing and often repetitive and unnecessary. The good news is that First Nations citizens are rising up against corrupt Chiefs (sometimes against all odds because those same Chiefs who rip off the system are usually backed by the power of handouts, nepotism and the authority that goes with the office). The bureaucrats at INAC were accused of mismanagement, inappropriate use of authority, playing favorites, running their Department like a dictatorship, massive absenteeism (stop us when this starts sounding familiar). But, unlike First Nations, who can rise up and oust a crooked leader, the bureaucrats at INAC who @#$%^&'ed up all kept their jobs (two were demoted, one kept his position). Then again, what's $9 million?

The confusion surrounding whether or not all those nice, tidy little homes along Kenaston Boulevard (formerly home to the soldiers of Kapyong Barracks who were transferred to Edmonton) can be used to provide badly needed housing for low income working families, or shelter for single moms on social assistance, or even the homeless got.. more confusing.. as federal Tory bag man Vic Toews implied that the housing will not be made available to First Nations unless they drop their land claim.. but then Toews said he didn't "mean they had to drop the claim". Meanwhile, First Nations leaders, who have indicated that the houses along Kenaston could indeed be used for First Nations citizens in the past, have indicated that they are not interested in the Kapyong property for housing.. their claim is to turn the property into an urban Reserve. Most confusing to the public is the fact all this money is being spent to heat, clean, repair, mow the lawns and even paint these houses while they sit vacant year after year after year.

The fate of three multi-billion-dollar pipelines, and the role of First Nations in approving such projects, and the claim for royalties and compensation to be paid to First Nations if the pipelines go ahead, rests in the hands of a Winnipeg judge. Treaty One First Nations (1871) claim that there is a duty to consult with them before these pipelines are built and this was not done. The seven Treaty One First Nations are demanding Judge Robert Barnes order a halt to construction unless they are consulted and paid royalties and compensation. Lawyers for pipeline companies Enbridge and TranCanada, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and the federal government claim the pipelines have little impact on Treaty Rights and that even if consultation is required, it would be "at the lowest end of the spectrum". There are billions of dollars at stake here (in construction costs of the pipelines, the value of the sale of oil which flows through the pipelines, and royalties/compensation). Judge Barnes wouldn't say when he would reach a decision but Grassroots News wonders why lawyers for the federal government are always lined up with whomever the Indians are fighting with to gain their rights. Isn't the federal government supposed to be on the side of First Nations in protecting Treaty Rights? And, of course, what kind of justice can we expect when the game is always played by the white man's rules, in the white man's court, subject to His laws?

Meanwhile, Enbridge has given five Dakota First Nations 100 grand each but they had to withdraw their intervener status with the National Energy Board and sign a Memorandum of Understanding. This "bird in the hand" might cost them billions in the bush.

The Assembly of First Nations has asked the federal government for an $8 billion dollar stimulus that would reinstate the Kelowna Accord and add new money for thousand of new houses, upgrade water treatment systems and build new schools. National Chief Phil Fontaine had dinner with Prime Minister Harper on January 15 and said the AFN came away "pleased" with the PM's response. The new federal budget is announced on January 27th, 2009 (the same say Grassroots News is published so we have no news about what is in that budget). You can find out how much money has been set aside for First Nations by searching the internet, reading one of our daily newspapers or on the TV news. Is Phil still pleased?

About 200 students gathered at the University of Winnipeg to protest a proposed move by the federal government to transfer the administration of post-secondary funding for First Nations students from INAC to the Canada Student Loans Program (picture appears elsewhere in GRN). The federal move would mean funding for tuition, books and living expenses would be a loan, making it even more difficult for First Nations students to improve their lives through education (as if it is not bad enough that funds for post-secondary education have been capped at 2 per cent since 1996 creating a long waiting list, and don't forget that many First Nations students already take out loans to supplement their meagre incomes). Look! We can't have it both ways! The Canadian public is always claiming it wants to help improve the lives of First Nations, mostly the economic standing of First Nations, and the best way to do that is through education. Just 4 per cent of Canada's Aboriginal population have university degrees while 15 per cent of the rest of the Canadian population have degrees so "do the math". We can't make it harder for First Nations to escape poverty. Besides, education is a treaty right (and don't give us that crap about "universities never existed when the Treaties were signed so they weren't talking about post-secondary education, just K-12". Yeah, right! Give us a break! The whole word was different back then. The Treaties are meant to cover things generally, this is why health care is referred to as "the medicine chest shall always be full" and economic development is covered by "the provision of plough shares" Education is education and what was meant in the Treaties was not restricted to elementary or high school or university.

Another crowd of about 200 First Nations and Metis citizens gathered at the Aboriginal Centre on Friday, Jan 23rd, 2009 but this was a much happier lot as they were celebrating extension and expansion of the Aboriginal Aerospace Employment Initiative. And that means 200 more Aboriginal citizens will get training and employment experience in one of Manitoba's oldest and most established industries. The federal and provincial governments, along with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD), the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, MKO and the Southern Chiefs Organization are teaming up to sponsor the program which will provide literacy, like skills, classroom and on-the-job training leading to full-time and permanent employment. Say what you want about CAHRD and the Aboriginal Council, these guys are good at getting government grants (this latest one is worth a whopping $13.9 million in total), and they must doing something right because they are building on an existing program that must have been accountable and produced results in the past. Hey, if they are graduating people with skills in a complicated industry like aerospace, and helping Aboriginal people get permanent, good-paying jobs in one of Winnipeg's most stable labour markets, more power to them (see picture elsewhere in GRN).

And finally, about 200 students from Gordon Bell High School gathered on Portage Avenue at noon on Friday, Jan 23rd to yell "Gimme a G R E E N Gimme an S P A C E" and tell Canada Post that the large, one black square property which used to be Midway Chrysler would be better used as a sports field than a postal service outlet. The high school has been concrete bound since it opened 49 years ago but now has an historic chance to create a badly needed recreational facility right beside their classrooms along Canada's most famous freeway. This one is such a no-brainer, Grassroots News staff will lay across Portage Avenue during rush hour if the students don't get their way (well, at least the Editor will). Picture also appears in this edition of GRN.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fort Chip cancer rates higher than expected: report

I believe the news and stories clearly show the position of the Government in relation to Aboriginal People

I had the good fortune to visit Fort Chipewyan many years ago. It is a very isolated mostly Aboriginal community in northeastern Alberta. If you were to consider a community that has been impacted by its’ environment – there is no greater place.

The community lies along the shore of Lake Athabasca. When I went there it was a terrain that had its’ own beauty but it came with many challenges. To give you a small glimpse of the community the hamlet of Fort Chipewyan has a small population – based on the 2006 census it had 915 people. The population in Fort Chipewyan and the surrounding area is largely made up of Cree First Nations, Chipewyan First Nations and Métis people.

The media yesterday through an Alberta Health report released alarming statistics in relation to the cancer rates of people living in this community. The Alberta report and the government is quick to say there is no proven ability to consider that this may be a result of their environment.

The Governments can look the other way – blame others and try to convince Americans of their clean oil but the people of Fort Chipewyan could tell you a story that started many years ago.

Lake Athabasca has one of the worlds largest fresh water deltas which receives water from the Peace River, Slave River and the Athabasca. The Peace Athabasca delta also has the designation of being the largest boreal delta in the world.

In 1968 a dam was built on the Peace River called the Bennett Dam. The flooding of the Finlay and Peace river valleys was a tragedy for the aboriginal people and the impacts were felt from the reservoir valleys through to Fort Chipewyan. In fact, late last fall one of the Aboriginal groups called the Kwadacha First Nation received a multi million dollar settlement for the damages that they endured as a result of the dam.

The Bennett Dam also caused the water levels in the Peace Athabasca Delta to significantly drop. BC Hydro has disputed that at different times but there has been different things attempted to try and raise the levels in the past which even include weirs.

The loss of water levels in the Delta has environmental effects on the Fort Chip people but it also has life style impacts. The people of Fort Chipewyan are dependent on the water way as a means of transportation throughout the summer and fall months of the year. It provides the community with a means to barge their supplies into the community and they also use it as a source of access to traditional food sources. When the delta water recedes the barges can not move. The boats can’t depend on it as a mode of transportation - they must rely on sustaining their lives on process foods that are preserved; they must rely on expensive transportation to bring in this less then ideal food source; they must use air travel to access the required medical services that they may need and mostly the issue of the delta is that it is one of the avenues of contaminating Lake Athabasca.

Then we start with the issue of the mining that has contaminated the water sources between Fort McMurray and Fort Chip. The tailing ponds that have been knowingly leaking and sending toxic recipes into the waterways both surface and subsurface. There have been times that notices have been sent out about warnings about the fish and wildlife source being less then healthy and that they should not be eating animals in certain areas.

I am also not indicating that the tar sands and dams are the only detriment to this community because on the north shore of lake Athabasca (Saskatchewan Side) there is the uranium mining and gold mining.

None of this is the entire story … there are the issues that there has been no investment of infrastructure to support the needs of the community in the area of education, health or programming. Often – even though many hear about the plentiful jobs available for the taking and opportunities galore – Fort Chip is to far away to benefit (you mostly must fly in and out of the community or if the waterway is open it is a 6 - 8 hour boat ride to Fort McMurray) but they are not far enough away not to be impacted.

Over the last several years the Aboriginal leaders in Fort Chipewyan have been raising the issue of the number of their family members that seemed to be contracting cancer. The death toll to cancer appeared to be higher based on what they knew and the forms of cancer were rare. In 2002/03 Dr. John O’Connor of Fort Chip began speaking out about the issues related to the patients he was working with. He was later put before a great deal of professional challenges by the Alberta Government for raising the alarm on the issue and the Alberta Government insisted that these allegations were unfounded. The Aboriginal people of Fort Chip were forced to do some of their own studies relating to the water and the fish to try and make the government take the allegations seriously. They found higher levels of various toxins in the fish, water and soil.
In the spring of 2006 - Dr. O'Connor wanted the oil industry to pay for health research that would explain the high rate and rarity of the cancers in the community. In May of 2008 the Alberta Government in partnership with Health Canada agreed to launch what they termed a "Comprehensive Review" that would have the results released in the fall of 2008.
Well here we are in the early part of 2009 and a report is released …. But comprehensive …. I would say not. Comprehensive would have had recommendations that clearly set the parameters of assessing responsibility. It would not have had the Government of Alberta still denying any environmental causes.

As Canadians we can all turn the other way – it is not our children, our elders and our community that is drinking the water – eating the food and suffering the consequences of our industrial greed. We watch governments work with industry to ignore the issues that are raised in relation to the on-going development without hesitation for the long term impacts of what this does. In fact, one of the Alberta Members of the Legislative Assembly said we should be happy that the industry is mining the oil because when he went on a site visit the stuff is just bubbling up and contaminating the water ways.

We must remember that many international and national corporations have been making billions of dollars in profits and as they try to tell you about their Community Responsibility and Relationships they would sooner look the other way and continue to ignore the facts.

The ERCB released new regulations on tailing ponds this week – this will not clean up the underground water and soil contamination that has gone on for decades.

All of this seems far too little far too late. And now…the saga continues as there is talk about another dam on the Peace River by Dunvegan. Industry keeps progressing and Aboriginal people are overlooked.

Mother by Nature - An interesting Blog

Recently there has been media attention on New Brunswick about whether there should be the National Anthem in the School’s everyday because of its’ reference to God. Freedom of Religion within our charter would infer that Canada is a place where all religions are allowed to exist without imposing your religious beliefs on another. As an Aboriginal person living in Canada I do understand that the imposition of another’s values, beliefs and culture on ours has been the make up of many tragedies that Métis, First Nations and Inuit people are still dealing with today.

There is a blog called "Mother by Nature" that recently posted an item that I thought was interesting and had some very interesting views. I thought I would share it with all of you:


O Canada Thy History is Confused

So I was googling the lyrics to O Canada. Purely out of laziness, so I could just copy-paste and print instead of typing them out myself. I’m not hyper-patriotic or anything… in fact I think the recent hubbub about the New Brunswick elementary school that decided to stop singing the anthem every single day is just ridiculous. I mean, do we as adults sing the anthem every single day in our workplaces? Forcing kids to sing it in school every single day is not going to instill patriotism. At best, it produces boredom and annoyance, it stops having meaning and becomes a pointless ritual. At worst, it’s propaganda and indoctrination, pure and simple.

We should want to sing the anthem because we love our country, because we feel it to be a country worth being proud of. The cause and effect goes in that direction, not the other way around. We don’t come to love our country by singing the anthem!

Anyway, I still think it’s important that my kids know the anthem, and can sing it. So we’re going to start singing it together… maybe once a week. Maybe not that often. Whatever, just so that we learn it. And the history of it is quite interesting, so we’ll take a look at that too.

For instance, there’s the whole changing-of-the-lyrics thing. I found this great clip on youtube, which is a wax cylinder recording of a performance of the 1908 lyrics. These were not the first english lyrics, but they are the ones from which our current version eventually evolved.

Then I visited the official government heritage website detailing the history of the anthem. It was fascinating, except…

According to the listed history, a committee formed in 1967 recommended a version of the lyrics which are the ones we use today, adding “from far and wide” and “God keep our land” to replace two of the “we stand on guard” phrases.

But that did not match my memory.

I distinctly remember having to learn the new lyrics in elementary school, in the early 80s. I wasn’t even alive in 1967. What’s more, the lyrics that I remember having learnt first did not match the previous version as listed on the official website.

Leave it to wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org/) to clear it up for me.

In 1980, the song was (finally) officially adopted as our national anthem, with a revised set of lyrics.

The original 1908 lyrics went, from just before the ‘chorus’:

And stand on guard, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee,
O Canada, O Canada,O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

The lyrics used until 1980 were:

And stand on guard, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee,
O Canada, glorious and free
We stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

Ahh… THAT’s what I remember. And THAT is not mentioned anywhere on the official heritage website! How confusing must our anthem’s history be, that even the government’s own history website does not get it right?

And of course, here is the version officially adopted in 1980 that we use today:

From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee,
God keep our land glorious and free
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

Even our modern version is not without controversy. Many Canadians object to the religious aspect of “God keep our land” — interestingly, that was one of the lines added later, and was never in the original.

There is also objection to the “In all thy sons command” line, as it is gender-exclusive. Before you go thinking “oh that’s just overly PC, we should keep it the way it is for history and tradition’s sake” — you should know that this was also not part of the original. The original line, as you can hear in the youtube clip, was “Thou dost in us command,” which was changed to the “sons” line in a 1914 revision. Considering that at that time in our history, bills proposing women’s suffrage and property rights were still being defeated in some parts of the country, it is not unreasonable to interpret this as a sexist sentiment, that women are not capable of “true patriot love.”

A proposed modern alternative is “In all of us command.” I could live with that.

The other line that raises hackles is “Our home and native land,” and this one has always bothered me. The issue is simply that this is not the ‘native land’ of all Canadian citizens. Not only is it not true for more recent immigrants, but the vast majority of the Canadian population is descended from immigrants. This is only truly “native land” for the aboriginal populations, and it’s quite offensive IMO for us white folk to loudly proclaim that this is OUR native land, after everything we’ve done to the aboriginal peoples.

In fact, when I sing this line, I make a subtle change in my head. I don’t change the words, just the meaning. This is “our home”, but we are living on “native land.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Being President can get your children in the headlines when things go wrong....

In Today's Winnipeg Sun:


The son of Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of drug-fuelled break-ins and robberies.

At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Judge Heather Pullan gave Christopher Guiboche, 24, double credit of two years for time already served, reducing his remaining sentence to one year.

Guiboche was arrested Oct. 30, 2007 after police spotted him on the roof of a Regent Avenue liquor commission, the lookout during an attempted break-in.

He was released on a promise to appear, only to be re-arrested two weeks later after robbing a North End bingo hall.

Court heard Guiboche threatened a volunteer with a pellet gun before making off with $1,000 cash.


Guiboche was released on bail the following January but was returned to custody three months later when his father reported he was continuing to use crack.

During an interview with police, Guiboche confessed to breaking in to the MMF'S Henry Street office on Oct. 20, 2007 and stealing $1,400 from a bank machine.

Guiboche was previously employed as a security officer at the building but was fired after he repeatedly showed up drunk for work.

"He knows he has disappointed his father and he knows he has disappointed his community," said defence lawyer Lisa Labossiere.

Chartrand described his son as a "kind, hard-working, compassionate boy" driven to crime by his addiction to drugs, Labossiere said.

"He did not know who his son was. His son was a different person."

Pullan rejected a defence request Guiboche be sentenced to time served, saying he has shown no evidence he is ready to abide by probation conditions.

After being released by police following his first arrest, Guiboche's behaviour "escalated to a shocking extent," Pullan said.

"The degree of brazenness for a man just released for a break-in is alarming."

Canada's Record on Indigenous Rights Questioned at UN Human Rights Council

OTTAWA, Feb. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The international community has sent a strong message that the Government of Canada must do more to uphold the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada's human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, February 3 as part of the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

Of the 45 states that spoke during the three -hour session, 30 raised concerns about the rights of Indigenous peoples. Some of the strongest recommendations came from states that have traditionally allied with Canada in the promotion of human rights.

The United Kingdom, for example, recommended that Canada give its "highest priority" to addressing "fundamental inequalities" between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people including through "resolution of land claims and reconciliation of governance and self-government."

The governments of Norway and Denmark called on Canada to reconsider its opposition to the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Norwegian representative said, "We believe the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is unique as a universal framework for improving implementation of existing rights of Indigenous peoples in all countries of the world."

The government of Norway also called for "comprehensive reporting and statistical analysis of the scale and character of violence against Indigenous women so that a national strategy can be initiated in consultation with Indigenous representatives to respond to the severity of this issue."

Switzerland expressed concern over the lengthy process for resolving Indigenous land disputes and the concessions demanded by the government as a condition for settling claims. Switzerland urged Canada to "redouble its efforts" to resolve land disputes and to improve the mechanisms for doing so.

Canada was also questioned about the rights of Indigenous peoples by states with close economic ties. The government of the Philippines asked, "Is there specific legislation which covers mining activities in lands claimed by Indigenous communities? What mechanisms are in place to resolve possible disputes between private corporations, local and federal government and Indigenous communities in this regard?"

Twenty-three states did not have a chance to speak because of time constraints. They have submitted questions and recommendations in writing. For example, Zambia recommended Canada "take steps to review its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, consistent with the principal of international cooperation and the protection of the international human rights system as a whole."

Canada failed to consult with Indigenous peoples' organizations and domestic human rights groups before submitting its report to the Human Rights Council. Such consultation is recommended by the UPR process. Unfortunately, the failure to hold consultations was not made clear in Canada's report or in yesterday's session, which led some states to congratulate Canada on its consultations.

"The government is working with Aboriginal communities to agree on priorities," John Sims, the Deputy Minister of Justice, told the UN Human Rights Council. "The challenges are enormous. The scale of issues to confront is vast and many of the issues are technically very complex but we're moving ahead on many fronts: education, entrepreneurship, economic development, land
claims, safe drinking water and so on."

Indigenous peoples' organizations and human rights groups are calling on Canada to take the recommendations of the UPR seriously and to engage constructively with Indigenous peoples and civil society to ensure their implementation.

The report of the Council's UPR Working Group will be released on Thursday, February 5. The Government of Canada will have until June to respond.

Video recordings of the session and related documents can be found online at: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090203

For further information:
Assembly of First Nations:
Don Kelly, Communications, (613) 241-6789 ext 334, dkelly@afn.ca

Gina Cosentino, Government Relations + International Affairs, National Chief's Office, (613)
241-6789 ext 356, gcosentino@afn.ca;

Amnesty International Canada: Beth Berton-Hunter, Media Officer,
Amnesty International Canada, (416) 363-9933, ext 32, Cell: (416) 904-7158;

Canadian Friends Service Committee: Jennifer Preston, (416) 920-5213;

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Stephen Hendrie, Director of Communications, Cell: (613) 277-3178, hendrie@itk.ca;

Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada): Corinne Gray, (613) 563-2642;

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice: Ed Bianchi, Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator, (613) 235-9956;

Native Women's Association of Canada: Celeste McKay, cell: (613) 858-7070;

Quebec Native Women: Ellen Gabriel, (450) 632-0088 ext. 228

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on Senator Brazeau in the news….

The Federal Government must be rubbing their chins and asking themselves – What the heck have we gotten into and how do we fix it? I will say good luck because obviously those of us that are at a community level have been wondering that ourselves.

The bad news is not going away for past CAP leader, Patrick Brazeau. CTV news did a piece on the newly appointed Senator which ended with him driving his new Porshe. He certainly has brought to the attention of all Canadians that it does not matter how many issues may be a part of your past … if you are a friend of Prime Minister Harper’s accountability is not an issue. In fact the CTV broadcast certainly brought forward some very disturbing accounts of a man who is ridden with fallacies and who is not the person he portrayed himself to be.

The other two individuals who were at CAP and riddled with some of the same accusations that are facing Senator Brazeau have left the organization are now a part of the support staff for the Brazeau in the senate.

Even the leadership hopefuls for the AFN’s top job are now weighing into the story. Attached are a couple of articles in relation to these matters.

Reserve seats in Commons, Senate for aboriginals: Chief



OTTAWA -- Parliament should set aside a minimum number of seats in the House of Commons and the Senate for aboriginals, says a top Ontario candidate for the job of national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

John Beaucage, grand council chief of the 42-member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation, said the AFN needs to be "more than a special interest group" lobbying federal officials. Instead, he said, it should focus more on acting as a steward of native self-government.

"We are a government in principle," he said.

New Zealand, a fellow Commonwealth country with a parliamentary system, already sets aside seats for Maoris, he said. "I think that could ... hold true for Canada."

While there are aboriginals in Canada's parliament, they often have to vote the party line, rather than defend the interests of First Nations, Beaucage said.

And he added one of them -- recently appointed Senator Patrick Brazeau -- had "hurt" aboriginal causes. Brazeau, former head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which purports to speak for urban First Nations, has been the subject of controversy since his appointment. "He does not speak for us."

About 60% of First Nations people don't live on reserves and are not represented by the AFN. Beaucage said he would like to see the organization represent them as well.

So far, three candidates are running to become the next head of the AFN: Beaucage, Perry Bellegarde of Saskatchewan, and B.C.'s Shawn Atleo.

Current AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine has not said if he will run for re-election.

Don Martin: Patrick Brazeau should have stayed a 'senator-in-waiting'


Posted: February 03, 2009, 10:44 AM by Dan Goldbloom

It's hard to imagine how such a thoroughly damaged resumé could've survived the supposedly ruthless scrutiny of the Prime Minister's Office, particularly when the job is a 40-year guaranteed Senate gig with an annual salary of $130,000 plus perks.

But the allegations, investigations and accusations against newly-appointed aboriginal Senator Patrick Brazeau, 34, are piling up in such a frenzy that it's quickly put the unelected Senate under a negative light, and must surely embarrass Canada's other six native senatorial representatives.

Consider the growing list of Brazeau indiscretions conveniently overlooked by the PMO, but unearthed by reporters in fairly short order.

Brazeau had to be arm-twisted to give up his six-figure job as chief of the Congress of Aboriginal People, lest it be seen as double-dipping on the taxpayers' tab.

That Conservative-cheerleading organization is still under investigation by Health Canada for its use or misuse of $260,000 in public funds including $16,050 in suspect payments to Brazeau or his sidekicks.

The man described in his bio as a loving father of three is darn close to qualifying to be a deadbeat dad with the mother of one offspring telling CTV that Brazeau hasn't seen or properly supported his 14-year-old son in eight years.

Brazeau's been seen tooling around Parliament Hill in a new Porsche SUV, has hired Ottawa staff who were reportedly hitting the sauce hard during work hours at his former congress job and is still fending off refuted allegations of sexual harassment at a human rights tribunal.

If this is the calibre of individual Stephen Harper had in mind when he set out to reform the Senate, well, it's enough to make you yearn for those days when they filled the place with backroom bagmen.

It's clear that Patrick Brazeau should've been kept a senator-in-waiting a bit longer to clear his name — or save taxpayers from a bad appointment.

AFN candidate challenging CAP in wake of Brazeau's departure

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Patrick Brazeau's departure from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has caused a candidate for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations to seek to drive CAP out of business by making AFN the true representative of "natives on and off reserves": "AFN contender targets rival native group."

I'll let others speak to the merits of that proposal. I just want to note one aspect of this report that fits with the larger Conservative modus operandi.

Note this part of the report, Harper's favouring of CAP over the Assembly of First Nations and Brazeau returning the favour:

Hostilities between the AFN and the Congress have festered for years, but came to a boil when Mr. Brazeau became national chief of the Congress in 2006. He regularly criticized the AFN and its political structure of on-reserve chiefs as unaccountable to aboriginals and unaccountable in their use of taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Brazeau was also far more overtly political than his predecessors, publicly endorsing the Conservative Party and its leader, Stephen Harper. In turn, Mr. Harper attended a gathering of the Congress but did not attend any meetings of the AFN.

The Conservative government also funded a cross-country tour by Mr. Brazeau, where he concluded that off-reserve aboriginals are sometimes banned from taking part in elections on the reserves where they or their family are from.

More of the Harper government's short-sighted philosophy of picking winners and losers on any given issue. We've seen it as well with the ethnic groups the Conservatives target for votes. Some are more sought out than others. The federal government shouldn't be favouring one organization here over another and sowing division. Less political opportunism, more good governance. This the Conservatives have failed to learn.

Anything else coming down the pipeline? It can't be over...

Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review

UN panel tells Canada to improve human rights record

Laura MacInnis, Reuters Published: Tuesday, February 03, 2009


GENEVA - Canada should strengthen its domestic violence laws and stop religious discrimination against Muslims, a UN panel said Tuesday.

Germany, Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China are among the other countries facing a review this month, under a less than year-old process that is meant to ensure all UN members are held to account for their rights records.

In its first examination under the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, Canada was also urged to do more to improve the welfare of its aboriginal citizens and to review its policies on police use of Taser weapons, following the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski, an unarmed Polish tourist, at the Vancouver airport.

The Canadian delegation told the 47-member state forum "no country, including Canada, has a perfect human rights record."

"It is important that every country open their human rights records to scrutiny, both domestically and internationally," Canada's deputy justice minister John Sims told the session in Geneva, where both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Council are based.

The reviews could help the nearly three-year-old Human Rights Council gain credibility as a watchdog for wrongdoings.

Since its launch in 2006, the council has held special sessions on Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan's Darfur crisis, and Israel.

The council's predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, was seen to be largely ineffective.

Canada faced questions about its anti-terrorism laws, including a controversial "special advocate" measure in which a court-appointed lawyer with high security clearance stands in the place of certain detainees in their hearings.

Mr. Sims said the practice was meant to protect highly sensitive information while ensuring detainees get fair treatment.

"This program special advocates will be challenged and will work its way through the Canadian court system. It will, in this way, be tested for how well the government has struck this important balance," he said.

On racial and religious profiling, he said that it was not used as it was contrary to the law. Canada's "bias-free" recruitment of police meant its force included racial or ethnic minorities less likely to engage in such practices, he said.

Addressing the concerns raised that it should ratify more human rights treaties, Sims said that Canada chose not to join the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September, 2007 because it was too vague on some issues.

"We are aware that Canada's position has generated a number of adverse reactions. I wish to stress, however, that Canada remains committed to fulfilling its human rights commitments to aboriginal peoples in Canada," he said.

The UN panel also said Canada ought to accede to UN treaties on enforced disappearances, the rights of migrant workers, and an optional protocol to the anti-torture pact.

Canada slipping on human rights: Amnesty

Louisa Taylor, Ottawa Citizen Published: Monday, February 02, 2009

OTTAWA - Canadians have long prided themselves on being the good guys when it comes to protecting human rights at home and abroad, but that's no longer always the case, says Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

"Canada has started to be a problem with regard to some human rights issues and has in fact started to get in the way of protection," said Neve, citing as an example Canada's "aggressive opposition" to the 2007 adoption of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada was one of only four countries to vote against the measure.

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canadian government "set out to block and defeat" the declaration, says Neve. "Other countries can't believe they saw that kind of behaviour from Canada and it has significantly set back and undermined our authority on the world stage."

Neve was speaking in advance of a speech he's making at the University of Ottawa Monday as part of its International Development Week activities. The theme of the week is Development: A Basic Human Right? and featured speakers include former minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow and journalist Alexandre Trudeau.

Neve says he was asked to reflect on the state of human rights protection in the world today, a timely topic a month after the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"There is a great deal to celebrate and the world has come forward leaps and bounds from that time, in spite of horrific tragedies," such as Rwanda and Darfur, said Neve.

Canada's place at the forefront of human rights protection begins with the 1948 declaration itself, which was drafted in large part by Canadian legal scholar John Humphrey. Since then Canada has been a leader on many fronts, including the protection of child soldiers, the treaty to ban land mines and the creation of the International Criminal Court.

Neve cites former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney's "strong leadership" in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and on initiatives regarding children's rights as evidence the shift in Canada's reputation can't be explained by blaming one political party or another. But he points to Canada's current position "of complete support of Israel with respect to the very volatile human rights issues that come up regarding Israel and Palestine" as a sign that the Harper government has abandoned previous efforts to remain impartial.

"That has damaged our reputation for principled leadership and objectivity regarding human rights," said Neve. "There's no question it has been since this government took power that we have seen a lot of these changes in policy and positions . . . We need to make it clear that's not Canada's tradition and Canadians want to see a return to principled leadership."