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Onkwehonwe Week in Review (May 25 – June 1)

Canada’s Chief Justice blasts the country’s record of ‘cultural genocide’ TORONTO – Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin delivered a speech on May 28th where she said Canada committed “cultural genocide” of indigenous peoples through policies like Indian residential schools and the Indian Act. She was speaking at the fourth annual Pluralism Lecture

Canada’s Chief Justice blasts the country’s record of ‘cultural genocide’

TORONTO – Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin delivered a speech on May 28th where she said Canada committed “cultural genocide” of indigenous peoples through policies like Indian residential schools and the Indian Act.

She was speaking at the fourth annual Pluralism Lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism, when she said that policies in the 19th and 20th centuries were aimed at eradicating all traces of indigenous culture, languages and traditions in order to solve John A. Macdonald’s “Indian problem,” reported APTN News.

“The most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record relates to our treatment of the First Nations that lived here at the time of colonization,” she said, as reported by APTN News.

McLachlin added that among the tactics used to annihilate First Nations was social and economic segregation through laws that made it illegal for them to leave the reservations and the outlawing of indigenous traditions like the Potlach and Sun Dances.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report was drafted June 2, with a section on genocide in line with the UN definition, according to TRC chair Murray Sinclair.

 

TRC chair says true reconciliation will take many generations to achieve

OTTAWA – Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said on Monday that true reconciliation between Canada and indigenous peoples will take generations, and will only happen if every Canadian works towards it.

He said this during the last phase of the commission’s mandate at an Ottawa hotel room, where Pikwakanagan Chief Kirby Whiteduck led the grand entry to the front of the room, reported APTN News.

Sinclair added that this conjoined effort would require political, personal and cultural action in order to reach genuine reconciliation, and challenged everyone there to try and work together to forge a common, peaceful future.

After Sinclair’s speech, Commissioner Marie Wilson took the stage to announce the new list of “honorary witnesses,” of which the TRC has named 80 so far, tasked with “witnessing forward” the process of reconciliation.

The TRC released its final report on Indian residential schools on Tuesday.

 

Marches and drum dances celebrate TRC’s mandate

YELLOWSTONE – Demonstrators marched in front of Yellowstone’s City Hall on Sunday to celebrate the work the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has done for the survivors of the residential school system. Their march and drum dances, which had Franklin Street shut down by the cops, also marked the beginning of the end of the TRC’s mandate, reported APTN News.

At the gathering, many survivors shared their stories with each other and praised the TRC for trying to help victims get closure.

One of the speakers and survivors, Harold Cook, had attended residential school at Grollier Hall in Inuvik, and had endured sexual and physical assault. As an adult, he spent many years as a victim’s advocate for survivors, and would now like to see a treatment centre set up in the territory to help victims deal with the trauma through culture and tradition, reported APTN News.

Until 1970, there were 14 residential schools still in existence in the Northwest Territories.

 

Official emails deleted after Opposition NDP files freedom of information request

VICTORIA – A former executive assistant to B.C.’s Transportation Minister Todd Stone, revealed that he was ordered to delete emails in November after the Opposition NDP had made a freedom of information request for documents about the notorious Highway of Tears.

Tim Duncan said that when he refused, a more senior official in Stone’s office physically hijacked his keyboard and computer and deleted the emails himself, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has launched an investigation into the allegations, which were made public in the legislature on May 28.

In 2010, a missing women commission made various recommendations to the government, including a shuttle bus along the highway that would connect the remote northern communities. The government has refused to implement these recommendations, and some, like Chief Wilf Adam, of the Lake Babine Nation, believe the emails may have revealed the government’s lack of effort.

According to Duncan, staff members regularly delete emails they find compromising when an FOI request comes through.

While Duncan was fired in March, the other senior official who allegedly deleted the emails from Duncan’s computer has been suspended with pay, according to the Vancouver Sun.

 

North End community unites in search of missing local woman

NORTH END – A North End community came together last week to search for 25-year-old Shanastene McLeod, who first went missing May 21st and who was subsequently found living inside what the community believed to be a known drug-house.

McLeod’s family said she has a drug problem, which is why they believed she was inside a house known to law enforcement and feared she may have been sexually exploited, reported CBC News. The community chanted and drummed in front of several houses in which they believed McLeod would be.

They eventually found her inside a house with boarded up windows, reported the CBC. They drummed in front of it until McLeod came out. However, after talking briefly with her friends and family, she said she wasn’t missing and went back to the house, according to the CBC.

Though she did not return home then, Bear Clan Patrol member James Favel said they would continue their efforts in order to “name and shame” the known drug runners in the community.

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