Onkwehonwe Week in Review: February 11 2015

Scoop victims launch Class-action lawsuit

REGINA – The Merchant Law Group, in Regina, is representing over 1,000 victims of the ’60s Scoop’, and served the federal government with a class-action lawsuit on January 30, reports a CBC article.

The ’60s Scoop’ – formally known as the Adopt Indian Metis program – was a federally funded assimilation program that ran from the 1960s to the 1980s. It consisted of forcefully taking indigenous children from their families and placing them with white families instead.

Merchant is arguing that, much like residential school survivors, the victims of the ’60s Scoop endured psychological, sexual and physical abuse.

However, some indigenous people are cautious and weary of Merchant, who previously also represented more than 7,000 residential school survivors. This is because by the end of that lawsuit, the federal government reached a multi-billion dollar settlement which ended up making $80 million for the firm in 2005, according to Merchant’s own estimates, while only giving $24,000 to each surviving student.

Indigenous man uses prison experience to help write Gladue reports

OTTAWA – A 50-year-old man who spent more than 30 years of his life behind bars is now getting his life back on track while attending Carleton University and helping other indigenous people tell their “Gladue” stories.

Now a second-year criminology student, Dan Parlow is helping law professor and co-founder of IndiGenius, Jane Dickson, in her role as Gladue-writer in Ottawa, reports APTN News.

Gladue reports are meant to paint a picture of indigenous offenders’ pasts so that Judges may consider their traumatic experiences during the sentencing stages. Parlow, himself a victim of the ’60s Scoop, now helps others tell their stories.

Parlow said he will continue in school until he can teach the classes he is now taking. But, more importantly, he sees helping to write Gladue reports as the beginning of a long trek ahead of him to help mend the broken and racist Canadian justice system.

Grand Chief sues teacher over racist, insensitive remarks

WINNIPEG – Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is suing Brad Badiuk, a technology teacher at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, over comments posted on Badiuk’s Facebook page, reports The Kelowna Daily Courier.

The lawsuit alleges Badiuk defamed an entire race of people when he posted his insensitive remarks onto his Facebook page last month. Badiuk’s comments accused indigenous people of being lazy and simply looking for easy hand-outs from the non-indigenous community. The statement of claim, filed Jan. 9 in Manitoba, alleges that the comments have also hurt Nepinak’s reputation, though no claims have yet been proven in court.

Badiuk has been placed on administrative leave, and his Facebook page has been taken down. The Winnipeg School Division said they were still investigating the matter. It has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Nepinak’s lawyer, Corey Shefman, said that though suing for libel against an entire race is very unusual, it is based on a section of the provincial Defamation Act. He added that Manitoba seemed to be the only place that would allow such a claim.

Ontario First Nations want proper consultation over Energy East

ONTARIO – Ontario First Nations regional Chief Stan Beardy sent a letter to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, expressing the concerns First Nations have over the National Energy Board’s review of TransCanada’s Energy East project.

In the letter, Beardy accused the NEB of not holding sufficient consultations with the First Nations that would see themselves affected. He also wrote that the board has been inaccessible and unwilling to share information, reports the Globe and Mail. It also suggests that, if approved by Ottawa, the project should expect to a face legal challenge.

Proper consultations should include a series of in-person sessions for affected communities, led by both TransCanada and the board, explained Beardy.

Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has expressed his support for the First Nations whom he believes are not being properly consulted.

The Provincial government will intervene at the NEB on the project. It has come up with a set a criteria to be met, which will determine if it will support the project or not.

One of these is that First Nations be properly consulted.

Chiefs of Ontario host gathering for families of MMIW

TORONTO – The Chiefs of Ontario will host an gathering where families of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls will share their personal stories with First Nation leaders, women and youth in preparation of a First Nation-led truth-seeking process into what happened to their loved ones.

The event will take place February 10-12 at the Nor’wester Hotel and Convention Centre in Thunder Bay and will include addresses by the Assembly of First Nation (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair.

A separate event will officially launch fundraising efforts for a First Nation-led inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. The fundraiser dinner and roast will be held February 11, 2015at the Nor’Wester Hotel and Convention Centre in Thunder Bay.

Donations for the February 11 fundraiser can be made and tickets can purchased through Chiefs of Ontario website: http://www.chiefs-of-ontario.org/

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