Onkwehonwe Week in Review: February 4 2015

Cree Survivor finally finds a home

PRINCE ALBERT – A Cree woman whose legs were amputated after a vicious attack last year, has finally found a home in the Metis community of Timber Bay, near Prince Albert.

Marlene Bird had been having trouble finding a home since she was released from a Saskatoon hospital last fall, where she had been admitted after having been found badly beaten and burned. After landing at the YMCA with nothing but a wheelchair, her personal belongings and a donated electric scooter, she moved into a seniors’ home which charged extremely high rent. Finding a home was also difficult since the residential school survivor had fallen back into alcoholism, which she said was a way of coping with the stress.

Throughout her recovery, she has lived with her on-and-off partner of 15 years, Patrick Lavallee, who sobered up shortly after Bird’s attack in order to be able to help her recover.

The issue has shone light on the alcoholism and homelessness problems plaguing Prince Albert.

Leslie Black, 29, was charged a month after Bird’s attack with attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault, the CBC reported.


AFN Chief and Prime Minister meet for first time

OTTAWA – The newly elected national Chief of the Assembly of First Nations met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last Wednesday after Question Period. They spoke of many pressing issues, according to Chief Perry Bellegarde, including an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and the controversial education Bill C-33, which is to be scrapped.

“The prime minister stated that Bill C-33 will not move forward,” Bellegarde wrote in a letter to the AFN executive, cited by the CBC. The approval of the bill by former national AFN chief Shawn Atleo is what led to his resignation last year. At least 200 indigenous leaders objected to the bill, which they said ignored their rights and gave the federal government too much control of indigenous education.

Bellegarde said they talked about the need to have discussions between the government and the AFN leaders about comprehensive claims, treaty implementation issues and land rights, among other matters. He suggested the same to the prime minister’s NDP and Liberal counterparts. The meeting lasted just under an hour.


Industry asks government to work with FNs and stay out of courts

YUKON – During the recent Mineral Exploration Roundup, which ended on Jan. 29, at least 150 industry executives met with First Nation delegates, where both sides expressed their desire to work together, though respecting the issues affecting indigenous peoples.

At the meeting, First Nation leaders said they are very interested in working with industry in order to provide jobs. But they also asserted they will not budge on their support for the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement with First Nations, which is at the centre of an ongoing dispute with the feds. They say Bill S-6 would undermine the Umbrella Final Agreement, a political agreement that involves the three main Canadian political parties as well as the 14 Yukon First Nations, and which covers various topics including compensation and self-governance, among others.

Mineral industry executives are urging the government to resolve these issues with the Yukon First Nations, avoiding litigation in order to not sour potential partnerships.

“If you want my money, don’t ask me to fund a dispute,” said Rick Rule, with Sprott Assessment Management – which funds mining projects, according to a CBC article.


Dehcho First Nations debate whether to sign on to N.W.T. Devolution Agreement

N.W.T. – Dehcho First Nations leaders are meeting this week to discuss whether to sign on to the Northwest Territory Devolution Agreement.

Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, of the Dehcho First Nations, said they were almost ready to sign on as parties to the agreement, which went into effect Apr. 1, 2014, though interested groups may still join. Parties to the agreement would receive a portion of the quarter of the resource revenues collecting in the territory, reports the CBC – about $15 million to be split among the First Nations in the first post-devolution year.

Only two regions remain in the area with unsettled claims – the Akaitcho and the Dehcho – and they are the last two who haven’t yet signed on to the agreement.

Chief Norwegian said they would have signed last summer, but needed more time to analyze exactly what the agreement meant to the Dehcho. The main point, he added, is that the Dehcho be fully in control of the land that rightfully belongs to them and the resources around them.

The meetings began on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Fort Simpson.


#ShutDownCanada event to go on despite new anti-terror bill being tabled

The Conservative government is tabling a new anti-terror bill that could give more powers to the RCMP and Canada’s intelligence agency to disrupt events like #ShutDownCanada. But the bill must still pass through a reading at the senate level.

At least 5,000 people have joined the Facebook event invitation. Protests in front of city-halls and possible railroad and highway blockades are some of the activities planned.

Bill C-51 would give police excessive powers to make arrests based on fears of terror attacks that “may” happen (as opposed to attacks that “will” happen). This small change could broaden the government’s leverage, allowing them to classify activities such as pipeline protests and blockades as ‘terror acts.’

Jeffrey Monaghan, an instructor at the institute of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Carleton, said the bill itself probably wouldn’t have any “direct” impact on #ShutDownCanada. But he clarified the bill was troubling and, if passed, would be a “massive boost for the security establishment,” which has already been using surveillance on indigenous peoples for many years.

For more information on the event go to: http://on.fb.me/1x70qBF

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