Onkwehon:we week in Review, January 14 2015

Crazy Indian Brotherhood helps the homeless

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg support network for young men with troubled pasts called the Crazy Indian Brotherhood spent Tuesday, Jan. 6, handing out sandwiches and oranges to the city’s homeless.

Member Keith Proulx had the idea after seeing his brother in the town of The Pas handing out Christmas hampers.

The group was founded in 2004 to provide support for young people trying to get out of gangs or any other type of trouble. The group is open to natives and non-natives and is meant to inspire young people to work for their communities.

Justin Brown, another member, told the CBC that the name ‘Crazy Indian Brotherhood’ is a satirical interpretation of what European colonizers used to call indigenous people. He said the Brotherhood is trying to change people’s attitudes towards the native community.

“We’re trying to show them how crazy good we could be,” he told the CBC.

Nutrition North comes under fire

OTTAWA – Last month’s auditor general’s report has caused Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to review its eligibility criteria for First Nations applying to the Nutrition North program.

The report found that the criteria was unfair and inaccessible to many Northern Ontario First Nations who did not receive full subsidies, even in comparison to neighbouring communities. The report also found that the criteria has not been reviewed annually since 2011, as it is supposed to be.

One of these communities is Wapekeka First Nation, a small 350-people community about 600 kilometres from Thunder Bay. It lacks year-round access, as does the neighbouring Kitchenuhmaykoosib First Nation. However, Wapekeka receives a $0.05/kilogram subsidy while Kitchenuhmaykoosib gets $1.60/kilogram.

Another problem has been the apparently random cutting-off of some First Nations, according to Wendy Trylinksi, the manager of public health education at Nishnawbe Aski Nation. She said 11 First Nations were cut in 2011 with “no consultation.”

Trylinksi also said the money for the education component of the program would be better used to help communities buy seeds and gardening tools.

RCMP Constable receives ‘slap on the wrist’

THOMPSON, MANITOBA – In 2011, an RCMP constable on the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, near Thompson, Manitoba, admitted to taking an intoxicated indigenous woman he had arrested back to his home. The decision to reprimand him and deduct seven day’s pay came only in 2014.

Const. Kevin Theriault and another constable had arrested the woman at a party. Six hours after, Theriault had returned in plain clothes and asked for her to be released into his care, reports a CBC article. After following and goading him, two of his colleagues reported the incident to the corporal of the detachment, who then told Theriault to return the woman to her home, which he did.

But Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak called the incident “appalling,” adding that the so-called punishment Theriault received was a “slap on the wrist” and would “send the wrong message” to the indigenous community.

Meghan Rhoad, a women’s rights researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, has called for an independent investigation, since the RCMP are the ones who investigate their own members.

Cold Lake feels competitive disadvantage

COLD LAKE, ALBERTA – Leaders of the Cold Lake First Nation say the Federal government’s First Nations Financial Transparency Act puts them at a competitive disadvantage compared to other Canadian firms, and could scare away outside partners.

The Act requires First Nations to publish the expenses and salaries of all chiefs and councillors, including Federal moneys and income generated from their internal economy. It also forces them to publicize sensitive information about their companies, reports a Globe and Mail article.

One councillor, Walter Janvier, wrote in a statement that the legislation violates their privacy and confidentiality, and that they are “exploring legal options” against it in the hopes of reasserting their sovereignty. The Onion Lake Cree Nation is already in the middle of a Federal Court bid to over turn it.

About 70 per cent of the income in Cold Lake First Nation is generated by its internal economy, according to its leaders. Only about 30 per cent comes from Federal funding, which goes towards other projects like health care and education services on reserves.

Artist tweets portrait-a-day of MMIW

TORONTO – Artist/cartoonist Evan Munday has started a new campaign to put Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women higher on the conservative government’s radar. On Jan. 5, he began tweeting one hand-drawn portrait of a missing indigenous woman to Prime Minister Stephen Harper every day.

“Over 1186 indigenous women have gone missing / been murdered in Canada since 1980. There have been outcries for public inquiry. #MMIW,” reads one of his first tweets.

Munday’s first portrait was of Elaine Frieda Alook, a 35-year-old mother of four who went missing from Fort McMurray in 2004.

These are the portraits Munday has sent so far:

  1. Jan 12 – Sharon Abraham, from Vancouver. Missing since 2000. Has two children.
  2. Jan 11 – Angel Carlick, from Whitehorse. Missing since May 2007. Found dead November 2007
  3. Jan 10 – Roberta Marie Ferguson, from Cultus Lake, BC. Missing since 1988. Was 19 y.o.
  4. Jan 9 – Abigail Patrice Andrews, from Fort St. John, BC. Missing since April 2010. Was 28 y.o.
  5. Jan 8 – Amanda Bartlett, Winnipeg. Missing since July 1996. Was 17 y.o.
  6. Jan 7 – Maggie Lea Burke, Edmonton. Missing since December 2004. Was 22 y.o.

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