Onkwehonwe Week in Review January 28, 2015

Trappers seek to stop mineral exploration

SASKATCHEWAN – A group of First Nation trappers calling themselves the Northern Trappers Alliance has been camping alongside Highway 955 in Saskatchewan since November to protest oil and mineral exploration in the area.

The group began their blockade of the highway in November. After the RCMP asked them to dismantle the roadblock, they moved into tents beside the highway, where they’ve been waving signs at cars and trucks passing by on their way to work.

The protestors are there to protect the land and water from pollution as a result of mineral exploration. However, Clearwater First Nation Chief Ted Clark, said their fears are “unfounded,” according to a Leader Post article.

Clark owns a contracting company that was successfully blocked in November, before the roadblock was lifted. He said provincial regulations around safe and environmentally conscious exploration are being followed, and that the exploration projects can bring a lot of employment opportunities for indigenous communities.

A call has gone out for people to come to the Trapper’s camp 11 km north of LaLoche, Saskatchewan on Hwy #955 for a big meeting to share concerns and plan what to do about the rush to explore and develop uranium and oil sands mining projects in Dene Nene. The meeting is scheduled for January 29, 30, and 31, 2015. Call Don Montgrand at 306-321-5258 for more information.

Residential school survivors receive extension

OTTAWA – Residential school survivors will have until March 9 to apply for personal credits under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The credits amount to up to $3,000 for things including college courses and other cultural programs, and they can be transferred to relatives, reports a CBC article.

The extension was made possible after Mike Cachagee, a survivor of the Shingwauk residential school in Sault Ste Marie and a member of the Chapleau Cree First Nation, asked the court handing the settlement for an extension, since the majority of members are over 65 and don’t speak English.

Winnipeg mayor promises to fight racism and intolerance

WINNIPEG – The mayor of Winnipeg has promised to fight racism and intolerance after a Maclean’s article claimed his city was the most racist one in Canada.

Brian Bowman, who is the city’s first Métis mayor, admitted the city has a deep-seated problem with racism. He said he promised that a concrete dialogue would take place.

“We do have racism in Winnipeg … You can’t run away from facts,” he tells the Canadian Press. “Ignorance, hatred, intolerance, racism exists everywhere….Winnipeg has a responsibility right now to turn this ship around and change the way we all relate.”

Bowman said that an open dialogue with Indigenous leaders is a necessary first step.

Many community leaders have already responded positively to the Maclean’s article, also promising swift action, including the police chief, the provincial treaty commissioner, chiefs, and other community leaders.

Ovide Mercredi, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said that while he has experienced racism personally, he is confident that the indigenous leaders will lead the fight against intolerance.

Hearing to review NEB decision to allow seismic testing in B.C.

BRITISH COLUMBIA – The Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization and the mayor of Clyde River, Nunavut, have been granted a judicial review of a National Energy Board decision which would allow companies to conduct seismic testing in the Baffin Bay and Davis Strait.

Seismic testing allows companies to explore for oil and gas deposits underneath the ocean by sending loud soundwaves into the water, reports a CBC article. Mayor Jerry Natanine and the Trappers Organization are worried that these sonic blasts will disrupt animal migration patterns.

The reason they asked for a judicial review was because they claimed the NEB failed to properly consult with affected community residents. They are also very worried about the potential risks to the environment.

If successful in their legal challenge, the companies would have to re-apply for licences with the NEB all over again.

The lawyer representing the Trappers Organization said he expects a hearing date sometime in April, before companies begin exploring for oil and gas. He also added that this would set a huge precedent when it comes to how the NEB makes its decisions.

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