Neskantaga declares health crisis over contaminated water

THUNDER BAY, ON – Leadership suspects poor water quality for continued infections in young children in the community. With limited access to health professionals, no widespread diagnosis can be made. Neskantaga has been under a boil water advisory for 21 years. Chief Wayne Moonias will hold a press conference in Toronto, alongside Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, on Monday to plead his community’s case to the public. With only weeks remaining in the federal election campaign, leadership hopes their voices are heard and upheld, “While Canada announces their billions in surplus, our community can’t access clean water? What is the priority here? Enough is enough.” Chief Isadore encourages voters to consider, “Now is the time to eliminate decades of inaction by successive federal governments on providing the essential health services to First Nations.”

Red Dresses Honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

October 4 marked the 10th anniversary of Sisters in Spirit vigils and marches. The day is a national day of remembrance for over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. With over 150 actions taking place across the country to raise awareness and encourage solidarity, Metis artist Jaime Black went a step further and created the REDress campaign. Hundreds of red dresses were donated for an art installation with each red dress commemorating a lost life.

Red dresses are hung in front yards, or carried in the front of marches to remember the lost lives. Black acknowledges that the sight of empty, flowing red dresses is haunting. She wants Canadians to always remember the ongoing violence and to work towards ending it.

Indigenous women have healthier pregnancies when given cultural care

New research suggests that pregnant Indigenous women may have healthier pregnancies when treated by Indigenous carers. A group of pregnant women in Western Australia were treated by Indigenous midwives, grandmothers and health officers as part of a study by the Aboriginal Maternity Group Practice Program between July 2011 and December 2012.

Christine Parry, an Aboriginal Health Officer, said many of the women in the community reported bad experiences with hospitals or lived too far so they didn’t seek care until well into the pregnancy. Ms. Parry wanted to change that by helping with transport, cultural guidance, spiritual advice and support.

Six Nations offers its own contemporary and traditional midwifery program. Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta was established in 1995 after the community decided to reclaim the birthing process.

Focus on Niqab overshadows key aboriginal issues during federal election campaign

Despite poverty, health, resource extraction and transportation and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic, First Nation and Metis issues remain off the table, even though they affect more people than the handful who choose to wear the Niqab. The Niqab is a face covering worn by Muslim women.

First Nations have faced similar racism since contact with European settlers. For example, the Sundance and Potlatch ceremonies were outlawed in 1885. According to Doug Cuthand, “this election campaign has seen an unprecedented level of racism, either in blatant attacks against Muslim Canadians or in the willful neglect of First Nation issues.”

The Reality of First Nation Fire Protection in Canada

Indigenous peoples living on reserve are 10 times more likely to die in a housing fire and this is because the Canadian government does not provide enough funding for fire services. In Six Nations, there are 26 000 registered members, with approximately 13 000 living on reserve. Six Nations is the most populated first nation in Canada.

Currently, legislative framework does not exist for First Nation communities which would ensure that adequate funding is provided to protect the community, despite being the fiduciary responsibility of the federal government. In 2014, Six Nations Fire Department responded to over 700 emergency calls which were the direct result of common fire protection issues.

Finalists Announced for Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts

The awards recognize the extraordinary achievements in the province. The 2015 laureates will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Royal Ontario Museum October 20th in Toronto, Ontario.

Various First Nation artists and art organizations, like Christi Belcourt and the ImagineNATIVE film festival have been nominated. The winning artist receives $35 000 and selects a new, emerging artist who receives $15 000. The winning arts organization is awarded $50 000.

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