Onkwehonwe Week in Review March 11 2014

Tentative settlement of billion dollar lawsuit
NUNAVUT – A Nunavut land-claims group which sued Ottawa in 2006 for $1 billion, for allegedly failing to fund a wide variety of activities guaranteed in a 1993 land claim, said a tentative settlement has been reached.

The settlement will now have to be considered and approved by NTI, the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut, reported the CBC.

The lawsuit alleges the underfunding of education has impeded the territory from achieving its goal of 85% Inuit employment in the public service. Retired justice Thomas Berger corroborated this in a 2006 conciliator’s report, when he wrote that the education system was producing graduates who were fluent neither in English nor Inuktitut. A bilingual approach solution would cost an extra $20 million a year, Berger added.

Last year, the Federal Court of Appeal also agreed with a lower court’s ruling that the federal government had failed to fund an agency to monitor the economic and social progress of the newly formed territory.

NWT refuses indigenous names with glottal stop
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – This week, two women have complained that the Northwest Territories government’s vital statistics department did not allow them to use a traditional glottal stop when registering their children.

Andrea Heron came forward on Mar. 8, two days after a CBC article reported that Shene Catholique Valpy was fighting to include the same symbol in her daughter’s name, Sahaiʔa May Talbot, born Feb. 15, 2014. She’d been told by a government official that because the symbol was not in the Roman alphabet, she could not use it.

Consequently, Sahaiʔa went a year without being registered. This meant she couldn’t even obtain her own territorial health card, so Catholique Valpy decided to use a hyphen to register her this year.

However, Valpy said she will continue fighting until she can use the glottal stop, not least of all because it’s a fight for the right to use traditional languages.

Heron was also forced to use a hyphen when she registered her daughter – Sakaeʔah – six years ago. She said she will support Catholique Valpy through her complaint, adding that it is very important to preserve Dene languages.

FNs seek intervener status in Energy East hearing
QUEBEC – The Algonquin First Nations of Wolf Lake and Eagle Village are seeking intervener status with the National Energy Board to express their concerns over TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline conversion and the impacts of a pipeline rupture at Turtle Lake.

TransCanada is proposing to transport 1.1. million barrels daily of chemically diluted bitumen from Alberta’s Tar Sands to refineries on the East Coast.

The First Nations want to conduct studies of the effects of pipeline ruptures and spills on their environment, their rights and their business interests. They are concerned with how the decades-old pipe will sustain with added stress of transporting heavy bitumen instead of gas.

Wolf Lake also wants to study the impact of natural disasters along the historic Mattawa fault line and the effects these would have on the pipeline structures.
“Notwithstanding all of the safety precautions, there are many natural disasters that no one has control over – earthquakes, flash floods or even a beaver dam. Not even the pipeline could withstand something like that,” Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis told Nugget.ca news.

Two cousins in Hollow Water First Nation found dead
MANITOBA – Alec Moneas and Jericho Moneyas (sic), two cousins from Hollow Water First Nation, were found dead outside of their homes on Sunday, according to a CBC article.

Though Manitoba RCMP have not released any information other than they are investigating the crime, Alec’s younger brother, Jeremy Moneas, told the CBC he found Alec outside Jericho’s house with a gunshot wound to his stomach, while inside people were giving their cousin Jericho CPR. He had gone over to the house after receiving a phone call telling him to do so at about 11 that morning, he said.

The tragedy has hit the Moneas family hard. Jeremy told the CBC he worried about how his mother would cope, particularly after they had already lost another brother in a stabbing in 2006. Alec was the youngest of seven siblings.

Unfortunately, Alec had been “in and out of jail,” according to his brother, and Jericho had also been in trouble in the past. Nevertheless, the deaths have hit the community hard, said Jeremy.

Alec leaves behind three sons, the youngest of whom was just a year old, he added.

Navajo Nation fights Snowbowl resort, seeks help from IACHR
SAN FRANCISCO – The Navajo Nation is asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare the United States in violation of human rights due to its Supreme Court rulings allowing the Snowbowl ski resort near Flagstaff to operate.

The Navajos, one of the largest indigenous nations in the US, contend that the very existence of the private resort desecrates what they consider one of the four most sacred places on Earth – the area between the San Francisco Peaks.

The Navajos have protested the resort for years, but lower court and Supreme Court rulings have found in favour of the 1938 resort, which was purchased in November by Colorado-based investors who announced expansion plans, reports AZ Central.

Though the commission has no legal authority over the U.S., the Navajo people are hoping it can weigh in and require cancellation of Snowbowl’s permit for snow-making with reclaimed waste water, which they argue constitutes a violation of their religious freedom and cultural and judicial protections. Such a finding could carry huge public relations repercussions for the United States, said one of the petition authors, though they don’t expect the US to respond.

Despite this petition and the countless demonstrations and lawsuits against Snowbowl, the resort began manufacturing snow in 2012 to extend its season. And in August of last year, Flagstaff extended its 5-year waste-water-use contract with the resort to 20 years.

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