Onkwehonwe Week in Review: March 23

Justice Murray Sinclair accepts appointment to Canadian Senate

Appointed by the Liberal government on March 18, Justice Murray Sinclair accepted his “sacred” appointment to the Canadian Senate. Sinclair was born near Selkirk, Manitoba in 1951. He graduated from the University of Manitoba faculty of law in 1979, with additional honourary degrees from his alma mater and the University of Ottawa. Sinclair specializes in aboriginal law. Notably, Justice Murray Sinclair led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sinclair’s parents and grandparents both attended residential schools. “It is my wish to work toward repairing this relationship and doing what I can to continue to serve them in this new role,” said Sinclair of his new position. The Canadian Senate is responsible for approving proposed law, otherwise known as bills. No bill can become law in Canada without Senate approval. Murray was selected by a non-partisan advisory board. Sinclair said he believed not being tied to a particular party is important. Seven other Canadians were also appointed to the Senate, alongside Sinclair.

Reconciliation walkers surprise residential school survivors

Four non-indigenous people are walking from Saskatchewan to Edmonton to honour residential school survivors and to bring a larger awareness of the lack of mainstream education on the topic. The group began their 550 kilometre trek on March 8 in Stoney Knoll, Saskatchewan. Largely made up of Mennonites, the group is hoping to help reconcile the legacy of residential schools. “It’s challenging to know thee are things I haven’t learned about through my years growing up and things aren’t widely publicized .. the history of Canada and indigenous peoples. It’s a hard history,” said Nathan Thorpe, a piano teacher from Winnipeg and one of the walkers.

Eight years beforehand, Young Chipeewayan First Nation, Lutherans and Mennonites came together to sign a memorandum of understanding for all parties to respect treaties and “the sacred nature of these covenants.” As a reminder of this agreement, the walkers stopped in Little Pine school for a surprise visit with some of the residential school survivors from the community. “I was shocked. I didn’t mind, I gave them tobacco,” said Elden Bear, 57, who attended residential school from 1962 to 1973. Some of the survivors who attended the gathering noted how recovery is a long journey as they shared stories of survival through their violent childhoods while attending residential schools. The walkers will arrive in Edmonton on Thursday to mark the first day of the last Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event.

RCMP charge 15-year-old boy in death of 11 year old girl in Garden Hill First Nation

The remains of Theresa Robinson were found May 11, 2015 after she was last seen leaving a birthday in her community of Garden Hill First Nation in northern Manitoba. After a 10 month long investigation and questionable tactics, the RCMP have charged a young male from the community. He cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The RCMP went door to door in the community seeking DNA samples from boys and men between 15 and 50 years old of Garden Hill First Nation. It’s unclear if this tactic played into the arrest of the young man. However, the RCMP did note that forensic evidence is relevant to this discussion. Chief Dino Hill is happy that there is closure for the little girl. The family is now raising funds for a headstone. A memorial service will be held in May to commemorate Theresa Robinson’s life.

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