Onkwehonwe Week in Review (May 4 – 11)

First Nations woman receives justice in sexual discrimination case

NOVA SCOTIA – A woman from the Millbrook First Nation received long-overdue justice on Apr. 29 after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that she’d been passed over for fishing jobs throughout the years solely because of her sex.

The tribunal found that since the late 1990s, Stacey Marshal-Tabor had experienced discrimination ranging from sexist, derogatory comments regarding her abilities to actually having her applications for work denied. At one point, even her husband, whose only experience was “preparing gear and painting buoys,” reported the Canadian Press, was favoured for a job instead of her.

All of this meant mediocre jobs, lower pay and not being able to apply for captain status, despite being certified for it, in addition to the mental hardship it all caused her, reported the Toronto Star.

Marshall-Tabor comes from a family of fighters. Her uncle, the late Donald Marshall Jr., famously defended fishing rights for his Mi’kmaq band and served 11 years for a murder he did not commit. Her grandmother was the first woman to serve as band chief on another First Nation.

Marshal-Tabor said she hoped the ruling would help grant her and other women equal opportunities in the first nation.


Communities oppose proposal to dump nuclear waste underground near Lake Huron

KINCARDINE, ON – Despite the objection of 152 communities, a Canadian Joint Review Panel has approved a project that will bury more than seven million cubic feet of nuclear waste near the shore of Lake Huron.

The project, called Deep Geologic Repository, proposes to dump the waste more than 2000 feet underground near Kincardine, Ont., at the Bruce Power generating station, inside rock formations more than 450 million years old. The panel found that if OPG follows certain guidelines, it “is not likely” to affect the environment or lakes, reported Sputnik News.

But dozens of municipal councils around the Great Lakes, hundreds of communities, and even members of the U.S. Congress and Michigan state legislators are opposing the project and protesting the panel’s decision to approve it, citing great risks to the environment.

Beverly Fernandez, member of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, told Sputnik News, “The last place to bury and abandon radioactive nuclear waste is beside the largest body of fresh-water in the world.”

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq is expected to issue a decision within 120 days, after which a review panel will decide whether or not to issue a construction license.


PhD candidate shuns punctuation as protest

VANCOUVER, BC — PhD candidate Patrick Stewart successfully defended a dissertation at the University of British Columbia last month which he described as “one long, run-on sentence from cover to cover,” according to the National Post.

Stewart, 61, from the Nisga’a First Nation, had to defend his 52,438-word dissertation after it was described as “deficient” due to the fact that it contained virtually no punctuation and did not follow regular formatting guidelines. He told the National Post that this was deliberate, a sort of protest against the “blind acceptance of English language conventions in Canada” brought on by a history of colonialism.

Stewart, who grew up homeless and in a series of foster homes as a youth, is an architect who has designed many high-profile buildings, including the Aboriginal Children’s Village for foster children in Vancouver. He titled his dissertation “Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge” as a way to “marry both his professional and personal interests in architecture to indigenous cultures,” reported the National Post.

On Apr. 23, after a 30-minute oral exam in which he defended his work in front of five examiners and an audience, Stewart finally achieved his doctorate in interdisciplinary studies.


Community-liked doctor fired by health board with no reasons

FORT CHIPEWYAN, AB — Dr. John O’Connor, widely known for linking elevated cancer rates in Northern Alberta to tar sands development, (a claim confirmed by a study partially funded by Health Canada), has been fired with no explanation, reported APTN News.

He first raised concerns of elevated cancer rates among the 1500 members of the Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations in 2003. Four years later, Health Canada accused him of “engendering mistrust, blocking access to files, billing irregularities, and raising undue alarm in the community,” according to APTN.

He has had support from the community throughout all his ordeals, including in 2009 when it successfully came together to demand that the last charge against him (causing undue alarm) be dropped.

He has served the community with 24/7 on-call medical care, and developed many close relationships. Two new doctors will arrive to serve the community, he told APTN News, but it will take time before they are familiar with the patients’ specific needs.

He will remain the health director and family physician in Fort McKay First Nation, and will continue to push the government toward a comprehensive health study of cancer rates in the region.


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