Onkwehonwe Week in Review: Week of September 23

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Part of World Wide Health Study Destined for United Nations

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization has initiated a worldwide investigation into “healthy communities” in Canada. Researchers have noted that Canada has come up consistently when mapping out human rights violations in regards to water and sanitation issues.

Shoal Lake 40 has made news for the past year because of its dire situation. The community straddles the Ontario, Manitoba border and has been under a boil water advisory for the past 17 years. Not only that, but the First Nation survives without a road connecting the territory to the Mainland. Members have resorted to crossing the water by boat or on foot during the winter. Nine people have perished due to unstable ice.

Despite promises from federal party leaders, Chief Erwin Redsky maintains that this is more than an election issue or a political one. “It is not simply another road project but assurance of the overall health and safety of the community.”

Assembly of First Nations Chief Comments on Canadian Economy Debate

On September 17, the leaders of the three federal parties participated in a debate on the economy organized by the Globe and Mail, assessing their plans on everything from energy and housing to taxation and jobs.

Despite continued controversy over resource extraction and the impoverished living conditions of many First Nations, these issues were largely ignored apart from Mr. Trudeau’s effort to raise the topic.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on the federal party leaders to address these issues as they are outlined in the Closing the Gap agenda released earlier this month. He insists that Aboriginal voters need, “some clear commitments.”

Business, First Nations and Environmental Organizations Advocate Free, Prior, and Informed Consent

The Boreal Leadership Council has released a report calling for industry and governments to recognize and adopt the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) when working with Indigenous nations.

“Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is the right of Indigenous peoples to offer or withhold consent to development that may have an impact on their territories or resources – is the key to development – not a barrier,” said Boreal Leadership Council (BLC) member Robert Walker.

The trend of recognition through international law, national court decisions and the increasing number of “voluntary industry codes and policies” has already begun to see the role of FPIC related processes become an increasing part of the political and economic landscape.

Carleton University Hosts Installation Honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirited People

Walking With Our Sisters is a commemorative installation made up of more than 1800 pairs of moccasin vamps, dedicated to the memory of children who did not return from residential school and are arranged on the floor in a winding path formation. The vamps are intentionally not sewn into moccasins to represent the people whose lives were so tragically cut short. Visitors remove their shoes to walk alongside the vamps on a pathway of cloth, in symbolic acts of solidarity and respect.

The Walking With Our Sisters installation has traveled across Turtle Island, and internationally, since its inception in 2013. The installation will visit Akwesasne from November 6 – 26, 2015, with dates confirmed in Toronto later this year.

It’s Time for the World to Recognize Haudenosaunee Sovereignty: Onondaga Nation

Over 1000 years ago, the Haudenosaunee established the first, and longest running, participatory democracy in the Western Hemisphere. In 1923, the first Haudenosaunee passport was issued to Cayuga Nation Chief Deskaheh so he might serve as an international diplomat to the League of Nations.

Despite the historical recognition of Haudenosaunee sovereignty, the people have, at times, been denied the right to travel on their own passports, particularly by the United Kingdom. This travesty has prevented the participation of the Iroquois Nationals and of the Haudenosaunee U19 Women’s Team in international sporting events.

The Onondaga Nation is calling on the governments of the United Kingdom and the US State Department to, “fully recognize the validity of Haudenosaunee passports and use their diplomatic power to encourage all nations of the world to recognize them … to make up for hundreds of years of injustice.”

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