Onkwehonwe Week in Review: Week of September 30, 2015

By Danielle Boissoneau

 How Well Meaning White People Made a Mess of the Inuit Written Language

NUNAVUT — There are over 50 000 Inuit people who live in the Northern parts of Canada, stretching from Nunavut across to Nunavik (Quebec) over to Nunatsiavut (Labrador) and through the Northwest Territories.  Across the territory there are regional dialects of a complicated, oral language that wasn’t written down until missionaries visited the area.

The missionaries decided to make the oral language written so that the Inuit people may read and understand the bible.  What happened was that different missionaries created different written styles of the regional dialects, making it difficult for the nations to communicate with each other and essentially, others.  Currently, Canadian Inuit people are working on a strategy to create a common written language.

Tarsands Monitoring Group Votes Not to Disband Despite Funding Cuts

  1. MCMURRAY — Fort McMurray-based Cumulative Environmental Management Assocation (CEMA) is an independent group that monitors Alberta’s tarsands. CEMA’s funding was cut after the government made industry funding of the group optional. Despite the 5 million dollar budget cut, spokeswoman Carol Christian confirmed the vote to dissolve the group was defeated.

The organization says that they better represent “aboriginal stakeholders.”  Terry Abel, tarsands director at CEMA, argues that they have fulfilled their mandate and that, “there are more organizations that could accomplish the same tasks more efficiently and effectively.”

Ontario Regional Chief Day: Enough is enough

OTTAWA — Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that the state of health for First Nations is deplorable.  Day recently convened responsibility for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Health portfolio and will make a determined effort to raise awareness on the state of First Nation health in Canada.  Chief Day reminds people that this is not only an Indigenous issue but a Canadian one, as well.

“We are dealing with a very serious health issues in our communities. Violence, suicide and children living in third-world conditions exist in this country yet we turn a blind eye to it. This impacts the whole health care system in Canada. We want what all people want — to raise happy, healthy children who will contribute to their families, their communities, and their country. Health matters to all of us. As the lead for the AFN Executive Committee on Health, I am going to make this a top priority. Next week we will be making an Ontario specific statement on health. At that time it will be important for both the Canadian public and federal election parties and candidates to take note. Action is needed. Enough is enough.”

Caribou Legs Runs Across Canada in Action Over Conservative’s Refusal to Protect Water

OTTAWA — It took Caribou Legs, a man from the Gwich’in nation from the Northwest Territories, three months and 22 days to run from Vancouver to Ottawa.  He decided to take action after the Conservative government passed the 2012 Omnibus budget bill that amended the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Resource extraction companies no longer have to prove that new projects would not damage navigable waters.  The amended act now provides federal protection only for Canada’s busiest rivers, lakes and oceans.  Caribou Legs ran an average of 50 – 75 kilometres per day, along the TransCanada Highway.  Upon arrival in Ottawa, on September 21, Caribou Legs handed a petition, with 15 000 signatures to Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar, among others.

Manitoba First Nation’s Children’s Advocate Fasting to Raise Awareness of Broken System

WINNIPEG — Cora Morgan, an advocate for First Nations children, along with five other women, will be fasting for 5 days to bring attention to the broken child welfare system in Manitoba.  They will fast in large tipis on the Manitoba Legislature’s front yard to draw attention to the province’s broken child welfare system.  Manitoba has more than 10 000 children in care and the vast majority of them are Indigenous.  The province seizes an average of one newborn baby a day.

Manitoba’s Child and Family Services (CFS) has been under scrutiny for years for housing children in hotels and for allowing teens to languish in jail because of a shortage of appropriate foster care spots.  Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin Ross sat down with the group on Monday evening to “listen to their concerns.”  She insists that the government is bolstering prevention programs to reduce the number of apprehensions.  One of the fasters argues that the government is putting more resources into housing than in keeping families together.

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