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  • Federal government to open applications for Indigenous led shelters across Canada 
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    IQALUIT, Nunavut- The federal government says it will soon open applications to build emergency shelters and transitional housing for Indigenous people facing gender-based violence across Canada. Speaking in Iqaluit, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller today highlighted money already announced in the Liberals’ 2021 budget, including $420 million over five years for the construction of Indigenous-led shelters. Ahmed Hussen, who is the families, children and social development minister, says a call for shelter proposals will go out this September. Hussen says the money will pay for the construction of at least 38 emergency shelters and 50 transitional homes across the country. Aluki Kotierk, president of the land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., says the funding is a good step forward but says it’s too little, too late for Inuit who continue to The post Federal government to open applications for Indigenous led shelters across Canada  appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Lac La Ronge Indian Band to begin weekend search of residential school site
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    By Nick Pearce  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Warning: Details in this story may be upsetting to readers. Lac La Ronge Indian Band members are preparing to unearth the truth of the former Lac La Ronge Indian Residential School’s possible unmarked graves. Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said she expects several band members to attend this weekend’s ground-penetrating radar search of a La Ronge cemetery associated with the school. “From there we’ll see how much more work needs to be done,” Cook-Searson said. An Elder from the community has been clearing overgrowth from the site, preparing the way for SNC-Lavalin workers to search the area on Saturday and Sunday, she said. A four-day sacred fire will be lit, followed by a ceremony and the blessing of search equipment on Friday. The searches are expected The post Lac La Ronge Indian Band to begin weekend search of residential school site appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Grassroots farmers, ranchers in Saskatchewan share lands to honour treaty rights 
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    By Shari Narine  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter As the province of Saskatchewan verges on making land less accessible to Indigenous hunters and gatherers through pending trespassing legislation, a group of farmers and ranchers are acting as a “counterpoint.” “It’s really, really amazing,” said Bradley Desjarlais, who is a member of the Anishnabek Nation Treaty Authority. He admits, however, he wonders what the catch is even though he was part of the launch event July 15 for the new Treaty Land Sharing Network (TLSN). TLSN is a grassroots group made up of farmers and ranchers who have joined to share land that they farm. They actively welcome First Nations and Metis people to practice their way of life on that land. They have not gone through any formal steps with any The post Grassroots farmers, ranchers in Saskatchewan share lands to honour treaty rights  appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Fifth Manitoba First Nation forced to evacuate due to wildfires, smoke: Red Cross
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    WINNIPEG- A growing number of wildfires and increasing smoke are forcing the evacuation of another Indigenous community in Manitoba. The Canadian Red Cross says it is helping individuals with health concerns from Red Sucker Lake First Nation, about 700 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. About 300 people are expected to start flying out of the community today and will be staying in hotels in Winnipeg and Brandon. It’s the fifth Manitoba First Nation whose members have been forced to leave their homes this week. Most people from the Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein and Berens River First Nations have left, while Pauingassi First Nation completed its evacuation on Monday. There are about 2,000 people displaced and the number is growing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2021. The post Fifth Manitoba First Nation forced to evacuate due to wildfires, smoke: Red Cross appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Future of Metis National Council uncertain as Manitoba Federation gets mandate to pull out
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    By Shari Narine  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and the newly-created Alberta Metis Federation could spell the end of the Metis National Council (MNC) as it has operated for almost 40 years. “If MMF leaves MNC then MNC no longer exists as a whole,” said MMF President David Chartrand. “So from that perspective right now, they’re going to a pan-Aboriginal infrastructure and they will be negotiating their club-style mentality while we will be moving on Section 35 rights. That’s why you have me here (July 21) in Alberta signing an agreement with the communities who believe the same thing we believe on Section 35 rights.” Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and The post Future of Metis National Council uncertain as Manitoba Federation gets mandate to pull out appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • ‘Escalation’ of threats, vandalism against Vancouver churches: police
    by Lynda Powless on July 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    VANCOUVER- There’s been a “dramatic increase” in the number of vandalism or mischief incidents against properties owned by churches in Vancouver, and police say they’re concerned an escalation could lead to injury. Sgt. Steve Addison says 13 incidents have occurred since early June involving threats to set fires, graffiti, paint splattering and rocks being thrown through widows at Christian churches in the city. One pastor found a canister with about four litres of lighter fluid and rags near the side of his church while doing rounds at 4 a.m., and saw a man standing in the middle of the street watching the building. Addison says the incidents correlate with the discovery of unmarked graves of children outside the former residential school in Kamloops and elsewhere in Canada. He says he The post ‘Escalation’ of threats, vandalism against Vancouver churches: police appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • NDP urges Ford to declare a state of emergency over northern wildfires
    by Lynda Powless on July 22, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO- Ontario’s Opposition is calling on the government to declare a state of emergency over wildfires burning in the province’s northwestern region. Two NDP legislators who represent northwestern communities say Premier Doug Ford “must stop ignoring the wildfire crisis.” In a letter to Ford, Sol Mamakwa and Judith Monteith-Farrell ask the premier to take immediate action to deal with the situation, including sending more resources to fight the wildfires. Members of five First Nations have been evacuated due to the threat posed by the fires and the impact of smoke from the blazes. There are currently 166 fires burning in northwestern Ontario, with 83 of those not under control. A spokesman for the Solicitor General’s office says the government is ready to provide “all support necessary” to protect the The post NDP urges Ford to declare a state of emergency over northern wildfires appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Ottawa commits money to lay foundation for Indigenous law centre in Ontario
    by Lynda Powless on July 21, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    By Christopher Reynolds THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA- The federal government is earmarking funds for projects that aim to build on Ottawa’s commitment to help revitalize Indigenous legal traditions. Justice Minister David Lametti says $918,000 will go to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and Lakehead University’s law faculty over three years to support Indigenous law-making research and “lay the foundation” for an Indigenous legal institute in Thunder Bay, Ont. “We’re confident that this funding will help make a real difference for Indigenous communities doing the sometimes challenging but important work of revitalizing their legal systems,” he said at a virtual news conference Wednesday. “I’m a committed legal pluralist. And I firmly believe that the only way that Canada can live up to the goal of being a just country The post Ottawa commits money to lay foundation for Indigenous law centre in Ontario appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Military headed to Manitoba to help with growing number of wildfires, evacuations
    by Lynda Powless on July 21, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    WINNIPEG- The Canadian Armed Forces will be assisting with the growing number of wildfires in Manitoba. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted late yesterday that up to 120 military members are being sent to the province. Four First Nations in the eastern part of the province were evacuated to Winnipeg and Brandon this week due to the wildfires and smoke. The Canadian Red Cross says more than 1,300 residents have had to leave their communities. A special air-quality alert remains in effect for most of the province. There are 130 active wildfires, with about two dozen classified as out of control. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021. The post Military headed to Manitoba to help with growing number of wildfires, evacuations appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Former Manitoba cabinet minister gets key government appointment, rejects it
    by Lynda Powless on July 21, 2021 at 9:21 pm

     By Steve Lambert THE CANADIAN PRESS WINNIPEG- Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was rejected again by one of his former cabinet ministers Wednesday in the latest sign of tumult within the Progressive Conservative government. Pallister had appointed Eileen Clarke, who resigned from cabinet earlier this month in part over Pallister’s remarks on Canadian history, to the provincial Treasury Board, which oversees government spending. The appointment was made official and posted online earlier this week, only to have Clarke turn it down Wednesday. “Ms. Clarke had not been made aware of any appointment to government Treasury Board, but on (Wednesday) did receive an email from the secretary of the Treasury Board congratulating her on the recent appointment and a request to meet,” read a prepared statement from Clarke’s constituency office. “Eileen has The post Former Manitoba cabinet minister gets key government appointment, rejects it appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

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  • More than 2000 people evacuated due to forest fires
    by chrisk on July 20, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    A Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry online map shows the new forest fires in orange, active forest fires in red and current restricted fire zones in cross-hatched lines on July 18. Screenshot. About 2,000 people were evacuated from Poplar Hill, Deer Lake and Pikangikum as of July 16 due to smoke from forest fires near their communities. About 560 people were evacuated from Poplar Hill, about 630 from Deer Lake and about 865 from Pikangikum as of July 16. “There’s almost 300 (Poplar Hill evacuees) in Thunder Bay and there’s some other people who went to Cochrane, there’s 100 there, and there’s another (group of evacuees in) Kapuskasing,” says Poplar Hill Deputy Chief Alvin Owen on July 14. “Chief (Howard Comber) is still in the community and one of the councillors. I think there’s about 160 left over in our community — they don’t want to go out.” Owen says Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry officials told the community that there would be “a lot of smoke” from the forest fire. “For our community, that’s the first time — we haven’t had an evacuation before,” Owen says. “We were flown out by the (Canadian Armed Forces C-130) Hercules and the Dash 8 and a Caravan. I think there were 70 or 80 people on (the Hercules) and on the Dash 8 over 30.” As of July 17, Red Lake 65, sized at 12,325 hectares, was located about 7 kilometres northwest of Poplar Hill. Three FireRanger crews were assigned to protect the community and critical infrastructure. The fire behaviour was too aggressive to safely put out ground crews and smoke and visibility posed challenges for using firefighting aircraft in the area as of July 17. Fire officials were looking for opportunities to bring the fire to natural boundaries. Red Lake 51, sized at 45,776 hectares, was located about 24 kilometres west of Deer Lake as of July 17. The fire behaviour was too aggressive to safely put out ground crews and fire officials were looking for opportunities to bring the eastern edge of the fire closest to the community to natural boundaries as of July 17. Red Lake 77, rated as not under control at 17,120 hectares, was located about 36 kilometres west of Red Lake as of July 17. FireRanger crews were working alongside municipal firefighters to protect the community and critical infrastructure. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler called for the provincial government to declare a State of Emergency on July 12 to trigger an immediate response to assist remote First Nation communities threatened by forest fires. “Three of our communities have been forced to evacuate, and if fire conditions and behaviour continue on current course the potential for full scale evacuations of several communities is a reality,” Fiddler says. “This is quickly becoming a NAN-wide emergency and requires an immediate, coordinated response. The City of Thunder Bay took quick action declaring a State of Emergency over the weekend that has allowed them to accommodate some of the evacuees from our communities, and we are grateful. It is time for the province to do the same so the appropriate personnel, equipment and supports can be mobilized before this situation becomes worse. Lives are at stake, there is no time to waste.” The provincial government issued an Emergency Area Order for all of northwestern Ontario due to the extreme fire hazard and increased forest fire activity on July 14. “I am monitoring the situation closely and the government is doing everything it can to protect communities and property in the area,” says Greg Rickford, minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “Public safety is our first priority, and we will continue to provide all support necessary to protect the health and well-being of those impacted by wildfires.” The provincial government also announced on July 16 that more than 100 firefighters and support staff from Mexico were scheduled to arrive in Toronto on July 17 to help fight against several large forest fires in northwestern Ontario. “We are thankful for the brave efforts of Ontario’s forest firefighters and all the people that support their efforts to keep our northern communities safe,” Rickford says. “Keeping people safe and protecting property is our top priority.” Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Fire Chief Greg Hankkio says about 174 people from Deer Lake and about 357 people from Poplar Hill were evacuated to Thunder Bay as of July 14 due to smoke and fire conditions. “Our role is to provide them a home away from home while they are dealing with a very stressful situation in their community,” Hankkio says. “They began arriving on Sunday (July 11), the rest of the people arrived on Monday and some into Tuesday and now we’re getting them settled and trying to take care of any medical needs they have as best we can.” In addition to Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, the local coordinating team in Thunder Bay included representatives from the City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Police Service, Superior North EMS, Emergency Management Ontario, Canadian Red Cross and Thunder Bay District Health Unit. As of July 17 there were 102 active fires in the northwest region, including 34 fires not under control, seven fires being held, 18 fires under control and 43 fires being observed. A total of 13 fires were called out on July 17. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 23:06

  • RoseAnne Archibald becomes first woman elected as National Chief
    by chrisk on July 9, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    National Chief RoseAnne Archibald was elected on July 8 as the first woman to hold the post after candidate Reginald Bellerose withdrew from the election after losing 32 votes on the fifth ballot. A sixth ballot had been announced before Bellerose withdrew because the winning candidate needed at least 60 per cent of votes to be declared as national chief. Archibald had 205 votes, which was 50.5 per cent of the 406 registered representatives for the national chief election, while Bellerose had 144 votes and 35.5 per cent. There were 350 votes cast on the fifth ballot, including one abstained vote. “My election as the first woman is a victory for all women, First Nations, Indigenous and women everywhere,” Archibald says during a July 9 press conference. “We saw a historic win with Kahs (Kahsennenhawe) Sky-Deer in Kahnawake as the first woman grand chief, Mary Simon was appointed as the first Governor General Indigenous woman and the AFN (Assembly of First Nation) chiefs have joined in this her-storical change. It’s absolutely essential that women and girls everywhere can see themselves represented at the Assembly of First Nations in a leadership role.” Archibald says her gender was not the reason she was elected as national chief. She previously served as regional chief, two terms as deputy grand chief, two terms as chief of Taykwa Tagamou Nation and as grand chief of Mushkegowuk Council. “It is the 31 years of experiences at every political level that has gotten me here,” Archibald says. “Women are worthy, women are capable, women are highly skilled. Our colonial and patriarchal systems need to be deconstructed and dismantled so that women and gender-diverse people can find a space in the leadership positions. The systems must be able to recognize women based on our ability to hold positions of authority and influence. Taking on this role gives women hope everywhere, not only that they can strive to be the national chief but they will also know that they can pursue their own dreams and create their own her-story.” Archibald says her “positive vision for the future” encompasses a healthy AFN organization that strengthens First Nation communities. “Further, First Nations sovereignty, jurisdiction and inherent rights are at the centre of my work, that those inherent and treaty rights will be recognized, honoured and implemented,” Archibald says. “We do have a 100-day plan, which includes a number of items, but there are some key issues facing First Nations that I want to tell you that are in some way going to be a part of my 100-day plan. The recovery of our children at former residential schools is a priority. There must be truth before reconciliation. I will support and advocate for resources for ongoing healing from intergenerational trauma, from colonization, particularly residential schools.” Archibald says she will be calling on the government partners as the new national chief to advance “true reconciliation” and to build an action plan to implement all 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action. “With the recent recovery of our little ones, there is a healing path forward and we can only get there by working together,” Archibald says. “Other issues that face our people are the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls action plan — this is a priority.” Archibald says they also have to address systemic racism within the health and justice systems. “We have to face the climate change crisis we are in,” Archibald says. “We’re seeing wildfires in B.C. that are razing whole communities to the ground — we have to take action.” Archibald had 206 votes and 50.7 per cent on the fourth ballot while Bellerose had 176 votes and 43.3 per cent. There was one abstained vote the fourth ballot. Former grand chief Alvin Fiddler withdrew from the election after the third ballot, where he had 64 votes and 17.9 per cent. Archibald had 129 votes and 36.1 per cent while Bellerose had 144 votes and 40.3 per cent. Candidate Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse was eliminated after the third ballot where she had the lowest votes, with 20 votes and 5.6 per cent. Candidate Kevin T. Hart was eliminated from the election after the second ballot where he had the lowest votes, with 25 votes and 7.1 per cent. Candidates Cathy Martin and Chief Lee Crowchild were eliminated from the election after the first ballot, where Martin had 15 votes and 4.1 per cent and Crowchild had seven votes and 1.9 per cent. Bellerose led the election for the first three ballots, with a one-vote lead on the first ballot, a three-vote lead on the second ballot and a 15-vote lead on the third ballot. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Friday, July 9, 2021 - 20:55

  • March honours found children
    by chrisk on July 2, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Elder Ma-Nee Chacaby leads the No Pride in Genocide marchers beginning at 2:15 on July 1 from Waverley Park to Thunder Bay’s waterfront to honour the 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian residential school. Photo by Rick Garrick. Thunder Bay’s No Pride in Genocide march began at 2:15 on July 1 to honour the 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian residential school. “It’s a grieving time for us (with) what they found and what they’re going to continue finding,” says Elder Ma-Nee Chacaby, whose memoir, A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder, was published in 2016. “There’s going to be more.” Chacaby says the turnout was “pretty good” for the walk from Waverley Park to the Thunder Bay waterfront. “It was a beautiful walk,” Chacaby says. “The line was so beautiful, you saw the orange coming all the way around the corner.” Chacaby says the signs were created by a group of youth a couple of days before the march. “I work with a lot of young people and they did the art,” Chacaby says. “We were fixing all this up at the Waverley Park, so a lot of it has to do with these young kids.” Cynthia Nault, one of the organizers of the march, says it was hard for her to see people celebrating and having picnics and fireworks for Canada Day when so many people are grieving due to the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools. “It’s really important for people to come out and do some listening and some learning and see what’s really going on in their own backyard,” Nault says. “I think Canada as a nation and Canadians have to do some serious work and decide going forward how they want to live with First Nations people. First Nations people have been here longer than Canada and our relationship between peoples used to be a lot better as was shown by the Two Row Wampum Belt, so I’d like to see us getting back to that type of relationship where we live together.” Lac Seul’s Ann Magiskan wore a special skirt that her partner saw in a vision about a week before the march. “So I commissioned my daughter Mary Magiskan to make this skirt,” Magiskan says. “There are so many messages in this skirt — every ribbon that is tied on here represents the first grave that was unearthed, 215 children. So I was honoured to be able to tie 215 ribbons while my daughter made the skirt.” Magiskan says the red colour in the skirt represents the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “It also has the water, Nibi, which is so important to life,” Magiskan says. “We are raised in water so it is a very important message to keep that message of caring for water as Anishinabekwe. We’re the keepers of the water, we need to start to honour that and share those messages.” Magiskan says the strawberries on the skirt represent new life. “And the last one is the children on the bottom, which represent the children that were taken forcibly,” Magiskan says. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Friday, July 2, 2021 - 20:17

  • Ontario Supporting the Identification and Commemoration of Indian Residential School Burial Sites
    by chrisk on June 16, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    The Ontario government is providing $10 million to help support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of Indian Residential School burial sites across the province. The funding will also ensure that culturally appropriate, trauma-informed mental health supports are available for Indian Residential School survivors, their families and Indigenous communities. “Like all Ontarians, I was heartbroken by the news of a burial site containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia,” said Premier Doug Ford. “That is why our government is partnering with Indigenous communities to address the loss of generations who are no longer with us, and the continued loss experienced by residential school survivors and their families. As we advance meaningful reconciliation, it is important that all of us continue to deepen our collective understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system.” Across Canada, over 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and sent to Indian Residential Schools between 1870 and 1996. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, there were 18 Indian Residential Schools in Ontario; the last of these closed in 1991, with some sites since repurposed, abandoned or destroyed. “We know that the tragic findings at a former Indian Residential School site in British Columbia are sadly not an anomaly,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Indigenous leaders and Ontarians are looking to governments to commit to the work of investigating Indigenous Residential School burial sites on a priority basis and our government is taking action to support this process through to completion.” Ontario is working in collaboration with Indigenous leaders to establish processes that will guide the work related to Indian Residential School site identification, investigation, protection and commemoration. Initial site identification will be the first step in a much more extensive process, pending the wishes of the affected families and communities. The province will identify technical experts, including archaeologists, forensic specialists and historians, available to lead the related research, analysis and technical field work required and ensure it is conducted to the highest standard. Indigenous communities will have the option to work in conjunction with Ontario specialists, such as those provided by the province’s Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Office of the Chief Coroner/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service. As Ontario continues to advance meaningful reconciliation, the province will also work with Indigenous partners to explore opportunities to deepen Ontarians’ collective awareness and understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 02:50

  • Brayden Bushby sentenced
    by chrisk on June 8, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Brayden Bushby was sentenced to eight years less one month for time served in pretrial custody in the death of Barbara Kentner on June 7 at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Kentner, 34, died five months after Bushby, then 18, struck her with a trailer hitch that he threw at her from a moving vehicle while she was walking with her sister on a street in Thunder Bay in 2017. Bushby was convicted of manslaughter in her death in 2020. “What you did, Mr. Bushby, was not brave. It was not manly; it was not impressive. It did not make our community a better place,” states Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Pierce in her Reasons for Sentence. “Something happens when you attack the dignity of another person: you lose your own in the process. That is what happened here. With your trailer hitch, you targeted a vulnerable woman on the street when she could not protect herself. You did it from the safety of a vehicle, so that you could just drive away.” Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox says Kentner, a Wabigoon Lake citizen who had lived in Thunder Bay, was much loved and is very much missed. “Barbara was taken from us far too soon, and no sentence can relieve the anguish her family and friends have experienced,” Fox says. “It is encouraging that Justice Pierce acknowledged the powerful victim impact statements while delivering this sentence, and that she recognized the need to send a strong message of deterrence.” Fox adds that Pierce highlighted how Bushby targeted a vulnerable, defenceless woman, and that his actions have perpetuated feelings of distrust and insecurity for Indigenous people in Thunder Bay. “This brutal and senseless attack demonstrates the racism and violence that Indigenous peoples continue to face, not only in Thunder Bay but across the country,” Fox says. “We stand today in solidarity with Barbara’s family and all those who seek to end systemic racism and support equality and justice.” Coralee McGuire-Cyrette, executive director at Ontario Native Women’s Association, says there can be no true justice for Kentner’s family as her life has been lost. “No sentencing can ever address the grief from her family and her community and the community as a whole,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “We also have to remember Brayden Bushby was participating in the normalization of violence against Indigenous women, particularly in Thunder Bay. The practice of throwing objects at Indigenous people and Indigenous women here in Thunder Bay is normalized, it’s been acceptable. We have to look at calling for transformational change to address this violence.” McGuire-Cyrette notes that Bushby appealed his conviction and requested bail within hours of being sentenced by Pierce. “We are so pleased that the Court of Appeal denied his request for bail,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “We are definitely very happy and pleased that the court denied the bail while he goes through the appeal process.” Pierce stated in her Reasons for Sentence that Bushby treated the Kentner women like they were disposable and their lives and dignity were not worth his concern. “When you threw that trailer hitch, the impact was both immediate and far-reaching,” Pierce states. “At the centre of the circle was Barbara Kentner. She was seriously injured. The complications from her injury caused her pain and hastened her death.” Pierce adds that she concluded that Bushby knew he was throwing the trailer hitch at women and had minimized women, disrespected them and made them feel unsafe. “Your actions are an affront to all women,” Pierce stated. “The court has also been told that it is a common experience for Indigenous people in Thunder Bay to have objects thrown at them from passing cars: eggs, drinks, bottles, bricks, garbage. You have joined in this disgusting activity. Now we can add trailer hitches to that list. You perpetuated the feeling of distrust and insecurity that Indigenous citizens in the community feel when they are on the streets. You have confirmed that these assaults continue.” Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa, NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, and Toronto Centre MPP Suze Morrison, NDP critic for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Response, stated that the justice system has consistently failed Indigenous people in a press statement. “This long-standing pattern has normalized violence against Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people,” Mamakwa and Morrison stated. “This pattern must be broken. The sentence today is just one part of the long healing process for Barbara Kentner’s family, who are still without their mother and sister. The Kentner family has asked for justice for Barbara, and for Thunder Bay to be safer for Indigenous people. The government of Ontario has a role to play to ensure that call is honoured.” Mamakwa and Morrison also stated that the provincial government’s Pathways to Safety plan and the federal action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ findings cannot just sit on the shelf. “The province must actively work to increase safety for Indigenous women and girls,” they stated. “A sentence for one man is a start, but not an end to Indigenous women and girls being the targets of an epidemic of violence, abuse, taking and killing.” Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 01:31

  • Wawatay and NAN Mourns Passing of Elder Freddie Kakekagumick of Keewaywin First Nation
    by chrisk on April 23, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, expresses heartfelt condolences following the passing of NAN Elder Freddie Kakekagumick, 85, of Keewaywin First Nation: “On behalf of Nishnawbe Aski Nation I send our love and prayers to Freddie’s family, his son Chief George Kakekagumick, and the entire Keewaywin community. Freddie was a long-serving member of the NAN Elder’s Council and served as Elder advisor to Keewaytinook Okimakanak for many years. His presence at our Assemblies has been greatly missed over the past few years due to his ailing health. He was an accomplished musician and gospel singer and contributed in many positive ways to support communities and their citizens. His life was a blessing, and we are grateful for all the time we were able to spend with him. It is especially sad that we are not able to join with these communities to grieve at this time. We will join with Freddie’s friends in prayer and will do anything we can to comfort his family.” A citizen of Keewaywin, Freddie Kakekagumick also had strong family ties in Sandy Lake First Nation, where he was living before having to leave the community for extended care in Sioux Lookout. He was a very well-respected Elder in both communities and will be remembered fondly. Details on funeral services have yet to be announced. We ask everyone to keep those who are mourning in their prayers in the difficult days ahead. Featured In Slider: noAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Saturday, April 24, 2021 - 00:25

  • Fire destroys church in Attawapiskat
    by chrisk on April 22, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Photo by Joseph Kataquapit. The St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Attawapiskat caught fire yesterday April 21, 2021. The historic church, which was built in the 1930's, is one of the oldest buildings in the community. It was mostly constructed by the local people using lumber gathered and milled in the community. As of now there have been no reports of any injuries, and firefighters contained the fire to help prevent the spread of flames and further damage to any other surrounding buildings. Currently the cause of the fire is unknown. ***This story will be updated as more information about the cause of the fire becomes known.*** Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 19:41

  • Bushby sentencing decision to be held on May 4
    by chrisk on February 26, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    A group of women drummers sing a song outside the Courthouse Hotel in Thunder Bay where the Brayden Bushby manslaughter trial was being held. Photo by Rick Garrick. Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen M. Pierce reserved decision and reasons until May 4 at the Brayden Bushby sentencing hearing for the death of the late Wabigoon Lake citizen Barbara Kentner. The Crown had called for a sentence of eight to 12 years and the defence a sentence of four years at the Feb. 17 sentencing hearing at the Thunder Bay Courthouse. Bushby was found guilty of manslaughter in Kentner’s death on Dec. 14 by Justice Pierce after he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and not guilty of manslaughter at his judge-only trial in early November at the Courthouse Hotel in Thunder Bay. The sentencing hearing heard impact statements from Kentner’s daughter and other family members as well as from the Nokiiwin Tribal Council, Indigenous Bar Association and Ontario Native Women’s Association. Bushby also delivered an apology for his actions in the death of Kentner as well as the impacts on her family during the hearing. The hearing was heard at the Thunder Bay Courthouse, which was closed for about four months due to a fire in an electrical unit. The hearing included submissions from Bushby’s lawyer and the Kentner family. Pierce states at the beginning of her decision, which is posted online at:, that Section 268 of the Criminal Code defines aggravated assault as wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of another. “By pleading guilty to aggravated assault, Mr. Bushby has admitted that the Crown can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intentionally applied force to Ms. Kentner to which she did not consent, and to which he knew she did not consent,” Pierce states. “While the indictment does not specify the result of his actions, the evidence supports that he wounded her and endangered her life when he did so.” Pierce states in her decision that it is not disputed that Kentner was seriously injured when, in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2017, she was struck with a heavy trailer hitch that Bushby threw at her from a moving car. “She was struck in the abdomen with a force that perforated her small bowel,” Pierce states. “Ms. Kentner was taken to hospital later that day where she underwent surgery. At the time of her injury, Ms. Kentner was seriously ill with liver disease. She died some five months later.” Pierce states in her decision that the Crown submits that it has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Bushby committed the unlawful act of throwing a trailer hitch at Kentner, striking her, and causing her death as defined by law and therefore submits that a conviction on manslaughter should follow. “The defence argues that: a) the Crown has not proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Bushby caused Ms. Kentner’s death as defined by law; b) alternatively, the defence contends that there was an intervening cause that broke the chain of causation, such that, in law, Mr. Bushby was not morally responsible for her death,” Pierce states. Pierce states at the end of her decision that Bushby is still responsible if he injures a person whose health, social and psychological condition makes it less likely that she will recover. “On the facts of this case, I find that the Crown has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was no intervening act that displaces his responsibility in law for Ms. Kentner’s injury and ensuing death,” Pierce states. “For the foregoing reasons, I find that the Crown has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that by an unlawful act, Brayden Bushby injured Barbara Kentner, accelerating and causing her death, and further, that the Crown has met its burden to disprove intervening causes. Therefore, I find Brayden Bushby guilty as charged of the offence of manslaughter.” Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 04:15

  • Constance Lake First Nation declares state of emergency due to COVID-19
    by chrisk on January 22, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Constance Lake First Nation (CLFN) Chief Rick Allen and Council have declared a 2nd COVID-19 State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 outbreak in the community which was identified by the Porcupine Health Unit on January 16, 2021. With some of the positive cases being identified as coming from school-aged children—the elementary schools in the community have since closed moving to homeschool learning. In the 5 days that have passed since first identified, cases have soared from 2 to 11 positive cases as contract tracing began revealing the extent of the spread in the community. A COVID-19 State of Emergency was first issued from March 17 – April 3, 2020. “We are seeing an exponential spread in our community in a span of less than a week—this is why a second COVID-19 State of Emergency was declared,” said Chief Rick Allen. “For a community that has not had cases for the past 10 months, and with a number of cases in our community affecting children—we are alarmed but we are urging calm. We are calling on federal and provincial governments to come together to provide funding and emergency management supports in order for CLFN to effectively respond to the outbreak,” he added. The community plans to undergo community-wide COVID-19 testing in the near future and anticipate further identified positive cases. The community says that their inability to mount a response to the COVID-19 outbreak in CLFN is impacted by overcrowded housing, lack of assessment and isolation space, lack of COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment, lack of logistical supports for infected families, amongst other challenges. CLFN Chief Allen also said, “We are extremely frustrated that non-remote communities such as ours in Ontario, who have similar socio-economic conditions as remote communities and are not prioritized for vaccination despite ours being more susceptible to outbreaks being closer to neighbouring municipalities. We need vaccinations immediately,” he concluded. On January 20, 2021, MPP Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay) wrote to the office of Ontario Premier Ford notifying of the outbreak and reiterating that the Constance Lake First Nation does not have the health care capacity nor the infrastructure to respond and that critical services and resources are required. It included an urgent request for a COVID-19-specific isolation site for residents that have tested positive of COVID-19 and are unable to stay in their homes; the deployment of additional nurses and health care workers to help with quarantined citizens; access to and delivery of COVID-19 rapid tests; personal protective equipment for health care workers and residents; and the active participation of the local Ontario Provincial Police to aid with the local lockdown measures. The community has been in a lock-down position since January 16, 2021. The second COVID-19 State of Emergency will remain in effect until rescinded by CLFN Chief and Council. Community-wide testing will take place after contact tracing has been completed on the 11 identified cases. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Saturday, January 23, 2021 - 02:41

  • NAN calls for police video footage to be admitted in Mamakwa-McKay inquest
    by chrisk on January 22, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    The Thunder Bay police station. Submitted photo. Nishnawbe Aski Nation is supporting the call for a Thunder Bay Police video depicting the police dragging a First Nation inmate by the leg across the floor to be admitted as evidence in an upcoming inquest. Aboriginal Legal Services and the families of Don Mamakwa, from Kasabonika Lake, and Roland McKay, from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, who both died while in custody of the Thunder Bay Police, argued during a Jan. 14 motion hearing for the video to be admitted as evidence at the upcoming inquest into their deaths. Legal counsel for the Thunder Bay Police chief and several officers involved opposed the inclusion of the video, arguing that it is outside the scope of the Mamakwa-McKay inquest. “The attempt by the Thunder Bay Police Service to suppress this evidence shows how far the police will go to cover up the truth about their treatment of Indigenous people in this city,” says Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox. “This confirms that the Thunder Bay Police remain unwilling to confront the deadly issue of systemic racism, despite the police chief’s reluctant acknowledgment of systemic racism in the service after the release of the OIPRD (Ontario Independent Police Review Director) Report in 2018. This is racism, and the jury must be allowed to hear this evidence.” The OIPRD report, Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service, documented systemic racism in the Thunder Bay Police Service and recommended new investigations into nine cases involving the deaths of Indigenous people. Mamakwa, 44, died in 2014 and McKay, 50, died in 2017. The video depicting the police dragging the First Nation inmate was recorded the same night that Mamakwa was arrested and later found dead in his cell. Dr. David Cameron, presiding coroner for the inquest, presided at the motion hearing, which was held in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says the full truth must be told. “The families deserve nothing less,” Fiddler says. Fox, who was a practicing lawyer before being elected as a deputy grand chief, says the attempt by the police to keep the video from being viewed at the inquest is a “step backwards as far as that reconciliation and that relationship building” with the First Nations community in Thunder Bay. “Why does (the police officer) feel it is OK to do that,” Fox says. “And why are there no other police officers there to stop him.” Senator Murray Sinclair also delivered a report in 2018 for the Ontario Civilian Police Commission that documented the Thunder Bay Police Services Board’s failure to recognize and address violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people in Thunder Bay. Information about the inquest is posted online at: Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Saturday, January 23, 2021 - 02:32