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  • National library association calls for release of remaining residential school records
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    OTTAWA- The Canadian Federation of Library Associations is calling on federal cabinet ministers to support a full public release of remaining residential school records held by the Catholic Church and the government. It says the federal government committed to turning over 12,000 residential school documents after calls from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which has archived more than five million documents and 6,000 witness statements. The CFLA says in a release issued today that the documents are important for understanding the injustices and human rights abuses committed in the residential school system and are integral for “the achievement of justice” for Indigenous communities. The CFLA says in order for the Pope’s recent visit to Canada to impact reconciliation, action must be taken to uncover the full truth of the The post National library association calls for release of remaining residential school records appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Indigenous motorcycle club’s Unity Ride ends in Niagara on the Lake 
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    By Evan Loree  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The Sovereign Motorcycle Club was at Queenston Memorial Park Saturday afternoon at the end of a long ride from Ohsweken on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations reserve. The motorcycle club from Six Nations has a history of charity, previously coming to Niagara-on-the-Lake to raise money and awareness for survivors of residential schools. “We wanted to align our ride as close as we could to Orange Shirt Day,” club president Mike Player said. Last weekend the Unity Ride was raising money for the Mohawk Village Memorial Park, a restoration project seeking to convert part of the old grounds of Brantford’s Mohawk Institute into a park to commemorate the survivors and victims of residential schools. Sovereign is a young club, only The post Indigenous motorcycle club’s Unity Ride ends in Niagara on the Lake  appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • St. Davids teacher faces discipline for using offensive handout
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    By Evan Loree  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The District School Board of Niagara is in the hot seat after a kindergarten teacher from St. Davids Public School shared a racist handout with her students. Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Tracee Smith discovered the offensive handout crumpled up in her four-year-old son Ekkian’s backpack when he came home from school on Monday, Sept. 19. “You go through a little bit of emotions very quickly,” Smith said. At first she rolled her eyes and then she wanted to throw up her hands. “Like, this is for real?” she said. The handout portrayed stereotypically drawn Indigenous children and was titled “Two Little Indians are eating ice cream.” The goal of the activity was to identify the letter “I” in each scoop of ice cream. Smith is The post St. Davids teacher faces discipline for using offensive handout appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • WHL teams with Orange Shirt Society before National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    CALGARY-The Western Hockey League and the Orange Shirt Society announced a new partnership on Thursday with initiatives to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools. Orange Shirt Day, formally called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is a statutory holiday that will be held on Friday. The WHL says its commissioned a special WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo, designed by Metis artist Kim Vizi-Carmen of Pinerock Graphics that will be worn as a helmet decal by all WHL players and officials from Friday through to Oct. 9. “This partnership will help raise awareness and education about the impacts of residential schools,” said Phyllis Webstad, founder of Orange Shirt Day and Ambassador for the Orange Shirt Society. “It is also building a bridge and creating relationships between the WHL and The post WHL teams with Orange Shirt Society before National Day for Truth and Reconciliation appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Couple facing multiple drug charges after OPP and Six Nations Police arrest
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    HALDIMAND COUNTY, ON – Two people are facing multiple drug charges after Haldimand County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), with the aid of the Six Nations Police Service who initiated a traffic stop Tuesday, September 27, 2022, at about 8:55 p.m.. Haldimand OPP Detachment’s Community Street Crime Unit (CSCU) charged two individuals with drug offences and firearm offences following an ongoing investigation in Hagersville. The CSCU obtained information  that a man was in possession of a saw-off shot gun and illegal drugs at an address on John Street in Hagersville. A traffic stop was initiated by members of the Six Nations Police Service and two individuals were taken into custody without incident. CSCU executed a search warrant at an address in Hagersville and officers seized a loaded saw-off bolt action shot The post Couple facing multiple drug charges after OPP and Six Nations Police arrest appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Play about a promise made and a promise broken teaches children about reconciliation
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    By Crystal St.Pierre  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Carousel Theatre for Young People in Vancouver is getting set to stage FROZEN RIVER NIKWATIN SIPIY, an award-winning play scheduled to run Sept. 28 to Oct. 16 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. It’s a Manitoba Theatre For Young People Production written by Carrie Costello, Michaela Washburn and Joelle Peters. The play focuses on the issues of reconciliation, environmentalism, and interconnectedness in a way that children five years of age and up will understand. “I’m not sure what (audiences) are going to walk away with, but I hope they enjoy the storytelling. I hope they come away with questions,” said Metis-Cree director Katie German. The story begins with two young girls, age 11, one of Scottish descent and one of Swampy-Cree. They The post Play about a promise made and a promise broken teaches children about reconciliation appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Catholic board approves SSBA Indigenous Education Framework
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    By Michael Oleksyn  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education gave their approval on Monday to a new Indigenous Education Responsibility Framework created by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). The framework is designed to help Indigenous students improve their educational attainment, and to help measure how schools teach and assist them. The SSBA created it as a pilot project in 2021-22, but now wants to expand its use across the province. PA Catholic School Division education director Lorel Trumier said they’re excited about the new framework because it will help provide responsibility, and understanding in the division. “I think it’s really good work that’s coming out of our Saskatchewan School Board Association and I credit our trustees in this province for recognizing the The post Catholic board approves SSBA Indigenous Education Framework appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Lawyer for First Nation says goal of B.C. land claim case is reconciliation
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    By Brieanna Charlebois THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER- A lawyer for the Nuchatlaht First Nation, which is fighting for title to part of Nootka Island in British Columbia, has told a court that the underlying objective of the proceeding is reconciliation. Jack Woodward said at the start of his closing argument that the province missed its opportunity and has instead placed “the burden of reconciliation squarely on the court,” in the first test for the landmark 2014 Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. That case recognized the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s rights and title over a swath of its traditional territory in B.C.’s central Interior, not only to historic village sites. “The province presents the court with a stark choice: dismissal or declaration. No alternatives have been presented,” Woodward The post Lawyer for First Nation says goal of B.C. land claim case is reconciliation appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • Canadian Museums Association recommends 10 ways to decolonize heritage sector
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    By Cassandra Szklarski THE CANADIAN PRESS The Canadian Museums Association is calling for legislation, money and a cohesive national strategy to support Indigenous-led reconciliation in the museum sector. The association detailed the work needed in a report released Tuesday that includes 10 recommendations to help spur Indigenous self-determination at every level of a museum’s operations. “Moved to Action: Activating UNDRIP in Museums” urges legislation to support the repatriation of Indigenous belongings and remains of ancestors, and dedicated funding for the repatriation process. It was funded by the Heritage Department and responds to a call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to review museum policies. Pointing to her sector’s deep legacy of colonization, association president Heather George said our understanding of history is richer when Indigenous Peoples have authority over how The post Canadian Museums Association recommends 10 ways to decolonize heritage sector appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

  • OPP searching for ‘armed and dangerous man’ in Wiikwemkoong First Nation 
    by Lynda Powless on September 29, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    WIKWEMIKONG, Ont.- Ontario Provincial Police have issued an emergency alert asking residents of Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island to stay inside as they search for a person they believe to be “armed and dangerous.” The OPP say they are looking for 39-year-old Luke Naokeegijig, who is described as a six-foot-one male of average build, with long black hair, brown eyes and a moustache, last seen wearing black jeans and a camouflage sweater. The provincial police force is asking the public to lock all doors and windows, and notify police of any suspicious persons. The OPP has not said why they believe the suspect is dangerous. In a post on the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service’s Facebook page, Chief Scott Cooper says the person the OPP is searching for is not The post OPP searching for ‘armed and dangerous man’ in Wiikwemkoong First Nation  appeared first on The Turtle Island News.

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  • Leaders want financial investment after the Pope’s visit
    by chrisk on August 18, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Pope Francis spoke about asking for forgiveness in the name of the church during his six-day “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. He also expressed his indignation and shame about the evil perpetrated in Catholic Church residential schools. Photos by George Nakogee. Grand Chief Derek Fox stressed how First Nation leaders are calling for a financial investment after Pope Francis made his residential school apology during his six-day “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. “One of the things that was said to me was there should be a financial investment behind that apology, for example language,” Fox says on the first day of the Keewaywin Conference, held Aug. 9-11 in Timmins. “They helped take the language from us, why don’t they invest in the language, why don’t they throw a couple of million (dollars) at NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation) to help us with the language strategy, why don’t they invest in our school boards, put it into the curriculum to ensure that those things are not lost.” Pope Francis spoke about asking for forgiveness in the name of the church during his July 24-29 “penitential pilgrimage” at an Aug. 3 General Audience at the Vatican. “It was unlike other journeys, in fact the main motivation was to meet the Indigenous peoples to express to them my closeness and my sorrow, closeness of the church and my sorrow and to ask forgiveness for the harm done to them by those Christians, including many Catholics, who in the past collaborated in the forced assimilation and enfranchisement policies of the governments of the time,” the Pope says, as translated into English during the General Audience. “An in-depth study shows that on the one hand some men and women of the church were among the most decisive and courageous supporters of the dignity of the Indigenous peoples, coming to their defence and contributing to raising awareness of their languages, but on the other hand there was unfortunately no shortage of those who participated in programs that today we understand is unacceptable and contrary to the gospel, and for this I went to ask for forgiveness in the name of the church.” The Pope had expressed his indignation and shame about the evil perpetrated in Catholic Church residential schools on the final day of his “penitential pilgrimage” to listen to, dialogue with and apologize to Indigenous people across the country. “A short while ago I listened to several of you who were students of residential schools — I thank you for having had the courage to tell your stories and to share your great suffering that I could not imagine,” the Pope says, as translated into English during his July 29 visit to Iqaluit, Nunavut. “This only renewed in me the indignation and shame I have felt for months. Today too, in this place, I want to tell you how very sorry I am and to ask for forgiveness for the evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics who in these schools contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and enfranchisement.” The Pope stressed the testimony of an Elder who spoke about the beautiful spirit that reigned in Indigenous families before the advent of the residential school system. “He compared those days when grandparents, parents and children were harmoniously together to springtime, when young birds chirp happily around their mother,” the Pope says. “But suddenly, he said, the singing stopped, families were broken up and the little ones were taken far away from home. Winter fell over everything.” The Pope says stories such as the one shared by the Elder not only cause pain, they also create scandal. “All the more so if we compare them with the word of God and its commandment, honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the lord your God gives you,” the Pope says. “That possibility did not exist for many of your families, it vanished when children were separated from their parents and their own nation was perceived as dangerous and foreign.” The Pope says those forced assimilations evoke a biblical story about the just man Naboth, who refused to give the vineyard he inherited from his ancestors to those in power, who were willing to use every means to snatch it from him. “And we think too of the forceful words of Jesus about those who scandalize or despise even one of the little ones,” the Pope says. “How evil it is to break the bonds uniting parents and children, to damage our closest relationships, to harm and scandalize the little ones.” The Pope encouraged the Inuit youth to continue listening to the Elders and to embrace their past in order to write new pages of history, and offered them three pieces of advice as an Elder brother. “The first piece of advice is keep walking upwards — you live in these vast regions of the north, may they remind you of your vocation to strive ever higher without letting yourself get dragged down by those who would have you believe that it is better to think only of yourself and to use your time solely for your leisure and your interests,” the Pope says. “Don’t think that life’s great dreams are as unattainable as the sky above. No, you were made to fly, to embrace the courage of truth and the beauty of justice, to elevate your moral temper, to be compassionate, to serve others and to build relationships, to sow seeds of peace and loving care wherever you are, to ignite the enthusiasm of those all around you, to keep pressing forward and to not flatten everything out.” The Pope’s second piece of advice was to come to the light. “The third piece of advice, be part of a team,” the Pope says. The Pope’s visit included a meeting with Indigenous people at the former Ermineskin residential school, in Maskwacis, Alberta and a meeting with Indigenous people and the parish community at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, in Edmonton on July 25; a Holy Mass at Commonwealth Stadium, in Edmonton and a Pilgrimage to the site of Lac Ste. Anne and Liturgy of the Word at Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta on July 26; a visit with state officials and public address at the Citadelle de Québec/Plains of Abraham, Quebec on July 27; and a Holy Mass at the National Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec and a Vespers with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City on July 28. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 22:30

  • Award winning journalist Jody Porter passes
    by chrisk on August 18, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    The late Jody Porter, a former Wawatay News editor and CBC Thunder Bay senior reporter, was recognized with the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation in 2013. Wawatay News archive photo. Former Wawatay News editor and CBC Thunder Bay senior reporter Jody Porter was remembered for her award-winning journalism on Indigenous and social justice issues after she passed on July 19. Porter’s awards included the Radio Television Digital News Association’s 2011 Adrienne Clarkson Award for diversity and the Anishinabek Nation’s 2013 Debwewin Citation, which was launched in 2002 to honour excellence in storytelling about Indigenous issues. “When we started the Debwewin Citations just about 20 years ago now, it was exactly with people in mind like Jody Porter, people who whether they were Indigenous or not had dedicated their important writing work or journalism or storytelling about Indigenous peoples and issues,” says Maurice Switzer, former communications director at Anishinabek Nation and Mississaugas of Alderville citizen. “Jody certainly was an ally of Indigenous people — she cared very deeply about the Indigenous people she met.” Switzer says Porter was “way ahead of her time” in the reporting she did on Indigenous issues such as the Seven Youth Inquest, which looked into the deaths of seven Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) high school students who died while pursuing their secondary school education goals in Thunder Bay. “We’re going to miss her, she’s a real role model for people to follow,” Switzer says. “And she was a community leader in every sense of the word. Our main thoughts right now are with her family — we know they are going to miss her but they can be really proud of the contributions she made in her relatively few years on this planet.” Grand Chief Derek Fox, on behalf of the NAN Executive Council, says Porter was “relentless in her pursuit of truth and accountability.” “She produced award-winning journalism that revealed injustices faced by First Nations and gave a voice to people who did not have one,” Fox says. “Her exemplary reporting was highlighted during the 2015 inquest into the death of seven NAN youth, which was followed Canada-wide. She presented complex and painful issues with truth, accuracy and compassion.” Fox says Porter’s “unflinching work” presented the tragic circumstances around the deaths of the seven NAN youth, Jethro Anderson in 2000, Curran Strang in 2005, Paul Panacheese in 2006, Robyn Harper in 2007, Reggie Bushie in 2007, Kyle Morrisseau in 2009 and Jordan Wabasse in 2011, and illuminated the challenges faced by First Nations youth while pursuing their education. “During the Seven Youth Inquest her reporting reframed the issues, highlighting deficiencies in police investigations, the resistance of the coroner’s office to investigate and the broader issue of racism in Thunder Bay,” Fox says. “This was not always popular, but Jody had the courage to question the roles and responsibilities of the institutions that played critical roles in the lives of these young people.” Porter was also recognized with Massey College’s Clarkson Laureateship in Public Service in 2015 for her work in connecting Indigenous and northern communities through her reporting, including the radio/social media project Common Ground Café. “Jody’s integrity and professionalism were matched only by her caring and compassion,” Fox says. “We give thanks for her life, and our prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.” Porter was also the only person to be recognized with both the Anishinabek Nation’s honourable Debwewin Citation mention, which she received in 2005, and the Debwewin Citation. A Centennial College journalism graduate, Porter first worked as a journalist in the Northwest Territories before moving to Sioux Lookout in 1998 to continue her journalism career with Wawatay News. She later moved to Thunder Bay in 2000 to work with CBC Thunder Bay. Featured In Slider: noAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 22:27

  • 2022 Keewaywin award winners
    by chrisk on August 12, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Former grand chiefs Wally McKay, Bentley Cheechoo, Stan Beardy and Alvin Fiddler were honoured for their outstanding leadership and dedication at the Keewaywin Awards ceremony on Aug. 10. NAN Elder Helen Cromarty accepted the award on behalf of her late husband Dennis Cromarty and Jon Rudy accepted the award on behalf of his late father Frank Beardy. Photo from NAN Facebook page. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) recognized the outstanding contributions of six citizens and two groups during the 2022 Keewaywin Awards ceremony on the second day of the Keewaywin Conference, held Aug. 9-11 in Timmins. “We are pleased to congratulate this year’s recipients and we are proud to honour our past grand chiefs for their tireless efforts and significant contributions to our nation,” says Grand Chief Derek Fox. “We acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments and commitments they have made to improving the lives of our people and strengthening our communities. It is important that we take time when we gather to recognize the contributions that our leaders and citizens make to our communities and celebrate their success. Their dedication and accomplishments are inspiring.” The Elder Recognition Award was presented to Delores McKay, Mattagami, who has worked at many places across the country, including currently as the executive director of the Parry Sound Friendship Centre and previously as executive director at the Native Women’s Association, Sheshegwaning First Nation and Mattagami. She is also a member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. The Woman Award was presented to Vanessa Genier, Missanabie Cree, who is running for councillor in her community and previously started a project that became the non-profit organization Quilts for Survivors, which presents residential school survivors with quilts to honour their journey. She shares her love of quilting and her education in business with others through Quilts for Survivors. The Emile Nakogee Award for Outstanding Leadership was presented to Cat Lake Chief Russell Wesley, who was recently elected for a second straight term and was previously chief from 2013-2015. He has focused on two main initiatives, mental health and addictions and natural resources, during his terms as chief, and during his 40-plus year career in senior management roles he was an active contributor to the development of intergovernmental and government policies at the federal and provincial levels including Indigenous Services Canada, First Nation and Indigenous Health Canada, the Ontario Ministries of Aboriginal Affairs and Natural Resources and Forestry and Northern Development. The Youth Leadership/Community Involvement Award was presented to Jamal Gagnon, Taykwa Tagamou, a youth councillor who has worked to launch a Youth Council in his community and was able to raise $70,000 for a budget. He hopes the Youth Council will provide youth with a voice, input on community matters and inspire more youth participation. The Youth Academic Award was presented to Logan Metatawabin, Kashechewan, who recently graduated from Kapuskasing District High School with four bursaries and plans to attend Cambrian College’s two-year Power Engineering Technician program this fall. His goals are to work as a stationary engineer in nuclear energy. The NAN Staff Award was presented to Stewart Kamenawatamin, Bearskin Lake, who was quick to throw in his hat to assist in the First Nation immunization project and works very hard to support his people. He is a dedicated family man who lives the Seven Grandfather Teachings in his everyday life and work. The Youth Outstanding Service Award was presented to the Sandy Lake Patrol, whose three members, Grace Goodman, Simeon Kakepetum and Lenny Anishninabie, saved a young person at risk. The Sandy Lake Patrol provides a street patrol in the seven different areas of Sandy Lake. The Youth Community Involvement Award was presented to the North Caribou Lake Youth Council for being active in their roles and vocal in advocating for the children and youth to bring programming and activities to their peers. Their goal as a Youth Council is to bring healing in the areas of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healing. All of the former Grand Council Treaty No. 9 and NAN grand chiefs were honoured for their outstanding leadership and dedication, including Andrew Rickard, 1973-77 with Grand Council Treaty No. 9 and 1978-1979 with NAN; Dennis Cromarty, 1980-1981 and 1984-1988; Wally McKay, 1981-1983; Frank Beardy, 1983-1984; Bentley Cheechoo, 1988-1994; Charles Fox, 1994-2000; Stan Beardy, 2000-2012; Harvey Yesno, 2012-2015; and Alvin Fiddler, 2015-2021. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Saturday, August 13, 2022 - 00:13

  • Fifteen Annual Wabun Youth Gathering Provides Traditional Teachings
    by chrisk on July 18, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    Wabun Youth Gathering celebrated its 15th year in an event that drew over 70 Indigenous youth participants on the shores of Lake Mattagami. Here we see some of the group participants, Elders, organizers and chaperones. Photo by Xavier Kataquapit. The 15th Annual Wabun Youth Gathering was held in Mattagami First Nation in a week long outdoor event from July 11 to 15 for over 70 Indigenous youth on the shores of Lake Mattagami. The event was organized by the Wabun Tribal Council Health Department with the support of the tribal council’s First Nations. “This is an important annual event for our Wabun Youth as it gives them an opportunity to grow and stay connected to other Indigenous youth in the Wabun territory. They get to learn so much from their Elders and the traditional people that come to share their knowledge and teachings. It’s also a fun time for our young people to get together and be on the land, especially after two years of pandemic isolation,” commented Josee Forget, Wabun Regional Crisis Coordinator and event organizer. Youth took part in traditional teachings as well as fun activities including scavenger hunts, canoeing events, group activities and plenty of opportunities for swimming on Lake Mattagami next to a well maintained natural sand beach. “I’m happy to be here with so many people and to have a good time with them. It makes me feel good to know more about my culture and my people and to be out here on the land with everyone,” said 17 year old Shakira Quakegesic of Brunswick House FN. Elders, facilitators and traditional knowledge keepers were on hand to provide teachings and lessons to youth on the Seven Grandfather Teachings, cultural story telling, drum making, soap stone carving and dream catcher crafting. “When I see these young people on the water and in the canoes, it brings back a lot of memories of when I grew up. My Elders watched over me and my friends when we played by the water in the summer time and there was great comfort in knowing that they were there for us. It is the same now and it makes me happy to be here to witness that again,” said Elder Vina Hendrix. Several Wabun Elders made themselves available during the week. Local Mattagami FN Elder Leonard Naveau was on hand to share his vast knowledge of traditional hunting and trapping culture. Other Wabun Elders also included Elders Vina Hendrix of Matachewan FN and Mattagami FN Elders Clara Prince, Walter Naveau, Morris Naveau and Halina Naveau. Youth were also mentored and supported by a group of adult Chaperones from the Wabun First Nations. Meals and snacks were organized and led by Mattagami FN citizens Gary and Darlene Naveau. “This annual gathering is very important for our children because it brings them closer to the land, their Elders and their culture. My grandchildren are taking part in this event and it makes me happy to see all these youth coming together as a community,” explained Mattagami FN Chief Chad Boissoneau. Youth were accommodated at the event in a camp ground next to the beach area with tents. “It’s great to see our youth taking part in a more land based event on our people’s traditional lands. This is where we all grew up and this is who we are. The closer we can keep our children to the land, the brighter their future will be,” commented Matachewan FN Chief Alex ‘Sonny’ Batisse. Traditional Teacher Ocheekoosh / Sam St. Pierre of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation provided hands on teaching and ceremonies. She was assisted in these teachings by Mattagami FN citizens Faye Naveau and Nathan Naveau, who are both traditional teachers, drummers and singers. There was a ceremonial tipi with a sacred fire that was kept alive during the entire week by local volunteers led by Fire Keeper Kelly Naveau. This year’s event also marked the retirement of long time Wabun Health Director Jean Lemieux, a citizen of Matachewan FN. She was instrumental in launching this annual event first held in Mattagami FN in the summer of 2007. “It’s so very important to have events like this for our Indigenous youth. So much was taken away from our people in the past due to government polices like the residential school system or the sixties scoop so we have to work hard to keep our young people connected to their traditional past. I am so happy and thankful for all the support I’ve received from our citizens, Wabun Executive Director Jason Batise, past Director Shawn Batise and all our leaders over the past 31 years of my career. I wish them to continue to build on the programs we’ve developed and to grow even stronger in improving our communities for our youth and future generations,” said Jean Lemieux, Wabun Health Director. Eileen Boissoneau, Mattagami Health Director shared her own words of praise and well wishes for Lemieux on her retirement. “We really appreciate all the work that Jean has done for our people and our communities for so many years. She has helped our First Nations in starting so many gatherings and events that have kept all our Wabun citizens and health care workers connected. We will certainly miss her at the office and we wish her all the best,” said Boissoneau. The Wabun Youth Gathering originated through the vision and dream of Wabun Elder Thomas Saunders of Brunswick House FN who lobbied for a youth gathering. Sadly, he passed on before his dream came to be however Lemieux fulfilled a promise to him and developed the gathering. Wabun Tribal Council is a regional territorial organization which represents the six First Nation communities of Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Matachewan and Mattagami in Northeastern Ontario and it is directed by its respective Chiefs. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Xavier KataquapitDate Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - 02:38

  • National Assembly of Remote Communities holds first meeting
    by chrisk on June 20, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse speaks about severe gaps in services for children, youth and families in remote First Nation communities during the National Assembly of Remote Communities, held May 31-June 2 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Screenshot) Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders highlighted the importance of working with leaders from other remote communities on northern remote issues during the initial meeting of the National Assembly of Remote Communities, which was formed in 2021. The May 31-June 2 meeting was co-hosted by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) First Vice Chief David Pratt and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “I’m very excited about this endeavour with FSIN and the many other regions that are getting together for the sake of our remote communities,” says Grand Chief Derek Fox via the Zoom virtual platform. “For those who don’t know what it’s like to live in the remote north … they endure the high cost of living, the cost of fuel, delivering any kind of services to say Neskantaga or Bearskin Lake. These are things that are often not taken into account when it comes to announcements of funding and ensuring that First Nations get the resources they need.” Narcisse says the leaders want to bring more attention to the plight of remote communities and to identify the severe gaps in services that are prevalent amongst children, youth and families. “Many of our communities within the remote north sit on very rich resource lands,” Narcisse says. “Our children, youth and families should be enjoying a quality of life that is exceeding what they (have) right now.” Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater says it is important to keep speaking up because “our children are precious.” “We want them educated, we want them strong, we want them powerful, we want them healthy, so we need to work together,” Linklater says. “It’s nice to see a good mixture of Elders, knowledge keepers, youth, leadership, technical people — together we can do great things.” Mushkegowuk Council Deputy Grand Chief Rebecca Friday says it is important to fight for the children, noting that the current generation of children is facing a loss of their language. “The grandparents can’t understand their … great great grandchildren — it’s sad to see that because we need to speak in our language,” Friday says. “That’s why I spoke (Mushkegomowin) in my opening remarks. I’m trying my best to speak my language the way I was taught. All of my kids speak (Mushkegomowin), but my grandchildren don’t.” Theresa Sutherland, member of the NAN Women’s Council and Fort Albany citizen, says she has seen how the lack of mental health resources and services impacts First Nations women and by extension their communities. “While there are a handful of community-based treatment or land-based detox programs scattered throughout the NAN territory, they are underfunded and under resourced,” Sutherland says. “We need holistically comprehensive addictions treatment programs in every community. Women are the heart of our families, the heart of our communities, they can’t be expected to leave for the extended time needed to detox, then enter treatment and then move into an aftercare plan.” Ashley Bach, member of the NAN Oshkaatisak Council and Mishkeegogamang citizen, says she didn’t have an opportunity to grow up in her community due to funding inequities in rural and remote communities, noting she was apprehended at birth and adopted by a non-Native family in B.C. when she was five-years-old. “We feel at this present time there is no possible means of providing the special needs required by this child and there is simply no resources or facilities in our community that would enable this child to receive the best care possible,” Bach says, quoting a letter written by current Mishkeegogamang Chief David Masakeyash, who was a councillor at the time. “In that letter, that’s where they had to sign away saying that a family outside that wasn’t First Nation could adopt me and take care of me because they didn’t have those resources to do it themselves.” The National Assembly of Remote Communities was scheduled to focus on three major themes: the Journeys of Remote Communities; the Science of Measuring Remoteness; and Community Vulnerabilities Respecting Settlement Payouts. “Canada has failed our youth and families for decades, but I am encouraged that we now have a healing path forward,” Narcisse says. “The launch of the National Assembly of Remote Communities is an important step on our journey of long-term reform that will be First Nations led, as treaty and Indigenous rights holders, and based on our inherent authority to care for our children. I look forward to taking this historic step with our brothers and sisters from many nations.” Pratt says the National Assembly of Remote Communities was created by First Nations for First Nations. “This assembly will address the serious funding issues our northern and remote nations face daily and address those areas where investments are critically needed,” Pratt says. “Our First Nations children are our future, and we need to create a better path forward for them. This is the first step in that process.” Featured In Slider: noAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 01:44

  • NAN commemorates Orange Shirt Day
    by chrisk on September 30, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council will honour Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and all the children who didn’t return home during Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in Thunder Bay and Ottawa today. “Many people will come together today to acknowledge the truth behind the Indian Residential School experience. We will grieve for the youth who never made it home and honour the healing journeys of Survivors and their families as more unmarked gravesites are discovered across the country,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “We will do everything possible to support our communities and ensure that any approach developed for the identification and recovery of our children will be led by Survivors and their families. We are committed to supporting Survivors, their families, and all NAN First Nations throughout the difficult work to come.” The discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School ignited calls for action and full-scale investigations and searches of former Residential School sites. Within the NAN territory, there were nine Residential Schools attended by First Nations children. Deputy Grand Chief Achneepineskum will join with Survivors, their families, and members of the public for NAN’s Orange Shirt Day commemoration on the grounds of Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School in Thunder Bay at 11 a.m. NAN’s interactive community-building display will be on display while a Sacred Fire burns. This 16-panel display highlights Treaty relationships and dispels common myths and misconceptions about Indigenous Peoples. In Ottawa, Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse will attend National Day of Remembrance events on Parliament Hill and a Spirt Walk to Confederation Park. They will join with Residential School Survivors from across NAN territory, including members of the St. Anne’s Residential School Survivor’s Peetabeck Keway Keykaywin Association, who are organizing a teepee and pipe ceremony. Deputy Grand Chiefs Linklater and Narcisse will also visit the Beechwood National Memorial Center’s Sacred Space for the first public display of 57,000 tiles made by youth from across Canada to honour those who attended residential schools as part of the Project of Heart education program. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Friday, October 1, 2021 - 02:28

  • Liberals re-elected as minority government
    by chrisk on September 21, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party were re-elected to form another minority government on September 20. "Thank you, Canada — for casting your vote, for putting your trust in the Liberal team, for choosing a brighter future. We're going to finish the fight against COVID. And we're going to move Canada forward. For everyone," the re-elected Prime Minister twitted out early Tuesday morning. This will be Trudeau's third term as Prime Minister of Canada. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 22:25

  • Derek Fox elected as NAN Grand Chief
    by chrisk on August 11, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Derek Fox was elected with 30 votes by Chiefs and proxies on Aug. 11 at the virtual 39th Keewaywin Conference. Former Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh also ran for Grand Chief during the election — he received 11 votes. Deputy Grand Chiefs Anna Betty Achneepineskum and Bobby Narcisse were elected with Achneepineskum receiving 26 votes and Narcisse receiving 25 votes on the first round of voting. Deputy Grand Chief Victor H. Linklater was elected with 24 votes in the second round of voting after he and former Fort Albany Chief Andrew Solomon both received 22 votes in the first of voting for the three Deputy Grand Chiefs. Solomon received 15 votes in the second round. Deer Lake’s Randall Crowe, Muskrat Dam’s Joseph Duncan, Moose Cree’s Lawrence Jefferies and Aroland’s Howard Meshake also ran for the three Deputy Grand Chief positions. The official election campaign ran from June 12-Aug. 9. The election is being livestreamed and information about the election is posted at: Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 00:19

  • Walk Of Sorrow continuing journey to Ottawa
    by chrisk on August 6, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Walk Of Sorrow arrived in Kirkland Lake with the support of Beaverhouse FN and Matachewan FN leadership. Pictured is Walk of Sorrow leader Patricia Ballantyne (far right), a First Nation Cree from Saskatchewan with Chief Wayne Wabie, Beaverhouse FN and his grandson Dawson Moore as they arrive in Kirkland Lake. (Photo by Xavier Kataquapit). The Walk of Sorrow participants arrived in Kirkland Lake, Ontario on Wednesday August 4 to create awareness of the residential school era and to acknowledge the support of local First Nations. The walk was led by Patricia Ballantyne, a First Nation Cree from the Deshchambault Lake community of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. This June she felt a need to do something in light of the discovery of multiple unmarked grave sites near former residential schools across the country. As a residential school survivor herself, she wanted others to learn more about the terrible history of government sanctioned residential schools that affected generations of people and led to the deaths of thousands of Indigenous children. “I wanted to do something because of all the pain and emotion that I felt and from everyone around me. We need to talk about this history so that everyone, both Native and non-Native, can understand what happened behind closed doors. Then we can start healing as a nation,” said Ballantyne. She started her walk with her niece Sasha Michel from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and supporters have been joining on the way. They have have stopped in many Indigenous communities, cities and towns on the walk where they have been warmly greeted and supported. The group has the goal of arriving in Ottawa and the hope of meeting with government officials to address the residential school era and current issues dealing Indigenous child and family services. “This is a spiritual healing journey for us. It is not a protest of any kind. We just want to be heard. We want everyone to know what the residential school era was about and what it has done to our people, our culture, our languages and our communities. It is also our hope that at the end of our journey, we can start making changes to government programs and policies that continue to affect our families and our children in negative ways,” explained Ballantyne. On the 63rd day of their cross country walk, Ballantyne was grateful to Chief Wayne Wabie of Beaverhouse First Nation for inviting the group to visit the Town of Kirkland Lake. Chief Wabie, joined Ballantyne and her group as they walked through the downtown core to the Beaverhouse FN office. “We were honoured to have Patricia and her group in the community and we were happy to see everyone that came out to show their support. The recent awareness that has occurred across the country with residential schools is part of Canada’s history and it is knowledge that everyone should understand. What Patricia and her group is doing to raise awareness is spreading an important message that needs to be communicated to our government and to the public so that there is a true understanding of the history that Indigenous populations have identified for generations,” said Chief Wabie. During a small gathering at the Beaverhouse FN administration building, Ballantyne and her group were also greeted by Chief Alex (Sonny) Batisse of Matachewan FN. A special presentation of monetary support was also conducted by Councillor Stan Fox of Matachewan FN. Other gifts and donations were also presented. “We were honoured to visit with Patricia and her group and to see everyone gathered to acknowledge the sad history that all our communities live with. We wish her the best on her journey,” said Chief Batisse. Mayor Pat Kiely was also on hand to lend his support, to meet with Ballantyne and to acknowledge the history of the residential school era. “This is a significant time as it is bringing to light all the issues that have taken place in our northern communities. I think for Canada, it serves as a wake up call for everyone and a time for reconciliation. We always think of Canada as being a free country with all its freedoms that we have but there is a dark side of our history and we have to do our best to reconcile with our all neighbours,” commented Mayor Kiely. Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Xavier KataquapitDate Published: Saturday, August 7, 2021 - 01:44

  • 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