Monday, June 22, 2009

Third World Status Tested

My hat is off to the Winnipeg Free Press for doing such an excellent job covering the outbreak of H1N1 on reserves in Manitoba.

This is a wonderful editorial.

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Third World status tested
By: Don Marks

First Nations leaders have long claimed that living conditions in their communities are just like "Third World countries" but the rest of Canada has never seemed to quite agree.
While aboriginal people decry the amount of foreign aid that is paid to Third World countries in Africa and Asia, Canadians continue to support international relief agencies with donations of money and goods and services -- the kind that doesn't go to Indian reserves. The prevailing attitude is that tax dollars pay for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and many other kinds of support for aboriginal people.

Ironically, it took the outbreak of H1N1 flu to really begin associating the situation of First Nations with Third World status. Now, international organizations like Doctors Without Borders are getting involved.

It is all going to come to a head in about six weeks. That is when pharmaceutical companies expect to complete development of a vaccine against the H1N1 flu. Then they will begin manufacturing millions of doses to immunize the human population but that will take some time. Economic superpowers like the United States, England and Canada have already anted up millions of dollars to buy enormous supplies of the vaccine so that mass immunization of their populations can take place as soon as possible.

Third World countries are already complaining that they may not be able to afford the vaccine, that there won't be enough to go around and that they will have to wait until after supplies of vaccine have been distributed in rich countries before they can get access to the flu shots that will prevent their people from getting H1N1 flu.

What is going to happen to the Third World nations in Canada? We have already recognized that the H1N1 flu spreads more rapidly and seems to have more serious effects in aboriginal communities. This is because, like other Third World countries, many First Nations homes do not have running water, abundant supplies of fresh, clean drinking water are scarce and homes are seriously overcrowded with 12 to 14 people often living in one house, which is often covered in mould. Sanitation and sewage treatment are at a premium. Citizens already suffer from respiratory illnesses at a higher rate and the general conditions of poverty exacerbate the spread of flu.

There has been some scrambling to respond to the current crisis wherein H1N1 has struck disproportionately and more seriously in First Nations than elsewhere. For example, more doctors and nurses are going into First Nations. But Garden Hill had to spend $15,000, which was supposed to be used for graduation ceremonies, on surgical masks and other medical supplies.

First Nations are so far behind that three chiefs from the Island Lake area (population 10,000) travelled to Ottawa to lobby for a temporary field hospital while pointing out that Neepawa (pop. 3,800) is already served by a permanent hospital with 38 beds.

Garden Hill Chief David Harper also took pains to reinforce the Third World theme by pointing out that Canada spent $425 million to help rebuild foreign countries after the tsunami in 2004 but is ignoring the pleas from reserves for improved housing and infrastructure. Will our priorities change now that the flu crisis has turned Canada's First Nations into actual Third World countries?

The distribution of vaccines is really going to tell us a lot about whether or not our perception of First Nations really has changed. Like other developing countries, First Nations cannot afford the vaccines. They fear they may have to wait until the rich people are immunized before they get their flu shots, if there are any left.

Current estimates are that one out of every two Manitobans will acquire the H1N1 flu (a frighteningly high figure but one that could be skewed because it could be that nine out of 10 aboriginal citizens catch this flu while one out of five citizens from the rest of the population comes down with it)Common sense tells us that First Nations should be the No. 1 priority when it comes to distributing the H1N1 flu vaccine. But history tells us that First Nations have always been last in line for just about everything. Despite the fact we all know that First Nations require immunization much more greatly than any other population, will the Canadian government and medical authorities respond in kind?

Complicating all this is a debate taking place between traditional Indian medical healers who claim the vaccine will "make our people sick" and do more harm than good. First Nations leaders will have to resolve this debate quickly and then begin lobbying for mass immunization on a priority basis immediately if that is what they choose to do.

Don Marks is a freelance writer and editor of Grassroots News.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2009 A15

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Ants II

Fire ant infestation startles Nova Scotians

Residents mowing lawns in protective gear as populations spread; itch from insect's bite as bad as poison ivy.

Ant's are horrible deviants with a mission. I know my good friend WoS would have everyone believe that ants are special but - Yuuuuck. I hate even writing about the little things.

There is nothing romantic about the myth of Ant woman and Bear....Ant woman tricked bear and everyone knows it. Friggen Ant lady knew it was the fall and Bear had to prepare for winter hibernation. It was all Bear could do to stay awake and dance as long as she did. And besides - Ant lady (who btw has serious food issues) flaunted her anorexic skinny little waist and mocked Bear. It was dirty dance off from the start and I demand another go round!

Ants are creepy. And I hate them.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let me repeat


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Transcript of the Senate fiasco is now online

As a follow-up to the day of anti-reconciliation, here is the portion of the transcript where Senator Patrick Brazeau personally attacks National Chief Phil Fontaine. For the full transcript click here Aslo you can tune into CPACto watch the whole thing.

You know when I reread it, it's just like watching a traffic accident in slow motion. Brazeau has really lost it this time. What was he thinking?

Senator Brazeau: My second question deals with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Obviously, we had some good news announced yesterday with respect to the commission having different individuals named so they can start the important work that needs to be done. However, if we go back a little, we had a credible and capable individual step down, former Chief Justice LaForme, who was applauded by the Aboriginal community. He indicated that one of the reasons he stepped down was political interference by the Assembly of First Nations.Having said that, everyone knows that your former chief of staff was also the executive director who was fired by Justice LaForme. Some have suggested as well that perhaps the interference was by yourself in trying to have family and/or friends hired on to this commission. I ask you this question with all due respect. Can you comment on that, please?

Senator Carstairs: Colleagues, I have known Phil Fontaine in several incarnations, both as the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs...

Senator Brazeau: No answer?

Senator Carstairs: — and also as the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. I want my colleagues here in the Senate to know that his legacy will be that it was never about Phil. It was always about his people, and particularly the children and his desire to have Aboriginal children have appropriate housing, education, health care and children's services.Meegwech, Phil. I want to ask a question about children's services. The Wendy Report was clear. The amount of money given to Aboriginal people, whether Metis, or off-reserve or on-reserve persons, is far below the amount of money that is afforded to any other people when their children need to be in care. At the same time, there are greater numbers of children in care than in the general community. I would like to hear from Chief Daniels, Chief Fontaine and Mr. Chartier about what we need to do to ensure that your children receive the services they require.

Mr. Fontaine: I am not aware of the rules and procedures of this place and whether one has immunity from making certain accusations about individuals. What I have heard from Senator Brazeau is defamatory, and I need to protect myself.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Moore: Absolutely!

Mr. Fontaine: One would make such arguments when one does not understand the settlement agreement or has never read it. The fact is that there are six parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The Assembly of First Nations is one of those parties, in fact the only party that has a clear and explicit role in terms of an ongoing responsibility for the implementation of the settlement agreement. For example, on the recent appointment of the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and two other commissioners, the Honourable Minister Strahl consulted with me because that is one of the provisions in the settlement act. I consider myself one of the architects of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. When we were fighting for this issue, we were a lonely voice. I never heard Senator Brazeau raise his voice once — not a single time — to talk about the great importance that the fair and just resolution of this matter meant, not just for the survivors but the for entire country. It was only after we had completed the difficult and complicated negotiations that people started complaining. Until then, we met with silence.

I am quite disappointed that Senator Brazeau would make those kinds of allegations. They are completely uncalled for but very consistent with Senator Brazeau. I want you to understand that that is the settlement agreement, and I would urge you to read the provisions of it. Then, you will understand why the Assembly of First Nations had a strong interest in ensuring that the provisions of the settlement agreement are honoured and that everything proceeds in the best interests of not only the survivors but of the country. This is about Canada.

Do we have any regrets about the past? Of course. Will we be stuck in the past? No. We are moving forward with the government on the implementation of the settlement agreement. This very important undertaking will be before us for five years. It represents not only a tremendous opportunity for the country but also a tremendous challenge to get it done right.

The Chair: Witnesses and honourable senators, I am sorry to interrupt but the committee has been sitting for two hours. In conformity with the Order of the Senate of June 9, I am obliged to interrupt proceedings so that the committee can report to the Senate. Honourable senators will join me in thanking most sincerely the witnesses for being with us today.


Friday, June 12, 2009

He's back! Guallaume Carle. Yet another National Chief

Guillaume Carle is my favourite National Chief. Yes we have an AFN National Chief, and two organizations called CAP, both with National Chiefs, so there are 3 to choose from.(Perhaps this explains in part why Indian politics baffles other Canadians, eh?) In case you didn't know about Guillaume here's some background.

In 2003, Guillaume was elected president of the Quebec wing of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP, Patrick Brazeau's former organization). A few years later, Guillaume and Patrick had a falling out. (BTW- interesting fact, they both claim to be former models - although they are rather short. They also look alike, although Guillaume is older. Guillaume is top right, Patrick is immediately right) Guillaume lost his election in 2006 or, in his opinion, was illegally usurped. Out of spite, Guillaume set out to replace CAP with hisown national organization: the Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples. (To avoid confusion we'll call it CAP2)

Guillaume want to replace CAP1 because he believed it was politically and fiscally irresponsible. He also believed someone was trying to kill him for exposing this. In response, Brazeau accused Guillaume of being a white guy. In 2007, Guillaume and his fledgling organization held a few fairly well-attended protests. He led an armed roadblock of a highway near Barrier Lake in northern Quebec, and protested outside Parliament about housing (targeting the Waskahagen Corporation), and outside Indian Affairs about a long list of issues. He eventually got arrested, as protesters sometimes do, and could not participate in further acts of civil disobedience.
In June 2007, he went into Kahnawake to try and recruit members to CAP2, but was chased out by a small group of Mohawk women and banned from returning.

Everything he got really quiet.
I wondered what happened to him.
Then one day there was an ad in the Ottawa Sun advertising an Elvis impersonator for hire for home and office parties for a small fee. It didn't say that it was Guillaume. There was only a stage name. But everyone I know who saw it swore it was him.
The ad dissapeared.
Months went by.
I checked out Guillaume's website. Googled his name. No new news. I thought he was gone forever.

But today my search was rewarded with this press release:

The Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples Tells the Real Story
RIVIERE BLEUE, QC, June 11 2009 /CNW Telbec/ - During the last days, the
Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) has been officially informed that
false information coming from an incredible disturbed imagination has been
communicated regarding the National Grand Chief Guillaume Carle. This
information is communicated to create confusion regarding the identity and
actions of the National Grand Chief Guillaume Carle.
It is important to inform all readers that the Internet Site used to
carry the false messages regarding National Grand Chief Carle, called the
"Nation Autochtone du Qu├ębec", is the property of Jean Jolicoeur which is a
director of the Waskahagen Corporation. This Corporation is already in front
of the tribunal facing a multi hundreds of thousands of dollars law suit for
having caused damages to the National Grand Chief Carle's reputation. All the
negative information contained in this Internet Site is communicated to try to
tarnish and discredit his reputation.
Additionally, we would like to inform all readers that Grand Chief Carle
has never been expelled or escorted out of OKA by anybody. The story
concerning his visit in OKA contained on the Internet Site mentioned above is
completely false and should not be taken seriously.
It is very important to mention that a few years ago, Guillaume Carle,
National Grand Chief received two valuable distinctions from European
instances. In 2007, he was the recipient of the "Civic Star" for his exemplary
conduct in the defense of indigenous rights and improving the life of
individuals regardless of their age, nationality, color and social state.
Thereafter, in late 2007, "La Ligue Universelle du Bien Public", an
organization attached to the United Nations and founded in 1468, presented to
Grand Chief Carle its most prestigious awards "The Golden Medal" for his
contribution to the Defense of Human Rights and finally to have sowed good in
his entourage.
Guillaume Carle, National Grand Chief is highly considered in the
Aboriginal community and in the international arena. In addition, he is also
recognized by the Aboriginal Community as a National Spiritual Elder, Sacred
Pipe Carrier and Bearer of the Sacred Eagle Feather.

This is who this man really is. (CAP)

For further information: Monique Thibault, Communications, (418)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Betcha Phil Fontaine would love 5 minutes alone in a dark alley with Patrick Brazeau

Another non-reconciliation moment. When Aboriginal Leaders appeared before the Senate today, Senator Patrick Brazeau (aka Brazman aka dork) launched and attack on National Chief Phil Fontaine. He railed on him for opposing a Conservative Bill (two years ago) and then attacked the AFN CEO for good measure. You know I blogged a question about what would reconciliation look like - but I never imagined this. Brazeau's ill-timed and shameful rant was met with boos from other Senators.


Reconciliation interrupted.

Apparently Mohawk Grand Chief Tim Thompson crashed what was supposed to be a schmoozing Day of Reconciliation. While Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine exchanged warm words, the Grand Chief hopped the stage to make a 20 minute long unscheduled speech and blasted the government in front of the audience of hundreds and media. (story)I am really hoping someone posts this on YOUTUBE.

Thompson had been working on the border-crossing issue - Mohawks who have a border crossing in the middle of their territory at Akwesasne don't want the guards to be armed. They would be equally happy if the checkpoint was moved outside their community as a solution. I don't know if the media really ever explained this but if you've been to Akwesasne and seen the area, it seems like an easy fix.


H1N1&First Nations no doctor, no nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer to arrive shortly

Three communities are now impacted: Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point, and South Indian Lake. A fourth First Nation, Grassy Narrows has seen a spike in flu, but H1N1 has not been confirmed. So durng this health emergency CP discovered that Health Canada may actually shut down nursing stations serving some remote Manitoba communities. Meanwhile health officials say it may take more than a week to get a doctor to Garden Hill, where the community still has not received masks, gloves or antivirals, but fortunately health officials have plans to send hand sanitizer. (I am not joking. story) The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus a pandemic (level 6) and expressed concern about the vulnerability of First Nations. It is also uncertain if there could be a second more virulent wave of H1N1in the fall. While WHO expressed concern, Canada's Minister of Health played down the disaster that is unfolding. (story) This exchange in the House of Commons yesterday.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the spread of H1N1 influenza in Manitoba's aboriginal communities has caused great concern to the World Health Organization. It is considering calling the outbreak a full-blown pandemic. The province of Manitoba offered the federal government help 13 times since May 4 to plan for a possible pandemic in aboriginal communities. Manitoba understands the issue; the World Health Organization understands the issue; only the Conservatives do not understand the issue. Why has there been such a delay in response?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have been in regular contact with my colleague, Minister Oswald, from Manitoba in regard to H1N1. In fact, we have been planning for this pandemic since 2006. Our government invested $1 billion to increase our preparedness to respond to public health threats such as a pandemic, which includes first nations communities. I will continue to work with the Public Health Agency, Indian and Northern Affairs, and aboriginal organizations to ensure a co-ordinated approach. As well, Health Canada has provided additional nurses to the community and--

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, mothers have lost their babies, and children have received inadequate care. The federal government was not prepared for this outbreak in aboriginal communities. Conditions in these communities continue to deteriorate. Homes are overcrowded. Communities do not have running water. The virus continues to spread. Experts warn that the worst may be yet to come. What concrete plan does the government have to prepare all aboriginal communities for a possible pandemic?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, since April of this year we have been acting on our pandemic plan, which includes first nations communities. We have remained vigilant on this issue. We are in regular contact with the WHO, my counterparts in the international community, as we deal with this situation. I will continue to work with my colleague in Manitoba as we deal with this situation, as well as the aboriginal leaders of those communities.

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the World Health Organization is about to announce H1N1 as a full-blown pandemic, and it has singled out its impact on Canada's aboriginal people. Everyone remembers what happened when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. This is Canada's New Orleans. Why is there a disproportionate impact on first nations? It is because of a lack of resources, a lack of planning, and fundamentally the third world living conditions that aboriginal people face. When will the government call an emergency summit with aboriginal leaders, provinces and territories to put together a response?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as an aboriginal person, I find that line of questioning insulting.
H1N1 is not an illness that applies only to aboriginal people. It does not see race. It does not see class. It does not see boundaries. We need to respond accordingly, and we have. We have a pandemic plan. We are implementing it.

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister to come and visit St. Theresa Point and talk to the people who are currently dealing with this crisis. The government has failed to deal decisively with this surge in flu cases. Chief McDougall of St. Theresa Point has called for a field hospital to deal with the situation that is so bad. If we can do this in war zones, why can we not do it on the front lines of a coming pandemic? When is the federal government going to deal with the fundamental root cause of this, which is the third-world living conditions that first nations in Canada face? When will the government wake up to the severity of what is happening?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the pandemic plan that was established for this country in 2006 applies to every single Canadian. We are implementing that plan in partnership with the health care service providers of provinces and territories.I will continue to work with my colleagues in Manitoba as we deal with the situation, and we will continue to monitor and remain vigilant as we deal with the situation in Manitoba.

Other posts on this topic:
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How shall we reconcile? Anniversary of residential school Apology

So in Ottawa the AFN will shake hands with church and government leaders to celebrate a National Day of Reconciliation on the anniversary of the June 11th Apology to residential school survivors. A big show, with not much progress to report in the First Nations government relationship. To me, much more significant is the grassroots type people - union folk, people of faith, students, moms, dads, kids, First Nations and non-native who are going to show up and connect because they truly want a better relationship. What does that new reconciled relationship look like to you? What would have to happen to show that First Nations and Canadians have reconciled?


Saturday, June 6, 2009

St. Theresa First Nation -If it isn't systematic racism, what is it?

The state of health conditions on reserves should have identified First Nations as high-risk for pandemic alarm and put these communities at the top of the list for pandemic planning. Clearly this did not happen. Why? If is isn't systematic racism, what is it? This issue is larger than the current H1N1 virus, which is fortunately mild. We've learned that a future, more virulent pandemic will devastate First Nations communities if the system does not improve. The H1N1 also shows why disease and viral infections cause needless deaths in First Nation communities every year.

So let's consider what we already know about the epidemiology of H1N1 at St. Theresa's.

2005-Canada's Public Health Agency warned that First Nations would be at risk in event of a pandemic unless inter-jurisdictional protocols were developed along with plans for delivering antivirals.
-2009, May 01-31-1356 people st the St. Theresa First Nation(total pop 3,200) visit the nursing station. That's more than 1/3 of the community. 567 of these reported respiratory illness. The nursing station reported the spike to Health Canada and provincial/regional health authorities.
May 4-Provincial health officials offer to provide anti-viral medication to St. Theresa's. Federal health officials, who have jurisdiction over the reserve, refuse (story)
May 4-30-The province repeats it's offer to bring anti-virals to St. Theresa 13 times. Each time Health Canada refuses.
-mid-May St. Theresa's school is closed to control the spread of the virus. Federal provincial health authorities are notified as well as the federal department of Indian Affairs. While this should have been a red flag, there has still been no testing for H1N1 at this point and federal officials continue to refuse offers of help from the province.
May 26-27 Because there has been no testing for H1N1, no warning is issued to avoid large gatherings. A Manitoba General Chief's Assembly is held at St. Theresa Point.
May 26-June 1- Health officials fly two additional nurses and two doctors to St. Theresa Point
May 26-June 1 - 7 people including 2 pregnant women are medivaced to Winnipeg with suspected H1N1
May 29-June 6 -Testing for H1N1 begins
June 1-5-The spike in continues, 96 cases of respiratory illness are reported to the nursing station in 5 days.
June 2- Media first picks up the story that 7 people including 2 pregnant women have been medivaced to Winnipeg from St. Theresa
June 3 - The federal government finally accepts the province's offer to help, anti-virals and masks are sent to the community.
June 3 - One of the pregnant women miscarries, the other delivers by emergency C-setcion. The two women and infant are in critical condition.
June 3 - Two cases of H1N1 are confirmed at St. Theresa Point First Nation, a third case is confirmed at nearby South Indian Lake.
June 3- The total number of hospitalized patients from St.Theresa's doubles to 20, hundreds more in the community complain of respiratory illness
June 4- St. Theresa Chief David McDougall holds a press conference with two other chiefs from a neighbouring reserve. He complains of the initial slow action, poor communications and the government's refusal to build a hospital to serve remote First Nations communities. They also state that a lack of running water in some communities and over-crowded housing (12 persons per home) make it difficult to comply to health and safety recommendations such as avoiding gatherings and hand washing.
June 5 - Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald goes public with allegations that federal officials originally refused help from he province. She adds that federal officials have refused to participate on press conference to share information with the public.
June 5th - Federal officials agree to participate in future press conferences. They send an epidemiologist to the community to investigate how the virus spread.

If anything you've read here makes you concerned, please send and email to:
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq at:
Or Provincial Health Minister Theresa Oswald at:
And please CC Don Kelly at the Assembly of First Nations at:
As well as the Alexandra Paul at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs at:

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Friday, June 5, 2009

Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba

Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba

By Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free PressJune 4, 2009
The Manitoba government had offered Ottawa help with pandemic planning on First Nations 13 times since May 4 but was turned down every time until Wednesday — the day it was revealed that 12 residents of a remote northern reserve had been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald made the revelation Thursday as she expressed frustration at the federal government's response to the H1N1 flu outbreak when it comes to First Nations like St. Theresa Point, saying the province has been prevented from doing more because it doesn't have jurisdiction.

On Thursday, Ottawa asked for additional help with supplies and the province sent masks and antiviral medication to St. Theresa Point, about 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Oswald said the province had offered to provide antiviral medications for reserves repeatedly in the last month.

"It's the federal government's job to ask us if they need some (antivirals), and that's, of course, part of what we've been asking them 13 times," she said.

She said the province's stockpile includes enough of the medication for First Nations.

Meanwhile, St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall pleaded for understanding and tolerance for his swine-flu afflicted community on Thursday, saying that residents have been met with fear and paranoia.

So far just two confirmed cases of swine flu from remote, fly-in community located 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

However, there are 21 people from the reserve in hospital in Winnipeg and hundreds more in the community itself have registered with the nursing station as suffering from respiratory symptoms.

"Those are all pending confirmation if they are in fact infected by this (swine flu) virus," the chief said at a news conference.

He said members of his community were recently asked to leave at least one hotel over fears they could be sick.

"Just to be in the same room with me is not a death sentence for anybody," McDougall said, adding later: "As far as I'm concerned, there's no panic right now."

McDougall stressed there have been more confirmed cases in Winnipeg than in St. Theresa Point, a community of 3,200 people

McDougall said two of his own nieces are in critical condition at St. Boniface hospital in Winnipeg.

"There have been some frightening moments throughout the course of their treatment," he said.

He has said his community lacks the infrastructure to deal with a full-scale outbreak, and that a potential pandemic could spread quickly, since residents live in overcrowded homes.

Manitoba's health minister said Wednesday that province was asked to help find housing for family members coming to Winnipeg with sick loved ones because they were having difficulty finding hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, at least 100 students at a Regina elementary school are likely infected with the swine flu virus, said a top physician with the local health region.

One student from Massey School tested positive for the virus Thursday, but 150 students are out sick and most of those are expected to have the illness, according to Dr. Maurice Hennink, deputy medical health officer for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"It's circulating in our community," he said. "We expect some more tests to come back positive."

Hennink said many of those infected might not take the test, meaning the 153 confirmed cases in the province do not provide a full picture.

The Manitoba government, federal health officials and First Nations leaders have met weekly since the swine flu outbreak began a month ago, to work on pandemic planning on First Nations.

In 2005, the Public Health Agency of Canada's report on pandemic planning outlined a number of outstanding issues related to preparing for an outbreak on reserves, including a lack of formal agreements dividing responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments for responding to health emergencies and the lack of pandemic plans on First Nations. The report also said there needed to be a clear protocol for ensuring the provinces' antiviral stockpiles were accounting for First Nations, and how First Nations could access the drugs when they were needed.

A spokeswoman for Health Canada said the department and Manitoba are close to an agreement on how to deal with pandemics on reserves. However, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq did not respond to the concern Oswald raised.

© Copyright (c) Winnipeg Free Press

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Canada's next top National Chief

The race is on. Nominations have opened for the leadership of the AFN, and today incumbent Phil Fontaine announced, as expected, that he will not run again. So who will take the top position? Let's meet the candidates.

The says Sean Atleo, currently the Regional Chief of BC is most likely to win, and that's probably right. An excellent speaker and a hard worker, Alteo is probably best known in Indian Country for quelling the embarrasing public squabbling that once plagued BC's two First Nations political organizations the First Nations summit and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. What is little known about Sean Atleo is that he is only 5'2" making him the shortest candidate.

From the most likely to the least likely - Terrance Nelson, chief of Roseau River First Nation in Manitoba. Terry Nelson is sort of like older lazy version of Shawn Brant . (A comparison in the non-native world would be an old hippie.) Terry thinks he's a member of AIM and is known for pitching radical civil disobedience schemes that he rarely follows through on. When it comes to controlling natural resources he is asovereignist who believes Indians should harvest and export to other countries but when it comes to getting re-elected he doesn't mind upholding the Indian Act. Terry is bat-shit crazy and will be the most exciting candidate to watch if he lets loose. Let's hope he does.

Then we have two middle candidates, and no one is sure how they will fare. An upset to the crowning of Atleo is possible.

Perry Bellegarde is a former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (FSIN)elected 1998 at the tender age of 35, until 2003 when a scandal, that he was not directly involved in, broke over the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. He's been away from politics for some time. Perry thinks he's good-looking, is very serious and is the only Indian I ever met whose not funny.

Grand Chief John Beaucage is from Ontario, leads the led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation, and has some of the most progressive ideas, none of which are going to help him win votes.(really in Indian politics, there usually isn't much variation on policies - eliminated poverty/ec dev and education, treaty rights, self-government, health care, the environment, with cultural rights usually present but not as politicized)For example, his first press release as a candidate announced that he'd support universal suffrage (one Indian, one vote) for National Chief. Currently only chiefs get to vote, and most of them would like to keep it that way. But if press releases win votes, Beaucage may have an edge. In a single month he's issued press releases on: education, tobacco, border-crossing kelowna citizenship and more.

It's not certain if the candidates will appear in an all-candidates debate on APTN this year. In past years candidates have failed to commit to a televised debate. However 3 of the 4 candidates have agreed to hold a all-candidates forum in Ottawa at the Odawa Friendship centre in two weeks.
Elections for national chief are scheduled for July 22 in Calgary.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another update H1N1

At the press conference yesterday Manitoba confirmed 27 new cases of H1N1.
Few details were provided regarding the areas of the province where the new cases were reported, other than that two of the three new cases are from two First Nations communities in the Burntwood health region.

I have been told by folks at Island Lake First Nation that they are the second First Nation commuity mentioned.

This tidbit from the Winnipeg Free Press regarding a worried neighbouring community where there's been no outbreak yet.
While public health officials have been bracing for additional cases since swine flu incited a worldwide pandemic scare in April, the latest cases have some communities worried they aren't ready for an outbreak.

Red Sucker Lake Chief Larry Knott is watching the outbreak of respiratory illness in St. Theresa Point closely, and said he worries his community won't be able to heed much of the preventative advice from public health practitioners. Handwashing is key to preventing the spread of influenza, but Knott said many residents don't have running water and must get fresh water in a pail from the lake. First Nations leaders have warned crowded homes and impoverished conditions leave reserves inadequately equipped to deal with a widespread disease outbreak. Red Sucker Lake is about 100 kilometres north of St. Theresa Point. "If it hits us, I'm pretty sure it'll hit us pretty hard," Knott said.

Here's a good update from the Tyee.

Manitoba Health won't say if First Nations reserve has swine flu
By Crawford Kilian June 3, 2009 08:40 pm

A remote First Nations reserve in northeast Manitoba may be at the centre of the next pandemic. But Manitoba Health won't tell them what's going on. On Tuesday, the Ottawa Citizen reported in passing that the St. Theresa Point First Nation had sent seven persons by medevac to Winnipeg, 500 kilometres to the southwest. Two of the patients were pregnant, and one lost her child soon after. By Wednesday night, 20 reserve residents had been flown out, and Manitoba Health finally released a statement: Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is reporting 27 new confirmed H1N1 cases in people between the ages of one month and 56 years, bringing the provincial total to 38 cases in six regions across Manitoba.

Of the new cases, three patients have been hospitalized. Thirteen of the new confirmed cases were in males and 14 in females. The three new confirmed cases in the Burntwood region are from two First Nation communities. Burntwood covers St. Theresa Point, but MH did not identify the First Nations communities with H1N1 cases.
When The Tyee contacted Chief David McDougall on Wednesday afternoon, he said he had had no official news about the cases, only rumours. When The Tyee called again on Wednesday night, Chief McDougall said he had heard -- not from Manitoba Health -- that the two Burntwood cases were indeed from St. Theresa Point. "This contravenes how First Nations people should be treated," he said.

He added that the mother of a 10-month-old child with suspected H1N1 had not been told clearly what her daughter's problem was. "She's not familiar with medical terminology," Chief McDougall said. By 10 p.m. Manitoba time, Chief McDougall said, he still didn't have official confirmation about the two cases, not to mention the other 18 who have been flown out to Winnipeg. He said he plans to hold a press conference in the morning.

Meanwhile, CBC reported on Wednesday that two paramedics had been flown into St. Theresa Point without being alerted to the possible illness of the patients they were to look after. After returning to Winnipeg, the paramedics went on to look after other patients. CBC said the paramedics were now off duty and awaiting test results.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation

This is a follow up to my post:

Manitoba Health authorities are expected to make an announcement at 3pm CT to speak to some preliminary lab results that and confirm if the H1N1 virus is present in any of the cases in St. Theresa Point thus far. I suspect they will confirm at least one case, since they would not yet have enough lab results back to know H1N1 is not present. It's worth mentioning that there was a Manitoba General Chief's Assembly held at St. Theresa Point May 26th and May 27th. I have not heard any reporting on whether or not people from that conference have become ill or if the virus has spread to other First Nations communities.

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way


Follow up: potential H1N1 outbreak at St. Theresa First Nation

This is a follow up to my post:
To date since H1N1 broke out in Canada, 11 Manitobans have tested positive for swine flu. By comparason, one week 12 suspected cases of H1N1 broke out in St. Theresa First Nation, a remote community with a population of 3,200. Two patients were pregnant, one lost her baby, the other (according to CBC Newsworld) had a emergency C-section both she and her son are in critical condition. The remainder of the cases are children, 5 of 10 are in critial condition.

From the Winnipeg Free Press today: Manitoba Grand Chief Ron Evans said St. Theresa Point is an example of what can happen when governments fail to address the poor social conditions that can help disease spread. Evans said the lack of health-care professionals and overcrowded homes make many communities prone to devastating effects of outbreaks, noting pandemic planning in many areas is still a work in progress.

"It gives you a good sense of how terrible and tragic will be when a community has to deal with an epidemic," Evans said. "No one expected H1N1 to surface at this time so the communities are caught off guard."

Full story

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Obituary Sam George: Relentless in his pursuit of answers

I'm shocked and saddened to learn that Sam George, Dudley's brother has died. I can't speak or think right I'll just post the story and link to the G&M. He was only 56 .....

Anthony Reinhart

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update, Wednesday, Jun. 03, 2009 09:29AM EDT

Had he been a bitter man, Sam George might have found a way to rationalize a hatred for Chief Superintendent Chris Coles of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Chief Supt. Coles, after all, had helped oversee the OPP crackdown on an aboriginal protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park, in which an officer shot and killed Mr. George's younger brother, Dudley.

For more than a decade after the Sept. 6, 1995, shooting, Sam George was indeed relentless in his pursuit of answers from the OPP and then-premier Mike Harris, who had made it known he wanted a swift end to the protest hours before the fatal shot was fired.

Mr. George died early this morning. His lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, says he was at his home on the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, surrounded by his wife Veronica and other loved ones.

He was 56.

Throughout his ordeal, Mr. George was unwavering in the grace he extended to his adversaries, and in his belief they would make right what they'd done wrong.

And so, as Chief Supt. Coles neared the end of his testimony at the Ipperwash inquiry in 2005, he offered unlikely praise for the man whose persistence had put him, Mr. Harris and a host of top officials on the hot seat.

“Many times I've sat across from Sam George and I've looked in his eyes,” the retired officer said at the community centre in Forest, Ont. “I have no brothers, but I believe sincerely in my heart that if I had a brother, Sam George is an example of a brother I would have liked.”

Chief Supt. Coles's statement, as much as any during the probe, rang true to Judge Sidney Linden, the inquiry's commissioner, who saw Mr. George in the audience regularly through two years of hearings.

“To me, that really summed it up; it really captured the essence of Sam,” Judge Linden said. “He really understood that everybody, whether they agreed with him or not, had to have their opportunity to speak and to testify.”

That the inquiry happened at all was a testament to Mr. George's staunch but dignified refusal to accept anything short of a full airing of what led to his brother's death.

Dudley George was among about 30 men, women and children from the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation who occupied the park, on the sandy shores of Lake Huron, on Sept. 4, 1995. They were reclaiming a sacred burial ground on the site, which their ancestors, under pressure, had ceded to local interests, who in turn sold it to the Ontario government in 1936.

Two days into the occupation, Mr. Harris, a rookie Progressive Conservative premier less than three months into his mandate, attended a private meeting with top ministers, advisers and OPP officers. Hours later, a heavily-armed OPP tactical squad marched on the protesters, and Dudley George was shot.

As rumours of political interference swirled in the wake of the shooting, Sam George sued Mr. Harris and other officials in hope that a civil proceeding would yield answers. The premier rebuffed calls for a public inquiry while the suit was before the courts, even though Mr. George offered to drop the suit in return for an inquiry.

It would take eight years and a change of government in 2003, when the Liberals replaced the Conservatives, for an inquiry to be called, and for Sam George to drop the suit. Until then, the civil case ground on, but it did not grind Sam George down.

“I remember during the litigation years when he was cross-examined for a week by a roomful of hostile lawyers,” said Mr. Klippenstein, lawyer for the George family. “And when we finally closed our books a day or two before Christmas, all of us exhausted, Sam stood up and said to all these lawyers, ‘Thank you for working with me over these days, and I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas,' in a quiet, respectful voice,” Mr. Klippenstein said. “I've never seen anything like it.”

John Beaucage, Grand Council Chief of Ontario's Anishinabek Nation, an umbrella group representing 42 Ontario First Nations, said Mr. George was offered a six-figure sum to settle the suit, but declined.

“He only wanted the truth,” Mr. Beaucage said, “and after everything was all said and done, the George family got no money out of it, but they did get the truth out of what happened in that park.”

The truth, laid out by Judge Linden in his Inquiry report of May, 2007, was that the OPP fired on unarmed protesters that night, and that Mr. Harris had said “I want the fucking Indians out of the park” during the meeting hours earlier, though the commissioner stopped short of a finding of political interference.

The Ontario government has since moved on several of Judge Linden's recommendations, including an agreement signed last week to return the park to the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, which plans to reopen it for public use.

Throughout the $25-million inquiry, which heard from 139 witnesses, Mr. George “was so fair that it was unreal,” Judge Linden said.

Less fair and all too real were the circumstances into which Mr. George was born on July 1, 1952 – a date then celebrated by Canadians, and quietly lamented by many aboriginals, as Dominion Day.

He was the fifth child among 10 siblings whose parents, Reginald George and Genevieve Rogers, had met in the Canadian military during the Second World War, though they never saw action overseas.

In 1942, that same military had forced 16 families, including Reginald George and his parents, off the Stoney Point Indian Reserve and turned the site into an army training camp. Ottawa's failure to return the land after the war, as promised, fuelled much of the frustration behind the Ipperwash park occupation.

“I learned about the lands with my dad,” Mr. George told The Globe in 2007, but the family was more resigned than militant. With 10 children, life was challenging enough, not to mention two house fires and a string of unrelated tragedies that had taken three of Sam's siblings by 1980. Dudley's death was the fourth.

“We were taught and learned how to deal with a lot of things early in life, how to survive early in life,” Mr. George said. “We still go through and we're still learning.”

After he left school in Grade 10, Mr. George worked on road construction and became a carpenter. Later, he obtained his Grade 12 and retrained as a youth counsellor for the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation – the combined reserve created after the federal takeover of Stoney Point – where he raised a family of his own.

He coached hockey, including a team of non-aboriginal kids, “just because he wanted to help out,” Mr. Klippenstein said. “And he never talked about it and it was not a big deal for him.”

A spiritual man, Mr. George led a native drumming group and kept a sweat lodge in his yard, which many friends, aboriginal and not, visited in the post-Ipperwash years.

He earned numerous awards, from the Order of Ontario, to the Ontario Federation of Labour's Human Rights Award, to a spot on the Sarnia Mayor's Honour List, though “he never once sought personal fame, glory or money,” Mr. Beaucage said.

Mr. George enjoyed tinkering with his pristine 1970 Chevrolet Malibu, but he had to give up driving last fall when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same disease that killed his father.

Still, he maintained his “wicked quick wit” and even joked about his illness, Mr. Klippenstein said.

It was an illness Mr. George did not foresee two years ago as he sat in his living room, the same room where he last saw Dudley alive, and talked about his brother's legacy.

“I think he's in a good place now,” Sam George said, “but I still think he's watching over us very, very closely to make sure that things get done that he started to do.”

Maynard Donald (Sam) George was born in Sarnia, Ont., on July 1, 1952, and died at his home on the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation on June 3, 2009. He was 56. He is survived by his wife, Veronica, and by two brothers and three sisters, three children and their spouses, and six grandchildren. A traditional native get-together and pre-burial ceremony will be held at his home on Saturday.


Ottawa looks to redefine rules for Indian status

OK, so now the story is a little clearer for me. I had heard that the Federal Government would not appeal the decision and now know why. I just read Bill Curry’s story at the G&M Ottawa looks to redefine rules for Indian status and he explained it for me in this paragraph.

"Mr. Gilbert said the original lower-court decision could have added 100,000 people to the ranks of status Indians because it would have granted status to anyone who could show they were excluded because of the rules in place from 1876 to 1985. However, the B.C. Court of appeal found that the problem with the law was far more narrow and its ruling would likely extend status to only a few thousand people who were discriminated from 1985 onward as a result of the rewrite of the law."

I did say a little clearer – not fully. Does this mean that under the lower court ruling those First Nations that were excluded because they didn’t show up to sign a Treaty and so entire communities were left off could now be re-instated, or maybe an individual was enfranchised because he went to university, or for any other reasons? And does the second B.C. court ruling restrict the change to just those decedents of First Nation women who married non-First Nation men after 1985?

Is this what Sharon must weigh?


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hello my name is Patrick Brazeau....

and I'm a liar.

I was cruising through First Perspective when I came across a story by Sue Bailey; Liberals push for investigation into missing native women. The story reports on how the Conservative government is “deflecting calls for a public investigation into more than 500 cases of missing or murdered native women.”

Right above that is the story ”written” by the Conservative Senator, Brazeau; A systems-check on democracy in which Brazeau lies and says he’s going to tour communities with the Assembly of First Nations and speak with ” First Nations citizens living on Indian Act reserves.” Because of, as he writes ”... communities that continued to be governed by on outdated, colonial and paternal statute from the 19th century there is much to be done to ensure that governance structures are accountable, transparent and democratic.”...

Well here is the funny part. I went to the way back machine because I could have sworn that he just did this while at the Congress of Aboriginal People. And he did – in 2007 with a final report due in 2008. Which means he will have spent several hundred thousand dollars to travel (in hard times) to the same places, to ask the same people the same question again, one year later. I know he is shallow and stupid but really this is too much.

I think his time, money, and efforts would be better spent backing his pledge to Native Women's Association of Canada and the sisters in Spirit Campaign back in 2004 on Parliament Hill.

.....I found a speech he gave to the Sisters in Spirit Campaign from 2004. That, I posted here for all to read.

Speaking Notes for NWAC Launch: Sisters in Spirit
Patrick Brazeau, Vice-Chief
March 22, 2004 - Parliament Hill
Ottawa, Ontario

Kwey, Bonjour and Hello,

My name is Patrick Brazeau and I am the Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which is a National Organization that advocates for the rights and interests of off-reserve Aboriginal people throughout Canada.

I would like to recognize my people, the Algonquin and the territory on which we stand.

I would also like to acknowledge the Elders in attendance and offer condolences to the friends and family, who have been affected by the unfortunate issues that unite us here today.

Since the last 15 years or so, approximately 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing, of which, many have been murdered.

These incidents, which are growing by the day demands our immediate attention. A recent example stems from Winnipeg. A 16 year old female by the name of Sunshine Woods has gone missing since February 20, 2004.

It angers me that these types of incidents receives modest attention from the Canadian media and both Provincial and Federal Governments seem do very little in terms of investigations, prevention and support for the victims and their families.

We must not forget that the women we are speaking on behalf of here today are our mothers, our sisters and our daughters.

I am a proud husband and father to my three year-old daughter. My Native culture has taught me to respect women.

Traditionally, women played a central role in the family. They were responsible for domestic relationships and were viewed both as life-givers and caretakers of life.

Little has changed in my culture.

These women who have passed on or have gone missing were leaders, academics, some were addicts, some were prostitutes, but the end result is the same for all.

They were all victims of marginalization.

The on-going marginalization of Aboriginal women has made them one of the most vulnerable groups in Canadian society.

It necessary to acknowledge that these women were targeted victims by their attackers - not because of how these women lived, what they did or whom they knew.

These women were targeted because crimes against our Aboriginal mothers, sisters and daughters are trivialized -where individual blame is placed on the victim and the violence that these women experienced were dismissed as insignificant in mainstream society.

One might ask, why are Aboriginal women victims?

It is no great secret that dislocation into urban settings has contributed to high rates of unemployment, suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence and other social problems.

It has been very well documented that the residential school system has played a major role in the victimization of women. The development of parenting skills, important to Aboriginal women, was denied to them.

These effects have lasted for several generations. In addition to the physical and sexual abuse that Canadians are now hearing took place in those schools, emotional abuse was and is most prevalent and severe.

Discriminatory and unfair treatment to Aboriginal women throughout Canadian history has made them vulnerable targets.

How do we improve these situations?

The answer is not easily achievable because it seems that no one is listening.

The federal government has generally restricted its provision of services to Indians living on reserve. Once an Aboriginal person leaves the reserve, federal services are no longer available.
Once an Aboriginal person relocates to a city, they become under Provincial jurisdiction but the reality is that they end up falling in between the cracks because of the jurisdictional backlashing between the levels of government.

In order to properly address the issues and implement the needed social services that these women need, financial resources must be allocated directly into Aboriginal control in the urban, rural and remote areas, as the case may be. Without this actual transfer, the status quo will remain.

From an Aboriginal perspective and from personal experience, racial discrimination and misogyny (or hate for women) is unfortunately prevalent in this country and it must come to an end.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights visited Canada last Fall and his recent report notes, "the lack of any intellectual strategy is a serious handicap in Canada's undoubted efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia".

He further calls on the Government of Canada to add credibility, trust and recognition to its political commitment to combat racism, while recognizing that such evils persist, despite the efforts accomplished.

It is time for us to work together. It is time for our Aboriginal women to get their fair justice. The time for action is long overdue.

On behalf of the National Chief, Dwight Dorey and I, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples supports the initiative of the Native Women's Association of Canada and we will contribute in any way we can for the betterment of Aboriginal women.

It is time for jurisdictional barriers to fall between the different organizations to work together for the common purpose.
Let us be more than just Sisters in Spirit, let us act in solidarity with our sisters in research, public education, outreach, and change.

Let 500 missing and murdered women be more than just a statistic used to catch media attention. Let our solidarity appreciate these women, as valued members of our communities who were lost but definitely not forgotten because in the end, their absence is a loss for all Canadians.

Meegwetch, Merci and Thank you!

Liberals push for investigation into missing native women PDF Print E-mail
The Canadian Press May 13

By Sue Bailey

OTTAWA The Conservative government is deflecting calls for a public investigation into more than 500 cases of missing or murdered native women.

Liberal MP Anita Neville says her party will push until the government acts.

She says there would be national outrage if hundreds of women from another cultural group were targeted the same way.

A recent report found that 520 native girls and women _ most under the age of 30 _ have been killed or have vanished since 1970.

Two-thirds of them _ 348 women _ were murdered, and almost one-quarter are still missing.

The government cites $5 million spent on the Sisters in Spirit research campaign, and says it's working on a second phase.

Neville says more action is needed.

``Their plight has been ignored long enough _ it's time,'' she said Wednesday in the House of Commons.

The Liberals say they'll write to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson asking for action that goes beyond research.

``It's time to go beyond the record-keeping and find out why the police are not responding,'' Neville said.

``Why are these women missing? Are they women who come from poverty? What are their life circumstances that have put them in this position?''

Media also have a role to play to ensure no missing-person case is swept aside, said Liberal MP and aboriginal affairs critic Todd Russell.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, says native girls and women still don't get the same attention from police or the media when they vanish.

Time and again, families are told by officers that their daughter likely ran away or doesn't want to be found, she said.

Jacobs recently compared such brush-offs with the frenzy of police and media attention given similarly tragic but non-native cases.

``We're still dealing with racism, stereotypes, discrimination,'' Jacobs said.

The proportion of missing women has held steady at about 25 per cent in the last two years despite regular updates to the Sisters in Spirit database.

``This suggests a trend of ongoing disappearances: for every woman found alive and removed from the database (or found deceased and re-coded as a case of murder), the name of another missing woman or girl is added,'' Jacobs reported two weeks ago.

``This demonstrates the ongoing severity and urgency of the issue.''

About half the 520 cases occurred in the last nine years.

Researchers stress they can't accurately say whether there has been a surge over time because they don't have enough information on similar cases before 1970.

Details from earlier decades are often sketchy and record-keeping is spotty.

Most of the 520 cases are based in the West where aboriginal populations are highest: 137 in British Columbia, 85 in Alberta, 71 in Manitoba, 59 in Saskatchewan, 59 in Ontario and 17 in Quebec.

The rest are based in the Atlantic provinces and territories or are still being researched.


Please follow this story. Please write to your MP.

It is looking likely that the H1N1 virus has hit a First Nations community (see article below.) When the H1N1 flu originally hit in Canada, the cases were milder than the cases in Mexico. Many have speculated that this is because of the difference in health status.

Yet in Canada health status can vary. Many First Nations live in overcrowded housing, which facilitates the spread of disease. Poverty, food insecurity, the presence of mould in homes, the higher rates of diabetes, TB, cardiovascular illness etc all work to lower the immune systems of First Nations people and make them more vulnerable to disease. (health stats)

Add this to a lack of access to medical services - it is estimated that 1 in 5 First Nations people can't access a doctor or a nurse in their community - and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now a severe flu, likely the H1N1 has hit a First Nation. As you can see in this story, the First Nation only hatched together a pandemic plan after ths flu hit.
Why? Well, it's difficult for a First Nation to pull together a pandemic plan, not only because of the lack of health services and professionals, but because jurisdictional disputes between federal departments (Health Canada and INAC) and between federal and provincial/territorial governments as well. These disputes prevent First Nations from accessing health care at the best of times. (see this news story, or this one)

Often governments argue over who should provide the service and have refused to offer health services because each wants to stick the other with the bill. The scenario is known in Indian country as "Jordan's Principle" named after a child who had to live three years in a hospital because federal and provincial governments fought over who would pay for his medical supports if he went home. The eventually solved the dispute, but Jordan never got to go home. He became ill again and died in the hospital.

So I am asking that you please follow this story, and am asking also that you write your federal MP, plus your provincial representative and ask them to get moving on including First Nations in pandemic planning before a disaster (or I guess bigger disaster) hits. Also if you can tell them to adopt Jordan's Principle (they know what it is) and end discrimination against First Nations children in the health care system that would be good too.

Suspected H1N1 flu outbreak hits reserve
By: Jen Skerritt

A remote First Nations community has shut down its school over heightened concern a severe flu is spreading among area residents. St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief David McDougall said today an additional five children suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were flown to Winnipeg on Monday night.

Over the last week, seven people suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were medivaced to Winnipeg in the last week, including two pregnant women who were sent to St. Boniface Hospital’s intensive care unit. One woman lost her child as a result of the illness. Health officials have flown in at least two additional nurses and two doctors to deal with the emerging respiratory crisis in the remote community, located 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Lab tests haven’t confirmed the cause of the illness, but public health officials suspect the respiratory virus could be H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu. Residents have been told to avoid public gatherings and stay home if they're sick to stop the spread of the disease. "There was a spike in the number of cases brought to the nurses' station with flu-like symptoms," McDougall said. "It was a red flag."

St. Theresa Point community leaders held a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss how to pull together a pandemic plan. McDougall said the community lacks the infrastructure to deal with a full-scale outbreak and that a potential pandemic could spread quickly since residents live in overcrowded homes.

He said community leaders are trying to quell public fear and keep residents from panicking. "There's a respiratory problem and of course that's always a concern," McDougall said. "We're trying to figure out what the best response is."

McDougall said Health Canada and Manitoba Health are working with St. Theresa Point to investigate the spike in illnesses.

Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP


Patrick Brazeau has become the most unaccountable aboriginal leader in Canada today.

Patrick Brazeau claims he is standing up for the rights of elders, single moms (yes I note the irony) and children in a letter to National Post. In reality Patrick Brazeau is the most unaccountable aboriginal leader in Canada today. He is standing up for a Bill that has practically no support in Indian Country. At least when he led the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a small lobby group, he had to face criticism from those who elected him and worked with him. Now that he has an appointed position, he's accountable to no one. Or so he thinks. He's sure as hell going to be held accountable to First Nations his people here at Crazy Bitches R Us.

In blue, quotes from Patrick Brazeau's letter, (which I have also reprinted in full, if you scroll down below) in black my comments.

#1 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is denying the government the right to make systematic reform. No Patrick. The AFN is standing up for the right of legitimately elected FN governments to make reform. Women like me, have a right to tell our democratically elected chiefs how we want to be governed. I don't get a vote for the Minister of Indian Affairs. The Minister did at least deign to consult us, but then he completely ignored every word we said and decided to force this Bill on us instead. By supporting this breach of process Patrick, you are as unaccountable as the Minister is. Shame on you.

#2 "the AFN receives substantial funding from the government. It is unfortunate that it chooses to use these investments to fund continued criticism of government efforts." The AFN has to take direction from the people, or we won't support them. That is why they exist. And yes, sometimes that means dishing out some well-deserved criticism. At least they don't spend their funding on kissing-ass for a senate seat.

#3 The government's apology for residential schools ...."may be considered by some as having provided First Nations leadership a right to veto the government's legislative endeavours." Wrong again Brazman. The fact that we live in a democracy (well not you, you're appointed not elected, but the rest of us) and not a totalitarian society gives us that right.

#4 The repeal of section 67 that gave "...same degree of human rights protection that all other Canadians enjoy through the Canadian Human Rights Act were met with resistance from the chiefs" A) FN already had human rights protections under the Constitution. This only opened the Human Rights Commission as an alternative venue to the courts.(But I'm sure I don't have to explain the Human Rights Commission to you Patrick.)Finally the chiefs' didn't oppose it, they just wanted it amended to include an impact analysis, an assessment of the existing capacity to deal with complaints and a 2 year adjustment period.(Much like the provinces had when the concept was first introduced.)Once those amendments were made they supported the change.

#5 "when our government introduced the Federal Accountability Act....The AFN sought to exempt itself from the bill's measures" What the AFN did, in fact, was ask for an independent First Nations Auditor General and Ombudsman which would have created a two-way accountability. The conservatives weren't interested in two way accountability. Reading the recent Parliamentary Budget Office Report on First Nations Schools may provide a hint why.

#6 The so-called Kelowna Accord promised plenty of resources and was essentially a "get out of jail free" card ... I seem to remember CAP being very involved in Kelowna negotiations, in fact CAP lobbied parties to commit to Kelowna during the 2006 election (All the links showing CAP's previous stance were removed from the CAP website, but you can still get at it with google.) CAP began to oppose Kelowna only after the conservatives got elected, and CAP became their mouth piece. Patrick, do you really believe your own people are so foolish that we wouldn't notice that you have been reading conservative speaking notes instead of representing our interests? You should be listening to your people, not letting the government use you against us to advance an agenda that could hurt us. Again, shame on you.

#7 "Our government pays attention to are those of the families, the elders, the single mothers..." Actually they don't. I haven't heard any one in Indian Country - except you - support this Bill, Patrick. And just to be clear, it does not have the support of FN women.

Here is Patrick's full letter.

Aboriginals deserve better
Re: Tories Make Conservative Progress, John Ivison, May 28.

Mr. Ivison cuts to the heart of the matter when he suggests that in its opposition to progressive measures such as matrimonial property rights legislation, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is denying the government the right to make systematic reform in areas where measures for improvement are long overdue.

As the representative organization that speaks for the chiefs of the 633 First Nations reserves, the AFN receives substantial funding from the government. It is unfortunate that it chooses to use these investments to fund continued criticism of government efforts rather than to apply itself to act as a catalyst for change in its communities.

Mr. Ivison makes a very insightful observation when he suggests that our government's rendering of its sincere apology to the aboriginal community for the tragedy of Indian residential schools may be considered by some as having provided First Nations leadership a right to veto the government's legislative endeavours.

Sadly, an overtly negative posture by the AFN in the face of progressive change is a familiar occurrence. Legislative efforts last year to bring to First Nations the same degree of human rights protection that all other Canadians enjoy through the Canadian Human Rights Act were met with resistance from the chiefs.

Similarly, in 2006, when our government introduced the Federal Accountability Act, we sought to have First Nations subject to its provisions. This would have been another incremental step toward improving transparency at the community level. The AFN sought to exempt itself from the bill's measures. It mobilized opposition parties and the measures were removed from the bill.

Yet, such resistance seems to evaporate when money is discussed without encumbering conditions of accountability. The so-called Kelowna Accord promised plenty of resources and was essentially a "get out of jail free" card that lifted any need for regular periodic indications of measurable change-- to the obvious delight of the AFN.

When it comes to aboriginal affairs, the only special interests our government pays attention to are those of the families, the elders, the single mothers and the children who must face the myriad changes before them daily.

Incremental change is indeed occurring. Canada's aboriginal community deserves it, and we will stay the course for the sake of First Nations, Metis and Inuit families everywhere.

Senator Patrick Brazeau, Ottawa.

Now here is an article that speaks to our elected leaders.
Proposed legislation is flawed: critics

By Kerry Benjoe, The Leader-PostMay 28, 2009

The federal government is moving forward with the Family Homes On Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act despite opposition from First Nations groups and leaders.

The legislation, also known as Bill C-8, consists of federal rules governing matrimonial real property combined with a mechanism for First Nations to develop their own real property laws. Presently, those living on reserve are governed by the Indian Act and when a marriage breaks down provincial or territorial laws relating to matrimonial property rights do not apply on reserves.

On Monday an attempt to quash the bill failed.

"It will continue to be debated at second reading and once the motion for a second reading is adopted the bill will be referred to the standing committee on aboriginal affairs and northern development," said Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) spokeswoman Patricia Valladao.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Woman's Association of Canada (NWAC), said her organization believes Bill C-8 is flawed.

"It's a piece of legislation that has been unilaterally drafted by (INAC). It doesn't take into account a lot of things," said Jacobs. "They're touting that it's benefiting aboriginal women and children but it's not."

She believes the new legislation is lacking in many ways. Jacobs said before such a bill can be introduced other on-reserve issues need to be addressed such as housing, justice and violence.

She added that NWAC has always supported the need to introduce legislation for on-reserve matrimonial property rights.

"But we've always said aboriginal women's voices have to be included in the creation of that legislation," said Jacobs. "We thought that this was occurring in this process, however that didn't happen."

Perry Bellegarde, candidate for the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), agrees with AFN and NWAC in regards to Bill C-8. According to an AFN news release on the Bill C-8, the new legislation will do nothing to solve the problems associated with matrimonial real property.

"As First Nations people, as First Nations governments, we have to start occupying the field and exert our own laws and jurisdictions on our territories and communities and we have to start developing our own legislation," said Bellegarde. "We're concerned as First Nations people about First Nations women's issues and the plight of marital breakup and the plight of our youth and everyone else in our communities."

Bellegarde believes First Nations need to become more proactive because if they don't then the federal government will continue to make unilateral decisions that will affect all First Nations.

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post


One less un-employed Indian

Holy crap - the Harper government provides $7,644 to a First Nation community so a person with disabilities can be hired.... and this is a big announcement? It it me or is this a big friggen wooooo....

SOOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, June 1, 2009—The T’Sou-ke Nation will provide a band member with disabilities with work experience to develop valuable employment skills thanks in part to Government of Canada support. The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport) and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

“In today’s environment, it is more important than ever that all Canadians have the skills they need to participate and succeed in the job market,” said Minister of State Lunn. “By supporting projects like this one, our government is helping Canadians with disabilities maximize their potential and independence.”

The T’Sou-ke Nation will receive $7,644 under the Wage Subsidy component of the Opportunities Fund to hire a band member with disabilities to perform general maintenance and learn about the community’s innovative solar hot water program. It is expected that the skills and experience gained will lead to ongoing employment for this participant.

“We are very pleased to receive federal support for our community members to work on our T’Sou-ke Solar Project. This funding will allow us to help an individual with disabilities in our community gain skills and experience that will lead to future employment in the new fast-growing field of clean energy production,” said Chief Gordon Planes of the T’Sou-ke Nation.

The federal government is working with stakeholders to make sure that Canadians get the training, skills and opportunities they need to participate in the workforce and contribute to the quality of life in their communities.

The Opportunities Fund helps support an array of activities, such as increasing employability skills, providing work experience and preparing individuals for self‑employment. The Government of Canada is committed to breaking down barriers that prevent Canadians from reaching their full potential with a wide range of effective policies, programs and services tailored to people with disabilities.

The Fund is part of the Government of Canada’s strategy to create the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world. The Government underscored this commitment in January when it introduced Canada’s Economic Action Plan. A key component of the Plan is to create more and better opportunities for Canadian workers through skills development.

A backgrounder is attached.

- 30 -

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

For further information (media only):

Michelle Bakos
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Finley

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada


Chiefs of Ontario support Akwesasne protest of armed border guards on their territory

Harper and his peons do not believe that we are sovereign nations and Oka probably happened because nobody took a firm hand in the issue. I’ll be he thinks he’s just the man to teach those nasty Mohawks a much needed lesson on sovereignty. I think we are in for a long summer.

WAIT I know....he can send Brazeau as his sovereigns emissary!


June 1, 2009

Regional Chief for Ontario Angus Toulouse stated today that he supports the people of Akwesasne Mohawk Nation and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne who are calling on Canada Border Security Agency to stop its plan to arm border guards at the border crossing at Cornwall Island in Akwesasne territory beginning on June 1.

“Arming border guards at this crossing is unnecessary and it is an unnecessary provocation on the part of Canada Border Services Agency and the federal government,” Regional Chief Toulouse said. “There are already a number of complaints of harassment and racial profiling at this border crossing and the people of Akwesasne have concerns about their safety. The people of Akwesasne have done everything possible to make their concerns known and it is time for the federal government and the appropriate Cabinet Ministers to step in and meet with the leadership of Akwesasne to resolve this situation in advance of the June 1st deadline.”

The people of Akwesasne have made their concerns known on many occasions, including a public march across the border to demonstrate their opposition. On Friday evening, Akwesasne leadership and 100 community members delivered a resolution to the CBSA compound on the territory, outlining their opposition to the plan and proposed response should the plan proceed. The community members occupied the building for approximately 20 minutes, during which the border crossing was shut down. The resolution states that, among other activities, the Mohawk community will disarm the border crossing guards and have them evicted from their territory if the plan proceeds.

“It is time for the federal government to show some leadership and work with the people of Akwesasne to resolve this matter,” Regional Chief Toulouse said. We want to see a peaceful solution that respects the sovereignty and the rights of the Mohawk people. The border that runs through their territory is not their border and their rights to move freely through their territory must be respected and upheld.”


]For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Pilcher, Chiefs of Ontario

807-626-9339 or 416-452-2474


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