Archive for June 19, 2007

Ontario’s Aboriginal Chiefs have rejected a 2.5 billion dollar, 20-year settlement offer to share revenue from lotteries and casinos.

The Ontario Government offered the deal to resolve disputes over revenues.

The province offered to pay First Nations a 1.6 per cent share of provincial gaming revenues in order to settle disputes over its collection of a 20 per cent tax on Casino Rama’s gross revenues.

The government’s offer could have amounted to 125 million dollars per year for 20 years, to be divided up among 133 Ontario First Nation communities for health care, education and infrastructure.

Courtesy of

ROSEAU RIVER RESERVE, MAN. — ‘Well, why else are you here?” Chief Terrance Nelson shoots back. “I doubt The Globe and Mail would send you out to talk about Roseau River’s housing problems,” he says with a smirking laugh.

Mr. Nelson is a roiling mixture of bluster, determination, suspicion and contempt. He knows that the media loves controversy, and he isn’t afraid to stoke it in order to get the country’s attention.

His has been the most militant voice about the June 29 national day of action called for by the Assembly of First Nations. “There’s only one way to deal with a white man. You either pick up a gun or you stand between him and his money,” he is now famous for saying. Canadians should be “damn nervous,” he warns.

Mr. Nelson likes to point out. “Canada stands to lose up to $200-billion shaved off the GDP, and the economy won’t recover until 2009,” he boasts of the day of action’s potential impact.

“Let me ask you a question,” he says, leaning back in his swivel chair. “Is it easier to bring native people to where Canadians are at economically or to bring Canadians down to where we’re at? And then you’ll find out what the hell it’s like … You have everything to lose. That’s why you’re really afraid,” he says, leaning forward and chuckling lightly.

“The worst thing that could happen is for June 29th to fizzle, because then people will look at that and say, ‘See? The Indians just run away. All they do is threaten. All we have to do is show them who is boss.’ ”

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OTTAWA — Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice said his government will likely appeal a major court ruling that would expand the number of aboriginals qualifying for services by hundreds of thousands.

“I expect that the decision will be appealed, although that decision has not yet been made,” Mr. Prentice said. “The [B.C. Supreme Court] decision is a significant one and it is reasonable to expect that the final decision will have to be made at a higher appellate level.”

The appeal would come in spite of recently released internal documents showing Ottawa has been fighting the issue in court fully expecting to lose.

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Twenty-five to 30 homeless aboriginal seniors in the city will soon have a place to call their own for a while.

A transitional 24-unit housing complex called Koo Gaa da win Manitou — it means Sharing the Spirit — opened yesterday at 42 Mary St. Residents will start moving in by July, among them a man who has been living on the streets all winter. The $3-million project has been three years in the making. Hamilton’s First Native agencies are thrilled their efforts to help native seniors have finally come to fruition.

(EDIT: This is of course very good news. NOBODY in this Country should be without a place to call home, but doesn’t the timing of it seem a bit coincidental?)

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The chief of the Roseau River First Nation says a new land deal with Ottawa has him ready to call off a planned rail blockade. Terry Nelson says federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has agreed to grant reserve status to 30 hectares of land the band owns on Highway 6 at the Perimeter Highway, just northwest of Winnipeg.

Nelson says he still must consult his community before calling off the blockade, but he’s confident Ottawa will now start to act on outstanding land claims.

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TORONTO — Claire Eckert first noticed flames leaping out of the school roof in Pikangikum around 9 o’clock last Friday evening. It was windy that night, and the fire quickly engulfed the entire one-storey clapboard building, forcing her and many other residents of the remote Ojibwa community in Northwestern Ontario to flee their homes.

By the time residents had put out the fire – a feat that depleted the community’s entire water supply – there was nothing left but rubble, leaving children attending the reserve’s only school with nowhere to go. The community’s elders say the deplorable living conditions on the reserve make it a warehouse for social problems. Many of the young people sniff gasoline, a problem that school officials fear could worsen now that they have nowhere to go.

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An historic challenge to the Nisga’a Treaty in British Columbia will begin tomorrow.

Chief Mountain, hereditary Nisga’a chief Sga’nisim Sim’augit (also known as James Robinson), and Nisga’a matriarch Nisibilada (also known as Mercy Thomas), will appear before the B.C. Court of Appeal on Thursday June 14 to argue that their constitutional claim deserves to go to trial, and should not be dismissed on purely procedural grounds, as was done in the past.

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It is time the Opposition in the House of Commons stopped stalling and allowed full and immediate human rights protection for aboriginals.

Recently, Anita Neville, the Liberal aboriginal affairs critic (Winnipeg South Centre), said her party will be preventing passage of Bill C-44, a piece of legislation that will finally amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include aboriginals who fall under the Indian Act.

This change would provide individuals who fall under that legislation with legal recourse when they feel their rights have been violated.

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The Harper government’s initiative to speed up Indian claims settlement is overdue, but represents but a small piece of a puzzle crying out for completion.

Only when such leaders as Phil Fontaine and Bill Wilson stand up and say as much will Canadians be able to look to a prospect of socioeconomic equality between Indians and non-Indians. At present, Fontaine, chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and B.C. chief Wilson – defeated by Fontaine last July for the top aboriginal job – are trapped in a victim mindset.

They’re pandering to the hotheads in their communities rather than speaking on behalf of innovation and the taking of personal responsibility.

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The police don’t want to become the “meat in the sandwich” between governments and First Nations protesters, says the head of the Ontario Provincial Police.


But Julian Fantino said Monday that his officers will be prepared to maintain order during the upcoming native day of protest on June 29.

“We’re prepared to take action if and when warranted,” he told CTV Newsnet’s Mike Duffy Live. “But clearly we’re in a predicament where we have to exercise a whole lot of care and caution.” (EDIT: The same way you’re prepared to take action each and every day in Caledonia by sitting in your air conditioned cars and observing crime? The same kind of action Fantino personally took by hiding and peeking out a window at us on Jan 20th?)

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