Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Murray Sinclair?...Dim-Witt?

Murray Sinclair?...Dim-Witt?

"They (non-Aboriginal) deny, perhaps, because they're slow-minded and dim-witted,.." Murray Sinclair

So said Murray Sinclair, former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on a recent CBC broadcast of THE CURRENT with Anna Maria Tremonti.

Yes, there were some bad things that occurred at the former residential schools such as sexual, physical, and mental abuse. All well documented especially in the final report of the TRC once chaired by Murray Sinclair and who was subsequently “rewarded” with a Senate appointment.

As a Survivor of 13 years of residential school at Grollier Hall, a former residence operated by the Catholic Church and located in Inuvik, NT., I know very well the bad but for the sake of the whole truth, one must never deny the good also.

As we know, Sinclair is not a Survivor of residential school and may know of the experience but will never understand the full experience. Too bad. Anyway, he chose to, along with his Commissioners, to not tell the whole “truth” in his final TRC report. Instead, they focused on the negative for sure. Therefore, I have to side with Senator Lynn Beyak latest comments regarding the “good.”

“Obviously, the negative issues must be addressed, but it is unfortunate that they are sometimes magnified and considered more newsworthy than the abundance of good,” Beyak said.” Lynn Beyak, THESTAR.COM

Regarding the “good,” the Catholic Church at Grollier Hall supported a program of active sports including hockey, soccer, basketball, badminton, floor hockey, soft ball, snooker, and chess just to name a few. Our teams in those respective sports were very competitive against other teams and, in fact, captured a number of regional championships. However, the greatest “good” in sports the Catholic Church did support then was the Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program.

The late Father Mouchet
The TEST program was inspired by the late Catholic priest, Father Jean Marie Mouchet; thank God. Rest in peace my friend. Father Mouchet saw the “good” and potential of us natives to excel in the sport of cross country ski racing given our outdoor and active lifestyle and being natural athletes.

As a result of that program and while still attending Residential School, a number of Survivors were named to the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. In fact, six of the nine members of Canada’s Olympic team were Aboriginal; isn’t that “good?”

TEST skiers of 1970; back then National Champs
and Canadian members of the 1972 Winter Olympics and
pictured with the late PM Pierre Trudeau.
I, myself, chose to participate in the TEST program and won a number of national junior championships and was the 1975 Canada Winter Games Champion in cross country skiing. Now, the legacy of “good” lives on as my boy, Jesse Cockney, was named to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and now competes on the World Cup circuit.

I see and read about the uproar of Lynn Beyak’s comments from a number of Aboriginal Leaders but it is quite understandable as they choose to ignore the whole truth.

I know the truth, I was there. Senator Sinclair could learn a lot by acknowledging the truth and like Senator Lynn Beyak should not be in denial.

Judging by the applause Sinclair receives, seems he's regarded as the god of "truth" when it comes to the experience of all residential school Survivors'

While he continues to deny the truth and not convey the good, he will not get my applause...who's the dim-witt here?
A young Angus Cockney, former National Champion and son, Jesse Cockney, 2014 Olympian. Thank you Father Mouchet; the Legacy of "good" continues.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Harper sorry, but...

 “Labrador residential-schools survivors to press for federal compensation”

So read the headline published on-line in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated Nov. 18, 2014.

As you know, Prime Minister Harper made national news in June of 2008 on live TV when he had apologized to Canada’s Aboriginal people regarding the establishment of and subsequent physical, sexual, and mental abuses experienced in all the former residential schools across the country. I should know, I was one of those students.

The compensation for those abuses inflicted on Survivors continue; enter the latest… the Labrador Inuit.

Much like the medical and dental care offered to Aboriginal people, Harper’s apology was and is apparently limited. The article reads, in part:

Lawyers for the federal government deny it was responsible for five schools that opened before the province joined Confederation in 1949.

I have some news and what could be presented as evidence for those hard-nosed lawyers.
As some may know, I was the appointed Inuit Board Member on the now-defunct Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) from 1999 to 2004. The AHF’s mandate was to distribute up to $400 million dollars to “eligible recipients” who wanted to address the healing needs of the legacy of physical and sexual abuses in the residential schools. Records will show Harper’s lawyers that two of the “eligible recipients” were from Labrador: the Nunatsiavut Government and the Labrador Legal Services.

Case closed? I might say.  After all, the AHF was routinely audited by Harper’s lawyers to ensure the AHF adhered to the Funding Agreement. Due diligence on their part would have challenged us, Board Members, to not approve the above noted projects. Still, the Labrador Inuit residential schools were regarded as “eligible recipients.” Case closed?

The two thumbs up given by Inuit Survivor, Sarah Aggek (pictured) speaks a thousand words.

For the government though, it will likely symbolize thousands more dollars…I’m sorry, Harper.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harper needs double-barrelled Ministers?

“Resources Minister Rickford faces aboriginal backlash over Enbridge project.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated March 21, 2014 and written by a Shawn McCarthy.

Perhaps, the headline should have read, “…continued backlash…?”

As you know, “Following a cabinet shuffle prompted by Jim Flaherty’s resignation, former minister of state for science Greg Rickford has taken over the natural resources post from Joe Oliver, who replaces Mr. Flaherty as finance minister.

As you know too, Prime Minister Stephen Harper once said the proposed Enbridge Gateway project is a “ no-brainer.” Therefore, for the newly appointed (Natural) Resources Minister, the “looming” decision to go-ahead with the National Energy Board’s recommendation to approve the project should also be a no-brainer. I don’t think he will want to contradict or disappoint his leader.

However, one must question the timing of the change to replace Joe Oliver as that move may also indicate the lack of value the Prime Minister has in “Aboriginal” relations regarding resource development especially the proposed Enbridge project?

Replacing Oliver with Rickford is untimely and has certainly added to the aboriginal backlash already well known especially within the BC communities. Now, Rickford will likely need to connect with former Environment and Indian Affairs Minister, Jim Prentice, contracted by Enbridge “ to negotiate with aboriginal communities on its behalf” and try to establish trust and meaningful relationships with potentially affected First Nations.

These two new faces though will likely do little to quell the “continued” backlash that will certainly persist even when the new Minister Rickford approves the go-ahead come July 2014. After all, “…said Art Sterrit, executive director of Coastal First Nations, which represents nine nations on the B.C. coast. “There’s no way anybody in B.C. is going to support that project any time soon.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Enbridge's Apprentice, Jim Prentice

“Enbridge turns to Jim Prentice for pipeline help.
Can Jim Prentice save Northern Gateway?
Company hopes former Indian Affairs minister can help win support of First Nations.”

So read the headlines published in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated March 06, 2014 and written by a Mark Hume.

Seems, Enbridge is looking for an approval within an approval, after all, it is no secret the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has been given a conditional nod, “approval with conditions” by the National Energy Board.  Prime Minister (PM), Stephen Harper, and his federal cabinet will no doubt give the final nod this July. After all too, the PM once said, “it’s a no-brainer.”

Still, 130 aboriginal bands have signed a declaration against the project. Enter Jim Prentice, former cabinet minister whose files did include the environment and Indian affairs.

“I know there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done and it starts with listening.”

Apparently, paying attention to those 130 aboriginal bands opposed to the project is a bit of ire to Enbridge’s ear. I guess one could surmise too, Enbridge’s Aboriginal Relations unit has fallen short of establishing the trust imperative to engaging with First Nations. Listening will not be enough.

“Al Monaco, chief executive officer of Enbridge, said in a statement that he hopes Mr. Prentice can help the company build trust with First Nations.”

Establishing trust within any working relationship should be first and foremost and is always regarded as a best practice.

“We (Enbridge) believe Jim Prentice is uniquely suited to help us fulfill that promise.”

I guess Jim Prentice will have to do more than just listen.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


“Furlong says probe cleared him, but RCMP says case open.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL dated, Oct. 29th, 2013 and written by Sunny Dhillon and Tu Thanh Ha.

 It’s well known today, at least amongst Aboriginal communities, the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in the former native residential schools that were all funded by the federal government and operated by various churches. Along with that legacy did come some accountability with a number of former supervisors charged, convicted, and subsequently sentenced behind bars.

Enter former supervisor, Paul Leroux, who had worked at Grollier Hall, a former Catholic-run residence in Inuvik, NT.  After a complaint from one former student, a speedy and extensive RCMP investigation ensued.

The RCMP “probe” into that case included interviews with over 70 former Grollier Hall students (Survivors) under Leroux’s care at that time. That probe clearly showed the will of the RCMP to gain evidence against him to subsequently charge him with sexual abuse.

Now, should the same extensive probe into John Furlong, former CEO of the 2010 Olympics be expected? One would think the RCMP would have the same will…instead, after one complaint.

“The initial probe, which ended in the spring, looked at allegations Mr. Furlong sexually molested Beverly Abraham when he was a physical education teacher at Immaculata Roman Catholic Elementary School in Burns Lake, B.C. four decades ago.”

The result?

Apparently, “Mr. Furlong said the officer in charge of the investigation…concluded there was no wrongdoing.”

 “…he has been told an RCMP investigation into allegations he sexually abused a student when he was a teacher decades ago has proven his innocence.”

Apparently too, seems the RCMP is unwilling to extend their probe past one allegation even when Ms. Abraham asked the local constable to interview additional witnesses.

As one who did take part as a witness into the extensive RCMP probe against Paul Leroux, a pragmatic attitude would think the RCMP take the same approach towards Furlong.


John Furlong is a high-profile character who worked closely with the RCMP to ensure security measures were in place during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Could that relationship be the impetus behind the restrictive probe into the allegations of physical and sexual abuse?

Perhaps, the BC RCMP should seriously hold the NWT RCMP as a model into how to conduct a probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse by John Furlong.

One has hope…after all, “RCMP says case open.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pipeline Revival, People Survival

“Mackenzie Valley pipeline facing possible revival.
Revival of 500 million dollar fund signals renewed interest in project – and possible new route.”

So read the headline published on the CBC website dated, Oct. 25th, 2013.

Even after more than 40 years of deliberation and finally a 2011 permit to build the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline (MGP) and subsequent stall due to economics…yet, another dust-off for the MGP?

A prominent NWT Aboriginal member once said, “I’m kinda glad the MGP has not gone ahead, 20 per cent of our people could be lost.”


The social impact of money. The people know it and certainly the federal government does too. After all, they have recently revived the 500 million dollar social impact fund in case the MGP is to be.

"We are looking at all options here and there is more than one option for this pipeline," says Pius Rolheiser, Imperial Oil’s spokesman. Imperial needs to act quickly on an option as they have only until the end of 2013 to give the nod to the National Energy Board…to be or not to be.

As you may know, N.E. BC has been wrought with natural gas activity lately with a number of pipelines proposed southwest to Kitimat on BC’s west coast with eventual shipment to the Far East. So…why not connect the MGP while they’re at it?

Imperial has made a considerable amount of investment to the MGP throughout the years but what does it value the most?

"We made a significant investment in terms of our relationship with the people of the North as represented by the Aboriginal pipeline group and that is a terribly important asset to us."
The revival of the MGP will be great for the NWT economy but how ‘bout the survival of its people?

Hopefully, 500 million dollars will be a good investment too.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Brazin' Brazeau

“New scandal hits Senate.
Brazeau ejected from caucus after arrest; Harper faces more headaches over upper house as reform stalls.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated Feb. 8th, 2013 and written Bill Curry, Daniel Leblanc, and Steven Chase.

As you may know, with the current Senate format, it is the Prime Minister who appoints members for their respective role on Canadian governance and, for all appointed, on a path to easy money and ultimate retirement. One would assume; appointments are based on recommendations and rhetoric. In the above noted case, one could surmise too, Harper needed an “Aboriginal” in his caucus to be seen as a Prime Minister sensitive to aboriginal issues but also a Prime Minister who likely needed an Aboriginal who advocated PC views…enter Patrick Brazeau.

For Harper, Brazeau is young and is a non-status Indian and therefore does not fall under the Indian Act and furthermore, in the past, Brazeau has been negative and critical on the on-going challenge of the relationship of status Indians under the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the federal government. So, how has Brazeau performed and conformed so far?

“ I am deeply appalled…and feel let down,” said the Prime Minister today (February 9th, 2013).

Subsequent to a 911 call, the RCMP responded and went to Senator Brazeau’s house in Gatineau, QC and did apprehend him overnight pending investigation with possibly pressing criminal charges. Today, the RCMP has charged him with assault and sexual assault.

So, what is the Prime Minister to do now?

“I think it is known that in light of the serious events that have been reported today (February 9, 2013), I have removed Senator Brazeau from the Conservative caucus.”

Senator Brazeau now sits as an Independent and is on leave with full pay. Unless Harper reforms the Senate as he had promised as an election platform, Senator Brazeau could retire comfortably, thanks to future earnings of $7 million dollars to the end of his term…not bad for a likely criminal facing serious allegations.

In the big picture, it is the Prime Minister who should be held accountable but with a majority government…who cares?