Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aboriginal Fighter...or an Aboriginal Fighter?

“First-nations youth inhabit two different spheres.
Students tell panel on native learning that they want to learn cultural traditions as well as receive a good education.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL dated, November 22, 2011 and written by a Gloria Galloway.

Diversity seems key in the fabric of Canadian society, after all, the Canadian government defines multiculturalism as a government, committed to reaching out to Canadians and newcomers and is developing lasting relationships with ethnic and religious communities in Canada. It encourages these communities to participate fully in society by enhancing their level of economic, social, and cultural integration.”
One notices the issue of “education” is not included in the program of integration of those communities. Seems there is no need.
When downtown in any urban city, one does notice a number of ethic backgrounds seemingly well grounded in two different spheres: their respective cultural background and education.
So, what about Canada’s Aboriginal people?
“Children who live on native reserves often have their feet in two worlds when it comes to education and many are unprepared to sacrifice one for the other.”
And, it is not just native reserves but Inuit communities that face that challenge. So, anyone up for that challenge…perhaps a Kenzie Wilson?
“The 13-year-old who loves racing sled dogs across the ice near her home in Cross Lake in northern Manitoba say she wants to be a fighter pilot when she grows up. That means she has a lot of years of formal education ahead of her.”
A lofty and very achievable goal for a young kid but like most native communities…will there be any support?
Scott Haldane, the panel Chairman looking at proposed solutions for First Nations learning has said, “We’ve had opportunity to meet young people like Kenzie across the country who demonstrate that the resilience of first nations students is remarkable, and who have the potential to achieve whatever they want to achieve but don’t have the supports around them, generally speaking, to allow them to pursue that dream.”
When in most native communities and while most will agree, the lack of support for kids there has resulted in the notion that education is not important. The national dropout rates will attest.
Nevertheless, young Kenzie Wilson must be commended for her attitude, “My goal in life is to become a fighter jet pilot. I will do everything I can to reach my goal and education will help me do this.”
Here’s looking at you kid. We all need to touch base with you in ten years and hope you will be like most immigrants grounded in two spheres: your cultural background with an education.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cost of Residential School...Billions, Cost of a brush-cut...Priceless

Cost of Residential School…Billions, Cost of a brush-cut…priceless.

“Cost of residential school redress rising. Final settlement package likely to be more than $5-billion as 29,000 expected to line up for additional compensation for abuse.”

So read the above headline in the GLOBE AND MAIL published November 19, 2011 and written by a Bill Curry.

A lot of us former Junior boys of Grollier Hall remember well how the former bully Nun, Sister Hebert, had lined us up for our annual brush-cut on that early September arrival; after all, for years prior, lining up like numbered cattle through a corral was a regular process. Today, some forty years later, as the above noted article implies, we’re still lining up like numbered cattle…this time, it’s the corral known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).

“…the IAP, which allows former students to tell their story in a private hearing – sometimes with the alleged abuser present. Government-appointed adjudicators listen to the stories of abuse and approve compensation, using a matrix that increase the payment based on the severity of the physical or sexual abuse and the severity of the long-term emotional impact on the former students.”

Little did we know back then while lining up for those “priceless” brush-cuts, the line up would continue some forty years later… this time to “tell your story.” How many stories?

“Twenty nine thousand. That’s Ottawa’s latest estimate of how many people will ultimately come forward with compensation cases for physical and sexual abuse suffered at Canada’s native residential schools.”

The month of September seems quite symbolic too, it is that month of 2012 that represents the deadline to “come forward” for Survivors to ensure some sort of compensation in the IAP process.

Let’s ensure the line up continues…this time not for that “priceless” brush-cut or just an apology…it’s you and your story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aboriginal Title?...Easy Answer.

Certainty still a question in land rights and resource development.
Several issues make agreement between first nations and business interests difficult.

So read the headline published in the VANCOUVER SUN, November 12, 2011 and written by a Derrick Penner.

Sub-headlines to the article included, “Treaty gap, New projects, Finding opportunities, Finding a deal.”

Until there are land claim agreements south of 60 like north of 60 where land claim agreements abound, there will always be uncertainty in land rights and resource development including in British Columbia. That is the nature of the situation. You could say it’s a lawyer’s field of paradise where some have started and inevitably retired only to be replaced by up-and-comers.

Anyway, there is no “Treaty gap” north of 60. For example, we, the Inuvialuit (Inuit) of the Western Arctic were a part of the proposed area of Treaty 11. Thanks to our Elders, they figured a “treaty” between us and the government was not a good idea. Thanks to their foresight and patience, our land claim agreement known as the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement outlines certainty in Aboriginal title, i.e. land selection, surface and sub-surface rights, wildlife management, socio-economic agreements, health care issues, consultation, etc, all allowing an aura of certainty.

South of 60?…”companies are still looking for clarity around what areas of the (BC) province are absolutely open, or absolutely closed…” Yes, Aboriginal title is still a question.

Regarding “New projects,” north of 60; no problem. One voice, the people; land claim agreements have sent the lawyers home.
“However, from the (BC) province’s perspective, it is difficult to create any type of template for consultation and accommodation of first nations’ interests, according to Mary Polak, Minister of (BC) Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, because those interests vary so widely between first nations.” Mary goes on to say, “Treaties would be the most comprehensive and final way to addressing recognition.” History has shown though, treaties have been too vague and have resulted in uncertainty. Comprehensive land claim agreements north of 60 have created a lot of certainty. Many new projects there have started or pending and will last for many years to come.

Regarding “Finding opportunities” north of 60; ... no problem. Finding opportunities with oil and gas and the mining sectors abound with the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project and the already established diamond mining projects, let alone the eco-tourism sector that offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for tourists; i.e, northern lights, fishing, expeditions, and big-game hunting.

Mary Polak goes on to say, “Can we find something that meets the requirements and desires of all first nations across the province and (non-aboriginal) communities and business interests across the province? I’m not sure.” I guess one should point Mary north of 60 where finding opportunities with land claim agreements have added a lot of certainty.

Regarding “Finding a deal” north of 60, you guessed it, no problem. However, regarding south of 60, lawyers like Keith Bergner has said, “The duty is to consult, not a duty to agree.” Treaties demand consultation while land claim agreements demand an agreement with consultation…that is certainty. Unity and land claim agreements have done a lot for positive consensus of aboriginal groups in “finding a deal” including the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Perhaps, the above noted headline should read, “Certainty will always be a question in land rights and resource development…south of 60”