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.