Posts By: First Nations Drum

Building stronger communities across Nunavut with federal Gas Tax Fund

August 10, 2018 | Iqaluit, Nunavut – Investing in local infrastructure supports the unique needs of northern communities. The governments of Canada and Nunavut are investing in modern public infrastructure that will help create jobs, while improving Northern Canadians’ quality of life and contributing to stronger communities.

The Government of Canada delivered the first of two $8.25-million annual installments of the federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) to Nunavut. In total, the territory will be provided with over $16.5 million this year through the fund.

The GTF is a long-term, indexed source of funding that supports local infrastructure projects across the Territory each year. The City of Iqaluit is planning to put its share into rehabilitating and upgrading roadways and drainage systems to improve road safety and protect the environment. In the Hamlet of Kimmirut, residents will enjoy higher quality drinking water thanks to an improved water treatment system. In Coral Harbour, the funding will go towards replacing the original lighting on the arena with solar panels to reduce energy dependency and carbon dioxide emissions.

Roads, drinking water and community energy systems are only three of the 18 project categories eligible for funding under the program. This wide range demonstrates the flexibility of the GTF in allowing communities to direct their allocations to their most pressing local needs.

Courtesy of Infrastructure Canada

Innu Nation challenges University Of Toronto Associate Professor Deborah Cowen – Muskrat Falls Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Offensive and Factually Incorrect

NATUASHISH, NL – Labrador Innu leaders issued an Open Letter today to University of Toronto Associate Professor Deborah Cowen in which Innu Nation asserts that Cowen made false and misleading statements in a letter issued July 31st, 2108, requesting Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada call a temporary halt to the Muskrat Falls Project in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gregory Rich, Grand Chief of the Innu Nation said “Not only are Associate Professor Cowen’s statements in relation to Innu false, Innu Nation and our membership are astonished that Associate Professor Cowen has the gall to talk about Indigenous Rights yet she deliberately did not consult with us”. “Her actions are nothing short of disrespectful and arrogant and we want an explanation,” continued Grand Chief Rich.

“Innu Nation respects and values academic freedom of opinion”, said Deputy Grand Chief Etienne Rich. “However, it is clear that Associate Professor Cowen does not have the same respect for Innu and our right to equal consultation or regard for the truth for that matter and she and those who signed the letter could have done better.”

In addition to the absence of consultation with Innu, Innu Nation also said that the statement that the Independent Experts Advisory Committee (IEAC) seconded the 2016 Harvard Study in its recommendation to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is also untrue.

And that furthermore, Innu Nation undertook independent scientific review of the measures proposed for soil and vegetation removal and voted to oppose the IEAC’s recommendation based on research that indicates that disturbing the vegetation and soil will likely lead to an increase in methylmercury beyond what is predicted from flooding alone. Innu Nation is extremely concerned that the extensive measures proposed by the IEAC are unproven, having never been done elsewhere in the world.

The probability of increased environmental damage is not acceptable to Innu Nation and Innu leadership say that as their research is equal to that of what has become known as the Harvard Study (Schartup, et al) that they will not risk the health of their people and their lands to test a theory of the magnitude proposed for Muskrat Falls by the IEAC.

The Muskrat Falls Project is in the heart of Innu Nation territory. Innu Nation has been in intensive Land Claims Negotiations for 30 years and in 2011, finalized the Tshash Petapen (New Dawn Agreement) following extensive consultation with Innu community members. The Tshash Petapen Agreement resulted in a Land Claims Agreement-in-Principle, Redress for Upper Churchill development on Innu land and an Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) for the Muskrat Falls Project.

“We never agreed with the recommendations of the political “Make Muskrat Right” campaign,” stated Grand Chief Gregory Rich. “And we did not endorse formation of the IEAC simply to validate the political or academic aspirations of other groups, we expected recommendations based on science and we didn’t get that so we exercised our right to reject the IEAC’s recommendation – as did four of six leading experts on methylmercury and human health – the two scientists who voted for it were previously involved in research that supports the Harvard study so their position comes as no surprise to us.” added Grand Chief Rich.

Innu Nation is asking Associate Professor Deborah Cowen to take responsibility within her academic circles for her ill-informed statements to the media and that she and others who signed onto the Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau apologize to the Innu Nation for the lack of consultation and misstatement of facts.

Assembly of First Nations Intervening in B.C. Government Legal Reference Case on Trans Mountain Pipeline to Ensure Protection for First Nations Rights

(Ottawa, ON) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has been granted intervenor status in the B.C. government’s reference case at the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

“The AFN has a long history of participating in judicial proceedings where our peoples, their rights and traditional territories are concerned. Any decision in this reference case could have far-reaching impacts for First Nations across the country and the AFN is uniquely positioned to provide a national perspective on these potential impacts,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “It is essential we be there and it’s positive that the court recognizes our unique role.”

In April, the B.C. government provided draft legislation to the provincial Court of Appeal asking it to rule whether the province has the authority to regulate and place restrictions on companies that move diluted bitumen through the province. The province is specifically asking if the proposed law is within B.C.’s jurisdiction; if it can apply to substances transported from another province; and if any existing federal law invalidates the regulations.

“The AFN will insist the court consider First Nations’ perspectives on their relationship to the lands and natural environment, and the way these relationships are uniquely and inextricably connected to First Nations health, well-being and our cultural, social and economic vitality,” National Chief Bellegarde added. “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and free, prior and informed consent must be front and centre in any laws, policies and regulations that impact First Nations.”

The AFN has participated and intervened in many judicial proceedings that raise issues of Indigenous and Treaty rights and other constitutional issues facing First Nations. The AFN, for example, was an intervenor in the court case that led to the landmark Tsilhqot’in decision. The AFN utilizes all avenues to ensure rights, justice and fairness for First Nations are upheld. The AFN pursued for more than a decade its complaint against Canada at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for the federal government’s unfair treatment of First Nations children in the child welfare system.

The B.C. reference case – Proposed Amendments to the Environmental Act – is expected to begin in March, 2019. The AFN received notice of its intervenor status in June of this year.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Huu-ay-aht begins $150 Million Salmon Watershed Renewal Program

Anacla – August 2, 2018 – The Sarita River Watershed is the heart of Huu-ay-aht First Nations and is the most important of the 35 streams and rivers in the nations’ traditional territory.

Huu-ay-aht’s ḥahuułi includes the eastern part of Barkley Sound, a small portion of Alberni Inlet, and the Sarita River watershed, which extends over approximately 190 square kilometers. For generations, the Sarita has served as a source of food, transportation, and cultural value to Huu-ay-aht people.

Surrounded by giant cedar and hemlock, the Sarita River was one of the most productive salmon rivers in Barkley Sound and, since time immemorial, the Sarita and surrounding watersheds have sustained Huu-ay-aht. However, after decades of commercial fishing and extensive forestry, the rivers and watershed in the ḥahuułi have been severely degraded.

By 1997, 62 per cent of the Sarita watershed had been logged, including 97 per cent of the flood plain. As a result, the river is twice as wide as it once was in the lower river sections.

“We have always taken care of the resources in our ḥahuułi, especially the Sarita River because it is the heart of our people,” explains Tayii Ḥawił ƛiišin (Derek Peters). “We can’t forget about its importance just because we don’t live along its shores anymore.”

Huu-ay-aht hired LGL Limited in 2017 to develop a strategy for a Sarita and Pachena Watershed Renewal Program. The goal for the renewal program is to revitalize the Sarita and Pachena watershed ecosystems and, eventually, other watersheds within the ḥahuułi. This may take generations.

“When we logged years ago, a lot of the side channels were affected and, with that, a lot of our salmon habitat was destroyed,” explains Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “Now if you go around touring our land you will see our own people out working on these streams, restoring and renewing that habitat so that our salmon come back – so that they have a place in our rivers.”

He says without the help of Steelhead LNG the Nation would not be able to fund this project, which entered its second year in 2018. Through the co-management of the Kwispaa LNG project, Huu-ay-aht has resources for renewal in its ḥahuułi. He said, in the past, the nation received grant money for some of this work, but much more is necessary.

“We are really kicking in a big effort over the next few years, because I’ve been told we have to do $150-million worth of renewal to bring our salmon back,” Dennis says. “This is an important project for our Nation. It is getting our people working, and it is bringing back our salmon, which is so important to our way of life.”

ƛiišin stresses the importance of using the tools the ancestors taught to guide the Nation in this new world.

“We have to remember our principles and that what we take from our land must be returned from the land,” he says. “This is something we are doing with our own money and by our people.”

Call for proposals – Women’s empowerment initiatives

Start Date: August 2, 2018 End Date: August 31, 2018 Nunavut-wide 60 sec

The Department of Family Services is accepting applications for community-based projects that promote women’s empowerment in Nunavut.

Projects must take place between October 15, 2018 and March 31, 2019. Community- based, non-profit organizations, municipal corporations or individuals can apply to receive funding under the following categories:

  • Leadership skills.
  • Employment.
  • Economic self-sufficiency.
  • Wellness.
  • Self-reliance.
  • Traditional knowledge.

Please contact Jordanne Amos, Family Violence Project Officer at 867-975-5236 or email, for copies of the application and guidelines, if you have any questions, or would like help completing your application.

Applicants must provide proof of current standing with Nunavut Legal Registries, if applicable. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2018 at 5 p.m. EST.

Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park celebrates elders

Start Date: July 31, 2018 End Date: August 3, 2018 Rankin Inlet

Nunavut Parks and Special Places would like to show appreciation for Elders in Rankin Inlet by hosting a day to celebrate them.

Elders are invited to join us in Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park at the ‘Elders Cabin’ for tea, coffee and food on Friday, August 3, 2018 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Bus services will be available; Elders can be picked up from outside the hamlet and arena at 1 p. m. For more information, or to request at-home pick up for an elder with mobility issues, please contact Annette Boucher at 867-645-8006 or

B.C. First Nations Languages Report Shows Increase in Language Learners, Urges Action

BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C. – A comprehensive survey of First Nations languages in B.C. reveals that all of the languages are facing severe threats to their vitality with the loss of aging fluent language speakers.

Despite this finding, language experts are cautiously optimistic about the future thanks to a growing interest in Indigenous language revitalization among First Nations communities and an increasing number of people, especially younger individuals, who are learning and speaking these languages. The Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2018 provides several examples of successful language revitalization efforts in First Nations communities.

“B.C. is blessed with the richest diversity of Indigenous languages in Canada, which are an integral part of our shared national history and culture. Revitalizing these languages is important not only for Indigenous people but for all Canadians, and time is of the essence to revitalize them,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), the organization that undertook the study. “This research points to some encouraging trends, including the rise in children and young learners, that bring hope for the future of our languages. It’s a real testament to the many language champions, Elders, young parents and teachers, and their commitment to passing on their languages.”

The report gathered information from more than 137,653 First Nations people in B.C. Across the province, 34 unique First Nations languages and 93 dialects are spoken, more than any other province or territory in Canada. In 2018, only three per cent (3%) of Indigenous people in B.C. (fewer than 4,200 people) identified themselves as being fluent in their mother tongue language, a decrease since the 2014 report.

While just over half (52%) of fluent speakers are aged 65 and over, the vast majority (78%) of all language learners are young (between the ages of 0 and 24). There are also a considerable number of adult learners, including young adults and elders. The report attributes these positive findings to the growth of community-based language revitalization projects across the province.

“I’m very heartened to see the growing interest and efforts to revitalize languages in our First Nations communities,” said STOLȻEȽ (John Elliott), a SENĆOŦEN language leader and speaker. “Although there’s much more to do, it gives me great hope to see so many young ones learning their languages. It takes real commitment and effort on the part of our communities to do this work.”

Despite the decline in fluent speakers since the last report on B.C.’s Indigenous languages in 2014, there have been positive developments that have the potential to support a language shift. The federal government, in partnership with Indigenous peoples across the country, has begun drafting legislation to give all Indigenous languages official status, legal protection and increased support, as well as more and longer-term funding for community-based language revitalization initiatives, a move that responds to one of four Calls to Action on Indigenous languages in a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Earlier this year, the B.C. government recognized the importance of Indigenous languages with an unprecedented $50-million grant to FPCC to support revitalization efforts across the province. The new funding, spread over three years, will allow FPCC to increase support to all of B.C.’s First Nations communities through larger and longer-term grants, the development of individual community language revitalization plans, and expansion of language immersion programs and learning resources.

“Our government is very pleased to support the growing number of Indigenous peoples who are teaching and learning their languages, because language is so important to connect people to their culture, their heritage and the lands they come from,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Both the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action highlight the importance of Indigenous languages, and I am proud that our government is working closely with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to make this critical work a priority.”

“Language revitalization work is complex and will not result in new fluent speakers overnight,” said Herbert. “But with increased support as well as significant, stable investment from all levels of government, effective language plans, and community mobilization, I’m optimistic that we can reverse the direction of language loss among B.C. First Nations languages and see them flourish again. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of our languages.”

The third edition of the Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages provides concrete data on the vitality of languages in B.C.’s First Nations communities, including changes in the numbers of speakers and learners over time, and resources available to support each language and community efforts to stem language loss. The goal of the report is to provide information to First Nations communities and leadership and all levels of government to assist with Indigenous language planning and revitalization. The last report was published in 2014 and the first ever report was published in 2010

Quick Facts:

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognize that knowing and being able to speak one’s language is a human right for Indigenous people. Both outline the need to protect and invest in the restoration of Indigenous languages as a concrete step toward reconciliation.

Learn More:

  • FPCC’s language programs, such as Mentor-Apprentice, Language Nest and Language Revitalization Planning programs:
  • FPCC, with B.C. First Nations as partners, developed a list and map of B.C.’s Indigenous languages:

About the First Peoples’ Cultural Council:

FPCC is a First Nations-run provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to support the revitalization of Indigenous languages, arts and culture in British Columbia. The organization provides funding and resources to communities, monitors the status of First Nations languages, develops policy recommendations for First Nations leadership and government, and collaborates with organizations on numerous special projects that raise the profile of Indigenous arts and languages in B.C., Canada and around the world. FPCC is the key source of current and accurate information on the state of First Nations languages in B.C. Since 1990, the FPCC has distributed over $40 million to First Nations communities in British Columbia for language, arts and culture projects. For more information, visit:

Territorial Premiers commit to working with new federal Ministers to advance the needs of northerners

July 18, 2018 – (Moncton, NB) Northern Premiers today extend their congratulations to new members of the Government of Canada’s Cabinet and look forward to working with all Ministers and the Prime Minister to continue to advance northern priorities.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod and Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq are eager to work with the Ministers to advance the needs of northerners in recognition of the unique circumstances in their jurisdictions. In particular, northern Premiers will continue to stress the need for a more flexible approach to federal-territorial infrastructure funding.

At a meeting of northern Premiers this morning in Moncton, New Brunswick, the Premiers reiterated that when it comes to the future development of the North and its peoples, decisions should be made with northerners, in recognition and respect of their cultures and diversity.

The Premiers acknowledge and welcome the appointments of the Honourable Dominique LeBlanc as Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

The need for more infrastructure in all three territories is urgent, and greater flexibility in federal infrastructure policy and funding will help ensure that northerners have every opportunity for economic success and a high quality of life.

The Premiers wish to thank former Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, as well as the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, former Minister of Northern Affairs, for their work and dedication in these critical areas.

Assembly of First Nations Says a National Strategy Developed with First Nations is Essential to Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals in Canada

(New York, NY) – On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild is participating this week at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations headquarters in New York, NY.  Grand Chief Littlechild spoke to the work Canada must undertake with First Nations to meet international sustainable development goals, including respecting Canada’s international human rights commitments and obligations to Indigenous peoples.

“First Nations must be full partners in achieving truly sustainable development, to meet the 2030 goals, and to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada,” said Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild following the release of Canada’s voluntary national review on its progress on achieving goals set out in Agenda 2030.  “This requires a robust national strategy co-developed with First Nations. The strategy must include mutually agreed-to mechanisms to share Crown revenue.  The violation of our Treaty rights and our right to self-determination respecting our lands and resources has entrenched and maintained a longstanding gap in socio-economic outcomes.  First Nations must be fully involved and drive approaches to addressing and closing the socio-economic gap and rights must be respected and upheld.”

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations Economic and Social Council is taking place July 9-18. This is the main forum to ensure States are accountable for commitments in the 2030 Agenda, which includes 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.  Canada presented a Voluntary National Review on its progress toward its goals yesterday. Grand Chief Littlechild’s comments are in response to this review.

“First Nations priorities and perspectives were not included in the development of either the Millennium Development Goals or the successor Sustainable Development Goals,” said Grand Chief Littlechild.  “We need a better approach. The Assembly of First Nations is offering to work with Canada to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and this effort must include working together on better ways to collect and analyze data and to evaluate progress.  The UN Declaration should be the framework for measurement, in collaboration with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis to ensure sustainable development goals contribute to First Nations’ own priorities for sustainable development and do not negatively affect our rights and priorities respecting development.”

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Bow Valley College and City of Calgary Commemorate Canada Day with the Fifth Annual Powwow and Indigenous Showcase

CALGARY – Bow Valley College’s Iniikokaan Centre and The City of Calgary have teamed up again to host the Canada Day Indigenous Showcase & Powwow at Prince’s Island Park on
Sunday, July 1.

More than 80,000 people are expected to take in this year’s event, which promises to offer dynamic and captivating demonstrations of traditional First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and entertainment, with activities in the Children’s Tent and Airbrush Tattoos situated close together for family participation. Many unique creations, such as beadwork can be viewed and purchased at the Artisan Market with local vendors. A selection of food trucks will also be on site.

Visitors are invited to sit in the Metis Trapper’s Tent and Tipis and take part in cultural teachings and sharing starting at 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to learn Métis dance steps with live fiddle music.

“This event with Bow Valley College and the City of Calgary shows our commitment to community, diversity and the relationships we have with Indigenous people in our area andNorthern Canada, including this year’s guest Dene drummers. One of the drummers is from Hay River, Northwest Territories, and the other is from the Treaty 8 area” says Noella Wells, Director of the Iniikokaan Centre.

The College’s Iniikokaan Centre also relies on staff member Carla Big Tobacco for her expertise and knowledge on Powwows, the various Dances performed by men and women and where the Drums groups are located in Treaty 7.

“We have nurtured relationships with all our presenters because they include our Iniikokaan Centre Cultural Resources Elders, Indigenous educators, leaders and knowledge keepers,” adds Wells. “All of the volunteers are Bow Valley College students and some of them will be participating as dancers in the Powwow.”

Activities begin on the Main Stage at 11 a.m. with a Blessing from Cultural Resource Elder Keith Chiefmoon. The Grand Entry of the Powwow will begin at 1 p.m. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome.

Laura Jo Gunter, President and CEO of Bow Valley College, David Collyer, Chair of our Board of Governors and other members of the College executive team will be in attendance.

Working in partnership with Treaty 7 First Nations, Bow Valley College is proudly committed to integrate Indigenous practices, develop focused educational programs, boost community involvement and build respectful relationships at all our campus locations across Alberta