Topic: Today’s News

National Chief welcomes federal investment in Indigenous Covid-19 response

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomes today’s announcement by Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller to invest in Indigenous communities to better respond to COVID-19. The investment comes after a January 7 letter from National Chief Bellegarde to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging the government to take action to address the growing rate of COVID-19 infections among First Nation people across the country.

“Keeping our people and nations safe remains top priority, particularly at a time when infection rates are rising and risk getting completely out of control,” said National Chief Bellegarde, adding that First Nations are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and require resources to meet needs exacerbated by remoteness, crowded homes and lack of clean water. “I lift up First Nations leadership across the country for speaking up. Our voices have been heard.  We will save lives.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller today announced $1.2 Billion, which includes support for public health, further investments in the Indigenous Community Support Fund and Supportive Care for long-term care and Elder care facilities.

“It’s essential we work together and that the approach is coordinated, with First Nations taking the lead,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I am encouraged by Minister Miller’s commitment to First Nations having flexibility to respond to needs and will continue to press provincial and territorial governments to support and work together with First Nations as we respond to this crisis. This includes access to mental health supports for our front-line workers and community members.”

National Chief Bellegarde made it clear this week he will be getting his COVID-19 vaccine when his turn comes.

“Just like wearing a mask, getting the vaccine is about keeping you and those around you safe,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “If you don’t plan to do it for yourself, please consider doing it for your family, friends and community. Together we’ll conquer COVID-19.”


A Thread That Never Breaks is a virtual art exhibition that presents artworks by seven Indigenous artists in fashion, craft and textiles. Artist Meghann O’Brien has described her woven textiles and baskets as threads that connect to ancestral knowledge. Visualizing the strong connections between generations as the literal threads in garments inspired A Thread That Never Breaks. Transmediation is the term for bringing an artwork from one medium to another. In A Thread That Never Breaks, the works have been transmediated from physical threads into pixels, polygons and lines of code that you can experience through your avatar at AbTeC Gallery.

AbTeC Gallery is located on AbTeC Island in Second Life, an online world. AbTeC, the curators and some of the participating artists will be present at the opening event on January 28 at 2:30PM.

To join us, you will need an avatar or you can join the Facebook livestream. For instructions on how to get an avatar, please visit

Artists: Angel Aubichon, Caroline Monnet, Joi T. Arcand, Leanna Marshall, Jaad Kuujus (Meaghann O’Brien), Olivia Whetung and the Pacific Sisters

Curated by Lisa Myers and Sage Paul
Produced by IFWTO and AbTeC

YESTERDAY the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal to Beaver Lake Cree Nation

Beaver Lake Cree Nation headed to Supreme Court over Advance Costs  

YESTERDAY the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal overturning Beaver Lake Cree Nations’ partial advanced cost award.  

In 2008 the Beaver Lake Cree brought a novel and complex Treaty infringement case, arguing that the cumulative effects of the “taking up” of land in Beaver Lake Cree Nation traditional territory has threatened and caused damage to the way of life of members of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation contrary to solemn Treaty promises.   

After ten years of litigation, including 5 years where Alberta and Canada unsuccessfully tried to strike its claim, the Beaver Lake Cree could no longer afford the litigation. As Beaver Lake Cree Nation Chief Germaine Anderson stated:  

“We dedicated our scarce resources to the case because we felt we had no choice. My Nation would rather not have to litigate, we would rather negotiate and work with the Crown directly to arrive at a mutual understanding of how to properly implement the Treaty promises, and protect our culture and way of life. However, those discussions have not occurred despite my Nations attempts to call our Treaty partners to the negotiation table”.  

Recognizing it was undisputed that the Beaver Lake Cree are financially impoverished and that its publically important, meritorious case deserved to be heard, in 2019, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench granted the Beaver Lake Cree a partial advanced cost order that would allow it to continue its case to trial. However, in 2020, during the pandemic, Alberta and Canada successfully appealed the decision.   

Beaver Lake Cree Nation applied for, and was granted, leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. It argued the Alberta Court of Appeal applied the wrong test in determining whether or not the Beaver Lake Cree could genuinely afford the litigation, and that courts are divided on whether affordability means the Nation must exhaust all funds potentially available, including by liquidating assets, or whether other priorities the Nation has for the funds must be considered. The Beaver Lake Cree argued clarity from the Supreme Court was required on how the test for advanced costs applies to a First Nation government charged with managing poverty.  

Susan Smitten, Executive Director of RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), an organization fundraising to provide access to justice for Beaver Lake Cree Nation, says “After 12 years of supporting this Nation through every legal hurdle, this is an important milestone. We got here with the vision of Beaver Lake Cree leadership and the support of thousands of donors who understand that this precedent setting case will have national impact on how industry and governments reconcile with the pre-existing rights of Indigenous peoples.”  

Beaver Lake Cree Nation welcomes the opportunity to advance its arguments with the top Court – that Beaver Lake’s hard fought constitutionally protected rights are only meaningful if it can access the courts.  In considering whether a First Nation can afford to litigate a meritorious and publically important constitutional rights case, the court must consider that it is not open to a First Nation government to exhaust all the Nation’s available funds in favour of a singular cause.  Rather, affordability requires consideration of the reasonable choices a First Nation government is required to make to ensure its community endures, and its members are not left destitute. The Nation will argue the partial advanced costs award should be restored so a decision on its novel Treaty Rights case can be rendered.   

“The issues raised in the case are difficult, complex, and broad. For over ten years, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation has endeavoured, at a cost of $3 million. Half of the funds were from generous donors who understand the importance of these matters being heard by the courts. Knowing that this case rests on environmental justice, health and protection, they continue to support Beaver Lake’s efforts to enforce its Treaty rights, which ultimately protects the environment now and for the generations to come. Today, we lift-up the Beaver Lake Cree Nation as a whole, and we give gratitude to the collective efforts of all who have stood with us through this journey. We would not be where we are without the continued support of our relatives and allies.” – Crystal Lameman, Government Relations Advisor/Treaty Coordinator, Beaver Lake Cree Nation   

Lakehead University hosting Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal discussing if internet can increase access to justice

Shannon Salter will give a public presentation through Zoom on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7  pm, part of the Harold G. Fox Lecture Series hosted by Lakehead University. 

Salter, Civil Resolution Tribunal Chair and adjunct professor at the University of British  Columbia’s Allard School of Law, will discuss the way COVID-19 forced courts around  the world to move online and what this could mean for the justice system.  

She will describe the growing consensus that it’s time to digitally transform the justice  system and if this will actually increase access to justice.  

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is Canada’s first online tribunal resolving small claims,  condominium disputes, and motor vehicle accident disputes. 

“As a mainly online tribunal, the CRT stayed open and operating normally last year,”  Salter said.  

“Over its short history, the CRT’s jurisdiction has expanded to include condominium  law, small claims, motor vehicle injury, and co-operative and societal disputes. From the  beginning, the tribunal has been extensively co-designed with community legal  advocates and their clients.  

“This has led the CRT to focus on collaborative dispute resolution, with adjudication as a  valued last resort. While the CRT offers mail, telephone, and (pre-pandemic) in-person  services, over 99 percent of the approximately 20,000 disputes we’ve handled involved  online tools.”  

The CRT is paperless. Most of its nearly 100 staff and tribunal members have always  worked from home. Dispute resolution services, from applications, negotiation and  mediation processes, uploading evidence, and receiving decisions and orders, are all  online.  

“Aside from relocating some frontline staff to remote work, and supporting colleagues  with sudden caregiving and other responsibilities, we didn’t have to adapt,” she said. 

“Instead, we focused on the health, mobility, and economic impact of the pandemic on  CRT users. We helped by waiving fees in cases of financial hardship, pressing pause on  default orders, and extending deadlines through email requests.”  

Before the pandemic, community legal advocates helped the CRT accommodate the  needs of people with health, mobility, economic and other access barriers.  

“Now, many more of us are also experiencing these challenges, and the CRT has scaled  to meet this increased human need. It helped that we offered online tools.  

“But we stayed open because of human-centred design and the outcomes it brought;  free, plain language legal information and tools through the Solution Explorer, simple  fee waivers, free interpretation services, staff well-trained in mental health issues,  cultural competency and customer service. Most importantly, a culture of collaboration,  inclusivity, and respect,” she said.  

Salter doesn’t believe that technology can solve all problems related to accessing the  justice system – it could even add more barriers to access. 

“It’s important to remember that technology is not a panacea, a cure-all for our access to  justice woes, though it might have offered temporary pain relief for our COVID-related  ones. Adding a technology interface to existing, inaccessible processes is not  transformative, and can add further barriers.  

“Building a flexible, resilient, and responsive justice system requires something that’s  both much harder and much easier than legal technology. It requires fundamental  system and culture change, co-designed and tested with those who need our public  justice system the most,” she said.  

Please click HERE to register. 

Biography: Shannon Salter, BA, LLB, LLM 

Shannon Salter is the Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal, Canada’s first online  tribunal resolving small claims, condominium disputes, and motor vehicle accident  disputes. She is also an adjunct professor at the UBC Allard School of Law, teaching  administrative law and legal ethics and professional regulation. She earned her BA and  LLB from UBC, and her LLM from the University of Toronto. 

Salter was a BC Supreme Court judicial law clerk before practicing civil litigation at a  large Vancouver firm. She has served as a vice chair of the Workers’ Compensation  Appeal Tribunal, vice president of the BC Council of Administrative Tribunals, and on  the College of Registered Nurses of BC. 

She is currently a director of the BC Financial Services Authority, a Law Society of  British Columbia disciplinary hearing panel member, board member of the Canadian  Legal Information Institute (CanLII), and a director of Lexum.  

Salter is a co-author of the BC Administrative Decision Maker’s Manual, as well as a  number of legal journal articles. In 2017, she was named one of the 25 Top Most  Influential Lawyers in Canada, and was previously recognized as one of Canada’s New  Law Pioneers by the Canadian Bar Association and an Access to Justice All-Star by the  National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSLAP). 

She received the Adam Albright award for outstanding teaching by an adjunct professor  in 2016. Salter is also a fellow of the National Centre for Technology and Dispute  Resolution at the University of Massachusetts and a visiting professor at the Sir Zelman  Cowan Centre in Victoria University in Melbourne. She is a frequent speaker at  international conferences on online dispute resolution, administrative law, legal  education, and the future of law and technology.

President extends congratulations to respected Inuit elders on receipt of honorary degrees from MUN

Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe extends his congratulations to respected Inuit elders Jean Crane  of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Nellie May Winters of Makkovik on receiving Doctor of Laws, honoris  causa, degrees. Both received their degrees during a convocation today in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. 

“As President of Nunatsiavut, and on behalf of Beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims  Agreement, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate these two exceptional women on receiving such  well-deserved honors. We are extremely grateful to both for the tremendous contributions they have  made over the years in helping to advance and promote our unique way of life.” 

Honorary degree recipients are chosen by the Senate, the university’s academic governing body, after  careful examination of the grounds for their nomination. The honorary doctorate is designed to  recognize extraordinary contributions to society or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement. 

Jean Crane Biography 

Ms. Crane is a renowned and respected Inuit elder who grew up in North West River and Sheshatshiu at  the intersection of Innu and Inuit culture. The daughter of trapper Gilbert Blake, and great granddaughter of Lydia Campbell, she was the only one of her family of 13 to attend high school, and  has been connected to education ever since – combining her deep ancestral ways of knowing and living  from the land with an insatiable curiosity and passion for learning. 

An accomplished artist known for representing Labrador’s animals and landscapes in a variety of media,  as well as a healer who blends her training as a nursing assistant with her traditional knowledge of the  healing capacities of the land, Ms. Crane has shared her wisdom both locally and nationally. 

She is a powerful advocate for the cultures, lands, waters and spiritualties of Labrador and for the  accessibility of Indigenous education in the North, by the North. 

In addition to being a member of Memorial’s Board of Regents for several years, Ms. Crane has been  involved in several initiatives at the university, notably as an elder, mentor and teacher for the Inuit  Bachelor of Social Work and the Inuit Bachelor of Education degree programs. She also served as a  member of the Labrador Institute’s Strategic Task Force.

Nellie May Winters Biography 

Born in Okak Bay, Ms. Winters and her family were forcibly relocated to Makkovik in 1956. She has  lived and worked in the community every since.  

Ms. Winters is renowned educator and master artist in a variety of mediums. She is a garment designer  and seamstress and is recognized for her exceptional embroidery, caribou tufting, wall-hangings, illustrations and doll-making. With a portfolio spanning seven decades, she stands out as a generational  talent for her technical mastery of traditional Inuit art forms and for her prolific artistic innovation. 

Her work has been commissioned and exhibited by galleries, museums and private collections both in  Canada and internationally. She was also invited to show her work at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. 

Ms. Winters continues to instruct, mentor and inspire young Inuit artists and to enrich cultural life in  Nunatsiavut as a knowledge holder, interpreter and author. She published a book in 2020, Reflections  from Them Days: A Residential School Memoir from Nunatsiavut, which contains her personal memoirs  and stories, as well as her own illustrations. 

Native Organizers Alliance responds to cancellation of Keystone XL Pipeline

Washington, DC—President Joseph R. Biden today signed an executive order cancelling the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The following statement from Judith Le Blanc (Caddo), executive director of Native Organizers Alliance, an organization dedicated to building a support network of Native leaders and grassroots organizers, can be quoted in-full or in-part. 

President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit is critical to upholding tribal sovereignty and protecting the rights and health of Native peoples. While we know our fight doesn’t end with today’s critical action by the president, this is an important step. 

Today’s action by President Biden is the result of the relentless work and dedication from tribes and grassroots organizers. For years, Native grassroots organizers have joined with the traditional leaders and sovereign nations like Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Oglala Lakota Nation, and Yankton Sioux Tribe, to stop this project. Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all.

The fight to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline brings into sharp focus that for too long tribal nations and Native peoples have been forced to spend millions of dollars of their scarce resources to fight developers who fail to consult with our sovereign nations. Consultation is required by our treaties and agreements but time and time again, we see developers move ahead with the aid of the federal government without our approval and agreement. We demand more. Our treaties require more. It is a violation of the constitution to fail to properly consult with sovereign nations before approving projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

Tribes are too often forced to take legal action just to get the federal government to uphold the promises made to our ancestors. We are hopeful that the Biden administration will begin a turning point where federal agencies aren’t just plowing ahead with major infrastructure projects that violate our rights, and endanger our tribal citizens and resources. We urge President Biden and federal agencies to uphold their constitutional duty to secure prior and informed consent from U.S. tribes. 

Today’s cancellation of the pipeline permit is a critical first step, but there is more to be done. Not just on Keystone, but in the protection and stewardship of the sites we as Native peoples hold sacred like Bears Ears, the Black Hills, and Chaco Canyon. 

Call for Indigenous Music Creators

Red Sky Performance is bringing our award-winning production Mistatim to the screen for an engaging digital experience. Working with the Toronto Symphony OrchestraMistatim will be reimagined to include newly created music by four Indigenous music creators and eight TSO musicians, who will explore and learn together. The collaboration will include four mentorship sessions with leading Indigenous and TSO musicians, creators, and composers.


  • Indigenous music creators from across Canada and the United States with a strong interest in music collaboration.
  • The composition, collaboratively created, will be 15 minutes.
  • It is not necessary to read or write music.

PROJECT TIMELINE: March 15 – May 20, 2021

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  February 12, 2021


  1. Music composition and collaboration (online/Zoom) (March 15-April 30)
  2. Music mentorship sessions (online/Zoom) (March 15-May 7, 2021)
  3. Music video/audio capture (May 7-20, 2021) in Toronto.

(1) Statement: A brief video or written statement outlining why you want to be part of this collaboration, what you hope to gain, and what you plan to contribute as a music creator — 250 words or 2 minutes maximum.

(2) Resume: A brief resume including musical instruments, experience, touring, collaborations, training, and accomplishments — one-page maximum.

(3) Music Sample: A sample of your work in digital audio and/or video file (i.e., mp3) or web link (i.e., YouTube, Vimeo) — 5-15 minutes in length.

(4) Music Score: A sample music score IF you have experience creating a score. This is not mandatory but will be reviewed as part of the adjudication process if you have it. The score may be for music composition, film, music video, or theatre work.

Apply to: Email your application to Kathy Morrison, General Manager, at no later than February 12, 2021 at midnight.

If you have any questions, please contact

Applicants will be shortlisted based on their submitted material and then invited to participate in a brief interview (on Zoom) with adjudicators after which final decisions will be made.

Applicants will be notified by February 19 and selected music creators will begin March 15, 2021.

An artist fee will be paid to selected Indigenous music creators. The fee will be commensurate with experience.

Red Sky Performance and Toronto Symphony Orchestra will adhere to provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Due to current health guidelines and travel restrictions, this project will take place online (primarily via Zoom).

An unforgettable story of reconciliation, Mistatim is about the taming of a wild horse and the truest of friendships. Under a prairie sky, a simple wooden fence is all that separates Calvin on his ranch and Speck on her reservation. In many ways they are worlds apart, that is until a wild horse named Mistatim turns their worlds upside down. Red Sky’s award-winning production for young audiences, Mistatim will be transformed into an exciting, multi-faceted digital film experience.

Red Sky Performance is a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide. Now in our 20th year of performance (dance, theatre, music, and media), Red Sky’s work highlights the originality and power of contemporary performance, enabling new creations to expand the breadth and scope of Indigenous-made work in Canada.

One of Canada’s most respected arts organizations, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays a vital role in the city’s dynamic cultural life. Committed to serving local and national communities through vibrant performances and expansive educational activities, the TSO is a unique musical ambassador for Canada around the world.

Adjudicators will comprise of representatives from Red Sky Performance and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The New Relationship Trust (NRT) and the New Relationship Trust Foundation (NRT Foundation) are pleased to announce that the NRT Foundation 2019-20 Scholarships and Bursaries Brochure is now available

This yearly highlight allows us to honour and celebrate the educational success of each award recipient.

In 2019–20, we provided funding support for a record 410 students. While most students are studying in BC, some students are completing their studies at institutions as far away as New York University and The European Graduate School in Switzerland.

By investing in Indigenous post-secondary education, the NRT Foundation and Partners are building the capacity of our communities, enhancing employment opportunities for graduates, and creating the skilled work force that will enable BC to meet its future economic and social development needs.

Awards are available to eligible students as Scholarships and Bursaries.

View the brochure at the link below:
NRT Foundation 2019-20 Scholarship and Bursary Brochure
Respectfully on behalf of the NRT and NRT Foundation Team.

2021 Summer Internships & Job Opportunities

Good afternoon,
We are spreading the word about the upcoming 2021 Summer Internships available for First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, and sharing a comprehensive list of opportunities to circulate to our youth ages 18-35.

If this is of interest, please email Karen directly at with the following information: 

  • Direct links to applications
  • Company information
  • Deadline dates

In respect, 

Mcloung Crook

President and CEO, NATOA

Co-op partners with Indigenous communities to build Western Nations Gas Bars

Western Nations, fuelled by Co-op, will support strong, vibrant communities through  mutually beneficial relationships built on shared values 

SASKATOON (Jan. 18, 2021) — Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), in consultation with  Indigenous leaders and communities across Western Canada, has developed the new, exclusive  Western Nations gas bar brand.  

FCL aims to grow a network of independent, locally owned Indigenous gas bars using the modern  Western Nations brand that is relevant to all customers and respects Indigenous culture. The brand and  supporting gas bar program are unique in their focus on re-investing in the Indigenous communities  where Western Nations gas bars are based. 

“Co-op values the relationships we have with our Indigenous communities and are looking to expand  these partnerships through the new Indigenous gas bar program,” says Brian Humphreys, FCL’s Vice President of Energy. “We know the energy sector is changing in Western Canada. With that, we see an  opportunity to build a brand with Indigenous partners for the collective benefit of our people and  communities.” said Humphreys. 

Co-op will supply and support independent gas bars in Indigenous communities across the West and  manage the Western Nations brand. Communities will maintain ownership of their locations and make  their own decisions. The Western Nations brand can be applied to existing locations or new  construction. 

According to Humphreys, developing a Western Nations gas bar means creating jobs and economic  spin-offs for communities, partnering with a trusted brand and supplier, and securing access to  numerous supports, including the unique Community Building Assistance Program.  

“Community support is an important value of local Co-ops across Western Canada and a critical  component of Western Nations. Co-op will provide funding to participating Indigenous communities and  those communities will direct the money toward community infrastructure, programming and events,”  said Humphreys.  

To learn more about Western Nations and how an indigenous organization can participate, contact the  administration office for the local Co-op association nearest you or email  

About Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-operative Retailing System  Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), based in Saskatoon, is the largest non-financial co-operative in Canada.  FCL is a unique multi-billion-dollar wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative co-operative owned  by more than 160 autonomous local co-operatives across Western Canada. Together FCL and those local retail  co-operatives form the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS). The CRS serves our members and communities  with products and services that help build, feed and fuel individuals and communities from Vancouver Island to  northwestern Ontario. Our total workforce of 25,000 employees serve 1.9 million active individual members and  many more non-member customers at 1,500 locations in more than 580 communities. We are a different kind of  business – we are locally invested, community-minded and offer lifetime membership benefits including patronage  refunds, quality products, quality service and fair prices. More information is available at