Topic: Today’s News

Commissioner Kusugak announces recipients of the 2018 Nunavut Commissioner’s Arts Award

IQALUIT, Nunavut (April 26, 2019) – The Honorable Nellie T. Kusugak, Commissioner of Nunavut, today announced the recipients of the 2018 Nunavut Commissioner’s Arts Award. Award recipients Susan Avinngaq of Igloolik and Jaco Ishulutaq of Pangnirtung will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a certificate from the Commissioner.

“It is such an honor to recognize Mrs. Avinngaq and Mr. Ishulutaq for their outstanding contribution to Nunavut’s visual arts”, said Commissioner Kusugak.

Long time master carver/sculptor, Jaco Ishulutaq, is a well-established carver who is a great ambassador for Inuit Art culture. Mr. Ishulutaq has attended many exhibitions to showcase his work across the country. Having started carving at the age of 16, Jaco has done tremendous work and many young aspiring artists look up to him as a role model. Mr. Ishulutaq takes great pride in the arts; he regularly mentors and encourages many others to carry on the tradition to ensure that Inuit Art remains alive for many years to come.

Inuit storyteller, performer/actress, author/illustrator and costume designer, Susan Avinngaq is a passionate visual artist who continues to share the Inuit tradition. In over 25 years, Mrs. Avinngaq has played various key roles in many productions and has shared her extensive knowledge of Inuit cultural practices, traditions, stories and music. Mrs. Avinngaq puts much of her energy into preserving and protecting the Inuit culture, tradition and heritage and she does so through many forms of art.

The Nunavut Commissioner’s Arts Award was created by the former Commissioner Ann Meekidjuk Hanson to honour the artistic achievement of established Nunavut artists. Nominations are reviewed by a selection committee, whose members have an in-depth knowledge of arts and culture in Nunavut. Nominees are judged on their artistic achievements and the quality and impact of their work

First Nations Justice Council Pleased to Host Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, QC, MP and Hon. Jane Philpott, PC, MP at First Nations Provincial Justice Forum

(Snuneymuxw Territory: Nanaimo, BC – April 23, 2019) – A gathering of First Nations leaders from across British Columbia will be meeting in Richmond for two intensive days of deliberation on the development of a strategy to transform the relationship of First Nations peoples with the criminal justice system. The Forum is being held at the Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport at 3099 Corvette Way, in Richmond, BC, in Musqueam Territory.

Hosted by the First Nations Justice Council, with support from the government of British Columbia, the event on April 24 and 25 aims to develop concrete guidance from First Nations leaders about how to address urgent issues regarding the justice system including over representation of First Nations peoples incarcerated, access to justice, and systemic racism.

“The crisis of over representation and associated challenges across the criminal justice system are long-standing and long-recognized. We have an urgent mandate and imperative to act. The political will and understanding of the necessity to achieve transformative shifts is shared and urgent. In recent years, Canadians have increasingly witnessed how broken the relationship is between Indigenous peoples and the criminal justice system from sharp moments like the Colten Boushie trial and verdict and the ever-growing incarceration of Indigenous peoples in Canadian jails, which now stands at 28% of the prison population overall. The BC government has committed to co-develop a strategy to make real change, and this forum is central to moving that strategy forward,” said Doug White, Chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council.

The two-day Forum will include a review of the history of the relationship between First Nations peoples and the justice system, and intensive dialogue on issues related to policing, corrections, the court system, restorative justice, access to justice, and prosecutorial and sentencing practices. A major focus will be placed on the role of self-determination and self-government and the roles for First Nations laws, governments, and jurisdictions in transforming the criminal justice system.

The keynote presentation – ‘From Denial to Recognition: the Challenges of Indigenous Justice in Canada” – will be delivered on Apr. 24th at 1:00pm by both the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, QC, MP the Member of Parliament for Vancouver-Granville and Hon. Jane Philpott, PC, MP the Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville. Hon. Wilson-Raybould recently served as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada, and was the first Indigenous person to hold that position. Hon. Jane Philpott has been Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services, and most recently, President of the Treasury Board. Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott will both be honoured for her historic and on-going work and leadership on behalf of Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.

Opening remarks for the Justice Forum will be delivered between 9:30am and 10:15am on Apr. 24th by Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the BC Assembly of First Nations, Cheryl Casimer of the First Nations Summit, Boyd Peters of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Hon. David Eby, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of British Columbia, Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General of British Columbia, and Doug White, Chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council.

Injustices Experienced by First Nations Women and Girls: the AFNQL Turns to the United Nations

Wendake, April 17, 2019 – In the context of the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (April 22−May 3, 2019), the AFNQL will hold a side event in support of using the appropriate UN mechanisms to receive Indigenous women’s discrimination complaints, particularly those who have experienced police abuses in Val-d’Or.

The AFNQL had expressed its intention to use international forums at the hearings of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Women Girls and the Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec (“Viens Commission”).

The Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, will accompany the delegation to New York, composed of the Grand Chief Verna Polson of the Algonquin Anishnabeg Nation Tribal Council, Chief Adrienne Jérôme of Lac Simon First Nation, Ms. Sharon Hunter, from Long Point First Nation, Ms. Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women and AFNQL Attorney Wina Sioui.

The objective of the side event is to expose the injustices that Indigenous women experience in the Quebec justice system and to expose the situation before the international community

JUSTICE FOR FIRST NATIONS WOMEN: THE AFNQL WILL REQUEST THE UNITED NATIONS’ INTERVENTION

New York, April 24, 2019 – “Justice for the women of our Nations can no longer wait. Discrimination on the part of police services towards First Nations women must be subject to a specific review by UN bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. This is the message we are bringing to the United Nations,” declared Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations QuebecLabrador (AFNQL), as part of a side event featured during the 18th session of the United Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

This event serves as a reminder of the too many cases of police abuse against First Nations women. This situation has contributed to breach the confidence of our Nations towards the justice system.

“Many women no longer believe in this system that has betrayed them and has not been able to protect them. That is why I am here to support their voices and to launch an international appeal so that they can obtain justice and respect of their human rights,” explained the Chief of Lac Simon First Nation, Adrienne Jérôme, whose community is adjacent to the city of Val-d’Or.

Grand Chief Verna Polson of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council who also participates to the Forum proceedings, added: “With the evidence presented to the two commissions of inquiry, we are still concerned that the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) or other police forces could commit unacceptable and criminal acts with impunity. The Sûreté du Québec has never apologized or initiated any dialogue with First Nations. This situation is deplorable and must be denounced.”

“Our issues have been the subject of several commissions and hundreds of recommendations. Yet few impacts allow us to believe in change. We will continue to remind the Governments of Quebec and Canada who should shortly receive two important reports (Viens Commission and the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). We will be vigilant,” concluded Chief Ghislain Picard.

A copy of the AFNQL’s submission to the Viens Commission is available at: http://apnql.com/en/the-unacceptable-situation-of-indigenous-women-in-canada-andquebec/

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador is a political organization uniting 43 First Nations chiefs in Quebec and Labrador. Follow the AFNQL on Twitter @APNQL

Injustices Experienced by First Nations Women and Girls: the AFNQL Turns to the United Nations

Wendake, April 17, 2019 – In the context of the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (April 22−May 3, 2019), the AFNQL will hold a side event in support of using the appropriate UN mechanisms to receive Indigenous women’s discrimination complaints, particularly those who have experienced police abuses in Val-d’Or.

The AFNQL had expressed its intention to use international forums at the hearings of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Women Girls and the Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec (“Viens Commission”).

The Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, will accompany the delegation to New York, composed of the Grand Chief Verna Polson of the Algonquin Anishnabeg Nation Tribal Council, Chief Adrienne Jérôme of Lac Simon First Nation, Ms. Sharon Hunter, from Long Point First Nation, Ms. Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women and AFNQL Attorney Wina Sioui.

The objective of the side event is to expose the injustices that Indigenous women experience in the Quebec justice system and to expose the situation before the international community.

EVENT: “Honoring the victims, bearing the voice of the survivors’

DATE: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 TIME: 6:30−8:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Unites Nations Headquarters (Room 07) 760 United Nations Plaza, New York

The event will be broadcast on Facebook Live here: https://www.facebook.com/APNQL

More information on the UN Forum can be found here: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/unpfii-sessions-2/18-2.html

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador is a political organization uniting 43 First Nations chiefs in Quebec and Labrador. Follow the AFNQL on Twitter @APNQL.

GN signs MOU with international cruise operators’ association

Iqaluit, Nunavut (April 16, 2019) – The Government of Nunavut (GN) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on cruise ship tourism in the territory.

“The GN is committed to diversifying and improving economic opportunities to encourage self-reliance and provide local employment in the cruise ship industry,” said Economic Development and Transportation Minister, David Akeeagok. “This MOU ensures a closer working relationship with the organization that represents the majority of cruise operators in the Canadian Arctic.”

The agreement fosters a closer working relationship between operators of expedition cruise ships and Nunavut stakeholders. The MOU outlines areas of potential cooperation, including the delivery of Nalunaiqsijiit: the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative; the Cruise Ready! Community Preparedness Workshops; data sharing protocols and the development of site specific guidelines using the expertise of the Inuit Heritage Trust and the GN’s Department of Culture and Heritage.

“AECO is dedicated to managing sustainable and responsible tourism in the Arctic,” said Figg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO. “Enhanced dialogue and cooperation with local communities is a priority for our members. We believe that responsible tourism should be characterized by meaningful cultural exchange, respectful interactions and local benefits. We appreciate the opportunity to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Nunavut and we look forward to enhanced co-operation on a range of initiatives.”

AECO is an international association that represents most of the cruise operators that visit Nunavut.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Supreme Court Win in Residential Schools Compensation Case “A Victory for Justice and for Survivors of the Indian Residential Schools”

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde called today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in J.W. v. Canada (Attorney General) an important victory that helps ensure fairness and justice for survivors of the Indian residential schools. The AFN was a party in the case, arguing on behalf of survivors and for the fair application of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), negotiated by the AFN.

“This Supreme Court decision is a victory for survivors of the Indian residential schools and a victory for justice and healing,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The AFN has always stood with survivors of the residential schools, right from the outset by leading negotiations on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement through to today’s decision. We continue to push for justice, healing and reconciliation from the legacy of the schools, including our work on legislation that will strengthen our languages and legislation that gives First Nations responsibility over child welfare. We want to move out from under the long shadow of the residential schools through a shared commitment, but we will not hesitate to use the courts when we have to stand up for survivors and for justice.”

The AFN supported “J.W.”, a residential school survivor, and other claimants involved in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) under the IRSSA, who have systematically been denied compensation under a category known as SL1 claims (which involve acts such as sexual touching). Some adjudicators were requiring IAP Claimants to prove the motive or sexual intent of a perpetrator in assessing these claims, which is a higher standard than that used under criminal law.

The Majority of the Supreme Court of Canada held that the initial adjudicator’s decision constituted an unauthorized modification of the IAP and this and other errors were compounded by the adjudicator’s misinterpretation of the criminal case law with respect to sexual assault. As a result, the adjudicator’s conduct amounted to a failure to apply or implement the terms of the Agreement, warranting judicial intervention to ensure that the benefits promised in the Agreement were delivered.

“This is an important decision by Canada’s highest court that will ensure the Settlement Agreement is respected and upheld,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya, who oversees the AFN’s work on residential schools. “In addition to respecting the agreement and the law, this will help ensure survivors of the schools are not unfairly burdened in their journey to justice and healing.”

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was initiated by the AFN and came into effect in 2007. It is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.

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

Territorial Integrity Quebec: You are Forgetting the Right of First Nations to Self-determination

Wendake, April 10, 2019 – After the National Assembly passed a motion on the territorial integrity of Quebec, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Mr. Ghislain Picard, reminds us that Indigenous Peoples have the right to selfdetermination.

“The Government of Quebec, in defending the territorial integrity of Quebec by denying our aboriginal and treaty rights, our Indigenous title and our political sovereignty, is blatantly ignorant. Must we remind you again that this ‘territory’ is still unceded indigenous land? It is not up to anyone but ourselves to decide our future. We will never accept that our self-determination be subordinated to that of another nation,” said Ghislain Picard, AFNQL Chief.

Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of this right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Moreover, Article 26 confirms that “Indigenous peoples have the right to lands, territories and resources that they have and traditionally occupy or have used or acquired.”

Chief Picard salutes the consistency of Québec Solidaire MPs who recognize that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are inescapable and non-negotiable. “The elected representatives in the National Assembly should all recognize that our peoples form separate nations with the right to freely choose their destiny and not be subjected to the will of another nation. Pretending the contrary shows a complete lack of respect towards our peoples,” concluded the AFNQL Chief.

You can consult the full text of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the following address:

Click to access UNDRIP_E_web.pdf

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. Follow us on Twitter @APNQL.

OPEN LETTER FROM THE NATIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

To address recent allegations against the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), we write this open letter to provide clarity, to ensure our voices are heard and to share our truths. We find that the reoccurring allegations against NWAC and its senior management unfounded, offensive and defamatory.

This is the second time the treatment of our staff is being questioned and is why we are coming forward publicly. Due to legal obligations and our ethics, we will not disclose personal information on any current or past employees to respect their privacy.

Any organization who works on Indigenous issues knows these matters are difficult, overwhelming and stressful. Due to the nature of our work, it is our duty to ensure we go above regular employer obligations to maintain a safe and secure workplace for the well-being of our staff.

At NWAC in particular, we work on emotional and disturbing topics including missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, forced and coerced sterilization, human trafficking and ongoing sex discrimination in the very laws that govern this country.

NWAC is very sensitive to the fact that the nature of our work exposes staff to content which can be emotionally tolling, cause stress, or trigger personal ties or lived experiences. Our staff are dedicated to advocating against the difficult issues Indigenous women face daily. It is our priority to ensure the well-being and safety of our staff, especially since they work on such upsetting content.

NWAC takes a culturally appropriate and trauma informed approach to all of our work, operations and human resources. To ensure we provide exceptional support to our employees, we have three full-time professional HR staff and on-site Elder support for approximately 60 staff. In order to appropriately address human resource issues, the on-site Elder also provides guidance and direction on internal matters.

We also infuse culture into our workplace. This includes Elder-led ceremonies, open and closing prayers at meetings and events, cultural teachings, smudging, beading, drumming and encourage staff to share their culture with co-workers.

NWAC wants to clarify questions regarding financial spending. We are completely transparent in all financial matters. Our audited financial statements are posted on our website for annual review. NWAC strictly complies to all contribution agreements and all spending is authorized by funders. Finally, any and all allegations against Lynne Groulx are unfounded. The continuous accusations are defamatory.

NWAC advocates, defends and supports all First Nations, status and non-status, Métis, Inuit and disenfranchised women, girls and gender-diverse people both externally and internally. We are committed to improving the lives and well-being of all Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. We hope this puts an end to these false allegations.

“Reclaiming OUR Voices” Nain set to host Inuit Elders Conference

Inuit elders will gather in Nain next week to give suggestions, make recommendations and provide solutions on a variety of issues affecting them on a regular basis.

Under the theme “Reclaiming OUR Voices”, the biennial event will also feature discussions on cultural activities and practices, as well as a day on the land. It will empower participants to remember and honor their strengths, to identify and address needs, issues and challenges, and to embrace positive change in Nunatsiavut.

“Our elders and senior play a very important role in our culture and way of life, and it is important that we engage with them as much as possible,” says Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe. “They are crucial in helping to maintain our language and traditions which they pass on to our youth, and they provide guidance and wisdom and a different perspective on the challenges Inuit face on a daily basis.

“The conference aims to develop stronger relationships between elders and others in our communities so that we can reclaim our voices and be heard stronger than before,” adds President Lampe.

The conference gets under way Monday evening with a meet and greet and wraps up with a feast on Thursday.