Topic: Today’s News

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Departure of Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from Liberal Caucus

April 3, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement to remove Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from Liberal caucus.

“I have expressed my disappointment with the departure of both Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from cabinet. Both leaders were assets to the cabinet table and have shown strong genuine interest in working directly with First Nations advancing our priorities. I commend both women for their integrity, courage and all their efforts to advance First Nations priorities to date. I hope they continue to contribute in their roles as independent Members of Parliament.

The events of the past few weeks raise serious concerns about the motivations and actions of this government. In order to regain First Nations’ trust, we must all recommit ourselves to reconciliation and I urge both the Government of Canada and all parliamentarians to focus on passing key First Nation legislative priorities in this session of parliament. This includes supporting a better future for First Nations children and families based on respect for our rights, languages, and cultures. First Nations priorities are good for First Nations and Canada.

Reconciliation is not about one political party or individual. It’s about all of us. We must all act to advance reconciliation in every avenue available to us. I will continue to advocate for the respect and implementation of First Nations rights and title and to close the gap between First Nations and Canada. “

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

B.C. government agency logging Vancouver Island’s last ancient stands into oblivion, say environmental groups

More than 1,300 hectares of old-growth clearcuts proposed across the island
In a review of BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) sales schedule, environmental organizations Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) and Sierra Club BC have found the provincial government agency is proposing cutblocks across the last intact old-growth rainforest areas on Vancouver Island adding up to more than 1,300 hectares. The area, equivalent to the size of more than three Stanley Parks, is intended to be auctioned for industrial clearcutting in 2019.

“Vancouver Island’s ancient rainforests have helped sustain Indigenous cultures, a vast array of plants and animals and a stable climate since the last ice age. The province shouldn’t risk eliminating rare species and plant communities across these blocks,” said Ross Muirhead, a forest campaigner with ELF who monitors BCTS’ logging developments. “Destroying the last great old-growth stands is a huge mistake that will be looked back upon by future generations as a huge travesty. Remaining intact forests are needed to create linkages within highly fragmented landscapes and to avoid tipping points when it comes to climate change and species extinction.”

The majority of the proposed cutblocks target intact productive rainforest ecosystems that have only a fraction of their original extent remaining. These areas are at high risk of losing the plant and animal species that depend on them.

The B.C. government does not share detailed information about how much old-growth remains in each ecosystem, how much is set aside or what a clear logging threshold should be to protect what’s left. Sierra Club BC data shows that industrial old-growth logging continues at a rate of more than three square metres per second, or about thirty-four soccer fields per day.

“B.C.’s forest stewardship amounts to flying blind into terminating the old-growth web of life,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s senior forest and climate campaigner. “Instead of liquidating the last ancient stands, B.C.’s forest stewardship should be focused on supporting good long term jobs in sustainable second-growth forestry and supporting First Nations that seek to protect more forests in their territories.”

The groups analyzed BCTS’ sales schedule for October 2018 to September 2019. Government data show the majority of the 1,300 hectares listed are forests with an age of 140–250 years. This means they have not previously been logged by industry and have most of the features of old-growth stands older than 250 years. As big trees older than 250 years become increasingly rare, trees older than 140 years become more important to protect as remaining habitat for old-growth dependent species like marbled murrelets and spotted owls.

The largest concentration of proposed cutblocks is near Sproat and Nahmint Lakes in Hupacasath and Tseshaht territories close to Port Alberni. Other areas are near Sayward (Ma’amtagila territory) and Gold River (Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory).

“Logging 1300 hectares of scarce, carbon-rich, old-growth forest is about the worst action a B.C. government agency could take for climate change mitigation and forest resilience on Vancouver Island. These clearcuts will release hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and destroy more temperate rainforest and diverse forms of life.” said Dr. Jim Pojar, ecologist and author of a milestone 2019 report on forestry and carbon.

Sierra Club BC and a number of other environmental organizations are calling for immediate action to protect remaining intact old-growth in order to safeguard threatened species, Indigenous values and a liveable climate. The NDP’s 2017 election platform included a commitment to act for old-growth, promising to take “an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.” But the B.C. government has not yet taken any meaningful steps to protect endangered coastal and inland old-growth ecosystems outside the Great Bear Rainforest.

Recently, the B.C. government stated that it is working on an old-growth strategy. However, environmental organizations have been waiting for details and timelines for months, including updates on what interim steps will be taken before almost all of the remaining endangered ancient forests are logged.

Government of Nunavut and Baffinland Iron Mines sign Memorandum of Understanding

Iqaluit, Nunavut (April 2, 2019) – Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, David Akeeagok and Brian Penney, President and CEO of Baffinland Iron Mines (Baffinland) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to maximize Inuit employment at the Mary River Mine.

The Memorandum of Understanding focuses on four priority areas for collaborationreducing barriers to employment; the development of employment and training opportunities; community wellness programs; and infrastructure and transportation.

“The Government of Nunavut strives to develop our infrastructure and economy in ways that support a positive future for our people, our communities and our land,” said Minister Akeeagok. “This Memorandum of Understanding ensures the Mary River Mine will continue to provide long-term benefits to Nunavut Inuit.”

“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is a direct result of the strong partnership between Baffinland and the Government of Nunavut,” said Brian Penney, president and CEO of Baffinland. “The Memorandum of Understanding provides a framework for continued collaboration, as we look to further develop the Mary River Mine, unlocking its wealth-generating potential to the benefit of all Nunavummiut.”

The agreement re-affirms the Government of Nunavut and Baffinland’s strategic partnership and commitment to promote responsible economic development.

Premier Savikataaq commomerates Nunavut’s 20th anniversary

Premier Joe Savikataaq today released the following statement:

“Twenty years ago today, the landscape of Canada changed forever, thanks to the resiliency, the ingenuity and the resolve of Nunavut Inuit.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since the creation of our territory. Twenty years since the realization of a powerful vision, the excitement and possibility, and the almost physical feeling of hope.

The reality of progress in Nunavut has not always been as swift as we’d hoped. But we have seen success, growth and tenacity, and have learned so much since 1999. We have come so far from where we started. We are growing – in our capacities, from lessons learned, in our partnerships and from each other.

Today, I hope you take the time to reflect on our successes – in the inspiration of our entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, in the passion of our Elders and advocates in Inuit language, culture and values, and in our communities where we foster support, understanding and accomplishments. This is our Nunavut. We are proud, and we are committed to realizing our potential and our goals.”

SUMMARY: Maxine Hayman Matilpi (Lakwa) and Barney Williams (Klith-wii-taa) join four other Elders-in-Residence offering support, traditional knowledge and spiritual guidance to students at the Nanaimo Campus.

SUMMARY: Maxine Hayman Matilpi (Lakwa) and Barney Williams (Klith-wii-taa) join four other Elders-in-Residence offering support, traditional knowledge and spiritual guidance to students at the Nanaimo Campus.

VIU MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday, March 28, 2019

NANAIMO, BC: Vancouver Island University (VIU) has two new Elders-in-Residence at the Nanaimo Campus.

Since the program started in the 1990s, VIU Elders-in-Residence have played an important role at the institution, providing cultural and spiritual guidance and other supports for students and employees, and supporting the use of Indigenous knowledge and language at the institution.

Maxine Hayman Matilpi (Lakwa) and Barney Williams (Klitch-wii-taa) are the institution’s newest Elders-in-Residence at the Nanaimo Campus.

Matilpi, of Kwakiutl/Ma’amtigilia and Scottish/English descent, also works for Vancouver-based West Coast Environmental Law as the project lead for the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) project. Through this project, she works with First Nations around the province to articulate traditional laws, finding principles of laws within ancient stories.

Aside from a career as a lawyer, Matilpi has a diverse and wide-ranging career background – she’s also been a paramedic, first aid attendant in a logging camp, can-can girl in Dawson City, midwife, fitness instructor, marriage commissioner, chief negotiator for a First Nation, Elder-in-Residence at North Island College and university professor at VIU.

She remembers how important Elder support is for students from when she studied at VIU in the mid-1990s, when it was Malaspina University-College.

“Doing the Arts One program here was really grounding for me, it strengthened my identity before I went to law school at the University of Victoria,” she says.

Now that Matilpi is back at VIU – this time in her Elder-in-Residence capacity – she’s excited to help students realize their educational goals.

“I remember, when I first decided I wanted to go to law school, being afraid to say it out loud,” she reflects. “When I was growing up, I didn’t know any lawyers. I can be that person for students. It’s an opportunity to give back and provide mentorship for students.”

Barney Williams (Klitch-wii-taa), a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Meares Island near Tofino, is also a VIU alumnus – he received his diploma in social work in 1973.

As a young boy, Williams was taken from his family and put in residential school. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after this experience, he turned to alcohol. Eventually, he sought a career first as a social worker and then as a counsellor, helping others with similar experiences.

“I came out of school beaten, downtrodden and really messed up for quite a few years,” he remembers. “As a result, I’ve devoted part of my career to investigating post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects residential school survivors.”

In his quest to help others deal with the effects of residential school, Williams worked for the federal government for 17 years as a social worker, travelling to different communities up and down Vancouver Island and the West Coast. Then he started working at an addictions treatment centre in Williams Lake and became a registered clinical therapist. For eight years, Williams travelled across Canada with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as one of the Indian Residential School Survivor Committee’s Elder advisors.

“Listening to the thousands of stories, we all realized that we had gone through the same thing. It had the effect of reminding many of us how important family is,” says Williams, who received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Victoria in 2017 for his reconciliation work.

Fluent in the Nuu-cha-nulth language, Williams continues to live a traditional lifestyle. He served as a Traditional Keeper of the Beach for his nation for more than 60 years, passing the role to his son in 2015. Williams continues to seek ways to teach mental health from a traditional perspective and blend Western and Indigenous mental health treatments. He loves interacting with students, one of whom is his granddaughter, helping them through difficulties and providing cultural support.

“I believe it’s important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike to maintain a sense of knowing who they are and where they come from,” he says. “What I like about being here is you never know what your day is going to look like.”

Sylvia Scow, Aboriginal Projects Coordinator and Elder Support, says Matilpi and Williams bring a breadth of experiences and expertise to VIU for the benefit of students and employees.

“They bring so much in terms of their knowledge, their personalities and their abilities to provide support – not just academic support, but love,” she says. “Their willingness and capacity to share this love and cultural and academic support has a transformative effect on student lives.”


Photo Caption: Maxine Hayman Matilpi (Lakwa) and Barney Williams (Klitch-wii-taa) are the institution’s newest Elders-in-Residence at the Nanaimo Campus. Photo Credit: Vancouver Island University

What the Federal Budget Forgot

Wendake, March 21, 2019 – The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is reacting to the release of the federal budget. This budget confirms amounts totalling nearly 4.1 billion of dollars over five years in sectors such as Indigenous languages, drinking water, child welfare services (Jordan’s Principle), land claims and post-secondary education. Although these amounts allow for improvement at certain levels, the absence of new investments in public security and housing deserves to be emphasized.

“Through repeated cabinet representations, we have repeatedly declared the emergency of the situation in public safety. We have made it clear that police services in our communities must be recognized as an essential service through a law to ensure that funding is guaranteed, equally to other policing services, ” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations QuebecLabrador (AFNQL).

In addition, adequate housing is an essential and undeniable determinant that helps to bridge gaps at all levels in our communities. Unfortunately, it is left out of the budget.

“The safety of our members deserves more than a program without financial guarantee. Housing is not a whim. Equity is a fundamental right. Structural needs are the forgotten of the federal budget and to reconcile the living conditions of Indigenous peoples, in the respect of our Aboriginal and treaty rights, much work remains to be done, concluded the Chief of the AFNQL Ghislain Picard.

Indigenous youth get $15.2 Million boost in federal budget

TORONTO — Indigenous youth are the future leaders of their communities and the country’s fastest growing demographic. We are pleased by the trust that the Government has placed in Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) to progress the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 66 and are excited about this $15.2 million investment in the ideas, initiative, and leadership of young people.

Over the next three years, CRE will ensure that the voices of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth are heard through the launch of a national network of Indigenous youth. Through this funding, reconciliation-focused activities will be organized across Canada in partnership with local communities, grassroots movements, and organizations.

Indigenous youth have been waiting a long time for an investment like this,” said Max FineDay, Executive Director of CRE. “Now the real work begins to address the challenges and opportunities that exist for young people today, and for Canada.”

For over 10 years, Canadian Roots Exchange has shaped the conversation around what reconciliation means to young people in this country. Through leadership programs, regional and national gatherings, and community exchanges, CRE has brought together thousands of youth.

2019 Federal Budget Provides Sustained Investments for Continued Momentum and Progress for First Nations: AFN National Chief Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the federal budget tabled today in Ottawa includes key sustained investments that continue to support success for First Nations children and First Nations governments.

“This federal budget shows important and sustained investments to advance First Nations priorities as a result of sustained advocacy by First Nations and the AFN, and that’s good for First Nations and Canada,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The investments in First Nations children through Jordan’s Principle, funding for First Nations languages, safe drinking water, emergency services, land claims, economic development and other areas will help close the gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada. They will build healthier First Nations, stronger governments and a stronger Canada.  Now it’s time to keep up the momentum to ensure we see results on the ground – in our nations, in our homes and in our families.”

The federal budget released today includes 24 measures for Indigenous peoples, totalling approximately $4.7 billion aimed at a range of initiatives, including languages, post-secondary education, education, economic participation, emergency management, implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, water, health and well-being. The budget also identifies commitments to loan forgiveness and reimbursement in the area of comprehensive claims and funding for research in specific claims.  Specific commitments to support Jordan’s Principle will supplement AFN’s ongoing advocacy efforts for adequate support for its implementation. 

Investments over the last four budgets total more than $21 billion, which is four times what the Kelowna Accord committed to in 2006.

AFN is conducting a full analysis on investments that will be made available in coming days.

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

NACCA’s Indigenous Business Awards of Excellence showcase Aboriginal Financial Institutions’ impact on communities

OTTAWA /CNW/ – At the inaugural Indigenous Economic Prosperity Forum, six companies were honoured with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) Indigenous Business Awards of Excellence.

Nominated by Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs), these awards showcase the strength and resilience of First Nations, Inuit and Métis entrepreneurs across Canada. NACCA CEO Shannin Metatawabin is clear that, “by any standard, Indigenous entrepreneurs impact more than just the bottom line. All six winners have a substantial impact on their local community, not only through employment but the larger social impact of improved health, bringing pride to families, and building local economies.”

For the 2019 NACCA Indigenous Business Awards of Excellence there are four categories, and the first award was presented by the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion.  She proudly presented Shelley Stewart with the Indigenous Woman Entrepreneur Award of Excellence. Shelley, a member of the Upper Nicola Band in BC, owns and manages Bar S Ventures, which operates trucks and equipment in the logging industry.

The second award of the evening was for the Indigenous Community Business of the Year.  This was presented by Mr. Michael Denham, CEO at BDC, to our co-winners Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake QC, and Askiy Apoy Hauling located in Onion Lake Cree Nation on the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Kendal Netmaker, from Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan, was awarded the Indigenous Youth Entrepreneur Award, presented by Susan Margles, Senior VP at Canada Post. Kendal owns and operates Neechie Gear as well as Netmaker Enterprises.

Our final category was Business of the Year and the two co-winners were presented their awards by Jay-Ann Gilfoy, CEO at Vancity Community Investment Bank. Faron and Tammy Calihoo received their award for Commanchero’s Trucking and Contracting Ltd based in Spruce Grove AB. Robert and Katherine Tebb, Métis entrepreneurs from Regina, took home the final award as owner/operator of Xtended Hydraulics & Machine.

The NACCA Indigenous Business Awards of Excellence represent an important milestone in the 59 AFIs’ history of working together coast-to-coast-to-coast to help their local communities. AFIs support Indigenous entrepreneurs, with over $100M in loans annually. Over 1250 businesses last year received financing and mentorship support.

NACCA is a network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) that provide financing and support to First Nations, Métis and Inuit businesses in all provinces and territories. NACCA works to build partnerships and develop economic growth for Indigenous people in Canada. NACCA is similar to BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), but able to meet distinct needs of the Indigenous entrepreneurs.  Learn more and download high-res photos of the winners at

Tŝilhqot’in Nation Calls on Supporters in Wake of Court Decision Gathering for Sacred Water planned on March 22

Williams Lake, BC: The Tŝilhqot’in Nation will be seeking a further injunction from the BC Court of Appeal on March 22nd in order to halt a drilling program approved for Teẑtan Biny and surrounding area, an area of profound cultural and spiritual importance for the Tŝilhqot’in people. The Nation calls on all supporters to attend in solidarity for the environment, human rights and Indigenous peoples across Canada. The court hearing and an evening Gathering for Sacred Water coincide with the United Nations’ World Water Day.

The drilling permit was issued by the outgoing B.C. Liberal Government in 2017 for the stated purpose of advancing Taseko’s New Prosperity mine proposal – despite the fact that the Federal Government has twice rejected this project and it cannot be built.

On March 1, 2019, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued a judgment recognizing that the Teẑtan Biny area is an active cultural school for the Tŝilhqot’in, a resting place for ancestors, a site for spiritual and ceremonial activities and “a place of unique and special significance for the Tŝilhqot’in cultural identity and heritage.”  The Court of Appeal even stated that a decision by government to reject the drilling program “may well have been reasonable,” but nonetheless upheld the provincial approval for this extensive drilling program.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is applying to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal this judgment.

The area in which the extensive drilling permit has been issued is a site of proven Aboriginal rights to hunt, fish and trap and adjacent to an area of proven and recognized Aboriginal title.

The approval of this permit in the face of such severe cultural and spiritual impacts for the Tŝilhqot’in people is a direct violation of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the current Provincial government has committed to implement and legislate. Taseko Mines Ltd. has informed the Tŝilhqot’in that they intend to begin the drill program on March 19, 2019. The Tŝilhqot’in have requested that the company hold off on their work until the injunction hearing is heard on March 22. To date the company has refused to stand down.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation calls on everyone to stand up for future generations and show support at the court hearing or at a special event in the evening in Vancouver. Drummers, Elders and leaders will gather outside the BC Court of Appeal (800 Hornby St #400, Vancouver, BC) from 8:30am-9:15am before entering the court room. In the evening of March 22nd, the Tŝilhqot’in will co-host a Gathering for Sacred Water. More details to follow on the Tŝilhqot’in National Government’s Facebook page.