Topic: NEWS

Siksika First Nation Evacuates Members from Sudden Wild Fires


 

Siksika First Nation – Wild Fires forced the evacuation in approximately 8 or more communities across Southern Alberta on Tuesday, October 17th. Those communities, included the Siksika First Nation, where no casualties were reported, but homes were destroyed by the wild fires. Extreme high winds was one of the main cause for the out of control fires.It was reported that one Elderly man had burns to his head and hands as he tried to fight the fire that nearly burned his home. Elders and young children had to be evacuated, some had no transportation.

Ruben (Buck) Breaker, Siksika First Nation councilor posted on his Facebook, that those with breathing problems and medical conditions, all these people, and countless others had a very traumatic day.

“Words cannot express the efforts of our Siksika fire fighters, as well as surrounding fire crews who helped out. These folks are the real heroes in yesterday’s devastation. Our fire fighters don’t get enough credit for the job they do. Prayers to our neighbors in and around the town of Gleichen, as they suffered damage as well.”

A True Water Protector


 
Though Autumn Peltier just turned 13-years-old, this young girl has already made quite the impact with her views on the environment, especially her passion for Canada’s water.

Autumn is from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario and has been interested in the environment her entire life.

Her advocacy for protecting water began at 8-years-old when she entered a writing contest in her community.

Stephanie Peltier is Autumn’s mother, said Autumn entered and won a Odawa/Ojibwe language native speaking contest.

“She chose to write on ‘water’ and the essay was received well enough for her to win that contest,” said Stephanie Peltier, who works full time with Raising the Spirit Mental Wellness Program. “From there, she won another writing contest, which eventually caught the attention of organizers of the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, where she was invited to attend.”

Peltier says she is very proud of what her daughter is accomplishing and supports her 100 percent.

“She is very deserving of it. This is her passion. She is always writing about water and the environment,” said Peltier. “Like the other day, I asked her, ‘Do you mind me asking what you’re writing about?’ and Autumn said, ‘I just had a thought and an idea, and I want it write it down.’”

As a parent, Peltier says the attention her daughter is receiving is overwhelming, but her priorities are being balanced when it comes to Autumn. Of course Peltier does tell Autumn there are people out there who do not share the same views as hers.

“She does not have access to social media, so she’s not fully aware of the impact she is creating,” said Peltier. “I want to steer her away from some of the negative comments that some people post on social media, and at the same time share with her the positive feedback.”

Autumn was eight years old when she gave her first speech about the universal right to clean drinking water. Since then, she has worked as an advocate for protecting natural water resources.

Her efforts include working toward the treaty signing against the expansion of oil sands to lobbying world leaders for water protection at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden.

Autumn is now in the running for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She is the only Canadian up for the prestigious award where the top ten finalists will be chosen November 10th. Then, on December 4th, the Peace Prize will be awarded to the winner in Amsterdam,
Netherlands.


 

When I had the opportunity to chat with Autumn I learned she is an intelligent and well-spoken young girl, and asked for her thoughts on being considered for the Peace Prize.

“If I do win the award, I will use that as a platform to further educate people about the current state of water and continue my advocacy on the issues of water and environment protection,” Autumn said. “When I think about how polluted the water is, I think of future generations. Will they even have clean drinking water? Water is alive and has a spirit, and like water is so sacred.”

Autumn also spoke about meeting Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

“I was only supposed to present him with the water bundle as a gift,” said Autumn. “But at that moment when I met him, I took the opportunity to tell him that I was very unhappy about the broken promises he has made towards our people and discouraged about the pipeline and how unsafe they are towards our environment.”

Autumn said that the Prime Minister told her, “I understand that and I will protect the water.”

Autumn said her 8th grade classmates at Waase Abin Pontiac School watch her sometimes on livestream and they support and share her views on protecting the water. Autumn said she is grateful for their support.

Among her many accomplishments, she recently addressed the Assembly of First Nations and told the First Nation leaders her sadness over the state of water, not only in Canada, but around the world.

Autumn is the middle sister of three. Her older sister is named Naomi and is 19. Her younger sister is Ciara, and she is 11.

Autumns’s favourite subjects are literature and mathematics, and she plans to attend law school and study political science.

“My dream one day is to be AFN National Chief and Minister of Environment,” said Autumn.

Editorial: Thoughts on Reconciliation

A Journalism student, also host of Avocado Days a one-hour show on Calgary’s 90.9 CJSW FM Radio

Reconciliation, in it’s most basic definition, is when two opposing parties agree to an amicable truce. This is best done when both parties are open to exploring different ways of doing things. With this openness to learn, a dialogue is created, and a kind of symbiosis occurs between the two sides. They are now forming thoughts, beliefs, plans, and ideas together. They are changing. They are growing. They are becoming one.

Genuine reconciliation is best achieved through the cooperation of all, and cannot be the sole responsibility of our government, administrative heads, or “Her Majesty the Queen”.

“Each person has an important role to play in reconciliation. Reconciliation begins with oneself and then extends into our families, relationships, workplaces, and eventually into our communities,” expresses Reconciliation Canada, a First Nation-led organization that strives to build a better relationship among all Canadians. Their “Walk For Reconciliation” in Vancouver on September 24th encourages people to be as one, transforming and renewing the archaic race barriers legislated inside all treaties made by the Canadian government. These race barriers include enforcing the First Nations to be on reservations, accept rations, to abide by the laws of “Her Majesty the Queen”, and to acknowledge “Christ the Lord” as the single spiritual divinity.

All of this is still here today. The government and law enforcement mandate the use of the Bible – pledging themselves to tell the truth under “God”. Laws are enforced upon us, and we now dwell in this society riddled with rules and regulations. The First Nation reserves received rations way back when. They got food, building supplies, a promise to be educated (which took on the form of residential schooling), money, ammunition, farming assistance, freedom to hunt, and the bare minimum of essentials to live in the society that was going to be built around them.

Living in that exact society today, we receive money from past promises – for secondary education, building houses, health, and reserve operations. We also receive money as a form of apology. The government feels that each hundred they give will eventually clean the blood off their hands. This money is put into the hands of Chief and Council, whose ancestors blood it was. They take it and use it for whatever, and it never feels right. They keep doing it, anyways, because what else are they going to do? Fight about it? That’s been done. Fighting just doesn’t work. For now, they know what once was is gone forever, and it is important to move on. So we accept the money, but there’s something always missing in every cent spent, and every cent spent sedates us more and more. Today, we’ve become comfortable in this new system of wealth, and it rules our every move, and every decision. We’re a colonized nation inside Canada.

This is not to say that there aren’t positive aspects of colonization. International trade is a thing of beauty, and to travel overseas in a matter of hours is, too. Playgrounds of knowledge (universities, colleges, technical institutes) exist now – we can learn anything! We’ve got the internet, bikes, coffee, pizza, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, films, a diverse array of music, books, clothing, and art. However, we cannot be blinded by these material indulgences and conveniences. There are terrible things that have happened so we can have these things. We’ve hurt Mother Earth, used Her, abused Her, and have decided that we can pave over Her. We’ve decided that we do not need Her to make decisions, and all we need is man-made things like oil refineries, and food, clothing, and supply industries. We’ve become a nation divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and wealth. We abide by land borders, “Her Majesty’s” law, and westernized governing systems.

Things are getting better, though. First Nation led movements such as Idle No More, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and pipeline protests have seen a surge in media presence. This has given First Nations more visibility, and therefore more of an opportunity to speak and be heard. Non First Nation people are listening, and are becoming less and less ignorant to what has happened in the past. They hear the truth, want to learn more, and to understand how to reconcile.

It is impossible to get back all that once was, but we can accept what has happened, and move forward together. That is why education is so important. It provides all with the opportunity to learn of the effects of colonization. The good, and the bad. It allows all to understand what previous First Nation leaders meant when they signed the treaties. It was an agreement to coexist peacefully, and move forward together in partnership. It was not meant to have “Her Majesty the Queen” dictate all.

Today, we have more of an ability then ever before to reach a symbiosis of thoughts, and form new ways of peaceful coexistence. How do we do this? I think it would be through acceptance. That’s important. Education is, too. Community building, and paying mind that community matters – that’s very important. Not thinking selfishly. Not thinking you’re above Mother Earth. Not thinking you’re above anyone. Not caring so much of material possessions. Being open to learn. Opening yourself to new ways of doing things. Teaching. Listening. Communicating.

By moving forward with these things in mind, I think we will get closer to genuine reconciliation and coming to that amicable truce. It won’t have to be written or told or legislated, no. Instead, it will feel natural, swirling in the air, filling us with a sweet, warm, calming connectedness. Until then, let’s keep trying to create that air.

Walk for Reconciliation 2017


 

A Historic Moment
This is a historic moment for all of us. 2017 is a year of significant reflection as we recognize 150 years since Canadian confederation. 2017 comes amidst a period of heightened social awareness and momentum around reconciliation, including the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in 2015, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our recently released National Narrative on Reconciliation Report. Now is a critical time to embrace reconciliation.

“Canada 150” alludes to two vastly different narratives and holds different meanings to the people in Canada. As we know, Canada’s history stretches much longer than the 150 years since Canadian confederation and as we stand here in this time and place, we reflect that there is a broken relationship amongst us that needs nurturing. From the creation of the Indian Act and the legacy of the residential school system felt by generations of Indigenous communities, there is a deep wound within our people that needs to be addressed. That is why we are all here—to continue initiating conversation with all of the people in our country to bring reconciliation to the forefront. If we can all reconcile ourselves as human beings, we hold the hope that the next 150 years will be brighter.

Over the past few years, Reconciliation Canada has engaged with Canadians across the Nation to bring reconciliation to the forefront from coast to coast to coast. We have held National Reconciliation Gatherings in Vancouver, Membertou, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Whitehorse and Montreal. With each initiative, we hope to expand perspectives and understandings of reconciliation and provide a space that allows for individual transformation and renewed relationships.

On September 22nd 2013, Reconciliation Canada hosted the first Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver and 70,000 people braved the pouring rain to walk in support for reconciliation. We heard from many of the survivors that attended the walk that they were brought to tears by the immense support that their communities displayed. Additionally, in 2015 Reconciliation Canada, in partnership with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, held the second Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa.

Earlier this year, Reconciliation Canada conducted the National Narrative Report on Reconciliation. The results of this national report revealed that Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians are in agreement on a number of aspects about reconciliation, notably the value of acknowledging the contribution that Indigenous peoples make to Canadian society, the need to provide greater opportunity and equality for Indigenous people, as well as the need for reconciliation. Following this report, we hosted the National Thought Table which gathered Thought Leaders from across the nation to share their perspectives on a range of issues regarding reconciliation. We also hosted “In the Sprit of Reconciliation: An Intergenerational Gathering”, where spiritual leaders, elders and youth gathered to reflect on the spiritual aspect of reconciliation. All of our engagement this year has been leading up to our signature Canada 150+ event—The Walk for Reconciliation.


 

Walk for Reconciliation 2017
This September 24th, we will once again gather together in the streets of downtown Vancouver to walk for reconciliation and highlight the intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools, as well as honor survivors and intergenerational survivors. The Walk for Reconciliation is designed to raise awareness and help every participant see how reconciliation is relevant to them. The event highlights the unique history and cultures of the city and it is an event for people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and faiths. The act of walking and sharing our stories can join us all in a shared commitment to creating a new way forward in our relationships.

This year, we hope to match our previous participation numbers and display our support for the reconciliation movement. We will begin our walk at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, walk across the viaducts, end in Strathcona Park. The route will be two kilometers long and is welcome to all.

The Walk for Reconciliation will culminate in Strathcona park where we will be hosting the first Reconciliation Expo! At the Expo, there will be community booths which will include information regarding reconciliation, experiential cultural activities, and a range of presentations from community groups, indigenous organizations, and multicultural groups. Additionally, there will be an area dedicated to local artisans, a place for children to play educational games, a space for Indigenous craft making, as well as a variety of Vancouver based food-trucks serving ethnically diverse foods. On the main stage there will be captivating performances including live singing, dancing and various displays of local artwork and most notably, there will be an address from a keynote speaker.

Walk with us
We urge Indigenous peoples across this country to attend the Walk for Reconciliation as a celebration of strength and resilience. By displaying openness, generosity and love, Indigenous peoples in Canada will continue to show leadership in the reconciliation movement. In return, we can be met with open hearts and minds when discussing past and present inequalities that we must work towards amending.

We extend our hand to you to join us for the Walk for Reconciliation in the spirit of ‘Namwayut—we are all one. On September 24th, we invite you to join us to walk for the missing, for those who have gone, for loved ones, for justice, and for healing. We will walk to remember the intergenerational lives taken, to honour survivors and to acknowledge those impacted by the Indian residential school system. Together, we will walk for reconciliation.

How we build relationships today affects our next generations. We can all take this monumental opportunity to embrace a space for openness and real dialogue to create a mutual vision for the future based on the values of justice and equality for all. In doing so, we recognize our common humanity and the shared hopes and aspirations we have for the place we live.


 

How to get involved
If you would like to further become involved with Reconciliation Canada and receive the most up to date information regarding the Walk and our other initiatives, we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter. Additionally, you can follow this link to sign up as an individual or as a team member for the Walk, or go to www.reconciliationcanada.ca to sign up to volunteer or donate. Follow us on social media by searching @Rec_Can on twitter, @reconciliationcanada on Instagram, and Reconciliation Canada on Facebook. Feel free to tweet us and share your photos and comments with us as we would love to hear from you!

Historic National Gathering of Elders to be held in Amiskwaci-waskahikan, the Traditional Gathering Place of Indigenous Peoples

Treaty 6 Territory August 11, 2017: The first ever National Gathering of Elders 2017 will be held September 11 – 14, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

The Gathering marks the first time in Canada’s history that elders and seniors from every region and Indigenous group will come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. Building on the theme ‘Coming Home, Voices of Elders,’ the National Gathering of Elders will be a place for laughter and the sharing of culture, traditions, history, and an opportunity for the creation of long lasting connections.

First Nations, Metis and Inuit Elders from all across Canada, as well as youth and the general public are all invited to this historic event. Planned activities include opening and closing ceremonies featuring a parade of Nations, health and wellness sessions, Indigenous art exhibits, a tradeshow, and discussion forums on climate change, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, revitalization of Indigenous languages and culture, and reconciliation. There will be an intercultural showcase, Indigenous entertainers, a talent show, cultural excursions and dance socials.

“Amiskwaci-waskahikan,” which in Cree translates into Beaver Hills House, was known as a Gathering Place for Indigenous Peoples from all across Turtle Island. Fort Edmonton was established near this Gathering Place in the late 1700’s. In time, Fort Edmonton grew to become Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. Located within the Treaty 6 Territory, Edmonton is still a Gathering Place for Indigenous Peoples, so it is fitting that the inaugural National Gathering of Elders will be held in Amiskwaci-waskahikan.

The 2017 National Gathering of Elders was the vision of Chief Rupert Meneen, Tallcree Tribal Government and Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations (Alberta), and is the culmination of twelve months of planning, spearheaded by a National Gathering of Elders Advisory Council and a core group of organizers from Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 First Nations (Alberta), the Metis Nation of Alberta, Metis Settlements General Council. Inuit Edmonton and the Assembly of First Nations – Alberta.


 

Canada 150+ Signature Events Unveiled

The events will showcase the vibrant living culture of our three Host Nations—the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh—as well as traditional and contemporary arts from the Urban Aboriginal and Métis people of Vancouver and beyond.

The nine-day Drum is Calling Festival set for July 22-30 in Larwill Park is one of three signature events planned for this year. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Festival Artistic Director Margo Kane today announced the unique Indigenous and diverse cultural programming for this festival.

Some festival headliners include: Buffy Sainte-Marie, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Star, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet and musician Shane Koyczan.

“Vancouver is proud to be a City of Reconciliation and commemorating our heritage this Canada 150+ year in partnership with our host First Nations, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver’s ‘plus’ in our Canada 150+ celebrations recognizes the heritage of our land before 150 years, our journey to the present, and moving forward with mutual understanding and respect with our local First Nations and Urban Aboriginal community. I encourage all Vancouverites to experience the music, traditions, art and more of our Host Nations at one of our many events this year.”

During the program unveiling some of the speakers included Chief Wayne Sparrow from Musqueam Nation, Chief Ian Campbell from Squamish Nation and Chief Maureen Thomas from Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Additional highlights during the Drum is Calling Festival will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata installation.

Indigenous Fashion Week (July 26–29), is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitten and will feature the super-stars and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling.

The first signature event of 2017 will be the opportunity to witness a landing of the Pulling Together Canoe Journey at the Gathering of Canoes on July 14.  Up to 30 canoes—with First Nations, Public Service Agencies and youth paddlers—will request permission to land on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

During the third signature event, tens of thousands of Vancouverites are also expected to participate in the second-ever Walk for Reconciliation on September 24. In partnership with Reconciliation Canada and as part of the legacy of the inspirational Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C., the walk will remind Vancouverites of the healing and transformational power of ‘Namwayut — We Are All One’.

More details about The City of Vancouver’s Canada 150+ programming are available on the program’s website: www.canada150plus.ca.

BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative Funding for 2017-18

Vancouver – The New Relationship Trust (NRT), partnered with Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI), has allocated $1,200,000 of federal funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year of the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI).

Eligible BCICEI projects could receive support through contributions up to $150,000 in assisted project costs; however, project support levels will be determined based on demand for funds and the strength of applications. Categories of project development phases under the BCICEI include:

  • Feasibility and Site Selection
  • Environmental Review and Permitting
  • Project Design and Engineering
  • Demand Side Management

The BCICEI funding will support community projects that follow the completion of community engagement (such as a community energy plan), including those needed to secure an electricity purchase agreement and/or to attract debt and equity financing to enable project construction. Demand for BCICEI funds is high, therefore 2017-18 priority will go to project applications that:

  • Demonstrate readiness and viability through agreements and/or partnerships required for construction and commissioning;
  • Create opportunities for communities to gain experience and build capacity with clean energy or energy efficiency project development, including pilot projects; and/or
  • Support clean energy development in remote, off-grid, or diesel dependent communities

The BCICEI funding will provide support for planning and implementation of clean energy projects, such as hydro, wind, biomass, solar, marine, or geothermal technologies. Other initiatives may include energy efficiency projects, energy storage, and reducing dependency on conventional diesel power generation.
 

Open Date for Applications
April 19, 2017
Close Date for Applications
May 24, 2017

 

“NRT is pleased to partner with Western Diversification Canada to deliver this clean energy initiative throughout British Columbia. We have found that First Nation communities in BC have embraced clean energy projects enthusiastically and look for sustainable options to create economic opportunities while respecting the environment.”
-Cliff Fregin, Chief Executive Officer, New Relationship Trust

The new 2017/18 BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI) Guidelines and Application are available on the NRT website:
http://www.newrelationshiptrust.ca/initiatives/special-projects/clean-energy-initiative

The Legacy of Standing Rock

By THOMAS FITZGERALD

The Dakota Pipeline battle is over and the smoke has cleared at Standing Rock, and once again history records another injustice, one more in a long train of abuses perpetrated upon First Nations people by a North American government.

Since First Nations Drum last report on Standing Rock was published late November of last year, winter arrived and camp population dwindled to a few hundred people. In January, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault called for camps to disband, citing harsh weather conditions and possible contamination of the Missouri River during the coming spring flood.

Authorities set the deadline for all protestors to evacuate both camps – Sacred Stone Camp, and, Oceti Sakowin Camp – for February 22. In a news release one day prior to the deadline, Minnesota Governor Doug Burgum announced people were being allowed to leave voluntarily.

“You know that our big ask for tomorrow is anyone remaining in the camp, we want to make sure that they know they have an opportunity to voluntarily leave. Take your belongings, remove anything that may be culturally significant and we’ll help you get on your way if you need to do that,” Burgum was quoted by CNN.

Most protestors, about 100, obliged, and left voluntarily. However, 33 persons were arrested the following day for refusal to comply with the government’s demand, this according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. According to North Dakota authorities, an additional 23 people were arrested during site cleanup, bringing the total number of persons arrested to 55. On February 24, one day after the deadline to evacuate expired, via social media – Twitter – the Morton County Sheriff’s Department declared the camp cleared just after 2 p.m.

Directional drilling under Lake Oahe is complete and Dakota Access intends to place the pipeline into service on May 14 of this year. Lake Oahe is located one half mile upstream from the Sioux tribe’s Standing Rock Reservation. The Dakota Pipeline does not cross Sioux land but at it nearest point comes within about 150 meters from Standing Rock Reservation.

Sacred Stone Camp was founded by Standing Rock’s Historic Preservation Officer, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, in April 2016, and served as the center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline.

The change in season to warm summer weather brought with it an increase in the number of protestors. At its peak Sacred Stone became home to 10,000 people. This lead to the creation of an overflow camp, the Oceti Sakowin Camp (the Lakȟótiyapi name for the Great Sioux Nation or Seven Fires Council). Oceti Sakowin was the camp closest to where the pipeline runs beneath the Missouri River.

History Between the US Government and Great Sioux Nation

Land belonging to the Great Sioux Nation was taken by the US government by authority of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. The Sioux were restricted to land east of the Missouri River and the State line of South Dakota to the west. The Black Hills, sacred land to the Sioux, were awarded to the tribe.

The infamous General George Custer led his 7th Calvary into the Black Hills in 1874 in direct violation of the treaty. With Custer’s discovery of gold in the Black Hills, a “Gold Rush” ensued leading the US government to seek negotiations to rent or buy the Black Hills from the rightful owners – the Lakota Sioux.

Lakota Sioux spiritual leader Sitting Bull led his peoples’ opposition against acceptance of further encroachment upon, and theft of, their ancestral land leading to another war between a First Nations tribe defending their land against a US federal government looking to take it.

The Great Sioux War of 1876, or, the Black Hills War, included the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, and ended in 1877. The war was not without a significant victory for indigenous forces. It was at the Battle of Little Bighorn where Custer met his demise. Known as Custer’s Last Stand, the battle was an overwhelming victory for the Plains “Indians.”

As happened throughout U.S. history, superior resources enabled the US federal government to have its way, forcing the Sioux to surrender. The US government employed a common tactic when combating a First Nations people – attack and destroy encampments and property. The Agreement of 1877 ending the Black Hills War included a provision allowing the US government to steal the Black Hills away from the Sioux Nation.

T’Sou-ke First Nations Lead the Way in Solar Energy

Car charging station at T’Sou-ke Band Office. Source: <a href="http://www.tsoukenation.com" target="_blank">www.tsoukenation.com</a>.

Car charging station at T’Sou-ke Band Office. Source: www.tsoukenation.com.


by Frank Larue

“We made the decision, which is really easy, that it’s a light footprint approach, and we did that for our children. It’s all about future generations.” T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes told the CBC.

Located just outside Victoria, B.C., the T’Sou-ke First Nation may be a native Band of only 250 members but they are numero uno when it comes to solar energy. Having operated on a solar micro grid for the last ten years, their solar energy program was made possible thanks to the Comprehensive Community Planning, which is run by Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

The T’Souke Band solar energy program is based upon a list four priority pillars – energy, autonomy, food, self-sufficiency and cultural renaissance – and is built on the premise that it does not use more power than it produces. And selling power to BC Hydro brings the T’Sou-ke a financial return.

The Band offers eco-tourism tours that have attracted politicians, thousands of visitors interested in solar power, and several native leaders, including four chiefs from Manitoba making the trek to find out firsthand about solar energy and its benefits. The Band also offers workshops demonstrating how solar energy works.

Solar panels at work. Source: <a href="http://www.tsoukenation.com" target="_blank">www.tsoukenation.com</a>

Solar panels at work.
Source: www.tsoukenation.com

The benefit to solar energy over traditional energy sources was clear to Chief Planes, who, regarding the money that will be saved by adopting solar energy, said, “You’re going to look at a huge cost in the future if they’ve gotta’ start flying fuel in.”

The T’Souke also are involved in specialized agriculture. They own three greenhouses and grow Wasabi, a plant that stimulates nasal passages and is known as the Japanese horseradish. Although Wasabi is more popular in the USA and Europe than it is in Canada, the Band’s first Wasabi harvest was worth $100,000 and the Band now grows Wasabi on a yearly basis.

The T’Souke Band have one more project that is a work in progress. They want to save the Olympia oyster, which is listed as an endangered species. “There are not many left in our harbor We need to bring them back, full circle. The community will tackle anything that ensures the environment will be better for future generations and children yet to be born,” said Chief Planes. “It is important to bring everyone along and that whatever we envision, that we have the whole community behind it.”

Brenda Butterworth-Carr First Aboriginal Woman Promoted to Commanding Officer of the RCMP

by Frank Larue

Brenda Butterworth-Carr

Brenda Butterworth-Carr is the first Indigenous woman to head the RCMP’s B.C. division. (RCMP)

Born in the Yukon, a member of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in Han Nation, Brenda Butterworth-Carr has been a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for 30 years.

“I’ve always kept in my mind why I joined the organization in the first place and that was to influence and affect positive change. I come from a First Nation where we strive for equality,” said Butterworth-Carr.

Butterworth-Carr’s career began in the Yukon in 1987 as one member of a three person detachment.

After the Yukon she went on to serve in the National HQ in Ottawa, followed by a tour of duty in Saskatchewan where she was eventually promoted to commanding officer.

“Her career has been diverse and has provided her with a strong understanding of the provincial, municipal and First Nations service agreements,” Public Safety Minister Mike Morris told the CBC.

When Butterworth-Carr returned to British Columbia in 2016 she did so as Officer in charge of Criminal Operations Core Policing.

“My experience has lent credibility to what I bring to the organization, from the smallest detachments in the north to larger municipal detachments, and certainly on a national level,” Butterworth-Carr is quoted in the Vancouver Sun. “I don’t shy away from any challenges.”

One challenge facing Butterworth-Carr is addressing sexual harassment, a behavior she says, as does any other inappropriate behavior, that needs to be met with a policy of zero tolerance.

“Any kind of inappropriate behavior, sexual in nature, or otherwise. We are a force of inclusion and equality, and we strive for that. Anything less than that is unacceptable,” explained Butterworth-Carr.

Butterworth-Carr supports and prioritizes the building and maintaining of a strong connection between police and the people of all communities, large and small.

“One thing very critical to me is to continue the engagement in all of our communities in a very collaborative manner. Police services are not done in isolation,” said Butterworth-Carr. “I believe that together we’re stronger, and that will continue to be our focus as we move into the future.”

Butterworth-Carr currently serves as chairwoman of the RCMP’s National Women’s Advisory Committee, is a member of the Canadian and International Association of Chiefs of Police, and a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.

Brenda Butterworth-Carr is the first Aboriginal woman promoted to Commanding Officer on the B.C. RCMP. Her promotion to this position means the door is now open for other Aboriginal women to be considered for high profile positions in police roles. She is more than deserving and will do an excellent job.