Topic: NEWS

Margo Kane celebrates 20 years of the Talking Stick Festival and a career full of accomplishments in 2021

Margo Kane, acclaimed cultural visionary and leader, marks a distinguished multi-decade career in 2021 with new accolades and achievements – and a month-long 20th anniversary Talking Stick Festival in June.

For over 40 years, Cree-Saulteaux performing artist, artistic director, writer and cultural worker, Margo Kane, has been a galvanizing force on the arts and culture scene in Canada and internationally. She’s been a major advocate and leader in the advancement of Indigenous arts in Canada and beyond, dedicating her life to mentoring Indigenous artists and creating opportunities to showcase their work and culture.

2021 marks a high point in this remarkable woman’s career. The event she founded and runs, the Talking Stick Festival, commemorates its 20th anniversary with four festivals, one in each season, celebrating Indigenous performance and art. This year also sees Ms. Kane receive a number of prestigious honours acknowledging her life’s work, her contributions, and her important role in the cultural life of this country. 

Earlier this year, the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) named Ms. Kane a 2021 International Citation of Merit Recipient. Presented for “unique lifetime achievement which has enriched the international performing arts”, she was recognized for her distinguished service working within the profession. The ISPA said, “Margo has been and continues to be a mentor, leader, and inspiration to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from across Canada and around the world.”

Moonlodge, Ms. Kane’s internationally acclaimed one-woman show – an Indigenous Canadian classic and a catalyst in Indigenous theatre – is currently being streamed as part of Soulpepper Theatre’s Around the World in 80 Plays audio drama series (to June 30). 

She is also nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Reconciliation in Action Category. Ms. Kane is being lauded for, among other accomplishments, having “created countless and diverse opportunities for Indigenous artists and community to gather, activate and galvanize around their artistic sovereignty and self-determination.” Award winners will be announced in June. 

At their October, 2021 ceremonies, Simon Fraser University will present Margo with an Honorary Degree. She will be in the good company of 13 other distinguished individuals making a positive difference in the world. 

These are all recent acknowledgements in a long career full of accomplishments. In addition to having founded and served as the artistic managing director of Full Circle: First Nations, Ms. Kane has developed an Aboriginal Ensemble Performing Arts Program and founded and continues to run the annual Talking Stick Festival. She was also the artistic director of the Canada 150+ summer festival, The Drum is Calling. Margo has also received a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in Theatre; a Career Achievement Jessie Award; an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the Fraser Valley, and; the Order of Canada from the Governor General. 

And the work continues! In June, the Talking Stick Festival presents the Summer Sojourn online festival as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations. In store is a month-long series of Indigenous performance and art featuring concerts, dance performances, exhibitions, readings, theatrical presentations, film and eclectic co-presentations – as well as some unique and unexpected experiences. A fall festival is planned for September. Full info is at 

Teaming up to tackle diabetes with positive change


Working with a diabetes educator means being in a partnership that can change your life for the better. Just ask Jennine Buffalo.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years ago, Jennine Buffalo broke down and cried during her first appointment with Joanne Siemens, a dietitian and diabetes educator. Jennine was aware of the disease because she had both an aunt and a cousin with type 1 diabetes; each had a leg amputation and died due to diabetes-related complications

Joanne offered Jennine a tissue from the box that’s always on her desk. She knows how devastating a diabetes diagnosis can be. Joanne then immediately offered Jennine some peace of mind.

“When people walk into my office after being diagnosed, they look like they’ve been hit by a train. And when a train like diabetes hits your life, you experience every emotion—from feeling like ‘I can beat this’ to ‘This is a death sentence,’ ” says Joanne, who works on the Maskwacis reserve, a First Nations community of 16,000 in Alberta. “Many people think they caused their diabetes because they gained weight, drank alcohol, or did something wrong. My job is to help them get rid of the guilt and shame, because the depression and self-blame that go with diabetes can be worse than the actual diabetes. I tell them the reason people end up with problems is because their diabetes wasn’t well managed. And I tell them they did the right thing by coming to see me.”

The two began to meet monthly—and communicate regularly by text—to help Jennine, who was then 35, improve how she monitors her blood glucose (sugar) and to make the lifestyle changes necessary to ensure her good health. 

As a result of their partnership, Jennine eats less red meat and more chicken and fish. Thanks to personalized cooking classes offered by Joanne, she began experimenting in the kitchen, preparing dishes such as brown rice pilaf and beef barley soup. She also stopped buying pop and chips, and prepares big bowls of salad instead. And when she was unsure about how nutritious certain foods were, she’d send Joanne a text. “For example, I would ask her advice on whether pistachios are better than sunflower seeds and if I should choose salted or roasted,” says Jennine, who lost 30 pounds.

With Joanne’s encouragement, Jennine also become more active. She sings and dances at cultural Aboriginal hand games tournaments, and she and her partner and their four children regularly get out for family walks, swims in the lake and bike rides. “Our family is a lot happier now. My hope is that this [change] will help my kids grow up to be healthy adults,” says Jennine. An added bonus: Jennine recently was able to stop taking the metformin initially prescribed to manage her diabetes. 

After a year, Jennine had a much more positive outlook on the future. “In the beginning when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t want anyone to know I had diabetes. But I’m not embarrassed anymore. I’m alive and I’m healthy. And working with Joanne helped save my life.”

Fast forward to today: Jennine has reached and maintained her weight goal. She walks a lot, and has an A1C of 6.6. She has a burger once in awhile, but otherwise she avoids fast foods and red meats. She eats a lot of vegetables, and has switched from white bread to multigrain and rye bread. She loves having fruit, berries, and nuts for snacks. She drinks mostly water and makes homemade smoothies. She loves to cook, and her latest passion is the air fryer. Her next culinary adventure will be the dehydrator. 

Jennine’s increased skills and confidence means she has become more independent (though she still keeps in touch with Joanne) and maintains regular appointments with the medical staff at Maskwacis Health Services. “Joanne helped me see that there was a lot I could do to prevent the stuff I was so scared of. With her support and guidance, all my fears and worries were gone,” says Jennine.

Did you know?

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. Today, more Canadians have diabetes than ever before. Diabetes or prediabetes affects 1 in 3 Canadians. One in 2 young adults will develop diabetes in their remaining lifetime. We can’t wait another 100 years to End Diabetes.  #LetsEndDiabetes Visit 100 Years of Insulin to learn more.

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Autumn 2016. Photos (Jennine Buffalo, Joanne Siemens) by Mustafa Eric. Reprinted with permission of Diabetes Canada ©2021.) 

Moccasin fragment reveals precolonial connection between Subarctic and Southwest

March 9, 2021 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Photo cutline: An 800 year-old Promontory moccasin constructed in a Subarctic style. Credit: Dr. J. W. Ives.

New research by Lakehead University anthropologist Dr. Jessica Metcalfe and colleagues provides direct evidence for long-distance connections among precolonial Dene peoples from northern Canada to the southern United States.

About 800 years ago a group of highly successful hunter-gatherers spent several decades living on the north shore of Great Salt Lake, Utah. Archaeological evidence suggests that these ‘Promontory people’ were Dene ancestors whose moccasin styles indicate an origin in the Canadian Subarctic, more than 1,500 km to the north.

Dr. Metcalfe’s research shows the Promontory people also made at least one journey even farther into the south and/or east, bringing back a scrap of leather that they incorporated into one of their distinctive moccasins.

“We can take a tiny piece of leather and determine if it has chemical signatures that are typical of the place where it was found, or if it came from somewhere else,” said Dr. Metcalfe, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Lakehead University.

“Most of the Promontory materials were obtained close to the site, but this piece of leather came from far away – probably hundreds of kilometres to the south or east.”

Use of these cutting-edge techniques in archaeology is growing, but Dr. Metcalfe said this is the first time past human migrations have been reconstructed using chemical traces in footwear.

This research contributes to a longstanding archaeological puzzle: how and when did the Dene language family spread from the Canadian Subarctic into the American Southwest?

During the colonial period, these populations were seen as geographically separate and thought to have no direct connections with one another. However, Dr. Metcalfe’s research suggests that Dene groups travelled great distances to gain and utilize landscape knowledge. This likely facilitated the gradual migration of Dene ancestors from the Subarctic to the Southwest.

Recently, Dene people from northern, southern, and coastal nations have gathered at workshops and conferences held in Tsuut’ina territory (southern Alberta) to share their interconnected languages and cultures and to chart directions for the future.

The research of Dr. Metcalfe and her colleagues, along with genetic, linguistic, and oral history evidence, demonstrates that Dene connections are not a recent phenomenon – long-distance migrations and meetings of Dene peoples have been occurring for many hundreds of years.

Dr. Metcalfe’s research was published in the premier North American archaeology journal, American Antiquity, available here:

Other members of the research team include Dr. John (Jack) W. Ives and Jennifer Hallson (University of Alberta), Dr. Beth Shapiro and Sabrina Shirazi (University of California, Santa Cruz), Dr. Kevin P. Gilmore (HDR), Dr. Fiona Brock (Cranfield University), and Dr. Bonnie J. Clark (University of Denver).

The research was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grants awarded to Dr. Metcalfe and Dr. Ives.


To learn more about this research project, please contact:

Dr. Jessica Metcalfe
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Lakehead University

Inuit midwives say they left Nunavut centre after years of mistreatment

Inuit midwives Cas Augaarjuk Connelly (left) and Rachel Qiliqti Kaludjak pose after a birth at Rankin Inlet’s birthing centre in 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Rachel Qiliqti Kaludjak and Cas Augaarjuk Connelly)

IQALUIT, NUNAVUT — Cas Augaarjuk Connelly and Rachel Qiliqti Kaludjak never wanted to stop working at a Nunavut birthing centre, but they say years of mistreatment, racism and a lack of support from their government left them no choice. Both are nationally certified midwives, the first Inuit in Canada to hold such credentials, and for the last six years were the only ones to offer labour support full time in Rankin Inlet.

“It was our dream and our passion. I really had visions of retiring from the birthing centre when I’m old and grey,” Kaludjak said. In January 2020, Connelly resigned and Kaludjak left in August. Connelly had worked at the centre since 2008; Kaludjak since 2003. The Nunavut government then shuttered birthing services in Rankin Inlet, forcing expectant mothers there and in surrounding hamlets to leave home to give birth.

“It was a very emotional decision. We felt like we were failing ourselves and failing our fellow Inuit women. That made me very, very sad,” Kaludjak said. “And I felt very guilty about that. And I still do. The system doesn’t allow for us to succeed. “The women deserve an explanation. A real concrete one.”

When Connelly and Kaludjak started at the birthing centre, which opened in 1993, there were two other full-time midwives. But for the last six years, they were the only two. The remaining positions were filled by a revolving door of southern midwives who would fly up for a few weeks. Connelly and Kaludjak were essentially running the centre on their own.

“We were constantly orienting new staff. And often we had no casuals. We’d have blocks of time where we didn’t have enough staff. We’d be on call for weeks and weeks at a time,” Connelly said. Nunavut’s health-care system relies heavily on southern providers. And the most recent figures from Statistics Canada show that the territory has the highest birthrate in Canada at 22.6 live births per 1,000 people — more than double the national average of 10.1. Some 840 babies were born to Nunavut mothers in 2019. Connelly and Kaludjak provided Nunavut Inuit with something rare: health care at home in their first language.

“Women were able to speak their own language. It was so rewarding,” Kaludjak said. “We’re related to half the community, so you’re taking care of your family as well,” Connelly added. At times, she said, they were burned out, worried for their patients and felt like they had all of the community’s maternity care on their shoulders. Yet when Department of Health staff needed information or had questions about the birthing centre, they turned to the southern, non-Inuit staff, the women said. “In their eyes, there were the Aboriginal midwives and then the midwives. We’d do births together and we’d be supervised by people who don’t even do births. We were always made to feel less,” Connelly said.

“We were questioned on things like overtime and mirroring our southern colleagues, who were there at the exact same time doing a birth together. Our southern colleagues were never questioned,” Kaludjak said. One Nunavut government employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the two women were constantly brushed aside by management.

“You would have somebody from the south come up, who’s literally been there a week, and the manager wanted to meet with that person … instead of asking Inuit that have been there for a decade,” she said. Kaludjak was acting manager at the birthing centre for three years. She said when the position was posted, she interviewed for the job and was rejected. She said she was told she would need to train her replacement, but no one was hired. Joan Margaret Laine, a midwife who worked with the two women, said the government failed them.

“There were so many instances of racism and aggression. It was really disheartening to work there.” She said she was in a group of midwives who offered to work full time in Rankin Inlet to give Connelly and Kaludjak some relief. But jobs were never posted. The Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment about the jobs or Connelly and Kaludjak.

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak, who was moved into the role after Connelly and Kaludjak left, said he’s working with his department to review the birthing centre’s operations. “Since Day 1 of my first meeting with senior staff, that was one of the top priorities that we brought forward, to ensure the centre runs again and we don’t run into the same issues that may have been highlighted by previous staff.” Kusuagak said he is “very aware” of the situation at the centre.

“We have to make sure that the work environment is one that is equal to everybody that is there. The goal here is to have women give birth in a very safe and peaceful environment.” Martha Aitkin, the birthing centre’s director from 2006 to 2009, also worked as a locum midwife in Rankin Inlet in 2017. She said Connelly and Kaludjak experienced “a long list of microaggressions” by the government. “It can only be described as anti-Inuit racism. The view from the southern people above them in the government hierarchy was that they weren’t good enough, that they weren’t as qualified,” said Aitkin, who is from Ontario.

Connelly, Kaludjak and other midwives said they brought their issues to the government over the years, but nothing was done. They said that’s partially because there is a high turnover in departmental staff. “I don’t think there’s anyone in one position long enough to make change,” Connelly said. “The whole dream that the government has of homegrown professionals, I don’t know how that’s ever going to be if they don’t support it,” Kaludjak said.

The territory’s Arctic College ran a midwifery program from 2006 to 2014, but it never continued. Fiona Buchan-Corey, director of the college’s Kitikmeot campus, said federal government funding was not renewed.

Kerstin Gafvels helped develop the program and worked with Connelly and Kaludjakt. She said she was disappointed when she heard the program was no longer running and that Connelly and Kaludjak had left the birthing centre.

“No one coming in temporarily from the south would ever understand or have the knowledge that they carry by being part of the community, of actually living there.” Connelly and Kaludjak still live in Rankin Inlet with their families.

“The government leaves people hanging with no explanation and too many empty promises and I don’t want to be a part of that,” Connelly said. “This is not just a government-bashing discussion. It’s mainly for the women to have answers and for the government to step up and make the necessary changes.”

Courtesy of The Canadian Press

First Nations Healthcare: Discrimination, Progress, and Resilience

Bigstone Health Center, Alberta

Marion Crowe is a citizen of Piapot First Nation and the Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA).  

Imagine if a pandemic had swept the earth, and the only people who could save you were also known for discriminating against you. 

Ginew Wellness Center in Manitoba

When a system is strained, it often snaps at the point of existing fractures. As we move past the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, cracks in Canada’s healthcare system related to First Nations healthcare have become even more painfully evident. There is hope, but the failings of healthcare as it relates to First Nations have become increasingly concerning. 

Is there doubt our existing healthcare system harbours anti-Indigenous sentiment? Hard ‘no’!  Heartbreaking individual cases are well documented and alive.  Consider the now well-known death of Joyce Echaquan, who, last fall arrived at a hospital in Quebec requiring medical treatment. Instead of care,  Echaquan was insulted by those from whom she needed help. She was called “stupid” and told she would be “better off dead”. Tragically, Echaquan did die. And, while media exploded with shock at the cruel acts caught on camera, others in the First Nations community were dismayed but not surprised. Unfortunately, her experience is not new, nor one of a kind. Her experience encountering racism in the healthcare system has been shared by many others in our community.  

Indigenous people continue to feel excluded from their own healthcare system. With no power to make decisions on how healthcare is delivered, with low representation in the field, with a lack of cultural competency from those who provide services, is it any surprise?  

We have: Joyce’s Principle; Jordan’s Principle; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Calls to Action (specifically 18 to 24); Anti-Indigenous Racism movements; In Plain Sight, Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care Addressing Racism Review December 2020 Data Report (Nearly 85% of Indigenous participants indicated they had faced discrimination in the healthcare system); and numerous other reports that show a failing system. Discrimination in healthcare seems to be a simple fact of life for many Indigenous people.  

But progress is being made, and we are working together with Canada to make things better. The lack of infrastructure, funding and capacity in First Nations communities is no secret; in that context, the government of Canada aimed to provide those communities some of the country’s first COVID vaccine doses. The federal government, in their fall budget, also put aside $15.6-million for new Indigenous health legislation related to fighting anti-Indigenous racism in the healthcare sector. If delivered and developed as hoped, the legislation will support bringing control back to First Nations people over the delivery and development of our own health services. How this approach rolls out will be an important metric in measuring just how serious Canada is about reconciliation.  

We have thousands of battles to fight. Infrastructure countrywide needs to be improved; systemic racism rooted out; cultural competency & humility spread to service providers; resources and power put back in the hands of First Nations. But just as hard times bring to light the weak spots in our healthcare system, they also underscore just how strong First Nations communities are. We do more with less. The First Nations state of healthcare is one of resilience against heavy odds. We fill in gaps by acting as a community. We draw strength and knowledge from our beliefs, traditions and inherent knowledge to lift those in our community who need help the most. At our best, we work together as a community, weaving western and traditional practices and medicine into treatment. Our blended approach is one of respect, stories, dance, and consistency in culture that provides a mental and spiritual backbone against anxiety in uncertain times.  

 As we move to healthcare delivery by us and for us, there are heartwarming stories that are too precious not to share.  Nations are weaving western PPE care packs with cedar, sweetgrass and sage medicines to double the protection.  Nations have developed helplines for the biggest epidemic of our time in the fight against suicide, overdoses and racism.  We have seen a huge resurgence of our practices, languages and ways of healing.  There is hope. That is what we want our next seven generations to know.   

At FNHMA, we have numerous activities underway to support First Nations health.  We continue to grow new health leaders while supporting and strengthening existing health leaders who will take over our own health systems through the FNHMA certification and training programs that we offer.  FNHMA also started a Virtual Town Hall to keep people connected and informed on Covid -19. Now, over 150 Indigenous radio stations, not to mention multiple websites and social media, brings credible, relevant and timely information from trusted sources and experts. These are encouraging first steps, but only first steps, to what is needed in developing an inclusive healthcare infrastructure for First Nations. There is much to be done, and the marathon to improve our healthcare system continues.   

We lift you all, especially those working tirelessly on the front lines, ensuring the safety and protection of our nations.  We thank you and stand united in all the work that you do.       

National chief pans systemic racism as AFN launches virtual general assembly

National Chief Perry Bellegarde speaking from Ottawa at the virtual general assembly. Photo: APTN

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) blasted systemic racism and laid out his lobbying plans for the remainder of his term during the organization’s annual general assembly on Tuesday.

An emotional Perry Bellegarde held back tears as he mentioned Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore, Joyce Echaquan, and all those who died in 2020 at the hands of authorities charged with their protection.

“To all those who have been lost, to all of those who’ve been taken from us I say: We love you,” said Bellegarde, who paused, overwhelmed with emotion, before continuing. “We value you. We remember you. And you will continue to motivate us to create the change we all want and we need.”

First Nations chiefs normally travel to Ottawa in Algonquin territory for the December gathering but went online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the leaders in the afternoon and fielded a series of questions from the chiefs.

“We’ve made tremendous progress in just a few years. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there is much more to be done. I hear you when you say that the status quo isn’t good enough,” said Trudeau.

“I hear you when you say, to quote National Chief Bellegarde, that this pandemic exacerbates the already dire circumstances in which too many live. I hear you and I agree.”

Prime Minister Trudeau answered questions from his office during the general assembly. Photo: APTN/File

Bellegarde announced Monday that he won’t seek another term when chiefs cast their votes for a new AFN head in July. His speech touted progress First Nations made over his six-year tenure as national chief and called for immediate action to stamp out institutional racism in Canada’s policing and health-care systems.

“Cultural safety must be integrated into national health-care standards. Failure to meet these standards must have real consequences, and our people need a safe way to report mistreatment and abuse that will produce results,” said Bellegarde. “No one wants the death of Joyce Echaquan to have been in vain.”

Echaquan, 37, an Atikamekw Nation mother of seven, recorded health-care workers taunting her with racist insults before she died in a Quebec hospital in September.

Levi and Moore, who were both First Nations, were shot and killed by police only days apart in New Brunswick.

Reforming policing in Canada

On that subject, Bellegarde said the country needs to make First Nations-led policing an essential service and deliver on RCMP reform, which Trudeau promised to do.

Bellegarde stressed the urgency by accusing the RCMP of betraying the Mi’kmaq as they exercised a constitutionally-protected treaty right to fish in Nova Scotia.

“We witnessed the racist backlash that followed. The overtly racist actions of the commercial fishers was disheartening but not entirely surprising,” he said. “What was shocking was the betrayal of the local RCMP officers who ignored the mounting tensions and allowed this violence to erupt. This is what we mean by systemic racism.”

Had the roles been reversed, the Mounties never would’ve allowed the attacks to escalate as they did to floating blockades, boat chases, mob vigilantism, assaults and arson, Bellegarde added.

Trudeau also condemned these instances of death and violence.

“No one should face threats while exercising their treaty right to fish. No one should face violence at the hands of police and no one should face fear about what may happen or has happened to a mother, sister or daughter. That is unacceptable.”

Pandemic recovery

Like the rest of the country, First Nations spent the bulk of 2020 dealing with the potentially deadly pandemic. Communities made use of stringent lockdowns, travel bans and checkpoints to weather the first wave.

But the second wave landed hard in some First Nations.

“There is an opportunity to build back better,” said Bellegarde, echoing language Trudeau used to describe Canada’s pandemic recovery plan.

“But more than that, I would say that Canada must build back better – and must be better and do better as a country.”

This means addressing the gap in the quality of life that exists between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities, said the national chief. He pointed to a lack of access to health care, the housing crisis and lack of potable water on reserves.

During the height of the second wave, Neskantaga First Nation members had to be evacuated from their northwestern Ontario homes after an “oily sheen” tainted the community’s water supply.

Residents of Shamattawa in northern Manitoba highlighted the housing crisis on their reserve not long before positive coronavirus cases skyrocketed and military aid in the form of the Canadian Rangers had to be deployed.

“That gap amplifies every threat and every harm from this pandemic – from this risk of infection to the stress of lockdown,” said Bellegarde.

The opening song was broadcast online instead of played live in a crowded room as usual. Photo: APTN/File

The Liberal government recently admitted they would not fulfill their promise to end all long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves by March 2021.

Trudeau said they did manage to lift 98 long-term advisories and prevent 171 short-term ones from becoming long term. The Liberals proposed to invest $1.5 billion for water as well as $1.8 billion over seven years for infrastructure during their fall fiscal update.

Many of the chiefs’ questions centred on the difficulty communities face in navigating the federal Indigenous bureaucracy in order to quickly obtain funds for clean water, housing, health services, education and more.

“I think your bureaucrats are not doing you justice in terms of the things that you are trying to do, and I say that respectfully,” Chief David Monias told the prime minister.

Trudeau replied that “a whole series of interconnections” need to happen before cash that Ottawa pledges actually gets into people’s hands to make a difference.

“These are all things that we need to work on together, and folks in Ottawa don’t always know how they best fit together,” he admitted.

“Ottawa can’t drive these. You need to drive these and we need to be there to support you with the money and the resources and the capacity to develop that. It takes a little longer, and sometimes it’s frustrating, but ultimately it is what will best serve you and your community to be in charge of your own future and that’s the work we are doing together.”

Lack of MMIWG action plan and a proposed UNDRIP action plan

The national chief voiced support for Chief Connie Big Eagle and the AFN women’s council as First Nations push governments to act on the recommendations of the national missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) inquiry.

Another missed deadline, the Liberals promised to deliver an action plan to implement the inquiry’s calls to justice on the final report’s one-year anniversary. Trudeau re-committed to accelerating the work.

“It’s now a year and a half later, and still there is no plan,” said Bellegarde. “The families who poured their hearts into that inquiry deserve action.”

But the Trudeau administration did meet one deadline, a promise to table legislation by end of 2020 that would help align federal laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Justice Minister David Lametti introduced Bill C-15 in the House of Commons last week. The new statute, if passed, would affirm that the declaration applies to Canadian law and create a framework to implement UNDRIP’s 46 articles, which lay out global human rights standards for the survival and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Bellegarde said there would have been “no hope” four years ago for such legislation or the Liberals’ other two reform laws they say they designed with UNDRIP in mind: the Indigenous Languages Act and the Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families.

The proposed UNDRIP act would require an as-yet undesignated cabinet minister to lead development of an implementation action plan, with annual reporting on progress made, not make UNDRIP itself a law.

The prime minister referred some questions to his cabinet ministers, who are slated to answer queries later tonight.

The general assembly is scheduled to wrap up Wednesday evening.

Métis Nation Second World War Hero Honoured in ON

FORT FRANCES, ON, Dec. 11, 2020 /CNW Telbec/

On December 11, 2020, WWII Métis Veteran Jean Leander Camirand Sr. will receive thanks from the Métis Nation and a Recognition Payment of $20,000. The Recognition Payment is part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program established in partnership with the Trudeau government to commemorate forgotten Métis soldiers. Veteran Camirand Sr. is the 29th WWII Veteran to receive a Recognition Payment as part of the Legacy Program.

“As Minister responsible for Veterans for the Métis National Council, I have stood side by side with our WWII Métis Veterans for the past two decades to seek justice,” states Minister Chartrand. “I thank Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister MacAulay for keeping Canada’s promise to honour the sacrifices and contributions of our WWII Métis Veterans. While our Veterans have waited three-quarters of a century to take their rightful place as heroes of Canada, their wishes and our promise of the legacy we have created together will last into perpetuity. Our heroes today, tomorrow and forever.”

The Fort Frances Sunset Country Métis Community Council President Brady Hupet will represent Minister Chartrand and present the Recognition Payment along with a hand-crafted traditional Métis beaded broach and the Nation’s ceremonial Métis Sash, to Veteran Tate.

“I give thanks to the Métis National Council and Minister Chartrand. As President of the Sunset Country Métis Community, it is an honour to personally bestow these awards to Jean Leander Camirand for his service. Jean is a proud Métis Veteran war hero in our community, whom I am proud to know personally.” 

Veteran Jean Leander Camirand Sr. was born June 1, 1925. He married Eloise Saunders on September 12, 1947, and recently celebrated 73 years of marriage this year.  Together they raised five children and have 13 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and soon, they will have their first great great grandchild. He retired in 1986, took up golfing with his wife and spent their winters travelling.  Veteran Camirand Sr.  and his wife volunteered for the Hospital Auxiliary and Meals on Wheels. He received a Certificate of Recognition for his service during WWII from Canada.  

On September 10, 2019, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veteran Affairs Canada, issued an apology to the WWII Métis Veterans on Canada’s behalf.

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

SOURCE Métis National Council

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

For immediate release: March 21, 2019

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto presents the most distinct and progressive Indigenous artists working in fashion, textiles and craft for all audiences. Runway and Marketplace applications are being accepted until April 29, 2019.

Toronto, ON – The second biennial Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto (IFWTO) takes place May 28 – 31, 2020 at Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto. The festival will include runway with performances, marketplace, art exhibition, hands-on workshops, panels and networking events. IFWTO is seeking runway and marketplace submissions, the application deadline is April 29, 2019. Eligible applicants are self-identified Indigenous fashion, craft and textile artists and designers from anywhere in the world whose work holds a clear vision and is at the intersection of fashion, art and culture.

IFWTO is seeking runway and marketplace applications by Indigenous artists, urban or rural, of all artistic levels. IFWTO is particularly interested in works that challenge perceptions of and celebrate Indigenous people and culture with integrity and innovation. IFWTO will work closely with all selected artists and designers to ensure excellence, respect and proper protocols in the presentation, dissemination and exportation of their work.

The first IFWTO was an incredible success. Exciting highlights from IFWTO 2018 included sold out runway shows, a front-page article in the Toronto Star entertainment section, feature article in NOW Magazine, a segment on CBC’s the National and coverage in Vogue and National Geographic, as well as extensive coverage in local and national mainstream and Indigenous press. At IFWTO 2018, Indigenous artists were connected with buyers, curators and programmers from various arts councils, fashion organizations and retailers and they received significant exposure on social media and mainstream media, going on to grow their artistic practice and businesses. To name only a few, Warren Steven Scott was recently nominated for a Canadian Arts & Fashion Award for his jewellery debuted at IFWTO 2018, Lesley Hampton is wholesaling her athleisure collection, Victoria’s Arctic Fashion presented her latest collection to praise at Paris Fashion Week, Ingrid Brooks, Sho Sho Esquiro and Yolonda Skelton presented on the Eiffel Tower for International Indigenous Fashion Week (the Indigenous fashion week group from Saskatchewan), Catherine Blackburn has numerous gallery exhibitions of her New Age Warriors Collection, Curtis Oland was produced by IFWTO and exhibited at Somerset House for International Fashion Showcase 2019… The achievements of designers presented at IFWTO 2018 are great. We look forward to continuing to foster Indigenous designers in 2020.

IFWTO’s goal is to amplify global Indigenous artistic expression in fashion, crafts and textiles and to contribute to growing an Indigenous economy. At Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto 2020, 20+ artists will be presented on the runway, 54 exhibitors will be presented in the marketplace, including a designer showroom, and 20 artists and thought leaders will speak in panels and lectures. Audiences will also have the opportunity to attend a curated exhibition and participate in intensive, pre-registered hands-on workshops.

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto is Indigenous-led and committed to the advancement of Indigenous artists and designers, connecting them and their work to diverse audiences and industry. IFWTO is a four-day festival founded to create space by and for Indigenous artists, to grow an Indigenous economy and to present authentic expression of Indigenous culture through fashion, craft and textiles. IFWTO programming includes at least 60% women.

Artist Registration for Runway and Marketplace:


DEADLINE: April 29, 2019

FEE: $20 per application

Tickets & Packages:

Tickets and festival package sales will be announced in early 2020

More Info:


IFWTO is a fashion, crafts & textiles festival presenting the most distinct and progressive Indigenous-made works. IFWTO celebrates global Indigenous expression in fashion and the arts and its grounding in Indigenous knowledge, ways of life and storytelling. Led by Indigenous women, IFWTO connects audiences to artistic and cultural expression that celebrates and advances Indigenous artists and designers .


Métis Nation Second World War Hero’s spouse to receive Recognition Payment in Edmonton, Alberta

On October 7, 2020, WWII, Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn’s spouse Myrtle Calahaisn received thanks from the Métis Nation and inheritance of $20,000. President Audrey Poitras of the Métis Nation of Alberta personally presented the recognition payment to Myrtle Calahaisn on behalf of Métis Nation Veterans Minister David Chartrand.

“75 years ago, the young sons and daughters of our Nation answered the call to defend a country they did not know, in the name of a country that did not respect them. Canada promised opportunity and prosperity upon their return home from the war. A promise that was never kept – until now. It is important to ensure that our WWII Métis Veterans take their rightful place in Canadian history. Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn and all Métis Veterans must be honoured and respected for their sacrifice in protecting freedom and liberty,” states Minister David Chartrand.

The $20,000 Recognition Payment is part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program established in partnership with the Trudeau government to commemorate forgotten Métis soldiers. Mrs. Calahaisn will be the tenth spouse to receive the Recognition Payment since Métis Nation Veterans Minister Chartrand announced on June 29, 2020. The policy is now inclusive of all surviving spouses and common-law partners of Métis Nation WWII Veterans regardless of when their loved one passed.

“The importance of family remains the essence of the Métis Nation,” states Minister David Chartrand. “Our WWII Métis Veterans who have passed would want to take care of their families and ensure their future and prosperity. We now have the ability to help the families of our Veterans heal, and take comfort, knowing their loved one is being honoured as a Hero of this country. Our Heroes Today, Tomorrow and Forever”.

“Today, we thank Walter Calahaisn for his years of service and remember all he accomplished as a Private and as a Métis citizen,” said President Audrey Poitras. “Myrtle was by Walter’s side for 50 years, working with him, caring for him, and I am so glad to present her with this recognition cheque today. For too long, the dedication and bravery of Métis veterans like Walter went unrecognized. Métis across the Homeland sacrificed much in defense of their country. Now, through the Métis Veterans Legacy Program, we are able to give them and their spouses the acknowledgement and compensation they deserve.”

Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn was born on October 16, 1922, and passed on August 24, 2000. Veteran Calahaisn was a Private and served in Canada, United Kingdom, Continental Europe and the Central Mediterranean Area. The Department of National Defence employed Veteran Calahaisn as a building maintenance man. Veteran Calahaisn and Myrtle owned and operated a janitorial business and an Indigenous gift shop. Veteran Calahaisn enjoyed playing baseball, horseback riding, dancing and playing guitar.

He married Myrtle on July 28, 1950, and raised nine children. Myrtle is a member of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. In 2009 she received an ESQUAO award that recognizes Aboriginal women who have positively impacted Alberta’s Aboriginal communities. Myrtle is also the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“Our Heroes Today, Tomorrow and Forever”


For more information, contact:

Albert Beck

Métis National Council

c: 613-447-7216

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

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Government of Canada Partnering with Indigenous Coastal Communities to Enhance Marine Safety in British Columbia

Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous coastal communities to improve marine safety and responsible shipping to protect Canada’s marine environment.

As part of this $1.5 billion plan, in 2017 the Canadian Coast Guard launched the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. Under this program, communities are provided with funding to purchase boats and equipment to enhance their marine safety capacity as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Today, under year three of the program, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $312,815 for Nisga’a Nation and $214,156 for Ahousaht Nation to each purchase a search and rescue boat and related equipment for the communities.

Through new equipment and training, Auxiliary members are better equipped and prepared to respond to marine emergencies, helping to enhance the safety of their communities and the surrounding waters and coasts. 

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization of 4,000 volunteer members with access to 1,100 vessels that boost the Government of Canada’s maritime search and rescue response capacity. The Canadian Coast Guard funds the Auxiliary through a contribution program totaling $7.7 million each year. The Auxiliary responds to approximately 25 per cent of maritime calls for assistance each year, providing an often life saving service.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a stronger marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.

November 7, 2020, marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Oceans Protection Plan. Despite the new challenges that have emerged with COVID-19, the Oceans Protection Plan continues to:

  • Foster partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities;
  • Improve marine incident response;
  • Prevent marine accidents and pollution;
  • Protect Canada’s endangered whale populations; and
  • Preserve and restore Canada’s marine ecosystems.


“Investment through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program recognizes the critical role of Indigenous communities as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in protecting mariners, and their residents. Indigenous coastal communities have been stewards of the environment including oceans and shores for generations, and are unquestionably vital to Canada’s marine safety system today. The program provides necessary funding and equipment to support their efforts.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Our Government is committed to working with Indigenous coastal communities in order to protect some of Canada’s greatest resources: oceans and waterways. Thanks to initiatives under the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping and coastal environments are safer now than ever before. Indigenous communities in their region have a significant role in implementing the Oceans Protection Plan. This additional funding will expand search and rescue capabilities for the residents of British Columbia and play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“The Nisga’a Nation as represented by Nisga’a Lisims Government is committed to ensuring its programs, services and day to day operations reflect our vision, Sayt-K’il’im-Goot: One Heart, One Path, One nation. Using this vision, we are very excited to join the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary. The financial supports provided through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program has allowed us to purchase a Multi-use Vessel with many capabilities to render response services in the northern waters of B.C. We have also acquired search and rescue equipment to provide our responders with proper PPE to keep them safe. Lastly this program has provided funding to develop a training plan to lay the foundation and strive sustainable prosperity and self reliance for the long term with a purpose to protect both mariners and citizens traveling throughout the northwest coast of B.C.”

Anthony Moore, Emergency Response Services Manager, Nisga’a Lisims Government

Quick Facts

·        As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is partnering with Indigenous and coastal communities to develop a world-leading marine safety system that meets the unique needs of people on all coasts.


·        The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program is a four-year pilot program, which began in 2017. Coast Guard continues conversations with coastal Indigenous communities to identify those that are interested in participating in the future.


·        The search and rescue capable boats and other equipment bought under this program meet the standards of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and Transport Canada.

·        Since the Oceans Protection Plan started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span coast-to-coast-to-coast.

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