Four Aboriginal Women discuss topics on local TV talk show

Currently taping their fourth season, The Four on Access 7 Regina is a one-hour talk show featuring four native women discussing issues from residential schools, hot topics, online dating, and ‘yes’ even orgasms.

The Four originated from Bevann Fox, who’s been the regular host for all four seasons.
“I had an idea to create a show with all Aboriginal women discussing native topics,” Fox said. “I turn on the television, and I usually see negative Aboriginal stories, so I thought, we have successful Aboriginal business men and women, there are First Nations that are doing tremendous work, and I wanted to discuss these issues, and topics that are not normally discussed with other First Nations women.”

So in 2012, Fox wrote up a proposal of her idea and mailed it to a number of networks both in Canada and the United States, all of which turned her down.
“They said they were not looking for a talk show or interested. I then dreaded having to tell the other women that my idea would probably not happen.”
Around this time a friend asked her, ‘why not try the local Access Communications 7 Channel in Regina?’

“So I sent my proposal to Access Communications, and almost immediately Wade Peterson, the Community Programming Manager, phoned me and said he was interested! – of course I was super excited and we’ve been on air since 2013, now taping our fourth season and I’m excited about the whole process within the TV industry.”
First Nations Drum spoke with Wade Peterson on the ratings of The Four on Access 7 Regina.

Co-hosts of “The Four”: (clockwise from seated) Bevann Fox, Dr. Shauneen Pete, Robyn Morin and Shannon Fayant.

Co-hosts of “The Four”: (clockwise from seated) Bevann Fox, Dr. Shauneen Pete, Robyn Morin and Shannon Fayant.

“The ratings have always been really good from the first season till this current season. We continue to have an amazing following,” said Peterson. “The uniqueness of the women and the interesting topics they wanted to discuss is what made my decision to proceed with making the show.”
Peterson added that the viewership feedback has been tremendous from social media and word of mouth as well as other media outlets.
Fox’s day job is a Child & Family Services worker with Yorkton Tribal Council, and her co-hosts are Wendy White Bear, a research coordinator with the University of Regina, Ashley Norton, prevention manager, and Pam Rock Thunder, an administration clerk.

Fox says she would like to tackle the tough issues like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Residential Schools, just to name a few.
First Nations Drum contacted APTN, one of the networks Fox approached with her idea, and asked them why the network rejected her proposal.

“APTN has annual requirements for programming based on its CRTC Conditions of Licence,” said Jean La Rose, APTN CEO. “Every year, series acquired or licensed by the networks are assessed on our programming needs. APTN welcomes program production proposals from independent Aboriginal Producers across Canada. The Requests for proposals that the network puts out a few times a year detail our requirements and sometimes very interesting proposals that do not reflect our needs are offered.”
The APTN CEO continued her reference to Access 7 airing The Four.

“The network is pleased to see other broadcasters offering a voice to Aboriginal Peoples in various regions of Canada. APTN has limited resources but the network is working to increase those resources to offer broader opportunities to our producers and expand the range and regional content offered by the network.”
Peterson says that he thinks The Four has potential for nation-wide broadcast.

“The sky is the limit for these amazing women, they have great conversions and stories which makes for great television.”
Interested in catching a show? You can tune in to The Four on Access 7 in Regina at 7pm every Tuesday.

TRAGICALLY HIP Advocate For First Nations in Final Show

By Lee Waters

In what may have been the Tragically Hip’s final performance on Saturday in Kingston, Ontario, Gord Downie spoke passionately of struggles in Canadian native communities, specifically Attawapiskat.

Downie, who revealed earlier this year that he has terminal brain cancer, used the podium in an emotional and televised concert to bring awareness to First Nations youth as well as endorse Prime Minister Trudeau, who was in the audience. “You know, Prime Minister Trudeau’s got me; his work with First Nations. He’s got everybody. He’s going to take us where we need to go.” He told the crowd and estimated 11 million watching. “He cares about the people way up north, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore — trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there.” Downie continued, specifically pointing out the recent issues in Attawapiskat, with an air of encouragement, “It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there, but it isn’t cool and everybody knows that. It’s really, really bad, but we’re going to figure it out, you’re going to figure it out.”

 

The Tragically Hip gave their final performance on August 20th in Kingston, Ontario, using the opportunity to advocate for Northern Indigenous Communities. Photo © Mike Homer

The Tragically Hip gave their final performance on August 20th in Kingston, Ontario, using the opportunity to advocate for Northern Indigenous Communities. Photo © Mike Homer

That statement struck a chord with First Nation Chief Bruce Shisheesh, who said it’s clear based on the Hip’s song “Goodnight Attawapiskat” that “Gord has always had a special place in his heart” for the community, he told CBC.

“It’s a beautiful song,” Shisheesh said. He thanked Downie for the tribute and his words on stage in a video posted online Monday. “Our young people have suffered so much, a lot of them tried to commit suicide,” Shisheesh told CBC, referring to the several states of emergency that have been issued in Attawapiskat related to overcrowding and poor housing, as well as a suicide crisis that overtook the Ontario community in April.

Shisheesh suggested having a formal ceremony in Ottawa, holding a powwow, making Downie an honorary chief or hosting a healing ceremony would all be great gestures of gratitude. He says his dream would be to have Downie visit Attawapiskat and honour him right there in the community, he told CBC, “Downie’s presence would also help boost morale on the First Nation — especially with younger people.”

“We could do this in Attawapiskat because he wrote this song for our community. It is fitting for us, our wishes to organize the honorary ceremony,” Shisheesh said, adding he plans to reach out to other northern First Nation chiefs in Ontario and Manitoba in the coming days to see what they think of the idea.

Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents most of northern Manitoba’s First Nations was also moved by Downie’s message. She suggested naming a lake or a park after the musician but wanted to be respectful and wait to hear his wishes.  In a video posted on Facebook, North Wilson sent a message to Downie, first in Cree and then translated in English:

“I want to thank you for your love and care and concern for us. We love you, too. God bless you.

Downie and the Tragically Hip are known for their activism. Downie has served on the board of environmental group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. He’s also performed concerts near James Bay to raise awareness of the many issues facing those First Nations communities.

Watched by fans in living rooms, bars, and public squares across the nation, the concert was one to remember. The band’s hits have provided a soundtrack to many Canadians’ lives through the last three decades. In a brief interview with the CBC, Trudeau reminisced about how he used to ‘enjoy the band’s music during his high school and university years,’ a heartfelt sentiment shared by many.

Catalyzing Clean Energy

By Ian Scholten & Isaac Prazmowski

On July 10, 2016, sixteen Indigenous people who had never met before, joined each other in Wakefield, Quebec for the inaugural week of the 20/20 Catalysts Program. They came from far and wide. From Tobique First Nation in the east to Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in west. Iqaluit in the north to the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne in the south. The group included people like Eileen Marlowe, a Communications Advisor for the Government of Northwest Territories, David Jeremiah, an Energy Manager for North Caribou Lake First Nation, and Dylan Whiteduck, an Economic Development Officer for Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. Though they came from different parts of the country, held different roles, and had different experiences, they shared a vision of using clean energy to benefit their communities.

And they’d come to the 20/20 Catalysts Program to learn how to do this in the most effective way possible.

Developed by Lumos Clean Energy Advisors and the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, the Program promotes clean energy across Canada by giving participants the tools, know-how, and network they need to achieve their clean energy vision. It’s the most thorough Indigenous clean energy capacity building program in Canada.

Learning in the Program is led by over two dozen Indigenous and non-Indigenous mentors and experts with a proven track record of developing successful clean energy projects.

Program Mentors like Troy Jerome (pictured above) shed light on how to make the most of the clean energy projects - not just in terms of jobs and revenue, but to build strong nations.

Program Mentors like Troy Jerome (pictured above) shed light on how to make the most of the clean energy projects – not just in terms of jobs and revenue, but to build strong nations.

These mentors include people like Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, who spurred the development of an over $300-million-dollar wind farm which has 50% ownership by the three local Mi’gmaq communities. Troy emphasized the fact that “the wind farm wasn’t a wind farm project; it was a nation building project” for the First Nations involved. It’s a mantra that truly reflects the potential of clean energy projects for Indigenous communities.

The week in Wakefield was the first of three weeks of intensive learning that the Catalysts (program participants) will go through. Throughout these weeks they’ll cover five key skill areas that are needed maximize the social and economic benefits communities see through clean energy projects: community engagement, economic development, job creation, project financing, and legacy building.

Though they’re only a third of the way through the Program, the vision and impact of this year’s group of Catalysts is already astounding.
David Jeremiah of North Caribou Lake First Nation, is “proud to be part of this historic moment for Indigenous communities” – referring to the tipping point for Indigenous leadership in clean energy development in Canada. North Caribou Lake is a diesel dependent community and is currently on grid-restriction, which means they have no room for growth because their generators are not able to produce the required additional power. Yet David sees an opportunity here. He is turning to clean energy and energy efficient designs in order to construct much needed housing that is entirely self-sufficient – not reliant on diesel at all.

Others, like Grant Sullivan, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Council International, and JP Pinard, who is working with Kluane First Nation, are collaborating in an effort to accelerate the opportunities to develop renewable energy development across the northern territories where many communities still rely on diesel powered generators.
Still others, like Tanna Pirie-Wilson, CEO of Tobique First Nation, see the tremendous potential for clean energy to facilitate reconciliation as Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and communities come together to develop projects that yield greater returns than could be produced by any one group going it alone.

Catalysts spent a lot of time discussing new ideas and how they can apply them to their own projects.

Catalysts spent a lot of time discussing new ideas and how they can apply them to their own projects.

The network developed through the Program – linking Catalysts to mentors, experts, and supporting organizations like Bullfrog Power, NB Power, the Government of Ontario, and IBM – will connect previously disjointed Indigenous clean energy efforts and pave the way for unprecedented cooperation among Canadians.

And that is ultimately what this is all about: creating a system to expand Indigenous clean energy capacity and develop renewable energy projects.

Currently there are over 100 clean energy projects with Indigenous involvement in Canada. The participants in the Program are part of a group catalyzing another 200 large scale projects in the coming years, generating immense benefits for communities across the country.

If any of this gets you excited, learn more about the Program at: www.2020catalystsprogram.com. Applications are now open for the 2017 Program.

BC FIRST NATIONS JUDGE MARION BULLER NAMED CHIEF COMMISSIONER

By Frank Larue

On August 3, the Federal government announced the Chief Commissioner of a five-member task force who will be responsible for the inquiry on missing and murdered women. B.C. First Nations judge Marion Bulller has been nominated. Buller was the first female aboriginal judge in British Columbia and was appointed in 1994. She founded B.C.’s First Nations Court and was commission counsel for the Cariboo-Chilcotin Justice Inquiry that examined the treatment Aboriginal people were receiving from the legal system. The Law Foundation of B.C. chair Warren Milman described Marion Buller as “An extraordinary human being. We were very glad to have her and disappointed that we’re going to lose her, but it’s for a good cause.”

Judge Marion Buller speaks after being announced as the chief commissioner of the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Judge Marion Buller speaks after being announced as the chief commissioner of the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The commissioners who will be joining Buller are Michele Audette former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and Qajaq Robinson, Nunavut lawyer specialising in Aboriginal issues and land and treaty claims, Marlyn Poitras from the University of Saskatchewan, and Brian Eyolfson former vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. They have their work cut for them. The inquiry that was stalled by the Harper government for years and now is scheduled to begin in September comes with high expectations. Buller knows the problems that lay ahead but she has stated that, “The spirit of the missing and Indigenous women and girls will be close in our hearts and in our minds as we do our work.” Buller told the media, “The families and the survivors losses, pain, strength and courage will inspire our works.”

A budget of $53.8 million has been set aside to finance the inquiry and it will run from September 1st to Dec 31, 2018. Their mission is to find the root causes behind the violence against Indigenous women and girls and what role the legal system plays, including the police, when it comes to Indigenous women. “We need to identify the causes of these disparities and take action now to end them,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told the CBC, “The government of Canada is committed to doing better and we will take action together to reach the goal of eliminating, as much as we can, violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

Gladys Tollley’s mother was killed by a Quebec Provincial police cruiser while she was crossing a highway. She told the CBC, “I hope we get justice. Pray, pray and pray for us. We want justice, it hurts too much. I don’t want to do this any more, it hurts. I’m just hoping and praying that this helps some families if not mine, that’s all.”

Will she get justice? If history has demonstrated anything the answer will be no. The Saskatchewan police who left native men in desolated areas in Saskatoon so they could freeze were never punished thanks to the internal investigation, which, like all police investigations, never holds any of their officers accountable for acts of racism against native people.

Everyone may be thankful for the inquiry but there are many skeptics, “Families made it very clear that they wanted answers,” Native Women’s Association of Canada president Dawn Lavell-Harvard told the media, “that many cases they felt were closed prematurely, that they don’t accept the conclusion. They want those reopened.” The commissioners may suggest cold cases be re-opened but a request will likely be turned down by police who will demand a budget for re-opening cases. This would mean the government would have to come up with the cash, which will take time and therefore the cases may remain cold.

The cost of the inquiry which is now at 53.8 million, seems high. “If we are spending $50+ million, that could have been going towards shelters and programs and services,” Cathy Macleod, conservative party critic for Indigenous Affairs told the CBC, “So it’s got to provide a real tangible path forward.” Charlie Angus NDP critic for Indigenous Affairs is afraid the inquiry might raise false expectations, “I hope the pressure will be on to put the resources in now to keep other young women from being trafficked or victimized or murdered.”

The main concern is will the inquiry change anything or will their findings simply confirm the Truth and Reconciliation findings. The RCMP receiver $7 million dollar budget for several years to solve the Highway of Tears murders and came up with nothing. Twenty-seven women have disappeared yet the task forces were not able to solve anything of value. The native bands who live near the Highway of Tears demands for a shuttle bus service so native women would no longer have hitchhike, were never taken seriously and the millions spent on the RCMP served no purpose. We don’t need to know that racism is part of the problem, the legal system failures need to be examined and why native women in the sex trade work on street corners. This will solve nothing, we need action and the inquiry is supposed to be the stepping-stone to action from the government.

In a recent meeting of police chiefs in Winnipeg, the question of missing women came up and the RCMP admitted that they had racists in uniform. If native women are five times more likely to deal with violence than white women, police should be more sensitive to the problem. “We cannot ignore the fact that many family members and survivors of violence do not feel like they were treated respectfully or fairly by the justice system,” NWAC president Dawn Lavell-Harvard told the CBC.

THIRTY NEW HOMES FOR MISIPAWISTIK CREE NATION IN MANITOBA

by Frank LaRue

“The main thing for us is the mould issue. All our houses are subject to mould because the river here never freezes,” Chief Harold Turner of the Misipawistik Cree Nation (MCN).

The housing issue for Indigenous people remains a priority for the federal government who have set up a fund for native housing. Chief Harold Turner of the Misipawistik Cree Nation borrowed $9 million to build 30 new houses, which are mould and fire resistant. Architect Douglas Cardinal designed new the houses that will hopefully prevent mould. Cardinal was wary of the previous pre-fabricated homes that he felt ‘weren’t built with native people in mind,’ being “Extremely unhealthy houses, they’re built so badly,” he stated.

The problem with pre-fabricated homes, according to Cardinal who was the architect for the Canadian Museum of History and the Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, is “the condensation build-up along vapour barriers which line the insulation in the walls. Humidity builds up along the plastic, which leads to mould growth.” The spores created by mould create respiratory issues including coughing, allergic reactions and symptoms of asthma, and is harmful for children and the elderly. This information is from Health Canada, proving the government has known for years about this problem, which Cardinal refers to as the Silent Killer.

Douglas Cardinal’s designer homes use cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is environmentally sustainable and has replaced concrete and steel. “The timber structures like this are lighter than concrete or steel but because they’re heavy timber construction, they’re even more fireproof,” he explained. Cardinal’s experience with controlling humidity is extensive after designing the Canadian Museum of History, a building which had to have a 50% humidity level to keep the artifacts intact. There are no basements because in Cardinal’s words, “basements can lead to increased humidity as well as radon gas in the home.” Cardinal also mentioned that the ground floor would also resist mould.

Misipawistik Cree Nation Chief Harold Turner said many homes in the community have mould problems because of their proximity to open water year-round. (Winnipeg Free Press/CP)

Misipawistik Cree Nation Chief Harold Turner said many homes in the community have mould problems because of their proximity to open water year-round. (Winnipeg Free Press/CP)

Chief Turner is not a hundred percent convinced, but he is willing to take the chance and if it works, Douglas Cardinal’s design with CLT might provide a solution for the northern Ontario Bands who are dealing with the same mould and poor housing problems. “If they are what they say they are…then obviously we’ll be purchasing more in the future,” Chief Turner told the CBC. Turner had to secure a loan to buy the houses because he feels the government is more promises than action. “We can’t wait for the federal government to build the homes since even though they are obligated to build us homes under treaty, they failed us.”

ALTAGAS AND HALFWAY RIVER FIRST NATION SIGN RELATIONSHIP AGREEMENT

Calgary, Alberta (July, 2016)

Today, AltaGas Ltd. (“AltaGas”) and Halfway River First Nation (HRFN) signed a Comprehensive Relationship Agreement. The ten-year agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory.
“This agreement supports AltaGas’ three guiding principles for developing energy infrastructure: respect the land, share the benefits, and nurture long-term relationships,” said David Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer of AltaGas. “We look forward to continuing to build a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with HRFN that recognizes and respects their values and traditions.”

“We are pleased to sign this relationship agreement with AltaGas,” said Chief Darlene Hunter of Halfway River First Nation. “By working together with AltaGas, we have developed an agreement that will benefit our community for many years to come.”

Halfway River First Nation Chief Darlene Hunter and President and CEO of AltaGas David Harris celebrate after signing a ten-year Comprehensive Relationship Agreement in Calgary. The agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory. Photographer: Todd Korol

Halfway River First Nation Chief Darlene Hunter and President and CEO of AltaGas David Harris celebrate after signing a ten-year Comprehensive Relationship Agreement in Calgary. The agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory. Photographer: Todd Korol

AltaGas is constructing its Townsend Facility approximately 100 kilometres north of Fort St. John in Northeast British Columbia on HRFN territory. When completed, the Facility will include a 198 million cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) shallow-cut natural gas processing facility, a gathering pipeline, sales pipeline, two liquids egress pipelines, and a truck terminal on the Alaska Highway. The Townsend Facility is a key component of AltaGas’ Northeast British Columbia energy strategy. The Project has provided members of HRFN with employment opportunities during construction and will continue do so once operational.

“This agreement between AltaGas and the Halfway River First Nation is an important step towards sharing the prosperity that comes with natural gas development,” said the Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, for the Province of British Columbia. “The growth of a sustainable, responsible natural gas sector will bring substantial financial benefits, jobs and new business opportunities to Halfway River and other First Nations communities throughout northern B.C.”

SHOPPING SHOULD BE OUTLAWED

Shopping is like any other ruthless, repulsive, destructive habit, and furthermore, I think it should be regulated and policed. Anyone caught with more than they need in their shopping carts should face the fact that they may be a shop-o-holic!

As you may have already surmised I’m the poor husband of an admitted binge shopper. My misfortunate wife can’t pass up a deal, no more than an alcoholic can say no to a happy hour.

Much to my wife’s dismay; here’s a story that I like to tell to other husbands about my wife’s need for speed in the aisle-ways and buy-ways of stores everywhere.

SHOPPING-SHOULD-BE-OUTLAWED

There was this mighty shopper who could hunt down and slash the best prices. She could smell a deal from across the food court. Store owners clambered for her attention with sales, discounts and bargain bins. She was the reason they created the sacred day of: Dollar forty-nine day, Tuesday.

The truth is every Saturday without fail my lady love would head to the local shopping center. Then one weekend she felt a little under the weather and decided not to hit the tills for her thrills – that’s when the phone rang.

“Hello”, I said, the other person stuttered “Oh, ah, excuse me, wrong number.” Then they hung up – but I didn’t.

Holding the phone I pretended to listen intently, followed by the occasional, yes, yes, I got it. And with every passing second my wife’s curiosity grew and grew. “Who is it? Who’s on the phone?”

I finally said, “yes I’ll tell her.” Tell me what she exclaimed. With a serious look on my face I told her: “It’s Wal-mart, they’re wondering where the hell you’re at.”

Now I know I’m going to catch it from every woman who reads between these lines. But most men just don’t get the exhilaration most women seem to get from shopping, browsing and wondering aimlessly for hours at a time. I know for myself, I could walk into a store and pick up a loaf of bread, pay for it, drive home and toast it before most women could even get their shopping cart into the bakery isle.

On the twenty-forth day of December I like to go to the malls just to watch men scramble from one counter to another. They’ll grab something look at it and you can tell that they’re trying to match it with someone who’s on they’re list. A complete look of panic, stress and exasperation is written all over their faces – it’s like watching a fuse burning down before it goes boom.

As much as I dislike the chore of shopping; I like clean new clothes, enjoy fresh food and appreciate pillowy softness.

As I look around my home I realize how lucky I am to have a shopper-spouse. In these tough economic times every dollar counts. Just like the food chain in the wild kingdom; shoppers are an essential link in the evolution of business. If a product doesn’t sell, the company goes out of business, and the employees will lose their jobs.

Alcoholics can attend AA meetings drug users have rehabilitation centers even crazy people have safe padded institutes. If a man gets too drunk in a bar they’ll tell him that he’s had enough to drink, and then they’ll ask him to leave – so why isn’t there a shop-therapist or burly buying-bouncer at every mall?

THE END

Bernie Bates is a writer and an artist Email him at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca

New Town Being Built on BC First Nation

By Kelly Many Guns

When entering Vancouver Island’s Stz’uminus First Nation’s Oyster Bay, drivers see a billboard sign that reads, “We are building a new town.” For months, the billboard has piqued the interest of many local residents, and last month construction began on the Oyster Bay Development, which will continue for at least the next five years.

Construction starts on New Town. Photo Submitted.

Construction starts on New Town. Photo Submitted.

Ray Gauthier, CEO Coast Salish Development says, the first phase of development is to develop 65 acres of land, with 10,000 square feet of retail & office buildings, an Esso Gas station and hotel and living residential area, all of which is already under construction.

“The land development at Oyster Bay has taken 4 to 5 years of planning,” said Gauthier. “When we’re done the hotel next summer, we’ll be creating 30 new jobs for the local community.”

Creating new jobs and a future is something the people of the Stz’uminus First Nation have been waiting for a long time.

“It couldn’t happen any faster,” said Gauthier, “some of the challenges we face are that First Nations businesses always have to be ten times better, and financing on First Nations is not easy, it’s a bit of a challenge.”

The community is ready to embrace those challenges.

Construction at Oyster Bay is the culmination of the Stz’uminus First Nation’s efforts to become a self-sufficient and self-governing nation. Stz’uminus has been working toward this goal to literally build a new future for many years and is essentially building a new municipality brick by brick.

Today, that work is yielding tangible results. Expected to grow to 1,300 residents by 2020, Oyster Bay is the keystone for Stz’uminus First Nation’s economic development. The new businesses and residents joining Oyster Bay will translate to revenue for the Nation, opportunities for Stz’uminus members and improved services for the entire community. With construction underway, the new town of Oyster Bay is fast becoming a reality.

Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott said, “To be successful, we knew we had to be able to move at the speed of business. A lot of work has gone into achieving that.”

Online backlash over shooting death fuels racial tensions

By Lloyd Dohla

Saskatchewan First Nations leaders are condemning the provincial RCMP’s handling of the fatal shooting of a young unarmed aboriginal man near Biggar, Sask. by a local farmer.
Colten Boushie, 22, was killed after the vehicle he was in with friends drove onto a farm in the rural municipality of Glenside, west of Saskatoon, on Tuesday, August 10th, 2016.
Boushie’s cousin, Eric Meechance said he and three other friends were also in the car and were on their way home to the Red Pheasant First Nation after spending an afternoon swimming at a river.

"ColtenBoushie" Caption: Boushie was 22 years old when he was fatally shot. Photo: Facebook

“ColtenBoushie” Caption: Boushie was 22 years old when he was fatally shot. Photo: Facebook


Meechance said they had a tire go flat and drove to the farm looking for help when Boushie was shot.
“That guy just came out of nowhere and just smashed our window,” said Meechance, in a CP interview. Meechance said they tried to drive away but collided with a parked car. The friends then ran for safety. “Running is probably what saved our lives, you know, because if he’s going to shoot one, he probably would have shot us all,” he said. “He wasn’t shooting to scare us. He was shooting to kill.”

Gerald Stanley, 54, is charged with second-degree murder. The first RCMP news release said that the people in the car had been taken into custody as part of a theft investigation. Leaders of the Federation of Sovereign Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN), formerly the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said the shooting death of the young man brings to light Saskatchewan’s underlying racial issues and tension between the communities. They say the RCMP’s initial release about the fatal shooting was biased and influenced subsequent media reports and an online racist public backlash against the province’s First Nations people.

“The family of Colten Boushie is devastated by the loss of their son,” said Chief Clint Wuttunee of the Red Pheasant First Nation. “The media’s initial portrayal of the event made the incident sound like a crime was about to be committed by the passengers in the car. The media based their reports on the RCMP’s press release.” FSIN leader Chief Bobby Cameron said they are extremely disappointed in the RCMP’s handling of the case. “The news release the RCMP issued the following day provided just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified,” said the grand chief. “The messaging in an a RCMP news release should not fuel racial tensions.”

In a statement issued late Friday, August 12th, Saskatchewan RCMP Supt. Rob Cameron expressed his condolences to the friends and family of Colten Boushie and addressed the FSIN statement about the issue. “It is deeply concerning for us as the provincial police service to hear one of our media releases categorized as biased and not in line with the relationship we have developed with the FSIN and all the communities we serve, he said. “We have heard the concerns of the FSIN and we welcome the opportunity to discuss them and work together to address them. The FSIN is one of our essential partners and we value this partnership and their input greatly.

Cameron said the provincial RCMP force needs the support of its partners and the communities they serve to keep the province safe. The Supt. Cameron added comments made on social media are concerning and could be construed as criminal in nature. “It’s understandable that during a situation like this emotions run high, but it is important to let the court process run its course,” he said. “Therefore, I ask for everyone to be respectful in their online communication.”

Since the incident, racist comments about the shot and slain youth have appeared on Facebook and other social media sites. Some have been taken down, but screenshots of the comments are still circulating online. AFN national chief Perry Bellgarde condemned the racist online comments made in the wake of the tragedy. “To see racist, derogatory comments about this young man and about First Nations people online and on social media on response to this tragedy is profoundly disturbing … they are racist and insensitive and ignorant. They are disheartening and a stark reminder of how much work we have to do to eliminate racism and discrimination. In too many ways, this is a sad day for Saskatchewan.”

The FSIN executive is demanding an immediate strategy from the top Sask. RCMP to examine whether the shooting is a crime based on race – a hate crime. The FSIN is calling for a review of the RCMP’s communication policies and writing guidelines in respect to the August 10th, media release about the shooting incident. “The people of this province deserve an immediate strategy to be put in plane by all levels of leaders in order to feel safe, including the assurance that this tragedy will be investigated for what it is, a crime based on race. Coulen Boushie deserves justice and anything else is unacceptable.”

HUSKY OIL SPILL IN SASKATCHEWAN RAISES QUESTIONS

By Frank LaRue

‘In some ways, the oil industry in Saskatchewan has been given a free pass by the province. Pipelines seem to be a particularly under-regulated part of the industry,” Regina University professor, Emily Eaton.

The pipeline discussions and protests will not go away and neither will the oil spills. There have been eleven this year, three of which were from Husky in the Lloydminster area. The first spill happened last December, a relatively small spill of three gallons but in June there was another Husky spill, leading to fifty-three gallons lost near the Saskatchewan river.

Neither of the spills were reported and now in July 50,000 gallons of oil and diluent, the equivalent to 1,572 barrels, leaked into the north Saskatchewan river. The city of Prince Albert have already been given $5 million from Husky but are expected to hand the company a bill for damages that will far exceed that budget. The expenditures so far include salaries of city workers and contractors, material costs in constructing two water pipelines, wages for workers involved with running the city’s Emergency Operations Centre and lost wages from outdoor workers at civic facilities who were temporarily laid off for nearly three weeks.

A great blue heron brought in for treatment at Maidstone, Sask., near the site of a pipeline leak that spilled more than 200,000 litres of oil into the North Saskatchewan River. Photo Credit: CBC News, Submitted by Wendy Wandler

A great blue heron brought in for treatment at Maidstone, Sask., near the site of a pipeline leak that spilled more than 200,000 litres of oil into the North Saskatchewan River. Photo Credit: CBC News, Submitted by Wendy Wandler

“The majority of the staff is students that rely on their wages earned during the summer to pay for tuition,” Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne told the CBC. “The city is doing their part to make sure they are taken care of and we have no doubt that Husky will then reimburse us for the lost hours to our staff and facilities during the oil spill situation.” The bill is expected to be $2 million a month to maintain the water supply until WASA gives its stamp of approval that the water from the river is again drinkable.

Dionne seems to be confident that Husky will live up to it’s responsibilities and the $5 million is a good sign. “This is a payment in good faith. Husky Energy has promised from the onset that they would take full responsibility for the spill and pay all associated costs,” Dionne told the CBC, “And the payment is a good indicator that they are delivering on that promise.”

Husky will have several questions to answer, how three oil spills happened in the same area within a year and nothing was done to prevent them, for example. Fifty thousand gallons of oil seeps into the North Saskatchewan river and all Husky can say is “We’ll look into it.” There has been no valid explanation as to why the cleaning crew didn’t start until a day after the spill. These are the issues that protesters against the pipelines in BC have been pointing out for years.

The stark reality is that oil companies are not honest and that government cast a blind eye on oil company practices. The Saskatchewan Energy Regulator stated, “throughout the course of our review, we will further examine our regulatory practice. Should the review identify any necessary changes, we will be prepared to act quickly to make those changes.”

It’s a bit late to make changes now that the spill has already happened – you don’t lock the stable door after the horses have escaped. The reality is that Husky are making up their own rules and environmental concerns have never been their priority. Perhaps if there were a large government fine for every oil spill, things would change. If the company continues to have spills they should have all licences removed and be replaced by another company who are more sensitive to the dangers of oil spills. If the pipelines are to be used to transport oil they must be watched carefully and the companies that own them should always be under heavy surveillance.