I agree with Liberal MP Robert Falcon Ouellette`s comments that INAC should be abolished. Kudos to him for speaking out and avoiding the sugar coating political approach. But….. he lost me when he said that the government should “really try and build another department,which would aim for 100 per cent new hires who are indigenous, and who understand the issues.” Really…You think that putting brown faces in the chairs within a bureaucracy will change things, Mr. Ouellette. You obviously inadvertently inhaled some of that whacky tobacco that your PM is to legalize and Phil Fontaine is to peddle on reserves, according to a recent news release about his launching a joint venture with Cronos Group.
Leadership at the community level must be proactive, bold and not wait for solutions from Governments.
My friends, the answer is at our doorstep. Why must we wait for Government answers and interpretations of reconciliation? Remember, those leaders of our various groups like AFN perform an advocacy function only and really do not represent the collect views of those at the community level. As such, any solutions will be long term. The answer lies within each of our communities. Leadership at the community level must be proactive, bold and not wait for solutions from Governments.
There are examples where First Nations have taken a pro active stance. The Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella in B.C. is an example. They have a solid Governance structure comprising elected officals and the Hemas ( Council of Elders/Hereditary Chiefs). Their elected officals also includes an off reserve representative.The Heiltsuk exerted a show of sovereignty in preventing non Aboriginal boats from entering their territorial waters to fish for herring because of dwindling stocks despite DOF claims to the contrary. They saw a need to protect their annual Spawn on Kelp fishery which is important from a food and cultural perspective. They enacted a Declaration of Title and Rights over their traditional territory and manage resources through a separate Helisuk Integrated Management of Resources Department which also issues community member licenses to fish and hunt. The community also has a summer program where the children attend a camp and learn about the culture and the importance of their role as stewards of Mother Earth. It instills pride in the youth and what means to be Heiltsuk.
The strategy for success lies in a few basic steps which will allow a community to get noticed and establish a solid negotiating position. These steps should include a solid organizational structure with good governance which empowers community members and separates politics from business, a clear and concise vision statement which reflects where community members see the future of the community, a strategic plan on how to achieve the vision with input and buy-in by community members, a Declaration of Title and Rights over traditional territory and a Consultation Protocol which is a mandate from community members and hold elected officals accountable to community members.
Leadership is about taking bold steps and goes beyond talking about inherent rights. Rather, it is about exercising those rights!
PS. For those interested, I have prepared a slide presentation encompassing the strategy for success that I speak about above. I will gladly forward to you to use as you see fit. In that regard, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The department governing aboriginal affairs was founded on the premise of ‘the destruction of indigenous peoples,’ says Robert-Falcon Ouellette.
Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette says the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs may have to be rebuilt entirely if reconciliation is to happen.
The MP from Winnipeg Centre, Man. said he thinks the history of the department that was responsible for many years for the marginalization of indigenous people runs too deep, and that for the culture to truly change, an entirely new department, staffed with as many indigenous people as possible, ought to be created.
Mr. Ouellette, who served in the military in his youth, compared changing government culture on indigenous rights to the changing of military culture to recognize human rights.
“In 1996, we had huge issues surrounding harassment and human rights [in the military],” he said. “We had a managerial system that was completely broken. I was told when I joined the military that I did not have human rights.”
More talks, instead of action, from the federal government ‘is beyond sickening, it’s neglectful,’ critic says
Trudeau announces steps to ‘renew’ indigenous… 1:53
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a trio of indigenous leaders Thursday called for patience and more time as they committed themselves to more negotiations and more study to improve the lives of Canada’s indigenous peoples.
Trudeau and leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Taparit Kanatami and the Metis National Council met on Parliament Hill Thursday morning where they agreed that Trudeau and his ministers would meet regularly over the coming years with members of each organization.
Trudeau also announced $10 million for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, a research group set up to track the implementation of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
But many other indigenous leaders as well as political opponents of the federal Liberals are becoming impatient and frustrated at the continued tweaking of processes and a perceived lack of concrete action that could improve the lives of indigenous Canadians.
“This announcement is not an act of reconciliation,” said Pam Palmater, the chair of the indigenous governance program at Ryerson University in Toronto and one of the leading critics of not only the federal government but also of the Assembly of First Nations. “This is the same old delay tactic used by previous governments to make it look like they are doing something when faced with growing criticism that they are not doing enough.”
Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the AFN, cautioned that “it was not realistic” to think the gap in quality-of-life standards between indigenous Canadians and non-indigenous Canadians was going to close in Trudeau’s first year on the job.
Both he and Trudeau pointed to a handful of projects that have improved conditions in indigenous communities that got started over the last year.
“We know there’s a strategy and plan moving forward. To close this gap is not going to happen in 12 months. Long-term sustainable investments — that’s the trick. That’s the thing,” Bellegarde said.
David Chartrand, vice-president of the Metis National Council of Canada, was even more explicit in his message of patience to those indigenous Canadians frustrated with conditions in their communities.
“I send a message back to my own people. The prime minister has promised a lot. And he’s trying to do a lot and he’s trying to catch up for decades of unfinished business. And now we can’t be putting him in a position that we expect him to do it all immediately, (that by) tomorrow morning our problems are resolved. It ain’t going to happen.” said Chartrand. “We’ve got to be conscious of that.”
Palmater, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 to become AFN national chief, was sharply critical of that kind of counsel.
“While I fully expect the government to continue the same tactics it has used since contact, what isn’t acceptable are the corporate heads of national aboriginal organizations telling us to be patient and telling us to wait,” Palmater said.
At a special meeting of the Assembly of First Nations last week in week in Gatineau, Que., there was some grumbling among some chiefs about the slow pace of change under the Trudeau government.
“At this point it is clear that real change has been replaced with incremental change,” said Hayden King, an assistant professor in the school of public policy and administration at Carleton University. “Even if the shift to an incremental approach was predictable, it is still frustrating, more so, when justified under the pretense of ‘getting it right.’ I think that’s disingenuous.
“It is apparent that we are stuck in reconciliatory inertia. And that breeds cynicism of this government and the national First Nation and Métis organizations that endorse incremental change.”
Conservative and New Democrat MPs have teamed up over the last few months in Parliament to press the Trudeau government to more quickly implement changes they say would immediately help indigenous people.
New Democrat Charlie Angus, for example, has led the charge to get the government to implement Jordan’s Principle, something it was ordered to do last January by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
Jordan’s Principle requires health care providers to provide care to indigenous children even when there may be unresolved disputes over which level of government is responsible for that care.
The government says it has implemented Jordan’s Principle and that more than 900 children have benefitted. In response, critics have cited dozens of anecdotes of indigenous children being denied health care by government bureaucrats or for lack of funds.
King said one of his “easy policy shifts: stopping the discrimination of First Nation children in government care.”
For Palmater, an announcement about more talks between the federal government and indigenous organizations “is beyond sickening, it’s neglectful.”
She argued that the federal government should be dealing aboriginal and treaty rights, resource rights and jurisdiction — the big issues at the heart of the dysfunctional relationship between the Crown and indigenous governments while making immediate fixes in other areas.
“There is no economic, administrative or legal impediment to the federal government acting tomorrow to take substantive actions to bring relief for our people,” said Palmater, a Mi’kmaw and member of Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. “They could tomorrow decide to end discriminatory funding and adjust contribution agreements for First Nations. They could decide tomorrow to comply with the Human Rights Tribunal and stop discriminatory funding for kids in care. Doing this would put good faith on the table. It’s a matter of political will.”
Smagnis Says: This is wrong in so many ways. Making money off the misery of our people and using croynism via his relationship with other Indian Act Chiefs to get rich!
Indigenous Roots, a partnership with Cronos Group, which owns two of Canada’s first licensed cannabis producers, is led by Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
An indigenous company is getting into the medical marijuana business for the first time through a joint venture partnership, with plans to expand into First Nations communities across the country.
Indigenous Roots, a partnership with Cronos Group, which owns two licensed cannabis producers, is led by Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. It’s focused on indigenous ownership and operation as well as providing jobs to First Nations communities, Fontaine said in an interview Tuesday.
It plans to target more indigenous involvement in the space, both through improving access for its customer base and by creating a network of indigenous-run marijuana facilities on reserves across the country.
“It’s about revitalization of First Nations economies, it’s about wealth creation, it’s about providing a service to an underserved client group, it’s about jobs, training and its about capacity building. And I think there are real opportunities here for the indigenous community.”
The group will also lobby the federal government to provide medical marijuana insurance coverage for indigenous people, the way it does for veterans — something Fontaine believes is imminent and inevitable.
The joint venture aims to provide a model for more widespread First Nations involvement in the medical cannabis industry, and Indigenous Roots plans to consult and work with First Nations interested in participating through investment, job opportunities and having a facility on their land.
“This is about compassionate care and providing help and alternatives to some other substances that cause addiction and do more damage than good,” said Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group.
“We just agreed that it was time for an indigenous group to have access, whether on a partnership basis or on their land and this is a way to accelerate that. This is about access to the industry for indigenous people, both on the producer and the consumer side.”
The partnership with Cronos, which owns medical marijuana producers In The Zone Produce Ltd. and Peace Naturals Projects Inc., provides First Nations an expedited path for investment, operation and participation in the nascent marijuana economy, as it doesn’t need to spend years working through Health Canada’s intense licensed producer application process.
Instead, the partnership with existing licensed producers will provide a platform for expansion between In The Zone’s operations in B.C. and Peace Naturals in Ontario through expansion permits. The two companies collectively own 145 acres of land and are licenced to produce 2,600 kilograms of cannabis annually.
Cronos will provide land, licence, intellectual property and engineering expertise for the joint venture’s flagship facility. In exchange, it will take 50 per cent of the joint venture’s operating profits.
Indigenous Roots will first hive off a few acres of In the Zone’s 31-acre lot in British Columbia’s Okanagan region. Shovels will hit the ground in the spring, when Indigenous Roots branded products will also be available to patients using Cronos’s existing inventories.
Cronos is building up a portfolio of marijuana brands through its minority stakes in three other licensed producers and two companies in the application process to become licensed marijuana producers.