By John Geddes - Friday, February 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
When Canadians hear the Prime Minister calling Senator Patrick Brazeau’s situation “extremely appalling”—from Stephen Harper, uncharacteristically vivid language—they might well wonder how this character rated a Senate seat in the first place.
The short, glib answer is that he didn’t. In a way, no senator does. The continued existence of an upper chamber in our Parliament that exists to be packed with partisan patronage appointees remains a national embarrassment—or would be if we thought about it much.
But Brazeau’s personal downfall is, of course, entirely distinct from the institutional problem of a standing affront to democracy right there on Parliament Hill. Nobody should suggest that the charges of assault and sexual assault laid against him today somehow reflect on the Senate in general.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 5:32 AM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is expected to…
VANCOUVER – The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is expected to talk today about justice, fairness, as well as political, social and economic development for aboriginals in Vancouver.
Shawn Atleo is returning to work after taking a doctor-ordered sick leave and will be joining other First Nations leaders at a special chiefs assembly at the Musqueam Community Recreation Centre.
The AFN says Atleo will emphasize how First Nations can move forward and maintain momentum in their struggle for change.
He’ll also be honoured by First Nations’ leaders during a special ceremony.
First Nations issues have been at the top of the political agenda recently because of actions like the 44-day fast by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa.
Thousands of people also marched in the streets and blocked highways to raise awareness about aboriginal issues under the Idle No More banner.
By Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
More disagreement over the presence of the Governor General
OTTAWA – Top First Nations chiefs from across the country have set aside their differences for now and signed on to a request for yet another meeting with the prime minister — all in an attempt to bring the protest by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence to an end.
The Assembly of First Nations’ executive agreed to the request in writing and sent a letter to Stephen Harper on the weekend, calling for a meeting as soon as Thursday — a day by which Shawn Atleo could well be back on the job.
Atleo took a sudden sick leave after his controversial meeting with Harper 10 days ago amidst a leadership crisis within the AFN. He issued a statement Monday saying he would be back in the saddle “later this week.”
Unlike the divisive Jan. 11 meeting, this week’s proposed meeting with Harper would include a broad range of chiefs as well as Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, as requested by Spence.
“The intent behind it is to try to end Chief Spence’s hunger strike,” said Morley Googoo, regional chief for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
And unlike the previous meeting, Spence’s spokesman says the Cree leader is onside.
“We all need to work together,” said Danny Metatawabin, adding that Spence was feeling “well, chirpy, happy” on Monday morning despite having spent the last six weeks subsisting only on fish broth and medicinal tea.
There’s nothing to suggest Harper is inclined to agree to the request, despite the newfound unity among chiefs. Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for the prime minister, said Harper would respond to the AFN’s letter “in due course.”
“For us, the next step is (meeting) National Chief Atleo, one-on-one, to hammer out some of the detail on the way forward,” MacDougall said.
The Governor General was not included in the previous meeting because it is the government that makes policy decisions in Canada, not the Queen’s representative, he added. “And that’s how we’re still looking at the matter.”
Still, MacDougall acknowledged that there is a great deal of pressure to show concrete results that will lead to material improvements for First Nations peoples.
“We have to keep up the momentum and keep showing that there is progress that can be made.”
Googoo said the best way for Harper to show goodwill and immediate progress would be to agree to the Jan. 24 meeting, which would be in addition to the meeting with Atleo to work on treaty implementation and comprehensive claims.
Thursday is the AFN’s “preferred date” for a broader meeting, he said, because it is the one-year anniversary of a major summit between chiefs, Harper and Johnston that was supposed to reinvigorate the Crown-First Nation relationship. But the AFN realizes there may be a need for some flexibility on the date since it is so soon, Googoo acknowledged.
He said he hopes that a solid commitment to such a meeting would be enough to entice Spence to end her protest.
Harper agreed to a meeting with the AFN, but his exclusion of Johnston and his setting of the meeting agenda prompted Spence and many other chiefs to orchestrate a boycott and question the leadership of Atleo, who went into the meeting despite loud protests in the streets.
In his statement on Monday, Atleo called for unity and rational discussion of internal disagreements. But he also opened the door to structural changes within the national organization, just as conflicts in the past have led to restructuring.
“Many changes were made; many more conversations remain,” Atleo writes.
“Let us ensure that those conversations are conducted with respect, respectful of our traditions, respectful of each other and respectful of our different approaches to winning progress for our peoples.”
But while angry chiefs have muted their criticism of Atleo for now, they still harbour concerns about his leadership.
“For Ontario, we’re just trying to maintain focus on what the objectives are…. There’s a concern regarding leadership but there’s a process and time for that,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, who boycotted the Jan. 11 meeting.
“The sense of urgency there is that Theresa Spence has indicated that she’ll continue on with her hunger strike until such time as a meeting takes place.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Theresa Spence repeats her demand that the Governor General be involved in a meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations leaders. And the Assembly of First Nations are apparently going to demand his presence at a meeting on Thursday.
For what it’s worth, David Johnston was part of the Crown-First Nations gathering a year ago, but he was not part of the working sessions that took place as part of that gathering. According to Rideau Hall, he participated in the opening ceremony, witnessed the smudging ceremony and honour songs, exchanged gifts with National Chief Shawn Atleo, delivered opening remarks and then departed.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM - 0 Comments
As he rode to a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last Friday, Shawn Atleo’s Blackberry buzzed. “Since you have decided to betray me, all I ask of you now is to help carry my cold dead body off this island,’’ the text message said.
It was sent in the name of Chief Theresa Spence, but those who saw the text believe it came from someone else in her circle on Victoria Island. But they were certain about one thing — the timing, moments before he went into one of the most important meetings of his life, was meant to destabilize the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and undermine his efforts at a meeting which many in his organization fiercely opposed.
By Paul Wells - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Paul Wells on Spence’s hunger strike and two ways forward
For a few hours on Jan. 11, several Aboriginal leaders, including Grand Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Matthew Coon Come, the long-time Quebec Cree leader, were in the Langevin Block meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Across the street, a succession of other figures in Aboriginal politics, some wearing Mohawk Warrior Society insignia, took turns speaking to an outdoor protest rally.
If nothing else, it was an efficient distribution of labour. Leaders who want to make concrete progress this year were inside the building, talking to the Prime Minister. Leaders who don’t were outside, doing what they do best.
It’s not that the people at the protest microphone don’t want First Nations’ lives to improve. It’s just that their preferred solutions—a fundamental rethink of Canada’s treaty obligations, a royal commission, an intervention from the Queen—are not on offer. And when I say “not on offer,” I don’t only mean not from the Conservatives. The extent to which NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has aligned himself with Atleo and the other leaders who are still talking with Harper is striking. So is the silence of the provincial premiers, who will have to share their resource revenues with First Nations if revenue-sharing is to be part of a solution. So the crowd outside was, in a very real sense, making best the enemy of the good. Continue…
By John Geddes - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM - 0 Comments
For a story in this week’s issue of Maclean’s, I interviewed several key figures about the ongoing controversy sparked by the “Idle No More” aboriginal protests, and the bid by the Assembly of First Nations to reassert its leadership through high-level, high-pressure talks with the federal government.
I focus on tensions over the process for settling comprehensive land claims. It’s not that this issue overshadows, say, improving education on reserves or figuring out how to give First Nations a share of resource revenues. But the claims negotiations do seem a clear point of friction, and thus a highly visible test for both the AFN’s leadership and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.
Duncan himself is, it seems to me, an inexplicably low-profile figure in all of this. After all, he’s the senior cabinet minister on the most-watched federal policy file of the past couple of months. Yet you don’t see all that much of him. Although he is far from a dynamic politician, Duncan is interesting if only for his unusually close personal links to First Nations.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 3:33 PM - 0 Comments
The Harper government announced yesterday that it will invest $330.8 million over two years “to sustain progress made to build and renovate water and wastewater infrastructure on reserve and to support the development of a long-term strategy to improve water quality in First Nation communities.” The funding commitment is about nine and a half months old, having first been made in the budget. At that time the Assembly of First Nations deemed it insufficient.
The 2012 budget commitment of $330 million over two years represents a continuation of the federal program. The two-year investment falls short of the estimated $4.7 billion in funding required as identified by the 2011 National Engineering Assessment. First Nations must continue to engage with the Government of Canada to develop a plan to implement the recommendations of the 2011 study and ensure a clear plan of investment.
The National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems was released in July 2011. The total cost for new servicing was projected to be $4.7 billion over ten years, but that projection comes with some caveats. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from National Chief Shawn Atleo on his decision to take a leave.
First Nations citizens have just witnessed one of the most important chapters in our recent history. Through the pressure of the grassroots, the sacrifices made by Chief Spence and her fellow strikers, and the work of many regional Chiefs and the National Executive of the AFN, we have seized the attention of Canadians and of this government.
We forced open the door to the PMO and to the Governor-General. We achieved a commitment to the personal leadership of the Prime Minister, the Privy Council Office and other senior ministers. Now they know that the whole world is watching what progress we make. Now they understand the consequences of failure.
We have a responsibility to work together to push forward our work that relates to each of the eight elements that emerged from our discussions this week – on Treaty, on comprehensive claims, resource revenue sharing, action to assess and halt provisions of legislation that contravene our rights, on the urgent needs of our communities and justice for our missing women. We have leaders in place to ensure that detailed work gets done. And now we have the public commitment of this government and this Prime Minister that they will treat these issues as their priorities.
I am proud of the support we received from First Nations citizens and Chiefs across Canada, even during the most difficult days. There were many long conference calls, late night meetings, and frustrations in the past two weeks. I regret to have to tell you that those long days have caught up with me. This weekend, my doctor ordered that I take some time now to rest and recover and I have agreed with my family that I do this now.
I ask that Regional Chief Augustine continue to chair and facilitate our National Executive meetings in my brief absence and that Regional Chief Bellegarde and Regional Chief Wilson-Raybould continue the work that they led this week on Treaty implementation and on comprehensive claims. As we did in the meeting on January 11 – we must seize the agenda and drive the next steps on each and every element. I encourage everyone to contribute fully to these next steps. I have also directed the senior staff of the Assembly of First Nations to mobilize staff working teams on these elements to provide the analysis and support required.
Finally as we have done from the very beginning, we continue to offer our support and prayers for Chief Spence, the hunger strikers and for all of our peoples standing up through peaceful demonstrations and protest. As we told the Prime Ministers – our voices, the voices of all of our citizens will not be silenced. We will drive change now.
Friends and colleagues, this has been a fateful moment in the decades of struggle by our peoples. We have secured important new ground. Now the harder, but less visible, work of turning promises into action begins. I look forward to working with all of you on those tasks in the weeks and months ahead. Together I am confident we ensure that this week marks the end of a long bitter chapter of paralysis and provocation in our relationship with the GoC, and that it truly is the beginning of a new chapter.
I will see you all very soon and will return re-invigorated and strengthened to work with you to drive this change together with all of you.
I’m told Chief Atleo came down with the norovirus over the holidays in December.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 8:10 PM - 0 Comments
The Assembly of First Nations has released its reaction to today’s meeting.
“We have achieved some movement today,” said National Chief Atleo. “The Prime Minister listened respectfully to Chiefs and responded to all they brought forward and for the first time, provided a clear mandate for high-level talks on Treaty Implementation. Prime Minister Harper also committed to high-level discussions on comprehensive claims.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM - 0 Comments
The Assembly of First Nations has released a statement and eight “items of consensus.”
The statement can be viewed here. The demands are as follows.
Emerging from First Nations dialogue and strategy sessions on January 9-10, 2013 in Ottawa the following are the elements of consensus as reflected at the conclusion of the discussion:
-Commitment to an immediate high level working process with Treaty Nation leadership for establishing frameworks with necessary mandates for the implementation and enforcement of Treaties on a Treaty by Treaty basis, between the Treaty parties Nation-to-Nation.
-Facilitating fair, expeditious resolution of land claims through reforming the comprehensive claims policy based on recognition and affirmation of inherent rights rather than extinguishment
-Resource Equity, Benefit and Revenue Sharing – building on treaty implementation and enforcement and comprehensive claims resolution there must be a framework that addresses shared governance of resource development and the fair sharing of all forms of revenues and benefits generated from resource development.
-All legislation must be unquestionably consistent with s.35 of the Canadian Constitution and the UNDRIP. Legislation and provisions of legislation as in C-38 and C-45 that contravene our Treaty and inherent rights must be reconsidered and implementation of these provisions be put to a halt. We must have an environmental regulatory regime in this country that respects our rights. Legislation that tinkers around the edges of the Indian Act must stop and be replaced with support for First Nation government and nation re-building including a mechanism for our Nations to push away from the Indian Act as they determine. To fulfill the original relationship, Canada must put in place an ongoing process that all new bills and policies of the federal government must be in full compliance with section 35 and consistent with international human rights standards.
-Fundamentally transformed fiscal relationship guaranteeing fairness and sustainability and removing all arbitrary caps and burdens on the current inefficient, ineffective and unfair funding relationship for First Nation programs and services.
-Immediate Commitment to the establishment of a National Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls, including special focus on murdered and missing Indigenous women, and the broader factors that lead to increased vulnerability among Indigenous peoples.
-Guarantee, as in Shannen’s dream, of First Nation schools in every First Nation that each and every First Nations parent and child can be proud of, that fully reflects our languages and cultures and provides a safe and supportive place to learn.
-In order to be effective, progress on these areas will require fundamental change in the machinery of government including direct political oversight, a dedicated Cabinet Committee with a secretariat within the Privy Council Office with specific responsibility for the First Nation-Crown relationship to oversee implementation.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 1:49 PM - 0 Comments
The AFN confirms that National Chief Shawn Atleo and approximately 20 First Nations leaders—including representatives from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon—are presently meeting with the Prime Minister.
Rideau Hall has confirmed that this evening’s ceremonial meeting with the Governor General is also set to occur.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 9:59 PM - 0 Comments
Reports vary as to who might or might not be participating in tomorrow’s planned meeting between the Harper government and First Nations leaders, if that meeting is to take place in some form or another.
APTN reports that Shawn Atleo is to take the matter to the Prime Minister’s Office tonight to request a larger venue and the presence of the Governor General.
Mr. Atleo addressed the Assembly of First Nations meeting in downtown Ottawa tonight. My recording of his remarks—beginning about 10 second after he started speaking—is below.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
Manitoba’s chiefs have issued a release to say they will not be taking part to say in tomorrow’s meeting.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Southern Chiefs Organization, along with Chiefs from across Canada have just received word from the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister Office that Prime Minister Harper will not allow Governor General David Johnston to be in the meeting with the First Nations leadership of Canada.
The First Nations leadership has invited the Prime Minister of Canada and the Governor General to meet with the entire delegation of First Nations leadership from across the country at the Delta Hotel on January 11, 2013. This invitation still stands but unfortunately the Prime Minister has declined this invitation.
The First Nations leadership has maintained their position for the last week that both the Prime Minister and the Governor General were to be in the same room at the same time to discuss how to reset the First Nation – Crown relationship. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has been very dictatorial and unrelenting in his position to control and set the agenda for this meeting. This clearly demonstrates that the Government of Canada does not have any iota of concern or respect for the rights of the Indigenous people of this country.
Chiefs, many of them emotional, are currently addressing a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations at a hotel ballroom in downtown Ottawa, debating whether chiefs should attend tomorrow’s meeting with the Prime Minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM - 0 Comments
“We have arrived at a moment unlike any other in the history of our peoples,” ventured Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
And yet, here we are again.
“Generations of our leaders have delivered the same message to successive federal governments for over a century,” he explained, a few moments later. “From the battle against the destructive federal government white paper back in 1969 to the struggles to win section 35 in the Constitution in ’80, to the Charlottetown debates in the 90s, to our efforts to make effective the recommendations of the royal commission 16 years ago, we have never wavered. Our voices have always been clear. Continuing attempts to undermine our resolve, to divide our people, have and always will fail. Today our work in preparation for the meeting with the prime minister on January 11, 2013, stands on the shoulders of decades indigenous leadership.”
Mr. Atleo, the public face of an assembly of some 600 communities, was flanked on both sides by a regional chief. Around him, in the metaphorical sense, loomed a protest movement of marches, flash mobs, blockades and hashtags—a thousand different expressions of dissatisfaction. Seated at the front of the National Press Theatre, the 45-year-old father of two—he turns 46 next week—wore a black vest over a black long-sleeve shirt, his glasses perched on the end of his noise, a small black moustache and goatee framing his mouth. He leaned forward slightly on his elbows, his arms crossed in front of him.
He offered to summarize the results of two days of discussion with other chiefs in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting with the government.
“The demands of our people of the First Nations is the need for fundamental transformation in our relationship with the government of Canada, now,” he declared, emphasizing that last word. “That we need real remedies and real change for our people, now. And we action, in particular for our most vulnerable citizens.”
That’s it. Only merely that so many wrongs be righted. Continue…
By John Geddes - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 6:45 PM - 0 Comments
Robert Nault is watching the First Nations protests now dominating Canadian news from a unique perspective. As Jean Chrétien’s Indian affairs minister from 1999 to 2003, Nault tried to modernize the way reserve communities manage their finances and elect their councils. But the Assembly of First Nations vilified him for it, and the Liberal government abandoned his reform push after Paul Martin took over from Chrétien as prime minister. Nault now divides his time between Northern Ontario and British Columbia, working as a consultant and negotiator for First Nations communities. He spoke with Maclean’s by phone today; this is an edited version of the conversation:
Q What do you think would need to happen for the “Idle No More” protests to open a path toward real progress?
A I think we have to get away from just the government and the Assembly of First Nations, and start looking at some form of all-party committee that’s been given a green light to work with Aboriginal leadership.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle…
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle to the Hill. They protested against the budget bill being voted on that night and then had a spontaneous face-to-face meeting with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver after they were led into the House of Commons foyer by NDP MP Charlie Angus. Northern Ontario MP Angus said he asked Oliver to meet some of the chiefs and the minister obliged. Some chiefs tried to force their way into the House but were met by security.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Assembly of First Nations is warning the prime minister that Canada’s…
OTTAWA – The Assembly of First Nations is warning the prime minister that Canada’s aboriginal communities are at the end of their rope.
A sharply worded letter to Stephen Harper from AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo suggests the government’s bid to boost First Nations independence and prosperity, launched amid much fanfare in January, is collapsing.
The letter, sent last month along with a longer, more detailed version for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, was obtained by The Canadian Press.
It says Harper has made no progress on the issues he promised to address — education, comprehensive claims, treaty implementation, economic development and fiscal arrangements.
Instead, Atleo says Harper is continuing to push legislation and a fragmented agenda he knows First Nations will oppose, eroding what little trust existed between natives and the Crown.
Government insiders express similar frustrations with First Nations leaders, however, saying aboriginal communities themselves don’t have a clear, united idea of what they want.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 9:35 AM - 0 Comments
Shawn Atleo will remain as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations for…
Shawn Atleo will remain as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations for a second term. APTN repots after three rounds of voting, Atleo earned 341 votes of of 512 from First Nations leaders across Canada, well above the 60 per cent needed to retain his post as leader. Atleo’s strong support from British Columbia helped him beat seven other candidates, his closest rival being Mi’qmaq lawyer and Ryerson University professor Pamela Palmateer, who got 141 votes on the final ballot.
After accusing him of getting to cozy with Ottawa politicians and leaving fellow chiefs out of negotiations, critics of the First Nations leader are telling Atleo to get tougher with the Conservative government, according to the CBC.
In a victory speech, Atleo said the federal government has to respect treaty rights, titling rights, and that First Nations must be full partners in addressing resource development.
He’ll have another three years to prove he accomplish that.
By John Geddes - Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:36 AM - 0 Comments
Even with the Jets out of the playoffs, it’s been fine to be in Winnipeg the past couple of days. Good coffee and muffins down at the Mondragon; the striking architecture of the innovative Manitoba Hydro Place building out my hotel window.
But my official reason for being here was yesterday evening’s CPAC “In Conversation with Maclean’s” panel discussion, at the always impressive Winnipeg Art Gallery, on the theme “First Nations in Canada: Is there a way forward.”
Along with our Paul Wells and CPAC moderator Peter Van Dusen, the panel was loaded with insight: National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations, Manny Jules, chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission, and Charlene Lafreniere, a city councillor from Thompson, Man.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
Few really expected any very specific progress to flow from today’s summit meeting between the Prime Minister and Aboriginal leaders, but an unexpectedly precise step forward on proper financing for reserves appears to have materialized.
The “Crown-First Nations Gathering Joint Statement” issued at the end of today’s sessions here in Ottawa includes an “Immediate Steps for Action” section. The very first item promises that “Canada and First Nations will work on a renewed relationship that is based on… movement toward a single, multi-year Government of Canada financial arrangement for First Nations with high-performing governance systems.”
The wording might sound bureaucratic, but the two underlying points are of critical importance. Ottawa will provide multi-year funding, but only to reserve communities that meet proper standards of governance.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM - 0 Comments
The prepared text for remarks made today by Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
We are gathered here on an historic day – an historic day in the midst of urgent needs and demands on us all. On behalf of our First Nations leaders here and across Canada, we greet the Crown in the spirit our ancestors, with sincerity and with the pride of all of our Indigenous Nations, at this Gathering of our leaders and yours re-calling our earliest interactions. Nuu chah nulth. Let us begin, the way our people do, by acknowledging this territory, Algonquin territory. Meegwetch to Elder Bertha Commonda and the leaders of the Algonquin nation here. It was the Algonquins who greeted newcomers to their lands on the shores of the Ottawa River in front of us here. Bertha and today’s Algonquin Chiefs carry forward that tradition of leadership.
Their Excellencies, Governor General David Johnston and Mrs. Johnston’s presence are an essential feature of our gathering. It reflects the solemn commitments made to uphold the Honour of the Crown. Your participation recalls the sacred alliance between our ancestors, the leaders of the First Nations and the British Crown.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper let me express my personal thanks to you for the leadership you have shown in making this historic Gathering possible. Together all the leaders here gathered – the Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators and the hundreds of First Nations Chiefs – are making a solemn and public commitment to our people and to all Canadians to this new beginning. We must not fail.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 8 Comments
On moving beyond residential schools, overcoming cynicism and trusting the Tories
AFTER TWO YEARS as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo is cautiously optimistic about the relationship he is forging with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. On Tuesday, at the assembly’s annual meeting in Moncton, N.B., he proposed replacing the federal Aboriginal Affairs Department with a system that allows bands more autonomy and lessens the heavy federal intervention required under the Indian Act. “The patterns of the past have to be essentially smashed,” he told Maclean’s. Atleo, a hereditary chief in the tiny B.C. island community of Ahousaht, reads vindication in the recent report by now-retired auditor general Sheila Fraser. It warns, as Atleo and successive national chiefs have said, that the quality of life on reserves is worsening and the existing system of financing and accountability must be overhauled.
Q: The last time we spoke, you called your home community of Ahousaht a microcosm of First Nations across the country. So, how is Ahousaht faring?
A: Oh, it has its struggles, to be frank. They’re working on them, and we’ve got a new generation of leadership coming on.