It’s time to move Kashechewan
Yesterday, Chief Leo Friday and 250 community members rallied on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest and raise awareness over the fact that Kashechewan has been evacuated every spring over the past 17 years due to flooding of the Albany River on James Bay.
These desperate people are members of the Cree Nation, but they have been treated like second class citizens by the Nation of Canada and the Province of Ontario.
As Chief Friday said in an April 29th open letter, his community was physically located to a flood plain by the federal government back in the 1950s. Ever since, this “out of sight, out of mind” community has suffered unspeakable duress and despair that has spawned a cycle of suicide crises. Everyone, from children to elders, must be evacuated to southern towns and cities, living in motels for up to two months at a time.
“For decades, our leadership has sought government assistance to relocate the community to higher ground farther upstream to avoid the devastating flooding. Over two years ago, on March 31, 2017, we even signed a framework agreement with Canada and Ontario to relocate our community,” said Chief Friday in his letter.
A framework agreement. This is the enduring problem. Ever since the Treaties were signed; since Canada became a Confederation; and since the 1876 colonial Indian Act, First Nations have been treated like wards of the state. Our lives are regulated by faceless, indifferent bureaucrats, by meaningless MoUs and agreements. Our hopes are raised and dashed by a parade of Ministers from varying political parties.
The enduring problem is that First Nations are not treated as equals in this country, in this land that we promised to share with the newcomers. We are not Nations. We have no Nationhood. We have been reduced to a scattering of Indian Act bands – far too many bands rely upon government handouts to survive.
In fact, our own organizations rely upon government funding to survive. We have become lines in a budget, funding in a budget cycle that may be reduced depending upon the federal or provincial deficit of the day. Our leaders have been reduced, as Elder John Thunder once stated, to “a pack of dogs begging at the government table.”
To put things into historic perspective, the current Minister of Indigenous Services is Seamus O’Regan, a proud Newfoundlander, who promotes his province’s accomplishments on Twitter at least several times a week. As well he should. The latest Minister in charge of Canada’s Indians comes from a province that was the last to join Confederation in 1949, just 70 years ago.
Back then, Newfoundland was part of the British Commonwealth. However, by the late 1940s, Britain was not pleased with the lack of wealth being generated by Newfoundland. Indeed, a great number of Newfoundlanders were living in grinding poverty. It was to time cut to the colonial ties.
Canada was very willing to bring Newfoundland into the federal family.
Since the 1950s, during the same span of time that Kashechewan began experiencing floods and despair due to relocation, Newfoundland gradually became more prosperous At one point, due to offshore oil, Newfoundland became a “have” province and did not have to rely upon multi-billion dollar transfers from Ottawa.
Newfoundland and Labrador, their people, and their culture are considered valued contributors to Canada’s economy and identity.
In contrast, First Nations, the original “partners” with Canada, are still seeking that equality that comes with being members of Confederation. First Nations are still seeking that elusive Nationhood that will allow us to become valued members and contributors to Canada.
Until we are able to self-govern, until we are able to receive reliable transfer payments, First Nations will continue to be perpetual victims.
We will continue to have crises in Kashechewan, Cat Lake, Grassy Narrows, Pikangikum, and dozens of more communities across the country.
It’s time to stand up. Honour our Ancestors who signed the Treaties.
Honour the future of our children. It’s time to claim our Nationhood.
(Serpent River First Nation, April 22, 2019) The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Protecting Our Species.” We are in a time which we all have an awareness that climate change and the impacts of global warming are definitely real. This sense becomes even more acute when we recognize the inevitable change and unavoidable impacts that our children and their children will inherit.
Protecting our planet is most certainly something that we must get correct when we as parents, teachers, Elders, knowledge keepers, industry leaders, policy makers and experts explain the issue of Climate Change. So let’s begin with what we know about the theme of this year’s Earth Day theme. First some history. On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.
In the North American continent, and around the world, smog was becoming deadly, and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants. That was 49 years ago – thus far minimal progress has been made, or we wouldn’t be swimming in peril and global anxiety.
The Earth Day Networks is an important initiative that is recognized as the world’s largest movement focused on the realities and possible solutions to pushing back against the impacts of climate change. On their website, in support of this year’s theme you will find a protection list of 14 species: bees, giraffes, coral reefs, whales, elephants, insects, trees, plants, birds, fish, sharks, crustaceans, sea turtles and great apes. https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019/
The Earth is still humanity’s only home in all the Universe, and the only world that we know of that is capable of supporting human beings. Today, Earth Day, it’s more vital than ever to appreciate it; meaning, we need to get it right now.
What about this year’s theme? Well, in one way it is an excellent effort to help focus on some critical measure that must be made to protect the planet. It also has me thinking about two things – the omission of human beings on the species list and the use of the word “our” in the theme: Protecting Our Species. If we are going to have an impact on the enormity of climate change, we must be prepared as a global community to challenge our perspective about where we fit in on the circle of endangered species and we must be prepared to challenge the views that are perpetuated by language that places a subtle sense of superiority of humans over other life forces.
Indigenous Peoples perspectives may have some validity to this perspective. This year, for example, Turtle Island News, has issued an Earth Day edition which has references, stories, scheduled events, and links to the issues around climate change – http://theturtleislandnews.com/index.php/all-news/.
It is well known; we’ve long been at a climate change crossroads for some time. The harmonious world that our ancestors have known even before European contact on Turtle Island, was also a world in which they prophesied that survival depended on the way we would make change. These references conveyed by indigenous knowledge keepers have common threads in changing our practices, by making change in our hearts and making a deliberate shift in our minds.
The most important shift in our paradigm is not just about the earth, but about one another. Nations, regions, communities, families and our fellow brothers and sisters; it’s time for moving beyond destructive relationships that only create strife and inequity among the human species.
Survival depends on all life being respected to the highest degree and care for the earth in a manner that a newborn loves their mother – revering, loving and respecting.
From my family to yours – let’s make Earth Day every day and let us never lose sight of the importance of caring for all life; teaching the next generation that life will hand back the balance of how we as humans treat the gift of life that has freely been given to us.
Bimaadzwin’s goal is Advancing Nationhood and Sovereignty by focusing on Land, People and Prosperity.
World Health Day 2019 is observed worldwide on 7th of April. It is also a day that should remind Canadians that the health care system in Canada continues to be a racialized system that is evidenced in the poor health outcomes of First Nations as opposed to the country’s non-indigenous population.
“The health conditions generally in First Nation communities do not represent equitable health with the rest of Canadians. In fact, there has been a lack of follow-through on Reconciliation as a catalyst to health partnerships,” said Isadore Day, CEO of Bimaadzwin and former Chair of the Chiefs Committee on Health at the Assembly of First Nations. “This lack of commitment is glaring and is proving to show through in the federal government’s poor funding of critical issues like responding to suicides in First Nations.
“This is why we at Bimaadzwin are advocates for the World Health Organization’s efforts to raise global awareness on health equity issues such as the importance of health and wellness, and equal access to health care professionals and facilities.”
“Canada’s 2019 Budget is not indicative of a solutions-based approach toward issues of mental health and addictions – which is unsettling, to say the least,” said Day. “The multi-generational impacts of colonialism, residential schools and a grossly underfunded indigenous healthcare system has certainly exasperated the health conditions of the Indigenous community, only leaving one obvious solution – adequate funding. This flies in the face of what World Health Day represents this year.”
Theme of World Health Day 2019
Just like 2018, the theme of World Health Day 2019 is Universal health coverage, according to the World Health Organisation. WHO sees its key aim to ensure that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, right in the heart of the community. WHO chose “Universal Health Coverage” as the theme for World Health Day 2019. Steps are being taken to achieve Universal health coverage for everyone, everywhere and the slogan is “Health for All”.
Bimaadzwin and our team aim to work with First Nation communities to advance their Nationhood objectives in all sectors, including health governance and community planning. Contact us for information and how to get started on making First Nation Health Transformation a reality.
For more information you can reach Bryan Hendry at: email@example.com or 613-863-1764
(Ottawa, February 22, 2019) For the first time ever, two federal ministers spoke at a cannabis conference – Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Border Securities Minister Bill Blair, who is in charge of Canada’s Cannabis Act. Both Ministers made encouraging statements yesterday on the need to further include Indigenous peoples in the hemp and cannabis industry.
“We are supporting Indigenous communities who want to have a role in the cannabis landscape,” said Minister Petipas Taylor, who pointed out that Canada’s legalization and regulation of cannabis presents an historic opportunity to do things better. “Our government respects Indigenous peoples needs, desires and perspectives.”
Minister Blair pointed out that Indigenous Services Canada has recently modernized its economic development policies in order to address participation in the cannabis industry. “Our government recognizes the important link between economic development and improved outcomes in health and social development. The Cannabis Act provides an open and fair licencing process.”
When asked by a delegate if the government would respect the Algonquin sovereign right to produce and sell cannabis in the territory that includes Ottawa, Minister Blair replied: “We acknowledge and respect the jurisdiction of First Nations. There is an important nation to nation discussion on how both of our jurisdictions are recognized, especially in the health and safety of our peoples.”
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, CEO of Bimaadzwin, who chaired the conference, said there is a multi-billion-dollar potential for partnerships among the 300 delegates, exhibitors and fledgling Indigenous companies/retailers who were present. “That mainstream cannabis train is going to keep on going. Let’s jump on our own track, under our own steam. At the same time, we need to build trust with governments and the Canadian public. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all our Nations to partner and participate in this growing industry.”
Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton stressed that his community is developing its own cannabis law in order to ensure public health and safety and access to a population of three million in the Montreal area. “We are already a major contributor to the economy. We employ a lot of people. We need to educate the provincial and federal governments on what we do. We’re going to take advantage of our location. If cannabis is one product that’s going to be in demand, then let’s do it.”
Opaskwayak Cree Nation Onekanew Christian Sinclair brought his remote Manitoba community out of debt by investing and partnering in cannabis production and retail companies in Canada and California. “Because of the current cannabis shortage for years to come, this is a golden opportunity for all First Nations to get into the game.”
Bimaadzwin continues to work towards clarifying and setting out challenging policy discussions. These challenges are being identified by working with Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs, communities, and leaders within First Nation, federal, and provincial jurisdictions in regard to participation in the hemp and cannabis economy.
For more information, please contact:
Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-863-1764