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Windspeaker Editorial Comments
A collection of Windspeaker's most recent editorial comments.
B.C. fails with LNG deceit [editorial]
The Christy Clark government of British Columbia has really stepped in
it this time, going behind the backs of First Nations in its haste to
develop the Liquified Natural Gas industry in the province, poisoning
relationships and endangering the $78 billion development that the BC
Liberals have pinned so much hope on.
It all came crashing down
during an LNG Summit in Fort Nelson First Nation mid-April that brought
together First Nations leaders, industry representatives and government
types. After spending hours with Aboriginal Relations Minister John
Rustad around the table one day, having what was described as good
discussions, it was learned that the BC cabinet had been developing
plans to exempt most natural gas production from mandatory environmental
assessments, all done without a peep about those plans to First Nations
leadership. It had reached the Order in Council phase, and that Order
was filed before any consultation took place, though it was later
learned that big industry did know about the plan.
The chief of
the host Fort Nelson First Nation, to her credit, tossed the government
representatives out of the conference on their ears, in the most
“My elders said you treat people kind, you treat
people with respect… even when they are stabbing you in the back,” said
Fort Nelson Chief Sharleen Gale, who has become a bit of a hero since
she stood with an eagle feather held aloft as Dene drummers sang while
government guests packed up their things. The young chief deserves kudos
for her handling of the betrayal.
While government was asked to
leave the Summit, industry was asked to stay, at least as long as it
took to deliver a message that Gale said needed to go back to the CEOs
of any company hoping to do business in the territory. Act respectfully
and share in the bounty the territory provides.
We are the ones,
Gale said, that make decisions for our territories, for our people. No
one else. She said the message should go to the top, and be carried all
the way down to the ground.
And what will become of the truth?[editorial]
Apologies are critical, said Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith of the
Archdiocese of Edmonton, but they do not erase the past. They are
beautiful to hear, but the memories of wrong-doing remain, and that,
despite the pain these memories stir up, is a good thing, because as
soon as we forget our past, we have a tendency to repeat it. “We need to
learn and to remember.”
Smith was speaking with APTN reporter
Chris Stewart on the eve of the last national event of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. This last event is being held in Edmonton
starting March 27 and runs to March 30. We miss the start of the event
for this paper’s issue by just one day. Because of our press deadline we
will have to bring you our coverage from these important days in the
next edition of Windspeaker.
But in the meantime, we can reflect
on these last few years and be proud. Oh so very proud of the courage
that it has taken for thousands of men and women to stand up and tell
To share in a very public way the pain and suffering
they endured when they were just so very young and vulnerable, and the
pain and suffering that in turn has been visited upon their children and
their grandchildren because of that treatment in the residential
schools across Canada. No one with a sound mind and a working heart can
dismiss the intergenerational impact of that system now. No one.
should be a point of national Canadian pride that this truth-telling
took place. Many Canadians can stand tall having shown the grace enough
to listen and to try and make sense of it all.
They have shown a
similar courage to take the brunt of that truth, to really hear it, and
to understand the personal destruction that befell the survivors of this
altogether egregious attempt to take the Indian out of the child, to
assimilate them into the mainstream by attempting their re-engineering,
by removing their beliefs, their culture, language, parents and
communities from their lives. And beyond that genocide, there was the
abuse of all manner and varieties perpetrated upon these young ones,
left alone and unprotected in the care of psychopaths and pedophiles.
any Canadian is still in the dark or in denial of the horrors committed
against the students of these schools they should be ashamed. The truth
is not only out there, it has been brought to you on a platter.
Stomp your feet for our youth [editorial]
The walls shook with their stomping feet, reads a message from Ontario’s
Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth. Irwin Elman was writing
about his experience at a Feathers of Hope Forum last March, where more
than 100 youth from 62 northern First Nations communities had gathered
to share their experiences of hopelessness and poverty and talk about
the issues affecting their lives. They talked about their pain,
frustration and anger. And as they spoke their peers watched and
listened closely, encouraging them by stomping their feet on the ground
when they heard a statement that rang particularly true. Making noise
where they could to emphasize the importance of the words.
they’ve been stomping their feet again, but this time symbolically with
the release of the Feather of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan.
Elman said “First Nations children and youth want an opportunity to make
things better, not just for themselves, but for the generations of
children and youth who will come after them.” They say they want better
than neglect and marginalization, and why shouldn’t they have better?
Why shouldn’t their hopes and dreams be realized?
What are they
asking for? Schools, safe housing, clean water, affordable nutritious
food. That they have to ask for such basic things should be our
embarrassment. What are they asking us for? Services to deal with the
intergenerational trauma of the residential school system, healthy
adults free of addictions, good parents, good leaders and mentors. It’s
what we all should be wishing for them too.
Minister Flaherty will fail to deliver, again [editorial]
The federal Conservative government is carving close to the bone in its
efforts to eliminate the deficit in advance of the next election in
2015, and this certainly does not bode well for First Nations and
Aboriginal groups, which are historically the first on the chopping
block when government sings from the cut and slash song book. “We are
doing this without raising taxes, we are doing it without cutting
transfers to hospitals, to social services, to education in the
provinces…” Flaherty said. So where is it all going to come from?
Minister Jim Flaherty is preparing the country for austerity, as
evidenced in his comments on the upcoming budget, which will be tabled
Feb. 11. The Assembly of First Nations is also preparing the ground for
disappointment, sending out a bulletin in January discussing its
advocacy in advance of the budget, having submitted its recommendations
for investment to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
AFN has communicated that the chiefs’ priorities are new fiscal
arrangements and investments in education, skills and training,
infrastructure, water, housing, preventing violence, policing, justice
and healing programs. But very specifically, the chiefs are looking for
some significant movement in addressing shortfalls in education funding
to First Nations schools and support for culturally-grounded education
and language programing.
“First Nations have been living under
austerity conditions for too long – we know that investments in our
children are investments in the future of our Nations and in the future
of Canada,” reads the communique from National Chief Shawn Atleo.
Hungry children, and a hard, hard heart [editorial]
Always ensure tape is rolling when a politician is speaking. It’s one of
the first things they teach young journalists when they are training,
and thank goodness reporter Sara Norman of News1130 took heed, because
she has provided us a clear look at the hard heart of this Canadian
government. A very hard heart indeed.
Just before Christmas,
Norman reported that James Moore, federal Industry minister, said it was
not his responsibility to feed hungry children, not even his neighbor’s
hungry kids, and it was certainly not the responsibility of the federal
government to tackle child poverty. Child poverty is a hot potato that
belongs on the provinces’ plates, Moore said, wiping his hands clean of
hungry children (one in seven Canadian children) across the nation.
of course, the backlash was quick and stinging. The minister tried to
deny those cruel, cold words were his at first, though they flew from
his mouth with so much ease. Even a chuckle accompanied them. He called
the story ridiculous and the comment completely taken out of context.
Said the report was a lie.
Roll tape. “Is it my job to feed my neighbor’s child? I don't think so”. Hehe.
it was. The ‘heartfelt apology’ followed, as required. “I made an
insensitive comment that I deeply regret. I apologize. Caring for each
other is a Canadian ethic that I strongly believe in – always have and
It’s been a few years of increasingly disturbing news and, from all that we’ve learned during this time, we can safely conclude that many of the police services in this country have lost their moral bearings; they have lost their humanity; and lost perspective on what is right and good, which is, at its core, the most important thing of all.
When a mother calls the police station to report that her 18-year-old daughter has been battered, is the correct response from law enforcement to pick the wounded child up and throw her in cells? And when that girl reveals that she has been raped, is the response to keep her in cells for five days? That’s what happened in Edmonton in mid-February. The young woman was ‘bloodied and bruised’ and missing a front tooth when the Edmonton Police Service retrieved her from a downtown motel where ‘friends’ beat and sexually assaulted her.
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