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Alberta News Briefs [September]

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Compiled by Shari Narine







Country music artist Shane Yellowbird, from Hobbema, leads the way with three nominations in the 2010 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.

Nominees for Peoples Choice Music Awards

Country artist Shane Yellowbird, from Hobbema, leads the way with three nominations in the 2010 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards after one  month of on-line voting to choose nominees. Yellowbird is joined by a large Alberta contingency. Local names include Asani, a contemporary a cappella Aboriginal women’s trio; Blackfoot Confederacy, who live in Saddle Lake, nominated for Best Album Cover Design for Hail to the Chiefs; Cree Confederation, representing the people of the Treaty Six areas, nominated for Best Pow Wow CD Contemporary; Kicking Woman Singers, nominated for Best Pow Wow CD Traditional for The 4th Coming, with songs from the Blackfeet, Siksika, Kainia, Piikani and Cree; Kinnie Starr, originally from Calgary, nominated for Best Music Video for “It’s All You;” Reddnation, from Edmonton and Regina, nominated for Best Rap/Hip Hop CD for “Grown Folk Muzik,” and Poundmaker Drum, with members from Cree Nations in Alberta, for Best Pow Wow CD Traditional for “Live.”

US Speaker meets with First Nations chiefs

Nancy Pelosi, the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, met with Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Chief Jim Boucher of the Fort McKay First Nation on Sept. 8 to discuss oil sands development. Pelosi also met with Premier Ed Stelmach, and energy industry leaders for Suncor, Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines and ConocoPhillips when she was in Canada Sept. 8 and 9.  Stelmach is quoted in the Globe and Mail saying, “Our goal there is to appeal to her sense of reason, to communicate very clearly that we are continuing to be focused on environmental improvements in developing the oil sands.” Environment Canada Minister Jim Prentice is not concerned that Pelosi is meeting with both sides on the issue of the oil sands. Prentice told the Globe and Mail, “I’m pleased she’s doing so. You don’t get excellence in public policy unless you talk to people.”

Portage College addresses gov't funding issues

Administrators at Portage College are working with students to help them get their finances in place after a glitch in the provincial government funding process. Of the 287 students who have applied for funding to attend Portage through the Alberta Works program, 57 have been processed. Darlene Jackson, assistant registrar, Portage College, said the college is intent on assisting all students in going ahead with their plans to attend the fall semester. Funding is made available for qualifying students registered in the Alberta Works program. The goal of Alberta Works is to make accessible employment and training programs to help adult Albertans get the skills they need to get a job, qualify for a better job, or increase their skills to keep their job. If an Albertan qualifies as an eligible learner, tuition, books and supplies, and living allowance may be available. Portage College is working closely with Alberta Employment and Immigration to resolve the issue and impact lack of funding approval is having on potential students. Portage Collage has campuses in Saddle Lake and Frog Lake.

Pickton inquiry applauded by AFN chief

Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo is applauding the decision by British Columbia Attorney General Mike de Jong for a public inquiry in the police handling of the Robert Pickton investigation. Pickton was charged in the deaths of 20 women. “Many of these victims were First Nations and Aboriginal women and a full and comprehensive public inquiry, with the participation of Aboriginal people, is the only way to address the need for respect, justice and a better understanding of how we can prevent these tragedies in the future,” said Atleo in a news release issued by the AFN. Atleo held that a public inquiry is important to the memory of the missing and murdered women and their families. Among the murders Pickton was convicted of was that of Brenda Wolfe, an Aboriginal woman from southern Alberta. She was last seen in Vancouver Downtown Eastside in February 1999.

Safe Communities target Aboriginal programs

Two new Alberta government Safe Communities Innovation Fund pilot projects support Aboriginal community crime reduction and encourage hope among Aboriginal youth. Reclaiming Our Youth with Hope: A Hope-focused service-learning project will receive $383,772 over three years. The Hope Foundation of Alberta will lead a program for Aboriginal students ages 13-16 at the Montana School in Hobbema and at the Mother Earth Children’s Charter School near Stony Plain. The program will address gangs, substance abuse and violence within the Aboriginal community. It will give youth the opportunity to explore the role of hope in their lives and work with positive role models. The Comprehensive Community Feasibility Study and Needs Assessment on Crime Reduction will receive $75,000 in funding. The Yellowhead Tribal Community Corrections Society will work with the Alexander First Nation and RCMP to develop a crime prevention strategy. The one year pilot project will be completed in three phases: data collection; identification of key factors and incidents; and development of a comprehensive needs assessment. A subsequent crime reduction plan will aim to address priority issues identified in the community.

Indigenous Dance Residency program shows results

The Banff Centre’s three-week Indigenous Dance Residency program culminated in late August with the presentation of Indigenous Territories. Six professional dancers and four emerging artists were chosen from across Canada to study with three prominent teachers of mixed Aboriginal ancestry: former New York City Ballet star Jock Soto (in a teaching capacity for the first week of the residency); freelance choreographer/performer Marie-Claude Rodrigue, a former creative mainstay of Montreal’s O Vertigo Danse; and New Zealand choreographer Neil Ieremia, of Samoan descent. The Indigenous Dance Residency program is the brainchild of Red Sky Performance artistic director Sandra Laronde, who took over the centre’s Aboriginal Arts program in 2008. The program provides opportunities for Indigenous dancers and choreographers to share in the exchange of artistic and cultural knowledge and practice.

Public consultation for oilsands area

Public consultations will begin this month for the Lower Athabasca and encompasses the northeastern part of the province, including Fort McMurray, the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Lac La Biche and Bonnyville. The Calgary Herald reports that government officials say changes could see 20 per cent or more of the landscape set aside for conservation purposes. “There will be a change in the acreage that’s under conservation,” said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight. The Lower Athabasca region encompasses almost all of the province’s 90 active oilsands projects and 180 projects that are approved but have yet to go ahead. About 40 per cent of the region’s land is considered commercially viable for oilsands development — although that figure could increase as technology to remove bitumen from the ground improves. Members of a regional advisory council submitted a report to Knight, and their yet-released recommendations are to form the basis for the public consultations.

Compiled by Shari Narine