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Manitoba Pipestone - December 2014


Compiled by Shari Narine







First Nations boycott Sun News Media

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Southern Chiefs Organization and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak joined forces to boycott Sun News Media and companies who use the outlet for advertisement. The First Nations organizations contend that articles within the Winnipeg Sun continue “to provide false information that feed into the stereotypical ideologies against Indigenous People.” Winnipeg Sun editor-in-chief Mark Hamm said he disagrees with the chiefs’ position that the newspaper’s articles are discriminatory, biased and racist. Hamm said he has met with the chiefs and offered them a column in the paper and while he hopes to mend the Sun’s relationship with First Nations, the newspaper’s approach to coverage will not change. The chiefs say their boycott will extend to include the businesses who continue to advertise in Sun Media. Canadians are also being asked to cancel their Sun subscriptions.


Agreement signed to change system of apprehending Aboriginal children

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Grand Chief David Harper of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Grand Chief Terrence Nelson of the Southern Chiefs Organization and Manitoba Regional Chief Bill Traverse of the Assembly of First Nations recently signed an agreement aiming to change the system of apprehending Aboriginal children in crisis. The chiefs were part of a leadership council that met in November with Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross. “We’ve said for a long time, sometimes it takes a community to raise a child and we’re being denied that opportunity for the community to help raise the child because children are being moved from our communities and into private homes that aren’t part of our collective,” Nepinak told the Canadian Press. The chiefs want to see a redirection of the approximately $6 billion expected to be spent by the provincial government in the next 10 years apprehending and holding Aboriginal children in the current system. Nepinak said the money could be used to create care options within First Nations communities.


Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters loses funding

The federal government has pulled funding from the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters and says it will not renew its agreement. The association was audited by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada after receiving millions of dollars to care for flood and forest fire evacuees. There were allegations that the money had been misused. Earlier this year, the Red Cross was put in charge of the long-term care of about 2,000 people evacuated from reserves around the province in 2011. In November, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said that MANFF was in default of its agreement with the federal government and that the organization has not proven it can competently deliver the services. “Going forward, we continue to strongly encourage the province of Manitoba to negotiate an emergency management agreement with the federal government so that together we can ensure First Nations receive the support they deserve. These services need to be made available equally, as they are in other provinces across Canada,” said Valcourt.


Film on flood evacuees wins Best Short

Treading Water: Plight of the Manitoba First Nation Flood Evacuees won Best Short Documentary at the recent imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, The film is the work of brother/sister filmmaking team Janelle and Jérémie Wookey. Janelle said she hopes the award will help keep attention on the story of the flood evacuees – who still remain displaced from their homes. Treading Water is a deeply intimate and moving look at the unexpected, untold story of the real-life citizens, community and controversy behind the headlines. For three-and-a-half years (and still counting) residents from Manitoba’s Lake St. Martin region have been displaced from their homes. It’s an ongoing saga, with no end in sight. And while mainstream news outlets resurrect the story every time another ‘development’ is announced, it quickly fades away into the background. This displacement has triggered family breakdown, compromised education, stress and depression, and ultimately, increased substance abuse and suicide rates. The people in the documentary are as frustrated as they are devastated, as they struggle with feelings of isolation, loneliness and dejection.


Manitoba website launched to pitch health careers for Aboriginal people

Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health launched a new website aimed at increasing the number of Aboriginal people in the health profession. We need to increase the representation of First Nation people in these careers, especially in rural and northern areas,” said Wayne Heide, the office’s administrative director. 

The project includes  a website and portal ManitobaAboriginalHealthCareers.ca that provides access to information needed to have a career in health, as well as inspirational success stories. “It won’t happen overnight but I’m confident in the not so distant future we will see more of our young people graduating Grade 12 then on to post-secondary and going on into a career in health,” said Robert Maytwayashing, Aboriginal human resources development officer, Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority.


“Dynamic teacher” wins national award

Connie Wyatt Anderson, a teacher at Oscar Lathlin Collegiate in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, has been awarded a 2014 Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. The awards, made possible through Canada’s History Society, recognizes Canadian teachers who are helping to ‘bring history to life’ for Canadian students. Canada’s History Society, a national charity which promotes Canadian history, describes Anderson as a “dynamic teacher on a First Nations reserve 600 km north of Winnipeg [who] is engaging her students in a real-life cultural quest.” The society said Anderson’s interactive curriculum allows her students to learn about the First World War through the eyes of First Nations soldiers. There are five other recipients of the award.