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The federal government must scour its archives for millions of documents related to the Indian residential schools that operated in Canada for more than century - institutions where physical and sexual abuse was rampant and from which many students never returned. An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled on Wednesday that it is not good enough for Ottawa to provide the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with records that can be found in the active files of departments.
The federal government is obliged to turn over its archival records on Indian residential schools to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an Ontario court decided Thursday.
In his decision, Justice Stephen Goudge said the obligation to provide the materials is clear from the settlement agreement that established the commission.
“The plain meaning of the language is straightforward,” Goudge said. “It is to provide all relevant documents to the TRC.”
The federal government has been ordered to hand over millions of documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is trying to determine the depth of the church-run Indian Residential schools that removed children from their families for more than a 100 years.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Goudge ruled Wednesday the government is required to unearth the documents that the TRC has deemed relevant in order to fulfill its mandate.
Chief Theresa Spence’s now-ended hunger strike was never at the heart of the Idle No More movement, and the bigger campaign continues at full speed, said Mi’kmaqs who gathered Sunday near Shubenacadie.
“We supported her, but this Idle No More it’s not about Chief Spence,” said a young mother warming up with her toddler in a car before walking several kilometres with him to Indian Brook.
“It’s not about the band councils, not about the chiefs, not about Chief Spence,” said her driver, Corinna Smiley, who lives in Millbrook.
About 100 people travelled from Shubenacadie to Indian Brook to honour residential school survivors during an Idle No More event held Sunday.
Approximately 30 participants covered a portion of the 10-kilometre route with about 20 trekking the entire distance. Many more followed in cars.
The event meant plenty to Indian Brook resident Dorene Bernard, who was one of more than 1,000 First Nations children from Atlantic Canada who attended the residential school in Shubenacadie from the 1920s until the late 1960s.
Survivors of residential schools on the James Bay Coast are telling their stories this week as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to start two days of hearings in Fort Albany on Monday.
The TRC has a mandate to document stories from across the country about forced cultural assimilation and abuse. The hearings in Fort Albany are the commission's only stop on the James Bay Coast.
Doug Knockwood said a prayer for people eating lunch at the Indian Brook community centre Sunday, many of whom had just walked for two hours from the old site of the Shubenacadie residential school. Knockwood, 83, is a Mi'kmaq elder, originally from Cumberland County. He went to the Shubenacadie school for two years, eventually spent 30 years working as a drug and alcohol counsellor, and now lives in Indian Brook.
Canada’s historic, estimated $5-billion agreement to settle its sordid past and shameful legacy of physical, mental and sexual abuse in the Indian residential schools system may be long overdue, imperfect, and largely unfamiliar to most Canadians but the agreement is "a fair and honourable one,” said the Honourable Justice Frank Iacobucci, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
“It didn’t erase my shame [as a Canadian], for the legacy but it gave my conscience some comfort in having the agreement.”
The commission examining the treatment of aboriginal children in residential schools in the early 1900s is holding its first meetings in Quebec.
The Federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Native Residential Schools — the organization looking at how aboriginal children were treated in residential schools in the country — will be gathering testimony on Quebec’s North Shore this week.
It was a tough life without our kids, said elder Paddy Jim, sitting next to his son, Wayne.
Even talking about it now, it hurts, he told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission last Tuesday afternoon at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.
Jim never attended residential school himself. But he hasn't forgotten the pain of having his children ripped away from him
The church has been slow to account for the abuse of indigenous children in Canada’s church-run residential schools because words for such atrocities do not exist, says the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald. But he has hope that the injustices will finally be addressed.
“The primary obstacle to Canada and the church’s understanding of what happened is that we do not have a language that describes such horrific evil,” said the Anglican Church of Canada’s first National Indigenous Bishop. “The schools became magnets for pedophiles. A huge percentage of the children were sexually abused, physically abused.”
Respondents were frustrated and angry at the Explorer Hotel on Wednesday after a four-person advisory panel asked a business audience for input on a new territorial economic strategy. The NWT Economic Opportunities Advisory Panel, which is touring the territory asking for input on a new territorial economic strategy, made a presentation at the Denendeh Investments Inc. annual general meeting in order to get the input of important leaders and business people in attendance.
Joe Handley, the panel chair, told the audience this meeting was likely one of the most important in the tour due to the number of business and political leaders in the audience and the number of years of business experience among them.
Whenever Cree playwright Kenneth T. Williams travelled from Saskatchewan to visit his white, Eastern Canadian relatives as a child, he remembers feeling like his Toronto family was part of a foreign culture. "They were very exotic to me," the Saskatoon-based writer recalls. Toronto is becoming a much less exotic locale for Williams, however, as a wave of success he's had in Western Canada begins to reach the country's biggest theatre centre. He last had a play produced here in 2004; this season, he has three.
Momentum from the Indian Day School class action suit from Winnipeg will be rolling through Cowichan come Jan. 22.
An update is expected from the lawyers pushing for the suit on Tuesday as well as plenty of information on the specs, the history and background as well as who’s eligible to join, confirmed Kathleen Mazur of the law firm involved, Alghoul and Associates.
“There are still a lot of questions out there,” Mazur said. “And it’s not clear yet if the government will compensate those who attended both day schools and residential schools.”
Five years after the historic agreement that settled Indian Residential Schools cases against the federal government and churches, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law presents an opportunity to contemplate what has been accomplished and what lies ahead in these processes.
The public conference “Assessing the Indian Residential Schools Litigation & Settlement Processes”will be held on January 18, 2013 at the Faculty of Law.
Chief Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, the former Supreme Court of Canada justice who led the settlement process, The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and many others involved in this momentous agreement will join us.
View the full conference agenda here: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/sites/default/files/documents/conferences2/ResidentialSchools2012.pdf
What: Assessing the Historic Indian Residential Schools Litigation & Settlement Processes Conference.
Where: University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Flavelle House, 78 Queen’s Park, Bennett Lecture Hall.
When: Friday, January 18, 2013, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
The conference is free, but seating is limited.
Somewhere between the meetings, the speeches, the travel, the responsibilities and even more meetings in the life of a politician, says New Democrat MP Roméo Saganash, there needs to be some space for the soul.
It is a lesson the prominent Cree leader learned the hard way about a year and a half into his new life on Parliament Hill as the MP for the vast northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou.
Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Rick O’Brien has urged Indian residential school survivors not to let the “hard history” of the schools hold them back, saying they must move forward for the sake of their children and grandchildren.
O’Brien, a second-generation Indian residential school survivor, spoke at the Yukon regional Truth and Reconciliation event held Jan. 14 to 15 in Whitehorse.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in Whitehorse this week to hear from people about their experience in residential schools.
The meeting began Monday with the lighting of a sacred fire which will burn throughout the two-day event. Former residential school students, elders and dignitaries packed the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre for opening remarks.
Justice Murrray Sinclair, head of the commission, said the children and grandchildren of former students have also suffered the effects of residential schools.
Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler called it “the single most harmful, disgraceful and racist act in our history” and he was right. He was talking about Canada’s attempt to assimilate its indigenous population through compulsory residential boarding schools for native children. Such programs operated in various forms between the mid-1880s and the late 1940s, and merited Cotler’s description in every particular.
A weekly newspaper that published allegations that former Olympic CEO John Furlong physically and emotionally abused students at a Catholic school in northern British Columbia four decades ago denies the article was defamatory.
The Georgia Straight argued in a statement of defence filed with the court that the story amounted to fair comment and suggested any harm suffered by Furlong was brought on by his own actions.
The newspaper published a story Sept. 27 that quoted eight former students who alleged Furlong, who ran the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, was physically and verbally abusive while he was a volunteer teacher in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also suggested Furlong hid details of his past, particularly the story of his arrival to Canada, in his memoir Patriot Hearts.
Our capacity to delude ourselves appears to know no boundaries. The Idle No More movement speaks to far too many past failures in our relationship with aboriginal peoples.
We act as if we had discovered Canada, if as there were no people here when European immigrants arrived. That we were welcomed upon our arrival should surely have earned our eternal gratitude. Instead, seeing them as savages, viewing them as heathens, led us to conclude, arbitrarily, that their best hope was to become like us.
Three defendants being sued by former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong over a September 2012 newspaper article that accused him of abusing students more than 40 years have filed court papers defending their work.
The story in question, published Sept. 27, 2012 in the Georgia Straight, quoted eight former students who alleged Furlong was physically and verbally abusive while he was a volunteer teacher in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Some people who knew a 63-year-old woman from Lutsel K'e found dead in a downtown alleyway in Yellowknife on Dec. 30 are describing her as a kind, generous soul.
Yvonne Eva Desjarlais was born Yvonne Abel, the daughter of the late Rose Catholique and the late Thomas Abel. She grew up in the small hamlet, with the exception of a few years when she attended residential school at St. Joseph in Fort Resolution and Breynat Hall in Fort Smith, according to Florence Catholique, her cousin.
Idle No More, a grassroots movement launched largely through social media by a group of young Indigenous people, has been gaining momentum around the world. Its goal is to give voice to major concern over Bill C-45, a recent omnibus bill passed by the Canadian government that organizers say erodes indigenous rights, mainly concerning land and water.
The movement has garnered support from political figures, celebrities, church leaders and ordinary people around the world.
In Canada, Theresa Spence, chief of the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, launched a hunger strike in her quest to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While not directly linked to Idle No More, Spence's strike has brought more attention to the issues
Thomas King could hardly have planned a more auspicious timing for the publication of his most recent book. In the month following the November release of The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, the Idle No More movement was born, and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence embarked on a hunger strike to demand action from our federal government regarding unresolved issues affecting First Nations communities.
Many Canadians are notoriously ignorant about the history that has led to the current state of unrest. (While working on a series of interviews with Indian Residential School survivors only a decade ago, several of my friends quietly asked me, “What exactly is Residential School?”) The Inconvenient Indian conveniently lays out much of that history: the backstory that has led to the actions and protests that are today springing up across our country.
Where exactly is Walpole Island? That was the question I asked when I was approached to consider providing weekly trauma counselling on Walpole.
That invitation and a few other events over the past six years resulted in me spending over 300 hours, in Windsor and Walpole, listening to stories told first hand by First Nations people.
A law firm in London started referring residential school survivors to me. They were representing people who were part of a class action against the Canadian government. In 2011, I accompanied one of those clients to his hearing. On that day he wore a traditional native shirt his sister had made and carried an eagle feather which he held for the six hours of questioning.
There is a quiet strength and dignity to Lillian Howard.
She's 62 and no longer angry as she was in the 1970s when she was arrested a couple of times for blockading roads near Gold River on the west coast of Vancouver Island and for occupying an Indian Affairs office in defence of the Nuu-chah-nulth people's traditional territory.
"I'm not that young girl any more that was all fired up and feisty and giving my 110 per cent to oppose the oppression of aboriginal people in a first-world country," she tells me.
The abrupt postponement Wednesday of an Assembly of First Nations news conference spoke volumes about the turmoil and mistrust that underlies planning for Friday's meeting between aboriginal leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
National Chief Shawn Atleo is tip-toeing through a minefield as he tries to negotiate a list of demands that must at once satisfy angry chiefs, win over the reluctant Conservative government and keep restless grassroots protests relatively peaceful.
Four-and-a-half years after Stephen Harper's much-applauded public apology for Canada's residential school system, it somehow has become widely claimed that the Conservatives are fundamentally ill-suited to deal with aboriginal issues. "Mr. Harper has to come to terms with a difficult truth," interim Liberal leader Bob Rae wrote for Huffington Post this week: "The political doctrines of the Reform Party have nothing to contribute to what needs to be done."
It is the worst of times for dealing with the massive problems faced by Canada's aboriginal people. There hasn't been a government less sympathetic than Stephen Harper's in many decades.
With Harper it's always about the money. This battle is only partly about money, and that's where the misunderstandings begin.
The new Federal Court ruling that Métis and non-status Indians (those not linked to specific reserves) are "Indians," meaning that they gain all the "rights" to which Indians are entitled, comes at an awkward time for Harper. That means another 600,000 people demanding decency and fairness.
“We are sorry.”
Those words were delivered on June 11, 2008, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he stood in the House of Commons and apologized to aboriginal peoples for the harm inflicted by Canada’s policy of assimilating their children.
The speech was historic. It was simple, straightforward and from the heart. It felt like a turning point.
The year end has seen the birth of an international movement that began right here in Saskatchewan. The Idle No More movement is heading into the new year with a full agenda of flash mobs, demonstrations and blockades planned to liven up things.
Therefore you have to wonder which planet our prime minister thinks he's on. In his year-end statement, Stephen Harper said his government "continued to strengthen our relationship with First Nations" over the past year. All indications are that relations between the First Nations and his government are at an all-time low, and can only get worse.
The government and the First Nations don't have a shared vision of the future. They are at opposite ends on a number of important issues, in fact.
Anglicans in the diocese of Yukon are gearing up for their participation in the Yukon regional truth and reconciliation event scheduled Jan. 14 to 15, 2012, in Whitehorse.
Co-hosted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN), the event will be an opportunity for those affected by the residential school system to share their experiences. The event will take place at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.
Her years as a councillor with the Tk’emlups Indian Band taught Evelyn Camille the rule of politics.
However, having left the band’s council, the 73-year-old residential-school survivor said she can now speak her mind.
Camille hopes her actions speak louder than her words as she continues a fast in support of Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, now in her 23rd day of a hunger strike while seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Another Idle No More protest is planned for this afternoon near the intersection of Portage Avenue and St. Charles Street in St. James.
Demonstrators are expected to begin blocking traffic on Portage Avenue at about 1 p.m.
"We will be making a stand and a public statement as urban First Nations people by participating in a non-violent blockade," reads a Facebook page for the event, which has collected more than 150 followers.