FSIN Executive Communique September 7, 2012Vice Chief Bird Continues to Pressure INAC on Education Issues
The federal budget this spring announced $275 million in new investments for First Nations education across Canada. Not a penny has been seen to date nor has a process been identified for distribution. Vice Chief Bird has repeatedly asked for a meeting with Regional Director for INAC Riel Bellegarde, but the Regional Director has not met his request to meet to discuss this very important issue. The fact that there is no plan to distribute these funds to our severely underfunded First Nation Education system is a grave concern to Vice Chief Bird, and he will be making a press release to the media very shortly in order to put pressure on the federal government to keep the promises they made in the last federal budget.
In 2010 INAC sent over $330 million back to the federal Treasury Board while First Nations schools continue to be underfunded. Presently INAC provides approximately $6,500 per student to First Nations schools while the province funds schools at approximately $10,500 per student. Vice Chief Bird continues to advocate and support the Chiefs of Saskatchewan's through his meetings with federal and provincial ministers in the fight to have the injustice of inadequate funding corrected.
In the Francophone school division rate per student is $18,800. If First Nations languages and cultures were honoured as French is honoured, our schools would receive almost three times what they receive now. First Nations receive only moderate amounts of one time funds to develop their language curriculum and programs. A good example of what could be done with adequate funding was the Gift of Language project, which was funded by the federal and provincial governments. The funding for this successful program has since been cut. The FSIN Education secretariat is now researching and gathering the data to celebrate these types of language programs throughout the province. In addition to gathering this work, the education secretariat is involved in the development of a new provincial First Nations language strategy, which has not been updated since 1994.
AFN Chief's Assembly on Education
Vice Chief Bird will be travelling to Ottawa for the AFN Chief's Assembly on education, as he feels that it is imperative that the voice of Saskatchewan First Nations be heard. He will be taking an active part in the discussion of First Nation Education where he will be bringing the following concerns forward to the Assembly:
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations believes that Education is an Inherent and Treaty Right. Therefore, the FSIN has unanimously agreed that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada cannot engage the Assembly of First Nations, or the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, in the discussion of Legislation as it affects Saskatchewan First Nations' Treaty Right to Education. If the Federal Government insists on developing Education Legislation or repealing sections of the Indian Act, then Indian and Northern Affairs Canada must formally engage each First Nation in a manner that is respectful of their rights. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Assembly of First Nations must also respect that the First Nations of Saskatchewan are entitled to ensure that their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is met.
One of the most important issues facing our schools is the lack of adequate and sustainable funding. The lack of sustainable funding, and a funding cycle that does not match the school year, blocks any attempt at long term planning. In addition INAC has been known to reduce funding mid-year. This forces First Nation schools to stop or reduce programs that are improving student outcomes. To continue these programs puts the First Nation into a deficit for which they will be punished. No other schools in the country have been forced to operate on such insufficient and unstable funding that is controlled by bureaucrats with limited or no educational background.
It is our belief that First Nations already have jurisdiction over education and do not need to waste our time asking federal and provincial governments for this. These governments need to recognize our Inherent right to the control of education for our children and to support First Nations in this work. This has already been recognized through the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. These are not issues that require federal legislation to address.
Joint Task Force on Education:
The public meetings are planned as follows beginning at 7:00 pm in each community:
September 10, 2012: La Loche Community School - Dene Building, La Loche Sask.
September 11, 2012: Rossignol High School, Ile-a-la Crosse, Sask.
September 12, 2012: Valley View School, Beauval, Sask.
College of Nursing – University of Saskatchewan
On September 4th, 2012 HSDS hosted a meeting with the U of S College of Nursing with Dr. Lorna Butler – Dean of Nursing to discuss potential partnerships. Discussions revolved around the "Remote Presence" opportunities that are associated with distance education. One of the goals being that no one should be disadvantaged to take education opportunities because of geography. There is a need for community engagement as a result of future connectivity that will connect schools and health centers located on-Reserve to fiber-optic technology. This opportunity should result in educating those who wish to enroll in a nursing program but want to remain in the community. More information will be conveyed as developments occur in the future.
Saskatoon Tribal Council Meeting – Action Accord
The meeting was attended by STC Staff and the FSIN Staff to discuss the issue of care of intoxicated persons who did not commit a criminal offence but are taken into detention by the Saskatoon Police Service. There are many issues which were discussed such as opening a wellness centre in Saskatoon which would support individuals with mental health issues, addictions, etc. A one stop-shop to tend to all of an individual's needs which include social housing, employment, chronic health conditions, etc. This Wellness Centre would refer clients to other agencies for care. There were a number of issues discussed such as the gaps in the systems and how individuals are falling through the cracks because they are expected to attend to many agencies to receive any assistance. Case Managers were discussed favourably, which would enable an individual to see one person for all their needs and support. The long term care of individuals was discussed also as there are only short term solutions in place right now. On September 17, 2012 STC will be issuing a press release concerning the Action Accord. More work and planning needs to be done to get all the players on side in supporting a wellness centre.
First Nations Environmental Health Working Group
On September 5 & 6, 2012 the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council Health Services hosted the FN EH WG meeting at the All Nations Healing Hospital, Fort Qu'Appelle. The working group members received regional and national updates that included AFN Emergency Management, Health Canada- Health Protection services, Health Canada's Food Safety Manual for First Nations, Traditional Foods, Injury Prevention, National First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program, FNEHWG work planning, AFN Water, Suzuki Foundation and Wastewater and WTP discussions from the representatives. The next meeting will tentatively take place at PAGC in early January 2013.
The group had an update from the Assembly of First Nations on the current status of federal Bill S-8 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. This has been passed by Senate and has had first reading in the House of Commons. The House of Commons is expected to resume in mid-September.
The working group was also treated to a tour of White Raven the traditional side of the hospital.
Saskatchewan First Nation Veterans Association (SFNVA) Update
Grand Chief Ray Sanderson attended the AFN National Veterans Association Assembly in Toronto, Ontario September 4 to 6, 2012. The other Veteran Associations were very impressed with how well the SFNVA is organized and how much support they get from the FSIN. FN Veterans from across Canada share common issues including grave markers, organizing their people and adequate funding.
On September 6 2012, The SFNVA held a South Branch meeting at Yorkton Painted Hand Casino. They were treated to a meal courtesy of the Casino. They plan to have a follow up meeting in the Fort Qu'Appelle area sometime in the near future.
The SFNVA continue to travel to surrounding First Nations to gather information for headstone applications to the Last Post Fund for grave markers. They also have been busy attending different pow wows throughout the province carrying in the Flags at Grand Entries. They will be attending Treaty 4 on September 15 and the Sept 23, 2012 SIGA RIDER Game Day in Regina.
Bold Eagle 23
Vice Chief Lerat once again congratulates the following individuals for completing Bold Eagle 23:
Assoon, David Raymore, SK
Brown, Daylon Lloydminster, SK
Carriere, Kato Cumberland House, SK
Corrigal, Brent Canoe Lake, SK
Eashappie, Christine Regina, SK
Eyahpaise, Kenneth Marcelin, SK
Gamble, Julian Duck Lake, SK
Grey, Kruz Punnichy, SK
Hansen, Tayven Pinehouse Lake, SK
Iron, Ashton Canoe Narrows, SK
Jarrett, Jeremy Prince Albert, SK
Johnstone, Conrad Leask, SK
Kahnapace-Sparvier, Keegan Cowessess, SK
Lonethunder, Reese Carlyle, SK
Peters, Mason Sturgeon Lake, SK
Pinay, Andrew Regina, SK
Seesequasis-Mike, Kody Duck Lake, SK
Smoker, Dakota Whitewood, SK
Strongarm, Joshua Balcarres, SK
Watson, Tiffany Whitewood, SK
Yuzicappi, Dreyden Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
Bold Eagle Platoon 1209
Top Candidate: Private Flett R.
Second Place Candidate: Private Whiskeyjack T.
Most Improved Candidate: Private Lonethunder R. (Whitebear Nation)
Top Shot: Private Johnstone C. (Mistawasis First Nation)
Bold Eagle Platoon 1210
Top Candidate: Private Assoon D. (Kawacatoose First Nation)
Second Place Candidate: Private Ayoungman C.
Most Improved Candidate: Private Carrier K. (Cumberland House Metis Nation)
Top Shot: Private Smoker D. (Ochapowace First Nation)
Treaty Rights to Hunting, Fishing, Trapping and Gathering
Treaty First Nations assert that they intended to share the land, and jurisdiction and management over it, as opposed to ceding the land. First Nations state that they agreed to share the land to the depth of a plough. Thus, in First Nations' view, the fish and wildlife were not ceded to the Crown and therefore still belong to First Nations.
"I don't want your animals or the land that you live on. I'll (Her Majesty) make a deal with you. I'll keep all your animals for you because there will be many whitemen and they might kill your animals, so I'll keep and preserve them for whenever you want to hunt. When you want to hunt you may do so. They are your animals."(Alexander Morris, Treaty Commissioner)
It was the understanding of First Nations that conservation laws would be primarily to protect game for their use, as the newcomers would be dependent for a living upon agriculture and domestic animals rather than fish and wildlife.
Signing of Treaty assured all Treaty First Nations that they would be able to hunt, fish, trap and gather as they had done before the Treaty. The Treaty Commissioners recognized that it would have been impossible to get First Nations to sign the Treaty without such assurances.
Bill C-38 (CEAA)
Bill C-38 replaces the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) with new legislation. THE CEAA 2012 ends environmental assessments for minor projects, referred to as "Screenings". Comprehensive studies will now be referred to as "environmental assessments" and review panels remain the most stringent type of environmental assessment. The CEAA 2012 will impose difficult timelines of:
• 12 months for environmental assessments, 18 months for review panels undertaken by the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and 24 months for all other review panels.
• 20 days to provide comments on scoping
• Provisions included in CEAA 2012 to "stop the clock" while certain reports and studies are being undertaken. First Nations will repeatedly need to make such requests to ensure protections
The CEAA 2012 places a great deal of decisions in the hands of the federal Cabinet. This threatens to politicize environmental decisions.
A First Nation in Saskatchewan and a First Nation from the Atlantic region will lead the charge to litigate Bill C-38, specifically challenging the amendments to the Fisheries Act based on the adverse impact to the Treaty right to Hunt, Fish, Trap and Gather and also the commercial right to Fish as won earlier in other Supreme Court decisions.
Legal Counsel contracted by the FSIN will file a statement of claim on this matter on behalf of these First Nations. The relief the legal counsel will seek from the courts is an exemption for the First Nations from the implementation of Bill C-38.
Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron and National Chief Shawn Atleo are currently planning to convene a Special National AFN Assembly on Bill C-38 to be held in Saskatoon in October. The Assembly will discuss the legal and political strategies on challenging the implementation of Bill C-38.
Staff from the Specific Claims Department met with several First Nations this week to address the following: 80A Claim First Nations, seeking direction from the First Nation in advancing their claim; Black Lake and Fond du Lac Denesuline Nations, advising as to the next steps to take regarding a potential claim; Cumberland House Cree Nation representatives, advising on matters related to the Specific Claims process and possible next steps; and separate meetings with the Muskowekwan and Pelican Lake First Nations, in relation to their claims that have been submitted to Canada. The staff are also currently finalizing the FSIN's submission of the Five Year Review of the "Justice at Last", the new process of resolving specific claims in Canada. The Five Year Review document will be presented to the Lands and Resources Commission at its next meeting.
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act Lands
On June 22, 2012, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz sent correspondence to Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron advising that his Ministry is "conducting a comprehensive review of the title holdings of all of the community pastures which will be conducted over a period of six years, with no changes for the 2012 grazing season." Minister Ritz commits to "consider the Treaty Land Entitlement agreements, specific claim agreements and the obligation to consult as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Haida/Taku/Mikisew Cree, as and when they apply."
Alan Parkinson, Manager of the PFRA program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has committed to continue to inform and engage the First Nations while the devolution of the Community Pasture Program proceeds. Alan Parkinson attended the most recent Commission meeting and advised the Commission Chiefs that those TLE and Specific Claim First Nations interested in acquiring these PFRA lands should make the selections through their agreements in order to "freeze" these lands and as such would ensure that the TLE and Specific Claim First Nations would be involved in this process.
Wally Hoehm, Director of Lands Branch of the provincial Ministry of Agriculture has been invited to attend the next Lands & Resources Commission meeting to discuss what the provincial government in planning to do with the PFRA lands program and to ensure the inclusion of the entitlement and specific claims First Nations.
Keep in mind that this program will make no changes to the PFRA lands until fiscal year 2013. This time will allow the TLE and Specific Claim First Nations to make their selections on these lands.
Privatization of First Nation Lands
Chief Commissioner Manny Jules, First Nations Tax Commission, has formed a Working Group comprised of First Nation leaders to draft legislation that would convert "reserve lands" into fee simple lands which would allow a First Nation to mortgage, build equity and finance business upon. The Working Group is expected to complete its work on drafting the proposed legislation by the end of October and will report its recommendations to the federal government.
Tina Pelletier of the First Nations Tax Commission states that it is expected that this legislation will be an "opt-in" piece of legislation similar to that of the First Nations Land Management Act.
The Lands & Resources Secretariat has invited Manny Jules to the next Commission meeting to discuss the matter. However, the Secretariat will ensure the First Nations are well informed of this initiative and the potential impacts to Treaty and Inherent rights.
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
A meeting was held with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority on the 25 year Water Security Plan. First Nations must not ignore this matter. They are being encouraged to assert their jurisdiction over their ancestral lands and territories. First Nations have Treaty and Inherent Rights to Water. Water like any other resource is a very serious matter as it impacts First Nations livelihoods, cultures and traditions.
Aboriginal Aquaculture Engagement
The National Fisheries Strategy of AFN along with DFO are working on a collective understanding of the opportunities and constrains associated with Aboriginal involvement in the Canadian Aquaculture sector. A second meeting was recently held with First Nations inland groups (as opposed to the Pacific and Atlantic coastal groups) regarding aquaculture to explore opportunities and potential ventures. The engagement initiative being introduced is moving along very swiftly and inland First Nations need more time to explore and understand the aquaculture industry and the processes entailed. There have not been any resources forthcoming to disseminate the information to individual communities or First Nations entrepreneurs. First Nations are not against aquaculture as an industry and job creating; however, caution must be taken as First Nations move forward in the engagement.
Nuclear Waste Management Organization
The Lands and Resources Secretariat will be host to more regional meetings in three key locations in the province to inform and update First Nations on the Nuclear Waste Management Organizations' activities. The informational sessions are being planned for October, November and possibly early December. The locations of these sessions will be forthcoming once dates and locations are finalized.
It is important for the First Nations to not ignore this matter because the federal government will make a decision on NWMO and its work regardless if whether the First Nations choose to refuse to work with the NWMO organization. The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that the First Nations have a "reciprocal obligation" under the law of the Duty to Consult and Accommodate to engage government and any proponent on any matter that impacts their Treaty and Inherent rights; the First Nations just cannot refuse to do so as a means of protecting their rights.
Treaty 4 Education Student Success Conference
Treaty 4 Education Student Success Conference was held August 29, 2012 and Vice Chief Bobby Cameron was pleased and humbled to speak on the Treaty Right to Education and the many issues our First Nations teachers and students have to deal with in regards to; underfunding in many programs, salaries, school programs, nominal roll, and how resource revenue sharing can help offset the costs of our First Nations education needs. Many Treaty 4 First Nations leadership and Education Directors in attendance strongly agreed with what Vice Chief Cameron had to say.
As ambassadors of the communities, Vice Chief Cameron says that we will continue to push for Treaty implementation and protection for future generations of our people.
In Memory of Ross MacLennan
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of a dear friend and colleague, Ross MacLennan. The FSIN sends its sincere condolences to his wife Beverly DeJong, children, family and friends.
Ross was contracted by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Lands and Resources Secretariat in 1998 until the full establishment of the Saskatchewan First Nations Resource Management System (FNRMS) was achieved. He was instrumental in the establishment of the FNRMS and the 10 year review that was conducted thereafter and wanted to see the FNRMS grow and to flourish.
Ross provided a great deal of support to the FSIN using his considerable knowledge in the lands and resources area, with an appreciation of First Nation perspectives. Ross provided his input and analysis into a number of areas within the FSIN Lands and Resources Secretariat, namely, alternative measures, firearms legislation, environmental management, and outfitting, to name a few. Ross was truly an inspiration to the staff within the secretariat. He will be missed by the staff within the FSIN and to all who knew him.
Treaty Land Entitlement
20th Anniversary Celebration of the Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement, 1992 to hold in Saskatoon on September 25, 2102. A media event will be held at Wanuskewin and the celebration event will be held at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.
Lands and Resources Commission meeting will be held on October 2, 2012 at the Dakota Dunes Casino. The agenda will include an update on the litigation of the Bill C-38; PFRA pasture lands; TLE implementation issues and their resolution; provincial Environmental Code; Manny Jules and his First Nations Property Act initiative; and the second Industry & First Nations Relations Forum to be held in October.
Upcoming Meeting Dates
September 7 and 8, 2012: Treaty 6, Fort Pitt, Onion Lake Cree Nation
September 10 – 14, 2012: Treaties 1-11 Gathering, Brandon, MB
September 18, 2012: Indian Justice Commission Meeting, 9:30 a.m. Country Squire Inn, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
September 18 – 20, 2012: Treaty 4 Gathering, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK.
September 18-20, 2012: First Nations Health Managers Association Conference – Sheraton Hotel – Vancouver, B.C.
September 20, 2012: Director of Education meeting, 10 a.m. Saskatoon Travelodge
October 1 - 3, 2012: AFN Chief's Assembly on Education, Palais des Congres de Gatineau, 3rd Floor, 55 Boulevard Maisonneuve, Gatineau, Quebec
October 2, 2012: Lands and Resources Commission Meeting, Dakota Dunes Casino, Whitecap Dakota Sioux First Nation
October 10 & 12, 2012 – MOU Steering Committee – Delta Hotel - Regina