Gathering Theme: The Justice System

GATHERING THEME

The Justice System

Kate Kehler
Maraleigh Short

Opening common to all gatherings

The criminal justice system in Canada and Manitoba is primarily based on the European adversarial model. The crown attorney seeks to prosecute on behalf of the government while the defense attorney works to discredit the Crown’s arguments. The Crown’s role is to do what is best for society as a whole, not seek revenge for an individual. However, day to day reality is such that many Crown attorneys seek the strictest punishment they think they can get, and the defense lawyers just try to mitigate that. Often this results in a plea bargain – a joint submission that the judge then accepts. In Manitoba, courts today are so backlogged with procedural matters that resolving cases has seemingly become more important than resolving them well. It is often so rushed that the accused can be asked to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives in cramped little rooms, just minutes before going into court.

The Crown does not lay charges. The police do that. However it is up to the Crown to decide which charges to pursue. The Crown is not supposed to pursue a charge they are not convinced they can prove beyond doubt. However, Crown attorneys routinely pursue charges that are only ‘triable’. The fear here is that someone who has spent months incarcerated prior to trial, if promised immediate release given time served, will just plead guilty and no real resolution will have been achieved.

Remand and bail

Manitoba continues to be the province that holds the most people for the longest period of time on pre-sentenced (or remand) status. On any given day, about 70% of the people we have in custody are awaiting trial or sentencing.

The wealthier amongst us can pretty well count on getting bail because we are viewed as low risk and can afford a lawyer or afford to borrow to hire one. People in poverty may or may not have a stable home or job and have to rely on the chronically underfunded legal aid system. The perceived risks in both this instability and lack of advocacy mean they are more often than not denied bail.

To the average person it must seem that we have jails and prisons overflowing with very dangerous individuals. This is not the case. Most people in our provincial jails are there for breaches of bail or probation conditions, and not for committing a new crime. Most front line workers and even some judges complain about the number of conditions recommended and imposed on people as simply setting them up to fail.

Here are just some of what we know about who we currently have incarcerated in Canada with some Manitoba specific statistics:

  • The adult non-Indigenous population in jail has been decreasing steadily, while the Indigenous (a younger demographic) population has increased dramatically. Indigenous peoples represent about 4% of the total population, but about 25% of those we incarcerate.

  • There has been an increase of 112% in the incarceration of Indigenous women in recent years. In the prison for women in Headingly, 8 out of 10 inmates are Indigenous.

  • In Canada, you are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated at some point in your life if you are Indigenous.

  • 90% of the 11,000 children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous,

  • 65% of the men in Stony Mountain Penitentiary were children in care.

  • 80% of those we incarcerate grew up in poverty and lack a grade 12 education.

Being Indigenous and poor is the most direct path to prison. Canadians worry about a two-tier health system? We have long had a two-tier justice system.

Poverty and Crime

Let’s look more closely at the link between poverty and crime. Former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal said, given that 80% statistic above “if crime abatement is the goal then it is time that all Canadians and their governments got tough on poverty.” Many will say that they know lots of people who have grown up in and/or continue to struggle in poverty but have never committed a crime. Of course the majority don’t commit crime. They are in fact more likely to be the victims of crime given that they are forced to live in high crime areas due to the lack of truly affordable housing elsewhere. Furthermore, that is their community so they may not want to leave.

In Manitoba, one in three children live in poverty. Winnipeg Harvest shares food with nearly 62,000 Manitobans a month, through emergency food programs across the province. Of these, more than 26,000 are children and more than 4,000 of them are under the age of 2.

Harvest also reports that those growing up in poverty were far more likely to be in ill health and die before the age of 65, than those who do not.

When we allow people to be raised in desperate situations, we should not be surprised if some become desperate. Children know when they are being left behind or left out. The effects of that knowledge has lasting impact. Crisis thinking and impulse decision making becomes all too easily entrenched.

Our current justice system relies on incarceration to rehabilitate individuals who commit crime.

What is actually happening in our jails is another matter .The vast majority of resources simply go to keeping staff and inmates alike physically safe. Rehabilitative programing resources are scarce. Headingly’s workshop rooms were converted to provide more beds. The use of solitary confinement as a security measure remains a huge issue. The Government of Manitoba and Justice Department recently changed terminology. They stopped calling the provincial institutions “jails” and renamed them “correctional centres”. It was meant to highlight the importance of rehabilitation. However, the reality is that people come out not corrected, but institutionalized.

Institutionalization creates its own consequences. Taking decision making out of people’s hands creates dependency. People lose the ability to stay on a schedule and manage what little money they may have properly. This culture of dependency, added to a criminal record, keeps people from establishing stable living conditions and employment.

When we incarcerate people we stop any progress they may have made. If they had a job or place to live, that is gone. If they are a woman with kids, those kids usually end up in government care. The disruption and cost to us all is massive.

It costs three times as much to incarcerate a person than it does to keep them supported in the community. These costs do not even include police, court and Child and Family Services’ costs.

The TRC highlights the need for child and family service, education and justice reform.

Restorative justice

Restorative Justice is the traditional justice system for many Indigenous peoples. It also has the added benefit of being the form of justice for many of our newcomer communities who are also becoming one of the fastest rising populations caught up in our justice system for much the same reasons; trauma, poverty, colonization through violence and war.

Restorative Justice approaches crime and harm as an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

It ensures that the person who committed the harm is accountable, takes responsibility for and works to repair the harm.

When possible, it allows for direct restitution to the person harmed, but also provides more peace to these victims as they get a better understanding of the whys of what was done to them. Victims of crime who engage in restorative justice processes report much higher levels of satisfaction than those who go through our current system.

Restorative Justice can also come into play at various stages in the system. It can divert one out of the system before all of the ill effects of incarceration makes matters worse. But it has also been used after a sentence has been served. Some family members of murder victims have received peace of mind when meeting with those who have served their sentence and have ‘owned’ what they have done.

Contrary to the popular perception that restorative justice is easier than incarceration and tantamount to ‘thug hugging’, most perpetrators who go through the process say it is much harder to ‘own-up’ to their failings and face the ones they harmed than it is to sit in a jail cell and focus on their own suffering, rather than what they caused.

Most importantly, by a careful examination of the incident, the context of the crime is better understood by the community and the community gains a better understanding of how it can address the root cause of the imbalance.

Discussion; passing the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings

Gathering Theme: Métis Struggles for Land

GATHERING THEME

Métis Struggles for Land

Author: Dr. Fiola

Red River Resistance: Provisional Government & Manitoba Act (1870)

Métis families were established in the region where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers converge (“The Forks,” Winnipeg), by the time the Selkirk Settlers arrived in 1812. French and Métis voyageurs retired there with their families when their fur trade contracts expired. Here, the Métis Nation would emerge shortly.

In 1670, King Charles II of England gave the HBC an exclusive trade monopoly over Rupert’s Land (Hudson’s Bay drainage). In 1869, the HBC transferred Rupert’s Land to Canada. Surveyors arrived in Red River ‒ where the Métis formed a majority ‒ to divide the land without consultation. Fearing an influx of settlers, Louis Riel and others stopped surveyors in October 1869; so began the Red River Resistance.

Métis, and others, politically organized to protect their land. The Comité National des Métis was formed in December 1869 with John Bruce as president and Riel as secretary. In March 1870, Bruce would become president of the provisional government; Riel would eventually become president. The provisional government issued a “Declaration of the People of Rupert’s Land and the North-West,” rejecting Canada’s authority over the North-West, asserting the legitimacy of their provisional government, and inviting Canada to negotiate the region into confederation. Since Canada had yet to establish formal government in Red River, the provisional government became the legal government in the area. Ottawa begrudgingly recognized this and began negotiations.

The provisional government drew up a bill of rights ‒ terms by which they would agree to confederation ‒ and sent three representatives to Ottawa to negotiate. The bill of rights would become the List of Rights which secured the confederation of Manitoba as the fifth province of Canada via the Manitoba Act (1870). The list aimed to secure Métis land use, rights, and customs. Section 31 of the Act reserved 1.4 million acres of land for Métis families in the new province; Section 32 secured land rights for already established inhabitants (including white farmers).

Only the British Parliament could legally amend the Manitoba Act; however, the Canadian government ignored this and passed amendments limiting eligibility for sections 31 and 32. These included Eurocentric ideas of a “proper” home, garden size, and fence; many Métis lived in shacks without fences and were sometimes bison hunting during harvest time. Métis faced backlash from English Canada for confederating a province, and because a Métis tribunal condemned Orangeman Thomas Scott to death by firing squad in March of 1870.

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sent Colonel Wolseley and the Red River Expeditionary Forces to ensure the transition from a provisional to a provincial government. For two years, they beat Métis men, raped Métis women, established saloons which increased alcohol-related violence, and prevented Métis from voting. Scrip, a federal land grant system, also cheated many Métis from their land (more below). Métis began to flee from Manitoba.

North-West Resistance (1885) and The Forgotten Years

Métis established themselves in communities further west (St. Laurent, Batoche, SK). Settlers followed and again Métis feared they would lose their land. They formed a second provisional government with local Métis leader, Gabriel Dumont, assuming the role of Adjutant General. Petitions sent to Ottawa were ignored. Instead, Macdonald used the new railway to send militia to suppress the Métis. The series of battles that ensued became known as the North-West Resistance (1885). After their defeat, the Métis scattered again. Some stayed and faced oppression on the prairies, others moved to British Columbia, to the Northwest Territories, and into the northern United States ‒ these were roughly the boundaries of the historic Métis Nation; many had trade and kinship relationships therein.

After 1885, the Métis entered a period of repression known as “The Forgotten Years.” Riel was executed and the Métis experienced severe poverty, unemployment, and racism; many become known as “Road Allowance People.” The only places left for Métis to live were along road allowances set aside for future buildings, roads, railway. Families moved every time construction crews arrived; community cohesion suffered. Many Métis denied their Indigenous identity. Survival trumped passing on cultural knowledge. Repression began to lift only after WWI.

Historic Treaties and Scrip

Meanwhile, the Canadian government was extinguishing Aboriginal title (rights) to land via treaties and scrip. One year after the Manitoba Act, the government began signing the Numbered Treaties. Treaty 3 is the only historic treaty that Métis were permitted to enter as a collective. Otherwise, only individual Métis were accepted. Initially, one could choose treaty or scrip; however, Métis faced increasing pressure to take the one-time scrip as it let the government off the hook for annuities. Many First Nations chiefs, like Shingwauk, requested that Métis enter treaty. Treaty commissioners were instructed to say no – the government denied Métis indigeneity to reduce the number of people entering treaty.

In Manitoba, scrip was supposed to distribute the 1.4 million acres promised to the Métis. This lottery system of land allotment issued coupons to individuals for 160 or 240 acres or dollars. Eurocentric amendments by the federal government regarding what constituted a “proper” house, fence, garden size drastically reduced those who were eligible. The system was slow (scrip wasn’t issued until 1876), disorganized, confusing (many Métis were illiterate and spoke Indigenous languages but instructions were in English/French), and fraud was rampant. Residence patterns were ignored and split up families. Many sold their scrip for a pittance; most did not receive their entitled land ‒ many left Manitoba.

Phases two and three of Métis scrip occurred in the North-West (Saskatchewan and Alberta) and during the signing of Treaties 8 and 10 (Alberta, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan), respectively. Scrip coupons did not specify that they were meant to permanently extinguish Aboriginal title.

Métis Settlements & Modern Treaties

Métis lobbying in Alberta led to the Métis Population Betterment Act (1939) which created 12 Métis colonies (four dissolved in the 1950s). This is the only constitutionally-protected Métis land base in Canada. Métis own their land in fee simple (strongest land right) and have a measure of self-government.

Since 1975, Indigenous peoples have been signing modern treaties (comprehensive land claims) with Canada. There are currently 100 treaty negotiation tables across Canada with dozens of treaties in various stages of negotiation; on average it takes 15 years to finalize a treaty. Some of these treaties include a self-government clause. Self-government agreements are slowly gaining traction. A few of these agreements have fee simple ownership. With exceptions in the north, the government refuses to negotiate treaties and self-government agreements with the Métis.

Courts & Legislation

In 1982, Canada patriated its constitution and included section 35 which identifies the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), and states that Aboriginal/treaty rights must be honoured. The terms Métis and Aboriginal rights were not defined; the courts are defining these. Government refuses to negotiate unless they are forced to in court.

In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that the Crown failed when distributing the 1.4 million acres promised in the Manitoba Act (MMF v Canada). In May 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between President David Chartrand of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, to advance reconciliation. The MMF’s goal is to sign a modern treaty with Canada including a trust fund, lands for collective use, and programs, supports and initiatives to benefit Manitoba Métis.

In July 2016, Thomas Issac, Ministerial Special Representative for Métis rights, issued his final report and recommendations regarding section 35 Métis rights, and implementation of the MMF v Canada land claim. Isaac asserted that rights-bearing Métis communities have outstanding land claims from Ontario westward that must be negotiated; that First Nations treaty rights should not trump Métis rights; and that Canada should accept unique forms of Métis self-government. He urged the government to develop a Framework Agreement with the MMF to settle the 1870 land claim. Formal negotiations have not begun.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Métis (and non-status Indians) are “Indians” in section 91(24) of the Constitution Act (1867) which states that the federal government has jurisdiction over “Indians and lands reserved for Indians” (Daniels v Canada). Like in MMF v Canada, remediation/compensation was not awarded; however, it opens the doors to federal assistance for Métis like that enjoyed by First Nations.

In Powley v Canada (2003), the Supreme Court recognized that Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is a historic Métis community with section 35 Métis rights. This case devised the “Powley Test” to define what constitutes Métis rights and who is entitled to them. Courts are taking a case-by-case approach; a ruling in one case does not necessarily apply to other Métis communities.

Nonetheless, Métis people are maintaining relationships with their home territories. Many Indigenous peoples are moving from rural to urban locations, yet remaining connected to their communities/land through celebrating culture days, pursuing subsistence activities, and reconnecting with land through ceremonies. Métis are not waiting for government/court assistance; we push forward and continue nurturing our relationships with land.

References – Métis Struggles for Land

Adams, Howard. 1989. Prison of Grass: Canada from a Native Point of View. Calgary: Fifth House Publishers.

Augustus, Camie. 2008. “Métis Scrip.” Our Legacy. University of Saskatchewan Archives. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/exhibit_scrip.

Barkwell, Lawrence, ed. 2002. Métis Rights and Land Claims: An Annotated Bibliography. Winnipeg: Louis Riel Institute.

Chartrand, Paul, and John Giokas. 2002. Who Are the Métis? A Review of the Law and Policy. In Who Are Canadas Aboriginal Peoples? Recognition, Definition, and Jurisdiction, edited by Paul Chartrand, 268-304. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.

Daniels v. Canada. 2016. Judgements of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15858/index.do

Fillmore, W. P. 1978. “Half-Breed Scrip.” In The Other Natives: The-Les Métis, edited by Antoine Lussier, and D. Bruce Sealey, 31-36. Vol. 2. Winnipeg: Manitoba Métis Federation Press.

Fiola, Chantal. 2015. “Re-Kindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Identity, Anishinaabe Spirituality and Identity.” Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. 2008. Treaty 3 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibbeway [sic] Indians at the Northwest Angle on the Lake of the Woods with Adhesions (1875). Accessed February 13, 2017. http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100028675.

Milne, Brad. 1995. “The Historiography of Métis Land Dispersal, 1870-1890.” Manitoba History, no. 30: 30-41.

MMF (Manitoba Métis Federation) v Canada (Attorney General). 2013. Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/12888/index.do.

Murray, Jeffrey S. 1993. Métis Scrip Records – Foundation for a New Beginning. The Archivist 20(1): 12-14.

Peterson, Jacqueline, and Jennifer S. H. Brown, eds. 1985. The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

R. v. Powley. 2003. Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/

Gathering Theme: Métis Identity and Nationhood

GATHERING THEME

Métis Identity and Nationhood

Author: Chuck Bourgeois

Métis identity and Nationhood are often discussed together, but are best understood as two closely related, yet separate and distinct concepts. Métis identity refers to the ways in which a person identifies as Métis, and the practices, beliefs, and history that make up this identity. Métis identity is an intensely personal experience, and as such, the way it is understood can vary greatly from one person to the next. Métis Nationhood, on the other hand, is the result of very specific historical events, and in modern times, is the basis for the political relationship certain Métis organizations share with the federal and provincial governments in Canada. While there are differing views on the subject, this discussion will focus on the Red River Métis who have continuously occupied their traditional territory on the prairies, and who developed a distinct language, culture, and political structure which rose to prominence during the 19th century.

Métis Nationhood

The story of the Métis Nation predates the confederation of Canada by at least a century. Throughout what are now known as the Prairie Provinces, early European settlers intermarried with women from primarily Cree, Ojibway, and Nakota groups as the fur trade spread throughout the continent. Many of the children from these unions learned the cultures of both parents, and as a result, they became very active in the fur trade as interpreters, voyageurs, buffalo hunters, and trading post factors. A number of significant historical events led Métis people to develop a robust political awareness, and to understand themselves as a Nation rather than simply as a ‘cultural group’. During the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816, Métis fighters were the first to fly the infinity flag that is still used as a national symbol today. The Métis were also members of an all-Indigenous political alliance known as the Iron Confederacy which was active in the mid to late 1800s on the central plains. The Iron Confederacy included Cree, Nakota, Assiniboine and other Indigenous groups who negotiated treaties among themselves, and fought together to defend their land and resources which were increasingly threatened by European settlement. The Métis, however, are best known for the events which led to the Red River Resistance in 1869 and the Battle of Batoche in 1885. During these conflicts, the Métis established a provisional government, elected Louis Riel as their representative into the House of Commons, negotiated Manitoba into Confederation, and consistently refused to be governed by the new Canadian Federal Government and its laws.

The history of the Métis Nation, and all its conflicts, victories and adventures spans centuries, and is the subject of much debate and study. It cannot be denied, however, that Métis people organized themselves politically long before Canada became a country. Their governance style and political structure evolved during the great buffalo hunts of the nineteenth century. At their peak, these hunts consisted of over a thousand Red River carts, included hunters and families from several different Indigenous groups, and were strictly regulated by distinct laws. At the time, there was no other political organization that even came close to bringing together such a large and diverse group in such a cohesive way. Before each hunt, the hunters elected a chief, several captains, and discussed their travel route until a consensus was reached. Upon their return, the chief and captains would step down from their positions, and the whole process would begin anew at the outset of each hunt. This allowed for a very fluid, and democratic approach to leadership and governance. Indeed, political organizing was an integral part of Métis culture long before confederation.

During the Red River Resistance, the Métis negotiated with the federal government – not as a special interest group, or a as Canadian citizens – but as a distinct Nation, with its own representative body, political structure, and territory. Today, the Métis continue to hold a unique space in Canadian politics, and have been successful in having their rights recognized through a number of landmark court cases.

There are currently five provincial, and one national political organization which represent the interests of Métis people. They are; the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Métis Nation British Columbia. Each of these is represented at the national level by the Métis National Council. Membership requirements are determined by each organization, but generally follow similar protocols. The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), for example, requires individuals to self-identify as Métis, to show an ancestral connection to an historic Métis community, and to be accepted by the contemporary Manitoba Métis Community. Citizens of the Manitoba Métis Federation benefit from training and employment programs, harvesting rights, funding for education and small businesses, and other services managed by the MMF.

One of main differences between historic and contemporary expressions of

Métis Nationhood is that while Métis people historically fought for independence from the Canadian state, today, the Métis Nation exists as a part of Canada, and many Métis people consider themselves to be Canadian citizens.

Métis Identity

Contemporary Métis identity isn’t so easily defined, or understood. Seeking membership in one of the provincial representative organizations is an easy first step for many individuals, but while this provides a political identity, it does little for those of us who seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be a proud Métis person in today’s world.

Our ancestors benefitted from a vibrant and intensely unique culture. Among other characteristics, their clothes, their skill at buffalo hunting, their beading patterns, and the languages they spoke, gave early Métis people a deep sense of pride, and a distinct identity. However, the Métis experienced severe hardships and discrimination during the colonization of Canada and well into the twentieth century. Generations grew up either ashamed of being Métis, or completely unaware of their cultural heritage. Some would argue that Métis still have not fully recovered from the many injustices they endured. In 1885, Louis Riel prophesized that his people would sleep for a hundred years, but would then be reawakened by our artists, and begin to feel pride again. In many ways, his prophecy has come to pass. But our journey has not been easy.

Many people understand the term Métis as a racial characteristic; a way of describing people of mixed ancestry. Unfortunately, however, contemporary Métis people in Canada often have difficulty getting out from under this outdated racial stereotype. This is due, in part, to longstanding federal policies which have sought to discourage the Métis from asserting rights, or defending land claims as Indigenous peoples. A Métis person is often asked; “which one of your parents is Indigenous”, or “how much Indian are you? half?, a quarter?, an eighth?” Questions like these set up two points of reference: white or European on one end; and Indigenous on the other. Métis identity becomes an awkward space that is stuck somewhere in between these two points. This obsession with race – and the associated stigmas of skin color and racial ‘purity’ – is a pathology we have inherited from our colonial past. It was not that long ago that the Métis were simply known as Half-Breeds. The mixed race stereotype automatically suggests that someone is ‘less than’, not fully one or the other. What many Métis people today are now realizing, is that their racial make-up doesn’t tell them much about who they are. Métis identity simply cannot be measured through blood quantum, or by counting how many Indigenous relatives we have in our family trees. These issues lead to some very complex questions. If we no longer live in the cultural environment our ancestors lived in, and if our distinct histories and political affiliations are only small parts of what makes us who we are; then what, exactly, makes a person Métis?

To some, a Métis person is someone who displays certain cultural traits – they wear sashes, dance the Red River Jig, play the fiddle, and participate in events like the Festival du Voyageur. But these are only external symbols representative of much deeper experiences. An Elder once said that trying to understand Métis identity is like trying to catch a moving train. Métis people in Canada today are constantly recreating their identities in new and powerful ways.

Many of us are rebuilding relationships with our First Nations relatives, and acknowledging the destructive impact colonization has had on our families. Others are building vibrant connections to their ancestry by learning an Indigenous language, or by participating in traditional ceremonies. Genealogical research also serves as a strong foundation for building Métis identity. It is not uncommon to discover that one or several of our direct ancestors participated in the great buffalo hunts, fought with Louis Riel, or founded one of the many Métis communities still in existence today. The challenge is to find creative ways to express our traditional understandings and worldviews in modern contexts. As contemporary Métis people, we must do more than inherit the legacy of our diverse and complex history; we must also contribute to this legacy by constantly renewing and re-visioning our identities.

In this sense, it is best not to think of Métis identity as a fixed set of characteristics as laid out by political or legal definitions. Métis people are here today because of the strength, and resolve of our ancestors who fought to protect their way of life for their grandchildren, and great grandchildren. In many ways, we too are now engaged in a struggle. Métis identity must be defined by the people who live by it, not by the organizations who represent us, or the colonies that have sprung up around us. This is what we, in turn, will pass on to our children, to ensure that they too will be proud to call themselves Métis for generations to come.

 

References

Adams, H. (1999). Tortured people: the politics of colonization. Penticton, BC: Theytus Books Ltd.

 

Andersen, C. (2015). “Métis”: race, recognition, and the struggle for indigenous peoplehood. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Ens, G. J., & Sawchuk, J. (2016). From new peoples to new nations aspects of Métis history and identity from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

 

Fiola, C. (2015). Rekindling the sacred fire: Métis ancestry and Anishinaabe spirituality. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press.

Vowel, C. (2016). Indigenous writes: a guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada. Winnipeg: HighWater Press.

 

  • Manitoba Métis Federation:

http://www.mmf.mb.ca/

  • Métis National Council :

http://www.metisnation.ca/

 

Immediate Job Openings

Indigenous Community Recruiter

Circles for Reconciliation is a non-profit, grassroots community project that seeks to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. The goal is to create new relationships that are based on “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing and mutual responsibility” (TRC). Our means is to create 100 discussion groups, each composed of 10 people (five Indigenous and five non-Indigenous) with each of the 100 groups meeting 10 times to learn and discuss a large number of issues around reconciliation.

We are seeking an Indigenous person who will canvas Indigenous organizations in the city seeking individuals willing to participate in our project. This is a part-time position, possibly 15 hours a week with flexible hours for 2 – 4 months. The successful candidate will have some post-secondary education, access to a vehicle, and knowledge of Indigenous organizations in Winnipeg. Knowledge of an Indigenous language would be an asset.

Visit our website at www.circlesforreconciliation.ca to learn about our organization.

Please apply online at https://umanitoba.hua.hrsmart.com/ats/job_search.php on or before Friday, February 3rd, 2017. Questions can be directed to info@circlesforreconciliation.ca.

 For posting in Reach-UM:
Department: Sociology
Hiring Manager and Contact: Raymond Currie
Phone number: 204 487 0512
OA3 classification
0 – 20 hours per week unscheduled
FOP: 318948-317000-2000

Indigenous Events Assistant

Circles for Reconciliation is a non-profit, grassroots community partnership that seeks to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. The goal is to create new relationships that are based on “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing and mutual responsibility” (TRC). Our means is to create 100 discussion groups, each composed of 10 people (five Indigenous and five non-Indigenous) with each of the 100 groups meeting 10 times to learn and discuss a large number of issues around reconciliation.

We are seeking an Indigenous person to facilitate coordination of discussion groups, initiate and respond to inquiries from individuals and groups, coordinate with indigenous members of discussion groups by phone, and visit discussion group sites to set up meetings.

The ideal candidate is indigenous, will have good organizational and communication skills and have connections with the Indigenous community in Winnipeg. Knowledge of an Indigenous language would be an asset.

Visit our website at www.circlesforreconciliation.ca to learn about our organization.

Please apply online at https://umanitoba.hua.hrsmart.com/ats/job_search.php on or before Friday, February 3rd, 2017. Questions can be directed to info@circlesforreconciliation.ca.

For posting in Reach-UM:
Department: Sociology
Hiring Manager and Contact: Raymond Currie
Phone number: 204 487 0512
OA3 classification
0 – 20 hours per week unscheduled
FOP: 318948-317000-2000

Crisis Intervention Supports

CRISIS INTERVENTION SUPPORTS

 

Klinic Community Health Klinic Crisis Line (24/7)
870 Portage Avenue Phone: (204) 786-8686
Winnipeg, MB, R3G 0P1 Toll free: 1-888-322-3019
Phone: 
(204) 784-4090 TTY: (204) 784 4097

Manitoba Suicide Line
Reason to Live
1-877-435-7170

(1-877-HELP170)

Crisis and Emergency Services – University of Manitoba 

If you are on campus and require immediate assistance, you may access the SCC (474 University Centre) during our drop-in times. Most urgent cases are seen during our drop-in times on a priority basis.

Regular Session – September – April
MondayTuesdayThursdayFriday
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Our office is open from 8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday at the Fort Garry campus, and from noon until 7:00 p.m. MondayWednesday at the Bannatyne campus (S207 Medical Services Building).  Hours may be reduced during the summer months and over holiday breaks. You can contact either of our services by calling 204-474-8592 during our Fort Garry business hours.  

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INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS RESOLUTION HEALTH SUPPORT PROGRAM

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling 24-Hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419

All former Indian Residential School students, regardless of the individual’s status or place of residence within Canada, who attended an Indian Residential School listed in the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are eligible to receive services from the Resolution Health Support Program.

In recognition of the intergenerational impacts that the Indian Residential Schools had on families, Resolution Health Support Program services are also available to family members of former Indian Residential Schools student

 

Mental Health Crisis Response Centre

Location, Telephone & Internet
Office Phone 204-940-1781
After Hours Phone 204-940-1781
TTY Phone 204-779-8902
Crisis Phone 204-940-1781 Mobile Service
Fax 204-940-1764
Website www.wrha.mb.ca/prog/mentalhealth/index.php
Address Notes at the west end of the Health Sciences Centre complex
Location Downtown (Winnipeg)
Address 817 Bannatyne Ave 
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0Y1
Intersection Bannatyne Ave and Tecumseh St
Bus Route Information 12 William, 19 Marion-Logan-Notre Dame, 33 Maples, 71 Arlington
Parking parking available; parking fees

Description & Services

Agency Description *is a central point of access to help individuals experiencing a mental health crisis / psycho social crisis who need urgent care.
  * deals with the acute distress and instability that individuals experience in a mental health crisis.
* provides services such as integrated mental health assessment, crisis intervention, mental health crisis treatment.
* offers short term clinical treatment and support services through walk-in services, mobile services, and scheduled appointment services.
* gives patients with mental health issues, and those with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues, with links and referrals to specialized treatment, rehabilitation and support services.
* connects individuals to key resources for appropriate follow-up care as needed.
Houses the walk-in crisis services team and the Adult Mobile Crisis Service, which provides crisis intervention and suicide-prevention services to adults in Winnipeg. Provides phone assistance; can also meet with individuals in crisis at a location within Winnipeg, either in their home or a safe location.
Hours MonSun 24 hours
   
Eligibility Ages: 18 year(s) and up
Winnipeg residents experiencing a mental health crisis
Application Walk in; Phone crisis line
  English ; Interpretive Services – French and other languages

___________________________________________________________

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, website: afm.mb.ca

Manitoba Addictions Helpline 1-888-662-6605

24-Hour Problem Gambling Helpline Toll-Free 1-800-463-1554

 

Aulneau Renewal Centre, website: aulneau.com

228 Hamel Ave, Wpg, MB, R2H 0K6

204-987-7090, email: Admin@Aulneau.com

Crisis Stabilization Unit of Mental Health Services, Downtown Community Health and Social Services (West), open 24 hrs to 18 yrs & over

website: https://manitoba.cioc.ca/record/VMB4879?UseCICVw=124

204-940-3633

 

Ft. Garry Women’s Resource Centre, website: fgwrc.ca

204-477-1123

Three locations: 1150-A Waverley St., Wpg, MB R3T 0P4,

104-3100 Pembina Hwy, Wpg, MB R3T 4G4,

104-210 Ellen St. Wpg, MB R3A 1R7

Healthy Living & Seniors: Mental Health & Spiritual Care,

website: http://www.gov.mb.ca/healthyliving/mh/crisis.html

Laurel Centre, website: thelaurelcentre.com/

104 Roslyn Rd, Wpg, MB, R3L 0G6

204-783-5460, email: info@thelaurelcentre.com

MA MAWI WI CHI ITATA CENTRE, website: www.mamawi.com

204-925-0300, email: info@mamawi.com

Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre, website: www.matc.ca/

120 Tecumseh St, Wpg, MB, R3E 2A9

Centralized Intake: 204-958-9660,

Mobile Crisis Team: 204-949-9660 or 911

Marymound Crisis Stabilization Unit,

website: http://www.marymound.com/main/services/crisis-stabilization-unit/

204-949-4777 or 1888-383-2777

Mt. Carmel Clinic, https://www.mountcarmel.ca/

886 Main St., Wpg, MB, R2W 5L4

204-582-6006

North End Women’s Centre, website: www.newcentre.org/

204-589-7347, email: info@newcentre.org

394 Selkirk Ave.,Wpg, MB R2W 2M2

Rainbow Resource Centre, website: www.rainbowresourcecentre.org/

170 Scott Street, Wpg, MB, R3L 0L3

204-474-0212, Toll-Free Phone: 1-855-437-8523

 

Women’s Health Clinic, website: womenshealthclinic.org/

419 Graham Ave, Wpg, MB R3C 0M3

204-947-1517, email: whc@womenshealthclinic.org

 

Winnipeg Crisis Stabilization Unit: 204-940-3633

Winnipeg Youth Mobile Crisis Team: 204-949-4777 and (toll free) 1-888-383-2776

South Eastman Crisis Line and Mobile Crisis Services: 204-326-9276 and (toll free) 1-888-617-7715

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority Mobile Crisis Services: 204-482-5419 and (toll free) 1-866-427-8628

Prairie Mountain Health Regional Health Authority Crisis Services (toll free): 1-888-379-7699

Prairie Mountain Health Regional Health Authority Mobile Crisis Unit: 204-725-4411

Southern Regional Health Authority Crisis Support: 204-326-9276 or (toll free) 1-888-617-7715

______________________________________________________________

Aurora Family Therapy Centre – There is a currently no wait time. There is an intake package that needs to be filled out.

MAIN OFFICE & INTAKE REQUESTS
P:204-786-9251
F:204-772-2547
E: aurora@uwinnipeg.ca 

 

Gathering Theme: New Canadians and Indigenous Peoples

GATHERING THEME
New Canadians and Indigenous Peoples

  1. Opening common to all gatherings
  1. Presentation of the theme
  1. The future of Winnipeg rests on our ability to build authentic and informed relationships between two key communities: newcomers to Canada and Indigenous community members. We all have the responsibility to nurture the relationships between Indigenous, settlers and newcomers in the spirit and intent of the treaties. A lasting impact of colonization is the creation of a stratified society that pits those most marginalized against one another, forcing them to compete for place, belonging and resources. We need to look for ways to come together and build bridges.

In research conducted by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW) in 2014, 88 Indigenous and newcomer participants were asked ‘What are the possibilities of establishing community interactions and relationships that promote harmonious coexistence between the diverse newcomers and Aboriginal peoples?”

  • Young people noted a passive, but occasionally aggressive relationships between both communities. They would co-exist in a school environment, but tended to exclude each other from peer groups. They admitted to having pre-existing opinions of each other, but that these were largely what they heard from their parents and on social media.
  • Adult participants reflected many similar perceptions of each other. However, they had fewer opportunities to meet and work with individuals from the other community. Some of the respondents expressed strong views on why there was distance between the communities – competition for housing, jobs and services.
  • Elders and community leaders were the most understanding of the social situation being experienced by both communities and were thus more prone to suggesting how the different communities could be encouraged to engage and get to know each other.

A consistent theme running through the discussions was how both groups held negative perceptions of the other that they acknowledged were not accurate. Within the stereotypes each group held were also some sympathy for each other, as they acknowledged the struggles and difficulties they were experiencing coming to Winnipeg. This led to observations that as minorities, the two communities actually had a lot in common and shared experiences.

Through its experiences doing cross-cultural work the team at the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba – IRCOM pulled together some important information below on the commonalities & differences between newcomer and Indigenous communities and also on the TRC recommendations related to newcomers.

One key difference we need to emphasize at the outset is that Indigenous peoples are the only group originating on this continent and the rest of us are settlers.

On the other hand, we identified four themes of common ground between the Indigenous and immigrant/refugee population.

These include:

  1. Common cultural traditions & rituals

    1. Naming self in relation to family, ancestors, place (Sudanese tradition; Ojibwe tradition)

    2. Babywearing

    3. Drumming and dance

    4. Celebration of seasons & relationship to land and loss of that relationship to the land (forced migration/colonization)

    5. Celebration of coming of age

    6. Fasting, piercing, tattooing

    7. Hair

    8. Identity as tribal, Indigenous

    9. Beading/sewing/weaving baskets/ etc.

    10. Food/feasting

    11. Gift giving cultures (give-away; gift-giving as a tradition)

    12. Storytelling and emphasis on oral culture/tradition

    13. Sometimes a lack of interest in culture among younger generations

    14. Strong and abiding belief in many cultures in the spiritual / unseen

    15. Sense of time

  1. Common colonization and systemic oppression

    1. Christian missionaries/schools/residential schools. While we need to acknowledge the damage done by the religious institution who ran the Indian Residential Schools in Canada, we need not be critical when Indigenous parents in Canada decide to send their kids to “Christian Schools” today. The big difference these days, from the IRS era, is that Indigenous parents and students have a choice as to where they want to go to school.

    2. Police, racial profiling and oppression

    3. Similar types of stigma – ‘don’t pay taxes’ and ‘bogus refugee/queue jumper/handouts’

    4. Child & Family Services and relationship to systems and institutions in general- learned to fear

    5. Colonization of names of places and languages- e.g., Mantou-ahbee becomes Manitoba. Mumbai becomes Bombay (and a reclaiming of these names)

    6. Having cultural names and ‘Christian names” or westernized names

  1. Common family breakdown/disruption/migration

    1. Separation of children from parents/families (due to war/Lost Boys/Girls of Sudan; residential schools)

    2. Newcomers to the country/ Indigenous newcomers to the city. Culture shock, displacement from community, language, suddenly being a minority group, racism, etc.

  1. Common family & community pratices

    1. Role of elders more formalized and respected

    2. Extended family / kinship networks / adoption across extended family as a norm

    3. Various challenges to preserving culture and language (and differences too – many newcomer communities strong in language and cultural preservation- but 2nd generation often lose their language) (Indigenous people faced purposive eradication)

    4. Gender roles; including the extent of equality of genders in various societies

TRC Recommendations related to Newcomers:

Recommendation 93: We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and history of residential schools.

Commentary: What the Canadian Citizenship guide currently says about Indigenous peoples is very limited and provides singular and militaristic view of Canada. One option of what the guide could say instead taken from http://peoplescitguide.ca/wp-content/uploads/guide_en.pdf:

Aboriginal Peoples “For many First Nations, the nation-state of Canada is an imposition, and often an unwelcome one. Indigenous people have lived in the territories now called Canada for tens of thousands of years. Since the Canadian state has existed, it has been at best ambivalent and at worst explicitly hostile to First Nations, determined to challenge Indigenous peoples and their claims to the land and its resources. Canada is built on First Nations land and its wealth is derived from the resources contained within it. First Nations never surrendered these lands or these resources. In fact they do not feel they own the land to surrender it. Through treaties they agreed to share the land. The reserves that were laid out to keep First Nations contained so that they would not disrupt this exploitation are hopelessly small, fragments of those traditional territories that sustained the people. The Canadian state defined them as “Indians” and enacted laws that governed choices of marriage, where they could live, prohibiting from them the right to own land, to vote and to enter the professions.

Recommendation 94: We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen

Commentary: There is controversy regarding the oath as it is as it hearkens to our colonial roots which are not relevant to today’s Canada for many. This change would ensure that Treaty Rights area included in the Citizenship Oath.

Possible discussion questions or topics for consideration:

  • What are some of the common strengths/values/practices that Indigenous peoples and new Canadians share?
  • What are some of the common obstacles/barriers/struggles that Indigenous peoples and new Canadians share?
  • How do we build awareness of Indigenous and newcomer realities and make sure we learn from the past?
  • How can Indigenous peoples and new Canadians be allies and support one another?
  • How do we move beyond the ‘one off’ events and meetings (short term activities) toward the development of long-term, sustainable and meaningful relationships between Indigenous peoples and new Canadians?
  • Who should take the lead?
  • What is the balance between promoting multiculturalism and nationalism (e.g., pride in being Canadian) with the parallel acknowledgement of the oppression of First Nations, the diminishing of their unique and special status under rubric of “multiculturalism.”?

  • How do we reconcile our vision of Canada – as progressive, safe, etc. while many of our Indigenous communities are struggling with poverty, lack of access to clean water, displacement due to development and a legacy of colonization (ie: over-represented in the child welfare and justice systems)?

  1. Sharing Circle.
  1. Determination of the theme for the next meeting and the reader.
  1. Resources:

7. Closing common to all gatherings

Reserve 107 – The Film

RESERVE 107

“This Video is a valuable resource that gives me great hope as I hold it up beside the recent statements of the Federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs. We are living in days of great potential for moving into the spirit and intent of Treaties. The Young Chippewayan Band and the peoples of Laird, Saskatchewan have modeled a trail of respect for us as we journey to renewed convenants.” – Stan McKay, Fisher River Cree Nation, Manitoba
reserve107thefilm.com

Gathering Theme: Dispelling the Myths About Indigenous People

Gathering Theme

Dispelling the Myths About Indigenous People

Opening common to all gatherings

Presentation of the theme

(The majority of this document comes from a publication  “Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative,” Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1998, with updates from Statistics Canada. The publication is very consistent with other similar documents, such as the 2012 publication by TD Bank called “Debunking 10 myths surrounding Canada’s Aboriginal population.”)

Many misconceptions about Aboriginal peoples in Canada are based on stereotyping and lack of information. These misconceptions have serious consequences and are often at the root of racism and discrimination that Aboriginal peoples continue to experience today. For employers, ongoing misconceptions about Aboriginal peoples can adversely impact the effectiveness of their Aboriginal workforce participation initiatives.

Dispelling the myths is one step towards building relationships based on mutual respect and trust. Here are 10 common myths about Aboriginal peoples, along with factual information that will help to dispel them.

  1. MYTH: All Aboriginal peoples are the same.

The Facts:

  • The Aboriginal population is very diverse:
  • The Aboriginal population is composed of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples – each with a different history, culture and society.
  • Over 50 Aboriginal languages are spoken in Canada today.
  • Aboriginal peoples live in many different parts of Canada -in geographically diverse locations such as urban centres, rural communities and remote locations. As of 2016, half of Status Indians live in urban areas.

 

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples have always had the same rights as others in Canada.

The Facts:

  • Only recently have Aboriginal peoples begun to obtain the same rights as other people in Canada:
  • Registered First Nations peoples obtained the right to vote in 1960.
  • In light of the 1973 Calder case and the 1997 Delgamuukw case, Aboriginal title equals communal ownership of land (excluding individual ownership). Throughout history, Aboriginal peoples were denied certain rights afforded other people in Canada:
  • In 1880, an amendment to the Indian Act provided for automatic enfranchisement (loss of status) of any Indian who earned a university degree or any Indian woman who married a non-Indian or an unregistered Indian. Enfranchisement was not officially repealed until 1985.
  • In 1884, an amendment to the Indian Act instituted prison sentences for anyone participating in potlatch, tawartawa dance and other rituals (traditional Aboriginal ceremonies).

 

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples are responsible for their current situation.

The Facts: Many factors have contributed to the situation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada:

  • Prior to European contact, Aboriginal societies were strong and self-sufficient.
  • While Aboriginal peoples were never conquered, the process of colonization resulted in loss of control.
  • Policies of displacement and assimilation (e.g., residential schools and banning of potlatch) deprived Aboriginal peoples of their traditional, social, economic and political powers.
  • Aboriginal peoples are now re-establishing control through a process of healing, negotiation and partnership.

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples have a lot of money.

The Facts: Aboriginal individuals have lower incomes and higher dependency rates than others in Canada:

  • In 2006, the median income for Aboriginal peoples was $18,962—30% lower than the $27,097 median income for the rest of Canadians. The difference of $8,135 that existed in 2006, however, was marginally smaller than the difference of $9,045 in 2001 or $9,428 in 1996. While income disparity between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canadians narrowed slightly between 1996 and 2006, at this rate it would take 63 years for the gap to be erased.
  • Although Aboriginal incomes rise with increased education, even highly educated Aboriginal people still face a considerable income gap relative to non-Aboriginal people.
  • Land claim monies foster community economic growth on a long-term basis, however their impact on individual income is minimal. Given the size of the difference between Aboriginal average income and national average income, it will take a long time to eliminate this

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples have everything paid for; they don’t have to pay for their housing, education or medical expenses.

The Facts: Certain services are paid for. What these are, and who they are for, is defined by statute or agreement:

  • Registered First Nations peoples have certain services paid for. These are part of the federal government’s statutory obligations as outlined in the Indian Act.
  • When a registered First Nations person leaves the community, access to these rights are limited. And as the federal government cuts spending, items admissible under these statutory obligations also diminish.
  • The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, now called Indigenous and Northern Affairs, provides certain services to the Inuit through its Indian and Inuit programs. The department funds services for these communities that Canadians receive from their provincial or municipal governments. These services include education, social services and community infrastructure.
  • Although until recently the federal government recognized no statutory obligation to Métis people, it provided core funding to Métis representative organizations to advocate and negotiate, with federal and provincial governments, programs and policies that affect its membership (i.e., socio-economic status, health and cultural identity). Some Métis groups also have agreements with provincial governments to provide services (nature of agreements and services vary). In Daniels v. Canada (2016), the Supreme Court of Canada declared that Métis (and non-status Indians) must be considered “Indians” in section 91(24) of the Constitution and thereby fall under federal jurisdiction. These cases did not include remedial action but they open the doors for Métis rights and land claims.
  • Outside of the items defined by statute and agreement, Aboriginal peoples pay their own expenses.

 

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples do not pay taxes.

The Facts: Tax exemption occurs only in confined cases. Aboriginal peoples pay significant  amounts of tax every year:

  • Inuit and Métis people always pay taxes.
  • First Nations peoples without status, and registered First Nations peoples living off-reserve, pay taxes like the rest of the country.
  • Registered First Nations peoples working off-reserve pay income tax, regardless of where they reside (even on-reserve).
  • Administrative costs incurred by registered First Nations peoples claiming tax exemption for off-reserve purchases under $500 discourage requests for reimbursement. In these cases, most registered First Nations peoples opt to pay the sales tax.
  • Registered First Nations peoples are sometimes exempted from paying taxes. Tax exemption is part of the federal government’s statutory obligation as outlined in the Indian Act.

 

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples cannot interface with, or adapt to, life in the mainstream.

The Facts: Aboriginal peoples have extensive and effective relationships with the rest of   Canadian society:

  • Aboriginal peoples attend, and graduate from, a wide range of colleges and universities.
  • Aboriginal peoples work in all parts of the economy – many in large mainstream industries like mining, forestry, banking, construction, etc.
  • Aboriginal businesses form joint ventures (and other business arrangements) with non-Aboriginal businesses.
  • Of all self-employed Aboriginal people in Canada, women make up 37% and even 51% of Aboriginal small– and medium-sized enterprises are owned in whole or in part by Aboriginal women;

 

  1. MYTH: Aboriginal peoples do not have a good work ethic; they have high rates of turnover and absenteeism.

The Facts: Aboriginal peoples are skilled, productive and reliable employees who are valued by their employers:

  • Aboriginal peoples participate extensively in work-oriented education and training programs.
  • Aboriginal peoples work in all parts of the economy and in many different occupations.
  • Aboriginal peoples are valued as stable, reliable employees who contribute in many ways to corporate performance.
  • Flexible work arrangements may be established to allow Aboriginal peoples to pursue their traditional ways, the timing of which differs from statutory holidays.

 

  1. MYTH: There are no qualified Aboriginal peoples to hire.

The Facts: Aboriginal peoples have the education, skills and expertise required for jobs in all economic sectors:

  • Almost one-half (48.4%) of Aboriginal people had a postsecondary qualification in 2011, including 14.4% with a trades certificate, 20.6% with a college diploma, 3.5% with a university certificate or diploma below the bachelor level,and 9.8% with a university degree. (In comparison, almost two-thirds (64.7%) of the non-Aboriginal population aged 25 to 64 had a postsecondary qualification in 2011.)
  • Aboriginal peoples work in many occupations. They are obtaining qualifications and experience in business/ finance/administration, management, social sciences/ education, natural and applied sciences, and health.
  • Many services are available to help employers find qualified Aboriginal employees.

 

  1. MYTH: Hiring Aboriginal peoples is a form of reverse discrimination.

The Facts: Hiring Aboriginal peoples is part of a strategy to develop a representative workforce:

  • A representative workforce strategy means that all groups are represented – those who are part of the majority population as well as those who are in minorities—reflecting the make-up of the country or of the population surrounding work areas.
  • Measures to increase Aboriginal workforce participation are not designed to favour one group over another. They are designed to increase access to employment vacancies and promote equitable opportunity for all groups.
  • Provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (as well as provincial and territorial statutes) permit employers to take special measures to achieve the equitable representation of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in the workforce.

Discussion, passing the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings   

Gathering Theme: Entrepreneurship Among Indigenous Peoples

GATHERING THEME
Entrepreneurship Among Indigenous Peoples

Opening common to all gatherings

Presentation of the theme

This theme is based entirely on excerpts from a powerful and very informative book by Shaun Loney with Will Braun, entitled: An Army of Problem Solvers, Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy.  (2016). These quotes are with the permission of the authors.

My introduction to the solutions economy came through my work with several social enterprises. This book arises very directly from those experiences.

I am currently at Aki Energy, which I co-founded, along with Darcy Wood, Kate Taylor and Sam Murdock, in 2013. Based in Winnipeg, Aki serves as something of a social enterprise incubator, offering various supports and services for First Nations wanting to start their own social enterprises. We help with ideas, training, and the various steps required for setting up and operating a social enterprise. In most cases, we do not own the businesses – we just support and facilitate them. Our chief executive officer is Darcy Wood, the former chief of the Garden Hill First Nation.

In our first three years, Aki and our partners have installed $6 million of energy efficient geothermal energy systems in 350 homes on four First Nations in Manitoba. Each venture is a non-profit social enterprise with local employees doing the actual work. Eight crews of trained workers have already installed 213 kilometres of piping loop for geothermal systems that will cut utility bills by $15 million over the next 20 years. Peguis First Nation and the Fisher River Cree Nation have their own geothermal installation operations – the two largest in western Canada. Not only is this work paid for out of the utility bill reductions, it also creates sustainable, local employment. We intend to install $100 million worth of geothermal energy in the next decade in Manitoba alone.

Prior to Aki, in 2006, I was on the team that co-founded BUILD (Building Urban Industries for Local Employment), a Winnipeg social enterprise that trains mostly people who have been in prison to do energy-saving and water-saving retrofits where low-income families live.

It was my introduction into the world of social enterprise, and I am very proud to say that we were awarded Scotia Bank’s EcoLiving Green Business of the Year in 2011, Manitoba Apprenticeship’s Employer of the Year in 2013, and recipient of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit Award in 2016.

 

MEECHIM

In 2014 my co-workers and I at Aki Energy began discussions with the Garden Hill First Nation about setting up a community-based healthy food venture. Out of our talks, Meechim Inc. arose. Meechim is an Oji-Cree word for food. Meechim now runs both a healthy food market and a commercial-sized farm. Meechim is a registered non-profit corporation with a board selected by the community in addition to one member appointed by Chief and Council.

We had asked the First Nation to clear some land thinking a few acres would suffice to get us going. We were amazed to see that they cleared 5.3 hectares (13 acres), similar in size to a large urban shopping mall. It will take some time for the  venture to be profitable and to plant the whole area but in year one a fruit orchard was planted, a range of vegetables were  grown (potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, and squash), and fencing was erected for 1,000 broiler chickens, laying hens,  and turkeys. In 2015, Meechim’s first year of operation, ten people were employed for the growing season.

The Meechim healthy food market – another branch of the venture – sells fruit, veggies, meat, healthy cooked meals, and locally caught fish. The market is held at the local TV station with live Oji Cree language broadcast of what is available.  It may be the world’s only healthy food shopping channel. Some of the healthy food sold is from the Meechim farm while some is shipped in and sold at rates lower than the Northern Store.

Meechim is also selling healthy food out of the canteen at the arena. It offers fruit, veggies, and Garden Hill chicken soup in place of standard canteen fare. With the help of an innovative foundation called Canadian Feed the Children, we are also working with five classes from the local school. As part of the curriculum, students are gardening and taking the produce home to their families.

I wouldn’t want to leave the impression that all this is easy. Changing the status quo can offer its challenges, and we are all learning along the way. But we began to see the benefits immediately.

‘The goals of Meechim are to improve health in the community,   provide employment, and displace many flown-in foods that can be farmed locally. Of course it is also increases overall community capacity to start other economic ventures.

Again, this is not a government program or a charitable endeavour. It is a business. But it is related to government policy, and governments can create conditions that facilitate the re-emergence of the local economy. This is key. A good idea is not enough if government policies get in the way. The problem solvers and the problems must be connected.

What factors influence diet in a place like Garden Hill? Country foods – a common term for foods hunted, fished, or gathered in the wild – were of course the basis of Indigenous diets not that long ago. They still form a small part of the diet in many places, such as Garden Hill, but have largely been replaced by modern grocery store offerings. How has this happened? How did the traditional food system and economy give way to modern dependence on grocery supply? The answer is not simple, but let’s start by going back to the question of why there are no gardens in a place called Garden Hill (and before long we will return to the economics of diabetes).

Like the Indigenous population in general, Garden Hill has been beat up by a string of government policies and practices.  Treaty 5, which Indigenous signatories understood to be a commitment to live together in a good way, was treated by the Crown as a way to get Indigenous people out of the way of white colonial expansion. The Indian Act placed restrictions on cultural practices and commerce, treating Indigenous people in a highly paternalistic fashion.

According to article 32 (1) of the Indian act:

A transaction of any kind whereby a band, or a member thereof’ purports to sell, barter, exchange, give or otherwise dispose of cattle, or other animals, grain or hay, where wild or cultivate, or root crops or plants or their products from a reserve.., to a person other than a member of that band, is void unless the superintendent approves the transaction in writing.

Stan McKay told me that his parents sold one of their five cows so Stan would have some pocket money when he was away. But this was done only with permission of the Indian Agent and at a cut-rate price. They had to go through him because it was illegal for Indigenous people to sell anything off-reserve without the permission of the Great White  Mother’s agent. While not enforced in recent years, this restriction was only repealed in 2014.

The Indian Act is only one example of a government policy that inhibits Indigenous people from solving economic problems. There are many others. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) funds new-home construction on First Nations. Their policy is generally to keep the upfront costs to a minimum, and extras are not usually allowed. For example a new home can be hooked up to geothermal technology for an additional $5,000 (installation in a new home is cheaper than retrofitting an existing home), a move that would cut energy bills by about $1,800 a year. But CMHC won’t allow it because they see the $5,000 as a cost rather than an investment. They can’t afford to save money.

There is a way forward. The term “solutions economy’ or “solutions sector” as it is sometimes called, is somewhat general and flexible. Different people define it in different ways. My own definition will come most clearly through the numerous concrete examples I provide in this book, but I’ll offer a more concise definition here as well. The solutions economy is essentially about solving social and environmental problems by using market forces.

Within the solutions economy, challenges like climate change, high incarceration and re-incarceration rates, persistent poverty, and ballooning healthcare costs are addressed not by demanding more government spending, offering charity, or expecting free enterprise to solve all ills. It seeks out transformative, common-sense, real-world solutions from outside the box – or, as the Elders tell me, “from inside the circle.”

The solutions economy criss-crosses the ideological spectrum, at times confounding both sides, more often winning them both over. It seeks collaboration, not polarization of sides. It is not an ideology, which is to say it is not about arguing that one economic school of thought is superior or that one political philosophy is the answer. It is not about being right in some abstract, theoretical way. It is about innovative, on-the-ground solutions.

——

First Nations reconciliation has to include rebuilding local economies. In this excerpt we have included only a few examples. Shaun Loney”s book  describes many more of these successes.

Discussion: Passing of the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings

 

Gathering Theme: Métis People of Canada

Author: Dr. Chantal Fiola

GATHERING THEME

Métis People of Canada

Introduction common to all gatherings

Métis Origins

The Métis are a post-contact Indigenous people whose birth is tied to the fur trade. Despite the French term, Métis which means “mixed,” being Métis is more than biology and ancestry. Being Métis means sharing a specific geography, history, culture, and nationhood.

European explorers traded metal pots, tools, weapons, and beads for furs with Indigenous peoples who had been living on Turtle Island (North America) since time immemorial. As the fur trade expanded, the settlers moved further inland and intermarriages became common particularly among French settlers who were officially encouraged by the North West Company (NWC) to marry Indigenous women and foster relationships with Indigenous communities (especially Anishinaabe/Ojibwe and Nêhiyaw/Cree). (British settlers also intermarried but the Hudson’s Bay Company officially discouraged this; their children were encouraged to assimilate into British culture.) Children from such intermarriages grew in numbers in the Great Lakes region; some scholars call them “proto-metis” to distinguish from the Métis who would emerge as a distinct people further inland.

Métis Culture and Nationhood

Nêhiyaw, Nakota (Assiniboine), and Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) lived in what would become Manitoba long before communities formed from intermarriages (above) arose there ‒ especially where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers converge (now called “The Forks” in Winnipeg). Later, in 1812, the first group of settlers arrived to establish the Red River Colony ‒ a colonizing project initiated by Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk.

These communities had begun to think of themselves as a distinct people – different from their Indigenous and European parent cultures but Indigenous nonetheless.  Blending aspects from their parent cultures and expressing them in unique ways, they birthed a distinct culture. The Métis were a Plains bison culture with bison hunt governance like the Nêhiyaw. They spoke Michif (Cree/Ojibwe verbs, French nouns) and Bungi (Cree/Ojibwe, Gaelic English). They became known for Red River carts, floral beadwork, their combination of Indigenous and European style clothing (including the sash/ceinture fléchée), fiddle and jig music, and their entrepreneurial spirit.

The Métis helped the Selkirk Settlers survive their first winters and avoid starvation by gifting them bison meat. Despite this, their governor, Miles Macdonell, issued the Pemmican Proclamation (1814) forbidding export of bison products (including pemmican/bison jerky, a key food source that Métis became known for producing) from the colony for a year. The Métis disregarded this foreign attempt to interfere with their livelihood and tensions between the two groups continued until they erupted into the Battle of Seven Oaks (1816) – a decisive Métis victory. The Métis carried their infinity flag into this battle and their victory song would become their national anthem. Others began recognizing the Métis as a distinct people.

The Métis were establishing their nation: they had a distinct land base, languages, attire, flag, national anthem, food, victory in battle, and were resisting foreign threats to their self-determination.

Confederation of Manitoba

Another step in solidifying Métis nationhood was the political organizing triggered by the HBC’s sale of Rupert’s Land to the Dominion of Canada in 1869. Canada sent surveyors to divide the Red River region into plots to be sold to white farmers. Fearing this influx of white settlers and the theft of their land, the Métis (who had not been consulted) created political organizations seeking protection for their lands and rights. This resistance came to be known as the Red River Resistance. Louis Riel Jr. became president of the Provisional Government which drafted a Bill of Rights and successfully negotiated with Ottawa for the confederation of the Province of Manitoba. Sections 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act (1870) safeguarded Métis land (and protected established white farmers in the region); the former reserved 1.4 million acres for the Métis in the province. The Métis had legally secured rights to a land base, the homeland of the Métis Nation, and protected the future of their people.

However, after the Act was passed, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sent the Red River Expeditionary Forces, a military group led by Colonel Wolseley, to Red River to ensure a peaceful transition from the Provisional Government to a Provincial Government. Instead, they beat Métis men, raped Métis women, prevented participation in our first election, and murdered a few Métis people. This continued with Colonel Wolseley’s and Macdonald’s knowledge for two years before they were stopped. By this time, the damage was done and many Métis had fled the province.

Dispossession and Resistance

Many Métis also left Manitoba due to the corruption of the scrip system – the lottery system that was supposed to distribute the 1.4 million acres promised to the Métis. Significant delays, mismanagement, and fraud meant that most Métis lost their land; many sold for a fraction of its worth because they saw the corruption of the system and the settlers being given land reserved for the Métis. White land speculators and bankers became known as “scrip millionaires,” while Métis became landless and increasingly destitute with few options given the dwindling bison.

Macdonald bribed Riel to leave Canada under voluntary exile after the Manitoba Act was passed. English Canada hated Riel for allowing the execution of one of their own, Thomas Scott, during the Red River Resistance. Hoping to avoid persecution for his people, Riel accepted the money and shared it with his family.

Many dispossessed Métis moved to places like St. Laurent and Batoche (in what would become Saskatchewan) hoping to re-establish a Métis homeland and continue their way of life. With increasing numbers of white settlers arriving in the region, the Métis would again politically organize themselves in the hopes of negotiating with the government of Canada and securing their rights. Local Métis leader, Gabriel Dumont, persuaded Riel to return to Canada to help. The railroad had been built up to this region and soldiers were sent to prevent the Métis from confederating another province. The series of battles that ensued came to be known as the Northwest Resistance (1885). The only decisive victory for Canada was the final battle, the Battle of Batoche. The fallout would nearly destroy the Métis Nation.

Forgotten Years, Forgotten People

Again, the Métis were punished for trying to secure their rights; the dark period of oppression that followed came to be known as the “Forgotten Years.” Riel was hung, as were eight Nêhiyaw warriors, and influential Plains Chiefs Big Bear and Poundmaker were imprisoned and died as a result. The Métis were leaderless, landless, and destitute and the bison had nearly become extinct. There was an increase in racism and it became dangerous to be Métis; many Métis fled the region and hid their Indigenous identity, trying to pass as white to escape oppression. Métis became known as the Road Allowance People because the only place left for us to live was on Crown land designated for future roads, the railway, buildings. Every time the construction crew came, the Métis had to move their tents; cohesion as a community became nearly impossible. Many Métis were just trying to survive; during this time, Métis identity went underground and it was difficult to pass on language, culture, and traditions.

Ottawa also punished any First Nations they suspected had helped the Métis during the resistance by cutting their rations even though many were already starving due to broken treaty promises. There was an increase in North-West Mounted Police and Indian Agents enforcing amendments to the Indian Act which banned ceremonies and restricted status Indians to their reserves via the pass system. It was also in the years after 1885 that the residential and day school system would indoctrinate thousands of Indigenous children further separating us from our cultures.

Re-Birth, Rights, and Self-Determination

With the efforts of Indigenous veterans demanding better treatment, First Nations in BC demanding treaties, and the American Indian Movement highlighting these and other issues, the re-birth of Indigenous political organizing and cultural pride was in full swing by the 1960s. Métis provincial and national organizations arose demanding Canada recognize the Métis as Indigenous people with rights. With the help of Harry Daniels and others, this happened in 1982 when the Constitution was repatriated and section 35 identified the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit with Aboriginal and treaty rights that must be honoured.

Recent court victories are bringing hope to the Métis Nation. In 2003, in Powley v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized section 35 hunting rights in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. In MMF v. Canada (2013), the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the federal government failed in its constitutional duty when distributing the 1.4 million acres promised to the Métis in the Manitoba Act. In Daniels v. Canada (2016), the Supreme Court of Canada declared that Métis (and non-status Indians) must be considered “Indians” in section 91(24) of the Constitution and thereby fall under federal jurisdiction. These cases did not include remedial action but they open the doors for Métis rights and land claims.

Today, the Métis Nation is strong and working tirelessly toward self-determination to ensure a good future for our people.

Métis People of Canada – References

Augustus, Camie. 2008. “Métis Scrip.” Our Legacy. University of Saskatchewan Archives. Accessed April 4, 2012.
http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/exhibit_scrip.

Barkwell, Lawrence, Leah Dorion, and Darren Prefontaine, eds. 2001. Métis Legacy: A Métis Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications.

Barkwell, Lawrence, Leah Dorion, and Audreen Hourie, eds. 2006. Métis Legacy II: Michif Culture, Heritage and Folkways. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications.

Chartrand, Paul, and John Giokas. 2002. Who Are the Métis? A Review of the Law and Policy. In Who Are Canadas Aboriginal Peoples? Recognition, Definition, and Jurisdiction, edited by Paul Chartrand, 268-304. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.

Daniels v. Canada. 2013. Federal Court (decision). January 8. Accessed April 9, 2013. http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Daniels-Decision-January-2013.pdf

Fiola, Chantal. 2015. Métis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Milne, Brad. 1995. “The Historiography of Métis Land Dispersal, 1870-1890.” Manitoba History, no. 30: 30-41.

MMF (Manitoba Métis Federation) v Canada (Attorney General). 2013. Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed April 18, 2013. http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/12888/index.do.

Murray, Jeffrey S. 1993. Métis Scrip Records – Foundation for a New Beginning. The Archivist 20(1): 12-14.

Peterson, Jacqueline, and Jennifer S. H. Brown, eds. 1985. The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Discussion; passing the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings