Monument Honouring Chief Tessouat, Algonquin Chief from the Kichi Zibi Anishinabeg, Unveiled at the Canadian Museum of History
09/11/2017

​A unique Indigenous ceremony that included educational elements and joyful celebration was held today on the grounds of the Canadian Museum of History. Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism), on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, joined Mark O'Neill, President and CEO of the Museum; Norm Odjick, Director General, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council; and Grand Chief Verna Polson, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation, to unveil the Monument to the Algonquin Chief Tessouat, an eight-foot bronze statue.

This memorial marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Chief Tessouat, the Algonquin chief who controlled trade and commerce up and down the Ottawa River—Kichi Zibi—in the early 1600s. The placement of this statue on the banks of the Ottawa River, adjacent to the Canadian Museum of History with views of Parliament Hill, is highly symbolic of this key figure in Canadian history.

Chief Tessouat's community lived on Morrison Island near what is now Pembroke, Ontario. They controlled traffic and trade in the river by collecting a toll of goods to allow passage. When Samuel de Champlain met the chief in 1603 and again in 1613, he attempted to eliminate the Chief's role as middleman in the fur trade and wanted to negotiate passage further west. Chief Tessouat declined to allow Champlain passage and continued to control the trade along the river with a firm hand, ensuring the Indigenous communities benefitted.

The Monument to the Algonquin Chief Tessouat is a collaboration between the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Museum of History, the National Capital Commission, the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation Tribal Council and sculptor Jérémie Giles.

Verna Polson, Grand Chief, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council said, "November 9, 2017, is a great day and one that is long overdue. It is a day where we all come together to honour an important Anishinabe leader that was nearly left out entirely in the history of our country: the one-eyed Chief Tessouat. This monument of the great Chief, which rests on traditional Algonquin territory, will stand as a reminder to future generations of the importance that Tessouat and all First Nations had in the early formation of Canada."

The Kichi Zibi Anishinabeg are recorded as the first people to occupy the land and tributaries around the Kichi Zibi—Ottawa River. A community was founded on Morrison Island, which sits in the middle of the river near what is now Pembroke, Ontario. Called the Minitig Anishinabeg, or Island People, this group of Anishinabe or Kichi Zibi Anishinabeg took advantage of their strategic location to control traffic and trade in the river by collecting a toll of goods to allow passage through the water-highway.

In the 1590s, a great chief rose among the Kichi Zibi Anishinabeg, Chief Tessouat. Statesman, skilled negotiator, warrior: Chief Tessouat knew the river and understood its value. In 1603, in Tadoussac, Quebec, Chief Tessouat participated in a victory feast with allies Innu and Maliseet after a battle with the Mohawk. This event was witnessed by the newly arrived Samuel de Champlain, who was not familiar with the Anishinabe people or their territory, calling them "Algonquin."

Champlain observed the esteem with which Chief Tessouat was held by his allies and wanted to learn more. He realized Chief Tessouat and his community lived by and navigated a huge waterway that perhaps led into the interior of the country; Champlain even imagined it might be the route to the Orient. However, it would be ten years before he could explore mapping the river further west.

The Anishinabeg continued to control trade along the river. In 1613, Champlain himself travelled to meet with communities along the way—history tells us there were 10 sub-nations of the Algonquin along the river—encouraging them to deal directly with France and cut out the "middleman" (Tessouat), disrupting an arrangement that had been in place for hundreds of years. He finally met Chief Tessouat and the Minitig Anishinabeg on Morrison Island. Chief Tessouat and his warriors were strong, organized and in control, leading Champlain to renew his alliance with the Chief.

Champlain asked for permission to pass the island and travel further inland; he wanted to make contact with the Wendat nation further to the west. Chief Tessouat, who history reports having only had one eye, nevertheless saw very clearly what the explorer was after: Champlain would cultivate a new alliance that would eliminate the Kichi Zibi Anishinabeg, Chief Tessouat, and his people as middlemen in the fur trade. Chief Tessouat refused Champlain passage.

Exploration further west did eventually continue, but Chief Tessouat established order that protected commerce on the river and tribute that benefitted his people and allies.

—Source: Since Time Immemorial: "Our Story": The Story of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinàbeg by Stephen McGregor

Government of Canada marks Aboriginal Veterans Day
08/11/2017

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O'Regan, Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett today issued the following joint statement to mark Aboriginal Veterans Day:

"Today we honour the First Nations, Inuit and Métis men and women who have served with pride and distinction, and express our thanks to those whose dedication continues in military and peace operations at home and abroad.

This day was first observed in 1994 to honour the contributions and sacrifices that Indigenous peoples have made while serving in uniform. People such as Chief Joe Dreaver, of Mistawasis Cree Band in Saskatchewan, who served in both world wars. After earning the Military Medal, an award for bravery in the field, in the First World War he immediately re-enlisted at the outbreak of the Second World War, leaving his farm and bringing 17 men with him, including three of his sons.

We remember John Shiwak, an Inuit soldier born in Rigolet, Labrador who enlisted in July 1915 and was part of the Newfoundland Regiment. He reached the front in France on 24 July 1916, three weeks after the regiment's devastating losses at Beaumont-Hamel. During the next 15 months of trench warfare, he would impress all as an exceptional scout and marksman. Shiwak's actions in these difficult conditions earned him promotion to lance-corporal in April 1917.

And we remember Henry Louis Norwest, a Métis marksman from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. As one of the most famous Canadian snipers in the First World War, he was recognized for his courage.

Indigenous peoples continue to contribute in today's Canadian Armed Forces. The 5,000 Canadian Rangers, a part of the CAF Reserves working in remote regions, speak 26 different languages and dialects, many Indigenous. Military outreach to Indigenous communities includes summer programs for youth such as Bold Eagle, Raven, Black Bear, and the Junior Rangers; high school co-op programs; and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College of Canada.

When called to serve, Indigenous peoples responded. First Nations, Inuit and Métis continue to risk their lives in service, defending values of peace, freedom, and democracy.

As we move forward in our journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, partnership and cooperation, their sacrifices and accomplishments will continue to be remembered. We encourage all Canadians to join us in honouring Indigenous Veterans today."

Update - National Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare - A Message to the Government of Canada: Comply with CHRT Ruling, Support First Nations Children Now
03/11/2017

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed supporters gathered today on Parliament Hill for the National Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare, calling for immediate action to honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling on First Nations child welfare and Jordan's Principle.

"The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's rulings are simple and clear - First Nations children deserve to be treated fairly," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "Our children deserve the same care and services that are available to other children in this country. Last November, Parliament voted unanimously to provide an immediate injection of $155 million for First Nations child and family services and to immediately implement Jordan's Principle. Those resources represent a down payment on fairness, justice and an opportunity for a brighter future for our children. They should not have to wait any longer."

In February 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal stating the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Government of Canada was flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart said: "Canada's own Human Rights Tribunal found our children are treated unfairly. Knowing that, how can any of us in good conscience allow this to continue? For First Nations, this is part of a long and sad story that goes from the Indian residential schools system to the 60s scoop to today's child welfare system. Our message today is simple: stop taking our children from us, honour the Tribunal ruling, and work with us to give our children hope and opportunity."

In January 2016, the CHRT ruled the federal government had been discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision also stated that Canada failed to fully implement Jordan's Principle, which ensures equitable access to government services for all children in Canada. Since then, the CHRT has issued three compliance orders against the federal government.

The impacts of under-funding on children and families are many, including the staggering statistics that there are more First Nations children in care today than at the height of the residential schools system. Recent census figures show that the First Nations population increased by almost 40 per cent in the last ten years, while more than half the children in foster care (52.2 per cent) 14 years and younger are Indigenous.

The AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the National Day of Action at the AFN 2017 Annual General Assembly held during July 2017 in Regina, SK.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week 2017
02/11/2017

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) announces Indigenous leadership will gather on November 30, 2017 in Ottawa, ON for a Parliamentary Breakfast to launch Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week 2017. It will be followed December 1 – 6, 2017 by events across the country (Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Iqaluit, Toronto, and more) to unite an Indigenous response to HIV and AIDS in a parallel theme to international World AIDS Day: Right to Health.

This series of events across Canada will connect Indigenous organizations, government partners, health care providers, and community leaders as they reflect on what has been achieved and what must still be achieved by testing to "know your status", eliminating stigma and discrimination, and ensuring equitable access.

To end the AIDS epidemic, global efforts are aligned around a 90-90-90 Strategy which sets three measures of progress. On World AIDS Day 2016, the Government of Canada reported Canada's advances on these measures: 80% of HIV-infected people in Canada know their status; 76% of those who know they have HIV are on treatment; and 89% on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

"Indigenous communities hold the knowledge needed to close HIV target gaps, as we continue to be over-represented 2.7 times higher than other Canadians," said Ken Clement, CEO of Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. "Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week is an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples, researchers, and policy makers to share wise and promising practices, learn from each other and build relationships across the country."

Right to Health is attune to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Barriers exist to Indigenous Peoples' Right to Health including stigma, discrimination, and systemic racism. Indigenous communities hold strengths of traditional knowledge, culture, language and connection to land which supports wellbeing and health equity.

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network and its launch day co-hosts, Canadian Global Health All-Parliamentary Caucus HIV TB & Malaria, Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD), and Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association of Canada invite you to participate in Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week as it brings awareness to the different aspects of HIV prevention and key populations such as Indigenous women and youth living with HIV and AIDS.

For Canada-wide schedule or to RSVP, visit: www.aboriginalaidsawareness.com 

First Nations Forum to Address Housing & Infrastructure Crisis
31/10/2017

Experts in housing and infrastructure will gather in Montreal, QC today through Wednesday to collaborate on First Nations-led solutions to the housing and infrastructure crisis facing many First Nations. The Forum provides an opportunity for First Nations leaders and experts to collaborate and discuss ways to tackle this critical area of immediate need and to showcase innovative models and new approaches in housing and infrastructure.

"All children deserve to live in healthy homes and healthy communities," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "The goal of this Forum is to bring First Nations together to determine how to realize First Nations care and control of quality housing and infrastructure, and look at solutions to housing and infrastructure deficits from a First Nations perspective. Safe and reliable housing and infrastructure contributes to the personal, social, cultural and economic well-being of First Nations families and builds stronger communities and a stronger country for all of us."

Census data released by Statistics Canada last week reinforces what First Nations leaders have been saying for many years about the need for investments in housing and infrastructure. One quarter of the First Nations population lives in a home that is in need of major repairs, with 44.2 per cent of them on-reserve. Over-crowding was identified as a major problem with one quarter of First Nations people living in crowded housing, with the on-reserve rate at 36.8 per cent.

"There is a need for a substantial investment in housing and infrastructure to end the crisis and support First Nations goals for care and control over First Nations housing and infrastructure, which is essential for a better future," said National Chief Bellegarde.

AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the Water, Housing and Infrastructure portfolio for AFN, stated: "The status quo for First Nations is not acceptable. We cannot continue to live in third world conditions with communities that do not have proper infrastructure and safe drinking water. Housing needs in First Nations continues to be at crisis levels with the prevalence of mold, lack of housing and overcrowding being a daily challenge. Canada must make the required investments now. These investments will directly benefit First Nations who face significant housing and infrastructure gaps. This is our opportunity to lead this transformative change."

The full Forum agenda is available online: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Housing-Forum-Provisional-Agenda_EN.pdf

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates #CareAndControl.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Offers Condolences on the Passing of Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith
20/10/2017

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today offered his condolences to the family, community and Yukon First Nations on the passing of AFN Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith, Shakuni, who served as AFN representative for the Yukon region since 2012.

"It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the loss of Shakuni – AFN Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "This is a loss to the AFN, the Yukon territory and First Nations across the country. Regional Chief Smith was a dedicated and diligent member of the AFN Executive Committee who ensured the priorities of Yukon First Nations were represented at the national level. Regional Chief Smith was a sharp legal mind and a strong advocate for First Nations rights and First Nations jurisdiction. I will miss his contributions, insight and leadership. My heart goes out to his family and community. We have lost a man who always fought for the goals and interests of his people."

Shakuni, Mike Smith, was instrumental in spearheading the land claim of Yukon First Nations people and was a signatory as Chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Land Claim and Self-Government Agreement. He was a Chair of the Council of Yukon Indians, now the Council of Yukon First Nations. He served two terms as AFN Yukon Regional Chief, where he was a strong advocate for modern Treaties and self-determination, northern strategies and issues, and First Nations citizenship.

DAREarts mourns the loss of Indigenous Artist-Educator, Cathy Elliott
19/10/2017

It is with great sadness that DAREarts announces the sudden passing of Indigenous Program Associate, Cathy Elliott, 60, a Mi'kmaq playwright, composer and visual artist.

Cathy and DAREarts first connected 10 years ago, shortly after DAREarts was invited by the northern, remote community of Webequie First Nation to bring its multi-arts and values programs to engage their young people in healthy activities.

People hid their native roots in the 60s. Yet, when asked by DAREarts Founder, Marilyn Field to use her talents as an artist, playwright, musician and actor to help empower Indigenous kids in remote communities, and to bring Indigenous culture to kids of all cultures, Cathy embraced the challenge as her journey, and she never looked back.

Here Cathy found her own Indigenous roots and reached beyond her talents to help educate. As Marilyn Field explains, "From our very first sharing circle with the youths in Webequie FN, Cathy naturally embraced the DAREarts way of learning together from each other." That included the making of a documentary film called Fill My Hollow Bones which followed the first three years of DAREarts in Webequie, and was created in large part by the youths themselves. It is still being shown across the country as encouragement to young people.

Cathy subsequently participated on DAREarts' team in other communities who invited DAREarts to work with their young people, most notably Marten Falls (Ogoki Post) FN, Attawapiskat FN, Sipekne'katik FN and Tuktoyaktuk. Over the years, thousands of kids, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, found their voice and an inspired appreciation for Indigenous culture by creating songs, videos, puppets, plays and artwork with Cathy.

Last year, Cathy returned to focusing on writing and performing plays and musicals across Canada. She quickly became an effective leader in communicating our country's traditional Indigenous culture.

She leaves behind her massive creative work, both professional and with youths, to help carry on the conversations that will strengthen us as a country with values. DAREarts will honour her legacy by continuing to give voice to the young people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, that Cathy inspired to ignite change using the arts.

About DAREarts:

DAREarts is a 21-year-old Canadian charity that works with 9-19 year olds from underserved communities across Canada, using the arts to empower them to be leaders. The children paint, sculpt, sing, dance, compose, design, write, act and create, mentored by arts professionals and the DAREarts guiding principles of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence, alongside traditional cultural values. Visit www.darearts.com


New Funding: Reintegration Support and Incarceration Alternatives for Indigenous Offenders
16/10/2017

 To help reverse the trend of Indigenous over-representation in Canada's criminal justice system, and to help previously incarcerated Indigenous Peoples heal, rehabilitate and find good jobs, the Government of Canada is investing $10 million over five years for the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI). These investments will support approaches to community safety that are responsive to the concerns, priorities and unique circumstances of Indigenous communities.

A call for proposals was launched last week for community-based and culturally relevant projects, with a focus on alternatives to incarceration and on reintegration supports. Eligible projects could include counselling, treatment for addictions, mental health treatment, job training, literacy, and skills development.

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said, "Indigenous offenders continue to be disproportionately represented at all levels of the criminal justice system. As part of a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people, the Government of Canada is committed to addressing gaps in services to Indigenous people throughout the criminal justice system. I encourage Indigenous communities, organizations, governments and the academic sector to submit proposals that will help Indigenous offenders better reintegrate."

Budget 2017 allocated $65.2 million over five years to address the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice and corrections systems. Part of that investment includes $10 million over the next five years for the Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative.

Recipients eligible for funding are: Indigenous not-for-profit organizations (on and off-reserve, First Nation, non-status Indian, Métis, Inuit and urban); Indigenous governments and/or municipal governments working in collaboration with Indigenous organizations and/or communities; Indigenous communities; and Canadian universities and colleges.

The national Call for Proposals runs until November 20, 2017 (11:59 pm, EST

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks Sisters in Spirit Vigil by Calling for Immediate Action to Support Indigenous Women and Families
05/10/2017

 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde marked October 4, a day when Sisters in Spirit Vigils are held across the country in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), by calling for immediate action to achieve safety, security and justice for Indigenous women and girls and their families.

"Indigenous women and girls have an equal right to live in a safe and secure environment," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde who is attending a vigil today in Ottawa. "Ending violence against women and girls is a priority every day. The AFN Chiefs in Assembly passed a resolution this summer calling for a reset and change to the mandate and process of the inquiry. We ask that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls take a 'families first' approach in all its work. We are seeking immediate action, support and resources for those affected while the Inquiry continues its important work."

"Today, we honour and lift up our daughters, sisters, aunties, mothers and families. We convey our love and support to the families of missing and murdered First Nations women. I ask that all Canadians stand with us today to support change and reconciliation."

"Indigenous women are 4.5 times more likely to be murdered than another woman," Chair of the AFN Women's Council Grand Chief Denise Stonefish said. "It is important to acknowledge that these women often leave behind family and loved ones. The October 4th annual vigils continue to support the families of Sisters in Spirit and serves as a reminder that the violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls must end. This day honours the lives of MMIWG and remembers our Sisters everywhere."

Sisters in Spirit Vigils, hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women's Association of Canada, takes place internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and facilitates healing for families. In 2006 there were 11 vigils. In 2014 there were 216, and the numbers continue to grow.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Calls for Action in Addressing First Nation Priorities at First Ministers Meeting
01/10/2017

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde called for a First Ministers meeting in 2018 to address First Nations priority issues, saying full participation of First Nations in the labour force and the economy requires recognition that First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction lives alongside the assumed sovereignty of the Crown.

"We have an underutilized workforce with the potential to add billions to the economy," National Chief Bellegarde said. "The only way to unleash that potential is to address the reality of First Nations inherent rights, and to invest in education and skills training, provide access to capital, and necessary infrastructure and services to close the socio-economic gap. In order to achieve full participation in the labour force and the economy we need to advance the dialogue with First Ministers on First Nations jurisdiction and assumed Crown sovereignty."

National Chief Bellegarde addressed Prime Minister Trudeau and the Premiers today at the First Ministers Meeting which focused on the economy.

A National Aboriginal Economic Development Board study estimates that Canada could add $27.7 billion per year to its economy through a properly educated, trained and paid Indigenous workforce. This would have the added benefit of saving $2.2 billion annually in social costs.

At yesterday's meeting, National Chief Bellegarde called on all First Ministers to support holding a First Ministers Meeting on First Nations priority issues in 2018 to discuss:

A National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Dialogue toward a new fiscal relationship, including revenue and resource revenue sharing, and respect for First Nations government taxation powers.
First Nations participation in the transition to a clean energy economy.
"The wealth of this land lies in the traditional territories and ancestral lands of First Nations," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Any development must be sustainable, and respect our rights and responsibilities to our lands. This means respecting Treaty and inherent rights, and the UN Declaration. It means real partnership and engagement throughout all stages of any proposed development."

In 2014, growth in resource development investment was estimated at $650 billion over 10 years. Much of this development would fall within the traditional territories, ancestral lands, and Treaty areas of First Nations. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the road map to reconciliation, including economic reconciliation. First Nations are calling for its full implementation, supported by a national action plan and federal legislation.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Government of Canada congratulates Manitoba Indigenous organizations on First Nation Foot Care Program
21/09/2017

The Government of Canada recognizes that the best health outcomes for Indigenous peoples are achieved when health programs can be designed, developed, and lead by community.

In that spirit, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, today congratulated the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (Nanaandawewigamig) and the First Nations Diabetes Leadership Council in Manitoba for their leadership in developing the First Nation Basic Foot Care Program.

This innovative foot care service will help clients in all 63 Manitoba First Nations communities to maintain their health and lower their risks from diabetes-related foot complications. Patients living with diabetes who have foot ulcers are at risk for hospitalizations, lower extremity infections, and amputations. First Nations populations experience diabetes at a rate more than four times higher than the general Canadian population.

The Government of Canada is pleased to provide $19 million over the next four years to support First Nation-led basic foot care services in all Manitoba First Nations communities. Services will be provided by certified foot care nurses through local Tribal Councils or directly by community health services.

A 2009 report by Manitoba Health on diabetes in the province projected that the rate of amputations amongst Manitoba First Nations people with diabetes would increase dramatically; from 95 in 1995, to 185 in 2005, to 300 in 2015, and to 445 by 2025. Many First Nations communities in Manitoba do not currently have access to basic foot care, an essential element of diabetes programming.

Minister Philpott Congratulates First Nation on the Opening of its New School in Esk'etemc, British Columbia
19/09/2017

Our government is committed to working in genuine partnership with First Nation communities to build school facilities that foster pride and cultural identity while meeting the needs of First Nation students.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, offers her congratulations to Chief Charlene Belleau and Esk'etemc First Nation on the official opening of the community's new Sxoxomic School.

Philpott said, "It gives me great pleasure to share my congratulations and best wishes to Chief Charlene Belleau, and the entire Esk'etemc community on the opening of their new school. This milestone reflects our shared commitment to safe and healthy learning environments as part of a brighter future for First Nation students."

The new facility, which accommodates students from preschool to Grade 7, includes three classrooms, a gymnasium, kitchen, pow wow circle and preschool space. The federal government invested $7.3 million to support construction of the new school, and the BC First Nations Health Authority invested $435,000 for construction of the preschool space.

Belleau stated, "Esk'etemc culture and language in Sxoxomic will continue to be cornerstones for success with Esk'etemc children and our families. We have endured the worst wildfire season on record in British Columbia. Our firefighters and emergency responders were determined and ready to save Sxoxomic and our community. We thank Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, First Nations Health Authority, the architects, construction crew and contractors who have worked hard to support our vision for a place of learning that will be a source of pride and inspiration for our children."

Esk'etemc is located 52 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake in the central interior of British Columbia. The community has a registered population of 994 people.

Inuit have an increased risk of cancer due to high smoking rates, low food security
14/09/2017

- A new report developed jointly by Cancer Care Ontario and Tungasuvvingat Inuit shows that cancer risk factors are significantly more common among Inuit in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada compared to non-Aboriginal Ontarians.

The report, Cancer Risk Factors and Screening Among Inuit in Ontario and Other Canadian Regions, is the first to estimate cancer risk and screening behaviours among Inuit living in and outside Inuit Nunangat (the traditional Inuit homeland including parts of Northern coastal Labrador, Northern Quebec, the territory of Nunavut and the western edge of the Northwest Territories) and in Ontario. Results are presented alongside a historical timeline and medical travel map to highlight the unique challenges Inuit face in securing access to nutritious and affordable food, healthcare services and other basic necessities of life.

"The lack of good-quality and comprehensive Inuit health data has been a significant barrier to better understanding and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, among Inuit," says Jason LeBlanc, Executive Director, Tungasuvvingat Inuit. "Working in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario on this report, we were able to bring together evidence from multiple sources. We look forward to using these data to target health resources appropriately and continue advocating for culturally appropriate policies and programs that will enhance the health and wellbeing of our people."

Key report findings:

There is a high prevalence of smoking and low prevalence of household food security among Inuit compared to non-Aboriginal Ontarians.
Nearly three-quarters of Inuit living in Nunangat (74%) and about one-third of Inuit in Ontario were current smokers (34%) compared to 23% of non-Aboriginal Ontarians.
About two-thirds (67%) of Inuit in Ontario reported living in a food-secure household (one where residents have the financial resources to access nutritious food), which is significantly less than non-Aboriginal respondents in Ontario (94%).
A higher proportion of Inuit living in Nunangat were overdue for colorectal cancer screening (72% of men, 66% of women) than non-Aboriginal Ontarians (43% of men, 41% of women).

Generally, the pattern of cancer risk for Inuit living in Ontario was similar to Inuit living outside Inuit Nunangat more broadly, with a higher proportion of current smoking overall and a lower prevalence of food-secure households than the non-Aboriginal population.

More Inuit-specific health data are needed for tracking and monitoring cancer disease rates and outcomes, improving the understanding of key health determinants, and assessing the impacts of interventions designed to reduce risk and disease rates in the growing Inuit population outside Inuit Nunangat.
"We know that behaviours such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and a healthy diet can impact an individual's risk of developing cancer, but until recently, very little research has been done on the prevalence of these behaviours among Inuit in southern Canada," says Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario. "The data in this report provide a clear picture of the state of Inuit health in this country and show that many Inuit fare poorer across these risk factors than non-Aboriginal Ontarians. Together with Tungasuvvingat Inuit, our hope is that this knowledge will be used to inform culturally appropriate programming to effectively reduce health inequities for Inuit, wherever they live."

Cancer Care Ontario and Tungasuvvingat Inuit collaborated on this report as both groups have a shared interested in improving the health of Inuit communities across Ontario. This work is aligned with Cancer Care Ontario's Aboriginal Cancer Strategy III, which highlights research and surveillance as a strategic priority. It is also in line with Tungasuvvingat Inuit's commitment to establish improved data on Inuit across the country and meet the rapidly growing, complex and evolving needs of Inuit in Ontario.

In addition to gathering evidence on cancer risk factors and screening behaviours, the report also highlights a need for culturally appropriate, system-level interventions to improve the health and well-being of Inuit in all regions of Canada. The path towards healthier communities involves not only taking practical steps towards encouraging healthy behaviours, but also creating environments that support individuals, families and communities in making healthy choices.

In 2016, Cancer Care Ontario released Path to Prevention: Recommendations for Reducing Chronic Disease in First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The report provided the Government of Ontario with 22 recommended policies and interventions to reduce population-level exposure to four key risk factors, build capacity for chronic disease prevention and work towards health equity. Similarly, Tungasuvvingat Inuit released a report in 2005 from the National Urban Inuit One Voice Workshop with 26 recommendations aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of urban Inuit.

A full copy of Cancer Risk Factors and Screening Among Inuit in Ontario and Other Canadian Regions is available at http://cancercare.on.ca/InuitRiskFactors.   

Minister Carolyn Bennett Appoints Three Independent Indigenous Youth Advisors

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the voices of Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast are heard and incorporated into the decision making process.

To that end, Minister Carolyn Bennett has appointed three independent youth advisors; Maatalii Okalik, Gabrielle Fayant, and André Bear. Mandated to seek the inclusion of the voices of Inuit, Métis and First Nations youth, the three advisors will gather insight throughout the fall of 2017, and will share their views and solutions on Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 66.

Bennett said, "I am so proud that these three inspiring young leaders have agreed to design and execute a process to seek advice and knowledge from their peers, from coast to coast to coast, ‎in response to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #66. I know they will be asking tough questions, listening, and will provide concrete recommendations on how to build and fund a network of Indigenous youth and ‎community-based youth organizations, that will be able to deliver programs on reconciliation while sharing information, wisdom, and promising practices. André, Maatalii, and Gabrielle are truly impressive advocates and role-models for First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth. Their work will be transformative.

All Indigenous youth are encouraged to participate by giving their feedback through the Indigenous Youth Voices survey online, or follow them on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram, visit their website or contact them for more information. This is an opportunity for youth to start and be part of the conversation. Indigenous Youth Voices also seek Indigenous youth literature which may be in the form of reports, strategies or any published information to support the report.

"As Independent advisors who do not represent the crown and are not representatives of our nations, we are eager to gain direction from First Nation, Inuit and Métis youth and Indigenous organizations to amplify their voices and build a national platform from their vision. We honour those who contributed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and accept the task to table a report and recommendations on how Indigenous youth want Call to Action 66 implemented in their communities," stated Maatalii, Gabrielle & André, Indigenous Youth Voices.

The Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to help Indigenous students succeed at the Kiuna Institution

The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nations to help students succeed.

At Kiuna Institution's fifth graduation ceremony, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced that the institution would receive funding of $650,000 over three years. This contribution will make it possible to hire resources who will help students succeed by providing them with support services. The funding will also make it possible to equip the Institution's cultural space and language centre to provide an environment reflective of the cultural traditions of the various Indigenous nations.

The post-secondary institution located in the Abenaki community of Odanak will receive $190,000 for the 2017–2018 fiscal year, and $230,000 annually for the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 fiscal years. The contributions will benefit Francophone and Anglophone First Nations students.

The $650,000 contribution to be paid to Kiuna Institution by INAC over three years will make it possible to hire two specialized resources who will work closely with the students to help them succeed.

Kiuna Institution is a post-secondary establishment (college) located in the community of Odanak in Québec. It has been offering various programs and services in French and English to students from eight Indigenous nations since August 2011.

Full Weekend Schedule Announced for Celebration of Nations

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts & Consultancy present Celebration of Nations, a gathering of Indigenous arts, culture and tradition in St. Catharines, Ontario from 8–10 September 2017.

Full weekend schedule now available: celebrationofnations.ca

"We're thrilled to partner with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre," said Kakekalanicks president and Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis). "The great Métis leader Louis Riel once said, 'My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.' Through the Celebrations of Nations programming delivered at this state-of-the-art venue, we're doing our best to make that vision come true."

Celebration of Nations will showcase a variety of Indigenous arts and artists, ranging from traditional and contemporary music, dance and visual arts to film screenings, creative workshops, teaching, and hands-on activities for both children and adults. Highlights include:

Headlining performances from Buffy Sainte-Marie, DJ Shub Pow Wow Step Dance Party, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre's Re-Quickening and a special RUMBLE Unity Jam Session (with Kenny Lee Lewis, Derek Miller and more).

The Backyard - a free outdoor space behind the PAC that will feature a Métis Encampment, workshops, Indigenous food and music all weekend long.

FREE Workshop Series that includes opportunities to learn about and create Métis dot art on rocks, a hand-held drum, Unity bracelets and tiny moccasins to be donated locally.

The Film Series – includes Niagara premiere of the Sundance award-winning RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World (2016), Moose River Crossing (2013) by Shirley Cheechoo, FREE screenings of imagineNATIVE Shorts and Gord Downie's The Secret Path, and more.

Awakening her Spirit: Select Works from the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Collection - Never before exhibited original works including: Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Beam, Roy Thomas, Vince Bomberry, Simon Brascoupe, Bruce King, and more. Presented in collaboration with Brock University.

Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis) and Artistic Producer Tim Johnson (Mohawk) have shaped programming for Celebration of Nations, with support of an Advisory Council and PAC programming staff.

"Canada's sesquicentenary and the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission serve as context for our programming," said Tim Johnson (former Associate Director at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian). "We endeavour to pull back the curtain to reveal and commemorate Indigenous contributions to Canada's defence and formation as well as to display the continuity and scope of Indigenous influence upon Canadian society today."

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Meeting with Cultural and Heritage Ministers Must Lead to Action to Protect and Strengthen First Nations Languages

 Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said today that the commitments on First Nations languages made at the National Indigenous Organizations and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Heritage and Culture Ministers Roundtable and Meeting held on August 22, 2017, in Orford, QC must lead to immediate action with First Nations involved as full partners.

"This meeting was important because the federal, provincial and territorial governments all have a role in working with us to protect and strengthen First Nations languages," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "We need to act now because no Indigenous language is safe. Recent studies show that Indigenous people are learning their languages as second languages, so we know our people want to recover their language and identity. Our languages are central to our ceremonies, our culture and our right to self-determination. We need to work together now to build on this momentum and make sure our languages survive and get stronger."

National Chief Bellegarde reminded the Federal Government of its commitment to work with First Nations as full and equal partners in co-developing an Indigenous Language Act, and this requires joint efforts on outreach and engagement, communications, preparing a memorandum to cabinet and joint drafting. As well, sustained long-term investments are needed to produce fluent speakers and use of language on a regular basis, including the operations of First Nations governments and in federal and provincial government services.

National Chief Bellegarde urged the provinces and territories to act immediately and not wait until the federal legislation is in place. He told the representatives at the meeting that First Nations are looking for a respectful and effective process for intergovernmental participation that reflects First Nations status under the Constitution and international law as peoples and nations with inherent rights, title and jurisdiction.

National Chief Bellegarde stated: "We want all governments to support the federal Indigenous Languages legislation as a fundamental part of reconciliation. We all have a role to play in healing the damage from the Indian Residential School system, the Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop and the overall approach of assimilation. There are efforts we can make right now, like training fluent speakers and certifying them as teachers or adopting regulations that provide them a role in the classroom. This is important work that requires our full focus and commitment but we can succeed. I look forward to hearing the next generation of First Nations children speaking their languages and learning them from their Elders."

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Government of Canada and the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 work together to support housing initiatives on reserve
Government of Canada and the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 work together to end long-term drinking water advisories

All Canadians should have access to a safe and healthy home. The Government of Canada is making historic investments toward improving the condition of housing in First Nation communities, reducing overcrowding, and increasing health and safety.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced $16 million to support housing projects for Ontario First Nation communities in the Treaty #3 area. Seventeen First Nations are building new homes, renovating existing ones, creating innovative approaches to on-reserve housing and increasing their capacity to govern their housing portfolio with funding provided in Budget 2016-2017.

Bennett said, "‎Safe and secure housing is the base to ensure better health and mental health outcomes. It's about dignity. Today's announcement is tangible evidence of our commitment to making significant investments in housing to improve the quality of life for all First Nation people living on reserve in Canada."

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada provided $66.2 million in Budget 2016 funding for the construction of approximately 300 new housing units in 55 Ontario First Nation communities.

Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, Grand Chief said, "This support demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to improve housing conditions for the Anishinaabe people in Treaty #3. Many generations of families will benefit from having safe and healthy homes, which will contribute to stronger communities."

Treaty #3's geographical area is over 142,449 square kilometres, spanning from west of Thunder Bay to north of Sioux Lookout, along the international border to the province of Manitoba.
There are 28 First Nation communities within Treaty #3, with a population of approximately 25,000.
The Treaty #3 First Nations receiving funding for housing projects are:
Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing
Couchiching
Nigigoonsiminikaaning
Rainy River
Ojibways of Onigaming
Seine River
Mitaanjigamiing
Ochiichagwe,babigo'ining
Grassy Narrows
Wauzhushk Onigum Nation
Shoal Lake No.40
Wabauskang
Naotkamegwanning
Lac Des Mille Lacs
Lac Seul
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation
Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent Nation

Everyone in Canada should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced $1.2 million in investments through Budget 2016 to support eight water infrastructure projects in eight First Nations in Treaty No. 3 and help ensure that their residents continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Through these investments, the Government of Canada is working with First Nations on sustainable approaches to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021 and to prevent new long-term advisories from happening.

Bennett said, "Today's announcement will ensure that residents from Treaty 3 will be able to turn on their taps and drink clean, safe water. This is an example of what can be achieved when we work in full partnership. We are a proud partner with these First Nations as they improve the quality of life in their communities. This is reconciliation in action."

Budget 2016 provides $1.8 billion over five years to significantly improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation, maintenance, and support training of water system operations, in addition to $141.7 million over five years to improve drinking water monitoring and testing on reserve.

Committing investments over five years allows for long-term planning to improve on-reserve water and wastewater systems.