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

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

- 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   

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:

"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
Rainy River
Ojibways of Onigaming
Seine River
Grassy Narrows
Wauzhushk Onigum Nation
Shoal Lake No.40
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.