Two candidates for National Chief position at the Assembly of First Nations

AFN Press Release ...

Candidates for upcoming election for the office of National Chief of Assembly of First Nations

OTTAWA, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Mr. Robert Johnson, the Chief Electoral Officer responsible for the July election for the office of National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations has received nomination papers from the following persons:

  • Mr. Phil Fontaine, a citizen of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba;
  • Mr. Bill Wilson, a citizen of the Cape Mudge First Nation in British Columbia;

According to the AFN Charter an eligible candidate:

  • Must be eighteen (18) years of age or older;
  • is of First Nation ancestry;
  • is a member of First Nation community, in good standing with the AFN; and,
  • 15 eligible electors, First Nations Chiefs, have endorsed his/her candidacy.

The election for the position of National Chief will be held in Vancouver, BC on July 12, 2006 at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Charter states that the first person that gains sixty (60) percent of the votes will be declared winner. There are more than 630 First Nations communities in Canada that are recognized as members of the Assembly of First Nations.

Biographies of the candidates are available. Campaign contacts and phone numbers are:

For Mr. Phil Fontaine:    

Contact name:   Joe Miskokomon
Office number:  519-264-9298
Cell number:    519-318-9503
Fax number:     519-264-1109
Office address: 3211B St. Joseph Blvd., Ottawa, ON, K1C 1T1
Office Tel:     613-830-4549

Other: Marsha Smoke
Tel: 613-761-2010

Media Contact:  Roland Bellerose
Tel:    403-861-6415

For Mr. Bill Wilson:

Contact name:   Chief Bill Wilson        
Tel number:     604-899-4464
Fax number:     604-899-4417        
Office address: Suite 1903, 1666 Pendrell St., Vancouver, BC, V6G 1S9

Other: To be advised
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.


/For further information: Media contacts: Don Kelly, AFN Communications Director, (613) 241-6789 ext. 320 or cell (613) 292-2787; Ian McLeod, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext. 336 or cell (613) 859-4335/

7 Generations rep plans partnerships with KO to deliver apprenticeship programs

Wayne Zimmer, Coordinator of Apprenticeship Programs at Seven Generations Education Institute spent most of Wednesday learning about the Kuhkenah Network. Wayne is working on developing a strategy to link the Aboriginal Post Secondary Consortium to a common platform where programs can shared across the province.

As well, Wayne is interested in seeing the Fort Frances area First Nations connected to a network service that will support video conferencing and other broadband e-learning applications for the effective delivery of apprenticeship programs.

Once these apprenticeship programs and services are available online, other First Nations from anywhere in the province will be able to access these services.

Video conference meetings were also held with Brian Walmark from the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI - and Carl Seibel, Telecom Officer, Industry Canada FedNor.

Wayne's contact information is:

Wayne Zimmer
Coordinator of Apprenticeship Programs
Seven Generations Education Institute
115 Chipman Street, 3rd Floor
Box 1640, Kenora, ON, P9N 3X7
Tel: 807-468-3096
Fax: 807-468-7358

Windspeaker editoral shares positive developments & lessons learned from Six Nations

From Windspeaker Online at

Negligence costs - June, 2006 - Windspeaker Editorial

Forget what you've read in the mainstream papers or have seen on the national news: we're here to tell you there are plenty of good people on both sides of the barricades at Caledonia. A mere handful of knuckleheads are getting most of the attention and, while that may feed the media beast, it does nothing to get to the truth of this critically important matter.

Here's what you need to know: Ten years ago, the elected council of Six Nations asked the federal government for an accounting of its lands and monies held in trust by the Crown. Since then, Canada's departments of Justice and Indian Affairs, under the guidance of the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister's Office, have done everything in their considerable power to avoid providing said accounting.

Ten years ago, Six Nations stated it was not interested in displacing third parties. It acknowledged that Canada could never pay what it owed to the community after a century of plunder and injustice. All it wanted was information, to know what happened to their lands and monies held in trust by their fiduciary-Canada.

How much in lands and money? At the time, Six Nations officials refused to say publicly what they believed to be owed, but Windspeaker's trip to Six Nations in May has revealed that at the time of the statement of claim the figure was $800 billion; yes, that's with a 'b'. Steve Williams, the elected leader at the time, said he has no doubt that number stands today at $1 trillion.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes in accountability. It's one of the five priorities established by the Conservative government for this Parliament. Can Six Nations then expect that under his watch, a voluntary and spontaneous effort at an accounting of Six Nations trusts will occur? If not, why not?

A similar case played out in the United States in a suit called Cobell and has led to charges of contempt against the secretary of the Interior, that country's equivalent to Indian Affairs minister, for obfuscation and delay. But in Canada, nothing. In the U.S. it is generally acknowledged, as a result of the Cobell case, that the U.S government plundered Indian trusts believing it would never be held accountable. Turns out the U.S. might have been wrong, especially if Judge Royce Lambert has his way. Is there no equivalent of Judge Lambert in Canada?

The one thing that had worked against Six Nations in the past was division in the community. What we saw at three separate public meetings at the Six Nations community hall between April 30 and May 3 was that those divisions are still there, but the outrage within the community over the continued frustration of its legitimate attempts to seek justice have united the Big Six like never before.

And that could mean big trouble for Canada. Especially if residents of Caledonia clue in to why this is happening to them.

If enough voters across this country at any time since 1867 had let their elected representatives know that they expected a fair and immediate settlement to all outstanding Aboriginal land issues, the MPs would have got it done. They haven't so far because Canadians haven't bothered to get informed and demand action. That was because of ignorance or because of complicity in the injustice. The good people of Caledonia are now seeing what that kind of negligence costs.
You saw the burning tires and the scenes of Ontario Provincial Police officers struggling with camouflaged "occupiers" at the site of development on the disputed lands of Douglas Creek Estates. You saw angry town residents spewing hatred across the divide between the police line and the edge of the occupation. But what you didn't see could mark the beginning of a sea-change in Canada.

You didn't see the non-Native women at the barricades arguing for cooler heads to prevail when a few townsfolk got out of hand. You didn't see the queries and the questioning from those regular Joes who thirst for information so they can understand the history of the conflict. You didn't see Aboriginal clergy walking amongst the angry Calidonians, their mere presence in their vestments a plea for calm and rational behavior. These are considered non-stories by the media, but they could be at the heart of a new relationship that is developing between thinking non-Aboriginal people and their long-suffering Native neighbors.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation requests nominations for 2006 Keewaywin Awards

From NAN web site at - Posted by:, 5/31/2006

2006 Keewaywin Award Nominations

Each year Nishnawbe Aski Nation bestows the Keewaywin Awards to exceptional individuals from the NAN communities, agencies and organizations for recognition of hard work, achievements and dedication to the people of Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Nominate your choice for the following awards by July 3, 2006:

  • NAN Youth Award
    • Academic
    • Athletic
    • Leadership/ Community Involvement
    • Cultural
    • Youth Council
  • NAN Elder Award
  • NAN Woman Award
  • Emile Nakogee Leadership Award for Outstanding Leadership

Click here for a copy of the Nomination Form (pdf)

The nomination deadline is July 3rd, 2006

For more information please contact Elysia Petrone Reitberger at (807) 623-8228 or toll free at 1-800-465-9952.

KO team partner with doctors and other health care providers to develop PepTalk

A team from Keewaytinook Okimakanak presented how they are working online with Community Based Researchers (CBRs) in KO First Nations to prepare health care information for the new PepTalk online resources.

Kanina Terry and Adam Fiser are working with CBRs in Deer Lake, Fort Severn, Keewaywin, North Spirit Lake and Poplar Hill to gather local health information, resources, organizations and people so the information can populate the online database tools. Community meetings will also provide an opportunity for the CBRs to showcase their work and get feedback from community members about these new health tools and resources. See the pictures from this meeting at

from ...

The Patient Education Prescription project is developing high quality, clinical multimedia learning materials to assist patients learning how to live with chronic disease.

These interactive multimedia learning materials include video, graphics, text, clinical simulations, and self-assessment tools. Online materials are delivered in personalized educational prescriptions, under password protection and in a format that is adaptable for various levels of functional literacy, disability, and multiple languages. In addition, the materials and online delivery mechanism is to be used to enable clinicians to learn about the role of Information Therapy and how patient empowerment through access to appropriate education and tailored resources can lead to better outcomes.

The project provides accessible, relevant and empowering self-management education to patients with various chronic illnesses, including Breast Cancer, Oral Cancer, Stroke/ TIA, Diabetes, Diabetes Care, and general health literacy. Online educational prescriptions can be accessed online within Community Health Care centres, hospital clinics, physicians’ offices, Long Term Care facilities, community pharmacies, in the patient’s home or other healthcare settings.

Our community partners (St Christopher House and the Olive Branch of Hope in Toronto, and Keewaytinook Okimakanak in Ontario’s north) are active participants in creating culturally relevant and appropriate online material in a variety of languages. These “cultural translations” of clinical education material will enable community participants to learn new skills in creating online educational media, and be able to see themselves as active and engaged participants in determining their own health and in fostering better community health overall.

Metis Nation of Ontario partner with KO to develop telehealth services in locals

Three members of the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) team traveled to Sioux Lookout to learn about the Kuhkenah Network. Loma Rowlinson, Alain Lefebvre, Glen Lipinski are visiting MNO locals across northern Ontario to deliver and set up video conferencing equipment for a mental health initiative. 

MNO, working with K-Net and FedNor, is developing their video conferencing and telehealth services in the locals in Dryden, Kenora, Fort Frances, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins. 

See the pictures from the visit at

Land claims at the heart of struggle for justice for First Nations across Canada

Two opinion articles published in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail highlight the importance of addressing First Nation land claims in an effective and concrete manner to avoid further civil disobedience. National Chief Phil Fontaine's opinion article challenges the current government to take these claims seriously.

Opinion 1: From Toronto Star at

Coverage can shape conflicts - Jun. 3, 2006

"Media coverage plays a key role in determining how events are dealt with in a democratic society," writes John Miller in his report about daily newspaper coverage of the 1995 Ipperwash crisis. "Accurate, comprehensive coverage can promote understanding and resolution, just as inaccurate, incomplete and myopic coverage can exacerbate stereotypes and prolong confrontations." Miller is a former deputy managing editor of the Star and a journalism professor at Ryerson University. He wrote this column at the invitation of the Public Editor.

Reporters covering the three-month confrontation in Caledonia have faced at least two difficult challenges — sorting out the facts about a complicated, 200-year-old land claims dispute, and reporting responsibly on several outbursts of stunning, modern-day racism.

Both require paying close attention to context, which is not always a strong point with the news media. Luckily, we seem to have been reasonably well served so far.

I've been watching the coverage unfold with a certain trepidation because of what I found last fall when Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto commissioned me to do a major study, paid for by the Ipperwash Inquiry, of newspaper coverage of the 1995 First Nations confrontation in which Dudley George died.

We know now, thanks to testimony before the inquiry, that the OPP was wrong about many key facts, saying the people occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park were armed (they weren't), that they fired the first shot (they didn't) and there was no First Nations burial site there (there is).

Yet my analysis of 496 news and opinion articles, published in 19 daily newspapers over a two-month period — the month before and after the shooting — showed how badly reporters and editors got it wrong: They failed at their most basic task — to find out what happened on the night of Sept. 6, 1995, when George was shot and they weren't there.

The context of the dispute was forgotten. Ipperwash became less and less a story about a 50-year-old land dispute, and more and more about First Nations "rebel" troublemakers clashing with police.

Reporters relied heavily on interviews with "official" sources — police, outside First Nations leaders and politicians. Very little news coverage was told from the perspective of those occupying the park.

"Warriors" were reported to be in the park, but no reporter ever talked to one or provided reliable evidence they were there.

The police version — that the natives were armed and fired first — was almost always given prominence in news stories, over denials from the other side.

Editorials and columns were mostly unsympathetic to the occupiers. Many fit "frames" associated with racist dialogue — that a Canada-wide Indian revolution was about to break out (moral panic); that authorities are lenient to First Nations lawbreakers (double standard); that mainstream Canadian society is under assault (white victimization).

Calls for an inquiry into the disputed events at Ipperwash were not pursued by the newspapers. The actions of the police and the government of Mike Harris did not come under serious examination until years later, when Peter Edwards, a reporter with the Star, wrote his book One Dead Indian, a reconstruction of events that was published in 2001.

My report concluded that "the news coverage frequently strayed from what are commonly understood to be the core principles of journalism (first obligation to the truth, the discipline of verification, an independent monitor of power)."

Did this contribute to the 10-year delay in calling an inquiry? I think so.

Fast forward to Caledonia.

There have been a few dramatic photos taken of self-styled "warriors" (instead of the Clan Mothers who actually organized the occupation). And there have been a few columns based on inaccurate stereotyping.

But there has also been plenty of good, solid reporting, mainly from the nearest local daily, the Hamilton Spectator.

We learned what happened when police moved in. We understood why people on both sides of the barricades were there. And, when the barricades came down, we knew that it was the work of courageous townspeople, native and non-native, rather than posturing politicians.

When Caledonia's mayor uttered racist remarks on air, reporters were quick to find statements of denunciation from fellow councillors.

Perhaps now someone will go after the really big story — why the federal government seems to have bungled decades of land claims disputes and allowed events like Caledonia to happen.


Opinion 2: From Globe and Mail OPINIONS at

Web-exclusive comment by PHIL FONTAINE - POSTED May 31/06

It is interesting to hear statements by the media and general public that “the law must prevail” in Caledonia, the point being that First Nations citizens are being treated differently than would non-aboriginal protesters.

Let us first acknowledge that First Nations are often treated differently under Canadian law. Canadian law denied us the right to vote until 1960. Canadian law forcibly displaced our traditional governments and laws. Canadian law forbade us from hiring legal counsel to address, for example, improper land transactions and sharp dealings by the Crown that led to situations like that in Caledonia.

Yet, we agree that the law must prevail. But the real legal issue here is not civil disobedience but the legitimate land claims of First Nations.

Land claims are legal matters, lawful obligations. They are not discretionary spending. They are not ancient disputes to be dismissed at the whim of the state.

Unfortunately, the current claims process is painfully slow and inherently unjust. The Auditor-General recently pointed out the obvious: Canada is in a clear conflict of interest in adjudicating claims against itself.

Under the current system, Canada acts as judge, jury and, too often, executioner. Canada decides what is and is not a valid claim. Canada decides what is on the table for negotiations and then negotiates the claim against itself. Canada places the full weight of the Department of Justice against the First Nations.

The result of this inherent bias is a claims process that is agonizingly slow. It takes an average of 10 years for a single specific claim to make its way through the system. Now consider that there are at least 1,100 specific claims before Canada. About 300 of these have been validated, which means they can begin their long, slow march through the system.

Comprehensive land claims are different and, generally, more complex.

Basically, they relate to lands where there was never a treaty or agreement between First Nations and the government. They require more time and research. The recent Auditor-General's report says it takes, on average, 29 years to resolve a comprehensive claim.

Canada's approach to claims is a national failure and an international disgrace. We need a better process to resolve these claims, one that is more effective, fair and efficient.

Fortunately, much of the work on a better process is already complete.

In 1998, a Joint AFN-Federal Task Force on Claims issued a report with recommendations to create a better process, one that is truly independent, faster and more cost-effective. It had the support of First Nations and federal representatives. All that is needed is the political will to institute this process.

The alternative is more frustration, more anger and more conflict. I am being very careful here because this is not a threat, it is a reality.

The unfortunate lesson our people learn from Oka, Ipperwash and Caledonia is that drastic measures get government attention and action.

If the “rule of law” means delay and denial, why would our young people - desperately seeking a better future - listen to those who counsel patience and obedience?

It is in all our interests to establish a new way to resolve claims. Doing so will provide First Nations a solid foundation to build our economies and improve our quality of life, provide government and industry the certainty they need to get on with their business, and provide a climate of hope and optimism for all Canadians.

The law must prevail in Caledonia and across Canada, and that means dealing with the legitimate, lawful claims of First Nations in a manner that is fair and just.

Delivery of health programs and funding needs to flow through First Nations

From Kenora Daily Miner and News at

Health money should flow through First Nations: chief
By Mike Aiken - Kenora Miner and News, June 2, 2006

Shoal Lake 39 Chief John Wapioke would rather see public health money flow through the band council, than the public health unit.

Speaking just days after Northwestern Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Pete Sarsfield spoke out against the gap in services between aboriginal communities and cities, Wapioke agreed with the assessment.

However, he would rather see his own health director allocate the funds.

“He would know best where the needs of the community are,” Wapioke argued.

As he winds up his battle with restaurant owners over smoking, Sarsfield is getting ready for another campaign against the province, the federal government and possibly the city over public health. This would include money for such things as flu shots, health inspections and emergency procedures in the case of a bird flu pandemic.

The chief noted he helped found the Kenora Area Health Access Centre many years ago, so it could help serve the needs of residents. There is also the Kenora Chiefs Advisory Service, along with health policy advisors for both the band and Treaty 3.

Wapioke would also like to see more preventive services within the community, so elders wouldn’t have to live in homes in Kenora where they may feel isolated from their friends and families.

“They don’t seem to live as long,” said Wapioke.

Instead of a pitched battle over jurisdiction, the chief hoped to see partnerships formed so that whatever resources made available may be use most efficiently.

He vividly remembered the day his uncle had a stroke. By chance, the nurse practitioner from the health access centre was visiting, and she helped stabilize the patient. Through a further coincidence, a doctor was also visiting the reserve, and he helped transport him to Kenora for further care.

Together, the medical staff offered an ideal example of how partnerships can work seamlessly together, he noted.

Other players at the reserve level include community health nurses from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada, who work in the same building as the health portfolio staff from the band.

However, with so much demand, space is already being rented in buildings as far away as Longbow Lake, in an effort to ensure proper treatment for residents.

Lieutenant-governor Bartleman raises funds for literacy and library programs

From the The Timmins Daily Press at

Lieutenant-governor visits
Scott Paradis / The Timmins Daily Press, May 31, 2006

The cure for high rates of suicide and depression at remote Aboriginal fly-in communities may be literacy, the Ontario Lt. Governor James Bartleman told a Timmins crowd Tuesday.

Bartleman was making his third official visit to the city as the lieutenant-governor. He made a presentation at the Days Inn Grand Ballroom following the Porcupine United Way's annual general meeting.

Bartleman's remarks highlighted his Aboriginal literacy program -- and he announced the initiative will grow from five literacy camps at First Nation communities to 35, including 27 communities north of Timmins.

"I think there's a link between literacy and self-esteem," he told the crowd. "I spoke to a principal in Attawapiskat and he told me since getting a library, students have been reading 30 per cent more."

The project, called the Club Amick Young Aboriginal Reader's program, will arm youth with new books, library access, literacy coaches, the ability to assemble a community news letter and more -- which Bartleman hopes will boost literacy rates within First Nations.

Although Bartleman didn't have statistics to show depression and suicide rates fell with the increased reading, he said anecdotal evidence came from the five literacy camps held in 2005.

"In the communities where camps were held, there were no suicides," he told local media after his presentation. "In surrounding communities, there were."

While the results from the literacy camp are positive, Bartleman said suicide rates among Aboriginal people are still 10 times higher than the national average.

As for the overall quality of living, Canada ranks in the world's top five. But the United Nation's quality of living list ranks remote First Nation communities in Canada far below that at close to 60 -- near many Third-World nations in Africa, he said.

With the new initiative Bartleman said he hopes to change those statistics for the better in Canada.

The Porcupine United Way jumped on board to support the program, dishing out $1,250 to support five children for five years.

The five year support will provide the selected children with access to used books from a library, new books to own, a literacy coach and other literacy-driven initiatives.

Children involved will also develop a news letter for their community.

"When we first heard about the program we were really excited about the potential," said Shawn Chorney, Porcupine United Way executive director.

The United Way had already allocated most of its programing funds when it heard about the literacy initiative, so the group quickly began searching for resources.

The United Way then received a call from a family wishing to remain anonymous. The family has experienced a recent death and, Chorney said, a last will and testament stated "they had a legacy gift for the United Way."

The United Way told the family about the literacy initiative and the $1,250 was quickly allocated to that program.

The rest of the money donated by the family will go towards other United Way programing.

While the program directly benefits communities north and outside of Timmins, Chorney said the United Way is excited because the results will have an impact locally.

"A lot of people living in Timmins are from those communities," he said. "They have relatives still living there."

He also said building a stronger region will lead to a stronger city. The total cost of the initiative will likely be $150,000, and that money will give the literacy opportunities to about 1,500 children.

Bartleman said he has raised about $40,000 for Club Amick thus far and said if more organizations, including other United Way affiliates, come forward, raising the remaining funds shouldn't be too much of a challenge.

Residential school conference in NWT learn about settlement and healing programs

From CBC North at

Res school healing will take decades, and millions: Erasmus - June 2, 2006 

It will take hundreds of millions of dollars more, on top of the $1.9 billion now set aside for native victims of residential schools, to properly complete the healing process, veteran native leader George Erasmus told an audience in Yellowknife Thursday.

Erasmus, now chair of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, said his foundation won't have enough money to finish the healing process it started, even with the $125 million it expects from the proposed residential school settlement to help fund community programs.

"Our final report suggests that what is required to complete the healing in Canada is an endowment of $600 million, and 30 more years of healing on top of what we can do with the existing money," he said.

Erasmus made the comments at an Assembly of First Nations-sponsored conference on the $1.9-billion compensation package passed by Parliament last month.

The compensation package provides money for as many as 86,000 aboriginal people who attended church-run schools. The so-called common experience payments release the government and churches from all further liability relating to the Indian residential school experience, except in cases of sexual abuse and serious incidents of physical abuse.

The Foundation, which spends about $60 million across the country, funds about 35 programs in the Northwest Territories.

Erasmus said the foundation will not fund any new programs, but concentrate on existing ones, and encouraged communities to start or continue healing programs on their own, even without money from the foundation.

Fontaine addresses concerns

Meanwhile, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said he sees better days ahead for aboriginal people, after years of frustration while seeking healing and compensation for the wrongs suffered in residential schools.

Fontaine was explaining the details of the agreement at the one-day conference.

He says the establishment of a national reconciliation and healing commission will also open many Canadians' eyes to the incredible hardship many natives of a certain generation went through.

"People know absolutely nothing, most often, about this experience," he said. "They don't know that residential schools existed, or why they existed, and the policy that governed the management and operation of these schools. And it's such a tragic part of our history."

Fontaine encouraged former students to apply for compensation. He told the group that benefits received under the deal would not be clawed back by Revenue Canada or territorial governments, and that the system will respond to people who have lost their education records or went to schools not on the official list.

"This agreement is fair, it's just, it's generous, and it actually fixes all of the things that were problems under the old system," he said.

Fontaine says the first payments, advances worth $8,000 to former residential students who are over 65, are being processed now.

Younger claimants can send in their forms in March of next year.

However, the deal must still be cleared by courts in nine jurisdictions, where individual abuse cases are being heard, and could be scuttled entirely if as few as five per cent of former students opt out in writing.