The Federal Government Picked a Fight With First Nations Kids. Three Years and Millions in Legal Fees Later, They Lost.

‘Canada’s conduct was willful and reckless’, Human Rights Tribunal sasy as it awards First Nations kids maximum compensation


The federal government lost its three-year long battle before Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal to avoid compensating Indigenous families and youth for discrimination in Canada’s child welfare system.

F. N. Caring Society@CaringSociety

BREAKING: Another HUGE win for First Nations kids! The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the Canadian gov’t to pay compensation to First Nations children, youth & families harmed by the child welfare system. Full ruling: 

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The fee is to go towards compensating Indigenous families and youth harmed by the discrimination in Canada’s child welfare system or who were denied services owing to the discriminatory implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan’s principle, among other things, obligates the government to provide substantively equal access to housing, health and other services to Indigenous children and to safeguard the interests of children.

In its ruling, the tribunal found “Canada’s conduct was willful and reckless resulting in what we have referred to as a worst-case scenario under our Act.”

Cindy Blackstock

CDN Human Rights Tribunal finds Canada “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated v. First Nations children in a “worst case scenario” Awards maximum damages. Read the ruling: 
Summary of the ruling: 
More info: 

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The federal government’s legal battle has a lengthy history.

Soon after Trudeau’s Liberals formed government, the Tribunal issued a ruling that the federal government’s chronic under-funding of First Nations children on reserves was discriminatory, with 38% less being spent on kids on reserve compared to children in other communities across Canada.

The tribunal said funding for First Nations children needs to be equalized in comparison to kids elsewhere in Canada.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society which initially filed the human rights complaint, estimated compensation to First Nations kids could amount to nearly $1.7 billion.

Jorge Barrera

NEW: Ottawa must pay tens of thousands of dollars to every First Nations child who was placed in the on-reserve child welfare system, following a Friday ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that also provides compensation to some of their parents and grandparents.

Blackstock says the federal government’s full legal costs between 2016 and 2019 are not known because the government hasn’t released that information.

“It was at least 12 million as of 2016,” Blackstock told PressProgress, referring to the 9-year-long legal battle with Harper government over her initial complaint between 2007 and 2016.

In 2017, the Liberal government decided to fight the Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling, arguing it can’t force the government to give equal funding to Indigenous kids.

In December 2017, former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disclosed that the Liberal government spent over $800,000 in lawyer’s fees between 2016-2017 fighting the Human Rights Tribunal’s 2016 ruling to implement Jordan’s Principle.

That amount is likely larger today. MORE

‘Serengeti of the north’: the Kaska Dena’s visionary plan to protect a huge swath of B.C. wilderness

The First Nations that have lived in the north for thousands of years are out to prove that a conservation economy and extractive economy can thrive side by side — but first they need the B.C. government to get on board

Tanya Ball Taylor Rhodes Kaska Dena
Tanya Ball heads the Kaska land guardians program. Land guardians would have a greatly expanded role in the new conservancy area. Currently, eight Kaska guardians are spread out among the three B.C. Kaska communities. Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal

Flying north from Fort Ware, an isolated community in northern British Columbia at the terminus of a rough logging road, there’s something different about the landscape below. It becomes clearly visible, through parting cumulus clouds and glinting sun, about half-way into the 50-minute flight up the Rocky Mountain Trench, known locally as the “warm wind valley.”

Unlike flights over most of B.C., Van Somer doesn’t see a single clear-cut. There are no mines, no oil and gas development, no hydro reservoirs, no settlements and not a single road. He could walk for weeks on the land below and not meet a soul in the tapestry of boreal forest, sapphire lakes, rivers and snow-crested mountains that stitch together one of North America’s last intact major landscapes.

Donny Van Somer Taylor Roades Kaska Dena

Donny Van Somer, chief of the Kwadacha Nation, at the Kaska annual general assembly in Lower Post, B.C. Van Somer, who lives in Fort Ware, is working to permanently protect part of his people’s traditional territory in a new conservancy. Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal

“We have an area that’s very pristine and very beautiful, one of the most beautiful places, I think, in the world,” Van Somer, a grandfather of 12, tells The Narwhal.

“We call it the Serengeti of the north. There’s an abundance of wild animals. It’s untouched, no roads, just the ancestral trails that we use for getting back and forth.”

New conservancy would be larger than Vancouver Island

The Kaska Dena call this land Dene Kayeh, which translates as “the people’s country.” The Kaska, a nomadic people who followed the seasonal rounds, producing food, shelter, clothing and medicine from forested landscapes, have occupied this region continuously for at least 4,500 years.

Kaska Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area Maureen Garrity Kaska Dena

The proposed Kaska Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in Kaska Dena traditional territory. Scientists say species will more easily adapt to climate change in areas such as this, where they can move from valley bottom to mountain top. Photo: Maureen Garrity

In recent times, they have politely declined to put the proposed Eagle Spirit pipeline through their territory, insisted there be no logging north of Fort Ware, negotiated with a Vancouver company that wants to explore for zinc deposits and declined to use their guide outfitting licence because the area has been over-hunted and needs time to recover.

“Now we’ve decided we don’t want to see much development there,” says Van Somer, who is mustached and wears a leaf-patterned shirt in camouflage colours.

“I think it’s very important for us, being First Nations stewards of the land, to protect a piece of the land we can enjoy in its natural state.” MORE


Meet the Kaska land guardians

Agreement paves way for Indigenous-owned company to manage forestry, harvest in eastern Manitoba

Four First Nations communities enter 2-year deal with province to determine viability, pursue partnerships

The goal of a new agreement is to have four First Nations create a proposal for an Indigenous-owned company that would eventually manage forestry in an area east of Lake Winnipeg. (CBC)

Four First Nations communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg have signed an agreement with the province of Manitoba to explore an Indigenous-led commercial forestry opportunity.

Black River, Brokenhead Ojibway, Hollow Water and Sagkeeng First Nations signed a two-year forestry management option licence to explore the viability of harvesting trees in the area.

The goal is to have the First Nations create a proposal for an Indigenous-owned company that would eventually manage, harvest and renew the area’s forest. They would then need to apply for a long-term licence after the two years.

“This agreement represents a strong step towards shared management of our natural resources and greater participation of Indigenous people in the economic development in eastern Manitoba,” Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said at an announcement ThursdayMORE


‘Damage is done’ in Indigenous community over Wilson-Raybould’s treatment: Kinew

Jody Wilson-Raybould
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould take part in the grand entrance as the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission is released, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is quitting the federal cabinet days after allegations became public the Prime Minister’s Office pressured the former justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says the federal Liberal government’s treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin scandal has done serious damage to the party’s reputation with Indigenous people in Canada.

Indigenous people have “made up their mind” on the issue, Kinew told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon during an interview airing Sunday.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould appears to be the one conducting herself with integrity and the prime minister seems to be playing politics as usual,” he said. “I think that has damaged Trudeau’s reputation as being Canada’s first woke prime minister.” MORE


Liberals risk ‘brand damage’ over Wilson-Raybould controversy, says former Martin government official
Wilson-Raybould resignation spells trouble for Liberals

What is the Green New Deal and how would it benefit society?

This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with dozens of co-sponsors, have introduced a vision for the Green New Deal. One Republican called it a “socialist manifesto”. Many environmental advocacy groups have hailed it, but some say it doesn’t go far enough. Others warn that its broad scope and the long list of progressive social programs it endorses could hinder its climate efforts.

So what is the Green New Deal?

The proposal outlines the broad principles of a plan simultaneously to fight inequity and tackle climate change. It does not contain policy details or advocate for specific ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But with a broad brush it aims to make the US carbon-neutral – net zero carbon emissions – in 10 years.

The Green New Deal recognizes that transition would require massive change. It endorses ways of ensuring that vulnerable populations – including the poor, people of color, indigenous populations and communities already facing environmental degradation – take part in the planning process and benefit from the green economy.

Would it end the use of coal, oil and natural gas?

No. But it would aim to offset any remaining greenhouse gas pollution with forests that absorb carbon dioxide, for example. It does not specifically address what role nuclear power or fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies would play. Nuclear power represents half of the carbon-free energy in the US, but it runs on mined uranium. Fossil fuels with carbon capture would still require drilling and cause pollution.

How ambitious is the Green New Deal?

Incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society.

Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in the US economy. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016, 28% were from electricity, 28% were from transportation, 22% were from industry, 11% were commercial and residential and 9% were from agriculture. MORE


Activists protest the Line 3 decision, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota regulators approved Enbridge Energy's proposal to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline, angering opponents who say the project threatens pristine areas and have vowed Standing Rock-style protests, if needed to block it. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Activists protest the approval of Enbridge’s proposal to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline on June 28, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune/AP

MINNESOTA POLICE HAVE spent 18 months preparing for a major standoff over Enbridge Line 3, a tar sands oil pipeline that has yet to receive the green light to build in the state. Records obtained by The Intercept show that law enforcement has engaged in a coordinated effort to identify potential anti-pipeline camps and monitor individual protesters, repeatedly turning for guidance to the North Dakota officials responsible for the militarized response at Standing Rock in 2016.

Enbridge, a Canada-based energy company that claims to own the world’s longest fossil fuel transportation network, has labeled Line 3 the largest project in its history. If completed, it would replace 1,031 miles of a corroded existing pipeline that spans from Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries and a major shipping terminal in Wisconsin, expanding the pipeline’s capacity by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day.

The expanded Line 3 would pass through the territories of several Ojibwe bands in northern Minnesota, home to sensitive wild rice lakes central to the Native communities’ spiritual and physical sustenance. Given that tar sands are among the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel sources, Line 3 opponents underline that the pipeline is exactly the kind of infrastructure that must be rapidly phased out to meet scientists’ prescriptions for mitigating climate disasters. MORE

We asked Jagmeet Singh about his support for one pipeline and his opposition to another

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in full campaign mode on Sat. Jan. 19, as he got the backing of some star power in the middle of a byelection campaign in the Vancouver region.

Jagmeet Singh answers questions about why he expressed his support for the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline, while he opposes the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker expansion project. Singh was campaigning in Burnaby on Jan. 19, 2019. Video by Michael Ruffolo


Svend Robinson returns to politics with plans to tackle climate change, housing affordability and Big Pharma

Image result for Svend Robinson ndp
Svend Robinson spoke at his official nomination on Saturday. Robinson said climate change and the housing crisis were the two main reasons why he chose to re-enter politics. (CBC)

The Burnaby North—Seymour NDP Riding Association acclaimed former MP and veteran progressive Svend Robinson on Saturday as its candidate for the federal election.

Addressing a packed room of activists and constituents at the Confederation Seniors Centre in north Burnaby, Robinson, who represented various federal ridings in Burnaby from 1979 until 2004, said he was returning to public life to fight climate change and the housing affordability crisis.

“I am running to put climate change and global warming at the top of our political agenda, and to demand that we mobilize the same way we mobilize nationally to fight a war,” Robinson said. “It means we must listen to and respect the voices of indigenous leaders, both hereditary and elected councils.” MORE

Horgan bullish on Site C, LNG


Premier John Horgan speaks with an attendee at the Northern Resource Forum on Wednesday.- BRENT BRAATEN, PHOTOGRAPHER

Horgan also noted that some of the things done by the current government might seem surprising to an industrialist/business crowd.

He was bullish on developing liquefied natural gas. After careful review, he supported Site C Dam construction which he described as a “very controversial but fundamental project.”

He also stressed that two sub-topics of government were actually keystone enablers of natural resource development.

He said all the investment a government could make in the burgeoning tech sector was tantamount to investment in mining, forestry, oil and gas, agriculture and so forth because contrary to mental image, the tech sector did not mean making better video games, but rather making better tools for the natural resource sectors to use.

That might mean software, but it also might mean the 18-storey all-wood skyscraper now standing on the campus of UBC in Vancouver. SOURCE


UN committee says B.C.’s Site C dam may break international deals

Says Site C would infringe Indigenous Peoples’ rights protected under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Completed powerhouse foundation, a massive concrete structure on the south bank. B.C. HYDRO

The UN’s committee on the elimination of racial discrimination says Canada may have already violated an agreement it signed 50 years ago. That agreement commits Canada to prevent development on Indigenous land without adequate consultation.

Canada has also promised to block destructive development, allow Indigenous people to conduct their own impact studies and stop forcing First Nations to go to court.

“The committee is concerned about the alleged lack of measures taken to ensure the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent with regard to the Site C dam,” reads a Dec. 14 letter addressed to Rosemary McCarney, Canada’s ambassador to the UN. MORE