Liberals’ Indigenous child welfare bill just about ‘politics,’ says prof who saw draft

Draft bill suggests only Indigenous groups with provincial, federal agreements could create own rules


Dennis McPherson, associate professor of Indigenous learning at Lakehead University, said the draft child welfare bill does not recognize true Indigenous jurisdiction over child welfare or guarantee any funding for communities. (Submitted)

Ottawa’s promised “turning point” Indigenous child welfare legislation seems to have been designed with politics in mind because it sounds good but doesn’t change much, according to an Ojibway academic who reviewed a draft version of the bill.

Dennis McPherson, associate professor for Indigenous Learning at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University, said the draft version of the bill does not recognize true Indigenous jurisdiction over child welfare or guarantee any funding for communities.

“It doesn’t change a whole lot as far as I can see, in that the ultimate voice is still the minister,” said McPherson. MORE

B.C. First Nations back in court over whether governments can restrict their fishing rights

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VANCOUVER—Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations are in court this week appealing a 2018 B.C. Supreme Court decision they say unduly limits their right to a commercial fishery.

The First Nations are looking to the B.C. Court of Appeal to recognize not just the right to a commercial fishery but one that is sustainable, economically viable and allows “widespread participation of our people.” MORE

Saskatchewan, Ottawa carbon tax case ‘monumental’ for Constitution: expert

REGINA — Legal experts, government officials and industry leaders will all watch this week as Saskatchewan and Ottawa head to court over the constitutionality of a federally imposed carbon tax.

The federal government is set to impose a carbon levy on provinces that do not have one of their own starting in April.

Ottawa’s price on pollution starts at a minimum of $20 a tonne and rises $10 annually until 2022.

The Saskatchewan Party government has always been opposed to the idea. The province says the tax would hurt the economy and feels its own plan for emissions reductions is sufficient. SOURCE

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Judge asks B.C. attorney general to intercede in Unist’ot’en arrests

Judge agrees it is in ‘public interest’ for Crown to intervene as those arrested make first court appearance


Molly Wickham brought a talking stick with eagle feathers to B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George on Tuesday. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

B.C.’s attorney general has been asked to intervene after the controversial arrests of 14 people in a dispute between an LNG pipeline company and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The intervention request came Monday from a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Prince George. Madame Justice Church agreed with a defence application, stating it is in the “public interest to invite the Crown to intercede.”

The ruling came as most of the 14 people arrested by RCMP last month made their first appearance in court.  All are facing contempt proceedings for defying a court order while blocking Coastal GasLink’s access to a potential pipeline route.

“The bigger issue has to do with our hereditary system and with government and industry asserting jurisdiction on our territories,” she said outside court. “They have to look at the evidence and see if they want to proceed with these charges. It may not be in the public interest.” MORE

The Unist’ot’en stand-off: How Canada’s “prove-it” mentality undermines reconciliation

Wet'suwet'en Solidarity rally in Vancouver, Jan. 2019 (Photo: Eugene Kung)

…It is certainly true that, where an Indigenous nation brings a title claim in court, the court will expect that nation to prove its claim. The procedural double standard in this approach has been pointed out by observers such as Professor John Borrows, who rhetorically asks: “Why should the Aboriginal group bear the burden of reconciliation by proving its occupation of land? After all, the Crown is the subsequent claimant. Why should the Crown not have to prove its land claims?” Nonetheless it is obvious that Canadian courts accept Crown title based, as Professor Borrows puts it, on “bare words,” while expecting Indigenous nations to prove their claim to pre-existing Aboriginal title.

Aboriginal rights are inherent – not granted by Canadian law

What the RCMP statement does not address, however, and what is often overlooked in the “prove-it” approach, is that Aboriginal title and governance exist and apply in Canadian law now, even if the bounds of title lands have not been delineated in a court case.

Peter Grant, a lawyer for the Wet’suwet’en, summarized this well in his recent response to the RCMP’s media statement: “it’s not that title doesn’t exist pre-declaration, it’s that the government is refusing to recognize title before a court declaration.” MORE

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