Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A new revenue-sharing agreement ensures four Ktunaxa Nation communities benefit from resource development within their traditional territory.

The agreement is the fourth Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA) in the province and fulfils the B.C. government's commitment to reach 10 new non-treaty agreements under the BC Jobs Plan by 2015.

The Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA) will enable the Ktunaxa Nation, comprised of the four communities of St. Mary's, Tobacco Plains, Lower Kootenay and Akisq'nuk First Nation, to share revenues from new coal mine projects in the Elk Valley.

The agreement also links to the Strategic Engagement Agreement between B.C. and Ktunaxa Nation, which provides for a decision-making and project-review process to ensure the Ktunaxa Nation continues to be involved in decision-making about new mine projects. As well, the agreement replaces the Ktunaxa Nation Council's existing Forest Revenue Sharing Agreement.

The ECDA provides stability and greater certainty for coal mining operations in the Elk Valley. In the past fiscal year, mineral taxes derived from all coal mines in B.C. amounted to approximately 90 per cent of total provincial mineral tax revenue. Elk Valley coal operations contribute the majority of this revenue.

The agreement also supports the BC Jobs Plan commitment to support existing jobs and create new jobs through the expansion of existing coal mines and the establishment of new mines on the coal fields in the Elk Valley.

The ECDA builds on the existing Strategic Engagement Agreement (SEA) with the Ktunaxa, signed in 2010, which guides ongoing government-to-government discussions on natural resource decisions, and is another example of B.C.'s commitment to transform its relationship with the Ktunaxa Nation.

The agreement is one step toward addressing the Ktunaxa interest in being recognized as a government in the Ktunaxa Territory, being appropriately accommodated for potential impacts on Ktunaxa Nation's asserted Aboriginal rights, including title, achieving a greater role in the regional economy and supporting Ktunaxa community development initiatives.

Under the ECDA, the Ktunaxa Nation will invest its revenue-share to achieve its social and economic objectives, which include enhancing the well-being of Ktunaxa communities and Ktunaxa citizens through initiatives related to education, cultural revitalization, housing, infrastructure, health, economic development, land stewardship, intergovernmental engagement processes and governance capacity.

"This agreement will bring significant benefits to Ktunaxa Nation communities and enable them to benefit from resource activity in their traditional territory. Under the BC Jobs Plan, we made a commitment to deliver 10 non-treaty agreements that bring benefits more quickly to First Nations communities. Not only does today's announcement fulfil that promise two years early, but we expect to see many more such agreements in the months and years ahead," said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong.

"The Ktunaxa Nation is pleased that we have reached this agreement with the Province of B.C. It is one step toward the resource revenue-sharing arrangements that must be reached with all B.C. First Nations. This agreement will further our goal of achieving the Ktunaxa Nation's vision statement, and provide current and future generations a benefit from the resources extracted within our territory. Through the provisions in the agreement, Ktunaxa will continue their stewardship obligations to manage the land within our territory, which includes consultation of future projects," said Ktunaxa Nation Chair Kathryn Teneese.

Quick Facts:

* Mining activities in the Elk Valley generate approximately 90 per cent of the coal mined in B.C. each year.

* The ECDA covers the entire area of the Ktunaxa traditional territory, which is approximately 6.6 million hectares (approximately 66,000 square kilometres or 25,500 square miles) in size; however, the coal mining revenue-sharing component of the ECDA is focused on the coal fields located in the Elk Valley.

* The forest section of the ECDA replaces the existing Forest Revenue Sharing Agreement with the Ktunaxa Nation Council and provides forest revenue-sharing commitments to the tune of $917,537 for 2013-14. The coal mining section of the agreement is a new revenue-sharing stream.

* This is the fourth ECDA signed with First Nations since the first one was initiated two years ago.

* B.C. is a partner with the Ktunaxa Nation in more than 10 agreements, initiatives and protocols.

* Ktunaxa Nation Council represents approximately 1,100 Ktunaxa Nation members in four Ktunaxa communities within the British Columbia portion of their traditional territory.

* A recent analysis by Ktunaxa Nation of its business interests shows that the Ktunaxa inject more than $30 million annually into the regional economy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Letter of response from Snuneymuxw First Nation

Attention: Bernie Dumas, President & CEO Nanaimo Port Authority

Dear Mr. Dumas:

I am writing in reply to your letter of December 7, 2012, regarding the Nanaimo Port Authority's (“NPA”) proposed 30 year lease of the marina in Nanaimo Harbour to the Pacific Northwest Marina Group.

Late last year, Snuneymuxw announced that it was launching an action strategy to repair the gross wrongs done to Snuneymuxw waters, including Nanaimo Harbour and the Nanaimo River Estuary. A major reason for this devastation has been the actions of the NPA.

Snuneymuxw's strategy includes ensuring that actions that are taken within the Harbour and Estuary are consistent with the Treaty of 1854 as required at law. As part of this strategy we have undertaken a careful review of the Canada Marine Act and the NPA's Letters Patent as they relate to the Treaty of 1854. We are of the view that the NPA is not in a proper legal position to pursue the lease in the manner that it has been, and more broadly that the NPA's asserted authority with regard to the waters and fisheries governed by the Treaty of 1854 is questionable. In addition, the specific course of conduct the NPA and PNMG has followed with respect to the proposed lease does not meet required legal standards.

(1) The NPA's Questionable Asserted Authority

The NPA's mandate, which is granted pursuant to its Letters Patent and the Canada Marine Act, is at all times subject to the Constitution of Canada, and powers must be exercised in a manner that respects s. 35 of the Constitution. This is reinforced by the non-derogation clause that is at the outset of the Canada Marine Act. There is no lawful space for an agent of Canada acting under this constitutional and legislative scheme that allows it a mandate that can trample constitutionally protected rights.

The constitutional framework within which the Canada Marine Act, and agents acting under that Act, must operate includes the Treaty of 1854. It is incontestable that the Treaty is recognized and protected under the Constitution and that Canada and its agents cannot take actions - legislative or otherwise - which would violate and fail to honourably respect and implement that Treaty. In that regard, we note that the Canada Marine Act is legally suspect for granting general authorities and powers to the NPA while failing to consider the particular Treaty rights and circumstances that exist pursuant to the Treaty of 1854. The authorities and powers granted have not considered or been tailored to those Treaty rights as they must be. For example, the Courts have on a number of occasions explained the specific Treaty fisheries rights at issue - what the rights mean for Snuneymuxw and importantly, what limitations that places on Canada and its agents. Nowhere are these rights, and concurrent limitations on Canada and its agents, reflected in the Act.

Relatedly, the obligations on Canada to respect and honour the Treaty of 1854 lies upstream of any legislative or statutory regime whether that is the Canada Marine Act or the NPA’s Letters Patent. Neither regime can authorize the NPA to be involved in activities which infringe Snuneymuxw Aboriginal and Treaty rights. If the NPA is relying on any provisions in these regimes that seem on their face to assign authority or powers to the NPA then the established case law should be carefully considered to ensure that that reliance is on a legally sound footing. If the NPA were to undertake such an analysis we expect that the NPA would find its conduct and activities to be legally vulnerable.

(2) The NPA and PNMG's Inadequate Conduct Regarding the Proposed Nanaimo Harbour Lease

Snuneymuxw's experience with the NPA is that it has a self-serving and very impoverished conception of engagement with us on projects that the NPA is anxious to develop even though they adversely affect our rights and interests. The process adopted by the NPA in conducting its review of the Nanaimo Marina redevelopment project confirms this. The process is fundamentally flawed. It is also inconsistent with commitments made to Snuneymuxw by the NPA about the process.

In May of 2012, Snuneymuxw was approached by PNMG and the NPA about the project. To our dismay, it was disclosed that a memorandum of agreement already existed between the NPA and PNMG for development of the Nanaimo Marina, and that public announcements were being made the day after our meeting. Prior to that time, Snuneymuxw was completely unaware of any plan for development of the Nanaimo Marina by the NPA and PNMG. To compound this, Snuneymuxw was presented with an incomplete copy (consisting of pages) of the memorandum of agreement. We complained at the time that without complete information, the process for engagement followed by the NPA was seriously flawed. Unfortunately, this inclination to secrecy and concealment has characterized the NPA’s “engagement” with Snuneymuxw on this project.

Despite reservations about the NPA’s commitment to meaningful engagement, Snuneymuxw made a sincere effort to engage with the NPA about the project.

At that time, Snuneymuxw was assured by the NPA that it was committed to “work together” with us in developing a process that was fair, balanced and respectful of our processes and interests. In fact, the NPA expressed its willingness to explore a joint Snuneymuxw-NPA process for review of the Project and offered to meet with us for that purpose (an offer that we accepted). In an email dated August 27, 2012, the NPA confirmed its commitment to meet with Snuneymuxw “so we [Snuneymuxw and the NPA] can develop clear guidelines to address these smaller projects together”. In November, 2012, – after Snuneymuxw complained that the NPA was not abiding by its commitment to meet with us to develop a fair and respectful process - the NPA again assured us in an email that it was committed to discussing “the process and timelines together and set some basic procedures for Nanaimo on non-designated projects”.

Also in the summer of 2012 we introduced the NPA and PNMG to Snuneymuxw's decision-making process. In meetings, both the NPA and PNMG expressed their commitment to honour and follow-through with that process. Indeed, we completed the preliminary assessment step in that process and prepared a preliminary report. We also took time to discuss with you that addressing impacts to our Treaty rights, and honouring the Treaty relationship, often involves a range of measures including reaching understanding on environmental, fisheries, cultural, and economic matters. Indeed, one of the reasons for the frustration we see being expressed across the country by Aboriginal peoples is that the holders of Treaty rights have, in the cruellest irony, suffered the impacts while receiving none of the benefits of economic activity in the Territories. This why we told you each project individually, including the proposed Nanaimo marina re-development, needs to include consideration of economic as well as environmental, fisheries, and cultural issues, and that we indicated we were prepared to discuss this with PNMG and NPA. As it happens, you were not interested.

The NPA and PNMG have not followed through on your commitments on the joint development of a process, nor has our decision-making process been honoured. Rather, on December 7 we received a letter which completely ignores the many previous months of statements and commitments. The result of this is that the NPA and PNMG have not followed through to engage with us in a manner that gathers and assesses information about how the project relates to our Treaty rights, and how those may be addressed. Indeed, even the information that the NPA and PNMG was unilaterally developing has not been provided in full. For example, we have heard statements that changes to the development plan have been made since May. Yet, we have never been provided an updated development plan. Similarly, we were not provided with the complete environmental reports or studies on which the NPA is relying. And to our shock, your December 7 letter makes no mention of our preliminary assessment report.

What this pattern of conduct illustrates is that the NPA has a general disregard for and dismissive attitude towards Snuneymuxw’s rights enshrined in the Treaty of 1854 and s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and a narrow conception of its duty to engage with SFN where those rights may be adversely affected. From the outset, Snuneymuxw has repeatedly identified with the NPA and the PNMG our concerns about how our Treaty rights will be affected by the project if it proceeds. However, rather than engage with us about these concerns, the NPA and PNMG have simply dismissed them as irrelevant and outside the scope of any process of engagement on this project. In essence, the December 7 letter advises that the NPA’s review (and by extension, its engagement with Snuneymuxw) is confined to the environmental effects of the project as defined in CEAA 2012. I think this is a legal error that will not stand up in the face of legal challenge.

In light of the above, it appears we are in a situation where the NPA will be called upon to defend its asserted powers before a court of law.

Similarly, we expect both the NPA and PNMG will have to fight in court and other venues to try to proceed with the project. Such a struggle will ultimately be unfortunate for all, but we are confident that our Treaty will prevail to ensure that what is right is done.

Yours truly,

Chief Douglas White III Kwulasultun



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Canada’s universities have launched a new online tool to provide Aboriginal students with better access to information on programs and services on campuses across Canada.

The comprehensive, searchable database of resources designed to meet the needs of Aboriginal students was developed by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Prospective students and their families can use the tool to find information on the 286 different academic programs designed for Aboriginal students and other helpful resources available at Canadian universities, such as financial assistance, housing, cultural activities, counselling, availability of Elders, gathering spaces and mentoring.

The new directory of programs and services for Aboriginal students can be found here: www.aucc.ca/Aboriginal-directory

Aboriginal youth are one of the fastest growing segments of the Canadian population. There are more than 560,000 Aboriginals under the age of 25 across Canada, yet the university completion rate for the Aboriginal population overall is eight per cent—a third of the national average.

“The education gap in this country is large and growing. This needs to change,” said AUCC President Paul Davidson. “Canada’s universities recognize this and have significantly boosted the culturally relevant curricula, support programs and financial aid available to Aboriginal students. With this database, it’s easier than ever to locate and access these services.”

This new online resource is part of universities’ ongoing efforts to improve access to university for Aboriginal students and help them achieve success in higher education.

Fifty-five institutions now have gathering spaces for Aboriginal students, and more than 60 organize social and cultural activities. In addition to supports on campus, many universities have successful outreach programs in Aboriginal communities, providing educational support and mentoring opportunities to students starting as early as the elementary level.

“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the AUCC for creating an online directory to assist students in finding and accessing the programs and services that are reflective of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit languages and cultures, as well as those resources that will assist them in the achievement of their university goals,” said Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada.

The web-based directory is an enhanced update of a print version that AUCC produced in 2006 and 2010. It will be regularly updated to reflect new and enhanced services for Aboriginal students at Canada’s universities.

The database complements information in the Directory of Canadian Universities, published every year by AUCC.

Aboriginal education is an ongoing priority for Canada’s universities. AUCC’s 2013 pre-budget submission to the federal government calls for increased postsecondary scholarships for Aboriginal students, with funding to be matched by the private sector.

AUCC has also undertaken significant steps in recent years to help universities identify, develop and share ideas on best practices for services aimed at Aboriginal youth.

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

B.C. secondary students who wish to become teachers can now  apply for one of 20, $5,000 Pathway to Teacher Education scholarships.  Scholarship winners will be awarded a $5,000 voucher to redeem upon entrance to one of B.C.'s faculty of education programs.

These new scholarships were announced last October on World Teachers'  Day. Since that time, representatives from stakeholder groups have been  working to determine eligibility requirements and an adjudication process  for the program. Application information for scholarships is available at: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca./awards

The Pathway to Teacher Education scholarship program complements other awards available to secondary students:

* The Provincial Examinations Scholarship program awards $1,000-$2,500 to students for academic excellence on their provincial exams.

* The Passport to Education Program recognizes student achievement in a broad range of academic and non-academic areas with awards of $250 and $500.

* Dogwood District/Authority scholarship winners receive $1,000 for excellence in their chosen field(s). This year, two new categories have been added, technical and trades training, and community service.

The Provincial Awards Program is currently undergoing review in conjunction with the graduation program review. Initial feedback supports a more personalized awards program with more involvement from parents and the community.

Learn More:

BC Education Plan: http://www.bcedplan.ca/

For more on student awards and scholarships, visit: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca./awards

Friday, January 11, 2013

The B.C. government is investing $1.5 million in two new arts programs to help cultural organizations continue to provide quality arts experiences in communities throughout British Columbia, Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett said today.

Funding for BC Creative Spaces and BC Creative Communities comes from the 2010 Sport and Arts Legacy, created by the B.C. government to carry on the spirit of community celebration that played such a major role in the cultural success of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Eligible applicants include B.C. non-profit arts and/or cultural organizations, First Nations band councils or friendship centres. The application deadline is Feb. 15, 2013. The British Columbia Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, with help from other public agencies, will assess applications and recommend funding.

For more information, visit:

http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/arts_culture/index.htmor email: BCCreativeSpaces@gov.bc.caand


BC Creative Spaces:

* Total program funding: up to $1 million.

* Individual grants: up to $50,000.

* Supports construction and specialized equipment purchases.

* Addresses a demonstrated need for capital development or acquisition.

* Engages underserved groups, including rural and remote communities.

* Involves partnerships and/or collaboration.

* Includes environmentally sensitive practices.

* Requires projects to secure other sources of support.

* Examples: Renovating and upgrading a community theatre with new lighting; installing a wheelchair lift at an arts centre.

BC Creative Communities:

* Total program funding: up to $500,000.

* Individual grants: up to $25,000.

* Implements new or expands existing community arts engagement projects and programs.

* Engages underserved groups, including rural and remote communities.

* Develops community partnerships and/or collaborations.

* Requires projects to secure other sources of support.

* Examples: Organizing a community event that engages an artist to celebrate a milestone anniversary; creating a map of all cultural resources in a community.


Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett -

"In communities large and small, urban and rural, throughout British

Columbia, local arts and cultural organizations do an amazing job year after year providing quality arts experiences for local families, residents and visitors. These organizations, as varied as the B.C. communities they serve so well, establish vibrant centres for the arts in local theatres and art galleries - as well as creating great arts programs and organizing wonderful festivals."

"We recognize the outstanding service provided by the arts and culture sector in every region of British Columbia. We're supporting two new programs designed to help B.C.'s arts and culture organizations carry on their invaluable work."

Quick Facts:

* Again this year, the B.C. government is providing over $53 million in stable funding for arts and culture organizations, as well as individual artists, in communities throughout British Columbia.

* The B.C. government established the $60-million 2010 Sport and Arts

Legacy to help celebrate the pride and spirit shown by British Columbians during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games - and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

* Since 2001, the B.C. government has provided more than $2.6 billion in support for arts and culture in British Columbia, including the screen-based entertainment industry.

Learn More:

* Check out the provincial government's role in supporting sport, arts and culture through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/cscd


Friday, January 11, 2013

Tsleil-Waututh Nation is dismayed at Kinder Morgan’s announcement today that it is increasing the capacity of its proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline project from 750,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

“We are disappointed by Kinder Morgan’s announcement today, but not surprised,” says Chief Justin George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “This shows that there is no limit to what Kinder Morgan will push for. They are taking full advantage of Prime Minister Harper’s omnibus budget bills, C38 and C45.

“Once this infrastructure is put in place, where will it end?” continues George. “How many more tankers will this mean for Burrard Inlet? Will Kinder Morgan push the Port to dredge under the Second Narrows to allow for supertankers? Will they push for more than one million barrels per day? Two million? Citizens need to ask some serious questions of their leaders before this pipeline is approved.”

“In their announcement today, Kinder Morgan said that Trans Mountain has an existing footprint, established relationships, and a superb safety record. We dispute all of those claims,” says Carleen Thomas, elected councilor, Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “This is a brand new pipeline following a new route; the existing pipeline was built without First Nations consent; and there have been 78 spills since 1951. The largest of these spills have taken place since Kinder Morgan took over the line in 2005.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we must protect it,” continues Thomas. “We encourage everyone to raise their voices in opposition to this pipeline. The risk is too great to accept. We will be idle no more.”

Tsleil-Waututh is adamantly opposed to Kinder Morgan’s proposal to build a new pipeline to bring crude oil/bitumen to foreign markets through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. The proposal would see the transport of crude oil expanded from its present level of approximately 350,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The Nation has experienced the results of crude oil handling and refining on Burrard Inlet for a number of decades. The Nation is expecting government-to-government consultation on this project.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Thursday, January 3, 2013

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today continued calls for solidarity, engagement and action by First Nations and the Crown. First Nation leaders will meet on the anniversary of the Crown-First Nations Gathering January 24, 2013 and an urgent invitation to the Prime Minister and the Governor General to commit to attend this meeting was sent on January 1, 2013.

"First Nations across this country have been voicing concern and frustration with a broken system that does not address long-standing disparities between First Nations and the rest of Canada, and address priorities in ways that will provide for long-term solutions and sustainability," said National Chief Atleo, further acknowledging the actions of First Nation citizens, leaders and supporters, including Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake Manitoba and Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat who have been without food since December 11, 2012, calling attention to the urgent need for the Crown to respect and honour its duty to work with First Nations to implement Treaties.

"There is no excuse for inaction either by First Nation leadership or by Canada," said National Chief Atleo. "First Nations are ready to do the hard work to address our many challenges and achieve a better future for our children. We must see concrete commitment and action. It's time for the Crown to honour its relationship and responsibilities to First Nations starting with the recognition and affirmation of our inherent and Treaty rights. It's time for all First Nations citizens and their leaders to drive solutions."

January 24 will mark one year since the Crown-First Nations gathering where First Nation leaders, the Governor General and Prime Minister Harper committed to work on a number of key areas, including Treaty implementation and comprehensive claims, strengthened First Nation governance and fiscal relations, economic development and education.

In a December 29 letter to First Nation leadership, National Chief Atleo highlighted the importance of nation-based solutions, and the need for all First Nations to engage at the community level. "I and the AFN Executive support and encourage community-level and treaty-level meetings to advance priorities first and foremost in the homes and territories of our Nations," wrote National Chief Atleo also acknowledging the support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across the country and beyond. "It is our way and our responsibility to understand and achieve our priorities together, led by our peoples. Our role at the regional and national level is to offer full support for First Nation driven initiatives and solutions to recognize, respect and implement our rights and responsibilities."

"Through the 'Idle No More' movement, we have seen a tremendous outpouring of energy, pride and determination by our peoples in recent weeks," said National Chief Atleo. "This level of citizen and community engagement is absolutely essential to achieve the change we all want to see in every First Nation - the hard work of re-building our Nations, our governments and protecting our lands, waters and territories. "

"First Nations are engaging in a peaceful assertion of our rights and our responsibilities." said National Chief Atleo. "We can and must do this work together. We express our thanks to all and in particular the women and youth leadership who have spoken up forcefully and effectively. We support and care for all of our peoples to be safe and secure especially our children. We are stronger together. And we extend this invitation and encouragement to all Canadians to join us in understanding and support to achieve fairness and justice."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Media Release

For Immediate Release December 28th, 2012

Attawapiskat Chief Spence heading into day 19 of hunger strike and seeking Canadians, Members of Parliament and politicians to urge Prime Minister Harper to meet and commit to Nation to Nation relations with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.

Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, Ont

Chief Theresa Spence is heading into day nineteen of a hunger strike and concern for her health has been expressed by community members worldwide.Her resolve is unwavering to continue her hunger strike until the Prime Minister and his government agree to a meeting to discuss a commitment and a way forward to begin Nation to Nation treaty based relationship and a path forward for reconciliation with First Nations and Canada.

Her condition continues to weaken every hour and the time has come for increased efforts to gain the support of Canadians and governments in forging this new relationship.

Therefore two events will be planned for Sunday December 30th, 2012.


i)Open house invitation to all Members of Parliament and Senators to visit with Chief Spence at her teepee at Victoria Island, Ottawa.Chief Spence will be receiving MP’s and Senators on Sunday December 30th, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.Media will be welcome for a brief statement and comments.

ii)Chief Spence is requesting all Canadians and Indigenous People worldwide join in solidarity for ceremonies, events and rallies to call on Prime Minister Harper to answer the call of Aboriginal Nations to meet with Chief Spence and commit to a path of recognition and implementation of the treaty commitments and forging a new First Nations crown relationship. National and International Coordinated events will be planned for Sunday December 30th, 2012 at 2 pm Eastern time.

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