By Annette FrancisAPTN National NewsOTTAWA– Federal politicians are back on Parliament Hill after a long Christmas break and a new face is now handling the Indian Affairs file for the government.Conservative Kenora MP Greg Rickford is now parliamentary secretary for Indian affairs, replacing Saint Boniface MP Shelly Glover, who was named parliamentary secretary for finance.Rickford told APTN National News he was looking forward to his new role.“I’m sure glad to hear that our next priority here moving forward is going to be K to 12,” said Rickford, first elected in 2008 and also a member of the Commons Aboriginal affairs committee. “Those are the priorities of this government and they appear to be the priorities of First Nations.”And as MPs get back into the swing of things, Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan says his department’s top priorities include education and economic development.“As long as we can keep working with willing partners, and we seem to have lots of William partners, we’ll carry on with positive measures that will really help to develop capacity and allow First Nations to improve the economic development initiatives,” said Duncan.Duncan said no date has yet been set for an expected formal meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.Duncan said plans are also continuing to create a blue-ribbon panel to study education and deliver a report expected to lay the groundwork for substantive changes.Duncan, however, warned that a spring election could scuttle everything.“A spring election is not good for the country as far as I’m concerned,” he said.The budget is the next big thing coming for Parliament. It’s expected to be tabled sometime in March.If the parties are still talking about an election then, everything will be put on hold.
APTN National NewsFirst Nations in Alberta are on the front line when it comes to control of natural resources and issues that impact their communities.Now with another provincial election looming – what’s at stake in the province for aboriginal people?APTN‘s Keith Laboucan brings us more.
APTN National NewsThis is a story about perseverance, drive and determination.APTN National News reporter Larissa Burnouf recently sat down with a woman who rose up from a life on the streets to become a respected academic in Saskatchewan.This is her story.
APTN National NewsCanadian Rangers are a fixture across Canada’s remote north.They’re part of the Canadian military and conduct patrols across the Arctic.But how do you travel when there are no roads and the terrain is rugged and wild?APTN National News reporter Wayne Rivers shows us how.
APTN National NewsBanning or limiting alcohol brings out the bootleggers and lifting restrictions often doesn’t help.In the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories the problem has gotten out of hand.This is past winter the RCMP seized over $42,000 worth of illegal booze bound for the remote community of Tulita.APTN’s Cullen Crozier visited the community.
The Canadian Press TORONTO – Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital has added a unique service for its Indigenous clients – a sweat lodge to help promote spiritual, physical and emotional healing.The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto unveiled the sweat lodge on a tucked-away section of its sprawling campus, fulfilling a goal set years ago to augment its services for Indigenous clients by adding the ceremonial structure.“Having the sweat lodge on-site at CAMH is going to allow us to offer Indigenous healing ceremonies as part of the treatment plans,” Renee Linklater, director of Aboriginal engagement and outreach, said in an interview prior to Thursday’s official opening.“This is going to be really important in our efforts to address what is appropriate Aboriginal client care.”The round sweat lodge – 1.5 metres high and four metres in diameter – is constructed from 35 maple and poplar sapling poles, gathered from the Six Nations of the Grand River community. Heavy tarp overlays the frame, with an opening facing a fire pit, where stones for the purification ceremony are heated.Inside, a second pit has been dug to receive those stones, which will be washed with traditional medicines and the “sacred water” that will turn into a cleansing steam.Participants sit encircling the pit inside the lodge and engage in prayer, songs and other rituals of healing with the help of a ceremonial “conductor.” The process lasts about two hours.Diane Longboat, an elder with CAMH’s Indigenous services, said clients with mental health and/or addiction issues go through a number of individual healing ceremonies before being considered ready for the rituals of the sweat lodge.Taking part in the cleansing ceremony is meant to cast out negative thoughts and feelings, and to help heal “the wounds in their lives,” said Longboat, a Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River territory in southwestern Ontario.The stones are called “grandmothers and grandfathers,” terms reflective of Indigenous peoples’ great reverence for their ancestors.“When sacred water is placed on them and steam occurs, that’s a release of the spirit inside those rocks we call the eggs of Mother Earth,” explained Longboat. “Not only is it a physical detoxification of your body, but it’s an emotional shift within you.“It is sometimes a miraculous adventure when you go in because there are profound and everlasting healings that occur inside the sweat lodge. And people will look back on life and say: ‘This was a spiritual milestone for me. It was an emotional, mental and physical milestone.”’Ed Bennett, an Inuk born in Happy Valley, N.L., who ended up homeless in Toronto, was a client at CAMH about five years ago and was enrolled in its 21-day in-house program to deal with psychological issues and substance abuse.The program helped Bennett learn to express suppressed feelings, to deal with family-related trauma and to accept his identity as a “two-spirit man and a gay man.”He was able to take part in sweat lodge ceremonies through the Native Men’s Residence, a shelter program in Toronto.“It allows me to cleanse myself, especially of those negative thoughts that keep coming back to me from time to time,” said the 56-year-old. “So the sweat lodge ceremony allows me to release those.“I’m really looking forward to my first sweat lodge ceremony at CAMH and to continue to use this important ceremony in my healing journey.”Linklater, an Anishinaabe from Rainy River First Nations in northwestern Ontario, said she believes Canadian society has become much more aware of the historical scars borne by First Nations, Metis and Inuit as a result of colonization, forced relocations of entire communities, the impact of residential schools and the mass apprehensions of Indigenous children in what’s known as the ’60s Scoop.“We know that this trauma does not resolve on its own, but rather intensifies and then becomes extended to the children and grandchildren,” she said.“And that’s why we feel that it’s really important that health services understand the impacts of multi-generational trauma and begin to offer services that are actually relevant and appropriate.”While the sweat lodge will initially be made available only to Indigenous clients, said Linklater, “we are certainly looking forward to a time when clients from other cultures can participate in our traditional healing processes.”
Brittany HobsonAPTN NewsAs the search continues for two men accused of killing three people in British Columbia, many are left wondering how the two are surviving the rough terrain of northern Manitoba.Kilometres of water and forest surround many of the communities, including Tataskweyak Cree Nation.The landscape offers a scenic view, but it also poses many risks for people who aren’t from the north.“As far as surviving out in the bush, I think that’s really dangerous if you’re not a northerner and you don’t know the area,” Tataskweyak resident Eunice Beardy told APTN News.Beardy grew up in the bush, as it is affectionately known as to locals.Much of northern Manitoba is made up of forested areas.It’s where an extensive search for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky has been taking place since last Wednesday.The two are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, and are considered suspects in the deaths of American Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, who is from Australia.RCMP had focused their search on Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation, but the vast area has proven difficult.Eunice Beardy grew up in the bush and says outsiders might not know how to survive. Photo: APTN.Beardy said there are a number of places the two could hide and survive.“There’s a lot of cabins out there and we leave stuff in the cabins. There’s food…[and] in some places they have their four wheelers outside the cabins,” she said.Without shelter the two are exposed to various elements such as bugs, animals and muskeg, a swampy-like marsh area.Ernest Bittern is a fisherman and trapper in Tataskweyak.He said the bush is no place for the inexperienced.“You got to know how to survive. Even when a person gets lost they start panicking,” he said.Ernest Bittern says fishing or hunting is a necessity for survival in the bush. Photo: APTN.Bittern said despite the rough terrain the two can survive if they find a reliable food source.“If they know how to catch fish there’s usually creeks where you can go down and grab a fish…or if they have some kind of weapon they could probably shoot an animal,” he said.Leadership in Tataskweyak told APTN the two fugitives came through the community last Monday before police announced they were suspects in the deaths.Robert Spence, a councillor, said they stopped to get gas before heading to Gillam, approximately 175 kilometres north of Tataskweyak.Their vehicle was found later that day burned out.When asked by reporters if the McLeod and Schmegelsky could be dead, RCMP said Wednesday it’s a possibility.“The north part of the province is a very unforgiving place…very challenging terrain. We’re keeping all possibilities in mind as we go forward,” said Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy.She also announced police would be scaling back their search efforts over the next email@example.com@bhobs22