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Alberta News Briefs [November]
Janvier presented with provincial Order of Excellence
First Nations artist Alex Janvier accepted his Order of Excellence from Lt. Gov. Donald Ethell at the ceremony held at Government House on Oct. 20. He was among eight Albertans to be presented with the province’s top honour. Also receiving the award was former Premier Ralph Klein. Janvier, of Cold Lake First Nations, has received numerous awards for his lifelong contribution to the arts, including Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary as well as the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2008 and the Order of Canada in 2007.
NSD report expected this month or next
A report from the inquiry team tasked with making recommendations for changes in Northland School Division isn’t expected until November or December according to the Edmonton Journal. In an earlier interview with Sweetgrass in April, inquiry team chair Dave Van Tamelen said he expected to deliver the report to the minister of education at the end of September. Minister David Hancock replaced the NSD corporate board with trustee Colin Kelly in January. Kelly’s appointment stands until the general school board elections of 2013.
Whitehead re-elected for Treaty 8
Chief Joe Whitehead Jr. of Woodland Cree First Nation was re-elected Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations, which includes 25 First Nations. Whitehead Jr., who has been chief of the Woodland Cree for 12 years, has served as Grand Chief for five years. This is the start of his third term in the position.
Red Deer Native Friendship Centre encourages Aboriginal voting
Prior to the municipal and school board elections, the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre held two events in an attempt to increase voter turnout from the Aboriginal community. The centre hosted a voting workshop and election candidates talking circle to educate Aboriginals on the municipal voting process. “In that way, we listen to each other and have a better understanding of how to vote and who to vote for on election day. And also to empower people to feel they can go and vote. It’s one way of having the Aboriginal voice heard,” Tanya Schur, centre program director, told the Red Deer Advocate. The centre also offered rides to polling stations on Oct. 18.
Audit sought for Fort McKay band
The $250,000 buy-out of the former executive director of the Fort McKay First Nations satellite company, the Industry Relations Corporation, has been met by protests. A handful of band members gathered in front of the band office on Oct. 20 demanding a forensic audit of the books. Along with protesting the buy-out, other concerns voiced were the outsourcing of administration jobs, unfair bidding processes for contracts, and lack of transparency on how band money is spent, reported the Fort McMurray Today. The IRC, a committee which dealt with the oil sands industry, was dissolved by council.
Rupertsland Institute receives ASETS funding
The federal government announced last month that the Rupertsland Institute will receive support to design and deliver labour market programs and services to Aboriginal people in Alberta. Over 2,600 Aboriginal people are expected to find full-time jobs in industries where there are skills shortages or they will return to school. Strong partnerships with government, industry, educational and training institutions, and other community service providers will be created. It is expected that through these projects, Aboriginal people will find jobs in industries in which there are skills shortages. The Rupertsland Institute is a newly created affiliate of the Métis Nation of Alberta. The federal government is providing over $61 million for these projects through its Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit secure sustainable and meaningful employment.
TransAlta celebrates wind power
TransAlta Corp. marked its move to becoming Canada’s largest producers of wind power with a celebration Oct. 23 in Fort Mcleod, that included local landowners, community leaders, First Nations and wind industry players. TransAlta has 12 wind facilities in southern Alberta, which along with providing renewable electricity have enabled opportunities for rural economic development. “In less than 10 years, TransAlta has gone from zero to 1,000 MW to be Canada’s largest producer of wind power,” said Steve Snyder, TransAlta president and CEO.
Funding for drug intervention programs announced
The federal government is providing $6.5 million to Alberta Health Services for an early intervention drug treatment services project aimed at youth. The “In Roads” project will assist organizations that serve youth in trouble with the law, youth who are at-risk of being sexually exploited, who are homeless, or have mental or health concerns, by providing enhanced training for those who work in addictions and non-addictions settings. The federal government’s Treatment Action Plan under the National Anti-Drug Strategy provides $100M over five years in support of innovative and effective approaches to treating and rehabilitating individuals who pose a risk to themselves and others. This plan promotes collaboration among governments and supports agencies to increase access to drug treatment services as well as enhances treatment and support for First Nations and Inuit people; provides treatment programs for young offenders with drug-related problems; enables the RCMP to refer youth with drug-related problems to treatment programs; and supports research on new treatment models.
Making healthy lifestyle choices
New programs that teach positive lifestyle choices and build resistance to high-risk behaviours are being delivered to children and youth at Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Maskwacis Cree communities. The Alberta government has committed close to $4 million over three years to the programs through the Safe Communities grant. The University of Alberta is partnering with the First Nations to identify an effective program for substance abuse and violence prevention that could be delivered to children and youth in the community. The LifeSkills© program, is an internationally-developed, evidence-based program chosen by the university based on its effectiveness with school-aged children. Support is being provided by the Addiction and Mental Health Division of Alberta Health Services, to incorporate the language, visual images and cultural beliefs of each community into the program. The program was piloted in the fall of 2006 with elementary students at the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation school. The new funding will support the continued delivery of the program and pilot implementation with Maskwacis Cree communities.
Exclusive agreement signed between Dene Tha’, PTI
The Dene Tha’ First Nation has signed an exclusive business relationship and alliance agreement with PTI Group, a North American leader in the provision of modular workforce accommodations and catering services. PTI will work directly with the Dene Tha’s economic development corporation, the Ndeh Limited Partnership, to provide workforce accommodations and catering services to oil and gas companies working in the Horn River Basin. PTI and Ndeh will also collaborate on developing training and employment opportunities for those interested in food services and hospitality positions. “The relationship between PTI and the Dene Tha’ First Nation, through its Ndeh Limited Partnership, is a positive evolution in the methodology of economic engagement with First Nations. It is based on sound business practices, and seeking mutually beneficial outcomes through active participation of the partners,” said Pat Cabezas, CEO of Ndeh Limited Partnership, in a news release issued by PTI Group Inc. Sandy Sanderson, Director of Aboriginal Relations for PTI, said, “We believe we have aligned with a partner that shares our commitment to building a successful relationship and who is like-minded in their determination to bring long lasting benefits to the Nation.”
Compiled by Shari Narine
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