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Windspeaker News Briefs - August
CHIEF SPEAKER... THAT’S THE NEW
name bestowed on Prime Minister Stephen Harper by the Blood Tribe of Alberta. Harper became an honorary member of the Kainai chieftanship July 11. By accepting his new name, Harper promises to promote the cultural pride of the Blackfoot and Kainai, as well as all First Nations. Honorary chiefs are expected to hold the headdress with the highest respect and be an available resource to First Nations. The chieftainship was bestowed at the request of Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head as a response to the 2008 apology by the prime minister to former students of Indian residential schools. “It is a great privilege to be named an honorary chief of Alberta’s Blood Tribe, a strong and proud First Nation,” said Harper. “I am particularly proud of this honour given it recognizes the efforts that our government has been taking to help preserve the rich culture and heritage of First Nations in Canada while also investing in the future of Aboriginal peoples.” He said he will carry the name Chief Speaker with “great joy and pride.” Please see photo on page 10.
IT WILL BE MONTHS BEFORE
Guy Lonechild, grand chief of the Federations of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), will learn his fate. A vote to impeach the chief was put on hold, despite 29 separate band resolutions calling for a non-confidence vote were brought against him at the July FSIN assembly held in Onion Lake, Sask. It takes 25 resolutions to force a vote. The two sides in the dispute will now go before the Indian Government Commission to state their case, and if approved, a special assembly to deal with a non-confidence motion will be held. Lonechild was convicted of drunk driving earlier this year, but what has stuck in the craw of some leaders is his alleged attempts to cover up the charges that were before him – a charge Lonechild has denied. Lonechild said he plans to remain at his post until fall 2012, but will not seek re-election.
MORE THAN 500 DEER LAKE RESIDENTS
were safely evacuated from their community in early July. The First Nation was threatened by forest fires burning as close as 3.5 kilometres from the remote northwest Ontario community. Chief Roy Meekis and band council requested the evacuation, and the province and its municipal and federal partners coordinated the airlift of residents to the regional municipality of Greenstone, 615 kilometres to the southeast. “Thank you to everyone involved in the safe evacuation of the Deer Lake community. The Canadian Forces responded to the request of help with professionalism and efficiency. They were vital to evacuating Deer Lake residents quickly and safely,” said Jim Bradley, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Other First Nations communities affected by the fires are Sandy Lake, Cat Lake, North Spirit Lake and Keewaywin.
ON JULY 5, ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Minister John Duncan congratulated the community of Kitigan Zibi, Que, on the completion of improvements to its drinking water and wastewater treatment system. The infrastructure improvements connect 40 per cent of existing buildings to a safe drinking water system, including 195 homes and a dozen community buildings such as the band school, the medical clinic, the police station and the community hall. “This project addressed a number of concerns expressed by members of the community regarding access to a drinking water system that would cover the greater proportion of our territory,” said Chief Gilbert W. Whiteduck. “It goes without saying that our community looked favorably on this investment as it contributed to improving the quality of life of all residents in Ktigan Zibi.” The initiative was made possible through an investment of $12 million.
THE CHIEF OF THE POUNDMAKER
First Nation and eight other people, all former or current band leaders or treaty entitlement trustees, are facing 47 charges relating to theft and fraud stemming from allegations of misappropriation of band and treaty Land Entitlement funds. The reserve is located east of Cut Knife, Sask. An investigation began in 2004 after Cut Knife RCMP received a complaint from a member of the nation. Government sources say Poundmaker settled with the government for $13,125,250 in 1992 and was one of the first of 25 First Nations to sign a Treaty Entitlement Framework Agreement. The Commercial Crime Section assumed responsibility for the investigation in 2006. Chief Duane Antoine, 51; Ted Antoine, 55; Colin Favel, 51; Bryan Tootoosis, 58 and Irene V. Tootoosis, 67, have been charged with two counts of theft over $5,000, two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of breach of trust by a public official and criminal breach of trust. Norman Antoine, 61; Hickson Weenie, 65; Burton Baptiste, 55 and Victoria McMillan, 66 have been charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and criminal breach of trust. They will make their first court appearance on Aug. 16 in Cut Knife.
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