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Windspeaker news briefs - July
Chiefs support request for public inquiry
A letter was sent June11 to Nova Scotia Premier Darryl Dexter asking for a public inquiry into the death of Wagmatcook First Nation member John Simon who was fatally shot by RCMP. An RCMP constable was called to Simon’s house on Dec. 2, 2008 where he climbed through a window to deal with a man who was allegedly drunk, suicidal and armed. The constable ended up shooting Simon dead. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs are calling into question the handling of the police investigation into the event, conducted by the Halifax police service. A lawyer for Wagmatcook said it is believed they missed key evidence.
The assembly is not satisfied that the investigation now promised by the RCMP’s public complaints commission will be adequate saying that it will be conducted behind closed doors and without the tough questions that could come through a public process. The assembly also says that the investigation will be limited to an examination of the conduct of RCMP members only, and not include the role of the Halifax Police Service. The assembly wishes to have a “complete record of the circumstances,” and that won’t be accomplished with the private investigation, they conclude. They liken the Simon shooting and subsequent investigation to the Robert Dziekanski death and inquiry. Dziekanski died after being tasered a number of times by RCMP at the Vancouver International Airport.
Bright light dimmed by automobile accident
Shannen Koostachin, who helped lead the fight for a school in Attawapiskat, was killed in a car accident on May 31. She was 15. The work she did on behalf of the Attawapiskat children resulted in her being nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize.
“Shannen inspired youth across Canada,” said the NDP’s Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins James Bay, who said he is devastated by the loss. “She was so passionate about the right of Cree children on the James Bay coast to have the same educational opportunities as other kids. It was amazing to see her stand up to government ministers with such fierce pride and determination. I was honored to know her.”
The fight for a school in Attawapiskat quickly snowballed into a massive letter-writing and public awareness campaign. The campaign, which utilized digital organizing tools like facebook and youtube, drew thousands of youth across Canada. The campaign became the largest youth-driven, child’s rights movement in Canadian history. The children were ultimately victorious when the government agreed in December 2009 to finally build a school in the community.
A scholarship fund in memory of Shannen Koostachin is being set up through the office of MP Charlie Angus and the First Nation Child and Family Service in Ottawa.
Métis leader smack-down in Saskatchewan
Métis Nation - Saskatchewan (MNS) President Robert Doucette is refusing to go quietly, rejecting calls for his resignation. “I’m proud of the many accomplishments, and this nation is only getting started,” Doucette said, defiant. Nine of 16 directors of the MNS want Doucette and vice-president Allan Morin gone, saying they were not accountable and weren’t holding enough meetings to consult with them. Doucette said the disgruntled directors are just angry because they didn’t get plum portfolio assignments. Director Helene Johnson responded to that charge by saying Doucette and his friends have not revealed key information about MNS finances. “I want to know what’s going on. I want the books opened,” said Johnson, who attended a news conference called by Doucette on June 14. “I don’t know how that money’s being spent.”
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