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La Loche residents speak out as they brace for one-year anniversary of mass shooting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 13:53

Brenda Janvier and her granddaughter Zaila Kokan at the Kids First office in La Loche on Jan. 9. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski

As the anniversary of the La Loche mass shooting looms closer, a number of community-minded residents are speaking up about how the past year has gone for them.

Brenda Janvier is among those worried about how local residents are rebounding after the mass shooting that killed four people in La Loche last January. She has grandchildren who attend high school at the La Loche Community School’s Dene Building, which is where the shooter opened fire and killed two staff members after killing two teen boys in a home in the community.

“It’s pretty hard for those that are directly impacted by that day. We’re trying to cope as best as we can and I know with resources not always readily available in the community, it makes it harder,” Janvier said.

Specifically, she said she knows school staff who were present during the shooting who now need to drive a long way – either to Prince Albert, Saskatoon or North Battleford - to receive extra counselling.

Janvier sits on school-community council and is a part of an education subcommittee that was formed after the shooting.

On Monday, she was at the Dene Building where local leadership held a news conference to voice their concerns.

Community member Violet Lemaigre also sat in on the conference, and agrees with what leaders are saying about a lack of long-term solutions for the outstanding social issues that have come to light with the national media and government attention La Loche has received.

“You move on and go on with your daily life because that’s what you do. But when it comes to really dealing with the issues, that’s not happening. We’re all, speaking for myself, in survival mode.”

She came to the event to see for herself what has been happening in the community as a result of the events of Jan. 22 of last year, and remains critical of what leadership is doing.

“We get on with our lives because what else do we do, right? But what else is there in our community to help us recover?” she asked.

“From the sounds of it, a lot has been happening, just it hasn’t been made known to the community.”

At the conference, the friendship centre's Leonard Montgrand said the people of La Loche need more than just government.

“We can’t depend on one or two individuals to make a change in the whole community. It takes a community to change a community and we have to buy into that concept as community members,” he said.

Lemaigre agrees, but since the immediate aftermath of the meeting she hasn't seen much participation at meetings she's attended.

“Most recently there was a meeting in regards to suicide prevention. There was just a handful there,” she said.

Janvier said she is “dreading” heading into 22nd, but “at the same time it would be good to see us move beyond that day.”

The province says deputy ministers have been planning to visit La Loche next Monday to hold meetings on housing, infrastructure, education and health.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 13:57
Aboriginal group fights to have its voice heard PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:22

Photo courtesy of abo-peoples.org

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples got some special attention from the Prime Minister yesterday, but the group is in a fight with other Aboriginal organizations for a spot at the national bargaining table.

Congress Vice President, Kim Beaudin and President, Robert Bertrand, had a sit down with the Prime Minister and Indigenous Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, in what will be yearly meetings.

Much of the talk was about last year’s Supreme Court ruling called the Daniels decision.

In it, the Supreme Court ruled Metis and non-status Indians have the same rights as status Indians, and should be recognized as such under the constitution. It was a case that was championed by the Congress.

Beaudin says it is not always been easy for the congress to get its voice heard.

"It has certainly been a struggle, there is no question about it," he said. "But with our new leadership in place, Chief Bertrand and myself, I believe that things are going to change."

Beaudin says one thing he would like to see change is the dissention within the ranks of groups representing Indigenous people.

He says the assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council and the group representing Inuit, do not want the congress to be part of national discussions on Indigenous matters.

"Well, what we have figured out is the premiers are on board, they believe that CAP and the Native Women's Association of Canada should be at the table and yet we have these three amigos -- these three organizations that are saying we shouldn’t be there, so it’s going to be interesting."

The congress will be holding a conference on the Daniels decision in March. The prime minister has an open invitation to attend.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:29
FSIN responds to federal cabinet shift PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Tuesday, 10 January 2017 17:05

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. MBC file photo.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron is issuing a response to the federal cabinet shift, which was announced on Tuesday.

While many are focusing on the announcement that MP Chrystia Freeland is taking over the portfolio from former Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

In fact, now Dione is saying he plans to leave politics.

For Chief Bobby Cameron, the big headline with that of Labour and Employment MaryAnn Mihychuk is being replaced.

In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, Cameron says he's established a good working relationship with Mihychuk in her year or so in the post, and thanks her for the time and energy she put into the file. Just last month, Mihychuk addressed the Assembly of First Nations national chief conference, saying it was high time that Aboriginal workers got the respect they deserve.

Cameron chairs the First Nations Education portfolio and the Aboriginal Skills, Education and Training Strategy (ASETS) file, and said he'll continue to focus on treaty rights to participate in the economy with the new minister, Patty Hajdu.

He said they will work in collaboration “to increase our Inherent and Treaty right to participation in the economy and workforce while increasing the employability and overall health and wellbeing of our First Nations.”

He’s extended an invitation for Minister Hajdu to attend an AFN Forum in Saskatoon, which starts Feb. 7.

Overall, Cameron said he welcomes new cabinet members, and the opportunity to build nation-to-nation relationships.

Other big changes will include Former Immigration Minister John McCallum leaving political life to become Canada's new ambassador to China.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2017 17:12
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