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Film exposes dark legacy of Indian agent’s pass system PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fraser Needham   
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 14:35

A new documentary looks at the dark legacy of the Canadian government’s “pass system.”

The pass system was a method used by local Indian agents for over six decades to restrict the movement of First Nations people on and off their home reserves.

The film is produced by documentary filmmaker Alex Williams and he says the Indian Act, pass and permit systems were all used by government officials as a means of oppressively controlling the lives of Indigenous people.

“They were controlling people in different ways and controlling travel in different ways,” he says. “So, again, if it quacks like a duck, basically, it’s still control.”

Retired RCMP officer Jacob Peete of the Little Pine First Nation is one of the people featured in the film.

He says he hopes the documentary draws attention to the non-Aboriginal public of this little known dark practice of the Canadian government.

“My grandfather had to live through this thing, my father lived through that thing, I lived through the permit system when I was a young man,” Peete says. “I always said those things are wrong, they can’t be right.”

Peete also says he is not surprised that records and documents of the pass system are hard to find.

Since the system was never passed into legislation and therefore effectively illegal, he says Indian agents were often told to destroy documentation when an office closed.

In 1941, then head of Indian Affairs Harold McGill sent a letter to Indian agents telling them to stop using the pass system but the practice carried on for a number of decades after that.

The pass system was first instituted in 1885 after the Riel Rebellion although it has been historically proven First Nations people played very little role in the uprising.

For more information on the documentary, and to find out about local screenings, check out the website here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 14:45
U of S national forum on reconciliation told about role of education PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mervin Brass, Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 12:51

The head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair, speaks to the leaders of Canada's universities. Photo by Mervin Brass

Education is the key to reconciliation.

That was the main message this morning at the University of Saskatchewan's "Building Reconciliation" national forum on post-secondary education.

One by one, guest speakers spoke about education and the importance it will have on the reconciliation process.

The head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair, says Canada's education system missed out on the opportunity to teach students the proper relationship with Indigenous people.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says universities have a big role to play in reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

In a passion-filled speech, Bellegarde told the crowd why it's so important to act on those calls to action.

And Bellegarde says it won't be easy - adding that to move forward, we must confront and conquer fundamental misconceptions about history.

He uses the doctrine of discovery as an example. Bellegarde says the idea that Canada was "discovered" by explorers needs to be dismissed.

"Changing the curriculum is very fundamental and key to bring about reconciliation in Canada, teaching treaties. And as well the residential schools have to be taught, and the impacts of the residential schools have to be taught," he said.

He also pointed out the importance of teaching languages like Cree and Dene.

Metis Nation - Saskatchewan president Robert Doucette says his people have been forgotten in the reconciliation process.

Doucette made it clear to those attending Wednesday's gathering that the TRC report barely mentions the Metis people.

"The day schools that we went to, that our relations went to, that my grandfather went to - Beardy's - the Metis people have been left out. And that's a mark on this country that I think has to be dealt with, in a good way," he said. "If we're going to live in peace, unlike other parts of the world that we see right now, we all have to be partners in reconciliation."

Meanwhile, twenty-four different post-secondary schools signed an agreement committing to closing the Aboriginal education gap this morning.

University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff made the announcement at the forum.

The commitment includes three universities, eight regional colleges and six U of S-affiliated colleges.

Stoicheff previously told MBC that the conference is committed to solid tactics to answer the TRC's call for action in regards to post-secondary education.

He says the comments from Justice Sinclair stood out for him.

Stoicheff says Sinclair's message - education is a key to reconciliation - reminds the university of the significant role it plays in reconciliation.

"Learn to make this work. Learn to keep doing this, because this, now, is an ongoing commitment that you have to hold to. You have to keep this up. Whatever it is that comes out of this day, don't let it be the only discussion," Sinclair told the crowd.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 14:50
Tazi Twe hydro project results expected by day's end PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kelly Provost   
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 10:41

We should know by the end of the day whether a major water diversion project will proceed on the Black Lake First Nation.

The Tazi Twe Hydroelectric Project is being put to a community vote today. A simple majority is all that's needed for the project to go through.

If approved, it will become the first hydro project in the province to be situated entirely on reserve land.  The band and SaskPower will be joint owners -- with the band scheduled to receive well over $1 billion in financial benefits over the 90-year life of the project.

Band chief Rick Robillard says it's difficult to imagine a better opportunity coming the band's way.

"Our mandate was to push this economic development dream further," he says. "And now that we're here today, we hope that the people of the Black Lake First Nation will make an informed decision whether to approve this project or we don't. But if this project doesn't proceed, then when do we see another project like this?"

SaskPower will still need to get cabinet approval even if Black Lake band members vote in favour of proceeding.

Construction could begin as early as next year and the plant could start producing electricity by 2020.

For more information on how to vote, check out the project's Facebook page here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 12:51
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