Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category.

All I want for Christmas… from your hard-working, loyal civil servant

bob_parliamenthillPublic servants are among the most hard working people in the world. We’re up early – usually in the office before the sun peaks over the horizon. Sometimes we forgo our lunch just to catch up on things. Breaks… what’s that? Very often we work late into the evening without overtime pay or any other reward.

Our bosses – our Chiefs, Ministers or even leaders a little further up the telephone directory hierarchy, are equally hard working and dedicated.

Many of us are not in it for the reward, the power or the limelight. We do this work for the people at home, our children, our grandchildren, our families, our communities and our Nation. I Love what I do because I know it will lead to positive changes for First Nations and improve the lives of Anishinaabeg everywhere.

…And then we read social media.

We hear from people who describe themselves as warriors – as righteous defenders of our Nations – whose only weapon is negativity and not-so-coherent verbosity. Arm-chair critics, without any facts, spewing their vitriol at the world claiming it’s for the greater good. There are those that post the profane one-liners. There are others that see themselves as activists, who make use of blogs, skewed media sources, shoddy research and speculation to make their case to the world. Keep in mind that 90 per cent of the content on the internet is either someone’s opinion, it’s inaccurate, out-of-context or just plain fiction. (To make the point even further, I freely admit I made up that statistic. I bolded it, just to emphasize my point. Now you’re going back to re-read the sentence. Now you’re working it out in your head. This is not a Jedi mind trick.)

I digress.

We need government. We need leadership. We need a public service, both First Nations and mainstream, to do the work of the people. We need people to provide sound public policy research, analysis and options and a second and third look at legislation, regulations and policies. We’re not simply spinning our wheels and collecting a paycheque.

Instead of clicking and clacking, join a committee, attend a seminar, read real research. Provide some informed public comment that just might contribute to constructive dialogue on important public policy matters. Ask questions, provide your feedback, ask for an update, provide a suggestion. Our work is not secret. In fact, we’re always seeking new ways to communicate our work to our constituency.

All I want for Christmas is goodwill toward men and women, including your public service.

National Chief Bellegarde appoints new Chief-of-Staff

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Bob Goulais and National Chief Perry Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) ― Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Chief of Staff who will be responsible for implementation of his political agenda affecting First Nation across Canada. Bob Goulais, an Anishinaabe from Nipissing First Nation in Ontario, brings a great deal of experience with indigenous organizations, government and the private sector to the AFN. Goulais will assume his new duties on November 7, 2016.

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Bob Goulais as my Chief of Staff. I have great confidence in his abilities and appreciate the diverse skillset he brings to my office,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “He will play a key role in providing strategic advice, political advice and advancing our agenda.”

“There is an unprecedented opportunity for First Nations in Canada to influence the public policy landscape and implement positive change for our peoples,” said Bob Goulais. “I look forward to the challenge of this important position and supporting the National Chief in representing First Nations rights, interests and perspectives.”

“This is an exciting time for the Assembly of First Nations, where we are solidifying corporate and political leadership with the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer and my Chief of Staff,” said National Chief Bellegarde. Mr. Goulais joins Ms. Judy White, a Mi’kmaq from Flat Bay, who assumed the office of CEO on October 31.

Mr. Goulais is an experienced senior executive, public servant and professional communicator who has provided more than 20 years of service to industry, non-for-profit, First Nations and government. Throughout his career, Goulais has excelled in situations requiring significant change management, organizational development and community engagement. Goulais recently served as President of Nbisiing Consulting Inc., the founding Director of Aboriginal Relations for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Senior Communications Advisor to the Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Manager of Cultural Policy and Strategic Policy and Planning for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and Chief of Staff for the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde has also expressed his gratitude to former Acting Chief of Staff Wendy Moss for filling the role for the past five months.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Building Indigenous Capacity in Trust Management

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12th annual Aboriginal Trust and Investment Workshop
October 26-27, 2016
Vancouver, BC

There’s no more important skill for indigenous administrators than managing finances.  Making these even more complex are the numerous requirements of a community trust.  First Nations are not simple entities. Modern indigenous communities and organizations can be quite sophisticated, managing millions of dollars including diverse interests and investment portfolios.

If any of this applies to your community, you might be thinking of developing your own community’s capacity and skills in managing community investments and trusts.

The 12th annual Aboriginal Trust and Investment Workshop is taking place from October 26-7 in Vancouver, BC. This annual event is one of Canada’s premier trust and investment conferences linking First Nations trustees and investment managers, lands staff and financial staff with a wealth of Canada’s top advisors in the areas of trusteeship and wealth managers. The workshop is designed to educate and engage participants in discussion on the fundamentals of Aboriginal settlement trusts and investment management.

  • Effectively Manage and Invest Settlement
  • Capital and Resource Revenue
  • Learn about Successful Strategies from Communities across Canada
  • Meet leading Tax, Trust Law, and Investment Experts
  • Building Endowments from Resource Revenue Impact and ESG Investing
  • Legislative and regulatory compliance for Canadian Trusts
  • Fiduciary Duty & conflict of Interest
  • The “Investment Challenge Game”
  • Appropriate Business Structures
  • Impact Benefit Agreements and Industry Partnerships
  • Special Keynote Speakers

To register or for more information visit: http://www.aboriginaltrustandinvestment.com.

I’ve finally got it! The TV Train Wreck Factor

donaldtrainFor over a year, I’ve been trying to understand America’s fascination and support of “The Donald”.  Could it simply be mob mentality?  Perhaps.  Can it be a lack of intellect or common-sense?  No comment.  Can it be that the ultra-conservative movement and Republican ideology is finally coming into it’s own and it’s actually that ridiculous?  That’s certainly viable.

This morning, I finally put my finger on it!

What do Sanjaya, William Hung, the Pants-on-the-Ground guy, any “Real Housewife” of anyplace, and pretty much every reality show (including Celebrity Apprentice) have in common?  They’re all train wrecks.  Some ridiculous.  Some loveable.  But train wrecks nonetheless.

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America loves train wrecks.  (Why else would someone watch Fox News?)  Grassroots republicans are in on the goof.  Primary voters were in on the goof.  They just need to watch.

It’s also feeds an addiction.  They have to keep watching, voting and attending rallies in order to get more of what they love.  The more ridiculous it gets, the more viewers they get.  The more they support him, the more antics and ridiculousness they get in return. Bewildering policy ideas, overt bigotry, fear-mongering, the thin-skin rapport, the luscious maliciousness… all perfect fodder for the mindless, live TV audience.

That’s why, I predict that tonight’s Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most watched political event in television history.  After all, it has potential for the biggest televised train wreck of the week.

The big question is: will Americans continue the goof?  Do they really want to see a train wreck of a President clashing with world-leaders?  Taking the Trump show on the world stage.  Do they really want to see what he’ll do next?

Stay tuned.  Viewer discretion advised.

(Apologies to all survivors of real train wrecks.  No real trains were harmed in the writing of this blog.)

Premier Wynne issues apology over residential schools

A recording of the historic apology this morning in the Ontario Legislature.

Please Mr. Trudeau, I want some more

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Let me get this straight!?!

The Trudeau government commits $8.4 billion in the federal budget towards indigenous communities, infrastructure and social programs.

They’ve restored the full Kelowna Accord fiscal commitment of $5 billion plus over $3 billion dollars more!!  The Kelowna Accord was brokered by First Nations leadership themselves.

That’s somewhere north of 21 times of any commitment made by the previous Harper government.

Is Kelowna your benchmark?  Or is Stephen Harper your benchmark?  Take your pick.

Even if you factor in the criticism that much of these commitments will be pushed out beyond the next election, that’s still way more funding ever allocated in the federal budget in the history of Canada.

Yet, for some of our leaders, it’s still not enough.  Some have even criticized Justin Trudeau over it.

Dependant anyone???

Surely, there must be some way that First Nations leaders can work with this puny morsel of funding?  Maybe we can’t all give Prime Minister Trudeau a headdress, but maybe, just maybe, he earned one this week.

How about a pat on the back? A handshake of thanks?  Any semblance of appreciation for going above and beyond any other Prime Minister has ever gone towards helping and working with our communities?

No way.  That’s not our style.

“Please, Sir.  I want some more.”

Nipissing First Nation: Want to actively help get rid of Stephen Harper? Here’s how.

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Stephen Harper and Patrick Brazeau.

My dear Nbisiing Anishinaabeg:

Please take a few minutes to consider this call to action.  It’s such an important time where we all need to do our part, to work together, to get rid of Stephen Harper and his insensitive, reckless and irresponsible government that has absolutely no care or concern for Anishinaabe families.

Several prominent community members and myself have been working to help our good friend Anthony Rota to take back the Nipissing-Timiskaming riding from Harper back-bencher Jay Aspin.

Harper, Aspin and the Conservative government have refused to work with First Nation on a nation-to-nation basis, choosing unilateral and arbitrary means to further their agenda.  An agenda that has seen them kill the $5 billion Kelowna Accord, a blind refusal to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, stripping environmental laws meant to protect fresh water, and cutting millions of dollars from First Nations organizations across the country.

Here’s what we need to know about the October 19, 2015 federal election:

  1. We need to take action. Stephen Harper has to go. So we must all do our part to help make that happen. What can you do?
  2. We need to vote strategically. In our riding, the last election was decided by only 18 votes. If we are to use “strategic voting” we can take a seat away from the Harper government. In our riding, strategic voting means that we all need to vote Liberal. In our riding, if you vote NDP or Green, you are helping re-elect the Conservatives.  See http://www.strategicvoting.ca/districts.html.
  3. We need to help our friends. As a community, we should support our friend and our biggest supporter. No MP or local candidate has been a better friend, supporter and stuck with us through thick and thin than Anthony Rota. He’s really been there for our First Nation as an MP and a community leader. Even during the past four, hard years, Anthony’s been here and we can count on him. Anybody remember Rona Eckhert, Dave Fluri, Dianna Allen, Art Campbell, Wendy Young or Dawson Pratt??? Me neither. But Anthony will be here for our community, doing what he does best, regardless of the election result.

Do you want to know what you can do to help get rid of Stephen Harper?  Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time with the Anthony Rota campaign.

We need some Nbisiing Anishinaabeg to help out with the following:

  • Making phone calls to potential supporters.
  • Canvassing our community door-to-door.
  • Delivering lawn signs to homes in our community.
  • Acting as election day volunteers.
  • Being a scrutineer or poll agent on behalf of the campaign.

No experience is necessary. It does help if you have a car or a ride to the Campaign office in North Bay.  You’ll receive a little bit of training then you’ll be set to work with a lot of good, friendly and like-minded people.

If you can help out, please call Bob Goulais at (705) 805-9242 or e-mail me: info@bobgoulais.com.

Miigwetch. Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

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Bob Goulais, Tory Fisher, Trish Cowie, Anthony Rota, Marianna Couchie, Chief Scott McLeod, Robin McLeod

 

Gill nets, check. Time to turn our attention to combatting a more pressing issue: Racism..

racismNow that a solution to the Lake Nipissing fishery is in motion, it’s time to turn our collective efforts towards addressing the other, more significant issue that came about during the Lake Nipissing fisheries crisis.

On a regular basis, First Nation people in Nipissing First Nation have faced blatant, hard-hitting criticism and racism arising from the fisheries debate. Racism has manifest itself by becoming socially acceptable in everyday dialogue and among users of social media.

The health of Lake Nipissing is a serious issue and addressing the fishery needs to happen. But this issue pales in comparison to the issue of racism, discrimination and hatred. This has far greater negative impact on our society and on our people.

Racism in any of its forms is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with. There is an urgent need for a focussed anti-racism initiative in North Bay to address the fall-out from the fisheries issue and bridge the gap between the Anishinaabe community and our neighbours.

We need to build on the good work that has already taken place and address this heinous monster that has reared it’s ugly head.

Don Curry, Executive Director of the North Bay Multi-Cultural Centre and Maurice Switzer, a renowned Mississauga public educator, have done a commendable job in exploring the topic a few years back. I was proud to be a part of the important work that was done to analyze the issue of racism targeting Anishinaabe people. However, specific and comprehensive follow-up to their study has not taken place, mainly due to funding constraints.

I feel that a new, and focussed anti-racism initiative should encompass Treaty education, Canadian-Aboriginal history, a cultural exchange and focussed and wide-spread Anishinaabe awareness training. It should be integrated in the schools, as well as with businesses and community organizations. It should focus on healing and fostering understanding between our communities. It should also involve feasting and celebrating – and the best parts of Anishinaabe culture.

The youth and Elders should be a part of such an initiative. The initiative should be based in the culture and values of our people – so that we may share the beauty or our ways of life to all people in our area.

We aren’t just spears and gill nets. We don’t let our fish rot and we don’t waste fish. We are a kind, generous and hospitable people, wanting to share with our neighbours.

We have a lot to share, including the realities and facts about Aboriginal law and our perspectives on our rights.

Aboriginal and Treaty rights are as inalienable as the right to free speech, the right to religion and the right to liberty and freedom. They’re rights that come from the Creator and are very sacred to us.

But on a regular basis during this fisheries crisis, we’ve seen finger pointing. We’ve seen people calling for the arbitrary elimination of our rights. We’ve seen our neighbours generalize about our people using contemporary stereotypes and highly racialized commentary.

The sad reality is that many of these people don’t understand or don’t care that Aboriginal and Treaty rights are legal rights. They are a part of Canadian law, defended in the Supreme Court and protected by the Constitution.

The subject of eliminating the legal rights of another, by arbitrary act of an oppressor, is not and should not be acceptable commentary.

I’m very concerned that such commentary and unchecked racism is becoming wider spread, socially acceptable and is reinforcing intolerant attitudes in the community.

If you hear something, no matter how heinous, over and over again, it starts to seem okay. It seems acceptable to use disparaging comments on a public Facebook page, or in the online comments section. Everyone else is doing it, so others feel they can vent their vitriol, ignorance and hostility of First Nations. I find this unacceptable, offensive and hurtful. It is wrong.

Anishinaabe children hear that they are the cause of “a slaughter” on the Lake. They open Facebook and read that they are “raping” the Lake.

These are words from the very people organizing on social media. These are also the people on stage, at the front of the crowd, inciting action from dozens of angry residents. If this were the south, fifty years ago, they would conclude their rally by marching into Duchesnay Village looking for someone to make a example of.

All Canadians and all local residents, need to stand up and say something about such racist commentary and attitudes. People shouldn’t sit idly by and be complacent when seeing and reading this kind of racism.

We need to learn from history.

For a generation, people on the outskirts of Brantford watched, day-after-day, First Nations children marched into the Mush Hole (a residential school) and didn’t say anything.

During the war, people in eastern Europe seen trainloads of Jewish people, being shipped off in railway cars bound for extermination camp, and didn’t do anything.

Today, thousands of social media users, right here in our area, see and read these comments, week after week. And didn’t say anything about it.

It’s not right. It can’t be right. But it’s happening right here, right now, in our area, by our neighbours. We all have to do something about it.

I wish to say a heartfelt ‘chi-miigwetch’ (big thank) to those social media users and good neighbours who stand up for what is right and say something about racism. There are still a lot of good people out there.

When it comes to the fisheries issues, we are all on the same side. We want to find out who is responsible for these offenses and bring them to justice. We want to see our Lake flourish and see the walleye restored to abundance and health. There are many of us are happy to see our First Nation ban gill nets and see the commercial fishery curbed. But none of this should come at the expense of our rights or the dignity of Nbisiing Anishinaabeg people.

Nbisiing Women speak out to leading candidate for Chief

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Scott McLeod

Scott McLeod proposes to establish a forum for Women, Elders and Youth

The women of Nipissing First Nation will be a strong voice to hear from in this week’s election for Chief and Council.  Scott McLeod, the leading candidate for Chief, has heard from a number of Nbisiing kwewag over the course of his campaign and through a survey sent out recently.

“It’s clear to me that women in Nipissing First Nation are expecting to be heard on a great number of issues facing our community,” said Scott McLeod, Crane Clan and a direct descendant of Chief Shabogesic. “I think it’s important that we establish and support a specific forum for the women to participate and show their concerns to Chief and Council.”

Scott expressed a few kind words for the role of women in his life and the life of the community.

“We depend so much on their advice, direction and in how they care for and nurture our community. They are also our life givers – caretakers for the Lake, the water and Mother Earth. We have to honour them in their role as leaders in the community,” said Scott.

Scott McLeod has also voiced his support for an Elder’s Forum and a Youth Forum that will provide a voice directly to Chief and Council, and when required, the community, and governance functions.

“To me, this is a logical direction in self-government and grass-roots representation. This is what the community is asking for and expecting of their government.”

Scott was happy to share some of the interim results of the Nipissing First Nation Women’s Survey as well as some of the comments that struck a chord with him.

“As we establish and continue with an ongoing Women’s Forum, we’ll hear from more and more from Nipissing First Nation women, their perspectives and their issues,” concluded Scott.

  • Election Day, Friday, July 10 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. in Garden Village and Duchesnay.

For more information:


 

INTERIM RESULTS OF THE NIPISSING FIRST NATION WOMEN’S SURVEY

The following results of the survey and shared comments may not represent the views of all Nipissing First Nation women nor are they an exhaustive list of issues important to Nbisiing kwewag.  If you are a Nipissing First Nation woman and are interested in providing your views, you are invited to fill out the survey.

Ranking of Women’s Issues in Nipissing First Nation

ISSUE SCORE RANK
Education of our children, taking care of the youth. 100 1
As women & caretakers of the water & the Lake, being more involved in the fisheries discussions from a women’s perspective. 81 2
Safety, addressing family violence & missing and murdered Aboriginal women. 76 3
Our Nbisiing culture & Ojibwemowin language 60 4
Being coming more involved in NFN business & having a forum to discuss women’s issues 58 5

Comments from the Women’s Survey

  • “Creation of a Women’s Council where our opinions on critical decisions are included and acted upon.”
  • “Job creation or training should be one of the highest priorities. You can’t create a job for everyone here but if they were trained themselves, they would have a better chance of getting a job somewhere.”
  • “I would say the highest priority are our waters and lakes. Without them we cannot take care of our children, families or any issues of any kind. Our culture is so important. We must do everything we can to preserve it.”
  • “For me it is being treated fairly. It shouldn’t matter what your name is or what family your belong to. Treat all people with respect no matter what area or side of the Nipissing First Nation you were raised and grew up in.”
  • “Discussions regarding Elders/Long-Term Care facilities would be an important issue.”
  • “Membership, passing status to our children and grandchildren and the one parent rule.”
  • “I find that the most important issue I have is being able to have a roof over my children’s heads and food on the table and knowing that my children are safe in their environment. I would move back to Nipissing if there were more affordable housing and jobs that I would be qualified for so I can support my family while living in the community.”
  • “I feel that substance abuse is huge with NFN women! We have so many women who are losing their children to foster cares outside of NFN due to drug use. We need more help with woman for substance abuse, more involvement with parenting and we need a women’s shelter in the Garden Village area.”
  • “For me, the most important issue is my children having an education that is rich in our culture and teachings, provided in Anishinaabemowin. They need to grow and learn in safe, culturally oriented environments, where we can teach them to be safe and respectful, and instill pride in who they are as Anishinaabe.”
  • “Expanding upon Nbisiing Secondary school to include all grades and provide language immersion.

Scott McLeod represents real change. That’s why I’m For Scott.

ImForScott

Ahniin-Boozhoo Nbisiing Anishinaabeg, niin dwaymaaginidoog minwaa niikaanisidoog.  Mno Canada-giizhgad.

(Ed. Note:  This post turned out a little longer than I wanted in a Canada Day message because the message is so important.  Please make sure you read and respond to the “Call To Action” below.)

Canada Day is a good time to reflect on our own Nationhood as Anishinaabe people.  And not just because we may be taking the holiday off.

Whether you are a citizen of Nipissing First Nation, another First Nation community, the Anishinabek Nation or one of the many indigenous nations from sea to shining sea – all indigenous people should give serious thought to our own survival in the face of continued attempts at assimilation, racism and challenges to our sovereignty.

We also have to give careful thought to the selection of our leaders.  Our leaders, our Gimaag and Gimaakwewag, are the people that we entrust with defending our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, facilitating change and determining a course of action for our communities as we move towards Anishinaabe self-government.

On July 10, Nipissing First Nation has an election.  For the first time in nine years we are electing a new Chief to lead us through one the most difficult times that our community has faced.  These include serious challenges to our inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  Outsiders are calling for an end to our legal rights.  We are facing blatant racism from our neighbours.  Those attitudes are being perpetuated by social media, the mainstream media and so-called stakeholder organizations.  There is a serious issue to deal with in restoring the health of Lake Nipissing, building our economy and finding alternative and well-paying jobs to the commercial fishery.  This is a serious time for us in Nipissing.  We have to get this right!

My fellow Nbisiing men and women:

  • We need a Chief that has the strength and competency to lead us through this important period of change.
  • We need someone that will listen and care for our people.
  • We need someone who has the energy, resilience and youthfulness to keep up with the grinding days, weeks, months and years ahead.
  • Most importantly, we need someone who hasn’t been beleaguered and gun-shy by the inaction of their counterparts.

Electing an incumbent Councillor as our Chief is NOT change.  It’s the same old, same old.  We need someone who can confidently facilitate real change. Period.  Full stop!!

For heaven’s sake, please don’t mark an ‘X’ next to a name just because you’ve been doing it for years or because you’ve been comfortable with them for years as a Councillor.  Don’t vote for anyone just because they are a nice guy.  They’re all nice guys.  And don’t just vote for someone because they are your cousin.  An election shouldn’t be a popularity contest.  This is a serious time for us in Nipissing.  We have to get this right!

To me, given what I’ve said in a previous post, Scott McLeod is the only choice for Chief of Nipissing First Nation.

A CALL TO ACTION

Please join me, as we launch the slogan: “I’m For Scott”.

  1. Please share this post, create your own Facebook status update, a Twitter tweet or social media post saying “I’m For Scott”.  Let people know that you support real change by electing Scott McLeod.
  2. In your Facebook and social media posts, please use the hashtag:  #ImforScott
  3. Please post or share the I’m For Scott image (above).  Use it as your Profile Pic until July 10 at 8 p.m.
  4. Go to Scott’s Facebook page and hit “Like”.
  5. Share this post via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Show your support for Scott McLeod.  Be vocal and speak up, let your friends know that: “I’m For Scott”.

These little actions can go a long way in ensuring that the right decision is made at the ballot box.

Mi iw.  Gchi Miigwetch, Anishinaabeg.


 

IMPORTANT ELECTION INFORMATION

  • Advance Poll, Saturday, July 4 9-2 p.m. in Garden Village
  • Election Day Friday July 10 9-8 p.m. in Duchesnay and Garden Village
  • Living off-reserve? Please send in your mail-in ballots.
  • Need more information, contact the Electoral Officer (705) 303-6868