Dec 25/04 Happy Winter Solstice

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you. May this Winter Solstice bring you all the best in the New Year.

Dec 4/04

Grand Council Chief John Beaucage.

Letter to the Editor on Self-government

In his letter to the Editor, November 25, former Grand Council Chief Joe Hare raised a number of important issues. First and foremost is the question of where jurisdiction, the power to make laws, will rest. The negotiations have proceeded on the assertion that jurisdiction exists and rests with each First Nation. This is why the Union of Ontario Indians, mandate by and representing Anishinabek First Nations, was given the mandate to restore First Nations jurisdiction. This mandate and several subsequent mandates are very clear that it is the First Nations who possess jurisdiction and on whose behalf the UOI is negotiating. In both the education and governance agreements, the result is that the jurisdiction of the participating First Nations will be recognized by Canada. This means that law-making authority will rest with the First Nations who approve these agreements. With respect to the Education Agreement, approval of the Final Agreement including a Funding Agreement and Implementation Plan, will require that each participating First Nation community conduct a referendum to decide whether or not they want to be part of this self-government agreement. They will have to decide whether or not this agreement will contribute to improving the education success rates of their community. For example, a participating First Nation may determine that they do not have enough money to develop curriculum needed for their school and that they might be better served if the curriculum is developed centrally. In fact, the day we received Mr. Hare’s letter, the education working groups were working together to develop the model of governance and management for the Anishinabek Education System that will operate under First Nation jurisdiction. Again, it is up to each participating First Nation to determine what authority it may delegate to any central body it creates.

Regarding the Governance Agreement-in-Principle, here too it is First Nation jurisdiction over governance matters that will be recognized by Canada through the Restoration of Jurisdiction negotiation process. Like the creation of the Kinomaadswin Education Body (KEB), the proposed central Anishinabek Nation government body will be the creation of the participating First Nations. Our First Nations will determine what authority they may delegate to the central government body. It is very important to remember that it is the First Nations themselves that will form the central government body and decide what authority it will exercise and how that authority will be exercised. These decisions will be captured in the participating First Nations’ constitutions and their Anishinabek Nation constitution.

It was recognized that to be successful, the members of the participating First Nations had to be involved so that whatever was produced was a result of grass roots input. Although some First Nations choose not to support this initiative through a Band Council Resolution (BCR), the door has always been open for them to participate through the various consultation activities, workshops and working groups. There has been excellent community participation in the education working groups that were set up to research, design, develop and eventually deliver the finished model of education self-government to the participating First Nations’ membership for ratification. A number of Community Facilitators were also hired to go out and talk to grass roots people to get their input and to share what the Restoration of Jurisdiction (ROJ) negotiation process is trying to achieve. Consultation activities such as community meetings, conferences and workshops were, and still are, being held to obtain people’s views on the education and governance systems that are under development. As well, Anishinabek News coverage and web site updates continue on a regular basis. The point is that whatever the end product, it will be designed by Anishinabek Nation citizens, for Anishinabek Nation citizens.

Yes, there are plans to develop a central education body, to be called the Kinomaadswin Education Body. However, I want to make it clear – this body will not be imposed on our First Nations, and that First Nations will determine the focus, function and direction of the K.E.B.

It is true that there are many questions that remain outstanding in this process. Will there be enough funds to adequately resource our self-governing education and governance systems? Will there be funding for culture and language? Will there be new schools built? What kind of education and governance laws will be developed? We are now in the process of negotiating the education Funding Agreement and Implementation Plan with the Federal government. Also, the education working groups are still in the process of developing the Anishinabek Education System. We are at the AIP stage in the Governance negotiations and currently seeking BCRs to support the Governance AIP and support continuing negotiations toward a Final Agreement. As such, there are still questions unanswered and issues that have to be negotiated and clarified. Information on these questions will have to be provided as negotiations progress to enable the community members and leadership of each First Nation to make a decision on the Final Agreements. Finally, to be truly self-determined Nations, we have to believe in ourselves. We must decide that yes, we can do this, and on that notion we move forward toward Anishinabek Nation self-government. We have to work together, amongst ourselves, and with our negotiators to put forward the best position we can – based on grass-roots input, and the mandate of our First Nations Chiefs. We must negotiate H3ly, respectfully, in good faith, the restoration of jurisdiction of First Nations authority. Let’s face it, our issues have never been a priority for the Legislature or Parliament. We must put our best foot forward, and start moving on these issues ourselves. We cannot be content with the status quo, or live under the shadow of the Indian Act. We must try to find better and more efficient ways of making decisions, and put our own priorities forward.

At every step of the way, our people are being consulted. Our Chiefs are directing the negotiations, and we are holding true to our approved mandate. Ultimately, it will be the people – the Anishinabek Nation citizenry – that will decide that any new self-government arrangement will be better that continued life under the Indian Act. We welcome all comments and feedback, both positive and negative. Your feedback is essential to the success of this process. I look forward to talking with all of you who are interested in discussing our movement toward self-government.

Niigaan zhaamin,

John Beaucage
Grand Council Chief
Anishinabek Nation

Dec 4/04 Anishinabek at the National Roundtable

OTTAWA – Aside from the Assembly of First Nations, who is playing a coordinating role for First Nations – the Anishinabek Nation is one of the only other First Nation political territorial organizations to attend the first four sectoral sessions of the Canadian Aboriginal Peoples’ Roundtable.
These sectoral sessions are a direct follow-up to Prime Minister Paul Martin’s April 2004 meeting with Canada’s aboriginal leaders.
“Our Chiefs have told us to ensure the Anishinabek Nation voice is being heard and that we are in line for various opportunities that come from this new relationship with Canada,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “We have been very vocal and will continue on that course.”
Through a significant lobbying effort, the Anishinabek Nation has secured representatives on the Health Sectoral Table (Nov. 2), Lifelong Learning (Nov. 13-14), Education (Nov. 18-19) and Housing (Nov. 24-25). These discussions have been very exclusive and secure. First Nations across Canada have been allocated only 15 seats per session.
The Anishinabek Nation leadership have been involved personally in several of these sessions. Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, who co-chairs the Ontario First Nations Steering Committee on Housing and hold the Chiefs of Ontario Infrastructure portfolio, attended the Housing Roundtable hosted by CMHC. Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse, who hold the Chiefs of Ontario portfolio in Education, has attended the Lifelong Learning and Education sectoral sessions.
The Anishinabek Nation will also attend the Negotiations sectoral table in January.

Dec. 2/04

Grand Council Chief John Beaucage presents to Ministers’ George Smitherman, Sandra Pupatello, and Michael Bryant.
Ministry of Community and Social Services

‘Unprecedented’ advocacy for health issues continue

NIPISSING FIRST NATION – The Anishinabek Nation political office has embarked on an unprecedented course of advocacy on behalf of the Anishinabek Health Commission, in an effort to improve overall health status across the Nation’s territory.
In mid-November, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage met with Ontario Minister of Health George Smitherman to establish a new intergovernmental roundtable on health issues and discuss concerns about mental health access.
A written submission was presented directly to Ministers Michael Bryant, Sandra Pupatello, and Smitherman at an Aboriginal Health and Wellness Strategy meeting recently.
“We feel this roundtable will set the groundwork for an innovative collaborative approach to establishing a consensus on health issues,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage.
Initially, Minister Smitherman expressed some reservations about this process, stating he favoured a more effective and faster approach.
“I was able to address the Minister’s immediate concerns with the process. With the proper commitment, workplan, follow-up, this roundtable can really meet the health needs of, not only the Anishinabek Nation, but perhaps other First Nations within the province of Ontario,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
In fact, the Anishinabek Health Commission is not only being held up as a model regionally, the Grand Council Chief also feels that our model of health advocacy can be a model for large health authorities Canada-wide.
While attending the National Health Policy Summit in late-October, Grand Council Chief Beaucage met with National Chief Phil Fontaine to bring forward the Anishinabek Health Commission model to the national table.
As well, the Union of Ontario Indians was able to secure a much sought-after and exclusive seat at the Health Sectoral session of the Canada-Aboriginal Peoples’ Roundtable. Acting-Health Director Leona Nahwehgabow took part in this Nation Roundtable on November 2.
In addition, the Grand Council Chief was able to secure the National Chief’s support in developing a proposal directly to Health Canada and to secure additional resources to the AHC to become a full health authority.
A proposal is being developed to access new dollars from the new $200 million transition fund, which was announced as part of a new $700 million aboriginal health investment. The Grand Council Chief is advocating for a full-time Health Commissioner and much needed community and secretariat support dollars.
“I really feel we are able to open the door for new health advocacy and capacity dollars,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
The Grand Council Chief is H3ly rejecting comments that his office has not been supporting the endeavours of the Anishinabek Health Commission. In fact, Beaucage would like to examine the health commission structure in cooperation with First Nations leadership and health commission members.
“The issue of health commission morale, and significant, unjustified staff turnover are symptomatic of problems that must be addressed within the existing Health Commission structure,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “If we are going to be a government, we are going to have to act like a government. I intend to work towards implementing policy change that will ensure the AHC is as H3 as I know it can be.”
The Anishinabek Health Commission will be on the agenda of the December 2004 Board of Directors Meeting.

Nov. 29/04 For Better or for Worse

From: Eddie Benton-Banai
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 10:38 AM
To: Rainey Gaywish
Subject: Re: FW: lynn johnston comic strip

Boozho goubob,,or boozh-bob whichever may sound good,,,,ayy. I really like the work of Lynn Johnston, especially the odanah idea, Mitigwaukee, reminds me of an old anishinabe town now called milwaukee [good land]. if its possible please let Lynn know that if, I can be of help in any way to pleez call on me as I very much support all efforts to communicate to ourselves and the other world the truths that have been discarded or cast aside by, so called civilization. Education is our greatest ally, if, we know how and when to use it, that means also by what medium, stories, songs, art, poetry, prose, acting, storytelling, and the medium she has chosen is a powerful and beautiful way to tell, OUR STORY. We will have her work in the Mide School as a very important part of the cirriculla, so migwtch and may the spirit of imagination continue to inspire her very beautiful mind and artistry. Meiwe, Migwetch.

Bawdwaywidun Banaise
Grand Chief, Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge

From: Goulais, Bob
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 9:32 AM
To: Rainey Gaywish
Subject: RE: lynn johnston comic strip

Boozhoo Niidwaymaaginidoog:

I’m happy that my Lodge family has seen and recognized the work being done by Lynn Johnston, creator of ‘For Better of For Worse’ comic strip. FBOFW is seen by millions of people across Turtle Island, and around the world each and every day. The Anishinabek Nation has been working hard with Lynn to include an Anishinabe storyline to her strip. My good friend, Perry McLeod-Shabogesic has been working with Lynn on all aspects of the Native-themed strips, which has been received very well across the country.
Over the past year or so, she has created strips that introduce First Nations culture, language and community. Perry’s family, and my dad, The Late Dennis Goulais, and even my Dad’s rez store have been recently featured in the strip.
Lynn Johnston will be meeting with Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, and Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse next week to introduce “Mtigwaki First Nation” – a fictional First Nation community that will be featured in upcoming editions of For Better or For Worse.
Visit Mtigwaki First Nation online at:
Lynn is a fabulous woman, and very supportive of our work and efforts as First Nations people. She is a valuable ally and a good friend to our First Nation.

Gaa waab min,
Bob Goulais

Nov. 23/04

Leaders of the Indigenous Nations of the Great Lakes Basin during an international meeting held November 22-23, 2004 in Sault Ste. Marie.
Kenn Filkins, Soo Evening News

Indigenous Nations unite for inclusion in
Great Lakes decision-making process

SAULT STE. MARIE, Michigan (November 23, 2004) – Representatives from every Ontario First Nation in the Great Lakes basin, and most of the Native American Indian Tribes in the Great Lakes basin united together in Sault Ste. Marie, not as individual communities – but as one: the Indigenous Nations of the Great Lakes.
In an unprecedented gathering of intertribal leaders – Grand Chiefs, First Nation Chiefs, Tribal Chairpersons, and Ogimaag from both sides of the border signed a Great Lakes Water Accord. This document, signed by the leaders and consecrated by the Sacred Pipe, identifies a number of united principles, values, concerns and demands expressed by Indigenous Leaders.
The meeting and Great Lakes Water Accord were convened in response to the propagation of the Great Lakes Charter, Annex 2001. The Annex, signed between the two provinces, and eight states is an addendum to the Great Lakes Charter which governs the Great Lakes eco-system and resources that are shared within these jurisdictions.
The Indigenous Nations of the Great Lakes have united, and unanimously reject the Great Lakes Charter Annex, the commodification, diversion and export of water, and the lack of inclusion in the intergovernmental process.
“We’re bringing all our voices together as one. This Great Lakes Water Accord aims to do that,” said Frank Ettawageshik, Tribal Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, and co-chair for the International Indigenous Great Lakes Water Resources Meeting. “We understand there is a responsibility to make sure those lakes are there for seven generations.”
“We were put here on this earth to look after the lakes,” said John Beaucage, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation, and co-chair for the meeting. “These governments signed these agreements without consulting us, or without understanding our ties to the land and these waters.”
Participants and signatories included the Union of Ontario Indians, representing 42 First Nations; the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, representing 8 First Nations; Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, representing 49 First Nations, as well as over 44 individual Tribes from Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The meeting, which brought together over 150 individual Tribal representatives, developed a consensus on a wide number of issues, including the need to be an integral part of the decision-making process; and that the Indigenous Nations have never surrendered the water resources and lake beds, and therefore retain ownership of the Great Lakes.
“Simply, we want to be a part of the decision-making process, and recognized as a jurisdictional government on the Great Lakes system that has to be advised and sought for approval,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “One thing is clear, there isn’t just two provinces and eight states claiming jurisdiction on this matter. In actuality, there are over 70 jurisdictions.”
“We should have a seat on the International Joint Commission, and the Great Lakes Board of Governors. We should have equal jurisdictional stake in this important decision-making process,” said Tribal Chairman Ettawageshik. “We are not seeking only one seat, but a seat for American Indian Tribes, and a seat for Canadian First Nations. We are governments, not stakeholders.”
The leaders have also agreed to come together in the future to discuss the direction of the Great Lakes resources, and other water resource issues.

View the Great Lakes Water Accord at:

Nov. 6/04 Minister of Indian Affairs to attend negotiations

FREDERICTON – Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse was able to have a long, productive discussion with Minister of Indian Affairs Andy Scott during a recent Political Confederacy retreat in Fredericton.
The Minister was scheduled to enter the Sweat Lodge with Ontario’s Grand Chiefs, however, a medical condition prevented him from participating. The Minister did however, take part by observing the sweat lodge ceremony. Deputy Grand Chief Toulouse accompanied the Minister outside the lodge.
“It was just a tremendous day with a lot of opportunity to address our issues with the Minister,” said Toulouse. He presented Scott with a letter of introduction from Grand Council Chief John Beaucage who proposed that the two meet at a future negotiation session of the Restoration of Jurisdiction project.
The Minister agreed to the plan, which will be held in the new year.
The purpose of the proposed meeting is to shed some attention and Ministerial support to the completion of the Education Final Agreement and the Governance Agreement-in-Principle. Both the Minister of Indian Affairs and Grand Council Chief Beaucage want the Anishinabek Education Final Agreement to be the first successful self-government negotiation in Ontario.
“There is a lot of good things in these agreements that will improve education and governance in our communities,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage. “We have to celebrate these successes. I’m pleased that the Minister will be there to celebrate and support our negotiations efforts to fruition.”

Nov 5/04 First Nations Grand Chief Fontaine
says spending not extravagant on reserves

WINNIPEG (CP) It’s a fallacy that First Nations are awash in tax dollars which are misspent by leaders who are unaccountable or corrupt, says the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Phil Fontaine pointed an accusing finger Friday at the media andother opinion-leaders whom he suggested have distorted the true reality of reserves.
“The myth of extravagant spending on reserves has been repeated so often it’s becoming a reality in the public mind,” Fontaine told a luncheon put on by the Canadian Club.
Fontaine used an AFN report to show what reserves receive from the federal government.
The study said aboriginals receive $7,200 per person in the form of grants and contributions annually compared to $6,000 Ottawa spends on each of the country’s 31 million people.
Fontaine said money for natives is in fact on the decline. He pointed out that in 1996 the federal government capped funding for the Indian Affairs department’s core programming at two per cent, which lags behind the cost of living.
On the accountability front, Fontaine said only 16 – or three per cent – of 557 financial management audits filed by First Nations in 2002-03, required remedial action.
The AFN report offered several solutions. One would be to include an escalator clause, similar to that in the recent federal-provincial health accord, which would provide for annual, predictable increases to natives.
Fontaine said also said land claims need to be resolved quicker and First Nations must be allowed to govern themselves.
“To be self-sufficient, First Nations must be free and able to make choices.”

Oct. 26/04 Addressing Mental Health and other Health issues

By Grand Council Chief John Beaucage
Excerpts from speech to the Mental Health Conference
Sudbury, Ontario October 26, 2004

Miigwetch, Madam Chair. I bring greeting to you on behalf of the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation. Thanks to the North Shore Tribal Council for coordinating this conference.
There are a number of major priorities in my political agenda that I would like to discuss with you.
First, with regard to health, the recent controversy over the firing of the Chief-of-Staff of the Northeast Regional Mental Health Centre has re-ignited concerns over the structure and delivery of mental health services in the North.
We renew OUR concerns, based on First Nations’ overall need for mental health services, and the necessity to have those services delivered in the community.
These changes, the amalgamated mental health services, haven’t improved service delivery.
In fact, the plan to centre these services out of North Bay will move these services further away from where they are really needed, namely the Manitoulin district and the North Shore.
These two areas represent over 14 First Nations, and almost 50 per cent of the total population of the Anishinabek Nation. These areas have an acute need for mental health services.
The Anishinabek Nation is calling on all stakeholders and the Minister of Health to reexamine the structure of the Northeast Mental Health Centre; with the goal of improving access and local service delivery where it is needed in the community.
We are currently lobbying for additional resources from the $700 million health fund announced by the Prime Minister and the First Ministers in September. We want to ensure that the Anishinabek Nation and the region of Ontario is considered for significant allocations under this funding.
We would like to ensure these resources are allocated towards OUR priorities, including: Mental and emotional health programs; addressing the epidemic of diabetes in First Nations communities; home care; investment in community health programs including public health; health care infrastructure; and additional resources towards awareness and prevention programs for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and HIV-AIDS.
I will be attending a summit this week in Winnipeg, to begin to address these priorities and bring some much needed resources to our Anishinabek Health Commission.
I also hope to provide some direction to improve the mandate and structure of the Anishinabek Health Commission. I’d like to create realistic goals and expectations of health staff and health advocacy. I want to address the turnover of Directors and staff within the secretariat.
I want to put forward a challenge to our First Nation university students and to the Dean and Board of the new medical school of Northern Ontario.
I think it is imperative that the first graduating class of the medical school include a First Nations’ Doctor.
Perhaps one is not enough… perhaps we need a few First Nations doctors working for our communities in the North.
The Medical School of Northern Ontario is a significant step forward towards improving the health status of Northern Ontario. Many people have worked towards lobbying the government for the charter of this new school.
There is a desperate need for medical professionals, doctors and nurses in Northern Ontario.
Certainly, that need also applies to First Nation communities. Our larger First Nations and isolated Northern communities require doctors of their own.
With this significant educational opportunity, no longer should we settle for the sporadic service that we have been receiving. Once a month doctor’s visits are not adequate. Infirm patients should not have to relocate to major centres just to get basic medical supervision.
I urge the Medical School selection committee to select our First Nations students when that process begins next year; and ensure there are policies in place to reflect the need for First Nations medical professionals; and ensure that this institution reflects the realities and composition of Northern Ontario.
Further, I urge those successful medical students, or those embarking on a medical education by other means, to pursue a specialty in Psychiatry and contribute to the good work being undertaken by our mental health community.

Oct 18/04 Anishinabek propose dispute resolution over Rama

MNJIKANING – Grand Council Chief John Beaucage has made the unity and strength of the Anishinabek Nation a priority for the remainder of this term. As such, he moved quickly to re-establish a working relationship with the Chippewas of Mnjikaning, and has proposed a dispute resolution process to be facilitated by the Union of Ontario Indians.
The Grand Council Chief has made it clear to the Grand Council chiefs-in-assembly, as well as in the media, that finding a solution to this dispute is essential to the continued success of the casino, and the overall strength of the Anishinabek Nation.
“Basically, each side took a position and neither side is willing to move,” said Beaucage. “We are much better-off negotiating a settlement than litigating through an adversarial, non-native court system.”
The Grand Council Chief met with Mnjikaning First Nation Chief Sharon Stinson-Henry briefly, before presenting his vision before a meeting of full Council.
“Mnjikaning First Nation is willing to look at resolving this. They are optimistic and excited about this prospect. They are willing to come to the table to resolve this,” said Beaucage.
Beaucage hopes to have a discussion with the Political Confederacy, as well as the Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership. Beaucage hopes that the proposed mediation and dispute resolution will be successful, and bring back progress to the Grand Council, and All-Ontario Chiefs Assembly in the spring. A proposal for Mnjikaning to host the next All-Ontario Chiefs Conference, will be on the agenda of a special Chiefs Assembly scheduled for November 9-11 in Thunder Bay. Grand Council Chief Beaucage is supporting the motion.
The dispute involves the now-expired revenue sharing agreement, which gave Mnjikaning First Nation 35 per cent of the revenues, while Ontario’s First Nations share 65 per cent. Mnjikaning has held the position that this arrangement is permanent and was part of the Casino selection process. Ontario First Nations have endeavored to renegotiate that arrangement to give more revenues to Ontario’s 134 First Nations.
A series of non-partisan Casino Rama articles will begin in December’s Anishinabek Nation to bring Chiefs and Citizens up-to-date on the ongoing revenue dispute.

Oct 18/04 Toulouse sweats with Indian Affairs Minister

FREDERICTON – Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse met with Minister of Indian Affairs Andy Scott (L – Fredericton) in a rather unique setting – a Maliseet sweat lodge.
On October 25, the Political Confederacy of Ontario (PCO) held a day of meetings with the Minister of Indian Affairs, that began with a meet and greet at the ‘Maritimes Largest Farmer’s Market’ outside Fredericton, New Brunswick – and concluded with a sweat lodge ceremony at St. Mary’s First Nation.
Toulouse took the opportunity to bring greetings from the new Grand Council Chief, and laid the groundwork towards re-establishing a relationship between the Union of Ontario Indians and the Minister of Indian Affairs.
Scott met with previous Grand Council Chief in August prior to the resignation of Earl Commanda.
The continued focus on health care allocations, capital and infrastructure investment, and a proposal on the establishment of an Anishinabek Housing Authority are at the top of the federal political agenda. Grand Council Chief John Beaucage will also advocate issues involving third party management concerns, overwhelming reporting requirements, and inflexible deadlines for First Nation consolidated audits.
“These fiscal issues will be a pillar in my current political agenda,” said Beaucage.

Oct 18/04 Beaucage attends biodiversity meeting

TORONTO – In just his second full week on the job, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage had the opportunity to discuss Ontario’s proposed Biodiversity Strategy with Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsey (L – Temiskaming). The Ontario Biodiversity Strategy will endeavor to protect sensitive ecosystems across the province.
The Grand Council Chief was a guest at a dinner meeting hosted by the Minister in Toronto, October 18.
“I applaud the Minister in his approach to this strategy. It’s certainly groundbreaking to be brought into these discussions at the beginning of a process – rather that being an afterthought when a strategy is completed and legislation introduced,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage.
The primary concern of the Union of Ontario Indians is to ensure the protection of aboriginal and treaty rights, as well as continued access to natural resources for First Nation use.
However, there is an opportunity for First Nations to contribute to the development of the strategy, by identifying writers, or a First Nations writing team to draft parts of the actual biodiversity strategy.
“This is an excellent opportunity to educate and share with the rest of Ontario the concept of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK),” said Beaucage. “First Nations have lived on the land for millennia and know the flora and fauna better than any other group. To discount that knowledge is foolhearty.”
Beaucage also had the opportunity to address several other issues with the Minister, and presented him with a follow-up letter. These issues include support and action on joint Anishinabek-Ontario initiatives, the Great Lakes Charter Annex, and a proposed justice initiative that would recruit and train aboriginal conservation officers.
Ontario’s Grand Chiefs echoed the comments of Grand Council Chief Beaucage. Grand Chief Stan Beardy of Nishwabe-Aski Nation, and Grand Chief Chris McCormick of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians also provided their support for the strategy. Grand Chief Arnold Gardiner of Grand Council Treaty 3 also attended the meeting.
The evening also gave Grand Council Chief Beaucage an opportunity to discuss several issues with his collegues, including the preliminary discussion into a alternative dispute resolution over the Casino Rama revenue dispute.

Oct 8/04

Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse, and newly-elected
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage

New horizons for yours truly

I am very happy to announce that I have accepted a position with the Anishinabek Nation political office as Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief, John Beaucage. I was honoured to be asked by John, to work with him in a position that required the utmost trust, confidence and ability. Chi-miigwetch, Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
This career move represents a significant opportunity for me to be a part of the inner workings of the First Nation political system. I have always been interested in working in politics, and to further the political agenda of the Anishinabek Nation.
I am pleased to be working for an accomplished leader in John Beaucage of Wasauksing. I am confident he will make an excellent Grand Council Chief, and he looks forward to the challenge. I am also pleased to be working alongside Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse, and Political Office secretary Patricia Campeau. I feel our team is H3 and dedicated, and has a fresh new vision for the future of the Anishinabek Nation.
I wish to express my thanks, and love to my coworkers, especially Maurice Switzer and Priscilla Goulais. I have learned much from you, and look forward to working with you in this new capacity. Maurice, you have given me a new outlook on the need for H3 public education about First Nation people, culture, and our issues. I will take these new skills and vision into my new position.
To my friends in the media, thank you for several good years working in the media relations capacity. I will continue to be a main point of contact for the Grand Council Chief, Deputy Grand Chief, and the many issue that our Nation must still overcome.
To my friends and family, and to my family in the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge, I thank you for your love, support and encouragement over the years.
To my community of Nipissing First Nation, this is for you!

Oct 6/04 Beaucage elected to lead Anishinabek Nation

NORTH BAY, Ontario October 6, 2004 – The Anishinabek Nation has elected it’s second leader in sixteen months, as the 42 First Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly voted to elect John Beaucage as it’s Grand Council Chief.
Chief John Beaucage of Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, won on the first ballot at a special Grand Council assembly held today in North Bay, Ontario.
This election will fill the vacancy created by August’s voluntary resignation of Earl Commanda, who was elected in May 2003. Grand Council Chief Beaucage will serve the remainder of the current three-year term, which will expire in June 2006.
“I’m pleased to have been given this mandate from you, the Chiefs – and look forward to working with you, and working for the citizens of the Anishinabek Nation,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage.
Beaucage won on the first ballot, with the support of 30 delegates in attendance, which represents more than the fifty percent needed to be elected. The only other nominee, Mike Hardy Jr., of Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging (Rocky Bay) received 12 votes.
In his acceptance speech, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage spoke of a period of change and strengthening for the Anishinabek Nation in the years to come.
“The Anishinabek Nation is in a real period of change. We’ll need a framework for how this (First Nation) government will proceed for the next, ten, fifteen, twenty years,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. “We really need some good direction so we can once again set the standard for the rest of Canada for what a First Nations political organization is there for.”
First on the new Grand Council Chief’s agenda is to strengthen the organization, by addressing the divisions caused by the ongoing litigation over Casino Rama, and further support for the self-government negotiations with Canada.
“We have to put our hand out and work with the Chippewas of Mnjikaning so we are speaking with one voice. That includes bringing them back in the Union of Ontario Indians,” said Beaucage.
“We also have to move ahead, and move faster in our self-government process. We have to make that a number one priority,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
Runner-up, Mike Hardy was supportive in his conciliatory remarks.
“It’s all about winning for the Anishinabek Nation, there are no losers here. We are moving ahead,” said Hardy.
Beaucage, 52, is the elected Chief of Wasausking First Nation, and has served in that capacity for the past eight years. Beaucage also owns a property management business based on Parry Island. He has also worked for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in Ottawa, Toronto and Regina. Beaucage has previously served as the Lake Huron regional Board Member for the Union of Ontario Indians, and presently sits on the Chief’s Committee that provides advice and direction to the Anishinabek Nation self-government negotiations with Canada.
As leader of the Anishinabek Nation, the Grand Council Chief has the primary responsibility for the collective political advocacy of its member First Nations across Ontario, and serves as President of the Union of Ontario Indians.
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 43 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Sept 27/04 Character actors portray Twain family

By Bob Goulais

Two of the most recognized aboriginal actors were in Northern Ontario filming the life-story of Canada’s top country musician. Cree actor Gordon Tootoosis, and Inuit actor Eric Schweig spent several days at Whitefish Lake First Nation portraying the Ojibwe family of Shania Twain in the production of “Shania” which will be aired on CBC Television in the spring.
The production will also include Meredith Henderson as Eileen (Shania) Twain, and Meagan Fallows as her mother Sharon. Well-known First Nations actor Darrell Dennis also plays a member of the Twain family. Tootoosis, plays grandfather Gerry Twain, while Schweig portrays his son Jerry Twain, the step-father of young Eileen.

Actors Eric Schweig and Gordon Tootoosis, enjoy a lunch break
among background performers and fans during filming of “Shania”, at
the Whitefish Lake First Nation pow-wow grounds. The performer’s wardrobe in from the 1970s.

Both Tootoosis and Schweig provided some personal insight into their character development for “Shania”. Both actors are well-known for their memorable characters, especially their villains.
Gordon Tootoosis is best known for his role as the tyrannical Albert Golo on “North of 60”. Tootoosis admits he works hard on his characters, something that he has always done.
“My background is theatre acting, and I’ve always worked a script over and over again, reading and memorizing the lines,” said Tootoosis. “I never used to tell anybody, that’s just the way I worked.”
“I got to work with a hero of mine, a giant in the industry, Anthony Hopkins who said ‘I never go on a set unless I read the script at least fifty times.’ I felt better, that I wasn’t stupid after all,” he said.

Well-known Shuswap actor Darrell Dennis, sits back in the
make-up chair as he prepares for a scene in “Shania”.

The relationship between Tootoosis’ character, grandfather Gerry Twain blossoms with young Eileen Twain. In one scene, Tootoosis counsels young Twain following the death of her parents in a tragic car accident. Twain, then 22, returns home to Timmins to raise her step-brothers. She is given key Anishinabe teachings to cope with her loss and continue on with her dreams. Following encouragement from her family, her career is resurrected when she is discovered at the Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville.
Eric Schweig, the 37 year-old Inuk from Inuvik, NWT, describes himself as a recluse, who simply does his job and keeps to himself. Schweig admits that he rarely reads the script ahead of time, and would rather work “from the seat of his pants”
“I do my stuff on the fly. It just feels better – and nine times out of ten, there is room for a little bit of improv,” said Schweig. “Especially on this show, Jerry (Ciccoritti) the director is really good about stuff like that.”
He is well-known for his portrayal as Uncas in the 1992 blockbuster The Last of the Mohicans. Schweig’s most memorable role has been from the 2003 film “The Missing” where he plays the disturbed character Pesh-Chidin. Schweig sat for hours in a make-up chair as rubber prosthetics and make-up effects were added to create the memorable villain.
Schweig left his arctic home when he was five years-old, and as he grew up became interest in artwork. A master carver, he continues to carve and market intricate wooden masks made of red cedar. According to Eric Schweig, he simply fell into the business during a swell of Indian films during the 1990s.
Schweig has been a proud supporter of the Anishinabek Nation, and recently took part in the premiere screening of the Chris Eyre film “Skins”. The Anishinabek Nation Seventh Generation Charities event that took place September 18.

The production of Shania is due to wrap up in late-October.


Bob Goulais, of Nipissing First Nation, is the communications officer for the Union of Ontario Indians and took part in the filming of Shania. E-mail:

Sept 23/04

The “B” Camera and crew shoot the funeral scene of Shania Twain’s
parents Jerry and Sharon Twain at the Whitefish Lake First Nation.

No idle time at the ‘Shania’ production

By Bob Goulais

If you want to be an actor, a crew-member, or even an extra in television or movies – be prepared for long, full days of…. well…. waiting.

That was certainly the case for 87 background performers and extras taking part in the film “Shania” which will be aired on CBC next spring. Most of the background performers were community members from Whitefish Lake First Nation, the site for the second and third day of filming for the the Shania Twain bio-pic.

But what exactly happens when extras are “waiting around”? For the production team, it is certainly not just idle time.

ART DIRECTION – The first team to be on the scene is the art department, who prepares the shoot location, background scenery and the hundreds of painstaking details that are essential to the upcoming shot. Props ensures that everything that is needed for the scene is on set including firewood, half-filled Coca-cola bottles, discarded styrofoam plates, old wooden lawn chairs, a picnic table, and two well-tuned guitars. All were essential for a brief, musical campfire scene starring the young Eileen “Shania” Twain.

GRIPS AND ELECTRICAL – Before camera and sound can be brought in on set, lighting and electrical equipment must be assembled by the crew. Dozens of hardworking men with various tool-belts and specialized equipment begin assembling the necessary infrastructure for the shot. For example, for the shot at the Whitefish Lake Pow-Wow Grounds, basic electrical power was needed to run the set. Elaborate lighting equipment is needed to enhance even the best outdoor natural lighting. A huge 35-foot, Pegasus boom crane was brought in for the two days of filming on-reserve. This one piece of equipment requires three men to operate.

SOUND AND CAMERA – Once the set is finally prepared, significant time and energy is devoted to the placement of the sound and camera for the scene. The Director, and the Director of photography determine the precise locations of the camera for the shot. Once the camera is placed, the lighting must be re-positioned to the specification of the Director and the camera position. Sound equipment includes a large boom microphone picks up dialogue and local sound; hidden portable mics fastened to the performers and guitars; and well-placed background microphones pick up the necessary background audio for the shot.

FIRST PLACEMENTS – The lead performers are brought onto the set and placed according to their blocking, or assigned starting positions. Usually they review with the Director their movements, dialogue as well as the Director’s expectations of a particular shot. Final hair, makeup, touch-ups and wardrobe are done on-set.

BACKGROUND PLACEMENTS – Production Assistants, or PAs, are usually delegated the responsibility for background placements. They usually take direction from the 1st Assistant Director to ensure the necessary background and look is achieved for each shot. Individuals are selected from the pool of background performers to simply walk, sit or chit-chat. Performers take the cues from the Production Assistants for each and every scene.

REHEARSAL – Unlike live theatre, television or feature film production does not usually allow for rehearsals. The Director, sitting behind a wall of video monitors, calls for a run through of the scene as it will look on camera. After the rehearsal take, lighting, sound and performers are adjusted accordingly. Sometimes a rehearsal take is repeated until the Director is satisfied.

MULTIPLE TAKES – Each scene is shot, usually again and again with subtle differences at the whim of the Director. For example, the camera might be moved to a different angle. Sometime the script is changed from take to take, or the blocking of the scene is changed. For the background performer, this may be tedious work. Even the simple task of walking a certain distance can become difficult after about five or six takes of the same scene. In “Shania”, background performers from Wikwemikong had to do a tree planting scene for seven takes. Each time, they had to remove and replant the same trees. The whole crew, leads, and background performers are relieved when the Director calls for the final take, or calls for a “wrap”.

Darlene Naponse speaks on camera with publicity department of the
“Shania” production. The 35-foot Pegasus boom crane is in the back-
ground shooting the funeral scene at the Whitefish Lake First Nation.


To: Nipissing First Nation Chief and Council
Nipissing First Nation Health Services
Right Path Counselling and Prevention Services
North Bay Nugget (for publication)
Tribune – West Nipissing This Week (for publication)
Anishinabek News (for publication)

RE: A Community Wellness vision for Nipissing
Boozhoo nindawaymaaginiadoog (greetings my relatives):

I write you with a heavy heart and broken spirit. My prayers go out to the family and Spirit of my friend, and elder David Beaucage – a good man who has encouraged and supported me over the years. Although it is too early to speculate about the “suspicious” death of Dave, I do feel it is a sharp wake-up call for our community to begin to deal with the issue of community wellness.
Some may argue that alcohol/drug abuse and violence is only a symptom of a deeper problem. I would surmise that substance abuse and violence are a significant contributing factor to our overall community wellness, and should be dealt with through the development of a Community Wellness Strategy.
Over the years, our community has endured a lot. We have experienced suicide, violence, sexual assault, attempted murder, even murder. When these tragedies happen, we sit in community healing circles and grieve. We swear we will never allow this to happen again. But time after time, these tragedies become worse and little is done about it.
I challenge our First Nation leadership, and community health workers take a leadership role in the development of this Community Wellness Strategy. I also challenge my fellow Nbisiing Anishinabeg (Nipissing First Nation citizens) to take part in this vision.
We must all take personal responsibility in the wellness of our community. Let’s put down that bottle and give up those drugs. Let’s make Saturday night our “family night” for our children. Let’s all become involved in our children’s schools. Let’s take our anger and channel it into something constructive (like this letter). Together, we can give our young people a reason to be proud of who they are as Anishinabe people. The answer lies in strength – strengthening our families, our community, and our Nation.
This should be the goal of this proposed community wellness strategy. Other ideas include self-esteem training, cultural workshops, school-based and community counseling, alcoholics anonymous and alanon programs, development of a youth program, a cultural program, and a language program.
Personally, I will commit to re-starting a youth drum here in Nipissing – teaching our children our traditional ways and sacred songs. What can you do?
One person at a time, one family at a time – our community can be ‘Well’ again. I ask you, my community, for your support. I also ask for the support of our neighboring communities and supporters.

With Love and Respect,

Bob Goulais
Nipissing First Nation

Bob Goulais, is a journalist, activist and Anishinabe warrior from Nipissing First Nation. He works as the Communications Officer for the Union of Ontario Indians.

Sept 20/04

My son Griffin, and I at the Georgian Bay Indian Friendship
Centre Pow-wow in Midland, Ontario.

Being on the pow-wow trail this summer has renewed my enjoyment and love of pow-wow singing. I’ve sung with Paul Nadjiwan’s Whirlwind Drum on and off for the past six or seven years, but it has never been a full-time thing. I certainly appreciate the songs and the knowledge that I have received from Paul, and that will continue to be a valuable resource in the future.
But to sit at a pow-wow, under the drum arbour and just sing songs from morning until after dark is something that I just haven’t been doing lately. To just attend, and be a part of the pow-wow after twenty years of enjoyment, continues to be just as rewarding as it was when I first started travelling.
This weekend, at Curve Lake Pow-Wow, I had the pleasure of singing with Lavall Williams, who keeps the drum for the Whitefrost Sobriety Singers. This weekend, singing as “Twin Fires”, we sang with Barry Assance, Daniel “Bonzai” Monague, and Waus Pegahmagabow and a few other youngsters from Chimnissing and the Georgian Bay area.
We cranked out a few narly tunes, including a couple songs that I have heard, but never had the pleasure of singing before. With a “cheatsheet” in my hand (inscribed with the words of the songs), our youthful sound and energy garnered three eagle whistles and two fans on the weekend. Lavall, our studious drum carrier, passed the lead on to me regularly throughout the pow-wow.
At the end of the pow-wow, Lavall received an eagle whistle as a gift to the drum. The beautiful bald eagle bone was the perfect symbolic gift, for a weekend that provided so many eagle whistles for this young drum.
My good friends, Stephanie and Klaus Benver of Berlin, Germany hosted us for the weekend, and afforded me a chance to spend some time with them at their cottage near the Curve Lake First Nation. It had been the first time I had seen Stephanie in four years, and the first time I had taken them up on their offer to stay in their home. The genuine love and respect that they hold for me, and all Anishinabe people is touching. They showed their kind generosity towards their adopted home and local pow-wow by providing many gifts to my drum, Twin Fires and to the host drum Eagle Flight. Singers Vydell Sands, Gordon Jr, Jeff Stonefish, and my Midewiwin brothers Danny (Bindigay) and Raymond (Oskawbewis) Deleary showed their appreciation with their handshakes and two copies of Eagle Flight Vol 2 that were given to the kind German visitor.
Stephanie has amassed an impressive list of contacts across Turtle Island including: Dawn Madahbee, Manny Two Feathers, Russell Means, and Lee Tiger. I am pleased to be a part of her circle of friends. If there were more sincere hearts like her and her husband, there would be lot more love and respect in the world for aboriginal peoples, and a lot fewer problems like racism and poverty.

Sept 15/04 First Nations call for review of audit requirements

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario, September 15 /PR Direct/ – SAULT STE. MARIE – Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse would like to see streamlining of First Nations reporting to federal government, as recommended two years ago by the federal auditor-general.
The Canadian Press reported today that one-quarter of First Nations in Canada have failed to provide audits to the government of Canada, a conclusion that Deputy Grand Chief Toulouse says is misleading.
According to the Union of Ontario Indians, the vast majority of First Nations eventually comply with the directive, despite auditor-general Sheila Fraser stating that federal reporting requirements pose “a significant burden” on existing First Nation resources.
“First Nations are challenged to comply with the July 31 deadline,” says Toulouse, “because many are small and have limited resources.”
“The government has to review their reporting requirements, as recommended by the Auditor General, and lengthen the reporting deadlines that are currently in place. First Nations require more time to process and approve audits and present them to their Councils and citizens,” said Deputy Grand Chief Toulouse, speaking from a Chiefs and Councils gathering taking place in Sault Ste. Marie.
In her 2002 report, auditor-general Sheila Fraser stated that: “we are concerned about the burden associated with the federal reporting requirements. Resources used to meet these reporting requirements could be better used to provide direct support to the community. Steps need to be taken to streamline reporting requirements.”
Further, the Auditor General revealed that First Nations are required to submit a total of 168 reports a year to various federal organizations, constituting a “significant burden” for communities.
Toulouse states that less that five per cent of all First Nations audits are rejected for mismanagement reasons. Many of these audits that are rejected are due to unforeseen deficit spending. First Nations that are in these situations must undertake a three-step process of remediation, the final step of which includes third-party financial management.
“Our First Nations occur deficits on occasion. We are vastly under-funded in the areas of social services, health care, and infrastructure. Many of these areas are essential services. Some communities must take the extraordinary step of incurring deficits. It’s no different than a municipal government, hospitals, or school boards.”
The Deputy Grand Chief rejects labels from the media and special interests groups that illustrate First Nations as mismanaged, or even corrupt.
“I feel these labels are contemporary stereotypes that feed the negative images of our people,” said Toulouse. “Our First Nation leaders are moving towards improved accountability structures. In would hasten to argue that First Nations are far more accountable that any other identifiable group on the government’s accounts payable.”
Many of our First Nations are undertaking processes to report to their citizens first,” added Toulouse. “We applaud the efforts of our member First Nations in moving towards more accountable reporting to their membership.”
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Sept 15/04 New Native health fund welcome,
investments still needed

SAULT STE. MARIE – Prime Minister Paul Martin kicked off his meeting with the country’s premiers and top aboriginal leaders Monday with a $700 million plan to improve native health. The announcement included $200 million toward a health fund, and $400 million for disease and suicide prevention. He also promised an increase in annual funding to keep up with rising costs.

“We are certainly pleased with this announcement, as this new health fund will go a long way toward improving our community health programs,” said Anishinabek Nation Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse, while attending a province-wide Chiefs and Councils gathering in Sault Ste. Marie today. “But on the other hand, significant investment is still needed to overcome issues such as substandard housing, overcrowding, water and sewer – all are linked to the overall health of our communities.”

Deputy Grand Chief Toulouse stressed the need for First Nation inclusion in the further development of this health fund strategy.

“We must be an integral part of the decision-making process, to have a voice and the ability to set priorities for this fund,” said Toulouse.

“First Nations need to be a part of the decision making process at all levels. We are the people living these conditions day-to-day and ultimately, we are responsible and accountable for the health of our own people.”

“Our leadership should continue to sit, face-to-face, with the First Ministers on health, housing, economic and even constitutional issues,” added Toulouse.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact