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Publications - February 18, 2003
 

37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Tuesday, February 18, 2003




¾ 0800
V         The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.))
V         Chief Chris Shade (Blood Tribe, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs)

¾ 0805

¾ 0810
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Randy Bottle (Councillor, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs)
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Mr. Randy Bottle
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.)

¾ 0815
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott

¾ 0820
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Eugene Creighton (Legal Counsel, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs)

¾ 0825
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Chief Chris Shade
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Eugene Creighton
V         The Chair

¾ 0830
V         Mr. Eugene Creighton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French (Principal, Ta Otha School, Kiska Waptan and Ta-Otha School)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French

¾ 0835
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French

¾ 0840

¾ 0845
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Mr. Butch French

¾ 0850
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Mr. Butch French
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         Mr. Butch French
V         Mr. Maurice Vellacott
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gérard Binet

¾ 0855
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French

¿ 0900
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Butch French
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Dolores Day Chief (Council Liaison, Kainaikiis, the voice of Blood Indian Women)

¿ 0925
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Lois Frank (Board Member, Kainaikiis Secretariat)
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Lois Frank
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Lois Frank
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Lois Frank

¿ 0930
V         Ms. Connie Fox (Blood Tribe Member, Urban Aboriginal Inter Agency Committee, Kainaikiis, the voice of Blood Women)

¿ 0935
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Dolores Day Chief
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance)

¿ 0940
V         Ms. Dolores Day Chief
V         Mr. David Chatters

¿ 0945
V         Ms. Lois Frank
V         Mr. David Chatters
V         Ms. Connie Fox
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Connie Fox
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Connie Fox
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Lois Frank
V         The Chair

¿ 0950
V         Chief Darcy Dixon (Bearspaw Band, Stoney First Nation

¿ 0955
V         The Chair

À 1000
V         Mr. Bill McLean (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual)

À 1005

À 1010
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bill McLean
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Cassie Lefthand (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual)

À 1015

À 1020
V         The Chair

À 1025
V         Ms. Cassie Lefthand
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Sylvia Dixon (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual)
V         The Chair

À 1040
V         Ms. Sylvia Dixon
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources


NUMBER 029 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¾  +(0800)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.)): Good morning, everyone. We'll call the meeting to order to resume our public hearings on Bill C-7, An Act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other Acts.

    We're pleased to welcome this morning, from the Blood Tribe/Kainaiwa First Nation, the Tribal Government and External Affairs coordinator, Annabel Crop Eared Wolf, and Blood Tribe Chief Chris Shade.

    I notice that you have other colleagues with you. I invite you to introduce them as you begin your presentation.

    We have 30 minutes together. Please proceed.

+-

    Chief Chris Shade (Blood Tribe, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs): Thank you.

    Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the standing committee. We're honoured to be here.

    Just quickly, we have with us William Longtime Squirrel, who's on our Blood Tribe council and on the Tribal Government Committee. Andy Black Water is our elder. Randy Bottle is the chairman of our tribal government and council member. Eugene Creighton is our solicitor. One of our other solicitors here is Melanie Wells. Of course, Annabel is also here. Thank you.

    Maybe I'll get right to the presentation itself. I have an executive summary I'll read.

    The Blood Tribe/Kainai is located in southern Alberta on a Blood Indian reserve and has a population of 9,400 members. The reserve is 2,000 square kilometres in size, with agriculture as its prime industry. The Blood Tribe operates and manages its own education, health, correction, and policing systems and facilities. We have enacted finance, elections, membership codes, and legislation that refer to and consider our elders' declaration, Kainayssini. We are currently developing our own child welfare legislation and are on the verge of assuming education legislation as well as health legislation.

    The Blood Tribe participated in Treaty 7 in 1877 and have considered the treaty to be a solemn and binding undertaking that exists in perpetuity. Treaty 7 is the foundation of our relationship with Canada and has created a unique relationship between our people and the Crown, modifying only one aspect of our rights: the right to exclusive use of the land. The Blood Tribe has existed as a nation since time immemorial, and we have continuously controlled our lands and religious, political, economic, and cultural destinies.

    European settlement has altered the life of the Blood Tribe in fundamental ways, and the failure of the Canadian government to honour Treaty 7 and instead impose foreign laws has eroded our independence and undermined our inherent authority. However, despite the constant attack on the validity of our life systems, we have survived attempts to eradicate us as a people, and are still engaged in the struggle to preserve for future generations the fundamental values, principles, rights, and freedoms that are necessary for the Bloods to remain a distinct and unique people.

    The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has proposed Bill C-7, the First Nations Governance Act, which is stated to be “An Act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other Acts”. It will address three key issues: legal status and capacity of first nations, leadership selection and voting rights, and accountability of first nations to members.

    In reviewing Bill C-7 and its potential impact on the Blood Tribe, we have considered our fundamental values, principles, rights and freedoms, our long history, and the realities of today's world. We have attempted to give the standing committee a view of the size and complexity of the Blood Tribe, Blood Tribe lands, and economic, social, cultural, and political structures.

    As stated, the foundation of the Blood Tribe's relationship with Canada is based on a legally binding treaty relationship. The leadership of the Blood Tribe have a clear mandate and directive from the members of the Blood Tribe to ensure that the spirit and intent of Treaty 7 are fulfilled and protected. It has always been the Blood Tribe's intent to cooperate in the development of good working relationships with the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta and a smooth implementation of Treaty 7.

    The Blood Tribe has significant concerns with Bill C-7. We have set out our specific concerns in our submission and we highlight the following issues.

    The nation-to-nation relationship evidenced in the treaties constitutes the basis for addressing the first nation governance. The treaties must be utilized as the instruments to inform any and all actions Canada takes with respect to such governance, not unilateral federal legislation that purports to remedy the failings of the current Indian Act.

¾  +-(0805)  

    Canada should be prepared to enter into substantive discussions with the Blood Tribe on treaties as the basis for all future developments. This includes clarification of the true nature of the treaty relationship, rather than proceeding with Bill C-7.

    If Canada insists on proceeding with Bill C-7, it must recognize the importance of the treaties and the rights and protections in section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 through the inclusion of a non-derogation clause in the body of the legislation. A non-derogation clause is fundamental, so it will not prejudice section 35 rights to the detriment of first nations.

    There is no mention in the proposed legislation of fiduciary relationship and Canada's fiduciary obligations owed to first nations. There must be clear provisions to ensure that this relationship and the resulting obligations are not limited or transferred between Canada and first nations.

    There are no provisions to ensure there is sufficient and ongoing funding to first nations for the implementation and monitoring of FNGA requirements. Specifically, funding provisions must take into consideration the size and complexity of the Blood Tribe and Blood Tribe lands and infrastructure.

    Bill C-7 will have the effect of amending the roles and responsibilities of Blood Tribe council to its members through the imposition of certain responsibilities to non-member residents and other persons that the council currently does not have. The council has cultural, social, and legal obligations to its members that it does not have with respect to non-member residents or other persons. It is not appropriate for Canada to amend this relationship through Bill C-7.

    We have a summary of our recommendations. The first one is on treaties.

    If Canada insists on proceeding with the FNGA and refuses to use the treaties as the means of making change, it is imperative that Canada recognize and honour the treaties and its ongoing obligations to first nations pursuant to those treaties in the FNGA. This is accomplished at the very minimum through the inclusion of a non-derogation clause. The non-derogation clause should state that the legislation has no effect on the treaty relationship between first nations and Canada, and it does not abrogate or derogate from the treaty and aboriginal rights of first nations as set out in section 35 of the Constitution Act.

    In regard to ratification codes and leadership selection, the FNGA should exempt from the requirement for ratification those first nations, including Blood Tribe, that have existing custom election bylaws that meet all the requirements of the FNGA for custom codes. Those custom bylaws should be grandfathered into the FNGA and deemed to meet its provisions respecting leadership selection. In the event that the FNGA does not make such an exemption, the Blood Tribe recommends that it enter into an agreement with the Minister of Indian Affairs that achieves the effect of the above-stated recommendation.

    Regarding eligible voters, the FNGA should recognize and respect that some first nations, including the Blood Tribe, have a voting age that is determined by custom and may not be 18 years of age. This recognition must be made by providing a definition of “eligible voter” that is flexible enough to accommodate the customs of those first nations, while providing a minimum age for those first nations that do not have a custom. In the event that the FNGA does not provide a flexible definition of “eligible voter”, the Blood Tribe recommends it enter into an agreement with the Minister of Indian Affairs to recognize the custom of the tribe with respect to the voting age of its members so it may adhere to that custom for the purposes of ratification of codes and be exempt from complying with the age set out in the current definition of “eligible voter”.

    In regard to funding, the FNGA must include a provision that requires the Government of Canada to provide sufficient and ongoing funding to first nations for the implementation and monitoring of the FNGA requirements. This provision must take into account the population and reserve size of first nations.

    With regard to non-member residents and persons, the FNGA must not attempt to amend the cultural, social, and legal relationship that band councils have with members through the imposition of statutory duties toward non-member residents and persons to whom it currently has none, and any provisions that attempt to do so should be eliminated.

    The FNGA must include a provision that recognizes the fiduciary relationship between the parties and states that nothing in the legislation shall have the effect of or be interpreted as limiting, expanding, or transferring any obligation arising from the fiduciary relationship between Canada and the first nations.

¾  +-(0810)  

    In regard to powers and authorities of band enforcement officers, the FNGA must include a provision that requires the Government of Canada to provide sufficient funding for the initial and ongoing training of band enforcement officers, the hiring of band enforcement officers, and the related administration costs.

    First nations need proper and meaningful input into the drafting of regulations. The Blood Tribe recommends it have specific input into the drafting of the regulations should the FNGA come about despite our protests.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    We'll proceed now to questions. We have about 20 minutes. That'll be lots of time for questions.

    Mr. Vellacott.

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance): I just want to say, Chief, I appreciate the presentation very much. I'm not sure if there's a possibility of having a written copy of it. It would be very helpful if there's some intent for this to go ahead. Some of those things seem to me very reasonable kinds of requests you made within your presentation.

+-

    The Chair: We have the copies; they will be translated.

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: There is another question I was going to ask too, and I'll be asking it throughout the day as well. I know there was this supposed consultation, and there's a difference of opinion as to how true or involved a consultation it really was with department officials and so on. Were you able to have any kind of “consultation” with your own people in developing a position and deciding how you would approach this--whether pro or con, yea or nay--on the issue of Bill C-7 itself? Or was it mostly among executives in the leadership and the band council themselves taking a position? Or were there any broader meetings to try to give them information from your own side to say, this is the problem, the flaws we see with it, some question and answer, back and forth stuff?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: We have discussed it at length in our council chambers. As well, we've had it introduced into our community as a concern. Of course, we have our committee here who have a direct working relationship with some of our members.

    Maybe I could pass it off to the chairman.

+-

    Mr. Randy Bottle (Councillor, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs): Thank you.

    We do have a series of what we call informational meetings in the community. We are very careful to ensure that we do discuss issues relating to what is being presented. The response from our community was very straightforward, especially coming from the elders. They wanted to specifically deal with the treaty issues and a lot of unfinished business. They felt we needed to discuss other issues such as the housing problems, lack of funding for education, and dealing with land claims.

    Our community members who were present at those information sessions felt we needed to discuss unfinished business first, even before we entered into any dialogue considering the First Nations Governance Act.

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Then I gather you were able, Randy, to give a little bit of a portrayal of your perceptions of this bill, so that people had a basic grasp of at least its main points. Then in response to that, they said this is not a priority, that health and education are the major issues. Is that what I'm to understand here?

+-

    Mr. Randy Bottle: Yes, in fact, even when they did make their regional reports, they were very misleading. They did not truly capture the essence of the discussions that took place and merely focused on the agenda itself. It did not indicate that there was a great deal of concern regarding the land claims, the treaty issues, and also the benefits deriving from the treaties. Those were not highlighted in the reports.

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Hubbard.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning.

    First of all, I'd like to thank you, because when we get back we'll note the various points you've made.

    The question of treaties probably is the main point, I would assume, that you're making here this morning. I'm not sure how we could address that. We'd have to go to our legal people and see how, but as you're saying, it probably should be written into the bill--that the bill in no way infringes upon the treaty rights of the various people who have made treaties. In fact, there are treaties all over the country, but yours in fact is a very specific one that is probably written more clearly than most.

    Where I come from back in New Brunswick, some of the treaties go way back into the early 1700s. They're still finding them, and some of them are difficult to uncover.

    You also talk about your customs. I believe that Bill C-7 does give leeway to that, and that your customs can be accepted in terms of your code. Hopefully, as the customs have been there for, I'd say, hundreds of thousands of years, I'm sure Bill C-7 doesn't want to take away those customs.

    In terms of having a written code, do you have something in writing now? Some of the witnesses yesterday talked about it being here, and it's passed from generation to generation through saying this is what happened, and this is what happened. But you do have a written code now, Chief? In terms of all that, do you think Bill C-7 limits what your written codes are? Would it be difficult to make them part of Bill C-7, or Bill C-7 part of them?

¾  +-(0815)  

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: Mr. Chairman, I think the problem we see is the default codes. We don't know what those are. We have developed our own code at this point and we're using that. The whole process of adopting them to the present system is unclear. That's why we asked for some of these to be grandfathered into that if FNGA proceeds. We already have a code. That's why.

    As to that code, we have an elder here who can talk about it. It's in the document here with Kainayssini. It's our own constitution. Most of the businesses and most of the developments we're doing reflect that Kainayssini.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Chief, in terms of your social housing and so forth, you also mentioned you feel that in terms of what the end has done for you there's a shortage--there's a need there that has never been addressed.

    Bill C-7 talks about long-term planning in terms of finances. I think in most cases you're dealing with year by year. You find it's more difficult when you don't know what's coming the following year. Is it true you do have a shortage of housing, with more people coming back and so forth?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: It goes right back to the treaties again, and Treaty 7 includes a component on housing. We have at the present time a demand for about 700 units on the Blood Reserve, 700 families desiring a house. We have problems with people living off the reserve and having up to 15 people in a single unit. It's an environment in our community--I know the minister has been concentrating on education--that impacts on the education of our students, too.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: He made an announcement recently in terms of education. In terms of what is granted to you for education--I know we're off the subject a little bit here, Mr. Chair--you have so many young people wanting to go off to colleges and universities and so forth. Are you able to meet the demands of those people who want to go? How short would you be?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: Again, this is another treaty issue. Education is a treaty issue. That's why we're saying let's discuss these treaties first and Canada's failure to honour those treaties. Education and housing are two major components of that.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Okay, thanks.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Vellacott.

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Different witnesses so far have indicated that it's very, very costly in terms of writing up each of these particular codes. Some have given us some fairly big dollar figures in terms of what it takes for just one aspect of one area, not necessarily a code as in here, but along a certain line. But it's rather costly for them to do that, and they talked about the great excessive burden it would be, then, in terms of writing some of these additional ones--legal fees, and so on.

    If I can respectfully ask, then, do your codes cover off things such as leadership selection, financial management and accountability, or however you want to put that, administration of government? Would those areas all be addressed or covered in your codes?

¾  +-(0820)  

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: Maybe I could concentrate on the finance, and then I'll hand it off to our solicitor with regard to leadership selection.

    We've created a finance bylaw dealing specifically with how funds are handled coming into the community, very similar to any other government, how they have finance regulations. We have a finance bylaw that is strictly enforced. That's where all this accountability, transparency, and redress is contained, because of that bylaw.

    I'd like to hand it off to Eugene Creighton, regarding the custom election and how it went about getting it.

+-

    Mr. Eugene Creighton (Legal Counsel, Kainaiwa - Tribal Government Committee and External Affairs): Thank you, Chairman. Good morning.

    I think the premise to start with is that the Blackfoot language is not a written language. It has been passed on for centuries. The tribe is always cautious about codifying its legislation, because once you do that you've put everything into one box. It makes it easy for various groups or organizations or even individuals to challenge it, although there's nothing wrong with challenging it.

    The Blood Tribe has had its custom election process since 1976. It codified its election code. In 1979 or 1980 it was amended to allow non-residents to participate in our election process. It was amended again in 1995 to broaden it and to bring it up to date. The code itself has been challenged in the courts several times. Those challenges have not been successful in terms of appeals of an election, impeachments, and that sort of thing. So that code has been there, and it has been enjoyed by the Blood Tribe members.

    We also have a police bylaw, which was put together in 1980 by a tripartite agreement between the Blood Tribe, Alberta, and Canada. It created a police commission. The police bylaw is still in effect today.

    We also have a water bylaw, which deals with our irrigation project. The water has to be regulated under some statute. Again, that came about through an agreement between the Blood Tribe, Canada, and Alberta.

    So when issues of that sort come up, we do have mechanisms to put effective legislation in place.

    There is also the education bylaw, which creates a school board, with the Blood Tribe assuming control of education on reserve. That's what the chief alluded to. The next step would be entering into discussions to create legislation that is respected by both Canada and Alberta, which would take out Alberta's jurisdiction.

    The child welfare legislative initiative is at an agreement in principle stage. It assumes jurisdiction over child welfare. It replaces the Alberta Child Welfare Act, but it works in parallel.

    We're also working on a health bylaw, which would have the same effect as the other two.

    The tribe works with its members in terms of what is in their interest, and legislation is created as it moves along.

    The problem we see is that the FNGA defines some areas; for example, voting at 18 years of age. The longstanding custom of the Blood Tribe has been to have it at 21. These numbers are arbitrary, in our view. For some reason 18-year-olds vote in Canada, and for some reason the Bloods feels that 21 is the time to run for office and vote.

    If the FNGA comes into effect, those things effectively challenge the authority of the council, especially the Blood Tribe, and the legislation it has created through the years. It also brings into issue the agreements it has, either with Alberta or with Alberta and Canada. Those are the basic problems we see in that.

¾  +-(0825)  

+-

    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I have one last question, which has to do with a situation that occurs maybe due to a lack of funding over the years and growth since Bill C-31. Has your band, Chris, ever been under third-party management?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: No. In the late eighties the chief and council undertook their own. We went into some financial difficulties, and our leadership of the day imposed it on themselves. That's how we went into such things as a finance bylaw.

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    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Thank you very much.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    We have three minutes for closing remarks. I invite you to present them.

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: I would like to give you a bit of history, Mr. Chair.

    When this was first announced, I approached Minister Nault and I told him the Blood Tribe is doing all these things and we are, in effect, developing our own governance. When you begin developing legislation, you now have to deal with governance, quality health care, quality education, quality care for children in care. Then, of course, we have our own finances. I made the point by saying that this FNGA is actually hindering our progress. There's nothing in there to say we can go ahead and start developing this legislation. Sure, it talks about law-making, but it's pretty unclear at this point also.

    He asked me what we would like. I said, give us an off-ramp, an opting out for those tribes and first nations in Canada who are far advanced in their development. They don't need to be told about something they've already done.

    That's basically it, Mr. Chair. Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: For clarification, did you ask the minister for an option clause on Bill C-7, or on the total Indian Act?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: No, on this bill.

+-

    The Chair: Just Bill C-7.

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: Yes, FNGA.

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    The Chair: So you would operate better under the old act.

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: No. We're developing our own legislation.

+-

    The Chair: Yes, but the Indian Act is still there. If you don't opt into Bill C-7, I don't think there's an option to opt out of the Indian Act. What seems to be the problem is the Indian Act.

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    Chief Chris Shade: Today, the Indian Act is allowing us to go into these legislations anyway. But the FNGA kind of narrows that vision for us.

+-

    The Chair: So you're saying the option you asked the minister for is to not opt into Bill C-7, the amended Indian Act, right?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: We're developing our own FNGA. That's what I'm saying.

+-

    The Chair: I understand, but you told us that you asked the minister for an opt clause.

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    Chief Chris Shade: Yes.

+-

    The Chair: Were you referring strictly to Bill C-7?

+-

    Chief Chris Shade: Yes, well, in terms of the development of our own legislation, so we can continue on. That's what I'm saying.

+-

    The Chair: I understand what you want to do, but I'm not clear on what you want to opt in or opt out of. Am I correct in saying you asked the minister to put in an opt-in or opt-out clause, but he can only do that on Bill C-7, on the amendments to the Indian Act? I'm not a lawyer, but that's the way I see the legislation.

+-

    Mr. Eugene Creighton: Very quickly, I think the whole idea was to have that ability to opt out of certain parts of Bill C-7, because parts of it will hinder the tribe. As we move along, if something is hindering us, we opt out and pursue another route--that is, the tripartite agreements.

    We're not suggesting that the Indian Act is the best thing since sliced bread. It's--

+-

    The Chair: I haven't heard anybody say that yet.

¾  +-(0830)  

+-

    Mr. Eugene Creighton: It has hindered us all through the years.

+-

    The Chair: That clears it up. Thank you very much. We appreciate your help.

    We now call on the Kiska Waptan and Ta-Otha School, the principal, Butch French, to join us. Can you tell us if Norm McCullum is here also? Not yet?

+-

    Mr. Butch French (Principal, Ta Otha School, Kiska Waptan and Ta-Otha School): Mr. McCullum isn't with me. He was unable to make it.

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    The Chair: Are you okay to proceed on your own?

+-

    Mr. Butch French: Yes, I think so.

+-

    The Chair: We welcome you. We have 30 minutes together. We invite you to make your presentation, sir. You may want to tell us a little about the school too. We'd be interested in it.

+-

    Mr. Butch French: Okay.

    First, greetings to the elders, chief and councillors, ladies and gentlemen, and the panel.

    My name is Butch French. I'm the principal at Ta-Otha School. I'm in my fifth year as principal of the school. It's a school from K4 to grade 10. I thank you for asking me to speak about the school, because we're in the process of trying to get a new, permanent school. For 50 years, the community of Kiska Waptan has been holding their classes in a portable building. I think to some degree a point can be made about the success of the people because of the facilities they've had.

    We're trying to improve everything in the school. We've been working at literacy. We have a literacy program going on that we're documenting, and we're writing up the empirical evidence. We're doing this because there's only been one graduate out of that school, in 1965, although they did have a wooden school, a permanent structure, until 1965, which they built in the 1950s. So we're trying to change the school.

    I think, too, that plays a role in governance. I've heard something mentioned here earlier this morning about a third party looking after your finances, writing a code. I think in order to do that there has to be a forum where people can be educated so they know how to report in a system like we have now. I don't think that has been accomplished in the past.

    I do know now, when I look around--I've worked 23 years with first nations--I see people who used to be students of mine who are now chiefs or councillors or who have gone into social work. But it's only just beginning. In the Treaty 7 area, the Stoney Nation area that I work for, we've dealt with education only since 1877. We, those of European descent, have spent over 500 years in an education system, longer than that if you go back and take a look at how it was developed. So I think we're doing a very good job.

    I got a little sidetracked here. I said I had been a teacher for 23 years. I taught in elementary. I've taught at Kiska, at Tsuu T'ina, and in Stoney Nation. I've worked out of the Indian friendship centre in Vancouver. So I have, I think, quite a bit of experience with first nations, and that's why I wanted to do a presentation.

    When I first started working with the Kiska people in 1977, the biggest problem on the reserve was housing. It's now 2003, and I'll bet the biggest problem on the reserve is still housing.

    Education is another area that I find is a big problem on all of the reserves that I worked on--the completion of education.

    We talk about first nations being accountable, and there was mention here earlier about third parties working with the nation. I worked with third parties in the Stoney Nation as a band administrator, and I also was doing the adult education program in the evenings. This was about four years ago, when the third party was with the Stoney Nation.

    One of the things I learned working with the third party...although I think they had some very good ideas about how a system should work and making the system accountable. I found it difficult to go to meetings. In fact, I even went to the chief after one of the meetings and said that part of the problem for me was that there were too many racist jokes around the table. Not being native, I couldn't say anything, so I requested that if I was to continue to go to these meetings, I would like to have somebody from the first nation that I worked with at these meetings. The following meeting we did have someone, and gee, all the jokes stopped.

¾  +-(0835)  

    I know it's rough for people to go into first nations communities when they've never been in one before. I think they're shocked at the poverty they see. They're shocked at the ghetto-type living conditions for a lot of people. I can give you the names of families in probably every first nations community I've ever worked in where people sleep in shifts because 18 people are living in a three-bedroom house. So making laws doesn't seem to be a priority for a lot of people when they're just trying to find shelter, find enough money to feed and clothe everybody, and now find enough money to buy the gas to get them to the store so they can get that stuff.

    Treaty 7 was signed in 1877. That was one year after the first Indian Act. I've done a lot of reading on the Indian Act and on the history of the people who signed Treaty 7. In all the documentation I didn't find at any time anybody bringing up the Indian Act to the people who were present at the signing of Treaty 7, at least not the native people.

    I also find, on governance, a lot of the people I work with don't understand why it's being put in place. I think they understand if there is deception or fraud within their nations, but that happens in every nation. Gee, just look at the government and how many ministerial inquiries we've had recently. MacAulay is one we can cite. I can't remember the Department of Public Works person.... You have the same problems. It doesn't matter what type of government you're in. The federal government is supposed to be transparent and accountable to all people, but we still have corruption, and it does happen.

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    The Chair: You have to be careful.

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    Mr. Butch French: Okay, allegations. That would be the same in first nations. But I think if we go back to the signing of the treaty in 1877, it was an agreement between nations. At the signing of Treaty 7, you had the Blackfoot Confederacy. You had Siksika, Peigan, Kainai. You had Tsuu T'ina, a different people. You also had the Nakoda people, the Stoney people. Traditional enemies were the other members of Treaty 7. They saw it as a peace treaty and they saw it as a signing between nations.

    I don't know how much history the members of the panel here have of Treaty 7 and of the Stoney Nation, but some of their complaints have been going on for years. For example, in the area where I am, Kiska Waptan, they've been waiting; in 1894 they submitted a land claim that has never been dealt with. But in 1972 the Honourable Jean Chrétien, who I believe was Minister of Indian Affairs at the time, recognized in a letter that they had a moral right and obligation to land in the Kiska Waptan or Big Horn area.

    I believe after that Mr. Trudeau called an election and, well, we got the new land claims process, so everything was resubmitted. As far as I know, that claim is still sitting in the justice department somewhere in Ottawa. For 104 years we've been trying to get something resolved, yet I see a commission now here encouraged by Mr. Nault to resolve some issues that have happened throughout the country when a nation of people can't even get the federal government to sit down and listen to their claims.

    Why do I bring this up? Well, read the history of Treaty 7, read the history of the Stoney Nation. Does anybody sitting around this table know how the land was surveyed? Well, it was partly done while the surveyors were out here, and when they couldn't finish it here--I believe it might have been called lines and technical surveys at that time--they finished the survey based on maps they had back in Ottawa. They didn't even take into consideration the people in the northern part, and we'll call that the northern part of the Stoney Nation where I'm from right now.

    When they signed the peace treaty between the colonists and themselves, they thought they were going to share the land and to share the benefits derived from the land. Again this is a personal opinion, but in my working with first nations and talking with the elders, I think the benefits were along a communal idea, and I don't see that now. I see imposition. I see the continuation of the oppression--if you don't listen to us, we're going to impose it anyhow. Isn't that what the codes are that are coming? If you don't have the codes....

    But at the time of the signing of the treaty, you were dealing with leaders who were accepted by the people, and we have leaders who are accepted by the people now. We have in most cases--I know within the Stoney Nation itself--bylaws. All those bylaws, except for dog bylaws, have to be approved by the Minister of Indian Affairs and have had to be done that way since the signing of the treaty. So I think you know they do have a code.

¾  +-(0840)  

    This year in the Stoney Nation, there are three. There's the Wesley Band, there's the Chiniki Band and the Bearspaw Band. The Wesley Band has a four-year term for the first time. It has always had a two-year term. The two-year term was imposed with the Indian Act. The Chiniki Band has a three-year term, a first-year term...a first while it was imposed with a two-year term.

If you go back and read the history of the Indian Act, it was up to the Indian agents whether a band could have a three-year or a four-year term or a two-year term, whether they were right or ready for it. I think we have to remember these things.

    They were promised an education so they would be on an equal footing. That was promised in the treaties too. The education has come a long way. I think we all know now there are many first nations people attending universities, trying to get the skills to stay away from guns, bullets, and rifles, and to use the pen to create the life they would want for their people.

    Sometimes I look at the governance act and it's like what happened to Louis Riel at his trial. I believe one of his lawyers was a Nault. I have no idea if he's related to the Minister of Indian Affairs or not. At the same time we had a Prime Minister in the country called John A. Macdonald, who had a dream. He had a dream to establish a united Canada from sea to sea and he did it through the railroad. We praise him and we study him in history. Louis Riel had a vision about a way to help first nations people first in Manitoba and then later on in Saskatchewan. In the case of one man--John A. Macdonald--we read in history about all the positive things he did for the country, and until just a few years ago we all believed that Louis Riel was a traitor. I shouldn't say all; the Métis people didn't.

    It's interesting that we would hang one man for a vision that shows governance. He wanted to create first nations governance and to help run the country. He was elected to the Parliament of Canada and had to sneak in and sneak out. It was a shame, because maybe we should have listened to him. Maybe we wouldn't be sitting here today, but we would actually have the governance that everybody wants.

    For us as first nations, or for the community where I am, one of the things we have to look at--and I mentioned it at the very beginning and a couple of times throughout--is the treaty. The treaty was an agreement between two nations. That agreement was signed by the leaders of the two nations at the time, or their representatives. I think we have to go back and start there, not just running with the governance act that we have here now.

    I had hoped to be able to bring you a book. Maybe I can send a copy of it to you.

¾  +-(0845)  

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    The Chair: To the clerk.

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    Mr. Butch French: To the clerk? Okay, I will. I think I spoke to you on the phone. I'd like to send you the book. It's called The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7. In my mind--and I'm speaking based on my 23 years of experience working with first nations--that's the place to start.

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    The Chair: At this point I'll interrupt. I'll allow five minutes each side for questions and we'll leave you with four minutes for closing remarks.

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    Mr. Butch French: Okay, thank you.

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    The Chair: Mr. Vellacott.

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    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: One of the things you mentioned here--and I know it's come up before too, because some are saying the real concern on first nations communities across the country is really a little different from the direction of the bill. I think some are suggesting that. There may be some real validity to that.

    One of the things you mentioned here, and I want to relate it to the education role you've been in over these number of years, is the issue of housing. Now, it's a chicken and egg thing, because if you don't have employment, you don't have housing. And if you don't have proper housing, then all the other things in your life aren't coming together and it makes it difficult in terms of education and employment and so on.

    But how do you respond to that as an educator? Do you see the sequence of literacy and education and as a result, not necessarily automatically, that people have employment and housing and then all these other things? Do these codes and stuff come way at the end or at a different point in Maslow's hierarchy, if you will?

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    Mr. Butch French: With housing, I think if we had adequate housing and employment.... I really do believe employment is the key to everything here.

    Kiska Waptan is a small community. When I first went up there, I was in adult education, and it was hands-on programs. When we created work, where we had 95% of their people employed, the attendance at school was up too. Isn't that interesting? Everybody has to get up and go to work, so the kids go to school. It became a normal thing. They saw a way to improve the quality of life. We'd see those same people in town on the weekend, buying new clothes for their children.

    Sure, there's welfare, but welfare doesn't allow you to walk around with a lot of pride and respect. I think employment is a key issue in all the communities, and yes, education has a big effect on the type of employment you can have in the community, but I think the communities have to see that there is a future there.

    When you have 18 people living in a three-bedroom house, most everybody sleeps in shifts, because there's just not enough space. There will always be somebody up. Does that have an effect on the schooling? Yes, I think it has a big effect on schooling. I think kids come to school tired, exhausted. Some kids come to school in some areas just for the meal.

¾  +-(0850)  

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    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: It's a bit of a vicious circle, then, I would suppose, because in a lot of the band situations, with the land they were allocated, and so on, there doesn't seem to be a lot of economic development opportunity. Maybe there's more than the creativity and vision of outsiders and first nations people themselves...maybe there's more possibility there, but how do you respond to that? You've worked in first nation communities for a number of years.

    With as full employment as possible, is that conceivable in some band situations where there are very limited resources, and so on?

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    Mr. Butch French: I don't believe you can have full employment on all reserves.

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    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I mean reasonably high employment.

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    Mr. Butch French: Speaking of the ones I've worked on, I would think you would be happy to be able to get 65% to 70% employment on a reserve, and then the rest would have to be around the reserve. I think that's possible on some, but not on every reserve. I know right now, when I said 95% of parents were working on the reserve, I'm only in a community of 200 people. So we're only looking at 32 out of 35 parents who would be eligible for work.

    So, yes, we could do it, and if we had a bigger land base, we probably could support even more people in the development.

    One of the things I see, in trying to answer your question, is that a lot of private companies now, resource companies, are beginning to see advantages in doing partnerships with first nations rather than just moving in, developing the resource, and leaving. I think these partnerships, where they work together, have many more benefits for the community and create more employment. I do believe that, firmly.

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    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I guess the gist of my questioning, too, is to say that for all the flaws and demerits and so on of Bill C-7, even if it was universally acclaimed, it's only one small piece of a puzzle, in fact, compared to the other great needs of employment, and so on. Obviously those are the bread and butter issues that people are concerned about, and there have to be ways to address that from within, or assistance from without.

    I want there to be those full opportunities for aboriginal people, first nations people. Whether or not this bill was adjusted in a major way and we got it to the satisfaction of everybody around the table here, I still think there are those issues that need to be addressed in creative and aggressive ways to have that kind of employment. We have a burgeoning birthrate in my own province of Saskatchewan, and it's going to be a major concern and problem unless we do hit that side of things, too.

    That's my simple point of questioning. Thank you.

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    The Chair: Monsieur Binet, you will need a translation device. There are six of them, so that they're always ready for the witnesses, plugged in and ready to go.

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    Mr. Butch French: Yes, I have it.

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    The Chair: Thank you. Monsieur Binet.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Good morning, Mr. French. I congratulate you on your presentation.

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    The Chair: Please speak louder.

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    Mr. Gérard Binet: This is a great experience for me, since I have been sitting on the committee for two years and there are no aboriginal communities in my constituency. This is why I found our sessions of yesterday and today very useful indeed.

    You seem to have a good understanding of the system and to have read a lot about it. I am sure very few people can say they read Bill C-7 in its entirety. There is also all the previous legislation.

    Minister Nault asked his department, when they started drafting the bill, not to tamper with aboriginal rights or financing methods.

    Do you believe that the department complied with these instructions? Or do you think that some of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal people are affected?

¾  +-(0855)  

[English]

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    Mr. Butch French: I believe it is affecting traditional rights. The point I was trying to make is that back with the signing of the treaty, it was nation to nation. That would be government to government, whether it was one chief or a panel of chiefs. That was a system, and it was already in place. So I believe that is one way it's affecting the traditional rights of the people.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I have a question to ask. It's not going to be a clear question, but it's something that troubles me after all the weeks of hearings we had in Ottawa as well as yesterday and today.

    I don't think the minister got up one morning and said, let's do something with the Indian Act. He got some complaints. I get a lot of complaints, and the complaints I get are from people at the grassroots who say, we don't know what our leaders are doing; we don't know what controls there are; don't know how much my chief makes; I don't know what the job description of the administrator is. A lot of this bill is designed to make that public information. To me, that's a major part of this bill, yet nobody will talk about it. Nobody will volunteer information on that issue, but the grassroots are coming to us.

    I'm not asking you to put yourself between the communities, because I understand you're probably of European descent and working with first nations. Somebody is going to have to help me out as to why we won't talk about this. But if you find it uncomfortable, just tell me.

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    Mr. Butch French: I don't find it uncomfortable. People in the community have asked me what I make in wages and I don't have any problem telling them. I think it's very transparent in our community, and was even before the third party came. There are a few people from INAC in the room who probably know that.

    All the budgets I did for the community when I worked as band manager were done publicly with everybody. I would do the whole budget and show it to the community, and then we would make minor changes.

    I just did the education budget for the school and sent it to the Stoney education authority and the superintendent. All the staff at the school saw the budget. Again, we will make changes to the budget. That has been going on, at least in Big Horn, for as long as I've been there and I've been there 10 years. So that was even before the third party got here.

    Why? Maybe part of the answer to your question comes from the department. The department was never very good at reviewing what kind of money they spent on first nations. But the people who are taking the brunt of the force for that now happen to be the first nations. That's the accountability and transparency. INAC was never accountable or transparent. I don't even know how they got around it. They just never gave out the information. That was it.

    I can tell you some of the things that I found really strange in education. When I first started working on the Blackfoot Nation in 1977 and we asked for funding to help us with FAS/FAE children, we heard from superintendents of INAC and other INAC representatives in meetings that there was no alcohol problem on our reserve. They hid that for many years. But they didn't hide it, because everybody who lived in the community knew the problem was there.

    In regard to the chief and council and their funds, I think in all the budgets their salaries are mentioned. As far as I know, that is done in a public debate, so they would see that. Now, as for whether all their expenses are public knowledge, I don't know.

    I know there were some changes made within the Stoney First Nation. But I believe there was some misunderstanding, and I don't think it was outright fraud; I think people believed what they were doing was correct. They were doing the same role as everybody else. They went to a committee meeting and they were chair of the committee meeting. They expected some remuneration or honorarium for that. I believe there was a system at some time, maybe even within the Canadian government, where honorariums were given for meetings you attended--maybe not in the past 20 years, but previously.

    I can't say for sure for all the nations. As I said at the beginning, there is corruption in all governments. We're all aware of that.

¿  +-(0900)  

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    The Chair: Absolutely.

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    Mr. Butch French: I wouldn't know how to stop it.

    But accountability is there now; it's beginning to appear. What I see partly here too, in accountability with this, is that you're forcing first nations to be municipalities. I don't think all first nations want to be municipalities. This is another way of introducing taxes. I just wish our forefathers had as much insight as first nations forefathers had when they did not want to be taxed and let it be known that they were to be taken care of.

    We all agreed in the First World War that we would allow ourselves to be taxed to support the war effort. Little did we know that 70 years later we'd still be paying taxes, and now we're going to support another war. I think first nations should be able to work on their own with corporations outside of their reserves to develop the reserves to their fullest potential.

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    The Chair: I thank you very much. I'm glad I asked the question. Your answer was very helpful,because people suspect anything that is unknown. But you put a good twist on it by saying it started with Indian Affairs years ago and they want to clean that up too. Hopefully it'll be to the benefit of everybody. But I'm glad you put that good twist on it.

    Thank you very much.

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    Mr. Butch French: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Do we have a representative from the Piikani First Nation in the room?

    Do we have a representative from Stoney First Nation, Chief Darcy Dixon? No.

    We will suspend for a few minutes.

¿  +-(0903)  


¿  +-(0922)  

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    The Chair: We'll resume proceedings on Bill C-7, An Act respecting leadership selection, administration, and accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other Acts.

    We are pleased to welcome Dolores Day Chief, the council liaison from the Kainaikiiks, the Voice of Blood Indian Women.

    We ask you to introduce to us your colleagues and to make your presentation. We have 20 minutes together.

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    Ms. Dolores Day Chief (Council Liaison, Kainaikiis, the voice of Blood Indian Women): Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for inviting us here. You have heard from our leaders this morning, who are commonly referred to as the Kainaiwa.

    We do not have any legal counsel with us, as it is not part of our customs. We are here representing 500 women and their families of the Blood Tribe of the Kainaiwa Nation.

    I'm the only woman on the band council, and I also sit on the tribal government committee, but unfortunately I was not invited to participate here until this morning.

    With me are Lois Frank and Connie Mills, who are part of the Kainaikiiks Women's Secretariat, which was formed last year in response to the many social and economic development concerns of our people and of the women of the Blood Tribe. We were fully or unanimously endorsed by all of the delegates, and today we speak on their behalf.

    Tribal governments in Canada must be accountable to the people, but the Blood Tribe's government has adopted a corporate culture and uses the Indian Act guidelines in its administration. It has established corporations and legal entities, thus sidestepping its responsibilities to all our membership. The tribal administration and legal entities dictate to the Blood Tribe council, and band funds are fuelling the needs of corporate interests.

    Bands are often faced with the problem of split accountability, as they are elected by the people but answer to the federal government. Our band council has established a pillar system delegating the responsibilities of tribal governments to a handful of officials. They are currently seeking to establish a legislative body within the structure, which will further distance the people from government. The danger of this is that the power would rest in the hands of a few people.

    Therefore, we recommend the following: the Blood Band chief and council should inform and ratify any changes affecting the governing structure of our band; the current pillar system must be dismantled, as the tribal council has narrow powers in the general governing structure and is unable to make decisions without having a general view of the tribal governments and administration; the Blood Tribe's council should make decisions with a full consensus, rather than with the simple majority used today; and the council should have better control and input into band council resolutions, rather than relying on administration to set the agenda for our people.

    Thank you, Chairman.

¿  +-(0925)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Do your colleagues wish to contribute?

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    Ms. Lois Frank (Board Member, Kainaikiis Secretariat): I understand you have a copy of the presentation in front of you.

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    The Chair: We don't see it, and unless it's in both official languages it won't be distributed.

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    Ms. Lois Frank: We have 15 copies, and were told they would be here.

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    The Chair: Are they in both official languages?

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    Ms. Lois Frank: In most cases, no.

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    The Chair: Okay, it won't be distributed, but it will be translated. Every member will get a copy in both languages, even those who are not here.

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    Ms. Lois Frank: Maybe I'll summarize for you, then.

    Dolores mentioned the secretariat that came into existence because a lot of the concerns were brought about by the women as well as a lot of the men in our community who felt they were not being represented. Perhaps I could make an opening statement.

    Aboriginal people have governed themselves according to their own dictates since time immemorial. With the advent of the treaties and the Indian Act, first nations people have found themselves mired in foreign policies that did not reflect their inherent traditions. The powers and authorities of first nations have been delegated and shaped by external government.

    The Indian Act was designed to regulate and restrict the activities of Indian people. Today, the government seeks to redress those problems, and native people are now faced with the task of salvaging fragments of their government traditions and rescuing the federal government from their own dilemma.

    We feel very strongly that a lot of people on the reserve in our community are not being represented. We're quite concerned. We support the tribe. We have the same vision; however, we have different views on the way it should be done. We share the view that aboriginal rights should be affirmed and entrenched in any changes that are being made, including the First Nations Governance Act. We hold the treaties to be sacred and not subject to changes by the government or the courts. That, we affirm.

    We are most concerned about the human rights issue. There are many violations that occur in native communities across Canada, and a lot of them have to do with denial of basic services, housing, access to social services, elder abuse, violence, a number of social concerns.

    At our conference we had 12 pages of recommendations from the people who came to our conference, and they were all listed. We had them all give their opinion and we presented this to chief and council. We also presented a band council resolution that they signed. We presented a draft of something the women wanted, and they gave us a band council resolution supporting us.

    We brought those concerns to the tribal council, but oftentimes when you talk about human rights, political rights are discussed rather than social and economic rights, and this is where the women come in.

    You heard from our leaders this morning. They are looking at a grandfathering clause that would exempt them from the process. But we are looking for a grandmother clause where we can monitor the activities of not only the federal government but also the tribal government, because, as Dolores mentioned, the danger is that the power rests with very few.

    We're concerned about the first nations. There are a lot of violations occurring that are a direct consequence of the Indian Act. We're not blaming our leaders. A lot of the times when we go to bring these up, it results in divide-and-conquer. We do not wish to do that. We are here. We care about our families, our community, and our leaders. We are not here to divide, but we are here to present what the women have mandated us to present.

    We are most concerned with this document that is called the “Amended Blood Tribe Custom Election” As the solicitor mentioned today, our customs were not written, but this is written and this is being referred to in every document that is being presented. This document uses the principles of Kainayssini, but these were not ratified. This was not ratified by all the people, yet this is continually being used.

    One of the concerns we have is that the referenda practices are opinion polls. With the change from the two-year system to the four-year system, it did not go to a vote. It went to an opinion poll survey that was conducted. Under their legislation, they can do that. That most concerns us.

    We believe that an independent first nations tribunal should be established to look at human rights. However, if that cannot occur, we would like to see the Human Rights Act applied to our people, because a lot of these violations are happening to our people in the name of these big entities, corporations that are coming onto our reserves.

¿  +-(0930)  

    I could spend a lot more time on this, but I believe this document is a source of a lot of contention. We were told that we were undermining the authority of chief and council by coming here to speak to you, and we were told that our funds to do this were going to be denied. We have a document that says that. We are most concerned about being here today.

    We support our leaders, and we want to support them. We've gone to them to help us. We have social issues. We have a lot of problems in our community. But nothing has happened.

    This concerns us, because I think a lot of these documents are a reaction. They're reactionary documents to the Indian Act. They're not our true customs. Our true customs were 14 bands, two chiefs. We decided. They were unpaid positions. The leaders cared about the people. Now it has become that the interests of the institutions, the Blood Tribe administration, take precedence over the interests of families. We have massive social problems, and we want them addressed.

    Sometimes we believe a governing structure such as this cannot do it without going to the people continually, and they cannot be afraid of us. We have to be able to speak out.

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    Ms. Connie Fox (Blood Tribe Member, Urban Aboriginal Inter Agency Committee, Kainaikiis, the voice of Blood Women): Good morning. For the record, my name is Connie Fox.

    Basically, what the First Nations Governance Act is not doing is addressing the issues and concerns that Kainaiwa and Kainai Blood Tribe women brought forward in our conference, which was held last year and will be proceeding again this year. We do not support the First Nations Governance Act, based on those principles.

    Currently, the Indian Act does not provide financial accountability or monitoring of band governments referred to in financial transfer agreements. In your proposed First Nations Governance Act, there's no identification of any policing or monitoring.

    Under the FTAs, the band is accountable only to the federal government, and this sometimes conflicts with the needs of the membership. It is conflicting with the needs of the membership. This provides too much flexibility and leads to mismanagement of funds designated for band members. The FNGA sets out minimum standards for any financial management and accountability.

    We are concerned about past practices by bands and government. Therefore, we recommend the following.

    We recommend that the membership have access to the existing financial transfer agreements in order to have input and endorsement of such agreements before they are signed.

    In conjunction with the above, we recommend that the chief and council, legal entities, and the Blood Tribe administration present financial statements, as well as audited statements, on a quarterly basis.

    We recommend that the chief and council consult in developing an overall business plan with the membership on an annual basis.

    We recommend that the federal government support and endorse those changes that the membership has chosen. The first nations governance initiative is very, very vague.

    We come from a position for aboriginal children and families who are residing on the Blood Indian Reserve. The First Nations Governance Act does not provide any of those changes that will meet the heightening and continued heightened social and economic conditions that they are having to face on a daily basis.

    Thank you.

¿  +-(0935)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Did you wish to add to this, Ms. Day Chief?

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    Ms. Dolores Day Chief: I'd like to comment on the leadership selection.

    We recommend that the members be given the option of choosing a leadership selection process, be it traditional, neo-customary, or the Indian Act, and it must be consistent with human rights principles and natural laws of justice.

    We recommend that the Blood Band adopt a democratic referenda practice, a full majority of the electorate. Today, a simple majority is used.

    We recommend that an equal number of seats be designated for the women on band council--that's one of our strongest statements--since first nations women have been disadvantaged by a patriarchal elective system imposed by the Indian Act.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you. There will be time for questions.

    We thank you for a most excellent presentation. You did your homework. You talked about the issues that we're here to talk about. I suspect that you're very courageous to be here. Great communities are built by courageous people, so the people you represent are lucky to have you. I know you'll make a better community because of your involvement.

    Mr. Chatters.

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    Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Again, I would reinforce the chairman's comments. It's a wonderful presentation, but the longer I sit and listen to the presentations, I become more and more confused myself about what this bill is about and what it's trying to achieve. It was my impression, from listening to the minister and listening to the department, that this bill is trying to achieve exactly what you're looking for. It's trying to empower the people of the band--to give more control to the people and make the leadership accountable to the people of the band. Yet, there seems to be some suggestion that it's not, that it's a derogation of treaty rights, and I don't quite understand how it is seen that way.

    In my area I have complaints every day--the same kinds of complaints that you're talking about--on social issues and election irregularities and those kinds of things, that the people don't seem to have any power to do anything about.

    While this is not my party's bill--this is a government bill--I believe the minister has offered us a genuine opportunity to make this bill better, to make it address the issues that you're talking about, if in fact it doesn't. It would be extremely helpful for us, particularly as opposition members, to have specific amendments to specific clauses of the bill that you say are vague. If you could provide us with amendments to those clauses that would remove that vagueness and make it achieve what you want to achieve and present them to the clerk, we could take those amendments forward when we go clause-by-clause in this bill.

    Then we can in fact make it a better bill and make it do what you want it to do, because it's far from perfect. But my hope is that it takes us a step in the right direction to resolving some of the issues that you talk about. I think if we abandon it, if the opportunity is lost, that would be a shame for families and for Indian people in those communities.

¿  +-(0940)  

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    Ms. Dolores Day Chief: I think the concern people have is that this process was rushed. Most of our people do not know what is happening in our community. We've tried to bring this out and to have dialogue. We've had some dialogue on it. We are speaking to the group tomorrow again at our conference.

    The concern people have is that they're mistrustful. We were already empowered. We don't need to have an outside body give us power. The fact is that our leaders have this split accountability--we elect them and you tell them what to do--so they're in this quagmire. For every solution you come up with to a problem, there are 20 more created.

    There has never been a real study as to the effects of the current Indian Act, so to make amendments to something that we know is flawed is asking us to do something that could be very detrimental. We needed the time. We haven't had the time and we're being asked to choose between two systems, the Indian Act or custom. And we're saying, wait a minute, there isn't just the Indian Act. The customary documents that some of the tribes are using are neo-customary. We didn't have these documents. It's neo-custom, remember that.

    Traditional government has a totally different structure for first nations all over. I think this is where the suspicion, the mistrust.... There are things we agree with in the bill, but there are things we do not. But we haven't had the time and we're being rushed and we're being told you have to do this, on both sides. So the women are saying, whoa, wait a minute, this concerns our family and we are not going to be rushed into doing something our communities do not understand yet.

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    Mr. David Chatters: But my understanding at least of the bill, and the way I read it, is that it provides the flexibility to choose the customary, the neo-customary, the Indian Act, or any other codes the people of the band choose, that the flexibility is there in the band for the people to make that choice.

    The process has been going on for two years. However, I recognize that because of the position of the Assembly of First Nations and the chiefs, there's a block there to getting opinion and information flowing back and forth on this bill between the people and the government and now the committee that's dealing with the bill. We have to somehow overcome that.

    The flexibility, in my opinion, and at least from what I see, seems to be there. Of course, the other choice is to bypass the Indian Act and Bill C-7 entirely and move to a self-government model, the Nisga'a model, the Ron Irwin offer that went out back in 1994 for bands to opt out of the Indian Act and enter self-government. That's the other option that's still there; at least, my understanding is that it's still on the table.

    There's a lot of flexibility being offered here, and my hope, as a member of Parliament--again, I'm not the government, I'm in opposition--is that sometime you could go back to those traditional forms of government, that you could run your own affairs, your own communities, and that we could solve this ongoing problem. This appeared to me to be a small step in the right direction.

¿  +-(0945)  

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    Ms. Lois Frank: But I think there is a different world view. What you term to be self-government may be viewed by aboriginal people as self-administration, that the programs are only going to be downloaded to our people, the same types of programs and standards as you have as government. You put our leaders in a difficult situation because of this notion. Is it self-government? Nobody has been able to define it, anyway.

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    Mr. David Chatters: Yes, when you're starving, half a loaf of bread is better than no loaf of bread.

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    Ms. Connie Fox: May I add a comment to that?

    With respect to the first nations governance initiative, the whole process and how it was developed did not have the consult of first nations. That's when we talk about mistrust. We have again a governing body that is telling us how we should do things, how we should maintain our reserves, how we should care for our people. First nations governments felt any proposed changes to the current Indian Act would have been ideal if they had 100% input from first nations. The FNGA did not.

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    The Chair: Well, that leaves us with a very difficult job. We know our job is difficult. What do we do? What do we do as a committee? We go clause-by-clause on the proposed amendments, and the committee votes no to 59 clauses, and then we're stuck with the Indian Act and we've changed nothing.

    I'm asking you, is that what you want us to do as a committee, trash Bill C-7, which are amendments to the Indian Act? If we trash Bill C-7, the Indian Act's still there. Some people don't like my example, but I'll use it anyway. It's like a broken-down car.

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    Ms. Connie Fox: Can I ask a question, just for clarity?

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    The Chair: Yes, just a moment. I'll finish my story about my car.

    The bill is like a broken-down car because the Indian Act is a flawed piece of legislation. And what this committee is trying to do for the House of Commons right now, with Bill C-7, is to patch up that car so we can bring it to the garage where we get self-governance and scrap the darn things--the car and the Indian Act.

    People tell us, scrap it now. And none of us seem to believe it would be better to stay with the Indian Act the way it is, because it is flawed. That's the dilemma we have.

    I now invite your comments.

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    Ms. Connie Fox: Am I to understand that if we don't come up with concrete direction of what we want, we're not going to go back to this issue, that the federal government is not going to allow for input and changes to the Indian Act based on good faith and continued dialogue with first nations, that this is where it stops?

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    The Chair: This is the bill we are mandated by the House of Commons to study, Bill C-7, nothing else. We hear a lot of history that is interesting and important, and it breaks our hearts to hear a lot of the stories. This is the attempt by the government to try to make it better, not to make it right, to make it better, because we know the Indian Act is an impediment. We have a big job to do.

    We're at 25 minutes, so we'll allow you two minutes of closing remarks.

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    Ms. Lois Frank: I just wanted to leave you with this, with regard to your question. Indian people have long believed in the natural laws of the universe. There's a chain of causation. Many of those who attempt to understand the concerns of aboriginal people often fail to locate the source of these conditions outside of themselves and their institutions.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I now invite, from the Stoney First Nations, Chief Darcy Dixon from the Bearspaw Band.

    Following this presentation, for those of you in the room, we will be inviting anyone who has not addressed the committee to do so if they wish. We will invite them to make a two-minute statement. We will proceed to this immediately following this presentation.

    I welcome Chief Darcy Dixon. I invite you to introduce your colleague and to proceed to your presentation. We have 30 minutes together.

¿  +-(0950)  

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    Chief Darcy Dixon (Bearspaw Band, Stoney First Nation: Good morning.

    First of all, I would like to thank this committee for waiting for me. I don't know if I'm late or early. I thought I was supposed to be on for 9:30, but it seems that the government and its representatives are learning what Indian time is all about.

    With that being said, my name is Chief Dixon and I'm from the Bearspaw Band for the Nakoda Stoney people. With me is Charles McCaskill, who is the tribal administrator. I'm here today to speak on behalf of the Stoney chief and council as well as the Stoney Nation.

    I won't take too much of your time because, as you mentioned earlier, I have to go outside and fix my car. Under the Indian Act, that's all we Indians are looked at as: used vehicles.

    That being said, I was hoping today I would see first nations people sitting around this table to discuss the changes with regard to the Indian Act that the minister is planning to implement. Until that's done, the Government of Canada will be continually holding forums such as these. We, as first nations people, people of the land before treaties were signed, before Europeans came, have governed ourselves, and we will continue to do so, as long as the sun shines and the river flows, under our treaties.

    I don't see anything mentioned under this bill that involves the treaties of first nations. Until the peoples of Canada understand exactly what the treaties are about, we, as first nations people, will have a hard time implementing any changes from the federal government.

    I think, as a first nations leader, of the changes to these acts I've seen in my own community. Back in 1995 to 1997, I'm sure everyone here in this room saw the Stoneys in the newspaper because of the mismanagement of funds that occurred with our nation. The federal government had to intervene. The federal government had to take control of our finances, of the way we basically govern ourselves, and of the way we communicated with our nations. Yet, we are still under a monitoring agreement with the federal government, and it's the year 2003 and nothing has been done to come to closure, even though the nation has cleaned up its debt during that time, within five months.

    Financial accountability: the Stoneys agree with that. We need to be accountable to all our nation members. We need to provide information to them by holding band meetings, getting on our local radio station, sending out newsletters, which we're all doing. Participation in our communities could be 15% to 20%. We govern ourselves, we're accountable, yet the responsibility is held by the federal government.

¿  +-(0955)  

    So I've seen through the years, as an elected leader, that these changes that are before us in part have to do with what my people have had to go through. The Stoney people are one of the richest peoples in terms of resources. We're not the richest people, but we do have resources such as natural gas. How do we account for that? Any money that we get from the production of those resources is directed right to the federal government. From there, we have to go to ask for our own money.

    These are some of the issues that we face as a nation. The Stoneys are in favour of economic development and redress, yet we need the participation of the federal government to continue its consultation with us as tribal leaders, but also with our people who are back home, and especially with those people who are in school and in post-secondary institutions, in universities, because they will eventually be the leadership of our nation.

    I'm not here to criticize or to put down any changes that are coming down from the federal government, because I know that no matter what I do or what I say, it'll still happen, but at least I'm here to voice my concerns.

    We deal in government-to-government relations when we sign the treaties with the Crown, and I think if we were continuing to look at it in that way, any financial agreements that are made between the federal government and first nations should be made in partnership, not made by the people who sit in Ottawa and work for the Government of Canada. These are some of the concerns we face.

    As I said, I have another meeting to go to. These are just some of the concerns that we face back in our community.

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.

    Did you have any questions, Mr. Chatters, Mr. Hubbard, or Monsieur Binet?

    Chief Dixon, If you wish, you may make closing remarks, or maybe your colleague has remarks. No? Thank you very much.

    Now we will proceed to the portion of our meeting where we invite the general public to participate by making a two-minute presentation. It doesn't seem as if we have many of them here. Therefore, we'll give you three minutes.

    We will start by asking if Mr. McLean is here. Would you approach the table, please? Mr. McLean is here as an individual and is a member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. Welcome. We invite you to make a presentation. You have three minutes. Please proceed.

    There won't be any questioning.

À  +-(1000)  

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    Mr. Bill McLean (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual): It's a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to make my presentation. I'm 82 years old, and I graduated from only grade eight when I was in residential school. I left school over 60 years ago.

    I can't fit into my forefathers' footsteps when making presentations. My forefathers were able to speak right from the heart without reading their notes, but I have to read my notes.

    My presentation is on treaty promises and the Indian governance act.

    At the time the treaties were made in Canada, in 1877, our forefathers made a peace treaty with the Queen's representatives, and those treaty promises that were made included special rights such as education, health care, fishing, hunting, and sovereignty.

    My father, Tatanga Mani, or Walking Buffalo, was a translator for the three signatory Stoney chiefs when they made peace treaties. Back in 1892, when he came out of school, he had to do some translation for the three chiefs, and he told me that at that time our leaders put a lot of hope in the promise of education. It was our understanding that our people would make the most of educational opportunities so that one day they could administer their own affairs and govern their own people.

    After all these years, so many of the natives have received good educations. They have gone on to colleges and universities to become professionals. In the last few years, we have been hearing about Indian self-government, which I do not fully understand. I will believe in self-government when there is a change in the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa.

    The government needs to allow a great many more of our first nations people to work in Indian affairs. Then, when they expect us to administer our own affairs, we can better work side by side with the Government of Canada. That is the time when I will believe in Indian self-government.

    The first nations aboriginals are the only ones who understand and have a personal interest in their own people, in all aboriginal communities and all native reservations. Our own nation members know the needs of their people. They know there's a great need for change in the lives of their people. The first nations are the only ones who know where the Indian Act needs to be changed.

    I believe this new governance act will need to be made very clear. It needs to be understood by the first nations. It will be very difficult to implement without the first nations embracing a clear understanding and feeling confident that this is a good thing.

À  +-(1005)  

    I'll give you one example. In the movie called Dances with Wolves, a man was trying to feed the wolf, but the wolf would come only so far. The wolf would not accept the food because he didn't trust the man. That is the way we are as native people. When there is a change in the Indian Act, we need to know how it's going to affect our native people in the future. We still need special rights. We also need protection of our lands, revenue, and trust. We want to have the same privileges that any other Canadian citizens enjoy in our homeland.

    There are many things to mention about our opportunities. We as first nations had our own traditional education and teachings before European education was brought to our people. Our own traditional education system was based on the values of honesty, purity, unselfishness, love, respect, caring, and sharing. We were educated right in the home and grew up knowing all the principles of absolute standards of living. With this kind of education, our people were able to trust and respect each other.

    The sad thing is that with the modern government education system, we were put in residential schools for 8 to 10 years, where we lost so many of our own Indian values and grew up knowing what we were taught in the schools. This is what led to the crumbling of our civilization, the dependency, the loss of men with good values. This is why we need a change in our system, actually a return to self-government in the best way possible.

    Back then, before residential schools and all that, the aboriginals had their own governments. With their kind of traditional education and teachings they were able to administer their own affairs. They could govern their people because there was trust and respect amongst the people. In those days there were no forked tongues making promises that were made to be broken.

    I was outside of North America back in the 1960s, and quite recently I've been to Caux, Switzerland, to attend an assembly of people discussing initiatives of change. With the United Nations talking about globalization, it was clear there was a need for a change in different nations so that people can live without fear and live a free life. There are many concerns in the United Nations about the Africans and the native people of North, Central and South America. Canada is very much involved.

    We must make a decision to put right what has been wrong in the past. It will be best to have more honest consultations, take more time and plan the right solution for our first nations and for the next generation. First nations do not want to be assimilated, because we love our identity and our Indian nation and we also love our country. It's time we were recognized as a nation, because we did not come from a foreign country; we originated here in Canada. We aboriginals are indigenous people but have been classified as third world people. It's time we were given the opportunity to rise and speak up for ourselves as first nations.

    Last, I'm a founder from the Stoney Nakoda Nation at the age of 82 years old. I have seen so many changes in this country. I've seen our nations and our people endure so much injustice, manipulation, discrimination, and prejudice, yet we're able to live in respect of our fellow men. We need to be given an apology so that our hearts can heal. We can forgive and build a reconciliation for the nation in Canada. Only then will we be able to understand, trust, and respect each other and all other nations.

    Thank you.

À  +-(1010)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much. In respect for you as an elder, your two minutes became eleven minutes. Your communities are wise to turn to elders for advice and for wisdom. You've expressed a very well-thought-out presentation, which will be helpful to us.

    I'm wondering about the wolf. I understand that eventually the wolf did trust the man. So what can the government do to gain the trust of the first nations? Do you have advice for us, so that we can pass it on to the government, so that the government can win your trust?

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    Mr. Bill McLean: That's one of the reasons I brought up this example. Just because we don't understand each other, we can't trust each other.

    A movie showed a man trying to feed a wolf nice food, but the wolf would just come so far and wouldn't accept the food because he didn't trust that man. As native people, that's the way we are right now. As I mentioned, we have come through so many injustices that it makes us feel like this.

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    The Chair: Your example is excellent, and we will take back to the government the message that they need to work harder to gain your trust.

    Thank you very much.

    I invite Cassie Lefthand, a member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation representing herself.

    Ms. Lefthand, you also have three minutes, but take the time you need as I won't look at the clock.

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    Ms. Cassie Lefthand (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual): Good morning. [Witness speaks in her native language]

    That means “good day” in our language.

    I have a lot of things to discuss, but I'd rather go to Bill C-7.

    I was raised by two elderly people, my mom and dad. My dad always used to tell us not to accept anything coming forward from the white people. So that has been with me all my life, ever since I can remember.

    I think the treaties are very important to us. A lot of promises were made. They haven't come to pass yet, but we're still hanging in there. Our treaty was signed so that we could have freedom.

    Nowadays it's really scary to be living on your reserve. I'm talking about the young people. You never know what's going to happen to you while you're sleeping. It's that dangerous.

    Talking about the Europeans who came across, it seems as if we, the first nations people, have been forgotten. We have been pushed away, and you are letting the immigrants take over our place. That's how I see it. If you go into the city of Calgary, you'll see that everything has been taken over by the immigrants. Where are we? Where do we stand? We've been pushed away. We're suffering. Even though those treaty promises are still there, it's not happening. The reason I said we've been pushed away is that you hear on the news every day that those immigrants are killing each other. Even on the sidewalks they're shooting each other.

    We have the right as treaty Indians to claim our lands. I come from a little reserve. The population must be about 500. I think we should be claiming more land, because our population has become overgrown.

À  +-(1015)  

    A lot of things were promised to us when we first signed the treaties. My grandmother was about 13 at the time they signed that treaty, and I can remember what kinds of stories she used to tell us about the signing. All those little things she told us I still have kept as a secret thing. But now I might say, where do we stand as first nations people? What are you guys doing for us? We need help, as well as other nations.

    We're just a tiny reserve and we're lacking housing and education. We have a big problem in busing. We have our own kids—I think there are about 35 of them between the ages of 6 and 13—and Indian Affairs won't allow us to have our kids bused into the provincial schools. They keep telling us they're not going to pay for it unless we bring our kids back. But I've been with the school for about 25 years and I know what's going on; I know what's happening. Right now we're fighting for it, and I don't know who's going to give us the help so that we can get busing for our kids. We have busing provided by the province, but it's not allowed to come into the reserve; it's only allowed to come as far as the health centre. We need help there.

    I think there are about 35 kids who are suffering right now. I even said I was willing to come to Ottawa on this matter if our kids aren't being looked after. I call it discrimination. They're just kids. Why do they have to discriminate against them? It gives you a very unhappy feeling when you talk about it.

    We've been asking our chiefs and councils to assist us. Nothing has happened. They keep telling us that since the council members and the chiefs got the new school on the reserve, all those kids have to come back to that school. But it's not so; each individual parent has the right to choose where to send their kids.

    We really need help on this. We need somebody who can look into it and give us a hand, so we don't have to worry about driving our kids as far as the health centre, or driving them in to the school when they miss the 7:40 a.m. bus and we have to drive them into Longview.

À  +-(1020)  

    I think this is part of my job, and I'm getting old. I don't think I'll be doing it all the time. I myself, an elderly person, was raised to respect other people. I'm supposed to respect people who are older than I am. I think about these things. We have forgotten everything about respecting and helping each other out. Also, we're slowly losing some things our parents and grandparents taught us.

    In a way, I don't think we're ready for Bill C-7; we're not even ready. I think we are 20 years, maybe more, behind. So I don't think I myself, as an elderly person, will accept it.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much. I want to thank you for your presentation and also for being so vigilant and patient. You've been sitting here for a day and a half and you have much to say about making life better. We take your message back to Ottawa. Those children are lucky to have you there protecting them.

    Thank you.

À  +-(1025)  

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    Ms. Cassie Lefthand: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Is there anyone else in the room who wishes to make a presentation?

    Therefore, I will suspend until 10:40, the time we were supposed to open up to individual comments. At 10:40, if no one is here to make a personal comment, we will move on to Nanaimo, I understand.

    We are suspended.

À  +-(1025)  


À  +-(1036)  

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    The Chair: We will resume proceedings.

    We welcome Sylvia Dixon, who is a member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. We invite you to make your presentation, and we will try to keep it to around three minutes.

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    Ms. Sylvia Dixon (Member of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, As Individual): I'm Sylvia Dixon. I'm a member of the Stoney Bearspaw Band. I'm happy to be here with the House of Commons. I'm really happy about that.

    One thing I was going to try to say is that we should have met with those people before this happened; then we could study all the problems we have on our reserves, our land. Our chief and council who are working with us are pretty good to us.

    I would like the Stoney people to stay the way they are. I don't think I can be changed. If the Creator said I had to be changed, that could happen, but I don't think the members from Ottawa can change me. I would like to stay the way I am right now, with my people, the Stoney Band. It's really important to us.

    I haven't had a good talk with the members from Ottawa. I would like to have talked to them way back then. My grandfathers used to say, your land is going to stay, your treaty. From then on, they told us, it won't go away; the sun is shining, the water is flowing, and the grass is growing. That's what they said to our people. That was a long time ago, but I don't think it's old. It's still new to me, the way I look at it.

    I think that will be all for me. I can't talk too well. I have a sore throat.

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    The Chair: We thank you very much for your comments. You do speak very well. I hope you will fight anyone who tries to change you, because anyone who tries to change you is not being a good person.

À  -(1040)  

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    Ms. Sylvia Dixon: Thank you.

-

    The Chair: Are there any others who are here to make presentations on their own behalf? No.

    Thanks to the community of Red Deer for their participation, their excellent presentations, and the seriousness they have applied to the work we are trying to do. I want to thank everyone.

    I particularly want to thank, because it went so smoothly, all the support staff--our clerk, our researchers, and everyone else who had anything to do with organizing these sessions. I want to thank you sincerely.

    The proceedings are adjourned.

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