News News StoriesenActionHousingElders Care CenterGovernment and Industry RelationsGroup of CompaniesMembersEnvironmentThe Canadian PressNorthern JournalArchivesFri, 14 Dec 2012 20:05:47 +0000Mikisew Cree First Nation Challenges Bill C-45<h2>For Immediate Release - <a href="/media/uploads/MCFN%20Challenges%20Bill%20C-45.pdf">PDF</a></h2> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Fort Chipewyan, Alberta (December 14, 2012) – Chief Steve Courtoreille and the Council of Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) are proud to announce their unwavering opposition to Bill C-45 (Jobs and Growth Act 2012). “We will never recognize any law which is passed by the Government of Canada which does not have our consent and any such law will not apply on our reserve lands and traditional territories”, says Chief Courtoreille. “We have not been consulted and have no option but to reject this arbitrary action on the part of Prime Minister Harper and his government.”</p> <p>“Bill C-45 will trample on the rights that accrue to us as members of our First Nation.” The leadership of MCFN, like other First Nations across Canada are concerned that the Government’s omnibus budget bill includes new legislation regarding the leasing of reserve lands, First Nations education, on-reserve voting rights, and the abolishment of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, among others. “We will not sit idly by while the Prime Minister Harper and his government run rough shod over our rights” says Chief Courtoreille.</p> <p>In 2005, Mikisew Cree First Nation successfully argued in front of the Supreme Court of Canada that the Canadian Government had failed to consult with MCFN when it attempted to take up lands in Wood Buffalo National Park. That case, one of an important trilogy of First Nations consultation cases in Canadian jurisprudence, firmly established that the Government must consult with First Nations when it contemplates any action, which may impact on unproven or established First Nations rights.</p> <p>MCFN expects that the Government of Canada will consult the First Nation regarding any proposed changes to the Indian Act or associated legislation. “We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Government of Canada through an open, transparent, and mutually respectful process” says the Chief. Chief Coutorielle will be attending the protest against Bill C-45 in Edmonton, Alberta on December 21. He encourages every citizen of MCFN to join him, “Bring the flags. We want every Mikisew member there.”</p> <h3>Contact</h3> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Steve Courtoreille<br>Chief<br>(780) 838-0893 <br></p> </div> <div class="column"> <p>George Poitras<br> Chief Executive Officer <br>(587) 985-4954 <br></p> <h3><a href="/media/uploads/MCFN%20Challenges%20Bill%20C-45.pdf">Download PDF here.</a></h3> <p><a href="/media/uploads/MCFN%20Challenges%20Bill%20C-45.pdf"></a></p> <p> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>Mikisew CommunicationsFri, 14 Dec 2012 20:05:47 +0000 New Houses Raised in Fort Chipewyan for Mikisew Membership<p><img alt="" height="1572" src="/media/uploads/DSCF7470.jpg" width="2668"></p> <p>Technical Services is proud to announce ten new homes under construction for Mikisew membership. Seven homes will stand in Fort Chipewyan and three houses on Doghead Reserve. Technical Services has a staff of 48, most of which are a part of the new home construction. Seven staff are students training to become certified carpenters at Keyano College, and they will continue on to apprentice in future construction projects headed by Mikisew Cree.</p> <p>Jerry Voyager took medical leave from his duties as the Director, and he is happy to be back at the helm. He feels that Mikisew Cree is one of the best employers he has ever worked for,</p> <blockquote> <p>"They got a good team, a great Chief and Council. Happy employees make the difference every morning. If you got unhappy employees then you don't get much work done. They started construction in late August, and I've been back now for four weeks. All the homes that we built were closed in within two weeks time. And in four weeks we have four houses with full electrical, all plumed in, with windows and doors. Hopefully (cross our fingers), we will have all ten turned over to Housing by the end of March--end of April."</p> </blockquote> <p><img alt="" height="1672" src="/media/uploads/DSCF7468_ws.jpg" width="2508"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Mikisew Cree Technical Services crew members brave the morning frost to get homes built.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Another part of Technical Service's responsibilities is demolition of the old nursing station to prepare for the Elders Care Centre construction. The five-person crew will tear down the entire inside of the building, leaving nothing but the outside four walls. Any material that can be salvage will be reused or made available to the community for use in personal building projects. Jerry puts it well,</p> <blockquote> <p>"The more work for our people on this project means less money spent on outside contractors."</p> </blockquote>Mikisew CommunicationsMon, 26 Nov 2012 17:45:43 +0000 for Community Support in Litigation Against PLAR<p><img alt="" height="2048" src="/media/uploads/plar.jpg" width="2048"></p> <p>Mikisew Cree is preparing for litigation regarding the Public Land Administration Regulation (PLAR), and we are now in the evidence gathering stage. Some surveys have already been completed, and now legal is going to get further information by conducting a series of interviews with people making use of public crown land (outside Wood Buffalo National Park). The main participants thus far have been in the Fort McMurray area, and we are currently trying to find out other people in Fort Chipewyan who may also qualify to participate.</p> <p>PLAR includes a number of restrictions on land use, all of which impair First Nations people from executing their Treaty Rights:</p> <ul> <li>Individuals are now required to obtain an access permit from <em>Sustainable Resource Development </em>(SRD) to go out on the land for more than 14 consecutive days for the purposes of hunting, fishing, gathering and camping, even when these activities are protected as Treaty or Aboriginal rights—the permit has to be renewed every 14 days</li> <li>Permits are also required for “events”, which is defined in such a way to include cultural, spiritual or harvesting activities that are done collectively</li> <li>Wheeled or tracked conveyances, such as ATVs, are not permitted on the shores of any waterways, even if they are being used in order to facilitate the exercise of Treaty or Aboriginal rights</li> <li>SRD is now able to set “disturbance standards” on lands, which could further restrict the exercise of Treaty or Aboriginal rights</li> <li>Authorizations are required for the construction or occupation of cabins</li> <li>A number of restrictions apply in public land use zones and public land recreation areas, including in relation to firearms, fires, vehicle use, camping, dressing game and removal of firewood</li> <li>Some areas of Crown land will be closed entirely under PLAR. The Crown says those closers will apply to First Nation land users exercising Treaty rights, just as the closures apply to all Albertans.</li> </ul> <p>There is no honoraria available for volunteers, but travel expenses will be covered by Mikisew Cree Government and Industry Relations. To get on board with Mikisew Cree's litigation against PLAR, please contact Jocelyn Marten at (780) 697-3747 or email</p>Sebastien FeketeSun, 25 Nov 2012 01:00:51 +0000 and Industry RelationsAnnouncing Shell Contribution to MCFN&#39;s Elder Care Centre<p><img alt="" height="1297" src="/media/uploads/rect11295.png" width="2048"></p> <p>Chief Steve Courtoreille and the MCFN Council are very pleased to announce that Shell has allocated $500,000 to the First Nation for the Elders Care Centre. The funds, which are being flowed to the First Nation through Shell's Social Investment program and will be applied to the costs of the construction of this facility. The First Nation, is also eligible to apply for further assistance in 2013 and 2014 in this regard.</p> <p>Chief Steve Courtoreille and Council wish to thank Shell for their generous contribution towards the well-being of all of our Elders in Fort Chipewyan.</p>Trish Merrithew-MercrediFri, 23 Nov 2012 19:00:00 +0000 Care CenterGovernment and Industry RelationsFort Chipewyan Elders Care Center Project Update<p><img alt="" height="1502" src="/media/uploads/Elders%20Care%20Facility/ECC.jpg" width="2792"></p> <p>Fort Chipewyan enjoys many services on-site but as most people know there is not a centre available for Elders who require long-term and continuing care in order to remain in the community.  It has always been a dream of the leadership that one day the First Nation would be available to provide this kind of care for the Elders.  Chief Courtoreille and the MCFN Council are very pleased, therefore, to be able to announce that they have bought and are redeveloping the old Nursing Station in Fort Chipewyan as an Elders Care Centre. </p> <p><img alt="" height="1712" src="/media/uploads/Elders%20Care%20Facility/ECCinside.jpg" width="2450"></p> <p>The Centre will be staffed 24 hours a day with three shifts.  Licensed Practical Nurses will be the primary care givers and assisted in the delivery of resident care by activity aides, a rehabilitation assistant, and a resident support worker.  In addition, there will be a Nurse Manager and a Nurse Practitioner who will be responsible for the overall management of the facility and the delivery of care to the residents.</p> <h2>Timeline</h2> <blockquote><strong>Underway</strong> Salvage and Demolition <br><strong>January 2013</strong> Groundbreaking Ceremony and Construction Begins <br><strong>December 2013</strong> Furnishings and Equipment Arrive<br><strong>June 2014</strong> Grand Opening and Move Ins</blockquote> <p>When the Centre opens in June 2014, it will contain 12 beds for Elders and other members of the community who require this kind of care.  Some of the rooms will be able to accommodate couples, and be used to provide palliative/respite care, and an isolation room.   At present, representatives of the First Nation and the consultants are preparing the tender package to select the contractor who will begin actual construction in early spring 2013.</p> <p><img alt="" height="1275" src="/media/uploads/Elders%20Care%20Facility/FloorPlan.jpg" width="1650"></p> <p>The final floor plan, which was developed by Group 2 and Western Health Planning Associates, will contain spaces for the residents to dine, a resident lounge and library, an exercise and rehabilitation room, a tub room and spa, and a quiet area for the residents and their families.   One of the special features will be a cultural area shaped liked a teepee.  The poles of the teepee will extend above the roof and form a distinctive part of the sky line in Fort Chipewyan.  The grounds will also be landscaped to include space for small gardens for thoe residents who wish to do so, quiet areas for sitting and looking at the lake and just spending time outdoors.</p> <p>A Task Force whose members include a number of Fort Chipewyan residents has assisted the consultants who are developing the project under contract to the MCFN.  The members include, Marjorie Glanfield, Stella Marten, Blue Eyes Simpson, Vi Jenner, Margo Vermillion, and Cookie Simpson, among others.  Our thanks go out to these persons who are generously donating their time and energy.</p>Trish Merrithew-MercrediWed, 14 Nov 2012 16:20:50 +0000 Care CenterMikisew Government and Industry Relations (GIR) and Group of Companies (MGOC) Roadshow<p>Find out what's new and exciting in business and relations. Community Road Show Meetings take place from 3pm to 9pm at these dates and locations, dinner at 5:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>November 19</strong> Fort McMurray, Stonebridge Hotel<br><strong>November 20</strong> Edmonton, Chateau Nova Hotel<br><strong>November 22</strong> High Level, Stardust Hotel<br><strong>November 23</strong> Fort Smith, Pelican Rapids</p> </blockquote> <p>The Fort Chipewyan meeting will take place at the Community School from 12pm to 5pm on November 24. See you there!</p>Mikisew CommunicationsThu, 08 Nov 2012 16:47:13 +0000 and Industry RelationsGroup of CompaniesMichael Bourke Graduates with Honours, Thanks Mikisew Cree for Supporting His Journey<p><img alt="" height="2500" src="/media/uploads/Michael_Bourke%20Jr_gradPhoto%202012.jpg" width="2000"></p> <blockquote> <h2><em>"Without Mikisew I don't think I'll be where I am today.  They helped a lot—not just financially—but by giving me a reconnection to who I am."</em></h2> </blockquote> <p>Michael Bourke started studying graphic design at the Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 2006. He transferred into the Social Service Worker - Native Specialization program in 2007, graduating two years later and moved on to a Social Work Degree at the Laurentian University. This year he graduated with honours, and while starting a new family plans to move into his Masters degree. Mikisew Cree First Nation has been funding Michael since 2006.  Michael talked about his experience with Mikisew Post Secondary,</p> <blockquote> <p>"I found Mikisew to be very helpful in situations where I needed funding. They were there all the way and it was a very positive experience. If I had any questions I was able to openly talk to Marlene Simpson, and there were lots of correspondences over email. We had a good rapport, we have a very good relationship. If there were any issues where I needed extra assistance she was there to help in any way she was able, wether it was financial or just about my situations in school."</p> </blockquote> <p>Throughout his career as a student Michael also refers to his memories and experinces to help him face the challenges of student life.  During our interview Michael described his memories of Fort Chipewyan, </p> <blockquote> <p>"Being affiliated with Mikisew helped me figure out where I am coming from. Not only that, it gave me a chance to see who I really was—my culture, my background. I remember the rocky roads, a few houses here and there, on a boat with my grandfather in the summer times, I definitely remember the winter road. Learning my identity and where I'm from has helped me become a much more balanced person."</p> </blockquote> <p>Michael plans to pursue his Masters either in Toronto or Waterloo. In 2007 he was only looking at a two year program followed by employment in social work, but closer to the end of his program he realized what is possible with education:</p> <blockquote> <p>"After coming out of it, I realized that I need a lot more education. I need a lot more to understand the issues that face Aboriginal and First Nations people. To get a better understanding, university is the best path. Not only that, it gives me a better insight into my culture and who I am. I want to continue my education to find something to help my people overcome the barriers. Knowledge is power, and the one you can make a difference out there is if you get the education and use it."</p> </blockquote>Mikisew CommunicationsMon, 05 Nov 2012 18:06:50 +0000 Results are in: Some Wildlife Parts are Harmful to Eat, Others Inconclusive<p class="p1"><img alt="" height="1604" src="/media/uploads/DSCF5281.jpg" width="2615"></p> <blockquote> <p class="p1"><em>Dr. Steph McLachlan presenting his findings to community members</em></p> </blockquote> <p class="p1">At Dr. Steph McLachlan's presentation in Fort Chipewyan he described the results of an environmental study he conducted from Summer 2011 to Fall 2012. His focus was on the health and possible contamination of wildlife that the people of Fort Chipewyan and surrounding communities eat daily. The study examined three types of wildlife: moose, muskrat and ducks; each species was examined by a vet and three tissues were sent to independent labs for testing. The tissue were liver, kidney and muscle and each tissue was tested for heavy metal and PAH contaminants.</p> <h3 class="p2"><strong>Summary of results from heavy metal contaminate testing</strong></h3> <p class="p1"><strong>Muscle (meat, no fat)</strong> Safe<br> <strong>Kidneys, Liver</strong> Unsafe for children and pregnant or nursing women.</p> <h2 class="p1"><strong>PAH Testing</strong></h2> <p class="p1">PAH means polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. This key word is <em>hydrocarbon</em>, these pollutants come from hydrocarbon industries like oil and gas. Although Dr. McLachlan's studies show there is no detectable PAH contaminates in these animals, this can be attributed to a few design problems in the study. Some glaring issues were pointed out by community members.</p> <p class="p1">Cookie Simpson explained that the animals collected were collected from the freezers of local hunters and trappers. Dr. McLachlan tells the community that he considers traditional knowledge to be better at indicating animal health than western science. The problem is <em>the people with the greatest amount of traditional knowledge are the ones collecting healthy samples</em>. The hunters know what animals are sick and they don't take them home to their freezers. No sick animals were collected for this study, and they have based an entire study on the healthiest animals. Dr. McLachlan replies, "These were all in people's deep freezes and people were going to eat them.  In a sense that works both ways: it really says more about the kinds of animals that people will eat, but it doesn't say much about what's happening in the environment."</p> <blockquote> <h2 class="p2"><strong>"We really sampled the wrong tissues — it's not really surprising that we didn't find anything"</strong></h2> </blockquote> <p class="p1">Arsen Bernallie was not convinced that studying ducks would accurately represent what was happening locally, since the ducks are a migratory bird. "The ducks could have come from as far north as the Arctic or as far south as Texas". He also mentioned that muskrats don't live in polluted water, another reason why only healthy animals are showing up in the study.  Dr. McLachlan speaks to the muskrat issue saying, "The muskrat only occur in unpolluted waters. This is what people are telling us again and again. Even though we will continue collecting muskrat we will shift to beavers... if there is an effect by say, the oilsands; we will expect to see that in the beavers when we sample them."</p> <p class="p1">The third and perhaps most damaging point about the study is the fact that no fatty tissues were sampled. PAH's do not dissolve in water, and like oil they float. PAH's enter the food chain through the fatty tissues of animals and the concentrations multiply as the fat is ingested by another animal or human. In a human, the first place of contact for the PAH's is the gall bladder and small intestine, followed by other <em>soft tissues</em> and ending up in fatty tissues throughout the body. Dr. McLachlan explains that collecting the gall bladders or bile ducts of animal for sampling is difficult and requires someone trained locally, and his solution for Phase Two is to send whole ducks off to get their bile ducks extracted by a trained individual. He expressed a desire to move away from PAH testing altogether because it was four times more expensive than testing for heavy metals. This is not as solution, Dr. McLachlan admits ducks are not accurate in determining local contamination. This study did not find any PAH contamination because it was looking at the wrong tissues.</p> <p class="p1">Probably the most interesting thing Dr McLachlan said about the PAH testing was, "The problem is that when you sample this bile (the bile duct) is that is difficult to do out here.  What you need is scientists trained or community members trained, or what we do is ship the whole animal to the ALS. The PAH's — from a western science perspective, because we really sampled the wrong tissues — it's not really surprising that we didn't find anything."</p> <h3 class="p2"><strong>Summary of results from PAH contaminate testing</strong></h3> <p class="p1"><strong>Fats</strong> Inconclusive</p> <h2 class="p3"><strong>Where do we go from here?</strong></h2> <p class="p1">There is a dilemma. Animals don't have rights like people do. If we stop eating off the land then it doesn't matter how much it is polluted because no humans are being harmed. If we eat off the land (a way of life protected by the treaties), we are exposed to harmful chemicals from industry and development. To people that hold a great deal of traditional knowledge the source of the problem is clear and obvious, but for the rest of the world to take notice the link has to be proven without a doubt using scientific method. The researchers that conduct these experiments are outsiders with their own interests and motivation, but in the end this is our community and our study. We have control. We can push for proper experiment design that tests the proper tissues, and we can get community members trained to collect sick animals and extract these <em>environmentally significant</em> tissues.  We can push to study animals that are higher on the food chian (predators like jackfish or bear),  where PAH contaminates are highest and the most dangerous to people of Fort Chipewyan and surrounding communities.</p> <p class="p1">Dr. McLachlan wants traditional knowledge to be a big part of the study, but from the perspective of the participants traditional knowledge was used to collect healthy animals. The ideal marriage of traditional knowledge and western science would put the knowledge holders on the land to collect the problem animals. Then western science (practised by trained locals) could be used to extract the proper tissues and get a better idea of the level of contamination of our waters, wilderness, wildlife, and food supply.</p>Mikisew CommunicationsSat, 20 Oct 2012 00:19:47 +0000 Honorable George Tuccaro receives Lifetime Achievement Award, Mikisew Cree well-represented at awards ceremony<p><img alt="" height="1809" src="/media/uploads/S0493908.jpg" width="2318"></p> <blockquote> <p>"It starts right from our parents when we grew up on Bannock and Lard Avenue in Fort Chipewyan, and it permeates our lives. We have developed a drive to survive."</p> </blockquote> <p>George is a member of Mikisew Cree First Nation and started his broadcasting career in 1971. He server as the Communications Officer in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs until 1981 when he became the Coordinator of Aboriginal Languages Programming for CBC North. George continued with CBC until 2002 when he built his own company, GLT Communications. GLT Communications brought plenty of workshops and major artists to the North West Territories and on May 12, 2012 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that George Tuccaro was appointed Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.</p> <p><img alt="" height="2508" src="/media/uploads/S0123706.tif.jpg" width="1672"></p> <blockquote> <p>David Tuccaro takes home the Business Award.</p> </blockquote> <p>David Tuccaro is the president and CEO of Tuccaro Inc and an extremely successful entrepreneur. Tuccaro Inc is a group of companies that individually provide services in heavy machinery, industrial waste, soil testing, water analysis, purified water delivery, and so many more industries. Tuccaro Inc's companies aim to employ local, aboriginal people and they have a combined staff of more than 200. David was given the National Aboriginal Achievement award for Business and Commerce in 1999, and continues to be recognized for his contributions to business and national standing as a leader in Canadian business.</p>Mikisew CommunicationsWed, 17 Oct 2012 04:02:34 +0000 Missing and murdered Aboriginal women remembered<p><img alt="" src="/media/uploads/S0864562.tif-0.jpg"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>photo by Bradley Saulteaux</em></p> </blockquote> <p>For two years, the family and friends of the late Amber Alyssa Tuccaro spent every day not knowing what had happened to her. She had been at a hotel in Edmonton in August 2010 when she vanished.</p> <p>Last month, her body was finally returned home to Fort Chipewyan after being discovered in a field near Leduc on Sept. 4. That brought some peace to her loved ones who were able to finally put her to rest on Sept. 28. An investigation into her death, which is being considered suspicious, is ongoing.</p> <p>The questions of why and how this happened still linger, and those in the community want to see an end to the violence that has led to over 500 missing Aboriginal women across the country.</p> <p>“We have to stop this violence,” Chief Steve Courtoreille of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan told the crowd at the Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk in Edmonton on Saturday. “This starts at home, how we teach our children to be respectful to one another, to their mothers, their grandmothers.</p> <p>“There’s women that are missing from my First Nation. A young lady was found just recently, and that was the toughest thing I had to face as a leader - to show strength and support to the family, to show that I care. I had to make changes in my life in order for me to be a better person,” he said.</p> <p>“The traditional role of men as protectors must be brought back.”</p> <p>Speaking alongside Chief Courtoreille at Edmonton City Hall were Amber’s family and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, who came to pay his respects and offer himself as a “cane” to those needing support.</p> <p>“In the past few months, there have been discoveries of several murdered, missing Aboriginal women in Alberta. My condolences go to the families,” he said.</p> <p>Atleo said the issue remains a top priority for the AFN. This summer, leaders at the assembly’s annual general meeting vowed to live violence-free “in their hearts and homes,” and got the premiers of all provinces and territories to sign on to addressing the issue. But, he said, more work needs to be done to get all agencies to recognize the seriousness of the issue.</p> <p>“We must continue to address the jurisdictional police barriers and increase cultural awareness and sensitivity of officers and agencies investigating these cases, so they are alive to the fact that indigenous women and girls have a sacred responsibility to their families and are, in fact, the strength of our communities,” he said.</p> <p>Around 160 vigils and marches were held across the country last week to honour and bring awareness to missing and murdered Aboriginal women, including a candlelight vigil in Fort Smith, NWT on Thursday evening.</p> <p>Around 30 people gathered to pray, share stories of loss and sign a petition calling for a national inquiry into missing Aboriginal women.</p> <p>Marilyn Napier, president of the Native Women’s Association of the NWT, said there is strength in unity.</p> <p>“As women, as the givers of life, we have a great responsibility to ensure the well-being and safety of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers,” she said. “Our men also have an important role to play as our supports and in ending the cycles of violence. Our leaders are strong and they are supporting this issue. We need to work together. As a society, Canadians are also coming out to stand alongside us in solidarity. This is why we do this work. This is why we are here today. This is why we are committed to moving this issue forward.”</p>Meagan WohlbergTue, 09 Oct 2012 12:00:00 +0000 JournalReduce Bullying in Our Schools<p class="p1">The Athabasca Delta Community School can use the Community Members assistance by volunteering their time during the students outdoor recesses.  Mikisew Cree First Nation Council and Staff will be offering their help to assist with the supervision during these times.  With the help of everyone in the community, we can decrease the bullying issues the school sometimes faces.  If you are interested in giving a small amount of your time for the betterment of our children's education, please call or email Vallery at (780) 697 3740 with your choice of days and times.</p> <p class="p1"><strong>08:15–08:30</strong> Morning Exercises</p> <p class="p2"><strong>10:00–10:15</strong> Morning Recess</p> <p class="p2"><strong>12:15–01:10</strong> Lunch </p> <p class="p2"><strong>02:10–02:25</strong> Afternoon Recess</p> <p class="p2"><em>It takes a community to raise a child. </em></p>Vallery VermilionThu, 04 Oct 2012 04:49:32 +0000 Annual Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk<div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <h2><img alt="" height="2523" src="/media/uploads/Stolen%20Sisters/poster.jpg" width="1663"></h2> </div> </div> </div> <h2>Sisters in Spirit Rally </h2> <p>Saturday October 6th, 2012 <br>City Hall, Edmonton, Alberta<br>11:00am–3:00pm </p> <h2>About the Sisters in Spirit Rally </h2> <p>The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) launched the national Sisters In Spirit Campaign in March 2004 to raise public awareness of the alarmingly high rates of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada. In November 2005, the campaign became an initiative. NWAC believes we are in an urgent state of affairs with regards to the safety of Aboriginal women in Canada.</p> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk was created in May 2007 to raise national awareness to the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Métis, Inuit, Non Status and First Nations women in Canada. Reports show that Indigenous women aged 25–44 are five times more likely than other Canadian women (of the same age) to die of violence. Together we <em>can</em> make change!</p> <h2>Agenda</h2> <p><strong>11:00am</strong> Honor Song (Drummer), Welcome/Overview and Introduction of Elders, Acknowledgement of Families and Elected Officials (Danielle &amp; April Eve)</p> <p><strong>11:10am</strong> Opening Prayer by Elder Rose Wabasca</p> <p><strong>11:30am</strong> Introduction of Guest Speakers. Speeches to follow</p> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <ul> <li>National Chief Shawn Atleo, Assembly of First Nations</li> <li>Treaty 7 Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead, Blood Tribe</li> <li>Chief Steve Courtoreille, Mikisew Cree First Nation</li> <li>Family of Amber Tuccaro, Rachel Quinney and Lucas Degerness</li> </ul> <p><em>Moment of Silence</em></p> <ul> <li>Mayor Steven Mandel, City of Edmonton</li> <li>Sgt Gerard MacNeil, Project KARE</li> <li>Councillor Tony Caterina, Aboriginal Portfolio, City of Edmonton</li> <li>MLA Deron Bilous</li> <li>Sgt John Respet, Project KARE</li> <li>Insp. Dennis Fraser, RCMP K Division</li> <li>Sophie and Muriel, Amnesty International and IAAW</li> <li>Amanda Gould, Message on behalf of 2012 SIS-SSAW Organizers </li> </ul> <p><strong>12:15pm</strong> Introduction of the Native Woman’s Association of Canada’s <em>National Enquiry Petition</em> (Support for the Immediate <em>Call To Action</em> Regarding the National Enquiry Into The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) </p> <p><strong>12:10pm</strong> <em>Invite all present to sign petition</em>, gather outside</p> <p><strong>01:00pm</strong> Walk led by families of the missing and murdered women.</p> <p><strong>01:45pm</strong> Return to City Hall for snacks and refreshments</p> <p><strong>02:15pm</strong> Peoples Poets to perform ‘Stolen Sisters’ song</p> <p><strong>02:30pm  </strong>Closing Payer, Elder Gillman Cardinal. Closing Remarks, Muriel Stanley Venne and Lewis Cardinal</p> <p><strong>03:00pm</strong> Open Mic</p> <h2>More Information</h2> <p>Check this page for updates.  For more information—and to lend your support to the Stolen Stisters Awaeness Walk—email </p> <p></p> <p>or call (780) 222-3052  </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>Mikisew CommunicationsWed, 26 Sep 2012 07:18:47 +0000 Student Program a Huge Success<p><img alt="" src="/media/uploads/Summer%20Students.jpg"></p> <p>Chief Courtoreille and Council are pleased to announce a very successful and meaningful summer for our summer students. This year they included: Trenton Waquan, Christopher Abraham, Kevin Courtoreille, Dalton Courtoreille, Nathaniel Adam, Roberta Courtoreille, Shancee Courtoreille, Sara Voyageur, Nicota Marten, Kristy Whitehead, Clayton Abraham, Kaitlin Courtoreille, Robin Courtoreille, Zachary Antoine, James Piche-Cardinal, and Dana Courtoreille. They began with the First Nation on July 9th and ended on August 31st.</p> <p>The students experienced work placements at Mikew Technical Services, Mikisew Communications, Chief Executive Officer's office, Elders Program, Education Program, Paspew House, MCFN Administration and Finance, Summer Fun Program, and Alberta Future Leaders program. In addition to those work placement experiences, students enrolled in a one week Class 7 Learners Driver Training; participated and assisted in the annual Government &amp; Industry Relations Cultural Retreat; attended a youth Environmental Camp in Nordegg, Alberta; attended a Youth Leadership Retreat in the Rocky Mountains; attend a one week Mount Royal University in Calgary orientation in classroom and lived on campus; and participated in a Life Skills workshop.</p> <p>Council would like to thank Albert John Courtoreille for his excellent supervisory experience with the students this summer, his coordination of all student activities and teaching healthy work habits.</p> <p>We look forward to another summer of genuine learning next year and wish all our students success in the coming Fall and Winter semesters back at school!</p>Mikisew CommunicationsMon, 17 Sep 2012 12:00:00 +0000 You – Hiy Hiy – ᐊᕀ ᐊᕀ<p>The Mikisew Days (Treaty Days) committee wishes to extend our sincerest appreciation to all sponsors and volunteers who contributed to the success of the Mikisew Days event held June 20- 23rd, 2012 in Fort Chipewyan Alberta.</p> <h2>Sponsors Eagle Feather (Gold)</h2> <p>Acklands Grainger<br>Mammoet<br>Shell Canada Energy<br>SODEXO<br>Super 8 Fort McMurray <br>Total E&amp;P Canada Ltd.<br>Yardstick Technologies</p> <h2>Buffalo Jump (Silver)</h2> <p>Alberta Pacific<br>Canadian Natural Resources (CNRL) <br>Enbridge Pipelines Inc. <br>Executive Flight Center <br>Imperial Oil Ltd. <br>SUNCOR Energy <br>Syncrude Canada Ltd.</p> <h2>Turtle Island (Bronze)</h2> <p>1st Nation Insurance<br>Alberta Indian Investment Corporation <br>Partsmaster</p> <p>To all the hardworking volunteers “Way To Go Team!”<br><em>Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.</em> ~Author Unknown</p>Mikisew CommunicationsWed, 22 Aug 2012 20:59:06 +0000 flight frightens Fort Chipewyan<p class="p1"><img alt="" height="1775" src="/media/uploads/flightpath2.jpg" width="2048"></p> <blockquote> <p class="p1"><em>The alleged flight path of Flight 304, as recalled by witnesses.</em></p> </blockquote> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1">Witnesses who say they saw a plane flying dangerously low over the community of Fort Chipewyan last week have submitted a formal complaint looking for disciplinary action to be taken against the pilot.</p> <p class="p1">The flight in question was a McMurray Aviation "Caravan" freight plane heading from Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray at 11:54 a.m. on Thursday. There were no passengers on board.</p> <p class="p1">Witnesses said the pilot flew too low and maneuvered dangerously close to the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) Business Centre and the Fort Petroleum Ltd. Partnership offices and fuel tanks.<br> <br> "The aircraft was nearly in a 90 degree bank with the top of the plane facing the Business Centre (the wings were almost vertical)," states the report. "During the flight, the plane was constantly descending until...the aircraft was at the lowest altitude, just above the tops of the trees."<br> <br> Witnesses claim the plane was a single engine, single-winged aircraft with yellow and black stripes down the side, consistent with the design of McMurray Aviation.<br> <br> MCFN communications officer Bradley Saulteaux was one of six witnesses who signed the official report. He said the incident raises immediate concerns about the safety of passengers and communities below.<br> <br> "I feel that McMurray Aviation does not care about the safety of the passengers or the communities they serve," he told <em>The Journal</em>. "Air travel carries our elders, our sick and our children more often than our healthy. Careless and unsafe flight leaves the passengers with fear that lasts a lifetime, and with air travel being such a huge part of life in these communities, we are only making life worse for those who are afraid to see a doctor because they have to board a plane."<br> <br> Saulteaux said he immediately contacted both the owner and general manager of McMurray Aviation to report the incident. He claims both denied any occurrence of low-level flight.<br> <br> "Flat out denying that any of Aviation's planes were in the area makes me feel that the company is based on lies instead of virtues," he said.<br> <br> Saulteaux sent a report of the incident to McMurray Aviation and is demanding both an apology and the suspension of the pilot. <br> <br> "If not, it's going to Transportation Canada," he said.<br> <br> McMurray Aviation owner and CEO Wade Komarinsky confirmed the company had a departing flight in the area at that time, but said the company is still investigating the allegations internally.<br> <br> "I've got two conflicting sides of the story, so I'm in the process of determining the validity of the allegations," he told <em>The Journal</em>, adding that there was a low-level survey plane from another airline doing duck surveys in the area that day, as well. <br> <br> He said he would compare the pilot's flight trajectory with the one claimed by witnesses on the ground.<br> <br> "(The witnesses) said a 90 degree turn; the pilot said maybe a 30-45 degree bank. And from the ground, the perspective does look a lot different," Komarinsky said.<br> <br> If the investigation shows the pilot violated regulations, Komarinsky said disciplinary action could be taken.<br> <br> "It varies depending on what the incident is," he said. "It could be a time-off penalty to more of a disciplinary or dismissal type of thing with a file being transferred on to Transport Canada for enforcement if he committed a serious violation."</p> <h2 class="p1"><strong>Not the first complaint</strong></h2> <p class="p1">The witnesses' official complaint contains reference to several previous allegations against McMurray Aviation regarding safety violations, including reports of pilots flying through dangerous conditions, like low ceiling and forest fire zones, pulling similar "dangerous stunts" close to Fort Chipewyan, as well as an alleged incident where a civilian passenger piloted a plane from the copilot seat with others on board.<br> <br> Komarinsky said those allegations have already been dealt with.<br> <br> "A lot of the stuff that has been reported has already been investigated by Transport Canada, and in a lot of the cases, the pilot did take the appropriate action," he said. <br> <br> "The civilian flying thing was reported to us through our internal safety management system, and passengers do occupy the front copilot seat, but they do not have control of the aircraft," he said, noting that does not go against regulations. "The pilot never releases control of the aircraft."<br> <br> The forest fire incident was an issue of traffic avoidance with an aircraft, he added.</p>Meagan WohlbergTue, 14 Aug 2012 12:00:00 +0000 JournalOttawa, Alberta break promise on oilsands monitoring: aboriginals<p><img alt="" height="431" src="/media/uploads/cpt8194022366_high.jpeg" width="647"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>An oilsands mine facility seen from the air near Fort McMurray, Alta., Sept. 19, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh</em></p> </blockquote> <p>EDMONTON - A "world-class" environmental monitoring program being set up in northern Alberta's oilsands region is being heavily criticized even before it gets fully up and running.</p> <p>In an angry letter to Premier Alison Redford, area aboriginal groups say the provincial and federal governments have already broken promises to involve them in the design and implementation of the system, which is considered crucial to understanding the industry's impacts and answering the concerns of its critics.</p> <p>"The Mikisew Cree and the Athabasca Chipewyan are extremely disappointed with the failure of Environment Canada and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to honour their promises," begins the letter obtained by The Canadian Press.<br>The June 27 missive points out that although federal and provincial scientists are already in the field, aboriginal people who live in the area remain "politically ostracized from all involvement."</p> <p>That's despite explicit recommendations from the experts who designed the system and who said aboriginals should be heavily involved through community-based monitoring and by tapping into traditional knowledge. Those suggestions were accepted in the implementation plan adopted by both governments.</p> <p>The letter also demands to know why no independent commission has been appointed to oversee the monitoring that has been repeatedly touted as "world class" by officials.</p> <p>"We wish to respectfully remind the premier that she promised in the February launch of the world-class monitoring system that there would be an independent commission to oversee monitoring," the letter says. "Given that the world-class monitoring program has been collecting data for almost eight months, where is this commission?"</p> <p>Alberta Environment spokesman Mark Cooper said both groups have had several chances this spring to have a look at the program and offer input. In some cases aboriginals have worked alongside federal scientists, he said.</p> <p>"It is critical that we have First Nations involvement," said Cooper.</p> <p>"We're continuing to engage with them. There have been many workshops with First Nations to discuss ongoing work and implementation of the joint plan which would include governance and how they would be involved in that."</p> <p>The program was announced last February in response to years of criticism that analysis of the environmental impacts of the massive and rapidly expanding oilsands industry was deeply inadequate.</p> <p>Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent and his provincial colleague Diana McQueen were present at the announcement and toured the area in July for a first-hand look at the early stages of the monitoring program, which will take several years to fully implement and is estimated to eventually cost about $50 million a year.</p> <p>The letter says that while millions have been allocated to support that work, no resources have been dedicated for research based on traditional knowledge, local training or involvement. It says the disconnect means Environment Canada is duplicating some work already being done by aboriginal groups.</p> <p>"We have had no opportunity to add our traditional knowledge to this process," the letter says. "We have received zero funding and zero training.</p> <p>"A monitoring program that disregards the entire accumulated body of knowledge of our (First) Nations, which have lived here for thousands of years, is not world class."</p> <p>Aboriginals have had no input into what should be studied, where studies should be happening, which species should be studied or how often, the letter states. It adds that neither group has seen the agreement between the two levels of government on how the program will run.</p> <p>A separate report on how monitoring should be governed was delivered to McQueen earlier this summer. It has not been released.</p> <p>"There's important policy decisions a government needs to consider before this report is released and that's exactly what we're doing," Cooper said.</p>Bob WeberFri, 10 Aug 2012 00:53:38 +0000 Canadian PressOpen Letter Concerning the Nunee Health Board Society<p>Dear Chief Adam,</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Re: Nunee Health Board Society</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I am writing to you and your Council in the hope we can reach an understanding on a way forward for the Nunee Health Board. I know the situation has been frustrating for both First Nations and there has been misunderstanding on all sides. In order to avoid any further miscommunication therefore, I will be forwarding my letter to my membership (as well as any other member of the community who wants a copy).</p> <p>My over-arching objective is to ensure that the services delivered by Nunee meet the health needs of all residents and are of the highest possible quality. As Chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, my Council and I have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure our members receive the kind of health services which will enhance their individual health, and that of the overall community. I am sure that you share my concerns as the Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.</p> <p>Let me begin by outlining the issues which I believe impede the ability of Nunee to deliver the kinds of health services which we have a right to expect. The Consolidated Contribution Agreement between Health Canada and our First Nations, as represented by Nunee, indicates there shall be a Community Health Plan (CHP), and that it shall be updated prior to the signing of a new Agreement. We understand that the existing CHP was prepared in 1996. To the best of our knowledge, the Plan has not been updated. If a new Plan has been prepared, we have not been consulted. I point this out because the Plan is a critical document which describes how Nunee will:</p> <blockquote> <p>“ … address and manage community health needs and priorities; health management structure; management and delivery of mandatory programs; management and delivery of community health programs; medical officer of health services; liability and malpractice insurance for staff providing health services; handling of drugs and medical supplies; the Moveable Assets Reserve budget expenditures; confidentiality procedures; accountability and reporting mechanisms; professional supervision; comprehensive budget; and training, emergency preparedness and evaluation plans.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Over the past number of years, the scope of health programming and support services has been significantly reduced although we have never received an explanation why? This includes a wide range of specialist medical services formerly available on-site in Fort Chipewyan, community wellness programming, medical travel, and the special interchange agreement for the nurses, among others. More recently, the Board signed an agreement with GRC Minisni Inc. and we are concerned by some of the clauses in this document. Without a Community Health Plan, it is impossible to properly plan to ensure that all existing, emerging, and/or new health needs, and priorities are responded to in an effective manner.</p> <p>The Consolidated Contribution Agreement indicates that Nunee shall also complete an evaluation of community health programs for every five year period of the transfer. To the best of our knowledge, this has not happened although Health Canada continues to provide the Board with the necessary financial resources to do so. This exercise is critical as it is intended to address the details of the community health programs and services delivered by Nunee, identify and measure changes in the health status of our members, and make recommendations to enhance the programs outcomes, operational effectiveness, and governance and management of the Authority.</p> <p>The Consolidated Contribution Agreement states that the Board shall prepare Annual Reports every fiscal year to provide a summary of the different health programs and services, as well as other information on the program outcomes and results. These Reports are supposed to be forwarded with a copy of the Annual Audit Report and made available to all residents. We understand that some Annual Reports have been prepared during the last 5 year period but they were incomplete. Moreover, the Board has never taken the opportunity to discuss these Reports with us or seek our input about the programs and services and/or how the existing delivery processes might be improved upon.</p> <p>The Amending Consolidated Contribution Agreement also states that the Board will maintain a system of accountability, transparency and openness to the residents. At a minimum, is expected that it will include:</p> <ol> <li>The Authority will maintain a system of accountability for all persons entitled to receive health programs and services under this Agreement which provides for:<br><br>(a) transparency and openness in the Authority’s decision making process as it relates to health programs and services under this Agreement;<br><br>(b) disclosure of the Authority’s written standards and any other policies or procedures of the Authority relating to the provision of health programs and services under this Agreement;<br><br>(c) redress for those affected by decisions of the Authority that relate to health programs and services under this Agreement.</li> </ol> <p>We have expressed our concerns on a number of occasions about how members who have complained about the service they have received have not been provided with a means of redress.</p> <p>My Council and I are also concerned that Nunee is operating under a co-management agreement. This decision was never formally communicated to us by the Board or the reasons for it. We have never received a copy of the agreement, or been given the opportunity to meet with the co-managers. It is quite unusual to find an organization like Nunee in co-management and it raises serious questions about the management practices employed by the Board. It also raises the question as to whether the Board of Directors retains any authority or decision-making power with respect to Nunee.</p> <p>It is critical that we develop and implement a plan to move forward. If we cannot, we will formally withdraw from the Authority as per the BCR which we have already forwarded to Health Canada. As a first step therefore we propose, that the Board of Directors be removed and replaced with a committee composed of three persons specifically selected for their knowledge and skills in health planning, management, and evaluation. Each First Nation would appoint one member to the Committee while the third individual would be appointed by Health Canada. The committee would report directly to both First Nations as per an agreed to terms of reference and remain in place for between 18 and 24 months</p> <p>At the same time, we recommend that a terms of reference to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Nunee be developed. The goal of this exercise would be to carry out an in-depth examination of the governance, management and organization of Nunee, the effectiveness of the health programs and service, specific program outcomes and changes in indicators of community health, and new or emerging health needs and priorities. Information and data collected during the evaluation would be used to develop an operational plan for Nunee, and prepare recommendations and mitigation strategies to improve and build upon specific elements. It is anticipated that the terms of reference and the selection of the successful bidder would be approved by the committee in consultation with both First Nations, and Health Canada.</p> <p>The final phase of activity would involve the preparation of a comprehensive Community Health Plan, the development of an appropriate governance structure and the implementation of the operational plan. This work would be carried out by a consultant selected for their demonstrated experience in health planning (and might be the same individual contracted to conduct the evaluation). Both phases of activity would involve significant community engagement to guide the identification of health needs and priorities and new and improved delivery processes.</p> <p>As the Chief and Council of the MCFN, we have an important responsibility to put into place a strategy to rebuild Nunee, and to ensure that the programs and services which are delivered by this organization improve the health status of the residents. Without healthy and resilient members, neither First Nation will be able to reach its full economic, political, cultural, or social potential.</p> <p>We hope that you and your Council will see fit to work with us in this regard. To that end, we would like to invite you to meet with us in September with Health Canada to discuss our proposal in more detail.</p> <p>cc: Herman Weirenga, Regional Director, FNIHB, Health Canada</p>Chief CourtoreilleThu, 02 Aug 2012 12:00:00 +0000 Chipewyan going solar<p> <img alt="" height="1365" src="/media/uploads/278115_167569650041444_1939190091_o.jpg" width="2048"></p> <p>The community of Fort Chipewyan is embracing the power of the Sun in hopes that solar panels will reduce the cost of living and be an environmental alternative to their fuel-based power and heating systems.</p> <p>This summer, two pilot projects will see a home in the community and cabins on the land converted to solar energy, to be ready to go this fall.</p> <p>Residents of Fort Chip first embarked on their quest for clean energy last fall when a team of community members, now called the Fort Chip Alternative Energy Project, partnered with local environmental organization Keepers of the Athabasca to investigate alternative energy potentials for the isolated hamlet in northern Alberta.</p> <p>After sparking a great deal of interest, the groups met again last Monday, bringing in an on-grid solar consultant from Anzac and a local trapper running off-the-grid solar at his cabin to the community for some discussion. According to Jesse Cardinal of Keepers of the Athabasca, attendees didn't want to waste any time getting to work on the project.</p> <p>"We're doing a short-term, small project that we're going to get up and running in the next couple of months," she told The Journal. "One is a home in the community set up on solar on the grid, and then we are going to look at the cabin that's off-grid and work with the trapper who's already put two years into it and use his cabin as a pilot project to build up a really good working system of off-grid solar living - to use his cabin as a model."</p> <p>Cardinal said the idea behind the project is to inspire and educate the community about the potential benefits of solar energy.</p> <p>"The purpose of it is to have a home in the community so people can see what it looks like, how it runs and what the benefits of it are, so that they then want their home on solar," she said. "Alberta has the largest solar capability out of all the provinces in all of Canada. The amount of sun that we get could power all of Alberta."</p> <p>An elder in the community has offered her home up as the guinea pig for the project, but details are still being finalized. Though the intention is to eventually have as many people on solar as possible in the community - for environmental and financial reasons - the first attempt will be to work with an elder.</p> <p>"When we had our initial meetings, we had elders come forward and tell us about the cost of their power bills and how hard it is just to pay their bills. If you look at an elder who lives, possibly, just on pension, half of their income, if not more, is going to power and heat. So, the initial intent of switching to solar is to get to net zero, so they may not make a profit, but they will have no power bill, because the cost of living up north is ridiculous," Cardinal said.</p> <p>Interested members of the community will select a contractor to do installation and assessments of the home for energy efficiency in the next few weeks. They'll also be bringing in an expert on off-the-grid solar to assist with setting up the cabins.</p> <p>The team will also be working on securing funding from all levels of government for the project, which is intended to be a long-term endeavour led by the community.</p> <p>"This is just the initial stage," Cardinal said. "This is an introduction to the community of Fort Chip on alternative energy. What we're doing now is just getting a short-term project up and going to get the mindset of alternative energy out there, but the feasibility is a long-term project where we're going to be bringing in experts to identify the possibilities of other energy potential - what would be best suited for Fort Chip: Is it wind? Is it solar? Is it small-scale hydro? So we'll have experts coming in to assess, and then we'll present that to the community.</p> <p>"As we go along, we're gaining more and more community interest. So we want more people involved in the decision-making and hopefully have leadership involved, that they can provide funds as well."</p>Meagan WohlbergTue, 03 Jul 2012 12:00:00 +0000 JournalSeniors care home in the works for Fort Chip<p><img alt="" height="262" src="/media/uploads/Elders%20Care%20Facility/4-24-2012-9-58-45-AM-4953973.gif" width="400"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>The floor plan for the proposed long-term care facility for elders in the community of Fort Chipewyan was designed by Western Health Planning Associates Ltd. The new facility will be located in the old nursing station and is expected to be fully operational by autumn 2014</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Elders in Fort Chipewyan may at long last be able to spend their final days in their home community rather than in larger centres, now that a long-term care home for seniors is being developed.</p> <p>Led by Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) and the Wood Buffalo Housing &amp; Development Corp. (WBHDC), the proposed plan for seniors housing entails redeveloping the community's old nursing station into a long-term/continuing care home with palliative care capabilities, as well as adding supportive capacity to the existing Ayabaskaw Lodge seniors home. <br><em><br></em>Western Health Planning Associates Ltd., commissioned to do the assessment, recommended converting the MCFN-owned nursing station into a 12-bed facility, along with adding six supportive living beds - for those who need a bit of daily living support - to Ayabaskaw alongside their existing 10 independent living suites.<br><br>The entire project is expected to cost the province just over $8 million and be officially operational by November 2014. <br><br>George Poitras, CEO of MCFN, said the First Nation decided to buy the nursing station from Health Canada for the project due to the high need for such a facility in the community.<br><br>"Mikisew Cree First Nation is the biggest population in Fort Chipewyan and we have a lot of elders," he said. "Most of our seniors, when they become incapacitated, end up in Fort McMurray in the hospital on the fourth floor and they end up leaving us there. We want to give our seniors the comfort of being home and being around family. And that's not just important for Mikisew, but for Athabasca Chipewyan and the Métis as well."<br><br>Poitras said the conversion of the two existing facilities is the best option for the community in the short to mid term.<br><br>"These are existing, sound structures and so the potential to use them is very real," he said, noting the buildings would last up to another 40 years. "We own these facilities, so for the short term, this option will take the least amount of time with the least cost."<br><br>The community has also been looking at developing some lakefront property for a brand new long-term care facility for several decades, which Poitras said continues to be a long-term vision.<br><br>The proposal and recommendations were presented to community members, including chiefs from both MCFN and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the local Métis president, representatives from Nunee Health Authority, Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake and a provincial rep from Alberta Seniors last Monday. Poitras said the project has support from all parties.<br><br>"Everybody's on board. There have been a lot of positive outcomes, a lot of happy community members, especially elders," he said.<br><br>Ayabaskaw home operator Claris Voyageur is happy to see the project, which has been a long time coming, finally off the ground.<br><br>"My word to this is it's long overdue," she said. "Our seniors built this community; it's time to give back. They need love and care now, not devotion at death. We've had too many seniors that had to move south for the care. It's gonna be 25 years July 1 for me here at Ayabaskaw home. I've seen many seniors come and go, even had some die in my arms."<br><br>The Nunee Health Authority will be coordinating the medical services involved in the project. Mike Mercredi, special projects coordinator for the authority, said having a long-term care facility in the community will cut a lot of the hidden costs of the current operation, which sees elders and their families transported to hospitals in Fort McMurray and Edmonton when they near the end of their lives, and ultimately make life easier for the aging in the community.<br><br>"When they have someone who's going to be reaching their final moments, they fly out the family and then they house the family out there," he said. "So they're staying in hotels or rentals until their loved ones pass, and then they send them all back. This is going to help alleviate some of that cost. If their family's here, there's no flying anyone out, and the people are welcome to come and go to be with their loved ones in their final moments."<br><br>As well, Mercredi said, the care facility will have the capacity to offer services for community members with mental disabilities, and will function as a meeting place for people of all ages, with a cultural room and other social spaces.<br><br>"Since it's going to be here in the community, more people can have a place to go - another place for elders to go who aren't there. They can come and hang out," he said. "You're going to have a lot of people who are going to be willing to go there for a coffee in the mornings and have their morning chats and that."<br><br>MCFN has indicated other funding sources, such as industry, may be approached to help foot the bill alongside provincial funding.</p>Meagan WohlbergTue, 24 Apr 2012 12:00:00 +0000 JournalA Hard, Cold Way to Make a Measly Dollar<p>Come along with Snowbird Martin, one of the last of the old-time trappers, as he tends his trapline in the frozen north. It pays very little these days, but Snowbird is content — knowing he might see a moose, and shoot it, and have food for everyone. </p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="" height="2322" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image1.jpg" width="1406"><br><em></em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird (left) hauls in a fish that was fed to his dogs, seen below with him and writer Alderman (on the sled). </em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>ANYWHERE the eye looks, it is filled with — nothing, you'd say if you were a city dweller. Eternal wilderness stretches endlessly before you like a tedious argument. It is a prehistoric, uncivilized land of enormous silence, icy, unbroken emptiness, vast reaches of grey, sterile sky. To live in this land and to make a living from it, you have to see the land and you have to see beyond the land. Like Snowbird Martin does. </p> <p>He has lived all his life in this godforsaken stretch of northern Alberta, just south of the Northwest Territories. All his life he has battled climate, animals, geography and seclusion to trap and hunt the mink and ermine, otter and beaver, squirrel and muskrat. Ask anyone in the fur trade from Edmonton to Fort Chipewyan and they'll tell you that no one sees beyond the land like that old Cree, Snowbird. </p> <p><img alt="" height="1905" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Title%20Image.jpg" width="2480"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird Martin left an Indelible impression on staff writer Tom Alderman. "He was everything so many other men I know aren't" said Alderman. "He never got flustered and he conducted himself in every situation with assurance and a sort of noble dignity."</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Not that it puts any money in his pocket — trapping doesn't pay much these days, what with fur farms and synthetics bringing down prices disastrously. But, at close to 65, he knows the land and how to survive in it too well to bother changing.</p> <p>Snowbird roared a guttural sound and his dogs skidded to a disorganized halt, the third one lurching to one side and the three behind tumbling over him like characters in a slapstick two-reeler.</p> <p>"Damn those dogs!" he muttered. "They're my son-in-law's and aren't used to me yet." He went over and kicked the third dog, then took a swipe at the rusty brown housedog who'd followed the team from his cabin that morning. "Get out! Go home to my wife! I'm not taking care of you out here!" As he had been doing all day, the housedog slithered away, then — when it seemed his master had forgotten about him — galloped back. He knew that where Snowbird was, there was something to eat.</p> <p>Snowbird trudged off across the snow-packed muskeg to the bank of a frozen stream where he recalled leaving one of his traps. Yes, there it was, hidden under a bush, with an ermine in it, stiff as a hunk of plywood. Caught by one leg and unable to move, it had frozen in the sub-zero temperature.</p> <p>He took off his gloves, extracted his prize and reset the steel trap, handling it carefully lest its hairtrigger snap on his fingers. It had happened to too many trappers alone in the bushland. If they're lucky, they lose a few fingers. If they're not lucky, they often lose their lives. It took Snowbird a half hour to reset and replace the trap where he figured the ermine were running. Then he put his gloves back on, stuffed the frozen ermine in his pocket and shuffled back to his sled and dog team.</p> <p>"Well, that's a dollar I've made today." That, he explained, was what the trader would give him once the animal had been thawed out, skinned and stretched. "I must be a crazy old man to be a trapper." </p> <p>There had been good times, but they had been long ago.</p> <p>Mink, the fur trader's barometer, used to bring close to $75. Now they're about $25, and everything else has gone down, too. Black foxes, once a $100 catch, are worth about $10. Snowbird is lucky to get $25 for a beaver, and squirrel and muskrat — the two staples of his catch — bring him about 10 cents and 50 cents respectively.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><img alt="" height="2048" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image2.jpg" width="1414"></em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird knows there are beaver below the ice, and with his trap suspended</em><br><em>underwater between two poles he hopes to catch one - worth $25.</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Snowbird doesn't know how much he makes during the November-to-May trap season. He just takes his catch in to the trader every two months and barters it for such staples as flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, traps and ammunition, chewing tobacco, and oil for his lamps. But his skins probably don't bring him any more than $3,000 in goods. He started this trap season about $150 in the hole to the trader. It would have been even worse if he hadn't worked this past summer as an office sweeper in Fort McMurray. Being the world's best trapper is a little like being the world's best buggywhip salesman.</p> <p>"Oh, I make good money in McMurray," he said, as he pitched camp by the side of the trail, chained his dogs for the night, then built a fire to ward off the freezing temperatures. "With overtime, close to $500 for the month. They want me to work there all the time, but my wife and me don't like it in McMurray. It's a big city now, with lots of men making money in the mines, and plenty of drinking and fighting and fooling around. We see too many things that make us sad — too much whisky, too many men beating their wives, too many children in the streets. I drink only a little, one drink in the night and go to bed. When the trapping starts, we are glad to come home."</p> <p>Home is a one-room log cabin Snowbird built himself 35 years ago on the banks of the Athabasca River. In these primitive surroundings he lives with his wife, his teen-aged foster son and his wife's aunt - a morose, pipe-smoking woman of 83. Aside from a few trapping neighbors and a trading store four miles downriver, the closest he gets to people is in Fort Chipewyan, a fur-trading centre of 1,500, about 30 miles to the northeast. That's where Snowbird goes when he feels like visiting his friends. But business usually calls him in the opposite direction — his line of about 100 traps snakes west and south from his cabin for about 45 miles through the wilderness on the southeast tip of Wood Buffalo National Park.</p> <p><em><br></em></p> <p><em><img alt="" height="2048" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image3.jpg" width="1414"></em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird has a reputation as a hunter of moose: shooting one means a full pantry at his home and at his son-in-law's. He gives what's left over to hungry friends.</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>It is into this country that he plunges for three weeks at a time, touring his trapline, reading the paw prints in the snow, setting and resetting his traps accordingly, potting the odd partridge or ptarmigan, hoping for a chance at a moose — then he can feed his family for a month — and sleeping under the spruce trees with his rifle handy to ward off wolves. And surviving.</p> <p>For in nearly every district graveyard can be found markers to those who didn't. Those who misjudged the thickness of the ice and tumbled through. Those who couldn't light a fire in the middle of a blizzard. Those who shot themselves accidentally or caught themselves in their own traps. Those who were attacked by wolves or their own dogs. Those who got lost or whose dogs ran away on them. Those who starved or froze to death or impaled themselves on an unseen tree branch.</p> <p> </p> <blockquote> <h2>"Some make more on welfare"</h2> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Few work longer hours under such impossible conditions for so little reward as do the fur trappers. It's little wonder that young Indians are turning their backs on the art of their fathers, that even older men are giving up the life, moving to the towns and, because there is nothing else, making do on welfare.</p> <p>As he thawed some Indian bread over the fire, Snowbird recalled he'd accepted welfare only once. "Two years ago, when the trapping is very bad, I get $75 for one month. But it is not the way I like to get money. I am glad when the trapping gets good again and I don't have to go for more welfare.</p> <p>"Some people make more on welfare than trapping. A lot of people I know move to Fort Chipewyan. They get their welfare and trap only when they feel like it. After a while, they have an excuse for never going out at all. It's too cold, or too early in the season, or too late in the season. They spend their money foolishly and, even with welfare, their families never have enough. And even worse, they have nothing to do — stay in bed till noon, then hang around the Hudson's Bay."</p> <p>He sipped his tea thoughtfully. "I could not do that, even if it meant more money from welfare. I am trapping since I am 15 and I know nothing else. A man can go crazy if he sits doing nothing. To be a trapper, you must always be on your lines, no matter what the weather."</p> <p> </p> <p><em><img alt="" height="1435" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image4.jpg" width="2048"></em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird, his wife and their 14-year-old foster son live with an aged aunt in the one-room cabin he built by the banks of the Athabasca River 35 years ago.</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Snowbird has trapped alone since his only son died 19 years ago. They had just had their best year — more than 4,000 muskrat, dozens of mink, lynx and beaver. For the first and last time, he had money in the bank. "Close to $500. Oh, he was a good trapper, Edward was. I beg him not to go to work on the barges in McMurray that summer. But he is 21 and does what he wants. Then I hear he falls between two barges into the water. They can't even find his body. I have to fly there and find him myself with a fish hook."</p> <p>The funeral and headstone ate up all his funds. For a while, he disappeared. "I go crazy. Up to the Northwest Territories to work and forget. He was a good boy, Edward. But I come back when the trapping begins. Only I never trap with anyone else again." Not even his 14-year-old foster son. "He is no good to have in the bush. First time he sets a trap he catches himself. Someone like that is dangerous to have with you."</p> <p>The accident, which still makes him brood occasionally, left Snowbird with one daughter — now married and the mother of eight children. Three other children, born in the bush while his wife, Maria, was out trapping with him, all died before they were a week old.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="" height="1438" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image5.jpg" width="2048"></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Out on the trail, Snowbird lives alone in his wall-tent This time he's got some company, writer Alderman (right) and, behind the lens, photographer Ken Elliott</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>It was 10 at night, the temperature had slipped even further below zero and talk of his son seemed to exhaust Snowbird as his day's labor hadn't. He stood up, bandy-legged, all five-foot-eight of him, and stretched. His face mirrored the grey acceptance of life's woes. "I go to sleep now." He glanced up into the stars. "Tomorrow it will be windy. Maybe I can get a moose."</p> <p>Snowbird killed his first moose at 15, and estimates he's killed between 500 and 600 through the years. It gives him enormous prestige for, no matter how badly a man's trapping goes, his family will never starve as long as he can kill moose. Snowbird's family has rarely been without meat, nor has anyone in the district who is on good terms with Snowbird.</p> <p>"Moose is good meat," he was saying next morning. "It heats up your blood. I hope I get one today. There is no meat in my house." Besides, he explained, the hide was worth $35.</p> <p>But it was not a good day. Travelling was especially difficult. Being early in the trap season, the dog sled paths were still overgrown with fall and summer bush. And it still wasn't cold enough to freeze the lakes and rivers solidly. Snowbird had to keep to the thick ice near the shores, and even here you could hear the dull ping of ice cracking under you. "It's the long way round," said Snowbird, "but at last if you fall in you're close to the shore." The problem, he explained, was pulling yourself out quickly. If you don't, you'll die of shock from the chill before you drown. Then you have to build a fire as fast as possible or you become a human icicle.</p> <p>C-CRRACK. The ice opened two inches in a long line from left to right below the moving sled. Snowbird didn't seem overly concerned, merely clucking at his dogs to move a little faster.</p> <p>"I sure hope I see a moose," he said. "My wife is getting tired of fish. And my daughter, she needs meat for her family — they've finished the last moose I got for them."</p> <p>Now the wind began driving snow in from the north. Snowbird had to lead his dogs through thick parts of the forest. Every now and then he'd stop at a trap, but there usually wasn't much doing. Just two squirrels and a muskrat.</p> <p>"Buffalo over that way." He pointed north. "But we're not supposed to kill them. If we're caught, we're thrown off our traplines." It was getting dark and the dogs were tiring. Snowbird started looking for a place to camp overnight. "The white man sure: has funny laws. We can starve to death out here but we can't kill a buffalo."</p> <p>Not that buffalo aren't killed, he explained. Laws don't mean a thing when a man's family is starving. Right now, those buffalo sounded mighty good to a man who'd made less than two bucks in the past week. And — but then the dogs began sniffing.</p> <p>"Moose!" said Snowbird, and he grabbed his .30-.30. "It's dark, but maybe I can get him."</p> <p>He was back an hour later, complaining about his eyes. "Hard to see in the dark any more. I had a pair of glasses once, about four years ago, when I went to Edmonton. But then I dropped them in the river two years ago. I must get another pair sometime."</p> <p>His eyes, however, hadn't prevented him from knocking off two partridges and a ptarmigan. So dinner was a bit better than the usual tea and bread topped with lard. Actually, for a man his age, Snowbird is remarkably well preserved. His step is brisk, his body supple, his thick black hair lightly grey-flecked. His teeth have never known a toothbrush, but they're all his own — even though they look like the decayed blunt stubs in the mouth of a hippopotamus. Only twice has he ever been in the white man's hospital in Edmonton, once with ulcer trouble and once with appendicitis.</p> <p>"They are the only times I ever visit a big city," he says. "I am so lost I have to take a taxi everywhere."</p> <p>Snowbird attributes his extraordinary health to the way he lives. "An Indian goes to the city and starts to eat the white man's food," he says. "It's no good for him. That tinned meat — it makes him sick. The only meat to eat is the meat you kill. At least you know what you're eating."</p> <p>The housedog began nosing around the ptarmigan roasting on a green branch stretched over the fire. Snowbird swatted him with a willow branch, sending him scurrying back into the night. "This willow branch," said Snowbird, "this is my doctor. It can cure anything. I chew it when I have a toothache and the toothache goes away. Once, when everyone has the flu, I make willow bark tea and everyone gets well again."</p> <p>He had learned all this, he said, from his father — who'd died when Snowbird was eight — and later his grandfather, from whom he'd also learned the art of trapping. At 19, he had married the only girl he ever knew and had gone off to trap on his own.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><img alt="" height="2048" src="/media/uploads/Snowbird%20Martin/Image6.jpg" width="1407"></em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Snowbird's sled carries his supplies, fish for the dogs, his tent and whatever he catches or shoots. The sled is built like a toboggan, with canvas on the sides.</em></p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>"Oh, those were good times," he said. "My wife, who is so fat now, was slim and pretty then. We used to go into the bush to trap together. She has been a good woman for me. But it is a hard life and now she sits waiting for me. She tells me she knows what day I'll come home because she can't sleep at all the night before."</p> <p>He paused. "I sure hope I get to see a moose tomorrow. I'd hate to come home without skins and without a moose." </p> <p>The next day began encouragingly. A beaver was snared under the ice at the door to his beaver lodge. Snowbird reset the trap, lowered it into the water below the ice and fastened it to the bottom with long poles.</p> <p>"This is my day for a moose," he said. "I can feel it. I'll get Mr. Moose today. Then we can all eat real meat." Just then the housedog got tangled up with the huskies. Teeth flashed, paws swung through the air, the dogs — tired of daily fish — began chewing on each other. Snowbird jumped into the centre of the action, his feet kicking, his elbows digging into raging fur. It looked as if they'd all turn on him, but several well-placed boots to their heads cooled their aggressiveness.</p> <p>"Damn dogs!" Snowbird bellowed. "This is no time to make noise. The moose are probably around here."</p> <p>Moose are the touchiest of animals, Snowbird explained, and hunting them is a most exacting pastime. "It's not like summer hunting," he sneered, "where you can just shoot them down in the water. That's not hunting. In winter, you have to track them down. One small noise and they're away. And the wind better be blowing the right way or they'll smell you a mile off."</p> <p>The dogs were sniffing again, so Snowbird halted the team, picked up his rifle and marched off into the bush. The dogs seemed to understand that if they shut up they'd get meat for supper. Snowbird edged through the frozen muskeg, a hard snow driving into his face. He moved in a wide circle till he came to some tracks, then circled the tracks till he saw it — a bull moose — chewing on some twigs a few hundred yards away.</p> <p>The snow drove harder, almost whiting out the animal. Snowbird pulled off his gloves and raised his rifle. He fired. The animal looked around, seemingly bewildered, as if unable to believe that someone would be out hunting in the snow. He fired again. The moose's front legs buckled under him and he tumbled over into the snow. One more shot to make sure.</p> <p>An hour later, Snowbird was eating moose tenderloin. What was left of the moose was neatly stacked beside him like so many cuts in a butcher shop. "It is a hard life," said Snowbird, "but it almost seems okay when you can eat fresh meat like this." Off to the side, the dogs were chewing on the neck of the moose, and even the housedog — his perseverance rewarded — had scrounged himself a piece.</p> <p>Snowbird burped. 'Oh, I know the white man will come soon," he said. "They've already started finding metals in the ground around here. Before you know it, they'll start buying up the land and we'll be kicked out and told we can't trap here any more. They'll tell us it's too valuable to be trapped. There's too much money to be made in oil and minerals. I know they say they won't, but when there's money involved they'll figure out some way to get us out."</p> <p> </p> <blockquote> <h2>"This life has given me nothing"</h2> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>He told a story his grandmother had told him: that, years ago, the Crees had found some gold in the area. But, at a tribal meeting, they hid voted to throw away the gold and keep it a secret — because if the news got out, the white man would come and take away the land.</p> <p>"But the white man smells money," he continued. "And soon they'll be telling me I can't trap here any more. They'll try to send me to what we Crees call Lonesome Valley — that's the old folks' home near Edmonton.</p> <p>"The young people won't mind much. After all, they went to school and feel that they don't have to trap for a living. They move to the city, they forget their skills — and at the same time they learn it's not so easy getting a job in the white man's world. Because they've got education, but not as much education as the white man."</p> <p>He got up and stretched. "But to me, this is my whole life. I know it has given me nothing. But I've had a good life from it anyway."' He walked over to the butchered moose. In the firelight, the huge slabs of meat still ran with hot blood. He looked down at it with pleasure, perhaps thinking of the welcome his wife would give him when he arrived home with it tomorrow.</p> <p>"Ah, so what of it?" he said. "That won't happen till — next week, next month, next year. Today" — and he almost yelled the moist beautiful words in the world, the only words that really, really counted for anything at 30 degrees below zero in the bush country of northern Alberta — "Today, I GOT A MOOSE!"</p>Tom AldermanSat, 17 Feb 1968 06:00:00 +0000