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Canada pledges to review border policy regarding Indigenous nations





The federal government is pledging a review of border laws and their effect on Indigenous rights. 

One Liberal MP involved is calling the U.S./Canada border an “onerous imposition” and “undue burden” on Indigenous nations whose territory extends into both Canada and the U.S.

Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary for Crown-Indigenous Relations, says he believes the border has had the effect of “impeding on cultural and traditional activities, which include hunting, cultural exchanges and simple mobility.” 

He says the government is open to considering changes. 

“First Nations have — through no fault of their own — found their historic location divided by the Canada/U.S. border have faced significant challenges,” Miller said. 

Miller is the MP for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–​Île-des-Soeurs in Quebec. The border crossing in nearby Cornwall, Ont., has now added signs in the Mohawk language

Canada Border Services Agency has trilingual signage at the border crossing in Cornwall, Ont. to include Mohawk. (Canada Border Services Agency)

Some animal parts, firearms forbidden under current rules

Current laws prevent cross-border hunting and the carrying of certain animal parts across the border, which has been a source of frustration in Yukon.

Miller acknowledged there is a safety risk to allowing weapons but says “we’re open to further discussion with communities” as the federal government considers change.

“There is an undertaking from this government to be more sensitive,” he said.

“There are certain things that can be addressed in a more sensitive fashion as opposed to imposing the hard letter of the law. If border services agencies are able to ascertain people without putting the gears on them, that is a significant step in the life of someone who regularly crosses the border.”

A written response from Crown-Indigenous Relations says the government is “recognizing that the border can present challenges to mobility, traditional practices, economic opportunities, as well as to family and cultural ties to Native American communities in the United States.” 

However laws haven’t yet changed. 

“The new measures do not change current laws around the cross-border movement of food, firearms, animal parts and other goods. These measures are intended to set a tone and clear direction for greater awareness and understanding of Indigenous issues at the border,” reads the response. 

Change on status cards will mean faster processing at border

The federal government is already pledging to speed up the process of people using Secure Certificate of Indian Status Cards to cross the border by making the cards machine-readable. 

The government is also pledging “cultural training” and says it will recruit more Indigenous people to work with border services.

Millar says there is no date yet for consultations. He says consultations will mark a “first step” on a complex process. 

“These aren’t for tomorrow,” Miller said. “It is a longer process if you need to change the law.”



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City committee votes to name Sandy Hill Park after Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook





OTTAWA — Ottawa city councillors have voted to rename a Sandy Hill park after celebrated Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook.

The community and protective services committee approved a recommendation to rename the park at 240 Somerset Street East the “Annie Pootoogook Park.”

Pootoogook was an award-winning artist who lived in Ottawa. She died in 2016 at the age of 47 when she fell into the Rideau River. Ottawa police investigated her death, but it was ruled non-suspicious.

Stephanie Plante submitted an application to the city to commemorate Pootoogook by renaming the park after her.

Plante says she met with Veldon Coburn, the adoptive father of Pootoogook’s eight-year-old daughter, and reached out to Pootoogook’s brother in Nunavut to discuss the idea.

“Women matter, the arts matter, and most importantly Inuit people matter,” Plante told the committee.

“As of today, it’s quite possible an entirely new generation will write Annie Pootoogook Park on birthday party invitations, t-ball sign ups, dog park meet ups, soccer registration forms, summer camp locations.”

Alexandra Badzak, director of the Ottawa Art Gallery, told the community and protective services committee the arts community supports honouring Pootoogook.

“Those of us in the arts in Ottawa, across Canada and internationally know of the importance of Annie Pootoogook’s work,” said Badzak. “Who’s pen and pencil crayon drawings drew upon the legacy of her famous artistic family.”

The head of the National Gallery of Canada said Pootoogook’s artistic legacy is remembered across Canada.

“There’s absolutely no question that Annie Pootoogook is deserving of having Sandy Hill Park named in her honour,” Sasha Suda told the committee Thursday morning.

“She was an unbelievably bright light. Despite the briefness of her career, she leaves an incredibly strong legacy through her art work and in the ways that she changed the art world.”

Coun. Mathieu Fleury told the committee plans are in the works to set up an exhibit space in the Sandy Hill Community Centre to highlight Pootoogook’s work. The city is also working to set up programming for Inuit and artists in the park.

Council will vote on the proposal next week.

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City aces legal dispute over Kanata golf club





An Ontario court judge has upheld a 40-year-old agreement that says the Kanata Lakes Golf and Country Club must remain open space and not be redeveloped into a housing community.

The decision is a big win for the city, Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds and her constituents, who have spent two years trying to prevent property owner ClubLink from turning the course into a 1,500-home development with its partners Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes.

Sudds, who said she burst into tears over Friday’s decision, called it “terrific news” for the community. As many as 500 homes back onto the course and more than 1,000 households use the grounds for recreation, she said.

“The green space, the golf course itself, which really is right in the middle of our community here, is used by the community quite frequently,” said Sudds, who recently moved the neighbourhood. “I see people out all hours of the day throughout the winter. It’s amazing to see all the tracks snowshoeing and skiing and dog-walking.”

40-year-old agreement ‘valid’

ClubLink, which bought the 50-year-old course in 1997, announced in December 2018 that it planned to redevelop part of the property.

Local residents, along with the newly elected councillor and the city’s own legal department, argued that the development shouldn’t go ahead due to a 1981 legal agreement between then City of Kanata and the developer. That agreement called for 40 per cent of the area in Kanata Lakes to be open space in perpetuity.

“The 1981 Agreement continues to be a valid and binding contract,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse wrote in his 44-page decision.

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Ottawa residents remain pro-Trump Avenue





It appears Donald Trump still has a home in Canada’s capital, even if he has departed Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, residents on Trump Avenue, in Ottawa’s Central Park neighbourhood, put the possibility of changing the name of their street to a vote following the former president’s tumultuous time in office.

The neighbourhood has several streets named after icons of New York City and Trump was a famous real estate mogul before he was elected.

In order to change the name of a street, the city requires 50 per cent plus one of all households on that street to be in favour.

There are 62 houses on Trump Avenue, meaning at least 32 households would have had to vote to change the name.

The city councillor for the area, Riley Brockington, said Wednesday that 42 households voted and the neighbourhood was divided, 21 to 21. 

Without the required margin to enact the change, Brockington says the matter will not proceed any further. 

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