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Negative news overshadowed a strong year of reconciliation for Indigenous people




To assess the progress or lack of it for Indigenous people in 2018 you must go back and look at a few events in isolation.

First the trial of Gerald Stanley for the killing of Colten Boushie was a watershed event for race relations for Saskatchewan. When a visibly all-white jury acquitted Stanley, racial polarization in Saskatchewan came to the surface.

After the verdict was read, Stanley was rushed out the door and the jury took flight. Boushie’s family was upset but violence was never contemplated. Both the accused and the jury could have left the courthouse with much less drama instead of the fear and panic that followed. This action showed the apprehension that exists toward Indigenous people among settler society.

Members of Colten Boushie’s family leave the Court of Queen’s Bench after a jury delivered a verdict of not guilty in the trial of Gerald Stanley, the farmer accused of killing the 22-year-old Indigenous man. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

The anonymity and convenience of social media allowed racist comments to spread across the province. For Indigenous people it was a stressful time. Parents feared for their children, people avoided rural roads and felt the conversation hush when they entered a rural coffee shop or any other public place.

Later in the year, the Saskatchewan government would introduce legislation amending trespass laws eliminating the need to post private land with no trespassing signs.

Indigenous people saw it as fallout from the Stanley trial that would allow rural landowners to shoot first and ask questions later. It also raised the issue of property rights versus human rights.

On the other hand, Indigenous people continued to grow and develop. We graduated record numbers of students from high school, university and technical training. Rural-urban migration continued, and our standard of living continued to increase.

This is the side of our people that gets lost in the politics of the day. Our people want to earn a living, raise their family and send the next generation into a better world than the one they grew up in.

Also, the rebirth and renaissance of our culture and religion continued to fly under the radar. Powwows brought out increasing numbers of people and sundances and other ceremonies grew in importance.

Powwow on Ochapowace Nation. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)

This was supposed to be a year of reconciliation but much of the news indicated otherwise. However, men and women of goodwill from both the settler and Indigenous community stepped up and worked together to improve race relations.

In Saskatoon, we named the new bridge the Chief Mistawasis Bridge in honour of a great leader who worked to build bridges between his people and the newcomers.

Chief Mistawasis Bridge opened this year in Saskatoon. (Graham Construction)

In Regina, teepees went up on the legislature lawn and stayed from February to September. The province demanded that they be taken down and ordered the police to act on it.

The police chief, to his credit, refused to storm the camp and create a legal and public relations nightmare; instead, he met with the protesters and gained their confidence. The camp stayed up and order prevailed. When the camp finally came down, it was the teepee owners who did it and their point had been made.

Court of Queen’s Bench ordered the camp out of Wascana Centre in September. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

Meanwhile, in October, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations held its election and Chief Bobby Cameron was re-elected along with incumbent Edward Lerat and a retread, Morley Watson.

The big story that ended the year came in under the radar on the Friday before Christmas.

Earlier in the year the chiefs from the Robinson Huron Treaty had taken the government to court alleging that the $4 annual annuity was based on 1850 money and the rate of inflation and the resource revenue that was realized from their land had to be considered.

The judge agreed, stating that treaties are not one-time transactions and must grow to reflect the value of the land and resource revenue. While the judge stated that the First Nations should negotiate with the federal and provincial authorities, they could also have a court-imposed settlement.

This decision is a game changer in Indian Country. Our elders have told us for years now that the text of the treaties is only a part of the agreement and the oral promises as well as the spirit and intent of the treaty must be considered.

This issue will continue to move forward in 2019 and I fully expect that it will change our relationship with the federal and provincial governments.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ. 


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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