Family rallies around Wilson-Raybould as First Nation chiefs blast Trudeau over reconciliation ‘farce’


After Bill Wilson got off the phone Monday evening with his daughter Kory Wilson he said he got the sense that there was something wrong, but he couldn’t quite place the unease or link it to his other daughter, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

He immediately remembered the phone call on Tuesday, when he heard the news Wilson-Raybould had resigned from cabinet.

« There was something wrong, she seemed to see something was pending, » said Wilson, a Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief who faced off with former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in heated constitutional talks in the 1980s.

Wilson said that as the scandal evolved, triggered by the Globe and Mail reporting that Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the criminal prosecution of multinational engineering firm SNC Lavalin, he started to doubt she could remain in cabinet.

« If this moves out the way it is, it’s not because of Jody, but because of what I consider to be a crime committed at the highest level, » said Wilson. « It could very well bring down a government. »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly denied he directed Wilson-Raybould to intervene on the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavelin. On Monday, Trudeau said he had « full confidence » in her as Minister of Veterans Affairs. Justice Minister David Lametti has also denied the PMO exerted any pressure on Wilson-Raybould on the SNC Lavalin case.

Kory Wilson, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s sister, says the family is rallying around the former cabinet minister. (BCIT)

Kory Wilson said she went out for supper in Vancouver with her children and Wilson-Raybould on Sunday, but their conversations focused on personal matters. 

Wilson said her sister expressed excitement about her new portfolio at Veterans Affairs.

« I feel bad for the veterans, she was very excited to have that file, » Kory Wilson said. « She enjoyed the meet and greets. »

‘I text her I love her’

Wilson said she is in constant communication with her sister via texts and phone.

« I text her I love her, » said Wilson. « In difficult times, family rallies around their family and that is … what we do. She is a very strong person. »

Shortly after news of the cabinet resignation surfaced, Wilson tweeted:

Wilson said she was referring to the rubber boots people wear in the village where their grandmother comes from.

Wilson said it has been hard for her to see her sister go through this ordeal and face sniping from unnamed Liberal sources in the press.

« I think no one likes to see a family member thrown under the bus, » she said. « It’s a hard road to go … I am behind her and a whole pile of people are behind her. »

B.C. First Nation leaders alarmed

In B.C., news of the resignation rocketed through First Nation political circles.

B.C. First Nation Summit Grand Chief Ed John said it will be a year on Feb. 14 since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s House of Commons speech where he declared the beginning of a new chapter in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, through the tabling of an Indigenous rights recognition framework.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embraced by Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould after delivering a speech on Feb. 14, 2018, on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights in the House of Commons. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the federal cabinet on Tuesday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Wilson-Raybould embraced Trudeau after the speech and the moment was captured in a photograph.

The framework promise — which allegedly caused friction between then Minister of Justice Wilison-Raybould and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett — is now essentially dead.  

« It’s just staggering to see how this is transpiring, » said John.

John said he last spoke to Wilson-Raybould while they were on a flight from Vancouver to Ottawa on the day before the Jan. 14 cabinet shuffle. He said she didn’t give anything away.

« It’s a pretty drastic move on her part, to take this step, we don’t know where the chips will fall at the end of the day, » he said.

B.C. First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John said chiefs needed to bring proposals to the table on the Indigenous rights recognition framework. (CBC)

B.C. Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Terry Teegee said he brought up his concerns about the cabinet shuffle during a meeting between the AFN chiefs executive and Trudeau along with some of his ministers held the day of the shuffle.

Teegee said he thinks Wilson-Raybould, based on her speeches as Justice Minister, was facing resistance from Trudeau’s inner circle and the senior bureaucracy on moving the Indigenous rights file forward.

« She was seeing push back from her colleagues … and perhaps the party, » Teegee said.

Terry Teegee, a regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, says he believes Jody Wilson-Raybould faced resistance on her push for Indigenous rights from within Trudeau’s Liberal government. (Courtesy of Terry Teegee)

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said the narrative around Wilson-Raybould has destroyed Trudeau’s credibility on reconciliation.

« To me it smells and reeks of collusion within cabinet … the words that the prime minister spoke about reconciliation and the (UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples) are simply a farce, » said Chamberlin.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair has undermined the credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on reconciliation. (CBC)

Sending a message

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan judge, has watched the arc of Wilson-Raybould’s career for about 20 years. She said Wilson-Raybould would not have resigned over something trivial or personal.

« My instinct is that she is standing up for an impartial justice system and a nation based on the rule of law, » said Turpel-Lafond, currently director of the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.

« It is a hard stand to take, but it’s essential. »

Turpel-Lafond said she saw a connection between Wilson-Raybould’s resignation and Trudeau’s statement Monday.

Trudeau said on Monday that he had a recent discussion with Wilson-Raybould where « she confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone. » 

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan judge, said she sees a link between Trudeau’s revelation of a conversation he had with Jody Wilson-Raybould and her decision to quit cabinet. (CBC)

The Globe and Mail reported that the PMO pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene with the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to drop the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavalin in favour of a plea bargain deal.

« This comes on the heels of the prime minister’s statement yesterday where he said certain things about their conversation, » said Turpel-Lafond. « One can’t help but think if this [resignation] was linked to that. »

Turpel-Lafond also said that Wilson-Raybould’s choice of lawyer, former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, sent a message.

« She has retained a very noted individual who is a person of high expertise and integrity. That also sends a signal that there will be some kind of defence of the rule of law and the administration of justice, » said Turpel-Lafond.

« It sends a bit of a message to me. »  


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Thériault pour la nation | Le Devoir


La chanson Imagine (1971), de John Lennon, fait encore rêver. Elle est vue comme la description d’un monde idéal, dans lequel les êtres humains vivraient en paix parce qu’il n’y aurait plus de pays ni de religions. Cette ballade me donne pourtant l’impression d’une œuvre écrite par un Justin Trudeau qui viendrait d’en fumer du bon. S’il avait pris le temps de rédiger un couplet supplémentaire, Lennon nous aurait-il suggéré, en anglais, d’imaginer un monde parlant enfin une langue unique ?

Imagine, au fond, est une sorte d’hymne cosmopolite qui chante l’humanité réconciliée avec elle-même moyennant l’abandon de ses particularismes. Il s’agit d’une vieille utopie. Le cynique Diogène, avant Jésus-Christ, se disait déjà citoyen du monde et les stoïciens, après lui, feront de même en se réclamant de l’universelle raison.

À la fin du XXe siècle, après la chute du mur de Berlin, cette utopie revient en vogue, avec les idées, notamment, de justice internationale, de société civile mondiale (altermondialisme) et du pluralisme identitaire (multiculturalisme). Certains penseurs rêvent même d’une gouvernance mondiale rationnelle.

Modernité et identité

Le sociologue Joseph Yvon Thériault, professeur à l’UQAM, vient jeter un pavé dans la mare des rêveurs. « Le projet cosmopolitique est-il démocratiquement possible ? » demande-t-il dans Sept leçons sur le cosmopolitisme (Québec Amérique, 2019, 232 pages), un remarquable essai dont je ne peux donner ici qu’une idée de la richesse et du brio.

L’idéal de la démocratie, explique Thériault, repose sur « un ordre du monde régi par la volonté raisonnée des hommes réunis en cité ». Le cosmopolitisme souhaite faire du monde cette cité. C’est la nation, pourtant, qui s’imposera, au XIXe siècle, comme « la forme politique de la modernité », avant d’être contestée à la fin du XXe siècle.

On invoque alors « la porosité des multiples souverainetés de l’État-nation » sur les plans économique, juridique et culturel. Les identités sont de moins en moins nationales, dit-on, et de plus en plus individuelles. Si d’aucuns s’en réjouissent, d’autres, comme Thériault, s’en inquiètent, pour des raisons démocratiques.

La modernité, note le sociologue, chérit l’être humain rationnel et universel. Elle exprimera pourtant son désir démocratique par la nation, toujours particulière. Cette « affinité élective » s’explique. Rationaliste, la modernité se caractérise par son esprit scientifique et sa défense des droits de la personne.

C’est parce que la démocratie moderne se fonde sur une conception asociale de l’humanité qu’elle a eu recours à la nation pour se doter d’un monde commun. La nation a comblé les insuffisances sociologiques de la modernité démocratique, son déficit de solidarité. On ne saurait dire que la nation est la seule forme politique qui aurait pu, qui pourrait répondre à cette exigence. Elle fut néanmoins, jusqu’à aujourd’hui, historiquement, la seule forme politique qui s’imposa. 

Or, continue Thériault, « les humains sont des êtres culturels », et leur attachement à la nation vient corriger l’abstraction inhérente à la modernité.

Pour tenir, de plus, une société a besoin d’un sens de la solidarité culturelle et sociale, ce que lui donne le cadre national. La démocratie, enfin, repose sur la délibération citoyenne, grandement facilitée par une langue partagée. La nation, conclut donc Thériault, est la forme de communauté politique qui a permis de combiner le besoin de liberté et le besoin d’identité. Par conséquent, on peut penser que l’abandon du cadre national comme lieu de la démocratie nous prépare à « un monde régi à l’échelle de l’humanité par le droit, le marché et la technique » ou nous mène sur la voie de garage d’une « contre-démocratie » radicale et sans projet.

Fluidité et populisme

Qu’en est-il, par ailleurs, du cosmopolitisme culturel, qui serait, dit-on, un fait ? Ne nous répète-t-on pas à satiété que les identités sont devenues fluides, métissées, volontairement choisies, que nous sommes tous des migrants et que la diversité est progressiste alors que l’appartenance nationale est rétrograde ? Thériault cite l’anthropologue Dominique Legros, de l’Université Concordia, qui évalue à 0,45 % de la population mondiale les migrants volontaires, qualifiés, multilingues et à l’identité fluide.

Ce n’est donc pas « ainsi que les hommes vivent » en général. Aussi, le mépris qu’on réserve à ceux qui n’adhèrent pas à l’idéologie du cosmopolitisme culturel apparaît comme une des causes évidentes de la maladroite réaction populiste.

Joseph Yvon Thériault consacre sa dernière leçon au Canada, qui aime se présenter comme un pays multiculturel et postnational. Pour le sociologue, ce Canada libre-échangiste, cosmopolite et chartiste rejetant l’idée d’intention nationale au profit d’une gouvernance juridique mène à un refus de la politique démocratique, celle d’un « peuple souverain délibérant en lui-même pour exercer une action consciente sur le monde ».

D’origine acadienne, Thériault continue de rêver à un « Canada multinational », reconnaissant aux « peuples fondateurs » et aux Premières Nations leur droit de cultiver des « conceptions différentes de l’appartenance au monde » dans leur agir politique. En constatant l’impopularité de son rêve, il signe un essai de qualité supérieure.


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Nova Scotia premier seeks to ‘support’ First Nation after string of suicides – Halifax


Premier Stephen McNeil says Nova Scotia is looking to find ways to support the province’s largest Mi’kmaq community after a string of suicides.

McNeil, who is also the province’s Aboriginal Affairs minister, said the province already funds a crisis call centre at Eskasoni First Nation and may “enhance” that funding.

“It’s been a real tragedy in Eskasoni in the last month and we’ve seen a number of people who felt in despair, where they did the unthinkable really in lots of ways,” McNeil told reporters after a cabinet meeting Thursday.

Aboriginal group calls for more mental health funding in wake of Eskasoni First Nation suicides

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said last week multiple suicides have underscored the need for more health-care resources in the Cape Breton community.

Denny called on all levels of government to step up, noting that more long-term funding is needed for culturally informed mental health, trauma and addictions services.

“We’re looking at how do we support him,” McNeil, who spoke with Denny last week, said Thursday. “We’re looking at it from a provincial point of view and the crisis call centre, and other initiatives that we can do to help support him.”

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs has called on Ottawa to put more money into the crisis line and mental health supports for the roughly 4,500 people who are part of the Eskasoni First Nation.

Chief Bob Gloade of the congress called the situation “extremely urgent.”

WATCH: Cape Breton’s Eskasoni First Nation experiencing mental health crisis

The congress is asking for $600,000 in annual funding for the distress line, $150,000 for a clinical therapist, $75,000 for resources to support focus groups for people 20 to 40 years old and $90,000 for suicide prevention training.

McNeil said he has spoken with the local MP, Mark Eyking, about what they can do together and with Eskasoni.

“I would agree with the chiefs the federal government should play a role,” McNeil said.

“The crisis line in Eskasoni is one that has been used broadly for Mi’kmaq across the province, not just in Eskasoni. So we’re working with … the chief, he has some proposals into Aboriginal Affairs provincially but we would certainly welcome any help at the national level.”

First Nations community in Cape Breton grieving after multiple deaths

Eskasoni health director Sharon Rudderham said last week the community has experienced multiple deaths, both expected and unexpected, intensifying its grief.

“The compounding effects and the re-traumatization that are impacting our community we believe require a more effective response to dealing with the situation,” she told a press conference at the Eskasoni Health Centre last week.


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Located safe: young First Nation teen reported missing from North Okanagan – Okanagan


UPDATE: RCMP said 14-year-old Haven “Jack” Williams has been located safe.

ORIGINAL STORY: A 14-year-old Spallumcheen girl has been missing since Sunday, Dec. 30, and RCMP are asking for help finding her.

Haven “Jack” Williams disappearance is out of character, according to police.

“Police are very concerned for Haven’s health and well-being,” RCMP said on Wednesday.

Williams is described as having:

  • Black hair
  • Is of medium build
  • A height of five-foot-six

Anyone with information about the teen’s whereabouts is urged to contact local police of by leaving an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by leaving a tip online at


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Vehicle in fatal pedestrian collision leaves scene on Big River First Nation


RCMP say a man is dead after a pedestrian collision on Big River First Nation this past weekend.

Emergency services were called at roughly 10:45 p.m. CT on Dec. 23.

Boy hospitalized with serious injuries after hit and run in Saskatoon

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name and age were not released by police.

Big River RCMP said the vehicle involved in the collision left the scene.

A forensic collision analyst is assisting with the investigation.

Big River First Nation is approximately 160 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Trudeau’s neglect of the nation has led us to this place


In an astonishing statement to the New York Times in 2015, Justin Trudeau declared, « There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada, » and consequently that « makes us the first post-national state. »

This kind of talk would have been horrifying to Peter Lougheed, Alberta’s premier from 1971 to 1985. He believed in Canada. He had faith in our national institutions. But the intransigence of the federal government led by Pierre Elliot Trudeau tested that faith.

And now we have Justin Trudeau, a prime minister who, like his father, has odd ideas about the country, the world, and Alberta’s place in it.

Dark resentments thought buried in this part of the country have been reawakened.

The ideas behind Canadian confederation are at risk.

Albertans are perplexed, and now many are angry. Why is our prime minister, we say, so obsessively focused on his role as heroic defender of a post-nation world and in doing so, neglects the needs of his own country?

Other national leaders (France’s Emmanuel Macron, for one), have learned what happens when you ignore the wishes of your citizens. Riots reminiscent of the events of 1968 in France, triggered the country’s prime minister, and soon after the president, to back away from a loathed carbon tax.

A protester wearing a yellow vest, the symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel fuel prices, holds a flag near burning debris near the A2 Paris-Brussels Motorway, in Fontaine-Notre-Dame, France, on Dec. 4, 2018. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

In his attempts to satisfy liberal progressives and conservatives on the politics of petroleum and pipelines, our prime minister has swallowed both the red pill and the blue pill. Canada is not The Matrix.

Waking up into Justin Trudeau’s worldly view is irrational — a sign of childish naiveté at best.

Trudeau said, to conclude the interview with the Times, « I’m excited to be on the world stage. » And continued, »I think people are starting to see that I’m actually reasonably fit for this office. »

We beg to differ.


The Trudeaus have never understood — or seemed fond of — Alberta or the aspirations of the West.

Our prime minister is focused on a global agenda. Meanwhile, he and his team are setting Canada against itself.

One only has to look to recent events in France and the European project, in general, with Brexit a clue as to why nations are no longer keen on abandoning their autonomy for the lofty ambitions of leaders on the world stage.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is seen in this file photo from November 2017. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Brian Mulroney, one of our nation’s elder statesmen, recently offered Trudeau some wisdom: It’s the job of the Canadian prime minister to look after Canada first and the rest of the world next.

That may sound like America First. China first. India, too — first.

It’s realpolitik.

Blind spots and willful ignorance

Pro-rationing the sale of oil from Alberta — as a mandate, not a PR stunt — is a unique weapon in the hands of a political leader. This isn’t an angry mob of dairy farmers, spilling milk down drains rather than selling it below cost.

This is the government of a province in Canada saying: Enough! This madness must stop!

And by sheer neglect, Trudeau created the conditions where the only legitimate response in Alberta crossed party lines, demonstrating a unity among Albertans that he’s either not seeing or is willfully blind to.

It’s our oil and gas. Full stop. Canada’s constitution amended in 1930 said as much: provinces own and control the resources underfoot. And selling for prices below the cost of production isn’t fair to the royalty owners — it’s also stupid business.

Meantime: Our prime minister’s neglect, even callousness, is driving a wedge between regions and igniting Western alienation. He’s playing with fire.

Trudeau and his cabinet have been preoccupied with their global vision of how things ought to be at the expense of how things are in the country. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, along with her Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe, had to practically beg the prime minister to give the energy crisis pride of place on Friday’s first ministers conference agenda.

Is it any wonder Albertans, for the second time in a generation, have executed extraordinary measures in their legislature to protect the province from an incorrigible federal leadership?

And that raises another question.

Are we all — as citizens of this country — complicit in allowing this prime minister to go forward on his destructive path toward a post-nation state?

At what price comes his glory?

This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.

Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary’s special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at

More from the series:


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B.C. First Nation eyes renegotiating benefit deal on Trans Mountain pipeline project


A British Columbia First Nation is looking to renegotiate its Trans Mountain expansion benefit agreements signed before Ottawa bought the pipeline, according to a band councillor.

Simpcw First Nation Coun. George Lampreau said the new round of consultations launched by Ottawa following August’s Federal Court of Appeal decision created a new process on the project.

Simpcw First Nation, about 80 kilometres north of Kamloops, B.C., was one of 43 First Nations that signed mutual benefit agreements (MBAs) with Kinder Morgan when it owned the 1,500-km Trans Mountain pipeline and was working to increase its capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day from 300,000.

« To us it’s a new process. They keep telling us, ‘Your MBAs are going to stand up,' » said Lampreau. « We don’t feel that way. So we are going to probably get into renegotiating. »

Lampreau said the band council still needs to develop its plan with the new consultation process and discuss it with community members.

The First Nation held a referendum to ensure it had community support to sign the initial MBA, said Lampreau.

« It’s a community process. We engage with them with on every major decision we make within our community, » he said.

Trans Mountain says it will honour MBAs

In an emailed statement, Trans Mountain media relations said it « will continue to honour all of our mutual benefit agreements as agreed to and are committed to our relationships with Indigenous communities and to completing the project successfully and with shared prosperity for those communities. »

Ottawa purchased the pipeline in May because the previous owner, Houston-based Kinder Morgan, was preparing to walk away from the $7.4 billion project which faced stiff opposition from First Nations and the British Columbia government.

An aerial view of the Trans Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C., in May. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The expanded pipeline would pump bitumen mined in Alberta from its Sherwood Park terminal to tankers docking at an expanded Westridge Terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

The Federal Court of Appeal in August overturned the approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, partly on grounds Ottawa failed to properly consult and accommodate First Nations on the project.

Lampreau said Simpcw decided to sign onto the pipeline expansion to increase its influence over how the project unfolds.

« We would rather be involved in the process than sitting on the outside and have it pushed through, » he said. « At least our concerns are heard right at the front. »

Lampreau said the First Nation has developed an emergency response plan and is currently monitoring and maintaining the existing 50-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline.

‘We have been called sell-outs’

Lampreau said Simpcw has faced a lot of heat on its position from First Nations activists who oppose the pipeline. He said the band leadership has even faced threats over the issue.

« We have been called sell-outs; We have been called traitors, » said Lampreau.

Lampreau criticized the vocal position taken by Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) against the pipeline. He said some of the activists targeting his community are from Neskonlith, about 51 km west of Kamloops. 

Wilson is secretary-treasurer for the organization. Simpcw is also a member of UBCIC. ​Neskonlith and Simpcw are both part of the Secwepemc Nation.

Lampreau said the pipeline crosses within a few kilometres of Simpcw’s reserve boundaries and through about 400 kilometres of its territorial « division » within Secwepemc territorial lands.

« Even though the right is collective, we have our own right within our division and we protect that, » said Lampreau.

« Yet no one from the rest of the nation, including [Wilson] has ever come to us and asked us about what we are doing with the pipeline. »

‘The collective benefit isn’t there’

Wilson said Lampreau’s linking of activists to her community was an attempt to get a legal hook to place responsibility on her leadership.

Wilson said band councils control territory only up to their reserve boundaries and it’s the people of the nation who hold title to Secwepemc territory as a whole.

Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson speaks during an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline news conference on Thursday during the Assembly of First Nations annual December meeting in Ottawa. (Jorge Barrera/CBC)

« Title belongs the nation and it’s collective in nature, » said Wilson. « I think the ones who are trying to claim territory are buying into those colonial notions and the divide and conquer tactics of the government and industry. »

Wilson said a letter has been sent to Simpcw explaining her position.

Wilson said she understands why some First Nations have signed onto the Trans Mountain project, but said the promised economic benefits pale in comparison to the pipeline’s threat to the environment.

« The collective benefit isn’t there for the people and as leaders, that is what we are supposed to be looking at — the collective benefit of our people, the land and water, » she said. « And not be blinded by economic promises that are really false economic promises. » 

Neskonlith chief accuses Trudeau of sexism

Wilson confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday over his government’s failure to obtain « consent » from First Nations on the pipeline project.

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson asks PM about consent on Trans Mountain pipeline 5:23

The exchanged occurred after the prime minister delivered a speech to the Assembly of First Nations during their annual December meeting in Ottawa.

In his response, Trudeau referred to Wilson by her first name, while using the title « chief » responding to the other male questioners. 

Wilson and UBCIC have demanded an apology from Trudeau over what she viewed as sexism.


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Province urges Sask. First Nation to shut down unpermitted cannabis store on reserve


A cannabis store operating outside the Saskatchewan government’s regulatory framework is now open in a First Nation community 70 kilometres northeast of Regina after the band passed its own cannabis legislation.

Justice Minister Don Morgan said Tuesday the province wants the store to shut down.

Morgan said the federal government gave each province the responsibility of setting up and enforcing regulations for cannabis retailers, which includes First Nations reserves.

« It would be our position that somebody setting one up without a provincial licence would not be legal, would not be authorized, » Morgan told reporters after Tuesday’s question period at the legislature.

« I would urge them to stop going ahead with it. »

Morgan said more permits will likely become available « over the next coming months. »

He said anyone wanting to open a shop, including the Muscowpetung First Nation, should apply for a licence rather than hurt their reputation by opening a store illegally.

Morgan said he will let the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) decide how it wants to move forward to address the shop.

« I don’t want this to become an enforcement issue. We’re looking for this to be a compliance and licensing issue moving forward, » he said.

The Muscowpetung First Nation issued a news release after Morgan spoke to reporters, saying « In the interim, we can advise that we are waiting to hear from Canada concerning our request to sit down, in the spirit of reconciliation, and negotiate First Nation’s jurisdiction over cannabis. »

Band passes its own cannabis act

According to a previous news release issued by the Muscowpetung First Nation, the band passed its own cannabis act on Monday, Nov. 12. A spokesperson for the band confirmed 86 per cent of band members voted in favour of the new legislation.

A spokesperson for the First Nation confirmed the Mino-Maskihki Cannabis Dispensary opened Tuesday for band members and medical patients and will open to the general public Wednesday.

A November 6 letter from Muscowpetung First Nation chief Anthony Cappo asking band members to vote in favour of the legislation states the band turned to the numbered treaty documents to find a way to bring about their own legislation.

« Within the numbered treaties and inclusive of the treaty right to health (medicine chest), the elected leadership understand that as a sovereign treaty nation, Muscowpetung has the authority to regulate the use and sale of Cannabis/Hemp within our Nation, » Cappo’s letter read.

Cappo said leadership within the First Nation have consulted with elders in their community and a legal team to « ensure this initiative has the strongest legal arguments » possible.

A focus on healing and economic development

Cappo’s letter states the legislation is looking to address accessibility, affordability and responsible or safe consumption of cannabis and hemp both recreationally and medicinally.

The First Nation will be looking to cannabis to « promote overall community health benefits, » by using the most current information available to identify its healing properties in terms of harm reduction, mental health, pain and diabetes management and cancer treatments.

According to Cappo’s letter, the band is looking to address addictions and how childhood trauma plays a role in substance misuse.

« Research shows that addictions have been linked to childhood trauma, » Cappo wrote. « Our people’s history and the legacy of government imposed residential schools is filled with traumas and their effects. »

He said cannabis can be used as a medicine to heal the long-lasting traumas the community has experienced in terms of addictions — which could be related to the residential school era — while benefiting the community in an economic development sense.

As a revenue source, cannabis could benefit the community through employment opportunities and by injecting money to underfunded programs like mental health and youth and elder programming, the letter said.


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Alberta’s Lubicon Lake First Nation to ink land deal Tuesday with feds, province


Alberta’s Lubicon Lake First Nation expects to mark the end of a decades-long fight for recognition on Tuesday.

But Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan says the real work will begin after the band signs off on its land claim with the province and the federal government.

He says the $113 million included in the deal will allow the band to get to work rebuilding the community of Little Buffalo.

READ MORE: Treaty signing marks start of real work for Alberta’s Lubicon, says chief

Money in the settlement is already tagged for essentials such as decent housing, a new school and an elders care facility.

Laboucan says the 246 square kilometres included in the claim are in good shape and relatively unaffected by industrial activity.

Laboucan credits former chief Bernard Ominayak for that, saying his advocacy work let companies know the Lubicon had an interest in that land and discouraged them from working there.

READ MORE: Lubicon band settles long-standing land claim for $113M and swath of land

In the late 1800s, British officials missed the Lubicon as they negotiated Treaty 8 with other Indigenous groups. Canada agreed the Lubicon deserved title to their land in 1939, but a deal was never reached.

The issue stagnated until the 1970s when oil and gas companies began carving through local traplines. By then, the Lubicon were so poor that diseases such as tuberculosis were a problem.

In 1988, Ominayak staged a protest at the Calgary Olympics and blockaded roads into the disputed area. The dispute went global as a United Nations committee criticized Canada for its treatment of the Lubicon.

“If that hadn’t been the case, we wouldn’t be here,” said Laboucan. “A lot of credit has to go to previous chief Bernard Ominayak and council, and all the chiefs before him.”

Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan says signing the deal will feel a little like history.

READ MORE: Prentice welcomes new federal negotiator for stalled Lubicon treaty talks

Feehan says everyone at the negotiating table sat down with the knowledge that the time had come to settle the dispute.

Ominayak has been invited to the ceremony, although it’s not clear if he’ll attend.

Laboucan said the band can finally focus on it’s future, not its hard-luck past.

“Up until this point, we haven’t had our own land base. It’s pretty hard to do what you need to do without a land base.”


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3 dead near Oneida First Nation in ‘suspicious’ circumstances


Ontario Provincial Police launched an investigation on Sunday after the discovery of three bodies southwest of London, Ont., on the edge of the Oneida First Nation.

The OPP issued a written statement approximately 10 hours after the bodies were found, saying they had responded to a call near Bodkin Road and Jones Drive, in Middlesex County.

The deaths are being treated as suspicious, the statement said, with both the coroner and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service being dispatched to the area.

Police closed the roads in this area to carry out a suspicious death investigation on Nov. 4. (Google Maps)

Few details were known Sunday night, but there were reports the bodies were found inside a vehicle.

Police said Bodkin Road will be closed while the investigation continues.

Anyone with information is being asked to call the Middlesex County OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers.


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