News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada
Morin suspension upheld
OTTAWA - The M?tis National Council voted in a special assembly on April 24 to uphold the suspension of its former president Gerald Morin.
Morin has been suspended since Jan. 11 when he was arrested in an Ottawa hotel for physically abusing a female companion.
According to a statement from the MNC on April 26, the suspension will remain in place until an election is held to replace Morin.
"I have faith that we have acted in the best interests of the M?tis Nation in light of the situation that was forced upon us," said Interim President of the MNC in a prepared statement. "This decision was made by the Special Assembly, following open deliberations and a democratic process. Mr. Morin was given a fair opportunity to be heard."
Morin confessed at the time that he has an alcohol abuse problem and has subsequently sought treatment.
Death of Aboriginal teen leads to inquest
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - A commission of inquiry is slated to begin in September that will look into the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of aboriginal teenager Neil Stonechild in 1990.
Stonechild was found frozen to death on the outskirts of Saskatoon wearing no coat or shoes, but his death was originally ruled to be accidental by the Saskatoon Police Department.
Saskatchewan Justice Minister Eric Cline called for the public inquest in February because he said there is evidence, obtained by an Royal Canadian Mounted Police inquest, indicating Stonechild had contact with police in Saskatoon on the day of his death. The RCMP investigation was launched at the request of Saskatoon Police Chief Dave Scott following the freezing deaths of two other aboriginal men that were reported to have had contact with members of his department on the days of their deaths in 2000.
Rodney Naistus, 25, was found near the city's Queen Elizabeth power plant on Jan. 29, 2000. Lawrence Wagner, 30, was found at the same location on Feb. 3, 2000 after having last been seen Jan. 30, 2000.
The Wagner case has received the most media attention because the Saskatoon police investigation allowed the crime scene to be contaminated.
Wagner, like Stonechild, was found without a coat and with no shoes. His socks, however, were clean and his body was found near a set of tire tracks that were allegedly accidentally destroyed by the throng of investigators. The city employee who found Wagner's body told the inquest that he saw the tracks and a boot print in on the back of Wagner's bloody shirt.
Wagner's clothes were not taken into evidence following an autopsy.
Darlene Katcheech and other witnesses in the inquest have said they have been the object of Saskatoon police harassment and surveillance since they testified.
Katcheech was the witness who said she saw Wagner, her cousin, with a policeman the day he died.
Tribal council buys communications company
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - The Battlefords Tribal Council with the help of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has purchase one of the most well-known communication firms in western Canada.
BTC acquired MGM Communications with a $350,000 contribution from Ottawa. The company has provided a variety of communication services from offices in Regina and Saskatoon. Its current client list includes SaskTel, SaskPower, and the Saskatchewan Potash Corp.
"This acquisition provides First Nations people with an opportunity to participate in a professional service industry and fill a market niche that traditionally had little Aboriginal representation," said INAC Minister Robert Nault. "Indian Affairs Canada is happy to assist the BTC in acquiring an existing and successful firm that will help build a strong, self-sufficient First Nation economy."
The money for the INAC contribution was part of the Opportunities Fund, established to help provide matching equity capital to assist First Nations and Inuit businesses in obtaining conventional loan financing to start-up, purchase or expand a business.
Several readers responded to a "News from the North" request for questions and comments by asking for an explanation or description of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada.
Briefly, the AFN is a national aboriginal lobby group that represents over 630 First Nations communities on matters affecting their lives, including treaty rights, land claims, culture, economic and human development, education, and governance issues amongst many others.
The AFN is lead by its elected National Chief who serves a three-year term. The current national Chief is Matthew Coon Come, a former Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees and a highly regarded advocate for preserving aboriginal human rights in and out of Indian country.
Please send your questions and comments to Robert Taylor at email@example.com.