DanGreenUser

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Aboriginal Education and Blue Saltwater Kindle Edition

Blue Saltwater is now available at the Kindle Store for $3.99. What an affordable way for educators to provide their students with an emotional no-holds barred insight into the Canadian Indian Residential School System that they will never get by reading a boring documentary edition about this subject. I would love to participate if any students or educators out there want to start a dialogue or book club on this story.

Grizzly Bear Business

The Orford River Valley boasts one of the heaviest concentrations of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/mark-hume/  This traditional home of the Homalco Indian Band was abandoned many years ago but is now being resurrected by a fortunate confluence of events which would have been hard to imagine in years past.

The Homalco have found a willing ally in Mr. Wynne Powell, the CEO of London Drugs Ltd, the company which also owns The Senora Resort, a luxury wilderness lodge located nearby. The company and the band have joined forces by combining their unique abilities to make this a Grizzly viewing mecca especially for European tourists who are enamored by the abundance of wildlife in British Columbia.

The band first restored the Orford River salmon run and then added value by selling tours to watch the bears eat fish. Mr Powell, an avid Grizzly photographer and a frequent customer of the trips saw where he could help the band grow their business by offering a two day program for the six-member grizzly bear crew where the company’s training program in customer handling skills was redesigned to make it relevant to wilderness bear guides. 

The results have been remarkable and could not have occured if either group had acted in isolation. Whereas in the past the guides would have ad-libbed, there are now prescribed welcoming speeches, set tour schedules and a series of carvings which serve as talking points for the guides to explain Homalco legends. The guides have become more confident and polished in their presentations and because of the interest of the outside world for the Homalco culture, there is a renewed enthusiasm and pride on the reserve about the past, with some of the guides trying to learn their largely forgotten Homalco language. The Bear Tour has now become a must-do experience for visitors to the lodge and the cultural dimension provided by the guides is priceless.

What a great template for other aboriginal business ventures to emulate. I have seen modern resorts owned by Indian bands in BC where there is a disappointing number of aboriginal employees which completely misses the point, since these businesses were meant to provide employment opportunities for aboriginal youth. A cooperative approach like the above could be the answer to getting these ventures on the right track of providing good jobs, renewed cultural pride and a valuable educational experience for visitors.

Aboriginal Education going in the Wrong Direction

As mentioned before on this blog, about sixty percent of aboriginal kids drop out of high school which is way too high. Now I see that the number of young aboriginal women going to prison has shot up by forty percent in the last decade.http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Gangs+starting+infect+women+prisons/5554001/story.html

Is this where they’re going to get their education? Hope not!

Aboriginal women have always played a vital role in the life of their communities and now is the time when opportunities of a lifetime are becoming available that will enable them to lead their communities into a brighter future.  Come on ladies, it’s your turn to shine, not to rot in some black hole. With the new Aboriginal Health Authority being established in British Columbia, the options for young aboriginal women to attain stimulating, respected, and well paying health careers is staggering. The bus is leaving pretty mama. Don’t get left behind.

Aboriginal Education and BC Health Authority

B.C First Nations signed an historic agreement today with the provincial and federal governments that will transfer responsibility for the administration of $380 million aboriginal health care dollars to a newly created First Nations Health Authority. Federal Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Grand Chief Doug Kelly and Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo said the agreement will streamline administration and integration of health services which will result in remarkable improvements in the health and well-being of BC First Nations and will be a step forward in First Nations taking back responsibility for their own lives and communities.http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111013/bc_first_nations_health_authority_111013/20111013/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

Sounds good on paper but is this really going to be the case or will it turn into another insatiable bureaucractic nightmare? Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he is not clear how it will work on the ground since it is such revolutionary idea. I don’t like the sound of that! http://www.cknw.com/Channels/Reg/NewsLocal/Story.aspx?ID=1555259.

This process is going to take time and there will be a steep learning curve, but for the sake of all aboriginal families I hope that this bold initiative will provide inspiration for young aboriginals to stay in school and pursue meaningful careers in health care delivery rather than just becoming another soft cushy mattrass for paper-pushers and politicians. Go for it kids. The future is bright and you are the future.

Suicide Prevention:The Power of Love and a Good Job

Chief Shawn Atleo of The Assembly of First Nations today commended all federal parliamentarians for coming together to support a national suicide prevention strategy. First Nations communities are particularly hit hard with suicide rates being five to seven times higher than among other Canadians.http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=9ecfc4d0646e1736f945a8cd8&id=4fd1768199&e=4d6920a344

This is good as far as it goes, but a suicide prevention program alone will not be effective unless it is an integral part of a larger effort to promote practical education and training programs that are targeted to provide good paying jobs so young aboriginals can see a more positive outlook for their future.

The pivotal role of friends and family in providing a safety net of love and encouragement along the way cannot be underestimated either. If it wasn’t for the unconditional love of Padre Joe Murphy, Blue Saltwater would have jumped off the Lions Gate Bridge and never reached his goal of returning to Haida Gwaii.

Paul Martin’s Aboriginal Initiative Program

Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin was a great champion of First Nations issues during his time in office from 2003-2006. Since leaving politics he has been actively involved with several non-profit endeavors including the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative http://www.maei-ieam.ca/ which he established to benefit native youth in Canada. Log on to this site to see all the good work that is being done by this organization and find out how you can get involved.

BC Government and First Nations on the Right Track

Today’s announcements by Premier Christy Clark of large private partnership infrastructure projects in Prince Rupert and Kitimat,http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Premier+Christy+Clark+kicks+jobs+week+with+million+northwestern+port/5423337/story.html created a lot of buzz because of the long term employment opportunities that they will bring to northern British Columbia. However the most exciting thing about these initiatives is that the government has included First Nations communities in the process right from the get-go. Local First Nations leaders are firmly on board with these plans since this time their people will not be excluded from all the social and economic benefits these projects will bring in the future.

What a positive change from the exclusionist policies of the past and another example of how the BC Liberals are continuing with the wise policies instituted by former premier Gordon Campbell in this regard.

Aboriginal youth in BC have a bright future in front of them, and now is the time to buckle down and get the education necessary to attain and hold down these good paying jobs. Spread the word to all your friends and don’t let this once in a lifetime opportunity slip from your grasp.

Aboriginal education being held hostage by Self Serving Chiefs

The elders and chiefs that run the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) finally found a flimsy reason to get revenge on their chairperson Guy Lonechild by firing him for allegedly covering up a drinking and driving charge in 2009. Troubling though this may be, the real reason appears to be pay-back for the fact that Lonechild uncovered a financial mess at the First Nations University in Regina and fired the board, embarrasing many of the same incompetant people who run the Federation. Lonechild took his case to court, where a judge overturned their attempt to cashier him, but when Lonechild returned to work he found that the keys to his office had been changed and he couldn’t get in. Several days later he accepted a $500,000.00 severance package and walked. Who knows what threats may have been uttered behind closed doors. It’s also shocking how these guys just throw taxpayers’ money around, as if they’d earned it themselves.

The chiefs of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec have recently also refused to work with a panel set up by AFN chief Shaun Atleo and John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs which will recommend ways to improve the nation’s 500 on-reserve schools. Why would they refuse to even work with the panel to find solutions to a 60% drop out rate? Because it serves them fine when most aboriginal youth are illiterate and unable to challenge their self serving ways. Here’s hoping guys like Shaun Atleo and Guy Lonechild find support within the larger aboriginal community becauase they are the ones who are trying to arrive at realistic solutions for aboriginal youth rather than just feathering their own nests.http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/john-ibbitson/dropout-chiefs-imperil-a-generation-of-kids/article2131931/?service=mobile

Land Disputes,Democratic Reform and Aboriginal Education

Chief of the Rosnau River Anishinabe First Nation Terry Nelson has never been a guy to mince words, once referring to non-natives as immigrants and saying that there’s only one way to deal with the white man: “You either pick up a gun or stand between him and his money.”

Not to say that he isn’t a good negotiator since he has just received an 80 million dollar settlement regarding a land claim. He handed out $5000.00 cheques to 1500 adult band members. For children, the money is held in trust until they turn eighteen and then they get the lump sum, no questions asked. http://www.winnipegsun.com/2011/07/29/feds-ok-80-m-roseau-river-land-claim. I’m sure he’s a popular guy for doing that and I guess it’s a good good way to keep on getting elected! But why not make the kids earn it by finishing high school? Maybe hold out a carrot like post secondary scholarships if they do and start to work on some real social change rather than just continuing with the same old handout system which encourages dependency.

The other issue here is what happens to the balance of 61.6 million? It goes into an endowment fund apparently, but since there are no democratic controls on how this money is managed, what is to stop it from disappearing into the pockets of individuals such as Chief Nelson, his relatives and cronies. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2011/03/08/mb-roseau-audit-nelson-manitoba.html.

If the Canadian governent wants to move forward with changes to the Indian Act and allow for aboriginal self governance, it must insist that all aboriginal leaders are elected according to the Elections Canada rules just like other Canadians. Transparent accounting systems must be established and audited so that this new found wealth is not squandered by certain privileged individuals for their own benefit.http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/06/04/kevin-libin-alberta-bands-challenge-too-many-chiefs-not-enough-indians/ Otherwise nothing will change and twenty years from now aboriginal communities in Canada will be in the same sorry state they are today which isn’t fair for anyone, natives or Canadian taxpayers alike.

Encourage aboriginal high achievers

Recent studies have shown an appalling aboriginal high school dropout rate approaching sixty percent. Obviously more must be done to bring these numbers into line with Canadian averages. In the meantime, aboriginal leaders must provide encouragment and financial opportunities to the deserving forty percent who have made the grade. Instead of handing out royalty payments to eighteen year olds who have done nothing to deserve them, substantial monies should be earmarked to assist the high achievers in pursuing their educational goals. Generous scholarship incentives should be available to be “earned” by the best and brightest for both university and technical education and the success of these students should be widely publicized and rewarded to encourage up and comers to follow in their footsteps. If this can be done in the poverty zone of rural India, it surely can be done in Canadian aboriginal communities on an even more widespread basis.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/one-room-schoolhouse-fanatical-teacher-committed-students-freedom-from-a-life-of-poverty/article2105765/