OTTAWA ? Reports conflict in the Canadian media over a proposed settlement for First Nation veterans who served in combat during World War II and Korea.
The Canadian Press reported on Oct. 1 that the veterans were poised to accept an offer of $20,000 (CDN) compensation offered by the federal government. The CP report quoted Grand Chief Howard Anderson of the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Council and a World War II veteran, as saying the deal would be "reluctantly accepted."
On the other hand, The Toronto newspaper the Globe and Mail reported on Oct. 2 that First Nation Veterans were staging a protest in Ottawa over the settlement, demanding fair compensation and apology for racist government policies that saw non-native veterans receive more comprehensive benefits for their wartime service. The Globe and Mail quotes Anderson as saying "To us the settlement is nothing ? Nobody is satisfied."
Non-native soldiers were awarded $6,000 to buy land, up to $2,600 for resettlement costs, spousal benefits, vocational training, and other educational benefits. By comparison, native veterans were awarded a maximum of $2,320 and none of the other benefits the non-natives veterans were granted. Some aboriginal veterans estimate that they are owed as much as $420,000 plus interest for the value of land non-natives received and they did not. In 2000, a government commission recommended that the 1,800 affected veterans receive compensation in the amount of $120,000. (All monetary amounts are in Canadian dollars.)
YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories ? A controversial land claim settlement between the territorial government, Ottawa, and the Dogrib, or Tli Cho First Nation, has reportedly led to violence in the streets of Yellowknife.
A spokesperson for G Division, Royal Canadian Mounted Police told Indian Country Today that the RCMP have not noticed an increase in violence between the Dogrib and the Akaitcho First Nation, the leading critics of the agreement, or any other natives. The spokesperson said any fighting is just normal Friday night drunken brawling.
James Marlowe, a resident of the Akaitcho settlement of L'utselk'e, said in a telephone interview that he has witnessed fist fights in the streets of Yellowknife between the younger members of both nations as recently as Sept. 28. He described relations between the rivals' elders as "belligerent" and "unfriendly," while he described the most recent fights as being "near riot conditions."
"They (the elders) are not even stopping to say hello to each other when they pass each other on the street," said Marlowe.
The Dogrib see the settlement as a needed step towards building a future for their people. The Akaitcho have said that the Dogrib are claiming land that is not theirs and is part of the latter's ancestral homeland.
IQALUIT, Nunavut ? Many Inuit leaders in Nunavut felt snubbed by not being mentioned in the latest Liberal Party speech from Ottawa.
The throne speech lays out the legislative agenda in its upcoming session and is expected to be the last from retiring Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien. In the speech, several references were made for programs that appear to benefit natives who live in urban centers or on reservations, none of which applies to Nunavut, the province ranging from Labrador to the Northwest Territories representing thousands of Inuit.
Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik, angered by the lack of mention and commitment to the Inuit in the speech, sarcastically told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Oct. 1 that if the Inuit wanted recognition from Ottawa they should move on to reservations. Nunavut's Liberal MP, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, defended the throne speech on Oct. 2, saying that Nunavut is farther ahead than many smaller First Nations on reservations in financial resources and with increased attention to its concerns.
WINNEPEG, Manitoba ? A recent national poll by the marketing firm Leger indicates that natives have a negative image in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Forty percent of residents interviewed in the two provinces responded that they have a negative image of natives, while 43 percent think natives have more rights than other Canadians, according to the poll. The national average was 30 percent. Only 13 percent responded that natives had fewer rights. Approximately 50 percent stated they felt natives had not helped to economically enrich Canada.
According to the Canadian Press, the survey was conducted in mid-September and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.