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News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

Caravan Converges on Canadian Capital

OTTAWA - Natives from as far away as British Columbia traveled to Parliament Hill on April 28 to protest the First Nations Governance Act also known as Bill C-7.

Scott Cavan, a spokesman for the Six Nations of the Grand River, said the rally at Victoria Island and protest march to the House of Commons and Senate was attended by more than 1,500 Natives and their supporters.

"The caravan and the rally went well," Cavan told Indian Country Today by telephone from Ottawa.

Six Nations Chief Roberta Jamieson led a caravan of more than 30 vehicles through southern Ontario to Toronto and on to the community of Thayendenaga in the Thousand Islands before arriving in Ottawa. Chief Jamieson, a lawyer and vocal critic of the legislative suite of new Indian laws, was also a keynote speaker at the Parliament Hill protest.

The slate of speakers at the protest was the "who's who" of Indian country in Canada. Joining Chief Jamieson were Grand Chief Carol McBride of the Algonquin Nation, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Matthew Coon-Come, AFN Regional vice-chief-Ontario Charles Fox and Chief Stewart Phillip of the Penicton Indian Band and president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

In addition to First Nations elders and youth that voiced their opposition to C-7, protestors were also addressed by Jack Layton, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

"The Caravan to Ottawa" was actually a week of activities, including cultural and social activities that coincided with the resumption of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs' review of Bill C-7 after the Easter recess and concluded on April 30.

C-7 is at the center of a collection or suite of legislation proposed by the regime of Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien seeking to "negatively and unilaterally change the First Nations-Canada political, legal, treaty, and fiscal relationship, and reduce federal fiscal responsibilities."

First Nation Expanding Cruise Ship Facility

CAMPBELL RIVER, British Columbia - The federal and provincial governments are contributing money to expand an existing port facility operated by the Campbell River Indian Band to a cruise ship port to boost regional tourism and support a 2010 Olympic bid for Vancouver.

The Campbell River Band, the British Columbia Economic Partnership, and the Economic Partnership Initiative jointly announced on April 28 the contribution of over $300,000 (Cdn.) to increase regional tourism revenue through the growing West Coast cruise line industry.

This project will provide direct benefits to businesses currently owned by the Campbell River Indian Band, more importantly it will provide additional opportunities to our regional economy," said Chief Aubrey Roberts of the Campbell River Indian Band in a prepared statement.

The new port is expected to generate $2 million (Cdn.) for the local economy and has been in development by the Campbell River Band since 1999.

According to a statement from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the British Columbia Economic Partnerships initiative has invested over $2.3 million (Cdn.) in First Nations business in the province since April 2002. The Economic Measures fund has approved 111 projects worth a total of $25 million since its inception in February.

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Inuit Expert Wins Northern Science Award

OTTAWA - As protestors from southern Canada were in Ottawa protesting the First Nations Governance Act Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Robert Nault was handing out an award to a researcher of Inuit life and culture.

Professor Saladin d'Anglure was awarded the Northern Science Award for his scientific publications, films on Inuit culture and society, university teaching, archiving and exhibiting.

D'Anglure is also the founder of international journal of Inuit culture Etudes Inuit Studies and creator of the Prix Connaissance due Monde winning documentary "Koartaq" based on his first visit to the Arctic in 1956.

A native of France, d'Anglure earned his master's degree in Anthropology from the Universit? de Montreal in 1964 and received his Ph.D. in ethnology from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris in 1971. During the collection of data in Nunavik on Inuit life and culture, d'Anglure was the assistant for the highly regarded anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss.

The Northern Science Award has been presented annually since 1983, the 100th anniversary of the International Polar Year - the first worldwide coordinated scientific event. It is awarded to an individual or group of indigenous people that have made distinguished contributions to the understanding of the Canadian north through science.

The award itself consists of a centenary medal marking the anniversary of the International Polar Year and a small cash award of $4,500 (Cdn.).

Leadership Candidate Makes Appeal for First Nations Support

BROKEN HEAD, Manitoba - Deputy Prime Minister John Manley met with the senior First Nations leadership in Manitoba on April 24 as part of his campaign to replace Jean Cretien as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.

Manley, 53, the Member of Parliament for the riding or district of Ottawa South, made the appeal but received a mediocre response from the province's First Nations leaders. Grand Chief Dennis White Bird of the Association of Manitoba Indian Chiefs and Chief Margaret Swan of the Southern Chiefs Organization declined to commit to Manley's leadership bid over rivals Paul Martin and Culture Minister Shelia Copps.

Martin, a long time rival of Chr?tien's, has been touted in the Canadian media as the early front-runner. Martin, a businessman and former Deputy Prime Minister, has been an advocate for First Nations self-government and has previously unsuccessfully challenged Cretien for the Liberal leadership.

Copps is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Hamilton Center and has been criticized for her handling of First Nations' issues pertaining to artifacts and art held in private collections. She has had a reputation for being outspoken and flamboyant and was portrayed in a campaign advertisement in the 1980s as a leather-clad tough on a motorcycle.

Manley himself was the object of public disdain earlier this year during a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to officially open the Nunavut Legislature for saying Canada should sever its ties to the monarchy. Ironically, Manley was serving as the Queen's official escort in Canada.

Manley, however, is qualified for the job and has held a variety of cabinet posts, including the Finance and Foreign Affairs portfolios. He holds a law degree from the University of Ottawa and clerked for the Right Honorable Bora Laskin, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Cretien announced in 2002 that he would retire after serving nearly 40 years in the House of Commons and in three Liberal cabinets, including a controversial stint as Minister of Indian Affairs under the late Pierre Trudeau, before becoming Prime Minister in 1992.