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Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
Special to ICT

Around the world: First Nation calls for Pope to rescind ‘evil’ policy, rural Māori stroke survivors experience 'worst outcomes', Indigenous activist honored with statue, acclaimed coach helps Māori prisoners stay out of jail, and proposed legislation in Canada would give Indigenous groups a voice in protecting historic sites.

CANADA: Pope should rescind ‘evil’ Doctrine of Discovery

The interim grand chief for Dehcho First Nations said Pope Francis should rescind the Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery, a policy dating back to the 1400s that lets Europeans claim Indigenous lands as their own, if he wants to make amends with Indigenous people in Canada, CBC News reported on June 11.

The Dehcho First Nations released a statement calling on the Vatican, the Government of Canada and the British Crown to reject the "fraudulent and evil" Doctrine of Discovery.

"Leadership had a statement to the Pope saying that the Pope's apology is meaningless to the Dehcho unless the Pope rescinds the Doctrine of Discovery," according to CBC News. "The Church [was] the one that started this whole thing, and they have to end it by rescinding that document.”

Interim Grand Chief Stanley Sanguez said in the letter that the the Vatican, Canada and the Crown should acknowledge “what we all know to be true: that the land now known as Canada was not vacant or ungoverned when Europeans arrived and that it was actually governed by sovereign nations with our own institutions and laws.”

Last month, the Vatican announced that the Pope would be visiting Canada in July. He is expected to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in residential school abuses.

NEW ZEALAND: Rural Māori stroke survivors experience 'worst outcomes’

A new study has revealed that rural Māori in New Zealand who suffer strokes experience worse outcomes than other stroke survivors, Te Ao Maori News reported on June 11.

The study funded by the Health Research Council found out that Māori who were treated at non-urban hospitals were 75 percent more likely to have died within 12 months compared to 57 percent for non-Māori people.

"Both findings were independent of whether the person was living outside an urban area, meaning rural Māori were experiencing the worst outcomes overall,” according to Te Ao Maori News.

Professor Anna Ranta, who led the research from the University of Otago in Wellington, said the differences in outcomes for Māori could not be attributed to risk factors such as lifestyle or socio-economic issues.

“At least some of the differences are likely attributable to unconscious bias and institutional racism in the health service," according to Te Ao Maori News.

About 9,000 people suffer strokes in New Zealand in a year, and the numbers are expected to increase y 40 percent in the next 10 years.

Ranta said researchers are now working to collaborate with Māori health providers, organizations and the Ministry of Health to develop education programs to improve stroke care.

AUSTRALIA: Noongar activist honored with statue

A statue honoring Fanny Balbuk Yooreel, a 19th Century Indigenous activist has been erected in front of Western Australia's Government House, National Indigenous Television reported on June 10.

Balbuk, who was Noongar, was a land rights activist who became famous for practicing her culture amid growing colonization.

The statue depicts her as she was often seen in her later years — walking with a digging stick, knocking over fences in her way as she went to go fishing in the Derbarl Yerrigan, or Swan River, to collect freshwater crawfish and vegetables.

NEW ZEALAND: Rugby coach works to help Māori prisoners stay out of jail

Sir Graham Lowe, an iconic rugby league coach in New Zealand, is fighting to keep Māori offenders from going back to jail, Te Ao Maori News reported on June 10.

According to the Department of Corrections, Māori imprisonment rates in New Zealand are well above 50 percent.

Lowe established a program, Kick for the Seagulls, based on 12 principles he used throughout his coaching career. The 17-week prison program using sports to help those behind bars.

“I see these men at the completion of these courses when they graduate… I have a pride in my heart that I can’t describe,” Lowe said, according to Te Ao Maori News.

“I’ve had the privilege of sitting on the sideline at Wembley with 100,000 people singing to me after a challenge cup game. The feeling of pride grips you so much, that you’ve got to be careful, or you just break down and start crying. It’s just a fantastic feeling of pride. I don’t feel any less than that every time we have a graduation.”

Lowe’s achievements including coaching the Kiwis to their first win over the powerhouse Kangaroos in more than a decade, beating the Australian league champions as the coach of England rugby league club Wigan, and being the only non-Australian to win State of Origin as coach of Queensland in 1991.

CANADA: Indigenous groups could get voice in protecting historic sites

The Canadian federal government has introduced legislation that would allow for greater Indigenous participation in the designation and protection of federal historic sites, APTN News reported on June 7.

“This will be the first legislation of its kind in Canada and will result in a stronger voice for Indigenous peoples in determining the people, places and events that are of national historic significance in Canada,” Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault said, according to APTN News.

The bill would ad three new positions to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada allowing for First Nations, Métis and Inuit representation.

There are more than 300 federal historic sites in Canada, but it is the only G7 country without legislation to protect them.

Guilbeault says the bill ensures for the first time that all Canadian historic sites are “protected by legislation and any changes to the sites would require that Parks Canada be consulted in order to preserve their heritage value,” according to APTN News.

My final thoughts

My final thoughts are about the new legislation from the federal government in Canada aimed at giving Indigenous people more say in how protected sites are managed. It is unfortunate that until now, Canada has been the only G7 country without legislation to protect historic sites. I want to congratulate the federal government for a step in the right direction and urge legislators to get this done as soon as possible. Too much time has already been lost.

Finally, I would like to share with you article 42 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article 42
The United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.

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