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Timely funding, MMIWG inquiry top AFN chief address to FSIN delegates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 13:45

AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde addressing delegates at FSIN Assembly in Prince Albert. Photo courtesy of FSIN.

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says there have to be changes made to ensure federal funding flows quickly and becomes more effective for First Nations communities.

Bellegarde was addressing delegates of the annual Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations this morning in Prince Albert, and says those changes have to come from the bureaucracy within government. He says that in some cases, some First Nations are still waiting on funding from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) that was committed in the 2015/16 fiscal year budget.

"The prime minister and cabinet’s visions are huge, but unfortunately, the bureaucracy in the department of Indigenous Affairs is narrow," said Bellegarde. "They still operate under the old way of doing business."

The AFN chief says there might be increased dollar amounts in the recent federal budget, but there have to be more effective ways and means of getting those funds out to the communities in a more efficient way.

"Within the department of Indigenous Affairs, there have to be more effective policies and procedures put in place, and that goes for all the departments," says Bellegarde. "Government says one thing and cabinet says one thing, but the bureaucracy is the one that has to catch up to speed, and the AFN and FSIN have to find effective and efficient ways to do that, because it’s not getting out to the communities."

Bellegarde says there are policy changes that have to happen sooner than later with the prime minister's office and Privy Council, which helps administer government.

Bellegarde also used his address to speak to the progress of the national commission on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Earlier this week, an open letter, released by more than 30 advocates, Indigenous leaders and family members, expressed their misgivings to the inquiry's chief commissioner. In the letter, concerns were raised about the lack of communication between the inquiry and families that was causing anxiety and frustration.

"If family members have concerns, I have concerns," he says there has to be support for the commissioners, so the families find space to be heard. "If they (the commission) find that there isn’t enough time, the AFN can ask for an extension of the hearings. If they feel there aren’t enough resources, we can help push for that as well," he added.

Bellegarde says it’s all about finding closure and justice for the families impacted, and coming up with recommendations to help end violence in First Nations communities.

"We don’t have to wait until the end of the inquiry," he added. "Things like investments in daycare, transportation and housing, those things can happen now."

He says while the commission is reviewing their findings, there is much that the federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations governments can do to address the root causes of the situation.


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 May 2017 13:55
Fourteenth Diabetes Canada gathering held in Prince Albert PDF Print E-mail
Written by mbcnews   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 13:26

Photo courtesy Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada held its 14th Annual Aboriginal Gathering in Prince Albert on Wednesday.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 people living with diabetes in Saskatchewan today, and another 4,300 are believed to be undiagnosed.

Saskatchewan Regional Director for Diabetes Canada, Brie Hnetka, says Aboriginal people are genetically predisposed to developing diabetes, but there are also a number of environmental factors, which can play a role.

"Access to affordable food is an issue in a lot of remote communities, as well as the environment, so is it safe in their communities to go out for a walk and to exercise, is it too cold?" she said.

One of the speakers at the event was Lyle Daniels.

At one time in his life, Daniels needed two shots of insulin every day, but since then, he has changed his diet and lost weight. He encourages others to do the same.

"Take those walks, go walk in the bush, go rabbit hunting, go trapping, do all  the stuff that traditionally have kept us physically fit in the past, especially with our ancestors," he said. "There is nothing wrong with going back to that lifestyle to bring back an opportunity to live a long life."

Diabetes Canada has various educational programs and support services, which are available across the province.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 May 2017 13:34
Former Fond du Lac chief headed to pretrial for alleged fraud, theft and breach of trust PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 12:17

Fond du Lac aerial view. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Serious charges against a past elected official from Fond du Lac are set for pre-trial.

Napoleon Mercredi has been facing allegations of fraud, theft and breach of trust by a public officer since charges were laid summer of 2015. After more than a dozen court dates over the past year and a half in Fond du Lac and La Ronge, he has been committed to stand trial in Prince Albert.

This relates to charges dating back to Mercredi's time as chief of Fond du Lac between 2009 and 2011.

When the charges were first laid, RCMP economic crime unit’s Hugh Gordon, lead investigator on the file, told MBC the complaints were brought forward in 2012 by the chief and council who replaced Mercredi after an unsuccessful re-election bid.

Gordon said Mercredi did, as chief, have authority to access band accounts but Gordon said the question is, did he misappropriate funds or put them at risk of misappropriation, and if so, how much?

After a two and a half year investigation, he said the value of these funds "is in the hundreds of thousands, but as to which amount is going to ultimately be the correct amount will have to be decided by a court."

When contacted about the charges in 2015, Mercredi responded that he was not alone in the authority to spend the band's money “so therefore I was getting direction from some of the councillors.”

He called the allegations “a political game.”

A trial date has not yet been set.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 May 2017 12:29
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