Alberta wildfires wreaking havoc on Métis and First Nations communities

Thousands of people have lost their homes or businesses to wildfires that are spread out across Alberta.

Nearly 17,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as 26 of 87 fires burn out of control.

The East Prairie Métis Settlement in northern Alberta has also been hit hard.  They’ve been on an evacuation order for the past 14 days and fire has destroyed more than two dozen structures in that community

Dave Lamouche, president of the Métis Settlement general council told Nation to Nation that the scale of the destruction is still being calculated and that right now, the families need support, prayers and encouraging words.

“I think its that time, where the stuff they had lost is now sinking in,” he said.

Lamouche said people on the ground are feeling help and cash donations are coming in slowly.

He said although it isn’t time to start to rebuild, he’s hoping to see some action from the federal government,

“There hasn’t been any real commitment made, although lots of commitment has been made verbally,” he said.

Conservative critic slams two pieces of proposed government legislation

The gun control bill (C-21) has been debated fiercely in the House of Commons this week and at the same time, Justice Minister David Lametti introduced bail reform legislation (C-48).

The government says Bill C-21  is meant to take automatic, assault-style weapons off the streets. But according to Raquel Dancho (Kildonan—St. Paul), Public Safety critic for the federal Conservatives, it will still take away hunting rifles used by Indigenous hunters, like the SKS rifle, a military rifle built in the former Soviet Union.

“We’ve heard from the premier of Nunavut, the premier of the Northwest Territories, that semi-automatic long guns are critical in their protection in communities against polar bears, critical in their hunting rights and the Liberals will continue their assault on lawful firearms owners,” she said.

The Liberals have said they will convene a committee to review which long-guns will be banned.

As for Bill C-48, Dancho said it won’t fix what the Conservative’s like to call the Liberal government’s “catch and release” policy.

“What we need is a systemic overhaul of the reckless and dangerous system,“ she said.

In spite of the overwhelming number of Indigenous people behind bars, Dancho said the bail system is weak.

“We feel that the most important thing is to protect Indigenous women and victims. The rights of Indigenous victims needs to be put primarily first and we know that disproportionately victims of crime are those from marginalized communities and the First Nations and Inuit and Métis communities.”

Senate committee on Indigenous Peoples. 

The Senate is currently studying Bill C-29 in committee. It is supposed to create a National Council for Reconciliation, after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action, number 53.

According to Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron, there’s a problem.

“Bill C-29 has to go back to our First Nations, to give more input, more inclusion,” he told Nation to Nation.

Cameron said here’s been no consultation. The Liberals are proposing to have 13 individuals to be appointed from the Native Women Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council.

But Cameron said there’s no mention of elders. He said it’s crucial to have those individuals involved, who are the walking libraries.

“Without inclusion, it (C-29) will fail, it’s a simple as that.”


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