Monday, August 14, 2017

Senator screens new documentary on reconciliation on Parliament Hill

How a Mennonite music festival is helping landless Indigenous Bands in Saskatchewan

How a Mennonite music festival is helping landless Indigenous Bands in Saskatchewan
August 12, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: August 13, 2017 - 12:39pm

14/08/2017 How a Mennonite music festival is helping landless Indigenous Bands in Saskatchewan | paNOW 2/7

It had all the telltale signs of a summer music festival. A makeshift stage sat at the foot of a restored red hip roof barn. Lawn chairs were in hand and people milled about taking in berry bushes ripe for the picking and on site meals. Wood signs were directing people where they needed to go and vehicles lined a freshly hayed eld.
But a tipi nestled in the corner of the farmyard was the catalyst to set this festival apart.
For eight years, visitors from as far as Ontario have come together on Ray Funk’s acreage for the Spruce River Folk Festival. The one day event is about much more than just music.
Hosted in part by the Saskatchewan Mennonite Church, Mennonite Central Committee and the Young Chippewayan First Nation, the annual cultural event is organized to shine a light on the issue of landless Bands within the province.
“Reconciliation is at the heart of it,” Funk said. “We don’t get to pick the stories that history leaves to us, but we do get to move the story forward.”
Dozens gathered near a red hip roof barn and tipi on Ray Funk’s acreage north of Prince Albert for the 8th annual Spruce River Folk Festival.
Funk has hosted the event each year on his land north of Prince Albert. It has grown over the years to include greater aspects of reconciliation such as a pipe ceremony, which opened festivities Saturday morning. The tipi was packed with participants from afar, and for many, it was their rst time at such an event.
The reconciliation Funk spoke of dates back to 1876 when Treaty Six was signed at Fort Carleton.
That year, a ripe 30 square miles of farmland located near the present town of Laird was granted to Chief Chippewayan and his people. But not ten years later, increased settlement and the decline of bualo in the area impeded on their way of life.
The Chippewayan people - now lead by Chief Chippewayan's son Young Chippewayan heard of bualo near Cypress Hills and uprooted themselves to follow the food.
Fearful to return to the area after the events that unfolded in nearby Batoche in 1885, the Band settled around North Battleford.
In May 1897, that 30 square mile patch of land was granted by the federal government to the Hague-Osler Mennonite Reserve - who had settled in the area two years prior - for agricultural purposes.
But in the 1970s, the Mennonite Reserve was approached by people who said the land they now cultivated belonged to the Young Chippewayan people. This understandably caused some stir but led the Mennonite community on a mission to justify the claims.
They quickly found they were true, but the claim had been rejected by the Indian Claims Commission (ICC).
A 1995 report from the ICC on the matter showed the Department of the Interior had taken the Young Chippewayans land without their consent, but said genealogical research was needed to prove there is an identiable community or Band left to have the Treaty provisions honoured. This ownness was placed on the backs of Young Chippewayan people.
Wanting justice for the Band, in 2006, the Stoney Knoll Gathering was held between the Young Chippewayans, Mennonites and Lutherans on the land in question. A memorandum of understanding was signed with a pledge to work together and nd a way to help the landless Band.
The communities held the initial fundraiser in the hopes of collecting $15,000 needed to help cover the cost of a researcher to nd the family tree.Three years on, they had raised the necessary funds but wanted to do more. In the time since, the festival has helped fund and produce a short lm,  R e s e r v e 1 0 7: R e c o n cilia tio n o n t h e P r airie s,  and have plans to do more.
“There is something in people that they want justice to be done,” Leonard Doell said. He works on the Indigenous Neighbours program inside the Mennonite Central Committee and has been involved since 1977.
He said music and food are an excellent way to bring people together, build relationships, “get to know each other and work together for justice.”
Berny Wiens was the emcee for the musical portion of the afternoon. He is a farmer in the Rosetown area, comes from a Mennonite colony and served a brief stint in the late nineties at the helm of the provinces Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Aairs portfolio.
He said the event was encouraging and an important step to educate and understand the cultural and spiritual background over the “little snapshot of the struggle with the Chippewayans.”
“Mennonites, who were immigrants and occupied what had been First Nations land, have acknowledged the injustice and are trying to do something about it,” he said. “And the First Nations are fully engaged in that mutual endeavour. I am excited that some good things are happening.”
Though still without their land, the Young Chippewayans were recently included in a successful legal action rewarding compensation to 14 Saskatchewan First Nations whose treaty payments were withheld for punishment during the Northwest Rebellion between 1885 and 1888.
The hosts were aware of at least six other landless Bands in Saskatchewan.

14/08/2017 How a Mennonite music festival is helping landless Indigenous Bands in Saskatchewan | paNOW 5/7
On Twitter: @JournoMarr

Saskatchewan's 'landless bands' fight for recognition, reconciliation Mennonites, Lutherans help raise funds for Young Chippewayan land claim settlement

Saskatchewan's 'landless bands' fight for recognition, reconciliation - Saskatoon - CBC News 1/5

Saskatchewan's 'landless bands' fight for recognition, reconciliation Mennonites, Lutherans help raise funds for Young Chippewayan land claim settlement

By Alicia Bridges, CBC News Posted: Aug 12, 2017 5:10 PM CT Last Updated: Aug 14, 2017 9:39 AM CT

In 1876, Chief Chippewayan signed onto Treaty 6, which designated 77 square kilometres of land near Laird, Sask., to the Stoney Knoll Band. But in the years that followed, a series of challenges made it difficult to sustain the 80-person population on the reserve land. With dwindling buffalo herds making food scarce, and difficulties with a transition to farming that was encouraged by the government, the band was forced to leave the area in search of food. Reserve 107 peacemakers receive YMCA peace medallion Within just over 20 years, the Canadian government had given the land to someone else. "Largely due to starvation they ended up leaving that land to look for food and they landed up at Cypress Hills," said Leonard Doell from the Mennonite Central Committee in Saskatchewan. "In the meantime, their land was taken away from them at Laird in 1897, and then it was given to Mennonites to settle."
Now, 120 years later, the Mennonite and Lutheran communities are working with descendants of the Young Chippewayan, also known as the Stoney Knoll Band, toward a land claim settlement. Land transferred without consent The Department of Indian Affairs started withholding payments from Young Chippewayan band members in 1885 because it suspected members had participated in the Riel rebellion. 'The Young Chippewayan story is not totally unique' - Leonard Doell, Mennonite Central Committee
By 1888, it no longer identified the Young Chippewayan as a separate band, and in 1895 talks were underway about dispossessing the band of its land. The minister for the Interior concluded it did not need consent from the band and moved to transfer the members to other reserves, where they were not always welcomed. In the early 1990s, descendants of the Young Chippewayan First Nation submitted a specific land claim. But in 1994, the Indian Claims Commission inquiry concluded that under the Indian Act and the law the claimants were not a band therefore not entitled to submit a specific claim. Fundraising concert to track genealogy In a partnership that started about 10 years ago, the Young Chippewayan First Nation is working with the Mennonite and Lutheran communities toward the land claim settlement.

To do so, Doell said the federal government requires them to track the Young Chippewayan genealogy and identify the living descendants to whom the land should be returned. This Saturday, the Spruce River Folk Festival fundraiser is being held near Prince Albert to help pay a researcher hired to do the genealogy work.
But the event has a broader goal of raising awareness about "landless bands" like the Young Chippewayan. "The Young Chippewayan Band is only one of a number of bands that never received their land or signed treaties but for some reason either lost their land or had it taken away," said Doell. "The Young Chippewayan story is not totally unique that way." Others seeking recognition Ray Funk, an advocate for landless bands who works with the Young Chippewayan, said he was aware of at least six other landless bands in Saskatchewan.
"Other landless bands became aware of what we were doing and got in touch, so we have provided a forum, at this point for four landless bands, to tell their story," said Funk. "And then, happily, some move forward." He said a band of Chief Big Bear's descendants near North Battleford, Sask., recently had their land claim recognized, providing hope for others.
'There's a definite sense of loss regarding the identity of the Young Chippewayan Band' - Gary LaPlante, Young Chippewayan descendant In 2013, a conference for landless bands was held at the Dakota Dunes Casino in Whitecap, Sask., about 30 kilometres south of Saskatoon. Part of the reason for holding the conference was to build on the limited information about landless bands.
The Indigenous Times reported at the time that other bands seeking recognition included the Peter Chapman, Chakastaypasin, Chacachas and John Cochrane First Nations. Sol Sanderson, a former chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and a member of the Chakastaypasin First Nation, said he is currently working with 26 bands from Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan on unfinished treaty issues. He said there were a number of ways reserve land was taken away from First Nations, including corrupt land sales. There are also reports of individuals being allowed to sign away land without the support of their membership.
According to the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre, three high-ranking government officials, including the then-deputy minister of Indian Affairs, rigged a public competition process in 1901 in their favour to purchase the Ocean Man, Pheasant's Rump and Chakastaypasin lands.

"They unilaterally dispersed the membership to other bands without the consent of the membership of any of those bands that occupied the lands, and no consent from the band [from which] memberships were transferred," said Sanderson. "There's been a lot of internal social issues resulting from the membership being transferred into different bands, that affects the families and the communities. It still exists today in many cases." Keeping story strong Gary LaPlante is a descendant of the Young Chippewayan Band, who is now working with the Mennonite and Lutheran communities on the Laird land claim.
He said he felt a sense of duty to ensure the story of what happened to the Young Chippewayan Band is not lost over time. "There's a definite sense of loss regarding the identity of the Young Chippewayan Band," said Laplante. "I think with the descendants, with the realization and [coming] to know their history over the years, [they have] come to really understand who they were and how they were dispossessed of land and as a result, dispersed.
"Their dream of any semblance of nationhood as a band, a community, was lost." LaPlante said the late Young Chippewayan designate Chief Ben Weenie had made it his life's work to keep the story alive.  He said Weenie was initially apprehensive about meeting with the Mennonite and Lutheran communities after tensions between communities in the Laird area in the 1970s.
But LaPlante said he always felt the Mennonite community had good intentions. Around 2006, Weenie, his wife Sylvia and LaPlante met with Mennonite leaders to share their story and discuss the future. "We were able to put any kind of discussions about past wrongs, we put that all aside," said LaPlante.
"We were talking reconciliation before reconciliation became a catchphrase in Canada." Future hopes The story of the Young Chippewayan band and the partnership with the Mennonite and Lutheran communities is the subject of a documentary, Reserve 107, which is being screened at the folk festival on Saturday.  LaPlante hopes a specific claim settlement can be reached to allow opportunities for the descendants to return to the land. "Nobody's going to go and dispossess anyone but if there was an agreement, a specific claims agreement settled, they could actually be able to buy land and those descendants who wish to honour their ancestors, or have those ties yet to those families … that they have the ability to come together like their ancestors had wanted," said LaPlante.
Indian Claims Commission Young Chipeewayan Inquiry

Mobile users: View the document Indian Claims Commission Young Chipeewayan Inquiry (PDF 2.83KB) Indian Claims Commission Young Chipeewayan Inquiry (Text 2.83KB) CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Telling our Story

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Honour walk: For Residential School Survivors

A group of youth supportive by MCC began a walk to Edmonton for the TRC at Stoney Knoll.  They decide to begin at Stony Knoll as a recognition of the work towards relationship building we have been working towards.    You can follow them at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chief Ben Weenie receives annuity payment from Treaty Commissioner Honourable Bill McKnight at Stony Hill Gathering 2011