Archive Media Releases - 2003
December 2, 2003
Partnership for a Healthier Mi’kmaw Population
The 13 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada have committed $150,000 to the Mi’kmaq Youth, Recreation and Active Circle for Living (MYRACL) to promote active lifestyles in Mi’kmaw communities.
The MYRACL initiative was endorsed during the Tripartite Forum executive meeting in November attended by Robert Nault, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Michael Baker, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Nova Scotia Chiefs.
Robert Bernard, executive director of MYRACL, feels the partnership will create positive outcomes through sport and recreation activities for First Nations peoples.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to promote and present healthy choices to children and youth and move towards healthy, active living,” Bernard said.
Minister Baker said the promotion of healthy lifestyles in First Nations should lead to a healthier population in the future.
Bernard said the first steps include hiring a staff person and identifying the needs on Nova Scotia’s 13 First Nations communities. Bernard then plans to help the communities develop the resources for sport and recreation activities.
The Tripartite Forum was formally established in 1997 as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, Province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and resolve outstanding Mi’kmaw issues.
September 5, 2003
Aboriginal Youth Focus on Business
About 150 aboriginal youth representing all 13 Nations in Nova Scotia heard a wide range of advice to inspire them about business-related careers. Career First, the first annual First Nation Youth Business Summit recently brought together aboriginal youth in Eskasoni and Sydney for a two-day conference.
Topics included information technology and multimedia, arts and culture, and career choices. Each session included sub-sessions and guest speakers from both local and national levels. Some of the mentors included Susan Aglukark, Tom Jackson, Tamara Podemski, community leaders such as Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy and other local mentors.
“The summit assists in providing aboriginal youth with the skills and tools to inspire them towards pursuing business opportunities,” stated Louis Joe Bernard, economic development advisor for Union of Nova Scotia Indians. “The youth will share this knowledge with others in their home communities.”
Co-hosted by Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) and Eskasoni First Nation, the concept developed from an aboriginal youth roundtable held in Nova Scotia. As a result of the roundtable the youth identified business topics of interest.
Funding for the project was provided by ECBC under the Young Entrepreneurship Development Initiative, Aspiring Entrepreneurs Element.
The success of the event is giving momentum to hold the summit again next year to help aboriginal youth to continue to explore their career options.
The Tripartite Forum through the economic development working committee, one of its six working committees, addresses issues relating to economic development and Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq. Results of this forum include projects such as Career First.
The Tripartite Forum was formally established in 1997 as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and resolve outstanding Mi’kmaw issues of mutual concern. The Tripartite Forum is a vehicle to address issues that affect the lives of all Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq.
October 31, 2003
First Mi’kmaw Woman to win Frances Fish Award
Dr. Viola Robinson, member of Acadia First Nation, overcame age, gender and culture barriers when she ended her homemaker career and started her law career. Spending much of her life advocating the rights of Mi’kmaw and women issues Dr. Robinson is the first Mi’kmaw woman to receive the Frances Fish Women Lawyers’ Achievement Award.
The award honours and celebrates Dr. Robinson for her outstanding achievements in Mi’kmaw communities and her commitment to the advancement of women equality through her legal profession.
Candy Palmater, Aboriginal Affairs, presented the award to Dr. Robinson. Palmater stated that Dr. Robinson was a role model in many of her life decisions including the choice to attend law school. “Viola is smart, humble, patient, caring, kind, hard working and I could go on and on,” says Palmater. “She exemplifies, for me, what it means to be a strong Mi’kmaw woman and provides an example of what I want to work toward.”
Dr. Robinson gracefully dedicated the award to the Mi’kmaw people and especially the Mi’kmaw women. She admits it was challenging to return to work after being a stay-at-home mom but her family was highly supportive. She also said, “If Mi’kmaw women have something they aspire to do no matter who they are, what they are or where they are they should go for it.”
Acadia First Nation employs Robinson as an advisory consultant and land claims negotiator. As well, she is the Mi’kmaw co-chair on the Tripartite Forum Justice working committee. According to Donald Julien, executive director of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, “As the Mi’kmaw co-chair Viola is a blessing as she has the ability to listen, explain and to promote equal and fair treatment for Mi’kmaw people in the justice system.”
Dr. Robinson was instrumental in advocating the rights of Mi’kmaw people and women in her involvement on many committees and programs. She and other individual leaders were successful in introducing Bill C-31. Dr. Robinson served as a Commissioner on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. She also received an honourary Doctorate of Laws from Dalhousie University and the Governor General of Canada Commemorative Medal of the 125th Anniversary of Confederation.
The Frances Fish Women Lawyers’ Achievement Wards ere held on October 23, 2003 at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel. Proceeds from the Frances Fish Awards dinner and silent auction will go towards reprinting the publication Understanding the Law: A guide for Women in Nova Scotia, 4th edition and ongoing work of the National Association of Women and the Law.
October 21, 2003
Drumming Culture into the Youth Correctional Centre
Within the Waterville Youth Correctional Centre courtyard a tent-like hut is set up and a small fire burns near it. No, it’s not a campsite. And although it’s a cold day a few youth crawl out from the tent-like hut flustered and wearing light clothing. They were taking part in a traditional Mi’kmaq sweat lodge ceremony. This is one of several events the youth, government officials, Mi’kmaq and youth centre staff would take part in at a cultural gathering during Mi’kmaq history month.
“It’s hotter than a sauna,” says one youth about the sweat lodge. The events continue in the courtyard where the youth and visitors surround the Eastern Eagle drum group. The youth listen to the stories and music, which echoes on the walls of the enclosed courtyard.
Encouraged to dance in a traditional two-step the youth surprisingly seem more enticed to try it than some of the grown men visiting the centre.
A traditional feast with deer and moose meat is provided for lunch. The afternoon involves more cultural learning with stories and music. Many of the youth even sway during the drumming.
“Every time I’m able to share my culture it makes me very happy,” says Donna Augustine, a Mi’kmaw traditionalist, to the youth. “It’s a way of giving back for all that the Creator has given me.”
The Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network, an organization proving justice support services to Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, organized the event sponsored by the Tripartite Forum justice working committee.
“It’s important to ensure that the Mi’kmaw culture and tradition is retained and kept alive while the youth are incarcerated,” says, Viola Robinson, Mi’kmaw co-chair on the Tripartite Forum justice working committee. “As well, there is the value in the cross cultural training these visits provide to others within an institution.”
The committee strives to ensure fair treatment and access to the Mi’kmaw culture for Mi’kmaq in the justice system. This reflects the recommendations of the Donald Marshall Royal Commission report.
Fred Honsberger, executive director of Nova Scotia Correctional Facilities feels this “is an excellent example of the benefits of the Tripartite partnership and the application of that partnership to front line services that benefit native and non-native youth in Nova Scotia.”
Among the committee members at the centre were Donald Julien, executive director of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, Ted Tax, senior regional director of Justice Canada and other Mi’kmaq and government representatives.
The Tripartite Forum was formally established in 1997 as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, Province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and resolve outstanding Mi’kmaw issues of mutual concern. The Tripartite Forum is a vehicle to address issues that affect the lives of all Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq.