The RCMP have announced that they believe that this summer’s wildfires in Alberta were the result of arson.
The McMillan fire, which was deliberately set consumed a total of 2,730 square kilometres.
Several communities were affected by the fire and forced to evacuate including Wabasca, Bigstone Cree and Peerless Trout First Nations.
The fire burned for nearly two months from May 18th to July 1st before it was finally brought under control by firefighters.
Investigators and the government are seeking help to identify who the individual responsible for the fire was and are asking potential witnesses to come forward.
“To the families affected by this wildfire who were evacuated, and to the forest industry who suffered losses, we will find the person responsible for the McMillian wildfire,” said Devin Dreeshen, the province’s minister of agriculture and forestry.
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell has called Wexit “nuts” and that it was created to sow “unnecessary division.”
Speaking to Global News, Campbell stated that “adult” conversations were necessary with policies like equalization, and yet the dialogue has been anything but mature.
“We’re a complex country and we are always going to have issues that need solving,” she added. When Campbell was prompted on Wexit she gave out an incensed screech: “It’s nuts! I’m sorry, it’s a dead-end, so Alberta’s going to separate and that’s going to make it easier to get access to open water? That is a slogan designed to make people angry.”
Campbell’s comments come after the surging support in western separatism deriving from Justin Trudeau’s re-election. Since then, a notable online presence has grown in support of the Wexit movement, and the premiers of western provinces have cautioned Trudeau of the stark consequences of western alienation.
Campbell finished by saying that the Wexit movement “was not how grown-up people address problems … I see this and I think grow up!”
A Twitter search of Campbell’s tweets on Quebec show no similar criticism of the separatist movement in that province.
Remembrance Day has just passed, but the gratitude we bestow our veterans’ continues year round. Tales of their untold bravery are passed down in song and legend, and their sacrifices immortalized in the freedoms we cherish today.
As we reach the end of Métis Week in Alberta, we are conscious of the historical struggles faced by our Métis veterans. The pathway to recognition hasn’t been easy.
Nevertheless, here we are. And today, we stand by those–living and since passed–who fought to defend this land we proudly call home.
The raising of Métis flags in cities, towns and hamlets across the province, starting in Beaumont, pays homage to their patriotism and the lessons of their generation. The need to come together, regardless of creed, nationality, or where you come from holds in pursuant of reconciliation.
Raised on Nov. 14, the move honours the Métis for their part in shaping the region’s heritage. While the flag is set to come down Monday, a representative to Beaumont took to social media, stating, “[the flag] is currently on a temporary flag pole. We will be looking for a permanent home for the flag within City Hall.”
And in honour of that permanence, recognizing the contributions of figures like Bertha Clark-Jones, Theo Fleury, and Louis Riel remind us never to take life for granted. And in the case of the latter, the fleeting sense of unity in the face of western alienation.
Canada’s indigenous communities deserve more recognition
From the Cree code-talkers to the Métis veterans’ activists, strides were made after decades of hardship. Recognition for their sacrifices became a reality.
The unique role indigenous Canadians filled during the war effort proved indispensable. The Alberta Cree code-talkers, for example, improved Allied communications, where orders could be spoken and translated by a network of Cree code-talkers without fear of enemy intrusion.
While Ottawa recently issued an apology for its past treatment of Métis veterans, their $30-million pledge to recognize their contributions was highly regarded as a step in the right direction.
In the spirit of reconciliation, here is a notable example of those contributions.
Activists and Cree-Métis veteran Bertha Clark-Jones advocated for recognizing the pivotal role the Métis had during the Second World War. She dedicated part of her post-service career to guarantee fair treatment to indigenous and Métis veterans.
Bertha also helped open Nistawoyou, an indigenous friendship centre, which allows men and women living in Canada’s north to find work. She had also worked on the centre’s housing committees and also volunteered at NewStart, which provided educational upgrading programs to the northern communities.
The most profound impact she had was in her co-founding of the Voice of Alberta Native Women’s Society, which was one of the first equal rights organizations for both status and non-status native women. Under Bertha’s presidency, the Native Women’s Society also focused on helping indigenous foster children find foster parents within their communities. An issue overlooked before Bertha’s efforts.
Premier Kenney took to social media on Aboriginal Veterans Day to recognize her achievements as a proud Métis Albertan.
Coming together to defend one’s land, in spite of our differences, provides society with the moral fibre to embrace progress and leave no man, woman or child behind.
And that effectuates the spirit of Riel, who has since been rehabilitated and called a “statesman” by Ottawa’s mayor.
Theo Fleury honours Riel‘s memory
Stanley Cup winner and renowned Métis author Theo Fleury spoke to his on-and-off-the-ice struggles at a recent Edmonton event. Fleury, who is also an Olympic gold medalist, touched on having the balance and the ability to be vulnerable.
In an emotional speech, the Métis icon states, “I wanted to end my life. Not because I wanted to die, but because I was completely exhausted from living in emotional pain for the majority of my life.”
“I tried everything to get rid of this pain and suffering. And, I remember having the gun in my mouth. I remember the gun rattling against my teeth, and I remember what it tasted like, as it sat there for quite a long time.”
“At the moment of truth, I had this random thought inside my head: You never quit anything in your life. Why are you quitting now?”
Upon this realization, Fleury threw the gun into the desert, put his New Mexico property up for sale and returned home to Calgary two weeks later.
He attributes spending time with family and fellow Flames’ Alumni to help him get back on his feet.
“I chose to live, but I had no clue how to live life on life’s terms. All I knew was how to cope–happy, mad, sad–and I certainly knew how to make it go away.
Today, he resides in Calgary, as an outspoken advocate of Alberta, calling out the federal Liberals lack of fairness towards the province.
Lest We Forget: the Métis stand tall amidst growing concerns of identity theft
With concerns emerging on indigenous identity theft, attributed mostly to the “Eastern Métis movement,” Canada’s “Aboriginal Identity Population” rose sharply between 2011 and 2016. With the population increasing by 19.5 percent over that span, Indigenous claims to sovereignty and self-determination are under threat by the phenomena of “response mobility.”
In Nova Scotia, experts have indicated that the shift away from one’s “white identity” is commonplace amongst locals. Through “aspirational ascent”, fake claims of indigeneity created over 50 indigenous organizations, provoking genuine concerns from many outside the Métis community.
Being Métis is not something we aspire to be. It is who we are. We embrace our heritage and aspire for greatness. We uplift those around us and seek togetherness over division. But taking another’s identity and assuming it as one’s own appropriates the historical struggles many fought and succumbed too.
Whether intentional or not, author and associate professor of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University Darryl Leroux made a note of the “raceshifting” trend amongst Nova Scotia’s population.
Groups like the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation are part of the problem. They’re fraudulent states Leroux says.
Per a CBC article, members of this “new Métis [Nation]” have used status cards to receive tax exemptions on cars and gas, sparking outrage and a subsequent probe into the matter.
Having amassed a membership base north of 30,000, Statistics Canada has indicated the number of self-identifying Métis in Nova Scotia rose 125 per cent in the decade preceding 2016.
Cheryl Maloney, a Mi’kmaw activist and Cape Breton University political science professor, states, “They’re trying to be viewed as Métis under the Constitution, and to have rights and benefits [as Métis people].” Rejecting their identity is not ‘exclusive’ or ‘mean-spirited,’ it is merely the just thing to do, especially for those no longer with us to speak against the whitewashing of Métis culture.
Alberta’s tussle with bad weather isn’t over yet.
Following our report last week which placed Alberta as one of the coldest places on Earth, there is some improvement, if only a touch.
Instead of a colossal and cold snowstorm, large chunks of the province will receive freezing rain.
While better than the previous week, the still dangerous weather has prompted an Environment Canada warning.
|Fort McMurray – Fort MacKay|
|Grande Prairie – Beaverlodge – Valleyview|
|Hinton – Grande Cache|
|Peace River – Fairview – High Prairie – Manning|
|Wabasca – Peerless Lake – Gift Lake – Cadotte Lake|
|Whitecourt – Edson – Fox Creek – Swan Hills|
According to Environment Canada, the warnings may need to be expanded today as the freezing rain transitions eastwards.
The government agency recommends taking precautions while driving as surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is requesting nearly $1.7 billion dollars from Ottawa following the collapse in oil prices that has plagued the provincial economy for years.
Kenney’s request is a timely one, as Alberta continues to seek avenues to renegotiate Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa and Canada as a whole, looking to gain more autonomy from the federal government, according to the Globe and Mail.
The Kenney government is looking to receive $252-million from the Fiscal Stabilization Program, as aligned with Alberta’s 2019 budget. Though Ottawa has yet to greenlight the funding, Kenney has made it clear that he expects much more.
Alberta was the recipient of over $250 million from the Fiscal Stabilization Program in 2016 due to the province’s soaring unemployment rates, while provincial budgets also reached the red, ending in a deficit. The former Notley government filed a request in September of last year, asking Ottawa for a second payment under the same program.
Kenney is now asking that Prime Minister Trudeau quickly approve the request, which as already passed a year in waiting time. Kenney is also asking that Trudeau send the larger cheque he is seeking for his province. According to Alberta’s finance ministry, the province is ineligible for a third year of funding due to the economic bounceback after 2016.
Kenney told media on Saturday that the funds, when received, would go towards helping Alberta’s economic shortcomings, as the province is yet to fully come out of the 2016 recession. “It was designed to be an equalization rebate for the have-provinces when they have a sudden and unexpected decline in revenues.”
That equalization rebate is one that Kenney has recently gotten into verbal fisticuffs over with Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchette.
Recently, Kenney responded to Blanchette’s comments that Quebec would not support Alberta’s venture into a separatist movement, one that he says his party had no interest in comparing to Quebec’s previous movements, and one he has little interest in aiding.
“If they were attempting to create a green state in western Canada, I might be tempted to help them,” he said. “If they are trying to create an oil state in western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us.”
Kenney responded by telling the Bloc leader to “pick a lane”
“If you are so opposed to the energy that we produce in Alberta, then why are you so keen on taking the money generated by the oilfield workers in this province and across Western Canada?” said Kenney, the keynote speaker, to the sold-out crowd at the Westin Calgary.
“Pick a lane. Either you can say as Quebec that you’re no longer going to take the energy and equalization resources that come from Western Canada’s oil and gas industry … or you can do what we do as Canadians, coming together to support each other, especially in times of adversity,” said Kenney.
His fiery speech, which was given at a luncheon for the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, received a standing ovation.