Other top stories of 2016

In random order, here are more top news stories from 2016, as chosen by Treaty 4 News and our colleagues in other media outlets:

MMIW Inquiry

“The federal government holding their promise to launch an inquiry was a major step forward. Hopefully we will see something come of that. I’ve been covering this issue since I started at the Leader Post in 2006, and it’s been a tiny grassroots movement, and slowly over time, it grew and finally they do have this inquiry. It took perseverance on the part of many families,” said Kerry Benjoe, reporter with the Regina Leader Post.

Colten Boushie

In August, 2016, 22-year-old Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation was shot and killed at a farm in the RM of Glendale. Boushie was killed in the vehicle in which he was riding.

“This one stands out because of the mysteries surrounding the whole entire situation that have yet to come to light because the case hasn’t been brought to court, but social media and rumours were so rampant that it exposed a very ugly side to our population. I’m talking racism that we’ve never really experienced before from both sides, that went both ways. It was cruel, it was bitter, angry, hateful. I’ve heard a lot of racist comments over the years, but I don’t think I’ve heard, read to this extent in my life. It’s really disturbing,” said Nelson Bird, assignment editor, CTV News Regina.

“With all the work of reconciliation and the federal government efforts to mend fences, we had the Colten Boushie incident. It kind of woke up something that’s always been there at the surface but remained silent until that shooting. There was a lot of fallout from that. It’s a conversation people tend to avoid but one that can’t be avoided in a province where we have a large indigenous population that’s really marginalized compared to the rest of society,” said Benjoe.

Northern youth suicides

“It’s an ongoing issue that’s been around for quite a few years but I think the population of Saskatchewan had their eyes opened because of the number of young people that committed suicide in such a short time in the La Ronge, Stanley Mission area. I think it’s something that the provincial government and society in general has to do something about, and not just talk about it, but treat it as an epidemic,” said Bird.

“There are some positive moves – the medicine gathering that the Prince Albert Grand Council held a few weeks ago. They listened to the youth and let’s hope they continue to listen to the youth because that’s who needs to be the solution on this is the kids who are facing this suicide crisis,” said David Kirton, host of Meeting Room with News Talk Radio, Saskatoon.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde lays a wreath in remembrance of the shooting victims in La Loche in January, 2016. Treaty 4 News file photo.

Shootings in La Loche

“That got a lot of air time because of the tragedy there,” said Kirton.

 

FSIN name change from Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations to Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

“I thought that was a significant thing. It makes people stop and think about the name. It is a statement about self-determination,” said Betty Ann Adam, reporter, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.

Funding change to NORTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program)

“For 40 years (NORTEP) has been educating people to become teachers in the north,” said Adam. “It’s been done quietly and done very successfully, now we see a provincial government running roughshod over that. They’re indignant that this program would have the nerve to pay the tuition and expense and provide housing to students when students in the south don’t get that, not understanding that it’s a completely different approach, one that was not particularly expensive but was hugely valuable and effective. There was protest, and yet we’re not seeing any real sign from the government that they’re listening with respect,” said Adam.

Reconciliation

The Assembly of First Nations honoured Canadian artist Gord Downie for his work promoting reconciliation. Downie was given the Lakota name Wicahpi Omani “The man who walks amongst the stars.” Treaty 4 News file photo.

“All the activities with Reconciliation was huge, and it is relevant in how we perceive it. Gord Downie from Tragically Hip being honoured by indigenous people, it just lifted spirits of many people and gave hope that reconciliation can happen. It’s up to everyone to step in do what they can,” said Bird.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Governor General visits to Treaty 4 Territory 

“I think a lot of people see it as a sign of the federal government coming to the table and willing to work with the First Nations, something that they probably haven’t seen since the signing of the treaties. At the signing of the treaties, it was promised that the Governor General would come and meet with chiefs to constantly nurture that nation to nation relationship but once the treaties were signed, the Governor General never came back. It took 132 years, but it was pretty historical. The same with Trudeau’s visit. It’s not going to be the answer to anything, but just that connection that the federal government made with First Nations particularly here in Treaty 4 territory. I think that was pretty significant,” said Benjoe.

 

 

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