Tag Archives: First Nations

Attawapiskat

Look at Google News today:  “Send troops to help Attawapiskat.”   For a month, we’ve read about the Band Chief declaring a state of house in Attawapiskatemergency over the lack of housing and Prime Minister Harper saying that millions of federal dollars have been spent in the northern Ontario Cree reserve.  People have been living in tents and crammed into a construction trailer because there aren’t enough habitable houses.

So, I have just one question about those millions of dollars.  How much of that money was actually spent within the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Development? Spent not only on ministerial and high level bureaucrat salaries and expenses, but also in the low- and mid-level “worker bee” bureaucracy and on consultants?  How many memoranda and discussion papers have been prepared over how many years? At what cost in wages, expenses and materials?

Attawapiskat housing photo huffingtonpost.ca 2011 11 26 Red CrossAnd another question, I guess.  Why does reserve housing continue to be built using southern Canadian designs and materials? It seems pretty evident that neither usually hold up very well to northern weather and usage conditions.  And why is the construction often slipshod in the first place?

Inadequate housing on reserve is not new, especially in the north.  So now a rhetorical question, I guess. When is someone in government going to seriously look at how things are done and find a solution that works better?  The problems have been outlined and witnessed for decades. Solutions have been suggested.  Why is a system still in place when it has been shown to be unwieldy, inefficient, and just not working?

An old problem two decades ago

Amazon link for The Dispossessed
Click for Amazon link

For those of you who may not know about it or have forgotten it, Geoffrey York’s book The Dispossessed is an excellent collection of his essays on, as the subtitle says, “life and death in Native Canada.”  First published in 1989, it unfortunately is still a valid commentary on First Nations conditions today.  Read Chapter 3 “Inside the Reserves” especially.

When the book came out, the problems outlined in it were already old. Patience was running out. Two decades later and it’s like it’s a big surprise that conditions on many reserves are appallingly bad. Still news that people are having problems adequately providing for themselves and their families.

There are calls for the Canadian military and/or volunteer agencies to help out with the crisis in Attawapiskat.  The Red Cross of Canada has already become involved.  That is great. Maybe volunteers and the military can help alleviate the immediate problems.  But why on earth should any of them have to? In Canada, one of the richest countries on the planet?  If this is due to legislation (Indian Act) and bureaucracy, let the legislators and bureaucrats earn their money. Get it sorted out – for the long term.

Qalipu Band of the Mi’kmaq Nation

Monday it was announced: Mi’kmaq people of Central and Western Newfoundland are now members of the Qalipu band under the Indian Act.
Jim John and Dorothy, Gander River 1979 It’s been 39 years since they began politically organizing for that recognition. Hallelujah, and about time.

I’ve wondered if it actually would happen in my lifetime. I have spent my working life on and off involved in this process. I began in 1979 as a new graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Over the years, I’ve continued working for the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI). The early enthusiasm I felt every time there was a hopeful word from Indian Affairs faded long ago. All we have to do is show x, y or z? Yep, sure thing. Sorry, heard that before.

I’ve never really understood the reluctance by Canada and Newfoundland to give people Qalipu St. George's, Newfoundland, view from the beachthe recognition and status to which they are entitled. It was a fluke (or trade-off) when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 that excluded the new province’s First Nations from status under Canada’s Indian Act. At the time, it would have limited their rights of citizenry. Status Indians did not have the vote and other rights taken for granted by most of us. But the First Nations of Newfoundland and Labrador also did not have the benefits and recognition that inclusion in Indian and Northern Affairs legislation accorded. And, in 1949, a major overhaul of the Indian Act was already in process. In 1951 the most restrictive aspects of ‘wardship’ were removed from the Act.

In the early 1970s, Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland and Innu and Inuit in Labrador began working for the same rights and recognition as their kin in the Maritimes and Quebec had. Together in one association at first, they split into separate groups to pursue their Sign entering Miawpukek (Conne River) reserve, Newfoundlandobjectives in the best way for each of them. The FNI was born in 1972, representing all Mi’kmaq people of the island.

In the early 1980s the Baie d’Espoir community of Conne River split off. As a small predominantly Mi’kmaq community, they believed they’d have better luck on their own than working with a larger Mi’kmaq population spread across a wide area. And they did. It took direct action, like a government office occupation and a hunger strike, to do it. In 1984 the people of Conne River gained Indian Act status. Three years later, land around the village was designated as Miawpukek reserve.

FNI to Qalipu

Soon after, Indian Affairs allowed people with direct kinship to Miawpukek to apply for “off-reserve” status. That gave them individual rights like post-secondary Larry Jeddore with moose in Glenwood tannery 1983education and non-insured medical benefits. Of those eligible to apply, many did. However,  people like the late Glenwood chief Larry Jeddore did not. He had been born in Conne River of a chiefly family. He spoke the Mi’kmaq language. And he was one of the founders of the FNI. But he wanted to see all Mi’kmaq people of the island recognized. He didn’t live to see it but he fought hard for it.

FNI Larry Jeddore in Glenwood band office 1983Agreement in principle to register all Newfoundland Mi’kmaq as members of a landless band was reached in 2008. And finally the new band, Qalipu, exists. Without reserve lands, members receive only the benefits of “off-reserve status.” However, it is official recognition of what they have always known and kept alive: their ancestry, heritage and community as Mi’kmaq people.

Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Family History & Genealogy

If I don’t reply to your query, it is because I have no information. I don’t want to add to the comments with ‘I don’t know’. If you can help answer someone’s question, please post!

The internet is a good place to find out about your family history.  Unfortunately, it ain’t as easy as the tv ads for ancestry.ca look.  Often those ads with cheerful people clicking on a leaf and finding some fascinating bit of information about their great-granddaddy come on as I’m struggling to figure out whether this Peter is son of this Paul or that Paul.  It’s all I can do to not throw a shoe at the television.

There is a lot of information on the big genealogy websites like ancestry.ca and genealogy websites 1775 James Cook map of Nfldgenealogy.com.  And there are lots of other sites with information where you don’t have to pay a membership fee.  Some have vital statistics on them – birth and death records, census information etc.  Others are the product of family researchers.  Below are sites related to Newfoundland Mi’kmaq families that I have found useful.

A word of warning:  do not rely totally on any one source as the gospel.  Primary records have enough inconsistencies of fact and, with websites, you have the added possibility of error of transcription.  Dates get typed in wrong, names get misspelled.  There’s lots of room for error.  Plus some information is simply inaccurate or conflicts with other sources.  So with primary documents and the internet, be judicious, check and double-check.

Genealogy Websites

(see Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Books for more sources)

* Acadian Genealogy (by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino – many Nfld. west coast families)
* Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History (click a surname)
* Andersons (Fortune and Burgeo, BOI)
* Ashley Phillips’ Family Tree of Nfld (trees for Boucher, Lucas etc. – links at bottom of page)
* Benoit (by Jasen Benwah, plus other Nf Mi’kmaq fams)
* Desc. of Gabriel Billard (marr. Miriam Durnford)
 * Desc. of Michel Boudrot/Boudreau Lt. Gen. (1600s Acadie, marr. Michelle Aucoin)
*  Bras d’Or Families (by John Scott, incl. Jesso, Boutilier, & other fams & regions)
* Bras d’Or Indian Village Band Assoc. (Maliseet-Micmac Vital Stats, LeJeune gen, Nfld. Mi’kmaq)
* Canadian Genealogy & History Links (Nfld page)
* Chegau – Mi’kmaq Treaty Descendants (Chego, etc. family tree by Donna Marie Launey
* Chegau Mi’kmaq Family DNA (Donna Marie Launey)
* Chiasson Family
* Desc. of Charles Crocker (by Elizabeth Sheppard Hewitt)
* Desc. of Daniel’s Harbour (Payne, Brooks, Park families)
* Desc. of Jean George Dauphinee
* Doucet Family
* Fayz World (lower right, ‘My Family Tree’ – lots of info!)
* Gallant Family (PEI, by Linda Keefe-Trainor, click ‘tree’)
* (Gallant) Haché-Gallant Family
* Gaudet Genealogy (Mark B. Arsland: France, USA, Canada, NL)
* Desc. of Edward Gaudon (Joe Gaudon, Sept. 2000)
* Genealogy in Time (links to many sites)
* Mi’kmaq Ancestry of Jerry Gerrior (Gerrior/Girouard and others)
* Desc. of James Hall (NS & NL – click no. link at left for gens)
* Desc. of George & Jane Harvey (Town of Isle aux Morts)
* Hatcher Families Genealogy Association
* Herridge-Nurse Family History (Matthews, Garnier, Strickland, etc.)
* Jesso Family (most Nfld. west coast families)
* Labrador (Southern) Family History (Labrador Cura, by Patty Way) “Site temporarily unavailable” Feb 3/19
* LeBlanc/White (‘Steve’s Genealogy Blog’)
* LeBlanc & MacLean Families (Trish LeBlanc – Rootsweb, link goes to surname list)
* Lefresne-Robinson Family, South Coast of Nfld (Rootsweb, link to surnames)
* Legg Family of Dorset (includes Nfld., Janet’s Family History)
* LeJeunes of Cape Breton & Nfld (by Lark Szick)
* The Ancestry of Henry LeJeune/Young (by Kirk Butt, see note below on BSGGS for this)
* Desc. of Jacques LeJeune (Robin K. Young gen. home page)
* John Young (LeJeune) of Bras d’Or NS (by Kevin Young)
* Dr. William Litchman (South Coast families, Lushman etc.  Click a Publications title for content. Also see his “every-name index” for Burgeo-LaPoile 1921 census, below.)
* Desc. of George Lomond (by Sharon Dillon; also Dillon, Knott, Currie)
* Lucas, etc. (Betha Jeans’ genealogy.com FTM user tree)
* Maliseet & Micmac Vital Statistics (NB Church Records – 346 pg PDF so it takes a long time to load)
* Marche Family (see note below on BSGGS for access to this huge family tree)
* Mattie Mitchell Webpage (by Fred Powell)
* Muise Family (by Doris Muise)
* Desc. of Philippe Mius d’Azy (by Yvon Cyr)
* (Muise) Four Generations of d’Entremonts (Musée des Acadiens)
* Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (‘accept’ then search)
* O’Connell Family Tree (most Nfld. west coast families)
* Payne Families
acadien flag* PEI Family Lineages (flag by Acadian names)
* Donald J. Perrier of Alberta, Canada
* PEI Genealogical Society
* Pike Family History & Genealogy Resources (by David Pike)
* Rowe of Newfoundland (by M. John Rowe, see Ch. 11 for Reault/Rowe of Bay St. George and Port au Port
* Roy Family, through Marie Aubois (by John R. Nelson)
* Rumbolt, Hann, Lane & Howarth Genealogy Pages (Northern Peninsula, Bay of Islands)
* Jacques St-Pierre’s Family Tree (Doucet, Muise, LeJeune, et al. Hover over “Last Name” at top right for drop down menu of names)
* Saunders/Hynes of Fortune Bay, Griffin Family (‘My Nfld Family Tree’ by Devon Griffin – navigation at lower right)
* Southwest Coast of Newfoundland, Women’s History (by Cape Ray Lightkeepers House, Virtual Museum of Canada. Mini-bios. I found site hard to navigate, but just click around it – interesting)
* Vatcher Family History (by Ed Vatcher)
* Wendy’s Ancestral Tree (Cajun/Acadian families, go to paternal Pitre line)
* Western Newfoundland, and Labrador, Deceased Veterans (Cdn Assoc. of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping, Western NL chapter – family, work and military info.
* Western Newfoundland Family Lines (Rumboldt, Payne, Matthews, Hiscock, Eleniak, White, Caines, Vatcher, Brake, Snook – names with dates and places of birth and death)
* Wheeler Descendants (mainly Twillingate area)
* Stephen A. White, Genealogist (LeBlanc and others & Acadien history)
* Ancestors of Wayne Harvey Young (LeJeune & Stone)

For other family trees, genealogical and vital statistics information and sources, go to Bay St. George Genealogical Society.  There is a lot of material in the main site, but for $10 a year membership, you get to go in the ‘Members Only’ section.  There you find many of the invaluable papers on Newfoundland family history written by Allan Stride among other materials. NL GenWeb and Newfoundland Grand Banks are also great resources for vital statistics data.

Also see Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. Register for full access to their materials. The society has a quarterly journal The Newfoundland Ancestor.

A wonderful source for information on Burgeo history and families is the 1925 Diary of Burgeo by Joseph Small. Also valuable for those interested in south coast families is Dr. Litchman’s index of the 1921 census for Burgeo-LaPoile, available in Kindle format at Amazon.


Some of these sites are easier than others to navigate around.  I’ve linked to home pages whenever possible so that you can see what’s there.  I’ve used all these sites, so know it is possible to get around if there’s more information there.  If there’s so much information that you don’t know how to find who you’re looking for, try searching with ‘control’ and ‘f’ keys on PCs or ‘command’ and ‘f’ on Macs and type the name or place in the little search box.  At least within the ‘page’, that will find them.

These links are valid as of now, March 2011. (*Checked & updated March 2016.)  They may change or be removed in future.  They’re not my sites so I apologize in advance if problems develop with them.

Pipelines through Paradise

starfish on fjord shore, Jack DykingaThis past October, there was a documentary by Karin Wells on CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition about a RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) to document and showcase the coastal British Columbia rainforest.  The First Nation community of Hartley Bay, near Prince Rupert, coordinated it.  Hartley Bay and the other aboriginal communities of the area asked photographers from all over the world to come to the northwest coast to capture its essence for the world to see what is valuable about it.

This project was the First Nations’ response to a plan by Enbridge to build the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline.  That would send oil and gas from the tar sands of Alberta to the Pacific coast for shipping to wherever.  The pipeline would end at the seaport at Kitimat.

Northwest coast proposed pipeline map, Northern Gateway siteSo oil and gas would be transported through pipelines across two provinces and then loaded onto supertankers which would navigate through the waters of the northwest coast to the open Pacific. Between Kitimat and open sea there still are plenty of islands, points of land and shallows a ship must navigate safely through.  Many a slip between cup and lip, or oil sands and market.

Northwest Coast Ecosystem

In the summer of 1978, I went to the BC northwest coast to work for the Haisla Tribal Council.  Spearheaded by the band council of aerial view of a pipeline, from Northern Gateway siteKitimaat Village, the Tribal Council member bands were researching their traditional use of lands because of a proposed industrial development.  Yep, that development was a pipeline from northern Alberta carrying oil and gas across the north to the port of Kitimat for transportation to US markets.

men fishing, RAVE photo by Cristina MittermeierAt that time, the tack taken by the Tribal Council was the practical need for the land and rivers to be kept usable for traditional food and resource harvesting.  The heart of this research was the nutritional value of “country foods” compared to store-bought.

The First Nations believed that basing their opposition to the pipeline on demonstrable health and economic value of their traditional way of life would be more effective than only using land rights and cultural arguments.  Aboriginal land rights and the overall importance of safeguarding land as part of preserving the environment and wildlife, maintaining First Nations’ sociocultural integrity, keeping material cultures alive, protecting historical economies are all valid points. But they can sound like so much blah blah blah to industrial developers and a public wanting cheap gasoline.

Country Food Study

Salmon jumping upstream, Florian SchulzA thriving natural environment, they wanted to demonstrate, meant a real and measurable quality of nutrition in First Nations diet.  So the key person in this project was a nutritionist who weighed, measured and calculated nutritional content and values of traditional country foods and compared those to their store-bought equivalents.

She and anthropologist John Pritchard planned the research methodology and analytic framework.  I replaced Dr. Pritchard in the actual community fieldwork when he had to take time off.   Five villages were in the study:  Kitamaat Village, Metlakatla, Fort Simpson, Kitkatla and Hartley Bay. After the data collection, we all convened in Victoria to analyze it.  We had bags of food and lists of the quantities of wild food that people had in their freezers, in canning jars, smoked and dried – salmon, oolichan, game animals and birds, berries, tubers and greens.

Interviews gave us information on how much country food each household ate in a week and how much store-bought food.  We asked householders how much they spent on food bought at local stores or supermarkets in Prince Rupert.  We researched prices of store-bought food and calculated the cost if they had to replace the wild food with what was usually available in the stores.  Also we calculated the cost of store-bought food that had the same nutritional value as country food.

Socio-cultural Value

Bella Coola women drying fish, Cristina MittermeierOf course, we asked people about the social and cultural value of hunting and fishing. What it meant to them to be able to live on a diet familiar to their ancestors.  We asked about the ritual aspects of hunting, fishing, food gathering and preparation. As well, we asked about the material culture parts of those activities.  What equipment was needed, how did they make it, when and how did they learn these parts of their livelihood?

fisherman and halibut, Thomas P. PeschakThe results confirmed what the Tribal Council had thought. The nutritional value of country foods was far superior to that of store-bought meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.  The expense of buying food to replace country food in their diet would be astronomical in these isolated villages.  The quality of diet could not be matched with the income available to people.  And, realistically, it would be impossible to stock such fresh, high-quality food in local stores.

It was a good and important study.  In the end, they didn’t need it. That particular pipeline project died at the developer’s end as oil prices dropped. But the First Nations were happy to have the study. They knew it was only a matter of time before another pipeline was planned. And there has been talk of one over the years since then. And now there’s the Enbridge plan.

More Pipelines

fjords near Bella Coola, Cristina MittermeierI hope the photographs and videos of the Great Bear Rainforest help stop the pipeline plan.  I would hope common sense would prevail and the developers would see the folly of supertankers wending their way through the complex waterways of the northwest coast.  When they’re in Kitamat or Prince Rupert, perhaps, they will look at the mountains and the sea. They will realize this is a fragile beauty that is necessary to keep safe.

The map and pipeline aerial photo are from the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline website.  All others are from the iLCP Collection, Great Bear Rainforest RAVE Media Gallery.  Photos are by Cristina Mittermeier, Florian Schulz, Jack Dykinga and Thomas P. Peschak.