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Mara Pootlass of Nuxalk Nations in Bella Coola sings during an Idle No More protest at the Sails in Kelowna, B.C. (GARY NYLANDER/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Mara Pootlass of Nuxalk Nations in Bella Coola sings during an Idle No More protest at the Sails in Kelowna, B.C. (GARY NYLANDER/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Jan. 10: Natives and government held to account, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Held to account

You report that the chiefs who are meeting with the Prime Minister want to exert their treaty rights (Hopes Fade That Talks With PM Will End Protests – Jan. 9). I’m not sure what exerting them will gain the chiefs when so few promises were made under historic treaties.

For example, the 1905 James Bay Treaty No. 9, which includes Attawapiskat, is essentially a land surrender document. It was intended to open up most of Northern Ontario “for settlement, immigration, trade, travel, mining and lumbering …” The Indians were “to hereby cede, release, surrender and yield up to the government … forever, all their rights titles and privileges whatsoever …” to the land.

In exchange for this, the individuals were paid $8 upon signing “and annually, forever, he [the king] will cause to be paid … in cash … four dollars” to the head of each family. As well, reserves were established at most communities in the treaty area with the additional right “to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered,” excepting land in use for other purposes – as listed above.

One of the few specific commitments provided for in the treaty was for the salaries of teachers and school buildings.

John H. Owen, Dartmouth, N.S.


You correctly note (Please Don’t Shoot The Bean-Counters – editorial, Jan. 9) that the professional practice of internal audit is far from a distraction. It is integral to the success of the organizations.

The modern practice of internal auditing has a much broader focus than checking accounting and financial controls. As a profession, we give insight and independent assurance to governing bodies and management that the organization’s processes are sound and appropriate to manage a variety of risks. In the context of the public sector, internal audit is a strategic instrument by which the interests of taxpayers are safeguarded and accountability for public monies is established.

Sheila Smigarowski, chair, board of directors, Institute of Internal Auditors Canada


If Friday’s meeting follows past practice, politicians (federal and native) will do a lot of talking without a serious commitment to get down to solving the major issues (housing, education, medical). A group should be formed of committed individuals representing natives and the federal and provincial governments to develop solutions to these problems.

The native leadership (are you listening national chief Shawn Atleo?) should be embarrassed by the poor documentation and/or use by some individual reserves of financial resources. Native leadership should form a task force that would establish a code of good financial and management practices, and required standards of care of housing provided to individuals. A central native group should be established to periodically audit reserves to make sure guidelines are being implemented.

It is obvious that the Department of Indian Affairs is a failure. A complete overhaul of this department and its objectives is required.

It is a travesty that so much native talent is not developed. The time for politics is over; it’s time for action. Together, we can do it.

Gary Lewis, Owen Sound, Ont.


Burke’s message

Brian Burke promised Leaf fans he would build “a team with proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.” While Mr. Burke may not have been able to accomplish that on this ice with his players, it looks like the new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment ownership group may have taken his message to heart (Burke Out, Nonis In As Leafs GM – online, Jan. 9).

Murray Pratt, Tsawwassen, B.C.



Re Don Cherry Tweets About The Millions In Canadian Aid To Haiti: ‘Are We Nuts ?’ (online, Jan. 7): Mr. Cherry fumes about the $50-million Canadian taxpayers spent on aid to Haiti last year.

Left unsaid is that the top five players in the NHL earn a combined $60-million plus, and that taxpayers in Edmonton were asked to cough up much more than that for a new arena. Call me nuts, but as a taxpayer, I’d rather support the rebuilding of a society.

Randy Rudolph, Calgary


Absurd ingratitude

The news that insurer AIG is considering joining a lawsuit against the very government that bailed it out serves to reinforce the message of the documentary The Corporation (AIG Considers Suing U.S. Over 2008 Bailout – Report on Business, Jan. 9). One of the film’s essential themes is that corporations, because of their inherent structure, frequently display all the classic characteristics of a psychopath. Absurd ingratitude.

Doug Millington, Charlottetown


Food’s next century

GMOs are about controlling seed, not about feeding the world (Activist Recants, Science Prevails – Jan. 8). An analysis by Ralph Martin, Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production at Guelph University, shows we could feed nine billion with no new productive capacity by addressing underlying issues: postharvest handling and food waste (40 per cent of what is grown, wasted); appropriate protein sources and calorie intake; emancipation of women; and geo-political will to distribute food equitably, apply appropriate technology and share responsibility for climate-change-induced hunger. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization itself states that agro-ecology, not “biotechnology,” is the way to meet the demands of the next 100 years.

Indian farmers saw cotton prices increase 8,000 per cent since Bt cotton was introduced. We’ve also seen thousands of farmer suicides in India’s cotton belt as a result of being crushed by debt created through the GMO seed-chemical-dependence cycle, and failed promises of yield and quality.

GMOs are not about helping poor farmers or feeding the world: If we can do no more to educate ourselves on real issues of control and ownership at stake with this “technology,” let’s at least stop repeating this myth.

Jodi Koberinski, Organic Council of Ontario


A thought …

In the matter of delaying brain degeneration, I’d suggest neuroscientists also study the benefits of tap dancing (The Case For Bilingualism – Jan. 9). Not only does it promote “synaptic stamina” – remembering routines and involving both sides of the body – it has the bonus of strengthening bones and balance.

Like bilingualism, you can practise tap dancing anywhere. Just watch me shuffle and flap my way around the grocery store or perfect my time steps while waiting in line at the memory clinic.

Barb Sullivan, Burlington, Ont.

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