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June 3: Manitoba leaders react to the MMIWG inquiry’s final report, CTV News
Meantime Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., which represents a group of First Nations from northern Manitoba, responded to the release of the report by acknowledging families, survivors and members of the Two Spirit community impacted by the issue, as well as the spirits of those who went missing or were murdered. “First Nation, Inuit, and Metis women, girls, and Two Spirit individuals should be given every opportunity to thrive and grow in environments that are healthy and safe,” said Settee, saying their lives matter and MKO stands with advocates working toward positive change. MKO will hold community events in Thompson, Man., and in Winnipeg on June 10 and 11 for those who have been impacted by MMIQG “or who want to help move the recommendations forward.”
Anderson-Pyrz, who also works as manager of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls liaison unit for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, would like to see an Indigenous police force, which is one of the recommendations in the final report. “I’m not entirely satisfied in the Winnipeg Police’s handling of cases, there’s still some challenges and barriers there, but they are trying to do better,” she said. When it comes to training, 80 per cent of the service has been trained on Indigenous issues, said Smyth. The Winnipeg Police Service is aiming to hire more Indigenous officers and continue working with groups in the community to foster a better relationship, he said.
June 3: ‘We also need Canadians to acknowledge it’: Manitoba leaders respond to MMIWG report, Global News
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) – an advocacy group representing northern First Nations – released a similar statement Monday. “First Nation, Inuit, and Metis women, girls, and Two Spirit individuals should be given every opportunity to thrive and grow in environments that are healthy and safe. For decades, First Nations women, girls, and Two Spirit people have been powerful in their work towards making positive changes. “MKO will continue to stand with these advocates and will work with institutions to ensure the voices of Indigenous women and girls will continue to be heard.”
June 3: Indigenous leaders applaud MMIWG report, say it can’t ‘gather dust’, Canada.com
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee said the lives of Indigenous women girls and two-spirit people matter. “First Nation, Inuit, and Metis women, girls, and Two-Spirit individuals should be given every opportunity to thrive and grow in environments that are healthy and safe,” Settee said. “For decades, First Nations women, girls, and Two-Spirit people have been powerful in their work towards making positive changes. MKO will continue to stand with these advocates and will work with institutions to ensure the voices of Indigenous women and girls will continue to be heard.”
June 10: MKO Welcomes MMIWG Commissioner Audet to Manitoba, Net Newsledger
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is welcoming Michèle Audette, Commissioner with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), to Manitoba.
Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, manager of a Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak unit that supports families affected by MMIWG, welcomed the idea of a provincial task force. “Especially families in Northern Manitoba, when their loved one goes missing in the south, it’s very difficult,” she said. Part of Anderson-Pyrz’s work involves helping families navigate law enforcement to ensure photos of their loved ones get out to the public. Families do not always know which police agency to call if a relative goes missing far from home. “Those jurisdictional boundaries sometimes can make things difficult and slow the process of finding somebody who is missing,”
June 14: MLA Report, Thompson Citizen
I also want to thank Hilda Anderson-Pyrz and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak for hosting a public forum in Thompson this week to share the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This was an opportunity for affected family members and survivors to engage with inquiry commissioner Michelle Audette to determine how to implement the recommendations to ensure the safety of our society’s most vulnerable. I hope forums like this bring some comfort to families as we all work together to break the cycle of disconnectedness passed from one generation to another.
June 18: First Nations, province monitoring Thompson dam inspections, Winnipeg Free Press
Provincial and First Nations officials say they’re closely watching as Vale inspects the Thompson dams it has flagged for stability issues. “We know the company is working to protect the safety of citizens, our land, and our waterways,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern reserves, wrote in a press release. MKO did not specify how it’s working with Vale, but said it has a “partnership” to help ensure the dams around Thompson are safe. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on documents Vale issued to its shareholders, indicating at least one dam in Manitoba was not up to safety standards.
June 20: Manitobans will elect next provincial government Sept. 10, Thompson Citizen
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee said progress has been made over the last three years but that First Nations people need to reflect on whether the province has done enough to improve their quality of life. “I want to encourage First Nations people to get involved in this election, either by running as a candidate, volunteering to campaign for a candidate you support, or simply by getting out to the polling stations on Sept. 10 and casting a ballot,” said Settee in a news release. “Exercise your voice and get involved in this democratic election process here in Manitoba.”
June 20: UCN graduates honoured at first powwow in Wapanohk’s new arbour, Thompson Citizen
“We can do anything as Indigenous people,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “We can get university degrees, we can get lawyers degrees, we can get doctor degrees, we can get teaching degrees because of who we are, our heart, our soul. It’s because we are a people of strength and power. Congratulations graduating class of 2019. You made us proud.”
To Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, these little displays are what makes National Indigenous Peoples Day so special, since it wasn’t long ago that there was a concerted effort to remove their culture from Canadian life. “For years and years they tried to eradicate our people … they tried to take away our languages, our songs and culture,” he said. “But today, in 2019, we are still here and we will always be here. We are not going anywhere.”
The layoffs and privatization of the service have also drawn fire from northern Manitoba First Nations. Garrison Settee, the grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, called the move “unacceptable” and “unsafe.” He worries that after the grounding of the province’s two Citation jets, a private service may use planes that won’t work in remote airstrips. “Private jets may be unable to land and safely take off from many of our First Nations — which means our citizens may be unable to access life-saving health services during times of medical distress,” Settee said in a statement. Read more:
During the ceremony’s Indigenous message, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said that these young people will also be tasked with making a series of important choices that will define the rest of their lives. “But one choice that you must make: choose not to be ordinary,” he said. “Choose to be extraordinary. Choose to be change makers. Choose to be game changers, because we need you. The future needs you.”
June 28: MLA Report, Thompson Citizen
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak hosted National Indigenous Peoples Day in Thompson last weekend celebrating thousands of years of local culture with elders, chiefs, band councillors, dignitaries and northerners. Thanks to MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, their organizations and others like them. Manitoba’s Indigenous culture is being preserved and promoted for everyone to celebrate and be proud of. This province can only succeed if Indigenous people can learn their history, live their culture, express themselves freely and are given the same opportunities to reach their potential as everyone else.
Two weeks ago, northern chiefs passed two resolutions. One asked Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak to reach out to Canada Post, and the second was a protest against the provincial government kicking band officers out of airports.
With the provincial election being less than a week away, and a federal election following about six weeks behind it, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) is looking to increase Indigenous voter turnout in the north. In a Aug. 29 press release, the political advocacy group that represents 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations revealed that they created a new “Rock the Vote” section of their website, where any one of its 72,000 members can access information about polling stations, election dates and the documentation you need to cast your ballot.
Daniels’ sentiments were echoed in a statement from the grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations. “For far too long, Canada has failed to act in the best interests of First Nations children and families,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “I hope the federal government will comply with this ruling. Our children deserve respect.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee urged members of the 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations that make up MKO to remind children that they are valued and loved on World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10. “Often it takes just one person to make a positive difference in the life of a child or youth – you can be the person to give hope and share strength with a young person who is struggling,” said Settee in an emailed statement.
All three candidates running in the riding of Keewatinook — where more than 90 per cent of the population identifies as First Nations, Métis or Inuit — were members of First Nations. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak kicked off a “get out the vote” drive in late August. The political advocacy group, which represents 21 First Nations in Manitoba, encouraged Indigenous people to mark a ballot in both Tuesday’s provincial election and the upcoming federal election.
Issues such as improved health care, housing and access to clean drinking water were central to Indigenous voters in 2015. These days, those concerns are still top of mind, according to Grand Chief Garrison Settee of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. “As we approach the next federal election those issues are still paramount to Indigenous people,” Settee told CTV News.
“We need to work together to address racism that continues to negatively impact First Nations people,” added Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “We can do this through increasing education opportunities that will grow the number of First Nations health care providers, develop and implement mandatory cultural safety training for all health care staff, and develop improved human resource policies that allow for safe reporting of racist incidents across all health care systems.”
Residents of Thompson will have the opportunity to ask four of the candidates seeking to be the next Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP questions at University College of the North tonight at 7 p.m. during a town hall forum organized by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).
Shamattawa First Nation Chief Eric Redhead said this loss is devastating to the entire community. “Our children are sacred and the loss of this young boy is impacting everyone in our community. We are all experiencing shock and devastation. We are still trying to process the loss of this precious little life,” said Chief Redhead in a statement issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO).
A northern Manitoba First Nation remains in “shock and devastation” as they mourn the sudden death of a child in their community, Chief Eric Redhead said in a statement Sunday evening. A two-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle driven by a community member on Friday. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. — a political organization representing First Nations in Treaties 4, 5, 6 and 10 — issued the statement Sunday evening on behalf of the First Nation.
Shamattawa First Nation Chief Eric Redhead said that the death was devastating in a statement issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). “This is an unfortunate accident,” said Redhead. “Our children are sacred and the loss of this young boy is impacting everyone in our community. We are all experiencing shock and devastation. We are still trying to process the loss of this precious little life.” MKO’s Mobile Crisis Response Team and other resources are being deployed to Shamattawa to help the community cope with the tragedy.
“Why is there no support for the children left behind? I just don’t know why no one from the shelter or police didn’t go with her.” It’s those questions and more researchers at 14 Canadian universities, along with numerous organizations across the country — including Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata — are hoping to answer during the next year. Researchers are looking for people with experiences that occurred between 2006 and 2016, as well as being from one of four groups that experience the most violence: Indigenous people; immigrants and/or refugees; people living in rural, remote and/or northern communities; and children exposed to domestic violence or parents of children killed as part of domestic violence. Anyone whose case is still before the courts is excluded from the study. For more information on participating in the project, contact [email protected] or call 204-474-7410 or 1-844-958-0522.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an organization representing northern Manitoba First Nations, has been helping the family. Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, manager of MKO’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girl’s liason liaison Unit, says the death of any Indigenous woman is felt across Turtle Island. “When we experience a loss we mourn as a nation. Every nation is impacted when we hear that one of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, cousins, friends has died as a result of homicide or has gone missing in an urban area,” she said. Vulnerable women are being targeted, Anderson-Pyrz told reporters. She is calling on all levels of government to implement the National Inquiry’s calls for justice.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who was out of town Wednesday, released a statement prior to the media availability calling on provincial and federal leaders to take seriously the 231 recommendations, dubbed the calls for justice, from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). “Norma’s life was sacred” he said. “I call on the federal and provincial governments to take action (on the 231 calls). Our hearts are heavy from so many losses. We cannot wait for election promises. We need action now. The lives of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people matter.”
The family met with reporters on Wednesday at the downtown Winnipeg offices of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy group that represents dozens of northern Manitoba First Nations and more than 72,000 First Nations people.
“Norma’s life was sacred. She was a mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, auntie, cousin, and friend,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a release. “Norma is lovingly remembered for her kindness and gentleness. The death of this young Indigenous woman has impacted her family and community. Norma Andrews did not deserve to die in such a tragic way.
“Our hearts are broken,” said Norma’s father Larry Andrews in a Sept. 25 press release distributed by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimanakak (MKO), which represents Manto Sipi Cree Nation and 25 other Northern Manitoba First Nations. “This is a very difficult time for us. It is very hard to describe what I am feeling. I never imagined something like this would ever happen to us.”
Manitoba Employment and Income Assistance and Manitoba Housing are working with people to find alternative housing or funding if they apply, said Kacper Antoszewski, a communications officer with the city. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is offering rides to those whose family supports are outside the city.
A complex used by community members of all ages has been destroyed by fire in Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation. Band manager Cheryl McGillivary said the fire broke out at around 1 p.m. Thursday. She said it doesn’t appear like any part of the complex can be salvaged. “It was a huge loss, and it’s quite traumatizing,” she said, adding that they’ve arranged for mobile crisis teams to come to the community through Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) sent out a media release Monday afternoon, responding to the launch of the pilot project. “The City of Winnipeg asserts that fare disputes are a main source of conflict in Winnipeg taxis, however, the reports we have heard from First Nations citizens sound the alarm over the conduct of taxi drivers as a main source of conflict,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in the release.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a press release that the residential school system, which forcibly removed Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children from their homes to attend schools far away for more than a century in an attempt to assimilate them, had far-reaching effects that still linger more than 20 years after the last of the schools was closed.
“We have no answers from anybody,” said Cara Gulick, who has children aged six and 12 and has been sleeping at a friend’s house while her children stay with family since the fire. “No one is helping us. We just want answers when can we get our things. Insurance didn’t help me because I could stay with friends. My band couldn’t help me because they’re from the south and the only thing that MKO [Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak] would help me with was offering me therapy sessions.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents 26 First Nations, made clear its concerns on the day of the launch. “The City of Winnipeg asserts that fare disputes are a main source of conflict in Winnipeg taxis, however, the reports we have heard from First Nations citizens sound the alarm over the conduct of taxi drivers as a main source of conflict,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a press release. Settee applauded the city’s initiative to reduce disputes but reiterated all passengers should feel safe and not be subject to threatening behaviour. He called for the city to develop a “clear system” for reporting concerns about taxi drivers. As well, Settee urged Indigenous passengers to share any safety concerns with MKO.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) is hosting a free feast and candlelight vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people at Riverlodge Place in Thompson beginning at 5:30 p.m. “Oct. 4 is a very important day,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a press release. “It is a day that we honour the spirits of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit, and gender diverse people. I’m thankful that MKO is able to host this gathering to support families and loved ones on their healing journey. I want to assure family members and loved ones that I will do my utmost to pressure government leaders and policy makers to implement the 231 Calls for Justice that were released in June by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. As the grand chief of MKO I have the political will to create mechanisms for Indigenous women and girls and Two Spirit and gender diverse people to reclaim their power and place.”
“I am happy to hear that an arrest has been made,” said Norma`s father Larry Andrews, in a statement issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO). “I am hopeful that justice will be served. I hope that the perpetrator of this violent crime against my daughter doesn’t just receive a slap on the wrist. Norma deserves justice. This is a very difficult time and I am asking the media to continue to respect our privacy.” Both Carver and MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee noted that the arrest was announced on the same day as the Provincial Day of Awareness and National Day of Remembrance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“I am happy to hear that an arrest has been made,” said Larry Andrews, Norma’s father, in a statement issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO). “I am hopeful that justice will be served. I hope that the perpetrator of this violent crime against my daughter doesn’t just receive a slap on the wrist. Norma deserves justice. This is a very difficult time and I am asking the media to continue to respect our privacy.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said the monument was significant, both as a commemoration of past mistakes and as a signpost towards a brighter future. “This story is not a very pleasant story for our people,” he said. “It’s a very dark chapter in our history. Today we honour the survivors of the residential school system and those that did not survive, that died in the residential school system. Some are buried in the back of the churches, in the back of the residential schools, in unmarked graves. There’s no monument for them. This is their monument. This is their time to be remembered.”
In Thompson, Man., a number of young women came together to take part in an event celebrating the day organized by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, the manager of the advocacy organization’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls unit, said the event was an important way of bringing together girls living in the north, who are often especially vulnerable.
October 11: Fabulous fall feast, Thompson Citizen
Thompsonites turned out in droves for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak’s (MKO) second free fall feast at the Thompson Regional Community Centre Oct. 10, featuring food, music and entertainment. “This is our way of reaching out to everyone to come together in one place, one space, so that we can join together in the spirit of brotherhood and also in the spirt of family and also in the spirit of unity,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee prior to the meal being served. “We just want you today to have fun, enjoy our fine food and also some entertainment. I’m honoured that you decided to join us.”
In terms of health supports on site, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has provided nurses, and there are pharmacy supports so evacuees can access their prescription medication. In addition, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak’s mobile crisis response unit is on site for psycho-social supports.
In Manitoba, at least two Indigenous organizations have taken up the challenge. “The process is simple and is your right,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, whose organization’s website and Facebook page are full of election information. “Your vote matters.”
Hilda Anderson-Pryz of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, who advocates on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families, said the words of the politicians need to be backed up by action. “This has been happening for decades,” she said. “We need to change that. We need to bond together regardless of our race or where we came from. Bobby was vulnerable, she needed supports. There were many systems that failed Bobbie. If those systems had been there for her we don’t know what would be happening today. We need to come together to ensure we lobby for those supports that Bobbie needed. If we don’t do that we’re going to continue having statistics, our statistics are going to keep climbing. When one of sisters falls, we all fall.”
“We are very concerned about the well-being of the elders, the dialysis patients, the sick, and the very young people in Pimicikamak and Cross Lake,” said Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias in a press release sent out by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday. “We are acting in the best interests of our vulnerable citizens. While we do hope that hydro will be restored later today, we need to take necessary precautions to protect the lives of our community members by evacuating them out of the community as soon as possible.”
The provincial government and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) are encouraging Manitobans to get the flu shot, which is free for all Manitobans aged six months and older. “I encourage all Manitobans to get the flu vaccine, but especially those at increased risk of serious illness from the flu, their caregivers, and close family and friends,” said Health Minister Cameron Friesen, who received his vaccination Oct. 24 at Grant Park Shoppers Drug Mart, in a press release. “The flu vaccine protects you and helps to protect those around you including infants, people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or asthma, and those seeking treatment for cancer. It’s about them, too.”
Indigenous people living in northern Manitoba are being encouraged by community leaders to get the flu shot. Monday morning MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee and Elder Joshua Morris received their seasonal immunizations. They are asking others to do the same. “Getting the flu vaccine is very important especially if you or the people around you are at an increased risk of serious illness,” said Settee.
MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee is encouraging all northern residents to get their flu shots as soon as possible.
Shamattawa, the remote First Nation in Northern Manitoba relies on Perimeter to get their members to both Winnipeg and Thompson.
A study — spearheaded by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), and the Rural Development Institute at Brandon University and funded by federal and provincial governments — released at the beginning of this year showed how the Indigenous economy in Manitoba accounts for more than $9 billion in provincial GDP.