MKO Media Coverage

Looking for our MKO media releases? You can find them here.

This page provides links to stories about/related to MKO for 2019 and 2020 (keep scrolling) below.

June 2019 

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.”

June 3: Families, Indigenous leaders hope MMIWG inquiry’s recommendations won’t ‘sit on a shelf’, CBC

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.

June 14: Winnipeg chief says police can do a better job finding missing people, CBC

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.”

June 24: Thompson recognizes 10-year anniversary of Aboriginal Accord during National Indigenous Peoples Day, Thompson Citizen

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.”

June 26: Lifeflight staff laid off as province continues privatization of Manitoba air ambulance service, CBC

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:

June 27: ‘Choose not to be ordinary’, Thompson Citizen

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.

July 2019

July 2: ‘There’s a lot of hope for justice’: Christine Wood’s killer faces sentencing, CBC News

“There’s a lot of hope for justice, that the perpetrator will receive the maximum sentence,” said Hilda Anderson-Pyrz. “At the same time, they’re looking forward to their healing journey.” Anderson-Pyrz is the manager of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls liaison unit for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). She assisted Christine’s parents, George and Melinda Wood, through the trial.

July 2: Winnipeg man who killed woman, dumped body won’t get parole chance for 15 years, The Vancouver Sun

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations, said Wood’s legacy should be honoured by implementing the calls to justice from the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who works with families of missing or murdered relatives form northern Manitoba First Nations, added that there needs to be more supports for Indigenous people coming to the city. Many have not experienced life outside of their communities and can be vulnerable. “We need to remember we cannot stop working to improve the safety of our young Indigenous women and girls,” she said. “We need to work together to protect them.”

July 2: Winnipeg man who killed woman, dumped body won’t get parole chance for 15 years, APTN National News

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations, said Wood’s legacy should be honoured by implementing the calls to justice from the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who works with families of missing or murdered relatives form northern Manitoba First Nations, added that there needs to be more supports for Indigenous people coming to the city. Many have not experienced life outside of their communities and can be vulnerable.

July 3: Life sentence, no parole for at least 15 years for 2016 murder of Oxford House woman, Thompson Citizen

“No sentence will ever be enough to compensate for the horrific loss of this intelligent, young First Nations woman,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a statement on the organization’s website. “I want to once again express and extend my deepest condolences to the Wood family on the loss of their daughter. I hope this sentence brings some closure and I pray the family can find some healing in their ongoing journey of grieving their daughter. We need to work to honour the memory of Christine Wood. Let us remember what she went through and how hard her family worked to find her as they searched for answers. Let us continue to work together in implementing the Calls to Justice from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into MMIWG. I urge all leaders and Manitoba residents to do what they can to create a safer province for our Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit people. We are all part of the solution, let’s work together collectively.”

July 5: Manitoba has second highest rate of violence against women and girls in northern Canada, Global News

Northern Manitoba had the second highest rate of all regions with 9,025 victims reported per 100,000 person that year. The numbers don’t surprise Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak’s (MKO) Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who has spent decades raising awareness about the issues facing Indigenous women in the north.

July 24: Car found burned in Gillam area used by suspects in B.C. deaths: RCMP, CTV News

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a news release that Fox Lake residents should remain vigilant and to consider the suspects as dangerous. “If you think you see these suspects, please consider them as dangerous. Do not approach them. Contact the RCMP or call 911 immediately,” he said.

July 24: Manhunt for Homicide Suspect Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky Continues, NetNewsLedger

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is encouraging residents in Northern Manitoba to be aware that the RCMP are searching for two men suspected of carrying out three homicides in Northern British Columbia. Yesterday evening the RCMP shared that they have reasons to believe that Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky may be in the Fox Lake/Gillam area in Northern Manitoba.

July 24: RCMP focus on Gillam area in manhunt for B.C. murder suspects

Fox Lake Cree Nation Chief Walter Spence issued a statement Tuesday night, warning residents to be on guard, followed by a release from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., instructing area residents to be vigilant.

July 24: SUV stolen by suspects in B.C. deaths found torched in Manitoba, Coast Mountain News

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., who represent First Nations in northern Manitoba, are also warning community members to be careful. “I encourage residents in the area of Fox Lake to remain vigilant while the RCMP conduct their search for these two suspects,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a statement. “If you think you see these suspects, please consider them as dangerous. Do not approach them. Contact the RCMP or call 911 immediately.”

July 24: SUV stolen by suspects in B.C. deaths found torched in Manitoba, Coast Mountain News, Cowichan Valley Citizen

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., who represent First Nations in northern Manitoba, are also warning community members to be careful. “I encourage residents in the area of Fox Lake to remain vigilant while the RCMP conduct their search for these two suspects,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a statement. “If you think you see these suspects, please consider them as dangerous. Do not approach them. Contact the RCMP or call 911 immediately.”

July 25: Northern Manitoba First Nation partially evacuated due to wildfire, Global News

The Canadian Red Cross has relocated about 150 people from Marcel Colomb First Nation, after their community was threatened by wildfire. On Wednesday the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) said “several wildfires” were affecting the community, which is located about 800 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

July 25: Plan to move artifacts to Ottawa panned: ‘It’s unlikely they will ever be accessible to people in Manitoba again’: Oxford researcher, Winnipeg Free Press

Since then, officials at the Manitoba Museum have raised their concerns about the plan with federal officials. They are especially worried about collections that document the Red River Colony. Groups like the Manitoba Metis Federation and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak have also been discussing the move.

July 26: RCMP ‘exploring possibility’ that B.C. homicide suspects may have left the Gillam area, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy organization that represents about two dozen First Nations in Northern Manitoba, says the current situation shows the First Nations need funding to be able to provide their own policing services. “Our thoughts are with the citizens of Fox Lake Cree Nation this week,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a July 26 press release. “We are praying for the safety of our northern residents while this search is underway, and we hope there is a safe outcome for the people living in the community as well as the personnel carrying out the search. We commend Fox Lake citizens, such as Billy Beardy, who are taking it upon themselves to carry out safety patrols for their communities. While we appreciate the support of the RCMP during this time, it’s important to remind both the federal and provincial governments that the safety of our citizens is an ongoing concern for us. We urge governments to engage with MKO to explore avenues for proper policing services for MKO First Nations so our communities are better able to take leadership when it comes to emergencies in our communities.”

July 27: Military aircraft assisting search around Gillam for B.C. homicide suspects, Bear Clan Patrol members coming to First Nations in the area to provide security for residents, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy organization that represents about two dozen First Nations in Northern Manitoba, says the current situation shows the First Nations need funding to be able to provide their own policing services. “While we appreciate the support of the RCMP during this time, it’s important to remind both the federal and provincial governments that the safety of our citizens is an ongoing concern for us,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a July 26 press release. “We urge governments to engage with MKO to explore avenues for proper policing services for MKO First Nations so our communities are better able to take leadership when it comes to emergencies in our communities.”

July 27: Missing woman found Friday: MKO, CBC News

A young woman who was reported missing June 20 has been safely located, a Manitoba First Nations political group says. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. issued a tweet Friday night thanking everyone who helped find Natalia Zeemel, 21. Winnipeg police have confirmed the young women has been found.

July 28: RCMP investigating possible sighting of B.C. homicide suspects in York Landing, Man., CTV News

As the search continues in the area, Chief Leroy Constant and Manitoba Keewatinoki Okimanak Inc. MKO is urging residents to park their vehicles, remain inside, and lock their doors. “This is a fluid situation. Everyone wants this to end today in a safe and controlled manner. Our prayers are with the residents of York Factory,” stated MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee. Officials are asking residents to share this message with anyone who does not have social media and may be unaware of the situation. “We encourage people living in the York Factory area to remain vigilant while the RCMP conducts their search for these two suspects,” stated MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee.

July 29: RCMP still searching for murder suspects more than 12 hours after tip of sighting in York Landing, Thompson Citizen

“This is a fluid situation. Everyone wants this to end today in a safe and controlled manner. Our prayers are with the residents of York Factory,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garison Settee in an emailed press release around 8:20 p.m. July 28. “We encourage people living in the York Factory area to remain vigilant while the RCMP conduct their search for these two suspects If you think you see these suspects, please consider them as dangerous. Do not approach them. Contact the RCMP immediately.”

July 29: Manhunt Update: Fox Creek Chief Issues Statement, NetNewsLedger

On behalf of Chief and Council, and the community of Fox Lake Cree Nation, I want to acknowledge the good communication and support that we have received from the RCMP, as well as the outreach and support from our partners at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), the Keewatin Tribal Council, and the added support and presence of the Bear Clan Patrol to help with community safety.

July 29: Residents of York Landing warned to stay indoors as RCMP search for fugitives, APTN National News

“This is a fluid situation,” Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, added in a statement. “Everyone wants this to end today in a safe and controlled manner. Our prayers are with the residents of York Factory.”

July 31: Northern First Nations will need trauma support after hunt for B.C. pair ends, chiefs say, CBC News

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an advocacy group that represents 30 First Nations in northern Manitoba, said the impact of having such a large police and military presence on such a tightly knit community will likely include lasting psychological effects. “It was quite intense for the people there,” he said. “Most definitely, a community of that size was traumatized.” Settee said he spoke with York Landing leaders about the need for healing, which is why, he says, MKO’s mobile crisis response team will soon be made available.  The MKO team consists of support workers who are flown into remote First Nations, typically when there has been a family tragedy or suicide crisis, Settee said. Team workers specialize in critical incident stress debriefing, sharing circles, one-on-one counselling and mental health therapy, among other services.

August 2019

August 4: Closed doors raise questions for Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Winnipeg Free Press

This doesn’t happen when the AMC assembly — arguably the only real opportunity the public has to see the work chiefs do in Manitoba — closes its doors to media. When debate is closed and access denied, tactics can be perceived to taint organizations and decisions. Which leads to one last issue coming up time and again about the AMC: the increasing role of a former leader of the Manitoba Liberal party at each level of First Nations leadership. During the 2017 election for grand chief at the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (which I chaired), former Grit leader Rana Bokhari and other provincial Liberals were openly lobbying for eventual winner Jerry Daniels. Bokhari was the campaign chairwoman for Dumas during his election as the AMC grand chief in 2017. Bokhari was also a lead campaigner for Garrison Settee in 2018, when he was elected grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, the northern organization.

August 7: Search for B.C. murder suspects comes to a close after two bodies discovered near Gillam, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee also commended the tireless efforts of volunteer community patrol teams like the Bear Clan and offered his support to northern residents who are still reeling from this experience. “Today’s news is a first step in helping Northern First Nations to feel a renewed sense of safety,” he said in an Aug. 7 press release. “It may take some time for people to recover from the trauma caused by this lengthy manhunt. MKO will continue to support our Northern First Nations with the healing work that needs to be done in the weeks and months to come.”

August 7: Canada police find two bodies believed to be teen fugitives, Saskatoon Star Phoenix

John McDonald, deputy mayor of Gillam, said the town was relieved the search was over, and leaders of the Cree indigenous communities in York Landing and Fox Lake requested trauma counseling for their members. “It may take some time for people to recover from the trauma caused by this lengthy manhunt,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, leader of an indigenous advocacy group in Manitoba.

August 8: ‘It’s going to take awhile:’ Manitoba town still on edge, searching for answers, The Ottawa Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who represents northern First Nations, said anxiety levels were high for many in the community. People who often spend much of their time on the land were staying inside out of fear, he said. Community members with knowledge of the area also helped RCMP search, he added. Fox Lake Cree Nation, located near the burned-out vehicle, began its own community patrol. “From where I was on the ground, there was a concerted effort that everybody worked together, they helped each other,” Settee said in Winnipeg. It will take time for life to return to normal, the grand chief added, but the people in the area are strong and resilient. “For our Indigenous culture, the land is our way of healing ourselves,” Settee said. “Now they can go back to the land and they can go back to that and that will bring the healing for their minds and their spirits.”

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August 11: Canadian Teen Fugitives Suspected of Murder Found Dead, The Hilltop Monitor

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee also commended the tireless efforts of volunteer community patrol teams like the Bear Clan and offered his support to northern residents who are still reeling from this experience.

August 12: Discovery of bodies police believe to be B.C. fugitives allows Fox Lake, Gillam communities to exhale again, The Globe and Mail

Sharing circles are being planned in Bird to bring residents together to express their feelings – as they had in the makeshift community centre. Crisis workers from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak remain in the community. At some point, a ceremony will be held where the human remains and vehicle were found, Fox Lake Chief Walter Spence said at a community meeting in Gillam.

August 15: Restoring Inherent Jurisdiction: Advocating for Northern First Nations at MKO’s 38th Annual General Assembly

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) has wrapped up its 38th Annual General Assembly today in Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba. The Assembly is an opportunity for leaders from 26 First Nations to come together to work on issues of concern to Northern communities.

August 27: Building boom beginning in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Thompson Citizen

NCN invited several guests to take part in this celebration, including Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook, Thompson Progressive Conservative candidate Kelly Bindle, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee and several representatives from Indigenous Services Canada, who provided the funding for all three projects.

August 29: God’s Lake First Nation calls state of emergency over suicide crisis, CBC News

The statement, issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an organization that represents northern First Nations, said the community has been in the grips of a meth crisis, along with addictions to alcohol and other drugs. It said the First Nation, located about 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, has been hit by four suicides, as well as 22 other attempts over the summer.

August 29: God’s Lake First Nation activates state of emergency amid suicide crisis, CTV News

God’s Lake First Nation has activated a state of emergency as it deals with an ongoing suicide crisis as well as issues with meth, drug and alcohol addictions. In a news release from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Thursday, God’s Lake Chief Gilbert Andrews said: “There have been four young people who have taken their own lives this summer. This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately.”

August 29: Advocacy Organization Encourages Indigenous People to Vote, Chris D

The advocacy organization, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., (MKO) is encouraging Indigenous people to vote in both fall elections. “I want to remind First Nations citizen that we live in a democratic society,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “I encourage First Nations people to get involved in both elections.” The Manitoba is gearing up for two elections, the provincial election on September 10, 2019, and the federal on October 21, 2019.

August 30: God’s Lake First Nation declares state of emergency amid suicide crisis, APTN National News

A remote Manitoba First Nation has activated a state of emergency as it deals with an ongoing suicide crisis. “We have been dealing with an ongoing crisis in our community every day this summer,” God’s Lake Chief Gilbert Andrews said in a statement issued through Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) late Thursday.

August 30: First Nation declares state of emergency following several suicides, CHVN Radio

“MKO (Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak) is deeply concerned about this crisis and is working closely with God’s Lake at this time,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “We have called on officials with the Government of Canada to ensure the community receives proper resources such as qualified therapists. MKO is also sending our Mobile Crisis Response Team to the community today.” “We are planning a community meeting next week to discuss the issue and to work on a plan of action on how we can work together to alleviate these concerns,” Chief Andrews says. “We look forward to receiving expert assistance from our partners. We must develop a comprehensive plan in partnership with the federal government, otherwise, this crisis will continue, and we will continue to experience tragedy and trauma.”

August 30: Four deaths by suicide, 22 attempts an ‘ongoing crisis’ in God’s Lake First Nation, Thompson Citizen

Four deaths by suicide and 22 attempts by youth this summer have prompted God’s Lake First Nation Chief Gilbert Andrews to declare a state of emergency. “We have been dealing with an ongoing crisis in our community every day this summer,” said Andrews in an Aug. 29 press release sent out by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy group that represents about 30 Northern Manitoba First Nations. “There have been four young people who have taken their own lives this summer. This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately.”

August 30: Northern Manitoba First Nation seeks help after suicides this summer, Ottawa Citizen

“This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately,” Andrews said in the release sent out by plan Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. “We must develop a comprehensive plan in partnership with the federal government. Otherwise this crisis will continue, and we will continue to experience tragedy and trauma.” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee says the group is working closely with band leadership. “MKO is deeply concerned about this crisis,” Settee said.

August 30: Manitoba First Nation confronts suicide crisis after four deaths, 22 attempts, Times Colonist

An advocacy group for Manitoba bands has called on the federal government for help. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak has also sent its crisis response team to the community. God’s Lake is located about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

August 30: Manitoba First Nation declares state of emergency over suicide crisis, The Globe and Mail

A northern Manitoba First Nation is raising the alarm about a spate of suicides in the community this summer. Leaders from God’s Lake First Nation say four young people have taken their own lives and there have been 22 suicide attempts.

August 30: Northern Manitoba First Nation seeks help after suicides this summer, City TV Toronto

“This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately,” Andrews said in the release sent out by plan Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. “We must develop a comprehensive plan in partnership with the federal government. Otherwise this crisis will continue, and we will continue to experience tragedy and trauma.”

August 30: God’s Lake First Nation declares state of emergency after string of suicides, Global News

The MKO, which represents God’s Lake, said they are deeply concerned. “We have called on officials with the Government of Canada to ensure the community receives proper resources such as qualified therapists,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said.

August 30: Northern Manitoba First Nation seeks help after suicides this summer, Toronto Star

Leaders from God’s Lake First Nation say four young people have taken their own lives and there have been 22 suicide attempts. In a news release from group representing northern Manitoba First Nations, God’s Lake Chief Gilbert Andrews calls the situation a crisis and says the reserve needs help. A state of emergency has been declared. God’s Lake First Nation is a fly-in community about 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg with a population of about 1,300. Andrews says community meetings are planned for next week to discuss the issue and work on a plan. “This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately,” Andrews said in the release sent out by plan Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

August 30: Manitoba First Nation confronts suicide crisis after four deaths, 22 attempts, The Red Deer Advocate

An advocacy group for Manitoba bands has called on the federal government for help. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak has also sent its crisis response team to the community. God’s Lake is located about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

September 2019

September 3: Northern chiefs fight to search mail, luggage for drugs, Winnipeg Free Press

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.

September 4: MKO encouraging Indigenous people to get out and vote with awareness campaign, Thompson Citizen

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.

September 6: Honour human rights tribunal ruling on compensation for Indigenous kids in care, Manitoba leaders tell feds, CBC News

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.”

September 10: Grand chief urges MKO citizens to take care of their mental health on World Suicide Prevention Day, Thompson Citizen

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.

September 10: Trio of black MLAs make history by winning seats in Manitoba Legislature, CBC

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.

September 13: Indigenous voters broke records in the 2015 election. Will they do it again?, CTV News

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.

September 17: Health gap between First Nations and other Manitobans growing: research study, Winnipeg Sun

“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.”

September 19: Conservative, Green, Liberal, NDP federal election candidates attending Thompson town hall Sept. 19, Thompson Citizen

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).

September 22: Two-year-old boy dies after being hit by vehicle in northern Manitoba, CTV News

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).

September 22: ‘Precious little life’: Shamattawa mourning death of child struck by vehicle, chief says, CBC News

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.

September 23: Toddler struck by a vehicle and killed in Shamattawa, Thompson Citizen

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.

September 25: National study seeks domestic-violence survivors, Winnipeg Free Press

“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.

September 25: Family calls for changes after young woman dies in Winnipeg rooming house, APTN National News

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.

September 25: Family says homicide victim tried to get help, Winnipeg Free Press

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.”

September 25: ‘She was scared’: Family of homicide victim Norma Andrews says social system failed her, CBC News

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.

September 25: Family, community members call for action in wake of Winnipeg’s latest murder, Winnipeg Sun

“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.

September 26: 28-year-old Manto Sipi Cree Nation woman Winnipeg’s 29th homicide victim of 2019, Thompson Citizen

“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.”

September 26: Thompson fire leaves nearly 200 homeless after city deems apartment unsafe, CBC News

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.

September 27: ‘This is where everybody meets’: Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation traumatized by loss of complex to fire, CTV News

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.

September 30: City’s pre-pay taxi pilot project launches, First Nations organization says City of Winnipeg should go a step further, CBC News

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.

October 2019

October 1: Thompson marks Orange Shirt Day in honour of residential school system survivors, Thompson Citizen

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.

October 1: ‘We don’t want to be pushed aside anymore,’ single mom displaced by Sept. 23 fire tells council, Thompson Citizen

“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.”

October 2: New $10 taxi pre-payment too low, city told, Winnipeg Free Press

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.

October 4: Walk honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Thompson Citizen

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.”

October 4: Police make arrest in city’s 29th homicide, Winnipeg Sun

“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.

October 4: Police Charge Man in Balmoral Street Homicide, Chris D

“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.”

October 11: Monument about bush planes’ role in Canada’s residential school system a step towards reconciliation, Thompson Citizen

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.”

October 11: ‘We are strong’: Manitobans celebrate International Day of the Girl, CBC News

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.”

October 19: More evacuees from First Nations could return home this weekend: Manitoba Hydro, CBC News

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.

October 20: First Nations voters could decide outcome in 63 ‘priority districts’: AFN, APTN National News

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.”

October 24: ‘There were many systems that failed Bobbie’, Thompson Citizen

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.”

October 28: State of emergency declared Oct. 27 in Cross Lake after more than 24 hours without electricity, Thompson Citizen

“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.”

October 28: Province and MKO encouraging citizens to get flu shots, Thompson Citizen

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.”

October 28: Northern First Nation members in Manitoba encouraged to get flu shot, CTV News

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.

October 28: Grand Chief encourages northern residents to get flu shot, City News

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee is encouraging all northern residents to get their flu shots as soon as possible.

October 30: MKO calling for more consistent air transportation, City News

Shamattawa, the remote First Nation in Northern Manitoba relies on Perimeter to get their members to both Winnipeg and Thompson.

October 30: Indigenomics benefits everyone: expert, Winnipeg Free Press

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.

November 2019

November 19: Canada’s worst violent crime problem is in Thompson, Man., MacLean’s Magazine

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. is a political advocacy group representing First Nation signatories to Treaties 4, 5, 6 and 10. Grand Chief Garrison Settee lives in Thompson and says the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system is directly related to colonization and government policies that left a legacy of intergenerational trauma. “Youth being so detached from their culture is one of the products of Indian residential schools,” says Settee. “And if they don’t have their own culture, they’ll adopt any culture—be it one of drugs or of violence. We need to introduce a culture that is positive, and their own is probably the thing they need to be reconnected with.” 

November 27: Researchers seeking people affected by domestic violence to share their stories, Thompson Citizen

A pipe ceremony at Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak’s (MKO) office in Thompson was held Nov. 25 to launch the third phase of a five-year research project that is seeking to hear the experiences of Indigenous, remote and northern people affected by domestic violence.

December 2019

December 2: Santa to visit children in northern First Nations ahead of Christmas, CTV News

MKO has partnered with a number of organizations to bring the Santa Express to MKO territory. This gives kids, who can’t travel to urban centres, the opportunity to meet Santa during the holidays. So far this year, Saint Nick has visited Bunibonibee Cree Nation, God’s Lake First Nation, Manto Sipi Cree Nation, Shamattawa First Nation, Barren Lands First Nation, Northernlands First Nation, Sayisi Dene Denesuline Nation and O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation. He is set to travel to Norway House Cree Nation on Dec. 2 and Pimicikamak Cree Nation on Dec. 3.

December 3: Santa Claus touches down in eight northern First Nations with help from Perimeter Aviation, Thompson Citizen

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said he was thankful for Perimeter’s participation in making the Santa Express a reality. “This is all to bring a smile to the faces of little kids and an opportunity to see Santa in their hometown,” said Settee. “We are very thankful that the Santa Express Initiative is there for the north.”

December 3: Amid uncertainty, Manitoba First Nations, Métis communities consider control of child welfare services, CBC News

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said chiefs in his group support the principle of the bill, but are cautious about its implementation. The organization represents 26 northern Manitoba First Nations. “Most of the chiefs welcome change, but … they need assurance to make sure that the resources and the capacity to do that is there,” he said. “You’re going to need funding, you’re going to need organization to be able to move from one entity to another. To see that transformation, you’re going to have to have resources that the agencies do not currently have.”

December 6: Women killed by violence remembered at Dec. 6 vigil marking 30th anniversary of Montreal massacre, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a press release that Dec. 6 is also a day to recognize the particular challenges facing Indigenous women in Canada as a whole and specifically in Northern Manitoba. “It is clear that leadership from Northern Manitoba has ongoing concerns about the safety and well-being of First Nations women and girls,” stated Grand Chief Settee. “MKO remembers female victims of violence on December 6, but we take this opportunity to remind Manitoba residents and elected officials that Indigenous women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by high rates of violence. Let’s work together to acknowledge this violence and to take steps to reduce and ultimately end it.”

December 11: Province has highest femicide rate among provinces, Winnipeg Free Press

While Manitoba’s rate improved slightly this year, the situation is still bleak — and unsurprisingly so, according to Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls liaison unit manager for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. It appears many, if not most, of the women killed in Manitoba in 2019 were Indigenous. “I’m not surprised at the statistics, given the lack of action with respect to the human rights violations with respect to Indigenous women and girls,” Anderson-Pyrz said. “Access to food security, safe affordable housing, and economic opportunities, access to educational opportunities — until those opportunities are presented to Indigenous women and girls, the numbers are going to continue to climb.”

January 2020 

January 20: Statement on Perimeter Flight by MKO and Chief Eric Redhead of Shamattawa FN, NetNewsLedger

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement in partnership with Chief Eric Redhead of Shamattawa First Nation in Northern Manitoba. On January 19, 2020, at approximately 5 pm, a Perimeter Aviation flight made a dramatic landing in Shamattawa First Nation. It had originated in Thompson, Manitoba. When it approached the runway in Shamattawa, the landing went wrong, and the plane ended up in a snowbank. The right propeller of the Metro aircraft was completely shattered upon running into the snowbank.

January 21: Northern First Nation seeks to ditch airline after runway incident, Winnipeg Free Press

Several First Nations in the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak region have similar agreements in place with Perimeter, and have expressed they receive poor service, MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a news release Monday night. “Many of our communities do not have an all-weather road, so air travel is the only option,” Settee said. “I am concerned that this large corporation, which profits almost entirely off northern First Nations, is letting our First Nations down.”

January 21: ‘They have a monopoly’: Northern Manitoba First Nations decry Perimeter Aviation following crash, CBC News

A group of northern Manitoba First Nations says Perimeter Aviation has longstanding issues after a plane crash on a remote community left passengers “very shaken up.” “This large corporation, which profits almost entirely off northern First Nations, is letting our First Nations down,” Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak wrote in a statement late Monday night. MKO represents 26 northern Manitoba First Nations, including Shamattawa.

January 22: Chief and MKO demanding better service from Perimeter Aviation after Shamattawa collision, Thompson Citizen

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy organization that represents Shamattawa and more than 20 other Northern Manitoba First Nations, said in the Jan. 20 news release he wants to see answers from Perimeter about how they will improve service in Northern Manitoba.

January 22: MKO calls on government to make changes to lower Indigenous incarceration rates, CTV News

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy organization that represents Shamattawa and more than 20 other Northern Manitoba First Nations, said in the Jan. 20 news release he wants to see answers from Perimeter about how they will improve service in Northern Manitoba. The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is calling on the Government of Canada to implement changes to lower the incarceration rates of Indigenous people, after a report shows they account for a disproportionate amount of the inmate population.

January 22: Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak concerned about rising incarceration of Indigenous people, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents 72,000 First Nations people in Northern Manitoba, is concerned about the rising numbers of Indigenous people being sentenced to prison.

January 23: MKO Grand Chief Supports Calls for Change Raised by Correctional Investigator of Canada, NetNewsLedger

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is responding to a media release shared by the Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada yesterday. Correctional Investigator of Canada Ivan Zinger said that although Indigenous peoples account for about five percent of the population in Canada, Indigenous people now make up more than 30 percent of the federal inmate population. This is in comparison to 25 percent four years ago. Even more troubling, Indigenous women now account for 42 percent of the female inmate population in Canada.

January 24: Michael Okemow found guilty in 2015 killing of Crystal Andrews in Gods Lake Narrows, Thompson Citizen

“Although this verdict will not make up for the heartbreaking, tragic loss of Crystal, her family feels some form of justice today,” said a Jan. 24 press release issued by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy group that represents more than 20 Northern Manitoba First Nations. “She is lovingly remembered by her family as a gentle, kind, and humble spirit. She had a deep love for her family and was a proud mother to two beautiful children. She was a devoted partner, sister, daughter, and granddaughter. She had a soft spot for animals and would provide care to the many animals in the community. Crystal graduated from high school and was the class valedictorian. She was ambitious and dreamed of going into medicine or social work.”

January 24: Manitobans have their say on bettering the province’s energy efficiency programs, CTV News

The PUB is currently reviewing the proposed three-year plan for Efficiency Manitoba, the new Crown Corporation set to take over Manitoba Hydro’s energy saving programs. The plan is set to begin on April 1, 2020, with the goal of reducing residents’ energy consumption and lowering monthly bills. At Friday’s hearing, the Consumers Coalition and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), two intervenors at the proceeding brought together a ratepayers panel so the PUB could hear directly from people who use energy-saving programs, not just experts.

January 27: First Nation community to ditch Canada’s Perimeter Aviation, CH-Aviation

Several First Nation communities in the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak region have similar agreements with Perimeter. Some have said they receive poor service, the region’s grand chief, Garrison Settee, said in a statement on January 20. “Many of our communities do not have an all-weather road, so air travel is the only option,” Settee said. “I am concerned that this large corporation, which profits almost entirely off northern First Nations, is letting our First Nations down.”

January 28: MKO sets First Nations-led health and wellness initiative for Northern Manitoba in motion, Thompson Citizen

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) chiefs released a statement regarding the establishment of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc., “a First Nations Aggregate Entity to Support Health Transformation for The North.” The Treaty Five Territory MKO Chiefs Task Force on Health signed the first bylaw of the aggregate entity during the MKO Chiefs’ Special Assembly on Health, which was held Jan. 22-23.

January 28: Restorative justice push underway, Winnipeg Free Press

A push to set up restorative justice programs in all northern Manitoba communities is underway. In the wake of a Free Press series detailing systemic problems with northern courts, and after Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin ruled two northern Manitobans had their charter rights violated because of long bail-hearing delays, the leader of an Indigenous political advocacy organization says he’s working on a plan to expand restorative justice across the North.

“Every community needs to have this, because it’s a cultural practice. Historically, we’ve always found ways to find balance in our communities, and I’m a firm believer that our ways work for our people and I think it’s time that we be given the opportunity to use our ways to deal with justice,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee.

January 31: Crystal Andrews verdict first to be delivered in northern Manitoba First Nation, APTN News

“This is a very important thing that has happened. It’s historic,” Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), told reporters at a news conference in Winnipeg Friday morning. “And I’m hoping that we see a trend going into these communities not only because of the cost factor but because it’s a culturally appropriate way to handle justice.” Settee sat next to Crystal’s mother Beverly Andrews, who clutched an eagle feather, as he detailed the emotional and financial impact associated with holding trials in bigger cities.

January 31: Murdered Indigenous woman remembered during emotional press conference, Winnipeg Sun

A murdered Indigenous woman was remembered as a caring and loving person who had ambitions of becoming a nurse or social worker during an emotional press conference on Friday at the offices of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) in downtown Winnipeg, one week after her killer was found guilty in the first ever Court of Queen’s Bench proceeding in the small community of God’s Lake Narrows, 1,037 kms northeast of Winnipeg. 

January 31: Mother of murdered Indigenous woman speaks out, CTV News

Andrews spoke to media Friday with the support of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) who said the decision to deliver the guilty verdict in the community is significant. “No verdict will ever make up for the tragic loss of Crystal Andrews, “said Grand Chief Garrison Settee.  “But the opportunity for the family and the community to participate in the criminal justice system together may help bring healing for this family.”

January 31: ‘The light in our family’: Guilty verdict in murder of Crystal Andrews delivered in woman’s home community, CBC News

Delivering the verdict in the community where the crime was committed is significant, says the grand chief of the advocacy organization Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. “It was a welcomed [and] an important step to give the opportunity for the community to be a part of the pursuit of justice,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee said at a Friday press conference in Winnipeg. MKO said in a news release it’s believed this is the first time a Court of Queen’s Bench verdict has been delivered in the community.

January 31: Indigenous leaders applaud plan to end birth alerts, Winnipeg Free Press

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak was among the political advocacy groups calling for an end to birth alerts, most recently passing a resolution on the subject from its leadership in November. MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said Thursday he is thankful for the province’s decision. “It’s a significant step forward for Indigenous women,” he said. “We applaud the province for beginning the first part of the overall transformation of CFS in Manitoba.”

January 31: Manitoba government to end practice of birth alerts in April, Thompson Citizen

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Southern Chiefs Organization and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern Manitoba First Nations, had all called for birth alerts to stop. A national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls echoed the demand.

This story also appeared in the National Post.

January 31: Manitoba becomes latest province to scrap birth alerts, The Globe and Mail

In Manitoba, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, representing northern Manitoba First Nations, were among the groups who had called on the government to end birth alerts.

January 31: Province to end controversial birth alerts practice on April 1, Winnipeg Sun

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc., among other Indigenous groups had pressured the government to end the practice. First Nations leaders and advocates said birth alerts traumatize the parents who may already be dealing with a number of issues ranging from addictions to homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. Often times the birth alert would go out without the mother being aware of it and then CFS would intervene. “This is awesome news to hear, and we also want to applaud the province for listening to us and ending these birth alerts,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “It has been devastating for families and it has been devastating for mothers and to see the end of these birth alerts I think is a positive step forward in how CFS is handled in this province.”