National news briefs

Experimental Lakes Area’s federal funding, control to run dry

Federal funding of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), an unoccupied and protected area of land in Ontario used for environmental research, is expected to freeze come Mar. 31.

All activity in the ELA will be halted until Sept. 1, when the federal government will give up their control over the area.

Discussions on which organization will take over control of the ELA are still ongoing.

“The federal government has indicated that the facility will not be run by the federal government this summer. That said, it could be mothballed. It could be in cold lay-up and be ready to go in the future,” said Department of Fisheries and Oceans assistant deputy minister Kevin Stringer to the CBC.

New report says Canadian correctional system failing Aboriginal inmates

A recent study by the Office of the Correctional Investigator has found systemic discrimination towards Aboriginal inmates, who make up 23 per cent of the federal prison population, despite Aboriginal people only accounting for four per cent of the country’s population.

“It’s not that anybody designed the CSC programs to be discriminatory but in fact, there are differential outcomes between aboriginal and non-aboriginal inmates,” said correctional investigator Howard Sapers.

The report, which was tabled in the House of Commons on Mar. 7, recommended actions to alleviate this discrimination, including an increase in community-based healing lodges, Aboriginal cultural training for correctional staff, and enhanced involvement of Aboriginal leaders and Elders in releases and re-integration.

Sapers claimed that the CSC (Correctional Service of Canada) has been dismissive of the report, which was only the second report to be produced in the 40 years of the office’s existence.

Bill 18 continues to face opposition in Manitoba

City councillors in Steinbach have requested that the province review Bill 18, as they believe that it infringes on faith-based schools’ religious rights.
The legislation requires that all schools accommodate students who wish to form gay-straight alliance groups, among other groups, in order to prevent bullying.

A local pastor at Southland Church in Steinbach spoke on the perceived dangers of the bill on Feb. 24 to the congregation. Many citizens gathered to pray about the impending legislation later that day.

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister and Canada’s Public Safety Minister and Steinbach MP Vic Toews have also voiced concerns about the NDP’s proposed anti-bullying legislation.

Métis groups win milestone land claim in Supreme Court case

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) won a 142-year-old land claim case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

In a 6-2 ruling, the court found that land claims in the Manitoba Act, which were promised to 7,000 children of Manitoba’s Métis people, were never honoured.

In response to the ruling, which said that the federal government acted with persistent inattention to the land claims, MMF president David Chartrand said that Métis people are not looking for land but, rather, compensation for what they’ve lost.

Métis groups celebrated the court decision near Louis Riel’s grave on Mar. 9.