Viens Commission – The Québec Ombudsman weighs in on call-for-action follow-up

Sep 30, 2022

QUÉBEC CITY, Sept. 30, 2022 – On the occasion of the third anniversary of the tabling of the report of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress (Viens Commission), Québec Ombudsman Marc-André Dowd highlights the work done to date by his organization to ensure follow-up on the calls for action. He pointed out that in response to Call for action no. 138 and further to meetings and exchanges with the chiefs, leaders and representatives of Indigenous organizations, the Québec Ombudsman took the initiative to follow-up on the Viens Commission.

“It is with humility, respect and a listening-based approach that we have undertaken this large-scale mandate. We are happy to have the support of an Indigenous advisory circle and I want to underscore the crucial contribution of its members,” said Marc-André Dowd.

Concrete means

The Québec Ombudsman has a four-person team dedicated specifically to Indigenous matters. Its role is to advise the institution and to assess Indigenous relations with Québec public services. The goal is to establish a clear vision of current issues and to report on how the implementation of the Viens Commission’s calls for action is faring. It therefore works to initiate fruitful dialogue not only with the advisory circle, but also with all Government of Québec departments and agencies, as well as with the various First Nations and Inuit authorities and organizations.

The Québec Ombudsman’s first report on the progress made on the calls for action is slated for March 2023.

The follow-up carried out by the Québec Ombudsman further to the Commission also fuels its own thought processes and practices regarding First Nations and Inuit. In so doing, it affirms its desire to respect the principles of cultural safety and the rights and distinct character of First Nations and Inuit who live within the territory it serves.

As the parliamentary ombudsman, the Québec Ombudsman is aware of its responsibility to be thorough in its role with every population, including Indigenous communities. It intends to undertake various actions to improve its practices and better equip its staff in this respect.

On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Québec Ombudsman Marc-André Dowd wishes to extend his most sincere support to Indigenous communities and to pay tribute to the thousands of children who did not survive residential schools, as well as to all the survivors, families and communities affected.

For further information: Carole-Anne Huot, Phone: (418) 646-7143/Cell: (418) 925-7994, Email: [email protected]


‘Backed into a corner’: Duncan’s First Nation sues Alberta for cumulative impacts of industry – The Narwhal

Lawsuit follows in the footsteps of B.C. Supreme Court’s precedent-setting Blueberry River decision, which could have profound impacts for oil and gas industry

Oct. 3, 2022

A First Nation in northern Alberta is suing the Alberta government for infringement of Treaty Rights, leaning heavily on a B.C. Supreme Court decision last year, which found that province liable for violations based on the cumulative impacts of industry on the Blueberry River First Nation’s territory.

The outcome of the lawsuit could have a profound impact in a province heavily reliant on an oil and gas industry that has caused significant cumulative impacts, including in the Peace River district that is home to Duncan’s First Nation — the nation that has launched the suit.

In B.C., the court ordered the government to sit down with the Blueberry River First Nation to develop a plan to address its concerns and gave the nation the power to block new developments on its land. Both Blueberry River and Duncan’s First Nations are signatories to Treaty 8.

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Bridge leading to former residential school on Vancouver Island vandalized with racial slur – CBC

Riverbend Bridge near Port Alberni, B.C., was recently painted to say ‘Every child matters’

Oct 02, 2022

The Tseshaht First Nation is condemning an act of hate after a bridge leading to a former residential school on Vancouver Island was defaced with an anti-Indigenous slur on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

According to the First Nation, the incident happened around 10 p.m. on Friday at the Riverbend Bridge, known locally as the Orange Bridge, which crosses the Somass River in Port Alberni, B.C., at Highway 4 and Falls Street.

A barrier at the entrance to the bridge had been  painted with the slogan “Every Child Matters” — a reference to the thousands of children who died in federally run residential schools. On Friday, someone wrote over the word “child” and replaced it with a hateful slur against Indigenous people.

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Inquest Into The Death Of Curtis Mckenzie

A public inquest into the death of Curtis McKenzie will be held October 31 to November 4, 2022, at the Coronet Hotel at 3551 – 2nd Avenue West in Prince Albert.

The first day of the inquest is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Subsequent start times will be determined by the presiding coroner.

McKenzie, 27, was found unresponsive in his cell at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert on February 26, 2020. Medical personnel responded and transported him to the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. McKenzie was pronounced deceased on March 9, 2020.

Section 20 of The Coroners Act, 1999 states that the Chief Coroner shall hold an inquest into the death of a person who dies while an inmate at a jail or a correctional facility, unless the coroner is satisfied that the person’s death was due entirely to natural causes and was not preventable.

The Saskatchewan Coroners Service is responsible for the investigation of all sudden, unexpected deaths. The purpose of an inquest is to establish who died, when and where that person died and the medical cause and manner of death. The coroner’s jury may make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Coroner Tim Hawryluk will preside at the inquest.


For more information, contact:

Noel Busse
Justice and Attorney General
Phone: 306-787-8959
Email: [email protected]


CMHA – Open letter to the federal government: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) stands firm in supporting the self-determination of Indigenous people and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we use our platform to echo calls from the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and their partners for increased federal government investments in First Nations, Métis and Inuit-led mental health and substance use health programs and services to ensure that they are sustainable, equitable, culturally specific, land-based and trauma-informed.[1]

As a community-based organization providing mental health and substance use health support in more than 330 communities across the country, CMHA is keenly aware of the wage disparities, underfunding, and undervaluing of services delivered by organizations outside of hospital settings. This inequity is more pronounced in programs delivered by Indigenous community-based organizations for Indigenous people. We are also deeply concerned about the lack of access to services that are culturally safe and relevant for Indigenous people. Colonization and ongoing systemic discrimination contribute to the intergenerational trauma, racism, and structural inequities experienced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. CMHA is committed to the dismantling of racist and colonial practices that are embedded in the mental health system, and in our own history[2] and we believe that the federal government’s failure to provide funding to redress these harms signals a lack of commitment to reconciliation.

In the first year of the pandemic, the number of opioid-poisoning related deaths among First Nations people was significantly higher than among non-First Nations people.[3] It is important to recognize that funding for First Nations addictions treatment programs has fallen short for decades. First Nations addiction workers are paid nearly 45% less than their provincial counterparts.[4] While substance use rates are increasing, staff turnover rates at First Nations youth treatment centres are as high as 50%.[5]

It is crucial to enhance funding to Health Canada programs like the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and the National Youth Solvent Abuse Program (NYSAP) to sustain and strengthen responses to substance use health and associated mental health issues experienced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Despite recent temporary increases in federal funding, current program funding cannot support comprehensive, culturally appropriate, community-based addictions and harm reduction services or provide adequate compensation for addictions workers.

CMHA echoes the calls of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and their partners that the federal government act immediately:

  1. To recognize the need for increased federal funding and conduct a comprehensive review of the current funding formula[6] towards modernizing it.
  2. To provide fair and equitable compensation for addictions workers of the Health Canada National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and the National Youth Solvent Abuse Program (NYSAP), commensurate with provincial counterparts.[7]
  3. To better integrate services and programming among the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, ensuring that all Indigenous people have access to services that are consistent with the Canada Health Act.
  4. To Increase transparency and communication in funding structures and increase accountability to Indigenous people.
  5. To hold provinces and territories accountable by placing place measurable conditions on mental health transfers.

Thank you,

Margaret Eaton, National CEO
Canadian Mental Health Association
250 Dundas St. West, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M5T 2Z5

About the Canadian Mental Health Association

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.

The Canadian Mental Health Association National office is located in Toronto on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mississaugas of New Credit, the Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat.


Musée de la civilisation Marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by Unveiling the Witness Blanket a Powerful Work of Art

QUÉBEC, – A damaged shoe. Braids of hair. A hockey trophy. A wooden door. A black-and-white photograph. A fragment of stained glass. Far from ordinary, these items are silent witnesses of the residential school era and are part of the 800 pieces that make up the Witness Blanket, the masterful work created by master carver Carey Newman, member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation and Coast Salish.

To mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in a meaningful way, this 12-meter-long impressive installation filled with emotions generated from the unique story of each piece has been unveiled this morning, at the Musée de la civilisation in Québec by its Chief Executive Officer, Stéphan La Roche. Present for the occasion were the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, museum responsible for presenting the work across the country, Ms. Isha Khan and the Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Rémy Vincent. People will be able to admire the work of art and reflect on it until February 19, 2023.

Inspired by his father’s disturbing residential school experience, Carey Newman wants his creation to be a collection of items that, individually, are pieces of a fading tale, but once together, reveal a strong story that carries the true story of loss, as well as strength, pride and reconciliation for future generations, tied with a message of hope, peace and truth.


“It’s a privilege to receive the Witness Blanket in our institution, especially on this important Day for the reconciliation process. Its symbolic, historical and emotional impact is perfectly aligned with our mission—that puts humans at the heart of our preoccupations—while also encouraging us to reflect on our collective responsibility to take action for the reconciliation.” Stéphan La Roche, Chief Executive Officer.

« The Witness Blanket has been to many places across this country, but having it visit the Musée de la civilisation is particularly meaningful because it is the first time that it will be in Quebec. When I completed the Witness Blanket and the tour began, our goal was to bring it back to the many places that the pieces and stories that give it meaning came from. This exhibition brings us closer to that goal. September 30th is an important day. It is a day for us to remember the experiences of residential school Survivors and reflect upon the harms of Canada’s colonial past and present. It is my hope that having the exhibition open on such a significant day will help to ensure that these important conversations continue throughout the year» Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme), artist and master carver.

« We are very proud to be a part of sharing the stories of the Witness Blanket with people across Canada“, said Isha Khan, CEO of the CMHR. “This is an artwork of national importance that can help all Canadians understand the truths of the residential school era and the impact these institutions still have today. Reconciliation must start with truth» Ms. Isha Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, museum responsible for presenting the work across the country.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, this work of art is worth at least a thousand stories that must be shared and acknowledged, especially on this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I hope that the work of art the Witness Blanket allows every visitor to reflect and pay tribute to the many victims and survivors of residential schools. It is by taking small, but significant action, like visiting this exhibition, that the reconciliation and connectedness between all peoples can be possible.” Rémy Vincent, Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation


  • The Witness Blanket reminds one of quilts made from a multitude of small pieces of fabric that once pieced together make an enveloping and comforting object.
  • The more than 800 pieces that make up the Witness Blanket were donated by residential school survivors, their families, band councils and friendship centres. Some objects were also recovered from former residential schools, churches, government buildings and cultural structures across the country.
  • The website adds a digital dimension to the work. This resource holds testimonies of survivors, profound stories inspired by some objects found on the Witness Blanket, a teacher’s guide and more.
  • Carey Newman, whose traditional name is Hayalthkin’geme, has Kwakiutl and Coast Salish ancestry on his father’s side, while his mother’s ancestry is of non-native English, Scottish and Irish origin.
  • The blending of these cultures has been a major influence on his artistic process. For more than a year and with the support of a dedicated team, Carey Newman collected contributions and objects that tell the experiences of residential schools across the country.
  • Together, the artist and his team have gone over 200,000 kilometres, visited 77 communities, met more than 10,000 people and agreed to take over more than one thousand articles.
  • To know more about the creation process of the work of art, it is possible to attend the screening of Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket, on Friday, September 30th, at 1 p.m. at the RolandArpin auditorium in the museum. English version with French subtitles.
  • The Museum for Human Rights of Winnipeg and Carey Newman have signed an historical and unique agreement that reunites Indigenous legal traditions and Western law. This agreement defines their mutual responsibility for the ongoing care of the work and give equal importance to written documents as well as oral tradition. It confers legal rights to the work of art itself and respects its important role as the keeper of the survivors’ stories. In other words, the agreement recognizes the importance of transforming the colonial relationships and to partake in respectful collaborations as part of the ongoing reconciliation process.
  • For the duration of the Witness Blanket exhibition at the Musée de la civilisation, members of all Indigenous communities of Québec and other provinces will have free access to the work of art as well as all exhibition halls of the national museum institution.

Related links:

Witness blanket:
Carey Newman:
Canadian Museum for Human Rights:
Musée de la civilisation :

For further information: Media relations : Québec: Anne-Sophie Desmeules : 418 643-2158, poste 208; courriel : [email protected]; Agnès Dufour : 418 643-2158, poste 433; courriel : [email protected]; Montréal: Rosemonde Gingras : 514 458-8355; courriel : [email protected]


New documentary honours National Truth and Reconciliation Day – Global News

October 3 2022

Premiering on HISTORY Channel in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, ‘True Story’ explores the relationship between Indigenous peoples and settlers, offering an important lens into Indigenous history in Canada. Documentary filmmaker Dinae Robinson joins TMS to talk about the significance of the project.

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‘The time is now’: Doctors ask Canadians how to reform primary care – CTV

Oct. 3, 2022

Believing that “better is possible,” a family doctor and other researchers are asking Canadians to share their experiences with the country’s primary health-care system – and what they want from it – as a way to help guide future reform.

Dr. Tara Kiran, a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and one of the doctors behind the OurCare research survey, told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday, while the COVID-19 pandemic “shone a light” on some of the cracks that exist in the current system, it also presents an opportunity to try and repair it.

“I do think that better is possible. I think that we can reimagine a future system and that the time is now,” she said.

The survey comes after Kiran and others recently published a study that found more than 170,000 patients in Ontario lost their family doctors in the first six months of the pandemic, equating to nearly three per cent of the province’s practicing family physicians.

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Indigenous food sovereignty requires better and more accurate data collection – Canadian Manufacturing

October 3, 2022

Indigenous Peoples have remained resilient and are making important strides toward food sovereignty through the revitalization of Indigenous food systems and cultural traditions.

Indigenous communities are increasingly investing in agriculture to sustain their cultures and economies. Indigenous Peoples have a long history with agriculture — a history that wasn’t always recognized.

For much of the 20th century, scholars claimed that Indigenous farmers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States (CANZUS) were marginal food producers who employed unsustainable farming practices, like slashing and burning, that led to environmental declines and their ultimate downfall.

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Scientists call for vigilance, warning another monkey virus could soon be poised to infect humans – CTV

Oct. 3, 2022

Researchers are calling for vigilance in a new study that outlines an obscure family of viruses that causes Ebola-like symptoms in certain monkeys, warning that one of these viruses could soon make the jump to humans.

Simian hemorrhagic fever, an arterivirus that is already endemic in wild African primates and mostly impacts macaque monkeys, may have the potential to become the next monkeypox or even the next HIV in the future, researchers say.

Although no human infections have ever been reported with these viruses, experts caution that we should be watching them now.

“This animal virus has figured out how to gain access to human cells, multiply itself, and escape some of the important immune mechanisms we would expect to protect us from an animal virus. That’s pretty rare,” Sara Sawyer, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at University of Colorado Boulder, and senior author of the research, said in a press release.

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