A July 2008 archaeological dig at an endangered site uncovered the richest, most prolific cache to date of c. 5000 artifacts from several cultures proving that Banff’s rich concentration of natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the famous hot springs, attracted (not repelled as was argued) nomadic peoples for at least 7,000 years.

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In July 2008 Parks Canada archaeologists Bill Perry and Brad Himour during a month-long archaeological dig at an endangered, rare site located west of the town of Banff, excavated 1% of the potential 30,000 square metre site (eleven pits) and uncovered Banff National Park’s richest, most prolific cache to date of thousands of artifacts some dating back 7,000 years, belonging to the Besant, a Plains nomadic civilization previously thought to have avoided the mountains and living mainly on the prairie, had in fact regularly passed through this mountain paradise. Perry says. “On the eroding slope face we’re finding flakes, fire-broken rocks and projectile points. A lot of important information will be lost if we don’t do some salvage excavation.” This site is part of a kilometre-long chain of potential archaeological sites. Although Parks Canada has a dedicated fund for threatened archaeological sites, funding operates on a case-by-case basis, giving priority to culturally sensitive areas at risk from erosion, says Parks manager of cultural resource services Gwyn Langemann. This rich source of knowledge was first threatened in the 1880s when the railway undercut the slope where the excavation sits. “Throughout Western Canada, modern archaeology is only just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to piecing together early human migration paths. Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travellers. What is known is that human inhabitation in the Banff area extends back at least 11,000 years, with the oldest site in the area at Lake Minnewanka. That site, exposed only a couple months each year and otherwise submerged beneath the lake’s fluctuating waterline, is also at risk from water damage. Much is still being learned about early settlement in the Rocky Mountains, which were originally viewed as a barrier to migration – a harsh and inhospitable place that divided Western Canada’s early civilizations. Bill Perry claims that since the 1980s archaeologists have reversed their knowledge claims on human settlement history and early human migration paths in which they had argued that the Rockies were a barrier to plains people migrating further west – a harsh and inhospitable place. Using modern archaeological methodologies they have found undeniable evidence showing that Banff valley region rich concentration natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the area’s famous hot springs, attracted nomadic peoples. Its prime campsites and travel corridors remain similar to what they are now. “With the valley’s current vegetation little more than a century old, it was once home to broad meadows and open, grassy Plains that played host to grazing bison.” “Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travelers.”

Perry describes the site as a “prehistoric beach party”, evidenced by ancient fire pits and cooking sites. Roughly dated by the technology used, nearly 5,000 artifacts have been found, indicating several cultures passed through the area between 7,000 and 500 years ago. Although there is no known link to modern day aboriginal cultures in the area, both Stoney and Blackfoot oral histories connect them with the Bow Valley, while the Kootenay and Shuswap crossed the pass to hunt bison here. “It’s an amazing deposit of fire-broken rock on this ledge,” Himour says. “It’s going to definitely add to the conversation about the Besant occupation of the park.” Artifacts will be catalogued and inventoried over the winter, with carbon dating test results expected next spring. Perry hopes funding will continue, allowing ongoing exploration of the culturally important area. “At best all you can hope to do is get enough money to get a sampling of what’s here. Archaeology is an expensive business,” he says (Follett 2008-08-07).

Follett, Amanda. 2008-08-07. “Dig indicates Plains culture spent significant time near Banff.” Rocky Mountain Outlook.

“Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008 ).”

The Conference Board of Canada (2008 ) compared economic, innovation, environment, education, health and society performances of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States which are considered to be Canada’s international peers. Canada’s standard of living ranking dropped from 4th spot in 1990 to 9th in 2008. In terms of Education and Skills, over 40% of adult Canadians lack literacy skills required for everyday life and work in modern society. In terms of innovation Canada scored D since the 1980s and has failed to produce any top global brands.

The full report for 2008 will not be available until September. I am curious to see how data specifically related to Canada’s growing aboriginal community with its unique social histories and current dilemmas will be analysed in this report. When we examine the weakest points in the report, it is obvious that the vulnerabilities faced by Canada’s most at-risk group (aboriginal women and children) affect our international ranking. It is also useful to consider the location of remote aboriginal communities in terms of the most volatile environmental debates in Canada.

Data for this annual report comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (c.80%), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. The report measures quality of life based on this definition:

“The Conference Board defines a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians as being achieved if Canada records high and sustainable performances in six categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health and Society (B 10/17). The word “sustainable” [1] is a critical qualifier. It is not enough for Canada to boost economic growth if it is done at the expense of the environment or social cohesion. For example, to take advantage of high commodity prices by mining and exporting all our natural resources may make the country rich in the short term, but this wealth will not be sustainable in the long or even medium term. The Conference Board has consistently argued that economic growth and sustainability of the physical environment need to be integrated into a single concept of sustainable national prosperity—what we call here a “high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians.”

..

“Having a high quality of life means living in communities that are free from fear of social unrest and violence, communities that accept racial and cultural diversity, and those that foster social networks. A country that provides a high quality of life also minimizes the extremes of inequality between its poorest and richest citizens, while reducing the social tensions and conflicts that result from these gaps. Performance in the Society category is assessed using 17 indicators across three dimensions: self-sufficiency, equity, and social cohesion. Self-sufficiency indicators measure the autonomy and active participation of individuals within society, including its most vulnerable citizens, such as persons with disabilities and youth. Equity indicators measure equity of access, opportunities, and outcomes. Social cohesion indicators measure the extent to which citizens participate in societal activities, the level of crime in society, and the acceptance of diversity [. . .] Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008).”

Footnotes

1. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland 1987:43).”

Webliography and Bibliography

Brundtland, Gro Harlem. 1987. Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conference Board of Canada. 2008.

Ross Levin, a NYC hedge fund analyst with Arbiter Partners, who calls himself a “passive speculator in securities” met Lionel Lepine, a member of the Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation whose family and friends living on the contaminated watershed upriver from the oil sands’ effluence are suffering from unprecedented numbers of cancerous tumours.

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A number of recent stories intersect here: Harper’s apology for past treatment of Canada’s First Nations, the pollution of the Athabaskan River north of the oil sands, the impatient development of nonrenewable resources, the meteoric rise of oil commodities market directly caused by irresponsible speculators playing with volatile, unpredictable hedge funds that play havoc with the market making a fortune for some while destroying economic, social and ecological environments all around them.

In a rapid visit to the local library yesterday I grabbed Jake Bernstein’s How the Futures Markets Work. Although it is quite old for the fast-paced risk management industry, there are certain fundamentals that ring true. He briefly traced the history futures contracts leading to the volatile environment where agricultural futures were replaced by the less predictable currency markets. Of course, his book was written long before the meteoric rise of private equity funds.

My concern remains with the absent ethical component on trading floors. Ethical responsibilities are as elastic as the regulations that govern the centuries old practice of hedging. In the period of late capitalism and the emergence of risk society, the cost of destructive unintended byproducts have created havoc in ways that far exceed the commodities/service value. The road to profits and impatient money, is paved with casualties.

Berstein’s facts of market life are telling. He encourages simple methods and systems which require few decisions and little mental conflict. Too much thought is not conducive to successful trading. Too much analysis costs lost opportunities. Keep systems simple. Control your emotions. Practice caring less so that you remain more objective. Don’t ask why. Knowing why may hinder you more than it will help you. Patterns are the best indicators available (What feeds into a “pattern” however is not a science). Timing is what makes money in the futures market (Bernstein 2000:282-3).

In other words, futures’ gurus encourage young hedge fund analysts to not think too much about factors such as displacement of peoples, the degradation of living conditions and the way in which they unwittingly contribute to making vulnerable ecologies and peoples even more vulnerable. Their gurus tell them to not think about the impact of their actions. They are told to not ask why the prices of essential commodities like fuel and food that they are playing with, are pushing certain groups into unimaginable levels of social exclusion. In the end groups at-risk to health degradation are always those least able to protect themselves. How convenient that the gurus do not factor in these social issues. They are entirely absent from finance reports.

But then a lot of information is purposely not included in financial and business reports. Bernstein argues that the simpler systems that take fewer things into consideration will lead to more profits. Yet when he lists off all the potential factors in operation in even a simple fundamental analysis, it is not at all simple. It begins with the highly complex. The algorithms involved may appear to be simplified through the use of databases that seem to generate accurate, objective hard facts. In reality, the accuracy of any query depends on what was fed into it.

Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1). These financial instruments offer unlimited profit potential with relatively little capital. Speculators are drawn to the possibility of quick money or what I like to call impatient money. The great wealth accumulated from speculative financial instruments has spawned careers in brokerage, market analysis, computerized trading, computer software and hardware, accounting, law, advertising which themselves subdivide into more recent opportunities such as those related to risk-management.

While gurus such as Bernstein argue that gambling is for anyone but speculation is for professionals, the chaos and unpredictability of the current global economy have been linked to a growing culture of gambling in futures trading rather than level-headed professionalism. Gamblers create risk simply by placing a bet; professional speculators “transfer risk from the hedgers to the speculators” and it therefore called risk management instead of gambling.

“It rained last night so the price of soy beans will be down today.” Although the basis of fundamental analysis in economics is supply and demand, the actual fundamental analysis of specific markets that might generate accurate price predictions are complicated as numbers of factors overlap and massive quantities of data need to be considered. The simple equation involves how much of a commodity or service are buyers willing to pay at a given time and place. There used to be a correlation between price and consumption. Factors that impact on price of commodities include the state of the economy (local, regional, national and international – inflationary, recessionary with rising or falling employment), availability of alternate products or services, storage possibilities, weather, seasonality, price cycles, price trends, government subsidies, political influences, protectionist attitudes, international tensions, fear of war, hoarding, stockpiling, demand for raw materials (sugar, petroleum, copper, platinum, coffee, cocoa), currency fluctuations, health of the economy, level of unemployment, housing starts. Most technical systems are not effective in making traders money.

In spite of this there is still a persistent belief that there is an invisible hand that guides market correcting imbalances like a living organism or finely-tuned machine.

“Markets work perfectly as they respond to the multiplicity of forces that act upon them. It is our inability to find, parse, and correctly weight the impact of these factors that limits our results and success of our fundamentally based forecasts (Bernstein 2000:162).”

The bottom line is that wealth disparities continue to intensify and that these inordinate extremes of wealth and poverty destabilizes society. These distorted economic relationships deprive us of any sense of control over economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our existence. National governments have been either unwilling or unable to deal effectively with this situation in which we live where the deplorable superfluity of great wealth exists alongside the acute suffering of those living in miserable, demoralizing and degrading abject poverty even in countries like Canada.

Social equality is an entirely impracticable chimera. Even if equality could be achieved it could not be sustained. Wages and income should be unequal and should correspond to different efforts, skills and capacities. However, equal justice for all is not only necessary but urgently needed.

As long as those involved in the financial and energy industries remain in denial of their role by hiding behind economic and ideological polemics and simply dismissing concerns from others there can be no productive change. A fresh look at the problem should involve people like Lionel Lepine who are directly involved with decisions, along with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines. There will not be a voluntary ethical turn so for now we desperately need public policies that will regulate industries.

Selected Timeline of Critical Events

1710 The first modern organized futures exchange began with the Dojima Rice Exchange in Osaka, Japan. The Japanese feudal landowners began to use certificates of receipt against future rice crops. As these futures certificates became financial instruments in the general economy the value of the certificates would rise and fall as the price of rice fluctuated. The Dojima Rice Exchange emerged as the world’s first futures market where speculators traded contracts for the future delivery of rice or “certificates of receipt.” The Japanese government outlawed the practice when futures contracts (where delivery never took place) began to have no relationship to the underlying cash value of the commodity leading to wild and unpredictable fluctuations (Bernstein 2000:30).

1848 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was formed as a price risk occurred in the grain markets of Chicago.

1865 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) organized trading of futures contracts.

1919 – 1945 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) traded futures in eggs, butter, apples, poultry and frozen eggs (Bernstein 2000:70).

1960s Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1).

1970s There was increasing volatility in international currency exchange rates as the Bretton Woods agreement began to break down. Business people transferred risk of volatility in international markets by hedging with speculators willing to take the risk. Futures markets began to expand into foreign currencies as fluctuated wildly competing against each other and the US dollar.

1972 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 18 million and the top ten most actively traded future contracts were agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:71).

1974 The US Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act and established Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to protect participants in the futures market from fraud, deceit and abusive practices such as unfair trading practices (price manipulation, prearranged trading, trading ahead of a customer), credit and financial risks, and sales practice abuses (Bernstein 2000:32). Individual nation states have similar regulating bodies.

1982 Futures trading in the US was self-regulating and anyone in the business had to become a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

1986 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 184 million and the T bonds were among the most actively traded future contracts (Bernstein 2000:71).

1990 The price of crude oil rose dramatically when Hussein invaded Kuwait.

1999 The most actively traded future contracts were interest rates, futures, stock index futures, energy futures, currency futures and agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:72).

2000 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) trades futures in livestock futures, currency futures, interest rate futures, stock index futures (Bernstein 2000:70).

2000 More than 90 foreign futures exchanges emerged with the ever-increasing demand for new financial instruments “to hedge against fluctuating interest rates, changing foreign exchange rates and institutional securities portfolios (Bernstein 2000:46).

2008 Calgary has a high percentage of young millionaires with lots of disposable income. There are also c.4000 homeless people in Calgary, the oil capital of Canada. c. 40% of the homeless are working poor who are unable to afford housing.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bernstein, Jake. 2000. How the Futures Markets Work. New York Institute of Finance.

High levels of carcinogens and toxic substances have been found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects. The Athabasca River, which flows past Fort McMurray feeds into Lake Athabasca. Fort Chipewyan, an aboriginal village of 1,400 on the northeast shore of Lake Athabasca is 260 kilometers (161 miles) north of Fort McMurray oil sands. Dr. Kevin Timoney, an ecologist with Treeline Environmental Research reported in a recent study that Fort Chipewyan water supply was safe but there were “high levels of arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish, which many people in Fort Chipewyan, especially members of its Native community, rely on for a substantial portion of their diet (Austen 2007).” Nunee Health Authority’s director Donna Cyprien commissioned the report to investigate the threat of toxins on Mikasew Cree First Nation who live downstream from the Alberta oil sands projects. Residents were concerned about potential carcinogens found in tar and tarlike materials as there is visible oily residue in their drinking water.

“Timoney’s conclusions are in stark contrast to a government-funded study this year on cancer rates that found no elevated disease rates in connection with the Athabasca River (CBC 2007).”

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Notes

1. Thanks to this post for drawing my attention to inappropriate ads on this article.

2. This post was updated February 9, 2009 in response to more recent reports and dramatic changes brought on by the 2009 recession. Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental headliner that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not be worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Concerns about high levels of carcinogens and toxic substances found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects (which are largely self-regulated see RAMP), have also earned international attention. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

I have developed this customized Google Map to follow relevant stories and reports that I have come across. It does not include the most relevant or recent information:

This Google map is provided by Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental self-monitoring program based on a self-regulation model and currently chaired by Suncor’s Patrick O’Brien.

Timeline

1997- Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental monitoring program initiated in 1997. The intent of RAMP is to integrate aquatic monitoring activities across different components of the aquatic environment, different geographical locations, and Athabasca oils sands and other developments in the Athabasca oil sands region so that long-term trends, regional issues and potential cumulative effects related to oil sands and other development can be identified and addressed (RAMP web site 2007).”

2008-04 Syncrude failed to properly deter about 500 ducks from landing on its massive toxic tailings pond, where nearly all of them died (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).

2007-11-09 ” Ian Austen reported in his articleStudy Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects” in the New York Times.

2009 Patrick O’Brien (Suncor) is the current Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) Steering Committee chairperson. The RAMP Steering Committee is the multi-stakeholder decision body of RAMP responsible for the management and implementation of the program.

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

2009-02-09 “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).” Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental tragedy that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not we worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

Who’s Who?

Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP)

Kevin Timoney, Treeline Ecological Research, 21551 Twp Road 520, Sherwood Park, AB, T8E 1E3

Webliography and Bibliography

Adams, S. and Associates. 1998. Fort Chipewyan Way of Life Study. Stuart Adams and Associates. Vancouver, BC.

Austen, Ian. 2007. “Study Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects.” New York Times. November 7.

CBC. 2007-11-08. “Study contradicts earlier findings on N. Alberta water quality.”

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

D’ Aliesio, Renata. 2009-02-09. “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond.” Calgary Herald.

Haggett, Scott. 2007. “Canadian village calls for end to oil sand projects.” Reuters. November 8.

Timoney, Kevin. 2003. “An Environmental Assessment of High Conservation Value Forests in the Alberta Portion of the Mid-Continental Canadian Boreal Forest Ecoregion.”

Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans researcher admits that migratory sea mammals, particularly ringed seals and beluga, continue to be poisoned by mercury at increasing levels from unknown sources. The benefits of Inuit food: caribou, whale (beluga) or ring seals, rich in vitamins, nutrition and low in oil are greater than the health risks.

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The 192-member nations of the U.N. General Assembly passed the declaration wth 143 votes in favor and 11 abstentions. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand claimed it gave excessive property and legal powers.

The UN declaration of rights for indigenous peoples states that “indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”

That could potentially put in question most of the land ownership in countries, such as those that opposed the declaration, whose present population is largely descended from settlers who took over territory from previous inhabitants. A balancing clause inserted at a late stage in the text says nothing in it can authorize or encourage “any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity” of states. That was not good enough for the four objectors, notably Canada, where the issue has become a political football. Many of Canada’s 1 million aboriginal and Inuit people live in overcrowded, unsanitary housing and suffer high rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide (Worsnip 2007).

Worsnip, Patrick. 2007. “U.N. Assembly backs indigenous peoples’ rights.” Reuters. September 13.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. Kashechewan, made headline news in 2005 when 100s evacuated because water was contaminated by E. coli. It is still a community-in-crisis.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. The suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation is one of many that [. . .] continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain.” (Barrett 2007)

Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

Selected Timeline of water quality problems in First Nations and Inuit communities

1970s In the 1970s project managers of the the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada oversaw all aspects of on-reserve capital projects, largely without the involvement of First Nations communities.

1980s
As a result of downsizing in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada since the mid-1980s, and in keeping with the devolution policy, there has been an increasing transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects having First Nations including planning and implementation of various program activities on reserves. Consequently, there has been a continual transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects, under funding arrangements with the Department (DINA 1995).


1989-90 Information disclosed in government reports inaccurately portrayed the status of conditions on reserves claiming that 92 percent of houses on reserves received adequate water services in 1993-94 (86 percent in 1989-90). However, a survey report released after our audit showed that only half of the water systems in First Nations communities are not experiencing problems and about one fifth of the systems pose potential health and safety concerns (DINA 1995:2390)


1992 the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada started to develop an Environmental Issues Inventory and Remediation Plan in 1992, Over 1,600 environmental issues including soil contamination, were identified on inhabited reserves, and remediation would involve millions of dollars (DINA 1995).


1995 The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was responsible for providing services to over 800 on-reserve communities, most of which are located in rural and remote areas. Populations were rapidly outgrowing their already inadequate infrastructures.

2000  The contamination of drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario led to widespread illness that resulted in seven deaths and
ongoing illness for hundreds of residents. “A subsequent inquiry by Associate Chief Justice Dennis O’Connor of the Ontario Court of Appeal not only probed the causes, but also set out detailed recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence. This “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” reflects pressures to increase drinking water safety that all jurisdictions in Canada have felt since the Walkerton tragedy.


2001 Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also “uses funding arrangements with First Nations to define drinking water requirements. However, the wording of the arrangements is general and does not specifically refer to water systems. In 2001, in a submission to the Walkerton Inquiry, the Chiefs of Ontario stated: “First Nations, their consultants and federal officials are left to discern the applicable standards from vague and conflicting language in funding conditions, guidelines and manuals.” This situation had not changed significantly at the time of our audit. (OAG 2005 ).

2003 INAC and Health Canada developed the First Nations Water Management Strategy. The strategy is intended to fix most of the problems identified in the 2001 assessment and substantially improve the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities by 2008. It covers the following seven elements:  developing comprehensive guidelines, policies, and standards; educating on-reserve residents about drinking water issues; clarifying roles and responsibilities; building and upgrading water systems to standards; improving operation and maintenance; providing operator training; and expanding water testing. The departments have been trying to address the last five points since 1995 (OAG 2005 ).


2004 World Health Organization published Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition).


2005 The Auditor General’s Office concluded that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and First Nations do not operate under a regulatory regime for drinking water as most provinces do. When it comes to the safety of drinking water, residents of First Nations communities do not benefit from a level of protection comparable with that of people living off reserves.2. There is no statute or regulation requiring the monitoring of the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities. Health Canada relies on its staff and on First Nations to sample and test drinking water quality. Regular tests at the frequency recommended under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are not carried out in most First Nations. When the results of these tests are reported to Health Canada, they are not properly recorded; nor are they systematically shared with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Finally, not all the information identified was collected by the departments in 2003–04 and some critical indicators were missing. Parliament is not yet receiving enough information about the First Nations Water Management Strategy and the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities (OAG 2005 ).
2005 “Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

2006 United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 3 and 31. On June 29, 2006 the Human Rights Council adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour to 2 against and 12 abstentions a resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was forwarded to the UN General Assembly for approval in 2006. Canada has so far decided not to support this Declaration. Nonetheless, were a Canadian government to decide to support the Declaration, this would be a further indication of the policy direction Canada intended to pursue, and would be consistent with the general movement towards recognizing aboriginal self-government rights “GC Vol 2. 2006.


2006 The most recent Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published in March, 2006 and last updated in September (HC 2006) did not provide an explicit definition of “safe drinking water” in Canada. There is no explicit definition in any provincial or territorial legislation (GN 2006).
2006 Kashechewan was under a precautionary Drinking Water Advisory, but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada claimed they had completed upgrades to the water systems and the system was closely monitored by a certified operator (DINA 2006 ).

2006
Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice launched a plan of action in March to address drinking water problems in First Nation communities. (CBC 2007)

2006 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada issued a priority list of communities identified as high risk drinking water systems with drinking water advisories in effect (DINA 2006 ). These high priority list in July 2006 included: New Brunswick: Woodstock, Pabineau; Quebec: Kitigan Zibi; Ontario: Constance Lake, Shoal Lake No. 40, Moose Deer Point, Northwest Angle, Ochiichagwe’babigo-ining, Kingfisher, Muskrat Dam Lake, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway; Alberta: Dene Tha’, Driftpile, Frog Lake; British Columbia: Shuswap, Toosey, Toquaht, Lake Babine (Fort Babine), Canoe Creek, Semiahmoo, Taku River Tlingit.”

2006 The Government of Canada’s panel of experts produced this report “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November.

2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine called for Ottawa’s immediate attention to the suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation “Kashechewan and many other aboriginal communities in Ontario continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain” [. . .] A report released in November by federal government adviser Alan Pope made a series of recommendations for Kashechewan, including moving the reserve to within the city limits of Timmins, Ont. – 450 kilometres from its current location on the shores of James Bay. Pope said the move would improve the lives of the community residents, particularly young people, by giving them access to high schools and post-secondary education, as well as economic opportunities and employment. But in a speech on [February 8, 2007] to the International Congress on Ethics in Gatineau, Que., Fontaine spoke out against such a move, saying that First Nations have been subject for too long to policy that amounts to “social engineering.” (Barrett 2007)


2007
Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. Chief David General of Six Nations, ON knows his community members become ill from drinking tap water. “They would rather have a new water plant instead of a new communications strategy” (CBC 2007).

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.

Bibligraphy

Barrett, Michael. 2007. Kashechewan ‘Community in Crisis’. Red Lake Net News. February 8.

CBC News. 2007. “Message about bad water on reserves not getting through: study.” May 11
DINA. 2006. “Priority List of First Nation Communities With High Risk Water Systems and Drinking Water Advisories.” Last Updated 2006-07-20

Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November 15.
Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations: Legal Analysis.” Vol. 2. November 15.

Government of Canada. 2006. Report, Presentations and Written Submissions to the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.

Health Canada. 2006. “Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.” >> Environmental & Workplace Health. Last Updated: 2006-09-19.
Health Canada. 2007. “Drinking Water Advisories.” in  First Nations & Inuit Health. May 10.
Office of the Auditor General (OAG). 2005. “Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.” Last Updated: 2005-09-29.

2011-05-25 Former auditor general Sheila Fraser gave her final news conference in which she deplored the fact that First Nations’ access to the basics of life — education, child welfare, clean drinking water and adequate housing — are persistently and dramatically substandard, and in some cases deteriorating.

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.

Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (DINA). 1995. “On-Reserve Capital Facilities and Maintenance.”

WHO. 2004. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition). World Health Organization, Geneva. Website accessed September
17, 2006.

The Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods in Europe coincide with the period of colonization in what was called the New World. When we admire artistic creations from these periods how can be also remember colonial activities and their implications for everyday life in 2007.

Freeman (2000a 127) describes one of the distant relatives of the 17th century as a fur trader, interpreter and man of public affairs whose influence increased in 1643 with the formation of the United Colonies of New England (Plymouth, Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Haven). His name was connected with almost every Indian transaction on record.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Freeman, Victoria. 2000. Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Freeman, Victoria. 2000a. “Ambassador to the Indians.”Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. pp.127-147.

A tiny community prevented an even greater tragedy by rescuing Queen of the North ferry survivors (March 22, 2006) in their own boats. Months later the hamlet has only met with broken promises. The new search and rescue vessel turns out to be a lifeboat with a putt-putt motor, the upwelling of the 200,000 litres of oil threaten their waters.

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Moratorium on what some call Canadian ‘Blood Diamonds’? De Beers Canada benefit from government stalling tactics on land claims to extract valuable raw resources leaving behind environmental devastation. Many of the 45,000 Cree and Ojibwa in NAN region live in fourth world conditions in post-RCAP Canada. How many more NAN youth will choose suicide? Let’s not forget Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Kash’s still unsolved water problem.
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For more reading check out my Customized Search Engine on Nishnawbe Aski Nation on Swicki

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