Aboriginal Healing Foundation


On behalf of the women who took part in the Sit-In at Chuck Strahl’s office today, committing to stay until funds are renewed to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, I would like to correct most of the media coverage I have seen so far that has called us “Native Protesters.” We are, in fact, non-Native solidarity protesters who believe that every resident of Canada has a stake in seeing strong, community-based organizations that promote the health and recovery of Aboriginal communities that have survived the Residential School...

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Peaceful protesters are demanding reinstatement of funding to Aboriginal Healing Foundation At 12:50pm on Monday, March 29th RCMP officers arrested six women who were peacefully refusing to leave Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl’s office until he pledged to restore funding to the Aboriginal Health Foundation. The sit-in began at 12:05pm. “By cutting the funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and having us arrested for protesting these cuts, Harper is denying effective services to thousands of residential school survivors,” said Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of the Montreal-based grassroots group Missing Justice. Rolbin-Ghanie was among those arrested. “Harper and Strahl’s budget cuts affect 134 organizations across Canada, including the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal,” said Monica van Schaik, another Missing Justice member who was arrested. “That Strahl would have us arrested less than an hour after our sit-in began shows that this is something he doesn’t want the public to talk about,” van Schaik added. “It’s been less than two years since Prime Minister Harper’s apology to survivors of the residential schools, yet the Conservative government is ready to shut down programs specifically aimed at helping the healing the Prime Minister spoke about,” Rolbin-Ghanie said before her arrest. * Contacts: Dru Oja Jay: 514 515 4693 Bianca Mugenyi: 514 Other contacts (not involved in the planning of this action): The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (Lou Ann Stacey): (514) 933-4688 Nelson House Medicine Lodge (Ed Azure): (204) 679-1003 The Aboriginal Healing Foundation:...

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, March 29, 2010 Six women sit in at Indian Affairs Minister’s office: pledge to stay until Conservatives restore funding to Aboriginal Healing Foundation OTTAWA – Today at noon six women began a peaceful sit-in in the Minister of Indian Affairs’ Chuck Strahl’s Ottawa office in the Confederation Building to protest the Conservatives’ cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) and to demand restoration of the funding. Supporters are holding a rally outside. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is a non-profit, Aboriginal-managed agency which supports community-based healing efforts addressing the intergenerational legacy of abuses from the residential school system. “It’s been less than two years since Prime Minister Harper’s apology to survivors of the residential schools, yet the Conservative government is ready to shut down programs specifically aimed at helping the healing the Prime Minister spoke about,” says Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of Missing Justice, a Montreal-based grassroots organization. The Conservative budget did not renew funding to the 134 AHF-supported healing projects across the country, forcing many organizations to shut down as of March 31, 2010, when the cuts take effect. “Strahl says the government will support residential school survivors in other ways, but these cuts will jeopardize many vital programs and interrupt all the progress being made towards health and well-being,” says Nakuset, the Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter in Montreal, which will lose a third of its funding and be forced to cut three employes, including a sexual assault counselor. An evaluation commissioned by the federal government in December 2009 found that no other existing programs could match the AHF’s rate of success. They also applauded the organization’s fiscal management.[1] “The Conservative government is letting down thousands of survivors and their children and grandchildren suffering inter-generational trauma,” says Bianca Mugyenyi, a member of Missing Justice. “The situation is desperate enough to call for a peaceful sit-in, since open letters, petitions, lobbying and a resolution passed by the Nunavut government have not succeeded in restoring the funding.” The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is prohibited from engaging in advocacy by its Funding Agreement. – 30...

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The Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) was established in 1998, with a one-time grant of $350 million from the federal government, and was given a mandate ”to encourage and support, through research and funding contributions, community-based Aboriginal-directed healing initiatives which address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s IRS System, including intergenerational impacts.” [1] Less than two years after Prime Minister Harper’s apology for the Canadian government’s role in administering the IRS System, AHF funding was eliminated in Canada’s 2010 Budget, crippling 134 Foundation-funded healing projects across the country. [2] In many cases, organizations will be forced to close their doors as of March 31st, 2010 when the cuts take effect. $199 million was promised to address the legacy of residential schools in the 2010 Budget. None is being committed to the AHF. Half is going to Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, and half to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), which provides monetary payments to former IRS students. Among the organizations that will be affected by the cuts is the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM). The Shelter will lose one third of it’s funding, and three employees will lose their jobs, including a Sexual Assault Counsellor. A 2009 report on the evaluation of the AHF undertaken on behalf of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) concluded that “there is presently no equivalent alternative that could achieve the desired outcomes with the rate of success that the AHF has achieved.” The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is prohibited from engaging in advocacy by its Funding Agreement. The 134 projects to have their AHF funding cut: http://www.ahf.ca/pages/download/28_13395 A petition demanding that the AHF’s funding be reinstated: http://www.petitiononline.com/fundAHF For more info, see: http://www.ahf.ca/ Residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada date back to the 1840s. The last school closed in 1996. 139 is the official number of residential schools that have been located across Canada, though there were other, smaller schools run by religious orders which are harder to find information about. The purpose of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools (IRS), which separated Native children from their families, was infamously described as “killing the Indian in the child.” It is estimated that nearly half of the children originally enlisted in the schools died of malnutrition and disease. [1] http://www.femmesensante.ca/resources/show_res.cfm?ID=40010 [2]...

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There was a Q&A period between Michael Ignatieff and various representatives of women’s orgs in Montreal today, a Women’s Policy meeting. He was basically spouting a lot of @##%^^ about a lot things: how Canada has been standing by Haiti for decades, how Canada is a leading example in terms of peacekeeping, etc. I tried to ask a question numerous times, but was not called upon. A couple of questions were asked about First Nations women, one of which was by Nakuset, executive director of the NWSM (Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal) asking that Ignatieff bring the Shelter’s case to parliament, because if the funding cuts take effect (starting March 31st), than 3 key employees at the Shelter will lose their jobs, 2 of which are Native women, and many women will lose access to the services now provided. The Shelter has been receiving funds for the last 10 years and did not expect them to be cut at all. They found out about the cuts by looking on the budget website. Basically what the Harper government has done is massively cut the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), which accounts for about a 1/3 of the funds that the NWSM requires to provide services to Native women in Montreal. Not only is this huge, but as a result of across-the-board cuts to the AHF, 134 community projects across Canada will no longer provide cultural healing services to Indigenous people. Ignatieff said he would bring up the NWSM’s request to reinstate their funding at parliament next week. But–he also said that he would not call for a public inquiry into the hundreds of unsolved cases; instead, he said he supported a “national investigation” that would better provide individual families with forensics information. When asked if that meant he did not believe an actual inquiry was necessary to look into the endemic racism present in Canadian society, he said only that he was ashamed that there are over 500 of such cases in Canada. I interviewed and spoke to Nakuset after the event, and will be in touch with her again in the near future. March 31st is very soon, and if the NWSM does get their funding back (fingers crossed that they do!), there are also 134 other orgs facing the same loss. I am thinking: Emergency Demo, denouncing the government’s hypocrisy (The $199 million promised to address the legacy of residential schools has not been committed to the AHF, and similarly, the $10 million ambiguously allotted to addressing the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women has not been committed to NWAC’s Sister’s in Spirit campaign, to my knowledge). I...

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