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Traditional Knowledge & Language

Lands & Resources

Economic Investment

Social Sector

1990 – 2000

The Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation are administering Local Education Agreements with the public school districts through the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Independent School System Society. Support for Ktunaxa and Kinbasket learners is increasing.

Locally developed curriculum projects are being undertaken to provide better resources to the public and Ktunaxa controlled schools. Language and cultural programming is sorely under-funded, but efforts are being made to develop introductory learning materials for use in classrooms. An multi-year Alternate Funding Agreement provides consistent funding to KKISS for a five-year period, and this means that long-term planning with committed resources can be undertaken for the first time ever.

The KISS makes a presentation to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) during its consultations. The resulting report provides a very good representation of the Ktunaxa perspective on education. The Ktunaxa believe that the education system should serve to build the Nation, one person at a time, on a foundation of cultural knowledge and pride. A Ktunaxa presenter is quoted in the report:

“When we speak of education it is not only meant that the Aboriginal person must become better educated in the non-Aboriginal school of thought. The non-Aboriginal personal must be made aware of our history, our traditional lifestyle and the downfall and resurgence of our peoples as history has evolved today. This information must become a component in the teaching of all Canadians.”[5]

Although an understanding of Aboriginal issues in education is becoming evident, financial and political support for education is not increasing and academic results are still not improving.

The Ktunaxa communities are requesting funding from the Department of Indian Affairs to conduct psycho-educational assessments and other tests on their student population in order to gain a better understanding of the needs of their learners. The results of the assessments indicate a very high rate of learning disabilities among the school-aged population. Further assessment, in partnership with outside agencies, indicates that there is a high rate of potential for fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol affects. Not much is known about this disability at this time.

The NDP government in BC recognizes aboriginal title and it indicates its willingness to begin negotiations. The Ktunaxa immediately begin preparations to participate in whatever new process is established to deal with land claims and aboriginal title.

The Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Independent School System Society receives funding from the provincial Ministry of Health to undertake a community-based pilot project examining Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/E). This project becomes the Community Healing and Intervention Program (CHIP), the first community intervention program in FAS/E of its kind in Canada. The effects of FAS/E are of a magnitude that is unimaginable. The Ktunaxa Nation has, for the first time ever, an understanding of the reality of its human resource capacity. All programs and services must be redefined to acknowledge the unique circumstances of individuals with FAS/E. This will be a focus of the Nation for many, many years to come.

An intense effort is made by the KKISS to provide FAS/E information to all persons and agencies that will likely play a role in the life of an FAS/E individual; a focus is placed on the education and justice systems. FAS/E learners will generally not succeed in the ‘normal’ classroom environment without special considerations required to address their needs. In spite of the demonstrated need, there is no funding for supporting these learners within the provincial special needs funding categories unless they have a secondary disability that is medically diagnosed.

The Kootenay Indian Area Council changes its name to the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council and the member Bands continue to expand the services provided by the Tribal Council.

The Shuswap Band withdraws from the KKISS and establishes an independent learning centre. The Society’s name subsequently changes to KISS (Ktunaxa Independent School System Society). The KISS continues to act as the primary administrative office, advocate, liaison and resource development agency for education within the Ktunaxa Nation.

The Lower Kootenay Band makes the transition from a Band Operated school to an Independent School. KISS and the Lower Kootenay school system support each other’s initiatives regularly. Much progress is made in improving relationships with the public school districts, but federal and provincial policy continues to control First Nations’ education.

The KKTC and KISS participate in provincial and federal education initiatives with enthusiasm and with the continued hope of increasing the success of learners. The First Nations Congress and in turn the First Nations Summit both support education discussions and the Ktunaxa continue to strongly voice their concerns with education at these forums.

The B.C. Claims Task Force makes 19 recommendations to the First Nations Summit, federal government and provincial government, including among the recommendations the establishment of the B.C. Treaty Commission to oversee the treaty-making process.

The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) is formed and the Ktunaxa Independent School System nominates one of the founding members. The Ktunaxa participate in the committee until it becomes evident that the committee’s work is becoming political rather than technical in nature. The KKTC submits a Position Paper to the FNESC, requesting that the group provide communication and technical support to First Nations, and leav politics up the communities themselves.

The FNESC’s focus changes and the Ktunaxa representative becomes very actively involved with the committee work, eventually becoming Chair. The activities associated with this position and their impact on the work of the KISS move the discussion on education in the Ktunaxa communities to governance, rather than programming.

The B.C. Treaty Commission begins to accept claims and the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council file a statement of intent to negotiate with the B.C. Treaty Commission. The Ktunaxa Nation proposes to approach its treaty negotiations from a community development perspective in order to expand capacity while negotiations are taking place and to be prepared for implementation. It is clearer than ever to the Ktunaxa Nation that education is key in supporting the successful negotiation and implementation of a treaty. A capacity building strategy – the Individual Training Plan Process – is implemented to guide human resource development within the Nation.

Education funding is capped along with all funding to First Nations with the introduction of Financial Transfer Agreements by the federal government. The government is caps all funding and will develop a new formula for allocating this funding to the existing programs. Additional costs due to population increases and increases in provincial tuition rates will become the responsibility of the Band under these funding agreements, set for a five-year period. The Bands oppose this new funding regime. These new arrangements will replace all existing funding agreements. Only Bands and Tribal Councils will be eligible for funding under this new regime.

The federal government publishes their response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The government’s ‘Red Book’ is presented as an action plan and includes options for addressing aboriginal issues. These issues are described in four ways: renewing partnerships, strengthening aboriginal governance, developing new fiscal relationships and supporting strong communities, people and economies.

The KISS is no longer be a viable organization under the new funding regime. With the expiration of the Alternate Funding Agreement, the KISS experiences a severe reduction in the amount of funding made available to support education. This funding cut results in the immediate reduction of direct services to students within the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory. The momentum of 10 years of political and technical activity, coordinated by an accountable and conscientious Board and staff, is halted. The KISS begins to transfer the technical capacity to the communities to manage those aspects of education previously administered by KISS.

The KISS coordinates the interests of the Tribal Departments and develops a proposal to address community development following an integrated service-delivery model. This proposal is discussed in draft with federal and provincial representatives. The federal official believes that it is exactly what Gathering Strength is designed to support, however it is not the way the government intends to implement their action plan.

An Interim Measure in Education is prepared and tabled with the Ktunaxa Nation Treaty Table, in response to the reduction of funding for education within the Ktunaxa Nation at such a critical time in the development of the Nation. The Tripartite Table on Education (FNESC, Federal and Provincial governments) supports the idea of pilot projects to research education jurisdiction and the Ktunaxa indicate their desire to participate. The Ktunaxa are awarded funding to carry out a project on jurisdiction in education.

1980 – 1990

The Ktunaxa Nation is one of many First Nations in Canada attending constitutional talks. The National Indian Brotherhood is transformed into the AFN and new energy is found in a united political front. Education is a priority issue for British Columbia First Nations.

The Ktunaxa Nation Land Claim Declaration is presented to Ottawa. The declaration describes the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory and its relationship to the Ktunaxa people. Sovereignty is asserted by the Ktunaxa Nation.

The Constitution Act, 1982 of Canada is passed, with Section 35 reading:

(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.[3]

The Penner Report, which is released by Keith Penner, chair of a House of Commons Committee, urges Ottawa to recognize self-government in the constitution. Like the previous Trudeau White Paper, the report recommends that the Department of Indian Affairs be dismantled; however the paper strongly recommends that self-government be encouraged and funded, as an order of government similar to that of the provinces. The Report didn’t have much impact, but did spark further discussion on self-government and its place within the Canadian society. Bill C-52, the Liberal’s first self-government legislation, would soon follow.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that the Indian Act be amended, as Section 12. 1. (b) is in violation of sexual discrimination clauses. Bill C-31 is passed and many Indian women who lost their status are applying to have it reinstated. This Bill does little to reconnect many families that have been affected by years of discrimination, and communities are feeling the impact of increased populations without the increased funding to provide additional services.

The Kootenay Indian Area Council is organizing most of the political affairs of the Ktunaxa Nation, and is managing many programs to deliver services to its constituents, the members of the Columbia Lake, Lower Kootenay, St. Mary’s, Shuswap and Tobacco Plains Bands.

Court action in British Columbia brings a focus to aboriginal rights and title. Industry and in turn government are concerned about the effect of Indian land claims on business in the province. The B.C. government still does not want to confirm the existence of aboriginal rights and land title in the province.

The Ktunaxa participate in a number of research activities and investigative processes, initiated both internally and by government, to seek resolution to the difficulties being experienced by First Nations learners. Post-secondary funding policies are restrictive and the Master Tuition Agreement continues to hinder the ability of First Nations to impact school district decisions. The lack of control over resources limits the ability of the Ktunaxa to exert their inherent jurisdiction.

The Ktunaxa Nation begins to focus much of its energy on the advancement of education issues, as education is seen as crucial in carrying out community development work. The Nation’s communities are building up capital assets and administering more social development programs, and trained staff and management are needed to support this development. A major economic development initiative is being considered for the St. Eugene’s Residential School site, and individual communities are also embarking on economic development ventures.

In general, the results of Ktunaxa and Kinbasket students in the school system are very poor when compared to those of the system as a whole. This is not a concern of the provincial government; the provincial school system continues to receive federal funding directly on a per capita basis for all status Indian students attending their schools on September 30th of each year, regardless of their educational success or continued attendance. In-school suspensions are a common way of keeping students registered until the nominal roll date passes. Very few Ktunaxa students are reaching graduation with a Dogwood Certificate.

The result of the historical treatment of First Nations is highly visible in the communities; alcoholism and family dysfunction continue to be a major concern. Although alcoholism is being combated through treatment programs, the residual effects of the intergenerational abuse and its associated social dysfunction will plague the communities for many years to come. Almost all of the resources coming into the communities are being allocated to social programs. Economic development can not occur in any meaningful way until social issues are brought to the forefront and the capacity of the communities’ human resources increased.

The new Master Tuition Agreement is to be signed by the federal and provincial governments, much to the dismay of First Nations. There are still very few opportunities for the communities to participate in the public school decision-making process, and funding continues to flow to the districts with no audit process to hold the province accountable for the allocation of these resources to First Nation learners.

The level of funding provided to Band schools does not allow for the provision of services needed to encourage successful learning. The incidence of special needs learners among the Ktunaxa and other First Nations is disproportionately high.

Provincial budgets allocate a targeted fund for aboriginal education, to be used for a number of specific support programs. The 1701 reporting process initiates the grant, as aboriginal students are identified. Again, there are no requests made by the District for input from the First Nations community into the allocation of these resources.

The new federal government publishes the report from the Task Force to Review Comprehensive Land Claims (Coolican Report), which recommends major changes to the current federal policy. Soon changes are introduced which do not require extinguishment of title as a precondition of negotiation.

The Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation are becoming frustrated by the lack of interest given to their concerns by the local school boards. In order to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation, the Kootenay Indian Area Council Bands recommend that the parents from their communities keep their students home from school until the funding deadline of September 30th has passed. This would mean that the districts would not receive funding for Ktunaxa or Kinbasket students. The block rate at this time is approximately $5,000.00 per student. The districts finally agree to discuss education issues with the Bands.

The St. Mary’s Band established a Band Operated school.

The amended Master Tuition Agreement allows local education agreements to be signed between the First Nation and the public school district. The Bands will receive the tuition funding directly and negotiate the purchase of services from the districts locally. The Ktunaxa sign the first Local Education Agreement in the province, with School District No. 3 Kimberley. The other districts serving the Ktunaxa communities follow this lead and a funding agreement is negotiated

The Bands of the Kootenay Indian Area Council form the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Independent School System Society and become a registered Independent School under provincial law. The Society negotiates a funding agreement with the Department of Indian Affairs to allow for the future negotiation of local education agreements. The Society assumes responsibility for aboriginal education within the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory and provides support and resources to both community and public schools.

The Assembly of First Nations (National Indian Brotherhood) publishes their study Tradition and Education, Toward a Vision of Our Future. This report can be summed up in the following statement:

“…deficiencies in existing federal, provincial, and territorial legislation, policies, administrative practices, and programs which affect the education of First Nations students require changes to be consistent with First Nations self-government. Any proposed changes to legislation, policies, procedures and practices must have the approval of First Nations.”[4]

The B.C. First Nations Congress is formed, following a renewed interest in land claims and aboriginal title issues. First Nations recognize the importance of political alliances in addressing this long-outstanding and fundamental issue.

The federal government caps funding for post-secondary education and allocates the funding based on a per capita formula with a block amount per person between the ages of 18 and 34 being allocated to the Bands, rather than an application base as before.

Premier Vander Zalm flies to a blockade at Seton Portage and announces that the province is finally ready to discuss land claims.

A report on post-secondary education for Native learners in the province of B.C. (Green Report) is published. The report was based on four principles, which speak generally to the right of self-determination and self-government and how education supports these processes. The role of government is seen as one of providing accessibility to education, not control over it. The report does have an impact and the province is now considering ways to increase the support to First Nations learners within their post-secondary system. Support for the establishment of First Nations institutions is also demonstrated.

1970 – 1980

The Kootenay Indian District Council is formed to collectively promote the political and social development initiatives of the Ktunaxa Nation.

On the National scene, First Nations have been organizing themselves to better deal with the on-going difficulties facing their communities. Education has become a priority to First Nations. The failure of the residential schools is even more evident when First Nation learners move to the public school system and are compared to other students.

The system still does not recognize that the fundamental problem with the approach to educating Indian children is that they are trying to replace a culture and history that is thousands of years old, with an entirely new and foreign concept of humanity. The ‘facts’ that they are expecting First Nations children to learn are irrelevant in their world, and the information is culturally biased. Self-esteem hits an all time low, as First Nation students clearly are reminded daily that they are different from than the other students.

The provincial government is receiving a block grant from the Department of Indian Affairs for each status Indian student normally residing on reserve and attending the school system on September 30th. This administrative process, referred to as the Master Tuition Agreement, provides for the transfer of these funds to the province from the federal government on behalf of First Nations. Although millions of dollars are transferred annually, First Nations have no say in their allocation or in the services purchased on their behalf.

First Nations are now beginning to assume control over their own schools within their communities. These schools are funded and regulated by the federal Department of Indian Affairs. Their policy suggests that they follow standards comparable to the public school system. The control afforded to communities is limited, as is the funding. The Lower Kootenay Community establishes a Band-operated school.

A Ktunaxa woman is elected as the Area ‘C’ Rural Representative to the Cranbrook Board of School Trustees, a position she will hold for two terms. Education is a major focus of the Ktunaxa Nation and many young people are being encouraged to pursue post-secondary education. Although few learners achieve the qualifications to enter post-secondary training, those that do are generally successful. The capacity of the Ktunaxa Nation to participate in mainstream politics is expanding rapidly and the Nation is highly visible at both the provincial and federal levels.

Occupational Skills Training is considered by the government to be a more relevant education to provide to Indians, and many students are discouraged from entering programs of study that would prepare them for careers in business or social development work. Post-secondary funding is accessible to most students requesting assistance, as the level of students requesting support is low.

Members of local First Nations close down the Vernon Indian Affairs’ office, which serves the Ktunaxa communities, following a sit-in.

The Kootenay Indian District Council becomes the Kootenay Indian Area Council. Education quickly becomes a priority issue. The Bands participate in many reviews and processes over the course of the next few years to state their concerns with regard to education. Curriculum in the public schools within the region does not reflect the local First Nations in any way.

The National Indian Brotherhood adopts the report, Indian Control of Indian Education, which details the experience of First Nations with respect to the education system and makes recommendations on how to improve the situation. The Department of Indian Affairs later adopts the principles of this paper but little is done to improve the situation.

1960 – 1970

Indians are now permitted to vote in federal elections. The Department of Indian Affairs’ offices are located in Vernon and serve both the Kootenay and Okanagan Districts.

The policy of the federal government is now moving towards the integration of Indians into the public or religious day schools and the phasing out of residential schools begins. Fiscal arrangements are being negotiated between the federal and provincial governments to allow for the payment that would have otherwise gone to the Church organization operating the residential school to be now made to the province directly. The Master Tuition Agreement is signed near the end of this decade. The White Paper is also published at this time. This paper, which was introduced by the Trudeau government, recommended the complete dismantling of the Department of Indian Affairs, and the abolishment of the Indian Act. First Nations strongly objected to the recommendations and they were not put into effect.

Alcohol is beginning to have a major impact on the Ktunaxa communities with the newly acquired rights of citizenship opening up access to previously prohibited substances. The breakdown of the once strong family structure caused by the residential school system has had a severe and lasting impact on the Ktunaxa communities. Child abuse and neglect are reported frequently as children are now staying at home and attending day schools. The high alcoholism rate results in high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects in newborn children, a condition unknown to anyone at this time.

Parents are given, for the first time in years, regular custody of their children. Many of them do not have any preparation for this responsibility. Multiple generations of residential schooling have resulted in a loss of traditional child-rearing knowledge and an existence in a cultural void. A lack of opportunities to acquire this skill and knowledge means failure as parents, in the eyes of the Indian Agent and Child Welfare Authorities.

The ‘60’s Scoop’ is the result of years of social isolation and cultural genocide. It is a time when Indian children are systematically removed from their homes and placed in foster care or adopted out permanently. Their parents can’t care for them as society now expects them to be cared for. There are cases of Ktunaxa and Kinbasket children being adopted by parents in foreign countries without the knowledge of their Ktunaxa families.

Some students are still housed at the St. Eugene’s residential school, but the classrooms are no longer operating regularly. The Ktunaxa children from St. Mary’s reserve are bused into the Catholic school in the City of Cranbrook. Parents of these children are to become responsible for overseeing their children’s education for the first time. The public school system is a foreign place to both the children and their parents. Many children are leaving school before graduation.

Curriculum in use in the public schools often reflects a poor image of the aboriginal population of Canada and the general public has little or no understanding of First Nations’ history or culture. Further cultural clashes are apparent and First Nation children are now minorities in their classrooms.

Ktunaxa children are often placed in special needs programming automatically, without cause. Indian Education is administered by the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education. Funding is transferred to the provincial government from the federal government on a per capita basis, regardless of the success or continued attendance of the student. There is no mechanism for accountability to the First Nation. Most Ktunaxa parents do not feel that they have any rights or place in the education system – this is what they have been told and shown for the past 75 years. The education system has not treated Indians well in their representation in curriculum, etc. and the general population has been educated to understand Canadian history from a very one-sided perspective.

The population of the Ktunaxa Nation is now growing dramatically; however, it will later be discovered that the majority of the children being born are fetal alcohol affected. The impact of this reality will prove to be overwhelming in the future.

The Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation are collectively organizing themselves politically to deal with the many issues affecting their communities. Pressure is being put on the Department of Indian Affairs to reduce their interference in community affairs. Inherent jurisdiction is being asserted by many First Nations and civil disobedience is now becoming common. A number of community members have now become formally educated and are politically active at a local, provincial and national level.

1940 – 1960

First Nations are forcefully stating their displeasure with the residential school system and resulting political activity prompts a Special Joint Commission on the Indian Act and subsequent changes in federal policy. Assimilation was the previous goal of federal Indian policy to be accomplished by controlling all aspects of an individual’s life through residential, religious schooling. Once a satisfactory level of civilization was achieved, it was felt that the individual could then be enfranchised or absorbed into the larger society and no longer be of concern to the Crown. However, the process of assimilation was not working.

Then integration of the Indian into mainstream society through public schools became the new focus of federal policy. The new Minister responsible for Indian Affairs, J. Allison Glen, is recommending the retention of ‘native characteristics’ by the Indians, while they work towards assuming the full rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship. This philosophy is to be carried over into law and the Indian Act is amended to allow communities to have greater control over local affairs.

Indians are now permitted to vote in provincial elections and Frank Calder, a member of the Nisgaa First Nation, is elected to the B.C. Legislature.

The Ktunaxa are maintaining their political alliances with the various provincial First Nation organizations, promoting the fair settlement of the ‘Indian Land Question’. The Department of Indian Affairs’ presence is still strong on a local level, but the Ktunaxa community governments are exerting their Indian Act authority to its fullest. Inherent jurisdiction still exists, but the federal and provincial governments do not acknowledge the existence of aboriginal rights in a modern age.

1920 – 1940

As Bill 13 is passed, the McKenna-McBride Commission recommendations become law. While reserve lands are being reduced in size, the Indian Act is amended to make the raising of money or hiring of lawyers by Indians to pursue land claims illegal. This is the law for nearly 20 years. Canadian Indians are not considered to be citizens of Canada, and, as such, can not vote to change government policy.

Many Ktunaxa enlist to fight in the Second World War as a result of encouragement by the Indian Agent. The Department of Defense and the Department responsible for Indian Affairs work together to produce lists of men eligible to fight. On a per capita basis, the Ktunaxa are known as having one of the highest rates of enlisted men among the tribes of Canada. Most Ktunaxa veterans do not receive their veteran’s benefits upon returning home, as other soldiers do. In order to become eligible for veteran’s benefits the First Nation soldiers must first become Canadian citizens and give up their Indian status.

The hereditary system of chieftainship is being converted to an elected system. The Band lists, controlled by Indian Affairs, identify the electorate and the Indian Act describes the voting process. Voting is not a traditional form of decision-making to the Ktunaxa and it interferes with the process of unwinding an issue, through discussion, to arrive at consensus. This traditional process allows for the full understanding of an issue by all concerned and the identification of many options before a decision is made. Voting, by contrast, meant that a few people could make quick, indisputable decisions.

Corruption is beginning to be noticed in community affairs and some Indian Agents and others benefit personally from the management of tribal affairs. The Ktunaxa attempt to control the Indian Affairs politics within their communities; however, the Agent and other government officials retain power over funding and administration of community affairs, for the most part.

Families are noticing a further breakdown in their traditional support structures. Not only is the residential school affecting the immediate family, but the sexual discrimination of the Indian Act is resulting in many women being cut off from community and family life because they marry a non-Indian.

The Columbia River is dammed and thousands of years of socio-economic balance is overturned as the salmon are blocked from returning to many spawning grounds. The Ktunaxa and many other First Nations have depended on this major food source for as long as can be recalled and the traditional lifestyle is now being severely impacted by the assertion of jurisdiction by a new government. Aboriginal rights and the related responsibility to care for the land have been seriously interfered with. The Ktunaxa continue to lobby for settlement of outstanding land and resource issues. The Ktunaxa are promised canned salmon by the government, as compensation (this never happens).

Federal law also allows the government to enfranchise any Canadian Indian, without his or her consent, which means that he can not live or be buried on the reserve. Child apprehension laws are now enforced to compel school attendance. The mental, physical and sexual abuse common within the residential schools is now being felt within the communities, and the strength of family units is further eroded. The reduction of the status Indian population through the introduction of law is a federal goal.

Up until now, federal policy has acknowledged Indian title to land but laws have been created to interfere with this title under a system that is foreign to First Nations. Federal and provincial laws both serve to restrict the access of First Nations to the government’s legal mechanisms and to reduce the number of Indians through assimilation and enfranchisement. The government’s own policy of residential schooling, which is designed to encourage integration into mainstream society, serves to create a culturally void and dependent population.

Many of the traditional Ktunaxa leaders do not speak English well. Authority granted to Band governments empowered by the Indian Act, is in practice, little more than token. The Indian Agent assumes most of the responsibility for community affairs. Indians can not vote in municipal, provincial or federal elections and are slowly becoming wards in their own homelands.

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