Archives for February2019

Regina Urban Treaty Days a reminder of Treaty history

Hundreds of indigenous people flocked to The Gathering Place for the opening day of Regina’s Urban Treaty Days.

From a powwow demonstration to a pipe ceremony, the event was a chance to reflect and recognize Treaty rights signed back in 1874.

“It’s an annual event that celebrates the role of treaty that celebrates the portability of treaty rights and responsibilities for all citizens in and around Regina,” Urban Services manager Erica Beaudin explained.

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The day also included Treaty Annuity payments, distributed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

“It’s really a symbol.”

Vernon Bellegarde, who sits on the board of Regina Treaty Status Indian Services, explained that the small amount of five dollars serves as a symbol of payment.

READ MORE:Regina police and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council sign safety protocol

“When they signed treaty, we got something in return, and today that continues. The treaty rights are really what our people want to maintain,” Bellegarde said.

“There are certain treaty rights that come along with this, and that includes our treaty right to hunt, fish, and trap.”

For indigenous families, the five dollar bill is a physical token of their treaty history and represents more than its face value.

“I think it just means that you’re honouring the treaties that were signed,” Chanai Anaquod explained.

“[My children] were surprised that amount was so low, but I explained to them,” Night Keetness said.

“It’s five dollars a year, then I explained to them it’s been five dollars since the treaties were signed over a hundred years ago,” she said.

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Family of slain hostage Robert Hall backs Canada’s policy not to pay ransom

OTTAWA – Relatives of a Canadian man slain by militants in the Philippines say they agree with Canada’s policy of not paying ransom for hostages.

Robert Hall had been held hostage by Abu Sayyaf since September 2015 and was killed earlier this week after a deadline for a ransom payment passed.

In a statement distributed by the press gallery in Ottawa, Hall’s family says every option to free him was considered and efforts to that end were “vast and exhaustive.”

WATCH: Prime Minister Trudeau confirms Canadian Robert Hall has been executed

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In the end, the family says it agrees with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s directive that money not be paid to hostage takers who seek to undermine fundamental Canadian values.

“Our family, even in our darkest hour, agrees wholeheartedly with Canada’s policy of not paying ransom to those who would seek to undermine the fundamental values with which my father lived his life,” the statement reads.

“We stand with the ideals that built this country: strength of character; resilience of spirit; and refusal to succumb to the demands of the wretched, in order to satisfy the bloodlust of the weak.”

READ MORE: Canada mourns slain hostage Robert Hall, Trudeau says

The family says it will remember Hall as a self-made man who worked his entire life to raise his family above the hardships of his own youth.

Hall was born in Calgary, but lived various places in Western Canada.

READ MORE: ‘Very good’ chance G7 countries will agree to Trudeau’s ransom policy: Canadian rep

His family says he owned and operated many small businesses in his life, from a small engine repair shop to a pizza stand. He spent 25 years building his custom welding business, which specialized in everything from custom truck decks to aircraft repair.

“A romantic to the very core, Robert believed in controlling his own destiny, and that hard work and a desire to succeed were the two main ingredients to any successful endeavor,” the statement reads. “He has been described as a dreamer, which he certainly was, but more than that he was an achiever.”

Outside of business he had a passion for flying, sailing and sports.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama exchange condolences over Orlando shooting, Robert Hall killing

The family says he discovered the Philippines on one of his many trips abroad and called it his paradise on Earth.

“He loved everything about the Philippines. The people, he said, are warm and gracious. He took an active interest in his community and his neighbors, and coached a local soccer team.”

Officials in the Philippines have confirmed that Hall was beheaded.

A militant video obtained by Philippine police officials showed Hall in an orange shirt and kneeling in front of a black Islamic State-style flag before he was killed in a jungle area.

His death came after the killing in April of fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, who was snatched from a marina by Abu Sayyaf along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and a Philippines national last September.

READ MORE: Who was Robert Hall? 2nd Canadian executed by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines

Trudeau has steadfastly refused to entertain the thought of paying ransom to hostage takers. In the wake of Ridsdel’s execution, he said Canada would never pay a ransom for the hostages in the Philippines, and last month persuaded leaders of the other G7 countries to reiterate their opposition to paying ransoms.

On Monday, he repeated that paying ransoms would put more Canadians in danger.

Abu Sayyaf operates mainly in the south of the Philippines, in the western Mindano and the Sulu Archipelago, but staged a major attack in 2004 that killed more than 100 people when militants bombed a ferry in Manila Bay.

In recent years, Philippines security forces have attacked Abu Sayyaf, killing senior leaders and arresting others, but they’ve been unable to end the group’s kidnapping, extortion and terrorist activities.

Saskatoon mayor’s ‘lifestyle choices’ statement disappoints LGBTQ community

Saskatoon Pride Festival co-chair Danny Papadatos said it felt like pride officials had wasted their breath in conversations with Mayor Don Atchison after he read a statement released Monday.

“Any conversations that we’ve worked towards with trying to build a relationship with Mayor Don Atchison have really gone to waste,” Papadatos said.

An initial statement, released from the Saskatoon mayor’s office in the wake of the fatal shooting at a gay bar in Orlando, quoted Atchison as saying “everyone should be safe in our communities regardless of their lifestyle choices, religion or ethnicity.”

READ MORE: ‘Lifestyle choices’ removed from Saskatoon mayor’s statement on Orlando shooting

Just over four hours later, the sentence was amended to read: “members of the LGBTQ2 community, those with different religious beliefs, or ethnicity should be safe in our communities.”

People took to social media to criticize the wording, including city Coun. Darren Hill.

Richard Brown, chief communications officer for the mayor’s office, said the initial news release had a quote he wrote, which was never approved by the mayor.

Brown said his word choice was poor, he takes responsibility and apologizes.

In an interview Tuesday, Atchison also apologized.

“We’ve already said that we’re terribly sorry for what transpired. It was a mistake and that it was rectified immediately,” Atchison said.

“Heavens, I’m sure you’ve made a mistake once in your life and if you haven’t, good for you.”


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‘A bit of a kick in a gut’: Alberta’s oldest vet clinic on facing a 98% tax hike

Many small businesses in Calgary are facing big increases to their property tax bills, but one veterinary clinic says the tax hike it’s facing could send them to the doghouse.

Last January, downtown’s Animal Clinic on 9 Avenue S.W., filed an appeal after their property assessment went up about $1.75 million.

While it has to wait to have that appeal heard next week, Alberta’s oldest vet clinic is now facing a tax hike that it says could cripple the business.

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    “The number is more abstract when you’re assuming what it’s going to be but when you get the actual number, it’s a bit of a kick in the gut,” co-owner and veterinarian Dr. Joe Waldman said.

    The city’s assessment for 2015 came in at about $2.28 million. This year, it was over $4 million.

    But the property tax bill, arriving last week, was the real bone of contention – a 98 per cent increase.

    “I think it’s just unfortunate that there’s sort of a callousness that goes into property assessment that doesn’t take into account things like the benefit that a business can have to a community and the history that business has with the community as well,” Waldman said.

    The city was unable to comment on the matter Tuesday, but Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi suggested that the city should reconsider its model for taxing small business.

    Since it opened in 1941, the surroundings of the Animal Clinic’s now rare one-storey building have undergone a dramatic change.

    “Certainly some developers are looking at opportunities to look at putting up what would appear to mostly be condo towers,” Waldman said.

    The clients have also changed.

    “Now we see dogs and cats only but it used to be a mixed practice and so horses and cows and everything would come down here,” the veterinarian said.“The original veterinarian, Dr. Anderson, used to service most of southern Alberta.”

    Now the clinic services mostly downtown residents – a valuable service for neighbourhoods like Mount Royal, the Beltline, Sunnyside and Kensington.

    While the owners wait for the outcome of the property assessment appeal, they say they’re now facing uncertainty about managing costs and location along with the possibility of losing their loyal downtown clients.

    Editor’s note: This story originally reported the veterinary clinic’s property tax assessment increased by 89 per cent from 2015 to 2016. It has since been corrected to 98 per cent.

Vote on Sicamous school amalgamation delayed

Students and parents in the Sicamous area will have to wait a few more months to find out the fate of two local schools.

The North Okanagan – Shuswap School Board had planned to vote Tuesday night on whether or not to amalgamate Parkview Elementary School and Eagle River Secondary School. The proposal officials are considering would see the elementary school building closed and students of all ages using the secondary school building starting in the fall of 2017.

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School officials had planned to make the decision early so that if the amalgamation went ahead, they would have two summers to update the secondary school and get it ready for younger students.

Read More: Deadline for special report reviewing SD 83’s practices pushed back

However, that vote has now been postponed till after the school district receives a copy of a special advisor’s report on the board’s management.

The provincial Ministry of Education confirmed on June 3 the special advisor had turned in her report to the ministry, but the school district says they have yet to receive a copy.

Read More: Government hires special advisor to review SD 83 board after three trustees resign

A school district spokesperson says a vote on amalgamating Sicamous schools will now likely be held in the fall.

In February, a task force assigned to look at the idea of amalgamating the two schools found it would be an “educationally sound” option.

“The reality is the current school configuration in School District 83 is not sustainable without a significant impact on the education of our students. Under-utilized facilities are costly, and result in cuts to programs that are vital to the academic and social success of our students,” wrote the task force in its report.