zoom The EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA), considered by many observers as the most advanced and comprehensive free trade agreement in recent history, has received the supprt of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee.“Today’s vote on the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA) in the Environment Committee has a showed that the pro-trade coalition in the European Parliament is on a solid footing,” the Danish Shipowners’ Association said.While the Rapporteur Bart Staes (Greens EFA, Belgium) has opposed any support for CETA, a wide coalition of the four party groups – EPP, ECR, ALDE and S&D has maintained that CETA is “the most modern and progressive trade agreement the EU has ever negotiated and voted to support to agreement.”“Discussions in the European Parliament have been very intense, especially on the environmental chapter where the criticism has been largely unfounded. In our opinion, CETA will not only secure that we uphold high European standards, but also show continued commitment to a constructive and mutually beneficiating trade policy between two large trading partners,” Simon C. Bergulf, Director EU Affairs for the Danish Shipowners’ Association, said.“Specifically, the Danish Shipowners are pleased with the ambitious maritime chapter included in the agreement. This will open new opportunities for Danish export companies in Canada,” Bergulf added.The agreement will now have to be adopted in the International Trade committee (INTA) on the January 24. A final vote at the plenary is expected in February.If endorsed, CETA can be provisionally applied, with some of the contentious elements, including the investment court system, to enter into force only once all Member States finish their ratification process.
APTN InFocus with Cheryl McKenzie:In this edition, Inuk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Sheila Watt-Cloutier shares why climate change is eroding Inuit culture with her new book, The Right to Be Cold.We also bring you highlights from The Walrus Talks – Arctic.Watch Inuk artists, Tanya Tagaq and Ruben Anton Komangapik share their perspective on the Arctic and what motivates them to keep creating new and vibrant works of art through the land and sound.
(Lynne Courchene and Jean-Paul Allard are behind an Ontario human rights complaint. Photo courtesy of the family)Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsOntario’s Ministry of Education is battling an Ottawa family before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal who filed a complaint aimed at banning the use of clothing depicting Indigenous stereotypes in schools across the province.The complaint was filed this past December by Jean-Paul Allard on behalf of his eight year-old daughter Isabela Courchene. The case is headed for mediation on September 7. The complaint alleges the Ministry of Education is discriminating against Indigenous students by allowing the use of clothing that stereotypes their culture or displays racial slurs.Allard, an educational assistant with the Catholic School Board in Ottawa whose wife Lynne Courchene is from Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, said allowing the use of clothing depicting Indigenous stereotypes or slurs contravenes the province’s Safe Schools Act, which guarantees a safe learning environment for all students.“What is there to mediate? There is Bill 81, the Safe Schools Act, which clearly states that all members of the school community are supposed to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Allard. “I don’t see how allowing students to wear clothing that has the stereotypical images of First Nations or a slur on it like ‘Redmen’ or ‘Redskins’ is in line with that policy…. Either you are offering First Nations students equal protection under these laws or you’re not.”Ontario has asked the tribunal to dismiss the complaint arguing it is up to individual school boards to set policies around clothing.“The ministry is not liable for the operational decisions of individual school boards or schools. School boards, not the ministry, are responsible for ensuring their own compliance with the (Human Rights Code),” said Ontario’s submission before the tribunal. “Including imposing any limits on wearing clothing displaying Indigenous themed team mascots, logos or names in their schools that are required to comply with the Code.”Ontario’s submission also stated Education Minister Mitzie Hunter wrote the chairs of Ontario’s school boards on Jan. 18 requesting they review potentially offensive team logos and mascots with local Indigenous “partners.” That same day, the ministry’s deputy minister wrote the province’s directors of education to do the same, according to the submission filed in March.Courchene said it is up to the provincial ministry to set the standard and the issue is one of fundamental human rights.“We want to be treated equally as any other minority group. Our kids deserve that and they deserve to go to a school where there is no disrespect and they’ll feel welcomed going in,” said Courchene. “We want a ruling that…says we are going to ban all the clothing accessories and the names of teams that are offensive to people…. The only way that actual reconciliation can truly happen is through children and teaching them from a young age that it is not acceptable.”(Isabela Courchene, 8. Photo courtesy of the family.)Courchene said she decided to act on the issue in November 2015 when she was out shopping with three of her four children in an Ottawa suburb and crossed paths with a children’s hockey team from Sudbury, Ont. The players were all wearing their red team tracksuits with a TD Bank trademark, a logo resembling the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks along with their team name: Copper Cliff Redmen.“It was so normal, so ingrained in people that no one took a second glance at what was said on their shirts. It is so ingrained in society that there is nothing wrong with this,” said Courchene. “There is no problem with Aboriginal people being used a mascot or a stereotype and that sort of proves it right there.”Courchene said she has written support from several First Nations in Ontario, but is waiting for permission to release their names.The band council from the Iroquois community of Six Nations, which has the largest population of any reserve in Canada, passed a motion last September supporting the human rights complaint.Courchene said she is still working on building more support.“We want to raise enough awareness so (Ontario) can’t turn around at mediation and say it’s only us,” she said. “We are trying to overwhelmingly show them that this is not the case. If we are armed with other First Nations saying that they don’t agree with this and they don’t think that it is okay and they want this to be changed, then we are hoping when (Ontario gets) there they will see that and they won’t be able to wiggle out of it.”[email protected]@JorgeBarrera
Tom FennarioAPTN NewsOn a cold, snowy Wednesday in Montreal, Marlene Hale finds herself huddled outside with two dozen activists who are hoping to get a word in with Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna who was in the city to make an announcement.“What is she doing to protect the environment as a minister?” said Hale when asked what she was going to put to McKenna.“I would like for her to really, really take a second look at many things, not just oil and gas but the coal that is going into Telkwa region B.C. north.”Hale wasn’t always politically active.She’s a chef by trade.But that all changed earlier this month when the RCMP raided an anti-pipeline camp on the Wet’suwet’en woman’s territory.“I was just innocently making bannock, and serving it,” said Hale of January 7 – the day 14 people were arrested at the Gidimt’en camp in British Columbia. “and all of a sudden the world just changes on a dime.”Having spent the last seven years living in Montreal, Hale felt compelled to contribute to the anti-pipeline struggle back home even though she lives thousands of kilometres away.So she’s taken it upon herself to chase after the upper echelons of the federal government.Hale has already had success speaking to high level government officials.Hale was able to ask questions on behalf of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to Justin Trudeau at a recent town hall in Saint-Hyacinthe QC last Friday.“I was nervous,” said Hale. “I was the second to last question, I didn’t know if I was going to get picked to ask it.”When her opportunity arrived, Hale pressed Trudeau on what she called a flawed consultation process with her people.“The Wet’suwet’en have demonstrated in the Supreme Court over and over again that the hereditary chiefs are the decision makers on our land,” Hale asked Trudeau “Yet you tout the agreements with the federal band councils as a victory for this enormous project.”Trudeau’s response agreed that the consultation process needs to be improved.“We need to support you in the creation of a process that will bring those voices together in a unified process so that we can seek consent for energy projects,” replied Trudeau “What we’ve seen this past week is the fact that the processes we have right now are not yet the right processes.”Hale says she appreciates the way Trudeau took the time to respectfully answer her questions, although she thinks that he fails to understand that in the opinion of many Wet’suwet’en, it’s only the consent of the hereditary chiefs that matter.As for McKenna, Hale didn’t get a chance to speak with the minister personally, but one of the activists she is working with will attempt to read a statement on her behalf.“Suddenly everybody knows that I’m the only Wet’suwet’en in Quebec, but that’s okay, I’m just here to spread the message, to spread the word, spread my culture and my people and the fight we have ahead of us.”Hale isn’t sure what the next move will be, but she’s not intending to stop until the pipeline issue on her territory is over. Even if it means putting bannock baking on [email protected]@tfennario