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BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.

ca

1. To start, I would like to say Miigwetch to the Committee1 for inviting me here and to the Southeast Tribal Council for getting me here. 2. My name is Joan Jack and I have the privilege of serving my people as a part of the Berens River First Nation Chief & Council. My Portfolio on Council is Health, Social and Child & Family Services. 3. I left Berens River in a light snow storm on a 206 two days ago to get here! 4. On a personal note, I am the mother of six, or maybe 7, or maybe more if you count all the children who my husband and I have loved over the last 20 years. 5. I am a survivor of domestic violence, which I suffered through in my 20s. Different husband! Sometimes leaving is the answer. 6. I am also a lawyer and Member of the Manitoba Bar. 7. I ultimately stand here as an indigenous women to assert our rights as indigenous women in an indigenous context. 8. Before I continue, I want to apologize from my heart as I will surely offend someone and, while that is not my intent, I invite you to make peace with me later. 9. I dont know how many of you realize that its welfare day today and for sure in Berens River will be abused tonight. But, she probably wont leave because the solutions to why we are violent, and why we tolerate violence, are not as simple as just leaving and dividing our poverty when you live on an isolated reserve.
1

Standing Committee on Status of Women, Canada


Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 1 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

10. When I was invited a short time ago, I began downloading documents to review and realized I was causing a clear-cut, so I stopped. 11. Instead, I looked to see what other First Nation women in leadership were saying and found that on March 9th, 2007, Wendy Grant-John submitted a Report of the Ministerial Representative Matrimonial Real Property Issues on Reserves through the Native Womens Association of Canada. 12. I found that Wendy said The Ministerial Representatives key recommendation respecting a legislative option is a concurrent jurisdiction model in which First Nation jurisdiction over matrimonial real property including dispute resolution would be immediately recognized and take paramountcy over any conflicts with federal or provincial law. Wendy went on to say The viability and effectiveness of any legislative framework will also depend on necessary financial resources being made available for implementation of non-legislative measures such as prevention of family violence programs2 13. And, I thought, I agree! Why isnt this legislation coming out of section 35 as concurrent jurisdiction? Maybe it cant be done?

Grant-John, Wendy, Report of the Ministerial Representative Matrimonial Real Property Issues on Reserves, pp. 2/3.
2 Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 2 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

14. But, Im not going to get into legal intellectual gymnastics here even though its tempting because it is welfare day back home and our people, my people are suffering, our families are suffering. 15. We are suffering because we continue to resist colonization and assimilation by staying and living in terrible living conditions because we love our land. We love Berens River. 16. For us, the majority of our people live on-reserve and more would come home if there were opportunities. 17. So, we live without proper housing, water/sewer, roads, and the list goes on and on. We must stop coping with alcohol and drugs. 18. But, what makes me the saddest is that apparently the majority of Canadians cant figure out why we just dont all move to the cities and get a job! 19. Well, we have moved to the cities and in the face of racism and a lack of skills and education, we turn to crime as a source of income and have started gangs as a means of economic security. 20. Instead of working with us through legislation that implements concurrent jurisdiction out of s.35, the federal government has cut funding to family violence programs, language programs, health programs, healing programs. 21. Basically no matter how many of us die, and we are dying, all the ways in which we might continue healing and recovering from colonialism and replaced healing and education with a suite of legislation and goodness knows who will understand or implement these solutions!

Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 3 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

22. What federal department will administer this legislation? 23. Which court will administer this legislation? The court that flies into Berens River? 24. Where will the Berens River First Nation get the money to develop and implement its own laws? 25. If the legislation is out of s. 91(24), which it is, then it is subject to the Minister of Indian Affairs (sorry, no one back home knows the new name). 26. We as, Indian Act Chiefs and Councils, will the administrator the law we develop in accordance with the rules set out in this legislation and administer that law under the Minister of Indian Affairs and become First Nation municipalities. 27. Just as there is Municipal Law subject to the provincial law, our laws will be subject to federal jurisdiction. 28. I dont think this is what Wendy meant by concurrent jurisdiction. 29. This legislation is another clear and deliberate step towards the creation of municipal governments subject to federal power. 30. Thats not what Wendy said was the solution! 31. Id guess today, that only about 10% of First Nations governments, and thats generous, have been able to muster their own strength again sufficient to recover from the cultural genocide of the residential and day school assimilation policy to kill the Indian in the child.

Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 4 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

32. What I think is going on is that First Nation governments without Treaties are, again in my view, seeing the municipal solutions as a transitional solutions to ensure that more Indian money doesnt get transferred to the provincial governments and away from their people. 33. I would say, honestly with deep respect, that these First Nation governments are all located near urban centers where they have property that is actually worth money. 34. For the rest of us the 90% who dont live near urban centers, we mostly live in mouldy old, over crowded houses that are the cause of much of the domestic violence and low education scores. 35. Dont get me wrong, there is no excuse or justification for domestic violence, but if the federal and provincial governments really wanted to help First Nation women and children on reserve they would work cooperatively with us to provide more housing period. 36. Lets just start with houses that dont mould and see how that affects domestic violence. 37. Yes, many, many First Nation women stay in abusive relationships because they simply dont want to leave the house as there is no other house to go to and the husband doesnt want to leave the house either as where is the house that he would go to? 38. However, I know there are many, many more First Nation women that love their husbands or common-law spouses and just want the violence to stop. They do not want to leave. They want to heal. They want to heal with their spouses and children as a family.
Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 5 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

39. This push for legislation out of s. 91(24) and not s. 35, in my opinion, is about the money and the continued assimilation policy that equals economic development through legislated racism. 40. The federal and provincial governments continue to tell us - You must do things like me = you must create law like mine = you must be like me. 41. Like a spruce tree is not a pine tree, I am not you. 42. In the meantime, the federal government says, we will have our provinces take care of your women, children in their mouldy overcrowded houses without running water/sewer and we will help them if they want to leave. 43. When I was first elected to the Berens River C&C, I sat in the Court in Berens River and watched our people, my people, paraded through the system with an average of 5 minutes facetime with their legal aid lawyer month after month remand after remand. 44. Then they breach. Then they are sent to jail. Then they are flown home only to be remanded again. 45. One month a young mother brought her new born to court to show the baby to the father who was handcuffed as the baby was obviously born between his charges and his breach. So sad. 46. And, if this legislation goes through, and there are some women on reserve that want to access justice, how are they supposed to do that? 47. At present, women who are being forced under Family Maintenance rules through Welfare are told to file for support but they have to go to Winnipeg to get a lawyer!
Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 6 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

48. So, there is no way in my mind that we can call what is happening in the rural, remote and isolated fly-in community circuit courts anywhere in Canada justice or even access to justice. 49. Our young men, and even some older men, plead guilty to get it over with, do their time, learn how to be better criminals and then are back home with a new skill set! 50. What I see with my own eyes everyday is our people suffering from the depression caused by ongoing ethnocide, which leads to alcoholism - and alcoholism is a disease - are being punished for having a disease. 51. Thats like saying to people with diabetes who eat donuts - you are not eligible for dialysis when your kidneys fails because you ate donuts so our solution is to punish you. 52. Its sad to see your own people, your young people, paraded through the court like animals with no hope trapped. 53. And, its sad to see the federal government ignoring us and pushing for these solutions that are still based on assimilation that results in legislated racism. 54. I could be wrong, but I think that all the consultation, for the most part, in urban centers and those of us living on reserves within even an hour from urban centers often do not have access to these urban forums. 55. When I told people at home why I was coming to Ottawa, even saying the words matrimonial real property out loud sounded ridiculous, as the idea is so out of context!

Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 7 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

56. But Im here anyways because we, as the indigenous peoples collectively and individually, are the legal constitutional rights holders. 57. To that end, Berens River First Nation has not delegated any authority to any aboriginal provincial or territorial political organization (PTO) to conduct consultations on our behalf on this or any other matter. 58. The PTOs are not governments and the SCC has clearly established that the duty to consult and accommodate is owed to us, on the ground in our homelands, as the constitutional rights holders. 59. And, we are not stakeholders as the federal and provincial governments continues to call us. 60. Furthermore, the legal philiosphy underlying Bill S-2, or all Canadian law for that matter, focuses on the individual, hence the Best Interests of the Child, as compared to the collective, or the Best Interest of the Family. 61. We are inherently a family/clan oriented people. Its still in our blood. Thats why we leave work when our family needs us and our employers stand there scratching their heads. 62. Canadian law, including Bill S-2, makes the typical mistake of focusing on protecting children as the solution. 63. I believe that when we protect the family help the family heal, the child is safe and the community and nation grows strong together.

Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 8 of 9

BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION BOX 131 BERENS RIVER, MB R0B 0A0 jjack@berensriver.ca

64. This legislation, like all other legislation based on individualistic values, creates situations where the objective of protecting our children becomes an economic development industry for those purporting to help us on all sides; regardless of good intentions that is the result administrative growth. 65. Instead, we should focus on the health of the family these people have chosen to be together have chosen to have children together maybe if they didnt have such a miserable life mouldy house with barely potable water and substandard education combined with no jobs they wouldnt turn to the alcohol and drugs for comfort that results in the addictive behaviour causing family violence. 66. This legislation will not end family violence. Not in Berens River anyway. What is needed is healing.

Prepared by: Councillor Joan Jack, LLB 05.01.13 Page 9 of 9