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Ontario aims to reassure parents after Quebec schools see 47 cases of COVID-19

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Ontario’s education minister is aiming to reassure parents that his province’s school reopening plan is different than Quebec’s, where 47 schools have at least one case of COVID-19 since opening.

Stephen Lecce reacted Saturday to a report from the Quebec government that showed dozens of schools — including preschool, elementary, secondary and adult career centres — reported one or more infections between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3.

Lecce noted that Ontario has mandated masking in classrooms while Quebec has not, and said more than 600 public health nurses will be stationed in schools this fall.

“We have unique differentiators in this province that they do not,” Lecce said of Quebec. “I wouldn’t draw a parallel. Not all things are equal.”

Speaking at an event in Toronto, Lecce urged parents to actively screen their children for virus symptoms before sending them to school.

With just days to go before classes start at some Ontario schools, the Ford government has faced increasing pressure over its COVID-19 back-to-school plan.

School boards, teachers’ unions and some parents have called on the government to mandate smaller class sizes to ensure physical distancing is possible in the classroom — and provide funding to make it happen.

Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly defended the plan, which he said has been put together with the help of medical experts.

Last week, the government released new guidance on how to deal with potential COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.

It emphasizes prevention and at-home screening, while teachers and principals will be asked to isolate any child that develops symptoms at school.

Public health officials will be given discretion to send entire cohorts of students home from school, or potentially close schools, if they feel that is the best way to manage an outbreak.

In an interview with The Canadian Press on Friday, Lecce didn’t rule out taking further action if the situation in schools changes in the coming weeks, adding that “if a challenge arises, we will be decisive.”

But Lecce would not say what form that action could take.

“Week after week we’ve added more levels of protection,” he said. “Our aim is to prevent that type of disruption … The premier and I have also indicated that we will continue to take action to further improve the safety of our schools based on the advice of the medical community.”

But NDP education critic Marit Stiles said the government has been anything but decisive in its approach to reopening the province’s schools, changing plans regularly and confusing parents and educators alike.

The news out of Quebec will just added to the stress parents are feeling this weekend, Stiles said.

“What I’m hearing over and over is people are very anxious,” she said. “I imagine a lot of people will be talking about this over the Labour Day weekend and maybe revisiting their plans.”

Stiles said Ontario has yet to address key safety concerns about its plan, including the need to physically distance in the classroom.

“Are we as ready as (Quebec)? Is this going to happen here? I really hope not,” she said. “But I do think that the big issue that’s outstanding is the physical distancing part.”

Ontario reported 169 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with Peel Region, Toronto and Ottawa each reporting dozens of new diagnoses.

There were also 106 cases newly marked as resolved in the provincewide report.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 43,003, which includes 2,811 deaths and 38,847 cases marked as resolved.

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Health Minister Christine Elliott said Peel Region is reporting 46 new cases, Toronto has 42 and Ottawa has 30 new cases.

She said 28 of the province’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer new cases.

The province was able to complete 28,672 tests over the previous day.



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Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

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“The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments. In some cases, inaccurate information was provided by the department’s own admission,” Bates writes in the report.

“Some service providers are not following their own department’s legislation and supervisors are not enforcing corrective actions,” she writes. “In bringing this to the attention of directors and deputy ministers, there appears to be complacency and a lack of accountability about this from the top down.

“There is no recognition of the problem, no commitment or follow through for training and adherence to quality assurance measures, and no support to hold those responsible accountable.”

Family Services said 560 young people used its services last year, but the department did not have available data on their ages or what region of Nunavut they lived in. 

The Justice Department did not provide data on how many and what type of child and youth matters were before the courts, or on the number of convictions in crimes against youth last year.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Mark Witzaney, policy and planning director with the Department of Justice, said some of the information requested by Bates was “not consistent with how this information is reported nationally or through (Statistics) Canada.”

“We did not have the ability to do the detailed statistical breakdown and analysis requested by the representative for children and youth by their deadline,” Witzaney wrote.

Health provided the least data of the four departments. It did not provide, among other things, the number of young people who used its services or the number of suicides by age in the last year.

A spokesperson for Health said the department was still compiling data for 2019-2020 when Bates made her request. A ransomware attack on the government of Nunavut last fall caused a backlog in the department’s data entry, the spokesperson said.

The department has since compiled the missing data, except for the number of youth who needed health services.

The Department of Education said in an email that it does not have the resources to collect information on class sizes and doesn’t have a way to note the number of students on support plans. The department also said it does not have a system to formally track violent incidents, but is in the final stage of creating one.

Bates said she’s concerned that the four departments don’t have a full picture of who they serve and therefore cannot adequately provide services.

“How are you making decisions on what services to offer? How are you budgeting to add services? How are you understanding where the gaps may be in services if you’re not tracking that information?” Bates said in an interview.

“Young people and families in Nunavut should be expecting more. They should be expecting more accountability.”

Her report also criticizes Family Services for its response to violence and physical abuse against young people.

“Investigations were inconsistently conducted into these circumstances and steps to reduce the potential risk of further exposure and/or harm to the young person(s) involved were not taken due to a lack of adequate options available for both victims and offenders, or because keeping a family together, despite safety concerns, was prioritized.”

Arijana Haramincic, executive director of Nunavut Family Services, agrees that more could be done. 

“Do I believe that sometimes we’re not using our best judgment, or it hasn’t been used? Absolutely,” Haramincic said. 

“That’s why there’s always improvements, more training and more focus on developing our social workers to be comfortable in making those decisions.” 

The department tracks data manually, which makes it time-consuming to compile regional and age-specific information, she said. 

“I take it very seriously. I look at (the report) and say, ‘Yep, we can do better.’ She’s absolutely right. Our data collection needs to improve.”

The department is working on a way to track client information electronically, Haramincic added. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2020.

___

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press



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‘I waver between awe and sadness.’ How 12 Nigerian-Canadians feel about the #EndSARS uprising and what they would like the rest of Canada to know

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Throughout October, youth in Nigeria have been calling for the end of the country’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Formed in 1992, the security unit has been accused of harrassing, extorting, torturing, killing and sexually abusing Nigerians, especially youth, that has continued even after government officials promised to disband the unit, leading to the uprising #EndSARS. After two straight weeks of protests, on Oct. 20, security forces shot at demonstrators, killing many.

The Star spoke with 11 Nigerian-Canadians about what they have been feeling watching this movement unfold, and what they would like the rest of Canada to know.

Eniola Hu, Toronto, textile designer and digital content creator

Eniola Hu is a textile designer and digital content creator based in Toronto.

The #EndSARS movement is one that I am very proud of my generation for creating and sustaining. It is quite symbolic that it gained this level of momentum a few days after Nigeria’s 60th independence, in the eventful year of 2020. I am in awe of what the Nigerian youth have done.

On the other hand, we unfortunately have an apathetic and sinister government that considers demands for justice an affront and a crime, hence they are murdering and detaining citizens unlawfully. This has been the hardest part for me to swallow. I waver between awe and sadness.

I want people to know that police brutality is one of Nigeria’s countless systemic problems that stems from colonialism.

Due to history, I am often skeptical about Western intervention on African matters. Issues of race and colonial trauma are likely to resurface without resolve. However, an ideal situation to me would be one where the Canadian government can summon the officials responsible to face justice for the lives taken by SARS before and during protests.

Temi George, Toronto, Sales Development Representative, Radio host on @Flight6ix54

Temi George is a sales development representative and radio host on @Flight6ix54 based in Toronto.

On Oct. 20, in Lagos, Nigeria, soldiers opened fire on a group of peaceful protesters who were unarmed, sitting on the ground, holding up Nigerian flags and singing the national anthem. Many lives have been lost and we cannot stand for this any longer. Nigerians across the globe are outraged and we are calling for help from everyone to spread the word about what is going on and help us bring those who have violated and abused human rights to justice.

I would like to see the Canadian government put a visa ban on Nigerian government officials and police heads as well as help us put pressure on the International Criminal Court to bring those who have violated human rights to justice.

Beauty Derosa, Toronto, Owner of Naija Jollof

Beauty Derosa is the owner of Naija Jollof based in Toronto.

I watched DJ Switch’s Instagram live, where you can see the civilians getting shot at while sing the Nigerian national anthem. You can also see them fighting to save a young man’s life. I cried all day from the moment I watched the video all to the next day.

At the point where we are now, it no longer a fight to #EndSARS, it has grown to a full revolution to reform and rebuild the country. We in the diaspora will play our part, we will lend our voice and will damn sure make it loud.

At the last (Toronto) protest, I was there to share food with the people for coming out and encourage them to come out more. I believe that in the ongoing revolution, everyone has to play their part and offer help in their own unique way that is beyond just lending your voice. For me, I can help energize the people by feeding them.

Mita Adesanya, Calgary, communications adviser and singer-songwriter

Mita Adesanya is a communications adviser and singer-songwriter based in Calgary.

There was a groundswell of hope and possibility over the days of the protest. There was peace and co-operation across tribes and religions. There was organization and responsive services. There was food and even fun. It was a Nigeria my generation had never experienced, and it felt like a glimpse of the potential we have always known existed had finally been unleashed.

And then they came.

First it was rumours and disinformation, then it was guns. They knew they needed to traumatize and demoralize another generation to put them in their place. And now we know, in fact, what we have always felt, that our problem has never been our people, it has always been our government — a body entirely dedicated to the subjugation, deprivation, suffering and death of Nigerians by any and all means.

I think what people need to remember is that Nigerians are not asking for anything groundbreaking. The primary ask was to end SARS and to stop police violence so people can literally stay alive. But even the secondary asks are basic — food, water, electricity, roads, education, jobs, emergency services, reduced corruption.

Irene Job, Calgary, Chartered insurance professional

Irene Job is a chartered insurance professional based in Calgary.

#EndSARS was the catalyst for a long overdue cry for reforming our nation. I’m truly happy to see this day in the history of our democracy. Sadly a lot of youth have died for the cause, but their death will never be in vain. This movement is a revolution for Africa, not only Nigeria, but the continent of Africa.

We need the support of the international community. We need our story to be shared with the world. We need more media coverage across Canada. We need the government of Canada to understand that Nigeria and Nigerians are great assets to Canada. Our brothers and sisters back home deserve better and we want to support this historic movement with all that we have.

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Chinedu Ukabam, Toronto, Creative Director/Cultural Programmer of Supafrik

Chinedu Ukabam is the creative director and cultural programmer of Supafrik and is based in Toronto.

I am deeply inspired by the courageous Nigerian youth who have stood up to voice their frustrations with police brutality and bad governance. I think they have finally woken up to their potential to change that nation. I am ashamed of the handling of the #EndSARS protest by the Nigerian government. It took the president more than 10 days to address the country and when he did, he made no mentions of the killing of peaceful protesters by security forces. Nigerian youth are angry. I hope they continue to remain united in their demand for a better Nigeria and not relapse along the incendiary ethnic and religious fault lines that have plagued the country from birth.

The #EndSARS protest is non-political and leaderless by design because the youth have a well-founded fear of leaders being compromised and co-opted by corruption. They made five specific demands for the government to meet and they refused to halt the protest until the changes are implemented because the government has broken its police-reform promises many times in the past.

The Western world usually reacts to human rights violations with economic sanctions or even military intervention. We have seen enough of these to know they don’t work. Economic sanctions will only punish the poor and most marginalized. It is more effective to implement targeted visa restrictions on Nigerian government officials until the #EndSARS demands are met. Any type of direct intervention will only further destabilize the country. Canadians can amplify the message of Nigerian youth and donate to help the protesters. The Canadian government can support Nigerian youth by providing mediators to help ease current tensions and sending independent observers for the 2023 election. The political will of Nigeria’s youth should not be tampered with. Their time is now and they have the right to decide their destiny.

Bola Rahman, Calgary, Human resources professional and filmmaker

Bola Rahman is a human resources professional and filmmaker based in Calgary.

I think the movement has shown us that we are good people. We’ve realized now more than ever that we are powerful, united and our voices can make an impact. I’m extremely proud that the protests have largely been sustained my women. This movement has ignited bigger conversations around government accountability, corruption and the democracy of Nigeria. In two weeks, we saw groups of protesters take charge, create funding, emergency response, helplines, legal aid etc. and our eyes are opened that this country can work if given the chance to.

It’s also painful and heartbreaking seeing a country where citizens exercising their civic duty to protest (are) being shot at and killed. I keep thinking, ‘all we asked for was for the police to stop killing us and the governments response is to send in the military to kill us; use force to oppress and suppress our voices and threaten even more violence.’ After the president’s address Thursday, I don’t think anyone is going to go out to protest anymore. The souls of Nigerians have been crushed, and a sour and painful lesson learned: The government doesn’t care about you or your rights, your life means nothing.

Please don’t try to save the country. International interference anywhere in the world has only made a bad situation worse. Instead, focus on cutting off visas to politicians so they are forced to stay in the country. Speak out online in support of Nigerians, educate yourself on the issues and join Nigerian-Canadians in protests.

Amarachi Chukwu, Toronto, on the territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek, Huron Wendat and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Gender, Feminist and Women studies graduate student at York University

Amarachi Chukwu is a Gender, Feminist and Women studies graduate student at York University in Toronto, on the territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek, Huron Wendat and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

What is happening in Nigeria right now has evoked so many feelings for me throughout its progression. I felt unsurprised based on the Nigeria I have always known, where corruption and abuse of power have been the norm for decades and being stopped by police for money was an ordinary part of existence. I felt rage at every story of brutality, theft, rape, homophobia, profiling shared by people experiencing it daily and resigned to their powerlessness in the face of constant abuse. I unexpectedly felt shocked because a part of me had always felt that some lines would not be crossed, at least while the world was watching, and that illusion was destroyed.

I would like people unfamiliar with the situation to know that #EndSARS is a movement which, while specific to Nigeria, is part of a larger global issue of police brutality, anti-Blackness and state violence and it affects us all no matter where we are. Our freedoms are all intertwined and as people existing in a world filled with injustices, solidarity is necessary in creating liberated futures for us all. It is our responsibility to resist apathy and refuse the privilege of ignorance and learn more and care for each other.

Olawunmi Idowu, Calgary, Founder and director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc.

Olawunmi Idowu is the founder and director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc. and is based in Calgary.

I stand in solidarity with the good people of Nigeria and continue to support the much needed call for reform and accountability. I am utterly disappointed at our unconscious Nigerian leaders who used the military to forcefully intimidate and disrupt the peaceful protesters in Lagos. They have shown no regards to human rights or lives. It’s a shame to witness the massive abuse of power of the leaders and it should finally come to an end. A peaceful protest is an expression of strong disapproval, a demonstration to make our voices heard. It should not result in killing unarmed citizens who are hungry for change in the governing of the country. May the sacrifices of the protesters and supporters not go in vain and to the fallen heroes, may their souls rest in peace.

These peaceful protesters were denied their rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly. This is unacceptable behaviour and the person responsible for ordering the deaths of the peaceful protesters should be charged in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

Udokam Iroegbu, Vancouver, Activist and Community Organizer

Udokam Iroegbu is an activist and community organizer in Vancouver.

I am enraged, but inspired by the action and courage shown by Nigerian youth. The Nigerian Police Force needs to be defunded, with money put toward resources for communities experiencing severe poverty and violent gross negligence.

Canadians should show their support by staying informed, donating, sharing virtual actions, and calling on the Canadian government to lead by example in dismantling and defunding its violent police institutions. Police brutality is a global issue and our elected leaders must do more that point fingers.

Tome Akanbi, Mississauga, Singer/Songwriter

Tome Akanbi is a full-time singer-songwriter based in Mississauga, Ontario.

It’s honestly a very devastating situation, especially being a Nigerian myself, it’s very saddening to see the level of abuse my people have endured from the oppression and corruption that we are still dealing with.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new, it’s just being televised and really seen in the forefront on social media. However, police brutality and bad governance has been a prominent part of our problem in Nigeria for a very long time and if there’s anything that anyone should know, it’s the fact that Nigerians have been suffering for years and there’s been complete injustice towards the people and it did not just happen in 2020.

Mary Asekome, Mississauga, Founder of The Diasporic Nigerian

Mary Asekome is the founder of The Diasporic Nigerian and is based in Mississauga.

It shows that the Nigerian government is really taken us for a ride and they don’t even think that we’re people, or that we’re valid. But when I also look at it from the side of the youth I think it’s beautiful to see. I saw Nigerian youth basically saying, our solution cannot always be to run to Canada or other countries. I saw people who were dedicated to fight whatever systems we have in Nigeria to ensure that Nigeria becomes a livable state for both youth and children both upcoming generations.

Nigerian parents, the older generation, like to call us leaders of tomorrow, but we showed that we were leaders of today.

Angelyn Francis

Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering inequity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: afrancis@thestar.ca



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Government of Canada appoints Federal Special Representative to facilitate discussions between commercial lobster industry and First Nations in Atlantic Canada Français

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OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced the appointment of Allister Surette as Federal Special Representative, a neutral third-party who will communicate with and rebuild trust between commercial and Indigenous fishers. Mr. Surette will gather the different perspectives on the issues, seek to build understanding, and make recommendations to the Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as well as to the public, so parties can move forward toward a positive resolution. 

The Federal Special Representative will begin his work immediately. His initial priority will be to meet with Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq and commercial sector leaders and harvesters to listen to concerns, communicate information, and foster dialogue with the objective of decreasing tensions and preventing further escalation of this conflict.

In the coming weeks and months, the Federal Special Representative will meet with commercial leaders and harvesters in other parts of Atlantic Canada, Indigenous leaders in Nova Scotia and in other parts of Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé region of Quebec, provincial governments, and others as appropriate.

Commercial and Indigenous harvesters have been fishing side-by-side for decades. While work continues with Mi’kmaq communities on implementing their Treaty rights, the appointment of this Federal Special Representative will help all parties gain a better understanding of the issues in the region and will provide advice on ways to repair and continue to improve relationships going forward. Discussions facilitated by Mr. Surette will provide a structured forum to address genuine questions and concerns from those involved, and to foster long-term cooperation.

The right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood is a right stemming from the 1760-61 Peace and Friendship Treaties, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada under the Marshall Decision. The Government of Canada is dedicated to implementing this right.

Much work has been done since the Marshall Decision to advance Indigenous fisheries and implement their Treaty Right, but there is still more to do. Fishing is a main economic driver in coastal communities and we will continue working diligently on a path that ensures a safe, productive, and sustainable fishery for the benefit of all harvesters.

Quotes

“Commercial and Indigenous harvesters have been fishing side-by-side for decades and we need that to continue. You have shared the wharves, and we must find a way to share the resource as well. While the Government continues to work directly with the Mi’kmaq, nation-to-nation, this structured forum, led by the well-respected Allister Surette, provides the right environment to ensure all voices are heard throughout the process. A peaceful resolution is achievable, and this will strengthen our fisheries and our communities.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“It has been over 20 years since the Marshall decision reaffirmed the right of the Mi’kmaq to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. This story started in 1760-61 when the Crown signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Mi’kmaq people. We need to uphold and implement the spirit and intent of these Treaties which will be done in partnership. We continue to work with Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, including through the Recognition of Indigenous Rights tables, on nation-to-nation conversations to implement Treaty rights and their visions of self-determination. Mr. Allister Surette will support this continued work by listening to Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers about their concerns and how we can all continue to walk the shared path of reconciliation.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“It is with great humility and enthusiasm that I begin my work as Federal Special Representative. I will be listening carefully to the concerns of the treaty nations whose rights were affirmed in the Marshall decisions, as well as stakeholders in the fisheries sector. I look forward to creating a forum for respectful dialogue so that, together, we can move forward.”

Allister Surette, Federal Special Representative

Quick Facts

  • The 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision affirmed a treaty right to hunt, fish, and gather in pursuit of a “Moderate Livelihood” based on the 1760-61 Peace and Friendship Treaties. There are 35 Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy First Nations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the Gaspé region of Québec who are affected by the Marshall decision
  • The Marshall Response Initiative provided affected First Nation communities with licences, vessels and gear in order to increase and diversify their participation in the commercial fisheries and contribute to the pursuit of a moderate livelihood for First Nations members.
  • The Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, launched in 2007, provides funding and support to Marshall communities to build the capacity of their communal commercial fishing enterprises and to strengthen community economic self-sufficiency.
  • Additionally, Fisheries and Oceans Canada began in 2017 to negotiate time-limited Rights Reconciliation Agreements on fisheries and in 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada signed two Rights Reconciliation Agreements with the Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations (two Mi’kmaq communities in New Brunswick); and the Maliseet of Viger First Nation (Quebec).
  • Nation-to-nation Rights Reconciliation Agreement negotiations between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Indigenous communities impacted by the Marshall decision in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec are ongoing.
  • The Government of Canada is working with Indigenous groups at over 150 discussion tables across the country to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination. These discussions represent more than 500 Indigenous communities, with a total population of nearly one million people.

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Biography – Allister Surette

Mr. Allister Surette has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Université Sainte-Anne since July 1, 2011.

Born and raised in West Pubnico, N.S., Mr. Surette has intimate knowledge of the importance of fisheries to the people who live in Nova Scotia and other parts of Atlantic Canada. He is deeply aware of the historical and current nature of the relationships among the residents of Nova Scotia, including First Nations and commercial fish harvesters.

He was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1993, representing the riding of Argyle. He held several political offices until 1998, including senior roles such as Minister of Human Resources and Acadian Affairs. During his tenure as Minister, Mr. Surette oversaw successful negotiations between the provincial government and various Nova Scotia unions to reach final contract agreements.

From 1998 to 2003, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Collège de l’Acadie, Nova Scotia’s only French-language community college. Upon his arrival in 1998, Mr. Surette oversaw the adoption of a new strategic direction and new operational structure, in order to better position the Collège for the 21st century.

Beginning in 2000, Mr. Surette played a key role in the creation and development of today’s Université Sainte-Anne. In 2003, he was named Université Sainte-Anne’s VP Development and Partnerships, a position he held until his nomination as President and Vice-Chancellor in 2011.

Mr. Surette has previously acted as a facilitator to resolve conflicts between parties in the fisheries, including the lobster fishery. In December 2003, Mr. Surette was appointed facilitator by the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead discussions between herring fishers from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, as well as the provincial governments of these two provinces, in order to seek solutions to the conflict in the herring fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. And, in March of 2006, again appointed by the Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Surette facilitated an independent process to resolve a dispute between fishers from Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands regarding lobster fishing on MacLeod’s Ledge.

Mr. Surette has served in various capacities on numerous committees and boards including the Organizing Committee of the 3rd Congrès mondial acadien, the Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse, the Western Regional Enterprise Network, the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, the Board of Directors of Landscape of Grand-Pré Inc., the Board of Directors of Assumption Life, and the Réseau des cégeps et des collèges francophones du Canada.

He is currently the Co-Chair of the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne, Chair of the Fondation canadienne pour le dialogue des cultures, Chair of the Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse, and Chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities.

Mr. Surette graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Education from Saint Mary’s University in 1984.

BACKGROUNDER

Role of the Federal Special Representative

The role of the Federal Special Representative (FSR) is to facilitate open communication as a neutral third party with the aim to rebuild trust and cooperation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters. The FSR is a dedicated, neutral, and senior third-party official to whom both parties can direct their concerns.

The FSR will begin his work immediately. His initial priority will be to meet with Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq and commercial sector leaders and harvesters to listen to concerns, communicate information, and foster dialogue with the objective of decreasing tensions and preventing further escalation of this conflict.

In the coming weeks and months, the FSR will continue to meet with Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq leaders and harvesters and commercial sector leaders and harvesters. In addition, the FSR will meet with Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey (Maliseet), and Peskotomuhkati in other parts of Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé region of Quebec, commercial leaders and harvesters in other parts of Atlantic Canada, provincial governments, and others as appropriate. The intent of these meetings will be to:

  • gather the different perspectives on the issues contributing to the current situation;
  • seek to build understanding and find common ground that will reduce tensions; and
  • identify opportunities to improve relationships and reach a lasting solution moving forward.

Specifically, the FSR will:

  • be available to lead or attend meetings with implicated parties;
  • engage in dialogue with the various parties, ensuring all sides are heard;
  • regularly brief the Government of Canada on key findings; and
  • prepare two reports, which will be provided to the Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and of Crown–Indigenous Relations, as well as to the public.

The FSR will produce an interim and final report. The final report will include key findings related to the Indigenous–commercial sector relationship in Atlantic Canada and recommendations for how best to move forward with the implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood for the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey (Maliseet), and Peskotomuhkati in the region. The FSR will also provide strategic advice to the Ministers of Crown–-Indigenous Relations and of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, about how the Government of Canada can best engage stakeholders on the broader implementation of Indigenous rights and reconciliation agenda going forward. 

Dialogue with the FSR will not replace ongoing negotiations the Government of Canada is having with First Nations through Rights Reconciliation Agreement negotiation tables, nor will it replace opportunities for Indigenous leaders or the commercial sector to meet with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The FSR is not a Government of Canada employee and will act independently of the Government of Canada. The FSR does not have the authority to undertake a Nation-to-Nation negotiating role or a duty to consult role, nor is it within his authority to provide policy or operational advice related to fisheries science, management, or enforcement or public safety.

 Stay Connected

SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada

For further information: Jane Deeks, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, 343-550-9594, [email protected]; Media Relations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-990-7537, [email protected]; Emily Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, 819-997-0002; Media Relations, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-934-2302, [email protected]

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http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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