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Senate rights committee in town to hear concerns of First Nations people

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Canada’s Senate committee on human rights is in Winnipeg Tuesday, to hold hearings on rural and urban experiences of First Nations people. It’s part of a Senate tour through western Canada that started Monday and wraps up Friday.

Hearings started at 9 .m. at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, 45 Robinson St.

The committee’s looking at the rights of First Nations people off-reserve and it’s interested in information about health-care issues, education, housing, income and employment, access to services and the role of Friendship Centres.

The centres were set up, in part, to pave the path of First Nations people moving off reserves and they’ve proven to be a stable force on the social scene of western Canadian cities for over 30 years.

The committee moves on to Saskatoon Wednesday and is scheduled to hold two hearings in Vancouver Thursday and Friday.

This is the Senate committee that includes Senator Patrick Brazeau, better known as the youngest sitting Senator. He’s 38.

Most Canadians learned about Brazeau after an angry outburst this summer on his Twitter account (@The Brazman). He was displeased with a woman journalist who drew attention to his poor Senate attendance record this spring. He later apologized.

A charity boxing match against Liberal scion Justin Trudeau at the end of that period lent Brazeau a national profile.

Less known but more to the point is Brazeau’s former job before Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him to the Senate. Brazeau’s a former head of the biggest lobby group for off-reserve aboriginal people in Canada, The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

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