Don Marks

  • Council ripe for third-party rule?

    The City of Winnipeg is currently going through a management crisis. Deals that have been made by city council and the civic administration over the past three years have been criticized as unethical, immoral and even illegal. Citizens are wrestling with what to do to correct things at city hall. Outside measures are usually called for when there have been complaints by citizens that they are being denied the services they expect, or that there has been criticism over bad budgeting, fiscal mismanagement, deadlocks on council, poor-quality reporting, cronyism in hiring and exorbitant pay. Examples of all of this taking place at city hall have been reported in the mainstream media recently.
  • Elders push self-help through indigenous foundations

    First Nations elders are revered for keeping their spirituality, traditions, history and lifestyle alive. The role elders play in leading their people into the future has not been as well-recognized. A new organization called the National Indigenous Council of Elders (NICE) is changing that.
  • Fishing for a better deal

    The problems that have plagued the freshwater fish industry for the past three years can be solved. All that is required is for the different sides in this dispute to show a little flexibility and deal with the reality of fishing as it exists in Manitoba. Fishers from the Interlake area (Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis, Lake St. Martin) say they cannot make a decent living for the prices they are paid from the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, which has a monopoly to sell all commercial freshwater fish caught in Manitoba. The co-operative representing many of these fishers believes the FFMC spends too much on high management salaries, exorbitant marketing costs, "Cadillac" pensions and unionized wages.
  • First Nations need the modern white buffalo

    When legislation allowing gaming on Indian reservations in the United States was passed into law, it was called the "modern white buffalo." The buffalo had provided Plains Indians with everything they needed -- food, clothing, shelter and tools. The White Buffalo Calf Woman provided sacred teachings of the Sun Dance and the sweat lodge. It was hoped that modern gaming could at least generate the wealth and employment that many Native American tribes needed to overcome widespread poverty today.
  • Having the right outlook goes a long way

    There is one huge drawback to living in the No. 1 neighbourhood in Canada, (according to some national survey that was published last year). Osborne Village becomes the absolute worst place in the world to live when you have to go through the kind of winter we have just experienced, because there are so many good things to miss and you suffer that much more.
  • Investigative journalism a public trust

    A recent Free Press editorial appropriately called for a new mandate for the CBC (CBC needs fresh mandate, April 14). That mandate must include independent coverage of local, national and international news. Investigative journalism is dying. It costs a lot of money to retain professional journalists who make the calls, hit the streets, and do all the research it takes to uncover a new story or keep bringing fresh information and angles to existing stories.
  • Time to ice racial conflict at the rink

    It is impossible to defend the violence that took place during the bantam hockey game between Lake Manitoba First Nation and a team from Stonewall. An official was attacked. There is no excuse for this kind of extremely negative behaviour and the perpetrators must be punished. But that won't stop this kind of thing from happening again, because we are not dealing with the real problem and the underlying reasons these things happen. We keep ignoring the significant role racial conflict plays.
  • Tough haul to setting up urban reserves

    The recent election of Terry Nelson to the leadership of the Southern Chiefs Organization seems obviously intended to push the establishment of urban reserves, regarded as a key driver to economic development. The SCO's plans are ambitious, and a close look at the hurdles involved in the land-conversion process would make most people throw in their cards. Hence, the selection of a man with a track record of dogged determination. Most of the steps are to address the concerns of people who may fear waking up next to an urban reserve someday.
  • Hughes report doesn't have all the answers

    The Hughes commission report is out and the recommendations to improve Child and Family Services are mostly practical solutions matched to the problems uncovered during the inquiry. But we are probably going to witness a tragedy such as the murder of Phoenix Sinclair again because we can't solve major flaws in the system.
  • The deadly toll of drug-approval drag

    A recent survey of general practitioners by the Canadian Liver Foundation revealed 57 per cent of GPs don't know hepatitis C can be cured despite the fact more than 70 per cent of hep C patients who undergo treatment with available medicines are being cured right now. Obviously, we must create more public awareness about hepatitis C when even medical professionals seem so unaware of what's going on. Especially when there are thousands of people who don't even know they are carrying the virus (hep C is a "silent disease" -- symptoms often don't appear until the liver is severely damaged).
  • Now this is going to be interesting

    To say the election of Terry Nelson as grand chief of the Southern Chiefs' Organization is going to be interesting is an understatement. The controversial First Nations leader has a knack for getting under people's skin and creating sensational headlines. I suggest we wipe the slate clean and get off to a fresh start with Grand Chief Nelson. There are a lot of reasons this makes sense.
  • First Nations awaiting anti-apartheid's dividend

    As I watched Canada pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, it reminded me of the difficulties this country had supporting the end of apartheid and its role in setting up the whole system. The indigenous people of South Africa and the First Nations share a unique relationship. And there is an important lesson to be learned here. The system of apartheid Mandela opposed confined the indigenous people of South Africa to homelands, required them to obtain special passes to leave those homelands, and they were denied the right to vote. If this sounds familiar, it is not only because Indians in Canada were confined to reserves, required passes to leave their homes and could not vote until 1961.
  • First Nations can mine $650 billion

    If you have been wondering what all the fuss about resource extraction and development on First Nations land means, you need look no further than a recent report by the Fraser Institute. It reveals the enormous potential in wealth and jobs that can be created by developing these resources. According to the report, 600 projects worth $650 billion depend on co-operation between First Nations and mining companies within the next 10 years.
  • What we don't know about bullying

    Canadians are caught up with the problem of bullying. The Manitoba legislature is enacting laws to deal with it in our schools, and research is being conducted to help devise prevention and cessation programs that are meaningful, relevant and effective. This is all well and good. But all too often in the past, these programs tended to get applied universally. This would be a disaster, or at least a failure, if we do this with First Nations children and youth.
  • Slow to remember

    WITH Remembrance Day nearly upon us, we will try to remember the great sacrifices made by the veterans of two world wars. Many of us have only known peace and now face our own mortal end free from the horrors of combat and sudden death. But on Nov. 11, we will try to remember, and be grateful for those who have fallen for us. The manner in which First Nations people pay tribute to their veterans might help us carry this appreciation in our hearts for more than just this one, most important day.
  • Over 30s still can't be trusted

    "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" (Howard Beale - Network) "You guys had it so much easier than we do!" (any parent to their child)
  • The two faces of Mount Rushmore

    Many Winnipeg tourists head down to South Dakota to marvel at Mount Rushmore. The faces of four of the most beloved American presidents carved into the side of a mountain is quite a sight to see. As a child, I recall the messages of freedom and independence that I read about in Dennis the Menace comic books and saw on the Wonderful World of Walt Disney TV shows that drove me to Mount Rushmore, and I wasn't disappointed. There is a certain highway you take where the glaring white visages of those four highly revered leaders blasts into view and it is breathtaking, just as it is from the viewing platform set up in front of this incredible monument.
  • Manitobans must right these wrongs

    Legal experts Charles Huband and Thomas Berger have argued the case for and against Métis land claims on these pages, and most Canadians would have difficulty disagreeing with either of these esteemed jurists because their arguments are both so well-researched and reasoned. The problem is the true meaning of justice is often betrayed by legal intricacies and interpretations, and the laws of the land leave plenty of room for injustice. Do we really want Canadian history to be defined by who had the best lawyer and which group is most able to twist the law to serve its best interests?
  • Panhandling should be confined to the streets

    It appears to be an innocuous question in an innocent situation. "Would you like to donate a dollar to the (insert body organ/disease here) fund?"
  • Thompson, Matamoros: There's a link

    Many young adults who lived in Winnipeg during the 1960s will fondly remember that special connection we had with Mexican border towns like Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo, which provided an inexpensive break from our harsh winters. You just had to drive down I-29 and on to the mighty Rio Grande and soon you were developing a cheap melanoma you could bring home along with a Mexican onyx chess set, bargained down to $13 at a flea market and a ridiculously huge velvet painting of Jesus, even if you weren't particularly Christian. The Mexican people were so very, very friendly and the local la policia smiled at you at every turn.
  • Canada's history of denial

    I will never forget the first time I heard about the horror of Indian residential schools. It was 1982 and I had been commissioned to write a play for the World Assembly of First Nations. A musical combining traditional native song and dance with contemporary rock, jazz, blues, classical and operatic styles, the play was to cover 500 years of history of First Nations in North America. My script had to be checked by elders throughout Saskatchewan, and when I told them the play was going to be presented at the magnificent mainstream Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts, many of them told me this might be a fine opportunity to finally tell the world about their experiences at "boarding school."
  • Don't let flood-evacuee problems kill the vision

    It was the best of opportunities. It was the worst of nightmares. Let's go back in time to when the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF) was first offered the job of taking care of evacuees from four First Nations in the Interlake who were flooded out because the provincial government diverted flood waters from southern Manitoba.
  • When Harper spoke, it was wise to listen

    Former chief, MLA and MP, Elijah Harper, who died Friday at age 64, is to be buried in his home community of Red Sucker Lake today. It was all pre-arranged. The Meech Lake accord required unanimous consent from the Manitoba legislature and this was one of those rare times when Premier Gary Filmon and his Conservative government were in total agreement with the opposition NDP led by Gary Doer to vote "yes." The chorus of "aye" votes was rare and quite pleasing. But I will never forget the shocked, then confused look on Filmon's face when one voice firmly said "no!"
  • Why tell bullied kid to do what we did not?

    I'm no expert on bullying, but I can tell you some of the advice we're giving kids doesn't make sense. Such as, I just saw this anti-bullying public service announcement about "Billy the Bully," which shows this kid shadowboxing in the middle of a playground while taunting and teasing imaginary opponents. The catch is that Billy is all alone. An announcer's voice tells kids to "just walk away," and bullies like Billy will look silly dancing around all by themselves. Oh really? It's not that easy to walk away. Most often a kid will find himself yanked to the ground and stomped when he does.
  • What are they smoking at First Nations Bank?

    There has always been this big bulge in Manitoba's population that reflects so-called baby boomers, that disproportionately large generation born during the 20 years following the Second World War. The only thing comparable in the province today is the huge increase in our native population. The original baby boomers have dominated our music and culture (Why do you think we are still listening to the Rolling Stones and guys like Paul McCartney fill our stadiums with parents, grandparents and grandchildren?)


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