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Sharing the land

In the June 27 editorial A Supreme road map on rights, duty concerning the Tsilhqot'in Nation Supreme Court decision, it is stated that "much of Canada, and almost all of Manitoba, is covered by treaties that ceded aboriginal title to the Crown."

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While this is technically accurate and consistent with the wording of the treaties, most First Nations maintain that, when they signed these treaties, they did not give away their land but instead agreed to share it with the European colonists.

Their position is their creator gave them the land and the responsibility to properly steward the land in the first place, and they did not have the right to transfer this responsibility to another party.

The issue of aboriginal titles in B.C. is somewhat analogous to the situation facing the Dakota Nations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. B.C. First Nations did not sign historic treaties with the Crown, and neither did the Dakota Nations. Because no treaties were signed, no aboriginal rights were surrendered.

The Supreme Court declared the Tsilhqot'in Nation had aboriginal title to an area of land in B.C. that they regularly and exclusively used. It will be interesting to see whether the Dakota Nations will be able to make similar claims.

PETER BOOTHROYD

Winnipeg

Education report flawed

The Conference Board of Canada does a disservice to the country and provinces by misleading quantification of a hodge-podge of factors erroneously lumped together as a report card on education (Manitoba scores low in education, June 27).

The board included components that fail as indicators of education quality. For example, the income advantage for university and college graduates is more an indicator of economic performance than quality of schooling.

The board ignores many confounding factors that contribute to their indices, one notable category being demographics. For example, the poor performance of the Maritime provinces on adult literacy and numeracy is in part due to its aging population.

Similarly, the PISA performance in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is influenced by the high proportion of young aboriginals in both provinces and the inadequate education provided by the federal government, something aboriginal organizations are striving to correct.

The data do contain some useful indicators. For example, Manitoba graduated 44.5 PhDs per 100,000 population in 2011, far below the Canadian average of 87.7. Closing such a massive gap requires doubling our PhD output, something that is only feasible with the thoughtful use of qualified faculty at all Manitoba institutions.

Unfortunately, naive interpretation of questionable grades leads to politicized conclusions and to recommendations that fail both to address fundamental problems and to target solutions in efficient and effective ways.

JIM CLARK

Winnipeg

Blue embrace purple lights

No pink in Blue and Gold (June 26). It's great that the Blue Bombers are reaching out to women. What is just as impressive is that in recent seasons the Bombers have embraced the "purple lights" campaign which opposes domestic violence.

Violence against domestic partners is wrong, and one of the ways of correcting it is for those perceived to be strong male role models to take a stance against it. I hope future Bombers teams win on the field while contributing to making our community stronger and safer by supporting the anti-domestic-violence campaign.

STEVE PLENERT

Winnipeg

Good cab, bad cab

Re: No hailing cab management (Letters, June 24). After the articles in your paper regarding the cabbie that wanted $50 for returning the iPhone, and the subsequent letters that gave other examples of poor treatment by cab companies and their employees, I thought I should balance the statements by giving a positive example of a very helpful and honest cab driver.

One year ago, we went on a one-week trip to Washington, D.C. A Duffy's cab picked us up at our home and drove us to the airport. When we were packing to come home from Washington I couldn't find the keys to my house. I looked everywhere, to no avail.

Upon arrival home there was a voice message on my answering machine from the cab driver saying he had found my keys in his cab. I called him, and the next day he left the keys in our mailbox because we weren't home.

Never once was there a mention from him for a payment of any kind -- he was simply doing the right thing.

KEN MCLEAN

Winnipeg

Pipelines not the problem

If Chris Rose or others believe blocking Northern Gateway or Keystone will have any effect on oilsands production or climate change, they'd better examine a few more facts (Gateway pipeline part of climate crisis, June 23).

Since Canada already has 73,000 kilometres of pipelines, the bitumen will travel either through them or by rail, a far more hazardous mode of transport.

Meanwhile, if climate change can be contained, western nations need to do a better job of convincing the developing world to cut emissions; the growth in fossil-fuel usage, especially in Asia, is offsetting clean-energy gains in Europe and North America.

In 1999, fossil fuels provided 87 per cent of global power generation; yet despite all the green incentives, that number was still the same in 2013. Even worse, in the early 1980s coal furnished about 10 per cent of the world's energy; today that number has tripled.

When nations consider environmental matters as secondary to economic development and poverty alleviation, new pipelines on this continent will make little difference globally.

EDWARD KATZ

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 30, 2014 A12

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