AMC, MKO weigh in
THE Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it wasn’t adequately consulted during the compilation of the Manitoba advocate for children and youth’s special report on Tina Fontaine and — again — called for an independent inquiry into the teen’s 2014 death.
“An investigation on how to best respond to this sad story was an opportunity for the Manitoba government to work with First Nations on an inter-jurisdictional basis. That did not happen,” acting grand chief Betsy Kennedy said from War Lake First Nation in a prepared statement Tuesday.
AMC said it met with the advocate, Daphne Penrose, prior to the report’s release, but the groups “did not fully work together in a good and respectful way.”
“Manitoba First Nations and the provincial government both recognize the larger problem, and understand that Tina Fontaine is not an anomaly,” Kennedy said.
“The investigation, report and recommendations are a start, but the content remains firmly based in a colonial approach as it pushes First Nations aside and advances an investigation from outside provincial jurisdiction, and does not attempt to reconcile working with First Nations and respect our jurisdiction.”
Penrose works independently from the provincial government, reporting to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
For his part, Premier Brian Pallister wasn’t convinced of the need to launch an independent inquiry separate from Penrose’s.
“I’m most interested in learning from this experience and moving on,” he said. “There are those who say we should learn more. I think we should do more.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee was at the United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of a Manitoba delegation reporting on the status of women when he received the findings.
He said, in a prepared statement, he would be highlighting Penrose’s work to those he meets in New York, calling her recommendations “important” and especially agreeing with the request to reduce student expulsions and suspensions.
“We know there is a school-to-prison pipeline, or worse, for Indigenous youth in Manitoba’s public schools, and education suspension and expulsion policies play a part in this injustice,” the grand chief said.
— Jessica Botelho-Urbanski