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BCAFN Daily News




A. First Nations Stories Dominating the News

1- Rights tribunal scolded for lack of action

Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen, March 1 - The embattled Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was publicly rebuked Monday for a two-year delay in dealing with a case involving the welfare of First Nations children. In a pointed statement, David Langtry, acting chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said the tribunal's failure to deal with the two-year-old case was having a direct impact on the lives of vulnerable children. In a parallel action, the Ottawa lawyer acting for First Nations communities filed a statement with the Federal Court asking it to force the tribunal to deal with the case. "It's not simply about money or financial damages," said lawyer Paul Champ, "it's about vulnerable children who are being denied the equal right to stay in their homes and communities. It's no exaggeration to say that more children are harmed every month that passes without this complaint being resolved." Champ says planned hearings at the tribunal were cancelled for no apparent reason. Langtry agreed with Champ that the delays are harming children. "The hardship of children makes this an urgent matter," he said. At the heart of the case is the underfunding of child welfare agencies on reserves -a federal responsibility -compared with provincially funded child welfare agencies elsewhere in Canada. The complaint was brought to the commission by the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada against Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Champ and other humanrights lawyers say internal strife at the tribunal is crippling its ability to do its work, which is to deal with cases referred by the commission. According to the Public Service Alliance, five employees -roughly a quarter of the staff -have filed harassment-related complaints against tribunal chair Shirish Chotalia, the Calgary lawyer appointed in late 2009 by the Harper government. More than half of the staff have left for other public service jobs or been sidelined by stress since she took over. Chotalia has refused to be interviewed about the problems and acting tribunal executive director Frederick Gloade did not return a call from the Citizen on Monday. The Privy Council Office has said it will investigate the tribunal's workplace problems but has yet to do so. Langtry says the tribunal's decision on the First Nations case could be precedent-setting. "If it is determined that these services do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Act," he said, "Canadians may no longer be able to file discrimination complaints in relation to services provided by the government."

2- Resignation regrettable

Kluane Adamek, The StarPhoenix, March 1 - Re: First Nation youth leader quits (SP, Feb. 17). The Assembly First Nations National Youth Council fully supports accountability and transparency. It should be understood that no one on the youth council voted against the motion to disclose travel costs and per diems. There were some abstentions only because members wanted to discuss how to implement the resolution effectively, present the information to reflect the work of the council, and speak with the national office about the process and logistics of implementing these. Because there was no opposition, we consider the motion passed. We met later via teleconference to discuss an approach to reporting costs consistent with the resolution. On behalf of the national youth council, I regret the decision by the Saskatchewan representative to resign. Her contributions would be beneficial to our discussions on implementing the resolution. First Nations youth from the regions elect and appoint the national youth council with the expectation that we work together to empower our young people. We take our role and responsibilities very seriously, volunteering our time to give back to our people and communities. We must and will continue to work to achieve a better life for our citizens and communities and ensure the voice of our youth remains a vital part of the AFN.
Kluane Adamek Executive member, AFN National Youth Council

3- First Nations Statement regarding election of Christy Clark
First Nations Leadership Council Statement regarding the election of Christy Clark as Premier-designate of BC

VANCOUVER, BC, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Feb. 28, 2011) - The First Nations Leadership Council is taking a wait and see approach following the election of Christy Clark as the new Leader of the BC Liberal Party and Premier-designate of British Columbia.  "We congratulate Ms. Clark on her election as the Premier-designate of British Columbia," said Chief Douglas White of the First Nations Summit Political Executive. "First Nations across this province will now be looking to the new Premier for her commitment to work with First Nations to address the horrible reality of too many of our children who are born into chronic and grinding poverty and to close the socio-economic gaps faced by our communities, to work to implement existing treaties between First Nations and the Crown and to reinvigorate BC's approach to reconciliation of our Aboriginal Title and Rights through treaty negotiations, and continue our joint efforts to implement the principles of the New Relationship based on mutual respect and recognition."  "We congratulate Christy Clark and we are extremely interested in her 'families first' campaign message. First Nations deeply resent the disgraceful levels of inter-generational child poverty within our communities while many resource-based companies prosper from our territories," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "Governments and big business must recognize our constitutionally-enshrined, judicially-recognized and internationally declared Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights through true revenue-sharing and shared decision-making to ensure all of our children enjoy a safe, healthy and prosperous future."  "Congratulations to the BC Liberals on selecting their new leader, Christy Clark, soon to be BC's second female premier. Much progress has been made over the past 10 years under the leadership of Premier Gordon Campbell whom we send our best wishes," said Regional Chief Jody Wilson Raybould of the BC Assembly of First Nations. "Ms. Clark has the opportunity to continue along the same path as her predecessor towards reconciliation with our Nations through the full recognition of our Title and Rights. While our communities face many challenges, we are having success and can continue to make progress where there is understanding and a willingness to cooperate. We look forward to working with Ms. Clark."  The First Nations Leadership Council will be seeking an early meeting with Premier-designate Clark to discuss how her government will work with First Nations to revitalize work to implement the commitments made in the New Relationship and continue towards a new era of co-operation where Aboriginal Title and Rights are recognized; where each other's laws and responsibilities are respected and where both Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions are reconciled. /For further information: Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould, BC Assembly of First Nations (778) 772-8681; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs (250) 490-5314; Chief Douglas White, First Nations Summit (604) 910-8853/

4- First Nations oppose funding cuts

Melissa Di Costanzo, Standard Freeholder, February 28 - CORNWALL -- A projected 19 per cent cutback for First Nations policing in this year's federal budget has drawn concern and strong opposition from National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn A-inchut Atleo. "We do not believe this is in the best interests of our citizens and this is quite troubling for our communities," he stated, in a press release. District Chief of Cornwall Island, Brian David, also commented on he news, saying, in an email, that this projection "makes no sense, in light of a federal government, whose policy is one of 'law and order.'" "For Akwesasne in particular, we were hopeful that we could speak about an increase, not a decrease," he wrote. "The projected cutbacks on policing clearly demonstrates a confused chain of thought-- the govern-m e nt is the first to label our community as being 'lawless' in the media, and then cuts our policing budget." David said this projection is unacceptable, and that having less police will have a negative impact on the community, and those surrounding it. Atleo also said the proposed cuts are of "tremendous concern to our people and to anyone who cares about the safety and security of our citizens in our communities." He said First Nations communities are already struggling under a minimum budget for public security. The release also states that there has been no communication between First Nations leadership and the federal Community Safety and Partnerships Branch regarding funding cutbacks, and that both the minister and the branch have a responsibility to advise the First Nations. "This decision is being taken without any consultation with First Nations, and the Government of Canada clearly does not understand the tremendous impact it will have on the essential safety and security of our people," he stated. Atleo stated he is seeking an immediate meeting with the federal Minister of Public Safety and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to resolve the issue. The First Nations Chiefs of Police Association have also expressed concerns, states the release. David Charbonneau, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, said in an email that the Government of Canada continues to support the First Nations Policing Program, which has made a significant contribution to improving public safety in First Nation and Inuit communities for close to 20 years. "A proposal for consideration has been developed on the renewal of the FNPP," he wrote. "Until a final decision is made with respect to the renewal of this program, the government will continue to work with provincial and territorial partners and Aboriginal stakeholders to advance the renewal process." Charbonneau wrote as part of the comprehensive review, options for the future of the program are being considered. "Preparation of the federal budget is a standard yearly exercise designed to safeguard the fiscal well-being of the country," he wrote. "No one should prejudge the outcome of budgetary decisions."

B. Other First Nation Stories of Interest

1- Municipalities wary of First Nations talks

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist, March 1 - Metchosin Mayor John Ranns worries federal legislation governing First Nations lands could lead to pockets of residential and commercial development that are drawing municipal services but paying no taxes. And regional planning could be thrown out the window if reforms governing First Nations lands become a reality, Ranns said. "I think we should be looking to the [Capital Regional District] to act as an advocate for all municipalities in this region," Ranns said. At Ranns's urging, the CRD planning and transportation committee is recommending the district board seek membership on the Te'mexw treaty advisory committee so it can more closely monitor treaty progress. "There's pretty serious implications here," Ranns said. Ranns cited the situation on the Lower Mainland, where the Squamish First Nation is planning to build 12,000 condos on undeveloped reserve lands in Vancouver and West Vancouver. His concerns echo those expressed by the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee, which has released a draft discussion paper on the potential impacts of the federal First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act and related legislation. The provisions now being implemented in B.C. are designed to make it easier for bands to expand their populations of nonaboriginal tenants. Ranns said First Nations can apply under the additions-to-reserve process to convey reserve status to property they buy on the open market. The provision is intended only for expansions to house and serve band members, but the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee says there's nothing to stop a band from developing market housing for non-aboriginals on a property after it has been converted to reserve status. One of the problems with that, Ranns said, is that while municipalities are expected to service those developments, neither the residents nor businesses established there would be required to pay municipal development fees or taxes. Instead, non-aboriginals likely would pay taxes to the bands. "It leaves every municipality in this region open to having purchases of land within their municipal boundaries that they have no control over but which we'll be expected to provide servicing for," Ranns said. Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said the changes could void the regional sustainability strategy. Esquimalt Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin said local politicians have good reason to be concerned. He said he has written to the federal government asking it to ensure municipal governments are aware of and involved in negotiations surrounding land claims. Desjardins said the three parties at the treaty table are the federal government, the province and the First Nations. Municipalities have a representative but are essentially observers, she said. The Te'mexw table includes the Beecher Bay, Songhees, Malahat and T'Sou-ke bands, the province and the federal government. "We have been granted the ability to sit at the table and provide input to the negotiators as they feel appropriate, but we really haven't been able to influence the process significantly," Desjardins said.

2- First Nation group setting up blockade in northern Ontario

CP, February 28 - A First Nation is setting up a blockade near the massive chromite deposit in northern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire. Marten Falls First Nation is planning to block access to the deposit near James Bay because its members feel excluded from negotiations on its development. Aboriginal communities in the area have complained that mining companies aren't consulting them in their plans to develop the deposit. Some First Nations have complained that a company has been exploring the mining site without the chief's consent and that companies are drafting their initial plans without their input. The blockade could hamper the provincial government's plans to develop the deposit as a major economic boost to the north. Chromite is used in the making of stainless steel and the governing Liberals have touted the project as a key plank in its plan to open the province to business.

3- Nearly 70 per cent of Manitoba First Nations rely on bottled water: AMC

CTV Winnipeg, March 1st - The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' latest Regional Health Survey suggests 49 per cent of Manitoba Aboriginals can't afford enough food for their families, and most are reliant on bottled water.  The AMC released its 2008-2010 survey on Monday, gathering information on living conditions from more than half of Manitoba's reserves.

The survey results include:

  • 68.2 per cent of Manitoba First Nation adults use bottled water
  • 49 per cent indicate they cannot afford to buy enough food for their families while 45 per cent cannot afford healthy food
  • 14 per cent of youth have used cocaine in the past year
  • The AMC also found that community health was one of the biggest factors in the survey and yielded "surprisingly" positive results from youth.
  • 80 per cent say traditional cultural events are important in their lives
  • 52 per cent understand or speak a First Nation language and 91 per cent say it's important to learn their language
  • 68 per cent say the "top strength" of their community is family values

AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans says 34 of 63 communities participated in the survey, meaning the "RHS produces the most accurate results on the state of Manitoba First Nation communities, far more accurate than the national census."

4- Navigators help aboriginals access health care

Pamela Fayerman, Postmedia News, February 27 - VICTORIA — Heather Olsen always knew she wanted to work with her "own people" so she could make a difference in their health. Not long after graduating from the University of Victoria nursing program, Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation, was hired as an aboriginal nurse liaison — a position that involves navigating aboriginals through the health care system. Although no one keeps track of how many aboriginal navigators there are across Canada, B.C. has about 30. Federal funds have enabled most provinces to create aboriginal navigator positions and Olsen's role is typical of the work done in each province. She provides information about aboriginal rights and benefits; escorts patients to appointments; advocates for patients admitted to hospital — some of whom don't speak English fluently; connects patients to elders for spiritual guidance; finds needed services in the community and helps them access care, since many aboriginals living in remote communities have to travel long distances for treatment. Once they get to a hospital in Victoria, Olsen is there "to go to bat" for patients and their families. "Recently, I had a brain injury patient who was in the hospital but he needed to be placed in a different facility, a private facility. He was impoverished so there was no way he could afford it. So that's when we go to federal agencies (such as Health Canada or Indian and Northern Affairs)," she said. Olsen works with Nancy Jacques, another aboriginal liaison nurse in the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which spends about $740,000 annually on its navigation program for aboriginals. Jacques, a former community health nurse with extensive experience working in northern health outposts, said aboriginal patients often find doctors and medical information confusing. "People who come from isolated communities are scared. They're so glad and relieved when they see that we are there to explain their diagnoses and treatment," said Jacques, who gets patient referrals from doctors, nurses, social workers and family members. "Navigators are advocates. For people who lived in residential schools, hospitals are sometimes seen as institutions and that just opens the emotional floodgates. There are trust issues and even though I am not First Nations, I have been able to build trust with them." One of the aboriginals who has come to trust the navigators is Maxine Matilpi, an artist who makes exquisite aboriginal dance and ceremonial regalia, such as button blankets and vests, for a living. Until last year, Matilpi had observed from a distance the work that navigators were doing with patients. That's because for the past 26 years, she's been volunteering as a lay navigator of sorts. As a multilingual speaker, she's been called upon to translate for aboriginal patients going to Victoria for medical care. She's escorted them to appointments, helped them get their prescriptions and medical equipment and has even offered them a bed in her own home if they have nowhere else to sleep. "We're called the Potlatch people. We're giving people," Matilpi said, explaining her willingness to extend such help. But just over a year ago, when a member of her own family fell ill, Matilpi decided it was time to rely on a professional navigator. Her brother Sam, who had just inherited the chieftainship of the Ma'amtagila-Tlowitsis band, was admitted to Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital after being diagnosed with lung cancer. His pain was unrelenting. When Matilpi heard the harried nurses on the oncology ward tell him to just "hang on for pain medications" she felt his needs were being "brushed aside." "You can't tell someone with cancer to just hang on," she said. She knew Jacques, the aboriginal navigator, so she sought out her help in getting her brother into a hospice where he could receive more personalized care. Hospital administrators, however, suggested Matilpi look after her brother at home. "They wanted me to look after him. But he was dying and I just said I can't do that. I don't have that kind of experience," Matilpi said, adding she also sought help from the navigators in her bid to find a social worker. "You can't expect change, but they can help affect change," Matilpi said, referring to the value of having aboriginal navigators in hospitals. Ted Bruce, executive director of population health for Vancouver Coastal Health, said aboriginal navigators were first conceived as one measure to improve the health status of aboriginals. Compared with the general population, aboriginals:

  • Live, on average, seven years less.
  • Have infant mortality rates that are two to four times higher.
  • Have diabetes rates that are three times higher.
  • Have stroke rates that are twice as high.
  • Are twice as likely to have HIV/AIDS.
  • Are four-to-nine times more likely to die from alcohol-related causes.
  • Are two-to-seven times more likely to die from drug-related causes.
  • Have 55 per cent higher hospitalization rates.

With such daunting statistics, the navigator program was implemented about three years ago to help improve access to health care and change the horrid statistics. "The notion underlying it all was to improve health care and build more cultural competency in the health care system," said Bruce. "We wanted to listen to patients more and to make our facilities safe places for them to be in because many don't feel safe in these institutions. They've had bad experiences, there are big trust issues, and there's a possibility that they won't access services to the degree they should because of that." Bruce said the first navigators to help aboriginal patients were assigned in 2008 and an evaluation of the program is being undertaken. Last year, the VCH navigators helped 283 clients. "We've got a good mix of staff: a psychiatric nurse, a social worker, a mental health counsellor and Cliff, who used to be a band manager near Rivers Inlet (in northern B.C.)," said Bruce. "Navigators help clients with problems like non-insured benefits," said Bruce. "They have to work that through with Health Canada. The navigators do some advocacy for patients in the hospital, some housing help, community liaison support and family support. They help hospital staff to communicate better. They are there as much for the patients as they are for the hospital staff." Cliff Hanuse, the aboriginal navigator to whom Bruce referred, said language is one barrier and culture shock is another, "Especially for elders who are used to their laid-back home communities." Hanuse said he helps out with any issues pertaining to medical care, long-term care, mental health, addiction services, the justice system, family services and the education system. He views his role as bridging the divide between health care providers and their aboriginal patients. In the Western medical system, for example, treatments are based on such interventions as surgery and prescription medications, but many aboriginals also want to use traditional medicine and practices like prayer circles and sweetgrass burning. "I know the ins and outs for all of these things," he said. "Doctors don't always understand our environment. There's a certain amount of stereotyping that goes on," he said, noting that at some hospitals, aboriginals are lumped together as "frequent flyers, alcoholics and people who get everything paid for." Hanuse recalls a case in which a hospital medical team was telling a heroin addict with lung cancer that he was going to die. Because of his cultural and spiritual beliefs, the patient wanted to be treated by a "medicine man" with "traditional" medicines. Hanuse had to negotiate for those things on the man's behalf. "There are situations, especially at the end of life, when patients ask for that kind of thing, when they want traditional healers," he said. His duties as an aboriginal navigator are so varied and extensive he can't recite all of them. "Social supports is a big thing. We organize services, help clients find housing, help them fill out applications, get letters of reference from doctors (for referrals) to help them get their medications, medical equipment and any home renovations they might need for their conditions, and I escort them to appointments." Bruce acknowledges that hospital social workers deal with many of the same kinds of issues for all patients, but the aboriginal navigators are often aboriginal themselves so they can provide the service in a culturally sensitive manner and build trust and rapport with their clients. "I think the service is proving its value. There is a huge appetite for navigators and the health providers are very appreciative. There's a sense of comfort in knowing that patients are getting better followup, improved access to resources and the provision of culturally sensitive service," said Bruce. Wilma Hunchitt is one of Hanuse's clients. The former resident of Bella Bella, B.C.,— a small, isolated coastal community on northern Vancouver Island — had to move to Vancouver in 2009 when her kidney disease became so advanced that she had to start dialysis four times a week. Such treatment is not available in remote communities. Though she was an acquaintance of Hanuse, she didn't know anything about what his job entailed, until she needed him. "I had to live in a Holiday Inn for three months, then in a Travelodge. Then I had to look for a wheelchair accessible apartment and that's when Cliff started helping. He even came to look at a place with me," she said while receiving her dialysis treatment at St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver. Hunchitt said she asked Hanuse for help when she was having problems with a particular nurse who, in her opinion, was not treating her with a proper level of dignity and compassion. "I wanted a personal connection. I didn't want someone who didn't even look at me when hooking me up to the (dialysis) machine. The nurse had a snotty attitude and was mean. I told Cliff I didn't want to get into trouble for complaining, I just want to be nice to people and I want them to be nice to me. I mean these are people working in jobs with people," she said. Hunchitt is a single mother of a teenager so it's a comfort to know she can call Hanuse or the other navigators whenever she's got a problem. "I have a 17-year old daughter who's my pride and joy and I know that if I was in a real bad situation, I could call Cliff or she could call him. He's a really compassionate guy. I saw that when one of his patients died and he was so distraught about it."

C. Stories Dominating the News

1- Pro-Gadhafi forces fail to retake rebel-held town, source says

Tripoli, Libya (CNN), March 1st -- Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi tried to retake a town near the capital that is in opposition control but were repelled, an opposition leader in the town told CNN Tuesday. Pro-Gadhafi troops with tanks and anti-aircraft guns attacked Zawiya from both east and west as night fell Monday, but did not capture the town, a short drive from the capital Tripoli, the source said. Zawiya is calm Tuesday, but Gadhafi's troops remain outside it, the opposition leader and another source in the town said. CNN is not naming them to protect their safety. In London, meanwhile, the Libyan embassy said it was siding with the opposition, condemning what it called "all acts of murder and terror " taking place in their homeland. More European countries and companies froze assets belonging to Gadhafiand his family. Austria's central bank said it was freezing all assets held by the family, while Germany said it was freezing two million euros ($2.76 million) belong to one of Gadhafi's sons, without specifying which. Peason, the company that owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times, said it was freezing shares held by the Libyan Investment Authority. International condemnation of Gadhafi's use of force against civilians continued to grow Tuesday even as the Libyan leader denied the widely documented instances of violence and asserted he was loved throughout the country. The European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the turmoil in the North African nation Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Gadhafi sounded "delusional." And in another act of international condemnation of Gadhafi's regime, the Libyan Embassy in Washington will take down the Libyan flag Tuesday and replace it with one that flew in Libya before Gadhafi took power in 1969, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Government forces have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators over the past two weeks in Libya, fired on crowds and at times shot indiscriminately at people in the streets, numerous witnesses have told CNN. It is unclear how many people have died in fighting between government troops and rebels. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said deaths have topped 1,000, while Libya's ambassador to the United States estimated Monday that the death toll was about 2,000. The ambassador, Ali Suleiman Aujali, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer the figure is based on information from Tripoli and telephone calls. He described Gadhafi's regime as "very cruel." "I think we realize that he's crazy," said Aujali, who has worked as a diplomat for Gadhafi for 40 years. "But we have no alternative. We have no ways to get rid of him until now," Aujali said, referring to protests inspired by the successful ousters of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. A Libyan woman said she believes protesters will eventually succeed in ousting Gadhafi because "too much blood has been shed." In a joint interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour and the BBC on Monday, Gadhafi denied using force against his people. "No demonstration at all in the streets," he said, speaking at a restaurant in Tripoli. Told by the BBC's Jeremy Bowen that he had seen demonstrators in the streets that morning, Gadhafi asked, "Are they supporting us?" "They love me, all my people with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people," he said. Soon after Gadhafi's interview, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the Libyan strongman sounded "delusional." "And when he can laugh in talking to American and international journalists while he is slaughtering his own people, it only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality," she said. A witness in Misrata, who is not being identified for security reasons, said Gadhafi'sclaims are inconsistent and nonsensical. "Gadhafi has been making all kinds of things ... at one moment, he's saying that all of the Libyan people are taking hallucinogens. Another moment he's saying that we're all members of al Qaeda and that we're extremist Muslims. He's all over the place," she said. "Libyans are not members of al Qaeda -- that's absolutely ridiculous. And not everyone's on drugs here. We're fighting for our basic rights -- the right to freedom, the right to education, the right to health care, the right to clean water. The right to -- just basic human rights, and that we will continue to fight until this regime falls." Gadhafi's regime has lost control of parts of the country to rebel forces, and with each passing day more Libyan officials around the world have defected, joining calls for his ouster. The use of the term "rebel" to describe the anti-government forces is apt, said Kurt Volker, former U.S. ambassador to NATO and now a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "In Egypt, you didn't have a force that was developed; you had protesters who were demonstrating against the government and the government relented," he said. "Here, you actually have a government that retains force at its disposal and you have demonstrators joined by elements of the military that have forces at their disposal. So it really has become an armed rebellion." Reports came in Monday that a Libyan military jet bombed a military base in an area controlled by rebel forces. The base is near Ajdabiya, 90 miles south of Benghazi, a stronghold of government opponents. Some bases in the area have fallen into the hands of protesters as more members of the military have abandoned Gadhafi's regime and joined demonstrations. Several soldiers told CNN they switched their allegiance after refusing to use weapons against peaceful demonstrators. CNN saw the military jet fly overhead and heard the sounds of explosions. Witnesses reported a bombing at the base. But Libyan state television later denied any such bombing had occurred. The Temporary General Committee for Defense said reports that the Libyan air force conducted strikes on the ammunition depots in the cities of Ajdabiya and Rajima were false, state TV reported. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, of the U.N. Human Rights Council that the United States is exploring "all possible options," and that "nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens." Asked at a news conference Monday whether the U.S. planned an imminent military response, Clinton said, "No." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that "exile is certainly one option" for Gadhafi. Carney also said the U.S. government is considering the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. On Monday, the United States became the latest country to announce it had frozen Gadhafi-related assets. The U.S. government froze at least $30 billion in Libyan government assets under U.S jurisdiction after enacting sanctions on Friday. It marked the largest amount ever blocked under a sanctions program, said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a longtime ally of Gadhafi, claimed the United States' criticisms of Gadhafi have a clear aim: military invasion. "Let's not get carried away by the drums of war, because the United States, I am sure that they are exaggerating and distorting things to justify an invasion," Chavez said Monday, according to Venezuelan state media. The protests, which began February 15, have been fueled largely by people demanding freedom and decrying high unemployment. They follow demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, two countries that have seen their leaders overthrown in the wave of protests that has swept through the Arab world over the past several weeks. The witness in Misrata said she thinks Gadhafi's time is almost over. "This regime has been here for 42 years, and it's reached its end. I'm confident that the regime will fall soon -- if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the next week or two or three. But his time has come to an end. ... Too much blood has been shed."

2- Dignity Project aims to educate Canada about the poor

CP, March 1st - TORONTO — While they may be generous enough to whip out their wallets, a new report suggests many Canadians don't appear to be too charitable in their opinions of the poor. The Salvation Army report finds many Canadians believe the poor have mostly themselves to blame for their lot in life and that poverty is a choice. While Canadians believe poverty is the third most pressing issue facing the country behind the economy and health care, many don't have a realistic picture of what it's like to be poor, according to "The Dignity Project: Debunking Myths About Poverty in Canada." "Many Canadians understand that the poor are out there, that they struggle, that they need some form of assistance," said the Christian organization's Andrew Burditt. "But ... many Canadians didn't really understand the extent to which systemic barriers can get in the way of really providing a life for yourself and that does rob you of your dignity," he said. Lower paying jobs, lack of access to job training and affordable housing, mental health issues and addiction perpetuate poverty, he said. Thirty-seven per cent of 1,025 adults polled by Angus Reid in late January for the report said they believe the poor "still have it pretty good." Nearly half thought a family of four could get by on $10,000 to $30,000 per year or less. But Statistics Canada says the average poverty line cutoff is $35,000 for a family of four in an urban setting. "There are jobs out there that are minimum wage or slightly above, but it's difficult to really put a life together using a job in coffee shop or a job at a fast food restaurant," said Burditt. To educate the public about the realities of poverty, the social services provider launches the Dignity Project on Tuesday at The effort will feature online events, street outreach, traditional advertising and social networking. Burditt hopes the project will get Canadians talking about the causes of and solutions to poverty. About three million Canadians live in poverty -- one in 11 -- relatively unchanged over the past decade, the report said. Only 65 per cent of those polled said they believe being poor can rob someone of their dignity. Gwen Boyne believes it can. The 21-year-old Newmarket, Ont., woman said she lived for eight months in a youth shelter in Sutton, Ont. Shelter workers helped her finish her high school diploma and get a driver's licence, an apartment and a job. "I was on welfare for six months and I mean that's only $570 a month, and after you pay your rent, say my rent was $450, that only leaves (about) $100 for food and other bills," said Boyne. "If there weren't food banks, a lot of people wouldn't eat," she said. Nearly half of survey respondents said if poor people really want to work, they can always find a job. And about a quarter believed that people are poor because they are lazy. But it can take a long time to find a job, said Boyne. "You can be out there every day handing out your resumes and doing interviews, but it doesn't guarantee something is going to (come) through for you," she said. Boyne earned $24,000 while working in collections, which she called low pay. Many retail jobs, she noted, are minimum wage. Boyne, who's currently unemployed, is back living with her family in Newmarket and applying to universities and colleges. The sample of 1,025 Canadians was drawn from a panel of more than 100,000 Canadians surveyed Jan. 26-27, 2011. The margin of error was approximately plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.