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News Articles About Four Worlds,
Four Directions and the International Co-ordinator, Phil Lane Jr.

The truth may set us free City man set for conference on Aboriginals
Aboriginal foundation, high-tech firm link up Chief says counselling next step toward healing
Youngsters sought for native video Native lawsuit serves as example for U.S.
City Man Part of World Conference
The truth may set us free

Creator Scott, Peter
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 3/3/1999

Their pain, we are being told, has transcended decades and has left its stripes on the psyche of an entire race of people.

The truth about native residential schools may soon be spilled in court, as lawsuit organizer Phil Lane fully intends. And many of us may want to avert our gaze, turn away from the spectacle which will, the complainants hope, turn the glare of publicity into the dark corners of a chapter in Canadian history we have all been too eager, too comfortable to hope would retreat before the chinook of time.

But something as monstrous as is being contended transpired behind the red brick walls of religion and state is so dense, the physics of the thing allow it to withstand the erosions of the ages. Some wounds, it seems, time cannot heal.

And so, in an Alberta courtroom in the near future, 350 members of southern Alberta's Indian bands will bring their case before a judge. But, of course, they are also bringing it before society and before history.

This could be their final chance to have their own chapter in the book, which chronicles our growth as a nation, as disturbingly written as it may be.

The matter, as of last Friday, becomes a legal one to be decided in a court, the pinnacle of a societal structure, which has, to this point in time, marginalized their lives and left them impotent.

The defendants, whose side must also be heard in court, are at the cornerstone of our society; two powerful and influential religious organizations and the federal government - we, the people - itself.

The facts come welling up from a time long since gone by. And many who will follow this story from gavel to gavel will, perhaps, feel a detachment from the heartache of the past. Just what, they may ask, does it have to do with the here and now.

That will test the skill of those presenting the case, because it will be incumbent upon them to not only prove their point in the courtroom, but to prove it before public opinion as well.

If they succeed, many will all be forced to reconsider much of what they've taken for granted these many years about the native way of life in Canada's west. That image may well have to be filtered and focused through the lens of the alleged abuses which, say the complainants, have battered the souls of more than just those who had first hand experiences in the schools.But, if the truth shall set us free, then the truth needs to be heard, however painful, however embarrassing to Canadians who pride themselves on their place at the top of the ladder of human rights and quality of life.

City man set for conference on Aboriginals

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 01/19/2000

A Lethbridge man is off to Mexico next month to continue building economic and social links between indigenous peoples in Mexico and Canada.

Phil Lane Jr., coordinator of the Four Worlds International Institute, based in Lethbridge, will meet with indigenous businesspeople and government officials in Mexico City and surrounding area in early February to lay the foundations for a similar institute in Mexico and to further develop business agreements among aboriginal groups.

"Part of the revitalization of the aboriginal community in North America is their active involvement with the international indigenous community," says Lane. "It allows them to share what they've learned here and also expands their horizons to see the world is bigger than their own reserve or region," he says.

"We also see a lot of issues being faced by the indigenous people in Mexico that are the same as aboriginal peoples are facing here. We have a lot to learn, and a lot to contribute to the understanding of how self- determination be implemented in peaceful ways," he says.

The trip is part of an economic strategy developed by the five- year-old business arm of Four Worlds, called Four Directions International. Businesses and joint ventures created by Four Directions will help underwrite aboriginal social development, with the long-term goal of aboriginal self-sufficiency.

Four Directions already contributes $100,000 annually to Four Worlds' programs, including financial support for a lawsuit against the Anglican and Catholic Churches over the residential schools they operated on the Blood and Peigan Nations until the 1970s, through the sale of curriculum materials, consulting fees, and the manufacturing and sales of computer equipment.

Its culturally sensitive education curriculum materials have been sold and are used in more than 600 communities in North America and internationally, while its consultants have worked around the globe, from Ukraine to Nunavut. Curriculum materials have been translated into 10 languages. Four Directions is also involved in partnerships with an herbal company and with companies developing environmental technologies.

This latest initiative is a follow-up to Lane's participation last year in a trade mission to Mexico hosted by the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian government. During that mission, an historic trade and social agreement, called the Reunion of the Condor and the Eagle, was signed.

The international agreement was signed by indigenous leaders representing over 100,000 indigenous peoples in Mexico at a sacred ceremonial site located in Temoaya, near Mexico City. Lane describes the accord, which was seven years in the making, as a predicted formal reconnection of indigenous peoples of North and Central America after five centuries of disruption after European contact. Section and Page A3

Aboriginal foundation, high-tech firm link up

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 02/10/2000

Partners in a joint venture announced this week between a Lethbridge company and a Florida high-tech business hope the new enterprise will provide an opportunity for aboriginal people to become economically self-sufficient.

"Our company is searching world wide for emerging technologies to create ethical, sustainable economic activity for aboriginal people," said Phil Lane, president of Four Directions International of Lethbridge.

"It's one thing to complain about the environmental challenge (facing the earth), it's another to find the alternatives to do something about it."

Four Directions signed an agreement with PolleyTech Inc. of Miami and GTM Trading Inc. of Vancouver to market what they call "ground-breaking agricultural technologies," which are particularly applicable to intensive livestock operations in southern Alberta.

PolleyTech has developed new water and soil decontamination processes to control the odour and pathogens emitted by everything from small aquariums to large feedlots.

"We can restore the oxygen levels (in contaminated water)," says the company's chief executive officer, Richard D. Polley.

PolleyTech's products, developed in North and South America and Europe over the past 15 years, are used by cities such as Pittsburgh, Pa. and by EuroDisney in France to clean municipal and recreational water bodies, he says. Mini water-treatment systems are available for homes and villages at an exceptionally low cost, says Polley.

He says no trace of the bacterial or enzyme systems are left once the process is finished.

"We've doubled the shrimp and fish production (in commercial fish farms) where it's been used," he says. "The running theme (in the products) is ecological safety."

PolleyTech products also are being used to clean the Florida Everglades for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Polley says the company's products can also speed plant growth in short growing seasons while increasing yield, and can be used to stabilize the soil to replace asphalt in road construction. The company also offers a new, longer lasting protective coating for wastewater treatment systems, bridges, decks, and ships.

Polley says the agreement with Four Directions "gives us an opportunity to become involved with indigenous peoples, to use their talents and historic philosophy on the environment."

Four Directions is the economic arm of Four Worlds International Development Institute in Lethbridge. Lane says the company will conduct a marketing campaign in southern Alberta this summer, with the expectation that a storefront and warehouse operation will be operating by October. Section and Page b6

Chief says counselling next step toward healing

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 3/5/1999

The chief of the Blood band says the speedy establishment of suitable counselling programs is the next step for hundreds of former residential school students from southern Alberta.

"The healing must start now," says Chief Chris Shade. "The next couple of years will be tough for students but the cycle of violence and dysfunction must be broken so these people can get on with other things."

Serious social problems are only the symptom of a deep hurt from the schools that must be healed, he says. Shade campaigned on a platform of healing and reconciliation during the last election and says he has consulted with other bands over the past year, where similar suits are being organized about counselling.

More than 350 men and women from the Blood and Peigan bands, haunted for years by the experiences, filed a statement of claim in Lethbridge Court of Queen's Bench late last week for hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. They attended four church-run, government-funded residential schools operated for 50 years on the two reserves near Lethbridge.

While more than 100 similar claims have been filed in Canada over physical, mental and sexual abuse at other residential schools, the Lethbridge action is the first to include damages for a "grossly inadequate" education, and for cultural damage to five generations.

But development of useful counselling programs may be difficult in small communities where large numbers of people sometimes were both victims and abusers. The lawsuit filed by Ruston and Marshall of Lethbridge alleges students were subjected to assaults from both authorities and older students.

One woman, a victim of sexual assault when she attended St. Mary's in the 1950s, worries nothing will be done for former students. She says she asked for help three times from Blood band mental health programs during criminal proceedings against Father Maurice Goutier in 1995.

"No one came," even when she had to go to court, she says, although she was so traumatized by reliving the experiences she began disassociating, and bleeding internally. She considered suicide. She says the same thing can happen to others without treatment. "We've got to deal with this to get rid of our bitterness."

Goutier pleaded guilty to indecent assault in August 1995. He received a suspended sentence and two years probation.

"The door to help was slammed shut for me," says the woman. "Now, some of these same people are asking for money from the Healing Fund." Most Blood departments have requested dollars from a $350-million Healing Fund promised by the federal government for former residential school students across the country.

The woman says Shade's support of the legal action may not be enough to ensure independent programs if counsellors or administrators balk. No one from the Blood health department was available to comment earlier this week.

The initiator of the lawsuit also warns the healing programs must be set up carefully. Former students who have been abused and are prepared to deal with their abuse should be consulted about the type of counseling they want and, ideally, it should go directly to them so they can make their own decisions, says Phil Lane, coordinator of the Four World's International Institute.

"In communities where the chief and council and their social service systems are in complete support of the residential school survivors' search for justice, and they consult fully with the survivors, an effective healing strategy can be developed for everyone." He points to the Saddle Lake First Nation in northern Alberta as having created a good program for survivors.

Band-sponsored healing programs will not be successful if some of the council or administration oppose the legal actions or deny the abuse happened, he says. Where there's a fear of the truth coming out, where administrators or others employed by a band suggest it's a dead issue or make threats against the former students and their supporters, there's no way former students can trust the process, he says.

When a band's power and control is imposed unilaterally, through fear and threats rather than consultation with the people, that government is imitating the boarding schools, he says.

"The elders tell us where there's no participation, there's no development. Where there's no unity and no vision, there's no development."

Lane says no matter how many times he hears about the humiliation and abuse that occurred in the residential schools, it sickens him. "How is it impossible for human beings to be so sick and devoid of love and compassion they could commit such horrible abuse against a defenseless child?"

He says the fact that the Blackfoot Confederacy has survived as well as it has is a tribute to its incredible strength, he says.

"There's no question, from my experience in Southern Alberta that if the community of Lethbridge was put through the same process today, they would not survive anywhere near as well as the Blackfoot people have done."

Section and Page A1

Youngsters sought for native video

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 12/6/1999

The Four Worlds Development Institute in Lethbridge will soon be looking for young Aboriginals to conduct interviews of 500 residential school survivors from the Blood and Peigan Reserves.

The Four Worlds institute will work on the project with the Foundation for a Healing Among Nations, a Tennessee organization set up to videotape the life stories and oral histories of eight cultural groups subjected to genocide and injustice. Four Worlds is the first organization to help the Foundation gather interviews among North American aboriginal people.

The local interviews will be the first time this process has been used since Steven Spielberg interviewed survivors of the Holocaust after release of the movie Schindler's List. The Tennessee foundation's program is based on and supported by Spielberg's Shoah Visual History Foundation, which conducted the interviews of Holocaust survivors.

Phil Lane Jr., Four Worlds international coordinator, says the interviews should begin in March and last six to nine months. "We will be able to gain a complete story of the impact of residential schools on individuals and the whole community structure, including life before residential schools and what occurred after," he says. "It should give us a real clear picture for current and future generations of what happened."

Young aboriginal people will be trained to conduct the interviews and operate video cameras recording the interviews. Instead of hiring interviewers as Shoah did, the Healing Among Nations Foundation prefers to benefit the young of each victimized culture through the interview process.

"We'll be looking in the University of Lethbridge and high schools, basically anyone who's interested," says Lane.

The Foundation for a Healing Among Nations was created by Bonnie S. Mansdorf who worked as an interviewer for the Shoah project in 1995 and 1996. The child of a holocaust survivor herself, Mansdorf says she witnessed the healing transformation that the interview process afforded survivors.

Section and Page A1

Native lawsuit serves as example for U.S.

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 3/15/1999

A Texas legal expert on sexual abuse says Canadians seeking damages from churches and the federal government for their residential school experiences are better organized than their American counterparts.

While hundreds of lawsuits have been filed or settled in Canada, none have yet gone ahead in the U.S., says Sylvia Demarest. Evidence suggests the Indian students' experiences were the same and the motivation for the schools, to "civilize the savages" was the same in both countries, she says.

But "(American natives) are in the same position now as Canadian natives were 10 to 15 years ago, as far as organization is concerned."

She hopes to file the first American residential school claim before the end of the year involving a South Dakota reservation.

Demarest is legal adviser to the Lethbridge-based Four Worlds' International Institute, which initiated a ground-breaking lawsuit Feb. 26 involving four schools operated on the Peigan and Blood reserves until the late 1970s. The claim, prepared by the Lethbridge firm Ruston and Marshall, alleges the Roman Catholic, the Anglican Churches, their Calgary dioceses and religious orders, and the federal governments are all responsible for a broad range of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as well as negligence and failure to educate the students.

Another 150 former students have joined the mass legal action since it was filed, bringing the number of plaintiffs to over 500 seeking over $200 million in damages.

Demarest was in Lethbridge consulting with Four World's coordinator Phil Lane on a claim against the Marty Indian School on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in southeastern South Dakota. This Dakota reserve is Lane's family homeland.

"The Marty school impacted the entire great Sioux nation." Says Lane. "Several thousand students across the Dakotas attended school over a period of 50 years."

The tribal council has given unanimous support for justice and healing, says Lane. The Lethbridge claim will serve as a point of discussion for the potential plaintiffs in the second suit, although Demarest says the difference in law between the two countries means the approach may be quite different.

Demarest learned about abuse of children by churches when she represented three of 11 plaintiffs who were awarded $117 million in total, the largest judgement awarded before 1997 in a clergy sexual molestation case in the U.S. That case against Dallas Catholic Diocese took five years to reach a judge's ruling that "the diocese was a negligent institution letting a sick pedophile rage out of control."

She says there's evidence of a pattern, citing Duplessis orphans and the boys of Mount Cashel in Canada, British orphans' experiences in Australian Catholic schools, and other examples.

"What we're finding out is that in every situation where the church had control of children there is evidence of astonishing levels of abuse." The leadership was not ignorant about events, which suggests they decided not to rock the boat on behalf of powerless children, she says.

"The public has to ask what's going on here. People seem to be completely helpless to deal with the issue of church complicity. Even if we accept that given the times, nothing could be done for the children, what about now?" she asks.

"Where are the leaders standing up and saying this was wrong but we're going to make it right?" Until the public stands up and demands accountability, government and the churches won't take responsibility, she says.

"Public opinion will be the catalyst for resolution. We can't rely on the courts alone. Reconciliation also can't be done in a vacuum by the aboriginal peoples themselves."

Genocide is a heavy term, acknowledges Demarest, but where else except in North America has conscious government policy resulted in the extermination of so many people?

The most recent example of genocide was a half million people killed in Rwanda, she says. "But do people realize the population of native Americans has dropped to a few million from an original 30 to 40 million?"

Serious violence continues against native peoples, she says, pointing to a February study from the U.S. Justice department showing American Indians aare more than twice as likely as others to be a victim of a violent crime.

"If we think the hate and level of violence has stopped because it's 1999, we're wrong. Everybody is still running around like it's 1850 and we're in the middle of an Indian war.

Demarest says organizations like Assembly of First Nations, supported by the federal government, allows aboriginal groups in Canada to share ideas and work cooperatively, putting them ahead of the scattered, mainly rural population in the U.S.

"There is nothing with the scope of the AFN in the U.S." She credits Four Worlds for first opening the door to discussion about residential schools with its 1989 documentary, Healing the Hurts. Some resolution of the whole issue to benefit both native and non-native society now appears possible because of the work of people like Lane, she says.

"Many who are now in the forefront of the issue didn't want to deal with it at all because of the incredible pain," he says.

But Lane says in spite of the number of suits over the residential schools and the evidence collected by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Canadian government is doing everything within its power to delay the legal actions and put roadblocks in the way of settlements.

"If the Canadian government was truly committed to the same ideals of justice it promotes internationally and if the churches were truly committed to the sacred teachings of Jesus, this issue would have been resolved years ago, says Lane. "It is the governments justice that has forced residential school survivors to go to court." Section and Page A1

City Man Part of World Conference

Creator Helmer, Joanne
Published by the Lethbridge Herald
Publishing Date 11/18/1999

A Lethbridge man will participate in an international retreat this weekend to help create a vision for a foundation modeled after Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation.

Phil Lane Jr., co-ordinator of the Four World's International Institute in Lethbridge, will join representatives of the Dalai Lama, the Ghandi Institute, the Institute of Global Studies, and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, at the Oregon summit. Over 50 international spiritual leaders will spend the weekend developing guidelines for the Foundation for a Healing Among Nations, a Tennessee organization set up to videotape the life stories and oral histories of eight cultural groups subjected to genocide and injustice. The new foundation is based on the Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, created after the filming of the movie Schindler's List.

The Shoah project is interviewing the personal histories of over 50,000 Holocaust survivors. The Foundation for a Healing Among Nations was created by Bonnie S. Mansdorf who worked as an interviewer for the Shoah project in 1995 and 1996. "That's where the idea came from," said Mansdorf Tuesday in a telephone interview. The child of a holocaust survivor herself, Mansdorf says she witnessed the healing transformation that the interview process afforded survivors.

Mansdorf says her institute will approach the process differently than Shoah, training young people from each of the cultural groups to interview people from their own culture. The idea is to also benefit the young people through the interview process, evoking a greater caring for humanity through the exposure.

The foundation will also develop a multimedia archive for educational purposes. It's a long term project, she says. The project will begin with the Tibetan people. In a letter to the foundation, the Dalai Lama says he is "particularly gratified that testimonies of Tibetan witnesses of the Chinese invasion of our country will be included. These testimonies, provided by the Tibetan National Commemoration and Documentation Centre here in Dharamsala, will preserve for posterity the sad memories of what actually happened in Tibet."

The speed with which each group's history is collected will depend on the interest of the group and its internal unity, says Mansdorf.

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