CBC Indigenous top newsmakers of 2016
5 stories that made headlines repeatedly throughout the year
What a year it's been.
A new government's promise of a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples faced its first real tests, the country continued to grapple with what reconciliation really means, the world watched a tiny North Dakota community stand up to a contentious pipeline, and a long-awaited announcement about missing and murdered women and girls had many wondering how that issue would finally be addressed.
Here are the top five stories that made headlines throughout 2016, as chosen by editors at CBC Indigenous.
1. Standing Rock
It's a story many Indigenous people relate to, which is probably why thousands of people from across the globe gathered on land just north of the reservation to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. From First Nations people to Hollywood celebrities, many made the pilgrimage to a massive camp called Oceti Sakowin, which just kept getting bigger and bigger, even as temperatures dropped.
- Standing Rock protest grows with thousands opposing North Dakota pipeline
- Standing Rock protesters refuse to bow to frigid weather, evacuation orders
- Trump's stock in contentious Dakota Access pipeline company raises concern
Over 500 people have been arrested in confrontations that sometimes saw police use water hoses in sub-zero temperatures and attacks with guard dogs; one woman nearly lost an arm.
- Social media captures chaos at Standing Rock as police, anti-pipeline demonstrators face off
- Woman hurt in latest Standing Rock confrontation in 'serious' condition
2. Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
An arrest was finally made in the high-profile case of Tina Fontaine, two years after her tiny body was pulled from Winnipeg's Red River and allegations of horrific abuse by police against Indigenous women and girls rattled Quebec.
CBC launched several major projects in 2016 — Unresolved took a second look at cases in which police said there was no foul play, uncovering evidence in some cases of unexplained injuries, suspicious circumstances, failure to interview key witnesses and persons of interest who have never been convicted; CBC's Connie Walker examined an individual case in her groundbreaking podcast series, Who Killed Alberta Williams?
Also, a long-awaited national inquiry into MMIW was finally called on Aug. 3, 2016. The five-member commission, led by Indigenous Judge Marion Buller, is expected to begin hearing from victims' families in spring 2017.
- MMIW commission won't hear testimony from families until spring 2017
- Inuit women's group frustrated by lack of communication on MMIW inquiry
Not soon enough, however, for some families and advocates.
3. The suicide 'pandemic'
- As suicides rise in Indigenous communities, calls for a national strategy grow
- Pimicikamak declares state of emergency to deal with suicide crisis
- 'This is our nightmarish reality'
The crisis had Ottawa scrambling to provide emergency services and Indigenous communities calling for government to address the root causes. Cree communities in Quebec looked inwards, launching and funding their own inquiry into what they called a suicide pandemic.
While there were many heartwarming stories this year, there was also a B.C. mother who sued a school district for allowing smudging and a Winnipeg city councillor who suggested civic employees should be mowing lawns instead of learning about residential schools, stories some saw as indications that this country has a long wait before reconciliation is truly a reality.
- Justin Trudeau announces 3 steps to help enact Truth and Reconciliation calls to action
- New Gord Downie work devoted to boy who died running away from residential school
- B.C. mother takes school district to court over Aboriginal spiritual ceremony
- City councillor initially opposes residential-school training for city staff, then apologizes
5. New government, new relationship?
From mixed messages about what it really means to accept a long-awaited United Nations declaration to the promise of a renewed fiscal relationship, from a landmark ruling on Métis jurisdiction to the ongoing failure of this country to provide equitable funding to First Nations children, it was a year of hits and misses.