My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Love it or leave it! Peace.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

'We're just worried about the land' Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, EXPOSITOR STAFF Friday night's TRUE meeting seemed to be a meeting of the minds. Four representatives of the Haudenosaunee Men's Fire offered a history lesson and an explanation of why land under construction by Empire Homes off Conklin Road and other properties in Brantford are so critical to the Six Nations people. And Caledonia resident Ken Hewitt -- once the spokesman for the Caledonia Citizen's Alliance -- explained why he's seeking a public investigation into a "two-tiered justice system" that he says favours natives. Hewitt has about 7,000 signatures on a petition calling for an Ipperwash-style inquiry into OPP actions. Hewitt said mistakes have been made on both sides and he feels the OPP have been victims of confused leadership. Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, who supports the petition, told more than 100 people at Laurier's Odeon building that he doubts his private member's bill demanding an investigation will pass second reading in March. Also in the audience was Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer. The Men's Fire representatives -- Gene Johns, Stan Farmer, Wes Elliott and Kelly Curley -- worked to explain to the crowd that they operate under treaty law rather than Canadian law. The group, a traditional gathering that can include all men and is charged with the duty of protecting the land, the women and children, says it was reignited during the Douglas Creek Estates protest in Caledonia after being dormant for years. The protests at Empire Homes in particular are due to the land being part of the Clench tract, said Johns, which is a matter under litigation in the courts. "Everybody is worried about their home and getting eviction notices," said Johns. "Tell everybody their house is fine. We're just worried about the land." Johns -- who has been arrested for his part in trying to stop construction at the Conklin Road site -- encouraged people affected by the Empire protest or concerned about their own house to contact the Men's Fire representatives to talk. Farmer said the men were compelled to try and stop houses from being built on land they consider theirs as a way of protecting the remaining greenbelt areas. "Hamilton is having a problem with coyotes but you've interfered with their business, just like us. The animals need to have a place to hunt and fish, just like us." Audience member Gary Horsnell questioned why the Men's Fire is protesting at land it has no chance of having returned, according to the government. But Curley said that's the reason they protest at sites before houses are erected. "The federal government says it won't displace people, so if there's no house on the land, we have a right to that land." Farmer appealed to the non-natives in the crowd to consider the commitment and lack of sleep many of the protesters endure for their cause. "Don't look at me as a warrior or terrorist. I'm an individual born to an obligation. We're trying to keep the treaty of peace," said Farmer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Community relations all important" Business, Aboriginal groups report
'Good things underway' between business, aboriginal groups: report Last Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | 5:48 PM ET CBC News Community relations is all important when companies deal with aboriginal communities in Canada, according to a report released Wednesday. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business analyzed dealings between 38 companies and aboriginal communities across the country. The analysis found that there are "good things underway" as businesses try to build positive working relationships. "Nothing else matters as much as productive and progressive community relations," Clint Davis, council president and chief executive officer, said in an interview on Wednesday. "Clearly, there is a perception that working with aboriginal communities can be overwhelming. You have three different groups — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — and within those groups, you have different languages, culture and circumstances." Davis said good community relations is the main ingredient common to all positive dealings between businesses and aboriginal communities within all three groups. He said the "good things" found by the report, include: Open and transparent communication, which involves companies gathering feedback on how their operations affect communities. Consultation that can lead to forming partnerships. A willingness to respect cultural differences. An understanding that all parties involved in the dealings need to benefit. For example, ESS/Compass Group Canada, which provides services to remote development projects, uses annual satisfaction surveys filled out by the chiefs in each community it operates to deal with concerns. And Syncrude, an oil sands development company that operates in northern Alberta, has established what it calls five "industry relations corporations in each of the aboriginal communities where it operates. The corporations include "standards of consultation" agreed to by both parties in each community, and provide forums to enable all parties to work together. The BMO Financial Group, in its dealings with aboriginal communities across the country, has an official policy not to use cultural images that have often been used in advertising aimed at aboriginal people. Depictions of eagles and feathers, for example, are prohibited in its advertising and promotional campaigns. The concern is that the use of sacred cultural symbols ultimately serves to reinforce stereotypes. All of the companies analyzed in the report took part in what the council calls its progressive aboriginal relations program, which was designed to encourage the full participation of aboriginal people in the Canadian economy. The company took part in the program between 2001 and 2008. Davis said the report found that money was not the most important factor in establishing good community relations. "In this economic climate, time and effort — not necessarily money — are the keys to establishing good relations."
VANCOUVER _ Some aboriginal groups in British Columbia scored two major victories Wednesday as the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled they must be consulted before projects are undertaken. The first ruling involves an appeal by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council over a 2007 electricity purchase agreement between B.C. Hydro and Alcan in northwestern B.C. The court ruled that the B.C. Utilities Commission and BC Hydro failed to properly consult the First Nations. The power sales deal from Alcan´s Kemano facility was a condition set out by the company in order to proceed with a $2-billion upgrade. In approving the deal, the commission had ruled that no such consultations with the Carrier Sekani were necessary. The second case involved some First Nations in the southcentral Interior who said they were not properly consulted on a plan by BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corp., to build a $700 million high-voltage transmission line from the Interior to the Greater Vancouver area. The court ruled in the Alcan case that it was an example of what was "foreseen by the Supreme Court of Canada in Haida Nation versus B.C. where the broad principles of the Crown´s duty to consult and, if necessary, accommodate aboriginal interests are to be applied to a concrete set of circumstances." In the Alcan ruling, the judges ruled that consultation arises in relation to BC Hydro´s decision to buy electricity from Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. that is surplus to its smelter requirements. The Carrier Sekani said the diversion of water for Alcan´s use infringes on its rights and title and that no consultation ever took place. In its unanimous decision, the judges ordered the utilities commission to reconsider the issue. In the second case, the court found that the decision to certify a new transmission line . . . "has the potential to profoundly affect the appellants´ aboriginal interests." "Like the existing line (installed without consent or consultation), the new line will pass over land to which the appellants claim stewardship rights and aboriginal title." The judge, also in a unanimous decision, said "if consultation is to be meaningful, it must take place when the project is being considered and continue until the process is completed." The court ordered the commission to suspend its decision and have a new hearing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Government policy created the myth of the "lazy Indian"
These people, once described as the “original affluent society” by anthropologists, now are the country’s poorest. It took a century of deliberate and careless policy by governments and industry to make them poor.
Government policy created the myth of the "lazy Indian" By John Lutz Why, with all the resources the Canadian government pours into aboriginal communities, is the on-reserve Indian population among the most impoverished in Canada? Why do they rank poorest in Canada across the main measures of physical health (life expectancy, HIV/AIDS infection, diabetes rates) or social health (education, incarceration, suicide, substance abuse)? The government has tried its best and failed, and so it seems to many of us that the problem must lie with the aboriginal people themselves. The phrase “lazy Indian” rises into our minds, even if we are afraid to say it out loud. The stereotype of the “lazy Indian” starts early in the history of European colonization and is one of the most powerful and persistent. It is also one of the most perverse characterizations of a population that considered laziness to be one of the worst faults. A close look at our history shows that aboriginal people have historically been eager to work and that the poverty in so many First Nations communities is a phenomenon brought on by deliberate and inadvertent government policies over the past 60 years. It is well known that the first Europeans here wanted furs and traded them from aboriginal people. It is not well known that aboriginal people welcomed the traders, and in many cases, like the Lekwungen, helped build trading posts like Fort Victoria. It is even less known that aboriginal people were the first gold and coal miners in the province. The first coal mine in British Columbia, near present-day Port Hardy, was entirely worked over several years by the resident Kwakwaka’waka people. The next mine, at Nanaimo, depended on Sne ney mux men to keep it going. The first commercial fishermen and loggers in the colonies were aboriginal workers, and when the salmon-canning industry boomed in the 1880s, Native women canned the fish in industrial canneries from the Fraser River to the Nass, while their husbands caught the fish. The first modern sawmill in B.C. was built at Port Alberni in 1862, and over half the 200 to 300 workers were Nuu-chah-nulth men. The big sawmills established in the 1860s on Burrard Inlet employed “runaway sailors and Indians”, according to mill manager R.H. Alexander, used Squamish longshoremen, and bought their logs from the Sechelt people. Through the 19th century, aboriginal people worked as farmers and farm workers, stevedores and ships’ crew, and helped build the roads, railways, and public buildings. Franz Boas, the famous anthropologist, wrote in 1886 that “Almost all the labour of the province is done by Indians and Chinese” and all agreed that aboriginal people were well off—richer even than many whites. The 20th century has been hard on aboriginal people. The explosion of immigrants created new competition for jobs they used to hold and racism gave preference to the whites. With the immigrants came laws that deprived the majority aboriginal population of the vote, and confined them to reserves and inferior education. Without the vote, it was easy for white politicians and bureaucrats to discriminate against aboriginal people in issuing fishing licenses, logging permits, and grazing and water rights. They could not study law or operate many businesses. Other laws curtailed Native fishing for food to save salmon for the canneries, and hunting to protect game for sports hunters. The Indian agents warned their bosses of the consequences: “the game regulations...worked a great hardship on the Indians and thrown them more or less on relief [welfare]”. When labour was short during the wars, aboriginal people were again hired everywhere and were again pushed out when the soldiers came home; but after World War II it was no longer possible to live off the land. Until the 1950s, per-capita expenditure for social assistance or “welfare” for Indians was a fraction of that of other Canadians. By the 1970s, it was much higher and a generation of aboriginal children had grown up as “welfare Indians”. Today, there is enormous diversity between the poorest and richest in aboriginal communities, and between aboriginal communities, some of which are vibrant, healthy, and economically “comfortable”. But in many communities there are now several generations who have grown up in the welfare trap, with all the accompanying social problems that poverty brings. These people, once described as the “original affluent society” by anthropologists, now are the country’s poorest. It took a century of deliberate and careless policy by governments and industry to make them poor. It will take a new approach by government and all British Columbians to help them back to social and economic health. John Lutz is an associate professor of history at the University of Victoria, and the author of the new book Makúk: A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Residential School Survivors Occupy St. Andrew's Wesley United Church to protect the remains of children killed at the Alberni residential School Two dozen aboriginal survivors of the Indian residential schools non-violently occupied St. Andrew's Wesley United Church in Vancouver today to stop the destruction of the grave sites of children who died at the former Alberni Indian Residential School. The protestors entered the church sanctuary as the worship service commenced and unfurled a banner declaring "All The Children Need A Proper Burial". After leafletting the congregation and making a statement, the protestors left, vowing to return if the United Church did not surrender the remains of native children who died under their care and halt further destruction of their burial sites. The occupation was prompted by the partial destruction this week of the last building of the United Church's former Alberni Indian residential school, where eyewitnesses claim that the remains of former students are buried. "They're destroying the evidence of their crime, and under the law, that's a crime" said Bingo, a survivor of the Alert Bay residential school. "We're not listening to their bullshit anymore. We'll be back with more people next time." Squamish hereditary Chief Kiapilano, who legally evicted the United Church from his territory last March, endorsed the occupation and called for similar actions by other residential school survivors. These occupations of United Churches during their Sunday services will continue and will escalate until the fallen children are brought home, their killers are brought to justice, and the residential school crime sites are all protected. Issued by The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (Vancouver) Contact: 1-888-265-1007 or 250-753-3345 Note: A video transcript of today's occupation will be posted this week on the website, above, and is available on request.

A blog about things no one wants talked about.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Latter Day Zombies

I rarely go to church but last Sunday in Vancouver I attended the occupation of Saint Andrew's Wesley United Church by survivors of Canada's residential school genocide. About twenty aboriginal men and women entered the church just as I was sitting down, and lined up in front of the altar holding a banner calling for the return of the 50,000 missing children's remains, and a proper burial. The church, which had been humming with pre-service chatter, suddenly became silent. After conferring quickly, the minister and one or two other robed officers approached the group and talked with them. For a few moments, the atmosphere was tense and uncomfortable. Then the minister addressed the congregation and welcomed "our friends" who had a message to deliver. He did this in a superficially friendly and grandstanding way that showed he was on top of the situation and knew exactly how to deal with it. The native men and women stood holding their banner. In contrast to the minister, none of them were smiling. They looked as if they had just absorbed another insult. No one in the congregation moved or responded. All eyes were focused on the visitors and the minister who stood awkwardly rubbing his hands together in one of those ritualized gestures expressing benevolence and Christian tolerance. The church seemed suddenly filled with the disappointment and anger of the native people. I felt tears welling up, inside and around me. When they all slowly turned and began silently filing down the aisle towards the front door, it was as if they had had enough of this place. I felt like running after them, but a family had just sat down next to me, blocking my exit. Once the natives had disappeared, the minister was all smiles again, calling on the congregation to "wave your hands wildly" and shout requests for favourite hymns. The heavy mood had lifted, and now we were going to be entertained by the Holy spirit. For the next hour, I squirmed in my seat as Rev. Gary Paterson nimbly ran through his scripted Sunday routine. First came a children's pantomime about Christ healing a paralyzed man, performed with stuffed bears and children led by Paterson. Next, a sermon about a minister's weekly struggle to make his sermons relevant to parishioners. At times he raised his arms and threw back his head as if receiving inspiration from heaven. He digressed briefly into a commentary on the "guests" who had interrupted the service, and from there he talked about "illness" and the case of the paralyzed man who was saved by the holy spirit descending through a hole in the roof. He talked about "sin" as the root cause of sickness -- an ancient belief that still has meaning today. Never once did he address the theme of guilt, or atonement for crimes against humanity. The United Church has nothing, apparently, to say about that. When we were asked to turn to the people around us and shake hands and greet one another in the "spirit of the Lord," I was forced to look into one smiling face after another. As mouths repeated the ritual line, eyes told another story. They were eyes I would instinctively have avoided, filled with coldness, fear, secrecy. I started to think there was something strange about this church and its congregation. I turned my head once or twice to look at them, standing in their rows, astonishingly alike in Sunday clothes, as if they knew what was expected of church goers. In his struggle to be relevant, the minister seemed almost like a marionnette, calling on us to stand up again and make a "joyful noise to the Lord." It was, he said, our time to "rock." The guitars came out and the middle-aged choir put on a pathetic show of belting out a few "contemporary expressions of faith." The minister joined in the rapture, shaking to the Muzak, letting it all hang out for Jesus. How people manage to go through these motions week after week without choking, is beyond me. It takes a stronger person than I to take part in an orgy of phoniness, and walk out feeling at one with God's love and light. By the time it was over, I understood my place in the universe: out on the street with the native people who must know by now to expect nothing from a church that has been taken over by latter-day zombies.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In June 1813, Laura Secord overheard an American General scheming to attack the city of Drew Falls. Laura trekked 30 miles North to tell Canadians of the Americans plan to attack. With the help of Mohawk warriors, Laura Secord was able to warn Fitzgibbon, and the American invasion of Canada was stopped.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journalists fail First Nations

By Christopher Clarke

News, by its very definition as an event outside of the ordinary, runs contrary to the best interest of First Nations people because it perpetuates well-established negative stereotypes of Aboriginal Peoples. And because this basic tenant of journalism is contrary to First Nations interests, and because journalists are, in the most part, ignorant of the historical and sociological contexts of First Nations issues, journalists have failed in providing adequate and complete coverage Aboriginal Peoples and their communities.

The situation in many First Nation communities is dismal, to say the least. We have all heard the stories of unsafe water, higher than average rates of suicides, alcoholism, drug addiction and abuses to numerous to mention. This is considered "ordinary" by most Canadians because it is what they are used to hearing about native peoples and their communities. It therefore takes an event bordering on catastrophe for a journalist to cover an issue within "Indian country." Of course, this steady stream of near catastrophic events only serves to reinforce the negative stereotypes that already exist of Aboriginal Peoples in the minds of Canadians.

What is not reported is as important, if not more so, than what is reported. As a student of journalism and a card-carrying Indian, I am constantly at odds with my chosen profession. While more native journalists working within mainstream media would help provide more complete and truthful coverage of aboriginal communities, simply having more native journalists will not solve the basic problems that exist with journalism as a whole. Journalists need to educate themselves as to the history and societal context in which First Nations exist, and they have failed to do so. This is not a failure only of journalism, but of mainstream society as well.

Journalists, while charged with reporting as an impartial observer of events, are still a product of the society that educated and informed their way of thinking. Even aboriginal people themselves are sometimes held hostage by the negative stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream society and its institutions.

The responsibility of a journalist is to recognize this and work to remedy the negative stereotyping of "the Indian". For too long, journalists have concentrated almost solely on the third world conditions of our communities, without reporting the positives. There are First Nations people who have, despite the conditions of their environment, succeeded in bettering their own lives, and the lives of those around them. There are communities that are socially, economically and politically healthy, but seldom receive any coverage for the progress they make. What is needed is a sustained, conscientious focus by journalists on the people who are our First Nations, and the successes that have they have enjoyed.

There is also more to the media's responsibility to Aboriginal Peoples than simply what is reported. There is also the question of how. Because non-native people are so far removed from the reality of aboriginal life in this country, sometimes the only perspective of First Nations people comes from mainstream media. Without reporting the historical and sociological context in which these stories exist, it is impossible to adequately, even truthfully, tell the stories of First Nations people.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

HSN: Talks continue Feb 25
Talks Update, January 28, 2009
Representatives of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations (HSN), Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario entered the first round of discussions January 28th at the Oneida Business Park. The Wednesday afternoon meeting opened with a preliminary consultation to discuss Canada’s December 12, 2007 $26 million dollar offer to settle historical grievances on the Welland Canal Claim. Haudenosaunee Six Nations principal negotiator Chief Allen MacNaughton responded to the proposed offer by reading the August 29, 2008 counter proposal letter to Canada’s 26 million dollar offer. Canada’s principal negotiator Ronald Doering responded to the Haudenosaunee Six Nations counter proposal communicating Canada feels it represented a fair offer of compensation for the Welland Canada Flooding and they [Canada] remains hopeful that the Haudenosaunee Six Nations will find some basis for moving forward. The Haudenosaunee Six Nations believe that compensation factor(s) for the Welland Canal flooding of 1829 and subsequent loss of the use of the land does not reflect in Canada’s current offer. Six Nations has estimated the true dollar amount of the Welland Canal Claim is more in the range of five hundred million to one billion dollars. The Haudenosaunee Six Nations is prepared to move forward with negotiations, focusing on land and perpetual care and maintenance for Six Nations. All parties agreed to meet on February 25, 2009 at the Oneida Business Park at 10:00 a.m. for a Lands Resolution Table Meeting. Canada will give its position papers on the Nathan Gage Claim and the Hamilton Port Dover Road Bed.
Ah! The Plank Road (bed). This will be interesting. HAMILTON-PORT DOVER PLANK ROAD (HWY 6) SOUTH ... Port Dover Friday the 13th NORTH ... Hamilton West Harbour - Burlington Heights - High Level Bridge

Saturday, February 07, 2009

MISSING CHILDREN: Infamous Port Alberni dormitory to be demolished Tuesday ... but some say it should be investigated first: The digging is happening again, in just a few days, at the very place that robbed Harry of his childhood and life. The United Church's old residential school building in Port Alberni is being demolished by the government and its trained seals called the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, even though it's a proven crime site where hundreds of kids lie in unmarked graves. "When the girls were raped by the staff, they'd abort the babies and bury them between the walls, where nobody would find them" described Harriett Nahanee, who witnessed a murder at the school in 1946. "That old building is full of bones. They even had a cold storage room in the cellar where they kept the bodies before they buried them in the hills out back." That evidence will be obliterated on February 10, as the world watches and does nothing, as unmoved as when Harry tries to choose between a beating and merciless cold each night. (FULL TEXT BELOW) Infamous Port Alberni dormitory to be demolished Tuesday VANCOUVER, B.C. — When Ben Nookemis was just another seven-year-old child torn away from his family and forced to attend the Port Alberni Indian Residential School, he and the other children would often pass the time crafting projects, such as stilts."We used to make them out of a two-by-two square piece of wood," he remembers.But it was on those stilts, and the extra height they provided his small frame, that Nookemis gained insight into the true horror of his surroundings."We would walk around on these things and it was just high enough for me to look into the supervisor's living quarters and I would see the supervisor sexually abusing these young girls," he says. Perhaps ... but perhaps there are also some truths to be reconciled first?
Feb 5
Harry Wilson, Continued: Why There is No Healing and Reconciliation
by Kevin Annett
I was going to begin this by observing that the poor, made and kept poor by us, are the only antidote to our self-deceptions. But to say so would be to repeat the crime, and use them, again, for our purpose. Instead, let his life judge us: Harry Wilson of the Heiltsuk nation, kidnapped and sodomized by Christians at age six, and for nine years after, at the United Church's Alberni Indian residential school; a witness to the violent murder of friends and relatives, and the discoverer of a young girl's dead body on the grounds of the school; drugged and straight-jacketed for a year when he spoke of what he saw to the Principal, another child rapist, who has never gone to jail. .................. Harry Wilson sleeps most nights now on the cold ground of Oppenheimer Park on pieces of cardboard he collects from nearby alleyways in Vancouver's downtown eastside. When he gets too cold, he risks dozing in the pews of nearby First United Church, where he usually gets beaten up and robbed. Last week, when I came across Harry slouched against a wall during one of my nightly walkabouts, the blood was still congealing over his swollen face. He wore no jacket, even though it was below freezing. "They took it when I was sleeping in the church" Harry muttered. "Took my coat, my watch, all my money. Then they socked me a few times." "Where was the night staff?" I asked him. "Aw, smoking crack outside. They don't do nothin' ..." First United Church proudly announced its "out of the cold" gimmick in December, opening their doors to the homeless at night thanks to a gift of $30,000 from city taxpayers to do what churches are supposed to be doing anyway. Before the handout, First United's doors stayed locked every night. One wonders what the $30,000 is being spent on, when Harry and other homeless aboriginals - made homeless by the torture they endured at the hands of the same United Church of Canada - can be so easily violated, once again. Beaten and robbed, while taxpayers fund crack-head church employees to sit outside. And they say the abuse stopped long ago. .................. East Hastings is like the Gaza strip: an urban concentration camp where the conquered are penned in and slaughtered when required. Harry is a veteran of the slaughter, somehow surviving it into his fifty sixth year. But he doesn't have much time left. Harry's steps are slower now, his face more sagging and worn, the scars bloodier and deeper each week, his hours utterly drowned by alcohol. He is dying in front of me, his life squeezed out by the same forces, to feed the same people. When the U.S. Army bombs civilians to pieces and then sends in their medics to treat the survivors, it's behaving exactly like the United Church of Canada, who first rape and kill innocent children in their residential schools, and then offer "healing" programs to those who survived. That's how the winners in history get to behave. The only real evidence of their crimes is people like Harry, and the bones of his friends who never made it out of the residential school. But church and state have shoved both Harry and those little corpses out of sight and mind: Harry to rot and die in obscurity on East Hastings street, and the bones of the dead to be dug up and destroyed. The digging is happening again, in just a few days, at the very place that robbed Harry of his childhood and life. The United Church's old residential school building in Port Alberni is being demolished by the government and its trained seals called the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, even though it's a proven crime site where hundreds of kids lie in unmarked graves. "When the girls were raped by the staff, they'd abort the babies and bury them between the walls, where nobody would find them" described Harriett Nahanee, who witnessed a murder at the school in 1946. "That old building is full of bones. They even had a cold storage room in the cellar where they kept the bodies before they buried them in the hills out back." That evidence will be obliterated on February 10, as the world watches and does nothing, as unmoved as when Harry tries to choose between a beating and merciless cold each night. The United Church will stand by and do nothing, pretending that it hasn't murdered Harry and thousands of others. The RCMP will stand by and do nothing, either, since they helped to bury the slaughtered children. But they have warned me not to interfere with their latest destruction of evidence of a crime. The killing and coverup continues. Welcome to "Beautiful British Columbia." ......................................................................................................... 5 February, 2009 Kevin D. Annett 260 Kennedy St. Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2H8 250-753-3345 / 1-888-265-1007 The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared

Friday, February 06, 2009

Haldimand: Barrett's bill calls for inquiry into land disputes For Immediate Release February 5, 2009 Time to determine the truth about Caledonia - Barrett Private Members Bill calls for inquiry into land disputes Caledonia – When the Legislature resumes mid-February government will receive official notice of MPP Toby Barrett’s proposed legislation calling for an inquiry into the now three years of land disputes that have marred the landscape of Haldimand, Brant, Brantford and Six Nations. Barrett’s, “Truth about Caledonia Act, 2009” is set to be debated March 12th. Barrett’s Private Members Bill calls for an inquiry: 1. to determine the truth with respect to allegations of political influence in the court’s administration of justice and the police enforcement of the law with respect to activities in Six Nations, Haldimand County, Brant County and the City of Brantford; 2. to determine the truth with respect to the ownership of land within the boundaries of the former Haldimand Tract; and 3. to make recommendations directed to preventing similar chaotic confrontations when dealing with future land dispute issues in the province, including recommendations with respect to ways in which we can improve dispute resolution in this area and enhance respect for the courts and the rule of law; “As Opposition we began calling for an inquiry into Caledonia two and a half years ago – this proposed legislation builds on that motion, as well as Ken Hewitt’s petition to establish an inquiry into law enforcement,” stated Barrett. “It’s time we get all sides off this three-year hamster wheel.” Barrett pointed out that the Ipperwash report described inquiries as a way to “find out what happened – to look back,” as well as to “look forward,” and “propose policy reform.” The Haldimand-Norfolk MPP underlined his support for the public nature of inquiries as stressed in the Ipperwash report: “It provides a forum for citizens and groups to participate in the resolution of issues and the development of future policies…conducted in public view and with the participation of the public.” “As the impacts of the ongoing land disputes continue unabated, the need for an inquiry grows more urgent by the day,” Barrett concluded. “Just as the Ontario Liberals previously sought answers through three private members bills - and finally government legislation - creating the Ipperwash Inquiry, so too we need answers through a Caledonia Inquiry.” -30- For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at (519) 428-0446 or (905)-765-8413, 1-800-903-8629 This is an interesting development. A petition was circulated, now with about 5000 signatures, but it was poorly written and focused on an inappropriate and personal vendetta against OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino. It appears that Toby Barrett has turned it into a more appropriate bill for discussion in the legislature. I think it's an excellent idea. Well, except #2. The Feds may not agree, since that's their responsibility.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Canada wants to improve human rights as nobody's perfect: justice official GENEVA — A Canadian official said Tuesday Canada has a good human rights record but there is always room for improvement.John Sims, a deputy minister of justice and head of the Canadian delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Canada is proud of its record."No, it is not perfect, but it is very good," he said in an interview.He acknowledged that "nobody is perfect and that's true for Canada too. We know we can improve and we want to improve."The delegation is in Geneva to take part in the new Universal Periodic Review process at the UN Human Rights Council, which scrutinizes the record of its member countries.Much of the criticism of Canada from non-governmental organizations has been on the way its Aboriginal people have been treated."It's clear that there's been a very difficult past with Canada's Aboriginal people," Sims said. "Wrongs were done."He noted the prime minister made an apology last June "for the very sad legacy of the Indian residential schools.""So, we are trying to make amends. We are working very hard in partnership with Aboriginal communities to agree on the priorities that ought to be addressed and we are moving forward on a wide front on many, many issues." The UN council is spending several hours examining Canada's record. It is expected to report its findings and recommendations later in the week.Council members are looking at material presented by the government delegation as well as two independent reports providing less flattering views. A report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights compiles the observations and recommendations of experts in various fields.It notes that Canada has ratified 11 of the 16 core universal human rights treaties. When measured against many other countries, Canada comes out looking pretty good.But one group cited expresses concern that "Aboriginal and ethnic minority women suffer from multiple discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care, with high rates of poverty, lack of access to clean water and low school completion rates." The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing notes that for a highly developed, wealthy country, "Canada's poverty figures were striking."Another group of rights experts criticizes the broad definition of terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act. It calls on Canada to resist "racial profiling" and recommends that it include an explicit anti-discrimination clause in the law.The second parallel report submitted by 50 non-governmental organizations and other groups is even harsher in tone. It highlights the lack of equality, and the discriminatory treatment of Aboriginals, ethnic minorities, women and poor people. A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: For Canada to re-consider its position and endorse the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; to consider ratifying ILO Convention 169; to ensure that all relevant recommendations of UN treaty bodies were fully taken into account and that these did not restrict the development of Aboriginal rights in the country; to redouble efforts to settle territorial claims by Aboriginal people; to establish immediate means of redress and protection of rights of Aboriginal people and other ethno-minorities; to give the highest priority to addressing inequalities between Aboriginal and other citizens in Canada, particularly in economic development, education, citizen empowerment and protection of the vulnerable, resolution of land claims and reconciliation, governance and self-governance; to continue its efforts to tackle discrimination against Aboriginal women; and to address the root cause of domestic violence against women, in particular Aboriginal women.

Other recommendations included: To consider specific legislation on domestic violence; to take measures to help the effective access to justice for victims of domestic violence; to criminalize domestic violence; to properly investigate cases of the death of indigenous women; to take on board the recommendations of CEDAW to criminalize domestic violence; to strengthen enforcement of legislations and programmes on prohibition of commercial sexual exploitation of children; to monitor closely the situation of victims of human trafficking, women migrant workers and women prisoners; and to conduct a review of the effectiveness of legislation relevant to trafficking in human beings and to implement reforms, where necessary, to strengthen the protection of the rights of victims of trafficking.

Additionally, States recommended that Canada: Give appropriate attention to end racial discrimination against the Arab and Muslim communities in Canada including racial and religious profiling; to avoid the misuse of procedures to profile on the basis of race, religion and origin; to apply provisions of its hate speech law in a non-selective manner to cover incidents that may lead to incitement to racial and religious hatred and violence; to review its discriminatory national laws on security and to adopt sensitization campaigns to protect racial profiling and stereotyping certain national ethic, descent and race with terrorism; to combat socio-economic discrimination; to address the root causes of discrimination; to consider ratifying the Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities; and to ensure appropriate representation of minority communities at all levels of government.

Another set of recommendations included: To submit to scrutiny the regulations governing the use of “Taser” weapons; to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; to reinstate the current policy with regard to seeking clemency on behalf of all Canadian citizens sentences to death in other countries; to ensure that detention and prison facilities as well as standards for the treatment of juveniles were adjusted so that they were gender sensitive and ensure effective protection of personal safety of detainees and prisoners; to ensure effective access to justice; to consider ratifying the Convention on enforced and involuntary disappearances; to accede to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their families; to make immigration procedures more transparent and objective and take concrete measures; to accede to the pending visit request of the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants; and to launch a comprehensive reviews leading to legal and policy reforms which protected the rights of refugees and migrants.

Other recommendations included: To ratify international human rights instruments it had yet to; to establish an effective and inclusive process to follow up on UPR recommendations; to associate itself with the Institution Building package of the Human Rights Council; to intensify efforts to ensure that higher education was equally accessible to all on the basis of capacity; and to take on board the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, specifically to extend and enhance the national homelessness programme and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Programme.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Protect Mother Earth GEORGE BEAVER As a young boy growing up at Six Nations, I was exposed to the Haudenosaunee concept of conservation of our natural environment for the sake of our future generations. I remember reading the community newsletter called The Pine Tree Chief. It was a forerunner of the present weekly newspaper, the Tekawennake. In it, Andrew Jamieson, a teacher, writing about an old native hunter, said, "He never took more than he needed." The operative word here is "need" not "want." When hunting we may want to kill more than we can eat but if we remember our future generations, they, too, will need a share of nature's bounty. And that bounty extends further than just to animals, fish and birds. Clean water, pure air and rich soil for growing food is also a part of our environment that needs our protection. Our ancestors believed that it was their responsibility to protect Mother Earth. When their generation passed on, this responsibility was passed down to the next generation. This idea of stewardship of the Earth is also found in most First Nations of North America, not just among the Six Nations. This may be the reason history tells us the indigenous people had such a horror of selling land. In their philosophy, land, water and air were all regarded as necessities of life. As such they are priceless and not to be bought or sold. All of the present generation of all races should be taught that when we conserve our natural resources we are helping our children and grandchildren to survive. Furthermore, the unpolluted land, air and water we pass on to them will provide a healthy and happy environment in which they can live and thrive. What a shame on our present generation if we pass on polluted water, land and air to our future generations. It would be especially shameful for this to happen here in Canada, one of the richest countries on Earth. Surely polluting factories and businesses could set aside some of their great wealth and clean up the messes they create before it gets into our water and air. It is especially crucial that the earth itself is not polluted. To many people, the planet Earth is not just our home, it is Our Mother. After we are born we live on milk which indirectly comes from food grown on the earth. As we grow and develop teeth, we learn to eat the meat of animals that ate plants that grow on the earth. We also eat plants that grow on the earth. In a real sense the earth sustains us and keeps us alive. Many native people, both here and in the U. S. take very seriously their responsibility to protect and conserve the natural environment and Mother Earth.
BRANT COUNTY: Committee overrides provincial policy, rezones farmland.
The committee was willing to override its own planning department and provincial policy, and proceed with the rezoning of about 400 acres of farmland. Cainsville a developer's paradise? Posted By MICHAEL-ALLANMARION Updated 14 hours ago Some major plots of farmland just north of Cainsville are yielding an unusual harvest of social conflict. Three outside development companies -- Alberta-based Hopewell Development Inc. and two Toronto area companies, First Urban of Concord and the Sorbara Group of Vaughan -- have raised the ire of some local residents and the political temperature of Brant council with their plans to build homes and a business park on farmland they've acquired on the east side of Garden Avenue, north of Highway 403. First Urban, Hopewell and Sorbara propose three separate development areas, including two residential neighbourhoods and a business park that would dramatically transform the cash crop fields that surround Cainsville. Overall, the plan includes about 1,700 housing units, surrounded by parks, a trail system and businesses. The largest parcel proposed for development, is a 218-acre site owned by First Urban that could accommodate up to 1,116 housing units. North of that, Hopewell developments wants to create a 135-acre business park that would include more than 2 million square feet of space for businesses. Sorbara wants to build between 590 and 704 homes on a 184-acre site, located north of Lynden Road. The land is zoned for agricultural uses and is still designated that way in the county's official plan update. When some of those plans came up for scrutiny in two meetings of the county's planning advisory committee during the past two weeks, a lot was heard about a bright future for Cainsville. A lot more was revealed, however, about the suddenly professed peril of the county's fiscal soul and the ebbing political will of councillors. According to the discussion being carried on by agents for the developers, several councillors and some of the residents, it would appear that the land whose fate they were pondering is marginal from an agricultural standpoint. Its best crop would be houses and business buildings, and its true value is to be found in the development charges and tax revenues.

And of course, that's all that matters ... money for developers and the council. Quality of life? Greenspace? Phhht ! ...!money!money! BRANTFORD CITY

Calnan quits committee City Coun. James Calnan says he has no choice but to resign from a committee that deals with First Nations issues to avoid rules that continually would muzzle him. Read Tuesday's Expositor for the full story.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Canada

Pathways to an ethic of struggle (Taiaiake Alfred)

Canadian Dimension Magazine, January/February 2007 Issue

My discovery of what colonization really is took a long time in coming. It took a long time because you can’t understand the impact of these powerful forces of disconnection upon our people until you work within this system and try to make change. That’s the reason why this understanding is the sum of my own political experience, my lived experience. But it took a really intense effort over the past ten or twelve years to come to an intellectual understanding of it, and really to find a way to articulate it.

Lack of Self-Government?

In my first book, I wrote that the problem was a lack of self-government. Back then, that’s the way the problem of colonization was defined. It’s still the dominant discourse in Native communities.

But from the personal perspective of a person from Kahnawake and a person who has travelled and talked to a lot of Native people who still have a commitment to our ancestors’ objectives and to the values and principles of living like an indigenous person in a modern era what I found was this: Self-government isn’t enough. In fact, it is a kind of Trojan horse for capitalism, consumerism, individualism.

So, in my own path, I shifted political affiliations. I had managed to work my way up from a measly researcher/coffee go-getter for guys like Billy Two Rivers and Joe Norton, guys who I still really respect and learned a lot from. I worked my way up to senior advisor on land and governance, and I had started taking on a lot more responsibility. But when you come to the realization that it’s taking you in a direction not consistent with the direction that your ancestors would have you go you have a choice to make and it’s this: Do I embark on a different pathway? Or do I remain on this pathway, but compromise my idea of what it is to be a Mohawk?

Now, anybody who knows the language, the ceremonies, the teachings anybody who has heard traditional elders talk about what it is to be a Native person they are all very, very clear about your responsibilities, your roles, your relationship to the land, your relationship to one another. Those lessons are so, so profound and so clear when you hear them, and they are taught to us over and over and over again. So, when you are on this pathway, you find yourself coming to the point where you have to give up what you’ve accomplished your position, your salary, your consulting fees.

And you have to re-imagine what the elders would have wanted you to do.

Heeding the Voices of the Ancestors

So, I titled my next book, Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors. This was because I found myself reinterpreting the voices of my ancestors rather than heeding the voices of the ancestors. I figured it’s time to get out of that business.

Luckily for me, I had a day job, teaching in a university. I realized that teaching affords a person a lot of insulation in terms of freedom of movement and thought. You have a job and you have a means to sustain yourself that’s not dependent upon the political structure that you’re working with at any one time. So, taking advantage of that shifted directions a little bit.

The book was an exploration of what it would be to be a traditional leader today. I really took my task seriously, saying to myself: “If I listen to all the teachings, if I listen for hours and hours and if I read as much as I can, and if I put as much intellectual energy as I have and try and understand what it is to be, in our language, a chief which literally translates as ‘a good man’ how would I do that today?”

And what I found it involves is a traditional ceremony from the Mohawk, from the Iroquois culture actually, Haudenosaunee culture. It’s the condolence ceremony when a chief passes away or a clan mother passes away. A new one is raised up and there’s a whole cycle of ceremonies where different elements of leadership are brought to this person. This is all done through songs, teaching and speeches.

A Revival of Traditional Forms of Government

Of course, that led me to a second level: It isn’t enough just to have space; you need to fill it up with something indigenous. The answer I came to is, that what we need to do is this: We need to revive our traditional forms of government. We need to raise up the long house again, so to speak; we need to raise up those chiefs, those clan mothers; we need to rebuild the long house. We need to restore our traditional forms of government. It’s a dominant theme in Native communities that traditional government is the antidote to the corruption, to the abuse of power, to the disempowerment of our communities.

But there’s a fundamental problem there, too. The fundamental problem is that our people are not the same as they were a hundred or two hundred years ago, when these traditional governments were functioning in their full power and their full capacity. In saying this, I am not pointing fingers. I’m more looking in the mirror and looking at my family, my friends and everybody I know. I don’t think anybody would disagree that our people collectively today have been weakened by colonization. Our language, our culture, our understanding of history, our sense of trust, our wholeness, our relationships, the power that we possess as individuals and as family, the ability to work together, the unity that we had that is the foundation of everything for our people our understanding of our relationship to nature, our communication with the spirit world.

In all these ways we really have lost a lot.

Yet the systems of government that we’re trying to bring forward and raise up again as traditional forms of government are crucially dependent on the very things we lack today. So, it’s not enough to call for traditional government. It started to dawn on me that the problem really is the way we have been de-cultured as a people. We’ve been disconnected from who we are as a people, from the sources of our strength and our very survival: land, culture, community. Those things have been broken, or nearly so, by colonization.

In my view, that’s really the root of the problem. Colonization is a process of disconnecting us from our responsibilities to each other and our respect for one another, our responsibilities and our respect for the land, and our responsibilities and respect for the culture. It’s that simple and that profound. It took me fifteen years to work it through. I went through the educational system and the political system. Some people might say, you should have just opened your ears and listened when the elders told you that to begin with. But I was 24, and I didn’t really listen that well. I had to learn from experience and go down those other pathways to figure out what the problem was.

Modernity and Aboriginal Identity

The eventual solution the one with integrity for our people is one that allows us to remain indigenous and still engaged with modern society. That’s the hope.

more ...

My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Two Row Wampum Treaty

Two Row Wampum Treaty
"It is said that, each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the river side by side. Further, it is said, that neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other." This is a treaty among Indigenous Nations, and with Canada. This is the true nature of our relationships with Indigenous Nations of 'Kanata'.