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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

'I can't even describe it in words'
Toronto G20 Protests: By the Minute

by Gwalgen Geordie Dent →Canadian Foreign Policy, →Toronto News
Illegal Search and Arrest PHOTO Nadim
Queen's Park

I'm late. Throngs of protesters moving South on Queen. There's thousands of people here. Unconfirmed reports that people have been detained from Queen's Park before the march even began.

A damn fool is risking 'death by yoga' at University and Queen. We just passed by the heavily fortified US consulate at University and Armoury. There are hundreds of groups here including many of the big names: Canadian Labour Congress, Amnesty, a couple COmmunist Parties, the UFCW, Greenpeace, CUPE and a host of other smaller groups. It's amazing: there's well above 10,000 people here. The largest previous G8 protest in North America was 3,000 people.

Me and a couple of Alternative Media Centre folks run up ahead to try to get to the front of the march. This involves running full tilt from University Av. to Spadina Av. through the huge swaths of people. We don't even come close the the front of the march. We pass the a group of protesters employing the Black Bloc tactic. They are protesting peacefully. The police are halting any movement to the South of Queen St. by long lines of cops blocking each street with huge presence of police in the background.

Protesters are breaking off towards the fence at Spadina and Queen. CUPE 1005 Steelworkers are one of the first groups to approach the riot line and confront police. Thousands of others turn toward the police lines and an immediate stalemate. Marimba bands and various groups show up.

Montreal riot police show up. Protesters are throwing flowers at police while the Black Bloc'ers have come and gone without a fuss. Someone lights a flare creating a lot of smoke and confusing atmosphere. The police just used tear gas.

People are reporting clashes with police back towards University. A protester is sporting an arm brace from getting batoned by a cop. Other protesters are reporting beatings from police. One man had a serious head injury and a lot of blood loss from police beating him over the head.

I start walking back towards Universtiy on Queen but am stopped by a riot line of police protecting a smashed in cop car about 50 meters from Spadina. Seems like someone has run amok. There's every kind of police here today. RCMP, Toronto Police, York Police, Peel Police, and a couple of other cop patches including one that says "POU". The police are holding tasers and have pepper sprayed people. Someone teels me there is a fire downtown and I steathly make my way through the line.

I'm a little taken aback. Targetted vandalism is visable all along Queen and Toronto has erupted into chaos. Starbucks, Nike, Scotiabank, TD, BMO, CIBC, Royal Bank all got the brunt of some window smashing and spray-paint. Not sure if the Canadian banks $125 Billion bailout will cover it. I'm also hearing reports that the fire was actually a torched police cruiser . Reports later claim that a number of business have been hit including an American Apparel, a Pizza-Pizza, a Tim Hortons and some small businesses. There are small bands of protesters EVERYWHERE and handfuls of 100-200 are challenging police at various spots. No signs of any protester violence.

King and Bay. The so-called 'burnt out cop car' is being shielded by cops so I choose another route to get a closer look. I hit another police wall before the cops start moving in on protesters and pushing them back. So I go through a shortcut! I make sure to thank the police several times for assaulting several people, 100's of illegal detentions and searches and for punching one of my colleges in the face yesterday. Twice. As a single guy with a press pass, I move through some nooks and crannies easily. I somehow end up on the other side of both riot lines.

Well it turns out the report of a burnt and destroyed car was not exactly true. There were 2 cars burnt and 4 were destroyed. The cars are totalled and the BMO, Scotiabank and CIBC nearby have been vandalized.

It's like night and day down here. I'm on the other side of the police lines and can see bedlam and clashing between bands of police and protesters on many streets North of here. South is quiet and relaxed. Many delegate drivers are milling about. The G20 leaders are living in peace behind their castle walls. The centre of the financial district is eeringly ominous and still after what I've already seen.

I'm heading North on University with a newly found media partner. A man is walking South. He has a small stick (the size of a drumstick), a bell that he's hitting and a bag. A police officer confronts him but he keeps walking. The police officer (TPS Constable #2256) starts demanding things and pushing him around saying that he's going to lose his bag. The man doesn't say a word to him and tries to ignore him and keeps picking up his things which the cop keeps throwing on the ground. The officer has not charged him with anything or recieved his consent to search his bag (this is commonly known as 'police breaking the law'). As the man continues to be uncooperative, the cop throws him to the ground, sits on his back and arrests him. I ask repeated times what he is charged with and the police officer tells me "this doesn't concern you."

Trying to get back to my bike and instead run into 100's of riot police marching and several other Alternative Media Centre journalists. Another standoff with police. The Downtown core resembles a decentralized and unfocused riot. We again thank the police numerous times for for assaulting several people, 100's of illegal detentions and searches and for punching one of my colleges in the face yesterday. Twice.

We head up to Queens park seeing sporadic vandalism along the way. Lots of vandalism but no protester violence to speak of. Protesters are not attacking or using force with police in any way.

Queen's Park, the 'designated' protest zone has turned into a war zone. I'm there about 10 minutes; enough to see police viciously grabbing peaceful protesters, most of them sitting on the pavement and arrsting them. A staunch standoff occurs with police running out to grab heckling protesters every 30 seconds, advancing to push protesters back and shooting them with hundreds of gaseous tear gas pellets and rubber bullets. A number of these protesters have not confronted police at all today and many of them were not protesting. Hundreds of protesters are being pushed back.

I snake through the University of Toronto to find my bike.

Back at the Alternative Media Centre. We're hearing reports of chaos all over the City. Queen's park protesters are apparently being pushed back and arrested on mass. More reports of rubber bullets and violence against protesters. Updated reports coming in that many organizers have been arrested, searched and detained illegally. Two Alternative Media Centre journalists have been arrested. Chicago Indymedia Centre has been denied entry at the border. Events being planned to help those in jail. Ongoing confontations between police and peaceful protesters.

Got this message from someone who went to Queens Park:

"My mom, me and my brother we were all at Queen's Park and we just got there 30 seconds before they said move. They pushed back all of us with their bikes and pepper sprayed us. They were pushing my mom and me and throwing punches at my brother and they just kept pushing forward and saying "move move move" and not really caring who was there. I have cancer and I kept saying "I have cancer, I have cancer," but they didn't care, they just kept pushing forward.

They just said "move! move!" I didn't provoke anything or say anything. I wasn't protesting, my brother was before, but I was just curious to see what was going on. We didn't have time [to move], we did not have any time to react.

We have to be seen by paramedics and stuff. We're going home soon but we're with paramedics right now. No one from the police talked to us."

Alternative Media Centre story meeting. We've got coverage of everything that happened today. We're hearing rolling updates of a major protest near the security fence with protesters demanding to speak with a leader of the G20. There's also a massive protest at the Novatel hotel. Queen's Park protesters have been crushed with mass arrests. We miss friends and our co-workers who are in jail right now.

Mass arrests of people peacefully protesting at the Novatel hotel. We're hearing 150 people and 70 people still there. More raids, police violence and arrests of Alternative Media Centre people. We send them our love.

Still random pockets of people trying to confront the G20. I head to all night reporting at CKLN, with great interviews, music and analysis.

We're hearing 100's of people rallying on Eastern Av. for jail solidarity are being surrounded by Police.

30 people arrested by police for unlawful assembly. They were told if they left they would not be arrested, but the police lied. Thanks. Police followed and have now arrested a large portion of the rally. A number of them have been processed already. Patrick, one of the protesters, is live on air at CKLN and watching his friends get arrested. Sorry Patrick.

Still reporting...

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Can Little Corpses Forgive, or Be Apologized To?
Awakening from Canada's Big Lie
by Kevin D. Annett

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it .
Adolf Hitler, 1925

You have to admit it, but the Canadian establishment has to be pretty nervous these days, if you judge by its unfolding circus in Winnipeg.

I expected at first for the Indian residential school "Truth and Reconciliation" (TRC) bandwagon to do its usual photo op and move on, after the typically expensive fanfare and self-congratulations. But no. The lies and obscenities are growing on what they feed on. Hot on the heels of the TRC posturing there is descending on Winnipeg in a single week 280 world religious leaders, followed by a United Nations human rights delegation, and finally, Queen Elizabeth herself - all of them bubbling with praise for Canada's human rights record towards aboriginal people.

Liz Windsor, true to form, will have the unmitigated gall to unveil a statue of herself in Winnipeg on July 3, just before laying a piece of soil from Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed, at the foundation of Canada's new "human rights museum", which hosts not a single exhibit of the genocide of Indians in Canada.

Some of us wrote to Queen Liz over two years ago, asking her to identify where the children who died at the hands of her church and state are buried. She never replied. But William Combes, who survived torture and starvation at the Catholic Indian residential school in Kamloops, B.C., wants the Queen to also explain what happened to ten native children who were last seen in her company in the fall of 1964, and disappeared forever.

"The Queen showed up at the school one day in September, she and her husband, when I was eleven" described William on my radio program last year.

"All of us kids at the school were given clean clothes and breakfast that day for her royal visit. We went down to a big field near Dead Man's Creek and had a picnic with her after she did her tour. After that, she went off with seven boys and three girls, and we never saw any of them, ever again."

The truth is that the topsoil has finally blown off the mass graves of more than 50,000 children who never returned from residential school, and those responsible are doing their damnedest to distract all of us from those revealed, tiny corpses. And what better decoy to use than an appeal to our deep collective need, as the guilty party, to be forgiven and to get off lightly for our crime?

A Big Lie can only be believed if those hearing it need to believe it: and in this case, Canadians' need for self-absolution for their century-long slaughter of innocent children has been our primary response to the residential schools revelation.

Every politician and Bishop in Canada knows this, and they've crafted their rhetoric and actions accordingly. But there's an odd sort of panic in the way they're going about it, using such overkill in their ridiculous stacking and censoring of their "official inquiry" into themselves that it suggests a deep and underlying uncertainty and fear by church and state.Undoubtedly this explains how thickly Ottawa and its church partners have been laying it on in Winnipeg since June 16, relying on a smiling Governor General, church celebrities, and the Queen herself to push the Big Lie that every crime, and every corpse, can be swept away with the right words.

The trouble with overkill is that it produces the opposite of its desired effect. For even residential school survivors who came to the TRC believing in it have come away hurt, angry and determined to be heard in some other forum.

Shirley, a Cree woman from northern Saskatchewan, told me,

"Nobody would pay our way to Winnipeg, and there was twenty of us who wanted to speak. So I came all by myself and I waited three days, and I never got to be heard. Except for a few token Indians, the whites were running the show, and they kept looking at me suspiciously and said I had to let them see my statement before I could speak. I said to them, I just want to speak, I don't have it written out, and they just snubbed me after that."

Peter Yellow Quill, an Anishinabe traditional chief who helped lead an anti-TRC protest outside the event, said afterwards,

"People themselves kept raising the whole missing children thing. They kept saying, 'We need help finding our dead relatives.' They were just ignored. There weren't court reporters present so everyone could see it wasn't even a proper hearing. I think the government people are just exposing themselves and they have no way out, really, and it worries them."

Voices like Shirley and Peter never reach "mainstream" Canada or the world, thanks to the loyal compliance of the media in shutting them out. A total of eight different news agencies refused to report our anti-TRC protest in Winnipeg, or quote natives who called for an international inquiry into genocide in Canada, including the CBC, the Globe and Mail, the Winnipeg Free Press, CTV, the Canadian Press and even ostensibly "radical" news agencies like Rabble and Canadian Dimension magazine.

"It was a total media blackout on us, by everybody" commented one protester.

"The only reason reporters would call me up would be to find out what we were doing that day, probably to tell the feds or the cops. But they'd never do a story on us."

All of this, of course, is a sign of the impact the voices of the living, and the dead, are having on churches and a government which, like the Vatican itself, have run out of options as they stand finally exposed as mass murderers and serial child rapists.

My problem these days is less with the criminals - for they are, after all, ultimately just corporations in damage control - and more with the masses of Canadians, beginning with "progressives" of every hue, who stand by with absolute non-interest regarding the greatest crime and cover-up in our history.

Awakening from a lie, particularly a huge and historical one, is always difficult. But when so many "activists" across Canada studiously shun our rallies at churches demanding that the corpses of children be returned, or that child rapists in high places be arrested and tried, then one wonders what has happened to the soul and the conscience of our people.

After years of acting in the wilderness to expose and undo the Canadian genocide, our efforts are finally igniting a response around the world, especially in the recent formation of an eight-nation International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State - a body that will be confronting the Pope in September and convening local non-governmental tribunals throughout the fall in Europe and on this continent.

In the meantime, it is incumbent on all Canadians to at least loosen their mental and spiritual subservience to the Big Lie and Criminal Conspiracy called Christian Canada - and shift their allegiance away from a murderous Crown and Church to a new social order that some have called a Republic of Kanata.

Stay tuned.


Kevin Annett is a community minister, author and award-winning film maker who lives in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, Canada. He is a co-founder of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, and can be heard every Monday at 1 pm (pacific time) on his program "Hidden from History" at .

ph: 386-323-5774
260 Kennedy St.
nanaimo, B.C. Canada V9R 2H8

Read and Hear the truth of Genocide in Canada, past and present, at this website: , and watch Kevin's award-winning documentary film UNREPENTANT on the same website.

UNREPENTANT: Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide
- Winner, Best Foreign Documentary Film, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, March 2007, Best Director of a Foreign Documentary, New York Independent Film Festival, October 2006
- Winner, Best Canadian Film, Creation Aboriginal Film Festival, Edmonton, 2009

“Kevin is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many who have received it in the past.”
- Dr. Noam Chomsky
Institute Professor Emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"As a long time front line worker with the Elders' Council at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, I stand behind what Kevin Annett is trying to do for our people. The genocide that continues today and which stemmed from the residential schools needs to be exposed. Kevin Annett helps break the silence, and brings the voice of our people all over the world."
Carol Muree Martin - Spirit Tree Woman
Nisgaa Nation

"I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him."
Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind
Elder, Turtle Clan, Anishinabe Nation
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Thursday, June 17, 2010

G8/G20 403 400 BLOCKADES ...

First Nations group plans blockade on highways 403, 400
June 17, 2010

A First Nations rights group is still planning highway blockades around Toronto despite an apparent warning from Canada's spy agency and heavy security around the G20 meeting of world leaders.
The blockades are planned for either Highway 400 or Highway 403 next Thursday to tell the world that, "everything is not OK in Canada for native people," said Red Power United spokesman Harrison Friesen.

Plans have been in the works for the actions since April.

An Aboriginal Peoples Television Network report that CSIS warned the group that blockades around Toronto could be met with resistance by foreign security services has only increased support, Friesen said.

"(Warnings from CSIS) have not had a negative affect on us," said Friesen. "After the CSIS issue, more support was shown for us."

The 403 runs from Woodstock, Ont., to Mississauga, Ont., just west of Toronto, and Highway 400 runs north between Toronto and Barrie, Ont.

A blockade is also planned on the Trans-Canada Highway the same day near Thunder Bay, Ont.
World leaders are gathering in Toronto on June 26-27 for the G20 summit, which will be preceded by the G8 summit in Hunstville, deep in Ontario's cottage country, from June 25-26.
It's expected the leaders will arrive at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and travel by helicopter to the G8, and by car along Highway 427 to the G20 in Toronto.
The blockades would not interrupt those plans.

However, a motorcade making the nearly three-hour trek to Huntsville would likely travel along Highway 400.

Friesen said plans are to hold the "non-violent" blockades for as long as it takes to have their message heard.

"We want the Stephen Harper government to realize that we will not back down," said Friesen. "We will only resist if (police) threaten violence against us. We want these to be peaceful blockade demonstrations and nothing more than that.

"I will not allow any of our people to be harmed on that day."

Friesen said he expects between 20 to 30 men and women to participate in the Toronto-area blockades.
Michael Boucher, from Fort William First Nation, Ont., said he expects about 200 people to turn out for a planned five-hour blockade on the Trans-Canada Highway near Thunder Bay. He is meeting with the Ontario Provincial Police to inform them of their plans.

"I have two children and I was thinking that by the time my kids are older, with they way things are going, their rights are going to be diminished," he said.

"I am fighting for my children's rights and my family and friends."
In an exchange captured on video by APTN National News, a person that the network says is a CSIS agent warns Friesen his group could face a reaction from foreign security agencies if they blocked Highway 400.

"I will tell you that straight up, because there's going to be people travelling there from all over the world and different countries do not have the same perspective on activists as our county does," the woman says.

"There's other forces that are from other countries that will not put up with a blockade in front of their president."
CSIS would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting took place, citing security and privacy reasons.

Canadian Press


The Indigenous Peoples of Canada have a legal right to blockade Canada's transportation routes. They run across Treaty and Traditional Aboriginal Territories protected by the Canadian Constitution (Sec 35). Since Treaty and Aboriginal rights have not been honoured,
The TRUTH about Canada: Child asks "WHY?!"

Canada's court-ordered, internationally monitored 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission'into the 'Indian' Residential Schools has just begun. All Canadians need to understand that these were not just 'schools', but a government designed policy for a means of destroying the culture, customs, heritage and birthrights of Indigenous Peoples. In particular, the schools were planned by Canada's government "to take the land out of the Indians hands". (Egerton Ryerson, 1847) The 'Indian' Residential Schools were just one of Canada's weapons of GENOCIDE against Indigenous Peoples who had, and have legal title to the lands and resources of Canada.

The struggle continues for Indigenous Peoples of 'Kanata' to reclaim their birthright - Aboriginal Rights and Title to the lands of Canada - a say in development and a share in the revenues from the land. Indigenous Peoples also struggle to overcome the horrific personal legacies of Canada's 'Indian' Residential Schools - the traumas of over 100 years of chronic abuse and neglect, separation from family and culture, and the losses of friends and relatives who died or 'disappeared' in the schools.

Over 50,000 Indigenous children died or disappeared in Canada's 'Indian' Residential Schools, and their fates and burial places remain a mystery as their graves are unmarked and sometimes hidden: Unmarked and mass graves of these children exist all across Canada.
NOTE: See sidebar, and see previous articles here, esp. Globe and Mail.

Boy, 11, slams residential schools legacy
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 | 9:28 PM CST Comments134Recommend235
CBC News
Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, speaks during a sharing circle in which persons affected by residential schools shared their experiences. Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, speaks during a sharing circle in which persons affected by residential schools shared their experiences. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

An 11-year-old boy stole the spotlight at the opening day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings into the tragedy of Canada's residential schools.

The former foster child, who turned up to ceremonies at The Forks in Winnipeg on Wednesday, told CBC News that members of his family still suffer from the aftershocks the federal government's former policies had on his grandparents and elders.

He cannot be identified because he's a former ward of the child-welfare system — a system he says continues to remove children from their homes and places them in care where they are sometimes subjected to abuse.

'I want a good explanation why all our elders went to residential schools.'— Former Manitoba foster child, 11

In Manitoba, recent data from the provincial children's advocate shows there are more kids in state care than ever before, most of them spread across a number of regional child-welfare authorities throughout the province.

"When I was a baby, like two years old, I was taken away from my Mom to a foster home," the boy said. "And still nothing has changed. They might do something today for residential schools but nothing's changed.

"Well, some kids are still in foster homes, still kids are still being treated bad and you cannot take away what happen to those people that went to residential schools," he said.

He wondered why the government wanted residential schools to exist in the first place, given their legacy of damage and trauma.

"That doesn't, what you call, make sense — like why would they do that?," the boy said. "And still, still, still today, our grandfathers and grandmothers — our elders — are still sad about what happened," he said.

"I want a good explanation why all our elders went to residential schools."
Stories note loss of language

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend the government and church-run schools over much of the last century. The last one closed outside Regina in 1996. About 85,000 former students are still alive.
Jack Beardy, 65, leans against his cane during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's opening ceremonies in Winnipeg on Wednesday morning. Jack Beardy, 65, leans against his cane during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's opening ceremonies in Winnipeg on Wednesday morning. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The $60-million truth commission, meant to expose and expiate the pain and suffering caused by the policy, was part of a landmark deal reached with survivors who had filed a class-action lawsuit against Ottawa and the churches that ran the schools.

Others also shared their experiences — some in private, some in public — with those at the commission charged with recording their stories for a national public archive.

Robert Joseph, from British Columbia, told the commission he was sexually abused by two people as a young student. He said he used to hide under his blankets and dream about his family, whom he was not allowed to see.

Leanne Sleigh, from Alberta, told the commission she felt worthless after attending a residential school where she was sexually abused.

Mary Simon, head of Canada's largest Inuit group, said she was made to feel ashamed of her culture at a day school in northern Quebec. She said she had her hand strapped whenever she spoke her language.
Healing and forgiveness

While many spoke of their trauma and anger toward the government and those who ran the schools, others, such as Rev. Guy Lavallee from St. Laurent, Man., spoke of the need for healing and forgiveness.

Lavallee, a Catholic priest who is Metis, said he understands why people are upset.

"I think that animosity has been in the minds [and] hearts of survivors for many years now," he said. "They have the opportunity to express themselves fully here."

All Canadians need to take part in the commission's work, he said.

It is expected that more than 5,000 people, including former students, leaders of aboriginal organizations, church groups and members of the general public will attend the event during its four days in Winnipeg.

The commission has the ability to record as many as 600 statements from survivors during its time in the city.

By noon Wednesday, about 50 people had given one.


Read more:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

$1.1M for G20 posters ...

Summit wallpaper for behind podiums the latest bit of federal fiscal fun
Toronto Sun

Last Updated: June 10, 2010 12:00am

A pal who once served as a senior Canadian diplomat in Washington tells the story of having to change the locks on his diplomatic mansion to keep the government decorators from continuously renovating the place.

Canadian taxpayers, he says, have nothing to fear from the limo crowd more than an army of Foreign Affairs decorators all cashed up with nothing to paint.

This may help to explain how the federal government is managing to blow millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on a fake lake and other ridiculous decorations for the coming G8 and G20 summits in Toronto and in Muskoka cottage country to the north.

The latest bit of fiscal fun at public expense is $1,102,500 — wait for it — for backdrops in the two meeting halls hosting the summits.

No joke: Foreign Affairs is shelling out over a million bucks for those really big banners and signboards commonly used as backdrops behind speakers’ podiums.

These will be used mainly to decorate the meeting halls in Toronto and Muskoka where the world leaders will be gathering for their gabfest and photo op.

An executive with the company installing the expensive props explains they provide suitable decor and messaging in camera shots of the leaders and other speakers.

It doesn’t seem to matter that most media toting those cameras won’t be allowed within several kilometres of either the Muskoka or Toronto meeting halls to shoot the million-bucks-worth of backdrops, much less the bigwigs standing in front of them.

The exec says that outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre there will be some really big billboards, presumably with catchy slogans such as: Welcome to the G8/G20 summit.

Aside from letting Barack Obama and his several thousands handlers know he’s in the right place, the giant signs will provide a security screen for leaders arriving in their limos.

Inside, the exec tells us, the company is creating and installing “all the backdrops that you’ll see on camera within the context of all the meeting rooms, etc.

“This is all the environment that is required in the space to outfit the rooms to make them suitable for the purpose.”

Translation: The company is putting up some really big pictures.

Not just any pretty pictures, of course.

The exec says: “Obviously we want to use the graphics as opportunities to focus on things that are iconic to Canada. So there’s a Toronto sillouette, there’s maple leafs (sic), and various other content.”

Please, sir, say that for a million bucks we are not showcasing the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Oh, no, no, no. This is about success.”

None of this, of course, should be confused with the fake lake and other Disneyesque nonsense costing taxpayers $2 million to dress up an entirely different Toronto convention hall being used as a media centre during the three-day confab.

If the insatiable Foreign Affairs decorators wanted to capture the true essence of the summits, they would have backdrops depicting a billion-dollar sinkhole.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Children’s services on reserves and human rights

June 02, 2010
Craig Benjamin
Toronto Star

Over the next two days, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal will decide whether or not to continue hearings into the federal government’s underfunding of children’s services in First Nations reserves. The decision should be of pressing interest to anyone concerned about human rights in Canada.

First Nations children on reserves are eight times more likely than other children to be put into foster care or government institutions. These children are being taken from their families and their communities for a wide range of reasons, but the most common is what’s called “neglect.” This includes conditions of poverty, poor housing and physical and mental illnesses suffered by their parents. In other words, their families have not been able to provide the care that these children need. Not without support.

Advocates for the rights of First Nations children have long pointed out that things don’t need to be this way. If children’s services on reserves were linked to the needs of the children and equitable to services available in other communities, early intervention programs and other services could assure that more children receive the care they need and deserve without taking them away from their homes and their culture.

In 2000, the Department of Indian Affairs took part in a study that determined that, on average, the federal government spends 22 per cent less per child for children’s services on reserves than their provincial counterparts spend in predominantly non-aboriginal communities. This is despite the greater expense and greater need created by the remoteness of many aboriginal communities and the lasting harm caused by past government policies, such as the residential schools.
Canada’s only response is a model called “enhanced funding” that the auditor general has already ruled inequitable. Even this approach is not available in all regions.

The fact that this issue is now before the Human Rights Tribunal reflects the failure of successive federal governments to do the right thing for children and families by acting on the findings of their own reports and independent experts.
Two years ago, the federal government formally apologized for the forced removal of children from their homes and families during the residential school era. Like many Canadians, I felt that this apology was a welcome step toward the necessary and long-overdue reconciliation of aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples. Justice, however, requires more than just words. Justice requires that every effort must be made to undo the harm that has been done and to ensure that the wrong is never repeated.

Sadly, it’s a test that the Government of Canada is failing. Overall, the number of First Nations children placed in foster care is higher today than at the height of residential school operations. And the federal government is fighting against being held accountable for its failings.

The Human Rights Tribunal has been asked to determine whether the underfunding of First Nations child services constitutes discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Federal Court has already denied government requests to prevent the tribunal hearing on this case. Now the government is trying the same tactics at the tribunal. This week the tribunal will consider the government’s claim that the Human Rights Act applies only to the delivery of government services, and not to the funding decisions that ultimately determine the kind and quality of services that can be provided.

This is legal hairsplitting but it has potentially serious consequences for human rights. The area of child and family services is only one among many where First Nations institutions deliver services based on funding formulas set by the federal government. If the government is able to convince the tribunal to throw out this case, it would create a large gap in human rights accountability for government decisions in critical areas such as First Nations health and education.

One of the ironies of this case is that this is the same government that two years ago refused to the support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, arguing that Canada was better off relying on the Canadian Human Rights Act alone. Now, in its submission to the tribunal, the government is arguing that its funding of services on First Nations reserves should be excluded from both domestic and international human rights standards. What happens to the children if they are successful?

Canadians should demand better. For the welfare of First Nations children. And for the basic principle of universal human rights protection.

Craig Benjamin is Amnesty International’s c
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'.