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

Saturday, March 19, 2011

 First Nations Claim Dismissed On Legal Loophole

Canada: First Nations Child And Family Caring Society Of Canada To Appeal Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Decision To Dismiss Discrimination Claim For First Nations Children On A Legal Loophole

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 23:08
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada is deeply concerned with the ruling today from Shirish Chotalia, Chair of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, to dismiss the complaint filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations in 2007 alleging that the Federal Government is racially discriminating against First Nations children by providing less child welfare benefit on reserve. Chair Chotalia dismissed the case on a preliminary motion brought by the Federal Government even though the Federal Government had tried, and failed, to get the case dismissed on similar grounds in Federal Court on two previous occasions. Chair Shirish Chotalia did not address the overwhelming evidence of the inequity and harm experienced by First Nations children on reserves even though she was in possession of numerous reports confirming the problems such as the Auditor General of Canada (2008), the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (2009) and internal documents from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Instead, Chair Shirish Chotalia dismissed the case on a legal technicality suggesting that the Federal Government can provide a different, and inequitable, level of service to First Nations children so long as the Provinces/Territories provide the service to all other children. In issuing this ruling, Chair Shirish Chotalia, in effect legalized racial discrimination against vulnerable children on reserve by the Federal Government.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada will immediately appeal Chair Shirish Chotalia's decision to Federal Court. This case is being followed by over 7200 Canadians and organizations making it the most formally watched court case in Canadian history. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, says that "the Government of Canada should not be immune from human rights laws and obligations to First Nations children because of a legal technicality and we will take all necessary measures to ensure that this case is decided in a public forum on the full set of facts - the children deserve nothing less." The appeal will be filed in Federal Court in the next 30 days.

Source: First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

Canada’s Struggle to Extinguish Aboriginal Title

Our connection to the Land is Sacred, it defines who we are as Peoples, it is our Aboriginal Title. Our laws and teachings bid us to honour and protect our connection to the Land. In the roots which bind our Peoples to the Land there is a life and a future for our Peoples.

Canada cannot understand our Sacred connection to the Land, our Aboriginal Title. It is “uncertain,” because it prevents Indigenous Peoples from viewing the Land as a commodity to be bought, sold or traded. From Canada’s perspective, our Aboriginal Title has to be changed, altered, and defined in a treaty so that it fits with Canadian laws and ideas about Land.

Canada’s strive for certainty reflects a desire that Indigenous Peoples assimilate into Canada, that we sever our connection to the Land. Canada asks that we dig up the roots connecting us to the Land and replant them through treaties. This lack of understanding and fear about our connection to the Land is what Canada strives to address through certainty.

For Indigenous Peoples, our Aboriginal Title and connection to the Land is certain, it is in the bones of our grandmothers buried in the earth, and in the blood which beats in our hearts:
Our Sacred connection to the Land is certain.

Our relationship with the Land, our Title, rests over every square inch of our traditional territories: Every rock, mountain top, stream, valley and tidal swell. This is certain.

Indigenous Peoples have the jurisdiction and responsibility to protect, access and use the Land and resources upon the Land for the benefit of our Peoples. This is certain.

Our own traditional laws and teachings grant us this certainty: As long as we maintain our Sacred connection to the Land we will continue to exist as Peoples.

Canada and B.C. have said that the purpose of treaties or modern land claims agreements is to achieve “certainty”. This booklet discusses the certainty provisions that have been suggested. In particular, a confidential document, “Certainty Summary”, which was drafted by the province.

The Certainty Summary gives a fairly clear indication of the certainty language Canada and the province will insist upon having in any treaties or land claims agreements they negotiate.

The purpose of “certainty” on the part of the federal and provincial governments is to “exhaustively and completely set forth” all aboriginal and treaty rights. Rather than simply accepting the existence of Aboriginal Title as ownership and jurisdiction over Land and resources, certainty limits and defines Aboriginal Title and Rights.

Aboriginal Title to lands and resources existed at the time that the Crown asserted sovereignty. This Title was never extinguished. This is why Crown title is uncertain and remains subject to Aboriginal Title.

There is an air of illegality about any transactions which the Crown makes or authorizes with respect to Lands and Resources. These transactions do not acknowledge that Indigenous Peoples own the Lands, and therefore violate the legal principle that “You cannot give that which you do not own.”

The Crown’s willingness to negotiate land claims requires a promise on the part of Indigenous Peoples that they will not fully practice their rights. Canada’s negotiating stance is: “We will recognize your rights, but only if you first tell us how you will exercise them, and only if you promise that your rights will not interfere with our interests.” This is certainty.

Canada’s sovereignty or ownership of Land and resources is not challenged, Canada does not have to “prove” its title. Indigenous Peoples do not get an equal promise that Canada will tell us how they will practice their rights, or that their rights will not interfere with our interests. Quite the opposite.

A modern land claim agreement is a contract between Indigenous People, Canada and the Province. Each party gives something in exchange for something. In order to gain “certainty” Canada and the Province are willing to grant a limited recognition of aboriginal title to a reduced portion of an Indigenous group’s traditional territory, in exchange for the release of all aboriginal title and rights not specifically set out in the Agreement.

Convert, Modify and Transform
The intent of the parties in achieving certainty is evident in the language proposed. Instead of the traditional “extinguishment” language (which used such phrases as “cede, release and surrender”) the language of treaties will be finessed so that it is not so blunt. Aboriginal title and rights will not be extinguished outright; Instead, they will be defined and limited out of existence. Achieving certainty will require that Aboriginal Title and Rights be “converted/modified/transformed/etc.” into treaty rights set forth in the Agreement.

Compare these definitions of the words used, all from Websters dictionary:

Extinguish, definitions include
1. “to bring to an end: to make an end of”;
2. “to reduce to silence or ineffectiveness”;
3. “to cause to be void: NULLIFY”; and
4. “to get rid of usually by payment”

Convert, definitions include
1. “to bring over from one belief, view, or party to another”;
2. “to change from one form or function to another”;
3. “to alter for more effective utilization”; and
4. “to appropriate without right”

Modify, definitions include
1. “to make less extreme: MODERATE”;
2. “to limit or restrict the meaning of…and”;
3. “to make basic or fundamental changes in often to give new orientation to or to serve a new end”

Transform, definitions include
1. “to change in composition and structure”; and
2. “to change in character or condition: CONVERT”
Certainty provisions will change all rights which aboriginal peoples have into contractual rights which have been reduced to writing, limited and defined. The impact of the proposed certainty provisions is to capture and tame aboriginal title and rights, and then place them in a cage constructed of words and legal provisions.
Certainty involves the re-definition and re-creation of aboriginal rights. This is done through clauses which
Ø convert and reduce all existing aboriginal or title rights of Indigenous Peoples’ into those contained within the Agreement;
Ø ensure that the Agreement will be the “full and final settlement” of all aboriginal title or rights;
Ø release all rights not listed in the Agreement to Canada; and
Ø exhaustively set forth all the Section 35 rights of the Indigenous group, including the manner of their exercise, and all the limitations to those rights on which the Parties have agreed.

There will be no aboriginal title or rights which survive their exclusion from the written Agreement. All aboriginal rights and title will be transformed to those of contractual or treaty-rights. Any stray rights which are not listed (for example, because of oversight, or because they were not thought of at the time of the Treaty) will not survive their exclusion from the Agreement. This means that if Canadian courts recognize new rights in the future (for example, a right to water or a commercial interest in wildlife) Indigenous groups who treaty will not be able to benefit from these rights.

Land claims agreements will be the Noah’s Arc of Aboriginal Rights: Any title or rights not on the arc and nailed down with words in the Agreement, at the time of the treaty will not survive. Aboriginal title and rights flow from the land and the historic relationship that Indigenous Peoples have had with our Lands. The legal language proposed for certainty will flood the land with Crown title and forever dam the flow of rights from the Land to the people. Crown title will replace aboriginal title. No title or rights will ever flow from the Land again. Instead, all rights will flow from the written Agreement.

Modern land claims agreements will create a double standard in which the interests of the federal and provincial Crowns and third parties are recognized. These rights will simply continue to exist, they will change and adapt over time, they will continue to live. There is no provision which releases all undefined rights or interests of Canada, B.C. or third parties to the Indigenous group. The rights of the Indigenous Peoples’, on the other hand, will be frozen and will not grow and adapt. If these rights are not written into the Agreement, they will no longer exist, they will be dead.

This is an example of how double standards will be cemented in modern land claims agreements. Crown title is perfected and recognized over all Lands, while Indigenous Title is extinguished from all areas not in the agreement.

These agreements are not fair or equal: there is no sharing. The Crown gets complete recognition of its sovereignty, its underlying title to our lands and the supremacy of its laws over our governments and People. Indigenous groups get limited recognition of title to reduced pieces of land, the right to co-manage resources (along with government and third parties interests) and self-government which is subject to Canadian and provincial laws.

Land claims agreements will explicitly contain recognition of all “third party” interests and that these are not impacted by aboriginal rights.

Interpretation: A different species of Section 35 rights
Although modern land claims will be acknowledged as treaty rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 which “recognizes and affirms” existing aboriginal and treaty rights, they will be a different species of Section 35 right. The benefit of having rights recognized under Section 35 is that Canadian Courts have read Section 35 to protect Aboriginal peoples and their rights.

At present, under Section 35, courts interpret treaties so that
Ø ambiguous expressions in treaties are resolved in favour of the Indians;
Ø treaty provisions are given a fair, liberal and large interpretation;
Ø the honour of the Crown is assumed when interpreting treaties (Courts assume that the Crown intended to act honourably toward aboriginal peoples and with the best interests of the aboriginal peoples in mind, while entering treaties); and
Ø any suggestion of “sharp dealing” (unfair bargaining) is not sanctioned.
These principles of interpretation will be removed from modern treaties and therefore the protective features of Section 35 will not operate. Any common law rules with respect to aboriginal or treaty rights will be replaced by the provisions of the Agreement and it is anticipated that the federal government will need to pass legislation in order to override the common law rules.
Provisions in the new treaties which will remove common law protection may include:
Ø There will be no presumption that doubtful or ambiguous expressions or terms are to be interpreted in favour of any particular Party or Parties.

Ø The Indigenous group will agree that the Crown has no consultation obligations respecting the Section 35 rights of the Indigenous group other than those obligations set out in the Treaty.

Ø The Section 35 rights set out in the Treaty will be interpreted solely on the basis of the rights set out in the treaty, without any distinction based on whether the right is a [converted/modified/transformed/etc.] aboriginal right or a new treaty right.

Any common law rules which arise from aboriginal rights cases which impose a duty on the Crown to treat aboriginal rights in a certain way, will not apply if they are not set out in the Agreement. In Delgamuukw the Supreme Court suggested that the consent of the aboriginal peoples with title would be required before certain actions or measures could be taken if these actions would have the impact of interfering with aboriginal title and the traditional uses to which the Indigenous Peoples have put their lands.

The consent of an aboriginal group to actions regarding lands over which they have aboriginal title will not apply to the new treaties unless this is specifically set out in the agreement. And, in any case, the consent, or even involvement, of the aboriginal group will only apply to those specific tracts of lands identified in the Agreement. Under Delgamuukw, consultation, compensation and, possibly consent, are required for all lands which comprise the traditional territory and title lands of the Indigenous Peoples.

Although the rights recognized under the Agreement will be called Section 35 treaty rights, they will not be afforded the same protection as Section 35 rights held by other Indigenous Peoples. These are all eliminated through the wording of the Agreement and instead the legal rules surrounding contract interpretation will apply.

The Agreements will set forth a broad number of “reliance” provisions in which the Indigenous group will agree to “indemnify” Canada and the province should any damage come to Canada or the province as a result of stray rights having survived the Agreement. This means that the Indigenous group agree to cover the financial costs to government in the event that they are sued as a result of the Agreement.
Federal and provincial legislation will be passed in order to pass this guarantee along to third parties. Federal legislation may also indemnify the province.

Who can treaty away aboriginal title?
Aboriginal title is a collective interest, which is held in trust by all members of an Indigenous Nation. As a collective interest held by each and every member of an Indigenous Nation, aboriginal title cannot be bargained or treatied away by anything less than the full consent of all the Indigenous Peoples who collectively hold this title. A majority vote (no matter how high the percentage) cannot give one group the ability to extinguish the title and rights of all of the Indigenous Peoples who hold title.

Canada and the province recognize the illegality of negotiating an agreement which purports to extinguish aboriginal title without the full consent of all of the Indigenous Peoples’ concerned. The collective nature of aboriginal title means that no Band or group of Bands/communities can treaty for Lands which belong to an entire Nation, or that no group of people within one Nation or Band/community has the right to treaty for the extinguishment of the aboriginal title and rights of those members of their Nation/community who do not give their full consent.

The legal uncertainty of the current process is heightened by the fact that Indigenous citizens are not fully or meaningfully involved or informed in the negotiations of modern land claims agreements. The collective nature of aboriginal title (which means that title is shared by all members of a Nation) creates an area of uncertainty about all treaties entered into without the full consent, knowledge and participation of each and every citizen of the Indigenous Nation. The same legal principle applies: “You cannot give that which you do not own.” No vote or ratification process is valid to authorize any group to enter into a treaty without the full consent of their people.
The province has proposed to deal with this area of uncertainty by exacting a legal promise from the Indigenous group that they have the right to enter into the Agreement on behalf of all of their people.

If individual Indigenous people do not agree with the terms of the Agreement and bring law suits in the future (claiming, for example, that parts of their traditional territories were not included in the settlement land, or that the Indigenous government had no right to extinguish their title over their traditional territory) the Indigenous group will agree that they will cover any costs to Canada and B.C. The result of this clause is that Indigenous peoples will be suing other Indigenous peoples and any dollar settlement will come from the Indigenous peoples themselves,not the government.

Compensation for Past Wrongs
Modern land claims agreements will represent the “full and final settlement” between the parties, including of past wrongs. The Indigenous group will agree not to pursue any legal claims against Canada or B.C. with respect to any past wrongs. The proposed wording is that
The Indigenous group will release Canada and British Columbia from any claims that it may have had prior to the Treaty regarding any interference or infringement of the Indigenous group’s Section 35 rights, and any claims under Canada’s “specific claims” policy.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in Delgamuukw, stated that aboriginal title has an economic component and that government will be liable to provide compensation in the event of an abrogation or breach of aboriginal title. This clause would preclude the Indigenous group from bringing any legal actions relating to compensation for the value of the lands and resources taken from their territories. Canada and the province will not have to pay compensation for their past extraction of resources (which is in the billions of dollars for most areas), or the spoilage of habitat, lands and resources which they have been responsible for. All past claims for compensation, and any future claims for compensation, are all reduced into the terms of the Agreement.

Modern land claims agreements will contain language in which all parties agree not to challenge the “validity or enforceability” of the Agreement. This means that if the Indigenous group in the future do not think that the Agreement was a fair deal, they have agreed not to go to Court to challenge it.

Certainty language will also require that the parties agree that if one or more parties breaches the agreement and do not keep the promises they made under the Agreement, the other Parties must keep their promises.
A breach of the Treaty by any Party will not relieve any other Party from its obligations under the Treaty.

Indigenous Peoples who have entered into treaties with Canada share the common complaint that Canada has steadfastly refused to honour the terms of the treaty or the promises it has made. Canada maintains that Indigenous Peoples have ceded their aboriginal title through treaties (and therefore that Crown title is absolute over those lands) while not honouring the promises which it made. This clause suggests that the Indigenous group may be forced to honour their agreements (ceding aboriginal title and rights to all areas not included under the Agreement) if Canada and B.C. do not honour the obligations they made. For example, if B.C. decides that it cannot afford to make the payments required under the treaty, or if it minimizes the co-management agreement provisions of the agreement, the Indigenous group will not get their lands and rights back.

The net impact of the “certainty” provisions sought by Canada and B.C. will be to create a double standard with regard to title and interests in the land. Canada, the province, and third parties have their rights and interests recognized and protected. These rights are not defined or in any way limited by the Agreement. The Indigenous group, on the other hand, have all of their rights reduced to the written word of the Agreement.

These certainty provisions are far more restrictive than any of the “extinguishment language” which has been used in other modern land claims agreements to date.

The goal of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is to support the work of our people, whether at the community, nation or international level, in our common fight for the recognition of our aboriginal rights and respect for our cultures and societies. Our goal, the goal of the people, has been to give the aboriginal people of BC a voice strong enough to be heard in every corner of the world. Read other articles by Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, or visit Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs's website.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Haudenosaunee sites of cultural importance damaged in Toronto's largest park
| March 11, 2011
Watersnake Mound, a burial site for 3,000 years, in Toronto's High Park. Photo: Catherine Tammaro
Rastia'ta'non:ha, Seneca Nation man; wolf clan and supporters, sit amid a circle of fallen red oaks cradled within the confines of manmade hillocks and valleys on a beautiful High Park afternoon. This sensitive, natural habitat has been stripped of grass, the manmade dips and high points of this once beautiful environment lie barren and desolate. A dead tree stump at the top of the mound stands sentinel to the desecration, large oaks, birch and aspen over arch the place in seeming sadness.
The circle of supporters sits at the lowest point of a valley, on what was known to the ancient First Peoples of the area as Watersnake Mound, in the south end of the park. A red banner tied to a central tree valiantly signifies that this space is now under the protection of the Indigenous People gathered there. The mound is one of 57 purported sites of historical significance within the boundaries of the park.
This mound is, according to Iroquoian oral teachings, a burial site of some 3,000 years, built by people of the Meadowood Culture and is currently an issue of great concern for the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. For the last 16 years, children and adult BMX bicycle riders have illegally cut into Watersnake Mound, building an unnatural landscape of cycling ramps on the site, possibly having desecrated the tombs of First Peoples buried within.
High Park is the largest park in Toronto. Its 398 acres include recreational areas and wild parkland with varied facilities, gardens, playgrounds and a zoo. One third of the park remains in a natural state, classified as rare oak savannah ecology.
Rastia'ta'non:ha, whose name means "Protector of the Ancestors," has been assigned by Clan Mothers from many fires, on both sides of "The Imaginary Line" (the Canada-U.S. Border), the task of documenting finds there and protecting the mounds and attempting to get Toronto officials to designate this mound and others historically significant sites so that they may be restored and protected.
In order to accomplish these, in his view, sacred and essential tasks, Rastia'ta'non:ha and others have established the Täiäiäkó'n Historical Preservation Society, with the sole mandate of restorating and preserving Thunderbird Mound at Magwood Park, Toronto, and those burial mounds and sites of significance in High Park.
In the society of the Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), a consensual decision-making process involves all of the 50 clans contained in the Six Nations of The Confederacy. The People have an ordered, non-hierarchical way of making certain all voices are heard.

"When the people speak, the Clan Mothers make the final decision based on what the people want. They are responsible for all the people in their clans. The Chiefs listen to them as well. The Clan Mothers decided that this whole park needed to be preserved and protected at all costs," said Rastia'ta'non:ha. "They were very upset with what they saw happening here and have said that these activities should never have gone on this long. The people who are doing this, should not be here, this is a burial site," he stated emphatically, "It's upsetting to the ancestors!"
When development of west Toronto was occurring, in 1921, "on a high sandy ridge immediately north of Grenadier pond, at an approximate depth of 90cm, workers discovered a single grave, uncovering eight or 10 red-ochre covered, in-flesh burials. All were in the usual sitting position ..." (Dr. R. B. Orr, Director, Provincial Museum, Canada). It is not known where the remains of the people found in those graves now are. There have since -- in 2009 and 2010 -- been other discoveries of bone fragments there but park officials and city authorities, according to Rastia'ta'non:ha, have been slow to take action to name them as such, despite the tagging of Bear Mound as a bona fide archaeological site.
"Watersnake mound is located near water and this body of water is on the very old map we have," says Rastia'ta'non:ha. "We've found Mica here from West Virginia, Obsidian from Yellowstone Park and further; a shell from the Gulf of Mexico, Red Ochre from "Hells Gate" on the Mattawa River near North Bay, Red Lake, near the Manitoba-Ontario imaginary line, chert (silica chalcedony) that comes from various locations: Fort Erie, Collingwood and further away. We know that many Indigenous People came to trade, live, hunt and fish here and have been doing so for thousands of years. We have found red ochre and aboriginal artifacts that would indicate that this is a gravesite. We have an arrowhead found here, which alone should signify that this is an archaeologically important site! This mound is an indicator of the relationship our people have with the land and signifies how important this place was and is."
History of the Meadowood people
The people of The Meadowood culture lived in three types of communities: semi-permanent base camps, temporary procurement camps, and mortuary sites. Mortuary sites were separate from living areas and were traditionally placed within natural knolls and ridges in the landscape, or near water. Their funerary rituals were elaborate. They sprinkled or painted their dead with red ochre and placed blades, copper, bone and shell beads as well as pottery, pipes, fire-making kits and baskets within the mortuary mounds. The in-flesh burials may have been designated for those of high status such as the Shaman, Chief or Clan Mother and each mound in High Park was aligned cosmically, by having their cardinal features coordinated with solar progressions, as with a giant sundial. They are also aligned geographically with Thunderbird Mound and other sites marking the travel routes of the people who migrated between Ontario and Ohio, where Serpent Mound is located and points beyond.
In 2003, the Province of Ontario's Ministry of Culture designated Bear Mound, just North of Grenadier Restaurant, as "Archaeological site AjGu-45."
"This action may have, in fact, made it difficult for the city to designate the sites as archaeologically significant or protected." says Ms. May Maracle of The Aboriginal Affairs Committee. The purpose of the committee is to make recommendations to City Council regarding the affairs of Aboriginal peoples in Toronto.
"The Preservation Society has had the opportunity to present their case to the Committee but so far that has not happened," said Maracle.
Rastia'ta'non:ha contests Maracle's statement and says the meetings between Täiäiäkó'n and the Committee were continually deferred to unspecified dates and when the meeting was to be held with the archaeologist in charge of the Toronto New Archaeological Master Plan, his organization was not invited to participate. The Aboriginal Affairs Committee had requested the city's archaeologist meet with THPS in 2009, but to this date, there has been no meeting.
Since August 28th of last year, Rastia'ta'non:ha and the city have been involved in a struggle to deal effectively with the Snake Mound issue. Several people have been observed cutting into the mound, he asserts, to find human remains and artifacts, which have surfaced after rainstorms. Barriers have been erected by the Parks and Rec department at the request of the society, and agreements have been struck with park officials as to their maintenance and enforcement by the police, but according to Rastia'ta'non:ha, the park and the city have failed to keep their promises. Monitoring of the area is inconsistent -- cyclists have continually knocked the barricades down late at night and have destroyed or damaged signs posted against illegal cycling there. They have also been seen digging for artifacts and have been verbally abusive, throwing rocks at supporters and making threats to the general park-going public. This culminated in the society lodging a formal complaint to the Mayor's Office, Park Officials, The Police Department and local Members of Parliament on Dec. 9, 2010.
There are videotapes online, of city officials and police in discussion with supporters at the Aug. 28 ceremony date of last year. In the tapes officials promise support however at other times, people claiming to be park workers have been witnessed giving shovels to children and telling them to "dig anywhere."
There are several bylaws which apply to this situation: the bylaw against digging in the park, Bylaw 608-29 sec a-d against biking off designated trials in the park; there is a criminal law against desecrating graves in Ontario and the Environmental Protection Act. Section 74 of the Cemeteries Act, covers the cemeteries of Indigenous peoples in Ontario.
Ms. Wynna Brown, the acting operations support coordinator for The Department of Parks and Recreation attests there have been no archaeological findings there but did not respond to an email request for the archaeologist's name and details of the types of assessments carried out. She did state, however, that stage one and two assessments had been completed but did not provide further details on the methods used or whether or not the assessment process was concluded. Brown also stated plainly that the city only works with bon fide groups that the Aboriginal Affairs Committee approves of.
The coroner's office follows certain procedures about dealing with human remains, as they must establish the circumstances around their location and whether or not they are linked to a possible homicide. When skeletal remains are found, if they are identified as such by a visual appraisal, they are forwarded to a forensic anthropologist who may further test them to establish their age. Despite the fact that police have been called to the site several times to keep people from cycling there and that the fragments were visually appraised by a coroner, their offices in Toronto stated to me they were unfamiliar with the case mentioned. Rastia'ta'non:ha has submitted the fragments found at Bear Mound to one of the DNA labs in Ontario, which specialize in forensic tests and dating of ancient human bone. He is currently awaiting results.
Rastia'ta'non:ha said the coroner did come to the site on May 10, 2009 to appraise the fragments and three days later determined that they were stone by visual appraisal but no further testing occurred. Other fragments were found lying on the ground after a rain in Aug. 2009, along with red ochre and other burial indicators. The police from 11 Division were called but refused to deal with the issue following the protocols under Ontario Cemeteries Act.
In August they told Rastia'ta'non:ha and witnesses at the site to "deal with the issue themselves" then left the scene.
Park officials have said that the assessment report has not yet come in. Rastia'ta'non:ha feels the damage to the place is apparent and should not require further delays in restoring the mounds. Activists have been warned against demolishing the bike ramps in fact, they would be arrested if they attempt to level the dirt jumps with any implements.
"We should not have to have anyone's permission to do this, these are the gravesites of our grandmothers' and grandfathers' ancestors!" said Rastia'ta'non:ha. In his view, archaeological assessments are destructive to ancient gravesites. He feels that the teachings and lore of his people should be enough to set the place as a sacred site and doing so could be very good for the city's reputation and subsequently generate revenue for the park. According to Rastia'ta'non:ha, when John Howard bequeathed High Park to the city, it was on the condition that the Six Nations continue their custodial role over the park and in particular, the sites themselves. They have strongly stated that it is their duty and spiritual obligation to maintain the mounds and their connection to the ancestors, for future generations of all people.
Notwithstanding difficulties in legislating this area as an Indigenous peoples burial site, there are other issues at stake. The area has already been deemed environmentally sensitive, as Trilliums and several species of Oak grow there which are shielded under Ontario's environmental protection laws. "On that count alone both High Park officials and the city have not stepped up to the plate in terms of protection of this area. There are protected tree root systems being destroyed, trilliums are being trampled on, not to mention all the animal species that live here. Their habitat is being eradicated."
Six Nations Confederacy Chief, Arnold General; Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation, does not understand why the park officials and city politicians are not letting people know about what is happening at Watersnake Mound. "This is our heritage," said the chief, "Treaties were signed with the government in good faith. Our rights are being eradicated, our lands taken away. I know what my ancestors told me, that anything related to the burial of our people should be left alone and protected. Why is it, that if we stand up for our rights, we are thought of as bad people when this land was ours to begin with?"
Rastia'ta'non:ha says that he believes that the restoration of the mounds in High Park will create a domino effect regarding the recognition of these sites all over the world. Said Chief General, "It would be nice if we were all of one mind around this issue. The way the city is dealing with this is degrading to our people."
Activists are trying to get the word out to those who may be supportive. An environmentalist involved with Täiäiäkó'n says he thinks this will be a step-by-step process accomplished in increments. "Essentially, you have to have a long view of what you want to do and be very clear about what your goals are. We're willing to work with the city peacefully and let them speak and do, as opposed to protesting and barricading. We feel that will make them more willing to help. Rastia'ta'non:ha has been amazing to work with and we are privileged and honoured to be working with him. It's a long process. Bottom line, this is a health and safety issue, this place is unsafe, there is broken glass everywhere, drug paraphernalia have been found here; the soil is eroding, it's dangerous for the children!"
Two Feathers Down, a Seneca man from Kentucky, says he feels if the people cycling on the ramps knew there were graves there, they would not be so eager to ride over them. He feels it doesn't matter whose graves they are, the fact that they're there, means they should be dealt with in a respectful way.
"The people of Toronto from all cultures are being damaged by the way this is being handled. This is a part of the city's history and there could be great benefit by recognizing that this ancient burial mound system is within its jurisdiction." He also feels that the police should address the person or persons, who are encouraging the children to be belligerent and abusive to the people trying to do the work of having the mounds recognized and preserved.
"We have suggested to the police and the city that BMX ramps be built elsewhere says Rastiatanon:ha," we are concerned for the riders who are taking risks both from a safety perspective and also from a spiritual perspective. The gravesites of the ancestors were protected when they were built, we do not want to see anyone get hurt here. Each grave," he elucidates, "was sealed with a blessing and a curse."
Two Feathers Down asserted that Indigenous People will come from as many as thirty US States and from as far north as the Arctic Circle if Rastia'ta'non:ha puts the word out that he needs help. "People from every direction are watching and waiting for the word."
Rastia'ta'non:ha is eloquent when stating that his cultural beliefs and practices encompass all aspects of life; the past present and future, "So when we do things, and we say things, we do them with what will happen seven generations down the road in mind. For me this is all encompassing. It carries over into all life. It's not just the ancestors, it is now and the future, because without these mounds, the footprint of the Haudenosaunee will be erased."
Catherine Tammaro is a digital artist, painter, musician and freelance writer living in Toronto. Her works have been exhibited in both traditional and alternative gallery spaces and her written and visual works have been published in various journals and publications in Toronto and internationally. Some of Catherine's art, music and witting can be found by clicking here, here, here and here.

Connie Kidd
Hamilton ON
My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Love it or Leave it!
"The Disappeared of Canada :  How and Why the Killings Have Never Stopped 

A Sequel to last issue's article "Child trafficking in Beautiful British Columbia " in The Agora newspaper  By Kevin D. Annett  "Ten of the last dozen women to be taken to the killing site at Piggy's Palace were accompanied by Mounties or regular cops. You think it was just Willie Picton who was killing them?"
Marion, sex trade worker, downtown eastside of Vancouver , May 10, 2006  In October of 1992, when I was still a United Church clergyman, I was approached by a colleague at my first Presbytery meeting in Nanaimo . The topic of child abuse came up, and after a few moments, the other man, a retired minister, smiled and gave me a sort of insider's look. He lowered his voice and said to me,  "It's easy to get a child in this town."  I must have looked shocked, for his smile faded.  "What do you mean?" I said.  "Nothing" he replied. "Some people are, you know, interested in that sort of thing."  It all felt like an offer, masked but real, like a sort of masonic handshake: something known to insiders only.  The same man had worked in the United Church 's Alberni Indian residential school for years, and piloted one of the "mission boats" that visited coastal Indian villages. One of my native parishioners later accused him of raping her as a child, but the RCMP threatened her not to press charges.  Later, after I was fired from the church for asking too many questions, I learned of the well-protected child trafficking network that linked the coastal residential schools with wealthy men and clubs in Vancouver . Just how many children disappeared into those clubs and never emerged is unknown; but they are among the more than 50,000 residential school children who cannot be accounted for.  "No crime ever disappears; it just adapts" a journalist once told me. And in British Columbia, the crime of abducting people is rampant, on the rise, and very lucrative, since it is part of a deadly international network in human trafficking.  George Brown is a retired aboriginal RCMP officer who was part of a community-based "Missing Persons' Task Force" in Vancouver . His group documented hundreds of missing people until their work began to identify the complicity of local police, politicians and businessmen in the disappearances. At that point, George's group disbanded.  "We didn't want to get killed" George told me during a videotaped interview in the summer of 2005.  "I was called up by a senior officer in the force and told, `George, the number of disappeared women is nine, and it's going to stay at nine. Stop sticking your nose where it doesn't belong or you may lose it.' The fact is I personally know two fellow Mounties who were linked with Picton and making money by bringing girls out to his place. None of the girls ever came back. Everybody knows about it."  I asked George who "everybody" was. The world-weary man shook his head sadly.  "The Mayor. The Chief of Police. All the senior press people. Hell, you can't get into those positions without making a deal with the drug lords who run this town. The days of organized crime as a separate thing are over. It's all business run and legit now. It's organized corporate crime now � the drug importers from Asia and the real estate developers and the off shore investors, they're all part of the same gang. The cops all work for them. And body snatching pays well."  George Brown's group documented a link between the disappeared women of the downtown eastside and the trans-pacific organ trafficking network based in China . According to sources within the network, at least a dozen women and men are abducted and murdered every month in Vancouver , their bodies disposed of in protected grave sites on the north shore, and their organs shipped overseas.  Most of the disappeared are homeless men, transient youth or sex trade workers.  A year after I interviewed George Brown, I was given more confirmation of his groups' claims. I received a message to meet a woman named Annie Parker at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver 's downtown eastside. Annie was a short, timid woman with haunted eyes and scars along her neck and arms.  "I got these by threatening to go to the press with what I knew" she said matter of factly, pointing to the scars.  "Who did it to you?" I asked.  She told me the man's name, a senior RCMP officer, and then said, "Who doesn't matter. They're all doing it. It's called the `hooker game'. The Vancouver cops will pick up girls off the street, drug them with scopolamine and film them as they fuck them, in a cop club downtown on Georgia street . Then sometimes they kill the girls and film that too, and sell it for $25,000 as a snuff film."  I asked her what happens to the bodies.  "That was one of Steve Picton's specialties. I met all the Pictons. Steve runs a snuff film operation in Coquitlam and then he dumps the bodies at a hunting camp about ten miles up from Horseshoe Bay , near the Sea to Sky highway. There's a special grave site there with sealed containers in a metal cistern. I was taken there, I seen it. It's watched over by the Mounties."  Les Guerin is an aboriginal man who lives and works as a maintenance man on the Musequam Indian reserve near the University of B.C. He claims that the reserve holds at least two body dumping sites from which he personally has excavated human remains, and had them forensically examined.  "As far back as 1989 I saw a man who I later identified as Willie Picton drive onto the Musqueam reserve and bury several large bags. Later when I saw his face on the news, I dug up the bags and had them examined at a lab at SFU. The report says they contain human and pig bones remains, including the humerus, pelvis and skull pieces of a young woman in her twenties.  "The weird thing is I told the Vancouver Police, the press, everybody about this, and nothing was ever done. I sent the police the forensic report, me and my buddy Jim Kew, I told the CBC and even the lawyers for the families of Picton's victims. Nothing. The cops roped off the site in 2006 and that was that."  A signed letter from Musqueam Band Housing Officer Glenn Guerin dated October 29, 2004 indicates that Dave Picton was employed by the Museum Indian band for a three month contract during 1990 to provide land fill for local street construction.  Frustrated by the lack of police response, in December of 2005, Les Guerin mailed the bone fragments he obtained from the Picton deposit, along with the forensic report, to Amnesty International's head office in London , England. The package was returned unopened the following month.  Next month, the eyes of the world will be on British Columbia and its Olympics. But will those eyes perceive the missing men, women and children whose remains lie scattered in hidden graves � and the authorities who put them there? Will the visiting world media record the truth of those who continue to disappear?  Most important, will the killings be stopped?  That depends on us. ����.  Rev. Kevin Annett is a community minister, educator and award-winning film maker who lives and works in Vancouver 's downtown eastside. He is a member of the revived Community Task Force into Missing Persons. For more information on this Group, and for a copy of their recent report on which this article is based, contact Kevin at: hiddenfromhistory@... or 1-888-265-1007 (messages).  His website is:"

Connie Kidd
Hamilton ON
My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Love it or Leave it!
Where are the children BURIED? . . .
Truth and Reconciliation Commission looking into most horrible chapter of
painful residential schools saga
By: Alexandra Paul
Posted: 02/19/2011

No one knows how many children died in residential schools.
No one knows how many graves were dug for them.
And there is no peace without knowing.
Research at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is underway to get
a grip on
the approximate number of missing children and unmarked graves at residential
schools in Canada, including on the Prairies.
Justice Murray Sinclair, chairman of the three-member commission, said the
tragedy of the missing children is a chapter that casts a deep shadow on the
saga of residential schools.
That children died and went missing isn't in dispute.
It's part of the record and the memory, such as the story Joe Harper recounted
of how his friend Joseph died in obscurity at the Cross Lake
residential school.
Fifty years on, it still rankles him.
"There was never a funeral for him," Harper said outside one of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission tents set up to hear survivor accounts last June at
The Forks. "I don't even know how his parents ever found out."
One question likely to remain a mystery is how many Josephs were at the schools.
"We are, quite frankly, not going to be able to say how many children died in
the schools or say where they are all buried, and what happened to them after
they died," Sinclair said recently at the commission's downtown Winnipeg
Nevertheless, he said it's essential to tackle the issue as part of the
residential schools legacy.
To get the work done, the commission has hired Alex Maass, a former Indian
Affairs civil servant who is an anthropology expert on gravesites. This month,
Greg Younging, a professor of indigenous studies at the University of British
Columbia, was appointed assistant director of research. One of his jobs is to
oversee the Missing Children Project.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Canada's provincial governments were in
place, along with requirements for deaths to be reported as they occurred.
While residential school deaths may have been reported, there are few death
certificates attached to student files in old archives. Finding out what
happened to each child would involve matching church and government records to
Vital Statistics files.
"In order to properly document the children who died in the schools and where
they are located, you'd have to go through millions and millions of pages of
archival material," Sinclair said.
The commission isn't equipped to complete the herculean task.
Even then, there are too many gaps in the records to clear up every death and
every missing child.
The best the commission can do is try to identify the magnitude of the problem,
Sinclair said. "And once we have, there will be better information for a
decision to be made about what to do about it."
The commission hopes to have enough information to suggest further research and ways to commemorate the graves.
Survivors' accounts are part of the historical record and will be used in the research. Documents to corroborate those accounts are, not surprisingly, hard to find.
"We've heard stories from survivors that babies were born in the schools to mothers who'd been impregnated by teachers and by priests. They say their babies were taken away. They think their babies were killed," Sinclair said. "We don't know the extent to which that occurred, if at all."
Records show there was a practice followed when children died.
"The local principal of the school would make contact with the family and basically say, 'What do you want us to do with your child? He's dead. He drowned when he was running away or he died of disease.' Sometimes there was no effort made to contact the family. They just buried the child."
Depending on the era, there might be a few deaths per year or dozens.
John Milloy, author of National Crime, the most extensive book on Canadian residential schools, has said that reports dating back as far as 1907 show 24 to 42 per cent of children in some schools died of tuberculosis. He said nearly every school he knew of had a cemetery on the grounds.
Records cited in the commission's 2010 study on missing children contained very few references to those cemeteries.
With gaps and discrepancies like that, investigators have their work cut out for them.
"We need to be sensitive to the fact there is a great deal of misinformation and non-information out there," Sinclair said.
Google "residential schools" to get a glimpse of how the fate of missing children decades ago is a super-sensitive and sensational issue today.
Scores of sites pop up, referring to the Canadian Holocaust, in which 50,000 children died or disappeared. The figure is widely reported, but also considered likely a dramatic overstatement.
Many of the sites feature former United Church minister Kevin Arnett from British Columbia, the self-appointed crusader for families who lost children in residential schools. His contribution fuels a debate that's disturbing enough without potentially exaggerated claims.
Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice ordered a working group in 2008 to define the scope of the problem in the wake of Arnett's polarizing allegations and their impact on survivors.
The working group found that children had gone missing and graves were not uncommon. The issue was handed on to the commission.
"There are people out there able to take advantage of the mistrust between survivors and the government and maximize their fear and their anger," Sinclair said. "That means there can be no peace until there are some answers."
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'.