Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade

The RCMP moved Monday to break up a First Nations protest. Here’s how we got to this point.

Heavily armed RCMP officers arrived Monday to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking a natural gas pipeline. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Where is the Unist’ot’en blockade and what’s it about?

The gated checkpoint is on a forest service road about 120 kilometres southwest of Smithers in Unist’ot’en territory at the Morice River Bridge. Two natural gas pipelines are to cross the bridge to serve the Kitimat LNG project. Unist’ot’en is a clan within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs claim title to the land, based on their pre-Confederation occupation and the fact that they’ve never signed a treaty. Their claim has not been proven in court.

The gated checkpoint is meant to control access to their traditional territory. A protocol for entry, based on principles of free, prior and informed consent, is publicly available. While the first checkpoint was built by the Unist’ot’en clan, all the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have affirmed that their consent is required prior to any development. MORE

The Charter under assault

Does the current political climate signal the death knell for Charter rights?

The Charter under assault
Sebastien Thibault

In the weeks after the federal government and all the provinces except Quebec agreed on the terms for a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, many of the stories that were published in major media outlets were less than positive about this significant addition to the Constitution.

The Charter was frequently described as “controversial” in news stories. As well, there were warnings about public safety. A story by the Canadian Press news agency that ran in December 1981 had the headline, “Charter: Criminal’s friend: Mountie.”

A spokesman for “rank-and-file” RCMP officers stated that the Charter would give too much power to the judiciary. “No matter how eminent or learned the appointees of the court may be, the fact remains they are not accountable to the people for their actions,” the spokesman said. “Canadians will no longer be able to assume their streets will remain safe.”

For the most part, the streets have continued to be safe in Canada. What has not declined, however, is skepticism and blame directed at the Charter by politicians, media and various interest groups. Whether it involves the criminal justice system or any other aspect that impacts Canadian society, unaccountable judges is a talking point that is still frequently invoked, nearly 37 years after the Charter came into force in April 1982. MORE

10 money-saving tips for a green home

The County Sustainability Group sells rain barrels each year as a fundraising tool to support environmental initiatives. Composters are also available.

With more and more people becoming mindful about the environment, there has never been a better time to make your home greener. Not only does making your house more sustainable contribute to a better world, but it also puts money back into your pocket. Here are 10 ways in which you can turn your home into an environmentally friendly space.

We usually think about sustainability in terms of energy savings, but being environmentally minded also means taking a closer look at water consumption. There are plenty of ways you can save water around the house, and some of the methods require no investment on your part. For example, avoid running tap water while you are brushing your teeth, and only do laundry and run the dishwasher when you have a full load.

Beyond changing your daily routines, you can drastically cut down on water consumption by investing in a low-flow shower head. These energy-efficient shower heads can save around 160,000 liters every year, depending on the size of your family. You should also check your home for any leaks, including running toilets and leaky faucets. Not only do these waste water, but they can also drive up your monthly water bill. MORE


We can all learn from Wet’suwet’en laws

The Unist’ot’en Camp near Smithers in northern British Columbia offers a crucial lesson for all humanity — that the land provides for everyone who lives on it, and we in turn have a responsibility to reciprocate and care for the land.

As Dr. Karla Tait and Anne Spice point out, the injunction pushing for pipeline industry access to Wet’suwet’en land “shows blatant disregard for Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law) which pre-dates Canadian and provincial law, for the feast system of governance that upholds Anuk Nu’at’en, and for Aboriginal title.”

“Its enforcement would be illegal under both Canadian law and Anuk Nu’at’en,” they add. “The dispute over the pipeline is, at heart, a struggle over the meaning of Aboriginal title and the rights of Indigenous peoples to determine the use of their unceded, unsurrendered ancestral territories.” MORE

New year, no meat: More Canadians are embracing ‘Veganuary’

Challenge asks people to try out a month of plant-based eating

Some Canadians are using the new year as an excuse to try out veganism — if only for the month. (Toronto Vegetarian Association)

Veganuary is a registered British charity that promotes the idea of trying out a plant-based diet for the first month of the year, and tracks online the number of people who take their pledge. So far the non-profit has seen more than 200,000 sign-ups worldwide for this year’s challenge, about 7,000 of which are Canadians — an increase of more than 1,500 compared to last year.

The spotlight on vegan diets is growing, helped along by campaigns like this one, by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in the Toronto subway system. (Chris Glover/CBC )

The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) runs its own version of Veganuary called the 7-day Veggie Challenge. Participants are challenged to try out a vegan or vegetarian diet for a single week at the start of the year — and are then given the option of continuing for another three weeks.


In Canada, police block media from covering break up of indigenous pipeline protest


An exclusion zone set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Journalists were blocked from covering the police response to a pipeline protest in British Columbia. (APTN/Kathleen Martens)
An exclusion zone set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Journalists were blocked from covering the police response to a pipeline protest in British Columbia. (APTN/Kathleen Martens)

New York, January 8, 2019–The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) yesterday blocked reporters from covering a pipeline protest near Houston, British Columbia, where police were due to dismantle camps set up by indigenous activists, according to reports.

“Authorities in Canada should immediately end the arbitrary restrictions on journalists covering the police breakup of the pipeline protest,” said CPJ North America Program Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck. “Journalists should be able to freely cover events of national importance, without fear of arrest.”

The RCMP blocked journalists from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and Canadian Broadcast Corporation from passing a blockade, APTN reported. News crews already behind the barrier were allowed to remain, the report said. APTN told CPJ today that police were still denying its journalists access and had told reporters they risk being arrested if they tried to get close enough to view the police action. Madonna Saunderson, a spokesperson from the RCMP, told CPJ via email that authorities had created a “temporary exclusion zone” to ensure public safety. MORE

Trudeau’s meeting with Indigenous leaders changed venues after First Nations pipeline protest

Trudeau addressed Indigenous forum in Ottawa as First Nations protesters marched through city

Protesters voice their opposition against pipelines during a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday. Dozens of rallies are planned in British Columbia, across Canada and as far away as Europe to support pipeline protesters arrested in northwestern B.C. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Trudeau did not address the protests in his remarks, instead focusing on areas where he felt his government had made progress in its reconciliation efforts since the 2015 election.

Indigenous protesters take up positions in Ottawa’s Old City Hall to protest the RCMP’s actions in removing protesters arrested in B.C. (CBC/Tom Parry)




Plugging Ontario into a Green Energy Future

Electricity price alert

On January 1st Ontario Power Generation (OPG) raised its price of nuclear power by 7% to 8.8 cents per kWh.

As a result, the price of nuclear power has doubled since 2002.

When will the promise be kept?To add insult to injury, OPG has told the Ontario Energy Board that it needs to increase its price of nuclear power by a further 88% between now and 2025 to pay for the re-building of its Darlington Nuclear Station. If this occurs, Premier Ford will not be able to keep his promise to lower our electricity costs by 12%.

Fortunately, the solution to our rising electricity rates lies just east of the Ottawa River. Quebec is the 4th largest producer of water power in the world and it has a large and rising supply of low-cost water power available for export to Ontario at a fraction of the cost of nuclear power.

Please contact Premier Ford and ask him to buy low-cost Quebec water power and cancel the high-cost Darlington Re-Build Project.

Premier Ford’s cell phone # is 416-805-2156. His email is Click here to send him a message now.

Please pass this message on to your friends