Will Ottawa heed UN on rights of First Nations women?

A recent UN decision is about more than Indian status; it is about restoring the political rights and powerful voices of First Nations Women

Image result for If sex equality is a constitutional guarantee, and the Constitution Act, 1982 trumps all other federal laws in Canada – why were McIvor and others forced to spend time and money fighting for the same rights Canadian women get to take for granted? The answer lies in our colonial history. Canada has always targeted First Nations women for exclusion from the Indian Act as part of its overall Indian policy geared towards the elimination and assimilation of Indians. When colonial governments could no longer murder Indians or starve them or infect their blankets with smallpox, they tried residential schools to torture the Indian out of them. When that didn’t work, they stole their children and had them adopted into white families. When Indigenous people kept making babies, the government engaged in the forced sterilization of Indian women and girls – often without their knowledge or consent. Knowing they could not eliminate Indians by force, the government designed the Indian Act to eventually legislate Indians out of existence. To speed up this process, they targeted Indian women and children for exclusion from both registration as Indians, and membership in their communities in a variety of ways. Indian women who married non-Indians lost their Indian status, as did their children. Daughters born to Indian men out of wedlock were excluded from registration. Indian agents, the government’s representatives on reserves, could also protest the registration of children born to Indian women out of wedlock. In fact, the success of assimilation depended in part on targeting Indian women. In the words of the department in 1920: “It is in the interests of the Department… to sever her connection wholly with the reserve.”

Sharon McIvor has been engaged in an epic 33-year battle against the federal government to prove that she, her children and her grandchildren are entitled to be recognized as Indians the same way her male relatives and their descendants are under the Indian Act. Earlier this month, McIvor, who is from Lower Nicola Band in BC, won yet another landmark legal victory. The United Nations Human Rights Committee released a decision in her favour and directed Canada to end the sex discrimination.

But while Canada has lost every court case since the 1980s on this issue, the federal government refuses to stop discriminating. This not only advances the government’s goal of legislative extinction of Indians, but it limits the number of voices who might oppose its resource extraction agenda on First Nations lands.

If sex equality is a constitutional guarantee, and the Constitution Act, 1982 trumps all other federal laws in Canada – why were McIvor and others forced to spend time and money fighting for the same rights Canadian women get to take for granted? The answer lies in our colonial history.

Canada has always targeted First Nations women for exclusion from the Indian Act as part of its overall Indian policy geared towards the elimination and assimilation of Indians. When colonial governments could no longer murder Indians or starve them or infect their blankets with smallpoxthey tried residential schools to torture the Indian out of them. When that didn’t work, they stole their children and had them adopted into white families. When Indigenous people kept making babies, the government engaged in the forced sterilization of Indian women and girls – often without their knowledge or consent.

Knowing they could not eliminate Indians by force, the government designed the Indian Act to eventually legislate Indians out of existence. To speed up this process, they targeted Indian women and children for exclusion from both registration as Indians, and membership in their communities in a variety of ways. Indian women who married non-Indians lost their Indian status, as did their children. Daughters born to Indian men out of wedlock were excluded from registration. Indian agents, the government’s representatives on reserves, could also protest the registration of children born to Indian women out of wedlock. In fact, the success of assimilation depended in part on targeting Indian women. In the words of the department in 1920: “It is in the interests of the Department… to sever her connection wholly with the reserve.” MORE

 

Robot era shouldn’t mean end to workers’ rights, says UN agency

ILO calls for living wage and union bargaining as automation threatens jobs

A robot works on cars at Jaguar Land Rover, in Solihull, West Midlands.
A robot works on cars at Jaguar Land Rover, in Solihull, West Midlands. Photograph: John Robertson for the Guardian

World leaders have been urged by an influential United Nations agency to sign up to a universal labour guarantee to bolster fundamental workers’ rights, including adequate living wages and collective bargaining through trade unions.

Designed to address rapid changes in the workplace triggered by the rise of the robot economy and technological automation, the International Labour Organization said a package of measures was required to put the world economy on a sustainable footing for the future.

The ILO report calls for a universal labour guarantee that would enshrine the right to an adequate living wage, maximum limits on working hours, and health and safety protections. It would also enforce freedom of association in trade unions and the right to collective bargaining, freedom from forced labour, child labour and discrimination. MORE

 

 

What Would a “Green New Deal” Look Like for Architecture?

The implications of such a plan—championed by new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—extend well beyond the ecological

people in hard hats on a room next to solar panels

Going forward, the best new buildings will perform like mini power plants that can not only support their own electrical needs but also send excess energy back to the grid. Photo: Caiaimage / Trevor Adeline / Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, which emphasizes decarbonization, job creation, and social and economic justice, is politically audacious—it aims for 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years—but in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s most recent warning that the world has about a decade to get climate change under control if we are to thwart its worst effects. With close to half of all greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, architects and designers should feel welcome wading into the conversation.

In the past, buildings were designed to hold people and things and to receive energy along a one-way artery from a faraway grid. Under a Green New Deal, that way of building would be considered outdated and obsolete. Instead, buildings would be considered mini power plants that can not only produce enough energy to supply their own needs, but also fuel vehicles and send excess energy back to the grid.

 “If you don’t build it to zero-energy now, you run the risk of being obsolete in ten years.”

“There’s a loosening of the boundaries around things that define energy—they’re not siloed anymore,” says Jacob Corvidae, a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Buildings Practice. “Suddenly, a building is not just a building.” MORE

 

Economic reasons for a Green New Deal

Economic reasons for a Green New Deal
© Getty Images

“Step Up or Step Aside.”

The sign was one of hundreds from last month’s demonstrations in Washington, D.C., calling for a Green New Deal by the Sunrise Movement, a group of young people working to stop climate change and create green jobs. They’re fed up with inaction and worried about climate’s costs. As chairman of the Global Carbon Project, a non-partisan group of hundreds of scientists documenting greenhouse gas emissions, I agree.

Hearing talk of a Green New Deal, I feel excitement and, perhaps surprisingly, dread. Done well, a Green New Deal will repair the climate, make our businesses more competitive, and put far more people to work in green jobs, including wind and solar, than we’re losing in brown jobs, like coal mining.

Let’s start with economic reasons for a Green New Deal. The global economy is creating half a million new jobs yearly in renewable energy and employs more than ten million people. In the U.S. we’ve created a hundred thousand new solar and wind jobs annually, 12 times faster than in the rest of the economy. Green energy is putting people to work. MORE

Nuclear sunset overtakes fading dreams

As atomic energy gets ever more difficult to afford and renewables become steadily cheaper, a nuclear sunset awaits plans for new plants.


Photo: Thomas Millot @tomlaudiophile nuclear cooling tower

LONDON, 21 January, 2019 − Once hailed as a key part of the energy future of the United Kingdom and several other countries, the high-tech atomic industry is now heading in the opposite direction, towards nuclear sunset.

It took another body blow last week when plans to build four new reactors on two sites in the UK were abandoned as too costly by the Japanese company Hitachi. This was even though it had already sunk £2.14 billion (300 bn yen) in the scheme.

Following the decision in November by another Japanese giant, Toshiba, to abandon an equally ambitious scheme to build three reactors at Moorside in the north-west of England, the future of the industry in the UK looks bleak.

The latest withdrawal means the end of the Japanese dream of keeping its nuclear industry alive by exporting its technology overseas. With the domestic market killed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, overseas sales were to have been its salvation. MORE

Ontarians are voicing dissent by the thousands. Take Action!

windmill on grass field during golden hour
Photo: Karsten Würth (@inf1783)

While the provincial government continues to roll back progress made on environmental protection, Ontarians have made it clear that the vast majority want decisive climate action.

Before the government passed legislation to eliminate the cap-and-trade system, a consultation process received 11,000 comments with more than 99 per cent in support of putting a price on harmful emissions and maintaining the cap-and-trade system that supports investment and clean energy job creation.

It’s unacceptable for the government to scrap a program that has such overwhelming public support. Tell the government that its new weakened environment and climate plan fails to protect Ontarians from climate risk and sets us on a dangerous path of missed economic, energy and job-creation opportunities.

You can have the biggest impact by calling your MPP. We can help make that easy. CALL YOUR MPP HERE

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Listening to Dissenting Voices

‘We Are Watching the Ice Sheet Hit a Tipping Point’: Greenland Melting Even Faster Than Feared

“The only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming—it’s too late for there to be no effect.”

fjord is seen from the air in southwest Greenland
A fjord is seen from the air in southwest Greenland, where new research shows ice is melting even more rapidly that scientists previously feared. (Photo: NASA/Maria-Jose Viñas)

While climate scientists have repeatedly raised alarm about the how human-caused global warming is driving “off the charts” ice loss in Greenland that will contribute to devastating sea level rise, a new analysis of a less studied region has ramped up those concerns, revealing that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting even faster than previously thought.

“We are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point,” warned lead author Michael Bevis, a geodynamics professor at Ohio State University. “We’re going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future.”

Researchers often look at ice loss from large glaciers in Greenland’s southeast and northwest regions. However, this study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that the most sustained ice loss during the decade following 2003 was in the island’s southwest region.

“Whatever this was, it couldn’t be explained by glaciers, because there aren’t many there,” noted Bevis. “It had to be the surface mass—the ice was melting inland from the coastline.” MORE