‘We can’t eat money, or drink oil’: Indigenous teen Autumn Peltier tells United Nations

Chief Water Commissioner Autumn Peltier, from Canada’s Anishinabek Nation, addresses the Global Landscapes Forum, at the United Nations, on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Photo by The Associated Press/Richard Drew

The 15-year-old activist from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario urged the global community to respect the sacredness and importance of clean water.

“I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, we can’t eat money, or drink oil.”

Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, a platform on sustainable land use founded by UN Environment and the World Bank that’s dedicated to achieving development and climate goals.

She used the speech to draw attention to the lack of clean water in numerous Indigenous communities, which she says sparked her activism.

“All across these lands, we know somewhere were someone can’t drink the water. Why so many, and why have they gone without for so long?”

She said she’s been taught traditional knowledge from an early age about the sacredness of water, and that more should learn these lessons.

“Maybe we need to have more elders and youth together sitting at the decision table when people make decisions about our lands and waters.”

Peltier called for an end to plastic use as one step in restoring a more sustainable world.

Her speech comes a day after huge crowds took to the streets in Canada as part of a global climate strike.

The speech was her second at the UN headquarters, having urged the General Assembly to “warrior up” and take a stand for our planet last year.

Peltier, who is nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize by the David Suzuki Foundation, has spread her message at hundreds of events around the world.

In 2015, Peltier attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, and a year later, confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his “broken promises” at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. SOURCE

Indigenous communities need authority over child welfare says legal advocacy group

New report calls for better resources to keep First Nations families together

Indigenous children are 15 times more likely to enter government care than a non-Indigenous child in B.C. (Costea Andrea M/Shutterstock)

The current child welfare system in British Columbia has been called the Millenium Scoop because of the high rates of Indigenous children in care and a new report says the government could do more to help First Nations families stay together.

The report, prepared by Vancouver-based non-profit legal group West Coast LEAF, includes the experiences of 64 parents who engaged with the child welfare system, eight service organizations and three communities on the territories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, Secwepemc First Nations in Kamloops, and the Fraser Salish People in Surrey.

It recommends that Indigenous communities have authority over the welfare of their children and calls for better resources to establish family support programs in these communities.

“We know that this framework works,” said report author Elba Bendo in an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition. “The problem is that the progress toward shifting authority to Indigenous communities, and funding community-based supports has been incredible slow.” MORE


Jagmeet Singh says he ‘wasn’t joking’ on hoping Donald Trump is impeached

NDP leader unconcerned that hoping for Trump’s impeachment may imperil his relationship with U.S.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tells the audience at his Victoria town hall that he was not joking when he quipped Thursday that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached. (CBC)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told a town hall audience in Victoria that he was serious when he said that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached.

Asked Friday by CBC News if it was wise for someone running to be prime minister to joke, as he did the previous evening, that he hoped Trump would be impeached, Singh replied, “I wasn’t joking.”

The line garnered applause from the audience.

On Thursday evening, the NDP leader said he hopes Trump “gets impeached” when asked what would he say first to the U.S. president if he was prime minister.

“I hope he gets impeached before I get to speak to him,” said Singh, while hosting a town hall event in Nanaimo, B.C. “I say that a little tongue-in-cheek.”

Singh said it is “disgusting that the president could inflame hatred against people and be so divisive.”

“It’s horrible that someone in a position of power like him would allow for kids to be stripped from the arms of their parents, from their moms,” he said. “That needs to be denounced.”

Singh has already heavily criticized Trump for the U.S. government’s separation of migrant children from their parents in immigration detention centres at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can’t allow someone like that to do that without any sort of repercussion, without anyone else condemning that,” Singh said Thursday night. “And I condemn it.” MORE

Tax Fairness one of many tools to combat climate change

Carbon taxes are an important part of the broader global solution, such as a transition to renewable energy, needed from all governments. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

At the rapid pace of climate change, rising sea levels will swallow cities whole.  Water sources will dry up, creating food shortages, while air pollution will cause irrevocable health problems. It sounds like apocalyptic fiction, but it’s the stark reality hundreds of scientists warn is coming. Canada’s own scientists agree — 96 percent believe climate change is a crisis that requires immediate action, according to a new poll from the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

The effects of climate change will be felt by everyone, a report from the UN expert panel on climate change confirmed this week. The warning comes on the heels of the UN climate summit, where advocates criticized world leaders for not doing enough to stop the climate emergency. A poll this week from Abacus Data found three in four Canadians support the climate strikes, a series of protests taking place across the globe as millions, many of them youth, protest inadequate response from government.

C4TF adds its voice to these calls, demanding Canada’s government use every policy tool available to scale up efforts against climate change. Continuing our countdown of the top five priority election issues as voted on by our supporters, this week we highlight how taxes play a critical role in combating climate change. Please share our fact sheet, which lists the fiscal steps our next government should take to tackle the crisis. You can also ask your local candidates if they support these measures, write letters to the editor, and sign petitions calling for climate action. SOURCE

Next federal government needs to amend Cannabis Act, say First Nation chiefs

Some leaders worry status quo could lead to conflict

The Pot Shoppe advertises its wares in Tyendinaga, near Kingston, Ont. (Jorge Barrera/CBC)

The next federal government needs to amend the Cannabis Act so First Nations can have jurisdiction over the industry on their territories, to seize its economic potential and avoid potential conflicts, according to some Indigenous leaders.

First Nations were left out of the jurisdictional equation when the Liberal government passed its cannabis law, which put regulation of distribution and retail in the hands of the provinces while Ottawa oversees production.

This left them at the mercy of provincial decisions when it came to opening dispensaries on reserve — a situation rejected by many bands who see provincial governments as interlopers in a nation-to-nation relationship they believe should be strictly with Ottawa.

Alderville First Nation Chief Dave Mowat, whose community near Peterborough, Ont., has 13 unlicensed cannabis shops, said the next federal government needs empower band councils.

“There has to be a political will to amend the [Cannabis Act] so we can have a firmer footing, one that recognizes our jurisdiction and recognizes who we are,” he said.

Mowat said he worries that the status quo would lead to police action and conflict.

“I don’t want to see a raid happen on the reserve. Someone will get hurt if that happens,” he said.

“There are sizeable investments that have been made in some of these shops that could lead to serious altercations if that happens.”

Mowat, who was elected in July, said his band council is working on a law to regulate the industry in the community.

In Mowat’s view, the province has no jurisdiction on his First Nation. He said their law will be as strong or stronger than Ontario’s.

“Everyone wants to live in a safe community and I also want to see the community itself reap some of the benefits as well,” he said. MORE


PSAC rejects Bloc Québécois proposal on federal government services

People hold up signs during a demonstration in Montreal on April 7 in opposition to the Quebec government’s Bill 21. The legislation proposes to ban some public servants from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The Public Service Alliance of Canada firmly opposes the Bloc Québécois’ proposal to restrict Quebeckers’ ability to work in the federal public service, and their ability to receive important services from the federal government –including the right to vote.

Inspired by Quebec’s widely condemned Bill 21, the Bloc’s proposal would force federal government workers to have their face uncovered in the course of their work, and would also force Quebeckers to have their face uncovered when receiving a federal service for identification or security purposes.

The proposal would also significantly limit their ability to vote.

There are broadly no issues with the delivery or receipt of federal services because of face coverings; nor is there any record of widespread voter fraud in federal elections because of face coverings. In attempting to address ‘problems’ that do not exist, the Bloc Québécois has revealed their recent policy announcement for what it is: an attempt at inflaming anti-immigrant and racist sentiment.

It is also clear that this proposal is targeting Muslim women. Any legislation that requires individuals to remove their religious garment is unconstitutional and discriminatory on the basis of religion, race and gender. Furthermore, this type of legislation would deliver a dangerous precedent in which a government can dictate what a woman can or cannot wear.

The only thing this proposal will accomplish is the increase of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, racist, and sexist sentiments, as well as incidents, both in the workplace and outside of it.

Federal public service jobs are good for the economy and workers, study finds

CFIA worker

Hiring more federal public sector workers would benefit the Canadian economy and support a strong, diverse middle class, a new study suggests.

A study released by l’Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) proves it’s time the federal government reinvests in stable federal jobs that anchor Canada’s economy. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government slashed more than 25,000 federal public service jobs in 2011, and according to the study, our economy still hasn’t recovered from that loss.

“The findings are clear; a strong federal public sector helps drive Canada’s economic growth for the benefit of all,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada national president. “Our next federal government needs to make a firm commitment to bolster our public service and provide dependable, good-paying jobs to Canadians.”

Every dollar spent on federal public service jobs generates on average $1.77 for Canada’s economy, and they further benefit provinces that have less diversified economies like Alberta and Nova Scotia.

“These findings are very important in the face of successive governments that continue to increase the contracting out of public service jobs, creating lower wages and more unstable work for Canadians,” added Aylward. “The government needs to reverse course and bring these jobs back into the public service.”

IRIS also found that public service jobs contribute to eliminating gender and racial inequality. SOURCE

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrum

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrumCredit: Monash University

Hydrogen gas is the perfect green fuel—it can be extracted from water and is non-polluting. But although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn’t naturally occur in large quantities as a gas on Earth.

Hydrogen gas is the perfect green fuel—it can be extracted from water and is non-polluting. But although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn’t naturally occur in large quantities as a gas on Earth.

The race is on to find cheap, efficient, non-polluting ways of generating and storing hydrogen. It’s long been known that an electric current will cause the elements of water—hydrogen and oxygen—to split to produce hydrogen and oxygen gases in a process known as electrolysis. This process can also be reversed to generate electricity when hydrogen and oxygen gases interact in a fuel cell (NASA has used fuel cells to power satellites and space capsules since the 1960s).

Until recently, the cost of electricity has been a roadblock to producing industrial quantities of hydrogen gas through electrolysis. But low-cost renewable electricity technologies have removed this barrier.

Another obstacle is that efficiently splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gases has required rare and expensive metal catalysts such as platinum and iridium. Iridium is one of the rarest and most costly elements on Earth—it’s often carried here by meteorites. And even the most stable iridium-based catalysts can only withstand electrolysis for a short time.

“If you increase the temperature while running water electrolysis, the iridium-based catalyst will dissolve and you lose it,” explains Dr. Alexandr Simonov from the Monash School of Chemistry. “This is the worst thing that can happen, to dissolve something that costs hundreds of dollars per gram. It can also go into other components of your electrolytic device, contaminating them and preventing them from proper operation.”

The first water electrolyzers used alkaline water, and this remains the traditional approach, Dr. Simonov says. But more advanced and efficient technology uses an acidic environment, using solid-state electrolytes—unfortunately, the catalysts can’t withstand this environment for long.

Dr. Simonov and members of his research team, including Dr. Manjunath Chatti and James Gardiner, have made a discovery with enormous potential to solve the instability problem, making hydrogen generation by water electrolysis more economically viable.

“We’re replacing iridium with elements that are abundant, cheap, and operate in a more stable manner,” Dr. Simonov says. “We’ve demonstrated their stability in very strongly acidic conditions and up to 80°C, which is an industrially relevant temperature. We achieved absolutely no degradation.”

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrum
Hydrogen-powered buses are on the road in Brazil. Credit: Monash University

Dr. Simonov describes the system he’s developing with his team as “self-healing.” Because all metals—even iridium—dissolve during electrolysis, the researchers wondered if the dissolved material could be redeposited on the electrode during operation.

“It turned out that it can,” he says. “We’ve produced a highly active electrode surface based on abundant metals that is sustaining industrially relevant rates of water splitting.” The high temperature and the strongly acidic environment “makes our most recent work different from pretty much everyone in the scientific world, and brings us closer to industry application,” he says.


Paul Andersen: Climate is the Civil Rights of today

Childrens Crusade
In the year 1212, tens of thousands children, put down their ploughs, carts, the flocks they tended, claiming it be God’s will, and joined the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land.

Greta Thunberg’s youthful innocence while protesting environmental degradations is akin to the innocent faces of the Children’s Crusades from the Middle Ages. How pure and desperate are these missions of youth.

Greta’s cohort of young, worldwide climate activists has swelled into the millions, rising up in a challenge against ecocide in the same way the Civil Rights movement challenged the status quo of racial tension that continues to embroil America.

When Martin Luther King wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he brought to bear the moral and ethical underpinnings of Western civilization, in particular decrying the “white moderates” who understood the gravity of racism but failed to act.

Image result for martin luther king birmingham jail

“History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily,” impugned King. “Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.”

So it is that Greta challenges today’s environmental moderates who recognize ecological threats but fail to act, resulting in threats to the dreams of future generations. Thunberg’s soft, piping voice is as much a clarion call as MLK’s sonorous baritone in defending basic human rights in the face of social disregard for an imperiled future.

MLK recommended four steps for activism: 1) Collection of the facts. 2) Negotiation. 3) Self-purification. 4) Direct Action.

Greta and her peers have checked off the first three and are now engaged in direct action. Hopefully, with the moral authority of youth, they can effectively change hearts and minds.  MORE