House of Commons to meet virtually on a platform described as a ‘gold rush for cyber spies’

Protected Areas and Climate Action in Ontario: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue

Protected Areas and Climate Action in Ontario: A Cross-Cultural ...

“When we talk about nature-based solutions in the modern context, we’re really talking about new ways of doing old things. Indigenous knowledge systems tell us that we must put nature first. If we look after nature, the economy will take care of itself. … We must repair our relationship with the land first and focus on our shared responsibilities to ensure our collective well-being.” – Curtis Scurr, Assembly of First Nations

In October 2019, over 100 leaders and knowledge holders from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and organizations gathered in Kingston Ontario to share insights and strategies about addressing the interrelated crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Hosted by Ontario Nature, Plenty Canada, the Indigenous Environmental Institute at Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust and Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, the three-day event provided a forum for cross-cultural dialogue and learning.

“It is important for the dialogue to be not only cross-cultural but also cross-generational. … Build relationships with Indigenous peoples. Take that time and cultivate and maintain those relationships.” – Shaelyn Wabegijig, Timiskaming First Nation

The purpose of the gathering was to support collaboration and enhance collective understanding about the critical role protected areas play in conserving biodiversity and increasing community and ecosystem resilience in an era of climate change.

“It’s all about partnerships. We all have things to offer. It’s our responsibility—we can’t be afraid to go out and tell people what is wrong and stand up.” – Chris Craig, South Nation Conservation

On behalf of the partner organizations, we are pleased to announce that the summary report and video of the Kingston gathering are now available.

We invite you to take a closer look and consider the words of the Elders, Knowledge Keepers, scientists, youth and other experts who contributed their wisdom and advice on the challenges we face and opportunities to move forward together along a more equitable, sustainable and hopeful path.

“The young and the Elders need to be heard within our Nations.” – Elder Marilyn Capreol

A key takeaway from the gathering was the importance, even in this time of urgency, of taking the time to build relationships, show appreciation for nature and find mutually beneficial solutions to pressing environmental problems.

“We need to get moving but also slow down to allow the time for the conversations that can’t happen when we operate in the cappuccino express.” – Elder Larry McDermott


Trans Mountain, LNG Canada say they are on track despite pandemic

Trans Mountain

Trans Mountain Corp. has advised construction contractors to get ready for the restart of its pipeline expansion project to the west coast. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

VANCOUER, B.C. — Energy projects like an LNG Canada export terminal and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion may face short-term setbacks but the pandemic and oil price crash shouldn’t threaten their long-term viability, economists say.

Andrew Leach, an energy economist at the University of Alberta, said the long-term forecast for both natural gas and oil remains steady, even as some companies scale back workforces to meet safety protocols.

“I think the consensus amongst most people is that there isn’t a big impact of what we’re seeing right now beyond the timeline of the pandemic and the recovery,” he said.

Global oil prices recently plunged amid oversupply concerns as storage tanks near capacity while refineries are reducing output as economic activity slows during the pandemic. The low prices have forced some producers to cut production in Canada’s oilpatch.

Werner Antweiler, an energy economist at the University of British Columbia, said the oil industry is facing a “double whammy” of a global decrease in demand coupled with a Saudi Arabia-Russia price war. A recent agreement by OPEC and other countries to reduce production doesn’t go far enough to balance supply with falling demand, he said.

But pipelines face slightly different market forces than the producers who fill them. There may be increased pressure on pipelines as Canadian producers seek to get oil to markets at the best price possible, while the spectre of American protectionism could also increase the pressure to get Canadian oil to Asian refineries if U.S. ones becomes unavailable, Antweiler said.

Trans Mountain said in a statement that construction on the expansion project is progressing well at its terminals and along the right-of-way in B.C. and Alberta with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Current oil prices don’t have a direct impact on the project, the company said. Its customers have made 15- and 20-year commitments for roughly 80 per cent of the capacity in the expanded pipeline. It’s still due to come into service in late 2022, the statement said.

The existing Trans Mountain pipeline operated at its maximum capacity for the first quarter of 2020, the company said.

LNG Canada has reduced its workforce to manage the risk of spreading COVID-19, director of corporate affairs Susannah Pierce said in a statement. But the company and its engineering procurement and construction contractor, JGC Fluor JV, continue to hit “critical construction milestones,” she said.

Antweiler said liquefied natural gas has a good long-term outlook because of the ongoing switch from coal to gas globally and the increase in demand for energy in Asia.

“These two things, they will continue once the economy returns to normal.”

In the case of Coastal GasLink, the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline that would feed LNG Canada’s export terminal on the B.C. coast, the pandemic may never rival the disruption earlier this year by its opponents, Leach said.

Construction on most projects that are underway could be vulnerable to disruptions caused by outbreaks but otherwise appear to be continuing at status quo. Leach biked through a Trans Mountain construction zone in Edmonton on Thursday and it seemed unchanged, he said.

“It feels like it’s going full speed ahead,” he said.

A pipeline like Trans Mountain, which is regulated by the Canadian Energy Regulator, is not a commercial venture in the sense that it doesn’t take full merchant risk and has bounds on the tolls it can charge. It’s also largely able to pass any extra costs on to producers, Leach said.

“They can’t charge whatever the market will bear at any point of time and as a consequence of that they also have some protection for their capital investments,” Leach said.

The wildcard project is Keystone XL for several reasons, including that it doesn’t have all its permits and is not materially under construction, he said.

“It’s relatively early in the process and the cross-border nature of it, the length of it, all these sorts of things make it more challenging in the current market. So that’s probably one of the projects that is most likely to be affected,” Leach said.

TC Energy, which owns the project, did not respond to a request for comment.

While some have mused that the oil price plunge signalled the beginning of the end for oil, Leach and Antweiler don’t buy it.

It would take broad public policy shifts or an energy technology revolution to stimulate a mass shift away from oil dependency. If anything, Leach said physical distancing habits could discourage drivers from making the switch to public transit, for example.

“I’d love to see the oil industry fade away more quickly than it will, but as an energy economist I still know we depend on oil for transportation,” Antweiler said.

He said he expects demand for oil to remain stable for the next few years and it will be up to countries around the world to curb demand through policy until cleaner options become more cost effective.

“There will be potentially a reduction in demand for oil but it won’t be as fast as some hope,” he said. SOURCE

The Curiously Different Tales of Violence against Indigenous Women On Both Sides

The Curiously Different Tales of Violence against Indigenous Women On Both Sides of Turtle Island

Editor’s Note: Though the figures are not definite, currently there are an estimated 1,200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. ICTMN Correspondent Lisa J. Ellwood’s investigation addresses official police and government narratives that Indigenous men are wholly or mostly responsible.

Lisa J. Ellwood will be donating her fee from this article to the community-lead MMIW initiative – Support for Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women and Their Families. Learn about the project and background

The data fueling continued assertions that Indigenous Canadian men and domestic violence are largely responsible for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) doesn’t add up.

Last March, former Canadian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt caused a furor on both sides of the border with his assertion that Indigenous men are responsible for 70% of MMIW cases in Canada. The only substantiation of Valcourt’s claim at the time was unreleased data allegedly provided by the RCMP in a private conversation with Indigenous leaders. For the Grand Chiefs, this latest claim was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Several of the leaders present at the meeting went public with their anger and skepticism about Valcourt’s claims. Bernice Martial, Grand Chief of Treaty Six in central Saskatchewan and Alberta, spoke with APTNadvocating for a comprehensive report on full the RCMP “MMAW” Dataset. Chief Martial also pointedly noted that ex-Minister Valcourt was dismissive when confronted about his overly-aggressive consistently negative views of Indigenous leadership, and Indigenous men, specifically, to Canadian Press.

Something is rotten in the state of RCMP data

Less than a month later, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson supported Valcourt’s claims in a letter to Chief Martial published by the National Post:

“Female homicides across all ethnicities is inextricably linked to familial and spousal violence,” Paulson wrote. “It is for this reason that RCMP analysis and prevention methods have focussed [sic] on the relationship between the victim and offender. The consolidated data from the nearly 300 contributing police agencies has confirmed that 70 per cent [sic] of the offenders were of aboriginal origin, 25 percent were non-aboriginal, and five per cent [sic] were of unknown ethnicity.”

Data on the ethnicity of offenders was withheld, Chief Martial was told, because “public discourse on the ethnicity of the offender has the potential to stigmatize and marginalize vulnerable populations. It is in the spirit of our bias-free policing policy that the RCMP has thus far not disclosed statistics on the perpetrators of solved Aboriginal female homicides.”

Shortly thereafter, the RCMP released an update to its 2014 Report. While not as ‘comprehensive’ as its Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women National Operational Overview predecessor, this recent update with ‘strengthened data’ seemingly exists to further justify assertions that Indigenous communities and their men and boys are especially violent and largely responsible for the victimization of Indigenous women and girls.

It dismissed continued calls for a national, independent MMIW enquiry on the basis of an ‘All Lives Matter’ type rationale:

“While serving as a stark portrait of a complex issue, the 2014 National Operational Overview pro­vided the RCMP with the most comprehensive statistical analysis of police-reported incidents of missing and murdered Aboriginal women to date. It has helped to give the RCMP, and hopefully the public at large, better insight into this reality.

“The update revealed the unmistakable connection homicides have to family violence. Most women, regardless of ethnicity, are being killed in their homes and communities by men known to them, be it a former or present spouse, or a family member. Prevention efforts must focus on stopping violence in family relationships to reduce homicides of women, and we are moving forward with many initia­tives on this front.”

It has to be noted that this ‘strengthened’ RCMP data is presented with the caveats of (1) “a certain amount of error and imprecision. Collection by investigators means data is susceptible to human error and interpretation and multiple data sources (with different purposes, collection methodologies, and definitions) were used in the research. The numbers that follow are the best available data to which the RCMP had access to at the time the information was collected”; and (2) “since the RCMP does not collect and report homicide data for the over 300 non-RCMP police agencies who each gave individual consent to use their data for the 2014 Overview, this update reflects only RCMP data only.”

The data conveniently supports the RCMPs ongoing disingenuous rhetoric that all racial groups are almost equally experiencing violence at particularly high rates and in the same way – yet Indigenous communities, men, and boys are singled out as somehow being exceptionally violent and in need of heavily funded targeted ‘awareness raising’ domestic violence prevention campaigns fronted by the likes of Shania Twain (who claimsFirst Nations ancestry), and Inuk hockey player Jordin Tootoo.

Twain pitched the idea to dress up as a Mountie for a concert and ride a horse onstage with real Mountie escorts. The RCMP was only too happy to comply when she volunteered to record an RCMP Public Service Announcement against domestic violence as a thank-you.

The RCMP reports that over 75% of RCMP Family Violence Initiative (FVI) funds for 2014-2015 were distributed to Indigenous communities where the RCMP is focusing its violence prevention and intervention initiatives. Fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 will continue with this focus.

The Strange Tale of Two Turtle Islands – Canadian vs. U.S. Statistics

As with Canada and its Indigenous peoples, American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) are less than five percent of the total US population. And also like Indigenous Canadian women and girls, their Native American sisters across the border are also far more likely to be victims of violence compared to other Americans. The RCMP’s conflicting claims and reports are a stark contrast to available data on violence against Native American women in the US and the inferences to be derived thereof.

The reason for this lies in available datasets – the types of data used and how the data is collected specifically.

Federal US Government entities including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) readily acknowledge that precise data for violence against women and girls in Indian Country has been very hard to come by. There is no central repository for detailed statistics on violence against women in Indian Country, and what is known has been largely provided by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).

In the US, Domestic and Sexual Violence are considered to be public, preventable health problems along with stalking. As such, the NISVS is carried out by the Federal Government’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) with the support of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Department of Defense (DoD), rather than police departments where violent crimes against American Indians and Alaska Natives not only continue to be under-reported by Indigenous populations but are also largely ignored by law enforcement.

The NISVS is an ongoing, nationally representative landline and cell phone telephone survey of non-institutionalized adult women and men in all 50 States and the District of Columbia conducted in English and Spanish which aims to detail: (1) the prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence; (2) who is most likely to experience these forms of violence, (3) the patterns and impact of the violence experienced by specific perpetrators; and (4) The health consequences of these forms of violence.

The Survey states: “Everyone deserves to live a life free of violence. Unfortunately, sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are some of the country’s most serious public health problems. Victims of violence not only suffer the immediate injury but also long-term physical, psychological and social consequences. The sensitivity of these issues has minimized some of the most serious public health problems in our country. Population-based surveys, like NISVS, are important because they help uncover violence that is often not reported to police or others.”

American Indian and Alaskan Native Americans are surveyed as a specific data collection target market with the aid of NIJ financial support.

The closest Canadian equivalents to the NISVS are cross-sectional sample surveys that by their very design and methodology have largely excluded Indigenous women. They include the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS) and the Violence Against Women in Canada Survey (VAWS).

The GSS sample survey on social trends is conducted every five years with a target population 15 and over, living in the provinces and territories. Institutional Residents are excluded. This survey began in 1998 with two primary objectives: (1) to monitor changes in the living conditions and well-being of Canadians over time and (2) provide information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest. The GSS survey states:

“A specific topic is usually repeated every five years. The main objective of the GSS on Victimization is to better understand how Canadians perceive crime and the justice system and their experiences of victimization.”

The GSS on Victimization is modeled on the 1993 Violence Against Women in Canada Survey (VAWS), however it is not as extensive as its predecessor. VAWS was a 1993 one-time telephone sample survey of 19,000 eligible households conducted in English and French only across the provinces excluding Residents of Yukon & Northwest Territories and full-time residents of institutions.

The target population was all women 18 years of age and over in Canada and the response rate was 54%, with 12,300 representative households answering a range of questions concerning “the safety of women both inside and outside the home – perceptions of fear, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical violence and threats by strangers, dates/boyfriends, other known men, husbands and common-law partners.”

The GSS Victimization Survey is “the only national survey of self-reported victimization and is collected in all provinces and territories. The survey allows for estimates of the numbers and characteristics of victims and criminal incidents. As not all crimes are reported to the police, the survey provides an important complement to officially recorded crime rates. It measures both crime incidents that come to the attention of the police and those that are unreported. It also helps to understand the reasons behind whether or not people report a crime to the police.

Survey results will be used by police departments, all levels of government, victim and social service agencies, community groups and researchers not only to better understand the nature and extent of victimization, but also to study Canadians’ perceptions of their safety, the levels of crime in their neighborhoods, and their attitudes toward the criminal justice system.”

A new internet-based GSS pilot survey of non-institutionalized persons 15 years of age or older on victimization was launched in 2014. A raw sample of 5,000 households in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec were contacted by telephone and redirected to the online questionnaire.

The GSS “uses Statistics Canada’s new telephone sampling frame. The frame contains landline and cellular telephone numbers from the census and various administrative sources provided to Statistics Canada. A sub-sample of unlisted telephone numbers as well as addresses and names from Statistics Canada’s new dwelling frame are also included. This sampling frame is used to obtain a better coverage of households with a telephone number.”

The Sexual Report Centre of Ottawa notes that the primary sources of information on victims of crime in Canada comes from the GSS and the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR). The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a division of Statistics Canada, developed the UCR. This survey is done in partnership with and with the support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police “based on reported crimes that have been substantiated through police investigation”.

SRCO’s “Statistics on Violence Against Women” document includes detailed analysis on the limitations of both the GSS and UCR surveys. The organization notes that the VAWS was important because it was the first Statistics Canada survey with a wide range of in-depth questions purposefully focused on male violence against women.

So What’s the Problem?

The problem, they say, is that Canadian approaches to data collection and examining violence ultimately under-represents certain groups including young single adults, women in shelters, the homeless, and immigrants along with “presenting a significant barrier for the full inclusion of Aboriginal women (particularly those living in the territories.)”

The UCR police surveys are just as problematic with data collection and analysis. The current Incident-Based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2) database is comprised of information from 68 police services that have consistently reported from 1998 to 2004, accounting for only 37% of national crime in 2004. The sample of police forces is not nationally representative; the largest percentage of cases come from Ontario and Quebec.

Canada Needs To Consider Violence Against AI/AN Women

While there is no doubt that violence against women is a national crisis in the US impacting every community regardless of race, NISVS data tells a story making it clear that the violence faced by American Indian / Alaskan Native women and girls is exceptional in ways that don’t occur in other racial groups.

In its 2000 report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, based on the National Violence Against Women Survey at that time, the DoJ established that American Indian and Alaskan Native women are 2.5 times more likely than the general U.S. female population to experience sexual assault and at least 2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes compared to all other races. Thesestatistics have remained constant since they were published and the NISVS, along with the DoJ’s 2004 Statistical Profile American Indians and Crimeand results from the 2010 US Census, adds considerable weight and context to them.

Though the BIA is tasked to conduct criminal investigations into criminal violations committed on reservations involving Federal, State, County, Local and Tribal codes; its own website declared for several years that usage of the drug Crystal Meth is the big priority having moved on from its decades-old focus on alcohol consumption. Media reports have tended to reinforce the preoccupation with drugs, alcohol included, in Indian Country.

The “Policy Insights Brief: Statistics on Violence Against Native Women” and “Violence Against Women Act Toolkit” by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Policy Research Center adds well-researched context to its position. The NCAI report states:

“Despite the federal trust obligation to protect Indian communities, violence against Native women in the United States has reached epidemic proportions and greatly exceeds that of any other population of women in the United States. The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 clarified that the unique legal relationship of the United States to Indian tribes creates a federal trust responsibility to assist tribal governments in safeguarding the lives of Native women.

Yet the ongoing violence against Native women shows that this responsibility has not been fulfilled. Indian nations have broad legislative authority to make decisions impacting the health and safety of their respective communities, but the legal restrictions the United States has placed upon the inherent jurisdictional authority that tribal nations maintain over their respective territories have created systemic barriers that deny Native women access to justice and prevent them from living free of violence or the threat of violence. On a daily basis, this violence threatens the lives of Native women and the future of Native people.”

What has long been realized statistically about violence against AI/NA women and girls not only paints quite a different picture of the trauma that we live with compared to RCMP reports on our Indigenous sisters across the border to the North – and who the offenders are in particular – but also why existing legal loopholes adversely impacting Indian Country need to be closed so that Native women and girls have equal access to justice.

3 in 5 AI/NA Women have been Physically Assaulted in their lifetime

1 in 3 AI/NA Women will be Raped in their Lifetime

Native American victims of intimate and family violence are more likely than victims of all other races to be injured and need hospital care.

3 in 5 AI/NA Women will be Victims of Domestic Violence in their lifetime

The rate of violent victimization of Native people in suburban areas is 2.8 times higher than that of the average for all races in suburban areas; 2.6 times higher for Natives than for all races in rural areas; and 2.5 times higher for Natives than for all races in urban areas.

A Native woman is more likely to die by homicide than by illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Intentional homicide has been the third leading cause of death for Native females aged 10–24. On some reservations, Native women and girls are murdered at more than 10 times the national average.

Among Native women victims of assault, an average of 63% describes the offender as non-Native. Among Native women victims of rape or sexual assault, an average of 67% percent describes the offender as non-Native.

More than 80% of sex crimes on reservations are committed by non-Native men immune from prosecution by Tribal courts.

While sex crimes against non-Native women are largely intra-racial, those against AI / AN women are more likely to be interracial with the majority of offenders described as being White.

The biggest barriers to prosecuting Violence Against Native Women are US Attorneys declining to prosecute violent crimes in Indian Country.

Under the current Violence Against Women Act, a Native victimized by a non-Native offender has no recourse for justice in tribal courts, even if both live together on reservation land.

This has resulted in a consistent stream of non-Native criminals and sexual predators in federally recognized tribal areas. Knowing that they can literally get away with just about anything keeps them coming.

Writing for the New York Times Louise Erdrich says: “Alexandra Pierce, author of a 2009 report on sexual violence against Indian women in Minnesota, has found that rapes on upstate reservations increase during hunting season. A non-Indian can drive up from the cities and be home in five hours. The tribal police can’t arrest him. To protect Native women, tribal authorities must be able to apprehend charge and try rapists – regardless of race. Tribal courts had such jurisdiction until 1978, when the Supreme Court ruled that they did not have inherent jurisdiction to try non-Indians without specific authorization from Congress.

The Senate bill would restore limited jurisdiction over non-Indians suspected of perpetrating sex crimes, but even this unnerves some officials. “You’ve got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

Leaving aside the fact that most Native defendants tried in the United States face Indian-free juries, and disregarding the fulsome notion that Native people can’t be impartial jurists, Mr. Grassley got his facts wrong. Most reservations have substantial non-Indian populations, and Native families are often mixed. The Senate version guarantees non-Indians the right to effective counsel and trial by an impartial jury.”

In its 2011 Report “Violence Against Women in the United States and the State’s Obligation to Protect”, the Human Rights Program of the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville noted that there are a range of limitations reported as part of the 2010 NISVS methodology. Estimates of the prevalence of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are likely to be underestimated.

Regardless of any discrepancies, the rate of victimization for Native women is higher than that for all other single-race groups in the 2011 and 2008 CDC reports. Another notable statistic is that Native women experience intimate partner violence at a rate of 46% over their lifetimes. This is higher than the 39% noted in the NISVS; the 2011 CDC Report includes rape, physical assault, and stalking violence by intimate partners where the 2008 Report excluded stalking violence.

As the NCAI pointedly observes: “These appalling statistics demonstrate the urgent need to address the legal and resource barriers that prevent tribal nations from protecting their female citizens.”

What Canadian Authorities Aren’t Revealing

Even with input provided by police departments it readily admits are outside its jurisdiction that it has had no control over and is narrowly focused on domestic violence, RCMP data is nowhere near being as comprehensive as the NISVS’.

The RCMP attempts to make a case for “MMAW” being the preserve of familial relationships with offenders being known to victims with no consideration for or data provided on: (1) actual racial and ethnic diversity in Indigenous families; (2) Ingenious and non-Indigenous interracial relationships and (3) the diversity of residents typically found on and around Reserves – as evidenced by NSIVS and US Census data about Reservations.

As APTN noted: “The publicly released parts of the RCMP’s [2014] reportsaid Indigenous women were killed by an acquaintance in 30 per cent of the reviewed cases. Nowhere in the publicly available part of the report, which was released last spring, does it break down numbers by communities, whether urban center or reserve, or by ethnicity. In an interview with APTN National News in December 2013, RCMP Supt. Tyler Bates said only some of the findings would be released publicly from a review of cases from 200 police departments dating back to 1980.”

It is quite telling while reporting a significant increase in interracial relationships in Canada, the Mixed Unions in Canada profile compiled from the National Household Survey, Statistics Canada has only providedinformation on interracial relationships between “Visible Minorities”, i.e. People of Color while excluding Indigenous populations from its definition.

Peculiarly; no data has actually been made available on interracial relationships of any kind for Indigenous peoples or White Canadians between other racial and ethnic groups – this despite a footnote on the involvement of Statistics Canada’s Aboriginal Statistics Division in compiling the data.

The focus on mixed unions between people of color only is a curious choice.

Brock University Sociologist Tamari Kitossa said in an interview with The Brock News:

“Interracial couples have long existed in Canada, stretching back to the fur traders. Statistically, there were probably more interracial couples 300 years ago than there are now relative to the size of the population. It was a policy of the French traders and the English traders in the Hudson’s Bay Company to actually partner with Aboriginal women to gain access to the trade routes and engagement with those communities. We know that the Metis are one result of interracial coupling in Canada.

We need to reframe our lens to show that interracial couples have long been the reality in Canada and pre- Confederation.

Aboriginal women are the first mothers of the continent. When we factor in slavery and immigration, we see that there’s a very long history of interracial mixing in Canada and throughout the Americas. Interracial unions make up about three to four per cent of all unions in Canada with people between the ages of 15 to 64 years. This is higher than in the United States, which has a rate of about two per cent. The rates vary within communities… Aboriginal and African-Canadians also have high interracial mating, although not as high as the Japanese. Also, interracial unions among people of colour are a smaller number than interracial couples involving people of European background with people of color.”

“A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground” ~ Cheyenne Proverb

As with the RCMP Reports, the CDC recognizes the value in anti-violence promotional communications strategies focusing on prevention. Where they differ is in rationale, methodology, and espoused narratives relating to Indigenous Populations.

Of particular importance for the CDC, as indicated by its NSIVS Communications Toolkit, are varied specialized target marketing and communications strategies directed towards specific groups rather than creating a singular campaign casting aspersions which further marginalizes the most marginalized group in the country:

“Since the NISVS report contains such a large amount of data, it will be important to identify data highlights that will be most interesting and relevant to the audience you are targeting. The CDC designed the survey to maximize safety and to facilitate the reporting of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence using the best available knowledge and expert advice. NISVS provides the most current and comprehensive data about the prevalence of these forms of violence. It is also the first survey to provide simultaneous national and state level data.

These data will help us identify who is most likely to experience these forms of violence and use this information to inform practices, policies, and programs that promote nonviolence and change the behaviors and environments that make violence more likely to occur”.

The RCMP as the arbiter of MMIW, on the other hand, has a very peculiar agenda with its 2015 “MMAW” Update with the emphasis on “raising public awareness” by pushing data and narratives laying the blame for violence against Canada’s Indigenous Women squarely on the shoulders of Indigenous women themselves and their communities while using Indigenous organizations and celebrities to do their dirty work:

“The RCMP continues to maintain a dedicated liaison with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). This relationship allows for the sharing of information between the two organizations, to draw attention to issues of concern to Aboriginal women and communities as well as to work collaboratively to develop initiatives.

As a tool to raise awareness of the issues facing Aboriginal women, the RCMP, in partnership with NWAC and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), created a poster campaign targeting the reduction of family violence, the timely reporting of missing persons cases and the importance of reporting all details/tips in missing persons investigations. These posters were distributed nationally to increase public engagement.

More recently, the RCMP produced a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video featuring Canadian singer Shania Twain on the issue of family violence. In the fall of 2015, the RCMP will release a second PSA featuring Canadian Inuk National Hockey League player Jordin Tootoo. The video message is designed to raise awareness, particularly among Aboriginal men and boys, about the issue of violence against women. Ultimately, efforts like these aim to stop the generational cycle of violence.”

Canada’s landscape continues to be riddled with numerous unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, Winnipeg’s Red River Womenamong them – with what little evidence there might be sign-posting the way to offenders who are most definitely non-Indigenous.

Lubicon Lake Band Chief Billy Joe Laboucan is another Grand Chief who spoke with APTN about the contentious meeting with Valcourt. Chief Laboucan reportedly spoke with ex-Minister Valcourt immediately following the meeting about his own tragic experience. Laboucan’s daughter, Bella Laboucan-McLean, fell 31 floors to her death from a Toronto condo during a small party with three men and two women. None of the men in the condo were First Nations, Métis or Inuit.

For whatever reasons, the Laboucan-McLean case remains unsolved.

Writing for APTN in September 2014 almost in the form of a Victim Impact Statement, Chief Laboucan’s eldest daughter Melina Laboucan-Massimo also made points about non-Indigenous offenders in Canada getting away with just about everything similar to those of the aforementioned Alexandra Pierce about unchecked violence against Minnesota Native Women, the same points being made throughout Indian Country.

“The Harper government’s ‘action plan’ released on Sept. 15 once again places the blame on Indigenous communities. It insinuates that violence against our women happens solely within our communities. This is far from the truth,” she said.

“This violence is also inflicted upon our women from non-Indigenous men. This is a Canadian problem, not solely a First Nations problem. A better approach would be to support spaces for healing from the legacy of trauma instead of continuing the victim-blaming narrative that we see from the Conservative government and the RCMP report from earlier this year. We continue to see the principles of patriarchy embedded in old colonial values, which play out in Canadian society today.

For example, the industrial system of resource extraction in Canada is predicated on systems of power and domination. This system is based on the raping and pillaging of Mother Earth as well as violence against women. The two are inextricably linked. With the expansion of extractive industries, not only do we see desecration of the land, we see an increase in violence against women.

Rampant sexual violence against women and a variety of social ills result from the influx of transient workers in and around workers’ camps. In Harper’s pro-tar sands, mining, drilling in the arctic, and fracking agenda, we see his disregard for the sacredness of this earth, just as we see his lack of care or concern for the hundreds of murdered and missing Indigenous women across this land. Not only does the Conservative’s ‘action plan’ not address this violence we see in the unsafe industrialized zones, it places the blame on Indigenous women and communities.”

For the RCMP and Canadian Federal Government under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Valcourt, every opportunity for open and frank MMIW discourse with Indigenous people on both sides of the border was an ‘Indigenous people are savage and responsible for their ongoing genocide’ type- argument supported by dubious facts and data.

Police organizations’ incessant hubris doesn’t extend to their own apathetic complicityStarlight Tours; Indigenous women victimized by police; Racial Profiling; its use of posters of Indigenous Women for target practice at police gun ranges rather than silhouettes; and ignoring the fact that “systematic bias” (aka institutional racism) by RCMP and Vancouver police left serial killer Robert Pickton free to kill dozens of Indigenous Women.

Even social media has been just another tool to be used as a PR exercise to support faulty data and push the RCMP’s NWAC and AFN Family Violence “awareness initiatives” with links to their “Sometimes… Home is where the Hurt is. Physical • Sexual • Threats” (with child abuse imagery) and missing person’s “Report what you know to local police…your tips could bring a loved one home,” posters.

RCMP’s “MMAW” data, reports, and communications strategy collectively appear to suffer from what psychologists call “Motivated Reasoning” – an extreme form of Confirmation Bias. It is an emotion-based insistence on only looking for and adjusting data to corroborate a particular point-of-view lacking in objectivity and credibility.

This is more compelling in the wake of a 2012 study published by the Canadian Journal of Law and Society which found that police organizationsroutinely suppress racial data in reports to the Canadian Federal Government.

RCMP and Federal Government narratives under the Harper administration were centered on erroneous beliefs that Indigenous people, families, and communities are insular, homogenous, and dangerous in ways that ‘multicultural Canada’ is not.

Thus the stage was set to victim-blame Indigenous Canadian communities as non-integrationist making them solely responsible for what does and does not happen to their own people in and around their own jurisdictions and elsewhere, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women included.

The Winds of Change

Newly-elected Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his appointed successor to Valcourt, Indigenous & Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, have earned praise for distancing themselves from Harper and Valcourt’s appalling record of inaction and hateful rhetoric.

The Liberal Party promised an Inquiry into MMIW as part of their campaigning and wasted no time moving forward on that promise after taking office last October. As a precursor to releasing the details of their two-year, $40-million public inquiry into the epidemic of Indigenous women and girls disappearing and/or being killed, Bennett in particular wascritical of the previous government and the victim-blaming of her predecessor.

“I think it was appalling in terms of blame,” she said last November, speaking with the media after a Cabinet meeting in Ottawa. “I think it doesn’t deal with the effects of colonization. It doesn’t deal with the effects of child abuse.”

Perhaps conscious of motivated reasoning, Minister Bennett indicated the RCMP had actually found that Indigenous women were “slightly less likely to be killed by an intimate partner than the non-indigenous community”…and pointedly said that “fooling around with those kinds of facts is really unhelpful.”

For Bennett, the inquiry must have a “good communication plan” so that “Canadians know what was heard and so it’s impossible to leave a report on the shelf.”

In its “Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women in Canada”, The Sexual Report Centre of Ottawa reports that despite the fact that more than 150 witnesses testified about social and economic inequality and discrimination to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women conducted a study on violence against Aboriginal women in 2010-11, “the final report failed to recommend meaningful action to address the marginalization of Aboriginal women that contributes to their vulnerability and to widespread tolerance of this violence from state officials, the media and the general public.”

The Government of British Columbia’s 2010 Missing Women Commission of Inquiry investigating police response to the MMIW cases in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver between 1997 and 2002 was also criticized. Damning evidence of racist and discriminatory conduct on the part of law enforcement agencies and faulty police practices, and political and public indifference aside, “the Commission was strongly criticized by women’s and Aboriginal women’s organizations for failing to consult with Aboriginal groups on the mandate and scope of the inquiry and for failing to provide the funding needed to ensure meaningful participation by Aboriginal women.”

The federal government has stated its commitment to reconciliation between Canada and its Indigenous peoples, and the MMIW Inquiry is seen as a vital part of the process. Trudeau and Bennett seem keen to not repeat the mistakes of the past in mandating pre-Inquiry consultations to determine how it should function and ensuring that MMIW families and Indigenous communities and organizations are active participants.

In closing remarks to a group of chiefs and First Nations delegates after three days of meetings organized by the Assembly of First Nations in Gatineau, Quebec on December 10th, Bennett reiterated her government’s commitment:

“We all, together, have both an exhilarating and daunting job ahead. I’ve learned that Indigenous leadership is inclusive leadership: it means asking, not telling. It means that we know the solutions are with you and that our job is to actively listen and to harvest those solutions from the people who have been worrying about these things; thinking about these things; writing about these things for a very long time,” she said.

“For me and my Parliamentary colleagues, active listening is the only way we can help rebuild the trust in our political institutions. But, as the Prime Minister has said so often and throughout the campaign, good public policy only comes when you listen to the people with expertise and lived experience. To me, this is what Reconciliation is all about. It is about listening and learning and acting – and admitting our mistakes. I want to ensure that we get this right – together.”

“The Inquiry will seek recommendations on concrete actions that governments, police services and civil society can take to address and prevent this violence,” Bennett added. “My federal colleagues and I will need your help to make sure we get it right; to make sure that we are listening to the people that you think should be listened to.”

In his own closing remarks, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the three-day meeting “historic” and said that he was encouraged by Trudeau’s government and its decisive action on the MMIW Inquiry.

“This issue is high on the radar and we’re going to keep it high on the radar,” he said.


Download Lisa J. Ellwood’s “Violence Against Women In Indian Country” data visualization (PDF) here.

Follow ICTMN Correspondent Lisa J. Ellwood on Twitter at


Kanahus Manuel, a member of the group Tiny House Warriors, says a group of men attacked her protest encampment and drove a truck into her home while she was in it. CANADA ‘They came to destroy and create fear’: Indigenous protester says men attacked Trans Mountain protest camp

Kanahus Manuel, a member of the group Tiny House Warriors, says a group of men attacked her protest encampment and drove a truck into her home while she was in it.

RCMP are investigating after an Indigenous woman reported that several men stormed into a protest encampment and drove a truck into her home.

Kanahus Manuel is a Secwepemc woman who is part of Tiny House Warriors, a group that has set up a village of five mobile miniature homes on unceded land to protest the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the construction of nearby work camps, sometimes referred to as “man camps.”

They have been on the site since July 2018 and live there full time, on what is traditional Secwepemcúĺecw land near Blue River, about two and a half hours northeast of Kamloops, B.C. The Secwepemc, also known as Shuswap people, traditionally reside on a large territory in the interior of B.C.

On Sunday evening, around 10:45 p.m., the woman — whose legal name is Amanda Soper but who goes by the name Manuel — alleges, a group of men driving all-terrain vehicles plowed through the wood barricade that surrounds the homes and began yelling at her.

She said that as soon as the men arrived on site, they started tearing down red dresses that were hanging to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

She said the men made misogynistic remarks and said Indigenous peoples don’t have the right to “take back land wherever you want.”

According to Manuel, the scene turned violent, when one of the men assaulted a village resident who demanded that they leave.

She said that’s when one of the men went into her truck, where the keys were still in the ignition and drove into her home. The tiny houses, as they are called, are effectively trailers that have been converted into miniature homes. Manuel said a hitch on the corner of the trailer prevented the truck from causing serious damage, but she still felt the impact of the collision while she was inside.

A member of the group Tiny House Warriors says a group of men attacked her protest encampment and drove a truck into her home while she was in it.

“They came right for me, full blast, with a big huge F-350,” Manuel said. “Who in their right mind would get into someone else’s truck and drive it into someone’s home?”

RCMP said the Clearwater, B.C. detachment is investigating the incident but could not provide further comment.

Manuel said the episode made her fear for her life.

“If this was the other way around, and there were three native men who stole a white woman’s truck and plowed it into a white woman’s house, there would be a manhunt.”

In a video Manuel posted to social media, the man Manuel said drove the truck into her home can be seen kneeling with his arms folded over his chest and smirking. Another man is standing next to him saying they are of Métis ancestry, which Manuel disputes.

In another video, Manuel recorded her truck, which appears to have collided with a light pole. She claims the man rammed the truck into the pole before leaving.

Manuel said she doesn’t have much faith or confidence in the RCMP, who she said have sided with industry groups in the past rather than activists. She said her encampment has been under surveillance by local police and that she has been arrested in the past for protesting.

“You’d think if they’re spending all this money on policing us, then they’d be able to find the people who are trying to kill us,” Manuel said.

Manuel’s social media post, in which she pleads for someone to identify the men if they recognize them, has received thousands of shares. She said she’s considering adding a reward.

Manuel said the incident will not discourage her from her activism.

“We’re not ever going to be strong-armed out of our home and land.” SOURCE

Omar Mosleh
Omar Mosleh is an Edmonton-based reporter covering inner-city issues, affordable housing and reconciliation for the Star



RCMP investigating incident at Tiny House Warriors village in Blue River, B.C.

Omar Mosleh
Omar Mosleh is an Edmonton-based reporter covering inner-city issues, affordable housing and reconciliation for the Star

Helping Our Politicians Solve The Climate Crisis

Helping Our Politicians Solve The Climate Crisis, Below2C

We at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada are in the business of creating political will for a livable planet with a laser-focus on carbon pricing, long considered the best tool to reduce carbon emissions. This work must not stop even during the pandemic now gripping the world.

Just because we’re in one crisis right now doesn’t mean we can forget about the other one — the climate crisis that we are also facing as a world and as a country. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Helping Our Politicians Solve The Climate Crisis, Below2C

Good News, Bad News

The good news is the Canadian parliament and 500 communities have declared climate emergencies.

The bad news is the most recent data show Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) rose by 15 megatonnes in 2018.

Before you start pointing fingers, please read on.

With the right policies, including a revenue-neutral carbon pricing policy as a core component of a cost-effective climate plan, Canada can exceed our climate targets, help save lives, improve health, conserve nature, promote equity and be poised to capture part of the 26 trillion dollar opportunity in climate-smart growth by 2030.

In 2018, Canada enacted the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. It establishes a minimum national cost for GHG emissions. First, it places a charge on specified GHG-producing fuels (the Fuel Charge). Second, it establishes a carbon pricing system applicable to large industrial emitters of GHGs, which pay a carbon price if their emissions exceed a set level.

The bulk of the fees collected under the Fuel Charge are returned to households, and 80% of households come out ahead, a finding confirmed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and others.

But unfortunately, the federal government is facing strong headwinds against them when trying to enact evidence-based climate policies

What happened in Ontario?

Ontario is responsible for 10 of Canada’s 15 megatonne rise in GHG emissions in 2018.

In 2018, the Ford Government unlawfully passed the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act which rolled back the province’s relatively progressive climate targets, replacing them with a significantly weaker 2030 target. Unfortunately,  Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario all have filed challenges to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and we await the rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada for those cases.

Their actions go against mountains of research.

Specifically, 27 Nobel Prize-winning economists and thousands of economists worldwide support carbon pricing similar to what we now have in Canada with a few tweaks.

Economic modeling, that you can test yourself at Climate Interactive and the Pembina Insititute, both show that carbon pricing is a core component of a cost-effective climate plan.

What specifically is needed for Canada’s carbon pricing policy to avert climate disaster?

  1. Canada must increase the national carbon price past 2022 to at least $220 tonne by 2030.
  2. The carbon price must continue to be revenue-neutral.  As well, unless the rebates that voters receive are readily apparent as a cheque or bank deposit (rather than an income tax adjustment), an increase in carbon price to $220 per tonne or more will not be acceptable to many voters. Thus, the carbon pricing revenue must be distributed back to Canadians as cheques or bank deposits
  3. The carbon price must be economy-wide with minimal principled exceptions and all measurable GHGs be priced.
  4. The climate emergency is a global problem. Thus, Canada needs to encourage foreign countries to adopt their own carbon fees. However, we must recognize Canada is a small country and we could get clobbered in a trade-war if we are not careful. We must continue to work in partnership with climate-friendly countries as we have been doing in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition since 2015. Specifically, we recommend that Parliament study Border Carbon Adjustments as soon as possible and follow closely what the European Union is doing.

But Carbon Pricing Is Not Enough

Also, in addition to carbon pricing, we need a suite of complementary climate policies to make sure the transition to a low carbon economy over the next 20 years is fair and equitable.

We are in a climate emergency.  We must use evidence and empower our politicians to listen to the experts and cooperate for the climate crisis as they have done so remarkably well for the COVID pandemic.

This is where Citizens’ Climate Lobby contributes, to aid the timely implementation of strong policies.

For detailed information about our request please read our 2020 Carbon Pricing Guidelines.

Please join us at our online Spring Rendezvous on Monday, May 11, 2020, where the top-minds and best volunteers on the planet will gather to help build political will for a liveable world.  Registration closes May 8.

Helping Our Politicians Solve The Climate Crisis, Below2C



Chernobyl still burns

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. 34 years later, Chernobyl radioactivity is still circulating. The long-lived radionuclides released by the accident mean the disaster continues decades on.

The wildfires started on April 3rd, due to abnormally hot, dry and windy weather. They are now the biggest fires ever recorded in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. What is one of the largest wildlife areas in Europe will take years to recover.

Satellite images of wildfires in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, taken 18 April 2020 © Greenpeace Global Mapping Hub Source: NASA Worldview, OpenStreetMap


With the Greenpeace Russia forest team and global mapping hub, I have been following these wildfires since they began. Satellite images show that an estimated 57 000 hectares of the Cherbobyl exclusion zone has burned so far. That is 22% of the total area of the exclusion zone.

As I am writing this, three weeks after the start of the fires, at least three of the largest fires continue burning. One of them is located close to the site of the old nuclear power plant, only 4 kilometers away from the sarcophagus. Hundreds of ill-equipped firefighters and foresters are currently trying to get the fires in Northern Ukraine under control.

The wind has carried some of the smoke over more populated areas. On the 16th of April, plumes of smoke caused smog in Kyiv, 250 kilometers away and although they did not exceed norms, higher levels of radioactivity than usual were detected. The smoke and ash have also crossed borders: the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority registered a small increase of caesium-137 concentrations in the air in Norway.

Increased activity of Caesium-137 and other radionuclides in the air can lead to a rise in levels of cancer. Whoever can smell the fire could also inhale these radioactive substances.

So yes, potentially dangerous radionuclides are travelling with the fire haze. This is due to the fact that since 1986, the forests have accumulated radioactivity, mostly concentrated in the wood and upper soil layers. This is why, in the contaminated areas, the village dwellers living nearby are deprived of their right to use the forest for the next 300 years. The “exclusion zone” surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is still – 34 years later – heavily contaminated with caesium-137, strontium-90, americium-241, plutonium-238 and plutonium-239. Plutonium particles are the most toxic ones: they are estimated to be around 250 times more harmful than caesium-137.

Forest Fire near Chernobyl. © Oksana Parafeniuk / Greenpeace
A forest fire burns near Kyiv, Ukraine, 60 km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. © Oksana Parafeniuk / Greenpeace


Fire releases these particles into the air where wind can transport them over long distances, eventually expanding the boundaries of radioactive contamination. There is currently no data on how much nuclear material has been brought into the atmosphere because of these fires, so we don’t know how far they have travelled. It is possible that most of the radionuclides will settle within the exclusion zone and nearest area, as these are heavy particles.

We know from previous (smaller) fires that happened in the area in 2015 that scientists found a release of 10.9 TBq caesium-137, 1.5 TBq of strontium-90, 7.8 GBq of plutonium-238 , 6.3 GBq of plutonium-239, 9.4 GBq of plutonium-239 and 29.7 GBq americium-241. It is clear that the numbers will be higher this year.

Close to the fires, firefighters and local people are exposed to risks from both smoke inhalation and radiation. Cities like Kyiv are exposed to the health impact of inhaling smoke in the short term and in the longer term, risk internal irradiation through contaminated berries, mushrooms and milk bought on the local markets. No-one is immune from radioactive products getting into their homes.

The consequences of Chernobyl are still here. People are still at risk; exposed and fighting on the frontlines. Forest fires in contaminated areas are a big problem for Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia where 5 million people still live in contaminated areas according to official data. These fires happen almost every year.

Firefighters in the Radioactive Contaminated Bryansk Region. © Vladislav Zalevskiy / Greenpeace
Every spring, fires start in the forests that are still heavily contaminated with radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Greenpeace firefighters work hard to stop the spreading of these fires. © Vladislav Zalevskiy / Greenpeace


The Greenpeace Russia firefighting squad has helped several times to extinguish the fires on contaminated territories. This year, our firefighters have not been able to go on site to help due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These forest fires are burdening an emergency ministry already in the midst of a health crisis. This goes to show that other emergencies can be exacerbated by nuclear-related incidents  – a situation that we have little or no control over.

Nuclear-related risks themselves are exacerbated by a lack of transparency: at the beginning of the fires, the first official accounts minimized the areas on fire by about 600 times. Secrecy was one of the reasons why the Chernobyl disaster was so severe in 1986: it was later confirmed in court that even the director of the Chernobyl power plant was not made aware of a disaster at the Leningrad nuclear power plant in 1975 that would have given clues to what happened in reactor 4.

Chernobyl will continue to pose a threat for many generations to come.  SOURCE

Rashid Alimov, is a nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace Russia.

Why facing our feelings is essential for tackling our climate crisis

Thirty years ago, I sat in a darkened lecture hall listening to what was happening to our Earth because of the decisions people had made. Climate change, toxic contamination, species loss, forest fires, soil depletion: it was a litany of all the ways humans had gone very wrong. At least, that’s how it felt to me, at age 19. Human behavior was directly influencing the globe’s weather patterns. It was almost unthinkable.
Apparently, it was so unthinkable for those around me — that people were literally not thinking about it.
Meanwhile, my world was turned upside down, forcing me to reassess almost everything — how I traveled, what I ate, wore, what I drank out of, slept in, even put on my face — surprisingly intimate things. It also made me think about who I was in the world, and who I wanted to be. I did not identify as a scientist, activist or “radical.” Yet, at that time, those seemed to be the only people who understood our lethal and dangerous trajectory.
I tried talking with other people about it. I wanted to understand what I was feeling, and why others seemed somehow immune. Was it grief? Was it a unique, new kind of anxiety? A crisis of “epistemic trust” — the helplessness Dr. Daniel Siegel calls when the world no longer seems trustworthy?
It was all of the above. Yet at that time, not many people wanted to talk about it. This is now changing. And that’s a good thing, because it’s the ticket to our collective survival.
As we face a global pandemic, tornadoes march across our country, forests burn, waters rise and warm, corals bleach, jungles disappear, floods decimate entire regions, and storms devastate coastlines. More and more people are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and despairing. And here’s the thing: we really need to be talking about this. Openly, without judgment, shame, blame, guilt or “emotional policing.”
We are seeing huge numbers of people starting to bravely name their feelings, openly: I am scared. I feel overwhelmed. I feel powerlessness. I feel angry. Such as Hugh, who struggles with anxiety and wrote into CNN before the climate town hall, “I’ve been losing sleep after reading a report that talks about how climate change could lead to the collapse of civilization by 2050.” A few years ago, this comment would have seemed extreme. This is no longer the case. It just hasn’t been acknowledged as openly — until now. And that’s a very good thing, especially in this uncertain, anxious and precarious time.
We are all seeking meaning at a time of such radical uncertainty and upheaval. And so the talking heads come out: we should prepare for an apocalypse, mobilize, activate, solve problems, come together, dialogue, innovate, grieve, cry or simply check out.
But we’re missing a crucial step. We need to name and acknowledge our feelings; if we don’t, we can’t move forward.
As neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux reminds us, “Body hormones, such as cortisol, help us cope with stress. But as with any useful chemical, you can have too much of a good thing. Prolonged, intense stress can raise the levels of cortisol beyond the point where they are useful and can impair memory processing and decision making systems that normally help us be effective amidst uncertainty and change. If we can keep our stress at levels that are useful rather than harmful, we can help ourselves and others be in the zone where we are able to use memory and foresight to cope with the situation. But because we are each different, we each have a unique tipping point.”
The question is, how we can do this, particularly when the stakes are so high. Psychologists have a term, “self-regulation” — ways we can keep our stress levels in a zone that enables us to be functional, proactive, agile and resilient.
“It requires huge self-regulation to contemplate and open our minds to apprehend the edges of these massive issues,” said neuroscientist Sarah Peyton, author of “Your Resonant Self.” This would include climate change, the pandemic, the economy, who we were pre-Covid-19 and who we are now becoming. “No wonder people get their fuses blown: being asked to take action, mourn, engage, with something so big.”
When anxiety or being overwhelmed hits, we can move outside of our “window of tolerance.” Siegel describes this “window” as the optimal zone of arousal where we are able to manage and thrive in everyday life, despite the ups and downs. On the one end, when stressed we can go into a “rigid” response, which may look like despair or depression, or a more “chaotic” mode of agitation and rage. Often we ricochet between, bouncing around based on how well we can cope with these stressors.
here are many things we can do — individually, socially and collectively — to move us into our window of tolerance. We are all doing them every day: walking, playing with our pets, cooking meals, joking around with our friends. We can also try calming practices like deep breathing and meditation known to powerfully change our stress levels. And, what truly helps us all, is our ability to open up, be honest, and have candid, compassionate conversations with those who feel similarly or who are open to listening.
Many of us are afraid that we’ll get pulled down into a black hole if we call out pain, guilt and shame that arises when we recognize that we are responsible for some big things going wrong, and that we are now reaping what we’ve sown. But in fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
Compassionately naming our emotions actively decreases activity in the amygdala, as cognitive scientist Golnaz Tabibnia and her team have discovered in their groundbreaking work. Or what Siegel calls “name it to tame it.”
Each of us need to support this kind of public global climate conversation. And it starts with, “of course.”
Of course you feel sad. Of course you have anxiety and are waking up at night. Of course you are worried about your kids and family. Of course you feel deep concern for all of humanity right now. Of course you feel angry but are not sure why. Of course you are wondering where leadership is. Of course you are grieving for the losses that are happening and will continue. Of course you feel energized to show up as fully as you can. Of course you care.
Saying “of course” to ourselves, first, and to each other as a regular practice, gives us permission to show up as our full, effective selves by first acknowledging the validity, complexity and intensity of the feelings. When leaders, influencers and each of us does this, we are saying, “You are not alone. I am here with you. Let’s figure this out together.”
What this looks like in practice — whether in UN meetings, your online conversations, news coverage or a presidential candidate debate stage — is having the courage and bravery to actively acknowledge and affirm what many are feeling but not giving voice to.
Of course this is a terrifying moment. These issues seem intractable and overwhelming. Of course it’s hard to even contemplate. Of course no one wants this to be happening, and everyone wishes it wasn’t.
The bottom line is that we are all so much more capable of showing up as our most active, hard-working, brilliant, creative, loving and generous selves, when our experience is being part of something bigger than ourselves. That we are not alone — which at this moment we are most certainly, clearly not. When we feel that we matter, our voices and experiences count — no matter how messy or complicated or dark or hopeful. We can all help each other, and our beautiful and suffering planet right now, by starting with saying to one person or a whole cast of thousands, “Of course you feel that way.” Of course. SOURCE

Renée Lertzman Ph.D. is a climate psychologist, researcher and strategist, focusing on individual and collective action on our climate and environmental crises.

Environmental reporting suspended in Alberta due to COVID-19

On March 31, 2020 the Alberta government enacted Ministerial Orders suspending existing environmental reporting requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministerial Orders signed by Environment Minister Jason Nixon states “All requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in approvals or registrations are suspended.”

Section 52.1 of the Public Health Act gives a minister with power to suspend and/or modify the application that they are responsible for under the Government Organization Act. The Minister of Environment and Parks issued the Ministerial Orders under section 52.1 to suspend the reporting requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act and the Public Lands Act. The suspension was made on the basis that the reporting obligations are not in the public interest during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The suspensions are in place until August 14, 2020 unless terminated earlier by the Minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council

The Ministerial Orders provide that for the specified period industry does not need to meet the reporting requirements. These exemptions however do not apply to drinking water and wastewater facilities.

The intent of the Ministerial Orders is to relieve industries from some of the administrative reporting functions required under the applicable legislative requirements. However, the concern is that since Alberta’s regulatory system largely depends on industry self-reporting the suspension is being criticized as effectively suspending environmental regulation in the Province of Alberta and removing any environmental oversight.

The change in reporting requirements does not apply to major accidents, spills or hazardous leaks which are still subject to the reporting obligations. Other concerns relate to cumulative effects of certain industries being overlooked and gaps in data collection making it difficult to prosecute companies for not meeting their regulatory requirements.

Shaun Fluker, a law professor at the University of Calgary stated: “The longer this gap persists, the more likely it is that certain standards that are in place to protect human health and the environment, any contraventions of those, are just going to go unaddressed.”  At this time, it is unclear as to whether the reporting that would otherwise be required during the suspension period will ever by submitted to the regulatory bodies. It is notable that while the reporting requirements are being suspended during the COVID-19 crisis the Alberta Energy Regulator has not suspended or extended deadlines on new projects. The project permitting process is continuing to move forward. SOURCE

Paula Lombardi practices in the areas of environmental law, municipal law, planning and development law, and class actions.

It’s time to invest in renewable energy: Pape

Wind turbines on Wolfe Island,  near Kingston.   Prices for renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal are coming down faster that anyone expecte.

I read two articles last week about the end of oil being closer than we think. Both had the same broad theme: prices for renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal are coming down faster that anyone expected. It’s just a matter of time – a shorter time than anyone expected – before oil drops to $0 a barrel, the oil sands close down, and fossil fuels are a thing of the past.

All this is the reason for the international oil price war. Every country wants to get its products out of the ground and cash in before the entire industry goes bust. If this thesis is to be believed, oil may not go much higher that its current level. It then goes into a long decline, with only the lowest-cost producers (read the Persian Gulf states) left standing as the price drops below $20 a barrel, en route to that magic zero number.

Frankly, I don’t think the oil age is going to end all that quickly. The global economy does not turn on a dime. There is a lot of technology still to be developed to ease us off fossil fuels for good. No aircraft company is sinking billions of dollars into solar-power passenger airplanes at this point. Despite the rise of Tesla, electric cars are still a long was from dominating dealer’s showrooms. Our transportation industry, from railroads to transport trunks, continues to operate on fossil fuels.

But while I believe the transition will be longer than the zero-oil advocates contend, it is coming and it’s inexorable. There are a growing number of renewable energy companies making profits for investors right now, with more on the way. If you want to get in on the ground floor, here are two stocks to look at. Ask your financial advisor if either is worthy of a place in your portfolio.

Brookfield Renewable Partners (TSX: BEP.UN, NYSE: BEP). This Bermuda-based limited partnership operates one of the world’s largest publicly traded renewable power portfolios. Its assets include hydroelectric dams and wind projects in North America, South America, and Europe. Total installed capacity is more than 10,000MW, which is enough renewable energy to power four million homes. The company is a spinoff from Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management, which maintains a controlling interest.

The partnership got off to a strong start this year with first-quarter revenue increasing 53 per cent over the previous year to $674 million (figures in U.S. dollars). Funds from operations (FFO) came in at $187 million ($0.68 per unit) compared with $153 million ($0.56 per unit) in the same period of 2015. Net income was $79 million ($0.16 per unit, fully diluted), up from $51 million ($0.10 per unit) in the prior year.

The units pay a quarterly distribution of US$0.445 (US$1.78 per year). The LP targets distribution increases of between 5 per cent and 9 per cent annually. The yield at the recent price of US$29.37 is just over 6.1 per cent.

This partnership offers sustainable cash flow, international diversification, and the deep pockets needed for continued growth.

TransAlta Renewables Inc. (TSX: RNW, OTC: TRSWF). This is a spinoff company from TransAlta Corp., which retains majority control. The parent company “drops down” assets into this company’s portfolio in exchange for cash and debt assumption.

The mandate is to develop and manage a portfolio of renewable energy resources that includes wind, hydro, and natural gas. Most of the gas operations are in Western Australia; however the largest one with 506 megawatts (MW) is in Sarnia.

The hydro projects, most of which are quite small, are concentrated in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. Wind facilities are spread across Canada, with one in Wyoming. The company has 1,349 MW in total generating capacity, making it Canada’s largest producer of wind power.

In total, the partnership has interests in 18 wind facilities, 13 hydroelectric facilities, eight natural gas generation facilities (including one currently under construction), and one natural gas pipeline.

Revenue was flat in the first quarter of 2016 at $68 million. The company reported a net loss of -$36 million (-$0.16 per share), mainly due to acquisition costs. However, adjusted funds from operations increased 91 per cent, to $82 million ($0.37 per share) compared with $46 million (also

The company increased its monthly dividend by 4.7 per cent at the start of this year, to $0.0733 (about $0.88 annually). The shares yield 6.8 per cent at a recent price of $13.

To sum up, both these stocks are attractive for investors who want to add some clean energy to their portfolios and who are willing to accept somewhat more risk. The yield in both cases is high but appears sustainable and the two companies have lots of room to grow as the green momentum builds. SOURCE

Gordon Pape is editor and publisher of the Internet Wealth Builder and Income Investor newsletters.

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