First Nations and the federal election: An exercise in self-termination

This warning by Russ Diabo posted in Ricochet, July, 2015 is even more timely today.

Image result for Ricochet: First Nations and the federal election: An exercise in self-termination

For the past several weeks, I have observed with increasing frequency a call for First Peoples to get out for the upcoming federal election. The mainstream media and now the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, are urging Indigenous people to vote, particularly since it is looking like a three-way race between the federal leaders and their parties (sorry, Elizabeth May).

…I took particular notice of an opinion piece by Tasha Kheiriddin in the National Post. Kheiriddin was responding to Regina Crowchild, a councillor with Alberta’s Tsuu T’ina Nation, who said that she would not want to see “an alien government’s polling station” on her reserve, adding that “if we join Canada in their election system, that’s a part of genocide.”

Here was Kheiriddin’s counterargument:

The reality is that, paradoxically, if First Nations are truly interested in more autonomy, they will never get it without cooperation from the federal government. That means electing a government that is sympathetic to their perspective — and they will never do so unless they go to the polls. Voting is not capitulation, but a recognition that in a democracy, you need to participate if you want your voice to be heard.

Despite the mainstream media’s pleas, we must remember as First Nation individuals we are connected to our families, communities and nations. Therefore we have collective or group rights, which Canadian citizens — whether founding settlers or recent immigrants — cannot claim.

In fact, Canada (including the Supreme Court of Canada) bases its asserted sovereignty and territorial integrity on the racist, colonial Christian doctrine of discovery. Kheiriddin’s argument makes sense only if Indigenous peoples already consider themselves as “Canadians.” MORE

2019 is the year young people rise for climate justice


Photo Credit: Allan Lissner

In Ottawa, Canada — unsurrendered lands of the Algonquin Anishnabe, water protectors and land defenders from across the country gathered on February 14–18th for the mass youth climate convergence, Powershift: Young and Rising, organized by 20 youth. Young and Rising came at a critical time in Canada, falling months after the worst wildfire season on record in the country and reports that glaciers are melting much faster than expected in the North.

Even with the latest UN report stating we have less than 12 years to radically transition off of fossil fuels to prevent the worst possible climate crisis, the Canadian government continues to invest in the oil industry at the cost of Indigenous rights and a liveable planet, while promoting a public image of reconciliation and climate leadership.

Within the past year, the Canadian government purchased an oil pipeline for $4 billion taxpayer dollars, and forcefully removed the Wet’suwet’en Nation from their unsurrendered lands (which they had already proven title to in the Supreme Court) for the Coastal Gas Link pipeline. Kanahus Manuel, Secwepemc Tiny House Warrior, aptly dubbed pipelines in Canada as “transportation corridors that are taking stolen resources off of Indigenous territories,” in her keynote at Young and Rising.

“We are told that we have 12 years to act before irreversible catastrophe yet the urgency of the crisis is flatly denied or met with false solutions. We must build mass power capable of actually reversing this trajectory,” Nayeli Jimenez, Powershift Organizer told me.

Nayeli affirmed that the real solutions are being championed at the grassroots level, “Indigenous communities are standing on the frontlines against resource extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure across Turtle Island.” MORE

Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony reveals another tough lesson for Indigenous youth


Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday.  (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

When Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s former attorney general and minister of justice, sat in front of the justice committee on Wednesday I, like so many others, tuned in, anxiously waiting to hear her speak her truth. Here was a smart, accomplished, and composed Indigenous woman, about to speak out against Canada’s most powerful politicians. She sat alone. Before the hearing even began, the image of the scene spoke volumes.

Her testimony was both eloquent and brave. Despite this, I felt an anxiety about the whole situation that wouldn’t subside; I knew that, like in all cases where one speaks truth to power (especially if those speaking are women or Indigenous people in this country), that there would be backlash and consequences — no matter how eloquent or brave you may be.I cringed knowing that the second the hearing ended I would go online and see people calling her a liar and a traitor, blame her if a conservative government were to take power, and generally posting a host of awful things. Implicitly validating all of this, I knew that the prime minister would deny it all.

The real reason I felt so anxious, however, was not because of these inevitabilities — it was because I saw a bigger message they spoke to: that an Indigenous woman can be in one of the most powerful and prestigious positions in the country, and yet is still not shielded from the violence of Canada and the government; that you can try to work within the system, but you will always face incredible resistance if your work threatens the interests of those more powerful, who the system is really built to serve. MORE

Colonial pipedreams & Unist’ot’en

On this week’s episode of the Victoria-based Out of Left Field podcast, independent journalist Zoe Ducklow (New York TimesThe TyeeDesmog Canada) joins the show to discuss indigenous rights & land claims, climate change and the role of activists in the struggle for a reconciliation.

Check out Zoe’s recent piece ‘Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade’ here: thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08…Unistoten-Blockade/

SOURCE

Ford government proposes to scrap controversial law placing ‘restrictions’ on development in northern Ontario


Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski seen at the Conservative government’s swearing-in ceremony on June 29, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

The grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is cautiously welcoming a proposal by Premier Doug Ford’s government to repeal a 2010 law that his nation viewed as a form of colonialism.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler made the comments after Premier Doug Ford’s government announced a public consultation to repeal the Far North Act, legislation adopted by the former provincial Liberal government that gave First Nations some control over development in their traditional territories.

The government said on Monday that it was proposing to repeal the law with the aim of “reducing red tape and restrictions on important economic development projects” in the northern part of the province, including the Ring of Fire, all-season roads and electrical transmission projects.

This objective has some critics skeptical about the government’s intentions. This includes one critic who described the review as a plan to get “First Nations out of the way” to facilitate industry and government’s mining aspirations. MORE

Trudeau cloaks continued attack on First Nations sovereignty with charm

A ‘Canadian definition’ of the UNDRIP aims to extinguish 8th Fire

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“8TH Fire draws from an Anishinaabe prophecy that declares now is the time for Aboriginal peoples and the settler community to come together and build the ‘8TH Fire’ of justice and harmony.” – CBC website for the television show 8TH Fire

The Anishinaabe prophecy of the 8th Fire, popularized by a 2012 CBC four-part television miniseries hosted by Wab Kinew, was a beginner’s course on the dark colonial origins of the country of Canada based upon the unjust treatment of First Nations. The TV series was intended to portray a hopeful change in the historic relationship between First Nations and Canadians based upon the prophecy of the 8th Fire, a time of reconciliation.

For the last 21 years the federal “self-government” policy has set out Canada’s negotiating position with all First Nations. It gives all provinces a veto in any negotiations with First Nations on subject matters that affect provincial jurisdiction or laws.

Another dangerous feature of the federal “self-government” policy is that Canada intends to keep for itself all of the real powers of sovereignty and nationhood necessary for sustaining an economy, trade and diplomatic relations with other nations in the world. These are not on the table for negotiations with First Nations. There is no real power sharing contemplated in the federal self -government negotiation process. The only role that Aboriginal groups or “bands” would have under the self-government agreements are “delegated authority” under various federal (and provincial) subject areas. The policy also requires that Aboriginal groups or “bands” raise their “own source revenues,” which is Ottawa’s code for taxation or forms of taxation.

This is the policy that many bands are currently negotiating under to get out of the Indian Act — essentially they are converting into a municipal-type government. MORE

 

Pipeline blockade is a sign of deeper troubles

 

Governments of B.C. and Canada claim agreements with elected band councils constitute consent, even though Supreme Court cases — including 1997’s Delgamuukw versus the Queen, which involved the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en — have recognized traditional governance forms, including the hereditary chief and clan system, on traditional territories. Elected band councils are more like municipal councils that have limited jurisdiction only over reserve lands.

The hereditary chief system was in place long before settlers and colonizers arrived. Chiefs, clans and house groups are responsible to the land and the people, and chiefs can be removed if they fail to fulfil their duties. The band council system is a product of the Indian Act, which also gave us residential schools.

As my good friend Miles Richardson, David Suzuki Foundation board member and former head of the B.C. Treaty Commission and Haida First Nation, told the Vancouver Sun, “When you look at the political world and the relationship between First Nations and the Crown, there’s a mighty struggle going on between two world views. There’s the Indigenous worldview manifested in the nation-to-nation commitment, and the colonial view, a 200-year-old, failed policy that was denounced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and apologized for.” MORE