Indigenous land conflicts to persist unless sovereignty addressed, Wilson-Raybould says

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Jody Wilson-Raybould said protests like the dispute over a pipeline development in the ancestral Wet’suwet’en territory will happen again unless the Canadian government actively works towards addressing Indigenous sovereignty.

“This situation that we’re seeing in Wet’suwet’en territory, as we’ve seen in other territories around major resource development projects, are going to continue to happen until we address the fundamental underlying reality and of the inherent right of self-government of Indigenous Peoples and ensure that Indigenous Peoples can finally make their way and see themselves in our constitutional framework,” she said in an interview with Global News Ottawa Bureau Chief Mercedes Stephenson on Sunday’s episode of The West Block.

The Vancouver member of parliament said she understood the impact the railway blockades had on Canadians, but said it was both the responsibility of the RCMP as well as political leaders to come to an amicable solution.

Protesters block rails in Vaughan, Ont. in latest Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations

“It’s the responsibility of all of us. We got here to this place and leaders, elected leaders need to do their jobs, and that is to lead, to de-escalate the situation,” she said.

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Tensions between the government and the Wet’suwet’en Nation have been escalating since Dec. 31, when British Columbia’s Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink an expanded injunction that established an exclusion zone against protesters interfering with the construction of a $6.6-billion pipeline that is expected to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a massive export plant being built near Kitimat.

If completed, the 670-kilometre pipeline would pass through the nation’s unceded territory not covered by treaty.

The project has the support of the elected band council — but not by the territory’s hereditary chiefs, which is where Wilson-Raybould said confusion comes in.

“We have the imposition of a colonial statute called the Indian Act, which has determined that First Nations groups elect leaders and that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the elected leadership in the Wet’suwet’en territory, or that they may or may not speak for the Wet’suwet’en people. But so, too, do the hereditary chiefs,” she said.

The hereditary chiefs contend that governments do not have their consent and responded by issuing the company an eviction notice in early January, asserting the company was violating their traditional laws.

The RCMP said they had delayed enforcing the injunction for weeks to seek a peaceful resolution, but without one, they had no choice but to follow the court’s orders. On Feb. 6, the situation escalated and six people were arrested at the pipeline construction site by RCMP who were trying to clear the area. Since then, dozens more protesters have been arrested.

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The anger felt by protesters in Wet’suwet’en have inspired protests and demonstrations all over Canada, resulting in massive rail blockades across the country. On Thursday, VIA Rail announced it would be shutting down a majority of its train services in Canada over the blockades.

A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Feb. 15, 2020.
 A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Feb. 15, 2020. Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press

Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general and justice minister, said under the constitution, it is up to the Indigenous Peoples who reside in Wet’suwet’en to determine what happens on their territory. inue to impact resource development projects, will continue to impact other jurisdictions as exercised by the federal government and provincial governments until, as a country, we create the space necessarily… for Indigenous Nations to rebuild within a stronger Canada, said Wilson-Raybould.

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“When we do that, when Indigenous Peoples finally see themselves and can exercise their inherent rights of self-government, the country will be the better for it.”

Wilson-Raybould, a former Liberal, sits as an independent MP after winning 30.7 per cent of the vote in last year’s federal election.

Following what was described by Wilson-Rconstiaybould as “consistent and sustained” pressure from members of the Trudeau administration to resolve criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin,  she was demoted from her position as attorney general and justice minister and dismissed from the Liberal caucus last year. In August, a report by the federal ethics commissioner found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated Canada’s Conflict of Interest Act.  SOURCE

A decade of high expectations, broken promises for Indigenous peoples

Idle No More protestors close down Winnipeg’s major intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street in 2012. (John Woods / Free Press files)</p>

Idle No More protestors close down Winnipeg’s major intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street in 2012. (John Woods / Free Press files)

The Indian Act: What to do with it

Created more than 150 years ago, the Indian Act has structured relations between the federal government and Indigenous people for generations. And in the eyes of many, its purpose was and still is, to assimilate, control, and even destroy the people and communities that come under its jurisdiction. In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to scrap it. That hasn’t happened. The Agenda discusses what should be done about the archaic legislation. SOURCE

Why a UN declaration on Indigenous rights has struggled to become Canadian law

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B.C. legislation tables historic Indigenous rights bill  Watch the Video

For nearly a decade, Canada refused to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The country, under former prime minister Stephen Harper, was one of four in the world to hold back — 144 other nations accepted it.

The UN declaration, which was eventually adopted by the Trudeau government in 2016, is still considered controversial in Canada. The main point of concern is a clause that calls for “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous communities in matters that impact them — pipeline projects, for example.

READ MORE: B.C. becomes first province to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

During the recent federal election campaign, the Liberals, Greens and NDP promised to enshrine UNDRIP into Canadian law, a move that would demand greater accountability from the country.

While the debate carries on federally, British Columbia is set to become the first province to make it law. The legislation sets a framework to align provincial laws with the standards of the UN declaration.

‘Shame’: Indigenous teen among youth suing Canadian government over climate harms speaks out  WATCH the VIDEO

Angela Mashford-Pringle, who works at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto, told Global News she’s cautiously hopeful about UNDRIP becoming Canadian law.

“Even if it is enacted, I’m concerned that it could be just another lip service or way to pander to Indigenous Peoples,” Mashford-Pringle said.

She noted that Canada would still have to come to terms with issues such as systemic racism and the Indian Act.

But others are more optimistic about the impact UNDRIP could have on Canada’s relationships with Indigenous Peoples. MORE

The Indian Act’s contribution to murdered and missing Indigenous women

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The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada.

In early June, the final report of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry was finally released.

The report determined that the disproportionate level of violence against Indigenous women was genocide that originated from Canada’s colonial ideologies and policies including the Indian Act. It continued that “targeting victims in a gender-oriented manner” destroyed Indigenous communities and left lasting scars.

According to UBC’s Indigenous Foundations website, when the Europeans arrived in North America, they brought with them patriarchal beliefs about the role and importance of women. Europeans believed in universal male dominance. Settler women had few individual rights, were ruled by their husbands and treated as their property.

European patriarchy was imposed on First Nations through the Indian Act, which discriminated against Indigenous women in several ways. First, the Indian Act ruled that to qualify as an Indian, you had to be an Indian male, be the child of an Indian male, or be married to an Indian male.

Whether a woman was an Indian depended on her relationship with a man. Should she marry a non-Indian man, she lost her Indian status. The act’s sexual double-standard was brash for not only did an Indian man marrying a non-native woman keep all his rights, his wife gained Indian status.

What’s more, the Indian Act did not allow Indian women to possess land or martial property. If an Indian woman’s husband passed away or they separated, she and her children could not stay in the family home and left with nothing.

Although Canada was forced by lawsuits and the Charter to amend the legalized gender discrimination of Indigenous women through Bill C-31, inequality still exists in that the generational offspring of an Indian woman that married a non-native man will eventually become ineligible for Indian status.

Another way the Indian Act discriminated against Indigenous women was by excluding them from governance. Traditionally, Indigenous women participated in governance as advisors or decision makers.

The colonial racialization and sexualization of Indigenous women resulted in stereotypes that made violence against them acceptable.

Based on the European patriarchal belief that women were not fit for politics, the Indian Act implemented a male-only elective system. Indian women were not allowed to vote in band elections or hold political office. MORE

Never forget: Yes, there was a genocide. Why don’t we correct the wrong now?

Photo: Justin Trudeau/Twitter

…Today, Canada has a choice. It can continue to look away and praise itself as one of the best places in the world and quietly put the report on the shelf like it has in the past for all the previous reports (the Royal commission on Aboriginal peoples, and the public commission of inquiry into missing women in B.C. in 2012).

Or, it can decide to be courageous and brave and start decolonizing its institutions starting from stopping the abusive and racial profiling practices used by some local police forces, to overcoming the general apathy and complacency of the RCMP, to repealing the mother of all evil, the Indian Act.

Like any radical change, this decolonization process wouldn’t be easy or popular to adopt. Already, most of the major newspapers in Canada are, since the release of the report, aligning with editorial after editorial and opinion after opinion against the word “genocide” used in the report. Many have been acting offended and choosing to focus on the word genocide, while all the crucial issues discussed in the report have seemed already to be once again forgotten.  SOURCE

RELATED:

‘The world should have stopped’: An Indigenous woman responds to Canada’s admission of genocide

Elizabeth May’s Greens Need to Fix Their Indigenous ‘Vision’

Party’s positions are thin, unrealistic and riddled with embarrassing errors.

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Green Party leader MP Elizabeth May joined Will George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and others protesting the Kinder Morgan Pipeline last year in Burnaby. But her party’s stance on Indigenous issues badly needs work. Photo: Michael Wheatley/Alamy Live News

The Green Party by-election victory in Nanaimo on May 6th could be called a breakthrough — it is only their second federal electoral victory, and coming days after the near election of a Green provincial government in Prince Edward Island, it shows that increasingly many Canadians are seeing the Greens as a valid alternative. Among those looking seriously at the Green Party for the first time are Indigenous people — who after a litany of disappointments by the Trudeau government, are looking for a new home for their votes.

Rumours are circulating that former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is considering a run with the Greens in the next election. Before being expelled from the Liberal caucus, Wilson-Raybould was at the heart of that party’s reconciliation agenda. The legitimacy she and other Indigenous candidates brought, together with Liberal promises to Indigenous people, and outreach efforts resulted in the largest Native vote in Canadian history.

Wilson-Raybould’s appearance at Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s wedding on April 22nd may be a sign that she is getting ready to do for May in 2019 what she did for Trudeau in 2015.

However, it will take much more than the mere presence of Wilson-Raybould to make the Green Party an appealing place for Indigenous voters, because while some Native people are considering voting Green, it’s clear from their platform that the Green Party has given next to no consideration to Native people or our issues.

Among those policies is a promise aboriginal to “set a date for the Repeal of the Indian Act, ideally in less than 10 years, to allow all nations and interested parties to prepare.”

No one likes the Indian Act, but asking First Nations governments to prepare policy and bureaucracy to do the job of every single part of it in less than 10 years is asking for the impossible. Such an imposition would, in an instant, require 600-plus bands with populations ranging from a few dozen to a few thousand to create inheritance policy, land codes, taxation regimes, membership codes, human rights regulation, conflict resolution policies, election codes, public housing authorities, education authorities, child welfare authorities, fish and game regulation, agricultural regulation, and on and on and on. MORE

 

Gender discrimination and the Indian Act

 

The Indian Act (1876-to Present) is the piece of legislation that not only defines the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Settler Canadian government but also serves to regulate the membership of indigenous communities and access to reserve lands and services by dividing indigenous people into status and non status Indians.  The Act, which was designed with the twin goals of controlling and assimilating Indigenous peoples into the Canadian body politic, did so by slowly bleeding indigenous communities of women and their children. This was done in part by imposing patriarchal understandings of family and inheritance on indigenous societies and sidelining traditional governing structures in favour of Bands and Band Councils (which banned women’s participation until 1951 when the Indian Act was amended).

 

How The Government Decided Who and Who Was Not An ‘Indian’

To qualify as a ‘Status Indian’ under the act you needed to be a man who was believed to have indigenous lineage and belong to a Band, the child of a ‘Status Indian’ or married to a ‘Status Indian’.  Under the Indian Act women became entirely dependent of their fathers and husbands for their Status as well as their band membership and made heterosexuality mandatory. If a woman married a man who had ‘Status’ and was a member of a different band she and her decedents would then become members of the husband’s band. If a woman married a ‘Non Status’ indigenous man or a non-indigenous man she and all of her decedents lost their ‘Status’ in perpetuity. A startling number of women and their children were struck off the register and were denied access to their communities and their cultures through these provisions of the Act.  Later amendments saw women who had married men belonging to different bands being forcibly enfranchised if they were widowed or abandoned by their spouse. As a woman’s status was intrinsically tied to her husband’s status a severing of that relationship left women without access to their adopted bands and reserves and without the legal standing to rejoin their birth community.  SOURCE

Ending sex discrimination in the Indian Act through ‘6(1)a All the Way’
First Nation Women Leaders & Advocates Call for End to Sex Discrimination

What Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand about Indigenous-government relations

OPINION: By offering Jody Wilson-Raybould the position of Minister of Indigenous Services, the prime minister signalled that he still has a lot to learn about reconciliation, writes Charnel Anderson

Jody Wilson-Rabould

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould serves as an MP for the riding of Vancouver Granville. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

One of the federal Liberal government’s stated priorities is to renew the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. It’s among the most important relationships to this country, according to Justin Trudeau — but recent events involving Jody Wilson-Raybould call into question the prime minister’s commitment to reconciliation.

Last Wednesday, during his testimony to the justice committee about the SNC-Lavalin affair, the prime minister’s former top aide, Gerald Butts, revealed that, in January, Trudeau had asked Wilson-Raybould — then the attorney general — to lead Indigenous Services Canada. The offer was more than a political faux pas: it demonstrated an unmistakable ignorance about the government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. It was an offer she could, and did, refuse.

Wilson-Raybould, a member of We Wai Kai Nation, in British Columbia, hasn’t been shy about her opposition to the Indian Act, which she would have been tasked with administering had she taken up Trudeau’s offer. In 2016, she said that “the Indian Act is not a suitable system of government; it is not consistent with the rights enshrined in our constitution, the principles set out in [the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], or calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

On the face of it, Trudeau’s desire to appoint an Indigenous person to lead ISC may seem fitting — who better to administer the government’s Indigenous portfolio than an Indigenous person who is aware of the cultures and values of Indigenous peoples in Canada? But even a cursory look at relations between this country and Indigenous communities over the past 150 years reveals why this interpretation is misguided.

Truth comes before reconciliation.

It’s worth reminding readers that the Indian Act, first passed in 1876, was designed to assimilate Indigenous peoples.

This is what Sir John A. Macdonald — who, for nearly 10 years, beginning in 1878, was the Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (the 19th-century equivalent of Minister of Indigenous Services) — had to say about the Indian Act: “The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.”

The Canadian government has historically tried to wipe out Indigenous people’s cultures: that is the basis of Indigenous-government relations; it’s also the reason why more than one Indigenous person has told me that they’re vehemently opposed to working in the public sector.  MORE

21 Things You May Not Have Known About The Indian Act

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Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has shaped, controlled, and constrained the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Peoples, and is at the root of many enduring stereotypes. Bob Joseph’s book comes at a key time in the reconciliation process, when awareness from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities is at a crescendo. Joseph explains how Indigenous Peoples can step out from under the Indian Act and return to self-government, self-determination, and self-reliance and why doing so would result in a better country for every Canadian.

“The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.” – John A Macdonald, 1887

The Indian Act has been a lightning rod for criticism and controversy over the years, widely attacked by First Nations people and communities for its regressive and paternalistic excesses.

Here are some of the restrictions and impacts imposed on First Nations (some have since been removed in revisions of the Act).

The Indian Act:

    1. denied women status;
    2. introduced residential schools;
    3. created reserves;

MORE