‘People are starting to wake up’: Pipeline protesters expect long-term change

A protester who was blocking an entrance to the port is arrested by police officers in Vancouver on Monday. The demonstration was held in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories.


VANCOUVER — Opponents of a natural gas pipeline in northwestern British Columbia say they believe protests across the country are sparking a growing awareness of Indigenous rights that will lead to long-term change.

Protesters blocked train traffic in east Vancouver on Monday afternoon to support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The protest came hours after nearly 60 people were arrested for obstructing busy ports in the city and in nearby Delta.

Demonstrators gathered on the B.C. legislature steps in Victoria, where traffic was also tied up because of blockages on two bridges Monday evening.

Pipeline opponents also gathered at the office of the Crown-Indigenous relations minister in Toronto, the federal justice building in Ottawa, a commuter train line in Montreal and outside an event with the natural resources minister in St. John’s, N.L.

Jen Wickham, a spokeswoman for one of the five clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en Nation, said she believes non-Indigenous Canadians are becoming more aware of First Nations rights.

“I think that people are starting to wake up to the fact that we have the right to our territory,” she said. “They’re upset and they’re taking to the streets. They’re occupying offices, they’re stopping traffic and they’re stopping trains. They’re saying, loud and clear, ‘This is not OK.’ “

The RCMP began enforcing a court injunction last week against people camped near a pipeline work site in Houston. Mounties said 14 people were arrested and expected to appear in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

Mounties said in a statement late Monday they have concluded major operations to enforce the injunction, following the arrests of seven more people earlier in the day.

Wickham said members are defending their territory from construction of the pipeline, which is part of a $40 billion liquefied natural gas export project.

“We are the rightful title owners of our territory and we will continue to assert our sovereignty,” she said. “It’s not a question of protesting. It’s a question of their homes. They’re defending their homes.”

Protesters began disruptions at ports in Vancouver and nearby Delta on Friday. The ports obtained court injunctions and arrests were made Monday morning, when Delta police said emergency health services were called for one protester out of an abundance of caution.

“Everyone involved was treated respectfully and with dignity,” said Cris Leykauf, a Delta police spokeswoman.

Demonstrators regrouped and impeded a major rail thoroughfare that feeds into the port. Spokeswoman Natalie Knight said about 150 people were there on Monday afternoon.

“We want to send a clear signal in at least two different directions. We want to signal to ourselves that we are strong, that we are not afraid of the colonial legal courts, and that we stand with the Wet’suwet’en,” she said.

Vancouver police said it was monitoring the protest and no arrests had been made.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said it had not heard of any terminal delays due to demonstrations on the rail lines but it continued to monitor the situation.

Knight also said she has seen public opinion shift toward support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

In the years that followed, residential schools were closed and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was launched, Knight said.

“The ripple effects of these kinds of actions for Indigenous sovereignty are much bigger than we can predict or see in this current moment.”

In St. John’s, N.L., dozens of protesters gathered outside Memorial University, where Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan was set to speak.

“Natural resource development in this country, at a time when we’ve committed to net zero, when a majority of Canadians have voted with clear concern about climate change, there are going to be protests and people feel very strongly about it,” O’Regan said.

“I was more than happy to hear their concerns and I’m sure I’ll be hearing a number of others as I go across the country.”

About 30 people waited for six hours in the lobby of the federal justice building in Ottawa until a trio of department officials came down to hear their concerns. The officials said Justice Minister David Lametti was travelling and unavailable, but protesters said they wouldn’t leave until they spoke to someone in a position of authority.

Emma Buchanan, who attended the protest, said the national show of support for the Wet’suwet’en was a sign that people are waking up to the need to support Indigenous people.

“Indigenous issues are Canadian issues and they are for everybody to care about,” she said.

Lametti said in a statement that he had spoken by phone with the protesters and was committed to bringing their demands to his cabinet colleagues.

“Advancing reconciliation is a crucial priority for our government and our country,” he said. “I take this responsibility very seriously.”

On the B.C. legislature steps, protester Kolin Sutherland-Wilson said he feels a responsibility to stand up for Wet’suwet’en members.

“In this day and age, it is immoral, it is unjust and it is inhumane for Canada to continue to criminalize and vilify Indigenous law,” he said.

All 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en council, have signed benefits agreements with Coastal GasLink. However, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say the council established by the Indian Act only has authority over reserve lands.

The hereditary chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area because they have never signed a treaty ceding their traditional territories.

Premier John Horgan has said the pipeline is of vital economic and social importance to northern B.C. He said the courts have decided the pipeline can proceed and the rule of law must prevail.

B.C.’s Indigenous relations minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. SOURCE

 

Wet’suwet’en Raids: Canada Chooses Colonialism Again

A future of reconciliation is now squandered along with our billions propping up LNG.

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Protecting extraction, once again: The scene last year as heavily armed RCMP officers shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking a natural gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en land. Photo by Michael Toledano.

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.
— Albert Camus

On Thursday, the RCMP and the Canadian state came to a moral crossroads on a snowy country road and looked briefly down a pathway to reconciliation. Then it said, “Fuck It.”

A highly militarized police presence once again used force against Wet’suwet’en protestors blocking the construction of a $6.6-billion methane pipeline needed to feed a grossly uneconomic $40-billion liquefied natural gas project.

In so doing the police made a mockery of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It is not a complicated document. As criminologist Jeff Monaghan notes, the declaration expects “that conflicts like this will not be resolved violently or militarily but with negotiated solutions. The document directs us to do peaceful negotiated solutions that respect everyone’s rights, and equally.”

That didn’t happen.

As reliable agents of the Canadian state and defenders of resource extraction, the RCMP let it be known that the Trudeau government puts highly subsidized methane projects ahead of reconciliation and UN declarations.

Let’s be clear: in Canada, low-priced natural gas matters more than unresolved land claims.

By implication the government also told the nation that it puts uneconomic LNG projects ahead of climate change, given that serious methane leaks from the shale gas industry are now accelerating that chaos.

It, too, advances LNG ahead of the destruction of the arable lands and First Nations treaty rights in Peace River.

In that precious part of B.C., the shale gas industry continues to frack, industrialize and fragment that landscape with impunity, because only rural people live there, after all.

The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are not asking for much: they want Indigenous rights and title respected and acknowledged by the B.C. and Canadian governments.

The chiefs tried to negotiate with the B.C. government over the recent enforcement of a court injunction but got nowhere with Premier John Horgan.

The recent negotiations predictably failed for an obvious reason: the B.C. government has become a salesman for LNG at home and abroad.

The shale gas industry has secured better representation in the B.C. government than ordinary citizens who actually pay taxes.

But what about the 20 First Nations that have signed on to the project, you might ask?

Yes, they signed and the negotiations were colonial. It was sign or get nothing. Many nations signed under severe constraints. Nor were they presented with economic alternatives.

As legal scholar and expert in Indigenous rights Dayna Scott has noted, Indigenous leaders are faced with a “false choice. They’re being asked to choose whether or not they want to sign a deal and get some benefits for their people for a pipeline that’s going to go through whether or not they agree to it.”

Now consider the position of Hereditary Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale). He is not willing to settle for mutual benefit agreements or the modern equivalent of beads and trinkets:

“They wanted access to the land, and we said you’re not getting access, you’ll never get approval, not from the hereditary chiefs and not from our people.” A colonial mind, however, can’t fathom such arguments, because it still refuses to come to terms with the nation’s dirty past.

For the most part Canadians remain an arrogant mining people with little regard for the truths of our colonial history. Most still think we have nothing to acknowledge, let alone make amends for.

These deniers or doubters should read the indomitable Bev Sellars, former chief and councillor of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake. Her searing book, Price Paid, presents the issue of reconciliation in a clear and telling metaphor.

Imagine you owned a nice home. Then you graciously shared it with a bunch of white guests from across the seas. Without even saying thanks, these guests took over more and more rooms in the house. Soon they imposed their own laws and even banned the owner’s original customs. Eventually the invaders kicked out the original owners and left them to die.

Until every Canadian can visualize that colonial abuse, until all of us can feel that in our guts, there will be no reconciliation in this country.

Those still unconvinced by Sellars’ metaphor should pick up James Daschuk’s brilliant Clearing the Plains.

We all know that the American government thought they could murder Indians into submission. The Canadian government took a different approach: it pursued a policy of planned relocation, starvation and disease. Indian agents stole funds and raped Indigenous women. Anyone who resisted was hanged. Then came residential schools.

The Canadian state’s willingness to ignore reconciliation is even more galling when you consider its colonial defence of the preposterous economics of LNG and fracked gas in northern B.C.

In Canada, LNG development has become an absurd Soviet engine that ignores costs and environmental damages.

But being Canadian, it drapes itself with the plastic word “responsible.”

“Responsible” subsidies for the foreign-funded LNG industry now include low royalties; nearly $1 billion worth of royalty credits; discounted electricity prices; reduced corporate income taxes; free water for fracking; reduced carbon taxes and the deferral of provincial sales taxes during construction. The Canadian government even invested $275 million in LNG Canada!

These subsidies, however, still can’t make LNG economic. In 2018 the Canadian Energy Research Institute examined the economics of LNG.

It concluded that Western Canada LNG would be $1 to $3 more expensive than the current spot price in Japan of $8 per million (BTU) and needed more subsidies and tax credits.

CERI then calculated what the LNG industry would need in terms of future prices to remain economically viable: a market price of $8.99 per million BTU or higher in Asia to break even. Or an oil price of approximately $80 or higher to break even under long-term LNG contracts.

Those conditions don’t exist and show no signs of coming into being.

A global LNG supply glut has collapsed prices in Asia to as low as $5.5 per million BTU in Japan and India. Analysts say the glut could last years.

Meanwhile oil prices, which influence LNG pricing, remain in the doldrums.

Unless the Canadian and B.C. governments are prepared to give away LNG, neither Coastal GasLink nor LNG Canada are economic at this point in time.

These appalling economics explain why Chevron pulled out of the Kitimat LNG project last fall. At the same time, Chevron wrote off $11 billion in underperforming shale gas assets in Appalachia due to low prices and overproduction.

Throughout North America’s oil patch, the shale boom has collapsed as more companies go bankrupt and investors refuse to loan more money to companies whose costs exceed their revenue.

Given the volatility of commodity prices, reconciliation should come first.

And let’s not strut like peacocks and talk about the rule of law as Horgan has done.

In Alberta, oil and gas companies now break the law every day. They owe $172 million in taxes to rural municipalities and millions more to landowners for unpaid surface leases.

Does Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrest the offending white collar criminals and charge them with breaking civil contracts? No. He actively excuses their behaviour.

So there is one rule of law in Canada for insolvent resource extractors, and another law for First Nations, rural municipalities and landowners.

Fortunately, the Wet’suwet’en respect laws that are thousands of years old.

They plan on upholding them.

So should we. SOURCE

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Here is how you can take action in solidarity with land defenders on Wet’suwet’en territories:

True test of reconciliation: respect the Indigenous right to say No

Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

Conflict is coming. There is no getting around that fact. Anyone who believes that reconciliation will be about blanket exercises, cultural awareness training, visiting a native exhibit at a museum or hanging native artwork in public office buildings doesn’t understand how we got here. Reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples has never been about multiculturalism, diversity or inclusion. Reconciliation is not an affirmative-action program, nor is it about adding token Indigenous peoples to committees, advisory groups or board rooms. We cannot tokenize our way out of this mess that Canada created. Real reconciliation requires truth be exposed, justice be done to make amends and then Canada’s discriminatory laws, policies, practices and societal norms be reconciled with Indigenous rights, title, treaties, laws and jurisdiction. That process of truth, justice and reconciliation will be painful. It requires a radical change. Nothing less than the transfer of land, wealth and power to Indigenous peoples will set things right. The true test of reconciliation will be whether Canada respects the Indigenous right to say ‘no.’

Canadian courts have been issuing decisions about Aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights, sending the strong message to governments that they must obtain the consent of Indigenous peoples before taking actions or making decisions that will impact our lives. Governments have not listened. Canada’s failure to listen is one of the reasons why Indigenous peoples spent more than 25 years negotiating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which guarantees the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent. Article 19 of UNDRIP provides:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Consent is a legal concept which can be defined as the voluntary acquiescence of one person to the proposal of another. In general, it is the right to say yes or no to something and/or put conditions on an agreement. Consent must be free from misrepresentations, deceptions, fraud or duress. This is a very basic right, but one which has been denied to Indigenous peoples since contact. Take for example, the actions of Indian agents and police, who used food rations to extort sex from Indigenous women and girls. In the context of being forced to live on reserves, not being allowed to leave the reserve and being dependent on food rations, what real choice would a young girl have? Similarly, when police officers or judges detain Indigenous women and girls, drive them to secluded locations and force them to perform sexual acts — there is no real consent when the threat of lethal force or arrest on false charges is ever-present. This is especially so given our knowledge of the number of assaults and deaths of our people in police custody. There was no consent when they stole our children and put them into residential schools, nor was there any consent when priests, nuns and others raped those children. There was no consent when doctors forcibly sterilized Indigenous women and girls — sometimes without their knowledge.

Feb. 25, 2018: Justice for Colton and Tina rally, Edmonton. The woman at centre holding up sign is Colten Boushie’s cousin Jade Tootoosis. Photo by Paula E. Kirman/ RadicalCitizenMedia .com.Today, the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent has become the central issue in Canada’s reconciliation agenda. Justin Trudeau campaigned on the promise of implementing UNDRIP into law and respecting the right of Indigenous peoples to say no. When asked by APTN host Cheryl McKenzie whether no would mean no under his government, he responded “absolutely.” Another way of putting this is that Indigenous peoples could exercise their legal right to refuse to approve or authorize a project. This veto right stems from various sources, but primarily our inherent rights as Indigenous governments with our own laws and rules which govern our traditional territories. They may also come from specific Aboriginal rights, treaty rights and Aboriginal title. These rights are not only protected within our own Indigenous laws, but also section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982 and various international human rights laws, including UNDRIP. Yet, after Trudeau announced his latest idea to create a legislative framework to recognize Indigenous rights and avoid litigation, Justice Minister Raybould stated clearly that “consent doesn’t mean a veto” for Indigenous peoples.

So, we are now back where we started. Canada has not yet reconciled its laws, policies or political positions to the fact that Indigenous peoples have the right to say no to development projects on our lands. This means that conflict will continue to grow over mining, forestry, hydraulic fracking and pipelines on Indigenous lands. The true test of reconciliation will inevitably play out on the ground, like it did in Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake, Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church) and Elsipogtog. Will Canada force the Kinder Morgan pipeline to go ahead against the will of British Columbia and First Nations? Will Canada isolate and exclude First Nations who do not subscribe to the extinguishment requirements of Canada’s land-claims process? What will happen to First Nations who stop provincial social workers and police officers from entering their reserves to steal more children into foster care? This will be the real test of our inherent right to say no.

Canada will only truly give effect to reconciliation when Indigenous peoples have the right to say no — no to discriminatory government laws and policies; no to federal and provincial control over our Nations; no to racism from society, industry and government; no to sexualized violence, abuse and trafficking; no to theft of our children into foster care and the imprisonment of our peoples; no to the ongoing theft of our lands and resources; and no to the contamination and destruction of our lands, waters, plants, animals, birds and fish. The right to say no is the core of any future relationship with the Canadian state and its citizens. It’s a basic right — one which is grounded in our sovereignty as individuals and Nations to decide for ourselves the life we wish to live. Canada has made it clear we have no right to say no, only an obligation to say yes. First Nations leaders and citizens should not wait to see how this plays out in court – they should assert and defend their right to say no now. SOURCE

First Nations Vow to Fight on after Trans Mountain Defeat

Federal court rejects argument consultation was inadequate. ‘Reconciliation stopped today,’ says representative.

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The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is already under construction. The expansion has been strongly opposed by the Indigenous governments challenging it in court. Photo by Jason Franson, the Canadian Press.

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed an application from First Nations seeking to overturn the government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion because they had not been adequately consulted.

While pipeline supporters applauded the court’s decision, opponents — including representatives of the First Nations involved in the challenge — promised the fight will continue both inside and outside the legal system.

“The applicants’ submissions are essentially that the Project cannot be approved until all of their concerns are resolved to their satisfaction,” Justices Marc Noël, J.D. Denis Pelletier and J.B. Laskin wrote in their unanimous reasons for judgment released today.

“If we accepted those submissions, as a practical matter there would be no end to consultation, the Project would never be approved, and the applicants would have a de facto veto right over it,” it said.

The application was filed by the Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation along with the Aitchelitz, Skowkale, Shxwhá:y Village, Soowahlie, Squiala First Nation, Tzeachten and Yakweakwioose.

The respondents were the Canadian attorney general, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC and Trans Mountain Corporation. The attorneys general for Alberta and Saskatchewan intervened, as did the Canadian Energy Regulator (formerly known as the National Energy Board).

The $7.4-billion project, already under construction, will twin an existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline from near Edmonton to Burnaby, tripling capacity to 890,000 barrels per day.

The expansion has been strongly opposed by the Indigenous governments challenging it in court, as well as by local governments, environmental groups and individuals. More than 200 people have been arrested protesting construction in the Lower Mainland, including former Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May and now Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, cases that have led to charges in many cases and proceeded through the court system.

In a 2018 ruling, the court had found that the federal government’s original decision to approve the expansion of the pipeline, which it now owns after buying it from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion, was based on an “impermissibly under-inclusive” environmental assessment and a failure by the Crown to fulfil its duty to consult with Indigenous peoples.

Today’s decision found the consultation process launched after that ruling has been sufficient, justifying the subsequent federal government approval.

“Contrary to what the applicants assert, this was anything but a rubber-stamping exercise,” the justices ruled. “The end result was not a ratification of the earlier approval, but an approval with amended conditions flowing directly from the renewed consultation.”

“It is true that the applicants are of the view that their concerns have not been fully met, but to insist on that happening is to impose a standard of perfection, a standard not required by law.”

Trans Mountain Corporation welcomed the ruling. “After many years of consultation and review we are pleased to be able to continue moving forward and building the Project in respect of communities, and for the benefit of Canadians,” President and CEO Ian Anderson said in an emailed statement.

“The Government of Canada’s additional Indigenous consultation represented an immense undertaking by many parties. The Government was committed to a specific and focused dialogue with affected Indigenous communities to ensure Canada, and the Company heard their concerns and responded.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney tweeted “Another win on the #TMX pipeline for Alberta! Pleased to see this unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to reject this challenge. Now let’s get it built.”

Representatives of the First Nations involved in the case expressed deep disappointment with the ruling during a news conference in Vancouver but said the fight will continue.

“Disappointing as it is, it’s one step,” said Tsleil-Waututh elected Chief Leah George-Wilson. “We have far longer to go in this journey.”

We’ll continue to fight to enforce our jurisdiction within our territories,” said Khelsilem, a Squamish Nation elected councillor, stressing the continued right to self-determination on unceded lands.

While there are legal options to continue the fight, he said, it’s worth remembering B.C.’s long history of civil disobedience in support of environmental causes. “There are a lot of people who are willing to do a lot to defend our coast and defend our communities.”

The applicants have 60 days to review the decision and decide whether to appeal it to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Several speakers pointed out that the federal government’s drive to complete the pipeline expansion is at odds with its stated goals of reconciliation with Indigenous people and action on the climate crisis. The pipeline will carry bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to be exported by tanker from Burnaby.

“Reconciliation stopped today,” said Rueben George, a spokesperson for the Sacred Trust Initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “This government is incapable of making sound decisions for our future generations.”

University of Victoria law professor Chris Tollefson said the appeal court’s decision was unsurprising and the matter is almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The original decision requiring additional consultations “made it clear there were some fundamental problems with the process and sent it back for those to be fixed,” said Tollefson, who represented BC Nature through the National Energy Board process.

“The new process was not much better than the old one. It still left many of the same questions and problems on the table,” he said. “Instead of opening the courthouse door and hearing those arguments, what the court did the second time was to severely constrain which arguments it would hear and from whom they would hear them.”

“What we have is a judicial process that is very much open to criticism in terms of giving parties with a very legitimate stake, who have worked in this process, they’ve been effectively denied their ability to make their case.”

Today’s decision answers a small number of questions for a narrow number of litigants, meaning the Supreme Court will eventually have to rule on all the still unanswered questions, he said.

“It’s not the end of the story.”

Today’s ruling follows a unanimous January Supreme Court of Canada decision that found British Columbia lacked the jurisdiction to regulate the flow of heavy oil across the province. SOURCE

 

John Ivison: Pipeline dispute raises important question — who speaks for First Nations?

Reconciliation means making one system compatible with another, not Indigenous law trumping Canadian law at the behest of some self-anointed aristocrats

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline hold a press conference in Smithers, B.C., on Jan. 7, 2020.Amy Smart/The Canadian Press/File

The “territorial re-occupation” of land along the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C. by hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people has raised some thorny constitutional questions and some surprising interventions.

The $6.2 billion, 670 km pipeline route runs from Dawson Creek, near the Alberta border, to Kitimat in B.C.’s north coast region, crossing through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.

The pipeline is supported by the five Wet’suwet’en bands, and their elected chiefs and councils. They point out the advantages for local communities – financial benefit agreements worth $338 million for the 20 bands along the route and contract work for indigenous businesses estimated at $620 million. Reginald Ogen, president of a company that has won a $75 million contract to provide camp facilities, has noted that the jobs may be short and medium term but the training “lasts a lifetime and provides future opportunities”.

The project is opposed by the hereditary chiefs who represent the 13 Wet’suwet’en houses (12 are represented by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, while the Dark House operates independently). Small groups of “land defenders” have blocked a bridge crucial to future development.

The project hit the headlines earlier this month when the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called for an immediate stop to construction, only to be given pause for thought when it was pointed out to the committee chair that most communities along the route support the pipeline.

B.C. Supreme Court justice, Marguerite Church, extended an injunction late last year that found in favour of the pipeline proponent and against the hereditary chiefs blocking construction.

This has sparked a debate about who speaks for the Wet’suwet’en. Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould weighed in with an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail last week that raised eyebrows.

The independent MP for Vancouver Granville argued that Indigenous reconciliation requires moving beyond the Indian Act to systems of Indigenous governance that are created on the ground and recognized by others.

Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould. Mike Bell/Postmedia/File

So far, so good. But deconstructing the colonial reality, in Wilson-Raybould’s eyes, means blowing up the band councils.

“The legal reality is that band councils are a creature of the colonial Indian Act and have limited delegated authority tied to reserves,” she said. “They do not have inherent authority, nor are they self-governing or an expression of self-determination. They cannot simply represent the proper rights holder – the broader group that shares a common language, culture and tradition – and typically there is more than one band within a given territory of an Indigenous people.”

Nowhere in her article does it stress the imperative point – they are elected and those claiming to speak for the broader First Nation are not.

She doesn’t explicitly come out in favour of the hereditary chiefs over the elected band chiefs but she comes close – an extraordinary inclination from a democratically elected MP.

In the case in question, all the band chiefs in the given territory are in favour of the pipeline proceeding.

Most people would probably agree that it should be up to Indigenous people to decide on how they are governed. The government has suggested moving from 670 small bands to larger First Nations more capable of delivering services.

There are no simple answers to these tough questions

But one would hope that whatever structure evolves is based on universal suffrage and democratic principles, rather than on some form of feudal genealogy.

The hereditary chiefs contend that the Wet’suwet’en are represented by traditional governance structures and that, since the pipeline’s proponents were not given permission to enter unceded territory, they are in violation of Wet’suwet’en law.

The elected chiefs beg to differ, resulting in considerable tension between the two groups. Reginald Ogen, who is a member of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, contends his section 35 rights are being infringed by the blockade.

Further confusion has emanated from an internal debate about who qualifies as a hereditary house chief. The lead defendants in the B.C. Supreme Court case claim to represent the Unist’ot’en people, which is not a governing body of the Wet’suwet’en.

Madam Justice Church resolved that Indigenous customary laws are not an “effectual” part of Canadian law until they are somehow recognized in treaties or court declarations. As such, she said the idea that Indigenous laws supersede Canadian law and the B.C. government’s approval of the Coastal GasLink pipeline does not stand up to scrutiny. Her ruling gives RCMP the right to arrest people and remove camps designed to block pipeline construction.

Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and who oppose the Costal Gaslink pipeline take part in a rally in Smithers B.C., on Jan. 10, 2020. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press/File

However, she did acknowledge that the question is complex and raises “significant constitutional questions.” Wilson-Raybould covered some of this terrain in her article, which called for a “foundational legislative shift through the development of a recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights framework”.

What does foundational shift look like? In her last act as justice minister, Wilson-Raybould issued a directive on civil litigation involving Indigenous people that promoted negotiation and settlement, instead of drawn out court battles. Critics in the justice department felt the effect was to instruct government lawyers to litigate badly.

Dwight Newman, the Canadian research chair in Indigenous Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, said the task of reconciling how Indigenous law intersects with Canadian law will be problematic.

“There are no simple answers to these tough questions,” he said.

But reconciliation means making one system compatible with another. As the B.C. Supreme Court rightly concluded, it does not mean Indigenous law trumping Canadian law at the behest of some self-anointed Indigenous aristocrats. SOURCE

‘What cost are human rights worth?’ UN calls for immediate RCMP withdrawal in Wet’suwet’en standoff

Experts say the world is watching to see if Canada heeds a call from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until ‘free, prior and informed consent’ is obtained from Indigenous peoples

Wet'suwet'en Coastal GasLink January 2019 Barricade

Police climb over a barricade to enforce the injunction filed by Coastal GasLink pipeline at the Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston, British Columbia on Monday, January 7, 2019. The pipeline company was given a permit but the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which has jurisdiction over the territory in question, has never given consent. Fourteen people were arrested. Photo: Amber Bracken

1990, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was at a Lil’wat Nation blockade to stop clear-cut logging and the expropriation of Mount Currie reserve land when he got a taste of how far governments in Canada are willing to go to prevent Indigenous people from protecting their lands.

“The sniper team came in in two Suburbans and went up onto the hillside and one of the Lil’wat Mount Currey band members came riding across the creek on his horse, quite panicked and warning us that there was a sniper team being deployed in the trees,” Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told The Narwhal.

“We had witnessed the Suburbans coming in, but he actually saw the sniper team disembark and take up positions,” Phillip recalled. “I know that to be a standard tactic on the part of the RCMP.”

As tensions escalate in the stand-off between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink — with the company posting a 72-hour injunction notice allowing the RCMP to arrest anyone blocking access to its work site as early as Friday — Phillip said there’s “an urgency” for Canada to heed a call from the United Nations and immediately halt pipeline construction on Wet’suwet’en lands and territories.

“It’s a precarious situation,” Phillip said, pointing to a recent article in The Guardian disclosing the RCMP was prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders in the dispute over construction of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline to ship fracked gas to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat.

LNG Canada project, Kitimat B.C. 2017

The site of the LNG Canada project in Kitimat B.C. in 2017. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

UN says projects need ‘free, prior and informed’ consent

In a move Phillip called a “significant development,” the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a triple-barrelled decision calling on Canada to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from Indigenous peoples.

The committee urged Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en peoples who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Secwepemc peoples opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons —  notably by the RCMP — against Indigenous peoples and to guarantee no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP, along with associated security and policing services, from traditional lands.

In a two-page decision statement, the committee said it is alarmed by the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. and disturbed by the “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against Indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects” on their traditional territories.

Coastal Gaslink Pipeline RCMP Gidimt'en arrest

Police make an arrest January 2019 while enforcing the injunction filed by Coastal GasLink at the Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston, B.C. Photo: Amber Bracken

“It’s somewhat frustrating and embarrassing that the UN has to chide the government of Canada and the provincial government with respect to what the rule of law is in this country in regard to Indigenous land rights, Indigenous human rights,” Phillip said.

“I think it’s a reflection of the ongoing arrogance of the Trudeau government, that somehow the Trudeau government feels it’s above the law and can just simply flout the law.”

As word of the UN decision spread, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage called the United Nations an “unelected, unaccountable” body that has no business criticizing Canada’s energy megaprojects.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the country’s largest oil and gas lobby group, issued a press release saying the UN committee’s two-page decision statement “reflects an embarrassing ignorance of Canadian law.”

‘If we think back to the Holocaust, all of that was legal under German law’

But Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said the whole point of the 18-member committee is that it’s comprised of unelected human rights experts appointed by UN member states.

“We want them to be there as objective, non-partisan, non-political experts who are going to look very closely at the situations that are brought to their attention, such as these three serious human rights concerns from Canada, and make the right assessments and make the right decisions entirely free from political influence,” Neve said in an interview.

Indigenous rights scholars point out the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination — whose implementation is monitored by the committee — holds signatories, including Canada, accountable to international human rights law.

They also note that the United Nations, with its overarching focus on human rights, was created in the wake of the Holocaust and other atrocities to ensure increased global scrutiny of human rights in individual countries, and that Canada championed the convention and was one of the first nations to sign on.

” … the process that was followed in Canada is failing … “

University of Manitoba law professor Brenda Gunn said Canadian law should not be used to try to protect or excuse actions cited by the UN committee.

“If we think back to the Holocaust, all of that was legal under German law. What this system is designed to do is to have people outside the state judging standards against something other than domestic law, to ensure that domestic law isn’t violating rights,” said Gunn, a Metis lawyer who provided technical assistance to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People with regards to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“What this committee is saying is that the process that was followed in Canada is failing to uphold Canada’s international human rights [obligations]. You wouldn’t expect this person to need to know Canadian law. All they need to know is the facts of what happened and compare that to their expertise of what is required under international law.”

Potential for ‘deep stain on Canada’s global reputation’

UBC professor Sheryl Lightfoot, a Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, said the UN committee is pointing out that Canada’s law, policy and practice for consultation with Indigenous communities do not meet global human rights standards.

Canada has reported to the UN committee “regularly, routinely and enthusiastically” since 1970, the year after the convention was entered into force, noted Lightfoot, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe who is senior advisor to the UBC president on Indigenous affairs.

“The one area that Canada stumbles on is once the CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] casts its eye on Indigenous peoples’ human rights,” Lightfoot said in an interview.

“Canada is normally held up as a role model standard on this particular issue of eliminating racial discrimination.

This is one of the few times, and the notable times, where Canada is on the receiving end of negative news.”

The UN committee decision comes as Canada vies for a coveted seat on the UN Security Council, a bid Gunn said will fall under increased global scrutiny if Canada fails to follow the committee’s recommendations.

“While we may not hear public chastising of Canada in any international forum, there will be many conversations happening in the various lounges at the UN, and elsewhere, where states that Canada was counting on for support will be saying ‘well, what about this recent decision … how do we support a seat on the security council when Canada’s record on human rights continues to be questioned?’ ”

Lightfoot said a lack of action could  “create a deep stain on Canada’s global reputation.”

The committee decision follows landmark legislation passed by the B.C. government in November to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). The federal government has also promised to pass legislation to harmonize Canadian laws with UNDRIP by the end of this year.

Roland Willson, chief of West Moberly First Nations, called the decision a “validation for us.”

West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation are awaiting trial dates to determine if the Site C dam unjustifiably infringes on their constitutionally protected treaty rights, as the nations claim in civil actions filed two years ago.

Among many other impacts, the Site C hydro project will destroy Indigenous burial sites and other places of spiritual and cultural importance — including traditional hunting and fishing grounds — and poison fish with methylmercury.

West Moberly Chief Roland Willson

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson has been a vocal opponent of the Site C dam. Photo: Jayce Hawkins / The Narwhal

Site C dam called ‘cultural genocide’

Willson said West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations met with Gay McDougall, a U.S. lawyer who is the vice-chair of the UN committee, last year in Vancouver

“It’s not mass genocide that’s happening here. It’s cultural genocide,” Willson told The Narwhal.

“Ms. McDougall said to us, ‘Genocide is genocide. They’re destroying your culture and your culture is who you are as a people. So they’re killing you as a people’ … Our discussion with her verified that we’re right.”

Willson called it a “crime” to destroy the last tract of Peace River Valley available to Indigenous people to engage in traditional practices when there are cheaper and less destructive ways to produce power.

 “…The thought of [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump threatening to destroy Iran’s cultural sites, everybody’s up in arms about that, saying that should be considered war crimes,” Willson said.

“Well here they’re making a decision to destroy what’s left of an intact ecosystem, a vital piece of our culture.”

Article 32 of UNDRIP says governments “shall consult and cooperate in good faith” with Indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions, in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of “any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources” — particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

Site C construction. Peace River. B.C.

Construction of the Site C dam on the banks of the Peace River. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

In a 2019 letter to the UN committee, a copy of which was obtained by The Narwhal, the federal government said it approached the Site C project “in a manner that is consistent” with obtaining free, prior and informed consent, a claim Willson called “hogwash.”

Willson said the federal government only met once with West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations about the Site C dam, for about 20 minutes.

The meeting, with former Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, took place in Vancouver several months after the election of the Trudeau government in the fall of 2015, Willson said, describing the session as “our one avenue to talk about everything.”

Nations ‘conceded’ instead of consenting

“Conceding is far from consenting,” Willson said. “Every nation in Treaty 8 was opposed to Site C.”

But after the project — championed for decades by BC Hydro — received final B.C. government approval in December 2014, “some of the nations conceded to BC Hydro,” Willson said.

“Their decision was not free,” he said. “It wasn’t prior. It was after the fact.”

A letter Willson sent to the UN committee two months ago said many affected Indigenous peoples have not consented to construction of the Site C project, including Blueberry River First Nation, Prophet River First Nation and Fort Nelson First Nation.

“Not a single Indigenous group supported Site C before Canada had issued all major approvals, and some groups that signed an agreement on the project afterwards stated publicly that they had never consented,” Willson wrote.

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark infamously vowed she would push the Site C project past the point of no return, the letter noted.

“There was never any intent by Canada or British Columbia to consider alternatives offered by Indigenous peoples,” Willson told the committee.

The chief also questioned the notion that First Nations were given “informed” details about the Site C project.

“Bogus estimates about future energy demand were used during consultations by the Province of British Columbia and BC Hydro to manufacture a need for the dam and to disregard less impactful alternatives such as wind and solar,” he said.

“These estimates have now been debunked by the B.C. Utilities Commission, British Columbia’s own independent utilities regulator.”

‘What cost are human rights worth?’

Asked about the economic cost of suspending the three projects, Lightfoot said, “what cost are human rights worth?”

“That’s the question for Canada,” she said. “The CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] is trying to bring to Canada’s attention that when dealing with human rights you have to consider all people’s human rights and consider them equally.”

Gunn said major resource projects like the Site C dam and the TransMountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines will continue to experience delays and court challenges until Canada does a better job of engaging and working with Indigenous peoples. The current situation doesn’t lead to greater certainty for anyone, she pointed out.

“It just leads to more divisions and more problems.”

Neve said the UN committee has made it clear on a number of occasions it is deeply concerned that industrial projects such as the Site C dam and Coastal GasLink pipeline are proceeding in ways that violate the rights of Indigenous people.

“It is unconscionable for Canada to just shrug our shoulders and ignore that,” Neve said. “It’s time to do what the UN is asking us to do.”

It’s not the first time the UN committee has called on Canada to suspend the Site C project, which would flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries in the heart of Treaty 8 traditional territory if the dam is completed in 2024 as scheduled.

In September 2017, the committee recommended that Canada immediately suspend all permits and approvals for the publicly funded $10.7 billion project, which will produce an average of 680 megawatts of electricity.

The committee also advised Canada to end “the substitution of costly legal challenges as post facto recourse in place of obtaining meaningful free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.”

The UN committee issued a second rejoinder in December 2019 when it again cited a “lack of measures taken to ensure the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent” for the Site C dam. It warned that construction without such consent would infringe on Indigenous peoples’ rights protected under the international convention.

The Narwhal reached out to Global Affairs Canada for a response to the UN committee’s decision. Global Affairs Canada — whose email signature touts Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat  — put us in touch with Heritage Canada.

Heritage Canada said it hoped to have a response for January 8, but no response was received by publication time.

Phillip said the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs will request a meeting with federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett to discuss the decision.

“We’ll be speaking not only to the government of Canada but also to the provincial government and Premier [John] Horgan with regard to the CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] report and its implications vis a vis Bill 41,” Phillip said.

He said the union doesn’t accept the notion that Bill 41, B.C.’s new UNDRIP legislation, will only apply to new resource projects.

“We don’t buy that. The law is the law.” SOURCE


Wet’suwet’en threatened with eviction from their territory

The situation is escalating in Wet’suwet’en unceded territory in northern British Columbia this week as they face eviction by the RCMP if they do not remove any obstacles that would prevent workers from getting to construction sites for a Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The Wet’suwet’en need you to act in solidarity with their defense of traditional territory in the face of development projects that have not received the free, prior and informed consent of their people.

ACT NOW in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en: 

1. Sign our partner RavenTrust’s letter to Coastal GasLink reminding the executives of the rights of Indigenous Peoples that are to be respected, and urging them to respect the eviction order from the Hereditary Chiefs.

2. Visit the Wet’suwet’en Supporter page and take action to support the land defense. There is plenty of information on how to visit the camp, fundraise, write letters to law-makers, and resources for education and solidarity work with your neighbours.

In December 2019, The UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination recognized that Canada did not obtain the consent needed to begin construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Committee instructed Canada to immediately halt construction and suspend all permits and approvals for the project, and urged Canada to withdraw RCMP and security and policing forces from the traditional territories.

Nevertheless, on December 31, 2019 a BC Supreme Court judge extended an injunction against the Wet’suwet’en, saying construction of the natural gas pipeline has been harmed by their defense camps. The hereditary Chiefs reject the Court’s decision based on their inherent, constitutional and human rights to govern their traditional territory under their own governance and legal systems and have once again ordered Coastal GasLink off their lands.

Thank you for speaking out today in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.

Image result for logo amnesty internationalIn solidarity,

Ana Nicole Collins
Indigenous Rights Advisor
Amnesty International Canada

 

 

Coastal GasLink posts injunction order giving opponents 72-hours to clear way toward its work site in B.C.

Na’moks, centre, a spokesman for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, speaks during a news conference in Smithers, B.C., on Jan. 7, 2020. The order stamped Tuesday by the B.C. Supreme Court registry addresses members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and supporters who say the project has no authority without consent from the five hereditary clan chiefs.

A natural gas pipeline company has posted an injunction order giving opponents 72 hours to clear the way toward its work site in northern British Columbia, although the company says its focus remains finding a peaceful resolution that avoids enforcement.

The order stamped Tuesday by the B.C. Supreme Court registry addresses members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and supporters who say the Coastal GasLink project has no authority without consent from the five hereditary clan chiefs.

It comes one year after the RCMP’s enforcement of a similar injunction along the same road sparked rallies across Canada in support of Indigenous rights and raised questions about land claims.

The order requires the defendants to remove any obstructions including cabins and gates on any roads, bridges or work sites the company has been authorized to use.

If they don’t remove the obstructions themselves, the court says the company is at liberty to remove them.

It gives authorization to the RCMP to arrest and remove anyone police have “reasonable or probable grounds” to believe has knowledge of the order and is contravening it.

“The police retain discretion as to timing and manner of enforcement of this order,” it says.

Coastal GasLink, however, says posting the order was procedural and the company has no plans to request police action.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction to Coastal GasLink on Dec. 31. The order stamped Tuesday provides details of the court injunction.

Previous injunction and enforcement orders remained in effect until the new order was issued, Coastal GasLink spokeswoman Suzanne Wilton said.

Obstructing access was already prohibited under the previous orders and they also included enforcement provisions.

“We continue to believe that dialogue is preferable to confrontation while engagement and a negotiated resolution remain possible,” Wilton said in an email.

The company declined an interview request.

The order does not apply to a metal gate on the west side of a bridge outside the Unist’ot’en camp, unless it is used to prevent or impede the workers’ access.

Hereditary chiefs negotiated last year with the RCMP for the gate to remain outside the camp, which is home to some members of one of the First Nation’s 13 house groups, so long as it would not be used to prevent workers from accessing the work site.

Fourteen people were arrested by police officers at a checkpoint constructed along the road leading to both the Unist’ot’en camp and the Coastal GasLink work site on Jan. 7, 2019.

The company has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along the 670-kilometre pipeline route, but the five Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs say no one can access the land without their consent.

The pipeline is part of the $40-billion LNG Canada project that will export Canadian natural gas to Asian markets.

Coastal GasLink shared photos Tuesday of what it says are more than 100 trees that have been felled across the logging road.

The RCMP said its officers came across the fallen trees on Monday as they were conducting regular safety patrols along the Morice West Forest Service Road. In a statement, the RCMP said some trees along the road are a safety hazard because they were partly cut and the wind could cause them to fall without warning.

Police say they also found three stacks of tires covered by tarps and trees, which contained several jugs of gasoline, diesel, oil, kindling and bags of fuel-soaked rags.

The RCMP say the hereditary chiefs were advised of what was found and have been told police are conducting a criminal investigation over traps that are likely to cause bodily harm.

“We want to emphasize that we are impartial in this dispute and our priority is to facilitate a dialogue between the various stakeholders involved,” the Mounties said. “We remain hopeful that these efforts will result in a resolution.”

At a news conference Tuesday, hereditary chief Na’moks called for construction to cease and for the B.C. government to revoke the company’s permits.

He said the Wet’suwet’en felled the trees to protect their own safety.

Members of the Gidimt’en, one of five Wet’suwet’en clans, and supporters reoccupied the area along the logging road in April near the site where the injunction was enforced last year.

Jen Wickham says her fellow members are concerned that it could be enforced before the 72 hours is up, since a previous injunction was already in place.

Lawyer Michael Lee Ross, who represents the Wet’suwet’en members named in the injunction, said once the new injunction order was stamped, the previous one became a historic document.

However, he said the RCMP could step in at any time if they find reason to.

Ross said his clients are discussing a possible appeal of the order.

“A challenge of an order is normally a challenge of the legal basis on which the order is grounded. So that is one of the avenues that is still open to them,” he said Wednesday.

Image result for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs held a press conference

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs held a press conference calling for construction to cease and for permits to be suspended on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Spokesman Na’moks says the First Nation won’t meet with industry representatives, only “decision makers” like the provincial and federal governments.

PLAY THE VIDEO


RELATED:

What the Wet’suwet’en case says about how Canadian courts address Indigenous law
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs demand meeting with B.C. and federal officials

Courts deny most First Nations injunctions


Indigenous leaders march on Jan. 8, 2019, in Vancouver, B.C. Rallies were held across Canada to show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en. Photo by Michael Ruffolo

But she was shocked after she and her fellow researchers began crunching numbers.

The team at Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led think tank, reviewed nearly 100 injunction cases. They found corporations succeeded in 76 per cent of injunctions filed against First Nations, while First Nations were denied in 81 per cent of injunctions against corporations.

Similarly, First Nations were denied in 82 per cent of injunctions filed against the government.

The findings were published in a Yellowhead report, called Land Back.

Infographic illustrating Yellowhead Institute’s findings in its report, Land Back. Provided by Yellowhead Institute.

“What we found was even more shocking than we could have imagined,” Pasternak said of what she called “astronomically high” numbers for corporations and governments and “absolutely dismal success” for First Nations.

A small team of researchers at Yellowhead pored through cases across the country, set research parameters (for example, they focused on First Nations instead of Inuit and Métis) and variables and had 10 people conduct a peer review on the methodology.

They concluded the data shows that the court system is skewed toward seeing value and harm in economic terms opposed to Indigenous people asserting their rights and their laws.

“It was a very weird feeling to discover that. On the one hand, I felt vindicated that we had spent so much time on it,” Pasternak said. “And on the other hand, within a moment, I felt so depressed just thinking about how this mechanism had so unlawfully removed people from protecting their own land.”

Michael Toledano@M_Tol

For those who can’t sleep tonight, my video on the RCMP raid on Gidumt’en territory: https://youtu.be/2oand_gk59o 

How an injunction works

Filing an injunction is a very expedited process — so there is not much time to present the courts with extensive or complex evidence.

A party may file an injunction one afternoon and have a hearing the next day, said Sean Sutherland, an associate at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in Calgary. The firm has represented Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, as well as renewable-energy companies and companies in other industries.

Injunctions are mostly done by affidavits and are meant to provide temporary relief in a matter of urgency. The party filing for the injunction must prove they cannot wait until a hearing for resolution.

Sutherland explained there are three tests in an injunction: whether it’s a serious issue; whether it may cause irreparable harm; and the “balance of convenience,” which means the court decides whether the party wanting the injunction or the party resisting faces the bigger risk of suffering harm.

He emphasized how the harm must be irreparable, and many injunctions are lost in court at that test.

“You can have very significant harm in terms of magnitude, but it’s still not irreparable,” he said, in which case the courts say the decision can wait for a final hearing. MORE

Chiefs Announce National Day of Action Against Canada’s Termination Agenda

Canada continues to ignore First Nations’ land and inherent rights by pretending to have support for it’s 1969 white paper policy and pretending that the AFN speaks for First Nations’ peoples. As Canada shovels money and promises to the AFN while squeezing Indigenous communities, the Trudeau government’s policy of deception provokes a National Day of Action.

Image result for Okimaw Henry LewisChiefs, activists vow to fight what they call Trudeau’s ‘White Paper 2.0’ plan

Okimaw Henry Lewis stated, “Canada must STOP hidden agendas with First Nations.”

Treaty No. 6, 7 and 8, MASKWACIS, AB, May 6, 2019 /CNW/ – The Chiefs of Sovereign and Treaty Nations have consistently told Canada, “Nations don’t make laws for other Nations”.  Despite numerous attempts to work with the Federal Government, Canada continues to unilaterally develop laws and policies without our right to free, prior and informed consent.  “As sovereign Nations, treaty and title holders, I refuse to allow Canada to continue on with its genocidal laws and polices that are deliberately created to destroy our Nations and peoples.  No outside government will tell me how to exercise my Nations international right to self-determination in our sovereign treaty territory,” stated Alexander First Nation, Chief Kurt Burnstick.

Although Minister Bennett announced last week that Canada would not proceed with replacing the land and inherent rights policies that threaten our rights, the Chiefs of Sovereign and Treaty Nations are announcing the launch of a National Day of Action in the coming weeks to stop Canada’songoing termination agenda.  “Canada has never stopped trying to implement their 1969 white paper policy which is meant to domesticate our international Treaties, turn us into municipalities and remove us from our lands.  We must stand in unity as Chiefs and peoples to fight off this agenda for our children and future generations,” stated Onion Lake Cree Nation Okimaw Henry Lewis.     MORE

Tŝilhqot’in’s ‘spiritual war’ to protect land, water, rights

Image result for Tŝilhqot'in’s ‘spiritual war’ to protect land, water, rights

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation, not unlike other Indigenous Nations across this young country known as Canada, often prioritize their own legal systems and values over colonial legal orders that in most cases were brutally enforced on sovereign nations.

For the Tŝilhqot’in, the most important laws, Chief Alphonse explained, have to do with the protection of water.

Through oral history, Chief Alphonse learned from a young age that other crimes, like stealing, perhaps wouldn’t have traditionally been considered such a big crime. There would be consequences, he said, but they wouldn’t be severe.

“But you come and do damage to the quality of water,” he said, his face suddenly serious, “or you damage the highest elevation spawning grounds in North America… You do damage to the quality of water, in some cases, that was considered one of the biggest crimes you could commit.

“You’re talking about our livelihood and our dependence on the sockeye run, you’re talking about the starvation of a whole nation. To maintain a healthy run you have to have clean water. Water is the most precious thing for our people.” MORE