People at Wet’suwet’en checkpoint await next wave of RCMP injunction enforcement

First wave of RCMP injunction enforcement resulted in 6 arrests early Thursday morning

On Thursday, the RCMP began its anticipated enforcement of an injunction against a blockade by the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters. People at the Gidimt’en checkpoint expect police to show up again soon. (Jesse Winter/VICE)

People staying at the Gidimt’en checkpoint in Wet’suwet’en territory don’t know when the RCMP will show up again, but they expect it will happen soon.

The checkpoint, located at the 44 kilometre mark of the Morice West Forest Service Road, is a gated occupation site where an unknown number of people are staying in defiance of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction order — opting to instead dig in and assert Wet’suwet’en law, at the direction of the nation’s hereditary chiefs.

Coastal Gaslink, a subsidiary of TC Energy, applied for the injunction in late 2018. On Dec. 31, 2019, the court ruled the company is fully permitted by the province to work on constructing a $6-billion, 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline from northeastern B.C. to the coast in Kitimat and granted an interlocutory injunction.

On Thursday, the RCMP began its anticipated enforcement of the injunction.

Six people were arrested Thursday morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. in an early morning police operation, with the RCMP announcing they were establishing an “exclusion zone” in the area.

The RCMP had established a checkpoint on the road on Jan. 13, citing safety concerns for restricting movement through the area.

But in announcing the exclusion zone on the morning of Feb. 6, the force said only police would be allowed to pass a specific point on the road while enforcement actions take place. RCMP said exceptions would be made for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and elected leaders at the discretion of a senior commander.

In a press release, the RCMP said the individuals were arrested for obstruction. Officers also removed journalists from the area, drawing condemnation from groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

The RCMP said members of the media, along with others, “were transferred out for safety reasons, but not arrested.”

In a video posted to a Wet’suwet’en Facebook page Thursday night, the six people who had been arrested stated they were released without charge.

‘Feeling the pressure’ at Gidimt’en checkpoint

Thursday morning’s arrests happened five kilometres away from where the Gidimt’en checkpoint stands, and people living there are now waiting for the next wave of enforcement.

Eve Saint, daughter of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Woos, is among those at Gidimt’en checkpoint.

She said police have moved quickly through the territory.

By Thursday afternoon, after the early morning arrests nearby, people in the camp could hear heavy machinery getting closer to them.

Six people were arrested Thursday morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. in an early morning police operation. (Jesse Winter/VICE)

“But we didn’t experience any breach as of yet so we’re kind of feeling the pressure tonight,” she said in an interview Thursday night.

Saint said the heavy machinery and RCMP made it within 100 metres of the checkpoint gate before stopping, then leaving.

Those at the checkpoint aren’t sure what to expect next, but Saint said people remained calm on Thursday night.

She made clear the group is unarmed and intends to remain peaceful through whatever happens next. But she also plans to stand firm where she is.

She said for her, this is a fight for her land’s sovereignty and Indigenous rights.

“The hereditary chiefs had this governance system before Canada was even Canada,” she said.

She wants to protect that governance system, along with their connection to the land and water in the territory.

Enforcement draws outrage, disappointment 

Initial enforcement actions on Thursday morning drew swift and widespread outrage from Indigenous leaders and First Nations across the country.

“We are in absolute outrage and a state of painful anguish as we witness the Wet’suwet’en people having their title and rights brutally trampled on and their right to self-determination denied,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said in the hours after the enforcement began.

There were also several solidarity demonstrations in urban centres.

Premier John Horgan spoke to reporters about the enforcement actions on Thursday, saying “certainly it’s not the outcome we had hoped for, or had been working toward.”

“We are continuing to be hopeful that there will be a peaceful resolution,” he said.

In an open letter posted on the Coastal GasLink website on Thursday, company president David Pfeiffer called the situation “disappointing.”

“This is not the outcome we wanted. We have made exceptional efforts to resolve this blockade through engagement and dialogue,” said Pfeiffer.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs spent much of Thursday on the forest service road while RCMP continued to move ahead in their enforcement actions.

In the view of Na’moks, one of the chiefs, the people who are standing in support of the nation on the territory “are doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. We’re protecting the land, the air, the water; our rights and title; our authority as hereditary chiefs. And we’re exercising our jurisdiction.”

Na’Moks, a hereditary chief with the Wet’suwet’en Nation who also goes by John Risdale, said there was no reason for police to remove supporters from the land. (Dan Mesec)

While the hereditary chiefs assert their authority, the RCMP continue to assert theirs. And those at the Gidimt’en checkpoint will likely be next to encounter the police.

Given their isolated location on the forest service road, there is nowhere for the group to retreat to.

Beyond that checkpoint is the last of the Wet’suwet’en re-occupation sites on the road: the Unistot’en healing village. People from the nation have been operating a checkpoint at that site since 2009, asserting nobody is allowed through without the consent of the hereditary chiefs.  SOURCE

RELATED:

 Wet’suwet’en Strong: SUPPORTER TOOLKIT

 

TAKE ACTION! Reject Teck

One of the largest oil sands projects you’ve never heard of could  break ground in the New Year.

Image result for green party of canada: One of the largest oil sands projects you’ve never heard of could break ground in the New Year.

It’s called Teck Frontier Mine, and it will destroy old-growth forest, pollute precious watersheds and make it impossible to meet our climate targets.

Sounds terrible. So why haven’t you heard about it? Because the oil executives want it that way so they can continue to make billions while offering precarious employment and destroying the environment.

Paul Manly, Green MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, is hard at work to stop this mine before it’s too late. The Environment Minister will make his decision in February. Can you send your own letter to to convince the Liberals to Reject Teck?

Not only will this project destroy precious ecosystems vital to endangered caribou and bison, but it will release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and make it impossible for Canada to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Climate leaders don’t expand the oil sands in the middle of a climate crisis. Send your letter to the Environment Minister today and deliver a clear message that Canadians expect bold climate action. If enough of us raise our voices, we can get the Liberals to block this reckless proposal.

Send this letter to

Dear Jonathan Wilkinson,

I’m writing to you today to ask you to reject Teck Frontier Mine.

This oil sands mega-mine will push Canada’s carbon emissions to a point of no return. It will release six megatons of C02 per year and prop up a dying fossil fuel industry.

If built, it will violate Indigenous rights, destroy old-growth forest, pollute precious watersheds and destroy the habitats of endangered caribou and bison.

In this year’s election, an overwhelming majority of Canadians voted for climate action. Yet Canada continues to expand the oil sands.

We cannot be climate leaders and build the Teck Frontier mine.

Please reject this project.


 SEND THIS LETTER TODAY


RELATED:

Trudeau and His North Van Climate Minister Are ‘Wrestling’ with a Massive Oilsands Decision

Teck’s Frontier mine would kill emissions targets, say analysts.

Meet the young Indigenous organizers working to bring together ceremony and activism in Alberta

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Veronica Fuentes, a 20-year-old organizer with the Beaver Hills Warriors, says it’s important for Indigenous activists to “recenter the narrative and take hold of the narrative” when it comes to advocacy on land and climate issues. Photo: Abdul Malik / The Narwhal

For Indigenous activists in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), a change in government doesn’t necessarily mean a change in tactics.

When Alberta premier Jason Kenney was elected in April, many local activists kicked into high gear.

A public inquiry into the funding of environmental groups, a war room, scrapping the carbon tax — all of these policies seemed to many activists to be an onslaught of worrying government policies.

But for Edmonton organizer Veronica Fuentes, it seemed a bit like more of the same.

Fuentes, whose father is Salvadoran and whose mother is from the Yellow Quill First Nation in Saskatchewan and a survivor of the sixties scoop, is an organizer in early her early twenties who is part of an Edmonton group called the Beaver Hills Warriors.

The colonial violence inflicted on her family members by past governments is part of the reason, she tells me, that she doesn’t feel all that different under Jason Kenney.

“That’s the difference when it’s Indigenous-led organizing,” she says. “The faith you have in your government is already skewed.”

When I meet Fuentes, she’s just handed in her last assignment for her second year in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.

In addition to her studies, she works a number of jobs and spends as much time as she can organizing with the Beaver Hills Warriors, an Indigenous youth collective that advocates for Indigenous rights.

She focuses her energy on Indigenous-led activism — for her, that’s activism that centres ceremony, self-care and community building.

She also believes engaging in electoral politics has its place. “We’re all well aware of it, we follow it, we all just sit in our seats just, like, facepalming,” she says. She believes centring Indigenous ceremony and building relationships among Indigenous people is also powerful — if not more so.

“That’s not to say we don’t understand the significance of engaging in electoral politics, but a lot of us don’t feel safe in those spaces,” she tells me.

“The reality for my community in El Salvador and in Saskatchewan — [my family is] from the Yellow Quill First Nation — is very, very different from the reality that’s centred in white climate justice,” Fuentes, who identifies as Anishinaabekwe tied to Treaty 4, says.

“A group of Indigenous folk took note of that and wanted to recenter the narrative and take hold of the narrative.”

The Beaver Hills Warriors was born out of this Indigenous-led movement in activism and community organizing.

‘It’s all interconnected’

Nigel Robinson, another member of the Beaver Hills Warriors, was 24 when he first took out a weathered copy of “The Fourth World: An Indian Reality,” by George Manuel from the Edmonton Public Library. “I read the first 70 pages of that and it blew my mind,” he says.

For Robinson, those pages put words to feelings he had not seen in print before. He remembers reading about how “the common perception that Indigenous people are inherently inferior … and that the colonizer uplifted us,” and it struck him that there must be a persistent belief in inferiority in order for a society to dispossess Indigenous people of their land.

Indigenous activism Alberta climate justice

Nigel Robinson is a member of the Łuéchogh Túé First Nation near what is now called Cold Lake, Alta. In his lifetime, he’s already seen changes in the lake, which has been part of his motivation to advocate for climate justice. Photo: Abdul Malik / The Narwhal

Robinson had been thinking a lot about the larger forces at play in society since his father’s death in 2010, at the age of 48, when Robinson was still a teenager. He says he heard terrible sentiments at the time, with people saying, “he’s just an Indian.”

Robinson says that was when he “started to think critically” about some of the issues he saw in his community. He began to realize they were “methods of dispossession.” He says residential schools and “imposed alcoholism,” both at play in his father’s death, were tools of colonialism.

“It’s all interconnected,” he says.

Robinson’s family has a history of advocacy. He says his uncle was of particular inspiration to him, and was a mentor until his death earlier this year.

He’s been asked to present to local high school classes and prefers to steer presentations away from what he calls “tokenizing” performances, toward discussions about modern, nuanced Indigenous life.

When we meet, he’s on contract with the Blue Quills language program, and is passionate about the importance of Indigenous languages. He’s working toward fluency in Dene and Cree. “Indigenous languages are the first languages the land has given us,” he says.

And he’s a mainstay at Beaver Hills Warriors events.

Indigenous activism Alberta Greta Thunberg

Nigel Robinson on the megaphone at an October climate rally in Edmonton — in which Indigenous activists led the march — joined by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Photo: Sharon J. Riley / The Narwhal

‘Life-sustaining nature to our worldviews’

Robinson is a member of the Łuéchogh Túé First Nation near what is now called Cold Lake, Alta.

He never drank the water from Cold Lake, but his grandparents did. He grew up swimming in the waters, but that’s now discouraged too.

“The lake is easily impacted,” Robinson says, and his own observations of its changes were part of what led him to his work advocating for climate action. (Robinson recently attended the climate summit in Madrid.)

Robinson has been very involved in the group’s recent actions to push for the federal government to reject proposals for Teck Resource’s Frontier Mine project —  a massive new oilsands mine proposed in northern Alberta.

Indigenous climate justice Madrid

Robinson (centre) at a Reject Teck rally at the climate summit in Madrid. Photo: Allan Lissner / Indigenous Climate Action.

climate justice Indigenous Madric Frontier mine

Indigenous activists have called on the federal government to reject Teck Resources’ Frontier oilsands mine project in Northern Alberta. Photo: Allan Lissner / Indigenous Climate Action.

There’s a “life sustaining nature to our worldviews,” Fuentes says. “And I think that’s something we can teach the Western world something about.”

This is something Fuentes is conscious of — and conscious of who is centring the narrative.

“Energy solutions without free, prior, informed consent of Indigenous communities — this replicates colonialism, which I think is something that we that we have to be constantly pushing [back against],” she says.

That’s part of why the “Reject Teck” campaign has been conscious of amplifying Indigenous voices.

Indigenous activism Alberta climate change

There’s a “life sustaining nature to our worldviews,” Fuentes says. “And I think that’s something we can teach the Western world something about.” Photo: Abdul Malik / The Narwhal

Indigenous activism Alberta justice colonization

Robinson first read George Manuel when he was 24. He remembers how it struck him that there must be a persistent belief in inferiority in order for a society to dispossess Indigenous people of their land. Photo: Abdul Malik / The Narwhal

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‘Unfairly paints us as militant natives’

Fuentes is concerned with the way Indigenous activism is often portrayed in the media. “It unfairly paints us as militant natives,” she says. “And that’s exactly what makes us unsafe.”

One of the first actions Fuentes remembers with the Beaver Hills Warriors was anything but militant.

“We occupied 104th and Jasper [in downtown Edmonton] for about 45 minutes with a round dance,” she remembers. The action was in “solidarity with the Gidimt’en check point raid and the Wet’suwet’en at Unist’ot’en Camp.”

“We’d like to move f

Talking about the “Indigenous vote” won’t end Canada’s fraught relationship with First Nations.

Emily Riddle: Here we are in 2019 and the discourse in this election around the ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship has been very different.Emily Riddle: Here we are in 2019 and the discourse in this election around the ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship has been very different. Photo by Conor McNally.

Tan’isi. My name is Emily Riddle. I’m nehiyaw from Treaty 6 with a few things to say about the federal election. Welcome to The Run.

There are opportunities when settlers elect a government that chooses to provide funding for services, such as health and education, negotiated in treaties.

But don’t assume the outcome of federal elections will provide major gains for Indigenous peoples.

Settler law made in the House of Commons affects our lives, and the actions taken (or not taken) by the next federal government will have serious implications for our inherent and treaty rights.

I’ve worked in First Nations policy and studied Indigenous governance for the past 10 years. I’ve seen the shift from aggressive anti-Indigenous legislation and policy under the Harper government, which gave rise to resistance through groups like Idle No More, to perhaps a more gentle erosion of inherent and treaty rights under the Trudeau government, along with some meagre increased funding for education, health and infrastructure.

I recently moved from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories back to my home territories in Treaty 6. The conversations around the election in Alberta are very different than those in British Columbia.

Many suspect that Alberta will go entirely Conservative. In some ridings, including Sturgeon County-Parkland, where my First Nation finds itself, the riding has historically been solidly Conservative. With the provincial United Conservative Party budget coming on Oct. 24, many First Nations people in Alberta are bracing themselves for possible cuts to Indigenous services and programs at both the provincial and federal levels (should Conservative leader Andrew Scheer form a government).

I pay close attention to federal elections, party platforms and bills tabled in the House of Commons. But I don’t vote in federal elections. I view not voting as a small political dignity I’m able to maintain as a Treaty 6 person whose people have never given up the right to govern ourselves and our territories.

Voting has historically been connected to the “enfranchisement” of First Nations people. When a First Nations person was enfranchised, they ceased being able to access any inherent and treaty rights and were “welcomed” to Canada as a full citizen.

But if our first experience with Trudeau taught us anything, it’s that First Nations people are at least “Citizens Plus” — we have additional rights as Indigenous people that go beyond our rights as Canadian citizens.

Many Indigenous people see voting differently, with some thinking of it as a harm-reduction technique. Others choose to vote as proud Canadians or dual-citizens of their Indigenous nation and Canada.

However, there are only 12 ridings in Canada where Indigenous people make up 20 to 50 per cent of the population and have a significant impact on who will be elected. Considering we used to be 100 per cent of the population and govern ourselves, showing up to the polls seems like a very small political act.

We can’t ignore the fact that a Conservative federal government likely means increased Indigenous death. Cutting essential services, which conservative governments often do, is a form of state violence, and we know that Indigenous peoples often lack access to basic needs such as clean drinking water and health care.

Unsurprisingly to any First Nations person from Alberta, Justin Trudeau inherited a few things from his father, including some of the logic of the proposed Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework from the 1969 Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy. Groups such as Idle No More, Defenders of the Land and Truth Campaign Networks asserted that the framework sought to convert Indigenous nations into an ethnic minority within Canada, devoid of rights as nations.

So here we are in 2019, and the discourse in this election around the “nation-to-nation” relationship has been very different. Trudeau is certainly not talking about “Canada’s most important relationship” like he did in 2015 or at the beginning of his term as prime minister.

In fact, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada are the only ones who have revealed their platform positions on Indigenous issues. Both contain significant promises to work towards mending the relationship with Indigenous peoples, including increased spending on health and wellness, child welfare and education. It’s important to remember that we only make up a significant population in 12 federal ridings, so these promises are still directed at settler voters.

To the settlers who show up to vote with their relationship with Indigenous peoples and our territories in mind, please know that your responsibilities extend beyond that small act. If you live in an area with a treaty, learn your rights and responsibilities under that agreement. If you live in an unceded area, learn about and support the nations whose territory you occupy.

Rather than voting, my responsibility is to continue to advocate for the return of our territories from Canada and the renewal of our own governance systems, as I have argued elsewhere.

No matter what prime minister Canadians elect on Oct. 21, the relationship with Indigenous peoples will be fraught as long as Canada continues to claim sole sovereignty over our territories. SOURCE

Scheer says he’d fast-track pipeline challenges straight to Supreme Court

Conservative leader proposes circumventing lower court appeals ‘so that we can get certainty’ on projects


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer listens to questions during a campaign event in Ottawa on Sept. 14. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A Conservative government would overcome legal objections to building new petroleum pipelines by fast-tracking any cases right to the Supreme Court of Canada, party leader Andrew Scheer says.

Scheer and other Conservatives have for years said Ottawa has to “assert federal jurisdiction” to get important projects built, but he has not until now explained what that would mean in practice.

At a campaign stop Wednesday, Scheer was pushed on comments he made in recent days about asserting jurisdiction in the face of objections from Indigenous communities or provincial governments, including Quebec.

“It’s about fast-tracking some of the questions that have been raised by people who oppose the project,” he said.

“Fast-tracking those cases to the Supreme Court — referring those types of jurisdictional questions to the Supreme Court right away so that we can get certainty, instead of watching these court cases move slowly up and up, being appealed. We would have taken that directly to get finality on those decisions.”


Construction at the Trans Mountain tank farm in Burnaby, B.C., in June 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The inability to get pipelines built has become a major source of frustration and anger in Alberta, where politicians from all parties believe other jurisdictions and communities are deliberately landlocking Alberta oil, harming its economy.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in particular, has been hit by court challenges from provincial and municipal governments, Indigenous communities and environmental groups.

Indigenous communities and environmental groups challenged federal approval of the expansion and won in a federal Court of Appeal case. After the federal government re-did consultations and approved the project again last spring, the same groups filed new objections. The court has agreed to hear Indigenous complaints, but rejected those brought by others.

Those cases could eventually make their way to the Supreme Court.


Construction at the Trans Mountain tank farm in Burnaby, B.C., in June 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Supreme Court is expected to hear an appeal early next year from the British Columbia government of a B.C. Court of Appeal opinion that the province couldn’t restrict what flows through the pipeline, which is considered federal jurisdiction because it crosses provincial borders.

The B.C. case was seen as the final nail in the coffin for former pipeline owner Kinder Morgan’s plans to proceed with the project.  MORE
RELATED:

Top 5 Reasons the Green New Deal is Workable, Winnable and the Idea We Need Right Now.


This text is an edited excerpt from a speech given by Avi Lewis on the Leap’s “Green New Deal for All”  tour in June 2019.

1.The Green New Deal Will Be a Massive Job Creator, Swell the Ranks of Unions, and Increase Workers Rights For All, Especially The Most Vulnerable.

We know that investments in renewable energy and efficiency create many more jobs than investments in fossil fuels. 5 times more, per unit of electricity generated, according to one UK study.1 But that only scratches the surface of the transformation required to cut our emissions at least in half in a decade. When you start thinking about the rest of the low-carbon economy: health care, education, local agriculture, land and water defense, and other forms of care work, the job creation potential is far greater.

Imagine the job-creation from the range of programs in a real Green New Deal:

  • retrofitting every building in Canada in a decade,
  • building hundreds of thousands of new units of public and non-market housing
  • planting hundreds of millions of trees
  • building free electrified mass transit in every community
  • Universal daycare, rebuilding our education system with thousands of new teachers

These measures will create more than a million jobs – and even more when we include a federal jobs guarantee with at least a 15 dollar minimum wage, decent benefits, holidays and pensions.

And while we’re embarking on the greatest job creation program in our history, why would we not simply make it a goal to double the unionization rate in Canada, extending collective bargaining rights and protections to those millions of workers?

So, when people tell you that the GND will hurt workers, set them straight – tell them that the Green New Deal is a job program of epic proportions. A tool to fight for working people across this land that will leave no worker behind.

 2. Ignoring the Climate Crisis will Bankrupt us — But The Green New Deal is Our Chance to Create a Much Fairer Economy Than We Have Right Now

The economic damages of allowing global temperatures to rise by 2°C would hit $69 trillion globally.2 And we are currently headed for twice that level of warming, at least.

For too long, we have had climate policies that dumped the burden of paying for transition on working people while letting big polluters off the hook entirely. Moving forward, fairness in climate financing must be non-negotiable – and that means the polluters have to pay.

It’s not hard to figure out who we’re talking about here: the “Carbon Majors” – the 100 corporate and state fossil fuel giants responsible for  a whopping 71 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Also, the richest 10 percent of the world’s population, who produce almost half of all global emissions today.

Any climate policies that are going to be backlash-proof have to reflect that reality.  We can increase royalties on extraction. We can slash absurd fossil fuel subsidies. And we can sue for climate damages.

But it’s not just fossil fuel companies that are failing in their obligations to the rest of society.

If Canada’s top 100 corporations just paid their damn taxes at the legislated rate, we’d have an extra 10 Billion dollars in public revenue – each and every year.3

And then there’s an even higher annual amount that Canadian corporations are stashing in tax havens. More than $1.6 trillion dollars left Canada for offshore financial centers last year. If only 10% of that sum was offshored in order to dodge taxes, cracking down would generate $25 Billion a year. That’s a helluva down payment on a Green New Deal, and would begin to tackle inequality head-on. The Green New Deal is our opportunity to address structural inequality and tackle the climate crisis at the same time.

We can afford a Green New Deal, as long as we have the courage to do what so many political parties in this country refuse to do, which is to go where the money is, and get it back.

3.This is our chance to defend life on earth and Indigenous land rights at the same time.

MORE

Romeo Saganash: Final Statement on C262 Not Becoming Law

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NDP MP Romeo Saganash stands during question period in the House of Commons on Sept. 25, 2018.

Final Statement on C262 Not Becoming Law

In 2011, I set myself the task of advancing Indigenous rights, as defined by knowledge keepers and elders, into Canadian politics. I introduced a bill, now known as C-262, in two separate parliaments, under different Prime Ministers, and worked with the hundreds of people elected to represent Canadians. Over the past two parliamentary mandates I have been given, I have worked diligently to promote human rights and Indigenous values not just in bill C- 262 but in every piece of legislation that passed my desk.

After travelling to speak about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with people in community centres, auditoriums, on picnic tables in baseball parks and in art galleries, people from coast to coast to coast have become champions of justice. Millions of people have had a conversation about Indigenous rights, what they mean, and how they will bring us forward into a beautiful new future.

I am devastated and regret that my bill, that so many people have worked so hard to promote and educate on, will not become law.  Nonetheless, I have been inspired and reassured by the broad representation from civil society in the support for this bill: churches, labour unions, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, Indigenous leadership and grassroots that have made it possible to get to the recognition and respect that we see today.

I do know that we have made tremendous advances in human rights by getting this far in the legislative process. It is rare for non-governmental bills to pass through the House of Commons and to get as far in the Senate as it did. This is an indication of how important bill C-262 is, of how much has changed, and of the general willingness of everyone to move towards a new future together. We cannot go back to how things were before. New understandings of human rights and what they mean and who they include means that society is can only get better because of the work that we have done.

The struggle for human rights is a long one; it takes us away from our families and loved ones; we work too many hours, we sacrifice our health and spirit. Yet our ancestors took a path before me, one that is for dignity, justice and a good life.  Others have not only followed the path but imagined new possibilities. I am grateful for the sacrifices they also have made in the belief that Indigenous law, rights, and ways of being will be one day be restored to these territories. I am honoured to follow in their work, and I dedicate any accomplishments I have made to my family.

I want to thank the countless people who have worked so hard with their whole body, heart, mind and spirit because they believe in the values listed in the Declaration. I remain strongly convinced of the potential for the UN Declaration to be the framework for reconciliation; as a set of standards created by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples, and as a reminder to nation-states like Canada, that we are still here, and we not only deserve but we demand the rights that have been denied us for so long.

There are and always have been obvious flaws in a governing system that is designed to maintain a status quo and deny rights to people who power rejects. The process of bringing C262 along the legislative path has highlighted this for me and I believe there are many parts in this struggle and many people lead; its not enough to create legislation that holds the colonial governments accountable to International human rights standards and to Indigenous ways of being; it will take structural and institutional change in order to see justice on stolen lands. Let us rise with more energy. Let us stand with a greater determination. On behalf of the millions who are building resistance and beauty in our communities: our spirit is not broken.

RELATED:

Romeo Saganash: Trudeau ‘Doesn’t Give A F**k’ About Indigenous Rights

 

Elizabeth May: Solving the climate crisis is ‘Mission Possible’

Clearly we need an Ecocide Law to hold corrupt politicians accountable for criminal acts endangering the planet.


File photograph of Elizabeth May by Alex Tétreault

On Monday night, June 17th, the Parliament of Canada held a last few hours of debate on the Liberal motion that Canada accepts that we are in a climate emergency. The original motion had been tabled on May 16th. As Minister Catherine McKenna spoke in the chamber that day, I launched the Green response to the national clamour for a Green New Deal. Paul Manly (Green MP from Nanaimo-Ladysmith) and I launched Mission: Possible, calling for the complete elimination of fossil fuel use by 2050, slashing dependency by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

We can see no other way for Canada to pull our fair share of the weight to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change imperative that we must adhere to our Paris Agreement goal of holding global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees C.

Failing to meet that target, even allowing the global average temperature increase to reach 2 degrees C, will create unacceptably high risks that we will pass a point of no return. Human civilization and the extinction of millions of species requires that we take the climate emergency seriously.

It will not be easy, but we know it is possible.

The May 16th climate emergency debate was adjourned. It did not surface on our agenda again until the night of June 17th, with a time limited opportunity to consider the matter.

I addressed a nearly empty chamber.

All the other leaders were in Toronto for the Raptors Rally. That is not something I would criticize. The national Raptors reverie has been good for our spirits. We want to celebrate.

But why did the government pick that night for debate?

And, much, much worse, after passing a motion that we are in a climate emergency, why did they – the very next day – commit billions of federal public dollars to build a pipeline?

That pipeline will violate indigenous rights, threaten every waterway it crosses, the Salish Sea through which tankers will navigate and, at the same, time increase our climate warming emissions. It is reckless.

Worse, given the scale of the threat of climate breakdown, it borders on the criminal. MORE

Protecting water in a post-capitalist economy

This posting is part 3 of a series on the role of water justice movements in a post-capitalist economy. (Read blogs one and two.) Emma Lui writes, “We can learn from communities in JacksonvilleNew York, South America, and globally that have begun the inspiring work of transitioning to the next economy.”

"Capitalism Isn't Working" Photo: Jonny White/Flickr
Emma Lui is an activist, a writer and a contributor to the book, Corporatizing Canada: Making Business out of Public Service.Photo: Jonny White/Flickr

If we think about where power is manufactured and deployed, it is helpful to think about actual sites of struggles.

Some examples include:

  • Creation of legislation: House of Commons, Standing Committees or Senate Committees, public consultations.
  • Government departments: National Energy Board, Ontario’s Ministry of Environment
  • Courts and legal challenges
  • The physical location of projects: Nestle’s bottled water plants, along a pipeline route
  • Government or corporate spaces: shareholders meetings, LNG event at Canada 2020
  • Educational institutions: classrooms (Big Oil influencing what students learn at school), museums, university campuses
  • “Public debate” in traditional media, social media

Examples of communities contesting power include Climate Strike rallies on Parliament Hill, legal challenges against the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Tiny House Warriors with their mission to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory, as well as creative actions at the Canada 2020 LNG event and at Catherine McKenna’s recent town hall.

It is also helpful to think about other areas where neoliberalism and capitalism, broadly, are strengthened, reinforced, and advanced:

  • Collective consciousness and how a society understands and talks about an issue, e.g. the federal government frames pipelines as a matter of national security rather than a threat to clean water.
  • Within ourselves (our goals, the work we do, the beliefs we have), within our relationships and families (the roles we play, what work is paid and unpaid) and within our communities (how we relate to one another).
  • Consumer and business relationships: where we shop, what is considered a good for sale, what we buy and if we buy.

It is important to think about and contest power structures at these sites and areas in order to advance water justice, climate justice, social justice, Indigenous rights, and human rights more generally.

At the same time, we need to be working to create the next economic system.

Writer and activist Rev. angel Kyodo williams points out, “…why has our imagination been stolen by capitalism in such a way that we can’t even imagine a different possibility for different economies and different ways of trading and being in relationship to one another?”

Activist and PBI-Canada’s Executive Director Brent Patterson notes that anti-capitalism is entering the mainstream — see recent comments by George Monbiot on BBCNaomi Klein on Twitter and Phil McDuff’s article “Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism” in the Guardian.

This creates opportunities to imagine and explore ideas — some that have long been discussed and debated as well as new ones — for the next economic system. MORE

‘The Wet’suwet’en Need to Lead This. That’s All There Is to It’

NDP MP Romeo Saganash is behind a private member’s bill that aims to clarify the federal government’s role in ensuring Indigenous human rights. The bill has already made it through the House of Commons. If it passes a second reading in the Senate, Bill C-262 will head to a committee, before a final vote in the Senate would make it law. The push is on now because there’s a short window to get the law passed before the fall federal election. Demand action!

Today, Chief Na’Moks briefs the UN on Canada’s Indigenous rights progress. He’s well prepared.

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Chief Na’Moks at the Gidumt’en checkpoint, December 2018. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Three years ago, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’Moks stood in full regalia before the United Nations in New York City. He propped his cellphone in front of him, took a deep breath and began to speak.

“They thought I was reading a speech. I was looking at a picture of that mountain,” he says, gesturing toward Hudson Bay Mountain, the glaciated peak that presides over Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest British Columbia. “That’s all I had in front of me. You’ve got to speak from the heart.”

It was May 2016, the day after Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada would remove its objector status to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which had been accepted nearly a decade earlier by the UN General Assembly.

Na’Moks, whose English name is John Ridsdale, was there to make a promise to the UN: That he would return one year later to provide a full report on Canada’s progress implementing the declaration.

Today, Na’Moks addresses the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, his second update to the UN since that first visit.

Again, he’ll prop his phone before him, but this time he’ll be reading from notes. It’s important he stick to the talking points — in particular, those addressing Article 10 of UNDRIP, the section that deals with forcible removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands.

“Nothing’s really changed from the time that they accepted it,” he says about Canada’s promise to implement UNDRIP. “They’ve really not done anything.”

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Heavily armed RCMP officers arrived Monday to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking a natural gas pipeline. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Na’Moks, the highest-ranking chief of the Tsayu clan, stood and watched with chiefs of three other Wet’suwet’en clans on Jan. 7 as RCMP carrying automatic weapons forcefully removed a checkpoint put in place by the Gidumt’en clan to prevent Coastal GasLink pipeline workers from accessing the territory. MORE

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