2019 is the year young people rise for climate justice


Photo Credit: Allan Lissner

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

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

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

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

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

Education in the Reconciliation Era

Reconciliation has become a touchstone in this country. Leaders, elders, politicians, artists, and activists point to it as critical for the future relationship between Canada and Indigenous people. And yet, for many Canadians – including new Canadians – what they should do, or know, or understand, often remains unclear. The Agenda discusses how Canada’s less tolerant track record can be presented to foster understanding.

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What is reconciliation? Indigenous educators have their say

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Is hanging Indigenous art in an office “reconciliation?” In this web series called “First Things First,” Indigenous experts take a look at what it really means to reconcile after generations of systemic racism against Indigenous peoples.
TVO: Aired: Apr 05, 2019

‘He’s toast’: B.C. Indigenous leader slams Trudeau for booting Wilson-Raybould from caucus

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/5124908/
WATCH: Wilson-Raybould and Philpott booted from Liberal caucus

A prominent B.C. Indigenous leader is not mincing words when it comes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expulsion of Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus.

“He’s toast, absolutely toast,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“Once again Mr. Trudeau has demonstrated his arrogance and did absolutely the worst thing he could possibly do. There’s going to be an enormous backlash across the country in terms of Indigenous people,” Phillip said.

“I think it’s pretty much the death knell of reconciliation. I think it’s dead in the water.”

On the west coast, where the Liberals currently hold a historic 18 seats, political scientist David Moscrop said Tuesday’s drama could have an impact come election time, though he said things could still shift with months to go before the election.

Moscrop pointed to approximately 70 ridings across Canada that were won by five per cent or less in 2015, nine of which are in B.C.

“The Liberals were bolstered by a growth in youth turnout and Indigenous turnout that went to work for them. Those are going to be hard to recapture this time around.”  MORE

RELATED:

First Nations leaders condemn Wilson-Raybould’s removal from caucus
‘This situation is only going to deepen’: Wilson-Raybould warned of Indigenous anger if dumped from AG role

British Columbia Court of Appeal Reaffirms Duty to Consult not a Duty to Agree

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In a unanimous decision, William v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2019 BCCA 74, the British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed that a proposed exploratory drilling program associated with the New Prosperity Mine could proceed after its approval by the Provincial government was found to be reasonable.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court commented that not accepting the position of an Indigenous group who holds an honest belief that a project should not proceed does not mean that the process of consultation is necessarily inadequate or that the Crown did not act honourably in reaching a decision.

Sometimes parties are unable to resolve their differences and work towards reconciliation because of fundamental disagreements. MORE

Ottawa gets sealing order on court document that undercuts ‘reconciliation agenda,’ says NDP MP

Case addressed reopening of residential school abuse compensation cases if new evidence surfaces


NDP MP Charlie Angus rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday February 21, 2019 in Ottawa.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

A British Columbia judge has sealed a document filed by Ottawa in a court case over the residential school compensation process that an NDP MP says would ‘blow apart’ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown issued an order on March 6 sealing a “request for direction (RFD)” filed by Ottawa laying out their legal arguments against the reopening of residential school abuse compensation cases if new evidence surfaced.

Ottawa asked for the document to be sealed.

Sealed court documents are not available to the public. Sealing orders are generally seen in civil cases on matters involving national security or specific types of commercial information. They are also commonly used during criminal investigations for wiretap, search warrants and production orders.  MORE

Trudeau cloaks continued attack on First Nations sovereignty with charm

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Province, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs announce reconciliation

A potlatch feast will be held in March by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss with clans.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs lead a march in mid-January down Smithers Main Street in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline. (Chris Gareau photo)

Work on reconciliation is moving ahead between the Province and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

A media release late Thursday afternoon reads that a bahtlats (potlatch or feast) will be hosted by the hereditary chiefs in March to share information and initiate discussion with the Wet’suwet’en clans and house groups.

The ultimate goal is for B.C. to affirm Wet’suwet’en rights and title.

While the release stresses the effort is not about any one project, it comes as legal action against and resistance to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline is still in full force, with the company moving forward on construction of a work camp south of Houston and the Unist’ot’en camp of the Wet’suwet’en Dark House accusing the company of activity going beyond an interim injunction and agreement with the RCMP. MORE

Inuit leader says Trudeau government’s new language bill imposes a ‘colonial’ system

File photo of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed in November 2017 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

The national Inuit organization in Canada says the Trudeau government’s new Indigenous languages bill has failed to address Inuit rights.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) expressed “disappointment” Tuesday in Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s new legislation, Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, calling it a “symbolic gesture.”

The statement has put ITK at odds with both Ottawa and another major Indigenous organization, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the bill and said it “deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.”

Inuit Express Disappointment With National Indigenous Languages Bill

Inuit express disappointment with national Indigenous languages bill and lament the missed opportunity to end discriminatory language policies in Canada

February 5, 2019, Ottawa, ON – The national indigenous languages bill that was introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons today is a symbolic gesture that does not address Inuit rights to speak our language, nor does it include provisions that are necessary to support its revitalization, maintenance, and promotion.

“Despite being characterized as a reconciliation and co-development initiative, the Government of Canada engaged Inuit in bad faith throughout this legislative initiative,” said Natan Obed, president of ITK. “The absence of any Inuit-specific content suggests this bill is yet another legislative initiative developed behind closed doors by a colonial system and then imposed on Inuit.”

Eighty four percent of Inuit within the 51 communities that make up Inuit Nunangat report the ability to speak our language – Inuktut – making it the most resilient indigenous language spoken in Canada. Inuktut has official language status in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and is an official language of the Nunatsiavut Government, whose jurisdiction encompasses northern Labrador.

ITK initially welcomed this legislative initiative when it was launched in July 2017 as an opportunity to build on existing rights for Inuktut and to close the longstanding legislative gap that enables continued discrimination against Inuktut speakers.

“Our efforts to revitalize, maintain, and promote Inuktut are often blunted by inequitable federal funding policies that task us with doing much more with far fewer resources than what French and English speakers receive,” said Natan Obed. “At the same time, our people do not have the right to access federal services in Inuktut, relegating it to a status beneath English and French,” he said. MORE

A rift over indigenous representation in Canada is creating winners and losers


Protesters arrive in support of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation in Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press, via AP)

Canadian governments tend to talk to the indigenous governments recognized by the Indian Act, which, since 1876, has required any “body of Indians” holding claim or trust to organize themselves through elected councils. Though politicians claim to find the Victorian paternalism of the Indian Act distasteful, the notion that aboriginal governments should conduct themselves democratically seemed among its least contentious provisions. Yet a recent jurisdictional struggle highlights the degree to which even that assumption can no longer be taken for granted.

The council of the Wet’suwet’en Nation has authorized construction of a natural gas pipeline through their claimed territory, but the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have not. Forces loyal to the chiefs set up blockades and earlier this month mobilized outrage among indigenous Canadians and the Canadian left. The notion that elected aboriginal councils are colonial impositions at odds with “traditional governance structures” like hereditary monarchies has burst into the mainstream. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who theoretically backs natural resource development but also vows to make aboriginal “reconciliation” the hallmark of his tenure, has conceded to indigenous nations that “it’s not for the federal government to decide who speaks for you.”

Yet if the federal and provincial governments (to say nothing of private industry) are going to have any useful relationship with the true owners of British Columbia, at some point someone, somewhere, has to give the question of “who speaks for the aboriginals” a definitive answer. In some corners, even framing the question elicits offense. Canada’s First Nations are collectivist and egalitarian, they say, meaning community consent may emerge slowly, through gradual consensus between leaders and people. MORE