It started out as a normal morning for Jordan Manda, but it turned out to be his last. The 11-year-old son of anti-mining activist Timuay Lucenio Manda perished when gunmen ambushed the car as the Subanen tribal chieftain drove the child to school. Lucenio Manda, was wounded in the attack in the southern Philippines, Amnesty International Philippines said in a statement. “The killing of Jordan Manda, groomed to be a next Timuay, is a painful reminder that Indigenous Peoples are not protected,” said Dr. Aurora Parong, director of Amnesty International Philippines, in the statement. “Timuay Manda’s care for the Subanen’s ancestral domain and his position for a moratorium on mining concessions in Bayog might have led to the attack on him and his son. The killing of Jordan Manda and wounding of Timuay Lucenio Manda must be rigorously investigated so that the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice.” Several environmentalists have been targeted of late, the human rights organization said. Human Rights Watch in New York has made similar statements, alleging in July that it had documented three cases in the past year in which people who criticized mining and energy projects had been killed, “allegedly by paramilitary forces under military control,” the New York–based group said in a statement on July 18. “The activists had been vocal in opposing mining and energy operations which they said threatened the environment and would displace tribal communities from their land,” the group said. Parong called upon the government of President Benigno Aquino III’s government to investigate the shooting and hold the perpetrators accountable. “Amnesty International supports Timuay Manda in calling for justice for his son and his people,” said Parong in Amnesty’s statement. “He is highly involved in efforts against the destruction of their ancestral lands by logging and mining and has been working for the cooperation among Subanens in the Central Zamboanga Peninsula to protect their remaining contiguous ancestral domain. Together with other concerned groups, he joined the filing of a petition for the Writ of Kalikasan to protect the Pinukis Range Forest, among the last untouched forest region in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is unfortunately included in the mining claims of several companies. Mt. Pinukis is considered by the Subanen people of Zamboanga Peninsula as among their Sacred Mountains.”Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comPe’ Sla Purchase: Not Out of the Woods Yet - ICTMN.com.
September 6, 2012
November 9, 2011
The actual anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz island will come on November 20, but today marks the 42nd anniversary of the first attempt at taking the island that laid the ground work for the actual movement a couple weeks later.
On November 9, 1969 almost 100 Bay Area Indians arrived at Pier 39, ready and willing to take the island, an idea that generated from a couple different areas.
The first came when Adam Fortunate Eagle, Millie Ketcheshawno, Mvskoke, and others drafted a proposal for Alcatraz to be converted into an American Indian center after the Indian Center in San Francisco burned down on October 10, 1969. The proposal was overshadowed by a proposal from Texas millionaire Lamar Hunt to turn the island into a commercial venue, according to an article in Native Peoples Magazine in the Fall of 1999.
With no options left, “we all decided November 9 would be the day we would all go out and just stay until they gave us the island,” Ketcheshawno says in the article.
Meanwhile, Richard Oaks, Mohawk, and student at then San Francisco State College, and other college students were also thinking about taking the island.
Fortunate Eagle and Oaks met at a Halloween party, shared their ideas, and then lead the unsuccessful attempt on November 9 according to Native Peoples Magazine.
Many activists had to be rescued by the Coast Guard after recklessly jumping into the cold water with its heavy current. Some of the college students did not agree with Fortunate Eagle’s ways and began distancing themselves from him and began to plan an invasion their way.
That invasion was the one of November 20, and lasted almost 19 months while drawing the attention of media around the world according to a CNN article from 2009.
“[The Alcatraz occupiers] wanted to focus attention on broken treaties, broken promises and termination of tribal areas,” said Professor Troy Johnson, chairman of the American Indian studies program at California State University, Long Beach, and author of several publications on the occupation in the CNN article.
Forty-two years ago, American Indians were beginning to take a stand that changed history in the Alcatraz occupation, much like the Occupy Wall Street movement is looking to do presently—by bringing attention and criticism to the U.S. government.
Indian Country Today Media Network’s Occupy Wall Street coverage:Indian Country Today Media Network.comTaseko to Be Reviewed by CEAA - ICTMN.com.
March 7, 2012
The last shreds of credibility of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry are in question and aboriginal interests are now barely represented after two significant withdrawals from the process this week.
Robyn Gervais, a Métis lawyer who was appointed by inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal to represent aboriginal interests, announced on March 5 that she was withdrawing.
“Despite 38 days of police testimony the commission has yet to hear from an aboriginal witness,” Gervais said of the 53-day-old inquiry, adding that “the delay in calling aboriginal witnesses, the failure to provide adequate hearing time for aboriginal panels, the ongoing lack of support from the aboriginal community and the disproportionate focus on police evidence” are culminating to ensure that aboriginal interests have not and will not be adequately represented in the proceedings.
The inquiry commenced in 2011, tasked with examining why it took so long to catch serial killer Robert Pickton, who was ultimately convicted of murdering six women on his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, outside of Vancouver. He confessed to an undercover police officer that he killed 49 more. The DNA of 33 women was found on his property.
Aboriginal women accounted for most of Pickton’s victims.
Gervais said her point of no return came when she tried to organize obtaining testimony from aboriginal participants and to question police officials. Commission officials responded by telling her that she would be afforded one day in April and some more time in May at a policy forum, which wouldn’t be in a federal court and under oath, she said.
“Given that these hearings are largely about missing and murdered aboriginal women, I feel I shouldn’t have to fight to have the voices of the aboriginal heard,” Gervais said. “As I leave this inquiry, I regret that I could not find a way to bring the voices of the missing and murdered aboriginal women before the commissioner.”
Oppal said he was disappointed at her departure.
“I don’t think it’s productive at all if someone withdraws from an inquiry that’s going to make some recommendation,” he responded, according to the Canadian Press. “By not having you at the table, your voice is not being heard.”
Gervais said she wanted to examine the issue of systemic racism within police forces and look at why aboriginal women ended up in such a vulnerable position on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. However, the focus of the commission isn’t on such issues, but rather on the police investigation itself, Oppal said.
Nevertheless, Gervais’s departure enraged Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs leader Stewart Phillip.
“This is not an inquiry about missing and murdered police officers, it’s an inquiry about missing and murdered women, a disproportionate number of whom are First Nations,” Phillip told the Canadian Press. “Most say they’d do the same thing over again. How is that accountability or taking responsibility?”
The development was followed by the nearly simultaneous withdrawal of the B.C. First Nations Summit, the lone aboriginal group participating in the inquiry after several dropped out last year due to the province’s refusal to fund groups’ legal expenses. The summit provides a forum and advocacy for tribes and tribal councils in B.C. that are involved in the B.C. Treaty Process.
“The fears expressed by our chiefs and leaders from the outset of this process have been confirmed,” Grand Chief Edward John said in a news release.
Given Gervais’s withdrawal, “we feel we cannot continue to participate,” he said. “Effective today, we withdraw from participation in this inquiry.”
The withdrawal of Gervais and the First Nations Summit to all intents and purposes voids the inquiry, victim family member Ernie Crey said.
“It leaves a few lawyers representing the families, and a dozen or so lawyers representing the cops,” said Crey, whose sister’s murder is attributed to Pickton, though a body was never found. “I am not sure the public cares to listen to a bunch of cops rewriting history about how professionally they handled the Pickton investigation.”
The inquiry is now like a ship with no rudder, he said, and where it goes from here or ends up is anyone’s guess.
“Oppal has nothing left to work with,” Crey told Indian Country Today Media Network by telephone. “And the B.C. Premier, Christie Clark, is too busy desperately treading water to care much about the Inquiry.”
The pullouts could have been avoided if government had agreed to fund legal representation for Downtown Eastside, aboriginal and impoverished groups the same way they underwrote the legal tab for police involved in the inquiry to lawyer up, Crey said.
The British Columbia government’s attitude toward the inquiry has been plain from the beginning. Clark addressed the First Nations Summit in 2011 when the inquiry was announced.
“There are too many aboriginal women who are subject to violence and much, much worse,” she said in her address. “It is tragic. I frankly don’t believe that solutions will necessarily be found most effectively in courtrooms. I don’t think that the money is necessarily best spent on lawyers. I think the solutions will be found by providing real services to real people who are living with violence every day on the front lines and in the streets of our towns and cities.”Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comSolar Storm Headed Our Way Thursday Morning - ICTMN.com.
November 13, 2011
November 12 marked the one-year anniversary of Canada’s signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and aboriginal and Canadian leaders looked back on an event that sowed seeds of change, what has come to pass since and what it portends for the future.
Both Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan both pointed to the Joint First Nations–Crown Action Plan as a highlight of Canada’s first year as a signatory of the UN document.
UNDRIP “sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues,” as a United Nations press release put it back when the document was first passed by the U.N. in 2007. “The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.”
The First Nations–Crown Action Plan recognizes the “enduring historic relationship based on mutual respect, friends and support” that exists between Canada and First Nations, according to the AFN in a statement. Moves such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s formal apology to Indian residential school former students and other measures taken to rectify what went on during the 150 years that aboriginal children were essentially interred away from their families, were also key, Atleo said. He emphasized in particular education, treaties, claim resolution, economic development and policy reform as keys for improving prosperity for aboriginals and Canadians alike.
Over the past year the AFN and other aboriginal leaders have asserted their rights under the Declaration in a number of instances regarding industrial development, firmly holding Canada to its non-binding promise of consultation with First Nations in projects such as proposed mines in the Ring of Fire. Most recently the chiefs of all nine Ojibway and Cree communities of the Matawa First Nations pulled their support for a mining development in the Ring of Fire, a resource-rich swathe of land in northern Ontario, because they feel the government is not doing a thorough enough environmental assessment.
Free, prior and informed consent are the buzzwords for implementing UNDRIP, aboriginals say. In addition, aboriginals are using the Declaration as a jumping-off point for hammering out trade relationships directly with other countries, as on a recent trade mission that Atleo and other leaders took to China.
“Chiefs have clearly instructed us to make the U.N. Declaration a guide to our advocacy and efforts,” Atleo said in a statement. “The U.N. Declaration requirement for approaches of mutual respect and partnership and the clear standards inform everything we do.”
He noted how fitting that the anniversary falls close to Remembrance Day, giving a nod to aboriginal veterans and linking their struggle to the overall fight for equality and respect among all peoples.
“Our many veterans were and continue to be proud fighters for freedom and human rights,” Atleo said. “The achievement of the U.N. Declaration represents another critical step in this advocacy and effort for respect and human rights. Moving forward now, First Nations have increased opportunity to advance their rights and responsibilities and to achieve lasting change through justice and progress.”
Likewise, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND) also highlighted the Joint Action Plan and pointed out the government’s work in the same key areas that Atleo mentioned.
“We continue to take concrete action on important issues like education, economic development, housing, child and family services, access to safe drinking water, and the extension of human rights protection and matrimonial real property protection to First Nations on reserve,” Duncan said in a statement from AAND. “We announced a Joint Action Plan with the Assembly of First Nations and launched a National Education Panel. In addition, we have worked in partnership with Métis leaders and organizations to establish the Métis Entrepreneurship Fund. We have also made important investments to Nunavut Sivuniksavut to provide students with a unique education program to learn about Inuit history and prepare for the labor force.”
The goal, he said, was to support the attainment of a better quality of life for the country’s aboriginals.
“Canada is strongly committed to furthering a positive relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people based on our shared history, respect and desire to focus on delivering tangible results,” Duncan said.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comCanada Marks One-Year UNDRIP Anniversary - ICTMN.com.
February 24, 2012
Aboriginal leaders welcomed the interim report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with enthusiasm tempered by a continuing call for action.
“It is necessary for the federal government and the churches to reaffirm their commitment to the important work of the TRC by addressing the obstacles identified in the interim report,” said Regional Chief Angus Toulouse of the Chiefs of Ontario. “The work of the TRC is about acknowledging the fact that First Nations culture was systemically attacked over many years and the profoundly negative consequences that this has had on First Nations people in this country. We need to collectively acknowledge that this tragedy occurred, ensure that it does not happen again and that we now must focus our efforts on finding a way to move forward together.”
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) reaction was equally guarded. Wrapping up a three-day National Justice Forum, which focused on reducing violence against women and children and creating safe communities, National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said the TRC’s report “draws important conclusions and points to clear steps toward reconciliation” but added, “Real reconciliation, though, is achieved through action and change. We must all work together to ensure these important recommendations are implemented in ways that address the needs of all residential schools survivors and families, and to ensure that from now on education will only be used to support and improve the continued and sustained success of First Nations as an investment in Canada’s collective future.”
The report stressed education of Canadians and families of survivors alike as linchpins along the road to recovery and reconciliation.
Explaining the complex interrelation between intergenerational trauma suffered by residential school students and aboriginal lives today is key to reconciliation and moving forward, said commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair in formally releasing the report at a press conference in Vancouver on February 24.
Sinclair said there is also an immediate and urgent need for mental-health services, especially in the north, because of the direct impact that the schools’ legacy continues to have. Overall, more understanding is needed by Canadians and survivors’ families and communities alike about what happened in the residential school era, when from the 1800s through 1996, when the last school closed, aboriginal children were taken away from their families and forced to assimilate. Of the 150,000 children who were yanked out of their environment in this manner, many were abused. Surviving former students number about 80,000.
In fact, the practice fit the United Nations definition of genocide, he said at a talk on February 18, the Canadian Press reported.
“It’s commonly said that it takes a village to raise a child,” Sinclair said. “The government of Canada took Indian children from their villages and placed them into institutions that were the furthest thing from a village that you could have. And then on top of it they destroyed their villages so that when the people left school they had no villages to go back to.”
The result, he said, is an interconnected web of poverty, a lack of leadership, and leaders who are unable to talk to their people about the future. It took seven generations to get to this level of disrepair, Sinclair said, and it may take even longer to get back.
Beacons in this wilderness are the potential of education to get the word out, and aboriginals themselves, especially those who have managed to overcome their difficulties and excel in life. Just as misguided education got Canada into this situation, so can education that teaches the facts of what happened can help the country move forward, Sinclair pointed out.
As for aboriginals who are making good, 15 examples were being honored the same evening, February 24, at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, also in Vancouver.
The commissioners said this report is a snapshot of what’s to come; the final one will be much more fleshed out. Sinclair also took the opportunity to broadcast the need for the balance of the relevant documents that the federal government and the churches that ran the schools that they promised to deliver.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAboriginal Leaders Agree With TRC, Want Action - ICTMN.com.
February 21, 2012
The hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered top the agenda of a National Justice Forum opening today.
The first day of the forum, put on by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), will be devoted to scrutinizing the issue of violence toward women and the missing and murdered aboriginal women in particular. The day will end with an action plan on the matter, the AFN’s agenda states. The conference runs from February 21–23 in Vancouver.
In opening, Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish Nation, will conduct a ceremony to honor the families of the murdered women. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and Paul Lacerte, B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres–Aboriginal Men Stand Up Against Violence Towards Aboriginal Women, will then conduct a Call to Witness Ceremony and issue a leadership call for a Royal Commission on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada to be created, the AFN said in its agenda.
The overall goal is to “highlight priority areas for action in achieving safe, secure and thriving First Nation communities,” the AFN said in a press release. The AFN expects more than 500 delegates from national and regional indigenous organizations and those who are working the front lines of the justice system, the statement said. Federal and provincial government representatives will also participate.
“Delegates will be asked to engage in discussions that will lead to the development of a National Justice Strategy and action plan to ending violence against indigenous women,” the AFN said. “Key speakers and presentations will showcase the importance of First Nation-driven solutions and engaging First Nations in achieving solutions that work for their communities. Specific areas of discussion will include community-based programs, diversion, sentencing and alternative measures, policing, crime prevention, courts and corrections.”
Another session will include an update on attempts to solve the cases of the missing women, given by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chief Superintendent Brenda Butterworth-Carr, and briefings by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and Assistant Commissioner Russ Mirasty, Commanding Officer “F” Division, Provincial Missing Persons Task Force.
An examination of how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can be used to advance the rights of indigenous women and girls, and a look at the report coming out of the U.N. Expert Meeting on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls will take up the afternoon, along with a look at the U.N. inquiry that is under way into the disappearances and murders.
Other sessions will cover First Nations policing, crisis and emergency response, and an update on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). The day will also see the launch of a national awareness campaign for missing children, the AFN said.
Closing out the conference will be an appearance by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s three members—Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, and the two commissioners, Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild. They will comprise a panel called Justice and Reconciliation.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comOrganic Farmers to Monsanto: We Don't Want Your Seeds Anyway! - ICTMN.com.
September 19, 2012
A recent episode of the Al Jazeera English program The Stream examined the failure of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to provide adequate legal protection to Native women. Guests featured in the September 18 program, Sarah Deer (Muscogee Creek Nation), assistant professor at William Mitchell Law School; Andrea Smith (Cherokee), co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence; and Rebecca St. George (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, discussed the causes of sexual violence against Native women—and the failure of VAWA to protect them.
With 1 in 3 women in Indian country reporting some type of sexual violence, and many more unlikely to ever report the crimes committed against them, St. George insisted that most Native women are survivors. “Most Native women I know,” she said during the broadcast, “have been raped.”
Native women are also murdered at rates 10 times the national average, and are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than any other group. Violence against Native women is a human rights crisis.
Despite assault rates in Indian country that rival those of sexual violence in war zones, republicans in the House of Representatives have opposed the Senate-approved provisions put in place in VAWA to protect Native women—along with immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women.
The Stream broadcast aired at a significant time. On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed VAWA into law, but VAWA has not been reauthorized since 2006, a casualty of partisanship at the federal level. Significantly, when Joe Biden was a senator representing the state of Delaware, he led the initial campaign to make VAWA a law. Then-Senator Biden drafted the legislation, which passed with bipartisan support. Now, 18 years later, House conservatives have opposed the law’s reauthorization. Meanwhile, senate democrats and republicans have passed a version of VAWA that includes provisions protecting Native, immigrant and LGBT women.
In a statement made on the 18th anniversary of VAWA, President Obama said that since VAWA was passed, annual rates of violence against women dropped 60 percent. President Obama added, “…reauthorization of a strengthened VAWA languishes in Congress.” The White House supports the bi-partisan Senate version of the law, which was introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
A recent White House blog post, co-authored by White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs Jodi Gillette and White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal, says: “Tribal police, prosecutors, and courts have had significant success in combating crimes of domestic violence committed by Indians in Indian country, but tribes cannot prosecute a non-Indian, even if he lives on the reservation and is married to a tribal member. As a result, all too often, non-Indian men who batter their wives or girlfriends go unpunished. One provision of the Leahy-Crapo bill addresses this legal gap by providing tribes with concurrent authority to hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable for their crimes against Native women—regardless of the perpetrator’s race.”
On The Stream broadcast, Sarah Deer explained that Native women are often targeted by sexual predators because local tribes cannot arrest or prosecute offenders on tribal land. The overwhelming majority of those criminals, about 88 percent, are non-Natives. Though there are “up to three different entities that could intervene” at the federal, state, or tribal level, Deer said, perpetrators are rarely penalized.
Whether the perpetrator is a Native man or non-Native local resident, victims are forced to literally live with their rapist on or near tribal land, further victimizing the victim and tearing the social fabric of Native communities.
Smith testified to the intergenerational trauma in communities where Native children were abducted from their homes, subjected to sexual violence and other types of violence, and then returned to their homes once they’d reached age 18. During the Al Jazeera broadcast she identified the Boarding School Healing Project as one program working to repair the damage done to Native Americans, damage that is often expressed in high levels of violence against women. Smith added that accountability structures that were in place in Native communities to protect women were destroyed by U.S. policies.
Deer picked up this theme and talked about the interrelationship of residents in tribal communities. She said that rape is such an important tool in waging war because it is so effective in tearing women away from their communities. Deer added that the Native communities outside the U.S. with similarly high statistics of rape and sexual assault are located in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—countries, she said, with histories that are similar to our own.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAlt-Folkie Christa Couture on 'The Living Record' and her Canadian Tour - ICTMN.com.
September 9, 2011
On one side of the frame is ethereal autumn forest. As your eye travels toward the top of the photo, a stark line. The golden foliage ends abruptly, and you are staring at Mordor: black and gray ash hills amid fetid pools of oily muck and belching smokestacks.
Such is the visual journey that photographer Garth Lenz, who grew up in British Columbia, took over the notorious oil sands of the Peace Athabasca Delta to observe the industrial development known as the Alberta Oil Sands. Now he brings them to those of us who do not have physical access to the massive wound in Canada’s boreal forest that would furnish our replacement for Middle Eastern oil, if western industry and political leaders would have their way.
His photo series, Canada’s Tar Sands and the True Cost of Oil, won first place in a photo competition at Social Documentary.net, Ten Years After Nine/Eleven: Searching for a 21st Century Landscape. It is on display through September 16 at the PowerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, part of a larger show that connects the U.S.’s so-called oil addiction to the events of September 11, 2001. A reception will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to showcase the exhibit and the connection.
You can find rsvp information and directions here.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comOil Sands Exhibit in Brooklyn - Indian Country Today Media Network.com.
August 7, 2012
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have scored another victory in their battle against the exploitation of resources on their traditional land.
After weeks of direct action by ABL members protesting Resolute Forest Products’ logging activities on Algonquin territory the Quebec government agreed to negotiate with community leaders and implement an aspect of the Trilateral Agreement that calls for consultation and accommodation, according to Barriere Lake Solidarity.
“Thanks to the resistance and determination of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the thousand people who sent online letters and the 200 who joined last week’s powerful Montreal demonstration outside the offices of Resolute Forest Products and Premier Jean Charest, the Quebec government and forestry company have been forced to make a significant concession,” the group’s website reports. “They have agreed to respect an aspect of the Trilateral Agreement by harmonizing logging with Barriere Lake’s use of their lands, which is an important step forward in the community’s struggle to protect their land rights and the environment.”
The 1991 Trialateral Agreement is a resource-use agreement between the First Nation, the Canadian federal government and the Quebec government that was supposed to create a sustainable development plan for the community’s traditional 3,900 square miles including revenue sharing, resource co-management and economic independence for Barriere Lake. The Trilateral Agreement was praised by the United Nations, but both Quebec and Canada have refused to implement it.
This is the second major victory the ABL have had in protecting their land in the past two years. In the summer of 2011, Cartier Resources suspended its Rivière Doré copper mining project on the Algonquin community’s traditional land in northwestern Quebec. The suspension followed months of peaceful direct actions by community members, expressing their overwhelming opposition to Cartier’s exploratory activities and the possibility that a mine would be developed at the site.
After the logging protest in Montreal this year, members of the ABL community camped out at the logging site for two weeks, successfully stopping the logging operations several times. It was after the stoppages that the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources agreed to sit down with ABL leaders and negotiate, according to the website.
Resolute Forest Products began logging activities near Poigon Bay, Quebec, on the ABL territory on July 3 after the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources had issued logging permits to the company to clear cut an unknown quantity of trees. The company, formerly known as Abitibi Bowater, is a multinational wood products corporation with sales of more than $4.75 billion in 2011. The logging area includes sacred grounds and important moose habitat, the group said.
The multinational corporation had refused to respect a process of consultation and accommodation that is part of the Trilateral Agreement—called “measures to harmonize.” Forestry companies who want to operate on Barriere Lake’s land must not compromise the way that the Algonquins’ use the land—meaning logging is not allowed to happen where the community has hunting cabins, in areas of moose and bear habitat, sacred areas, medicinal sites and many other areas of concern to the community. Because of community’s direct action and public pressure, the Quebec government and Resolute Forest Products have now agreed to comply by the “measures to harmonize.”
But ABL members say they will continue to monitor the situation.
“What was agreed to is a precarious but important step in the community’s long struggle to pressure the Quebec and Canadian governments honor their landmark Trilateral Agreement.”
They urge supporters to continue to “remain vigilant” to make sure Resolute respects the agreement.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comOther Things Said About American Indians on 'Real Housewives of New York City' - ICTMN.com.
October 12, 2011
The Assembly of First Nations has officially pulled out of the British Columbia Missing Women of Inquiry Commission’s hearing procedures due to concerns over funding inequities between legal representation for advocacy groups and that of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other parties involved. The announcement came on the first day of the hearings, October 11.
“The Assembly of First Nations is no longer confident the Inquiry will bring justice for the families of missing and murdered women in Canada,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo in a statement on Tuesday.
“The principle objectives behind AFN’s participation from the beginning have been to support the families, to bring to light systemic issues that gave rise to these tragedies and finally to identify efforts toward resolution of those issues,” Atleo said. “We hoped the inquiry would shed light to uncover truths that could help with the healing process for the families as well as to begin to point the way forward so that all women and the most vulnerable have access to justice. Without equity and balance, systemic issues will not be brought forward and will therefore not be reflected in the recommendations of the inquiry.”
The inquiry has been fraught with credibility issues since the beginning, as the British Columbia government refused to fund women’s and aboriginal groups that had been granted standing before the commission. Delivering testimony requires legal assistance, which the groups could not afford. Several dropped out in the weeks after that decision, saying they could not afford to participate. Even after the commission hired two attorneys and got two others to work pro bono, the groups said it was not sufficient.
Earlier this month both the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International withdrew, a few days after two major women’s groups did so: the Women’s Memorial March Committee (WMMC) and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC).
The inquiry is supposed to determine why and how serial killer Robert Pickton was left unfettered for years to murder women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He was convicted in 2007 on six counts of second-degree murder, although remains of 33 women were found on his pig farm.
The hope is that analyzing the events between January 1997 and Pickton’s 2002 arrest will uncover the attitudes and policies that prevented police from launching an investigation during Pickton’s killing spree and thus shed light on the unsolved cases of the more than 700 aboriginal women still missing or murdered.
As the hearings began on October 11, the groups that would have represented those women and their families were outside protesting, the National Post reported, enough of them to completely block an intersection.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the British Columbia government has funded no fewer than 14 lawyers for the police, but just one, Cameron Ward, to represent the 17 families who lost family members to Pickton’s deeds.
“This inquiry has unravelled to the point it is nothing more than a whitewash,” said Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the British Columbia Union of Indian Chiefs (BCUIC), according to the Vancouver Sun.
Oppal has repeatedly asked the provincial government to reconsider, most recently in an eight-page letter, the Vancouver Sun reported, but the province insists that budget constraints prevent the funding. He originally recommended funding for 13 groups.
The shut-out groups on September 27 appealed to the United Nations, requesting anti-discrimination assistance, asking that the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Violence Against Women, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Independence of Judges and Lawyers make an urgent joint appeal to Canada for last-minute funds.Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAn Open Letter to 'Occupy Wall Street': A Shawnee-Lenape Perspective - ICTMN.com.
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