One Inity

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Posts Tagged ‘First Nations

Tar Sands export routes across North America – Maps

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Will this fossil fuel export proposition be the final nail in humanity’s climate change coffin or the spark for real change? It’s up to you.

Idle No More.

Wilderness COmmittee Tar Sands North America pipelines.jpg

Tar Sands Pipelines in North America – [From Kinder Morgan Pipeline Route Maps | Wilderness Committee]

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

February 15, 2013 at 08:55

C-45 Summary – A must-read if you are Canadian (and even if you’re not)

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A ‘MUST READ’ – IF YOU ARE CANADIAN

The Public Service Alliance of Canada has expressed concern over a raft of legislative changes being pushed through by the Canadian government that could negatively affect the environment and people’s rights, part of a drive to sell out the country to fossil fuel companies and foreign countries.

If you don’t think there is much to worry about, we suggest a trip to the Tar Sands in Alberta or any of the thousands of communities being poisoned by pollution.

The following comes from – psac-afpc.com – We suggest you take a moment to read through this.

The Conservative government is pushing through hundreds of pages of major legislative changes without consulting Canadians.
PSAC has major concerns with the latest budget implementation bill, C-45. Our concerns echo the criticism being expressed by the opposition parties, environmental, scientific and Aboriginal groups. We join the call for Bill C-45 to be split into parts and debated separately.
Many of these legislative changes will have a drastic impact on Canadians and should not be rushed through Parliament without time for careful consideration, public scrutiny and debate.

Fisheries Act

New changes to the Fisheries Act build on changes in the spring omnibus legislation which further undermines Canada’s ecology and removes legal barriers to oil, pipeline and other developers. Four former fisheries ministers as well as countless scientists have publicly opposed these amendments. Currently resource developers have to receive authorization under the Act when their projects damage lakes, rivers or other fish habitat. They must also specify the corrective action. Under these new changes, the developer will no longer be responsible for fixing the environmental and habitat damage they cause.

Indian Act

The amendments to the Indian Act are clearly designed to give the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs access over First Nations’ lands and undue influence on vulnerable communities. The key amendment to the Act gives the government authority to determine the surrender of any portion of any First Nation territory at any given time.
This clause is in direct contravention of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which calls for the “free, prior and informed consent” of all Indigenous peoples exercising their right of self-determination.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act

The Navigable Waters Protection Act will be amended to reduce its scope to less than one percent of Canadian waters. The new law will restrict federal oversight to the three oceans that border Canada and to a mere 97 lakes and 62 rivers.
The traditional territories of Aboriginal peoples’ will be at the greatest risk of environmental exploitation as the law was designed to provide quick development access to resource extraction industries, a great number of which operate on First Nations’ land.

Canada Grain Act

Bill C-45 contains amendments to the Canada Grain Act that will remove regulations that protect independent grain producers, increase self regulation, and decrease inspections.
The changes will also jeopardize the quality of Canada’s internal and external grain supply by removing the requirement for inward inspection – a process put in place to ensure producers are paid for the quality and quantity of their grain and not cheated by international grain companies.
These amendments threaten the livelihood of independent producers while further protecting the rights of the global conglomerates. For more information on these changes, see the submission made by the union to the government.

CRA Act

The Canada Revenue Agency was created in 1999 as a separate, independent employer from Treasury Board. Over time, the CRA and the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) have worked hard to develop a harmonious working relationship, allowing the negotiation of two consecutive collective agreements before the expiry date of the previous agreement.
Changes, to the Canada Revenue Agency Act will put the CRA back under the authority of Treasury Board who will oversee CRA’s negotiating mandate as well as certain terms and conditions of employment. This change contradicts the specific reasons why the CRA was created and approved by Parliament – a better way of doing business for Canadians and creating a more beneficial labour relationship. The union will be contacting the government and the opposition parties to demonstrate their opposition to these changes.

Public Sector pensions

Unilateral amendments to public sector pension plans include increasing the normal retirement age from 60 to 65 for new hires beginning in 2013. PSAC opposes this bill because it is an attack on younger generations who make up the majority of new hires in the public service.
The increase in the retirement age will generate a two tier system, creating inequities between young and older workers in the public service, forcing younger workers to retire at an older age. The public service pension plan is sustainable and there is no reason to penalize young workers.

PSAC calls on the government to focus on strengthening pensions for all Canadians instead of weakening pension plans and retirement security for Canadians dedicated to public service.

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

January 24, 2013 at 16:10

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Idle No More: What do we want and where are we headed?

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Across the world, Indigenous and colonial peoples alike are heeding the call from Canada’s First Nations – to be Idle No More.

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But what is it exactly that they stand for?

In Canada, the Harper regime (which won a second term of ‘majority’ government with only 24% of the eligible vote amid serious and unresolved allegations of electoral fraud) has been busy compiling hundreds of pieces of legislation into Omnibus bills, ostensibly budget related, so as to sneak them past the electorate and the usual democratic processes of debate.

Within these illegitimate omnibus bills the Harper conservatives have hidden major revamps of environmental legislation that has, for example, reduced the number of protected Canadian streams, lakes and rivers from millions to just hundreds. Deep in the pocket of the oil and gas industry, Harper’s most egregious changes remove barriers and limitations on tar sands development.

It doesn’t stop there. Knowing that most economically profitable resources are buried beneath un-ceded Indigenous territory, Harper has ‘proceeded with an aggressive legislative agenda that will include upwards of 14 bills that will devastate our First Nations in various ways.’

The Indigenous response? Idle No More. Pamela Palmater explains:

‘First Nations represent Canadians last best hope at stopping Harper from unfettered mass destruction of our shared lands, waters, plants and animals in the name of resource development for export to foreign countries like China. Why? Because only First Nations have constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights which mandate Canada to obtain the consent of First Nations prior to acting. These rights are also protected at the international level with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.’

Read the entire article by Pamela Palmater here: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2013/01/what-idle-no-more-movement-really

How and why can you get involved with Idle No More? http://thetyee.ca/Life/2013/01/19/Idle-No-More-List/

PS. One of the comments beneath this article is worth addressing briefly:

Submitted by tdot on January 9, 2013 – 12:51pm.

Dear Madam,
You ask the government “This means Canada must respect our sovereignty and get out of the business of managing our lives.” Does this also mean the government should stop giving your nation billions of dollars? If a specific reserve in your nation after being given hundreds of millions of dollars allows its people to live in abject poverty and asks for more money (despite not accounting for the millions it did receive), the government should just give your nation more money? Isn’t this the opposite of what you want?

In response, I would say that while Canadian governments are making billions in tax revenue by allowing and assisting Canadian and foreign companies to profit from the resources on Turtle Island, I think it is fair that the people of Turtle Island receive something in return.

– S

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

January 24, 2013 at 06:36

The natives are restless. Wondering why?

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Picture this. You and I are sitting at my local laundromat slash fair trade café, and while you warily wait for me to get my first caffeine fix of the day, you lean in and prepare to ask the question that’s been on your mind since you first read the hyperbolic headline, “Native Leaders Try to Burst Into Chambers in Ottawa, Held Back By Guards.” Licking your lips nervously, you spit it out.  The question. Not this fantastic espresso.

So what’s got you all upset this time?

While I savor what has got to be the most widespread addiction in the world by now, I wonder how it is you and I ended up hanging out in the first place, but hey, it’s an honest question. If you strive to be a bit more tactful, I’ll strive not to move beyond visualising punching you in the throat, okay?

Although thousands of indigenous people all over Canada rallied together under the banner of Idle No More on December 10th, there has been very little media coverage on the movement.  Most of what is being said in the mainstream media is focused on Bill C-45. I’d like to make it clear…they’re getting it wrong.

Attawapsikat still lacks desperately needed housing units, a year after the crisis was declared. Rather than deal with the situation in good faith, the Canadian government has continued to blame Chief Theresa Spence who is now taking drastic measures to open an honest dialogue.

Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat did not launch a hunger strike over a single piece of legislation.  The women who are planning on supporting her in a nationwide fast, in relay, are not doing this because of a single piece of legislation. Canada, this is not just about Bill C-45.

Then what? What is the problem?

I’m going to go to the Idle No More page and click on “Manifesto”. I think it’s important you read this in its entirety rather than just have me excerpt it for you:

We contend that:
The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between Canada and First Nations who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.

The #IdleNoMore hashtag on twitter has been an amazing source of information on the nationwide rallies, and the further efforts of indigenous peoples to organise a sustainable grassroots movement.

We contend that:
Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

We contend that:
Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.

For news, pictures, and information on the Idle No More movement, you can check out the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society online by clicking on the poster.

We contend that:
There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.
Please join us in creating this vision.

In short, this is what we have always been talking about. Whether the particular focus has been on housing, or education or the environment, or whatever else.  What lies at the heart of all these issues is our relationship with Canada.  And Canada? This relationship is abusive.

I don’t get it, I thought things were getting better?

You’re right, you don’t get it. Things are not getting better.  In fact, many of us feel that things are getting worse. Many of us feel that the reason things aren’t getting any better, is because Canada has forgotten it is a Treaty nation too.

When the relationship between indigenous peoples and Europeans first began here, we had a relationship based on Treaties of Peace and Friendship. As indigenous peoples understand this relationship, it is one that should work to the mutual benefit of all involved. That relationship quickly became overshadowed by one more focused on extinguishing (getting rid of) aboriginal rights, particularly as they relate to the land. I am not speaking about events hundreds of years ago. I am telling you that Canada continues to focus on stripping away all of our rights and land while at the same time telling the world that it is doing the opposite.

One of the most captivating photos taken during the December 10th rallies, by Blaire Russell.

In this document (PDF) Canada clearly lays out its interests in any negotiations it enters into with indigenous people. The term ‘certainty’ has replaced ‘termination’, but the intent is still the same.

I can go find dismal statistics on pretty much any aspect of life for indigenous peoples in this country; trot them all out and say, ‘look it’s really bad’ and you will nod and say, ‘wow it sure is’, but that still won’t make it clear for you.  I need you – WE need you, to see the forest and not just the trees.

I’m really sorry, I just…I don’t understand what the issues are?

Aaron Paquette does a wonderful job of highlighting why this is not just about indigenous peoples. It is about everyone living in Canada:

This is much greater than angry protesting natives, this is about becoming aware of the world in which you live.

First they gutted the sciences, long term studies that would help us understand our ecosystem better so we could develop more responsibly, and no one said a word.

Then they cut funding for our shared history and those who work to preserve it, while at the same time dumping tens of millions of dollars into celebrating a British colony war that happened before we were even a country, and still no one said anything.

Then the world was made aware of the shameful conditions for small children growing up on underfunded, polluted Reservations. A small murmur and then nothing.

And now, because of the apathy they see, this government has taken galling steps to sell out our wilderness, our resources and sovereignty. And not even to the highest bidder. It’s a yard sale with no regard for responsibility or care for anyone who might be negatively affected (in other words, all of us).

From millions of protected waterways a couple weeks ago, we now have hundreds. Yes, you read that right.

So why are Canada’s Indigenous Peoples the only ones who are standing up? Why are they now the World’s Protectors?

What are the issues? The issues are many. The issues are well documented.  The issues have been studied and researched and reported on ad nauseum until we have literally filled libraries with the issues and the recommendations and words words words…

What it all boils down to is this. Canada has not committed itself to addressing the colonial relationship it still has with indigenous peoples. Canada is in denial about that relationship.  I think it’s fair to say that most Canadians believe that kind of relationship no longer exists. We are trying to tell you that you are wrong.

So what now, more talks?

Contrary to popular perception, indigenous peoples are not just about blockades and protests. We have engaged in every dialogue Canada has been willing to enter into since before Canada was even a nation. When the requirements changed, often arbitrarily, we complied. When Canada pulled out of the structures it built, dumping years of work down the tubes only to decide to set up a different structure and begin again, we were there, at the table, ready to do it over.

We will not let Canada forget it is a Treaty nation. All Canadians are a Treaty people.

This has gone on for too long. The Canadian government continues to mouth platitudes about its supposed dedication to this relationship, while it slashes funding, ignores our emergencies, pulls out of comprehensive land claim discussions, ‘consults’ with us and then ignores everything we told them, all while pursuing a hard-line agenda which accepts only termination as a result.

We have been backed into a corner and we are literally fighting for our lives. We areliterally dying, in so many preventable and unacceptable ways. I’m not being poetic or hyperbolic here and I don’t just mean culturally.

We are dying.

No one should expect us to stay quiet or polite about this. We have done what has been asked, we have played along to the constantly changing rules. It hasn’t worked. It hasn’t saved us. Idle No More is about saving ourselves.

We will continue to talk, and meet, and submit hundreds of thousands of reports each year…but we will also rise. We are rising. You will find that you have many issues in common with us, as Aaron pointed out. This is not us against you. This is hopefully all of us. Together.

Let’s move past chats in cafés, okay?

(Via âpihtawikosisân)

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

December 17, 2012 at 16:14