Solidarity with Attawapiskat! Learn, Speak up, and Rally on Feb. 14 2012!!

As the crisis of inadequate housing and colonial repression continues in Attawapiskat and other First Nations, what can we do to hold our governments accountable for the prevalent violence deliberately perpetrated against these unique peoples?

Photo Credit: Liam Sharp,

With our gratitude and respect to the original peoples of this land we live on, and acknowledgement of the over 500 years of their resistance to colonialism, patriarchy and racism, in the spirit of reconciliation, we ask all to show solidarity by:

  1. learning about the root causes of the crisis;
  2. speaking out against the governments and media’s misrepresentation of the issues;
  3. rallying in front of the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, February 14 at 10:30 am as it hears a landmark human rights case on Canada’s systematic underfunding of services on First Nations reserves; and
  4. attending the court to show your solidarity during the hearing of this unprecedented human rights case (Feb. 13-15) at the Supreme Court of Canada

Details about each of these actions follow, below.

1. Learn more

Check out the link below for an overview and other insightful analysis of the crisis in Attawapiskat:

Canadian Colonialism: The Attawapiskat Humanitarian Crisis – an Example of Continuing Oppression and Genocide by Canadian Government: https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/canadian-colonialism-the-attawapiskat/

Students putting letters supporting Shannen's Dream in school house mail box. Source: Shannen's Dream gallery http://www.fncfcs.com/shannensdream/gallery

2. Speak out

We must speak out against skewed, colonialist misrepresentations of the situation wherever we encounter them in our daily lives.

We also must let public officials know about our disgust with the federal government’s shameful victim-blaming response to the humanitarian emergency in Attawapiskat, and the Ontario government’s irresponsibility to the well-being of the First Nation. We must demand peace, justice and equity for all of First Nations peoples. It is our responsibility.

Here are a few suggestions for officials to write to:

  • John Duncan, Federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development: minister@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca, Phone: 819-997-0002, FAX: 819 953 4941
  • Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs: minister.maa@ontario.ca
  • Joanne Wilkinson, Ontario Regional Director General of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Phone: 416-973-6201
  • Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada: pm@pm.gc.ca, stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca, Phone: 613-992-4211, Fax: 613-941-6900
  • Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, Phone: 416-325-1941, Fax: 416-325-3745
  • David Johnston, Governor General of Canada: info@gg.ca, Phone: 613-993-8200, Fax: 613-998-8760

You can also contact your member of Parliament (contact info can be found here: http://bit.ly/pKCBj4), and member of Provincial Parliament (see http://bit.ly/dl8sdz)

3. Attend Have a Heart Day Rally 

Tuesday, February 14th
10:30 am ~ 11:30 am
Parliament Hill, unceded Algonquin Territory

Bring your creative signs to support First Nations children!

“Have a heart for First Nations Children” image source: http://www.fncfcs.com/have-a-heart/cards

From February 13th to 15th, the Federal Court will hear an appeal on a human rights case that challenges Canada’s racially discriminatory underfunding of children’s welfare services on First Nations reserves by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Timed to coincide with this hearing, the Caring Society has declared February 14th “Have a Heart Day for First Nations children”.

Allies of First Nations children, led by the students of Lady Evelyn Alternative School and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School, are organizing a rally in front of the courthouse to show Canada we care about First Nations children!

The case is relevant to Attawapiskat because it centres on the principle of culturally based equity that essential services accessed by First Nations children and families on reserves should be funded at a level equal to the funding level for all of Canadian residents. If the Caring Society and AFN are successful in this human rights case, it will set a precedent to address funding inequities in all areas on reserves, including housing, education, recreation, health care, clean water and sanitation. Canada is not arguing this case on the facts relevant to whether discrimination is occurring rather they are trying to avoid a hearing on this matter using legal loopholes.

For more information on this historic event: www.fnwitness.ca

We are calling upon peoples to attend the rally on Feb. 14 at 10:30 am in front of the Supreme Court of Canada (301 Wellington Street).

4. Court Support throughout the Federal Court Appeal on the child welfare case

Feb 13-15, 2012
9:30 am ~ 4:30 pm
(10:30, 2:30 coffee break & noon-1pm lunch break)
Federal Court
90 Spark Street, Ottawa, unceded Algonquin Territory

The Caring Society is calling upon observers to attend the hearing of the appeal throughout these three days.

For more information on this appeal please see above or check this web site: www.fnwitness.ca. If you have any questions regarding this court support, please e-mail Sylvia at info@projectofheart.ca.

“I am a Witness” Image source: http://www.fncfcs.com/fnwitness

Image credit: First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

Barriere Lake Algonquins and supporters rally for sovereignty

On December 13, 2010, over a hundred community members from Barriere Lake, along with supporters from Montreal and Toronto, drove through the snow to get to Parliament Hill to demand the government take back section 74 and restore their customary rights.

MEDIA REPORTS:

STATEMENTS:

PICTURES:

TAKE ACTION:
Please CALL or WRITE to John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs, demand:
* Canada and Quebec must honor the Trilateral Agreement they’ve signed with Barriere Lake in 1991
* Canada must respect Barriere Lake’s traditional government – REVERSE the forcible assimilation by rolling back Section 74 of the Indian Act

Media Release: Remote Algonquin First Nations travels en masse to Ottawa to protest Harper government’s attacks on their community and environmental agreement

Remote Algonquin First Nations travels en masse to Ottawa to protest Harper government’s attacks on their community and environmental agreement

Photo opportunity: A delegation will deliver a present — a giant copy of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a community resolution against assimilation– to Ministers Duncan and Harper at their offices

OTTAWA, DEC 13/CNW/– More than a hundred members of the Barriere Lake Algonquin First Nation traveled to Ottawa today to demand the Harper government honour a landmark environmental agreement and stop waging a campaign of forcible assimilation against the community. They will be joined by a broad network of hundreds of supporters, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Council of Canadians, KAIROS, the New Democratic Party and Green Party, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and many others.

“How can anyone trust a government that won’t honour its word?” says Tony Wawatie, a Barriere Lake community spokesperson. In 1991, Canada and Quebec signed the United Nations-praised Trilateral Agreement with Barriere Lake to create a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometers of the community’s traditional territory, but both the federal and provincial governments have refused to implement it.

“This agreement would allow us to protect our land and be economically independent. But Canada and Quebec don’t want to share the land’s wealth. So the Harper government is violating our constitutional rights by trying to forcibly abolish our traditional government, which maintains our sacred connection to the land and our ability to protect the environment,” says Wawatie.

In August, the Harper government imposed an Indian Act election process on Barriere Lake, in which less than a dozen community members cast ballots, while the rest of the community boycotted. Almost 200 people signed a resolution rejecting the entire process, wishing to preserve the traditional governance system they have used for countless generations. Four councillors and a Chief were acclaimed, but even the Chief resigned in protest.

“This is an undemocratic, unwanted, and foreign governance regime installed in order to derail our environmental agreement” says Wawatie. “Minister Duncan and the Harper government must reverse their draconian action and respect our right to maintain our traditional government.”

In an op-ed published today in the Globe & Mail, author and Giller-prize winner Joseph Boyden called on the Harper government to end its “abusive, bullying, and undemocratic” treatment of Barriere Lake.

“It would be a terrible tragedy for [Barriere Lake’s] customs to be struck down by the mere stroke of a Minister’s pen after they have served this First Nation well for so many decades and centuries,” National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations wrote Minister Duncan in a letter recently, urging him to reverse his department’s actions. “The Chiefs in Assembly have instructed me to stand with and in support of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and I will do so. My preference is to do so in a way that promotes reconciliation with the department rather than confrontation.”

“Indigenous people who gather, hunt, and fish their food have an unmatched knowledge of the land and an interest in caring for it. They are the front-line of defense in protecting the environment for all of us,” says Arthur Manuel, director of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, and member of the Defenders of the Land network. “This is also their right because it is their land. This right is affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Canadian Constitution. It’s time for the Canadian government to deal honourably and respect that right.”

“Maintaining a traditional governance system that is rooted in their cultural heritage is an integral part of fulfilling mandates that meet the vision of a sustainable community,” said Elizabeth May, national leader of the Green Party of Canada.

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PRESS CONFERENCE

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at 11:00 AM

WHERE: Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, Ottawa

WHO: Charlie Angus- NDP MP,  Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, Tony Wawatie – Barriere Lake Community spokesperson

RALLY

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, from NOON to 2PM

WHERE: March begins on Parliament Hill, with speeches then starting at 1-1:15pm in front of Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office at the Confederation building (Bank & Wellington).

For further information:

Tony Wawatie, Barriere Lake community spokesperson: 819-860-4121

To arrange interviews : 514-550-8706

For more information: www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

French version of this release (.doc): http://bit.ly/i3ul9T

For Joseph Boyden’s op-ed in the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/why-we-try-to-protect-our-land-lessons-from-barriere-lake/article1833684/

 

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Harper government’s assault on environmental agreements and democracy in Barriere Lake First Nation to be exposed and protested Monday

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Harper government’s assault on environmental agreements and democracy in Barriere Lake First Nation to be exposed and protested Monday

OTTAWA, DEC 9/CNW/– Hundreds of members of the small Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake and of a broad network of unions, churches, human rights groups and the New Democratic and Green Party will march in Ottawa on Monday, challenging the Harper government to honour a landmark environmental agreement and to stop waging a campaign of forcible assimilation against the community.

Earlier in the morning, press conference speakers will present startling details about how Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan and the Harper government have been flagrantly violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, belying their endorsement of it in November.

They will speak about how Minister Duncan and the Harper government have imposed a government on Barriere Lake selected by only a handful of band members against overwhelming community opposition — an undemocratic, unwanted, and foreign governance regime installed in order to derail a landmark environmental pact signed with Barriere Lake. The agreement is intended to establish a sustainable development plan for logging over 10,000 square kilometres.

National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations has proposed to undertake a joint fact-finding mission with Indian and Northern Affairs to resolve the governance situation, but Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan has not responded.

PRESS CONFERENCE
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at 11:00 A M
WHERE: Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, Ottawa
WHO:  Charlie Angus- NDP MP,  Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, Tony Wawatie – Barriere Lake Community spokesperson

RALLY
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at NOON
WHERE:Parliament Hill, with speeches at 1pm in front of Minister Duncan’s office at the Confederation building (Bank & Wellington) , including representatives from major Unions, KAIROS , Council of Canadians, Green Party, Indigenous Environmental Network, and others

For further information:
Tony Wawatie, Barriere Lake community spokesperson: 819-860-4121
For media backgrounders : 514-550-8706
For more information: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org