Video interview: Harsha Walia on Anti-Oppression, Decolonization and Responsible Allyship

“Given the devastating cultural, spiritual, economic, linguistic and political impacts of colonialism on Indigenous people in Canada, any serious attempt by non-natives at allying with Indigenous struggles must entail solidarity in the fight against colonization.

Non-natives must be able to position ourselves as active and integral participants in a decolonization movement for political liberation, social transformation, renewed cultural kinships and the development of an economic system that serves rather than threatens our collective life on this planet.

A growing number of social movements are recognizing that Indigenous self-determination must become the foundation for all our broader social justice mobilizing.”

– Harsha Walia, from the article Decolonizing Together
 

 
This 10-min interview was conducted at the PowerShift Canada 2012 conference in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin Territory, on October 28 2012 by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca, for IPSMO
 


 

HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN VOLUME 2 CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

For Vol. 1, please see Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nations – Vol. 1 

As part of IPSMO’s Honouring Indigenous Women campaign, we aim to make space to actively listen to Indigenous women’s voices as well as to critically reflect our relations to colonialism. For these reasons, we are inviting you to tell us your stories through photography, graphics, art work, cartoon, poetry, and short writing.

We are inviting Native women from all nations – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – to tell us your stories about:

  • Your life experience as Native woman;
  • Your resistance to negative definitions of being;
  • Your actions to reclaim your traditions;
  • How you construct a positive identity by translating tradition into the contemporary context;
  • How you act on that identity in a way that nourishes the overall well-being of your communities; or
  • What being a Native woman means to you.

Those topics above are borrowed from and inspired by Kim Anderson’s book Recognition of Being, Reconstructing Native Womanhood (Anderson 2000: p.15).

We are also inviting non-Indigenous women, as well as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and Two-Spirit peoples to tell us about your relations to colonialism and your responsibilities to (re)build relationship with Indigenous women.

Submission Guideline:

  • Please limit your submission to one page (feel free to send us more than one submission however.)
  • Please include a short autobiography. If you are Indigenous, please also include your nation and community. Your name can be a name in your chosen language or a pen name, it’s up to you!
  • For non-written submission, please send us your work in the highest resolution possible.

Deadline for submission:

June 30, 2012

Our Principles:

It is our understanding that Indigenous women, as givers of life and carriers of their cultures, were highly respected in their communities. The prevalent and various forms of violence experienced by Indigenous women are the outcomes of colonization. Its ultimate objective is to facilitate the existing capitalist, patriarchal and racist system within which we live in today. The destruction of Indigenous communities and by extension, their lands, is only possible through deprivation of the power and violation of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of Indigenous women.

Furthermore, it has been said by many Indigenous activists and scholars that reclaiming the roles and responsibilities of women (as well as men) in their community is integral to reclaiming self-determination of their people and nationhood.

As non-Indigenous peoples who have participated or been complicit in the past and present colonization of Native peoples and their lands, it is paramount for us to support the work of Indigenous peoples in this regard. The survival of our species is interconnected with the healthy existence of Indigenous women because of their special relationship with the Earth.

The 2nd volume of Honouring Indigenous Women’s booklet is the continuation of our solidarity efforts not only to broaden our (i.e. all peoples) understanding of the struggle of Indigenous women and their importance to our existence, but also to explore our responsibilities as non-Indigenous women in our own decolonization and self-determination process and take actions accordingly.

Our goals are consistent with those of the Vol. 1 – we strive to break the silence on the systemic violence experienced by Indigenous women and the racial stereotypes that have been perpetrated and perpetuated by colonialism. We aim at (re)building relationships with Indigenous women.

Contact Us:

To send us your submission or ask us any questions, please e-mail: ipsmo@riseup.net. Please indicate: Honouring Indigenous Women in the subject line.

Thank YOU!!

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

Canadian Colonialism: The Attawapiskat Humanitarian Crisis – an Example of Continuing Oppression and Genocide by Canadian Government

source: bermudaradical.wordpress.com

Setting the Context: It’s all about the land

In a harsh and regressive display of colonial paternalism, the Canadian government has used the acute housing crisis in Attawapiskat, a Northern Ontario Cree First Nation, to deny the community’s inherent right to handle its own affairs. The Federal government has done this by imposing Third Party Management (TPM), seizing complete control of all the community’s financial decisions for programs and services on the reserve. TPM is the most extreme and intrusive step the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) can impose financially on a First Nation community. It is a shameful act of colonialism — one imposed on at least 10 other First Nations communities in Canada. The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake whom IPSMO have been supporting for over three years is also under Third-Party Management.

Denial: The Oppressive Shape of Canadian Colonialism Today

Instead of providing immediate support for Attawapiskat to overcome their inhuman living conditions, the Harper government insinuated that the problem was due to financial mismanagement by the band council and imposed TPM. By doing so he blamed the victims, denied his responsibility and ignored the urgent needs of the people. He knows that to accept responsibility and act for Attawapiskat would mean accepting responsibility for many other similar situations in Canada.

We need to remember how long it has taken, and continues to take, for the government to accept responsibility for the horror of residential schools. The response of the Minister to the situation of Attawapiskat and other First Nations is similar in its pattern of denial.

Attawapiskat First Nation (Treaty 9, Ontario) is not the only community suffering from housing crises and other dire living conditions including lack of clean running water, sanitation services, electricity and health care. Many other communities such as Pikangikum (Treaty 5, Ontario), Kashechewan (Treaty 9, Ontario), Sandy Bay (Treaty 1, Manitoba), and Kwicksutaineuk-Ah-kwa-mish (BC) are also in the same predicament as Attawapiskat. This has been going on for years and the list of communities could be expanded.

Why do the First Nations communities live in such dire conditions in a country that is rich in natural resources and whose human development index is ranked No. 6 in the world in 2011?

The answers are simple. 

The root causes behind the crises facing Attawapiskat and many other First Nations communities across Canada, and their treatments from both the federal and provincial governments might seem complex, however, they can be traced to a few important points:

  • Racism. The original peoples of this land have been treated as they do not seem to exist when making decisions on the use of their home territory. Their existence as peoples, as part of the lands, have not been respected.
  • Canada’s continuous colonial policies of dispossession and exploitation of native lands, as well as assimilation, displacement and genocide of native communities.
  • Dishonour of the Crown, Canada and Provinces in the signed nation-to-nation treaties and agreements.

Canada’s ”Indian” policy is all about the wresting control of the land and its valuable “resources” from the land. How can you take the Land? The following two articles explain it.

Attawapiskat and colonialism: Seeing the forest and the trees
By Robert Lovelace | December 6, 2011

But there are reasons behind this suffering. There is a history. There is a structure to oppression, denial and indifference that houses this suffering and there is a system that perpetuates it. – Robert Lovelace

Colonialism and State Dependency
By Gerald Taiaiake Alfred | Novembre 2009

The solution to the problem of First Nations psychological and financial dependency on the state caused by colonialism is the return of land to First Nations and the re-establishment of First Nations presences on and connections to their homelands. – Taiaiake Alfred

Overview – What have been going on?

On October 28, Theresa Spence, the chief of Attiwapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency due to a chronic, systemic housing crisis and poor living conditions in the community. About 300 families and 90 people on this Northern Ontario reserve are living in makeshift housing such as unheated tents, sheds, and trailers, many with no running water, heat, plumbing or electricity. Many of the houses in the community are infested with mold. The medical workers there say peoples’ lives are at risk from the coming winter cold and health problems, such as infectious diseases, scabies, lice, respiratory problems and acute depression, associated with the crowded, unsanitary living conditions. Substance abuse and suicide often follow.

source: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

The chief estimated at least 268 new houses are needed, and many other houses are in need of major repair.

Since a state of emergency was declared almost two months ago, instead of receiving immediate supports from both the federal and provincial governments, the community has received:

  • Jurisdictional wrangling between the federal government and Ontario on who should be responsible for the emergency, who should pay for the needs of the people
  • Blaming from the feds on their financial mismanagement, which isn’t true
  • Punishment with third-party management
  • Red tape & bureaucracy in order to have their state of emergency recognized and needed funds allocated

While the spotlights were on the Attawapiskat’s state of emergency and the governments’ illogical, irrational victim blaming and finger pointing on who should be responsible for the emergency, other news also brought to light that the federal government has spent tones of money in spying on a respectful First Nations child welfare advocate – Cindy Blackstock – as well as many other Indigenous peoples and their supporters for defending Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination and land rights.

Canadian Government Keeps Close Tabs on Child Advocate Cindy Blackstock
By ICTMN Staff November 16, 2011

RCMP spied on protesting First Nations
Intelligence unit collaborated with partners in energy and private sector
By TIM GROVES and MARTIN LUKACS

It is very clear that Canada has not changed its colonial attitude and its ultimate objective of genocide of the First peoples of this land, even after its Residential School Apology issued on June 11, 2008. The actions of the Canadian government speak louder than its words.

Attawapiskat Band Office, photo credit: Paul Lantz

Read about Attawapiskat: https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/attawapiskat-first-nation/

On December 1, Attawapiskat First Nation issued a press release in response to the fed’s decision on putting the community under third-party management and its misinformation on the community’s financial situation. In this release:

Chief Spence has said. “On our traditional lands, that we once shared in the past with the visitors to our land, our lands, have proven to be bountiful in natural resources, and have been a benefit to all of Ontario, and Canada, but we were left behind. In our territory, we have a world class diamond mine, the pride of the Canadian, and Ontario governments, as well as De Beers Canada. They have every right to be proud of that mine, but each party has failed to acknowledge the First Nation peoples who continue to use the land as our grandparents did.

While they reap the riches, my people shiver in cold shacks, and are becoming increasing ill, while precious diamonds from my land grace the fingers, and necklaces of Hollywood celebrities, and the mace of the Ontario Legislature.

My people deserve dignity, humane living conditions, for that our community asked for the assistance from my fellow citizens, for our simple request for human dignity, the government’s decision was to impose a colonial Indian Agent.”

Source: http://www.attawapiskat.org/wp-content/uploads/Press-Release-Afn-Third-Party-Intervention-Nov-30-2011.pdf (emphasis added)

For other insightful analysis of the crisis in Attawapiskat:

Colonial foundations to blame in native crisis by David McLaren: http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3400812

Dealing with comments about Attiwapiskat by âpihtawikosisân: http://apihtawikosisan.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/dealing-with-comments-about-attawapiskat/

Compare and contrast: Those Attawapiskat numbers vs. Toronto numbers by Lorraine Land: http://rabble.ca/news/2011/12/compare-and-contrast-those-attawapiskat-numbers-vs-toronto-numbers

Brave Leadership Spreads Hope: Attawapiskat Takes on the Ultimate Bull by Pam Palmeter http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2011/12/brave-leadership-spreads-hope.html

Tanya Tagaq at Women’s Worlds 2011: ‘Breaking Cycles’

Tanya Tagaq was invited to participate in the first plenary, entitled ‘Breaking Cycles’, of the international Women’s Worlds 2011 conference, Her inspiring and heartfelt words touched on the topics of how traditional Inuit ways of keeping healthy communities were repressed under colonialism, about strong role models, residential schools, imposed community relocations, healing and breaking the cycles of sexual abuse, and even publicly announcing her 12-weeks-in pregnancy – plus she brought the plenary to a close with some beautiful singing.

She was on the panel with Andrea Smith, Devaki Jain, and moderator Joanne St. Lewis. She was there in place of Monica Chuji Gualinga from Ecuador, who had difficulties with her travel visa and was unable to attend.

See the full video of the plenary: http://vimeo.com/25984077

This was one of four plenaries, and around 300 sessions overall, during the five-day international women’s congress which is Women’s Worlds, celebrating it’s 30-year history in 2011. It was held this year in Ottawa, Canada, and over 2,000 women from around the world attended. More: www.womensworlds.ca

Video: Algonquins of Barriere Lake VS Section 74 of the Indian Act

Algonquins of Barriere Lake vs Section 74 of the Indian Act from Barriere Lake Solidarity on Vimeo.

Barriere Lake Solidarity has produced this video to help bring attention to the current struggle by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) against the Canadian Government’s imposition of Section 74 of the Indian Act. By enacting this obscure piece of the Act, the Canadian Government is attempting to take control of the community by imposing band council elections on the community. The ABL have always had their own customary government.

For more information, visit:
http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org