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

IPSMO member Sylvia Smith receives Governor General’s Award for educational project on residential schools

IPSMO member Sylvia Smith receives Governor General’s Award for educational project on residential schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2011

OTTAWA – Sylvia Smith, for her work as coordinator of Project of Heart, will be presented with a Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching on Monday.

Sylvia Smith presenting Project of Heart at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Project of Heart is a hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, inter-institutional artistic endeavour that commemorates the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the Indian Residential School experience.

Participants have used the learning module to connect with a specific residential school history and the Indigenous people whose traditional territory the school was located on, and have shared the experience with an Aboriginal elder and/or residential school survivor. Follow-up research and social justice action is part of the process for each participant.

Smith founded Project of Heart in 2007 in collaboration with her students at Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternate High School Program in Ottawa, and over 50 schools, faith communities, and workplaces across Canada have since taken part.

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) member Pei-Ju Wang states, “We are very pleased to see this award recognizing the work that Sylvia and others with Project of Heart have done to help non-Aboriginal Canadians acknowledge, and take ownership and action for, the devastating policy of residential schools that continues to have lasting effects on Indigenous peoples here. Her contributions to our group’s work have similarly been about moving people towards achieving justice, understanding and healing in the relationship between the Canadian state and the First Peoples of this land.”

Warren McBride, a fellow teacher at Elizabeth Wyn Wood, observes, “One of the main attributes of Project of Heart is that it provides an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of the past to issues that are continuing today. Sylvia has been able to create an educational experience that has direct relevance to the news headlines of December 2011.”

Smith herself says, “Project of Heart is something that belongs to all who embrace it.  Indeed, it is the collective aspect of the Project that gives it its strength. I am honoured to be the name attached to it.”

Contact:
IPSMO: ipsmo@riseup.net

For more information:

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