May 15 – Celebrate Land and Treaty Rights Defenders Grassy Narrows First Nation

 

On May 15th Grassy Narrows First Nation will be going to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to protect their lands and treaty rights.

The Keewatin appeal is the next major Aboriginal Law Case to reach the Supreme Court of Canada and covers issues of jurisdiction, duty to consult and accommodate, and treaty interpretation.

For Treaty Nations across the country, it is hard to over-emphasize the importance of the Keewatin appeal.” (First Peoples Law, Dr. Bruce Mclvor)

Join us to celebrate their efforts at a community feast.

 

Thursday May 15th, 5:30pm – 8:00pm
St. Andrews Hall, 82 Kent St. (at Wellington), Ottawa

 

Pot luck supper with presentations from community members.

https://www.facebook.com/events/318301988316981/
 

Please Donate

Please bring a dish to share if you are able. Please let us know what you plan to bring.

We are also seeking donations from supportive organizations and individuals to cover the costs of additional food, beverages and rental of the hall, honorarium for elder and drummers etc. Donations of any amount are appreciated.

Donations can be made through MiningWatch Canada’s PayPal account (*please be sure to add a “special instruction” when making the donation*). We will happily pick up cash and cheque donations or they can be made on the night of the supper.

 

Lend a Hand

Ahead of the event we can use help with fundraising and food donations.

The day of the event we would appreciate help with food prep, set up and clean up.

 

Contact

Ramsey Hart: ramsey@miningwatch.ca 613-298-4745

Tasha -Dawn Doucette: solacetash@yahoo.ca 613-371-8274

 

Background to the Case

The Grassy Narrows or Keewatin case (named for Andrew Keewatin who is named in the court documents) argues that because forestry licenses issued to a large forestry corporation (now Resolute Forest Products) directly impact their treaty rights, Ontario does not have the authority to grant these licenses. Grassy Narrows sees Canada, not Ontario as their principal treaty partner. At the Ontario Superior Court, Grassy Narrows successfully argued that only the federal government has the authority to “take up” lands in the Keewatin. The decision was reversed upon appeal from Ontario and the company. During the appeal Wabauskang First Nation joined the case as they share the same treaty rights and challenges with Ontario authorizing resource extraction on their territory.

The court case is just one of the approaches Grassy Narrows has used to try and protect their land. They also have the longest standing active road blockade in Canada. The blockade controls access to part of their territory and actively monitor the territory for logging activity. In addition to facing industrial clear cut logging across their territory, Grassy is still recovering from the effects of their watershed being poisoned by mercury that was released by a pulp mill in the 1970s. Grassy is a community whose resilience, determination and resistance are an inspiration.

 

Links for more information:

 

 

Local activists to face Quebec judge over Barriere Lake Algonquin highway blockades

Local activists to face Quebec judge over Barriere Lake Algonquin highway blockades

by Krishna E. Bera, Lori Waller, and Greg Macdougall, with files from IPSMO

On March 18th, an Ottawa resident along with a co-defendant from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake will go to trial in a Maniwaki court on charges of obstruction of justice, mischief, and assaulting a police officer. On March 31th, three other local residents will be sentenced for similar charges. What is their grevious crime? Bringing attention to the fact that the governments of Quebec and Canada have not honoured their word.

The cases both stem from a series of peaceful highway blockades mounted in late 2008 by the Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake, or ABL), a small First Nation community located 130 km north of Maniwaki, Quebec. Solidarity activists from Ontario and Quebec joined the Mitchikanibikok Inik in two successive blockades of Highway 117, which were staged to protest the provincial and federal governments’ ongoing violation of an agreement signed with ABL over a decade ago .

As Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson for the Mitchikanibikok Inik explained in an op-ed to the Montréal Gazette: “In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably develop our traditional territories – a United Nations report called the plan an environmental ‘trailblazer.’ Yet in 1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our legitimate chief and council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside.”

The colonial pattern continued. In thirteen years of hardship and struggle from the signing of the Trilateral Agreement, it and several subsequent agreements were never fulfilled. Consequently, the Algonquins still have not seen one dime out of the $100 million extracted from their traditional territory every year by logging, hydro, and sport hunting operations. The Barriere Lake Algonquins have witnessed the continual exploitation of their lands, in violation of the Trilateral Agreement guidelines, by unsustainable extraction practices such as clearcutting. In a community where many continue to subsist off the land, this destruction of their traditional territory has directly compromised their ability to live. The exploitation of the land was coupled with strong government interference in the community’s traditional leadership selection process. Not only were the customary chief and council bypassed, but the band council was placed under third party management. Third party management constitutes the highest level of financial intervention in a community and results in a complete financial and managerial takeover. It was this that resulted in the hiring of teachers at the Barriere Lake community school who refused to allow children to speak Algonquin. This was a particularly painful throw back to the era of residential schools.

So in October 2008, after months of public education, letter writing, and visits to MPs, which prompted no response from the government, the community took the difficult decision to blockade provincial Highway 117, demanding to speak to a government representative. The blockaders were attacked within hours by police. Norman Matchewan describes the assault: “To avoid negotiations, the government allowed Monday’s peaceful blockade to be dismantled by the Sûreté du Québec, which without provocation shot tear gas canisters into a crowd of youth and elders and used severe ‘pain compliance’ to remove people clipped into lockbox barrels.”

One person was hospitalized for three days after getting shot with a tear gas canister. An Ottawa student acting in solidarity with the community characterized the government’s behaviour as a sort of warning: “Don’t fuck with us or this is what we’ll do to you”.

Unfortunately, there was still no negotiation, so the ABL erected blockades again in November 2008. This time the police response seemed deliberately appeared less violent; although community members felt clearly threatened when the police approached with teargas cannon launchers. Instead police carried out targeted arrests of community leaders, including chief Benjamin Nottaway. Arrestees were stip-searched and intimidated with what one activist called “bureaucratic violence”; an Ottawa student activist spent 24 hours in jail before being released, and an ABL community spokesperson spent five days in custody because “they couldn’t find a translator”. In all, over 40 people from the community have been arrested and charged since March 2008 and a few, including then-chief Nottaway, have served sentences in prison.

The ABL have not given up, and have no intention of surrendering aboriginal title to their land. They continue to live on the land and apply traditional management techniques where possible, preserving their language and culture, while pursuing court cases to ensure their leadership selection process is respected.

In August 2009, a 2007 private report to the federal minister of Indian Affairs was obtained under court order. The report lays out a wide-ranging set of schemes to undermine the Barriere Lake First Nation’s Customary Chief and Council and ensure that the community’s Trilateral agreement never takes on life. Couched in the language of development and progress, it demonstrates what the community has known for a long time but which the Department of Indian Affairs has always publicly denied: the federal government has refused to implement the Trilateral Agreement because it fears it would throw into question their Comprehensive Claims process, which amounts to a modern-day land grab aimed at extinguishing aboriginal title to the land. (Details on the report can be found on Barriere Lake Solidarity’s website)

In October 2009, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl sent notice to the Algonquins of Barriere Lake that he will not recognize their legitimate leadership, but instead impose elections on the community in April 2010, by invoking section 74 of the Indian Act that would abolish the customary method they use to select their leaders.

In February 2010, the ABL presented arguments in the Supreme Court of Canada defending their latest leadership selection. A couple weeks later, the court’s decision was that the selection was not held according to ABL’s customary governance code. At the time of writing, we haven’t heard from the ABL community on their legal opinion on this court decision. However, it is our opinion that the judge misinterpreted the customary governance code with inconsistent logic in his arguments, which might play a role in paving the way for the INAC to impose section 74 of the Indian Act.

Meanwhile, local activists and Barriere Lake community members are preparing for trial and/or sentencing on the charges stemming from the 2008 blockades. Support is needed in the form of presence in the courtroom and donations toward legal and research costs; if you can attend court (on March 18 and 31 in Maniwaki – rides being arranged from Ottawa) or would like to donate, please email ipsmo@riseup.net

You can read more about the Mitchikanibikok Inik and their struggle on the websites of the following groups, or by coming to one of the meetings or events in your area:
• Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa: www.ipsmo.org
• Barriere Lake Solidarity: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com

*Note: different versions of this article appeared on Linchpin.ca and in the local Peace and Environment News (PEN) paper

May 3rd: Anti-colonial walking tour of Ottawa

NO OLYMPICS ON STOLEN NATIVE LAND!

Sunday, May 3rd at 1:00pm
Near the statue of Champlain
Behind the National Gallery
(380 Sussex Drive)
Olympics Resistance Ottawa

On Sunday, May 3rd we will be going on an anti-colonial walking tour of Ottawa. We will be exploring Canada’s colonial legacy and the ongoing impact of colonization on “Ottawa”. In particular, we will be addressing the role that the Canadian government and transnational corporations are playing in the attacks on the environment, the elderly, people living in poverty, workers and migrant workers and indigenous people due to the 2010 Olympics in “B.C”.

This walk will focus on places in downtown Ottawa that are part of our pre-colonial past and our colonial present. We will talk about the little known history of different parts of Ottawa, how our colonial forebearers related to the land and the people living on the land, and how the Canadian government continues to relate to the land and the people, native and non-native. It will provide a critical perspective on the usual history of “Canada”.

The Eurocentric history that is taught in Canadian schools is a direct legacy of our colonial past and a source of on-going oppression of indigenous people in Canada. This walk is a creative and interactive way to encourage people to see the places where they live differently, to make visible the giant elephants in the room, or in this case, the city.

The walking tour will begin near the statue of the French colonialist Samuel Champlain. We will visit the Hudson’s Bay Company, Parliament Hill, the Olympic Clock, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Supreme Court, the Library and National Archives, Lebreton Flats, and Victoria Island/Chaudiere Falls.

This anti-colonial walking tour has been organized by Olympics Resistance Ottawa. ORO organizes in order to raise awareness about the destructive impacts of, and increase resistance to, the 2010 Olympics.

“Far from being simply about ‘sport’, the history of the Olympics is one rooted in displacement, corporate greed, fascism, repression, and violence. Only the political and corporate elite – from real estate developers to security corporations – have anything to gain from the Olympics industry. The effects of the upcoming Winter Games have already manifested themselves- with the expansion of sport tourism and resource extraction on indigenous lands; increasing homelessness and gentrification of poor neighbourhoods; increasing privatization of public services; union busting through imposed contracts and exploitative conditions especially for migrant labour; the fortification of the national security apparatus; ballooning public spending and public debt; and unprecedented destruction of the environment.”

http://www.no2010.com/node/941

We want to acknowledge the work and support of Jane’s Walk Ottawa.
http://www.janeswalkottawa.ca/