Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds Land Rights of Indigenous People

A member of Brazil’s riot police trains his gun at Brazilian Indians. Photograph: Gregg Newton/Reuters

Land rights activists applaud rejection of case brought by Brazilian state that claimed it was due compensation for award of territory to native inhabitants

The Brazilian supreme court has ruled in favour of two tribes in a case that is being hailed as a significant victory for indigenous land rights.

The unanimous decision – which went against the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – settled a dispute over land traditionally occupied by indigenous people and ordered the authorities to respect the demarcation of land.

Amid increasing conflict over land and diminishing rights for indigenous people in the country, the south-western Brazilian state had sought compensation of about 2bn reais (£493m) from the Brazilian government after land was declared as the territory of the Nambikwara and Pareci tribes.

A third case, involving Rio Grande do Sul state, was adjourned for 15 days.

“This is an important step towards achieving justice for indigenous people in Brazil,” said Tonico Benites, a Guarani leader. “This gives us hope the judiciary will protect our rights, which are guaranteed by the constitution and international law.”

Activists had feared judges would uphold a recommendation from the attorney general’s office that any tribe not occupying its ancestral land when Brazil’s new constitution came into force on 5 October 1988 would lose its right to live there – a time limit that had been called the worst blow to indigenous rights since the military dictatorship ended in 1985.

But Sarah Shenker, a campaigner with Survival International, said feelings were running high in Brazil against indigenous rights: “If the judges apply the same thinking in the third ruling, in theory [indigenous] land rights should be protected. But there is such a strong anti-indigenous campaign in Brazil at the moment that we have to be very careful.”

Benites said indigenous leaders would now work to overturn the 1988 cut-off date – a plan signed by President  Michel Temer last month and which critics claim is to win favour with the powerful agribusiness lobby, known as the ruralistas.

The deadline would not only halt new demarcations of indigenous land but also legitimise claims by ranchers and wealthy farmers who have long coveted Indian territories.

“It is a very cynical move,” said Juliana de Paula Batista, a lawyer working with the Socio-environmental Institute in Brasilia. “Since many indigenous people were violently expelled from their ancestral land in the colonial and military eras, they could not possibly have been living on this land in 1988.”

Campaigners have claimed Temer is using land rights as a bargaining chip to shore up his unpopular government.

Luiz Henrique Eloy Amado, a lawyer for Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (Apib), said: “The Temer government wants to remain at all costs, which requires the votes of the ruralista bloc.”

The attorney general’s recommendation of a time limit was greeted as a triumph in a video by ruralista federal deputy Luiz Carlos Heinze, potentially resulting in the dismissal of 90% of ongoing indigenous land claims. Hundreds of indigenous territories around Brazil are awaiting demarcation.

The Guarani-Kaiowás occupy only a fraction of their ancestral territories in Mato Grosso do Sul and their decades-long struggle has caused violent conflict with cattle ranchers and soy and sugar cane farmers.

Fiona Watson, director of campaigns for Survival International, estimated that 45,000 Guarani-Kaiowás would lose rights to land under the proposed cut-off point, as would other tribes across the south and north-east.

The 1988 deadline, the marco temporal, has triggered major protests across Brazil, organised by the Apib under the banner: “Our history did not start in 1988, no to the time limit”. Hundreds of people converged on Brasilia for the supreme court ruling on Wednesday.

Last week, 48 indigenous organisations and civil society bodies signed a letter to the UN high commissioner for human rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, denouncing violations since the 2016 visit of UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus, who noted a “worrying regression in the protection of indigenous people’s rights”.

Brazil has experienced a rise in homicides related to rural land disputes, with 37 people killed in the first five months of this year, eight more than died over the same period in 2016, according to the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit group.

Eliseu Lopes, a Guarani leader from Mato Grosso do Sul, expressed relief at the outcome: “The land conflict is already killing us. Imagine what it would be like if the proposal were approved,” he said. “It would legitimise the violence against us. The vote doesn’t solve all our problems, but it gives us some breathing space.”

By the Guardian published on August 17, 2017 

[SOURCE]

Native Americans Protest Christopher Columbus’ Ship Replicas in Traverse City

Native Americans protested the arrival of two Christopher Columbus’ replica ships in Traverse City on Wednesday night.

Members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians surrounded the ships and stood by on land as the Nina and Pinta pulled in. Some sign-carrying protesters in kayaks went to out “meet” the ships at West Grand Traverse Bay.

Officials with the tribe said the ships are a painful reminder of the past.

Timothy Grey of Traverse City called the replicas “floating monuments of a 500-year holocaust” and added that “being in a time period now where monuments and symbolisms of things in the past are so contentious….allowing these ships to dock here is dangerous.”

“That’s not right, those things should not be here, they are terrifying, they symbolize nothing but genocide, nothing more”  – Timothy Grey.

The ships arrived to offer tours for what some consider a celebration of American history.

Columbus ship replicas arrive. Credit: The Columbus Foundation

The tall-ship replicas from Christopher Columbus‘ sailing fleet — built and sailed by The Columbus Foundation — will be docked at Clinch Park Marina for tours Aug. 18-22.

A company statement from The Columbus Foundation said it wasn’t looking to create “heroes or villains,” but built the ships to create historically accurate replicas.

While the Columbus Foundation emphasizes educating the public on ship design and shipbuilding as central to its core mission, it alludes to controversy surrounding Columbus on its website under a heading titled “Best Reasons To Visit the Niña and Pinta.”

“In most ways, the boats are no different from any of the various tourist activities offered throughout the area by representing the past in present replica physical form,” the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians wrote in a press release. “But in several critical ways, they are uniquely damaging, because the replica ships represent the narrative of “discovery” of the “new world” by European claimants and the devastating consequences of the “discovery” for indigenous people. The Nina and Pinta are symbols of a standard and system of thought that should be repugnant to the American ideals of equality and property rights for all people. Indeed, Traverse City, along with other local and state governments, now recognizes “Indigenous Peoples Day” on Columbus Day to support this paradigm shift.”

The Maritime Heritage Alliance says this is a good time for the tribe to share their story and says this is an important reminder to everyone that there are two sides to every story.

The tribe will be at Clinch Park Marina throughout the weekend passing out information and protesting.

First Nation Questions Relationship with Canada Following Court Ruling

Myeengun Henry, then a band councillor for Chippewas of the Thames. – Marta Iwanek / Toronto Star

Meaningful engagement with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources

by Myeengun Henry

I write on behalf of my First Nation in relation to the recent decision from the Supreme Court of Canada regarding .Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., 2017 SCC 41, which leaves our members questioning the meaning of an ongoing nation-to-nation relationship with the Canadian government.

This decision, which allows Enbridge to reverse the flow and increase capacity of crude oil on the Line 9 Pipeline, significantly impacts our community and its members, and as you may expect, has not been well received.

Though the National Energy Board failed to fully recognize and respect our Aboriginal and treaty rights, the Supreme Court upheld the NEB process nonetheless. The question the court failed to address is what recourse does our nation have to protect its rights going forward?

What if a tribunal, such as the NEB, improperly addresses or fails to recognize an Aboriginal right with no Crown oversight. As a final decision maker, what recourse would a First Nation have to then protect its rights? A decision from the NEB can effectively extinguish an Aboriginal and/or treaty right.

It is clear the courts are not prepared to protect our constitutionally entrenched rights. And now we must question what the government is prepared to do? Offering our nation an opportunity to participate in fundamentally inadequate consultations does not preserve the “honour of the Crown” and completely ignores our historical treaty relationship.

The decision of the Supreme Court has an immediate and chilling effect on our nation. We are currently inundated with applications on numerous resource development projects. We are most concerned that the Crown will fully adopt the reasoning of the Supreme Court and completely rely on any and all regulatory processes to satisfy its duty to consult. Such a result is not acceptable.

The Supreme Court’s ruling allows the Canadian government to delegate a nation-to-nation relationship to resource companies who are now empowered to determine the potential impacts of our nation’s constitutionally protected rights without any direct Crown involvement.

This is extremely troublesome and was not the intention of our people when we agreed to share in the protection and management of our land and resources as set out in our Treaties including the Longwoods Treaty of 1822; the London Township Treaty of 1796; the Sombra Treaty of 1796; Treaty No. 29 of 1827; and the McKee Treaty of 1790.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, recently released the Government of Canada’s 10 principles to assist in achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a “renewed, nation to nation, government to government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

Specifically, Canada stated, “Canada’s constitutional and legal order recognizes the reality that Indigenous peoples’ ancestors owned and governed the lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty. All of Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples are based on recognition of this fact and supported by the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the negotiation and implementation of pre- Confederation, historic, and modern treaties.”

This principle is intended to honour historic treaties as frameworks for living together, including the modern expression of these relationships. In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the accompanying Treaty at Niagara, 1764, many Indigenous nations and the Crown historically relied on treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their relationships.

The treaty relationship between the Chippewas nation and the Crown is a foundation for ongoing co-operation and partnership. The spirit and intent of both Indigenous and Crown parties to treaties, as reflected in oral and written histories, must inform constructive partnerships, based on the recognition of rights, that support full and timely treaty implementation.

To protect our rights and way of life the Chippewas of the Thames have developed our own consultation law (Deshkan Ziibiing/Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Wiindmaagewin), which is now being enforced within our traditional territory.

Our own consultation law will now be provided to any and all developers operating or intending to operate within our traditional territory. Further to the Canadian government’s guiding principles our nation will be asserting our own self-determination with respect to consultation within our territory.

Meaningful engagement with our nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources. It is through the assertion and enforcement of our own laws that we can guarantee our lands and territory are properly protected for the enjoyment of future generations.

– Myeengun Henry is chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation

Article originally published in the Toronto Star on Aug. 11, 2017

[SOURCE]

FBI Raid Home of Women Who Claimed Responsibility for DAPL Sabotage


By Black Powder | RPM Staff

Friday morning federal agents raided a Des Moines Catholic Worker House where two women who’ve claimed responsibility for vandalizing the Dakota Access Pipeline were staying.

Last month, during a press conference outside the Iowa Utilities Board headquarters, Catholic workers and activists, Jessica Reznicek, 36 and Ruby Montoya, 27, revealed they secretly carried out multiple acts of sabotage including burning millions of dollars in construction equipment at pipeline locations across Iowa and other states. The two were then arrested for damaging a sign outside the Iowa Utilities Board building.

“Using tires and gasoline-soaked rags we burned multiple valve sites, their electrical units, as well as heavy equipment located on DAPL easements throughout Iowa,” said Montoya.

A burned hole was discovered at a valve site in Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reports, about 30 law enforcement personnel, led by agents armed with guns who identified themselves as being from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, entered the catholic workers house just north of downtown Des Moines shortly after 6 a.m.

The agents left about 10:30 a.m. with boxes and sealed bags of property they had seized. There were no arrests or injuries during the raid.

Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya

Reznicek and Montoya were at the house on Friday.

According to KIWARadio.com, Alex Cohen, part of the “Mississippi Stand” group that sought to halt the pipeline’s extension from southeast Iowa across the river into Illinois, said the women told him that they were kept on the front porch of the house as the agents conducted the search inside.

Cohen says the women consider some of the materials seized during the raids to be protected by the attorney-client privilege and, now that it’s in the hands of federal authorities, it will hurt the chances at a fair trial.

Both women, who remain free on bond, say they were fighting a “private corporation” and “never threatened human life nor personal property” with their actions.

In the past, Reznicek has been arrested multiple times in various protests.

Montoya was most recently charged in a protest over a pipeline in Tennessee.

RELATED:

In 2014, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline developed by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. Months of demonstrations by thousands of opponents sought to halt construction of the four-state pipeline from North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.

Demonstrators Vow to Maintain Blockade For ‘As Long As It Takes’

Friday marked the second straight day of protesters blocking off one of the main roads into Caledonia.

“We’re still here, and we’re staying here as long as it takes,” said Doreen Silversmith, one of several protesters who spent the day at the Argyle Street blockade.

The site carries a lot of significance in the area, as it’s the same spot blocked for several weeks during the 2006 dispute over the Douglas Creek Estates.

The protesters are supporters of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, who are backing Kristine Hill.

Hill has been farming on the Burtch lands, a Brant County property that once housed a correctional facility, for the past three years.

Earlier this year, the province turned the land over to a corporation controlled by the Six Nations elected council – which has been working to evict Hill.

That case has been making its way through the court system. It was most recently in court Thursday, for a hearing on a contempt of court motion alleging Hill was on the property after being told to stay off it. That hearing was adjourned with no decision made.

The chiefs council says the Burtch lands were supposed to be given to them, instead of the elected council, as part of the resolution of the 2006 land dispute.

The protesters have demanded that the elected council stop pursuing legal action against Hill, that the Burtch lands are returned to the Haudenosaunee council, and that the provincial and federal governments return to negotiations with the Haudenosaunee council.

Through her lawyer, Hill told CTV News that she was not involved in the blockade and had nothing to do with its formation.

Police say they’re monitoring the situation closely.

“We’re working with the groups involved, and we’re just asking the public to remain calm and patient while we work through this,” OPP Const. Rod LeClair told reporters.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa

CTV Kitchener

[SOURCE]

First Nation wants Controversial Sculpture by New York Artist Taken Down

The Bowfort Towers

A First Nation near Calgary is calling on the city to remove a controversial piece of public art that has previously drawn criticism from those who don’t like the $500,000 price tag as well as those who just don’t like its looks.

On Tuesday, Kevin Littlelight of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation lambasted the sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park.

Littlelight called the sculpture — consisting of steel beams and Alberta rundle stones — offensive, saying it appears to emulate Indigenous burial scaffolding.

Littlefield said the First Nation believes that attempting to reflect Indigenous symbolism without collaborating with local artists and elders “is not reflective of other recent steps by Calgary City Hall to respect Treaty 7 Nations.”

Geist, who grew up in North Dakota, has previously said he did speak with Blackfoot elders and has said the use of four towers in the piece is a nod to the traditional significance of the number, but has denied accusations of cultural appropriation.

The use of rock and steel has long been a staple for the artist, whose work has been displayed around the world for more than 40 years.

“As an artist, using the natural sciences as a palette, he has developed major site-specific artworks throughout the U.S. and Europe,” reads the biography on his website.

“His environmental artworks elicit unique qualities inherent to a place, fostering a viewer’s direct sensory experience. The stone and earth, metaphorically, contain the natural history of a region and its geology, capturing the spirit and flavour of an area.”

City councillor Sean Chu, a vocal opponent of public funding for the arts, called the sculpture “the worst kind of wasteful spending of tax dollars” while many on social media have criticized the look of the piece. One person suggested it belonged in a recycling bin.

Indigenous artist Adrian Stinson argued it’s up to municipalities to do a better job of vetting art projects.

“The artist needs to show the group what they’re working on so that people can actually give input to say, ‘oh you know, there’s a red flag — that’s too close to a brutal platform, you might want to rethink that because you’re going to offend people,’ ” he said.

Littlelight said this could be an opportunity for the city to learn from its failures, adding the First Nation would like to see elders and cultural experts help in the next step moving forward.

“There’s great artists that are Albertans, Aboriginal artists that are Albertans, southern Albertans, cowboys, Indians, that should be our focus and we should be pushing that,” he said. “Nobody comes to Calgary to look at New York art.”

He said he has some empathy for Geist.

“I can’t really speak for him but it is a strike out,” he said. “What do you do? You have to rebuild and if I was the artist I would reach out to the art community of Treaty 7 and redo things. Diego Rivera was a great artist, he had to redo art all the time, it’s no different here.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

MMIWG Families Slam ‘Colonial’ Inquiry Process, Demand Hard Reset

Marion Buller chief commissioner of national inquiry. (CP)

Relatives, supporters says their concerns have been ignored by commissioners, minister

Dozens of family members, activists and academics have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding the “deeply misguided” inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls be scrapped and restarted with a new panel of commissioners.

The coalition says relatives have been shut out of the process and that commissioners are on a path that will not lead to the successful fulfillment of the inquiry’s mandate.

“They have continually dismissed our concerns, refused to take steps to rebuild trust, and have maintained a deeply misguided approach that imposes a harmful, colonial process on us,” the letter reads. “This has and continues to create trauma as well as insecurity and a lack of safety for our families, communities, and loved ones.”

Families wrote a letter complaining about being excluded three months ago, but say their deep-seated concerns were ignored. The letter was used only to pit families against families, the coalition said.

Families and supporters are also accusing Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett of dismissing their concerns.

A statement from the minister’s office said the government remains committed to ending the “ongoing national tragedy,” and that the inquiry’s terms of reference require that families be central to the commission’s work.

After meeting with the commissioners, Bennett was satisfied they had a plan and dedication to address families’ concerns, which will adapt as the inquiry progresses.

‘Immediate action’

The statement said the government is working in the meantime with Inuit, First Nations and Métis partners to honour the lost and to advance reconciliation.

“We’ve taken immediate action with a new gender-based violence strategy, changes to the child and family welfare system for Indigenous children, safe housing, shelters and work with British Columbia towards safe transport on the Highway of Tears,” the statement reads.

The inquiry has been plagued with problems, including staff departures and last month’s resignation by Marilyn Poitras, a Métis professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She cited issues with the “current structure” of the inquiry, which is set to get underway this fall.

But the letter from relatives and supporters says too much damage has been done and too much time has lapsed to rebuild trust now.

Instead of drawing on Indigenous knowledge and practices, the inquiry has been rooted in a colonial model that prioritizes a Eurocentric medical and legal framework, it reads.

“Such an approach is rooted in a broader culture of colonial violence that is inherently exploitative towards Indigenous peoples and causes ongoing trauma and violence for us as families,” the letter says.

Health, legal and community relations team workers for the inquiry are scheduled to be in two Saskatchewan cities this week to meet with families who wish to participate.

The teams are in Regina and Saskatoon to get in contact with families who want to participate in the truth gathering process which will be held in Saskatoon in November.

Source: CBC News

‘Do Something Now!’: Indigenous Activists Plead for Action in Youth Suicide Crisis


A group that has been camped out at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada offices for two weeks marched down Yonge St. Friday to demand government action on northern Ontario’s suicide crisis.

Staff | Toronto Star

Beneath Friday’s pouring rain and dark skies, a group of Indigenous women continue the fight against northern Ontario’s suicide crisis outside the offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on St. Clair Ave.

They’ve been at it for more than two weeks. Geoffey Daybutch, who was asked to join the women outside INAC three days earlier to serve as a male voice from the First Nations community, stands guard as a man brushes past him with groceries and tells him to get off the sidewalk.

For Daybutch, this crisis hits close to home.

“The stories that are coming out from the suicide crisis is that some of the older children from the families are making their choice to commit suicide so that the younger kids will have enough food to eat,” he says, struggling to get the words out.

Daybutch is in Toronto because he too made that choice.

“This is a personal thing that I haven’t told anybody here: that’s why I left my home,” he says, tears in his eyes and barely able to talk.

“When we had my youngest brother, I knew we were struggling so I told my family I’ll come down to the city, I’ll leave so that there’s enough food for everyone. I never came up with the choice to off myself. I made the choice to come down south and make a difference and here I am.”

On Friday night, a few dozen activists marched their cause up Yonge St. to the office of Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in a vigil for the nearly 300 under-20 Indigenous youth who’ve taken their lives in Northern Ontario since 1986.

Once the march began, and two lanes of traffic were blocked, lineups of cars waited patiently while others blared their horns in anger as drum rolls sounded out and flags and signs were carried north on Yonge St.

This is the second time in a year the activists have come to INAC to demand the federal government follow through on an election promise made to address a state of emergency declared last April by the northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat.

The state of emergency came after 100 people, including children, tried to kill themselves in the community of only 2,000.

On July 24, Indigenous leaders met with the federal government in Ottawa. Another meeting was arranged for September.

Out of the July meeting came four already-promised mental health workers for the northern community of Wapekeka and 20 more for Pikangikum, which is now the suicide capital of the world after five youth suicides last month, according to the vigil’s organizers.

“They have reneged and they’re going to have a meeting in September when they’re finished their holidays and vacation time,” says organizer Sigrid Kneve, two days after someone woke her up in the middle of the night to inform her that another Indigenous youth had taken her life.

This year alone, there have been more than 20 suicides in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which is located in northern Ontario and represents 49 First Nations communities.

“Since that meeting when they decided to have the meeting in September, another young person has killed themselves,” adds Kneve. “We want them to do something now! We don’t understand how it’s out of sight and out of mind.”

Outside their sidewalk tent, Toronto police frequently visit, stopping to check in and make sure they’re OK.

Bennett, too, often meets with them. But they say they are still awaiting action.

“How many young people are going to commit suicide from now until September?” asks Kneve.

For now, Daybutch waits on a sidewalk he has claimed as his own until his friends and family get the support he feels they deserve.

This story originally published Here.


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Frustration Mounts as Land Dispute Continues in Oka, Que.

A sign is erected in Kanesatake, Que., where a housing project threatens a piece of land known as The Pines. (Steve Bonspiel/Facebook)

Residents of Mohawk community call on federal government to intervene in dispute over housing development

CBC News Posted: Aug 02, 2017

Frustration continues to mount in Kanesatake, Que., where residents of the Mohawk community are once again rallying to protect a stand of trees known as The Pines from encroaching development.

A protest was held on Tuesday near a housing project, Domaines des Collines d’Oka, about 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

The development is on land which is part of the Kanesatake Mohawks’ decades-old unresolved land claim.

The tension comes nearly three decades after an explosive and historic conflict erupted in the same area between the community, Sûreté du Québec and the Canadian Army.

Now, the Mohawks want Canada to intervene.

“The government and all the Crown actors need to act to stop the land fraud that’s been going on for 300 years,” said Ellen Gabriel, a resident of the community who become known to many as a spokesperson during the Oka Crisis in 1990.

“Stop the development that is depriving this generation and will deprive future generations from enjoying our lands as they become privatized and urbanized.”

Minister invited to community

Gabriel said that on July 15, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett agreed to visit the community, but no date for that visit was set.

According to a news release issued by the Mohawks involved in Tuesday’s protest, “Minister Bennett also stated that she did not know what ‘they could do.'”

CBC News asked Indigenous Affairs if the department would be intervening in the situation at Kanesetake, but has yet to receive an answer.

Mohawk leader Ellen Gabriel, far left, listens to Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon during a protest on July 12 at the site of the Collines D’Oka housing development. (Matt D’Amours/CBC)

On July 12, the developer said the project is already three-quarters finished and an additional 20 homes are planned for the disputed land.

“[The federal government] is talking about reconciliation, but this is not a good example of reconciliation as far as we’re concerned,” Gabriel said.

[SOURCE]

Jailed Indigenous Protesters Offered Release If They Agree To Stay Away From Muskrat Falls

Eldred Davis, left, signed an undertaking to stay away from Muskrat Falls site. Jim Learning and Marjorie Flowers are both under house arrest. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Majorie Flowers and Eldred Davis accept conditions; Jim Learning later accepts house arrest

CBC News Posted: Jul 31, 2017

Three Indigenous protesters jailed over a week ago at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s appeared in court today before a judge.

Majorie Flowers, Jim Learning and Eldred Davis have been jailed ever since they refused to promise a judge on July 21 they would stay away from the Muskrat Falls site.

On Monday, each protester appeared before a judge to determine whether they’ll remain in jail until their next appearance.

Davis said his time in HMP has been very difficult, and signed an undertaking promising he would comply and was released.

He’ll still be able to protest at Muskrat Falls in a location across the main gate that’s known as the “protest pad.”

Flowers’ lawyer asked she be given house arrest and the judge accepted the offer.

Learning, the eldest of the three at 79, initially refused to sign a similar undertaking.

However, later in court, Learning he did eventually agree to house arrest.

Labrador MP wants injunction dropped

In an interview with Labrador Morning on Monday,  Labrador MP Yvonne Jones said she wants Nalcor to drop the injunction preventing protesters from peacefully rallying outside of Muskrat Falls before more of them are jailed.

Majorie Flowers, Jim Learning and Eldred Davis appeared before a court Monday via video-link in St. John’s. (Submitted)

“My fear in all of this is that a lot of innocent people in Labrador who are firmly believing in standing up for their position on Muskrat Falls [are] going to be incarcerated and serve time as a result of it,” she said.

Jones believes there are other ways to discipline protesters who block access to the Muskrat Falls site or damage property than imprisoning them.

Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones says that she would like to see Nalcor drop an injuction that has put several protesters behind bars in St. John’s. (CBC)

Peaceful protest should be a hallmark of our democracy, said Jones.

“It’s a sense of being free in a democratic country and being able to stand up for what you believe in and being able to have your message heard,” she said.

Supporters deliver petition demanding release

Prior to the court appearance today, over a dozen supporters of the imprisioned protestors marched to Confederation Building from Allandale Road to deliver a petition asking that Flowers, Learning and Davis be released.

Similar protests took place in Halifax and Happy Valley-Goose Bay as well.

[SOURCE]