Author Archives: Red Power Media, Staff

Mohawks take PM to task over unanswered land claims on 30th anniversary of Oka crisis

Mohawks from Kahnawake on Montreal’s South Shore stage a rolling protest on Route 132 to the Mercier Bridge on Saturday, July 11, 2020, to mark the anniversary of the start of 1990 Oka Crisis. JOHN MAHONEY / Mont

Members of the traditional longhouse organized the convoys to commemorate the historical event — a 78-day standoff between Quebec Mohawks and Canadian soldiers over the proposed expansion of a golf course in Oka.

Mohawks from Kanesatake to Kahnawake took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task Saturday for failing to answer their centuries-old land claims on the 30th anniversary of the start of the Oka crisis.

A convoy of about 100 vehicles carrying Kahnawake residents — many of them sporting Mohawk flags — crossed the Mercier Bridge into LaSalle and back Saturday morning as part of a “rolling blockade” to commemorate the event.

Hours later, a second caravan — this time, carrying Kanesatake residents — took over Route 344 northwest of Montreal though a new development in an area used by Mohawk farmers for generations. Many onlookers stood on their front porch and waved.

Members of the traditional longhouse organized the convoys to commemorate the historical event — a 78-day standoff between Quebec Mohawks and Canadian soldiers over the proposed expansion of a golf course in Oka.

Three decades later, the impasse over land rights remains unresolved — despite Trudeau’s numerous pledges to work toward reconciliation and foster a “nation-to-nation” dialogue with Indigenous communities.

“The summer of 1990 serves as a reminder that the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) are willing to defend their land and protect their people, by any means necessary,” Joe Deom, a spokesperson for the Kahnawake longhouse, told a small gathering in the village Saturday. “The same holds true, 30 years later.”

Ellen Gabriel, a member of Kanesatake’s longhouse, later read the same statement in her community.

Organizers chose to hold rolling blockades instead of marches because of the coronavirus pandemic and the contamination risks that would have resulted from demonstrators being in close proximity to each other, Gabriel told reporters.

The demonstrations come as Kanesatake’s Mohawks continue to fight residential developments in nearby Oka they say would encroach on the pine forest they planted nearly 200 years ago.

“Under Canada’s constitution, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could intervene and stop all development that’s taking place here, and he refuses,” Gabriel said. Indigenous relations minister Carolyn Bennett “is part of that problem of refusing and trying to silence the voice” of First Nations peoples, she added.

“We are fighting for our land.”

Gabriel and her fellow citizens were joined in Kanesatake by New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh and one of his MPs, Manitoba’s Leah Gazan. Singh said he came to Kanesatake “as an ally” to listen, fight for justice and ensure contested lands are returned to First Nations peoples.

He also took time to reflect on the events of 1990, saying: “What happened on this land was the beginning of a powerful movement. Future movements were all inspired by the strength and resilience of the people here. Thirty years later, the lessons have not been learned. The same problem continues.”

Gazan was more blunt.

“There will never be reconciliation in Canada in the absence of justice,” she said. “The people of Kanesatake have waited for over 300 years for this justice, and their justice continues to be infringed upon. It is time that this longstanding land dispute be resolved, that it gets the attention that it deserves from the current federal government to act now. The people of the longhouse have waited long enough for justice.”

The message — and the anger — was the same in Kahnawake.

Trudeau “has made a lot of promises,” a Kahnawake resident who identified herself as Kaherihshon told the Montreal Gazette in an interview. “He’s talked a really good talk about all the things he was going to do to settle the issues of the First Nations people. What has he done to make anything right? What has he done to settle these land claims? There’s nothing that has been done that has made a difference so far. If he wants real truth and reconciliation, then he has to really sit down with the people and say: ‘What do we have to do to make this better? How are we going to help the people?’ ”

Asked what it would take for reconciliation to begin, Gabriel answered: “Land back. It’s going to be an uncomfortable discussion, but when are we going to have it?”

The Montreal Gazette, July, 11, 2020.

[SOURCE]

Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review

Protesters against the Dakota Access oil pipeline stand on a burned-out truck near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Nov. 21.(James MacPherson / Associated Press)

FARGO, N.D. — A judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down for additional environmental review more than three years after it began pumping oil — handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and delivering a blow to U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to weaken public health and environmental protections it views as obstacles to businesses.

In a 24-page order, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., wrote that he was “mindful of the disruption” that shutting down the pipeline would cause, but that it must be done within 30 days. Pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners plans to ask a court to halt the order and will seek an expedited appeal, spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

The order comes after Boesberg said in April that a more extensive review was necessary than what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already conducted and that he would consider whether the pipeline should be shuttered during the new assessment.

“The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect,” Boasberg wrote Monday.

“Yet, given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” he added.

The findings may challenge the legal footing for the Trump administration’s most momentous environmental rollbacks. Trump surrounded himself with industry leaders and workers in hard hats this January when he announced plans to overhaul the rules for enforcing NEPA.

The Dakota Access pipeline was the subject of months of protests in 2016 and 2017, sometimes violent, during its construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The tribe pressed litigation against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa and to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886 kilometre) pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and fears pollution.

“This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners contends proper procedures were followed in granting the original easement for the pipeline, Granado said.

“The economic implications of the Judge’s order are too big to ignore and we will do all we can to ensure its continued operation,” she said. “Billions of dollars in tax and royalty revenue will be lost by state, local and tribal governments in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Farmers will suffer as crude transportation will move to rail, displacing corn, wheat and soy crops that would normally be moved to market. Ironically, the counties along these rail lines will face increased environmental risks due to the increased amount of crude oil travelling by rail.”

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, decried what he called a “shocking” ruling and noted that the pipeline is moving 570,000 barrels of Bakken oil a day.

Before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the U.S. oil industry, daily oil production in North Dakota — the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas — was at a near-record 1.45 million barrels daily. The state’s output slipped to below 1 million barrels daily in May amid low energy prices and sparse demand.

Permits for the project were originally rejected by the Obama administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers prepared to conduct a full environmental review. In February 2017, after Trump took office, the Corps scrapped the review and granted permits, concluding that running the pipeline under the Missouri River posed no significant environmental issues.

The Corps said that opinion was validated after an additional year of review, as ordered by Boasberg, an Obama appointee, in 2017.

Boasberg ruled then that the Corps “largely complied” with environmental law when permitting the pipeline but ordered more review because he said the agency did not adequately consider how an oil spill under the Missouri River might affect the Standing Rock Sioux’s fishing and hunting rights, or whether it might disproportionately affect the tribal community.

The Associated Press, Published Monday, July 6, 2020.

[SOURCE]

Chiefs urge Tiny House Warriors to end pipeline protest camp in B.C.’s central Interior

The Tiny House Warriors camp at Blue River, B.C., about 230 kilometres north of Kamloops in the province’s central Interior. The protest camp is located near the route of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project running from Edmonton to Metro Vancouver. (Brittney McNabb)

Workers on Secwépemc traditional lands have been threatened, chiefs say. Occupiers reject their authority

Chiefs of two First Nations in B.C.’s central Interior are urging anti-pipeline protesters to pack up and leave an uninvited encampment on their traditional territory.

But a leader of the Tiny House Warriors village says they do not recognize the authority of the elected chiefs to make that call.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, Chiefs Shelly Loring of the Simpcw First Nation and Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said the Tiny House Warriors at Blue River have violated Secwépemc laws and customs.

“The interactions that I have witnessed are violent in nature,” Loring said in an interview with CBC Daybreak Kamloops’ Doug Herbert.

“We thought that it was our responsibility to stand up and say this has to stop,” Loring said. “This is enough.”

The chiefs said protest camp members were not invited and do not speak for the two First Nations located near Barriere and Kamloops, along the North and South Thompson Rivers. The Tiny House Warriors village at Blue River is located about 230 kilometres north of Kamloops near the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Loring said the Simpcw Nation gave free, prior and informed consent for Trans Mountain to build and operate the new pipeline.

The First Nation operates a company that provides security for the project. Loring said protesters are increasingly aggressive in almost daily interactions with the Indigenous and non-Indigenous security workers.

Simpcw First Nation Chief Shelly Loring (left) and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir issued a statement July 2 saying the Tiny House Warriors are violating the First Nations laws and customs and urging them to vacate their camp at Blue River, B.C. (Simpcw First Nation)

“Some of our individuals that have been threatened. We’ve had some of our individuals that have been spit on. They have been recorded without their permission,” she said.

“There’s been a number of negative interactions that have been occurring and this has been ongoing for the last two years.”

Kanahus Manuel, a resident of the Tiny House Warriors village and its spokesperson, said in a phone interview that a statement will be issued shortly from lawyers for the group in response to what she described as false allegations against the protest camp members.

Manuel said she rejects the chiefs’ call for the Tiny House Warriors to stand down from their protest because the chief-and-council system has been unilaterally imposed by the federal government with no authority over traditional lands outside their own reserve.

Band chiefs’ authority challenged

“Federal Indian Bands are not the rightful or collective title holders.” Manuel said. “Therefore they can’t make decisions regarding our collective territories.”

Earlier this week Kamloops Thompson MLA Peter Milobar said he had met with British Columbia’s solicitor general over concerns about the protest group and its impact on nearby residents and businesses.

Loring said the First Nation shares concerns expressed by the protesters for the safety of women and girls in the communities affected by the pipeline construction boom. However, the Tiny House protesters have not spoken with her about the situation.

Among 19 women from the Simpcw First Nation are working on the Trans Mountain project, she said, “they report positive experiences — and no serious incidents.”

On Thursday the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the last remaining court challenge to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, refusing to hear an appeal from several First Nations against the project.

Loring said she is now concerned that more protesters will be coming from across the country to join the Tiny House camp.

The Tiny House Warriors pipeline protesters set up camps at Blue River two years ago to try to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. (Simpcw First Nation)

By: CBC News · Posted: Jul 02, 2020

[SOURCE]

Winnipeg Bear Clan board member should step down following social media posts: co-founder

Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel. CBC News

The head of Winnipeg’s Bear Clan says he wants a board member gone after a series of Twitter posts, including one where she allegedly suggested people who want police budgets reduced be blocked from calling 911.

The tweets from Rejeanne Caron’s twitter account are no longer publicly viewable, but Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel said they were “problematic to the highest level.”

“It’s remarkable and shocking that we could have somebody with that mindset in our group for so long,” Favel said.

CBC News reached Caron, who declined to comment.

In her Twitter profile, Caron identifies herself as a frontline police officer and a former Conservative party candidate for the 2019 federal election.

Along with being a Bear Clan Board Member, she also says she’s a sex crimes investigator and francophone Métis.

“The views expressed are my own,” her bio reads.

Petition started to have Caron removed

An online petition has now been started by an unnamed Bear Clan volunteer to have Caron removed from the organization’s board.

The petition has more than 1,000 signatures. CBC News reached out to the author of the petition, who declined an interview.

The petition lists examples of some of Caron’s tweets, retweets and replies, which allegedly include denying systemic racism in policing exists and saying that Chief Adam Allan was lying after he accused Fort McMurray RCMP of assault.

Other tweets of Caron’s allegedly include calling the Black Lives Matter movement “new terrorists” and using the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, according to the petition.

She also openly criticized a number of elected representatives, including the prime minister, according to Favel.

“We are not here to vilify anyone. She’s exercising her democratic right to free speech and we respect that,” he said.

But Favel said the issue is that Bear Clan is not supposed to be political, and the views Caron is expressing are “diametrically opposed to the way we conduct ourselves and the way we think.”

CBC News has not been able to independently verify the tweets described by the petition and Favel.

‘I made a colossal mistake’: Favel

Favel, who founded the Bear Clan as an Indigenous-led, grassroots street patrol group in Winnipeg, said all volunteers and staff have to follow a code of conduct on social media posting.

If board members aren’t currently bound by the code, they should be, he said.

“I bear all the responsibility for this. I chose her to be on the board. I feel that I made a colossal mistake here,” Favel said.

Caron is currently still a board member, which she has been since 2018, Favel confirmed.

It will be up to the board to remove her, he said.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer. She should be asked to step down, but they haven’t done that yet,” he said. “The board needs to be responsive to this, and needs to act quicker.”

Board meeting to discuss future of Caron

Board chair Brian Chrupalo, who is also a police officer, said the board plans to meet to discuss the future of Caron soon.

Chrupalo said they’ll hear all sides of the story before making a decision, and will be making more comments in the future.

“I hope people aren’t going to judge the whole organization based on one incident, which again, I don’t have the full details of,” Chrupalo said.

The board had previously posted to The Bear Clan’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted.

“The board of Bear Clan Patrol wishes to state unequivocally that these comments do not in any way represent the views of the board of Bear Clan Inc.,” the post previously read.

By CBC News, posted on June 30, 2020.

[SOURCE]

Why are Indigenous people in Canada so much more likely to be shot and killed by police?

Chantel Moore’s mother Martha Martin, centre, participates in a healing walk from the Madawaska Malaseet reserve to Edmundston’s town square honour Moore in Edmundston, N.B. on Saturday June 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Stephen MacGillivray)

An Indigenous person in Canada is more than 10 times more likely to have been shot and killed by a police officer in Canada since 2017 than a white person in Canada.

A CTV News analysis reveals that of the 66 people shot and killed by police in that time frame for whom race or heritage could be identified, 25 were Indigenous.

That’s nearly 40 per cent of the total. Adjusted for population based on 2016 census data, it means 1.5 out of every 100,000 Indigenous Canadians have been shot and killed by police since 2017, versus 0.13 out of every 100,000 white Canadians.

“It’s totally alarming,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde told CTVNews.ca via telephone from Ottawa on June 17.

“This is not acceptable, it’s not right in 2020, but the trends are there.”

The disparity doesn’t stop there. Citing Statistics Canada data and various academic studies, a 2019 report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) found several other ways in which the Canadian justice system disproportionately targets Indigenous Canadians, including:

  • Indigenous Canadians are 11 times more likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to be accused of homicide
  • Indigenous Canadians are 56 per cent more likely to be victims of crime than other Canadians
  • In 2016, Indigenous Canadians represented 25 per cent of the national male prison population and 35 per cent of the national female prison population

“Why is it that we’re 4.5 per cent of the population in Canada as First Nations people, but yet the jails are full of our people?” Bellegarde said.

Those who study the intersection of Indigenous Canadians and Canadian-style policing say the answer to that question cannot be found in what happens as cases make their way through the criminal justice system. Nor can it be found in what happens after police arrive at the scene of an incident, or in what happens as officers are dispatched.

The issues that lead to Indigenous Canadians facing overrepresentation in the Canadian justice system have roots that stretch years, decades, even generations into the past, experts say – and will never be addressed if attention isn’t paid to injustices in other parts of the system.

“The conversation needs to be about systemic racism, and the continued colonial constructs that set up too many of these highly dangerous encounters,” Norm Taylor, an executive adviser who has worked with police leaders and provincial governments on issues related to community safety, told CTVNews.ca via telephone from Oshawa, Ont. on June 17.

A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM

Taylor was one of the 11 experts on policing in Indigenous communities who put together the CCA report, which found that the current Indigenous overrepresentations in the justice system are directly linked to historical mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.

They’re also tied to the worse outcomes faced by Indigenous Canadians when it comes to poverty, mental health, addictions and other socioeconomic factors that are considered risk factors for negative encounters with the justice system.

“If you look at your sample, in the vast majority of those cases, you’re going to find … they’re people with a host of risk factors operating, and the system has failed them,” Taylor said.

“In many instances, the subject will hold similar contempt for the health-care system, child welfare, schools and any other elements of the state-run human services, because the system has not served them well. It has not served their families well.”

The CCA report also concluded that moving away from these approaches and improving Indigenous health and well-being can best be achieved by adapting policing approaches to meet the needs of Indigenous communities, focusing on relationships and building trust rather than law enforcement.

Many of these themes are echoed in the recommendations in the 2019 report from the inquiry examining the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, which are aimed at adding new mechanisms to ensure policing agencies meet the needs of the communities they serve.

These ideas may sound prescient now, as calls to defund the police gather steam across North America, but they’re hardly new. Academics and Indigenous leaders have been touting them for decades, and many police leaders have more recently followed suit.

“Officers are doing the job that is asked, and often they’re doing it under difficult and high-risk circumstances,” Taylor said.

“One of the questions we have to be asking is ‘Is it the job they should be doing? Are they adequately prepared to deal with all the intercultural mistrust? Do they even have the skills to provide a trauma-informed perspective?'”

‘KEEP PUSHING’

Advice along these lines – which Taylor describes as “more about public health than … about policing” can be found in report after report after report presented to governments going back to the last century. While some parts of the country have slowly been moving in this direction, Bellegarde said the continued deaths of Indigenous Canadians at the hands of police are proof that much more needs to be done.

“The complacency of governments for lack of implementation of these reports and the recommendations therein is killing our people,” he said.

Specific starting points for action could include making policing an essential service on reserves, guaranteeing stable funding levels for community leaders to rely on, Bellegarde said, as well as creating civilian police oversight bodies for communities that use the RCMP, increased screening for racial biases during the recruitment process, adding more Indigenous representation in positions of authorities and potentially redirecting some police funding to dedicated mental health response teams.

Although pushing for these changes has long been an exercise in frustration, Bellegarde said he is hopeful that the current wave of protests for justice reform will bear fruit.

“We have to take advantage of the groundswell of support. We have to keep pushing harder,” he said.

By Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca, published Friday, June 19, 2020

[SOURCE]