First Nations child advocate says child welfare system ‘eats up’ Indigenous kids

Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate at The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) in Winnipeg, Monday, February 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba First Nations children’s advocate says the child welfare system “eats up” Indigenous children and is designed to keep their families at a disadvantage.

Cora Morgan, with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, told the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women that the system is set up to apprehend children, not to support families.

“Any challenges that our families are faced with, it’s used against them instead of them being offered support. It victimizes our families,” she said Monday.

“A lot of these things are just perpetual. You can find five or six generations of a family where their children have been taken.”

The inquiry is holding hearings in Winnipeg this week and is expected to focus on child welfare.

Morgan said violence against Indigenous women and girls can be linked to child welfare because it not only removes them from their families, but also takes away their identity and self-worth.

“The system just eats up our children to the point where they lose value for life,” she said.

Manitoba has the highest per-capita rate of children in care and almost 90 per cent are Indigenous. The province said last week that the number of kids in government care dropped for the first time in 15 years to 10,328.

Morgan told the inquiry about a mother who had four children, all of whom were seized at birth primarily because of poverty.

Too much money is being spent on taking kids away from their families and not enough is invested in finding ways to keep them together, Morgan said.

“You keep hearing our government say apprehension is the last resort but it’s the first resort,” she said. “It’s always the first resort.”

Inquiry commissioners said they have heard about the effects of child welfare at every hearing. Qajaq Robinson said many people testified they were survivors of the system and that is “indicative of a huge problem.”

“Whether it’s children, who as a result of their mothers being murdered, ended up in care or women who, as a result of their children being apprehended, lost financial support or lost housing and then ended up in precarious situations having to resort to survival sex work,” she said, adding people are being failed in numerous ways.

“Every jurisdiction we have been to, I have heard it personally from witnesses,” Robinson said.

Morgan gave the inquiry a list of recommendations including supporting First Nations-led initiatives to bring children home and to stop penalizing victims of domestic violence by taking their children away.

The Canadian Press

Source: CTVNews.ca

Advertisements

Trans Mountain CEO says pipe construction could restart in 2019 on NEB timeline

CALGARY — The president and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp. says its sidelined pipeline project could be back on track by next year under a new National Energy Board hearing schedule, setting it up for a possible 2022 opening date.

The timeline unveiled by the federal pipeline regulator on Wednesday is “reasonable and fair,” said Ian Anderson, the former CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada who became head of the resulting Crown corporation when Ottawa closed its $4.5-billion purchase of the pipeline and its expansion project in early September.

He told reporters in Calgary it’s possible construction that was halted when the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the expansion project’s NEB approval in late August could be restarted in 2019.

“Sure, it’s possible,” he said. “If things go according to the timeline that’s been now started with the NEB and they have a recommendation by the middle of February and the government takes a few months for additional consultation, an order-in-council could be as early as next summer.”

He added construction is expected to take about 30 months, depending upon seasonal adjustments, which would mean the pipeline could be operational in 2022, about two years later than the most recent predicted in-service date.

The federal government approved the Trans Mountain expansion project in November 2016, following a recommendation by the NEB.

But the court cited insufficient consultation with Indigenous communities and a failure to assess the environmental impact of additional oil-tanker traffic in overturning that ruling.

Last week, the federal government ordered the NEB to go back and conduct a review of tanker traffic, paying special attention to the affect on killer whales, and issue its report no later than Feb. 22.

Environmentalists were quick to criticize the NEB’s schedule, which calls for public comments by next Wednesday on draft factors for the environmental assessment, the draft list of issues to be considered in the hearing and on the design of the hearing process itself.

Indigenous groups who are affected by the marine shipping issues but weren’t allowed to engage in the previous NEB process because of scope limits might have a difficult time preparing submissions in time, said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.

“Indigenous consultations are inextricably intertwined with review of marine impacts — orcas have important cultural significance — so charging ahead on this before sorting out the Indigenous consultation piece seems like a mistake,” he added.

Furthermore, the process is tainted by the fact that the government insists the project it now owns will be built no matter what, Stewart said.

The expansion will include a new pipeline running roughly parallel to the existing, 1,150-kilometre line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

It will nearly triple the capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

The NEB named Lyne Mercier, Alison Scott and Murray Lytle to the panel that will conduct its reconsideration of the project.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

 

 

Dozens gather along Highway 16 as teen’s remains brought home

People gather along Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears, for the return of 18-year-old Jessica Patrick’s remains. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Family says remains discovered over the weekend are those of Jessica Patrick, 18

Family and friends of an 18-year-old whose body was found near Smithers, B.C., gathered along Highway 16 as the teen’s body is brought home from Prince George.

Jessica Patrick’s remains were discovered over the weekend, nearly two weeks after she was reported missing.

Investigators haven’t confirmed the remains are Patrick’s — but family say they are certain.​

The call to gather along Highway 16 as Patrick’s body is driven home went out on Facebook Wednesday night. Many comments suggested people arrive dressed in red in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, was a young mother and a member of the Lake Babine First Nation.​

Jacquie Bowes, Patrick’s cousin, said those coming together along the road — also known as the Highway of Tears — are showing their support for the teen’s family.

“This is the most beautiful gesture from all over — that’s supporting the family right now,” Bowes said.

Jessica Patrick, 18, went missing at the end of August. She leaves behind a one-year-old daughter. (Facebook)

Patrick was last seen on Aug. 31 and reported missing on Sept. 3. No further information on her death has been released.

SOURCE: CBC News

A totem pole in Manitoba? German board game accused of stereotypical portrayal of Indigenous people

“Manitoba” is a product of German company DLP Games. Some Manitobans are upset about the game’s stereotypical ideas of Indigenous people. (DLP Games )

Board game called Manitoba features depictions that are inaccurate and offensive, game enthusiast says

A German board game called Manitoba is drawing a lot of criticism for the way it portrays the culture of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The game, called Manitoba, is a product of DLP Games.

“This game is set in the Canadian province of Manitoba with its green hills and majestic mountains, large lakes, endless prairies and forests,” the English-language version of the game’s instructions state.

“It deals with the life of the inhabitants in harmony with the different seasons and the capriciousness of nature.

“Players represent different clans of the Cree Indians, taking care of the material progress as well as of the spiritual development of the clan. At the end of autumn, all clans finally come together to determine the new chief from the clan that has progressed the furthest!”

Ross says the game’s artwork is problematic as it’s an inaccurate depiction of indigenous peoples in Manitoba. (DLP Games)

The artwork accompanying the game includes images of a totem pole and other imagery that is not part the cultures of Manitoba’s Indigenous Peoples.

The game has drawn heavy criticism on the BoardGameGeek online forum.

Creations like paintings or board games refer to reality, but also create new reality.– Game designer Reiner Stockhausen

Governor General’s Award-winning writer Ian Ross is an Indigenous board game enthusiast and the founder of the Winnipeg Board Game Club.

Though the artwork is problematic, what some people have found most troubling is the game’s portrayal of Indigenous spirituality, he told CBC News.

“I think for some people, that’s the real sticky point, the thing they find most egregious, is the commodification of our culture,” he said.

He said it’s ridiculous that the German game makers didn’t do at least some research online before creating the game.

That being said, Ross said he’s happy to see that at least there is a conversation about what is wrong with the game, and is hopeful the publisher will change it.

“There was a time when the thing wouldn’t even have been talked about,” he said.

Game is fiction, designer stresses

Game designer Reiner Stockhausen said he hasn’t heard concerns about the game content from Indigenous people so far.

In an English-language email to CBC News, the German speaker stressed that the game is fictional.

“There is nothing wrong with simplification and abstraction in a fictional creation. Look on the wide history of literature, visual arts or the younger history of board game design and you will see, that it’s firstly impossible not to simplify or to hark back to images and conceptions,” he wrote.

“So creations like paintings or board games refer to reality, but also create new reality.”

Stockhausen said any stereotypes he or German people have about Cree people are positive, citing a Greenpeace sticker called “Weissagung der Cree,” which translates to “prophecy of the Cree.”

A Greenpeace bumper sticker Stockhausen cited as influential to DLP’s understanding of Cree culture. (Submitted by Reiner Stockhausen)

In English, it roughly translates as: “Only after the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught will you find that one cannot eat gold.”

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs attributes the quote to a member of the Osage Nation, whose traditional territory spanned, in different periods, from what’s now Pennsylvania and Ohio to Kansas and Oklahoma, according to the Osage Nation website.

Stockhausen said his co-editor declined to answer questions, but said he liked the sound of the word “Manitoba.”

“We do research as much and as long till we have all the information, we searched for. But as fiction is not dealing with information, [research] is not a mandatory part of the creative process of making games,” he wrote.

“Whether the decision for this title turned out well or not is a question that depends on the eyes of the viewer. From a European view it seems rather coherent,” he wrote.

CBC News · Posted: Sep 12, 2018

[SOURCE]

Minnesota Regulators Postpone Line 3 Meeting After Protests

FILE: Protest against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement in Minnesota.

Enbridge Line 3 meetings postponed after protests erupt

Minnesota regulators postponed a meeting Tuesday on Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 replacement after pipeline opponents disrupted the meeting with a bullhorn and a boombox.

Protests erupted as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions earlier imposed by the panel. The PUC approved the project in June, giving Enbridge a green light to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minnesota.

Opponents in the back of the PUC hearing room took out a bullhorn and made speeches aimed at the commissioners, the Star Tribune reported.

“You should all be ashamed,” one protester said.

PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually canceled it when a protester playing music on a boombox refused to turn it off.

Several opponents sat with their backs facing the commissioners. Their shirts featured slogans such as “Enbridge lap dogs.”

In a statement, Enbridge said it was “unfortunate that a small group of people derailed” the meeting. The Canadian-based company said the conditions that were up for discussion were intended to “protect Minnesotans.”

“We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line,” Enbridge said.

State Rep. Dan Fabian, a Roseau Republican who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, also criticized the protesters.

“Minnesota is better than this nonsense,” Fabian said in a statement. He called on Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, the PUC and local law enforcement “to do whatever necessary to prevent disruptions like this from happening in the future.”

Line 3 runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the line, which it built in the 1960s and is running at only about half its original capacity. The replacement would restore its original capacity. But Native American and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas.

By The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

‘Major Victory’: Landowner’s Legal Challenge Halts Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana

Faced with a new state law that effectively criminalized peaceful protests of pipelines, activists have put their bodies and freedom on the line to oppose the Bayou Bridge project in Louisiana. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie Camp/Facebook)

By Jessica Corbett

In a “major victory” for local landowners and pipeline activists who are fighting to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the company behind the project agreed to halt construction on a patch of private property just ahead of a court hearing that was scheduled for Monday morning.

The path of the 163-mile pipeline runs through Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest wetland and swamp. Local landowners and activists have raised alarm about the threat the pipeline poses to regional water resources, wildlife, and communities.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land.”  —L’eau Est La Vie Camp

Peter Aaslestad, one of several co-owners of undeveloped marshland, filed an injunction in July alleging that the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) was clearing trees and trenching on his property without permission. ETP—which is also behind the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline—claims it has the right to the use property through expropriation, a process used to take private land for public benefit.

Monday’s agreement “essentially gives us everything we would have asked for with [the injunction] request and argued for in our hearing,” Misha Mitchell, a lawyer for Aaslestad and Atchafalaya Basinkeeperexplained in a Facebook video. “The company has voluntarily agreed to cease entering onto the property and to stop all construction activities on the property.”

A court hearing for the expropriation battle is scheduled for Nov. 27, meaning the company will not meet its initial deadline of completing construction by October.

“This represents a significant victory for the conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and for the rights of private landowners who lawfully resist their property being seized for private gain,” Aaslestad said in a statement.

A collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—celebrated the agreement as validation of their ongoing efforts to kill the project.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land,” the group wrote on Facebook Monday. “While this is a major victory, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline continues in other parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. We won’t stop until completely shut down the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.”

Protests have continued even as state lawmakers have enacted legislation that effectively criminalizes peaceful protests of “critical infrastructure,” including pipeline projects. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, three kayaktivists who oppose Bayou Bridge were detained by private security, then arrested and charged with felonies under the new law.

The Times-Picayune reports that “at least 12 activists protesting the pipeline on Aaslestad’s property have been arrested” under the law, which took effect Aug. 1, but the district attorney “has not yet decided whether to prosecute the protesters.”

Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who is volunteering as an attorney for the protesters, said they were all detained by private security before being arrested, explaining that “because they were on private property at the invitation of the owner, it’s not clear that [ETP] had any right to do what they were doing, or have people arrested.”

Published on September 10, 2018 by 

Teepees start to come down at Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near Saskatchewan legislature

Tepees are seen at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near the Saskatchewan legislature, in Regina, in a June 27, 2018. (File photo CP)

Teepees are coming down at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina.

On Friday, Justice Ysanne Wilkinson ordered that the protest camp be dismantled after the government applied for an eviction order.

“Police are hereby authorized to arrest, or arrest and remove, any person” who is violating the order to vacate the camp, she said.

No deadline was specified in Wilkinson’s order to take the camp down.

The province went to court seeking an order to evict the protesters, arguing the camp violated bylaws and made it hard to maintain the land across from the legislature.

Regina police say they are now in talks with the government and protesters.

Fifteen teepees were standing in front of the Saskatchewan legislature building.

There had been 15 teepees in the camp at one point, but that number was down to 10 by Monday morning.

At least two of the tepees came down after the court order, while others were taken down for the annual Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.

Protester Richelle Dubois says it’s disheartening to see the number of teepees shrink.

“It shows the province’s true colours and how they feel about First Nation children and communities,” she said.

Since late February, the campers have been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care.

The Canadian Press

First Nation wants Inquiry into Racism, Assaults linked to Hydro development

York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant speaks to media in Winnipeg on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.

A northern Manitoba First Nation is calling for a provincial inquiry into racism, discrimination and violence linked to hydroelectric development on its territory.

York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant said Premier Brian Pallister should order an inquiry into the Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro.

“They need to acknowledge the collective and individual trauma that has been occurring through northern hydroelectric development in the province,” he said at a Winnipeg news conference Friday.

A report released last month by the province’s Clean Environment Commission — an arm’s length review agency — outlined discrimination and sexual abuse at the Crown utility’s work sites in the 1960s and 1970s. The report said the arrival of a largely male construction workforce led to the sexual abuse of Indigenous women and some alleged their complaints to RCMP were ignored.

The report said there was also racial tension, environmental degradation and an end to the traditional way of life for some Indigenous people.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires has called the allegations in the commission’s report disturbing and said she is referring the issue to the RCMP.

Since the release of the report, Constant said traumatic memories have resurfaced in the Indigenous communities hurt by hydro development.

First Nations have tried to bring the issues up in the past, but Constant said it always fell on deaf ears. He said issues with hydro development, including harassment and racism, continue to this day.

“It’s impacted women for decades, since the ’50s and nothing has changed. Women are still treated the same as then,” said York Factory Coun. Evelyn Beardy.

“I want to see a day where, before the project is done, that my member doesn’t phone me and say she’s been called a savage or she’s walking down the hallway and has been groped. I’d like to see that stopped. It has to stop.”

No one from the Manitoba government or Manitoba Hydro was immediately available for comment.

Martina Saunders, an Indigenous woman who resigned from a board overseeing construction of Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask generating station, recently filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission alleging she and other Indigenous members were being ignored and bullied.

Without a full understanding of issues around racism and violence on hydro projects, Constant said Indigenous people will continue to be victimized.

He and other leaders want the inquiry to look at the prevalence of racism and harassment as well how the province, Manitoba Hydro, contractors and law enforcement responded to complaints over the decades. It should recommend culturally relevant victim support and ways to prevent racism and harassment in the future.

Constant said he will be sending a letter requesting a meeting with the premier and other officials to discuss the request.

“It comes down to reconciliation and hearing from our members that have experienced this. On Manitoba Hydro’s part I think it will reveal what truly happened over the past 60 years historically,” Constant said.

“There is a lot of hurt, there is a lot of anger.”

Source: Winnipegsun.com

Greenpeace wants Dakota Access racketeering suit dismissed

Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near  Standing Rock, North Dakota. REUTERS

BISMARCK, N.D. — The lone remaining environmental group facing racketeering accusations by the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline has asked a federal judge to be dismissed from the case.

Greenpeace attorneys on Tuesday filed documents arguing that revised allegations by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act are “generalized and implausible.”

ETP initially sued Greenpeace, Earth First and BankTrack last year for up to $1 billion, alleging they worked to undermine the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now shipping North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois. The lawsuit alleged the groups interfered with company business, facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism, incited violence, targeted financial institutions that backed the project, and violated defamation and racketeering laws. The groups maintained the lawsuit was an attack on free speech.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson this summer dismissed both BankTrack and Earth First as defendants. In July, he denied a motion by Greenpeace to be dismissed, as well, but he also ordered ETP to revise the lawsuit that he said contained vague claims. Company lawyers did so last month.

Greenpeace attorneys maintain that “ETP has utterly failed to follow the court’s direction,” and that the amended lawsuit “contains much the same inflammatory, insubstantial language” as before.

ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado declined comment, citing company policy against commenting on active litigation.

Company lawyers on Tuesday asked Wilson to reconsider his late August order that the company identify 20 unnamed individual defendants in its lawsuit within a month or have them dismissed as defendants. ETP wants the opportunity to gather more evidence to properly identify the people that it alleges played a role in inciting a massive protest against the pipeline while it was being built.

Protests by groups and American Indian tribes who feared environmental harm resulted in 761 arrests in southern North Dakota over a six-month span beginning in late 2016.

ETP also is suing five named individual defendants: two Iowa women who have publicly claimed to have vandalized the pipeline; two people associated with the Red Warrior Camp, a protest group alleged to have advocated aggressive tactics such as arson; and Virginia resident Charles Brown, who the company alleges is “a pipeline campaigner for Greenpeace” and specializes in interfering with ETP projects including the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.

Brown filed an affidavit Tuesday stating he began working for Greenpeace after the Dakota Access protests and that “I have never lived in or travelled to North Dakota.”

Greenpeace attorneys called the inclusion of Brown as a defendant “baffling” and “possibly sanctionable.”

By Blake Nicholson – The Associated Press

Source: Nationalpost.com