Category Archives: Contemporary Issues

Current Events and Politics

‘This is oil country’: Newly painted Greta Thunberg mural gets defaced, covered in slurs

An Edmonton man defaced a newly painted mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Sunday morning. ( Andreane Williams/CBC)

The artist says nothing lasts forever

A newly painted portrait of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was quickly defaced — first with a pro-oil message, and later with a slur against the teen.

The mural was painted on a section of a downtown “free wall” along a bike path that runs parallel to 109 Street near the Alberta Legislature. Local artist AJA Louden has confirmed he painted Thunberg Friday.

A CBC journalist was shooting footage of the mural on Sunday morning when James Bagnell walked up with spray paint and began painting “Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!” over the teen’s face.

“This is Alberta. This is oil country. My father has worked in the oil industry. We don’t need foreigners coming in and telling us how to run our business, support our families, put food on our tables,” he said.

Bagnell said as soon as he saw photos of the mural on social media, he decided to go down and “deal with it.” He said his father, who recently died, would have been “disgusted” to see the portrait of Thunberg.

He said Canada shouldn’t change its energy industry because other countries are worse offenders.

James Bagnell paints a pro-oil message over a downtown Edmonton portrait of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. (Gabrielle Brown/CBC)

“I think it’s absolutely intolerant of them to tell us how to change our lives and our people. She should go back to her country and try to make her country better.”

He said Thunberg is a child who is “doing what she’s told,” and doesn’t know better. He said he’s not against becoming more eco-friendly, but said Thunberg offers no solutions.

“Just shut up until you have solutions,” he said.

Later, when CBC returned to shoot more footage, a different man was further defacing the mural — this time calling the teen a derogatory term, and telling her to get out of the country. The man declined to be interviewed.

A newly painted mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was further defaced on Sunday morning. CBC has blurred a derogatory term that later appeared on the mural. (Andreane Williams/CBC)

‘Not a big deal at all’

Reached by email Sunday after the initial pro-oil message was painted, Louden said it’s normal for artists to paint over each other’s work as it’s a free wall.

“Nothing lasts forever — one of my favourite things about that wall is that anyone is allowed to express themselves there, so I’m not upset at all. I haven’t seen what went over it, but if anyone is upset about what was painted over the portrait, they can just paint back over it, it’s not a big deal at all,” Louden wrote.

Mary Bjorgum, a passerby who watched the artwork go up on the wall, was also not surprised, but disappointed, she said.

“Incredibly disappointed because it was a beautiful piece of artwork, time and effort went into making it,” Bjorgum said. “I appreciate that they want to express there but to actually deface it is quite another thing.”

Thunberg was in Edmonton Friday to attend a climate march and rally at the Alberta Legislature that was attended by thousands of people. Her visit attracted a smaller, counter protest presence.

Thunberg then travelled to Fort McMurray, where she met with leaders of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, as well as to participate in a BBC documentary about the region.

CBC News · Posted: Oct 20, 2019

[SOURCE]

Release report into RCMP conduct during Rexton protests, says anti-shale gas group

Vehicles were burned at the scene of a shale gas protest in Rexton six years. Anti-shale activists want the report into RCMP conduct during the violent clashes made public. (Courtesy of Gilles Boudreau)

RCMP vehicles burned, dozens arrested in October 2013 protests in Kent County

Anti-shale gas activists are calling for the release of an independent investigation into RCMP action during violent protests in Rexton six years ago.

Dozens were arrested during months of protests near Elsipogtog First Nation that saw a blockade erected on Route 134 to stop gas exploration in the area.

In October 2013, RCMP officers used force to disperse protesters and six RCMP vehicles were burned during the clashes.

The independent Civilian Review and Complaints Commission investigated complaints about police conduct during the protests. Commissioners held public meetings in the Kent County area in 2015.

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says it has heard nothing from the commission since that time, and it’s tired of waiting. It’s calling on RCMP and government officials to release the commission’s findings.

Alliance spokesperson Denise Melanson says it’s important to know the truth.

Denise Melanson, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, said the group is becoming impatient and wants to see the report. (Radio-Canada)

“What happened was so anti-democratic and, you know, when governments use force and the secret state to impose things on the public, we’re not talking about a democracy anymore,” Melanson said.

“This is really, really important. And it’s not just that I need to prove that I was right about what happened. It’s more that we really need to know that our government isn’t behaving like this.”

Report delivered to RCMP

In an email, a spokesperson for the commission confirmed the Rexton riot report was delivered to the RCMP last March.

When the RCMP commissioner’s office reacts, the commission will prepare its final report, the spokesperson said.

The report contains testimony from 130 witnesses, 50,000 records and thousands of video files.

The evidence gathered is voluminous: 130 civilian witnesses were heard, 50,000 records and thousands of video files collected, which may explain why the investigation lasted so long.

The Council of Canadians is circulating a petition to ask Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to release the report.

CBC News also contacted Public Safety Canada. The department referred the query back to the complaints commission.

With files from Radio-Canada

CBC News · Posted: Sep 18, 2019 

[SOURCE]

 

Minnesota court rejects challenges to Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Minnesota Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear environmental and tribal challenges to Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 oil pipeline, a decision that removes one potential obstacle for the already-delayed project.

The ruling means the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the state regulator that approved the Line 3 project last year, will not have to consider additional environmental issues.

Line 3 is part of Enbridge’s Mainline network that transports western Canadian oil to Midwest refineries. The replacement project would double capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, providing much-needed relief from congestion on existing Canadian pipelines.

Pipelines carrying Canadian oil have fallen short for years of meeting demand because of delays with Line 3, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain and TC Energy Corp’s Keystone XL.

Line 3 was meant to be in service by the end of this year but has been delayed until the second half of 2020 because of issues with permitting.

“We agree with this decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court which now allows the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to move forth with the permitting process for the Line 3 replacement,” said Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s executive vice president of liquids pipelines. “We look forward to the MPUC providing their guidance on the remaining process and schedule.”

The American Petroleum Institute also welcomed the court’s decision. Erin Roth, executive director of API Minnesota, said Line 3 was the “most studied pipeline project in state history.”

In June, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Public Utilities Commission had failed to address how an oil spill from the line would affect Lake Superior within the project’s environmental impact statement.

Groups including Honor the Earth and the Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe that oppose replacement of Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, petitioned for the state Supreme Court to review other aspects of the impact statement that the appeals court approved. Those petitions were denied on Tuesday.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said.

Calgary-based Enbridge’s shares closed up 0.15% on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$46.70.

(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

[SOURCE]

First Nations given maximum compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

OTTAWA — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has awarded more than $2 billion in compensation to First Nations children and their families who were separated by a chronically underfunded welfare system.

In a ruling this morning the tribunal says the federal government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services.

The result was a mass removal of Indigenous children from their parents for years in a system Indigenous leaders say had more First Nations kids living in foster care than at the height of the residential-schools era.

The tribunal is awarding the maximum damages it can — $40,000 — for each child taken away for lack of proper services or who was later returned to his or family, for each parent or grandparent who had a child taken, for each child who experienced abuse in foster care, and for each child who was taken into foster care because proper medical supports were not made available to their families.

The Assembly of First Nations says as many as 54,000 children could be eligible for the compensation.

The decision comes more than three-and-a-half years after the tribunal ruled there was clear discrimination by the federal government, which did not provide anywhere near the funding non-Indigenous children received for child welfare services.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Northern First Nations will need trauma support after hunt for B.C. pair ends, chiefs say

Heavily armed police officers search the community of York Landing, Man., for B.C. homicide suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod on Monday. (Gilbert Rowan/CBC)

Counsellors and therapists will be needed to deal with search’s lingering effects

It isn’t clear when, where or how the hunt for two B.C. homicide suspects will end, but Indigenous leaders suspect it will linger in the minds of northern Manitoba First Nation residents well after the large police and military presence is gone.

“Everybody is still kind of overwhelmed and uneasy,” Leroy Constant, chief of York Factory First Nation in York Landing, Man., said on Tuesday.

Constant and other leaders in the North say when the expansive search for fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky comes to a close, people in remote communities will need additional help processing what happened.

Schmegelsky and McLeod have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck, and they’re suspects in the killings of American tourist, Chynna Deese, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler.

The search, now in its ninth day, was initially focused on Gillam, about 740 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

On Sunday, a “credible” tip drew searchers 90 kilometres south through buggy, boggy, difficult terrain into nearby York Landing.

RCMP and military personnel swiftly descended on the community. Locals in the small, isolated town of about 500 people were warned to lock up and stay indoors.

After a thorough, if brief and unfruitful, ground and air sweep of the area, those personnel had mostly pulled out of York Landing by Tuesday and refocused on Gillam.

Even though the imminent threat appears to be gone now, Constant said, the tension remains and residents in York Landing are shaken.

“That’s the feeling, still,” he said.

Constant said the next step is to bring in counsellors and therapists for those in York Landing who need help.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an advocacy group that represents 30 First Nations in northern Manitoba, said the impact of having such a large police and military presence on such a tightly knit community will likely include lasting psychological effects.

As the search dissipates, the RCMP will rely on the public for leads, according to former officers. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

“It was quite intense for the people there,” he said. “Most definitely, a community of that size was traumatized.”

Settee said he spoke with York Landing leaders about the need for healing, which is why, he says, MKO’s mobile crisis response team will soon be made available.

The MKO team consists of support workers who are flown into remote First Nations, typically when there has been a family tragedy or suicide crisis, Settee said. Team workers specialize in critical incident stress debriefing, sharing circles, one-on-one counselling and mental health therapy, among other services.

The team has already been deployed to Fox Lake Cree Nation, where part of the search took place last week.

Settee said York Landing could benefit from even more support. Constant said he plans to utilize federal crisis services, including additional counsellors, through Indigenous Services Canada.

Now that Gillam is again the focus of the search, Mayor Dwayne Forman said the town is considering ways it, too, should support residents’ mental health once the hunt winds down.

RCMP (CBC News)

“I think for the short-term there’s going to be some concern still and apprehension: still locking doors, I guess, the feeling of not being totally secure anymore in our community,” he said.

“I am hoping that we can get back to the way we were.”

Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, the union that represents RCMP members, said the northern Manitoba search comes with the kind of demands Mounties are trained to face in other mass deployments, such as floods or wild fires, with one important exception.

“You’re obviously a little more vigilant, because in a flood you’re not thinking that someone is going to shoot you,” said Sauvé. “That weighs on the exhaustion stand point — exhaustion comes quicker — but as far as mass deployments it’s not unique.”

Still, Sauvé said, the droves of RCMP and military personnel who have been working around the clock for more than a week will need care themselves.

“Fatigued, tired, overworked, [they will] need time away with their families, time to decompress,” he said.

An Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson said Indigenous people in need of mental health support can call 1-855-242-3310 or visit the Hope for Wellness website for “culturally competent” crisis intervention help.

By: CBC News · Posted: Jul 31, 2019