Tag Archives: Blockades

Frustrated Families Vow to ‘Blockade’ Missing and Murdered Inquiry Hearings

Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail, right, comforts Shirley Gunner, as John Fox looks on during a news conference regarding the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls national inquiry in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Father of murdered woman says inquiry is at a ‘crisis’ point

By John Paul Tasker, CBC News Posted: May 23, 2017

Some family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are vowing to blockade meetings of the national inquiry to protest what they call a disastrous start.

“We are prepared to take blockades against this inquiry, if it goes through our communities we will be there, it doesn’t matter where,” John Fox told reporters Tuesday.

Fox said many families are “tired of the commissioners,” the people who are responsible for collecting testimony from families, and they are frustrated with the lack of familial support. Fox said calls to the 1-800 number are not returned and emails go unanswered by the bureaucrats staffing the inquiry’s office. He wants to ensure he can get on the list of speakers when the inquiry finally rolls through his town.

“What are we supposed to do? What other things can I do to get my name on there?” he asked.

Fox, the father of Cheyenne Marie Fox, a 20-year-old woman who died in Toronto in 2013, said the inquiry has unfairly placed the blame on families for cancelling scheduled meetings this summer rather than admit they were simply not prepared.

The inquiry has said it would go ahead with the first meeting in Whitehorse at the end of the month, but suspend others until the fall because many witnesses told them that they would be out on the land hunting, trapping and harvesting and would not have time to meet with commissioners. Fox said Tuesday that was nonsense.

“They took that little bit of information, somebody said it in passing, but now they paint all our families with that one big brush, but that’s not fair,” he said. “The harvesting and all of that other stuff, that’s always going to happen … we would be there.”

‘They can’t even get the race horse out of the gate.’– John Fox

Fox said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was able to hold pre-inquiry meetings throughout the country in a matter of months, but, nearly a year after the launch of the national inquiry, things remain largely at a standstill.

“Why can she pull off the pre-inquiry, and get all the statements in that short period of time? And this inquiry now … they don’t have an idea of what they’re going to do? All the money and expertise in front of them and they can’t even get the race horse out of the gate.”

(As of May 23, the inquiry has already spent roughly 10 per cent of its $53-million budget.)

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde also voiced his frustrations Tuesday. Bellegarde said he has invited the five MMIWG commissioners to meet with family members on three different occasions but was rejected.

“Clear communication and outreach to family members are essential to rebuild trust and ensure the national inquiry is a success,” Bellegarde said, adding the process must take a “families first” approach, based on respect for survivors and their loved ones.

Jocelyn Iahtail, who has long fought for a national inquiry, said many families have simply given up hope with the process so far because it has not respected Indigenous spirituality and language.

Jocelyn Iahtail, who has long fought for a national inquiry, said many have simply given up hope with the process so far because it has not respected Indigenous spirituality and language.

She said while Marion Buller, the chief commissioner, admitted last week some mistakes had been made, more needs to be done to regain the trust of many family members. Elders are trying to speak in their Indigenous languages but are simply not understood by record keepers, she said, and there is little respect paid to sacred instruments like the drum, fire ceremonies and tobacco.

“We cannot have our sacred stories yet again shelved like every other report has been shelved. We’ve had many family members state that it is running very much like the Indian residential school process when they were meeting with adjudicators. It is like a court process. We’ve been very consistent since the beginning that it has to be Indigenous knowledge-based.”

Iahtail said the commission has also been tight-fisted with money to help families travel to inquiry meetings, and has been reluctant to provide legal services to those in need.

Buller said Friday she understands frustration from families, but chalked up problems to poor communications.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of staff issues. It’s our fault for not communicating the tremendous work we have already accomplished.”

The commission has cycled through three directors of communications in 10 months, and has been plagued by complaints from family members about compressed timelines. The first interim report from the inquiry is due by November 2017.

[SOURCE]

Blockade Tactic: The Spike Board

By: Warrior Publications

On August 4, 2016, a land defender was injured during a blockade action at the Mount Polley mine site in central BC when a driver, reportedly a worker for Imperial Metals, drove through the blockade. The blockade was comprised of people standing in the roadway to stop traffic, never a good idea in my opinion. The fact is, people blockading vehicles will always be dependent on the driver not forcing their way through for the simple reason that a group of people cannot physically stop a car or truck.

Some blockades will inevitably be comprised of people standing in the path of traffic. As I mentioned, I don’t think it’s a good tactic. But in some situations I understand why it’s used. For example, many protests in urban environments will simply stop at intersections to disrupt traffic. There have also been numerous highway blockades carried out by Black Lives Matter protesters, in which groups of people make their way onto a highway and stop the flow of traffic. These types of temporary blockades may be spontaneous or the police presence prevents the bringing of blockade materials (such as dumpsters or other large objects carried onto the roadway).

[Here’s a video from January 2013 of an Idle No More blockade during which a driver forced her vehicle through]

When a blockade is planned beforehand, however, and/or takes place in an environment in which it is relatively easy to bring obstacles onto a roadway, it is far safer to do so than to try and stop vehicles with one’s body.

To stop vehicles during a pursuit, police frequently deploy spike belts. These are folding steel devices that can be quickly thrown across a road and which have spikes sticking up. If a vehicle drives over the spike belt, the tires are shredded and the mobility of the vehicle is severely reduced.A fairly common tactic used by Indigenous land defenders in BC during the 1990s was a variant of the spike belt: the spike board. It is an inexpensive and easily made device, comprised of a board with spikes (or large nails) hammered through, usually with a rope handle attached.

  • The board is laid across a roadway to stop vehicles from simply driving through a blockade or checkpoint.
  • If a blockade was only targeting certain vehicles, such as logging trucks, it could be easily removed to allow passage of civilian vehicles.
  • The same applied to information checkpoints, during which all vehicles were stopped and checked, and then allowed to proceed (or turned away, if it was a targeted blockade).

The spike board was a very effective technique, because if a driver chose to force their way through, the result would be the destruction of their tires. A vehicle can still drive on its rims of course, but that would result in damage to the rims. So drivers always stopped for the spike board. Another option is to park a vehicle across the road that could then be moved to allow vehicles to pass, depending on the terrain. Something to think about the next time you take part in a blockade action.

Warrior Publications

Mount Polley blockade car In this video still, a car is forcing its way through the blockade at Mount Polley, BC, on Aug 4, 2016.

by Warrior Publications, August 5, 2016

On August 4, 2016, a land defender was injured during a blockade action at the Mount Polley mine site in central BC when a driver, reportedly a worker for Imperial Metals, drove through the blockade.  The blockade was comprised of people standing in the roadway to stop traffic, never a good idea in my opinion.  The fact is, people blockading vehicles will always be dependent on the driver not forcing their way through for the simple reason that a group of people cannot physically stop a car or truck.

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Tsilhqot’in First Nation To Use Blockades If Needed To Protect Ancient Burial Site

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot'in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot’in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

By The Canadian Press, July 18, 2016

VANCOUVER — Members of a British Columbia First Nation are remembering a warrior chief who was wrongfully hanged 151 years ago and say they won’t allow another injustice to be done to their ancestor.

The First Nation says a service was held Monday at the site of a high school in New Westminster, B.C., which was built atop a former cemetery where the remains of Tsilhqot’in war Chief Ahan may have been buried after he was executed on July 18, 1865.

Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in national government, said four of six chiefs attended the ceremony and that members smudged the grounds, made a tobacco offering and drummed songs to pay tribute to Ahan.

Alphonse said there are no records to indicate that the warrior’s remains were taken to the cemetery after originally being buried at a courthouse square in the city.

However, he said the First Nation will fight to preserve Ahan’s remains even if there is “a one-per cent chance” that they’re at the school site.

Construction to replace the run-down school built in 1949 is slated to begin next year elsewhere on the same property, and the Education Ministry said an archeologist will ensure that any artifacts are appropriately recorded.

Education Minister Mike Bernier has said the school was built “in the wrong place” and that constructing a new school will fix that problem.

Alphonse wants protocols in place about the proper handling of any bones that could be found and warned the First Nation would mount blockades or file a court challenge to stop construction if necessary.

“All we’ve ever asked for from the New Westminster School Board is, in the event that you run into some bones do the honourable thing. Do a DNA sample and let us know if that’s him. They refused to do that so we’re not going to run that risk. So we’ll shut it down. We’ll use every means we can.”

The board couldn’t be reached for comment, but says on its website that it plans to use non-intrusive means, such as ground penetrating radar, to find out more about the school property before soil investigations that are scheduled for next month.

“Those activities are important for proper project planning and respecting the heritage of the site,” it says.

Premier Christy Clark apologized nearly two years ago for the hanging of Ahan and five other chiefs in Quesnel in 1864 during a bloody dispute known as the Chilcotin War.

The chiefs were hanged after 19 people were killed in a dispute over the construction of a road through Tsilhqot’in territory. The government militia couldn’t capture the chiefs, but they were lured out of hiding when they received overtures to speak with the government.

They were arrested and tried for murder. The road was never built.

Clark also signed an agreement with the Tsilhqot’in to work together on social and economic initiatives.

Last June, the First Nation, whose members live in the Cariboo-Chilcoton plateau area west of Williams Lake, won a historic Supreme Court of Canada land rights case that gave them title to 1,700 square kilometres of land in the remote Nemiah Valley. The landmark ruling meant they became the first aboriginal band in Canada to win title to their territory.

The cemetery at the school site was also the final resting place for Chinese pioneers, and members of the Chinese community in New Westminster joined First Nations groups against the construction of a new school on the same spot.

[SOURCE]

First Nation Blockades Tofino-Area Salmon Farm

Cermaq owns the open-net salmon farm north of Tofino. | Cermaq Canada

Cermaq owns the open-net salmon farm north of Tofino. | Cermaq Canada.

By The Canadian Press, Posted: 09/10/2015

TOFINO, B.C. — Members of a Vancouver Island First Nation are vowing to risk arrest rather than allow an international fish farming company to anchor an open-net salmon farm north of Tofino.

Members of the Ahousaht First Nation say they set up a boat blockade Wednesday at the site of the new farm, owned by Norwegian-based Cermaq.

The Ahousaht say the company holds 17 salmon farm tenures in Clayoquot Sound and applied for two new tenures in the same area last year.

The First Nation believes the applications signal a new round of fish farm expansion on the West Coast, with the Ahousaht Fish Farm Committee predicting a four-fold increase in the industry over the next 15 years.

Protesters oppose any new fish farms in the area.

They fear possible diseases bred in fish within the open nets could be passed to clam beds or wild salmon travelling to and from nearby spawning rivers.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/10/first-nations-blockade-halts-anchoring-of-tofino-area-salmon-farm_n_8118398.html

Grassroots callout to #SHUTDOWNCANADA for Missing, Murdered Women Inquiry

Photo: Facebook By Mike Roy ‎#ShutDownCanada

Photo: Facebook By Mike Roy ‎#ShutDownCanada

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

Two weeks before Canada’s premiers are expected to hold a national roundtable on murdered and missing aboriginal women in Ottawa, grassroots collectives are planning a nationwide day of action to Shutdown Canada in protest for an inquiry.

On Facebook the #ShutDownCanada event has been circulating and it’s gaining momentum. It is hosted by In Solidarity with all Land Defenders.

The Two Row Times recently caught up with Shannon Hecker one of the organizers of the February 13th nation wide day of action to #ShutDownCanada.

Shannon Hecker, of Mikmaq, Irish, German and French descent explains her reasons for being involved in ‘shutting down Canada’ on this day. “We have made the callout for grassroots across Canada to organize direct actions in unison so that we can show this government what we can do when we work together. There are over 2000 missing and murdered indigenous women which PM Harper has said “is not on their radar” due to economic reasons. Our message touches on a variety of issues but they truly all are related. People need to realize that our consumer economy is directly connected to the displacement of indigenous peoples which has extremely detrimental effects on their ability to survive as distinct peoples.”

From The Event Description:

Make no mistake that systemic racism and structural violence are connected to the needs of this illegal colonial state to maintain control of the land for exploitation. That is why we must call attention to these issues at the same time – the tars sands, the pipelines, fracking, mining, mega-dam projects and justice for #MMIW — it’s all connected.

CALLOUT for communities across Canada to blockade their local railway, port or highway on February 13th. Don’t buy, don’t fly, no work and keep the kids home from school. A diversity of tactics is highly recommended! Get everyone involved.

The goal is to significantly impact the Canadian economy for a day and demand there be an independent inquiry into the 2000+ cases of missing or murdered indigenous women. It’s Time to #ShutDownCanada.

Get together with your friends and family to start planning now.

Here are links for local events created so far.

Calgary
https://www.facebook.com/events/548709308599553/
Espanola:
https://www.facebook.com/events/838893082823510/
Edmonton:
https://www.facebook.com/events/547648822004640/
Fredericton
https://www.facebook.com/events/588076097991497/
Halifax:
https://www.facebook.com/events/354140614777162/
Hamilton:
https://www.facebook.com/events/650557521737315/
Kamloops:
https://www.facebook.com/events/755986344490782/
London:
https://www.facebook.com/events/394466750722241/
Moncton:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1543879242532790/
Montreal:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1536597193286480/
Oshawa:
https://www.facebook.com/events/557338124403380/
Ottawa:
https://www.facebook.com/events/417780078391409/
Regina:
https://www.facebook.com/events/318180288377480/
Saskatoon:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1528087757446461/
Toronto:
https://www.facebook.com/events/817191038344641
Vancouver:
https://www.facebook.com/events/830805010310866/
Winnipeg:
https://www.facebook.com/events/932226390123439/

#ShutDownCanada:

WHEN: February 13th, 2015 at 6am – 6pm

WHERE ACROSS CANADA:

Your local highway railway or port #‎blockadeseverywhere‬

CONTACT: Shannon Hecker:  shannon61184@gmail.com

Link to main event page #ShutDownCanada:

https://www.facebook.com/events/452509068236441/