Idle No More protesters delay Canada Day ceremony

A dozen protesters with Idle No More Kingston faced off with police in front of City Hall to express their dismay with Canada’s record of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples. (Meghan Balogh/The Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network)

Protesters under the banner of Idle No More Kingston blocked the Canada Day People Parade on Sunday in front of City Hall.

Approximately one dozen protesters stood in the street as the parade approached, holding signs that read “151 years of genocide,” “settler colonialism is a crime,” “Justice for Colten,” and “Tina, Jon, Colten, Jordon, Lillian. Canada kills.”

One protester wore a British flag as a cape with the words “European colonialism” written across it.

Some members of the several-hundred-strong Canada Day Civic Ceremony crowd booed the protesters as they resisted police and refused to clear the roadway.

Kingston Police asked protesters to move several times before physically pushing them down the street, using officers on foot, on bicycle and on horseback.

Protester Krista Flute, who is very active in the Idle No More Kingston movement, was arrested at the scene.

Evelyna Ekoko-Kay is one of the protesters who took part in the demonstration in front of City Hall. She and a handful of others stayed after being removed from the ceremony site and handed out pamphlets to anyone interested on the corner afterward.

Ekoko-Kay said she is not Indigenous herself but is mixed race, with one parent an immigrant and the other a colonist. She said she stands in solidarity with Indigenous people in Canada.

“I think it’s important that non-Indigenous people align ourselves with Indigenous struggle,” she said.

“Canada is a nation founded on the genocide of Indigenous people, and it’s an ongoing genocide. In this case, genocide is in the form of residential schools, in the form of the ’60s scoop when children were taken from their homes and put in foster care and separated from their culture. It’s ongoing now, and in fact today, Indigenous youth are taken at a higher rate than they were at the height of the residential school system, to the point where over 50 per cent of children in foster care are Indigenous, even though that’s only about eight per cent of the population.”

According to Ekoko-Kay, 47 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls in juvenile detention are Indigenous.

“Indigenous people are being killed every day, whether we’re talking about missing and murdered Indigenous women, people killed by police or white vigilantes. Their killers are consistently acquitted.”

Ekoko-Kay said she feels people need to hear the message of Indigenous people who have been marginalized, especially on Canada Day.

“When people celebrate Canada Day, whether or not they are doing it maliciously or whether or not they believe that Indigenous people deserve this, they are still helping to uphold that state and helping to celebrate it, and erase the realities of settler colonialism, which is an ongoing problem,” Ekoko-Kay said. “We wanted to create a counternarrative at this protest, this rally, because otherwise the only voices being heard are those that agree with the state and are wiling to fall in line. If that’s the case, then no one will ever know about any of these things, and that’s not acceptable. People’s lives are being taken every day. There’s no time to wait.

“If we don’t take a stand, even if we’re just a small group of people, then nothing will ever change.”

mbalogh@postmedia.com

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Embattled MMIW inquiry asked for Two-year extension, gets Six more months

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, speaks as she is joined by Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, left, and Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The commissioners of Canada’s national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls say the government’s decision to extend their work by only six months does a “disservice” to victims, survivors and families.

Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, announced Tuesday that the inquiry — which had requested an extension of two full years — is getting only six more months to complete its hearings and until April 30, 2019, to submit a final report.

“In seeking a two-year extension, we were striking a balance between the urgency of the issues and the need to do this work thoroughly,” chief commissioner Marion Buller said in a statement.

“Now, we believe political expediency has been placed before the safety of Indigenous women, girls and (LGBTQ and two-spirit) people.”

The commission, which has been plagued by chronic delays, staff turnover and complaints from families about disorganization, poor communication and a lack of transparency, was originally supposed to have its final report ready by Nov. 1 of this year.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada warned last month that the ongoing challenges were obscuring the needs of victims and survivors, with the unanswered question of a deadline extension adding to the uncertainty.

Bennett said the decision to extend the mandate by just six months was made in part because provinces and territories were not unanimously supportive of extending the terms of reference for the inquiry into next year.

“In the conversation with provinces and territories it was clear … that we weren’t going to get an extension of the terms of reference from some of them,” Bennett told a news conference.

She called the extension a “creative solution” that allows the terms of reference to be honoured in all of the provinces and the territories, meaning the commission will have to complete its research and witness testimony by Dec. 31.

At least one commissioner served notice Tuesday that she would reconsider her role with the inquiry as a result of the government’s decision.

“I am currently filled with a sentiment of incomprehension and deep disappointment,” Michele Audette said in a statement in French.

“I am giving myself the next few weeks to reflect, to analyze the decision, give my personal opinion and validate my future participation in the work of the national inquiry.”

Bennett would not say which provinces rejected the request to extend the terms of reference, but did indicate there was more than one.

Tuesday’s decision also follows consultations with survivors, families, Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories.

“We found support for giving the inquiry more time to submit its final report, but little support for the commission’s mandate to extend beyond the next election,” Bennett said. There are more survivors and families who want to take part, she added.

“The commissioners will decide how to use this additional time to hear from the remaining families and survivors, further examine institutional practices and policies and undertake the research necessary inform their recommendations on the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.”

After submitting the final report, the commission will have until June 30 of next year to wind down its operations.

A paper bag used to collect the tears of those testifying, to then be burned in a sacred fire, is seen at the final day of hearings at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Richmond, B.C., on Sunday April 8, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Department officials say they will work with the inquiry to determine the budget. The Liberal government had initially earmarked $53.8 million and two years for the inquiry to complete its work.

In March, inquiry officials asked for a two-year extension in order to give commissioners until Dec. 31, 2020, to make recommendations and produce findings.

The inquiry’s interim report, released in November, called for an investigative body to re-open existing cold cases and for an expansion of an existing support program for those who testify.

The government says it will spend $9.6 million over five years to support the RCMP’s new National Investigative Standards and Practices Unit, and will fund a review of police policies and practices regarding their relations with Indigenous Peoples.

An additional $21.3 million will be provided to expand health support provided by the inquiry.

“Together with Indigenous peoples and partners across the country, we continue our collective efforts to help prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, and protect future generations,” Bennett said.

Source: www.ctvnews.ca

$1.1B Lawsuit alleges Horrors at Canada’s ‘Indian Hospitals’

Dynevor Indian Hospital is seen during the 1920s. (Source: Archives of Manitoba, Rupert’s Land Collection 152, N29451)

A $1.1-billion class-action lawsuit alleges the federal government is liable for the suffering and mistreatment of Aboriginal patients admitted to 29 “Indian hospitals” between 1945 and 1981.

The lawsuit contends that patients of these segregated hospitals were routinely sexually assaulted, beaten with rods and sticks, held in isolation rooms for long periods, deprived of food and drink without medical reason, physically restrained to beds and forced to eat their own vomit.

It alleges the government was fully aware of the “widespread physical, psychological, emotional, cultural and sexual abuses” but continued to operate the hospitals and “permit the perpetration of grievous harm.”

“I think people would be shocked to know that for almost 40 years Canada was operating a segregated health-care system, designing and implementing hospitals just for Indigenous Canadians where they first treated for tuberculosis, but ultimately expanded to include all other illnesses,” said Jonathan Ptak, a partner with Koskie Minsky, a Toronto law firm handling the case.

“They were taken from their homes, often in remote locations, and treated in these substandard hospitals,” he told CTV News Channel Tuesday.

The statement of claim, filed Jan. 25, alleges patients were “forcibly confined” in “overcrowded, poorly staffed and unsanitary facilities where they suffered consistent physical and sexual abuse.”

None of the allegations have been tested in a court.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, said in a statement: “While the Government of Canada respects the decision of plaintiffs to pursue their claims through the courts, Canada believes that the best way to address outstanding issues and achieve reconciliation with Indigenous people is through negotiation and dialogue rather than litigation.”

The “Indian hospitals” were established to test a new vaccine for tuberculosis on Aboriginal children. The last of them closed in 1981, according to the statement of claim.

“It’s been over 35 years and the survivors have been suffering largely in silence,” Ptak said. “But with the residential schools settlement, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and with a number of scholars across the country looking into this issue, these stories have been coming to light, to the point where they can now finally come forward and bring their story publicly.”

The residential schools settlement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, has set aside $1.9 billion for former residents of the schools.

The representative plaintiff in the hospital class-action is Ann Cecile Hardy, a member of the Metis Nation who lived in the Northwest Territories before being brought to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton in 1969 when she was 10. It was one of the largest Indian hospitals in Canada.

She alleges that in her four-month stay, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by hospital staff, and “witnessed the horrific sexual abuse of others as well,” says Ptak. Hardy was left “physically, emotionally and psychologically battered,” according to the statement of claim.

The class action is intended to covers patients, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Ptak said he hopes to have the lawsuit certified as a class action within a year.

“Every lawsuit is in part about compensation, but this lawsuit in particular is more about shining a light on this really dark chapter in Canadian history so that Canadians are aware of this,” said Ptak.

“My question is why did it take 35 years and the commencement of a lawsuit for the government’s attention to be garnered in this way?”

The lawsuit contends the federal government is liable for damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in the amount of $1 billion, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $100 million, plus court costs and interest.

“Canada ignored, remained willfully blind and permitted harm to Patient Class members in order to avoid scrutiny and unwanted publicity about its inappropriate, common practices and procedures concerning Indian hospitals.”

The lawsuit contends Aboriginal people, many of them young children, were forcibly removed from their homes and confined in hospitals if they had tuberculosis. They faced arrest if they tried to leave. Non-Aboriginal people were not subjected to that treatment.

The practice of bed confinement for those with TB continued in Indian hospitals long after it was abandoned in non- Aboriginal hospitals, the lawsuit claims. It says Native patients were restrained to beds or put in body casts for days, weeks, and sometimes months for no medical reason.

The facilities, found in six provinces and two territories, were often converted military barracks left over from the Second World War. The claim alleges that the facilities lacked the proper sanitary infrastructure because they were never intended as hospitals and that they were operated by poorly trained staff, including many graduates of foreign medical schools who hadn’t been properly licensed in Canada. Few staff spoke a Native language or had any understanding of the culture or beliefs of patients.

Read the statement of claim: on Scribd

CTV News published, January 30, 2018

[SOURCE]

Reader Submission

Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation sign framework agreement for Treaty

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett signs a framework agreement for treaty negotiations with Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear on Jan. 22, 2018. (650 CKOM)

Signing sets the stage for Whitecap Dakota Treaty

A new framework agreement between a Saskatchewan First Nation and the Canadian government sets the stage for what would be the first new treaty signed in the province since the beginning of the 20th century.

A historic agreement between Canada and Whitecap Dakota First Nation was signed earlier this week to negotiate a treaty with the Crown — for what will be known as the Whitecap Dakota Treaty.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear and Carolyn Bennett, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed the agreement Monday at the First Nation.

Whitecap is not part of any of the numbered treaties in Saskatchewan because the Dakota people were viewed as Native Americans rather than British or Canadian.

Bear says the six-page document builds on more than 230 years of shared history, including a military alliance and concurrent promise by British representatives to protect Dakota territory.

The historical relationship between the British and the Dakota is well documented. The Dakota were allies of the British before Confederation and fought alongside the British in the War of 1812.

According to the agreement, the negotiation mandate includes recognition of Whitecap Dakota’s rightful place in Canada, and an acknowledgement of contributions made by the Dakota in the founding and development of the country.

The mandate also includes “appropriate measures to realize equitable treatment and benefits as between (Whitecap Dakota First Nation) and Treaty First Nations,” as well as resources to “support a sustainable community.”

Bear said the main objectives for the First Nation in treaty negotiations are to acquire a larger land base for sustainable growth, money for economic development, capital projects and protecting language and culture and to be recognized as a Treaty First Nation.

Unlike most of Saskatchewan’s First Nations, which were allocated land under six numbered treaties, Whitecap Dakota’s land was provided by a federal order in council issued in 1889. Bear said he hopes to increase that allocation to 128 acres per person from 16 acres.

In the 1870s, Dakota Chief Whitecap was present at both Treaty 4 and 6 discussions, but wasn’t acknowledged as a signatory.

The framework that was signed Monday launches a negotiation process where the Whitecap Dakota will provide a list of issues they want the treaty to address. The finalized mandate will be presented to cabinet by Bennett for approval. Ottawa would then formally offer a treaty to the First Nation.

The Whitecap Dakota First Nation is part of the larger Dakota-Nakata-Lakota Nation whose traditional governance structure was called the Seven Council Fires or Oceti Sakowin, whose lands extended into both Canada and the United States.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation is located 26 kilometres south of Saskatoon.

Artificial Intelligence Pilot Project to look for Suicide Warning Signs across Canada

Pilot will examine all parts of country including Indigenous communities

An Ottawa-based firm has been tapped by the federal government for a three-month pilot project designed to look for warning signs for suicide before tragedy strikes.

Advanced Symbolics Inc., is an artificial intelligence service company set to examine suicide hot spots across the country to better understand precursors to suicide.

The pilot, expected to start by the beginning of February, will examine all parts of the country including Indigenous communities, said chief scientist Kenton White, though he stressed the goal is not to focus on any particular group.

“What we would like to try and understand is what are the signals … that would allow us to forecast where the next hot spots are so that we can help the government of Canada to provide the resources that are … going to be needed to help prevent suicide before the tragedies happen,” White said.

There were a number of high profile “hot spots” in 2017, White added, noting northern communities and places like Cape Breton were hit particularly hard by spikes in suicide.

Advanced Symbolics’ pilot will not identify individuals, White added, saying safeguards are in place to ensure individuals can’t be identified within samples.

“This is not Minority Report and we are not identifying individuals who … have risk of self harm,” he said.

“We are not knocking on doors or contacting individuals. We have nothing that is personally identifiable about any individuals in this study.”

Instead, the company turns to a technique to create randomized, controlled samples of social media users in all regions.

The project will only use anonymous data already in the public domain for surveillance purposes, according to the Public Works contract award document posted online.

White, also an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, said Tuesday his biggest hope is the research can demonstrate a positive application for artificial intelligence.

“So many times in AI research we hear the stories about AI is going to take jobs … Big Brother is spying on us,” he said.

“If you can show that (suicide) rates have gone down because we have deployed this sort of study, that would be most gratifying.”

Dr. Stan Kutcher, a Dalhousie University psychiatry professor who examined a spate of Cape Breton teen suicides in 2017, said this summer that authorities need to look beyond bullying in their response to tragedies, adding there is a tendency to assume it causes “every single problem” young people have and that it is “just not true.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Why does Canada spy on its own Indigenous communities?

Woodland Cree Tribe Walk protest, January 2017. Image: Joel Angel Juarez/Zuma Press/PA Images

Indigenous nations have emerged as vocal defenders of land and water, but state surveillance of these groups is disproportionate, and speaks of the broad criminalisation of Indigenous peoples.

This article is part of Right to Protest, a partnership project with human rights organisations CELS and INCLO, with support from the ACLU, examining the power of protest and its fundamental role in democratic society. 

Researchers and journalists have begun to reveal the extent to which Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada are subject to surveillance by police, military, national security intelligence agencies and other government bodies. While security agencies have long looked beyond ‘traditional’ national security threats and set their sights on activists – even in the absence of evidence linking these individuals or organisations to any violent criminal activity – this reality is increasingly the subject of media and public scrutiny. As Jeffrey Monaghan and Kevin Walby have written, the language of “aboriginal and multi-issue extremists” in security discourse blurs the line between threats to national security, matters of ordinary law enforcement, and lawful, democratic advocacy.

In this piece, we summarise some of what is known about the surveillance practices employed to keep tabs on Indigenous leaders and activists, and describe their impact on Charter-protected and internationally recognised human rights and freedoms.

Indigenous nations and peoples have emerged, worldwide, as vocal defenders of land and water, organising to protect ancestral territories and ways of life. In Canada, while aboriginal and treaty rights are constitutionally recognised and affirmed, the interpretation of those rights is highly contested and a matter frequently before the country’s highest court. Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada have led popular resistance to the development of new oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric dams, mining operations, and other extractive industries that have significant environmental impact and which frequently encroach on Indigenous territories.

This resistance – with tactics ranging from peaceful protest and strategic litigation to the establishment of creative action camps and blockades – has frequently been met with a forceful police response. Through diligent research and investigative reporting, a pattern of extensive surveillance of these activities has also emerged – implicating law enforcement, intelligence agencies and numerous other government bodies.

The pattern of surveillance against Indigenous activists and organisations… can be characterised as disproportionate and alienating

Both freedom of expression and assembly are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which forms part of the Canadian constitution. The freedom from unreasonable search and seizure – which provides constitutional protection for privacy – is also guaranteed. The law recognises certain limits to these rights, provided they further a compelling government objective and are proportionate to that objective. However, the pattern of surveillance against Indigenous activists and organisations that has emerged in Canada is one that can clearly be characterised as disproportionate and alienating, with no evidence that it is necessary. Though these operations are inherently covert, Indigenous activists, researchers and human rights advocates have begun – largely through access-to-information requests – to piece together a clearer picture of the ways in which this surveillance takes place. Below, we discuss surveillance of individual leaders, surveillance of communities and movements, and how the agencies and departments that gather information use and share it.

Idle No More protest. Image: Daniela Kantorova/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Surveillance of Indigenous leaders

Government agencies have engaged in surveillance and information-gathering activities focused on Indigenous leaders and activists. Take for example the case of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, who is a Gitksan activist for child welfare, the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and a Professor of Social Work at McGill University. Dr. Blackstock’s organisation (along with the Assembly of First Nations) had sought justice at Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal regarding the federal government’s failure to provide equal funding for services for First Nations children, youth and families living on First Nations reserves. Access to information requests revealed that between 2009 and 2011, Dr. Blackstock was subject to extensive monitoring by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) – the government department responsible for Indigenous issues — and the Department of Justice. Officials monitored her personal and professional activities on Facebook and attended between 75 and 100 of her public speaking engagements, taking detailed notes and widely distributing reports on her activities. In 2013, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner found that by engaging in this personal monitoring – which was unrelated to her professional activities or her organisation’s case against the government – the Department of Justice and INAC had violated Dr. Blackstock’s privacy rights.

Similarly, Dr. Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaq lawyer, member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, and an Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. Following public revelations that Dr. Cindy Blackstock was being monitored by the government, Dr. Palmater made access to information requests to INAC, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS – Canada’s national spy agency), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP – Canada’s national police force), and the federal Department of National Defence (DND). While many of the records sought were legally exempt from disclosure, Dr. Palmater noted that some portions of her request to CSIS were exempt under section 15(1)(c) of the Access to Information Act as relating “to the efforts of Canada towards detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.” In a statement to the Public Safety Committeeof the House of Commons related to its study of Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015) Dr. Palmater stated that INAC also admitted to having 750 pages of documentation on her activities and whereabouts, but had destroyed the files before they had the opportunity to give them to her.

Clayton Thomas-Muller’s case provides another example. Mr. Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and a former Idle No Moreorganiser. The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) National News obtained documents from criminology professor Dr. Jeffrey Monaghan demonstrating that in 2010 and 2011, information about Thomas-Muller (who was at the time a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)) had made its way into the RCMP’s Suspicious Incidents Report (SIR) despite acknowledgement that there was no specific criminal threat at issue: Thomas-Muller was simply planning a trip to the Wet’suwet’en action camp against the Northern Gateway pipeline. The report was referred for inclusion in the SIR on the basis that IEN was an ‘extremist’ group, although the basis for this characterisation, or how the group was designated as such, is not known.

Surveillance of communities and movements

The records detailing monitoring of individual activists and leaders speak to a larger pattern of surveillance against non-violent dissent, Indigenous-led social movements and their allies. As APTN reported in relation to the documents referring to Thomas-Muller, RCMP records also listed a number of groups as “involved persons,” including “the Defenders of the Land, Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Ruckus Society, Global Justice Ecology Project, Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, the Indigenous Action Movement and the Wet’suwet’en Direct Action Camp.” In 2014, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed complaints against both the RCMP and CSIS, alleging unlawful surveillance against opponents of Northern Gateway that included many of the same organisations. While the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP launched an independent investigation, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) (the body responsible for CSIS oversight) instead held a series of secret hearings. They issued a decision in 2015, but barred the BCCLA from speaking about the outcome. The BCCLA has since applied for judicial review of this decision.

Just last month, documents obtained by VICE News demonstrate that the RCMP surveilled Indigenous activists who constructed a Tipi on Parliament Hill as part of Idle No More’s Unsettling Canada 150, a campaign coinciding with 150 years since Canadian confederation. Idle No More has come under government scrutiny on other occasions: in 2015 documents obtained by APTNconfirmed that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND, now INAC) shared information about peaceful protests led by the group with Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and passed on information about meetings between government and First Nations leaders to the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and others.

The Government Operations Centre (GOC) called an emergency teleconference… and widely circulated a spreadsheet detailing these solidarity events

In 2013, an RCMP raid on a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick triggered a heated confrontation and dozens of arrests. Documents revealed that the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit was also involved in monitoring the situation at Elsipogtog. In response to the raid, activists took to social media, calling for peaceful solidarity actions to take place in the following days. APTN revealed that the Government Operations Centre (GOC) called an emergency teleconference with a long list of federal departments and widely circulated a spreadsheet detailing these solidarity events. It included such events as “a jingle-dress healing dance in Kenora, Ont., a prayer ceremony in Edmonton and an Idle No More ‘taco fundraiser, raffle and jam session’ planned at the Native Friendship Centre in Barrie.”

Image: Brendan Bombaci/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Sharing and using the fruits of surveillance

The surveillance and monitoring of Indigenous communities and movements is in no way confined to the examples noted above. In 2011, the Toronto Starreported that a distinct Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) of the RCMP was formed specifically to monitor the activities of Aboriginal groups in 2007. While the unit was “dismantled” in 2010, the RCMP would not confirm whether the same activities were taking place under another name or program. Documents revealed that as of 2009, their activities focused on 18 “communities of concern,” flagged largely for their opposition to logging, mining or pipeline projects.

Journalists noted that the JIG reported on a weekly basis to approximately 450 recipients, including “unnamed ‘industry partners’ in the energy and private sector,” highlighting a potentially troubling information-sharing relationship between government and private corporations. The Dominion and a summary of these issues by Voices-Voix reported that intelligence sharing between government and private sector actors has regularly taken place through classified briefings, raising concern among Indigenous and environmental activists. As Clayton Thomas-Muller reflected in an interview with APTN National News following revelations that he had been under surveillance:

“We are challenging the most powerful corporate entities on the planet … What we have on our side is endless human resources. We have the power of our ancestors and traditions fueling us. We are intimately aware of the domestic surveillance that is happening as well as the agenda to criminalise Indigenous dissent.”

VICE News has also obtained documents demonstrating that Canada’s spy agency has taken a keen interest in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at the Oceti Sakowin Camp. In a 2016 CSIS document, the spy agency noted that “there is strong Canadian Aboriginal support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as many see similarities to their own struggles against proposed pipeline construction in Canada (Northern Gateway, Pacific Trails, Energy East, etc.).”

In 2015, the federal government passed legislation (Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015) that enabled even greater information-sharing practices amongst government agencies about “threats to critical infrastructure” or “the economic and financial stability of Canada”, both of which may provide an excuse to share information in a manner that chills and thereby threatens the constitutionally recognised right to protest. The same legislation afforded dramatic new “disruption” powers to CSIS. Over 100 Canadian legal academics wrote a lengthy analysis in opposition to the bill. Melina Laboucan-Massimo described the chilling effects of the legislation for openDemocracy in 2015:

“It is legislation like this that makes it difficult for people to not be scared into silence, and for people like me who believe that we need a just transition to renewable energy and engage in peaceful protests that may be seen as criminal in the eyes of the Canadian government. But this history is not new for us as Indigenous peoples here in Canada. It is the continuation of neo colonialism seen now in the form of resource extraction, environmental and cultural genocide.”

Bill C-51 is currently subject to a constitutional challenge led by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Despite promises to correct the unconstitutional aspects of Bill C-51, the current government’s proposed reform to national security law (Bill C-59) fails to address many of the concerns raised in that Charter challenge. The notion that peaceful resistance – such as opposition to pipeline projects or other private development – constitutes a meaningful threat to “critical infrastructure” encourages the profiling of Indigenous groups by Canada’s national security bodies.

The consequences of criminalisation

The Canadian government is only beginning to confront its history of violence and colonialism against Indigenous peoples. As Pam Palmater testified to the House of Commons in 2015:

“Every aspect of our identity has been criminalised, both historically and into the present day. In every single instance, we’ve had to resist all of these laws, keeping in mind that these were all validly enacted laws. It was legal to take Mi’kmaq scalps; it was legal to confine us to reserves; it was legal to deny us legal representation. All of these things were law in Canada. We had to be criminals, in that we had to break the law in order to preserve our lives, our physical security, and our identities.”

A systemic pattern of over-policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government remains a core feature of our legal system

Sixty percent of First Nations children on reserve continue to live in poverty and there are over 70 First Nations communities where drinking water advisories have been in effect for one year or more. A systemic pattern of over-policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government remains a core feature of our legal system. Though First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples comprise about 4% of the Canadian population, they make up over 23% of the federal inmate population, leading commentators to describe Canada’s prisons as “the new residential schools.” This pattern of criminalisation means that Indigenous people in Canada are more likely to be disproportionately subject to the kinds of “everyday surveillance” associated with poverty, urbanisation and incarceration, alongside the enhanced surveillance threats faced by those who are active on issues of land and water. The surveillance of Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada must be understood as part of this larger context.

The CCLA is concerned about the long-term impacts of government surveillance of individuals and communities in Canada generally, and of Indigenous activists in particular. While surveillance is most often discussed in terms of privacy rights – and while it is doubtlessly true that many forms of state surveillance are deeply invasive intrusions into the private lives of individuals and communities – privacy is not the only right at stake. In fact, the kind of government surveillance that Indigenous activists and groups have been subject to has the potential to affect a wide range of rights and freedoms protected by the Charter, as well as jeopardise many of our most deeply held democratic values. Pervasive surveillance creates a climate of insecurity, with the potential to discourage legitimate democratic participation, curtail peaceful assembly, and chill freedom of speech, of religious expression and of the press. When these consequences are disproportionately aimed at those engaged with the democratic process through their activism and political work, democracy, and the public interest as a whole, suffer.

The article Why does Canada spy on its own indigenous communities? was written by Lex Gill and Cara Zwibel  and published in openDemocracy on Dec 6 2017

This article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Trudeau Calls Stabbing, Van Assault in Edmonton a ‘Terrorist Attack’

A U-Haul truck rests on its side after a high-speed chase with police in Edmonton. (CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning violent events in Edmonton as a “terrorist attack” following a chaotic night that saw a police officer stabbed and several pedestrians run down with a cube van.

Edmonton police said they have a 30-year-old man in custody and they think he acted alone. But police chief Rod Knecht stressed Sunday morning that the investigation is in its early stages and authorities haven’t ruled out others might have been involved.

The police officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Four people were injured by the van, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Trudeau said Sunday that he was deeply concerned and outraged at what he called a “terrorist attack.”

“Our thoughts are with those injured, their family and friends, and all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” Trudeau said in a statement, in which he also thanked first responders and law enforcement.

“While the investigation continues, early reports indicate that this is another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against.

“We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”

It all began Saturday night outside the Edmonton Eskimos CFL football game at Commonwealth Stadium where it was military appreciation night.

Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, conducted the pregame coin flip and two CF-18 fighter jets did a fly-past before kickoff. More than 800 Boy Scouts were expected at the game and many were planning to camp out on the field afterward.

While the Eskimos were battling the Winnipeg Blue Bombers inside the stadium, outside a white Chevy Malibu approached a traffic control post at a high speed.

Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.

The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground but they run off when the driver gets out of the car, runs over and appears to starts stabbing the officer.

The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows behind him into traffic.

Police launched a manhunt for the suspect.

Knecht said an Islamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and was seized as evidence.

A few hours later, while fans filed out of the game and were re-routed around the crime scene, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at a checkstop north of downtown.

When the driver was asked for his licence, Knecht said the name on the identification was close to that of the registered owner of white Malibu.

When confronted, Knecht said the U-Haul sped off toward downtown with police cars in pursuit.

The van intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks, Knecht said.

“It is believed at this time that these two incidents are related,” Knecht said. “These incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism.”

The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.

In a tweet Sunday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said “Canada will not be intimidated by terrorist violence.”

Goodale’s office issued a statement to say the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was working closely with Edmonton police.

“At this time, the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at ‘medium’ where it has stood since the fall of 2014,” his spokesman Scott Bardsley wrote, adding Canadians should report any suspicious activity.

Another police press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Edmonton time.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted her well-wishes to the injured officer.

“Our thoughts are with @edmontonpolice member injured on duty tonight & hoping for a speedy recovery,” she wrote. “Grateful for our first responders.”

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also reacted on Twitter.

“Saddened and outraged by the terror attack in Edmonton. My first thoughts are with the injured, praying they all make full recoveries.”

Austin Elgie, manager of The Pint bar just west of the downtown core, saw the van zoom by with police giving chase.

The van “peeled” into an alley where people were smoking, he said.

“There were like 10 cop cars following him … It was crazy. It just came around the corner, ripping. I thought at first he was pulling over for the cops coming by, but he was clearly the one they were chasing.”

Elgie said the van hit a man who was a bar customer.

“I have a registered nurse on my bar team and I grabbed her and had her look after the guy until the ambulance came.

“He was breathing and we got him in the ambulance and he was still breathing.”

The chase came to an end outside the Matrix Hotel, only a few blocks from the bar, when the van rolled on its side.

Natalie Pon tweeted that she was at a wedding at the hotel when the crash happened.

“They’re keeping us away from windrows/the lobby,” she said.

Pon posted pictures of the U-Haul on its side with a large hole in the windshield.

Witnesses told local media they saw the suspect being pulled from the vehicle through the broken windshield and then placed in handcuffs.

— with files from Andy Blatchford in Ottawa

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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]

PM Justin Trudeau Changing Name of National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde at Aboriginal Day Live Pow Wow on June 21, 2016 at The Forks, Winnipeg. Photo: Black Powder, Red Power Media. ·

Federal government is renaming National Aboriginal Day

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 21st, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is marking National Aboriginal Day with a symbolic name change to the annual celebration of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

The federal government will be renaming National Aboriginal Day — being celebrated today — as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Trudeau, issued a statement on National Aboriginal Day where he announced the Government’s intention is to rename the day.

He opened his statement by noting that the summer solstice, June 21, was designated as National Aboriginal Day more than 20 years ago.

But the prime minister did not signal if his government will support recognizing the day as a statutory holiday, as it is in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Trudeau’s statement noted work remains to build a true nation-to-nation relationship.

Trudeau also noted that Canada’s 150th birthday in July will provide an opportunity to think about “the legacy of the past.”

According to CTV News, the federal government is also renaming the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous Peoples.

Trudeau says keeping the name of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin — someone associated with the residential school system — on the building that houses Prime Minister’s Office clashes with the government’s vision.

Instead, the building will be called the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.

 See Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, statement issued today HERE

 

Ottawa Must Act to Address Indigenous Suicide in Canada: Committee

MaryAnn Mihychuk, chair of the House of Commons standing committee on Indigenous and Northern affairs, speaks in Ottawa on Monday regarding the committee’s report on Indigenous suicide. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

  • Staff| The Globe and Mail, Jun. 19, 2017

A long history of misguided federal policies has fuelled repeated suicide crises in Canada’s Indigenous communities and urgent government action is needed to address the root causes, which include inadequate health care, housing, infrastructure and economic development, says a unanimous report by politicians of all stripes.

The Indigenous Affairs committee, which spent more than a year studying the problem of suicide among Canada’s first peoples and released its report on Monday, found that the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, forced relocations of communities and racism on the part of health-care workers, teachers and social-service agents all contributed to the problem.

The committee’s 28 broad-ranging recommendations include calls for the federal government to dramatically overhaul the delivery of child welfare, and to fully implement what is known as Jordan’s Principle, which says native children should receive the same quality of health care as is provided to other children in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found last year that the discriminatory policies of the Indigenous Affairs department have led to chronic underfunding of welfare on reserves and have allowed jurisdictional issues to interfere with the provision of adequate health services, including mental-health services.

“We need to send a message to Indigenous Canadians and especially to young Indigenous people that their lives have value, and to hold on to hope,” said committee chair MaryAnn Mihychuk, a Liberal MP and a former cabinet minister in the Trudeau government.

“We recognize,” Ms. Mihychuk said, “that they are losing hope because they have difficult lives and are suffering from intergenerational trauma as the result of decades of unjust policies, and that we must act together.”

A study released last year by the First Nations Information Governance Centre found that between 2008 and 2010, 22 per cent of adult First Nations people in Canada contemplated suicide. That compared with 9 per cent of the general population. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading cause of death for First Nations people under the age of 45. And the suicide rate for First Nations male youth is five times the national average.

Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who is a member of the committee, told reporters that the testimony given by the 100 witnesses was some of the most disturbing she has heard as an MP. “As a committee, we thought to do justice to all those very tragic stories,” she said. “I only wish that we had some quick easy fixes but, clearly, there aren’t quick easy fixes.”

Last week, 12-year-old Jenera Roundsky of the Wapekeka First Nation in northwestern Ontario texted “goodbye” to a friend then took her own life at the community’s outdoor hockey rink. She had been in the care of social services since two other girls from the same community killed themselves in January. Her father died by suicide in 2011.

The wide scope of the committee’s recommendations reflects the complexity of mental-health issues and the fact that there is no single solution to the high rate of suicide in Indigenous communities, Ms. Mihychuk said.

Among other things, the report calls for more investment in housing, better access to education including the establishment of a university in the North, more employment opportunities, enhanced suicide strategies and improved mental-health services in Indigenous communities. In most cases, it recommends that government provides funding to allow the Indigenous communities to meet their own needs and find their own solutions.

Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society who launched the CHRT case against the government, said the tribunal noted in January that First Nations youth in Ontario are denied mental-health services that are provided to all other children.

“In worldwide research, we know that inequity is linked to a much higher risk for suicide in two ways,” Dr. Blackstock said. “One is that it creates a lot of hardship for youth so they are more likely to have suicidal ideation and die of suicide. And the second thing is that, for those kids who are feeling suicidal ideation, there’s inequitable services to meet that need.”

[SOURCE]