Coastal GasLink stops work on pipeline over trapline dispute in northern B.C.

RCMP officers look on as contractors pass through their roadblock as supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation gather at a camp fire off a logging road near Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A company building a pipeline has stopped work on the project in northwestern British Columbia where 14 people were arrested earlier this month.

Coastal GasLink says in a notice posted on its website on Thursday that it stopped work in an area south of Houston because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

The company says it was working with the RCMP to address the issue.

Earlier this week, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation alleged on social media that pipeline contractors had driven a bulldozer through the heart of one of their traplines south of Houston, which they say violates the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping.

The company says its work in the area has been fully approved and permitted, and it reminded the public that unauthorized access to an active construction site where heavy equipment is being used can be dangerous.

The pipeline will run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat.

Opponents say Coastal GasLink has no authority to build without consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The company says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members

Those council members say they are independent from the hereditary chiefs’ authority and inked deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

Hereditary chiefs say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the dispute is an example of how the Indian Act, which imposed the band council system on First Nations, is still creating confusion and conflict over Indigenous governance.

The Canadian Press

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Indigenous leaders to gather in support

Photo: UBCIC

Hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. are holding a gathering of solidarity on Wednesday that is expected to attract Indigenous leaders from across the province.

Chief Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said she was planning to attend the meeting and other members of the group had already flown to Smithers.

“I’m heading up there to support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the people, the clans, in their fight to protect their land,” Wilson said.

She said the difficulty that the hereditary chiefs have had in getting their authority recognized by industry and government is familiar.

Elected band councils are based on a colonial model of governance, she said. Under the tradition of her Secwepemc First Nation in the B.C. Interior, title belongs to all of the people within the nation.

“Collectively, people hold title for our nation,” she said.

Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations bands along the pipeline route to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat, B.C.

But the project has come until scrutiny because five hereditary clan chiefs within the Wet’suwet’en say the project has no authority without their consent.

While elected band councils are administrators of their reserves, the hereditary chiefs say they are in charge of the 22,000 square kilometres comprising Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, including land the pipeline would run through.

Members of the First Nation and supporters were arrested last week at a checkpoint erected to block the company from accessing a road it needs to do pre-construction work on the project, sparking protests Canada-wide.

On Thursday, the hereditary chiefs reached at deal with RCMP, agreeing that members would abide by a temporary court injunction by allowing the company and its contractors access across a bridge further down the road, so long as another anti-pipeline camp is allowed to remain intact.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks told reporters that the chiefs reached the agreement to ensure the safety of those remaining at the Unist’ot’en camp, but remain “adamantly opposed” to the project.

The interim court injunction will be in place until the defendants, including residents and supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp, file a response in court Jan. 31.

A Facebook page for the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en territory posted an alert on Sunday calling for rolling actions across the country.

It referred to the 1997 Delgamuuk’w case, fought by the Wet’suwet’en and the Gitsxan First Nations, in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that Aboriginal title constituted an ancestral right protected by the constitution.

“As the Unist’ot’en camp says, ‘This fight is far from over. We paved the way with the Delgamuuk’w court case and the time has come for Delgamuuk’w II,’ ” the statement says.

The ruling in the Delgamuuk’w case had an impact on other court decisions, affecting Aboriginal rights and title, including the court’s recognition of the Tsilhqot’in nation’s aboriginal title lands.

The Canadian Press

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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs shocked that downtown Winnipeg is a First Nations burial site

Treaty One Territory, MB. _ Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is shocked to learn there were 1,200 First Nations people who died from a small pox epidemic in the late 1700s and were buried in “the heart of the city of Winnipeg” on “the north bank of the river.”

“It is horrifying to learn of the impact of this small pox epidemic and the number of our people who died due to their contact with the settler society,” said Grand Chief Dumas. “This devastation of our First Nations population cleared the way for the appropriation of their lands and resources. The mere fact that there are a dozen burial sites within short distances of each other and that Winnipeggers do not know whose bones they are walking over, building over is astounding and disheartening.”

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Niigaan Sinclair wrote, a smallpox epidemic destroyed communities across southern Manitoba in 1781. These outbreaks came with a 90 per cent death rate. Scholars have noted that 800 lodges of Indigenous peoples resided at what is now known as The Forks in Winnipeg. First Nations people lived, travelled and traded for 6,000 years at The Forks.

“These epidemics had more than just the immediate effects of First Nations people perishing from the disease; they also altered the lives of not only survivors, but future generations. They affected First Nations’ cultural, social, and political institutions. Their everyday life changed forever. We need to work with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to honour those that perished from these outbreaks,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

This could include but not limited to a memorial statue, stories included in history books of Winnipeg and Manitoba, or a plaque at the site of The Forks detailing the small pox epidemic and the effects on First Nations citizens in Manitoba, suggested Grand Chief Dumas.

By Kim Wheeler | Oct 4th, 2018

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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

Two women charged with inciting hatred after social media post called for “shoot an Indian day”

Two women have been arrested and charged after racist comments on a Facebook page called for “a 24-hour purge” and a “shoot an Indian day.”

RCMP say the women, along with another who has not yet been arrested, posted hateful comments online after some vehicles were vandalized.

A Manitoba woman, Destine Spiller ranted on a Flin Flon Facebook page, blaming the local First Nations community for damage to her car after it was spray-painted with large, black lettering on all sides.

(Destine Spiller/Facebook)

Spiller’s post escalated into racist and threatening language against First Nations people.

In the comments, she said that she was going to “kill some Indians when I get home” and talked about putting together a day to shoot “Indians.”

A second woman agreed with her, and suggested getting a shotgun and alcohol.

A Facebook user under the name Raycine Chaisson suggested “a 24-hour purge.” Destine Spiller commented “it’s time to keep the animals locked up or have a shoot an indian day!”

According to CTV News, RCMP haven’t released the names of the women but said a 25-year-old from Denare Beach, Sask and a 32-year-old from Flin Flon, are facing charges of uttering threats and public incitement of hatred.

The same charges are pending against a third person. All three suspects are cooperating with police.

Urban Trendz Hair Studio, a salon in Flin Flon, posted on Facebook that it had let go of an employee following the social media posts.

“Our business has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of discrimination or racism. The person in question is no longer employed by us.”

The other woman’s Facebook account stated she worked in Flin Flon as a mentor and as a substitute teacher in Creighton, Sask.

The Flin Flon and Creighton school divisions said they do not tolerate racist behavior and that the woman hasn’t worked with the divisions for “some time.”

The first woman apologized the next day, saying she was angry and upset about her vehicle being tagged.

However, several people had already called RCMP about the women’s comments.

Both women have since deleted their Facebook accounts.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is applauding RCMP actions in investigating and arresting the two women.

Hamilton-area homeowner found not guilty in shooting death of Six Nations man

Peter Khill, left, faced second-degree murder charges in the killing of Jon Styres, right, during a break-in.

Former reservist in Canadian army acquitted in shooting death of indigenous man 

A jury has found Peter Khill, not guilty in the shooting death of Jon Styres, a indigenous man, he believed was trying to steal his truck.

Khill, 28, admitted he shot Styres, but pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, saying he fired in self-defence when he thought Styres was pointing a gun at him.

Styres died from two close-range shotgun blasts in the driveway of Khill’s home near Hamilton Ont., on Feb. 4, 2016.

The trial heard that Styres, a 29-year-old father of two from Ohsweken, on the Six Nations reserve, did not have a gun at the time of the shooting.

According to the Globe and Mail, Khill sighed with relief as the verdict was read out Wednesday morning after less than a day of deliberations.

Across the courtroom, family and friends of the victim, shook their heads. Lindsay Hill, the mother of his children, wearing a Justice For Jon t-shirt, collapsed in tears and had to be carried out of the courtroom. Others cursed openly.

The London Press reports, Khill is a former reservist in the Canadian army. He served four years part-time in a stint that ended in 2011.

At trial the Crown argued that Styres did not pose a reasonable threat to Khill and his girlfriend while they were inside their locked home, and that Khill should have called 911 and waited for police rather than run out of the house with a loaded shotgun.

Peter Khill, charged with second-degree murder, leaves court in Hamilton, June 12, 2018

Khill told a 911 operator that night that Styres had turned toward him with his hands sweeping up to “gun-height.”

But experts testified that the angle of the shots showed it was their opinion Styres was facing into the truck when he was hit in the chest and shoulder.

According to The Canadian Press, after the verdict, defence lawyer Jeffrey Manishen told reporters he thought Khill’s military service was a central point of the trial, and was significant to determining whether Khill had acted reasonably to defend himself under the circumstances.

Manishen told the jury that race played no part in this case, as Khill could not possibly have known Styres was Indigenous given how dark it was at the time of the shooting and how quickly events unfolded.

He also noted after the verdict that potential jurors had been asked if they could be impartial given Khill and Styres’ races — a measure he said put him at ease about the issue of bias.

The Six Nations Elected Council released a statement Wednesday, expressing “shock and disappointment” at the not guilty verdict.

The council also called on the Ministry of the Attorney General to appeal the verdict.

Styres family said they would not comment or answer questions about the trial or its outcome.

The case garnered attention for similarities to a Saskatchewan case, in which white farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted in February in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, from the Red Pheasant First Nation.

First Nations set up more Tipis at protest camp near Sask. Legislature

More tipis erected on Saskatchewan Legislature grounds. Photo 620 CKRM

More tipis are set up at the protest camp in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature.

There are now six tipis standing in Wascana Park.

CTV Regina reports, there were three tipis added over the weekend. They represent File Hills Tribal Council, Piapot First Nation and Pasqua/White Bear First Nation.

A fourth was sent by Peepeekisis Cree Nation early Monday afternoon; a fifth was added later in the day.

The original tipi at the Justice for our Stolen Children camp was dismantled last week after police arrested some of the protesters. Three days later the tipi was re-erected on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

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The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said on Friday that it will stand with the protesters.

The camp is expecting more tipis to arrive in the coming days.

Government officials have said they will meet with the group and wonder how it will affect Canada Day festivities in the park.

Justice Minister Don Morgan said that the camp is still illegal, and that he expects the Regina Police Service to enforce the law.

According to CBC News, police did not say if there was a plan for the camp to be taken down again but said they were participating in dialogue with all parties.

FirstNationstipisctv

First Nations add tipis to protest camp.

The camp was set up in February after the acquittals of Gerald Stanley in the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie and Raymond Cormier in the death of Tina Fontaine.

‘We want to be owners’: Fort McMurray First Nations and Métis unite on pipelines

The Fort McMurray regions’s 10 First Nations and Métis community say they want to be pipeline owners. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

‘Let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil’

First Nations and Métis communities in the Fort McMurray region are expressing interest in becoming business partners in the pipeline industry.

The indigenous communities want to either buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline or partner and build another future line.

“We want to be owners of a pipeline,” Allan Adam, chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said in an interview. “We think that a pipeline is a critical component to the oil and gas sector, especially in this region.”

“If Fort McMurray and Alberta are going to survive, the Athabasca Tribal Council has to be alongside.”

Adam, a board member with the Athabasca Tribal Council, an umbrella organization that represents the regions’s five First Nations, admitted, the details still need to be worked out.

Ron Quintal, president of the Athabasca River Métis, the organization that represents five Métis communities in the region, confirms it too is on board with the proposal.

But, Quintal said, he expects they would need backers to help guarantee loans to help fund the multi-billion dollar project.

Tired of fighting oil companies

The announcement happened on the heels of the groups’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the basement of a Fort McMurray hotel on Friday.

Participants say it was the first time region’s Cree, Dene and Métis communities met together with the head of the federal government. Typically such high level meetings don’t take place together.

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the Fort McMurray region’s First Nation and Métis communities back pipelines and they want to own one. (The Canadian Press)

Also in the background is the uncertainty over the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which would ship bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

On Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced it will halt “non-essential activities” and related spending on the project and set a May 31 deadline to decide whether the project will proceed. The company declined to comment for this story.

Premier Rachel Notley said the May deadline is a serious concern and suggested Alberta may become a co-owner in the pipeline’s construction.

The announcement from Adam is a change in position for the chief who is no stranger to pipeline opposition. The chief has posed with celebrities and activists critical of the oilsands’ environmental legacy.

Most recently, Adam was pictured with Hollywood actress Jane Fonda who described the oilsands on a 2016 trip to Fort McMurray as if “someone took my skin and peeled it off my body over a very large surface.”

Adam denied he was ever anti-pipeline or against the oilsands, rather the chief said he is critical of the feverish pace the oilsands developed without environmental considerations.

But, Adam also admitted fighting oil companies and industry has been tough and it’s time for a change.

“The fact is I am tired. I am tired of fighting. We have accomplished what we have accomplished,” Adam said. “Now let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil that’s here already.”

Archie Waquan, chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, also supports a pipeline partnership.

“No disrespect to the other First Nations that are against the pipeline in B.C.,” Waquan said.

“From our end — from this northern territory where the oilsands comes from — we would like to see more things happen and hopefully this will go ahead.”

Ultimately we are the keepers of the land

The region’s Métis communities say their Indigenous pipeline ownership would help alleviate the roadblocks the oil and gas infrastructure have been facing lately.

Elaborating, Quintal said, First Nations and Métis would provide ease of access for the pipeline route on their traditional territory.

Also, he said, Indigenous owners would take the upmost care to ensure the pipeline route would avoid sacred or sensitive areas and the infrastructure is maintained to the highest standards to prevent spills.

Chiefs and heads of the Athabasca Tribal Council and the Athabasca River Métis Council pose after a meeting Tuesday at Fort McMurray’s Raddison Hotel where they announced they are willing invest in pipelines. (David Thurton/CBC)

“From our perspective, the Métis have always for the most part been pro-pipeline,” Quintal said. But, “I am not saying that it’s an open book or a blank cheque for the industry to develop pipelines.”

“Ultimately we are the keepers of the land and it is of the upmost importance that lands are protected as much as possible.”

Quintal also said, Indigenous owners behind a pipeline, might also lend credibility that could quell some of the opposition.

This article was originally published by David Thurton  · CBC News · Posted: Apr 15, 2018

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Indigenous protesters again block entrance to Pinery Provincial Park

Maynard T. George is leader of the Indigenous family group claiming ownership of Pinery Provincial Park. (Submitted by Colin Graf)

Protester Maynard George says the action is connected to a First Nations claim to the land

Indigenous protesters are again blocking the entrance to the Pinery Provincial Park, an action they say stems from a longstanding dispute over First Nations claims to the park on the shores of Lake Huron.

Maynard George of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation told CBC news that he and about four other protesters have pulled into the park’s front entrance in a trailer, preventing visitors from entering the park.

He said Pinery staff told people using the park to leave. As of Monday evening, about 10 trailers have already left, said George.

“We’ve moved in, we’ve taken up our residency here,” said George. “And we’ve shut down the park permanently. We’re in a position where we have to do something to resolve the claim.”

​George was involved in a similar action that ended in November with the park re-opening.

He said the protesters’ claim to the land stretches back to the War of 1812.

The park’s superintendent would not comment on the situation.

Indigenous protesters say they are again blocking the entrance to the Pinery Provincial Park. (Submitted by Colin Graf)

No court action

George’s lawyer Wanda Corston said for now, there are no plans to file any official court claim. She said the OPP have spoken to George about the protest.

“They’ve decided to take over the park with regard to some claims they have,” said Corston. She said for now, there has been no action to file a claim in any court.

“There’s no legal position at this point in time, we just hope the claims can be settled in an amicable way,” she said.

Ministry response

George said police were present in the park on Monday, but that they are only there to maintain order. He said there have been no arrests or confrontations.

In a statement to CBC News, a spokersperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources said, “Ontario Parks is working toward a resolution to this situation – we are engaging with the individuals, their counsel and police to better understand their claims.”

George said he intends to stay at the park. It’s unclear for how long.

CBC News Posted: Mar 19, 2018

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First Nations Launching Call for Mass Demonstration to Protest Trans Mountain

A sign protesting the path of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion hangs outside a trailer in Burnaby, B.C., on Jan. 10.

First Nations communities and their supporters are planning to ratchet up on-the-ground resistance to Kinder Morgan Inc.’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline with a call for a mass demonstration on Burnaby Mountain in March.

Members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation – which is challenging the federal approval in court – is launching a campaign of volunteer recruitment and training Tuesday through a network of allied Indigenous communities and environmental groups.

“The spiritual leaders are calling for a mass mobilization,” Rueben George, project manager for the Sacred Trust, which was established by the Tsleil-Waututh to oppose the $7.4-billion pipeline project.

“We want to rally support and bring out the facts of the destruction [the project] will cause and who really benefits.”

The planned action could escalate into confrontation as opponents of the project are determined to stop construction, said Chief Bob Chamberlain, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“I can see [protesters] doing whatever it takes” to stop the project, he said. “This is going to escalate to a place that the government doesn’t anticipate. We hope for peaceful, non-violent action but people are going to rise up to the challenge.”

Opponents of the pipeline expansion demonstrated on Burnaby Mountain three years ago, and more than 100 people were arrested for refusing police orders to disperse. Smaller protests have sprung up in recent months around Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby terminal, as the company continues to obtain permits from the B.C. government for preconstruction activity.

On Tuesday, the Tsleil Waututh will put out a call to allied nations and supporters of environmental organization, with organizers saying their network will reach some 200,000 Canadians.

The planned pipeline expansion has sparked an interprovincial battle between the British Columbia government, which opposes the project, and Alberta, which argues its oil industry desperately needs access to Pacific Rim markets in order to receive world prices for its crude.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Nanaimo, B.C., last week defending his government’s decision to approve the project that he insists is in the national interest, while pledging to protect the coast from risks of a spill because of increased tanker traffic.

At an energy conference in Ottawa, several industry speakers said the Trans Mountain project is a key marker for the Liberal government, arguing that Ottawa’s response in the face of opposition will determine whether Canada can complete controversial resource projects.

Mr. Trudeau should not leave Alberta to lead the defence of the project that Ottawa has declared to be in the national interest, said Martha Hall Findlay, president of Calgary-based Canada West Foundation. Instead, Ottawa must send a strong message that neither protesters nor the B.C. government will be allowed to derail the expansion, she told the Energy Council of Canada meeting.

At the town hall session in Nanaimo last week, the Prime Minister was jeered when he defended the government’s decision.

“It is in the national interest to move forward with the Kinder Morgan pipeline and we will be moving forward with the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Mr. Trudeau told a rowdy crowd.

“We will also protect the B.C. coast,” he said. However, he added that the Liberal’s vaunted $1.5-billion ocean-protection plan was contingent on the pipeline proceeding, a statement viewed as a threat by pipeline opponents.

Chief Chamberlain complained that the Prime Minister is “holding the ocean-protection plan hostage” to the pipeline project.

The government is failing in its pledge of reconciliation by approving the Trans Mountain expansion project over the objections of several local First Nation communities, he said. The government has committed to respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes the principle that First Nations people be afforded the right to free, prior and informed consent over projects that impact their traditional territory.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said the UN principle provides for fuller consultation and partnership over decision-making, but does not provide any one Indigenous community with a veto over a project that is in the national interest.

The Globe and Mail

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