Tag Archives: Government

B.C. to buy private island to protect First Nations burial ground

Cairns marking the graves of First Nations peoples who lived and worked here hundreds of years ago were found on Grace Islet, whose sale to the provincial government is nearly complete. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Cairns marking the graves of First Nations peoples who lived and worked here hundreds of years ago were found on Grace Islet, whose sale to the provincial government is nearly complete. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

JUSTINE HUNTER | The Globe and Mail

The B.C. government has reached a tentative deal to buy Grace Islet, where a private home was being constructed atop an ancient aboriginal cemetery.

It is the 12th time since the 1970s that the province has purchased land to resolve a conflict over what the law deems to be of archeological value – sites that are regarded by First Nations as sacred burial grounds.

Grace Islet was purchased by Edmonton resident Barry Slawsky in 1990, and at that time the site was known to have archeological importance. But when ancient human remains were found, archeologists investigated and found 16 burial rock cairns that would trace back at least 500 years.

Under the province’s Heritage Conservation Act, it is illegal to damage, desecrate or alter a burial place that has historical or archeological value. But Mr. Slawsky was granted a provincial permit to build his retirement home after agreeing to construct it around and above the rock cairns.

However, as construction began, First Nations expressed opposition to what they saw was desecration of a burial site.

The Cowichan Tribes drafted a civil claim asserting aboriginal title to the islet – an unusual case, if it had proceeded, because land claims are normally limited to Crown land where title has not been extinguished.

The pact, if it is finalized, would avert that lawsuit. “Our ancestors can now rest in peace on Grace Islet,” Vern Jacks, Chief of the Tseycum First Nation, stated in a news release.

The province has not stated how much it will pay for the site, which will also require remediation to deal with the half-constructed home on the islet in Ganges Harbour off of Salt Spring Island.

Federal court hands win to First Nations over Canadian gov’t re contentious omnibus bills

Image of a 2012 "Idle No More" protest, via YouTube.

Image of a 2012 “Idle No More” protest, via YouTube.

By Cecilia Jamasmie | MINING.com

Canada’s federal government should have consulted with First Nations before passing two omnibus budget bills that helped spark the widespread 2012 “Idle No More” protests, a judge has ruled.

The C-38 and C-45 bills, passed into law in June and December 2012, removed federal environmental oversight on most of the lakes, streams and rivers located in the Mikisew Cree First Nation’s traditional territory in northeastern Alberta.

The group’s victory, FortMcMurraytoday.com reports, will not affect the legislation already in effect, but it will require all governments to consult close-by First Nations in the future before the bills pass.

“No notice was given and no opportunity to make submissions was provided,” federal judge Roger Hughes wrote in his ruling. “The Crown ought to have given the Mikisew notice when each of the Bills were introduced into Parliament.”

The government has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Conditions Present for First Nations Uprising

Masked warrior on guard at burning car barricade, Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Source: warriorpublications

Masked warrior on guard at burning car barricade, Burnt Church, New Brunswick.

Non-Indigenous Canadians have dismissed recent warning signs

Canada is headed toward a confrontation with its First Nations people that could lead to “coherent civil action” that threatens the country’s economic lifeblood, a new book warns. Time Bomb, written by Doug Bland, former chair of Defence Management Studies at Queen’s University, argues the conditions are present for an uprising by First Nations people frustrated by decades of seeing their aspirations ignored by Canadian governments.

He urges people not to minimize the risk this frustration could turn into a rebellion and that Canada’s critical transportation links – railways and roads – are vulnerable to protests that could shut them down and cost the economy millions.

His sober warning comes amid deeply strained relations between Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and some aboriginal leaders.

Next week, hundreds of chiefs from the country’s largest aboriginal group, the Assembly of First Nations, will meet in Winnipeg to elect a new national chief and discuss key issues, from First Nations education, to missing and murdered indigenous women, to treaty rights.

“If Canada’s present policies and the historic indifference of Canadians toward the people of the First Nations and their aspirations continue without amendment, and if First Nations leaders continue to assert their right to unconditional sovereignty in Canada, then a confrontation between our two cultures is unavoidable,” Bland writes.

“The critical questions for both societies in such a circumstance are: What form would such a confrontation take, and how widespread would it become?” Bland cites one academic theory that says if a rebellion is “feasible,” it will occur.

In an interview with Postmedia News, Bland stressed he is “not predicting a revolution or an armed uprising.” But he said he is issuing a warning a “confrontation” could occur unless the government and First Nations leaders find innovative ways to prevent one.

He said part of the problem is many non-indigenous Canadians have dismissed recent warning signs: Grassroots movements such as Idle No More and threats from some aboriginal leaders to mount protests to shut down the economy.

“People just aren’t listening to them,” he said. “And they don’t understand how vulnerable the country is.”

Bland writes there is growing support among aboriginals favouring “a unified First Nations strategy for coherent civil action” and people should not ignore roadblocks and political standoffs.

“There is a pattern in these events, a pattern that is in 2014 heading in one way: Toward more demonstrations and confrontations and a gathering confidence in the First Nations communities that their causes can be advanced through the power of ‘activist politics.'”

Bland notes 48.8 per cent of the First Nations population is under the age of 24 and that some of those young people can be transformed into “warriors.”

“These young people, like most of the First Nations population, are concentrated in areas critically important to Canada’s resource industries and transportation infrastructure.”

Bland writes the railways and roads transporting everything from oil and grain to manufactured goods are “impossible to defend”. A small cohort of minimally trained ‘warriors’ could close these systems in a matter of hours.

“All the danger is sitting out there. And getting it wrong is for the government to try to bully its way through this thing. Or for some of the aggressive chiefs to try to bully their way the other way, pushing each other back and forth. It’s going to end up in a confrontation sometime.”

Originally published by the Star-Phoenix


Mexico Student Protests Evolve into Anti-Government Movement

Demonstrators apprehend a riot police officer near the airport in Acapulco(AFP)

Demonstrators apprehend a riot police officer near the airport in Acapulco(AFP)

November 17, 2014

Outraged protests at the Mexican government‘s handling of the disappearance of 43 studentteachers in the south of the country have mushroomed into massive anti-government rallies, that left 16 police officers in Acapulco injured after clashes between protesters and authorities.

The violent escalation started after Mexico’s attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam announced last Friday that a large group of young people were killed on the night of the student’s arrest and disappearance (26 September) in a municipal garbage dump in Cocula, in the southern state of Guerrero. Jesus Murillo added that the victims were burned on a pyre for 14 hours making it almost impossible for authorities to identify the bodies.


mexico missing students

A woman participates in a protest in Mexico City, calling for the Mexican government to investigate the disappearance of 43 students(AFP)

But it was his last sentence that enraged people on social media, who seized the opportunity to publicly criticise the government. “No more questions. I’m tired of this,” he said. The hashtag #YaMeCanse (I’m tired) started trending on Twitter soon afterwards, along with #Ayotzinapa the place where the students were enrolled in teacher training before they went missing.

Critics and parents of the victims accused the government of trying to shut down the case, the investigation into which is based on the confessions of three drug cartel hit men. To further complicate the picture there’s the usual security crisis engulfing parts of Mexico, where drug gangs have taken over municipal governments and in some cases are working side by side with local officers.

In the latest case, the students, enrolled in the Centre for economic teaching and research at the Raul Isidro Burgos college of Normal de Ayotzinapa, were shot at while travelling in four buses by police officers acting under the orders of Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca. According to reports, Abarca did not want the students coming into the town to disrupt a speech by his wife, Maria de Los Angeles Pineda.

Six students were killed on the spot while others werehanded over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang. Abarca and his wife were arrested in Mexico City earlier this month.

“Our government is so closely tied to criminal organisations that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins,” Natassja Ybarra Klor, Mexico City-based writer who took part to the protest told IBTimes UK.

“Anybody with a voice strong and loud enough to be heard is immediately intimidated by either or both, and in extreme cases, if they’re courageous enough to carry on, they’re incarcerated or executed.”

“I think the situation is best defined by this horrific scenario: after ordering police officers to ‘get rid’ of the protesting students that were interrupting his wife’s political act, Abarca, mayor of Iguala, danced,” she continued. “As they were brutally murdered (at least in the version presented by the PGR) and burned to ashes, he and his wife danced.”

Abarca has been accused in the past of direct participation in torture and murders of activists.

Challenging the government

mexico missing students

Protesters set fire to the wooden door of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ceremonial palace in Mexico City during a protest denouncing the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers, who were abducted six weeks ago(Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Tens of thousands of people marched in Mexico City, the capital.

The demonstration, largely peaceful, took a wrong turn when 20 protesters briefly set fire to the door of the National Palace, used for official ceremonies by President Enrique Peña Nieto

However, activists point the finger at the government, claiming provocateurs were in place to scare the public and divert the attention to the real issues. Authorities allegedly did nothing to stop the attack.

“It’s hard to pinpoint whether the ‘looters’ are just angry citizens, a handful of punks or government thugs. Either way, they’ve managed to divert attention from what really counts,” said Natassja Ybarra Klor.

She claims that the protest movement has moved on from its students base to encompass other social classes and generations.

“Every protest I go to, I see mothers, fathers, children, artists, unions, universities, all types of ordinary citizens and even catholic priests. It’s a full force, plural and diverse social movement. And as we work past our pain and turn our anger into positive propositions I believe that yes, we are challenging the government.”