A protester stands on a desk in the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada office Wednesday. Protesters occupied the office to urge Ottawa to address the Attawapiskat, Ont., suicide crisis. (Facebook / Idle No More Toronto)
Idle No More, Black Lives Matter protesters occupy Toronto Indigenous and Northern Affairs office
Protest to urge government action during Attawapiskat suicide crisis has been non-violent, say police
Protesters have been occupying the Toronto office of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) since mid-morning, demanding that the federal government take action following a recent spate of suicide attempts in Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.
Toronto police who arrived after 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday say protesters removed a Canadian flag from the office, but that the protest has been non-violent.
As many as 20 protesters entered the office about 10:45 a.m. ET. (Facebook / Idle No More Toronto)
As many as 20 members of Idle No More and Black Lives Matter flooded the office at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue East.
They say they are standing in solidarity with the Attawapiskat community, which declared a state of emergency Saturday following reports of 11 suicide attempts in one day alone last weekend.
Protesters refuse to leave the premises until INAC officials speak with them directly.
“We would like to hear that they are doing more than just sending social workers after the fact. There are so many issues at stake,” protester Carrie Lester told CBC Toronto by phone.
“We’re prepared to stay as long as it takes,” Lester said. “Once we have got that determination … then, we are fine to go.”
Officials from Health Canada said on Tuesday afternoon that 18 health workers, mental-health workers and police were being dispatched to support the Attawapiskat community.
“Our government wants to assure First Nations that we are personally and directly engaged in the recent states of emergencies that have been declared,” reads a statement by Health Minister Jane Philpott.
Lester said it is not enough and protesters want to see the federal government taking more action.
Black Lives Matter interrupting a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board.
The RCMP created a fake social media accounts to reach out to protest groups from Black Lives Matter Toronto to Idle No More.
The RCMP set up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts to monitor activists activities.
Was Bebop Arooney a Facebook friend of yours? If so, your account may have been monitored by the RCMP.
A report in the Toronto Star says the RCMP posed as a curious, cash-strapped student to obtain information on protests and rallies.
The social media account, had a profile picture of three penguins frolicking on a beach, tracked the Facebook pages of more than two dozen organizations in Toronto, ranging from Black Lives Matter Toronto and Idle No More to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
The RCMP kept tabs on Toronto protest groups using this Facebook profile.
“This is the disgusting reality of working for justice for black people,” Black Lives Matter Toronto said in a statement to The Star. “You get treated as a threat, like you were doing something wrong.”
Documents obtained by The Star under the Access to Information Act show the RCMP prodding organizers of an anti-Novotel union rally in 2012 with seemingly harmless questions about the availability of free food and refreshments at the rally.
But Lis Pimental, the president of the union that planned the demonstration, found nothing harmless about the covert social media activity.
“The idea that the RCMP would attempt to interfere with the charter-protected rights of workers simply underscores the importance of those very rights,” she told The Star.
“It’s unacceptable for any employer to do it. It is doubly unacceptable for the RCMP, who are supposed to be here to protect us, to do it.”
The RCMP admitted that it created the fake Facebook profile, and a separate Twitter account (@angrycitizen123) but told The Star it no longer uses them to track activists.
“The (Facebook) account mentioned was opened in 2005 for operational reasons, and since that time, the RCMP’s social media practices have changed and evolved and now we use an official media account for such purposes,” a spokesperson told The Star.
The Facebook profile was deleted Thursday, but the Twitter account is still active.
Bebop Arooney @angrycitizen123 Twitter Account
If Idle No More had a scrappy older brother, 1990’s ‘Indian Summer’ would be it.
That historic summer started the moment Manitoba’s iconic MLA Elijah Harper clutched his eagle feather and helped kill the Meech Lake Accord in the province’s legislature.
By the time the leaves changed, Canada had been gripped by a 78-day stand off near Oka, Que., by the Mohawk community of Kanesatake and nationwide protests born of years of frustration. Scholars now contend that summer, especially the Oka crisis, was a “flashpoint event” in Canadian history.
“It demonstrated that we could take a stand together and we could make a difference. We made history,” said former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine of Meech’s defeat. “This was about having a very clear vision, knowing our place in Canada and (being) able to articulate very forcefully and clearly and respectfully the acceptance we were looking for from the rest of the country.”
If Meech proved First Nations wouldn’t be ignored, University of Manitoba political scientist Kiera Ladner said the Oka crisis a few weeks later demonstrated the true cost of ignoring indigenous peoples.
But, a generation later, indigenous people are not much closer to any real form of sovereignty.
Nearly all the issues at play during the summer of 1990 — outstanding land claims, control over resource development on traditional lands, genuine national consultation and everyday poverty and racism — still remain. Any moves toward indigenous self-government have been piecemeal and local — the Nisga’a Treaty in British Columbia and the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation agreement last year in Manitoba, a handful of incremental Supreme Court decisions that stop short of saying First Nations have an inherent right to self-government, local initiatives such as the east-side land-use planning process in Manitoba or even the stalled devolution of child welfare.
In fact, First Nations would argue that, for every step forward, there are steps back. Take for example the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. And, as during the Meech era, there’s significant dissent among indigenous groups. In particular, the Assembly of First Nations and its leadership are often at odds with the grassroots, including many in the Idle No More movement.
The kinds of conflicts that erupted in 1990 still erupt, with little framework to resolve them on a national scale. The idea that mega-constitional meetings might be used as a venue to establish a new relationship between Canada and its first peoples doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s radar.
Meech’s defeat gave rise to the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, another attempt to resolve long-standing disputes over the division of federal and provincial powers. That deal was defeated in a national referendum, but the process that led up to it was very different. This time, aboriginal leaders were at the table when the deal was hammered out. The failed accord also contained a clause approving in principle the concept of aboriginal self-government, and defining it, however imperfectly.
Had it passed, Charlottetown would have been a step forward for indigenous self-government, said Ladner.
Instead, said Fontaine and Ovide Mercredi, another Manitoba-born giant of the era, aboriginal people have yet to be officially recognized as of one of Canada’s founding partners. The status quo of Canada’s two founding nations prevails, and First Nations constitutional issues largely remain about jurisdiction. Are they a federal “problem” or a provincial one?
“Meech was about the future, not just resistance to exclusion on our part,” said Mercredi, who helped negotiate the Charlottetown Accord as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “And the country fell asleep and the leaders of exclusion took over and a vision of a better Canada with indigenous people helping to perfect it has been buried once again in ignorance and shame.”
Instead of endless constitutional debate, many indigenous leaders have turned their focus to documents that typically predate Canada’s collection of constitutional legislation — the treaties. Leaders such as Manitoba’s Derek Nepinak hold those documents as the basis for a modern relationship, but it’s often unclear what the treaties mean in a modern context. Treaty conflicts over land claims, promises for education and health services and resource development take years to resolve. Witness Kapyong Barracks, Winnipeg’s most visible relic of what several southern Manitoba First Nations say is a treaty promise unfulfilled.
In the meantime, defining exactly what self-government might mean remains largely the domain of academics. Is it the creation of a parallel system by individual nations, each with their own education, health, welfare and justice systems, and their own governments that exist, somehow, alongside Canada? Or, are First Nations a kind of third order of government similar to a province or a municipality? Or, since aboriginal peoples will always be Canadian, is it possible to create a common political culture, where indigenous values are embedded and enhanced?
While that debate takes place, largely beyond the public eye, Ladner and Fontaine note that indigenous people are focusing on economic power, and revitalizing their communities from within.
In the years since Meech, aboriginal people have made great strides in the business world, said Fontaine, who now operates his own consulting firm and is a special advisor to the Royal Bank of Canada. There are 40,000 businesses owned and managed by aboriginal people in Canada, he said. More indigenous people are graduating from high school and universities than ever before. They’re being appointed as judges, university presidents and getting elected to office in greater numbers.
And, noted Ladner, the new generation of indigenous activists are looking at rebuilding from the inside, beyond the constraints of Indian Act rules or endless negotiations with government over funding or control. That includes creating their own economic development opportunities such as urban reserves.
“There’s a different political goal than just constitutional change because there a recognition that Canada will never give over the power,” said Ladner. “Political activities are about rebuilding nations… There’s a ‘just do it’ approach.”
3:45 pm – Water Blessing Ceremony (please bring a container of water from your area)
4:00 pm – Closing Prayer
In solidarity with our Alaskan brothers and sisters in the Arctic, and all the Coast Salish tribes who are the original stewards of the Salish Sea we come together in a good way to unify in Spirit for prayer, ceremony, and songs to bring a peaceful resolution to preserve and protect the Arctic from the proposed drilling by Shell.
We invite all our Native brothers and sisters to join us in support of not allowing Royal Dutch Shell to use the Port of Seattle Terminal #5 for their drilling rigs, stopping the drilling in the Arctic, and how could we instead support sustainable energy sources. We must ask how can we support Alaska Natives in finding other sources of revenue and work that is not devastating to their traditional way of life, contribute to climate change, and rising sea levels.
We will have travel stipends available for canoe families coming from far away, reserve some hotel rooms with double beds for Friday (sorry for the late notice, but we would need to know before Friday if you need a room), a dinner on Friday at 6 pm. Please contact Sweetwater if your canoe family can make it and how we can assist with accommodations. Bring your drums, regalia, signs, and be #IdleNoMore
PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY. We encourage public transit. There will be a shuttle from a nearby parking area. Traffic will be very congested and may take 30-45min longer than normal.
Driving Directions from the north to Seacrest Marina
1) Merge onto I-5 S.
2) Take EXIT 163A toward W Seattle Br/Columbian Way/W Seattle Br N.
3) Merge onto W Seattle Bridge W toward Spokane St N.
Days after the Foss Maritime announced that they intended to defy Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and illegally host Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet, Seattle activists have blockaded Shell’s Seattle fuel transfer station by erecting a tripod.
Photo: RisingTideNA (Twitter) 2015-05-12
Next week, thousands of protestors from Seattle and beyond plan to converge at terminal 5 and Harbor Island to non-violently resist the progress of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs and support vessels. On May 16 a family-friendly Paddle in Seattle will rally people on water and land to protest their presence. Then May 18, activists plan direct action on land. Read more about “Festival of Resistance” at Shellno.org.
The report was part of a series of updates by Russett of the goings-on inside Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s camp on Victoria Island which was set up during her liquids-only fast during the height of the Idle No More movement.
The RCMP issued a statement distancing the federal police force from the comparison.
“It is unfortunate that one of our employees has referred in an internal email to the Idle No More movement in such a manner,” said Gagnon, in the statement, sent to APTN National News. “The RCMP apologizes to anyone who may have been offended by this unfortunate choice of words to describe the Idle No More movement.”
While Russett’s site report primarily provided close to real-time details of the evolving situation inside Spence’s camp, it also included a discussion of the Idle No More movement.
“This Idle No More movement is like bacteria, it has grown a life of its own all across this nation,” wrote Russett, in the Dec.24, 2012, document. “It may be advisable for all to have contingency plans in place, as this is one issue that is not going to go away.”
The report also struck an ominous tone.
“There is a high probability that we could see flash mobs, round dances and blockades become much less compliant to laws in an attempt to get their point across,” said the site report. “The escalation of violence is ever near.”
The document was titled, “Chief Spense’s Hunger Strike and the Idle No More Movement (sic)” and classified “for law enforcement only.”