Tag Archives: Indigenous community

Berta Caceres’ Daughter Blasts Police Repression of Activists

Police cracked down activists in Tegucigalpa during a peaceful protest by Indigenous communities and groups. | Photo: COPINH

Police cracked down activists in Tegucigalpa during a peaceful protest by Indigenous communities and groups. | Photo: COPINH

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By teleSUR English

The protesters were asking for justice after the killing of another environmentalist in Honduras when police violently evacuated the area.

Honduran security forces clashed with environmentalists, students and peasants on Thursday, who were protesting to demand justice following the assassination of two predominant leaders in the country.

Members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, which was once led by globally-renowned activist Berta Caceres who was murdered this year for opposing the construction of a dam, were also part of the peaceful protest.

Berta Zuñiga, daughter of Caceres, now heads the organization and pointed out that although her family and COPINH have police protection they were stopped from protesting less than two hours after Thursday’s march began.

The different organizations demonstrated outside the Public Ministry in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and were met with water cannon and tear gas.

“We were met with weapons and repression, even when they knew there were children and elders,” Zuñiga said during a press conference after the police crackdown.

According to Zuñiga, corporate interest and the Honduran state are responsible for the death of her mother. She says the mining companies targeted Caceres for her work defending the natural resources of the Indigenous community of Lenca while Honduran authorities failed to protect her despite clear threats to her life.

“No company or the Honduran state has the right to come to our territory, destroy our forests and sources of water, divide our communities, and kill our leaders and our voices,” said Zuñiga.

The different organizations demonstrated outside the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa and were met with water tanks, tear gas and strong police repression.

“We will continue to demand what lawfully belongs to us, we won’t back down,” said Zuñiga. During the press conference members of COPINH chanted, “She has multiplied, Berta lives, the struggle continues!”

The organizations also rallied to ask for an unbiased and formal investigation into the murder of Jose Angel Flores, president of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan MUCA, who was killed Tuesday.

honduras_1-png_907202692 honduras_2-png_1624527709

“#Honduras Fragments of tear gas used in the peaceful protests called by COPINH.”

The protesters denounced Honduran authorities for declaring the killing of Flores the result of an internal conflict among peasant organizations without properly investigating the crime.

Victor Fernandez, lawyer for the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, said both killings were selective and follow a pattern of impunity. Since the 2009 coup against ex-President Manuel Zelaya, more than 200 activist leaders have been killed in the country.

Caceres’ associates believe that the Honduran company behind the dam project she rallied against, Desarrollos Energéticos, or DESA, and the Honduran government hired contract killers to murder activists like her.


This project was opposed by the Lenca Indigenous people and by environmentalists in Honduras. The Lenca community was not consulted about the dam project, which would have flooded a significant tract of Indigenous land and cut off water supplies, which are required by law.

Caceres’ family and COPINH members have demanded an independent probe since day one, expressing skepticism in the justice system to carry out a reliable investigation given its track record of corruption, impunity and botched cases.

Article originally published in teleSUR English October 20, 2016


Thunder Bay Police Officer’s Facebook Post Prompts Professional Standards Investigation

Thunder Bay police said they 'would like to apologize to our Indigenous community for the hurt' that may have been caused by comments allegedly made by a police officer on social media.

Thunder Bay police said they ‘would like to apologize to our Indigenous community for the hurt’ that may have been caused by comments allegedly made by a police officer on social media.

Police apologize to Indigenous community for ‘the hurt these comments may cause’

CBC, September 30, 2016

A Thunder Bay, Ont., police officer who posted on Facebook that “Natives are killing Natives” is the subject of an internal investigation launched Thursday by the city’s police service.

The comments were posted by Const. Rob Steudle, a director with the police association and a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.

Steudle was responding to a post on the local paper’s Facebook page on Sept. 17.

Thunder Bay police say this is the Facebook post that prompted their internal investigation. (Facebook)

Thunder Bay police say this is the Facebook post that prompted their internal investigation. (Facebook)

Steudle does not identify himself as a police officer on his Facebook profile.

CBC News has verified Steudle’s identity, and Thunder Bay police spokesman Chris Adams confirmed the post is the one referred to in the media release announcing the investigation into comments “alleged” to involve members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.

“These types of comments are not acceptable,” Adams said. “They do not reflect the values of the Thunder Bay Police Service. We would like to apologize to our Indigenous community for the hurt these comments may cause.”

Here is a timeline leading to the launch of the internal police investigation:

  • Sept. 13: CBC News reports allegations that a race-relations trainer was verbally assaulted by Thunder Bay police officerswhile delivering a session on Indigenous issues
  • Sept. 14-15: The local paper, the Chronicle Journal, writes an article and an editorial downplaying the concerns raised by the trainer.
  • Sept. 16: Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler writes a letter to the editor of the Chronicle Journal about the response by the police and the newspaper to the concerns about the race relations training. The letter is posted on Facebook.
  • Sept. 17-18: Rob Steudle posts several comments on the Facebook posting.
  • Sept. 29: Thunder Bay police respond to an APTN reporter’s request for comment on the Facebook post.

“We would like to thank the reporter from APTN News for bringing these comments forward to police,” the force said in the news release issued on Thursday.

The professional standards investigation comes as the Thunder Bay police are facing a systemic review by the province’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director for the way the service handles investigations into the deaths of Indigenous people.

Earlier this week, Ottawa police launched an investigation into a complaint that an Ottawa police officer made “troubling” commentson social media related to the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook.


Indigenous Leaders Applaud Tragically Hip Frontman ‘Gord Downie’ For First Nations Advocacy

The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press, August 23, 2016

Leaders of Canada’s indigenous community say they feel stunned and grateful to Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie for training the spotlight on issues plaguing First Nations.

Downie spoke passionately of struggles in Canadian native communities during what was widely presumed to be the iconic band’s final performance on Saturday in Kingston, Ont.

Addressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in the audience to take in the show, Downie expressed fears that Canada’s beleaguered indigenous peoples are perhaps in more dire straits today than they have ever been.

The singer, who’s battling terminal brain cancer, said he believed Trudeau could help bring about meaningful change and called upon Canadians to be more mindful of northern affairs.

Indigenous leaders say Downie’s assessment is accurate and thanked him for taking time to speak up for their communities in the midst of his own struggle.

They say Downie’s words are yet another powerful call for change that they hope both politicians and regular citizens will heed.


Indigenous Drumming To The Rescue: A Beat We Might Hear A Lot This Summer


Jackie Traverse, left, with niece Shanastene McLeod (CBC)

By Jillian Taylor | CBC News

Indigenous community using culture to draw women back to their roots and out of trouble.

Too often we are drumming for our women after they are gone. That is what Shanastene McLeod’s mom and auntie said to me while they were going house to house in the North End looking for her.

They’re scared she will end up on the list of missing and murdered indigenous women. Shanastene is 25. Her family says she is addicted to drugs and she bounces between “crack shacks” and doesn’t come home. They’re scared she’s being sexually exploited.

Shanastene McLeod

Up to 100 people at times gathered outside homes where they believed Shanastene McLeod was staying, trying to get her to come out. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

Out of desperation the family did something remarkable. They put a call out to the community to bring their drums and call Shanastene home with traditional music.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. There were close to 100 people gathered outside of a home they thought she was in. Dozens of drums. Women in long skirts. The smell of sage and sweetgrass in the air.

It was ceremonial. Then the singing started. I was standing with Calvin Alexander who helps out with Drag The Red. He had tears in his eyes.

Community strong

It’s about time, he said. “This is the way to do it. Approaching these people, by sticking together. This is safety.”

He was talking about the drug dealers and gangs in the community.

Shanastene McLeod

People walked through Winnipeg’s North End Tuesday night, looking for Shanastene McLeod. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

I asked him how he felt seeing this one of a kind gathering. “Emotional,” he said. “I feel the drums. I feel the pain.”

I had to agree with him. Every drum beat was running through my body. The women kneeling around the big drum were singing the strong woman song. Strength was definitely in the air.

“The community is strong, stronger than these drug dealers,” yelled McLeod’s father David Beauchamp.

He told me he lived that life, but it’s in his past. A past he wants to use to set an example and clean up the neighbourhood. He said he wants a better future for his grandchildren, Shanastene’s kids.

The group was intense. Men stood guard around the women like warriors. Modern day warriors, in their ball caps and hoodies.

As the women sang, the men went to the door. Inside, was a crying woman. They tried to get her to come outside, but she wouldn’t.

Shanastene McLeod

People concerned that Shanastene McLeod, 25, would end up on the list of missing and murdered indigenous women went to three homes before finding her. She came out of the house, but refused to leave it. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

It wasn’t Shanastene.

But she gave another address of where she might be. The group started walking. Drums beating.

Again, they circled another house. Singing, drumming and hoping Shanastene was inside.

No luck. But another lead. On to the third address.

This time we walked about 10 blocks. As the music approached, people emerged from their homes. It was hard to ignore the group chanting ‘No More Stolen Sisters.’

Curious. Proud. That is how I would describe the onlookers. The drum just does something to us indigenous people.
It calms us and gives us strength.

That night everyone was marching to the beat of the same drum.

The community took an issue into their own hands. Their presence was a message to drug dealers, gangs – leave our women alone.

They tried to be peaceful, but yes things got heated.

Two women kicked in the first door. People were yelling at others in the homes, yelling at police.

Shanastene Jackie

Jackie Traverse, left, tries to persuade Shanastene McLeod to leave the place where she’s been staying, for her own sake. McLeod told them she was staying. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

Frustration bubbled over. I guess that’s what happens when there are 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

This community has clearly hit their breaking point.

Sending a message

You know what, their strategy worked. Shanastene was in the neighbourhood and she came outside.

Jackie Traverse wrapped her arms around her and scolded her in a loving auntie kind of way. She told her she was loved and she had to check in with her family more often.

Shanastene was crying. Resistant at first. But eventually smiled. Jackie tried her best to get her to come home, but she wouldn’t. So she grabbed my notepad and wrote down her number for her niece. I asked her what she thought of everyone there. She said it was nice, but didn’t look impressed. Then had a smoke with her family.

It was almost the outcome they wanted. Bittersweet. She came to them. But she didn’t leave with them.

The whole point of the night was to send a message to any woman or girl, in any one of those homes, who may be sexually exploited, addicted, or worse – that the community cares. People are there for them.

I saw a community sick of violence, sick of addiction, sick of losing its women. I also saw a new spirit, a new attitude, and a lot of new faces in the crowd.

This may not solve problems, but maybe it will save someone.

I think what it will do, is unite a community who no longer wants to be seen as broken.