Tag Archives: Indigenous Rights

Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs demand inclusion in negotiations with government

People take part in a protest in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern B.C. near Confederation Bridge in Borden, Prince Edward Island on Feb. 17, 2020. With the hereditary chiefs now on a fast track to settle Indigenous rights and title, elected leaders who have approved the pipeline project say they cannot be ignored. JOHN MORRIS/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Elected band council chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation are demanding a voice on the tentative agreement reached this past weekend between hereditary chiefs and the governments of Canada and British Columbia, saying negotiations so far have taken place without their involvement.

The division between elected and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en has been exposed by the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their traditional lands. Now, as the hereditary chiefs are on a fast track to settle Indigenous rights and title, elected leaders who have approved the pipeline project say they cannot be ignored.

“Negotiation of this agreement to date has moved forward without our Wet’suwet’en communities,” the elected chiefs representing the Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, Skin Tyee Nation, Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake) First Nation, Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Witset First Nation stated in a joint news release.

“We need to be engaged in our feast hall, in our respective communities to ensure all of our clan members are heard and acknowledged.”

Chief Patricia Prince, of the Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, said Tuesday the hereditary chiefs, through the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society, have invited her community to travel to Smithers, B.C., to discuss the terms of the proposed agreement, which have not been publicly disclosed.

“I’m not sure I can load up all our members and take them there,” she said in an interview. “We need collaboration. I would like to see them come to our communities and address our members.”

Sparked by a countrywide conflict over the pipeline, representatives of the hereditary chiefs and the Indigenous relations ministers for Canada and British Columbia met for three days in Smithers last week.

The pipeline dispute remains unresolved, with hereditary chiefs remaining opposed to the project. But the negotiations resulted in a proposal to expedite negotiations to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title, pending ratification by Wet’suwet’en clan members.

The Wet’suwet’en say their unceded traditional territory covers 22,000 square kilometres in British Columbia. About 190 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline route cross Wet’suwet’en territory.

There have been solidarity protests across the country since early February, when the RCMP arrested 28 people along a B.C. logging road while enforcing a court order sought by Coastal GasLink to gain access to pipeline work sites.

B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser said Tuesday he has been in touch with both the elected and hereditary chiefs about the ratification process that is expected to conclude by March 13.

He said in an interview he expects the ratification will include both elected and hereditary leaders – and the Wet’suwet’en people.

“It’s an opportunity to address rights and title issues, and governance issues, in a meaningful way,” he said. “I’m urging all to make sure that it’s an inclusive process that will withstand scrutiny.”

However, Mr. Fraser is unclear of the details of how the ratification will be conducted. He referred to a vote, but the traditional governance of the Wet’suwet’en is through feasts, where hereditary leaders are held accountable to their people.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation comprises five clans, under which there are 13 house groups, each with a hereditary head chief position (four are currently vacant). One house chief has taken a neutral position on the pipeline project.

There are eight hereditary house chiefs spanning the five clans who are opposed to Coastal GasLink. So far, three of the clans scheduled meetings this week.

Organizers have been seeking to set up access for off-reserve members to listen in on the meetings.

The Wet’suwet’en have been fighting for recognition of their rights and title for decades and a resolution is not expected quickly. But the consultation process now taking place is expected to lead to some clarity about the opposition to the pipeline within the community.

Elected band councils along the pipeline route have signed benefit agreements to work with the company.

The elected chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Maureen Luggi, said engagement by the hereditary chiefs has been “extremely minimal,” but she said the hereditary chiefs have agreed to come to her community on March 11 to outline the proposed deal.

Chief Luggi said this is the time for the elected and hereditary leaders to come together. “We want to work with them and be on the same page,” she said in an interview. “People in the public say the Wet’suwet’en need to resolve our matters, and I agree with that.”

While some protests continue, CN announced Tuesday it has started calling back most of the rail company’s temporarily laid off employees based in Eastern Canada.

More than 1,400 trains, including passenger trains, were delayed or cancelled because of the blockades, but there have been no significant illegal actions since the weekend.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said it was a “positive development” for railways, CN workers and communities affected by recent rail disruptions. “I’m pleased to see our railway network on its way to recovery,” Mr. Garneau said on Twitter.

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail.

[SOURCE]

Burnt body of British environmental activist found at youth hostel in Peru

Police cordoned off the murder scene at the youth hostel Paul McAuley ran in Iquitos

A British Catholic missionary and environmental activist Paul McAuley, was found dead in a hostel for indigenous students in Peru.

The body of McAuley, 71, was discovered last week by students in the city of Iquitos on the Amazon river.

The religious order to which he belonged said in a statement that the body had been burned.

According to The Guardian, a forensic expert in Peru has confirmed that McAuley was dead before his body was burned.

The head forensic doctor in Peru’s Loreto region, Francisco Moreno, said it was difficult to determine the cause of death and more pathological and toxicological tests were being conducted but it could take between three to six months to know the results.

Authorities questioned six indigenous youth who lived in the hostel he managed in a poor area of the isolated city.

The death of McAuley is still under investigation.

Born in Portsmouth, the activist lived in Peru for more than 20 years.

He had worked on behalf of the country’s indigenous communities to battle powerful oil and mining interests.

Paul McAuley, 71, originally from Portsmouth, was found burned to death in Peru

McAuley attracted international attention in 2010 when the Peruvian government ordered his expulsion. He was accused of causing unrest among the indigenous population for protesting against the destruction of the environment. This resulted in hundreds of people demonstrating for him and allowing him to stay in the South American country after a long trial.

Environmental groups were quick to pay tribute to McAuley after his death.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit group, said he “fought peacefully for indigenous rights and forests in Peru.”

It added: “His death should be investigated. Rest in peace, Brother Paul, we will continue the fight.”

The group’s Peru programs director Julia Urrunaga tweeted: “What tough news. A great man who did a lot for indigenous communities, their rights and the forests.”

Winnipegers Rally for Indigenous Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thousands call on MPs to vote for Bill C-262 and adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

WINNIPEG, MB—On Saturday, September 23, starting at 1 pm, a group of Indigenous peoples and settlers from Winnipeg (Treaty 1 territory) will walk 12 km from Stephen Juba Park to a public gathering at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba to urge the Canadian government to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

The Declaration is a landmark document that provides a framework for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and a guide for legislators, courts, human rights groups, and other institutions. The adoption of the Declaration was one of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In April 2017, NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who spent 23 years at the UN helping negotiate the Declaration, tabled a private member’s bill, Bill C-262. The bill provides a legislative framework for how the Declaration would be implemented and monitored in Canada. The anticipated date for Bill C-262’s second reading is October 18.

Senator Murray Sinclair, environmentalist David Suzuki, Conservative MP Candice Bergen, and singer-songwriter Steve Bell are a few of the thousands of Canadians who have lent their signatures in support of Bill C-262.

“We’re urging our MPs to vote for Bill C-262,” says Leah Gazan, an Indigenous rights advocate who teaches at the University of Winnipeg. “The Liberal government promised to implement all 94 of the TRC’s calls to action and fully adopt the UN Declaration. I’m holding them to their promise.”

While the Canadian government supports the UN Declaration in theory, so far there is no legislative framework for its implementation and review; Bill C-262 provides both.

A key right supported by the UN Declaration is free, prior and informed consent: the right of Indigenous peoples to say “yes” or “no” to initiatives such as resource projects that impact their lands and lives.

“I’m behind this issue not in addition to, or in spite of my Christian faith, but precisely because of it,” says Steve Bell. “The gospel message is inextricably bound to issues of justice. The Scriptures take a dim view of those who possess by dispossession.”

In Winnipeg, Bill C-262 has gathered a broad coalition of grassroots supporters from churches, mosques, and community organizations.

Community organizer Michael Redhead Champagne plans to bring a group of Indigenous youth on the walk. “As an Indigenous man, I’m afraid to have children because of how I’ve seen Indigenous families treated here,” says Champagne. “The UN Declaration would guarantee that their rights would be respected.”

After the march, Winnipeggers will convene at 6:30 pm at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature stories and performances by Ray ‘Coco’ Stevenson, Ry Moran director of NCTR, Leonard Sumner, Shahina Siddiqui and others.

Sign Petition here: http://www.adoptandimplement.com/
Read Bill C-262 here: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/…/bill/C-262/first-reading (the bill includes the 46 articles of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)

Walk the Talk Coalition For Bill C-262 is a grassroots organization of people supporting Bill C-262.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The NCTR is located at the University of Manitoba and works in partnership with a wide variety of agencies and organizations to advance Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

Posted: Sept. 13, 2017

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Tribes in Peru Seize Oil Facilities Operated by Canadian Company

Indigenous tribes seize facilities at Peru oil field, warn of wider uprising 

Indigenous people living on Peru’s largest oil field concession have seized facilities operated by Frontera Energy.

They are demanding that the government apply an indigenous rights law before signing a new contract with the Canadian company.

Passed in 2011 the so-called prior consultation law, requires the government to seek input from indigenous people before approving any development plans that might affect them.

Tribal chiefs in Frontera’s Block 192 said the government has refused to carry out the consultation process even though it is negotiating a new contract with Frontera, whose 2-year contract is due to expire this month.

Protesters from the indigenous community had taken control of oil drums and other facilities to curb output in Block 192.

“If the government says it’ll carry out prior consultation, we’ll automatically end the protest” – Wilmer Chavez, chief of the community of Los Jardines

The same installation was hit with an occupation which began in April and ended in June. Indigenous communities had demanded US$1 million from Frontera for use of their territory.

Photo of occupation by El Commercio

Frontera, which produced some 7,500 barrels a day from Block 192 in July, said in a statement that it values community consent and that only the government could legally carry out prior consultation.

Amazonian tribes in Block 192 want the government to sign new commitments for the clean-up of oil pollution and for access to health care and education in the remote region before awarding Frontera a new contract.

Other Indigenous groups in the region are backing the occupation and warn there will be a wider uprising unless Peru begins proper consultations.

Nearly 25 representatives from some 120 Indigenous communities have been in Lima since Monday to talk with the government officials about the issue.

Chiefs of Amazonian tribes attend a news conference with the foreign media in Lima, Aug. 22, 2017.

Four other chiefs, speaking to foreign media in Lima described similar demands in the 16 out of 20 villages they represent in Block 192 and vowed to stage their own protests unless prior consultation was applied.

Carlos Sandi, chief of the Corrientes River basin, told reporters that the government must fulfill its promises to clean up oil pollution that is sickening local residents.

U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp operated Block 192 for about 40 years before Argentine energy company Pluspetrol took over in 2001.

Video of occupation by El Commercio

Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds Land Rights of Indigenous People

A member of Brazil’s riot police trains his gun at Brazilian Indians. Photograph: Gregg Newton/Reuters

Land rights activists applaud rejection of case brought by Brazilian state that claimed it was due compensation for award of territory to native inhabitants

The Brazilian supreme court has ruled in favour of two tribes in a case that is being hailed as a significant victory for indigenous land rights.

The unanimous decision – which went against the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – settled a dispute over land traditionally occupied by indigenous people and ordered the authorities to respect the demarcation of land.

Amid increasing conflict over land and diminishing rights for indigenous people in the country, the south-western Brazilian state had sought compensation of about 2bn reais (£493m) from the Brazilian government after land was declared as the territory of the Nambikwara and Pareci tribes.

A third case, involving Rio Grande do Sul state, was adjourned for 15 days.

“This is an important step towards achieving justice for indigenous people in Brazil,” said Tonico Benites, a Guarani leader. “This gives us hope the judiciary will protect our rights, which are guaranteed by the constitution and international law.”

Activists had feared judges would uphold a recommendation from the attorney general’s office that any tribe not occupying its ancestral land when Brazil’s new constitution came into force on 5 October 1988 would lose its right to live there – a time limit that had been called the worst blow to indigenous rights since the military dictatorship ended in 1985.

But Sarah Shenker, a campaigner with Survival International, said feelings were running high in Brazil against indigenous rights: “If the judges apply the same thinking in the third ruling, in theory [indigenous] land rights should be protected. But there is such a strong anti-indigenous campaign in Brazil at the moment that we have to be very careful.”

Benites said indigenous leaders would now work to overturn the 1988 cut-off date – a plan signed by President  Michel Temer last month and which critics claim is to win favour with the powerful agribusiness lobby, known as the ruralistas.

The deadline would not only halt new demarcations of indigenous land but also legitimise claims by ranchers and wealthy farmers who have long coveted Indian territories.

“It is a very cynical move,” said Juliana de Paula Batista, a lawyer working with the Socio-environmental Institute in Brasilia. “Since many indigenous people were violently expelled from their ancestral land in the colonial and military eras, they could not possibly have been living on this land in 1988.”

Campaigners have claimed Temer is using land rights as a bargaining chip to shore up his unpopular government.

Luiz Henrique Eloy Amado, a lawyer for Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (Apib), said: “The Temer government wants to remain at all costs, which requires the votes of the ruralista bloc.”

The attorney general’s recommendation of a time limit was greeted as a triumph in a video by ruralista federal deputy Luiz Carlos Heinze, potentially resulting in the dismissal of 90% of ongoing indigenous land claims. Hundreds of indigenous territories around Brazil are awaiting demarcation.

The Guarani-Kaiowás occupy only a fraction of their ancestral territories in Mato Grosso do Sul and their decades-long struggle has caused violent conflict with cattle ranchers and soy and sugar cane farmers.

Fiona Watson, director of campaigns for Survival International, estimated that 45,000 Guarani-Kaiowás would lose rights to land under the proposed cut-off point, as would other tribes across the south and north-east.

The 1988 deadline, the marco temporal, has triggered major protests across Brazil, organised by the Apib under the banner: “Our history did not start in 1988, no to the time limit”. Hundreds of people converged on Brasilia for the supreme court ruling on Wednesday.

Last week, 48 indigenous organisations and civil society bodies signed a letter to the UN high commissioner for human rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, denouncing violations since the 2016 visit of UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus, who noted a “worrying regression in the protection of indigenous people’s rights”.

Brazil has experienced a rise in homicides related to rural land disputes, with 37 people killed in the first five months of this year, eight more than died over the same period in 2016, according to the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit group.

Eliseu Lopes, a Guarani leader from Mato Grosso do Sul, expressed relief at the outcome: “The land conflict is already killing us. Imagine what it would be like if the proposal were approved,” he said. “It would legitimise the violence against us. The vote doesn’t solve all our problems, but it gives us some breathing space.”

By the Guardian published on August 17, 2017 

[SOURCE]