Standing Rock Sioux tribe challenges Corps findings on Dakota Access pipeline

A Standing Rock Sioux flag flies over a protest encampment near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where members of the Standing Rock nations and their supporters gathered to voice their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is leading a four-tribe lawsuit against the four-state pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, in court documents filed Thursday asked a federal judge to reject the findings.

“The corps has conducted a sham process to arrive at a sham conclusion, for the second time,” tribal Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement.

The pipeline has the capacity to move half of the oil produced daily in North Dakota, the nation’s second-leading producer behind Texas. It passes just north of the Standing Rock Reservation, beneath a Missouri River reservoir that is the tribe’s water source.

The pipeline has been moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois since June 2017. That same month, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Corps largely complied with environmental law when permitting the pipeline but needed to do more study of its impact to tribal rights. The Corps filed its work with the court in late August.

Standing Rock’s challenge says the Corps “failed to grapple with extensive technical input provided by the tribe and others undermining its conclusions.” The major example the tribe offered is information it says shows the Corps has underestimated the risk and impact of an oil spill.

The tribe continues to maintain that the only lawful way to resolve the matter would be through a full environmental study that includes consideration of route alternatives.

The Corps had planned to do a more extensive environmental study before President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and pushed through completion of the stalled project. The agency said in court documents in August that the additional study concluded a more thorough review is unwarranted. The tribe asks Boasberg to reject that conclusion.

By Associated Press

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Family of Colten Boushie files lawsuits against Gerald Stanley and RCMP

Gerald Stanley walks out of North Battleford provincial court after his first preliminary hearing on April 3, 2017. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

Almost two years after the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie his family has filed lawsuits against Gerald Stanley and the RCMP seeking total damages of more than $1.86 million.

The Star Phoenix reports, Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, and two of Boushie’s brothers are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the RCMP. Baptiste is the lone plaintiff in the lawsuit against Stanley.

Boushie, 22, was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2016 while sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that was driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.

In February, Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Boushie.

According to a statement of claim filed late Wednesday in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, the lawsuit against Stanley claims the “death of Colten Boushie is a direct result of the negligent, reckless or intentional acts of the defendant, Gerald Stanley.”

In the suit, the family claims Stanley failed to assess or monitor the risk of the situation and failed to contact police to deal with any potential risk. In the lawsuit, the family claims Stanley then used “excessive force when it was uncalled for,” shot Boushie at “point blank range” in the back of his head when he wasn’t a threat and did not administer or call for any medical assistance. It also says that Stanley’s wife, Leesa, is a registered nurse and didn’t take any action to provide life-saving measures.

The suit is seeking over $400,000, including $30,000 in damages to be paid directly to Baptiste, $20,000 in funeral expenses, $60,000 in grief counselling, $60,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, $100,000 in lost employment earnings for Baptiste, and $200,000 in “aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages to be proven at trial.”

Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Colten Boushie, holds a photo of him outside provincial court in North Battleford on April 6, 2017. (CTV Saskatoon)

A separate court filing by the family is also calling for $1.45 million in damages to be paid by members of the RCMP.

The lawsuit lists seven RCMP officers as defendants, along with the Attorney General of Canada, and alleges they conducted an “unlawful search” of Baptiste’s home the night of Boushie’s shooting.

The plaintiffs claim the RCMP “deliberately engaged in discrimination by subjecting three proud members of the Red Pheasant First Nation to ridicule, unlawful searches, and humiliating breath tests.”

None of the claims made in the lawsuit have been proven in a court of law.

The defendants have 30 days to respond.

In a statement to media, RCMP said “Our sympathies remain with the family and friends of Colten Boushie, who have suffered such a tragic loss.”

“We are fully cooperating with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC). The CRCC is investigating the death of Mr. Boushie and the events that followed, including the next of kin notification, the search of the family residence, and the dissemination of media releases. The RCMP’s handling of an initial complaint filed by a family member is also under review by the CRCC,” the statement reads.

RCMP said they had no further comment on the lawsuit, since it was before the courts.

$1.1B Lawsuit alleges Horrors at Canada’s ‘Indian Hospitals’

Dynevor Indian Hospital is seen during the 1920s. (Source: Archives of Manitoba, Rupert’s Land Collection 152, N29451)

A $1.1-billion class-action lawsuit alleges the federal government is liable for the suffering and mistreatment of Aboriginal patients admitted to 29 “Indian hospitals” between 1945 and 1981.

The lawsuit contends that patients of these segregated hospitals were routinely sexually assaulted, beaten with rods and sticks, held in isolation rooms for long periods, deprived of food and drink without medical reason, physically restrained to beds and forced to eat their own vomit.

It alleges the government was fully aware of the “widespread physical, psychological, emotional, cultural and sexual abuses” but continued to operate the hospitals and “permit the perpetration of grievous harm.”

“I think people would be shocked to know that for almost 40 years Canada was operating a segregated health-care system, designing and implementing hospitals just for Indigenous Canadians where they first treated for tuberculosis, but ultimately expanded to include all other illnesses,” said Jonathan Ptak, a partner with Koskie Minsky, a Toronto law firm handling the case.

“They were taken from their homes, often in remote locations, and treated in these substandard hospitals,” he told CTV News Channel Tuesday.

The statement of claim, filed Jan. 25, alleges patients were “forcibly confined” in “overcrowded, poorly staffed and unsanitary facilities where they suffered consistent physical and sexual abuse.”

None of the allegations have been tested in a court.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, said in a statement: “While the Government of Canada respects the decision of plaintiffs to pursue their claims through the courts, Canada believes that the best way to address outstanding issues and achieve reconciliation with Indigenous people is through negotiation and dialogue rather than litigation.”

The “Indian hospitals” were established to test a new vaccine for tuberculosis on Aboriginal children. The last of them closed in 1981, according to the statement of claim.

“It’s been over 35 years and the survivors have been suffering largely in silence,” Ptak said. “But with the residential schools settlement, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and with a number of scholars across the country looking into this issue, these stories have been coming to light, to the point where they can now finally come forward and bring their story publicly.”

The residential schools settlement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, has set aside $1.9 billion for former residents of the schools.

The representative plaintiff in the hospital class-action is Ann Cecile Hardy, a member of the Metis Nation who lived in the Northwest Territories before being brought to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton in 1969 when she was 10. It was one of the largest Indian hospitals in Canada.

She alleges that in her four-month stay, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by hospital staff, and “witnessed the horrific sexual abuse of others as well,” says Ptak. Hardy was left “physically, emotionally and psychologically battered,” according to the statement of claim.

The class action is intended to covers patients, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Ptak said he hopes to have the lawsuit certified as a class action within a year.

“Every lawsuit is in part about compensation, but this lawsuit in particular is more about shining a light on this really dark chapter in Canadian history so that Canadians are aware of this,” said Ptak.

“My question is why did it take 35 years and the commencement of a lawsuit for the government’s attention to be garnered in this way?”

The lawsuit contends the federal government is liable for damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in the amount of $1 billion, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $100 million, plus court costs and interest.

“Canada ignored, remained willfully blind and permitted harm to Patient Class members in order to avoid scrutiny and unwanted publicity about its inappropriate, common practices and procedures concerning Indian hospitals.”

The lawsuit contends Aboriginal people, many of them young children, were forcibly removed from their homes and confined in hospitals if they had tuberculosis. They faced arrest if they tried to leave. Non-Aboriginal people were not subjected to that treatment.

The practice of bed confinement for those with TB continued in Indian hospitals long after it was abandoned in non- Aboriginal hospitals, the lawsuit claims. It says Native patients were restrained to beds or put in body casts for days, weeks, and sometimes months for no medical reason.

The facilities, found in six provinces and two territories, were often converted military barracks left over from the Second World War. The claim alleges that the facilities lacked the proper sanitary infrastructure because they were never intended as hospitals and that they were operated by poorly trained staff, including many graduates of foreign medical schools who hadn’t been properly licensed in Canada. Few staff spoke a Native language or had any understanding of the culture or beliefs of patients.

Read the statement of claim: on Scribd

CTV News published, January 30, 2018

[SOURCE]

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Winnipeg developer suing 49 protesters in Parker Wetlands dispute

(Source: Rooster Town)

Parker Wetlands protesters have set up a legal defence fund to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

A total of 49 protesters — who camped out on the south Winnipeg site from mid-July to mid-September — have been named in a lawsuit launched by the two numbered companies that own the land.

Gem Equities is planning to develop a new residential neighbourhood and says the protesters were stopping it.

The protesters say the land holds significance for indigenous communities.

In September, a judge ordered protesters to leave, and said he would make up his mind about what kind of damages would have to be paid to the affected companies in the coming weeks.

 In court, lawyers for the land owners suggested each defendant be made to pay $10,000.

The protesters are now asking for donations to cover the costs they may have to pay.

CTV Winnipeg 

[SOURCE]

Two First Nations in Ontario Launch Lawsuit and Injunction against TransCanada Pipelines

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Lawsuit and injunction application brought by First Nations in Ontario against TransCanada Pipelines for work on the same line to be converted for the Energy East project

TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2017 /CNW/ – Two First Nations in northwest Ontario – Aroland and Ginoogaming – have just launched a precedent-setting lawsuit and injunction motion against TransCanada Pipelines, Canada and the National Energy Board, for doing and allowing damaging physical work on parts of the Mainline pipeline that runs through those First Nations’ traditional territories. This is the same pipeline that TransCanada, through its affiliate Energy East, is applying to convert from natural gas, to carry dilbit (crude oil) from the Alberta oil sands across Canada and into ships for export.

The injunction hearing is slated to be heard on January 25 at the Ontario Superior Court, in Toronto.

The physical work that the First Nations are seeking to stop – at least until the duty to consult and accommodate them about their constitutionally-protected rights is met – is called “integrity digs”. TransCanada intends to bring in heavy equipment and dig up a lot of land and expose the buried pipeline in a 30 km stretch that runs through those Nations’ traditional territories. TransCanada says it needs to do this to check and possibly repair the pipeline. TransCanada’s notice to the NEB says it intends to start the integrity digs work on January 18, but it has agreed to hold off until January 25. It also says it will continue this work up to July 18 2017.

“TransCanada is trying to push ahead with this intrusive work before the duty to consult and accommodate is met,” says Raymond Ferris, an employee working for the First Nations. “Neither they, nor the NEB, nor Canada, even admit that a duty to consult and accommodate under the Constitution is owed. TransCanada seems to take the position that since the pipeline was approved and first built starting in the late 1950s, before aboriginal peoples’ rights were ever considered, that any physical work on the land about the pipeline can be done without respecting such rights under the law today.”

“The integrity digs work will likely cause impacts on aboriginal and Treaty 9 rights to harvest (hunt, fish, trap, gather plants and medicines etc) and to protect burial grounds and other cultural heritage sites and values. They will cause impacts to the First Nations’ culture, sacred relationship to the land that is at the core of their identity as indigenous communities, and on their ability to continue to survive with the land,” says Kate Kempton, lawyer for the First Nations.

“Canadian law should require the First Nations’ consent before such activity can proceed, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canadian law is lagging behind where it needs to be in that regard. But at the very least, it requires meaningful consultation and accommodation sufficient to address the First Nations’ concerns,” says Kempton. “If Canadian law is not explicit that such requirements exist for new work on old pipelines approved in a bygone era, then it needs to be made explicit. We are pursuing such an explicit remedy here. In the lawsuit, we’re seeking declarations that the NEB Act regime which governs these pipelines, has to prohibit activities that infringe aboriginal and treaty rights. We are seeking an injunction to stop the planned integrity digs in the meantime.”

“Otherwise,” says Ferris, “pipeline companies can do pretty much what they want to First Nation lands, rights and cultures. We can’t let that continue. It defeats reconciliation. It further pushes down First Nations. How much further do we have to be pushed?”

One issue in the injunction motion is whether TransCanada is seeking to do the integrity digs work more to prepare the pipeline to be converted to carry crude oil for the Energy East project — which is far from being approved – as compared to any need to do the work to maintain the physical integrity of the pipe to carry natural gas, which is what is may be carrying now.

“We don’t know if any gas is currently moving through the pipeline right now. We haven’t been able to find that out, despite repeated requests,” says Ferris. “If it is, then since TransCanada first asked to do the integrity digs many months ago, they should have already consulted and accommodated the First Nations. The fact that no one has, is not a burden that the First Nations should bear, and is not an excuse to allow this work in defiance of the First Nations’ rights now. If the line is not carrying any gas, then why would TransCanada need to do any physical work to repair something that is now empty?”

“The NEB regime has to grow up to meet the requirements of aboriginal and treaty rights. If we don’t actually honour these rights, then they are rendered meaningless. Surely this is not what the federal government intends when it speaks of the need to bring about true reconciliation with the First Peoples through whose trust and through treaties the rest of the Canadian population came to live here,” says Kempton. “We’ll see what the court will do about this.”

SOURCE Aroland First Nation

For further information: Raymond Ferris: 807-627-8590 (Alternate: 807-329-5970); Kate Kempton (lawyer): 416-571-6775; Corey Shefman (lawyer): 204-230-3590

http://bit.ly/2ibt088

Man Arrested For Painting ‘AIM’ On US Flag Gets $55000 In Lawsuit

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Associated Press | July 22, 2016 

PITTSBURGH – A man arrested for painting the letters “AIM” on an American flag that he flew upside-down at his house in protest has settled his free speech lawsuit against the township for more than $55,000.

Supervisors in Allegheny Township, Blair County, have approved letting their insurance company pay Joshuaa Brubaker, the Altoona Mirror first reported Friday. The supervisors approved a resolution on July 12 advising township police to no longer enforce the state’s flag desecration laws as part of the settlement, notice of which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Johnstown.

“The problem is that every couple years we get a report that someone’s been charged with insulting the flag or desecrating the flag under Pennsylvania laws,” said Sara Rose, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who filed the lawsuit in February. “The U.S. Supreme Court law is very clear that you cannot charge someone with using the flag for expressive purposes, like drawing on it or burning it.”

Brubaker, 39, is part Native American and says “AIM” stands for the American Indian Movement. Brubaker flew the flag on his porch in May 2014 about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh. He was protesting plans to route the proposed Keystone Pipeline through Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Wounded Knee is the site of a U.S. Cavalry massacre of some 200 Lakota Indians in 1890. In 1973, the Indian reservation town of the same name was seized by AIM and other activists in a 71-day standoff with federal law enforcement.

The dispute with the township began when another resident — an Army veteran who also happens to be part Native American — was offended by the display and contacted police.

Leo Berg III, who was then assistant chief but now heads the township department, seized the flag and charged Brubaker with violating two state laws: insulting the national flag, a second-degree misdemeanor that carries up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and flag desecration, a third-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

A Blair County judge dismissed the criminal charges against Brubaker a few months after they were filed, finding they didn’t apply in a case involving political speech.

Brubaker told The Associated Press when the lawsuit was filed why he displayed the flag the way he did.

“I figured with this generation, if someone drove by this house and saw AIM” that they’d search for the term online and learn more about the group and its causes, Brubaker said. Flying a flag upside-down is also a distress signal, and Brubaker said he believed the country is in distress.

Brubaker must pay his own attorneys’ fees and expenses and any taxes out of the $55,844 he’ll receive, according to the settlement.

[SOURCE]

Obama Administration Intervenes In Native American Voting Rights Lawsuit

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/KRISTI EATON

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/KRISTI EATON

 | ThinkProgress

The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened in a lawsuit accusing a South Dakota county of disenfranchising Native Americans living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, arguing the case should move forward because the issues in question fall under the still-enforced sections of the Voting Rights Act.

In the months leading up the November election, Native Voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit against Jackson County, South Dakota accusing it of requiring Native Americans to travel often prohibitively long distances to vote instead of opening a satellite office on the reservation. In response to the litigation, Jackson County opened a satellite center for voter registration and early voting in the town of Wanblee on the reservation, but the legal action continued in order to ensure the voting rights would be maintained for future elections.

County officials filed a motion to dismiss the litigation after the November midterm, arguing that Native Americans still have three ways to vote absentee including traveling to the county auditor’s office which is more than 27 miles away from Wanblee. But when the DOJ intervened, it said the issues presented in the lawsuit should be considered as violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which designates Native Americans as a protected class.

“It shows the Native Americans that the Department of Justice is actually coming to light to the plight of equality of the Native American vote,” OJ Semans, director of the Native voting rights group Four Directions, told ThinkProgress about the government’s decision to become involved in the lawsuit.

The suit against Jackson County is unique because it is the first in which Native Americans are asking for the DOJ to reestablish preclearance under the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated that requirement in the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision.

“If we’re able to show the court that the lack of providing equality at the ballot box was because of race, then they are required to be under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice for the next ten years,” Semans said. “Section 3 is what we’re using in light of Sections 4 and 5 disappearing to put the county back under the Department of Justice.”

Semans said he is hopeful about the result of the lawsuit considering Four Directions’ prior success in similar litigation in which Shannon and Fall River Counties agreed to settle with Native Americans, giving them most of what they asked for including satellite voting centers on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

South Dakota counties that open satellite voting centers on reservations receive reimbursements through Help America Vote Act funds, which are specifically designated to expand voter access to groups including Native Americans. As a result, counties’ refusal to open satellite offices has no reasonable explanation, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said.

“Let’s be clear, South Dakota does not have a proud history when it comes to providing Native Americans an equal right to vote,” Johnson told the Argus Leader. “We should be doing more, not less, to protect the right of every South Dakotan to vote in our elections.”

Like other Natives across the state, most Pine Ridge tribal members in Jackson County are living in poverty and are unlikely to have the resources to travel to vote in the location of the county seat, the lawsuit alleges.

“Native Americans in Jackson County also lag their white counterparts on a variety of socioeconomic measures, including access to reliable transportation,” the DOJ said in its brief. “As a result, Native American citizens residing in Jackson County face significantly greater burdens and have substantially less opportunity than white citizens with respect to casting in-person absentee ballots and using in-person voter registration.”

While litigation is moving forward in Jackson County, Four Directions has not taken legal action against county officials in Buffalo County— another place where South Dakota is attempting to suppress the Native American vote. Unlike in Jackson County where white residents actually make up a majority of the county’s population, the county seat in Buffalo County is in the town of Gann Valley which has a population of less than a dozen people.

“The hypocrisy of it is that we would be picking on a white minority in Buffalo County if we were to sue them under the Voting Rights Act,” Semans said. “The best thing to happen there is if the majority would take a petition to move the county office [to the reservation] and in turn they can always supply a satellite office in Gann Valley.”