Teepees start to come down at Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near Saskatchewan legislature

Tepees are seen at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near the Saskatchewan legislature, in Regina, in a June 27, 2018. (File photo CP)

Teepees are coming down at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina.

On Friday, Justice Ysanne Wilkinson ordered that the protest camp be dismantled after the government applied for an eviction order.

“Police are hereby authorized to arrest, or arrest and remove, any person” who is violating the order to vacate the camp, she said.

No deadline was specified in Wilkinson’s order to take the camp down.

The province went to court seeking an order to evict the protesters, arguing the camp violated bylaws and made it hard to maintain the land across from the legislature.

Regina police say they are now in talks with the government and protesters.

Fifteen teepees were standing in front of the Saskatchewan legislature building.

There had been 15 teepees in the camp at one point, but that number was down to 10 by Monday morning.

At least two of the tepees came down after the court order, while others were taken down for the annual Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.

Protester Richelle Dubois says it’s disheartening to see the number of teepees shrink.

“It shows the province’s true colours and how they feel about First Nation children and communities,” she said.

Since late February, the campers have been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care.

The Canadian Press

Man facing charges after fireworks discharged at Justice for Our Stolen Children camp

Teepees are seen at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp near the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina. June 27, 2018, THE CANADIAN PRESS

A man faces charges after fireworks were discharged towards the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp in Regina.

According to a news release, police were sent to the protest camp, located in Wascana Park at 2 a.m. on Sunday, after a man got out of a vehicle parked at the legislative building and discharged a Roman candle, which shot multiple flammable projectiles at the camp then fled in the vehicle.

Police said no one was injured as a result of the incident and the camp of teepees did not sustain any damage.

Twenty-five year-old Brent Holland, of Yorkton is charged with mischief under $5,000, uttering threats, assault with a weapon and arson with disregard for human life.

Holland was released from custody and will appear in provincial court in Regina on Sept. 17.

The camp has been set up in the park since late February to draw attention to racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers

Slow-Motion Showdown Continues on Banks of Shubenacadie River

Mi’kmaq activists Dorene Bernard, right, and Ducie Howe stand on the shores of the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Alton Natural Gas Storage LP’s plan to build natural gas storage caverns meets resistance

On the muddy banks of Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie River, Dorene Bernard is listening for sounds that will let her know the historic waterway is about to change direction.

“The wind will pick up, and you’ll start hearing the water and waves coming,” the Mi’kmaq activist says as she walks through the tall grass, carrying a large fan made from an eagle’s wing.

The Shubenacadie is a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy. But when the world’s highest tides rise in the bay, salt water flows up the river for almost half its length, creating a wave — or tidal bore — that pushes against the river’s current.

Protesters at the Shubenacadie River say despite what AltaGas said in their release on Friday, very little work on the project has taken place in the last month. (Shawn Maloney)

It’s an unusual natural phenomenon that draws tourists from around the world. It has also helped support the Mi’kmaq for more than 13,000 years.

“This is a major highway, a major artery for our people,” says Bernard, a social worker, academic and member of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in nearby Indian Brook, N.S.

“Our ancestors are buried along here … It has a very significant historical, spiritual and cultural relevance to who we are.”

Plan to pump brine into river

Before the bore arrives, the river is like glass on this humid, windless day.

However, Bernard is mindful that another change is coming for the river and her people.

For the past 12 years, a Calgary-based company has been planning to pump water from the river to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, creating huge caverns that will eventually store natural gas.

A sign marks the entrance to Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River, a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy, in Fort Ellis, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

AltaGas says the leftover brine solution will be pumped into the river, twice a day at high tide, over a two- to three-year period.

The initial plan is to create two caverns about a kilometre underground. But the company has said it may need as many as 15 caverns, which would be linked to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline, about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

The storage is needed by an AltaGas subsidiary, Heritage Gas, which sells natural gas in the Halifax area and a few other Nova Scotia communities. It says it wants to stockpile its product during the colder months to protect its customers from price shocks when demand spikes.

Drilling for the first two caverns has been completed.

$130M project largely on hold

After years of consultations, legal wrangling and scientific monitoring, the company’s Nova Scotia-based subsidiary, Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, has said it plans to start the brining process some time later this year.

Bernard says her people are not going to let that happen.

The $130-million project has been largely on hold since 2014 when Mi’kmaq activists started a series of protests that culminated two years later in the creation of a year-round protest camp at the work site northwest of Stewiacke.

Felix Bernard walks near a Mi’kmaq encampment along the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“We’re not going to let anyone destroy our water,” Bernard said in a recent interview, declining to elaborate on what will happen if police or security guards try to reclaim the site.

“The impacts will be huge. You can’t just put something in your vein and think it’s not going to affect your whole body.”

She says the company has consulted with Indigenous leaders, but she insists it has done a poor job of reaching out to the Mi’kmaq people, particularly those who are members of her First Nation.

“There was never a public hearing with Alton Gas in our community. Never.”

Permits secured, consultations

For its part, the company has insisted it has consulted with local Indigenous people, and the provincial government has agreed.

More importantly, the company says it has already secured the permits it needs to start pumping water from the river.

At the entrance to the protest camp off Riverside Road, a steel gate is covered in placards and a canvas lean-to. A sign that warns against trespassing — installed by the company with the help of the RCMP — has been covered with a blanket.

Protesters maintain a Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In May of last year, protesters built a tiny, two-storey house out of straw bales and lime plaster. It has a dirt floor, wood stove, bunks and plenty of provisions inside.

There’s also a garden. Chickens and geese roam the makeshift squatters camp.

On this day, there are only three protesters — they call themselves water protectors — at the site. But some supporters from Halifax later drop by for a visit.

“We have a lot of allies, settlers who are supporting this camp — it’s not just the Mi’kmaq,” says Ducie Howe, Bernard’s cousin and a resident of what she calls Shubenacadie Reserve No. 14, the original name for the nearby First Nation.

“There’s people from all over who will come. And they’ll keep coming.”

‘Giving out permits? Those are illegal’

Howe says Nova Scotians need to be reminded that the company is operating on unceded Mi’kmaq territory.

“We signed peace and friendship treaties,” she says. “We never signed treaties that gave up any part of our lands … Giving out permits? Those are illegal. They didn’t have the right to do that.”

Closer to the river, there’s a smaller, flat-topped wooden building that Bernard describes as a truckhouse. The reference is to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which states that the Mi’kmaq are free to build “truckhouses” along the river to facilitate trade.

In the distance, a small hut for security guards sits empty.

Company spokeswoman Lori Maclean says some protesters have been served with trespassing notices.

“The company is aware of the activity of protesters at the site and continues to engage with law enforcement and the community,” she said in a recent email. “Alton sites are work areas that are open only to Alton staff or approved contractors.”

Alton has received the environmental and industrial approvals it needs to proceed, including two environmental assessments and an independent third-party science review. However, provincial Environment Minister Margaret Miller has yet to make a decision about an appeal of the industrial approval filed by the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Mi’kmaq activist Ducie Howe carries a sign at an encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

As for the brine that will be pumped into the river, the company says the peak release on each tidal cycle will be approximately 5,000 cubic metres, which will be mixed in with four million cubic metres of brackish tidal flow.

The company says the brine flowing into the Minas Basin “would not be detectable and would be insignificant in terms of the natural fluctuation of salinity the ecosystem is subject to during each tidal cycle.”

‘Brine will not impact the ecosystem’

Alton Gas also says the intake pipe will not suck in fish or small organisms because the water will be filtered through a rock wall, and the intake flow will be low enough to allow all fish to swim away.

“The requirements of our monitoring program with provincial and federal regulators will ensure that the brine will not impact the ecosystem,” the company’s website says.

Before Bernard and Howe leave the river, the pair stand at the edge of the bank to make an offering through song.

The lyrics are sung in the original Ojibwa and then in Mi’kmaq: “Water, I love you. I thank you. I respect you. Water is life.”

By Michael MacDonald · The Canadian Press · Aug 05, 2018


First Nations set up more Tipis at protest camp near Sask. Legislature

More tipis erected on Saskatchewan Legislature grounds. Photo 620 CKRM

More tipis are set up at the protest camp in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature.

There are now six tipis standing in Wascana Park.

CTV Regina reports, there were three tipis added over the weekend. They represent File Hills Tribal Council, Piapot First Nation and Pasqua/White Bear First Nation.

A fourth was sent by Peepeekisis Cree Nation early Monday afternoon; a fifth was added later in the day.

The original tipi at the Justice for our Stolen Children camp was dismantled last week after police arrested some of the protesters. Three days later the tipi was re-erected on National Indigenous Peoples Day.


The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said on Friday that it will stand with the protesters.

The camp is expecting more tipis to arrive in the coming days.

Government officials have said they will meet with the group and wonder how it will affect Canada Day festivities in the park.

Justice Minister Don Morgan said that the camp is still illegal, and that he expects the Regina Police Service to enforce the law.

According to CBC News, police did not say if there was a plan for the camp to be taken down again but said they were participating in dialogue with all parties.


First Nations add tipis to protest camp.

The camp was set up in February after the acquittals of Gerald Stanley in the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie and Raymond Cormier in the death of Tina Fontaine.

Standing Rock Tribal Council Supports Cannon Ball Residents Asking Protesters to Leave


Cannon Ball district requesting law enforcement aid in removing protesters

Red Power Media | Jan 21, 2017

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council supports the district of Cannon Ball in asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to leave the area and not set up a winter camp nearby.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, “All the individuals at all the camps in and around Cannon Ball need to leave the district,” residents wrote in a 10-point resolution passed during an executive session of a district meeting Wednesday night. “The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted. If there is to be any kind of a ‘site’ for the commemoration of this historic event that took place with all the tribes, the people of Standing Rock need to vote on where, what and cost before any ‘shanty town is built.'”

The district asked the Standing Rock Tribal Council to assist them in implementing the resolution, and a meeting was scheduled for Friday morning, where the Tribal Council unanimously voted to support the district in asking all protesters to leave and canceling plans for the winter camp.

The resolution, approved by the full council, applies to all of the protest camps in the area: Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud and Sacred Stone.

Cody Two Bears, the Cannon Ball district representative to the tribal council, said the district is requesting federal law enforcement aid in removing protesters and setting up posts blocking those who do not live or work in the district from entering.

The district requests these actions be taken in the next 30 days.

“If there’s concern from our districts, from our members, we have to listen to them and that’s what we’re going to do,” Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said.

The resolution stemmed from residents’ frustrations over the continued closure of Backwater Bridge on N.D. Highway 1806, which is the primary route to work and hospital services. Repairs and cleaning are needed at the Cannon Ball gym, due to serving as an emergency shelter for protesters. Also, there’s concern over alcohol and drug use in the area believed to be tied to the camps.

“I understand there’s some good people out there and sometimes there’s a little bit of ones that are kinda out of control,” said Two Bears. “I think it’s come to that point now there are a few campers out there that have not been respectful to community, to the wishes of elders and wishes of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe … It’s doing more harm than good.”

Residents believe protest actions that continue to take place on the bridge are jeopardizing the chances of having it reopened.

The residents also contend that many of the strongest advocates have gone home and that part of the fight has been won in the courts.

The majority of those from the camps who spoke said they respected the council’s decision and shook hands with them.

Ed Blackcloud was the lone dissenter to stand up at the meeting to criticize the council’s actions.

“Very few people (at the camp) are the ones who agitate,” he said. “I do not think all these people should be asked to go home when they fought for you guys, they fought for me, fought for my children, fought for your guys’ children … I feel sending these people home is wrong.”

“Why are you guys attacking the bridge? What’s the bridge got to do with DAPL?,” Frank White Bull, the district representative from Kenel, asked in response. “Our people need that bridge … Who are you guys hurting? You’re hurting us because of you’re few bad eggs. So now it comes to us.”

Since the resolution, the move to a new winter camp from the Oceti Sakowin camp has been put on hold, according to Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, a organization that supports the camps and is helping to coordinate the move.

Sacred Stone camp founder LaDonna Allard does not plan to close down her camp. She said Thursday that she plans to turn it into an “eco-camp to teach people to live on the Earth again” by summer. She contends that her camp will not flood and that most of the problems experienced by residents come from the other camps. She was not present at the council meeting.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has told all protesters camping in flood zones that they need to pack up and move by Jan. 30, when they plan to bring in equipment to pack up waste and materials.

Source: Bismarck Tribune 

US Army Corps to Evict Everyone from Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp after Dec. 5

Police turn water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

Police turn water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

David Archambault II releases a Statement on Army Corps Decision

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 25, 2016

According to an email dated today, sent to David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will close the portion of federal land on which water protectors are camping in North Dakota after December 5, to protect the public amid violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement.

The notice to evict everyone from the Oceti Sakowin Camp comes after over 100 people were injured and taken to hospital during clashes at Blackwater Bridge with police, who attacked water protectors with rubber bullets, tear gas, and mace canisters and more than 200 were reportedly treated for hypothermia after Morton County Sheriff’s Department deployed a water cannon in below-freezing temperatures on Sunday.

Since the Spring, water protectors have been standing in opposition of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline by setting up camps and blocking roads to stop completion of the project.

The email says: Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after Dec 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands.

All access to the present camp on the north side of the river will be closed.

Unaffected is the Camp of the Sacred Stones, which is on private land a short distance south.

Campers can move to a new area provided by the Corps, wrote John W. Henderson, commander for the Omaha district.

Army Corps evicting everyone from Standing Rock on December 5 by The Daily Haze on Scribd

Army Corps evicting everyone from Standing Rock on December 5 by The Daily Haze on Scribd

You can read the email uploaded by The Daily Haze on Scribd in it’s entirety here:

Dear Chairman Archambault:

Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 327.12, I am closing the portion of the Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River to all public use and access effective December 5, 2016. This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions. The necessary emergency, medical, and fire response services, law enforcement, or sustainable facilities to protect people from these conditions on this property cannot be provided. I do not take this action lightly, but have decided that it is required due to the concern for public safety and the fact that much of this land is leased to private persons for grazing and/or haying purposes as part of the Corps’ land management practices. To be clear, this means that no member of the general public, to include Dakota Access pipeline protestors, can be on these Corps’ lands.

The Corps of Engineers has established a free speech zone on land south of the Cannonball River for anyone wishing to peaceably protest the Dakota Access pipeline project, subject to the rules of 36 C.F.R. Part 327. In these areas, jurisdiction for police, fire, and medical response is better defined making it a more sustainable area for visitors to endure the harsh North Dakota winter. For your reference, please find enclosed a map, marked as Exhibit A, which delineates this free speech zone area, as well as shows the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River that will be prohibited from public use. Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after December 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands. There currently are many Title 36 violations occurring on the Corps lands north of the Cannonball River, including, but not limited to, unauthorized structures, fires, improper disposal of waste, and camping. Additionally, any tribal government that sponsors such illegal activity is assuming the risk for those persons who remain on these lands. See36 C.F.R. § 327.

As I have publically stated, I am asking you, as a Tribal leader, to encourage members of your Tribe, as well as any non-members who support you who are located in the encampments north of the Cannonball River on Corps’ lands to immediately and peacefully move to the free speech zone south of the Cannonball River or to a more sustainable location for the winter. I am genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of both the members of your Tribe and the general public located at these encampments. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding this information.

Sincerely, John W. Henderson, P.E. Colonel, Corps of Engineers District Commander

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II


The following statement is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II, on Nov 25, 2016.

“Today we were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that on Dec. 5th, they will close all lands north of the Cannonball River, which is where the Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns, and that they will allow for a ‘free speech zone’ south of the Cannonball River on Army Corps lands. Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. The best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of conflict between water protectors and militarized police, is to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now.”

Archambault urged the public to ask President Obama and the Corps to change the pipeline route.

“We ask that everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits, and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands. When the Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our strong opposition. Our concerns were clearly articulated directly to them in a tribal council meeting held on Sept. 30, 2014, where DAPL and the ND Public Service Commission came to us with this route. We have released the audio recording from that meeting.

Again, we ask that the United States stop the pipeline and move it outside our ancestral and treaty lands. It is both unfortunate and disrespectful that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving — a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the mistreatment of our people. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands united with more than 300 tribal nations and the water protectors who are here peacefully protesting the Dakota access pipeline to bolster indigenous people’s rights. We continue to fight for these rights, which continue to be eroded. Although we have suffered much, we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”

By some estimates there are currently as many as 5,000 people in the Oceti Sakowin camp, named for the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux.

Kahnawake Mohawks Camp Out In Support Of Standing Rock Protesters

A small group of people from Kahnawake set up a camp near the base of the Mercier Bridge to Montreal to protest the Dakota Access pipeline. (Charles Contant/CBC)

A small group of people from Kahnawake set up a camp near the base of the Mercier Bridge to Montreal to protest the Dakota Access pipeline. (Charles Contant/CBC)

‘We’re here to protect the planet and raise awareness of what’s going on,’ supporter says

CBC News Posted: Oct 31, 2016

A small group of Kahnawake Mohawks has set up a camp at the base of the Mercier Bridge in support of pipeline protesters in Standing Rock, N.D.

After briefly blocking the bridge over the weekend, a few people sat around a bonfire by the road this morning, with a promise of further action to come.

South Shore access to Mercier Bridge reopens after Indigenous protest. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

South Shore access to Mercier Bridge reopens after Kahnawake community members protest on Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Blair Dearhouse, who has been at the location for the past three days, said the goal is to bring attention to the pipeline protest in North Dakota in a peaceful way.

“We’re here to protect the planet and raise awareness of what’s going on,” he said.

A teepee has been put up at the site alongside a sign that reads “water is our first medicine.”

Protesters against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline block a highway in near Cannon Ball, N.D., earlier this month. (James MacPherson/The Associated Press)

Protesters against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline block a highway in near Cannon Ball, N.D., earlier this month. (James MacPherson/The Associated Press)

For months, Indigenous groups have been protesting the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

Thousands of people have come to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation since a group of young people from the community first stood up against the pipeline this past summer.

There have been over 200 arrests in confrontations with police, which have escalated in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton said the band council fully supports the demonstrations near the Mercier Bridge.

A person with a hand drum paces between law enforcement officers and a line of protesters along a highway in North Dakota. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune)

A person with a hand drum paces between law enforcement officers and a line of protesters along a highway in North Dakota. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune)

He said two chiefs from Kahnawake were part of a delegation that took supplies to Standing Rock this fall.

“I always look back to 1990, the so-called Oka Crisis, when people from all over North America came here and did what they could to help support us,” Norton said.

“So it’s our turn now to show our reciprocation for things like that.”

Kahnawake Peacekeepers have been instructed to support the protesters, Norton said.



Indigenous Women Demand Stronger Provincial Support For National Inquiry

The Urban Warrior Alliance camps outside the legislature to protest the delays in the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry Tuesday. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Urban Warrior Alliance camps outside the legislature to protest the delays in the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry Tuesday. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Free Press, By: Alexandra Paul Posted: 07/26/2016

A group of indigenous women camping at the legislature wants to know whether Manitoba supports a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

“Our understanding is the government is holding up the inquiry over the terms of reference and over semantics. So what’s going on? The families are waiting,” said Chelsea Cardinal, one of two women at the camp Tuesday.

There were three tents set up on the legislature’s front lawn; a similar tent camp two years ago also called for a national inquiry, before Ottawa signed on to it.

The group is expected to take turns, holding down the camp, where a fire for prayers was lit Monday evening, over the next four days and nights.

The latest camp comes after a week or more of mixed signals and growing frustration among indigenous advocates in and outside Manitoba that the inquiry is being held up.

The national inquiry will look at the estimated 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, including more than 100 who are from Manitoba.

Prior to the premiers’ meeting last weekend in Whitehorse, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett attempted to settle public concerns after a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry was leaked. She assured advocates that policing and child welfare issues, both systemic issues, would form a big part of the mandate.

Aboriginal leaders and premiers also added their oar to calm the waters by stating there was no need to wait for an inquiry to get to work on the socio-economic issues behind the problem, another issue indigenous advocates and families have repeatedly raised.

And late Tuesday, in response to word the camp had been set up, Manitoba waded in to break through the continued confusion with an unequivocal statement of support for the national inquiry.

“Manitoba’s new government intends to move forward with an order in council in support of the federal government’s establishment of a national inquiry. We will do this in a timely manner as we continue to work with our federal and provincial partners to finalize the draft terms of reference,” Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said in an email to the Free Press.

The statement raised one of the major points of confusion, that the terms of reference were an issue still to be worked out with Ottawa. Stephanson’s statement did not go into details.

The concern with the Pallister government is Manitoba may try to delay the national inquiry, or at the very least pare down it’s scope, to leave out systemic issues such as the child welfare and policing, women at the legislature camp said.

The camp’s concerns echo the province’s First Nations and indigenous leaders who met a week ago with the provincial ministers for justice and indigenous and municipal affairs and issued public statements urging the province to sign on to the inquiry.

NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP government’s former adviser on missing and murdered indigenous women’s issues, told the women Tuesday their presence reminds the province it owes the public an explanation on where it stands.

“You cannot just do the work and not advise the families of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls on what you’re doing,” Fontaine said.

The federal Liberals made the national inquiry, something former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper opposed, a major election promise.

But since Justin Trudeau became prime minister, headway in Ottawa appears to be meeting headwinds in Manitoba by the Conservatives under Premier Brian Pallister, the women at the camp said.

They cited Leslie Spillett’s removal from the Winnipeg Police Board this month as a jolt, especially since the respected indigenous advocate hadn’t been given the courtesy of a phone call before the announcement was made public.

“What is going to be happening next? We took a few steps forward with the national inquiry happening. Now it’s being held up again. To us, it seems like tactics,” Sandy Banman said.

Fontaine told the women to expect an announcement from Ottawa as early as next week on the start of the national inquiry.

The most recent media reports noted the province wanted a commissioner from Manitoba named to the inquiry and they had questions over the inquiry’s terms of reference.


Read more by Alexandra Paul   .


LNG Opponents Ordered To Halt Construction Of Protest Camp On Lelu Island

Lelu Island camp. (Credit: Gene Law)

Lelu Island camp. (Credit: Gene Law)

Notice orders protesters to halt construction at proposed B.C. LNG site

The Canadian Press | Published, Apr. 11, 2016

The Port of Prince Rupert has ordered opponents of a proposed liquefied natural gas plant to stop constructing a protest camp on Lelu Island on B.C.’s north coast.

A notice ordering an end to construction activities was issued Monday morning after the port consulted with the leadership of local Coast Tsimshian communities, part of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation.

Port of Prince Rupert CEO Don Drusel says the port respects safe and peaceful expressions of opinion, but construction of makeshift shelters does not meet that definition and is not authorized.

The federal government is expected to make a decision within weeks on the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal on the island, about 15 kilometres south of the Prince Rupert port.

Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Jonn Helin sent a letter to federal officials in March, announcing the First Nation would conditionally support the Lelu Island terminal, as long as two environmental conditions were met.

That letter sparked a protest within the First Nation as members demonstrated Friday outside the Lax Kw’alaams office in Port Simpson, arguing they were not consulted.



Potential Pipeline Clash Worries First Nation Chief In B.C.

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed. Ms. Huson is pictured with her husband, chief Toghestiy, in this photo when they spoke to the media about a blockade they've set up against the proposed Pacific Trail pipeline near Houston, B.C., in Vancouver on Monday April 7, 2014 (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed. Ms. Huson is pictured with her husband, chief Toghestiy, in this photo when they spoke to the media about a blockade they’ve set up against the proposed Pacific Trail pipeline near Houston, B.C., in Vancouver on Monday April 7, 2014

The Globe and Mail | Published, Sep. 07, 2015

There are growing fears violence could erupt if a protest camp in northern B.C. remains in place on the right-of-way of two proposed gas lines.

But resolving the dispute will require untangling a complicated internal conflict that has set hereditary and elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation against one another.

Chief Karen Ogen of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation said she’s worried band members working for contractors on the gas line right-of-ways could clash with protesters blocking an access road.

She’s also concerned about what might happen if the RCMP move in to dismantle the camp, which has been in place for several years but has recently begun to hold up industry work crews.

“I just hope it doesn’t have to escalate into violence and that our people are safe because we have a lot of Wet’suwet’en people working on the ground with contractors for Coastal GasLink,” said Chief Ogen. “I just want to make sure all of our Wet’suwet’en people are safe out there and I’m sure that’s what the position of the police would be too.”

Tensions in the long simmering dispute were highlighted when the RCMP sat down for a four-hour meeting in Smithers recently with the protest group, a Wet’suwet’en clan or family group known as the Unist’ot’en, after some native leaders claimed the police were about to raid the camp.

The RCMP have denied there were any plans for a raid and have stressed police remain neutral in the conflict.

Underlying the dispute between the gas industry and the protesters is a complex political struggle within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed.

Ms. Huson claims the backing of several hereditary chiefs. But Chief Ogen says she has the support of both hereditary and elected chiefs.

In an interview, Chief Ogen said she hopes the matter can be resolved in a meeting she’s trying to set up involving the First Nations Leadership Council, a highly influential body that represents the political executives of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“Whether we compromise or find a way to get both of our needs met, we [the Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en] are one people and we should be able to sit down and have a discussion,” said Chief Ogen. “My position is we want to sit down … and have the Leadership Council neutral in all of this and help us find a resolve.

The Wet’suwet’en, a First Nation that claims about 55,000 square kilometres of land in the Burns Lake area, lie directly on the routes of the 480-kilometre Pacific Trails Pipeline, proposed by Chevron Canada and Woodside Energy International Ltd., and TransCanada’s 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline. The pipelines would link rich northeast gas fields with a planned LNG facility in Kitimat.

Recently Unist’ot’en protestors blocked Coastal GasLink crews from accessing the area, and the company filed a complaint with the RCMP.

In an interview from the protest camp, Ms. Huson said the Unist’ot’en intend to maintain the protest camp – and she’s not interested in attending the meeting Chief Ogen is trying to set up.

She said the Unistot’ot’en function under the traditional hereditary chief system, while Chief Ogen gets her authority though an electoral process established by the federal government.

“Our government structure is around the [traditional] feast hall, it’s not around a [elected band council] boardroom table,” she said. “So if Chief Ogen or anybody else wants to discuss business on our territory they need to come to our feast hall.”

Gillian Robinson-Riddell, a spokesperson for Chevron Canada Ltd., said the company is hoping a peaceful settlement can be reached.

“Throughout the years we have always maintained that it’s our hope to see this blockade resolved through dialogue and discussion. So we’re continuing to work to see that happen,” she said.

Mark Cooper, a spokesman for TransCanada, said in an e-mail his company wants to continue work in the area.

“We have been conducting important environmental fieldwork along the proposed pipeline route for months,” he stated. “Our goal is to carry out this seasonal work in the safest possible manner for our staff, contractors and First Nations participants.”