Burleigh Falls Dam is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, now a national historic site operated by Parks Canada. The dam was originally constructed in 1912. (Dean Wood)
Group says barricades are over lack of consultation by Parks Canada
Members from an Ontario First Nation continue to block access to a dam reconstruction site because they say they were not properly consulted by Parks Canada.
Nodin Webb, leader and spokesperson for Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation, said his community isn’t necessarily opposed to the work on the Burleigh Falls Dam, but Parks Canada should’ve involved them in the decision-making process.
Two barricades were erected last week that prevent access to the work site in Burleigh Falls, Ont., 130 kilometres northeast of Toronto.
“We’re out there defending the land until we can get confirmation from Parks Canada that there will be no further construction or demolition until they consult us, a procedure they are legally required to do,” he said.
The Kawartha Nishnawbe have vowed not to move until Parks Canada properly consults with them about the reconstruction. (Submitted by Amber Seager)
The Kawartha Nishnawbe created a community near Burleigh Falls in the early 1900s with five families from nearby Curve Lake First Nation who had lost their Indian status through enfranchisement.
The dam, which was originally constructed in 1912, is a part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and is now a national historic site operated by Parks Canada.
The Parks Canada website indicates the dam is being fully rebuilt and construction is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2024.
Indigenous Services Canada said in an email Kawartha Nishnawbe is not recognized as an Indian Act band.
The community’s lawyer, Christopher Reid disagrees and has been exchanging emails with Parks Canada and the federal government.
“They took away status from these people and forced them off reserves, forced them to establish a separate community on their own where they literally cleared the land, built their homes without any assistance and built their community.”
David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways with Parks Canada, said in a statement Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project.
Britton confirms Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and is working to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans.
Zhaawnong Webb, Nodin Webb and Jack Hoggarth at the blockade near the Burleigh Falls Dam construction site. (Submitted by Amanda Seager)
He also explained that in its current condition, the dam poses a risk.
“A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important walleye fishery.”
Webb denied there have been any offers of consultation but in email correspondence provided to CBC by Reid, Parks Canada offered to meet and share its plans with the Kawartha Nishnawbe in three separate messages.
Reid indicated the level of consultation offered by Britton and Parks Canada is different than that received by Curve Lake First Nation.
He said in a statement, “offering to meet is not nearly the same thing as engaging in the kind of consultations which are legally required and which they held with communities which have much less connection to Burleigh Falls than Kawartha Nishnawbe.”
Emily Whetung, chief of Curve Lake, wrote in a statement, “We recognize that the complicated history of the Kawartha Nishinawbe, their relationship to the land at Burleigh Falls, and their assertion with the federal government, and we respect that they have an independent perspective.
“However, the Burleigh Dam is located within the recognized pre-Confederation and Williams Treaties Territory, and we feel a responsibility to protect the environment and species in the area as the reconstruction project moves forward.”
By: Sean Vanderklis, Rhiannon Johnson · CBC News · Posted: Jan 21, 2021.
Fog from pepper spray drifts in front of police at the Manitoba Legislature on April 6, 1999, when protesters voicing concerns about poor First Nations housing, unemployment and land claims pushed past barricades and into the lobby. (CBC)
Manitoba has seen protests, but scene at U.S. Capitol this week was ‘a unique situation’: former premier
Opening day of Manitoba’s spring session of the legislature in 1999 became one marked by riot police, pepper spray and an angry crowd pushing its way through the doors.
“We have people trapped between the doors, please step back,” shouted a voice from a loudspeaker.
But even that day was a far cry from the scene at the U.S. Capitol this past week, which a former Manitoba premier — who later became Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. — describes as “a unique situation” incited by the president.
Back in April of 1999, a rally of about 500 people, led by Indigenous groups lobbying the Manitoba government for better housing and education and demanding action on poverty and unemployment, knocked down steel barricades and pushed past police to charge the front doors.
They were met by at least 70 police and sheriff’s officers, as well as riot police, who tackled some to the marble floor of the foyer.
“Somehow the Filmon government has to hear us, has to listen,” Bill Traverse, then-grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, said at the time about Gary Filmon’s Progressive Conservative government.
“We have to say what has to be said.”
WATCH | The Manitoba Legislature is stormed by protesters on April 6, 1999:
A large chunk of Traverse’s jacket was ripped off his back in the clash.
But it all quickly came to an end.
Several Indigenous leaders, such as Francis Flett, the grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, urged the crowd to let cooler heads prevail, according to a May 1999 report by Windspeaker News.
“We don’t want anyone injured here,” she said. “We’ve made our point and have sent a message to the government.”
Protesters pushed past the barricades at the Manitoba Legislative Building in 1999. (CBC).
It was a scene unusual in its intensity for the Manitoba Legislative Building, but as the provincial seat of government, the legislature has routinely been a rallying point for protests.
More recently, hundreds of people have descended on the legislative grounds for protests around Black Lives Matter, climate change, and against COVID-19 restrictions.
“Sometimes you almost have to have air traffic control, you know, when one or two groups are planning different issues to be protested at the same time,” said former premier Gary Doer, joking about how many people sometimes fill the grounds.
Usually, speeches are made, signs are waved and after a couple of hours the crowds peacefully disperse and move out.
But there have been times when the crowds pushed their way inside.
WATCH | Protesters storm through legislature doors in 1999:
Teachers storm the halls
In May 1996, about 300 teachers stormed the building to protest government proposals aimed at stripping their collective bargaining rights.
Crowding the hallways, they chanted “resign, resign” outside the office of education minister Linda McIntosh.
Earlier that day, at its annual general meeting, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society had denounced proposed government changes to collective bargaining. They then took their outrage to the legislative building.
“What had started as a few people muttering ‘Storm the Lege’ had turned into loud cries. Everyone looked at each other, and as soon as we had enough confidence in ourselves as a group, all it took was one signal. Then we stormed the Lege.”
While security looked on, students scrambled up the legislature’s main stairs and filled the second- and third-floor balconies of the centre block, the account says.
“People were going nuts. No thinking involved, just reaction.”
Everyone assembled for a sit-in as the university student union presidents met with Filmon and emerged about an hour later.
“All Filmon had ‘promised’ was a later meeting,” the Taché Hall account says, noting the students felt hollow but headed out.
Washington chaos ‘unique’: Doer
None of the events in Manitoba can be compared in any way to the chaos that erupted at the Capitol in Washington this week, when a mob supporting outgoing President Donald Trump pushed past barricades and forced their way inside the U.S. Capitol.
Five people have now died — including a Capitol Hill police officer — as a result of the riot that happened hours after a Trump said at a rally he would “never concede” to president-elect Joe Biden, and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol.
In the Manitoba incidents, protesters weren’t goaded by someone holding the highest seat of power; they did not attack any security or make it beyond the foyer to ransack offices. No windows were broken. No one died.
While the events at the Capitol will go down in history, the ones at the Manitoba legislative building hardly register in online searches. Doer, who was leader of the Opposition NDP at the time, doesn’t recall the 1999 protest at all.
“I never felt unsafe in the building, and I don’t recall anything that made me feel unsafe inside the legislative building,” said Doer, who is also familiar with the seats of power in the United States, where he was Canadian ambassador from 2009 until 2016.
“I noticed that when the Washington rioters were besieging the Capitol Hill, a lot of the windows were broken and the doors seemed to be pretty porous, which surprised me, having gone through that building a number of times when I was ambassador.”
That said, Doer noted he never felt unsafe in Washington, either.
“I witnessed the almost daily protests walking right by the embassy of Canada, on the way to the Capitol building … and there was never an experience of anything that represented a risk inside the building until this week,” he said.
When he attended the Capitol building for the state of the union address, “the security was incredible,” Doer says.
“So this [riot at the Capitol] was a unique situation, in my view. It was incited by President Trump,” he said. “It started with the president signaling it and messaging it and encouraging it this week.”
Given that, he’s surprised security wasn’t tighter.
Despite the rarity of such outbreaks of disorder, Doer has no doubt “every legislature in Canada” is re-evaluating security procedures.
“You don’t want to ever [reveal] what your security procedures are because you don’t want, tactically, to be conveying that to people that may be interested to know what your vulnerabilities might be,” he said.
“I’m sure the emergency measures people, and the security people are reviewing it, but quietly.”
Organizers plan to stay at Laurier and Nicholas until city officials listen to demands
Advocates calling for changes to Ottawa’s budget, police policies and more say they’ll stay at an intersection near the University of Ottawa until the city listens to their demands.
The Day of Action for Anishinabeg and Black Lives is organized by a collection of groups including Justice for Abdirahman, formed after the death of Abdirahman Abdi during a violent arrest in 2016.
They’ve been at the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street since Thursday afternoon and say they plan to be there until the city and police start talking to them about meaningful changes.
“At the end of the day, we want folks to be enraged that they have to take alternative routes,” said Vanessa Dorimain, co-chair for Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition and one of the demonstration’s organizers.
“We want folks to be uncomfortable. We want folks to be inconvenienced, because this is how we feel constantly living in this city and in this province and in this country.”
Dozens of people were at a protest camp in a central Ottawa intersection the morning of Nov. 20, 2020, calling for changes to the city’s policies and budget. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
List of demands
A list of 10 demands shared on social media by Justice for Abdirahman include calling upon city council to vote down a $13.2-million increase to the Ottawa police budget, changing police policies around dynamic entries and mental health call responses and ending racism in schools and the health-care system.
“We’re standing hand in hand together against the injustice that happened within our communities, and also to show the city that we will not take any more police violence,” said Ifrah Yusuf, co-chair of Justice for Abdirahman coalition and another organizer.
Canadians need to also be made aware that systemic racism is not something solely happening south of the border, said Dorimain.
While there was an outpouring of anger after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Dorimain said it’s not the same when there’s similar violence here in Canada.
“I think in Canada, especially, we act as if this doesn’t exist … but I mean, folks, it’s right here. We’re going through this every day right here. Be enraged at home because we’re going through it here,” she said.
“I think that it is a little bit disappointing that I feel like Canadians need to feel or need to see a boot on my neck in order for you to understand that racism is alive and well.”
Vanessa Dorimain, co-chair for Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, says the group plans to stay at the intersection until a dialogue is started with City of Ottawa officials and police about ending systemic violence and injustice. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
1 injured Thursday
Organizers said one person suffered minor injuries when the driver of a car drove into a line of protesters Thursday afternoon, and were disappointed some people were so impatient they couldn’t wait mere minutes.
They also said the response by police was slow.
“Police do not recognize us as an urgency. They do not protect our bodies. They do not care about our voice. They do not care about us and more importantly not meant to protect us,” said Dorimain.
As of noon Friday, Laurier Avenue was closed between Elgin Street and King Edward Avenue. Nicholas Street was closed from Daly Avenue to Highway 417, meaning drivers can’t get off the highway at the Nicholas exit.
In an email to CBC, the Ottawa Police Service said they were on scene Friday morning directing traffic and “ensuring the safety of those involved.”
Police said they were investigating Thursday’s incident and that there was no timeline for ending the roadblocks.
Organizers say there’s been an outpouring of support from the community who have donated a number of items, including food, coffee, tents and firewood. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit by a New York City woman who was severely injured in an explosion while protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota four years ago.
In a 54-page ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor dismissed claims of defamation against law enforcement officials who made public statements blaming the woman for her own injury.
Sophia Wilansky, who was 21 at the time, suffered an arm injury in a violent November 2016 clash between protesters and police during the unsuccessful months-long protest in southern North Dakota against the pipeline.
Protesters allege the blast was caused by a concussion grenade thrown by officers, but law enforcement said it was caused by a propane canister that protesters rigged to explode.
Wilansky’s lawsuit filed two years ago also seeks millions of dollars for alleged excessive force, assault, negligence and emotional distress. Those parts of the lawsuit are still pending.
Traynor, who is based in Bismarck, sided with government attorneys who argued statements about news events released to the public by law officers as part of their official duties are entitled to immunity.
Government lawyers also argued that Wilansky’s father, Wayne, had given interviews to the news media giving her side of the story.
Attorneys for Sophia Wilansky did not immediately return telephone calls Monday.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners built the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to move oil from the Dakotas through Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois, which it began doing in June 2017.
Thousands of opponents gathered in southern North Dakota in 2016 and early 2017, camping on federal land and often clashing with police. Hundreds were arrested over six months.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposed the pipeline over fears it would harm cultural sites and the tribe’s Missouri River water supply — claims rejected by the company and the state.
One person is carried away from a work site on unceded Secwepemc territory near Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday after standing in the way of Trans Mountain pipeline construction along the Thompson River. (Submitted by Secwepemc Sacred Woman’s Fire Council)
Secwepemc hereditary chief, daughter among those arrested Thursday
Five people including a Secwepemc hereditary chief and his daughter have been arrested after standing against construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on Secwepemc territory in Kamloops, B.C.
A statement from the Sacred Woman’s Fire Council said the group was arrested near a work site on Mission Flats Road on Thursday as pipeline crews prepared to drill underneath the Thompson River.
Those arrested include Hereditary Chief Segwses, Loralie Dick, April Thomas, Billie Pierre and Romilly Cavanaugh, the latter of whom is a former engineer for the Trans Mountain pipieline.
“Along with the direct action … the Secwepemc delivered a Cease and Desist letter to TMX Pipeline corporation for the second time. The Secwepemc people did so under the direction of the Elder’s Council stating the land has never been ceded or surrendered and no consent has ever been given for the colonial government or the Trans Mountain pipeline to enact the violent authority and jurisdiction they claim on Secwepemculecw,” read the council’s statement.
“We stand for clean water, wild salmon and for our future generations.”
The project is tripling the capacity of the existing pipeline from the Edmonton area to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C. The portion of the pipeline in the B.C. Interior is being expanded from Kamloops to the summit of the Coquihalla Highway.
Crews are drilling under the Thompson River to pull the pipe through to the other side as part of the regional pipeline expansion. Work in Kamloops began in June.
In February, Hereditary Chief Segwses and his daughter gave themselves up for arrest voluntarily near Chase, B.C., after the RCMP moved in to end a railway blockade built in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs against construction of a different, natural gas pipeline.
A statement at the time said Segwses stepped forward to prevent RCMP from snuffing a sacred fire that was burning along the tracks and to prevent other Secwepemc nation members and supporters from being handcuffed.
RCMP said officers from a number of divisions were called to the work site around 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, after pipeline security staff said the demonstration at the gate was stopping them from doing their work.
Mounties said three people were arrested for allegedly violating a court-ordered injunction by blocking the workers’ path.
A statement Friday said a fourth person was arrested for “blocking an active work site on the south mountain slope” by attaching herself to a bulldozer. The fifth was arrested for mischief but released without charges after allegedly destroying survey stakes across the road from the drill site.
The first four people arrested are due in court on Jan. 20.