Fighting For Answers About Missing And Murdered Canadian Women

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

By Jessica Brousseau / Mid-North Monitor, August 25, 2015

The numbers are growing as the fight for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women continues.

A demonstration was held on Aug. 18 with the familiar voices for the United Urban Warrior Society (UUWS) being joined by new supporters who refuse to take the federal government’s “no” for an answer.

Gathering at Giant Tiger, the group walked down the road before coming to a stand at the junction of highways 6 and 17.

Isadore Pangowish, leader of the UUWS Manitoulin-Sudbury chapter, has organized demonstrations and rallies such as the one held on a humid Tuesday morning.

“Our numbers have grown over the two years,” Pangowish said. “The more we protest maybe, just maybe, we will get our national inquiry.”

A national inquiry has been demanded of the federal government.

“The more and more that we come out, maybe Stephen Harper and Bernard Valcourt will open their eyes.”

While online comments are a mix of support for the cause there is the presence of frustration at the highway being shut down momentarily. But the negativity will not deter the UUWS in any future events.

Pangowish said they were closing the highway a few minutes at a time, but there may come a day when it might be shut down longer.

“This is a government highway. We do not own this highway. It is not a First Nation highway.”

Just like the highway, the inquiry into the growing number of missing and murdered women isn’t a First Nation issue.

“This is for everyone, it doesn’t matter their race.”

His statement was echoed throughout the demonstration as Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare made the same remarks during one of the shutdown periods.

“This is for all women!” Hare exclaimed while pointing to the surrounding communities. “Not just Anishnabek (women), but the women in this community, and those communities out there.”

He called for community members to “stand with us.”

Hare said the demonstration is a political matter and they want leaders to “take hold” of the issue of missing and murdered women, starting with the inquiry.

“Politicians questioning what good would an inquiry be? For me, I think the role of the court system would be to strengthen up.”

Hare was referring to when a woman gets a restraining order against an individual, but the laws do not necessarily protect them.

“A restraining order, I truly believe, gives that individual more (power),” he said. “It’s a challenge. And it happens.”

He said it is sad for family members to grieve over the death of their loved one while the murderer is getting bail.

“That’s the hurting part.”

“It’s extremely important that the awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women, and all women is brought to the forefront,” said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing NDP incumbant candidate Carol Hughes, who was at the demonstration. “We need to have a comprehensive inquiry.”

Hughes said the national inquiry would help give closure to families. She also mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation report, which also supported the inquiry.

SheShegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas told the demonstrators that they are supported and be proud of who they are.

“It’s good that you’re here, support the cause,” he said.

Endanawas had a message for the women at the rally, saying they do not deserve to be talked down to or put down.

“We are human beings,” he said.

Still no answers

The hurt remains with family members, years after the death of a loved one.

It’s been two years since Michelle Atkinson’s daughter Cheyenne Fox was found dead in Toronto.

Fox came from the Loon Clan at the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation on Manitoulin Island and was 20 years old when she fell from the 24th-floor balcony.

The Toronto police called the incident suicide. But her mother says it was murder.

How she was informed of her daughter’s death left Atkinson feeling like it was “just another dead Indian” to the people who told her the life-changing news.

“That’s how I feel,” she said between sobs. “I am angry because nothing has been done to this day.”

Atkinson and family friend Jackie Bowerman describes Fox as a very funny, caring mother.

“She was lively and energetic,” said Bowerman.

“She had her struggles, but she was coming home,” said her mother.

“They had people who really loved them,” she said between tears. “People who still love them.”

“I lost a cousin way back in the 1950s, she disappeared and we never heard from her,” said Endanawas. “We still don’t know where she is or how she died. She must have died…”

The missing and the

murdered

Kassandra Boulduc, 22, of Elliot Lake, was found off the shores of Lake Ontario in 2013.

Tina Fontaine, 15, of Sagkeeng First Nation was found murdered in Red River Manitoba in 2014.

Meagan Pilon from Sudbury disappeared at age 15 in 2013. She has yet to be found.

These women are just a handful of Canadian women who have gone missing or have been discovered murdered in the past couple of years.

A report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated there have been more than 6,500 female homicides between 1980 and 2012.

http://www.midnorthmonitor.com/2015/08/25/fighting-for-answers-about-missing-and-murdered-canadian-women

 

Rainbow Gathering Incites Argument As Native American Groups Call For Eviction

Helen Red Feather argues against the United Urban Warriors decision to evict the Rainbow Family on Thursday, June 26th.

In a statement on Thursday, a delegation that includes several Native American groups, including the Lakota Grandmothers Khahtela Society, called for the eviction of Rainbow Family gatherers who may arrive in the Black Hills, beginning July 1st. The event is expected to draw thousands of people to a remote site near Deerfield Lake in the Black Hills National Forest.

The coalition said the U.S. Forest Service has failed to honor treaties that prevent destruction of the Black Hills. Concerns have also been raised that the Rainbow party will desecrate sacred Native American sites.

Both Native Americans and some Rainbow Family gatherers remain opposed to holding the event in the Black Hills.

The confrontation with Native Americans started about two weeks ago when James Swan, Founder of the United Urban Warrior Society, drove his pickup with a loudspeaker to a meeting with some Rainbow Family gatherers in the parking lot of the Hill City Chamber of Commerce visitor center. Swan told the Rainbow Family in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome to camp in the Black Hills.

James Swan gets in an argument with a member of the Rainbow Family Monday morning at the Hill City Visitor Information Center. Swan is concerned the group may desecrate sacred Lakota sites.

James Swan gets in an argument with a member of the Rainbow Family at the Hill City Visitor Information Center. Swan is concerned the group may desecrate sacred Lakota sites.

The United Urban Warrior Society is protesting the gathering taking place on treaty land.

The arrival of the Rainbow Family to the Black Hills has caused some controversy.

On Thursday, conflict erupted near the gathering campsite in the Central Black Hills. A thunderstorm blew in as members of the Rainbow Family and Native Americans in support of their presence met up with members of the United Urban Warrior Society on the highway, near their campsite. The groups collided and an argument soon broke out.

Some Lakota people support the Rainbow Family. 

“You don’t speak for us Oglala’s in Pine Ridge,” says Hellen Red Feather is a Lakota woman from the Wounded Knee standing alongside the Rainbow Family

She says the Rainbows and the Lakota people both want to protect the land. She argued with the Urban Warriors who are attempting to evict the campers.

A woman going by the name “Feather” argues that the Rainbow Family has a right to be on the land.

Canupa Glaha Mani a member of the United Urban Warrior Society argues the Rainbow Family is invading on Lakota land without permission.

Canupa Glaha Mani with the Urban Warrior Society argues that the Rainbow Family is trespassing.

Canupa Glaha Mani with the Urban Warrior Society argues that the Rainbow Family is trespassing.

The Urban Warriors promise to evict the Rainbow Family. But, at this time the campers remain at a site near Deerfield Lake.

Forest Service officials have said “We hope the encampment is a peaceful one and that there are no violent incidents such as a fatal shooting that occurred earlier this year in Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest.”

The Forest Service held a town hall meeting Friday evening in Hill City to provide information and answer questions regarding the Rainbow Gathering.

Native Americans Concerned With ‘Rainbow Warriors’ Gathering In The Black Hills

Rainbow Family members arrive in the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2006, when the event drew about 20,000 people. Officials say the group may come to the Black Hills this summer.

Rainbow Family members arrive in the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2006, when the event drew about 20,000 people.

A group called the Rainbow Family of Light, are pondering having their annual gathering in South Dakota’s Black Hills from July 1 -7.

An estimated 8,000 to 20,000 participants who refer to themselves as a “Rainbow Family” would be camping in the Black Hills National Forest.

The Rainbow Family’s “peace and love” gatherings are strongly associated with the hippie subculture. The group was founded in 1970s and professes to have no leaders or hierarchy, and appears to draw its name from a fake Native American prophecy claiming that a band of ‘Rainbow Warriors’ will ‘make the earth green again’.

While there are variations on the theme, especially as it has become popularized by environmentalists, hippies and in Internet memes, the common thread in all versions of the story is that a time of crisis will come to the Earth, and people of many races will come together to save the planet.

Usually, the myth of the Rainbow Warriors is falsely credited as being a Cree or Hopi prophecy. However, the origin is not First Nations or Native American at all, but rather from a book titled Warriors of the Rainbow by William Willoya and Vinson Brown.

It was basically an evangelical Christian tract which was published in 1962. If anything, it was an attack on Native culture and an attempt to evangelize within the Native American community.

The truth is several thousand hippies gathering in the Black Hills has local Native Americans along with state and federal law enforcement officers concerned.

Black Hills National Forest spokesman Scott Jacobsen said they believe there’s a 95–percent chance they’re coming to the Black Hills this year.

Jacobsen says a National Incident Management Team arrived from Washington with forest officials, law enforcement and others to get ready.

The Forest Service’s main concerns are that the gathering is peaceful and organized and that there is resource protection and fire prevention.

James “Magaska” Swan and the United Urban Warrior Society (U.U.W.S.) megaload blockade.

James “Magaska” Swan (centre) and the United Urban Warrior Society. On March 26th 2014, members of U.U.W.S. stopped and turned around 4-fracking trucks and ran them off the Cheyenne River Reservation.

The embattled Black Hills are sacred ground

The Black Hills area is considered sacred by the Lakota and nearly two dozen other tribes that claim the area as ancestral.

The Lakota made their home in the majestic Black Hills in the eighteenth century, drawing on the hills endless bounty for physical and spiritual sustenance. 

The Black Hills are the Lakota’s place of creation.

After a treaty was signed in 1868, the Lakota was promised the Black Hills forever. But after gold was discovered, the treaty was broken by the US Government.

To this day, ownership of the Black Hills remains the subject of a legal dispute between the U.S. government and the Lakota.

Native American James “Magaska” Swan, a Lakota member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Dakota territory and Founder of the United Urban Warrior Society (U.U.W.S.) started a online petition that has 1,416 supporters in favor of the “Rainbow Warriors” staying away from the Black Hills.

In an interview with Red Power Media, Swan said our ceremonies belong to us! Not to the Rainbow Family of Light. “Our ancestors died fighting for our rights and our very existence!”

“We do not change or manipulate our spirituality to fit our needs; our spirits do not speak their language!” “We are asking the Rainbow Family of Light to take their event somewhere else” says Swan.

“If the Rainbow Family of Light chooses to use the Black Hills, they will forever ruin any future relationships with Indigenous peoples especially the Lakota with the exception of a few sell outs.”

They will be on National Park land (not private property) it’s occupied Lakota land. “We will rally and confront them,” said Swan.

Facebook

No Rainbow Gathering In the Black Hills. / Facebook.

American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) chapters have also shown their support for the U.U.W.S. and Swan says “AIM has announced that they will stand with us against the Rainbow Gathering.”

The American Indian Movement in Rapid City SD, Native Lives Matter Protest

American Indian Movement members attend a Native Lives Matter Protest in Rapid City SD.

According to a Facebook event hosted by Swan, there will be a meeting with Tribal representatives in regards to the ‘Rainbow Warriors’ at the Hill City Information Center in South Dakota on Monday, June 15 @ 10:00 a.m.

Some members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light’s Facebook page,  question why a meeting with the Native Americans of the Black Hills is needed at all?

Rainbow Family of Living Light / Facebook.

Rainbow Family of Living Light / Facebook.

Lets do what we do every FN year?

Earlier this year in March, at the annual woodland meeting in Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest, a member of The Rainbow Family of Living Light was killed and two injured in a gun rampage around a campfire.

In 2014, at Uinta National Park in Utah, an estimated 8,000 people showed up at the Rainbow Gathering. A National Forest spokeswoman said there were 587 total incidents, including 31 arrests and 136 citations for violations. Two people died in their sleep during the event. The arrests included drug possession, drunken driving and public urination.

In July 2011, a woman named Marie Hanson, from South Lake Tahoe California, went missing in Skookum Meadow Washington State while attending the Rainbow Gathering at Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In October 2011, human remains and jewelry were found near the woman’s campsite. It was later confirmed that the remains were those of Hanson. Police said it was a suspicious death.

Smoking the giant pipe at a Rainbow Gathering in Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington State

Smoking the giant pipe at a 2011, Rainbow Gathering in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington State.

The Gatherings also double as an excuse to throw a party in the woods

The Rainbow Gathering prides itself on being unorganized and these recent gatherings have also had a more sinister side, attracting a seedier crowd that uses all the anachronistic peace-loving as cover for drug abuse, theft, and violent crime.

Pot smoke, public nudity, and drum circles abound.

Environmental impact and crimes such as drug use, assaults, fugitives and serious traffic charges like drunken driving are often difficulties associated with Rainbow Gatherings, and have resulted in strained relations between the gathering’s participants and local communities.

So it would seem the Native Americans and their supporters, along with the state and federal law enforcement agencies — who are all opposed to the next Rainbow Family of Light gathering in the sacred Black Hills — have very legitimate reasons to be concerned.

By Black Powder

In Symbolic Case, Native American Man Beats Fishing-Without-License Charge

James Swan

James Swan

Seth Tupper | Rapid City Journal

A Native American man scored a legal and symbolic court victory on Thursday in Rapid City with his acquittal on a charge of fishing without a license.

James Swan, 53, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a Rapid City resident, represented himself in 7th Circuit Magistrate Court at the Pennington County Courthouse. Will Williams, of the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, was the prosecutor.

Magistrate Judge Bernard Schuchmann found Swan not guilty, though not for the reason Swan hoped.

Schuchmann said the state had to prove that Swan caught, took, killed or attempted to catch fish without a license. Swan admitted he did not have a license, but there was no testimony that Swan caught, took or killed fish, and Schuchmann said the evidence regarding an attempt to fish was insufficient.

“He didn’t attempt to catch fish,” Schuchmann said. “He was looking to define his treaty rights.”

Swan admitted on the stand that he put a line in the water Aug. 17, 2014, at Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills. He had organized a fishing event there to call attention to fishing rights that he claims are still valid under 1800s treaties signed by Native American tribes and the federal government. Swan said he expected to get a ticket from law enforcement, which he did later after a state Game, Fish and Parks conservation officer saw a Facebook picture of the event and investigated it.

Though most of the testimony was about treaty rights, Judge Schuchmann did not address treaties in his ruling. The judge merely found that the state did not prove a catching, killing, taking or attempt to catch fish, which is the standard for fishing without a license in state law.

Still, Swan, an activist and founder of the United Urban Warrior Society, took it as an important victory. Ultimately, although he asserts Native Americans still have fishing rights in the Black Hills under old treaties, he said he wants the state government to formally recognize those rights and make free licenses available to members of the tribes that signed the treaties.

“All Native people in South Dakota should be given a sticker for their windshield for that,” he said in an interview after the brief, jury-less trial. “But that would be a fight to get that done.”

The treaties that Swan referred to are the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1868, which reserved the Black Hills and other land for Native American tribes.

Williams, the attorney for the state, said he sympathizes with the historical plight of Native Americans. But he also said the congressional Act of 1877 revoked the geographic boundaries of the earlier treaties, which means Sheridan Lake and the Black Hills are no longer legally part of a tribal reservation, and tribal residents have no right to fish there without a license.

“We’re not in a political forum right now,” Williams said during his closing argument. “We’re in a legal forum, and the law is well-settled.”

Swan argued the opposite about the treaties but conceded he was at Sheridan Lake with a line in the water. He said it was a poor time of day for fishing, and that catching fish wasn’t the intent. The intent was to openly assert treaty rights.

“I’m not a big fancy lawyer,” Swan said in his closing argument. “I’m a nobody. I’m just a simple person standing up for something I believe in.”

#ShutdownCanada Halts Traffic At Highways 17 And 6

Protesters with the United Urban Warriors Society took to the highways 17 and 6 intersection during their protests on Feb. 13. Photo by Jessica Brousseau/The Mid-North Monitor/QMI Agency

Protesters with the United Urban Warriors Society took to the highways 17 and 6 intersection during their protests on Feb. 13. Photo by Jessica Brousseau/The Mid-North Monitor/QMI Agency

By JESSICA BROUSSEAU

Members and supporters of the United Urban Warrior Society (UUWS) refuse to be silent as they held another protest and traffic slow down.

Taking to the intersection of highways 17 and 6 on Feb. 13, members were holding their signs high.

With their cries for a national inquiry getting them nothing but rejection after rejection, ralliers were out to have their voice on all matters such as fracking, genocide, and water and land mistreatment heard.

In a national move, #shutdowncanada had Canadians alike taking to social media. A unity on and offline to shut down Canada for a few hours.

In a Facebook comment on the UUWS page, the message of the protest was to “significantly impact the Canadian economy for a day and demand there to be an independent inquiry into the 2,000+ cases of missing or murdered indigenous women.”

Isadore Pangowish, organizer of the UUWS of Manitoulin and the North Shore, said a round table discussion in planned for Feb. 27 regarding an inquiry, but added that is not what they want.

“How all of us First Nation people see it, there is absolutely no need for a round-table talk,” he said. “What we need is just the upper government and (the) Aboriginal minister to come out and tell us ‘We will do an inquiry.’”

Police presence was on the scene for the two hours to assist with the traffic slow down.

OPP Constable Wayne Berthelot said they were there to protect those protesting as well as the motorists travelling through the area.

For five minutes of every hour, the traffic flow through the intersection was stopped as ralliers took to the highway with their signs and their concerns.

With the small amount of time they had, Pangowish spoke to the protesters about why they were taking such action.

“Because of (Stephen) Harper, we are all standing out here. I know for me, I will not be quiet, I will not shut up and I will keep doing what I am doing.”

Another concern for Pangowish is Bill C-51, an Anti-Terrorism Act, which enacts the security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

“What we are doing right now, this will be illegal,” said Pangowish.

“They are calling us radicals,” cried one protester.

“Terrorist,” said another.

Ralliers starting calling out “Harper no more” as the stalled traffic lined the highway towards Nairn Centre.

With two minutes left of the slow down, Pangowish told those in attendance that they are the leaders, that they will not give up.

With mixed cries from the crowd, one woman’s voice spoke up saying their treaties need to be honoured, and their payment of $4 a year is not enough to raise her children.

“Four dollars does not cut it anymore.”

Once their time was up, members and supporters of UUWS headed back to the mediums of highways 17 and 6, as traffic continued flowing, honking their horns as they drove past.