The First Nations of Canada are still waiting for the colonial era to end

The government continues to ignore the sovereignty of indigenous inhabitants, even though it was granted in 1763
theguardian.com, Monday 21 October 2013

The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, recently made a throne speech, in which he spoke of the settlers who founded the country: “They dared to seize the moment that history offered. Pioneers … reached a vast continent. They forged an independent country where none would have otherwise existed.”

Police cars explode in an anti-fracking protest

Police cars explode in an anti-fracking protest

This genocidal logic finds its companion image in the photos released last week, of 700 heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in a stand-off in New Brunswick with the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and their allies, who are currently defending their lands from the predatory activities of a Houston-based company conducting shale gas explorations. Over the past days, peaceful protesters have been pepper-sprayed, shot at with rubber bullets, and more than 40 people have been arrested.

Earlier this month, a group of First Nations elders travelled to London to mark the 250th anniversary of the royal proclamation of 1763. They did so, in part, as a reminder of the existence of promises made by the British crown to the First Nations of Canada. Issued by King George III at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War, the proclamation recognised that all unceded lands of Indians would be left as such until they were ceded by way of treaty with the British crown. The document thus recognised indigenous rights to their land and, at the same time, asserted the underlying crown title to all of Britain’s colonial possessions in what was to become Canada. The proclamation emerged at a time when the British crown and First Nations were negotiating treaties on a nation-to-nation basis. And in this paradox lies the heart of settler colonialism today: the recognition of indigenous rights on the basis of their prior occupation of the land, now enshrined in section 35 of the Canadian constitution, along with the ongoing assertion of colonial sovereignty. Continue reading

Canada: First Nations’ artist Zig Zag on the resistance movements today

Zig Zag interviewed about Idle No More: “In any liberation movement there are internal and external struggles”

by kersplebedeb

We are living in exciting times, with large numbers of people clearly fed up and taking action, no longer content to wait for the right moment or the right ideas or the right leadership to tell them what to do. Whether we think of Occupy, the Arab Spring, or the current Idle No More upsurge, spontaneity and taking a stand seem to be the order of the day. For those of us have lived through less exuberant times, it is a welcome change. That said, this new environment that clearly comes with its own potential pitfalls and weaknesses.

In order to try and understand this better, i asked some questions of Zig Zag, also known as Gord Hill, who is of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation and a long-time participant in anti-colonial and anti-capitalist resistance movements in Canada.  Gord is the author and artist of The 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Comic Book and The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book (published by Arsenal Pulp Press) and 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance (published by PM Press); he also maintains the website WarriorPublications.wordpress.com.

Here is what he had to say…

K: What are the living conditions of Indigenous people today within the borders of what is called “canada”?

ZZ: Indigenous people in Canada experience the highest levels of poverty, violent death, disease, imprisonment, and suicide.  Many live in substandard housing and do not have clean drinking water, while many territories are so contaminated that they can no longer access traditional means of sustenance.  In the area around the Tar Sands in northern Alberta, for example, not only are fish and animals being found with deformities but the people themselves are experiencing high rates of cancer.  This is genocide.

K: Dispossession has been a central feature of colonialism and genocide within canada. Can you give some examples of how people have resisted dispossession in the past?

ZZ: Well in the past Native peoples had some level of military capability to resist dispossession, which ended around 1890.  More recently there have been many examples including Oka 1990, Ipperwash 1995, Sutikalh 2000, Six Nations 2006, etc.  At Oka it was armed resistance that stopped the proposed expansion of a golf course and condo project.  At Ipperwash people re-occupied their reserve land that had been expropriated during WW2, and they still remain there to this day.  At Sutikalh, St’at’imc people built a re-occupation camp to stop a $530 million ski resort. They were successful and the camp remains to this day.  At Six Nations they re-occupied land and prevented the construction of a condo project.

K: The canadian state has an army, prisons, police forces, and the backing of millions of people – not to mention the fact that it is completely integrated into world capitalism, both as a major source of natural resources and as an imperialist junior partner, messing up peoples around the world. What kind of possibilities are there for Indigenous people to successfully break out of this system, and resist canadian colonialism? What is the strategic significance of Indigenous resistance?

ZZ: Indigenous peoples must make alliances with other social sectors that also organize against the system.  The strategic significance of Indigenous peoples is their greater potential fighting spirit, stronger community basis of organizing, their ability to significantly impact infrastructure (such as railways, highways, etc, that pass through or near reserve communities) and their examples of resistance that can inspire other social movements. Continue reading

First Nations on the Move — the Idle No More movement

Idle no more posterThe willow that weeps no more

by , The McGill Daily, 17 January 2013

Τhe air was cold, sharp, biting. A medicine man was burning sage in a cleansing ceremony and a sacred fire burned in my peripheral. An elder called forth all the women who knew the Willow Song to come share their voices. In my Torontonian grade school, Canada’s history begins with the so-called discovery of the Americas. The Willow Song, as well as many other Indigenous traditions, was never taught. As the beat of my heart blended with the beat of the drums, I began to understand the immensity of the history I did not know. So I took some notes from the Willow Song: willow trees bend by the force of the wind. They do not break.

Through the smoke of the fire, I could see the slow rush of the Ottawa River and on its noble cliff, Parliament Hill. Samuel de Champlain wrote in his journal on June 14, 1613: “the savages call it Asticou, which means kettle.” The waterfalls that gave the land its name are no longer there. Today, most call this Algonquin territory Victoria Island, home of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. A woman who, through her hunger strike – still ongoing at time of writing – is inspiring thousands of people to march for Indigenous rights in the social movement now known as Idle No More.

The grassroots movement brings to light three main goals: the decolonization of Indigenous peoples by the federal government, the reversal of omnibus Bill C-45, and the union of Indigenous people and their allies in a collective, nationwide movement. Omnibus Bill C-45 amends 64 acts or regulations, including the Indian Act and several acts regulating natural resource extraction. Many of the reforms will allow the federal government to streamline projects and profit from Indigenous territories.

idle6***

A fellow Daily editor and I arrived on the island the morning of January 11 – one month after Chief Spence began her hunger strike. There was a demonstration planned for that day and buses were already arriving from all over the country with people ready to walk the short distance to Parliament Hill. The Ontarian band chiefs had convened the day before in Ottawa’s Delta hotel to discuss whether or not to negotiate with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This was our second attempt at getting past the camp gates. A media blackout that began the previous Monday had kept journalists like us out. The following day, we came as students instead, without recorder, notebook, or camera. (Thus, I won’t be talking about the demonstration inside the camp.)

Before entering the camp, my colleague and I spent a good ten minutes idling among the parked cars, unsure how to respectfully approach a movement we felt was not ours. A woman wearing traditional indigenous regalia approached us and introduced herself. She laughed with us and chatted amicably about where she was from. “Go make your observations inside,” she said. Continue reading

Hundreds Of Indigenous Women And Girls Were Murdered In Canada

By Farooque Chowdhury, Countercurrents.org

30 October, 2012

Hundreds of indigenous women and girls were murdered in Canada . To many, it’s a baffling fact.

Recently, there were proposals in the UK parliament to expand the use of secret court hearings in civil cases.

In Greece , migrants and asylum seekers are being hounded by police and right-wing extremists.

These are only a few bitter, and unbelievable to a section in broader society, facts related to human rights in the advanced capitalist world. These facts are difficult to swallow to the section that trusts moral standing of state.

Hard facts related to human rights in these advanced capitalist democratic countries accompany human rights situation in Iraq and Pakistan , countries in the fringe of the world system, but part of the system. In one of these countries, democracy, considering it as a simple commodity, has been exported/imported or is being constructed.

A dirty picture overwhelms human perception. It’s a picture of asserting power, imposing authority, calculus of competition, internal power game, failure to resolve conflicting demands, subjugation, and silencing souls dissenting. Continue reading

First Nations lead the way in Victoria protest against pipelines and oil sands

October 23rd, 2012
First Nations are leading the way in British Columbia’s opposition to pipelines, tankers and exploitation of the climate damaging oil sands

Protesters trickled in like salmon heading home—a few signs on the Canada Line at 5:30 in the morning, a big line up at the Bridgeport bus stop, a ferry full of protesters, all ages, a few costumes, lots of signs. I asked a man on the ferry if he planned on committing civil disobedience. “They’re having trouble figuring out what to do,” he said. “They’ve been given permission to protest on the lawn. Now they’re thinking about driving stakes into the lawn because that’s illegal.”

Eric Boyum, an eco-tourism operator in the Great Bear Rainforest offered a ride to several of us so we could avoid the over packed buses in Schwartz Bay. Boyum stated that tankers would destroy his business, Ocean Adventures, without an oil spill.

“The tankers would travel right through where I operate. They won’t be attractive to tourists.” Protecting his business is not his primary motivation.

“The First Nations in the area are like family to me,” he said. “They’ve subsisted there for thousands of years. Tankers are the biggest threat to their way of life that they’ve ever had.” He also feels responsible for the natural world. “Someone has to speak out for the animals,” he said. “The whales, bears and salmon don’t have a voice in this, but we can fight for them.” Continue reading

Native American lacrosse team refused visas to enter UK

"The People of Turtle Island (America's 500 Nations) were the first to invent team sports, including baseball, basketball, as well as lacrosse. While the 'civilized' world played war games, our tribal men, women and children were settling disputes playing team sports with long bats and lacrosse sticks." Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A native American lacrosse team’s hopes of travelling to England using tribal passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy were dashed last night when the UK Government refused them visas.

US officials had earlier lifted a ban on the passports but the UK does not recognise them as valid documents for entry and ruled that the team members would have to use Canadian or US passports.

The players regard US government-issued documents as an attack on their identity and the decision means the team will miss the Lacrosse World Championship in Manchester. Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the Onondaga Nation who works with the team, was informed of the decision last night.

“These passports are not internationally recognised as valid air travel documents,” a British Home Office spokeswoman said.

The US ban on the use of the passports had been lifted as a one-off waiver at the behest of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who had taken an interest in the case. Officials had originally informed the team that new security rules meant that their old passports – low-tech, partly handwritten documents issued by the Iroquois Confederacy of six Indian nations – would not be honoured. The team needed to get on a flight yesterday to make tonight’s game. Continue reading