Imagine what would happen if the Crown suppressed thousands of pages of police evidence from an important trial? It wouldn't take a legal expert to tell you there would be an immediate mistrial -- especially if the Crown also prepared a false evidence sheet that mislead the judges. And yet, this was done to the survivors of St. Anne's Residential School.
I came to the Qu'Appelle Valley for the filming of the video "Four Horses." It is a musical video project intended to shed light on this dark history. I thought I knew Canadian history. However, as I stood with guitar in hand on the grasslands I saw my country in a way I had never imagined. Not so long ago on these picturesque fields, Aboriginal children were suffering. This comes at a time when the Harper government are wrapping their political agenda in a revisionist history of redcoats, muskets and old white dudes decked out in muttonchops. Lost in this "Heritage Moment" notion of history are the voices of the Canadians who suffered so grievously when the treaties were broken.
Between NDP MPs not paying their income taxes and members of the federal Conservative caucus being accused of defrauding taxpayers through false spending claims, neither party has the moral authority to determine whether Justin Trudeau acted inappropriately in being compensated for speeches he was being asked to deliver that were outside his mandate as an MP. At its core the vitriol and stunning rhetoric regarding this issue has little to do with Trudeau's actions and far more to do with the fear of what Justin Trudeau at the helm of the Liberal Party of Canada could do to the government and official opposition.
I am often asked the question "What got you into politics?" I always think back to a cold October night in 2000, when I stood on a makeshift barricade on the Adams Mine Road. Across the road, police were lining up for mass arrests. But the people who were holding the line weren't radicals, they were my neighbours -- many of them senior citizens and farmers. Up until that moment, I had never considered a life in politics. This is the story of how a dump fight morphed into a two-decade campaign of creative and determined civil resistance. Along the way, we trashed Toronto's Olympic bid in Switzerland, organized road blockades, and hired private detectives to track down backroom investors.
On a warm evening last May, officer Pauline Nguyen went into her backyard and shot herself with her police service revolver. The death of this popular 24-year-old police officer stunned people in her hometown of Thunder Bay. There have been other attempted and threatened suicides from overstressed officers. And the pressures are about to get worse. On March 31, the Conservative government will terminate the Police Officer Recruitment Fund (PORF). The loss of this funding will mean lay-offs of 11 more police officers. Such a loss will add pressure to an already overstretched force.
"I'm willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what (it's) doing to us." We should all be ashamed that these words were uttered in Canada, and that a First Nation leader has put her life on the line to be heard. A hunger strike in Canada is a sign of imperfect democracy.
Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat started a hunger strike this week -- "I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what it's doing to us." The frustration of Aboriginal Peoples is understandable given the complete lack of progress on their issues and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with them on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights. The outrage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is not only understandable, but justified.