When 78-year-old Aboriginal education activist Verna Kirkness heard Harper promise legislation giving aboriginal communities full control of on-reserve education, backed with $1.9 billion in new stable funding, she choked up. "I thought I would never hear such words. That feeling that, after all these years, something could finally happen."
A signature tactic of fossil fuel justice is accusing nonviolent defendants of felonious crimes that will later be dropped, but meanwhile holding them in prison because the bail is too high. Call it "overcharging."
His invitation to stand up and take action is possibly even more important now than it was while he was alive. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, a worldwide wave of action is brewing and a Global Spring is on the horizon.
Inspiration is contagious, and I make sure to have a balanced diet of art, natural sanctuary places, and culture to make the stench of the compost a little more bearable as I till the soil.
There was something almost apocalyptic about 2013. But much happened that was hopeful this year -- a new pope focused on inequality, successful minimum wage campaigns spread across the country, and the number of states allowing gay marriage doubled.
If I were to make a PSA about the difference between mainstream schools and northern Aboriginal schools, I would start with a shot of a classroom in the Ontario's south. I'm in a classroom in the Orangeville, Ontario area. I show them pictures, a bit of video, and talk about our students in Canada's Aboriginal Communities. I tell them to imagine the classroom they're in is actually in the north. They're drinking bottled water or their parents are boiling it for five minutes for safety. Their food is three to five times as expensive as in the south. They realize that, in the short time they've been on this planet, they have had so much.
There is no discussion of the fact that part of the reason Mandela was sent to prison was because he was responsible for bombing a power plant. Though we seem to like to imagine that Mandela brought change to South Africa with nothing but wise words and a kind, grandfatherly smile, the truth is very different. Mandela fought for his freedom, tooth and nail.
Canada's taxpayers have been increasingly generous to Aboriginal Canadians over the decades, but that reality is not often the narrative one hears from selected First Nations leaders. Instead, the oft-stated opinion is that taxpayers should ante up ever more. A quick look at the numbers shows us why that view will always be tragically misinformed.
Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to outline our deep and ongoing concerns with how your government has managed the relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Royal Proclamation laid out how the richness of the land would be fairly shared. That hasn't happened. In other words, you need to completely rethink your approach to dealing with Aboriginal Peoples, not only because of the need for social justice and respect for their Constitutionally protected rights, but because the failure to do so will have enormous negative impacts on the Canadian economy.
Last year the Conservative government spent more fighting Indigenous people in the courts than it spent going after tax frauds. From First Nations' child welfare to resource development, the government's response has been "see you in court." Who knew in 2011, when a government document listed Indigenous peoples as "adversaries" in terms of resource development, that this attitude would permeate every aspect of the Conservatives' approach when dealing with Aboriginal people? Prime Minister Harper's decision to abandon consultation and negotiation to drag Aboriginal issues through the courts is failing, costly, time consuming and undermines the honour of the Crown.
Beyond the gates of the Stampede grounds, however, the mood was less affable. Hundreds braved a snow storm and icy temperatures to show their dissatisfaction with this convention and government's agenda more broadly. The gathering was part of a three-day conference advocating for democracy, the environment, Aboriginal Treaty rights, and human rights.
A movement has taken hold. It arose notwithstanding the torturous abuse First Nations people withstood as children and youth at Canada's residential schools which took place during the course of my generation and previous generations. The after-effects of the abuse continue to haunt communities.
New Brunswick is normally seen as a quiet little province that does not get a lot of attention. That changed Thursday when the world watched in horror...
It's clear that Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald's policy of starving First Nations to death in order to make way for the western expansion of European settlers meets the criteria of genocide under the CPPCG. The fact that Canada's Aboriginal peoples have not been wiped out, and are indeed growing in numbers, is not proof that genocide never occurred, as some would have us believe. The historical and psychological reality of genocide among our Aboriginal communities is very much alive and a part of living memory. The sooner we recognize this truth, the sooner both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians will be able to heal from our shared traumas.
I have spoken out against top-down attempts to implement educational reform, but now I want to talk about alternatives. The First Nations Education Act is going to be passed. It will be full of words, and funding will be slow to follow, if it ever truly does. It will not meet our needs, because it has not been designed by us. I believe we need to pool our considerable resources and expertise in order to set up and implement a system of temporary "schools" akin to the Freedom Schools during the Civil Rights movement. We could do this by creating for this one year, a system of "sovereignty summer schools."
We know that a just and sustainable future is about more than clean energy and bike lanes. It means recognizing, acknowledging and working with Indigenous communities to challenge a continuing legacy of colonization and injustice. Stopping climate change may be the means that we come together, but justice is the goal.