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.
We have been collaborating on finding ways to bridge the gap between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities. One of the greatest ways we have found is hip-hop music and culture. If one takes the time to look, they would see that the Indigenous community and the hip-hop community both share a lot of the same experiences.
British Columbia currently faces a perfect storm of fossil fuel extraction and export projects colliding with the realities of a changing climate and rising inequality. Recent years have also been a time that has seen the emergence of mass social movements that are re-defining societies and challenging some of the most entrenched powers on our planet. From the Arab Spring to Idle No More, we are witnessing the rebirth of people power. Here in B.C., whispers of change have grown into a steady hum of organizing and mobilization as communities have come together to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, but now we are in need of growing this movement like never before. Here's why.
"Otesha" means "reason to dream" in Swahili -- a word chosen by founders Jocelyn Land-Murphy and Jessica Lax after meeting in Kenya. After 10 years and dozens of tours, this is Otesha's first "nation-to-nation" tour,in collaboration with the ecumenical justice group KAIROS, to nurture the connection between aboriginal peoples and non-aboriginal Canadians.
The situation Canadian Natives face is not befitting of Canadians' genuine compassion and sense of fairness. But Canadian Jews have, like American Jews during the civil rights struggle, a special duty born of shared experience to actively support First Nations' efforts "to be a free people in their own land" (from the Israeli anthem).
What would the future look like if someone were to hit the "reset" button on the Crown-First Nations relationship and just start over? First Nations would be able to manage their own affairs. This would include the ability to access capital at wholesale rates in order to finance major infrastructure projects.
Have we learned nothing from the story of Dr. Bryce and the horrors he attempted to expose in residential schools? Here and now we have an opportunity to do the right thing for Aboriginal children so in 20 to 30 years Canada does not have to apologize again.
For the Healing Walk, I've been warned that I should wear a gas mask if it's a hot day, when air pollution is at its worst. I've been told that my heart will break to see proud communities march through what is left of their traditional land and hunting grounds. I've been told it will forever change the way I see the tar sands, and the people who face them every second of every day.
I know intimately the importance of standing in one's territory, freely practicing our ceremonies at our sacred places, harvesting our foods, and telling our children their stories of creation in the exact spot creation happened and is happening. I know that living as Anishinaabe is one of the most important things we can do, on reserve, off reserve, in the middle of the bush or in the middle of the city. So I know that the reclamation of PKOLS is an extraordinarily important act for the SȾÁUTW, Songhees and the WSÁNEĆ because it physically connects them to a powerful place, alive with story, and breathing with history.
Acadia Solomon just wanted to swim with her friends. Unfortunately the signs posted last year at her favourite swimming spot were clear: it was not safe to swim in or drink the water. So when she heard about a group of First Nations youth walking from Winnipeg to Ottawa to speak out about the "killing" of our nation's lakes and rivers, no power in the world was going to stop her from joining them.