Time travel: #LaLoche 2009

In 2009, The Sasquatch, a spin-off of the progressive, Briarpatch Magazine, published a piece the regina mom wrote about youth suicide in La Loche, Saskatchewan.  Yesterday’s tragedy in the remote northern Saskatchewan Dene community, La Loche, prompted trm to remember that story.  And then, she learned that Premier Wall’s SaskParty government and its LEAN-thinking business initiatives helped to kill programs set up by the community for the community and had to repost it here.  So much sadness here.

 

Youth suicide “epidemic” ravages northern Saskatchewan

By Bernadette Wagner

About 40 teens have attempted suicide in the past 18 months in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche. More than half have died.

“It’s an epidemic,” says Laura Petschulat, a high school teacher at La Loche Community School. “They’ve lost hope.”

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) cites suicide as the leading cause of death among First Nations people between the ages of 10 and 24.

“When young people lose hope, suicide becomes a reality,” says Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Vice-Chief Glen Pratt. “Too many of our children experience tragedy in their lives and that injures the spirit.”

Pratt says the current system is set up to make First Nations fail. “Our traditional First Nations health system has been oppressed,” he says. “Western medicine is very tokenized toward First Nations. We need to find a way to give them strength and not label them as sick.”

“It’s tragic,” says Warren McCall, NDP critic for First Nations and Métis Affairs, referring to the high rate of suicide among Aboriginal youth. “It’s the cutting edge of what the province is doing wrong.”

Minister Responsible for First Nations and Métis Affairs June Draude declined to comment on this story. Draude is also the minister responsible for Northern Affairs.

On the Clearwater River Dene Nation just a mile outside La Loche, 70 per cent of the 1,400 band members living on the reserve are under the age of 18. In the village of La Loche, about 50 per cent of the residents are under 18. In both communities, many families live 10 or more to a house, some of which are substandard. Alcohol and drug abuse, physical and sexual violence and teen pregnancy rates are high. The welfare rate sits around 70 per cent.

It’s hard to find positive role models in a community that’s still coping with the legacy of residential schools and colonialism,” says McCall. “The community lacks the resources for positive change. There are hugely limited resources in the north.”

Vice-Chief Pratt says there are role models in every community but sometimes kids choose the wrong ones. Young people and elders don’t always connect the way they should.

There has got to be a revival of First Nations medicine,” he added.

Pratt says the FSIN is encouraging that revival. This past winter, it brought together 300 youth from across the province for a suicide prevention conference in Saskatoon. Survivors of suicide spoke about their “second chance at life.” Youth had opportunities to learn about the traditional ways from Elders and to share their own stories.

According to Pratt, the suicide prevention strategy in Saskatchewan lacks a co-ordinated approach. His organization is calling for a youth forum on the matter. “We need a strategy built by youth themselves and supported by partnerships with youth, First Nations elders, schools and the health system. We need to invite youth to circles,” he says.

Some suggest that northern development, including a road connecting La Loche to Fort MacLeod, Alberta, is the key to fixing the problems in northern communities, but Petschulat disagrees. “A lot of people here think that will only bring drugs and prostitution,” she says. “There are already too many problems here.”

Residents also wonder how development in the future will help the youth now.

“It’s hard for these kids to avoid gangs and drugs, alcoholism and abuse,” says one resident who asked not to be named. “They live with abuse, alcoholism, poverty and can’t escape it. Despite how bad it is, this is where the people they love live.”

NDP Health Critic Judy Junor wants to know what the Sask Party government is doing about the situation in La Loche. “What immediate programs are they putting in place to stop this cycle of hopelessness?” she asks.

Health Minister Don McMorris did not respond to requests for comment.

On World Suicide Prevention Day in September 2008, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine called for a doubling of the number of suicide prevention projects taking place in First Nations communities. One hundred and forty projects are ongoing at the present time. La Loche is not currently a site for one of those projects.

In the meantime, Petschulat says that the only hope some troubled youth have is that someone will post a video featuring images of the youth and a favourite song or two on YouTube after their death.

“Still,” says Vice-Chief Pratt, “many young people are thriving despite the injustices their people face – poverty, racism, oppression. The stronger the spirit, the stronger the nation, the stronger the youth.”

c. 2009 Bernadette Wagner

Sidebar: Holistic health & suicide prevention

A federal government publication, Acting On What We Know: Preventing Youth Suicide in First Nations, suggests that prevention programs are most successful when they bring together health, school and community.

In First Nations communities where cultural traditions have been lost, “the development of programs to transmit traditional knowledge and values, usually by respected elders, is also a crucial component of any suicide prevention program,” the report suggests.

At their recent conference on health issues, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations held sessions on Shiatsu Therapy and the Bowen Method – two methods of healing which are more holistic than western medicine. Both are based in the belief that the human body has an innate ability to heal itself.

Shiatsu is hands-on, finger-pressure therapy, which has evolved from aspects of Japanese massage traditions, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western anatomy and physiology and works to release blocked energy in the body.

The Bowen Method stimulates a sense of deep relaxation, which acts on the nervous system to create metabolic equilibrium at the cellular level. This resets the autonomic nervous system and frees the body to find its own natural balance. By embracing not only the psychological or the physical, the treatments can work on the whole individual.

First Nations medicine is similar in that it also works on the whole individual by looking at the physical, the psycho-emotional, the cultural and the spiritual. According to FSIN Vice-Chief Glen Pratt, “The spiritual is the foundation for the other three. Once we become strong in spirit . . . we become very balanced in a healthy way.”

c. 2009 Bernadette Wagner

Canada creeps toward becoming a closed society

Nick Fillmore asks a question the regina mom has been grappling with for years: “Is Stephen Harper displaying fascist-like tendencies?” Ever since Naomi Wolf published “Ten Steps To Close Down an Open Society” at the Huffington Post in April, 2007, an essay has been brewing on trm‘s computer.  (Yes, trm admits to being a slow writer.)

Wolf’s research for that article became the book, The End of America, which documents “how open societies become closed societies.” Her family’s friends, Holocaust survivors, urged her to explore a few texts and the result was what she called a “blueprint” that has been adapted by several societies when making a shift from an open to a closed society.  In the HuffPo piece she named ten significant pieces of the blueprint and showed how they were at work in the USA at that time.

To complement Nick Fillmore’s work, trm thought she’d finally share, in point form, what she discovered by placing Wolf’s blueprint on Canada.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

  • What’s more terrifying to a parent than ‘child pornographers’?  According to Vic Toews, the regina mom’s opposition to Bill C-30 — the Snoop and Spy bill — means that she stands with “the child pornographers”.  How does that make a mother feel?
  • Women should be used to it, perhaps.  Years ago, the Prime Minister suggested women’s groups are of the “left-wing fringe.”
  • More recently, as trm has noted, on the eve of the Joint Energy Board’s hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver had choice words to describe those in opposition to the proposed pipeline.  He painted “environmental and other radical groups” as those wanting to “block this opportunity to diversify our trade” regardless “the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.” The groups have a “radical ideological agenda” and will “exploit any loophole they can find” to “kill good projects” with “funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”

2. Create a gulag

3. Develop a thug caste

  • The Fifth Estate‘s documentary, Out of Control, about the suicide of Ashley Smith when she was improperly incarcerated in a penitentiary and allowed to die. [Warning: It is difficult to watch.]

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

  • Since 9/11 Canadians have witnessed an alarming increase in surveillance measures.  Are the new airport scanners and procedures are part of the scheme?

5. Harass citizens’ groups

  • Forest Ethics supports its former employee in his allegations that the PMO is trying to “to silence and intimidate non profit organizations like ForestEthics, and the thousands of citizens and civil groups who, like us, are concerned about the direction this country is taking and are speaking out.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

  • G20 protests were an exercise in arbitrary detention and release and suspension of civil rights, as pieced together by CBC’s The Fifth Estate.
  • Saskatoon’s “Starlight Tours” as highlighted in the NFB film Two Worlds Colliding, about the freezing death of Neil Stonechild at the hands of Saskatoon police officers.

7. Target key individuals

  • Franke James is a visual artist with a strong ecological leaning whose federal government funding for a show in Croatia was “suddenly cancelled by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, with the words, ‘Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?‘”  She has asked and is currently awaiting a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver, who announced he would meet with environmentalists if asked.

8. Control the press

  • Early on in the Conservatives’ mandate the PMO set in motion new ways of co-ordinating and disseminating of news and information by the government of Canada.

9. Dissent equals treason

  • Item #5 above identifies ForestEthics as a harassed citizens’ group. It’s former employee Andrew Frank maintains that he and other employees were told the PMO considered them to be enemies of the state.
  • Recently, Canadians were advised that they may be placed on counter-terrorism watch lists if they are involved in “the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism” activities.

10. Suspend the rule of law

  • The conservative government has twice prorogued Parliament while critical debates and actions were underway that may have toppled the Minority government.

 

 

As you can clearly see, dear Reader, Canada is active in every area of the blueprint Wolf found.  And, up against Nick Fillmore’s piece, there is definitely overlap.  Canada is creeping towards closing down as a society, to becoming a fascist state.

Our democracy is very fragile.  Hold onto her tightly.

Willful Ignorance

As the HarperCon delegation of Ministers and big biz boyz prepared to take off for China, the wise Yinka Dene Nation through whose lands the Northern Gateway pipeline is proposed to go, were busy writing letters.  They sent one to the Government of China loaded with examples describing how

Aboriginal communities in Canada live at the margins of society – in abject poverty with appalling conditions. Recently the community of Attawapiskat was highlighted in the news for the extreme conditions with lack of housing, running water and sewage. Attawapiskat is one of more than 100 First Nations communities in Canada that face this reality. These conditions violate the adequate standard of living guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the rights to adequate housing, education, and other rights guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

They sent an open letter to the People of China:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China this week to talk about his plans toforce the Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline and Tankers through our lands, territories, and watersheds. Harper plans to violate our indigenous human rights to build this 1200 kilometre oil pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Ocean. We will not allow Harperto force this oil pipeline through our lands. Under United Nations international law, we have the right to say no to this pipeline. We will enforce our legal rights to protect our waters from the risk of an oil spill.

While the Prime Minister is in China, the Indigenous Environmental Network has teamed up with the Council of Canadians and the Climate Action Network to lobby various Ottawa-based European Embassies about the realities of the tarsands.  From their news release:

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

The organizations discussed the importance of the policy and directly debunked common industry and government lobby points regarding discrimination, carbon intensity of tar sands, and trade concerns. They made clear the critical importance of pressuring the government to take action on cleaning up the tar sands, both from a climate change and energy perspective as well as the human rights implications on directly impacted First Nation Communities.

“Profound human rights violations are being perpetuated by the Canadian governments ongoing tar sands bonanza. First Nations in the region are living with 30% elevated rates of cancer compared to the rest of Alberta,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “First Nations peoples have been leading an international campaign to stop the Canadian tar sands, this policy will help cut off Prime Minister Harpers ability to peddle this dirty oil to the European market.”

The blog, Trapped in a Whirlpool, raises the question of water quality in First Nations communities, noting that Alberta has the biggest increase of boil-water orders in the country rising to 38 in 2011 from 8 in 2006.  [begin sarcasm] Of course, we don’t know why, do we? [end sarcasm]  But the HarperCons are doing nothing to fix this.  Apparently, they’d rather the First Nations people drink bitumen, I guess.  Of course, we are not surprised, are we?

The tarsands are also taking habitat away from wild animals. In a twisted scheme to save caribou herds, the HarperCon government will reduce the wolf population by poisoning bait with strychnine.  In a report on the impact of tarsands development the US National Wildlife Federation says,

Canada’s Minister of Environment Peter Kent said in September that thousands of Alberta wolves will need to be killed to rescue caribou impacted by tar sands development. “Culling is an accepted if regrettable scientific practice and means of controlling populations and attempting to balance what civilization has developed. I’ve got to admit, it troubles me that that’s what is necessary to protect this species,” Kent commented. Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute estimates that many thousands of wolves could be destroyed over five years under Canada’s proposed plan.

The minister has it backwards. Rather than killing wolves, he should be stopping the habitat destruction and restoring habitat associated with tar sands production. Without healthy habitat, the decline of caribou is inevitable, no matter how wolves are managed. If Canada wants to protect caribou herds, the first priority should be protection and restoration of caribou habitat.

The Minister and his cohorts get a lot of things wrong, particularly when it comes to science, according to Metaman.  He basically suggests we turn on our bullshit detectors.

Check your science carefully folks: Give it the sniff test! Is the next phase of “CPC Agnotology” fake peer reviewed “bullshit”? The GOP republicans and CPC conservatives know that they are failing to succeed with ideology, so, is the next step is to put on the “SunTV lab coats (brought to you by FoxNews)” and do some “dog and pony science” for the masses? Perhaps Ezra will finally exchange his “heavy carbon footprint chainsaw for a more efficient and intelligent pen”? Watch for more the new “science parrot” to replace CPC “bullshit“?

It is 2012; Science, in the past 20 years has cleared out a lot of “Kenty” science, but there is much to be done. By eliminating government based science, seems our government expects us to trust corporate science: Tobacco science? Ethical science? FDA Science?

 

350 or bust shared a 26-second video created by NASA scientists.  It shows, very clearly, that global climate change is real.  Have a look yourself:

 

A child could easily understand that.  But our government refuses to.  Willful ignorance is so unbecoming a government.  But that’s willful too, isn’t it?

 

Making More Noise About the Tarsands!

The HarperCons are certainly giving the regina mom a lot of opportunity to diss them.  And that would be fun! Perhaps, if we give them enough rope… I know.  It’s wishful thinking, mirroring theirs, apparently. As a poster at one of the web boards I frequent said, “It’s like the entire country is having a Stress Test.”  It does feel that way these days, for sure.  Alberta Diary blogger David Climenhaga says we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Does it really surprise anyone that’s he’s doing it now, just when he’d persuaded us he was a really fine, avuncular, sweater-wearing fellow, possibly holding a pussy cat, who said absolutely nothing about this topic during his recent election campaign?

Seriously, people, this is the neo-Con modus operandi — when the opportunity presents itself, manufacture a “crisis” and move swiftly to “resolve” it while the opposition is still silently bug-eyed with astonishment and trying to remember where the facts were filed.

trm is not surprised and so, for now, she’s going follow her western neighbour’s subtle advice and make more noise about the tarsands.

But where to start today?

Maybe this is as good a place as any. When trm first clicked onto this 30-minute video, she considered it a hoax.  Further research revealed it to be an expose of the cover-up on a spill that leaked into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  SET Environmental Inc. was subcontracted by Enbridge to clean up the mess. In the video John Bolenbaugh, a former employee of SET, documents some of the devastation he witnessed as a worker, the cover-up itself and the challenges of taking the case to the Environmental Protection Agency.  His actions as a whistleblower have resulted in him not only losing his job, but also attacks on his property, harassment by Enbridge and the police, as well as death threats.  This week he is in court suing his former employer, “seeking compensation for both past and future economic damage, emotional distress and attorney fees.” trm wishes him well.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources, spews false data about the GHG emissions levels in the tarsands.  Deep Climate dissects the dirty data, noting that the numbers Minister Oliver spouts are those put forward by the climate change deniers at Ethical Oil.  trm readers will remember that a propagandist communications guru in the Prime Minister’s office is a founder of that organization. And, even though the Minister has claimed he is not a denier, he still spills denier science and misinformation when he speaks in Parliament and in public. Don’t trust his words.

trm does trust the words of Andrew Nikiforuk, however.  She attended his session at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words several years ago and was moved to tears by his presentation on the tarsands.  Nikiforuk has been steadfast in his commitment to this crisis, writing prolifically and touring extensively, to share his work.  Today, at The Tyee, he lists 11 “economic and political questions [that] have gone unasked or unanswered in the media and Parliament,” questions we should be asking our MPs. And so, trm suggests we do just that.  Go there now, copy of those questions,  and send them to your MP, the Opposition critics, Minister Oliver and the Prime Minister’s Office. And while you’re at The Tyee, take a moment to thank Andrew for his good work.

Also at The Tyee is a piece by Christopher Pollon in which he raises the question of the commercial viability of the Northern Gateway pipeline.  Though Enbridge claims otherwise, it does not appear to have provided sufficient documentation in the form of signed contracts for various things, such as long-term shipping contracts, to prove it.  This has led one of Enbridge’s competitors, Kinder Morgan, to complain

Gateway’s application creates a dangerous precedent, shifting the entire process from a race to obtain contractual support for new services, to a race to get regulatory approval for unproven “concepts” without the need to demonstrate market support.Pembina [Institute]‘s [Nathan] Lemphers concurs, stating in his report that such an approach could spur a “rush of pipeline speculators who seek regulatory approval for conceptual pipelines, effectively putting the cart before the horse and placing greater strain on both regulators and the affected public alike.”

Emma Gilchrist, at Troy Media, lays down five reasons as to why this project is not in Canada’s interest.

  1. protecting B.C. jobs
  2. Dutch Disease
  3. exports Canadian jobs
  4. Half of Canada is reliant on foreign oil
  5. What’s the hurry?

Good points, all, points it’s obvious the HarperCon government could care less about.

But, maybe not quite.  In a House of Commons committe examining the oil and gas sector, Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister for the energy sector with Natural Resources Canada said more oil may flow east in the future.  Who knows?  It may turn out that this hullaballoo was created to set Canadians up for something else.  It is, as previously noted, the way the HarperCons work.

Regardless, First Nations communities are working to stop the tarsands.  The most recent call for action comes from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation(ACFN). They have concerns, explained in part by trm in previous posts.  The current concern has to do with Shell’s plans to expand projects in the tarsands.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects’ impacts on ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future.  The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN’s need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and  Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN  filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects). 

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all.”

 

ACFN calls on us to submit written comments on Shell’s revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements to the Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. Instructions for doing so are on the ACFN website. Do what you can, please, to stop this racist development and potentially save some lives.

In other words, make some noise; it’s the least you can do.

 

Canada’s #enemygate open for questionable business

the regina mom‘s amassed a number of links about the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and, though other bloggers have moved on to the HarperCon’s potential attack on Old Age Security (OAS) [See Alison@Creekside], trm‘s staying on this issue a bit longer.  Now, let’s see where those links take us.

First, let’s note that this fiasco has been dubbed “EnemyGate” by none other than one of Canada’s finest wordsmiths, Margaret Atwood, according to the stream #enemygate on Twitter.  trm thinks it a very apt term.

A case in point.  Marc Jaccard is one of those environmental people the HarperCons would likely paint as an enemy.  He’s a sustainable energy researcher and over at the Vancouver Sun he points out the HarperCons promise, in 2007 and recently re-confirmed. that Canada will reduce her greenhouse gas emissions 65 per cent by 2050.  He says that in order for that statement

 

… not to be a lie, Harper cannot allow expansion of tarsands and associated pipelines, and he must require a growing market share of near-zero-emission vehicles. He knows this because his analysts are privy to the work of the world’s leading researchers. Canadians on all sides of the issue should read a 20-page report from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change entitled Canada’s Bitumen Industry Under CO2 Constraints … The report shows how and why the Canadian tarsands must contract as part of a global effort to prevent a 4 degree increase in temperatures and catastrophic climate change.

Is our PM banking on us not figuring this out?  On not knowing this?  On us not putting two and two together?  Jaccard concludes,

 

The facts are simple. Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

We already know the HarperCons are dishonest and that our PM is a bully and that bullies lack courage, so is it even realistic to expect the PM to act with honesty and courage?  trm notes that the PM was not courageous enough to announce his major policy shift for Canada on Canadian soil.  Instead, he used his time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to announce, among the previously mentioned OAS attack, that

energy policy will be dictated by the need of the economy, not environmentalists, First Nations and other “adversaries” to development. New mines and energy projects would be expedited and regulatory red tape cut in Harper’s brave new world order.

A member of the First Nations community in Canada, Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, says that’s a bunch of bullshit, that First Nations are not adversaries to development. He said it more politely, though.

Madahbee said Canada is missing out on an opportunity to be seen as a leader on the world stage. “The National Chief has told Prime Minister Harper that a comprehensive action plan would add $400 billion to the Canadian economy, and eliminate $150 billion in social costs. There are 400 million Indigenous peoples around the globe – over a million in Canada. We are the fastest growing population. We are the students and workers of the future. Why do governments constantly overlook us?

“If financial self-sufficiency of First Nations” is truly the “end-goal” of the Canadian government, they need to be talking to us about the treaty promises and resource revenue-sharing. This is the only way to create certainty for corporate projects. They can no longer expect to barge into our territories without dealing with First Nations peoples.”

Marc Lee, at the Progressive Economics Forum, has something to say about the economic side of things, too, and in some detail.  Go ahead and read the full piece; it’s very informative.  But, trm will cut to the chase:
Bottom line: the Enbridge pipeline makes odious profits and they must be weighed against the costs of GHG emissions and oil spills. Privatize gains, socialize losses. Which is why the industry and their government make no reference to either the profits to be gained or climate change. While there will be some jobs created along the way, they are very small in number. Governments get a cut, too, through royalties and taxes (though the latter are being phased out for people fortunate enough to be corporations), but these are like the royalties on export of blood diamonds.
And why are we singing to China’s tune, anyway? Terry Glavin’s been doing some damned fine research and writing on that issue.  He says we’ve been hoodwinked:

Over the past decade, Canadians have sunk more than $20-billion of mostly public money into port, rail and highway infrastructure on the West Coast, all to expand Canadian trade into Asian economies. The whole point was to diversify our markets and reduce our reliance on the United States. But none of it has worked out like we were told. We’ve been hooped.

Ten years and $20-billion later, it’s all China, all the time. China plays by its own trade rules and everybody’s let them get away with it. The result is that in 10 years the annual value of Canadian exports to Japan hasn’t budged, and last year, as a destination for Canadian exports, India (the largest country on Earth) was overtaken by Norway. As a Canadian trading partner, Taiwan is now down there with Algeria.

Canada’s collective $20-billion Pacific “gateway” investments have ended up transforming Canada’s West Coast transportation infrastructure into the portal that has enabled Beijing to flood North American markets with goods manufactured in sweatshops where they’ll chuck you in prison if you even wonder aloud what it might be like to belong to an independent labour union. As for free elections or political parties, don’t you dare even think about it.

 

The HarperCons are going against everything Canada has stood for in the global community.  As the headline writer at the Times Colonist points out, “Oil policy [is] turning good guy Canada into global bad boy.”

And we, who dare challenge their edicts are enemies of the state.  Can you say fascism?

PMO Hates Gays & Greens, Judges & Nurses, AKA “Foreign Radicals” (UPDATED)

(Scroll to bottom for UPDATE)

Wow! This media AlerteInfoAlert from the Prime Minister’s Office is a sight to behold, dear Reader.  Do take a moment to thank Kady O’Malley for postponing her book-reading and sleep in order to share it with us.  the regina mom is also foregoing some book-reading and sleep to write this.  As with her poetry, she’s going to take it line-by-line or at least stanza-by-stanza so it may take awhile to find appropriate links and all.  She hopes you’ll follow along, that you’re a brave enough soul to make it to the computer-eye-glazed end.

From: Alerte-Info-Alert
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 08:45 PM

At 8:45 PM on a Friday night, this goes out to the media.  That, in and of itself, is hilarious, is it not?  Can you spell, “desperate”?

To: Alerte-Info-Alert
Subject: Foreign radicals threaten further delays / Des groupes radicaux étrangers brandissent la menace de retards additionnels

Foreign radicals threaten further delays

“Foreign radicals”?  Hmm, those foreigners, maybe they have.  trm has threatened to delay the northern pipeline project.  She has publicly stated that the Northern Gateway Pipeline project will go ahead over her dead body.  And if the HarperCons want her dead body that badly, so be it.  But trm is filled with gratitude for these “foreign radicals” who are threatening to delay her death.  Not yet 50, trm is far too young to die.

So, what else does the PMO have to say about these foreign radicals?

Today, Ecojustice attacked the independence of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel.  ForestEthics, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation joined them in their attack on the Joint Review Panel.

*GASP* — a foreign attack on a Canadian Panel!  By four tree-hugging groups!  Call in the military!  Those plant-loving, ocean living, ethical conservationists, how dare they challenge our panel, eh?  Let’s have a look-see who they are, those radicals!

Ecojustice is a registered charitable organization in Canada.  And all such organizations are subject to laws which regulate all charitiestrm is certain we can trust that with the HarperCon law and order government, any organization undertaking illegal activity would meet the swift hand of justice.  One would expect Ecojustice to know that.  After all, they’ are  “lawyers and scientists.” Just because they “believe in leading the way to a sustainable future” by taking the “lead in four key areas:  clean water, natural spaces, healthy communities and climate protection” shouldn’t mean they don’t know how to follow the laws of the land.

OMG!  An American serves on the Board of Directors:  Judge William Alfred Newsom is a retired state appeals court judge, living in San Francisco, a city also on the western coast of the continent.  And, oh my, he administrates the Gordon P. Getty Family Trust.  But oh-oh!  His son, Gavin, is the former Mayor of San Francisco who granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples!  And now he’s the Lieutenant Governor of California, on record for his support of universal healthcare.  A radical almost as bad as Tommy Douglas!  No wonder the HarperCons a red alert about the organization his father is involved in!

Well, there.  One radical down.  Now to ForestEthics who just fired a whistleblower.  trm discussed that here, but oh dear, lookie here!  They have offices in San Francisco, CA, Vancouver, BC and Bellingham, WA, another Pacific Coast town.  These “foreign radicals” include Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner, Stuart Sender, as well as Kevin Johnson, the author of the successful book, The Power of Legacy and Planned Gifts: How Nonprofits and Donors Work Together to Change the World which sounds like it could be radical.  And there are a couple of entrepreneurs (one with an MBA from the Harvard School of Business), a nurse-entrepreneur and a Spiritual Director for a Buddhist meditation centre. Aha! trm has attended Buddhist meditations.  It is pretty radical to sit still for 45 minutes, that’s for sure! Two down.

Onward, then, to the Living Oceans Society, which claims it is “a leader in the effort to protect Canada’s Pacific coast” and focuses “exclusively on marine conservation.”  Sure enough, there are a couple of Americans on the Board and they employ a bunch of educated people.  A sure sign of trouble, isn’t it?  And OMFG, they have proposed an oil tanker prohibition area that extends from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert because “[h]istory has shown that oil spills come with oil tankers. It’s not a question of if a spill will happen, but when.”  [emphasis mine]  They also provide a detailed oil spill model (map) of what’s at stake in the area.  What a radical concept!  Radical, I tell you! Three radical groups down.

All right then, on to the last one, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, “a team of conservationists and scientists” who use “rigorous, peer-reviewed science and grassroots activism to further [their] conservation objectives.”  Oh, well, then we can be assured these folks are radicals!  Peer-reviewed science?  Real science?  And it’s mixed with activism?  Oy!  How radical can you get?!?  Four radical groups.  Wow!  It’s almost like they’re colluding or something.  All that science and smarts and creativity.  And a bunch of foreigners, to boot!  Oh, the PMO had to take action!

Let’s see what else is in this red alert.

Here are the facts:

The Northern Gateway is currently going through a careful and comprehensive review process to ensure the proposal is safe and environmentally sound.

A lot of people hope so, anyway.

Radical groups are trying to clog and hijack the process, rather than letting the panel do its job independently, expeditiously, and efficiently.

Hijacking?  Yup, that word again.  And, apparently, this hijacking is a fact.  A fact, unsubstantiated at present, but that doesn’t matter in the HarperCon world, so let’s just carry on.  The PMO has more to say, after all.  And I know you want to know, dear Reader.

Our government has asked that the review process be conducted efficiently and without excessive delays.  We believe reviews for major projects can be accomplished in a quicker and more streamlined fashion.

Yes, the HarperCon government has asked for efficiency and speed in the environmental review process, that’s a fact.  And it’s quite likely that they do believe the process could be streamlined, so that is also quite possibly a fact.  Again, unsubstantiated, but let’s give the poor PMO peeps a break and go forward.

We do not want projects that are safe, generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets to die in the approval phase due to unnecessary delays.

Our Government’s top priority remains the economy and creating jobs.

Canada is on the edge of a historic choice – to diversify our energy markets away from our traditional trading partner in the United States or to continue with the status quo.

It may well again be a fact that the PMO wants that.  And who really cares about human rights in China when there’s money to be had a new market waiting.  We need dirty jobs just as much as the next guy.  Our oil’s ethical and clean, right?  And it’s safe, too.  That Obama down south there in the USA is just another eco-radical, anyway.  Didn’t you hear him bragging about his billions of dollars for green initiatives during his State of the Union address the other night?  So we’d best cut and run from that sure market, eh? And get back to red alertville.

We know that increasing trade will help ensure the financial security of Canadians and their families.

We want to take advantage of the booming Asia-Pacific economies that have shown great interest in our oil, gas, metals and minerals.

Well, sure they are.  We’re resource-rich.  For now.  And the folks in the PMO probably think that their buddies we had better get as much profit as possible out of Canada’s resources before we have to change things. But never fear, our HarperCon government is already looking at ways to do stop the changes they don’t want.  Some are even talking out loud about it.

All this talk about a little pipeline project has really tuckered out trm.  It’s possible that some dear Readers have also tuckered out and drifted off trying to plough through all this boring material.  That’s sure to make the PMO people happy.

————

UPDATE:  Those four foreign radical organizations have issued a legal notice of motion calling on the Joint Review Panel to “affirm its impartiality in the face of government interference.” Go read.  Now!  With gratitude to Kady @ Inside Politics for keeping us informed.

UPDATE2:  Should have also included a link to the cover letter and and supporting documents these foreign radical groups based in Canada included with their Notice of Motion.

On Ending Colonialism OR One Reason Why the Northern Gateway Pipeline Must Never Proceed

In light of the upcoming Crown-First Nations Gathering scheduled for this week — the one from which our Prime Minister will be “ducking out early” — trm thought it prudent to review some basics on Canada’s relationship with her First Peoples.  Harper’s planned early exit, the crisis at Attawapiskat and other First Nations communities, as well as the threat to Coastal First Nations in BC as posed by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline add to the urgency of trm‘s review, despite the fact that those items are not on the ever-changing Agenda for the gathering.

An Unhealthy Relationship Between the Canadian State and Her Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Peoples Solidary Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) provide an excellent case study of Canada’s continued colonial and genocidal policies, the overt and covert racism, and the ongoing dishonouring of the Crown Treaties and Agreements in the case of Attawapiskat.

Since a state of emergency was declared…, instead of receiving immediate supports from both the federal and provincial governments, the community has received:

  • Jurisdictional wrangling between the federal government and Ontario on who should be responsible for the emergency, who should pay for the needs of the people
  • Blaming from the feds on their financial mismanagement, which isn’t true
  • Punishment with third-party management
  • Red tape & bureaucracy in order to have their state of emergency recognized and needed funds allocated

Of course, this isn’t anything new to our First Peoples.

Completely Unnecessary Surveillance of First Peoples

The case by IPSMO and the film, Canada:  Apartheid Nation (which trm will examine in an upcoming post), both reference Dr. Cindy Blackstock, the Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.  Dr. Blackstock, a tireless advocate for First Nations children who speaking frequently at meetings and conferences across the nation and beyond is someone who sees the inequities and peacefully responds.  Yet, she has been subject to routine surveillance by the federal Aboriginal Affairs department.

Again, this is nothing new to First Peoples.  Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer, member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick, professor of Indigenous law, politics and governance and head of the Centre for Indigenous Studies at Ryerson University and another peaceful advocate for equality.  In her Indigenous Nationhood blog at rabble.ca she reveals that the surveillance of Dr. Blackstock led her to file Freedom of Information request on her own activities.  Not surprisingly, there is at least one file on her.  It leads her to wonder, then, given the heartful nature of Cindy Blackstock’s work and her own peaceful activities, “[W]hat First Nation activities are NOT considered a potential threat to Canada?”  It’s a valid question, I would think.  Perhaps it is something you could ask your Member of Parliament.

The Road to Change:  Ending Colonial Practices and State Dependency

In “Colonialism and State Dependency“, as published by the Journal of Aboriginal Health V5, I2, Dr. Gerald Taiaiake Alfred of the University of Victoria’s School of Indigeous Governance explains “the fundamental roots of the psychophysical crises and dependency of First Nations upon the state.”  He examines “the effect of colonially-generated cultural disruptions that compound the effects of dispossession to create near total psychological, physical and financial dependency on the state” and “identifies a direct relationship between government laws and policies applied to Indigenous peoples and the myriad mental and physical health problems and economic deprivations.” He shows that,

Political and social institutions, such as band councils and government-funded service agencies that govern and influence life in First Nations today, have been for the most part shaped and organized to serve the interests of the Canadian state. Their structures, responsibilities, and authorities conform to the interests of Canadian governments, just as their sources of legitimacy are found in Canadian laws, not in First Nations interests or laws. These institutions are inappropriate foci for either planning or leading the cause of indigenous survival and regeneration. Reconfiguring First Nations politics and replacing current strategies, institutions and leadership structures with those rooted in and drawing legitimacy from indigenous cultures is necessary for creating renewed environments capable of supporting indigenous ways of being. Transformations begin inside each person, but decolonization starts becoming a reality when people collectively and consciously reject colonial identities and institutions that are the context of violence, dependency and discord in indigenous communities. (Emphasis mine)

His work provides detailed recommendations for change, references the work of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.  Ultimately, he says,

It is the use and occupation of lands within traditional territories, economic uses, re-establishing residences, seasonal/cyclical ceremonial use, and occupancy by families Colonialism and State Dependency and larger clan groups that will allow First Nations to rebuild their communities and reorient their cultures.

The Role of Settler Society

If we of “settler society” do not make significant changes in our personal and public lives, if we do not stand with our Indigenous Peoples to challenge our racist and colonialist governments and institutions, then we are an enormous part of the problem.  Saying and doing nothing is akin to condoning the actions of our governments, of saying yes to ongoing racism and colonialism, of perpetuating the cycles of abuse towards our First Nations peoples by our governments at all levels.  As such, each of us can challenge our internalized racism, speak out against racism in our families and communities and, on a larger scale, do our utmost to ensure that the HarperCon’s pet project, the Northern Gateway Pipeline, is a #fail.  Doing otherwise is a disservice to not only our First Peoples but also to ourselves for we are all Treaty People.

Shame on Canada! Shame on us all!

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan tells an outright lie in this chance encounter on the stairs at the CBC. As if that is not bad enough, the Minister goes on to blame the MP for that area, Charlie Angus, for not informing him of the issue!  Those who follow politics, particularly the issues of First Nations communities and human rights issues, know that Charlie Angus is the guy who’s been working his ass off on this file for YEARS!

A quick search of the Google News archives reveals almost 100 instances of Mr. Angus speaking about the situation at Attawapiskat!  This includes a Hamilton Spectator story from 2005 where Mr. Angus references issues with Indian Affairs’ “boxing in” the people of Attawapiskat. And, in the scrum, Mr. Angus rattles off several instances of his attention on the growing crisis, going back to 2007.

I think Charlie is right.  This is a “willful, hard-working level of incompetence” leading to deaths, by the Government of Canada and, thereby, the People of Canada.  Shame on us for allowing this institutionalized racism to carry on for far too long!

Resources re: Attawapiskat

Trying to sort through the muck the HarperCons are spinning around the humanitarian crisis on the Attawapiskat First Nation and First Nations communities across the country?  Well, here are two important resources.

The first is a blog, âpihtawikosisân, in which the writer unravels the HarperCons’ racist spin, including a breakdown of that $90 million the dishonourable PM spoke of in the House of Commons.

The second, shared with permission, comes from Dr. Neal McLeod, a Poet and writer I met several years ago when he lived in SK.  This is his most excellent open letter to the Right Honourable (sic) Stephen Harper:

An open letter to Stephen Harper regarding the situation in Attawapiskat (from Dr. Neal McLeod)

by Neal McLeod on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 07:45

November 30, 2011

An open letter to Stephen Harper regarding the situation in Attawapiskat

Prime Minister Harper:

Today it was announced that the community of Attawapiskat will be placed under Third Party Management. It seems more than a coincidence that once an Indigenous community speaks out and up about the difficult housing conditions, they are then penalized in a draconian manner by your government. It reflects poorly on Canada that the Red Cross was called in to assist.

kâ-kânâtâ-askiy (Canada) is a rich country. There are many resources at the disposal of the country to assist in the daily lives of Indigenous people. In turn, with the large diamond mine in the area of this community’s traditional territory, this point resonates even more so.

Rather than assess the situation thoroughly, your government simply declares unilaterally that a Third Party Management regime will be established- a move from the co-management structure that had been in place.

It is of the highest order of hypocrisy that that the government stages a military celebration and honouring in relation to recent deployment in Libya. Presumably, this was done to honour the soldiers, which is always a dignified thing to do, but presumably it was also done to signal a triumph for the people of Libya, in terms of having the freedom to live their lives in peace and security- which is of course something to celebrate.

However, why is the freedom and dignity of Indigenous people not held to the same measure and degree in Attawapiskat? Why does your government have no hesitation in sending aid to other countries and peoples throughout the world, yet within its own borders, instead of helping Indigenous people in need, blames them vis-à-vis the establishment of a Third Party regime?

My late grandfather (mosôm), John R. McLeod served in the Canadian army in World War II. He often spoke of the hypocrisy of Canada fighting for freedom for other people abroad, yet Indigenous people had little freedom in their homelands in Canada. It seems that without proper housing and basic living necessities of life, the Cree of Attawapiskat cannot have true freedom , and their basic dignity as human beings will be diminished. It seems, that despite the many decades since my grandfather was a soldier, the fundamental paradox of freedom still permeates the country of Canada at its core.

The measure of any country rests in how it treats those citizens most in need. It seems on this score, in relation to the Cree people of Attawapiskat, your government has failed in a dramatic fashion. Your government acts without honour, and hides behind political sleights of hand such as “third party management.” Instead of blaming the people of Attawapiskat, your government should be working with the Cree people of this community to creatively find solutions.

My great-grandfather câpân, Able McLeod was part of the League of Indians. This grass roots political movement sought social justice for Indigenous people. I have no doubt that they would have done everything they could to assist the Cree people of Attawapiskat. The words, dreams, and honour of my great-grandfather Able McLeod linger in my heart. I am compelled to write this letter to voice the social justice that lingers.

You have a choice. You can continue to engage in a blame the victim discourse, or, you could move towards a discourse and action of honour, and move towards move towards assisting the people of Attawapiskat have basic dignity in their lives. Your choice will speak to the moral foundation of this country.

Sincerely,

Dr. Neal McLeod

*mailed on November 30, 2011

the regina mom encourages you to write your own letters to the PM <pm@pm.gc.ca>.

ADDENDUM:  Please feel free to add links to additional resources in the comments section.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Racist Campaign?

This landed in my inbox today and I thought it best to share it out.  Please note that in no way do I or have I ever supported the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

 

Dear Supporter:

How do you feel about a politician from a Native reserve of 304 people receiving a $978,468 tax free salary?  BTW … that’s equivalent to $1.8-million if they lived off-reserve and paid taxes.

Or what about a reserve politician from a community of 615 making $567,935 tax free?

If those true stories of tax dollars being spent wildly on reserves makes you sick to your stomach, then take note of the cure: Bill C-575.

It’s a private members bill in Ottawa right now that aims to give the federal government the legal authority to place reserve politicians’ salaries on the internet each year. That would bring reserve politicians in-line with all other politicians in the country who have to disclose their pay to taxpayers.

Bill C-575 was in response to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation helping band members blow the whistle on case after case of reserve politicians living high on the hog while their people suffered.

The CTF has learned that over 600 Native politicians in Canada are earning a taxable equivalent of over $100,000 to govern average reserve populations of 1,142 – yet the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs does not have the legal authority to release the names.

Bill C-575 – supported by the government – would change that.  But in order for it to pass, it must be supported by Opposition MPs.  Currently, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are opposed to these salaries being disclosed. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has yet to declare a position.

We need to send them a message:  let Natives and non-Natives see how tax dollars are being spent on reserves.  The status quo is unacceptable. Pass Bill C-575.

  1. Sign our petition and forward it to your contact list
  2. Contact Michael IgnatieffJack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe directly

You may hear non-sense excuses about privacy matters and other gobbledygook, but at the end of the day, we’re talking about public funds – salaries should be made public, especially when those dollars are supposed to be helping on-reserve citizens.

Let’s make this happen!

— Colin, Courtenay, Troy and the rest of the CTF team

PS: The only reason that wasteful spending like this comes to light is because of your donation. If you like what the CTF is doing to blow the whistle on abuse of your tax dollars, please consider making a donation.