October 21, 2013 - No. 118
All Out to Support the Just Demands
of the Elsipogtog First Nation!
Oppose the Criminalization of
Energy Monopolies Watch Out!
Members of the Elsipogtog
First Nation militantly defend their rights and blockade fracking
near Rexton, New Brunswick, October 7, 2013. (Two Row Times)
• All Out to
Support the Just Demands of the Elsipogtog First Nation! -
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
• Elsipogtog First Nation's
Defence of Rights Met with State Violence
• Widespread Emergency Actions Denounce State
Violence and Monopoly Right
• UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous
Canada Faces Crisis Situation
All Out to Support the Just Demands
of the Elsipogtog
Oppose the Criminalization of Their Just Demands!
Monopolies Watch Out!
Rexton, NB, October 17,
condemns the violence unleashed by the Canadian state against the
Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. We equally condemn the
diversionary tactic of the monopoly media for sowing confusion by
making the central issue that of who instigated the actions that
October 17. This diversion is designed to hide that what is at stake in
the struggle of the Elsipogtog First Nation is the defence of their
inviolable constitutional, treaty and hereditary rights in the face of
of those rights by the Canadian state, which is working hand-in-glove
with the energy monopolies.
Although the provincial Alward Conservative government
in Fredericton has issued numerous oil as well as gas exploration
licences in the Kent County region to many seemingly independent
prospecting individuals, the Irving empire fronts the financing of a
large number of such start-ups and other international
energy monopolies such as Shell and Chevron follow this practice as
Furthermore, even as it is licencing prospecting
activity on aboriginal territory, the New Brunswick government has
opportunistically manipulated the so-called fact that aboriginal
affairs are a purely federal jurisdiction so as to justify arranging
for and supporting the dispatch of a considerable RCMP, i.e., federal
police, presence at and near the main fracking exploration sites where
protests have been ongoing.
The struggle unfolding in New Brunswick is the latest
episode in the fight across Canada to defend not only hereditary rights
of the indigenous peoples but also public right against the unrelenting
assault by the various monopolies. The Harper regime's aim is to
extinguish and erase any notion that rights belong
to the holder by virtue of the holder's being and that they must be
with a guarantee. In the rabid eyes of the monopolies and their
champion the Harper government, the rights of the peoples and the
peoples themselves are obstacles that must be crushed and removed. This
must not pass!
Chief of the Elsipogtog
First Nation delivers eviction notice to SWN Resources Canada, October
Defend the Elsipogtog First Nation! No
Elsipogtog First Nation's Defence of Rights
Met with State Violence
RCMP pepper spray
peaceful protestors, October 17, 2013.
The Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick has been
blockading a fracking operation by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary
of Texas-based Southwestern Energy (SWN). This spring, SWN began
preliminary testing for shale gas exploitation in the area without
prior consultation with First Nations, as required
As is their right and duty, the Elsipogtog have
right to resist, in defence of their constitutional, treaty and
which governments are duty-bound to uphold. Instead, governments have
seen fit to use state violence, as was carried out on October 17 by the
RCMP against the First Nation and
its supporters, in defence of monopoly right. The RCMP arrested some 40
people during their October 17 attack and they are scheduled to appear
Miles Howe, an independent journalist writing for the
Halifax Media Co-op points out that "none of Canada's Maritime
provinces are ceded land. The Crown is tied to the original indigenous
inhabitants -- and their land -- through treaties of peace and
friendship. Nothing more."
In addition to the demand that fracking be stopped
immediately, on October 12, the Mi'kmaq Warriors Society called on New
Brunswick Premier David Alward to:
- produce all Bills of Sales, Sold, Ceded, Granted and
Extinguished Lands for New Brunswick;
- produce documents proving Cabot's Doctrine of
- produce the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1686;
- produce Treaty of Fort Howe 1768;
- produce consents for Loyalists to land in Nova
- produce records of Townships created and consents by
Chiefs to allow this;
- produce agreements or consents by all New Brunswick
Chiefs who agreed to Confereration of 1867;
- produce evidence of consents to the Indian Act
by all Native Tribes.
- produce records of Trust Funds.
- produce agreements for 4% of all mineral shares of
finished products in Canada, except coal;
- produce all correspondence letters pertaining to
Numbered Treaties (Promises);
- produce all documents creating border divisions, that
divide the Wabanaki confederacy;
- produce the Orders from the Lords of Trade to the
Governor of the Colonies.
TML reiterates that the just demands of the
Indigenous peoples for the recognition of their rights are not a
"special interest" but an issue facing the entire polity which can only
be resolved through modern arrangements that uphold rights on the basis
that they are inviolable and belong to people by
virtue of their being. TML calls on everyone to
continue organizing and participating in actions in support of this
important fight for rights.
Eye-Witness Account of RCMP Violence at
Elsipogtog First Nation/Rexton, NB
RCMP violently take down
Chief of the Mi'kmaq Warriors Society Seven Bernard, October 17, 2013.
The following is eye-witness report of
the state violence carried out by the RCMP early in the morning of
October 17, written by Miles Howe for the Halifax Media Co-op.
I have been camping at the current blockade along
highway 134 since
the inception of the encampment, filing almost daily reports for the
Media Coop. During June and July of this year, when protests against
shale gas exploration in New Brunswick were of far less national
interest, I was doing the same.
Around 6 am yesterday morning, October 17th, RCMP forces
blocked off both sides of the anti-shale gas encampment along highway
134, this time with an as-yet-unseen amount of police force. For
numerous days prior, RCMP were allowing first walking traffic, then one
lane of automobile traffic, to
pass freely through the blockaded area. Anti-shale activists, as a
measure of good faith, and in deference to emergency vehicles in
particular, had days earlier removed two felled trees that had
completely blocked off vehicular traffic.
The move, of course, allowed traffic flow to resume to
It also allowed unhindered access to RCMP, who as it will be made clear
were scouting out the area and making plans for an ultimate take-down
of the traffic-slowing, but completely peaceful, protest.
Yesterday, I first heard that the roads were blocked off
screaming in a tented area near the entrance gate to the compound that
housed SWN Resources Canada's seismic testing equipment, in the
vicinity of where I was camped. At the time, I was asleep.
I could hear police beginning to identify themselves,
and a rustling
through the trees that suggested numerous bodies moving around. RCMP, I
surmised, were everywhere, and the always-possible event of the RCMP
serving SWN's injunction against blocking their equipment was upon us.
SWN, the Texas-based gas company, had earlier been given
extension to their injunction against the encampment, due to expire on
October 21st. We had heard that the injunction had been printed in
Irving-owned newspapers. Due to Irving's collusion with SWN (the
compound in which SWN's equipment
was housed, for example, is Irving-owned), there had been something of
a ban on Irving newspapers. We had also been advised by various sources
that peace would remain at the encampment until at least Friday,
October 18th, when a public hearing against the injunction was set to
occur at the Moncton courthouse.
I grabbed my car keys and ran the 100-odd metres towards
the Mi'kmaq Warrior encampment.
What I saw was surprising.
The ditch opposite me was already filled with 20-odd
tactical blue uniforms, pistols already drawn. Three police officers
dressed in full camouflage, one with a short-chained German Shepherd,
were also near the ditch.
In the far field, creeping towards the Warrior
encampment -- which
was comprised of one trailer and about ten tents -- were at least 35
more police officers. Many of these wore tactical blue and had pistols
drawn. At least three officers were wearing full camouflage and had
sniper rifles pointed at the amassing
group. The Warriors, for their part, numbered about 15.
Through a police loudspeaker towards the highway 11
officer began reading the injunction against the blocking of SWN's
seismic equipment. This was all before dawn.
Still in the pre-dawn dark, about seven molotov
cocktails flew out
of the woods opposite the police line stationed in the ditch. I cannot
verify who threw these cocktails. They were -- if it matters --
ineffectively at the line of police and merely splashed small lines of
fire across the road. A lawn chair caught
fire from one cocktail. Two camouflaged officers then pumped three
rounds of rubber bullet shotgun blasts into the woods.
Shortly after, three so-called warriors with a
journalist in tow --
who claim to have arrived two nights ago from Manitoba --
have determined that the situation was too extreme for them. Two of
them have since been identified as Harrisen Freison and 'Eagle Claw'.
They promptly ran down the road
towards the far end of the police blockade. Until last night no one had
ever seen these individuals before.
About ten minutes later, with tensions now becoming
between the encroaching line of police in the field adjacent to the
encampment and the Warriors now on a public dirt road, two officers
approached Seven Bernard, chief of the Warrior Society. They attempted
to serve Bernard with SWN's
contentious injunction. Dozens of guns from all angles were pointed at
all of us.
Seven Bernard began to walk away from the officer
serve him the injunction. If it matters, the officer in question was
the same Sergeant Rick Bernard who had earlier in the summer arrested
me on charges of threats and obstruction of justice -- both of
amounted to nothing and were subsequently
Sergeant Bernard threw the injunction at his namesake,
saying: "Consider yourself served."
I could hear the RCMP surrounding us speaking about
someone having a
gun. I did not see any Warrior carrying a firearm. I can say with
certainty, however, that no live round was ever fired by the Warrior
side. If, as the RCMP are now claiming, a single shot was discharged,
it was not from this altercation.
Before continuing, it is important to note that the
encampment was on government -- or Crown -- land. Crown
land, legally, is
being held for Canada's indigenous people, in this case the Mi'kmaq
people. Through negligence of the Crown, this is often forgotten,
especially by Canada's non-indigenous
Equally as forgotten is the
fact that none of Canada's
provinces are ceded land. The Crown is tied to the original indigenous
inhabitants -- and their land -- through treaties of peace and
friendship. Nothing more.
It is also important to note that the entire encroaching
formation was focused on a group of about 15 Warriors, all of whom were
now on a public dirt road, away from SWN's so-called blockaded
The injunction was meant to focus on protestors blocking
SWN's equipment on highway 134. All of the subsequent arrests at this
end of the altercation were made on Hannah Road.
With RCMP forces having entirely overwhelmed any
remaining activists at the compound gate, the question must be asked:
Why focus on a small band of Warriors, clearly away from
SWN's equipment and entirely incapable of reforming a blockade, with
over 60 guns of various calibre drawn on them?
Indeed, a van belonging to one Lorraine Clair from
Nation had the evening before been removed from the compound gate. It
was the main blocking factor to SWN's -- or anybody's, really -- access
to their equipment.
Tensions at this stand-off further escalated when a
Elsipogtog youth began running up the dirt road towards the Warriors,
and police. It is unclear how the youth, on foot, had managed to come
up a back road towards a highly volatile situation. The police
attempted to halt the approaching youth, for
what reason is unclear.
Mi'kmaq Warrior Suzanne Patles, in a last-ditch attempt
to defuse a
situation now spiralling into a screaming match with police guns
pointing in every direction, ran into the middle of the field
screaming: "We were given this tobacco last night!"
Now crying, in her hand she held a plug of tobacco,
provided to her
by RCMP negotiators wrapped in red cloth as a traditional token of
peace the night before.
Skirmishes then broke out in
every direction. From the highway side,
District War Chief Jason Augustine was being chased by numerous police.
In front of me, everywhere really, Warriors were being taken down by
numerous RCMP officers in various clothes. Rubber bullet shots were
fired by the RCMP, and
both Jim Pictou and Aaron Francis both claim that they were hit -- in
the back and leg respectively.
I continued to try photographing what had quickly become
scene until one officer in camouflage and assault rifle pointed at me,
saying: "He's with them. Take him out!"
I was taken to the ground and arrested.
Myself and approximately 25 individuals then spent a
of time at the Codiac detention centre. Some of us, apparently on a
haphazard basis, were provided blankets and mattresses. Others spent
about 20 hours on hard concrete.
At about 12am, I was taken for fingerprinting and told
would be obstruction of justice, for running at an altercation (taking
photographs all the while, mind you). I was refused release when I
could not procure a $500 note of promise.
An hour later, I was brought back to the release desk.
My charge was
now mischief, with conditions to stay 1 kilometre away from SWN's
equipment and personnel.
I refused to sign these documents at this point,
preferring to see a
judge the next day. At approximately 3am I was told that all charges
against me had been dropped and that I would be read SWN's injunction
and then released.
I refused to sign the injunction, and at 3:15am was
released into the Moncton night.
I can only assume that my ever-reducing charges were due
in no small
amount to a public outcry over once again arresting me while covering
the ongoing seismic testing story in New Brunswick.
I give thanks for this continued support.
Again, one must wonder at the RCMP's pre-sunrise,
means of attempting to enforce an injunction against blocking SWN's
equipment. Again, one must reiterate that neither members of the
Mi'kmaq Warrior Society nor anyone else was anywhere near the
newly-unblocked compound gate. Nor
were they at all capable of re-forming any blockade style formation.
Again, it must be reiterated that Lorraine Clair's van,
impediment to accessing the equipment, had been removed the night
Instead, with guns drawn, the RCMP appeared intent on
provoking a violent climax on the near three-week blockade.
I say in no uncertain terms that it is miraculous that
no one was
seriously injured yesterday, indeed killed. The RCMP arrived with
pistols drawn, dogs snapping, assault rifles trained on various
targets, and busloads of RCMP waiting from across the province and
As solidarity actions spring up across the country,
actions have perhaps invited a far greater climax to New Brunswickers'
fight against shale gas.
Finally, while the mainstream media will go far to paint
this as a
"Native" issue, it is vital to remember that the blockade, until
yesterday, had been supported by various allies from across the
province. It is also key to note that an original 28 groups,
representing New Brunswickers from all walks of life, had
demanded an end to all shale gas exploration or development.
This all occurred long before images of bandana-ed
people, whose veracity as true grassroots activists and not
provocateurs is now being closely examined, ever set fire to a single
RCMP squad car in Rexton.
Widespread Emergency Actions Denounce
State Violence and Monopoly Right
Word of the state violence against the Elsipogtog First
Nation spread swiftly, with actions held in many places beginning
October 17. Idle No More reports that at least 48 actions were
organized across Canada, the U.S. and worldwide between October 17 and
19. These actions condemned the Canadian state for
its violent support of the energy monopoly SWN and gave unequivocal
support to the Elsipogtog First Nation and all others across Canada and
elsewhere who are fighting to defend their lands, the health of their
communities, way of life and the right to decide how, when and if
natural resources should be exploited.
Over 250 people took part in a spirited demonstration in
Halifax on Friday afternoon, October 18, to condemn the violence
unleashed by the Canadian state against the Elsipogtog First Nation in
Waving flags and placards in front of an Irving Oil
service station on the heavily travelled Robie Street, the protesters
were constantly saluted by drivers honking their horns in support.
Following several speakers, everyone marched south on
Robie to the Willow Tree intersection, which was occupied for 20
minutes or so, and then on to the South Commons for drumming and a
Parliament Hill, October 17, 2013
occurred in Ottawa on October
17. One group gathered at the Human Rights Monument before marching to
meet another group that had gathered at Parliament Hill at 5:30 pm.
Around 200 people in total participated, including Mi'kmaq people from
Speakers emphasized that arrangements have not substantively changed
since Wounded Knee, Oka, Gustafsen Lake, and other examples of colonial
violence against the indigenous peoples of North America. It was
emphasized that new arrangements are required that affirm First
Nations' rights and that state violence
against indigenous people has to stop immediately.
Another vigil was held on Parliament Hill October 18.
First Nations youth organized further events in Ottawa
on October 19. The first was a flash mob at 5 pm with singing and
drumming at the Rideau Centre mall. Despite many passers by expressing
interest and support, the group was treated in a hostile manner by mall
security who called police. The demonstration
continued outside the mall and marched to Parliament Hill at 6 pm.
Several dozen participated and signed a petition supporting the just
demands of the Elsipogtog First Nation in their fight to affirm the
right to a say in the development of resources. Activists promoted a
Protect Our Mother Earth Flash Mob Round
Dance event for October 21 at the Carleton University campus in Ottawa.
The event aims to inform and engage students around supporting the
demands of the anti-fracking movement Elsipogtog territory and opposing
state violence against indigenous people. More information about the
event at Carleton can be found here. There
is also a fundraiser for Elsipogtog First Nation being held at the
Bronson Centre in Ottawa October 20 between 1:30 and 4:30 pm, details
are posted here.
On October 19, nearly 1,400 people rallied across from
Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto to oppose the
violation of Indigenous peoples' rights, including the attack on the
Elsipogtog First Nation, damage to the environment caused by the energy
monopolies, and the
peoples' exclusion from decision-making in matters which affect their
The mass action was one of
a series of events held in Toronto last
week during hearings of the National Energy Board (NEB) into Enbridge's
request to reverse the flow of and expand its Line 9 oil pipeline, so
that bitumen from the Alberta oil sands can be shipped eastward to
Placards, banners and speakers were all emphatic that
reversal of the 37-year-old Line 9, which travels through many
inhabited areas, including the most populous regions of southern
Ontario, is a recipe for disaster. Speakers pointed out that based on
its record, Enbridge is thoroughly untrustworthy when it offers
assurances that it can guarantee the safety of its pipeline from leaks
Many placards also condemned the Harper government and
NEB for upholding monopoly right and abdicating their duty to uphold
public right and public safety.
The group marched a short distance to Roundhouse Park
behind the Convention Centre where more speakers were heard. These
included many Aboriginal youth who are fighting to protect their lands,
as well as well-known cultural personalities like
singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer and actress Tantoo
Earlier in the day, the NEB hearing came to an
unexpected close when activists and indigenous peoples peacefully
intervened in the hearing and the NEB decided to end the proceedings on
the spurious basis of safety concerns. Activists point out that in
addition to restricting who could speak at the hearings, the
Harper government's omnibus Bill C-38 restricted what those individuals
could say in the NEB hearing, limiting discussion to tar sands
production or refining.
A militant demonstration took to the streets of downtown
London on October 18, with protestors marching the headquarters of the
local RCMP detachment. Protestors also took to Highway 4 with the signs
A rally to oppose state organized violence against
Elsipogtog First Nation and to oppose fracking took place outside RCMP
headquarters in Windsor, October 19. Participants included Idle No
More-Windsor Region, the Council of Canadians, the Marxist-Leninist
Party, labour activists and
Shoal Lake, Manitoba
A rally was held at Churchill Square on October 18 to
express support for the Elsipogtog First Nation and to denounce the
unjustified violence of the RCMP. The participants then marched to the
RCMP's "K" Division to continue their protest.
More than 1,000 people rallied in downtown Vancouver on
October 18 to show solidarity and support for the Elsipogtog and
Mi'kmaq anti-fracking blockade. After speeches outside the Art Gallery,
supporters wove through downtown streets to chants of "Mi'kmaq We've
got Your Back"
following the assault and mass arrest by heavily-armed RCMP officers on
the Elsipogtog blockade in New Brunswick.
Actions were held at the Canadian Consulates in New York
City (left) and San Francisco.
UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Says Canada Faces Crisis Situation
Rapporteur Dr. James Anaya (centre top) is welcomed to Winnipeg by
local First Nations,
October 12, 2013. (Lawlady)
On October 15, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples, Dr. James Anaya, held a press conference in Ottawa
to conclude his one-week visit to Canada, during which he met with
government officials at the federal and provincial levels, and First
Nations, Inuit and Métis across the country.
Throughout his remarks on the many serious issues facing Indigenous
peoples in Canada, Anaya acknowledged that various measures have been
put in place to address these issues, but then politely stated that
these were woefully inadequate and regarded with great misgivings by
Indigenous peoples themselves. Following
some opening remarks, Anaya stated:
"From all I have learned, I can only conclude that
Canada faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous
peoples of the country. The well-being gap between aboriginal and
non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several
years, treaty and aboriginal claims remain persistently
unresolved, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust
among aboriginal peoples toward government at both the federal and
"Canada consistently ranks near the top among countries
with respect to human development standards, and yet amidst this wealth
and prosperity, aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in
countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds. At least
one in five aboriginal Canadians live in
homes in need of serious repair, which are often also overcrowded and
contaminated with mould. The suicide rate among Inuit and First Nations
youth on reserve, at more than five times greater than other Canadians,
is alarming. One community I visited has suffered a suicide every six
weeks since the start of this
year. Aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than
non-indigenous women and indigenous peoples face disproportionately
high incarceration rates. For over a decade, the Auditor General has
repeatedly highlighted significant funding disparities between
on-reserve services and those available
to other Canadians. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has
consistently said that the conditions of aboriginal peoples make for
the most serious human rights problem in Canada."
He went on to say that the programs meant to address
these problems are ultimately "insufficient, and have yet to fully
respond to aboriginal peoples' urgent needs, fully protect their
aboriginal and treaty rights, or to secure relationships based on
mutual trust and common purpose. Aboriginal peoples' concerns
and well-being merit higher priority at all levels and within all
branches of Government, and across all departments. Concerted measures,
based on mutual understanding and real partnership with aboriginal
peoples, through their own representative institutions, are vital to
the long-term resolution of these issues."
Profound Damage from Residential Schools
Anaya addressed the 2008 federal government apology for
residential schools and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission which is documenting "the horrifying stories of abuse and
cultural dislocation of indigenous students who were
forced from their homes into schools whose explicit purpose was to
destroy their family and community bonds, their language, their
culture, and their dignity, and from which thousands never returned."
Because of the profound damage caused by residential schools, Anaya
urged the government "to ensure that the
mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission be extended for as
long as may be necessary for it to complete its work, and to consider
establishing means of reconciliation and redress for survivors of all
types of residential schools. In addition, I would like to emphasize
that the mark on Canada's history left
by the residential schools is a matter of concern to all of Canada, not
just aboriginal peoples, and that lasting healing can only truly occur
through building better relationships and understanding between
aboriginal peoples and the broader society."
Need for National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered
The UN Special Rapporteur also addressed the issue of
missing and murdered Aboriginal women. He stated that during his visit
to Canada, "I have heard from aboriginal peoples a widespread lack of
confidence in the effectiveness
of those measures. I have heard a consistent call for a national level
inquiry into the extent of the problem and appropriate solutions moving
forward with the participation of victims' families and others deeply
affected. I concur that a comprehensive and nation-wide inquiry into
the issue could help ensure a coordinated
response and the opportunity for the loved ones of victims to be heard,
and would demonstrate a responsiveness to the concerns raised by the
families and communities affected by this epidemic."
Problematic First Nations Education Act
The Harper government has indicated that it will draft
legislation called the First Nations Education Act. According
to the Harper government's website for its "Economic Action Plan," this
legislation would "establish the structures and standards
necessary to ensure stronger, more accountable education systems on
reserve. The Government also committed to exploring mechanisms to
ensure stable, predictable and sustainable funding for First Nations
elementary and secondary education." Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada informs that it
held consultations on a proposed framework for this legislation from
December 2012 to May 2013, which the government cites as having First
Nations' approval. However, many Aboriginal leaders including the
Assembly of First Nations do not approve of the Act and point out that
proposed legislation would infringe Aboriginal sovereignty by allowing
large education authorities to dictate the curriculum
and use of funds.
Anaya addressed the Act during his statement,
saying "I have heard remarkably consistent and profound distrust toward
the First Nations Education Act being developed by the
federal government, and in particular deep concerns that the process
for developing the Act has not appropriately
included nor responded to aboriginal views. In light of this, I urge
the Government not to rush forward with this legislation, but to
re-initiate discussions with aboriginal leaders to develop a process,
and ultimately a bill, that addresses aboriginal concerns and
incorporates aboriginal viewpoints on this fundamental
issue. An equally important measure for improving educational outcomes,
and one that could be implemented relatively quickly, is to ensure that
funding delivered to aboriginal authorities for education per student
is at least equivalent to that available in the provincial educational
The October 16 Throne Speech indicated that the Harper
government "will continue working with First Nations to develop
stronger, more effective, and more accountable on-reserve education
systems." However, First Nations across Canada continue to express
serious concerns about the proposed legislation.
"Despite our best efforts to engage this government in
meaningful consultations, they still refuse to acknowledge the rising
discontent among First Nations regarding plans to have Ottawa infringe
on our education rights," said Tyrone McNeil, President of First
Nations Education Steering Committee in response to the Throne Speech.
"We remain committed to working in partnership with the Government of
Canada, but we cannot sit back and have legislation forced on us that
does not allow us to control the education of our children."
Anaya pointed out that the question of housing is
fundamental when one talks about education, and many other issues. He
said, "As was stressed to me throughout my visit, it will be difficult
to improve educational outcomes without addressing the substandard
in which many aboriginal people live. Young people described to me the
difficulty they have studying in small homes overcrowded by generations
of family members. Other social problems have also been linked to these
overcrowded conditions, including high rates of tuberculosis and other
health problems, family
violence, unemployment, and unwanted displacement to urban centres.
Overcrowding of homes leads to increased wear and tear and the
premature deterioration of existing housing stock, resulting in
dilapidated and often unsafe housing conditions.
"It is abundantly clear that funding for aboriginal
housing is woefully inadequate. The housing problem has a significant
economic and social impact; the Chief of one community I visited
indicated that if adequate housing were available, the vast majority of
his community's members with university degrees --
nurses, teachers, engineers -- would choose to return home. A woman
from the same community who more typically had not had the opportunity
to attend university, told me that as she became an adult she had no
chance of having a house of her own, but rather was forced to remain in
her parents home for years
to come, with few prospects for developing a life on her own. 'It is as
if I'm not a person', she said. I urge the Government to treat the
housing situation on First Nations reserves and Inuit communities with
the urgency it deserves. It simply cannot be acceptable that these
conditions persist in the midst of a country
with such great wealth."
Anaya emphasized that "increased investment in building
self-governing capacity is essential to creating socially and
economically healthy and self-sufficient aboriginal communities. One
hundred and thirty years of Indian
Act policies persistently undermined
-- and in some cases
continue to undermine -- many First Nations' and Inuit peoples'
historic self-governance capacity."
Anaya noted "the frustration expressed to me uniformly
by aboriginal leaders that their self-governance capacity and economic
development, and improved conditions more generally, remain impeded by
the multiple legacies of the history of colonization, treaty
infringements, assault on their cultures, and land
dispossession suffered by their peoples."
Anaya criticized the pace at which land claims are
resolved, saying that "in their implementation overall, the claims
processes have been extremely slow and mired in challenges --
challenges that appear in most cases to stem from the adversarial
structure of negotiations, in which entrenched
opposing positions often develop on key issues and agreement simply
cannot be reached. To make this worse, resource development often
proceeds at a rapid pace within lands that are the subject of
protracted negotiations between aboriginal peoples and the Government,
undermining the very purpose of the
Anaya called on the federal government "to take a less
adversarial, position-based approach in which it typically seeks the
most restrictive interpretation of aboriginal and treaty rights
possible. In this regard, the Government should instead acknowledge
that the public interest is not opposed to, but rather includes,
aboriginal concerns. The goal of reconciliation that has been cited by
the Government and indigenous peoples alike requires a more generous
and flexible approach that seeks to identify and create common ground.
Further, as a general rule, resource extraction should not occur on
lands subject to aboriginal claims
without adequate consultations with and the free, prior and informed
consent of the aboriginal peoples concerned."
Relations with Governments
Anaya pointed out that "greater efforts are needed to
improve avenues of communication between Canada and aboriginal peoples
to build consensus on the path forward. In all my meetings with
aboriginal leaders and community members it was evident that there is a
significant level of discontent with the state of relations with
federal and provincial authorities, as well as a widely held perception
that legislative and other decisions over multiple matters of concern
to them are being taken without adequate consultation or consideration
of their inherent and treaty rights. I urge the
federal Government especially to work with aboriginal peoples, through
their representative institutions and authorities, to overcome this
condition of mistrust. As with the Education Act initiative
mentioned earlier, unless legislative and other government actions that
directly affect indigenous peoples'
rights and interests are made with their meaningful participation,
those actions will lack legitimacy and are likely to be ineffective.
"In order for the Government to move forward to address
the concerns of indigenous peoples in partnership with them, it is
necessary to arrive at a common understanding of objectives and goals
that are based on full respect for indigenous peoples' constitutional,
treaty, and internationally-recognized rights. Indigenous
leaders from First Nations with historical treaties repeatedly
expressed to me their yearning for the friendship, respect and sharing
of resources that they understand the treaties to embody, and
aboriginal leaders look to future arrangements based on similar
premises. Such aspirations provide a much stronger grounding
for a Canada respectful of human rights than a premise of indigenous
subjugation and extinguishment of rights."
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