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Spirit of the Land: Sylvia McAdam's PowerPoint shown at Elements of Justice


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Sylvia presents the long history of First Nations resistance to the encroachment upon their lands, and their insistence on respect for their land rights, from sea to sea, and from Ipperwash to Idle No …

Sylvia presents the long history of First Nations resistance to the encroachment upon their lands, and their insistence on respect for their land rights, from sea to sea, and from Ipperwash to Idle No More.

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  • 1. “Spirit of the Land”
  • 2. Significant Time lines • 1500’s – 1800 – Indigenous laws • • • • Ohcinewin Ohcinemowin Okicitaw iskwewak – lawkeepers Sacred sites – graves, rock markings
  • 3. 1810 - 1876 • Military Indian Policy • British North America (BNA) Act – lands reserved for Indians • Treaty 6 – family of 5 (more or less) – Mapping of Treaty 6 • Indian Act – became wards – residential schools, disconnection to lands begins.
  • 4. Instead of honouring the Treaties of peace and friendship it made with Indigenous Peoples, Canada made the Indian Act in 1876.
  • 5. By 1927, the Indian Act described over 200 crimes which could only be committed by an “Indian.” These included: • holding a potlatch – one of the primary instruments of government • hiring a lawyer to pursue land rights • keeping a child home from Indian Residential School • traveling without permission of an Indian Agent
  • 6. 1885 – 1950’s • NorthWest Rebellion – Pass system – Our reserved lands became our prisons – Big River Reserved lands #118
  • 7. Since the Indian Act was amended to repeal the prohibition on hiring a lawyer, in 1958, there have been hundreds – if not thousands – of court cases where Indigenous Peoples have sued, and been sued, for the lawful exercise of their land rights. Below, demonstrating against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Unistoten camp, Wet’suwet’n territory, 2010
  • 8. Sea-to-Sea Protest Indigenous peoples have resisted Canada’s control of their lands, women, children, governance, and cultural expression since the 18th century.
  • 9. In the last two decades, Canada has been the object of hundreds of roadblocks, sit-ins, train blockades, occupations and even armed confrontations on traditional Indigenous lands. Above – the Oka crisis, 1990
  • 10. Mohawk In 1990, the Mohawk community of Kahnewake blocked highways, roads and bridges to halt development of a golf course on their burial grounds. Securité Québec was joined by the Canadian army. Indigenous Peoples across Canada set up demonstrations of support and solidarity. No golf course was built.
  • 11. One of the supporting blockades was at Líl’wat, in British Columbia. The people were also blockading development of their smallpox burial grounds. Representatives from every Líl’wat family were arrested for blocking the highway which runs through the center of their Indian Reserve. Líl’wat
  • 12. Secwepemc In 1995, 17 Sundancers in Secwepemc fenced in their sacred arbor against cows. The ensuing conflict involved 400 RCMP, 6 APCs, and 77,000 rounds of ammunition fired on the camp. Above, OJ Pitawanakwat and Wolverine at Gustafsen Lake.
  • 13. Gustafsen Lake, 1995 Left, cops enforce a perimeter. Below, this red truck was blown up by a C-4 land mine just after the photo.
  • 14. Ipperwash, Stoney Point Chippewa,1995 The people protested over access to the lake shore of Ipperwash Provincial Park, cut into their Reserve lands. They occupied the park, the Ontario government panicked, and Dudley George, left, was shot to death.
  • 15. Nuxalk All the Nuxalk hereditary chiefs stood together to protect their most sacred island from logging. In 1997, they did it again. In 1995, they blocked the road and were all arrested and charged for disobeying a court injunction to leave the road.
  • 16. Grassy Narrows The people of Grassy Narrows have been protesting, blocking roads and launching court actions since the 1980’s to stop logging on their treaty lands. Logging continues as they protest and argue in court.
  • 17. Grassy Narrows
  • 18. Lubicon Cree The people say they may not be able to practice their way of life for a long time to come, as it has been polluted, made desert, and criss-crossed with roads and pipeline. Right, Edward and Josephine Laboucan
  • 19. Lubicon Cree Lands Over $14 billion worth of oil has been extracted from Lubicon territory over the past two decades. The Lubicon people cannot stop it, nor get a fair share of the profit, nor compensation for their lands. This in spite of extensive protests and legal action.
  • 20. Burnt Church, Mi’kmaq Decades of conflict over fisheries, including lobster fisheries, brought the Burnt Church First Nation to defy federal fishing closures in the Fall of 2000 and in 2001. The Supreme Court of Canada had recognized their treaty rights in 1999, but the decision did not affect their access to the fisheries.
  • 21. Walk for Justice Families and friends have been advocating for justice: proper investigations and an inquiry into the whole situation. Rallies and marches are held in the major cities, marches for justice have crossed the country several times, and a judicial inquiry specific to Vancouver took place last year. Indigenous women represent an alarming majority in cases of unsolved disappearances and murders. Thousands of women have gone missing while traveling Highway 16, from Prince Rupert on the west coast of BC to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • 22. Athabaskan and Mikisew Cree The Athabaskan of Fort Chipewyan and the Mikisew Cree of the same Tribal Council, and Treaty 8, have beautiful lands rich in wildlife, birds and fish, which have sustained them for thousands of years.
  • 23. Alberta Tar Sands In these Athabaskan and Cree territories the tar sands development takes place. The Alberta Tar Sands are the single largest producer of carbon emissions in the world.
  • 24. Treaty 8 The Alberta Tar Sands are in the midst of Treaty 8, where Canada says they can use the land as they please and they have bought it from the indigenous, and it is such an important economic driver that it outweighs the infringement of aboriginal rights. Above, a fish caught downstream in the Mackenzie River.
  • 25. Delgamuukw, 1997 • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that aboriginal title exists in the province of British Columbia, where there were almost no historic treaties. • Unfortunately, this ruling does not affect Canada or the province’s strategies to extinguish the aboriginal title by coercion, corruption and forced capitulation.
  • 26. In 2003, the Nuxalk people stood again to bar access to industrial salmon feedlots in their territory. Again they were criminalized.
  • 27. Skwelkwek'welt, Secwepemc • In 2004, people built winter lodges and camps in the way of ski resort expansion, at Sun Peaks in BC. • The lodges were bulldozed and expansion went on in spite of protest, blockades and legal action. • The 1862 map of the Secwepemc Indian Reserve includes the ski resort area.
  • 28. Sign posted by BC government at Skwelkwek'welt, 2004.
  • 29. Caledonia The Haldimand Tract Toronto The Mohawk people of what is now called Caledonia, Ontario, were promised this land in perpetuity in recognition of their allegiance with England during the American War of Independence, the American Revolution. Canada now says it cannot honour this compact because it failed to purchase the land from the Mississauga people, the original owners. This does not stop Canada or the province of Ontario from selling off the land to developers and non-native people. It does not make Canada settle with the Mississaugas either…
  • 30. Sterling Street Bridge, Haldimand Tract The Sterling Street bridge, within the Haldimand Tract, was burned during attempts to reclaim the land from Canada, in 2006. Non-native businesses were awarded $20 million in 2010, after they brought a class action suit against government for damages incurred during the conflict. The indigenous have neither received their promised lands nor compensation or reparation.
  • 31. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug In 2008, six KI leaders were imprisoned for rejected the unequal opportunity to “consult” with Platinex over mining plans. They were imprisoned for two months, and released. A cash settlement has kept Platinex out of KI territory for the meantime.
  • 32. Repatriation of Constitution
  • 33. The Rocky Mountains The Canadian economy has been underwritten by resource industries operating on unceded indigenous lands for over 200 years. Many of the logging clearcuts are so extensive they can be seen from space, as can the tar sands.
  • 34. There are 4,464 toxic sites in treaty territories of Indigenous Peoples – an average of 1.5 toxic site per Reserve, or 7 toxic sites per First Nation.
  • 35. Typical Canadian view:
  • 36. Bill C-45 Canada has created a suite of legislation that may entrap impoverished indigenous communities. It is yet another attempt to get Indigenous agreement to Canadian control; agreement to release self-determination and accept municipal status. Above: “Treaties Are Between The Crown and Indigenous Nations”
  • 37. INM Original Organizers These women called attention to Canada’s plan to extinguish the Treaties unilaterally, and held teach-ins about Bill C-45. There has since been many organizers. L-R: Sheelah McLean, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam & Jess Gordon Alex Wilson, Erica Lee, Janice Makokis Shannon Houle, Dion Tootoosis, Tori Cress, Angela Bercier, & many others.
  • 38. Idle No More.
  • 39. in Montreal…
  • 40. in Edmonton…
  • 41. in Toronto…
  • 42. in Whistler…
  • 43. from James Bay to Ottawa…
  • 44. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation went on a six-week hunger strike, starting in December of 2012, to demand Canada's attention. While her community in the north has many homeless and poor, deBeers mining company has extracted billions in diamonds from their lands.
  • 45. in Cape Breton…
  • 46. in Windsor, Ontario…
  • 47. in Vancouver and Victoria…
  • 48. from Beardy's & Okemasis First Nations to Saskatoon…
  • 49. on the CN Rail line at Portage LaPrairie…
  • 50. in Ottawa…
  • 51. in Winnipeg…
  • 52. in Lethbridge, Alberta…
  • 53. in Kitchener, Ontario…
  • 54. in Sarnia, Ontario…
  • 55. Young People stood up 11/19/13 CFAR Conference 2013
  • 56. in Haisla, north west coast…
  • 57. …coast to coast to coast…
  • 58. International
  • 59. … across the Americas…
  • 60. …overseas…
  • 61. …and by twitter…
  • 62. The Voice of Idle No More • • • • • • Creative Prayerful Music (drums, songs, dance, poetry) Art Media Ceremonial (Indigenous lodges)
  • 63. Treaties guide the IndigenousCrown Relationship
  • 64. Language Culture Land Territory People Education Health Housing Ability to make agreements •Royal proclamation of 1763, says no entrance into indigenous territory with out a treaty. •Created Canada in 1867, Canada never made treaties. •British North America Act created provinces.
  • 65. Indigenous Understanding of Treaties and The Treaty Relationship • Prior to repatriation of the Constitution Act in 1982, Lord Denning wrote on Jan 28, 1982: – “There is nothing, so far as I can see, to warrant any distrust by the Indians of the Government of Canada. But, in case there should be, the discussion in this case will be to strengthen their hand so as to enable them to withstand any onslaught. They will be able to say that their rights and freedoms have been guaranteed to them by the Crown, originally by the Crown in respect of the United Kingdom, now by the Crown in respect of Canada, but, in any case, by the Crown. No Parliament shall do anything to lesson the worth of these agreements. They should be honoured by the Crown in respect of Canada “as long as the sun rises and rivers flow. The promise must never be broken”. – No Parliament or legislature can change the Treaties • Source: Queen v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs, ex parte: The Indian Association of Alberta, Union of New Brunswick Indians, Union of Nova Scotia Indians [1981] 4. C.N.L.R. 86
  • 66. Martinez Report (1997) 114. Whatever the reasoning followed, the dominant viewpoint --as reflected, in general, in the specialized literature and in State administrative decisions and the decisions of the domestic courts-- asserts that treaties involving Indigenous peoples are basically a domestic issue, to be construed, eventually implemented, and adjudicated via existing internal mechanisms, such as the courts and federal (and even local) authorities. 115. It is worth underlining, however, that this position is not shared by Indigenous parties to treaties, whose own traditions on treaty provisions and treatymaking (or negotiating other kinds of compacts) continue to uphold the international standing of such instruments. Indeed, for many Indigenous peoples, treaties concluded with European powers or their territorial successors overseas are, above all, treaties of peace and friendship, destined to organize coexistence in --not their exclusion from-- the same territory and not to restrictively regulate their lives (within or without this same territory), under the overall jurisdiction of non-indigenous authorities. In their view, this would be a trampling on their right to self-determination and/or their other unrelinquished rights as peoples. Source:
  • 67. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Adopted by the GA in September 2007 (by a majority of 144 states; 4 states opposed: Canada, US, AUS, NZ) Canada eventually adopted the UNDRIP in March 2010 Source:
  • 68. UNDRIP Cont Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. 11/19/13 CFAR Conference 2013
  • 69. UNDRIP Cont Article 32 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact. 11/19/13 CFAR Conference 2013
  • 70. Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) The underlying principles of free, prior and informed consent can be summarized as follows: (i) information about and consultation on any proposed initiative and its likely impacts; (ii) meaningful participation of indigenous peoples; and, (iii) representative institutions. Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Intn’lWorkshop of Methodologies Regarding FPIC
  • 71. What are Human Rights? • • Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law , general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
  • 72. Reflections • When we speak of Human Rights, when is the right time to defend them? – When there is “visible death?” – “visible violations?” – Does it have to happen in other countries?
  • 73. Hidden from History • Sugar Beet Policy “The Grab-a-Hoe Indians” • Indian Agent • Ceremonies – “niciwamnanahk”
  • 74. Sacred Sites
  • 75. Bill c45 is NOT the only Bill • There are 8 Bills & 1 Act going through: • TO DATE Almost all the bills have passed already; C-45: Omnibus Bill: Passed last December C:2 Family Homes on Reserves: Passed this past Winter/Spring S-8: ...Water Passed not long after C-2 C-27: Passed this past Fall of Winter ------------------Education Act - getting VERY close Elections Act - getting close S-212 - this is the BIG one, surrender of sovereignty, this is on deck. First Nations Self Government Recognition Bill. This bill is similar to the 1887 Dawes Act from the United States which divide up land into private property.
  • 76. Logging & “Development” on Traditional Lands: We did not “Cede or Surrender”. 11/19/13 2013
  • 77. Erasure of Indigenous History • Group of 7 – Canadian artists • Throne speech Oct. 16 • Treaties are not historic, they are international documents • Not honoring Treaties even as Canadian law affirms this.
  • 78. PM Throne Speech • On Oct 16th, PM Harper said: “They were undaunted, they dared to seize the moment that history offered. Pioneers then few in number reached across a vast continent, they forged an independent country where none would have existed”
  • 79. Group of 7 – Famous “Canadian” Artists
  • 80. Moving Forward • 3 Elements to Nationhood: land, language, and culture • Honor the Treaties, Honor Indigenous sovereignty – self determination. • Decolonization, anti-racist, anti-oppressive education • Allies: how can we support you? • Re-storying Turtle Island; removing the veil of ‘innocence’
  • 81. Dr. David Suzuki
  • 82. A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons. Source: Cheyenne Proverb 11/19/13 CFAR Conference 2013
  • 83. Idle No More Calls For a Day of Action *Royal Proclamation *UN James Anaya *INM will be a year old For More Information: 11/19/13
  • 84. How can you support INM? • • • • • • • Do not be silent, find your voice. Write letters to MLA’s, MP’s VOTE but hear your leadership Alternative energy Join INM rallies or other events Be prayerful and peaceful
  • 85. We defend for ALL
  • 86. Thank you Questions & Comments