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.
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.
Instead of honouring the Treaties of peace and
friendship it made with Indigenous Peoples,
Canada made the Indian Act in 1876.
By 1927, the Indian Act described over 200 crimes
which could only be committed by an “Indian.”
• holding a potlatch – one of
the primary instruments of
• hiring a lawyer to pursue
• keeping a child home from
Indian Residential School
• traveling without
permission of an Indian
1885 – 1950’s
• NorthWest Rebellion
– Pass system
– Our reserved lands became our prisons
– Big River Reserved lands #118
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
Indigenous peoples have resisted Canada’s
control of their lands, women, children, governance,
and cultural expression since the 18th century.
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
In 1990, the Mohawk
community of Kahnewake
blocked highways, roads
and bridges to halt
development of a golf
course on their burial
Securité Québec was joined
by the Canadian army.
across Canada set up
support and solidarity.
No golf course was built.
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.
In 1995, 17 Sundancers in Secwepemc fenced in their
sacred arbor against cows.
fired on the
Above, OJ Pitawanakwat and Wolverine at Gustafsen Lake.
Gustafsen Lake, 1995
Left, cops enforce a
Below, this red
truck was blown up
by a C-4 land mine
just after the photo.
Ipperwash, Stoney Point
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
All the Nuxalk
to protect their
In 1997, they did
In 1995, they
blocked the road
and were all
to leave the
The people of
since the 1980’s
to stop logging on
their treaty lands.
as they protest
and argue in
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
Right, Edward and
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.
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
treaty rights in 1999,
but the decision did
not affect their access
to the fisheries.
Families and friends have been advocating for justice:
proper investigations and an inquiry into the whole
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.
in cases of
Highway 16, from
Prince Rupert on
the west coast of
BC to Winnipeg,
The Athabaskan of
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.
In these Athabaskan
and Cree territories
the tar sands
The Alberta Tar Sands
are the single largest
producer of carbon
emissions in the
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.
• 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.
In 2003, the Nuxalk people stood again to bar access to
industrial salmon feedlots in their territory.
Again they were criminalized.
• In 2004, people built
winter lodges and camps
in the way of ski resort
expansion, at Sun Peaks
• The lodges were
bulldozed and expansion
went on in spite of
protest, blockades and
• The 1862 map of the
Reserve includes the ski
Sign posted by BC government at Skwelkwek'welt, 2004.
Caledonia The Haldimand Tract
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
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
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.
$20 million in 2010,
after they brought a
class action suit
for damages incurred
during the conflict.
The indigenous have
neither received their
promised lands nor
In 2008, six KI leaders
were imprisoned for
rejected the unequal
“consult” with Platinex
over mining plans.
They were imprisoned
for two months, and
A cash settlement has
kept Platinex out of KI
territory for the
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.
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.
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”
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
Nina Wilson, Sylvia
McAdam & Jess
Alex Wilson, Erica Lee,
Janice Makokis Shannon
Houle, Dion Tootoosis,
Tori Cress, Angela
Bercier, & many others.
Chief Theresa Spence of the
Attawapiskat First Nation
went on a six-week hunger
strike, starting in
December of 2012, to
While her community in the
north has many homeless
and poor, deBeers mining
company has extracted
billions in diamonds from
The Voice of Idle No More
Music (drums, songs, dance, poetry)
Ceremonial (Indigenous lodges)
Treaties guide the IndigenousCrown Relationship
Ability to make
•Royal proclamation of
1763, says no entrance
into indigenous territory
with out a treaty.
•Created Canada in
1867, Canada never
•British North America
Act created provinces.
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  4. C.N.L.R. 86
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.
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
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
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.
CFAR Conference 2013
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities
and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and
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.
CFAR Conference 2013
Free Prior and Informed
The underlying principles of free, prior and informed
consent can be summarized as follows:
(i) information about and consultation on any
initiative and its likely impacts;
(ii) meaningful participation of indigenous
(iii) representative institutions.
Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Intn’lWorkshop of Methodologies
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
• 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?
Hidden from History
• Sugar Beet Policy
• Indian Agent
• Ceremonies –
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.
Logging & “Development” on
Traditional Lands: We did
not “Cede or Surrender”.
Erasure of Indigenous History
• Group of 7 – Canadian artists
• Throne speech Oct. 16
• Treaties are not historic, they are
• Not honoring Treaties even as
Canadian law affirms this.
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”
• 3 Elements to Nationhood: land,
language, and culture
• Honor the Treaties, Honor Indigenous
sovereignty – self determination.
• Decolonization, anti-racist, anti-oppressive
• Allies: how can we support you?
• Re-storying Turtle Island; removing the
veil of ‘innocence’
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
Source: Cheyenne Proverb
CFAR Conference 2013
Idle No More
Calls For a Day of
*UN James Anaya
*INM will be a year old
How can you support INM?
Do not be silent, find your voice.
Write letters to MLA’s, MP’s
VOTE but hear your leadership
Join INM rallies or other events
Be prayerful and peaceful