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Posts Tagged ‘First Nations’

Featured Multimedia Projects

Indigenous Resistance to the Mining Industry
I just put together this video for a presentation at OCIC’s AGM. This is a compilation of the various projects I have been working on for the past six years. Featuring the voices and experiences of over a dozen affected Indigenous communities, from five continents, who are in the process of resisting Canadian mining projects.

Remember the Land
for Kairos Canada

Remember the Land: Global Ecumenical Voices on Mining from KAIROS Canada on Vimeo.

We Love Our Land
Neskantaga First Nation
Ontario, Canada

Someone Else’s Treasure
Kisluyan, Mindoro
the Philippines

Kanawayandan D’aaki – Protecting Our Land
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation
Ontario, Canada

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Someone Else’s Treasure
San Miguel Ixtahuacan
San Marcos, Guatemala

Redd Road: Indigenous Resistance to False Solutions
for the Indigenous Environmental Network at the UN Climate Change Conference


Grassy Narrows Marches for Clean Water and Justice

Members of Grassy Narrows led by Chief Simon Fobister (holding flag) march through the streets of Toronto

Toronto 8/6/12 – Grassy Narrows people, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, deployed 15,000 square feet of blue fabric in the streets of Toronto to create a wild river flowing to Queen’s Park, where they will demand long overdue justice for their people and protection for the waters and forests on which they depend. Fifty years after Ontario began allowing 10 tonnes of toxic mercury to be dumped into Grassy Narrows’ river, the McGuinty Government still refuses to acknowledge even one case of methyl mercury poisoning, known as Minamata Disease. A newly translated report by renowned Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada, released on Monday, found that “[i]t is an undoubtable fact that Minamata disease occurred in [Grassy Narrows and Whitedog], based on our long-term investigation result.”

“Our people are still suffering from this poison in the water, but most receive no support from the government,” said Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister, “all people diagnosed by the Japanese experts must be fully compensated, and the government must respect our decisions on our territory so that we can recover from the devastating impacts of mercury pollution on our health, our culture, and our livelihood.”

“The government and industry take away our forests and give us back disease and sickness and death,” said Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows mother. “If McGuinty stood in our shoes he would understand why we say ‘no’ to the pollution and industrial logging of our homeland.”

Grassy Narrows, and their supporters, are demanding from government:

RESPONSIBILITY: Acknowledge mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows, apologize, and accept responsibility to fix what was broken.
SAFETY: Fund a permanent Grassy Narrows run environmental health monitoring center. Strengthen the Health Canada mercury safety guideline to protect all people.
COMPENSATION: Compensate all people diagnosed by the Japanese doctors, and retroactively index the compensation to inflation.
RESTORATION: Clean and restore the English-Wabigoon river system. Stop the mills from polluting the water and air.
JUSTICE: Restore Grassy Narrows control over Grassy Narrows Territory. End destructive industrial logging on Grassy Narrows Territory.

For more information go to: FreeGrassy.org

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Neskantaga First Nation: We Love Our Land

No Trespassing

I’ve just started a new project working with the Neskantaga First Nation (pronounced Nish-kahn-tga). Formerly known as Lansdown House Indian Band, Neskanta FN is a remote Oji-Cree community in northern Ontario at the headwaters of the Attawapiskat River. The community is deeply worried about how their traditional way of life will be impacted by the nearby Ring of Fire mining projects.

Much more to come over the next few months, but for now here are a few photos from Neskantaga to introduce some of the people of the community.

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PDAC Protests

Steven Chapman from KI. "Protect KI Sacred Lands"

06.03.2012 – A large and diverse group of over a hundred people gathered outside the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) Convention today.

Leading the protests was a group of community representatives from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation. KI Councilors are rallying with hundreds of supporters while members of the remote Indigenous Nation mobilize on the ground to prevent mining exploration company Gods Lake Resources (GLR) from desecrating sacred burials on KI Homeland.

“We are mobilized to go to Sherman Lake to protect our land. I cannot allow our graves to be desecrated by a company that is hiring private security to trespass on our Homeland by force. That is no way to do business,” said Chief Morris.

On Sunday the Ontario government unilaterally withdrew 23,181 sq km of land in KI Homeland from mining exploration in response to KI’s longstanding decision to place a full moratorium on industry in KI’s Indigenous Homeland. However, the claims and leases at the heart of KI’s conflict with GLR are unaffected by ON’s move and the dispute over protection of burial sites and sacred landscape remains unresolved.

The MNDM has indicated that GLR intends to access the site this month, and refuses to answer whether GLR is on the land today. KI Chief Morris said in a Feb. 16 youtube video that his community was mobilizing and he feared that the situation would escalate. In a March 1 news release GLR indicated that they are looking to hire private security for their drill program – a potentially explosive move. A KI team is traveling to the Sherman Lake site today to conduct reconnaissance.

Kanawayandan D’aaki – Protecting Our Land

Below is a short video I made recently in collaboration with KI’s Lands and Environment Unit:

The PDAC protest also featured fashionistas from the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) who gathered to denounce and ridicule the Canadian mining sector outside of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention today. Walking down an impromptu catwalk in front of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the protestors showcased “mining company must-haves” like a PR filter for everyday green-washing, cute pandas for controversial pipelines, and a 77 million dollar pacifier for Pacific Rim. The outfits satirized the superficial public relations stunts of the mining industry at home and abroad, while bringing attention to the community rights and basic human rights that are violated by these same companies.

This week, PDAC has been the target for many concerned groups including the Congolese-Canadians, the Ngapuhi Indigenous community from New Zealand, as well as KI. MISN supports communities directly impacted by Canada’s mining industry. “It’s time for Canadian legislation with teeth to hold Canadian corporations accountable locally and abroad and bring an end to weak voluntary regulation,” said Flynn, a member of Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.

Speeches from the protest (Unedited) Part 1/2
Speakers: Cecelia Begg – KI Councilor; Syed Hussan – Toronto KI Solidarity Group; Randy Nanokeesic – KI Counsilor; Syd Ryan – Ontario Federation of Labour;

Speeches from the protest (Unedited) Part 2/2
Speakers: Maryam Adrangi – Council of Canadians; Ramsey Hart – MiningWatch Canada; Steven Chapman – KI Lands & Environment Unit; Syed Hussan – Toronto KI Solidarity Group; Bob Lovelace – retired co-Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin; Richard Anderson – KI Lands & Environment Unit

Flashmob

Please contact me for high res images, audio, and video at:
allan@lissner.net

For more information on KI, please contact:
David Sone: 647-386-1481
KIFNmedia@gmail.com
KILands.org

For more information on MISN, please contact:
Susana Caxaj: 416-839-8467
solidarityresponse.net

Photos from today:
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Sacred Fire for South March Highlands

Sacred Fire Burning at Queens Park for the South March Highlands.

SACRED FIRE BURNING AT QUEEN’S PARK FOR OTTAWA’S SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS

(Toronto) Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, Algonquin Firekeeper, kept a Sacred Fire burning at Queen’s Park from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th February urging the province to halt tree-clearing and to promote understanding about Ottawa’s most important ecological and cultural heritage areas.

The South March Highlands are one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada, with more than 675 different species of life, including 240 species of wildlife and over 134 different types of nesting birds.

For the past year local citizens, environmentalists and First Nations groups representing over 14,000 people have mounted a vigorous campaign to save undeveloped lands in the 10,000-year-old, ecologically unique, South March Highlands. In the 1970s it was protected as a Natural Environmental Area but urban development has steadily eroded it until less than 1/3rd remains protected. Citizens have actively opposed development since 1981 because the South March Highlands is an old-growth forest having the densest bio-diversity in Ottawa and provides critical habitat for 20 species-at-risk.

In the latest assault on the forest, KNL Developments recently began clear-cutting trees for a subdivision in an area known locally as the Beaver Pond Forest, even though development depends on planned water diversions without Environmental Assessment and a questionable archaeological study.

On Wednesday, Daniel Amikwabe Bernard together with Danny Beaton, of the Mohawk Turtle Clan, started the Sacred Fire to burn as a beacon of hope within the provincial capital to promote understanding and to request support from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, to issue a Ministerial Order to halt the clear-cutting, in light of the two independent archaeological reviews, and the discovery of potentially significant sites since the 2004 MTC approval.

In an unprecedented recognition of aboriginal religious practices by the Provincial Legislature, permission was granted to keep the Sacred Fire burning day and night. The Sacred Fire is an altar for prayer and visitors were invited to approach respectfully and spend time with the Firekeeper to learn more about the South March Highlands and to discuss our relationship with Mother Earth.

On Sunday, February 13th, the Sacred Fire went out at mid-day. A crowd of about a hundred people came out to the closing ceremonies to show their support.

[A note about these photos: traditional Algonquin teachings consider it deeply offensive to photograph the sacred fire itself. These photos were taken with the express permission of the fire-keeper and are intended to draw attention to the urgency of the situation in the South March Highlands.]

(Click on thumbnails for larger view)

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Background Info:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
Letters of Support (e.g. First Nations leaders, Grandfather William Commanda, David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor,
MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/
Dr. McGhee’s comments on the Archaeological Study http://www.renaud.ca/public/Archaeology/2010-08-06-
Archaeological%20Assessment%20of%20KNL%20Study.pdf
www.union-Algonquin-union.com
www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the Stewardship Plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the Coalition to Protect the SMH)


Sacred Fire Burning at Queens Park for Ottawa’s South March Highlands

Sacred Fire Burning at Queens Park

February 8, 2011

SACRED FIRE BURNING AT QUEEN’S PARK FOR OTTAWA’S SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS

(Toronto) Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, Algonquin Firekeeper, is keeping a Sacred Fire burning at Queen’s Park from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th February to urge the province to halt tree-clearing and to promote understanding about Ottawa’s most important ecological and cultural heritage areas.

The South March Highlands are one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada, with more than 675 different species of life, including 240 species of wildlife and over 134 different types of nesting birds.

For the past year local citizens, environmentalists and First Nations groups representing over 14,000 people have mounted a vigorous campaign to save undeveloped lands in the 10,000-year-old, ecologically unique, South March Highlands. In the 1970s it was protected as a Natural Environmental Area but urban development has steadily eroded it until less than 1/3rd remains protected. Citizens have actively opposed development since 1981 because the South March Highlands is an old-growth forest having the densest bio-diversity in Ottawa and provides critical habitat for 20 species-at-risk.

In the latest assault on the forest, KNL Developments recently began clear-cutting trees for a subdivision in an area known locally as the Beaver Pond Forest, even though development depends on planned water diversions without Environmental Assessment and a questionable archaeological study.

Starting Wednesday, a Sacred Fire will burn as a beacon of hope within the provincial capital to promote understanding and to request support from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, to issue a Ministerial Order to halt the clear-cutting, in light of the two independent archaeological reviews, and the discovery of potentially significant sites since the 2004 MTC approval.

In an unprecedented recognition of aboriginal religious practices by the Provincial Legislature, permission has been granted to keep the Sacred Fire burning day and night. The Sacred Fire is an altar for prayer and visitors are invited to approach respectfully and spend time with the Firekeeper to learn more about the South March Highlands and to discuss our relationship with Mother Earth.

On Sunday, February 13th, the Sacred Fire will go out at mid-day. There will be Closing ceremonies, with drumming, prayers, and singing, a message from Grandfather William Commanda, and from other First
Nations elders and chiefs. Everyone is invited to join with us regardless of religion, race, or culture.

Background Info:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
Letters of Support (e.g. First Nations leaders, Grandfather William Commanda, David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor,
MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/
Dr. McGhee’s comments on the Archaeological Study http://www.renaud.ca/public/Archaeology/2010-08-06-
Archaeological%20Assessment%20of%20KNL%20Study.pdf
www.union-Algonquin-union.com
www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the Stewardship Plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the Coalition to Protect the SMH)


Redd Road Cancun: Indigenous Resistance to False Solutions

Redd Road Cancun

Members of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) explain why they went to Cancun, Mexico, to show their opposition to false solutions being negotiated at the the Conference of the Parties 16 of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. Produced by Praxis Pictures in collaboration with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) to profile IEN’s RED ROAD mission at COP16. IEN is an environmental and economic justice network, based at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Northern Minnesota. Their work focuses on fighting to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from toxic contamination and corporate exploitation.

For more information:

www.ienearth.org

redroadcancun.com


Enbridge Investors Confronted

"Enbridge Invests in Oil Addiction"

"Enbridge Invests in Oil Addiction"

As Enbridge held its investors meeting in First Canadian Place, Environmental Justice Toronto entered the building and released a banner attached to helium balloons that read “Enbridge Invests in Oil Addiction.” The banner was visible through the glass front of the building, where activists held up another banner saying “Community Resistance is the Cure.”

On the outside, activists were chanting and handing out flyers which were made by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, in British Columbia, who are resisting Enbridge’s proposed $5 billion Gateway pipeline project. The Gateway project would move oil from the tar sands in northern Alberta to Kitimat, BC.

Enbridge has a long history of pipeline spills and other accidents, including a 1 million gallon spill of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, one of the largest spills in US history. According to the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council’s flyer, “the Gateway Pipeline risks damage to 785 watercourses, wildlife habitat and fragile salmon fisheries. The project route also crosses the territories of over 20 First Nations in BC.”

The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and other First Nations communities along the route are proposing “a community-lead process based on the minimum international standard of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent as ratified by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People in 2007.”

The Environmental Justice Toronto activists were calling on investors to support these reasonable proposals and demand a full disclosure of environmental and legal risks associated with construction of the Enbridge Gateway pipeline.

(click on thumbnails below to view images of the action, use arrow keys on keyboard to navigate through images)

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Grassy Narrows River Run

Grassy Narrows River Run

Grassy Narrows River Run

April 7, 2010, Toronto – On World Health Day, members of Grassy Narrows First Nation lead a march of over 250 people to the seat of the Provincial Government at Queen’s Park. The Grassy Narrows People have travelled 1,800 km to deliver their demands for restitution for mercury poisoning whose health effects in the community are worse now than when Ontario first banned fishing in their river 40 years ago, according to a newly translated study by Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada. The Provincial government has compounded the impacts of mercury on the community’s health, culture, and economy by permitting decades of unwanted clear-cut logging, and mining activity on their territory.

More info: freegrassy.org


RBC AGM Tar Sands Protest

Over 170 people gathered outside the Royal Bank of Canada’s Annual General Meeting on March 3rd to protest the bank’s leading role in funding the Alberta tar sands.  People concerned with the impact of tar sands projects on First Nations, water quality and the climate came from all over the country to tell RBC to “stop bankrolling the tar sands.”

Shut Down the Tar Sands

Shut Down the Tar Sands

Inside the shareholder meeting, First Nations Chiefs and community representatives from four different Nations demanded RBC phase out of its Tar Sands financing and to recognize the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous communities.

Vice Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council of BC calls o

Vice Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council of BC calls on RBC to recognize the right to free prior and informed consent.

Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation, Vice Chief Terry Teegee or the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation, and Gitz Crazyboy of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation addressed RBC CEO Gordon Nixon directly about the way tar sands extraction projects have jeopardized their health and their rights.

Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation says a prayer to start off the rally.

Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation says a prayer to start off the rally.

“RBC’s significant financial relationship with companies pursuing tar sands development activities within our traditional territory and without consent warrants close attention,” said Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation, “RBC should update their policies to include a recognition of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous communities; this globally recognized concept was adopted by TD Bank Financial Group in 2007 and is endorsed by indigenous communities across the political spectrum.”

After the rally outside the RBC AGM, Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet'suwe'ten First Nation leads the protesters in a march to RBC's headquarters.

After the rally outside the RBC AGM, Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet'suwe'ten First Nation leads the protesters in a march to RBC's headquarters.

“I pleaded with the board of directors,” said Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation about his experience inside the RBC shareholder meeting, “I pleaded with the president, with the CEO and the shareholders to seriously consider looking at exactly what the RBC is doing. And it’s an important message; pay attention to what’s happening with the investments and the lending circles that are created from the RBC – it’s destroying our planet! It’s destroying our planet’s ability to sustain us as human beings. And it will continue to do that. I fear that, if we continue allowing banks like RBC to continue what they’re doing, climate change is going to reach its tipping-point, if it hasn’t already.”

RBC Creates Profit from Climate Chaos

RBC Creates Profit from Climate Chaos

“We completely oppose the entire scope of the whole dig-up project,” said Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation, “we’re not just opposed to the tar sands, we’re opposed to the proposed tanker traffic on the coast, we’re opposed to pipelines, and we’re opposed to the proposed CN transportation of dirty oil from the tar sands to the coast of BC.”

Indigenous Rights Now!

Indigenous Rights Now!

“People in my community are getting sick, people are dying,” said Gitz Crazyboy from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, “we can’t drink the water, we used to about 10-15 years ago right out of the Athabasca River, no body wants to do that anymore … too many people are dying.”

Gitz Crazyboy

Gitz Crazyboy from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation speaks to the crowd

“People in my community are getting pissed off,” continued Gitz Crazyboy, “we’re getting tired, we’re getting angry, we’re losing faith in the world around us. All of you people here have a responsibility as Canadian citizens, as human beings even, to try to help us out, for our voice to be heard, we haven’t been heard in the last 400 years!”

Free Prior and Informed Consent

Free Prior and Informed Consent

According to Bloomberg, since 2007, RBC has backed $16.9 billion in loans to companies operating in the tar sands and has earned more than $132 million in underwriting fees. As a result, RBC has enabled the production of the world’s dirtiest oil.

RBC AGM Protest March

RBC AGM Protest March

Oil extraction from the tar sands generates three times the CO2 emissions as conventionally extracted oil, and will soon make Canada the biggest contributer to global warming.

Indigenous Rights Now!!

Indigenous Rights Now!!

Mining oil from tar sands requires churning up huge tracts of ancient boreal forest and polluting clean water with so much poisonous chemicals that the resulting waste ponds can be seen from outer space.

Vice Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council speaking to the crowd.

Vice Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council speaking to the crowd.

The health impacts to Alberta’s First Nation communities are severe, with cancer rates up in some communities as much as 400 times its usual frequency. In addition, communities living near oil refineries face increased air and water pollution from tar sands oil, which contains 11 times more sulfur and nickel and five times more lead than conventional oil.

Dirty Oil

Dirty Oil

For more information on RBC and the tar sands, visit: Rainforest Action Network Toronto

Video of the protest coming soon…


Canada’s History of Colonialism

I’ve been working on a project for a while now that I haven’t shown anyone just yet because it’s nowhere close to being ready, I haven’t even decided on a title yet. But in light of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent statement at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, claiming that Canada has no history of colonialism, I want to give you a little sneak peak.

I don’t want to say too much about the project just yet since this is still a work in progress, which is why I’m not including any captions but I think the images alone tell a compelling story about Canada’s colonial history.  Many of the following images were taken in museums and historic churches where the displays, paintings, stain-glass windows, etc. all paint an interesting picture of the history of Canada.   These images are shown alongside photos of current events showing how that history continues to resonate with First Nations communities in Canada.

Remnants of an ancient civilization

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Sleep Out in Solidarity at City Hall

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Pride Parade

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Six Nations land reclamation

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Six Nations land reclamation

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Six Nations land reclamation


Tensions on the rise again surrounding Six Nations’ land claim in Caledonia

Tensions are on the rise again surrounding the three-year standoff over a first nations land dispute in Caledonia, Ontario.  Non native residents of Caledonia recently announced the formation of the “Caledonia Militia” in response to the lack of progress in the land dispute with the intent to “follow established procedures on the use of reasonable force to remove illegal trespassers”. The formation of the Caledonia Militia has caused a great deal of concern over the potential for violent escalation in the already tense situation.

As the sun sets over the Six Nations land reclamation site, there is a great deal of uncertainty over how the situation will unfold.

As the sun sets over the Six Nations land reclamation site, the Douglas Creek Estates, there is a great deal of uncertainty over how the situation will unfold.

The Douglas Creek Estates is the strip of land at the centre of this dispute. The land in question looks much like any other suburban construction site being developed across Canada, except that members of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy point out that the land rightfully belongs to them.

One of the unfinished homes that was being built on the Douglas Creek Estates.

One of the unfinished homes that was being built on the Douglas Creek Estates.

This is one of hundreds of indigenous land claims being disputed across Canada.  The Six Nations’ claim to this land dates back to 1784 when the British were fighting the Americans during the War of Independence; The British, who had always dealt with the Six Nations Confederacy on a nation-to-nation basis, asked the Six Nations’ to fight alongside them and offered a large area of land in return.  The 380,000 hectare tract of land promised to them covered an area of six miles on either side of the Grand River. Today, less than five percent of the land promised to them is in their possession, making up what is now the Six Nations Reserve.  The Government of Canada’s official position on the matter is that “the Six Nations validly surrendered all the lands that are not now part of the reserve.”

The women of the Six Nations Confederacy, however, argue that the land in question was never legally surrendered. The Six Nations Confederacy has been called the oldest surviving participatory democracy on earth, and according to their constitution the women are the ‘Title Holders.’ One of the women active at the blockade describes how decisions are made: “There are fifty chiefs who represent the Confederacy Council and they have a clanmother with each chief. It is the people whose voice the chiefs and clanmothers carry. Any decision regarding land comes first from the women, and then to their clans; and through the process of our council, when all are in agreement, or when consensus has been reached, only then does the decision stand,” she says. “In our history of the Haldimand Tract, this has never been done.”

“The idea that British Colonists or their descendents–like Canadians–were the only people who had ‘law’ is a legal fiction,” says Kahentinetha Horn, a Mohawk elder from Kahnawake. Canada “has totally disrespected our laws and agreements to conduct a nation-to-nation relationship.”

women are the title holders

According the the constitution of the Six Nations Confederacy, the women are the legal title holders

The remains of one of the unfinished homes that was torn down by members and supporters of the Six Nations land reclamation.  Other unfinished homes are being used as shelter by those who have been occupying the area for the past year.

The remains of one of the unfinished homes that was torn down by members and supporters of the Six Nations land reclamation. Other unfinished homes are being used as shelter by those who have been occupying the area for the past year.

Construction stopped on February 28, 2006, when members of the Six Nations moved in to block construction on the site and reclaim the land.  They have remained there for over three years now with little progress being made in negotiations with federal and provincial governments.  Both federal and provincial governments have been dodging the issue by claiming that the issue lies in the others’ jurisdiction.  With the government completely avoiding the issue, the racial tensions continue to mount between the native and non-natives in the surrounding area.  Both sides are growing increasingly worried about the potential for violent escalation.

Inside one of the unfinished homes on the Six Nations land reclamation site.  members and supporters of the occupation have been using some of these unfinished homes as shelter, though the unfinished buildings offer little protection from the harsh Canadian winter.

Keeping a watchful eye from inside one of the unfinished homes on the Six Nations land reclamation site, members and supporters of the Six Nations' land claim have been using some of these unfinished homes as shelter for the past three years, though the unfinished buildings offer little protection from the harsh Canadian winter.

"Gator" (not his real name) poses in front of the blockade at the entrance to the Six Nations land reclamation site next to a sign clearly stating the Six Nations' position: "Never to be Sold."

"Gator" (not his real name) poses in front of the blockade at the entrance to the Six Nations land reclamation site next to a sign clearly stating the Six Nations' position: "Never to be Sold."

A makeshift look-out tower can be seen in the distance on the Six Nations land reclamation site.  It was built with contruction material from some of the unfinished buildings that had been torn down.  Hanging from a lamp post in the middleground is the Unity Flag, also known as the Warrior Flag.  The flag was originally created as a symbol of unity among Indigenous peoples.  However, a number of the Clan Mothers at the Six Nations reserve expressed mixed feelings about being associated with the flag.  They support the orignal intended meaning. But they are unhappy with the way the flag has been portrayed in the mainstream Canadian media where it is more commonly associated with violence.

A makeshift look-out tower can be seen in the distance on the Six Nations land reclamation site. It was built with construction material from some of the unfinished buildings that had been torn down. Hanging from a lamp post in the middle ground is the Unity Flag, also known as the Warrior Flag. The flag was originally created as a symbol of unity among Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island. However, a number of the Clan Mothers at the Six Nations reserve expressed mixed feelings about being associated with the flag. They support the original intended meaning. But they are unhappy with the way the flag has been portrayed in the mainstream Canadian media where it is more commonly associated with violence and used to vilify them.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) squad cars on surveilance on the other side of the blockade at the entrance to the Six Nations land reclamation site.  There is a great deal of concern within the Six Nations community that the situation may end in violence.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) squad cars on surveilance on the other side of the blockade at the entrance to the Six Nations land reclamation site. There is a great deal of concern within the Six Nations community that the situation may end in violence. With the formation of the Caledonia Militia - intent on employing "the use of reasonable force to remove illegal trespassers" - the risk of violent escalation increases

The formation of the Caledonia Militia has been met with strong criticism from the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ (CUPE) First Nations Solidarity Working Group, who argue that the formation of the Caledonia Militia “represents a major escalation in regard to the conflict at Six Nations … [increasing] the possibility of violent conflict between natives and non-natives.”  To show their opposition, CUPE’s First Nations Solidarity Group brought busloads of protestors from Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph to gather outside the Lion’s Club in Cayuga, Ontario, where the first meeting of the militia was being held.

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No Militia; Caledonia needs Peace. Protesters bussed in by CUPE's First Nations Solidarity Working Group show their opposition to the formation of the Caledonia Militia.

CUPE’s First Nations Solidarity Group presented five reasons why people should support the Six Nations’ struggle:

1. Because their claim is just and right

Canada has a long and shameful history of mistreating First Nations peoples. Canada has broken treaty after treaty and has refused to fulfill its obligations to First Nations peoples, the Six Nations people included. Despite the fact that the Six Nations people have always been (and remain to this day) a national Confederation with whom the British Crown entered into nation to nation agreements, the Canadian government imposed its own “Indian Act” by force upon them and encouraged the illegal sale and theft of land and revenue belonging to Six Nations. Respect for First Nations land and treaty rights and respect for indegenous sovereignty is a mattter of upholding human rights, international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Colonization and appropriation of other peoples’ resources is morally wrong and must be opposed, even if we or some of our ancestors have benefited from it.

No Militia

No Militia

2. Because the fault lies with the Government, not the people

The government knew that the Douglas Creek Estates lands were contested when it allowed them to be sold. If the government had developed a comprehensive land claims settlement process and had negotiated in good faith with Six Nations from the start, this problem would never have taken the form it has. People from Six Nations occupied the Douglass Creek Estates to stop a housing development from being built on contested land. Now that the situation has been escalated, non natives on and off the Haldimand tract can best resolve this issue by pressuring the Canadian government to establish a fair and comprehensive settlement of all outstanding land claims with Six Nations.

Stop the escalation, end the militia!

Stop the escalation, end the militia!

3. Because this situation will not be resolved by violence

The time when the Canadian government or non-native vigilantes could drive First Nations peoples off their land has passed. Any attempt to use force to resolve the reclamation of Douglas Creek Estates will only make matters far worse and will likely end in bloddshed and serious injury on both sides. As events at Ipperwash and Oka proved, native land rights are political issues that must be solved through dialogue and negotiation. These are political and not “law and order” issues, and the use of force or threat of violence will not resolve them. Might does not make right, and attempts to raise the level of tension through the formation of the so called “Caledonia Militia” will only make the situation worse and increase the likelihood of people being injured or even killed.

Militia=Racist; What's next, KKK?

Militia=Racist; What's next, KKK?

4. Because our lives and futures are tied together

The conflict over the Douglas Creek Estates and the future conflicts brewing over the Haldimand tract stem from the greed of real estate developers who are turning farmlands, animal habitats and countryside into suburban sprawl in order to enrich themselves. This way of life is not sustainable in the long-term and although it makes profits for the bankers, realtors and lawyers it does not benefit rural life or the average people in small towns like Caledonia. As suburban sprawl spreads small businesses are pushed out by the major chains and big box stores, farmers are pushed off the land and our natural environment is degraded. First Nations peoples have a long history of protecting the environment and of respecting nature. A recognition of their rights will ensure that the lands on and around the Haldimand tract are not ecologically devastated by further suburban sprawl or clogged up by excessive road traffic and smog.

Warning: Militias may be harmful to peace and well-being

Warning: Militias may be harmful to peace and well-being

5. Because it is the only way that Caledonia can heal itself

The people of Six Nations and of Caledonia live closely connected lives, sharing schools, workplaces, friendships and families. The tensions caused by this conflict need to be resolved. The people of Six Nations have made clear over and over again that they are not calling for the removal of non-natives from their lands. No non-natives living in Caledonia are at risk of eviction. What Six Nations wants is the compensation they are owed and recognition of their land and treaty rights. It is possible for natives and non-natives to live together in peace and harmony, but in order to have peace there must be justice.

The world doesn't need more armies

The world doesn't need more armies

A gas station in Caledonia, down the street from the Douglass Creek Estates, with separate pumps for native and non-native customers.  Natives do not have to pay taxes, so their prices are lower.  Unfortunately, such visible forms of differentiation only adds fuel to the already volatile racial tensions by setting the groups up as 'the Other.'

A gas station in Caledonia, down the street from the Douglass Creek Estates, with separate pumps for native and non-native customers. Natives do not have to pay taxes, so their prices are lower. Unfortunately, such visible forms of differentiation only adds fuel to the already volatile racial tensions by setting the groups up as 'the Other.'

A sign on the side of a building along the perimeter of the Six Nations land reclamation site for all to see.  The sign draws attention to the injustice in the way the First Nations have been treated.  Over the years, indigenous people have fought bravely, putting their lives on the line, in every war Canada has been involved in.  They have recieved little in return, other than racism and perscution.

A sign on the side of a building along the perimeter of the Six Nations land reclamation site for all to see. The sign draws attention to the injustice in the way the First Nations have been treated. Over the years, indigenous people have fought bravely, putting their lives on the line, in every war Canada has been involved in. They have recieved little in return, other than racism and perscution.

Members and supporters of the Six Nations land reclamation gather around a sacred fire.  As the sun sets over the Six Nations land reclamation site, there is a great deal of uncertainty over how the situation will unfold.  There is a great deal of concern within the Six Nations community that the situation may end in violence.  Many believe that the only reason they haven’t already been forcibly removed is because of the negative impact such a confrontation would have on the upcoming provincial elections.  But after the elections take place, they are concerned that there would be nothing preventing the government from moving in.

Members and supporters of the Six Nations land reclamation gather around a sacred fire. As the sun sets over the Six Nations land reclamation site, there is a great deal of uncertainty over how the situation will unfold. Many fear that the situation may end in violence.

For more information:

Six Nations Reclamation

Home on Native Land

CUPE’s First Nations Solidarity Working Group

wikipedia

More information about the formation of the Caledonia Militia:

http://www.canace.ca/ click on “Race-Based Policing” for background on why some residents of Caledonia feel the need for the Militia

http://www.marchforfreedom.com/smf/index.php?topic=466.0 This is a discussion board where the event was first announced.

http://www.westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2009/06/caledonia-militia-looking-for-a-few-good-men.html This magazine ran a story on the issue. The comments section is quite informative.

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com This is the website of Mark Vandermas

http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/652121 This is a Toronto Star article on the issue. If you look at the comments, you’ll see that almost 90 of the 100 are strongly in support of the forming of the militia.

http://caledoniawakeupcall.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/caledonia-militia-draws-criticism-from-cowards/ This is a blogger in Caledonia.