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October 21, 2013 - No. 118

All Out to Support the Just Demands
of the Elsipogtog First Nation!
Oppose the Criminalization of
Their Just Demands!
Energy Monopolies Watch Out!

Members of the Elsipogtog First Nation militantly defend their rights and blockade fracking operation
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 Peoples Says
Canada Faces Crisis Situation

All Out to Support the Just Demands
of the Elsipogtog First Nation!
Oppose the Criminalization of Their Just Demands!
Energy Monopolies Watch Out!

Rexton, NB, October 17, 2013

CPC(M-L) vigorously 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 occurred yesterday, 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 the negation 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 well.

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 provided 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 1, 2013.

Defend the Elsipogtog First Nation! No Means No!

(Photos: Idle No More, B. Bazoo, M. Howe)

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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 by law.

As is their right and duty, the Elsipogtog have exercised their right to resist, in defence of their constitutional, treaty and hereditary rights, 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 in court today.

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 Discovery;
- produce the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1686;
- produce Treaty of Fort Howe 1768;
- produce consents for Loyalists to land in Nova Scotia/New Brunswick;
- 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 again 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 near normal. 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 by someone 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 a ten-day 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.

Clearly not.

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 police in 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 off-ramp, an 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 -- lobbed 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 -- appeared to 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 highly escalated 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 attempting to 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 which amounted to nothing and were subsequently dropped.

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 Warrior 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 populations.

Equally as forgotten is the fact 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.

It is also important to note that the entire encroaching police 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 equipment.

The injunction was meant to focus on protestors blocking access to 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 all of 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 Elsipogtog First 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 group of 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 a chaotic 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 varying amount 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 my charge 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, decidedly violent, 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, the main impediment to accessing the equipment, had been removed the night before.

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 beyond.

As solidarity actions spring up across the country, yesterday's 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 Indigenous 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.

(Photos: T. Lamarinde, M. Howe)

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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 New Brunswick.

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 circle dance.


Parliament Hill, October 17, 2013

Spontaneous demonstrations 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 Elsipogtog. 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.

October 19, 2013


On October 19, nearly 1,400 people rallied across from the 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 lives.

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 Montreal.

Placards, banners and speakers were all emphatic that the 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 and spills.

Many placards also condemned the Harper government and the 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 Cardinal.

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 and flags.



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 others.


Shoal Lake, Manitoba


Prince Albert


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.

United States

Actions were held at the Canadian Consulates in New York City (left) and San Francisco.

Uppsala, Finland

(Photos: TML, Idle No More, M. Howe, A. Friesen, M. Roy, K.M. Daley, C. Greenfeather, I. Doucet, Afrikah Badoh kolierna.se)

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UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Says Canada Faces Crisis Situation

UN Special 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 provincial levels.

"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 Aboriginal Women

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 the 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 systems."

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."

Substandard Housing

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 housing conditions 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."

Land Claims

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 negotiations."

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."

(unsr.jamesanaya.org, CTV News, FNESC)

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