Check your White Male Privilege Andrew Scheer

(still image from video of RCMP aiming gun at Wet'suwet'en people from Gidimten Camp Facebook)

Today, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made the shocking statement that protestors and activists need to “check their privilege” and let people whose jobs depend on the railway systems get to work. In this case, it is Scheer who needs to check his own privilege. His comments appear to be racially motivated as the people occupying the rails in Ontario are very obviously Indigenous peoples. Scheer’s comments reflect worn out stereotypes about Indigenous peoples that are not worth repeating, but are not based on facts. These kinds of comments serve only to promote societal division and manufacture hatred towards a specific group - Indigenous peoples. Scheer’s white male privilege as a top 1% income earner (according to Statistics Canada) stand in stark contrast to the staggering socio-economic conditions of the majority of First Nations peoples in Canada. First Nations have the highest…

RCMP Invasion of Wet'suwet'en Nation territory breaches Canada's "rule of law"

RCMP invades Wet’suwet’en territory. Photo by Amber Bracken; Jan. 7, 2019 While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes flowery public speeches about respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and reassures the international community that there is no relationship more important that the one with Indigenous peoples, Canada invaded sovereign Wet’suwet’en Nation territory. When questioned about this aggressive move at a Liberal fundraiser in Kamloops, British Columbia, he responded: “No, obviously, it’s not an ideal situation… But at the same time, we’re also a country of the rule of law.” Canada’s invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory through its national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), is an example of the blatant violation of the rule of law in favour of corporate interests. Canada has consistently failed to follow the rule of law when it comes to Indigenous peoples, and the violent arrests of the Wet’suwet’en people at the Gidimt’en checkpoint, set up in support of…

Overincarceration of Indigenous peoples nothing short of genocide

(Public domain image)
Canada’s colonial objectives have always been to clear the lands for settlement and development by whatever means necessary.
After signing peace treaties in the 1700s, clearing the lands meant laws offering bounties on the heads of Mi’kmaw men, women and children. In the 1800s, clearing the lands meant ethnic cleansing on the Prairies - laws, policies and practices that confined native peoples to reserves and gave them insufficient rations to survive. In the 1900s, clearing the lands meant the theft of thousands of native children to be forced into residential schools where thousands died from abuse, torture and starvation. In the 2000s clearing the lands means the mass incarceration of Indigenous peoples in prisons paving the way for the extractive industry.
The overincarceration of Indigenous peoples in federal, provincial and territorial prisons in Canada today is nothing short of …

Buy Native and Give Native All Year Long

(Treaty Truckhouse fundraiser [top left], Rez Famous Clothing [top right], Warrior Life Clothing [bottom left], Unist'ot'en fundraiser [bottom right])
If you are anything like me, I need multiple lists to keep myself organized this time of year. With the holidays speeding towards us faster than we can keep up, I need a list for tasks to complete at work before we break for the holidays; a grocery list to prepare for multiple family feasts; and, of course, the holiday gift-giving list. Without these lists, I would certainly be doomed to rely on my brain, which is already overloaded with the 2019 work I have to complete and the giant to-do list for 2020. I find lists extremely helpful, as they keep me from impulse shopping and overspending. I also have another list, which is my giving list – a list that reminds me to share my privilege with others. The one thing these lists all have in common is that they are all focused on buying native and giving native all year long.

Indigenous issues slowly disappear from election 2019

*This picture was taken by Michelle Girouard and the logo is from from The Lawyer's Daily). This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on Oct.15, 2019 (see link below).

The unofficial slogan for the 2015 Liberal election campaign was “there is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples.” It was a mantra shared repeatedly by Justin Trudeau pre- and post-election and stood in stark contrast to former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s adversarial relationship with First Nations. In fact, it was Trudeau’s election promise to make Indigenous issues a political priority, together with his commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship grounded in respect for Indigenous rights, that helped his party win the Indigenous vote.

While not all Indigenous people voted for the Liberals, record numbers of them voted — largely to help the Liberals unseat the Conservatives. Fast forward to this election and Trudeau started his campa…

First Nations and the Business of Cannabis

This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on Sept.25, 2019 -(see link below)

Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election platform promise to immediately legalize marijuana if elected spurred a frenzy of activity behind the scenes. There were police officers, politicians and other former leaders, previously against the sale of the drug, making plans for their own cannabis boutiques. The very same people that had previously outlawed, arrested and jailed people for growing, possessing and/or selling cannabis would now have the unfair insider advantage about where to sell and to whom.

In the chaotic positioning that played out behind the scenes by those “in the know,” very little attention was given to the full legal implications of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act.

The failure to properly engage First Nations about the legalization of cannabis was not only irresponsible policy making but was also a lost political opportunity to work on a nation to nation basis with First Nations — o…

Justice system still not protecting Indigenous women and girls

(Picture by Pam Palmater, Rally for Justice for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg) This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on May, 28, 2019.

“Her life mattered. She was valued. She was important. She was loved.” R. v. Barton [2019] S.C.J. No. 33.
Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous woman originally from Alberta, where she grew up with her four siblings and extended family. She was also the mother to three daughters and her family described her as both a loving mother and caring auntie. She had close friends and always dreamed about being the first in her family to go to university. Cindy Gladue loved and was loved. She did not deserve her violent death in 2011 nor the indignity done to her body after.
She is now one of the many thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada — a growing crisis that represents grave human rights violations. The trial of the man who admittedly committed this act of violence against Cindy is …