DEFENDING OUR SOVEREIGNTY

Friday, January 20, 2012

Atleo - Bureaucrat Summit: How Bad Does it Have to Get?

There is no question that every government since pre and post-confederation has had a hand in the theft of our Indigenous lands and resources, the control of our citizens and the division of our Nations. Governments now make very public apologies, but still maintain our communities in poverty. There was a small sign of change with the Kelowna Accord, but the Conservatives blew that out of the water once they came to power. There would be no investment in food, water, education or housing for First Nations - not on an assimilationist, radical Conservative watch.

However, there is always the pesky media and public to worry about, so after Prime Minister Stephen Harper tore up the Kelowna Accord, he had to save face publicly by making one of his infamous empty promises. Harper promised that instead of $10 billion dollars to address the crisis of poverty in our First Nations, we'd get a First Nation-Crown Summit. I was very skeptical about this "deal" for 2 reasons: (1) it was unilaterally imposed to save face and (2) it didn't seem like a fair deal to me.

This meeting that was promised by Harper and his Conservative government three times, always failed to come to fruition. During this time, and in Harper's own backyard, we saw the people of Kashechewan First Nation evacuated from their community because they were all sick from the contaminated water due to the chronic underfunding of infrastructure on reserve. We also read the disturbing findings of the Coroner's Death Report about the epidemic of child suicide at Pikangikum First Nation. If that wasn't bad enough, Attawapiskat First Nation called a state of emergency for the third time because people had no homes and were living in sheds.

Given that the media kept its attention on Attawapiskat for more than 24 hours, Harper was publicly embarrassed. Add to this his ineffective Minister of Indian Affairs, John Duncan who could not help but spew stereotypical and inflammatory remarks about First Nations and Harper was once again forced to do something. This was a very difficult position for him because he has no intention of doing anything for First Nations - so he relied on his post-Kelowna disaster promise: a First Nation-Crown Summit.

However, meetings never come together very well when one has no intention of really doing anything at the meeting and you don't want to meet in the first place. But, it was a meeting none-the-less and it accomplished the task of taking most of the media's attention away from Attawapiskat and focusing it on the now "historic" meeting between Harper and First Nations. Yet, this historic meeting was not to be as historic as the First Ministers Meetings with First Nations because the provinces would not be in attendance and now, Harper is bailing out as well.

The First Nations-Crown Summit agenda that was originally posted on the Assembly of First Nations website showed a day which was mostly taken up with ceremony and political speeches. The minimal time actually dedicated to the meeting with Harper and First Nations was to be top secret and not televised or streamed live on the web for grass roots First Nations or the public to see. There was also to be a complete media black-out as no media were allowed to watch or participate in the meeting. A few strategic locations in Canada were to be set up with cameras so that Chiefs could watch the event, but those locations are also top secret - at least to the media anyway.

So, if that were not bad enough, now we have word that Harper won't even stay long at his own meeting. Harper will not even attend the actual meeting itself - if you can believe that. No, Harper is too busy with his international "jet-setting" to attend a "historic" meeting with First Nations to address issues like Attawapiskat. Instead, National Chief of the AFN Shawn Atleo and 400 Chiefs get to meet with a couple of Cabinet Ministers and a whole lot of federal bureaucrats.

So, what will be Atleo's response? He is after all, the National Chief and the one who must set an example for everyone else. He has not only First Nation Chiefs watching him, but all the grassroots people who live or die by what he does and does not do. We look to our leaders, in all forms, to stand up for us, advocate on our behalf and make sure our voices are heard. Alot is riding on his response to this latest slap in the face by Harper. How will the AFN respond?

For those of you concerned about previous comments I have made about Shawn Atleo's weak leadership, please let me assure you that these comments are not about him as a person. I don't know him personally. I have met him a few times, and he seems nice enough. My issue is with his job as a leader and as a First Nations person, I am entitled to expect strong leadership from someone who holds such a powerful position. When I critique his politics, it is not lateral violence against him as a person, but instead a call to act responsibly for our people.

I always say images shape aspirations. If we see our parents treat us with love and compassion, we are likely to treat others that way. If we see Indigenous professors and University Presidents, then we are more likely to think of those jobs as possible for ourselves. If we see strong Indigenous women leaders, we model the way for our youth to know that they can work for their people regardless of gender. In the same vein, when Atleo acts, he is indirectly telling our First Nation children, youth and young adults what is possible.

So, if Atleo sees the Prime Minister:

- tear up Kelowna Accord;


- watches as Harper refuses to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

- Denies that colonialism ever happened in Canada;

- makes amendments to the Indian Act that continue both gender discrimination AND legislative extinction;

- blames Attawapiskat for their own suffering and refuses to vist the First Nation;

- Does not act when conditions in Pikangikum get so bad that nine year old children commit suicide;

- Allows his Minister of Indian Affairs to deny that residential schools were acts of genocide; and

- watches Harper duck out of the First Nation-Summit;

then does nothing about it - then the message he sends to First Nations children living without water, food or a warm home is that we are not worth standing up for.

All the murdered and missing Indigenous women in this country are not worth standing up for.

All the Chiefs that have been ignored, insulted, stood up, stone-walled, and belittled are not worth standing up for.

After all, if Atleo does not think we are worth standing up for, why would anyone else thing we are worth it? Children will see that their suffering takes a back seat to the risk that by standing up for us like a real leader, Atleo might lose some funding for the AFN. Perhaps the Conservative government might not attend their AGMs for a year or two. Or Harper might even refuse to meet with Atleo for a while.

We all know that this is a serious risk. We saw the Native Women's Association of Canada lose its Sisters in Spirit funding when they brought international attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous women in Canada. We saw the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society lose their funding when they filed a discrimination complaint against Canada for chronically under-funding child and family services putting our children at risk.

But our Indigenous leaders take risks. Our warriors put their lives on the line for our territories and our people. Our ancestors gave up their lives to protect us. We still have our pride, our cultures and our communities because of them. The least Atleo can do is take a risk and finally say enough is enough. - tell Harper that we will not settle for scraps anymore.

This First Nation-Crown Summit has now been reduced to an Atleo-Bureaucrat summit where most of the time will be taken in fluffy, empty speeches to make Harper look good, some gift giving and ceremony and then Harper leaves before anyone has a chance to talk about the hard issues. If Atleo would stand for this on behalf of all the Chiefs, this makes me wonder - how bad does it have to get? What would it take for Atleo to say enough?

His lack of action and bizarre defense of Harper makes me wonder if Atleo is the new Brazeau? No progress has been made, yet Atleo is always defending the Conservatives. That may have got Brazeau a Senate seat, but it didn't improve the lives of First Nations people.

I guess I'll get my answer when Atleo responds to this latest development. If he defends Harper's no-show at the upcoming meeting - I guess there is nothing more I can say about it. We'll see on the news tonight or tomorrow if he stands up for us or supports Harper.

Here's naively hoping....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

UPDATED - Harper Hypocrisy: Media Blackout on First Nation - Harper Summit

I am compelled to write this blog before the upcoming meeting between the "Harper Government" (i.e. Harper and a few Cabinet members) and a small contingency of First Nation Chiefs (approximately 100). It has been reported that no provincial premiers will be in attendance, nor will any grass roots Indigenous peoples will invited. I realize that the meeting has not yet happened and may be imprudent to try to guess what will and won't happen, but the way this meeting is shaping up deserves some consideration.

I can understand a meeting being restricted in size in order to address important issues. What makes no sense to me is that the media is severely restricted about what they can and can't broadcast or attend. The media is allowed to record and broadcast the opening ceremonies, the opening speeches and the scrum (series of questions) afterwards. All the real business in the plenary sessions will be part of a media black-out - no one in the media can see what happens inside. None of this is necessary in an age where web-casting, pod-casting and live-streaming is available on the Internet as well as television broadcasts.

This is not only offensive to me as a grass roots Indigenous person, but also seems to me to be the ultimate in Harper hypocrisy. The Harper government has vilified our leaders in the media as being corrupt and not accountable, has tried to impose legislation on them to make them more "open" and "transparent" and even made open, transparent and accountable governments part of the agenda for this meeting. Yet, it is Harper, not First Nations leaders, who is implementing the media black-out for the actual plenary meetings - thereby preventing openness, transparency and accountability.

Every time an elected Chief even attempts to make what he/she does open and transparent, Canada, through Indian Affairs, reminds him/her that they are only accountable to Indian Affairs via the Indian Act, and not to their people. How can Harper accuse First Nations of NOT being open when an important meeting like this one will be off-limits to the community members served by those Chiefs? These are the very ways in which Canada sets up our leaders to fail their people every time.

How can any grass roots person have an opportunity to judge for themselves what their leaders do on important issues if they are banned from seeing it for themselves? This is an insult to grass roots members and even to the many Chiefs who are not able to attend the meeting. Notice how Harper is dividing Chiefs into elite groups with "access" and those without, and also dividing communities into those with power (Chiefs) and those without (grass roots). Something like this should be open for all to see if they choose.

It is not uncommon for some government meetings to be closed to the cameras or the public. One must keep in mind, this is not a confidential Cabinet discussion about an upcoming budget, it is not a meeting to negotiate foreign trade strategy, nor does it involve litigation or even high-stakes negotiations. This is a high-level political meeting more for show than for decision-making. In fact, this meeting has no mandate to do anything at all but talk about what Harper decided was important: education, economic development and accountability. So far, Harper has told the media that First Nations should temper their expectations - that nothing should be expected out of this meeting.

But we all know what the real issue is. This meeting would NEVER have even come to fruition, and certainly not on January 24th, 2012, had the politically embarrassing situation in Attawapiskat not hit the headlines in the media and stayed in the media for so long. Harper had promised such a meeting several times before and it never came about. So, we see that this is a meeting not one of choice, but of perceived political necessity - i.e., to save face.

Having a meeting for the purposes of saving face politically and to appear as though Harper is taking concrete action on Indigenous issues neither starts the meeting with the right intentions, nor can it be expected to result in any sort of commitment for Indigenous peoples. However, given that the meeting is about saving face, Harper could never allow the public or the international community to see him called out by First Nation leaders about his assimilatory legislative agenda, his purposeful chronic underfunding of essential social services or his complete rejection of Aboriginal and treaty rights. This is the real reason why the meeting is not slated to be broadcast.

So, Harper demands transparency on the part of First Nations, but then does not allow to be transparent. He demands openness on the part of Chiefs, but then closes the doors on an important meeting involving the health and well-being of all Indigenous peoples. He demands accountability, but only works with "willing partners" - i.e., those who will support the Conservative agenda. This meeting represents everything that is wrong with Harper - he is a dictator and assimilationist who would enjoy nothing more than to have Indigenous people dance for him, give him gifts in hopes of gaining his favour - an exercise in futility.

UPDATE:

I have learned that organizations like the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) will be providing a live feed of the three plenary sessions at the Saskatoon Inn so that their community members can watch the proceedings.

http://www.fsin.com/index.php/communiques/713-fsin-executive-communique-january-13-2012.html

I also understand from the Assembly of First Nations website that they are trying to be inclusive to the Chiefs who cannot attend by setting up certain locations where non-attending Chiefs can view all three plenary sessions. It also looks like the AFN is trying to set up a second Ottawa location (I assume not at the venue) where officials can watch the proceedings.

http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/crown/nc-bulletin_december.pdf

I will continue to contact organizations and see if anyone is providing a live-stream feed on the Internet where all grass roots Indigenous peoples can watch what is happening any of the three plenary sessions. It now makes even less sense to me that the media is not allowed in the plenary sessions or that they cannot broadcast the plenary sessions when clearly First Nation organizations are permitted to do so in select locations.

I applaud those First Nation organizations like FSIN who will be doing their best to ensure people can see the events, but I am sure they are limited by funding and technology to be able to set up viewing stations on every First Nation in the province. This is something that should be streamed online or at least televised by the Government of Canada, or at least something the media is permitted to do.

My biggest concern is that he will propose the following "deals" with "willing partners". These deals won't be spelled out in the Summit - but instead key words and phrases will be used to signal where he and his officials are headed. The true extent of the deals will be spelled out in future one on one meetings - how Indian Affairs usually does its business.

(1) Education

Harper will commit to find "efficiencies" in current funding envelopes (aka no new funding) to fund a First Nation education system as defined by him. This will mean that funding will flow through a national school board system, or similar method that mimics provincial systems or in some way that removes jurisdiction and decision-making away from local First Nations.

This will pit individuals versus communities; lump diverse Indigenous Nations like Cree, Mi'kmaq and Mohawk as a generic Indians (again); and ultimately promote the same assimilatory education agenda that is so prevalent in many (not all) provincial school systems. The idea here is to make sure First Nations communities are not in control and that they don't get to hire education coordinators or provide things like child care for single mothers trying to go to school.

The efficiencies found in eliminating local control and related educational services will be used to promote a school board or boards stacked with Conservative supporters and those "willing partners" willing to take power away from First Nation governments and create new forms of power among Conservative Aboriginal elite.

(2) Economic Development

There is no surprise here either. The language that Harper has been using around this item is very clear as to the end results - "unlocking" the economies of First Nations for the "benefit of all Canadians". Clearly this relates to continued use of our traditional lands and natural resources for their own government and corporate benefit. Think: oil sands, mining, timber, fishing and international exports and ignore Aboriginal rights, treaty rights, inherent rights, international human and Indigenous rights and so forth.

But key words have been used here: "unlocking" is the language used by the most infamous assimilationist, Tom Flanagan, in his newest book: Beyond The Indian Act. It is the same language being used by Manny Jules, head of First Nation Tax Commission, who agrees with Flanagan's plan to break up reserves into individual pieces of land that can be sold to non-Indians.

We only hold less than 0.2% of all land in Canada as reserve lands, yet the 99.8% of our traditional lands will continue to be exploited for the "benefit of all Canadians". This 99.8% of our lands are not enough for those with a capitalist persuasion. They now want to "unlock" what little we have left and squeeze every ounce of cash out of our reserve lands that they can with no thought for our well-being or future generations.

So, any commitments or efficiencies found in other funding envelopes might be used to offer economic development incentives with the condition that support is found for the upcoming First Nation Property Ownership Act or that quick and cheap agreements can be made to forgo land claims. Other legislative initiatives like the matrimonial real property legislation which will open up reserve lands to non-Indians may also fall under this category.

(3) First Nation Accountability

We all know what this is about. Harper wants his legislation to pass forcing First Nations to publish their salaries. But that is just what we see on the surface, what he is really after and what we will likely never see or hear are the hidden changes to funding agreements, reporting requirements and reporting of business activities that will likely be more invasive, despite the Auditor General's criticism in this area.

I can also see extreme pressure being placed on First Nations to accept the water bill proposed in the last session of Parliament (S-11) where Harper will be able to transfer all costs and liability for water systems onto already underfunded First Nations. There will be no extra money provided for this purpose of course, but the efficiencies found in off-loading the responsibility may be used to provide up-front training and minimal infrastructure investments that will fall apart will lack of stable funding for upkeep and maintenance.

It will be stressed that accountability = doing what Harper wants - versus what is best for their communities will be the condition for all future funding. Things like emergency housing or water services will likely be contingent on third party managers or co-managers imposed quietly. This meeting and those that we will never hear about will focus on getting control over the Indian problem.

The Indian problem will be resolved in one of two ways: (1) our continued colonization through empowering those Aboriginal people who have internalized colonization and now turn on us, or (2) legislating those Indigenous people who resist colonization and assimilation out of existence - keeping them in constant litigation, medicating them, vilifying them as "radicals", splitting up families, dividing women from their communities, and over-incarcerating us.

If anyone thinks I am being pessimistic - you are welcome to your opinion. However, the writing is clearly on the wall and anyone who expects otherwise will be disappointed. Now, I might stand to be corrected. Harper could make any sort of announcement where I would happily concede the error of my predictions.

Harper might announce at this meeting that he will reduce First Nation Poverty in 5-10 years:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2012/01/12/harper-once-pledged-to-reduce-aboriginal-poverty-in-5-to-10-years/

Oh, wait, he already did that.

Ok, Harper might announce that he will speed up land claims with a "revolutionary" new Specific Claims Tribunal:

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/05/16/four-years-later-harpers-promised-tribunal-still-mired-in-bureaucracy/

Darn, he did that too, with similar non-results.

Sadly, 2, 4 even 6 years later, Harper's old promises still have not come to fruition. I think if he makes any new promises at this meeting - First Nations might be well-advised to wait and see what concrete actions are actually taken, and not jump too quickly for that "willing partners" name tag.

I fully admit that all of this is my best guess based on all my research, education, and experience, but that is all us grass roots people will have, since the actual meeting is off-limits to the majority of us who are affected by their decisions - unless of course we find an organization that is permitted and willing to live-stream the event online for all of us.

I will keep looking...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Whose the Smartest of them All? The Problem with Radicals, Insurgents, Terrorists, and Non-Thinkers

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the smartest of them all? Well, according to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, the Conservatives are the smartest of them all - at least, they are the only ones who take "facts" into account when they think. This means that everyone else who does not think, act and support the Conservative right-wing agenda is relegated to that neanderthal group of non-thinkers who pose a national security risk. Sound familiar?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/01/09/pol-joe-oliver-radical-groups.html

Well, I am not just talking about me and my alleged "subversive and hostile activities". Nor am I talking about Cindy Blackstock and her evil pursuit to give First Nations children a chance at the good life. This time I am talking about all those pesky environmentalists, anti-poverty groups, churches, amnesty groups, human rights organizations, international organizations, students, academics, lawyers, animal protection groups, scientists, researchers, women's right organizations, Canadian politicians and political groups, actors, actresses and singers, and philanthropists, as well as the most notorious radicals, insurgents, and terrorists in Canada - Indigenous peoples.

http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2012/01/when-advocating-for-first-nations-is.html

Somehow this gigantic, ideologically, culturally, socially, politically and legally diverse group form a "radical" group of people who, according to Conservative Minister Oliver: "don’t take into account the facts but are driven by an ideological imperative". This imperative is to "block trade" and "undermine Canada's economy". This out of control group "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda".

Honestly, just the thought of someone trying to hijack our regulatory process sends a cold shiver down my spine. Imagine the level of sophistication, planning and education that allowed such a dangerous group to read and understand those millions of regulations. The sheer level of dedication to their terrorist plot to protect the environment, the health of the residents or Indigenous lands is astounding.

Don't let this insurgent group's reliance on research data, scientific studies, academic publications, and internationally recognized reports fool you. They are not basing their ideology of sustainability and human rights on "facts" - they are, instead, blindly following a radical ideology which is intent on destroying Canadians - i.e., those that voted Conservative in the last election. "Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams." What next? Wind mills, solar power and bicycles?

I think the answer is actually hidden in Minister Oliver's comments - REAL Canadians support mining, logging and oil sands - regardless of the costs to people, land, water or the environment. Radicals support clean water, alternative energy and respecting Indigenous lands and resources. Thus, by stripping this rather large group of radicals of their citizenship (non-Canadians), intelligence (thinking without facts), or legitimate concerns (radical ideologies), they can be de-humanized, vilified, criminalized, and ultimately ignored.

If you think I am being paranoid (that one's for you CSIS), then ask any Indigenous person who has been labelled as "savage", "pagan", "heathen", "uncivilized", "communist", "radical", "insurgent", "terrorist" threat to Canada. We are so dangerous in fact that it takes CSIS, special units of the RCMP, DND (military) AND Indian Affairs to keep an eye on our tiny little population. Stealing our land and resources, decimating our populations, outlawing our languages and cultures, keeping us in extreme poverty, stealing our children from us, throwing us in jails, and publicly vilifying us in the media is not enough to comfort those fact-based thinking Conservatives.

If you ask me, the real radical terrorists are the "new" Conservative party. They are so far away from their old political ideologies that even some Conservatives are scared of this new party. However, given that many consider Harper to be akin to a dictator, these same old-school Conservatives fear doing anything but supporting this new radical party. It is plain to see that the right wing fanatics from the Reform Party invaded the Conservatives and have never ceded power. Once a dictator assumes power, the only way he can maintain it is through propaganda, misinformation, secrecy, fear and force. This is exactly what we see now.

The new Conservative Party has shown that it is THEY who hold radical right-wing ideologies that they ram down the throats of the majority of Canadians. These ideologies are never based on fact, science or reality, but instead on their radical ideology that the ultimate goal is to achieve the most power and wealth it can. This is not my political rhetoric, as you will recall I don't vote in federal or provincial elections as none of those parties represent our Indigenous Nations. What I am saying is fact - and in case you have any doubts, I invite you to consult the Parliament of Canada website and peruse the legislation that has already passed or is being proposed. It is highly focused on power (military, defense) and wealth (stopping unions, stealing reserve lands).

http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/Home.aspx?language=E&Parl=41&Ses=1

If such a political party can proceed with oil sands despite the catastrophic environmental, human and animal impacts; if it can proceed with destructive extraction industries ignoring Indigenous rights; or pursue wealth and power while leaving children and families to live in poverty - then I ask who is the radical terrorist? Who is acting in a way to subvert the well-being of Canadian citizens and Indigenous peoples, lands and waters?

Since when did sustainable development, sharing the wealth, respecting human rights and Indigenous rights become anti-Canadian? Moreover, since when did participating in a democratic process like testifying before a regulatory board about one's concerns about a project become such a radical act?

Is Minister Oliver saying we are no longer entitled to hold a different opinion? That sounds radically like a dictatorship to me. I think we ought to start monitoring his Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail accounts and see what kind of meetings and conferences he attends. I'm a little nervous about this one.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When Advocating for First Nations is Considered a National Security Risk

When the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reported that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) dedicated countless INAC staff and thousands of dollars to spying on Cindy Blackstock - I think most of us in Turtle Island gave our heads a shake. While it has been known for sometime that Canada spies on our our Indigenous leaders and community members who defend our lands, I don't think most of us were aware that any First Nation advocate was a target. This is what shocked me the most - that Canada's "national security" laws are so broad as to make someone like Cindy Blackstock an enemy of the state.

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/11/14/federal-aboriginal-affairs-department-spying-on-advocate-for-first-nations-children/

If someone were to ask me who was the LEAST likely to be spied on by Canada, I would have said Cindy Blackstock because for anyone who knows Cindy or her work, they know she is a peaceful, law-abiding citizen with a big heart. Her only alleged "subversive" or "hostile" act against Canada is that peacefully advocates on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society: First Nations children.

Cindy does not do her advocacy by riding in on combat helicopters or tanks - but instead runs the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society, donates her free time to spreading information and speak publicly about the realities faced by First Nations children, and is now running the HAVE A HEART campaign to raise money for First Nations children.

http://www.fncfcs.com/have-a-heart

(I know I include alot of links in my blogs, but please click on the above link and read about the HAVE A HEART campaign and do what you can to support her efforts.)

The level to which Cindy was spied on by INAC is also quite surprising. For a department whose mandate it is to improve the lives of First Nations peoples, but claims to have no money for housing, water and basic necessities for First Nations - they sure spent a great deal of time attending Cindy's events, spying on her personal Facebook page (not her public one), and reporting to both INAC and Justice Canada about her activities. They even violated her most private information by accessing her registration records and that of her family. Incredibly, INAC has been doing this for some time, so the costs must be astronomical.

So, what was INAC's response to all of this? Minister Duncan said there would be a probe into whether or not government officials broke privacy rules.

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/11/17/aboriginal-affairs-minister-launches-probe-into-blackstock-spying-affair/

However, it is important to note that the "probe" will be headed by Duncan's Deputy Minister. Once the public knew that the DM was one of the many INAC employees who were copied on the surveillance reports on Cindy, we knew any "probe" would be a complete sham. For a government that complains about lack of transparency and accountability by First Nations - here INAC is having one of their spies investigate whether they were improperly spying - can anyone guess what the outcome will be?

This whole situation made me wonder about my own situation and whether my work qualifies me as "hostile" or "subversive". My advocacy activities have always been peaceful and mostly consist of volunteer activities like sharing information through social media, speaking engagements, working with individuals and community members on a wide range of Indigenous legal, cultural, social and political issues, training sessions, publications, appearing before the House and Senate on legislation impacting our people and organizing pow wows.
I still wondered whether this would garner the attention of the multi-layered, well-funded, spy industry within Canada. So, I made an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request to CSIS, INAC, RCMP and DND for any and all records, reports, security assessments, surveillance reports, etc that  they might have in relation to me and my work. To date, only CSIS has responded.

In the CSIS letter of Dec.8, 2011, they refer to three different types of information: (1) Security Assessments/Advice; (2) CSIS Service Records; and (3) CSIS Investigational records. On the first set of information they provided me with some records of assessments done when I worked at INAC and Justice Canada, but refused to disclose other material, stating:
"Portions of the material have been exempted from disclosure by virtue of section 15(1) (as it relates to the efforts of Canada towards detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities) of the Act."
For the second part, they confirmed they have no service records in relation to me (no surprise there) and for the third type of information they stated that they would "neither confirm nor deny that the records you requested exist." However they did say that even if such records do exist, they would not release them to me anyway as part of their efforts in "detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities".

So, the moral of the story is that they have at least one type of file on me, and that they would not release the whole file so as to protect Canada from my alleged "subversive or hostile" activities. This to me is like being judged without knowing what I am accused of, and then being sentenced to ongoing spying on undisclosed activities for an undetermined amount of time so as to reduce the security risk to Canada in relation to my peaceful Indigenous advocacy activities.

http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2012/01/03/indigenous-prof-puzzled-by-csis-answer-to-information-request/

If Canada's national security laws permit such broad surveillance of our activities - then my question is what First Nation activities are NOT considered a potential threat to Canada? I would like to know how much money across all federal departments are allocated to spying on First Nations people? I would also like to compare that to the costs to provide housing, water and basic necessities of life to First Nations in need. I am guessing that I would not be entitled to this information either.
In my previous blogs, I wrote about INAC issuing contracts to people to spy on First Nation elections and Facebook users.
More Than Empty Promises
http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-than-empty-promises-canadas.html

Secret Agent Harper
http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2011/06/secret-agent-harper-conservative-spy.html

From Savages to Terrorists
http://indigenousnationhood.blogspot.com/2011_05_01_archive.html

Then, The First Nations Strategic Bulletin (FNSB) which came out in December 2011 explained how after the Conservatives came to power, the RCMP created the Aboriginal Joint Intelligence Group (JIG)partnering with the ENERGY and PRIVATE SECTOR to spy on First Nations. First Nations like Six Nations, Tyendinaga and others were all targeted. The JIG was run by RCMP Criminal Intelligence Branch and the RCMP National Security Criminal Investigations (NSCI) which deal with: "threats to national security and criminal extremism or terrorism".

Most shockingly was that FNSB also reported that the RCMP shared their surveillance reports with private businesses and that private businesses shared information with the RCMP about First Nations.

The irony of the situation is so outrageous. It was Canada and its Indian agents that were hostile and subversive to our peoples - not the other way around. It is we who have pre-mature deaths, worse health, less education, less employment and less access to land and resources. It is we who continue to suffer the inter-generational effects of their colonial laws and policies which STILL exist today. Can you get any more hostile that the over-apprehension of our children from our communities at 3 times the rate of residential schools? Or that some of federal prisons have 100% Indigenous inmates or that the Indian Act still provides for our legislative extinction dates?
Yet, we are supposed to be appeased when representatives of Canada speak about moving forward, looking ahead,  and reconciliation. How can First Nations be expected to come to the table with any hope of making real progress when their treaty "partner" comes to the table alleging good faith but with no less than 4 federal departments spying on our people and treating us like we are terrorists on our own lands?

But will any of these important issues make it to the agenda for the First Nations-Crown Summit in January? Of course not. In case you haven't noticed, very little of the core issues are on the table for discussion and resolution. Instead the agenda consists of program areas like economic development, education and accountability - important issues, but all ones which could easily be addressed by directors and a commitment to equitable funding. Issues like self-determination, First Nation jurisdiction, equitable funding, fair share of the land and resources, recognition of our treaties and Indigenous rights are all OFF the agenda.

So, I will wait to see what information about my files I get from the RCMP, DND and INAC, and will also wait and see if NC Atleo addresses any of these fundamental relationship issues with Canada. But in the meantime, my bet is on our grass roots people and the youth in turning this situation around and taking back control over our own lives.