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Showing posts from 2018

Trump's "Crazy Town" Represents a Clear and Present Danger to Canada

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(Photo taken when I marched in Trump Protest in NYC)

Donald Trump shocked countries around the world when he won the election for President of the United States of America (USA) on November 8, 2016. Trump was formally elected as the 58th US President, together with Mike Pence as his Vice-President, by the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. However, the official inauguration ceremony did not take place until January 20, 2017. While most of us were in a state of shock during the weeks between Trump's election and his inauguration; millions of Americans immediately took to the streets in nationwide protests under the collective chant “Not my President!”.

Trump’s presidential welcome (or lack thereof) did not get any better at his inauguration. In fact, attendance at Trump’s formal inauguration ceremony was one of the lowest in modern history – the crowds were only a fraction of the size that attended former President Obama’s inauguration. Not only ha…

Saskatchewan: The Land of Living Skies and Lethal Racism

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(Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp, Wascana, Saskatchewan, 2018)

Saskatchewan is known as the “land of the living skies” for its breathtakingly colourful northern lights. It is also one of the most beautiful prairie-provinces in Canada, with stunning purple sand beaches and the incredible Sahara-like Athabasca Sand Dunes that stretch for nearly 100 kilometres. The province also boasts over 100,000 lakes and rivers, making it nearly 12% water. The diverse Indigenous Nations which have thrived on these territories since time immemorial have tied their customs, practices and traditions, and even their traditional Indigenous knowledge systems to the life-giving resources from these rich lands, waters and eco-systems. The very land that has sustained the Nehiyaw, Anishinabe and other Nations for thousands of years is firmly rooted in their identity as individuals, families, and Nations. Sadly, Saskatchewan is also well-known as one of the most racist provinces in Cana…

The Indigenous right to say no

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                                     (photo by Michelle Girouard)
This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily on October 12, 2018.
The federal government recently announced that it will not appeal the court decision which quashed Canada’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Instead, Canada will engage with the 117 impacted First Nations in a consultation process led by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci.
If ever there was a sign that the government was going to force this pipeline expansion through the review process, this is it. After all, federal elections are just around the corner and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become the face of the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute and all the broken promises that it entails.
Being criticized from all sides — the provinces, industry, Canadians and Indigenous peoples, and now the Federal Court of Appeal — Trudeau decided to bring out the big guns: Iacobucci.
There is little doubt that he…

It's up to Indigenous, environmental groups to protect the public interest

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(Photo by Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research, pic from Washington Post)
This article is Part 2 of a 2-part series which was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on September 17, 2018. The link to Part 1 which was published Sept.11, 2018 is provided below.
Despite objections from some of the Indigenous groups about the consultation process, the Federal Court of Appeal (in Tsleil-Waututh Nation et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2018 FCA 153) held that Canada acted in good faith and that the consultation framework it used was appropriate.
This was a four-phase process which was to include (1) early engagement, (2) NEB hearing, (3) governor-in-council consideration and (4) regulatory authorization processes.
Where Canada fell down was in Phase III of the consultation process in that it did not meaningfully consider the concerns of the Indigenous groups or attempt to accommodate or mitigate those concerns. There was no substantive discussion about Indigenous rights and the FCA …

Killer Whales, Trans Mountain Pipeline and the Public Interest

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                  (photo by NOAA from Raincoast Conservation Foundation)
This article is Part 1 of a 2 part series which was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on September 11, 2018. Part 2 will be published in a few days.
Tahlequah’s “tour of grief” which saw one of the female southern resident killer whales (referred to by scientists as J-35) carry her deceased calf for 17 days was an unprecedented show of grief for the death of her calf. It is also a sad reminder of the fact that these endangered whales have had no successful births for three years. Her visible mourning tore at the heartstrings of many Americans, Canadians and especially Indigenous peoples who know all too well the pain of losing their children. While it is not uncommon for a killer whale to hold her deceased calf for a few hours or a day, this show of extended grief was the first time observed by scientists.
Some wonder whether Tahlequah’s actions were not a call for help given that there are only 75 whal…

Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp - Thank you for Standing Up for our Children

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The violent deaths of Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan and Tina Fontaine in Manitoba hit their families, communities and First Nations pretty hard. These were youths who had their whole lives ahead of them. The fact that deep-seated institutional and societal racism and violence against Indigenous peoples is what led to their deaths is a glaring injustice that we have seen happen many times over to our people. But the other glaring injustice is how institutional and societal racism and violence allows the killers of our people to walk free. The high level of impunity for lethal race-based violence against Indigenous peoples serves only to reinforce the racist idea that Indigenous lives don’t matter. Without intervention from federal, provincial and municipal governments, agencies and police forces, our people will continue to be at risk.
Canada’s failure to act on this crisis means that First Nations must continue to take action to stand against these injustices which are killing our pe…

Maxime Bernier's "Extreme Multiculturalism" Twitter Rants Sound More Like Sour Grapes

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Last week, Conservative Member of Parliament, Maxime Bernier posted a series of tweets on Twitter espousing his opposition to “extreme multiculturalism” and the “cult of diversity” in Canada. According to Bernier, diversity will “destroy” the cultural identity of Canada and worse, will result in “cultural balkanization” that leads to social conflict and even "violence". These tweets were not the usual fair commentary offered by elected officials on matters of public policy. No – there was something a bit more frantic, even desperate about these tweets. These tweets sounded like the rantings of a wayward politician who, having failed in all of his political endeavours to date, couldn’t think of any other way to get attention but to ride the populist white supremacy wave.
A combination of deep-seated racism and white superiority, together with Trump-like fear-mongering seems to be the current populist recipe for manufacturing hate and division for the purpose of political gain…

Assembly of First Nations election a battle for sovereignty

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*This article was originally published in The Lawyer's Daily on July 18, 2018.

The Assembly of First Nations will hold its election for national chief on July 25 in Vancouver. Only the chiefs of the 634-plus First Nations are eligible to vote but most chiefs’ assemblies see less than half of those attend, and of those, many are proxies and not actual chiefs. 
While elections for prime minister, premier and even mayors attract nightly political commentary, analysis and predictions in the months and weeks prior to their elections, there is generally very little commentary about the AFN election outside of Indigenous media like APTN, Windspeaker or smaller Indigenous political blogs. Yet, what is at stake in this election for First Nations should be of great concern to Canadians. 
This election feels more like a boiling point – a critical juncture spurred by the growing discontent of the AFN that was apparent in the last three AFN elections for National Chief. The outcome of this elect…