Showing posts from 2015

Harper's Gone, Now It's Time to Look Within

This is a blog I wish I didn’t have to write. I wish I could say that now that Canadians have changed their federal government that everything will be ok. But that is not a given. The decade-long reign of terror against First Nations, the environment and democratic rights and freedoms has worn on everyone. Yet there is still have a great deal of work to undo the harm that was done and prepare the path ahead for a safer, healthier and more just future for First Nations and Canadians alike. Nothing will change for us unless we address all the contributing factors to our current situation and that includes the many afflictions we suffer due to such extensive and prolonged colonization. The life-long work of so many Indigenous activists, defenders and natural leaders culminated in the Idle No More movement and helped empower our people to understand some of the very complex ways in which centuries of colonization has impacted our peoples. But understanding the sickness of colonization is o

The Worst Thing That Could Happen is a First Nation Minister of AANDC

Justin Trudeau will be sworn in as Prime Minister on November 4 and the question that seems to be dominating social media is whether or not he will appoint a First Nation person as the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). Ever since contact, colonial officials sought out individual “Indians” to act on the Crown’s behalf in various contexts – as cultural and language interpreters, military scouts, and spies. In a modern context, Canadian officials have resorted to manipulating individual Chiefs to promote federal initiatives that they know run counter to our Aboriginal and treaty rights or will be met with mass resistance. This divide-and-conquer technique of pitting First Nations against First Nations has always been used to help the Crown deflect attention from the Crown’s culpability on any given issue. The worst thing that could happen for the promised nation to nation relationship is if Prime Minister Trudeau appointed a First Nation person as Min

The Source of Our Power Has Always Been in our People - Not Voting in Federal Elections

Since Canada is now in full blown election mode, one issue that has been getting as much attention as the election itself is the question of whether or not First Nations should vote. Some advocates claim that if all “Aboriginal people” voted, they could influence as many as 50/338 ridings. Those against voting question those numbers but also challenge the claim that how we exercise our “power” is by voting. As for me, I choose not to vote and do not believe that we should rest our hope on a federal election any more than we should an Assembly of First Nations (AFN) election. The whole point of sovereignty is that Indigenous Nations must assert, live, and defend our sovereignty, jurisdiction, and right of self-determination – not vote for federal politicians to do that for us. I have had many lively debates with my family and friends about this issue and have heard a wide range of perspectives

United Nations Human Rights Committee Critiques Canada's Human Rights Violations of Indigenous Peoples

Today, the United Nations Human Rights Committee released its Concluding Observations on Canada's sixth report in relation to Canada's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (advanced unedited version). While it commended recent legislation adopted by individual provinces in relation to human rights, there was no overall commendation for Canada. In fact, the majority of the report expressed numerous concerns about Canada's failures in relation to the basic human rights of Indigenous peoples. The United Nations Human Rights Committee directed Canada to "widely disseminate" this report among judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the general public. It is not likely that Canada will do so, therefore, here is a summary of some of their concerns and key recommendations specific to Indigenous peoples: GENDER EQUALITY Concern: "persisting inequalities between w

My Brief for the Human Rights Committee's Concluding Observations of Canada: Clarifications Related to Canada's Testimony

Corporate Social Responsibility In the review, Canada stated that international treaties ratified by Canada are not binding law in Canada. Canada also stated that Canadian companies doing business abroad are expected to demonstrate Canadian values and follow applicable human rights laws. However, if the State does not consider ICCPR applicable law in Canada, then its corporate entities would have no reason to respect the human rights contained therein.  I would thus recommend that the Committee both clarify the UN’s position in this regard and recommend to Canada to specifically implement the ICCPR into domestic law. Gender Equality In the review Canada stated that it is committed to gender equality and claimed that women make 91% of what men make. In fact, the national wage gap in Canada is 18%, much higher than other countries.  In some provinces like Ontario, that gap can reach 31%.   The gap is significantly higher for Indigenous peoples at 30% compared to average

My Submission to United Nations Human Rights Committee on Canada's Human Rights Violations

Statement of Pamela Palmater to the 114th Human Rights Committee Session: Formal Briefing on Canada (July 6, 2015 Geneva, Switzerland) Kwe, n’in teluisi Pam Palmater.   I am from the sovereign Indigenous Nation of the Mi’kmaq in Mi’kma’ki, Canada. I am here as an impacted Indigenous individual thanks to the support of Franciscans International. Today I would like to testify to three urgent situations related to Canada’s obligations under the Covenant which are also raised in the joint submission presented by the NGO Mining Working Group in response to the List of Issues which I fully support: First, the criminalization of Indigenous peoples in Canada for our human rights advocacy and defense of our lands. Federal and provincial laws and regulations have criminalized Indigenous peoples’ traditional occupations and trade economies by making it illegal to hunt, fish, gather or use our natural resources within our traditional, treaty, title, trapping or reserve land