“We are a diverse group of people who have come together against the Israeli occupation and against the massacre. However,” says Kash Nikazmrad, an organizer with Students for Justice in Palestine, “every massacre, every occupation, every act of colonialism always has a mechanism and a supporter. The supporter in this situation has been America.” Nikazmrad is one of the organizers behind the Los Angeles “Stop The Massacre in Gaza” events. Judging by the (in)action of Congress, it is hard to dispute Nikazmrad’s claims. When it comes to Israel and Gaza, there is unanimous agreement. As Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss sums up:
In a continuing effort to build relations and stand with Indigenous peoples, CUPE sent a delegation to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) 35th Annual General Assembly from July 14 to 17. This year’s assembly in Halifax, Nova Scotia (the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq), drew more than 300 First Nations leaders, youth and elders. The chiefs in assembly discussed treaty implementation, ways to gain First Nations control of First Nations education, funding for post-secondary education, fracking on First Nation territory, reconciliation and justice for survivors of residential schools, among many other issues. The assembly delegates passed a resolution renewing their commitment in calling for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The assembly held a special tribute, standing in a “Circle of Hope” in honour of over 1,100 murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls reported in Canada. CUPE fully supports the call for a national public inquiry.
The Unist’ot’en Camp, a pipeline blockade on unsurrendered indigenous land in the interior of British Columbia (BC), peacefully evicted a pipeline crew that was found trespassing in their territories earlier this week. The crew was conducting preliminary work for TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which the company hopes will carry fracked gas from north eastern BC to Canada’s pacific coast. Where the eviction took place, multiple fracked gas and tar sands pipelines have been planned without consent from the Unist’ot’en clan. The clan has never surrendered their lands, signed treaties, or lost in war to Canada or BC. Under a system of governance that predates Canada by thousands of years, the Unist’ot’en have taken an uncompromising stance: All pipelines are banned from their territories. “We’re not willing to sit down at any table with them because our firm answer is no… An official letter with the clan’s letter heading and the chief’s signature will go to the company and mention that they were evicted off our territory and that they’re not permitted back and that if they come back it’s trespass,” Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en camp’s leader, explained. If TransCanada is caught trespassing again, Unist’ot’en’s laws will be strictly enforced: “They’ll leave without their equipment.”
Greenpeace and the Inuit have joined forces to protest Arctic seismic testing, warning that plans to gauge oil and gas reserves with high-intensity sound waves in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait pose grave dangers to marine life. Inuit activists are staging a protest Wednesday in Nunavut’s Clyde River, a tiny Baffin Island hamlet just above the Arctic Circle, a week after Greenpeace took their cause to the United Nations. An Inuit environmentalist also took aim at Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, a Nunavut MP, accusing the Conservative government of “cultural genocide” for its efforts to open up the Arctic to oil and gas exploration. “We depend on these waters for food and the very existence of Inuit life depend on them,” said Niore Iqalukjuak in an open letter to Aglukkaq in the Nunatsiaq News. “We fear that what the Conservative government is doing is a cultural genocide and will end the Inuit way of life as we know it. … You are our representative. Speak up on our behalf.” Aglukkaq’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Iqalukjuak’s letter or on the protest being held in Clyde River. Greenpeace, meantime, has thrown its support behind the community.
On July 31, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation will head to the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto and are calling on supporters to join them “in a walk for clean water and indigenous rights.” Two days before, on July 29, there will be a speaking event with Grassy Narrows Clan Mother Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister, writer and activist Leanne Simpson, and Stephen Lewis. Here’s why: It is shocking that neither Canada nor the province of Ontario have recognized even one case of mercury poisoning in the 50 years since the province allowed 10 tonnes of mercury to be dumped into the Wabigoon River, which provides numerous communities with water and fish. It is even more shocking that this river has never been cleaned up and continues to provide these communities with water and fish. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency advise that any spill larger than 2 tablespoons of mercury should be reported to the state environmental agency, and it is mandatory to call the National Response Center. But just north of the border, tonnes of mercury can be put into river systems with little concern about cleanup, remediation and human health – apparently. Citizens of Grassy Narrows, however, can’t afford to ignore mercury contamination. Grassy Narrows, or Asubpeechoseewagong in Anishnaabe, is located in Treaty 3 territory in northern Ontario. It is one of the communities still facing the impacts of the Dryden pulp and paper mill’s reckless disposal of mercury more than a half century after the spill.
“We recognize that we must confront the plundering by transnational companies and the harassment of bad governments through their political parties that offer programs and money that corrupt many leaders and divide our communities,” states the declaration of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) of the Isthmus region, which took place in March 2014. While a furious battle has been unleashed for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture in other communities in Mexico and Latin America, in Oaxaca, new legislation is being debated on this very theme while large-scale projects continue to advance.
I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples’ rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples’ representatives had ever been invited to IFAD’s offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do. Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky’s name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters.
Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) announced they will no longer participate in the TransCanada Grand Rapids Pipeline hearing citing impossible timelines and prejudice within the process. The First Nation is referring to the project as the “Mother of All Pipelines” feeding projects like the Energy East Pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline projects. “The AER put us in an impossible position. I am dumbfounded by this process,” stated Adam before he continued to speak about the obstacles the ACFN has faced in trying to get action from both government and industry to adequately address their concerns. Adam spoke about how TransCanada consistently showed little regard to actually addressing the concerns raised by the ACFN and were more concerned with how much it would cost to “buy us off.” Adam added, “this new [Alberta Energy Regulator] regulatory process is fundamentally flawed. It is supposed to be the test of the new regulatory regime for oil and gas and pipelines in Alberta. Yet, it has seriously undermined our efforts to address any concerns about First Nations impacts.”
Some First Nations chiefs are willing to get arrested to stop Enbridge’s proposed pipeline project. Numerous legal proceedings were filed in appeal court seeking to overturn the federal government’s decision to move forward with the plan. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he is prepared to go out onto the land itself to oppose activities being brought forward by Enbridge‘s contractors. “For myself personally it won’t be the first time that I have been arrested in that situation and it won’t be the last time,” he adds. Phillip says this effort is not about money. It’s about the sea, the environment and indigenous land rights. “We will stand with our brothers and sisters in the courtrooms, and if necessary we will stand with our brothers and sisters in solidarity on the land itself,” he warns.
Palestine has always been the underdog, a country slowly being wiped off the map, a society daily and methodically being dismantled by Israel. As a principally unarmed and oppressed indigenous population, Palestinians are perceived as powerless against the military supremacy of Israel’s technological death industry, persistently outmanoeuvred by Israel’s political cunning and endlessly bullied by a Western world that has made a game of diplomacy and intrigue from our miserable fate. We’ve lost so much to Israel’s boundless plunder. Over and over, we lose. Home, heritage, life, dignity, security, hope, culture, narrative, orchards and olives, history and artifacts, livelihoods, innocence, language and identity. They’ve excavated our souls, renamed our villages, poured concrete over our ancient cemeteries, made brothels of our churches and mosques, and claimed our hummus, falafel and maqlooba as the traditional food of Jewish foreigners who daily arrive to take our place.
When Germany and Argentina square off in the Word Cup Final, the whole world will be watching the culmination of what may be the most exciting FIFA World Cup Tournament ever. What most people are unaware of, however, is the brutal conditions that FIFA creates to pull off the games.
When Jana-Rae Yerxa and Damien Lee organized the first #SettlersinSolidarity teach-in in Thunder Bay this June, they expected the lightly advertised event to draw a handful of attendees. To their surprise, they found themselves in front of a roomful of more than 40 participants. “You could tell that people were just hungry to have a different conversation about racism,” says Yerxa, who is Anishinaabe from the Couchiching First Nation. What Yerxa and Lee thought would be a modest beginning has developed into a loose network of non-Indigenous Thunder Bay residents coming together to educate themselves in the wake of several months of heightened racist commentary in mainstream and social media. In Thunder Bay, Vancouver and other locations, non-Indigenous Canadians are meeting together in growing numbers to explore what it means — and doesn’t mean — to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples within Canada.
British Columbia First Nations are wasting no time in enforcing their claim on traditional lands in light of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title. The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice Thursday to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave their territory along the Skeena River in a dispute with the federal and provincial governments over treaty talks. And the Gitxaala First Nation, with territory on islands off the North Coast, announced plan to file a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Appeal on Friday challenging Ottawa’s recent approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta. The Kwikwetlem First Nation also added its voice to the growing list, claiming title to all lands associated with now-closed Riverview Hospital in Metro Vancouver along with other areas of its traditional territory. They cite the recent high court ruling in Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia.
On June 24, 2014, 7 Toj in the Mayan calendar, Indigenous groups from all over Guatemala took part in national protests and roadblocks to bring attention to the continued discrimination and injustice faced by the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala. Among the main priorities on the list of grievances were the discriminatory telecommunications laws and the mining and hydroelectric companies exploiting Indigenous territories. Our team took part in the march in the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela), in the department of Quetzaltenango. The march in Xela began at 8 am from three different entry points into the city center. The three groups would all meet for a larger demonstration in the Central Park of the city later that morning. Our team met with friends from Radio La Doble Vía and Asociación Mujb’ ab’l yol close to the terminal at the north west side of the city. Arriving there, it was shocking to imagine that this crowd represented only a third of the number of people that would be in the Central Park for the demonstration later on. An enormous crowd of mostly Maya Mam and Maya Kiche Indigenous groups were standing in front of Minerva Temple, with signs in hand, cheering along to chants like “Un pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” or in English, “United, we will never be defeated!”
Imagine the government taking away your two children in a hearing that lasts less than 60 seconds. Madonna Pappan and her husband, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, don’t have to imagine it, because it happened to them. And they’re not alone: An American Indian child in South Dakota is 11 times more likely to be sent to foster care than a non-Indian child. Imagine receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for serving as a go-between in the sale of two small $5 bags of marijuana. That’s exactly what happened to Fate Vincent Winslow, an African American homeless man who says that he accepted the offer of an undercover police officer for a $5 commission in order to earn some money to get something to eat. Mr. Winslow is now serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, in Louisiana for this and his other prior non-violent crimes. In that state, African Americans are serving life without parole sentences for nonviolent crimes at approximately 23 times the rate of whites. Nationwide, an estimated 65.4 percent of the prisoners serving such sentences are African American.