UPDATE 20.02.2020: As RCMP remain on Wet'suwet'en Territory the call for solidarity actions continues!
There is still an extreme RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en land. We expect them to heavily guard and facilitate CGL access to unceded territories without Free, Prior and Informed consent from the Hereditary Chiefs. That is a declaration of war. The eviction notice to CGL given on January 4th, 2020 still stands and will continue to be enforced with the full power and jurisdiction under Wet’suwet’en law. We encourage all supporters to stand strong in solidarity with this struggle. It is far from over. Hereditery Chiefs traveled to the Mowhawk blockade to thank the communities holding down the rail blockades in solidarity with their demands. With the BC and Federal government refusing to meet the demands of the Hereditary chiefs, the need for solidarity action and pressure continues. ICC MUST INDICT ELIZABETH II AND JUSTIN TRUDEAU.
Canada’s colonial settler policies alive and well
By Jim Miles — 19. February 2020
There is a lot of obfuscation and sloganeering about the Canada wide protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation of British Columbia and their resistance to corporate and governmental greed in pushing a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory.
Last night (Monday, February 17, 2020) a CBC reporter cited – and probably paraphrased closely – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as saying his “most important relationship is with indigenous people.”
This morning I Iistened to parts of the press conference with the indigenous First Nations leaders and then listened to the Parliamentary leaders make their comments the House of Commons.
The phrase the “most important relationship is with indigenous people” does not ring true, other than perhaps for the publicity factor. The reality is the proverbial “forked – tongue” – saying positive things to the indigenous people concerning reconciliation, and then acting indifferently to long standing problems while corporations supported by Canada’s military and militarized police continue to grab land for their own profit.
Yes, some water systems have been upgraded, and a few homes have been built, and corporations have built some reserve infrastructure as a way to successfully buy over various Indian bands. But the reality is not the superficial mechanical fixes for problems on reserves that have been created by the colonial-settler policies of the Indian Act and its incorporation into the Canadian constitution; the reality is of a people being pushed off their own lands, treaties ignored, land annexed for railroads, highways, agricultural land, in other words: ethnic cleansing, and if the residential school system is added on to the diseases and starvation created by the white settlers (originally fur traders and gold seekers), genocide.
The solutions are actually quite straightforward but fly in the face of the people who in reality have the “most important relationship” with Trudeau – the CEOs of the corporate-financial world whether they are Canadian or from the U.S. or Europe.
The solution is to give title to the indigenous people within those areas where no title has ever been ceded and to honour the treaties of those who mistakenly signed treaties with the British colonial settlers many decades ago. From then and then only will the governments of Canada and the provinces be able to “discuss”, to “negotiate” towards solutions to other problems resulting from the ongoing colonial-settler mentality of corporate officers, politicians, and security services of various kinds.
Rule of Law
An oft cited platitude from the Prime Minister is his fondness for the “rule of law”. In his speech this morning Trudeau warned against conflict in the present circumstances and not to “boil it down to slogans” “Rule of law” is certainly the most overused slogan in both Trudeau’s liberal lexicon, and even more so with the opposition Conservative party.
Most laws are made to benefit those making the rules and are not necessarily made to apply justice. Rule of law also is served up differently by the courts and the police, with the wealthy and powerful – individuals and corporations – generally receiving more favorable interpretations than the poor – and the natives.
The Wet’suwet’en have not ceded their traditional tribal lands. The band council operates on the ‘rule of law’ as propagated by the Federal government today and historically. The
law” is highly discriminatory, setting up different categories of “Indian” and controlling who can be on the councils and what their actual powers are. The ‘law’ decided on where the reservations were to be placed - most commonly on unproductive land. Thelaw’ kidnapped native children to send them to Christian operated schools in order to deny them their cultural heritage through their language and learnings from their elders. The ‘law’ annexed large tracts of land for white settlers, and significantly for the railways – which makes them an obvious target for demonstrations.
The hereditary chiefs are in charge of traditional lands, those not “given” to the bands as reservations (can you give people their own land?). The only way the government can have jurisdiction over unceded territory is through wilful acquiescence of the indigneous people – most commonly received through individual greed or communal duress – or by militarized force. Both are common in Canada.
For Justin Trudeau to demonstrate “his most important relationship” he would pay attention to justice and not to the rule of law. Justice for the Wet’suwet’en would recognize their title to their traditional lands. Justice for the Wet’suwet’en would be a quick removal of the Indian Act and allowing them to govern themselves within their territory. That removal would open up immense areas for discussion across Canada, but that is exactly what all parties in Parliament are calling for – except of course the Conservatives who want more ‘rule of law’ police and military action against the natives land protectors.
Natural gas is not ‘green’
The environmental arguments for B.C. natural gas production are not valid. While the gas remains in the ground it is clean, the fracking process – the fracturing of the landscape using huge amounts of water poisoned with extractive chemicals – is very environmentally destructive. These costs to the environment are not considered by the corporations or the government when assessing the economic benefits of the project – otherwise there would be no economic benefit in the long term, only short term job creation benefits and short term extraction profits for the corporations.
Natural gas may be a cleaner carbon energy source to transport and then to burn, but it does not benefit the atmosphere. More carbon is still being pumped into the air, adding to the ever increasing load of carbon dioxide. Methane, eighty times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, is a significant problem stemming from the production, storage and transport of natural gas.
This issue is where the CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, failed the public at the end of the above presentations. First off, when it came time for Green Party leader Elizabeth May to speak in the House, they turned their cameras away to the newscaster, who then put his own interpretation on – erroneously in my mind – what the Bloc Québecois leader Yves-François Blanchet said. Elizabeth May is the most informed person in the House when it comes to environmental concerns and is probably equally well informed on indigenous issues, especially in British Columbia where the majority of unceded land is located.
Most important relationship
It would be wonderful if Justin Trudeau’s most important relationship was with the indigenous people rather than with the corporate world. However until he actually does more than talk, and then talk some more, making vague promises and emitting nice sounding homilies, he is simply extending the colonial settler practices of all Canadian governments: bypass the indigenous people and ignore harmful effects to the environment.
He is not the only one to blame, but he is Canada’s current leader. This is an issue that affects all Canadians both from an historical perspective as a colonial-settler society imposed on an indigenous people, and from the perspective of current events, where ‘rule of law’ conflicts with justice and environmental issues.
Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.
Little concrete action in Trudeau's blockade speech, says Indigenous policy analyst
Russ Diabo wanted to hear a plan forward in House of Commons speech
CBC Radio - 18. February
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's speech addressing the blockades in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs lacked a plan to resolve the situation, according to an Indigenous policy analyst.
"I wanted to hear the prime minister say what concrete steps he's going to take to resolve the situation with the Wet'suwet'en, because the RCMP assault on them is what triggered all the support actions across the country, including in the Mohawk community," Russ Diabo, a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake and the editor of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin, told The Current's host Matt Galloway.
In his speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the government is committed to "dialogue" with the Indigenous protesters who have been blocking rail lines, bridges and ferry routes across the country in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in northern B.C.
Diabo said that while reports of potential shortages of propane and consumer goods in Canada due to the rail blockades were "regrettable," he believed that it was up to Trudeau to resolve that issue.
He argues that the prime minister should meet with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs directly, and direct the RCMP to leave their territory.
"The one thing I agree with [Trudeau] on is that they're talking, but it has to take more than talk — they have to take action," he said.
"If they don't do that, I think you're going to see this situation continue."
The cross-country protests erupted following a multi-day raid by the RCMP on a Wet'suwet'en camp earlier this month.
Hereditary chiefs and their supporters had been blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which would run through their traditional territory.
Diabo said that Mohawk Nation protesters have told him they are in contact with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
They plan to maintain the blockades until the RCMP leaves Wet'suwet'en territory and Coastal GasLink workers agree to leave and find an alternate route for the pipeline
Diabo, who was a founding member of the Aboriginal Peoples' Commission of the federal Liberal Party in the early 1990s, said he was discouraged by Trudeau's speech on Tuesday.
"We've heard platitudes from the prime minister for the last four years … about reconciliation, 'nation-to-nation,' decolonisation, he has co-opted a lot of that terminology," he said.
"But as our people have seen, he says one thing and does another."
Diabo said he believed the Trudeau government bore a significant responsibility for the protests because, while the government has invested heavily in on-reserve programs including for education and infrastructure, Diabo said it has done little to address Indigenous land rights issues.
"He's been focusing on programs, not rights," he said.
While in his first term in office, Trudeau committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The declaration includes articles on restoring Indigenous lands or giving Indigenous people restitution for them. Diabo said that he was disappointed to see little action had been taken on those land rights issues.
"A lot of the people expected them to do that, and they didn't," he said.
When the arrests on Wet'suwet'en territory happened earlier this month, Diabo said, "that reverberated across the country, because many people share the same feeling that the land rights issues that are unresolved have to be settled."
Written by Allie Jaynes. Produced by Samira Mohyeddin, Peter Mitton, Cameron Perrier and Idella Sturino.
Canadian Economy Takes Hit from Wet’Suwet’en Solidarity Actions
By info - 18. February 2020
The current blockades across the land known as Canada, done in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, whose land is currently occupied by the RCMP, are a long-overdue reckoning. The purpose of the blockades is to impose economic pain on Canada. This is fitting as Canada has undermined, weakened and destroyed the economies of Indigenous peoples since before Confederation.
Sharing the Land
The historic treaties that govern relations between settlers and Indigenous peoples across much of Canada are statements of land-sharing. The image of the Two Row Wampum expresses this most explicitly. The two rows of purple on a white background symbolize a friendship between two peoples continuing to live according their own customs.
The original peoples and the settlers used the land in different ways and sharing seemed both possible and desirable. If we apply a contemporary perspective, the treaty ideal was for two economies to flourish side-by-side.
The form and scale of early settler economies was limited enough and small enough that Indigenous economies could continue. Further, the settler economies produced different goods, which allowed for beneficial trade with the Indigenous economies.
As settlers moved West and treaties were signed with the original inhabitants of the land, one consistent promise was that Indigenous people could continue to hunt, fish, trap and gather freely almost everywhere in the treatied territory. However, as settlers spread across the land, Indigenous economic practices were curtailed and criminalized. Far from being allowed to continue their traditional practices, Indigenous people were corralled onto reserves.
Zero-Point-Two Percent Economy
The late Indigenous scholar and leader Arthur Manuel pointed out that the poverty endured by many Indigenous communities is the result of economic strangulation. He connected that strangulation directly to the land. Manuel argued that the settler-colonial practices of the Europeans and Canada shrank the economic base of Indigenous Peoples from 100% of the land to a mere 0.2% of Canada. Canada has ignored the underlying Indigenous title and the promise to share the land. By proclaiming the exclusive right to grant access to the land and its resources, Canada has made itself rich while making Indigenous people poor.
No single metric can express the disparity that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. However, even imperfect measures like income per capita and Statistic Canada’s Community Well-Being Index show the stark difference. The income of First Nations people, living on reserve, is about half of non-Indigenous income. The Community Well-Being Index includes income, education, employment and housing. The index is 25 percent lower for First Nations communities compared to non-Indigenous communities.
Neither of these measures captures the harms associated with economic activities that disproportionately affects Indigenous communities. Alberta tar sands extraction is associated with abnormally high cancer rates. Mega-dams, like the one planned for Muskrat Falls in Labrador and Site C in British Columbia, are associated with mercury poisoning for those that fish and hunt downstream. An area around Sarnia, Ontario, densely populated with petrochemical plants, known as ‘Chemical Valley’ produces high levels of air and water pollution in neighbouring Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The camps used for large-scale infrastructure projects like pipelines, referred to as ‘Man Camps’, often brings violence to neighbouring communities, especially against women. Indigenous communities and peoples are the primary victims.
For centuries, Canada has made it difficult, if not impossible, for Indigenous communities to develop and sustain their own economies. At the same time, they treated those communities as less valuable and less important than settler communities. The Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline is just the latest example.
The hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en told Coastal GasLink (CGL) that they did not approve of the company’s proposed route. However, they offered an alternative route that followed already disturbed landscape. Coastal GasLink rejected the proposal. Among the reasons cited by the company for the rejection was the route’s proximity to non-Indigenous communities of Smithers, Houston, Terrace and Kitimat.
The violation of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, the threat to lands that support Wet’suwet’en economic practices, and the contravention of their customs of land stewardship were considered unimportant. More important to the settler governments, and their courts, is the development by settler corporations of resources that will overwhelmingly bring jobs and income to settler communities.
The Cost of Solidarity Occupations
The violation of Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction has triggered widespread resistance by Indigenous people and settler allies. Numerous solidarity blockades, and other actions, have shutdown several rail systems and demanded the attention of the Trudeau government. The purpose of the blockades is to impose economic costs on Canada.
The government of Canada systematically prioritizes its economic well-being over the well-being of Indigenous people. This is “business as usual” in Canada. These blockades are a declaration that business as usual is over. Canada is finally having to account for the damage it has done to Indigenous peoples.
Estimates of how much the blockades are costing the Canadian economy place the figure in the billions. However, it is impossible to get an accurate value. Consider the sixty-six or more ships that are waiting off the B.C. coast for the blockades to end. Every day these ships act as floating storage facilities, is a day they are not able to deliver other goods. That is lost income for the shippers. The delay of the goods they hold is disrupting carefully managed supply chains. That requires an incalculable amount of effort to reorganize. Some production facilities may run short of essential inputs, forcing them to shut down. While the railway companies are obviously impacted, the trucking companies that carry goods to and from the rails will also be losing work.
With a few strategically located blockades, solidarity actions are seizing up large portions of the integrated Canadian economy. Since Canada’s is a global economy, the effects will be felt beyond our borders. This brings yet other costs. Non-Canadian companies will be more reluctant to do business with Canadian companies that are exposed to the risks and uncertainty associated with unacknowledged Indigenous jurisdiction.
Business as usual is done. Now, the government will either back down from its illegitimate and illegal incursion into sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory, or it will resort to force to bring an end to the blockades targeting the Canadian economy. Hopefully, it chooses the path of peace and friendship that was the basis of the original treaties.
Gas Industry admits vulnerability of pipeline operations
Operations at U.S. Natural Gas Facilities Disrupted by Ransomware Attack
By Eduard Kovacs on 19. February 2020
A ransomware infection at a natural gas compression facility in the United States resulted in a two-day operational shutdown of an entire pipeline asset, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) revealed on Tuesday. ... Read More