Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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Technology and Words Changing First Nations – Right or Wrong?

25/08/2012

I was offered the opportunity to participate in an Ontario Power Authority initiative  – Giibimidowing Gidakiiminaan – Keeping, Respecting & Caring For Our Land Treaty #3 Conference – August 21 – 23, 2012 in Kenora, Ontario at which I jumped readily.  It was my opportunity to motivate, encourage & talk about possibilities – in renewables, but even beyond.

My dealings with First Nations, in the past, have taught me that I am but a stranger, an outsider to them.  How would I know anything about who they are or how they live?  Perception & reality are significantly different in my books.  However, I always make it a point to speak from the heart and this opportunity was no exception.

So off I flew to Thunder Bay where I met some of the other speakers and together we set off by car to Kenora, Ontario.

Trees, grass, water.  Clean air. True blue skies.  Not like the haze many have grown to become accustomed to in the Greater Toronto Area.

Sunset in Kenora, Ontario – beautiful, priceless

However, this area is not without its environmental – economical – technological – societal problems, quite the contrary.  Another type of unhealthy haze has been inflicted, and it is one that separates us huge concentration of southerners from the realities & truths of those living in the true north (which people in Kenora laugh and say they consider themselves in the south of the the north!).

Kenora, Ontario, some 5 hours drive from Thunder Bay – 3 hours drive from Winnipeg, Manitoba, lies in Treaty #3 First Nations area.  Unfamiliar with Treaty #3 and its’ important historical significance in Canada?

“Treaty 3 was an agreement entered into on October 3, 1873, by the Ojibway Nation and Queen Victoria. The treaty ceded a vast tract of Ojibway territory, including large parts of what is now northwestern Ontario and a small part of eastern Manitoba, to the Government of Canada. Treaty 3 also provided for rights for the Métis and other Ojibway, through a series of adhesions signed over the next year.

It was the third in a series of eleven numbered treaties between the Crown and North American First Nations. Despite being the third of these treaties it is in fact more historically significant in that its text and terms served as the model for the remainder of the numbered treaties. Treaties 1 and 2 covered an area about the same size and in fact had to be amended to reflect some of the developments arising out of the negotiation of Treaty 3. At the time that it was negotiated it was anticipated that the terms of Treaty 3 would serve as a model for future treaties and would require the amendment of Treaties 1 and 2 [Letter from Minister of the Interior Campbell to Lieutenant-Governor Morris, 5 August 1873, Public Archives of Canada (“PAC”), RG10, vol. 1904].

Treaty 3 has particular historical significance because of the litigation that ensued between the Crown in Right of Ontario and the Crown in Right of Canada over the significance of the treaty and the respective roles of Canada and the provinces in relation to aboriginal peoples. The first of these cases is the St. Catharines Milling v. The Queen [(1888), 14 App. Cas. 65 (P.C.)] which dealt with the question of the ownership of lands subject to a treaty (a question that was decided in favour of the Province). The second, A.G. (Canada) v. A.G. (Ontario), [(1910) A.C. (P.C.)], dealt with the question of whether or not Ontario had to indemnify Canada for the expenses incurred in negotiating the treaty and the ongoing costs of fulfilling the treaty obligations. Canada lost this case as well with the Supreme Court of Canada and the Privy Council holding that Canada was responsible for Indian affairs and the welfare of Indians and that the treaty had been negotiated to achieve broad national purposes (such as the building of the transcontinental railway) rather than to benefit Ontario. The significance of these decisions is still a matter of discussion in the Canadian courts.

Treaty 3 is also significant as there exists a written record of the native peoples understanding of the treaty. This is known as the Paypom document. It is a series of notes that were written for Chief Powassin during the treaty negotiations, and documents the promises that were made to the First Nations people. The promises in the Paypom document differ in a number of ways from the printed version available from the Canadian government.” – wikipedia

As a result, First Nations has no trust in outsiders and their talk about this and about that.  Not just with this treaty, but with a number of ‘agreements’ and/or ‘contracts’ and/or ‘initiatives’, many First Nations takes the stance that others don’t live up to their end of the ‘bargains’.  This is not to say there are no First Nations people who develop trust or ally themselves with others, however, they do with much caution.  In either case, I don’t blame them.

Making a long story short, I spoke my presentation from the heart and managed to connect with many, like Willy – a 74 year old elder, who has been attending all kinds of meetings and gatherings about the community, “… since 1981.” he said.

“I’m not afraid of progress. But.  There is a right way and a wrong way of doing it.” he almost whispered at me, as his aged wise eyes looked at me, the breeze blowing about his straw coloured, long hair.

Willy, an Elder from Treaty #3 has been attending community meetings since 1981.

First Nations Treaty #3 has a number of issues that are affecting their communities, and in no small manner.

3 hydro electric dams stand at the centre of much controversy.  First Nations describe how the frogs have disappeared.  No longer do the sturgeon grow.  In September of 2011, Grand Council Treaty #3 filed an application for judicial review. Respondents are the Province of Ontario as represented by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).  The main issue at the centre of this review is the Respondents failure to perform their “duty to consult” in good faith with First Nations.

“… the Ontario Energy Minister’s direction to the OPA to develop the Hydroelectric Contract Initiative (HCI) without Aboriginal consultation. In question is the OPA’s development and implementation of the  HCI, the decision by OPA to enter into an HCI contract for existing hydroelectric generating facilities (Calm Lake, Sturgeon Falls, Fort Frances, Kenora, and Norman) in Treaty 3 territory with ACH Limited Partnership (ACH). As of May 2011, these dams are owned by Calgary based BluEarth Renewables Inc.” – GCT3  (Please read here for full text)

Sounds as though, once again, people are not living up to their ends of ‘bargains’ … and so the cycle continues.

How about the proposed ‘solution’ of dumping toxic nuclear waste into the communities up there?  (Click here for full text of story.)  Nuclear Waste Management was on the agenda for the discussions as well.  Their displays, which likely cost thousands and thousands of dollars, took a whole day to put up, I watched it.  They were complicated, showed large pictures of business people and were overwhelming, even for me.

In no way is this an effective way of communicating to First Nations … and again, the cycle continues.

There’s more.

In December of 2011, Treaty #3 launched an education lawsuit against the federal government – the reason? ” … a breach of their treaty right to education.”

Inexperienced teachers & disintegrating schools.  Yes, it’s real and not fixed, even if Mike Holmes has drawn attention to the appalling living conditions, as he did in his December 2011 CBC article entitled, “Stop building junk on reserves.”

And if that doesn’t get you, let’s just go deeper down the rabbit hole and talk about how shocking Pikangikum truly is.

If you have never heard of this place, you need to.

In 2000, this First Nation was given the horrible and terribly sad title of, “Highest Suicide Rate in the WORLD” (I used wikipedia as a reference, but that info is not complete & certainly paints a picture leaning toward female inhalant abuse. It’s way more than that, affecting all.)  And, it hasn’t stopped.

In fact, this area is especially worse than ever.

I met a local from the area who shall remain nameless, due to the sensitivity of this information.

In March of 2012, MacLean’s published a story called, “Living and dying in Pikangikum.”  While it does speak to the horrors of life up in the area, it surely isn’t giving up the whole picture.

Picture a home, barely a structure, empty. No beds, no appliances, nothing.  A First Nations woman, standing in the middle of it, with utter desperation in her eyes.

Where to get another $500.00 together for just one more tab of Oxycontin.

Yes, comfortable ladies and gentlemen, reading this online, having encountered this sad article somehow through the internet because you are able to.

One tab of Oxy goes for $500.00, usually split into 4 – so 1/4 tab per person at $125.00.

How about a mickey?  A mickey of alcohol is $250.00.

Who controls all this?  I won’t write it out loud, but they surely are not angels.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves, allowing such injustices to continue to First Nations.  In fact, one of the Elders, a ‘Grandma’ said,

“First it was smallpox.  Now this.  Why not just give them smallpox and be done with it.”

It is not right to have our eyes shut for us to this, or for us to shut our eyes to it ourselves.

So, if you didn’t know about all this, dig deep.

Go even deeper and talk to First Nations.  What?  You can’t or don’t know how to? That’s bull. Keeping us separate is an excellent way to keep the cycle of abuse going.  I have and no, I don’t always believe everything … whether it’s from the government or from First Nations.  But I have observed this now myself having been there and there is no denying that while technology can most definitely be used to improve the quality of all of our lives, it has also become apparent that it can also create great problems that cannot be swept under the rug: it’s as simple as having the power to transport in drugs and alcohol to remote locations and turn viable people into zombies walking around ghost towns, as some really evil people are capitalizing on the genocide of a people.

But don’t believe me.  As I said, go find out for yourself.  And if you do not find this sad, shocking, angering, then perhaps all is lost and we live in a soul-less, money loving people filled country.

I hope that some of you reading this can connect even more dots in between with the mind-bending and twisted way some of our communities are merely being given perceptions, words & stories that makes the “jobs & prosperity” buzz over resources & technologies sound so great.

If we have such wonderful communication technologies, how come we seem to have difficulty in communicating, educating, negotiating & consulting with First Nations?  If guns kill people, spoons are making Harper fat.

It is also my hope that heartfull, responsible people will step-up and champion the introduction of new ways that are right, to the benefit of our communities and the children of our future.

But what do I know?

OPA Conference for Treaty #3 – Youth & Elders Forum

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Do you know who Lech Walesa is? You should. He’s coming to Occupy Wall Street.

14/10/2011

For those of you who don’t remember: Lech Walesa climbed over a fence around the Gdansk shipyard in 1980 as part of a protest against the Communist regime in Poland. He was persecuted both before and after that iconic event;  fired, arrested, jailed, his family spied on. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 but sent his wife to accept it because he was afraid the regime would not let him return to Poland if he left. Oh, and after the regime fell he was the first democratically elected President of Poland. He did as much to free Poland from the Soviets as anyone else. Even Ronald Reagan called him one of the world’s greatest labor leaders (I know, it’s a Reagan endorsement, kinda like “don’t tax the rich” however) – of course, he was causing trouble for the Soviets at the time.

Point is. He made waves. Across the world.

Lech Walesa is a big deal. And he’s coming.

“How could I not respond,” Walesa told a Polish newspaper Wednesday. “The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is something I understand.”

“The people united will never be defeated”. Which reminds me: the name of Lech Walesa’s union.

Solidarność = Solidarity

SOLIDARITY arrives at Occupy Wall Street

source:kosdaily

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Canadian Environment Law Assc. Publishes Report About CETA Negative Environmental Effects

14/10/2011

Improve the Canadian and European-Union trade agreement to better protect the environment, says Canadian Environmental Law Association

TORONTO, Oct. 14, 2011 /CNW/ -Today, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) published a report about the negative environmental effects that could result from the Canadian and European-Union trade agreement, currently in its final stages of negotiations. The proposed trade agreement is the most comprehensive trade agreement to which Canada has ever been a party. It is set to be negotiated in Ottawa from October 17 – 21; its 10th and likely final round. According to CELA’s report, if major drafting changes are not made, the ability of government, both national and local, to enact public interest environmental measures could be compromised.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY CETA IS BAD

Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director, says “it is critical that trade agreements to which Canada is a party are carefully drafted so that public interest environmental laws are protected. Otherwise, economic arguments can be used against enacting or enforcing strong environmental laws.”

Some of the most controversial elements potentially proposed for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) include the unprecedented liberalization of essential public services, such as water, and the inclusion of a controversial investor-state dispute settlement clause. The narrow definition of ‘environmental laws’ and narrow exceptions for those ‘environmental laws’ from stringent liberalization provisions are also of concern. All of these proposals would restrict national and sub-national levels of Canadian government from enacting environmental laws in the public interest.

CETA is only the second time in Canadian history where parties to a trade agreement include provinces, and the first time that municipalities are bound. These cause CELA further concern because CETA, as presently drafted, will open up local regulations and policies of provinces and municipalities to direct competition and challenge from European corporations.

CETA’s impact on future economic, social, and environmental development in Canada and the EU will be considerable. For these reasons, the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s report insists that this agreement presents a critical opportunity for the inclusion of clear and strong environmental safeguards to ensure sustainable economic development in Canada and improve on environmental standards established in pre-existing trade agreements.

For the CELA analysis and drafting recommendations, see the report at
http://www.cela.ca/publications/report-environmental-impact-canadian-european-union-comprehensiveeconomic-
and-trade-ag.

For further information:Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association, 416-960-2284 ext. 219, c: (416) 662-8341

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Japan Legal Action Against Ontario Green Energy Act “Concern” for WTO – International Institute Sustainable Development

11/10/2011

IISD convenes meeting at WTO – international trade/investment laws

GENEVA—October 11, 2011—The International Institute for Sustainable Development has convened a one-day meeting of specialists from the climate change and the international trade law communities aimed at developing a better framework to address unilateral trade-related action on climate change, at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva on Thursday.

“Several high profile measures have already sparked legal challenges in the WTO, a clear sign of things to come,” said IISD senior advisor and associate Aaron Cosbey.

The most prominent case is the action Japan has brought against Canada over Ontario’s Green Energy Act, which provides preferential incentives to green energy (solar and wind), but only if it uses components manufactured by local manufacturers. If Japan succeeds, it could mean lost jobs and a roadblock to Ontario’s ambitions to be a clean energy exporter.

“This is a major concern to all members of the WTO, as the uncertainty has stalled critical and urgent investments in clean energy infrastructure and other climate change-related investments,” said Cosbey.

Despite the urgency, Cosbey said it will still take years to establish a framework to deal with the complex issues. “This meeting is just the beginning, but the issues are so important we expect a lively and productive discussion at the very least.”

He said the aim is to foster greater international cooperation in an effort to keep investment flowing in the direction of initiatives that help countries develop the infrastructure needed for climate change adaptations and mitigation.

The meeting will also look at issues around border carbon adjustment, which pose serious challenges for international cooperation on trade and investment, as well as in the ongoing climate change negotiations.

Please see the agenda for a full list of presenters at the conference: Trade, Investment and Climate Change: Searching for Progress on Key Issues,on October 13, 2011.

source: IISD

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Ontario Tries to Understand “Green”

07/09/2011

I spent this afternoon participating in a meeting of some of Ontario’s biggest green supporters. And we are talking about real people, who, simply put, see green in Ontario as a way of life. It’s not up for debate. It’s not about economics. It’s not about politics. It’s about our lives & its up to us to take action.

What I got out of the discussions is such a bonus: people are really starting to see the way. The hardest part: trying to find a common term that Ontarians can relate to without some kind of political stigma or ‘guilty by mis-information association’ or bad press. (I think big industry like oil & gas stick their noses in it everywhere to bend perspectives).

The simple truth of the matter is that we should be looking at balance. Oil, gas & other ‘ungreen’ energies are not going to disappear overnight.  But they can be replaced & changed with green, renewable energy.

The Green Energy & Economy Act is not something we should dismiss. I have written several posts about the Government’s Federal Sustainable Development Act & the GEEA, by comparison, is truly far superior & respectful of green & the opportunities & possibilities it presents and this is because of its specificity to producing energy in ways far more beneficial to the health & environment of Canada. And we can further use it & improve it to move forward.

There is no legislation, economic model, accord or contract that ever makes all the people happy all the time. What we can do here in Ontario, is use our collective intelligence to improve & enhance the Act, creating better & more – not taking away from & having less.

Green is a term is being loosely used & abused on political terms in Ontario, and is quite abandoned & manipulated on a Federal level. Green is neither scientific or define-able. It is our heart & soul and way of life, about loving our country & leaving a clean legacy to our children. It cannot be branded or taken away or labelled. There is no compromise here, because it is about life.

The opportunity to take action as a real person is here. Keep the GEEA. We are a leader in North America & in the world and can further expand, enhance & create in order to protect our lives. Let’s keep moving forward from here.

Don’t take it from me, here are some Twitterers who are very knowledgeable:

@OntarioSEA

@JimHarris

@EnviroDefence

@Go2CleanBreak

@DavidSuzuki

And a personal fave, I’ve had dinner with him & his wife, the real authority on renewables, Mr. Paul Gipe at http://www.wind-works.org

But what do I know?

🙂

peace

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POLL: How is Sustainability Defined Legally in Canada?

05/09/2011

Do you know what sustainability is under the Canadian Federal Sustainable Development Act?

Was hoping to get an idea from interested participants by responding to the following:

 

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Petition – No More Off Shore Drilling – No More Oil Spills

14/05/2010

This oil spill is a global environmental disaster. The only way to stop this in the future is to end the mad dependency on oil now.

Please visit the site and sign the petition.

STOP OFF SHORE OIL DRILLING PETITION

But what do I know?

🙂

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