Monthly Archives: March 2010

Six women sit in at Indian Affairs Minister’s Office: Pledge to Stay Until Conservatives Restore Funding to Aboriginal Healing Foundation

This report was written by Members of Missing Justice and appeared on the The Media Co-Op, a project of The Dominion News Cooperative.

Six women sit in at Indian Affairs Minister’s office: pledge to stay until Conservatives restore funding to Aboriginal Healing Foundation

OTTAWA – Today at noon six women began a peaceful sit-in in the Minister of Indian Affairs’ Chuck Strahl’s Ottawa office in the Confederation Building to protest the Conservatives’ cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) and to demand restoration of the funding. Supporters are holding a rally outside. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is a non-profit, Aboriginal-managed agency which supports community-based healing efforts addressing the intergenerational legacy of abuses from the residential school system.

“It’s been less than two years since Prime Minister Harper’s apology to survivors of the residential schools, yet the Conservative government is ready to shut down programs specifically aimed at helping the healing the Prime Minister spoke about,” says Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of Missing Justice, a Montreal-based grassroots organization.

The Conservative budget did not renew funding to the 134 AHF-supported healing projects across the country, forcing many organizations to shut down as of March 31, 2010, when the cuts take effect.

“Strahl says the government will support residential school survivors in other ways, but these cuts will jeopardize many vital programs and interrupt all the progress being made towards health and well-being,” says Nakuset, the Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter in Montreal, which will lose a third of its funding and be forced to cut three employes, including a sexual assault counselor.

An evaluation commissioned by the federal government in December 2009 found that no other existing programs could match the AHF’s rate of success. They also applauded the organization’s fiscal management.[1] Read the rest of this entry

From Queen Charlotte to Haida Gwaii: The Ascent of the Haida and the Struggle with Canada

Martin Lukacs of The Dominion News Cooperative reviews Ian Gill’s book All that We Say is Ours: Guujaaw and the Reawakening of the Haida Nation.

MONTREAL—Metaphors greet you everywhere in Haida Gwaii. Visiting the storied archipelago cradled by northwest British Columbia last summer, I walked into the office housing the Haida’s renewable energy project—a bold plan to build Canada’s first offshore wind farm. The Haida aim to install more than a hundred 50-metre turbines on their coastline, in partnership with the province and a private energy company. At a price tag of $2 billion, of which the Haida would cover $240 million, it is projected to power 130,000 homes on Haida Gwaii and throughout BC. Despite criticism about the costs and the technological uncertainties of gigantic turbines, the Indigenous nation’s leadership has forged ahead confidently.

As I sat down to peruse some pamphlets, I was disturbed by a screeching noise. The secretary insisted it was construction outside. But as I looked around the office, I located its real source: a replica wind-turbine, barely a half-metre in height, was grinding and whining on its gears, struggling to achieve its purpose as window decoration.

Fanciful towers, a floundering toy—the irony of the episode was inescapable, and a poignant reminder of the tension between the Haida nation’s enormous ambitions and the mundane obstacles they must still overcome. The obstacles are those faced by Indigenous communities across this country: poverty and economic dependency, cultural and linguistic dislocation, low education rates and poor health—the constellation of problems spawned by decades of dispossession and debilitating government policies. The Haida, however, have refused to be hindered as they unwind the past and remake their future, a story well told in Ian Gill’s recently published All That We Say is Ours. Read the rest of this entry

Indigenous People Bar Proposed Pipeline from their Territories

This first appeared on Intercontinental Cry.

A coalition of Indigenous Nations have issued a declaration barring the proposed Enbridge Northern gateway pipeline from transporting crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands through their territories along Canada’s west Coast.

The coalition of nine First Nations say the project, regardless of any economic benefits it may hold, poses an imminent threat to the environment, as well as their territories, cultures and livelihoods.

The Enbridge pipeline–stretching 1,170 kilometres to a deepsea port in Kitimat, B.C–would be stapled to a number of indigenous territories and and cross more than 1,000 rivers and streams before reaching through the delicate ecosystems of the west coast, including the Great Bear Rainforest.

“We all believe the Enbridge Gateway pipeline project is a threat to the very existence of our culture and our way of life,” says Art Sterritt, executive director of the Coastal First Nations.

Speaking about the Great Bear Rainforest, he states, “An oil spill there would be devastating to the environment… It would literally wipe out all of our cultures. And we know it is not a question of if, but when there would be an oil spill.”

A backgrounder by the Coastal First Nations explains that Enbridge recorded 67 spills from its pipelines in 2006 and 65 spills in 2007. Indeed, oil spills are far more common than the public has been led to believe.

In addition to the pipeline, more than 150 supertankers–roughly one every two days–would traverse the coastal waters to pick up the crude oil and export it to various countries.

The Supertankers are being compared to the infamous Exxon Valdez Supertanker, which spilled 40 million litres of crude oil into Prince William Sound 21 years ago. Each of the BC supertankers would hold about 300 million litres. Read the rest of this entry