Canada and Indigenous peoples 2020

Written by  //  July 12, 2020  //  Canada  //  Comments Off on Canada and Indigenous peoples 2020

Canadian Encyclopedia Pipelines in Canada
Delmaguukw decision
Tsilhqot’in decision
Canada: Energy & pipelines
Time to acknowledge evidence:
Parliament Hill sits on Indigenous territory

Indigenous supporters of Coastal GasLink say
majority of Wet’suwet’en members back project

26 May
Gary Mason: The Wet’suwet’en deal could be a recipe for disaster
(Globe & Mail) When we last left the great pipeline dispute involving the Wet’suwet’en Nation, governments in Ottawa and B.C. were trying to bring calm to an ugly feud that had ignited railway blockades across the country.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the imbroglio suddenly seemed like a far less urgent priority.
As it turns out, however, the disagreement that began when a small group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters obstructed construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. was not being entirely ignored. On the contrary, an extraordinary deal was being worked out between the two levels of government and a handful of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs that has the capacity to fundamentally alter politics in this country forever.
It also has the potential to be viewed, ultimately, as a horribly one-sided sellout by British Columbia and Ottawa.
The details of what the memorandum of understanding – hammered out between the two sides throughout April – entails have largely only been gleaned through leaks to the media. Most controversial among those details: It recognizes and hands power to the hereditary leaders within the Nation, not the elected chiefs. If you’ll recall, it was the hereditary chiefs who opposed the pipeline, while the elected chiefs, in the main, supported its construction as a means of generating revenue that could help lift their communities out of poverty.
According to the hereditary chiefs, this deal, if ratified, would make the Wet’suwet’en the first Indigenous nation in Canada to be recognized as having aboriginal title over its territory – which includes the right to decide on the uses of that land. The two sides have set out a timeline of 12 months to work on the finer details, including areas of jurisdiction. They include child and family wellness, water, wildlife, fish, lands and resources, among others.
On the surface, reasonable Canadians might think that it’s about time. This type of agreement was inevitable, given the courts’ consistent messaging around rights and title. In other words, Ottawa needed to start dealing with the issue, as politically and economically fraught as it might be.
But you would also think that a concession of authority on this level would come with some sort of “in-return” promise by the Wet’suwet’en. But that does not appear to be the case. Asked what they gave up to secure the pact, the hereditary chiefs made it clear in a communiqué to their community: “Absolutely nothing.”

11-12 July
Quebec-Indigenous relations improved after Oka Crisis, but could be stalling under Legault
A younger generation of Indigenous leaders and activists say it’s time for province to commit to change
(CBC) Since the late 1990s, more provincial money has been set aside for the economic development of Indigenous communities, a landmark resource agreement was signed with the Cree in 2002 and, last year, Premier François Legault issued a public apology for Quebec’s mistreatment of First Nation and Inuit peoples.
Many Quebec governments have been content, in the past, to defer to federal jurisdiction when it comes to Indigenous issues. That, however, is an increasingly difficult position to maintain.
Supreme Court decisions have, if unevenly, done more in recent years to recognize ancestral land rights. These decisions have allowed Indigenous communities to claim more control over things like hunting, fishing and resource development — areas that fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Did Canada learn anything from the Oka Crisis?
By Sean Carleton, assistant professor in history and native studies at the University of Manitoba.
(Globe & Mail opinion) July 11 marks the 30th anniversary of what is commonly known as the Oka Crisis. In the summer of 1990, a 78-day standoff (July 11 to Sept. 26) occurred between the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawks) of Kanesatake and the Quebec provincial police and Canadian military. For many Canadians, armed police officers and soldiers facing off with Indigenous land defenders appeared to be a crisis. But for the Mohawks of Kanesatake, the standoff was simply the most recent event in a 270-year struggle for their land rights.
The clash at Kanesatake was supposed to be a turning point in Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. In the years after, the Canadian government promised to never again let land disputes develop into costly conflicts. In the 30 years since, however, Canada has not delivered on that promise. The 30th anniversary of the Oka Crisis is an opportunity to reflect on the past and also take stock of the current state of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada to envision a better future.

16 June
Trans Mountain oil spill bolsters Sumas First Nation opposition to twinned pipeline
‘It’s not going all that well as far as Indigenous involvement,’ says chief about spill response
(CBC) An oil spill at a Trans Mountain pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, B.C., over the weekend has bolstered the Sumas First Nation’s opposition to seeing the pipeline twinned through its territory.

28 May
‘Genius’ or ‘Amoral’? Artist’s Latest Angers Indigenous Canadians
The Canadian Cree artist Kent Monkman is celebrated for paintings that reflect the lives of Indigenous people, but some feel his new work goes too far.
(NYT) The image suggests themes of sexual violence and humiliation. And instead of cheers, the painting, released on social media this month, has inspired anger among many Indigenous people who say Mr. Monkman has gone too far.
Critics have described the painting as culturally degrading “revenge porn” that equates rape with retribution.

3 April
Grassy Narrows First Nation and federal government sign agreement to build on-reserve mercury care home
Grassy Narrows First Nation, or Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek, and the federal government have reached an agreement for an on-reserve care facility, which will serve people in the community who are suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning.
Indigenous Services Canada officials said $19.5 million will go toward the construction of the Mercury Care Home, and they are working toward obtaining additional funding to support operation of the care facility.
The agreement comes after years of discussion, which began in 2017 when the Indigenous Services Canada pledged to build the facility for the community that has been plagued by mercury contamination since the 1960s.

10 March
Ending Polite Canadian Betrayals
Despite the lip service Liberals pay to Native tribes, they consistently pick oil interests over the rights of Indigenous people. Can that change?
By Audrea Lim
(NYT Opinion) When Justin Trudeau became prime minister of Canada in 2015, he promised a new relationship with Indigenous people, “built on respect, rights and a commitment to end the status quo.” He promised funding for Indigenous cultural activities and education. He called for recognition of Aboriginal land rights. But he has also continued to support the expansion of Canada’s fossil fuel industry onto new lands, an expansion that has always depended largely upon ignoring, if not flagrantly violating, the desires and rights of Native people.

5 March
Coastal GasLink estimates $115-million in payments to elected Wet’suwet’en band councils over 25 years
(Globe & Mail Exclusive) Coastal GasLink estimates that its B.C. pipeline project would pump $115-million during a 25-year period to five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils and generate more than $60-million in construction contracts for local Indigenous businesses in the region.
Five elected Wet’suwet’en councils along the controversial pipeline route would receive the cash distributions totalling $4.6-million a year, also known as “annual legacy payments” that would last a quarter-century. The five councils have supported the pipeline.
Those estimates are set out in a letter sent in 2014 by Coastal GasLink to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society governed by hereditary chiefs.
Hereditary leaders and environmental groups have characterized the elected Wet’suwet’en councils’ agreements – the financial size of which have been kept secret for years – as a strategy by Coastal GasLink to buy the support of Indigenous people.

3 March
Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs demand inclusion in negotiations with government
The division between elected and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en has been exposed by the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their traditional lands. Now, as the hereditary chiefs are on a fast track to settle Indigenous rights and title, elected leaders who have approved the pipeline project say they cannot be ignored.

2 March
Wet’suwet’en chief says he’ll withdraw support for pipeline if his people turn against it
Chief Dan George says he wants all Wet’suwet’en members to vote on the Coastal GasLink pipeline
(CBC) George said the question of community support for the pipeline should be part of expected discussions among Wet’suwet’en members on a tentative agreement reached over the weekend between hereditary chiefs, Ottawa and the B.C. government.
That tentative agreement on land and title rights has not been made public; Chief George has yet to see it. The proposal needs to be ratified by the Wet’suwet’en Nation for it to be final.
“We need to come to a Wet’suwet’en solution together … The whole nation should come together and discuss both the agreement and the pipeline itself,” said George, whose band is one of five Wet’suwet’en First Nations that have signed deals with Coastal GasLink.
“Who’s for and who’s against? Every Wet’suwet’en member should be involved one way or another. It started out from the Wet’suwet’en people and the Wet’suwet’en people need to fix it.”
George said he doesn’t want the fate of the natural gas pipeline to rest solely in the hands of a few hereditary chiefs.
Figuring out how to get all the Wet’suwet’en members together to sort out of the pipeline dispute won’t be easy, George said, adding he still wants everyone to have a say.
“Hopefully, we can come to some sort of mutual decision together,” George said. “How are we going to get everyone involved since half of our people live off of reserve and half of our people live on-reserve?”

1 March
Proposed agreement reached between Wets’uwet’en chiefs, gov’t ministers after 3 days of talks
A proposed agreement on land rights and title has been reached between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and government ministers, bringing three long days of negotiations in northern B.C. to an end and tentatively resolving a longstanding dispute over the First Nation’s traditional territory.
Yet the forward-looking agreement reached between the chiefs, federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and her B.C. counterpart Scott Fraser does not apply to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, meaning the contentious project is still going ahead as planned for now.
Good summary of events to date

How Justin Trudeau’s patience with rail blockade protests came to an end

28 February
Open letter to Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs after Tsayu clan meeting
“It seems strange that the house chiefs that did most of the logging off the (Delgamuukw) ruling, and are retired from the industry, are now against a new industry helping the next generation,” Troy Young.
(Vancouver Sun) I heard discussion of the laws from my great-grandmother, and while I’m not an expert, I did learn the basics. I am still learning from the chiefs I talk to, from my clan and my father clan. Unfortunately, I see our laws being changed or cast aside during this event in our territory, mostly to justify the actions of some of our house chiefs, who act to make the outside environmental activists that have come into our territory happy. It seems they have been manipulated to fight their fight.
Blair rejects Kahnawake Mohawk offer to replace RCMP with peacekeepers in Wet’suwet’en territory
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has turned down the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s offer to have its peacekeepers head up a temporary Indigenous police force to patrol traditional Wet’suwet’en territory instead of the RCMP.
“The RCMP are the police of jurisdiction working under police contract with the B.C. government in that territory and in most of non-urban British Columbia,” Blair said on CBC’s Power & Politics on Friday.
[Grand Chief Joe] Norton said he spoke about the idea on Thursday with federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller and Justice Minister David Lametti.
Kahnawake Peacekeepers propose similar Indigenous police force in B.C.
Chief Peacekeeper Dwayne Zacharie is calling for the creation of an Indigenous-led police force that would replace the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en land in northern British Columbia. This addresses a key demand from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs resisting the construction of a natural gas pipeline across their territory.

24 – 27 February

To build bridges, not barricades, learn from the Cree Nations of Quebec
Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Northern Quebec and President of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government
(Globe & Mail) For the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, the situation echoes 2002 – which marked the peak of decades of bitter conflict with Quebec. It was a conflict defined by an unfortunately all-too-common threat posed by large-scale resource development to traditional ways of life, based on hunting, fishing and trapping. We were forced to turn, time and again, to the courts, and to international organizations, to defend our rights. The conflict became so intense that our relations with Quebec broke down completely.
With no end in sight to the conflict, Quebec premier Bernard Landry and our Grand Chief, Ted Moses, agreed to talk and listen to one another as equals. The result of those discussions was the agreement that has come to be called the Paix des Braves. It marked a turning point in Cree-Quebec relations based on mutual respect, establishing a nation-to-nation partnership between the Cree and Quebec in the governance and development of our traditional territory of Eeyou Istchee.

Pipeline construction paused as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs prepare to meet federal, provincial ministers
Chief Na’Moks, one of several hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline across Wet’suwet’en traditional territories, said the chiefs agreed to the meeting after TC Energy said it would stop work in the Morice River area near Houston, B.C.
“The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs thank our supporters for their tireless dedication and now the chiefs need time to have discussions with B.C. and Canada in an atmosphere of wiggus (respect),” read a statement from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en on Thursday.
RCMP have also agreed to stop patrols on the Morice Forest Service Road while the meeting is underway, a statement confirmed.
The long-sought meeting between the ministers and hereditary chiefs is set to be held at a hotel in Smithers, B.C., and continue Friday. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett arrived in the northwestern town on Thursday morning.
B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser will arrive from Victoria in the afternoon. Earlier Thursday, the minister said he was eager to find a “path forward.”
The talks on Thursday and Friday will be a preliminary round of discussions. Whether the chiefs and governments decide to proceed with further meetings will depend on what progress is made.
The statement from the Wet’suwet’en office said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan declined their invitations to meet “at this time.”
Mohawk leaders blast Legault’s ‘disrespect for minorities’ as premier refuses to apologize for AK-47 claims
‘Facts are facts,’ Legault said, doubling down on vague allegation of assault weapons in Kahnawake
Not helpful, but necessary reading
David Suzuki: Pipeline actions signal need for true reconciliation
(Georgia Straight) Actions by and in support of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders are as much about government failure to resolve issues around Indigenous rights and title as they are about pipelines and gas.
Some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their people are defending their rights to traditional practices, clean air and water and a healthy environment. They say the Coastal GasLink pipeline threatens those rights. The $6-billion pipeline, to ship fracked gas 670 kilometres from Dawson Creek to Kitimat for liquefying and export, is part of a heavily subsidized, $40-billion LNG Canada project owned by Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corporation, and state-owned Petronas (Malaysia), PetroChina and Korea Gas Corporation.
The hereditary chiefs suggested an alternative route, but the pipeline company nixed it as too costly. The company and government point to support from elected chiefs and councils along the pipeline route, many of which have signed benefit-sharing agreements as a way to gain much-needed money for their communities.
New protests and blockades crop up across Canada after Monday’s Ontario police raid
Protestors halted commuter rail service in multiple provinces and defied an injunction to return to the steps of the B.C. legislature.
‘Disappointment, fear and anger:” Indigenous communities blindsided by Teck’s decision to pull Frontier project
The Fort McKay Metis was one of the 14 Indigenous groups that had signed benefits agreements with Vancouver-based Teck for Frontier, a proposed 260,000 barrels per day oilsands mine that would have required 7,000 people to build it.
Liberals still ‘open for dialogue’ with Indigenous protesters as police dismantle blockades
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the government is still willing to negotiate and aims to ensure all the blockades come to an end

23 February
Second Wet’suwet’en hereditary subchief speaks out against protest leaders
“These five so-called hereditary chiefs, who say they are making decisions on behalf of all Wet’suwet’en, do not speak for the Wet’suwet’en,” Gary Naziel said. “They are neither following nor abiding by our traditional laws. They are changing them to suit their own purposes, to benefit themselves,” he told The Globe and Mail.
In doing so, Mr. Naziel adds, many hereditary chiefs and matriarchs are being disrespected, bullied and targeted. This echoes what Rita George, a hereditary subchief and expert in Wet’suwet’en law, said on Thursday. Mr. Naziel, from the Laksilyu (Small Frog) Clan who was groomed for leadership from birth, says the Wet’suwet’en name “is being dragged through the mud and used by other First Nations across Canada to wage their own battles.”
The Wet’suwet’en Nation is organized into five hereditary clans and 13 houses, or subgroups. Each of those subgroups has the position of house chief, also known as head chief, and secondary leaders known as subchiefs, such as Mr. Naziel.
A growing movement of hereditary chiefs is considering taking action against the five men, possibly by blockading the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society governed by hereditary chiefs, which is known locally as “the OW,” he adds.

21 – 22 February
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs arrive in Kahnawake for historic meeting
Traditional chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation arrived in Kahnawake, Que. on Saturday to meet with traditional Iroquois leaders and the leadership of Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
The hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en have been touring Mohawk communities in eastern Canada, where rail blockades have been set up in solidarity with their cause.
Campbell Clark: Trudeau puts pressure on Indigenous leaders to back down – but his gamble may backfire
(Globe & Mail) There was more than one message in Justin Trudeau’s call for the barricades to come down. One was that the government was losing patience, and that there soon would be action. The other was that Indigenous leaders now had a last chance to intervene to persuade protesters to end the blockades, and that public support for reconciliation was on the line.
That second message was Mr. Trudeau’s last faint hope at having Indigenous communities end the blockades before police step in. The government has always been concerned that that could make things worse, sparking violence or more blockades, the Prime Minister acknowledged. Now, he was making a direct appeal to Indigenous leaders to not let that happen.
Coastal GasLink sent back to the table with Indigenous leaders
Provincial officials give company 30 days to address Wet’suwet’en concerns
The company has been given 30 days by the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to hold those talks before resubmitting its final report for approval.
In a letter, obtained by CBC News, to both sides, the EAO says it received feedback from some Indigenous groups, and this week determined there are particular issues that still need to be addressed in order for the project to go forward.
The project was previously approved by the province, pending certain conditions.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Woos says there will be no talks on ending rail blockades until the RCMP leaves their territory and all work on a natural gas pipeline ceases. (video)
‘The barricades need to come down now,’ Trudeau says
Federal government’s focus will remain on finding ‘peaceful and lasting resolution’ to rail blockades, says PM
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that while Canadians have been patient with protests that have blocked rail traffic in parts of the country, the situation is “unacceptable and untenable” and the barricades must come down.
Despite those efforts, he said, every attempt at dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs behind the initial protest has failed to deliver a resolution.
“We cannot have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures,” he said.
‘Time has come for those barricades to come down,’ Bill Blair says of Wet’suwet’en blockades
Premiers tell Trudeau ‘patience is wearing thin’ with Indigenous-led blockades
Premiers, Liberal MPs push for a swift end to protests crippling rail network
The protests have put 1,500 railway workers temporarily out of a job and disrupted the transport of food, farm products, consumer goods and essential items like chlorine for water and propane for home heating.

20 February
‘It’s none of their business’: The Wet’suwet’en people who want the protesters to stop
The protesters are drawing the ire of many in the Wet’suwet’en Nation who not only support the project, but see it as a way for the community to flourish.
It’s why 20 elected First Nations signed their support of the project. Calgary-based TC Energy is developing the $6-billion pipeline.
…on Wednesday, about 200 people gave up three hours of their afternoon to pack a movie theatre in the community of Houston, a town of about 3,000 people in northwestern B.C., in the heart of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.This was a pro-pipeline event as members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation explained why they support construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The people who came out to the meeting say they want to see the natural gas pipeline built. They say the project will create well-paid jobs that will bring economic opportunities to their communities. … The Wet’suwet’en people at the event said they resent the protests because they aren’t helping their community, which they say already has fractured governance. They say the protests have amplified the conflict in the community and distracted Wet’suwet’en people from resolving their differences.

19 February

Jonathan Kay: Canada’s Epic Rail Crisis Offers the World a Cautionary Tale on Indigenous Mantras
(Quillette) “land acknowledgments” have been common for years in Australia, New Zealand and my own country, Canada. Originally intended as a tribute to the legacy and rights of Indigenous peoples, they quickly became assimilated into the rote protocols of public life, from school assemblies to town-council meetings. Some university professors now post them on their office doors, much like a secular mezuzah.
The practice is rooted in good intentions, and originally had real educational value. Indigenous lands in what is now Canada often were seized through a mixture of brutality and theft. In many cases, the reserves on which Indigenous peoples now live don’t even correspond with traditional territories: Tribes typically were expelled from fertile lands for the benefit of white farmers, and often were left to languish in remote flood planes with little economic value. As Canada urbanized, these communities and their histories became invisible to most Canadians. Land acknowledgments were conceived, in part, as a means to remedy this ignorance. As Toronto officials put it, the goal is to remind us “of the enduring presence and resilience of Indigenous peoples.”
Predictably, many conservatives have criticized land acknowledgments as a form of institutionalized progressive activism—especially when it comes to the more elaborate variants, which urge us to be “mindful of broken covenants” and the need to “strive to make right with all our relations.” But even some progressives rightly complain that such pronouncements burnish the bona fides of white orators without actually benefiting Indigenous peoples in any direct way. …the functionality of modern societies (Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike) depends on some predictable and unified understanding of property rights. …the more ambitious land-acknowledgment rituals that have become fashionable in Canada present a much broader message. In many cases, they convey the idea that Indigenous peoples retain a real—if vaguely defined—moral ownership over the entire country, not just the areas that they control through treaties or other legal instruments.
…as this week’s chaos in Canada indicates, the associated ideas have real consequences. Having spent years solemnly acceding to Indigenous moral authority over every field and tree, and repeating a liturgy of white predation within “unceded” lands, politicians now find themselves paralyzed by groups of Indigenous-led or -inspired protestors who are invading rail lines, bridges, legislatures and highways in opposition to pipeline development. This includes Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal government is urging a resolution to the growing crisis, but seems to have already ruled out any use of force.
We are now witnessing the largest service disruption in the modern history of the Canadian National Railway, with the tally of blocked cargo already well into the billions.
The victims here include not just millions of affected Canadian commuters and businesses, but also Indigenous groups themselves. The current round of protests was initiated in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, one of more than a dozen First Nations whose traditional lands will be traversed by a new gas pipeline in British Columbia. But the construction process was preceded by lengthy consultations, through which the elected Wet’suwet’en leadership formally approved the project (and its associated economic benefits). By contrast, the pipeline opponents are hereditary Wet’suwet’en dissidents who, having had their views rejected within their own community, are playing to an audience of white environmentalists and like-minded Indigenous protestors in other parts of Canada. Since the easiest way for the federal and provincial governments to appease these protestors will be through negotiated dividends and payouts of some kind, the likely effect will be to weaken band governance: The spectacle proves that any Indigenous dissident now can bypass elected local leaders, and even become celebrities in the leftist Toronto press, simply by mobilizing a mob.

On The Current: Our national affairs panel discusses how the Liberal government is handling rail blockades over a proposed pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory; and two Wet’suwet’en members give us their perspectives on whether solidarity protesters should join the demonstrations.
Ottawa ‘clearly’ sees a path forward to defuse rail blockades: Miller
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says there is a clear “path forward” to defuse the ongoing tensions caused by protests that have hamstrung the country’s transportation network, despite some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs refusing to meet until the RCMP leave their territory.
Pipeline approval record reveals conflict with Wet’suwet’en years in the making
Documents from B.C. approval process reveal fraught battle behind conflict roiling the country
The root of the current clash can be found in reasons given for an environmental assessment certificate issued by B.C.’s ministers of environment and natural gas development on Oct. 23, 2014.
The province acknowledged concerns from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and other Indigenous groups — and gave the green light to the project anyway.
Wet’suwet’en: Why B.C. is a battleground for Indigenous land rights
Why Coastal GasLink says it rejected a pipeline route endorsed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

18 February
$4.7B ‘Grande Alliance’ agreement in northern Quebec is called Cree vision of development
Both Quebec and Cree say deal is better model that could avoid conflict, blockades
(CBC) The Cree Nation Government says a $4.7 billion economic development project signed Monday with the province of Quebec is the Cree vision of development and represents a “clear break from the past colonial and paternalistic government policies” that kept their communities underdeveloped.
The Grande Alliance project includes a road, a railway and a deep sea port for the most northern Cree community of Whapmagoostui, located on the shore of Hudson Bay, currently accessible only by air.
The deal also includes 700 kilometres of new railway between the non-Indigenous Abitibi community of Matagami and Whapmagoostui, as well as hundreds of kilometres of new and upgraded roads and new power lines, according to Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum.

Saving the planet means listening to Indigenous peoples: Wade Davis
‘We in the West, with our way of thinking of the natural world, we are not the norm — we’re the anomaly.’
(CBC) The Canadian anthropologist, Wade Davis, has spent a lifetime learning from the Indigenous peoples of the world, and their relationship with the planet we all share.
For him, the big question is whether we can learn from these “wayfinders” as he called them in his 2009 CBC Massey lectures. He believes that the future of humanity — and its present — depends on listening to Indigenous peoples: to what they know of the world, to what they have to teach us; and how they can help our species both survive, and thrive.
In his lectures, Davis described the myriad cultures on our planet as the “ethnosphere”, by which he means the “sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination.”
Now, 10 years after he delivered his Massey lectures, the University of British Columbia professor looks back on what has changed on our planet — for better and for worse.
…an excerpt of his conversation at the Stratford Festival with psychiatrist David Godbloom.

Not often that we agree with anything from the Fraser Institute, but this is an exception.
Don’t be fooled by ShutDownCanada or misleading claims from dishonest activists
By Tom Flanagan
These First Nations are small, poor and remote. They don’t have many economic opportunities. The average income of their members is about half the provincial average. Coastal GasLink is their best—perhaps only—way out of poverty. That’s why their elected governments have endorsed the pipeline.
So where’s the opposition coming from? A faction of the Wet’suwet’en, the hereditary chiefs who claim that only they—not the elected band council—can give consent to the pipeline. Again, don’t be misled. There is no basis in the Canadian Constitution, legislation or judicial decisions for this claim.
Many of the protestors swarming the B.C. legislature or blocking highways and railways across the country are not members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation or any other First Nation. They are the usual crowd of environmentalists and anti-capitalists. For many, their goal is to destroy the market economy that’s created so much prosperity and the democratic government that protects our freedoms. They want a government of activists, where they will call the shots. Their hashtag says it all—#ShutDownCanada.
Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a genuine movement for social justice. These are outsiders exploiting a division within one First Nation in the hope of creating chaos on the ground.
Canada is a free country. If the protestors stay within legal limits, let them speak. If they break the law by obstructing buildings, roads and railways, let the police do their job of re-establishing the civil order on which we all depend.
Wilson-Raybould says she is willing to act as mediator in rail blockade talks (video)
“Would you be willing to go and act as a mediator in this situation?” Wilson-Raybould was asked Tuesday on CTV Power Play.
“Of course I would. I mean, this is a fundamental issue that is facing our country. It has been facing our country since we became a country. It’s one of the reasons why I got involved in politics,” Wilson-Raybould replied.
“Certainly if the prime minister were to reach out to me, I would lend a hand however I can.”
Aaron Wherry: Reconciliation, the rail blockades and the problem with asking for ‘patience
Canadians might be more willing to wait – if they knew what they were waiting for
Andrew Coyne: Yes, the blockades are illegal. No, they should not be met with force
John Ivison: Address Indigenous rights and land claims or face prospect of a lawless alternative
If there is a silver lining in the impasse, it is that more Canadians are coming around to the idea that a new deal with the Indigenous population is needed
[Trudeau] made repairing the relationship with Indigenous Canadians central to his election platform in 2015. He stood up in the House of Commons two years ago and unveiled plans for a rights recognition framework that was scheduled to be in place before the last election.
If he’d actually done what he said he was going to do – by putting forward a legislative solution that placed Indigenous people in control of their own destinies – we might not be in this mess. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation would be resolving its own governance issues between hereditary and elected chiefs, rather than the former fomenting discontent across the country.
…governments must pursue a dual track of improving security – taking more stringent steps to safeguard critical infrastructure – while creating conditions for more happy outcomes – recognition of Indigenous land title and rights.
The good news is that most First Nations see no future in confrontation and are committed to peaceful co-existence, as long as it is accompanied by mutual respect.
An Environics poll last year indicated three quarters of Indigenous youth are optimistic about reconciliation.
Trudeau asks for patience as rail blockades continue, bars Scheer from leaders’ meeting
Addressing the House of Commons Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to be patient with his government as it seeks a negotiated end to Indigenous protests that have crippled the country’s transportation network.
Trudeau said his government is committed to “dialogue” over the use of force with the Indigenous protesters who have shut down CN Rail in Eastern Canada and much of Via Rail’s services nationwide by blocking a key artery in southern Ontario. CN announced it is “temporarily” laying off about 450 workers at its Eastern Canadian operations.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau’s call for more talks with the protesters has emboldened “radical activists” who are intent on holding the Canadian economy hostage.
In a forceful response to Trudeau, Scheer said the prime minister’s reluctance to use the police to stop the illegal blockades was akin to appeasement, a stance that privileges activists over “hard-working Canadians” and Indigenous people who support development.
Trudeau held a meeting with opposition leaders later Tuesday but didn’t extend an invitation to Scheer. Speaking to reporters after the talks, Trudeau said Scheer’s speech signalled he isn’t willing to cooperate.
Kanesatake Mohawk grand chief faces backlash after calling for end to rail blockades

17 February
Derek H. Burney: Enough is enough. Clear the blockades, restore the rule of law
Dialogue is no prescription for those who refuse to listen because they believe themselves to be custodians of the only truth
Nationwide rail blockades could go ‘from an inconvenience to a real harm,’ says CEO
Murray Mullen of Mullen Group calls Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs a ‘small interest group’
(CBC) I wish we could do it through consultation. … I think every Canadian would say, “Can we not resolve this?” But you’re not going to resolve the issue, in my view, through blockades.
I mean, what else do you do at this point, when when no one is listening to you, when you’re sending in the RCMP to break up a barricade instead of sitting down and talking to people? What else can you do at that point except protest?
Well, I don’t have the answer to that, but is it OK for small interest groups to hold the whole country hostage after the rule of law has been applied?

15 February
Bob Rae on Facebook:
This is what Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the Tsilqot’in decision:
“Where Aboriginal title has been established, the Crown must not only comply with its procedural duties, but must also justify any incursions on Aboriginal title lands by ensuring that the proposed government action is substantively consistent with the requirements of s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 . This requires demonstrating both a compelling and substantial governmental objective and that the government action is consistent with the fiduciary duty owed by the Crown to the Aboriginal group. This means the government must act in a way that respects the fact that Aboriginal title is a group interest that inheres in present and future generations, and the duty infuses an obligation of proportionality into the justification process: the incursion must be necessary to achieve the government’s goal (rational connection); the government must go no further than necessary to achieve it (minimal impairment); and the benefits that may be expected to flow from that goal must not be outweighed by adverse effects on the Aboriginal interest (proportionality of impact). Allegations of infringement or failure to adequately consult can be avoided by obtaining the consent of the interested Aboriginal group. This s. 35 framework permits a principled reconciliation of Aboriginal rights with the interests of all Canadians.”
From this we can see three things: 1. Aboriginal title must be established (see Delmaguukw decision). Once established, title is not absolute, but can be infringed by the Crown (BC or federal government) but that infringement has to be justified. 3. Consent can deal with infringement issues.
Now that so many things are contested, is it possible for Canada, BC, the Hereditary Chiefs, Band Councils and pipeline companies to agree on a stated reference with an agreed set of facts and an expedited schedule to Supreme Court of Canada, and agree to abide by outcome ?
Jonathan Kay: Railroading of elected bands betrays progressive hypocrisy
The social-justice extremism that has been largely confined to campus life and obscure pubs has metastasized to the world of normal human beings
… there is nothing that now signals goodness in Canadian public life more than the land acknowledgment. Certainly, no one can argue with the historical truth that Indigenous peoples populated Canada for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. But words have meaning. And the well-understood meaning of these acknowledgments is that Indigenous peoples exercise a sort of broad, vaguely defined moral sovereignty over lands “owned” by Canadian governments, corporations and private citizens — including the lands on which we have constructed roads, rails, ports and legislatures. And since this sovereignty apparently now may be asserted at any time, for pretty much any reason, we have effectively lost the ability to enforce the systematic organization of property rights on which every functional society, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, depends.
‘Modest progress’ made in 7.5 hours of talks over Ontario rail blockade, says Indigenous Services minister
The Ontario blockade, combined with similar efforts in B.C. and Quebec, resulted in Via Rail suspending passenger train service nationwide and Canadian National Railway Co. shutting down freight operations for Eastern Canada on Friday.
The Mohawk agreed to meet with Miller after he sent an invitation to some Mohawk leaders on Wednesday. Miller requested the meeting, he said, to “polish the silver covenant chain,” which the Mohawks say refers to one of the original agreements between the First Nation and the Crown.
Miller acknowledged the difficulties that the blockades have caused for travellers and businesses, but stressed that the government’s approach was to negotiate, rather than have police dismantle them.
The approach worked in B.C., where protestors blocking CN train tracks near New Hazelton in northern B.C., agreed to end their protest after both the provincial and federal governments agreed to sit down with Gitxsan hereditary chiefs.
Still, with new blockades and protests popping up in different places almost daily, the Liberal government risks losing control of the situation.

14 February
Who are the protesters? ‘There’s a lot of people that aren’t from these communities, that aren’t Aboriginal’
For some in the Wet’suwet’en Nation, the solidarity protests are getting out of hand
(National Post) Protesters standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are only inflaming an already intense situation, and have disregarded the years of consultations conducted with First Nations along the pipeline route, says Ellis Ross, who served for 14 years on one of the 20 elected band councils that signed an agreement with Coastal GasLink.
An opinion piece from a supporter of the hereditary chiefs.
The Wet’suwet’en are more united than pipeline backers want you to think
Amber Bracken: The difference between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and elected chiefs is rooted in Aboriginal title, an issue that the Government of Canada continues to leave unresolved
Canada: protests go mainstream as support for Wet’suwet’en pipeline fight widens
(The Guardian) Set amid dense evergreen forests near the bank of the Wedzin Kwah, or Morice River, the remote cabins at Unist’ot’en camp have become a place of healing for Indigenous youth, who take lessons on trapping and traditional medicines. But the camp in north-western British Columbia is also the last line of defence in the Wet’suwet’en nation’s fight against a controversial natural gas pipeline.
The long-simmering conflict came to a head this week, as Canada’s national police force deployed helicopters, armed officers and dogs to enforce a court injunction and clear Indigenous activists who had been blocking work crews from the route of the C$6.6bn (US$5bn) Coastal GasLink project. Twenty-eight people were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including three Wet’suwet’en matriarchs – Tait, Freda Huson and Brenda Michell.
And a response from a well-informed friend:
“the paradox of the elders’ position is they claim rights according to the 1997 decision, but cherry pick the parts they like, and when questioned say “ah, colonial institutions!” You can’t have it both ways. As for their claim they control the non- band council territory, that is their statement. It is not even an interpretation. The elders are going to have to show some good faith. So far, they have dumped three clan chiefs for supporting CGL; refused to consult after 40 requests; and been defeated at election for band council. So they hardly hold the moral or political high ground.”

Trudeau won’t force end to railway blockades; Scheer tells protesters to ‘check their privilege’
(Global) Trudeau said blockades that have led to disruptions for Canadian railway services have made it a “difficult week” for the country. Blockades began in support of the B.C. First Nation’s hereditary chiefs, who oppose the construction of a pipeline through their land.
[ Protests over B.C. pipeline continue as governments ready talks with First Nations]
Earlier on Friday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau also called the protests “illegal.”
“The federal government, along with [Indigenous Services] Minister [Marc] Miller, will be engaging with the Indigenous leaders in that region with the idea of getting those blockades removed,” he said as he headed to the discussions.
… Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say the company does not have consent to build on the unceded territory. The chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area and say band councils only have authority over reserve lands.
Meanwhile, Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route.

13 February
Via Rail cancels most trains across the country as CN shuts down rails in eastern Canada
Where are the solidarity protests for the First Nations that support Coastal GasLink?
Robyn Urback
As with everything involving the duty to consult, Indigenous governance and pipeline politics, the situation involving the Coastal GasLink standoff is anything but straightforward. What is clear, however, is that when protesters block access to the Legislature in Victoria or traffic in Ottawa, they are doing so in opposition to the expressed wishes of many Wet’suwet’en residents and others along the route – those who want the blockade to end and are waiting for the benefits the pipeline will bring. Solidarity protesters, though they might not realize it, are quite literally standing in the way of that.
Don’t confuse support for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs with the spirit of Idle No More
By Ken Coates, senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and the author of #IdleNoMore and the Remaking of Canada.

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