The Defenders of the Land and Idle No More issued this call to action last March.
We demand that Canada, the provinces and the territories:
1. Repeal provisions of Bill C-45 (including changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act, which infringe on environmental protections, Aboriginal and Treaty rights) and abandon all pending legislation which does the same.
2. Deepen democracy in Canada through practices such as proportional representation and consultation on all legislation concerning collective rights and environmental protections, and include legislation which restricts corporate interests.
3. In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ principle of free, prior, and informed consent, respect the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to development on their territory.
4. Cease its policy of extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and recognize and affirm Aboriginal Title and Rights, as set out in section 35 of Canada’s constitution, and recommended by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
5. Honour the spirit and intent of the historic Treaties. Officially repudiate the racist Doctrine of Discovery and the Doctrine of Terra Nullius, and abandon their use to justify the seizure of Indigenous Nations lands and wealth.
6. Actively resist violence against women and hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and involve Indigenous women in the design, decision-making, process and implementation of this inquiry, as a step toward initiating a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan.
The Council of Canadians has endorsed this call to action.
This week, the Globe and Mail reports, “(The Sovereignty Summer) will protest resource projects and pipelines across the country, backed up by demonstrations in cities. …Opposition will focus around the Line 9 pipeline proposal. The Line 9 focus implicates Highway 401, one of Canada’s biggest and busiest thoroughfares connecting southern Ontario to Quebec.”
Winnipeg Free Press
By: Heather Scoffield
OTTAWA — The extent of First Nations unrest this summer depends in large part on how much concrete action Stephen Harper authorizes on entrenching ancient treaty rights, says National Chief Shawn Atleo.
In a wide-ranging interview to discuss the relationship with Ottawa, the head of the Assembly of First Nations gave mixed reviews to the process launched with great fanfare in January when Harper and Atleo last met.
“Business as usual just causes ongoing conflict,” Atleo told The Canadian Press. “Expressions of good faith — and implementation of those commitments (from January) — are what is required.”
Atleo says talks between senior government officials and First Nations from some parts of the country over how to fully implement historic treaty rights seem to be inching ahead. Atleo and many First Nations leaders argue that full recognition of the treaties will lead to improvements in conditions across the board — in education, housing and the sharing of the bounty from Canada’s natural resources.
“We’ve seen signals on the part of the government that it is prepared to do that,” Atleo said.
But at the same time, the federal government continues to fight First Nations in court over child-welfare funding, continues to impose legislation without consulting those it will affect and resists widespread calls for a national inquiry into hundreds of missing or murdered aboriginal women, the national chief added.
Plus, the government has been withholding much of the documentation needed to understand the impact of residential schools.
At the same time, there is lingering discontent within many First Nations about major changes made to environmental oversight through federal legislation over the past year.
“There’s always been this pattern that, ‘well, let’s just do one or two things now, and the rest, you know, we can deal with later,’ ” Atleo said.
“No. Transformative change is required because we are still in a big moment of reckoning.”
As aboriginal youth become more educated and more connected through social media, they are increasingly skeptical of the establishment, whether it be the federal government or the complex structure of chiefs under the Indian Act, Atleo added.
“They will not be swayed by press releases or statements from governments that say what they’re doing is working and that it is enough, because it isn’t,” Atleo said. “They are making it very clear by expressing themselves. And they will be heard.”
Atleo and Harper, along with key members of their teams, held a highly contentious winter meeting on Jan. 11, just as the Idle No More protest movement gathered strength in communities across the country.
As the leaders met, large crowds of First Nations activists and environmentalists rallied loudly in the streets, demanding more accountability from both sides.
At the same time, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence denounced the meeting since it did not include the governor general or a wide range of chiefs, and persisted with a liquids-only hunger protest. Some chiefs openly discussed blockades and economic disruption, forecasting more upheaval this summer.
A shaken Atleo left the meeting with a commitment from Harper to empower his top officials to negotiate fundamental aboriginal rights, focusing especially on education and resource revenue sharing.
And indeed, insiders on all sides say there is considerable movement.
The new aboriginal affairs minister, Bernard Valcourt, has travelled widely and made some announcements about new regional arrangements for education, speeding up the process to settle specific claims and working with First Nations to review the comprehensive claims process.
“While this progress is important and will have a positive impact on First Nations, we need to build on it and sustain the momentum that is being created. We will continue to work with First Nations to make concrete progress on our shared priorities,” said Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Valcourt.
Activists are already signalling they are not prepared to wait.
“To me, it’s like they (the government and the Assembly of First Nations) are buying time to get through the summer,” said Russ Diabo, an outspoken long-time First Nations activist from the network Defenders of the Land.
His group has joined forces with Idle No More organizers and other experienced groups to stage a “Sovereignty Summer” to protest resource projects and pipelines across the country, backed up by demonstrations in cities.
— The Canadian Press
After years of attempting to fight for their rights through the Canadian legal system, First Nations across Canada led by the women-led mass movement Idle No More are launching a Summer of Sovereignty, a campaign designed to educate and inspire action on behalf of indigenous rights and environmental protection.
Begun by Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon, Idle No More has been called “one of the most exciting new political movements on Earth.” It’s certainly the largest mass movement of indigenous people north of the US border. The group came together last fall to protest Canadian bill C-45, a large omnibus bill, which would have implemented numerous measures, many of which activists claim weaken environmental protection laws. Of particular concern to Idle No More are laws that overturn protections on the country’s navigable waterways (which is to say the ecosystem of Native lands), and open tribal lands up to “development” which could be construed to mean exploitation by oil and gas drilling companies associated with the Keystone Pipeline.
Having fought for a over a century in the courts, in the Parliament and at the international level, it’s time now for people to act at the grassroots level, say the women of Idle No More. Joining Laura in the studio to talk more about it were Sylvia McAdam, one of the Original Founders of Idle No More and Kerry Coast, author of the new book “The Colonial Present.”
Among other actions planned for this summer, on June 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Idle No More will be be in Vancouver to support Hupacasath First Nation (FN) activists challenging the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement (FIPPA) that, in their words “Assumes an authority that could devalue our rights, our lives, our culture and our sovereignty.”
They promise “a flotilla of canoes, fishing boats and pleasure boats travels from Vancouver Island to the City of Vancouver” as well as action inside the federal courthouse for the group’s court case against FIPPA and the federal government of Canada.
Say Idle No More: “We need your support. We need to STAND TOGETHER. It is our legal and moral responsibility to protect Canada’s vast land, energy and mineral resources including the tar sands, the world’s second largest pool of carbon. “
Nationwide autonomous local protests highlighting the importance of Indigenous rights in combating the Harper and corporate agenda.
APTN National News
EDMONTON--The chief of an Alberta First Nations battling a tar sands expansion on its territory says he is considering joining Idle No More’s call for a “Sovereignty Summer” campaign after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed its case.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation went to the Supreme Court with a section 35 Constitutional challenge in hopes of forcing a regulatory review board to rule on whether there had been adequate consultation on Shell’s bid to expand its Jackpine tarsands project.
The First Nation turned to the courts after having its challenge were turned down by the Alberta Court of Appeal.
As is its practice, the Supreme Court gave no reasons as to why it refused to hear the Athabasca Chipewyan’s case.
Chief Allan Adam said the ruling leaves his First Nation with little options. With plans for an Idle No More-Defenders of the Land Sovereignty Summer campaign of direct action in the works, Adam said it may be the route his First Nation will have to take.
“It is more than likely that it will probably head in that direction,” said Adam. “What else do you have left and if you are backed into a corner what do you do.”
Adam said the First Nation is also considering taking legal action against the province of Alberta.
“It puts the onus back on the province,” he said. “The province has to answer to our concerns.”
The case dates back to October 2012 when the First Nation launched a constitutional challenge asking the Joint Review Panel to rule on whether the Crown had consulted enough on Shell’s application. The First Nation argued that the expansion would impact its treaty and aboriginal rights to hunt, fish and trap.
The panel ruled later that month it didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the challenge and then denied a motion by the First Nation to adjourn the hearings. The First Nation then went to the Alberta Court of Appeal, but had its application for appeal dismissed.
The First Nation then turned to the Supreme Court in January.
Thousands welcome the Nishiyuu Walkers as they arrive in Ottawa after a 1100 km journey. (photo Ben Powless)
Joint call issues for a series of spring actions under the banner of Solidarity Spring and Summer actions under the banner of Sovereignty Summer.
Solidarity Spring actions begin with a series of actions on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Idle No More has joined forces with Defenders of the Land and the new alliance plans to launch “escalating action” during what is being called the “Sovereignty Summer,” according to a draft joint declaration obtained by APTN National News.
The alliance has been endorsed by Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson, the four founders of Idle No More, along with the movement’s lead organizers, provincial and territorial chapters.
As a result of the alliance, Idle No More has now agreed to support non-violent direct action, including blockades, in the cause of Indigenous rights.
The Defenders of the Land is an established network of Indigenous activists that was formally formed in 2008. The network has been involved in Indigenous land rights issues across the country, including in ongoing hotspots like Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation and Barriere Lake in Quebec.
The joint declaration is calling for a “Sovereignty Summer” that would see “co-ordinated non-violent direct actions.” The statement also calls on “non-Indigenous peoples” to join Indigenous communities in the actions.
“Alternatives will only come to life if we escalate our actions, taking bold non-violent direct action that challenges the illegitimate power of corporations who dictate government police,” says the draft declaration.
The declaration also calls for a “Solidarity Spring” to precede the Sovereignty Summer with calls to action on March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and April 22, Earth Day.
“The Harper government’s agenda is clear: to weaken all collective rights and environmental protections, in order to turn Canada into an extraction state that gives corporations unchecked power to destroy our communities and environment for profit,” says the statement. “Idle No More and Defenders of the Land….have joined together to issue this common call for escalating action.”
The declaration makes several demands, including a repeal of sections of the now passed Bill C-45 that impact the environment along with Aboriginal and Treaty rights; changing the electoral system to proportional representation; ensuring consultation happens before any legislation is introduced that impacts collective rights and the environment; the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; an end to the government’s policies of “extinguishment;” full implementation of the treaties and a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.
“We know it will take a lot more to defeat (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) and the corporate agenda. But against the power of their money and weapons, we have the power of our bodies and spirits,” says the declaration. “There is nothing that can match the power of peaceful, collective action in defense of the people and Mother Earth.”
2013 Youth lead the way. New Dawn drummers, Idle No More La Ronge, Saskatchewan (photo Virginia Johnson)