We’re All Treaty People: Site C, Treaty Power and Power Politics

Join the discussion to explore the social and legal ramifications of Site C                  July 5 at Douglas College Aboriginal Gathering Centre.

 

The social cost of moving forward with Site C, the third major dam on the Peace River in northeastern BC, goes far beyond the obvious cost overruns and rearguard economics.  The tension cracks in the river bank where BC Hydro and the BC Government plan to blast aren’t the only cracks that pose a danger. The project will shatter the entire ecosystem of the Peace River Valley.

We’re All Treaty Peoplewill welcome special guest Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B Indian Chiefs and  eature Dr. Gordon Christie, Inupiat/Inuvialuit ancestry, UBC specialist in Aboriginal law (bio attached) and Julian Napoleon Dane-zaa and Cree (bio attached) from the Saulteau First Nations, dedicated to raising awareness around Indigenous issues of land, water, food and community. Other guests will include Adrienne Peacock, a Douglas College Professor emeritus who was a member of the BC Utilities Commission when it rejected Site C in the early 80’s and Reverend Emily Smith the Parish Priest at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster.

On the value of land to culture and survival, Mr. Napoleon does not mince his words, “In its destruction of invaluable farmland, waterways, and ecologically rich and abundant biocultural heritage areas, the Site C dam endangers all of our long-term resilience, sovereignty, and food security.”

Dr. Christie will bring clarity to the evening by presenting Treaty 8, its legal ramifications and who is responsible for its adherence. The West Moberly and Prophet River cases as well as the Blueberry River case will be explained in accessible language. But he will also discuss how every British Columbian has a responsibility to ensure that Treaty 8 is respected. Dr. Christie emphasizes that, “Canadians are treaty partners within the treaty 8 regime, and so should be concerned that promises made in the treaty—on their behalf—are being upheld.”

Each guest will be asked to answer the following questions:

  1. Why should the Site C Dam be halted?
  2. What can we do to stop it.

The evening is a fundraiserand pay-what-you canwith food, videos and a chance to meet people working on-the-ground to stop Site C.  All proceeds of the evening will go to three court cases:  West Moberly and Prophet River Bands injunction request, the Blueberry River Bands Treaty 8 case and the Peace Valley Landowners Association whose members are the farmers and ranchers whose farms fall within the 140,000 square kilometers of land targeted for flooding for the Site C Dam.  That territory is equal to the land between Maple Ridge and Hope.  Just think about it.

The event is sponsored by Aboriginal Services, Douglas College and Fight C.

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Information: Mae Burrows   604-526-1956 (h) 604) 916-9026 (c)

 

 

 

Site C: Treaty Power and Power Politics?

Indigenous Rights, Treaty 8 and Reconciliation

Join the conversation:  July 5, 6:30-9:30 pm, a public discussion will take place at Douglas College’s Aboriginal Gathering Centre, to investigate just what is going on when it comes toIndigenous Rights, Treaty 8 and Reconciliation

Featuring special guest Chief Bob Chamberlain,  (@chiefbobby)Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the evening will headline talks by UBC specialist in Aboriginal Law, Dr. Gordon Christie, Inupiat/Inuvialuit, Julian Napoleon, Dane-zaa/Cree researcher on Indigenous Food and Culture, Adrienne Peacock, faculty emeritus of Douglas College, and former member of the BC Utilities Commission and Emilie Smith, Rector at New Westminster’s St Barnabas Anglican Church. (see bios attached)

What is going on?

The West Moberly and Prophet River Bands from Northeast BC and signatories to Treaty 8, will return to court on July 23rd. They are seeking injunctions to prevent BC Hydro from going ahead with work on the Site C Dam, at least, until the conditions of Treaty 8 are settled by the courts. BC Hydro and the BC NDP government are contesting the injunction. The Federal Government recently stated that it will not contest the injunction. International groups including the UN and Amnesty International are calling on all governments to respect Indigenous Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP)

Meanwhile, the Blueberry River Band, also from Northeastern BC and a Treaty 8 signatory, will be in court, this summer, as well, in a case brought by the Band against the BC Government, charging that the cumulative impact of industrial development on its traditional territory has breached the government’s obligations under Treaty 8.

Dr. Gordon Christie says, “Canadians are treaty partners within the treaty 8 regime, and so should be concerned that promises made in Treaty 8 – on their behalf – are being upheld.”

Christie emphasizes, “Besides being an economic boondoggle that will only serve to provide cheap power to the oil & gas industry as it goes about fracking in the northeast, flooding caused by the dam will make the exercise of constitutionally-protected treaty rights impossible”

Mae Burrows, Burnaby resident and long-time activist with Fight C is one of the of the July 5thevent organizers, “The Crown signs Treaties with First Nations on behalf of the people of British Columbia and Canada. It’s time we step up to the plate and demand that Governments respect those treaties.”

“What is it with all these court cases?” says Burrows. “British Columbians want to know why First Nations have to go to court to have Treaty rights respected. Why are First Nations still being treated as colonial subjects?”

Last year, the Blueberry Band lost its court petition for an injunction to stop work on Site C however, the judge ruled that “irreparable harm” had been done by industry.

Territory in Northeastern BC and extending into Alberta, has been the scene of an unbelievable amount of destruction as a result of industrialization from mining to gas and oil extraction in the last century.

West Moberly, Prophet River and Blueberry River Bands say again, “enough is enough!”

What can Canadians do to help stop Site C? Julian Napoleon is clear, “If people could come to an understanding of the major threat to our economy, environment, human rights, democracy, and the public institution of BC Hydro, that Site C presents I believe that no rational human being could continue to support the project.”

“Public interest is served by information sharing and open discussion.” concludes Burrows, “and that is what this event is all about.”

The evening is a fundraiser and pay-what-you can with food, music and the chance to meet face-to-face with people who are working on the ground and in the courts to try to convince the BC Government of John Horgan and his local MLA ‘s some of whom are cabinet ministers: Judy Darcy, Mike Farnworth, Selena Robinson, Jodie Wickens, Bruce Ralston, Harry Bains, Raj Chouhan, Janet Routledge and Anne Kang.

All proceeds of the evening will go to three court cases: West Moberly and Prophet River Bands injunction request, the Blueberry River Bands Treaty 8 case and the case being brought forward by the Peace Valley Landowners Association* whose members are the farmers and ranchers whose farms fall within the 140,000 square kilometers of land targeted for flooding for the Site C Dam.  That territory is equal to the land between Maple Ridge and Hope. Just think about it.

The event is sponsored by Aboriginal Services, Douglas College and Fight C.

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Information/Interviews:  Mae Burrows  604-526-1956 (h) 604) 916-9026 (c)

Peace Valley Landowners Association(PVLA The PVLA consists of landowners who are impacted by the proposed Site C dam. The 70+members reflect a cross section of Peace River Country residents from farmers to oil patch workers and retirees many of whom lost their homes when the WAC Bennet Dam was built in the 1960’s.   http://peacevalleyland.com/

 

For Information on the resistance to the Site C Dam  https://witnessforthepeace.c

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Kinder Morgan, Site C, Canadian Mining another week of resistance

There is a connection between the many battles that so many people who live in this land we call British Columbia.  Our home on stolen land, First Nations Land. In the Vancouver Area it is the home of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth Nations.

Throughout the territory recognized widely as British Columbia where resource extraction has been the mainstay of this region’s wealth,  countless numbers of Indigenous communities have been resisting extraction without consent or return for centuries.

Today more than ever, people who identify as settlers, many of whom have benefitted from being part of settler communities are standing up and acknowledging what was so long-ignored.  Now, more and more so, the resistance is spreading lead primarily by Indigenous communities — those who live on land begrudgingly given to them through Treaties then ruthlessly trampled for the purpose of extracting what to capitalists has been the basis of their wealth. As well leadership has come from members of Indigenous Communities who live away from their land in urban centres, often in poverty.

On Monday night, May 7 the Canadian Mining Community was celebrating the destruction they have wrought all over the world.  They were celebrating each other in self-congratulating award ceremonies.

At the same time a group of activists also gathered to celebrate.  They did so outside the glass palaces of luxury at what is known as Canada Place to celebrate those who have been resisting Canadian Mines, many head-officed right here in Vancouver. From the fight at Mount Polley, described in an article by Emma Gilchrist in the January issue of DeSmog Canada in the following terms:

On August 4th, 2014 a four square kilometre sized tailings pond full of toxic copper and gold mining waste breached, spilling an estimated 25 billion litres of contaminated materials into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water and major spawning grounds for sockeye salmon.

Despite the fact that Mount Polley is according to a headline in the same well-researched online publication, “one of the largest environmental disasters in Canadian history — no charges have been laid against the company,” DeSmog Full story deSmogCanada

In a serious, but light hearted event, opened with words by Tsleil-Watuth watch house co-ordinator Will George who made the connections between to Kinder Morgan on burnaby Mountain and the destruction taking place in BC and around the world brought about May 9 another Kinder work day haltedby these mining companies.

The songs of welcome by Indigenous matriarchs set the tone for the gala entitled: Unearthing Mining Justice . Whether in the Phillipines, Guatemala, Mexico,  or Tibet to name a few places that were called out during this first gala of its kind in BC.more…more about mining justice

Site C every Friday at David Eby’s office

site-c-is-a-sour-deal.jpg2909 W Broadway, Vancouver

Lemonade, cookies and information about the disaster taking place in North Eastern BC.  It is amazing how little real information people living in the Lower Mainland have about the disaster that continues to unfold.  Ken and Arlene Boon are farmers from the Peace River who have fought passionately to stop this dam from going ahead.  Along with various Indigenous Communities who have been hurt by the non-stop destruction of fishing, hunting and farming land.  Currently two court cases are pending. One brought about by the Prophet River Band and the other by the Blueberry River Band.  Follow Ken and Arlene Boone at pvla@xplornet.com and Witness for the Peace.Photo 1 Peace River Valley- Photo by Robin

Wednesday, May 9 a hose down for Kinder Morgan

In Burnaby, activists — both Indigenous and Settler stopped entry to all the gates including the waters of Burrard Inlet where Liam and his kayaking pals managed to hook themselves up to the fence stopping Kinder Morgan from gaining access.  The private KM security force known as the RCMP took a few hours to get out there to detach and arrest the brave young ones who are putting their time on the line.  Meanwhile in a Kinder Morgan boardroom in Texas,  USA  two Indigenous Chiefs  Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band, and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust travelled to Texas to meet with shareholders at the meeting Wednesday. The Chiefs succeeded in having a resolution passed that demands that KM ensure more environmental accountability.

The week had started, of course, with the Greenpeace action to halt the transportation of the giant drill that Kinder Morgan brought to BC for the purpose of drilling through Burnaby Mountain.

Greenpeace halt monster drillThanks to the The National Observer   and DeSmogCanada

Https://witnessforthepeace.ca/speakout

The new Fight C website https://witnessforthepeace.ca has recently been established by the Vancouver group working tirelessly with First Nations — specifically the Prophet River and Blueberry First Nations — and the Peace Valley Landowners Association in the hopes of bringing the BCNDP/Green Coalition to its senses with regard to stopping the Site C Dam.

The resistance to this dam has been going on for almost 30 years.  Until the BC Liberals pushed forward with work on a new dam slated to flood another 140 km of prime agricultural land the battle was almost won.

The BC NDP, in opposition for many of those years expressed contempt for the Liberal government’s decision to push forward with Site C.  John Horgan, Michelle Mungall and other members of the current government even bought $100 stakes to support the fight to stop Site C.

Yet shortly after forming government the NDP and their partners despite being in a very tenuous position in the BC Legislature and against the advice of hundreds of scientists, economists, and importantly Treaty 8 First Nations and farmers who live and work in the Peace River Valley.

Ben Nelms photo of Peace River FarmlandLike many others who live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia I’ve never been to the Peace River Valley.  I knew nothing of the people who have lived in the area for hundreds if not thousands of years.  People in my own family went to work on the first damming of the Peace River known as the W.A.C. Bennett Dam after the B.C. Premier who promoted the dam.  No consideration was given to the people whose lands were flooded to create the first dam.  Not until 50 years later when in 2017 BC Hydro apologized for the pain and harm brought about by the dam’s construction.  But that did not stop BC Hydro or the newly minted coalition government from proceeding with a new dam, the Site C despite strong arguments that it will destroy farm more than it will create well being.

The witnessforthepeace.ca . website is up-and-running and asking you to take the following pledge:

“I want Canada and BC to honour their Treaty obligations and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. I will follow the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nation court case to protect the Peace River Valley and speak out whenever the federal and provincial governments dishonour their obligations or disrespect the rights of Indigenous peoples.     We are all Treaty people.”

Check out the facebook pages for the Peace Valley Landowners Association.  They’ve been fighting against the destruction of this land for a long time and could use help in paying off the debts accumulated in their work in preparation for the BC Utilities Commission Report.  This was the report that the NDP promised to take seriously before and during the election, then abandoned when they approved going ahead with Site C.

Take a look too at the facebook page for the Peace Valley Environmental Association

Stop Site C

Watch for the recently published book that gives you the full story of one of the most important river valleys in British Columbia and in Canada.  Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBCPress, Spring 2018). by Sarah Cox, an award winning journalist.

I also recommend the online publication DeSmog Canada  although the publication name will be changing in the near future.

Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland, Keeyask Dam in Manitoba and Site C  all follow the devastating and destructive path of the James Bay Power project.  The billions of dollars being spent on these massive projects of destruction have done little to promote truly green energy for Canada.  They have all proceeded over the objections of peoples who have lived on this land for thousands of years.

There is much to answer for.

If you are in Vancouver on any given Friday afternoon join the water protectors at the office  BC Attorney General, David Eby.  12 til’ 2 every friday.  Its at 2909 W Broadway, Vancouver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Justice As Liberation: No Consent, No Pipeline, No Kinder Morgan

The headline above is for a piece posted by 

As someone whose SFU Masters Thesis focused on the importance of creativity in resistance I find it exciting and hopeful to see the  Carnival playing out right here, in British Columbia. People’s resistance taking place in so many venues — Indigenous rights and consent, housing affordability and availability throughout the province, pipelines, fracking, massive hydro power dams, fish farms and more.  British Columbians and Canadians right across the country are speaking up and doing so with creativity.

In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia the battle to stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline is heating up.  This piece by Sarah Beuhler gives an excellent overview of the strategy involved in mobilizing and fighting this project.

Stop KM
Burnaby Mountain, April, 2018

Against the power of governments who were falsely elected on the basis of new, community driven strategies with collusion from corporate driven mainstream media,  the Kinder Morgan pipeline battle in BC, as well as the Fight against Site C and ocean-based fish farms and fracking are  examples of  mobilizations  to protect land and water and the beings who depend on them. They are led by Indigenous leaders from the BC Union of Indian Chiefs to hundreds of small communities whose lives and livelihoods are historically and legally tied to the unceded territories. And settlers are following — finally.

Across Canada, in North and South America and throughout the colonized world, Indigenous Communities are fighting back with vigour and great creativity and are being joined by thousands, millions of settler communities who have learned to respect and understand that without the full and prior consent of the Indigenous in traditional territories , the land’s truth keepers —  sustainable progress will not ensue.

Sarah’s piece invites the public to understand the story of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline currently in an expansion mode that could increase the flow of Bitumen by 7 times what is currently transported via pipeline from Alberta.

It would then be loaded onto huge tankers 7 per week and carted off to who knows where.  Bitumen is described in Cambridge English dictionary as  “a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. It is used for road surfacing and roofing.” Thin that out for easy flow with toxic chemicals and imagine what is travelling through the mountains across the lands, under the rivers and under the inlet and could increase to the point of danger.

Sarah’s Coast Protector story is the full story of the project and the strategies that have been developed, used, set aside and re-considered.

I hope you find it as instructive as I did.  As for the Carnival, think of the massive strategically organized resistance against the Dakota Pipeline, of the thousands of actions organized by Indigenous people against Canadian and other mining companies in their territories and the demands to stop massive dams, stop polluting rivers, stop exploiting for profit without thought of human survival. Think of all the tiny houses being built along the Trans Mountain Pipeline route, think of the years and years of protests ongoing against the Site C Dam. The songs, performances, cyber actions,  public arrests, the displays of respectful resistance are all marks of the carnival.

In my brief look at carnival I examined resistance against a backdrop of social and political movements whose histories were linked to the carnival through their disdain for power from above and their creative means of subverting that power.

At Kinder Morgan, Site C and throughout the world of resistance, let the carnival continue with thanks.

 

THE SOUTH LAWN (click here to read Sarah’s piece) 

Watchouse
The Watch House

 

Continue reading “Environmental Justice As Liberation: No Consent, No Pipeline, No Kinder Morgan”

Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way  

From Vancouver Moving Theatre

It’s finally happening!! After many years of listening, writing, visiting partnering communities and fundraising Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is now ready to tour across Turtle Island/Canada.

WROW Sophie Merasty and Marge White, photo D. Cooper
Sofie Maresty and Marge White. Photo by David Cooper

And it’s starting here on Coast Salish territory at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre May 17-27, 2018.

Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is a new play and cultural encounter that brings to life the story of Old One and his journey to reconcile with himself, his family and his community.
Woven around indigenous storytelling and cultural teachings, Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is co-written by award-winning artists Renae Morriseau (Saulteaux Cree) with Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene) and Savannah Walling (American Canadian). It is also enriched by contributions from the cast, knowledge-keepers and partnering communities.

Vancouver Moving Theatre is  also so thrilled to announce the cast of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way:

Sam Bob   (Snaw-Naw-As/Coast Salish)
Stephen Lytton   (Nicomen Indian Band, Nlaka’pamux First Nation)
Marge White   (Huu-ay-aht First Nation)
Tai Amy Grauman   (Metis/Iroquois Cree)
Jonathan Fisher   (Pottawattami, Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve)
Sophie Merasty   (Dene/Woodlands Cree Nations)
Latash Maurice Nahanee   (Squamish Nation)
Tracey Nepinak   (Cree/Peguis First Nation)
Tania Carter   (Salish)
Vern Bevis   (Okanagan Nation)

The cast will be joined on stage by local youth and cultural knowledge keepers from each host community on the tour. Please follow us on facebook and visit www.weaving-reconciliation-our-way.ca to find out more.

More about WROW from Vancouver Moving Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another extraordinary day: Indigenous blessings, singing, creative brilliance and connecting with the meaning of time

April 18, 2018 — As we arrived for our court date in the ongoing battle of the people vs Kinder Morgan, Justin Trudeau and the rest we were greeted by the cadence-like movement of of Will George’s characteristic feathered head dress. He was accompanied by a circle of  drummers and participants in dancing the words and prayers of his ancestors.

Today, it was in honour of those of us attending court.  Their voices and rhythm filled the concrete tunnel linking Vancouver’s  Smithe Street Law Courts entrance despite the sound and fumes of the passing cars. The vibration even through the concrete was powerful.

What a difference then walking through the door and confronting the black and white costumed legal bees buzzing throughout the first floor of the Supreme Courthouse and all the way up to Courtroom 55 where the drawn-out proceedings of the Canadian Legal system were shown to be as confusing as ever.

During the approximate three hours in the courtroom the court was silenced twice, at separate intervals, by two Indigenous people who took space in the court to berate the Canadian legal system for its unfairness in daring to seek punishments and to criminalize people who are fighting to save the land and the water and who are acknowledging the principle and the law of  free, prior and informed consent required in the use of Indigenous held lands. There were no media reports either of the morning greeting nor the episodes of drama in the courtroom.

Those two courtroom episodes, (I apologize for not being able to credit them personally) stopped the court in its tracks.  There was silence as each of those people spoke of long term injustice and growing strength in the face of it.  One spoke in her Heiltsuk language. The other speaker presented with the power that comes from centuries of resistance.

And they gave rise to searing applause and shouts of support from the hundreds in the room who are in the process of submitting to the harsh reality of a legal system that does not accept dissent in any meaningful way! The judge listened without cautioning or commenting.

But none of the above was deemed to be news by mainstream BC or Canadian media.

But what was the news media highlight of the day?.  CBC and other news outlets shouted from the roof tops that Angus Reid that “trustworthy” pollster owned by “no” corporate interests, they say, has stated that based on their most recent on-line poll it’s clear that British Columbians want the pipeline to go ahead.  That was the a.m. news and nothing changed about the top story all day. While callers to the noon-hour BC Almanac mostly berated the polling results and questioned the notion that so much credence is given to polls, the methodology and outcomes and issues reported from the poll were credited as fair by host Angela Sterritt.

 

But in, fact no other activities, no counter polls, hardly a mention of the complex sovereign ownership of the land and sea complete with wildlife and resources that are threatened were counted or reviewed by Angus Reid.  No discussion of free, prior and informed consent related to Indigenous People’s rights.

So today a group of primarily settler resistors, in the courtroom,  backed by some powerful Indigenous voices both inside and outside were, once again, ignored by Canadian mainstream media.

For resisting settlers,  it is not so much a brand new experience as a reminder of how long Indigenous Communities in this country some of us call Canada have been resisting.  It is a lesson in time.

Time flies, they say, when you are having fun.  The time, for Indigenous sovereignty, respect and learning exactly what those will mean for all who live in this territory, has come! It is not fun to be in a constant battle over truth and only truth can lead to healing in this territory.

Its up to every one of us, settlers in particular,  to both change and ignore those polls and join the resistance in forceful but peaceful resistance.