Archive for June, 2008

Quebec Innu threaten to torch Labrador cabins over land dispute, says lawyer

Posted in Innu Nation, Repression, Resistance on June 6, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Quebec Innu threaten to torch Labrador cabins over land dispute, says lawyer

Published Thursday June 5th, 2008
Andy Blatchford, THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL – Members of a Quebec-based Innu community are threatening to torch cabins in Labrador if the Newfoundland and Labrador government forces them out of their ancestral land, a local lawyer says.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government delivered eviction notices last month to Innu families in Quebec, demanding they dismantle their buildings constructed inside the Labrador border.

Innu lawyer Armand MacKenzie said the people of the Uashat-Maliotenam reserve in northeastern Quebec will take matters into their own hands if they are forced to give up what they say are their traditional gathering places, hunting grounds and burial sites.

“I’ve heard people saying that if they tear down our cabins, there won’t be a single cabin standing, whether it’s Innu or a non-Innu cabin, in Labrador,” MacKenzie told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

“We’re going to call it ‘Labrador Burning.’

“If (Newfoundland Premier) Danny Williams wants to pick a fight with the Quebec Innu, he’ll get it. He’ll get it and we’ll have a social crisis in Labrador.”

MacKenzie said the Innu face fines and their buildings will be demolished if they don’t take down the structures built on crown land. The government has placed a 60-day deadline for demolition.

MacKenzie believes it’s an intimidation tactic of the government, which has been brought to court by the Innu.

Members of the band are trying to establish they have aboriginal title to the land and say they don’t recognize provincial borders.

“It’s an aggressive retaliation measure from the government of Newfoundland to send those eviction notices,” said MacKenzie, who was in Montreal for federal court proceedings.

“We won’t be intimidated at all by the authorities of Newfoundland and Labrador because we firmly believe that we belong to that land.”

The government says it delivered eviction letters to the shacks, many of which Williams claims were recently constructed.

The premier said they popped up since discussions on developing the multibillion-dollar Lower Churchill Falls hydro project ramped up.

Williams said government lawyers are questioning whether they were legally set up.

“If there’s cabins that have been there for some time, well then I’m sure that the courts will obviously acknowledge and recognize established claims,” he said Thursday in St. John’s, N.L.

“But this is a process where we’re saying, ‘We are questioning your right to be here and we’d just like to know the facts.’ So we’ll proceed in a legal and proper manner as we go through.”

Williams said he’s not looking for a legal fight and hopes the dispute can be resolved in a fair manner.

Still, the premier said he’s prepared for a court battle if the Quebec Innu are asserting rights beyond what they are entitled.

Uashat-Maliotenam reserve chief Georges-Ernest Gregoire said the province has shown no respect for his people.

“It’s an insult, they’re laughing at us,” said Gregoire, who leads about 4,000 Innu who live near Sept-Iles, Que.

“For sure, the population is hurt, what they’re doing is serious. It’s them who should remove their things and leave, because historically, it’s our ancestors who were there and we are still at home today.”

In 2001, about 100 Uashat-Maliotenam residents, who were upset with the results of a band election, vandalized buildings and burned cars in the reserve.

Residents threw beer bottles at municipal police and officers repelled the attackers with pepper spray.

Ten people, including a police officer, were injured. Local police arrested three people. The riots received international attention.

(With files from Tara Brautigam in St. John’s, N.L.)

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Innu Fight For Housing and Against Police

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Two Tyendinaga Mohawk Prisoners Released: Clint Brant and Matt Kunkel make bail

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on June 6, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Two Tyendinaga Mohawk Prisoners Released: Clint Brant and Matt Kunkel make bail

( June 5, 2008 )

After their bail hearings on June 4, 2008 in Napanee, Tyendinaga Mohawks Matt Kunkel and Clint Brant were both granted bail and released from prison.

They are free to go home to their families in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and await trial in the coming months.

They have both spent 6 weeks jailed in Quinte Regional Detention Centre.

More detailed news to come soon.

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Update from Quinte Regional Detention Centre

( May 28, 2008 )

Yesterday, Shawn Brant was put on 23 hour-a-day lock-down, for a 12-day period.

This is punishment for what Detention Centre officials term “a misconduct”. In this case, the misconduct consisted of Shawn burning sage in his cell.

While regular Chapel services and bible study are available, and the med cart rolls around three times daily, Aboriginal inmates are all but denied access to their religious practice and medicine.

In the five weeks that Shawn has been at the Detention Centre, he has been permitted yard time to conduct ceremony only three times.

Frustrated by the seeming lack of interest by the institution to support a regularized program that would observe the cultural and religious rights of Aboriginal inmates, Shawn notified prison staff that he would undertake to perform the ceremony in his cell.

Shortly thereafter, he was brought before a Lieutenant, who informed him that he had no rights while inside, and who termed the burning of
sage as a health and safety issue.

– Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

Lessons Learned from the KI6 Trial

Posted in Algonquin Nation, Anishinabe Nation, Cree Nation, Repression on June 6, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Lessons Learned from the KI6 Trial

June 4, 2008 – By Chris Webb
http://www.firstperspective.ca

Seven indigenous leaders from North West Ontario who were jailed for protecting their land were released on May 28. Their case caused national embarrassment for the Ontario provincial government and revealed just how easy it is for companies to mine on First Nation’s land without their permission.

The six from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation -plus Bob Lovelace from Ardoch Algonquin First Nation-were charged with disobeying court orders in an ongoing dispute with mining companies Platinex Inc and Frontenac Ventures. Companies that they say did not consult with their communities before beginning invasive mining. Despite Canada’s highest court insisting that consultation must taker place, many mining companies fail to do so. The KI6 and Lovelace were released after two months of their sentence and all charges have been stayed, including fines.

Frontenac Ventures announced on Monday that they would be dropping all charges against Lovelace and six other protestors who disobeyed a court order to stay away from a prospective uranium mining site.

All of the imprisoned received immense public support from both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. The Tragically Hip even dedicated a song to Lovelace during a February concert. A huge public rally in Queen’s Park coincided with their trial, and letters of support for the accused poured in. They received support from such high-profile Canadians as Margaret Atwood, Stephen Lewis and Sarah Harmer, who signed a letter-along with 20 other prominent Canadians-to Premier Dalton McGuinty calling for their release and an end to mining on their land.

Debate in the provincial legislature on the National Aboriginal Day of Action-one day after the KI6 appeal trial-highlighted how serious the case was and what it could mean for future indigenous relations with the McGuinty government. Provincial NDP leader Howard Hampton claimed the McGunity liberals brought on the day of action early by not consulting and accommodating first nations. “Two months after requesting that the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug leadership be hit with penalties that hurt, suddenly, the McGuinty government reversed their position,” he said. “Instead of forcing grandmothers and respected First Nation leaders to spend two months in jail, why didn’t the McGuinty government use the tools at your disposal, use section 35 of the Mining Act to declare that the disputed lands were not subject to mining exploration, and save everybody the embarrassment?”

The Ontario Mining Act is fraught with problems for indigenous communities. It operates under a free-entry system that allows mining companies free access to Crown Land-like those surrounding KI-without prior consultation.

The government constantly misreads public opinion says Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator for Miningwatch Canada. “We’re absolutely thrilled the KI6 and Lovelace have been released, but what needs to change is the Mining Act.” Kuyek proposes a permit system that forces companies and government to consult and accommodate indigenous communities and give them the right to say no. “This isn’t just an issue of changing the act,” she says, “It’s changing how laws work in this country.”

As protestors gathered on the lawn in front of the legislature last Thursday calling for indigenous land rights and treaties to be respected, Premier McGuinty acknowledged their presence but never said why he hadn’t done more to protect their land from mining and their leaders from jail. His minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Bryant said the jailing ought never to have happened, “and it is fortunate that now it is over for chief and council. The member is absolutely right: They never should have gone to jail.”

But words that echo through provincial council chambers have done little to change the way business is done on indigenous lands.

Chris Reid, lawyer for Lovelace and the KI6, reported after the trial that the root cause of the trial is “the Mining Act and the province’s almost obsessive attachment to the mining industry and the free entry system.” He added that although the appeal trial judges did not give reasons for their judgment, they seemed troubled by “Ontario’s rigid refusal to negotiate or to consider the possibility of FNs having a right to say no to mining.”

The case of the KI6 will be a lesson to future Ontario provincial governments in their dealings with indigenous communities. Any move to reform the Mining Act or improvement in the consultation process should be encouraged, but it should not be the only step. Dialogue needs to happen federally and locally within the affected communities. But in order for this to happen, treaties need to be respected, land claims need to be negotiated, and the sovereignty and interests of indigenous communities must be upheld.

Mohawk Warriors Block Route 344 at Kanehsatake

Posted in Day of (In)Action, Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on June 6, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Mohawk Warriors Block Route 344 at Kanehsatake

May 30, 2008
by autonome

[Posted to friendsofgrassynarrows.com]

According to the corporate media (La Presse), Mohawk warriors at the Kanehsatake reserve in Quebec cut down trees and set them on fire, blocking Route 344 for several hours on May 29, 2008, in the same location as the main barricade of the 1990 Oka Crisis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oka_Crisis). Sûreté du Québec (Quebec provincial police) officers redirected traffic.

This was the only Native direct action to take place on the same date as the so-called “Day of Action” organized by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which is funded by the Government of Canada and is comprised of the Indian Act band council chiefs who administer the band council system imposed on Native peoples by the Canadian government. For more information on the role of the Assembly of First Nations see the article “Resist the Assimilation of First Nations” by Warrior Publications.
(http://www.warriorpublications.com/?q=node/12)

Some had expected action at the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve in Ontario, where blockades has taken place on the previous year’s AFN Day of (In)Action (DOA). Instead, all was calm.

“We don’t see any need to respond to calls by (National Chief) Phil Fontaine. It’s not our call,” said Mike Brant of Tyendinaga in an interview with the Belleville Intelligencer newspaper. “He gets paid by the government to do his job. I don’t really know what his agenda is.” (http://www.intelligencer.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1049947&auth=W.+Brice+McVicar+and+Jeremy+Ashley)

Last year, the AFN held their Day of (In)Action on June 29, responding to a resolution launched by Chief Terrance Nelson of the Roseau River reserve. Nelson himself called off action on the day, as is explained by Warrior Publications in its “Analysis of AFN’s National Day of (In)Action” (http://www.warriorpublications.com/?q=node/8):

“On June 20, Prentice announced that 75 acres of new reserve land would be added to the Roseau River band, defusing any potential conflict arising from chief Nelson’s threatened blockade. Despite his fiery rhetoric prior to this, Nelson announced there would be no blockades as a result, and that the land would be used to build a gas station, a cigarette shop, and video-lottery terminals. A week and a half prior to this, Nelson had written a letter to the CEO of Canadian National stating that, if both CN & Canadian Pacific Railway helped pressure the government to resolve the claim, ‘Roseau River will not threaten or engage in any railway blockades for 5 years from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2012…’ (Letter from Terrance Nelson to CN CEO Hunter Harrison, June 11, 2007).”

Nelson had done much the same thing on June 29 of the previous year, 2006, calling off railway blockades at the last minute after the head of CN rail agreed to write a letter to the federal government stating support for First Nations over solving land issues more quickly. Disgruntled Native youth were said to have wanted to continue with blockades anyway, according to an article from firstperspective.ca entitled, “Rail blockade called off: Was pact merely a lull before the next storm?” (http://friendsofgrassynarrows.com/item.php?604F)

The only action to take place on June 29, 2006, was at the reclamation site next to the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, where a railway line was briefly blocked as it had been previously after a police raid on April 20, 2006, and as was done in solidarity at the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve. Nelson had called for rail blockades on this day in 2006 inspired by and in solidarity with the struggle at Six Nations and Tyendinaga in a release entitled, “Railway Blockade Set for June 29!” (http://friendsofgrassynarrows.com/item.php?585F). The AFN in turn co-opted this call and turned it into a day of inaction, working with the police and denouncing blockades in 2007.

For more information refer to the following web pages:

https://wiinimkiikaa.wordpress.com/category/day-of-inaction/

AFN DOA: Day of Action, or Dead on Arrival? (Warrior Publications)

http://friendsofgrassynarrows.com/item.php?734F