Sunday, March 19, 2017
7pm at Cafe Deux Soleils in East Vancouver on Commercial Drive
Book and photos for sale, author signing.
Kerry Coast has launched her publishing labour of love electromagneticprint.com with a collection of photos and short essays by activist Alan Fossen.
I remember Al around The (Commercial) Drive a lot in the 80s and 90s – at marches, rallies, festivals, May Day and on the street, but mainly at La Quena. The Latin American co-op coffee house was a community beacon at a time when most activists were pretty hunkered down.
There were still a few Marxist study groups and the annual Grovel for Peace March, but it seemed like much of the activist focus was on Latin American communities in exile. The Sixties were long over, it was Mulroney , Reagan, Thatcher and the full-on US wars in Latin America. Political refugees flocked here – from Chile, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador. Many found some degree of relative safety, although the immigration process was brutal.
You can feel the mood in Al’s photos of graffiti from the time - Humans in captivity, 125 years of theft, Draw all you want – ya still get burnt, Capitalism is extinction – subvert or die. Wherever people came from they brought their politics with them, and that’s where much of the colour seemed to come from as well. The photos are haunting - sparsely populated, determined.
There’s a great photo of an outdoor concert at the end of Kerry Coast’s introduction featuring a backdrop of banners from many of the active organizations of the time – Kinesis, Tools for Peace, Ecos De Mi Pueblo. Many of the posters through the book are centred on struggles to the South.
Al’s short essays on topics including fascism, criminalization of the poor, the politics of food and racism might seem strident. They were written in the left language of the time – capitalism, imperialism, class.
The selection gives the reader a peek into that time when there were a lot of bars and shadows on activism in Vancouver. The most fascinating thread for me was the unfolding story of La Quena's pivotal role in the activist community and its ultimate demise at the hands of Revenue Canada.
This episode of GW was produced on Sinixt traditional territory at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, BC.
Tanker truck spill case update from the Nelson courthouse | Rachel Mackenzie, CHLY
Demonstrators respond to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to Victoria BC | Chris Cook, CFUV
Local objections to a proposed expansion by Port Metro Vancouver | Catherine Fisher, CHLY, with files from Gunargie O’Sullivan, CFRO
Community Radio Report:
A report on the kickoff “Future of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Broadcasting” gathering, held this February in Winnipeg Manitoba | Gretchen King, CKUT
Our music in this episode is from Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld’s Constellation Records album: “Never Were the Way She Was”
Thanks to all our contributors for this week’s episode. We also thank Catherine Fisher, Braden Alexander, Omme Salma-Rahemtullah, and Gretchen King.
Pitch to GroundWire!
Take part in the next episode of GroundWire! The deadline for pitches is Saturday, March 18, and final pieces are due Thursday, March 23. Check out our priority bureaus and our format here. Don't worry if your piece, or raw audio, doesn't fit our GW requirements, we can edit it!
Tune in again on March 27 for the next episode of GroundWire produced by CKUW in WInnipeg (MB)!
GroundWire Coordination TeamWEBSITE - www.groundwirenews.ca PODCAST - http://groundwire.gwradio.koumbit.org/feed/
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Vancouver - Several hundred opponents of US leader Donald Trump gathered outside the garish new Trump Tower this morning. They were joined by a lot of Vancouver Police and a few trolls.
Inside, members of the Trump familty were offically opening the new luxury hotel, which many Vancouverites wish would change its name.
Another demonstration against Trump is planned for this afternoon in front of the US consulate.
This episode of GroundWire was produced on Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe traditional territory in Kingston by CFRC.
Have a Heart Day - a child and youth-led reconciliation event | Doug Farquhar, CFRC
Food service workers strike at the University of Toronto’s satellite campus in Scarborough | Omme-Salma Rahemtullah, GW
City of Montreal votes to become a Sanctuary City | Marie Crabie, CKUT
Chronicle Herald workers in Halifax commemorate the one year anniversary of their strike | Francella Fiallos, CKDU
Indigenous writing and literacy with Queen’s University aboriginal scholar Geraldine King | Doug Chimtig, CFRCCommunity Radio Report:
A report on the commercialization of Radio Centre-ville, Canada's oldest multilingual community radio station | Gretchen King, CKUT
Thanks to all our contributors for this week’s episode. We also thank Tash Carroll, Djenaba Dayle and Courtney Harrop.
Pitch to GroundWire!
Take part in the next episode of GroundWire! The deadline for pitches is Saturday March 4, and final pieces is Thursday March 9. Check out our priority bureaus and our format here. Don't worry if your piece, or raw audio, doesn't fit our GW requirements, we can edit it!
Tune in again on March 13 for the next episode of GroundWire produced by CHLY in Nanaimo (BC)!
GroundWire Coordination TeamWEBSITE - www.groundwirenews.ca PODCAST - http://groundwire.gwradio.koumbit.org/feed/
EMAIL - email@example.com
BURNABY, BC - Unionized cafeteria workers at Simon Fraser University are fighting for their jobs and union representation. They held a support rally this afternoon that drew more than 150 members and supporters to the main mall on the university's main Burnaby Mountain campus.
The 160 members of Unite Here! Local 40 were recently issued lay-off notices. That came after the Compass Group got the new contract for food services at SFU. Compass wants to do away with the union workers and their collective agreement.
The workers say the university has an obligation to guarantee their jobs, benefits and contract. That obligation, they say, should come in light of their many years of service to the university. Two weeks ago, the workers delivered petition with 1,300 student signatures to SFU President Andrew Petter.
Downtown Eastside - More than 4,000 people gathered in Vancouver yesterday in the 27th annual march for murdered and missing women. Healing ceremonies were held at several locations along the winding route through the neighbourhood where the mostly Indigneous women went missing or were found murdered. The march is held every year on Feb. 14.
Announcing new Board of Directors, and Dominion Podcast Episode #4 // Nouveau conseil d’administration, et la dernière émission du Dominion Podcast (#4)
At The Media Co-op, we’re looking forward to another year of producing powerful grassroots media, and we’re writing to you with a couple of updates to get it started.
Solitary Confinement in Canada’s Prisons: Latest Episode of the Dominion Podcast
We heard from Debra Parkes (Chair of Feminist Legal Studies at the Allard School of Law) about the history of solitary confinement in Canada, Alex (Federal Prison Chaplain) about what currently goes on in Quebec prisons, and former inmate Bobby Lee Worm about her experience of being held in solitary confinement for over 3 years.
The Dominion Podcast is recorded at the studios of CKUT in occupied Tio'tiah:ke (Montreal), Kanien'keha:ka territory. You can subscribe using any podcast app or follow us on Soundcloud. We release a new episode at the end of each month.
Don’t miss the other episodes: Enbridge’s Line 9, Migrant Detention and Ring of Fire: Ontario’s Tar Sands. Like The Media Co-op on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date!
New Board to Lead The Media Co-op
We are thrilled to announce that a new Board of Directors was elected at our October 2016 Annual General Assembly! The board will lead the organization forward through our next phase, which we will tell you more about soon. Meet the new Media Co-op Board:
A member of the Nlaka’Pamux nation in the southern interior of “British Columbia,” Billie first got involved in writing and publishing in 1996 when she co-founded Redwire Magazine. Its purpose was empowering and giving a voice to Native youth. Billie brings a solid understanding of sovereignty and globalization, along with good connections to land defenders and organizers in North America, to The Media Co-op Board.
Brenna is a climate justice-radio-making guest and settler in Toronto. She got her start in community radio at CFRC 101.9fm in Kingston, Ontario. In January 2016, Brenna co-founded the Built Environment, a podcast exploring climate action and community resistance to violence in Canada.
David first got into journalism from his involvement in the Quebec climate movement, when he posted content to The Media Co-op because no one else was writing in English about what was happening in francophone communities. David has been a Media Co-op editor since the spring. You can see his writings for The Media Co-op here. He has also written for Briarpatch Magazine, The Tyee, and VICE.
Jon has been involved in various social struggles for a few years now, with a focus on climate justice and student movement organizing, including the campaign against Energy East and fracking in Quebec’s Gaspesie region. Jon has written for rabble.ca and The Media Co-op. He is currently the editor of the Opinions section at The Link, a student newspaper run out of Concordia University.
Nadia has been a passionate participant and activist in independent media and social movements for several years. Following her time as an Assistant Editor at The Media Co-op, Nadia went on to become a producer and member of the editorial team at The Real News Network, and served as an editorial intern at The Nation Magazine.
Thank you for your continued support! We always love hearing from you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas, stories, and suggestions and we'll respond as soon as we can.
À la Coop Média, on a hâte de se remettre à la production de média populaire et puissante en 2017. Voici quelques nouveautés pour lancer le tout.
L’isolement cellulaire dans les prisons canadiennes: écoutez et partagez la dernière émission du Dominion Podcast (émission en Anglais)
Dans cette émission du Dominion Podcast nous avons abordé le recours à l'isolement cellulaire dans les prisons canadiennes.
On a parlé de l'histoire de l'isolement cellulaire au Canada avec Debra Parkes (présidente des études féministes en droit à Allard School of Law), avec Alex (aumônier de prison fédérale) de ce qui se passe dans les prisons québécoises, et aussi avec l'ex-détenue Bobby Lee Worm de son vécu d’avoir été gardé en isolement cellulaire pendant plus de trois ans.
Le Dominion Podcast est enregistré aux studios de CKUT sur le territoire occupé de Tio'tiah:ke (Montreal), qui se trouve sur le territoire Kanien'keha:ka. Inscrivez-vous avec votre application podcast ou suivez-nous sur Soundcloud.
Nous sortons une nouvelle émission à la fin de chaque mois.
Ne manquez pas les autres émissions: Enbridge’s Line 9, Migrant Detention et Ring of Fire: Ontario’s Tar Sands. Aimez la Coop Média sur Facebook et suivez nous sur Twitter pour rester à l'affût!
Un nouveau conseil d’administration dirigera la Coop Média
On est ravies de vous annoncer qu’un nouveau CA a été élu à notre assemblée générale annuelle en octobre 2016 ! Le CA dirigera notre organisme dans une prochaine phase qu’on vous annoncera sous peu. On vous présente notre nouveau CA:
Membre de la nation Nlaka’Pamux à l’Intérieur-Sud de la «Colombie-Britannique», Billie a commencé à écrire et à publier en 1996 en tant que cofondatrice de Redwire Magazine. Le but de cette publication était de faire de l’empowerment auprès des jeunes autochtones et de leur donner une voix. Billie amène au CA de la Coop Média sa grande connaissance de la souveraineté et de la mondialisation ainsi que des liens solides avec des défenseurs du territoire et des militants en Amérique du Nord.
Brenna est une faiseuse-de-radio-justice-climatique en tant qu’invité et colon à Toronto. Elle a commencé en radio à CFRC 101.9 fm à Kingston, en Ontario. En Janvier 2016, Brenna a été la cofondatrice de Built Environment, un podcast qui explore l’action climatique et la résistance communautaire à la violence au Canada.
David a commencé à faire du journalisme à travers son implication dans le mouvement climatique au Québec, publiant du contenu sur le site de la CoopMédia parce que personne d’autre n’écrivait en anglais sur ce qui se passait dans des communautés francophones. David travail en tant que rédacteur avec la Coop depuis le printemps. Vous pouvez lire ce qu’il a écrit pour la CoopMédia ici. Il a aussi déjà été publié par Briarpatch Magazine, The Tyee, et VICE.
Jon a été impliqué dans plusieurs luttes sociales depuis de nombreuses années, avec une concentration sur la justice climatique et la mobilisation du mouvement étudiant, y compris la campagne contre Énergie Est et la fracturation hydraulique dans la région québécoise de Gaspésie. Jon a déjà écrit pour rabble.ca et la Coop Média. Il est présentement rédacteur de la section Opinions pour The Link, un journal étudiant à l’Université Concordia.
Nadia est une participante et militante passionnée dans le monde de média indépendante et dans les mouvements sociaux depuis plusieurs années. Après avoir travaillé en tant que Rédactrice Adjointe à la Coop Média, Nadia est devenue réalisatrice et membre de l’équipe de rédaction pour The Real News Network et a faite un stage en rédaction avec The Nation Magazine.
Merci de votre soutien continue! On aime toujours avoir de vos nouvelles. Envoyez-nous un courriel avec vos idées, histoires, et suggestions à email@example.com et nous vous répondrons dès que possible.
This episode of GroundWire was hosted on the traditional territory of the Tla’amin Nation at CJMP and produced on traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron, and Wendat peoples in London, Ontario by Braden Alexander
Vancouver Women’s March: Rhiannin Bennet, Nancy Trigueros, and Khelsilem | Braden Alexander, GroundWire; Suzette Cullen; Susan Mullan
Community stories and building the canoe of reconciliation | Carrie Swiggum, CJMP
Premier Christy Clark’s contentious visit to Powell River | Courtney Harrop; Zoe Ludski
Algonquins of Barriere Lake address mining concerns on their territory | Omme-Salme Rahemtullah, GroundWire; Laith Marouf
Shallow Waters - Ta’kaiya Blaney
Thanks to all our contributors for this week’s episode. We also thank Carrie Swiggum, Nola Poirer, and Roger Thorn.
Pitch to GroundWire!
Take part in the next episode of GroundWire being produced by CFUR in Prince George, BC! In advance of the upcoming Homelessness Marathon, GroundWire is seeking news about poverty and homelessness across Canada. The deadline for pitches is Saturday Feb 4, and final pieces is Thursday Feb 9. Check out our priority bureaus and our format here. Don't worry if your piece, or raw audio, doesn't fit our GW requirements, we can edit it!
Tune in again on February 13 for the next episode of GroundWire!
January 26, 2017
Unceded Nlaka'Pamux Territory
The Nlaka'Pamux Nation stance on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project on our Territory.
We as members of the Nlaka'Pamux nation, recognize Tribal Law as the highest law of the land. We are guided in our decision by our Ancestors, and seek to ensure the well being of our grandchildren and all life on our territory. Our decision is also guided by the impacts that the Trans Mountain Pipeline has on the neighbouring territories.
We were never consulted when the original Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953. Kinder Morgan has never properly dealt with the ruptures and oil spills that have taken place on our territory. Currently, the federal government and Kinder Morgan are attempting to force us make our decision so they can build their project according to their schedule.
Due to this history and current actions from the Federal Government and Kinder Morgan, we will not tolerate the Trans Mountain expansion, anywhere on our Traditional Territory. In fact, we want the original Trans Mountain Pipeline to be removed completely from our territory. We wish for our concerns to be met peacefully and reasonably, but in the case that they aren't; we vow to stand up for any person from the Nlaka'Pamux nation, or any of our allies if they are criminalized or targeted in any manner, for opposing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
We also see that all forms of fossil fuel needs to be left in Mother Earth and will work with all like-minded people to protect the land, air, water and all life.
All Our Relations
The Traditional Nlaka'Pamux Gathering in "Merritt BC", on unceded Nlaka'Pamux Territory took place on January 22, 2017. This is the guest panel featuring Jody Leon from Secwepemc Nation and Christine Jack from St'at'imc Nation speaking about the impacts of Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on their respective territories.
COAST SALISH TERITORY - More than 15,000 in Vancouver joined millions around the world Saturday protesting gross and garish new US President Trump. In Vancouver, the march wound its way past the gross and garish new Trump Tower downtown.
This episode of GW was produced on traditional territory of the Sto:Lo nation in Abbotsford, British Columbia at CIVL 101.7FM.
-Justice for women in the Province of BC | Common Law Radio, CFRO, Vancouver’s Coop Radio;
-Charges dropped against the Enbridge Line 9 water protectors | David Gray-Donald and Jon Milton, The Media Co-op, with audio from the Dominion Podcast;
-Needed employment standards in BC | CJSF’s Gorilla Radio
-The passing of Indigenous leader and activist Arthur Manuel | Gretchen King, CKUT, with Alan Soni and Golbon Moltaji from CHUO
-Sexual violence against Asian communities at UBC and beyond | CiTR’s Gender Empowerment Collective
Community Radio Report:
-CIVL Radio’s Creative Dialogue Project
Saturday Rain by In Drift and Wild Card by Kin
Thanks to all contributors, including Common Law Radio (CFRO), David Gray-Donald and Jon Milton (The Media Co-op & Dominion Podcast), Gorilla Radio (CJSF), Gender Empowerment Collective (CiTR), Alan Soni (CHUO ), and Golbon Moltaji (CHUO)! We also thank Glen Ess, Gretchen King, and Omme-Salma Rahemtullah for this episode.
Tune in to hear GroundWire on your local community radio station or download at www.groundwirenews.ca
In September of 2015, Grand Chief Ed John was hired by the province of British Columbia “to provide advice on how to address the inordinate number of Indigenous children in care of government.” For clarification, the BC government asked for advice from the Chair of the First Nations Summit on how to stop itself from forcibly removing the children of Indigenous nations.
On November 21, 2016, John’s report was released: “Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification – From Root Causes to Root Solutions.” Unfortunately, it does not feature the most obvious solution to the problem – the solution proposed over and over by Indigenous leaders; the solution which families and communities have fought for, tooth and nail: the removal of state child-apprehension programs from interference among peoples with whom Canada has no treaty, and over whom Canada has no jurisdiction.
Instead, the report calls firstly for increased funding to the provincial Ministry of Child and Family Services, in order to support the presence of more government-accredited social workers in a Ministry office on every reserve. And lastly, for Canada-wide legislation dictating the terms by which Indigenous Peoples may participate in child welfare.
There is a vast disconnect between the stories reported and the recommendations ensuing. The stories: anger, heartbreak, loss and irreparable harm caused by all-powerful MCFD agents demanding nuclear-family scenarios from extended-family cultures.
The recommendations: nothing less than re-institution of the Indian Agent. The highest recommended level of community engagement is a “nation-to-nation” protocol between the Indigenous party and the MCFD regional office (which is not a nation). After that, in the long term, an Indigenous community can take steps to replace the on-reserve agent with a bureaucrat of their own making, following federal prescriptions for the fulfillment of Ministry requirements.
There are several further, eerie shades to this report. One appears in the opening paragraphs, where the late Tl’azt’en warrior Chief, Harry Pierre, is quoted: “In our time, the helpers would come to help the mother and father...they would remind the parents of their responsibility.” Ed John does not refer in his report to any character resembling a “helper,” such as is described by Pierre, except the newly mandated on-reserve social worker.
John avoids directly identifying the “root causes” of BC’s excessive child-removal program, except to hint that they were planted in Indigenous communities by the government. And now –however unexpectedly – he lays out an agenda whereby those causes are to be corrected by planting alongside them the government itself. Thus providing “root solutions.”
No part of these recommendations pursues Indigenous autonomy in their continuing, unsurrendered jurisdiction over these matters. Although UN declarations are referenced, the report’s recommendations ignore international recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination, control of their lands and resources and their own natural wealth, and control of their own social, economic and cultural business.
Jurisdiction over Indigenous children
A handful of news articles have appeared on the release of this report, all relying entirely on phrases provided by the government and Ed John’s public remarks. The journalists do not include the hard facts of his main recommendations, but parrot the buzzword jargon which John provided in his summary: “the essence of his 85 recommendations is a call for a jurisdictional transfer of aboriginal child welfare from governments, federal and provincial, to indigenous communities themselves,” reported Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun.
There arises a problem with the definition of “jurisdiction,” which the Grand Chief does not condescend to clarify. Indigenous Peoples expect that “jurisdiction” means their inherent and internationally recognized right of self-determination – their full International Bill of Rights and the wealth of their natural resources that comes with. In this Special Advisor’s report, the word “jurisdiction” is apparently used to refer to “powers delegated to a First Nation by the federal government after agreements releasing and indemnifying the governments and anyone else for past harms, and after ratification of self-government agreements modifying the Aboriginal right to be the rights included in this Agreement, as funded by periodic arrangements with the provincial and federal governments.”
Grand Chief Ed John has had 25 years of experience in promoting these extinguishment agreements, in his role as Chair of the First Nations Summit. The Summit is the regulatory approval and promotion mechanism for First Nations to negotiate Final Agreements under the terms of the BC Treaty Commission. Recently the government has exchanged the word “extinguished” for the word “modified” to describe the transformation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights into “the rights specified in the Agreement.”
He reports on his meeting with the Nisga’a, the first to ratify a Final Agreement in BC, where there have been “no removals of Nisga’a children in the last six years,” and all “because of the existing relationship between Nisga’a and MCFD.” Presumably this is because of their Final Agreement, under the terms of which “workers in Nisga’a communities are hired as auxiliary employees with MCFD.”
This is an example of the highest expression of “jurisdiction” possible under Ed John’s recommendations.
This is a very unimpressive example because it is not entirely true. According to a young Nisga’a woman living in Vancouver, she and her new family have been harassed by MCFD since she was six months pregnant. The Ministry has exacted dreadful invasions of her life, all on pain of losing her infant child if she does not comply. When questioned about assistance available to her as a Nisga’a citizen, who one would expect to have benefit of this “all possible because of the existing relationship between Nisga’a and MCFD,” she explained that this was not considered a good or even viable option by other young Nisga’a families she had asked. This particular young woman is mature, extremely intelligent, capable, and focused on her son – but she made the mistake of reporting to an Aboriginal liaison worker that she had had a fight with her boyfriend.
“Jurisdiction” here means perhaps even less.
The BC government press release announcing the report also included the news that “Of the recommendations directed at MCFD, work on 40 of them is either being wrapped into the ministry’s multi-year operations plan or is currently underway.” It seems that the report has outlined some extremely achievable goals for the provincial government.
Or is that a bad translation too? The report was also described by the province as a key to “improve outcomes for Indigenous children and youth by changing focus from intervention and separation to strengthening families.” However, there are no recommendations pertaining to this at all – except possibly #17, a reminder list of procedural obligations for BC judges, including that they should “make every possible effort to keep siblings together in their orders.” And possibly #37? Another $4 million to INAC and MCFD in “family preservation funding”?
The 220 page report is largely made up of highlighted quotes from BC’s Child Family and Community Services Act, and is perhaps most useful as a guide to the Act itself. Most of the recommendations concern implementing the Act at deeper and deeper levels within Indigenous communities. Focusing heavily on government handouts about its finer instruments of inducting Indigenous youth into state “care”, the report runs the gamut of ‘Delegated Aboriginal Agencies’ and ‘Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards and Indicators’ and ‘Wrapping our Ways Around Them’ – a guidebook “based on the understanding that Aboriginal peoples need to understand how to work within the current systems.”
And here, after summarizing all these, the first Recommendation appears:
#1: MCFD and INAC invest in the development and delivery of child and family services directly within First Nations communities in BC, through the following specific actions:
• MCFD and INAC commit to invest an additional $8 million annually to increase the number of social workers, support workers, and others serving First Nations communities in BC by at least 92 FTEs over the next two years;
• MCFD take immediate action to ensure that the additional front-line staff identified above are placed directly within First Nations communities in BC;
• MCFD and INAC work together to ensure that a child and family liaison and advocate is funded for each First Nation community as a support service to parents, families, leaders, and members who require support within the community or to navigate the child welfare system; and
• MCFD, with the objective of maximizing its child safety recruitment, review the entry-level qualifications for front-line workers to consider educational and experiential requirements for child safety positions.
Of all the grandmothers’ statements and community advocates’ outlines of internal remedy, those are not the characters elevated in the Grand Chief’s recommendations.
It is not until Recommendations 5 and 6 that First Nations – or any of them – are mentioned in the proposed new regime: their leaders should meet regularly with regional MCFD officers, and receive lists of the names of their children who are in state care.
A question arises concerning the discrepancy between the funding/hiring/state infrastructure recommendations, and contrary statements in the body of the report like this:
As this report will illustrate, I do not believe it is sufficient to simply refine the existing child welfare structure and authority base with an internally accountable quality assurance framework premised on greater centralization and improved lines of communication. Nor do I believe it will suffice to simply deploy more university-educated social workers, who – though often well intentioned – are without the knowledge and understanding of the Indigenous peoples with whom they work. A bigger and brighter version of the existing children welfare system will not address the concerns or meet the expectations of those Indigenous peoples with whom I met over the course of my engagements as Special Advisor.
And that question is this: did the same person who wrote that statement also write the recommendations? Because the recommendations are all about, are only about, expanding the existing structure; deploying more social workers; and delegating a “refined” version of the existing framework to Indigenous administration.
The Role of Special Advisor
John’s unique commission as “Special Advisor” started two months before his colleague, Bob Plecas, released his commissioned report on the same subject of child welfare. That report is unique in that it attached a dollar figure to the MCFD’s annual operating budget in BC: $2 billion. However, because of a self-disclosed business approach to the matter, when the Plecas Report came out in December, 2015, Indigenous leaders described is as “callous” and “ignorant”, as well as publicly urging John to remove himself from the situation and distance himself from the report. He did neither.
At least one Indigenous organization objected to this Special Advisor role early in the process. The Chilliwack Progress reported: “A resolution approved by Sto:lo Tribal Council is calling for Grand Chief Edward John to step down from his MCFD advisor role... The issues they raise about Chief John have to do with the irreconcilable contradiction between his role as MCFD advisor, as well as a B.C. Leadership Council and First Nations Summit Task Group member: "The Minister and Deputy Minister have stated in writing and in public that they are not required to consult First Nations leaders and organizations such as the First Nations Health Council because they hired Grand Chief Edward John.””
Others have commented in social media outlets since the release of the report. “Indigenous child welfare requires traditional ways, not white government interference!” exclaimed Hereditary Chief Kakila of Tenas Lake, St’at’imc. “The First Nations Summit is about money, not about solutions for community needs. In order to protect the child you must first protect the parents! You must build a healthy community that is the family structure! A child needs love, kindness and nurture - not millions of dollars for social workers!”
The First Nations Summit, the center of John’s career, is the state-constituted body which represents First Nations in BC treaty negotiations. This is not widely regarded as authentic representation of Indigenous peoples, although the BC government has always allowed the lines to blur: “Ed John has no mandate to represent anything. Another Christy Clark scam.” – Morris Amos, Haisla.
As to the legal reality of Indigenous Peoples’ jurisdiction, some traditional leaders are grim: “Unceded lands but tightly in the grip of these Uncle Tomahawks and Christy Clark. And they ignore us hereditary chiefs. There's no way to get at them. It would take an organizing effort of epic proportions to combat this government-funded machine with so many entrenched "Grand Chiefs” and all those lofty titles they give themselves.” - Ron George, Hereditary leader from the Deskayway House of Wet’suwet’en:
A Note on the Cipher
Entrenched dominance jargon throws shade on the few bright Indigenous-led initiatives that are barely referenced in the Grand Chief’s report. He repeats the "fact" that "the federal government has jurisdiction over Indians..." three times.
In one of the only references to authentic Indigenous aspirations, John couches the internationally recognized Indigenous Peoples’ right of self-determination within Canadian-defined “self-government.” He literally presents the notion of “a First Nation to move toward fully exercising its right of self-determination as an aspect of self-government.”
In order to crack this code language, one must appreciate that whatever the government of Canada recognizes as an Aboriginal right, in this case “self-government” (now defined by the “First Nations Governance Act”), is therefore something that can only be safely exercised in a manner in which Canada approves and recognizes and legislates it. It is simply an act of deception to include the words “self-determination” in a context which precludes the meaning of that right.
In order to understand Grand Chief John’s report, one must have several elite keys to decipher the code. For example, a deconstruction of this paragraph:
“The report, however, also recognizes and speaks to the period of transition currently underway as Indigenous peoples and communities transition away from governance under the Indian Act, and work to rebuild our governance capacity, core governance institutions, and assert our jurisdiction based on the needs and priorities determined by our own communities. In recognition of this important period of transition, and motivated by the desire that no child, parent, family, or community be left behind, the report also recommends specific shorter-term actions that should be taken to improve legislative and administrative measures relating to the welfare of Indigenous children, families, and communities.”
“period of transition” = implementation of former Prime Minister Harper’s Bill C-45 omnibus legislation which sparked the Idle No More movement in reaction to its sweeping codification of limited and delegated Aboriginal rights, such as in the cutting of Constitutional Non-Derogation clauses; the First Nations Financial Transparency Act; First Nations Governance Act; First Nations Land Management Act; First Nations Education Act; etc. * also implementation of the federal government’s “Secret” (otherwise unnamed) document on adapting federal policy to “reconciliation” following the Supreme Court rulings on Haida and Taku in 2004.
“away from governance under the Indian Act” = towards Final Agreements in the BC treaty process and under the federal Comprehensive Claims Policy (extinguishment agreements), and effectively into corporate entities with municipal status under provincial legislations
“rebuild our governance capacity” = turn Indian Act Bands into corporate models under the First Nations Governance Act, exercising “Aboriginal rights” as allowed and delegated by Canada
“our jurisdiction” = meaning, post-transition delegated powers
“specific shorter-term actions” = also known as “Interim Measures” in the BC treaty process, referring to unilateral administrative actions, deals and programs by the state
“legislative and administrative measures” = actions taken by the state
“welfare of Indigenous children, families, and communities” = no clear meaning. When this phrase follows a recipe for assimilation into Canadian minority status such as in the paragraph above, “welfare” probably literally means measurable statistics and indicators such as educational achievement, life expectancy and economic status comparable to other Canadians, measured according to Canadian values rather than Indigenous values (which would also include identity, language, autonomy, independence, ecological sustainability, cultural cohesion)
The report is a collection of headlines unsupported by corroborating details. This way, a reporter can reference these headlines as if they are representative of the content of his report. Except the black and white recommendations, which do not support the headlines.
This is a writing genre that Ed John has perfected over many years of his career in the Indian Industry. John has dispersed empty rhetoric, while never taking any action whatsoever, as the Chair of the First Nations Summit; as BC Minister for Children and Families; as a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues – in which capacity he often and profoundly misrepresented events in the state of Canada, most notably in his characterization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a product of Indigenous decision.
The trouble with having such a career is that this tradesman actually depends on continuing, even enriching the Indian Industry. Or, as a comparable character, a junior minister in the BC cabinet, once put it: “It’s not about making it work – it’s about keeping it working.”
For relevant and meaningful reports on Indigenous mobilization to re-take control of their children and families, please see a developing archive on the subject of Canada’s forcibly removing Indigenous children from their homes and families: State of Indigenous Child Removal ihraamorg.wordpress.com
A timeline to put the Grand Chief’s recommendations in historical context:
- In 1920 the Canadian legacy began, with enforcing attendance of all Indian children in Indian Residential Schools. This was, as we know, “to kill the Indian in the child” and make sure there would be “no more Indian problem.”
- Into the 1960s, enforced attendance was relaxed and some children did not go to IRS.
- In the 1960s and 70s, tens of thousands of Indigenous children were kidnapped from public places, from maternity wards, and from homes by state officials mandated to find neglect and remove children to non-native homes, severed from all knowledge of their true identity.
- From the 1970s to present, the state has imposed impossible criteria on Indigenous families to keep their children, with no accountability, apparently, to anyone, and no real recourse for families. The only “deliverable” appears to be the children themselves: out of their communities and into foreign homes.
- In 2016, Ed John recommends that the Ministry responsible for half a century of forcible removal of children be located by satellite offices directly inside Indigenous communities, thus rooting government control of family life in the heart of the community. With the option for Indigenous Peoples to eventually run that particular machine themselves, by agreement, and be accountable to Canadian taxpayers.Files attached to this post: Report of the Special Advisor to BC regarding Aboriginal children in state care. Nov 21 2016.
TD Rememberance Committee Release:
VANCOUVER - Mourners gathered to mark the untimely passing of TD Securities with a public funeral at its downtown Vancouver location. TD Securities died in its Toronto home last Monday, after being attacked by its pet black snake.
In an emotional display, mourners gave their respects to the fallen bank with speeches, and a communal burial ceremony, offering members of the public an opportunity to mark this devastating loss. Mourners remembered TD for its key role as a leader in supporting the development of fossil fuel infrastructure and extractive industries.
Mourners, who were primarily from the local group the TD Remembrance Committee (TDRC), spoke to this legacy, highlighting TD’s critical role as a funder of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, approved last week by Justin Trudeau. This pipeline will:
Add seven times as many tankers per month to Vancouver’s narrow Burrard Inlet harbor, posing a direct risk to the fragile coastal ecosystem;
Threaten thousands of jobs in the coastal economy;
Violate Indigenous land rights; and
Unleash global warming pollution 56 times the rate of the entire City of Vancouver.
Mourners declared they would remember TD’s commitment to the climate crisis, celebrating TD as an, oft misunderstood visionary in its enduring support of US energy independence.
“TD was willing to take risks that no other company would,” said Sarah, a member of TDRC. Sara went on to cite the unpopular stance TD took in supporting the recently rerouted Dakota Access Pipeline, which TD funded upwards of $360 million. The pipeline, which will carry 570,000 barrels of oil a day, drew the attention of the world when tens of thousands of land and water protectors traveled to support the Standing Rock Souix Nation in their vow to stop the pipeline from crossing their ancestral lands.
“TD just wouldn’t be bullied,” Jeremy, a lead TDRC organizer contributed, saying that even when organizations like Amnesty International documented wide scale human rights abuses perpetrated by local police and pipeline guards at Standing Rock, “TD didn’t divest.” Water and land protectors were met with dogs, pepper spray, mace, rubber-coated bullets, shock grenades, and a mine-resistant armoured vehicle, among others.
RBC and Scotiabank, also leading funders of the climate crisis, have committed to increase their extractive industry funding portfolios to ensure that companies are not impacted in the wake of TD Securities’ death. Citizen groups like TDRC have also begun funding drives.
Jay, a community member who was also in attendance at the funeral with his 5 year-old daughter, held a view quite different from the TDRC members, stating that “the Trudeau government, Kinder Morgan, and banks with similar portfolios and funding practices might have something to learn from the events in North Dakota.” Jay went on to suggest that while TD’s death is publicly being reported as a, “freak pet accident,” some believe that it might actually be directly “linked to TD’s role in funding extractive industries.” Jay suggested that everyone who held accounts with the now defunct TD Securities might consider moving their funds over to a local credit union.
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