Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the category “First Nations”

As Chief Spence Starves

An excerpt from:
As Chief Spence Starves, Canadians Awaken from Idleness and Remember Their Roots

This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.

The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.

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Stand for Social Justice

Jeff Denis, Assistant Professor of Sociology at McMaster University analyzed the First Nations demonstrations well when he said;

“For non-native people, Idle No More is a matter of social and environmental justice. When corporate profit is privileged over the health of our lands and waters, we all suffer. When government stifles debate, democracy is diminished. Bill C-45 is just the latest in a slew of legislation that undermines Canadians’ rights. In standing against it, the First Nations are standing for us too. If our government , PM Harper in particular, does not respect Indigenous and treaty rights, then the very legitimacy of the Canadian state — and thus of all our citizenship rights — is in doubt also. That’s what Idle No More is about.”

Mr. Harper has absolutely not a moral fiber in his body. He knows that a meeting with the Chiefs can only lead to repealing the government’s 2 omnibus bills passed earlier this year. They knew before passing the legislation that they had a constitutional obligation to meet with First Nations, they didn’t. The senate also knew the same before approving the two omnibus bills, they approved them both regardless. The Governor General knew the legislation needed First Nations consultation first, he gave both Royal Assent dispite the constitutional law. Does the matter now need to be settled in court?

First Nations vs Enbridge

Justice Scales on Maple Leaf

Justice is a Canadian Right

Without doubt, the Supreme Court will hear many a case of First Nations vs Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, Canada, Alberta, BC. I have been conducting a search of Supreme Court rulings Aboriginals/First Nations vs. Crown/Industry. It appears that the court has a very sympathetic judicial ear toward First Nations claims and rights.
See: Aboriginal Rights and Title

When considering; the First Nations land entitlements, the UN Declaration on Aboriginal Rights, The Moratorium on tankers in the BC North Coast and the Coastal Reconciliation Protocol, all seems a done deal in favor of preventing the pipeline project from going through. However:

Given that PM Stephen Harper has this pipeline as a pet project and has all but assured approval to both Enbridge and the Chinese Government along with his disdain for NGOs and his basic denial that the UN declaration has sway under Canadian Law or that the tanker moratorium even exists, should there be suspicion that PM Harper will enact legislation to squelch any decisions, protocols or laws that stand in the way? Since the Supreme Court is appointed, is there a likelihood that he appoints a judiciary more favorable to the Enbridge pipeline position?

In reviewing the decisions of the Courts and the ‘Delgamuukw’ rulings which compel all parties to reaffirm the treaty process through negotiation, and since the British Columbia Treaty Commission has yet to make final rulings on Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan, and Tsimshian land claims, it seems probable that the settlements with First Nations should precede the final ruling on the Northern Gateway Project. If that be the case, the Supreme Court will definitely become involved and the process could take up to 20 years before its all over.

Two Supreme Court (1997) statements bear special consideration:

1. Aboriginal title lands must not be used in a way that is irreconcilable with the nature of the group’s attachment to the land.

2. In order for the Crown to justify an infringement of Aboriginal title, it must demonstrate a compelling and substantive legislative objective, it must have consulted with the Aboriginal group prior to acting, and in some cases, compensation may be required.

The clause; “and in some cases, compensation may be required.” Could this be interpreted; The Government may infringe on rights and grant compensation regardless of the First Nations opposition?

Understanding First Nations

The Wet’suwet’en have said no! This is the final word that our people will say on this. This is final law and cannot be broken. My wish is that Government/Industry would learn about the Wet’suwet’en, and understand that they have no right to go against the Decree of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs/Clan/Members.
Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en First Nation

My first encounter with First Nations people in North Coast BC was in 1957 when I worked for a summer aboard a mission boat sailing out of Alert Bay. White people referred to the ‘natives’ collectively as Indians, all the same with no real identity. Quaint sounding names such as, Kwakwaka’wakw, were just map references with no connection with the people that lived there. Names such as Cowichan, Tzouhalem, Qualicum or Nanaimo. No one seemed to care what the meaning of the names were, they were just names.

Raven and Sisiutl, 1995 Richard Hunt

Raven and Sisiutl, 1995 Richard Hunt, Kwa-Gulth Arts Ltd.


The ‘Indians’ who lived in Alert Bay and had continuous dealings with and were forced to abide by white customs and rules seemed to have an underlying bitterness that whites just could not understand. Here they had all they needed. Houses built for them, schools, stores, a hospital; what more do they want? How ungrateful.

Visiting villages, Hopetown, Kingcome, and others, ‘Churched’ names for native villages, but the people were by far more friendly and welcoming away from the white culture. Attending ceremonies at their longhouses and listening to the stories of the elders I was too young and naive then to see the yearning in their hearts, like the longing for a lost treasure. I never understood this until my own father became ill. A man who had served all his life in the British Army in India and was forced to find a new life when India gained independence. At the age of 50, he never really fit in with Canadian culture and later when he took sick and was unable to work, that same look of longing was in his face. His stories of how it was had that familiar tone I had heard from the Elders in those native villages.

My impression of First Nations people changed dramatically, although even working in the North, my attitude was still generally based on encounters through the ‘white’ culture, how they were adapting. It wasn’t until the day our Dept. of Fisheries vessel was assigned to attend the opening of the Museum at Bella Bella, First Nations name, Heiltsuk, people of Wáglísla. When the missionaries came to convert the native population, they stole nearly all of the aboriginal tools and artifacts. Churches and museums and private collectors were now giving many of the stolen items back. Like a u’mista, a Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations term for ransom paid, the lost were returning.

An account of the Museum and Artifacts can be found here Looking for Bella Bella.

My lasting impression came from talking with the Chief at Bella Bella that day. No bitterness toward the people who had raided their village nearly 100 years ago but a very understanding, almost philosophical approach. He said, “If the church hadn’t taken these artifacts, they would have rotted away and we would not have them today.” The First Nations, just as all aboriginals, were and still are in tradition, a people of oral history, not souvenirs.

One concept that needs understanding by all Canadians; First Nations culture, passed down through the oral stories by the elders, is not just history. It is their roots, a people tied to the land they live in, the oneness of nature and peoples. Like religious doctrine it encompasses the past, present and future. To threaten the land is to threaten the peoples themselves.

Imagine if a corporation threatened to take away, destroy your belief system, be it Christian, Jewish, Islam, Tao, Hindu or any other. What would be the reaction for Canadians if in the event of a corporate mistake, our democratic governance would come to an end? An oil spill on the North Coast threatens the land of the First Nations, threatens the First Nations traditions, threatens the peoples themselves. No u’mista will bring it back. There is no ransom that can be paid. When a Chief makes a decree or an agreement, he speaks not only for his people today, he speaks for all the generations to come.

Panda Pipeline

Panda Pipeline.

Open Question

How can the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project continue, and continue spending millions of taxpayers dollars on a Joint Review Panel, while:

1. There is a moratorium on crude oil tankers in the BC North Coast in place. This moratorium must be set aside first both by the BC Legislature and the Government of Canada.

2. BC has pledged to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 and endorsed by the Harper government in 2010 which says; states should obtain from indigenous peoples “their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” Without First Nations consent, there can be no approval of the pipeline project.

3. The BC Government and the Premier of BC have an obligation to act accordingly on the First Nations behalf under the Coastal Reconciliation Protocol signed Dec. 10, 2009. Unless the BC Government and Premier Christy Clark abandone this Protocol, they are committed to act on behalf of the Coastal First Nations who are also signatories of this bill.

4. The transport of Alberta crude by tanker through the Port of Kitamat has been “dis-allowed” by all 9 of the Coastal First Nations who need to give consent to the project first before it can go ahead. The declaration to not allow the pipeline through their lands has been ratified 100% by all Coastal First Nations involved.

By Law then, the conclusion must be:
In respect to First Nations Rights and Law, in respect of the BC Governments obligation to First Nations people, and to uphold the Laws of Canada, our Prime Minister and the Government of Alberta must abandon their governments position that the Pipeline is “Beneficial for Canada” and put an end to Enbridge pipeline and export ambitions via the Gateway project.

To allow this project to continue is inviting 5 to 10 years of lawsuits and litigation costing several billion. Or is this what the law community wants?

Therefore the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline project is effectively dead. Shut down the Joint Review Panel and save the millions of dollars it is costing. Unless of couse the PM has been taking lessons from Chinese politics and is about to disregard Canadian Law and trample on peoples rights.

Gateway Pipeline a NO-GO

The Enbridge Gateway Pipeline project is dead.

Stop all proceedings trying to ram this project through, it is over. The pipe dream of the Chinese to export Alberta crude through the Port of Kitamat has been “dis-allowed” by all 9 of the Coastal First Nations who need to give consent to the project first before it can go ahead. The declaration to not allow the pipeline through their lands has been ratified 100% by all Coastal First Nations involved.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 and endorsed by the Harper government in 2010 says; states should obtain from indigenous peoples “their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

To respect First Nations Rights and Law, our Prime Minister must uphold Canadian Law and abandon his governments position that Enbridge is “Beneficial for Canada” and put an end to their pipeline and export ambitions via the Gateway project.

The BC Government and the Premier of BC have an obligation to act accordingly on the First Nations behalf under the Coastal Reconciliation Protocol. Several First Nations, including the Gitga’at First Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo Indian Band, Metlakatla First Nation, Wuikinuxv Nation and the Nuxalk Nation, and Premier Gordon Campbell originally signed the Coastal Reconciliation Protocol on Dec. 10, 2009. The Coastal Reconciliation Protocol provides First Nations people with an additional venue to implement decisions within their respective Territories and negotiate to manage lands and resources within Ancestral Territory to accommodate shared cultural, social, environmental and economic interests.

From: Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief (Chief Na’Moks, Tsayu, Beaver Clan, Head Chief of Tsayu)

“We stand firm in our opposition to this (Enbridge Gateway Pipeline) proposed project. Our law states that if and when the high Chiefs of our Nation (encompassing the entire 22,000 square Kilometers of unceded, undefeated, non Treaty Lands) make a declaration of opposition, then this is final law and cannot be broken.” “The Wet’suwet’en have said no! This is the final word that our people will say on this. My wish is that Government/Industry would learn about the Wet’suwet’en, and understand that they have no right to go against the Decree of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs/Clan/Members.”

Enbridge is a corporation who is trying to buy off the Chiefs and First Nation people instead of respecting their rights and traditions.

From: Sierra Club of BC Foundation

In March, 2010, Coastal First Nations issued a declaration banning tar sands crude oil tanker traffic from their territories. In making the declaration, the Haida, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo, Haisla, Gitga’at and other First Nations exercised their ancestral laws, rights and responsibilities over the waters and lands of their traditional territories.

“As Nations of the Central and North Pacific Coast and Haida Gwaii, it is our custom to share our wealth and live in harmony with the broader human community,” said the declaration. “However, we will not bear the risk to these lands and waters caused by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and crude oil tanker traffic.”

Gitga’at Nation spokesman Cameron Hill says,

“The Gitga’at are of the sea and we have always known that oil & gas tankers in these waters were a horrible and frightening idea.” “It’s all about risks and benefits. For the Gitga’at it’s all risk and no benefits, and for Enbridge it’s all benefits and no risk”.

Haida declaration reads:

“Our culture, our heritage is the child of respect and intimacy with the land and sea. Like the forests, the roots of our people are intertwined such that the greatest troubles cannot overcome us. We owe our existence to Haida Gwaii … the living generation accepts the responsibility to ensure that our heritage is passed on to following generations.”

Haisla Nation chief councilor Ellis Ross explains,

“We don’t feel the benefits of the Northern Gateway pipeline project outweigh the risks to land and sea.”

Heiltsuk Nation Marilyn Slett, elected Chief Councillor, stated;

“We stand behind our coastal First Nation neighbors and the declaration that we all signed that ban oil tankers on our coast.” “We will never support the Enbridge project and we will never support a project that has the potential to destroy our way of life.”

March 23, 2010
First Nations stood as a unified block this week – on the 21st anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill – to announce their opposition to a proposed Tar Sands pipeline.

“We will protect ourselves and the interests of future generations with everything we have because one major oil spill on the coast of British Columbia would wipe us out,” said Gerald Amos, Director, Coastal First Nations, an alliance of nine First Nations. “This bountiful and globally significant coastline cannot bear an oil spill. This is where Enbridge hits a wall.” Read more..

Coastal First Nations from Vancouver Island to the BC/Alaska border are unanimous in their opposition and are joined by the vast majority of First Nations affected along the pipeline route from Kitamaat to Alberta. For more information read the full Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative press release. Download Declaration (pdf)

The First Nations call on the Federal Government to protect BC coastal waters and formally legislate the oil tanker traffic moratorium.

Coastal First Nations – Who We Are
Coastal First Nations is an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. Coastal First Nations includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation, Gitga’at First Nation, Haisla, Metlakatla First Nation, Homalco First Nation, Old Massett Village Council, Skidegate Band Council, and Council of the Haida Nation.

The Coastal First Nations opposition to the pipeline project has been formally endorsed by most all Northern BC First Nations; See list, and many prominant Canadians and environmental groups.
Download An open message to Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel
Council of the Haida Nation – Old Massett Village Council – Skidegate Band Council – Gitga’at First Nation – Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation – Metlakatla First Nation – Haisla Nation – Heiltsuk Nation – Wuikinuxv First Nation – Nuxalk Nation – Lax Kw’alaams First Nation – Gitxaala/Kitkatla First Nation – Carrier Sekani Tribal Council – Wet’suwet’en Nation – Nadleh Whut’en First Nation – Nak’azdli Band – Swan River First Nation – Namgis First Nation – Nanwakolas Council – Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs – Lillooet Tribal Council – St’at’imc Chiefs Council – Canoe Creek Band – Takla First Nation – Siska Indian Band – Kispiox Band Council – Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council – Musgamagw Tsawataineuk – Tribal Council

First Nations that have declared opposition to proposed Enbridge tanker & pipeline project British Columbia and Western Canada Current to December 31 2011

Stop tankers from entering Northern BC waters

Say NO to tankers

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