Bill McKibben just blogged about Idle No More here:
But I sense that it's every bit as important as the Occupy movement that transfixed the world a year ago; it feels like it wells up from the same kind of long-postponed and deeply-felt passion that powered the Arab spring. And I know firsthand that many of its organizers are among the most committed and skilled activists I've ever come across. In fact, if Occupy's weakness was that it lacked roots (it had to take over public places, after all, which proved hard to hold on to), this new movement's great strength is that its roots go back farther than history. More than any other people on this continent, they know what exploitation and colonization are all about, and so it's natural that at a moment of great need they're leading the resistance to the most profound corporatization we've ever seen. I mean, we've just come off the hottest year ever in America, the year when we broke the Arctic ice cap; the ocean is 30 percent more acidic than it was when I was born.For background information about this movement for indigenous rights and environmental protection, see my previous diary explaining Idle No More, its importance for slowing global warming and the Canadian political context.
Global Day of Action:
#IdleNoMore Global Day of Action, Solidarity & Resurgence: January 11, 2013. We are calling on all nations and peoples, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to stand together and take action in your community in support of Idle No More—the rising, Indigenous Peoples' Movement.
To find an event in your area including many planned throughout the US, check the J11 Action website. The site has links to Facebook and Twitter where you can find updated information on local events. If you can't attend, you can contribute by using social media to spread the word.
Here is a map where you can view the events for tomorrow, and add your own event. As you can see, there are already well over a hundred Idle No More events and the number is growing.
Government - First Nations Meeting Tomorrow:
Last week, Harper announced that he will finally meet with First Nations leaders and Chief Spence. Harper has said he'll only attend the opening for half an hour and then return for an hour's conclusion. All along, Chief Spence has requested the participation of the Governor General, who also attended last year's summit between the Government and First Nations. However, it appears the GG will only appear at a ceremonial event after the actual meeting.
Chief Spence and other leaders have said they won't attend without the Prime Minister and the Governor General's participation together. The situation is quite literally changing by the minute, so I'll post an update when there's more definitive information. But I wanted the community to know about the Global Day of Action asap.
Tar Sands and Idle No More:
This environmental report on tar sands pollution just came out Monday (as also reported in the NYT.) The study confirms exactly what the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has been saying about adverse health effects escalating over 40 years, while they were told "the contaminants were naturally occurring" and had no relation to tar sands development.
The peer-reviewed study, published Monday by a research team including Environment Canada scientists, showed pollution, though it remains low, is as much as 23 times higher than predevelopment levels 50 years ago, extending as far as 90 kilometres from industrial development and rising.Also this week, two Alberta First Nations affected by the tar sands launched a legal challenge to the omnibus budget bill C-45. This bill changed numerous Canadian laws, including reserve land pollcy and century-old protections for over two million lakes and rivers. Opposition to bill C-45 led to the founding of Idle No More.
In particular, researchers found levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have risen roughly at the same pace as development in six nearby lakes. PAHs are a category of toxic chemical compounds that are suspected carcinogens and are linked to infertility, immune disorders and fish mutation.
Critically, development and pollution are increasing, said John Smol, a Queen’s University professor, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and study co-author. “You only have to start doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations of, in 15 years, where they might be,” he said.
The two First Nations are asking the Federal Court for a judicial review of parts of Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, focusing particularly on changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act....Métis and Non-status Indians win Legal Fight:
“There’s no future if this legislation is enforced. It pretty much strips us of our treaty rights, then we’ll have empty treaties that the government will no longer have to worry about.... The federal and provincial government have always seemed to want to get us out of the way to continue their development without any interruption,” he said. “We feel this is one of the ways they’re trying to get us out of the way so they don’t have to deal with us.”
The legal challenge comes as the grassroots Idle No More movement protests the Harper government’s omnibus budget bill, with demonstrators claiming the legislation threatens their treaty rights as set out in the Constitution.
This week CBC reported that the federal government has lost the latest battle in a 13-year legal fight over its responsibilities to Métis and non-status Indians. The decision ends decades of jurisdictional limbo between federal and provincial government, for 600,000 citizens (2% of Canada's population). Idle No More has already united Métis and First Nations people in joint action.
On Tuesday, the Federal Court ruled that 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status Indians in Canada are indeed "Indians" under the Constitution Act, and fall under federal jurisdiction... "There is no dispute that the Crown has a fiduciary relationship with aboriginal people both historically and pursuant to section 35 (of the Constitution)," Phelan writes.UN Monitoring Situation in Canada:
Yesterday the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues James Anaya issued a statement encouraging dialogue in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Also yesterday, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations issued a press release that Anaya has requested on three separate occasions a visa so that he can visit Canada and he has been refused on every occasion. (Update: Anaya has refuted that he was denied a visa. However, in early 2012 he requested an official visit in his UN capacity and has since reiterated that request, but has not yet received a formal response.)
The independent expert stressed that the dialogue between the Government and First Nations should proceed in accordance with standards expressed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their distinct identities and cultures as a basis of their development and place in the world, to pursue their own destinies under conditions of equality, and to have secure rights over lands and resources, with due regard for their traditional patterns of use and occupancy.Once there's more definitive information about tomorrow's meeting I'll post an update here.
In particular, Mr. Anaya highlighted one of the preambles in the Declaration which affirms that treaties, agreements and other arrangements are the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States...
“I will continue to monitor developments as I hold out hope that the 11 January meeting will prompt meaningful and restorative action by the Government and First Nations leadership,” Mr. Anaya added.