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View Diary: Yesterday Idle No More's mass protest rocked Canada from coast to coast (78 comments)

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  •  Thanks for covering this issue. (7+ / 0-)

    As a Canadian, I stand in solidarity with Idle No More. I have been shocked -- absolutely flabbergasted! -- by the outright racism and invective I've seen displayed by fellow Canadians these past few weeks on online forums and comment threads. "They just want more money." "They're corrupt." "They're lazy." "They should integrate into society like everyone else." the Idle No More movement is NOT after more money. They're trying to save our environment and our collective butts, you idiots! Sheesh!

    Some people wouldn't know heroism and awe-inspiring sacrifice if it smacked them in the face. /rolls eyes

    Climate activists unite: we need a symbol. A name. A vision. Join the discussion.

    by Eowyn9 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:43:51 PM PST

    •  You shouldn't have included Spence's photo (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimba, chimene, skwimmer

      She's passing very quickly from her current status as "joke" to "utter embarrassment". Her grandstanding and utterly absurd demands aren't winning her any friends.

      •  I have to agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene, skwimmer

        I am in full support of the Idle No More movement, but have been completely turned off by Chief Spence's antics during the last couple of weeks. She is doing the movement more harm than good and should consider getting her ass back home to Attawapiskat to do her fuckin' job. There are people STILL living in squalor on the reserve, no better off than they were last winter, after the reserve received 90 million federal (taxpayer) dollars, so WTF? My advice to the leaders of the movement would be to elevate another reasonable voice to speak for the indigenous people of Canada; this woman is quickly becoming a hinderance to the attainment of fair treatment for our native people.

        "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" Rep. John Lewis

        by Kimba on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:11:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's one thing the INM critics are right about (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skwimmer, Lefty Coaster

          Something has to be done about fiscal accountability a many reserves, not just dumping more money at the problem.

          One of the things that doesn't get shown in the media very often is that while many people live on reserves in places that are in pretty bad shape, there's other places on those same reserves that are nowhere near as bad.

          I grew up near a reserve, and there was a standard rule of thumb that you could cynically use when driving though it: the shape a given house was in was directly proportional to how closely the occupant was related to someone on band council.

          This was probably the inevitable result because of how screwed up the system was thanks to the way the government interacted with First Nations, but whatever the cause the reality is that there were people locally who took advantage of it to do well for themselves at the expense of their neighbours. Any real long term solution has to involve changes on both sides.

          •  OK. It's not my country (0+ / 0-)

            and I don't necessarily know all the details. I also don't know you. But all I can say is, I've heard words like yours often.

            "fiscal accountability" is a buzz phrase for the conservatives down here south of the border. Talking about how "people think that X group of folks have it bad, but you'd be surprised how good some of 'em have it" is also something I've heard repeatedly from conservatives in the States since the days of Reagan's famous "welfare queen."

            Your comment also takes the focus off of what the protest is about: 1) Harper et al changing the law without consulting with First Nations as required by Canadian law, and 2)the energy companies' desire to tear apart whatever lands and laws stand between them and maximum fossil fuel exploitation. It puts the focus on how greedy and financially unaccountable First Nations leaders are.  That looks like a classic deflection to me.

            It's quite possible that there's corruption in the use and allocation of funds on tribal lands in Canada, but the rhetoric you're using causes me some serious distrust.

            Just to clear things up, how do you feel about the part of Harper's budget that affects First Nations? Do you think it was legal? And how do you feel about reducing the powers of the First Nations to restrict access to the energy companies?

            if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:38:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernLiberalinMD, meralda

              Of course it was legal. It was passed according to Parliamentary procedure. That's an entirely different question than if it were right to do it that way.

              And while yes, what I said is used by some people as a way of undermining legitimate complaints, the fact remains that it is nonetheless true and does have a bearing on what goes on.

              One of the rationales used by the government to justify some of the things which critics claim is giving away to resource companies (which is more complicated than that, but we'll leave it there) is that resource development will aid depressed communities by providing job creation and opportunities. The fiscal mismanagement, and this is on both sides, is, in many cases, one of the root causes of the issues which need to be addressed which then is used by the current government to justify their actions.

              I've seen that exact same justification used against my employers (Inuit) by federal governments--and not just Conservative ones--as an excuse why they won't do certain things. "Oh, why are you demanding X when you can't even get Y working?" On the other hand, when the local house is in order, we've been able to point out they're full of shit which helps us to get what we actually want with fewer distractions.

              •  it was legal although apparently the Canadian (0+ / 0-)

                courts said that Harper et al have to consult with the First Nations before changing laws affecting them?

                if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:29:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's a really complicated issue (3+ / 0-)

                  The courts have held that consultation is required when someone, usually a third party, want to use the land, but things before that are a lot less clear.

                  Hmm, what I mean. Okay, if someone wants to do something on  the territory of a First Nation that doesn't have a modern land claim, there is no question whatsoever that meaningful consultation with that First Nation (and other affected communities) is absolutely required before it can proceed. The courts up to the Supreme have ruled on this, and it's been built into newer laws and regulations. However, there isn't a lot of case law concerning what happens before that. If the government changes their internal application, assessment, or administrative processes to make it easier (or harder) to do that something, is there a need to consult? Maybe, maybe not.

                  So, for instance, if someone wants to build a pipeline through traditional territory, they absolutely have to consult before starting work. Does the government have to consult if they change their procedures as to what has to be done to get the required governmental permissions (say the amount of time between an application and when a decision has to be made)? That's not nearly as clear and also vastly more complicated. If consultation is required, is it for absolutely everything ("We want to change the layout of the application form, we need to consult with you on that"), or is it only for the "significant" changes, and what  counts as significant?

                  •  thanks for info (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lefty Coaster

                    I should digest this before further commenting on your country :-)

                    if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

                    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:06:19 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It gets even more complicated (0+ / 0-)

                      There are two types of land claims in Canada: the older treaties (which are very much a product of the 19th century), and the modern comprehensive land claims (dating from the late 1970s on).

                      The modern claims deal with many, if not most, of the issues that are currently before the courts in other areas. Who has control over what land, and what that control is, and the process for allowing people to use it. Environmental assessment. Resource revenue sharing, and outright ownership of natural resources. Consultation, who has to be consulted and what about. Changes in laws which would require the permission of the claim group versus where they have to be consulted versus where they must simply be kept informed. Land use planning, compensation, and so on and so forth.

                      To use the example with which I'm most familiar, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Many of the issues being raised about the government's actions are of simply no relevance to Inuit beneficiaries of the land claim (or residents of Nunavut in general). Inuit do not fall under the Indian Act concerning bands and treaty lands and status and whatnot, so the proposed changes there are irrelevant.  The environmental assessment process is stricter than the federal process and, most importantly, is driven and controlled by the people of Nunavut, especially Inuit. There's explicit requirement for doing benefits agreement for projects of a sufficient size, the Inuit own 20% of the land (and thus control access under their terms and conditions, subject to an appeal process to a surface rights tribunal which hasn't had to be used in the 20 years the claim has been in existence), and the richest (in terms of mineral potential) mineral ground in the territory, so all royalties from any mines there go to them, as well as a cut of all royalties from any project in the territory. And so on and so forth.

                      To put it bluntly, pretty much anything of any size which is proposed to happen in the territory has Inuit input, if not direct decision making, involved before it can take place.

                      As one of my bosses was fond of saying, if you don't have a modern claim you have no interest in allowing anything to happen in your area because you really don't have a say over it. Once you have a modern claim, the attitude changes from "No! We don't want anything to happen!" to "Let's make a deal, with these conditions."

                      •  Richard Harrington (0+ / 0-)

                        Are you familiar with the Toronto Star photographs by Richard Harrington of the starvation and death that took place on the shores of Hudson's Bay in the 1950s? While Canada was relocating Inuit next to Greenland to press its sovereignty issues in midst of the Cold War. How much has changed in 60 years?

                        Approximately 70% of the people in Nunavut still have food security issues, and I assume i don't need to provide you with statistics on the suicide epidemic in northern Canada. Nor should I need to mention the impact of residential schools, the TB epidemic that forced the hunters off their lands and into institutions throughout Canada.

                        But let us speak of your comment: "As one of my bosses was fond of saying, if you don't have a modern claim you have no interest in allowing anything to happen in your area because you really don't have a say over it. Once you have a modern claim, the attitude changes from "No! We don't want anything to happen!" to "Let's make a deal, with these conditions."

                        Not everything is about resource claims, modern or treaty, but sometimes about life and staying alive, and preserving a way of life that survived millennia. You appear to have had the privilege of living among the Inuit, but it appears from your comments you are most concerned about developing the resources in Northern Canada.

                        •  Yeah, okay, a few things (0+ / 0-)

                          Number one, that "way of life that has survived thousands of years"? You might want to inquire as to how people actually live up here as opposed to some romantic version of Nanook of the North.

                          Walk into any community in the territory and you'll see going to work like anyone anywhere else in Canada, living in houses like anywhere else in Canada, watching hockey and movies, playing video games, using the internet. In the entire territory the number of people living the way people have "done for millennia" (by which I assume you mean "living a lot like someone did a century ago") can be on one hand. By someone who has lost all their fingers. Hunting and going on the land is something you do on the weekend, or on vacation, because you can't afford the snowmobile and the sled with the plastic or metal runners, or the ATV for the summer, or the rifle and ammunition, or the stove and its fuel, or the tent, without having some form of income.

                          Anyone who hunts the 'traditional' way, such as one of my co-workers who hunts seal by standing over a seal hole with a harpoon only hunts that way because they don't have to. It's a hobby. Anyone who needs to hunt does so with a firearm, and there's actually very few of them. There used to be more people who could live of hunting, but someone, no doubt well-meaning people, destroyed that way of life when they sought the banning of seal skin, and cutting down on furs, and protest people making a living guiding hunters. And since people up here don't live on reservations, and aren't covered by the Indian Act, they pay the same taxes other Canadians do, which means they need to work, which given the reality of the territory gives very few options.

                          Second, the very idea of "preserving a way of life of life that has survived millennia"? No. Modern Canadian Inuit are descendants of the Thule People, who started spreading out from Alaska around the year 1000 and replaced (quite likely violently) the Dorset, the last tiny remnant group (the Sadlermiut) dying out in 1902-03.

                          (Yes, this means that the Norse were actually in Greenland before Inuit).

                          The Thule coming east were primarily whale hunters, and adopted seal hunting techniques from the Dorset, just like they adopted firearms as soon as they became available, and snowmobiles as soon as they became available, and radio as soon as it became available...

                          (There's one traditional Inuit drum dance called "Muzzle Loader" and the dance imitates the motions of loading and firing a black-powder musket.)

                          The traditional Inuit way of life can be summed up with three words: "Adaptation and Change". And that means you don't "preserve" a way of life just because it's traditional, you preserve it because it works, and if it doesn't work any more you develop something that does.

                          •  Some links to help you understand the timelines (0+ / 0-)

                            You might want to inquire about why Inuit life was changed so dramatically in two generations. You mentioned Nanook of the North, and your view that my opinion of the Inuit is some sort of romantic version of that 1922 film made by Robert Flaherty. So a few points about Flaherty and his family.

                            As I wrote in my original answer to you, in the 1950s Canada was forcibly relocating Inuit from northern Quebec, where Flaherty filmed Nanook, 2000 km north into a vastly different ecosystem to demonstrate in the midst of the Cold War that Canadians were already living in disputed territories, particularly to Grise Fiord on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island and to Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, both near  Greenland.

                            The relocatees included Inuit who had been involved in the filming of Nanook. Two of the Inuit thus deported were Flaherty's son Josephie (his mother was the female star of the globally acclaimed film) and his 5-year-old granddaughter Martha Flaherty who I believe is still alive. This point to rebut your timeline comment that all this destruction of traditional skills and knowledge happened well over a century ago.

                            Their relocated life was not some romantic version of Nanook, but the brilliance of that traditional culture you seem to disparage is demonstrated by the fact that in their high Arctic conditions the Inuit observed the local beluga whale migration routes and were able to survive in this entirely new area, hunting over a range of 18,000 km2 each year. This was less than 60 years ago. Since you brought Flaherty into the discussion, I suggest you read The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic.

                            Yes, you are correct the Thule displaced the Dorset - from whom they also learnt more localized hunting techniques as you mention. Both Thule and Dorset do represent cultures with millennia of tradition. You are also quite correct the Thule did not arrive in Greenland until after the Norse, although the Dorset were quite active there in the centuries prior so you seem to suggest that since it wasn't the Thule the reality that Greenland already had non-European residents is not relevant.

                            In fact, after the Mongolian invasion of China, Thule sources of iron in Asia dried up and they rapidly moved east towards the Norse sources of iron, including to Greenland. You can learn more at this excellent documentary from the Nature of Things. For millennia, there was a vast trading network around the Arctic, including the walrus tusks providing the ivory for the carvings in mediaeval churches.

                            You did not address my issues of 50-70% food insecurity among the Inuit, nor the suicide rate among Inuit youth last decade that was 30% higher than for other Canadians in the same age group. What did you write:

                            The traditional Inuit way of life can be summed up with three words: "Adaptation and Change". And that means you don't "preserve" a way of life just because it's traditional, you preserve it because it works, and if it doesn't work any more you develop something that does.
                            Your "adaptation and change" route sure "works" for Inuit youth with their suicide rate, doesn't it. Contrary to your strange timelines, they still have grandparents - living or dead - who were relocated, or shipped to TB institutions or residential schools in living memory. And they also have grandparents who took joy in their traditional life guided by millennia of successful adaption to that environment only two generations ago.

                            The fur trade - a bit like the tulip market, the DEW line, the resources companies had a hell of a lot more to do with the destruction of Inuit survival than your repeated blaming of environmental groups.

                            On a final note and further reading recommendation, you need to educate yourself on the culture among which you live, and the story of Sedna.

                            In the entire territory the number of people living the way people have "done for millennia" (by which I assume you mean "living a lot like someone did a century ago") can be on one hand. By someone who has lost all their fingers.
                            I assume you are entirely unaware of the most prevalent story among the Inuit and many other Arctic peoples on the source of their food from the sea, or you would never have made such an insulting comment. It relates to losing all fingers.

                            There are various versions of the Sedna myth that you can find online. But all relate to Sedna who was thrown out of a boat after her father rescued her from her deceitful husband. Her husband set out to overturn the boat, and her father was forced to cut off all her fingers as she clung to the vessel. One by one they dropped and became the fish, seals, walruses, and whale that nourish the Inuit.

                            Killing off an entire culture, and then using that culture's most prevalent and enduring story of survival and hope to mock its death, with your ill-fated reference to losing all fingers, finally leaves me at a loss for words.  

              •  OK, I see your point of view (0+ / 0-)

                on local "housekeeping."  And thank you for answering me instead of flying off the handle.

                The rationale about fossil fuel exploitation producing jobs is the oldest piece of energy company propaganda in the book. The truth of course is that it will create some jobs, just like any business venture.  At what cost is a good question. Another question is how many of those jobs are permanent and how many at a living wage, much less a decent wage.

                We didn't used to approve any and all business ventures simply because they were business ventures, which, of necessity, utilize some labor force and pay them something.

                The Keystone XL pipeline has union supporters down here because it's going to create some jobs. Even though everybody knows that the job creation claims are inflated, and even though a large percentage of the jobs are temporary construction jobs which will evaporate once the pipeline's built. It doesn't matter what the project does to people, to landowners, or what the bad results are.  It doesn't even matter if the jobs are going to last or how much they pay as long as some jobs are created sometime. That's how desperate people are.  But that desperation puts an unbalanced amount of power in the hands of industry. That's what government is supposed to be for, to think through the costs and benefits rather than grabbing desperately at crumbs.  But that kind of real balanced approach is not possible in a climate in which industry is allowed to run roughshod over all other interests, and particularly not when government is complicit in enabling them to do so.

                if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:39:57 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  anybody who puts their life on the line (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9, Lefty Coaster

        with a hunger strike gets a serious rating from me.  It's more than I've ever done.

        if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:17:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do not underestimate the power of the shill (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reepicheep, Eowyn9

      and the sockpuppet. We all know that industry and lobbying groups hire people to troll comments on newspaper sites and other online forums.

      In other words, it's possible your fellow Canadians are not as racist as it seems.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:15:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good point - thanks, (0+ / 0-)

        and among my own social circle I know only one person who was racist, several years ago at least (don't know if she still holds these views; we haven't discussed it in a while).

        She told me that things would be easier/better in Canada today if the European settlers had completely removed? (assimilated? eliminated? I can't remember what euphemism she used but whatever it was, it struck me as atrocious) the First Nations people.

        I tried to explain to her as politely and calmly as possible, that by saying this she was advocating genocide. Didn't seem to convince her, though, that this sort of viewpoint was morally abhorrent. Sigh.

        "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell) Join the Forward on Climate Rally on February 17!

        by Eowyn9 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 11:28:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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