REPORTING · 30th December 2012
UPDATE - WATCH A VIDEO COMPILATION HERE
On Sunday, December 30th, the Haisla First Nations, and many supporters gathered at the Entrance of Kitimat City Centre Mall as a part of the Idle No More Movement. They recognized this is Haisla Territory and land.
Burton Amos, the Haisla artist who put this event together, stated there have been artifacts found in this region which date back 9000 years.
Amos stated Chief Theresa Spence is meeting with the government concerning First Nations issues, notably issues around the environment. He expressed the Bituminous Sands were a concern, because in Alberta, where they are harvested: “People are getting sick, animals are getting sick, it’s culling all the wildlife, the bears, the wolves, are getting cancer and the government hired people to hunt them down and bury them. The people in the reserves and the surrounding area are all getting sick, cancer and all kinds of stuff and the government said it’s a pre-existing condition but according to the natives living there, it happened after the tar sands started,” said Amos.
He expressed mining have the same effect on people and the people do not have a voice. Change will not happen until people stand up and say something.
“That’s why I started this. I was tired of being one of those people waiting for someone else to make the change,” said Amos. “If you wait for someone else to do something about it, it’s not going to happen.”
He wished to get the message of a young girl from Courtenay BC across: “we have to be the change”.
“We are all in this together, whether we are Native, or Non Native. I think it’s more important for the Natives to speak up because historically, we have been saying to everybody that we are the stewards of the land, we are responsible,” said Amos.
Jo-Anne Ross, a Kitamaat Village Councillor speaking on her own behalf, expressed she believed in the cause and was thankful Amos took it and ran with it. She expressed the Kitamaat Council was watching to see what the outcome would be.
Gerald Amos got up to speak next. He told the story of how contact was first made in 1793 at Costy Island with Captain Vancouver. The first act of contact was a sharing, a welcoming to their territory. Two 70 pound spring salmons were given and Vancouver gave other presents back.
“That’s how it started. An act of good will. This new relationship has been all downhill since then simply because the resources in our territory, salmon minerals, forests, are so valuable that money became the only part of the bottom line that anything to the government and industry and I think that’s what this Idle No More movement is all about. It’s about restructuring the relationship between the First Nations people and the government and industry,” said Gerald Amos.
He pointed out if they cannot get the relationship right to the point where everyone prospered and can take advantage of the resources in their territory, than they would not have a chance of making things work elsewhere in the world. People around the world were already killing each other over control.
Gerald Amos stated change means a shift in the way we treat each other and this is not apparent in the way Stephen Harper is leading Canada. Canada is going in the wrong direction and it is being recognized around the world. Bills like Bill C45 are being used to silence people who care about their grandchildren, homelands and reconciliation.
He thanked the non-First Nations people who were standing with them. “Our responsibility is to make sure, this movement has enough momentum to change the way Stephen Harper is dealing with his responsibility. He is responsible to us, he is responsible to my grandchildren and to your children and grandchildren. But he’s going nowhere near achieving true responsibility as a leader in my opinion,” said Gerald Amos.
One person who was attending commented these bills were not being publicized in the media because if people realized what was in them, they would fight to save the land and water. He expressed this bill was nothing but a way of pushing Enbridge through.
Darlene Hudson expressed she does not know who Stephen Harper is. She has never met him. God gave the First Nations the land, not Harper. “It is up to us to protect our land. It is up to us to use our voices now,” said Hudson.
Burton Amos spoke again, stating he does not know what to say, he is simply an artist. “We got to make a change. We have to stand up and speak, we have to get involved. If we want this change to happen, if we want to keep this valley the way it is. We have to get involved,” said Amos.
He stated Stephen Harper has gone to China and signed an agreement. He came back and signed legislation removing protection from our sources of water. He told those assembled because of this, China can stripe mine anywhere but the National Parks.
“China can go in and do whatever they want. There is a secret bill that’s been signed. Apparently, China has the right to sue us if we don’t let them do it now because of the agreement that Harper signed. He did that without consultation to the Native people of Canada and we have to hold them accountable to that because we’re responsible to the land, because we’ve been here longer than them. This is our land and our children’s land and our grandchildren and their grandchildren. It’s up to us to stand up and be a good example to our children,” said Amos.
Gerald Amos suggested being a First Nations Artist was important because of the way their culture was dismantled. The stories, totems, masks and regalia were burned. Artists are stepping up to keep these movements going. He added hoped to see an artist movement on the Northwest.
Burton Amos stated he was happy to see as many people out as came out. It was time for the singers and Dancers to come forward but the day was not over. Those assembled would march to the Center of town to complete their protests.
Comment by Leon Dumstrey-SooS on 6th January 2013
Perhaps it would be educational if Kitimat Daily publishes Bill 45 in detail so the ALL the Public can read it and understand it and be informed part of protest if they choose to participate.
First Nations/Canadians' Future - Part IV
Comment by CC on 4th January 2013
5. China’s obsession for secrecy
The Canada-China Investment Agreement makes Chinese lawsuits secret . At any time, we will not know if we are being sued and who will decide the case. We will not know what our government is saying on our behalf. We will not know if Canada has been ordered to change government decisions. This is a complete U-turn for Canada who has always insisted on complete openness in investor-state arbitration, for example when signing the Canada-US-Mexico free trade deal.
6. Restrictions on our use of our own resources
The Canada-China Investment Treaty requires that if, in the future, Canada wants to conserve natural resources (fisheries, water, oil, uranium, forests -- everything is covered), and reduce Chinese access to these resources, we are only allowed to do so to the extent we limit our own use of those natural resources.
First Nations/Canadian's Future - Part III
Comment by CC on 4th January 2013
These are what we should all be fighting for, all of us:
On September 9th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an agreement with China, the Canada-China Investment Treaty. The agreement was kept from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, 2012, when it was quietly made public, tabled in the House of Commons. No press release. No technical briefing.
Harper's Conservatives can legally ratify the treaty (i.e. make it legally binding for the country) since November 2nd, 2012. Thanks to the Greens' campaign, ratification has not yet happened. You can still take action to make sure this treaty never becomes reality.
Red Carpet for ChinaSo what is the Canada-China Investment Treaty? Simply put, it is the most significant trade agreement signed by Canada since NAFTA. Only this time our “partner” is the communist government in Beijing, an authoritarian regime with an appalling record on human rights –and it isn’t getting better. This deal requires that Chinese government-owned companies be treated exactly the same as Canadian companies operating in Canada. Once in force, it lasts a minimum of 15 years. If a future government wants to get out of it, a one year notice is required – and even once the treaty is cancelled, any existing Chinese operations in Canada are guaranteed another 15 years of the treaty’s benefits.
We at the Green Party of Canada believe there are many flaws in that agreement. And we think Canadians should know about them:
1. Open bar for Chinese state-owned enterprises
The Canada-China Investment Treaty means easier takeovers of Canadian assets, especially in the resource sector. In the context of the possible takeover of Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), it is crucial that we collectively pause to consider the wisdom of granting Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such an easy access to our natural resources.
2. The right for China to claim damages over Canadian laws
The Canada-China Investment Treaty allows Chinese companies (including state-owned enterprises) to sue the Government of Canada over decisions that can limit or reduce their expectation of profits. In treaty language, this is called “tantamount to expropriation.” China can claim damages against Canada for decisions at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level. Even decisions of our courts can give rise to damages. The damage claims start with six months of diplomatic negotiation. If that fails, damage claims move to arbitration – behind closed doors.
3. Secret hearings
The Canada-China Investment Treaty would allow Chinese investors to sue Canada outside of Canadian courts. Special arbitrators would take the decisions. These arbitrators, unlike judges, do not have secure tenures or set salaries. Their decision cannot be subject to judicial review. And the arbitrations are to be secret. Even the fact they are happening is to be secret.
4. Limit right to be heard
Only the federal government is allowed to take part in the arbitration process. Provincial governments or Canadian companies, even if their interests are affected, do not have the right to voice their concerns during the arbitration process.
First Nations/Canadians' Future - Part II
Comment by CC on 4th January 2013
Unfortunately people think this is too big an issue to worry themselves about: then sign a petition – you can find a number of them circulating about. Or spread the word by Facebook, or Twitter, or have a conversation with your loved ones, friends. At least try. And be informed.
There are two huge issues going on. Let's consider the facts of Harper's bill and then be grateful that our First Nations people have the bravery to stand up for US ALL.
First Nations/Canadians' Future - Part I
Comment by CC on 4th January 2013
First Nations people – It seems people are getting hung up on what they perceive is happening in the First Nations communities. This is more than just about what First Nations people want – do your research. You have to start with what the Bill is about – which is what prompted Idle No More.
First: has anyone done any research, talked to anyone in the First Nations communities to hear what they have been through? I am all for picking yourself up and shaking off your problems, growing from them and making the best of every situation. But if you have been so bullied and had your entire existence mangled and communities and families destroyed repeatedly for numbers of generations then how do you find the ability, or even have the coping skills to go forth? The Europeans came and imposed their beliefs, their power, their culture and took away the First Nations lands and ways of living. Now if we all look back to our own European past and take into account our ancestry we were people who fled here for a better life, from famines, from religious persecution, for life opportunities, cultural freedom, for ownership of land and in so doing we pushed out the natural inhabitants. We didn’t say: “May we share what you already have?” Anyone with the gall to sit back and sprout racist comments about First Nations and condemn their life on reserves had better do some research. The point is that First Nations people are trying and fighting for their country and are now on equal footing in terms of language and knowledge as opposed to when Treaties were signed with an “X”. We all should look into our hearts and see if WE as non Natives are worthy of living here. How shameless that we the “white” people who crowded them out, brought disease, repeated genocide, imposed sterilization, that funding allocated for reserves isn’t sent/used for its purpose (and yes there's greed and power struggles in any hierchy) aren’t standing up for our country the same as our First Nations brothers and sisters are.
There's a line in our Canadian anthem, "Oh Canada, oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee." That is what our First Nations people are doing. Our First Nations people ARE standing up for their country AND their rights. Are you?
it's everybody's land
Comment by CEM on 2nd January 2013
The Indians may ? of been here first...there is still alot of controvercy about this. No DNA testing has been done because they "the First Nations " don't want to get it done. I wonder why ? The Hawaiians came to the southern islands of B.C., the Russians, the Chinese , the Japanese have all come to BC and Alaska at one time or another, long before white man came . So they are all mixed up. It's time to get over all they say have been wronged and move on. Without an education they got in school some would never of had the good jobs they did get. I'd like to know who is that is going to pay for their welfare if they don't soon get off welfare and start working like everybody else. it can't go on forever. The money has to come from somewhere. Doesn't matter who is the Prime Minister....the bills have to be paid.
Trying to Understand and Gaining some Understanding
Comment by David on 31st December 2012
Looked into Bill C45 and see new a change to the Fisheries Act that impacts on exclusive fishery rights that includes strong powers for the fisheries officer. The new section 29 reads:
Obstructing passage of fish or waters
29. (1) No person shall erect, use or maintain any seine, net, weir or other fishing appliance that
(a) unduly obstructs the passage of fish in any Canadian fisheries waters, whether subject to any exclusive right of fishery or not; or
(b) obstructs more than two thirds of the width of any river or stream or more than one third of the width of the main channel at low tide of any tidal stream.
(2) The Minister or a fishery officer may order the removal of or remove any seine, net, weir or other fishing appliance that, in the opinion of the Minister or fishery officer, results in an obstruction referred to in paragraph (1)(a) or (b).
Very difficult to read and understand all the changes in Bill C45 but it also changes the Navigable Waters Protection Act. It seems one of the changes reduce the number of waterways that require federal approval to construct bridges, water intakes, or other ostructions to water traffic to a set of named rivers. The only named river in the Northwest seems to be the mainstem Skeena from the Babine Confluence to Prince Rupert.
Text in Part:
3. It is prohibited to construct, place, alter, repair, rebuild, remove or decommission a work in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water that is listed in the schedule except in accordance with this Act or any other federal Act.
4. (1) An owner of a work that is constructed or placed, or proposed to be constructed or placed, in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water, other than any navigable water that is listed in the schedule, may request that this Act be made applicable to the work as if it were a work that is constructed or placed, or proposed to be constructed or placed, in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water that is listed in the schedule.
It is interesting that within one bill there are more restrictions on obstructions resulting from an exclusive fishery - guaranteed as a right - while at the same time removing oversight from larger type of industrial obstructions to the same waters.
What about Fracking?
Comment by D. Metz on 31st December 2012
I agree fully with their statements of the harm caused by processing oil sands. But what about all of the harm also caused by fracking natural gas? Watch the film "Gasland" to get a feel for this wonderful process too.