Canada

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 12, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 12, 2014

Pray for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, and for the Canadian authorities to begin taking violence against Indigenous women seriously.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Listening for the voices of missing and murdered Indigenous women

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Listening for the voices of missing and murdered Indigenous women

According to reports by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), there are roughly 600 known cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, many of them unsolved.*  Loretta Saunders, an Inuit woman from Labrador whose family reported her missing on 13 February 2014, is one of the latest.  The RCMP discovered her body along a New Brunswick highway on 26 February.  That Saunders was in the middle of finishing her PhD in Halifax— on Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women—makes her death particularly harrowing, yet each of these women’s deaths is reprehensible.

CPT attended the ninth Annual Strawberry Ceremony honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women on 14 February, when over 200 people gathered at the downtown Toronto police headquarters for a rally and march.  Many individuals in the crowd held up signs bearing names, dates, and occasionally photos.  Several dozen people carried black silhouette-style signs cut in the shape of women's profiles, with names in white lettering on one side, and dates—usually preceded with the word “murdered”—on the other.



ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: SWN makes hasty retreat from Signigtog region of New Brunswick

In an apparent about face, the U.S.-based oil and gas company, Southwestern Energy Resources Canada (“SWN”) has suspended its seismic testing operations in New Brunswick, announcing it will return in 2015.  The company issued its brief public statement late Friday afternoon, 6 December.

Previously, the company’s stated intention was to finish the exploration phase of its contract with the provincial government, despite ongoing opposition by Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Anglophone protectors of the land.  CPT can confirm that SWN did not finish testing nor gather all necessary data regarding gas deposits in Kent County.

Protectors had maintained an encampment close to Highway 11 in Kent County and were not deterred by consistent heavy RCMP presence accompanying SWN nor the multiple arrests of protestors made in the last month.  (CPT partner and Elsipogtog resident Lorraine Clair was one of those arrested.  See interview.)

After a judge refused to extend the gas company’s initial injunction against protectors on 21 October, SWN filed another injunction on 22 November, which a second judge did grant.  Similar in content to the first injunction, it prohibited protectors from coming within a certain distance of SWN equipment, and/or impeding SWN’s work.

New Brunswick also officially joined the injunction in support of SWN.  New Brunswick Premier David Alward has called the protectors’ opposition a “beachhead” and refuses to engage in dialogue with those who oppose shale gas exploration.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Finding the Church’s place 250 years after the Royal Proclamation.

Three years ago in Algonquin territory, an elder of Barriere Lake taught me about the Three Figure Agreement wampum belt.  It displays a trio of human figures; French, English and Algonquin, standing hand-in-hand beside the unmistakable form of the cross. “Some folks get angry when they see that cross” said the elder through his translator. “But I tell them why it’s there: because the Church promised to make sure that the Europeans kept their promises.”

As a Christian aiming to live and work in solidarity with the First Peoples of this land, I find it hard to ignore the Church’s history of abuse and betrayal as it collaborated with the colonial project.  Discerning how to be a faithful Christian given that knowledge is a challenge.  

Recently I accompanied a delegation of First Nation chiefs, elders & veterans to London, capital of my UK homeland, a city built on the spoils of Empire and cluttered with colonial mementos and monuments. A number of other Christians of both native and non-native heritage joined the delegation to mark 250 years since the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that set the stage for treaty-making.  In discussions, the role of the Church in these treaties became clearer to me.

Indigenous nations had long-established forms and traditions for international treaty-making, but the British government did not adopt a consistent policy regarding treaties until the Royal Proclamation.

 The Church’s significance for Indigenous negotiators can be emphasised by considering different interpretations of “treaty”—the European understanding of them as surrender of land, and the Indigenous conception as a relationship for mutual sharing of lands, technology and gifts. If a treaty is covenant, not land surrender, the spiritual dimension is central, and the Church’s presence must have reassured negotiators that these newcomers understood what they were committing to.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 13 September 2013

 

Epixel* for 15 September 2013
 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge
Psalm 14:6
.
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary
readings.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 13 September 2013

Pray that the governing bodies of Canada, New Brunswick, and the Southwestern Energy (SWN) corporation recognize the historic right of the Original Peoples of the Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog to evict SWN from their unceded lands and demand compensation for the damage its operations have caused.

 

Related Stories:

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog issues historic directive to SWN


ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: "We do not accept the unacceptable" –Elsipogtog First Nation media release


ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: "We do not accept the unacceptable" –Elsipogtog First Nation media release

September 6, 2013 at 1:36pm
Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick

The Original People of the Wabanaki-Mi'gmag District of Signigtog have, for the first time in known history, used their collective authority to stop shale gas activity in New Brunswick.  Based in Elsipogtog, together with allies from Acadian, Anglophone and First Peoples' communities, the Signigtog Grand Council and Collective Community of Concerned Members of Signigtog have issued a directive to shale gas developer Southwestern Energy (SWN) to stop all shale gas activities, leave the territory, and compensate the people for harm caused by their operations.

Kenneth Francis of Signigtog said, “Creator made us caretakers of Mother Earth.  Our goal as the Collective Community of Concerned Members of Signigtog is to protect Mother Earth because we're killing her.  She's already endured too much.  We will lose our clean water if we sit back and allow what the shale gas companies are planning on doing in Signigtog.  What they are planning is unacceptable.  We do not accept the unacceptable.”

Directive available here.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog issues historic directive to SWN

The Original Peoples of the Wabanaki-Mi’gmag District of Signigtog (of which the Elsipogtog community is a part) asserted their authority over the lands and waterways affected by proposed shale gas exploration by issuing SouthWestern Energy Resources (“SWN”) a Directive on Friday, 30 August 2013.

When European explorers first landed in what is now the Canadian Atlantic Province of New Brunswick, they encountered a vast, multi-faceted nation of aboriginal peoples known collectively as the Mi’gmag.  The Mi’gmag consist of more than a dozen bands, one of which is Elsipogtog First Nation, located in traditional Mi’gmag territory known as Signigtog—or District Six.

The Mi’gmag territory was divided into seven traditional "districts."  Each district had its own independent government and boundaries.  The independent governments had a district chief and a council, or Grand Council.  The district council members were band chiefs, elders, and other community leaders. The district council was in essence an independent government that enacted laws, ran a judicial system, apportioned fishing and hunting grounds, engaged in war and sued for peace.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: CPT delegation attends Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School Commemoration gathering


DSCN3526

Imagine a people, devastated by the idea that white society had the right to take native children from their parents.  Imagine a government using these malnourished children as test subjects in nutritional experiments.  This history is the truth of the Indian Residential School system and what we learned on the site of Cecilia Jeffrey, once a Presbyterian-run Residential School.

Starting in the nineteenth Century, the government took native children in Canada away from their families and sent them to Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Mennonite Residential Schools.  School administrators gave them different names, forbade them to speak their own language, and did not allow them to see their parents.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Join delegation to sovereign Elsipogtog First Nation 27 September - 7 October 2013

From time immemorial, the peoples of the sovereign Mi’kmaq territory of Signigtog have lived upon their traditional lands with their own governments, political systems, language, culture, spirituality, and diverse means of livelihood.  They have never surrendered their sovereignty or jurisdiction over their lands.



In 1701, the British Crown began to sign Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot First Peoples to end hostilities and encourage cooperation between the British and First Peoples.  The Peace and Friendship Treaties recognize Aboriginal sovereignty and title to the lands they traditionally use and occupy.  What is now called Crown Land in the Province of New Brunswick is unceded land and subject to Mi’kmaq jurisdiction.

On 14 May 2012, the Band Council of Elsipogtog First Nation, a Mi'kmaq community, passed a resolution opposing shale gas exploration and development within Elsipogtog First Nation and the Province of New Brunswick, citing concerns about the environment and the need for direct consultation by the Crown.  On 30 May 2013, the Mi'kmaq Grand Council of the Signigtog District 6 issued a public notice prohibiting all “shale gas exploration and/or development” without the “expressed written consent and full participation of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council and the Mi'kmaq people of the Signigtog District.”

This delegation will replace the delegation originally scheduled to go to Grassy Narrows during these dates.

FUNDRAISING EXPECTATION: $625 (Cdn or USD). Delegates arrange and pay for their own transportation to  Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Click here to apply. 

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: SWN temporarily halts seismic testing at Elsipogtog

Elsipogtog First Nation protectors and SWN Resources Canada (‘SWN’) have reached an understanding that has resulted in an apparent temporary cessation of seismic testing.

 
 Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi
 Photo: Miles Howe

Representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (‘RCMP’), Warrior Chief John Levi, former Elsipogtog Band Chief Susan Levi, District Warrior Chief “Seven,” Elsipogtog Peacekeepers and other community members held a meeting on 30 July with SWN.  SWN will detonate several un-exploded shot holes located on seismic Line 5, but agreed not to continue seismic testing and to remove the rest of their equipment. 

The police will dismiss criminal charges against twenty-five of the thirty-five people arrested since non-violent direct actions began in June.  Community members gave SWN until Friday 2 August to complete the agreed upon tasks.  A team of observers from the Elsipogtog community, including eight scouts, three Grandmothers and two Elsipogtog Peacekeepers accompanied SWN workers to monitor operations.  SWN said it would return mid-September to continue seismic testing along seismic Lines 3 and 4.