Canada

IRAQI KURDISTAN/ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: “Now is the time we say ‘No More Stolen Sisters’”

Today as I sit in Quito, Ecuador, a participant in the Christian Peacemaker Teams biennial gathering, messages are coming from both of my communities on two sides of the world. The calls have similar themes: sisters are being stolen; governments must investigate their disappearances and their murders; violence against women must stop.

From Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, where my Christian Peacemaker team has been working with partners who have sought to help thousands of displaced minority groups, came a call from the Kurdish women’s group, Jian (Life).  They proclaimed Sunday, 24 August a day for a civil demonstration on behalf of the Yazidi women whom members of the militant group known as IS (Islamic State) have captured and enslaved in the city of Mosul.  Clandestine phone calls from a few of these women described desperate conditions and horrific abusive treatment.  They told of women and girls forced to become wives of fighters and others sold into slavery.

Sixty activists from several women’s organisations and other civil society groups gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital city of Hawler/Erbil. They demanded that the U.N. do more to help the Yazidi women and girls enslaved by the militant group. At the end of the march, several activists were able to take their message into the U.N. building to ask the representatives and the Kurdish Regional Government to act on this emergency and to take urgent measures to help the vulnerable women.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Anishinabe and allies send clear ‘No Pipeline’ message to TransCanada

n 12 August 2014, Anishinabek women, accompanied by local allies and a CPT delegation, led a community rejection of the planned Energy East pipeline, delivering a clear 'no' to the project, the company TransCanada, and the materialist, extractivist* culture that prioritises wealth generation over clean water, protecting the climate, and future generations. 

Led by children, mothers, and grandmothers holding signs and drumming, the group entered an open house, TransCanada was holding at the Lakeside Inn in Kenora, Ontario.  Speaking directly to the company representatives to make their refusal clear, several spoke of corporation’s failure to engage the women in their role as Anishinabe Waterkeepers.  As well as addressing the crowd, the group also prayed and sang songs to honour the water threatened by the pipeline. 

Anishinabek waterkeepers, prior to entering TransCanada's open house

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 14, 2014

Give thanks for the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong/Grassy Narrows First Nation, who continue to stay on their land, host delegations, put on events like River Run, and pass on their traditions to their children in spite of legal, social, educational, corporate systems that are stacked against them.

Epixel* for Sunday, August 17, 2014
 Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will 
come, and my deliverance be revealed. 
 Isaiah 56.1 

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.


ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Demanding a response to mercury poisoning

135During River Run week, 28-31 July 2014, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation obtained and responded to a 2010 scientific report commissioned by the Mercury Disability Board, which includes representatives from both the provincial and federal governments.  While not yet released to the public nor even initially shared with the community, the report confirms that community members have suffered from mercury-related neurological disorders and notes “[t]he rate of residents reporting  neurological symptoms was very high for such a small population.”

The mercury crisis affecting Grassy Narrows began in 1962, after a nearby paper mill poisoned the Wabigoon-English river system, contaminating local fish and communities.  The Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill leaked an estimated 9000 kilograms of mercury into the river system between 1962 and 1970.  By 1970, Grassy Narrows had to stop commercial and sport fishing due to high levels of mercury contamination.  At the time, the Ontario government maintained the fish were safe for consumption.

Neither the Ontario government nor Canada has apologized for a single case of mercury poisoning and has refused to acknowledge mercury poisoning occurred.  Health Canada stopped testing community members for mercury poisoning in the 1990’s citing minimal risk.  The report, however, demonstrates Grassy Narrows mercury survivors are not receiving necessary medical care and that the problem is ongoing due to long term impacts of past exposure and the potential for impact on fetuses and children, even at government-established “low” mercury levels

TORONTO, CANADA: Multi-faith vigil begins at Israeli consulate to condemn targeting of civilians, blockade of Gaza

Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of conscience have begun a continuous three-day vigil outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Toronto.  Starting at 9:00 a.m. this morning, 24 July, the vigil will continue until the afternoon of Saturday, 26 July, 2014.

 
 Ursula Franklin

The vigil condemns the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, the seven-year blockade of Gaza and Canadian complicity in the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.  It is calling for the immediate cessation of the Israel’s assault on Gaza, now in its sixteenth day. 

Canadian Jewish Holocaust survivor Ursula Franklin, when speaking against Israel’s 2009 attack on Gaza, said “Never Again” means “never again for all people.” 

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has recently described Israeli policies as an “incremental genocide.”

Concerned that Israel may be in violation of international law, Amnesty International is calling for an international investigation into the conduct of Israeli forces. In the course of its offensive, Israel has targeted hospitals and civilian homes.

Christian Peacemaker Teams members will be maintaining a continuous presence at the vigil.

 

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Take Action with Grassy Narrows

 



The recent Canadian Supreme Court ruling does not affect the current five-year plan of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for the Whiskey Jack Forest.  This plan initially made provisions for logging to resume as early as 1 April 2014, within Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory. It does not have the consent of the people of Grassy Narrows.  Following criticism, MNR minister David Orazietti postponed the imposition of clear-cut logging for at least a year.

Clear-cut logging has already destroyed large areas of forest and impacted the traditional hunting and trapping practices of the Grassy Narrows community.  Supporters in the Toronto, Ontario area can directly support Grassy Narrows by participating in ‘River Run’ activities scheduled 28-31 July.  The events will focus on pressuring the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne to correct the continuing perversions of justice that affect the community.

River Run events include a press conference, public speaking events to educate people from southern Ontario about Grassy Narrows’ struggle with mercury poisoning and opposition to the proposed clear-cut logging as well as a march of hundreds to Queen’s Park, to present the demands of the Grassy Narrows community.  The Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum Group will lead the week’s activities.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: The river still flows




Judy Da Silva, Slant Lake,
Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows)
October 2011

 

And the sun still shines; at least as it appears to when I look outside my window, in Toronto, Ontario.  Rains, however, have engulfed my heart and spirit, ever since I learned the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor on Friday of Ontario’s “right” to permit industrial logging on Grassy Narrows' (Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishnabek) traditional lands.

As long as the rivers flows and the sun shines” (referencing Treaty #3) has become the cry of resistance since 3 December 2002 when two members of the Grassy Narrows community stepped in front of a logging truck hauling timber out of clear cuts, located on their traditional territory.  Their resistance has become the longest standing indigenous logging blockade in Canadian history.  Make no mistake, it will continue.

“Our supreme law is the Natural Law, and our right to live our way of life on our territory is given to us by the Creator since time immemorial.  Our grassroots women, youth and land users will continue to maintain our blockade, our boycott, and our protest along with our supporters from around the world who recognize that we are standing for all life,” wrote Judy Da Silva, Clan Mother and CPT Partner (emphasis added).

Prayers for Peacemakers July 11, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers July 11, 2014

Pray for the people of Grassy Narrows.  The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that the Ontario government could permit industrial logging on their traditional lands today. 


Epixel for July 13, 2014



 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word. Psalm 119:107

 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Amplification

CPT takes seriously its mission of listening to marginalized people and speaking their truth to a wider audience.  For this reason, our delegation met community members in Grassy Narrows who represent their community’s interests in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), logging companies, and before the courts.

Our host, Andrew Keewatin (Shoon), is building manager and leader of the Trappers’ Centre.  Within the community, Shoon runs AA meetings and teaches children traditional skills like building canoes, snowshoes, and drums, filleting fish, and tanning hide to make moccasins. 

In recent years the MNR licensed logging companies to clearcut sections of forest on his land.  Occasionally he has been able to negotiate with the MNR to preserve bands of forest connecting water sources or to spare trees that have little commercial value.  But in the end, the MNR decides where and when logging companies may cut down forests, not the people who have lived and worked on the land and for generations.




Community member Cheryl Fobister at blockade

When a logging company constructed a road within kilometers of Grassy Narrows, disregarding the wishes of the community, the conflict with the Grassy Narrows community came to a head.  On a cold December afternoon in 2002, three youth blocked the road by cutting down nearby trees.  This bold action brought the people of Grassy Narrows together to form a blockade, an expression of nonviolent resistance that they had been contemplating for some time.

Among the countless people that participated in the blockade, Judy Da Silva emerged as a strong advocate.  Mrs. Da Silva has watched logging companies enter her Nation’s territory for years, clearcut vast swathes of forest, and disregard the concerns her community expressed.  She is a protector of the forest and of the broader ecosystem on behalf of her children and her children’s children.  For her, dispossessing First Nations of their land, refusing to investigate the murder of 1000 First Nations women and the disappearance of 200 more, poisoning the English-Wabigoon River system with mercury, and disregarding the wishes of First Nations peoples for the use of their territory are all connected by a White settler ideology that values only those things that can be converted into money.

Prayers for Peacemakers May 28, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers May 28, 2014

Pray that Supreme Court of Canada will render a just decision, now that it has finished hearing the case presented by the Grassy Narrows’ Trappers that they have rights guaranteed by Treaty and Higher Authority to use their traditional lands.

Epixel* for June 1, 2014

 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;  in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. Psalm 68: 9-10

 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised
Common Lectionary readings.