Canada

CANADA/IRAQI KURDISTAN: Political leaders stepping down graciously—and not.

 

The government workers (teachers, medical workers etc) have been 
 demonstrating since 3 October. They have not received salaries in 3 months. 
They have received their salaries very sporadically for two years.

Last Monday my country, Canada, had an election. Most of the people I know, with some exceptions, welcomed this event. We were tired of a leader who had created a Canada that we did not recognize anymore, one that removed protection from our rivers and lakes, who ignored indigenous peoples, made the process of immigrating to this country more onerous and oppressive etc. etc. We were hopeful that a new prime minister and cabinet would be better, even if they were not perfect.

In Canada, a prime minister can run and be re-elected as many times as the people say yes. Steven Harper could have continued to be the leader until he died if the voters had chosen him to continue. However, the voters had had enough and turned out in numbers that had not been seen in twenty-two years. We heard of some polling stations that ran out of ballots because so many people came to express their dissatisfaction and desire for change.

Two days after the election.  I was reading articles coming from Iraqi Kurdistan where I spend the other half of my life working with Christian Peacemaker Teams. In this region, Massoud Barzani is the president.  Iraqi Kurdistan has the rule that a president can stay in power for only two terms or eight years.  He was first elected as president in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 with nearly 70% of the vote. Then in August 2013 the Kurdish parliament extended the term for another two years, bringing the end date to August 2015.

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 7, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 7, 2015

Pray that the nation of Canada will repent of its cruelty, and stop denying 169 First Nations communities access to clean drinking water.

*Epixel for Sunday, October 10, 2015 
 
 5:7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground!

5:10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

5:11 Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.

5:12 For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.
 
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Blinded by colonization

 

Larry Morrisette

“I am not sick. I am not a victim. I have been colonized. I am a member of a strong and resilient people. The effects of being colonized have made me sick. I have been victimized but that is not who I am. I have been healed, and continue to heal, by the traditional ways and medicines of my ancestors—given to them by the Great Spirit.” (A paraphrase)

Larry Morrissette of Winnipeg’s Bear Clan (one clan among many) explains how colonization has attempted to destroy his culture and eradicate his people’s claims on the land we call Canada. 

Larry is the founder and president of Medicine Fire Lodge Inc., an Indigenous organization involved in cultural revitalization through education and training. He teaches at the University of Winnipeg. One day, he tells us, he showed up to give a lecture and a security guard stopped him and asked him if he was looking for the Food Bank.

He says this kind of thing can trigger memories of abuse suffered in the residential school by “mean” nuns. His hope is that the young people—including his children and grandchildren—who learn the traditional teachings and use the medicines of their people will be better able to protect themselves from such attacks on their personhood.

“They thought we’d be gone by now—but we’re still here.”

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ SOLIDARITY REFLECTION: All My Relations


As we race home, the kilometres clicking, stock markets dipping, politicians promising brighter futures in radio sound bites, Lynn reads from the Truth and Reconciliation’s (TRC) 388 page report â€śHonouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future”. As an official document – it’s surprisingly digestible. As a record of Canada’s history – it’s deeply troubling. 

As we drive south, mists rising off the lakes surround the hills. It has an otherworldly effect—making me feel like the world we’re leaving is an unreal, distant, a dream that disappears like smoke once daylight arrives.

Passing through hour after hour of northern forests it might be easy to think there’s a limitless supply of timber. It could be easy to forget the living nightmare the people of Grassy Narrows have shared with us. Return to my same old ways of getting by, consuming energy and natural resources without a thought to the true costs of my living.

I remember what Larry Morrissette, who talked to us about de-colonization in Winnipeg, said about Development.  “You flush the toilet – and somebody else gets the shit.”

We have short memories when it comes to such things. The 1996 Royal Commission covered much of the same territory as the TRC report. It made many of the same recommendations. Most of which were conveniently disregarded by those in power and forgotten by the general public.

This TRC document however, is soaked in the tears of the Residential School survivors. The TRC heard over 6,000 stories. Many heartbreaking accounts are captured in the pages. In addition to the hard cold truths of how we made “our home on native lands,” it documents the human costs. The truth is that the “true north” is neither strong nor free.

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 9, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 9, 2015

Give thanks that the Aamjiwnaang First Nation is speaking out about the damage that “Chemical Valley” in the Sarnia area is doing to its nation as well as to the other living creatures.  Christian Peacemaker Teams recently participated in a “Toxic Tour” as an act of solidarity with the Aamjiwnaang people.   Like ninety other First Nations in Canada, including Grassy Narrows, Aamjiwnaang First Nation is unable to drink the water on its land.

 *Epixel for Sunday, September 12, 2015 
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray, save my life!" Psalms 116: 3-4
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

MIGRATION REFLECTION: Not since World War II… so many people looking for HOME

 

Afghan refugees on Lesvos

I have been home three weeks and am now able to re-enter Winnipeg society. I no longer have to cocoon in my house, unable to face the huge grocery stores and my friends who ask me how I am.  Already I can go hours without even thinking of  the people I sat with in Iraqi Kurdistan. I am forgetting the heat and the sweat and the burning hot wind. I am forgetting the tears and pain of mothers sitting on the sidewalk begging with their eyes, families in unfinished houses asking for a refrigerator so their water can be cool enough to drink and people living in flappy tents that fall down in the blustery winds.   I am forgetting the father looking at his 21-year-old son who is thinking of paying money to a smuggler to try to get to a life worth living. I am forgetting the words, "What else can he do?"

But there are still hours when I remember. When I read news of seventy people dying in a smuggler's truck because no one would open the doors.  When I hear from my colleagues working on the island of Lesvos of ordinary people risking the life and breath of their children to get onto inflated boats trying to find a society who will embrace them and say welcome. 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Building family—an IPS delegation participant reflects on her experience

“When you see injustice happening, say something,” answered Anishinaabe lifelong activist Judy da Silva when asked what we should do to support her community from afar.  â€śWe don’t need people to walk beside us, we need family." Our Christian Peacemaker Teams – Indigenous Peoples Solidarity delegation went to do ally work in Grassy Narrows First Nation, and we learned how great our mandate is.

Nine delegates and two co-leaders arrived in Kenora, Ontario on 14 August and prepared for the Grassy Narrows Powwow the next day.  There, we watched spectacular dancers in regalia battle the 32ËšC heat.  We listened to mother and activist Richelle Scott describe the racism and objectification she’d experienced in Kenora-area hotels.  She brought about accountability by confronting the managers: an example of taking direct action. 

We also took action that week when we attended the Kenora Walk a Mile in Her Shoes— an event where men don women’s heels and walk to raise awareness about sexual violence and women’s rights, supporting Kenora Sexual Assault Centre.  We visited the Women’s Place in Kenora, a gathering place and resource centre for women survivors, whose clientele are 85% indigenous, demonstrating the intersection between racial, gender and economic violence. 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: “We are here for the water” Anishinaabe Water Walk against EnergyEast

From 2-7 August, over forty members from surrounding Anishinaabe communities walked along 125 km of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East bitumen pipeline route.  Allies, including three members of CPT, came to walk and offer support wherever needed.  This direct action, organized by the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence (GIWD), included children, mothers and grandmothers who all came to protect clean water for the generations to come.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY REFLECTION: The resilience of Grassy Narrows

The road from Kenora to Grassy Narrows twists and turns. Like the story of this First Nations reserve, it has precarious highs and rock bottom lows. Peter points out the spot where one CPT (Christian Peacemaker Team) delegation car left the road to go for a plunge in the lake.

The path across the rise and fall of pre-Cambrian shield through the boreal Whiskey Jack forest was walked long before the European settlers built roads. It was road building that prompted the relocation of the Grassy Narrows band. Their village, on Grassy Lake, was located where commercial interests indicated a roadway trumped indigenous claims.

The lure that attracted them to the pre-fabricated, side-by-side, 612 square foot houses was the offer of electricity, plumbing, and most of all, a school. An alternative to the Residential school was what sealed the deal.

They hadn’t been there long before people started getting sick. It took years of protest before the Ontario and Federal governments acknowledged the problem. A trip to Minamata Japan in 1974 where industrial mercury poisoning had crippled villagers was what convinced the Grassy Narrows people they were suffering the same effects.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Anishinaabe Water Walk in in pictures, videos and tweets


Over the course of one week, dozens of Anishinaabe walkers marched 125 km along the Energy East pipeline route to oppose the tar sands project and protect the water.

Organize by the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence, it called attention to the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed, which would cross Treaty 3 territory to carry 1.1 million barrels per day of oil to the east coast of Canada, endangering dozens of waterways. Over two-dozen walkers started at the Eagle Lake Pow-Wow in Northwestern Ontario, and ended at Shoal Lake in Eastern Manitoba, joined by supporters and allies. The Indigenous grassroots resistance to the Energy East pipeline in Treaty 3 is only the beginning of the growing opposition to the project.

CPT Intern Madeleine Sutherland has put together a stirring account of the walk in pictures, recordings, video and tweets. Click here to take a look.

CPTers have walked alongside the Anishinaabe people of Grassy Narrows since 2002 and were on this walk with them as well.  Help them continue walking in solidarity: http://www.cpt.org/participate/donate