CPT INTERNATIONAL: Urgent invitations from Colombia, Elsipogtog and the Owe Aku--Can you help us respond?

A week ago, on 30 May 2013, we got word from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Colombia that Tito, one of the members of Las Pavas community in Colombia, had been attacked with machetes by workers for Aportes San Isidro, the palm oil company that has been trying to push the community of Las Pavas off their land for many years…

Tito (yellow and green shirt) taking
picture of security guard who had
ordered his men to shoot out tires of
Las Pavas's tractor.

This attack is an escalation of the pressure on this community that is deeply committed to nonviolence.  The Las Pavas leadership asked CPT to provide increased accompaniment for community members as they walk to and from their fields.  Our team on the ground is already stretched thin and they have made an appeal to CPT reservists to support them.  We have people ready to go to Colombia if we can raise the funds. Can you contribute $10 now to make this possible?

This request is just one of four that CPT has received in the two weeks.  On 8 June 2013, our Aboriginal Justice team sent a group of reservists to New Brunswick, Canada in response to an invitation 48 hours earlier from Elsipogtog First Nation. Mi'kmaq and Maliseet peoples have been using creative Nonviolent Direct Action to stop shale gas exploration on their traditional lands, including peacefully blockading a truck hired by the exploration company, SWN Resources Canada.


“The role of the warrior chief is to protect the land, the water and the people.  Our only weapons are our drums, our sweetgrasses, our pipes, and our ceremonies.  We are nonviolent.”

This description was how John Levi, warrior chief of the Elsipogtog First Nation, explained his role to an emergency CPT exploratory delegation to his New Brunswick Mi’kmaq community located north of Moncton.

The Elsipogtog First Nation and non-Aboriginal landowners in Kent County, New Brunswick are fighting to stop shale gas exploration by SWN Resources.  They are concerned fracking will lead to the depletion of groundwater and widespread water contamination.

Fracking is a slang term for the process of digging deep wells (up to two miles) into the earth and injecting water under high pressure laden with industrial chemicals to fracture shale.  The procedure releases otherwise inaccessible deposits of natural gas.

Each frack uses millions of gallons of water laden with hundreds of different chemicals.  Resource companies have not had to disclose the types of chemicals they are using because of patent protections.  Scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.


USA-CANADA: Peace, Pies and Prophets to tour Ohio, western PA and...

After successful runs in eastern Pennsylvania and the Midwest, 
the Peace, Pies and Prophets tour is headed to western
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana in September and October.
Booking in U.S. and Canadian venues is available through 2013.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: River Run aims to heal poisoned communities

Fifty years after mercury dumping began to turn their lives upside-down, Grassy Narrows First Nation is seeking justice and healing for the people and land affected.

River Run, a week of public events and actions in support of Grassy Narrows, took place in Toronto 4-8 June. Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Aboriginal Justice Team helped to organize the event. 


“The entire history of man is war,” the speaker told us, “conflict driven by racial, religious and territorial ambition.”

He sounded regretful, as if he wished it could be otherwise, but knew it was foolish and negligent to trust any force other than violence for the common good. As he went on, outlining the dangers of Islamic immigration to Western countries, he branded those who disagreed with his analysis as “naïve,” even “traitors.” I saw that most of the crowd agreed.

TORONTO, ON: The freedom to say no

“By the mixing of our waters, it becomes your responsibility to protect our water, and our responsibility to protect your water.”  Hereditary Chief Pete Erickson of the northern British Columbia Carrier Sekani First Nation completed the final water ceremony before a crowd of over four hundred supporters in downtown Toronto on Wednesday, 9 May 2012.  As representative of one of the five-member First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance, Chief Erickson, along with a delegation of over fifty First Nation representatives, had just completed the ten day Freedom Train journey across Canada’s west to highlight the nations’ opposition to Enbridge corporation’s proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline through their territory.

The Yinka Dene territories are located in the headwaters of the Fraser, Skeena and Mackenzie/Arctic watersheds. Their people have relied on salmon since time immemorial. Their territory is 25% of the 1,177 km through which the proposed pipeline will carry raw tar sands crude from Bruderheim in the Alberta Tar Sands to the inland coastal community of Kitimat, British Columbia. Citing the infamous Exxon Valdez tanker spill, the Yinka Dene and supporters fear contamination from pipeline ruptures and tanker spills of catastrophic proportions.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: KI celebrates bittersweet victory

On 29 March 2012, the Ontario government paid $3.5 million to mining company God’s Lake Resources (GLR) to walk away from its leases, located on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) lands.  Multiple sacred KI graves lie within the claim area.  KI had issued an eviction notice to GLR last September.

For KI, one of the largest First Nations communities in the region, it was perhaps a déjà vu moment.  Following the 2008 sentencing of six months in prison of six community leaders for protecting their land from mining exploration by Platinex Corp., the province bought out Platinex for $5 million.  The “KI 6” served sixty-eight days before a judge released them unconditionally on sentencing appeal

CANADA: Pilgrimage to Freedom—Southern Ontario tour, 25 September-2 October 2011

On Sunday 4th, September 2011, I represented the Aboriginal Justice Team-Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Pilgrimage to Freedom II organized by Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) in Southeastern Ontario.

Mrs. Rochelle Bush was the first speaker to address the group at the Salem Chapel of the British Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Catherines, ON.  As the historian of the Chapel, she has chronicled the way Afro-Americans crossed the border between the United States and Canada during the nineteenth century in search of the freedom that white European settlers had stolen from them.  Bush concluded her speech saying that the Salem Chapel used to be a refuge for Afro-Americans looking for freedom, and that the Church members would be glad if it became also a refuge for migrant workers struggling against labour conditions that bear a significant resemblance to slavery.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Two First Nations celebrate small victories.

 The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake is celebrating the suspension of work on its territory by mining company Cartier Resources Inc.  In March 2011, the community discovered ongoing copper mining exploration on their traditional lands.  When the Algonquins explained their opposition, the workers on site, mostly from Mistassini and Oujebougaou First Nations, stopped work and left.…

A recent community referendum in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) passed with 96% support for both a Watershed Declaration protecting Big Trout Lake, and a Consultation Protocol detailing the methodology the community will use in assessing development proposals on the rest of KI territory.…

ONTARIO: Government consultant supports concerns of Grassy Narrows community

 The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has recently released the results of an independent audit of the Whiskey Jack Forest, identifying numerous areas of concern in the forest's management. The audit is part of a regular monitoring process that tracks how logging companies are abiding by regulations and produces action plans to rectify bad practices and poor results. The Ministry of Natural Resources is engaged in land-use negotiations with Grassy Narrows First Nation (GNFN), whose traditional territory largely coincides with the Whiskey Jack Forest.

 The report reiterates many of GNFN's concerns over the destruction of their territory.  Since 2002, the community has blockaded a road used by logging trucks. CPT was invited to accompany the blockade, which supports a moratorium on clear-cut logging on traditional territory. The report, which covers much of the negotiation period, finds 'significant issues with management of the Whiskey Jack Forest, both in planning and in on-the-ground implementation of the plan' (page ii).  Its primary message is that the MNR has not done enough to repair the damage caused by industrial logging or to help the forest heal.