ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Anticipating a long, hot summer

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CPTnet
7 May 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Anticipating a long, hot summer

by Peter Haresnape

The Idle No More movement over the last
winter surprised many Canadians. Round dances took over shopping malls and
intersections, teach-ins sprung up in universities and Friendship Centres, and
Chief Theresa Spence led a high-profile sacred fast, calling for a treaty
meeting and enduring forty-four days of hunger and media scorn before getting a
partial response from the Government of Canada.

For anyone aware of the growing
legislative and public undermining of indigenous rights, it was a welcome sign
as both indigenous and non-indigenous groups declared themselves Idle No More. In
addition to addressing age-old colonialist injustices, Idle No More specifically
addresses the aggressive legislative agenda pursued by the present government
since winning  a majority in 2011.
Although the form is new, such as removing environmental protection legislation
from 94% of Canada’s waterways, the core of the agenda retains familiar tactics
of assimilation.

As policy, this agenda can boast
buzzwords like ‘equality’ and ‘financial transparency’, but below the surface,
another power is at work. Letters to the Editor openly call for the assimilation
and relocation of First Nations; figureheads like Chief Spence are slandered as
attention-seeking, corrupt, and in one memorable case, terrorist. It has always
been easier to rely on tried-and-tested stereotypes to brush aside the truth that
Idle No More points to: that the rights of indigenous peoples to practice and
protect their chosen way of life are being systematically erased in favour of
an economy based on destructive resource extraction.

The immediate furore of round dances and
blockades has died down. On the land not much has changed. Reserves under the Canadian
government’s Indian Act continue to struggle with the litany of poverty, scarcity
of clean water, underfunding of education, lack of opportunity and high suicide
levels.

However, on 19 March 2013, the indigenous
rights network Defenders of the Land entered into an alliance
with Idle No More, anticipating what is being termed the Spring of Solidarity and
a Summer of Sovereignty. Their statement includes a new call for coordinated
nonviolent direct action. CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team (AJT) has heard numerous predictions
of ‘a long, hot summer’ for grassroots Land Defenders and their allies.  Actions foreseen on the land will resist
unfettered, unconsented resource extraction that affects indigenous and settler
land users. Campaigns in cities and towns are expected to focus on educating,
rallying, and mobilising support.

CPT calls the whole church to collaborate
in undoing the oppression of colonialism, which imposes settler law, language
and land use patterns and attempts to erase indigenous societies and bodies. We
invite all concerned to participate in transforming the violence of colonialism
into a new relationship. Consider researching your particular context, participating in an AJT
delegation
, or supporting national/international movements like Idle No
More.

Further reading: Call
to Action from Idle No More & Defenders of the Land
(full text)

Article: Idle
No More gets out of the courts and onto the streets

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