Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

CANADA/TURTLE ISLAND: Members of CPT Canada meet with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs on UNDRIP

CPTnet
17 November 2017
CANADA/TURTLE ISLAND: Members of CPT Canada meet with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs on UNDRIP

by Robin Buyers

On November 13th, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Canada Coordinator, Rachelle Friesen, and reservists Esther Townshend and Robin Buyers met with Carolyn Bennett, Canada's Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs. Following up on CPT's co-sponsorship of this spring's Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights and fall Fast, Friesen, Townsend, and Buyers urged the Minister and her Liberal government to vote yes this December 4th for Bill C-262: An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Minister Bennett and her staff welcomed our delegation graciously. She spoke of her desire to "accelerate steps towards reconcili-action." She noted the importance of responding to UNDRIP with domestic legislation that allows for the work of "reconstituting nations" who then define their own identity and relationship to Canada. She suggested that, for some, Bill C-262 does not go far enough, and anticipated a vigorous House of Commons debate on how to implement UNDRIP on the 4th.

CPTers meet with Carolyn Bennett
Photo (from left to right): Carolyn Bennett, Robin Buyers, Rachelle Friesen, Esther Townshend

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 November 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 November 2017

Pray for the important truth-seeking work of the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Pray for those who lost their loved ones as they share and relive their grief. Pray that the truth might build a path to healing and transformation.

Recently, during one of the sessions of the Winnipeg portion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and LGBTQ2S, the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team listened to the difficult account from three Indigenous families who had their sister, mother, daughter, aunt taken from them in a brutal way.

In the last 30 years, anywhere from 1,300 to 4,000 Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community have been taken from their loved ones. The variance in the numbers is because many disappearances are not reported or counted by authorities. This inquiry is to hear the stories and to examine and report the systemic causes of violence. The inquiry commissioners spent five days in Winnipeg and will go to rural and urban communities across this vast land.

This week we would like to ask you to pray:
- For the families as they relive the stories of their loved ones and the days of grief.
- For the inquiry commissioners as they hear so many stories of horrific deeds done to women, girls and LGBTQ2S people - that they will remain strong to support and listen.
- For all people of Canada - that we will find a way forward to protect the women and to eradicate causes of such violence.

And we pray for the inquiry that it will: Find the truth; honour the truth; and give life to the truth as a path to healing.

Public gathering to remember murdered indigenous women
Photo: Several times a year family members, other loved ones and members of the public gather to remember the Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people who have been murdered or who are still missing.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY / IRAQI KURDISTAN: Broken promises -- Indigenous self-governance and Kurdish independence

CPTnet

23 October 2017

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY / IRAQI KURDISTAN: Broken promises -- Indigenous self-governance and Kurdish independence

by Rebaz K. Mohammed / Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project

Today, while many are celebrating how far we have progressed in upholding human rights, the facts on the grounds offer a much less polished picture of the human-made systems running our world.

Being an indigenous person myself, a Kurd, I was always drawn to understand what has happened to indigenous nations around the world, including my own nation. How come a nation of more than 40 million people does not have a country of its own? As I expanded my horizon I found out we were not alone, many indigenous nations around the world suffer from the same injustice, especially indigenous nations on Turtle Island (North America). I soon realized that the basis of the oppression is the same: unadulterated racism, and the similarities are uncanny. 

Following World War I, the European colonial powers committed to support Kurdish self-determination and self-governance. The treaty of Sèvres promised the establishment of a Kurdish state after the fall of the Ottoman empire. This promise was broken when the Kurds were divided between four countries: Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. European powers then actively backed the quashing of numerous Kurdish revolutions and attempts to establish a state. Most recently, Europe, the U.S., and Canada have come out against Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sept. 25 independence referendum. 

referendum

Photo from NRT TV.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 4 October 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 4 October 2017

Pray for strength for the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Canada) and their allies in the struggle for true reconciliation and implementation of the UNDRIP. 

Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary as a modern country this summer, a country in the forefront of human rights according to the outside world. Yet, in Canada one of the biggest genocides in the history has taken place and it’s survivors live the outcome of it every day, suffering alone and in silence. Today the indigenous nations of Turtle Island live in poverty inside the borders of one of the richest countries in the world. The consecutive governments of what’s called Canada have let down the indigenous nations and did not uphold their part of the treaties they signed 150 years ago. As a result, the indigenous nations' land has shrunk to 0.2%. The indigenous communities have the highest rates of unemployment and incarceration in the country, staggering numbers of missing and murdered women and girls and a very poor access to health care and child welfare support.

However, this year marks also the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a declaration which if adopted and implemented would become the doorway towards restoration of the indigenous nations sovereignty over their land and alleviation of systemic human rights abuses and oppression the first nations of this land suffer from silently. Peacemakers in Canada are striving to pressure the "liberal" Canadian parliament and government to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP and start a real reconciliation that would include more than an "apology."

CPTers and delegates meet Grassy Narrows community members
CPTers, delegates and allies meet with a long-time CPT partner Judi Da Silva and her husband Bepgogoti in Grassy Narrows.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Reflections on the Fast for Indigenous Rights

CPTnet
30 September 2017
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Reflections on the Fast for Indigenous Rights

by Chuck Wright

I’m not a religious guy, but last week I participated in a day of fasting for Indigenous rights. Although it was only a day, it is in the lead up to 2nd reading of Cree MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C262 and in solidarity with those who are fasting for a just relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. It’s at a time when Canada has a real opportunity to change course through Bill C262 – an Act to ensure the laws of Canada is in harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I used this time to reflect about the purpose of fasting. Specifically, I think of Steve Fobister Sr. from Grassy Narrows who – in July 2014 – went on a hunger strike to call for justice for mercury survivors. I think of former Chief Theresa Spence who – in December 2012 during the birth of the Idle No More movement - endured a several day hunger fast to demand nation-to-nation meetings about the socio-economic crises affecting Attawapiskat and so many other Indigenous communities across the country.

My friend Steve Heinrichs – Mennonite Church Canada director of settler-Indigenous relations and CPT Steering Committee member – initiated a 46-day rolling Fast for Indigenous Rights and is inviting others to sign up for a day or more in our shared hunger for justice. He states: “The fast is born out of a couple places – a need to show the depth of our seriousness for Bill C262. Government of Canada has offered a lot of good words, but needs more action on the ground. It is also born out of a deep place of spirituality, where I’m asking a force greater than us to help move the hearts and minds of our political leaders alongside the grassroots demanding real change in Canada’s relationship to Indigenous peoples.”

 

Silent action with banners: We support Bill C-262
Constituents of Winnipeg Centre and supporters of Indigenous Rights call on the Liberal government to do less talk and more walk for reconciliation by supporting Bill C262.


Prayers for Peacemakers, 27 September 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 27 September 2017

Prayer for an end of the neighboring countries' hostilities following Kurdistan's referendum on independence and for increased solidarity with the oppressed peoples' struggles around the world.

"Iraqi government is threatening, Turkish government is threatening, Iranian government is threatening and the entire international community is threatening. What is it? I have never had so much problems with my identity, who I am and where I come from. I did not vote for the referendum because I believe that these Kurdish leaders (...) have done nothing regarding human rights, women rights, LGBTQ rights and minority rights. They have not been able to create a democratic system that we all have wanted and lastly I do not believe in nation states." These are the words and a perspective of someone close to CPT on presumably the biggest event of this week: the Kurdistan's referendum on independence from Iraq.

The sharing continues: "Of course that is not the case at the moment, is it? A group of people have decided to hold a referendum after going though hundreds of years of oppression. And guess what: the whole world is threatening and the three neighboring countries such as Iran, Iraq and Turkey have warned that they would invade and put sanctions on the region. I really do not understand why everyone is against it? If really they all believe in human rights and democracy then why do they threaten? Why do they bomb? Why do they kill? Only in the past 6 days both Turkey and Iran have been bombing farmers in the mountains. 7 people dead and 4 wounded. Houses destroyed and farms burnt. And already fights and curfews in some small towns around Kirkuk because of the referendum. Why is that? Why has it become so easy to start wars and to kill people?"

House impacted by Iranian bombing, smoke rising, a man on the phone
On the day of the referendum Iranian military bombarded fiercely Kurdistan's border communities including CPT partners

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Shoal Lake 40- Celebration of the road construction mixed with uncertainty

CPTnet
30 August 2017
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Shoal Lake 40- Celebration of the road construction mixed with uncertainty

by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen

Change brings both joy and uncertainty. Even if the change is something that has been pleaded for by generations of people for the last 98 years.

Just over a hundred years ago the municipal engineers of Winnipeg were searching for a good source of water for the city. Among other possibilities, such as the Winnipeg River, they “discovered” abundant, safe drinking water 100 miles away in Shoal Lake. The Anishinaabe people in the area were in the way of what was deemed the best site for the aqueduct, so the city appropriated 3,500 acres of land and moved the community to a peninsula sticking out into the lake. Then, with the building of a dyke and canal that cut through the isthmus, that peninsula was made into an island.

The people of reserve Shoal Lake 40 (SL40) were left for 98 years with no way to reach stores, hospitals, friends or relatives other than private boats or a decrepit ferry barge in summer, or an ice road in winter. During the freeze-up or thawing months they were stuck on the island. People have died trying to cross the ice. People have died because they could not get across.

Their resistance and pressure has gone on for decades. Chief after chief have spoken and written about their situation to politicians: Winnipeg city, Manitoba province, Canada country. Bureaucracies’ promises have been made: for economic opportunities, a water treatment plant and an all-weather road, and then reneged upon.

Meeting at the road construction Shoal Lake 40
Photo: CPTers and visitors speak with a community member, Cathy Green, as she tells about the situation on Shoal Lake 40 and the construction of the road.


CPT INTERNATIONAL: Message of gratitude to Sarah Thompson as she completes her tenure of service as CPT Executive Director

25 August 2017
CPT INTERNATIONAL: Message of gratitude to Sarah Thompson as she completes her tenure of service as CPT Executive Director 

Dear CPT Supporters,

Sarah Thompson, Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, will complete her tenure of service in October 2017. 

Sarah's MLK Speech at Goshen College
                                                                                    Sarah Thompson's MLK Speech at Goshen College, Indiana 2017


As Sarah’s time of service comes to a close, the Steering Committee,  Program Director Milena Rincon, and members of CPT would like to take the opportunity to thank her for her hard work, leadership and commitment to the organization, and the holy work of peacemaking.  Sarah’s term has been marked by vision, intelligence and relentless energy. Her dedication to the well-being of CPT is matched only by her desire to further its reach in building partnerships to transform violence and oppression.  During these years Sarah has taken CPT to new places and started new conversations while tending well to the history and relationships that formed the organization.  That is not an easy task, but she performed it with wisdom and grace.  Sarah’s optimism and kindness are inspiring.  She never failed to acknowledge the dignity of every person she interacted with.  We thank her for that gift.

With Gratitude,

 Milena Rincon, Program Director, and the CPT Steering Committee

Prayers for Peacemakers, 11 August 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 11 August 2017

On the occasion of the international observance of the Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, let us pray for and engage in active solidarity with the indigenous peoples struggle for their rights and protection of land.

This week the world observes the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The indigenous peoples have too often been erased and silenced from the history and the present. The discussions about the future rarely consider indigenous peoples' voices and reality. Yet, their voices and message sound clear and louder each day. This year marks the 10th anniversary since the world and regional power groups adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now is the time to implement it. Especially and more so among the people of faith, who have committed to worship and follow the God of peace, justice and love.

Let us reflect on what actions could we take in solidarity with the indigenous peoples who struggle to reclaim their cultural realities and to protect their lives, land and resources. Let us pray that we might comprehend more clearly what actions do we as people of faith need to take. Many of us in Christian Peacemaker Teams are descendants of settlers on lands of others. And some of us come from communities massacred and dispossessed by others. Let us pray for the renewal of strength and energy for the indigenous organizers and communities who ask for respect for their lives, rights and for just and equal opportunities. Let us pray for those who committed to live and work as allies and in solidarity. Let us carry in our thoughts and prayers members of the CPT Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team in Winnipeg, Canada.

Youth from Grassy Narrows

Consider watching a music video from an indigenous community of Grassy Narrows that CPT partners with.

Also, here you may read the latest updates from the CPT Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 5 July 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 5 July 2017

In the shadow of big national anniversaries of Canada and the USA, let us remember in our prayers all Indigenous peoples of the Turtle island and their struggle and pray for the CPT Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team and its partners.    

This week two countries on the Turtle island celebrate important anniversaries of their existence as sovereign states: 150 years since the creation of Canadian confederation and 241 years since the declaration of independence and formation of the United States of America. The grandiose patriotic celebrations and media coverage rarely remember the impacts of these historic events on the Indigenous peoples who had lived on and cared for these lands and nature for thousands of years. 

Today, let us remember in our prayers the Indigenous nations of the Turtle island who “official histories" have attempted to ignore, erase and silence. Let us pray for the descendants of settlers, who built their country on genocide and land appropriation, because they (and we) are given an opportunity to learn about the past in order to understand the presence. Let us ask the Creator to lead us on the path of transformation to become good allies and partners of future change. Let us pray for the CPT Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team and all their partners who play a pivotal role in these efforts.

Decolonization Road sign