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 dĂ©jĂ  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.

U.S./CANADA: The CPT Boutique awaits your tax-deductible valuables!

An antique sapphire and diamond pin brought in $150.  Brass pineapple candleholders brought in $18.  A child’s Ethiopian dress brought in $40.  A 1927 edition of Winnie the Pooh brought in $35.  A Paragon bone china cup and saucer from the 1940s brought in $20.  Some 1854 stamps from India brought in $60.

All of these items were donated by CPT supporters over the last year to the CPT Boutique—one less material thing in their lives meant a little more money to support CPT’s work in the Middle East and the Americas.

CANADA: CPT supports de-listing of Abousfian Abdelrazik from U.N. Sanctions Committee list

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is joining a delegation of Canadian civil society representatives travelling to the United Nations on 15 June 2011 to ask for the de-listing from a U.N. sanctions committee of a Canadian citizen named Abousfian Abdelrazik. Mr. Abdelrazik was put on a UN Security Council sanctions list in 2006 without charge, seeing the evidence against him, or right of appeal.…

CPT reservist James Loney will be representing CPT on the delegation. Please click on this link for photos of past support actions.

Video of Mr. Abdelrazik’s 2009 return to Canada is available here. 

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: CPTers Julián Gutiérrez Castaño and Peter Haresnape join Six Nations in response to “Lies and Violence” rally

 On 27 February 2011, Christian Peacemaker Teams, a member of the Six Nations Solidarity Network participated in the Caledonia rally supporting the people of Six Nations against Gary McHale’s so-called “Truth and Reconciliation” Rally.…

The recent rally appropriated the name “Truth and Reconciliation” which in Canada commonly refers to the process of healing from the government and church-run residential schools designed to destroy Indigenous identity and families.  For McHale, the white community's suffering is apparently comparable.  The rally was to feature the placement of a monument on the reclamation site that would feature apologies from the OPP, province, and the Six Nations.

Gary McHale also issued a call for Christian Leaders to be active in their commitment to justice and to support his rally.  In response to McHale’s letter, Julián GutiĂ©rrez Castaño and Peter Haresnape had the following to say at the counter rally supporting the Six Nations.

(For more information, see

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Justified use of force, part II--justified by fear

Helen Proulx and Byron Desbassige were both shot by police.  Byron died from his injuries, Proulx suffered from a shattered pelvis.  None of the police involved suffered from any injuries but the police charged Proulx, who had been trying to commit suicide, with assault.  All of the police officers were considered justified in their actions and not charged by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).  * (See ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Justified use of force, part I)

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Justified use of force, part I

“Authority to use force separates law enforcement officials from other members of society...”  (“Canada’s National Use-of-Force Framework for Police Officers” The Police Chief magazine August 2010)

Kenora resident Helen Proulx was trying to slit her wrists with a small knife when a neighbour called the police on 7 June 2010.  The lone responding officer commanded Proulx to drop her weapon.  She started to walk towards the officer and the officer fired two shots, wounding Proulx in the arm and shattering her pelvis.  The neighbour saw Proulx fall face first onto the sidewalk.  Police charged Proulx with assault.  Two years earlier, on 16 February 2008, Toronto resident Byron Debassige had been singing and asking for change when the police arrived.  He had stolen three lemons and then pulled out his pocketknife when the shop clerk chased him onto the street.  Two constables confronted him on the path at Oriole Park.  When they commanded him to put down his juice bottle, he tucked it under his arm and pulled the knife out of his pocket.  The officers drew their guns and shouted at him to stop and drop his knife, but Debassige kept walking toward them.  They fired four shots, hitting him twice in the torso.  He died from his injuries.  In both cases, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU)* found the shootings, “justified.”

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Algonquin men attempt to block clear-cutting of Beaver Pond Forest by chaining themselves to trees.

On 1 February 2011, two Algonquin men, Robert Lovelace and Daniel Bernard, chained themselves to trees in the Beaver Pond Forest near Kanata, Ontario, to block a second day of clear-cut logging from destroying a forest considered sacred by Algonquin First Nations.