To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
Sir Winston Churchill
2012, the year the Mayan calendar has predicted will be the end of the world as we know it. for many, this is a scary thought and many dismiss this as folklore, out of fear I suspect. As our climate changes with heavier rainfalls, hotter summers, desertification in many places around the world and the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, capitalism and all its traps continues.
As one looks out at the great expanse of globalization, it becomes very evident that there is no sign of slowing down development that is destroying Mother Earth’s well being and all our health and well-being. Why?! Because world leaders must satisfy their constituents who vote for them; the corporations and multinationals whose rights trump that of the ordinary person and especially that of Indigenous peoples. There is some bizarre law that states that an individual owns the first 6 inches of soil on their land, what is underneath can be had if the state deems it in the supposed “public interest”. this has allowed the state to trample on the rights of individuals, but in particular Indigenous peoples further dispossessing us from our lands and resources. Canada’s Land Claims policy allows Third party interests to continue in parallel to “land claims” negotiations with the premise that eventually, once the “claim” is settled and once a community or nation can prove their rights to their territory, then they can receive Royalties.
It is an archaic, anachronistic and dishonest way for Canada to negotiate and does not represent honest and fair dealings. It also contradicts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as our own Customary laws, customs and traditions.
If we as Indigenous peoples believe that it is our right to be self-determining while basing it upon our languages, traditional governing structures and customs, then we must assert them in our discussions with all governments, especially the federal government. Why? Because Climate Change is real and our ancestors’ teachings tell us to protect all of life, all of creation – All our Relations.
If we look at who is sponsoring research on Climate Change, we wil find that insurance companies are those investing in research, taking the initiative to examine the changes happening to our climate and not waiting for government to take the lead. For once, the “bottom line” has come to the aid of the average person. While their motivation may not be entirely altruistic there is nevertheless a “credible” group of business people funding research and supporting what environmentalist like David Suzuki have been saying for decades about preserving the environment. But then again, Indigenous elders were already promoting this message long before the environmentalist movement began.
Our Elders were warning the United Nations and their member states for several decades that the Earth could not sustain the rate of development/industrialization that is currently happening. Our Elders warned of the damaging effects to the well-being of the environment and the people who live off the land.
So who speaks for Mother Earth and All Our Relations. We all should. Indigenous peoples have been trying to stop the madness for years as our identity is linked to our relationship with the land. Our Indigenous languages, customs and traditions Connect us to the land. our languages contain the traditional knowledge on how our relationship to the land should be to guide us as we care for the land to ensure that future generations will be able to live off it as we have.
What is standing in the way is the colonial relationship we as Indigenous peoples have with Canada and the USA, and the global community. this out of balance relationship still attempts to eradicate our rights as self-determining peoples. Some communities who have resisted assimilation with all its parts are now accepting development on their traditional territories out of economic duress. Canada under the Conservative Party seems to have no interest in decolonizing the relationship they have with Aboriginal peoples. In fact since coming into power the kind of relationship they have fostered is one that maintains the colonial status quo ” WE Know what’s best for you” attitude.
Since coming into power, the Government of Canada has bulldozed their agenda through Parliament by refusing to accommodate Aboriginal peoples recommended revisions of various Bills ranging from the court ordered McIvor case with Bill C-3 passed in December 2010 to the MRP, and Water Bill to name a few. These Bills are disguised as purportedly being in “our” (Aboriginal peoples”-) best interest”, but instead, they are in reality a new emergence of the 1969 White Paper policy.
For example, the Water Bill requires Aboriginal communities to become a registered entity under provincial and territorial laws and contains a “derogation” clause from Aboriginal and Treaty rights. If passed this would set a legal precedence of derogating from the inherent rights of Aboriginal peoples but all under the disguise of getting potable drinking water for Aboriginal communities.
What must be done is to make Canada accountable to the rule of law they supposedly uphold and respect. Implementing our traditional laws, treaties and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples is the first step in the decolonization process. As nations with self-determining rights, we must assert our rights, even if Canada continues to use coercion to try and silence our voices. There is no time to waste and we can no longer accept the violations of our collective rights as Indigenous Peoples.
I support those Indigenous communities who oppose the Enbridge and MacKenzie pipeline. I support those 5 First Nations communities who are fighting the TAR SANDS and those fighting the Prospect Mining company. Free, Prior and Informed Consent must be respected.
Free – no coercion, no threats
Prior – knowledge of the intents by Government and 3rd Party interests upon our traditional lands and territories, as well as any legislation impacting our inherent and treaty rights.
Informed – All information concerning development, or Bills impacting our inherent Aboriginal and treaty rights. The consequences, and details of projects, activities and any legislation
Consent – Indigenous peoples have the right to withhold consent, We have the right to say “NO” or “yes”
Reconciliation and Restitution using our customs, our values and our traditions firmly rooted in our Indigenous languages.