Le manque d’intérêt du Canada, d’intervenir à Kanehsatà:ke dans le différend foncier vieux de 300 ans, favorise des situations de conflit et ne soutient pas l’honneur de la Couronne!
Comme Kanien’kehá:ka de Kanehsatà:ke, nous sommes obligés par notre Constitution Kaianera’shera’kó:wa de protéger nos territoires et notre peuple. Nous revenons à exprimer notre consternation et notre déception envers le manque de bonne volonté du gouvernement du Canada d’intervenir pour arrêter le développement se déroulant sur notre territoire traditionnel de Kanehsatà:ke (également appelé «OKA»). Canada, Québec et Oka poursuivent sciemment leurs efforts de collusion pour frauder dans le présent et l’avenir les futures générations Kanien’kehá:ka de profiter de leurs terres et de ses ressources.
Nous réitérons également notre opposition au projet de loi S-24, la «Loi provisoire sur la gestion des terres de Kanesatake», qui contribue au conflit territoriale de longue date avec le Canada. S-24 n’a bénéficié qu’à Oka et des tiers parties, approuvant ainsi la dépossession territoriale des Kanien’kehá:ka de Kanehsatà:ke, nous amenant vers des situations de conflit. Cette loi du Parlement a été adoptée frauduleusement et fait en sorte que la Couronne enfreint les droits territoriaux des Kanien’kehá:ka de Kanehsatà:ke.
Malgré les demandes, à travers les années de multiples générations de Kanehsata’kehró:non, pour régler ce long conflit historique permanent, le Canada n’est pas encore intervenu devant cette injustice et donc la fraude territoriale continue. Nous avons été privés de nos terres depuis plus de 300 ans en raison du fait que le Canada fonde sa souveraineté sur la doctrine raciste de la découverte et Terra Nullius, des lois archaïques basées sur la supériorité raciale et des agendas économiques plutôt que le respect des peuples autochtones de ce continent.
Au cours de la crise de 1990 à Kanehsatà:ke, le négociateur fédéral Bernard Roy, a déclaré son engagement à s’occuper de tous les problèmes liés au territoire du peuple de la Maison Longue de Kanehsatà:ke sur notre territoire traditionnel. Le gouvernement fédéral n’a jamais rempli ce devoir de consulter et d’inclure le peuple traditionnel de Kanehsatà:ke dans les négociations territoriales.
Au lieu de cela, après la crise de 1990, le Canada a vendu plus de nos terres dont une partie de notre précieuse pinède, à un promoteur privé plutôt que de retourner la terre aux gens de Kanehsatà:ke. En conséquence, Les Collines d’Oka a vu le développement de maisons de luxe dans les années 90 en dépit de l’opposition Rotinonhseshá:ka – le peuple de la Maison Longue.
Depuis notre dernière rencontre avec le maire Quevillon d’Oka, nous avons demandé à la ministre Bennett de venir à Kanehsatà:ke pour parler avec la communauté. Le 15 juillet, la ministre Bennett a accepté de visiter la communauté mais elle doit encore répondre quand cette visite se fera. La ministre Bennett a également déclaré qu’elle ne savait pas ce ‘’qu’ils pouvaient faire’’! Le silence du Canada indique un manque de bonne volonté et de bonne foi, ignorant son devoir de défendre l’honneur de la Couronne.
Nous sommes unis dans la protection de nos terres, mais nous ne pouvons pas autoriser à la création coloniale qu’est le Conseil de bande de parler en notre nom. Des traités ont été créés avec la nation Onkwehón:we, et les traités originaux restent sous l’autorité de Rotinonhseshá:ka – le peuple de la Maison Longue. Nous savons depuis quelque temps maintenant à travers les bureaucrates d’AINC que le Conseil Mohawk de Kanehsatà:ke a eu des discussions avec la Municipalité d’Oka sans en informer la communauté et sans obtenir le consentement préalable et éclairé de Kanehsata’kehró:non.
Nous demandons donc au Premier ministre du Canada Justin Trudeau, la ministre de la Justice et procureur général du Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould et la ministre Carolyn Bennet, des Affaires Autochtones et du Nord du Canada d’intervenir et de mettre fin à tout développement sur notre territoire traditionnel afin qu’ils puissent défendre l’honneur de la Couronne, qui est leur devoir constitutionnel.
Le Canada doit également dénoncer la Doctrine de découverte qui justifie ses actes de dépossession et de vol de territoires et qui criminalise les défenseurs des territoires autochtones.
Bien qu’il n’y avait pas de téléphones cellulaires et de médias sociaux pour aider notre cause en 1990, aujourd’hui, nous prenons cette occasion d’aider les Canadiens à devenir plus éduqués et conscients de leur histoire colonialiste. C’est l’occasion pour le Canada de démontrer sa sincérité pour la réconciliation et de résoudre ce conflit territoriale vieux de 300 ans.
En attendant, nous, le peuple préoccupé de Kanehsatà:ke:
- Rejetons toute mesure qui entraînera l’extinction de nos droits territoriaux – comme dans la «Loi sur la gestion des terres provisoires de Kanesatake (Kanehsatà:ke)»
- Invitons respectueusement le gouvernement du Canada et le Québec à mettre en œuvre la Déclaration des droits des peuples autochtones des Nations Unies dans toutes ses négociations territoriales et intègre Kaianerashera’kó:wa (la Grande paix brillante); et que Rotinonhseshá:ka, le peuple de la Maison Longue, dirige toutes les négociations sur son territoire.
- Nous nous opposons à toute vente frauduleuse de terrains par Les Collines d’Oka et la Municipalité d’Oka ainsi que toute autre construction de maisons sur territoire traditionnel Kanien’kehá:ka par GBD Construction
- Exigeons un arrêt de tout développement dans le “Parc Nationale d’Oka” qui est un territoire traditionnel Kanien’kehá:ka et exigeons le retour de nos artefacts culturels retirés du Parc d’Oka
- Nous rejetons la mise en œuvre du système d’eau d’occasion d’Oka qui prétend fournir de l’eau «propre» [à certains segments de notre communauté]. C’est une ruse dont la véritable intention est de soutenir l’extraction de l’uranium et du niobium, sur notre territoire par les projets de Niocan et autres, qui ont été rejeté plusieurs fois par Kanehsatà:ke. Les dommages qui seront subis par nos sources aquifères affecteront les générations présentes et futures qui seront privé de nos sources d’eau que la majorité de Kanehsatà:ke utilise actuellement dans leurs maisons.
Il incombe maintenant au Canada de respecter ses obligations et les droits de l’homme à l’échelle internationale ainsi que les droits des peuples autochtones à l’autodétermination. Le Canada doit arrêter la fraude foncière qu’il a créée et intervenir sur tous les problèmes mentionnés ci-dessus.
Skén:nen – en paix
Kanien’kehá:ka préoccupés de Kanehsatà:ke
Territoire non-cédé de Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka
On July 15, 2017 the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) held their Annual General Assembly (AGA) on Treaty 8 territory in Edmonton, Alberta. It included the election of a new president, a position with a term of three years. I entered my name and ran against the incumbent Francyne Joe, and also Doris Anderson, who was President of the Yukon Native Women’s Association.
I have always admired the ability of Indigenous women to face great adversity with dignity and honesty. Indigenous women’s fight has always been for the rights of our families and nations, for justice and equality. This pride in the women of our nations is partly the reason I decided to enter my name for president of NWAC. But I also decided to run so that I could try to bring the ‘democratic’ process of NWAC into the 21st century. Like all the other National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) in Canada, the NWAC process of elections does not allow all Indigenous rights holders to have a vote. All NAOs follow the criteria of a non-profit organization; an incorporated body that only allows select delegates of their membership to vote.
This is something that has disturbed me since learning about the NAO election process. In 2012 when I ran for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) national chief, I was further disturbed and then jolted from the inside of my body at the meanness of certain chiefs and individuals to discredit other candidates. I was told that “a woman has no place being the head of the AFN,” and that it was the men who were the leaders of their people. While shocked to hear this, I was not intimidated, nor was I swayed from running as I come from a proud and strong matrilineal civilization that is not easily disturbed by sexism. I was, however flabbergasted by the amount of money required to run for AFN national chief, which is an astounding $150,000 or so for travel etc. I could not find such sponsorship, and was limited to a one time trip to Toronto.
NAO campaigns are similar to Canadian elections, but even more problematic when it comes to voting, which is limited to ‘grand chiefs’ only. So really, how representative is this? If AFN campaigns can raise this kind of funding for a one shot deal, then why can we not provide adequate funding for our endangered languages? Where is the money for culture, the funding for post-secondary education, for care for our children and elderly? Why are these such hard sells to those with deep pockets?
It continues to be a challenge to fight the colonial government of Canada and its provinces with their own deep pockets. These governments influence the choice of leadership who must then be comfortable in promoting the colonial imposed hierarchy; a colonial imposed system with no power and which has only benefited Canada and not Indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities have been forced to follow the colonial road of “incorporation” in order to receive funding. We must follow Western forms of governance and decision making, which contradict our traditional laws and teachings. Incorporation may be good for running businesses, but it creates havoc when it comes to the implementation and upholding of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. It is exclusive and dysfunctional and not conducive to a real democracy. This is a major struggle for Indigenous peoples to change as it promotes divisions and causes us to lose more of our rights to self-determination.
INAC has been coercively dictating to NAOs like NWAC on what their priorities will be and it’s been doing this for decades. They like to keep us busy responding to problems that they create while adding more to the roster. Government decides on when it’s time for things like reconciliation or a national inquiry but offering flowery statements of how important Indigenous peoples are to Canada is just smoke and mirrors that belies the truth of the colonial agenda that remains on the table.
Canada remains steadfast in the comfort of colonization, unwilling to relinquish its hold in the goal of assimilation. As the first Minister of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott stated his goal was of ‘getting rid of the Indian problem.’ With the pretense of reconciliation, his goal has the potential of being reality.
As a Kanien’kehá:ka person I thus consciously entered into the AFN process with the knowledge that all Onkwehón:we peoples do not have a voice in decision making processes that affect our lives. I knew that there was very little chance to win because of the heavy handed politics we’ve learned so well from the colonizer. But I wanted to send out a strong public message: as women we know the double challenges we have to gain respect for our perspectives. Many chiefs did help and advise me during this time and I deeply value their precious advice and support.
While the issue of status is very important for our families to achieve justice and equality, I believe that NWAC must evolve with the times we are living in and look at the realities our nations are facing. Restoring the role of Onkwehón:we women in the decision making processes of our nations means that in every conference, event or negotiation, Onwkehón:we women must be sitting at the table dealing with issues like climate change, land rights, health, education and all the issues affecting our realities. In order to do so we must change the mindset of our own people; we must deal openly and honestly on all issues and agree to disagree. We cannot continue to compartmentalize each issue or say that women deal solely with status or violence.
NWAC started out as a representative organization through the blood sweat and tears of our precious pioneer women like Mary Two Axe Early, and they did so without any funding; just a passion and will for justice. Today NAOs face many challenges in their advocacy work. Although this has made headway at the international level we see little change at the community level.
If we look at Idle No More, anti-pipeline work and other activism, it appears that the NAO leaders do not pay serious attention to grassroot movements. Yet while it may not be popular to criticize Government and its links to big business interests, Grassroots activist are breaking through the exclusion barriers with their influence through social media, and are demanding their voices be heard. And the effectiveness of this work means that NAO leaders often ride upon the coat tails of community activists.
We also know that Onkwehón:we women have persevered throughout time, giving of their time, energy, and wisdom without titles, with little funding, in some cases with little support; a true mark of their sincerity for the love of their children, their nations and their gender. It has been Onkwehón:we women who have made the changes to the Indian Act, as they shamed Canada at the international level.
In terms of the NWAC elections, I was deeply moved by the support I received by the delegates and honoured to have Tanya Kappo as my scrutineer. My strength was with the Quebec Native Women
delegation and other regions, whose encouragement and support to continue inspired me, in spite of the long voting process lasting over 27 hours. The wise words by Viviene Michel, Marilyn Buffalo, Tracee Diabo and Bev Jacobs to follow my heart regarding whether or not to continue brought me strength, and helped me to decide what to do.
NWAC’s system of elections, by-laws and the constitution are flawed and are the reason why we had to go nine rounds of votes. The winner had to achieve 60% of the votes to be declared the winner; a change in the by-laws and constitution thanks to Stephen Harper’s legacy that required changes to non-profit organizations.
My decision to withdraw my name was because I watched how the elders and women were getting tired. It was thus an uncomfortable atmosphere of unkindness and disrespect which caused me to withdraw my name from the election, even though they had not yet announced the results of the 9th round. I felt that perhaps my energy should be spent at home fighting our 300 year old land struggle.
I decided that I could not in good conscious be a part of a process that imbued the colonial characteristic of winning at any cost; a quality that has been so engrained in all the NAO organizations that profess to represent us. I withdrew my name with a heavy heart knowing that I disappointed so many women. But their bright love and support has left me with strength and more determination to keep on this path of justice and equality for Onkwehón:we Nations; to them I say niawenkó:wa – a big heartfelt thank you.
I consider that I have won my liberty to speak, to use my freedom to draw from the teachings of my ancestors and continue the fight against colonization and its continued efforts to assimilate and dispossess the First Peoples of Turtle Island. At NWAC and the AFN Assembly I spoke honestly and openly about the changes which we must enact to successfully proceed into the future. I am always guided by those teachings our ancestors fought so hard to pass on to our generation. In my 27 years of activism, I seeing that only the semantics of government has changed and that the status quo remains; dispossession and institutionalized racism. And so, in spite of the many human rights gains we have accomplished internationally, we are no closer to the change we seek as Indigenous nations.
I have no regrets for entering both election processes nor for withdrawing my name at NWAC’s AGA. I wish for strength and respect for Francyne Joe in the job that lies ahead for her. To all the NAO leaders, I ask that they be part of the solution and help break the cycle of colonization; listen to the Onkwehón:we people of our nations and not Canada, for they have shown their true intent to continue assimilation and land theft.
There is no reconciliation if it means Canada’s assertion of its sovereignty over our un-ceded lands and territories continues. Indigenous women must be equal partners in the solutions and the people of our nations must be equal and full participants in all decisions made affecting our human rights.
For the sake of future and present generations,
Skén:nen – Peace to all and I pray that my words do not offend anyone.
Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel
Turtle Clan from the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation in Kanehsatà:ke
Watching the recent events in Kahnawà:ke regarding the protests on evictions of families with non-Mohawk spouses has been horrific as it reveals the extent to which colonization has been indoctrinated within Indigenous communities. Attacking the family unit has been the centuries old goal of Canada’s colonial policies in order to “beat the Indian out of the Indian”.
As Duncan Campbell Scott stated:
“ I want to get rid of the Indian problem. … Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill. ”
The impacts of colonialism is evident in every aspect of Onkwehón:we communities’ daily lives. From the imposition of the band council structure over traditional Longhouse government; with band council’s authority resting with the Canada’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (MAANDC formerly known as INAC); to access to services, education, dispossession of our lands and resources.
There exists within this dysfunctional form of ‘governance’ a norm of human rights violations founded on racist imperialist doctrines which have crafted the legal fallacies of Indigenous peoples’ land dispossession. For over a hundred years the Indian Act has coercively indoctrinated Indigenous peoples into believing that the colonizers definition of identity was true, causing cultural shame so that our languages are the most threatened in the world . But the indoctrination can only be successful if the colonized adopt it and the coercive prolongation of the number of generations of Onkwehón:we peoples suffering under Canada’s genocidal policies.
Witnessing on social media racism hidden within claims of Indigeneity unwittingly rooted in colonial values is disturbing. Combine this with societal and institutionalized racism in Canada adds to the already monumental challenges we face in rebuilding our nations from colonial genocide. Thus it is important to emphasize Canada’s liability in the unfolding of these events via its practice of colonization through the implementation of the Indian Act.
Like the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women, these problems are rooted in colonization and are a threat to everyone’s security. Canada still practices colonization utilizing tools of economic terrorism and coercion to perpetuate their assimilation ideology.
And so while certain groups of people think they are exercising their ‘sovereign’ right to evict families with a non-Mohawk spouse, they are actually perpetuating colonization. Meanwhile a naive public judges us unaware of how their ignorance of their colonial history has a hand in this tragedy. But they need only educate themselves to realize the manner in which their society, their government’s legislation and policies have contributed to the many social ills of Indigenous peoples which consequently threaten our security and enjoyment of our human rights.
But there is an even stronger uncomfortable silence of those who want and should publicly state their opposition to the evictions. But stating one’s opposition can be dangerous to your health – as colonial history reflects in its criminalization and dehumanization of Indigenous peoples. There are many who disagree with the evictions but who understandably out of fear of reprisals, are not speaking out against this manner of protests. However justice and freedom necessitates that the average person speak out against this injustice as it goes against our traditions, our ancestral teachings. Present and future generations are depending on us to uphold everyone’s right to justice and freedom; something Canada has been and continues to be unwilling to do since its creation. Continue reading
The following is my written submission to the Parliamentary Committee dealing with Bill C-51 which was submitted to the Parliamentary secretary by email on March 23, 2015
Anti-terrorism Act, 2015
An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
Written submission by Ellen Gabriel of Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Territory
Since I have not been provided with the opportunity to be a witness in person, I write today as a citizen of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) nation from the community of Kanehsatà:ke, whose un-ceded lands continue to be appropriated and stolen through the support of third party interests by Canada.
As a citizen of my nation, I have spent the last 25 years educating the Canadian public on Canada’s history of colonization and genocide. My journey in participating in the protection of Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) lands and resources began before 1990 but became more intense during and after the 1990 Occupation of Kanehsatà:ke, known as the “1990 Oka Crisis”.
During the “1990 Oka Crisis”, myself and other members of the communities of Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke came under police surveillance in which we were notified of through the mail. In this notice authorities informed me that all my telephone conversations had been recorded and provide me with a photocopy of a page from the Criminal Code of Canada which highlighted in yellow articles that referred to the justification of my surveillance as “threats to public security” and “suspicion of criminal activities”.
I received three of these types of notices up until around 1995, each with the same reason of ‘criminal’ activities highlighted as the justification for their surveillance.
As a person who has been directly affected by the surveillance policing authorities’, I would like to address some of the serious concerns regarding the impact that Bill C-51 will have on the dignity, security, freedom and access to justice of Indigenous peoples’. Of grave concern is the section on “interpretations” whose vagueness of definitions allows for unilateral interpretations of terms by Canada and its policing authorities thus endangering Indigenous peoples enjoyment of their human rights and right to self-determination.
Articles of Bill C-51 which reference terms such as “threats to public security”, in particular, Paragraph 30 which purports to exclude “… lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.” are extremely worrisome considering how colonial laws have historically and are currently being used to oppress Indigenous peoples as tools of dispossession.
The many unresolved and long standing historical grievances of Indigenous peoples in dealing with Canada’s assumed sovereignty over our lands has yet to be dealt with in a fair and just manner. Land rights of Indigenous peoples are often weakened by Canada’s “land claims” process and violated through subversive means for third party interests.
Canada’s assumed sovereignty upon Indigenous peoples, their lands and resources is based upon legal fictions from centuries’ old Doctrine of Discovery, Doctrine of Conquer and Terra Nullius. These doctrines of superiority have been declared by the United Nations as: “…racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and social unjust,” .
The practice of Imperialism through Canadian colonial laws continues to subvert Indigenous Peoples’ right of self-determination. This violation consequently contradicts international rule of law which requires all states to uphold the highest standards of human rights without discrimination and with objectivity.
Many recent media reports have revealed the already existing RCMP surveillance of “First Nations” groups and individuals in regards to protests against resource development. Therefore this Bill does very little to promote reconciliation and existing surveillance usurps Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and violates the Constitution Act, 1982, Sect. 35 which states:
“35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”
It has been mentioned by the government of Canada that this Bill is to protect its citizens from those who are a threat to “… the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada” .
However, as previously mentioned, the incessant criminalizing of Indigenous peoples who defend their lands from development perpetuates the historic injustices designed to undermine and devalue the hope for a peaceful co-existence for the sake of economic and energy security. (please see addendum of this submission on the core of international human rights instruments from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights)
Particular attention should be paid as well to ability of government institutions to share information to other agencies. Bill C-51 states that government institutions may not only share private information but they have a right to detain and prosecute individuals who appear to be a threat to “…sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada:
Thus the question remains: Who will be monitoring government institutions on whether or not the information is a) accurate, b) relevant to an investigation c) does not violate domestic and international human rights Act, Conventions, Treaties and Declarations, d) is respectful, e) is non-discriminatory, f) confidential g) if wrongly persecuted, provides an effective mechanism of redress, and many other issues which seriously impact Indigenous peoples’ collective and individual human rights.
It is unfortunate that there remains a lack of political will by Canada and its provinces to acknowledge and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UN Declaration should be seen as enriching Canadian society and the Indian Residential School Apology for its ability to provide society with a framework of reconciliation through its elaboration of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. A human rights approach to this bill is paramount to the security of society.
Therefore it is with great urgency that I request this Parliamentary Committee reconsider and revise the flaws of Bill C-51’s “Interpretation” of what constitutes “legal” or “… lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.” Consequently, it must uphold the rule of law and its constitutional duty to consult Indigenous peoples in a fair and democratic way on the language, interpretation and implementation of this Bill.
It has been through the colonial discriminatory lens in which events like the “1990 Oka Crisis” and Ipperwash occurred as consequences of colonial laws and doctrine. In more recent times the use of unwarranted violence by the RCMP in Elsipogtog Mig’ma territory against the defenders of the land who oppose SYNCOR’s gas fracking upon their un-ceded lands.
As development intensifies in Canada and Indigenous peoples, defenders of the land protect their right to self-determination, government and policing authorities alike must become knowledgeable of the universality, indivisibility, non-discriminatory, and inter-dependent of human rights in their efforts to uphold the rule of law. Creating more laws without examining how it impacts human rights, in particular, the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous peoples robs society of the richness of its democracy. Be they civil, political, cultural, linguistic or social rights, the respect and enjoyment of one, is inter-connected to the advancement of the others. Equally, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the enjoyment of other rights.
Bill C-51 ignores the long standing and un-resolved serious issues of land dispossession of Indigenous peoples under the Indian Act. Ignoring this issue continues the unbalanced relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada and is not reflective of reconciliation or upholding the honour of the Crown. Failing to uphold the honour of the Crown as stated by the Supreme Court of Canada in “matters that seriously affecting Aboriginal Peoples’ rights” constitutes a violation of Aboriginal peoples’ inherent rights to self-determination.
Branding Indigenous peoples who are defenders of their lands as ‘terrorists’ and criminals, fails to respect and implement the Indian Residential School apology and its accompanying reconciliation and restitution.
It allows for relentless attack upon the dignity, safety and well-being Indigenous peoples which has occurred for over 500+ years.
In 1990, I and many citizens of the Kanien’kehá:ka nation were labelled criminals and terrorists by the policing authorities and the governments of Quebec and Canada for simply defending our lives and our lands. I am one of countless generations of Indigenous peoples whose human rights have been threatened and violated by the colonial state due to Canada’s assumed sovereignty over our peoples, lands, and resources.
The root causes of the dispossession and oppression of Indigenous peoples are personified in colonial laws and language. What has been deemed ‘legal’ or sometimes ‘criminal’ in Canadian legislation is often to the detriment of Indigenous peoples to control and contain us for the benefit of the prosperity of Canada.
During the summer of 1990 the Canadian Police Association took out an advertisement in many Canadian media outlets entitled, “We Oppose Terrorism” criminalizing all the Mohawk people of Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke. The CPA’s ad spread the governments’ of Quebec and Canada’s propaganda of misinformation fanning the flames of racism by calling Mohawks terrorists and criminals without any investigation, trial or placing into context the history of Canada’s collusion with churches to defraud and dispossess Mohawks of our lands and resources.
The public outrage against the CPA’s ad provoked the Committee Against Racism to write a public comment denouncing their actions but to no avail. This is one of many examples that continues to this day by policing authorities as evident in Bill C-10: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco)
Indigenous peoples should not have to go to Canada’s court system to have their inherent rights respected or to achieve justice and peace. Yet this kind of ambiguity within Canadian law discounts historical treaties like the Two Row Wampum and Silver Covenant Chain which recognized each nation’s right to self-determination.
Bill C-51 in its current form does not promote good faith, nor does it instil any trust that it will not be used as another colonial law to torment and oppress Indigenous Peoples. It contradicts Canada’s international legal obligations such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination , preamble, para
Considering that all human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the
law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination,
It is with a heavy heart when I consider the realities and treatment of my Onkwehón:we (Indigenous) ancestors in examining Canada’s colonial history; one can conclude that the term “genocide” is appropriate to depict part of Canada’s history. Genocide as “crimes against humanity” includes: “to deal with the persecution and physical extermination of national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities.
While the Prime Minister of Canada may have issued an apology for the Indian Residential School System, they are mere words until sincere reconciliation is implemented along with restitution for the damages to our traditional government and identity; languages, culture, dignity, lands, waters and all our relations and recognition that the IRSS was an act of genocide.
Resisting assimilation is an ongoing occurrence for Indigenous peoples in Canada. We can never rest until Canada upholds and respects the human rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples to our rights to self-determination. As Indigenous peoples who have suffered from historic injustices we must remain vigilant in protecting and promoting our ancestral teachings and customary laws that teach us how to care for the land and all our relations.
We will remain uneasy, concerned and troubled of the impacts of Bill C-51 and all other sources legislation which perpetuate colonization and assimilation.
The UN Declaration, and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Human Rights system itself, requires the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all decisions affecting their rights. It is the globally accepted minimum standard for the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous peoples. I hope that this committee will take into serious consideration the implications of this Bill, Canada’s colonial history and how it continues to impact the integrity, security and well-being of Indigenous Peoples today.
Thank you for this opportunity to address this Parliamentary committee. My only regret is that I have not been given the opportunity to be a witness in person to discuss in more depth my concerns and perspective on this issue.
Skén:nen – in peace
Turtle Clan, Kanien’kehá:ka Nation from Kanehsatà:ke
this post does not include Endnotes which this submission also included to Parliament