Archive | December, 2011

Landlords or prisoners?

9 Dec

You could essentially say that First Nations people are both.  First Nations are landlords in an original context.  In our own way that we were here first and took ownership of the lands the many nations lived upon.  First Nations are also on permanent in-land reserve arrest.  You can bet that many First Nations believe they should be landlords of the land but it is not regarded as so to Canada.

There are a lot of questions regarding seperatism among First Nations.  It is not the case.  We are our own sovereign nation.  We do not want to be apart from Canada.  We want to be equal.  A simple statement that garners more questions.  There are a number of beliefs among non-First Nations that First Nations receive more from the government of Canada than them.  It is simply not the case.  Not only do non-First Nations believe that First Nations receive more but also First Nations do not pay taxes for the benefits that First Nations receive.  So the view is that First Nations do not deserve the little benefits that they receive from the government.  How are First Nations not equal to non-First Nations in Canada?  Well, there are a number of studies done by Canada and other organizations that state that by capita, First Nations do not receive the benefits that most Canadians do by a large margin.  If you would like to see information about rights, equality, and stats. look at these sites.

 

THE HEALTH STATUS OF CANADA’S
FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS AND INUIT PEOPLES http://healthcouncilcanada.ca.c9.previewyoursite.com/docs/papers/2005/BkgrdHealthyCdnsENG.pdf

First Nations, Inuit, and Aboriginal Health
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/index-eng.php

 
FIRST NATION CONSULTATION FRAMEWORK
http://fngovernance.org/resources_docs/First_Nation_ConsultationFramework.pdf

Canada does not follow its own constituation.  Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution states:

35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “Aboriginal Peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

There is just information all over regarding the inquality that First Nations face from the majority of the population in Canada.  The information is out there.  You just have to find the answers you’re looking for.  If you don’t have the answers, perhaps you should rethink the questions you have.  Here is a link regarding the fight for equality according to the Assembly of First Nations.
http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/about-afn/our-story

The misinformation that many have when it comes to First Nations living off the government and receive so much from the goverment.  As previous landlords we should be receiving more, yet First Nations are not recognized as having the right to self-determination.  This basically means that Canada believes that First Nations do not have the right to be free.  Canada has recently changed its vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but was only for show as Canada has done nothing but declare that they have that right to self-determination.  It basically states, “so they have that right, so what?”

If you are worried about being renters, First Nations are not worried about being landlords.  First Nations are worried about having freedom, rights, and equality among Canadian citizens.  This does not mean we want to be fully colonized.  The statements regarding just make them pay taxes and work and get an education simply does not work.  Sure it puts us in the same state (Canadian) but it means we lose our inherent right as a First Nations person.  As a Canadian citizen who holds your own identity as a Canadian should believe that the world is equal.  We were treated as prisoners and still  are.  Prisoners are placed as a ward of state then put into an institution where they will reside while repaying their debt to society.  A prisoner is anyone who is deprived of liberty against their will. This can be by confinement, captivity, or by forcible restraint.

We have no will over the state of health, water, lands, housing, education, and freedom in our own lands.  If we did have the freedom to control all these, would the situation be the same as it is now?  No way.  As the warden(government) of our prison (reserves), he alone governs what prisoners shall have and should not have.  First Nations are not looking to kick anyone off the land but looking to those residents of the land to have the freedom, rights, and entitlement that Non-First Nations have.  If you believe everyone to be equal, look at the statistics and tell me that they prove everyone has equal benefits in Canada.  If you believe that First Nations do not pay for any benefits received, tell me that I do not pay taxes, I will show receipts that I do.

Words of wisdom and eloquence

6 Dec

“We are statistics that everyone has heard about, the unemployed, uneducated, alcoholics, welfare recipients. We have been the study of many Congressional studies and investigations, all types of studies, but we as statistics still remain – our situation has remained the same for a century. So we have grouped together behind our religious beliefs, our respect for human rights, our beliefs that we are entitled to human rights as well as everybody else. Our functions have been to educate our own people and to try and educate the White American as to the fact that we exist yet today. I mean when you look at A.I.M, [this is] who we are. We are the descendants of Geronimo, Crazy Horse. We are the indigenous people. We are concerned about what is happening to our people now, because, you know, we don’t like to be a statistic…To respect the Creator we must show respect, we must respect ourselves. Too many times we have seen our people in a condition where we don’t see…even self-respect.”
John Trudell

Cheif Nez Perce

6 Dec

We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets, that hereafter he will give every man a spirit home according to his deserts; If he has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been a bad man, he will have a bad home. This I believe, and all my people believe the same.

I am tired of talk that comes to nothing It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk.
It does not require many words to speak the truth.

If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace. Treat all men alike.Give them all the same law.Give them all an even chance to live and grow.All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. Let me be a free man,free to travel, free to stop,free to work,free to trade where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers,free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”

You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented to be penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.

We are taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets: that hereafter he will give every man a spirit-home according to his deserts…. This I believe, and all my people belive the same

Chief Seattle’s belief

6 Dec

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man — all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.
So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.
The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect’s wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.
The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.
So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition – the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.
You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.
That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.

All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man… the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Treaties

6 Dec

A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as: (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, exchange of letters, etc. Regardless of the terminology, all of these international agreements under international law are equally treaties and the rules are the same.

Treaties can be loosely compared to contracts: both are means of willing parties assuming obligations among themselves, and a party to either that fails to live up to their obligations can be held liable under international law for that breach. The central principle of treaty law is expressed in the maxim pacta sunt servanda—”pacts must be respected”.

The reasons for treaty negotiations in British Columbia generally fall into three categories: moral; economic; and constitutional and legal. These are interconnected and need to be resolved in order for British Columbia to prosper both socially and economically.

The moral issue is self-evident. The quality of life for Aboriginal people is well below that of other British Columbians. Aboriginal people generally die earlier, have poorer health, have lower education and have significantly lower employment and income levels than other British Columbians. This is directly related to the conditions that have evolved in Aboriginal communities, largely as a result of unresolved land and title issues, and an increasing reliance on federal support programs.

As well as the obvious issues of the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal people, the courts have told government repeatedly that Aboriginal rights and title exist, and that these rights have significant impact on the way government does its business.

Uncertainty over ownership of land impedes the development of aboriginal communities and economies, affects the provincial economy and discourages investment. Government has to take that reality into account as it continues to manage the lands and resources of British Columbia.

In order to maximize opportunities for economic development and job creation for all British Columbians, government has to find a way to reconcile the rights and the interests of First Nations with those of the Crown. Treaty negotiations provide for public input and a method for resolution of these issues.

Constitutional Framework
The three most important aspects of the Constitutional framework for British Columbia are:
• Constitution Act, 1867 (BNA Act)
• Terms of Union Act, 1871
• Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35

The Constitution Act of 1867, also known as the BNA Act, has a special provision, section 91(24), which gives the federal government exclusive lawmaking authority in the category described as “Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians.” When forming the Dominion of Canada, the fathers of confederation assigned a special place in the constitution for Aboriginal people. That has not changed.

In 1871, British Columbia became part of Canada and accepted the division of powers that gave the federal government exclusive lawmaking authority over Aboriginal people and Indian lands. The province took the position that it had no other responsibilities with respect to Aboriginal land interests and for 120 years the province deferred its obligation to Canada to continue to supply lands for Indian reserves.
For that reason among others, treaty-making in British Columbia — which had a very brief history before Confederation — was not part of post-Confederation British Columbia until recently.

The third element of the Constitutional framework which is critically important is section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It says in part: “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed” — again, a special place in the constitution for Aboriginal people and Aboriginal rights.

Legal Precedence

Over the past 130 years the courts have given content to the Constitutional documents, which significantly affects the way the Government of British Columbia does business. There are three important decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada that are landmarks in Canadian law and particularly important to British Columbia:

1973 –Calder: represented first modern recognition of aboriginal title in Canadian common law.
1990 – Sparrow: interpreted Section 35 and established a framework for addressing justifiable government infringement of aboriginal rights.
1997 – Delgamuukw: recognized Aboriginal title, set out test for its proof, and established a framework for justifiable government infringement of Aboriginal rights.

The Calder decision involved the Nisga’a claim to Aboriginal title. Calder represented the first modern recognition of Aboriginal title in Canadian common law. Common-law rights arise when facts exist and the court says: “If these facts exist, then the right exists.”

The Supreme Court of Canada said, in effect, that if there is Aboriginal historic presence on the land, then these rights can be recognized as common law without the need for any action by the provincial or federal governments — something called Aboriginal title. Calder became the legal lynchpin for the Government of Canada’s comprehensive claims policy that began in the early 1970s. British Columbia did not participate in this policy since the province’s position at that time was that this was a federal issue.

In 1990, in a case called Sparrow, the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time looked at section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, and interpreted it to mean that where there is an existing Aboriginal right, the ability of government to interfere with that right unilaterally is constrained. Sparrow says that the power of government to infringe Aboriginal rights is no longer absolute.

The Sparrow case establishes a framework for addressing what can be justifiable government infringement of Aboriginal rights. Therefore, the government has to undertake certain processes to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with Aboriginal rights. If the government does not do that, then its ability to legislate and regulate is constrained.

In 1997, Delgamuukw took some of the principles from those two previous cases and expanded them. Whereas Sparrow defined aboriginal rights as being activities — such as fishing, hunting and gathering forest resources — Delgamuukw talked about title as a right of ownership in land and said that that right of ownership exists in British Columbia. It also talked about how to prove that right of ownership and said that where that right exists, the same principles that constrain how the government can affect that right and that were talked about in Sparrow exist.

Consequently there is now a broader conception of which Aboriginal rights include title and a firm statement by the Supreme Court of Canada that the ability of government to infringe those rights is constrained. There is also a firm statement by government that the Crown continues to be the landowner, the resource owner, and ultimate decision-maker. Consequently, there must be some kind of reconciliation between the Crown’s sovereignty and Aboriginal rights and title.

Most recently, the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Haida First Nation v. BC and Weyerhaeuser and Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. the BC Government and Redfern Resources Ltd. provided a clearer understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the governments and the necessity to consult and accommodate First Nations interests. The court reaffirmed that negotiating in good faith is the best means to reach long-term solutions and further defined what constitutes proper consultation and accommodation.

The first treaties in Canada

When the Europeans began to settle in the eastern part of North America, Britain recognized that the people who were already living there had title to the land. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 declared that only the British Crown could acquire lands from First Nations, and only by treaty.

In most of Canada, both before and after Confederation, treaties were signed which set out the rights of Aboriginal people with respect to land, hunting and fishing.
Treaties in British Columbia
On Vancouver Island, the British Crown instructed James Douglas, chief factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company and later governor of the colony, to purchase First Nations lands. Douglas made 14 purchases in all, known as the Douglas Treaties, between 1850 and 1854. When the mainland became a colony in 1858, Douglas made no further purchases because of a shortage of funds. Instead, he offered Aboriginal people opportunities similar to those offered to new settlers, including the right to acquire Crown land to become farmers.

When Douglas retired, however, the colonial government took away this right and denied that Aboriginal people had ever owned the land. In 1871, when British Columbia joined Confederation, the new province did not recognize Aboriginal title, so there was no need for treaties.

In an exception, the Government of British Columbia did permit the federal government to negotiate treaties with eight First Nations in the northeastern area of the province to help resolve the problems brought on by the Klondike Gold Rush. The result was the extension of Treaty 8 into British Columbia in 1899.

Over the decades, Aboriginal people in B.C. petitioned the federal and provincial governments for treaties. In response to intensified demands, Ottawa amended the Indian Act in 1927, making it illegal for Aboriginal people to raise or spend money to advance land claims. The restriction was lifted in 1951. In August 1990, nearly 40 years later, the two governments agreed to sit down with First Nations in B.C. and negotiate treaties.

In August 1990, nearly 40 years later, the two governments agreed to sit down with First Nations in B.C. and negotiate treaties.

That same year, the provincial government entered the negotiations already underway between the Nisga’a Tribal Council and the federal government. It also agreed to the establishment of a tripartite task force, with representation from First Nations, Canada and British Columbia, to develop a process for negotiating treaties with other First Nations in B.C.

The Report of the British Columbia Claims Task Force, released in 1991, contained 19 recommendations. Key recommendations included:
• the establishment of a new relationship among the First Nations, Canada and British Columbia, based on mutual trust, respect and understanding, through political negotiations
• the establishment of a British Columbia Treaty Commission to facilitate the process of negotiation, and
• A six-stage process for negotiating treaties.
The recommendations were unanimously accepted by Canada, British Columbia and the First Nations Summit as the basis for the current treaty negotiation process, which began in 1993 with the formation of the British Columbia Treaty Commission.

In the meantime, Canada, British Columbia and the Nisga’a Tribal Council continued their negotiations for a treaty settlement throughout the 1990s. The result was the Nisga’a Treaty, implemented in 2000. Although not part of the British Columbia treaty process, Nisga’a negotiations followed the same tripartite process and resulted in the first modern-day treaty in British Columbia.
Based on everything that has been documented so far, Canada and British Columbia have failed to keep up their end of the treaty. The government had one goal and that was to purchase land for their own benefit and growth. Natives were not even in the picture of this growth and benefit. British Columbia has gone further by taking away rights and title by law without consultation. These actions should void any agreement or treaty in Canada. British Columbia did not have treaties for most of the land they took over.
The part that bothers me is that James Douglas , “Instead, he offered Aboriginal people opportunities similar to those offered to new settlers, including the right to acquire Crown land to become farmers.” Why would they try to have the people who originally owned it, reacquire it to use it? How did Douglas even come to believe that the land became Crown Land when there were no treaties signed for it?
According to this, it was all done without accordance of Canadian Law. When British Columbia joined Canada, it undertook Canada’s law, when the Europeans began to settle in the eastern part of North America, Britain recognized that the people who were already living there had title to the land. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 declared that only the British Crown could acquire lands from First Nations, and only by treaty. So, when British Columbia became a part of Canada, their first item on the agenda should have been to acquire lands, which could only be done by treaty. However, the provincial government did not recognize title and rights. The federal government just turned a blind eye on this issue. Did they know they were in breach of their own law? There was no penalty for breach of the government breaking their own law it seems.
When it comes to penalizing governments for breach of law, the leader and the direct line of consultation are imprisoned and fined. When you look at dictators who have committed genocide and war, you will see that they have been sentenced to prison and sometimes death. How is it that British Columbia and Canada governments have not had the same fate as these other dictators? Well, one reason could be that the Canadian government do not recognize First Nations as having self-determination. self•-determination (-di tʉr′mə nā′s̸hən)
noun
1. The act or power of making up one’s own mind about what to think or do, without outside influence or compulsion
2. The right of a people to decide upon its own political status or form of government, without outside influence
If we do not have that right, Canada believes that they must decide for us on what is ours, what is needed, and what is given. On the contrary, Canada cannot be punished by people who do not have self-determination. At least that is how I believe the governments see it.
Seeing as how the governments failed on their own laws and are liable for punishment and penalty, they now want to sit down and “talk” about treaties. Mandates on both sides are opposite. You have one side trying to give as little as possible while the other wants as much as possible. One should not have to negotiate for what was already theirs. How can British Columbia and Canada compensate for what they have taken forcibly and used the resources for their own good? How can loss of culture and language be compensated for? You can start with money but in the long run money doesn’t last forever and is a short solution. How can money be enough for restitution on years of torture and loss of culture? You cannot just put money you receive into a savings account and have it last forever. When you look at the losses, death, language, and culture are mostly gone forever. You can say that language and culture can be regained so not lost forever. But that is where a lot of the negotiation problems start. How can you compensate for such losses?