Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

PIPELINE DISASTER

Posted by strattof on June 27, 2019

On June 16, the Trudeau government declared a “national climate emergency.” The very next day, this same government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX).

Is this blatant hypocrisy? Or might it be Orwellian doublethink: the act of holding two mutually exclusive beliefs as true. Without question, the approval of a new tar sands pipeline is not compatible with a responsible climate policy.

  • The rightly declared climate emergency is caused by rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere.
  • The leading cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels.
  • TMX will almost triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry tar sands oil.
  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of CO2 emissions in Canada.
  • Currently Canada is warming at twice the global rate.

WE MUST STOP THE TMX PIPELINE!

TMX FACT SHEET

  1. TMX would run roughly parallel to the already existing Trans Mountain pipeline, carrying diluted bitumen from Edmonton to Burnaby, on the BC coast, where it would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to Asia for processing.
  2. TMX would increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of bitumen a day, thus facilitating the growth of Alberta’s tar sands, Canada’s greatest and fastest growing source of CO2 .
  3. Diluted bitumen, sometimes called dilbit, is tar sands oil that has been diluted with chemicals, many of them toxic, so the thick sticky substance will flow through a pipe.
  4. TMX would cross 15 First Nations, Jasper National Park, and 800 waterways. It would also run directly under a number of schools, shopping centres, and residential neighbourhoods.
  5. TMX would quadruple the number of tankers to more than 400 a year along the BC coast.
  6. In 2018, when Kinder Morgan, the US oil company that owned Trans Mountain, threatened to walk away from the expansion project, the Trudeau government bought the already existing 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline, along with the proposed expansion, for $4.5 billion. This figure does not include the cost of constructing the expansion, an estimated $10 billion.

CLIMATE DISASTER

What is it that the Trudeau government does not understand about a climate emergency? For over three decades, climate scientists have been warning us that if we did not make significant reductions in CO2 emissions, we would face the worst effects of climate change.

Those worst effects are already very much with us:

►Deadly heatwaves               ►Devastating droughts

►Raging wildfires                 ►Record floods

►Rising sea levels                  ►Extreme weather events

If TMX is built, Canada will miss by a long shot its 2030 Paris Agreement emissions target—to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels.

ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER

PIPELINES: Pipelines are accidents waiting to happen. Between 2005 and 2018, there were 14 spills along the already existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

TANKERS: Increased tanker traffic will put the BC coast at increased risk of an ocean tanker spill.

TOXICITY: Diluted bitumen spills are particularly toxic because of the chemicals used to thin the bitumen. 

FINANCIAL DISASTER

  • The price was exorbitant. Ottawa spent $4.5 billion of our tax dollars for a 65-year-old leaky pipeline, along with the proposed expansion. According to the company’s 2017 annual report, all its pipeline assets in Canada were worth a mere $1.03 billion. It was a great deal for Kinder Morgan!
  • TMX may never be built. According to the federal government, construction is expected to start in September. But that is unlikely. ●TMX still faces some regulatory hurdles. ●Some First Nations and settler environmental groups plan to block the project through court challenges and protests. ●The BC government opposes the project.
  • TMX is not financially viable. To be cost-effective, TMX would have to be in use for 30 years. Like it or not, the end of the fossil fuel era is near. Wind and solar energy are now cost-competitive. The fossil fuel industry has already started to weaken. That is why no private sector offer was made to Kinder Morgan for its Trans Mountain pipeline assets.

4 BETTER WAYS TO SPEND $4.5 BILLION

  1. Invest in a clean-energy future.
  2. Help oil workers transition to other forms of employment.
  3. Invest in public transportation.
  4. Fix the drinking water on every First Nation = $3.2 billion.

TAKE ACTION FOR THE CLIMATE

In the words of Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish school girl who started the School Strike for Climate movement:

“Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.  

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%…. 

Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. 

I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” 

  • Thank Prime Minister Trudeau for declaring a “national climate emergency.” Let him know that you now want him to act as he would in an emergency. Such action does not include building TMX: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Make TMX an election issue. Let all the candidates in your riding know a) you do not want the pipeline built and b) you want the federal government to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and to start investing in solar and wind power.
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NUCLEAR POWER: SHOULD SASKATCHEWAN GO FOR IT?

Posted by strattof on June 15, 2019

Here we go again. The Government of Saskatchewan is once more speaking openly about the possibility of nuclear power for the province. The last time the province considered nuclear power was in 2008 – 2009. Public opposition was so fierce that the government backed away from the idea.

The major difference between the two proposals is size of reactor:

  • 2008 – 2009: Two large nuclear reactors
  • 2019: A number of small modular reactors

According to Premier Scott Moe, small modular reactors are, unlike large nuclear reactors, safe. In 2008, then Premier Brad Wall made the same safety claim—about large nuclear reactors.

Like Brad Wall a decade earlier, Premier Moe is also promoting nuclear energy as clean—a way for Saskatchewan to replace coal power stations and reduce its carbon emissions.

What is the truth of these and other claims being made for nuclear power?

  • Is nuclear power clean?
  • Is nuclear power safe?
  • Is nuclear energy economical?
  • Are there other energy options for Saskatchewan? Or is it time for Saskatchewan to go nuclear?

THE TRUTH ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER

NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT CLEAN.

Carbon Emissions

While nuclear power is cleaner than coal power, it is not free of carbon emissions. Vast amounts of fossil fuels are used to mine, mill, refine, enrich and transport uranium; and to process, transport, and store nuclear wastes.

Radiation

There is also nothing “clean” about the radiation that nuclear spreads: from uranium mine tailings, to reactor radiation, to radioactive wastes.

Nuclear Wastes

Nuclear reactors produce ever-accumulating radioactive wastes as spent fuel that has to be managed for millennia—essentially forever. No safe and secure system of storing nuclear wastes permanently has been created.

Remember back in 2010, when the federal government’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization was thinking that Northern Saskatchewan would be a good place to dump Ontario’s nuclear wastes? Thanks to the Committee For Future Generations and their 820 kilometre walk from Pinehouse to Regina it never happened.

NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT SAFE.

Since the first nuclear power reactors were constructed in 1954, there have been more than 100 serious accidents from the use of nuclear power. These include:

1979    Three Mile Island      US

1985    Chernobyl                  Russia

2011    Fukushima                 Japan 

Canada has had its share of nuclear accidents, nine in Ontario and one in Manitoba. The most recent was in 2011 in Pickering. 

NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT ECONOMICAL.

  • Even small modular reactors are expensive to build and maintain, especially given safety requirements.
  • No nuclear plant has ever been built without massive taxpayer subsidies.
  • Renewables are now cheaper than nuclear power.

WHAT IS NUCLEAR POWER GOOD FOR?

Why is the provincial government promoting nuclear power? The short answer to this question is to support Saskatchewan’s uranium industry. As Premier Moe put it: “We have the uranium.”

The opportunity to once again promote nuclear power arose from the federal government’s recent mandate that all coal-fired generators must be shut down by 2030, unless they have carbon capture sequestration technology.

  • 40% of Saskatchewan’s electricity comes from coal.
  • Three of the province’s generators are coal-fired.
  • Only one of these generators, Boundary Dam 3, has carbon capture and sequestration technology. 

WHAT IS SASKATCHEWAN’S URANIUM INDUSTRY GOOD FOR?

Nothing much is the answer to this question.

  • Located on traditional Dene, Cree, and Métis territories, the mines are part of Canada’s on-going colonization of Indigen-ous peoples. They operate at the expense of the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples in Northern Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan uranium is used by the US to develop its nuclear weaponry. Nuclear wastes from nuclear power generators are also used to produce nuclear weapons.
  • Uranium enjoys very low royalty rates in Saskatchewan.

Northern Saskatchewan is, today, Canada’s only producer of uranium, with Cameco dominating the landscape and accounting for about 20% of world uranium production. 

RENEWABLES ARE THE ANSWER

Saskatchewan carbon emissions are, per capita, the highest in Canada– 244% above the national average. Electricity generation accounts for 20% of Saskatchewan emissions.

As part of the struggle against catastrophic climate change, Saskatchewan must shut down its coal-fired generators. It also needs to eliminate all its natural gas generators.

Saskatchewan has an (over) abundance of sun and wind. Wind and sun power have a low carbon footprint. Let’s become a leader in solar and wind power generation!

TAKE ACTION

SAY ‘NO’ TO NUCLEAR POWER

Let Premier Scott Moe know you do not want nuclear power in Saskatchewan: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.

Send the same message to Minister of Energy and Resources, Bronwyn Eyre, and Minister of the Environment, Dustin Duncan:

Minister Eyre: minister.er@gov.sk.ca  or 306-787-0804

Minister Duncan: env.minister@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-0393

LEARN MORE ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER

BOOKS: Available at Regina Public Library

Canada’s Deadly Secret, by Jim Harding

From Hiroshima to Fukushima to You, by Dale Dewar & Florián Oelck

Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer, by Helen Caldicott

ONLINE SOURCES

Candyce Paul on uranium mining

Committee For Future Generations

Clean Green Saskatchewan; No Nuke News; Canadian Coalition

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JUSTICE FOR INDIGENOUS WOMEN

Posted by strattof on June 15, 2019

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its final report last week. It is a powerful and damning document.

Basing its findings on the testimonies of over 2,380 witnesses, as well as on extensive research, the commission concluded that Canada is guilty of genocide:

  • That the high rate of violence perpetrated against Indigenous girls and women and Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA) people “amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples”; and
  • That this genocide has been perpetuated historically and is maintained today by the Canadian state.

The report also provides 231 recommendations or Calls For Justice that tell us what we must do to end and redress this genocide.

The work of the commission is over. The work of Canada and Canadians is just beginning.

MMIWG: 8 KEY FACTS

  1. In 2014, the RCMP published a report documenting 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980 and 2012.
  2. Current estimates put the number at around 4,000.
  3. According to the MMIWG report, “There is no reliable estimate of the numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA persons in Canada,” the reason being that “prejudice, stereotypes, and inaccurate beliefs and attitudes…negatively influence police investigations, and therefore death and disappearances are investigated and treated differently from other cases” (1b, 234).
  4. Indigenous women and girls make up about 4% of the female population of Canada. According to the RCMP report, Indigenous women and girls accounted for 16% of all female homicides.
  5. The figure for Saskatchewan is much higher: 55% of the women and girls murdered in Saskatchewan were Indigenous. Saskatchewan has the highest rate of murdered Indigenous women and girls among the provinces.
  6. According to the MMIWG report, “Indigenous girls and women now make up almost 25% of female homicide victims” (1b, 55).
  7. “Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than other women in Canada and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women” (MMIW 1b, 55).
  8. The violence has not diminished over the course of the 2.5 years of the National Inquiry. Indigenous women and girls are still being killed in disproportionate numbers and many are still vanishing without a trace.

CANADIAN GENOCIDE

“The violence the National Inquiry heard amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people” (MMIWG 1a, 50).

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations includes:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calcula-ted to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

Canadian settler colonialism was and is genocidal. For example:

  • 1880s: John A. Macdonald’s deliberate starvation of Indigenous Peoples on the Plains of Canada
  • 1876 – Today: The racist and sexist Indian Act
  • 1880 – Today: The forced removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities
  • Ongoing: Coerced sterilization of Indigenous women
  • Ongoing: The link between resource extraction projects, man camps, and violence against Indigenous women and girls
  • Ongoing: The impact of resource extraction on First Nations communities: uranium, tar sands, and mercury contamination
  • Ongoing: The vast over-representation of Indigenous women and girls among female homicide victims

CALLS FOR JUSTICE

It is past time to end and redress this genocide. Here are three of the report’s 231 Calls For Justice. Please read all of them. They are, the report states, “legal imperatives—they are not optional.”

1.1: All levels of government, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, “to develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

9.5: Police services “to ensure that all cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are thoroughly investigated.”

15.1: All Canadians “to denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

TAKE ACTION

The lives, well-being, and safety of Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people are still very much at risk. We need to educate ourselves and each other. Then we need to take action. 

LEARN MORE

  • Attend A Conversation with the Commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Friday June 14, 8:30 – 10 am, CB 308, College Avenue Campus. Three of the Inquiry’s commissioners will share the insights and perspectives found in the report. 
  • Read the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It is available online. Start with the Supplementary Report on Genocide and the Calls For Justice.

2 ACTIONS TO GET US STARTED

CALL FOR JUSTICE 1.1: Call on the federal government to start working immediately (before the federal election) “to develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

CALL FOR JUSTICE 15.1: “Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

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INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END RACISM, MARCH 21

Posted by strattof on March 22, 2019

Last Friday, a white supremacist murdered 50 Muslims in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand during Friday prayers. 48 others were injured.

Today, we at Making Peace Vigil stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in Regina and throughout Canada and the world as we remember the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack—men, women, and children who were murdered as they worshipped.

As we know, Canada is not immune to such attacks. On January 29, 2017, a gunman opened fire in the Islamic Cultural Centre in Québec City, killing six men while they were praying.

It would seem that one act of terrorism inspires another. Along with neo-Nazi symbols, the New Zealand gunman had the names of other white supremacists etched on his weapons. Those names included that of the Québec City gunman.

Today, March 21, is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Expressions of solidarity are not enough. We must also actively struggle against anti-Muslim prejudice, also known as Islamophobia, as well as all other forms of white supremacy and hate.

ISLAMOPHOBIA  

DEFINITION

A closed-minded prejudice against or hatred of Muslims and Islam.

PROMOTING HATE & BIGOTRY

Acts of terrorism against Muslims, like the Québec City Mosque Massacre, do not come out of the blue. They occur in a climate of increasing hate. Nor is it just President Donald Trump’s hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric creeping across the border. Canada has produced plenty of its own Islamophobic rhetoric. For example:

2015   The Harper government’s Barbaric Cultural Practices Act passed into law, supported by the Liberals.

2015   Brad Wall identified Syrian refugees with terrorism.

2017   Rallies were held in cities across Canada, including Regina, at which speakers dehumanized Muslims and called for the defeat of a motion in the House of Commons condemning “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism.”

2018   Canadian Yellow Vests began to rally and spread their anti-immigrant, Islamophobic message. Some Canadian politicians, both federal and provincial, attended these rallies, thus facilitating the promotion of hatred and violence.

2019   Some Canadian politicians, in their initial response to the Christchurch attacks, chose not to use the words ‘Muslim’ or ‘mosque’ or ‘terrorism or ‘Islamophobia’ and hence did not clearly identify or condemn the underlying ideology.

2019   Canada’s Border Security Minister is talking to US officials about closing “a loophole” in Canada’s border agreement with the US so as to prevent asylum seekers entering Canada from the US from claiming refugee protection.

CONSEQUENCES

Islamophobia has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. 

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada increased by 151% in 2017, the last year for which figures are available.

We are one community and everything we say to try to tear people apart, demonize particular groups, set them against each other—that all has consequences even if we’re not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.” Waleed Aly, an Australian television host, March 15 2019

ANTISEMITISM

In 2017, the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes jumped 63%.

In the 1930s and 40s, Jewish people were the main target of Canadian anti-immigration rhetoric. “None is too many” became the policy of the Canadian government toward Jewish refugees during the Nazi era. Canada was thus complicit in the Holocaust.

The way Muslims are represented today, with dehumanizing stereotypes, is similar to the way Jewish people were represented in the 20th century.

Today, Antisemitism remains a pervasive problem in Canada.

ANTI-INDIGENOUS RACISM

From the beginning, Canadian colonialism has been a form of white supremacy: a political, economic, and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and resources.

Today, white supremacy continues its reign. For example:

  • First Nations reserves occupy only 0.2% of the Canadian land mass. 99.8% of Canada is reserved for settler Canadians.
  • Through the Indian Act, first passed in 1876, the Canadian state continues to claim the right to exercise 100% control over every aspect of the lives of Indigenous peoples.
  • As demonstrated by the acquittal of Gerald Stanley for the killing of Colten Boushie, there is a lack of justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST HATE & INTOLERANCE

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is calling for January 29, the anniversary of the Québec City Mosque Massacre, to be designated a National Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance.

To read the letter NCCM sent to the Canadian government in November 2018, google “NCCM national day.”

TAKE ACTION TO END RACISM

  1. Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you support the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in its call for January 29, the anniversary of the Québec City Mosque Massacre, to be designated a National Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  2. Call on all political leaders ●to stand up against hate; ●to call incidents such as the Christchurch and Québec City mosque killings what they are: terrorist acts carried out by white supremacists against Muslims; and ●to distance themselves from, as well as condemn, any groups or individuals that engage in anti-immigration rhetoric or hate speech of any kind.
  3. Call out Islamophobic statements and all other forms of hate speech whenever you encounter them.
  4. Visit the NCCM website and learn more about Islamophobia: nccm.ca 
  5. Learn more about Antisemitic hate crimes in North America. Google “briarpatch new Jewish left.”
  6. Learn more about Canadian colonialism by reading
  • The Reconciliation Manifesto, by Arthur Manuel
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act, by Bob Joseph

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2019

Posted by strattof on March 7, 2019

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911, International Women’s Day is an occasion for celebrating women’s social, economic, and political achievements.

Yet it’s 2019, and we still live in a world of gender inequality. Moreover, women frequently experience multiple forms of discrimination: race, class, ability/ disability, sexuality, and religion, as well as gender.

International Women’s Day is, therefore, also a time for reflecting on the action needed for making more progress toward realizing justice in the face of the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination women encounter. There are many challenges ahead.

GENDER INEQUALITY IN CANADA: 6 KEY FACTS

Equality between women and men is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and yet:

  1. Canadian women continue to experience wage discrimination. Those who work full-time earn 74 cents for every dollar earned by men, a figure that has barely budged in the last two decades. This is the case even though women’s educational attainment has now surpassed that of men.
  2. The pay gap for racialized women, trans women, and women with disabilities is even wider. For example, Indigenous women working full-time earn 67 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
  3. At the current rate of progress, Canada will not close the gender wage gap until 2240.
  4. 65% of minimum wage workers in Saskatchewan are women. The minimum wage in Saskatchewan is $11.06 per hour.
  5. Women constitute 50.4% of Canada’s population. They hold only 26% of the seats in the House of Commons.
  6. Canada ranks 16th in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 global gender gap index—well ahead of the US, but behind Iceland, Norway, Finland, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and 10 other countries.

MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

  • Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence of all the provinces.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, Regina saw a 7% increase in the rate of sexual assaults.
  • Women account for over half of all victims of violent crime in Canada, while they make up only about one quarter of all the offenders.
  • In 2018, a woman or girl was killed every 2.5 days in Canada.
  • Indigenous women make up only 4% of the Canadian population, yet they account for 24% of female homicide victims.

MISSING & MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN

“Indigenous women in Canada have historically been devalued not only as Indigenous people but also simply because they are women. It is important to acknowledge the impacts of colonization and recognize that they currently exist and affect Indigenous women and girls.” Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).

  • 2010: NWAC published its Sisters In Spirit report, documenting 514 missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls and calling for a national public inquiry.
  • 2014: Amnesty International published its report, Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and called for a national public inquiry.
  • 2014: The RCMP published a report documenting 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980 and 2012.
  • 2015: The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women released a damning report on the situation of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.
  • 2015: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for a national public inquiry into the “disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls.”
  • 2010 – 2015: The Harper government consistently refused demands to hold a public inquiry.
  • 2016: The Trudeau government launched an inquiry.
  • 2016 – 2019: The work of the inquiry was hindered by a narrow mandate, a tight budget, a too short timeline, and inadequate support for families.
  • 2019: The report of the inquiry is due in April.

In the meantime, Indigenous women and girls continue to experience violence, go missing, and be murdered, far more than other women and girls in Canada.

EVENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

SUNDAY MARCH 10, 1 – 3 pm: WOMEN & FEMININE SPACE, MACKENZIE ART GALLERY, 3475 ALBERT STREET: Celebrate connection, inspiration, support, & empowerment. Women only.

SUNDAY MARCH 10, 3:15 – 3:45 pm: CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ON THE ALBERT STREET BRIDGE: Everyone is welcome. If you have a red scarf, please wear it.

TUESDAY MARCH 12, 7 pm: WE DON’T NEED A VOICE, WE NEED MORE MICROPHONES, A PRE-SENTATION BY CONNIE WALKER, EDUCATION AUDITORIUM, U OF R: Connie Walker is an investigative reporter and host of the CBC podcast, Missing & Murdered. Her work on missing and murdered Indigenous women has won many awards. She is from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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5 MYTHS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

Posted by strattof on March 7, 2019

There are many myths about homelessness. “Homelessness is a choice” is one example. These myths do a lot of damage.

  • They influence government policy in such a way that little or nothing is done to end homelessness.
  • They influence how we as individuals think about people who are homeless.
  • They further contribute to the stigmatization of people who are already marginalized.

In Regina’s 2018 homelessness count, 286 people were identified as homeless. That’s 54 more people than were identified in the 2015 count—a 23% increase.

These figures do not include the hidden homeless: people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—groups that could double or even triple the number of homeless people in Regina.

We need to change the way we think about homelessness so we can end homelessness in our community.

NO ONE SHOULD BE HOMELESS IN REGINA—OR ANYWHERE!

MYTH # 1

HOMELESSNESS IS A CHOICE.

No one wants to be homeless when they grow up. Rather, homelessness is sometimes the only option in the face of circumstances such as: a job loss a rent increase a government cut to an income assistance program a relationship breakdown domestic violence.

What people who are homeless want and need is affordable housing. While apartments are currently available in Regina, for many people they are not affordable.

MYTH # 2

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE LAZY.

Being homeless is very hard work. Survival while homeless means:

  • Spending all day getting to food.
  • Searching out a safe place to sleep.
  • Navigating the maze of social service agencies.

This is not to mention the difficulty of finding public washrooms, making sanitation an issue homeless people face on a daily basis. There is also the challenge of arranging for a shower and change of clothes.

Homeless people manage all of these things while lugging their few possessions around with them.

Homelessness is not for the faint-of-heart—or the lazy!

MYTH # 3

G E T A J O B !

Many homeless people already have a job. But Saskatchewan’s minimum wage—a measly $11.06 per hour—is too low to cover rent. In Regina, a minimum wage worker would have to work 67 hours each week to afford a one-bedroom apartment—defining affordable as 30% of a person’s income.

Besides, it is hard to find a job while homeless. Obstacles include: Lack of a permanent address Lack of regular access to a computer or a phone Lack of regular access to a shower or clean clothes Transportation challenges.

MYTH # 4

IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!

How much would it cost to end homelessness in Canada? In 2017, the Trudeau government promised that, with $42 billion in spending, it would cut Canada’s homelessness in half by 2030.

Do the math. According to the Trudeau government figure, it would cost $84 billion to end homlessness in Canada by 2030.

It is estimated that 235,000 people are currently homeless in Canada. What kind of country would purposely condemn 117,500 of its citizens to homelessness?

How much does Canada spend on war? Right now, it’s about $25 billion annually. And the Liberals have promised to increase military spending to $32 billion annually by 2030.

We can well afford to end homelessness!

MYTH # 5

HOMELESSNESS WILL NEVER END.

Homelessness does end, one life at a time. The life expectancy of a person who is homeless in Canada is 39 years, about half the national average.

Public policy is the leading cause of homelessness. There are a number of policies governments (federal, provincial, and municipal) can adopt which, together, will end homelessness. These include providing

  • A Living Wage
  • Adequate Income Assistance Rates
  • Enough Affordable Housing
  • Enough Supportive Housing

If ending homelessness is a matter of political will, then it is our responsibility to ensure that our political leaders have that will.

Let your City Councillor, MLA, and MP know you do not want to live in a city, a province, or a country where even one person is homeless.

TOGETHER WE CAN END HOMELESSNESS!

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WE LOVE PEACE!

Posted by strattof on February 14, 2019

We love peace, but the Canadian government seems to prefer war. Since 2001, Canada has been endlessly at war!

AFGHANISTAN          October 2001—March 2014: 12+ years

LIBYA                          March 2011—October 2011: 7 months

IRAQ                           October 2014—ongoing

SYRIA                         March 2015—ongoing

UKRAINE                    September 2015—ongoing

LATVIA                       June 2017—ongoing

War is a disaster for everyone it touches! War is also very stupid!! When will Canada stop making war and start making peace in the world?

MAKING PEACE VIGIL WISHES YOU A VERY HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY & P E A C E I N 2019!

MORE WAR MAKING

  • 2017: Canada increased its war spending by 70% over the next 10 years.
  • 2017: Canada extended its military missions in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria until March 2019.
  • 2017: Canada was not one of the 122 countries that signed a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  • 2018: Canada extended its commitment to the NATO battle group in Latvia to 2023.
  • 2018: Canada sent troops to Iraq to head up a NATO training mission.
  • 2018: Canada exported between $2 and $3 billion worth of military equipment.

WHY IS CANADA NOT WORKING FOR PEACE?

Why, instead of working for peace, has Canada chosen an ongoing seemingly never-ending involvement in war? There are three main reasons:

  1. Canada’s dependence on the US for its foreign policy.
  2. Canada’s membership in the US-led military alliance NATO.
  3. Profits for the Canadian arms industry.

WAR IS A DISASTER

War is a disaster for everyone it touches.

  • Soldiers are killed, maimed, traumatized.
  • Civilians in the war zone pay a tremendous price: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, trauma.
  • Citizens of countries engaged in war elsewhere also pay a price: Dead or injured loved ones. Money that could have been spent on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.

WAR IS STUPID

You see children fighting. What do you do?

  1. Encourage them to keep on fighting.
  2. Break up the fight and ask them to work out their differences in a non-violent manner.

WE WANT PEACE

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?—Mahatma Gandhi

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.—Albert Einstein 

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their difference themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.—Harry Patch, World War I Veteran 

You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb the world to peace.—Michael Franti 

May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace. It is always a defeat for humanity.—Pope Francis 

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.—US Major General Smedley Butler 

Violence begets more violence, war begets further wars, more enemies, and more suffering. War does not work, not even for the warriors.—Ursula Franklin 

All we are saying is give peace a chance.—John Lennon

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS

  1. Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to stop making war and to start making peace in the world. This would mean:
  • Withdrawing from the military missions in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Latvia.
  • Signing the treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  • Getting out of NATO.
  • Getting out of the arms industry.
  • Developing a foreign policy independent of the US.

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

  1. Send the same message to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan: sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-3100.

ENTER THE PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk, a snowbank, a cake or cookies using icing.

Take a photo of your peace symbol and email it to makingpeace@sasktel.net You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize.

The deadline is August 31, 2019.

MAKING PEACE VIGIL

EVERY THURSDAY–until PEACE breaks out

From 12 noon to 12:30 pm

On Scarth Street at 11th Avenue

 EVERYONE IS WELCOME

For further information, please contact: makingpeace@sasktel.net

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/MPeaceVigil/

On the web: https://makingpeace.wordpress.com 

MAKING PEACE VIGIL February 14, 2019

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH A CARBON TAX?

Posted by strattof on February 8, 2019

In October 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that a carbon tax would be imposed on all provinces that do not have a carbon emissions pricing plan of their own. Those provinces are Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick.

The tax will be on emissions from fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. It will come into effect on April 1 2019.

The carbon tax plan has set off a firestorm of controversy. Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe has even launched a court challenge on whether a federal carbon tax is constitutional—a case that will be heard in Regina on February 13 and 14. (For details see the back page of this pamphlet.)

What is the truth about the carbon tax plan?

  • Is it a Liberal tax grab, as its opponents say?
  • Or is it, as Trudeau insists, the best way to fight climate change?

The answer: It is neither.

THE CARBON TAX: A TAX GRAB?

The carbon tax plan comes in two parts:

  1. THE TAX: The tax on emissions will start at $20 a tonne and increase by $10 a year until it reaches $50 a tonne in 2022.
  2. THE REBATE: To offset the cost of the carbon tax to those living in Saskatchewan and the other affected provinces, the Trudeau government has promised to return to residents 90% of the money it collects from the tax.

The rebate will vary depending on the province and household size. In Saskatchewan, a family of four will receive a rebate of $609 in 2019, while a single adult will receive $305.

Residents will start getting the rebate on their 2019 tax return where it will either be added to the refund payment or deducted from tax owing.

If the Trudeau government keeps its promise to return 90% of the carbon tax as a rebate, then the carbon tax is not a tax grab. (The remaining 10 per cent will be given to small and medium-sized businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations that can’t pass on their costs from the carbon tax directly to consumers.) 

THE CARBON TAX & CARBON EMISSIONS?

Is the carbon tax an effective means of reducing carbon emissions? The short answer to this question is ‘no.’

According to the UN, Canada’s carbon price would have to reach between $140 and $590 a tonne by 2030 for Canada to meet the commitments it made under the Paris Climate Agreement: to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This does not mean the carbon tax as it stands is totally useless. It will have some (small) effect on emissions, possibly accounting for up to 7% of the required 30% reduction.

So let’s keep the carbon tax. But, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, it must not be Canada’s main climate policy. We must also implement policies that will radically reduce emissions.

RADICALLY REDUCING EMISSIONS

Here are four climate policies the federal government could implement that would radically reduce carbon emissions:

  1. Stop all new tar sands pipelines, including Trans Mountain and Energy East.
  2. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels—estimated at $3.3 trillion a year.
  3. Start investing in renewable energy industries.
  4. Fund public transportation, both urban and inter-city options.

CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE

We have just 12 years left before catastrophic climate change. That is the grim warning issued last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate science body.

According to the IPCC, our burning of fossil fuels has already resulted in a 1°C increase in global temperature. We are already seeing the damaging consequences of global warming:

  • Deadly heatwaves ● Devastating droughts
  • Raging wildfires ● Record floods
  • Rising sea levels ● Extreme weather events

If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. This would mean

► A 45% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by 2030.

► Zero emissions by 2050.

CLIMATE CHANGE, by Kristen Bowen

 

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JUSTICE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Posted by strattof on February 1, 2019

Next week will mark the first anniversary of the verdict in the Gerald Stanley murder trial. On February 9, 2018, an all-white jury found Stanley not guilty in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.

On August 9, 2016, the car in which Boushie was travelling pulled into a farmyard near Biggar. Stanley, a 56-year-old white farmer, shot Boushie, at close range, in the back of the head. Boushie, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was 22-years-old when he was killed.

Stanley’s defence hinged on the argument that the bullet that killed Boushie was “a hang fire”—a delay between when the trigger was pulled and the shot fired. This argument was discredited by expert witnesses. The office of Saskatchewan’s Attorney General declined to appeal the not guilty verdict.

There was no justice for Colten Boushie in the Canadian justice system.

RACISM & INJUSTICE IN SASKATCHEWAN

The tragic death of Colten Boushie continues to shine a light on racism and injustice in our society. For example:

  • The arrest of Gerald Stanley ignited a firestorm of racism against Indigenous Peoples, much of it promoting even more violence against Indigenous Peoples. The RCMP laid no hate-speech charges against those who posted hate-speech online.
  • In 2017, the RCMP, in an internal investigation, cleared itself of any wrong-doing when its officers visited the home of Colten Boushie’s mother, immediately following his death, and behaved as if Boushie’s family members were the criminals.
  • In 2017, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for an expansion of self-defence laws to include property rights.
  • In 2018, the Saskatchewan government started arming rural conservation officers with semi-automatic carbine rifles.
  • In 2018, the Saskatchewan government introduced new trespassing laws “to reduce rural crime.” Much of the discussion of rural crime is thinly-veiled racism. The legislation sends a signal that vigilante justice against Indigenous people has government approval.
  • In February 2018, partly in response to the not guilty verdict in the Stanley trial, the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp was set up in front of the Legislative Building. From the moment the Camp was established, the provincial government wanted it gone, offering a number of flimsy reasons for its removal, including lawn maintenance and space for a Canada Day beer garden.
  • Premier Scott Moe refused to meet with members of the Camp to discuss the issues they were raising, saying he hasn’t “conversed with anyone directly that is running a protest…in front of the Legislature.” Funny, earlier this month, Premier Moe was more than happy to meet with the pro-pipeline protesters in front of the Legislature.

TODAY I GRIEVE FOR MY COUNTRY

by Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission–in response to the verdict in the Stanley murder trial

Today I grieve for my country.
I grieve for a family
that has seen only injustice
from the moment a farmer with a handgun
(why does a farmer need a handgun?)
killed their son.
I grieve for a mother
who saw the police raid her house
and treat her like a criminal
and not the victim she was.
I grieve for other mothers
with empty arms
who are reminded of their own loss
at the hands of others
and the lack of answers that haunt them still.
I grieve for the youth
who now see no hope,
and whose hunger for justice
gives rise to anger.
I grieve for the children
whose lives now have
one more jeopardy.
I grieve for the elders
who have seen this before.
And whose wisdom holds no means
to get through this evenly.
I may grieve for some time.
But then again…
we have been grieving a long time.
This is why
we can’t “just get over it and move on”.
My country won’t let me.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CANADIAN INJUSTICE 

INDIGENOUS FUTURISMS: APOCALYPTIC SURVIVAL WITH PRECEDENT

WHEN           FRIDAY FEBRUARY 8, 4 pm

WHERE         RESEARCH & INNOVATION 117, U OF R

WHAT           A LECTURE BY MÉTIS AUTHOR, CHERIE DIMALINE

Cherie Dimaline is the author of The Marrow Thieves, winner of a 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award. Set in a dystopian future, the novel features a group of Indigenous people who are being hunted for their bone marrow as a cure for what non-Indigenous people have lost.

Dimaline will discuss The Marrow Thieves, along with works by other Indigenous writers. Her focus will be on how Indigenous stories address dystopian potentials and speak to an uncertain future with authority born of recent and ongoing experience.

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SOLIDARITY WITH THE WET’SUWET’EN

Posted by strattof on January 24, 2019

Making Peace Vigil joins Mother Earth Justice Advocates in standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people in their struggle to protect their land and water, as well as Mother Earth herself, from environmental destruction and to save them for future generations.  

On January 7, RCMP officers, carrying assault rifles, descended on to unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC and arrested 14 peaceful Wet’suwet’en land defenders. The RCMP was enforcing a BC Supreme Court injunction ordering the removal of blockades the Wet’suwet’en had set up to stop the construction of a pipeline on their traditional territory.

The pipeline, Coastal GasLink, is owned by TransCanada. This pipeline is meant to carry fracked natural gas from northeastern BC, across Wet’suwet’en territory, to a LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline

  • Threatens Wet’suwet’en land and water.
  • Will be detrimental to the climate.
  • Violates the1997 Supreme Court ruling in the Delgamuukw case.
  • Violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, signed by Canada in 2016.

Nevertheless, both the BC government and the federal government support the pipeline. Is this what reconciliation looks like?

WHO CONTROLS THE LAND?

ELECTED VS HEREDITARY CHIEFS

  • Wet’suwet’en are represented by both elected and hereditary chiefs. The elected chief and council system was introduced in 1869 under the Indian Act, as part of a set of colonial policies aimed at undermining traditional governance systems that had lasted thousands of years.
  • Elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs have signed on to the pipeline.
  • However, Coastal GasLink has failed to get consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
  • Under Canadian law, Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs have authority over the reserves created by the Crown, while authority over the much larger area—22,000 square kilometres — that comprises the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory belongs to the hereditary chiefs.

DELGAMUUKW VS THE QUEEN

Most BC First Nations, including the Wet’suwet’en, have never signed Treaties or otherwise surrendered their land. The ground- breaking 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision confirmed

  • That Wet’suwet’en title to traditional Wet’suwet’en territory has never been extinguished; and
  • That title is based on hereditary governance systems.

Despite the Delgamuukw decision, the governments of BC and Canada claim agreements with elected chiefs and band councils constitute consent in the case of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (UNDRIP)

UNDRIP requires that governments must seek Indigenous communities’ “free, prior and informed consent” before approving resource development projects on their land.

  • One of Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2016 election promises was to implement UNDRIP.
  • The BC government has committed to implementing UNDRIP.

PM TRUDEAU & THE RULE OF LAW

Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that the arrest of Wet’suwet’en land protectors is “not an ideal situation,” but that “the rule of law” must be upheld. Whose “rule of law” is he talking about?

PIPELINE PROBLEMS

PIPELINE SPILLS

Pipelines are accidents waiting to happen. TransCanada, the owner of Coastal GasLink, claims its pipelines are safe. Its safety record tells a different story. For example, TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline has had three major spills since it began operating in 2010.

Pipeline spills contaminate land, water, and air. They also kill wildlife and sicken people.

FRACKED NATURAL GAS

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry fracked natural gas. The fracking process—the injection of water, chemicals, and sand underground at high pressure—depletes water sources and contaminates groundwater with methane and chemicals.

Although political and industry officials promote natural gas as a “clean, green” fuel, it is anything but. Indeed, fracking has a heavy carbon footprint.

  • The fracking process requires more energy than the conventional gas extraction process.
  • Fracking releases large amounts of natural gas—CO2 and methane—directly into the atmosphere.

CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

We have just 12 years left before climate catastrophe. This is the grim warning issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations’ leading body for climate change.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will lead to the expansion of the fracking industry. Fracking, along with the rest of the fossil fuel industry, is preventing Canada from reducing its carbon emissions and thus from doing its part to stop climate catastrophe.

A HUGE DEBT OF GRATITUDE

We are all in the debt of the Wet’suwet’en people who have taken up the struggle to protect the land, water, and climate from the dangers of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. THANK YOU!

STAND WITH THE WET’SUWET’EN

  1. RALLY IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE WET’SUWET’EN: JANUARY 31, 5 pm, ALBERT STREET BRIDGE

Let’s all join Mother Earth Justice Advocates (MEJA) and show our support for the Wet’suwet’en people in their struggle to protect their land and water, as well as Mother Earth herself.

  1. Sign the Sierra Club Petition: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wetsuweten-solidarity/ 
  2. Call a Minister for Leadnow: Google “leadnow call federal minister to support the Wet’suwet’en.”
  3. Take action using the Wet’suwet’en Strong Toolkit: http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit/

LEARN MORE ABOUT CANADIAN COLONIALISM

  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, by Bob Joseph
  • The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
  • The Reconciliation Manifesto, by Arthur Manuel

FOR MORE INFORMATION

MAKING PEACE VIGIL             

Email               makingpeace@sasktel.net

Facebook         www.facebook.com/MPeaceVigil/

On the web     https://makingpeace.wordpress.com

MOTHER EARTH JUSTICE ADVOCATES

Email               mejasask@gmail.com

Facebook         www.facebook.com/groups/158222590888992/

On the web     https://motherearthjusticeadvocates.wordpress.com/

 

 

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