Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

ROBIN HOOD, WHERE ARE YOU?

Posted by strattof on August 27, 2016

Robin Hood is known for robbing the rich to give to the poor. The Saskatchewan government is Robin Hood in reverse. It robs the poor to give to the rich.

Earlier this month, the Sask Party government announced cuts to Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities (SAID), “an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.” 2,700 people will see their already-meagre incomes reduced even further.

When the cuts come into effect, a single person on the SAID program living in Regina will receive a maximum of $721 for shelter, along with an allowance of $489 for such things as food, clothing, and laundry, making a total of $1,064. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $918.

Rather than cutting SAID, the Sask Party government could have raised taxes on the wealthier classes.

ROBIN HOOD, SASKATCHEWAN NEEDS YOU!

SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM: AKA MINISTER OF SOCIAL SERVICES

The claims made by the now former Minister of Social Services, Donna Harpauer, in defence of the SAID cuts are worthy of the main villain of the Robin Hood legend, the Sheriff of Nottingham, a mean-minded schemer and representative of the power elite.

EQUITY & FAIRNESS

These are the key terms used by Harpauer, by which she meant decreasing SAID benefits so they match those of programs with inferior benefits.

  • Rather than a race to the bottom, why not increase the benefits of all those on income support programs?
  • In the name of equity and fairness, why doesn’t Donna Harpauer try living on $1,064 a month?

ELIMINATING DUPLICATION

This has been another of Harpaurer’s frequent claims: that the cuts will “eliminate duplication.” Is “duplication” the right word when SAID recipients (people with disabilities) have only $1,064 a month to live on? “Meanness” seems more accurate.

AVAILABILITY OF RENTAL HOUSING

Harpauer was at least accurate in her claim that rental units are more available now than they were several years ago. What she didn’t say is that rents in Saskatchewan have doubled since 2006 and are still increasing. The average monthly rent for even a bachelor suite in Regina is $706.

The Sask Party’s solution to the province’s growing homelessness problem is to buy homeless people a one-way bus ticket to Vancouver. What we really need are more affordable (social) rental housing units!

ADVISORY GROUP ON POVERTY REDUCTION

Harpauer must have gotten desperate! Her ultimate defence of the SAID cuts was that they were recommended by the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction.

Read the Advisory Group’s report and see for yourself that Harpauer’s claim is UTTER NONSENSE!

OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR: CUTS TO OTHER SOCIAL PROGRAMS

SAID is not the only social and/or income support program being cut by the Sask Party government. For example:

SASKATCHEWAN EMPLOYMENT SUPPLEMENT

This program supplements the income of low income families with children, thus helping the working poor.

SENIORS’ DRUG PLAN

Low-income seniors now have to pay $25 for every prescription over $25, an increase of $5 per prescription. This is the Sask Party government’s second increase to the cost of prescriptions. When the plan was first introduced, the cost was $15 per prescription.

ABORIGINAL COURT WORKER PROGRAM

This program which helps Indigenous people navigate the colonial (in)justice system, has been cut by a third of its funding.

MINIMUM WAGE

On October 1, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will be raised from $10.50 to $10.72 per hour. This measly 22 cent increase won’t do much to help low-income earners’ frail standard of living. In the name of equity and fairness, Saskatchewan MLAs should try to live on the minimum wage.

WHAT WOULD ROBIN HOOD DO?

  1. Raise taxes on the rich.
  2. Increase income support payments so that everyone in the province has an income above the poverty line.
  3. Adopt a Living Wage policy. A living wage is the amount two working parents, with two children, each needs to earn in order to meet the family’s basic requirements and ensure it does not slip into poverty. Regina’s living wage is $16.46 an hour.
  4. Expand quality affordable housing.
  5. Implement a Saskatchewan Anti-Poverty Act which recognizes in enforceable legislation the right of everyone to an adequate income, adequate housing, and fair wages for a decent living.

TAKE ACTION

  • Sign the STOP CUTS TO SAID petition. We have copies with us.
  • Ask former Minister of Social Services Donna Harpaurer to try living on $1,064 a month in the name of equity and fairness: humboldtwatrousmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-3661.
  • Present Premier Brad Wall with the same challenge. Also let him know you want him to be more like Robin Hood: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Ask the newly appointed Minister of Social Services, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, to cancel the cuts to SAID and to increase support payments so that everyone in the province has an income above the poverty line: admin@ReginaUniversityMLA.ca or 306-787-7550.
  • Send the following statement to your MLA: “I challenge all elected members of the Legislature to vote to cut their own salaries in order to sufficiently fund the level of maintenance promised to persons with disabilities.”

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CANADIAN COLONIALISM: OUR HOME ON NATIVE LAND

Posted by strattof on August 23, 2016

Many Canadians—including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—believe Canada is not a colonial state. In Harper’s words, Canada “has no history of colonialism.” Or as Trudeau put it: Canada is “without some of the baggage that so many other Western countries have—either colonial pasts or perceptions of American imperialism.”

How, then, do we account for:

  • The 1876 Indian Act which enshrines white settler domination and supremacy and Indigenous subjugation?
  • The forced dispossession, displacement, and containment of Indigenous peoples under Canada’s reserve and pass systems—systems that made Indigenous lands available for European settlement?
  • The genocidal residential school system, for which Harper himself apologized?

COLONIALISM TODAY

White settler supremacy remains intact. In childcare, education, housing, health, employment, the justice system—indeed, almost everywhere in Canadian society—whiteness is an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage. For example:

CHILD POVERTY

Figures up to June 2016:

  • 51% of First Nations children live in poverty.
  • The rate rises to 60% for children who live on-reserve.
  • The numbers are even worse for Saskatchewan where 69% of on-reserve First Nations children live in poverty.
  • The poverty rate for non-Indigenous children is 13%.

July 2016:

The Trudeau government introduced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), a non-taxable payment which the government claims will help 90% of Canadian families. Here are the figures for a family of four:

HOUSEHOLD INCOME            CCB                 PREVIOUS PLAN        

$15,000                                   $11,800           $10, 175         

$45,000                                   $9,850             $5,900

$90,000                                   $5,875             $3,330

$140,000                                 $3,125             $2,050

$200,000                                 $0                    $1,959

Questions:

  1. How many First Nations families will the CCB pull out of poverty? To be eligible for the benefit, you have to have filled out an income tax return—which, according to government figures, means about 50% of on-reserve families could miss out on the benefit.
  2. Will an income of $26,800 pull a family of four out of poverty?

EDUCATION

  • A child who attends a First Nations school receives 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • Many on-reserve schools are in poor condition and present health concerns.

HOUSING

46     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are in poor condition.

23     Percent of off-reserve First Nations households living in Core Housing Need—that is housing that falls below the adequacy, affordability or suitability standards. The incidence of Core Housing Need for off-reserve First Nations households is almost double that of non-Indigenous households.

37     Percent of off-reserve First Nations households in Regina living in Core Housing Need—the highest incidence among Canadian municipalities.

WATER QUALITY

93     Percent of Saskatchewan First Nations that have had at least one Boil Water Advisory since 2004. 

HEALTH

39     TB incidence rate per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, as compared to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people in the province as a whole.

52     Community Well-Being Index for Saskatchewan First Nations: Scores can range from a low of 0 to a high of 100. Most non-First Nations Saskatchewan communities score in the 80s and 90s.

COLONIALISM NO MORE!

Prime Minister Trudeau says his government is going to reset Canada’s relationship with First Nations peoples. In his words: “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation.”

What would such a renewed relationship look like? Here are a few of the demands of Regina’s Colonialism No More Camp:

  • Revoke the Indian Act
  • Uphold the true spirit and intent of the Treaties
  • Uphold and respect the Treaty rights of urban, off-reserve Indigenous peoples.

COLONIALISM NO MORE TOWN HALL: Q & A WITH INAC 

WHEN:          SATURDAY AUGUST 20, 1 – 7 pm

WHERE:        ALBERT-SCOTT COMMUNITY CENTRE, 1264 ATHOL STREET

Are you concerned about the treatment of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan and Canada? Do you have questions for representatives from INAC (formerly “Indian Affairs”)? Do you want more information about what INAC does and what services are available to you?

On August 20th, INAC and Health Canada have agreed to participate in an open Question and Answer session at Albert-Scott Community Centre in North Central. It’s a Town Hall for the people!

Everyone who has questions or concerns and wants answers is invited to attend this family event! Food will be provided.

IN MEMORIAM

This flyer is being distributed in memory of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation, who, on August 9, was shot and killed in the Battlefords area when the car he was in pulled into a farm yard after having a flat tire. The owner of the property, Gerald Stanley, is charged with second-degree murder.

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REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA & NAGASAKI: 71 YEARS AFTER

Posted by strattof on August 4, 2016

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima, a city of 350.000. The bomb instantly killed a third of the population, most of them civilians. Three days later, it dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. It too killed tens of thousands of people. In both cities many more would be dead by the year’s end, as a result of injuries and radiation poisoning.  

On the 71st anniversary of these horrific events, we remember:

  • The victims of the 1945 bombings.
  • Those who have died or been injured in nuclear accidents.
  • Those who have died or been injured from working in the uranium industry.
  • Those whose lives, land, and resources have been impacted by uranium mining.

71 YEARS AFTER

71 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear war still looms over humanity. Indeed, it is at its highest since the Cold War.

The world’s nine nuclear powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—together possess some 16,000 nuclear weapons, 95% of which  belong to the US and Russia.

Now, the US is embarking on a “modernization” of its nuclear arsenal, a euphemism for the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Russia and China are following suit.

According to former US Secretary of Defence, William Perry, “the possibility of a nuclear calamity is higher today than it was during the Cold War.”

CANADA & NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Canada has never produced a nuclear bomb. However, Canada’s nuclear record is not innocent. Indeed, Canada has been very much involved in nuclear arms from the beginning. For example:

1945: Canada was the primary source for the uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The uranium came from Port Radium, NWT, and was refined at Port Hope, Ontario. 

1945 – 1969: Canada was the main supplier of uranium for the Cold War atomic arsenals of the US and Britain.

1970: Canada signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Officially Canada now exports uranium exclusively for the generation of electricity. However, much of that uranium, whether exported raw or as fuel in a nuclear reactor, ends up being used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. 

1974: India used a Canadian nuclear reactor, a gift from the Canadian government, to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb, setting off a nuclear arms race with Pakistan.

2016: Today, Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium, exporting it to the US, Europe, China, and India.

THE SASKATCHEWAN CONNECTION

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

What is the impact of Saskatchewan uranium mining on humanity on the communities in the mining area on national and provincial revenue?

IMPACT ON HUMANITY

Most of Saskatchewan uranium is exported to the US. This uranium is the initial source of much of the depleted uranium (DU) used by the US military for the production of DU weaponry. The demonstrated health effects of DU weaponry include cancer, immune system failing, kidney damage, and birth defects.

The US is also likely to use Saskatchewan uranium to develop its new generation of nuclear bombs, as is China.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the hand on the Doomsday Clock is now at three minutes to midnight, meaning that “the probability of global catastrophe is very high.” Nuclear weapons are foremost among the threats to the continued existence of humanity.

IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES IN THE MINING AREA

The uranium mining industry in Northern Saskatchewan is part of the on-going colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands in Canada. Located on traditional Dene, Cree, and Métis territories, the mines were established after minimal consultation and at the expense of traditional Indigenous land-based economies. No account was or is being taken of the effect of uranium mining on human health, wildlife, water, and land. While some jobs are on offer, most are at the lowest levels of employment. In the meantime, the uranium industry is making billions.

IMPACT ON NATIONAL & PROVINCIAL REVENUE

  • Uranium, a non-renewable resource, enjoys very low royalty rates in Saskatchewan.
  • In 1999, Cameco set up a subsidiary in Zug, Switzerland, a well-known tax-haven. Now, the Canada Revenue Agency has taken Cameco to court for tax avoidance of up to $2.1 billion. Saskatchewan’s portion of the tax bill would likely wipe out the 2016-2017 provincial deficit of $434 million.

TAKE ACTION FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

MAYORS FOR PEACE

Mayors for Peace is an initiative of the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It works for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

As of July 1 2016, 7,095 cities had joined the movement, including 105 cities in Canada—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

Regina’s Mayor has been invited to join, but has declined to reply.

PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

The peace symbol featured on the front of this pamphlet was designed for the nuclear disarmament movement. It is based on semaphore signals for the letters N and D, which, when put together, make the shape at the centre of the peace symbol.

Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; your garden using flowers or rocks; a cake 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.

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MAKING WAR: CANADA’S FOREIGN POLICY UNDER TRUDEAU

Posted by strattof on July 28, 2016

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that, under the Liberals, Canada would turn away from the Harper government’s legacy of war-making and instead work to bring peace to the world’s war-ravaged regions.

While Trudeau sounds less belligerent than his predecessor, his government is, sadly, not working for peace. Instead it is making more war. For example:

  • In March, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months and tripled the number of troops on the ground.
  • In April, the Trudeau government approved the $15 billion deal made by the Harper government to sell combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
  • Earlier this month, the Trudeau government committed to sending troops to Latvia as part of a new NATO force to deter “Russian aggression.”

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

IRAQ & SYRIA

EXPANSION OF WAR

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. Unfortunately, this (apparent) move towards peace is undermined by the government’s expansion of the scope, as well as the length, of Canada’s military mission in the region.

For example:

  • Ground troops: The Trudeau government first tripled the number of Canadian troops on the ground to a total of 600 and then increased the number again to 830. These are Canadian soldiers who train Iraqi soldiers to kill.
  • Military helicopters: The Trudeau government has sent three military helicopters to Iraq to support Canadian ground troops.
  • Deadly weapons: The Trudeau government is providing Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns and mortars.

FUTILITY OF WAR

Will western military operations in Iraq and Syria bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the so-called “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya
  • The emergence of Daesh, otherwise known as ISIS, in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq
  • Immense human suffering

POLAND & THE BALTIC STATES

Rather than working for peace, the Trudeau government continues to support NATO, an aggressive military alliance which perpetrates violence across the entire globe.

  • In June, Canada participated in a massive NATO military exercise in Poland and the Baltic states, all part of the former Soviet Union.
  • Earlier this month, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to an open-ended NATO military mission in Latvia, a state that shares a border with Russia.

UKRAINE

Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities between Ukraine and Russia, the Trudeau government is fanning the flames of war.

  • In March, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s support for Ukrainian armed forces for another year.
  • Also in March, the Trudeau government expanded the econ-omic sanctions placed on Russia by the Harper government.
  • Earlier this month, Prime Minister Trudeau signed a free-trade agreement, negotiated by the Harper government, that may allow Canada to export weapons to Ukraine.

NATO

What started the conflict and tension in Eastern Europe? According to most western leaders, it was precipitated by Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

It is not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

NATO PROVOCATION

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has been expanding eastward to Russia’s borders.

  • In 1999, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became NATO members.
  • In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania joined NATO.
  • NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.

ARMS DEALS

With the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Canada became the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East. The Trudeau government also continues to sell arms to China, as well as to the US, “the most warlike country on earth,” according to former president Jimmy Carter. Today, Canada is the sixth largest military exporter in the world, up from 10th place in 2014.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to stop making war in Iraq and Syria and Eastern Europe; to start making diplomatic peacemaking our top international priority; to get out of NATO; and to stop selling arms: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion:

Harjit.Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052

stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-5789.

  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; your garden using flowers or rocks; a cake 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.

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I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF…

Posted by strattof on July 23, 2016

This Saturday, July 23, is I Love Regina Day. First observed in 2002, I Love Regina Day is an occasion for celebrating our city and its achievements.

It is also a good time to think about the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

CITY COUNCIL ADOPTED A LIVING WAGE POLICY.

In May, City Council voted to delay until 2017 any decision on councilor Shawn Fraser’s motion that the city adopt a living wage policy for city employees. In the words of Mayor Michael Fougere, such a policy is “premature.”

A living wage is the amount two working parents, with two children, need each to earn to meet the family’s basic needs and ensure it does not slip into poverty. Regina’s living wage is calculated to be $16.46 per hour.

By contrast, Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is $10.50 per hour—a poverty level wage.

Many US cities and some Canadian cities, including Port Coquitlam and New Westminster, have adopted a living wage.

Regina should follow suit. After all, our city pays 700 city employees in senior positions $100,000 or more! (Mayor Fougere is a member of this six-figure salary club.) The living wage should also be extended to cover employees of firms contracting with the city and then to all workers in Regina and the province.

 I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

CITY COUNCIL ADOPTED THE BLUE DOT MOVEMENT’S DECLARATION OF CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT.

The Blue Dot refers to planet earth, as seen from outer space. The Movement is an initiative of the David Suzuki foundation.

When the Blue Dot motion calling on the City of Regina to respect citizens’ right to a healthy environment came before Regina City Council in January, Council voted to postpone making a decision.

What kind of city does not want its citizens to have a healthy environment? 125 other Canadian municipal governments have already passed the Blue Dot resolution.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

REGINA POLICE SERVICE BANNED CARDING.

Carding—also known as street checks—is the police practice of randomly stopping people for questioning when there is no valid reason for doing so.

Statistics show that so-called “random” stops always end up targeting racialized and marginalized people. Moreover, the information elicited gets entered into a police data base where it stays indefinitely and becomes the basis for further police harassment.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

THE CITY MADE A FIRM COMMITMENT TO ACT ON ALL THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CALLS TO ACTION THAT PERTAIN TO MUNICIPALITIES.

Kudos to the City of Regina for unanimously approving Mayor Fougere’s motion to begin acting on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

However, the Mayor’s directive to administration that it focus its attention on three areas—the Regina Indian Industrial School, the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion committee, and the inclusion of First Nations culture in the creative side of the city—seriously limits the effectiveness of the motion.

The TRC report contains a number of other calls to action that apply to municipalities. For example:

# 43: Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as the framework for reconciliation.

# 57: Provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools.

# 62: Make curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for K-12 students.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE

Join the I’d Love Regina More campaign. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know what they could do to make you love Regina more.

Mayor Michael Fougere       777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young        539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins          789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser          551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett         737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura          536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Wade Murray          596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce         949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell      545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Terry Hincks           949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10: Jerry Flegel           537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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CANADA: A MINING GIANT

Posted by strattof on July 7, 2016

Canada is a superpower in the global mining industry, with 75% of the world’s mining companies headquartered in Canada. Some of the mines owned by these companies are located in Canada, while others are in the Global South. Together, they contribute over $50 billion annually to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product.

A number of these mining companies have been irresponsible in their mining practices, leading to environmental degradation. Some have also been implicated in major human rights violations. Their practices include:

  • Developing mines without adequate consultation and in violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples
  • Doing irreparable environmental damage
  • Engaging in corrupt practices and intimidation tactics
  • Contributing directly or indirectly to violence
  • Plundering resources without adequate compensation

IRRESPONSIBLE MINING: TWO CANADIAN EXAMPLES

  1. HUDBAY 

FLIN FLON MANITOBA

For over 85 years, HudBay smelted copper in Flin Flon in what Mining Watch Canada describes as “one of the dirtiest facilities in Canada in terms of emissions.” When studies showed a high concentration of heavy metals in the soil and vegetables in the Flin Flon area and elevated levels of lead in the blood of children, HudBay claimed that health risks were “negligible.” As HudBay also said, everything it did was legal.

In 2010, after the federal government tightened environmental regulations, HudBay closed down the smelter. While residents of Flin Flon are no longer breathing in pollutants, they are still being exposed to toxins through dust, soil, and food grown locally.

MATHIAS COLUMB CREE NATION

Without the consent of the Mathias Columb Cree Nation, HudBay has been operating on their territory for almost a century, harvesting billions of tonnes of copper with no compensation and polluting the land and water. In 2014, when the community held protest rallies, HudBay filed a court injunction banning community members from anywhere HudBay has an interest and filing a $400 million lawsuit.

EL ESTOR, GUATEMALA

Indigenous Guatemalans are currently suing HudBay over human rights abuses:

  • The gang-rape of 11 women by mining company security personnel, police, and military personnel during the forced eviction from their homes and farms in 2007
  • The brutal murder of Adolfo Ich, a community leader and teacher who was hacked by machetes and shot by mining company security in 2009
  • The shooting and paralyzing of German Chub by mining company security in 2009

The case is currently before Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. It is the first time such a case has been heard in Canada.

BARRICK GOLD

Headquartered in Toronto, Barrick Gold is the world’s largest gold mining company, with mines on five continents. Like HudBay, Barrick has built up a legacy of environmental crimes, human rights violations, and abusive legal tactics. For example:

PORGERA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • Barrick’s Porgera mine dumps more than 16,000 tons of toxic waste into the Porgera River, every day. Indigenous peoples rely on the river for drinking water and bathing.
  • The mine has three vast dumps of waste rock that cover large tracts of land, reducing the amount of land available for farming.
  • Women and girls living near the mine have been brutally raped by Barrick security guards.
  • Over the past decade, these same guards have killed up to 14 men living in the area.

CANADA

  • In 2010, Barrick Gold threatened to sue the publisher and authors of Imperial Canada Inc. for “substantial damages” if publication of the book went ahead. The book examines “the harmful consequences of [Canada’s] ultra-permissive laws regarding the extractive industry.” The book was, after some delay, published.

CANADIAN IMPERIALISM

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Trudeau claimed that Canada is “without some of the baggage that so many other Western countries have — either colonial pasts or perceptions of American imperialism.”

In fact, when it comes to mining (as well as in a multitude of other ways), Canada has plenty of both kinds of baggage.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CANADIAN MINING COMPANIES

  • Watch Flin Flon Flim Flam, a movie about Hudbay, a mining company headquartered in Flin Flon, Manitoba, available on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7aacPtEI8s
  • Visit the website of Mining Watch Canada: http://miningwatch.ca/
  • Read Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries, by Alain Deneault and William Sacher, available at Regina Public Library

 

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CANADA DAY FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on June 30, 2016

ENDLESS WAR

  • For the last 14 Canada Days, Canada has been at war: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria.
  • In 2014, mere months after bringing the last soldiers home from Afghanistan, the Harper government committed Canada to military action in Iraq.
  • In April 2015, the Harper government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months, until March 2016, and expanded it into Syria.
  • In March 2016, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months, until March 2017, and budgeted it over a three-year period to 2019.
  • Now the Trudeau government is “actively considering” a request from NATO to supply troops to a new NATO force in Eastern Europe to deter “Russian aggression.”

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

IRAQ & SYRIA

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. But are the “sunny ways” of our new government really that much different from the Harper government’s blatant-war-mongering?

Sadly, the Trudeau government is not working for peace in Iraq and Syria. Instead, it is making more war.

Bombing mission: The Trudeau government has retained Canadian refueling and surveillance aircraft in the region to assist with the bombing campaign—“proxy bombing” as some have called it.

Ground troops: The Trudeau government first tripled the number of Canadian troops on the ground to a total of 600 and then increased the number again to 830. These are Canadian soldiers who train Iraqi soldiers to kill.

Military helicopters: The Trudeau government has sent three military helicopters to Iraq to support Canadian ground troops.

Deadly weapons: The Trudeau government is providing Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns and mortars.

FUTILITY OF WAR

Will western military operations in Iraq and Syria bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the so-called “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya
  • The emergence of Daesh, otherwise known as ISIS, in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq
  • Immense human suffering: Thousands of civilians have been killed. Many more have been injured. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Millions of people have become refugees.
  • Endless war in the Middle East region
  • Violence in western countries, including Canada—which should not surprise us: How many Muslim countries has Canada inflicted violence on recently? Maybe we should eliminate the incentive for people to want to kill us!

“War begets violence and hatred that only begets more violence and hatred.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE

Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada continues to beat the drums of war.

  • In 2015, Canada sent 200 soldiers to Ukraine to train its military forces fighting pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
  • In 2016, the Trudeau government reaffirmed “Canada’s contribution to support Ukrainian forces through military training and capacity-building in 2016–17.”

POLAND, ESTONIA, LITHUANIA, & LATVIA

  • Earlier this month, Canada participated in a massive NATO military exercise in Poland and the Baltic states.
  • Now Canada is being pressured to supply soldiers for a new NATO force in the region.

NATO

What started the conflict and tension in Eastern Europe? According to most western leaders, it was precipitated by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

It is not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

NATO PROVOCATION

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has been expanding eastward to Russia’s borders.

  • In 1999, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became NATO members.
  • In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania joined NATO.
  • NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.

The aim of NATO expansion is to intimidate and humiliate Russia.

NATO, A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

  • NATO has armed forces in all six inhabited continents.
  • NATO has at its disposal two million troops.
  • NATO states account for 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first- strike basis.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE ON CANADA DAY

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to stop making war in Iraq and Syria and Eastern Europe; to start making diplomatic peacemaking our top international priority; and to get out of NATO: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan: Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052.
  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: a sidewalk using chalk; your garden using flowers or rocks; a cake 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.

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COLONIALISM NO MORE SOLIDARITY CAMP

Posted by strattof on June 25, 2016

Perhaps you’ve seen it. For over two months, the Colonialism No More Solidarity Camp has been outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) offices at 1827 Albert Street.

The Solidarity Camp was set up on April 18, following INAC occupations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Gatineau, and Vancouver, in response to news of the youth suicide crisis in Attawapiskat. The camp is occupied day and night.

An autonomous group, the Regina Solidarity Camp calls for

  • An end to band-aid solutions to the state of perpetual crisis facing First Nations across Canada—including overcrowded and substandard housing; drinking water advisories;   underfunded education, child welfare, and healthcare programs; as well as youth suicide.
  • A commitment to face the real issue: COLONIALISM.

COLONIALISM NO MORE! SOLIDARITY CAMP STATEMENT

APRIL 19 2016

This camp was set up on Treaty Four territory in solidarity with the requests of Attawapiskat youth. They know what they need and they need to be listened to. This camp is an autonomous group of individuals who come together under one banner: COLONIALISM—NO MORE!

Attawapiskat is in crisis as are hundreds of other First Nations in Canada. Flying out to one community, and acting like that will solve the problem is wrong, and it is a showy distraction from the real problem: COLONIZATION. From broken Treaty promises to the latest election promises, Indigenous peoples are left waiting as the government works in crisis mode. Always working through Band-Aid logics, the government is always treating the symptoms and not the root cause. The root cause is:

  • 500+ years of colonialism.
  • Not listening to the communities and what they need.
  • Not recognizing the right to self-determination.
  • Not honouring the spirit and intent of the treaties.

We ask that you join us in resistance to ongoing colonialism.

COLONIAL AMNESIA

Many Canadians, including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, believe Canada is not, and has never been, a colonial state. In Harper’s words, Canada “has no history of colonialism.”

How, then, do we account for:

  • The 1876 Indian Act which enshrines white settler domination and supremacy and Indigenous subjugation?
  • The forced dispossession, displacement, and containment of Indigenous peoples under Canada’s reserve and pass systems—systems that made Indigenous lands available for European settlement?
  • The genocidal residential school system, for which Harper himself apologized?

COLONIALISM TODAY

Canadian colonialism is not only a historical fact. It is also a present reality.

  • White settler supremacy remains intact. In education, housing, employment, the justice system—indeed, almost everywhere in Canadian society—whiteness is an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage.
  • 51% of First Nations children live in poverty. The rate rises to 60% for children who live on-reserve. The numbers are even worse for Saskatchewan where 69% of on-reserve First Nations children live in poverty—compared with a non-Indigenous child poverty rate of 13%. (These figures are taken from a May 2016 report by CCPA: Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada.)
  • Canada’s dispossession of Indigenous peoples is ongoing, as the Canadian state continues to grant corporate access to Indigenous land and resources.

SOLIDARITY CAMP DEMANDS

The camp has a number of demands, including:

  1. That Regina’s INAC office provide data on conditions for Saskatchewan First Nations—drinking water, housing, health, education, child welfare—and that this data be made easily available to the public.
  2. That the federal government pay attention to Indigenous issues on the Prairies, rather than overlooking them, as is currently the practice.
  3. That the situation of Indigenous children in state care be addressed and remedied immediately, with the recognition that children need contact with their own communities and families, and that properly resourced communities have the ability to address and remedy these issues on their own.
  4. That the true spirit and intent of the Treaties be upheld.
  5. That the Treaty rights of urban, off-reserve Indigenous peoples be respected and upheld.
  6. That the Indian Act be revoked.

SUPPORT THE SOLIDARITY CAMP

Camp members are not planning on leaving anytime soon. They have already weathered freezing temperatures, scorching heat, driving rain, and gale force winds. They are prepared for the long-haul—until they get concrete action on more of their demands.

But they need our support. Here’s how we can help:

  • Drop by the camp and hang-out for a while.
  • Bring food to the camp. Fruit and snacks are always welcome.
  • If you would like to provide a meal, contact Shannon: colonialismnomore@gmail.com

Learn more about the camp. Visit the camp’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Colonialism-No-More-Solidarity

We need poverty to end. We need suicides to end. We need clean water. We need adequate housing. We need, finally, for there to be justice. And we need to do this together. This camp is modelling that.”—Su Deranger, camp member, from a video made at the camp’s May Day BBQ by Miranda Hanus

 

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NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY

Posted by strattof on June 19, 2016

Tuesday, June 21st, is NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY. First celebrated in 1996, it is a day for Canadians to recognize the cultures and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and their contributions to Canadian society.

National Aboriginal Day is also a good time to think about the dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism here in Saskatchewan and across Canada, as well as to remember all the Treaty promises that were made and have been broken.

WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE

All Canadians benefit from the treaties signed between First Nations and the Crown. Regina, for example, is situated on the traditional territory of the Nehiyawak (Cree), Anishanaabe (Saulteaux), Nakota (Assiniboine), Dakota, Lakota, and Métis Nations—an area referred to by many today as Treaty 4 territory.

  • Treaty 4 was negotiated on a nation-to nation basis by the Canadian government and the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations. It was signed by the Nehiyawak and Anishanaabe in 1874 and by the Nakota in 1877.
  • Under Treaty 4, the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations agreed to share the land and resources of what is current-day southern Saskatchewan with the new-comers.
  • In return, the Canadian government made long-term commitments in a number of areas, including child welfare, education, housing, health, and water.
  • Treaty Commissioner, Alexander Morris, promised the Treaty would last “as long as the sun shines and the water flows.”
  • For the past 141 years the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. By contrast, the Canadian government, to whom the Crown entrusted its treaty responsibilities, has failed to keep the Treaty promises. 

BROKEN PROMISES: CHILD WELFARE

Last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report called Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada. The figures are indeed shameful. They are also horrifying.

  • 51% of First Nations children live in poverty in Canada.
  • The poverty rate rises to 60% for children who live on-reserve.
  • The numbers are even worse for Saskatchewan, where 69% of on-reserve First Nations children live in poverty, the second highest on-reserve child poverty rate in Canada.
  • Saskatchewan also has the second highest rate of Indigenous child poverty off-reserve: 36%.
  • At the same time, Saskatchewan has the lowest non-Indigenous child poverty rate of any province: 13%.

BROKEN PROMISES: EDUCATION

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1884 – 1996

Under Treaty 4, the government promised “to maintain a school on the reserve allotted to each band, as soon as they settle on said reserve.” Instead, the government implemented the genocidal residential school system.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse. As is now well-known, many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. The mortality rate at many schools was high—caused by overcrowding, poor food and sanitation.

ON-RESERVE SCHOOLS 2016

  • Some First Nations still do not have schools.
  • A child who attends school on-reserve receives 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • Many on-reserve schools are in poor condition and present health concerns. 

BROKEN PROMISES: HOUSING, WATER, AND HEALTH*

46     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are in poor condition

36     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are crowded

21     Number of Boil Water Advisories on First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan

30     Percent of First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan that have Boil Water Advisories

15     Number of Boil Water Advisories on Saskatchewan First Nations that have been in place for more than a year

39     TB incidence rate per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, as compared to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people in the province as a whole

52     Community Well-Being Index for Saskatchewan First Nations: Scores can range from a low of 0 to a high of 100. Most non-First Nations Saskatchewan communities score in the 80s and 90s.

*Most of the above figures are taken from material provided by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Office, 1827 Albert Street

YOU ARE INVITED TO

A NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY COMING IN PARTY

6 – 9 pm, TUESDAY JUNE 21

COLONIALISM NO MORE! SOLIDARITY CAMP, 1827 ALBERT STREET

Decolonize Gender & Sexuality: A Coming-In Party (Because Tipis Don’t have Closets)

Free supper, provided by Spring Free From Racism

A dry event—no alcohol. All Ages/Family Friendly

Diversity of gender and sexuality were one of the many casualties of Canada’s colonial imposition on Indigenous peoples. Some Indigenous Nations acknowledged the existence of as many as five diverse genders. Despite overwhelming attempts to extinguish Indigenous and LGTBQ peoples worldwide we prevail!

Join us for healing, celebration, and rewelcoming of all genders and sexualities with our urban Indigenous community. No more genocide! No More Orlandos!

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ENLESS WAR

Posted by strattof on June 9, 2016

Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 to protest the bombing of the Spanish town Guernica during the Spanish civil war. Picasso’s most famous painting, it is about the horror of war.

Painted in black and white on a huge canvas (25’ X 11’), Guernica makes a powerful anti-war statement. Everywhere there are images of death, suffering, and devastation.

  • In the centre is a wounded horse, shrieking in pain.
  • At the bottom-left lies a mutilated dead soldier.
  • Centre-left is a wailing mother holding a dead baby. Centre-right is a man, trapped in a burning house, screaming in terror.
  • The bull above the grieving mother represents the militarized state, indifferent to the anguish and destruction it is causing.
  • The lightbulb-eye above the horse represents the technology that makes such things as aerial-bombing possible.
  • The oil lamp being thrust in the face of the lightbulb-eye by a determined-looking woman is the light of truth, illuminating the painting.

Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003, inflicting on Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria the kind of carnage and destruction depicted in Guernica.

MAKING WAR

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. But are the “sunny ways” of our new government really that much different from the Harper government’s blatant-war-mongering?

Sadly, the Trudeau government is not working for peace in Iraq and Syria. Instead, it is making more war.

  • Bombing mission: The Trudeau government has retained Canadian refueling and surveillance aircraft in the region to assist with the bombing campaign—proxy bombing as some have called it.
  • Training mission: The Trudeau government has tripled the number of Canadian troops on the ground. These are Canadian soldiers who train Iraqi soldiers to kill.
  • Deadly weapons: The Trudeau government is providing Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns and mortars.
  • Endless war: The Trudeau government has extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months, until March 2017, and budgeted it over a three-year period to 2019. Will this war ever end?   

FUTILITY OF WAR

Will western military operations in Iraq and Syria bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.
  • The emergence of Daesh, otherwise known as ISIS, in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
  • Immense human suffering: Thousands of civilians have been killed. Many more have been injured. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Millions of people have become refugees.
  • Endless war in the Middle East region.
  • More violence, more death, more suffering, more refugees.

REFUGEE CRISIS

Last week, at least 880 refugees drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Many of the victims were children. According to the United Nations, it was one of the deadliest weeks for refugees since the refugee crisis began in 2014.

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

You only run for the border

When you see the whole city running as well

….

You have to understand

That no one puts their children in a boat

Unless the water is safer than the land

From Home, by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Read all of this powerful poem: http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/

ENDING THE REFUGEE CRISIS

Why is there a refugee crisis? The majority of the refugees are fleeing wars and violence in their home countries—wars and violence that have been caused, directly or indirectly, by western foreign policy.

How to stem the tide of refugees? Here are three things Canada can do so people do not have to leave home:

  1. Make diplomatic peacemaking in Iraq and Syria a top priority.
  2. Get out of the arms trade.
  3. Get out of NATO.

BATTLE OF THE SOMME: A COMMEMORATION, HOSTED BY PEACEQUEST REGINA

TUESDAY JUNE 14, 7:30 pm, KNOX-MET, 2340 VICTORIA AVENUE 

Featuring U of R professors Ian Germani and William Stahl who will speak on the experience and consequences of the Battle

One hundred years ago the catastrophic Battle of the Somme began. When it was over four months later, 600,000 men were dead (including 24,000 Canadians) and a few acres of mud had changed hands. The Battle of the Somme became a symbol of the futility of war for years to come

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