Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

TIPIS & CHAINSAWS: ONE LEGAL, THE OTHER ILLEGAL?

Posted by strattof on July 19, 2018

According to the Sask Party government: 

  • The destruction of 109 trees to make way for a new Conexus head office in Wascana Park is perfectly legal and will continue.
  • The tipis at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp, in front of the Legislative Building, are illegal and must be removed.

Is the Sask Party government right?

  • What is the legal status of both Conexus and the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp in Wascana Park?
  • More importantly, where does each stand in relation to justice?

What do you think?

THE CONEXUS DEAL

THE LAW

Technically, Conexus is within the law in building its head office in Wascana Park, but that is only because all the parties involved engaged in some very crafty deal-making.

CONEXUS & THE UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

In June 2016, Conexus offered the University of Regina ‘up to $8.25 million’ for the U of R College Avenue campus Renewal Project, to be used to restore the old college buildings.

In return, Conexus got a 90-year lease on 2.6 acres of land in Wascana Park. It’s a very good deal for Conexus.

REGINA CITY COUNCIL

In August 2016, Regina City Council approved the Conexus deal, even though it violates the City’s Official Community Plan, which stipulates that major new office buildings must be built downtown.

WASCANA CENTRE AUTHORITY

In November 2016, Wascana Centre Authority approved the Conexus deal, even though it contradicts its own mandate.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

In June 2017, the provincial government cancelled the Wascana Centre Act and placed Wascana Park under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Capital Commission, thus giving control of Regina’s Wascana Park to the provincial government.

THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE

The public was left out of the decision-making process. The public forums that were held were mere window-dressing. Wascana Park is a public park, paid for by generations of Regina citizens. It must not be taken over by corporate interests without our consent.

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

THE LAW

The Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp is in violation of Provincial Capital Commission bylaws prohibiting overnight camping, the erection of structures, and wood burning.

However, these bylaws are superseded by rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression and of assembly, especially as these rights apply to non-violent protests taking place in a public space, such as a park. 

THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE

Canadians are rightly outraged by Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their families. But where is our outrage at Canada’s child-family separation policy? For well over a century, we have been separating Indigenous children from their families and we continue to do so today.

STOLEN CHILDREN

  • The Canadian state began stealing Indigenous children from their families and communities when it established the residential school system.
  • Next came the 60s Scoop, the abduction of Indigenous children by provincial child welfare services.
  • This disastrous policy of child abduction continues today. Today, there are more Indigenous children in state care in Saskatchewan than at the height of the residential school system.

Here’s what Pam Palmater has to say about the removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities: ‘It’s simple. Just stop taking our children. If their parents need help, give it to them. Leave the children with their families and in their communities.’

TAKE ACTION

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

  1. Visit the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp in front of the Legislative Building and learn more about the ongoing struggle of Indigenous peoples against Canadian colonialism and for justice.
  2. Follow the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on facebook: facebook.com/justiceforourstolenchildren/

 

  1. Add the following two books to your summer reading list:
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by Arthur  Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  • Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada, by Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker

NO BUSINESS IN WASCANA PARK

  1. Sign both the petitions opposing commercial development in Wascana Park. Google the following: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/SK_govt_No_Business_in_Wascana_Pk/ https://www.change.org/p/eric-dillon-keep-wascana-park-public
  2. Let Premier Scott Moe know you do not want any commercial development in Wascana Park: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306- 787-9433. 
  3. Register your disapproval with Conexus CEO, Eric Dillon: Dillon@conexus.ca
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THROWING SASKATCHEWAN UNDER THE BUS

Posted by strattof on July 19, 2018

  • MAY 31, 2017: The Sask Party government shut down the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), the province’s 71-year-old Crown Corporation, and began to sell off its assets.
  • JULY 9, 2018: Greyhound announced that, as of October 31, it is cancelling all its Prairie routes.

 When the Sask Party government axed STC, it said that private operators would replace STC services. This has not happened.

  • Of the 10 private companies that vied for STC routes, only two remain in operation today.
  • Of the 253 communities STC served, only 28 are being served by these private companies.

Since Greyhound announced it was closing its Prairie operations, some small companies have said they will take over the routes. If past experience is any indication, this is not likely to happen.

WHAT’S LEFT FOR BUS TRANSPORTATION IN SASKATCHEWAN?

WHO GOT STRANDED WHEN STC SHUT DOWN?

In 2015-16, STC carried 186,000 passengers. Here’s a shortlist of people who depended on STC and are now left without safe, reliable, and affordable transportation.

  1. PEOPLE WHO CAN’T AFFORD A CAR: 70% of STC riders were low-income.
  2. SENIORS: Many people give up driving as they get older. Seniors used STC to visit family and friends, to get to medical appointments, and to go shopping. 
  3. RURAL CANCER AND DIALYSIS PATIENTS: The number of rural residents missing medical appointments has increased over the last year. Some rural residents have been forced to move to the city to access medical services.
  4. PEOPLE WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS: STC buses were wheelchair accessible. The vehicles of the two private companies currently operating in Saskatchewan are not accessible. Now, people who use wheelchairs are, as a number of them have put it, “trapped in their communities.”
  5. INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS: The elimination of STC has put Indigenous women and girls particularly at risk. Hitch-hiking may be the only option for some locations. In BC, the absence of a northern bus service led to the Highway of Tears. An “urgent” recommendation of the 2017 report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was “more frequent and accessible transportation services.”
  6. POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS: Many post-secondary students used STC to get to Regina or Saskatoon for university and polytech classes.

4 MORE REASONS TO BRING BACK STC

  1. HIGHWAY SAFETY: Public transportation is 10 times safer than driving in Canada. STC had an excellent safety record and was known for the professionalism of its drivers.  
  2. THE ENVIRONMENT: STC was good for the environment. More cars on the highway mean more CO2 in the atmosphere. Saskatchewan has the highest per capita CO2 emission rate in Canada, three times the national average.
  • The Saskatchewan government should be investing more money in public transportation, not less.
  • We all should be using public transportation, rather than driving our private vehicles. 
  1. PUBLIC SERVICE: STC was an essential public service. Serving 253 communities in every corner of our vast province, it connected us: rural and urban, southern and northern, First Nations and settler communities.

Part of the government’s rationale for cancelling STC was that the company was not profitable, that it required a subsidy. All public services—healthcare, highways, education, city transit—are paid for outright or subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

Moreover, the STC subsidy was a bargain. In 2015-16, STC revenue covered 62% of its costs. By comparison, Regina Transit revenue only covered 28% of its costs.

  1. HUMAN RIGHT: Access to a bus is not a human right. However, equitable access to public infrastructure is. 

Saskatchewan’s 2018-19 budget allocates $924 million to spending on highways. Without STC, many people no longer have equitable access to this public infrastructure. In effect, the government is subsidizing private vehicle owners.

TAKE ACTION: BRING BACK STC

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Premier Scott Moe know that you want his government to bring back STC as a Crown Corporation providing transportation for all in our province: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to the Minister of Crown Investments, Joe Hargrave: pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-7339.
  • Send a message to Prime Minister Justice Trudeau: If his government can buy a pipeline, why can’t it buy a national bus service? trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.

SIGN 2 PETITIONS

  1. https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/buses-for-saskatchewan-replace-the-greyhound 

 

  1. https://www.saskndp.ca/bring_back_stc?recruiterid=150750&utm_campaign=ryan_greyhound_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=saskndp

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STC CAMPAIGN

 

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SASKATCHEWAN 2018: THE POOR GET POORER

Posted by strattof on June 23, 2018

On April 10, the Saskatchewan government announced it was taking the first step toward terminating the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement—a monthly payment that helps low-income families and persons with disabilities to pay their rent. As of July 1, the program will not be accepting any new applications.

On May 22, Saskatchewan MLAs gave themselves a 3.5% raise. They will now be making $96,183 a year. By comparison:

  • Without the rental supplement, a single person with a disability will get less than $16,000 a year on which to live—for rent, food, and other necessities.
  • That’s about $80,000 less than a Saskatchewan MLA.

According to the Sask Party government, the cut to the Rental Housing Supplement was necessary because of the province’s dire financial situation—a projected $365 million deficit in 2018.

Making poor people poorer is not the only way to balance the provincial budget. Here are three other options:

  1. Reduce MLA salaries to the average income of Saskatchewan residents = $53,000 a year.
  2. Increase the personal income tax rate for high income people.
  3. Raise the corporate tax rate.

THE ELIMINATION OF THE RENTAL HOUSING SUPPLEMENT

The rationale the Sask Party government offers for the elimination of the Rental Housing Supplement is that vacancy rates have risen and, hence, rents are now more affordable. In fact, rents have not declined enough to become affordable for low income people.

The elimination of the Rental Housing Supplement is especially hurtful in that it targets families with children and people with disabilities. It is a cruel cut that further weakens an already inadequate income security system.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • 13,000 people currently rely on the rental supplement.
  • The cut will take away 30% of rental allowance income.
  • Without the supplement, a single person with a disability will be left with only $459 for rent in Regina. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $935.
  • Without the supplement, a family with two children will be left with only $711 for rent in Regina. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Regina is $1,120.
  • According to the government, the termination of the Rental Housing Supplement will save the province $5 million annually. That $5 million will be taken out of low-income households.

IMPACT

  • Poor people in our province will become even poorer.
  • Many more people will have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries.
  • Many more people will be forced to move into undesirable and unhealthy housing.
  • Many more people will become homeless.
  • Health outcomes will deteriorate.

HARASSING POOR PEOPLE

It’s as if being poor were not already a full-time job! To add to the stress, Social Services requires recipients of the Rental Housing Supplement to

  • Report every month if they are employed.
  • Report every three months if they are not employed.

To report, recipients must call the Social Services Client Service Centre where they are frequently put on hold for lengthy wait times. Fail to report on time and you are cut off the program.

Is this the government’s underhanded way of eliminating the Rental Housing Supplement altogether?

POVERTY IN SASKATCHEWAN: 6 KEY FACTS

  1. 25% of children in Saskatchewan live in poverty. Only Manitoba and Nunavut have higher child poverty rates. The national average for child poverty is 17%.
  2. 50% of Indigenous children in Saskatchewan live in poverty, compared to 13% of non-Indigenous children.
  3. 30% of the children of new immigrants in Saskatchewan live in poverty.
  4. Between 2008 and 2016, food bank usage in Saskatchewan increased by 77%.
  5. The poverty line for a single-parent family with one child in Saskatchewan is $25,500 a year. The income of 50% of the people who live below that line is significantly below it: less than $12,300.
  6. More than 50,000 households in Saskatchewan experience core housing need, meaning that, by no choice of their own, they pay more than 30% of their income on shelter, live in housing requiring major repairs, or live in housing with too few bedrooms.

A CALL TO ACTION: KEEP THE RENTAL HOUSING SUPPLEMENT

The matter is urgent! In just over two weeks, the provincial government will take the first step toward terminating the Rental Housing Supplement.

End Poverty Regina has launched a campaign to get the government to abandon this short-sighted and unjust decision. Making Peace Vigil supports this important campaign.

You too can join this campaign by taking three easy steps:

  1. Call the office of Paul Merriman, Minister of Social Services: 306-787-3661.
  2. Give your name, telephone number, and reason for calling: To ask the government to continue to accept new applications for the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement.
  3. Leave the same message at the office of Premier Scott Moe: 306-787-9433. 

R I N G T H O S E P H O N E S! 

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NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY

Posted by strattof on June 23, 2018

Today, June 21, is National Indigenous Peoples Day. It is a good time to think about the ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism here in Saskatchewan and across Canada.

The photo above is of the tipi at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on the Legislative grounds in Wascana Park. As many of the camp’s visitors will attest, the camp provided a rich opportunity to learn about that ongoing legacy.

Last Friday, less than a week before National Indigenous Peoples Day, the provincial government, with the help of Regina Police Service, tore down the 108-day-old Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp, leaving only the tipi standing. On Monday, they removed the tipi.

Government officials say the camp eviction was necessary because of upcoming Canada Day celebrations, ridiculously citing “safety concerns.” What irony! And another missed opportunity for many of us to learn about the past and present injustices that define the relationship between settler Canadians and Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan.

WASCANA PARK: A DECOLONIZING TOUR

BUFFALO

Wascana Park is situated on Treaty 4 territory, the original lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota, and Lakota and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Wascana, now the name of the Park and the Lake, is a corruption of the Cree word Oscana, which, in rough translation, means “pile of bones”—a reference to a huge pile of buffalo bones in the area that is now Wascana Park in the mid-to-late 1800s. These bones were destined for shipment to Ontario to be made into fertilizer or to England to be used in the production of bone china.

In the 1700s, there were an estimated 60 million buffalo in North America. By the late 1800s, industrial-scale hunting by white hunters on both sides of the border had led to their near extinction.

The economy of Indigenous peoples of the Plains was based on the buffalo. Their decimation had a devastating effect. By the 1880s, Indigenous peoples were starving.

The stage was thus set for the next phase of the colonization project.

CLEARING THE PLAINS: 1878

Many settler Canadians were taught in school that European settlement of the Canadian West was very peaceful, unlike that of the American west. This is a myth.

Erased from this version of history is, among other things, the policy of deliberate starvation implemented by the government of John A. Macdonald in 1878: withholding food from Indigenous peoples living across the plains—including where Wascana Park is now located—until they moved onto the tiny reserves the government had carved out for them.

The goal of the starvation policy was to clear the plains of Indigenous peoples and thus to make way for the railroad and white settlement. In Macdonald’s words: “We are doing all we can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation.”

Thousands of Indigenous peoples died as a result of this policy.

Saskatchewan entered Confederation in 1905. Saskatchewan was founded on the genocide of Indigenous peoples.

CLEARING THE PLAINS: 2018

Today, 140 years later, we are still “clearing the plains” in Saskatchewan. For example:

THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

Indigenous peoples make up 16% of the population of Saskatche-wan. Yet they account for over 80% of prisoners in our prisons.

Indigenous peoples are not being locked up in ever-increasing numbers because of a crime spree. It is for other reasons:

  • Racial profiling by police
  • Discriminatory practices in the justice system
  • Systemic racism, past and present
  • The economic and social impacts of colonial policies, including the health gap set off by Macdonald’s starvation policy and the intergenerational trauma brought on by the genocidal residential school system, also established by John A. Macdonald.

Like the residential school system, Canada’s justice system is destroying Indigenous families and communities. Indeed, some are calling Canadian prisons Canada’s new residential school system.

CHILD WELFARE

The child welfare system is also part of the on-going genocide against Indigenous peoples, dismantling Indigenous families and communities. Today, there are more Indigenous children in state care in Saskatchewan than there were at the height of the residential school system.

RECURRING THEMES

There are a number of recurring and interconnected themes in Canada’s colonial past and present. Here are three of them:

1. INCARCERATION: a) The Pass System, which made reserves into prisons b) Residential schools, prisons for Indigenous children c) The overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan prisons today

2. CHILD ABDUCTION: ●The residential school system The 60s Scoop Today’s child welfare system

3. CLEARING THE PLAINS: ►Of buffalo Of Indigenous peoples, initially by starvation, then by other government policies. The recent eviction from Wascana Park of the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp

WORKING TO DECOLONIZE

Those of us who are settler Canadians have a lot of decolonizing work to do. Our minds, our hearts, our communities, our culture, our history, our laws, our institutions: they all need to be decolonized. We must also learn how to be the best possible allies to Indigenous peoples in their ongoing struggle against Canadian colonialism and for justice.

Here is a list of some books and movies that might help us in these undertakings.

BOOKS (Available at Regina Public Library)

  • The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
  • Children of the Broken Treaty, by Charlie Angus
  • Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  • Clearing the Plains, by James Daschuk
  • Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

FILMS/VIDEOS (Available at Regina Public Library or online)

  • Indian Horse, based on a novel by Richard Wagamese
  • The Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire
  • Our People Will Be Healed, by Alanis Obamsawin
  • Birth of a Family, by Tasha Hubbard
  • Where the Spirit Lives, with music by Buffy Sainte-Marie

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PEACEKEEPING: IS THIS WHAT CANADA SHOULD BE DOING?

Posted by strattof on April 1, 2018

Many Canadians consider peacekeeping part of Canadian identity. This association of Canada with peacekeeping began in the 1950s when Lester B. Pearson, who later became Prime Minister, suggested to the UN that it establish a peacekeeping force. In 1957, Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for proposing the idea.

Over the next 40 years, Canada participated in more UN peace-keeping missions than any other country. In the early 2000s, however, Canada began to direct its participation to US- and NATO-led missions, as, for example, in Afghanistan and Libya.

Now, the Trudeau government wants to renew Canada’s commitment to peacekeeping.

  • Last week it announced that Canada will be sending troops and military helicopters to the West African country of Mali, to take part in the UN peacekeeping mission there.
  • The government also confirmed plans to send military transport aircraft to Entebbe, Uganda, to support UN operations in the region.

Given this reengagement with peacekeeping, now might be a good time to consider questions such as the following:

  • What exactly is “UN peacekeeping”?
  • How is it related to peacemaking?
  • What is its relationship to war-making?

PEACEKEEPING = WAR-MAKING

The concept of peacekeeping, even going back to the 1950s, when Lester Pearson first proposed the idea, has been problematic. It seems to be a clear instance of Orwellian doublethink: “War is peace.”

  • UN peacekeeping is carried out by military personnel—that is soldiers who have been trained to kill.
  • These soldiers have at their disposal all kinds of military hardware, including machine guns and armoured vehicles.
  • The UN peacekeeping principle of “Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate” leaves plenty of room for the use of force.

In Orwell’s 1984, doublethink—the act of “holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them” as correct—is a tool used by the ruling elite to control the minds of citizens. Even though Oceania is endlessly at war, citizens believe their country is working for peace.

ENDLESS WAR

Canada has been endlessly at war since 2001: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria. While the Trudeau government sounds less belligerent than its predecessor, it is, sadly, making as much, if not more war. For example:

  • The Trudeau government has twice extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria, most recently until March 31, 2019.
  • It has also sent troops to Latvia as part of a NATO force to deter “Russian aggression.”
  • It approved a $15 billion deal to sell combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
  • In 2017, it increased Canada’s military spending by 70% over the next decade.
  • It voted against a UN plan to ban nuclear weapons.

ENDLESS WAR: WHO BENEFITS?

  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms manufacturers, making them between $2 and 3 billion a year in military exports.
  • Who loses? Ordinary citizens everywhere.

PEACEMAKING

Peacemaking means working to prevent or to stop war through non-violent means. It also means working to make war obsolete. It requires what the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace calls “a transformation of values…from violence and warfighting to nonviolence and peace.”

What would a peacemaking Canada look like? A peacemaking Canada would:

  • Make the diplomatic resolution of conflicts its top international priority—rather than rushing off to war under US- or NATO-led missions or in UN military interventions, otherwise known as “peacekeeping missions.”
  • Stop supporting the manufacture and export of weapons—such as the combat vehicles sold to Saudi Arabia.
  • Get out of NATO—a US-led, aggressive military alliance, that perpetuates violence across the globe.
  • Work for the elimination of nuclear weapons—weapons whose existence make nuclear war all too likely.
  • Replace the Ministry of Defence with a Ministry of Peace—a ministry that would specialize in preventative diplomacy, non-violent conflict resolution, and peace research.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE 

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ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on March 8, 2018

Each year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the hands of its Doomsday Clock to show how close humanity is to annihilating itself.

Each second closer to midnight brings us nearer to destroying ourselves with our own technologies. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons.

On January 25, 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced it had moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, 30 seconds closer than it was in 2017 and the closest to catastrophe since the height of the Cold War.

2018 marks the 73rd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs instantly killed at least 140,000 people, mainly civilians. The death toll continued to rise significantly in the following years and survivors are still today suffering from the effects of radiation.

73 years after those horrific events, the threat of nuclear weapons still hangs heavily over humanity.

THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION

Today’s nuclear weapons are many times stronger than those the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. B83, the most powerful nuclear weapon currently in the US arsenal, is 75 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The US has 650 B83s.

NUCLEAR STATES

  • Today, nine nations possess nuclear weapons: Russia, the US, France, China, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Together these states have some 15,000 nuclear warheads. Moreover, all are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.
  • Here’s a breakdown by country of the total nuclear stockpile:

Russia        7,000               Pakistan           120

US             6,800               India                100

France       300                  Israel               80

China         250                  North Korea    Fewer than 10

Britain       215

NUCLEAR THREATS

The threat of nuclear disaster is particularly high at the moment. These are the reasons:

  • NATO’s insistence on the right to a nuclear first strike
  • Tension between the US and Russia
  • Tension between the US and North Korea
  • The unpredictability of US President Donald Trump
  • India-Pakistan tensions
  • A nuclear accident—an accident waiting to happen

This is a dangerous time, but the danger is of our own making. Humankind has invented the implements of apocalypse; so can it invent the methods of controlling and eventually eliminting them.—Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

BANNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

NUCLEAR WEAPON BAN TREATY

In 2017, 122 countries voted at the UN to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Recognizing the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences” of their use, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, and possession of nuclear weapons.

2017 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Here’s more good news: The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a civil society coalition that has been advocating for a strong and effective nuclear weapons ban since 2007.

THE BAD NEWS

Canada did not sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons. Nor did any of the nine nuclear-armed states.

Why did Canada not sign? Canada is a member of NATO. NATO reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis. The US instructed all NATO members to reject the treaty.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Here’s an excerpt from the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, delivered on behalf of ICAN by Beatrice Fihn and Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, on December 10, 2017. To listen to the whole speech, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1daV8n6fTY

The story of nuclear weapons will have an ending, and it is up to us what that ending will be. Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us? One of these things will happen….  

To all citizens of the world: Stand with us and demand your government side with humanity and sign this treaty. We will not rest until all States have joined.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to sign the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty: trudeau@parl.gc.ca
  • Send the same message to your MP:

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca

LEARN MORE ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Books

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, by Daniel Ellsberg (2017)

Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, by Jim Harding (2007)

Film

Dr. StrangeloveOr How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, by Stanley Kubrick

ENTER THE 2018 PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; a piece of clothing; a cake or cookies using icing.
  • Take a photo of your peace symbol.
  • Email the photo to makingpeace@sasktel.net

You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize. The deadline is midnight August 31, 2018.

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CITY OF REGINA 2018 BUDGET

Posted by strattof on March 8, 2018

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

In the 2016 municipal election, Mayor Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness. In his words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.

On February 27, 2018, City Council passed its 2nd budget since that election.  For the 2nd year in a row, there is no money for Housing First, the Mayor’s preferred solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis, and little if any money (“up to $2.5 million in capital grants”) for affordable rental housing. WE WANT CHANGE!

HOMELESS IN REGINA

  • The average monthly rent for one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $935, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,899.73 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordable housing” is housing that costs a household 30% or less of its income.
  • Since 2016, the names on the Regina Registry of Homeless People has more than doubled, growing from 240 to 539 names.
  • This figure does not include Regina’s hidden homeless—people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—numbers that would double or even triple the homeless figure.
  • Regina’s shelters are filled to capacity.
  • Homelessness is too often a death sentence. According to new statistics released by the coroner’s office, at least 146 people died due to exposure in Saskatchewan over the past decade.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

  • A vastly disproportionate number of homeless people in Regina are Indigenous, 75% according to a 2015 study.
  • This might be a good time to remember that Regina is located on Treaty 4 territory.
  • There will be no reconciliation until there is justice!

YET ANOTHER PLAN

Instead of taking concrete action to end homelessness, Mayor Fougere has put his considerable weight behind the development of yet another plan to end homelessness in Regina. There has already been an overabundance of such plans: the 2007 Regina Community Plan on Homelessness the 2013 Regina Comprehensive Housing Strategy the Mayor’s two Housing Summits the Mayor’s Housing Commission. Did nothing come out of these?

$60,000 of City of Regina taxpayers’ money has already been spent on this new plan—to hire consultants. This money could have been used to house homeless people.

The plan won’t be released until September. In the meantime, more and more Regina residents are experiencing the misery and suffering and injustice of homelessness!

2018 REGINA BUDGET

REGINA POLICE SERVICE A BUDGET PRIORITY

The same City of Regina budget that provides little or no money for ending homelessness has allocated oodles of money to Regina Police Service (RPS).

  • $88 million for operating expenses: That’s $3.4 million more than the 2017 budget and 20% of the City’s operating budget, the most of any budget item.
  • $375,000 for the purchase of a tank
  • $12 million in 2018 for the purchase of the former STC depot

Why would we do this, especially at a time when a growing number of Regina residents have no roof over their heads?

“PUBLIC SAFETY”

According to the RPS website, “ensuring public safety is the primary goal of the RPS.” It would seem that, from the perspective of City officials, “public” does not include homeless people. Being homeless is inherently unsafe. Indeed, homelessness kills!

Moreover, as RPS Chief Evan Bray has often stated, reducing homelessness is an effective crime reduction strategy.

ENDING HOMELESS

There needs to be a shift in budget priorities. Here are two modest proposals:

  1. Invest the $175,000 for the tank in Regina’s Housing First program.
  2. Begin to defund the RPS. We keep handing the police ever increasing amounts of money and nothing changes. Let’s reduce, rather than increase, the RPS operating budget by $3.4 million this year and do so annually for the foreseeable future.

The money saved can also be put into Regina’s Housing First program until Regina reaches a state of functional zero homelessness—Mayor Fougere’s goal in ending Homelessness in Regina.

 

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JUSTICE FOR COLTEN

Posted by strattof on February 17, 2018

This pamphlet is in memory of Colten Boushie, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation, who was killed on August 9, 2016, by a gunshot to the back of his head from a handgun held by Gerald Stanley. Colten was 22 years old. Our thoughts are with his family.

The “not guilty” verdict reached last weekend in the Stanley murder trial shocked many of us. It should not have! If we are paying even the slightest bit of attention, we would know by now that there is no justice for Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan or Canada—a province and a country founded on racism which, 150 years later, remains entrenched in our society.

How is it possible to move forward? Perhaps the verdict in this trial will be the spark that will ignite meaningful change when it comes to justice for Indigenous peoples. But we must work at it!

INDIGENOUS LIVES MATTER!

THERE WILL BE NO RECONCILIATION UNTIL THERE IS JUSTICE.

RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN

The tragic death of Colten Boushie shines a light on racism in our judicial system and society.

PRESUMED GUILTY

When the RCMP went to Red Pheasant Cree Nation to inform Colten’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, of his death, officers behaved as if Colten’s family members were criminals: ●RCMP vehicles surrounded the family trailer. ●Officers then searched the surrounding area and the home, rummaging through the family possessions. Some of the officers had their guns drawn. ●An officer ordered a grieving Baptiste to “get it together.” ●He also asked Baptiste if she had been drinking.

MORE RACISM

  • The RCMP’s first media release linked the news of Colten’s death to a recent surge in thefts in the area—providing, as FISN Chief Bobby Cameron put it, “just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified.”
  • In the days following Colten’s death, a flood of racist hate-filled comments appeared on social media, many of them promoting violence against Indigenous peoples.
  • In March 2017, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities voted 93% in favour of lobbying the federal government for more relaxed self-defence laws.

 PRESUMED INNOCENT

  • The RCMP has laid no hate-speech charges against those who posted hate-speech online following Colten’s death.
  • In an internal investigation, the RCMP cleared itself of any wrong-doing when its officers visited Colten’s home immediately following his death.

AN ALL WHITE JURY

It was an all-white jury that found Gerald Stanley not guilty. How did this happen? Indigenous peoples make up over 25% of the Battlefords’ population.

During the selection of jurors, the defence challenged any potential juror who looked Indigenous. Our legal system allows the use of racist challenges to eliminate jurors.

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.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE CITY OF REGINA

Posted by strattof on December 28, 2017

In four days’ time, it will be 2018. A new year is a time for new beginnings.  

Let’s reflect on the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

MAYOR FOUGERE: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION 

End homelessness in Regina.

In the 2016 municipal election, Mayor Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness. In his words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.” These are encouraging words.

The Mayor’s preferred solution to Regina’s homeleness crisis is Housing First, a program that finds permanent housing for people experienceing homelessness and offers them support. The trouble is the Mayor refuses to put any money into Housing First.

Currently, Regina’s Housing First program only receives federal funding—a mere $1,200,000 million annually. As a result, the program has only managed to house 53 people. Meanwhile, the list of homeless people keeps growing.

In August, Mayor Fougere brought a motion before City Council to develop a plan to end homelessness. There has already been an overabundance of such plans: ●the 2007 Regina Community Plan on Homelessness ●the 2013 Regina Comprehensive Housing Strategy ●the Mayor’s two Housing Summits ●the Mayor’s Housing Commission. Did nothing come out of these?

Now is the time for action, not more planning!

Here’s a motion on ending homelessness Mayor Fougere could make at the first 2018 meeting of City Council: that the City of Regina commit to allocating $1,250,000 annually to the Housing First program until there are no more homeless people in Regina.

$1,250,000 is not an arbitrary figure. It is the total of the amounts City Council recently awarded to sports facilitites: $1.2 million to the Brandt Centre to support hosting the 2018 Memorial Cup; $50,000 to the Saskatchewan Volleyball Association to support hosting the 2019 Volleyball Canada National Championships.

Even in hard times, there does always seem to be money for sports facilities. Let’s demonstrate the same concern for eliminat-ing the suffering and misery that is homelessness in Regina!

Let Mayor Fougere know there have been more than enough plans to end homelessness in Regina and you want the City to take concrete action: mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339.

BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

 Start defunding Regina Police Service.

In 2017, the operational expenses of Regina Police Service (RPS) saw a 7.2% increase over the 2016 level and the RPS budget consumed a whopping 17.7% of the city’s operating budget. How much of the City’s 2018 budget will the RPS consume?

Police spending keeps increasing, yet nothing changes. Money needs to be taken out of the RPS and invested in reducing the social causes of crime.

Ask Board of Police Commissioners chair, Mayor Fougere, to begin defunding the RPS. How about reducing its budget by 7.2%  for a few years. The money saved can be put into Regina’s Housing First program. As studies show, reducing homelessness is an effective crime reduction strategy. Such an investment would also help Mayor Fougere keep his election promise to end homelessness: mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339.

REGINA PUBLIC LIBRARY: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Encourage all Regina citizens to use the library.

Central Library has removed the benches that used to be on the Lorne Street side of the Library to the 12th Avenue side, where nobody wants to sit on them. Central Library also seems to have implemented a new policy of banning people from congregating in the Library lobby.

These changes suggest that the Library wants to discourage people who fall into one or more of the following categories from being in the vicinity of the Library: poor/Indigenous/youth.

Tell Regina Public Library Director, Jeff Barber, you want the Library ●to return the benches to their original location on Lorne Street and ●to stop banning people from congregating in the Central Library lobby.

Also ask Mr. Barber to wave Library fines as a New Year’s gesture of goodwill. Many Library patrons cannot afford to buy books or subscribe to Netflix: jbarber@reginalibrary.ca or 306-777-6099.

REGINA BOARD OF EDUCATION: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Rename Davin School

Davin School was named after Nicholas Flood Davin, the author of the 1879 Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds. In this report, Davin urged the government of John A. Macdonald to establish residential schools in Canada.

The 2015 Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission highlights the role Davin played in implementing the residential school system—a system it labels “cultural genocide.”

Tell Regina Board of Education chair, Katherine Gagner, that we cannot continue to have a school named after the man who laid the groundwork for the genocidal residential school system: katherine.gagne@rbe.sk.ca or 306.585.6601

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RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN

Posted by strattof on December 6, 2017

Kudos to the Roughriders for locking arms during the playing of O Canada at several games in Mosaic Stadium They did the right thing in showing their solidarity with NFL players and their protest against racism.

Protests cross borders. Racism too is a cross-border phenomenon. There is plenty of racial injustice in Canada to speak out against.

In Saskatchewan, anti-Indigenous racism is especially prevalent, embedded in every aspect of life in our province: justicechild welfare education income employment elected representation. It even affects life expectancy.

A first step in combatting racism is to recognize and acknowledge its existence. Only then can we take the next step: standing up against racism both as individuals and as a society.

THE COLTEN BOUSHIE CASE

Colten Boushie, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was 22-years-old when, on August 9, 2016, the car in which he and four friends were travelling had a flat tire and they pulled into a farmyard near Biggar. Colten was shot and killed.

The property owner, Gerald Stanley, has been charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded “not guilty.”

The case shines a light on racism in Saskatchewan.

PRESUMED GUILTY

When the RCMP went to Red Pheasant Cree Nation to inform Colten’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, of his death, officers behaved as if Colten’s family members were criminals.

  • RCMP vehicles surrounded the family trailer.
  • Officers then searched the surrounding area and the home, rummaging through the family possessions. Some of the officers had their guns drawn.
  • An officer ordered a grieving Baptiste to “get it together.”
  • He also asked Baptiste if she had been drinking.

MORE RACISM

  • The RCMP’s first media release linked the news of Colten’s death to a recent surge in thefts in the area—providing, as FISN Chief Bobby Cameron put it, “just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified.”
  • In the days following Colten’s death, a flood of racist comments appeared on social media, many of them promoting violence against Indigenous people.
  • In January 2017, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities voted 93% in favour of an expansion of property owners’ rights to defend their property.   

PRESUMED INNOCENT

  • The RCMP has laid no hate-speech charges against those who posted hate-speech online following Colten’s death.
  • Earlier this month, in an internal investigation, the RCMP cleared itself of any wrong-doing when its officers visited Colten’s home immediately following his death.

RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN: 6 KEY FACTS

Systemic racism constitutes a huge barrier for Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

  1. Saskatchewan has an Indigenous child poverty rate of 50%, compared to a non-Indigenous rate of 13%.
  2. 85% of Saskatchewan children in foster care are Indigenous.
  3. The unemployment rate for Indigenous people in Saskatche-wan is 12% compared to 3.8 % for non-Indigenous people.
  4. The mayors of Saskatchewan’s nine biggest cities are all white. Many of those cities, including Regina, have all-white city councils. 99 of the province’s 101 judges are white. Indigenous people make up 16% of Saskatchewan’s population.
  5. Indigenous people in Saskatchewan are 33% more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous counterparts and to be sentenced to more than twice the jail time.
  6. The life expectancy of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan is 6 years less than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts. 

MINISTER OF EDUCATION

According to Saskatchewan Education Minister, Bronwyn Eyre, there is too much “infusion” of Indigenous history in the school curriculum. In fact, if we are ever going to root out the racism and the impoverishment it systemically creates for the vast majority Indigenous peoples in our province, there must be an even greater “infusion” of Indigenous history into the school curriculum.

How many of us who have been celebrating Canada 150 know

  • That Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald used a policy of deliberate starvation of Indigenous peoples in the area that is now Saskatchewan, to force the chiefs to sign treaties, giving up their land to save their people from starvation?
  • Or that many Treaties, including Treaty 4 that takes in most of southern Saskatchewan, including Regina, promised a school on every reserve. Instead, the Canadian government implemented the genocidal residential school system?

STAND UP AGAINST RACISM

  1. If you see something, say something. Speak up when you see racism occurring and interrupt in a safe way.

I would encourage Canadians…when they hear a racist story or joke… to challenge it, and to not accept it. That’s how you’re going to put an end to racism and discrimination in Canada.” Perry Bellegard, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, comment about the Colten Boushie case

  1. Tell Saskatchewan Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre to implement Call To Action #62 of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students”: eyre@saskparty.com or 306-477-4740.
  2. Tell federal Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale that an independent civilian oversight board, and not the RCMP, should conduct investigations of the force and its members: goodale@parl.gc.ca or 306-585-2202.

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