Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for September, 2010

WHAT ONE DOME WILL GET US

Posted by strattof on September 24, 2010

  • Regina City Council and the Saskatchewan government want $431 million of our tax dollars to be spent on a domed stadium. They’ve even asked the federal government to pay 25% of the cost.
  • Here’s what else we can get for $431 million. (Thanks to Prairie Dog and the Regina Leader-Post from which many of the figures are taken.)

HOUSING: 1 domed stadium = 1,874 affordable housing units.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: 1 domed stadium = regulated childcare spaces for 10,000 children for 4 years.

SCHOOLS: 1 domed stadium = 28.7 elementary schools or 4.8 years worth of teacher salaries.

LIBRARIES: 1 domed stadium = 16.02 years of Regina Public Library operations.

HEALTH CARE: 1 domed stadium = 2.15 children’s hospitals.

PUBLIC TRANSIT: 1 domed stadium = 100 brand new city buses, plus their drivers’ salaries for their entire careers.

CITY DEBT: 1 domed stadium = the City of Regina’s current debt X 13.

TAKE ACTION

  • Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper you don’t want $431 million of your tax dollars spent on a domed stadium: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Send the same message to Mayor Pat Fiacco (Service.Regina@regina.ca or 777-7339) and Premier Brad Wall (premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-9433).

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

Posted by strattof on September 16, 2010

Next Tuesday, September 21, is the day declared by the United Nations as the International Day of Peace. Established in 1981, it is a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people.”

PEACE READINGS AND REFLECTIONS

All we are saying is give peace a chance.

John Lennon

Peace to all people of every nation

Peace to the waters and the winds

Peace to the soil and the stars

Peace to the trees, the frogs, and the honey bees

Peace to the polar bears and the song birds

Peace to all beings on this wondrous earth

Catherine Verrall

Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapons of destruction envisioned by the ingenuity of man.

Mahatma Gandhi

True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It’s the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King

Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life,Earth, and the larger whole of which we are a part.

The Earth Charter

We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.

Albert Camus

War cannot be humanized; it can only be abolished.

Albert Einstein

Last night I had the strangest dream

I’ve never dreamed before.

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war.

Ed McCurdy

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.

Jimi Hendrix

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.

Michael Franti

WHAT CAN YOU AND I DO FOR PEACE?

  • We can work for peace in small ways everyday: at home, in the neighbourhood, in the city, the province, the country, and the world.
  • We can attend the Peace Fountain Festival on Saturday September 18, 2:00-5:00 pm, at Regina City Hall Plaza. This event will kick off a campaign to have City Hall fountain formally designated the “Regina Peace Fountain.”
  • We can tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper we want our troops brought home from Afghanistan right now.

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TREATY 4: 136th ANNIVERSARY

Posted by strattof on September 12, 2010

On September 15 1874, Treaty 4 was signed at Fort Qu’Appelle between the Canadian government and Cree and Saulteaux First Nations. Additional signings occurred in 1875, 1876, and 1877.

Treaty 4 was negotiated by the Canadian government in order to gain land for European settlement, agriculture, and industry, as well as for the transcontinental railway that would run through southern Saskatchewan.

A key demand of the Cree and Saulteaux First Nations was for education. Since the buffalo had nearly vanished from the prairies, they wanted to acquire new tools that would ensure a strong and prosperous future.

Under Treaty 4, the Cree and Salteaux First Nations relinquished most of current day southern Saskatchewan. In return, they received small parcels of land, as well as long-term government commitments in a number of areas, including education.

The Treaty Commissioner, Alexander Morris, promised the Treaty would last “as long as the sun shines and the water flows.”

WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE

All southern Saskatchewan residents, whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, benefit from Treaty 4. Mosaic Stadium, for example, is situated on Treaty 4 land. So too are Wascana Park, the Cornwall Centre, and all the rest of Regina.

For the past 136 years, the Cree and Salteaux First Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. The Canadian government, on the other hand, has frequently failed to recognize its treaty commitments. Education, “the new buffalo,” as Blair Stonechild terms it, is one of the areas in which the government has broken its treaty promises.

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, with the aim of assimilating First Nations into European-Canadian society–of “killing the Indian in the child.”

Attendance at the schools was compulsory for all children aged 6-15. Parents who failed to send their children willingly had their children taken from them forcibly.

Students were required to live on school premises and most had no contact with their families for up to 10 months at a time and sometimes for years. The attempt to force assimilation also involved punishing the children for speaking their own languages or practising their cultures.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse. As is now well known, many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. A lesser known fact is that the mortality rate at some schools reached 69%–caused by overcrowding, poor food and sanitation, and a lack of medical care.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to First Nations for the residential school system.

RESERVE SCHOOLS: 2010

Today, children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children. That’s $3,000 less per child per annum. Only 20 of Saskatchewan’s 142 on-reserve schools are in good condition.

Is it any wonder that the high school graduation rate for on-reserve schools in Saskatchewan is just 38%, as compared to 90.5% for schools in the provincial education system?

FIRST NATIONS UNIVERSITY: 1976–2010

First Nations University incorporates First Nations values and perspectives into its programs. Given the residential school legacy, it is essential that Aboriginal students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that is self affirming.

Since its inception in 1976, First Nations University has experienced budget deficits. Currently it is trying to stabilize its finances by selling off its Saskatoon campus and terminating 46 positions. The University’s financial problems were no doubt exacerbated by 5 years of institutional mismanagement. However, the underlying reason for the University’s financial difficulties is a lack of proper funding.

  • From the beginning, funding per student at First Nations University has been less than at the University of Regina.
  • Unlike the U of R, First Nations University did not have its own facilities for the first 27 years of its existence. Administrative and faculty offices, along with classrooms, were scattered throughout the U of R campus, with some even being located in quonset huts. When, in 2003, First Nations did finally acquire its own structure, it had to rent the top two floors to Indian and Northern Affairs in order to pay off the loan on the building. When the U of R puts up a new building, it occupies the whole structure and does not have to locate its faculty offices in the basement–as is the case at First Nations.
  • Currently the federal government is refusing to commit to any sustainable ongoing funding for First Nations University.

TAKE ACTION

  • Ask Federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, John Duncan, why children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children.
  • Tell Stephen Harper you want the federal government to commit to sustainable ongoing funding for First Nations University.
  • Let federal and provincial government leaders know you want the funding per student at First Nations University to be at the same level as that at the University of Regina.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

Federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, John Duncan: Duncan.J@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-2503.

Premier Brad Wall: premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-9433.

Provincial Minister of First Nations and Métis Relations, Ken Cheveldayoff: kcheveldayoff@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0605.

“Today, elders say that education, rather than the bison, needs to be relied upon for survival.”

Blair Stonechild The New Buffalo

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THE AFGHANISTAN WAR: WHAT ARE THE REAL COSTS?

Posted by strattof on September 2, 2010

DOLLAR COSTS

  • Canada has already spent between $10 and $16 billion on the war in Afghanistan. 
  • According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the total cost of the war will be $18.1 billion–a figure that does not include the cost of billions of dollars of military equipment.  
  • This is money that could have been spent on health care, education, and affordable housing.

 HUMAN COSTS

  • 155 Canadians (including three non-military personnel) have been killed in Afghanistan. Many more have been wounded. Of those who return physically whole, a significant number will face mental health and addiction problems.  
  • 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed by the war in the first six months of 2010, according to the United Nations. At least 223 of these deaths are attributable to action by US-led NATO military forces. So far 2010 has been the most lethal year for Afghan civilians since the war began in 2001.  
  • Over 10,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since the beginning of the war. Many more have been injured. Afghan civilians have also suffered from displacement, the destruction of their homes, and loss of livelihood. 
  • Tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers on both sides of the conflict have been killed.

OPPORTUNITY COSTS

  • What $18.1 billion will get you:

–4 years worth of healthcare for every Saskatchewan resident, or

–4 years worth of tuition for every Canadian university undergraduate, or

–2.7 million affordable housing units–more than enough to house Canada’s 300,000 homeless people, as well as to provide affordable housing to the 1.5 million Canadian households spending more than one third of their income on rent, putting them at significant risk of losing their housing. 

  • What could have been done with the lives lost in Afghanistan?

 FUTURE COSTS

  • The costs won’t stop in 2011, the supposed end-date for Canada’s war. The Canadian government plans to spend $779 million in 2011-2012, with a further $549 million scheduled for 2012-2014.
  • No surprise, then, that just last week Prime Minister Harper let war-weary Canadians know that he has not closed the door on  a post-2011 Canadian military presence in Afghanistan.   

Canadians weary of the war’s cost must turn weariness into action.

Let Stephen Harper know the costs of war are already too high, and he should bring the troops home now: pm@pm.gc.ca

FREE MOVIE: MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

The movie documents the life of Pete Seeger, one of the world’s most-loved folk-singers. Seeger has been at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights, the peace and anti-war movement, and the environmental movement. Some of his best known songs are “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “For Everything There is a Season.”

Wednesday September 8, 7:00 pm

Regina Public Library Film Theatre, 2311 12th Avenue

MAKING PEACE VIGIL September 2 2010

Posted in afghanistan | 3 Comments »