Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for June, 2016

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.

Posted in justice, peace activism | 2 Comments »

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

 

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in environment, justice | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

CLIMATE CRISIS

Posted by strattof on June 2, 2016

Sunday, June 5, is WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY, a time to reflect on the catastrophic damage we are doing to the earth systems that give us life, and a time to start taking action to lessen the damage.

CLIMATE FACTS

  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded—until 2015 beat it by a wide margin.
  • April 2016 was the hottest April on record and the seventh month in a row to break global temperature averages—setting up 2016 to be the hottest year ever.
  • The 10 hottest years on record have all happened since 1998.
  • Warming is now accelerating in an unparalleled way.
  • 97% of scientists agree that human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, has caused this increase in temperature.
  • Average global temperature has already reached 1°C higher than the pre-industrial average.
  • The increase in average global temperature must be kept below 2°C to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming.

THE PARIS CLIMATE CONFERENCE

In December 2015, 195 countries, including Canada, met in Paris and adopted a climate agreement, committing to keep “the increase in average global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” with the further aim of limiting “the increase to 1.5°C.”

To reach this goal, each country at the conference pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by a certain percentage. Canada’s pledge was for a 30% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

Will Canada keep its commitment?

TAR SANDS MADNESS

  • The federal government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1.5 billion a year.
  • The tar sands industry is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada.
  • According to a 2015 study by Nature, if global warming is to be limited to 2°C, 85% of its tar sands oil will have to remain in the ground.
  • Various levels of governments are still pushing for pipelines to be built from the Alberta tar sands—pipelines that would facilitate tar sands expansion.

FIRST NATIONS TAKE THE LEAD

Indigenous communities have taken the lead in opposing new pipelines, such as Energy East. The original caretakers of this land, they are determined to protect their land and the entire planet from environmental destruction.

Last month, the federal government formally adopted the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which, if fully implemented, would give Indigenous peoples veto rights over developments on their land. This same right is enshrined in the Treaties as they were intended.

IS BRAD WALL A CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER?

In his May 17 2016 Speech from the Throne, Premier Wall said: “There are some in this country who, given the opportunity, would shut down major parts of Saskatchewan’s economy and put thou-sands of hard-working Saskatchewan people out of work, all in the name of some misguided dogma that has no basis in reality.”

Premier Wall is also a vocal supporter of the Energy East pipeline project, a pipeline that will carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day, thus facilitating tar sands expansion.

Provincial NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon also “support[s] our energy sector and….building new pipelines.”

Is it any wonder, then, that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the country and ranks last among the provinces in environmental performance? SHAME!

IS JUSTIN TRUDEAU ANY BETTER?

On the one hand, the Trudeau government has committed to new regulations for pipelines, regulations that include a consideration of climate impact, more public participation, and more consideration of Indigenous rights.

On the other hand, when questioned about pipelines in April during a Saskatoon visit, Prime Minister Trudeau responded: “One of the fundamental responsibilities of any Canadian prime minister…is to get Canadian resources to international markets.” Trudeau also supported the Keystone XL pipeline.

FIRES: THE CLIMATE CONNECTION

In case there is any doubt, the Government of Canada’s own website states: “Climate change during the 21st century is expected to result in more frequent fires in many boreal forests with severe environmental and economic consequences.”

Climate change is also resulting in more droughts, heat waves, and extreme weather events.

WHAT CANADA MUST DO

To meet the climate commitment it made in Paris, Canada must:

  • Say “no” to new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines.
  • Say “yes” to major investments in renewable energy and green infrastructure, especially public transit.
  • Say “yes” to spending public money on retraining workers being laid off in the fossil fuel sector.
  • Say “yes” to Indigenous peoples’ right to control development on their land.

TAKE ACTION

ATTEND: PARIS CLIMATE CONFERENCE AND AFTER, Friday June 10, 7 pm: Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2104 Garnet Street: Canada signed the Paris agreement on climate change, so what does it mean for us now? You are invited to a discussion of the issue with Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of Equiterre, and Haley Carlson of Saskatchewan Environmental Society.  

TELL PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU you want Canada to keep the climate commitment it made in Paris: 613-922-4211 or justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca

DEMAND SASKATCHEWAN PREMIER stop denying climate change: https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/tell-saskatchewan-s-premier-to-stop-denying-climate-change-and-act

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »