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STOPPING ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

Posted by strattof on February 16, 2017

On January 29, 2017, a gunman opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, killing six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti. These men were killed because of their religion. 17 children lost their father to this act of hateful violence.

We at Making Peace Vigil extend our sympathies to the families of the men who were killed. In this time of terror, we stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in Regina and throughout Canada.

But expressions of sympathy and solidarity are not enough. We must all actively struggle against anti-Muslim racism, also known as Islamophobia.

HOME-GROWN RACISM

THE SUSPECT

The lone suspect in the shootings is a young, white, Christian, Canadian man and a student at Laval University. He is charged with six counts of first-degree murder.

NOT OUT OF THE BLUE

This act of terror did not come out of the blue. It occurred in a climate of increasing hate and fear, with many powerful members of our society promoting intolerance of Muslims.

CULTIVATION OF HATE & FEAR

It is not just that President Donald Trump’s hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric is crossing the border. Canada has produced plenty of its own anti-Muslim racist rhetoric. For example:

2013   The Parti Québécois proposed Charter of Quebec Values recommending a ban on public sector employees wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols—i.e. head or face coverings.

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

2015   Saskatchewan talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims

2016   Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée’s suggestion that an assault rifle could be hidden under a burka

2016   Conservative party leadership candidate Kelly Leitch’s proposal to vet immigrants for their “Canadian values”

Such anti-Muslim rhetoric helps fuel hate crimes, such as the Quebec City massacre.

NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT

Nor is the Quebec City shooting an isolated incident. Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Canada. For example:

  • In 2015, a mosque in Peterborough Ontario was firebombed.
  • In 2016, a man showed a noose to two Muslim women waiting at a transit station in Edmonton and sang “O Canada.”
  • Six months before the Quebec City shooting, a pig’s head was placed at the door of the same mosque during Ramadan.

TRUMP & TRUDEAU

When President Trump imposed his Muslim ban, indefinitely barring Syrian refugees and blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from admission to the US, Prime Minister Trudeau was quick to respond with a tweet saying refugees are welcome in Canada: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” These are wonderful words!

But words need to be backed up with action. If Trudeau’s heart-felt declaration is going to have any real meaning, changes will have to be made to Canada’s refugee and immigration system, in particular to the Safe Third Country agreement and the cap on private sponsorships. 

SAFE THIRD COUNTRY AGREEMENT

Signed by Canada and the US in 2002, the Safe Third Country agreement requires refugees to make asylum claims “in the first safe country they arrive in.” 

The Agreement is the reason that asylum seekers coming from the US have been entering Canada illegally by walking across the border. If they try to cross legally, they will be turned back to the US where they are likely to face detention and deportation.  

So desperate are some asylum seekers that they have attempted the journey in -20° weather. Two nearly froze to death. One has lost his hands to frost bite, another most of his fingers.  

Repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement! So far, the Trudeau government has declined to do so—making a mockery of the Prime Minister’s tweet that refugees are welcome in Canada.    

CAP ON PRIVATELY SPONSORED REFUGEES

In December 2016, the Trudeau government placed a cap of 1,000 on privately sponsored Syrian and Iraqi refugees for 2017. The cap exposes the hypocrisy of Trudeau’s tweet claiming that Canada welcomes refugees.

Lift the cap! So far the Trudeau government has declined to do so.

STOPPING ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want his government to repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement and to lift the cap on privately sponsored refugees: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen: Hussen@parl.gc.ca or 613-954-1064.
  • Ask your MP to support Motion 103, calling on the federal government to study ways in which the government can reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada, including Islamophobia. Full text available at: https://www.nccm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ENGLISH-LETTER-WITH-SIGNATORIES.pdf

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-1153

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4593

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-9115

  • Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the website of the National Council of Canadian Muslims: https://www.nccm.ca/
  • Counter Islamophobia wherever you find it. Find ways to do so without giving offence.

UNITED AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA

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TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

Posted by strattof on February 16, 2017

It’s been more than a year since the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The result of a six-year study of the history and legacy of Indian residential schools, the report documents the harsh truth about Canada’s residential school system:

  • More than 150,000 children attended the schools, many of them forcibly removed from their families.
  • Mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse was rife.
  • Food was often insufficient and of poor quality; and many schools were poorly maintained and overcrowded.
  • At least 6,000 children died at the schools from malnutrition, disease, and abuse.
  • The schools were part of the Canadian government’s policy of cultural genocide toward Indigenous peoples.

The TRC report also includes 94 calls to action. A year later, how much progress has been made toward implementing these recommendations?

MORE BROKEN PROMISES

In the run-up to the 2015 federal election, the Trudeau Liberals promised to implement all 94 TRC calls to action. How well is Prime Minister Trudeau doing?

CHILD WELFARE

TRC Recommendation #1: “Commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care.”

2007: The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint against the federal government, alleging that Canada is racially discriminating against First Nations children by providing less child welfare funding on reserves.

2007 – 2015: Through litigation tactics and appointments, the Harper government attempted to derail the case.

2016: The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Canadian government is racially discriminating against First Nations children and ordered it to stop immediately.

2016: The Trudeau government increased funding for child welfare on reserves, but the Human Rights Tribunal found there were still sizeable funding discrepancies and issued compliance orders.

EDUCATION

TRC Recommendation # 8: “Eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.”

According to a December 2016 report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the federal government still spends $6,500 – $9,500 less per student at schools on reserves than the provinces spend on the education of children.

Treaty Promises: A key demand of many First Nations when signing treaties was for education. Under Treaty 4, signed in 1874 and covering all of southern Saskatchewan, including Regina, the federal 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.

UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

TRC Recommendation #43: “Fully adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.”

The Declaration recognizes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to health, education, and employment to freedom from discrimination to cultural identity and self-determination and to withhold consent from proposed projects that may affect their land and resources—the right of “free, prior, and informed consent” to development.

In May 2016, Canada formally adopted the Declaration, with the Trudeau government committing to fully implement it in the near future. By July, however, the government was backtracking and declaring the adoption of the Declaration as Canadian law “unworkable.” The main sticking point was the “free, prior, and informed consent” requirement.

Since then, the Trudeau government has, largely without “free, prior, and informed consent,” approved a number of developments that will affect Indigenous land and resources:

  • The Site C Dam in northern BC
  • The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, from Edmonton to Burnaby
  • The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, from Edmonton to Superior Wisconsin, passing just south of Regina 

RECONCILIATION: SORRY ISN’T ENOUGH

  • 2008: Prime Minister Harper apologized for the federal govern-ment’s residential school program. Nothing else happened.
  • 2015: Soon-to-be Prime Minister Trudeau promised to implement the TRC’s 94 calls to action. Little has happened.
  • 2017: The 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation would be a really good time to implement all 94 calls to action, a first step toward redressing the legacy of residential schools and advancing the process of reconciliation. Otherwise there will be nothing to celebrate.

TAKE ACTION

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STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA

Posted by strattof on January 19, 2017

DEFINITION

Islamophobia, also known as anti-Muslim racism, is hostility toward Islam and Muslims or discrimination against or fear of Islam and Muslims.

RECENT EXAMPLES

  • In June 2016, a Muslim woman was punched and spat on while she shopped with her four-month-old son in London Ontario. 
  • In the summer of 2016, the soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant street patrol group, began patrolling the streets of Regina. 
  • In November 2016, a man showed a noose to two Muslim women waiting at a transit station in Edmonton and sang “O Canada.” 

ISLAMOPHOBIA: MORE EXAMPLES

INTERNATIONAL

  • The banning of the full-body bathing suit or burkini by a number of French municipalities
  • Donald Trump’s call for all Muslims to be banned from the US
  • Britain’s Brexit vote

NATIONAL

  • The Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, passed into law by the Harper government and supported by the Liberals: It’s still law.
  • The online Care2 petition, which garnered 50,000 signatures, asking the Trudeau government to “stop resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada” 

LOCAL

  • Talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims
  • Premier Brad Wall’s identification of Syrian refugees with terrorism
  • Hateful online comments posted to a story about the arrival of a Syrian refugee in Regina

CANADIAN VALUES?

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has proposed to apply a “Canadian values” test to potential immigrants. Which Canadian values will she be drawing on?

Racist values that led to policies such as the following?

  • 1876 – 1996: The genocidal residential school system
  • 1914: The turning back of the Komagata Maru, a ship that arrived in the Vancouver harbour carrying 376 Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim passengers
  • 1939: The turning back of the St Louis, a ship that arrived in the Halifax harbour carrying 739 German Jewish refugees, forcing the ship to return to Europe where many passengers died in Nazi concentration camps
  • 2010: The detention of 492 Tamil asylum seekers who arrived on the BC coast on the MV Sun Sea
  • Ongoing: Underfunding of First Nations child welfare services

Is there any chance that Kellie Leitch is referring to the values upheld in the ongoing struggle for justice in Canada?

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

ANTI-MUSLIM HATE CRIMES

Islamophobia has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. A 2016 Environics Institute survey revealed that 35% of Canadian Muslims have experienced discrimination and unfair treatment in recent years.

ENDLESS WAR

Endless war against Muslim countries is another consequence of Islamophobia. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria–Canada has now been at war in Muslim countries for 14 years without a break.

2 ISLAMOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

  • The inherently violent Muslim man: Like most non-Muslim men, most Muslim men hold ordinary jobs and value family and friends. They are not any more violent than non-Muslim men. Much of the violence in the world today is directed at Muslims by non-Muslims. 
  • The oppressed Muslim woman: “While the demonization of Islam and Muslims as exceptionally oppressive [of women] certainly advances the cause of racist stereotyping, it does little to benefit the women in whose interests these sometime champions for equality claim to speak. On the contrary, Muslim women bear a heavy part of the burden of violence and hatred generated by these stereotypes.”—from a column in the Ottawa Citizen, signed by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women.  

TAKE ACTION

  1. Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s website online map of anti-Muslim hate-crimes and incidents: http://www.nccm.ca/map/
  2. Here are the names of four prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Zarqa Nawaz, Monia Mazigh, Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Khan. Are you familiar with them? If not, do a google search.
  3. Read the whole column in the Ottawa Citizen written by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Google “Ottawa Citizen Islamophobic feminism.”
  4. Read the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Charter For Inclusive Communities and consider signing it: http://www.nccm.ca/charter/

 

 

 

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PEACE IN 2017

Posted by strattof on January 15, 2017

ENDLESS WAR

Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria—Canada has been or is there making war.

WAR IS A CATASTROPHE

War inflicts suffering on soldiers and civilians alike. It is a catastrophe for everyone it touches.

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

DEATH & DESTRUCTION IN SYRIA 

SUFFERING IN SYRIA

The war in Syria is now well into its sixth year. The suffering of the people of Syria has been terrible.

  • Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the war.
  • 9 million Syrians have become refugees.
  • 5 million Syrians are internally displaced.
  • Nearly half of the affected people are children.

WHY HAS THIS WAR LASTED SO LONG?

A key factor has been the intervention of the US and Russia, with Russia supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US determined to topple him. The result has been an escalation of the fighting. Syria has become a new cold war battleground.

A CHANCE FOR PEACE

  • On December 30th, an agreement, brokered by Russia and Turkey, calling for a ceasefire and peace talks in the war in Syria, went into effect.
  • The following day, New Year’s Eve, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution supporting the efforts of Russia and Turkey to end the conflict.
  • As of yesterday (January 11), the ceasefire was mainly holding.

A FRAGILE PEACE

  • The December 30th ceasefire was the third ceasefire declared in Syria in 2016. The other two collapsed, one of them in a matter of days.
  • The US was not included in the ceasefire discussions.
  • A number of groups considered “terrorist” by all the main participants in the conflict (Russia, the US, and Assad), were also not part of the ceasefire agreement. These include Daesh (ISIS) and Fatah al-Sham.

CANADA IN SYRIA

MAKING WAR

Canada is part of the US-led coalition making war in Syria:

  • March 2015: The Harper government expanded Canada’s military mission in Iraq into Syria, committing six fighter jets, a refueling aircraft, two surveillance aircraft, and 69 soldiers. 
  • February 2016: The Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Syria until March 2017. While it pulled Canada’s fighter jets from the war, it left the refueling and surveillance aircrafts—proxy bombing some have called it. The Trudeau government also tripled the number of soldiers to 207. 

MAKING A KILLING

The war in Syria is fueled by arms from the west. Canada is the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East.

War is big business. Canada is making a killing off the war in Syria.

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

PEACE IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE

War is neither necessary nor inevitable. Peaceful alternatives always exist, but they need to be worked at.

Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict; yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes ecourage, it takes strength and tenacity—Pope Francis

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CANADA FOR PEACE

  • Tell Prime Minister Trudeau you want Canada to stop making war in Syria and to start making diplomatic peace-making a top priority: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan: Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052.

PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

Enter the 2017 Peace Symbol Contest. Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a snowbank; a sidewalk using chalk; a piece of clothing; 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. The deadline is midnight August 31, 2017.

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CANADA’S 150th BIRTHDAY: WHAT ARE WE CELEBRATING?

Posted by strattof on January 5, 2017

The year-long celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday have already begun. There were musical performances, cultural events, and fireworks displays in 19 cities, including Regina, across the country on New Year’s Eve.

According to the federal government’s Canada 150 website: “From local and community events to national celebrations in 2017, there will be plenty of ways to get involved and celebrate all that makes us who we are as a country.

What seem to be missing from the proceedings are events that acknowledge the process through which Canada became a nation: the colonization, displacement, oppression, and genocide of Indigenous peoples. This is the history that in large part “makes us who we are as a country.”

Many of us, especially those of us who have white privilege, don’t know this history. Let’s make Canada’s 150th birthday a time to learn it.

JOHN A. MACDONALD: FATHER OF THE NATION

We will hear a lot about John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, during the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. His legacy includes:

  • Negotiating Canadian Confederation in 1867.
  • Overseeing the completion of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.

As a result of these accomplishments, Macdonald is often hailed as father of the Canadian nation.

GENOCIDE—MACDONALD’S OTHER LEGACY

They are not, however, Macdonald’s only legacy. Almost erased from history are his racist and genocidal policies against Indigenous peoples. 

CLEARING THE PLAINS

In 1878, Macdonald implemented a policy of starvation, with-holding food from First Nations living in Canada’s vast resource-rich prairie region until they moved onto reserves. In Macdonald’s words: “We are doing all we can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation.”

The goal of the policy was to clear the plains of First Nations so as to make way for the transcontinental railroad and make the plains available for white settlement.

Thousands died as a result of this genocidal policy.

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

Macdonald was a passionate advocate for residential schools. In 1879, his government founded a publicly funded residential school system. In 1884, it made school attendance compulsory for all First Nations children. Thousands of children died from neglect, abuse, malnutrition, and disease while attending these schools.

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations, includes:

  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.

Canada’s residential schools, the last of which closed in 1996, constituted genocide.

COLONIALISM TODAY

Why bring up these disturbing truths about Canada’s founding when we are supposed to be celebrating?

We need to know our history because it forms the basis of on-going white settler privilege. In health, child welfare, education, housing, employment, the justice system—indeed, almost everywhere in Canadian society—whiteness is still an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage. For example:

HEALTH

The health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, set-off by Macdonald’s starvation policy, persists.

39  Incidence rate of TB per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, 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-Indigenous Saskatchewan communities score above 80.

CHILD WELFARE

  • First Nations children on reserves receive 22% -34% less funding for child welfare services than non-Indigenous children receive for child welfare from the provinces.
  • The result: There are more First Nations children in care today than there were in residential schools in the 1950s.

In terms of policies toward Indigenous peoples, how different is Canada today from Macdonald’s 19th century Canada? 

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

What Canada did, and continues to do, to Indigenous peoples is genocide. Hard as it is to accept, this is the truth. Knowing and accepting this truth is a first step toward reconciliation.

KAIROS BLANKET EXERCISE

The Kairos Blanket Exercise is a way of helping us to understand and accept this truth. “A tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada,” the Blanket Exercise would be a perfect way to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

Learn about the Blanket Exercise: http://kairosblanketexercise.org/

TAKE ACTION

  1. Please use this pamphlet as a jumping off point for a conver-sation about colonialism, racism, and genocide in Canada.
  2. Let Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Brad Wall, and Mayor Michael Fougere know you want them to mark Canada’s 150th birthday by sponsoring the Blanket Exercise in Regina. The Legislative lawn, Victoria Park, and the area around the Peace Fountain in front of City Hall would all be good locations. trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253; mayor@regina.ca or 306-777-7339; bradwallmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-9433
  3. Learn more about Canadian history.

The following books are available at Regina Public Library:

  • Clearing the Plains, James Daschuk (2013)
  • The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King (2012)
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, Arthur

Manuel & Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson (2015)

  • The Comeback, John Ralston Saul (2014)

The following articles are available online:

  • “When Canada used hunger to clear the West,” James Daschuk, Globe and Mail, July 19, 2013.
  • “What Canada committed against First Nations was genocide,” Phil Fontaine and Bernie Farber, Globe and Mail, Oct 14, 2013.
  • “Old Macdonald,” Stephen Marche, Walrus, Jan – Feb 2015.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE CITY OF REGINA

Posted by strattof on December 29, 2016

6 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: WHAT REGINA CITY COUNCIL CAN DO TO MAKE REGINA A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL WHO DWELL HERE 

1. Take action to eliminate homelessness.

Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis, with more and more people relying on the shelter system, living on the street, double-bunking, or couch-surfing.

How did this happen? Rents went through the roof. Since 2006, they have doubled and they are still going up. People lost and continue to lose their housing.

During the municipal eletion, Mayor Michael Fougere repeatedly spoke of ending homelessness in Regina. In his own 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 City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems, but there are measures the city can take that will go some way to addressing our city’s homelessness crisis. Here are two of them:

a) Allocate annually the equivalent of 20% of the Regina Police Service operating budget to affordable rental housing. For 2017, that would amount to about $15 million. Eliminating homelessness is a crime reduction strategy.

b) Work with the business community to purchase Sears Warehouse, and, with the help of NGOs and volutneer citizens, convert it into affordabe rental housing.

2. Bann the cosmetic use of pesticides.

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens. The city itself uses 2,4-D and Round Up.

According to the Canadian Cancer society, “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate… and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides.”

3. Act on all the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action that apply to municipalities.

Kudos to the City of Regina for acting on call to action #75 and designating the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery as Municipal Heritage Property.

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 Peoples 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.

One small step the City of Regina could take toward answering these calls would be to sponsor the Kairos Blanket Exercise in Victoria Park to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

Learn about the Blanket Exercise: kairosblanketexercise.org

4. Increase Regina Transit’s operating budget.

Public transit is the solution to many of our local problems—traffic congestion, the scarcity and cost of downtown parking—as well as part of the answer to a major gobal problem, climate change:

  • Transit cuts carbon emissions.
  • One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road. 

5. Join the Mayors For Peace movement

Mayors For Peace is an initiative of the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities ever to have experienced the terrible effects of nuclear warfare. Its goal is the abolition of nuclear weapons.

7,196 cities have already joined the movement. They include 105 Canadian cities—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

In April 2016, Mayor Michael Fougere was invited to join Mayors For Peace. Nine months later, he still has the matter “under consideration.”

6. Adopt 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 2016, Council voted to postpone making a decision.

What kind of City Council does not want its city’s citizens to have a healthy environment? 144 other Canadian municipal governments have already passed the Blue Dot resolution.

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NO NEW PIPELINES

Posted by strattof on December 8, 2016

Last week the Trudeau government approved two new tar sands pipelines: the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Together they will increase pipeline capacity by about 1 million barrels of oil per day.

In making this decision, Prime Minister Trudeau privileged the interests of the fossil fuel industry over the concerns of Indigenous peoples, ordinary Canadians across the country, and climate scientists. He also broke three of his election promises:

  1. To make Canada a world climate leader.
  2. To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process before considering any more pipelines.
  3. To implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to build a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations.

For all our sake, we need to stop these pipelines!

PIPELINE BASICS

LINE 3

  • Line 3 will carry tar sands crude from Hardisty Alberta to Superior Wisconsin for transport to refinery markets in the US.
  • Line 3 crosses Saskatchewan, passing through Treaty 6 and Treaty 4 territories. It also passes just a few kilometres south of Regina and transits or runs near a number of farms, towns, waterways, and First Nations.
  • Line 3 will replace a pipeline constructed in the 1960s, doubling its capacity from 360,000 to 760,000 barrels a day.
  • Line 3 is owned by Enbridge, a Calgary-based corporation. Enbridge includes among its shareholders all major Canadian banks: RBC, BMO, TD, CIBC, and Bank of Nova Scotia.

TRANS MOUNTAIN

  • Trans Mountain will carry tar sands crude from Edmonton Alberta to Burnaby BC for export by tankers to Asia.
  • Trans Mountain crosses 15 First Nations, Jasper National Park, and many waterways. It also runs directly under a number of schools, residential neighbourhoods, and shopping centres.
  • Trans Mountain will almost triple the pipeline’s capacity, increasing it from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude a day.
  • Trans Mountain will also quadruple the number of tar sands tankers to more than 400 a year in Burrard Inlet. Each tanker can carry up to one million barrels of crude oil.
  • Trans Mountain is owned by Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based corporation. Like Enbridge, Kinder Morgan includes among its shareholders all major Canadian banks.

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN

Pipelines are accidents waiting to happen. More than a 100 significant spills occur every year. One of those spills occurred last summer in Northern Saskatchewan, dumping 1,572 barrels of tar sands oil into the North Saskatchewan River.

Like all pipeline companies, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan claim their pipelines are safe. Their safety records tell a different story.

  • Enbridge is responsible for the largest onshore spill in US history. In 2010 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in Michigan, spilling 27,000 barrels of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River.
  • Since purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2005, Kinder Morgan has been responsible for four major spills in BC.

Oil spills contaminate water, land, and air. They also kill wildlife and sicken people. Tar sands oil is particularly toxic as it must be thinned with thousands of chemicals to make it run through a pipe.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

The Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipelines are environmental hazards. Both will expand tar sands production.

  • Tar sands production poisons the water, air, land, and people in surrounding First Nations communities.
  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada, thus driving dangerous climate change.
  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded—until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. Now 2016 is on track to set another heat record.
  • Climate scientists warn that, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 85% of tar sands oil in the ground.

EARTH PROTECTORS

Indigenous communities have taken the lead in opposing pipe-lines. The original caretakers of this land, they are determined to protect it, and the entire planet, from environmental destruction.

  • First Nations across Canada have been saying “no” to tar sands development and tar sands pipelines for years.
  • Calling themselves protectors (rather than “protesters”), thousands of Indigenous peoples from across the Americas said “no” to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock ND. Earlier this week, they succeeded in halting the pipeline.

WE ALL MUST BE EARTH PROTECTORS!

TAKE ACTION

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau

  • That saying “yes” to pipelines is saying “yes” to climate catastrophe.
  • That climate leaders do not approve new tar sands pipelines.

Also let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want his government

  • To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process as promised and then to review the Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipeline projects.
  • To implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to “free, prior, and informed consent.”

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.

Ask your bank if it has investments in Enbridge or Kinder Morgan.

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ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

Posted by strattof on December 4, 2016

DEFINITION

Anti-Muslim racism, also known as Islamophobia, is hostility toward Islam and Muslims or discrimination against or fear of Islam and Muslims.

RECENT EXAMPLES

  • The attempt by the Harper government to prohibit women wearing a niqab from becoming Canadian citizens 
  • The June 2016 attack on a Muslim woman, who was punched and spat on while she shopped with her four-month-old son in London Ontario 
  • The demonization of Islam as excessively or uniquely sexist, misogynistic, or oppressive of women

ISLAMOPHOBIA: MORE EXAMPLES

INTERNATIONAL

  • The banning of the full-body bathing suit or burkini by a number of French municipalities
  • Donald Trump’s call for all Muslims to be banned from the US
  • Britain’s Brexit vote

NATIONAL

  • The Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, passed into law by the Harper government and supported by the Liberals: It’s still law.
  • The online Care2 petition, which garnered 50,000 signatures, asking the Trudeau government to “stop resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada”
  • Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s proposal to screen immigrants to Canada for “anti-Canadian values”
  • A CBC-Angus Reid poll that found 68% of Canadians agree with Kellie Leitch and think “minorities should do more to fit in better with mainstream Canadian society” 

LOCAL

  • Talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims
  • Premier Brad Wall’s identification of Syrian refugees with terrorism
  • The Soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant street patrol group, patrolling the streets of Regina

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

Anti-Muslim rhetoric—the promotion of fear and hatred of Muslims—has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. Such crimes and incidents have increased around the country, putting Muslim Canadians at risk of random acts of violence. Recent examples include:

  • Anti-Muslim posters plastered around the University of Calgary
  • A Hamilton mosque set on fire
  • A physical assault on a pregnant Muslim woman in Montreal
  • An attack on a niqab-wearing woman in Toronto
  • Hateful online comments posted to a story about the arrival of a Syrian refugee in Regina

ENDLESS WAR

Endless war against Muslim countries is another consequence of Islamophobia. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria–Canada has now been at war in Muslim countries for 13 years without a break.

2 ISLAMOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

  • The oppressed Muslim woman: “While the demonization of Islam and Muslims as exceptionally oppressive [of women] certainly advances the cause of racist stereotyping, it does little to benefit the women in whose interests these sometime champions for equality claim to speak. On the contrary, Muslim women bear a heavy part of the burden of violence and hatred generated by these stereotypes.”—from a column in the Ottawa Citizen, signed by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women.
  • The inherently violent Muslim man: Like most non-Muslim men, most Muslim men hold ordinary jobs and value family and friends. They are not any more violent than non-Muslim men. Much of the violence in the world today is directed at Muslims by non-Muslims. 

Such stereotypes are used as justification for western wars in Muslim countries.

  • Hence, we were told that Canada was fighting in Afghanistan in order to liberate Afghan women.
  • Now we are being told the “war on terror” must never end.

TAKE ACTION

  1. Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s website online map of anti-Muslim hate-crimes and incidents: http://www.nccm.ca/map/
  2. Here are the names of four prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Zarqa Nawaz, Monia Mazigh, Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Khan. Are you familiar with them? If not, do a google search.
  3. Read the whole column in the Ottawa Citizen written by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Google “Ottawa Citizen Islamophobic feminism.”
  4. Read the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Charter For Inclusive Communities and consider signing it: http://www.nccm.ca/charter/

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MAYORS FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on December 4, 2016

Mayors For Peace is an initiative of the Mayors of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities to have ever experienced the terrible effects of nuclear warfare. In August 1945, the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly killing tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and devastating both cities.

The goal of Mayors For Peace is the abolition of nuclear weapons. 

7,164 cities have already joined the movement. They include 105 Canadian cities—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. 

In April, Regina’s Mayor Michael Fougere was invited to join Mayors For Peace. Six months later, he still has the matter “under consideration.”

THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WARFARE

71 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear warfare still looms over humanity. The threat will remain as long as nuclear weapons exist.

THE NUMBERS

Nine of the world’s nations are nuclear powers. Together they possess close to 16,000 nuclear weapons, enough to destroy the earth hundreds of times over:

Russia: 7,300

US: 6,970

France: 300

China: 260

UK: 215

Pakistan: 130

India: 120

Israel: 60 – 400

North Korea: 10

 THREE MAJOR NUCLEAR THREATS

  1. The US and Russia, which together account for 93% of the world’s nuclear weapons are the main threat. The two nations are already facing off in Syria and Ukraine. Both are also currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.
  2. NATO, a US-led military alliance which insists on its right to a nuclear first strike, has, since the fall of the Soviet Union, offensively pushed eastward to Russia’s borders to include Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. NATO has also made overtures to Ukraine and Georgia.
  3. A nuclear accident is an ever-present possibility.

NUCLEAR COUNTDOWN

Every year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its Doomsday Clock to indicate how close humanity is to destroy-ing itself. This year, scientists have set the clock at three minutes to midnight, in part to reflect the threat of nuclear weapons. (The other major threat to human existence is global warming.)

Time is running out! Producing a concrete plan to eliminate nuclear weapons is an urgent priority.

CANADA & NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Canada is not a nuclear power. However, Canada has been very much involved in nuclear weapons from the beginning.

For example: Canada was the primary source for the uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A Canadian nuclear reactor was used by India to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb. 

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

CANADA AT THE UN

Canada’s voting record on nuclear matters at the UN isn’t very pretty either. Just last month, Canada voted twice in support of the nuclear industry.

  1. Canada voted against a UN resolution calling for negotiations on a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. The official explanation for the vote is “that the most effective approach to nuclear disarmament is an incremental process” (Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs). A more likely reason is support for NATO and its reliance on nuclear weapons, as well as support for Canada’s uranium industry.
  2. Canada abstained on a UN resolution that draws attention to the health and environmental risks posed by depleted uranium (DU) weaponry. Canadian uranium is the source of much of the DU weaponry the US used in Iraq. The US recently admitted that it has also used DU weaponry in Syria.

THE PEACE SYMBOL

The peace symbol was designed in the 1950s 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.

Make a peace symbol as a reminder of the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Any surface will do: snow, a sidewalk, cookies, cloth—the possibilities are endless.

TAKE ACTION

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HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on November 17, 2016

Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis. The situation is so bad that a tent city has sprung up, with tents providing shelter for a growing number of people.

How did this happen? Rents went through the roof. Since 2006 they have doubled and they are still going up. People lost and continue to lose their housing.

Tents are affordable housing for the poor! There is no running water or electricity, but they do provide a safer place than overcrowded shelters or the streets. They also allow for self-sufficiency, empowerment, and community.

Regina’s tent city is home to some 15 people—a drop in the bucket, given Regina’s homeless population.

Tents are a last option. What we need is affordable (30% of income) rental housing.

HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

THE NUMBERS

3401 The number of different individuals who sought shelter services in 2010, according to a University of Regina study, Homelessness in Regina: 2010 Report, a study that documented the people who used Regina’s shelter system over a three-year period: This number only reflects those who were absolutely homeless. Many others double-bunked, couch-surfed, or lived in over-crowded, unhealthy conditions.

232   The number of people counted in a 2015 Regina point-in-time homelessness count, conducted between 10 pm and midnight on May 13 by the YMCA’s Homeless Partnering Strategy: During the two-hour period, volunteers walked the streets of the downtown, Heritage, and North Central areas, counting homeless people. Those staying in emergency shelters that evening were also counted.

126   The number of people counted in a 2016 Regina shelter-census, conducted between 8 and 11 pm on March 7 also by the YMCA’s Homeless Partnering Strategy.

Don’t be fooled by these numbers into thinking that Regina’s homelessness problem is being solved. Given the lack of affordable rental housing, the number of homeless people is almost certainly increasing! As for accuracy, the first figure, 3,401, is the most reliable because it is the result of a year-long, rather than two or three hour, count.

ENOUGH COUNTING! Last week saw the launch of yet another count, this one being carried out by the YWCA as part of a national 20,000 Homes Campaign. This time the goal is “to create a city-wide registry of homeless individuals.”

COUNTS COST MONEY! We already know that homelessness has reached crisis proportions in Regina. The city’s shelter system is filled to capacity. People are living in tents.

Rather than spending more money on yet another count, let’s put that money toward providing homeless people with permanent, decent, affordable housing!

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA 

ELECTION PROMISES

During the municipal election, Mayor Michael Fougere stated: “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!

HOUSING FIRST

The Mayor’s preferred solution seems to be Housing First, a federally funded program that requires no input from the city. While Housing First is part of the solution to homelessness, it will not, on its own, bring an end to homelessness.

  • Housing First is aimed at a narrow category of people—those who are chronically homeless—and leaves everyone else who is struggling with housing out in the cold.
  • Housing First only has the capacity to house a few dozen people because of funding limitations.

SOLUTIONS

The City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems. That will require federal and provincial input. There are, however, measures the city can take that will go some way to addressing our city’s homelessness crisis. Here are two of them:

  1. Require developers to include a certain number of affordable rental units in their plans or pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  2. Work with the business community to purchase Sears Warehouse, and, with the help of NGOs and volunteer citizens, convert it into affordable rental housing.

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY: NOVEMBER 22

November 22 is National Housing Day. First recognized in 2000, it is a day for taking action to end homelessness in Canada.

TAKE ACTION FOR NATIONAL HOUSING DAY:

  • Hold Mayor Fougere accountable. Let him know you want him to keep his election promise to make ending homelessness in Regina a top priority: mayor@regina.ca or 777-7339.
  • Also let your City Councillor know you want City Council to take concrete action to address Regina’s homelessness crisis:

Ward 1     Barbara Young            byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2     Bob Hawkins              bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3     Andrew Stevens         astevens@regina.ca

Ward 4     Lori Bresciani              lbrescia@regina.ca

Ward 5     John Findura               jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6     Joel Murray                 j.murray@regina.ca

Ward 7     Sharron Bryce             sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8     Mike O’Donnell          modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9     Jason Mancinelli          jmancine@regina.ca

Ward 10    Jerry Flegel                  jflegel@regina.ca

 

 

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