'Nation to Nation'? Indigenous people and the Trudeau government

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


Moving beyond the Indian Act?

The federal government recently announced it will split Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada  into two departments: Indigenous Services, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Trudeau said the move demonstrated “that we are serious about taking the right steps to move beyond the Indian Act.”

But the announcement signals only one thing to me: Our aspirations to decolonize as Indigenous peoples will be met with ongoing federal attempts to recolonize us, all part of the centuries-old Crown goals of “Indian” assimilation and the termination of collective Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Today’s recolonization will likely unfold on two tracks.

First, section 91(24) of the Constitution, which states that the Crown has jurisdiction over “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians,” will be used to impose national standards on the lives of Aboriginal peoples living on reserve through federal legislation, as has already been done with the First Nations Land Management Act, for example. With these laws, the Crown continues to set the parameters for how First Nations peoples are to live on their land, even once they opt out of the Indian Act.

Second, modern section 35 land claims and self-government agreements will be manipulated to modify, convert and extinguish the inherent sovereignty of First Nations. More self-government agreements will be signed with bands formed under the Indian Act. The political effect will be to convert these bands into a kind of ethnic Indigenous municipality rather than self-determining nations. Outlining a contingent set of rights through these agreements, rather than acknowledging the inherent right to self-determination, will in effect empty section 35 of any real political or economic meaning.

This is what I see Canada becoming without the Indian Act.

This outcome is not fair or just, and I predict the federal approach will lead to more conflict between Indigenous peoples and Canada. Remember that the modern high-profile conflicts between First Nations and Crown governments were led by grassroots Indigenous peoples, and not Indian Act band councils: Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake, Burnt Church, Grassy Narrows, Caledonia and Elsipogtog.

The alternative approach to the Trudeau government’s law and policy review for development of new federal legislation would be for Indigenous peoples to select representatives to sit at a First Ministers’ Conference or constitutional conference to discuss implementation of UNDRIP, especially the articles on recognition of Indigenous self-determination and redistribution of stolen Indigenous lands, territories and resources; the agenda must include more than just dependency on federal fiscal transfer payments and federally designed programs and services. The selection of Indigenous representatives should be in accordance with article 18 of UNDRIP:

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. [emphasis added]

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Mercenary colonialism: Third-party management

Debt is still a powerful weapon used against First Nations

Despite all the rhetoric, debt is still a powerful weapon used against First Nations.

The 0.2% economy is managed in Ottawa. But when things go wrong on reserves, as Arthur Manuel describes in Unsettling Canada, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs comes wagging its finger at the chief and council with ominous hints of “irregularities” and the need for “transparency.”

These insinuations are directed with a purpose. Financial corruption exists but is not widespread on reserves. INAC knows this well because band budgets are carefully scrutinized throughout the year and rigorously audited on annual timetables.

Rather, as Manuel writes, the financial problems lie elsewhere, “invariably caused by the system itself, which forces First Nations to try to satisfy the basic needs of their people with a budget that simply cannot cover them.” The “starvation wages” allocated by Ottawa are barely enough to keep people alive without running a deficit.

This is where the trouble begins. Bands need a surplus to pay off debts. But when you borrow against an insolvent future, this leads to deeper debt — which leads straight into the federal Default Prevention and Management Policy and its three-level approach to debt management.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Warriors Remove Illegal Anti Salmon Spawning Nets (video)

On October 30, Wild Salmon Warriors attended the DFO public consultation on Wild Salmon Policy  

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Indigenous children are crying out for help in Canada. Will you hear them?

In a country as great and strong as Canada, there are some things that just should not be.

Some things that have for far too long gone unspoken in the national social narrative that we have constructed about ourselves.

Canada, a country that takes in the war-torn and weary. A country always willing to lend a hand to its neighbours. A country that embraces and loves those whom other countries have ignored.

We weave this elaborate tale about ourselves, that we are a country of tolerance, of hockey sticks, of Tim Hortons doughnuts and great hope.

How is it then, that this great country has ignored the children living within its very own borders — the children who feel such a loss of belonging to anyone or anything that they can see no future. The children who choose suicide instead.

The youth suicide rates for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are beyond comprehension, so wildly high it is almost impossible to process. The headlines of children dying by their own hands keep screaming at us from every corner — from Wapekeka to La Ronge, Saskatchewan to Rankin Inlet.


Today and culminating in September, I am going to bring you stories and voices from across many nations that will try to answer that question on the path toward healing.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

I've never experienced much tolerance in Canada. It's your way or the doorway. Left, Right, or Centre. No flexibility. No willingness to consider new options. Just skip over which causes cognitive dissonance. Keep carrying on with rash assumptions and questionable, unproven premises. Always attack, never consider.


Art Manuel Letter to AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde:

"George Manuel warned his successors to be careful not to be trapped in Ottawa. Because at the AFN, you will be paid a good salary and you will be invited to good parties. You will meet many sincere and well meaning and indeed charming people.  They will treat you with genuine even exaggerated respect.

They will offer you some goodies for yourself and for our peoples. And all that they ask in return is that you are 'cooperative' with their administration that rests on the theft and exploitation of the lands of our people and our ancestors. They want you to be reasonable and not ask them to give back what was taken.

But of course if you listen to them, if you are reasonable, you are selling out our peoples because it is our land they have stolen our futures they have blackened. Our children who they are locking up in their jails and driving to suicide in record numbers.

Our land, Perry, is not yours to surrender and it is unconscionable to accept under the table goodies in exchange for our land and our future. And what if you defy them, insist they fully respect international law and recognize our ownership of our lands and our peoples' right to self-determination?

Well, you will see that the funding that you rely on for your six-figure salary and staff and comfortable office and invitations to their parties and trips will dry up so fast it will make your head spin. You know this because it is finally our enemy who funds you and your organization. These are the types of issues the national chief must deal with. You must decide to fight the sharks who stole our land or to swim with them.  For decades now our national leaders have swum with them and often in the end become them.

All of our national leaders in the past 25 years have used the position of national chief as a springboard to personal corporate and Canadian rewards while our people continue to languish in poverty and despair. We are watching you, Perry, and willing to help. If you are passing through Secwepemc territory, please feel free to stop by and share a meal with us. We will feed you and remind you whose interests you are supposed to be serving."


Rev Pesky

How can it be 'nation to nation' when Canada insists on enforcing the settler Charter of Rights on indigenous national territory?:

Marry out, get out policy

Quebec Superior Court has struck down part of a controversial membership law in Kahnawake, Que., saying it violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Thomas Davis determined the rule — which requires residents of the Mohawk reserve to move away if they marry a non-Indigenous person, as well as suspending their other membership entitlements — discriminatory based on social status.

​...In a statement, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) said its legal team is reviewing the judgment, which came down Monday, and will present a report to the chief and council on Thursday.

"Obviously, we maintain the position that matters that are so integral to our identity have no business in outside courts," stated Grand Chief Joe Norton.

...Joe Delaronde, spokesperson for the MCK, said many people in the community are also upset the issue went to an outside court, when they have voiced their opinion "loud and clear" on the policy for almost 40 years.

"No one says you can't marry who you want. All it says is if you do that, you can't live on this territory," he said.

​...In 2010, the band council began sending out eviction letters. Some plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they were cut off from access to services in Kahnawake because their partner is not Indigenous.

Others say they were the targets of violent protests or shaming on social media, and that mixed-race children were referred to as "half breeds" and were denied funding to go to school.

​...The lead plaintiff in the case is Waneek Horn-Miller, who grew up in Kahnawake.

..."I believe strongly that my community is a place full of loving and caring people, and I don't believe we inherently act this way, I think it's something that's been a learned process, the impacts of colonization."

I guess the question is, should reserves be a  Charter free zone? Is it possible to be a nation without having a right to decide who can become a citizen?


Which UN member states ban mixed-race couples from living there, in 2018? Off the top of my head, I can think of Israel and Saudi Arabia, but I'm sure there are others. Is that the illustrious company Kahnawake wants to be in?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Is it possible to be a nation without having a right to decide who can become a citizen?

I think that's the question to ask. 

Which doesn't imply support for the old law, nor support for a non-Indigenous court striking it down.  But I think it comes down to the rights of a nation.


Perhaps if Canada and Quebec stopped stealing Mohawk lands for condos and golf courses, reducing the rez to an impossibly small size for its residents, this situation would not have developed.

In any case, the Mohawks were and are a sovereign Indigenous nation, and long before the  colonizers came. Even the colonizers' accursed progenitors agreed not to interfere in such matters. Both the Two-Row Wampum and Royal Proclamation are quite clear on the parmountcy of the non-interference principle. Subsequently trashed and repeatedly violated by Canada and Quebec, this international law  still stands.  This is for Mohawks to decide, and only Mohawks, not the  illegitimate and ill-intentioned courts of a usurping settler-state.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Good points, NDPP.

Perhaps not a completely parallel situation but similar. Quebec was very afraid of losing its language and culture (as are many First Nations) and so they introduced Bill 101, which was considered draconian and anti-democratic by many in and outside the province. However, given the invasiveness of US culture and the dominance of English language, they managed to preserve their language use and build a very vibrant and prosperous cultural sector.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quebec was very afraid of losing its language and culture (as are many First Nations) and so they introduced Bill 101, which was considered draconian and anti-democratic by many in and outside the province.

Did the bill also protect any Indigenous languages?  Or just one of the two "Settler" languages?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I'm talking about the tactic, Magoo. As far as I know there are no provincial, terretorial or federal laws or policies protecting Indigenous languages. And it's a damn shame.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..24 min report

APTN Investigates: Racism in the Ranks

After seeing racist Facebook posts by RCMP members, a former Mohawk police officer is just one voice calling for public accountability on how the RCMP handles misconduct like racism.

“Not having any transparency around these kinds of investigations and issues, it’s problematic,” said Larry Hay.

He’s a private investigator now, but Hay was an RCMP officer for 19 years. He also served as the police chief on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario, which is where he’s from.

“It never comes to the fore,” said Hay. “Indigenous people have a right to know what action is being taken.”

“Any lack of transparency to police discipline matters at the federal level for the RCMP is a function of a cover-up culture,” said prominent human rights lawyer, Julian Falconer.

“At the provincial level, these are public hearings. So there is no actual privacy reason. It’s complete crap.”

Last February, APTN News broke the story of racist social media comments by an RCMP officer who posted that Colten Boushie, the 22-year-old Cree man shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, “got what he deserved.”

APTN Investigates has now discovered dozens of racist comments about Indigenous people in a different, secret Facebook group for RCMP members only.

It’s not a site managed by the RCMP, but it has close to 10,000 members.


"PMJT arriving to sell his false reconciliation legislation to the chiefs and Perry Bellegarde re-election Assembly. Hand-picked Chiefs selected by AFN to ask PMJT softball questions - AKA A Farce: an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding or situation."


Looks like Canadian democracy to me...

Rev Pesky

From NDPP:

This is for Mohawks to decide, and only Mohawks, not the  illegitimate and ill-intentioned courts of a usurping settler-state.

So who qualifies as a Mohawk?

Rev Pesky

From epaulo13:

APTN News broke the story of racist social media comments by an RCMP officer who posted that Colten Boushie, the 22-year-old Cree man shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, “got what he deserved.”

I'll just point out that the comment, by itself, is not racist. 

Rev Pesky

Some clarification on who qualifies as a Mohawk from the Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, Serge Simon:

Fake Indian

"These are not native people with a little non-native blood. These are non-natives, with just a little bit of native blood. There's a difference."

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

If it comes down to analyzing blood then we're going to have to deal with new "octaroons".

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Nations get to decide who their citizens are based on whatever criteria they choose.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..a most important 33 min podcast.

PO Podcast 58 - Canada’s surveillance of Indigenous movements

Canada’s surveillance of Indigenous movements, a Policy Options podcast. From the fight against the Northern Gateway pipeline to the anti-fracking protests involving Elsipogtog First Nation and the Idle No More movement, Canadian surveillance organizations have kept close watch of Indigenous resistance movements over the past decade.

Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan, authors of Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State, joined the podcast to discuss why the government monitors Indigenous social and environmental movements. They say this surveillance characterizes land and water protectors and other activists as security threats, delegitimizing the actions of Indigenous rights holders.

Andrew Crosby is a coordinator with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at Carleton University.

Jeffrey Monaghan is an assistant professor at Carleton’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.


What You Should Know About The Land Claims Policy That Trudeau Is Not Telling You


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..includes a 4 min video

Lake Babine Nation – Morrison Mine

A proposed high risk mine threatens a pristine lake that sits in the heart of Lake Babine Territory at the headwaters of the Skeena River.

The pit of the proposed Morrison Mine would sit less than 100 metres from the east shore of T’ak Tl’ah Bin (Morrison Lake), which offers spawning and rearing grounds for plentiful and genetically unique sockeye salmon. In 2012, a hydro-acoustic survey estimated the sockeye fry population in T’ak Tl’ah Bin to be approximately 1.4 million.

As part of its normal operations, Morrison Mine would discharge treated mine effluent into this lake, in perpetuity.  The impacts of a major accident or malfunction could be catastrophic for the sockeye and other fish populations. As such, the Morrison Mine poses an unacceptable threat to the Nation’s primary resources, way of life, and identity.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Relevancy of AFN and election of National Chief put InFocus

The election of the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is two months away but does it really matter who wins?

Lawyer Rachel Ann Snow said that the AFN needs to spend more time listening to the grassroots.

“All we see are opulent meetings in places the grassroots can’t afford to get in,” she said. “And there’s discussions happening that are relevant to our future and to our children.”

The upcoming election and the relevancy of the AFN were put InFocus on Wednesday with host Dennis Ward.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

B.C. First Nation launches first ever case to extend Aboriginal title to ocean

A First Nation embroiled in a fight against salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago is taking the battle to a new level by filing a claim of Aboriginal title in B.C. Supreme Court.

The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, whose main reserve is Kingcome Inlet, is claiming that tenures granted by the province to several companies are not authorized because they are in Aboriginal title areas.

The claim affects 10 fish farms, most of which have licences that expire next month, meaning the province must make a decision whether to renew those licences in the face of the title claim and sustained protests by First Nations. The claims also affect some forest tenures, but they are largely inactive.

The title claim is unique as it includes water as well as land, said lawyer Jack Woodward, who is representing the First Nation.


The case could take years to get through the court system, but it will inevitably put pressure on the provincial government and Woodward said other interim measures are likely if the licences are renewed.

“It is likely that there will be some sort of preliminary procedure, whether an injunction or a judicial review of the procedure. It will depend how the decision is made. It is likely the case will form a platform or foundation for pre-trial proceedings,” he said.

The decision to claim Aboriginal title was made after community meetings, followed by a unanimous vote, community member Lindsey Willie told The Narwhal....

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Lheidli T'enneh First Nation votes no to government treaty

Members of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation in north-central B.C. have voted against a treaty that would have provided them with land, resource rights and the power to self-govern.

The proposed treaty with the federal and provincial governments was rejected Saturday. If ratified, the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation would have received 4,330 hectares of land, a lump payment of $37 million and resource revenue sharing.

It would have also taken the First Nation out of the Indian Act and established self-government.


'There is no going back'

David Luggi, former chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, which represents several First Nations neighbouring the Lheidli T'enneh, was against the treaty. 

Luggi said the Lheidli T'enneh are entitled to more than 15,000 square kilometres of territory, not just the 4,330 hectares proposed in the treaty.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Blood Tribe seeks massive land claim in Federal Court


The band occupies the largest reserve in Canada, stretching 1,400 square kilometres across the Alberta prairie. It's bigger than the cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal combined.

But the band believes its territory should be far bigger — and it has been fighting the federal government for decades, over lines drawn on a map roughly 140 years ago. Those lines have massive implications today.

Ottawa rejects claim

The First Nation says a town of 3,500 people, several rural communities and even part of a national park are inside the boundaries of what should have been its reserve. If the band wins the fight, it could be in line for compensation of losses dating back to Western Canada's earliest days.

The federal government rejects the claim. Since the band started seeking the land claim in the 1970s, Ottawa has repeatedly argued the Blood Tribe isn't legally entitled to any more territory.


'Unfulfilled treaty promise'

At the heart of the case is the story of how the dominion government settled the west, how rapid development helped give rise to the Blood Tribe's reserve, and how the band became unlikely neighbours with early Mormon settlers.

It's also a story about land surveys, promises, expectations and misunderstandings.

"This trial is about an unfulfilled treaty promise made by Canada to the Blood Tribe," Gary Befus, one of the band's lawyers, told the court.

The federal government says the current reserve already fulfils those obligations.

"Canada will request that this case be dismissed because, in the end, the evidence will show that the Blood Tribe received all of the land that it was promised and entitled to under Treaty 7," federal lawyer Marianne Panenka said in her opening arguments in Calgary in May.

Treaty 7 was signed years before the Blood Tribe settled on a reserve, but the court case turns on whether the dominion government set aside all of the land the band was legally entitled to under the terms of the treaty.

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Ontario First Nations vote on proposed treaty settlement

Curve Lake First Nation voted on Saturday on whether to accept $164.3 million from the federal and Ontario governments as part of a larger, $1.1-billion settlement for seven area First Nations — a bad deal, two Curve Lake members said, because it puts the money in the hands of a chief and council who haven’t elaborated on their plans for it.

Voting was to go on at the Curve Lake community centre until 8 p.m. The result wasn’t clear by deadline Saturday.


But at least two members of Curve Lake First Nation said they had grave concerns about the deal on Saturday.

After casting their ballots, they spoke anonymously, noting that all members signed a confidentiality agreement barring them from discussing details of the prospective settlement with anyone who isn’t a band member.

They cannot even discuss the deal, member-to-member, in public.

An organizer of the vote asked a reporter to leave the voting-place parking lot on Saturday, saying it was a confidential First Nation matter.

“It’s unbelievable they’ve put a gag order on us like that,” said one of the two members who gave an interview later, at home on the reserve. “And the money shouldn’t go to the chief and council.”


Facts on the ground.

Staggering Number of Indigenous People in Jail is a Canadian Crisis


"To call the number of Indigenous people incarcerated in Canada a crisis would be the understatement of the century..."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

City of Victoria to remove John A. Macdonald statue from front steps of city hall

The City of Victoria is planning to remove the statue of John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, from the front steps of city hall because of what it says is his role as "a leader of violence against Indigenous peoples."

Council will be asked Thursday to endorse the decision of the City Family, a group created by the municipality last year to address issues of reconciliation, to have the statue removed on Aug. 11.

"It's been a year of discussion and deliberation, and we realized it's going to be many years of reconciliation," said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. 

"One of the things we heard very clearly from the Indigenous family members is that coming to city hall to do this work, and walking past John A. Macdonald every time, feels contradictory.

"And if the city is serious about reconciliation, which I would say we are, then one important thing we do is temporarily remove the [statue] from the front steps of city hall."

Katie Hooper, executive director of the Esquimalt Nation, applauded the decision in a letter to the mayor.

"Removing this statue is an important step in the city's reconciliation journey, and is a symbol of progress towards and end to discrimination and oppression," Hooper wrote....

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I applaud this move. Of course, blow hard Jason Kenney was on his fog horn lambasting the Victoria government for making this move. In my books, that just underscores how absolutely correct the move was.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


Jason Kenny says Kinder Morgan protesters are Russian bots.

 2 people, text

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The thing about Sir John A. is he has absolutely nothing to do with Victoria. I am not even sure that he even visited the city.  His policies though left a terrible legacy for both the indigenous community and the Chinese community. Although I am sure that BC's racists were the people who convinced him to pass the Head Tax. The same BC politicians who stripped the majority of voters of their right to vote as soon as they signed on to Confederation and stopped being governed by British law. We even had a Chinese Mayor pre-Confederation but after 1874 he wasn't even allowed to vote.

Melt the statute down for scrap.


'Reconciliation' and Recolonization

"The cost of consent of the Final Solution to Canada's 151 year old Indigenous colonization project..."



Canada is Sending a Generation of Indigenous Children to Jail


"Canadians should be shocked to learn that nearly 50% of youth in Canadian jails are Indigenous. Words aren't enough. Concrete steps must be taken to rectify the issue..."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Sir John A Macdonald: Scotland disowns Canada's first PM

References to Glasgow-born Sir John A Macdonald have recently been removed from Scotland.org sites.

The change comes amid an ongoing debate in Canada over his legacy and how he should be remembered.

In the late 19th Century, Macdonald's government initiated the creation of the residential school system.

For over a century, starting in the 1800s, more than 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to state-funded boarding schools, where children were forbidden to speak their language or practise their own culture. Some students died, many children experienced abuse.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Scottish National Party-led government confirmed it had removed articles on Sir John A Macdonald from the websites "following the legitimate concerns raised by Canadian indigenous communities about his legacy".

"While we want to celebrate the very positive contributions Scottish people have made across the world we also want to present a balanced assessment of their role and are reviewing the wording of these articles in that light.".....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..warning some graphic descriptions of violence.

Cindy Gladue hearing to shine spotlight on questions about racism in Canada’s courts

Twenty-six times, at the trial of the man who acknowledges causing her death, Cindy Gladue was referred to as a “native,” “a native girl,” or “native woman.” Witnesses, a defence lawyer and the prosecution described her in these race-based terms. And 36 times, she was referred to as a “prostitute” − the trial judge did it, too.

As the Supreme Court of Canada begins its fall session this week, the treatment of Ms. Gladue by the criminal justice system, including the words used to describe her, will be front and centre.

Ms. Gladue bled to death in 2011 after an encounter with Bradley Barton, an Ontario trucker. At his 2015 trial in Alberta, the prosecution sent shock waves through Indigenous communities when it brought Ms. Gladue’s preserved pelvic tissue into the courtroom (with the judge’s permission) to show jurors the wound that killed her. The jury acquitted Mr. Barton of first-degree murder and of the lesser charge of manslaughter, sparking public protests across the country.

More than any Supreme Court case in recent memory, the criminal-justice system itself will be put on trial over its treatment of Indigenous peoples, at a hearing on Thursday....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture