Saturday, May 15, 2021

Debate at Senate, and why not amend Bill C-15 to give definition to FPIC?

I have been watching the debates on C-15 in the House of Commons and the Senate.

Click "show sittings" on the different stages of the bill to read transcripts or watch video.  Please ask if you have never used this site, and have questions.

Some of the most interesting discussions are happening at the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Study dates so far (click on webcast image to watch video):

 

Most of the witnesses have been Indigenous.  They represent a wide variety of Indigenous perspectives from coast to coast, and into the north.

Most want the bill passed quickly so this policy won't be delayed again as happened when the bill had the C-262 number. This includes some witnesses that submitted amendments to the House of Commons that were not included.

Some witnesses have amendments that are a condition for their support, and a few want the entire process scrapped and start over.

Listening closely to the testimony, the primary division is what I've observed over the last few months of debate on social media.

  • Those who believe that C-15 is a government initiative, oppose it because the government is untrustworthy.
  • Those who believe this is an Indigenous initiative exerting pressure on Canada, support it because the government is untrustworthy.

 

I would have to listen to the many hours of testimony again, but I don't remember a single Indigenous person offer an opinion that suggested they trusted the government of Canada. This is regardless of which political party is in power, as this isn't a recent or a partisan issue.

I think it is important for fellow settlers to watch these videos, and listen closely to learn a more honest version of Canada.

See also: Who is, and isn't, behind UNDRIP and Bill C-15 in "Canada".



There is one common question/statement made by settler special interests I want to address.

Why not amend C-15 to give definition to FPIC?


The rhetoric around this question is ...ummm... interesting.

Some in the House of Commons and Senate will talk about the "mixed messages" around the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and how most "elected" chiefs supported it while "hereditary" chiefs did not.  They are trying to imply that democracies wanted it, but scofflaws were opposed.



All the bills I've seen to start the process to change laws to conform to UNDRIP include a verbatim copy of the declaration as passed on 13 September 2007  (Example from the version of the bill tabled in 2008 by Tia Keeper).


UNDRIP articles include:


Article 3
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Article 4
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Article 5
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Article 6
Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.





The so-called "elected" band council system was created by colonial Canada as a deliberate way to disrupt existing Indigenous responsible governments.  Band councils are not examples of responsible governments, and are bureaucracies responsible to the Canadian crown.  The notion that just because there is an "election" that the body must be democratic is false.


I regularly write about how Canada sent in the RCMP to depose the centuries old democratic Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and impose a "band council" that is only responsible to the Canadian Crown.

See also:


The question of who represents Indigenous peoples, and thus who can give consent, was disrupted by Canada.

While there are examples such as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy where the centuries old participatory democracy remains intact, and can take over from the "band council" once Canada properly recognizes it, this is not the case in other circumstances.  Colonialism and ongoing genocide has a huge impact on governance systems, and there are cases where all that remains is the "elected" band council.



The idea that Canada in consultation with Indigenous peoples can or should define FPIC at this point is to ignore (and seek to benefit from) the damage that Canada continues to do.

If the complexity of consent causes some business projects to be denied, then that isn't a bad thing.  That might cause industry to recognize an urgency and also push Canada to finally adequately resource the work required to move forward on the above UNDRIP articles.

It is the Canadian government that created these problems, and it is the Canadian government that needs to fix them.  If anyone has any problems with the uncertainty, please apply pressure against the Canadian government to fix their mess.





Some settlers (British loyalists, or something else) have even asked whether one chief along a pipeline saying "no" is a "veto" against the interests of all the other chiefs?

Switzerland and Austria are landlocked countries in Europe.  Nobody would ask if Switzerland wanted to put in a pipeline whether Germany or Italy had a "veto" in not letting Switzerland put a pipeline in another country.

Built into this question is their belief in the supremacy of the British created colonial governments of Canada, and the idea that these governments should be able to "veto" anyone else's views and impose their own.


I for one am not a British loyalist, and do not presume the supremacy of any of the British created colonial governments.  Canada should not have a "veto" when walking into negotiations with other nations they have treaties with.  This is especially true of places like BC and Quebec where Canada has been so disrespectful of human rights they didn't bother with a treaty.

Canada should never believe they don't need to get consent, and can just impose their will (with the barrel of a gun) if they don't always get their way.

In one case someone actually said out loud that Canada should impose restrictions on the structure of the self-governments that Indigenous nations are allowed to create for themselves.

Yes, that is something else.


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Why I don't believe Alberta is bullied by extractive industries such as Big Oil

Over the years I have read many articles discussing how people believe the province of Alberta has a cycle of abuse with Big Oil.


Until recently I agreed with this sentiment, that Alberta is the victim of an abusive relationship with extractive industries such as Big Oil.

Since my anti-racism training lead me to a different understanding of Canada, and a more unbiased understanding of its history, I now have a very different perspective.


Canada was created unilaterally by the passage in the British Parliament of the British North America Act 1867 to effectively be a corporate subsidiary of Britain, to be part of the British Empire, and to provide cheap resources to the empire (affirmative action for Whites and all that). It was never created to be a democracy, or to think independently.  It retains pretty much all of the British systems which were unilaterally imposed on this homeland.


The British Parliament passed many laws called the "British North America Act" between 1867 and 1964 (only 4 years before I was born).  Up until the passage of the Canada Act 1982, British law was automatically Canadian law, and the British Parliament could pass any laws it wanted to enforce in Canada. It was an Act of the British parliament in 1949 which added the Orwellian doublespeak titled "New Found Land" to "Canada". (George Orwell's 1984 was published in 1949).




Alberta was unilaterally created in 1905 by the Alberta Act out of a subset of what the British called the Northwest Territories in order to better administrate colonial expansion (meaning, free land, free resource extraction, affirmative action for whites, etc). It was created by the British corporate subsidiary, not by its inhabitants. Canada did not "buy" Rupert's Land, which Alberta was carved out of, from the Hudson's Bay Company.  The Hudson's bay company only owned an exclusive patent from the British Crown to do business in a region, and didn't own land which they could sell.

see Territorial Evolution, as well as Maps: 1667-1999


This article on farming in the Prairies gives a hint to what has been happening since the unilateral creation of Alberta.

Undermined at every turn: the lie of the failed native farm on the Prairies.


Why believe that it is the oil and gas industry that are bullying "Alberta", when "Alberta" was created as a corporate subsidiary to do what it is doing?

Understood in this context, Alberta was created as a type of permanent foreign worker program, which is quite different than the more recent temporary foreign worker programs.  This workforce was desired in part to replace the existing inhabitants, but largely to create a loyal workforce for extractive industries.  Given the loyalty to British worldviews, laws, and extractive industries exhibited by a majority of the inhabitants in the prairies today, this program was obviously very successful.




People confusing Alberta with a government created by the inhabitants of the region which Alberta claims control over creates confusion as to who and what is really in control.
 

The core problem is that these corporate subsidiaries acting as "provinces" have existed for far too long, and it is time to fold them in a responsible manner (make them pay for the damage they have caused, and the debt they have accumulated) as they are replaced with domestic naturalized (meaning, Indigenous) governance.



From the article:

Industries pay royalties to places where they extract resources, but Alberta’s royalty rates are embarrassingly, laughably puny. On the world stage, no one else on the planet comes nearly as close to simply giving their resources away for free than Alberta does. That’s why Norway has amassed a sovereign wealth fund worth more than $200,000 USD for every single citizen from the sale of its oil reserves — exactly the sort of thing that comes in handy when a crisis like Covid comes along — while Alberta has sold 45% more oil than Norway did over the same time period and still managed to end up nearly $100 Billion in debt.

For the people of Turtle Island to have done what the people of Norway did, this region would need to have been governed by people naturalized to the nations and worldviews of this homeland. Ongoing colonialism doesn't allow that to happen.

As with many problems with "Canada" and its subsidiary governments, I strongly believe that LandBack is the only long-term solution.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Who is, and isn't, behind UNDRIP and Bill C-15 in "Canada".

Many people have drawn conclusions based on the notion that the Canadian government is behind Bill C-15, and thus because the Canadian government has demonstrated itself untrustworthy over generated, the bill also can't be trusted.

Knowing who helped create UNDRIP and C-15 may then help move the next steps forward once this bill is finally passed into law.

Who isn't behind this policy?

Canada (including its provinces) has been an opponent of this policy from the beginning.  The formal aspects of UNDRIP started in 1982 when the Working Group on Indigenous Populations was established, and Canada has been an opponent for the entire 39 years since.

There are individual politicians (Members of Provincial Parliaments, Members of the Federal Parliament, Senators) who support, and they are largely but not exclusively Indigenous. The governments of Canada has been an opponent regardless of which party happens to have formed a government.

The Conservative Governments and party spokespersons are more overtly opposed, using phrases suggesting UNDRIP is merely an "aspirational document" and not part of international human rights norms.

The Liberal Governments and party spokespersons will claim publicly to be supportive, but will do whatever it can do to confuse and delay work towards updating Canadian laws to come into compliance with these finally recognized human rights.

The NDP provincial governments and party spokespersons will also claim publicly to be supportive, but even once similar bills to C-15 are passed provincially as happened in British Columbia, they will actively seek ways to get around the policy.


The governments of Canada do not want to move this policy forward, but are receiving considerable international pressure to do so.  In the long run Canada has no choice, so the only tactic they really have is to delay for as long as possible.

Who is behind this policy?

As I wrote in my brief to the parliamentary committee studying the bill, this process can be seen as dating back to 1923 when Deskaheh, Chief of the Iroquois League, representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, left Canada to go on a mission to Geneva (Switzerland).

Many of those alive today who have been working for decades of their life on this policy have done interviews or participated in forums worthy of listening to. There are many other Indigenous people who have been actively working on this area of policy for decades.


Pam Palmater

Video created from her intervention as a witness in front of the Senate committee studying Bill C-15 on May 10th.


Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners Honourable Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson, and Chief Wilton (Willie) Littlechild.

 
Event hosted by Faith in the Declaration on May 4'th, 2021



 

Professor Brenda Gunn and the Honourable Murray Sinclair

Interviewed as part of the Warrior Life Podcast (April 2021)




Kanienʼkehá꞉ka grassoots warrior and Onkwehón:we rights activist Ellen Gabriel

Interviewed as part of the Warrior Life Podcast (April 2021)




Romeo Saganash


Interviewed as part of the Warrior Life Podcast (January 2021)





Romeo Saganash, Brenda Gunn, and Grand Chief Littlechild


March 2021, Amnesty International town hall


 


 

Honourable Graydon Nicholas

Interviewed as part of the Warrior Life Podcast (Mar 2021)




Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Provided a great summary of Bill C-15 at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre's dialogue on implementing the UN Declaration through Bill C-15.


 
 
 

Leah Gazan

There are so many interviews, and she has her own YouTube Channel where she regularly discusses UNDRIP and C-15.




 
 
 
 
She spoke about her work in this area on an APTN interview in November 2019, before much of the current opposition emerged:
 
 


She also spoke on the One Dish One Mic radio show in February 2021. I highly recommend this weekly Indigenous talk radio show.



Why am I involved at all?


Part of White Privilege is the possibility of living in Canada and being entirely unaware of what this system is.  It is not that the settler-colonial systems of Canada give every white person a hand up, but that the systems aren't designed specifically to oppress what it declares "others" including BIPOC people generally and Indigenous peoples specifically.

I learned about UNDRIP as part of classes I took from the University of Alberta department of Native Studies in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. I continued to learn both from the people listed above, as well as closely listening to the Indigenous critiques. I have no sympathy for the settler critiques of UNDRIP I've heard, which amount to a desire to continue to violate human rights for profit.

In the Indigenous critiques I found justifiable critiques of the Governments of Canada, with the Canadian systems being dishonorable since the British created these systems to be part of the British Empire in 1867.

While reading the bill and the background I did not find evidence that this was policy that the Government of Canada wanted to pass. It is clearly the result of decades of international (including Indigenous nations) pressure against Canada.

I watched many presentations from opponents, and while I learned more and more why none of us should trust the systems of Canada, none of these presentations offered evidence to explain opposition to UNDRIP or C-15 as these aren't Canadian policies.


If anyone is curious, I wrote about how I analyse and why I support Bill C-15, the UNDRIP related bill.

 

Why don't I "stay in my lane"?


One thing opponents have been saying on social media to try to scare settlers into not advocating in support of UNDRIP is to suggest we should "stay in our lane" -- that this should only be a debate between Indigenous peoples.

I am not willing to do this for two primary reasons:

  • Since Bill C-15 was tabled, certain Indigenous opponents have been asking settlers to also oppose C-15.

    In some cases opposition has come in the form of accusing some of the Indigenous people above of being sellouts (or worse).

    Some of these Indigenous opponents are individuals and groups that supported the same policy when it had the earlier numbering of Bill C-262. Bills of the same basic design have been tabled multiple times since 2008, always blocked or delayed by the government of the day.

    I consider it my duty as a settler to ensure that fellow settlers don't incorrectly believe there is a pan-indigenous opposition on this issue, and to point them toward the Indigenous people who have been working for decades on this policy. Settlers rarely understand the diversity within and between Indigenous nations.

  • Since Bill C-15 regulates Canada, not indigenous peoples, this is my lane.

    While some opponents only want settlers to engage if they also oppose C-15, I hope everyone who is aware of all the work that has been done over the past nearly hundred years towards this policy will be engaged.

    I do not want Indigenous peoples to "stay in their lane".

    • Finally getting UNDRIP passed through the general assembly in 2007 was an important step, but not the destination.
    • Finally getting Bill C-15 style legislation passed into Canadian law after the delays of the last 13 years is an important step, but not the destination.
    • This is going to be a long process to amend Canadian law to become less and less an ongoing expression of White Supremacy. This may be the destination for some, but I personally hope this process will eventually lead towards decolonization.

      Misinformation about who is pushing for these changes will only delay this process, to the benefit of the systems of Canada, so it is incumbent upon all of us to learn as much as we can.

 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Brief to The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, for the study of the Subject Matter of Bill C-15

I sent in a brief to the committee for their study on March 25'th (PDF), but it was a bit too long so was asked to send in a more brief brief on April 12'th (PDF, via OurCommons.ca).

I'm merging the footnotes from the earlier version for this blog.

Introduction


This is my ( My name is Russell McOrmond. Full contact information is at http://www.flora.ca/#contact ) first submission to parliament on this area of policy as I previously focused on technology law. I wish to offer myself as an example of a privileged white male who for most of my life was unaware of Canada's record on human rights. I believed what I was told, and now wants what I was told to match Canada's actions.


European worldviews were embedded within the UN's conceptualisation of Human Rights as encoded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I do not believe UDHR was ever universal, and consider UNDRIP a critical step in that direction.


I am aware of opposition to UNDRIP as adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, as well to Bill C-15 which is the current incarnation of a bill to affirm and update domestic law to reduce violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. I disagree with this opposition.

My transition


I was born in 1968 in Sudbury, Ontario, moved to Ottawa to attend university in 1987, and have lived here since. (I acknowledge I have lived on land of an Anishinaabeg nation my entire life, but have never been given the opportunity to be naturalized.)


In 1990 I heard about the "Oka Crisis". I believed if the Canadian governments sent in the police and military that the "protesters" must have done something wrong. Over the years I have learned to question these assumed "truths". I initiated self-directed anti-racism training starting in the summer of 2020. I better understand what happened during the 1990 Kanesatake Resistance, and recognize it as one of many high profile examples of Canada violating the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

(I wrote an article titled "Help stop overt racism and white supremacy in Canada!" that discusses additional examples https://mcormond.blogspot.com/2021/01/white-supremacy.html )

Criticism: Bill proceeding too quickly


The process that eventually led to UNDRIP started in 1923. This is when Deskaheh, Chief of the Iroquois League, representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, left Canada to go on a mission to Geneva (Switzerland). At that time the elder league of nations (Iroquois 6 nations in 1722, and a confederacy of 5 nations possibly since 1142) wanted to address the younger league of nations (formed at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, which later became the United Nations) to have the younger league adequately recognize the elder.

To put this in context, this process started only 18 years after the Dominion of Canada unilaterally passed the "Alberta Act" and "Saskatchewan Act'' in 1905. This has been interpreted to impose a British governance system over areas of land which Canada had purchased an exclusive business patent for from the Hudson's Bay Company. These Acts were to split off sections from what the British had been calling the Northwest Territories.


In response to the attempt to get appropriate international recognition for the Iroquois league of nations, the British subsidiary called Canada sent in the RCMP to depose the centuries old participatory democratic Confederacy Council. Canada installed an "Indian Act" band council which is only responsible to the Canadian crown and not citizens. This is not a Representative Government, and the ongoing refusal of Canadian governments to recognize the Confederacy Council and not fold the band council is in my mind an obvious violation of UNDRIP Article 3.

We can skip to the 1940's when the UN was drafting the so-called "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and how there was a refusal from western nations with their narrow focus on individuality to entertain the idea of protecting "peoples" rather than only "people". Grand Chief Littlechild recently discussed that process during a Town Hall on UNDRIP and C-15 hosted by Amnesty International Canada. ( https://youtu.be/IXh2--pBDdA?t=4435 . This skips to the specific section where J. Wilton "Willie" Littlechild discussed the process. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Littlechild )

In 1982 the UN established the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, the same year the United Kingdom passed the Canada Act 1982. The Canada Act, among other things, finally meant that UK law was not automatically Canadian law. The UK population being twice that of Canada had always meant that UK citizens had more influence over Canadian law than anyone actually living on Turtle Island. While new UK laws wouldn't automatically be Canadian law, the BNA and Canada Acts had already imposed a system based on thousands of years of foreign British history onto Turtle Island.


I don't expect anyone was surprised which countries voted against the UNDRIP resolution in 2007, 84 years after the process began. It is the 4 British colonies where non-naturalised settlers greatly outnumber Indigenous peoples: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States (collectively known as CANZUS).

These colonies are where the human rights violations against Indigenous peoples have been the greatest over a longer period of time. I put this area of policy into an important context with the following percentages of Indigenous populations remaining in regions currently under active colonialism. Colonialism almost inevitably leads to genocide. ( Dr. Kim TallBear indicates we should use the UN definition of genocide, and recognize Indigenous Peoples "Very Clearly" are suffering genocide.  https://www.facebook.com/407570359384477/videos/2226217140832714 )

Uyghuristan
(Xinjiang, means 'new frontier' in Mandarin) 

43.6%

Canada

5%

Australia

3%

New Zealand

17%

United States

2%



Given the Government of Canada was created 154 years ago, and for more than half that time this policy has been discussed, nobody can claim that this policy was "rushed".

Criticism: Canada can't be trusted to honour UNDRIP

I understand this criticism, but still disagree. Canada has been violating human rights since it was created by an act of the British Parliament in 1867. Passing Bill C-15 alone will not stop this ongoing violation.

Concurrent with debating Bill C-15, Canada is engaged in further violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes basic Article 3 right of self determination with Canada trying to restrict Jordan's Principle eligibility to a "status" criteria that is determined by Canada and not Indigenous peoples. I consider what is happening near Caledonia with "1492 Land Back Lane" to include violations by Canada and Ontario of several UNDRIP articles. This document could never be considered a "brief" if I tried to list all the violations of human rights by various levels of Canadian governments that I am aware of.

The hardest concept to understand with anti-racism is the difference between individual race based prejudices and the systems of racism ( The author that allowed me to best understand the difference was Ibram X. Kendi, primarily through his book Stamped from the Beginning. https://www.ibramxkendi.com/stamped-from-the-beginning ). Systemic racism isn't a system which contains racist individuals, but is a system which is itself racist. These are systems where "not racist" individuals will still carry out racist acts simply by obeying the law or following normal procedures or practices.



I don't think of Canada as a place, as this place had names long before Europeans visited.

I don't think of Canada as a group of people. At no time in the past did the inhabitants of this land come together and decide to be called Canada or to form the Government of Canada. A small group of white males in a white minority region of the world decided to ask the foreign British government to pass a law. That law created a subsidiary of the British government, created to be part of the British Empire.

What this means is that Canada is a system, and any attempt to make that system less racist must be focused on that system. Whether specific individuals can or cannot be trusted is entirely separate from the system. Far too many people are focused on individual people in indicating that those people cannot be trusted -- individuals following a system and believing they are individually "not racist". This regularly leads to the logical fallacy known as the Association fallacy (Guilt or honour by association, an ad hominem fallacy).


This bill needs to finally receive Royal Assent, after many incarnations being tabled since 2008 ( I discuss the dates within "How I analyse and why I support Bill C-15, the UNDRIP related bill" https://mcormond.blogspot.com/2021/01/c15-undrip-analysis.html ). This last 12 years is sufficient time for debating the exact wording of the bill. Anyone who has been paying attention to this issue at any level has had time to provide input.

Receiving Royal Assent is not a "Mission Accomplished" moment for Justin Trudeau or the Government of Canada. It is a critical but early step in recognizing the truth about Canada, and work that must happen long before we can start reconciliation. Truth comes before reconciliation, and it quickly became obvious to me while studying this area of policy that Canada and most Canadians have not yet come to grips with truth.

Criticism: Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is too vague


Similar concepts to "Free, Prior and Informed" exist in contact law (mutual consent, contractual capacity, etc). You can't hold a gun to their head or force someone to sign, can't change the terms after agreement, or lie to one of the parties about the contents of an agreement (translations, etc).

What this really comes down to is that some people believe it is legitimate to debate whether there should be a need for consent for activities which are otherwise considered a violation of human rights.


I know of no other human rights that are so callously debated. Nobody would be asking if a "right to life" represented a "veto" for those who wanted to murder (especially for profit).


Is it a "veto" to disallow slavery or torture? What about narrow western notions of property in UN UDHR article 17 (western notions of property being exclusivity without responsibility)?

The context I have heard this debated most often is from individuals or politicians representing industries which wish to continue to violate human rights for profit. I find it disgusting that this conversation persists in the Canadian government, parliament and media.

Criticism: Indigenous Peoples should be consulted on C-15 and have FPIC

UNDRIP was primarily authored by Indigenous peoples, and wasn't authored by Canada. Bill C-15 itself regulates Canada, future Canadian governments, and not Indigenous peoples ( I offer a more extended version in https://mcormond.blogspot.com/2021/02/undrip-regulates-canada.html  ). This criticism is largely an example of the Association fallacy.


I believe this relates to the confusion about what Canada is (a system), where there is a belief that if the Government of Canada (parliamentarians) tables a bill that it must be in the interests of Canada (the system).


Canada markets itself domestically and internationally as a leader in protecting and promoting human rights. Canada rejecting international human rights norms would cause people to recognise this as a myth. Canada really doesn't have a choice if it wants to avoid sanctions against it for being a perennial violator of human rights. While Canada and the USA have Magnitsky legislation, the lack of understanding of what CANZUS countries are doing will likely surprise some when similar legislation in other countries is finally used to sanction Canada.

It makes perfect sense for Indigenous peoples globally to be critical of Canada for delaying affirmation and the process to correct the large body of "domestic" laws which encourage/induce human rights violations. It makes no sense to oppose the bill once it is understood that C-15 is not something the Canadian government wants to do, but is something that due to international pressure Canada must do.

Bill C-15 does not "implement" UNDRIP, the way most people understand the word "implement".

The bill affirms UNDRIP applies in Canada. This is an additional clarification of the status-quo, given UNDRIP should be understood to already apply once it was officially adopted by Canada in May 2016. Embarrassingly, Canada was the last of the 4 original CANZUS objector countries to finally adopt UNDRIP. (Australia 2009, New Zealand 2010, United States 2011)


Secondly, the bill creates a process to amend laws which is "in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples". It is not in passing C-15 where FPIC might be violated, but with a dishonorable government carrying out the process in a way that gets this aspect wrong. This isn't a logical reason to oppose C-15 as this is not where the problem exists, but a reason to be aware that passing of C-15 is the beginning and not the end of a process.



Every time a government representative claims that C-15 "implements'' UNDRIP "in accordance with the Canadian Constitution" they are generating opposition and making it harder to move forward.


Canada is in violation of human rights prior to the passage of C-15, and will still be in violation after. Passing C-15 is about a process, and is not a magic wand that will immediately stop Canada from violating human rights.


Several government representatives discussing UNDRIP in context of Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution speak in a way that suggests the reverse of the non-derogation clause in Bill C-15. That clause is clearly intended to be read that C-15 can not be interpreted in a way to reduce any rights affirmed by Section 35, while UNDRIP is clearly intended to articulate new rights beyond Section 35. Language used by government representatives are being interpreted to mean that UNDRIP is subservient to Section 35 - that the only UNDRIP rights that remain when "domesticated" are those already confirmed by past Section 35 interpretations.

The constant use of the "implement" language, as well as confusion around the relationship between UNDRIP and Section 35, has caused many Indigenous peoples to oppose Bill C-15 due to the mixed messages the government is sending. I'm not sure if generating confusion and opposition is a deliberate action on the part of the government, or part of the ongoing mishandling of this area of policy.


Criticism: Provinces, municipalities, or business sectors should be consulted on C-15 and have FPIC


No.



Trade and other sanctions for ongoing human rights violations will be against Canada. Internal jurisdictional issues may be important to Canada, but are irrelevant at an international level.


This is true in the context of UNDRIP as well as the nation-to-nation relationships between Canada and First Nations. UNDRIP, as well as Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, must always be understood to be at the national level, above the provincial level and beyond internal Canadian jurisdictional debates.

Provinces are creatures of the Government of Canada and/or Britain and should not have a say in whether they will honour internationational human rights instruments. Municipalities are provincial corporations, and as with any other corporation should simply honour international human rights norms or be held fully accountable for any non-compliance. Each level of government should be launching their own process to modify their own laws and procedures to come into compliance with international human rights, and not in any way slow down the federal process.


Businesses which have been profiting off violating human rights should be brought into compliance, or possibly folded as a consequence of continuing for-profit violations of human rights. They should be treated as organized crime. I noticed the witness list and am not sure how organisations such as the "Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers" could have anything fruitful to add to this human rights discussion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Were Adam and Eve voted off the Island?

My self-directed anti-racism training brought me first to studying racism itself (a system, distinct from individual prejudices), to Indigenous studies, to worldviews, and then to religion. I have been struggling with my own relationship with religion since I left Christianity in my late teens.

 

The Abrahamic Origin Story

In Trans-Indigeneity, and a loss or lack of Indigeneity I referenced where/who I was from, and that the Indigenous worldviews of my peoples were long ago replaced by Abrahamic worldviews. In Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building  I discuss how Abrahamic religions all share core worldviews, even if the various splinter groups disagree on specific details. (Christianity split from Judaism, Protestants split from Catholicism, Islam split from Christianity/Judaism, etc).

The book of Genesis writes down the Abrahamic origin story, and from this we can see the core Abrahamic worldviews.  Much of what people think of as western worldviews, including the notion that humans are separable from non-humans (animals, plants, land -- the environment, the planet, mother earth), the patriarchy, and related worldviews can be seen.


Many people globally are trying to do harm reduction in relation to these worldviews, whether that be issues relating to gender discrimination (cisnormativity, heteronormativity, patriarchy), climate change (and related environmental destruction by humans), or colonialism (and the inevitable genocide that colonialism leads to).

It has been my observation that most are uncomfortable discussing any of these issues in the context of religion, as specific interpretations of "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" suggest that questioning the impact of specific thoughts deemed religious is somehow a violation of religious rights.


While titled "The house modernity built", I believe that this is the house that Abrahamic worldviews built.

 


I grew up reading the Christian bible, and heard all the stories. As a quick introduction here is a short summary of the first few chapters 

  • In Genesis 1 the teaching is that humans were created in their god's image, binary male and female, and that they are to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
  • In Genesis 2 the teaching is about the importance of Adam, and Eve as the first humans, and how their god planted a Garden of Eden for Adam, and created Eve to be his helper.
  • In Genesis 3 the teaching is about Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden because of what Eve (the woman) had done.  The pain of childbearing, and the idea that women should be treated by men as property are ongoing punishment for her wrongdoing.


Alternate origin stories

The author of the paper that inspired the blog article discussing my lack of Indigeneity was a guest lecturer last evening. His words offered more food to some thinking I've been having for some time.

What if Adam and Eve were just two people who didn't fit in because of their personal beliefs, and were "voted off the island" (banishment) and sent to live somewhere else?  Adam and Eve (well, most likely just Adam given their beliefs) then spun a story that became the origin story for the peoples of Judea. Those stories became the origin story for all the Abrahamic religions which continue to use conversion and colonialism to spread throughout the globe and replace other origin stories with their own.


In No Island is an Island, Vicente M Diaz included a figure describing the geographic reach of the outrigger canoe technology of his people, describing the distances that they could travel.

 


 

It is suggested that the Abrahamic teachings were first written into the Hebrew Bible in a period starting at about 1200 BCE, so within the 4 thousand years where there has been evidence of travel via the outrigger canoe.

For those people who don't love maps as much as I do, the top-left hand corner is where Judea would have been (now disputed territories between Abrahamic peoples), and the top-right hand corner is the left-foot and part of the tail of Turtle Island, the western part of an area currently called Mexico.

Columbus might have commanded one of the first ships to travel to Turtle Island carrying people with Abrahamic worldviews, and thus people disconnected from place and the peoples of that place. It is totally inconceivable to me that this voyage was the first time Indigenous peoples traveled between Eurasia and Turtle Island.

History of navigation


If seafaring navigation is of interest, as is often the case, wikipedia provides a good jumping-off point to read more. It's important to recognize that all humans have biases, and thus what is written on Wikipedia, as with all human writing, is not "objective".


Is it just me, or does that image make you think of a whale, much like Turtle Island looks like a turtle.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Trans-Indigeneity, and a loss or lack of Indigeneity

As part of NS 115 we were asked to read a paper titled "Oceania in the Plains: The Politics and Analytics of TransIndigenous Resurgence in Chuukese Voyaging of Dakota Lands, Waters, and Skies in Mini Sota Makhoche.” by Vicente M. Diaz.

This was another article that got me thinking not only about the concept of Trans-Indigeneity, which I had never thought to think about before, but also more about who I am and where people like me fit in the larger relational story.


The article discussed two Indigenous peoples who have culture and ways of thinking that can be seen with their connection to canoes. Quoting from the article:

In this article I want to tell a political and cultural story about the effort of one group of displaced Micronesians, from the island of Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, to practice traditional outrigger canoe culture and traditional navigation using stars, waves, and clouds, and sea creatures, but in waters and lands—rivers, lakes, and skyways—of the northeastern plains world of the Dakota Makhóčhe of present-day Minnesota and North Dakota.

 

The canoe aspect of the article brought my mind into my own happy place as I pictured the smaller canoes on freshwater and the larger outrigger canoes on oceans. To say I am a fan of canoes would be an understatement, and I am on the water in a canoe any possible chance I get.

I am not indigenous to these lands, and because of ongoing colonialism have never had the opportunity to be naturalized to this homeland. I may wish this to change, but know that Canada stands in the way of that possibility.

 

I was born on lands of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Ojibway), and in 1987 moved to Algonquin territory. Since learning about this homeland in recent years, I have paid specific attention to the Anishinaabe, Cree and Haudenosaunee peoples. I recognize that there are far more peoples on Turtle Island, but these are the peoples of the part of Turtle Island which I feel connected to as my homeland. I am also aware that many Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island have different names for this continent.

The canoe is not a technology of my people, as where I come from had a very different connection to place.

 

Where and who am I from?

I was born into Canada, a system of ongoing European colonialism.  I believed all the myths about Canada that the government told me to. (See: White people don't pay taxes, get land and her resources for free)

While I was told I was of Irish descent on both sides of my family (with some French in my grandmother's ancestry), this was filtered through the Canadian Multiculturalism lens.

Ireland's available history has been largely created by external influences.

If you draw a circle around the Mediterranean Sea you will see the center of empire building in the Eurasian continent.  Even if we start with the Roman Empire we see conquest outward and northward.  While Ireland was never officially conquered by the Roman Empire, that didn't matter as they were still converted to the Roman religion of Christianity, and thus adopted those foreign worldviews and origin stories.

While those with Abrahamic views try to convince us to separate conquest carried out by "countries" from religion, the reality has been that conquest and conversion has been core to the goals of the largest Abrahamic religions (Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building?).  It has only been by recognizing that some spirituality includes non-interference, while others include conversion and conquest, did I recognize the relationship between religion and politics for specific religions.

The connection between colonialism, conquest, and religion can be seen in Africa where the north was most impacted by Islam while the south by Christianity. Through global conquest Abrahamic religions currently represent 54% of the global population, no religion at 15%, Hindus at 15%, and Buddhist at 7% (See: World Population by Religion)

The meaning of the term "Hindu" has changed over time, at one point referring to any non-Turkic/non-Muslim resident of the Indian subcontinent, with Hinduism reaching back far enough to be considered the Indigenous spirituality. The Buddhism split from Hinduism in the 6th century B.C.E is really what created Hinduism as a separate concept, and the subcontinent has been under threat from and occupation by Abrhamic religions for quite some time (Islamic Mughal Empire, followed by Christian British Empire. India has been officially independent since 1947, governing themselves using a British parliamentary system with ongoing British and Anglo-American influence).


In more recent times, Ireland was under British occupation starting in 1169, with British colonialism starting with its closest neighbors. The last Roman Emperor died in 1453 (Christian battles with Islamic Ottoman empire), and the papal bulls from the Bishop of Rome launching subject of Christian European Monarchs out to conquer and convert other lands were in 1493.


I have been to the places in India where my wife's Hindu parents were born. She knows where she is from, while my ancestors have been on this continent for long enough to no longer have a connection to Ireland. Ireland has been under occupation long enough to have forgotten any of its pre-colonial, pre-Abrahamic indigeneity.

We were both born on and lived on Turtle Island all our lives without ever having been naturalized.

Technoscience

Part of what I like about this class is that the discussion of technology is not limited to human manipulations of nature. What is often called social sciences are understood as a technology.


The technology of the peoples I come from should be obvious from the above description: with all this empire building and war, weaponry and defense will obviously have been a focus. The disconnection from land and the concept of sustainability lead to unrestricted advances in manufacturing -- while depleting the environment. Abrahamic religions taught people (as I was in my youth) in Genesis 1:28 to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

It should be no surprise that when Europeans started trade with Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island that manufactured goods such as guns, metal cooking utensils and cloth would be what Europeans were offering.

Europe has a history with ships as well, but war was as much a part of the use of ships as trade. The connection to water is going to be very different than the two Indigenous peoples in the article.


While the largest wars on Turtle Island were between Europeans (sometimes with Indigenous allies), Turtle Island also saw war prior to European contact. This is obvious to me because you don't have a "Great Law of Peace" (Mohawk: Kaianere'kó:wa), the oral constitution of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, unless there was previously war.

While scholars debate whether the first five nations (Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca) came together in 1192 or 1451, there seems to be consensus that the sixth nation (the Tuscarora) joined in 1722.  This technology, a participatory democracy, is the oldest participatory democracy on earth. This advanced technology of peace is not unique, as this style of technology is deployed in many treaties between peoples including the Two Row Wampum (Gä•sweñta’) and One Dish One Spoon.

While Europeans may not have advanced social sciences enough yet to properly harness these technologies, the technologies nonetheless exist.

 

Who am I?

I don't know.

My personal ancestry tells me about why I look the way I do (skin colour, shape of eyes and face, etc), and growing up in colonial Canada what worldviews were  imposed on me. I am aware of the privileges I have been granted.

That doesn't tell me who I am or how (or if) I have any legitimate relation with this homeland.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

I support several NDP candidates and members of parliaments, but not the party.

I will be attending the online event to acclaim Leah Gazan as the Winnipeg Centre NDP candidate for the next federal election. Since I am yet again offering support for a member of parliament who is in the NDP caucus, I felt it worth discussing my current thoughts  on the NDP.

 

Who I've met...


When I first became political in the 1990's I was partisan, and an active volunteer for the Green Party of Ontario and Canada. I had no interest in meeting or talking with politicians, because -- well -- they all needed to go because they were all bad (and none of them were Green, so that went without saying).

I ended up meeting Hon. Mauril Bélanger because of a mutual friend, not because he was a politician. In 1997 when I moved to the Ottawa South, I wrote him a letter and we started to engage in conversations.  In 1998 I joined the federal Progressive Conservative party to vote for David Orchard.

And thus began my transition from being focused on political parties to noticing that the individual people matter far more than the colour of the team jersey they happen to be wearing.


Wearing the NDP team jersey,  I met Hon. Bill Blaikie in 2002, Brian Masse in 2004, Charlie Angus in 2005 (and many times since), Judy Wasylycia-Leis in 2005, Peggy Nash (few moments at 2006 all candidates debate), Peter Stoffer (over the phone) in 2007, and Kennedy Stewart in 2012.
 

This year I've had a few virtual conversations with past MP Romeo Saganash and current MP Leah Gazan.  I look forward to a post-COVID time when sitting down and meeting in person becomes a reality.


What about the NDP bothers me...

In the before-times, prior to 2020, I had concerns that I couldn't articulate well. The biggest change for me personally in 2020 wasn't COVID-19 but my self-initiated anti-racism training.

I offered some thoughts on the NDP during the 2019 election.

This included a video that talked about the thing that has pushed me away from the NDP the most over the past 30 years, and that is the number of times that someone judged me for as being a "them" rather than part of an "us" because I saw specific issues from a different vantage point. The notion that there is a single objective "truth" about being a good person, and everything else is just wrong (and those people are bad), was thrown at me quite regularly.

I've learned some interesting things about objectivity during my anti-racism training.

Labour movement

In my younger years I was concerned with two areas of policy: technology law, and environmentalism.  In both of these areas I constantly came up against a specific barrier.  What about jobs?

I was constantly told my anti-car and anti-Big Tech (Apple, Microsoft -- this is long before the new players existed) was anti-job and anti-union. While I always recognized that an environmentally sustainable and technologically decentralized economy would actually generate more and better jobs, I took all of this as evidence of why I must strongly be anti-union.

I see unions as a response to Big Employer, and my solution to that problem has been to decentralize.  It continues to feel nonsensical to me that many of the "only buy from union shops" rhetoric, especially in technology, ends up promoting Big Employer to the detriment of their employees.

During my decade involved in Copyright policy there were many organizations that called themselves "unions" (Writers Union, Professional Writers Association, etc) who were fighting in strong support of the very "technological protection measures" which has created new and given more power to the Big Tech companies that have finally shown up on the radar of politicians.  We had been trying to warn them starting back in the 1990's, and these "unions" fought vigorously to ensure that Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft would have as much control over our lives as they do today.


I continue to be proud that I have avoided ever having a union job my entire career. I have been offered jobs at union shops a few times in the last 30 years, but I turned them down and did different works.

Worldviews embedded in environmental policy

This is part of the "what about jobs" question, which I always felt was a distraction given I felt funding retraining was a trivially obvious answer.

With my anti-racism training, I've asked a different question: eco-capitalism, eco-socialism, and decolonization?

Built into western worldviews, which were built upon Abrahamic religious law, is the notion that Human beings are most important (or only) thing in the world. The idea that while nature is not dependent on us, but we are on nature, never occurs to people who ask "what about jobs". To me we must have a good relation with "Mother Nature" first, and that it is everything else that is up for debate.

I've had many friends that are devoted NDP supporters over the years, and I pretty much tune out of the conversation when the "what about jobs" conversation is brought up during a conversation about our relationship with Mother Nature.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

This is the policy area where I've regularly been declared bad person.
 
I don't believe you deserve to drive a car or have cheap energy simply because you are poor. This is a systemic problem, given poverty is a policy choice that governments make.  Suggesting that we must subsidize pollution as a matter of "equity" turned me off from left-wing thinking very early in the 1990's.

I don't believe that we should continue to or increase subsidies to global energy in order that what Europe called "third world" countries can become as "prosperous" as self-numbered First World countries.  I've always questioned the legitimacy of this alleged prosperity, which appears to have largely been extracted through borrowing from the future and stealing from other lands.  I've noticed this rhetoric being used in Climate Change debates by the energy sector, and I've watched far too many on the left allowing their ideology to push them into contortions. 



It wasn't until recently that I have started to form a way to articulate my problem with Canadian style "Diversity and Inclusion".  My first attempt was in: European multiculturalism vs Indigenization as Inclusion, Reconcilliation and Decolonization.

I currently see Canadian style multiculturalism, introduced by P.E. Trudeau, as part of the ongoing erasure of Indigenous peoples.  Culture is defined very narrowly (clothing, fashion, music, dance, and food), while everything else is part of the systems of Canada (government, law, etc).

Canada has two official languages, both foreign. Canada seeks to fund policies to "protect" both English and French which are already protected in England and France, even though there are many domestic languages that need support. I consider the "Official Languages Act" to be part of colonialism and Indigenous erasure, not something progressives should be supporting.

Canada is not a democracy, but a British subsidiary.  Canada is part of a larger system with thousands of years of foreign history, including the adoption of  Christian law.

Within this specific context, diversity and inclusion become successful tools of assimilation into the foreign British (or otherwise European) systems.



In Canada's left the Canadian version of multiculturalism (indigenous erasure) has been extended to multi-religion. This has become a critical problem for the last two NDP leaders who campaigned against Quebec laicity, and thus all the NDP nominated candidates in Quebec.

Many Canadians are focused on the skin colour of the majority of muslims, and consider their opposition to laicity as a form of "I'm not racist".  My focus is on trying to get the Christian cross out of Canadian governments which many consider to be the primary symbol of genocide against Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island.  I've wanted Christianity and all other formal (and now I understand foreign) religions out of government for a long time, and the more I learn about Canada the stronger I feel about that.

In all my years of meeting election candidates and elected members of parliament, by far the most social conservative I met was Monia Mazigh, who the federal NDP nominated as candidate for the 2004 federal election. So many ideas that should offend any remotely socially liberal person are given a free pass as long as they are wrapped in the excuse of religion (especially Abrahamic religions, given Canada was created as a Christian country).


I'm not suggesting that something called "Equity, Diversity & Inclusion" can't be a goal within a different system, but that as they are articulated in Canada they are seriously problematic.


Why Leah Gazan?

I've been watching her speeches in the house, and many other interviews.  While she will sometimes speak to the language that NDP supporters will want to hear, she hasn't yet used the types of language that turns me off.  I don't know much about the Lakota people, but the little I know suggests worldviews that avoid the problems I've had with the Canadian left.

She is also very passionate, and I've not yet seen signs that she is bowing to pressure to conform to the current executive of the NDP.  If anything, the fact that people are calling her the Canadian AOC, and suggesting she might become a future leader of the party, suggests some very interesting possibilities.


Why I like what I hear from Leah is only based on my success criteria.  Yours may be different, and even if you disagree with me doesn't mean you'll disagree with Leah.  It is possible for one person to be complex and thoughtful enough to be able to help move politics forward in a way that people who have very different political views can still agree with.