Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 10 - 22, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Weeks of June 10 - June 22, 2008

Corporate Rights Trump Indigenous Rights in Ontario, Canada

In attempts to skirt constitutionally required consultations with First Nations, mining corporations are seeking access to territory by dragging the process through the Ontario legal system long enough to bankrupt cash-strapped First Nations.

Situated about 580 km north of Thunder Bay is Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KIFN; Big Trout Lake). Despite winning an important legal victory on July 28, 2006, in the Ontario Superior Court – a victory that forced Ontario mining exploration company Platinex Incorporated to cease drilling operations in the territory claimed by the Cree community of 1,300 – KIFN eventually found itself, according to its press release of April 9, $700,000 poorer. Moreover, Platinex had been granted a court injunction permitting it to drill on KIFN land and forbidding residents to obstruct the company’s operations.

KIFN has withdrawn from the judicial route and stressed the necessity of a political solution. The First Nation is concerned about the impact mining operations will have on their treaty-guaranteed traditional way of life – hunting and fishing – which is dependent upon the health of the environment. Read the rest of the article here....

Indigenous People's Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation through Traditional Knowledge

Nature has always been very vibrant, giving and resilient to a very large extent. We, as Indians, take pride in our strong cultural heritage. Religion protects and nurtures nature. If we take a look at Hinduism, we worship the sun, wind, land, trees, plants, and water which is the very base of human survival. Likewise, respect and conservation of wildlife — garuda, lion, peacock, and snake — are part of our cultural ethos from time immemorial. Almost the entire living of God Ram and Goddess Sita was very close to nature. Further, ancient texts written in Sanskrit, Pali or other languages can provide significant details. For instance, the scripture Vishnu Samhitâ in Sanskrit language contains some direct instructions dealing with biodiversity conservation.

In fact, whole civilizations have come into existence near sources of water like Indus Valley Civilization. In this sense, nature and culture become intertwined. Culture reflects our history, tradition and our beliefs. Revolutions in the technological and communication fields and the advent of globalisation have made an impact on our culture which have also evolved with time. However, it becomes imperative that we adapt new things without losing the basic character of our long cherished traditions and values which include environmental conservation. India is a culturally rich and diverse country where people speak many different languages, with many communities which live in their respective social structures completely depending on their environment to ensure their livelihood. Read the rest of the story here....

In Canada AbitibiBowater Chainsaws Stop at Grassy Narrows First Nation

The giant paper and forest products company AbitibiBowater has decided to "temporarily" stop logging on the traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The decision comes after decades of lawsuits and peaceful protests by the people of Grassy Narrows, including the longest standing logging blockade in North America.
The tribal actions were taken in an effort to protect the 2,500 square miles of forests, lakes and rivers north of Kenora, Ontario that comprises Grassy Narrows traditional territory.

Last October, AbitibiBowater was formed as a merger of Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. of Quebec and Bowater Incorporated of South Carolina. AbitibiBowater is the third largest publicly traded paper and forest products company in North America and the eighth largest in the world. Read more here....

Canadian Government Apologizes For Abuse of Indigenous First Nation People

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a long-anticipated apology yesterday to tens of thousands of indigenous people who as children were ripped from their families and sent to boarding schools, where many were abused as part of official government policy to "kill the Indian in the child."

Harper rose on the floor of a packed House of Commons and condemned the decades-long federal effort to wipe out aboriginal culture and assimilate native Canadians into European-dominated society. "The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly," Harper declared. "We are sorry." Read more of the story here....

Québec Native Women's Association Responds to Harper's Apology for Residential Schools

The Québec Native Women's Association has called upon the Canadian government to acknowledge that residential schools were an act of genocide.

Statement by Quebec Native Women's Association/Femmes Autochtones du Québec
Re : Government of Canada's Residential School Apology

June 11, 2008, Kahnawake

Quebec Native Women recognizes the Prime Minister's official apology concerning the genocidal experience of Aboriginal people in the history of the Residential School system. While the apology to Aboriginal peoples is long overdue it is contradicted by the oppressive policies of the Indian

The heinous crimes committed against Aboriginal children who were victims and survivors of the Residential School experience must be dealt with beyond mere apologies and monetary compensation.

The damages to our languages, well-being, social and political structures, and sexuality caused by Residential School, demands attention. The policy of assimilation through the Residential Schools system constituted a war against an identifiable group of people. Read the rest of the response here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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