On December 23, 2012 I participated in the Idle No More Flashmob Rounddance at Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville, Michigan. At the time, I was protesting the treatment of my Anishinabeg relatives in Canada who were dealing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his bundle of 8 bills he is trying to pass, including Bill C-45 which violate the human rights of Canada's First Nations and the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and treaty rights. (The following breakdown of the bills is found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/117686499/IdleNoMore-Webdocument ).
Bill C-45 - Jobs and Growth Act (Omnibus Bill) :
*****************(Update: This bill passed into law in December 2012)********************
In addition Bill C-38 passed in December as well which removed protections of most waterways and streamlined environmental reviews.
1.) Land Surrenders
*First off this bill prevents the First Nations people and the Grand Council Chiefs from presenting their views of any amendments.
* This changes the Indian Act without consultation nor approval of the First Nations communities.
*This bill lowers the threshold for the surrender of First Nations lands.
*The Prime Minister will now have the power to call a meeting to ask First Nations Communities to surrender lands. If a majority (Five band members and three of those five vote yes) vote to surrender First Nations Reserve land, there will be no recourse or redress for the First Nation's band members / community/chiefs. The Prime Minister can expedite this and the First Nations Chiefs and community members will have no say in it.
2.) Navigable Waters Act
* The Federal government vacates the responsibility and jurisdiction of the waters, parks, fisheries and the responsibility to consult with First Nations and abide by treaty rights over to the Provincial government. This allows the Federal government to remove their responsibility to honor Treaty Rights and Treaty Territories - to open up lands... knowing that the Provincial government is free to do whatever they want. This allows the Provincial government to "unlock" treaty areas and have more expropriation powers over the fate of First Nations.
Bill C- 428 Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act
*This Act removes Indian Act Provisions with no consulting with First Nations Communities or their leaders.
Removes Indian Education provisions without prior informed consent of those utilizing the education provisions and without consulting First Nations communities nor their Chiefs.
Removes recognition of First Nations self governance - ability to create band by-laws
- Removes ability of First Nations to pass alcohol bans on their own reserves
-Removes half of Wills and Estates provisions out of the Indian Act (creating a battle between Federal Government jurisdiction and Provincial jurisdiction over First Nations wills and estates).
- Provides for First Nations to accept/reject the repeal, decide if they want to replace it, how, when, and how to transition from the Indian Act provisions.
-As First Nations know, the current Indian Act is a hold over of Colonial paternalism, however, it does provide for protection of the following as currently written: Treaty Rights, reserve lands (from Natural Resource rape - mining and oil pipelines / land grabs /sales). If it is repealed the result will be open season on reserve lands for corporations land grabs/mining/ rape of the earth.
Bill S-2 Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
-Does not recognize First Nations sovereignty - First Nation by-laws already passed that deal with matrimonial interests/ family homes.
-The Act would open up land / homes being owned by non native persons. (Note: A high rate 80-90% of native marriages are to non native people on some reserves. Also reserve land only makes up .2% of the land base of Canada).
-A judge may rule in favor of giving land/house to non native person without notifying the First Nation, without evidence, charge nor arrest.
Bill S-6 First Nations Elections Act
-Makes it a crime for First Nations community members to protest problematic/illegal elections on their reserves. Offenders will be required to serve jail time and up to $5000 in fines.
-Provincial jurisdiction over First Nations election protestors, not Indian Affairs.
-Provides for the Minister of Indian Affairs to make final decisions non based on evidence, that could include passage of a bill that would replace that First Nation's election code and replace current elected officials.
Bill S-8 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
- Requires First Nations to comply with Federal Water and Sanitation standards without funding, and utilizing Federal Sanitation contractors. (No funding means that any repairs of water systems funds must come from Band office operating budgets which lessens social program monies and housing monies).
- Federal government not to be liable for workmanship /repairs.
-Transfers jurisdiction and incorporates Provincial laws on Reserves.
First Nations Education Act
-Incorporates and imposes Provincial laws into First Nations education on reserves.
-Violation of Treaty Education Rights
-The Federal government releases the responsibility to the Provinces to regulate First Nations Education -- This removes Federal responsibilities under Treaties to FUND First Nation Education.
Bill S - 212 First Nations Self - Government Recognition Bill and FNPOA
-Privatization of Reserve lands - break up land into individual parcels (Canada's form of the U.S.'s 1887 Dawes Act -- Read LAND GRAB)
-A First Nation must absolutely and unconditionally surrender all reserve lands and all rights attached to it to the Crown in return for Canada to give you "Federal Title" (Federal Title would be fourth lower on the list of title ownership legality).
This Bill is an attempted land grab and circumvents Duty to Consult and Treaty Rights as well as asking First Nations to hand over their sovereignty.
Bill C - 27 First Nations Financial Transparency Act
-This bill requires that First Nations open up all of their accounting books to the public, if they do not do so their funding will get completely cut off. First Nations realize that this law is a way for the government of Canada to excuse the cuts in funding to First Nations communities and programs.
These bills, if all pass will effect the lives of every First Nations person in Canada, as well as, all of the Canadian citizens and the people of the United States especially in border areas where land and water (lakes, streams, rivers, water basins, swamps) are shared. These bundle of bills remind us U.S. Natives of the Termination and Removal Eras, The Allotment Act (Dawes Act) and the Indian Reorganization Act. If you are wondering why should we care? after all it is just over there in Canada it is not happening here in the U.S. you are very mistaken. Every year new laws and amendments and supreme court cases are passed that affect every person in the country and especially Indian Country. Laws are passed that violate treaty rights here, rape reservation lands for mining/industry/logging profits and damage the environment beyond repair. Many reservations here in the United States do not have safe drinking water because of the mining/industrial pollution.
Besides all the laws that are passed here in the U.S. we need to remember that lines on a map (borders) do not protect you as a human from the pollution happening just a cross that imaginary line. When the Fukashima reactor in Japan melted down, where did that radioactive mess end up? Yes, that is right... right on our North American shoreline. When trash gets blown into gutters and out into the sea... where does it all end up? That is right the Pacific ocean... swirling plastic island of trash. People listen up! We all Red/ White/ Black/ and Yellow people must realize we only have one planet. ONE! Currently the ONLY source of fresh drinkable water in the Whole Universe!! - needed for ALL LIFE on Earth. We are one people, we are the life on the planet, us along with all our plant brothers, animal brothers and fish brothers, we cannot pollute anymore, we cannot take life for granted over a profit that you cannot live on... you cannot be sustained by money which has an imaginary value. Real life sustaining value lies in a clean earth with clean fresh water, clean non genetically engineered plants for us to survive. We can no longer rape the earth or the people of the earth - no more human atrocity people... no more human rights abuses... over "resources - land rape" over the rape of our water.... for profits that you cannot eat or drink.
These laws constitute cultural genocide of a people, they are meant to remove land base, sovereignty, funding, environmental responsibility / protections, and the people's identity as First Nations people or as Nations at all. Join the movement whether you are First Nations, Native American, Canadian, American, or from anywhere in the world.
I am Odawa Anishinabekwe in Michigan and I am Idle No More!