An Ojibway elder I met during the early Idle no More protests said that Canada’s opposition to the rape of our environment would be enabled through the First Nations and International Law that protects their powerful communal rights. But many laws have been squirrelled into a dozen omnibus bills by our previous Conservative government. They have been left scattered there by Justin Trudeau, who increasingly appears to be an agent of darkness with a phoney aura of light. These laws and amendments have smoothed the path for foreign and domestic developers by removing strong environmental laws that slowed down projects. They also foster the removal of sacred communal rights and pave the way for private individual ownership of pieces of reservation land, sowing the seeds for a clash between those FN who will profit from pipelines as individuals or tribes and those who want to retain the communities’ powerful communal rights to the land.
Our Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is an umbrella organization representing people in 634 First Nation communities and in Canadian cities through 10 regional chiefs and elders who represent local associations. It was used by Harper, and now seemingly by J. Trudeau, to sow dissent and division between tribes and individuals that weakens opposition to development. The AFN is meeting this week. The divisions are becoming quite clear, and those who look deeply into what appears to be “modernization” know that it is rather a divide and conquer approach concealed by crippling underfunding, prejudice/racism and empowered by what I have called “buckshot legislation” by the previous PM, Stephen Harper.
Pamela Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer and activist, brilliantly explained the effects of this widespread destructive legislation. My post, Using Buckshot Legislation to Decimate First Nations Rights, explains what is happening and has links to Palmater’s talks on YouTube.
The encouraging success so far with @noDAPL in Dakota is made possible only by the strength that communal ownership has brought and an increasing appreciation for it by us “settlers.” I hope our AFN meetings will be enlightened by it and press strongly for repeal of the laws that removed environmental protections and set the stage for weakened communal land rights.