How Successive Hypocritical Canadian Governments Disempower First Nations

Using Buckshot Legislation To Decimate First Nations Rights

Pamela Palmater knows how badly First Nations have been treated historically and how small amendments squirrelled away in many huge omnibus bills by PM Stephen Harper have been cynically used by PM Justin Trudeau to divide and conquer – particularly in the current Wet’suwet’en pipeline issue.


Fridays For Future – Toronto


For humans to have a future on Earth we must urgently make some complicated  choices to stop our fouling of the delicate biosphere, which we carelessly “nest” in and share with other living things from the tiniest to the huge.

Speakers we listened to yesterday were mostly young people. They came from across Canada and the Lakota were with us from the U.S.A. Many speakers were indigenous. A lot of chi miigwetches (“big thank yous” in Ojibwa) were heard.

Some speakers at Friday’s “Strike” were a little naïve in statements that listed a whole bunch of things that apparently can and must all be done. Many hard trade offs will have to be made. There will be winners and losers. But we adults had given up trying to stop abusing the planet and have been asleep for decades while the rug was gradually pulled out from under the democratic system. It has happened on our distracted, gadget-smothered watch. We’ve spent way too much time managing our complicated, mostly electronic, “toys.”

While we’ve fiddled like a famous Roman Emperor, our planet has caught fire.

And household recycling, for instance, has become a farcical, shallow, population-fooling exercise. Our cities are afraid to admit how much has been spent on those opaque plastic bins and huge, blind, job-cutting trucks that carry so many “recyclables” that are, by design or circumstance, non-recyclable eventually to dumps. Instead of dealing with the problem, we have used fossil fuels to transport our garbage across oceans to poor countries destitute and/or corrupt enough to accept it.

Single-use plastics, happily not used by those at the Climate Strike for drinks, must be eliminated, not taxed. Our tap water is drinkable, yet Nestlés is raping underground and pristine lake water in both wealthy and poor, thirsty settlements worldwide to put environmentally under-priced water, plain or profitably flavoured and coloured by that corporation, into single-use bottles! Council of Canadians is trying very hard to fight this here. This is a great, doable start.

Anyone who has been in a hospital has seen the mountains of efficient, but polluting, throw-away plastic packages that keep throw-away, plastic-plus-metal medical syringes and other tools sterile. Eliminating these will not help to make or keep free health care for all easy to maintain. Finding our way through complex environmental and economic issues will not be as easy as expressing our goals in attractive slogans. But somehow we must change fast.

One thing Greta Thunberg is right about is that we need awareness, political protest and real sacrifice for these hoped-for changes to become reality. The handful of families that control the world by dominating our Cabinets, Prime Ministers and Presidents can no longer be resisted simply by voting. Humans are becoming glamorous turkeys – just one more exploitable farmyard resource.

So we quickly need to learn to use our backbones and our legs.

Newfoundland 2005.5 – North to St. Anthony


We started this trail to Phillips Garden at Port aux Choix, but bailed when we realized we didn’t have enough time.
Sunday, July 24: Port Au Choix, St. Barbe and St. Anthony

Port aux Choix

From Rocky Harbour the drive north to St. Anthony is 347 km.,  north along the west coast. Our first stop was to visit the Port au Choix National Historic Site. Different again, informative (there is an excellent interpretive centre with many fascinating historic displays, letters and artefacts) and, yes, it’s drop dead gorgeous. We were feeling so uniquely isolated that we decided to try and phone our eldest daughter at our home in Ontario. Success! So cool! Kindly ignore the flip phone…

St. Barbe Ferry Port

We also went off the main road to grab a bite and check out St. Barbe, a little further north, where one takes the ferry to Blanc-Sablon, Labrador.

St. Anthony

Then we drove on to St. Anthony and visited the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Interpretation Centre, dedicated to St. Anthony’s truly great medical missionary, who graduated in Medicine in London, England in 1888 and four years later volunteered to come to Newfoundland. He was recruited by The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen (RNMDSF) to care for the fishermen and communities here. Grenfell’s work expanded to include helping the indigenous peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador. He sometimes traveled in a hospital ship to serve the huge, diverse and far-flung community. By 1914 his mission was world famous and a charitable society, the International Grenfell Association, was formed because of influence from a group of New York businessmen who wished to advance his work. A concise description of the history of Grenfell’s life and of both the RNMDSF and IGF, is given at the above IGF link. Both the British Mission, serving 70 UK ports, and the St. Anthony-based IGF are still going today!

We stayed at the Haven Inn in St. Anthony for two nights. On Monday we planned to visit the Viking Settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Now, there’s a screwed up franglais name for a ninth century Nordic village! So typically Canadian.


Newfoundland 2005.3 – Twillingate

23 Twillingate Early Morn July 22
Twillingate morning stillness, July 22

Thursday, July 21: Twillingate

Drove west off the Bonavista Peninsula and then north through the Terra Nova National Park, 270 km to Boyd’s Cove and its fascinating Beothuk Interpretation Centre. It was then another 40 km to Twillingate.

Map Trin -- Twill

Boyd’s Cove

The Beothuk Interpretation Centre is a fabulous museum near the site of a Beothuk settlement that was visited by the Beothuk from as early as 800 AD until they actually occupied this safe site from 1650 until 1720. They had learned early on that the European fishermen were serious trouble and hid from them as much as they could for centuries. Dependent on fish, they were forced inland to hide, where they hunted caribou, and by the time they occupied this site, with an excellent beach and fresh water from Indian Brook there were only about 3 dozen in this group. When the fishermen left in the late fall the Beothuk would visit two of their vacated camps and collect whatever was useful, including iron objects like nails and fish hooks. This site also provided them with harbour seals, ground fish and migratory birds.

On the large, forested grounds here is a statue of Shawnadithit (1801-1829), the last Beothuk. She, her mother and sister, having endured many hardships from the surrounding British, presented themselves, the last survivors of their people and extremely sick, to a settler. They were taken and cared for in St. John’s where her mother and sister died of TB. She lived for a few more years before dying herself of TB on June 6, 1829, dying while staying in the household of a scots gentleman (a good man with an interest in her, now gone, people), who recorded whatever Shawnadithit could tell him about the Beothuk and made notes on her drawings.

The centre has many exhibits, some in full size displays, films and samples of items found on this site. The trails are also very lovely and peaceful.


Near Twillingate, in Durell,  we found and visited with Melvin Horwood, stylishly written up in the Globe and Mail by Julie Ovenall-Carter just before we flew from Toronto, because he regularly welcomes anyone who stops to photograph his small dock where his boats and fishing equipment, beautifully cared for, are displayed. At the end of the dock is a tiny souvenir museum.  Melvin used to have visitors kiss a cod but, due to the decline in the cod and the moratorium on the cod fishery, he was no longer permitted to fish cod, so Anita was encouraged to kiss a crab instead. She accepted, and Mr. Horwood hauled up a trap on a line by the dock, presenting it to her courteously. He was still doing this, white haired now, in 2016! Twillingate was beautiful. We drove out as far as we good to long point, where there is – guess what – an old lighthouse.

We stayed at Kelsie’s Inn. The next morning I rose before dawn to go for a walk down to the water and take some moody, glassy photos. Later we left for the long drive to the famous Gros Morne area on the west coast.

A Voyage… Of Sorts

PICT0387 4x6 RS.jpegAbove: a project of mine that is almost finished. It may just come in handy…

Ever want to just get away from it all? Things just south of where I live seem to be getting a little dodgy. I’m not following it closely – bad for my health – but I get the impression that we (the entire Planet) are in for a frightening amusement park ride, kind of like being on a rickety contraption that has needed maintenance – no, out-and-out modification – for waaayyy too long. Circumstances beyond our control, such as locked iron bars across our laps, forbid escape, yet we might have avoided the crisis by Continue reading “A Voyage… Of Sorts”

Our AFN and the Dakota Example

Love – Zaagidwin: The eagle that represents love because he has the strength to carry all the teachings. The eagle has the ability to fly highest and closest to the creator and also has the sight to see all the ways of being from great distances. The Eagle’s teaching of love can be found in the core of all teachings, therefore an eagle feather is considered the highest honour and a sacred gift.

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 Continue reading “Our AFN and the Dakota Example”

North Dakota Fascism – A Wake-Up Call?

Bleakness abounds. Politicians with considerable power turn away. Mammon rules with asymptotically growing crudity, cruelty and excess, even without Trump in “power.” No big surprise that American “democracy” is a crock if one’s eyes are truly open to HRC’s portrayal by Wikileaks. We have learned nothing from the fascism of the past and, ironically, we minions who have benefitted from neocolonial atrocities committed upon others around the globe for over a century will, in turn, be ground under.

So wrong on so many levels.

And, President-Elect Trump, the idea of Greatness in the old-fashioned, Roman sense of economic growth and world dominance, is meaningless. In a finite biosphere, growth, as we have known it, is unsustainable. Get over it.

It is time for a Damascene Conversion.

True greatness Continue reading “North Dakota Fascism – A Wake-Up Call?”

Rambling Thoughts On Latin America

José Martí's tomb in Santiago da Cuba.
José Martí’s tomb in Santiago da Cuba.

I have recently read a little about the state of New Mexico and the Zapatista Movement, active since 1994 in Chiapas, Mexico, because of a blogger I deeply respect, Eléctrica in the Desert (see my blogroll) who lives in New Mexico and cares deeply for social justice worldwide and for the people in Mexico and NM close-up. Familiar for many years that the U.S. has trained people from Mexico, Central and South America as well as co-operating, arming and financing these trained killers, I was newly moved when I learned more personally about these particularly close areas. Huffington Post in January ranked New Mexico as the poorest of America’s 50 states. The stats are antiseptic. Eléctrica tells the individual stories of real people.

I’ll be honest: a year ago New Mexico was off my radar – so many things are these days – so much misery to choose from. And Mexico was still, for me, that blasted “newcomer” to the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement that was already a bad thing when Canadian workers with good, secure jobs only had to compete, unfairly, with  American workers. In fairness, all workers in the three NAFTA countries believe that they are losing out to the other two countries. In a way we are all right. We just haven’t really twigged on to who the real winners are. Hint: ask the Occupy Movement, but first check out what Occupy New Mexico is up to.

Now the TPP looms, but I will not ramble that far…

The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is geographically far removed from widespread suffering like that, if we don’t count (and we rarely do) the shameful plight of Canada’s indigenous.

Even working in rural Trinidad, W.I., where I taught between 1965 and 1967, I never locked my door. It was one of the more “prosperous” Caribbean islands because of its oil resources. It is crime- and drug-ridden now, a legacy of the desire to acquire some of the goodies that U.S. television, which was just becoming commonly viewed then, displayed in its popular shows. I saw considerable evidence of similar cravings among the “repressed” people of Cuba we met in our self-guided tour of that inspiring country in 2010.

But, mercifully (no… deliberately) in Cuba, there was almost no crime and no drugs due to the influence that Fidel Castro’s communist regime had over maintaining decorum there. AND…

Because Cuba could not afford to buy pesticides and fertilizer, due to the American embargo, they have led the world in moving to sustainable agriculture.

They grow their own food. What a novel, “backward” concept for today.  God help them as they allow the U.S. more and more influence over their society. They do not realize the price they will pay in disparity for these longed for goodies and “freedoms.”

And it is ironic that there is a recent surge in Cuban migration to America while literate, healthy Cubans still have an archaic, cold-war motivated, “C’mon in!” preference over Latin Americans from other places who are literally fleeing for their lives.

Oh, I’ve added a new activist magazine to my blogroll: Jacobin Magazine. Check it out!

Retro-Activism Closer to Home:

SOA Watch: Oh, yeah… In thinking about the above and my friend’s revelations about Mexico, old and NEW, I remembered this local Canadian connection to the other Americas.  A Catholic high school I taught at when I returned to teaching here in Ontario beginning in 1992 was really dedicated to social justice issues. Some staff were involved in a peaceful, American-based group, called SOA Watch.  They would go by bus to the annual November protests against the School of the Americas (the OLD euphemism for it) in Fort Benning, Georgia. I never went, but it was on my to-do-list for a while. The protestors mostly stood in protest against that despicable training school for paramilitary groups that, by terrorizing indigenous peasants, make America’s back yard safer to exploit.

Youth Corps: Toronto Diocese was a happening place from 1966-1984 due to the activism and dedication of the amazing Youth Corps, founded and shepherded by Father Tom McKillop. My family was introduced to Youth Corp’s Sharon Peace Weekends in the ’70s. Catholic GTA families would arrive at the Sharon, Ontario farm of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd on a Friday afternoon and set up tents on their grounds. The barn was the main gathering place. Led by energetic, charismatic youth ministry, we would be handed song sheets and sing secular and religious songs with a social activism connection. The most memorable song for me was a young leader named Paula leading us in Forever Young,  Joan Baez’ great hit. The song sheets changed every year. On Saturday there was always a speaker on a topic that challenged us to see the world as being in need of change. A dance on Saturday evening, a few dancing in wheelchairs, followed by a fire and candlelight ceremony after sundown. On Sunday a wonderful Mass outdoors on a gentle hillside when weather permitted. Meals cooked for everyone by involved participants. Sharon Corp weekends were inclusive from every possible aspect. Our ultra-conservative Cardinal Carter removed Tom McKillop in 1984. Pages 7 t0 26 of this article describe the heady, Youth Corps, Vatican II years.

Church: We had a pretty activist parish church in the 70’s and 80’s due to my pastor/mentor, until the local Diocesans took over from the Franciscans and started keenly recruiting the very devout, conservative types of newcomer who would ask:

Father, please come and bless my new BMW…

Peaceful civil disobedience waxes and, mostly these days, wanes… but the domination dial is set to relentless.

Nostalgia: Wistful about the hopeful signs that were much more abundant in the past, I fear for our future and hope that The Bern gathers serious momentum in the U.S. primaries

Fantasia: The front-running alternatives,  Standard Crazy or Extra-Strength Crazy, will not make the world a safer place.