Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Group Endorsements

Association for Progressive Communication
Block the Empire-Montreal
Brampton Coalition for Peace and Justice
Building Bridges Human Rights Project-Vancouver
Comité de Solidarité avec les Indiens des Amériques-Nitassinan
Common Cause-Ottawa
Collectif pour L'Autonomie du Peuple Mapuche
Le Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière (COBP)
Edmonton Small Press Association
Flemish Centre for Indigenous Peoples
Haiti Action Montreal
Indonesia Fisherfolk Union / Serikat Nelayan Indonesia
Industrial Workers of the World–Vancouver
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Latin America Connexions
No One is Illegal Kingston
No One is Illegal Montreal
No One is Illegal Ottawa
No One is Illegal Vancouver
Olympic Resistance Network
OPIRG Carleton
QPIRG Concordia
OPIRG Ottawa
OPIRG Toronto
Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty
Solidarity Across Borders-Montreal
Sierra Youth Coalition

Endorsement: Boyce Richardson

Boyce Richardson, author, journalist, filmmaker. His books include Strangers Devour the Land, and People of Terra Nullius: Betrayal and Rebirth in Aboriginal Canada. He was a recipient of the Order of the Canada in 2002.

I have known people in Barriere Lake since the late 1980s. I have written
extensively about them, and filmed them for a National Film Board film. I
have found them down-to-earth people with a real attachment to the land, an
attachment that they have continued even when pushed up against
extraordinary interference and provocation by governments and businesses. I
have found many of them to be repositories of the ancient bush wisdom of
Aboriginal hunter/gatherers.

When the original split occurred within the community I was in the position
of knowing, liking and admiring people on both sides of the argument.
What dismayed me was the evident determination of the federal government to
seize the initiative by embarking on their customary divide-and-rule

Their decision to replace the original band council with a council made up
of dissidents was, in my view, inexcusable. But then, who could have been
surprised? The decisions to rob Barriere Lake of its traditional hunting
grounds; the decision to jam Barriere Lake people into the 59 acres of Rapid
Lake; the many failed programmes, programmed to fail, as far as I could
judge; the manifest bad faith of the federal government in its negotiations
over the Trilateral Agreement: all of these were inexcusable, so the later
decision to intervene in the governance of Barriere Lake was no more than a
continuation of the many years of neglect, misunderstanding and arrogance in
relation to Barriere Lake that the federal government showed.

In fact, the history of Barriere Lake since Europeans first arrived among
them could stand as a template for the experience of Aboriginal people in
Canada --- theirs has been a history of hardship, promises and betrayals.

Is this the best that these people can expect in the way of governance? Is
this the best they can hope for in the way of financial and moral support
from the federal government, the government constitutionally responsible for
the care of these people?

Barriere Lake suffers from being remote from the cities; it is difficult for
them to get a real hearing in the cities. And the fact that they are poor,
in addition, puts them into the category of voiceless people occupying the
bottom rung of Canadian society.

I heartily support the actions of Barriere Lake as they struggle to keep
their heads above water, and battle to get the governments to fulfill the
many promises that have been made to them over recent decades.

Endorsement: Arthur Manuel

Arthur Manuel is spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET), former Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, chairmen of the Interior Alliance and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

I am familiar with this community and can tell you that the traditional land users have been working hard for the last 15-20 years to do excellent research to protect the ecological biodiversity of their traditional territory, which they continue to use. They have taken special measures to negotiate with the federal and provincial government to implement their plans. That is what is at the bottom of this struggle. It is between people who are playing "Rez Politics" on DIA programs and the elected system and those who are interested in pushing their "Traditional Territory Politics" with the federal and provincial government. DIA and the province like Indigenous Peoples to focus on Rez Politics so they can have exclusive use of Territorial Lands. Limiting our views to Rez Politics is exactly what the Indian Reserve System was set up to do. This is true in this struggle, and it is also true here in British Columbia.

One thing I would like to say is that the traditional system and the Elders who speak the language and practice their culture have real strong research on their traditional land use. I would say they have the highest level of this kind of research in North America. I say this with a lot of experience traveling and seeing other places, so my support here is real. I know that out of all the tribes there is no group in a better position to defend their traditional land use values, knowledge and activities than this group of peoples. I say this so people do not get lost in the Rez Politics and miss out on the bigger picture that is driving this situation. It is an ugly mess because the federal and provincial governments do not want to give up the mutual exclusive powers they have been exercising over these people's lands. The federal and provincial governments do not want to include these indigenous peoples in decision-making regarding their traditional territories. They prefer they fight amongst themselves for DIA Programs and Services.

Look at the substance. I know that where DIA (money) and the SQ (police) give their support should set off bells. Give the traditional peoples your support.