Sudbury Social Justice News - April 2, 2012
Sudbury Social Justice News - April 2, 2012
EVENTS & MEETINGS:
1) All April: Earth Month
2) Wednesday, April 4: Follow-up meeting for the "Solidarity Against Austerity" march
3) Thursday, April 5: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
4) Saturday, April 7: Citizens Climate Lobby Sudbury Open House I
5) Saturday, April 14: Northwatch Spring Meeting
6) Saturday, April 14: Sexual Assault Awareness March (formerly Sudbury Slut Walk)
7) Tuesday, April 17: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
8) Sunday, April 22: Earth Day Festival
9) Sunday, April 22: Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee Fundraising Rain Barrel Sale
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
1) Recycle the Rim - Community Art Project!
2) Mayworks Sudbury Call-Out
3) "Budgets Preach Austerity and Cutbacks" by Bill Bradley
4) OCAP statement on 2012 Ontario Budget
5) "Decolonization Against Austerity" by Nathan Prier and Max Johnson
EVENTS & MEETINGS:
All April: Earth Month
Check out http://www.earthdaysudbury.ca for a complete list of events associated with Earth Month in Sudbury.
Wednesday, April 4: Follow-up meeting for the "Solidarity Against Austerity" march
Location: Sudbury and District Labour Council, 109 Elm Street, Suite 209, Sudbury
There will be a rally follow-up meeting to debrief, evaluate the rally and march, and discuss how supporters of the Raise the Rates campaign can continue to work together in Sudbury and beyond. This meeting will be held on Wednesday April 4th at 6pm at the Labour Council office (109 Elm Street, Suite 209). This location is accessible.
Thursday, April 5: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street (behind Eat Local Sudbury), Sudbury
Please come out to the next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty and help determine whether to start doing direct action support work.
Saturday, April 7: Citizens Climate Lobby Sudbury Open House I
Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street (behind Eat Local Sudbury), Sudbury
Want to learn how to create the political will for a stable climate? During Earth Month in Sudbury consider joining Citizens Climate Lobby for one of our monthly meetings.
Join us for lunch, listen in on our monthly international teleconference call with over 60 chapters across North America and then get to know us.
Vegan Potluck: 12:30 - 1:00
Monthly Call: 1:00 - 2:00
Get to know your local climate warriors: 2:00 - 3:00
Afterwards shop for your local groceries at Eat Local Sudbury.
Our guest speaker will be Dr Shi-ling Hsu UBC Law Professor author of
"The Case for a Carbon Tax"
"Setting a price on carbon remains the crucial solution to preventing dangerous global warming-as well as indirectly solving a number of other environmental and public health problems associated with fossil fuel usage."
Hosted by Citizens Climate Lobby Sudbury and Canada's National Headquarters. To learn more about us go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-Climate-Lobby-Canada/32648012736...
PAST CONFERENCE CALLS' GUESTS INCLUDE:
Bill McKibben, James Hansen, Katherine Hayhoe, Lester Brown & Col. Mark 'Puck' Mykleby, USMC, co-author of 'A National Strategic Narrative' which was a document produced for the Joint Chief of Staff to President Obama and a must read for anyone who gets how climate change is a threat to world peace, http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/A%20National%20Strategic%20...
To get a feel for some of our guest speakers check out our past calls:
We are one of over 50 Chapters in North America and home of the National Headquarters for Canada.
This event on Facebook:
Saturday, April 14: Northwatch Spring Meeting
Location: 4th Floor Resource Room, St. Andrew's Place, 111 Larch Street, Sudbury
Please join us for Northwatch's Spring Meeting in Sudbury on April 14th. Presentations and discussions will include:
* Nukes: Nuclear waste and the industry's search for a "willing" host
* Forests: Wolf Lake and getting mineral exploration out and protection in for this ancient red pine forest
* Rivers: what's in store for the Vermillion River and others on the list for hydro-development
* Mines: what's burning in the Ring of Fire with Cliffs Resources and Noront Minerals
* Community: eating local, acting local, organizing local
9:30am: Coffee, muffins, settling in
10am: Open space, introductions, fine-tuning the agenda for the day, morning sessions (rivers plus more!)
Noon: Lunch, free time
1pm: Afternoon sessions, including Wolf Lake
4pm: Session wrap-up, review of action plans and next steps
4:30pm: Closing and good-byes
+ Childcare is available but must be requested no later than Saturday, April 7th
+ A suggested donation of $15 per person will cover the costs of the meeting room and lunch
+ Pre-registration - no later than April 12th - is required for those staying for lunch - please do!
+ Pre-registration by April 7th is requested to assist with meeting planning
Northwatch's meeting agendas are developed using an "open space" meeting method, which includes participants in allocating time according to interest, availability of resource people, and urgency of the issue. The agenda items noted above have been identified in advance, and resource people will begin the discussion with a brief overview to provide background information that will enable everyone to participate in the discussion. The meeting approach includes the option of break-out groups and concurrent discussions, and encourages active planning and problem-solving. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, April 14: Sexual Assault Awareness March (formerly Sudbury Slut Walk)
Location: Corner of Paris and Brady
The group will be marching through the downtown core, arguing that no-one should ever be blamed for their assault.
This march serves to remind the community that consent should always be sought for any sexual contact; and that no one, ever deserves to be assaulted. ONLY YES MEANS YES; and CONSENT IS SEXY. We are asking you to join us for the Sexual Assault Awareness March. We ask you to accompany us in making a unified statement about sexual assault and victims' rights and to demand respect for all. Join us in our mission to spread the word that those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.
Wherever We Go, However We Dress;
No Means No, and Yes Means Yes.
This event is sponsored by the Students General Association, the Graduate Students Association, the Association of Mature and Part-time Students, the Association des Ã©tudiantes et Ã©tudiants francophones, and the Department of Sociology, all of Laurentian University; and the Department of Women's Studies of Thornloe University.
For information on the event, please contact email@example.com
This event on Faceboook:
Tuesday, April 17: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
Location: Little Montreal, 182 Elgin St., Sudbury
Matters to be discussed include John's talk in Toronto on April 20, the 'zine we are producing as an outreach and fundraising tool, and strategizing in the face of AIDWYC's decision not to proceed with John's case.
Sunday, April 22: Earth Day Festival
Location: Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Come celebrate Earth Day 2012 in this beautiful setting!
FREE SHUTTLE BUS at PARIS & YORK St (NW corner lot across from Bell Park). Two half-size school buses will be running all day, starting at 10am, 15 minute bus ride. Last bus out of the Conservation Area around 4pm. Please use the shuttle as parking at Conservation Area is very limited!!
NDCA staff will be giving short guided nature hikes perfect for the whole family, as well as leading nature activities. Try out the First Nations medicine bag making workshop in the Nature Chalet. Enjoy storytelling in the tipi. Or explore the scenic trails at your leisure, or relax by the lake. Please PACK A LUNCH as there will be no food for sale. Drinking water, recycling, composting, restrooms and St. John Ambulance are ON SITE.
RIVER & SKY Camping and Music Festival presents the acoustic stage with Canadian folk genius PETUNIA! 2 sets! Find out about this summer's R&S festival: www.riverandsky.ca, or find 'em on facebook
"Everybody's talking about this ultracool, hillbilly cowboy singer from Quebec who keeps traveling back and forth across Canada singing his songs in little joints & coffee houses, collecting new friends, fans - wherever he goes. From what I can tell so far, he seems to be the real McCoy, A delightful mix of Hank Williams, rural rap, appalachian stringband all rolled into one tight, entertaining package."
- Tom Wilson, Jackdaws Pub, CALGARY, AB
More details on the Festival and Earth Month activities at www.earthdaysudbury.ca
Due to the outdoor nature of this year's Earth Day Festival, local vendors and exhibits will instead be presented as part of an INTERACTIVE GREEN EXPO at DYNAMIC EARTH the preceding weekend- Sat April 14 & Sun April 15. Check it out that weekend, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org 705-674-1685 or Dynamic Earth for details on how to exhibit.
This event on Facebook:
Sunday, April 22: Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee Fundraising Rain Barrel Sale
Location: York Street parking lot at Paris Street, Sudbury
RainBarrel.ca is pleased to partner with the Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee. The Committee is working toward the protection and enhancement of the Ramsey Lake watershed. Rain barrels help reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which can contain pollutants like sediment, oil, grease, bacteria and nutrients.
For details and to order your barrel, visit http://rainbarrel.ca/ramseylake/ today!
This event on FaceBook:
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
Recycle the Rim - Community Art Project!
PLEASE PARTICIPATE IN THIS EARTH DAY EVENT:
I would like to encourage EVERY ONE to pick up discarded coffee cups between now and Earth Day (April 22nd) in and around the Greater Sudbury region THAT HAVE BEEN FOUND OR DISCARDED IN THE STREETS, IN NATURE, AND BY THE SIDE O...F THE ROAD, in (please use protective gloves). Place them in bags (clear bags if possible), AND TELEPHONE ME (919-2304) TO PICK THEM UP. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT OF RECYCLE BINS OR GARBAGE BINS - WE WANT TO MAKE A POINT OF CLEANING UP THE STREETS AND CLEANING UP NATURE!!! and show how much we impact our environment.
AFTER THEY ARE COLLECTED, bring them to the Laurentian site on April 22nd OR I would be happy to come and collect them at your home, office or school in preparation for a HUGE COMMUNITY art project.
ON APRIL 22ND I want everyone who is available to JOIN N THE FUN for this MASSIVE COMMUNITY ART PROJECT.
WHERE? Laurentian Lake, Sudbury (part of the Earth Day Celebrations there!)
WHEN? from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 (join us for a few minutes or a few hours)
WHO? All ages are welcome to join in
Bring your coffee cups to the site anytime after 10:00 and hopefully before 1:00 on April 22nd (or phone me ahead of time for pick up 919-2304).
All cups, after our celebration, will be upcycled, recycled and turned back TO OUR BEAUTIFUL EARTH in an ecological way!!!
Thank you for your participation. I look forward to meeting all of you!!!!
Betty Ann McPherson Please call me at - 705-919-2304
(psychotherapist and nature junkie)
This call on Facebook:
Mayworks Sudbury Call-Out
Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts is a multi-disciplinary festival that celebrates working class culture. Celebrated in many communities acrossCanada, this festival is the largest and oldest labour arts festival. It is built on the premise that workers and artists share a common struggle for decent wages, healthy working conditions, and a living culture. This culture can be found in art, music, drama, and the spoken word.
Mayworks Sudbury and the Sudburyand District Labour Council are pleased to announce northern Ontario's first Mayworks Festival. On May 3 and 4, 2012 the Windsor Feminist Theatre will present "Riveter", a play written and directed by Joey Ouellette. Riveter is set in a period of time when men were leaving their jobs to fight overseas during WW2 and Canadian women (including women in Sudbury) assisted in the war effort by working in those jobs and the new ones created by the demands of the war.
As a way of drawing attention to and showing appreciation for the creative expressions of work and labour issues, Mayworks Sudbury and the Sudbury District Labour Council are encouraging submissions from Sudbury's artists/photographers. These submissions should be reflective of the artist's identify as a worker and their experiences in the workplace. This art will be displayed for viewing and for sale on May 3 and 4, 2012 before and after the play.
If you are interested in obtaining additional information about Mayworks Sudbury, you want to buy tickets, or you would like to find out more about submitting artistic pieces to be shown at Mayworks Sudbury Festival, please contact one of the people listed below.
Jo-Anne Marshall (705-673-8802)
Bryan Obonsawin (705-560-3330, Ext. 223)
Shelley Condratto - Sudbury and District Labour Council (705-674-1223)
Budgets Preach Austerity and Cutbacks
Hudak: Ontario budget not tough enough; OPSEU members protest cuts
By Bill Bradley
This week Greater Sudbury and northern Ontario residents faced fiscal austerity from both the provincial and federal governments on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
Immediately at risk, locally and regionally from provincial cuts announced by Ontario Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan, are youth detention workers, MNR field station positions and the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission jobs (as the province moves to privatize the rail operation based in North Bay). Mining companies could also see a reduction in tax incentives introduced in past years which could affect their plans to hire more employees or retain those already on the payroll.
Affected unionists reacted negatively to the budget news.
"Two days after the release of a budget that will cut billions of dollars from public services, members in workplaces across the union came to work dressed in black and wearing Choose Public wristbands or stickers, " the Ontario Public Service Employees Union stated on their website.
"As public sector workers, we provide excellent services at a low cost. Our jobs provide economic stability in communities that couldn't survive without our spending power," the union website continued, while showing photos of workers protesting in Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Kemptville, communities where public service jobs and their spending power are critical to the local tax base and business sector the union asserted.
Federal cuts announced Thursday by federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty could mean more empty desks at the local CBC Radio One station as the public braodcaster contends with a $115 million plus budget slash over three years. However details at how budgets would be reduced was not available yet for any affected service, including the CBC. Other federal employee jobs could be on the chopping block locally and regionally as the federal Tories move to cut over 19,000 public sector jobs. Media analysts contend though the Ottawa area will bear the brunt of federal cutbacks.
Of the two levels of government, the province seems to be worse off, its own advisors claimed.
"Both the Conference Board of Canada and the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Service released projections suggesting that if no action was taken to control growth in provincial expenses, Ontario's deficit would continue to grow," an Ontario Ministry of Finance website backgrounder stated. By 2017-18 the former projected the Ontario deficit to be in the $ 16 billion realm while the later's estimate was in the $30 billion range.
This prompted Ontario Minister of Finance to comment on his website that " regardeless of the difference in projections" it is "clear that Ontario is facing a serious deficit problem," and "the status quo is not an option" and " the annual cost of servicing the provincial debt is the third largest expense behind health care and education"
Some measures include:
-an extension of pay freezes for executives at hospitals, universities, colleges, school boards and government agencies
-corporate taxes frozen at 11.5 percent until the province's budget is balanced
-a freeze on salaries of doctors, teachers and bureacrats for a saving of $6 billion over three years
-change public service pensions from a model where the employer pays the bulk of contributions to a model with a 50:50 contribution ratio
"In today's budget our government took strong action to eliminate the deficit," Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci said on his Facebook page. "We are leading by example by extending the MPP pay freeze two more years for a total of five years."
Yet, the Liberals did not follow the advice of the Don Drummond report, released recently, which urged scrapping Liberal election promises such as the all day kindergarten program or a 30 percent cut in tuition fees for some undergraduate students.
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak claimed the Ontario budget was not tough enough, stating his party would not support it. "This is the time for tough and responsible fiscal management," he said on his website after the budget. "Yet today's budget is a weak and disappointing response to Ontario's jobs and spending crisis," Hudak noted. In particular, Hudak cited cancellation of business tax cuts "at just the time we need to be making Ontario more competitive and restoring business confidence," he said on his website.
Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath claimed those very corporate tax cuts, introduced by the Liberals, had caused "billions of dollars to be blown already" she said on her website.
Furthermore," the government seems to be admitting that no-strings attached corporate tax give-aways aren't creating jobs," Horwath trumpeted.
Locally, Progressive Conservative Party past candidate Gerry Labelle complained the Liberal budget was savaging northern Ontario services.
" To say I'm disappointed in the budget would be an understatement," he emailed the Sudbury Media Co-operative.
" Why are we closing Ontario Northland rail service and only now trying to sell it to the private sector?" he asked. "While we may not agree with the Subsidy per passenger we know it is a lifeline for the northern people. This is a government which will spend billions on Toronto infrastructure but refuses to acknowledge the need for transportation. Aren't we going to return to some form of rail service in the future? The governement should find a business model to make ONR work for everyone. Not throw in the towel and leave people stranded."
Nickel Belt MPP FRance Gelinas disagreed too with the privatization of Ontario Northland but liked the freeze on business tax cuts. However, she told Sudbury media sources this week she was concerned about local hospital funding caps. She said she wanted to hear from local residents about asking their reaction to the Ontario budget, asking them to call 1-877-280-9990, email her at email@example.com or visit www.francegelinas.ca.
Bill Bradley is a Sudbury freelance reporter and writer with a website at www.northernpecan.ca.
OCAP statement on 2012 Ontario Budget
Ontario Budget Declares War on Poor and Working People:
Liberals cut Community Start-Up allowance, drive down welfare/ODSP rates, impose wage freeze...
The 2012 Ontario Budget, delivered by the Liberal Government, but designed by Bay Street, goes under the title 'Strong Action for Ontario'. In reality, however, it is a blueprint for action to impose the burden of the crisis on everyone but the rich. Public Services will be under attack as the Government works to reduce spending by some $17.7 billion over the next three years. The workers who deliver those services will face a wage freeze and an unprecedented attack on their pensions.
As already announced by Dalton McGuinty, this Budget includes measures that will deepen the crisis of poverty in Ontario. A planned $100 increase in the Ontario Child Benefit will be put off until July of 2013 and social assistance rates will be 'frozen', which in real terms means a cut in income once again. People on Ontario Works are living on incomes that are a devastating 60% lower than they were in 1995 and over 20% lower than when the Harris Tories left office. Now, that wretched sub poverty income will continue to be driven down further by the 'poverty reduction' Liberals as the cost of food and other necessities increases significantly.
A particularly disgusting move by this government is the elimination of a benefit known as 'Community Start-up and Maintenance Allowance'. At present, CSU is only available to people every two years, but is the only way that people can get the funds to move, to buy much needed furniture, or to pay for emergencies such as when the power has been cut off. It is also an essential benefit for women fleeing abuse as a means to get started in a new and safer location, and for people coming out of institutions trying to re-start their lives on the outside. As with all benefits on the books for OW and ODSP, it is irrefutably insufficient and has in the last few years under the Liberals become increasingly harder to access. But to cut even the meager scraps of a start-up allowance shows the true intentions of the Liberal budget.
On top of the elimination of the CSU, all other discretionary health benefits under Welfare (OW) and Disability (ODSP) will now be capped meaning that access will be severely limited. Funding for these benefits (dental emergencies, eye glasses, etc) will be cut over the next 3 years.
This newest round comes on top of the previous cuts to the Special Diet allowance which in and of itself has massively reduced the health and well-being of those on assistance.
The freeze on corporate tax breaks they reluctantly included in the budget in the hopes of preventing the defeat of their minority government and an election, will leave intact the tax changes that have handed billions over to the richest in society. We are somehow expected to be grateful or see it as a good thing for this freeze on corporate taxes as though this means 'we' (the poor AND rich) are all 'taking a hit.' But this isn't about fairness and it isn't even about money. If it was, they wouldn't be taking it from people on assistance and the poorest Ontarians, they would go to those who have the money. Withholding and freezing welfare "saves" the province $90 million. This is a drop in the bucket - only .072 of the total budget, and nothing in comparison to the benefits bestowed on the private sector and corporations. While we have faced round after round of attacks on our incomes and wages, the top 1% of income earners have in fact doubled their income since 1980, but today are paying half the taxes.
Even if corporate taxes had been raised back to the previous 14%, it would have generated a staggering $2billion in just one year. But no, that was not on the table in the 2012 Budget, because no matter how they spin it, this is really about class, and a war has been declared against poor and working people.
We see in the proposals of TD banker Drummond, and the follow through of Finance Minister Duncan, not just the continuation of Harris' work, but a transfer of wealth from poor to rich that puts Harris to shame. Thursday we will also face Harper's attacks on the Federal level. What we need to remember is that this isn't in isolation and isn_t happening in a vacuum.
What we are facing on all three levels of government is in fact a global austerity agenda that is being directed against poor communities and workers on an international scale. It is an attack that can only intensify. We can not afford to let them get away with these opening shots.
A slogan that was popularized in the unemployed movements of the 30's was 'United we eat, divided we starve.' This should ring true for us again today. A common front of unions and communities must be organized to resist this Budget, those who have drawn it up and those who stand to profit from austerity. Duncan himself has stated that he expects 'protest on the lawns of Queens park'. We need to not only make this a reality, but take a long and hard look at the power we have, and the power we need to create, for a serious and sustained movement capable of creating the economic disruption that can defeat their austerity and make the rich pay.
Fight to Win.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, March 2012
Decolonization Against Austerity:
Support Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug's Battle Against Mining!
By Nathan Prier and Max Johnson
The community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) poses a challenge and opportunity for the left in Turtle Island to (re)think strategic alliances between leftist anti-austerity struggles and indigenous anti-colonial struggles taking place in the area commonly called "Canada." KI is a small fly-in Anishaninii (sometimes called "Oji-Cree" or "Severn Ojibwa") community in Northwestern Ontario, about 580 km north of Thunder Bay, and has a long history of survival and resistance in the face of the colonial settler state.
The most recent threat is God's Lake Resources Inc., a junior gold mining company, that plans to begin exploration directly on KI sacred burial grounds. KI has been actively mobilizing solidarity across the province, especially in Toronto, as it did in the face of similar recent threats. With the Ontario government clearly supporting the mining industry, KI will be looking to community allies and its own deep community capacity to continue the struggle against the destruction of their traditional territory. At a time when anti-austerity pressures are morphing globally into a variety of forms of resistance, it is time once again for those of us who are settlers to consider our relationship to centuries of anti-colonial struggle by indigenous nations. When we struggle ourselves against dispossession, we need to consider the tensions of doing so on stolen land.
Cycles of Resistance:
Fighting Off Platinex and the New Mining Act
Over the past decade, KI has received a great deal of media attention for their struggles against mining on their territory. In 2008, the community successfully resisted attempts by Platinex to undertake exploration in the area, but not without dramatic consequences. KI, in alliance with other indigenous communities in Ontario under attack at the time, organized a massive, multi-facetted resistance, including a well-publicized "sovereignty sleepover" at Queen's Park.
Formal union support as well as rank-and-file participation was a huge part of the Toronto mobilization, buttressed by strong support from grassroots communities across the city. These mobilizations eventually saw Chief Donny Morris and five other community members jailed for refusing to yield to mining interests, which provincial law mandatorily required them to do. The Ontario and Canadian governments plainly did not recognize indigenous' peoples right to plainly refuse industrial development on unsurrendered territory.
Because of this and the other effective indigenous resistances flaring around the province at the time, a new Mining Act was written which, along with other revised pieces of colonial legislation, purported to guarantee indigenous communities the right to be consulted around new uses of their traditional territories, but not the right to refuse. Ontario's prior Mining Act, dating back to the 1870s, allowed generally free access to most territories in the province. The revised version was intended to mandate consultation with indigenous communities on traditional territories. In true colonial style, the province still remains the final arbiter on the necessity of consultation for a given plot of land. Ontario maintains its "free-entry" system of claims-granting, making consultation a discretionary nod by the state rather than binding anything to indigenous authority.
Given these clear shortcomings, KI's community leadership set to work developing their own principles and legal frameworks through which any activity on their land was to occur. The community voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Watershed Declaration and the Consultation Protocols, which demand a respect for the balance of the earth's systems and free prior and informed consent to any development on the territories in question.
God's Lake Resources Begins an Unholy Attack
on KI's Territory and Cultural Wealth
Despite these new pieces of written Indigenous Law, KI is once again facing unwanted mining activity on their territory. God's Lake Resources (GLR), has staked claims and has threatened to begin exploration this winter, directly on top of KI burial grounds and sacred sites. The "consultation process" involved a letter sent from GLR to KI, which, when it wasn't immediately answered, was considered sufficient consultation.
The province's response, despite the supposed commitments established in colonial law around indigenous consultation (which emerged precisely because of the resistance to Platinex in 2007-08), has been to deny any ability to limit GLR in exploring its claim. After KI began mobilizing existing community networks in Toronto and other parts of the province, Ontario declared 23,181 square kilometers around KI to be off-limits to mining, except, of course, the GLR claim. KI is now mobilizing to prevent what seems like an immanent incursion by GLR teams.
The provincial government's bungling of their own rules and buck-passing between the multiple provincial ministries involved in this process, as well as confusion over provincial and federal roles, has served as a perfect cover for a total disregard for indigenous community laws. In a very tangible way, companies such as GLR rely on this contradictory legal system to attempt to avoid any substantive recognition of indigenous sovereignty. In a system where provincial ministers have veto power over disputes in the consultation process, the limits to anti-colonialism and decolonization within this framework become quite clear. The colonial legal framework is at best still flawed, even though it has been used tactically by indigenous communities to their advantage.
Against indigenous oral histories and recent historical evidence on the nature of the treaties in the area at issue here, the Crown presupposes that the first peoples of the land effectively surrendered anything off-reserve to the advancing colonial government. Despite a finding by the Supreme Court of Ontario (note that this treaty, Treaty 9, was one of the few treaties to be signed in Canada by the province as well as indigenous leaders and the federal government) that no surrender was explicitly given, the lands in question are seen by the province as part of a mineral exploration staking system. This system requires little more, in terms of legal settler access, than being over 18 and paying a small fee.
KI's watershed is the source of the community's history, spiritual and otherwise, that make up a set of values incompatible with Canadian capitalist economic growth. The fish, moose, water and lands are what fuels the community's survival in ways that make little sense to the province's grid of fungible private property rights and growth plans. KI's struggle against the mining industry is essentially a struggle against colonial-capitalist dispossession. From the perspective of many indigenous communities, resource "development" on their territories involves multiple forms of dispossession. Some resources (forests, minerals) are taken, while others (wildlife, fish, plants, water) are destroyed either through contamination or disturbance. Forms of wealth unique to indigenous cultures and societies are also often destroyed in the process - the potential destruction of KI's cultural heritage through damage to a burial ground represents the destruction of uniquely indigenous wealth.
Colonial Frameworks of Dispossession
Other indigenous communities throughout the area of Turtle Island commonly called "Canada" are waging similar battles against colonial dispossession. Anishinaabe in Grassy Narrows continue to protest Weyerhaeuser logging in their territory, and have recently called for a boycott of Weyerhaeuser forest products. Indigenous peoples in Northern Quebec are waging campaigns against Quebec's "Plan Nord" development scheme. Inuit in Qamani'tuaq (Baker Lake) continue to wage a battle that stretches back for decades against uranium mining in their hunting grounds. Multi-nation alliances are organizing continuously in northern BC and Alberta to reverse the genocidal destruction wrought by the Alberta Tar Sands, the regional natural gas industry, and the giant proposed pipelines that would carry both products to market.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake, after a wave of imposed federal and provincial decisions and police attacks, have pushed mining interests out of their traditional forests. In the south, First Nations like the Six Nations of the Grand River continue to fight against encroachment on what is left of their territory. Another kind of resistance to dispossession is being fought by communities like Attawapiskat against the federal government for proper funding for treaty-guaranteed and basic human infrastructure (housing, schools, et cetera).
The battles Northern communities wage against colonial restrictions on hunting (such as the struggle over polar bear quotas in Nunavut) and colonial restrictions on exporting products of hunting (such as the struggle Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated has been waging against the Canadian state regarding the right of Inuit to export narwhal tusks) are also battles against dispossession in-so-far as they are attempts to maintain a thriving indigenous economy. Together these varied struggles highlight an important reality: it is likely impossible to find an indigenous community in Canada that is not battling some form of dispossession.
Meanwhile, the mainstream Canadian left is waging its own struggles against dispossession and more often than not finds itself on the run. We are seeing massive austerity battles in Toronto under Mayor Rob Ford's administration, which has threatened massive cuts to city services (which will disproportionately affect residents already made vulnerable in the broader global capitalist crisis, such as racialized workers, undocumented people, women and trans people, queer people, and urban indigenous peoples), in a fiscal crisis manufactured largely by the Ford administration itself. A cross-sectoral alliance of Torontonians has formed into a Stop the Cuts movement vowing to reclaim the common rights to the city, and has blocked some of the proposed cuts, even as Ford promises to deliver on his remaining austerity promises.
Student movements across Canada continue to fight for tuition reduction and against government cutbacks on post-secondary education more generally in a sustained climate of growing inaccessibility. Women's organizations, queer and HIV/AIDS support groups, and immigrant and refugee communities are clawing to continue building just communities in an increasingly scarce funding environment, while police, military, and security budgets bloat.
Recent strike breaking legislation directed at Canada Post and Air Canada workers, immigration raids against and deportations of precarious- and non-status workers, and union-busting tactics aimed at contracting out city jobs demonstrate quite clearly the immense challenges that the Canadian left is currently faced with. In this context, indigenous and anti-austerity battles make logical allies. Globally speaking, capital has been in a particularly destabilizing, system-threatening crisis since 2008, and has only shored this up by demanding concessions from working people, gutting what was left of post-war welfare institutions and opening up increasing types of common goods to privatization. In a certain sense, our struggles are against the same thing: capitalist dispossession.
At a time when we all seem to be "on the run" - fighting to hold onto what we already have, rather than fighting for more of what we rightly deserve - an alliance of this sort makes more sense than ever before. If workers' demands become indigenous demands and indigenous demands become workers' demands, if we present a unified front against dispossession, we stand a far better chance of succeeding than if we remain divided, atomized, and in different ways with different effects, colonized. The details are to be found in building these relationships with an explicit aim to decolonize, meaning we will have to accept leadership from indigenous communities doing the same. What seem like overwhelming contradictions are maybe best approached by fighting through something together, rather than throwing some under the bus - in a colonial state, that slogan becomes even more critical if we are to find a path to justice.
Indigenous communities also have a great deal to teach about organizing and resisting. Despite over a century of forced relocations, residential schooling, capitalist destruction, colonial hunting laws, the outlawing of indigenous cultural practices - in short, cultural genocide - indigenous cultures continue to flourish on Turtle Island. Any community that can withstand a sustained colonial onslaught and still have the perseverance to continue fighting back is an example to the world of successful resistance. Furthermore, insofar as indigenous cultures are often based on more egalitarian forms of decision making, more equitable types of economic distribution and less antagonistic relations with nature, these communities have a great deal to teach about building a society which is more just and free. It is also questionable whether or not the left in Canada can hope for any sort of success without working together with indigenous communities.
Tensions in Left-Indigenous Decolonization
Left-Indigenous alliance-building is by no means simple. Extractive industries are the lynchpin of the Canadian economy. Our biggest export, Alberta tar sands oil, drives the currency and is closely tied to the financial sector. In Ontario, forestry accounts for about $14-billion annually, aggregate resources (sand, stone, gravel) for the construction industry take in about $37-billion. Mining is worth $11-billion (not including nearly $1-billion in exploration) and brings in about $3-billion in capital investment per year. Toronto is the financial hub of the mining industry, and recently hosted the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual meeting, the biggest such conference in the world.
This extractive dependency spreads beyond just corporate profits or jobs to our pension plans, mortgages, tax base, and many elements of our everyday lives which are tied to the reproduction of extractive profit in complex economic webs. While we as workers struggle to keep our material standards and social benefits high in a sustained climate of vicious austerity measures, we have to remember that those same benefits, in our current system, come out of a colonial relationship. Many of our jobs are often directly or derivatively tied to the health of the extractive sector (including the financial and public sectors) and its disregard for indigenous laws.
In a fight against a global assault on working people (which of course includes indigenous workers), it can be easy to cling to the social gains of the (settler) past without recognizing their colonial context. Many of the social gains which are now being dismantled in the neoliberal assault were built while indigenous communities were being aggressively destroyed. Working-class settlers were many things during the building of our welfare state, but among other things, their labour organizations and grassroots struggles have been too silent around or complicit with the destruction of indigenous lands and peoples. Many of those settlers were migrants escaping their own experiences of dispossession and community destruction in an expanding capitalist world. Nonetheless, they occupy stolen land entering a space created by genocidal destruction (of course inequality and colonial relationships exist also among the settlers). As we fight back against all types of services and community rights being gutted, we can't lose sight of how those came to exist in our current system.
This means that any hope for a strategic alliance between the anti-austerity left and indigenous communities is no simple task. In one sense, alliance-building demands we acknowledge ourselves as settlers and ask ourselves what a responsible relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples can mean both under, and hopefully after, settler colonial rule. Doing the work of decolonization, then, involves more than simply offering endorsements and accepting support roles via a particular community, though those things are crucial in the decolonization struggle. That work has been ongoing for generations, with non-native folk supporting decolonization by exploring ways to substantively support different types of Native anti-colonial struggles with differing needs at different times.
We must also look at how our lives are shaped by a settler reality in an expanding capitalist state, and determine what we can do to end our status as settlers. Among other things, this means seriously questioning the way our society's economy is organized and transforming it along principles of justice, self determination and mutual cooperation. It means creating a society where production is organized to facilitate justice and the satisfaction of human needs instead of serving numbers on balance sheets. While this is no easy task, we need to begin to move in this direction.
Decolonization - Solidarity Against Dispossession
The colonial context means that the onus is on the anti-austerity left to act first, reach out to the anti-colonial indigenous movement, and support their struggles. Resistance to the age of austerity has to be more than defending particular gains in particular instances. It needs to be about the liberation and self-determination of all, which can't happen when colonial relationships are glossed over and sustained. When indigenous communities engage in struggles against industry and the State - be they struggles against mining and other forms of development on indigenous territory, fights for harvesting rights or demands for adequate housing - we should be waiting to support them.
Workers (CUPE, OPSEU, OSSTF, EFTO, and the CLC, to name a few) supported KI during their struggle against Platinex, and we must do the same during their engagement with God's Lake Resources. The way to break through the contradictions of demanding social gains and common rights in a state built on stolen land is to actively choose to do the work of decolonization. This is an unlearning process that, if it is to be done effectively, requires that indigenous solidarity doesn't take a back seat in a laundry list of demands, but is rather central to the development of an anti-austerity agenda.
In the sense of destroying the settler situation, this requires we consider, at every point, what our class struggle does to support indigenous liberation - as workers, we control the sites at which this economy and state function, and can be creatively tactical as to how this support can work. This needs to be done, obviously, in line with tactical and strategic leadership from indigenous communities in struggle - see below for what has been called for by KI in particular. A consideration of our multiple capacities as the direct producers in the capitalist machine, the fuel for its engine, can both expose the immediate and distant material relationships we have as workers to the ongoing colonization of indigenous communities.
There are a large range of options for supporting indigenous struggle when and if our help is needed. Just as organized workers refused to handle goods from apartheid South Africa, we can "hot cargo" goods and business that originate in resource extraction done against the will of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. As of now the KI dispute is hanging in the balance, preparing for GLR to begin exploration while the province waffles, as before. Please read below for what is being called for by KI at the moment, and be prepared for calls to action in the months to come. •
Nathan Prier has organized as an ally in migrant justice and indigenous solidarity movements in Toronto, and is a student, researcher and teaching assistant at York University.
Max Johnson has organized extensively against mining destruction and is currently a student and organizer in Toronto.
For more on how to support KI and their ongoing work against colonization, please:
* Visit www.KIlands.org and take action by filling out this form to send a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty telling him to respect KI First Nation.
* Sign up at kilands.org/take-action to stay informed.
* Check out, watch for events, and follow the Toronto KI Support Network Facebook page.
* If you're in Toronto and would like a KI presentation done at your next event, meeting, or class, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* If you're in Toronto and are available for solidarity actions when and if they are called for, join the KI Action Network phone tree by emailing your phone number to email@example.com
* Read the Watershed Declaration.
* Read the Consultation Protocols.
* Print out and distribute the flyer.