Environmentalism and Aboriginal Supremacism in Canada
Idle No More
By William Walter Kay
In Canada, as in several countries (Australia, Brazil, and the USA), the international environmental movement has fashioned a considerable auxiliary out of Indigenous peoples.
Between December 2012 and February 2013 Canada’s eco-Aboriginal auxiliary briefly showed its fangs in an aborted uprising operating under the banner “Idle No More.”
This posting (the first of a series dealing with the green wing of Canada’s Aboriginal Industry) revisits the Idle No More episode with a focus on the roles played by: a supportive mass media; compliant police executives; and corrupt, extremist Aboriginal elites.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section A - The Idle No More Uprising
Basic Population Data
A Chronology of the Idle No More Uprising
Idle No More was an Environmental Activist Phenomenon
Idle No More was NOT a Grassroots Phenomenon
Section B - The Tribal Dictatorships
Idle No More and the Tribal Dictatorships
Chief Teresa's Fiefdom
Judge Reilly's Testimony
Section C - Idle No More and the Aboriginal Academy
Canada's Aboriginal Academy; Past and Present
Idle No More's Student Contingent
Aboriginal Academics within Idle No More's Inner Circle
Section D - Police Complicity
Police Complicity in Idle No More's Illegal Blockades
Helpless in Caledonia
SECTION A: THE IDLE NO MORE UPRISING
Basic Population Data
Less than 4% of Canada’s 34.5 million people are “Aboriginals” although the distinction itself is contentious.
According to Statistics Canada 1.3 million Canadians self-identify as “Aboriginal”. This breaks down to 825,000 North America Indians (“First Nations”), 415,000 “Metis”, and 60,000 “Inuit.”
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) defines “non-status Indians” as persons self-identifying as Indian but who are NOT entitled to be listed in the Indian Registry under the terms of the Indian Act. AANDC contends there are 875,000 “Status Indians” of whom 445,000 live on-reserve and 405,000 live off-reserve, usually in urban areas (25,000 live on Crown land in rural areas). (1)
A Chronology of the Idle No More Uprising
The Harper Government issued two omnibus budget bills in 2012. The first, C-38, conjured a tsunami of green rage because it amended key environmental legislation. This protest wave delayed, but did not block, passage of the bill.
The second omnibus budget bill, C-45, further tweaked enviro-regulations and amended the Indian Act to facilitate on-reserve land development. Several other bills impacting Natives were also introduced around this time. Thus, the second wave of enviro-angst tossed Natives to the forefront.
(The main enviro-cause regarding C-45 concerned modifications to the 140-year old Navigation Act (a law originally designed to prevent the building of navigation impeding dams, docks, etc). Contrary to green hysteria, C-45 merely restricted the Navigation Act to major rivers and lakes – it removed no body of water from environmental regulation.)
Thus, in the fall of 2012, environmentalists and Aboriginals brainstormed on how to roll back Harper’s Agenda. Idle No More (INM) began in late October when four Saskatchewan women (Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon, and Sheelah McLean) held a teach-in concerning C-45. In November they put out a call to make December 10 a National Day of Solidarity and Resurgence.
On or about December 10 Chief Teresa Spence of Ontario’s Attawapiskat First Nation announced she was embarking on a “hunger strike” in a teepee erected in a park not far from Parliament Hill. (Her hunger strike turned into a national joke when it was learned she regularly consumed fish broth, herbal teas, juices, and vitamins. Her political demands proved as warped as her hunger strike.)
Earlier, on December 4, a contingent of Chiefs departed an Assembly of First Nations convention at a Gatineau hotel with the intention of forcing their way into the House of Commons. The residual hoopla surrounding this kerfuffle fused with Chief Spence’s “hunger strike” helped propel a two month protest wave operating under the INM logo.
The several hundred demos that occurred across 100 locales consisted mainly of drum circle dances in shopping malls, city parks, and streets. Such gatherings often had a religious component. Most demos attracted 50 to 250 participants. There were 20 actions in Calgary alone. There were seven demos in Saskatchewan in one day (January 17).
The media fancied these gatherings to be spontaneous “flash-mobs” but they were professionally planned, media-hyped affairs facilitated with carpools, buses, and free donuts and hot chocolate.
In addition to the inherent violence of the two dozen blockades, INM protestors desecrated a statue of John A. Macdonald and vandalized a railway crossing signal.
INMers picketed Sun News offices in Winnipeg and Toronto to denounce Ezra Levant’s ridiculing of Chief Spence and to demand Sun News censor the “comments” section of its website.
The largest demo, a drum circle at West Edmonton Mall (January 13), attracted over 2,000 participants. Several mid-January demos in Toronto, Montreal, Saskatoon, and Ottawa drew crowds of 1,000. The largest Winnipeg demo was an 800-strong extravaganza at the Manitoba legislature building where Buffy Sainte-Marie gave a free concert. Six hundred attended a Windsor demo on January 17. This was roughly coterminous with Vancouver’s largest demo – a 400-strong disruption at the Waterfront Sea Bus Station.
INM peaked January 10-20.
INM’s apogee was when Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak’s threated to “bring the Canadian economy to its knees”. This was seconded by Manitoba Regional Chief Bill Traveres who demanded the repeal of both omnibus budget bills. Simultaneously, Chief Allan Adam threatened to blockade the oil sands highway connecting Fort McMurray to Edmonton. He was trumped by Gordon Peters, Grand Chief of Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, who declared: “We’re going to blockade all corridors in the province.”
Harper diffused the INM protest wave by holding a meeting with Native leaders on January 11 to which Chief Spence was invited (she refused to attend because the Governor General would not be there). The failed boycott of this meeting exposed fatal divisions within Native elites.
Chief Spence ended her “hunger strike” on January 23, just as fat as when she started. She further embarrassed supporters by storming out of a dinner at the Governor General’s house due to some unexplained protocol faux pas.
Hence, the hyped January 28 International Day of Action became INM’s anti-climax capped by a disappointing turnout at Parliament Hill (estimated as low as 300).
A national poll taken in December showed 62% of those who had heard of INM were supportive. A mid-January poll found 49% opposed to INM and 39% supportive.
In early December, 1,500 tweeters were tweeting about INM. On January 24, 17,000 tweeters tweeted about INM. By early February, INM tweeters’ numbers were back down to 1,500 again.
In mid-January there were 72,000 Internet references to INM (Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, blogs, forums, online news etc). By February 10, Internet references to INM had fallen 84% from the mid-January peak.
With INM floundering, activist rhetoric shifted to: human rights abuses; violence against Aboriginal women; and, of course, the Demon Harper. Tensions between an actual Native “grassroots” milieu and Native elites surfaced.
With street protests fizzling, Professor Palmater (see below) on February 9 speculated INM’s next phase would consist of “educated Aboriginals” and Chiefs working behind-the-scenes on endeavours such as blocking mines.
Also on February 9, an un-chastened Chief Spence appeared via video link at a seminar (hosted by the U of Alberta and graced by INM luminaries Wab Kinew and Tanya Kappo) to declare “White Man’s law” does not apply to traditional territories.
By early March, INM’s founders were scrambling to institutionalize INM into a formal organization so as to capitalize on their 15 weeks of fame.
Idle No More was an Environmental Activist Phenomenon
The splash-page of Idle No More’s (INM) website shouts about the plundering of Native lands by “the corporations”, adding:
Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty and which protects the land and the water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and to damages to land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationships, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth. (emphasis added)
INM’s 20-line Manifesto mentions “sustainability” four times amidst phrases like: “land and water poisoned”, “animals and plants are dying”, and “we will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land, and air.”
Upon request Google provides daily dispatches of up to ten news articles regarding any current issue. Google fetched several hundred Idle No More articles between early December 2012 and mid-February 2013. The vast majority of these articles mention INM activists’ environmentalist motives.
On January 9 CBC broadcast an indicative piece titled: Urban centres key to Idle No More’s fight for Mother Nature. The next day the Hamilton Spectator quoted an INM organizer: “We need to come together to defend the earth.”
A January 14 CTV piece was taken up with explaining how the Harper Tories were “devastating our land and waters.” Rolling Stone magazine ran a pro-INM story beneath a photo of protestors in Prague lined up behind an anti-tar sands banner.
A Prince Albert newspaper published an interview of a white pro-INM lawyer who mentioned “environment” five times while stressing how Natives must lead environmental struggles. On the same day two dozen INM protestors marched in Banff behind a giant “Mother Earth” banner. This pattern was repeated in many small centres such as Muskoka and Cowichan where 50 to 100 (mainly white) INMers paraded with placards emblazoned with enviro-slogans.
Several Native-affiliated enviro-groups (RAVEN, Indigenous Environmental Network, Greenroots, Defenders of the Land, and Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign) participated in INM. As well, big-league environmentalists, such as Bill McGibben of 350.org, endorsed INM.
A well-promoted INM protest in Toronto consisted of a “water ceremony” wherein female Aboriginal water-keepers led a march to Lake Ontario to honour water and water women. Two days later in Vancouver 250 INMers held an anti-tar sands protest. Another Toronto INM demo was held in front of a nuclear facility. An INM demo on Vancouver Island consisted of anti-aquaculture activist Alexandra Morton marching her flock into a supermarket to cause a scene in front of the farmed salmon display.
Here are profiles of several INM leaders with deep green roots:
Russell Diabo was a senior INM ideologue. The original INM website linked to a large cache of references to Diabo; especially to his “Breaking down the Indian Act” spiel. In December, INM activists (relatives of Diablo) posted a video of Diablo ruminating about the mobilization. He also appeared on an Indigenous Waves radio broadcast alongside Palmater to discuss INM.
Diabo was born on Kahnawake reserve. In the late-1980s/early-1990s he was policy consultant for the Barriere Lake Band during their anti-logging campaign. In 1997 he was Indian Act coordinator for the Assembly of First Nations. By 1999, and for some time after, he was “Traditional Use Study Research Director” for the Adams Lake and Neskonlith Bands. (2)
Diabo is at the centre of the First Nations Strategic Policy Counsel clique whose most visible product is the anti-capitalist, pro-UN, and militantly environmentalist First Nations Strategic Bulletin. Their October 2012 issue contains the much-quoted Harper Launches Major Termination Plan wherein Diabo calls for suspending land claims negotiations, a national day of action, and grassroots mobilization.
Diabo co-founded Defenders of the Land – a group supported by 35 Native Bands including the usual suspects: Lubicon, Adams Lake, Haida Gwai, etc. Defenders of the Land is a low-budget NGO dating to a 2008 Winnipeg confab. They have not held a major conference since.
Defenders’ demands are: a) Aboriginal veto power over resource developments; b) ending assimilation; and, of course, c) the “Government of Canada, through an independent body, provide financial support to Indigenous Peoples who are struggling to exercise or defend their rights.”
Defenders worship Mother Earth and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. They trash private ownership of Native land and the Indian Act.
During INM’s crescendo, the Globe and Mail gave Diabo ample space to rant. He wrote:
“… First Nations across the country have been battling destructive resource exploitation. In British Columbia the Tsihlqotin have blocked a company from turning a sacred, fish-bearing lake into a miner’s tailing pond. The Tahltin protected the Sacred Headwaters from frakking. KI First Nation in northern Ontario booted out the platinum companies …” (3)
Several media articles listed Eriel Deranger as an INM spokesperson. She organized INM demos, including blockades, and she was very active in INM’s social media circuit.
Eriel is a 30-something mother of two. Her mother, Susana Deranger, is a lifelong professional Aboriginal eco-activist who landed CIDA grants for work in South America. Susana is a director of Greenroots. Eriel and Susana are both Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation members. (4)
According to lore, Eriel was born in northern Saskatchewan just as her parents were being evicted from their trap-line by an evil uranium mining corporation. Her parents, American Indian Movement activists, met at Wounded Knee. After “things went crazy” her father (never named) invited Susana to live in the bush near Uranium City “and so Susana Deranger left her homeland (theUSA) behind.” Eriel’s parents parted long ago.
Eriel’s early jobs involved researching land claims and counselling Aboriginal youth in Winnipeg and Regina. She had paying gigs with: TakingITGlobal, Canadian Heritage, Aboriginal Affairs, and the UN Indigenous Youth Caucus. Since 2006 she has participated in the New York-based UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Eriel was briefly Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada’s Prairie Branch. More recently she managed the anti-oil sands file for Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). In 2009 she was spokeswoman for Lush Soap’s anti-oil sands campaign. In 2012 she toured Europe as part of an anti-Shell Oil campaign. She is a prominent opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Eriel is currently Communications Coordinator for the eco-activist Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (AFCN). Her ongoing relationship with RAN and IEN is murky. (5)
Chief Adam issued a pro-INM statement claiming Bill C-45 was “racist” and that it removed lakes and rivers from environmental protection. His campaign against Shell’s Jackpine Oil Sands expansion has been endorsed by 50 environmental NGOs and Native Bands.
(AFCN claims a membership of 1,071. The Band’s several reserves span 360 square kilometres, but only 22 members live on-reserve. Many Band members live in the nearby town of Fort Chipewyan – Alberta’s oldest European settlement.)
Melina Laboucan helped organize INM rallies including a seminal demo in Edmonton during the original Day of Action where she was a main speaker and media spokesperson.
Laboucan dropped out of York U’s Masters in Environmental Studies program to become a professional eco-activist. She has been a full-time Greenpeace employee since 2009. She led a delegation of indigenous leaders from Canada and the USA in “Tar Sands Action”. In 2012 she testified before US Congress about the oil sands.
Laboucan claims to hail from the sketchy Lubicon Cree First Nation Band, but judging from her appearance she is at most Metis. The Lubicon Band goes by many names and does not have a reserve. Estimates as to the number of “Lubicons” vary from 32 to 939. A “Lubicon Lake First Nation” (LLFN) received $1.6 million from AANDC in 2011. LLFN’s office is a postal box in Peace River, Alberta. LLFN’s website reads like a Greenpeace brochure.
LLFN’s Consultation Unit is a shakedown racket targeting oil and gas producers across a huge area of ceded Treaty 8 territory in northwestern Alberta. Consultation Unit leader Garrett Tomlinson organized an intimidating paramilitary-style six-location INM demo at all entrance points around a large oil and gas facility on January 16. He also organized a 50-protestor “slowdown” of Highway 986 on January 27. Garrett and fellow Consultation Unit operative Cynthia Tomlinson both graduated from Lethbridge University’s Native American Studies Department.
Also in the Consultation Unit is Bryan Laboucan. Two Treaty 8 Chiefs are surnamed “Laboucan”. (6)
Crystal Lameman was another INM activist in Alberta. A teacher by training, Crystal is a career Aboriginal eco-activist connected to RAVEN, Powershift, and IEN. She is the niece of anti-oil sands monger Chief Al Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation.
Susanne McCrea, a key INMer in Winnipeg, is Executive Director of the Boreal Forest Network.
Wanda Nanibush, a star INMer in Toronto, began her activist career in 1995 by chaining herself to a uranium processing plant’s fence …
Idle No More was NOT a Grassroots Phenomenon
INM was described by the media, and by INMers, as a “grassroots” movement. In contemporary Native terminology “grassroots” activism means activism NOT initiated or directed by the Band Chiefs. However, INM was largely directed and fronted by Chiefs.
The desire of INM founders to maintain “grassroots” creds created palpable tension. The founders issued statements distancing INM from the newly activist Chiefs.
Nevertheless, during the INM brouhaha, Chiefs attended, organized, and/or led most INM events including illegal blockades. Chiefs were often spokespeople at these events (where they usually bleated enviro-propaganda). Chief Spence stole the show with her uber-dramatic “hunger strike”.
Chief Stan Beardy is Grand Chief of the 134-Band Ontario Region. Prior to becoming Grand Chief, he was Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (2000-2012), and before that he was Chief of Muskrat Dam First Nation (1990-2000). Beardy was an early INM supporter. He wrote a letter to the Queen on behalf of INM.
Union of BC Indian Chiefs president, Chief Stewart Phillip, was keynote speaker at eight INM rallies. His wife was also a regular speaker (both played the enviro-card).
On January 6 the webzine Indian Country posted an endorsement of INM signed by 24 organizations, among them: Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Quebec and BC chapters of AFN, and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.
The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations endorsed INM, as did Regional Chiefs from PEI and Nova Scotia.
Chief Delisle of the 7,500-member Kahnawake Mohawk Nation endorsed INM. Chief Eva Ottawa of the 7,000-member Atikamekw Nation boycotted the January 11 meeting with Harper to show solidarity with Chief Spence. Also boycotting was Chief Nepinak, Grand Chief of the Association of Manitoba Chiefs, who threatened to quit the AFN to protest the AFN’s lukewarm support for INM.
Oneida Chief Joel Abram led a major INM street protest in Windsor, Ontario. Blockades of a highway south of Edmonton and a railroad in Nova Scotia were led by Chiefs.
In February, BC Chief Garry Feschuk called on INM activists “to ramp it up” (specifically to focus on blocking the Northern Gateway pipeline). At the same meeting, George Goulet of the BC Metis Federation declared himself 100% behind INM (and “Mother Earth”).
The following Chiefs actively supported INM: Onion Lake Chief Wallace Fox, Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, Moose Cree Chief Norm Hardisty, Serpent River Chief Isadore Day, Grand River Chief Lyle Sayers, Betchewana Chief Dean Sayers, Chief Shining Turtle (Frank Paibomsai) of Whitefish River First Nation, Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation, and Nishnawbe Aski Grand Chief Harvey Yesno.
(Not all Chiefs endorsed INM. Pro-industry Natives did not support INM, but few Chiefs expressed opposition. Exceptions were former Chief Ernie Crey and Chief Gottfriedson, both prominent BC politicians. Alberta’s Mikisew Cree Chief Steve Courtoreille sympathized with INM but opposed blockades. The Chief of the Enoch Cree complained INM distracted attention from real issues. Chief Jerry Primrose of Nelson House, Manitoba Cree opposed INM tactics. The Mohawk Council in Quebec accused INM of “allowing those responsible for the problems within the AFN to hijack the movement.” A mid-January poll showed 52% of Aboriginals opposing blockades.)
The media trumpeted the fact that INM was led by university-educated Natives. This fact also conflicts with INM’s “grassroots” credential. 50% of Natives do not finish high school. Only 8% of Natives have some form of post-secondary certificate, compared to 25% for non-Native Canadians. Tellingly, dozens of INM leaders have PhDs (see the INM and Aboriginal Academy section below.)
In addition to the presence of Band Chiefs, professional eco-activists, and academics, there were others atop the INM scene clearly not of “grassroots” stature such as: Ellen Gabriel (director of Indigenous Women of Turtle Island), Earl Lambert (Aboriginal motivational speaker), and Beverley Jacobs (Native Women’s Association).
Former Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman (of Chippewa Rama First Nation) made a much publicized trip to Chief Spence’s protest encampment.
Ontario Court of Appeal Judge Harry LaForme (of Mississauga First Nation) endorsed INM in a speech where he declared the relationship between First Nations and Canada to have gone wrong circa 1800 when Natives began impeding economic development. He called for new treaties based on some Orwellian notion of “equality”.
Many top INMers were children of legendary Aboriginal politicians; examples: the environmentally correct Dionne Sechelt (daughter of a powerful Chief), Morningstar Mercredi, and hard-core INMer Tanyo Kappo (a law school grad and daughter of Harold Cardinal).
Rueben George is another Aboriginal royal atop the INM ziggurat. Reuben was a regular speaker at INM rallies in Vancouver. A video of one of his speeches is posted on the INM website.
Rueben is the grandson of the celebrated actor Chief Dan George. Among his many spiritual roles, Rueben is Sundance Chief for BC’s Tsiel-Waututh Nation. He is also the Band’s Director of Community Development. Reuben is a familiar face at anti-pipeline gatherings.
Activist-actress Tantoo Cardinal was the lure at several INM events. Most notably, she gave the keynote address at an INM confab in Saskatoon. Just before this engagement Tantoo was arrested at an anti-Keystone pipeline protest.
Tantoo was born Rose Marie Cardinal in 1950 unto a Metis mother (Julia Cardinal) and an undisclosed father who, if he possessed any Aboriginal ancestry, we would know about it. She is billed as having been “raised among the Cree” (by an English step-grandfather). “Tantoo” is a stage name (Tonto having been taken). Tantoo’s activism began in the early-1970s and pre-dates her acting career. Every acting role she has landed has been due to her Aboriginal ancestry. She is at most 25% Aboriginal.
Adam Beach and Michelle Thrush, both Aboriginal actors made famous by the CBC, supported INM.
Aboriginal musicians in the INM milieu include several rappers and drumming troops (“drumming” is too generous a term; “thumping” would be more accurate) but also the likes of Buffy Sainte-Marie.
While INM was described as “social media-driven”, it was actually mainstream media-driven. Canada’s media oligopoly (CBC, CTV, Global, Postmedia, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star et al) gave timely, extensive, and favourable coverage to INM actions and leaders. Thanks to this coverage, by mid-January two-thirds of Canadians had heard of Idle No More.
The media covered picayune INM events. The CBC gave national exposure to an INM “circle discussion” in Yellowknife with 11 people attending and to a rally at a Winnipeg museum where 20 protestors showed up. A rally of six people in Hardisty, Alberta was deemed newsworthy.
The media advertised INM events for free. Dozens of local newspaper articles and national television broadcasts gave detailed coordinates of upcoming INM demos. For INM’s roundly publicized January 28 International Day of Action, the Hamilton Spectator printed when and where to board the buses carrying protestors to Ottawa. The CBC advertised upcoming illegal road blockades!
INM’s activists had liberal access to publically-owned venues. Native friendship centres, tribal council halls, and university lecture theatres were used for INM teach-ins and protest staging areas. The Burnaby Art Gallery boasted of a display featuring INM posters. The Penticton Art Gallery was made available for an INM seminar organized by local environmentalists.
Some Canadian social democrats, and “progressive” churches, supported INM from the outset. More piled onto the bandwagon in late January – just as its wheels were coming off.
Judy Rebick’s Rabble.ca boosted INM from day one. Rabble editor Derrick O’Keefe considered INM to be a “very organic grassroots movement on behalf of the marginalized.”
Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow returned their Diamond Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II medals in solidarity with INM.
Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair joined a parade of politicians crawling through the teepee flap for a photo-op with Chief Spence. Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan co-starred at a pro-INM forum in Edmonton to stress environmental issues. MP Romeo Saganash, the NDP’s house Native, used INM hoopla to pitch his private member’s bill aimed at enshrining the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law.
On January 23 Michel Lambert (executive of “Alternatives”) invited INM founders to a conference at Ottawa U with a view to co-opting them into his People’s Forum initiative. Simultaneously, Common Cause – a coalition of 80 organizations (Canadian Labour Congress, Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Public Interest et al) – caught INM fever.
SECTION B: THE TRIBAL DICTATORSHIPS
Idle No More and the Tribal Dictatorships
Of Canada’s 632 registered Native groupings, 617 are official Native Bands (the remainder are tiny populations stuck in bureaucratic limbo). Canada has 3,150 reserves. Some Bands have multiple reserves. Some reserves are abandoned.
In the 1970s Native Bands re-christened themselves as “First Nations”. 58% of these Nations have populations below 1,000. Average First Nation membership is 1,400. The largest First Nation is the 25,000-member Six Nations on the Grand River (Ontario). The 20th largest, Opaskwayak Cree Nation (Manitoba), has 5,400 members. The remaining 597 Nations have populations below 5,000.
Almost half of Band members live off-reserve. 78% of reserves have fewer than 1,000 residents. 35% of reserves have fewer than 300 residents.
Reserves are rightly notorious for corrupt, incompetent, undemocratic governance. Despite the infamous squalor found on reserves, there exists a stratum of tribal dictators living in opulence.
According to a Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) study, in 2009 some 50 Native reserve politicians (Chiefs, Councillors, Band Managers, etc.) received take-home-pay packages greater than the Prime Minister’s (on-reserve pay is tax-free); 160 Native politicians’ take-home pay exceeded that of their respective provincial Premiers; 634 Native politicians received annual pay packages at least equivalent to a $100,000 salary.
Manitoba’s Peguis First Nation has 3,000 members. In 2009 several Peguis Councillors received salaries exceeding $200,000, tax free. The Chief rang up $105,000 in travel expenses in one year.
One East Coast Chief paid himself an annual salary of $978,408. His reserve had 304 residents.
None of the above figures include monies received by Chiefs and Councillors from on-reserve businesses or from bribes, kickbacks, or from their cuts from illegal tobacco and salmon enterprises etc. (7)
(In 2008 the RCMP estimated there were 30 illegal cigarette factories operating on Canadian reserves. Seven were on the Six Nations Reserve, which was also home to hundreds of “smoke-shacks” selling bags of “rollies”. The Sicilian Mafia, Hell’s Angels, et al exchange drugs for cigarettes, thereby fueling rampant drug abuse among Native youth.) (8)
After the CTF’s initial exposé, many Band Councils suddenly became adept at creatively shrinking their apparent salaries. Still, Chief Roger Redman of Saskatchewan’s 400-member Standing Buffalo First Nation paid himself $194,737 in 2012 (tax-free). To quell an uprising on Redman’s reserve, he padlocked the Band office and absconded with the Band’s chequebook. (9)
Corruption abounds. Chief John Thunder, of Manitoba’s Buffalo Point First Nation (a man with zero Aboriginal ancestry) used $900,000 in Band funds to build 14 on-reserve rental cabins which he treats as his personal property. The caper came to light after Thunder capriciously levied additional taxes on top of the cottage lease payments.
Another Manitoba Chief kyboshed a much-needed housing program because his company did not win the contract to build it.
Across Canada, Band members who ask prying questions about delicate financial matters receive death threats, or have their houses torched, or are denied access to education or home repair funds. (10)
While INMers, and their media allies, strained to make Bill C-45 the issue, two other Bills (C-27 and S-6) were of far greater concern for tribal elites.
For starters, C-45’s Indian Act amendments were innocuous:
Many Bands lease reserve land for shopping centres, resource development, etc. To approve such land uses, the pre-C-45 Indian Act required Bands to win a referendum voted on by a majority of all far-flung Band members or, alternatively, to win approval at a public meeting where the quorum was a majority of Band members. The Bill C-45 amendment lowered the bar such that a simple majority vote at a properly advertised Band meeting would suffice. This change was recommended by prominent Chiefs and by counsel for the AFN. This amendment is not the stuff to inflame tribal elites.
Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (which passed the Commons on December 13, 2012 and languished in a Senate committee until March 7, 2013) will require detailed annual financial audits of all Native Bands including explications of payments given to Chiefs and Councillors. Said audits will be posted on the Bands’ and AANDC’s websites. The reserve bosses dread this.
As well, S-6 (First Nations Elections Act) will provide Native Bands with an easy opt-in procedure for installing a boilerplate democratic governance framework for Native Bands. S-6 passed the Senate on May 4, 2012 and is slowly working its way through the Commons.
Many hope C-27 and S-6 will elicit a “Native Spring” of overdue topplings of entrenched reserve tyrants.
Harper further agitated tribal elites in 2012 with across-the-board cuts of 10% to Aboriginal Representative Organizations and $500,000 caps on provincial Tribal Council budgets. The Saskatchewan Chiefs Association’s Federal funding went from $1.5 million to $500,000. The Manitoba Chiefs Association’s (MCA) Federal allotment was slashed from $2.6 million to $500,000. (The MCA still has an annual budget of around $7 million, much ending up in Chief’s pockets.) (11)
Chief Teresa's Fiefdom
Inasmuch as Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Teresa Spence became the face of Idle No More, investigating the state of her fiefdom is fair game.
Attawapiskat First Nation has a registered population of 3,400 of whom 1,800 reside on their 1 square mile northern Ontario reserve. This “Nation” received $104 million from the Federal Government between April 2005 and November 2011.
An audit of the Band Council’s books by Deloitte was leaked to the CBC on January 7, 2012. Of the 505 audited transactions 400 lacked sufficient documentation. For 60% of these transactions, the Band Council could muster zero documentation. A Deloitte audit was hardly needed to expose wholesale fraud and embezzlement by the Band Council; their website provides sufficient evidence.
The Band’s posted documents describe $34 million in annual revenues (2011) but provide only sketchy details as to where this money went. The Council, notoriously but not unusually, does not prepare budgets. They issue retrospectives on where the money must have gone.
Expenditure breakdowns are given for the salaries of Chiefs, Councillors, and some managers. This $1.2 million accounts for 3.5% of the budget. No details are given for “Contracting” ($1.3 million) and “Other” ($4.8 million). (12)
Twenty-five elected officials received compensation. Many received around $10,000, but a dozen received pay packages between $45,000 and $88,000. Councillor pay inexplicably ranges from $22,000 to $73,000.
Managerial pay is less penetrable. The Acting Manager rang up $68,937 in travel expenses in two months in 2011. His predecessor earned $173,000 in 2007. The Technical Services Manager’s salary varied from $126,402 in 2007 to $88,000 in 2011. (It was heartening to see this manager and his wife pulling in identical $98,000 salaries in 2010.)
Chief Teresa Spence’s “common law husband”, Clayton Kennedy, was hired as the General Manager – for $850 a day. He is pulling down around $212,500 a year. Chief Spence earns $71,377 a year. They have a tax-free household income of $283,877. This is not a full accounting of their income. (13) Spence winds her lavishly manicured fingernails around the steering wheel of new Cadillac.
The $11 million spent on “wages and benefits” is not the Band’s total payroll. “Administration” and “Program Delivery” are separate categories. Much of the $15 million going to these two categories is for wages, etc. Thus, the total annual payroll is probably around $18 million. At $50,000 per employee this works out to 360 employees – in a village of 320 households!?!
A Management Letter from the Band’s accountant complains about woefully inadequate verification of timesheets, paycheques, etc. The same letter registers even more serious complaints about the Band’s $450,000 a month welfare disbursement. (This translates into about 200 welfare cheques a month – in a village enjoying a mining boom and government employment bonanza!?!) (14)
In the real world, authorities prowl for scammers who collect welfare while working under the table. Perpetrators get charged with fraud and get booted off welfare. This does not happen in Attawapiskat (or on many other reserves).
Much Attawapiskat governance is contracted out to Attawapiskat Education Authority, Attawapiskat Development Corp, Attawapiskat Health Services Board, Attawapiskat Power Corp, Attawapiskat Ltd. Partnership, etc. The financial statements give little data on these entities and there is much shuffling of funds amongst them.
No data is provided regarding Attawapiskat Resources Inc. (ARI) - the front company for six joint ventures providing catering and security (and explosives) services to the De Beers’ mine. These joint ventures are between non-Native businesses and Attawapiskat Ltd. Partnership, which is 99% Band-owned and 1% ARI-owned. Of 100 ARI employees, 40 are from Attawapiskat. (15)
ARI’s Chair and President is Steve Hookimaw. ARI’s Administrator is Dorothy Hookimaw. Steve is also a Band Councillor ($56,561 per year) and an Educational Authority director ($10,650 per year). Dorothy is a Band Administrator ($46,482 per year). Their ARI salaries are not divulged. (Eight persons surnamed “Hookimaw” are involved in Attawapiskat governance.) (16)
De Beers has invested $1 billion into their Victor (diamond) Mine located 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat. The mine employs 440 people of whom 160 are Aboriginals (60 from Attawapiskat). De Beers has awarded $360 million worth of long-term contracts to Aboriginal-owned or co-owned companies. De Beers has donated trailers to the homeless of Attawapiskat and textbooks for the reserve school.
In 2005 De Beers entered into an Impact Benefit Agreement with Attawapiskat First Nation pursuant to which Attawapiskat First Nation Trust (AFN Trust) receives quarterly payments of $500,000. AFN Trust was valued at $8.7 million on December 31, 2011.
Over the 2010-2011 fiscal year the Band withdrew $940,000 from the AFN Trust. Reasons for these withdrawals include: a) gifts of $200,000 to persons unknown for “elder recognition”; b) $36,000 for goose hunting; and c) $100,000 for recreational centre staff. (17)
(A separate Trust holds ARI’s retained profits. While the Band makes no mention on this Trust, there are posted references to it, usually in statements made by Steve Hookimaw.)
Despite these cash stashes, the Band has the gall to invite international media onto Attawapiskat reserve to bear witness to the squalid housing endured by about 40 reserve families. The Band’s official lie is:
“The First Nation has no available monies to spend on housing…” (18)
Almost as an aside, Band Manager Clayton Kennedy blames Attawapiskat’s woes on: a) predictably, chronic AANDC underfunding; b) candidly, on over-staffing, and; c) intriguingly, on the Band’s overspending on “security”. (19)
Judge Reilly's Testimony (20)
John Reilly became a judge in 1981. Most of his work was at the Criminal Court at Cochrane, Alberta – a foothills town west of Calgary. The 650 square kilometre Stoney Indian reserve and its main town, Morley, are just west of Cochrane.
The Stoneys are three divided into three “nations”: Wesley, Chiniki, and Bearspaw. (Reilly contends the only explanation for this subdivision is greed – three bands means three sets of paid Chiefs and Councillors.)
In the 1990s the overall Stoney reserve had a population of 3,500. The Cochrane Court served an area with a population of 35,000. Stoneys made up 75% of the Court’s work. Stoneys were usually charged with public drunkenness, drunk driving, and assault (usually wife-beating). This overrepresentation was evident to Reilly in 1981, but it took a decade before he really questioned why this was so.
Ultimately Reilly would expose the corruption and dysfunction on the Stoney reserve by using his powers as a sentencing judge to order the prosecutor’s office to investigate the social and political circumstances of Stoney offenders. While welcomed by many Stoneys, and by some in the media, Reilly’s order irked higher judges and government officials. Nevertheless, the report and the ensuing media imbroglio shone light on the inner workings of one Native reserve.
In the early 1990s Reilly became involved in the Case Management & Stoney Justice Initiative to seek advice from police, lawyers, psychologists, and Natives to strategize around the Stoney crime problem.
To Reilly, part of the solution lay in the alternative-to-prison provisions of the Criminal Code (718.2 e) which singled out Aboriginal offenders for special attention. He wanted to send recidivists to rehab and anger management clinics as opposed to jail. This brought him into conflict with Stoney Chiefs who underfunded such programs. The reserve’s “healing lodge” was shut down in 1996. Reilly’s efforts to discuss the Justice Initiative with Wesley Band Chief John Snow proved difficult as Snow was often off on junkets to Montreal, Seattle, etc.
The Reverend Doctor John Snow was first elected Chief in 1959, and he was re-elected continually until 1992. He lost the 1992 election but returned with a vengeance in 1996. He retired in 2000.
Snow’s accomplishments are legendary. He was given credit for writing These Mountains Are Our Sacred Lands. An ordained United Church Minister, Snow led the All (Alberta) Tribes Presbytery. He received two honorary doctorates from U of Calgary. He was keynote speaker at a Canadian Bar Association convention. One-thousand people attended his funeral in 2006.
During their first meeting, the Judge took a dislike to the Chief. What got to Reilly was that Snow made no pretense of caring for his people. Privately, Snow called them “the stupid Stoneys”.
The reserve’s official unemployment rate (1997) was 37%, but the real unemployment rate was far higher. While Stoneys got reserve housing effectively for free, they were kept on welfare stipends as low as $200 a month. The reserve was a welfare ghetto – a prison without bars. Alcoholism was endemic.
This was not a poor reserve. In addition to tens of millions of dollars in Federal and provincial grants, the Stoney reserve received $15 million in natural gas royalties in 1996. There were also lucrative Band-owned businesses such as the Nakoda Lodge and a gas station.
The major employers were the Band Councils. Many Band employees showed up at work, punched the time clock, and immediately went home. Reilly alludes to kickback schemes whereby Chiefs received bribes for providing these “no-show” jobs. (This is an economic fact of life on many reserves.)
Reilly estimates that between mid-1995 and mid-1997 there were several hundred spousal assaults on the Stoney reserve. Of 59 reported cases of spousal assault during these two years, in only 42 instances were the perpetrators charged. One perpetrator was convicted. Victims were too afraid of reprisals (and “bad medicine”) to cooperate with authorities.
The on-reserve suicide rate (six per year) was ten times the national average. Deaths and injuries due to drunk driving were equally aberrant.
Circa 1997 there were over 600 kids on the reserve of K-12 school age. School attendance was one-third that number. The schools were in a state of permanent chaos. Staff turnover was continuous. Severe bullying went unchecked. The gym was condemned due to lack of maintenance. In Snow’s heyday, Morley High School had no (zero) graduates!
Judge Reilly believes Snow et al deliberately undermined the schools because uneducated Stoneys were easier to dominate. Snow’s children were chauffeured to off-reserve schools.
Another instrument of control was “bad medicine” – a type of voodoo that Stoneys took seriously. Chief Snow was an avid and infamous practitioner of bad medicine.
After his 1996 re-election Snow fired 90 employees. Whole families were fired. The campaign manager for Snow’s re-election was rewarded with a $7,000 monthly pay package (combined welfare and wages, but all tax-free). Snow’s two sons were placed on the Band payroll as were his daughters Rachel and Gloria (Miss Indian World 1993). Snow habitually lied about the Band’s financial situation.
Snow treated the Band-owned, government-subsidized Nakoda Lodge motel as his personal business and villa. His extended family used the Lodge without paying. Uncharged trips to its kitchen were their primary source of nourishment.
Snow scooped $30,000 of Band funds to magnanimously hand out as prizes at an upcoming pow-wow; all “prizes” went to his relatives.
In 1997 the three Stoney Chiefs had combined “official” salaries $450,000, the largest share going to Snow.
Bearspaw Chief Philomene Stevens (a morbidly obese woman with a grade 4 education who revered Chief Snow like a god) was the daughter John Stevens – another “medicine man” and an illegal logging racketeer. A large forest clearing visible from the highway was nicknamed “John Stevens’ clear cut”.
Judge Reilly watched hundreds of logging trucks exit the reserve. He estimates $50 million in lumber was stolen via corrupt deals between tribal elites and loggers. A lawsuit launched to recoup these funds was immediately discontinued upon Snow’s 1996 re-election. As well, band-owned cattle were illegally appropriated by the Chiefs.
In 1997 the Chiefs discontinued emergency food voucher handouts. A few months previous, Chief Philomene Stevens and her entourage spent a week at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Phoenix, dropping $18,000 in the process. Also in 1997, the Chiefs held a special meeting whereat they terminated a special-needs program for kids. The Chiefs earned an additional $600 each for attending the meeting.
One Chief entered into a dodgy contract whereby an Indian Affairs manager was hired (for $180,000 a year) despite rules prohibiting Indian Affairs employees from accepting jobs with Bands within 12 months of leaving the Ministry. The same Chief embezzled $16,000 from a Federal addiction rehab grant to buy himself a show horse.
Another Chief gave a piece of road construction equipment (a grader) to her brother. She was charged with theft but acquitted after successfully pleading that such gifts were a “tribal custom”.
Another Chief used the Band’s welfare fund to pay domestic servants. She also fraudulently claimed to be the foster parent of non-existent kids.
Just how little democracy there is on the Stoney reserve is illustrated by the Morley Administration Building. It was built for Band Council meetings but never used. Council meetings held in Morley attracted too many Stoneys bumming money, so the venue was switched to Las Vegas hotels.
SECTION C: IDLE NO MORE AND THE ABORIGINAL ACADEMY
The Aboriginal Industry encompasses law firms, government departments, art dealerships, and more. The Aboriginal Academy (i.e. the Aboriginal quarter on campuses) is but one branch of this Aboriginal Industry. The Aboriginal Academy is a state-funded, ethno-religious intelligentsia committed to steering the entire movement in an ultra-nationalist, segregationist, and environmentalist direction.
Canada's Aboriginal Academy; Past and Present (21)
Native Studies programs sprouted on Canadian campuses in the 1970s as part of a continental trend toward the inclusion of “ethnic” (Black, Hispanic) studies programs.
Native Studies promoters were partly motivated by a desire to defuse the militancy of the American Indian Movement and Native Indian Brotherhood; but other forces were at work. The Native Studies mecca, UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center, was conceived by the Ford Foundation in the mid-1960s.
Early US Indian Studies programs combined: a) Indian language and culture; b) re-interpretive history; and c) Indian-involved education, social work, and health care. These were casual programs wherein Indians received a hearing.
A 1970 Indian Association of Alberta (IAA) paper called for Indian-run education. In 1972 IAA unsuccessfully lobbied U of Alberta to create a Native Studies program. A 1972 Native Indian Brotherhood paper demanded governments facilitate the participation of Indians in Native Studies programs.
Initially many Canadian universities introduced Native Studies merely by altering existing programs to emphasize Native language, identity, and arts. During the 1970s, Native Studies changed from being “an academic chronicler of Native culture” to being “actively involved in their preservation and development”.
The main controversy within Native Studies regarded practical versus academic instruction, conventional education versus cultural education. The latter prevailed, often over the objections of students who complained of being unprepared for the non-Aboriginal job market.
Another controversy surrounded the lowering of academic standards for Native students and instructors. A 1978 task force found American and Canadian universities seriously compromised academic standards in order to provide teaching roles for Natives.
A ground-breaking “Indian-Eskimo Studies” program appeared, with high-level support, in 1969 inside Trent University’s Anthropology Department. In 1971 this program was placed under the titular supervision of a real Indian and re-branded “Native Studies”. The program mixed Native culture classes with normal university classes and with innovations like Native Political Science.
In 1974 Trent U added a two-year diploma program to accommodate Native high school drop-outs.
In 1993 Trent U launched the Trent Aboriginal Educational Council to improve collaboration between university administrators and regional Band Chiefs.
The Saskatchewan Indian Federation College (SIFC) was founded in 1976 under the auspices of the University of Regina. From inception SIFC was Native-controlled and Native-centred as evidenced by its mandatory Cree language class. In its opening year SIFC had nine students.
In 1984 SIFC employed seven of the 12 Native Canadians with PhDs. Some SIFC professors had only a BA.
By 1989 SIFC was awarding BA degrees in: Cree, Ojibway, Indian Art, and Art History. SIFC’s motto was:
“Culture is the heart and soul of a nation. Language conveys culture. Art documents culture.”
In 2003 SFIC was renamed First Nations University of Canada (FNUC). By 2012 FNUC had survived several near-fatal financial scandals to grow into a three-campus, 800-student enterprise employing 44 professors and an indeterminable number of “Elders”.
Across the continent, in the 1980s, Elders were incorporated into Native Studies. Elders steered curricula toward traditionalism and spiritualism. The involvement of Elders was facilitated by “alternative qualification” regimes that extended to Elders a veneer of academic credibility. Elders, without any academic credentials, received tenure.
By the early-1990s, both Trent and SIFC employed an array of Elders as language teachers and counsellors. Elders-in-residence (“healers”) instructed students in smudging, talking circles, sweat lodges, and sweet-grass burning. By the late-1990s, Native language classes across Canada were taught by Elders whose “Indigenous Knowledge” was recognized as equivalent to normal academic credentials.
U of A’s School of Native Studies (est. 1986) began with an emphasis on language, culture, activism, and self-government. None of U of A’s original Native language team had any post-secondary education. U of A also established a Native Student Services Office to provide remedial studies and support services. 70% of the Native student body used this office. SIFC and UNBC established similar offices.
In 1990 U of A set a goal of having an overall student body 5% comprised of First Nations students. Toward these ends, U of A launched First Nations law, health, and education courses as ancillaries to regular faculties and in addition to the Native Studies program. U of A also launched four satellite colleges on or near reserves.
University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) was the first university to open with a Native Studies department already in place. According to Chairwoman Margaret Anderson:
“The support by First Nations for establishing the University was very strong, and it was a political animal from the get go.”
First Nations Chiefs, especially those from the Nisga’a, are entrenched in UNBC governance. UNBC offers Nisga’a (and Haisla) culture and language courses. (New Brunswick U offers a Mi’kmaq Studies program.) UNBC’s Native program emphasizes community internships.
Chief Shawn Atleo, the current head of the Assembly of First Nations, is also the Chancellor of the upstart multi-campus Vancouver Island University.
By 2000 most Canadian universities were offering Native Studies programs designed by Aboriginal leaders, accepting Aboriginal students with below-par academic qualifications, and several universities were running off-campus and distance-education programs especially for Aboriginals.
Presently (2013) there are 216 BA, MA, or PhD programs in Indigenous/Aboriginal/Native Studies on the menus at 42 Canadian universities. McGill University has 12 such programs. The U of Saskatchewan has 13, as do both U of Regina and UBC. UNBC offers 16 such programs. U of T offers 15. (22)
One genre of program consists of placing the words “First Nations” or “Aboriginal” in front of a conventional profession as in: Aboriginal Law, First Nations Social Work, etc.
Another genre of program betrays a segregationist agenda, to wit: First Nations Governance, Land-based Indigenous Education, Indigenous Mapping and Land Claims, Indigenous Pedagogy, Aboriginal Post-Colonial and Anti-Racist Education, Post-Colonialism, Indigenous Peoples and Places, Indigenous Thought, Aboriginal Language Revitalization, etc. These are full-degree programs, not mere classes.
At ground zero of this agenda-driven academic activism one finds the University of Victoria’s Environmental and First Nations Science Education, U of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Environmental Studies, and Trent U’s Indigenous Environmental Studies (run by the Mohawk, Dan Longboat – salary, $105,202). Such programs turn out eco-Aboriginal activists in assembly-line fashion.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has an unlimited budget for K-12 education but not for post-secondary education, which they try to fob off onto reluctant provinces. Nevertheless, university-level Native Studies programs receive Federal grants and philanthropic endowments. Moreover, AANDC’s Post-Secondary Student Support Program and its University and College Entrance Preparation Program pay the tuition, travel, living expenses, and daycare costs for Status Indian and Inuit students.
Across Canada 30,000 Natives attend university or college. Several thousand of them are enrolled full time in politically motivated Native Studies programs. About 500 faculty and staff are employed in this race-based realm where DNA determines eligibility for seats in the classroom and positions at the podium and where the topic seldom strays from the limitless treachery of the White Man.
Idle No More's Student Contingent
The Indigenous Canadian Studies Students Association held INM protests at Carleton U and Ottawa U. They demanded more Native language classes, acknowledgement that the campuses were on Native land, and more funding for Native Studies programs.
In solidarity with INM, the U of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Students’ Association (representing 1,200 students) called for a one-day boycott of off-reserve businesses.
Cape Breton U’s Mi’kmaq Governance students held an INM teach-in where the speaker was one of their profs. McGill U’s Indigenous Student Alliance chose Chelsea Vowel to speak at their teach-in. Fifty attended an INM demo at Ryerson to hear Aboriginal motivational speaker Earl Lambert.
Attendance at an INM teach-in was mandatory for some Dalhousie U students. (This did not bother the student interviewed by the campus paper because “Environmentalism is kind of my thing so it was cool to learn more about it.”)
Two chapters of the Canadian Federation of Students, BC’s (representing 16 universities and colleges) and Manitoba’s (representing 25,000 students) endorsed INM, the latter doing so to “confront systems of colonialism”.
The Aboriginal Liaison for the Douglas U Students Union was an INMer. A UNBC Native student boasted of organizing three INM events, each with environmentalist spins. One of Saskatoon’s main INM activists, Erica Lee, used the U of Saskatchewan Native Student Society’s office and computers for INM activism. (Erica is a Sheelah McLean disciple.)
Demos at Algoma U, Thompson Rivers U, Ryerson, Waterloo U et al consisted of 40 to 50 students carrying pro-environmentalist placards and getting smudged by Elders.
Most of the 250 attending a raucous protest at the BC legislature were described as “college kids”.
Aboriginal Academics within Idle No More's Inner Circle
Scores of media interviews hoisted Pam Palmater into the role of de facto spokesperson for the INM “revolution.” Like all INM spokespeople, Palmater plays the “green card”:
“Canadians need to realize that we [Aboriginals] are the last best hope at saving the lands, waters, plants, animals and resources for future generations….” (23)
The latest clue in the mystery enveloping Pam’s racial pedigree arrived in a January 12, 2013 National Post article, which asserted Pam “was once denied status on basis of bloodline” therewith implying she is no longer being denied Indian status. In this article, Palmater “compares herself to a residential school survivor” – but, of course, she isn’t one.
Palmater was denied Mi’kmaq status because her grandmother married a white man. This implies said grandmother is her only connection to sacred Native blood. Pam looks like a European tanaholic.
Pam claims her family “originates at” or “traces back to” Eel River Bar First Nation where her great-grandfather was Chief. Eel River Bar First Nation has a population of 600 of whom 300 live on-reserve. It is unclear whether Palmater is a member.
Her “non-status Indian” website (24) was superseded by her “indigenous nationhood” website (25) in March 2011. This may have corresponded with her winning “status”. A February 3, 2011 posting discusses the recently passed Bill C-3 and its granting of status to persons whose grandmothers lost status for interracial marrying.
Palmater strives to disconnect indigenous-ism from race. She opines:
“…we are labelled, divided and sorted by our gender, age, marital status, family status, race, birth/descent and blood quantum as if we were dogs trying to prove our pedigree.” (26)
“Membership in a band is now more akin to membership in a club, based on superficial criteria, like blood or residency, than the key aspects of Nationhood like common history, common purpose, loyalty and shared set of values.” (27)
A tenacious grasping at a tenuous Aboriginal identity formed the core of Palmater’s survival strategy. Circa 1990 Pam was a single mom on welfare raising two boys. Over the next decade, while residing in Native housing and receiving financial aid from three Native agencies, she piled up four university degrees: a BA in Native Studies, an LLB (with a prize for an Aboriginal rights/environmental law paper), and an MA and PhD – both Aboriginally focused).
Her academic and political pursuits formerly centred on the struggle for privileges by non-status Indians and on a more inclusive Indigenous Nation. These themes manifest in her much-flogged book, Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity (a reprint of her PhD thesis).
After attaining her PhD, Pam worked for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and for the Aboriginal section of the Federal Justice Department. She is now a Torontonian and a professor in Ryerson University’s Politics and Public Administration Department. She is also “academic director” of Ryerson’s Centre for Indigenous Governance – an entity whose website consists of photos of Pam and details of Pam’s appearances which in turn are promos for Pam’s book. The Centre is her publicity agency.
In 2011 Ryerson paid Palmater $163,564.96 and taxable benefits of $870.96. (28)
At the July 18, 2012 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) leadership convention Palmater was defeated by incumbent Chief Shawn Atleo on the third ballot – 341 votes to 141. On the first ballot Atleo had 284 votes and Palmater 95.
Palmater’s activism is a full-time job. It is hard to believe she has time to prepare lectures and correct term papers. She conducted INM interviews from her Ryerson office. The Ontario Liberal regime, through Ryerson, is running an eco-Aboriginal political action committee with Palmater at the helm.
One of Palmater’s supporters for the AFN leadership was Gerald Taiaiake Alfred. INM’s original website contained many links to “Taiaiake”. As a CBC-anointed INM leader, he was treated like a celebrity at INM demos.
His personal website (29) opened with a two-page INM pamphlet co-written by Taiaiake. The pamphlet’s demands were: a) the “duty to consult” Aboriginals be converted into “shared jurisdiction” over natural resources, and b) the Federal Government fund Indigenous Peoples while they develop their capacity for autonomy. The pamphlet assures us that empowering Natives will protect the environment.
Taiaiake was born in 1964 in Montreal but raised in the ethnically cleansed Kahnawake Reserve. He received a PhD from Cornell U. After serving as youth advisor to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1992 to 1996, Taiaiake moved to Vancouver Island (or as he prefers: “Wsanec Nation”) to accept a teaching position at the University of Victoria.
Taiaiake is now a full professor and the head of U of Vic’s Indigenous Governance Department. He recently refocused his energies away from “retraditionalization and leadership training” and toward “the restoration of land-based cultural practices, and decolonization strategies”.
He also carved out a niche measuring environmental impacts on Indigenous cultural practices. He moonlights as an enviro-consultant for Aboriginal bands seeking “land-based cultural restoration plans”.
Taiaiake authored three books, notably, Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Oxford 1999, reissued 2009). (In earlier publications he was Gerald “R.” Alfred. He channelled his inner Hiawatha and was reborn as “Taiaiake” a decade ago.)
A U of Vic full professor with administrative duties was paid about $141,000 in 2011. Add book sales and enviro-consultancy fees and it becomes clear the Aboriginal Industry has been good to Taiaiake. (30)
Taiaiake’s web postings betray a racial obsession; almost every sentence deals with race. He called Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson a “white supremacist” because Ibbitson said new immigrants, being unburdened by white guilt, pose a long-term problem for Natives. Taiaiake responded:
“Anyone who denies our right to exist as nations under our own law on our homelands is a white supremacist...” (31)
Twice Taiaiake called National Post columnist John Ivison an “ignorant immigrant”, once adding that Ivison was a “racist prick”. Taiaiake threatened to “kick his ass”. (32)
Professor Glen Coulthard’s Idle No More in Historical Context (December 24, 2012) is all over the Internet. The article runs the reader through the Indian Summer of 1990, Elijah Harper’s mythical scuttling of the Meech Lake Accord, and the armed standoff at Oka. To these accomplishments he adds: the Barriere Lake Band’s anti-logging operations, the Lubicon Band’s anti-oil operations, and the general eco-Aboriginal obstruction across Ontario and BC. As with everything Coulthard is connected with, the words “racist” and “colonial” lay down a back beat.
The article contains several references to violence and two threats:
“…if the life of Attawapiskat Chief Teresa Spence continues to be recklessly put in jeopardy by a Prime Minister who negligently refuses to capitulate to her reasonable demands, it is my prediction that the spectre of political violence will re-emerge in Indigenous peoples.”
“…if you want those in power to respond swiftly to Indigenous peoples’ political efforts, start by placing Indigenous bodies (with a few logs and tires thrown in for good measure) between settlers and their money...”
Coulthard is an associate professor at UBC’s First Nation Studies Program and the coordinator of this program’s course list. He is also in UBC’s Political Science faculty. He teaches three First Nations Studies classes and one Political Science class (Theorizing Indigenous Politics). UBC associate profs with administrative duties had an average annual salary of $125,357 in 2011.
Coulthard claims to be a Yellowknife Dene, but he looks Caucasian even in buckskin and beads. The Yellowknife Dene reserve is abandoned. Glen seems quite at home in the urban environs of Greater Vancouver (which he prefers to call “Coast Salish Territory”).
Glen led an INM march of about 50 UBC students and staff on January 31. About 300 attended an early-February INM teach-in on UBC campus to hear Glen call for more assertive and more environmentally focused demos. Many attendees were First Nations Studies students.
Sheelah McLean, co-founder of INM, is as white as freshly fallen snow.
Sheelah received a B Ed from the University of Saskatchewan in 1991. In 2007 she picked up an MA in Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppression from the U of S’s Indian and Northern Education Program. She currently teaches “social and ecological justice” at the U of S and a class in “global citizenship” at a Saskatoon high school. She is working on a PhD in Global Education. (33)
All 12 productions and presentations credited to McLean on the U of S’s Native Research data base relate to Native activism, notably Teaching Treaties in the Classroom.
Prior to INM, McLean campaigned to force a Saskatoon high school sports team to drop their Indian head logo and their “Redmen” name; things she considered to be “human rights violations”. A student referendum overwhelmingly supported keeping the name and logo.
Another INM co-founder, Jessica Gordon, graduated from Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, then did a stint at the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority before landing a gig as a life skills coach for Aboriginals at a provincial correctional facility. Prior to INM, Jessica was involved in the activist group Saskatoon Urban Aboriginal Strategy, as was Sheelah McLean.
Sylvia McAdam, another INM co-founder, received little media attention before January 13 when she was profiled by CTV, CBC, Global TV, the Globe and Mail, and the National Post. Most articles identify her as a professor at Regina’s First Nations University of Canada (FNUC). However, the National Post has her as a “consultant” living on Whitefish Lake Reserve. The Intercontinental Cry webzine claims McAdam has degrees in “law and human justice”.
In posted videos, McAdam describes herself as a FNUC lecturer specializing in Cree religion and ritual (smudging, etc.). She is not listed as a FNUC professor, so she may an Elder – and hence, probably earns around $100,000 per year. (34)
From her videos we learn McAdam hails from the Cree-speaking Big River Reservation and that she authored Cultural Traditions (2009). She considers all treaties invalid because Native women never signed them. Her lecture is a slow motion, superstition-laden, entho-chauvinist sermon.
On the INM website McAdam warns her fellow Cree of spiritual retribution should they not follow through on their promises to attend INM rallies. McAdam further informs us:
“We are not only defending the human children, it is all of the plant relatives, tree relatives, animal relatives etc that we defend.”
She opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline.
In February McAdam toured the UK on behalf of INM. Her speeches were given mostly in Cree before props such as grainy photos of Native children toiling as stoop labourers on white-owned farms!?! (35)
Chelsea Vowel’s pro-INM articles appeared in: Huffington Post, Globe and Mail, National Post, Province, and Maclean’s magazine. She made numerous CBC appearances where she vigorously defended Chief Spence and the Attawapiskat bookkeeping system. She considers Palmater to be INM’s founder.
Vowel is a 30-something Montrealer with two kids of her own and two adopted ones. She is described as “a Metis from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta” or, alternatively, from near Lac Ste. Anne.
(Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta is a county with a population of 10,000 spread over nine hamlets. There is no evidence Lac Ste. Anne is a Cree-speaking area. Vowel graduated from Onoway High School in 1995. Onoway is near Lac Ste. Anne County. Statistics Canada describes Onoway as having a population of 1,039 of whom 965 have English as their mother tongue. Zero townspeople speak Cree; however, five speak Korean.) (36)
Vowel has a B Ed and LLB from U of Alberta – where the law school has a preferential admittance policy for Aboriginals, especially ones from remote communities where Native languages are spoken.
Vowel is fully aware she is not visibly Native. On her website she decries being called a “white bitch”. She relays an incident wherein, after dressing her daughter in Native regalia for a school event, her daughter was teased into a tearful breakdown. To this Vowel adds:
“My girls are fair-skinned too. They, like me, could easily ‘pass’ as non-native… If I didn’t fight so hard to root my children in their culture they would probably ‘fit’ a lot better.” (Thanks mom.) (37)
In her posted photos Vowel is draped in Native symbols. Her roller derby name is “Louise Riel”. Her website name is the Cree word for “half-son”.
She taught for a few years at an all-Native school in Inuvik. She currently teaches “Inuit youth in protection” in Montreal. Every job she has ever held has been in the Aboriginal Industry.
Wab Kinew’s website prominently features pro-INM articles by Kinew that also appeared in Huffington Post. Kinew, an early INMer, spoke at rallies in Winnipeg, and he was Peter Mansbridge’s guest on a CBC National News show concerning INM. Wab previously hosted the Native-focused CBC television series “8th Fire.” (Across Canada INM activists used 8th Fire as a teaching tool at seminars.)
Wab is Aboriginal royalty. His father, Tobasonakwat Kinew (an associate of Liberal Party honcho Lloyd Axworthy) was Grand Chief of the Treaty 3 area and a co-founder of the Native Indian Brotherhood.
Wab recently traded his career as a hip-hop rapper for a cushy gig as the Director of the University of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Inclusion Department.
Daniel Metatawabin was spokesman for Chief Teresa Spence during her “hunger strike”. Danny is Director of the Mundo Peetabeck Educational Authority at Fort Albany, Ontario. He was formerly employed by the Youth Environmental Science Outreach program.
Another INM leader, Norma Kejick, is Executive Director of Northern Nishnawbe Educational Council.
In addition to the above, the names of dozens of ivory-white profs appeared within or above mainstream media articles praising INM; among them: Professor Beheld (Ottawa U), Jeff Denis (McMaster U), Richard Lovelace (Queens U), Daniel Salee (Concordia U), Heather Menzies (Concordia U), Bruce Erickson (York U), Rachel Gorman (York U), and Shelly Johnson (UBC).
SECTION D: POLICE COMPLICITY
Police Complicity in Idle No More's Illegal Blockades
The two dozen rail and highway blockades perpetrated by INMers, in addition to breaking provincial and municipal traffic laws, were Criminal Code violations (intimidation by blocking or obstructing a highway).
On several occasions INM rail stoppages forced the company (VIA) to bus passengers around blockades. On one occasion 2,000 passengers had to be bussed. They endured a 12-hour delay.
Most blockades involved surprisingly few protestors. The largest turnout was the 250 who briefly closed a bridge near Cornwall, Ontario on January 5. On the same day a rail line near Napanee, Ontario was blockaded by seven Natives. There was no evidence blockaders were armed even with sticks. The absence of any tactical problem preventing arresting the perpetrators makes suspect the fact that no arrests were made at any INM blockade.
The RCMP facilitated a highway slowdown near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on January 10 and another one near Grand Prairie, Alberta two days later.
A highway blockade by 30 Native protestors in Labrador caused serious delays for truckers. The RCMP stood by and did nothing because they had “no court order”.
On January 11 INM protestors blocked rush-hour traffic on Vancouver’s busy Robson Street without opposition from the Vancouver Police Department.
On January 12 about 20 INMers blocked Calgary’s 14th Street Bridge for several hours to demand a meeting with Calgary’s Mayor (who could not possibly address their concerns and who was out of town). They also demanded to meet their own Chiefs (also denied). Calgary Police laid no charges. Days later they claimed their investigation was ongoing.
One of the most contentious blockades was a tense two-hour standoff (January 16) on the QEII Highway between Calgary and Edmonton. One motorist drove through the Native’s picket line.
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said he was “pissed off” over police inactivity during the QEII blockade and demanded to meet RCMP and Edmonton and Calgary police executives. After the meeting was cancelled “due to scheduling conflicts”, a contrite Denis said he was not telling police how to do their job. (He later stated that he still believed the protestors should have been arrested.)
The partial blockade of a highway northeast of Winnipeg (January 20) by 75 members of the Brokenhead First Nation was the last INM blockade.
The media referred to the traffic disruptions as “peaceful blockades” or even “prayer blockades”. A nationwide border blockade was openly plotted in the national media. On January 15 the CBC broadcast assurances from the OPP that the OPP would not intervene in upcoming blockades!
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) routinely issued “travel advisories” to let the public know which routes the Natives would be blocking.
Some journalists criticized police inactivity. One quipped INMers should at least pay for their police escorts. These articles were countered by nationally broadcast statements by OPP Chief Chris Lewis and supportive academics defending “non-aggressive” policing.
The most disturbing episode of police complicity occurred during the December 20 to January 2 blockade of a CN Rail spur servicing petrochemical plants near Sarnia that caused propane shortages across Eastern Canada.
On December 21 Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown issued an emergency after-hours injunction ordering INM protestors to leave the spur line. At this hearing the protestors (a few dozen members of Sarnia First Nation) conceded theirs was not a land claims dispute. Six days later an astonished Judge Brown learned his order was unenforced.
Sarnia Police were told by their superiors not toobserve or engage the blockaders. (This did not prevent a uniformed Staff Sargent from drumming in a drum circle at the blockade.)
Back in court on December 27 Judge Brown, “shocked by such disrespect shown to the court by the Sarnia Police,” issued another order.
The blockade was lifted on January 2 (after yet another order from another judge). Sarnia’s Police Chief attended celebratory closing ceremonies at the blockade and defended his contempt for court orders in a local tabloid.
A 15-protestor blockade on CN Rail’s main line between Toronto and Montreal in early January again came before Judge Brown. While issuing another injunction, he complained:
“…why does the operator of a critical railway have to run off to court to secure an injunction when a small group of protestors park themselves on the rail line bringing operations to a grinding halt? I do not get it.”
The OPP refused to protect the Sheriff attempting to serve Judge Brown’s injunction. The protestors left on their own accord.
OPP Commissioner Lewis told reporters that managing blockades was police business and he wasn’t going to jump “just because some judge sitting somewhere” makes an order. (38)
A post-INM blockade took place on the 250 kilometre ice road De Beers operates to supply its Victor Mine. In early 2013, Attawapiskat residents intermittently blocked this road. Grievances ranged from wrongful dismissal to “overarching environmental issues”. The relationship between the blockaders and the Attawapiskat Band Council is unclear, but Council has not discouraged the blockades.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Riopelle said the affair “smells of coercion” and that the OPP had sufficient evidence to criminally charge the protestors. The OPP lawyer countered that the police must remain neutral. De Beers’ lawyer replied:
“What is the message being sent to the world (when) five or six disgruntled ex-employees … can shut down a business of 500 people at a cost of millions? That there is no law in Northern Ontario.” (39)
Helpless in Caledonia
Christie Blatchford’s Helpless (40)is a useful primer for comprehending the gravity and extent of police complicity in illegal Native protests.What follows is a lightly supplemented condensation of this book.
In 1995 Native activist Dudley George was shot and killed by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) during a land claims protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park. Premier Mike Harris (Conservative) was battered with questions regarding this incident by Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) who promised an inquiry into Ipperwash if he formed a government, which he did in 2003.
In 2000, the 11-page Framework for Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Issues, became the OPP’s Native protest management Bible. The Framework envisioned an Aboriginal Response Team (ART) to build trust with Natives “while honouring each one’s uniqueness and the Creator’s gifts with dignity and respect.”
The OPP launched ART in 2004. ART members are either Aboriginals or have received extensive sensitivity training. The OPP was Canada’s first police force with an Aboriginal division.
OPP Commissioner Gwen Boniface immersed herself in the Ipperwash inquiry. In June 2006 she wrapped up two days of testimony at the inquiry with an apology to First Nations peoples and to Dudley George’s brother Sam, adding:
“I’ve done my best to move the OPP to the forefront of policing in our ability to understand Aboriginal issues.”
When the 1,433-page Ipperwash Report came out (May 31, 2007) Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the Premier both solemnly apologized to First Nation peoples. (The inquiry cost $26 million.)
The Report noted how the Caledonia occupation was the first major test the OPP’s new Framework:
“Events there (in Caledonia) have raised important questions about whether the Framework can be sustained in the face of considerable opposition from a sizable portion of the local non-Aboriginal residents, criticism from members of the provincial legislature and the media…”
The Report deemed the opponents of the Aboriginal protestors to be hate-filled racists.
In 2006 Haldimand County was poised for growth. The County’s 45,000 residents were sprinkled across its 1,250 square kilometres. Its climate is arguably Canada’s most pleasant. The County lies between two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) and it is divided by the mighty Grand River. The County is a quick drive away from either Toronto or Detroit.
McGuinty announced his Greenbelt initiative in his inaugural throne speech (November 2003). A moratorium on construction within the subject area went into effect soon thereafter and a Greenbelt Act passed in early 2005. The Act prohibits development in a 7,200 square kilometre arc around the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area. The Act is hailed by enviros as one of the world’s largest and strictest development exclusion zones. The provincial government endowed the enviro-NGO Friends of the Greenbelt with $25 million to laud the project and fight for its expansion. All interested cabinet ministers and enviro-NGOs (such as the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Association and the Grand River Conservation Authority) expect to see the Greenbelt expanded.
Haldimand County is just outside the Greenbelt’s southwestern border. Being free by Greenbelt diktat meant Haldimand County’s largest town, Caledonia (pop 10,000), could boom.
The antagonists, Caledonia’s Native occupiers, were explicitly motivated by opposition to urban sprawl. They feared a Six Nations Reserve engulfed by suburbia. At a mediation meeting between real estate developers and protestors, 100 Natives stood up and in unison screamed about how the developers were “raping the land.”
Henco Industries, owned by Caledonia’s Henning brothers, was a mid-sized firm intimately connected to Haldimand County. Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) was the largest project Henco had ever tackled, and the Hennings sunk every penny they had into it. Additional financing came from a local credit union. The plan was to build 450 houses on the DCE and hopefully turn a $30 million profit. This would have sent a strong signal to the regional construction market.
The Hennings purchased the DCE from old farmer Douglas. This farmland was part of the Plank Road Tract, duly surrendered by Mohawk Chiefs in 1841 and properly sold in 1844. The DCE lay inside the municipality of Caledonia and was bordered by a railroad. On the other side of the tracks lay Six Nations Reserve (pop 22,000).
The Mohawks’ traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council claimed their predecessors were tricked and had only intended to lease the Plank Road Tract for 99 years. Hence they demanded return of the land. Conversely, Six Nations Reserve’s elected council claimed there had been inadequate compensation for the sale of the Tract and sought only monetary compensation from either the provincial or Federal governments, not return of the land.
Lawsuits regarding the Plank Road Tract (and two dozen other Six Nations’ land claims) were launched in 1995 but were placed in abeyance in 2005 when the Six Nations council opted for negotiations. Ottawa refused to get involved in the DCE occupation because they considered the land claim without merit and the matter as a private property dispute within provincial jurisdiction.
As per the “duty to consult and accommodate”, the Six Nations Council were duly notified of the subdivision plan. During these discussions, the Natives fancied themselves an additional level of government with veto power over all projects. They demanded a “revenue stream” from the land while pooh-poohing any thought of contributing to development or maintenance costs.
In mid 2005, archeologists working for Henco were harassed by Natives and had their vehicles vandalized. (Archeological finds were insignificant – no evidence of purported burial grounds.) In late 2005, as construction began, two brief inconsequential blockades occurred at the DCE.
On February 28, 2006, a few protestors from Six Nations Reserve, led by Janie Jamieson and Dawn Smith, walked onto the DCE and blocked workers from entering. At this time two houses were nearly finished.
Also at this time, Six Nations Chief-in-waiting Bill Montour was in Vancouver working for the National Centre for First Nations Governance. Ultimately, Montour and his elected Council would give the protestors $60,000. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy backed the protestors throughout the occupation. The Council gave the Confederacy the lead in the negotiations, thereby contravening Supreme Court of Canada directives that only elected councils should speak for a Band.
At 4:30 p.m., February 28, OPP Superintendent Ron George, head of the Aboriginal Response Team (ART), arrived on the DCE to meet Dawn Smith. The OPP immediately adopted the protesters’ language. The occupation was not a trespass but a “land reclamation”.
Ron George was 55 years old in 2006. He was a Chippewa from the Kettle Reserve where he served as an elected councillor.
As Ontario’s most powerful Native cop, George reported directly to Commissioner Boniface. Neither had traversed conventional police careers. They were more academics than cops. They co-taught an Aboriginal Law course in 1996.
George had a magical career in the OPP. He was thrice given leave to further his education (BA Sociology, LLB, MA in Law) on the understanding something good would be waiting for him upon his return. He briefly practised law on his reserve but abandoned this in 2002 to become the OPP’s aide-de-camp for Ontario’s first Aboriginal Lieutenant Governor, James Bartleman.
George testified at the Ipperwash inquiry for two days. The beatified Dudley George was his first cousin. When Dudley was killed, Ron’s first response was to angrily ask officers on the scene, “Did you at least put a gun in his hand to make it look good?”
Ron George self-described as a “soft activist” and “sociologist of Aboriginal protest.”
During his Ipperwash Inquiry testimony, George boasted of a lengthy meeting he had had with the Mohawk Warriors – a full-blown criminal organization engaged in illegal tobacco and gun trafficking. George described the Mohawk Warriors as legit protectors of their people.
Senior OPP officers believed ART was too tight with unsavoury characters on the DCE. ART men dined and drank with the occupiers. The civilian-police liaison team established to facilitate the DCE stand-off also believed George was too close to the wrong people, notably Dick Hill.
From the get-go, Dick and Hazel Hill were the occupation’s leaders. Their phone numbers were freely available beneath their florid press releases. Hill opposed all construction projects around, and inside, Six Nations Reserve.
When George met Hill, George fell into a posture of appeasement. Hill began the meeting by proclaiming that because Mohawks had kicked the asses off the Chippewa centuries ago, Hill did not have to treat George as an equal.
The OPP ran every DCE-related plan past George who ran it past Hill who invariably threatened hoards of out-of-control Natives blocking transportation routes. Basically, the OPP asked Hill for permission.
George’s four other contacts were: Dawn Smith and Janie Jamieson (the latter sported Mohawk Warrior regalia), Clyde “Bullet” Powless (the occupier’s security boss who was involved in numerous violent incidents) and B.J. Porter. This last contact is the most intriguing.
Brian Jesse Porter was arrested in relation to an assault on an anti-occupation activist, and he was directly involved in dragging a power pole across Caledonia’s main street. At these times Porter was employed by Ontario’s Aboriginal Affairs Ministry! His 2006-2007 salary was $131,240!
Evidence of Ron George’s malfeasance abound. At his first briefing of OPP officers, he declared:
“I don’t want any pictures taken, and no license plates run. We don’t need intelligence; this is a peaceful protest.”
From that moment, if OPP officers stopped cars without plates or with invalid tags, etc they were asked by the radio operator if the car’s occupants were Native. If the occupants were Native, the officer was told to disengage. OPP officers were not to drive past the DCE unless necessary. Even Six Nations Reserve police were amazed by OPP tolerance of brazen Native criminality.
In one incident, an ART constable was about to provide information about weapons on the DCE to an OPP intelligence officer when George burst into the room shouting: “Shut your mouth … you don’t tell them anything.” (emphasis added)
A tip from the RCMP regarding weapons on the DCE was dismissed by ART as coming from an unreliable source.
Officers who complained about the Caledonia protocol were punished. After one officer refused a protestor’s demand to remove a construction contractor’s vehicle, the protestor replied, “We’ll see about this,” before getting on her phone. The officer was expelled from Caledonia. Another officer pulled over a Native-occupied car with no plates and called for back-up. None came. The officer was reprimanded for “causing a potential flashpoint”.
On March 3, a Judge ordered protestors off the DCE. Dawn Smith burned the order in front of TV cameras. On March 16, in a courtroom packed with protestors, the Judge cited the occupiers for contempt and set March 22 as the eviction deadline. After March 22 came and went, Caledonians began planning their own eviction. The OPP pleaded with them not to.
Native reinforcements came to the DCE, notably Akwesasne activist Michael Laughing, who shouted down the Sheriff as he, for a third time, tried to read aloud the Judge’s injunction.
On April 13 and April 18, the OPP riot squad mobilized for the eviction, only to be inexplicably stood down. The delays afforded the Natives valuable time. Sentries appeared on roofs. Recruits poured in.
On April 18, Ron George was scheduled to speak at a pre-raid pep rally. He arrived in plainclothes and refused to address the officers – with a predictable lowering of morale.
The April 19 issue of the Mohawk’s Turtle Island News carried a photo of Ron George talking to Haudenosaunee Chiefs above an article warning the protestors of imminent eviction.
On eviction day, April 20, the OPP fielded a 120-strong riot squad augmented with some female OPP constables (because Natives won’t hit women!). This force was bolstered by a few intelligence officers and a canine team. The OPP brought well fewer than 200 troops to battle.
One-hundred fully-equipped RCMP riot squad members waited in a nearby hangar. The ART field-marshals never requested RCMP assistance despite being fully aware that many activists were violence prone.
At 4:30 a.m. the OPP overran the DCE, making 16 arrests. Within the hour Natives streamed over the railway tracks. 50 OPP officers were dispatched to the tracks to stem the tide. They were met by 100 Natives brandishing baseball bats, steel table legs, and at least one chainsaw. Fights broke out. An officer was hit with a sack of rocks and went down. Natives were arrested but quickly de-arrested. Hundreds more Natives arrived in the backs of pick-up trucks.
By 6:00 a.m. the vastly outnumbered OPP were negotiating their retreat. By 7:25 a.m. the last OPP fled the DCE amidst whoops from several hundred Natives. Tire fires blazed.
Natives capped their triumph by parking a dump truck on Caledonia’s main drag, Argyle Street, and dumping a load of gravel across the remainder. They threw up additional makeshift barricades on adjacent roads. They shoved one belligerent motorist’s Chevrolet Lumina off a bridge.
Fourteen non-Native families were trapped behind the barricades along the Sixth Line rail spur. The OPP, by its own admission, did not police behind the Sixth Line for the next four years.
These families were subjected to rifle-toting Natives imposing curfews and conducting surveillance. Natives issued “passports” (pieces of colored paper with license plate numbers written on them) that residents had to show for permission to pass. Natives, reeking of booze, arbitrarily announced “body search nights”. Women slept at friends’ houses rather than pass the barricades on these nights. Natives demanded residents behind the Sixth Line remove Canadian flags from their property.
Also under pressure were residents of 400 houses located around the DCE who often had rocks or garbage thrown onto their yards. Among them was Dave Hartless, a Hamilton Police officer, who was threatened with death and arson. Twice the lug nuts on the wheels of his family car were loosened; one wheel flew off while his wife was driving down the highway. Hartless posted anti-occupation signs on his lawn wrote letters to the editor. The OPP Commissioner pressured Hamilton’s Police Chief into gagging Hartless.
Dave Brown’s house sat in a small inlet jutting into the DCE. One night Brown returned from a Blue Jays game to be told a he had missed the curfew and could not pass. His wife was home alone. Brown drove through the barricade, dragging orange pylons and yellow tape all the way to his house. Natives chased him down and, after an altercation on his lawn, “arrested” Brown and delivered him to the OPP who locked him up for the night. Brown’s house was later ravaged by Natives who painted “Racist” and “White Trash” on his walls. The OPP responded by placing cameras inside the house to spy on Brown!
On April 28, an OPP Inspector informed an assemblage of Caledonia-based officers that the April 20 raid had been successful and,“If anyone doesn’t agree, you can get up and leave the room right now.”
Their new mission was: “protecting the Natives now from the non-Natives.”
Soon after the failed raid, 2,500 Canadian-flag-waving Caledonians marched in protest. About 500 tried storming the DCE, only to be stymied by a wall of OPP officers.
The “Friday Night Fights” became regular outings. Caledonians would line the barricades to hurl insults and projectiles at the occupiers. They shinnied-up flag poles to rip down the Mohawk flags. Brawls were common. Consider this quote:
“I give Caledonia credit, especially in that first six months or so. They literally, physically fought for their town with their fists. The young guys, all the hockey guys and baseball teams, down there at the barricades. No, Caledonia fought.”
This is not braggadocio from a local yokel but the pride-filled statement of Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk’s Member of the Provincial Parliament.
At the Friday Night Fights the OPP did something everyone noticed. They faced the townspeople with their backs to the occupiers. The OPP were the Natives’ private security force.
On May 22, the Natives took down their Argyle Street barricade. Simultaneously, Caledonians set up their own barricade to block Natives from entering town. An incensed Native with a Mohawk Warrior flag on his car drove through the barricade, hitting an old man. Caledonians swarmed his car. The OPP and Mohawk security boss Clyde Powless rushed in. After Powless got knocked out, a full-fledged race riot ensued. When the two groups separated, Natives dragged a Hydro One tower across Argyle Street.
Hours later, Natives torched a Hydro One transformer station, thereby knocking out electricity for several thousand people including many on Six Nations Reserve. No one was arrested. (Damage to Hydro One exceeded $750,000. The corporation then had to pay $350,000 a year on 24/7 security.)
After May 22, Caledonia’s Mayor declared a state of emergency. She pled for normality on behalf of the Caledonians who needed to get back to work “because they didn’t have money coming in automatically every month.” This was interpreted as calling Natives “welfare bums”. Media outrage almost caused her removal. She appeased critics by taking a sensitivity course.
By late May, both Argyle Street barricades were down and railway traffic resumed. However, the DCE occupation continued. The unfinished houses began sporting gunports. A military-style trench was dug.
Worse, the DCE occupation began a trend whereby Natives, under the Haudenosaunee Development Institute’s banner, haunted construction sites across Haldimand County. When this roving information picket-cum-blockade arrived at a construction site in Hagersville, masked men blocked workers from entering. OPP officers helped set up the barricades.
On June 4, two out-of-town OPP officers accidently drove onto Six Nations Reserve. They were taken prisoner, stripped of their guns, and forced to sit in back of their cruiser until their superiors arrived.
Judge Marshall, who had become seized of the DCE standoff, took the unusual step of inviting various interested lawyers to express themselves. To the horror of politically correct elements, the Haldimand Law Association’s lawyer vented his fury at OPP appeasement. Judge Marshall concurred:
“The negotiating, the temporizing, has emboldened the contenders which has resulted in damage – physical, social, commercial, and damage to the very fabric of both communities.”
With summer’s onset, Natives stepped up their harassment of residents around the DCE. Gunshots became common, as did short-lived unexplained blockades. Natives drove un-mufflered ATVs around the neighborhood in the wee hours. Mutilated deer were hung from trees, including trees near school bus stops. This aggression climaxed on June 9.
On that day, an elderly couple of Sunday drivers from a neighboring town dared drive by the DCE barricades. Offended Natives boarded pickup trucks and chased the couple who fled to the apparent safety of a Canadian Tire where they spotted OPP cruisers. In plain view of the OPP, a dozen whooping Natives in camo-pattern gear surrounded their car and began jumping on its hood.
An OPP officer relocated the couple to his cruiser. No effort was made to arrest the Natives who then stole the couple’s car. (They either hotwired it in front of the OPP, or more likely, ART members gave them the keys.) The car was recovered after suffering $3,000 in damage. No one was charged.
A two-man crew from CHCH-TV (Hamilton) happened by the Canadian Tire while the Natives were swarming the car. Amazed that nothing was being done, they got out and started shooting. Natives ran past several OPP officers to attack the crew with repeated blows to the head. One camera man required four stitches on his face. The beating did not stop until civilians intervened. Natives stole their $40,000 camera. It was returned minus the videotape.
OPP officers refused to identify their officer in charge. One officer surreptitiously told the camera crew to “sue the OPP”.
A formal complaint proved a waste of time. Two OPP intelligence officers took 157 photos of the event, but both were miraculously changing memory cards when the assaults occurred.
Also on June 9, an OPP detective (Norm Ormerod), two US Border Patrol agents, and one ATF agent sat in a Chevy Tahoe near the DCE sharing intelligence on US Natives who had joined the protest. A pickup truck suddenly blocked their escape route. Fifteen men surrounded their Tahoe, pounding on its hood. One Native threatened the officers with a large knife. Two officers exited the vehicle and disarmed him. When the doors opened, Natives piled into the Tahoe. Ormerod leapt from the vehicle, smacking his head on the pavement. He was seriously injured and never returned to work. The Tahoe was returned – after a portable toilet was dumped inside of it and all the officers’ gear had been stolen.
A crowd of Caledonians gathered where the officers had been attacked. The OPP sent the riot squad to clear them away. A major incident ensued when locals blocked a paddy wagon attempting to transport an arrested Caledonian.
Eight Natives were charged for the June 9 incidents, albeit months later. Those charged were from across Canada and the US. Most were punished with fines or “time-served” in pre-trial custody.
On June 28, OPP Commissioner Boniface suddenly announced she was off to greener pastures in Ireland. (As Commissioner she earned $326,210 in 2007; up from $220,378 in 2006.) Boniface was at the heart of the Caledonia operation; its spiralling out of control may have caused her resignation.
Boniface’s replacement, Julian Fantino, was formerly Metro Toronto police chief and then McGuinty’s emergency management commissioner. McGuinty also gave Fantino’s son Gregory a Justice of the Peace job – salary $114,000. Fantino toed the McGuinty line and did not change the Caledonia protocol.
To appease the Mohawks, the McGuintyites placed all land owned by the Ontario Realty Corp in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties on the table, including correctional centres and police stations. To resolve a related matter they handed over the 250 acre former Burtch Correctional Centre.
In July the McGuintyites purchased the DCE land from the Hennings for $15.8 million. The government, now the DCE landlords, made no effort to evict the occupiers. Thus, when the Court of Appeal dealt with the matter, they confronted a trespass dispute where the owners were not complaining. Amazingly, the Court of Appeal found no evidence the occupation was causing a nuisance to those living in the vicinity.
Opposition leader John Tory (Conservative) on 17 occasions questioned the McGuinty government regarding Caledonia. He was accused of fanning the flames of racism.
The McGuintyites remained tight-lipped. Government staffers left little by way of a paper trail regarding Caledonia. McGuinty did not want to appear to be directing the OPP. The cost of the Caledonia debacle exceeded $64 million. Much of this was overtime pay and hotel bills for the scores of out-of-town OPP officers milking “Cashedonia”.
As a sop, Haldimand County’s tourism manager got $210,000 to promote the area’s bucolic charm.
At their annual confab in August 2006, OPP Association reps grilled OPP brass about why officers in Caledonian had to identify the race of person they were dealing with and why separate treatment was given to Natives.
In the same month a Native mob left the DCE bearing lacrosse rackets used to hurl fist-sized rocks at the house of a 90-year-old veteran. Soon after, he abandoned the neighborhood. The media described the event as a two-sided fracas; which it wasn’t. OPP officers passively watched the event.
When five Caledonia women took lawn chairs and coffee thermoses onto the DCE for a sit-in, 50 officers arrived to arrest them.
On September 13, Natives occupied another Caledonia subdivision under construction. One of the units was owned by Sam Gualtieri who intended to give it to his daughter as a wedding present. When Sam drove by to check up on his bricklayer, he noticed Mohawk flags flying on the scaffolding. He tore these down.
At 4 p.m. Sam returned to the house to find OPP officers lounging outside while Natives stared out from the windows. Sam stomped through the front door and told them to “get the hell out”. Someone yelled back, “This is our house now,” just before Sam was clobbered with a four-inch thick oak handrail. Mercilessly bludgeoned, Sam suffered three facial fractures and permanent brain damage.
The OPP waited until September 19 before making arrests. One of those arrested had also assaulted the CHCH-TV crew.
The May 22 riot caught the attention of Gary McHale from Richmond Hill (north of Toronto) because it made the front page of the Toronto Sun. (While the Caledonia crisis got significant coverage locally, the Toronto media covered it infrequently, rarely on front pages.)
Within a month McHale registered CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com and took up full-time activism around the issue. His October 15 “March for Freedom” rally drew a crowd of 2,000 – and hundreds of police officers.
OPP officers dissuaded hall owners from renting to McHale. Natives, on the other hand, held “seminars” wherever they liked.
McHale organized rallies in Caledonia in the winter of 2006-2007. Prior to the rallies, the OPP issued press releases warning citizens that attendance may result in injuries or criminal charges. The mere presence of non-Natives near the DCE was deemed a provocation.
At the December 1 rally, McHale was accosted by Clyde Powless’s sister who falsely accused McHale of pushing her. This was the queue for Powless and others to knock McHale down and commence kicking him – in front of the OPP.
Charged with assault, Powless appeared at trial wielding a glowing letter of reference from OPP Commissioner Fantino that blamed McHale, the victim, for causing his own assault. Powless was conditionally discharged.
In the run-up to McHale’s December 16 rally, Commissioner Fantino issued 27 e-mails regarding McHale. In one he stated:
“I want every avenue explored by which we now can bring McHale to court seeking a court order to prevent him from continuing his agenda.”
An e-mail from Deputy Commissioner Chris Lewis asked if McHale’s arrest could be expedited. On December 16, McHale was arrested for attempting to fly a Canadian flag near the DCE.
Early 2008 witnessed the trial of a Native protestor charged with multiple violent offences. The court gallery was packed with unruly Natives who cursed and threatened the Crown Attorney. Their favourite epithet was “racist.”
Also in early 2008, the OPP Association relayed complaints about Natives committing crimes in Caledonia, then fleeing to the refuge of DCE where OPP officers could not follow. An exasperated Deputy Chief Chris Lewis reiterated:
“Short of somebody having a kid kidnapped and running onto the DCE, we’re not going to go onto that property.”
In April 2008, Natives barricaded an overpass on Highway 6, inside Caledonia, in solidarity with Mohawks in eastern Ontario who were occupying a gravel quarry. The overpass was closed for five days.
Caledonians relay anecdotes about Natives threatening to take over their houses. These are not the mere machinations of isolates. In January 2010, Six Nations Council discussed acquiring Dave Brown’s house. After the Chief said there was no money for said purchase, councillors clarified that they wanted to “just take it”. Days later the McGuinty government bulldozed Brown’s house.
The DCE occupation continues to this day. The barricades are still up. The Hydro One power tower still lays beside Caledonia’s main drag. The burned-out trailer at the transformer station is still in plain view. ART still deals with Dick Hill. Natives issue ultimatums and the OPP marches to their drum.
Many commercial developments were cancelled in 2006, notably a planned expansion of a large US-based agricultural supply chain store. Realtors have a hard time convincing people to buy in Caledonia.
MPP Toby Barrett bemoans:
“You never hear Skil saws or hammers in Haldimand County. Nobody’s building anything. People would tell me – like in Dunnville – they want to build a back porch. Now they don’t even do that…”
Census data show that while Toronto boomed from 2006 to 2011, Haldimand County declined by 0.7%.
- Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s website – see the “research and statistics section regarding: Registered Indian Population by Sex and Residence 2011.
- See the bio of Diabo on the webpage entitled “Implementing Delgamuuk’w”.
- Diabo, Russell, Mr. Harper, one short meeting won’t end native protests, Globe and Mail, January 11, 2013.
- The Briarpatch webzine has bio of Susana Deranger as does Greenroots website).
- Fort McMurray Today, June 24, 2012; undated Muskrat Magazine posting on Eriel Deranger, www.afcnchallenge.wordpress.com; Trish Audette First Nations woman navigates anti-oilsands charge, Edmonton Journal. June 17, 2012; www.ammsa.com Activism is in the blood, says tar sands warrior.
- See the Greenpeace Canada and Lubicon Lake Nation websites.
- Craig, Colin, New Jaw-Dropping Reserve Pay Numbers, Canadian Taxpayers Federation website.
- Blatchford, Christie, Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us; Doubleday Canada, 2010.
- National Post, Band Chief who makes more after tax income than PM wins annual ‘Teddy’ waste award, March 6, 2013.
- Craig, Colin. Unsettling tales from Aboriginal reserves, December 4, 2012, Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s website.
- Three more articles from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation website: Tip of the Iceberg, Idle No More Opportunity, and Victory! CTF Applauds Re-introduction of reserve chief and council salary disclosure bill.
- www.attawapiskat.org – financial statements.
- www.attawapiskat.org Affidavit of Clayton Kennedy.
- www.attawapiskat.org – financial statements – Management Letter (Ross, Pope & Company), July 31, 2011.
- www.debeerscanada.com and www.arinc.ca
- www.naneconomicsummit.ca (Attawapiskat Resources Inc. pdf file)
- www.attawapiskat.org – financial statements – 2011 Trustee Report (AFN Trust Report, March 2012 – Heather Richardson, TD Waterhouse).
- www.attawapiskat.org – Affidavit of Wayne Turner.
- www.attawapiskat.org – Affidavit of Clayton Kennedy.
- This entire section is taken from: Reilly, John. Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community, Rocky Mountain Books, Victoria 2010.
- Most of the facts and all of the captioned quotes relating to the years 1970 to 1999 in this section are from the unpublished Master’s thesis of Shona Taner, The Evolution of Native Studies in Canada: Descending from the Ivory Tower (1999)
- Rabble.ca: January 8, 2013, Idle No More: A profound social movement that is already succeeding.
- Ryerson’s website and the Ontario Ministry of Finance – Public Sector Salary Disclosure website.
- www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-595 Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics: Research Papers, Salaries and Salary Scales of Full-time Teaching Staff at Canadian Universities – 2010-2011, Final Report – this is the source of all nonspecific professorial salary data.
- APTN July 16, 2010.
- John Ivison, Simplistic arguments from Teresa Spence, Idle No More could have tragic consequences for natives, National Post. January 2, 2013.
- Education Beyond Borders’ website and McLean’s Facebook page.
- Stats Canada does not provide salary data on FNUC but at the FNUC-affiliated U of Regina an associate professor without administrative duties earned, on average, $101,000 in 2011. FNUC’s 2011 Financial Statement claims $8.6 million was spent on salaries for 44 professors and an unknown number of Elders – which is consistent with a six-figure salary.
- New Internationalist, February 7, 2013.
- www.classmates.com./people/Chelsea-vowel and Stats Can community profiles, Onoway.
- References to the INM Sarnia blockade are from: Blatchford, Christie, Politicized Policing around Idle No More blockades puts rule of law at risk, National Post, January 7, 2013 and Blatchford, Christie, Police have more choices than ‘guns blazing or to do nothing’ over Idle No More blockades, National Post, January 9, 2013.
- Kay, Jonathan. Attawapiskat protestors hurting First Nations with lawless blockades of De Beers mine, National Post, February 21, 2013.
- Blatchford, Christie. Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us; Doubleday Canada, 2010.