by Jordy Cummings
In May 1970, National Guardsmen in the U.S. were called in to respond to a highly militant anti-war protests taking place at Kent State University in Ohio. The protests were an immediate, emergency response to then President Richard Nixon “spreading the war” from Vietnam itself into Cambodia. On May 4, these armed instruments of state power used the same weapons used against the Vietnamese revolution, and opened fire, killing four protesters.
Within a few weeks, Neil Young, with his on again/off again bandmates, Crosby, Stills and Nash, were in the recording studio recording a response which was on the radio within four days. The song explicitly situated itself as coming from “the movement” at a time when millions of Americans believed they were on the cusp of revolution at home. The governor of Ohio felt the same way, calling the protesters violent revolutionaries, and proclaiming that “these people just move from one campus to the other and terrorize the community. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes.”
“Ohio”, the sparse and angry song recorded that day wasn’t your typical protest anthem. It was neither a preachy message song or a simple pacifist chant that reduced the movement to giving “peace a chance”. Instead, it seethed about “tin soldiers” who had caused the four dead. Instead of giving peace a chance, it made the unambiguous plea “gotta get down to it, soldiers are cutting us down..should have been done long ago”. What should have been done, it seems, was revolution. Moving from the general to particular, it then addresses its listener, “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground, how can you run when you know”?
Just as Neil Young did the right thing about the anti-war movement, he has the opportunity to do so on an issue at least as important. With that in mind, I’d like to turn the questions that Mr. Young raised in “Ohio” back onto Mr. Young. Mr. Young , think of the Palestinian people killed by Israeli weapons or the quiet weapon of starvation and open-air prisons. What if you knew them? How can you run when you know? Let us not forget the treatment of Africans by the Israeli state, migrant workers who have been as of late agitating for their rights. Israel’s racist attitudes, far right hate groups and mounting detentions against Africans is not dissimilar to that of the “Southern Man” that Mr. Young inveighed against not too long after recording “Ohio”. Would Neil be “Rocking in the Free World” by playing Israel? Is this in the interests of the dispossessed “patch of ground people”, or the interests of “Vampires” that “Sell you twenty barrels worth”.
Even very recently, Young has proven himself to be on the correct side of the question of the day’s most pressing issues. Young has been a lifelong supporter of indigenous struggles, not merely in the form of his songs, like Pocahontas, but in his actions, most recently in his “Respect the Treaties” tour and publicity event. For this sin against Canadian interests, Neil Young was attacked in the corporate media and even by the Prime Minister’s office. This was perhaps one of the most effective political interventions made by a cultural icon in Canada in recent years, and at least so far as I remember. The Two Row Times praised Young’s integrity, calling him “a deeply spiritual man with the heart of a prophet, who has pointed the way to the future for nearly three generations of young people.” Neil Young seemed to be the Anti-Bono. As opposed to palling around with George W. Bush and Bill Gates, ostensibly in the service of helping “poor Africans”, Young has taken the lead in what is one of the most important and pressing issues within Canada’s borders.
It is for this reason, more than any, that progressives must demand that Mr. Young cancel his concerts in Apartheid Israel this summer . How can Neil maintain this deeply felt and deserved reputation, as a craftsman, a guitar visionary, a wise man, if he were to betray every principle that culminated in his recent interventions?
It is not unlikely that Mr. Young is aware of the calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. From Gil Scott Heron to Elvis Costello, progressive musicians – and even those not necessarily known for their politics (the Pixies, Annie Lennox, Massive Attack) – have responded to the call by cancelling and/or not booking shows in Israel. Perhaps Neil Young has been informed – even by the people with whom he just concluded a tour – that there were those calling for him to show his principles, and perhaps his attitude is that it would be hypocritical for him to play Toronto and then not play Tel Aviv. Yet there has not been a call from indigenous communities in Canada for a cultural boycott of Toronto. There is, however, a standing call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Neil Young has sang that he is “proud to be a union man”, a member of the American Federation of Musicians. He should realize, then, that the Palestinian labour movement has explicitly called for a cultural boycott. Mr. Young – I know that it may be annoying that you are being addressed after the fashion of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s denunciation of you, but if the shoe fits… But please, “how can you run when you know?”
We all hope you do the right thing, Mr. Young.
Ontario Court of Appeal says communities of Ecuador affected by Chevron can enforce Ecuadorian rulings in Canada
by Santiago Escobar
As the Unist’ot’en continue their protracted battle against Chevron and other companies in resistance to the Pacific Trails Pipeline in northern B.C. over unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, Indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rain Forest in Ecuador are pursuing Chevron in Canada for damages in one of the largest oil-related catastrophes in history.
This past December 2013, after twenty years of legal battles with America’s third largest corporation – ranking 11th in the world – the 30,000+ Indigenous plaintiffs of Ecuador made a small step forward when an Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that they could pursue Chevonr for damages they were awarded in the Ecuadorian courts. But the battle is far from over.
by Steve da Silva
With the consciousness of people in Canada taken up a notch on the issue of “fracking” by the Mi’kmaq-led resistance in New Brunswick, it’s only a matter of time before people’s sights and struggles shift to the next major shale-gas frontier: Ontario. The US Energy Information Administration estimated in 2013 that there were 573 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas in Canada.
“Fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, is the process by which oil is withdrawn from harder to access sources by blasting water, sand, and chemicals into shale rock formations.
High gas prices have opened the way for the oil industry to push fossil fuel exploitation into the realm of more difficult to reach fossils fuels, what are known as “the unconventionals”: tar sands, shale-gas, and deep-water oil wells.
Most people in Ontario are unaware that a Canadian oil firm out of Alberta has for years been acquiring land rights across southwestern Ontario, in order to explore and drill the extensive shale-gas deposits in the province. Although up-to-date information on its operations are scarce, by 2011 Mooncor Oil and Gas Corp. already owned some 20,000 acres of land in Chatham-Kent and Lambton County, in southwestern Ontario.
In Ontario, geologists have broken down shale-gas deposits into three major zones: the Kettle Point Formation known as Antrim Shale; the Collingwood-Blue Mountain formations known as Utica Shale; and the northernmost limit of the Marcellus Shale that extends up from Pennsylvania and New York State.
While Ontario shale-gas exploration is reported to have not yet used the fracking method, the even greater danger of tapping shale-gas is the planetary danger posed by carbon emissions through new fossil fuel exploitation. Although natural gas emits half the greenhouse gas that coal gives off, most of the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels cannot be exploited without initiating irreversible levels of climate change.
by Steve da Silva – Co-produced with Two Row Times
The verdict couldn’t be clearer: we are destroying and degrading the Ocean at a pace not even anticipated by the experts just two years ago.
This is the forecast of the Global State of the Oceans Report, by a body of the world’s leading marine scientists along with international marine governance officials. The report takes a holistic, “earth systems” approach to studying the state of the oceans, as opposed to artificially isolating problems into specific locales or species.
The ocean makes up one of the primary systems in Earth’s overall ecological system, and the report acknowledges that its role as an overall regulator is being compromised by human activity.
The report warns, “the window of opportunity to take action is narrow. There is little time left in which we can still act to prevent irreversible, catastrophic changes to marine ecosystems as we see them today.”
Many may think that the most immediate threats to the ocean are coming from industrial pollutants and overfishing – which are indeed major problems. The 80-90 million tons of fish caught every year is rapidly depleting fish stocks and the larger food webs they are a part of. Meanwhile, pollutants from profit-driven industrial activities and agricultural run-off are depleting the oxygen levels in in the ocean and creating large “dead zones”.
Yet, the greatest threat of all to the Ocean’s role in the earth system is climate change. As carbon emissions rise, so too is the extent to which they are absorbed by the ocean, which is leading to ocean acidification with disastrous consequences for marine life.
Yet, while the writing on the wall spells out Earth-system collapse if drastic changes are not made to our economy’s relationship to the Earth, the report falls short of putting forward the radical solutions needed, pointing instead in the direction of policy actions within the same economic system. It comes as little surprise, given the reports main audience are “policy makers,” which is to say mostly people invested in the status quo.
The report concludes that “Without decisive and effective action, no region or country will be immune from the socioeconomic upheaval and environmental catastrophe that will take place – possibly within the span of the current generation and certainly by the end of the century. It is likely to be a disaster that challenges human civilisation.”
by Kitchener-Waterloo BASICS
In an attempt to reverse the flow of highly-corrosive tar sands bitumen through the Haldimand Tract (Six Nations land), the Calgary-based oil company Enbridge is using the ageing Line 9 pipeline. The company is moving forward without the consent from the indigenous peoples whose way of life is directly threatened by the pipeline which has been built on the land where they live.
The danger with pumping is that bitumen is an unprocessed tar sands oil that is mixed with a highly-corrosive natural-gas liquid, and needs to be pumped at a higher temperature and pressure due to its viscosity. As a result, this puts a heavy strain on the aging 38-year-old pipeline. Pumping this oil also comes with a lot of waste that is pumped back into the Athabasca River system, which has an extremely negative effect on the surrounding environment.
Over the years, Enbridge has been dangerously careless when pumping tar sands oil through their pipelines. Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge has reportedly been responsible for at least 800 spills (approximately 7 million gallons of heavy crude oil). One of the most devastating examples is the 2010 Line 6B spill in the Kalamazoo River in Marshall, Michigan. The effects of that spill were massive, and three years and almost one billion dollars later, the spill is still not completely cleaned up. Both Line 9 and 6B were built to transport conventional crude oil, not bitumen.
KW is showing resistance through a coalition of broad-based community organizations who oppose the proposal of the reversal of tar sands oil. Malcolm of Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance said, “there was an occupation of the Enbridge Westover pumping station on Beverly Swamp, resulting in delaying the reversal through the area. This inspired people to take action in their own communities. This dirty tar sands oil not only puts people at risk, but also wildlife in the environment as well”.
“Here in Kitchener we have put forward a declaration and used it as a tool to get support from the community. By having info nights, lobbying, and organizing around this declaration, we hope to pressure the council to oppose this attack on our communities,” says Joe Campbell, community organizer.
KW organizers believe that we as a community need to work in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of this land to stop the reversal of the tar sands oil through this land before it’s too late and we have our own Kalamazoo on our hands. For more information, you can visit http://noline9wr.ca/.
by Steve da Silva – Co-produced with Two Row Times
After months of arrests and mounting resistance against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick on Mi’kmaq territory, the anti-fracking movement upped the ante this past week with a fresh blockade and a proclamation of a massive land reclamation, which has forced conservative New Brunswick Premier David Alward to a negotiation table with representatives of the anti-fracking movement.
A day after the September 30 blockade was established on Route 134 that blocked the entrance to an equipment storage site of SWN Resources Canada, Chief Aaron Sock, speaking for Chief and Council of the Elsipogtog First Nation, announced a sweeping Mi’kmaq land reclamation effective immediately.
“Harper and the Conservative government have lifted restrictions to environmental protections of our lands and water” and “the provincial government is turning over all lands… to a corporation for their own benefit… we have lost confidence in governments for the safekeeping of our lands.”
Sock added that “our notice of eviction has been completely ignored by the Provincial government and Southwest Energy, and… we have been compelled to act to save our water, land and animals from ruin.”
“Let it be known to all the we as the chief and council of Elsipogtog are reclaiming all unoccupied reserve lands… We have been instructed by our people that they are ready, willing, and able to go out and stake their own claims on all unoccupied lands for their own use and benefit.”
The October 1 announcement, which came on their Treaty Day, was read at the blockade site to an exuberant crowd of hundreds who gathered from across Kent County and beyond.
The New Brunswick government has been allowing SWN Resources to explore some 2.5 million acres of lands for the purpose of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. Fracking involves drilling deep wells that fracture shale rock beds and requires the pumping of millions of gallons of pressurized fresh water and toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, into a well to force the gas out. However, the provincial government’s case for hydraulic fracturing took a huge blow this past September when Louis LaPierre, the researcher at the New Brunswick Energy Institute who wrote the report encouraging the government to proceed with gas exploitation, was discovered to have lied for decades about having a PhD in Ecology.
On Wednesday, October 2, a new Brunswick court issued an injunction against the blockade at the request of SWN, which is enforceable until October 12, 2013. But the papers have yet to be served by the RCMP, and Miles Howe of the Halifax Media Co-op has reported that the RCMP would not enforce an injunction until dialogue with the Premiere had ceased.
On Sunday, October 5 Premier Alward and three members of his cabinet met with and the Elsipogtog chief and 15 representatives of the protesters for three hours in a Moncton hotel, with negotiations continuing in Fredericton as of Monday. The delegation reportedly excluded the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, who Alward would not meet with, and who have reportedly been the main and most visible force at the blockade. The Warriors are independent of the Chief and Council.
Two Row Times asked Elsipogtog counsellor Robert Levi whether the negotiations that had opened up related to the blockade or the larger land reclamation, and Levi told us that “I think the [reclamation] is a larger issue that will take on a life of its own. But since we have an injunction hanging over our heads, this is what needs to be resolved right now, since we want a peaceful resolution to the blockade and for no one to get hurt.”
On October 7, the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society took their own initiative and hand-delivered a letter (via a Houston-based environmentalist group) to SWN Resources reading, “all projects, leases, and permits issued to SWN Resources by the Government [of New Brunswick] come to a halt until all Mi’kmaq-L’nu, and Wabanaki communities, as sovereign individuals are Meaningfully Consulted, and that we are able to come to an informed decision as individuals.”
All the while, the Acadian presence in the anti-fracking movement and at the most recent blockade has also been quite strong, which many see as a welcome development between the two communities. Fourteen years ago, the crisis of Burnt Church unfolded 100 km to the north, where non-native fishers destroyed thousands of Mi’kmaq lobster traps to protest native fishing rights, which was followed by violent confrontations. However, Acadians and Mi’kmaq have also had strong of unity against a common oppressor in the region’s history. After the mass expulsion of the French-speaking Acadian people by the British in 1755, the remaining Acadians and the Mi’kmaq made a treaty that saw the two peoples unite in a guerilla war against the British that led to the 1757 defeat of a British detachment in 1757 in the Battle of Bloody Creek.
by Steve da Silva – Produced for TwoRowTimes.com & BASICS Community News Service
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is now taking drastic measure of emptying out two-thirds of Cold Lake in Alberta to contain the spilling of bitumen at no less than four sites at its Cold Lake project for over a month now. More than 1.5 million liters of bitumen (a mixture of oil sands, heavy crude and water) is said to have leaked. The bitumen leaked would fill 9600 barrels.
by Steve da Silva – Produced for TwoRowTimes.com & BASICS Community News Service
Last Wednesday, September 25, a Canadian National Rail train with 17 cars carrying hazardous materials, including flammable petroleum, ethanol, and other chemicals, derailed near Landis, Saskatchewan, on Treaty 6 Territory.
No people were injured, and the leaked oil was reportedly minimal and contained, unlike the Lac Megantic disaster in June 2013, which killed 47 and destroyed much of the town’s center.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall used the derailment as an opportunity to hail the benefits of building more oil pipelines: “We are going to be railing more oil out of this province, that’s just the fact of the matter. We’re doing it now and frankly doing it efficiently and safely for the most part, again from a statistical standpoint. But we need pipelines. We need them and we need to be unequivocal that pipelines are still certainly the best way.”
Mi’kmaq warriors arrested in ongoing against fracking in New Brunswick
by Steve da Silva, Produced originally for Two Row Times
In the latest turn of events in the movement against ‘fracking’ in New Brunswick, members of the Mi’kmaq warriors were swarmed, arrested, and charged by the RCMP for their role in the environmental struggle that is uniting the Indigenous peoples of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy nations alongside the Francophone people of the Acadian nation and other Maritimers.
Jim Pictou was charged with uttering threats, while Annie Clair and Susanne Patles were charged with mischief after their arrests over the last two weeks. Pictou and Clair were picked up on their way to speak out at a meeting in Moncton of Indian Act chiefs, while Patles was swarmed and charged by the RCMP at the first court appearance for Pictou and Clair.
In the wake of their arrests, in what seemed a clever media move to draw attention to the government of Canada’s illegitimate governance over Mi’kmaq people and their land, Pictou called upon the Canadian military to intervene on the side of the Mi’kmaq against the RCMP and its harassment of the three arrestees.
In an interview with Radio BASICS on September 20, Jim Pictou - who is the cousin of the American Indian Movement member Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash who was murdered in 1975 – said that according to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British “we have the right to protect and serve our land. The Queen of England is supposed to protect Aboriginal people from any harm. If we ever feel in danger by the Canadian government, we should be able to call on the Queen.”
The arrest of the warriors occurred days before the expected return Southwest Energy (SWN) to the province after a summer of tense encounters and growing resistance. A Facebook event was created last week calling upon anti-frackers to evict SWN once again. By late July, negotiations between the RCMP and Elsipogtog First Nation officials concluded an agreement that SWN would permitted to detonate eleven shot holes along the contested Line 5 route; and that 25 of 35 arrestees over the course of the summer would have their charges dropped; and a break in construction would take place until mid-September.
Pictou, who says that the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society traces back to Oka and before, told Radio BASICS that “we don’t recognize the [Mi’kmaq] Grand Council or the Indian agents, which are the Chiefs. We’ve been fighting against them the whole time… The Warrior Society is with treaty people: we recognize the treaty, we defend the treaty. That’s our right.”
The New Brunswick government is allowing South-Western Energy (SWN), a Houston-based corporation, to explore some 2.5 million acres of lands for the purpose of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. Fracking involves drilling wells that fracture shale rock beds and pumping millions of gallons of pressurized fresh water and toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, into the well to bring up the gas. Fracking is know to cause earthquakes, contaminate water, and disrupt animal life, while millions of liters of fresh water become contaminated with toxic chemicals, petroleum by-products and ionizing radiation that is brought up from deep within the earth.
According to the group, Sacred Fire – People United Against Fracking, “some 7 million liters of dirty frackwater has already been dumped into the ocean through municipal sewer systems in Windsor, Nova Scotia” from other fracking projects.
Although the current New Brunswick premier David Alward was elected on a platform of banning fracking, Alward he changed his position after being elected,
Sacred Fire reports that “The people of Penobsquis are now trucking in their water – many of their wells have caved in or dried up and homes have started sinking into the ground after seismic testing. Insurance companies will not cover the damage claims.”
Pictou told BASICS that “I don’t understand how the government is allowed to sanction the poisoning of our water. Under the treaty rights, we are supposed to be able to protect our waters. But with these corporations, we’re losing everything. So we have to stand up as one and unite as nations across…”
Onkwehon:we (Original Peoples) – Week in Review (August 5-11, 2013)
‘Onkwehonwe’ is a word used by Haudenosaunee peoples (also known as the Six Nations Confederacy) that means ‘original peoples’ and refers to all Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America).
by Steve da Silva – Reproduced from the Two Row Times
Flood Evacuees of Siksika Nation Living in Prison Camp-Like Conditions
No smoking, no pets, no ‘vulgar language’, an imposed curfew and no ‘inappropriate clothing’ – such as women wearing shorts or tank tops. These are just a few of the ‘rules’ that flood evacuees of the Siksika First Nation are being subjected to after having to flee heavy flooding along the Bow River. While many regions affected by floodwaters that swept through Alberta in June 2013 have been quickly restored, members of Siksika Firs t Nation have been waiting weeks to return home, even after flood waters receded.
The Siksiká are one of the four nations of the ‘Blackfoot Confederacy,’ known as the Niitsítapi (‘Original People’) in the Blackfoot dialects. The ancestral lands of the Niitsítapi span much of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, and part North Dakota.
CSIS, Aboriginal Affairs Involved in Widespread Surveillance During Idle No More
Recent reports attained by the Canadian Press through access-to-information requests reveal the extent to which Canada’s spy agency kept tabs on the Idle No More movement throughout December 2012 and January 2013. Aboriginal Affairs, CSIS, and the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Center (ITAC), cooperated in monitoring and creating ‘threat assessments’ of the Indigenous protests, of which they documented 439 over the two month period.
Investigative journalist Tim Groves of Toronto revealed in July 2013 that CSIS is currently deploying a recruitment strategy to bring on board more Aboriginal people and ‘visible minorities’. The spy agency’s internal reports revealed that they had 55 “Aboriginal employees” as of 2012, which they were seeking to increase to 111.
Beating of 24-year-old Innu man by Quebec police caught on camera
A video of two Quebec police (Sûreté du Québec) officers beating a 24-year-old Innu man in Unamen Shipu territory in northeastern Quebec has gone viral. The YouTube video shows Norbert Mestenapeo – who does not appear to be resisting – receiving multiple blows to the head. The assault occurred in La Romaine, an Innu First Nation community. Unamen Shipu had its own police force until 2008, when it could no longer operate due to budgetary constraints, at which point policing was taken over by Sûreté du Québec.
The incident has been seized upon by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec to call for a return to Aboriginal policing of the community. Grand chief of Unamen Shipu, Raymond Bellefleur, said of the incident: “Police come here and they can’t speak the Montagnais language and they never stay for more than a week. How can you effectively patrol a place you know nothing about?”
APTN has license renewed for 5 years
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) renewed the ‘mandatory carriage’ license of APTN for another five years, providing the Aboriginal broadcaster with a place on basic cable and $38 million in funding that comes with it. APTN provides programming in 30 different Onkwehon:we languages, as well as English and French. APTN had applied for an increase of its subscriber fees from 25 to 40 cents, but received 31 cents per cable subscriber.
Sun Media, notorious for its rightwing anti-native, anti-working-class, and anti-immigrant editorializing, had its application for ‘mandatory carriage’ on basic cable rejected. But the CRTC’s compromise solution directed all television networks to offer all-Canadian national news services, which would encourage cable providers to pick up Sun Media in their basic cable packages.
Bella Laboucan-McLean is the latest victim on the long list of Onkwehon:we women who have been murdered, disappeared, or have died under suspicious circumstances in Canada. Laboucan-McLean, the young Sturgeon Lake Cree First Nation woman who had just graduated from Humber College, was found dead on July 20 after having plunging 31 storeys to the ground from a downtown Toronto condo she was visiting.
Two other women in their 20s have died in highly suspicious circumstances in Toronto this summer as well. Cheyenne Fox from Sheguiandah First Nation also plunged to her death from a condo in April. In May, Terra Gardner was killed by a freight train near Yonge and Summerhill after having received death threats at a time when she had been compelled to testify in an upcoming murder trial.
The United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will be sending special rapporteurs to Canada this summer and fall, finally responding to the awareness and pressure generated by years of work of grassroots Indigenous women and supporting activists who have drawn attention to the nearly 600 documented cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women.
Federal Conservative Justice Minister Peter McKay recently dismissed calls for a national Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women that was backed by provincial and territorial leaders meeting at the Niagara-On-The-Lake Summit after their meeting with aboriginal leaders.