The indigenous land rights ruling that could transform Canada

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Indigenous rights offer a path to a radically more just and sustainable country – which is why the Canadian government is bent on eliminating them.

Posted by Martin Lukacs, Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Fish Lake on Tsilhqot’in territory in British Columbia, where the Indigenous Tsilhqot’in nation has prevented a copper and gold mine from being built.
Fish Lake on Tsilhqot’in territory in British Columbia, where the Indigenous Tsilhqot’in nation has prevented a copper and gold mine from being built. Photograph: Friends of the Nemaiah Valley
The unrest is palpable. In First Nations across Canada, word is spreading of a historic court ruling recognizing Indigenous land rights. And the murmurs are turning to action: an eviction notice issued to a railway company in British Columbia; a park occupied in Vancouver; lawsuits launched against the Enbridge tar sands pipeline; a government deal reconsidered by Ontario Algonquins; and sovereignty declared by the Atikamekw in Quebec.

These First Nations have been emboldened by this summer’s Supreme Court of Canada William decision, which recognized the aboriginal title of the Tsilhqot’in nation to 1,750 sq km of their land in central British Columbia – not outright ownership, but the right to use and manage the land and to reap its economic benefits.

The ruling affects all “unceded” territory in Canada – those lands never signed away through a treaty or conquered by war. Which means that over an enormous land mass – most of British Columbia, large parts of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and a number of other spots – a new legal landscape is emerging that offers the prospect of much more responsible land stewardship.

First Nations are starting to act accordingly, and none more so than the Tsilhqot’in. They’ve declared a tribal park over a swath of their territory. And they’ve announced their own policy on mining – a vision that leaves room for its possibility, but on much more strict environmental terms. Earlier this month they erected a totem pole to overlook a sacred area where copper and gold miner Taseko has for years been controversially attempting to establish itself; no mine will ever be built there.

And the Canadian government’s response? Far from embracing these newly recognised indigenous land rights, they are trying to accelerate their elimination. The court has definitively told Canada to accept the reality of aboriginal title: the government is doing everything in its power to deny it. Read More


Manidoowaadiziwag Ikwewag – Women Are Sacred, Video Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence and Practices for Dealing with DV in Native Communities and Victims with Disabilities

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Turtle Talk

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

This documentary film was developed to be an educational and training tool based on the work produced by the Minnesota Accessing Paths to Safety Project.

The film chronicles the the first-hand stories of American Indian woman survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse with disabilities from the White Earth Nation. Learn about their history and tradition, the impact of historical trauma and intergenerational grief, and the resources available for survivors on and around the reservation.

Link to the video here.

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Naomi Klein Speaks at the Chan Centre, UBC, Oct. 26, 2014

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Naomi Klein on capitalism vs. the climate
*Tickets for this FREE talk cannot be reserved online or by phone – the only way to get advance tickets (a maximum of two) is in person at the Chan Centre box office beginning October 21st. There should be enough seats, but it could fill up. Come early if you’re keen! Click here for more information.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein will be addressing the Vancouver Institute on Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia.
Naomi Klein is the author of the critically acclaimed #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies which have each been translated into more than 30 languages. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman. Naomi is a member of the board of directors for, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. She holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. Her new book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (September, 2014). 
Date: Sunday, October 26, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, UBC (6265 Crescent Rd, Vancouver)
*Tickets for this FREE talk cannot be reserved online or by phone – the only way to get advance tickets (a maximum of two) is in person at the Chan Centre box office beginning October 21st. There should be enough seats, but it could fill up. Come early if you’re keen!

Assert, Defend, Take Space: Aboriginal Youth on Identity, Activism, and Film

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The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) invites you to attend  Assert, Defend, Take Space, a conference by Aboriginal youth on identity, activism, and film. The event takes place on October 18 to coincide with the exhibition entitled Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth, which looks at the diverse ways that young people are asserting their identity and affirming their relationship to both urban spaces and ancestral territories.

The daylong event will feature screenings of over a dozen short films followed by panel discussions with a number of artists and activists from across Canada, Norway, and the United States, many of whom are featured in the exhibit itself. Panelists will discuss themes of youth identity and politics, the objectification of Indigenous women, and environmentalism and youth activism.

Participants include Kelli Clifton, who is known for her design that branded the Idle No Moremovement; Cody Lecoy whose piece Lions Gate Bridge is featured in the Claiming Space exhibition; and Emilio Wawatie, an Anishnabe filmmaker from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec, who was the spokesperson at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2013. This assembly of young activists and artists will certainly make for an engaging and thought-provoking day.

The event is free with the purchase of admission. Admission is always free for Aboriginal people and UBC students. Register online.  Doors open at 9:30am with a coffee and tea reception in the MOA Lobby.

Share your experience by using #ClaimingSpace

Date: October 18, 2014
Time: 10:00am to 4:30pm
Where: MOA – 6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver

Amazon Indian protests outside Jimmy Nelson photo exhibition in London

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Nixiwaka Yawanawá protested against the 'outrageous' exhibition of Jimmy Nelson's work at London's Atlas Gallery today, wearing his ceremonial headdress.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá protested against the ‘outrageous’ exhibition of Jimmy Nelson’s work at London’s Atlas Gallery today, wearing his ceremonial headdress.
© Sophie Pinchetti/Survival

An Amazon Indian protested outside the exhibition of controversial photographer Jimmy Nelson’s work “Before They Pass Away” at London’s Atlas Gallery today.

Nelson’s work has been attacked by indigenous peoples around the world, as well as Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights – for portraying afalse and damaging picture of tribal peoples.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá from Acre state in Brazil handed a letter to the gallery and said, “As a tribal person I feel offended by Jimmy Nelson’s work ’Before They Pass Away’. It’s outrageous! We are not passing away but struggling to survive. Industrialized society is trying to destroy us in the name of ‘progress’, but we will keep defending our lands and contributing to the protection of the planet.”

Read the letter to London’s Atlas Gallery (pdf, 10MB)

Famed photographer Jimmy Nelson's work 'Before They Pass Away' has been attacked by tribal peoples around the world.

Famed photographer Jimmy Nelson’s work ‘Before They Pass Away’ has been attacked by tribal peoples around the world.
© Jimmy Nelson/teNeues

While Nelson claims his work is “ethnographic fact”, Survival Director Stephen Corrydenounces it as a photographer’s fantasy which bears little relationship either to how the people pictured look now, or how they ever appeared. Nelson’s subjects are supposed to be “passing away”, but no mention is made of the genocidal violence they are being subjected to. …Read More

Amazon Women on the Frontlines of Climate Change

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

A selection of photos from Amazon Women on the Frontlines of Climate Change, a traveling photography exhibit with written and live testimonies from indigenous women leading solutions on the frontlines of the Amazon as the region confronts the impacts of climate change.

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As in other developing countries, women in the Amazon bear a disproportional burden as climate change impacts their traditional territories and environment. It is in the daily lives of these women – who are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood – that the battle to save the family, traditional ways of life and the future of their children is played out. In order to further preserve biodiversity and limit its degradation, indigenous people – particularly women – can and should play a leading role in the global response to climate change. Amazonian women hold a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies. These brave women are rising to become effective agents of change, and have taken the lead in a rapidly growing movement to protect their rainforest homelands across Ecuador. As female givers of life, the women of the Amazon have felt a great responsibility to lead the fight against impending oil drilling and the destruction of Pachamama, our “life giving mother earth,” and are calling on the world to keep oil under ground in their ancestral lands. Read More…