Saturday, November 17, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
17 October 2007
CPT Canada recalls team from Algonquin blockade
The mediation process will encompass the following discussions:
--whether Frontenac's staked claims and mining lease are legally valid;
--the possibility of withdrawing traditional Algonquin land from staking and a moratorium on mineral exploration and mining;
--addressing on-the-ground concerns about the impacts of uranium drilling.
Frontenac Ventures obtained a license under the Ontario Mining Act to carry out exploratory drilling on sixty square kilometers of unceded Algonquin land. The Algonquins have never surrendered title to lands they have inhabited from time immemorial. The Royal Proclamation Act of 1763 and the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 enshrine Aboriginal title in Canadian law.
Neither FV nor the
An open-pit uranium mine would release toxic radon gas and polonium and leave behind millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings that will permanently pollute groundwater. In its 23 June 2007 Statement on Uranium Mining, the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation asserted, "Uranium mining will lead directly to our social, spiritual, and cultural demise, as our collective identity--requires a continual relationship with the land . . .We do not have the option that FVC has to pack up and leave once their destruction of our lands is complete." (See http://www.aafna.ca/Uranium_mining.html.) . According to the mediation agreement, the Algonquins will allow FV to continue with some exploratory work, but it cannot do any drilling. The court has appointed an independent monitor to verify FV's compliance and has allowed a period of twelve weeks for the mediation.
CPT maintains that this land-use dispute is rooted in the Canadian government's historic neglect of legitimate Algonquin land and national sovereignty claims, and the unconstitutionality of the Ontario Mining Act. (The Mining Act makes no provision for consulting First Nations communities.) A mediation process that addresses the root causes of this conflict is a positive step towards resolving a long-standing injustice.
CPT sent a team to the blockade site on 3 September 2007. CPT conducted two non-violence trainings, attended court proceedings, organized a letter-writing campaign to OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, and maintained a presence at the blockade site. CPT will continue to follow developments related to the dispute closely.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Frank Morrison was cutting his winter wood supply on his northern
On June 28, 2007, the Algonquin people set up a blockade at the main gate to the exploration site. Within a few days, the white settlers in the area had formed the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium, www.ccamu.ca, to support the Algonquin action. These pristine hills and forests of north Frontenac are the head waters of the Mississippi River, which flows into the
Several weeks ago Christian Peacemaker Teams sent a team at the blockade. I joined the team for a week on September 16. Tents and trailers are set along the road and just inside the gates of the property. People come when they have days off work to be part of the blockade. When they go back home, they leave their tents and trailers for others to use. A circle of some 20 chairs is drawn up around an open fire in front of the gate. People come and go, bring coffee and snacks, and stop awhile to get news about the latest court actions. Inside the gates, generators provide power to run a kitchen and keep freezers cold. Those freezers are stocked with food donated by hundreds of supporters.
On Saturday, September 22, a flotilla of canoes set off from the
We often hear stories from around the world of farmers and indigenous people trying to protect their lands from miners, loggers, and other resource extractors. In
Sunday, September 30, 2007
September 11, 2007 (Vancouver, BC) – Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and six other international conservation groups are running an advertisement in today’s Financial Times in London, UK, targeting Royal Dutch Shell’s plan for a coalbed methane gas field in northern BC’s Sacred Headwaters.
The ad features protesters at a First Nations road blockade and the headline, “This time it’s
“Shell’s European executives and the British Columbian government need to know the world is watching their actions in the Sacred Headwaters,” said Lisa Matthaus with Sierra Club of Canada, one of the ad signatories. “If Shell pushes ahead with its plan to drill for gas in the Sacred Headwaters, they will face an escalating international campaign.”
The Sacred Headwaters is the shared birthplace of three of BC’s most important wild salmon rivers: the Skeena, Nass and
Last month, members of the Tahltan First Nation blockaded the main access road into the Sacred Headwaters, preventing Shell from resuming its drilling program. Shell applied for a court injunction against the blockade, but later postponed its application.
On August 31, hundreds of concerned citizens in Vancouver and Smithers protested Shell’s coal bed methane project in the Sacred Headwaters.
For more information, contact:
Lisa Matthaus, Sierra
Will Horter, Dogwood Initiative: (250) 370-9930
Merran Smith, ForestEthics: (250) 847-5869
David MacKinnon, Rivers Without Borders:
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
26 September 2007
In advance of the October 10 Ontario 2007 provincial election, more than 250 CPTers, native rights and environmental activists joined First Nation leaders at the Ontario Legislature on Friday, September 21, 2007 to issue a challenge to all political parties: respect moratoria issued by indigenous communities against industrial activities on their traditional lands.
As part of the witness, participants unfurled a seventy-five-metre-long banner in the shape of a yellow arrow that read, "Native Land Rights Now."
Co-sponsored by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the witness was a scheduled event of CPT's first Peacemaker Congress in
Native groups in attendance included representatives from Asubpeeschoseewagong (
The public witness included the laying of 107 ribbons--one for each electoral riding (district) in
Located in northwestern
The Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations have been blockading an access road on their unceded territory since June 28, 2007 in order to stop Frontenac Ventures from uranium mine exploration. A court injunction against the blockade of the road--located an hour north of
(See http://www.aafna.ca for more information.)
In February 2006, the Ontario Government granted permission for Platinex Inc. to drill for diamonds in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) territory.
A fly-in community located 600 km north of Sioux Lookout,
Photos of the action are available
Friday, September 21, 2007
CPT Canada News
September 19, 2007
Harold Perry, honorary chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN), was driven to court in Kingston, Ontario by his daughter Mona on September 18, 2007. He expected to be arrested, something he welcomed because it would bring to a head the on-going conflict of the Algonquins with Frontenac Ventures and the provincial government of Ontario. The government is allowing Frontenac to explore for uranium on unceded Algonquin lands without Algonquin permission.
On June 28, 2007, the AAFN, together with the Shabot Obaajiwan First Nation, closed the gate at the entrance of the road being used for uranium exploration. The Algonquins occupied the area inside the gate and, in support, non-aboriginal settlers from the area set up a tent city outside the gate. (Non-aboriginal supporters of the blockade call themselves “settlers” to acknowledge their status as newcomers on the land.)
On August 31, a court injunction obtained by Frontenac Ventures against the gate closing was read in front of the gate, but no one heard it: native drummers and settler singers drowned out the sheriff's voice. Since then, the Alonquins and their supporters have been afraid the police will enforce the injunction in spite of the frequent presence of unarmed, plain-clothed Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) liaison officers pursuing a negotiated settlement to the impasse. The OPP liaison projects are a direct result of the Ipperwash Inquiry into the death of a native person, Dudley George, in another such occupation.
In court, OPP officers named those they had observed inside the gate following the reading of the injunction. Harold was amongst them. Frontenac Ventures subpoenaed one of the liaison officers. When asked to name those he had observed inside the gate, he stated, "My role was one of mediation, not intelligence gathering, and I made no notes of who was or was not inside the gate."
Robert Lovelace, a former AAFN chief, said at the end of hearing, "The fact that a liaison officer can be required to testify in court greatly undermines the credibility of these new OPP initiatives.”
Over the lunch break, Harold and other Algonquins in attendance asked their lawyers to tell the court that they were not disputing their presence inside the gate in order to hasten a court trial where arguments for the justice of their actions could be heard. The issue is about who actually owns the land, not whether they are inside the gate or not.
Christian Peacemaker David Milne added his name to the list and the lawyers for Frontenac Ventures insisted that a settler instrumental in the resistance to uranium mining add his name as well. The judge accepted the request and set September 24 as the day to set date for trial.
But the question is who really is on trial: the Algonquins and their supporters resisting the ravages of uranium mining, or the federal and provincial governments careless enough to issue permits on lands in the midst of treaty claims?
Let us pray that the new judge will preside over a court of justice rather than a court of law, since the laws of Ontario are not in accord with a just stance towards our Aboriginal sisters and brothers.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
And they must rejoice when they live among people [who are considered to be] of little worth and who are looked down upon, among the poor and the powerless, the sick and the lepers, and the beggars by the wayside (Francis of Assisi in Lynch OFM, 1998).
Feminist theory encourages the researcher to situate herself. In adherence to feminist principles, I wish to situate myself by showing how I arrive at my passion for social justice. I am an African-American (Canadian) Catholic woman and a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Joy, an ecumenical religious community of women. This social position contains several points of marginality within society and the Catholic Church. The Church as a whole is admittedly patriarchal and in North America is a predominately white institution. The community of sisters to which I belong is marginal within the church because of our stance on living without property as individuals and as a community.
The concept of social justice has a long but uncelebrated history within the Roman Catholic Church. Along with those who accept the status quo of the wider society, there have been individuals and movements whose works went counter to the prevailing attitudes in the church and in society. In recent history, liberation theologians and practitioners are one but not the only example. In this paper, I will discuss two theological traditions which influence my research interests: The Franciscan Movement initiated by Francis of Assisi and the Catholic Worker Movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. These movements share philosophical egalitarian perspectives concretely expressed in that each practiced, as much as possible for their time, equality between the sexes and an absence of race-based exclusion. There is an example of Franciscan inclusivity as early as the sixteenth century. Saint Benedict the Black, born 1526 and died in 1589, was appointed superior of his friary in Palermo. In North America, St. Benedict is almost a secret except among Black Catholics. However, he is celebrated in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latin American. Although I have only recently become familiar with Franciscan history, I have always been deeply influenced by the spiritual tradition of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, succinctly called, Franciscan spirituality.
Spirituality, according to Perrin & McDermott (1997) is “an individual’s philosophy, value, and meaning of life” (p. 1). Of significance here is the concept of spirituality as the basic value around which all other values are focused, the central philosophy of life, which guides a person’s conduct (Perrin & McDermott, 1997, p. 7). One tenet of Franciscan spirituality is that even when marginalized, we are all challenged to become the person God has called us to be and to help others to do the same. I live and work in the Vancouver’s inner city. I see and have come to know people with addictions as people, not statistics or problems. As a recovering alcoholic, I know the difficulty involved in trying to stop the slow suicide of addiction.
When we think of the addict as morally bankrupt it allows us to forget that we are a society that bankrupts its citizens through the bottom-line thinking that has mesmerized us. We have no respect, room or tolerance for our visionaries, dreamers, artists and healers unless we can put a price on their visions, dreams, art and healing strategies. We start killing them as soon as they start school. We let corporate money and business decide what our society’s educational and social needs are. Instead of letting people become who God intended them to be, we dictate what they should become according to Market forces. Thea Bowman, an African American Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, said,
Some people are taught that they are superior, some that they are inferior. Many of us have internalized racist, materialistic and elitist values and assumptions. But I think we have within ourselves the power to reevaluate those assumptions.. . . .It is important to say to your child every day "You're somebody special because you're God's child." And say to your wife or husband, "You're God's gift to me and I really, really, really love you." . . . [Thea] encourages teachers to have their students display their baby pictures on the bulletin board as "heroes and she-roes of the future." Whatever will boost the children’s self-image will go a long way toward equipping them to be leaders in the community (Bowman in Jones, 1988, p. 4).
It was in this context of theology and spirituality that I became aware of issues of social justice. Hence, my motivation in working for social justice is theologically based.
I am no stranger to oppression and marginalization. Like Lange (2000) who sought to find a way to bring the ideas of liberation theology to middle-class Canadians and Zarowny (1992), I recognize the need for a homemade theology of liberation. Zarowny writes:
To borrow Megan McKenna’s analogy of liberation theology as “theology done from the perspective of Job’s dung-heap,” we had tried to borrow the dung-heap of Central America’s majority rather than use our own Canadian dung-heap as the perspective through which to gain guidance and sustenance from Jesus’ teachings (Zarowny, 1992, p. 391).
Similarly, feminist standpoint theory advises that feminist theorizing cannot and should not be done as if coming from one location. These two streams of thought, feminist standpoint theory and theology of liberation, advocate that the work one does should contribute to a change in society by the identification, acknowledgement, and an effort to reduce power differences and by working in solidarity with rather than doing research on those relegated to the periphery of mainstream society. In this context, I see no contradiction between feminist thought and a theology of liberation. I situate myself as being influenced by both perspectives in my research project choices. For me, a theology of liberation occurs at the confluence of the Catholic Worker Movement and Franciscan spirituality. My position may be clarified by the following brief description of the Catholic Worker Movement and my participation in it.
The Catholic Worker Movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Dorothy Day was a journalist involved in the women’s suffrage movement. She was influenced by the Communist philosophy. Day was a pacifist and a supporter of workers’ rights. Day’s common law husband abandoned her when she had their daughter baptized. Soon after, she converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1933, she met Peter Maurin, who introduced her to Catholic social teachings. Maurin advocated “roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought”, “houses of hospitality” an idea based on early and medieval Christian hospices; and “agronomic universities” or farming communes where workers could learn and professors could work (Ellis, 1988). These three ideals became the foundation of the Catholic Worker Movement. At the same time, the Catholic Worker Movement is dedicated to the social justice interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Worker tradition emphasizes orthopraxy (right practice or right actions) as the expression of orthodoxy (right belief). The members of this movement are not necessarily Catholic or Christian. Hence orthodoxy here means respecting everyone because of the imprint of the Creator on all of creation. For Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, the reason to get involved and the solution to social problems is love and must therefore be rooted in love.
I am a founding and resident member of the Vancouver Catholic Worker. The Vancouver Catholic Worker, in keeping with Catholic Worker tradition offers hospitality —in the form of food, clothing, shelter and friendship —to those who need it; holds roundtable discussions; and has an urban communal “farm” in lieu of an agronomic university.
Smith (2001) compares the Catholic Worker movement and liberation theology stating, “Liberation theology speaks of freedom for the oppressed; the Catholic Worker calls us to voluntary poverty, service and work” (Smith, 2001, p. 163). Smith’s comparison needs modification in that not all adherents of liberation theology are oppressed nor are all Catholic Workers poor voluntarily. Smith advises that those in the first world who appreciate liberation theology and would like to become involved, need look no further than their local Catholic Worker community (Smith, 2001, p. 164).
Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were greatly influenced by Saint Francis of Assisi. Before his conversion, Francis found lepers abhorrent and went out of his way to avoid them. Shortly after his conversion, Francis encountered a leper who was begging for alms. He braced himself, determined to treat the leper as the suffering Christ personified, and gave the leper the kiss of peace. Francis describes the experience in these words: “that which seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body” (Assisi & Assisi, 1982, p. 154). I relate this story because it illustrates the fundamental aim of the Catholic Worker Movement and Franciscan spirituality which is to learn how to sincerely embrace the leper.
Those with a history of substance abuse, who participate in the sex trade, or are otherwise marginalized by extreme poverty and homelessness, are the “lepers” of modern, mainstream society. Analogously, the marginalized of today are treated as outcasts of society just as actual lepers were in former times. As one who has a history of substance abuse, in addition to being a woman of African descent, marginalization is not foreign territory. Franciscan spirituality, the Catholic Worker Movement, and liberation theology build on and reinforce each other, resulting in a radical theological perspective that challenges the comfortable in the Church, and society in general.
Assisi, Saint Francis of, & Assisi, Saint Clare of. (1982). Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (R. J. Armstrong OFM Cap & I. C. Brady OFM, Trans.). Toronto: Paulist Press.
Ellis, M. (1988). Peter Maurin: To Bring the Social Order to Christ - Part 1. In P. G. Coy (Ed.), A Revolution of the Heart: Essays on the Catholic Worker (pp. 15-46). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. http://www.catholicworker.org/roundtable/pmlegacytext.cfm?Number=65.
Jones, A. (1988). She Sings a Ululu Story That Began in Africa. National Catholic Reporter, pp. 4.
Lynch OFM, C. J. (1998). Earlier Rule of St. Francis of Assisi. In O. Cyprian J. Lynch (Ed.), An Anthology of Franciscan Poverty. St. Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute.
Perrin, K. M., & McDermott, R. J. (1997). The spiritual dimension of health: A review. American Journal of Health Studies, 13(2), 90. 9710272768.
Smith, M. R. (2001). The Catholic Worker Movement: Toward a Theology of Liberation for First World Disciples. In W. Thorn & P. Runkel & S. Mountin (Eds.), Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary essays (Vol. 32). Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
Zarowny, Y. (1992). Liberation Theology in a Canadian Context: A Case Study, Liberation Theology and Sociopolitical Transformation: A reader. Burnaby: Institute for the Humanities Simon Fraser University.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
CPT sent a violence reduction team yesterday to accompany the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadijiwan First Nations in their continuing blockade of uranium mining exploration on their unceded territory.
An Ontario Superior Court injunction was served against the blockade on August 31, 2007. The injunction grants mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corporation “immediate” and “unfettered” access to the 8,000 hectares it has staked and is currently drilling. The Ontario Provincial Police have not said whether or not they intend to enforce the injunction.
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation is a non-status, non-treaty Aninshinaabe community of about 700 members located in the Madawaska,
Frontenac Ventures has undertaken a two year, 3.5 million dollar exploration program without the consent of the Ardoch and Shabot communities. Open pit uranium mining could occur if Frontenac determines that exploiting the uranium deposit is economically feasible.
The Ardoch and Shabot First Nations are calling for the end of all mining exploration, staking and drilling by Frontenac.
The environmental consequences of uranium mining include the contamination of ground water with heavy metals and radioactive materials, the dispersal of radioactive dust and the release of radioactive gases into the atmosphere. Once the uranium ore is processed, 85% of the radioactivity remains in the tailings which must then be managed for hundreds of thousands of years.
Local, non-aboriginal opposition to uranium exploration is fierce. Over two hundred local residents gathered with an hour’s notice to drown out the reading of the injunction. Community action groups have been organizing petitions, letter-writing campaigns, and even a tax revolt. People have been bringing food to the blockade on a daily basis since it began on June 28.
For more information, go to the Ardoch website: http://www.aafna.ca/.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Among the 35 companies listed are Best Buy, Grand & Toy, Toys "R" Us, Time Inc., Sears, Coles/Indigo, Penguin Books US and Harlequin. Rona, the Canadian home improvement and hardware store, is also named in the report.
Each company is profiled as a customer of logging and pulp companies Abitibi-Consolidated, Bowater, Kruger and SFK Pulp, whose destructive logging practices are responsible for decimating nearly 200,000 km2 of Boreal Forest, or 3.5 times the size of
The report, Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest: The chain of destruction from logging companies to consumers, calls for action from the international marketplace to protect one of the largest ancient forests left on Earth. It also condemns the governments of
"We expect customers of these logging companies to temporarily suspend their multi-million dollar contracts until action is taken on the ground to protect the forest and end destructive logging," added Fry. "We are looking to the marketplace to transform this situation."
In addition to environmental destruction-including forest fragmentation, climate impacts and loss of wildlife habitat and ecosystem biodiversity-the report also highlights Abitibi-Consolidated's refusal to end operations in the traditional territory of Grassy Narrows First Nation, despite a longstanding blockade against logging.
The backgrounder can be downloaded at
The report can be downloaded at
For further information: Kim Fry, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, (416) 406-0664; Jane Story, Greenpeace Communications, (416) 930-9055
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Jane, white European woman – Thank you for your frank and heartfelt sharing. I speak as a white European woman recovering from familial abuse and entrenched misogyny. I have had to struggle to find new roads on old maps – roads which lead to worthwhile destinations and not pain and self destruction. I am amazed that you are a catholic with the strong misogyny of the male clergy and the euro-centric value system of the present hierarchy. I couldn't deal with the insularity and smug self righteousness of the Christians I met and am no longer a frequenter of any church building. I find a park more holy than any building, but I have had so many miracles that I feel loved by a higher power. I taught children for 25 years but could never decide who was white, coloured or black. They were Carlos or Paul or Catherine.
Victoria, woman African descent – There are two issues I think need addressing. The first is my remaining in the Catholic Church. I, too, left the church at one time because I could not understand the inconsistencies between the teachings and the actions of the teachers. However, as I looked for a spiritual home, I found that the people of God are those who try to do what they feel God is calling them to do. The Spirit blows where S/He wills. The hierarchy of the Church may try to legislate where that is but the Spirit of the Creator is in all of creation, every one, every thing. Therefore, I stay in the Church because (1) that is where the inner-city community that I worship with nourishes my soul; (2) I believe in Jesus Christ and his message; (3) there are a lot of good people in the church as a whole; (4) I can do a lot of good by staying; and, (5) one cannot escape eurocentricity in North America.
The second is in relation to your comment about teaching children. While you may have had the option of not deciding who was "white, coloured or black," the children of colour did not have the same option. Skin colour has definite consequences for those who are not "white" in North American Society. When you deny colour, you deny that person's lived experiences. White people go into stores, no matter whether it is an economy store or one that sells exclusive goods, with no problem. A person of colour goes into the same stores and they are followed, given unwelcoming looks, and made to feel generally uncomfortable. I use this example because it is a mundane, everyday thing – shopping, something one has to do. Imagine the wear and tear on a child's psyche with several of these experiences each week. Then there's school where you learn that your people are "social problems." All positive contributions of your people to society are glaringly absent from the history books. Therefore you never learn that your people have done anything but "burden" society. This is the reality of being "Black, Native American or Hispanic" in
Kaaren, Anishinaabe grandmother, – Thank you for this writing. It is really right on. In a book entitled "This Bridge Called my Back," a collection of writings by women of colour, one author says that it is not the duty of the oppressed to educate their oppressors. It amazes me that we people of non-white colour still have to step up to that position if any educating gets done. It will be a great day when white people make these observations publically. It is precisely part of unearned and invisible white privilege that this does not happen. That great day will be here when, as Hugh Vasques says in "The Colour of Fear," white people are "as outraged about racism as I am outraged about racism, as black people are outraged, as Asians are outraged, as Indians are outraged." I will add that, for me, that day will be here when I see or hear white people being outraged just about unearned and invisible privileges.
On June 28, 2007 leadership and members of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation moved to secure the site of a proposed uranium mine in the traditional lands of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation near Ardoch Ontario. Frontenac Ventures Corporation, under the ownership of George White had been notified by mail to vacate the premises prior to the 28th with his equipment and staff. On the 28th members of the two Algonquin communities moved in and secured the site to prevent the drilling of uranium core samples which were slated to begin the following week.
Upon securing the site, the two communities established an alliance whose overall purpose was to prohibit access to the site and any proposed drilling within and around the site and all associated sites by Frontenac Ventures Corporation. The Algonquin alliance discovered through an initial search that multiple users had been granted access to the site and land surrounding the site by the MNR, Mining and Northern Development and private owners. At no time did any of these ministries or private owners contact or secure permission from Algonquin people to use the lands or resources in question. In fact, while Algonquin people in the area had heard rumours of a proposed uranium mine in Frontenac County, we were not aware of the plans to develop a mine on our traditional territory until Gloria Morrison, a private land owner in the region, attended a council meeting and asked for the Ardoch Algonquin council’s help in protecting her property. Gloria came to the meeting because 60 acres of her 100 acre holding had been staked by Frontenac Ventures under the Mining Act. She had exhausted all other alternatives at that point and hoped that Algonquin people could help her as she understood that the land she had purchased was in the historical territory of Algonquin people.
As already mentioned the overall purpose of the Algonquin alliance is to prohibit access to the site and any proposed drilling within and around the site and all associated sites. This includes sites that are privately owned and leased to Frontenac Ventures Corporation as this usage is against the Original Teachings and Guiding Principles which provide the guidance necessary to live within Mino-Pimaadiziwin (which means to live the good life, in a balanced way that promotes the sustainability of the Natural World and all living entities). The alliance is using a four-pronged approach to dealing with uranium exploration and mining which includes education of the larger community on the dangers of uranium exploration and mining and direct action in various locations in Algonquin territory to bring local, national and international attention to the issue. The two Algonquin communities who make up this alliance are also concerned with their responsibility as Anishinaabe people to examine prior usage of the land and resources by all users who have been granted access by the province of Ontario. Part of that strategy is to develop sound mechanisms for restoring balance to the land and waterways that have been impacted by their activities on the land and also create protocols of interaction that can be used with future users so that the same mistakes do not occur again.
The alliance also has to deal with the other users who were granted access to our territory through the province. One such user is MREL. MREL is a company that has moved heavily into the defence and security industry, and in particular the development of a range of vehicle disrupters which are used to neutralize improvised explosive devises and bomb laden vehicles, placed in anything from regular automobiles up to tractor trailer sized trucks. The units are robot deployed and designed to minimize collateral damage. The thrust of their work is humanitarian with an emphasis on saving lives, both by countering the threat of bombs in the civilian community, as well as to improve the defence capability of Canadian troops.
As MREL’s current contract is designed to save lives, and not connected to the drilling of core samples or uranium mining, the alliance has made the decision to permit MREL to enter the site under a memorandum of understanding between MREL and Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations. The memorandum of understanding will cover only the current project related to their research on vehicle disrupters. It will cover the nature of required clean-up from previous MREL work, set out the protocols for relating to the land in a way that promotes balanced relationships with the land and waterscapes, while also enabling MREL to complete the project in the designated timeframe. Any other usage of the site by MREL would have to be renegotiated. The MOU will also address the issue of securing the site while MREL is conducting their research. MREL has also come out openly against George While and Frontenac Ventures Corporation and has provided the alliance with numerous documents, maps, and correspondence that supports our position against uranium mining.
The alliance is also concerned with a new tendency on the part of some individuals to treat this site as a tourist attraction. The articulation of our autonomy here is a serious issue for both Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation. We have secured the area for the sole purpose of preventing the drilling of core samples which would lead to the development of a uranium mine on our traditional territory. Securing the area means literally keeping everyone out unless they have been invited to enter at the main gate where the encampment is located. This policy is necessary to secure the safety of everyone, inside and outside the gate. The entire parameter has been secured through the use of warriors to prevent access to Frontenac Venture Corporation and no one should enter the site as you could be seen as working for FVC. This encampment and occupation of the surrounding land and watersheds is part of an ongoing resistance on the part of these two First Nations to resist the attempts of Frontenac Ventures Corporation to drill core samples, it should respectfully not be treated as a tourist attraction.
The Algonquin alliance and resistance force is being assisted by CCAMU, Mining Watch, and other environmental and citizenship groups who are opposed to uranium mining. Many of the individuals involved in the various groups have had their own property staked under the Mining Act by Frontenac Ventures Corporation. While Algonquin people are concentrating on direct actions that articulate our autonomy in the valley of the Kiji Sìbì (which is a necessary component in the overall efforts to prevent uranium exploration and mining on our traditional lands), our non-Aboriginal friends and neighbours have renewed ancient relationships with the Algonquin people and communities here and have taken up once again their side of the wampum belt that was neglected long ago by their ancestors. Their efforts to create and disperse important information on the Mining Act and impacts of uranium mining have gone a long way in gaining outside support for our struggle to stop Frontenac in their tracks. Our non-Aboriginal neighbours have also created a network of support for the Algonquin and other Aboriginal communities who remain on the site behind the gate. This network of concerned friends and neighbours have taken it upon themselves to make sure that the people who remain there have the food, supplies, and necessities needed to maintain the occupation until a positive resolution can be achieved. Both Algonquin communities, as well as the other Aboriginal people at the site greatly appreciate the dedication and sacrifices made by everyone who has supported and continues to support our efforts to stop the proposed uranium exploration and mining on Algonquin land and that of our neighbours.
The alliance has taken several direct actions in the past few weeks to draw attention to the issue including two protest marches down Highway 7 in Sharbot Lake. The next direct action will take place on July 28 in Perth. Those wishing to participate in the action should meet at the lot behind Wendys at 3pm. This particular action will take place at two spots on Highway 7. There will be pylons inserted into the middle of the road to slow it down to two lanes. We will be setting up information tolls at each end of Perth on Highway 7. Cars will be allowed to travel but at a much slower pace which will permit us to provide info on the issue and also ask for donations which are needed to sustain the resistance force at the site and to pay for legal fees. We will need volunteers to stand at each end of the highway with picket signs and eight people to work the information toll. We will maintain the information toll from 3pm-6pm. We will continue to plan such actions on Highway Seven moving next to Carleton Place and eastward……eventually reaching Ottawa if necessary.
The Algonquin alliance has secured the legal services of Chris Reid, who is an expert on Aboriginal rights and law. Chris is working from the legal standpoint that Algonquin people never surrendered our lands and thus our autonomy and jurisdiction remain intact in the areas in which Frontenac Ventures Corporation has staked and plans to drill core samples. The details of that strategy need to remain confidential, but we will keep you updated on the progress made.
Response from Frontenac Ventures Corporation
Frontenac Ventures Corporation has responded to our protest in a variety of ways, including issuing a statement in the Globe and Mail wherein Frontenac’s CEO George White suggested that perhaps companies in Canada should utilize paramilitary forces such as those used in Africa (if you have seen Blood Diamond you will get the idea) to protect mining interests from people such as ourselves, which he equated with terrorism. In a meeting held last week, White’s lawyer said several nasty things about our Mohawk allies and asked point blank if there were Mohawk warriors on the premises. White also promised swift legal action against us at that meeting and has followed through with that threat as we have been told that he has filed a 77 million dollar law suit against the two Algonquin communities here and their associated leaders. While a security force showed up at several points today trying to serve the notice, no one accepted it and they will now deliver it to our legal team which is being led by Chris Reid out of Toronto.
Given the length of time we will need to maintain the occupation of our lands and the nature of the legal issues, we will need to implement and maintain various fundraising initiatives and activities over the next few months. Frank Morrison, who alerted us to the activities of Frontenac Ventures Corporation, is in the process of organizing a major benefit concert to take place in Carleton Place which will help in that regard, as will the one that is scheduled for Weds in Sharbot Lake. If you are not able to come and stand with us on the ground here please get involved in organizing fundraising activities to support our efforts here and what will be undoubtedly a lengthy and costly legal battle. All funds raised can be dropped off at the gate or mailed to 1045 Canoe Lane Ardoch, ON. Please specify that mailed funds go to fight uranium mining and the efforts of the Algonquin people occupying the site. If you are not able to get involved in the organization of fundraising activities, please consider dropping off or sending in your donation to support this important issue. Uranium exploration and mining will destroy our traditional territory and make it impossible to live off the land or to maintain our responsibilities to the land and waterways. We are doing this for the benefit of your children and grandchildren, so that they will have a future as Algonquin people.
The Algonquin Alliance of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation & Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I’ve done my share of living with people, I survived the sixties. In reality pursued a “sixties” lifestyle until the end of the eighties. These past seven years are the sum total of a solitary lifestyle for me. Quite frankly, I’ve come to enjoy it. The quiet and the solitude are necessary for building a life of prayer and moving forward in my formation. On a more earthly plane, I like to watch television until the wee hours of the night. These are some of the arguments that the committee in my head were debating.
On closer reflection, the realization came to me that I could not live Gospel values in isolation. Professing to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalized from a distance is to be in solidarity with a theory and not a practice. I had often criticized people for referring to “the poor” as if the poor was some faceless entity out there or over there. I realized that for me to be in solidarity with the poor would have to happen one person at a time to be real. Further, to love my neighbour meant that I’d have to allow my neighbour to love me, late night television and all.
Of course since I’m no longer a young person, financial insecurity lurked its mighty head. In the housing coop where I now live, housing charges are one-fourth of one’s income. So, if I were to become unemployed or underemployed, I wouldn’t have to worry about losing my apartment. Now, Sarah and I have taken on the responsibility of a mortgage. In my case without claim to ownership or title. We have pledged to be responsible for the house, regardless of the ability of our future guests to contribute. It was then that it became clearer to me what poverty means to me as a Franciscan. It means learning to trust. It means that poverty entails being insecure. I now understand why my Order, the Franciscan Sisters of Joy, have no motherhouse, communal or individual property. We, like the poor, are totally dependent on God through and with others to deal with any of the obstacles encountered in this life. I must learn to trust in God’s will and the good will and cooperation of others. I have to realize that I am not the “master builder” as Romero put it nor am I in charge of the show. My capacity for cooperation and teamwork must be honed and enhanced. This brings me to community. As I wrote on another occasion,
I don’t believe self-acceptance [or growth] is possible without the help of others because it is through others that we learn what is acceptable and what is not. This process starts when we are children learning the rules of our society from our families and continues as we journey through life. This includes our spiritual life, I don’t believe that we can learn how to be or be spiritual without others. I believe that God speaks to us through others and on occasion speaks to others through us. However, there is also a caution that sometimes as Christians and people of God we must be in opposition to what is generally acceptable. One example is the current trend of leaving the Christ out of Christmas and reducing the Holy Season that commemorates Jesus’ birth to an exercise in ultimate consumerism.
I believe that this is why the Catholic Worker movement is so important to me. In striving to live out the gospel in a concrete way we need each other for support. I need to be reminded of the Sermon on the Mount and the Works of Mercy. We can remind each other that there is precedent for what we’re doing, not just back in some forgotten age, but in my lifetime, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the movement they started.
Victoria Marie, osc
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
During the delegation’s visit to the Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation, we had the opportunity to see, experience and learn from people who remember and live in away that respects the sacredness of life. We saw how a natural forest is a diverse, interdependent ecosystem. We learned how the forest supports both plant and animal species that also support human life.
We also saw clear-cuts and their results. In speaking of what is happening at Whiskey Jack Forest of Grassy Narrows, Brian Tuesday, says that the people “are forced to disconnect from the very life that sustains them. The trees, the animals, the plants that they coexist with and had a living relationship with are being destroyed.” The areas that have been clear-cut have been replaced with a mono-culture of genetically engineered trees.
In a short one hour drive we passed several of these tree farms. The clear-cuts destroyed the habitat of several species of animals, birds and plants and in turn the loss of food, medicines and other resources that sustain three of the community’s families.
Yet there is hope. Normally, areas that have been clear-cut are chemically treated so that no other types of tree or vegetation can grow there besides grass, ensuring that the selected type of tree has no competition for soil nutrients. Pressure from Grassy Narrows and the four year Blockade contributed to the cessation of aerial spraying in the area thus enabling some local vegetation to re-establish itself.
There are signs of life returning. In one of these areas blueberries abound. The team was invited to pick blueberries by one of our hosts from Grassy Narrows. One of the team, Pat McSherry, remarked on how surreal it was to see the contrast between the clearcut and the thriving blueberries.
As suggested above, one can glimpse the image of God through the footprints of the Divine One in creation. Not only humans but all of creation bears the divine imprint of the Creator. Further, each microbe and being of creation is unique. Each deserves reverence and respect because of its singular manifestation of the Divine spark—of God. Wanton destruction of creation for greed without regard for its inherent sacredness is a form of sacrilege.
My experience of Grassy Narrows has prompted me to reflect on what happens if the clear-cutting does not stop and the life of the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation is drained away. It is not enough for me to point the finger at others. I have to contemplate on how the Gospel is calling me respond to the challenging question posed by Brian Tuesday, “What have we done to see that justice prevails?”
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Creator, day before yesterday, while entering names in the intercessory prayer list, I was about to type, "Be with them Lord". Then I thought, "how inappropriate", because you are always with them (us). I tried to think of something appropriate to say and could not. So I didn't type anything and went about my prayers. Later while watching television, one of the characters in whatever I was watching at the time, said the same thing in a similar situation, "Be with them Lord". Then it hit me, out of the blue, like so many of the insights You send to me, the is why we need silent prayer. Whatever we say to You is so insignificant that the only thing that really makes sense is to offer You our time and just be with You.
I'm not saying that our prayers are insignificant in that we shouldn't bother praying. What I mean is that You know all our needs, wants, and desires better than we do. When we pray verbally, I think it is only to remind ourselves of who we are, what we want, really want and need. This led me to finally internalize in a more concrete way what has been said so many times before that the only stance or disposition for prayer is humility. Only You give our prayers silent or verbal any worth, merit or meaning. If I do not realize that, my prayer time is just so much noise or unconsciousness. When I say prayers for others, I have to name them to solidify my intent to pray for the person(s) named in the prayer. This is information to keep my neighbour in my mind. All of us are always in Your mind. Loving Constant Companion, I know that You need no reminders.Please grant that I may always pray and reflect in a posture of humility, remembering that without You, I don't exist. You know my mind and heart and its desires before I have even formulated anything into a thought, wish or desire. I ask that you teach me to grow in love, humility and wisdom, that I may be able to discern Your will and have the strength and desire to do it. I ask this in nomine Patris et Fillii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen
Friday, June 22, 2007
Words of Chief Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux:
“Upon suffering beyond suffering:
The Red Nation shall rise again,
and it shall be a blessing for a sick world.
A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations.
A world longing for light again!
I see a time of Seven Generations
when all the colors of mankind will gather under the
Sacred Tree of Life
and the whole earth will become one circle again.
In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry
knowledge and understanding of unity
among all living things,
and the young white ones will come to those of my people
and ask for this wisdom.
I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells.
For when you are at that center within you and
I am at that place within me,
we shall be one.”
Chief Crazy Horse spoke these words as he smoked the Sacred Chanupa (Pipe) for the last time with Chief Sitting Bull, four days before he crossed over to the Star Nation in 1877.
The media wasn't much interested in promoting Aboriginal Day although it is now government sanctioned as much as media wants to cooperate with celebrating power over the indigenous people of this part of the continent. I wonder....
Greetings to all,
On this day when we are to celebration the great and rich heritage and culture of the aboriginal peoples, we, the members of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Algonquin First Nations, have become victims of a hate crime.
I am deeply saddened by this - I have no words to describe the sorrow that my spirit and heart are carrying at this moment.
My heart is wounded, but my spirit is not broken, I appeal to you for help. As a community member, as a mother, as a grandmother, to you my brothers and sisters in culture and spirit, I am seeking your help - sometime during the night, my community, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has become the \victim of a hate crime, our Cultural Centre has been vandalized, with huge black paint swastika signs and with the wording "White Power" written completely around the entire building, furthermore, picnic tables and tents have been destroyed.
Just as our community was preparing for its aboriginal day celebration today, there is no celebration, our community is in tears, and I must say that this heinous crime also raises the issue of our safety and security of our people, our community. Please, I am asking you as brothers and sisters, to get this message out to media, to the public.
This crime must be reported to the public.
We need the media's attention on this devastating situation!
We need public attention and support.
If you have further questions, you may contact the Kitigan Zibi Cultural Centre directly at: 819-441-1655, and ask for Sylvia, Anita, Rene or Gilbert,or you may contact me at 613-728-5999.
I Thank You for your attention to this message and for any help you can provide.
Claudette D. Commanda
Kitigan Zibi Algonquin Anishinabeg
Anyone with any information regarding the individuals who have done this should contact the Kitigan Zibi Police department at (819) 449-6000.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Downtown Eastside Vancouver
National Aboriginal Solidarity Day 2007
Spirits Rising Memorial Society is honoured to announce the inaugural Love, Light and Healing Ceremony, which will be held at:
National Aboriginal Solidarity Day
June 21st, 2007
Main & Hastings Streets
Skiljaday Merle Williams, a Traditional Haida Healer, Teacher and Cranial-sacro Therapist who lives on Tsawwassen First Nation, was inspired to initiate the Love, Light and Healing Ceremony, in which Traditional Aboriginal Healers and Elders will join together to help to bring Love, Light and Healing to the area on the summer solstice. ‘Light Workers’ from all cultures, races, religions and creeds are welcome to participate in the spirit of unity.
The Love Light and Healing Ceremony is one of many innovative and empowering educational initiatives of the Society, which includes The Missing Women’s Memorial Totem Project, a sixteen-week educational course designed to empower women and youth from the Downtown Eastside through Traditional Aboriginal and Contemporary Education, with a strong focus on strengthening the inner core. Components of the curriculum include innovative classes ranging from Life Skills to Traditional Aboriginal Culture, History and Arts - carving, cedar weaving, beadwork and jewelry-making. Students of The Project will witness, learn and assist the Carvers, Siya7pl’tn Jordan Seward (Haida & Squamish) and Morgan Green (Tsimshian) on the Totem, which will be raised in September 2007 at
Spirits Rising Memorial Society was created to act as a catalyst for positive change, offering innovative educational and empowering initiatives that will have a real effect on the lives of Aboriginal Women, Youth, Families, and all people in our world.
Spirits Rising Memorial Society is kindly supported by Canadian Heritage (Aboriginal Women’s Program), Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women, BC Gaming Commission and the Aboriginal Division of BC Health.
For further information, interviews, images, etc., contact:
Michelle Morning Star Doherty
Spirits Rising Memorial Society
2019 Dundas Street (corner Wall Street)
Vancouver BC V5L 1J5
t: 604 254 1139 / c: 604 626 2559
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I am seeking individuals to participant in a study expanding on my doctoral research. The purpose of the study is to explore experiences of recovery from addiction. My dissertation research used a very small group of participants to explore the role of spirituality in recovery from addiction. This research is broader in the sense that it seeks to discover what factors play key roles in recovery and hopefully I can get a much larger group of participants.
My dissertation is available online at:
I am requesting your help in circulating this request as widely as possible. Please review the questionnaire and if you are interested please complete the questionnaire, which can be accessed at:
http://ca.geocities.com/marieco_research/questionnaire.pdf -- and/or pass it on to your networks.
Thank you for your interest,
Dr. Victoria Marie