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Politics, Re-Spun: What I Am Thankful For

This weekend, I am thankful for folks in Seattle who know how to transform the imperialist Columbus Day into Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

May we all learn this for next year!

“We are all citizens in a democracy, we are all here to work with each other, and by making this Indigenous People’s Day, we are adding something, we are not taking something away. We can both recognize our strengths.”

“We are not reveling in the pain of our past, but rejoicing in the celebration of a triumph—the voice of the indigenous people who are saying ‘we are still (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Honing In On Friday’s #WaveOfAction

We need to think about two things for this Friday’s Occupy Movement reboot in the Worldwide #WaveOfAction:

When thinking about pursuing social, political and economic equality, what is the list of things we need to change, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally? Who do we need to build coalitions with to listen to them, support them, empower them; and who will convene the meetings?

And instead of wondering who’s got your back, figure out whose back you need to protect.

There are two days left. No rush, because Friday is just the start of the 3-month Wave that culminates on (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Lazy ARE Indigenous People, Anyway?

It’s a trick question.

And let’s not forget how many of us are told we are inherently lazy because we are native. Hard to shake that.

via Twitter / apihtawikosisan: And let’s not forget how many ….

And if you want to read one person’s analysis of destructive, racist stereotypes, try this on, from Frank Assu, also known as Tlakwatsi, a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation of Quadra Island.

December 4, 2013 Are We Good Allies to First Nations? (0) July 25, 2013 Why We Must #HonourTheApology to Residential School Survivors [#INM] (1) December 17, 2013 (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Fried Squirrels

It’s a crisp, foggy November Saturday morning in the south side of the city. Seventeen people sit in the large open area at the back end of an organic fair trade coffee shop run by a workers’ co-op inspired by the Mondragon movement in Spain. Meet-ups like this are quite common in this shop.

The male and female co-facilitators move briskly through the agenda with the help of the nodding volunteer maintaining the speakers list. There are sporadic jazz-hand gestures, common from the Occupy Movement, as well as a strict yet comfortable group norm of only one person speaking at (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Are We Good Allies to First Nations?

This is what solidarity looks like; make sure it’s authentic!

Lots of us care about deepening relationships with and social/economic/political justice for first peoples. It’s hard to come in, though, sometimes as a person from an oppressor or settler class. But there is a good checklist to make sure we’re actually contributing effectively.

It’s hard to know how to live humility, sincerity and really really good listening to make sure we are not a hindrance, but this Ally Bill of Responsibilities does a good job of helping us be mindful of humility, and maintaining a sincere focus on assisting those (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Is Harper’s Canada a “Genocide”-Free Zone?

The CMHR: a “genocide”-free zone.

Genocide is a pretty serious word. It invokes the Holocaust, Pol Pot, Rwanda and some other high profile human eradication attempts.

But Canada, being Canada these days, is loathe to admit that it had any part in any kind of genocide. No. Not us. We’re so nice.

But the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will not be using the word when it comes to our historical “treatment” of the first peoples. Since the museum is part of the federal government’s propaganda wing, I can understand why it is avoiding the word. While a museum spokesperson (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Why We Must #HonourTheApology to Residential School Survivors [#INM]

I don’t know why we still have to do this kind of thing, but here goes. The federal government “apologized” to survivors of residential schools 5 years ago. It is clearly quite empty, considering how much neglect, abuse, victimization and racism has spewed forth from Stephen Harper’s government since then.

So. We actually need to insist that the grown ups who run our country, with less and less democracy every day, need to treat their apology with some sincerity. Honestly, it’s not like we’re talking to a 4 year old who is just learning why apologies happen.

So, here’s (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research And Human Biomedical Experimentation In Aboriginal Communities And Residential Schools, 1942–1952

The full-text of the paper that everyone is talking about can be found here.  The researchers do not come off as being quite as reprehensible as they seem in media reports.  For example, there appears to have been some effort to use their research to refute common stereotypes:

It is not unlikely that many characteristics, such as shiftlessness, indolence, improvidence and inertia, so long regarded as inherent or hereditary traits in the Indian race may, at the root, be really the manifestations of malnutrition. Furthermore, it is highly probable that their great susceptibility to many diseases, paramount amongst which is (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Canada Day +1, Our Quiet Genocide

A banner drop during last night’s Canada Day celebration in Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square. (Photo:

Canadians are so nice. We have such a happy, positive self-concept. This makes it quite hard to address the quiet genocide of first peoples that our nation has conducted for centuries.

What is genocide? The UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide includes this [I've bolded a few that stand out for me]:

…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Harper’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan Unexpectedly Resigns, Says He Lobbied A Tax Court Judge

by Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 15, 2013: Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigned from Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s cabinet Friday after admitting that he lobbied a tax court judge on behalf of an unnamed constituent. Duncan, the Conservative MP for Vancouver Island North, issued a statement in which he said he wrote “a character reference letter to READ MORE

350 or bust: Idle No More: A Response By People Who Feel Like Hostages In Their Own Country

If you’re looking for some more information on the IdleNoMore campaign, MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) gives a good summary in this video. He is discussing the NDP Opposition Day motion on dealing with First Nation economic development and treaty rights. The response from the CPC MP, Cheryl Gallant, who represents a more southerly Ontario [...]

The Canadian Progressive: Chief Theresa Spence Ends 43-Day Hunger Strike With Declaration “Towards Fundamental Change”

by Guest Blogger | The Canadian Progressive, Jan 25, 2013 Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence signed the First Nations declaration that ended her 43-day hunger strike at Ottawa’s Victoria Island . The 13-point declaration, entitled “First Nations: Working Towards Fundamental Change”, was signed jointly with First Nations leaders and Canada’s federal opposition parties. As The Canadian Progressive publisher, READ MORE

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Erika Shaker rightly tears into the special brand of FAIPOF demanding that First Nations protesters focus solely on their own community leaders rather than recognizing broader and more systematic inequality: Much is being made of Chief Spence’s Escalade (although I’m unsure if she actually owns one or if it’s urban legend) to try and mock the principled stand she has taken to call attention to the shameful conditions in which so many Indigenous peoples live. Because apparently if she had figured out how to stretch those shamefully inadequate federal transfers instead of engaging

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Art Threat: The People of the Kattawapiskak River: watch for free until January 18

With Attawapiskat and its band chief, Theresa Spence, remaining in the headlines, the NFB has made Alanis Obamsawin’s new documentary on life in the First Nation community available for free.

The People of the Kattawapiskak River can be streamed online at until Friday, January 18. Or just click the play button above and watch it right here.


Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary The People of the Kattawapiskak River exposes the housing crisis faced by 1,700 Cree in Northern Ontario, a situation that led Attawapiskat’s band chief, Theresa Spence, to ask the Canadian Red Cross for help. With (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Daniel Wilson takes a look at how far too many in the media went along with the Harper Cons’ hatchet job against First Nations: (C)ompare the generalized outrage last week to the shrug elicited by the non-indigenous mayors around the country who have resigned after corruption allegations, are currently being investigated for fraud or sued for conflict of interest. 

By the standard applied to First Nations, the situations in Montreal, Laval, Mascouche, London, Toronto, Mississauga and Winnipeg are proof that all non-indigenous governments are corrupt and mismanaged and should have their funding

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

The Canadian Progressive: Chief Spence decries Harper’s “paternalistic relationship” with Aboriginals

For Immediate Release: January 11, 2013, Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples: Chief Theresa Spence is standing firm on her request that both Prime Minster and Governor General of Canada need to be present and participate at the meeting with First Nation leaders. This statement comes on the heels of the Governor General READ MORE

Politics, Re-Spun: Attawapiskat Audit is Merely a Distraction

Green Party leader Elizabeth May published a well-thought out and clear article on Wednesday, breaking down the reasons why the ongoing media banter about Attiwapiskat fund mismanagement and Chief Theresa Spence are merely distractions from an ongoing legacy of government failure to protect indigenous people and the environment. Twitter and Facebook have become virtual battlegrounds for both government supporters and those who are involved with the Idle No More uprising. Racism, sexism and classism are rampant, and tension arising from finger pointing and blame displacement are escalating. The crux of it all is that the Canadian government, and the majority

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Attawapiskat Audit is Merely a Distraction

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Daniel Wilson discusses how Stephen Harper’s antipathy toward First Nations is making a failure of his time in office: On the global stage, he stood almost alone in opposition to 144 other countries in voting against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Domestically, he has tabled bills that diminish First Nations jurisdiction to that of administrative agencies of the federal government.  His party has consistently claimed that First Nation governments are corrupt or mismanaged.  He killed the Kelowna Accord. His steadfast refusal to fund First Nation child

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Some Numbers

Government spending per capita, Toronto: $24,000.Government spending per capita,  Attawapiskat: 11,355.

That is all.

BigCityLib Strikes Back: More On Attawapiskat Finances And Chief Spence’s Diet

From an APTN interview with Clayton Kennedy, the band’s former co-manager.  Looks like yesterday’s outrage was a tad overblown.  A couple of interesting facts re some of the “controversy” around the band’s financial arrangements.

Firstly, as most people seem to have figure out by now, most of the inadequate documentation of expenses took place before Theresa Spence became chief.  In fact, I would say it occured after the time Mr. Kennedy first worked for the band (2001-2004) and before the time he returned to it (2010).

About Mr. Kennedy’s salary:

Kennedy said the band was previously co-managed by BDO Canada from November

. . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: More On Attawapiskat Finances And Chief Spence’s Diet

Politics, Re-Spun: How Us Settlers Can Be In Solidarity With #IdleNoMore

Twitter / suzhawkins: As settlers… #idlenomore ….

York University’s Suzanne Hawkins is my hero today for showing us all this amazing poster that succinctly describes how us non-indigenous settler folk can stand alongside with the world’s indigenous people seeking redress for generations of racism and discrimination.

Solidarity matters! Dialogue matters!

Let’s make 2013 a year of reconciliation!

The Canadian Progressive: Netherlands Quakers & Mennonites Support Chief Spence and #IdleNoMore (PHOTO)

Netherlands Quakers & Mennonites sent their message of support and solidarity to hunger striker Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence and the phenomenal #IdleNoMore grassroots movement for Aboriginal rights and sovereignty: Photo via Facebook RELATED: Chief Spence says Harper government has encouraged “segregation” PETITION: British Crown Must Honour Canada-First Nations Treaties, Revoke Bill C-45, And Fire Harper & GG READ MORE

The Canadian Progressive: Again, hunger-striking Chief Spence calls on PM Harper, Governor General to meet

For immediate release: January 4, 2013, Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples: As Chief Theresa Spence enters into her twenty fifth day of her hunger strike, her message is becoming more crucial. “We are calling on the Prime Minister and the Governor General to meet with us. This is a crisis and we READ MORE

The Canadian Progressive: Canada’s Indigenous #IdleNoMore Movement Gains Momentum (VIDEO)

First Nations groups denied their constitutionally-protected rights, targeted by the Harper Conservative government In Canada, #IdleNoMore, an indigenous rights movement that started as a small social media campaign, is gaining momentum. The movement is spearheaded by Chief Theresa Spence, the leader of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who is now on Day 23 of a hunger strike on READ MORE

The Canadian Progressive: Theresa Spence Hunger Strike: Social Media Conversation on Day 19

It’s the end of Day 19 of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s indefinite hunger strike, taking place here in Ottawa. Spence started her peaceful protest on December 11, 2012. She’s demanding a meeting involving Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a representative of the Queen and First Nations leaders. She wants to discuss treaty agreements between Canada and First Nations, and READ MORE