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Thread: All matters Canadian / Canada

  1. #121
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default Canadian First Nations Mobilize

    I recall a thread or perhaps an article in the blog about insurgency forming in Canada, which was grossly overstated, but the unrest over indigenous rights enabled by social media does have a familiar ring to it.

    "Canada's Idle No More movement began as a small social media campaign - armed with little more than a hashtag and a cause.

    But it has grown into a large indigenous movement, with protests and ceremonial gatherings held almost daily in many of the country's major cities..."

    "Spence and other First Nations groups are demanding better living conditions for Canada's aboriginals, and they are angry at the country's government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which they accuse of trying to erode their land and sovereignty rights..."

    While it seems that Idle No More has settled into a quiet simmer, there is no doubt that it continues to be a force across the country, and beyond Canadian borders.

    In December, Foreign Policy magazine included the four founders of the movement in its prestigious list, Top 100 Global Thinkers. And recently, flashmob round dances took place across Canada, sending out the message that Idle No More will continue to be a presence in 2014.

  2. #122
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default Idle No More Website

    is here; their Manifesto:

    The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between First Nations and the British Crown who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.

    The state of Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

    Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.

    There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.

    Please join us in creating this vision.
    Not too many flames here - e.g., the strategy and tactics are vanilla Gene Sharp.

    The basic political argument is "Indigenous Sovereignty", with a realization that that concept will not be easily accepted by the "Settler States":

    Recognition, Exercise or Termination

    It is well settled and clear that Settler States such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand would never voluntarily recognise Indigenous Sovereignty. Nevertheless, it is the recognition of sovereignty that permits for its undisputed exercise. How then is Indigenous sovereignty to gain recognition? Sovereign recognition embraces the notion of Nation to Nation relationship, one sovereign entity's interaction with another sovereign entity. This is most commonly seen through Treaty making and alliances of mutual benefit. The historic treaties Indigenous Nations have made with European nations bear witness to the nation - to - nation relationship. In a modern context of sovereign recognition, Indigenous Nations ought to continue to make treaties and alliances with other sovereign nations. This can be easily accomplished. For example, the Mohawk Nation could negotiate and enter Treaty of commerce and trade with the Mi'kmaq Nation or the Ojibway Nation entering alliances with the Cree Nation on environmental protection. The possibilities are endless and could and should include Indigenous Nations worldwide. The issue of Sovereign Recognition can be easily solved. ... (more fore and aft of this snip)


  3. #123
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default "Obedient" Advocacy, Civil Disobedience and Terrorism

    To expand a bit on INM, and esp. the Elsipogtog highway block:

    The RCMP said at least one shot was fired by someone other than police and that Molotov cocktails had been thrown at police, while at least five RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire. Police also investigated suspected explosive devices at the scene.
    one must look to "obedient" advocacy, civil disobedience and terrorism. The best discussion of those three areas (which can be made to overlap), in relation to "First Nation" communities in the US and Canada, I found in Robert Odawi Porter (Syracuse Law), Tribal Disobedience (2005 draft).

    "Obedient" Advocacy

    Porter shows us four sectors of "obedient" advocacy: diplomacy, litigation, lobbying, and participating in the American political system (pp. 3-8; and pp. 20-24); all subject to Porter's general caveat:

    Generally. The primary limitation associated with the various advocacy strategies outlined above is that Indians are unnecessarily restrained in their advocacy efforts. Primarily, this is due to the fact that the American definition of Indigenous nation sovereignty is much more limited than the Indian definition of sovereignty. It is a truism that the United States will never subscribe to any definition of Indigenous sovereignty that might threaten American interests, however those interests may be defined. ...

    Thus, litigation, lobbying, voting and holding office are advocacy strategies that are ultimately successful only to the extent that the United States allows them to be successful. Thus, if Indians, say, want to take a litigation position at odds with federal law ... such a position will ultimately be quashed because it presents too great a threat to American interests. To be sure, the denial of such authority will occur judicially on the innocuous grounds that it is outside of the Indian nation’s jurisdiction. But the ultimate outcome is that the rules governing the litigating of Indigenous rights will turn on an American, and not Indigenous, view of sovereignty.

    To the extent that Indigenous peoples accept this formulation of their sovereign capacity – and become completely “obedient” to the American conception of their authority – there is thus created a very real limitation on the scope of their inherent authority. This psychological acceptance invariably leads to the adoption of equally obedient advocacy strategies such as those described above. While it might very well be the case that the degree of acculturation thus far has resulted in a complete harmonization of the American and Indigenous views of sovereignty – so that any distinction between the two is merely academic – it might still be true that Indigenous nations and peoples seek to pursue self-determination in a manner different from what the United States “allows”. Litigation, lobbying, voting, and holding office will ultimately fail to allow Indians to fully maximize their opportunity for self-determination because engaging in these activities promotes obedience to the colonial power.
    All that being said, recourse to legal remedies ("obedient" advocacy) and their reasonable exhaustion is the first step in my recommended playbook - you might just win (albeit on limited grounds); and that tree, after it grows a while, may bear larger fruit. If that is not in the cards dealt, then the next step is civil disobedience.

    Civil Disobedience

    Porter treats "tribal disobedience" as a specialized subset of civil disobedience (pp. 8-9):

    A more refined definition of tribal disobedience can be derived from the foundational elements of what constitutes civil disobedience. Civil disobedience has been described as –

    an act of protest, deliberately unlawful, conscientiously and publicly performed. It may have as its object the laws or policies of some governmental body, or those of some private corporate body whose decisions have serious public consequences; but in either case the disobedient protest is almost invariably nonviolent in character.
    From this definition, the contours of what constitutes an act of civil disobedience emerge. Such an act must be (i) nonviolent, (ii) open and visible, (iii) illegal, and (iv) performed for a moral purpose to protest an unjust law or to object to the status quo and with the expectation of punishment. As a result, certain acts fall below the threshold of what is necessary to constitute civil disobedience. “Mere dissent, protest, or disobedience of the law are not enough to qualify as civil disobedience." On the other hand, purely violent acts transcend the concept of civil disobedience and fall into the realm of criminal activity.

    Tribal disobedience is related to civil disobedience in that it is action designed to protest the application of unjust laws. But it differs by virtue of the more narrow application to actions taken by and for the benefit of Indigenous people. Moreover, the nature of the “unjust” laws at issue with respect to tribal disobedience relates specifically to the infringement by the colonizing government on the inherent and treaty-protected rights of sovereignty and self-determination. The acts themselves are public and illegal, and generally, but not always, non-violent.
    Porter cites numerous examples (pp. 9-20), with a substantive discussion of the efficacy and risks involved in that strategy (pp. 24-30). IMO: if you're not willing to or can't spend the time (jail or prison), don't commit the crime of "civil disobedience".


    Finally, the risk of employing civil disobedience by even non-kinetic (generally "non-violent") dissidents whatever the cause has been increased by anti-terrorism acts. Here (pp. 30-31), Porter presents an argument that could be used by a US Attorney under the Patriot Act:

    Under the Act, acts of tribal disobedience could easily be interpreted as acts of terrorism. The Act defines “domestic terrorism” to include activities that –

    (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

    (B) appear to be intended –

    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

    (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

    (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

    (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
    From this basic definition, it is easy to see how particular acts of tribal disobedience could be misconstrued as acts of terrorism.

    Consider, for example, that sometime in the future Indians decide to block the interstate highway running through their territory to protest efforts by the state to restrict their gaming rights. No weapons are utilized in doing so, but heavy equipment is brought in to move concrete barriers onto the highways and hundreds of Indians mass on those highways. The objective, of course, is to precipitate inconvenience for motorists and a degree of economic disruption so as to put political pressure on the American political officials in a position to take corrective action to induce them to refrain from taking harmful action against the Indians. Assuming that motorists are given some notice that the barriers are in place, blocking interstate highways is not inherently an “act[] dangerous to human life.” Moreover, such an act is not committed with the intent requisite to constitute acts of terrorism because as they are not committed with an intent to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population” nor are they committed with the intent to “affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

    But it does not take much to see how engaging in such an act of tribal disobedience could be construed as an act of “domestic terrorism.”

    The first prong of the USA PATRIOT Act definition could be satisfied because law enforcement officials could charge those involved with blocking the highways with criminal trespass or obstruction of governmental administration. Given the very real possibility that individual Indians and non-Indians could be injured in the course taking such action, the tribal disobedience could be construed as manslaughter and thus an act “dangerous to human life that [is] a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State.”

    The second prong of the definition is more easily satisfied. Clearly, blocking interstate highways is designed to pressure American political officials to cease and desist from engaging in their harmful action towards Indigenous peoples. Such action can easily be interpreted as designed “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” This is even more so in light of the fact that the USA PATRIOT Act does not require that acts of domestic terrorism be committed with the intent to intimidate or coerce. Such acts need only “appear to be intended” to intimidate or coerce.

    And lastly, while the Indians may deny that their territory is located within the United States, prosecuting officials will surely view the highway running through the Indian territory as located within the United States. Thus, blocking the highways will have “occur[red] primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
    So, there you have the strategies in a nutshell.



  4. #124
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005


    Posted by jmm99

    The basic political argument is "Indigenous Sovereignty", with a realization that that concept will not be easily accepted by the "Settler States":
    Funny, or maybe not, I was thinking about how all the Anglophone countries minus Britain (U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) enabled by Britain displaced the original natives and then became relatively wealthy exploiting their land. Not intended as a liberal commentary, that is the nature of man throughout history. The point is social media seems to be empowering the First Nations in Canada in new ways, and there is every reason to expect this movement to spread to the other Anglophone countries in time.

    Of course there are a lot of adversaries of the U.S., etc. that can take advantage of this and provide various forms of support to keep the flames of discontent burning. O.K. maybe not, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  5. #125
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default Colonialized Nations - "Settler Nations"


    Your point - "... displaced the original natives and then became relatively wealthy exploiting their land..." - is a valid historical fact for the American countries (to include Iberian colonized), as well as for Australia and New Zealand.

    All these states, which I'd call colonialized nations, have primary cultures derived from, but different to a greater or lesser extent than the cultures of the original colonizing "parent states". All have at least the form of constitutional democracies.

    Other colonializing efforts in Africa and Eurasia failed to take; primarily because not enough indigenous people were displaced and minority settler rule soon evaporated after WWII.

    I'd be surprised to see a "lot of adversaries of the U.S., etc." that will be able to "take advantage" of the mainstream "First Nations" movements. We'll have to disagree on that.



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