Archive for the ‘First Nations’ Tag

Tsilhqot’in Decision: Time to Grow up, Canada

In June, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision that will have immediate and far-reaching implications for the relationship of First Nations peoples and settlers in the land called Canada.

Like Rafe Mair, I grew up, and was educated in an anthropocentric worldview. Part of that worldview was our relationship with “the Indians”, who I now recognize as First Nations peoples. It has been quite a journey for me, as it has for Rafe Mair, whose reflection on this journey begins as follows:


Schoolbook depiction of Iroquois society: growing up in Kamloops, a white child learned about some eastern First Nations but virtually nothing about those in B.C.

The Tsilhqot’in (Roger William*) case is a game changer.

There is aboriginal title and it does not depend, as our title to our houses does, upon the Crown but is totally independent of Crown interests. Moreover — and this is perhaps of more immediate concern — no longer are developers just required to consult with First Nations in proposing development, they must get consent.

There will be, of course, more cases but they’ll be by way of explanatory rather than breaking the new ground. No doubt other First Nations will want to define their rights and there may be actions by developers with respect to their proposals. At the same time, because of William, one can expect governments to be much more in the mood to settle, especially since First Nations seem incapable of losing in the Supreme Court of Canada!

The full story is at:





Neil Young keeps on rockin’

Neil Young is a prophetic voice speaking truth to power when it comes to the Athabasca Tar Sands.

Neil Young

After leading national newscasts on Sunday night, Canadian rock icon Neil Young was back at it on Monday, poking holes in the Conservative government’s talking points on the tar sands.

Just before the first of four concerts to benefit the Athabasca Chipewayan First Nation in Northern Alberta, Young kicked off the war of words with a scathing critique of the Harper government and the unfettered development of the tar sands.

The “Honor the Treaties” benefit concerts are raising money for their legal defence fund to fight the expansion of the tar sands on their traditional land. One of them, Shell’s Jackpine, got the go-ahead last month, despite Ottawa’s finding that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The Prime Minister’s Office hit back against Young late Sunday, claiming that only projects “deemed safe for Canadians and the environment” get the go-ahead.

The PM’s spokesman Jason MacDonald, who probably figured this admission would never come back to haunt him, added: “Canada’s natural resources sector is and has always been a fundamental part of our country’s economy.”

Oh, and rock stars need oil to fly around in their fancy jets. The “lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day,” MacDonald said.

On Monday, Young decided against letting the PMO’s talking points stand.

“Our issue is not whether the natural resource sector is a fundamental part of the country,” Young said in a statement. “Our issue is with the government breaking treaties with the First Nation and plundering the natural resources the First Nation has rights to under the treaties.”

Oh, and “rock stars don’t need oil,” said Young, who pointed out that he drove his electric car from California to the tar sands, and on to Washington, “without using any oil at all.

“My car’s generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the post-fossil fuel age.”

And when it comes to “the thousands of hard-working Canadians,” Young explained that “we have respect for all working people. The quandary we face is the job they are working on. They are digging a hole that our grandchildren will have great trouble digging their way out of….”

The above commentary originally appeared in