People are unnerved. The Government has put forth a Bill to effectively destroy the economic base of our communities. That Bill is C-10. A meeting was held at Polytech Institute on Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 where people were informed as to the dangers of Bill C-10.
People are unnerved. The Government has put forth a Bill to effectively destroy the economic base of our communities. That Bill is C-10. A meeting was held at Polytech Institute on Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 where people were informed as to the dangers of Bill C-10. The possible outcome of the application of Bill C-10 could cripple our communities and send us back into being welfare states.
Coupled with the awareness raised in relation to Bill C-10 came the questions, what’s next, what are we supposed to do now? People left the meeting with feelings of shock and outrage and in some instances a renewed sense of vigour to combat the impositions of a colonial state. Through all of this turmoil came an answer, you had to listen carefully, but an answer was given.
The meeting held at Polytech was an effort to bring awareness to the general public, Native and Non Native alike. Bill C-10 is based upon destabilizing the economy and strength of the Native communities as it is entirely directed only at Onhkwehonh:we people.
This in and of itself is pure racism. Part of the harmful measures the government wishes to impose is the incarceration of our people in prisons. One of the results of imprisoning our people is the further fracturing of our family units, weakening us even more.
Another purpose of the meeting was to connect our people. We have to be able to speak together and come to solutions as a people, not as separate communities or entities.
Over 300 people attended the meeting on Saturday, including many manufacturers, retailers, Chiefs and concerned people. A broad spectrum of people with a diverse range of interests expressed worry about Bill C-10. The panel on Saturday provided a variety of opinions on the actual legislation and possible outcomes. And a galvanizing voice for the people. That galvanizing voice was Shawn Brant. The ability of the government to maintain an aura of secrecy about Bill C-10 is impressive in its own way.
The majority of people that we spoke with were totally unaware of the Bill or the seriousness of it’s possible applications. The idea that we could be imprisoned and further criminalized for the use or possession of tobacco is absolutely obscene. Audrey Hill-Squire spoke at length on the perils of Bill C-10 and the efforts she herself has been making to bring awareness to the Native public through the Turtle Island Trade and Commerce group.
Perspective was also given by Mike Leitold, a criminal lawyer from Toronto. Mr. Leitold was quite clear on the efforts of the government to legislate prison sentences as penalty for being in possession of “contraband” tobacco. The effectiveness of the panel was evidenced by the notice people started to take when it became apparent the seriousness of the current situation.
The amendments made to the Criminal Code, the activation of every level of police jurisdiction in order to arrest and seize the “proceeds” of “crime”, were all very sobering points.
Stephen Ford, a lawyer from Tyendinaga, spoke on the need to make our own laws and regulate the tobacco industry ourselves. The response given to this statement was made by Joseph Deom, retired civil engineer and dedicated longhouse supporter from Kahnawake. Mr. Deom agreed that we do need to exercise our sovereignty and implement regulations and guidelines for the tobacco industry. But not through the Band Council System.
During the Question and Answer period, Six Nations resident Jesse Porter took the mic. Mr. Porter implored that we talk to our families, meet in our clans, and go to Confederacy on Saturday. Let the Clan Mothers and Chiefs know we are disturbed and anxious, for they are the real authority on this territory. Jesse put the answer out there. We hope everyone was listening because this is the truth and this is what needs to happen.1 comment