Onkwehonwe Week in Review: Week of December 16

Enbridge’s Line 9B manually shut down by activists

Despite ongoing conflict about the constitutional legalities of running a pipeline carrying crude oil through indigenous territories, Line 9B started delivering it’s product on December 3, 2015.

Chippewas of the Thames have engaged in an appeal process of the National Energy Board’s decision. The NEB’s decision was ultimately upheld, but the Union of Ontario Indians, alongside Chippewa of the Thames are planning to bring the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Line 9B has had its fair share of opposition and is quite controversial because of the implications of increased pressure placed on a 40+ year old pipeline.  Opponents of Line 9B continue to refer to the dangers to water sources in case of a spill, as well as the fact that Free, Prior and Informed Consent has not been negotiated with impacted First Nations along the route, including Six Nations, Aamjiwnaang, Chippewa of the Thames and Kanesatake.

In solidarity with Indigenous nations impacted by the tarsands and tarsands infrastructure, 3 activists manually shut the pipeline down on December 11, 2015.  Walter David, from Kanesatake, came out to support the activists, pointing out that it is, “insanity upon insanity” to allow Line 9B to run freely underneath the rivers and waterways that surround us.  The activists are supported widely by various citizens groups, including the former mayor of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, Patricia Domingos.  The activists were arrested without major incident and removed from their locked-down positions on the valve by a specialized team of the Quebec Police force.


Quebec Chiefs demand indigenous investigators join Val D’or abuse investigation

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), alongside Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon, have drafted a letter to Quebec premier Philip Couillard asking that indigenous investigators work side by side with the SQ in an effort to keep accountability with a police force that is investigating itself.

“At the very least, they can have two of our indigenous officers working with the Montreal police, who we do not trust to properly investigate the SQ,” said Simon.

Eight members of Val D’or’s SQ are facing 14 allegations of physical and sexual abuse against 12 different indigenous women in the region.  The officers have been placed on leave and are not patrolling the community.  Investigations are currently under the observation of a human rights lawyer.


Idle No More builds tiny houses to raise awareness of a big problem

After witnessing the dire straits living conditions on Bad River First Nation, Nina Wilson, one of the founders of the Idle No More movement decided to help solve that problem.  Bad River First Nation is 120 kilometres North West of Prince Albert, British Columbia.   Alex Wilson started an online fundraising campaign called One House, Many Nations to raise awareness of the housing crisis on many different First Nations.  The funds were raised to build a “tiny house” for a man currently living in a place dug out of the ground and supported by pieces of wood and stone on Bad River FN.

The home will be built by Winnipeg company Mini Homes, who have donated their labor to finish the project.  The home will be sustainable, off the power grid featuring a compost toilet, wood heating and solar power.  “It’s a beautiful, cozy little home,” says Anita Munn, co-owner of Mini Homes.  Wilson realizes that this is not the solution to the housing crisis but says that, “the hope is that other groups and communities will look at this project as an example of what can be done.”  A separate fundraising campaign has been started to secure funds to deliver the home which will take approximately 10 days.


Large herd of bison reclaiming territory in Saskatchewan

On Friday, it was reported that over 100 bison had crossed Highway 35, about 30 kilometres south of Tisdale, Saskatchewan.  The RCMP issued a warning to motorists about the “herd of buffalo” and encouraged the general public not to chase or scare them.  A plan is currently underway to corral the animals that once ran freely in the territory.

Last year, community members from Peepeekiss Cree Nation in Saskatchewan had bison donated from an Alberta rancher.  To the people of Peepeekiss First Nation, and other indigenous nations, bison aren’t just livestock, “they’re sacred reminders of the past and promise of a better future,” according to Allan Bird, spokesperson for the community.  Bird goes on to say how buffalo herds are reminders of the “modern day buffalo” – education.  Not only that, but the re-emergence of the bison on the Canadian landscape has provided reminders to our nations of who we once were.

“Some of our members go out there and sit with them and watch them and sing some of our old songs, our ceremonial songs, to them.”  It is not believed that the Peepeekiss herd and the herd running free are related in anyway.  Peepeekiss First Nation is located about 100 kilometres north east of Regina.  The RCMP says that they don’t know where the bison “originated from.”


Adam Sandler’s controversial “satire” released on Netflix, subsequently buried.

Netflix released Adam Sandler’s, “The Ridiculous 6” on December 11, 2015.  The film came under fire after several indigenous background actors walked off the set.  Actors cited the re-inforcement of negative stereotypes and racist depictions of indigenous peoples as the reason.  Allie Young, one of the actors noted how indigenous people, especially the women, were made to be the “butt of the jokes.”  The portrayal of Apache culture, which was featured in the film, was inaccurate.  Because of the continued dehumanization, the film’s cultural adviser refused to continue working.  He pointed out how the Apache are a matriarchal nation and treat their women with respect, which is something clearly missing from this film.

Sandler points out that everyone is made fun of in the film and repeatedly labels the film as “satire.”  Netflix backed this argument up saying that, “this movie title has “ridiculous” in it for a reason.”

However, Danis Goulet, an indigenous film maker point outs that good satire undermines stereotypes in an intelligent and witty way.  Goulet goes on to identify how Hollywood has perpetuated negative stereotypes of indigenous peoples for 100+ years, especially the Western which upholds the Manifest Destiny that says indigenous peoples are only there to be killed or conquered.  The film has since been deemed “unwatchable” by film critics and isn’t being promoted by Netflix.

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