The world’s largest food company, Nestlé – which was listed in 2011 by the Fortune Global 500 as the top-ranking company in the world by profits – is literally pumping out wealth from Onkwenhon:we ancestral lands.
The Sto:lo nation community of Chawathil First Nation is laying claim to the 265 million litres of water that Nestlé is pumping out of a well in their territory near Hope, B.C. in the Fraser Valle.
The Fraser River Valley is the ancestral territory to the Sto:lo nation, “the people of the river.”
As of 2013, Nestlé’s total ‘market capitalization’ – the value of all shares held publicly – sat at $233 billion.
The Coast Salish people of the Halalt First Nation on southeastern Vancouver Island are also in a legal battle for water rights, after a B.C. Court of Appeal granted the District of North Cowichan access to the groundwater under their reserve.
The Halalt has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to clarify who owns the groundwater reserves and whether the Crown should consider aboriginal title in its consultation process.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment has said they plan to introduce groundwater regulation in the 2014 legislature sitting. Currently, groundwater in B.C. remains regulated in accordance with the 1909 Water Act which arose from earlier processes of colonization in the lands that came to be known as British Columbia.
The Ontario government, by comparison, charges Nestlé a one-time $3000 licensing fee after which they pay a nominal $3.71 per 1,000,000 litres extracted.
Nestlé is allowed to extract up to 3.6 million litres of water a day, for which it would pay $14 dollars.
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Sign First Modern Treaty in the Prairies
Last week, the government of Canada, Manitoba and the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation signed the first-ever self-government agreement (also known as a ‘modern treaty’ or comprehensive land claim agreements) in the Prairies. Signed on August 30, when it comes into effect the agreement will be the 20th comprehensive self-government agreement signed by the Canadian government with ‘Aboriginal’ governments.
Media coverage has hailed the agreement for removing the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation from portions of the Indian Act by providing them with greater control over decisions related to economic development, land management, education, housing and water, among other important issues, and by providing necessary mechanisms for good governance.
However, critics of self-government agreements point out that modern treaties do not recognize the self-determination of Onkwehon:we peoples. As the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) policy consultant and the Editor of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin Russell Diabo has analyzed extensively in his journal, “self-government agreements are acceptance of Crown delegated jurisdiction and authority NOT recognition of pre-existing First Nations sovereignty.”
As Diabo notes: “If one looks at the final self-government and land claims agreement legislation over the last few decades, the evidence shows the trend of concessions those compromised First Nations have made to achieve the few benefits and little delegated authority they have obtained by defining their section 35 rights within the restrictive policy frameworks, along with the coercive fiscal arrangements of the Crown governments. Thus, these First Nations are contributing to the Crown objective of emptying out section 35 of any significant legal or political meaning.”
Federal court rejects Hupacasath First Nation challenge to Canada-China Trade Pact
A federal judge dismissed an application from the Hupacasath First Nation to stop the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Last week, the federal judge found that Hupacasath did not prove that FIPA will have adverse impacts on their aboriginal or self-government rights.
Signed about a year ago, the deal has provisions similar to 24 other foreign investment pacts Canada has signed since 1989, including North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico, which protects trade and investment rights for foreign corporate entities and governments, which includes the right to sue Canadian governments when those rights are abrogated.
The Canadian government has already paid out $160 million to U.S. companies under North American Free Trade Agreement, and according to Canadian economic nationalists that have supported the Hupacasath challenge to FIPA, “We are on the hook for another $5-billion in claims [to foreign companies].”
Although foreign corporations seem to be neither a lesser nor greater a threat to Onkwehon:we interests than Canadian based firms, the Nuu-chah-nulth community on Vancouver Island was arguing that the federal government failed to consult the First Nation in this trade pact and that this deal could affect their rights and title.
The Hupacasath were seeking a declaration from the court that the federal government is required to consult with them before signing the agreement.
Over $160,000 was by spent by the Hupacasath First Nation to mount a legal challenge to FIPA in the courts.
1st Annual Native Hip-Hop Festival Launches in Vancouver
From August 30 to September 1, Onkwehon:we rappers, producers, DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, beatboxers, graphic designers, and other artists from across Turtle Island converged upon unceded Salish territories in Vancouver for the first annual Native Hip-Hop Festival.
Integrating elements of the ‘hip-hop nation’ with Onkwehon:we culture and nationhood, the festival’s Facebook page read that “The one essential element of hip hop is the drum beat[s]. Since time immemorial the Indigenous peoples of the Occupied Americas have been keeping entertained with song, dance and performance.”
The festival opened on Friday, August 30 with a Salish opening at the Musqueum Cultural Center, followed by the festival’s opening show at the Brandiz Pub in the Downtown Eastside with an all-female line-up headlined by Crystle Lightning of Los Angeles-based LightningCloud, who was recently named Best New Artist at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards.
The festival showcased other aspects of hip-hop culture with a graffiti battle and a freestyle tournament on Sunday, September 1.
While Onkwehon:we hip-hop has only recently gained mainstream attention with the rise of spectacular success of A Tribe Called Red, many of the festival’s artists have been producing for years to create the native hip-hop scene.
When asked about why it has taken this long for native hip-hop to produce a festival like this, Two Row Times founder and Six Nations producer Jonathan Garlow, stated that “everything else aside, it is a very tough audience. Not only are native populations much more sparse than those of the dominant society, musical tastes are diverse and the total number of hip hop heads amongst indigenous people has been very low. The problem becomes compounded when you see these native fans following mainstream acts from the USA such as Jay-Z, or Lil’ Wayne instead of local artists from their own territory who are often undervalued and overlooked. Things are just now starting to change.”
by Steve da Silva