Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

April 4, 2013, Winnipeg: Opponents of the Reed Lake Mine in northern Manitoba confront HudBay Mineral's officials. Photo: Paul S. Graham

April 4, 2013, Winnipeg: Opponents of the Reed Lake Mine in northern Manitoba confront HudBay Mineral’s officials. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Opponents of Hudbay Mineral’s planned copper mine at Reed Lake, Manitoba held a peaceful demonstration at an information meeting held by the company at a Holiday Inn in Winnipeg. The demonstrators, many of whom are active in the Idle No More movement, confronted HudBay officials for about 15 minutes to voice their opposition and to demand a halt to the project.

Reed Lake is in the Grass River Provincial Park, about 110 kilometres east of Flin Flon. The mining project is a joint venture of HudBay Minerals and VMS Ventures, Inc.

The fact this mining operation is under construction in a provincial park has outraged environmentalists and First Nations communities alike.

April 4, 2013, Winnipeg: At a news conference announcing opposition to HudBay's Reed Lake Mine - (l-r) Grand Chief David Harper, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Chief Arlen Dumas, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Eric Reder, Wilderness Committee. Photo: Paul S. Graham

April 4, 2013, Winnipeg: At a news conference announcing opposition to HudBay’s Reed Lake Mine – (l-r) Grand Chief David Harper, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Chief Arlen Dumas, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Eric Reder, Wilderness Committee. Photo: Paul S. Graham

At a news conference held earlier that evening, representatives of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Wilderness Committee pledged to oppose the mine because it is being built within the traditional territory of the MCCN without their permission.

Here are my video reports.


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Jo Seenie Redsky: "we’re your last resort." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Jo Seenie Redsky: “We’re your last resort.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

If your only source of information is the mainstream news media you can be forgiven for wondering what the Idle No More movement is all about. Since it burst on the scene late last year, media attention has darted from demonstrations to blockades to the fasts of elders and chiefs — with an occasional sustained flurry of excitement when the PMO tried to smear Chief Theresa Spence.

Discussions of the abrogation of historic treaty rights or the corporate pillaging Stephen Harper has buried, like poisonous turds, in his omnibus budget bills, do not lend themselves to the tidy sound bites that nourish the media and feed the news cycle.

Having spent last Sunday afternoon at a panel discussion sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg and Project Peacemakers, I can assure you that Idle No More is about nearly everything that is wrong with our society, but fundamentally it is about love. Love of family, friends, complete strangers, future generations, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth we walk on.

Feb. 24, 2013: Jerry Daniels speaking about Idle No More in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Jerry Daniels: ” The issue is sustainable development.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More is inclusive and green. As panelist Jerry Daniels puts it, “A sustainable future is important to not only aboriginal people, it is important to all of us . . . the issue is sustainable development – sustainable futures for our children.” For Leah Gazan, “it’s not just about indigenous people of Canada any more, it’s about all of us. It’s about all of us sharing this land in a really good way.”

Idle No More is about redressing the damage we have done to ourselves and the environment, and preventing more of the same. Chickadee Richard sums it up in as tidy a sound bite as you could find anywhere: “As you heal, you heal Mother Earth.”

Chickadee Richard, Feb. 24, 2013

Chickadee Richard: “As you heal, you heal Mother Earth.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Michael Champagne: "An injustice to one is an injustice to all." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Michael Champagne: “An injustice to one is an injustice to all.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More is about aboriginal youth, says Michael Champagne, but about aboriginal youth unlike those of previous generations: “not only are we educated in Western institutions . . . , we are also educated by the Chickadees of the world, by our elders and our ancestors and our community and we are able to learn about the strength and resilience of our ancestors and our nations.”

Idle No More is about human solidarity. Champagne continues: “We’re able to hear those teachings within the medicine wheel and understand that we are all related regardless of the colour of our skin, and like a circle, it is not complete if one of you is missing . . . if you’re hurting, I’m hurting . . . and if I’m hurting, so are you . . . An injustice to one is an injustice to all.” Champagne was consistent; he included Stephen Harper in the company of those damaged by the system Idle No More seeks to overturn.

Lori Mainville: "no fear, no surrender, only love." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Lori Mainville: “no fear, no surrender, only love.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More cannot be contained or controlled says Lori Mainville. “The media poses a skewed version – always trying commodify or standardize or put it in a dichotomy and this is a people’s movement. The definition rests with the people and our relationship with the people, our allies, our brothers and sisters in each moment as this energy reveals itself. There’s no way you can cap [it].”

Idle No More is an obligation for those who love Mother Earth. “I guess you could say in . . . protecting the land, the waters, we’re your last resort,” says Jo Seenie Redsky. “I know the world is watching our people here, in the country of Canada, to see us rise up and protect what everybody needs to protect and that’s the land and the waters and those yet to come.”

Leah Gazan: "Idle No More is the newest version of a 500-year struggle." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Leah Gazan: “Idle No More is the newest version of a 500-year struggle.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

At its base, says Redsky, Idle No More is about love. “There’s an unconditional love that we have for our kids. That protection that we have for them is the same protection that we need to have for Mother Earth.” For Lori Mainville, whatever the risks, “I keep remembering that the greatest equalizer is love . . . no fear, no surrender, only love . . . For me, it’s about love as a mother and a grandmother and a sister and a community member.”

My reduction of this discussion to a matter of love aside, it is difficult to sum up a discussion of this importance in a few paragraphs.

Fortunately, I brought my video camera.

If you want to get involved, you can find Idle No More on Facebook and on the World Wide Web. As the weather warms, I have a feeling you’ll be able find it and join it in the streets. Don’t hesitate, because I’m sure you’ll receive a warm welcome.


The Riverview Hoop House was one of the projects on display during a walking tour of urban agricultural projects organized by the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-op in June in Winnipeg. Coordinator Scott Harrison explains how it works. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Where does your food come from? If you’re like most of us, your reach is truly global. Tomatoes from Mexico. Grapes from Chile. Oranges from Florida. Lettuce from California. And that steak on the barbecue? It may have started life on a Manitoba farm but it was probably fattened, slaughtered and processed in Saskatchewan, Alberta or the United States.

While some of our food is grown and processed locally, most of it travels several hundred to several thousand kilometres before it lands on our plates.

Our food doesn’t walk. Ocean going vessels, rail cars, and long haul truckers carry the bulk of it, with some luxury items travelling by air. This far-flung, complex transportation network enables us to enjoy an almost limitless variety of foods from around the world, regardless of the season.

This abundance is a relatively new phenomenon. While the peoples of the world have traded foodstuffs from one region to another throughout recorded history, it was only after the development of fossil fueled modes of transport that our globalized food system became possible.

That era will soon be coming to an end because the energy source that made it all possible is running out. As oil consumption continues to outpace oil discovery and production, energy prices will continue to rise. Because every aspect of our food system, from production, to processing and transportation depends on oil, the prices on our global menu will continue to grow, and they will grow beyond the reach of most citizens.

Simply put, our existing globalized food system is not sustainable. The sooner we begin to make the transition to a more rational system the better.

While governments appear to be largely unaware of this looming threat, small groups of citizens have recognized the problem and are beginning to look for solutions.

One of these is the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-op, located in Winnipeg, MB. In June 2012, I joined a walking tour of projects the co-op has going in its neighbourhood.

Here is my video report.

Winnipeg, May 4, 2012: Ta’Kaiya Blaney speaking at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg about the need to oppose the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project. Photo: Paul S. Graham

One of the youngest passengers on the Yinka Dene Alliance Freedom Train is Ta’Kaiya Blaney, 11, of Sliammon First Nation in British Columbia. I don’t believe I have seen a more articulate, self-possessed, and inspiring child in my life.

She spoke in Winnipeg last night, at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, about the struggle to stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline. Her presentation was impressive enough, but then she performed “Shallow Waters,” a song she co-wrote with her singing instructor, Aileen De La Cruz, and the audience was entranced.

“Shallow Waters” could become the anthem for all who love and seek to protect the Earth. And Ta’Kaiya Blaney? Well, judge for yourself. She could become pretty much anything she chooses.


Important Links

See also


UPDATE: After posting the first video I went to a Yinka Dene Alliance rally at the historic junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Ta’Kaiya was one of the featured speakers. Here she performs “Carried Away” – which is both a lament for the loss of the natural environment and a call to action. You can find the lyrics on her web site.

Winnipeg, May 4, 2012: Hereditary Chief Tsodih of the Nak’azdli First Nation speaking at a news conference at Circle of Life Thunderbird House. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The Yinka Dene Alliance is on a cross country mission to tell Canadians why they have decided to refuse the construction of the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline across their land. They arrived on VIA Rail last night and held a news conference this morning at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. Mainstream media response was underwhelming; it appears that most were distracted by Jim Flaherty’s visit to the Winnipeg Mint to watch the last shiny copper come off the assembly line today. Oh, those shiny pennies!! Oh, how bedazzling for the media!

Because most of the mainstream media declined the invitation to participate, you and your friends are unlikely to find out what was said — unless you watch this video and share it widely.



If you don’t have 52 minutes, here’s an interview I recorded last night at Union Station with Hereditary Chief Na’Moks.


St. Boniface MP Shelley Glover recently lectured Winnipeg broadcaster Michael Welch of CKUW-FM 95.9 on the virtues of “ethical oil” and the “balanced” approach of the Conservative government to energy development that has obtained the “support” of aboriginal people for tar sands development and the Enbridge Pipeline Proposal. Michael checked her assertions with Gerald Amos, former elected Chief Councillor for the Haisla First Nation for 12 years and a leader of the fierce opposition that is being mounted by communities across BC to the Enbridge proposal.

Was Glover poorly informed or spinning for her boss, Stephen Harper? Watch the video and judge for yourself.

After you’ve watched this, you may want to watch Tar Sands, Pipelines and Tankers – the forum at which Gerald Amos spoke, along with Wade Davis, Lynne Fernandez and Anne Lindsey.

The National Energy Board is conducting hearings on Enbridge’s proposal for a pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands to the town of Kitimat in the heart of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. If approved, over 200 oil tankers would be navigating the difficult waters off BC’s Northwest Coast each year, making widespread environmental damage to BC’s coastline only a matter of time. Moreover, it will facilitate the marketing of even more dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands, fueling that unfolding ecological catastrophe with profound consequences for the rest of Canada and the world.

The project is meeting fierce opposition, especially in northern BC, and the federal government has declared war on anyone who opposes this project. In Winnipeg, a coalition of environmental groups banded together to hold a public forum on February 16, 2012 at the University of Winnipeg entitled Tar Sands, Pipelines and Tankers. Over 300 people turned out to view an excellent 16-minute documentary by Pacific Wild entitled Oil in Eden and to dialogue with an expert panel, moderated by journalist Ricard Cloutier.

The Panel

Dr. Wade Davis is Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society, Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow of the Masters in Development Practice (MDP) Indigenous Development program, University of Winnipeg.

As well, he is the author of The Sacred Headwaters: the fight to save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

Gerald Amos was Chief Councillor for the Haisla First Nation for 12 years. He has been a leading voice for conservation in Canada for thirty years.

He is the author of an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver “No apology forthcoming.”

Lynne Fernandez, of the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives has an MA in economics from the University of Manitoba. As a research associate at the Manitoba office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Lynne has studied municipal and provincial social and economic policy. She is also interested in labour and environmental issues.

Anne Lindsey is former executive director of the Manitoba Eco-Network. Since 1984, Anne has worked on such Manitoba and national issues as nuclear waste, forestry, food, pesticides and environmental reviews.

This event was organized by the Manitoba Eco-Network, Green Action Centre, Climate Change Connection, the Council of Canadians (Winnipeg), and the Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian-Universalist Church, with the support of the University of Manitoba’s Global Political Economy Program and the University of Winnipeg.

I hope you can schedule some time to view the video report I prepared in collaboration with Ken Harasym for Winnipeg Community TV. At two-and-a-half hours, it is long, but it is crammed with information and analysis that make it well worth the time.