Sunday, January 13, 2013



Can Idle No More Save Canada?

First Nations could stop the nefarious Omnibus Bill

Submitted by Betty Krawczyk, Cumberland BC


ill Idle No More save us from environmental collapse? An environmental collapse that could very well result from the full implementation of the Omnibus Bill? Oh, sweet Earth Mother of us all, I hope so. Because nothing else in our social or political structures, including environmental action groups, have been up to the task of alarming and energizing the public around the absolute destruction of environment protections of Canada’s land and waters as that contained in the Omnibus Bill.


In the face of the Idle No More movement sweeping the land, how is Harper to defend himself and his government? By trying to change the focus. By trying to convince the public that Idle No More doesn’t really have anything to do with the Omnibus Bill and is just the usual whining complaint from aboriginals who can’t be satisfied no matter what the government does. Rescinding the Omnibus Bill, Harper says, is not on the table.

Well, we’ll see. Because if the Omnibus Bill isn’t rescinded, what will become of Canada? With no protections for fish bearing streams, lakes, and rivers what will become of the fish? With no protections for what is left of Canadian forests what will then become of our parks and wild animals? If no protections for watersheds, what will become of our drinking water? If no protections against mining, fracking, pipe lines and off shore oil and gas exploration, what will become of the land and oceans? Will Canada become like Haiti?

Yes. This could definitely be in the not too distant future for Canada if the Omnibus Bill isn’t rescinded. Why is Haiti such a mess? Because Haiti was completely deforested by the French. Oh, the French government didn’t send loggers to Haiti to cut down the valuable old growth forests; they made the Haitians do it themselves. Why would the Haitians do such a thing?

In order to pay for their freedom. They had been slaves; they revolted. The French on the ground said okay, you win, and the French government said okay,you can have Haiti but you have to pay. We want your forests or we’ll send in the French Navy. The Haitians, valuing their freedom over the trees, complied. And then, as the trees were all they had, the rest of the forests went to build government and civil services. Corruption rampaged. The result is a nation of vast mud holes. When the rains come, there is nothing to hold back the water. Haiti is being dubbed a “failed state”. (Read “Collapse” by Jared Diamond).

Through the Omnibus Bill Stephen Harper has ordered that henceforth there will be a “lay waste to the land” policy for Canada. But why would Harper do such a thing? Harper’s Omnibus Bill is less understandable than the French’s disgusting ecological rampage of Haiti’s forests. After all, Stephen Harper is not only the Prime Minister of Canada, he lives here. He doesn’t live in another country while making an order to sack some distant more primitive country. Stephen Harper, through the Omnibus Bill, has ordered the sacking of his own country. He has ordered the ecological collapse of his own nation for no good reason. We, collectively, have put into power over us, over Canada’s people, lands, waters, and animals a man who for no good reason, has in his heart and soul, the desire to destroy what is living. There is a name for this. It is called necrophilia.

Okay, so we have a necrophiliac for a Prime Minister who has gathered other necrophiliacs round him. And our side? Who do we have? Besides Idle No More? A whole bunch of good people, good people who are the vast majorly of Canadians. Anything else? Yes, the law. The law? How can I say that when the law has all but crucified me along with thousands of other Eco-protesters in British Columbia for trying to do the same thing that Idle No More is doing? For trying to protect the land and waters of Canada?

Because it’s true. First Nations have the power to transform not only the environmental laws of this country, but to transform the rule of law as it is practiced. Specifically, First Nations have the power to transform the way in which injunctions are given out by the courts to protect corporations who lust after resource profits at all costs. And that this may be starting to happen is suggested to me by a recent article in the National Post.

The newspaper (reported Jan. 8, 2013 by Blatchford) on a recent rail blockade by the Chippewa of Sarnia First Nation (Ontario) Judge Brown remarked concerning the refusal of the police to arrest the protesters by order of an injunction: “This kind of passivity leads me to doubt that a future exists in this province for the use of court injunctions in cases of public demonstrations”.
Furthermore, Judge Brown said when asked, given that police have the powers of arrest already, “Why does the operator of a critical railway have to run off to court to secure an injunction when a small group of protesters park themselves on the rail line bringing operations to a grinding halt. I don’t get it.”

I don’t get it, either. I never have. Even if the group of protesters is a large one, police already have the power to arrest. But First Nations can succeed where I and thousands of other protesters failed is because even if First Nations are charged and even convicted under an injunction, reserve aboriginals cannot have liens filed against their communal property (which is one reason Harper wants to privatize the reserve lands). The right thing, the fair thing, the just thing, of course, would be to do away with the use of injunctions for crowd control entirely. Either way, First Nations people have the upper hand in the matter.

What can a judge do if he or she doesn’t want to clog the jails with Idle No More people protesting the environmental destruction of Canada (which would make Canada a pariah internationally) and can’t even levy a lien against reserve property? Make them pay a fine? With what money? Cut off their government money? Let them starve? Freeze to death in the cold? I don’t think so.

I was first introduced (in prison) to the practice of starting every Healing Circle meeting with a smudge (the BC Liberal government has since cut off an elder coming into prison to hold the ceremonies). Sweet grass and sage is burned in a shell and the smoke wafted over different parts of the supplicant’s body who ask that as the smoke cleanses, that they be helped by the ancient grandmothers and grandfathers to walk in healing ways. This is a silent prayer and the only words spoken out loud are at the very end of the ceremony: “And for all of my realtions.”

At first I thought “And for all of my relations “meant human relatives. But it doesn’t. It means all the non-human creatures of the world that haven’t the language to speak for themselves. This is the idea still deeply engrained in many First Nations peoples that has remained, despite all the atrocities against them, the idea that yet may save Canada from ecological collapse. The belief is that humans are responsible for the protections of the earth and her creatures.

I believe this, too. Are we not all human? Are we not all responsible for the health and protection of the earth and waters and skies? The choice is ours. We as Canadians can put our collective weight behind the Idle No More movement or hang back. But I strongly believe that if the Idle No Movement hangs tough, and the rest of us stand with them, then Stephen Harper will rethink the Omnibus Bill, start dismantling it, and give back the protections that that belongs to a decent, orderly, environmentally secure nation. It’s up to us.

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