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“…I exist and my people exist” – Native artist Samian interview

February 14, 2010 3 comments

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Interviewed by: Stefan Christoff

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Algonquin hip-hop artist Samian raps about the realities of life on First Nations reserves in Quebec. With a growing following on reserves and in Quebec’s cities, he’s also struck a chord in hip-hop communities everywhere.

Exploding the classic political binary of Quebec’s two solitudes, Samian raps about indigenous people and their history in the province. His chart-topping hit La Paix des braves, a duet with Quebec hip-hop crew Loco Locass, appeals for solidarity between Québécois and indigenous people. Samian’s recent collaboration with Sans Pression on Premières nations helped cement his role as a key voice in the Montreal contemporary hip-hop scene.

Hour sat down with Samian to discuss contemporary hip-hop in Montreal and the ways the genre is increasingly speaking to, and representing the struggles of, First Nations communities in Quebec, in Canada and throughout the Americas.

Hour Hip-hop’s origins in New York City were rooted in rhymes that addressed social injustices, especially the racism and social exclusion faced by African-Americans. Today in Canada, indigenous people face similar systemic social exclusion: racism, incarceration, substandard housing and medical options and poverty. Hip-hop is increasingly used as a response to this reality and artists are rapping about the social injustices faced by indigenous people. Can you talk about how your work relates to the history of hip-hop as a socially conscious art form? How do you connect your work to hip-hop history?

Samian Hip-hop has always been an art form through which people have made demands, appealed for change and denounced the social injustices faced by African-Americans in U.S. ghettos. Certainly the history of African-American struggle in the U.S., like we saw with the Black Panthers, is tied to hip-hop music [and] culture.

Indigenous people in Quebec, in Canada, have lived through a history of oppression like African-Americans. Today we are still calling for justice, and hip-hop is a vehicle to call for this change. As an artist, I love hip-hop because it allows for free expression: You can talk about whatever issues are important to you. Hip-hop is a space for me to express myself on many subjects, to denounce injustices. It’s also a space to propose positive solutions for social ills, and to reflect on the world around me.

Hour What are you trying to make people more aware of through your music?

Samian Our reality, the life on the reserves, the fight to retain our culture, the fact that we are struggling to keep our language. Also I want to make people aware that indigenous people have a rich history and culture that is ignored by the mainstream.

Through hip-hop we are opening people’s eyes to our culture and also to our long, long history on this land. I want to speak to youth in Quebec who don’t always learn about real indigenous history in the school system. Québécois and indigenous people’s history in Quebec are interlinked. This relationship between our cultures has shaped what we know to be Quebec today, and who we are. Sadly our indigenous history is often shoved to the side because it shows an underlying brutality in the national narrative.

Hour Many Montrealers don’t know about the situation facing indigenous people on the reserves here and in Quebec. In this context, how do you see hip-hop as a way to educate people about the indigenous reality here? How do you address these issues in your music?

Samian I think my music has the biggest impact on the reservations. The music sparks the spirits of the new generation on the reserves, and gives youth pride in our culture, and in our language.

But for everyone in Quebec, I hope my music inspires a more open spirit towards the realities faced on reserves, because people need to wake up to the difficulties and poverty we experience. The mainstream media don’t address our situation thoroughly, so I am trying to communicate our reality. Simply put, there are two different realities, two different worlds, two different experiences of life in Quebec – one on the reserves and one off the reserves.

In Quebec, we have a national slogan: Je me souviens. But really, what do we remember in Quebec? In Quebec we forget some of the biggest parts of our own history. How was Quebec and Canada founded? What ever happened to the people who originally lived here? Why does the world forget that there are over 500 languages spoken across Canada, and not just English and French? So much about our history has been hidden or erased, and so young people never learn about the first peoples. These are all questions that – incredibly – aren’t well answered in our schoolbooks. The government is also directly responsible for the lack of knowledge about our history, because indigenous culture and history is not a priority, and not taught seriously within the public school curriculum.

Recently, I looked up “Algonquin” in the dictionary and was shocked. The definition read something like “a people that don’t exist.” I was shaken to the core after reading this – how absurd. I am an Algonquin artist today in Quebec, I exist and my people exist. Today, after thousands of years, we are still on this land as indigenous people. We are still here and are gathering strength; my hip-hop verses express a pride for indigenous people in Quebec.

Hour As an artist, your hip-hop is unique and has struck a chord in Quebec. What do you think makes your work compelling to so many different audiences?

Samian I wrote poetry before ever thinking about rap. I eventually fell into rapping almost as an accident. Today I work with amazing musicians who are able to complement my verses with music. I think the relationship between my verses and the musicians that I collaborate with has become richer with time.

My second album is much deeper musically than the first album, and now it feels like things are constantly developing for me in exciting ways as an artist. All my first songs weren’t written with, or for, specific music, so now that I work with musicians in developing my verses, the creative process has changed a lot.

At the root, I am an artist, not a politician. My songs are about real issues, but I address those issues as an artist. Many people say that my work is really political, but actually I know nothing about the political world. I address issues that are important to me.

Hour …But you are linked to grassroots political movements. Do you mean you aren’t tied to the world of politicians and government?

Samian I am interested in speaking out against injustice and trying to build towards solutions that solve those injustices. I’m not at all interested in official politics or political parties. Actually there hasn’t been a major politician in North America, in the U.S., or in Canada that has proposed something really good for First Nations people. No proposal deals with the historical injustices we faced and the contemporary situation.

Hour Perhaps we could look to Evo Morales in Bolivia as an example?

Samian [Laughing] Today Bolivia is an exception in the Americas, because Morales is an indigenous president! In Bolivia, indigenous people are the majority, while in Canada we are such a small minority today.

In Bolivia the government of Evo Morales signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into the national constitution. Here, Stephen Harper refused to sign the letter or even vote in favour of the charter at the UN. Harper made that apology for residential schools, but he voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The government in Canada wants us to remain in an unequal position and as a minority, with no political power. Indigenous people live in Third World conditions right here in Quebec and throughout Canada. So, is Canada progressive? In the U.S. there is an African-American president; could you ever imagine a First Nations prime minister in Canada? Indigenous people in Canada should take inspiration from the African-American struggle, which won many rights for black people in the U.S. Actually, we need to wage a similar struggle in Canada, a civil rights struggle.

Hour Can you talk about the concerts that you’ve given in indigenous communities across Quebec? Do you feel different about the concerts that you give on reserve and those in the city?

Samian Actually my concerts on reservations are really, really special for me. I feel that the most meaningful impact from my music is on the reserves. To meet youth on different reserves and to connect with youth, to talk about their realities – this is a big source of inspiration for me. I can connect strongly with this, given that my own experiences are linked.

My work tries to project the true voice of First Nations people: Those on the reserve that I meet who are always struggling to survive, struggling for justice… I hope my music inspires youth to dream louder and create a better future.

Samian
For more info: http://www.samian.ca/

Stefan Christoff is a Montreal-based community organizer and journalist who regularly contributes to Hour. He can be contacted at christoff@resist.ca.

[this is republished from the hour website: www.hour.ca/news/news.aspx?iIDArticle=19246]

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More about Samian:

Samian – Role models and leaders

Quebec’s first Algonquin rapper

a song from youtube

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ஆயிரம்….. மலர்களே…. மலருங்கள்ள்ள்

October 4, 2009 2 comments

01.

இருத்தலும் இல்லாதிருத்தலும் என்பதாய் எழுதுகையில் குமார் மூர்த்தியே கண் முன் வருகிறார். அப்போது, கணையாழி-கனடா சிறப்பிதழில்(?) ‘சப்பாத்து’ என்கிற அவரது சிறுகதை வெளிவந்திருந்தது. தன் பென்னம் பெரிய காலுக்கு அளவான சப்பாத்தைத் தேடிப் பிடிக்கிறதுக்கு முன்னம் ‘போதும் போதும் என்றாகி விடும்’ என கருவை அவரதான எள்ளலோட அதில் எழுதியிருப்பார். அதைப் படித்த பிறகான அவரைக் காணும் ஓர் இலக்கியக் கூட்டத்தில், அவர் எங்களுக்கு மிக அருகாமையில் இருக்கவும், எனது நண்பர்கள் எல்லாரும் சேர்ந்து ‘சப்பாத்த பாருங்க, அளவானதா எண்டு’ என்று எமக்குள் அவற்ற சப்பாத்தக் காட்டிக் காட்டிக் கதைக்க, புரிந்துகொண்ட புன்னகையுடன் அருகில் அவர் இருந்து கொண்டிருந்தார்.

சிவிக் சென்ரில் நடந்த அந்த இலக்கிய நிகழ்ச்சி முடிந்த பிறகும், எனது நண்பர்கள்; ராதா, சேனா, கோணேஸ் எனச் சில தேடக நண்பர்களுடன் கதைத்தவாறு நிற்க, “நேரம் போகுது.. டேய் போங்கடா” கூறிக் கொண்டு குமார் மூர்த்தி கடந்து போனார். சில வருடங்களின் பின் அதே சிவிக் சென்ரரில் குமார் மூர்த்தி நினைவு கூரப்பட்டார்; அப்போது, அங்கு சிவமும் இருந்தார்.


KumarMoorthy_july2006b
மீதி: சிவம் அவர்களின் நினைவுக் கூட்டமொன்றிலிருந்து தொடங்கும். அந்தக் கூட்டத்திலிருந்த ஒரு மனநிலை பின்னரும் இடையிடையே மனதுள் ஓடிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. தேடகத்தினால் ஒழுங்கு செய்யப்பட்டிருந்த அந்த நிகழ்வில், இலங்கையிலிருந்து, சிவத்தின் நினைவுப் பேருரையைச் செய்ய வந்திருந்த சிவசேகரம், ‘நிய வாழ்க்கையில் நான் அவரை அறிந்ததில்லை’ எனவே ஆரம்பித்தார் {அதனது பார்வையில், அப்போ தேடகம் ‘புலி’யாகிவிட்டதால், தேனீ அதற்கு நிறைய அர்த்தம் கற்பித்து எழுதியிருந்தது கிளைக்கதை).

நிய வாழ்க்கையில் – உயிரான மனிதராய் – நாங்கள் சிவத்தைக் கண்டிருக்கிறோம். சொல்லப் போனால், நான் முதன் முதலில் சென்றிருந்த இலக்கியக் கூட்டமான கவிதை பற்றிய உரையாடல் ஒன்றிலே சிவமும் இருந்திருந்தார். அவரது கரகரத்த குரல் கூறிக் கொண்டிருந்ததும் கூட மங்கலாய் நினைவில் உண்டு….

எம்மிடையே சிவம் போன்ற மனிதரது இருப்பும் இருப்பின் அரசியலும் அவரது பங்களிப்புகளினால் ஆன சமூக வரலாறும் ஒருபோதும் பேசவோ சொல்லவோ பட்டதில்லை. அவரது சொற்கள் ஏதேனும், பிரபல எழுத்தாளர்களது மேற்கோள்களுக்குள் வராதவரையில் அவர் பெறுமதியான நபராக மதிப்பீடுகளின் உலகில் இருத்தல் முடியாது.

குமார் மூர்த்தியானால் பறவாயில்லை. சில சிறுகதைகளையாவது விட்டுச் சென்றார். சொற்பமான அவை, தமிழ் கூறும் நல்லுகிற்குப் போதுமோ இல்லையோ.. என்னால் அவற்றை மறக்க முடியாது. ‘ஹனிபாவும் எருமைகளும்’ { ஞாபகத்திலிருந்து மேற்கோளிடப்படுகிறது } போன்ற சிறுகதைகள் மன இடுக்குகளுள் இன்னமும் மனிதம் நிறைந்த அவரது ஆன்மாவை அடையாளங் காட்டியவாறு இருக்கின்றன; நியாயமின்மைகள் மீதான மிகச் சிறிய முனகலாய் எனினும் அவை இருக்கின்றன.

அதில்:
எந்த கெடுவும் வைக்கப்படாது வெளியேறச் சொல்லப் படுகிறார் ஹனிபா. அவரது சொத்துக்களென பெரிதாய் எதுவுமில்லை, ஒரு எருமையைத் தவிர.. சிறு நிலத்தில் அவர் வளர்த்த காய்கறிகளும், குடிசையும், என்றென்றைக்குமான வறுமையும் அவர் அந்த இடத்திலிருந்து போவதையிட்டு வருந்துவதற்கு இல்லை. அந்த நிலத்தின் ஒரு மனிதரேனும் அவருக்காக வருந்தினரா தெரியாது. ஆனால்….. அவர் வளர்த்த எருமை அழுகிறது போல….

எனக்குத் தெரியாது அக் கதைகளது இலக்கியப் பெறுமதிகள். கொஞ்சக் காலம் முன் யாரோ ஒரு தமிழக ‘பெரிய’ எழுத்தாளர் {அவர்களது பெயர்களைக் கூறும் ஆர்வங் கூட இப்போது இல்லை} ‘குமார் மூர்த்தியினது கதைகள் பெரிய ‘நல்ல’ கதைகள் என்பதற்கு இல்லை’ என்றதாக யாரோ சொன்னார்கள். அப்போது எனக்குத் தோன்றியது – ஒரு கதை என்பது வெறுமனே சொற்களால் ஆனது மாத்திரமல்ல; எப்போதும் அது, தமிழகத்திலிருந்து ஒரு ‘பெரிய’ எழுத்தாளர் பிரதிபலிக்கிற ஒரு சமூகக் கூட்டம் படித்து, உணர்ந்து, மதிப்பிடுகிற ஒன்றும் அல்ல. எங்களது சொற்கள் ஒவ்வொன்றுக்கும் பின்னால் எங்களது எங்களது அரசியல்கள் சேர்ந்து, கதையை பேரலையாய் எழச் செய்யும் பின்னணிகள் பலப் பல உண்டு. என்னிடம் பேரலையை எழுப்பவல்ல என்னுடையதான அரசியலை அப்படியல்லாத இன்னொரு பின்னணியைச் சேர்ந்த ஒருவரால் புரிந்து கொள்ளுதல் சிரமமே (அப்படியொன்றின் இருப்பினை, அனேகர் புரிந்து கொள்ள முனைவதே இல்லை என்பதே எக் காலங்களதும் அவலமாயும் இருக்கிறது). ‘பெரிய’/ ‘பெரும்பான்மை’ மனிதர்கள் எப்போதும் சின்னச் சின்ன சமூகங்கள்/மனிதர்கள் குறித்த தம் ‘அறியாமை’களை மதிப்பீடுகளாக முன் வைத்தபடியே தான் இருப்பார்கள்; தாம் அறியாத வாழ்வுகளின் அரசியலை தாங்கள் தீர்மானிக்கலாம் என தொடர்ந்தும் நம்ப வைத்துக் கொண்டு வேறு இருக்கிறார்கள்.

நானும் ஒரு சாதாரண கதையாகவே “ஹனிபாவும் எருமைகளும்” படித்துக் கொண்டிருப்பேன்.. பொழுது சாய்ந்து பொழுது புலருவது போன்ற வழமையுடன் ஒரு அலட்சியமாகப் படித்துக் கொண்டிருப்பேன். திடீரென அந்த எருமையின் கண்ணீர் என் கண்களுள் விழுகிற போது திடுக்கிடுவேன். கடவுளே… என்ன ஒரு அநீதி நிகழ்கிறது!

என்னையறியாது, என்னுள் நிகழ்ந்த அதிர்விற்கு என் சமூகம் சார்ந்த அரசியலும் அதுள் நடக்கும் நிகழ்வுகளுடனான தொடர்பும் காரணமெனில் அதே சமூகத்தைச் சேர்ந்த இன்னொருவரால் அதை ஒரு இந்திய வாசகரைப் போல வாசித்தலும் சாத்தியமே. இது நடந்த கதைப் பரப்பு இலங்கையுள் இன்னொரு இனத்துக்குள் நடக்கின்ற ஒன்று. எப்போதும் எனது இனத்தின் வலி உயர்ந்ததாகவும், மற்றதின் தராசு என்னுடையதன் முன் தாழ்வாகவும் இருந்தால் தானே, என்னுடையதை உயர்த்துதல் முடியும்?

இங்கே: சமூகங்களுக்கு அல்லது அதனதன் மனிதர்களுக்கு வெளியில் இருந்து கொண்டு மதிப்பிடல் மட்டுமே நடக்கும், புரிதலல்ல. மகாபலிபுரத்தின் சிற்பிகளும் அலையடிக்கும் கடலுமான சூழலில் நடக்கையில் கல்கியின் நூல்கள் படித்திராத என்னால் அவ்விடம் மாபெரும் ‘காவிய உணர்வு’களை பெற்றிர முடியாது (அதிலொன்றும் வருத்தமில்லை; சக மனிதரின் வலியை உணராது போதல் தரக்கூடிய இழப்புணர்வு போன்ற ஒன்றை அது தந்து விட முடியாது). அவ் வுணர்வை உணராத நான் ‘அப்படியொன்றே உனக்கிருக்க முடியாது’ என அதை உணருகிற ஒருவரிடம் கூறுவது என்பது, அதிகாரமன்றில் வேறென்ன!


[….மேலும் வரும்]

Buried for years in our backyards: Stories of Rape, Hunger, and Death from SriLankan Tamil Women

June 2, 2009 4 comments

– The smell of the army boots, the gun, never our friend

kiddo

By Regi David, Toronto

I became an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) when I was just 13 years old.

To read More Click here…

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Photo of the boy taken from here

Canada Myths and Realities

March 25, 2008 Leave a comment

by Samir Hussain; December 14, 2004

“The faceless beast has many faces.
The most dangerous face is the one that comes with a smile.”
-James “OJ” Pitawanakwat [1]

On November 30, 2004, there was a massive mobilisation to protest George W. Bush’s presence in Ottawa. This event provided an insightful example of how varied (and oftentimes mutually exclusive) agendas can occasionally fall under one banner. Indeed, a veritable motley crew of interests were represented – anarchists, communists, anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, environmentalists, John Kerry supporters, and Canadian nationalists, among others. Unfortunately, this did not translate into having any common understandings aside from a shared opposition to, and disdain for, George W. Bush. Personally, organising as an Indigenous solidarity activist with sharp critiques of the Canadian state, I found the fervent Canadian nationalism/patriotism that reared its ugly head on several occasions to be quite unsettling.

In one of the more violent confrontations with the police around the Fine Arts Museum – the police were using pepper spray and batons to beat down protestors trying to push back the barricades –, a disturbing rendition of Canada’s national anthem was initiated by a few people in the crowd and soon spread like wildfire. These protestors belted out the tunes of O Canada, while some even simultaneously placed their hands over their hearts evoking their “true patriot love”. Presumably, the intent was to impute “Canadian-ness” to the protestors, implying that the police were behaving in a “non-Canadian” manner. The irony, of course, is that many on the front lines battling against the police have little sympathy for the Canadian state (or its police forces), as it is this state which has consistently sought to marginalise and criminalise their dissent.

The fundamental question, though, is why people use Canadian patriotism as a protective cloak from American patriotism. Do they not see that while the colours may be different, the fabric remains essentially the same? While filmmaker Michael Moore shamelessly places Canada (and Canadians) on a pedestal without any real merit, why is it that Canadians feel so smug and self-righteous without a closer inspection of what “being Canadian” means? Meanwhile, perhaps the professed intent of American citizens to immigrate to Canada following Bush’s re-election should alert us to the reality that “democratic” nation-states founded on the holocaust of Aboriginal peoples, the theft of land and the use of slavery cannot escape their ignoble roots. The unmasking of the United States’ fascist tendencies have become obvious with the ascension to power of the Bush regime, complete with its right-wing fanaticism and Christian-fundamentalist agenda. Canadians would do well to avoid basking in the glory of self-adulation and become more vigilant in confronting the intensification of the attack on civil liberties here in Canada (particularly for the most targeted and vulnerable groups: the poor and working class, Aboriginal people, “ethnic minorities”).

Did those fervently singing the national anthem not recognise how insensitive and offensive they were being to those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of Canadian policies? Would they have been as keen on their singing if, for example, they were standing beside an Aboriginal person or a refugee awaiting deportation? Perhaps they would argue that while Canada has its share of problems, at least it is not as bad as the United States. Down south, it may be argued, they treat “their” Indigenous and refugee populations much worse than we treat “ours” here. I rebut the argument that simply “being better” than the United States of America (or “American citizens”) is hardly a cause for celebration – indeed, this is not a difficult achievement. In fact, if we measure how peaceful and just a given society is by using the United States as a yardstick, our moral compass is in need of significant retuning.

Many patriotic Canadians continue to pride themselves on how Canada did not get involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This myth persists despite the fact that Canada’s contributions to the military effort in Iraq are quite well-established. Canada sent troops to Afghanistan to free up American forces for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Canadian ships were known to have been escorting American aircraft carriers from which American warplanes conducted their aerial bombing missions. Canadian military planners were sent to the United States Central Command (USCENTCOMM) at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida over a month before the eventual invasion and occupation of Iraq; Canadian military planners were then sent to CENTCOMM’s headquarters in Qatar, where the on-going occupation of Iraq was orchestrated. Canada has allowed use of its ports in Newfoundland to permit American planes to refuel en route to the Middle East. Finally, Canadian companies have made great financial gains in supplying the United States with weapons and military equipment.[2] Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley called the U.S. policy which initially banned Canadian companies from contracts to “re-build” Iraq (after the “Coalition of the Willing” re-destroyed it) “shocking” and “unacceptable.”[3] For a country whose stated official position was that of not being involved in the Anglo-American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Canada has sure kept busy “not helping” the United States. Yet, many Canadians still impute Canada with moral rectitude which it clearly does not deserve.

Canadians often pride themselves on how different Canada is from the United States of America. But, on a fundamental level it shares much more than is commonly admitted. Both are avowedly colonialist, capitalist nation-states, with white-European and Christian origins. They were both built on the blood, sweat and tears of people (mostly non-white), the overwhelming majority of whom were not allowed to share in the wealth which a select few from the white elite have accumulated over time. Slavery was practised in both countries with varying intensity at various periods. While the United States has been the overt imperialist over the past century-and-a-half, Canada has lent its support to such endeavours; aside for its complicity in crimes in Iraq, it has been (or is currently) involved in Vietnam, Indonesia/East Timor, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Israel-Palestine, among others.[4] They have both employed immigration policies that primarily allow entry to immigrants and refugees from the South in order to meet specific needs in the labour market and/or to compensate for an otherwise slow population growth. Both governments are fraught with overwhelming conflicts of interests which favour corporate rule over public good. Finally, and perhaps of greatest importance, is the colonial history and holocaust of Indigenous peoples that characterises both these nation-states. Indeed, after originating from such shameful origins, it would in fact be a surprise if Canada had managed to truly distinguish itself from the United States on issues that actually matter.

Injustices: Past and Present – the Canadian colonial reality

Canadians perceive the realities of Indigenous peoples and communities in a very fragmented way. A common perception is that while there were grave injustices done to Aboriginal peoples in the past, things are somehow different now. At what point in history this disjunction occurs (i.e. what separates “then” and “now”) remains elusive. The important task, then, is to show how the current relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state is not a novel one based on principles of justice and mutual respect, as most Canadians would like to believe, but rather an evolution of the same exploitative and oppressive relationship which have characterised Canadian-Indigenous relations from the start.

In fact, the only difference now may be that instead of justifying theft and murder by arguing Aboriginal people are an inferior race explicitly (i.e. Social Darwinism with a little bit of White Man’s Burden mixed in), Canada uses more covert means to achieve the same ends. This is not to suggest that potent vestiges of Social Darwinism are no longer with us today. On the contrary, the Canadian mindset is framed – through the collusion of governmental policies, corporate interests and biased media spins – by constant bombardment of images depicting racist stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples. Through an exaggerated and/or unsympathetic emphasis on poverty, corruption, violence, suicidality, substance abuse, etc. in Aboriginal communities, the implied message remains the same: Aboriginal people are not fit to govern themselves. Repeatedly neglected in contextualising these matters is explaining, for example, how the Canadian state imposed (through the enactment of the Indian Act) a foreign system of governance on peoples that were previously highly democratic, or exploring the genocidal legacy of the Church-run residential school system under the auspices of the Canadian state, from 1879 until 1986.[5] Also consistently neglected are the cause-effect relationships of pervasive racism and poverty faced by, and the low-intensity warfare waged against, Aboriginal communities. The caveat to all of these omissions is the manner in which self-proclaimed progressives actually acknowledge these realities, but do so to undermine Aboriginal self-determination by implying that Aboriginal people are still “healing” from these past injustices, and thus are not yet “fit” to govern themselves.

Meanwhile, communities which are actively fighting colonisation, asserting their autonomy and exercising their right to self-determination are usually ignored, unless they appear in the media at a time when a direct confrontation with the state is occurring. In fact, Andy Mitchell, the previous Minister of Indian Affairs, was once provided with briefing notes (obtained by the Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act) which stated that “Aboriginal issues are traditionally a low priority for the Canadian public, unless the media forces public attention on them”, intimating that the media should avoid reporting on Aboriginal issues for fear that the Canadian public start sympathising with them.[6] The threat of a good example would be particularly dangerous for the Canadian state, given how many Indigenous communities reside within its colonial borders. Ultimately, however, the net result is the same: Aboriginal people are still regarded as inferior, de facto, while the Canadian state (and therefore the Canadian people) continues to benefit from the expropriation and exploitation of their lands, whether it is for fishing, hunting, tree logging, mining or oil drilling.

The legislative paper trail, from the Indian Act through to the First Nations Governance Act (which was recently “defeated”) belies the Canadian state’s professed goodwill in dealing with Indigenous peoples in Canada.[7] For those unconvinced, there are several recent examples which demonstrate the real agenda of the Canadian state to suppress any signs of Aboriginal autonomy and self-determination. The perpetual low-intensity warfare against Aboriginal peoples notwithstanding, the “Oka Crisis/Siege of Kanesatake” (1990), the “Ipperwash Crisis” (1995), the “Battle of Gustafsen Lake/Gustafsen Lake Crisis” (1995), and the confrontation at BurntChurch (2000) all reveal the violent reaction of the Canadian state and its provinces to Indigenous self-determination. Provincial and federal police forces, plus or minus the Canadian military, have been deployed in all the above confrontations.

Some argue that it is only “conservative” Canadian politicians that have engaged in such operations. The implication being that such politicians do not represent the “true” spirit of Canada. The reality, however, is that when it comes to Aboriginal issues, there are no distinctions based on the political party. These instances do illustrate Canada’s “true” spirit. The New Democratic Party (NDP) – Canada’s “progressive” political party – was in power in British Columbia when it colluded with the Liberal Canadian government to send the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and military to Gustafsen Lake, “involving the largest mobilization of government fighting forces in resource-rich western Canada since the crushing of the Métis resistance movement led by Louis Riel in 1885.”[8] History, it seems, continues to repeat itself. Progressive politics may be better tolerated in Canada versus the United States, but what is clear is that all bets are off when it comes to applying Canada’s standards of justice in its dealings with Aboriginal peoples.

Specifically with respect to the RCMP, they continue to fulfil the task for which they were initially created. Addressing the mythology surrounding Canadian national identity, scholar Eva Mackey suggests that the “formation of the North-west Mounted Police in 1873, to act as a quasi-military agent of the government in Western Canada, is one of the most romanticised events in Canadian popular history.”[9] As Gabriella Pedicelli cites: “The NWMP was used to seize resource-rich Métis land and transfer control and effective ownership to the federal government. This semi-military police force was created to control Métis resistance as well as potential native allies farther west who also revolted against the forceable take-over of their land by the Canadian government. The federal government feared a war waged by the Métis and natives against white settlers. The belief was that the NWMP would civilize the wild, barbaric, heathen Indians. The mission was violently and enthusiastically carried out by its racist officers.”[10]

The Canadian/provincial response in the above-mentioned conflicts, and the many which go unmentioned here (Skwekwekwelt, Cheam, Grassy Narrows, Kahnawake, Six Nations, etc.) express the Canadian state’s fear that Aboriginal people will start reclaiming land that is rightfully theirs, land that was not ceded nor surrendered. Even in cases where it was ceded or surrendered, it may be convincingly argued that this occurred under situations of duress, thereby severely imperilling Canadian land claims to Aboriginal territories. The Canadian government and its corporate puppet-masters naturally feel threatened by forceful demonstrations of sovereignty, for the two mutually reinforcing entities stand to lose out on the spoils from exploitation of these lands. Even after transplanting entire nations and relegating them to grossly inadequate tracts of land, these prospectors continue to smack their lips at the potential of any profit that can be made from what the Canadian government now realises to be “resource-rich” lands.

Revolution is based on land

The 1990 resistance in Kanesatake was to oppose a planned expansion of a golf course by the neighbouring town of Oka onto Mohawk burial grounds. The Ipperwash Crisis, where Dudley George was killed by Ontario Provincial Police, came about after several Stoney Point Indigenous peoples initiated a peaceful protest to reclaim traditional burial grounds. The Battle of Gustafsen Lake/Gustafsen Lake Crisis was a standoff in which the Ts’ Peten Defenders were asserting their right to observe their Sundance ceremony on “disputed” land, land which was traditionally theirs, and had never been ceded nor surrendered.[11] The conflict at BurntChurch stemmed from the active defence of traditional fishing rights by Mik’maq people. The lesson is that protecting burial grounds, safeguarding ceremonial territories and asserting rights to ensure one’s livelihood threaten the Canadian state.

Land, especially reclaiming land obtained by theft, is one of the cornerstones of Aboriginal self-determination. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (a.k.a. Malcolm X) stated: “Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.”[12] It seems that the Canadian state and its corporate allies are well aware of this reality, and have acted accordingly.

Extradition cases

It should be noted that Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous peoples is not restricted to those residing within its colonial borders. The Canadian state is only too happy to comply with the American government in its own war against Indigenous peoples residing within the colonial borders of the United States.

In 1876, the Hunkpapa leader, Tatanka Yotanka (a.k.a. Sitting Bull), was one of the fighters in the victorious resistance to an American offensive, later to become known as the Battle of Little Big Horn. During this battle, General George Custer was killed and his forces defeated. The American military’s predictable response was to seek revenge by finding the leaders and fighters of the heroic resistance while simultaneously engaging in violent collective retribution against Indigenous peoples, of which those from the Sioux nation were most obviously targeted. By the spring of 1877, Tatanka Yotanka, along with many others (some suggest that they numbered in the thousands), had escaped to Canada and settled in the plains of Saskatchewan. Canada did not technically extradite Tatanka Yotanka, but it was hopeful that he (and those with him) would leave of his own accord when the RCMP provided an escort for General Alfred Terry from the United States’ War Department. Terry came to Fort Walsh to persuade Tatanka Yotanka to return to the Great Sioux Reservation. When the latter declined, RCMP Commissioner James MacLeod addressed him accordingly: “You can expect nothing whatsoever from the Queen’s government except protection so long as you behave yourselves.” That the Canadian government commissioned RCMP officers to monitor Tatanka Yotanka’s activities speaks volumes as to the type of “protection” it afforded him. Ultimately, Canada’s withholding of any form of aid, including food and clothing for the bitter winters, forced Tatanka Yotanka, along with 186 others who were with him, to return to the United States in 1881.[13]

More recently, the Canadian government extradited Leonard Peltier, an organiser with the American Indian Movement (AIM), from British Columbia to the United States in December of 1976. In what has become one of the most contentious cases in American legal history, Peltier was subsequently convicted and is serving consecutive life sentences in a federal penitentiary for the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents following the 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Wounded Knee, in South Dakota. To this day, Peltier maintains his innocence while the American legal system continues to deny him a re-trial despite public support and pressure. Moreover, over two decades later, and despite significant public outcry forcing an investigation into the extradition hearings, Canada maintains its action as righteous and lawful. Despite evidence in the case suggesting otherwise, then-Canadian Justice Minister, Anne McLellan, had this to say in an October 1999 letter addressed to then-U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno: “There is no evidence that has come to light since then that would justify a conclusion that the decisions of the Canadian courts and the Minister should be interfered with.”[14]

At the present time, courts in British Columbia are presiding over the extradition of John Graham, a former AIM member, to South Dakota. There, he is to stand trial for the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, an AIM member who was involved in actions that took place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970’s. A Mi’kmaq woman from the Shubenacadie reserve in Nova Scotia, she was a strong and long-time activist, regarding herself proudly as a “female warrior.”[15] Her radical politics, intelligence and energy predictably garnered the attention of the FBI. In a recent message from prison, Leonard Peltier states that the “FBI told Anna Mae that they would see her dead within a year if she did not cooperate with them, used their puppets to spread rumors that Annie Mae was an informant when she refused to cooperate, and mishandled the investigation of her death.”[16] Justice must be served for the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, but it is clear (if history were to serve as a guide) that this cannot come through the Canadian or American legal systems. This is particularly true in the present situation given the FBI’s desire to exculpate itself by diverting attention from its own involvement in her murder.[17]

Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that a recent extradition trial in the US gave rise to an unexpected (and arguably encouraging) result. In November 2000, Judge Janice Stewart overruled the US State Department and refused the extradition of James Pitawanakwat to British Columbia, where he would likely face political persecution at the hands of the Canadian government for his involvement in the Battle of Gustafsen Lake. Thus, for the “first time in legal history of Canada-US relations, a US judge invoked the legal authority of the political offences exception in Article 4 of the Extradition Treaty.”[18] It is lamentable that the United States, and not Canada, was the one to set such a precedent.

The Canadian façade of multiculturalism and tolerance

Despite all this, many Canadians still regard Canada as a great country, with perhaps only historical blemishes when it comes to its treatment of Aboriginal people. Of course, to many others, such an assertion remains quite dubious.

When it comes to immigrants and refugees, for example, Canada is quick to exploit its reputation as being a haven for human rights in welcoming people from other countries. Any serious study of immigration policy in Canada (much as in the United States), however, reveals that benevolence has not been the motivating factor for allowing people to enter the country. Rather, migrants are typically permitted entry into Canada for very specific tasks, ranging from domestic labour, to farming, to factory work, to building the railway, to technocratic-professional positions. In particular, the refugee claimant population has always been a pliable labour pool, bestowing employers with two mechanisms through which to exert power and subordinate their workers: by preying upon refugee claimants’ precarious financial situations and by threatening to sabotage their claims for refugee status and eventual citizenship should they assert their rights to obtain dignified wages, working conditions and benefit plans.

Occasionally, history offers cases that eloquently display the underlying white-supremacist and racist tendency which permeates the Canadian landscape. While usually pontificating about its “tolerance” and “multiculturalism”, Canada shows its true colours suggesting otherwise in times of duress. This is perhaps best exemplified with the deplorable internment of Japanese Canadians into makeshift concentration camps during World War II, while (white) Germanic Germans were left untouched.[19] In the post-9/11 atmosphere, meanwhile, similar events are recurring, with the specific targeting of Muslim, South Asian and Arab men, many of whom are being surveilled and detained without justification.

The recent high-profile cases of Maher Arar, Adil Charkoui and Mohamed Cherfi,[20] effectively expose the Canadian state’s fundamentally racist and intolerant policies towards recently-arrived migrants, regardless of citizenship (Arar has been a Canadian citizen since 1991). In response to Cherfi’s active role as a community organiser in Montreal, the Canadian state sent a clear message to all recent immigrants and refugees who dare to speak up and/or organise for the protection of their rights: You are not welcome here. Admittedly, public outcry has likely had some effect (Arar was eventually returned to Canada, but not after months of torture in a Syrian prison; meanwhile, several Muslim men, including Charkaoui, remain in detention in Canada for bogus “security” reasons and Cherfi is still in a US detention centre despite much mobilisation [21]). Yet, most Canadians continue to see such actions taken by the Canadian state as being somehow aberrant from its “natural” proclivities. For those dissenters the Canadian state cannot deport, meanwhile, it targets them through constant surveillance and via individual and mass arrests at demonstrations. As a result of legal fees, bail conditions, and being mired within the court system in general, these individuals are prevented from continuing with their important work as community organisers.

The great myth of Canadian tolerance and multiculturalism is promulgated through the theatrical celebration of the 3 C’s of being an “ethnic minority” in Canada – costume, culinary, and customs. So long as the underlying values (white-supremacist, elite, capitalist, patriarchal, heterosexist, ableist) of this society are not questioned, let alone challenged, the great Canadian myth is allowed to persist, unfettered and unchecked.

In the face of this professed tolerance and multiculturalism, Black people in Canada continue to be removed from the historical and cultural landscape. They do appear as a blip on the radar screen when they are used to display Canada’s role in facilitating their escape from American slavery through the Underground Railway. Conveniently omitted from such histories, however, is the fact that Canadian luminaries like James McGill (of McGill University fame) owned slaves, both Black and Aboriginal.[22] As Dionne Brand and Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta suggest, “While it takes less than one generation for a white immigrant to become Canadian, two centuries of Black settlement is still not incorporated into the image of Canada.”[23] The last several decades have seen a significant migration of Black people from the West Indies as well as from sub-Saharan Africa. Black people who have either recently arrived to Canada or those who can trace their ancestry back many generations within Canada can readily attest to the systemic and institutional racism that characterises Canadian society. This is not a difficult task for it is a reality felt in everyday life, whether at school, in the playground, at work or in the community.

Police brutality against the Black population serves as a strong surrogate marker of the systemic racism they have to face on a daily basis. The murders of Anthony Griffin (an unarmed black man shot in the head after complying with an officer’s order to halt while attempting to flee in Montreal in 1987) and Marcellus François (an unarmed black man shot in the head by the Montreal police’s Tactical Squad while sitting in his car in a flagrant case of mistaken identity in 1991) caused significant outcry, yet remain an all-too-frequent occurrence in Canada.[24] This is lamentably only the tip of the iceberg of a pervasive brutality faced by Black communities across the country. Black communities (and other ghettoised communities) in Canada are targeted in ways which are comparable only to police harassment and repression faced by Aboriginal people. Meanwhile, police forces across the country consistently harass, abuse and brutalise homeless people (e.g. the brutal September 5, 1999 beating of Jean-Pierre Lizotte at the hands of Montreal police outside of Shed Café; the “poet of Bordeaux”, as he was affectionately known, ultimately died of complications from his beating a month later), mentally ill individuals (e.g. Albert Moses was a mentally unstable man who was shot in the head on September 30, 1994 by Toronto police for allegedly attacking a plainclothes police officer with a hammer), as well as members of racial and ethnic minorities already mentioned.[25] It remains instructive that in the overwhelming majority of these cases, the police officers involved in these murders were rarely investigated or disciplined; if they were, most were soon exonerated and often reinstated into their respective, or another, police force. None, to my knowledge, served significant (if any) prison terms. As Pedicelli suggests in her important work, When Police Kill, the “police are more prone to use force when dealing with visible minorities and the poor.”[26] There should be no distinction made between a given police force and the provincial/federal superstructures which give it life; the police force is a public institution, and therefore reflects the state on whose behalf it acts.

Challenging the Canadian myth

The spin doctors shaping public opinion promulgate the lie that Canada was/is not involved in the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. What’s worse is that, to this day, many Canadians have accepted this bait hook, line and sinker. If a state is so obviously deceitful with its own population (and Canadian history is replete with such examples), it absolves Canadians from any burden of loyalty they may feel towards it.

The argument being advanced here is that only upon extricating ourselves from the myth which holds Canada as a beacon of light amidst a sea of immorality will we be able to critically analyse its intentions and actions. People should not feel a sense of indebtedness to Canada simply because they were allowed to immigrate here, were granted citizenship here, or happened to be born here. Admittedly, there are freedoms in Canada which do not exist in other countries. However, this should not be used to excuse the excesses and transgressions of the Canadian state, of which there are many. There is no reason to be an apologist for a state that continues to implement policies which harm people who reside both within and outside of Canada.

Indeed, through its various involvements (as a military arms supplier, through the support of transnational corporations, etc.), Canada has had a significant hand to play in the imperialistic exploitation and disempowerment of people in other countries, often creating the very atmosphere which fosters cycles of despair leading to forced displacement and eventual immigration. That people wish to settle here as a result should not be regarded as a privilege for them, but rather as the responsibility of the Canadian state for having uprooted many of them in the first place. Further, by forcing migrants to accept the “model minority” hypothesis, Canada successfully prevents any tangible links of understanding or struggle to be forged between non-white migrants and Indigenous peoples.[27] Meanwhile, Canada’s on-going attack on youth and the elderly, as well as the poor and the working class are important to analyse if one is to gain an appreciation of how Canada’s “domestic” policies contrast sharply with its unsubstantiated international reputation as a broker of peace and justice abroad.[28]

Many would like to believe (much as they do in the United States when evoking the notion that the Constitution was a pure and utopian tract) that Canada is “lost”, as though it has fallen from grace. This is clearly not the case. Canada’s existence has always been, and continues to be, predicated on the exploitation of marginalised and oppressed populations. Whenever these populations have risen up to fight for their rights, they have been met with swift and violent repression by the Canadian state. Amidst these acts of Canadian tyranny, however, history is punctuated by victories of people’s movements. We should be responsible to those who have struggled and fought courageously before us to allow us the freedoms we presently enjoy. This responsibility can only be fulfilled if we, too, recognise that we will have to fight tooth and nail so that we, our children and children’s children may live in a world where freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.

This recognition necessarily requires that Canadians confront the state in its on-going meddling and intrusion in the affairs of Indigenous peoples. Aside for paying necessary reparations, the Canadian state must cease and desist from any interference with the lives of Indigenous peoples. At the very least, Canada has to respect its treaties with Indigenous nations and peoples. Even among radical activists critical of the Canadian state, foreign (imperialist) policy is often attacked vociferously while Canadian involvement in Aboriginal affairs is glossed over or simply paid lip service in order to convey a “thorough” and “legitimate” anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist analysis. As “Canadians”, we have a responsibility to tangibly support Indigenous struggles by forging links of solidarity while simultaneously opposing the Canadian state’s on-going exploitation of Aboriginal peoples. We must view our “solidarity as logical, natural and necessary, given our position within the ‘belly of the beast’. In concretely targeting the roots of injustice here, we oppose injustice everywhere.”[29]

There is no pristine Canadian past which exists to be reclaimed. This is a figment of people’s imagination. It is a myth conveniently used to alleviate the guilt which continuously grows in the Canadian collective psyche so long as Canadians freeload on the work of others, past and present. It is high time that those of us residing in Canada exorcise this false past and start taking responsibility for our present and future.

I would like to acknowledge the support and insightful criticisms provided by Devin Butler Burke and Shelly (both from the IPSM collective in Montreal) in the writing of this article. The responsibility for any omissions and/or errors, however, remains my own.

Samir is an organiser with the Montreal-based Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement. He is trained as a medical doctor, specialising in the field of children’s health. He can be reached at samirhussain006@yahoo.ca.

Endnotes

1. “James Pitawanakwat’s Statement to the Court.” The Gustafsen Lake Crisis: Statements from the Ts’Peten Defenders. Kersplebedeb Distribution: Montreal, 2001, p.35. (Originally published by the Anarchist Black Cross Federation in collaboration with Settlers in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty)

2. http://coat.ncf.ca/articles/links/canada_s_secret_contribution.htm. Also see Stephen Kerr, “Meet Canada, the Global Arms Dealer” June 3, 2003. En Camino.

3. http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/12/10/iraqcontracts_031210

4. Podur, Justin. “Canada For Anti-Imperialists” (Parts 1 and 2). ZNet. July 3, 2004. https://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=11&ItemID=5817

5. Milloy, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986. University of Manitoba Press: Winnipeg, 1999. Note that “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” falls under Article IIe of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. More specifically on the latter, see: Chrisjohn, Roland, Pierre Loiselle, Lisa Nussey, Andrea Smith and Tara Sullivan. “Darkness Visible: Canada’s War Against Indigenous Children”. Peacemedia, Special Report. Quebec Public Interest Research Group, McGill University: Montreal, Spring 2001.

6. For the Canadian Press release, see: http://www.ocap.ca/firstnations/lesspress.html

7. Although the FNGA was indeed defeated, Bill S-16 is being regarded by some as the FNGA’s successor. Meanwhile, community-specific legislation with the same ultimate intent (of undermining Aboriginal title to land) is being pushed one community at a time (e.g. Bill S-24, a.k.a. the Kanesatake Interim Land Base Governance Act). Janice G.A.E. Switlo is a lawyer who has written extensively on related matters. Her articles can be retrieved at: http://www.switlo.com.

8. Hall, Anthony J. The American Empire and The Fourth World. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal, 2003, p.19. For more comprehensive accounts of what transpired at Gustafsen Lake, see (among others): Janice G.A.E. Switlo’s Gustafsen Lake: Under Siege and Splitting The Sky’s The Autobiography of Dacajewiah “Splitting The Sky” John Boncore Hill: From Attica to Gustafsen Lake.

9. Mackey, Eva. The House of Difference: Cultural Politics and National Identity in Canada. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 2002, p.34.

10. Pedicelli, Gabriella. When Police Kill: Police Use of Force in Montreal and Toronto. Véhicule Press: Montreal, 1998, p.16. On the role and history of the RCMP, see also Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, p.274.

11. Regarding the 1990 resistance in Kanesatake see York, Geoffrey and Loreen Pindera. People of the Pines: The Warriors and the Legacy of Oka. McArthur and Company Publishing Limited: Toronto, 1999. Regarding the 1995 resistance in Ipperwash, see Edwards, Peter. One Dead Indian: The Premier, The Police and the Ipperwash Crisis. Stoddart Publishing Company Limited: Toronto, 2001. Aside for the sources mentioned in [1] and [8], regarding the resistance at Gustafsen Lake, see also Matthiessen, Peter. In The Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI’s War on the American Indian Movement. Penguin Books: New York, 1992. It is worth mentioning here that Splitting the Sky and others have done important work to show how military interventions against Indigenous communities may have been used as training grounds for the Canadian military’s secret, elite “commando” unit, Joint Task Force 2. On this matter, in spite of his potentially questionable political sympathies, one is directed to David Pugliese’s Canada’s Secret Commandos: The Unauthorized Story of Joint Task Force Two. Esprit de Corps Books: Ottawa, 2002.

12. Malcolm X Speaks. Grove Press Inc.: New York, 1981, p.9.

13. Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. Bantam Books: New York, 1970, p.277-90, 391-394.

14. http://canada.justice.gc.ca/en/dept/pub/rev/lpreno.html. For a cogent rebuttal of Anne McLennan’s position, see http://www.freepeltier.org/allmand3_110199.htm#top.

15. Matthiessen, p.110. See also Johanna Brand’s The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash. James Lorimer: Toronto, 1993.

16. Leonard Peltier Statement on John Grahams’ Extradition Hearing, dated December 6, 2004, received via email. (On file).

17. For more information about John Graham’s Defense Committee, see http://www.grahamdefense.org. It should be noted that Anna Mae Pictou Aquash’s daughters have previously called for the support of extraditing John Graham. Their website can be accessed at http://www.indigenouswomenforjustice.org/.

18. Hall, p.207.

19. Aside for the copious documentation of these events in more academic texts, one is directed to Joy Kogawa’s Obasan (Penguin: Toronto, 1983), which is regarded as the first novel on the Japanese Canadian evacuation, internment and dispersal.

20. Maher Arar is a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was deported to Syria where he endured significant torture in Autumn 2002 after being arrested at JFK airport while returning from a visit to relatives in Tunisia. Adil Charkoui is one of the “Secret Trial Five”, and has been imprisoned in Canada without charges under secret evidence since May 2003. Mohamed Cherfi is a respected community organiser and was spokesperson for the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians in Montreal who (among other things) worked tirelessly to push for the regularisation of Algerian refugees. On February 10, 2004, Cherfi sought sanctuary in a Quebec City church. On March 9, 2004, his sanctuary was violated when he was forcibly removed by Quebec City police, handed over to Canadian immigration officials and deported to the United States. He is at great risk for being deported to Algeria (where his life would be in danger) while supporters attempt to repatriate him to Canada.

21. For more information about, or to support Adil Charkaoui’s case, contact: justiceforadil@riseup.net; for Mohamed Cherfi’s case: solimo2004@yahoo.fr.

22. Trudel, Marcel. Deux siècles d’esclavage au Québec. Éditions Hurtubise HMH Ltée : Montréal, 2004. For a veritable “who’s who” of slave-owners in what is now the province of Québec, see Trudel, Marcel. Dictionnaire des esclaves et de leurs propriétaires au Canada Français. Éditions Hurtubise HMH Ltée : LaSalle, 1990.

23. Brand, Dionne and Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta. Rivers Have Sources, Trees Have Roots: Speaking of Racism. Cross Cultural Communication Centre: Toronto, 1986, p.3.

24. Pedicelli, p.66-68, 78.

25. The Montreal-based Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière (COBP) organised extensively to bring attention to issues pertaining to police brutality following Lizottte’s death. Regarding the death of Albert Moses, see Pedicelli, p.127.

26. Pedicelli, p.20.

27. For an interesting discussion about the “model minority” hypothesis as well as the multiple mechanisms effectively deployed to impede the formation of links of solidarity between South Asians (Desis) and Blacks in the United States, see: Prashad, Vijay. The Karma of Brown Folk. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 2000.

28. It should be acknowledged that this piece does not adequately discuss how oppressive class and gender dynamics – openly or tacitly introduced and/or reinforced by the Canadian state – affect Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal self-determination.

29. This excerpt is from the Montreal-based Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement’s recently re-drafted mandate. IPSM can be reached at ipsm@resist.ca.

~
thanks: ZNet

Canada’s Genocide [Doc Film]

October 23, 2007 Leave a comment

கனடாவின் இனப் படுகொலை (ஆவணப் படம்); “UNREPENTANT”

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-6637396204037343133&q=unrepentant&total=124&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

மேலும் புரிதல்களுக்கு: வரலாற்றிலிருந்துமறைக்கப்பட்டவை

Come Clean Canada!

October 23, 2007 Leave a comment

For Immediate Release – Media Advisory

Monday 22 October, 2007

“Come Clean Canada!
Where are the Bodies of 50,000 Children?”

a123707-vx residental schools natives
In the Face of Continued Duplicity and Cover-up, a Genuine Investigation into Genocide in Canada is Finally Launched:

Kevin Annett to Commence Speaking and Organizing Tour
in Eastern Canada

Ottawa: The man who blew the lid off the deaths of thousands of children in Canadian Indian Residential Schools is arriving in the nation’s capital this Tuesday, October 23 to help launch a genuine inquiry into their fate.

Reverend Kevin Annett, award-winning producer of the film UNREPENTANT and author of the ground-breaking book Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust, compelled the Harper government last April to raise the issue of disappeared residential school children in the House of Commons. Annett is returning to Ottawa this week to throw some hard questions at the government.

In a recent letter to Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl, Annett asked,

“Would we have let serial killer Clifford Olson run the inquiry into the location and fate of his murdered victims? Or help him avoid imprisonment by issuing ‘apologies’ and a bit of money to this victims’ families? Then why are we allowing and paying for far more prolific killers to do exactly that towards their 50,000 victims, those killers being the Roman Catholic, Anglican and United Church of Canada?”

In response to Mr. Strahl’s recent announcement that a church-affiliated “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” would be responsible for “investigating” the deaths of children in residential schools run by these very same churches, a coalition of native and non-native groups has launched The International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC) to win full disclosure concerning the fate and location of these children, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

To further this inquiry, Kevin Annett is conducting a six city speaking tour in Quebec and Ontario between October 23 and November 3. A public lecture in Ottawa will be his first appearance in a total of 14 speaking and film engagements in eastern Canada, which will be followed by an extended group of lectures and other actions in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations in March, 2008.

Following on his recent invitation to participate in the prestigious Echenberg International Conference on Genocide at McGill University in Montreal that featured Gen. Romeo Daillaire, Annett announced his intent to bring the evidence of genocide in Canadian Residential Schools to the General Assembly of the United Nations this spring. Annett is supported in this quest by many grass roots aboriginal people and traditional elders across Canada.

According to Ojibway elder Chief Louis Daniels of Winnipeg,
who survived Brandon residential school,

“Kevin Annett is the one white man who has made our voice be heard. For nearly fifteen years he has sacrificed everything to bring out the truth of crimes committed by the churches and government against our people, and to win justice for residential school survivors. So I adopted him as my son in the spring of 2004 and gave him the name Eagle Strong Voice to recognize that he is the fulfillment of the prophecy among my people, that one day a white man would help us recover our voice. I ask you to listen to him and receive him and his work”.

Besides meeting with politicians and church leaders, Kevin Annett will be speaking and screening his film UNREPENTANT to academics, residential school survivors and the general public at these times and venues:

Tuesday, October 23: Ottawa
2:00 pm: University of Ottawa, Aboriginal Resource Centre, University Centre, 3rd floor.

6:45 pm: Carleton University, Rm. 435, St. Patrick’s Bldg (1125 Colonel By Drive)

Thursday, October 25: Montreal
1:00 – 9:00 pm: Course lectures at Concordia University

Friday, October 26: Montreal
10:00 am – 12:30 pm: McGill University, School of Social Work, Wendy Patrick Room (3506 University St. at Milton)

Monday, October 29: Windsor
7:00 pm – University of Windsor, Vanier Hall, The Oak Room (401 Sunset Ave.)

Tuesday, October 30: London
2:00 pm: Fanshawe Social Justice Lecture (TBA)*

7:00 pm: Medix School, 1299 Oxford St. E.

Wednesday, October 31: London
12 noon: King’s College, Wemple Student Lunge

7:00 pm: Medix School, 1299 Oxford St. E.

Thursday, November 1: Hamilton
1:00 pm: McMaster University (TBA)*

7:00 pm: Solidarity House, 779 Barton St. East

Friday, November 2: Toronto
1:00 pm: Ryerson University (TBA)*

6:30 pm: University of Toronto (TBA)*

Saturday, November 3: Toronto
4 pm: Leaves for Vancouver

* Note: For information on the location of these meetings, or to arrange media interviews with him, contact Kevin Annett at hiddenfromhistory@yahoo.ca or 1-888-265–1007.

Issued 21-22 October, 2007
http://www.hiddenfromhistory.org

To access Kevin’s award-winning film UNREPENTANT (Best Documentary Film, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, March 2007), see this link:

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-6637396204037343133&q=unrepentant&total=124&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Read and Hear the truth of Genocide in Canada, past and present, at this website: www.hiddenfromhistory.org

Free Burma!

October 3, 2007 2 comments

வெளியில் நல்ல மழை பெய்கிறது. மதியம் 3 மணி.. இன்று மாலை 6 மணிக்கு, சீன தூதுவராலயத்தின் முன்னால், பர்மா/மியன்மாரில் அரசால் மக்கள் தாக்கப்படுவதற்கு எதிரான ஒரு அமைதி ஊர்வலம் நடக்க இருக்கிறது. Bloor இற்கு வடக்காக 240 St. George st. இலிருந்து ஆரம்பித்து குயின்ஸ் பார்க்கை நோக்கி எதிர்ப்பாளர்கள் செல்ல இருக்கிறார்கள். 1000பேர்வரை விழா ஒருங்கிணைப்பாளர்கள் எதிர்பார்க்கிறார்கள்… ரொறன்ரோவாசிகள் கலந்துகொள்வார்ளாக!
Thursday, October 04, 2007 10:41 AM
Subject: Burma Demo Saturday Oct 6, 6:00 pm Toronto

GLOBAL MARCH
for the people of Burma
Led by Monks

Saturday October 6, 2007. 6pm.

Beginning in front of the
Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China

240 St. George st. 2 blocks north of Bloor.
March to Queen’s Park for rally and candlelight vigil

Why?

Because thousands are being tortured and killed in
peaceful demonstrations and the people still don’t have their democracy.

It’s on the news: http://www.irrawaddy.org

“Use your liberty to help promote ours!”
-Aung San Suu Kyi, Noble Peace Laureate and leader of democracy in Burma

Expected Numbers: 1000.
Join the world.
This Saturday.
Wear Red.
Bring a Candle.
And 10 friends.

CONFIRMED:
WE’LL BE WALKING ACROSS BLOOR AND DOWN UNIVERISTY.
TALK ABOUT VISIBILITY!!!

Want more info?
http://torontoburmaroundtable.wordpress.com

organized by the Toronto Burma Roundtable and the
Burmese Students’ Democratic Organization

Join Facebook Group: Toronto for Burma

[இது இன்று ஒக்டோபர் 10 – 2007 உள்ளிடப்பட்டது]

What is Canadian Action for Burma?

burmamonksprotest
Despite brutal crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators, the continual
demonstrations have been widespread throughout other cities, and surprisingly
the Canadian government seems to be indifferent. According to the latest
sources from inland Burma, around 550 innocent civilians, including monks,
were killed and 6, 000 imprisoned so far.

The Chinese regime has played a key role to support the Burmese despotic
junta. In fact, China abused the veto power by rejecting resolutions when
Burma’s issue was decided in the UN Security Council on January 12, 2007.
Resolving Burma’s political problems is an urgent effort for China to embrace
a peaceful Olympic games in 2008.

Nothing less than a UN peacekeeping mission in Burma is needed now. These
unfolding lawless atrocities are telling of our world today; of our level of
complacency in face of the suffering of others and of our capacity for
response. Canadians are currently looking to their leaders to see if they
will actively support and uphold their values beyond national borders.

We would like to see Canada live up to its reputation as a human rights
champion. We support a Canada who will actively respond to the needs of
suffering people in Burma by listening to their demands: a national
reconciliation and democratization process. This means withdrawing the
investment of our Canadian companies like Ivanhoe Mining and actively urging
the Chinese regime to increase pressure on the Burmese military junta.

The public has always played an integral role in garnering awareness
necessary for international support and positive change. We appreciate your
presence.

DEMONSTRATION
Wednesday Oct. 3 at 6pm
in front of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China
240 St. George St. (2 blocks north of Bloor St.)


GLOBAL MARCH & CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

Saturday Oct 6 at 6pm
Beginning in front of the Chinese Consulate’s office and will march to Queen’
s Park

Contacts: mintura wynn at 416-533-3656 or 416-882-3868 (c), Paul Copeland
416-946-8126 Ext. 142
Ulla Laidlaw at 416-605-2588, Carol Lee at 647-588-9758

Organized by the Toronto-Burma Roundtable & the Burmese Students’ Democratic
Organization

Related Links:
Sign Petitions
Free Burma
Photo taken from: Canadian Friends of Burma