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Indigenous Peoples

    September 23, 2016

     “Ninety-five percent of my food is what I eat off of the land.” – Inuit hunter quoted in Harvard University study of potential health impacts of the Muskrat Falls dam 

    In a matter of days, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador could begin the first phase of flooding for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam. Doing so will set off a chain of events that will threaten the health and culture of downstream Inuit hunters and fishers for generations to come.

    Threats to food and culture ignored

    A 2015 peer reviewed scientific study concluded that the Muskrat Falls dam would increase levels of deadly methylmercury flowing into the downstream Lake Melville estuary by at least 25 percent and potentially by as much as 200 percent. 

    A follow-up study released earlier this year warned that  almost half of the Inuit community of Rigolet would be exposed to methylmercury levels in seals and other wild foods exceeding Canadian health guidelines, with exposure increasing by up to 1500% for some individuals.

    September 11, 2016

    "Keeping the Promise: Treaty Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Site C dam"

    Wednesday, September 13th, 1-2:30 pm Eastern

    A legal challenge now before the Federal Court of Appeal could determine the fate of a river valley vital to the cultures, heritage and traditions of Indigenous peoples in northeast British Columbia.  Beyond the protection of the Peace River Valley, the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations legal challenge to the Site C dam has far reaching implications because it concerns the fundamental question of the legal protections owed to Indigenous peoples when governments make decisions about large-scale resource development projects.

    Watch the  webinar here.

    Panel discussion featuring

    September 03, 2016

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    July 12, 2016

    by Craig Benjamin, Indigneous Rights Campaigner
     

    Imagine this: 

    Hundreds of people - First Nations, Métis and non-Indigenous - out on canoes and kayaks to celebrate  the  beauty of the  Peace River and show their determination to protect the land from the massive destruction that would be caused by the Site C dam.

    This was the scene last weekend at the 11th annual Paddle for the Peace in northeast BC. The event brought together people from throughout the province, across the country, and indeed around the world. Our colleagues from KAIROS even brought an entire busload of paddlers from Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.

    360 panorama photo -- click and drag to view the full scene

    June 21, 2016

    By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Think about this.

    A community devastated by the massive release of mercury into the rivers on which they depend.

    Credible scientific studies showing that a half century later the people are still suffering from the debilitating effects of mercury poisoning and that even their children are being harmed.

    Further studies that show that the mercury is not going away and that fish from the river will continue to be unsafe for years to come unless something is done.

    New allegations that an illegal toxic dump near the river could increase the mercury contamination ten-fold and leave the river unsafe for almost a century to come.

    This is the story of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario. It’s a situation that cries out for justice.

    Now consider how the federal and provincial governments have responded.

    May 25, 2016

     

    By Craig Benjamin

    "Clean the English-Wabigoon River System. Water is sacred." Judy da Silva, Grassy Narrows First Nation

    February 19, 2016

    Before and after images show destruction that has already occurred as construction of Site C dam presses ahead
     

    Indigenous activist explains the importance of halting the Site C dam

    When Helen Knott talks about the importance of the Peace Valley, she inevitably also talks about her grandmother. About time spent together out on the land, learning the stories that have been passed down through the generations. Learning the skills of how to live on the land. And trying to ensure that this knowledge can be passed on to her own son.

    “All my grandmother’s stories are connected to land,” says Helen. “It’s like that for our elders. You have to be on the land to be able to share those memories.”

    January 26, 2016
    “This is a great day for First Nations children and all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness.” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    In a landmark decision issued today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the federal government’s longstanding underfunding of child and family services on First Nations reserves and in the Yukon is a form of racial discrimination that must be stopped.

    January 20, 2016

    “Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice,” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    Education. Health Care. Child protection.

    For years, persistent federal government underfunding of these basic services in First Nations reserves has put  children at risk. It has denied them the kinds of opportunities that other young people in Canada often take for granted. And it has stood in the way of First Nations communities healing from the terrible harms inflicted through the residential schools programme and other colonialist policies.

    Now, we may be on the verge of an historic breakthrough.

    Next Tuesday, January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited decision on whether or not the federal government’s underfunding of child protections services and other family supports is a form of racial discrimination.

    January 07, 2016

    The province of British Columbia is pushing ahead with construction of a hydro-electric megaproject in the Peace River Valley despite unresolved legal challenges from First Nations. A camp set up by community members at an historic site in the path of BC Hydro's efforts to clear the planned reservoir has led to a temporary halt in logging. But the community members now face the risk of arrest for their actions.

    The rapidly evolving situation highlights the urgent need for the federal government to honour its Treaty commitments by suspending all federal licenses and permits for the project so that the underlying issues of Constitutionally-protected rights and due process can be addressed.

    The following is a press released issued by the community members.

     

    First Nations Prepare for Arrest to Stop Site C Dam
    Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land call on Trudeau to stop megadam in B.C.'s Peace Valley

    December 14, 2015

    By Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

    Every day, federal and provincial governments make decisions about resource development projects. Some are relatively benign decisions, with few or no impacts on First Nations rights. Others carry the potential for massive and irreversible impacts on the rights of First Nations.

    British Columbia’s planned Site C hydroelectric dam falls into the latter category. It will have devastating impacts on the rights and territories of Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. Approval for Site C means approval for flooding the last pristine stretch of the Peace River valley west of Fort St. John, turning it into a massive reservoir.

    November 25, 2015

    A new report released today by Statistics Canada shows that Indigenous people are six times more likely than other people in Canada to be murdered.

    Amnesty International has long called for systematic, publicly available data on the Aboriginal identity of both the victims and perpetrators of violence. Such data can be crucial to better understand and eliminate violence.

    When the first national statistics on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were released in 2014 by the RCMP ("Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: An National Operational Overview")  the data was widely misrepresented and oversimplified in public debate. The numbers show a complex and pervasive pattern of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Amnesty International is still reviewing the data in the latest report, but we feel it is important to emphasize the following:

    November 24, 2015

    Respect for Indigenous peoples' right of free, prior and informed (FPIC) must be a matter of urgent priority for any government committed to a respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.

    This is part of a message to the the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet from Indigenous peoples' organizations, human rights groups, environmentalists and others.

    In an open letter sent today, 16 organizations from across Canada called on the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples’ governments and organizations to ensure that:

    November 09, 2015

    Inuit people in Labrador who depend on the Lake Melville estuary to hunt and fish are concerned about the impact of a large hydro-electric dam being built upstream. They are particularly concerned that the dam will lead to methylmercury contamination of fish and seals, rendering them unsafe to eat.

    The Inuit government of Nunatsiavut has not opposed the Muskrat Falls dam. But it has called for rigorous measures to protect the health and livelihoods of its people. These measures include a full clearing of the reservoir before flooding to reduce the amount of methylmercury produced, establishment of a downstream monitoring program designed and overseen by an independent expert advisory committee; and significant Inuit participation in high-level environmental monitoring and management decisions.  

    October 28, 2015

    Indigenous women from Val d’Or, Quebec, a small town located about 500km northwest of Montreal, alleged that officers from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ, Quebec’s provincial police) have committed serious crimes against them, including physical and sexual assault.

    According to a report aired last week on the Radio Canada program Enquête, SQ officers are alleged to have “routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold.” Some of the women interviewed by Radio Canada also allege that they were “physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.”

    These allegations are extremely serious. But although law enforcement and government officials have known about the allegations since May, it wasn’t until the Radio Canada report aired that the eight officers under investigation for sexual misconduct were put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.

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