Atomizing Dissent

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Mining on trial

Waving ‘bye’ to the Wheat Board

Retiring dirty investments

Atomizing

Dissent

The Media

Co-op $5

www.mediacoop.ca

Uranium deals and community resistance

in Saskatchewan’s north, pg. 14

issue

91

Nov

Dec

2013

www.dominionpaper.ca


Contents

2

3

Letters

Back Talk

compiled by

Moira Peters

Front Lines

Jailed migrants,

Indigenous

blockades, violence

in Iraq, Guatemala

by Media Co-op

Contributors

In Memoriam

4 In Loving Memory of

Palmira Boutillier

Vancouver

5 Media Co-op

‘Namwayut: We

Are All One

by murray bush –

flux photo

6

7

Toronto

Media Co-op

My Letter to Rob Ford

by Taylor Flook

Halifax

Media Co-op

Queer Struggles are

Class Struggles

by Shay Enxuga

14

17

Halifax

8 Media Co-op

Anishinaabe Student

Files Human Rights

Complaint Against

Dalhousie

by Miles Howe

9

Halifax

Media Co-op

Penobsquis: “New

Brunswick’s Dirty Little

Secret”

by Rana Encol

Farming

10 Wheat Next?

by Kyle Farquharson

First Peoples

12 “My Generation Has Stood

Up and Said ‘No More’”

by Aaron Lakoff

COVER Story

Uranium’s Chilling Effects

by Sandra Cuffe

Divestment

Unfair Shares

by Tim McSorley

& Dawn Paley

The Cost of Doctors’

(and Nurses’) Orders

This kind of “old boy” injustice within medicine

(and related fields) needs to be outed and stamped

out (“Medical Errors” by Brendan K. Edwards,

Issue 90: September/October 2013). It has gone

on for a long time as a form of bullying, a product

of an “exclusive club” that one must often walk

through fire to join. I’ve seen it in action throughout

my career.

Review committees are needed, to look at “errors”

as an opportunity for all to learn and try to

pick out where the “error” began so as to modify

the system―not to point fingers, and certainly not

to punish the whistleblowers.

In nursing, it takes the form of who is most

“macho,” and I say this of a field dominated by

women (though that is changing): Who can work

the most double shifts? Who can stay overtime

(often unpaid) the longest? Who can “handle” the

vociferous, most challenging patients (i.e., restrain

BACK

TALK

Compiled by Moira Peters

Mining

The End of Impunity? 18

by Arij Riahi

20

22

23

24

Vancouver

Media Co-op

An Upstream Battle

by Nat Marshik

Montreal

Media Co-op

Canadians Freed from

Cairo Prison

by Montreal Media Co-op

Montreal

Media Co-op

Lessons in Colonialism

by Matthew Brett

Toronto

Media Co-op

Conservatives

Commemorate “Victims of

Communism”

by Saira Peesker

Comic

26 In Too Deep

by Heather Meek

them, shut them up). Often these women end

up riddled with orthopedic problems, old before

their time, and with no lives of their own. In their

defense, often the double shifts and overscheduling

is taken on to support a family, put the kids

through school, or because a husband skipped out.

The worst thing about all of this is the coverup

of grievous errors, as your article reports. The

system badly needs to recognize the need to take

care of the caregivers.

Kudos to you for writing about this.

Finally, one small correction: “intercranial”

should read “intracranial.”

—Eloise Vantassel,

Sebastopol, CA, USA

Got a little backtalk for us? Send letters to info@

mediacoop.ca. Letters and comments may be

edited for length and clarity. Anonymous letters

and comments may not be published; those with

an accompanying address will be prioritized.

The Dominion magazine

is part of the Media Co-op, a

pan-Canadian media network

that seeks to provide a

counterpoint to the corporate

media and to direct attention

to independent critics and the

work of social movements.

The Dominion is published six

times per year in print and on

the web.

Publisher

The Dominion

Newspaper Co-operative

Board of Directors

Maryann Abbs (VMC)

Crystel Hajjar (contributor)

Sharmeen Khan (reader)

Dru Oja Jay (editor)

Tim McSorley (editor)

Dawn Paley (editor)

Justin Saunders (TMC)

Editorial Collective

Roddy Doucet

Miles Howe

Nat Marshik

Tim McSorley

Dawn Paley

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Editors-at-Large

Correy Baldwin

Sandra Cuffe

Stefanie Gude

Stephanie Law

Hillary Lindsay

Martin Lukacs

Dru Oja Jay

Michèle Marchand

Dave Mitchell

Moira Peters

Fact Checkers

Garson Hunter

Nadeem Lawji

Copy Editing

Co-ordinator

Ashley Fortier

Copy Editors

Claire Abraham

Ashley Fortier

Oliver Fugler

Simon Granovsky-Larsen

Alison Jacques

Lisa Richmond

Graphic Design

ALL CAPS Design

Cover Artist

Rebecca Roher

2

To find new subscribers, we occasionally exchange mailing lists with like-minded organizations

for one-time mailings. If you prefer not to receive such mailings, please

email membership@mediacoop.ca, or write to the address in the masthead.

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Printed by Kata Soho Design & Printing, www.katasoho.com, in Montreal.

info@dominionpaper.ca

PO Box 741 Station H,

Montreal, QC, H3G 2M7

ISSN 1710-0283

www.dominionpaper.ca

www. mediacoop.ca


Front Lines

Jailed migrants on hunger strike, Indigenous

blockades interrupt extractives, violence erupts

in Iraq, Guatemala

by Media Co-op Contributors

London, Ontario physician Dr. Tarek Loubani and Toronto

filmmaker John Greyson were released from prison in Cairo

after their arrest in mid-August. The day they were arrested,

according to their letter, they witnessed the deaths of at least 50

people. There are an estimated 3,000 political prisoners who

have been jailed in Egypt since the coup.

Almost 200 unjustly jailed migrants are on a hunger strike

after being moved from the Toronto West jail to the Central East

jail, two hours outside of Toronto. “My wife and four daughters

used to see me once a week, but they can’t because this is so far

and transportation is expensive,” Eric Kusi, who is originally from

Liberia, told the Toronto Star. In August, protesters in Laval

denounced the Canadian government’s practice of locking up and

deporting non-status people, a practice which will increase with

the implementation of mandatory detention policies under

Bill C-31.

Chelsea E. Manning made a statement indicating that she

identifies as a woman and prefers female gender pronouns. “As

I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to

know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given

the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin

hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support

me in this transition,” she wrote in a statement released to the

media. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role

in leaking State Department documents to Wikileaks. In our

last issue, we referenced B. Manning and used a male pronoun.

We regret the error; however, the magazine went to print before

Manning’s statement to the press.

Organizers in Kent County, New Brunswick, returned to the

front lines and continued to block SWN Resources seismic testing

operations as the company attempted to return to the area. “We

need people to come and stand with us and say that this is a

last warning. [Seismic testing] is the real lead-up to hydraulic

fracturing, and we’ve been doing this for almost three months,”

Louis Jerome, from Gesgapegiag First Nation, told the Halifax

Media Co-op. Two people were arrested as the blockade got

restarted, and a police cruiser struck a local woman.

Members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation blocked the logging

operations of two companies due to concerns about moose

habitat. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg. There is a sentiment

in the community that there is a lot of overharvesting throughout

the whole area,” Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross told West

Coast Native News.

North of Tsilhqot’in territory, the Tahltan Central Council

celebrated the withdrawal of Fortune Minerals from their

territories. The company’s decision to leave comes after an

The Dominion November/December 2013

A cop patronizes two women at a rally against the detention of non-status

people in Laval, Québec. Photo by Arij Riahi

ongoing camp by members of the Tahltan Nation who believe

strongly in a vision for the Klappan region that does not include

the extractive industries.

The struggle against logging in Grassy Narrows is soon to be

heard before the Supreme Court of Canada, which granted leave

for members of Grassy Narrows to appeal. The legal battle has

been going on for more than 10 years, and a blockade is ongoing,

but the decision to grant an appeal represents an important step.

Seventy-five people in Waterloo held a demo at a city council

meeting to voice their opposition to the reversal of the Line 9

pipeline.

A campaign was launched in Montreal to help long-time

activist lawyer Denis Poitras regain his legal practice, after

years of pro bono cases contributed to his recent declaration of

bankruptcy. Poitras has 1000 cases which will be transferred

unless he can regain his practice; supporters have raised $48,000

of the $60,000 they hope to collect to support him.

The bodies of ten young men who were kidnapped from a

Mexico City nightclub in May were found in a mass grave on

the outskirts of the city, along with a further three corpses. At

least 27,000 people have been “disappeared” in the country since

2006.

In Guatemala, a massacre in the Maya Kaqchikel village of

San José Nacahuil, not far from the nation’s capital city, left 10

dead and 17 wounded. The government blamed gangs for the

killings, but locals and survivors say police are at least partially

responsible.

A series of attacks at a funeral in Iraq left 92 Shiite mourners

dead in a single day. Violence has spiked in Iraq in recent

months, in what the LA Times says is “a level of bloodshed not

seen since 2008.”

3


In Memoriam

In Loving Memory of Palmira Boutillier

The Media Co-op mourns the passing of

Palmira Boutillier. Pal was a contributing

member of the Halifax Media Co-op, a

member of the HMC’s editorial collective

and sat on the Media Co-op’s Board of

Directors as the HMC’s representative.

Originally from Nanaimo, British

Columbia, Palmira was trained as a marine

biologist and worked for years with the

Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 2010, inspired by the desire to bring

scientific knowledge to a wider audience,

Pal enrolled in the journalism program at

King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In

the late summer of 2010, at a ‘freeschool’

workshop in Tatamagouche, Pal was introduced

to the Media Co-op model.

Immediately smitten with the notion of

people-driven journalism, Pal began contributing

a steady stream of professional

audio pieces to the Halifax Media Co-op.

She wrote of shark fishing and sustainable

labelling and helped edit science-based

journalism on a variety of issues. She also

became a key ambassador of the Media

Co-op to the wider Nova Scotia community.

Wherever Palmira went—and her

ebullient and outgoing personality took

her many places—she was constantly

encouraging others to attend a weekly

Halifax Media Co-op meeting, sign up

online, and get involved with the project.

More than this, Pal was a sustainablyminded,

community-oriented activist

without any pretensions. Pal was the one

giving the free yoga classes at Occupy

Nova Scotia. Pal would be the one rubbing

a friend’s feet. She was also an organic

farmer, not afraid to get her hands dirty,

or bale hay from sunrise to sunset. She

contributed to the health of the Halifax

community and beyond, and her death has

come as a shock to her widespread Atlantic

family.

In the future, the Halifax Media Co-op

hopes to establish a yearly bursary dedicated

to scientific journalism in Palmira’s

honour.

4

The Dominion November/December 2013


Vancouver Media Co-op

‘Namwayut:

We Are All One

Marching for Truth & Reconciliation

A steady downpour couldn’t dampen

the spirits of 70,000 participants during

a march through Coast Salish Territory

in Vancouver. The walk, sponsored

by Reconciliation Canada, wrapped

up a week of hearings by the federal

Truth & Reconciliation Commission

(TRC) into the attempted genocide of

aboriginal peoples via government

funded residential schools. The next

day, activists held a die-in (photo below)

outside a private meeting of federal

representatives and Native leaders on

support for BC pipelines. Corporate

sponsors for the TRC hearings included

Enbridge and TransCanada pipelines.

The hearings were

one of several that

have been held

across the country.

The Commission was

formed as part of the

Indian Residential

Schools Settlement

and is expected to

report its findings to

Ottawa next year. The

carefully orchestrated

walk managed to

avoid the Downtown

Eastside—home to

one of the largest

inner city aboriginal

populations in the

country. Photos by

murray bush - flux

photo

The Dominion November/December 2013

5


Toronto Media Co-op

My Letter to Rob Ford

by Taylor Flook

Dear Mayor Ford,

As the mayor of this

city, you are charged

with the safety and concern

of all its people, not

just the ones you like or

with whom you identify. I am a cyclist who

has suffered an accident because there was

no bike lane for me to ride in. Right after

the accident, good people got out of their

cars, helped me to the side of the road and

stayed with me while we waited for the

ambulance to arrive. I was quite shaken

up and these perfect strangers showed

me a world of compassion. The police

who appeared on the scene deemed that a

bike lane would have prevented the whole

thing.

The response time for emergency services

was excellent and the personnel was

kind and very professional. I’m glad this

city still spends tax dollars on these lifesaving

services.

I arrived at the hospital and waited for

a bed to become available. As I lay there,

still bloody, with my tooth in a rubber

glove beside me, I thought of your words.

I thought of the fact that according to you

what happened to me was my fault and

that if I had died, as many have before me,

you wouldn’t have lost a wink of sleep and

you would have blamed me—simply for

trying to bike in this city.

I am taking the time to write to you

because I have just been through a neardeath

experience and it has provided some

clarity on what is really important in life.

Whether you have been a decent mayor

is not what I want to discuss; what’s more

important is whether you have been a

decent human being. You have decided

that cyclists are not of concern to you; you

have made up a paranoid delusion that

there is a “war on the car” and have made

people believe it. You believe that “car

people” and “bike people” are somehow

different classes and you have done what

you can to pit these groups against each

other. Worst of all, you have forgotten

what it means to be a compassionate

6

The author, following her bike accident. Photo courtesy of Taylor Flook

loving person capable of empathy and

remorse. I really think you should take

time out from city politics to get back

in touch with these qualities—the qualities

you claimed to have when you were

elected. People haven’t launched a “war on

the car,” but you have spun fear into the

hearts of drivers and bikers alike, making

them believe otherwise.

What I witnessed after my accident

reflected the exact opposite reality. Folks

came together and helped me in my time

of need. No one thought of each other as a

“car person” or a “bike person” but rather

as people who are sharing this experience

of living in this great city of Toronto and

willing to help each other when we are

down.

I am still recovering, but I will be getting

back on the road. This has not deterred

me from wanting to get around this city

on bicycle; most of the time it is a healthy

and environmentally friendly option to get

around and I urge you to try it. If you did

I’m sure you would see how badly more

bike lanes and better education for drivers

are needed to get around safely.

Respect for cyclists isn’t a new idea.

Many cities around the world have far

better infrastructures for cyclists than

Toronto. It has been proven that better

infrastructures for cyclists lower accident

rates and improve driving time for cars as

well.

Please prove my friends wrong and show

that you do indeed have a brain and a

heart and that both are operating in good

condition.

Here’s hoping you take a minute before

reacting to truly hear what I have said.

See you on the road. Please don’t be

on your phone or reading some reports

or giving the finger to mothers and their

children—you might miss me.

Taylor Flook

Taylor Flook is a student of western herbal

medicine, and a sometime organizer with

Rising Tide Toronto who is passionate about

the earth and decolonizing her relationship

to it. Her perspective on cyclist activism

has been radically changed, and she plans

to become more involved in the push for

better cycling infrastructure.

The Dominion November/December 2013


Queer Struggles are Class Struggles

Halifax queer and trans workers at forefront of service worker and barista movement

by Shay Enxuga

Halifax Media Co-op

K’jipuktuk,

(HALIFAX)— “Queer

struggles are class

struggles,” says Charlie

Huntley, a 25-year-old

coffee shop worker, “and

should never be addressed as if they are

isolated issues.”

On the heels of a successful union drive

at Just Us on Spring Garden, and in the

midst of an ongoing battle at Second Cup

on Quinpool, the Baristas Rise Up (BRU)

campaign was initiated as “a workerled

union movement that is fighting to

improve working conditions and industry

standards in precarious and low-waged

café jobs.”

Similar to the Fight for Fifteen that has

exploded across the United States this

year in such cities as New York, Chicago,

Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee, where

low-wage workers are organizing for

dignity, respect, and justice, BRU has

received extensive media coverage.

Often missing from the mainstream

media narrative, however, is an analysis of

the economic undercurrents of this organizing

and how they affect young marginalized

workers.

According to Public Disservice: The

Impact of Federal Government Job Cuts

in Atlantic Canada, a publication of the

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,

the Atlantic provinces are projected to

lose 4,400 full-time public sector jobs by

2015. Moreover, the Atlantic Provinces

Economic Council states that between

2001 and 2010, the region created about

four times more jobs in low-wage than in

high-wage sectors.

In Halifax, a city that swells to accommodate

approximately 30,000 students

annually, the youth unemployment rate in

2012 was alarming: 18.2 per cent, almost

twice the national average for people

age 25 and older. According to a labour

market bulletin, “youth are often the first

to be laid off during economic downturns

and the last to find employment when the

economy begins to rebound.”

Young students may find themselves

The Dominion November/December 2013

Members of Barristas Rise Up on Labour Day in Halifax. Photo by Robin Metcalfe

caught in the double bind of being both

over—and under-qualified—a bind that

leaves them trapped in debt, without a

good job and in poverty, as they try to

pay off student loans while working nonunion,

part-time jobs in retail and food

service.

In a province where young people are

disproportionately unemployed or underemployed,

queer and trans workers can

find themselves clinging to whatever work

they can find and as a result may be more

willing to put up with homophobia and

transphobia on the job.

According to Huntley, BRU is particularly

relevant for queer workers not only

because “this movement started with a

handful of queer and/or trans folks” but

also because there are specific barriers

queer and trans people face when finding

and keeping a job. Injustice at Every Turn,

a 2011 American survey of trans-identified

people, found the unemployment rate for

trans and gender non-conforming people

(14 per cent) was double the national average.

This number increased to more than

four times the national unemployment

rate (28 per cent) for trans people of color.

Thirty-six per cent of trans women and 19

per cent of trans men reported job loss due

to discrimination. Overwhelming, 90 per

cent of respondents reported experiencing

harassment or mistreatment on the job or

took action to avoid it.

Andrew Guthro, 25, who works at Planet

Organic states that “anywhere a queer/

trans person is serving patrons there is

also bound to be expectations, prejudices,

estrangement and discrimination.” This

added pressure leaves Guthro feeling the

need to show that he can be “as useful

and kind a worker—if not more so—as

my straight counterparts. It’s a matter of

always having to prove yourself, from the

schoolyard to the workplace, as just as

valuable as everyone else.”

With a mainstream LGBT movement

that has a shallow analysis of class, it’s

more important than ever to understand

the ways capitalism and queer and trans

oppression reinforce each other. These

theories and experiences need to be

brought together in order to effectively

fight back. And just as the discrimination

that queer and trans workers experience

is unique, so are the assets they can bring

to the labour movement. For queer and

trans people, oppression does not begin or

end at the workplace. They often possess

a broad understanding of social inequality,

creative strategies for resistance and

a basic understanding of the importance

of community, solidarity and collective

strength. If properly used, these skills

make them a fighting force to be reckoned

with.

Shay Enxuga is a queer and trans food

service worker, member of Baristas Rise Up,

and general rabble-rouser.

7


Halifax Media Co-op

Anishinaabe Student Files Human

Rights Complaint Against Dalhousie

University insists no misallocation of Aboriginal funding from Shell Canada

by Miles Howe

Rachelle McKay alleges that a Shell Canada

grant was misallocated when it went to pay for

her summer job. Photo by Miles Howe

K’jipuktuk

(HALIFAX)—Rachelle

McKay, an Anishinaabe

student at Dalhousie

University, is alleging

that the Dalhousie

Student Success Services Office misspent

funding the university obtained through

an agreement with Shell Canada—funding

meant to be allocated for Aboriginal

student support.

She filed a complaint with the University’s

Office of Human Rights, Equity and

Harassment Prevention after resigning

from her student coaching position at

Dalhousie when she learned that Shell

funding for another position was apparently

being diverted for her pay, without

her knowledge.

McKay was hired on April 22, 2013 for

the Student Success Coaching position

through Access and Academic Services at

Dalhousie. While she was hired through

an affirmative action policy—she self-identified

as being an Aboriginal person on her

job application—she also confirms that she

was hired through a regular interviewing

process.

Documents obtained by the Halifax

Media Co-op show that McKay’s letter of

job offer, as well as her job

8 description, did not differ

from those of her other five co-workers.

McKay noted that towards the last week

of July she began working on a “Native

Orientation” event. She estimates that she

spent “less than 10 per cent of her time”

through July and August working on this

event.

McKay also said that during the last

week of July she was given another caseload

of 40 students who had self-identified

as Aboriginal, but that she was not able to

contact those students because plans—and

funding—for the Native Orientation event

weren’t “squared away.”

On August 20, 2013 McKay discovered

that her salary as a Student Success Coach

was coming from a Shell Canada grant for

Aboriginal Student Support.

While the grant itself is a well-known

fact at Dalhousie—indeed it funds two

employees at the Aboriginal Student Success

program, which operates out of the

independently-run Native Post Secondary

Education Counselling Unit—McKay

said she was completely unaware that her

position was being funded through the

grant and that she made the discovery by

accident.

“I found out that specifically my funding,

and not my co-workers, was coming

from the grant provided by Shell Canada

for Aboriginal Student Support. I wasn’t

being paid by Dalhousie, like my co-workers

were,” said McKay.

“I found out through a secretary at the

Academic and Advising office, [who told

me that] two positions supposed to be

funded through the Aboriginal Student

Success program wouldn’t be receiving the

same amount of pay as they were receiving

last year because I was being paid out of

[Shell’s] Aboriginal funding.”

Ucomfortable with the fact that her

salary had come from Shell Canada, as

well as the fact that she had just been

informed her job at Dalhousie was taking

funding away from the Aboriginal Student

Support services, McKay wrote an email to

her direct supervisor, which she copied to

the director of Advising and Access Service

Centres, Quenta Adams.

A meeting with Adams and McKay’s

direct supervisor, Kirsten Somers, was

scheduled for the next day. McKay

described the tone of the meeting as

“aggressive” and “almost threatening.”

“The meeting started off by me first of

all asking the director if my funding was

indeed coming from the Aboriginal Student

Support fund, funded by Shell,” said

McKay. “[Adams] confirmed that it was.

I was then told that where my pay was

coming from wasn’t my concern and that

these issues that I was bringing up were

above me and that I had no right inquiring

into them and that I was lucky I wasn’t

going to be met with disciplinary action.”

Requests for a copy of this particular

funding agreement between Dalhousie

and Shell, which ostensibly would show

that the funding was always meant to go

towards hiring a self-identified Aboriginal

person to work as a Student Success

Coach, were not met as of press time.

Following a meeting with Lisa DeLong,

a lawyer representing Dalhousie’s Human

Rights Office, McKay decided to file a

formal human rights complaint. McKay

further informed the Media Co-op that

the Dalhousie Human Rights Office has

chosen not to investigate her complaint,

potentially because she went public with

her story.

“As Anishinaabe I really believe in

protecting the earth and it’s something I’ve

really committed a lot of my time to,” said

McKay. “Finding out that I’m being paid

from a fossil fuel corporation was really

upsetting. I felt like I’d been betrayed by

Dalhousie in a sense and that they were

using my Indigineity and my status as a

First Nations person to turn me against my

beliefs as an Anishinaabe.”

Miles Howe is a contributing member of the

Halifax Media Co-op.

The Dominion November/December 2013


Penobsquis: “New Brunswick’s

Dirty Little Secret”

Potash and gas industry are thriving, but residents worry about their health and the environment

by Rana Encol

Halifax Media Co-op

PENOBSQUIS, NEW

BRUNSWICK—Grey

geometrical towers

block out tetris-like patterns

against the rural

landscape in a small New

Brunswick village. They are marked by a

sign: Potash Corporation, New Brunswick,

just past the sign for Animaland, a nowdefunct

concrete sculpture theme park on

Highway 114.

Welcome to Penobsquis, a small town of

about 100 households.

On the surface, it’s a typical farming

town in New Brunswick: rolling green

fields are dotted with golden hay bales and

white homesteads.

But two corporations have left an indelible

impact on the town. Potash Corporation

of Saskatchewan has mined there for

30 years. Corridor Resources, a junior oil

and gas company, and Potash Corp jointly

own the wells on the natural gas reserve

known as the McCully Field.

When the mines flooded in the late

1990s and companies began seismic testing

for mineral deposits and natural gas,

the first natural springs started to dry up.

Stewart Brown, general manager of

Potash Corp New Brunswick, says “nothing

is definitive in terms of cause and

effect” among these activities.

All in all, about 60 homes in the area

lost their water.

McCabe, a 42-year-old who works in

a warehouse, was the last one to lose her

well in 2007, but she was one of the lucky

ones since her home sat on top of an

aquifer.

She also experienced “subsidence,” or

displacement—her property sank 0.75

metres and moved sideways by half a

metre toward the TransCanada highway.

Her roof dips at certain points. She reports

her house lost $50,000 in assessed value.

There is no insurance to cover the loss of

water or subsidence caused by mining.

Brown says that the amount of subsidence

is very minimal and that it also

occurred naturally before mining began in

The Dominion November/December 2013

the area. Researchers from the University

of New Brunswick monitor the subsidence

on an annual basis.

“They refer to us as their lab, so does

that mean we’re lab mice?” jokes McCabe.

When she and others lost their water,

Potash Corp financially assisted the

provincial government in establishing a

regional water supply. The government

would deliver large plastic tanks filled

with water every two days. Each adult was

allowed 15 gallons of water per week.

But water consumption outside of what

was deemed regular “household” consumption,

whether it be for laundry or

pets or gardening, was rigidly policed.

The New Brunswick Mining Commissioner

heard 16 separate property complaints

filed in 2009. Water-related cases

were not resolved until 2012, and cases

related to subsidence or other concerns

were withdrawn by complainants or dismissed

due to lack of evidence.

There have been other incidents.

In 2006, Corridor spilled 3,000 litres

of fracking sand. Never having dealt with

a spill before, the Department of Environment

called in the Canadian Nuclear

Safety Commission, which ruled there

were no health and safety concerns about

the mildly radioactive material disposed of

in an open pit.

In 2008, a tractor hit a pipeline while

plowing a field.

Corridor doesn’t frack or drill but contracts

the work to other companies, so it’s

often able to evade allegations of “incidents”

through this loophole, according to

Nixon and McCabe.

In 2005, drilling caused an explosion

which woke many residents at night. For

Nixon, this qualifies as an “incident.” As

for Corridor, they featured photos of the

explosion on the front page of their annual

report to investors.

Both McCabe and Nixon say they have

received threats from others in the community,

mainly from those worried about

their jobs or pensions.

“They’re bullying their way through our

Beth Nixon explains how potash mining along

the McLeod family farm has turned the fields

into marsh. Her own farmlands have also been

affected. Photo by Rana Encol

town,” says Nixon. “How much personal

loss are you supposed to take so your

neighbours have jobs? Properties have

devalued, farmlands lost. You’ve got to

compensate people for their losses, not

just pound them into the dirt for money.”

Well pads, one kilometre apart, leave

little room for traditional hunting because,

as signs indicate, no such activity is permitted

within 400 metres. This poses a

problem for Indigenous groups—Penobsquis

is part of Siknitook territory on

Mi’kmaq land.

Potash Corp employs 600 employees,

mainly area residents, at its existing operations

and a further 250 people are working

to construct the new Picadilly mine, a $2

billion long-term investment, according

to Brown. Corridor directly employs 30

people and has numerous contractors.

“They’re exporting gas now, but who’s

going to take out the pipelines when

they’re done?” asks Nixon. “A lot of people

have invested in this industry, but mainly

politicians and industry owners are getting

rich off it. Farmers have looked after these

properties for seven generations and want

them here for seven more, but now they’ve

been damaged forever.”

Rana Encol is a contributing member of

HMC and a fourth year journalism student

at King’s College. Full story available

at the Halifax Media Co-op

website.

9


Farming

Wheat Next?

What the end of the Wheat Board’s single desk means in the long run

by Kyle Farquharson

VANCOUVER—On the anniversary of his

government’s decision to end the Canadian

Wheat Board’s monopsony, federal

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was in a

celebratory mood.

“[M]arketing freedom has delivered

better market signals, more transparency,

better competitive prices and most

importantly increased cash flow,” Ritz told

reporters gathered at a Saskatchewan farm

in August.

Ritz noted that the prices fetched by

wheat and barley have increased over the

previous year, enabling Canadian farmers

to enjoy enhanced cash flows. It’s a

boon the minister attributes to the liberty

of grain growers to market their product

directly to buyers and pursue the best possible

price.

While the minister’s argument may

contain a kernel of truth, the reality is

more complicated than his rosy assessment

suggests. In years to come, the end

of the Wheat Board’s single-desk system

may portend a further consolidation of

farms, readier entry into the Canadian

food supply of genetically engineered (GE)

crops, greater volatility in food prices

and the demise of the Canadian Wheat

Board (CWB) itself. A single-desk buyer

is a monopsony purchaser from multiple

suppliers.

Of consequence to farmers, 2012 was

both the warmest year on record in the

contiguous United States and marred by

the worst drought in five decades. Crop

yields dipped well below the previous

year’s output, spurring grain prices to

record highs by June. As a consequence,

the market for Canadian grains was exceptionally

strong for much of the year. For

proponents of the Conservative government’s

policy toward the CWB, the timing

could not have been better.

But Darin Barney, a McGill University

professor and Canada Research Chair in

Technology and Citizenship, pointed out

that one year is a very short time frame in

the world of agriculture.

“Producers benefitted this

10 year from high prices due to

poor growing conditions in the United

States and elsewhere, but this has nothing

to do with the end of the single-desk,

whose impact on farmers will be felt in

times when the market for Canadian grain

is not so favourable, or suffers periodic

shocks,” he wrote in an e-mail to The

Dominion.

“The measure of the value of the singledesk

to Canadian farmers is not what they

can get for their grain over the short term

in a strong market, but what they will get

over the long term through periods of

market downturn,” according to Barney.

Moreover, market signals suggests that,

while 2012 was an unusually strong year

for prairie grain farmers, the year to come

may not be as favourable.

In stark contrast to the arid conditions

of the previous year, the state of Kansas—

the foremost wheat producer in the US—

saw three times the typical level of rainfall

for the month of May in 2013, according to

the National Weather Service. The result

thus far has been a more plentiful harvest

and an attendant decline in wheat prices

on US markets.

The prices of wheat and other grains on

global markets have historically been volatile,

but a series of factors has conspired to

exacerbate this volatility since the turn of

the 21st century.

These include unusual weather events,

the diversion of arable land for ethanol

production, growing demand for food in

India and China, commodities market

deregulation under the US Clinton administration,

a move by investors (both institutional

and individual) into commodities

and commodity futures in the early 2000s

after the collapse of the dot-com bubble

and the global recession of 2007–08.

Sasha Breger Bush, a lecturer at the University

of Denver and expert on the relationship

between food commodities and

financial markets, said the elimination of

the CWB’s single-desk exposes both prairie

farmers and consumers to the vicissitudes

of the market—a new normal in which

some will fare better than others.

“Without the wheat board, world prices

will pass right through to your farmers in

Canada,” she said.

“It’s not impossible, once the wheat

board goes away, for farmers to do better

in certain contexts; they might be able to

produce more, and export more, at higher

prices.”

Indeed, in the year following the Harper

government’s decision to eliminate the

single-desk arrangement, this has largely

been the case. Many wheat and barley

farmers in the Canadian prairies have seen

their profits rise on the strength of relatively

high prices. But there’s another side

to the coin. Breger Bush, who is also the

author of Derivatives and Development:

A Political Economy of Global Finance,

Farming and Poverty, told The Dominion,

“What disappears is the stability, and the

certainty. So [farmers] are just as likely,

depending on movements in global prices,

to do less well.”

With the single-desk out of the picture,

market highs will be higher and lows lower

for both farmers and consumers. There’s

also likely to be an influx of investment

in futures and other derivatives contracts

for Canadian wheat and barley—the result

of some farmers hedging their bets and

market liberalization of the Canadian grain

industry, Breger Bush added. Over time,

this may also produce a self-reinforcing

amplification of volatility on the international

grain market, as investors and commodity

speculators swarm into one of the

world’s foremost wheat-exporting regions.

Over time, as costs associated with

transport, marketing and storage mount

for individual producers absent the

negotiating clout of the CWB monopsony,

economies of scale dictate that larger

farms and businesses will thrive while

smaller operations will founder. Small and

medium-sized farms, short-line railroads

and producer cars (rail cars hired and

loaded on an individual basis by farmers)

will increasingly find themselves outcompeted

for market share by their larger

counterparts, and further, more rapid consolidation

of the Canadian grain industry

is likely.

The Dominion November/December 2013


Farming

Agriculture Canada received two permits for “experimental field trials” of genetically modified wheat in 2012, but department records indicate that

Canada geese may have spread GM seed from the field trials to other locations. Photo by agrilifetoday

“The winners [in the ending of the

single-desk system] will be the handful of

transnational grain companies—Viterra,

Cargill, Richardson Pioneer, Louis Dreyfus—that

already dominate grain handling

on the prairies and are now moving into

the marketing business, and the railway

companies who will no longer have to

contend with the organizational strength

of the Wheat Board,” Barney further told

The Dominion.

Absent an influential lobbying force

in the form of the CWB, multinational

agribusinesses that patent and sell seeds

also have the opportunity to gain a much

greater foothold in the Canadian grain

market.

In 2004, the CWB played an instrumental

role in impeding a decision by the

Canadian government to allow Roundup

Ready wheat—a genetically engineered

crop produced by Monsanto—onto Canadian

farms.

Although broad scientific consensus

indicates that the GE products already

on the market for human consumption

are safe, the prospective introduction of

Roundup Ready wheat and barley into

Canada would not come without risk. For

farmers, the pitfalls of GE crops include

their unpopularity in key export markets

Europe and Asia (where labelling of foods

containing GM ingredients is legally

mandated in many countries) and the

extra financial liability associated with the

spread of patented seed varieties to the

The Dominion November/December 2013

fields of farmers who have chosen not to

plant GE crops.

Like all other wind-pollinated grasses,

wheat is adept at disseminating its seed.

But grass seed can be spread in numerous

ways: by animals such as Canada geese, in

grain elevators where farmers store and

purchase generic seed, by vehicles that

inadvertently spill small quantities while

in transit. Agribusiness firms have developed

a reputation for jealously safeguarding

their patents on seed varieties, and

Monsanto has litigated against some Canadian

farmers (such as Percy Schmeiser of

Saskatchewan) for saving seed that the

corporation claimed as its intellectual

property.

Currently, Monsanto is testing its

Roundup Ready wheat in some fields in

Western Australia. (A single-desk wheat

board system prevailed until 2009 in Australia,

which may become the first country

to approve Roundup Ready wheat.) In the

event that patented seed varieties of wheat

and barley eventually make their way into

the Canadian prairies, expect more lawsuits

against prairie farmers to follow.

Since announcing its intention to

dismantle the CWB’s single-desk in 2011,

the Harper government has channelled its

majority mandate in the House of Commons

as justification for what some farmers

term a fundamentally undemocratic

process. Since the establishment in 1998 of

a board of directors that included elected

farmer representatives, prairie farmers

have voted consistently to maintain the

single-desk arrangement.

Farmers voted this way again in a 2011

plebiscite, with 62 per cent of respondents

indicating a preference to maintain the

monopsony on wheat. (For barley, the

plebiscite revealed a nearly even split of

opinion.) In December of that year, a federal

court ruled the Harper government’s

move to axe the single-desk, through Bill

C-18, was unconstitutional. The ruling was

overturned on appeal.

Though the single-desk has long been a

popular (if imperfect) system, the voices

of dissent against the monopsony have

remained loud and prominent within the

ranks of prairie farmers, particularly as the

Canadian farm industry has consolidated

over the years, more farmers have felt

inclined to market and sell their product

to the customer of their choosing and multinational

agribusiness corporations have

sought new territories to colonize. Time

will tell whether the CWB can survive as

a voluntary co-operative and what impact

the ending of the single-desk will have

on Canadian and world agriculture, grain

price volatility and food security.

Kyle Farquharson is a journalist and

freelance writer based in Vancouver, on

unceded Coast Salish territory. His interests

include the relationship between the

economy, the environment, politics, social

justice and human rights.

11


First Peoples

“My Generation has Stood Up

and Said, ‘No More’”

Hundreds gather for 4th Annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp against pipelines in ‘BC’

by Aaron Lakoff

VANCOUVER—From July 10 to 14,

2013, roughly 200 Indigenous and non-

Indigenous people gathered in unceded

Wet’suwet’en territory in central British

Columbia for the 4th Annual Unis’tot’en

Action Camp. The Unis’tot’en clan of the

Wet’suwet’en First Nation have maintained

a blockade on the only bridge

leading into their territory since July 2010

in an attempt to keep seven proposed

oil and gas pipelines off their traditional

lands. The pipelines would carry shale gas

obtained through fracking, or bitumen oil

from the Alberta tar sands, to the Pacific

coast for export to Asia.

Toghestiy, Hereditary Chief of the

Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en

Nation, was very happy with the high proportion

of Indigenous participants at this

year’s camp compared to previous years.

“I would say about 40 per cent of the

population of the action camp was Indigenous,

and they were Indigenous from

different parts of Turtle Island,” Toghestiy

told the Vancouver Media Co-op (VMC).

“So it was amazing to have all these grassroots

Indigenous people come together in

solidarity with one another. We created

an alliance, and it was a pretty beautiful

experience.”

While most participants at the camp

hailed from Vancouver and Victoria,

people also travelled from as far away as

California, New Mexico, and Toronto to

learn about the struggle, to network, and

to bring action ideas back to their own

communities.

Wet’suwet’en territory is located about

1,000 kilometres north of Vancouver. It

lies on what has been described as Canada’s

“carbon corridor,” a geographically

strategic region where major oil companies

such as Chevron and Exxon are seeking to

connect the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific

coast for export. The Unis’tot’en claim

that these pipelines, requiring clear- cutting

and prone to leaks and spills, would

threaten watersheds, forests,

12

rivers, and salmon spawning channels—

source of their primary staple food.

Some of proposed pipelines on

Wet’suwet’en territory are intended to

carry natural gas from hydraulic fracturing

(or “fracking”) sites near Fort Nelson,

BC, close to the border of the Northwest

Territories.

“In those territories, those people are

suffering from decimated water,” said Mel

“We were busy working

on salmon that day, and

locating berry patches to

start harvesting for winter.

Then all of the sudden we

heard a helicopter fly over.”

—Chief Toghestiy

Bazil, a Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan activist

who has been helping out with the

Unis’tot’en blockade. “All of their right to

clean drinking water is delivered to them

by truck. They allowed their responsibility

to clean drinking water that already exists

in their territories to be diminished, and

in place of that, now they have the right of

clean water being delivered to them.”

Water is central to this struggle. The

pristine Morice River flows through

Wet’suwet’en territory, and is still clean

enough to drink and fish from. For contrast,

local people often reference Michigan’s

Kalamazoo River, devastated by the

largest inland oil spill in US history when

an Enbridge tar sands pipeline burst in

2010.

Unis’tot’en clan members declared

Wet’suwet’en territory to be the epicentre

for struggles against the Alberta tar sands,

the largest industrial project on earth.

Extraction at the tar sands releases at least

three times the amount of carbon dioxide

as regular crude oil extraction, and uses

five barrels of fresh water to produce a

single barrel of oil, according to the activist

research group Oil Sands Truth.

“My people have been on these territories

for thousands of years, until about

100 years ago when the government forced

our people off these lands and put them

in reservations,” said Freda Huson, the

spokesperson for the Unis’tot’en camp,

in an interview in the food supplies tent.

“And probably just about four years ago,

my generation has stood up and said, ‘No

more.’

“There’s too much destruction happening

out here, because we grew up on these

lands, coming out here all the time. And

every time we came out here we saw more

and more destruction. So we sat down

with our chiefs and said, ‘We can’t just sit

by any more and let them keep destroying

the lands.’ There will be nothing left

for our children and grandchildren and

great-grandchildren. We found out about

the pipelines and which route they were

planning to go.”

In May, BC’s provincial government

officially opposed one of the proposed

pipeline projects on Wet’suwet’en territory,

the Enbridge Northern Gateway.

Premier Christy Clark cited environmental

safety concerns. But Huson was skeptical.

“To me they’re just all talk. I don’t

believe anything the government says,”

retorted Huson. “They make all these

empty promises, and they do exactly the

opposite of what they say. Based on how

Christy Clark has been talking pro-pipelines,

that this is going to get them out of

deficit, because we know for a fact that the

BC government is in a huge deficit.”

Indigenous people from different

nations across ‘Canada’ came to the

Unis’tot’en camp to make links between

struggles against oil and gas pipelines.

One of them was Vanessa Grey, a 21-yearold

activist from the Aamjiwnaang First

Nation reserve in southern Ontario.

Aamjiwnaang sits on the pathway of

Enbridge’s Line 9 project, which will

carry tar sands bitumen eastward towards

Maine. Demonstrators have attempted to

The Dominion November/December 2013


First Peoples

Members of the Wet’suwet’en nation perform a welcoming song to open the 4th Annual Unis’tot’en

Action Camp. Photo by Aaron Lakoff

stop the project through a variety of direct

actions, including a five-day occupation of

an Enbridge pumping station near Hamilton,

Ontario, this past June.

“I feel that there’s a lot here that

someone like myself or the youth who

have come here can really learn from,”

said Grey, sitting in a forest clearing near

the Morice River. “Where we come from,

the land has already been destroyed and

we already see the effects. Here, they are

trying to save what’s left of it, and we’re

able to see what could have been without

the industry.”

During the five days of the camp, participants

attended action planning sessions

and workshops on a variety of subjects,

including decolonization, movement

building, and the Quebec student strike.

Participants also had the chance to help

construct a permaculture garden and pithouse

directly on the route of the Enbridge

Northern Gateway pipeline.

On July 20, just days after the action

camp had ended and all of the participants

had returned home, a helicopter carrying

pipeline surveyors was discovered on

Unis’tot’en territory, behind the blockade.

“We were busy...working on salmon

that day, and locating berry patches to

start harvesting for winter. Then all of the

sudden we heard a helicopter fly over,”

Toghestiy told the VMC over the phone.

Helicopters flying overhead are a

common occurrence around Unis’tot’en

territory, but something seemed wrong

The Dominion November/December 2013

about this one to Toghestiy. “This one

sounded like it was slowing down, and you

could hear the rotors ‘whoop-whooping’

really loud. I thought to myself, ‘This helicopter

might be landing.’” Toghestiy and a

supporter of the camp immediately drove

down the road and discovered the helicopter

had landed not far away.

According to Toghestiy, the workers

were wearing hard hats and reflector vests,

and had clipboards with them. When

confronted, they confirmed that they were

pipeline workers, but didn’t know that they

had infringed on an Indigenous blockade

site. “I told them, ‘Bullshit! Your company

knows [about the blockade]!’”

After Toghestiy yelled at them to leave,

they got back in the helicopter and the

pilot restarted the motor and took off. “As

they were flying away, the helicopter pilot

assured me that they wouldn’t come back,

and so did the workers.”

Toghestiy said the workers did not

reveal which company they were with, but

he observed that “they were standing in the

... proposed new alternative route of the

Pacific Trail Pipeline project.”

The helicopter visit was not the first

infringement by pipeline companies

onto sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory. In

November 2012, surveyors were also found

behind the blockade lines, and were issued

an eagle feather, which is a Wet’suwet’en

symbol for trespassing.

Toghestiy said that expelling these

unwelcome workers from unceded Indigenous

lands also has a deeper meaning.

“We’re stopping the continued delusion

that the government is putting out there

that they still have right to give out licenses

or permits on lands that were never ceded

by the Indigenous people. There is no bill

of sale that has ever been produced that

says they have the right to do that.”

Huson added that if a helicopter is

discovered again on her territory, the

company’s actions will have more severe

consequences. “I’m planning to draft a

letter to the helicopter company and other

companies working for Apache right now,

saying, ‘You’ve received your final warning,

and if any more choppers or equipment

comes across the blockade again, we’ll

confiscate whatever comes in, and workers

will be walking out,’” she said.

Indigenous delegates from the camp

held a Day of Action against extractive

industries on August 14, 2013, and fundraising

is underway to support the blockade

throughout the winter. Meanwhile,

Toghestiy and Huson expect even more

people to come up for the action camp in

the summer of 2014.

For more information about next

year’s action camp, visit:

www.UnistotenCamp.com.

Aaron Lakoff is a radio journalist, DJ and

community organizer living in Montreal,

trying to map the constellations between

reggae, soul and a liberated world. This article

was made possible with support from

the Vancouver Media Co-op.

13


Cover Story

Uranium’s Chilling Effects

Community participation stifled as industry expands in northern Saskatchewan

by Sandra Cuffe

PINEHOUSE, SASKATCHEWAN—Dale

Smith’s worn nylon fishing net gradually

untangles as it falls into the lake. Smith

stands against an endless Saskatchewan

summer sky, his hands gently guiding the

gill net over the starboard bow and then

pulling the float line taut while the boat

slides slowly sternway through the water,

motor humming quietly.

The wind picks up, and gentle waves lap

against the rocks and sandy beaches of the

islands scattered around Pinehouse Lake.

There’s not as much fishing as there used

to be, says Smith, and the traditional landbased

lifestyle has been waning in the

community. But fishers, hunters, trappers,

berry pickers, medicine gatherers and wild

rice growers still use the lakes and lands

in the boreal forest in northern Saskatchewan,

at the edge of the Canadian Shield.

Not only is Dale Smith a soft-spoken

fisherman and wild rice grower, he is also

a dedicated community activist who is

taking two of the world’s largest uranium

mining companies to court. Smith recently

filed a lawsuit together with 38 people

and organizations to fight back against a

$200 million agreement that he says will

effectively muzzle opposition to future

uranium mines.

“What I’m seeing and experiencing

now is that there’s a silencing,” Smith, a

lifelong Métis resident of the northern village

of Pinehouse, told The Dominion. “I

don’t think people really truly understand

the significance of what happened to my

community.”

The uranium industry is rapidly expanding

its sphere of control in northern

Saskatchewan, and the impacts of its

widening footprint aren’t limited to the

lands and waters. Residents of affected

communities are speaking out against

an increasing corporate influence that is

altering local governance and diminishing

opportunities for critical public participation.

All of Canada’s producing uranium

mines are located in Saskatchewan’s

Northern Administration District, a region

of interconnected lakes, rivers

14

and muskeg encompassing approximately

half of Saskatchewan. Roughly 80 per cent

of the 37,000 northern residents are Indigenous—primarily

Dene, Cree and Métis.

In the far northwest, the effects of early

uranium mining, begun in the 1950s by a

federal Crown corporation with military

contracts related to the production of

atomic weapons, are ongoing. A July 2013

report by Saskatchewan Environmental

Society director Peter Prebble and board

member Ann Coxworth highlights the serious

uranium and selenium contamination

in four watersheds in the area of Uranium

City just north of Lake Athabasca, despite

clean-up efforts. The contamination of

water, plants and animals, and potential

impacts on human health, continue to be

of concern to residents in the north.

Canada’s uranium mining sector is

poised to undergo a boom. Canadian

uranium accounted for 16.7 per cent of

global production in 2011, second only to

Kazakhstan. In 2012, Saskatchewan

Premier Brad Wall announced that uranium

production, 10,785 tonnes in 2011,

would nearly double by 2017. The Cigar

Lake mine, the world’s second-highestgrade

uranium project after McArthur

River, will begin producing in 2014,

according to uranium company Cameco.

Also in 2012, Canada signed a nuclear cooperation

agreement with India to permit

the export of uranium, and a protocol with

China to facilitate increased exports, both

for nuclear power programs.

Saskatoon-based Cameco and French

multinational Areva are adding new

mines and infrastructure to their existing

projects, creating an integrated uranium

corridor spreading over 250 kilometres.

Areva and Cameco both received longawaited

permits for new mines over the

past 18 months. Along with the new mines

come plans for long-distance uranium

slurry transport, Cameco–Areva milling

arrangements, tailings facility expansions

and provincial funding for a road to connect

the corridor.

Together with existing uranium

operations, including the Key Lake mill,

McArthur River mine, McLean Lake mine

and mill, Eagle Point mine and Rabbit

Lake mill, these new projects solidify the

industrial occupation of the entire eastern

edge of the Athabasca basin, a region in

the Canadian Shield home to the world’s

highest-grade uranium deposits. The

industry’s increased territorial footprint in

Treaty 10 lands has been accompanied by

attempts to increase corporate influence in

neighbouring villages and reserves south

of the Athabasca basin.

“These people are very sneaky,” Canoe

Lake First Nation elder and grassroots

activist Emil Bell told The Dominion,

denouncing the use of community dinners,

door prizes and small grants to garner

local support. “Cameco has been playing

the role of Santa Claus in this last short

while, handing out money.”

As if to underscore Bell’s concerns, the

leadership of two communities just south

of the mining region have recently taken

their relationships with the uranium

industry to the next level.

The northern village of Pinehouse

entered into a Collaboration Agreement

with Cameco and Areva on December 12,

2012. English River First Nation (ERFN)

followed suit on May 31, 2013. The deals

are estimated to bring $200 million in

benefits for Pinehouse and $600 million

for ERFN over the first 11 and 10 years,

respectively. The benefits will be paid out

by Cameco and Areva, but the vast majority

of each amount is to come in the form

of employee wages and business contracts.

Many of the negotiated contracting

opportunities included in the payouts

are for specific areas of work at Cameco’s

proposed Millennium project, which is still

in the early stages of the environmental

assessment process.

In exchange for signing agreements

with industry, Pinehouse and ERFN have

agreed to support Cameco and Areva’s

existing operations and existing authorizations,

as well as—subject to consultation

terms laid out in the agreements—the

companies’ proposed projects, proposed

authorizations and exploration projects. If

The Dominion November/December 2013


Cover Story

Illustration by Rebecca Roher

either community were to decide to take

a formal collective position of outright

opposition to any of the above, either in

court or during regulatory proceedings,

they would be breaching the agreements

and risking the jobs, contracts and community

investment payments contained

therein. Two of three lump-sum community

payments from Cameco are directly

tied to future corporate activities: the start

of regular commercial production at the

Cigar Lake mine, and the beginning of

construction at the company’s proposed

Millennium project.

Some local authorities think the deal

with uranium companies will bring

positive benefits to their communities. “It

allows us to expand on our strong mining

The Dominion November/December 2013

culture and do it our way. We want to

be accountable to ourselves,” Pinehouse

mayor Mike Natomagan said of the Pinehouse

agreement, according to a press

release issued following the signing.

Accountability is also an issue for

opponents of the agreement. The lack of

transparency and consultation regarding

the Pinehouse collaboration agreement

is at the heart of a class action lawsuit in

which Smith is a plaintiff, along with more

than thirty other individuals from Pinehouse,

Saskatchewan and elsewhere. In

their statement of claim, filed in the Court

of Queen’s Bench in June 2013 against

Cameco, Areva, local officials, and the

municipal, provincial and federal governments,

Smith and his co-plaintiffs seek to

have the collaboration agreement declared

null and void.

Negotiations for the Pinehouse agreement

between village and company

officials and lawyers took place over two

years. Residents only found out about

its existence and content at a meeting in

November 2012, the month before the

signing. At that time, a draft summary

term sheet was distributed. The draft

included a commitment by the village to

“make reasonable efforts to ensure Pinehouse

members do not say or do anything

that interferes with or delays Cameco/

Areva’s mining.” The full text of the deal,

which did not include the controversial

clause, was only made available after it

came into effect. Residents

15


Cover Story

were left out of the process.

“No matter what you’re negotiating,

come to the people. Let the people decide,”

said Smith of the Pinehouse agreement.

“For them to be put in a position, or put

themselves in a position, to exclude the

community as a whole was such a breach

of the whole idea of community living that

it was a devastating thing to betray that.

It’s not so much the contents of the agreement.

It was how it transpired.”

In the case of the ERFN agreement, the

document is still confidential and has not

been released to the public. Cameco claims

community leaders were the ones who

chose not to release the text.

“In both cases, we worked with the

elected leaders and elders from each community

and recognized that each political

entity would decide how and when they

would share information with their stakeholders,”

Rob Gereghty, Cameco’s

Manager of Media Relations, wrote in

an email to The Dominion. “Pinehouse

elected to post the final agreement on line,

while English River First Nation, citing

concerns about commercially-sensitive

information, decided to share an executive

summary with the community.”

The executive summary, though, does

identify a crucial detail of the ERFN agreement—one

that raised serious concerns

when the document was handed out at a

May 22, 2013, meeting in Patuanak, nine

days before it was signed. As part of the

agreement with Cameco, ERFN agreed to

drop its lawsuit against the government of

Saskatchewan over a claim to land located

east of Cree Lake.

According to local prophecies, Cree Lake

and the surrounding area is to be the place

of refuge for the Denesuline of Patuanak in

a coming time of dire need, when the animals

are gone, the trees turn black, and the

lands can no longer support the people.

Cameco’s proposed Millennium mine is

located on the land in question, now no

longer tied up in litigation.

“Big decisions like this would generally

go to a general band meeting and be ratified

at a general band meeting. It would

be put to the public and there would be a

vote,” Candyce Paul, a member of the

English River First Nation, told The

Dominion. “It’s a big concern, especially

because there’s a lawsuit

16

involved, and the lands are involved,

impacts are involved.”

One ERFN band councillor opposed the

collaboration agreement. Michael Wolverine

tried to tell people at the May 23, 2013

meeting on the La Plonge reserve why he

did not think it was a good idea for the

present or the future.

“[Wolverine] said he’s been attending

these meetings and he has some very grave

concerns about the impacts and he started

to read out from a notebook that he had a

list of concerns. It was more than a page

long, and he got to about the second or

third [point] and they jumped him, pretty

much. Both the lawyers, the Cameco rep

and other band councillors kind of just

moved in towards him and stopped him

from talking,” said Paul, who attended the

meeting.

Wolverine was not permitted to proceed,

and he did not attend the signing on May

“Cameco has been playing

the role of Santa Claus.”

—Emil Bell, Canoe Lake First Nation

31, 2013, held despite an ongoing wake for

the death of a band member, in breach of

community protocol.

“The impact on the community is ‘shut

up and live with it.’ And that’s never good.

It’s hurting people,” said Paul. “People are

afraid to say anything, or discuss anything

on Facebook. They’re afraid for their jobs.”

She said the fear runs deep: “Others don’t

speak out if they have a family member

waiting for post-secondary funding or

other opportunities dependent on decisions

by the band administration.”

To the casual observer, it might appear

that there are still a number of venues for

community voices to be heard. There are

community committees for that purpose,

but their organization and activities are

largely controlled by the provincial government

and industry.

“Historically, if you go back to the Cluff

Lake hearings—and that goes back quite a

few years now—that was the hearing which

opened up all the new mines that have

been coming on screen in the last 20, 30

years. At that time, the northern communities

did make various recommendations

and briefs and statements at that time

and one of the things they were asking for,

for example, were some baseline health

studies, which never really happened,” Jim

Penna, a founding member of the Inter-

Church Uranium Committee Education

Co-operative (ICUCEC), told The Dominion.

“History shows that they have not,

in fact, honoured the concerns that were

expressed at that time.”

Beyond ignoring concerns, the industry’s

shift towards silencing dissent has

been an intentional one, according to

Penna. “They’ve been very strong in their

efforts to win over the minds and the

hearts of people. And so they think that

they’ve done that job now. And I think the

final nail came when they were able to go

into those communities and say, look, let’s

have an agreement here, in a final effort to

silence any opposition.”

For now, after decades of uranium

mining in the north and recent attempts to

stifle dissent, many have trouble envisioning

alternatives. “It makes it look like

it’s the only opportunity in the area, and

that it will be the only opportunity in the

area for years to come,” said Paul. “It has

created a sense of hopelessness in the

community, like, ‘this is what there is and

we don’t like it, but there isn’t anything

else.’ And so, with the uranium [mining],

the long-term vision has got tunnel vision

now, because they know it’s hurting the

lands, they know it’s impacting the people,

and they just don’t want to see it anymore.

They don’t know what to do.”

Participants in the ongoing provincial

consultations on uranium mining in

Quebec, and communities in Nunavut,

Labrador, Alberta and the Northwest

Territories facing possible future uranium

mines, may have to scratch the surface to

find a critical perspective on the experience

in northern Saskatchewan. But when

they do, they’ll find people making a

powerful stand to defend their lands and

communities.

“This is not just about Pinehouse now,

and that’s why I put up a resistance,” said

Smith. He doubles back to check the gill

nets. They’re firmly anchored in place.

Sandra Cuffe is a vagabond freelance journalist.

She recently spent several months in

northern Saskatchewan. Sandra tweets as

@Sandra_Cuffe

The Dominion November/December 2013


Unfair Shares

Did opposition to a Canadian mine in Mexico drive divestment?

Divestment

by Tim McSorley & Dawn Paley

MONTREAL—Communal landholders

fighting against Canadian mining operations

in the northern Mexican state of

Durango received an unlikely boost this

summer with the news that the Canada

Pension Plan had divested from Torontobased

Excellon Resources.

This appears to be an unprecedented

ethical move by Canada’s national pension

fund. But the exact reason why the Canada

Pension Plan dumped their Excellon stock

in July remains unclear.

Excellon has been in a drawn-out

conflict with locals that included a threeand-a-half-month

roadside blockade of the

mine in 2012. The blockade was erected

by communal landholders from Ejido la

Sierrita over accusations that Excellon had

reneged on agreements signed by both

parties in 2008.

The founding legislation

of the Canada Pension

Plan obliges it to prioritize

profit.

Juan Daniel Pascual Alvarez was

president of the Ejido from 2009 to 2012.

“It was up to me, for three years, to go

around in circles, first asking and later

demanding that [the company] honour the

agreements, which it didn’t,” he told The

Dominion in a phone interview.

According to a report prepared by Canada’s

United Steelworkers union, Excellon

failed to fulfill promises related to, among

other things, job creation for Ejido members,

improved waste water treatment

and the project’s proposed expansion.

In addition, union activists say Excellon

obstructed an organizing drive following

the workplace death of a miner in 2010.

Without warning, the Canada Pension

Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) sold all of

its nearly three million shares in Excellon

Resources in July.

Shortly after, the United Steelworkers

(USW) issued a press release applauding

the divestment, highlighting union

and community campaigning against the

company.

The Dominion November/December 2013

Joe Drexler, director of strategic campaigns

at USW, told The Dominion he

sees the Excellon divestment as a clear

victory. Drexler helped coordinate the

divestment campaign—the union’s first

ever—along with the Canadian Labour

Congress and Mexico’s Los Mineros union.

Metalworkers unions from Canada, the US

and Mexico have been working together

against neoliberal policies since before

the North America Free Trade Agreement

was signed in 1994. Last year, Drexler and

other union advocates sat down with the

CPPIB and argued that the pension fund,

which has net assets worth $200 billion

and investments all over the world, should

sell off its Excellon stocks for ethical

reasons.

At the time the CPPIB remained tightlipped.

They still are.

A CPPIB spokeswoman contacted by

The Dominion said that the shares in

Excellon were part of a passive fund that

is managed based on how stocks are

performing. While she could not provide

more information than that, the insinuation

was that the stocks were sold because

of market fluctuations.

Indeed, Excellon’s stock has dropped

more than 35 per cent in the past year.

Aside from the conflict with the community,

the declining price of silver has

added to the company’s financial woes. It

registered significant losses in the first half

of 2013.

“If Excellon’s financial characteristics

declined because of human rights and

community relations problems and this

triggered its removal from an index used

by CPPIB or any other investor, then it

would be fair to say that that the events

are linked,” wrote Peter Chapman, executive

director of Vancouver’s Shareholder

Association for Research and Education,

in an email to The Dominion. “But this is

only if you can establish a causal connection

between the social situation and the

financial performance.”

After years of conflict on the ground in

Mexico, and with an ongoing court case

over the 1,100 hectares leased by the Ejido

to the company, opponents of the mine are

Landowners from Ejido La Sierrita, Durango,

protest at Excellon's Annual General Meeting in

Toronto in April 2013. Photo by Prodesc

certain that the strife has taken a toll on

investor confidence.

But there is a long way to go before

major investment funds in Canada prioritize

ethics over their bottom lines. In

fact, the founding legislation of the CPPIB

obliges it, legally, to prioritize profit. “The

CPPIB staff implements its responsible

investment program within the framework

of its governing legislation, which means

its application of social and environmental

criteria is based on legal and financial considerations,”

wrote Chapman. At the end

of the day, profit is still king for Canada’s

pension investments.

Back in Mexico, Pascual describes the

current climate in his community as one of

“tense calm,” while he and others work to

shut down the mining operation.

“This is our land, it’s our home, and

we can’t stop struggling for what’s ours,”

said Pascual, who is working with others

to achieve a ruling against the company

by state agrarian authorities and to build

resistance to Canadian mining in impacted

communities throughout Mexico. At the

end of the interview, Pascual spells out his

position in no uncertain terms: “You can’t

let someone arrive from outside and run

you out of your own house.”

Dawn Paley is a freelance journalist and

researcher who is currently working on her

first book, about capitalism and the drug

war in Mexico. Tim McSorley is an editor

with the Media Co-op and a

freelance journalist living in

Montreal.

17


Mining

The End of Impunity?

Indigenous Guatemalans bring Canadian mining company to court

by Arij Riahi

MONTREAL—For the first time, a

Canadian mining company will appear

in a Canadian court for actions committed

overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc., will

be standing trial for murder, rapes and

attacks committed against Indigenous

Guatemalans by security personnel working

for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía

Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court

case is proceeding thanks to a precedentsetting

decision from the Ontario Superior

Court of Justice, which ruled this past July

in favour of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ people of

Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala.

“It is a massive victory for our clients

and for human rights,” Cory Wanless, an

attorney with the Toronto-based Klippensteins

law firm, told The Dominion.

“Before this decision, no claim brought

by individuals that had been harmed by

Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten

into Canadian courts at all. They didn’t

even have the ability to forward their

claims.”

Wanless represents the Q’eqchi’ plaintiffs

in a lawsuit accusing the company of

negligence in its ground management of

the Fenix open-pit nickel mine project.

They allege that security personnel—under

the control of Hudbay—gang-raped 11

women, shot dead an Indigenous leader

and outspoken critic of mining practices

and left another man paralyzed from the

chest down after sustaining a gunshot

wound.

Grahame Russell of Rights Action, a

Canadian organization working mainly

with Indigenous communities in Central

America, has been doing solidarity

work with the Q’eqchi’ people for almost

10 years and has worked closely on the

case. “Two major pre-trial issues were

fought over. One was jurisdiction, and

one [was] whether Hudbay could be held

accountable—directly or via its subsidiary

CGN—over what happened in Guatemala,”

Russell told The Dominion.

“We won on both counts. First, the

company accepted that Canada can be the

appropriate jurisdiction. Second,

18

the judge decided in our favour, saying

that it is appropriate to try to hold Hudbay

accountable [for their negligence] in Guatemala.”

Russell explained that the conflict is

rooted in unresolved tensions around what

can be referred to in Canada as “prior land

claims.” The events in question occurred

between 2007 and 2009 in the context of

a land dispute between the Q’eqchi’ people

and the mining company.

“The specific context of the attack,

rape[s] and murder is related to the

mining company wanting to get the

Q’eqchi’ people off their land so they

can get the mineral resources under the

ground,” Russell said. “There have been

waves of repression in this region related

to Canadian mining companies going back

to the 1970s and early 1980s. This is an

old story that is replaying itself out all over

again.”

This problem of proximity

is one that has sunk many

attempts to hold Canadian

companies accountable.

Rachel Small is an environmental

justice activist working with communities

impacted by Canadian extractive industry.

“The abuses carried out by Canadian

mining companies in Central America are

part of a long and violent history of colonization,

which continues today,” she told

The Dominion.

Small, who visited the Q’eqchi’ community

of Lote Ocho in 2010, said the Hudbay

case is a classic example of environmental

injustice. “Resources are being extracted

for the benefit of Canadians—and primarily

Canadian stockholders—at the expense

of primarily Indigenous communities in

Guatemala. It’s a blatant example of one of

the ways that colonization plays out today

and the costs are unimaginably huge for

the communities who are being exploited.”

The Superior Court of Ontario’s decision,

written by Judge Carole Brown,

concluded that there was enough initial

evidence to allow the actions to proceed

to trial. Judge Brown emphasized that

Hudbay is headquartered in Toronto, is

incorporated under Canadian laws and

was fully in control of its subsidiary.

Hudbay has decided not to appeal the

ruling.

The court decision argued that “the

pleadings disclose a sufficient basis to

suggest that a relationship of proximity

between the [Q’eqchi’] plaintiffs and the

defendants [Hudbay and CGN] exists, such

that it would not be unjust or unfair to

impose a duty of care on the defendants.”

The decision also listed a number of factors

that might, at trial, prove the proximity

between Hudbay and its subsidiary.

This problem of proximity is one that

has sunk many attempts to hold Canadian

companies accountable in Canadian courts

for human-rights abuses committed in

other countries. Most mining companies

have a complex corporate structure with a

head office in one country, smaller offices

in others and operations in the Global

South. In courts, they have repeatedly

been able to draw a line between the legal

responsibility of a parent company that

controls management and the subsidiary

that controls daily operations on the

ground.

In November 2012, a group of Congolese

people exhausted all legal options

with a a final failed attempt to drag Anvil

Mining in front Canadian courts for its

involvement in a massacre of civilians in

the Democratic Republic of Congo. The

company admitted to a United Nations

Organization Mission in the Democratic

Republic of Congo (MONUC) that it had

provided transportation, food and lodging

to the Congolese soldiers who committed

the massacre. Yet the Quebec Court of

Appeal ruled that there was no sufficient

link between the company’s Quebec office

and the events that led to the killings, and

that Quebec’s courts therefore had no

jurisdiction over the matter. At the time of

the events, Anvil’s headquarters were in

The Dominion November/December 2013


Mining

Australia.

Wanless said that Hudbay’s corporate

ties to Canadian law might explain why

the case was allowed to go through while

the Anvil case never made it to court. “The

question in [the case of] Hudbay is different

because there was no question that

Ontario did have jurisdiction over Hudbay.

It was an Ontario company through and

through.”

Since the July 22, 2013, decision, Rights

Action has reported that some Mayan

Q’eqchi’ women have received threats

pressuring them to withdraw the lawsuits.

“This is a new wave of intimidation,” said

Russell, who speaks with members of the

community on a weekly basis. “In the past,

it has targeted Angelica Choc—the wife of

Adolfo Ich, [the man] who was shot and

killed. Now, it is targeting the women,

trying to turn some women against the

other women.”

The community of La Union was home to Adolfo Ich, an outspoken mining critic who was shot and

killed. Photo courtesy of Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors

“This is an old story that is

replaying itself out all over

again.”

—Grahame Russell of Rights Action

When asked to comment on the threats,

both Small and Wanless said they are an

unsettling development, but one that is

not surprising. Small highlighted how

geographical isolation could add to the

community’s vulnerability.

“The fastest way to reach Lote Ocho

requires an uphill drive in a Jeep or allterrain

vehicle, followed by an over-twohour

trek up the side of a densely forested

mountain,” she explained. “The limited

access to communication with family,

friends and allies in other places certainly

impacted Lote Ocho’s ability to respond to

threats and attacks.”

Though the pre-trial decision has been

hailed as a victory, the trial to follow could

still take years. “[The decision] is absolutely

a breakthrough, but this won’t all of

sudden bring proper and full accountability,”

said Russell. “It was a step that had

be fought for and won, but there is still a

hugely long way to go.”

Small said the injustices committed in

other countries implicate Canada’s whole

political and economic system. “Canadian

government actively supports the

[mining] industry, both financially—such

The Dominion November/December 2013

as through pension plan investments—and

politically.” She listed a host of political

players, including Canadian embassies and

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs

and International Trade, who negotiate

international trade deals and partnerships

with mining companies operating in the

Global South.

For Small, this means that the problems

faced by the Q’eqchi’ won’t be solved in

one courtroom. “We’re looking at complex

systems...that serve to concentrate power

and resources in the hands of a small few,

especially at the expense of Indigenous

peoples. It’s going to be a long struggle to

reverse these patterns, and one that needs

to play out on more than one continent

and in a multitude of settings.”

Wanless was cautiously optimistic about

the court’s decision. “This case is the first

of this kind but I think that claims like this

are going to be much more common,” he

said. “It is no longer possible for Canadian

courts to deny that this is a Canadian

problem that deserves a Canadian solution.”

Arij Riahi is a legally trained writer based in

Montreal. Arij tweets as @arijactually.

19


Vancouver Media Co-op

An upstream battle

Ottawa still blocking salmon conservation on the west coast

by Nat Marshik

Seton Lake was dammed by BC Hydro in 1956. Dams like this one reduce water flow for migrating salmon. Photo by Nat Marshik

20

VANCOUVER—As

sockeye salmon braved

killing temperatures in

the Fraser River this

year, tempers heated

up over federal inaction

on conservation recommendations

the Cohen Commission released last fall.

The iconic Fraser River sockeye—a keystone

species in West Coast ecology—have

been in decline for the past two decades.

This year’s run of only 3.7 million fish

prompted the Department of Fisheries

and Oceans Canada (DFO) to shut down

commercial, sport and Aboriginal sockeye

fisheries in August.

The parent generation for this year’s

run was the disastrous run of 2009, when

only 1.4 million sockeye—instead of the

expected 10 million—returned to the

Fraser to spawn.

That collapse spurred the creation of

the $26 million Commission of Inquiry

into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the

Fraser River, led by Justice Bruce Cohen.

In October 2012, Justice Cohen released a

1,200-page report containing 75 conservation

recommendations. Yet according

to the Cohen Report Card released by

the Watershed Watch Salmon Society,

DFO has already failed to meet 14 of 23

deadlines.

“It’s hard to find somebody who isn’t

upset,” said Aaron Hill, an ecologist

for the Watershed Watch, in a phone

interview with the Vancouver Media Co-op

(VMC). “It’s been almost a year since the

[Cohen] report came out, and there’s been

no official response from DFO. It’s just

crickets—there’s nothing happening.”

The St’at’imc Chiefs Council in Lillooet,

BC, representing eleven communities of

the St’at’imc First Nation (pronounced

Stat-lee-um), released a statement in

August calling Canada’s inaction on wild

salmon “inexcusable.”

“Salmon this year have had an incredibly

hard time getting to their spawning

grounds, and they’re not helped by the fact

that there’s still major effluent discharge

into the river, there’s contaminants from

mining and runoff from agriculture, and

yet DFO thinks that this all can be solved

by pulling Indians off the river,” said Garry

John, Chief of the Seton Lake Band and

Chair of the St’at’imc Chiefs Council, in a

phone interview with the VMC.

Most fishing in St’at’imc territory takes

place near Lillooet, at the confluence of

the Fraser and Bridge Rivers. Chief John

explained that DFO’s enforcement officers

may charge, fine, or seize the fish and

equipment of First Nations people caught

fishing when restrictions are in place—in

spite of St’at’imc claims to sole and exclusive

jurisdiction on their territory.

“We make an argument that they [DFO]

have purported jurisdiction—because

we’ve never given up our right to fish,” said

Chief John.

“Historically we had some really strong,

vibrant fish runs and thriving fish habitat.

But that’s all been decimated by BC Hydro

developing their facilities and their infrastructure

in the territory.”

The Chiefs Council cited three decades

of St’at’imc-led initiatives to conserve

sockeye salmon. St’at’imc have forgone

fishing the endangered Early Stuart stocks,

have managed spawning channels and

have successfully negotiated with BC

Hydro about dam-related water flow.

“Aboriginal people have a huge responsibility

when it comes to managing the

resource and are very poorly resourced in

order to do that. But nevertheless we’ve

done some incredible things in St’at’imc

territory, and those seem to go largely

unnoticed by federal government and/or

by DFO,” said Chief John.

The Fraser River panel, which functions

under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, makes

decisions on fisheries closures.

“The panel consists of equal numbers

of representatives from Canada and the

US, and we jointly review information,”

explained Jennifer Nener, DFO’s Acting

Director of Salmon in the Pacific Region,

in a phone interview with the VMC. “The

crux of our focus on the harvesting side

is trying to provide opportunities for

Canadians while making decisions that

The Dominion November/December 2013


Vancouver Media Co-op

will ensure—or hopefully ensure, as much

as we can—that there will be fish for the

future.”

In March the Harper government cut

DFO’s budget by $100 million over the

next five years.

“So many people have been laid off in

that ministry,” said Bill Spencer, a Lillooet

local who has worked in salmon conservation

for three decades and helped found

the community group Salmon Talks in

2009. “All their habitat specialists in this

area are gone now.”

Layoffs do not bode well for a task as

notoriously difficult as salmon management.

“Salmon are really complex,” said Hill.

“We have five species [in BC], but they’re

made up of hundreds of genetically

unique, individual populations that are

uniquely adapted to the various rivers and

streams that they return to spawn in, and

they’re made up of thousands of individual

spawning populations spread throughout

the province. So the threats that they

face...are all very unique. Often there will

be a number of salmon populations that

are doing poorly at any given time, and

there will be some that are doing well.”

Pink salmon are a case in point, with

a whopping 26 million returned to the

Fraser this year. Though a boon to commercial

harvesters, their abundance

presents new challenges to sockeye

conservation. Commercial fishing boats

called seiners scoop up thousands of fish

at a time. Although they’re required to

throw “bycatch” (restricted salmon, like

sockeye or Coho) back into the river, DFO

estimates that only 75 per cent of those

thrown back survive.

Hill said that with “no allowable mortality

on sockeye,” DFO should not have reopened

the seine fishery in September. He

noted that river temperatures alone—as

high as 3.8C above average, according to

DFO—are “almost lethal to these fish.”

Temperature is just one of myriad

dangers facing sockeye over their complex

life cycle. Hatching in freshwater

spawning channels, sockeye develop from

alevins into fry and later into smolts.

Smolts develop “compass orientation” and

saltwater adaptations for their migration

from nursery lake to ocean, a journey of

up to 1,200 km. From the mouth of the

Fraser, the young sockeye then migrate

The Dominion November/December 2013

north through the Strait of Georgia. After

two years in the open ocean, they migrate

back to their ancestral spawning ground to

spawn. Once back in the river, they survive

only on the oils stored in their flesh.

Justice Cohen investigated the impact

of “predation, infectious disease, contaminants,

climate change, stressors in the

freshwater environment...and stressors in

the marine environment” on the sockeye’s

decline. While no single threat was

isolated as a “smoking gun,” none could be

eliminated either.

Cohen’s recommendations emphasized

that more data are crucial for understanding

the significance of the diverse threats

to salmon stocks.

Nener could not comment on the Commission.

“None of us has a crystal ball in

terms of what’s going to happen in the

future,” she said. “We’d all love to, but

none of us has it.”

“DFO thinks that this all can

be solved by pulling Indians

off the river.”

—Chief Garry John

Yet DFO still hasn’t fully implemented

the 1986 Habitat Policy or the 2005 Wild

Salmon Policy, which, according to Cohen,

would have given managers “the information

to better predict, understand and

react to the low return [of 2009].” They

also might have predicted high returns like

this year’s Pinks, or the sockeye bonanza

of 2010.

Key to implementing the Wild Salmon

Policy is a scientific report measuring the

status of different Fraser River sockeye

populations relative to healthy population

benchmarks. In April, the Globe and

Mail accessed confidential copies of the

report, which rated 7 of 24 conservation

zones as “red zones” at risk of extinction.

Yet the report has been held up in Ottawa

for more than a year, withheld from both

fisheries managers and the Cohen Commission.

Hill called the delay political. “There’s

a lot of people working for DFO at the

local and regional level who care about

salmon...But there’s an organizational

culture, and a management culture, that’s

absolutely dysfunctional, where that

results in pandering to special interests

and a sort of bureaucratic inertia.”

Chief John was also critical of the

industrial lobby. “It seems like when the

commercial and the sports fishing industry

starts crying and whining...they get some

kind of kickbacks because of the impacts

on their industry, on their so-called

livelihood. Well, they can be re-trained...

to do other things, through employment

strategies. Aboriginal people don’t have

that other opportunity, to go and get fish

elsewhere.”

Without more stringent conservation

measures, he predicted that “we’re going

to continue to see the salmon paying the

price...and that’s going to impact significantly

the Aboriginal way of life on the

Fraser River.”

In the long run, the sheer diversity of

salmon populations means that at least

some are likely to weather long-term

threats such as climate change. “Salmon

have shown that they are remarkably

resilient,” said Salmon Talks’ Bill Spencer.

“The main thing is that even though they

go through these periods of real difficulty,

they’re amazing in their ability to return

and to re-establish themselves.”

Spencer can testify to hundreds of

volunteer hours from locals engaged in

salmon conservation. Members of Salmon

Talks have put together Salmon Cafes and

the “Walk with the Smolts,” a yearly educational

program attended by hundreds

of schoolchildren from the Lillooet area.

They’ve also participated in the Paddle for

Wild Salmon and trips to communities

along the river.

For Hill, the good news is that activities

like these, and polling data from

Watershed Watch, suggest that industrial

interests do not represent majority public

opinion. “The political leadership at DFO,

I think, is completely out of touch with

what’s happening on the west coast,” said

Hill, “and it’s completely out of touch with

public sentiments regarding wild salmon.

“What it comes down to is that people

want to see salmon coming back to their

coastlines and to their local streams and

rivers. You don’t need an expert to tell you

that that’s the sort of bottom line that you

need to have.”

Nat Marshik is a white queer artist living

in Vancouver. She’s also an editor for The

Dominion magazine.

21


Montreal Media Co-op

Montrealers rally for the release of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani from prison in Egypt. Photo by Tim McSorley

Canadians Freed from Cairo Prison

Thousands of Egyptians murdered or jailed as repression continues

by Montreal Media Co-op

MONTREAL—As the

military government in

Egypt continues to crack

down on protesters and

political dissidents, the

case of two Canadians

has highlighted the plight of thousands of

political prisoners detained in the country.

John Greyson, a documentary filmmaker

and activist from Toronto, and

Tarek Loubani, a doctor from London,

Ontario, who regularly donates time to

humanitarian causes, were arrested in

Cairo in August, where they spent 51 days

in jail without formal charges. After a

focused and powerful campaign centred

around the slogan “Free Tarek and John,”

the pair were released from prison. They

have since returned to Canada.

The two men were arrested in Cairo in

the midst of a protest outside an Egyptian

police station. At least 600 people were

arrested during protests that night, bringing

the total number of arrests of political

dissidents to at least 3,600 since President

Mohamed Morsi was removed from power

in July. In addition, thousands of people

have been killed for participating in public

demonstrations.

After a month in prison with no end

to their detention in sight, Loubani and

Greyson released a letter describing what

happened the night they were arrested.

They revealed that they had witnessed

the killing of 52 protesters and speculated

that their arrest may have been related

to footage of Loubani providing medical

assistance to injured protesters.

“We were two of 602 arrested that

night, all 602 potentially facing the same

grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson,

conspiracy, terrorism, possession of

weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking

a police station,” the two men wrote. “The

arrest stories of our Egyptian cellmates are

remarkably similar to ours: Egyptians who

were picked up on dark streets after the

protest, by thugs or cops, blocks or miles

from the police station that is the alleged

site of our alleged crimes.”

The support campaign in Canada

focused primarily on freeing the two Canadians,

with petitions and rallies demanding

action from the Canadian government.

But Loubani and Greyson’s words provide

only the briefest glimpse into the ongoing

political violence in Egypt since the Arab

Spring first shook the North African nation

in early 2011.

22

The Dominion November/December 2013


Lessons in Colonialism

An interview with Idle No More-Quebec co-founder

Montreal Media Co-op

by Matthew Brett

MONTREAL—Tears

and resilience were on

display in Montreal

during the Idle No More

day of action on October

7th, after more than

12 police officers abruptly tore down a

symbolic tepee outside of the Palais des

congrès. That’s where the National Energy

Board (NEB) is currently holding undemocratic

consultations on the Enbridge Line

9 pipeline, which the NEB itself said has a

“high” risk of rupture.

Matthew Brett interviewed Idle No

More–Québec co-founder and organizer

Melissa Molen-Dupuis on October 8. This

is an abridged version of that interview.

Matthew Brett: Tell us a little about

what happened last night.

Melissa Molen-Dupuis: We were set to

occupy Place Jean-Paul Riopelle next to

the Palais des congrès as a way of reaffirming

our sovereignty on the land. In

a peaceful way we wanted to protest the

Enbridge pipeline that is being discussed

this week in Montreal, but as soon as we

put up our symbolic tepee, the police came

over and pushed us over and they took

away our tepee and broke it down.

MB: I was there at the event and it was

very moving time. You were crying, and

you said as police were taking away the

tepee that they are continuing to colonize

your lands. But then you also said, “We

wish you a good life. We wish your children

a good life, and we hope they have

access to clean drinking water.” Could you

speak about that a bit?

MM-D: Before, when I was younger, we

saw the Oka Crisis. All I wanted to do

was hate on policemen and people from

the army, but now I just see that they are

human beings the same as us. But for

them it’s hard to see that the way they

are acting is really illegitimate because

The Dominion November/December 2013

they don’t understand the

symbolism of what they’re

doing. Destroying a tepee

is a very strong symbol in

First Nations culture, so

they are continuing with

acts of colonization.

It’s really hard not to hate

somebody when something

so violent is happening to

you, but instead of hating

that person I would rather

tell them that I wish you to

wake up and see that what

we are doing now is for you

as well. It’s not against you.

It’s not white people against

red people. It’s human

beings fighting for human

beings, because they are

drinking the same water,

they are breathing the same

air. But they’re following

orders in a blindfolded

way, and they also don’t

know anything about First

Nations and our history,

our culture and our rights.

As one example, yesterday

when we were performing a ceremony,

the police came over and said, ‘You are

going to have to move across to the park

now [because] the Palais des congrès is

not happy with you being here—they are

scared of you.’ I said we are going to do

our ceremony and cross very soon.

They were arguing with me and one

of the officers said, ‘Well, imagine if

someone came into your kitchen and did

whatever they wanted.’ I said, ‘Sir, that’s

what happened 480 years ago. I think you

can endure 15 minutes of ceremony and

be peaceful about it.’ I also asked on the

microphone that they not shove any of our

elders.

That day was also a recognition that

there is a relation between Aboriginal and

non-Aboriginal people with the Royal

Proclamation [of 1763]. So it was very

symbolic when a tepee was destroyed. So

Police tore down a symbolic tepee at an Idle No More occupation

in Montreal. Photo by Helen Downie

some activists went over and said they

could not do that, and one police officer

said, ‘Do you think the city of Montreal

really cares?’

So it’s been a hard night. It’s been very

symbolic and an eye-opener in terms of

how much our rights are still in danger of

not being recognized by the government.

We had youth coming 1,000km from up

north, from their community to Ottawa.

[Prime Minister Stephen Harper] went

to Toronto to greet two pandas instead of

greeting those youth. That’s a very strong

symbol of what Harper is doing to this

country.

Matthew Brett is the social media editor for

Canadian Dimension magazine. He spoke

with Melissa about colonialism, racism and

Idle No More in an online interview series,

available in full at mediacoop.ca. Reproduction

of this interview courtesy Canadian

Dimension.

23


Toronto Media Co-op

Conservatives Commemorate

“Victims of Communism”

Monuments not usually spurred by politicians, expert says

by Saira Peesker

TORONTO—The leader

of a group receiving $1.5

million in federal funds

to build a monument to

victims of communism

says Canada’s Prime

Minister and Minister for Multiculturalism

have been part of the project from the

start—a role uncommon for politicians in

the creation of public monuments.

Toronto-based Tribute to Liberty has

been fundraising for the monument since

2008, but had only raised $1 million of

its $4 million target when it was given a

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

grant last August. The monument’s design

will be decided through a competition, but

the National Capital Commission (NCC)

has already granted it a plot in Ottawa

between the Supreme Court and Library

and Archives Canada. It is expected to be

completed by the end of 2014.

“True inspiration comes directly from

the PM,” Tribute to Liberty chair Ludwik

Klimkowski told the Toronto Media

Co-op in a recent phone interview. “It was

Stephen Harper’s idea of recognizing the

contribution of people who came from

communist countries.”

Klimkowski also said Tribute to Liberty

“has its beginnings in 2008 when [Multiculturalism

Minister] Jason Kenney was

visiting a memorial erected by another

group,” but declined to answer further

questions about the politicians’ histories

with the organization.

“This is not a Conservative Party

project,” said Klimkowski. “This is meant

to create one unified site of commemoration

where we can learn from each other’s

experiences and come to a healing place.

[It’s a] representation of the Canadian

mosaic of ethnic groups and a representation

of the safe harbour Canada gave us.”

Tonya Davidson, an assistant professor

of sociology at Ryerson University, has

studied monuments in Ottawa extensively.

She said it’s very unusual for monuments

to originate from government;

24 typically, they are devised by

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney (right) sits beside Klimkowski at an official

announcement for the memorial. Image courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada

special interest

groups and

brought to a

body such as

the NCC for

approval and

support.

“The

majority of

monuments

in Ottawa

weren’t the

ideas of

people at the

government level,” she said in a September

phone interview. “They respond to citizens’

proposals, and will decide if they want to

donate land or money.”

According to Davidson, it is also rare

for the government to fund monuments in

the capital region. More often, it assists by

providing plots of land through the NCC.

She said the Peacekeeping Monument and

the National War Memorial, which were

completed in 1992 and 1939 respectively,

were two notable exceptions that did

receive taxpayer cash.

Not surprisingly, the government’s

support of Tribute to Liberty has drawn

criticism from the Communist Party of

Canada. The Party released a statement

on September 3, 2013 saying it finds the

concept itself offensive, but also believes

it is out of step with NCC guidelines for

memorial content.

According to those guidelines, the NCC

“recognizes the role of commemorations

in achieving its mandate of building pride

and unity among Canadians.”

The Communist Party statement said

the monument will divide Canadians, not

unify them, and noted that the number

of victims included “Soviet citizens who

perished...during World War II...as allies

of Canada.”

“The true underlying goal of this campaign

is intended to intimidate and isolate

progressive parties and movements, and to

limit the free expression of ideas,” it said.

The Party called the monument a throwback

to the “red-baiting” tactics of the Cold

War era.

“Such policies had a terrible chilling

effect on public discourse and sharply curtailed

the freedom of expression and associated

democratic and trade union rights

of all Canadians,” read the statement.

Davidson, however, believes the

monument falls in line with Canada’s other

memorials to war history, observing that

people from communist countries have

long been barred from laying wreaths at

the National War Memorial.

“People can critique it, but it does open

up a useful and productive space for Canadians

to mourn and commemorate the

victims of communist violence,” she said.

Davidson identified Ottawa’s Canadian

Tribute to Human Rights monument as a

possible alternative for such commemoration.

“[The proposed project is] not a monument

to victims of an economic system of

production, it’s a monument to people who

are violently oppressed,” she said. “But it’s

also necessary to think about how workers

in our capitalist system are recognized in

our built environment.

“The impulse is to counter this with a

monument to victims of capitalism—but I

don’t think they are mutually exclusive.”

Saira Peesker is a freelance journalist in

Hamilton, Ontario. She writes about politics,

business and the arts.

The Dominion November/December 2013


y Heather Meek

Comic

The Dominion November/December 2013

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The Dominion November/December 2013


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