I won’t be celebrating Canada Day this year

Canada is going through some things lately and its very troubling to watch as some folks deny and dismiss what we are; how we became us.

Ours is a story of European exploration and proxy battles that led to a nation being settled on land where nobody bothered to ask those who lived here if it was ok to do so. But it didn’t matter. The imperialists who set policy for the ‘new world’ were certain that any land in the west was theirs to take and those already here were savages and would accept their new rulers. If you wanted to know where white supremacy comes from, its what founded North America.

I write this as a white person who is learning the cold truth about what those who built Canada (and America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc) did to lay claim to their new nations. We tried to destroy those already here.

Our first nations were subjected to a legal and imperialist system they were never intended to be an equal party to. Our country, Canada, passed the Indian Act which was the inspiration for South Africa’s apartheid model.

Our government granted license to the church, largely the Catholic Church, to operate Indian Residential Schools. They were, by design, an attempt to force assimilation of first nation peoples into the society of Canada. We’re learning of thousands of newly discovered, unmarked graves of children, buried at sites owned or controlled by said schools.

Forget any qualifier questions of ‘well, how did they die?’ (though that is very important to know). Consider that these were unmarked graves – which means that someone made decisions that those children should be buried without knowledge of their existence.

Who goes out of their way to hide dead children?

Criminals.

I’m unmoved by anyone arguing that these kids might have died from natural causes. This might be true – even for a majority of cases, but more importantly – WHO are these children and WHY did they die.

I’ve written before that these kids deserve to have their names and a cause of death that they may finally rest in peace. But if you’re going to argue that such an investigation would cost to much – well fuck you. There are adult survivors walking around today from these schools who have no clue what happened to their sister or brother. There are elderly first nation peoples today that never knew what happened to their sons or daughters – except to be told that she or he ‘ran away’ from school.

What if this was your relative? Wouldn’t you want to know the truth?

My country did this. My country engaged in genocide and genocidal activities. We tried to eradicate a people because they were ‘different’. How does that make us any better than those we fought against in WW2?

Our last residential school closed in 1996.

No. I won’t be celebrating Canada Day this year. I’m not at all happy with how Canada became ‘great’. It was built upon the bodies, hidden in the dirt, a foundation of shame and lies.

Not anymore.

my2bits

My heart aches for the Pacheedaht

I must start out by reminding readers that I am neither first nation, nor a member of the Pacheedaht first nation. That being said, the recent chain of events has me wondering the mindset of the Pacheedaht who were outnumbered by the protesters blockading their lands in an attempt to stop a duly signed logging agreement from being acted upon.

The Pacheedaht, like every other first nation in BC have been under the thumb of the colonial system from the first arrival of their European masters several hundred years ago. Generations of indigenous folks have had to endure unspeakable things as the rulers took land, took children and tried to eradicate cultures and societies which have existed beyond memory.

To make a long story short, first nations in BC have won successive court cases and political battles that have allowed them to emerge again as nations’ within Canada.

This places us on the path we’re on today of reconciliation. That is to say; coming to terms with our horrible past and the terrible things we did to our first nations; a path forward. What that looks like for each and every first nation is complicated and presumably highly technical…but that’s a discussion for people smarter than me and elders of the various first nations.

Where the Pacheedaht’s role is here is that they’re well down the path to a modern treaty and an established business plan to get major improvements for their people.

As a nation that claims as its traditional territories on the pacific, several mountains and valleys, rivers and all the wildlife in between, the Pacheedaht know a thing or two about managing a forest…as they’ve done for thousands of years.

I suppose it was a natural leap for these folks to branch into a modern, professional local forest industry as a source of revenue and job creation for their people. Its worked well. Read this.

Now we arrive at the Fairy Creek event. The background comes from this deal. In short, the Pacheedaht signed a deal with Teal Jones (logging company) to log a tiny blip of trees above the Fairy Creek basin and outside the established protected area. 20 hectares of a total 1200 hectares of the valley…or 1.67%.

This was too much for the Rainforest Flying Squad who declared that they would set up blockades to stop any logging and road building to the affected area. The standoff began.

Teal Jones had a legal right to build a road, access the trees, cut and remove and pay the Pacheedaht a handsome sum of cash for that right. The court said so, the Pacheedaht said so. So the blockade was declared illegal and police moved in to start removing protesters by arresting them.

To their credit, despite an illegal blockade, the protesters political cause is easier to defend than logging in old growth areas. But what was missing from the discussion was the fact that the Pacheedaht leadership signed a deal to log trees from land they control and some environmentalists were trying to stop them. The protesters were determined to make this a political matter to directly attack the NDP government – who was trying to let the Pacheedaht remain as the deciders in this matter – as the new UNDRIP legislation intends.

I try to imagine myself in others shoes in a conflict. How would I feel?

I imagine that the Pacheedaht are probably feeling under siege right now. Their voices are being completely ignored by the protesters. The Pacheedaht leadership signed a perfectly legal agreement to land some provincial cash (a share of the stumpage fees collected) and the deal through the Teal Jones contract. They were perfectly asserting their rights to make substantial decisions on the fate of their territory and they’ve been undermined and ignored.

So they caved. They have been successfully bullied out of their land for the next couple of years through this deferral they sought out. To think that a group of self identified left-wing activists sidelined the wishes of an area first nation and ignore them completely is outrageous.

So this deferral is enough to have the protesters back down and leave Pacheedaht territory?

Nope.

Having ‘won’, the protesters have moved the goalposts. They want more.

Haven’t the Pacheedaht seen this movie before? Outside Influences showing up to their lands dictating what they can or cannot do with their lands and territory? I thought reconciliation and UNDRIP were supposed to move past that.

This is Pacheedaht territory and they have a right to self determination and the right to act in the best interests of their people.

Leave them alone.

My2bits

Divide and Conquer

I posted an image to my facebook and twitter that was largely critical of the Fairy Creek protesters. They appeared to be basking in the self promoting they were doing of stopping all logging on Pacheedaht territory on the same day that the country was reeling from the news of 215 bodies of native children found buried in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The point wasn’t to suggest that the protesters were somehow insensitive to the families and communities who are connected to the 215 lost childred; it was to highlight an ironic hypocrisy of those folks who would claim to be defending first nations at Fairy Creek.

I got my first blowback from that.

See here.

Now, I blacked out the name of the person since I’m not here to humiliate or mock them, but the challenge needs to be answered.

This is not the last stand of old growth trees on the coast. Its nothing like that. Its 20 hectares of a total 1200 hectares of the Fairy Creek basin, or, 1.67% of the available trees.

I’m sure there were other first nation people there. But unless you’re alleging that the business deal that allowed for this project to go ahead was done so illegally or without the authority of the Pacheedaht’s recognized governance and leadership framework, the protesters – including the various first nation attendees aren’t speaking for the Pacheedaht.

To argue that the Pacheedaht leadership – both elected and hereditary – should be ignored in favour of unilateral actions from outside influences is a page out of the book of the very colonizers everyone should be opposing.

We, as (mostly) white people, after centuries of imposing our will on first nations, should not be the final adjudicators of how first nations govern themselves. To undermine them as this challenger has (and the remainder of the protesters), undercuts decades of reconciliation and treaty-making progress. This is very dangerous.

I’m no ally of big corporations, but to imply that one is the big bad guy looking to take advantage of the poor hapless Indian is insulting, twice. It suggests that ‘Indians’ don’t have the smarts to make a business deal to the benefit of their community and that they cannot be trusted to govern themselves.

The Pacheedaht have governed themselves and had done so for ages before the arrival of white saviors from Europe. We took that away and nearly destroyed them and many other first nation communities along the way. We tried hard; just the other day, we discovered that 215 of them were buried in unmarked graves near Kamloops.

But they have persevered and fought back. Legally, judicially and in the political arena. The Pacheedaht are rising; and they’re becoming a success story.

Just look: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/forests-forestry/state-canadas-forests-report/successful-indigenous-industry-partnerships-forest-sector-people-seafoam/21197

The final chapter is far from written for these rightly proud people, but now as they assert themselves and try to stand among equals (government to government), along come outside folks who know better.

This is the opposite of reconciliation and UNDRIP…and it might work. These folks might bully the Pacheedaht right out of this deal; they’ve already managed to blockade their local sawmill and marina to demonstrate their ‘point’.

I understand that its politically sexy to oppose cutting trees in forests. Its not as easy to promote it. But this is the world of the Pacheedaht (and others on the coast who might suffer the same fate). They have managed their communities, the forests, the rivers and creeks, the mountains and wildlife far longer than we have been here; and they’ll do fine without our interference.

If we’re genuine about truth, reconciliation and UNDRIP, we’ll respect the Pacheedaht and the decisions they have made on behalf of their people. They have won (back) the right to do so, and we’re out of line to try and stop them.

Leading isn’t easy. Everyone loves a good headline when you’re in charge, but leadership means you take the tough ones too.

Leave the Pacheedaht alone, folks.

My2bits

Justice and Dignity

Did you get sick at the headline that the bodies of 215 indigenous children were discovered buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School? Good. Its awful, and its yet another genocidal act that Canada has inflicted on our first peoples as they tried to assimilate them into Canada. Canada didn’t include first nations cultures and languages, and to a large degree, it still doesn’t.

I’ve already had it white-splained to me that ‘there’s no way to know yet how these children died that they would have been buried there’.

Just. Fucking. Stop.

We don’t even know who is buried there. These were children taken from their family homes and ‘raised’ in a religious state-sanctioned residential school. If there were records kept, nobody knows where they’re located.

Of course we don’t know how these kids died. But here we are, 215 children buried in the dirt, in unmarked graves that nobody has seen fit to discover until now. It sounds like some powerful people knew shady things were up and didn’t want the truth to be known.

Well the truth will be known, and not just to the Creator (of whatever faith you accept). Because nothing less than the justice and dignity of a name and cause of death will come close.

On the other, more significant manner. Its genocide. We’ve been killing our first nations ever since we got here aboard wooden ships from Europe and beyond. Say it with me, “genocide” and “systemic racism”.

I want to say that we’ve made progress. Have we? I mean, we don’t scoop otherwise healthy and happy kids from their households to “educate” them in church run schools (to indoctrinate them out of their traditions and home-spoken languages), but we sure do treat them shitty.

We’re still in the habit of telling first nations how to act, how to law, how to career, how to tradition and generally manage their affairs – in societies that managed for tens of thousands of years, long before white folks like my ancestors…thank you very much.

If truth and reconciliation, the UNDRIP are to mean something, then we have to change.

Our first nations don’t need to be told how to grieve this horrible news. Sadly, they’ve heard this sort of thing before. Its not my place or yours to manage their grieve and anger of this to mitigate ‘our feelings’.

First nations are more than capable of self governing in Canada, they’re more than able to manage their lands and act within their rights.

They’re able to do these things because they’ve been telling us that all this time. If you’re listening.

Are you?

I am trying.

I mourn with you. I am angry for you. I hurt for you. And I am truly sorry that Canada has done this to you.

My2bits

Just when you thought the BC Liberals couldn’t sink any lower..

President Joe Biden just signed a bill that allows foreign flagged cruise ships to bypass a foreign port on their way to another US port. In english, this means that a cruise ship is no longer going to stop in Vancouver or Victoria on their way from Seattle to Alaska.

This is meant as a temporary measure thanks to the Canadian federal cruise ship ban at our ports here in response to the pandemic.

This is truly a setback. Our Premier didn’t think it would come to this and had misjudged the resolve of Alaska based legislators who really wanted their cruise ship industry back.

So be it. Temporary, we’re told.

On cue it seems, the provincial opposition party launches a salvo at the NDP effectively blaming the provincial government here for losing 20k jobs.

What.

I get the partisan sniping, etc. But what the BC Liberals have done is a willful misread on what happened to fire a grossly partisan political cheap shot. They were cheering on this bad news as a win. Who does this?

They do.

I mean, what’s the position here for the BC Liberals? That the NDP should have pressured Ottawa into a premature port re-opening for cruise ship despite them being known incubators when an outbreak happens; now with covid19? In a rush to score a political cheap shot, they’ve revealed themselves to be horrible people.

In the last term of office, the minority government of the NDP/Green CASA deal, the BC Liberals behaved themselves relatively well once the pandemic set in. They knew how dangerous and politically stupid it would be to try and politicize pandemic related events. Free from the constraints of a minority parliament, idiotology pours on in from the BC Liberal caucus.

The Federal government put in place a cruise ship ban in 2020 as the pandemic set it. It was renewed in February of 2021 to last another year.

We’re not out of this pandemic and neither are the west coastal US States (including Alaska). By pushing for this legislation, they’re taking their own risks; cruising was halted for a reason. But I don’t answer for them nor will I defend them.

But the BC Liberals have to answer here. They tried to push a regional reopening last year just as the initial wave subsided; a proposal that if accepted would have seen astronomical infection rates as we weren’t ready for that. No vaccine, and the full strength of the virus was just beginning to build.

Imagine if we had taken that bad advice then? Or been pressured into pressuring Ottawa into a premature re-opening of our ports now? West coast ports aren’t the only ones suffering; this is a huge blow to the east coast tourist trade too. Halifax gains billions of dollars in tourist spending cash that sustain the city’s businesses and jobs. They’re hurting too.

The BC Liberals would blame John Horgan for that.

I want this pandemic gone like anyone else, but I still take it seriously. Its not as if by reopening every business and restoring concerts and every venue that covid19 goes away – it does not. If we’re not better prepared, such a premature re-opening would turn to a catastrophic shut down; and unnecessary loss of life.

Todd Stone and his BC Liberal opposition front bench are as useless in offering constructive criticism of government policy as they were when he was in government.

Taking some ghoulish victory lap as they seem to be doing on this cruise ship bypass law from America because it politically hurts the NDP is about as bad as it gets. Todd Stone needs to resign from politics and never return.

What a shameful, juvenile display he and his party have put on. May they never govern this province again.

My2bits.

This isn’t sitting well with me. At all.

Before I get into the gears of my post, I want to be clear that I am no expert on first nation reconciliation and UNDRIP; certainly as it pertains to natural resources on land controlled by a first nation.

I also want to stress that I am not first nation. My family lineage extends into northern Europe so far that a recent DNA test from one of those ancestry-type websites proved me to be over 75% viking.

So what is upsetting me? The seemingly illegal blockades and protests at Fairy Creek on the south Island here in BC. Why is that? Because the first nation who controls the land has signed deals with a forestry company and government – in a joint decision making exercise that is largely consistent with how deals ought to be done under BC’s UNDRIP legislation.

Where did this begin? The Pacheedaht leadership signed a deal.

Enter the environmentalists.

To be sure, many of BC’s more well known movements have large buy-in from various first nation peoples. There are strong cases to be made about protecting the land from gross exploitation and from damaging plots of land that have major cultural and/or spiritual significance to a particular first nation. I get that..I might not understand why, but its not my place to adjudicate the legitimacy of such a claim.

The argument from environmentalists is that the plots of land subject to a logging proposal are in old-growth areas. They claim that it is the last stand of major old growth forested areas on the island. I’ll take that as granted only because I don’t have the information to dispute it.

What I have learned is that from the 1200 hectares of Fairy Creek, 200 hectares is accessible to Teal Jones (the forest company) but only plan to log 20 hectares.

Worlds collide.

The The Pacheedaht have clearly indicated that they wish the project to go ahead as they can rightly use the revenue for the benefit of their community. UNDRIP and reconciliation means that they should and must have a shared decision making role in this. So why are environmentalists determined to stop them from catching up here?

When the protesters refused to dismantle their blockades, the Pacheedaht and Teal Jones sought out a court injunction to remove them.

Before the enforcement order was granted, the elected and hereditary chief signed a letter demanding the protesters and other 3rd party activists leave the area. This matter itself has drawn criticism as it turns out that the Pacheedaht and government were in communications with this letter; and the protesters have seized upon this to de-legitimize the first nation’s demand.

Now, I don’t know what was said between government and Pacheedaht officials, but I can reasonably assure you that if the first nation leadership felt they were being manipulated or cajoled into writing certain things in their statement, they likely would have gone full-court press with outrage. For the environmentalist side of this, to attempt to nullify what their elected and hereditary leadership say – well that’s a whole side of colonialism that I didn’t see coming.

The Pacheedaht have their own negotiators and legal team who have served them well, and UNDRIP calls us to respect the shared decision making that rolls out of that process. EVEN if you don’t like it.

There are some privileged white protesters who come from their well-off, upper middle class neighborhood in the big city who would demand a total halt to logging regardless of the damage done to the small communities who rely on the jobs and revenue from this renewable resource.

There is an attempt to paint this in the same light as the 1993 ‘war in the woods’ that had everyone upset and most certainly did not have first nations buy-in.

Forestry has gone through major changes in the last three decades and is still in flux. It isn’t the job producer it used to be.

We’re at a place where more and more the first nations rising up to take part in an economy and decision making process that has excluded them for our entire history of European ‘settlement’ of the west. A decision is made to log and process less than 2% of the trees in the Fairy Creek basin – which is traditional territory of the Pacheedaht.

I’m pro-NDP and make no apologies for that. I know that many in our party and support base are philosophically opposed to clear cut logging and logging old growth forests. But many of us also are big supporters of UNDRIP and reconciliation; doing the right thing that is. The Pacheedaht forestry deal might end up doing all of the above; logging in old growth areas and a business deal struck by the first nation in question.

The thing about respecting the independence and the right of first nations to make their own arrangements and deals as the Pacheedaht have done is key to UNDRIP, even if we don’t personally like what that might look like. After centuries of being held back and told “you can’t do that” by powerful white leaders, I’m certain that they’ve rightly heard enough from you and I.

To close, I’m attaching a set of images and screenshots related to this file; more powerful white people telling the Pacheedaht what to do.

My2bits

Criticizing covid19 countermeasures should have a test applied

In order for you to have a valid argument to make on covid19 countermeasures, you first have to accept that covid19 is real and deadly; that it’s a dangerous pandemic that must be met with all available measures to mitigate loss of life as best we know how. Because for you do deny the science or medical information that validates the existence of covid19 puts you on the opposite side of every medical community member on earth.

Imagine if you will, that there is a bridge off in the distance. Its old and some say it should be replaced or repaired – at high cost. In doing so, there will be disruptive traffic pattern changes and detours; nobody would enjoy those measures at all. But it needs to be done if the old bridge is to be dealt with.

So you hire some 10 structural engineers to evaluate the true state of the bridge and determine the best plan forward.

Nine of them conclude that the bridge has between 6-9 years of safe usage left before its unsafe to use if nothing changes, that it might collapse and kill anyone on the bridge deck at the time. Those nine recommend a mix of replacement and (major) repairs to upgrade the safety levels to an acceptable level.

One says that everything is fine. You’ve got many decades of safe usage ahead.

Who do you listen to?

In the case of covid19, there is virtually no disagreement in the scientific and medical community that the ailment is deadly and needs to be dealt with quickly. But its not unanimous. There hold outs who argue a variety conspiracy theories that covid19 is fake. This segment is less than 1% of the medical/scientific community. Or, less than one of a one hundred structural engineers in our above scenario.

Now, its fair to argue that one jurisdiction’s pandemic countermeasures are insufficient to whatever degree your expertise level can speak with any authority on. Or blow out some opinion on how you think your government has failed you. Cool, that’s your opinion. But you must first agree that covid19 is real and a lot of people are going to die (…already have died) if we don’t act – or slacken our efforts prematurely.

But if you’re going to argue that covid19 is fake and that everyone should just flout the emergency rules because of a bonkers conspiracy theory, then I have zero problems with the state answering your misinformation with fines or worse. Because what you offer isn’t an opinion, its foisting a dangerous advocacy to break laws no different than yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. Your calls to break rules could get people killed.

Paid sick leave isn’t urgent because its a contest to see who can deliver it first, its urgent because its necessary and right.

There seems to be a rush to claim credit for a program nobody can figure out how its paid for or who’s jurisdiction it is. If you came to me for that answer, sorry, I don’t have it. But what I do have is an idea that might work – if politicians are ready to put aside partisan differences and work across jurisdictional boundaries.

Healthcare is a shared jurisdiction. Labour laws are provincial (in industries that are provincially regulated). Unemployment benefits are federal. Surely there’s enough room to slap together something that can the provinces can deliver that the federal government can pay for. It needs to be a national program though; and spare me the provincial rights lecture. It needs to be federal because at that level, it has national implications that no matter where you live, you can take a day off, sick, and not worry so much about paying rent or groceries. More to the point, the pressure to come to work – risking the health of your co-workers, eases off. The current discourse today is centered around the covid19 pandemic, but this is not the only reason to talk about it.

Yes, there is medical EI – those who lose their work for extended time and apply for EI benefits. But there’s no program for those who lose a day’s pay for a rotten cold, or a flu which wouldn’t ordinarily trigger medical EI. That’s where paid sick leave comes in.

BC has done more and accommodated more than any provincial jurisdiction in Canada; and they’re being torn apart for not making any allowance for paid sick leave. Maybe that’s a bridge too far, financially. BC doesn’t have its own currency and cannot print cash – MMT isn’t possible for a subordinate jurisdiction like a province or an American state. The potential costs for such a program would be pricey, but thankfully the EI fund runs at a surplus – when the federal govt isn’t raiding its funds.

EI is how we pay for it, provincial workers compensation departments are how its distributed so that front line workers in any location never have to worry about going broke because they’re sick.

All that’s left is the political will to get it done.

We’re waiting.

my2bits

The last mile is the hardest.

We have gone from zero to deploying millions of vaccines in a global pandemic in less than two years. Nobody assumed that everything would perfectly go to plan, nor that the plans were perfect.

This has been quite a difficult journey and a lot of good people lost their lives as a result.

But if you had told me a few years ago that we would go from discovery to mass vaccination campaigns in less than two years, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So here we are. Thanks to the sacrifice of thousands of front line trades, essential service workers and first responders. We’re climbing out of a global pandemic in relatively quick order.

But we’re not there yet. Every countermeasure enacted upon by emergency order through the authorities counts on us doing what is required of us – regardless of it’s inconvenience.

Nobody is enjoying themselves here and we all want to live normally again. But these measures, however imperfect as they may be, are essential to getting to the other side of this.

So every time someone decides on their own that they’re done with covid19 and fling reason and common sense aside for self interest is another crack in our defences.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, and nobody likes to shame or ridicule another for their beliefs. But for this to work and cross that line at the end, we must continue this marathon slog to get there.

I’m tired of covid19 too. But covid19 doesn’t care what I think. If I am careless and selfish with my actions, I risk the lives of my crewmates at work, strangers around town, or the lives of those at home, and that is a price I am not willing to take.

Its a mask. I’ll wear it. Its a vaccine, I’ll take whatever is offered to me. I’ll do what it takes to go that last mile; to establish that herd immunity so that covid19 has no place left to go.

There will be plenty of time to digest how this all played out. Things that worked well, things that didn’t. Now is not the time to pander, play politics, or undermine the hard work and sacrifice of those who have given so much.

We’re almost through this. Don’t drop the ball now folks.

my2bits

Endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron

My name is Peter Kelly (he/him) and I have been a resident of Nanaimo since 1997. I’m a past president of the Nanaimo area ferry workers union, a single parent, concerned citizen and I offer my full support and endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron for the Federal NDP nomination for the seat of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

I have known Lisa for over 10 years and was an enthusiastic supporter in her campaign for school district trustee in the previous local elections and I feel that Lisa is the right kind of leadership we need today. 

Lisa’s generosity, compassion, empathy and honest talk is lacking in Ottawa and absent here today. Lisa is the right choice and I encourage all NDP members to follow me and support Lisa in her bid to become the next Member of Parliament from our region.

You can see this amazing candidate for yourself and follow for updates here: facebook.com/ElectLisaMarieBarron
Lisa’s website is here: https://www.lisamariebarron.ca/

If you are not yet a member of the NDP and would like to in order to support Lisa, please click here for an online membership application.

My2bits