Recent CPTnet stories

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Amplification

CPT takes seriously its mission of listening to marginalized people and speaking their truth to a wider audience.  For this reason, our delegation met community members in Grassy Narrows who represent their community’s interests in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), logging companies, and before the courts.

Our host, Andrew Keewatin (Shoon), is building manager and leader of the Trappers’ Centre.  Within the community, Shoon runs AA meetings and teaches children traditional skills like building canoes, snowshoes, and drums, filleting fish, and tanning hide to make moccasins. 

In recent years the MNR licensed logging companies to clearcut sections of forest on his land.  Occasionally he has been able to negotiate with the MNR to preserve bands of forest connecting water sources or to spare trees that have little commercial value.  But in the end, the MNR decides where and when logging companies may cut down forests, not the people who have lived and worked on the land and for generations.




Community member Cheryl Fobister at blockade

When a logging company constructed a road within kilometers of Grassy Narrows, disregarding the wishes of the community, the conflict with the Grassy Narrows community came to a head.  On a cold December afternoon in 2002, three youth blocked the road by cutting down nearby trees.  This bold action brought the people of Grassy Narrows together to form a blockade, an expression of nonviolent resistance that they had been contemplating for some time.

Among the countless people that participated in the blockade, Judy Da Silva emerged as a strong advocate.  Mrs. Da Silva has watched logging companies enter her Nation’s territory for years, clearcut vast swathes of forest, and disregard the concerns her community expressed.  She is a protector of the forest and of the broader ecosystem on behalf of her children and her children’s children.  For her, dispossessing First Nations of their land, refusing to investigate the murder of 1000 First Nations women and the disappearance of 200 more, poisoning the English-Wabigoon River system with mercury, and disregarding the wishes of First Nations peoples for the use of their territory are all connected by a White settler ideology that values only those things that can be converted into money.

Prayers for Peacemakers May 28, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers May 28, 2014

Pray that Supreme Court of Canada will render a just decision, now that it has finished hearing the case presented by the Grassy Narrows’ Trappers that they have rights guaranteed by Treaty and Higher Authority to use their traditional lands.

Epixel* for June 1, 2014

 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;  in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. Psalm 68: 9-10

 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised
Common Lectionary readings.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Through the window

[Note: The following reflection by a member of the May Aboriginal Justice delegation has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original is available here. ]

Two weeks ago on our Aboriginal Justice delegation, we attended bail court for people arrested and held over the weekend in Kenora, Ontario.  We hoped that our presence indicated to both the court employees and defendants that people were watching, that outsiders cared about what happened in that space.

The sharp gradient of power symbolized within the courtroom struck me.  The judge was literally front and center and at the highest point in the room.  His word was law and his orders carried out.  The defendant was cloistered behind glass panels at the side.  He could speak only when spoken to.  His fate was dependent upon the judgments of others.  Dynamics of structural oppression were also at work, from the racialized division of Anishinaabe defendants and white settler prosecutors, to the social, historical, and economic backdrop of the alleged crimes.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Otters and Oppression

One morning during my recent Aboriginal Justice Delegation, a walk around Lake of the Woods led me to an otter.  I love the slinky agility of otters: their graceful dives, the cord of bubbles that marks their underwater path, and their effortless mounting of ice floes.  As a break from its fishy breakfast, the otter climbed onto a dock and shook itself dry.  It squinted up at me, decided that I wasn’t a threat, and pooped on the dock.  Its defecatory duty done, it glided back into the water and disappeared.

Prayers for Peacemakers April 16, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers April 16, 2014

Give thanks that Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has decided not to issue logging permits on Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) traditional lands this year, and that the EACOM and Weyerhaeuser corporations have decided not to purchase lumber from Grassy Narrows' traditional lands.  Pray that justice will be done next month when the case goes to Canada’s highest court in Ottawa that will focus on whether Ontario has the right to issue permits on traditional lands, which First Nations believe are protected by a treaty agreements.