NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY OF ACTION TOMORROW:
Tomorrow, June 29th, members of First Nations in numerous locations across Canada will be taking part in the National Aboriginal Day of Action. From Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where native people will be slowing down traffic to hand out leaflets, to Montreal, to Toronto, to numerous communities in Ontario such as Hamilton, Kingston, Nipigon, Sudbury, London, Sault St. Marie and Thunder Bay. From a rally by Mohawks at the Seaway International Bridge in Quebec to a threatened blockade in Deseranto, Ontario to rallies in Winnipeg, Roseau River, Manitoba, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and on to the west coast in Vancouver native Canadians will be taking to the streets to protest their past and present treatment at the hands of the Canadian government and to urge that the glacial pace of outstanding issues like land claims and compensation for residential school abuses be speeded up. Here in Winnipeg a march and celebration sponsored by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will begin at 10:00 am at the legistlature and proceed to the forks where the celebration will go from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Manitoba Southern Chiefs' Organization has also called for a one day boycott of non-native businesses by reserve residents.
The highlight of the day will be two events in Ottawa. A march will be held from City Hall to Victoria Island on the Ottawa River. This is being sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations and will pass by Parliament Hill. On the Hill itself the Algonquin members of the Barriere Lake community will set up their own camp. Whether they will still be there to spoil Stevie's Canada day on July 1st is unknown. For 20 years the Barriere lake community has negotiated and struggled to have the federal government live up to commitments that are made but never carried out. Most of the houses in the community are infested by mold, the school needs total replacement and there is a 90% unemployment rate on the reserve. The Quebec government Youth Protection authorities now prohibit newborns and young children from returning to the reserve because of the conditions.
Natives across Canada are virtually unanimous in their desire for peaceful protest rather than confrontation. Despite this Via Rail has cancelled service between Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto as well as other locations in southern Ontario tomorrow because they fear rail blockages. Much media attention has been focused on Mohawk protestor Shawn Brant who hinted to the Canadian Press that the group he belongs to may carry firearms to protect themselves. Ontario Provincial Police Commisioner Julian Fantino responded with something more than hints, saying "...at the end of the day there will be consequences and they will be severe. And hopefully they will be those that will deter others like him from this kind of anarchy".
For a complete backgrounder on the reasons behind the Day of Action, what events are being planned and follow up news Molly can suggest no better source than the Turtle Island Native Network. Tune in there.