Opinion Piece re: Idle No More Movement – Chronicle Herald

by Sandy Greenberg and Linda Christiansen-Ruffman, Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace, Halifax

STANDING TOGETHER

Idle No More Rally, Victoria Park
Idle No More Rally, Victoria Park

On Sunday, December 30, despite the stormy weather and less than 24 hours notice, over 100 people gathered in Victoria Park in Halifax to support the “Idle No More” movement and Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Chief Spence had been fasting for twenty days without solid food to support her request to speak with Prime Minister Harper as representative of one nation to another. The Idle No More movement, initiated by four Aboriginal women, has captured the imaginations of Canadians of all ages who have shown their support through letters, petitions, street actions, ceremonial drummings, speeches, and sympathetic fasts.

The storm briefly abated while Mi’kmaq singer and drummer Joan Smith led the group in the Women’s Warrior Song and the Round Dance, and Mi’kmaq elder Billy Lewis spoke of the importance of women’s leadership. Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace expressed our support through our presence, banners, and brief statement. The  national Canadian Voice of Women for Peace has sent a letter to Prime Minister Harper as well as encouraging others to join in solidarity.

Idle No More Demo
Idle No More Rally, Victoria Park

Canadians who want to see a livable future in our country, and a just future, share the concerns being raised by Chief Spence. We all need fresh water to drink, clean air to breath, and housing that we can be healthy in. Right now these needs are not being met in Attawapiskat and in so many other native communities. This is Theresa Spence’s pain, and this is Canada’s shame.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, who has called on the Canadian government to take greater action to invest in Aboriginal communities, stated, “The social and economic situation of the Attawapiskat seems to represent the condition of many First Nation communities living on reserves throughout Canada, which is allegedly akin to Third World conditions.”

We were encouraged when Prime Minister Harper, representing  all Canadians, apologized for the residential school system in 2008 and promised to build a new relationship based on partnership and respect. But actions speak louder than words. The Canadian constitution entitles First Nations to substantive consultations. The federal government has not been honouring these commitments and longstanding treaties with the First Nations. In 2006, the Harper government canceled the Kelowna Accord that committed $5 billion to improve education, health care and housing in Aboriginal communities across the country. Earlier this year, the Conservative government cut funding to some aboriginal groups. This summer, despite protests from indigenous groups, it also passed omnibus Bill C-38 which contained very damaging measures to weaken environmental assessments and threaten Aboriginal territory. Now Bill C-45, in the words of Idle No More founder Sylvia McAdam, “is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country,” The proposed Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPPA) also threatens indigenous rights, and there has been no consultation on its implications. If the Harper government is sincere in respecting indigenous rights in this country and working in partnership, now is the time to take those very important steps to Chief Spence’s teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa just steps from Parliament Hill, and listen to what she has to say.

These issues go far beyond First Nations concerns. We see the erosion of Canadian democracy and the threats to our air, water, and soil–the elements that sustain us all. We see the connection between the issues of the environment, justice, women’s rights, native rights, the growing inequality between rich and poor, and the right to a peaceful existence on this earth. We see that the Harper government is squandering our future by ignoring both the rights of native peoples and the rights of all Canadians.

We understand the importance of Aboriginal women leaders refusing to support the domination and violence that have characterized our world for centuries. They will help us end colonialism, militarism, bullying, rape, and wars, and teach us ways towards peace, equality, and respect for each other and the earth.

This is an issue for all Canadians. We can no longer be idle. We stand with Chief Spence and for future generations.

Letter to the Editor, Chronicle Herald – the role of Women Peacekeepers

by Sandy Greenberg

Your December 29 front page headline “2014: year of ‘horror, fear, despair’ for children” stopped my breathing; my mind raced for possible reasons. Then I saw the subtitle “UN study says 230 million kids live in areas of armed conflict”.

Children are terrified, injured, killed, and driven from their homes by armed conflict. They are also kidnapped, harmed, subjected to sexual violence and forced to become child soldiers, inflicting harm on others.

A great fear of parents is that we won’t be able to protect our children from harm. There are many things that we can’t protect them from. But is armed conflict one of those things?

Military and paramilitary campaigns attempt to establish power over others and security for the “winners”. Civilians are directly targeted, and children are not spared. Exerting violent power over others feeds the vicious cycle of harm. Instead, can we create security for all people, and therefore for all children of the world?

Humanity is in urgent need of a new way of seeing what is possible. Perhaps we can find that way by calling on the wisdom, experience and expertise of women peacemakers, as mandated by U.N. Resolution 1325, before, during and after conflicts.

Austria issues historic pledge at Vienna Conference

ICAN: momentum generated by humanitarian initiative must lead to ban treaty process in 2015

At the closing of the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”. MORE+

Celebrate With Us!

Building Peace and Justice: From the Local to the Global

Share in Celebrating the City of Halifax’s recent joining the list of “Mayors for Peace” on International Human Rights Day.

Date & Time: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 7:00-9:00pm
Location: Local Women’s Council House, 989 Young Ave. (at Inglis), Halifax

Program:

  1. Isabelle Gagnon – harpist, will play before and after the programme
  2. Olga Milosevich – Master of Ceremony and Panel Moderator
  3. Joan Smith – Mi’kmaw Gathering Song
  4. Alexa McDonough – Introduction of Councillor Watts
  5. Councillor Jennifer Watts – Response on behalf of the City of Halifax
  6. Yoko Nishiguchi – Greeting from Hakodate, Sister City and member of Mayors for Peace
  7. Nancy Covington – Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, Physicians for Global Survival
  8. Panel Discussion – Building a Culture of Peace
  9. Maya Eichler, Professor Women’s /Political Studies MSVU
  10. Christine Saulnier, Director CCPA Nova Scotia
  11. Allison Sparling, MSVU Graduate and Social Activist
  12. Questions/discussion – Nancy, Maya, Christine, Allison and audience
  13. Linda Ruffman – Moving From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace, The White Poppy Initiative
  14. Sandy Greenberg – song
  15. Closing remarks – Olga Milosevich

Time to celebrate, make new friends, meet old friends

Snacks from Our Thyme Café, Dartmouth