Opening Statement



Thursday, 14 April 2016

Toronto: Attawapiskat Occupy INAC!

Some links etc. to follow ...


Some of you might be following my live tweets from the protest at #davidchiarelli. This is a just a quickie blog as I am in the thick of things......

Organizers say there are 17 protesters occupying the INAC [Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada] 8th floor office at the 25 St. Clair office, including a young baby. They plan to be there for the long haul, though food, water, and washroom facilities are limited for now. Police security is pretty tight. I got escorted out. 

The protesters occupy the office reception room. The rest of the office space is locked down or closed off by police. There is no water. There are two buckets for a toilet. Lights go off at night, but there is still power. Supplies seem to be sporadic. Food and water deliveries were being stacked outside but could not be brought in as of this evening. At least one of the protesters has been there since 11 am yesterday morning. The police containment strategy strikes me as quite similar to that used against BLM TO Tent City on College St,. earlier his month.

Protesters were gathering outside all day. Lots of drumming and feet stomping was going on, to keep warm, as the crowd grew. The 6:30 rally was bereft of union flags. That's too bad because they could possibly have provided a "think twice" deterrent as the harassment continues. However, the speakers minced no words, and there weren't any pompous airs. It was a very refreshing, grass root, political protest. 

In it's simplest terms, the Attawaspiskat's immediate demands are simple, and two fold. They want PM Justin Trudeau to come to Attawaspiskat asap for some meaningful talks, not a PR op. They need community resources now to deal with the youth suicide epidemic. The speakers were not naive. As one noted, they have all ready heard "enough words", a sentiment that earned considerable cheers of support from those gathered where I was standing. I was on the front steps, as the speakers stood with their flag in front of the building doors. 



Just a few doors away, pero/ but ....

I note with interest that the OECTA offices are a few doors away. However I didn't see any flags, coffee, no signs of solidarity. The same however, seemed true of the other teacher union affiliates, ETFO and OSSTF who's provincial offices are in downtown Toronto too.

Teachers know about the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Committee] and residential schools. The mass genocide of our indigenous population and theft of their land as we "settled" Canada. The mass suicide epidemic of the Attawapiskat youth, who have given up all hope. 

This is happening here, in Canada folks! If it happened anywhere else in the world we'd be outraged, ready to send in the CF-18's to blow everybody up! One hope's the protest will not fall on deaf, teacher, social justice, activist's ears! Attawapiskat is a huge news story of international interest. The whole world is watching. Let's not be hypocrites! We pride ourselves on being a caring people in a a very developed country, whom believe in justice and human rights! Yet, this is happening in our own backyard!?!?

The rally was tonight at 6:00 pm. A group is camped outside overnight in anticipation of a possible police raid. A protester occupying the office told me that they are upstairs in the INAC office for the long haul. Further events have not been scheduled yet.




NEWS LINKS

[Here's a few, with more to follow!]

Twitter accounts @ Attawapiskat and @ INACgroundzero

Facebook page Ground Zero INAC Toronto

Attawapiskat declares a state of emergency after 101 suicide attempts @ IndianCountry

Statement by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day @ Chiefs

On the Attawapiskat INAC occupation and their demands, including photos of conditions within the office @ National Post

An interesting backgrounder on the crisis @ Globe

On what the young folk in Attawapiskat have to say @ Buzzfeed

BLM TO in solidarity with Attawapiskat @ CBC

Attawapiskat: isolation and despair @ Globe

Bob Rae writes about indigenous youth and the cycle of despair @ Globe

Attawapiskat Youth: what does the community need? @ Huff 

COMMENTS:

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something has to be done finally. The reserve system with no hope for economic self sustainability is a disaster. Any person in those circumstances would succumb to a lack of hope, substance abuse etc. It is time to move forward.

Anonymous said...

Since when did teachers unions align themselves with activists? Does everyone get to vote on where the union donates their dollars??? I certainly hope so. I always thought the unions role was to look after its members. Social causes, charities etc should be left up to each individual member IMO.

David Chiarelli said...

Our Canadian teacher unions have a long proud social justice tradition besides just negotiating contracts for ourselves. Members can vote, run for office and attend local and provincial AGM's to determine policies and directions. We are more democratic than most groups including the political parties that like to criticize. But none of this is hardly new. Please read my "Why You Need A Teacher Union?" to better understand the benefits gained not only for ourselves but also other workers and the communities in which we live. Thanks for your interest.

David Chiarelli said...

It is supremely wrong that Attapiskat has none of the reprequisites for economic sustainability but there is a diamond mine nearby making a killing. Funny how that didn't end up on treaty land and they put squat into the community. Canadians need to have a deeper understanding of how FN land was taken & they were stripped of their culture, even wiped out. We've gone to war against others for doing that! Teachers do have an important role to play in educating our students and the public of what has been/ is going on!

Anonymous said...

I agree that our unions should be looking after all of our teachers first. I, as a white heterosexual male can honestly say that I am forgotten. The LGBT, women, refugees, now take precedent over anything I might want. Check out the conferences/ workshops offered by ETFO. Nothing is geared towards me. My dues should go to helping me as a teacher. The union should not be dealing with the perceived idea of social justice. It has become social injustice for the white heterosexual male.
Anything we do for our native groups seems to go astray because of local leadership corruption (see native leaders and their salaries and benefits).
I taught near a reservation 30 years ago. A new school was built, burned and rebuilt several times. We cannot impose our values on the native groups. Throwing more money at it will not change things. Manufacturing the white man's idea of hope will not change what is happening on those reservations. Let's face it, most of those places are dull, bleak, cold and depressing. What's the answer? There is no answer. The past 100 years has shown that. As a government, our Federal group has created another disaster by bringing in 25000 mostly uneducated, traumatized natives of Syria and plopped them into our society. Let's see where they are in 10 years. Will they have contributed to our society like the Italian's and other Europeans, or the Chinese. Judging by what I see in schools, I say no. The world has an incredible number of problems. It is hard to believe that the best country in the world cannot look after fixing some of it's own problems (homelessness, mental health, native issues, poverty) before tackling issues from other areas of the world.

David Chiarelli said...

Well, I am a white heterosexual male too. I certainly feel more priviledged than hard done with the increasing focus on diversity and inclusiveness I experienced in the union movement over the couse of my career. I believe the indigenous problems are often largely the result of long, ongoing and deep systemic problems that need to. be addressed. I can understand when the FN protester say talking has not worked.

I agree with you when you say we can't provide them with the solutions, in part. We can however help make sure there is a more level playing field for them to find their own way within our Canadian Confederation.

David Chiarelli said...

However, this blogsite encourages other points of view, when they are thoughtfully explained without malice for the purposes of constructive discussion on the no doubt very complex issues we face. We can learn from examining different quite contrasting points of view, when they are freely expressed for that purpose.
I am going to have to disagree with you myself on the issue of white privilege but thank you for sharing why that seems to be such a concern for you.

Anonymous said...

I think we should stop importing American sayings such as "white privilege". As a 40 year old white male I have yet to experience that phenomenon. I do believe that 'class privilege' is a far better representation of the issues we face today. If you are lucky enough to be born into the upper crust, adversity will unlikely be in your vocabulary. Colour of your skin is irrelevant unless you are unfortunate enough to live in the U.S.A

Anonymous said...

The First Nations issue is complicated. But one issue that never gets mentioned is the paying of taxes. Canadians have good schools, roads, and water infrastructure due to the fact that Canadians pay tax. That proper infrastructure doesn't fall free from the skies. Step up and pay all taxes and things will improve on reserves and elsewhere. Why are taxes not paid???

David Chiarelli said...

We can't even find out which Canadians are on named in the Panama Papers, hiding huge amounts of tax free dollars in offshore shelters, could well be our own "leaders"!

Anonymous said...

Resettlement in Newfoundland in the 50s and 60s - Outports moved to more populated areas .
But Jean Chretien's comments deemed "assimilationist"? The same reasons apply now as they did then. Unsustainable isolated hamlets can expect full services.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/chretien-attawapiskat-1.3533331

David Chiarelli said...

Here's an interesting article from TVO on why First Nations people can't just move somewhere else @ http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/why-first-nations-people-cant-just-move

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