Sudbury Social Justice News - February 27, 2012

Feb 27, 2012

Sudbury Social Justice News - February 27, 2012

This post has not been approved by Media Co-op editors!


1) Tuesday, February 28: Lecture on "How the 1% Won: the Rise of Income Inequality in the Affluent Democracies"

2) Wednesday, February 29: Raptivism: House Show Featuring Testament, Silvertongue, Johnny B

3) Thursday, March 1: Meeting of Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty

4) Thursday, March 1: Planning meeting for the March 23rd anti-poverty/anti-austerity ally and march

5) Sunday, March 4: International Women's Day Celebration

6) March 4-13: 3rd Annual Israeli Apartheid Week at Laurentian University

7) Thursday, March 15: ReOccupy!

8) Thursday, March 15: Film Showing of "Blue Gold: Water Wars"

9) Tuesday, March 20: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore



1) Drummond Proposes Harris Style Cuts: Banker Proposes Massive Service Cutbacks for Ontario

2) "My Sudbury is a Green City" was the message at the first public input session for Greater Sudbury's Official Plan Review

3) Environmental Injustice & Resistance: Why we need to support KI




Tuesday, February 28: Lecture on "How the 1% Won: the Rise of Income Inequality in the Affluent Democracies"

Time: 1:00-2:20pm

Location: Classroom Building, Room 203, Laurentian University

The Department of Economics invites all members of the university community to a seminar by Dr. John Peters, Department of Political Science, Laurentian University, entitled "How the 1% Won: the Rise of Income Inequality in the Affluent Democracies."

For further information, please contact Dr. Brian MacLean, Department of Economics, or ext. 4225.



Wednesday, February 29: Raptivism: House Show Featuring Testament, Silvertongue, Johnny B

Time: 9:00-11:30pm

Location: 93 Willow St., Sudbury




T.O.'s revolutionary fire-spitter returns for another round! Testament is one half o...f Test Their Logik, who not only spit it, but live it, and are dedicated to the fight against greed, oppression, and marginalization. If you haven't seen Testament, get ready for high-energy battle cries, class-war chants, and a furious delivery of powerful raps guaranteed to excite both hip-hop heads and non-rap listeners. Testament has just returned from some pretty extensive travels, and no doubt we will hear about his experiences connecting with activist circles worldwide.


Get ready for an eclectic mix of poetry, wordplay, performance, activism, and observation. Silvertongue's solo show features emotionally intense rhymes over some unique home-brewed beats. Silvertongue is the resident MC in the experimental hip-hop band Village of the Sound (on hiatus) and is working on an EP, his first official solo release.


Johnny B is a bit of a veteran in the local hip-hop scene. He has been doing it for quite awhile, and delivers an energetic performance full of wordplay, catchy hooks, and a range of styles. He's got a fightin' spirit and a true respect for the culture. Expect a sound that is current, with hints of the golden era. He is currently working on his first official album, and collaborating with local producer Jus B.

This event on Facebook:



Thursday, March 1: Meeting of Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury

Come get involved in anti-poverty organizing!

Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty mandate:

SCAP is a direct-action anti-poverty organization based in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.  We provide direct-action support work assisting individuals in their struggles with welfare and ODSP, housing, employers, and others who deny people what they are entitled to in order to meet their needs.  In addition, we mount campaigns against and support educational work about regressive government policies as they affect working people and people living in poverty. We believe in the power of people to organize themselves.

We believe in the power of resistance.



Thursday, March 1: Planning meeting for the March 23rd anti-poverty/anti-austerity ally and march

Time: 1:00-2:00pm

Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury

The new Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) decided, as part of a province-wide campaign by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the Raise the Rates campaign, that we will initiate with other supporters of Raising the Rates in Sudbury a rally and march on Friday, March 23rd.

This will be in the lead up to the provincial budget which is slated to come down on March 29th. Below please find a preliminary statement for this event that has been drawn from the statement for the March 16th rally and march being organized in Toronto. We are suggesting that this event start at 3pm in Memorial Park with free food, some entertainment and a rally to be followed after 4pm (when more people can come after work and school) by a march.

To organize for this event, we are inviting you to a planning meeting on Thursday, March 1, at 1pm at ReThink Green (behind Eat Local) at 176 Larch Street.


Preliminary Statement



Friday, March 23, 2012

Free Food, Rally and March

Starting at 3pm at Memorial Park

Join the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) and supporters of the Raise the Rates campaign for free food, entertainment, a rally and a march on Friday, March 23rd, in the lead up to the 2012 Provincial Budget. The McGuinty government (which includes Sudbury cabinet minister Rick Bartolucci) has hired former head of the TD bank, Don Drummond, to propose and provide the basis for massive social cutbacks in their 2012 budget. It is being drafted as the Provincial component of the austerity agenda that is gathering force across Canada and internationally. Queen`s Park and Ottawa are delivering austerity, but clearly it is being cooked-up on Bay Street by bankers like Drummond for the benefit of their rich friends.

We have to stop the cuts and fight for what poor and working people need!

The measures they intend to hit us with will fall on top of the losses we have already faced:

-Social assistance rates have lost at least 55% of their spending power since the days of the Harris Tories; the base amount for welfare today is a despicable $599/month

-The minimum wage has been reduced in real terms and more and more workers are forced into low wage jobs with E.I, employment standards and protection for workers being steadily eroded

-The fastest growing numbers amongst the poor in Ontario are racialized people without status; forced in to an economy that benefits from their massively underpaid and exploited labour, but fails to provide even basic services

-Waiting lists for social housing across this province are decades long while people are priced out of the private housing market and homeless shelters are overcrowded

-Access to affordable childcare is almost non-existent while thousands wait for limited subsidy spaces.

For poor people and workers in this province, it has been a constant state of crisis. McGuinty and Bartolucci are now preparing to make this situation much worse. On March 23rd, after gathering for food and speakers in Memorial Park we will take our message to a number of locations where decisions are being made by and for the '1%'.

We will be marching to oppose austerity measures but also to demand the reversing of previous cutbacks, the right to a living income, the right to affordable and accessible housing, and for good quality public services for all! We will be marching against the kind of society Drummond and the rich are creating, and for one that meets the needs and improves the lives of all of us!



-Organize a contingent: bring a group of people from your organization, neighbourhood, city or union local to this demonstration - bring your needs and demands

-Drum out Drummond: bring drums, noise makers, pots and pans

-Banners, flags and signs: Organize a 'banner making day' in your area, bring your banners to the march

-Help fund food, transit tokens, ASL, and materials for the day: if you or your organization or union local can make donations of money or in-kind, please help us make this day as participatory and accessible as possible

-Build the movement: add your organization's to the list of endorsers for this day of action

-Get the word out: help us get the message out about this day of action, forward this announcement far and wide, contact us if you would like to help with postering, flyering, etc.

Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty



Sunday, March 4: International Women's Day Celebration

Time: 1:00-4:00pm

Location: Howard Johnson Plaza, 50 Brady St., Sudbury


Silent Auction

Door Prizes

Guest Speakers:

France Gelinas - MPP Nickel Belt

Doreen Ojala - Food Shed Project/Community

Gardens Project Manager

Angela Recollet - Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre

Executive Director

Guest Performers:

The Waabishki Mkwa (White Bear) Singers

Jeff Stewart - Spirit of World Drumming

Cost of Admission: $3.00

Donations of personal hygiene/toiletry items for local shelters are also appreciated. A special draw will take place for all who donate toiletry items.

Proudly Sponsored By: Sudbury & District Labour Council Women's Committee

(Please note, all proceeds are returned to the community in the formation of donations to local women/children organizations. Each year two different recipients are chosen)

This event on Facebook:



March 4-13: 3rd Annual Israeli Apartheid Week at Laurentian University

Israel Apartheid Week is a global week of educational and cultural events designed to inform people about the Palestinian struggle against Israeli state occupation and the apartheid - that is, separation and subordination - policies of the Israeli state directed against the Palestinian people.

1). David Heap on the Canadian Boat to Gaza: Two Talks

David Heap will give his account of the Freedom Waves to Gaza which took place in November 2011, when Irish and Canadian boats tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. A linguistics professor at the University of Western Ontario, Heap was on board the Canadian Boat, the Tahrir, when it was seized by the Israeli navy in international waters. Freedom Waves is part of an ongoing global solidarity movement challenging the blockade of Gaza and working for freedom for Palestine.

The Campaign to End the Blockade of Gaza -- Canada's Role

Sunday, March 4th

2pm  Rethink Green (Behind Eat Local), 176 Larch Street

Firsthand account of the Capture at Sea of the Canadian Boat to Gaza

Monday, March 5th

10am Room L-239, Laurentian University.

Co-sponsored by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Canadian Arab Federation, the Canadian Peace Alliance, Independent Jewish Voices, the Sociology Department and the Research Centre in Social Justice and Policy at Laurentian University.     


2). No Pride in Apartheid: From South Africa to Israel/Palestine

Tuesday March 6th

1pm, Room L-516

Please join us during both Pride Week and Israeli Apartheid Week at LU for an educational event on the links between queer solidarity with the struggle against South African apartheid in the past and present queer solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli state apartheid policies. This will include the current queer campaigns against the efforts to pinkwash Israeli state policies against the Palestinians. Videos by gay artist/activist John Greyson will be shown. Presented by Laurel O'Gorman and Gary Kinsman.


3). Reuben Roth - "Split Labour Markets and the History of Palestinian Labour in the Israeli State"

Wednesday, March 7th,

7pm, Room C-205

This will be housed in the Sociology of Labour Markets course. It will begin with a short history of the establishment of the state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine to set the context.


4). Jaffa - the Orange's Clockwork, a film by Eyal Sivan

March 8 - Thursday - 2:30pm - Parker Bldg room L-516

film promo -

Jaffa's orange is one of the symbols that helped build the Zionist discourse about Palestine: a "desert we have made bloom". From the picking of the fruit to its packaging before exportation, the orange was a source of revenue for thousands of peasants and workers, not only from Palestine, but from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon too.

Eyal Sivan is an Israeli Jew, self-exiled to France and teaching in England. His film shows the orange groves, based on photographic and cinematographic documents, some going back as far as to the 19th century, at a time when Arab Jaffa was one of Palestine's most populated and thriving cities, when  Jews and Arabs worked together in the orange groves. These images are progressively replaced by socialist realist images, Israeli style - depicting labor and songs, emancipated women in shorts - the spreading of the "Jewish Labor", a socialist call to action excluding the Arabs.

In 1948, Jaffa was ruined under the bombs and most of its population was gone. Jaffa's orange then became the symbol of an Arab-free Israel. An international advertising campaign imposed the name "Jaffa", like a trademark, concealing the city of Jaffa, its more than a hundred-year-old orange groves, and the history of the Jewish Arab cooperation over this legendary fruit.


5). Yves Engler - "Prime Minister Lester Pearson and Canadian State Support for the Israeli Occupation of Palestine"

Tuesday, March 13th

1pm Room L-516

Former Vice President of the Concordia Student Union, Yves Engler is a Montréal activist and author. He has six published books: his just released Lester Pearson's Peacekeeping, the Truth May Hurt, Stop Signs - Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay (with Bianca Mugyenyi), The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (Shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non Fiction in the Quebec Writers' Federation Literary Awards), Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and (with Anthony Fenton) Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority and Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid.


Israeli Apartheid Week is organized by the Palestine Solidarity Working Group and sponsored by the Sociology Department and the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy. 



Thursday, March 15: ReOccupy!

Time: 8:00-11:00am

Location: Memorial Park, Minto St. & Brady St.

March 15th is the International Day of Re-Occupation!

We have been occupying all this time, whether in public spaces in the cold, or in the political and social spaces of our communities! But on March 15th we shall make a new reinvigorated public stand! Join us, brothers, sisters, comrades, neighbours!

Occupy is assembling at the Memorial Park on the morning of March 15th, at 8:00am. At 9:00am Occupy will march through downtown Sudbury, announcing the re-Occupation, and then return to the Memorial Park to set up tents and accommodations.

Please attend the next two general assemblies for planning. The GAs will be held every Thursday, at 7:00pm at Myths' & Mirrors' downtown location. During the next two weeks we will be planning, making signs, assembling resources, coming up with slogans and chants, drafting media statements and so on.

We encourage everyone to invite friends to this event. However, we do not want to alert the media and the city authorities of the re-Occupation before the day of the action. And seeing how Occupy Sudbury facebook page has been infiltrated by trolls and media personnel, we ask that you exercise discretion over whom you invite. Please invite only people you know personally. The media will be notified on the day of the reoccupation.

For further information and the event calendar please visit Occupy Sudbury webpage at:

Inquiries can also be made by calling Dave Sylvester at: 705 665 6997

Do what you can. Where you can. Keep it local. Help make it global.

Keep it peaceful. Occupy!

This event on Facebook:



Thursday, March 15: Film Showing of "Blue Gold: Water Wars"

Time: 7:00-9:00pm

Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury

Blue Gold documents the environmental issues behind why we are rapidly losing our fresh water supplies, the politics behind water ownership and distribution that are worsening the situation, and the scenarios of what will happen as water becomes increasingly scarce.

This event on Facebook:



Tuesday, March 20: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Little Montreal, 182 Elgin St., Sudbury

Matters to be discussed include upcoming educational events in Southern Ontario, producing an informational pamphlet about Moore's struggle for justice, and fundraising.




Drummond Proposes Harris Style Cuts: Banker Proposes Massive Service Cutbacks for Ontario

By Bill Bradley, courtesy of Sudbury Grassroots Media Working Group:

Sudbury - Draconian cutbacks delivered by the Mike Harris Conservative government are back, or should be, according to economist Don Drummond.

The former TD Bank analyst released his prognosis of the Ontario economy along with hundreds of cost cutting measures for public services the day after Valentines Day. The report is available on the website of the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

"To meet its own goal of a balanced budget in seven years, the (Ontario) government will have to cut program spending more deeply on a real capita basis, and over a much longer period of time, than the Harris government did in the 1990s," Drummond wrote on page 10 of his executive summary.

That is because Ontario's $14 billion deficit in 2010-2011 was, "equivalent to 2.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the largest deficit relative to GDP of any province," he stated on page one. Furthermore, "net debt came to $214.5 billion, 35 percent of GDP," he added. Drummond noted that if Ontario pursues a status quo scenario then, "the deficit would reach $414.4 billion, equivalent to just under 51 percent of the province's GDP."

During the Harris years social assistance rates were cut by 22 percent and were hotly contested by community activists including those in Sudbury, especially after the death of a woman who was denied welfare services.

Drummond proposes more severe cutbacks including:

-decrease program spending in most government ministries by 2.4 percent each year to 2017-18 resulting then in a total shortfall of 17 percent lower than the status quo projection, "a wrenching reduction from the path that spending is now on" Drummond notes on page two of his executive summary

-implementing higher water bills to recover the full cost of water and wastewater services

-cap growth in health care spending at 2.5 percent each year to 2017-18

-cap growth in primary and secondary education spending at one percent each year to 2017-18

-cap growth in post-secondary education spending excluding training at 1.5 percent each year to 2017-18

-cancel full day kindergarten program or delay its implementation from 2014 to 2018

The cuts will mean the elimination of thousands of jobs in the public service and education systems including 70 percent of the 13,800 non-teaching positions added to the education system since 2002.

Drummond admits, "our message will strike many as profoundly gloomy" and will surprise Ontario residents who are not aware of the "depth of the problem and its causes."

During a media scrum in Toronto, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said one reason for the ballooning budget deficit is the extent of corporate tax cuts she estimated costing taxpayers and the provincial treasury $2 billion per year.

"Can we afford to continue spending on corporate tax cuts," she told reporters after the release of the report. She said the report was too one sided, highlighting spending cuts while neglecting seeking new sources of revenues.

Conservative leader Tim Hudak doubted the Ontario Liberals had the fortitude to follow Drummond's recommendations saying to reporters, "this report will disappear on the shelves." Furthermore, "if the Liberals reject the Drummond recommendations what is their alternative?" he asked the press.

Locally, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci thanked Drummond for the advice on on his Facebook site. "Our government will continue to move forward with a responsible plan to eliminate the deficit and create jobs for Sudbury families," he posted.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas was quoted by local media sources as saying she supported some of the recommendations such as increased funding to community health programs and chronic care but disagreed with others. "It is how it is to be done that is important," she said on CBC Radio One. She also said last week that the report would be flawed because it did not consult with health care workers.

Sault Ste. Marie Liberal member David Orizetti, assistant to the premier, said on CBC Radio One Thursday morning that not all the Drummond recommendations will be implemented and that others will be implemented over time and not suddenly while noting spending on the education systems had increased under the reign of the Liberals in Ontario. He said spending on primary health care spending rose by 63 percent in the past decade and that efficiencies could be found to slow costs.

As for raising taxes, "that is the last place we want to go," he affirmed. He also said the 500 OLG jobs at a headquarters operation in his city would not be eliminated if he had any say in the matter though one OLG headquarters operation was signaled out for closure by the Drummond report.

Bill Bradley is a Sudbury writer and freelance journalist.



"My Sudbury is a Green City" was the message at the first public input session for Greater Sudbury's Official Plan Review

By Naomi Grant, , courtesy of Sudbury Grassroots Media Working Group:

"How do you see Sudbury in twenty years?"  Put another way, "what type of city do you want to live in?"   These are the questions residents of Greater Sudbury are being asked during the municipality's Official Plan review.  Going by the first public input session held January 23, the answer is green and healthy.

"I want to live in  a city that is walkable and pedestrian friendly, has public transit that is good and affordable, and a city that follows sustainable environmental practices,"  wrote Blaire Flynn, in a submission that was echoed by many others painting a vision of a sustainable community with a high quality of life..  John Gaul added a sense of urgency, writing "The next twenty years will need to be a period of rapid transition to a completely different type of city.  A Green City."

With an estimated 150 citizens packed into Council Chambers, fourteen community groups, eleven individuals and one representative of industry presented their submissions.  Twenty of the twenty-six presentations spoke to a vision of  a sustainable community.

This theme was also seen in the written submissions received before January 23 from twelve community groups, thirty-six individuals, and three representatives of industry.  All submissions from community groups advocated for a greener future.  Among individual written submissions, 50% did the same, and an additional 17% made specific 'green' requests for their area such as bike lanes or improvements to transit.  Four individuals wrote in with a contrasting vision, opposing bike lanes, or advocating for easier subdivision of rural land.  The remaining 22% of individual submissions spoke to matters of concern with a specific property or neighbourhood.

Supporting active transportation, protecting lake water quality and watershed health, and enabling local food and agriculture were the topics most touched on, consistent with emerging trends identified by city planners, and with priorities identified by the local environmental community.

Rainbow Routes Association invited people to see the city through the eyes of an eight year old girl to illustrate that "the best communities make active transportation easier, more convenient and more attractive for everyone, including 8 year olds, people with accessibility issues, people living on low income, people in and behind a stroller."

In this City of Lakes, many identified the need to address the impact of development in the watershed on water quality.  "No building development should be allowed in wetland or floodplain areas as they are natural filtering areas", wrote David Furino.

Similar sentiments were expressed in regards to protecting natural areas.  "Consider the quite necessary health benefit of preserving our ever diminishing green spaces for future generational enjoyment," urged John Larmen in his written submission.   Like many others, his submission also spoke to the value of the trails and natural area behind Laurentian University and the desire to protect this area by removing plans for a proposed road (the LU link) from the Official Plan.

Creating walkable communities, and addressing climate change were also recurring topics.  "Climate change is connected to everything," stated Cathy Orlando, who leads the local chapter of the Climate Change Lobbyists.

In 2005, residents had the opportunity to have their say on the first draft of Greater Sudbury's Official Plan.  As seen in the Planning Committee minutes, community stakeholders had already conveyed to city planners the importance of active transportation, lake water quality, and protecting agricultural land.  However, of twenty presentations made by the public, only three spoke to a larger green vision for the city, and public input meetings were poorly attended.  There has been a marked increase in community engagement.  Why is this the case?

Mark Simeoni, Manager of Community and Strategic Planning, pointed to the city's new use of social media tools such as Facebook, twitter and webpages, as one reason.  Another likely reason is the growth of community engagement in general.  Of the fourteen community groups that presented January 23, at least half did not exist in 2005.  This speaks to a growing involvement in the community on these issues.  It also means that there are many more networks of like-minded people, facilitating the sharing of relevant information, such as the opportunity to express their vision during the Official Plan review.

The Official Plan is a roadmap of how the city can change and grow.  This review, mandated every five years by the Province of Ontario, is an opportunity to check the map and make sure it's still taking us where we want to go.  Citizens can continue to submit input on-line, by mail, or at further public input events expected in the coming months.  Details can be found at  To view submissions to the January 23rd public meeting , click on 'Participation'.

Naomi Grant presented on behalf of Coalition of a Liveable Sudbury January 23

Please note that when tallying the number of submissions, multiple submissions from the same source were counted as a single submission, and letters of support for a given submission were not counted as separate submissions.



Environmental Injustice & Resistance: Why we need to support KI

By Sarah Rotz, courtesy Intercontinental Cry:

In 2008, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Chief Donny Morris, along with five other community members, were criminalized and jailed for saying "No" to mining exploration on their land. Although the Ontario government ultimately settled the case with Platinex Inc. (by providing the company with a $5 million handout), the government was unwilling to assure KI that unwanted mining exploration would stop categorically. Moreover, the Ontario Mining Act continues to enable free entry for mining companies like God's Lake Resources; the newest gold mining company to stake a claim on KI land.

KI First Nation-a remote fly-in Oji-Cree community located roughly 1,400km northwest of Toronto-has governed and cared for their land since time before memory. This immense and rich area of lakes, rivers, boreal forests, and wetlands provides KI (with a population of 1,300) with the essential elements of life, including a clean and consistent supply of fresh water. Indeed, one of the many reasons that KI has chosen to say no to mining exploration on its Homeland is that it would contaminate much of the local water system. As a result KI has created an official Watershed Declaration and Consultation Protocol, which declares that "all waters that flow into and out of Big Trout Lake, and all lands whose waters flow into those lakes, rivers, and wetlands, to be completely protected through our continued care under KI's authority, laws and protocols. We look at protection as restoring our land and waters to their original condition and preserving them in that condition for future generations. No industrial uses, or other uses which disrupt, poison, or otherwise harm our relationship to these lands and waters will be permitted. This includes no mining exploration..."

Clearly, KI has a vision for their land and environment that benefits the KI people, and all life. If nothing else, this vision must be respected. However, the incompatibility of KI's philosophy with that of unfettered capitalism and economic growth held dearly by our colonial government, makes any form of authentic, unconditional adherence to KI's declaration unlikely.

Development as Environmental Injustice in Canada

In Canada, environmental and health advocates are often dismissed on grounds that they are unable to present clear causal links between the activities of industrial companies, and the effects experienced by the community. This strategic dismissal of causality-and indeed, dismissal of the people most affected by the injustice-is typical in cases of water, soil and air contamination. It is a common legal position deployed with unconscionable regularity by the Canadian government, as well as various federal and provincial Ministries including Environment Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Energy Mines and Resources and Natural Resources.

While it may be true that the diffused and ambulant nature of ecological elements may make causal patterns of contamination difficult to identify, the Canadian government has done little to facilitate research or exploration into the impacts of corporate activities on people and environments. Indeed, there are many instances in which the government has actively concealed the demonstrable truth of these claims. They have suggested that claims of environmental injustices are simply untraceable and unprovable, all without any due diligence. This position of willful ignorance and plausible deniability is an effective green light for any and all environmentally destructive corporate activity, as well as a legal bulwark against those who would seek to hold them accountable for their actions.

Communities affected by corporate activities on their land, or attempting to prevent such activities, face a tireless search for scientific evidence to corroborate their lived experience. Such endeavors require a great deal of resources. Of course, most communities simply do not have access to the required time, money, knowledge or power. More importantly, they are often unable to prevent the perpetrator-likely a potent mix of public and private entities-from using aggression, violence, intimidation, coercion, or even extortion to destroy the community's capacity for resistance. The kicker here is that most cases like this are occurring on unsurrendered First Nation lands, which are to be governed by the First Nation community, and off limits to unwanted development, period. No trial should be necessary, because as long as the land is being used against this Nation's wishes, the community should have full right to say "NO!" This continuous disregard for such rights means that all communities-in Canada and elsewhere-must step up and support them in their resistance.

Indeed, cases like this are typical within geographically, politically and/or socio-economically isolated or oppressed communities. First Nation reserves such as Aamjinaang know these battles well, and bare the scars to prove it. Aamjinaang is a Chippewa (Ojibwe) community just south of Sarnia. As a result of various oppressive forces, Sarnia's chemical valley and various other industrial areas have been built directly around the community, enclosing it in the chemical debris of some of the largest industrial corporations.

Consequently, Aamjinaang has been dangerously exposed to toxic levels of industrial chemicals. And the effects are devastating. Residents suffer physical ailments ranging from persistent and debilitating migraines to a multitude of cancers: lung, liver, colon etc. Still, the trifecta of legal, political, and corporate hand-washing insists, there is no causal evidence that proves these effects are directly related to the ongoing industrial activity. This fails to explain why the male-female birth ratio has been dramatically altered. Presently, twice as many girls are being born than boys-an effect often caused by chemicals that imitate endocrine hormones. The release of industrial chemicals has also affected the community's cultural practices and livelihood activities including hunting, fishing, ceremonial activities and medicine gathering. Nevertheless, those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in Aamjinaang, have clung desperately to the claim of insufficient causal evidence. Most disturbingly, this claim is being laid to protect industrial producers, and allow them to continue operating on land that is not theirs in the first place, while drawing an immense profit.

Although this community has been fighting a battle with the government and industry for years, little has been done to protect the community from ongoing chemical contamination. The longstanding issue for Aamjinaang, as with many health and environment cases, is that the government continues to disregard cumulative effects of pollution, contamination and toxicity by preventing legislative regulations limiting these effects. In fact, Environment Canada issued an approval for increases in pollution by local industry. In November 2010, residents of Aamjinaang launched a full lawsuit challenging this development. That being said, Aamjinaang has been working on proving their case for years and they are now just shifting their efforts towards government. This change in tactics is a response to the industry's statement that they abide by regulations that the government sets. What this statement ignores is the pressure the industry puts on governments to regulate in their favor. The tremendous power held by companies is used to coerce government action and/or inaction. According to Aamjinaang, the government follows a long-standing modus operandi when responding to community health and environment claims: "deny, divide, delay, discredit".

In contrast to environmental contamination cases such as Aamjinaang, mining represents some of the most explicit and traceable forms of ecological and social destruction and injustice. The sources of the toxic burdens of mining are highly physically concentrated. Thus, the "deny, divide, delay, discredit" approach taken by powerful polluters, would seem to be much more difficult to seriously adopt. That said, the situation in KI demonstrates the importance that power itself plays within our colonial society. Of course, Platinex, De Beers and God's Lake have certainly done their fair share of lobbying, and their unabashed government support should be proof enough.

Before proceeding, I want to preemptively consider a potentially dangerous, and indeed popular, counter argument to analyses like this one. The argument goes as follows: perhaps the practice of displacing a small indigenous population in order to secure massive amounts of raw resources that would service an entire nation, is not, at bottom, unethical. That is, perhaps, at least in theory, there is some way to justify, or balance the initial moral deficit of the endeavor. The Canadian government views itself as a representative of an entire nation-a nation they say, which is predominantly concerned with jobs and economic growth. The government is therefore obligated to demonstrate their competence in providing relevant resources and services to the nation we call Canada. Of course, if they could do this inexpensively without polluting indigenous territory, they would. If they could do this without forcing themselves into indigenous lands, they would. But, they say, they cannot. That being said, surely there must still be a win-win situation to be had? Somehow we can strike a deal that will make "both sides" happy. What would this look like? In it's abridged version there seems to be two steps. 1. Carefully, and with foresight, the government would relocate the affected indigenous population. 2. As compensation, offer them a sizable funding package. The population will be better off because they do not have to bear the health and livelihood effects of mining, and Canada can continue is upward economic and consumptive trajectory. No harm, no foul.

The problem with this perspective is that it fails to recognize that indigenous people never overtly surrendered their lands to the colonial government at any point in the treaties. The government of Canada's ongoing act of dispossessing First Nations is based on a flawed assumption that, through treaties, the colonial government acquired full ownership over what is now off-reserve indigenous land. The fact that these unsurrendered lands were unilaterally placed under federal and provincial management, and are now are being used for the purposes of lumber, mineral, water and oil extraction (among countless other forms of extraction and dispossession), patently illustrates the ingrained nature of this flawed assumption. To deeply reconsider this assumption means that a vastly different process of engagement would have to take place between the government-and the corporations it alleges to regulate-and First Nations. Under the traditional application of First Nation minority rights in Canada, when dispossession occurs, indigenous communities cannot simply decide, voluntarily, to leave or to accept whatever compensation the government is offering. Indeed, if the "deal" presented by the government is not accepted, the government can simply revoke it, along with many 'rights' that the government has granted the indigenous population. The indigenous community will ostensibly be labeled an enemy of the colonial state and forcefully relocated, and any contractual obligation for compensation is largely null and void. Although the government actively conceals this process, it has been physically, socially, environmentally and culturally destructive for indigenous peoples in Canada-indeed, one need to look no further then the Attawapiskat case to see the devastating consequences of dispossession, encroachment and dislocation. The issue here is that this traditional and ongoing mode of engagement between the government and First Nations is based on a profoundly flawed assumption of ownership (both of land and people) by the colonizer, and is being continuously reproduced in the interests of the state. From an indigenous perspective, the argument is one of sovereignty. Thus, to speak of land and natural resources in Canada as if they are all part of a unified, uncontested whole under the Canadian government is to erase a 400-year history of violent colonization, dispossession and indigenous resistance. In essence, this line of argument is missing an important consideration. At the same time, this kind of discourse necessarily frames a particular group of people and their land claims as simply something that can be bought and paid for, rather than a sovereign right. This objectifies and commodifies and entire group of people based on nothing more than a combination of their race and geography. Surely our collective memories are not so shortsighted that we need to be reminded of where this kind of ontology can lead? Ahem.... slavery?

Lastly, it should be noted that the resource in which Gods Lake Resources is pursuing in KI is not farm land to feed Canadian's, it's not even oil to keep us living the comfortable life we have grown accustom to. It is not lumber for houses, it's not coal for power-that's not to say that if it was oil, coal or lumber it would be acceptable. Indeed, the resource is gold: the penultimate expression of opulence, indulgence and extravagance. This is not about maintaining our industrialized living standards; it's about making money for some of the wealthiest companies on the planet.

Supporting KI Resistance

Although the intensity of destruction regarding mining and other forms of extraction (most notably, the Alberta Tar Sands) is patently clear, ecological systems and affected communities continue to struggle and resist against ongoing development. Even in cases where communities like KI have asserted their sovereign right to refuse unwanted extraction on their unsurrendered land, industry continues to try to seek access. Indeed, as with all injustices, environmental injustice requires a manifest shift in power, its distribution, as well as the distribution of resources that define such power. Chipping away the power structures of the legal/political/corporate trifecta is not a simple task. Of course, power does not concede without its own forms of resistance.

For KI, this looks very similar to the "deny, divide, delay, discredit" method of resistance that Gods Lake Resources, in partnership with the provincial and federal government, has adopted so vehemently.

In light of this reality, it is imperative that we support the valuable work that First Nations communities like KI are doing. Indeed, KI is helping to shift the scales of power and accumulation that perpetuate environmental injustice, which is beneficial for us all, humans included. We must heed the calls for support that this community is asking of us, and take our cues from them. They are on the front lines here, and their longstanding assertion against colonialism not only makes them more qualified, but it also demands that non-Indigenous communities help in this power shift by naming and respecting those who have born the burdens of colonialism, and its myriad forms of injustice.

Here's how to support KI:

1. Send the KI Action Alert out to your email lists, facebook, twitter etc.:

2. Sign your organization on in support of the KI Water Declaration and Consultation Protocol. Read the support statement, the Declaration and Protocol at Then email to sign-on.

3. Check out the KI official website and for more information.

4. Members of the Toronto Support Network have developed a presentation about issues in KI including screening a short video documentary made by KI. Please contact us if any organizations you work with would like the have us come speak.

5. Inform others about issues in KI and prepare to mobilize around urgent rallies and protests in Toronto if and when KI Nation calls for them.

6. Other ideas: