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Bridge City

Some events are just too important to stand by and do nothing, even when we feel that our actions might not change the outcome. This morning, I posted this letter to my Member of Parliament, Hon. Lynne Yelich.

Hon. Lynne Yelich, P.C., M.P.

House of Commons

Ottawa, Canada

April 18, 2013

Dear Ms. Yelich:

This letter has been simmering in my mind for some time, and each time that I witness another of your government’s actions, my temperature rises. The thought that your government is on the verge of signing FIPA, in spite of mounting opposition to it from many fronts, has my blood boiling.

In 2011, I returned to live in Canada after an absence of ten years. The country to which I returned was not the same country that I left and the changes that had taken place are becoming ever more pronounced. With these changes, Canadians can no longer feel pride from living in a peaceable, honourable, democratic country.

As environmental protections are systematically dismantled by legislation rammed through parliament in omnibus bills, this country can no longer consider itself one that demonstrates care for the environment. When taxpayer funded scientific research that could clearly point out flaws in current energy policy is cut and what remains is muzzled by government direction, it is not difficult to see the forces that are influencing such actions.

Canada is no longer a country which can be known to fulfill its commitments and legal obligations. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol. It has withdrawn from various UN programs. The omnibus bills, C-45 and C-36, contain various components that will renege on the treaty obligations which Canada has with First Nations.  Meanwhile, as we are withdrawing from obligations such as these, your government is preparing to sign FIPA, which will obligate future generations in much more costly ways. Unbelievable!!

Recently I signed an online letter to the PM regarding Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. You responded and I thank you for that. Today I signed yet another online letter to the government, this time regarding FIPA. I do not know what you feel about such internet generated letters. If you dismiss them as merely an annoying distraction, I hope that you do so at your own peril when the next election rolls around.

Many ordinary Canadians such as myself are becoming more and more displeased with the cavalier attitude taken by your government which puts the interest of large international corporations, especially those involved in the oil and gas industry, ahead of its own citizens. We are not happy that Canada has become a country which is open to be exploited by corporate raiders in order to enable the extremely wealthy to become even wealthier.

Ms. Yelich, you represent a riding in Saskatchewan. May I remind you that ours is a province that in the past was noted for its generousity of spirit – an example of that is the founding of medicare. And while your political beliefs may not allow you to embrace democratic socialism, I would hope that you will not have forgotten the culture of caring for all that our province has demonstrated in the past. The oil and pipeline companies are NOT your constituents – the citizens of the Blackstrap Riding are.

I urge you to withdraw from further discussions regarding FIPA and that you encourage your fellow Conservative MP’s to join you. I call on you to reinstate the provisions for protecting the environment that were dismantled in Bill C-45. I ask you to ensure that your government make a concerted effort to fulfill the legal obligations to First Nations that were clearly set out by Treaty. Finally, I beg you to have the courage to act in accordance with the tradition of our parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament act in the interests of their constituents and where those interests come before loyalty to a political party or its leader.

Sincerely,

It is never too late, right? This morning, as I prepare to leave later today for West Africa, let me enter the Idle No More fray. This movement of the people has captured my attention since the beginning. I have not written about it because others have been so much more articulate and knowledgeable on the subject. But, like I say, it is never too late so here goes.

In 2011 I returned after a 10 year period out of the country. As I readjusted to life in Canada, I realized that it was not the country that I had left in 2001. Instead, there seemed to be more emphasis placed on business, in particular, BIG business, business that has little connection to “the people”. On one hand I saw governments privatizing services that had previously been administered by the government itself under the rational that private business is more efficient and capable. On the other I saw these same governments handing “bail-out” money to private corporations that were failing. Something was wrong – if business was a better idea, then why would they need bailing out? And at the same time that banks and corporations were getting hand-outs, government services for the people who were paying taxes were being cut back. Canadians seemed to accept this – in fact they re-elected the party to power that was responsible for these actions.

But then came the summer of Occupy.  Something seemed to be changing and people were expressing their discontent. I was hopeful. Of course, as the summer changed into fall and then into winter, the tents were taken down, not always peacefully or willingly, and the Occupy movement seemed to fizzle out. With the fizzle went my naive memories of an earlier time in my life – a time of long hair, of protest, of sit-ins, of love-ins, of a generation that thought we were going to “give peace a chance”.

Other events took over. Enbridge. The expanding Tarsands. Another pipeline proposal, this one to the west coast, crossing First Nations lands, endangering watersheds and wildlife habitat and coastlines, all in the interest of  the share value of oil companies bent on making profits at the expense of environment and people, particularly First Nations people.

In May, 2012, the Yinka/Dene Freedom train  rolled across the country to create awareness about the proposed pipeline to the coast. I joined the crowd  at the  station that had come as a show of support when the train passed through Saskatoon on its way to Ottawa (https://vimeo.com/41514349).

As I looked around the station, I recalled another First Nation protest, almost 40 years ago, when I sat at the back of a room in Yellowknife to listen to the Berger Inquiry into the proposal of that time – the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline.  And I recalled occasions after that, travelling with Saskatchewan chiefs and elders to Ottawa, meeting the Minister of Indian Affairs, meeting with Members of Parliament, scouring the National Archives for supporting evidence,  taking part in strategy meetings,  reading the history and terms of Treaty 6… all in an effort to urge the Government of Canada fulfill the legal obligations that flow from that treaty.

Last year, we saw an escalation in Conservative tactics to further change the nature of the country and clear the way for further environmental exploitation. The first omnibus bill, Bill C-36, was introduced to the House of Commons.  Some dissent was expressed but not enough and the Bill proceeded and was finally given Royal Accent later in the year. The Prime Minister and his parliamentary cronies ignored criticism of their bully-boy approach with arrogance and disdain and in fact, they followed up with yet another omnibus – Bill C45.

This time, they may have gone too far. Here, in the territory covered by Treaty 6 and signed 136 years ago at Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt, four women invited people to join them to discuss common issues and concerns. From that meeting spawned a movement which has caught the attention of people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, in Canada and around the world. Is this the time that we take our stand? that we ensure that our government do the right thing – for our children and for our unborn children? that we honour past agreements? that we  safeguard our future environment?

Idle No More presents us with an opportunity as Canadians, all Canadians, First Nations and non-First Nations, to redress our history and to ensure a healthy, vibrant, all-inclusive future. January 28 has been designated as a World Day of Action in support of the Idle No More movement. I will not be able to join the people on the streets in Saskatoon but my support will be coming in spirit from the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Idle? No More!

STORM CLOUDS

 

ominous omnibus clouds

rumbling

over each other

whether watch weather

eye to the sky or to the cellar

while the gods decide

do we dance in the rain

wine in hand in gumboots

with Bacchus

or thunderbolts overhead

do we drum to battle

with Thor

Hoar frost and prairie branches

sketched on a crisp winter sun

sitting low on the noon day horizon

 

Orange harmattan orb

scattering forlorn Sahara dust

over the Gulf of Guinea

The New Bridge to Cape Three Points

Remember my post about the poor condition of the many bridges which lead to Cape Three Points?

http://villagerainbows.com/2011/01/18/bridging-the-gap/

Well, good news for the folks that live in Cape Three Points and the villages leading to it, as well as for visitors to the area!! The bridge which caused so many problems has been repaired and is now open for use by the public. Thanks to Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority.

In January, I posted an item about the bad state of repair of the bridges on the road to Cape Three Points.  Well, I have some bad news and some good news. First the bad news – the wooden bridge collapsed again and the road is closed as a result. And now the GOOD NEWS – the bridge is being repaired!!! Stay posted for updates and don’t be surprised if the people of Chauvine, New Akwadae and Cape Three Points hold their own ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion!!!

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