Monthly Archives: January 2013

One thing is certain…

One thing is certain, tomorrow’s meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Governor General and Aboriginal leaders will take place; or it won’t.

Streaming through the media coverage, Twitter feeds and Facebook status’s surrounding a special strategy meeting with aboriginal leaders is overwhelming.

The majority of media concerns being expressed on behalf, or in light of, Idle No More take shape for and against the concept of liberation being proposed.  However, the mainstream media tonight has been absent with any grass roots voice, especially from the women of Canada’s aboriginal nations.

In light of this absence here is one such voice coming out tonight from The Delta in Ottawa.  A voice of an aboriginal woman with a message so important that it may galvanize and set the tone for all to follow as negotiations run late into the night.

For those of you around the world, share this within your online social circles.  For it, just by itself, speaks of the power in all aboriginal women worldwide.

Perhaps it will change the way Canadians perceive the Idle No More movement.  It has realigned this editor back to where the focus of all of this remains, take a listen:

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INM grassroots voice overshadowed by industry concerns.

7th District Mi’gmaq Territory, Listuguj, Qc.

Location along Gospem Road of Railway blockade. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Listuguj Idle No More (INM) supporters now remain adamant on blocking all railway traffic pending the outcome of the January 11 meeting between Aboriginal leaders and the Harper government.  The decision was made hours after their Monday afternoon meeting with Listuguj Chief and Council and visiting key regional representatives.

Both governmental and municipal stakeholders along the Gaspé region travelled to Listuguj in hopes to appeal freight train passage, citing concerns over their municipal economies.

“The fact is the railway belongs to the municipalities of the Gaspé.  There is a serious impact with the lack of federal funding.  They have a serious issue with being able to get the federal government to pull it’s weight when it comes to supporting the railway and other files as well.  In particular they want to underline that there’s a lot of jobs that are on the line that this railway supports and he has a particular preoccupation with making sure that those jobs and that industry on the railway can continue.”  Said NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone, translating on behalf of Mr. Bertrand Berger, Président of Conférence Régionale des Élu(e)s Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone acts as translator. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo:  Frank Jr Molley

NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone acts as translator. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Mr. Francois Roussy, President of Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie (The Gaspé Railway Company) represented the four Regional County Municipalities:  Avignon, Bonaventure, Le Rocher-Percé, and La Cote-de-Gaspé.  The SCFG president went as far as suggesting VIA Rail passenger trains should be blocked instead of the regions freight trains.  The premise expressed was that of no effect on putting pressure on the federal government in terms of blocking the Gaspé regions freight trains.  Freight trains that are owned and operated by the SCFG’s 325 km railway that runs between Matapedia to Gaspé have a lot more to lose regionally in terms of revenue for the four regional county municipalities.  These municipalities benefit from the use of the Gaspé Railway Company.

In the position expressed by the SCFG’s President on their business relation with Temrex, a leading producer of softwood in the Gaspé, further denial of passage hurts Temrex.

“Temrex is a business that is going to be affected by the protests that are being held right now.  And our intentions is to find a solution that will help unblock that but at the same time allow continued protest and in no way stop the justified protest.”  Said MP Mr. Phillip Toone, translating on behalf of Mr. Francois Roussy.

The Quebec government representative,  Mr. Gaétan Leliévre, Parti Québécois (PQ), Minister responsible for the Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, as an act of good faith asked if there is any other way to help present their ideas in another fashion.  One that perhaps benefits everybody that unifies a way of protesting.

Listuguj Mi'gmaq Chief Dean Vicaire (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo:  Frank Jr Molley

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Chief Dean Vicaire (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Incumbent Chief Dean Vicaire stated that the struggle to provide meaningful employment for the people of Listuguj is not only difficult but is also reliant on government to government relationships that can help provide that employment.  He directed his message to Mr. Gaétan Leliévre,

“Two things we’ve been really pushing and working on is first our Wind Farm, it’s a hundred and fifty mega-watt wind farm that the Mi’mgaq of the Gaspésie, Gespeg, Gesgapegiag and Listuguj, are ready.  We are more than ready and you know that.  It’s just a matter of the Minister putting pen to paper and we can participate on that.”  Chief Vicaire said.

The main industry concerns being affected along the 325 km shortline railway was a topic that consumed the majority of the meeting on Monday.  At best, the INM grassroots voice at the table appeared to be overshadowed by concerns of Regional representatives and that of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government.  No amount of resolution would be achieved in the amount of time allocated for that day’s meeting, but the message was clear.  The Harper government continues to hurt the people of this region and Bill C-45, if anything, forces the local people here to look to each other as ally’s.  How this would be achieved depends solely on the amount of leverage each one can bring to the discussion table.

Alex Morrison, spokesperson for the INM supporters of Listuguj, directed his attention to Mr. Francois Roussy, President of Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie (The Gaspé Railway Company).

(Left) Idle No More railway blockade spokesperson, Alexander Morrison. (Listuguj, Qc.)  Photo Frank Jr Molley

(Left) Idle No More railway blockade spokesperson, Alexander Morrison. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo Frank Jr Molley

“You want us to help Temrex but what does Temrex do for our community?  Those are our trees that you are cutting in our territory.  We made treaties a long time ago that you guys signed with your ancestors and our ancestors.  The Temrex you are talking about is being fed by our resources on our territory.”  Said Morrison.

Temrex plays a major role in the transfer of wood chips and lumber shipped from the four regional county municipalities and the INM supporters blockade of the railway in Listuguj is having a real impact, not on Temrex, but on the regional municipalities that own the railway along the Gaspésie.  If the option to ship is restricted by train, Temrex can simply ship by transport trailers to their destination plants in Riviere-du-Loup and Gatineau, but at an additional cost.

“Only Temrex is using the train, at this time.  In the summer it is different,” says Temrex general manager, Harold Berube during an interview following Monday’s meeting.

“Using the train to ship our chips is the most [affordable] than by truck,” he stated.

When asked whether Temrex arrived here in Listuguj for the meeting to help in the settlement of the issue with the Idle No More railway blockade, the answer was both “Yes,” and, “No.”

“At this time we’ve had a real difficult period for Temrex too, we’ve lost a lot of money.  We’ve lost $12 million dollars in the last year and a half.”  Said Mr. Berube.

Temrex sells their wood directly to White Birch paper plant.  A company that was the second-largest newsprint manufacturer in North America before filing for bankruptcy protection in February 2010.

With files from CBC/Montreal

24 Hour Blockade Ends, More Peaceful Protests Planned

7th District Mi’gmaq Territory

Supporters stand united and brave the cold temperatures in support of Idle No More and Chief Theresa Spence. (Gesgapegiag First Nation, Qc)

Supporters stand united and brave the cold temperatures in support of Idle No More and Chief Theresa Spence. (Gesgapegiag First Nation, Qc)

After a cold evening of manning the blockade over highway 132 near Maria, Qc., supporters and their families of Gesgapegiag First Nation gathered for a meeting at the Galgoasiet Centre on Wednesday. Over one hundred people gathered within, away from the cold biting winds.  As members sat to discuss the blockade and express their concerns, a small contingent remained outside ensuring the highway was blocked.

The Idle No More (INM) movement swept across the Canadian landscape during the Christmas holidays like a sudden winter storm. It’s influence stretched across the globe with the help of online social media. In its wake stood Canada’s aboriginal grassroots response to Ottawa’s Jobs and Growth Act, also known as Bill C-45.  Gesgapegiag is known for being a grassroots community and their recent actions have come to illustrate this.

Wednesday’s meeting would be one of several already held in Gesgapegiag concerning their show of solidarity with the INM movement.  At the forefront sat the Chief of Gesgapegiag, Mr. Guy Condo who was flanked on either side by five out of eight elected council members in attendance.  Leading the meeting was councillor Mr. Quentin Condo as he read aloud over a microphone an information pamphlet in review of Idle No More principles and purpose. 

Aboriginal peoples across Canada have kept a close eye on following the message and direction of the movement which continues to be of peaceful solidarity and unity.  The community had decided that on Tuesday, January 1st, they would organize an event along Rte 132 that runs through the community with a slowing down of traffic to hand out information about the Harper Government’s Bills C-45 and C-38.  Councillor Mr. Quentin Condo said during a Facebook status update that the recent event had positive results,

“Today was a good day in Gesgapegiag with the traffic slowdown and info handouts. It was the first time that I have ever witnessed our Non-Native neighbours delivering our protesters hot coffee to keep us warm. This happened more than a dozen times!”

Later that evening at midnight of January 2nd, a decision was made to go ahead with completely blocking Rte 132 as previously agreed.  Since then and up to Wednesdays meeting inside the Galgoasiet Centre community members especially their youth manned the blockade throughout the night, despite the frigid -27 wind chill.

During the meeting community members listened as they each respectfully spoke about their concerns of how these Bills will affect their lives and the lives of their future generations.  Another aspect of concern was their need to show continued solidarity and unity for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.  At this time it had been Ms. Spence’s 23rd day of a hunger strike.  She has called upon the Crown’s representative and the Prime Minister of Canada to meet on a Nation to Nation basis with Indian, Metis and Inuit Chiefs to discuss their shared Treaty relationship.  In an interview with Shane Belcourt conducted on December 21st, she explained this position in more detail.

“It is time that both levels of government to treat us equal.  To build up our community infrastructure and let us be, like, it is the leadership’s responsibility to plan for their children’s future not the Prime Minister, not even the Crown.  We have our ways, we had our ways, we had our own laws, we had our own laws for the land, we had our own laws for Justice, we even have our own ways for teaching our children.  We need to maintain our cultural way to survive, so that was the purpose of that treaty, to be partners.  But the way it is right now we feel like we are more like a slave to the Minister, not a partner.  When I see my leaders doing their best, it’s the government not just the Prime Minister but the Crown in both levels of government they’re all part of that treaty.  It’s time for everybody to work together that means the government too.”

The meeting took just over one hour before reaching a consensus on a number of issues.  Councillor Quentin Condo of Gesgapegiag said during an interview following the meeting,

“Today’s meeting was a success. People had a chance to express themselves about their concerns and as a community we were able to come to an agreement on how we would conduct our actions against the Harper Government.  There were many emotions because of the concerns for Chief Spence’s health, the Idle No More movement and Bill C45,” he said.

Community support rally together in response to Bill C-45. (Gesgapegiag, Qc.)

Community support rally together in response to Bill C-45. (Gesgapegiag, Qc.)

“We understand the people’s frustrations and feelings of urgency on how they would like to protect our Treaty Rights.  The Chief and Council took the position to support the on going 24 hour blockade that will finish at 10 pm tonight [January 2].  Then we will, as a community, slow traffic for the next two days to inform and invite the non-Native population to participate in a Unity March on Saturday, January 5th.”

An official Press Release has been issued to all News Media outlets by the Chief and Council of Gesgapegiag First Nation.  With the notation to include:

“Please direct all questions and interviews that pertain to these activities to Mr. Quentin Condo, Councilor (418-392-1473) or Ms. Catherine Johnson, spokesperson (418-391-2539).  These are the official designated contact people for the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag Band.”

To view a copy of the Press Release please visit the following links:

ENGLISH VERSION

EN FRANCAIS VERSION

To view a copy of the Unity March scheduled for Saturday, January 5th see below:

UNITY MARCH ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 2013

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