Editorial – Idle No More Sees Bigger Issues Than C-45

Idle No More

Prime Minister Harper
Prime Minister Harper

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – A common misperception and misunderstanding that continues to grow since November says the only terrible legislation taking direct aim at First Nations (and opening up doors for massive environmental exploitation in Canada) is Bill C-45.

“No Bill C-45!” on signs.

“No Bill C-45!” on information pamphlets.

“No Bill C-45!” on signs.

“No Bill C-45!” spoken in interviews by many very sure they understand the full scope of the power push being made by Ottawa.

However, this is not the case.

Idle No More sees a bigger picture

This is not to say C-45 doesn’t deserve our scrutiny, critique, and direct focus for its repeal, but it is absolutely necessary for all to understand it is merely part of the picture and the more the wider picture is not understood, Ottawa’s seizure of illegitimate power becomes closer to a reality with First Nations inherent and treaty rights dismantled and the lands we share with Canadian open to exploitation

Just like spokes of a wheel, C-45 is one of multiple in this package.

Since roughly October of 2012 (and following massive funding cuts to First Nations political organizations who could be a potential defence against unjust impositions of Bills in the near future), a number of very specific Bills and Acts have made their way into the House of Commons. As positively worded as they are titled and presented to the public, each (working together much like a jigsaw puzzle) functions as a legal form of the 1969 White Paper which sought to extinguish treaty rights, abolish sovereign reserve lands, extinguish First Nation sovereignty, and repeal the Indian Act with nothing in place protective of First Nation lands). However, unlike the 1969 White Paper which was a policy proposal, these are in law form.

These Bills are as Follows:

  • Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act (Omnibus Bill) which has lowered the protective threshold of reserve land “surrenders” and dropped protected waterways from 2.8 million to less than 100 in Canada, extinguishing Canada’s duty to consult First Nations when developments will affect First Nation communities.
  • Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act which seeks out changes to the Indian Act which little to no duty to consult, as well as implications which negatively affect funding formulas, deny a First Nation’s ability to pass by-laws, and disrupt matters related to wills and estates.
  • Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act in which treaty protected holds and lands on reserves can begin to be transferred to non-First Nation peoples and acknowledged First Nation by-laws can be discounted.
  • Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act which serves to silence band members to protest elections, as well as a mechanism to deny First Nation sovereign custom election codes if they are unfavourable to Aboriginal Affairs.
  • Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations which imposes provincial laws onto sovereign lands regarding water and sanitation with limited funding and an indemnification process for contractors.
  • First Nation Education Act which extinguishes treaty rights to education by means of domestication and legislating such rights.
  • Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill and FNPOA which seeks to privatize reserve lands in the same fashion as the 1887 Dawes Act in the United States, as well as a means to destroy governance systems and to change land title.
  • Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act which seeks to open up financial books to the general Canadian public to justify further funding cuts under the ruse of corruption (even if the data and research say otherwise).

Each of these are violations to treaties, encroachments upon the United Nations Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples (specifically Articles 18, 19, and 20), and violate the duty to consult with free, informed consent.

In the past few months, Canada’s Conservative government has been working hard to promote these Bills in a positive light to the public, as well as to rush to present poor excuses of consultations (without presenting the facts in terms of implications and effects of each and collectively).

With domestic and foreign investors seeking resource wealth from the lands of Canada, First Nation sovereignty presents a massive hurdle for Canada to exploit such resources. This is precisely why the motivation exists to dismantle First Nation legal connection to treaties, sovereignty, and protected reserve lands, as it opens up lands and resources to investors.

Due to the outcome, it is not only indigenous and First Nation who will suffer the consequences of extinguished treaty rights, abolished sovereign reserve lands, extinguished First Nation sovereignty, and damaging repeals, both indigenous/First Nation people and Canadians will all share the brunt of environmental degradation.

The threat is imminent and this is our reality.

By means of an insider informant, we have been informed that those in Ottawa hope that grassroots voices will only focus on (and only will hear/speak about) C-45 -ONLY- which has been happening for months, as opposed to emphasizing Bill S-6, The First Nation Education Act, Bill S-2, Bill S-212, Bill C-428, Bill S-8, and Bill C-27 just as often as we speak about C-45. Ottawa hops that grassroots voices are only focusing on (and only hearing about) the Environment, as opposed to emphasizing Treaty Rights, Nationhood, and Sovereignty just as often as we speak about The Environment (even though these three elements actively protect the lands and environment we share).

Even if 45 is repealed, but the other 8 are allowed to pass (because we forget to inform the public with the same level of attention) or if the environmental-impacts are successfully challenged but sovereignty and treaty rights are dismantled (because we forget the same level of attention, as well), matters similar to what is repealed in C-45 can be re-visited later in something similar because massive protections held in place due to treaty rights and sovereignty are dismantled and will no longer a hurdle. Even if C-45 is repealed, the “Indian Problem” (invoked by John A. Macdonald and Duncan Campbell Scott and the spirit of the 1969 White Paper present in these Bills) begins to be ‘solved’, Ottawa’s hurdle, if the others are allowed pass.

To ensure that the public attention is increased about the whole matter, we must commit (and ask others to commit) to; when any time C-45 is mentioned by regional organizers, teachers, writers, or media, the other 8 pieces of the jigsaw puzzle (S-6, The First Nation Education Act, S-2, S-212, C-428, S-8, and C-27) should always be included alongside it and just as often. Any time the environment is mentioned, a similar commitment to ensure sovereignty, Nationhood, and treaty rights (that actively invokes protection to the lands and environment we share) is ensured to be included in that same point on the same level and just as frequently.

It goes far beyond support choices or speaking up; it’s an informed choice and speaking up in a fully informed voice and many are not fully informed – at our peril.

Whether its writers, speakers, or media – we must ensure the full scope (8 Legislations, not 1) and the full score of targets (sovereignty/nationhood, treaty rights, and environment) are passed on to them and that they are fully informed.

There is a downloadable PDF breakdown of the Legislations at the bottom of a webpage; Google “Netnewsledger Teach In at Spirit Garden for Idle No More in Thunder Bay” and scroll to the bottom. Download the Red and White PDF.

We must understand the multiple spokes in order to dismantle the wheel – a wheel that Ottawa intends to break our Nations upon today so they may utilize it to chew up the lands we share tomorrow.


Our Nationhood is inarguable

Inherent and Treaty Rights are non-debatable.

Sovereignty is non-negotiable.

Our lands are not for sale.

Robert Animikii Horton


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Robert Animikii Horton; "Bebaamweyaazh" is Anishinaabe member of Rainy River First Nations of Manitou Rapids (Treaty #3 Territory) and from the Marten Clan. He is an educator, sociologist, outspoken activist, contrarian writer/speaker, and an Idle No More organizer living in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Horton’s family stems from Chief Mawedopenais (Mawintoopinesse) of Long Sault Rapids, spokesperson for negotiations and agreements of Treaty #3 at Harrison Creek at the Northwest Angle in 1873.