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Sunday, 13 June 2021

A Modest Real Estate Proposal (published Sat. Toronto Star, June 19)

 

I'm pretty sure that home ownership is the basis for a large part of most Canadians wealth, probably for most of it. But this wealth has been built on the theft of the land itself from the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. This theft was orchestrated through broken treaties, military and police forces (e.g. the RCMP), and the physical and cultural genocide of the original caretakers of this land. The recent discovery of 215 graves of victims of Canada's residential "school" system is the most recent acknowledgement of these crimes.

As a Canadian homeowner I have personally benefited from this theft, and I feel guilty. My modest proposal is that  every Canadian real estate transaction include a surcharge which will go towards starting the repayment to Canada's Indigenous peoples, who are among the poorest of Canada's citizens, and generally don't benefit from the sale and resale of their stolen lands.  Of course we also need to fully and finally honour the many land claims Indigenous nations are making, and we need to finally show respect for the treaty rights and guarantees of recognition for unceded territories.

 

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There is a crazy real estate boom/bubble now underway, and those of us who own homes have seen our major asset appreciate at illogical percentages to almost unimaginable heights. The very modest semi that I bought in Toronto in 1985 for $45,500 is now pushing towards a million dollars. I sold in the boom/bubble of the late 1980s, and moved to rural Ontario where I bought a very modest village bungalow for $60K. I don't regret losing out on my imaginary millionaire status, as I've been able to pursue my calling as a Canadian poet while not having to pay rent or a mortgage. With real estate you can have your cake and eat it too, and my modest house is now worth 4 or 5 times what I paid for it while providing cheap shelter and comfort for three decades.   

 

note: sent as a letter-to-the-editor The Toronto Star   

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Canada's history of genocide of Indigenous Peoples - from Dogwood News

 
 
 
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Content warning: This intro mentions residential schools and may be triggering to some readers. 24 hour support is available to survivors and their families by calling the Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

A week ago today, Dogwood staff, volunteers and supporters stood on the bank of the Fraser River to witness Indigenous leaders carry out a sacred water ceremony to honour the fish, animals, plants, people and ways of life that are under threat because of Trans Mountain construction. More about the event can be found below in the Climate section.

The event was held two days after mainstream media started reporting on a story that has now become international news: the bodies of 215 children were found buried on the grounds of a residential school they were forcibly sent to by order of the Canadian government.

The genocide of Indigenous peoples is well documented as intentional, with systems and government bodies put in place to oversee it. This effort was either condoned or overlooked by most settlers. And it’s still happening today.

The RCMP is one example of a government body created to remove and dispossess Indigenous people from their land — the raid on Wet’suwet’en territory and the arrests at Fairy Creek are just two recent examples in B.C.

And residential schools which were built for the purpose of separating children from their traditions, languages and land, all for the purpose of breaking down Indigenous communities so settlers could secure their own wealth and establish the resource-heavy economy we have today.

The attempt to systematically destroy the original and best keepers of this land has brought us to this point: logging companies slashing and burning trees, oil companies ripping their dirty product from the ground and shipping it off to be combusted, polluting the air and killing millions. Governments continue to use selfish, short-term thinking as they hand out permission slips to these companies to take from land that doesn’t belong to them.

Knowing all of this, settlers have important questions to ask ourselves. What can we start doing right now to help bring justice to those who deserve it and change the future of this province for the better? How can we better support the Indigenous-led work that has been fighting back against the degradation of land and communities? Who do we want leading us on the journey away from repeating past mistakes, and toward better ways of living and working together?

The answers to those questions will be different for each one of us. But staying silent or turning away is no longer an option.
 
 

 
 
 
Huge news... Trans Mountain has been ordered to stop all tree-clearing work along the entire route, with no timeline to restart. This is the latest and largest in a growing pile of massive and costly delays. Tell us again how the project is on time and on budget?  -Global News

...And yet another of Trans Mountain’s insurers has dropped out, becoming the tenth insurance company that won’t touch this bad bet. This project has never been more fragile. -CBC

A multi-faith direct action group blocked work at Trans Mountain’s Brunette River construction site for an entire day. -New West Record

Last Saturday, more than 100 people were invited to gather at Coquitlam’s Maquabeak Park and witness Indigenous leaders in ceremony, praying for the salmon, ecosystems and cultural heritage that depend on a healthy Fraser River. Trans Mountain plans to bore a hole under the Fraser River and into a public park to continue construction of its useless pipeline. -Surrey Now Leader

Climate Convergence led a visual protest on Friday afternoon, calling attention to Trans Mountain’s plans to drill through Burnaby Mountain. The giant drill will run day and night for 200 days within a few dozen metres of many homes. -Vancouver Sun

Officials have publicly banned tankers from carrying dangerous cargo through Active Pass after a photo snapped by marine oil spill expert Gerald Graham of an oil tanker sailing through the narrow waterway was published by the Tyee leading to widespread outrage from locals, scientists and environmental groups. -The Tyee

“How Fairy Creek evaded a century of industrial logging that liquidated more than 97 per cent of B.C.’s big-tree old growth is a mystery. It’s a three-hour drive from the capital of a province built on old-growth logging. There’s a sawmill 15 minutes away. The surrounding valleys were long ago obliterated. But now that Teal-Jones has been licensed by B.C. to log one-sixth of the valley, the same roads that could destroy Fairy Creek have become its greatest salvation.” -The Tyee

Premier Horgan announced his government is planning to redistribute forest tenure, but is not making moves to protect old growth forests under threat right now. The next day, more land defenders at Fairy Creek were arrested by the RCMP. Here is Sierra Club’s reaction to his announcement.

When extractive industry, allies, honoured guests or supporters enter any Indigenous territory, it comes with a responsibility to honour the knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples. Hereditary leaders from the Secw├ępemc Nation recently published protocol that can be used as “guidelines for how to conduct yourself while on the land,” says hereditary Matriarch Miranda Dick. -The Discourse

A report published this week by David Hughes and the Corporate Mapping Project shows that although oil and gas production is at record highs (along with emissions), the return in the form of jobs and government revenue have dramatically fallen. -The National Observer

The U.S. is looking into the possibility of charging a fee on imports from countries that don't tax heavy polluters. Pull out your pocketbook, Canada! -The National Observer

Trudeau’s climate math doesn’t add up. “It’s just a hopeless contradiction between government policies and what the data tells you.” -TriCity News

Young people have been hard hit by the pandemic: from deteriorating mental health to disruptions in education and disproportionate job losses. And this summer is already looking like more of the same. Then looming over it all is the escalating climate crisis. Now would be a great time for the government to offer kids something meaningful to do: a Youth Climate Corps. -The National Observer

Events to check out
Every Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. take a tour of the Brunette River tree-sit and learn how a dedicated community of volunteers have successfully delayed the Trans Mountain pipeline for almost a year.

Friday, June 18 starting at 8:30 a.m: Stop Insuring TMX action in Vancouver, led by 350Vancouver. Join the day of action taking place outside of Trans Mountain insurers’ offices in Vancouver.

Want to host your event during the Stop Insuring TMX week of action June 14-20? Here’s a helpful toolkit.


Dogwood Recommends: CBC Podcast - Telling Our Twisted Histories


Hear from dozens of Indigenous people on how to decolonize your words, and listen as they tell their stories and histories without the corruptive influence of colonization. The series’ first episode starts off untwisting the word “discovery” which was (and still is) used to perpetuate European settler importance and domination. How can you “discover” land with 100 million people already living on it?

Start learning right now from your computer, or subscribe to Telling Our Twisted Histories wherever you get your podcasts.


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Campaigns and volunteer teams
 
 
On the Ground

- A beautiful recounting of the Indigenous-led water ceremony that took place last Saturday on the bank of the Fraser River at Maquabeak Park. With photos!

Democracy

- Vote16BC’s public conference is happening right now! There’s still time to sign up for sessions happening today that will teach you ways you can help push the Vote16 campaign forward. Check it out.
 
 

 
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Photo credit: Donna Clark
 
 
 
 
     
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Dogwood brings together everyday British Columbians to win back decision-making power over our environment, energy and democracy.