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June In Review, Part I

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Issue: 69 Section: Month in Review

June 15, 2010

June In Review, Part I

Indian act imposed, mining companies blockaded, kite-flying banned

by Dominion Staff

Innu communities in Quebec and Labrador have established a blockade to prevent the exploitation of their traditional lands by mining companies. Photo: Cardinal Communications

The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake rejected a proposed niobium mine in the Seigneury of Lake of Two Mountains outside Montreal on land held by the Mohawks through Aboriginal title and treaty rights. The project, owned by Niocan Inc., was recently presented to the Quebec government for approval. A ruling is expected soon.

Officials in the United States delayed the approval of a draft environmental impact assessment for the Keystone XL pipeline project, which aims to move massive amounts of tar sands bitumen from Alberta, through the Northwestern US, and into Texas. Although no reason for the delay was given, environmentalists have raised concerns about the pipeline breaking in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.

Five workers at a Syncrude's Mildred Lake tar sands operation in Northern Alberta were hospitalized with "significant burn injuries" following a fire at the facility. Four of the five were contractors and one was a Syncrude employee.

Members of the Barriere Lake Algonquin community and solidarity activists have launched a campaign against the imposition on their community of Section 74 of the Indian Act by the Federal Government. Section 74, which has not been forcibly enacted since 1924, would allow Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl to impose an electoral system on the Indigenous community, which currently uses a traditional selection system.

In Winnipeg, hundreds of government employees took the streets to protest the provincial government's inaction on problems in the provincial corrections system, including overcrowding in prisons and a backlog of casework that currently sees almost 70 per cent of prisoners awaiting trial.

In Salt Lake City, a pipeline owned by oil giant Chevron burst, spilling over 400 barrels of oil into a nearby creek.

Halifax residents rallied to denounce the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as part of a global day of action. Protests across Canada not only condemned the Israeli action, but pointed to complicity of the Canadian government as an unquestioning ally of Israel and supporter of its actions. Photo: Hillary Lindsay

At least 10 people were injured in Colombia when riot police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a protest against Calgary-based oil company Gran Tiera Energy, which produces 14,000 barrels of oil each day through its holdings in the Putamayo region.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup began in South Africa, drawing criticism that the tournament allows for the criminalization of the poor, and serves as a "neo-liberal trojan horse"—complete with $9.5 billion in state deficit spending. Over 300 security employees who rallied at a soccer stadium in Durban to protest low wages and poor working conditions were attacked by local police using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Hearings began in Alberta over the construction of a tar sands upgrader in the town of Fort Saskatchewan by French oil company Total. The hearings were guarded by armed Alberta sheriffs, as wells as private security hired by Total.

Patrick Daniel, CEO of Enbridge Inc., was met with protests in Edmonton for receiving an honourary law degree from the University of Alberta. Enbridge is one of the largest oil pipeline companies in the world, responsible for the Northern Gateway and Trailbreaker pipeline projects, which would bring tar sands bitumen to the west and east coasts of North America, respectively.

Toronto played host to Canada's first ever Veggie-Pride Parade to celebrate and promote vegetarianism and veganism. Similar events have taken place in New York, LA and Rome.

International outcry about the Israeli assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla continued, with thousands of people gathering in cities across Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Vancouver and Halifax to denounce the attack which included the killing of Turkish activists, to and send a message of solidarity to the Palestinian people. Israel announced it would establish a comission to investigate the attack—Canada will serve as one of two external observers. Initially the Canadian government released a press statement saying Canada was "Concerned by Israel’s Decision to Set up Independent Public Commission Concerning Flotilla Incident." The statement was retracted less than 30 minutes later and changed to, "Canada Welcomes Israel's Decision."

Israel's claim that soldiers acted in self-defense has been questioned further after the release of raw footage from aboard the Mavi Marmara.

In Ottawa, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl accepted a "charter of forgiveness" from a group identified by the CBC as "members of Canada's aboriginal community." The presentation was the highlight of the Forgiven: Catch the Dream conference, a project of the Ottawa-based Gathering Nations International Ministry, run by former Grand Council of Crees of Quebec deputy chief Kenny Blacksmith. According to one report, Blacksmith rented the Ottawa Civic centre for the conference in order to publicly accept Stephen Harper's 2008 apology for the Residential School program, and did so without the support of a majority of Indigenous communities in Canada. The conference website includes links to sign both a "we are sorry" or "we forgive" statement, presumably for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people respectively. To date, 738 people have said they are sorry, and 138 have accepted the apology.

Innu communities in Quebec and Labrador established a blockade to prevent mining operations owned by New Millennium Capital and Labrador Iron Mines Holdings from going ahead without prior, informed consent. The blockade has been supported by the Innu Strategic Alliance, which represents around 12,000 people in the region of Northern Quebec and Labrador, Innu traditional territory known as Nitassinan.

Dr Carlos Castresana, head of the United Nations Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, resigned his position, and called for the removal of newly-appointed Attorney General Conrad Reyes on charges of corruption and links to organized crime. A few days later, four decapitated heads were found in Guatemala City with attached messages targeting the Ministry of the Interior and the prison system, adding to fears that Castresana's resignation would open the door for increased violence and impunity, harkening back to the government-sponsored terror campaigns of the 1980s.

The United States announced the discovery of more than $1 trillion worth of minerals in Afghanistan, including gold, copper, zinc, cobalt and lithium. Sources claim that the development and extraction of these resources could become the backbone of the local economy. Others have pointed out that the US has known about these reserves since at least 2007.

Ethnic violence escalated in Kyrgystan, where reports claim that upwards of 100 ethnic Uzbeks have been killed in the violence, with more than 75,000 crossing the border into neighbouring Uzbekistan. Russia—which, along with the United States, has a military base in the country—has declined requests from the interim Kyrgyz government for troops to intervene and stop the violence.

A Mexican teenager was shot and killed by United States border patrol on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande which divides the two nations. This comes shortly after a promise from US President Barak Obama to increase military presence along the border, and a report from a CIA operative that the US has Special Forces operatives working in Mexico.

Transport Canada announced strong restrictions on air traffic over Toronto during the G8 and G20 summits. Included are prohibitions on gliding and hang gliding, rocket launches and flying kites.

Canadian counter-terrorism officials sent a public appeal to help them find a southern Ontario resident who had purchased one tonne of fertilizer, which law enforcement believed could be used for bomb construction. Police later found the suspect using the fertilizer in what they described as a "gardening incident."

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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