November 28, 2011
The Cree people of Attawapiskat have been negotiating with/fighting offthe global diamond cartel, deBeers for some time.
The first article below describes a classic situation that has beenrepeated many times over in other Indigenous communities. Why wekeep hoping for fair and honest dealings from the colonial crooks isbeyond me. The chiefs are always at least conflicted if nottotally sold out to their masters, the cdn gov. the chiefs alwaysdeplore the blockades when the fact is that the blockades are the onlything that has any impact.
It is necessary to hit the colonial entities in the only place you canhurt then, in their pockets. they have no heart or conscience andit is doubtful if they can really be shamed though it is a necessaryexercise too.
Emails are fluff. Maybe a huge flood of calls to John duncan'soffice would catch his/their attention. a lot of focus needs to besustained on this situation until some real effective action takesplace. Let's stop being victims.
What do you think??
More Articles and Contact Info on Attawapiskat
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Attawapiskat First Nation
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The Attawapiskat and the Blockades at the De Beer’s Victor DiamondMine
Posted on February 22, 2011 | Leave a comment
An Interview with Mike Koostachin by Marc Choyt
In December, 2009, members of the Attawapiskat First Nation, part of thelarger Cree First Nation group, staged a major blockading at the DeBeers’ Victor Mine in northern Ontario. Mike Koostachin, was thefirst person there. He considers himself a keeper of traditionalways, and works as a cultural liaison in the schools, teaching Creevalues to children.
Mike and I first talked about the situation at the Victor mine after theinitial blockade, in February, 2010. In researching this article, Iobtained documents from De Beers First Nation employees written tomanagement that confirmed Mike’s concerns and raised other issuesrelating to how spills are cleaned up, the treatment of First Nationpeople at the mine and a rape. The documents also showed awillingness on the part of De Beer’s personnel to address theseissues.
The Victor mine is located in such a complex and difficult cultural andenvironmental context. Any alliance between members of theAttawapiskat Nation and De Beers would inevitably be fragile. The village is poor and in great need of jobs. Many feelhopeless—watch this Canadian News feature and you’ll see why the suiciderate is so high. An article on Attawapiskat in CanadianGeographic reveals the struggles to get a new elementary school toreplace its current one which is highly toxic. Not only is therebenzene in the aquifers, but sewerage commonly floods into their drinkingwater.
To gain the trust of the Attawapiskat, De Beers worked hard to employ acommunity sensitive approach in its negotiations, The village desperatelywanted economic development. De Beers is obviously not adevelopment or relief agency: they are there to make as much profit aspossible. It’s likely, however, that this level of engagement—over100 community meetings, created high expectations. I contacted TomOrmsby, De Beers External Relations to get De Beer’s perspective on thecurrent events, but he did not return my call.
For the some traditional Attawapiskat, the deal with De Beers has notbeen worth it and they are bitter about the entire situation. Theybelieve that, except for a few individuals, the positive economic impacton the village has been negligible. Meanwhile, the land, animalsare highly impacted and the fish have elevated levels ofmercury.
The impact of the mine is clearly a threat to what perhaps many Creewould consider their greatest wealth — a traditional way of lifeintimately linked to their place on earth. As cultures and worldviews have clashed, communication on many levels has broken down. The result has been two blockades fueled by the anger and betrayal manyCree feel toward De Beers.
“They are the same regime, a modern day regime. They have ourtribal government. Instead of cutting off your arms and feet like theydid in Africa, they are cutting off our land, our food from theland. The people are the land.” Mike Koostachin
Marc Choyt, Fair Jewelry Action, USA.
First, I would like to start out with the question, where are you from?
I’m from Attawapiskat. It is a fly in community, veryisolated. Cree Tribal Group. My village isabout 90 kms from the De Beers diamond mine.
Do you speak for anyone in an official capacity as a tribalofficial?
I basically a member of the Cree First Nation, concerned about thedevelopment in the area. I am an Aboriginal Liaison Youth Workerand my work is to teach cultural knowledge to the First Nationstudent. I’m deeply committed to the values of mypeople. When I look at the development, I think about it in contextto my culture and my connection to the land.
What happened back in December, 2009?
We decided to form a blockade to prevent access to De Beers’ Victor mine.I was the first one. Within minutes of starting the blockage, therewere over 50 people. This was in February, 2009.
We went on the winter road, across the river, and there was a lay downfor transfer of equipment, where you go park yourself, like atransport. We set up a barricade, a construction barricade, likerail road ties, like a tripod.
Then, within hours, trucks came by, their first haul. They hadstuff that had to go in and out of the diamond site. There wasanother convoy coming in from the south from Mousley. They turnedaround. The other ones coming from the Victor site, the blockage,came within less than 100 meters of the blockage—3 trailers. Theywent back to their origin with their escort.
How did the De Beers respond?
About midnight, John White, a liaison for De Beers—he passed away thatwinter, came up to the blockaders He asked who was the leaderand who to talk to so that he could take his concerns to hismanagement. We told him, there is no leader. So westayed there.
How long did it last?
The blockade lasted 18 days—we hired a lawyer. First Nationand De Beers agreed to pay the lawyers. We have outstandinglegal fees of over $100,000 and our lawyer is not gettingpaid. To stop the blockade we signed a good faithagreement. People who worked on the site were concerned aboutlosing their jobs—we were split up.
Employees from mine site came to the meeting. We thought that theywould get pissed off at us and give us shit. But they supportedus.
What were the issues of concern?
It had to do initially with our Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA),which is the money the tribe gets for giving up the land, for themine. During the summer of 2008, there was a petition going aroundin the community. I was one of the people that walked around withthe petition, to revisit the IBA agreement. It was proposed by ourtribal government, but never ratified by the people.
(Note: Here’s a link to an article that details the issues incontention in that first blockade.)
How was the original IBA agreed upon?
It was voted on, as a referendum. People wanted the mining to goahead. About 270 said yes, and 80 to 90 that said no.
People that said, yes, thought that they would get money from theproject, in their hands. They were promised 2 million a year—amillion up front for signing the agreement and 2 million a year for thelife time of the mine. Basically, it would be 30 million over thecourse of the mine to 1800 to 2000 community members. Lessthan 20% voted, but De Beers said it was 90%.
Why didn’t more people vote?
People were not really into the process of it—there was a lack ofunderstanding.
Then, during the referendum, the community had a signing agreementceremony. Now, we have nothing from the IBA and noemployment opportunities.
Have members of the tribe, the larger community, get the money?
No. There has been no money. The leadership established atrust fund for the community. Though the funds are there, but thereis no accountability, no reports from the tribal leadership report to theshareholders.
Still don’t know what the IBA money is doing?
But De Beers can’t be blamed for that.
It is the First Nation’s leader’s fault. They have funds cominginto first nation – no transparency, to this day.
What has changed since the mine was opened?
Nothing. They generally offer First Nation people low positions,like sweeping the floor, doing dishes. No employment and trainingservices.
What kind of agreements with other communities?
Jobs, trust fund, same thing. IBA—but some of them have their ownstipulations to protect their culture and traditions. We competewith them, even though the mining impacts our communityprimarily.
People say that Canadian diamonds are conflict free.
At the beginning, there was not a lot of conflict. People did theirconsultation. Once the mine was at the exploration stage, they hadto do a test for kimberlite. People were not yet opposed to theimpact of the mine. A lot of people did not think that the minewould go ahead. They did not think about the destroying of theland, to have a big hole. They didn’t think they would findanything. But now, people are worried.
When they live off the land, they see fish being deformed. Thewater tastes different. There was disturbance of our caribou thatmigrate through the area—we don’t see them anymore. Moose reduced aswell. This happened last summer. The caribou herds arein decline and the animals are no longer close to the villages due to theimpact.
Also, we are seeing high levels of mercury in our water. We areseeing deformed fish.
But diamond mines don’t use mercury.
The mining is in the swamp and the moss acts like a filtration system forheavy metals when the rain falls and goes into the river. The mossis being picked up and the swamp is drained and bypassed over to theriver.
The mercury was in the moss. The moss was removed in the stripmines, resulting in heavy mercury contamination in our rivers. Amillion tons of water of day, floating from the swamp to the river. So mercury is leaching into the river.
(Note: See this report which documents the elevated levels of mercury inthe Attawapiskat river: “There is not safe amount of consumption ofnorthern pike… for women of child bearing age and children less than 15years of age.”)
Yet people say that the mines in Canada are well regulated and run. There is this cherished belief among jewelers, particularly the ethicaljewelers, who rely upon Canadian diamonds.
We don’t believe that the mines are ethical. The letter I wrote toCanadian Mining Watch —no one even responded to it. Ministryof Natural Resources of Canada and Ontario and Oceans and Waters andFisheries.
Right now, De Beers imports petrol on winter roads. Eight million litresannually. When they transport the fuel from Moosonee, Ontario tothe site, it is 350 km to transport fuel. Four or fivetankers going by daily. The diesel spills are of greatconcern. One of the concerns also is the addition territory wherepeople occupied the land. Then there is the issue of power linesconstructed to the mine and the land being disturbed.
I’ve been reviewing internal documents sent to me, specifically, from aFirst Nation De Beers employee at Victor Mine this past December. He raised a number of issues, including, non-native people getting thespecial treatment and complaints about the present campadministrator. He seemed frustrated that these issues havenot been address. Your thoughts?
There is nepotism on site for non-First Nation members.
What about the issue on spills on site. I read in one of theinternal documents that First Nation employees are more concerned thannon-Native employees. What evidence do you have for that?
The spill is covered up right away and safety officers will cover this upbecause they don’t want any trouble from ministry of environment withOntario government.
To what degree has De Beers hired local people?
In the construction phase, there were 800 people hired. Now it isin operation—less than 400 people on site; 100 people are aboriginalpeople who work there. The signing was that the people in ourcommunity would get the first crack at the jobs—that hasn’thappened. But the criteria was grade 12 and 5 years of experiencemining. Couldn’t hire from our community because not enough peoplecould meet the criteria.
Also, when De Beers came in, De Beers signed agreements with other firstnation groups—so we are competing with jobs with them. It was adivide and conquer approach. But the mine is located in ourtraditional area. They employ about 100 First Nation people, but ofthose only 40 are from our communities. Of those, perhaps aboutfive are upper level position that required training.
What led to the current blockade that is taking place?
The people were told they would be given opportunities, such as jobs,using machinery on site for the construction of operations on the minesand for exploration projects. These jobs never came through—theywere handled internally by De Beers’ so there have been no opportunitiesfor small contractors.
When did it start and how many people are there at the blockade?
It started February 11th at 2:30 PM EST. Twenty people, plus thepeople who support them in the village.
(Note: here’s an article that gives De Beer’s and Tribal officials viewof these events)
Are they there day and night? What are the temperatures?
24 hours and the temp. is -41 Celsius plus the wind chill
How effective is the current blockade?
The chief of the village wants it open. But there is politicalcorruption in the community.
In the last blockade there was a mediator, but the mediator worked for DeBeers. They paid this person. That mediator was so muchcontrolled by the former chief who was close to De Beers. So whathappened was the mediator uncovered unethical practices from the formerchief from handling affairs. She was on the chief side.
There’s massive corruption in our tribal government which is managed bywhat in Canada we call the “Band Office.” It is a third partyoffice to control our finances. Right now, we are in a 14 milliondollars deficit. How can we be in deficit when we have a diamondmine in our back yard?
How was the money lost?
It is corruption that is happening at local level and there’s splitbetween the government and the people. There was always a split interms the mine coming—whether or not it should be there. Now, thegovernment is getting royalties and mismanaging the fiscalresponsibilities of the tribe.
Our land is contaminated. Our water is contaminated. OurFirst Nation government is corrupt with a 14 million dollar deficit andthey are saying it is the fault of the people, and we have a diamond minenext door.
Do you have much confidence in DeBeers?
They are the same regime, a modern day regime. They have our tribalgovernment. Instead of cutting off your arms and feet like they didin Africa, they are cutting off our land, our food from the land. The people are the land.
Attawapiskat First Nation
IN THIS SECTION:
•De Beers’ relationship with Attawapiskat has been developed over thepast 15 years and is constantly evolving as both parties to the IBAstrive to live up to the terms of their agreement. Although this sectionbriefly describes some of the challenges associated with implementingspecific IBA provisions, this case demonstrates the significance ofpersevering effort by De Beers and Attawapiskat First Nation to worktogether toward mutual goals and maintain a positiverelationship.
The traditional territory of the Attawapiskat First Nation extends farbeyond their reserve; extending up the coast to Hudson Bay and hundredsof kilometres inland along river tributaries past the Victor mine site(Inf. #6). There are over 2800 members of Attawapiskat First Nation, butthe local on-reserve population is approximately 1500 (INAC, 2009). Thecommunity is accessible by a winter ice road from late January-March, andonly via air during the rest of the year. Traditional harvesters fromAttawapiskat First Nation regularly hunt caribou, goose, and fish alongthe Attawapiskat River, while tending trap lines throughout the region(Berkes et al., 1994; Whiteman, 2004). Like many other northern Creecommunities, these traditional activities are more than subsistence,comprising an important part of local culture and identity (Inf. #2, 4).Therefore, the community leadership was very concerned with the proposeddevelopment of the Victor mine, and, at De Beers` invitation, sought toensure that any environmental impacts of the mine would be effectivelymitigated.
The proposed development of the mine was the first significant industrialdevelopment within the traditional territory of the Attawapiskat FirstNation; among other issues, the mine sparked debate within the communityregarding how to proceed given their longstanding interest inenvironmental protection and cultural preservation on one hand, and theeconomic benefits the mine could bring on the other (Inf. #2, 8).According to one informant, “the community was wary of the colonialhistory of De Beers and the mining industry`s track record withAboriginal communities” (Inf. #2). De Beers` Jonathan Fowler recalls thecomplex situation the company faced,
We were... regarded as a pariah. This lack of trust negatively impacted awhole range of and processes. This lack of trust was coupled with a lackof understanding about the project and this was compounded by languageissues and the absence of applicable words in the local dialect toexplain what was planned.
- Fowler, 2008: 24
To address the host of legacy issues and other community concerns, DeBeers began a campaign designed build relationships and foster trust withthe community. This included over 100 community meetings as part of theengagement and environmental assessment processes. During these meetings,De Beers sought to educate the community on the company`s values, plansfor partnering with the First Nation in employment, education, andbusiness development, and most importantly, providing an cleardescription of the planned development using local liaisons andtranslators (Fowler, 2008). Additionally, De Beers provided funds for thecommunities to contract external advisors in order to provide third-partyinsight to their local and regional issues and interests.
Based on the community-sensitive approach to providing and translatinginformation by De Beers and assurances from the Canadian EnvironmentalAssessment Agency (CEAA), the leadership of Attawapiskat signed an MOUwith De Beers in 1999 that outlined the type of relationship both partiesaimed to foster; with guidelines for communication, liaising with thecommunity, environmental protection, business opportunities, and trainingfor future mine employment (DBC, 2000). Following the MOU, an ExplorationAgreement was signed to allow De Beers to conduct further drilling intheir territory, on the condition that the First Nation would be involvedin site selection and decision-making throughout the exploration processand enter into IBA negotiations with De Beers. Although there were manylocal concerns about the potential socio-cultural impacts of mining, theChief and Council made the decision to continue working with De Beers inthe hopes of signing an IBA. In the words of former Attawapiskat ChiefMike Carpenter, “De Beers Canada’s diamond mine is the first and onlyopportunity our community has ever had to break free of oursoul-destroying poverty” (Studol, 2008).
In early 2003, Attawapiskat entered into formal IBA negotiations with DeBeers. While much of the financial arrangements within the agreement areconfidential, negotiators representing the community worked to secureeducational, employment and training, business development, environmentalmonitoring, and other provisions designed to address the potentialimpacts to the community while ensuring increased capture of benefitsfrom mining (see Wawatay News, 2005). Following the successful completionof a three-year federal and provincial environmental assessment process,the IBA was voted on and ratified by the community after receiving 85.5%approval among the membership of Attawapiskat First Nation (De Beers,2005).
Once the IBA was signed and ratified, it became a legal contractgoverning the relationship between Attawapiskat and De Beers. It includesimportant communication protocols between the parties, and outlinesdispute resolution processes and mechanisms that both parties mustfollow. While negotiating the agreement was a laborious task, the “realchallenge is implementing the agreement. It’s tough to make it work whenyou don’t have all the resources you need” (Inf. #6). For example, thecommunity had great success in securing employment opportunities duringthe construction phase of mine development (see Table 2), but sinceoperations began in 2008 it has been a struggle to educate, train, andretain local workers for positions that require industrial certificationsand advanced training (Inf. #2).
Much of the challenges associated with implementing IBAs in northernAboriginal communities such as Attawapiskat are related to lack ofprofessional and institutional capacity. For example, the IBA includesfunding for hiring a local ‘IBA Coordinator’ to assist withimplementation of key provisions and advise the Chief and Council on howto best make use of the agreement; however, this position has yet to befilled in the five years since the agreement was signed (Inf. #2, 6). Arecent interview with Attawapiskat’s Director of Lands and Resources,John B. Nakogee, provided insight to this particular issue, and thebroader challenge of implementation (see Video).
This significant limitation, largely based on the difficulty of hiringhighly-skilled professionals to fill important roles in the community,has impacted the First Nation’s ability to take full advantage of theIBA, and led to frustration within the community. For example, an 18-daycommunity blockade was staged in February 2009 in protest of the terms ofthe IBA (see Feeney, 2009a). The roadblock was established when localfrustrations erupted as community members felt DeBeers was not living upto the terms of the IBA (see Feeney, 2009b). It was eventually found thatmany of the issues that led to the protest were rooted in the lack ofcommunication and understanding between the Chief and Council andAttawapiskat First Nation membership regarding the terms of the IBA andits implementation. According to John B. Nakogee, De Beers met with thecommunity and has dealt with the legitimate concerns in good faith.However, he cited this conflict as an example for IBAs and futureagreements to be “more native-centred in their design, but mostly theircommunication.”
Despite the range of challenges associated with meeting localexpectations for employment and job training, Nakogee, and otherinformants from Attawapiskat, are pleased with the implementation of theenvironmental protection section of the IBA. In particular, thelocally-based Environmental Monitoring Committee (EMC) has managed todraw on local traditional knowledge and expertise to identify changingpatterns of nearby Caribou herd movement, likely in response to the mine(Inf. #4, 6). This emerging issue is one of significant local importance,and is currently being discussed among the EMC members and Chief andCouncil to be taken to De Beers for further discussion (Inf. #2, 6).
Although De Beers has been actively involved in Attawapiskat for over 15years, the relationship between the company and the community is justbeginning to mature, and, according to Fowler (2008) there is an elementof trust among the First Nation leadership and key contacts at De Beers.While this relationship has proved challenging for both sides, it isworking; Attawapiskat is receiving significant benefits from the Victormine and De Beers is pleased with the relatively conflict-free operationof its significant investment. However, this relationship is constantlyunder scrutiny from local First Nation membership and external interestgroups, and will continue to be defined by the commitment of both partiesto honour the terms of their IBA and continue to act in goodfaith.
Attawapiskat holding winter blockade against De Beers
By Ahni Feb 25, 2009 9 Comments Views
Members of the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario are holdinga winter road block near the DeBeers Victor Mine, in protest of theImpact Benefit Agreement (IBA) that the First Nation signed with DeBeers, a massive diamond multinational company based in South Africa.
The members have maintained a 24-hour presence at the blockadesince it first went up on February 6.
"We feel that the people of Attawapiskat are not fully benefitingfrom the DeBeers operations in our territory. We are committed toensuring that our people benefit directly. We are poor and we need to getout of the poverty we are in. DeBeers can help us in improving ourcommunity living conditions," states Greg Shisheesh, a spokesman forthe protesters.
The protesters want the terms of the current IBA to be revisted, so itcan address a number of pressing issues for Attawapiskat, includingracism and discrimination, pay equity, a desperately-needed school andnew housing, explains Wawatay News.
They also want the the ratification process of the IBA to bereviewed.
"We want to ensure the membership fully understands how the IBA wasratified and we are asking for full disclosure of its contents to thepeople," says Shisheesh.
Shorlty after the protest began, the Attawapiskat chief and councilannounced a series of "emergency measures to encourage theresolution of the latest protest of some of its members."
"Those measures include an immediate distribution of the IBA to morethan 300 homes, earmarking the profits from Attawapiskat-owned businessesand joint ventures toward legal fees (up to $100,000) school andeducation warchest and high-level meetings have been confirmed with DeBeers executives and representatives of the member protesters with amediator, to name a few," notes the Daily Press.
"I do not necessarily agree with the blockage," saidAttawapiskat Chief Theresa Hall in a recent press release, "however,I am in agreement that there are important issues that need to bediscussed with De Beers."
Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Stan Louttit met with the community and theprotesters last week. He says a number of meetings have been held sincethe blockade went up and De Beers appeared to be interested in resolvingthe issues.
"De Beers is a rich company with millions of dollars," statesLouttit. "The company and the province are benefiting, but thecommunity is benefiting only a little. We're still in poverty, we'restill overcrowded and we don't even have a school."
905 684 7251
Attawapiskat infrastructure not its responsibility, De Beers says
By SUN MEDIA
Posted 2 years ago that would be 2009
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From the Eagle Watch #194
November 28, 2011
This message is about DRC Democratic Republic of Congo where the peopleknow all about diamond cartels. DRC is the 2nd poorestcountry in the world. African people are the Indigenous ofAfrica.
American "vulture" investors, including a top funder of theRepublican Party, have demanded that African nations pay over half abillion dollars for old debts – for which the investors paid only a fewmillion for. One New York vulture speculator, Peter Grossman of FGCapital Management, is demanding $100 million from the DemocraticRepublic of Congo. Is he collecting a legitimate debt from the Congo — oris the vulture's claim based on a stolen security? Greg Palast reportsfrom the Congo, Bosnia and New York in the joint investigation by theBBC, the Guardian and Democracy Now!
1). Vulture funds await Jersey decision on poor countries' debts
2). Vultures feed when economies are turned into rottingcarcasses
Vulture funds await Jersey decision on poor countries' debts
Pressure grows to end trade that has made $1bn for speculators but hasbeen blamed for delaying recovery of war-torn countries
by Greg Palast, Maggie O'Kane and Chavala Madlena, The Guardian, Tuesday15 November 2011
[On the above url, watch the video by Greg Palast in a specialinvestigation on vulture funds by Guardian Films and BBC Newsnight inwhich Palast interviews Peter Grossman of FG Capital Management whoPalast tracks down outside his New York residence]
Link to this video:http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/video/2011/nov/15/financial-vultures-africa-jersey-video
Jean Ngaigy, the head of a school in Lepaigagone, interprets the words ofone of her six-year-old students. The girl is happy to have a school now.Her favourite subjects are maths and French.
Like many children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both thegirl's parents were killed in the country's civil war, which left up to7.2 million people dead. Now, though, a fragile peace in the town,outside the capital Kinshasa, means mines are reopening and the factoryis coming back to life. The school has been rebuilt and has runningwater. In the DRC, that represents hope.
The DRC should be one of Africa's richest countries. It has a mineralwealth estimated to be around $24 trillion (£15tn). There are hugedeposits of cobalt, diamonds, gold, copper, oil and 80% of the world'ssupplies of coltan ore – a valuable mineral used in computers and mobilephones.
Yet 100 women a week are still dying in childbirth and 16,000 childrenunder the age of five die every year. One in three children in the DRCwill never get anything more than primary education.
One of the reasons the country has been unable to recover is that it isbeing pursued by international debt speculators, known as vulture funds,through offshore tax havens such as Jersey, for debts that were run upduring 30 years of war and civil war.
Vulture funds operate by buying up a country's debt when it is in a stateof chaos. When the country has stabilised, vulture funds return to demandmillions of dollars in interest repayments and fees on the original debt.New York vulture fund FG Hemisphere has gone to Jersey to claim $100mfrom the DRC because a legal loophole means that the island remains freeof anti-vulture laws that were passed in the UK last year.
Jersey will decide next month whether to allow its courts to let the$100m go to FG Hemisphere.
It has been 16 years since most of the world began writing off the debtsof the world's poorest countries, but the vulture funds, a club ofbetween 26 and 35 speculators, have ignored the debt concerts by popstars such as Bono and pleas from the likes of the World Bank andInternational Monetary Fund to give the countries a break and a chance toget back on their feet.
Congo-Brazzaville has been a particularly fruitful target for vulturefunds, being ravaged by conflict but rich in natural resources. One ofthe earliest cases against the country came in 1996 when $30m worth ofCongolese sovereign debt was purchased by Kensington International Inc, asubsidiary of the well-established hedge fund Elliott Associates, headedby prominent vulture financier Paul Singer.
Singer, a major contributor to the Republican party, reportedly boughtthe debt at a significant discount and began pursuing lawsuits againstthe impoverished African nation through the world's courtrooms. Bloomberghas reported that Congo-Brazzaville has spent an estimated $5m fightingSinger's lawsuits. Finally in 2005 Kensington International was awarded$39m in the UK high court.
So far, according to the World Bank, the top 26 vultures have managed tocollect $1bn from the world's poorest countries and still have a further$1.3bn to collect. Gordon Brown has described the payouts as"morally outrageous".
The World Bank has described vulture funds as "a threat to debtrelief efforts" and the former, Bush-era US treasury secretary HenryPaulson said: "I deplore what the vulture funds are doing" intestimony before the House of Representatives' financial committee in2007.
In terms of public donations, the impact of the vulture funds is huge.The $1bn collected by the funds is equivalent to more than double theInternational Committee of the Red Cross's entire budget for Africa in2011. $1bn could fund the entire UN appeal for the famine in Somalia andis more than twice the amount of money raised by Save the Children lastyear.
Vulture funds also scare off new investors, who the vultures will targettheir investment, from a country. In the DRC, a large US company withplans to invest millions in mining pulled out last year after one vulturesued it as a result of its business with the DRC government.
It is thought FG Hemisphere bought the debt for which it is claiming$100m in the Jersey court for $3.3m, with the help of another vulturefund, Debt Advisory International (DAI).
FG Hemisphere, headed by Peter Grossman and DAI, run by Michael Sheehan –both men were former Morgan Stanley consultants – have attempted tocollect on the debt by suing DRC state companies and their foreigninvestors.
When interviewed as part of a joint investigation between Newsnight andthe Guardian, Grossman defending his involvement in the DRC, saying"he wasn't beating up on the Congo but collecting on a legitimatedebt". The last decade has seen FG and DAI chase the DRC, for thesame debt, in the United States, Jersey, Hong Kong and Australia. In2010, Britain passed a law banning vulture funds from collecting in UKcourts. But the legislation failed to mention Jersey. Because Jersey isnot specifically mentioned, it is automatically excluded under Britishlaw, a loophole that FG Hemisphere immediately exploited.
Grossman said it was not the vultures whose activities needed to beinvestigated but mismanagement in the DRC. He also denied having anyknowledge that, as alleged by the Bosnian police, the debt was acquiredillegally in the first place.
Sheehan, who is nicknamed Goldfinger, brokered the original deal withBosnian state company EnergoInvest and owns some of the debt. The DRCoriginally owed the money to EnergoInvest for a contract to build powerlines.
But as Grossman looks for payment from DRC through the Jersey legalsystem, the world's biggest charities, including Oxfam, Christian Aid andJubilee Debt Campaign UK, are appealing to Jersey to close theloophole.
Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, which has been campaigning for debt relief forover a decade, is sending a representative to Jersey next week to put thecase directly to the island's government to close the vulture funds'loophole.
Tim Jones, of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "The DRC is the secondpoorest country in the world. The country desperately needs to be able touse its rich resources to alleviate poverty, not squander them on payingunjust debts to vulture funds left by the dictator Joseph Mobutu. Jerseyhas to shut vulture funds down."
UK legislation on vulture funds has already had an impact, when Liberialast year reached agreement to repay just over 3% of the face value of a$43m debt.
That case was originally brought by two Caribbean-based vulture funds,Hamsah Investments and Wall Capital Ltd, over a debt dating back to the1970s and it sparked a furore when the high court ordered Liberia torepay the full debt in 2009. Liberia mobilised debt campaigners, whopushed for a change in the law, resulting in the Debt Relief (DevelopingCountries) Act 2010 being passed.
The law, a world first, requires commercial creditors to comply with theterms of international debt cancellation schemes, which specify a singlediscount rate for creditors to ensure equal treatment.
The law applies to the UK courts and ensures that public money giventowards debt cancellation is not diverted to private investors.
The World Bank estimates that more than one-third of the countries whichhave qualified for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt reliefhave been targeted by vulture funds. HIPC countries are those whose debtis unsustainable and qualify for loans from the World Bank'sInternational Development Association or the IMF's poverty reduction andgrowth facility.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is poised on the edge of a fragilepeace but elections later this month could again destabilise the country.Having spent $5m fighting off the vulture funds, the DRC is waiting fornews from 4,000 miles away, where Jersey will decide whether the vultureswill get their money.
Additional reporting by the Centre for Investigative Reporting inSarajevo, Josh Strauss and Nicolas Niarchos
• This article was amended on 22 November 2011 to correct two referencesfrom the DRC to Congo-Brazzaville.
Vultures feed when economies are turned into rotting carcasses
by Greg Palast, The Guardian, Wednesday 16 November 2011
The vulture funds circling the debts of poorer countries are feedingafter economies have been looted at the behest of the World Bank, IMF andprivateers
If God doesn't give a rat's arse about "The Vulture", and whathe does for a living, and what he's done to Africa, why shouldI?
The thought struck me while sitting here, coffee getting cold, in my oldToyota, trying to look invisible, staked out in front of 300 De KalbAvenue, in Brooklyn, New York. It's just after dawn and I'm hoping thatPeter Grossman, a Wall Street star, will pop out of his posh brownstonefor a jog or a cup of coffee. Then I can jump him. He's on the lookoutfor me because I'd already jumped his acquaintance, Goldfinger, the manwho's making Grossman stunningly rich.
Grossman's riches, nearly $100m for his firm, FG Management, come fromthe Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was just there in Congo, two daysbefore this stakeout, at a cholera quarantine centre in the capital,Kinshasa.
Besides lots of cholera, Congo has lots of cobalt. Grossman has, througha crazy legal loophole in British law, waylaid a payment of $80m to theAfrican government for a shipment of cobalt from a government-ownedmine.
Grossman is a "vulture", the name Wall Street gives, with anaffectionate smile, to those who can get their hands on old, forgottendebts of desperately poor nations – Congo, Zambia, Peru and Liberia arecases I've investigated – that they pick up for pennies on the pound offace value.
When – usually after a Bono concert – western nations forgive debts owedby these poor countries, the nation receiving this aid is now ripeenough, and flush enough, for attack by a vulture, who demands many apound of flesh for the debt he suddenly brandishes.
In Grossman's case, his company paid about $3m for a debt Zaire (nowCongo) owed Yugoslavia (now Bosnia). A court on the tiny island ofJersey, a tax haven in the Channel, has ordered Congo to turn over the$80m it has in a bank account there, the payment for the cobalt.Furthermore, Congo must pay an additional $20m to Grossman if the countrycan find the money.
If that seems nuts to you, it is. The UK and other nations barcollections by vultures against poor countries where western governmenttreasuries have agreed to give up their own claims. However, Grossman wasfree to sue Congo in Jersey, a pseudo-colony of Britain, because the UKparliament failed to include the words, "and Jersey" in itsanti-vulture law.
How did Grossman got his hands on Congo's debt to Bosnia? That's what Iwas waiting in the Brooklyn cold to ask him.
Here's what I can piece together. Only three days before I was in theCongo cholera clinic, I was in the office of the chief of financialpolice in Sarajevo, Bosnia. With the help of the Centre for InvestigativeReporting in Bosnia, we tracked down the police report asserting that thenation's own prime minister had slipped control of the debt to oneMichael Sheehan, aka Goldfinger who, for a fee, passed it from the Bosniastate power company to Grossman. The Bosnian police chief told me thislittle business with the Congo debt was a crime, and the (now former)prime minister, Nedzad Brankovic, should be in prison. Yet, to date,prosecutors have not acted.
I got to the man who blew the whistle on Brankovic, Brigadier GeneralIzet Spahic. He'd worked out a deal for the Bosnia power company(desperately broke) to make power pylons for Congo (desperately broke).The project would generate electricity, clean water and profits for bothnations.
It was quite a heart-warming story of two nations coming out of civilwars, with a combined total of 4 million dead, helping each other. Butwhen it was discovered that The Vulture in Brooklyn had control of thedebt between the nations, the electricity deal was off.
I went by the Bosnia pylon-making factory. It was now shut and itsseveral thousand workers were gone. At least there's no cholera.
The brigadier general was furious: how could these people think aboutmaking a profit off civil war, poverty and unimaginable suffering? Whendo humans grow feathers and claws?
It's a question I'm going to ask Grossman when he comes out because theGuardian and BBC Newsnight want me to ask it. For me, The Vulture'sanswer is inconsequential to the bigger picture.
I assume that after we break our story, parliament will move to close theloophole it so glaringly left open to The Vulture; and the US Congresswill at least pretend to consider anti-vulture legislation, nowlanguishing in some committee.
But I think the focus on Grossman and his fellow carrion chewers isdistracting. The destruction of Bosnia's power-pylon industry was thedirect consequence of privatising it, bringing the free market tosocialist Yugoslavia and Brankovic to power over its debts, allowing himto buy and sell debt securities on the deregulated world financialmarket.
It was the privatisation of Congo's state cobalt mine and the looting ofits riches, all at the behest of the World Bank, IMF and privateers, thatdrained Congo's treasury.
Grossman is just the repo man, the last of the financial carnivoreswho've bitten into Congo and Bosnia – and Greece and Detroit.
Grossman's vulture operation is just over the bridge from Occupied WallStreet, which was occupied at the bottom by protesters, "the99%", and is occupied at the top by "the 1%", those whokill economies for a profit.
It's easy to target Grossman. But vultures can only feast when the systemkills, when, for easy profits, economies are turned into rottingcarcasses.
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The Legacy of Colonialism: pertaining to the history of colonialism andits ongoing affects including the continued marginalization of Indigenouspeoples and the preservation of their heritage, the biased practices ofthe IMF, criminal and monopolizing acts of transnational corporations,non-mutually beneficial international trade practices, self-seekinginternational military coersion on the part of first world nationsparticularly the United States and Israel, state sponsored terrorism,& globalization. The Legacy of Colonialism Forum E-mail list is foractivists for positive social and environmental change, progressive NGOs,social-justice/reparation/drop-the-debt campaigners, members ofland-rights movements, researchers and grassroot development workers allover the world, to share information in recognition of the following: howmultinational profits and the North's capitalist advancement (led by theUS industrial-military-corporate complex) at the expense of theNeo-Colonial state, is sustained by some of the above mentioned factors -plus political manipulation within the machinations of tyrannical empirebuilding, the Dollar Empire, and the imperialism and economic fraud ofglobal financial institutions (the IMF & World Bank), and the globalbanking system.
Aipc-All Indian-Pueblo Council
Chairman Sanchez along with Tribal Leaders heading out to Washington DC to attend the President's Tribal Nations Summit, We stand United speaking one Voice for all Native American's
Historic Breaking News: A Child's Remains and other bones have been identified at Canada’s oldest Indian residential school in Brantford, Ontario - please post
An International Media Release from the Mohawk Nation and The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS) - November 29, 2011
A Child's Remains and other bones have been identified at Canada’s oldest Indian residential school
in Brantford, Ontario:
A Statement from theKanien'keha':ka Nation of the Grand River
Video: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=jLEcnBy6V6M
Archaeological surveysand test digs authorized by we, elders of the Kanien'keha:ka Nation,have been conducted at the former Mohawk Institute Indian residential schoolsince October 1.
This past week, while onthe grounds of the school, our researchers along with Kevin Annett-Rawennatshani, who acts with our approval, have unearthed what has beendescribed as human remains. One bone among sixteen uncovered has beenidentified, through preliminary visual examination by a competent archaeologist,as that of a young child. This bone sample is described by the samearchaeologist as “definitely human”.
A test dig in a twentysquare foot area on grounds adjoining the former Mohawk Institute have revealeda considerable number of bones, as well as buttons which have been confirmed tobe part of the children's school uniforms. Large deposits of coal were alsofound associated with these remains, all at a depth of barely two feet. Severalof the bones have also been cut up, suggesting that the bodies may have beendeliberately dismembered, while other bones were broken.
We declare the area on and near the formerMohawk Institute to be a crime site under our jurisdiction, and we will notallow representatives of the Crown or Church of England, or the government ofCanada, access to these excavations because of their complicity in this crime.
These institutions have consistently refused todisclose the evidence they possess regarding the Mohawk Institute and thedeaths of children under their legal care, and therefore, we are proceeding tocharge these bodies with crimes against humanity in international courts ofjustice, based in part on the forensic evidence we have uncovered.
We now call upon our community and the world torally behind our efforts to bring recognition to the remains of children buriedon the Mohawk Institute grounds, and our work to excavate this site. Prior toany possible repatriation of these remains, and because these remains mayinclude children from other indigenous nations, we look to those nations toparticipate with us in this work and welcome their input, and we urge them tobegin their own excavations at local Indian residential schools.
We appeal to other nations to sendarchaeological and forensic specialists and international observers andpeacekeepers to our territory to operate under our Mohawk jurisdiction, toassist with our inquiry and protect the burial sites until the remains can beaccorded a proper burial according to our diverse traditions. Until these expertsarrive to conduct a professional archeological excavation of these graves, weare temporarily suspending our excavations.
As our investigation continues, the bone sampleswill be subjected to further forensic tests, and this data about the humanremains uncovered at the Mohawk Institute will be prepared in a final report tobe delivered in the spring of 2012 to human rights courts and Parliamentariansin Europe, as part of a campaign to bring charges of genocide against the Crownof England, the government of Canada, the Anglican Church in Canada and otherguilty parties.
The Mohawk Institute inquiry is held under theauspices of the Onkwehon:we (Mohawk) Nation and Kevin Annett (Rawennatshani) ofthe International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, who has our fullauthority and protection.
For more informationcontact us at 519-757-3624 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Piece of humerus or tibia of a young child
Probable piece of spine of an adolescent
Frank Miller, Mohawk Nation, and Kevin Annett, ITCCS, announce findings
Read the truth of genocide in Canada and globally at:
1:00pm Nov 29
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded Pope Benedict apologize to Indians in Latin America for saying this month in Brazil that the Roman Catholic Church purified them.
Chavez demands Pope apologize for Indian comments
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded Pope Benedict apologize to Indians in ...
The election to choose a successor to fill the remaining portion of Principal Chief Baker's tribal council seat is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2012.
Absentee ballot requests are due by Dec. 5. download the request form here: http://www.cherokee.org/Docs/Org2010/2011/11/32778DISTRICT_1_Absentee_request.doc
Wado! (Thank you)
Tahlequah, OK 74465
***Cherokee Nation News*****
Cherokee Nation Breast Cancer Program Receives $10,000 Contribution:11/28/2011 8:18:45 AM
© Cherokee Nation
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Cherokee Casino Tahlequah officials contributed $10,000 to the Cherokee Nation Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which will go to the cancer programs at Cherokee Nation.
Five Candidates File for Tribal Council Seat:11/28/2011 8:05:44 AM
© Cherokee Nation
Voters in Cherokee and eastern Wagoner counties will choose between five candidates to fill a vacant Tribal Council seat.
**** Other Links of Interest ***********
Games - http://www.cherokee.org/home.aspx?section=culture&culture=games
Community Calendar - http://www.cherokee.org/home.aspx?section=calendar
RSS Feed - http://rss.cherokee.org
Podcasts - http://podcasts.cherokee.org
E-Cards - http://ecards.cherokee.org
First Nations housing in dire need of overhaul
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As the Canadian Red Cross prepares to send aid to the northern Ontario Cree community of Attawapiskat this week to help it deal with a housing crisis that has left more than 100 people living in tents and construction trailers, many other First Nations are struggling with housing problems just as grave.
A recent federal evaluation of First Nations housing concluded that the housing shortage on reserves is severe and only getting worse.
According to the February 2011 report, 20,000 to 35,000 new units would need to be built to meet current demand (the Assembly of First Nations puts the figure closer to 85,000).
First Nations infrastructure
This is the second in a series examining infrastructure challenges facing First Nations.
Coming up Nov. 30: Water — bringing water and sewer systems on reserves up to standard and maintaining them that way for the next 10 years would cost about $10 billion.
Published: Shacks and slop pails: the infrastructure crisis on native reserves
Housing on reserves falls short by almost any measure and especially when compared with housing off reserve: 41.5 per cent of homes on reserves need major repairs, compared with seven per cent in non-aboriginal households outside reserves.
Rates of overcrowding are six times greater on reserve than off. In many communities, it's not uncommon to have three generations living under one roof – not by choice but by necessity.
"There are people who are living like sardines in some units," says Jonathan Solomon, chief of Kashechewan First Nation, a fly-in Cree community upstream from James Bay in northern Ontario. "Sometimes, there's 18 to 21 people living in small units, and it creates an unfit home environment."
Solomon, whose community was evacuated in 2005 because of a water crisis, worries about the effects this overcrowding has not just on the house itself but also on the mental and physical health of the people who live there, especially children, who, he says, generally do poorer in school under such conditions.
First Nations decide how funds used: government
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan. The government says it is up to First Nations to decide how to spend the housing allocation they get, but communities say the level of funding doesn't leave them many options.Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan. The government says it is up to First Nations to decide how to spend the housing allocation they get, but communities say the level of funding doesn't leave them many options. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press
When asked about overcrowding on reserves, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), the federal department responsible for First Nations, said in a written response:
"First Nations are responsible for allocating their own housing funds, including decisions on the number of new units they may decide to build, according to the priorities and needs of the community."
But Solomon says there is no way he can meet the needs of his 1,900 residents at current funding levels. He said Kashechewan built 20 new housing units two years ago but needs 300 more, and the backlog keeps growing, as about 40 new babies are born every year.
The federal assessment found housing on reserves deteriorates much faster than off reserve, largely as a result of overcrowding but also because of poor construction and housing designs that often don't account for the environmental realities on reserve.
'A lot of contractors that came here thought that because it was on reserve, they didn't need to worry about quality as much.'— Tsawwasen First Nation Chief Kim Baird
"A lot of contractors that came here thought that because it was on reserve, they didn't need to worry about quality as much," said Kim Baird, chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation 25 km south of Vancouver.
Maintenance is also a huge factor. The housing report found that of the 80 homes inspected, nearly every one needed repairs and that those repairs would cost a total of $1.6 million. Perhaps that's why less than 30 per cent of the homes on reserve that need repairs are getting them.
"We don't have a Pro Hardware store," said Solomon. "The closest place we can order [materials from] is Moosonee," 120 km south. "We still have to bring those in by air, and it's not cheap," he added.
Normal bank mortgages not an option
Low income is another factor preventing people from being able to make the investments their homes need. Median annual income on reserves is $11,300, according to the 2006 census (average income is $16,160).
Mould creeps up the walls of a house in Fort Albany, a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario. Mould has been a persistent problem in homes on reserves for years.Mould creeps up the walls of a house in Fort Albany, a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario. Mould has been a persistent problem in homes on reserves for years. Courtesy of Charlie Angus
The number of people who can buy homes is fairly small. Homeowners on reserves can't own the land their house is on, which is held in trust by the Crown, which means they can't get normal bank mortgages because the property can't be seized. Instead, they must have their mortgages guaranteed by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, a process that can take up to a year.
"That's the unfortunate thing with the Indian Act: they're actually treated as children of the state," says Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, whose riding includes Kashechewan and Attawapiskat.
The federal government did create a First Nations Market Housing Fund four years ago to try to improve access to housing loans, but those loans must be guaranteed by the First Nation. It's a problem for cash-strapped communities to act as insurers if they're carrying their own debts.
That means it's up to band administrators to try to stretch the money they get from the federal government to cover repairs and the building of new housing. In reality, they can rarely afford to do both.
A typical house in Pikangikum First Nation. Band councils often have to choose between fixing up houses in desperate need of repair or putting money toward preparing lots for new construction to ease their housing shortage.A typical house in Pikangikum First Nation. Band councils often have to choose between fixing up houses in desperate need of repair or putting money toward preparing lots for new construction to ease their housing shortage. Coleen Rajotte /CBC
On top of that, band councils manage non-profit rental housing, which is financed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
"If you're a First Nation trying to manage this mess, and you're collecting rent, and if there are arrears, then the problems get compounded," said Baird. "The maintenance and that start to slip, because there isn't cash in the bank to actually deal with those things, and you don't have a motivated group of tenants, because they're living in sub-quality housing.”
Even though the government spends an average of $272 million a year on First Nations housing and since 2009 spent an additional $400 million through the economic stimulus plan, it's not enough to "get ahead of the curve of need," the housing evaluation concluded.
An aerial view of Attawapiskat, a Cree community on the Attawapiskat River, five kilometres inland from the James Bay coastline. It's a fly-in community that relies on ice roads and flights to bring in supplies.An aerial view of Attawapiskat, a Cree community on the Attawapiskat River, five kilometres inland from the James Bay coastline. It's a fly-in community that relies on ice roads and flights to bring in supplies. Courtesy of Charlie AngusFirst Nations struggle to provide adequate housing at the best of times, so when a crisis hits, it can lay a community low, which is what happened in Attawapiskat when it had to evacuate several homes because of a sewage back-up two years ago.
The residents who lost their homes were housed in what were meant to be only temporary trailers donated by the De Beers mining company, which operates a diamond mine 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat.
About 90 people are still living in those trailers, which are costing the community $100,000 a year to maintain.
You set the budget How would you finance the Big Fix?
"After some people … left to go back to their units, more people moved in there, because they had no place to stay or they were living in overcrowded housing." said Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.
Several dozen other people are living in five wood-frame tents and a few uninsulated sheds that the community put up to try to deal with its housing shortage.
Some of the abandoned houses in Attawapiskat that the federal government said it would spend $500,000 to renovate so that people staying in tents would have somewhere to live. Some of the abandoned houses in Attawapiskat that the federal government said it would spend $500,000 to renovate so that people staying in tents would have somewhere to live. Courtesy of Charlie Angus
With winter approaching, Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency at the end of September. After a visit to the community in November from Angus, who raised the issue in Parliament and made a YouTube video to publicize it, the federal government agreed to spend $500,000 to renovate five vacant houses that had been condemned —and which Angus says are in such a bad state they're not worth saving.
Spence is glad for the help but says the renovations won't resolve the long-term housing shortage.
"Even if these people move out of the tent frames, the other families are going to move in there, because that's how much people require housing," said Spence.
'This is a community that has tried to do things right.'— Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay
Attawapiskat has 1,800 residents and about 300 houses, with 314 people on a waiting list for housing. It has been waiting for a new elementary school since 2000, when the old school was shut because of soil contamination and replaced with portables.
"This is a community that has tried to do things right," said Angus. "They've worked hard on action plans; they've got housing studies; they've got water studies ... but … their water is so bad that it actually corrodes their pipes; they've got no school for 500+ kids; and now, we've got families living in tents."
The De Beers construction trailers where about 90 Attawapiskat residents, including families with small children, have been living for almost two years.The De Beers construction trailers where about 90 Attawapiskat residents, including families with small children, have been living for almost two years. Courtesy of Charlie Angus
AANDC said Attawapiskat received $450,000 for housing through the economic stimulus plan in 2009-10 in addition to its annual housing allocation, which for 2011-12 is $581,407.
But Spence says it can cost as much as $250,000 to build a house in the community, which is 500 kilometres north of Timmins, Ont., a few kilometers inland from James Bay, and relies on a winter ice road or expensive cargo flights to bring in materials and contractors. To meet all of its housing needs would take $84 million and federal approval to transfer new land to the reserve so a new subdivision could be built.
Spence said the community's annual allocation of federal funding hasn't budged in years.
"The way we're getting funding is so limited," Spence said. "Each year, when the government calculates the funding, they calculate by population; they don't really look at the high cost of living."
THE BIG FIX Map: Canada's infrastructure blockbusters
The community gets some revenue from its impact benefit agreement with De Beers, but that money goes straight to a trust fund and can't be used for immediate housing needs. What's more, it pales in comparison to the benefits DeBeers and the Ontario and federal governments are getting from the mine, Angus said. (As of January 2011, Attawapiskat received $10.5 million in benefit payments, and De Beers made $488.88 million in revenue since the mine opened in July 2008.)
"This is a community that is living off land that is being exploited for massive wealth for Ontario's benefit, for the federal government's benefit, and they're being treated like animals," Angus said.
First Nation threatens shale gas lawsuit
Spread the word. Every invitation counts:
The chief of St. Mary's First Nation is threatening legal action against the New Brunswick government if it doesn't cancel all of the natural gas exploration licences it has issued.
Candice Paul contends the licences are illegal and should be revoked because the government didn't live up to its duty to consult with First Nations communities before issuing them.
"They have an obligation to do that as set out in the Supreme Court, and they have failed to do that. So we ask for an immediate stop to the permits, and come to the table," Paul said during an anti-shale gas protest outside the provincial legislature in Fredericton Wednesday as it opened for a new session.
If the government doesn't agree, "I guess we'll have to go to the courts," she said.
Under constitutional law, governments have a duty to consult with First Nations people on issues that affect them.
"It's not an after fact, we're not an afterthought. It's clearly stated in the Supreme Court that they have an obligation to consult...right from the beginning," said Paul
"I would hope that the government would, you know, abide by the law and that they wouldn't be above the law."
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said he will look into the issue.
The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick, which represents all groups except St. Mary's and Woodstock, has said it is taking a wait and see approach to the issue.
But Paul argues she has only heard negatives about shale gas.
"We are a people of the river, we have an obligation to protect our territories," she said.
"We need to sit down and discuss what is going to take place and if it's dangerous or harmful to our environment, as all New Bruswickers, this needs to be brought forward."
About 200 anti-shale gas protesters gathered outside the provincial legislature on Wednesday.About 200 anti-shale gas protesters gathered outside the provincial legislature on Wednesday. (CBC)Meanwhile, the Alward government confirmed plans to push forward with a new environmental protection plan that will cover the shale gas industry.
The government has been facing considerable pressure from anti-shale gas protesters on its policy for several months. On Wednesday, about 200 opponents of the industry gathered in a snowstorm on the lawn of the legislature, alongside a four-storey high replica of an oil drilling rig made of plastic pipe.
The protesters also pounded hundreds of fake survey stakes bearing slogans such as "no means no" into the lawn.
Joan Tremblay, of Fredericton, who was dressed as a water drop in a costume made by her daughter, said she's "very concerned.
"I have been ever since I learned about the threat of it," she said. "It threatens the water and air and I have grandchildren and I'm worried about them."
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees were also on hand to protest cuts in healthcare, education and highways.
"They're making the wrong decisions," said Danny Légère, the president of CUPE New Brunswick. "New Brunswickers expect a level of service and they have to find revenues in order to provide those services to New Brunswickers.
"Our answer is we've got some solutions, we brought the solutions forward in the past. Let's re-instate the 2009 level of taxation and also look at other things," he said.
WE'LL LET YOUR PEOPLE GO
MNN Nov. 23, 2011. Foreign occupiers [of Great Turtle Island]! Looking for solutions? Everything based on a lie is a lie. Like how foreign corporate entities called US and Canada and their subjects live on the graves of our murdered ancestors. It was through Armed robbery of our land and resources!
We always watched our visitors and looked beyond what everyone is meant to see.
The Europeans brought their tamed. Obedience was bred into them at a young age, generation after generation, reinforced by intimidation and punishment.
They say they came here to live in paradise to have a perfect life. They killed most of us and then destroyed it.
These 1% hierarchical controllers of Western society don't know us. It took them 30 years to find Geronimo. [He wasn't hiding. Just got tired of seeing how incompetent his pursuers were.]
We indigenous are hunters, guerillas and observers of everything.
Controllers mercilessly frighten, horrify and instill hopelesslesss in their subjects.
The cops are the enforcers for the crime bosses, the bankers and politicians. Repressive militarized force is under one command.
In today's urban warfare, the cops need a crowd, then gang up on their own people. They beat up children, women, pregnant women, disabled, elderly and middle class softies who won't hit back. The rest knuckle under.
The revolution will be gangster style hits. Most of their subjects turn the other cheek, or brag about being beaten for no reason!
Urban tactics include the two sides swarming each other and provocateurs pushing. At the G20 in Toronto in 2010, in the "kettling" maneuver, the cops blocked off streets and the protesters marched in an orderly fashion. The cops blocked them in, then beat and arrested them. [See "Into the Fire"].
Cops fear people of color, lawsuits and riots.
The government owns the people and the banks own their labor.
Psychotic greed to own a worker's life productivity drives them to greater crimes. They threaten and even murder those who refuse to live with less so they can have more.
The fascist economic system is collapsing. Fraud and corruption are being exposed. Fear of losing control is causing panic. Worse is coming.
What is the underlying element?
The Vietnam protests got out of hand. Not this time!
We Indigenous do not let ourselves get herded for the kill.
The crowd goes wild when they see blood. They don't want to be next. They don't have families or communities to run to who have any inherent obligations to them.
The people will soon be panicking for food. The White House is the main plantation that dispenses food. According to the Romans, whoever has the key to the grainery controls the people and the empire.
As Crazy Horse told us, "Know your enemy". Stay out of sight.
Our energy comes from within us, not from someone yelling at us to defend ourselves. Only we can save ourselves. We don't grovel in pain to show how much they're hurting us.
A real revolution has to expose all the truths, how the invaders murdered over a hundred million of us to have the American Dream. Otherwise they will remain enslaved, screaming to be saved.
Colonists may return to their masters who will take them back into feudal slavery. The path is laid out, perfect and beautiful, in soft tones.
Should we ask the foreign masters to take their people home? They are lost souls.
Every treaty ever made with us was violated. Under international law, if a treaty between nations is broken, everything reverts back to one day before the treaty was signed.
Penn State is creating a super human killing machine. Drugs can deprive soldiers of sleep for 48 hours or more. They will feel no scruples, no pain, no remorse. Virtual videos show them how to kill women and children without guilt. The brain will be immersed in trans cranial magnet stimulators. High levels of analytical thinking [intuition] will be switched off. Field helmets will run complex battle scenarios.
These dream team serial killers may not be able to return to normal.
The military should be careful what they wish for. Fear is necessary to protect your life.
Our visitors think chopping off the head of the serpent will free them. Always looking for outside help!
For Indigenous our intuition will guide us to find what we need to know.
Victory comes by living the great law of peace. When the Europeans invaded Great Turtle Island they turned their backs on it. Big mistake!
Dekanogi Ulogilv created the doc: "WE'LL LET YOUR PEOPLE GO"
From the Eagle Watch #192
November 25, 2011
140 Years Later: It's Still Genocide
As far as we can see with looking at Treaties and circumstances from the 1870's, nothing much has changed as far as the Canadian colonial policy of genocide toward the Indigenous People of Turtle Island. The factor that makes things so especially desperate at Attawapiskat is de Beers, the big Diamond outfit. They really just want to drive out the Cree people from the area by whatever means necessary. The Canadian oligarchy knows whose side they're on.
Don't let Out of Sight be Out of Mind.
This is one that calls for a loud uproar as far and wide as possible. The more people write in about this from other places in the world, the more likely some action may be taken. Shame the Canadian Government. Send this one to all your contacts and post it everywhere. It's time to stop being so polite.
See below for contact info
Timmins Daily Press
Hundreds homeless in Attawapiskat
MP says, ‘people will die if nothing is done’
By Ryan Lux, The Daily Press
The region's top two politicians paid a visit to Attawapiskat this week in response to the community's declaration that its housing situation is in a state of emergency.
What they found was a community that has reached its breaking point.
They described a bulging population living in mold-infested, under-serviced and overcrowded housing that could be likened to the Third World if it weren't for the fact the sheds and tents people live in have to keep out frigid -40 C temperatures.
"There are literally hundreds of homeless people," said MP Charlie Angus (NDP — Timmins-James Bay). "We are very concerned that people will die if nothing is done."
Angus said he saw people living in uninsulated tents, wood sheds and homes infested with black mould. Many of the homes he and his provincial counterpart, MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP — Timmins-James Bay), visited lacked plumbing forcing people to use buckets. Where there was plumbing, the water was so corrosive it was rotting the pipes.
"We saw one intersection where there were 15 people having to dump their toilet waste into the ditches so I'm certainly concerned about the health risks to children from infectious diseases."
Overcrowding puts further pressure on the already inadequate infrastructure.
Bisson said he found upwards of 20 people living in three- and four-bedroom homes, where each bedroom housed entire large families.
More than 90 people live in a series of work trailers donated to the community by De Beers two years ago in response to a sewage overflow that rendered many of the community's houses unliveable.
While the trailers were intended as a short term stop-gap measure, until the homes could be remediated or replaced, they have become permanent homeless shelters.
The 90 people who live in the trailers share four stoves and six washrooms.
Angus recalled one mother who said her young son refers to a piece of couch surrounded by other people's mattresses as his room.
Bisson said some homes are heated exclusively by halved 45-gallon drums used as wood stoves.
It's not as though Bisson and Angus have never been to Attawapiskat in their respective 21 and seven years in power. However, this time Bisson said he was offered a far more intimate perspective of the crisis.
"When I saw those shelters I thought they were sweat lodges and sheds. I never asked the question," said Bisson.
"I never realized people were living in them."
He credited his ignorance of the situation on the ground to the community's stoic nature.
"When I asked them if they were mad, they said it's not their way," Bisson said.
Angus said part of the problem is that inadequate housing has been normalized by decades of government neglect and Attawapiskat's culture of patience and making the best of limited resources.
Given their seemingly infinite patience for conditions to improve, Angus said the very fact a state of emergency has been declared speaks volumes about how bad things have become.
"First Nations people are very patient people so it takes a lot for them to invite us there to see that."
While the crisis has been brewing for a long time, pairing a rapidly growing population with insufficient construction and infrastructure development, Angus said the crisis really came to a head under Chuck Strahl who headed the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs between 2006 and 2007.
"Minister Strahl had a very combative attitude towards and basically ignored the problem," said Angus. "We've at least had 100 people homeless there for some time."
He also laid some blame on the ministry's bureaucracy, which he described as intransigent to Attawapiskat's misery.
"They've got tough hearts that are immune to it. They've seen a lot of misery," Angus said.
The Ministry has responded to Attawapiskat's plea for help by promising to retrofit 15 homes that were originally abandoned by people who considered tents and sheds as the safer option.
"Are we just moving them from the fire to the frying pan?" said Bisson.
While the retrofitted houses may be the best option to ensure some residents won't spend a harsh winter living in tents and sheds, Angus said both the federal and provincial governments need to craft a long-term housing strategy accompanied by predictable and stable funding to execute it.
The governments' current response still won't be able to bring the 15 homes up to adequate standards people in Southern Ontario would find acceptable.
"If these conditions were faced by tenants anywhere in Southern Ontario there would be charges laid against the landlord, who in this case is the federal government ," said Angus.
"I'm glad to see the ministry at the table but there's a larger crisis being ignored."
That problem is not the legacy of colonialism, Angus said, but it's continued practice in northern First Nation communities.
"These people are handcuffed to a colonial system. The federal government treats these communities as children of the state."
Angus and Bisson agree that the only way to reach a sustainable solution is to start a conversation about the Indian Act.
"They're living under an administration that is as colonial as anything that happened in Africa in the 19th century," said Angus.
Bisson argued the act needs to be overhauled to allow First Nations to own their homes as private property, something the legislation currently prohibits.
Not being able to own property means First Nations residents can't mortgage their homes to access capital to start businesses and makes it impossible for local governments to levy taxes to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
Neither men said they're optimistic about real long-term change unless the wider public pressures government and the INAC bureaucracy.
"The federal government knows most people will never visit Attawapiskat, no one will ever see it. I don't think most people know how bad it is but if the average citizen sees it, they'll become an advocate in two minutes.," Bisson said.
John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs
"When crazy people call you crazy, you know you're sane.
When evil people call you evil, you know that you are a good person.
When lairs call you a liar, you know that you are truthful.
Know who you are and don't let others tell you who you are." - Dave Kitchen