A SEAN Story

Troll: One person can speak for all people of his race, must be nice.

Troll 2: Don’t you know that Sean is the Ambassador for all natives?

Other Troll: F*$%in’ Sean…

The Internet

Perhaps the best way to understand Sean Vanderklis is to understand a love story. No, it’s not the story of Sean and Karl and their fateful meeting in a cold dark downtown St Catharines basement. It’s not the story of Sean and the brave women who have endured/enjoyed his passion. It doesn’t even involve Sean taking a selfie.

This story starts with a man tasked with teaching young people about politics. He had been gifted the task of leading classrooms full of impressionable hearts and minds. His specialty was political science. His expertise was based on a deep affection for Canada. What was truly in his heart was a profound affection, a deep soulful appreciation, a love for the ages.

That love was for castings of Canada’s first Prime Minister John A McDonald in statue form. That man was former professor emeritus of Brock University Gath Stevenson. He loved those statues so much that their removal drove him to hate.

He picked up the anti-political correctness cannon and aimed it at Indigenous people and their supporters. They were exposing his one true love – John A McDonald statues – as being representative of Canada’s history of racist policy and self-interested decision making. These damned snowflakes were even having them taken down. Canada was built on the backs of the racialized people who laid tracks on stolen land under orders from a super white patriarchy and its great accomplishments need not be sullied by ‘snivelling’ ‘ignorant pagans’ making Canada ‘unfit for civilized people’.

Garth Stevenson would be damned if he would sit idly by and acknowledge that the real history of Canada interfered with his jingoist vision of a wild western frontier tamed by the great RCMP travelling the railroads. Garth (probably) wrapped himself in a Hudson Bay blanket and engaged in keyboard warfare. This, however, led professor Garth to encounter the ultimate foil to his folly.

Garth stoked a gargantuan fire. He rattled the cage of Sean Vanderklis’s killer instinct to seek and destroy offensiveness and bigotry. He became the target of Sean’s greatest superpower- the ability to call things racist.

Working side by side with a community of Indigenous people and supporters that will take no shit, Sean rose to the challenge and amplified the message that this ignorance is not welcome here.

“Racism is alive and well in Canada,” proclaimed and emboldened Sean Vanderklis.

Muffled cries of “I hate territorial acknowledgements”, “why can’t you stay conquered”, and
“assimilation is for your own good” were drowned out by facts, sound arguments, and a newfound inspiration to redress the transgressions of history with the remedy of reconciliation.

Sean would indeed go on to become the ambassador for all Natives. Garth was stripped of his emeritus status faster than a politician answering a query with a non-answer. Niagara became a better place that week all because a white man cared about a statue more than he cared about the people original to these lands and he got called out by Sean.

Happy Retirement Butter Maiden

Karl Dockstader – Co-host of One Dish, One Mic, Sundays at 10am EST on AM 610 CKTB. Please note this article is satire. The idea of an Indian Butter Maiden is pretty daft in a very special American way.

Arden Hills, MN – In a sad story Mia the Indian Lake Maiden will start her slow churn and retire. After a hundred years as the butter mascot for a successful global corporation Mia will spread her talents across a greater breadth of ventures. She hasn’t fully rendered her plans yet, but she plans to emulsify more leisure with her skills as a money making icon

Fans of the Mia who’s hearts are melting can rest assured that the separation won’t last too long even as she cools her work in butter making on the countertop for 20 to 30 minutes or more until she’s set on a plan for her future.

Mia plans to visit Tiger Lily in the Land of the Braves to try to reconnect with her roots as a fictitious culturally appropriated character. “We miss our Great White Fathers in Indian country,” Tiger Lily told us when contacted for comment, “but us Red Indians can scalp all the pirates we want here as part of our sovereignty as Piccanany people.”

“Now is the time for Mia to write her own story,” gleefully exclaimed Mia’s friend Disney’s Pocohantas, “It’s too hard to reconcile the history of rape, pillaging, and land theft that is the foundation of white settler wealth in North America”.

The sexy teen princess marketed at children continued: “Mia has a chance to whitewash over her past, put on her best redface, and sell herself in whichever way can make her a buck.

“I’d add themes of environmentalism, nobility, and a mild critique of consumerism – which sells better then you might think,” continued the beautiful caricature, “but don’t get too critical – brains and beauty don’t sell – and keep it young, savage enough and sexy. That’s America’s bread and butter.”

“I don’t know who she is to tell me about bread and butter,” joked Mia when we shared comments from her friend.

“I actually have reached out to the Maid of the Mist for a better idea of how to handle my multi-national portfolio even though she retired from doing business in Canada and only licenses in the states. She agreed to share her agent with me,” Mia explained while still looking the part of a stunning exotic.

“(The Indian Maiden of the Mist) said that she referred her agent to the fictional Prince and Princess Harry and Meghan for how to extract in Canada for a soft launch, and then capitalize in America when you’re ready to really pump out your brand for money,” said Mia.

Mia didn’t want to share too much more detail, afraid to spread too much and melt away her ability to relax. The Butter Maiden did share that before she rebrands and visits her friends, Mia plans to lay in a cool dark place for a couple of days, but not for too long so she doesn’t sour. Teasing her future plans she shared, “ I know one thing for sure: the margarine for error in my future is small.”

What Matters in an Emergency Situation

There has never been a more important time to think about what matters the most to each and every one of us then right now.

We are in an unprecedented time in the world. There is a greater threat that sees no borders, races, gender, or class divisions. In only 4 months a new infectious disease has killed a record number of people, and infected even more. 

Ontario has declared a state of emergency. With each passing day over the past week the governments and leaders of the world have announced increasingly unusual measures to stop the spread of COVID19. Measures should be stepped up.  “We will spare no expense to support Ontarians,” Ontario’s Premier said when suspending traditional law for temporary emergency law.

Now we will see what we are made of as a people. Crises have a way of intensifying the best and worst parts of things. It is terrific to see how laser focused the media is working to get accurate information out to the general public. It is good to see countries’ leadership mostly listening to experts. There are a lot of acts of good that will come from good sources. There will be good acts that will come from sources we have traditionally seen as bad.

There will also be an aggravation of the weaknesses in our society and culture. While this new coronavirus sees no borders, races, gender, or class, we as a people do. Closing borders, closing business, closing services may be sound tactical measures that protect the vast majority of the public with the means to hunker down and wait out the virus; what about the people that don’t have those means? 

We have invisible people in our society and we need to see them now. The doors to libraries, to Tim Hortons, and to other service providers in Canada will be shuttered but we need to support the people who are counting on access to bathrooms, running water, and the internet. We kicked the can of equitable care down the road as a collective, we need to pick it up now. This is the time to prioritize the fairest treatment of all people. 

The conversation about how to protect the economy, the pensions of workers being ravaged by Wall Street and Bay Street panic, businesses and workers, is well underway. These conversations need to get bigger. We need to bring along the most vulnerable people in what could be this societies’ defining moment of goodness. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, let’s exhibit unprecedented exceptionalism. 

We have the means to do good, what we need now is the will.

From the Desk/Kitchen Table of Karl Dockstader

Rule of the Law of the Land

On February 24th, 2020, in the morning news cycle prime time the Crown’s state police outnumbered and wrestled land protectors to the ground on territory that was gifted to their people for their assistance in helping Canada achieve sovereignty. The very men who were tasked by their community in Tyendinaga to help protect the land for the unborn generations were driven into it by agents of the Crown who uphold laws of the Canadian nation state. Canada can’t help but revert to colonial force when the economic interests of the power elite are at stake it seems. Peace was in hand, but it was put down by force that morning as Canada again disdainfully proclaimed that the only rule of law that matters is their own.

The events that are shaping Canada in early 2020 are not about a pipeline, a rail blockade, or the misleading claims of divided Indigenous communities; These events are about the hearts and souls of Nations and the values they reflect.


REAL PEOPLES MEDIA EXCLUSIVE: Real Peoples Media captures the moment where Canada tackles peace talks with the Tyendinaga.

This nation state now called Canada would not be possible had the forefathers of the land protectors not defended the territories in Canada without hesitation from the rebel thirteen colonies centuries earlier. Marc Miller on February 15th, 2020, asked to ‘Polish the Silver Covenant Chain’ in an act of Nation to Nation respect established in these formative years for Canada. This is an important legal acknowledgement that history on this land is shared between the Crown and her people and the people original to these lands. This sharing is meant to embody principles such peace, respect, and friendship that were crucial in order for Canada to be formed.

These acts of kindness, the use of the Silver Covenant chain, the friendship between leaders tasked with caring for their people are part of the most formative events in Canadian history. In 1701 leadership from the Haudenosaunee negotiated the Treaty of Montreal with the French to effectively apply the principles of the One Dish, One Spoon agreement to their territories. At the same time period in the same year Haudenosaunee leadership negotiated the Treaty of Nanfan following the same principles with the representatives of the English Crown’s leadership. The One Dish, One Spoon was further used as a terms of reference for peace and resource sharing between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe people during this time.

Canandaigua
Haudenosaunee people and American people meet every year in Canandaigua New York to re-affirm the principles of peace that helped establish the United States. Photo by Karl Dockstader

Scholars and legal experts can split hairs over the specific legal, constitutional, and historical ramifications of how these One Dish, One Spoon principles apply in detail today, but this agreement is one of the most crucial foundational events in the establishment of the modern Crown nation state now called Canada. For over a century when Canada and the United States were transitioning from colonies into independent nation states they looked to the existing Nations in these territories for guidance, governance, and power structures to follow. It is well documented how much time William Johnson and Benjamin Franklin spent with the Haudenosaunee people to explore a kind of freedom from tyranny that the European commoner hadn’t seen. They looked to the law of the land, and on Turtle Island the rules of law are the principles of the wampum agreements.

The rule of law is the One Dish, One Spoon agreement; the resources of this territory are a finite gift from which we can support ourselves to the degree we need with the understanding that we must leave enough to share with others. The rule of law is the Two Row Wampum agreement; we have to have peaceful interactions respecting the distinctive strength in each of our cultures that lead to respectful dialogue in the name of mutual respect and friendship. The rule of law is the Silver Covenant Chain; our fates are bound together, our histories are deeply interconnected now, what happens to the land happens to both our societies, so we must come together regularly as equals and remind ourselves that peace is something we actively need to work at together.

A path of Peace, Respect, and Friendship should exist between nations.

The Canadian nation state right now is far from peace. While Canada could turn to the One Dish, One Spoon principles as a roadmap for resource development it instead has turned resource development over to profit driven extraction focused corporations. Canada could follow the roadmap for negotiation that the Mohawks shared with some of the first settlers in the Two Row Wampum and focus on peace and values with other nations. The Crown is instead willing to do business with leaders from countries who detain Canadians without merit, suppress the press, and regularly violate human rights. Canadian nation state leadership could explore how conservative, liberal, progressive, and French Canadian values add to regionally unique interests of a land that has so many gifts by looking at what chains of friendship exist between these diverse but important interests. Instead their parliamentarians shout at each other in their leadership house with adversarial tones to work towards the self interest of making their party look good as opposed to caucusing for how to help their people get the things they need that they can’t get on their own.

Perhaps this is too optimistic to hope that the modern Crown nation state can look to the values of the people original to this land. There is a presumptive superiority in the way that the colonial settler society has conducted itself since it got here. This is coupled with a robust and rich history of top down leadership enforced at the tip of a bayonet, the end of a rifle, or in the case of the OPP in Tyendinaga the use of sheer force of numbers. Is Canada more than an economic engine that pumps money out of the land for the benefit of an established power status quo? What principles will the nations state of Canada use to reconcile it’s deepening income inequality, regionally divided interests, and widening political polarization? Are Canadians okay with their government using force and suppression of journalism to deny sovereignty to people who were, are and will continue to be freely governed by deeply entrenched laws and lessons learned from the land?

Men in the Niagara community tend to the medicines on February 16th, 2020, at the Rainbow Bridge Wet’suwet’en solidarity march.

There are answers to these complex questions about Canadian nation state values. There is a way for the Crown to learn from history to meet a wide range of needs of people with differing perspectives. The values of the agreements reflected in wampum were shared freely with colonial settler society to help everyone who lives on this territory live a full life of peace. 

Canada chose force over peace in Tyendinaga – the very birthplace of the founder of the Great Peace of the Haudenosaunee. Their prime leader stood aside while the police wrestled original sovereign people fighting to protect their right to exist and their requirement to protect the land to the ground. The wampum agreement principles went to the ground with them. Marc Miller had the Silver Covenant Chain in his hand. He was breaths away from making substantive efforts to reaffirm values that could have fundamentally made life for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people better. Instead he put the interests of his political party and the Crown first. Fortunately the laws of the land and the principles of peace were there before the Canadian nation state, they still exist, and they can still be picked up followed by good people who want to help preserve and care for the unborn generations that will follow us.

Wet’suwet’en Statement

On February 6th the RCMP started to forcefully dismantle 10 year old peace camps and restrict the access of journalists

Official Statement from One Dish, One Mic:

Updated February 9th.

 

1. One Dish, One Mic condemns the actions of the Crown for its failure to respect the will of the Wet’suwet’en title holders by using hostile force to invade their territory. 

 

On February 6th, 2020, under the cover of darkness, the RCMP started to dismantle peaceful camps of supporters of the Wet’suwet’en and arrested several people. The active invasion of camps occupied by supporters of a government that is thousands of years old by a government that is several decades old is a shameful continuation of the colonial and racist legacy of the Crown’s material self interest. We condemn this invasion and consider it illegal, unethical, and fundamentally destructive to the interests of Crown and Indigenous relations.

2. One Dish, One Mic calls upon St Catharines MP Chris Bittle, and MP Vance Badaway as Niagara members of the ruling government to publicly condemn the unethical raids and support deep and meaningful dialogue with the title holders in Wet’suwet’en territory who have been offering a peaceful solution for over 10 years.

 

 

Canada must respect the wishes of the traditional title holders in Wet’suwet’en territory. One Dish, One Mic supports the Five Clan Families as the true trustees of the territory and condemn the actions of the Canadian government, it’s courts, and it’s paramilitary police agents. Canada is effectively lawless when it comes to the treatment of Indigenous people when it acts in the way it is acting in this traditional Indigenous territory. The honour of the Crown requires Canada to follow the principles of Peace, Respect, and Friendship it bound itself to when it was granted legal life at the Treaty of Niagara in 1764. Failure to do so delegitimizes the Nation State of Canada.

We specifically expect MP Bittle, and MP Badaway to explain why the Prime Minister is:

  • Allowing the Federal and National Police Service to subsidize multi-billion dollar corporations by acting as their enforcement arm
  • Allowing the Federal and National Police service to continue to use paramilitary levels of force, including the authorization of lethal force, and authorization to arrest children and elders in unceded traditional Indigenous territory
  • Not intervening in the destruction of artifacts, culturally and spiritually significant items, and grave sites that potentially exist on the trail the Wet’suwet’en are protecting
  • Ignoring the hereditary leaders of this territory and others and continuing to pretend non-Indian Act governments don’t exist
  • Not exploring any path to reconcile the ancestral rights of the Wet’suwet’en leaders outside of forcing them to come up with millions of dollars to fight within a Canadian court system that has limited ability to handle of scope and complexities of Indigenous title claims

 

3. One Dish, One Mic as a member of the media demands that the Crown and the Federal and National Police Service change any policy that allows a journalist to be threatened with arrest in the course of their work by the Crown’s Federal and National Police Service.

 

On the morning of February 6th, 2020, the RCMP detained two journalists, and threatened another journalist with arrest on the traditional Indigenous territory of the Wet’suwet’en people. This fundamental disregard of freedom illustrates the danger of a state that puts material interests over the interests of fairness such as press freedom and Indigenous sovereignty. Freedom of the press is a fundamental right of a modern and free nation state and the discretionary use of exclusion zones to limit free documentation of accredited journalists and photographers is deeply problematic.

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Sean and Karl work all week long to craft an hour of radio that tells the stories of Niagara through an Indigenous lens. Every Sunday morning at 10am on AM 610 CKTB – The Voice of Niagara you can now hear their voices and unique takes. This is radio that is not like other radio shows and that’s what makes it compelling.

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Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you Sunday morning at 10am.

The Spirit of the Treaties and Thundering Waters Forest

Tkake:thos Okwali

Tetwa’s^tha’

May 4th, 2018

Planning Division &
City Council

City of Niagara Falls

4310 Queen Street, PO Box 1023

Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2E 6X5

Dear City Officials,

I wish to express my opposition to the Riverfront Community Official Plan Amendment as currently proposed as an act of bad faith that ignores Canada’s obligation to act as good faith Treaty partners. I am mindful while making these comments that it is challenging to find a route to fulfill the Crown’s Duty to Consult through the means available to the City. While my opposition includes these grounds my opposition also extends to concerns about the OPA outside of these concerns. I will outline why I think that this OPA must be opposed at this time in this letter.

The Duty to Consult has not been fulfilled:

My perspective is guided by the letter of Infringement from August of 2016 issued by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute and the letter issuing a warning from the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force to Justin Trudeau on March 8th of 2017, both of which are attached. These letters have been delivered to the planning department in and around the dates specified.

The letters were drafted in reference to the Thundering Waters Secondary Plan amendment but the core elements of the current OPA still do not address the concerns in the letters. Because the concerns in the letters have not been addressed the opposition to the project stated in each letter is applicable to the OPA in its current form.

All of the descendants of Katsistyawaks of the Ow^tsa’tha family of the On^yote:aka are united in their opposition to this OPA. The Men’s Fire of Six Nations expressed opposition. Several local Indigenous Niagara families maintain their opposition. I have been in contact with the Mississaugas of the New Credit and Six Nations of the Grand River who have not been properly contacted for input. The Ow^tsa’tha family letter issued is attached.

I do want to commend Kenneth L Beaman and the City Planning department for personally addressing myself and other community members who had expressed concern about Treaty Rights in a courteous and professional manner. I have no doubt that the Planning and Legal departments have tried their best to address these requests within their abilities. The concerns still stand unresolved however.

I might highlight some portions of the letter of Infringement to show why the concerns still stand:
“At this time, and on a preliminary basis, we confirm that the Project will interfere, impair, and infringe upon Haudenosaunee title, rights and interests as guaranteed and recognized by the Nanfan Treaty of 1701, the position of Crown via the Lords of Trade and Plantations as to Haudenosaunee title as recognized and affirmed by the Mitchell map of 1755, the August Treaty of 1764 and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768…

“As we have indicated, the Project will impair treaty rights and at a minimum will have the affect of extinguishing harvesting rights on the subject lands.  The Supreme Court of Canada has recently clarified that treaty rights may only be impaired and/or infringed where consent has been provided  and/or the infringement has been justified.  We confirm that the justification process involves the discharge of fiduciary duties and as discussed fiduciary duties may not be delegated without the consent of the fiduciary.  We confirm that consent as to the delegation of fiduciary duties has not occurred.

“We also confirm our discussion in relation to the consultation and accommodation framework that was first discussed by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Haida and Taku decisions.  We have expressly stated that this is an inappropriate approach as those cases dealt with asserted but unproven rights whereas the rights in question on this matter are established and recognized in Canadian law by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.   If we did assume the applicability of the consultation and accommodation framework (which is expressly denied) then the delegation from Ontario to Niagara Falls would only be lawful where Ontario undertook a prima facie assessment of the rights and interests which would then structure the nature and scope of consultation.   As you indicated it does not appear that any such assessment has been undertaken by Ontario and/or Niagara Falls and as such the delegation is unlawful on this basis.

“Going forward we would ask that entirety of the process for advancing the amendments to the Official Plan be placed on hold until such time as Ontario has discharged its obligations.  As discussed, if Niagara Falls proceeds it may suggest bad faith and a bias as to outcomes… 

“Please also accept this correspondence as official opposition to the Project for the purposes of section 17 of the Planning Act.”

– Haudenosaunee Development Institute letter of Infringement – August 20th, 2016

I have the utmost respect for City Staff and Council but a realistic gap between the kind of Treaty partner Canada wants to be versus the kind of Treaty partner Canada is exists. I am sympathetic to the perspective that the City has neither the mandate nor the capacity to properly address these concerns yet I maintain hope that asking, acting, and thinking kindly can help perpetuate the ways of thankfulness. Further to that, sooner or later the discrepancies between the principles of the Treaty agreements and the ways of growth must be resolved. I am hopeful that that path exists within the frameworks that generations of leaders have crafted into your most current laws.

The Spirit of the Treaty Agreements Could be met through Good Stewardship

We have important covenants like the Dish with One Spoon, the Two Row Wampum, the Friendship Belts and other wampum belts that guide us and bind our will towards virtue. You have a Federal Constitution, a Provincial Planning Act, and the City’s Official Plan to help bind your judgement and guide your decency.

I would hope that the cautionary words of Henry Lickers speaking on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force will shape your thinking on this important decision to be made. Here is an excerpt:

“They say the development of the forest part will not impact the wetlands. We know this not to be true because this land is all intricate, complex and woven together. They cannot be separated. One is dependent on the other just like humans are dependent on nature. All the environmental studies do not take into consideration the history of the land and the cultural resources it possesses…

“All of the wildlife is important to the Haudenosaunee, over the past years we have seen many of our brothers and sisters disappear from this earth and have mourned their passing. Canada and the United States have enacted “Species at Risk” legislation to protect various species that are endangered of extinction. This area has many such species…we remind you of your obligation under the Two Row treaty that we have with you to warn you when we see danger in the river life that that could harm us both. Your obligations under your own legislation must be clear to you.

HETF March 13th, 2017

The obligation to follow the Planning Act and the Official Plan of Niagara Falls are the guidelines I tried to use to understand how Council should proceed. My understanding is that this decision should follow the Cities Official Plan which follows the principles of the Provincial Policy Statement as set by the Provincial Planning Act. The Act aims to balance the following interests:

  • the efficient use and management of land and infrastructure
  • protection of the environment and resources
  • ensuring appropriate opportunities for employment and residential development, including support for a mix of uses

What makes this complicated is that the last two points can come into conflict with one another.

It is important to create opportunities like the one promised to the developer who hopes to invest in our community. It is also important to protect and preserve environmental features like wetlands, wildlife habitat, and core heritage features. My understanding is that the ladder argument carries more weight in this instance if the Official Plan and the PPS are being followed.

Special Policy Area 56 in the Official Plan of the City of Niagara Falls was set as an area for growth within the urban boundary. This was set several decades ago though when the science on wetland protection wasn’t as advanced as it is now. I would suggest that if the planners in the 70’s had the knowledge we have now about the ecological richness of this area they might not have set it for growth and development.

When the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry re-evaluated the area in 2010 they increased the protections in the area after recognizing its value. In 2016 they evaluated an ever further need for protection. I imagine that when Council went on tours of the area as agreed to in August of 2016 that it was easy to see the natural wonder of the environmental features in the wetlands, the meadows, the forests, the thickets and even some of the areas with recent disturbance that are regenerating.

It is being mindful of these studies and your own observations of the area that I hope guide your judgement when considering how to interpret the policy around this area:

  • According the Official Plan a Secondary Plan amendment was to be sought for SPA 56 to develop this area. Currently an exception is being asked for and only an Official Plan Amendment is now being sought. Will this result in less refinement of environmental and residential designations? Will the proper completion of setbacks and linkages to core heritage features be set? Will MNRF recommendations be incorporated properly into the City Plan with an OPA vs. a Secondary Plan Amendment?
  • Amendments are to be granted on the grounds that the proper environmental studies have been completed. Another exception is being asked for as the bat studies have not been completed.
  • Protected species need the strongest possible protection. There are amphibian breeding habitats inside of the OPA boundary. How can this not negatively effect the snapping turtles, spring peepers, chorus frogs, leopard frogs, tree frogs, wood frogs, American toads, blue spotted salamandars, acadian flycathchers and barn swallows?
  • The proponents work indicates that they are seeking re-evaluation of some of the wetlands and environmental features later this summer. This is an indication that the studies are ongoing. An amendment should not be considered until all of the studying is completed.
  • Development on lands adjacent to protected lands shall not be altered “unless the ecological function of the adjacent lands has been evaluated and it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions”. If this development proceeds there will be a net loss of ecological function in the core heritage features by virtually eliminating the adjacent Environmental Conservation Areas.
  • The OPA consists of mostly Environmental Conservation Area. Areas that aren’t ECA are actually strictly protected EPA’s in multiple places (see next bullet point). Even the non-ECA areas are host to pollinator meadows that include important plants such as the dense blazing star and milkweed – the only plant that can sustain the monarch butterfly a species of special concern.
  • Environmental Protection Areas are not to be altered. There are multiple wetlands within the proposed boundary. While the proponent seeks to have the wetlands downgraded this has not happened. Both the City Plan and the Provincial Policy indicate that altering an EPA is strictly not allowed.

I do not possess the complete expertise to explore each of these concerns in detail but it seems fair to argue that there are questions not about whether there will or won’t be a negative impact, but rather how extensive the negative impact will be. There are wetlands within the OPA proposal. There are studies yet to be completed. There will be hectares of woodlot to be removed. Even the disturbance areas look beautiful to the common person. The City can stop it by following its own policies and planning guidelines.

The Mayor was well intentioned in seeking ways to advance our community. I commend the project proponent for their patience while the important process of environmental stewardship plays out. I am grateful to live in a city that is clearly working hard to find the balance between preserving natural heritage and attracting the right kinds of development to share our neighbourhoods.

The development is a great idea. This location isn’t ready for this development at this time though.

I urge the City to be mindful of the importance of the timeless principles embodied in the wampum agreements. I think that the way to do that is not to approve this amendment.

Yaw^’kowa,

Save Thundering Waters Forest Podcast

If you want to learn all about Thundering Waters Forest and don’t like reading then this is the podcast for you. We unpack a lot of important ideas about ecology, development, balance and even pack in some cool historical info about Treaties and the principles of stewardship…also TREVOR HAS HIS FIRST TRAVELING THOUGHT!! The cosmic balance of the universe might be out of flux now…we saved a good one for our quarter century mark on the One Mic.

Check it out the STWF PODCAST BY CLICKING THESE WORDS!

Racism Killed Colton

It’s hard to put into words the emotions I feel over the Colten Boushie case. Although I cannot help but feeling that we’ve been here before, this time is different. With Colten, I see me. I see my friends. I see any youth who walked the fine line between right and wrong. If we evaluate this case at face value and remove race, the facts are simple. Gerald Stanley is responsible for the death of Colten Boushie. Mr. Stanley intentionally armed himself and he intentionally put the bullets into the gun. Mr. Stanley admittedly pointed the gun at the back of Colten’s head. The trigger was pulled and anything and everything that Colten could have been will never be. Mr. Stanley is responsible for that; Colten’s death is on his hands.

When we add Colten’s indigeneity to the equation, it only complicates the situation that much more. I want to make this clear, I believe that racism was the determining factor in whether Colten lived or died. I believe that racism was the determining factor in how the RCMP handled the case. I also believe that racism was the determining factor in the verdict. Canada has a racism problem. It is hidden in society’s veil of ignorance. Veil, in this case, refers to Canada’s claim to diversity. While Canadians may be diverse in skin colour and country of origin, that diversity could be a burden when understanding racism and its relationship with Indigenous people. How can an individual understand racism when they don’t know the subtleties of it? How can an individual understand Canadian racism when they don’t know the history of it? Citizens have been conditioned to view Indigenous people as less than long before 1867. Those views have been reaffirmed by racist and restrictive policy and reinforced by laws. Look no further than the evolution of the Indian Act.

My first experience of racism occurred when I was six years old. I was raised in an urban environment in a relatively big city. In a class discussion, the teacher proposed the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”. All students responded with obvious answers like a teacher, doctor, or police officer and my response was relatively similar. However, after informing the classmates and teacher of my career choice, her response was simple and her view of me was clear. She said, “You’ll probably drink lots”. I was six years old. While I laughed it off, it left me puzzled. Her view of me and who I would be, has stuck with me all this time. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what she meant. It wasn’t until I became aware of the struggle some indigenous people have with substance abuse that it all became clear. It hit me like a ton of bricks. After that realization, I began to experience racism on a regular basis. Instead of talking it out, fists became my words and anger was my story.

 

Racism as a societal construct of bias has always been a part our narrative. It is those lived experiences that have shaped our realities. It is those racist or discriminatory subtleties that often go missed. However, it is also those experiences that have united us. Our stories are unique and Colten is the mirror of many images I have encountered in my life. Colten is my son; young, careless, and free. He wore his indigeneity like a badge of honour. However, what an indigenous person interprets as an honour society often mistakes it for a target.

His name was Colten. He was 22 years of age. Gerald Stanley took his life, but racism killed him. So as the Boushie family grieves for the loss of their son, I want them to know that history will remember his name. Colten will be the catalyst for change.

The NPCA War on Scrutiny

David vs. Goliath.

Ali vs. Foreman.

Marvel vs. DC.

Timmies vs. Starbucks.

Quirk vs. the World?

The NPCA has lately been oft embattled. Is it because they are picking fights instead of solving problems?

  • They were asked to do an independent audit. They resisted with all their might.
  • Bill Hodgson was becoming critical of the actions of the authority. He was publicly censured.
  • The public asked the NPCA to support broader environmental protection. The chair made it clear they aren’t a protection agency.
  • People concerned about one of only two large remaining forests in Niagara Falls urban boundary being under threat due to a Chinese backed development in the City asked for the NPCA to share information to help protect the forest and adjacent pollinating meadow. The co-chair of the NPCA used his public facing platforms to try to discredit residents concerned about the Thundering Waters development.
  • Ed Smith – a retired armed serviceperson trying to improve his community through dedicated volunteerism – wrote a comprehensive report connecting a lot of dots of impropriety to one another. They denied it with all their might. They sued him.
  • The NPCA’s lawsuit was ruled to have no merit to proceed. The NPCA dug in as part of their “obligation and duty to protect their reputation.”

    Tony Quirk seems to think he’s Tony Stark and battles reporters, citizens, and critics in his organization’s war on scrutiny

Within moments of a local judge ruling that a letter issued by the agency was like an “Opening Salvo in a war,” Tony Quirk of the NPCA board was engaging in a twitter fight side by side with the official NPCA tweeter. Perhaps the tweeter was one of the new communications people enlisted to replace the environmentalists they’ve been discharging.

If the NPCA has any money left after all the taxpayer dollars they wasted suing Smith – an amount they refuse to disclose – they might want to draft some of the reporters from the Standard who have been doing great work exposing some of the flaws of the NPCA kingdom’s adversarial thinking. Maybe they’ll need to use some of the money from the Department of Defense training happening on NPCA grounds for their war on scrutiny.

Is this thinking unique to the NPCA or does it extend to the various entities and corporations its board members, such as Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati- sit on?

If this is the climate within which the disagreement over how to resolve the controversial Thundering Waters development dispute will be resolved then the tri-color bats better head for cover.

There are questions about the Region. There are questions about the NPCA. There are questions about Niagara Falls and the threatened Thundering Waters Forest and pollinator meadow.

Ed asked for a call to accountability not a call to duty – something he knows more about than anybody on the NPCA board.

Are those seeking the truth in the Niagara of 2017 dealing with people clouded by the fog of a meaningless war declared on public criticism?

Most people want answers, not a fight, but most people apparently aren’t like the special brand of people running the NPCA at the moment.