Shiri Pasternak

Journalism

Originally published by Ricochet, June 28, 2017.

Part 2 of 5: Resistance 150: Unsettling Canada’s Hidden Economic Apartheid

Link: https://ricochet.media/en/1878/transfer-payments-impose-permanent-austerity-on-indigenous-communities

What is the fiscal infrastructure of colonialism? It is a barebones cash transfer program that Indigenous Affairs manages to produce a state of permanent austerity on reserves. It is a funding program that has been weaponized against First Nations nationally.

In January 2017, two young girls took their lives in a suicide pact at Wapekeka First Nation. Desperate for mental health workers, the First Nation — a fly-in community 600 kilometers north of Thunder Bay — requested $376,706 in emergency funding from Health Canada. According to Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, they were told it was an “awkward time” to be considered for funding approval.

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Originally published by Ricochet, June 14, 2017.

Part 1 of 5: Resistance 150: Unsettling Canada’s Hidden Economic Apartheid

Link: https://ricochet.media/en/1863/arthur-manuels-battle-against-the-02-per-cent-indigenous-economy

An introduction to the economic apartheid facing Indigenous communities in Canada

As the pageantry around Canada 150 begins, Ricochet and our Indigenous Reporting Fund present “Resistance 150: Unsettling Canada’s Hidden Economic Apartheid,” a series honouring and continuing the pathbreaking work of the late Arthur Manuel. The Secwepemc chief, long-time member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and indomitable activist and thinker played a key role in Indigenous land defence in Canada and globally.

“Resistance 150,” inspired by Manuel’s book Unsettling Canada, is a five-part series by Shiri Pasternak, an academic, writer and organizer who is active with Defenders of the Land and their new campaign, Unsettling 150. Before his passing, Manuel asked Pasternak to expand on his ideas and undertake this series for Ricochet’s Indigenous Reporting Fund. It is intended as an educational contribution, promoting dialogue and unsettling the colonial assumptions underlying the official Canada 150 celebrations.

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Originally published by Ricochet, April 7, 2017.

Link: https://ricochet.media/en/1756/starve-or-submit-how-one-first-nation-remains-in-servitude-to-a-private-accounting-firm

Algonquin of Barriere Lake kept in the dark about their own finances

On Tuesday, the Standing Committee of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada met to further its investigation into the controversial Default Prevention and Management Policy, which has been particularly devastating to a small First Nation living just a few hours north of the nation’s capital.

A team of accountants in Quebec City manages the finances of the impoverished Algonquin of Barriere Lake, a First Nation located 600 kilometres away. These third-party managers pay themselves $550,000 a year for this service out of the budget the community relies on for health care and housing. Of the band’s meager annual budget, 10 per cent now pays for this dubious service, and every year deep cuts to community programs are required in return.

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Originally published by Cultural Anthropology, December 22, 2016.

Link: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1022-deedsnotwords-a-national-day-of-water-protection-solidarity-north-of-the-medicine-line

It started with a call from the east. Cheryl Maloney, a Mi’kmaqi land defender, was watching the expansion of the resistance camp at Standing Rock. She sent a message to the Defenders of the Land network, writing, “With the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in the middle of Turtle Island, Site C Dam in the West, and soon-to-be-active resistance to Alton Gas and turbines in the Bay of Fundy on the East Coast . . . we should do an international day of actions for water. It’s time to call the four directions.” The women’s committee of the Defenders of the Land network responded, and the day of actions was set for Canadian Thanksgiving Day.

On that day—the second Monday of October—First Nation and Inuit communities and their allies across the country took to the streets, ports, highways, and sites of critical infrastructure to link the struggle at Standing Rock with front-line struggles to protect water in Canada.

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Originally published by Ricochet, June 3, 2015.

Link: https://ricochet.media/en/464/federal-budget-could-mark-end-of-duty-to-consult-with-first-nations

Consultation dollars will now flow through mining corporations

Tens of millions in dollars for consultation processes on Aboriginal lands made it into the recently tabled federal budget, but not for First Nations.

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that the Crown must consult and accommodate First Nations when development threatens to infringe their rights. But Canada and the provinces have begun to offload that duty onto mining companies who seek to prospect on Aboriginal lands.

Largely ignored in analyses of the federal budget is a new way of financing consultation with Indigenous communities at early stages of mineral exploration and mine development. Consultation will now be funded through mining tax credits that can be “flowed through” to investors to fund exploration and development activities.

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Originally published by Two Row Times, February 4, 2015.

Link: http://www.tworowtimes.com/news/regional/barriere-lake-sues-aboriginal-affairs-third-party-managers/

OTTAWA – On January 30, 2015, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake commenced a legal proceeding against Canada and past and present third party managers for breach of fiduciary duty, interference with economic relations, and negligence. Their claim is for $30 million in damages for lost monies, undermined autonomy and self-governance, and harm to their reputation.

Threatened with a loss of services for their inability to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, the community is fighting back in court, and in doing so, dragging the whole corrupt federal funding system onto the public stage.

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Originally published in First Nations Strategic Bulletin, November-December 2014.

Link: https://www.scribd.com/doc/251753955/First-Nations-Strategic-Bulletin-Nov-Dec-14

Onion Lake Cree Nation recently announced that they will be taking legal action against the Government of Canada for imposing discriminatory legislation on Indigenous peoples through the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. More Chiefs spoke out against the Act at a press conference held at the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Winnipeg this week.

What Canadians should know is that anger over the First Nations Financial Transparency Act is not about Chiefs afraid to get their hands caught in a cookie jar. Rather, this piece of legislation is only the tip of the iceberg in a pattern of financial abuse by the federal government.

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Originally published in the Two Row Times, November 19, 2014.

Link: https://www.tworowtimes.com/opinions/opinion/confrontation-brewing-first-nations-financial-transparency-act/

On October 27, Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan received a threatening letter from Aboriginal Affairs. It warns of serious consequences if actions are not taken in the next month to comply with the requirements of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Among these threats is termination of their funding agreement, court action and public disclosure of their refusal to submit to the new rules, exposed on Aboriginal Affairs’ website for all to see.

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Originally published in the First Nations Strategic Bulletin. Volume 12, Issues 8-10. August-October, 2014.

Link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/245461195/First-Nations-Strategic-Bulletin-August-Oct-14

By Russell Diabo and Shiri Pasternak

“Our government believes that the best way to resolve outstanding Aboriginal rights and title claims is through negotiated settlements,” stated Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Bernard Valcourt on the day the final Tsilhqot’in decision came down in June.

After 25 years of litigation, millions of dollars in legal fees, and 399 days in court for the Supreme Court hearing alone, the Tsilhqot’in people might have preferred a negotiated settlement, too.

But not the kind the Government of Canada was offering. The Minister was referring to the Comprehensive Land Claims policy, the Government’s preferred method for dealing with unceded Indigenous territory in Canada.

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Originally published on Desmog Canada

Link: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/11/02/wars-home-what-state-surveillance-indigenous-rights-campaigner-tells-us-about-real-risk-canada

Recent revelations that the RCMP spied on Indigenous environmental rights activist Clayton Thomas-Muller should not be dismissed as routine monitoring. They reveal a long-term, national energy strategy that is coming increasingly into conflict with Indigenous rights and assertions of Indigenous jurisdiction over lands and resources.

A “Critical Infrastructure Suspicious Incident” report was triggered by Thomas-Muller’s trip in 2010 to the Unist’ot’en camp of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, where a protect camp was being built on the coordinates of a proposed Pacific Trails pipeline.

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