By The Canadian Press - Sunday, December 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
First Nations activists are gearing up for a week of rallies as part of…
First Nations activists are gearing up for a week of rallies as part of a growing grassroots movement known as Idle No More, which has drawn together communities across the country thanks to a powerful presence online.
Supporters say they are upset about the effects of the Harper government’s policies on aboriginal communities. They want First Nations to be recognized as sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting the country’s land and resources.
“There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well,” says a manifesto published on the group’s website, idlenomore.com.
“We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.”
The movement has quickly gained momentum, particularly with a new generation of young, social-media savvy activists. Thousands have used the #idlenomore hashtag on Twitter to debate issues and spread information about upcoming protests.
Events across the country — from Halifax, N.S. to Red Deer, Alta. — are posted on the group’s website and on Facebook. After a round of protests on Dec. 10, more events are planned for this week, culminating in a rally on Parliament Hill on Friday.
Tanya Kappo, an Edmonton aboriginal activist who sent the first message with the #idlenomore hashtag, said discontent with the federal government has been simmering for some time and all it took was a spark.
“I’ve been feeling this sense in our communities of this great unrest,” Kappo said in a weekend phone interview.
The campaign was started by four women from Saskatchewan against a number of bills before Parliament. They are particularly critical of Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget legislation, which they say weakens environmental laws.
“We started discussing that and felt that we need to bring attention to this legislation,” said Jessica Gordon, one of the four, who lives in Saskatoon.
Jan O’Driscoll, a spokeswoman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, said the department has made efforts to consult with aboriginal leaders. He said they continue work on pressing issues on reserves like education, clean drinking water and housing.
“While we’ve made significant strides, there is still work to be done,” O’Driscoll said in an email.
“We’ll continue to partner with First Nations to create the conditions for healthier, more self-sufficient communities.”
O’Driscoll said Duncan has also tried to reach out to Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who is entering the second week of a hunger strike. Attawapiskat made international news last year for its poor housing conditions.
Spence has promised to continue her strike unless the Conservative government starts showing more respect to First Nations concerns and aboriginal treaties. She wants a meeting between the Crown, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and aboriginal leaders.
The hunger strike has become a cause celebre for some First Nations activists and Spence has drawn support from all regions of the country.
The Assembly of First Nations issued an open letter to Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Harper on Sunday calling for a meeting to discuss Spence’s demands.
“All First Nations across Canada stand united and in solidarity in advancing this urgent call for action and attention,” the statement said.
Duncan has offered to meet with Spence and have his parliamentary secretary tour the reserve to ensure it has what it needs for winter.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May… is gearing up
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is gearing up for the three by-elections (yet to be called) that she hopes could double her caucus of one. She feels the Greens have a chance in Calgary Centre, the riding formerly represented by Conservative Lee Richardson, who resigned to work for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and in Victoria, which became vacant after NDP MP and deputy Speaker Denise Savoie stepped down for health reasons. One of the advantages of the Victoria riding for May is that it borders her own riding, and she won’t have to get on a plane to help with the campaign. Flying can be a problem for May. “I’m too afraid of flying to sleep,” she says. When she takes the red-eye from B.C. to Ottawa she is pretty much up for 24 hours—a skill, she notes, that has its perks: “That’s why I’m so good at voting all night.”
Tankers not tank tops
Over the summer, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, the party’s environment critic, was raising awareness about environmental issues surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. While in British Columbia, her fellow NDP MP Nathan Cullen introduced her to Greer Kaiser, a local activist originally from Nova Scotia, the province that Leslie represents. Leslie connected Kaiser with local Halifax environment groups (the Atlantic chapter of Sierra Club Canada, the Ecology Action Centre and the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition) and the duo brought their pipeline-awareness message to a barbeque called “Tankers vs. Tank Tops.” Participants were asked to wear creative tops for the cause. Leslie had a multicoloured tank top and then put on a T-shirt, given to her by the organizers, that said, “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem.” Liberal MP Geoff Regan attended the event but did not wear a tank top.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:57 AM - 0 Comments
John Geddes in conversation with Brigette Depape
Brigette DePape was a uniformed Senate page when she made herself an instant symbol of youth protest nearly a year ago by silently holding a handmade “Stop Harper” sign on the floor of the upper chamber during the reading of the Conservative government’s Throne Speech. Since then, she’s been travelling the country meeting with activist groups, and this week the 22-year-old launches Power of Youth, a collection of essays she co-edited on activism.
Q: You went from unknown to icon awfully quickly. Did you ever ﬁnd the transition intimidating?
A: To be honest, I was really scared when I took the action. The hardest part was that moment of, “Should I do this?” I could either stand back and watch as the government was eroding our social services and destroying our environment or I could do something. I was scared about my parents’ reaction, my family’s reaction. But then I really thought about the people who are impacted by Harper—women, indigenous people and workers. That really gave me strength and the feeling that I’m part of something bigger.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:15 AM - 40 Comments
By chance, I was on scene for the initial stage of the Occupy Calgary event last weekend. The Occupants, exhibiting the same implacable literalism as the terrorists who thought the World Trade Centre was somehow crucial to world trade, had descended upon the courtyard of the city’s Bankers Hall complex. But they posed no particular threat to any banking activity, legitimate or otherwise. Mostly they just impeded pedestrian access to a shopping mall for a little while, creating an ephemeral nuisance to a few small businesses. They did have one Starbucks quite effectively hemmed in, but if my back-of-envelope calculations are right, they indulged in just enough corporate caramel macchiatos to make up for it. Soon the mob shambled off to Olympic Plaza, where I gather they are still struggling to bring about Year Zero. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM - 15 Comments
There’s no shortage of promise among these 11 young Canadians
If Malcolm Gladwell is right, and it really takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft, the following 11 Canadians—all of whom are younger than 25—have been incredibly busy. Among this gifted bunch is a 13-year-old figure skater who recently became the youngest junior men’s champion in the nation’s history, a 15-year-old whose research could change how autistic children are educated, a multi-award-winning film director who’s only 16, and a 23-year-old small-town mayor with some big ideas—and a day job.
And while these phenoms aren’t household names, this won’t be the last you hear of them. In January 2000, Maclean’s named a young guy from Burnaby, B.C., one of the “faces of the future.” At the time, the 24-year-old had just landed a gig as the opening act for Dionne Warwick, and told the magazine that if he ever became rich and famous he’d take his parents to Paris and buy his grandfather season tickets to the Vancouver Canucks. That young singer’s name was Michael Bublé.
Léa Clermont-Dion – Activism
“I’m not an activist.” These aren’t words you’d expect to hear from Léa Clermont-Dion. After all, the 20-year-old native of Gore, Que., has dedicated herself to the issues of body acceptance, gender equality and the portrayal of women in the fashion world for much of her life. At 14, she organized a university conference bringing together Quebec’s best-known feminists. In 2007, at 16, Clermont-Dion, who suffered from anorexia herself in her early teens, and Jacinthe Veillette started a petition calling for the promotion of healthy body image and an end to the “hypersexualization” of women, particularly in the fashion world. The petition, which proposed a seven-point charter, garnered 20,000 signatures; Clermont-Dion lobbied the Association of Canadian Advertisers, which along with several other media, fashion and education groups endorsed the charter’s principles. Her initiative also caught the eye of Christine St-Pierre, the province’s culture minister, and in 2010, the Quebec government adopted la Charte de l’image corporelle saine et diversifiée (the charter for a healthy and diverse body image), which seeks to lessen the instances of body issues among women and men. It is a first of its kind in North America.
By Andrew Potter - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
One of the most famous artists in China uses his status to engage in political activism
One of the defining characteristics of Western culture is our inability to be shocked by art. It has been almost 100 years since Marcel Duchamp submitted a stock urinal to an art exhibition as a work he called Fountain. Ever since, artists have struggled to replicate the effect it had of a grenade exploding in an innocent culture, but with little success. Sure, there are stray ripples of outrage, but whether it is the intimacy and sexuality of Tracey Emin’s My Bed or the theo-scatological juvenilia of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, the public generally just shrugs and goes about its business. As a result, we have become complacent about art, in particular about its capacity to challenge authority and upend the status quo. But for artists looking to transgress the boundaries, they might take a bit of inspiration, and a great deal of caution, from what is going on in China.
In early May, the Chinese performance artist Cheng Li was sentenced to a year of “labour through re-education” and sent to a prison camp for the crime of disturbing the public order. Cheng was arrested after he and a female partner had sex on a balcony in front of a crowd of patrons at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Beijing. Cheng billed the performance piece, entitled Art Whore, as an indictment of the “popular trend of commercializing art.”
In North America, public sex is about as banal as art gets. When a Northwestern University professor staged a live sex-toy demonstration for his human sexuality class last month, the school responded to calls for his dismissal by…cancelling the course next year. As for the idea of art commenting on its own commercialization, that’s one of the oldest (and most lucrative) tricks in the book. The prankumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop by the shadowy British street artist Banksy might have grossed only $5 million or so, but it served as a fantastic advertisement for Banksy’s own works, which sell at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By Mike Doherty - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Alannah Weston is starting with London’s Selfridges to save the world’s fisheries
The signs on the doors of Selfridges’ flagship department store on Oxford Street in London promote giving “the gift of self-indulgence.” Having sold an £85 sandwich, a £1,000 Swarovski-encrusted water bottle, an £1,800 Spanish ham, and a £10,000 children’s electric car, Selfridges is not exactly known for preaching restraint. And yet, in launching Project Ocean, its creative director, Alannah Weston, is doing just that.
“Just because you sell beautiful things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the right thing,” says Weston, perched over a cup of tea in the downstairs restaurant of the 650,000-sq.-foot store owned by her father, billionaire Galen Weston. Project Ocean, which she has organized with Jonathan Baillie (a childhood friend, and director of conservation for the Zoological Society of London), promises nothing less than “retail activism”: it’s a multi-pronged attempt to save the world’s fisheries from collapse, starting by providing only sustainably sourced fish at Selfridges.
It’s also a transformation of the store itself, with commissioned artwork both madcap and meditative, a sea-themed fashion exhibit including Lady Gaga’s silver lobster hat, well-known chefs in the food hall teaching customers how to cook unpopular seafood, frogmen marching around the aisles, and cheeky but stark messages in the store’s iconic window displays about the depletion of fish stocks.