Sunday, January 13, 2013

"This is the winter of our discontent..." In Canada and At The Vermilon River.

 I wanted to stop and do a little serious writing here; hence, the title, which refers not to Boomer and I, but to the country, and in specific our Aboriginals. That means our native population. You've probably read about fasting, the "Idle No More" movement, and the the NFA meeting in Ottawa. Since this is serious I've reduced both the number of photos and the format to free up space. If you don't want to read the copy, click the photos and look at the slide show.
First, the Reserves. Some are in better shape than others. On some Treaty money has been used fairly well, but on the majority here in our north, that I've visited at least, conditions are terrible, and in some cases corrupt. The plight of youth is hopeless, and their spiral is down, softened with alcohol, drugs, prostitution ( in the cities when they move),and hardened with a complete lack of education, even of their own history and language. Contrary to your opinion likely, their culture is sophisticated, and well adapted to their environmental.An author that I once read compared the Iroquois Confederacy in sophistication to the Roman Empire only longer lasting. Some Aboriginals are covered by treaty and others are not. The Canadian Government has done everything from make war on them (see the battle of Batoche, and the hanging of Riel) to enroll them in residential schools, a policy only a little more humane that the concentration camps of Hitler, but designed to integrate them instantly. Effectively the children were taken from their families placed in schools off the reservation run by churches of all denominations. One day they were Indians and the next day they were in school uniforms with short hair and forbidden to speak their own language,and practice their own religion. There is currently an Inquiry into these schools, as well as to asses the damage to the children. This Inquiry is currently suing our Federal Government( read Harper) to get access to more records.I think you get the point.

Native governments are elected on the Reserves which sometimes leads to corruption, but even on the best Reserves at least in the North leaves the local chiefs and tribal council dealing with all aspects of government from accounting to budgeting and implementation of all social services. This is a formidable task, particularly when you're not acquainted with the different tasks in an isolated environment, and your education background and experience is limited.

The individual councils elect central councils and chiefs and they in turn elect the  council and chiefs of the NFA- the National Chiefs that deal with the Indian Department, bureaucrats and elected officials. Metis,half Aboriginal and half white, have never qualified under the Indian Act. But the Supreme Court recently ruled that they are entitled to all benefits under the Indian Act. This change, a change in numbers, along with the discovery of resources in the north has super charged the situation with the bands wanting to share in theses discoveries. By in large the aboriginal approach to the earth is one of  reverence, not exploitation, so they're natural conservationists, especially the young. This is not the case of resource companies who are all prepared to desecrate the earth.

Some of the young through insurmountably odds are educated. Lawyers,
professors, writers etc., and they are the leaders of the" Idle No More" Movement which is a young group, and in some cases a have-not group of Aboriginals. Thus it has numbers. This group has centered their opposition to Bill C 45 the omnibus bill of  of Harper that is a budget bill ,but removes environmental protection from most of the Lakes and rivers of Canada.It is Idle No More's contention that the removal of protection violates all the existing treaties.This group is also attracting people like me who want the Aboriginal  abuses corrected, but also want the environmental protection in place. As well, it is also receiving more support from the old chiefs who failed to attend the meeting with Harper because of an awareness of his shifty ways. Idle No More is promising more protests. The NFA Chief Shaun Atleo who got nothing from Harper in the meeting is losing support as he should.
 The third element is the hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence designed to force a meeting with Harper and Governor General David Spence, a Harper appointee by the way. The Governor-General's position although lacking in legislative power is respected by some Aboriginals because of its theoretical relation to the Queen and the treaties.Attawapiskat is in terrible shape, much worse than any refugee camp in any war torn country elsewhere. Harper trained in US politics to attack ads and smears, attacked here with an independent KPMG audit that found its way somehow to the media. The audit noted missing paperwork and receipts, not unanticipated for an uneducated band that provides all the governance of any sophisticated authority. The Chief is still on her fast, (since Dec 11), even though a  meeting took place as the GG did not attend and Harper would only meet in Ottawa surrounded by his toadies.Chief Spence should not be viewed as part of the Idle No More movement despite the attention that she has focused on it.

Stephen Harper currently has a majority government in Parliament. Previously he was in a minority position and was thus kept in line by the opposition parties. The omnibus bill masquerading as a budget bill contains amendments to the Navigable Waters Act, reducing the number from some 3 million to about 100 with environmental protection. Thus making it easier to build pipelines, dams or whatever.There are also changes to the Fisheries Act removing protection from streams, lakes, and rivers. It also contains changes to the Indian Act concerning land leasing of reserve land which reduces the numbers required to agree,and allows the Government to convene the meeting. All this done with no consultation with Aboriginals.

No view of Harper's Government can be understood without a review  of his policies so far. His approved pipe line expansions have all been defeated by combined efforts of environmentalism, right thinking Provinces and Aboriginal bands.There is no supervision of pipelines nationally in terms of construction or maintenance. Pipeline companies, mining companies,and oil companies are about as trustworthy as tobacco companies were in their heyday.
The much vaunted balancing of our budget will not occur as promised, a pipe dream if ever there was one; in fact, more like an outright lie. Cutting civil service numbers resulted in the worst out break of contamination in the beef industry in Alberta, and a foreign take over of the largest meat plant in Alberta. The acquisition, or non-acquisition of the new fighter jets is three times as high as initially estimated, and he hid the real figures up to the end. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, a type of ombudsman, who reports to Parliament only,has the Governmental in court in an effort to get information that is being hidden by Harper. Conservative (Harper's party)budget irregularities  in ridings are currently under review by the Federal Electoral Officer. A citizen's group has the Conservative party in Court over the robo call scandal. Calls were placed by call centers advising electors of false information, and polls which prevented them from voting. Our foreign policy is laughable. On hearing of the the first revolution in Egypt Harper made his tooth paste comment effectively saying now you guys have done it. On the vote in the UN recognizing Palestine as a quasi state he withdrew our representation.Then was left with more egg on his face when Israel expanded the settlement areas. He could have just abstained. I'm sure we've lost any credibility there. In trade, he negotiated a treaty with China which is an abomination, which remains unsigned. He refused Australia's bid to take over the Potash Corporation, but Ok'd China's, take over of a tar sands oil company. The Chinese company is of course a state owned company and we have no policy on state owned companies,which we need. In a recent bid to find another trading partner he signed an agreement to supply India with uranium, and I think nuclear technology, without an oversight clause. The last time we did that India developed a bomb. This list could go on, but it's depressing how stupid he is. At the NFA meeting he agreed to allow more oversight from his office and The Privy Council. Idle No More, of course, promised more action and more elected chiefs are supporting the group.

Canadians in general are a wonderful group. We don't insist on a melting pot. You can be a hyphenated Canadian, i.e a Mexican-Canadian. In fact, French Canadians consider themselves a nation with Quebec as their ancestral home, and Quebec as the state that protects their culture. We don't have you swearing to uphold the constitution at all (except at the receipt of citizenship), never mind every morning.Our culture is a quilt work of backgrounds, and ethnicity and we're better for it.( Now I'm not naive enough to believe there is no racism here because there is.) The basic idea is we're just not extremists. But to right a wrong we'll fight. The latest example is a breakaway Mormon group that entered BC, and practiced polygamy, with 70 year old leaders marrying teenage women.We guarantee Freedom of Religion in our constitution, so the case was quite thorny. Yet the BC Attorney General prosecuted, arguing that the personal freedoms of the young girls had been violated. The BC Supreme Court agreed and the leaders are serving time. The Province is of course rehabilitating the women and the young men who were expelled by the old men as competition ,and ended up on the street in Vancouver. Similarly the Province of Quebec has initiated an Inquiry into urban corruption and five(?) mayors have resigned and likely will be prosecuted.The Inquiry will soon  move into Provincial politics. The mayor of Toronto was removed from office because he voted when he had a conflict of interest. He currently has a stay pending appeal. A BC Provincial Government leader was recalled and a change of Government ensued.

 So how did we get ourselves in this Harper fix where everything is a fight to stop his policies. Well, a previous Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau who repatriated our Constitution initiated a couple of changes. The first provides money from the Government to parties on a proportional basis for election expenses .This limits outside contributions to the parties from lobby groups. Thus stopping the US situation where lobbyists hang around the capital with wagon loads of cash to get their policies in place. The negative is that it makes the party leader king. If you're not in his favour no money. This means leaving the party and becoming an independent, and maybe a candidate as an alternate leader is impossible.. So we need a constitutional change to allow sitting members bolting a party to take their allocation of funds with them. While we're at constitutional changes, we need to institute recall for the Federal arena by constituency, and by office. Thus you could recall the PM as PM, or as a sitting member. If he can't re-win his seat he's gone.

 On the Aboriginal claims which are Federal matters, everybody who wants justice for them is going to have to climb on the bandwagon and support them irrevocably over the next four years. By everyone I mean the environmental groups also. Protection for the environment is still possible at the Provincial level. The fight will have to increase at that level.


A post to I'd Rather be Birdin,Our World Tuesday and WBW.

For further information on Idle No More, Google the same and you will get their site as well as other CBC stories about them. On their web site, please support them. 

Winter nest.


Seed pods.

Far Bank

River in  the sun

Sunny Day

Mourning Dove

Raven in Flight

River islands

Sunny trail

Reflection on the river.

Trail beginning.


Open River 


  1. i had read about chief spence's hunger strike on another blog recently. very sad. as for governmental corruption, greed of corporations, lack of control for pipelines and the like, it all sounds too familiar.

  2. Sounds just like what went on with the American Indians. Why don't people learn. Such a sad situation.

  3. A sad tale that rings true with our American Indians also. In this day and age how can governments continue to treat people this way.

  4. A really interesting and thought provoking post Gary. Some similarities with Australia and it's indigenous community. I will try and follow this story.

  5. Lovely post, as always!
    Have a nice start of the week!

  6. Thanks for the interesting history lesson! Love the pic of the nest with snow in it!

  7. Hi Gary

    An interesting post. I have also expressed some concerns on my blog yesterday about resource exploitation in the north the environment and an equitable sharing of any profits. It is interesting so much is being made of the waste of public money on reserves but not in Ottawa. Sigh.

    All the best to you and Boomer.

  8. Terrific photos Gary. I love the bird nest.

    I think the situation here with our Aboriginal population is disgusting. I don't like what Harper is doing to Canada.

  9. A profound and poignant commentary Gary!!!

    And, your winter photos are stunning. Thanks for linking up at the Bird D'Pot this weekend.

  10. Very nice commentary. I'm with you on a lot of this stuff. I don't know what the answer is....but what now gone or altered.

    But nature wise, your photos are beautiful. I'm not sure how I'd do in the super cold weather.....but I do like looking at it:)

  11. Woo! What a post! A powerful vent seeking to make sense of chaos! I was going to comment that I see similarities with our Aboriginal people in Australia, but Mark has said that! So I'll just support his comment! And photos of snowy landscapes in birds in your world become a wonderful relief from the mayhem!

  12. Your photos are superb as always, Gary! I think many of us are feeling disturbed and disgusted with the many of the things that are happening in all of our countries these days and it is discouraging. One can't help but wonder when does it end?? And what will be the end results???

  13. Magnificent captures Garry and I just love that little winter nest all tucked in with a padding of snow. Beautiful post.

  14. So beautiful Garry!
    I have enjoyed it very much...
    Have a nice week and warm greetings Anna

  15. You live in a beautiful part of your country - your photos are great - but it is so sad to hear about the corruption and damage to people and country. When will humanity learn that such things have consequences to all - eventually!

  16. Amazing photography ~ as always!

    your post is most informative and my heart goes out to the he Aborigines and in 2013 I am appalled that such treatment is going on ~ Our Native Americans struggle still with many issues ~ I will google Idle No More and am sending your country and all peoples their healing reiki energy to 'see the light' and realize we are all connected and need to treat each individual with love and respect ~

    A Creative Harbor

  17. I believe most governments are corrupt and greedy, somehow or someway. It is a shame how the people and the environment are being treated. On the bright side, I have to mention I do love all your photos, especially the birds.

  18. Excellent article about very important issues. You did a good job explaining what's going on and some of the reasons why. It's easy to get frustrated and I admire the way you've tried to lay it all out so succinctly and clearly.

    As always I love your photography.

  19. Great post! The crow in flight is a great capture!

  20. I was glad to get your take and information on Idle No More, and all of the above. As your northern Minnesota neighbor, I first learned of Idle No More in our local grocery store a week or two ago, where a group of local Native Americans gathered, sang, drummed, and protested next to the produce section.
    I was curious, and led to learn about their cause. I gathered a vague idea, but your post has helped me to understand much better.

    When we travel to our family cabin in northern Ontario, we pass through two reservation communities of the Mishkeegogomang. I can attest, that conditions are poor.
    We also travel through an open mined area that - as you said - has been desecrated. Living on the border as we do, the feeling on this side is that Canada has very poor environmental protection, for example - with emissions of paper mills & pulp plants / chip board factories in comparison to over on our side. I don't know factual evidence of this.. but I do know we all live down stream from someone, and as Wendell Berry so well said, "Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do."

    Really enjoy the winter nest photo, and all of them.
    Thank you for posting this.

  21. beautiful as always and i enjoy your commentary.

  22. Great set of pictures and the article. I like that snow.

  23. A very informative post. Unbelievable these situations still exist in this day and age.

  24. A lovely winter series. For some reason that snow filled nest really makes me smile!

  25. I really hope the aboriginals get justice!

    Lovely shots too.

  26. Beautiful pictures and interesting post !

  27. You covered a lot of ground with that post, Gary! I DO hope the Idle No More protest does not die away before it makes serious headway with our federal government.

    I listened to most of Rex Murphy's Sunday afternoon call-in program and was amazed at how much misinformation of what the First Nations want is out there. Not that bigots would listen anyway, as many of them have long ago formed their opinions.

    I totally agree with you that our Aboriginals - for the most part - are good stewards of natural if it's on their land they ought to control it, not some mega-company.

  28. A thought-provoking read- many thanks. Mr Harper seems bad news all round.

  29. I have to concur with everyone...the birds nest is precious!Kuddos to your hard work with this post.

  30. Fantastic shots!

    Your discontent is well justified. Hopefully your world and mine will someday have justice for all.

  31. Keep up the good fight! If I didn't read blogs I'd get no news of Canada at all...frightening how little we hear of what's going on next door. I knew nothing of all these current problems. Of course we share much of the earlier sad history with the American Indians...the horrible forced marches, the "Indian Schools"..misguided missionaries...

    I really enjoyed reading this post and will be back to re-read and look at the pictures later. (It did take a little more time than usual ;>)...but I am grateful to you for sharing your thoughts.

  32. Thanks for showing what your world is going on in terms of aboriginals. I only know reservation community in the US when my wife and I drove. It was very interesting experience to me. I hope the situation will be improved in your area.
    Have a wonderful week.

  33. Great and interesting post. I like it.
    I also invite you to my blog. ;)
    Yours. Have a nice day.
    You can also find me on the fanpage and keep track of my work: ;]

  34. A thought-provoking post. I'm going to have to Google Idle No More!

  35. Yeah feel the discontent with all the crap being done up here. Friggin Harper. Agreed, quite the display of people too, and great shots from you.

  36. I enjoyed your pictures, as I always do!
    The text is too long for me, not having english as my regular languge.
    Greetings Pia

  37. Interesting post Gary and it is nice to see that sometime locals can change things. I love your winter nest.

  38. Interesting, Gary, I am taking it all in without opinion - since I know nothing of the Aboriginals (since I'm Dutch)! Lovely snow pics, especially the winter nest! Have a great week!

  39. Great pictures and an interesting story.


  40. Thank you for the information on Idle No More (INM) and the plight of the native peoples of Canada. Unfortunately, the story is probably familiar to most Americans as the government of the Untied States did the same thing to our native people.

    As you probably know, my main concern is destruction to our planet which effects all people. The Republican run House of Representatives in the U.S. is trying to strip environmental protections from our country as well and only opposition from environmental organizations are keeping them in check. I applaud the work of INM and I hope that they can make a difference in protecting the beautiful bounty that Canada enjoys for future generations.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful bounty with us over the years.

  41. I hope that nest is an empty one.

  42. Difficult situation, corruption is everywhere! Awesome photos!

  43. Wow!Everything looks frozen in time.

  44. Hi there - the way that Governments deal with the First People is a marker of how civilised they are - Australia does not stand up very well in this regard.

    Thanks for the link to WBW.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

    PS: sorry for slow reply - I been out of internet range in Tasmania!

  45. I love the title, as it's so appropriate for the season, and your photos of the birds are always fantastic.

    It's all politics in so many subjects in our lives, including sports...and it's all winding down to the dollar signs :-(

  46. .•°♡♡⊱彡
    Super imagens a pesar do inverno.
    Beijinhos do Brasil.!
    º° ✿ ✿彡