Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chief Ominayak's Letter to Jailed Indigenous Leaders

[Editor's Note: On the Ontario Appeals Court ordered the release of the six person Chief and Council of KI First Nation, who had been held in prison since on civil contempt charges for refusing to allow the exploitation of the Nation's traditional homelands by a mining company in cahoots with the Ontario Provincial government in violation of the Canadian Law and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although these tribal leaders have been released, the letter written in their support and in support of their actions by Chief Ominayak of the Lubicon Indian Nation is both eloquent and instructive for those who are unaware of the continued theft of Indian resources and oppression of Indian leaders when they speak out and act to protect their lands, peoples and ways of life. The letter, then is and will continue to be timely. --Perry Chesnut, Editor, Native Rights News.]


April 17, 2008

Yesterday Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak wrote to the Chief and Council of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation at the prison in which they are being held. His letter is reproduced below.

On March 17, 2008, an Ontario Superior Court judge sentenced 6 Aboriginal protesters to six months of jail for peacefully defying a court order that would allow Platinex, a mining-exploration company, to drill for minerals on their traditional lands in northern Ontario, Canada. The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation fears that mining activity will jeopardize hunting and burial grounds and argues that the Ontario government awarded the mining permits without consulting and accommodating their people, a violation of aboriginal rights and Canadian law.

The individuals jailed include the Chief and four Councilors of the (KI) First Nation.

KI First Nation continues to recognize its Chief and Councilors as leaders in exile and as prisoners of conscience. It has also declared that a 2001 community declared moratorium on exploration and development will continue to be enforced in KI traditional territory, pending resolution of a treaty land entitlement claim and fulfillment of the Government of Ontario’s legal obligation to consult and accommodate.

We are encouraging Lubicon supporters to also lend their support to the KI First Nation and its leaders. More information on how you can help is included below Chief Ominayak’s letter.

* * * * * * *

April 16, 2008

Chief Donny Morris
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation

C/O Thunder Bay Correctional Centre
Highway 61 South
PO Box 1900
Thunder Bay ON
P7C 4Y4

Dear Chief Morris;

We have been following closely the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation’s efforts to protect your land from the onset of mineral exploitation, both in the courts and on the ground.

When Platinex took your Nation to Court for opposing their proposed exploratory drilling project, we asked our supporters to join in protesting this attempt to use the courts to silence your leaders and lay claim to your lands, because we saw parallels with our own peoples’ struggle to survive and the attempted use of the courts to keep us quiet while they stole everything of value from our lands.

When the Court told Platinex to meet with your Nation to determine how mineral exploration should be allowed to proceed, lawyers across the country trumpeted the decision as a victory for aboriginal rights because it demonstrated that consultation is a requirement under Canadian law. We knew, as I’m sure you did too, that this was not a real victory for our people, because we knew from our own hard experience that having the right to be consulted is not the same as having the right to say no. And we knew from our own hard experience that without the right to refuse a project that will destroy our lands and damage our communities, we will be unable to meet our responsibility to protect our lands and people.

When the company later returned to Court – aided and abetted by the provincial government and its lawyers – to argue that it should be allowed to proceed because it had already met the “duty to consult”, it was no surprise to us or to you that the Courts agreed, and instructed your people to stay out of their way.

When you and your Council stood in the way of Platinex regardless of what the Courts and the provincial government said, we took heart that there are leaders like yourselves who are willing to stand up and demonstrate that we, as aboriginal people, will not sit idly by while outside governments and companies destroy everything we value – the land, the air, the water, and our way of life.

When you were offered the chance to apologize and accept the exploitation of your lands in exchange for your freedom, we took heart that, as real leaders, you and your Council refused. And now this letter finds you in jail, where they hope to destroy your spirit and that of your community by taking you away from your people and your land, and threatening others that they will face the same fate if they don’t allow Platinex to proceed.

If there were any way to turn back the clock and stop the very first oil and gas companies from entering our lands – before the hundreds that followed made it all but impossible to reverse the environmental destruction they brought to our lands – I believe our people would gladly do so. For that reason, I’m sending this message now to encourage you and express our support for the principled stand you are taking, so that the lands of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation don’t have to suffer the same fate our lands suffered after the first resource exploitation companies opened the door for the many that followed.

We hope you keep close to your families, your people and your lands in spirit, despite being taken away to a remote jail, and that you continue the struggle from inside with the same devotion and courage you have shown so far. There may be many forces allied against us as aboriginal people, and those who want to take everything from the land have a great deal of power and influence, but there are some things they can never take away from us. One of those is our spirit, our courage, and our determination to carry out our responsibility to protect the lands the Creator gave to us.


Bernard Ominayak
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation


Deputy Chief Jack McKay

Councillor Samuel McKay

Councillor Darryl Sainnawap

Bruce Sakakeep, Lands & Environment Director

Head Councillor Cecilia Begg


More information


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Longwalker Dennis Banks Calls for Manifesto of Change

Posted by: "Eulynda Toledo-Benalli" toledobenalli

Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:18 pm (PDT)

Message from Dennis Banks 4/12/08

This is Dennis Banks. 30 years ago our first Longest Walk was in progress across Kansas. It was beginning to get hot and our walkers were getting thin and trim. Once again we take to the roads of America to cross this Continent in search of sacred sites needing to be protected and secured for the next generation - in fact for the next Seven Generations. We walk this land to listen to the people and hear their concerns about this Planet we call mother Earth. We walk to remind America that this is still Indian Land, that we are very concerned about the mistreatment and contamination of the Air, the Water and the Soil.

When the Great Spirit asked us to care for the land we accepted this task and duty. It is a committed duty with many responsibilities; within these duties are found the many Spiritual ceremonies that govern our way of life. These ceremonies are conducted daily, weekly, monthly, seasonly, and yearly. In preparation we look for Medicinal plants, herbs, and roots that accompany our ceremonies and songs. Now with this climate change we fear many of the herbs, roots and plants will be lost because of the warming of Mother Earth and of mankind's destructive policies.

In California, we have walked this land thru Rumsey Band of the Wintun Tribe, Yokuts, Santa Rosa Rancheria and the Mojave People at Fort Mohave. In Arizona, we walked through the Haulapai, Havasupai, Yavapai-Apache and Diné Territories. In New Mexico, we walked through the pueblo lands of the Ohkay Owingeh and are about to enter the Taos pueblo territory. Community after community the people welcomed us and fed us. they opened up their homes and shared many tribal stories with us. They showed us family pictures of son and daughters graduating from schools. We saw many photos of men and women in uniform. We became extended families to each other. Then they began to tell us of environmental concerns - what we heard is very troubling.

At this hour we are compiling a "Manifesto for Change." This Work will reflect our findings, suggestions, and Articles for change to members of the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. As we progress on this Document we realize that many Tribal Nations have not had an opportunity share with us their concerns.

We now wish to invite all tribal members and nations from Turtle Island to send, write, email any concerns of the environment in your area or of any outstanding congressional action which may have deprived you of ancestral lands, water or human rights. We shall include them in our Manifesto.

We will walk into Washington, D.C. united with the Northern Route, Michigan running team, many delegations from the Southwest will join us as we walk into D.C. on July 11, 2008. Please note we have less than 90 days before we reach D.C. We are planning the "Cultural Survival Summit" for July 8, 9 and 10, 2008. Should you wish to participate in this historic event, please register online at our website - you will be contacted by the Cultural Survival Summit planning committee. Cultural Survival Summit details will be posted on our website in the coming days.

-We invite Indigenous leaders from around the world to bring a delegation to join us at the Summit and walk into DC with us;
- We invite Indigenous musicians, drum groups, dancers, singers, and performers to join us;
- We invite the Youth of our Nations to join us;
- We invite the Elders of our Nations to join us;
- We invite Native organizations to join us;
- We invite Tribal delegations to join us;
- We invite brothers and sisters from all cultural backgrounds to join us.

As we walk these final 90 days, I will make every attempt to update you at least once a week from this day forward. 30 years ago we did make some changes by walking across this country - now let's make more changes. This country still owes the first nations people a great deal and we shall not abandon what is rightfully ours.

Dennis J. Banks
- from The Longest Walk in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mass Graves of Residential School Children Revealed in Canada

Friday, April 18, 2008
via Mohawk Nation News

Independent Tribunal Established

At a public ceremony and press conference held today outside the colonial "Indian Affairs" building in downtown Vancouver, the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD) released a list of twenty eight mass graves across Canada holding the remains of untold numbers of aboriginal children who died in Indian Residential Schools.

The list was distributed today to the world media and to United Nations agencies, as the first act of the newly-formed International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC), a non-governmental body established by indigenous elders.

In a statement read by FRD spokesperson Eagle Strong Voice, it was declared that the IHRTGC would commence its investigations on April 15, 2008, the fourth Annual Aboriginal Holocaust Memorial Day. This inquiry will involve international human rights observers from Guatemala and Cyprus, and will convene aboriginal courts of justice where those persons and institutions responsible for the death and suffering of residential school children will be tried and sentenced. (The complete Statement and List of Mass Graves is reproduced below).

Eagle Strong Voice and IHRTGC elders will present the Mass Graves List at the United Nations on April 19, and will ask United Nations agencies to protect and monitor the mass graves as part of a genuine inquiry and judicial prosecution of those responsible for this Canadian Genocide.

Eyewitness Sylvester Greene spoke to the media at today's event, and described how he helped bury a young Inuit boy at the United Church's Edmonton residential school in 1953."We were told never to tell anyone by Jim Ludford, the Principal, who got me and three other boys to bury him. But a lot more kids got buried all the time in that big grave next to the school."

For more information:, or write to the IHRTGC at:

Issued on Squamish Territory, 10 April, 2008, under the authority of Hereditary Chief Kiapilano ............. ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... .......

Press Statement:
Mass Graves of Residential School Children Identified – Independent Inquiry Launched

We are gathered today to publicly disclose the location of twenty eight mass graves of children who died in Indian Residential Schools across Canada, and to announce the formation of an independent, non-governmental inquiry into the death and disappearance of children in these schools. We estimate that there are hundreds, and possibly thousands, of children buried in these grave sites alone. The Catholic, Anglican and United Church, and the government of Canada, operated the schools and hospitals where these mass graves are located. We therefore hold these institutions and their officers legally responsible and liable for the deaths of these children.

We have no confidence that the very institutions of church and state that are responsible for these deaths can conduct any kind of impartial or real inquiry into them. Accordingly, as of April 15, 2008, we are establishing an independent, non governmental inquiry into the death and disappearance of Indian residential school children across Canada.

This inquiry shall be known as The International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC), and is established under the authority of the following hereditary chiefs, who shall serve as presiding judges of the Tribunal:Hereditary Chief Kiapilano of the Squamish NationChief Louis Daniels (Whispers Wind), Anishinabe Nation Chief Svnoyi Wohali (Night Eagle), Cherokee Nation Lillian Shirt, Clan Mother, Cree NationElder Ernie Sandy, Anishinabe (Ojibway) NationHereditary Chief Steve Sampson, Chemainus NationAmbassador Chief Red Jacket of Turtle Island.

Today, we are releasing to this Tribunal and to the people of the world the enclosed information on the location of mass graves connected to Indian residential schools and hospitals in order to prevent the destruction of this crucial evidence by the Canadian government, the RCMP and the Anglican, Catholic and United Church of Canada. We call upon indigenous people on the land where these graves are located to monitor and protect these sites vigilantly, and prevent their destruction by occupational forces such as the RCMP and other government agencies. Our Tribunal will commence on April 15 by gathering all of the evidence, including forensic remains, that is necessary to charge and indict those responsible for the deaths of the children buried therein. Once these persons have been identified and detained, they will be tried and sentenced in indigenous courts of justice established by our Tribunal and under the authority of hereditary chiefs.

As a first step in this process, the IHRTGC will present this list of mass graves along with a statement to the United Nations in New York City on April 19, 2008. The IHRTGC will be asking the United Nations to declare these mass graves to be protected heritage sites, and will invite international human rights observers to monitor and assist its work.

Issued by the Elders and Judges of the IHRTGC. Interim Spokesperson: Eagle Strong VoiceEmail: pager: 1-888-265-1007IHRTGC

Sponsors include The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared, The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, the Defensoria Indigenia of Guatemala, Canadians for the Separation of Church and State, and a confederation of indigenous elders across Canada and Turtle Island............. ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... .......

Mass Graves at former Indian Residential Schools and Hospitals across Canada

A. British Columbia

1. Port Alberni: Presby
terian- United Church school (1895-1973), now occupied by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council (NTC) office, Kitskuksis Road. Grave site is a series of sinkhole rows in hills 100 metres due west of the NTC building, in thick foliage, past an unused water pipeline. Children also interred at Tseshaht reserve cemetery, and in wooded gully east of Catholic cemetery on River Road.

2. Alert Bay: St. Michael’s Anglican school (1878-1975), situated on Cormorant Island offshore from Port McNeill. Presently building is used by Namgis First Nation. Site is an overgrown field adjacent to the building, and also under the foundations of the present new building, constructed during the 1960’s. Skeletons seen “between the walls”.

3. Kuper Island: Catholic school (1890-1975), offshore from Chemainus. Land occupied by Penelakut Band. Former building is destroyed except for a staircase. Two grave sites: one immediately south of the former building, in a field containing a conventional cemetery; another at the west shoreline in a lagoon near the main dock.

4. Nanaimo Indian Hospital: Indian Affairs and United Church experimental facility (1942-1970) on Department of National Defense land. Buildings now destroyed. Grave sites are immediately east of former buildings on Fifth avenue, adjacent to and south of Malaspina College.

5. Mission: St. Mary’s Catholic school (1861-1984), adjacent to and north of Lougheed Highway and Fraser River Heritage Park. Original school buildings are destroyed, but many foundations are visible on the grounds of the Park. In this area there are two grave sites: a) immediately adjacent to former girls’ dormitory and present cemetery for priests, and a larger mass grave in an artificial earthen mound, north of the cemetery among overgrown foliage and blackberry bushes, and b) east of the old school grounds, on the hilly slopes next to the field leading to the newer school building which is presently used by the Sto:lo First Nation. Hill site is 150 metres west of building.

6. North Vancouver: Squamish (1898-1959) and Sechelt (1912-1975) Catholic schools, buildings destroyed. Graves of children who died in these schools interred in the Squamish Band Cemetery, North Vancouver.

7. Sardis: Coqualeetza Methodist-United Church school (1889-1940), then experimental hospital run by federal government (1940-1969). Native burial site next to Sto:lo reserve and Little Mountain school, also possibly adjacent to former school-hospital building.

8. Cranbrook: St. Eugene Catholic school (1898-1970), recently converted into a tourist “resort” with federal funding, resulting in the covering-over of a mass burial site by a golf course in front of the building. Numerous grave sites are around and under this golf course.

9. Williams Lake: Catholic school (1890-1981), buildings destroyed but foundations intact, five miles south of city. Grave sites reported north of school grounds and under foundations of tunnel-like structure.

10. Meares Island (Tofino): Kakawis-Christie Catholic school (1898-1974). Buildings incorporated into Kakawis Healing Centre. Body storage room reported in basement, adjacent to burial grounds south of school.

11. Kamloops: Catholic school (1890-1978). Buildings intact. Mass grave south of school, adjacent to and amidst orchard. Numerous burials witnessed there.

12. Lytton: St. George’s Anglican school (1901-1979). Graves of students flogged to death, and others, reported under floorboards and next to playground.

13. Fraser Lake: Lejac Catholic school (1910-1976), buildings destroyed. Graves reported under old foundations and between the walls.

1. Edmonton: United Church school (1919-1960), presently site of the Poundmaker Lodge in St. Albert. Graves of children reported south of former school site, under thick hedge that runs north-south, adjacent to memorial marker.

2. Edmonton: Charles Camsell Hospital (1945-1967), building intact, experimental hospital run by Indian Affairs and United Church. Mass graves of children from hospital reported south of building, near staff garden.

3. Saddle Lake: Bluequills Catholic school (1898-1970), building intact, skeletons and skulls observed in basement furnace. Mass grave reported adjacent to school.4. Hobbema: Ermineskin Catholic school (1916-1973), five intact skeletons observed in school furnace. Graves under former building foundations.

1. Brandon: Methodist-United Church school (1895-1972). Building intact. Burials reported west of school building.
2. Portage La Prairie: Presbyterian- United Church school (1895-1950). Children buried at nearby Hillside Cemetery.
3. Norway House: Methodist-United Church school (1900-1974). “Very old” grave site next to former school building, demolished by United Church in 2004.

Thunder Bay: Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital, still in operation. Experimental centre. Women and children reported buried adjacent to hospital grounds.

2. Sioux Lookout: Pelican Lake Catholic school (1911-1973). Burials of children in mound near to school.

3. Kenora: Cecilia Jeffrey school, Presbyterian- United Church (1900-1966). Large burial mound east of former school.

4. Fort Albany: St. Anne’s Catholic school (1936-1964). Children killed in electric chair buried next to school.

5. Spanish: Catholic school (1883-1965). Numerous graves.

6. Brantford: Mohawk Institute, Anglican church (1850-1969), building intact. Series of graves in orchard behind school building, under rows of trees.

7. Sault Ste. Marie: Shingwauk Anglican school (1873-1969), some intact buildings. Several graves of children reported on grounds of old school.

1. Montreal: Allan Memorial Institute, McGill University, still in operation since opening in 1940. MKULTRA experimental centre. Mass grave of children killed there north of building, on southern slopes of Mount Royal behind stone wall.

Sources:- Eyewitness accounts from survivors of these institutions, catalogued in Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust (2nd ed., 2005) by Kevin Annett. Other accounts are from local residents. See - Documents and other material from the Department of Indian Affairs RG 10 microfilm series on Indian Residential Schools in Koerner Library, University of B.C.- Survey data and physical evidence obtained from grave sites in Port Alberni, Mission, and other locations. This is a partial list and does not include all of the grave sites connected to Indian residential Schools and hospitals across Canada. In many cases, children who were dying of diseases were sent home to die by school and church officials, and the remains of other children who died at the school were incinerated in the residential school furnaces.

This information is submitted by The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD) to the world media, the United Nations, and to the International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC). The IHRTGC will commence its investigations on April 15, 2008 on Squamish Nation territory.

For more information on the independent inquiry into genocide in Canada being conducted by the IHRTGC, write to: genocidetribunal@

10 April, 2008 Squamish Nation Territory (“ Vancouver, Canada ”)

Posted by Mohawk Nation News
poster: katenies
PR Photos hid the truth of genocide in residential schools:
Photo 1: Mi'kmaq girls in sewing class at the Roman Catholic-run Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, 1929: Library and Archives Canada Photo 2: A group of nuns with Aboriginal students - ca. 1890: H.J. Woodside/Library and Archives Canada

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Canadian Parliament Calls for Adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

News Release

April 9, 2008

Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups welcome yesterday’s decision by the Canadian Parliament to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007 in a historic vote by an overwhelming majority of member states. Canada was one of only four states to oppose the Declaration. The government of Stephen Harper has since claimed that the Declaration is not applicable in Canada. This claim has no legal basis and is unprecedented in Canada’s foreign and domestic policy.

On Tuesday, April 8, the House of Commons passed a resolution to endorse the Declaration as adopted by the UN and calling on Parliament and the Government of Canada to “fully implement the standards contained therein.”

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a road map for the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world,” says Mary Simon, President Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. “Aboriginal peoples in Canada welcome the commitment of the majority of Parliamentarians to work with us to implement urgently needed human rights standards.”

The UN Declaration affirms minimum human rights standards necessary for the “survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.” These include the right of self-determination, protections from discrimination and genocide, and recognition of rights to lands, territories and resources that are essential to the identity, health and livelihood of Indigenous peoples. The Declaration also explicitly requires that all provisions are to be balanced with other rights protections and interpreted in accordance with principles of justice, democracy, non-discrimination, good governance and respect for the human rights of all.

“The rights affirmed in the Declaration are vital to our lives as Indigenous peoples and to the generations still to come,” says Beverley Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “We deeply appreciate the fact that the majority of Members of Parliament were prepared to do the right thing and endorse the Declaration.”

During the House of Commons debate over the resolution, Conservative government spokespersons claimed that the Declaration would undo centuries of Canadian treaties with Indigenous peoples.

“This government’s latest arguments against the Declaration show just how ridiculous their position has become,” says Chief Wilton Littlechild, international chief for Treaty Six. “The UN Declaration explicitly states that treaties and other agreements with Indigenous peoples are to be honoured and respected. I worked with Canadian diplomats to draft the treaty provisions in the Declaration. We just want the Canadian government to live up to that promise.”

Human rights Declarations become universally applicable upon their adoption by the UN General Assembly, regardless of how individual states vote. Indigenous peoples and human rights organizations hope that today’s vote will have a positive impact on Canada’s domestic and foreign policy.

“Canada’s reputation as a human rights advocate continues to suffer as a result of its ongoing opposition to the Declaration. Despite the government’s opposition, this vote in the House of Commons is an important step in the implementation of the Declaration”, says Grand Chief Edward John, Political Executive Member of the First Nations Summit.

“The Canadian government’s unreasonable opposition to the UN Declaration has undermined Canada’s influence on the international stage,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada. “Now that Parliament’s official position is to support and implement the Declaration, we hope that the government will take advantage of this opportunity to restore Canada’s reputation for principled support of international human rights standards.”

In a message to Canadian Parliamentarians delivered on the eve of the vote, noted Indigenous rights advocate and Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, said:

… implementation of the Declaration will hasten genuine reconciliation efforts between governments and indigenous peoples. It sets the basic framework and guidelines for these key actors to develop joint plans and strategies on how to redress the historical and present injustices suffered by indigenous peoples. It provides a good impetus for governments to plan jointly with indigenous peoples on how peace, security, human rights and sustainable development can be achieved in indigenous peoples' territories.

… An endorsement of the adoption of the Declaration will not only favor the indigenous peoples of Canada but also the indigenous peoples in countries where Canadian aid is provided.


Assembly of First Nations
Amnesty International Canada
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
First Nations Summit
International Organization of Indigenous Resource Development (IOIRD)
Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada)
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Native Women’s Association of Canada


Craig Benjamin
Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Amnesty International Canada
312 Laurier Ave. East,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 1H9
1.613.744.7667 (ext. 235) | 1 800 AMNESTY

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