Monthly Archives: June 2007

More news from National Day of Action

National day of Action Website

article from the Globe and Mail, 06/ 29/07


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Flickr photos of National Day of Action

a search on Flickr has returned a huge amount of photos documenting the National Day of Action in Vancouver and Ottawa. wondering if anybody has any on Toronto??



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June 29, 2007: AFN Day of Action

On May 31, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) called for a national day of
action on June 29, to force changes in key features of federal aboriginal
policy. On June 12, the Harper Conservative government responded with an
important reform of “specific claims” settlement policy. Now as the day of
action approaches, the AFN’s limited and reformist direction for the day’s
protest plans remains uncertain. So does the Harper government’s ability to
appear responsive on this file without either a costly resort to repressive
force against protesters, or a costly investment in the kind of
self-government structures that would further alienate its neo-conservative

On his May announcement, AFN Chief Phil Fontaine made three core demands of
the government:
* rapid movement toward self-government agreements on the basis of an AFN
* restoration and expansion of federal funding to First Nations’
organizations, removing 2% annual funding caps, implementing the $5 billion
Kelowna Accord, and building population growth and inflation into future
funding formulas; and
* accelerated resolution of over 800 outstanding specific claims.

The government response included $250 million for each of the next ten
years, to settle the specific claims backlog, and a three-point reform of
the settlement process. The Indian Specific Claims Commission will become a
dispute resolution body; smaller claims will be targeted for accelerated
settlement; and a panel of “impartial” judges will be appointed to make
binding decisions in cases where negotiations fail. Specific claims arise
from alleged government violations of existing treaty obligations and other
federal responsibilities: new comprehensive agreements or treaties are
handled separately.

The government’s move had been foreshadowed in mid-May, and builds directly
on the December 12 Senate report on specific claims, Negotiation or
Confrontation: It’s Canada’s Choice. Like the government’s recent
environmental announcements, the reform is substantial. Like those
announcements, it has been highly publicized as a break with Liberal
practice, but also breaks with widespread perceptions of recent
Conservative philosophy. But like the recent environmental reforms, the
change also carefully targets the least controversial matters in dispute,
leaving questions like the Kelowna Accord and comprehensive claims to one

The impartiality of the new appeals process will have to be judged in the
light of the actual judicial appointments. But after a period of isolation
as a perceived ally of the former Liberal government, Chief Fontaine can
already present a partial gain to the AFN’s member chiefs and first
nations. For its part, the government has partly deflected attention from
its break with the Kelowna Accord; and it has also begun to blunt the
indignation of moderates in the run-up to the day of action. If sentiments
continue to rise in the run-up to June 29, the government has other points
on the AFN’s list that it could address in full or in part. And in the
longer-term, a steady stream of positive, but modestly priced announcements
can now follow, particularly in places like rural BC where specific claims
— and Conservative votes — are clustered.

*The Situation in British Columbia*

The implications of these announcements vary strongly by province. Of
these, BC stands out, with the vast majority of its rich public lands
untreatied. Half the outstanding specific claims affected by the June 12
announcements also originate there. Problems in BC may therefore play
straight into events at the end of June.

This possibility may seem surprising. BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s sharp
change of course has been one of the most important recent developments in
Canadian aboriginal affairs. After championing an anti-treaty referendum
campaign in his first term, Campbell has championed the Kelowna Accord and
signed a “New Relationship” agreement with First Nations leaders in his

This about-face has won the premier unprecedented support from many BC
chiefs, undermining the BC NDP’s reputation as a First-Nations ally and
complicating the Liberals’ otherwise natural alliance with federal
Conservatives. BC business needs the certainty of land and self-government
agreements to extract rural resources profitably, and it also needs a
positive world image leading up to the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler winter
Olympics. BC Liberals also find aboriginal agreements more palatable, as
business-led development models become more important elements in both
interim and long-term agreements.

However, the pace for most BC treaty talks is still glacial, and some of
the most advanced talks are in trouble. In the Prince George area, the
250-member Lheidli T’enneh was the first BC First Nation to initial an
agreement under the treaty commission. But they narrowly rejected that
agreement at the end of March. Chief David Luggi of the neighbouring
Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) now leads an emergent group called the
Indigenous Rights Alliance, which opposes the BC treaty process. On May 14,
the Alliance called on First Nations to reject the BC treaty process on
June 21, which is National Aboriginal Day, just a week before the AFN Day
of Action. It is not yet clear how much support this position enjoys,
whether generally or within the eight-nation CSTC. Those most dissatisfied
with the treaty commission process are now turning their attention to the
Tsawwassen First Nation, whose traditional lands surround Vancouver’s major
ferry terminal. They vote on their agreement July 25.

*Protest Beyond the AFN*

In responding to the AFN call, some indigenous leaders and opinion makers
have therefore announced protest plans that differ from what the AFN
contemplates or condones. This trend is evident far beyond BC.

South of Winnipeg, Roseau River Chief Terrance Nelson, long known for
militant protest, has called for indigenous people to block rail-lines and
highways for a week. Chief Nelson’s own community is located along a major
north-south land transportation corridor.

On the same day as the Conservative aboriginal policy announcements, Cree
artist Floyd Favel rejected the AFN’s call to action in a Globe and Mail
op-ed piece. While highly critical of the government, he was equally
critical of what he described as a dysfunctional AFN and an often-corrupt
and self-serving leadership supporting it in reserve communities.

In an interview for this article, Mohawk academic and political philosopher
Taiaiake Alfred has echoed Favel’s criticisms, viewing a more direct and
sustained confrontation than the AFN’s day of action as necessary to serve
indigenous people well. Indeed, Alfred argues that the end of the AFN
itself is a necessary step towards real progress for First Nations, and the
current treaty process has become a tool of assimilation. The best that
could be hoped, in Alfred’s view, is that more sustained confrontations
could redirect energies that now fuel the everyday violence within
indigenous communities, and simultaneously destabilize what he considers to
be essentially colonial institutions both on and off reserve.

Rather than a comprehensive, revolutionary movement that would cut across
the country, Alfred looks to a more diffuse decolonization process. As
autonomous pockets of indigenous freedom and regeneration arise from this
process of resistance, the wider forces of capitalism and colonialism would
not be overthrown, but would be compelled to engage in an increasingly
transformative process of adjustment.

The real question in the current context is whether indigenous withdrawals
from the treaty process would feed into growing confrontations and a better
outcome for first nations; or feed into deeper indigenous marginalization,
a more sterile policy impasse, or a return to sharper repression.

*Possible Federal Responses*

Despite the federal government’s recent initiatives, undermining the AFN
and the treaty process may not particularly trouble leading elements within
it, albeit for different reasons than the AFN’s indigenous critics. Tom
Flanagan, senior advisor and associate of Prime Minister Harper, has long
criticized modern treaties and First Nation self-government. How would the
present government respond to any substantial broadening of militant
indigenous protest this summer?

The recent report of the Linden inquiry in Ontario serves as a reminder of
the possible stakes. The inquiry concerns the 1995 death of Dudley George
during the indigenous repossession of Ipperwash Provincial Park. Linden
explicitly exculpated senior provincial Progressive Conservatives,
including then-Premier Mike Harris, of directly ordering the police attack
on indigenous protesters that led to George’s death. But it also concluded
that key Ontario conservatives, including the premier, had acted rashly in
demanding a quick end to the indigenous action, and that several of them,
including Harris, had made racist remarks to drive this point home to
police. Linden also faulted the slow federal specific claims process for
leaving Ipperwash protesters no plausible alternatives to their own

But arguing from past experience and associations has not proven especially
helpful in predicting the Harper government’s recent moves. Personal links
between the Harris cabinet and the present federal cabinet are ultimately
less important than the new security context in which protests will take
place this summer. In this regard, the Globe and Mail reported on March 31
that the Canadian military had been preparing a confidential manual on
counter-insurgency techniques. The manual included specific references to
the Mohawk Warrior Society and other militant indigenous organizations as
examples of domestic targets. After protests from aboriginal and opposition
leaders, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor denied that indigenous
organizations would actually be targeted, or included in the manual’s final

But it is important to note that drafting of this manual had begun under
the previous Liberal government. And it is quite unclear that any blunt
response would serve the current federal Conservatives and their allies
very well. The government’s ultimate tools of repression are otherwise
preoccupied, much of them half an empire away. Furthermore, the
government’s most desperate political need right now is to avoid fulfilling
the left-liberal expectations of them that are widespread in the various
opposition parties and their constituencies.

If such rational calculations prevail in the Conservative leadership, if
moderate aboriginal protest is muted, and if more militant protest exceeds
the costs that the government deems acceptable, one might anticipate heavy
but localized police actions to break up any “extremist” actions.
Federally, the logical strategy would then be to divide, mute, and sit
through subsequent criticism from both indigenous and non-indigenous
sources. This “outsourcing” of any overt repression to local police could
be accompanied by an economical “public-private partnership” in applying
fines as a deterrent. CN Rail has responded to the actions at Deseronto by
filing injunctions and suits against the protestors. Notably, Ontario
Progressive Conservative leader John Tory has supported extending this
slap-suit approach, ostensibly to reduce the costs of future protests to
“third parties.”

Some of the Federal strategy is already beginning to appear. Indian Affairs
Minister Jim Prentice has been conducting a cross-country campaign to
deflect wide-spread direct action campaigns during the June 29 Day of
Action. In particular, a long-outstanding specific claim has apparently
been settled, expanding the Roseau River First Nation reserve territory on
the eve of June 21, National Aboriginal Day (although important questions
have already been raised about the future uses of the land parcel). Chief
Terrance Nelson has publicly acknowledged this settlement. While he has
emphasized that problems with Ottawa remain, he has called off his threat
to block major rail lines. This use of recent specific-claims reforms as
an immediate tool to neutralize protest this month reflects the wider
tendency of the present government to drive policy change primarily in
response to immediate political embarrassment.

*Emancipation, Aboriginal Nationalism and the Canadian State*

As conservatives wrestle with their private demons — now necessarily at
public expense — more progressive activists and thinkers face important
challenges of their own. For across the political spectrum, there are
critics of the current AFN, of the treaty and self-government project, as
well as of the various expressions of more radical indigenous nationalism.
It is easy to concede that political corruption and class exploitation are
dangers in all polities, dangers that citizens can and should resist in
their own leaders. But a thornier problem for progressive praxis is the
widespread perception that indigenous nationalism also constitutes, whether
in whole or in part, an unacceptable and inherent affront to enlightenment
values such as individual equality, universalism, and wider solidarities.

All Canadian governments also face pressures to limit the emancipatory
demands of First Nations. This, more surely, is a consequence of the
interlocking imperatives of capitalism, internal colonialism, and racism.
In assigning blame for this, it is easy to finger the business interests
concerned with “uncertainty”, the supposedly “unenlightened” rural and
resource-based constituencies most immediately affected, and those who
associate most indigenous protest with a crisis in law and order.

It is much harder to acknowledge, let alone resist, the greater or lesser
structural implication of all non-indigenous persons in the benefits of
Canadian colonialism. The path to this dual emancipation may be uncertain.
But it surely begins when non-indigenous Canadians refuse the four-fold
tools of repression, wardship, neglect, and delay, four riders of an
indigenous apocalypse that their state has unleashed in their name.

James Lawson teaches political economy at the University of Victoria.

1. National Day of Action for Aboriginal Peoples:

Friday June 29th 2007, @ 12 PM
31 Kings College Circle
March to Queens Park
Speakers, Performances, Food

On May 23, 2007 the Assembly of First Nations called on First Nations,
Canadian citizens and corporations, to stand united and demand that the
Government of Canada respond to the crisis in First Nations communities.

Since Confederation in 1867, First Nations have been subject to repeated
attempts by the Government of Canada to forcibly assimilate their
communities and erase their identities.

In a call for action, First Nations have put forward a reasonable plan that
provides for reconciliation and begins to close the gaps between First
Nations and Canadians. Working in collaboration, this plan will contribute
to a more productive, prosperous and harmonious Canada.

First Nations are calling for immediate action to improve their quality of
life. This Day of Action is an opportunity for all Canadians to stand
together in support of a better life for First Nations Citizens in Canada.

We call on the Government of Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to respect the decision by the
United Nations Human Rights Council that the Declaration establishes the
essential standards for respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples
jurisdiction and responsibility over their lands, peoples, and right to
govern themselves as Nations.

On June 29th, join Canadians across the nation in peaceful demonstrations
for First Nations rights. We will march from King’s College Circle to
Queens Park; demanding a better quality of life for all First Nations.

For more information please contact:

2. Connecting Our People – National Aboriginal Day of Action (Toronto)

On June 29th, The National Aboriginal Day of Action, Toronto Council Fire
in cooperation with the Mississaugas of the New Credit, will be organizing
a walk and gathering to bring awareness to National Aboriginal issues
including the Mississaugas’ Toronto land claim.

The gathering will take place at Little Norway Park which is located at the
end of Bathurst Street at Queen’s Quay (south of Fort York). The gathering
will take place between 10 AM and 2 PM with approximately 700 people
expected to attend. A light lunch will be served at the site and Action Day
t-shirts will be available. Participants are encouraged to bring signs,
banners and Nation flags.

For those able to attend, Council Fire will be organizing a walk to the
gathering place, starting at the Centre (439 Dundas Street East at
Parliament) at 8:30 AM. Individuals and groups can join us at the start
point or along the route which will go West along Dundas to Bay Street,
South on Bay to Front Street, West on Front to Bathurst and South on
Bathurst to Little Norway Park at Queen’s Quay Blvd (see map). Buses will
also leave from the New Credit Reserve band office at 8am.

To confirm your participation or for additional information please contact
Jayne, Patricia, Jennifer or David at Council Fire: Tel.: (416) 360-4350 or

3. Kingston residents call for Celebration of National Day of Action,
June 29, on the railroad tracks. The Kingston Mohawk Support Network, a
primarily non-native organization is planning to hold demonstrations on the
railroad tracks in and around Kingston, Friday, June 29th.

We will be calling upon upon our government to respect its historical
agreements with First Nations, and to begin to conduct itself peaceably,
justly and honourably in its dealings with all First Nations and peoples.

We have chosen the train tracks as the location for this event to
demonstrate our solidarity with the numerous road and railway blockades
that are being planned by First Nations communities across Canada as part
of this National Day of Action.

“A big part of celebrating the National Day of Action will be educating the
non-native public as they cross the tracks,” says Rosa Barker, an organizer
with KMSN, “but equally important is showing the government and First
Nations that First Nations are not alone in their fight for justice and the
land they were promised.”

People who have different comfort levels around civil disobedience will all
be able to participate in different ways. For example, some people may
choose set up lawn chairs and “relax on the tracks,” while others may
choose to stand by the side of the road and pass out pamphlets and
refreshments to motorists (where roads cross the tracks), and still others
may play music, chat with passers-by, or play Frisbee on the grass. We are
hoping to foster a positive and celebratory tone to the protest, with
music, street theatre, dancing, and free food. We want to encourage the
participation of as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible,
on this historic day, and as part of the ongoing struggle to end colonial

Contact us at:

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Panel on Precarity June 19th at York University

Theoretical Psychology beyond Borders: Transdisciplinarity and Internationalization
International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) Conference 2007, June 18-22
York University, Toronto, Canada

Precarity, affective labour and the articulation of everyday politics

The social mobilisation around ‘precarity’ and the ‘precarisation of life’ is increasingly attracting attention in public debates. The proliferation of atypical forms of labour, i.e. labour outside Fordist forms of regulation, is depicted as a forceful sign for the radical transformation of European societies. Post-industrial production is discussed as leading to an incorporation of the richness and variety of everyday life for capitalist exploitation. At the same time the system is transformed by people working in and/or escaping it. Mobilisation (of desire) in and against precarity point at these forms of transformation, they attack and corrode the political blockade created by neoliberal regimes of (bio)power.
This symposium discusses the articulation of experience and everyday politics in precarity in relation to affective labour and the emergence of new subjectivities. The discussion takes its starting point from the statement that the channelling and forming of affects has a central position in the current system of value creation. This is an old feminist position, recently re-introduced in the debate by Hardt & Negri under the concept of ‘affective labour’. But what is affective labour? How is it played out in different sectors and subject positions, how is it embodied and transformed? How do we grasp the autonomy of labour, forms of resistance or refusal in the affective realm? Against the background of the dominant essentialist, individualistic and normative discourse on body, desire and pain, the specific focus on experience and affects in relation to labour and subversion leaves many open questions. It is argued that this field builds a promising arena for an imaginative, creative and offensive articulation of everyday politics in precarity.


1) Papadopoulos, Dimitris. Cardiff University, UK.
Their flexibility is our precarity! Precarious experience and everyday politics in Post-Fordism

2) Ehrenstein, Amanda. Cardiff University, UK.
Embodied affects at work. The experience of precarity in the visual arts

3) Cabruja Ubach, Teresa. University of Girona, Spain.
Disoccupying/traversing precarities: the “astragalus” and other trajectories of “rational difference”

Renzi, Alessandra. University of Toronto, Canada.

The conference is held on Keele Campus

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3J 1P3

All presentations are inthe Accolade West Building (ACW)
The panel will be held on Tue 19 June 2007 8.30 AM

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