August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, February 21, 2010

OLYMPICS: Coast Salish blockade bridge where ancestors were desecrated

Blockade Golden Ears Bridge
Anti-2010 Olympics Convergence, Coast Salish Territories, (Vancouver, B.C.)


As part of the Anti-Olympics Convergence in Vancouver B.C., members of Coast Salish Katzie First Nation and supporters blocked the Golden Ears Bridge.

The Bridge spans the Frazer River between Pitt Meadows and Langley, and is adjacent to Katzie 1 and Katzie 2 Reserves. It is about a half hour drive outside of Vancouver.

The bridge opened on June 16, 2009. It is owned by Translink, who say, “It will have major long-term impacts on the region, improving travel times and promoting economic activity.” It is clearly disregarding the negative impacts on Indigenous people.

Construction of the bridge desecrated a 3,000 year old burial ground. Its massive pilings in the river disrupt currents, and the ability of local Katzie fishers to fish. Situated at the mouth of the Frazer River, the bridge effects already threatened habitat for Salmon and Indigenous fishing communities all up the Fraser River.

Statement by a participant in the action:

“My people have been told when to fish and how big our net can be since our book of rules (Indian act) in 1896. My family has been arrested for fishing when they were not allowed.”

“The bridge affects my family in many ways. For thousands of years my family has been fishing on the Fraser River. The exact same spot where they built the Golden Ears Bridge is where my father, my grandfather and so on, is where we were taught to fish. The exact same spot we have been fishing is where there is a 6 lane bridge.”

“That bridge has caused hurt and pain with me and my family. The bridge is built on my peoples sacred burial grounds. That bridge has destroyed the river far beyond Katzie’s boundaries. Because of the bridge I’m forced to change my teachings and ways of fishing. That bridge has destroyed the natural path for the salmon to continue up the river for indigenous people to eat to survive. Dredging gravel out of the river to build bridges and highways for the Olympics is destroying the delicate ecosystem and putting declining fish stocks at further risk.”

These people worked on the site where the bridge is now built. They asked to be anonymous because they would lose their jobs:

“We dug up history of our ancestors - human remains, arrow heads and beads. They gave us a choice: Either we dig up our peoples history or they were going to send non-native people to do it. We were forced and no options from our community!”

~Anonymous hired archaeologist worker.

After the remains were found, members of Katzie First Nations people were paid to build tiny coffins and bury the bones where they were found. Many of the workers thought this meant they wouldn’t build the bridge at that spot.

“So many bones were found, in fetal position, and scattered bones were found These are my people; these bones are my grandfathers and grandmothers. After we had a ceremony to bury the bones in small coffins we made, they went ahead and built the bridge anyway right over top of our sacred burial ground.”

~Anonymous Katzie First Nations worker.

For more info on Anti-2010 Olympics see:
"My heart goes out to the Coast Salish Katzie First Nation who has to endure this outrageous act of man. I know how hurt you feel to have to rebury your ancestors because my people (Sinixt Arrow Lakes Nation) have been doing this since the mid-1980s in British Columbia. I pray the Creator blesses you generously."

Bolivia's People Summit to challenge rich nations on climate

Bolivia: ‘People’s Summit’ to challenge rich nations on climate
Raul Connolly
Green Left
20 February 2010

Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca said on February 8 that Bolivia is very concerned about the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas reduction commitments made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord at the United Nations climate summit in December, said.
Speaking alongside representatives from campesino (peasant) and indigenous organisations, Choquehuanca said: “The commitments, of the developed states, related to greenhouse gas emission reductions will result in more than three degrees increase in temperature above pre-industrial levels.
“Some experts even say that the temperature could rise as high as four degrees above pre-industrial levels. The situation is serious. “An increase of temperature of more than one degree above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones.”
Choquehuanca said Bolivia’s demand at the Copenhagen conference was that the greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40% or more below 1990 levels by 2020. But the emissions reduction targets in the Copenhagen Accord of the countries that have been historically responsible for global warming only amount to 12% to 18 % by 2020.
He said what happened at Copenhagen reinforced the need for the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights, which is being organised by the Bolivian government in Cochabamba over April 19-22.
“This conference will be a transparent and inclusive event, in which no one will be marginalised. The conference will be attended by citizens, social movements, scientists. “We have also been inviting all the governments and the organisations within the United Nations to participate as delegates and experts to discuss along with the peoples how to address the crisis that affects us all.”
Announcing the objectives of the summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales, the first president from Bolivia’s indigenous majority, said it was clear the so-called developed countries of the world have usurped the bounties of Mother Earth at the expense of the world’s poorest people, a February article on Bolivia Rising reported.
Morales said: “Those most affected by climate change will be the poorest in the world who will see their homes and their sources of survival destroyed, and who will be forced to migrate and seek refuge.”
He pointed out that 75% of historic emissions of greenhouse gases came from “the countries of the North that followed a path of irrational industrialisation”.
He said the Copenhagen conference showed the failure of the industrialised countries to recognise their climate debt.
Morales said: "Climate change is a product of the capitalist system."
The aims of the People’s Conference include: to discuss and agree on the Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights; develop proposals for new international agreements; to develop a plan for the holding of an international Climate Justice Tribunal; and define strategies and plans for action and mobilisations for action on climate change.
Bolivia Rising said parliamentarians from the European United Left and the Nordic United Left proposed a resolution in European parliament that “welcomes the initiative” taken by Morales in calling the conference.
It urged "the Commission, the Member states, the European Parliament and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to send representatives to this important event”.
The Bolivian government expects around 5000 people from around the world to go to Cochabamba and take part in the conference, Associated Press said on February 8.