Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 24, 2013

Terrance Nelson 'The Next Flash Point'

The Next Flash Point

By Terrance Nelson
Roseau River Anishinabe
Censored News

On the phone from his home in Kingston, Ontario, Bland told the Straight that Canada’s economy is “very vulnerable to disruption” via the country’s transportation infrastructure. He recalled that in 2012, a Canadian Pacific Railway strike was estimated to cost the economy $540 million per week.
“Imagine if the thing was shut down for three months?” Bland added. “The economics of transport are very important to British Columbia and they are very important to the rest of the country. If they shut down the railway lines going over the Rockies…as the strike with the railways proved last year, it would be a very serious problem for the government.”
Grand Chief:
The article in the Straight provides information that First Nations are not powerless. When we first met in 2000, you and your wife were on the boat landing at Burnt Church New Brunswick. Same issue, different time. White Governments, white people and companies using violence to enforce theft of natural resource wealth. In 2000, Burnt Church First Nation fishers were only taking 1% of the lobster after the courts upheld indigenous rights to do so. For most (but not all) of the white people in New Brunswick, that 1% was too much. The rule of law is a sick joke.
Yesterday, I was in Steinbach Manitoba at the RCMP station. Four RCMP cruisers carrying four Ojibway women came in from Buffalo Point First Nation. Their crime was wanting democracy. Eighty-two year old Helen "ella" Cobiness lead her two granddaughters, Carrie and Brittney and 54 year Angie Camp to the band office to do a peaceful sit in. The RCMP came in, they were dragging 54 year old Angie Camp out and they arrested Carrie, Brittney and Helen Cobiness. APTN and the local paper the Carillion were there at the RCMP station in Steinbach to take pictures of the RCMP bringing in the women.

Fourteen years earlier in 1999, we tried to help the people of Buffalo Point. They had occupied the Band Office in an effort to force the Government of Canada to call an election in Buffalo Point. Unfortunately, I made a mistake, I thought that we could get things done peacefully, we had two of the council members on side, a quorum of two out of three signed a Band Council Resolution directing Indian Affairs to conduct an election under the Indian Act. When AIM leaders, Dennis Banks and Clyde Belcourt were in attendance in Winnipeg at one of our initiation ceremonies for the Okiijida Society, Helen Cobiness brought in tobacco to AIM to help them. Banks said, let's go. I convinced them to give us some time to see if we could get things done peacefully, with the BCRs etc. I was wrong.
I didn't know who was backing Chief Jim Thunder in 1999. The guy who backed the Chief in Buffalo Point was Don Plett. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Don Plett.
Donald Neil Plett (born May 14, 1950) is the founding president of the National Council of the Conservative Party of Canada[1] and aSenator.
Plett, the owner of a plumbing supply firm in LandmarkManitoba, and has been president of the Conservative Party Council since its creation in 2003 from the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.[1]
Prior to that, Plett was the campaign manager for Vic Toews in 2000, where Toews defeated incumbent Liberal MP David Iftody by a wide margin.
On August 27, 2009, the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Plett was among nine new appointees to the Senate. His is one of many appointments made in thanks to service to the governing Conservative Party.
What Wikipedia doesn't say about Don Plett is that he is a long time cottage owner in Buffalo Point. Their cottage is in his wife's name. The Chief sold cottage lots to white people in the Buffalo Point reservation, cheap and without approval of the people of Buffalo Point. The Cottagers have 99 year leases of prime lake property on the reservation.
Plett is also the government person mentioned in correspondence that provided evidence to the RCMP about Buffalo Point Chief for Life John Thunder, son of Jim Thunder. Chief John Thunder was charged by RCMP for Extortion. Isn't that a big change? Don Plett provided cover and support for the Chiefs of Buffalo Point for years. As long as the cottagers were happy with the Chiefs, no amount of protests by the people of Buffalo Point would have any chance of getting them democracy. When Chief John Thunder raised the price of cottage lot rentals and raised the taxes on cottage owners, the cottagers went to court. John Thunder thought he still had the support of the Conservatives,so he wrote to Senator Plett trying to put an end to the court action. Senator Plett (a member of the cottage owners lawsuit) turned the evidence over to the RCMP. The question today is what other evidence is there on Plett and Vic Toews. How much did they support the Chiefs of Buffalo Point?
The men of Buffalo Point will now blockade on behalf of the people. Buffalo Point is a choke point. There is not only a major railway line at the reservation going into and from Minnesota, but Highway 12 is a major Customs port into the United States. They would not only get support from over 30 western Ontario Ojibway reservations, 36 Ojibway southern Manitoba reservations, the 60,000 natives in Winnipeg but they also would get support from the American side, from Ojibway reservations in northern Minnesota. Northern Minnesota is the stronghold of American Indian Movement and reservations in United States are much better armed than Canadian Reservations. The RCMP putting 82 year Helen Cobiness in jail will not be taken lightly. The women did nothing wrong, they only wanted an election and a proper audit. Plett and Toews have blocked the people of Buffalo Point for years.
The Ojibway people are one of the largest tribal groups in North America. If the video of Helen Cobiness being led out of the Band Office in Buffalo Point gets our people angry enough, there will be a flash point and the RCMP will not be able to contain that anger. Toews and Plett have gotten away with a lot for years. In 2006, it was Toews, Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Justice, who caused the 2007 National Day of Action. Roseau River had an Agreement in Principle with Liberal Minister of Indian Affairs Andy Scott to convert lands for Roseau River under the 1996 Treaty Land Entitlement agreement between Canada and Roseau River, Toews put a stop to not only that conversion of farm lands but our urban reserve in Winnipeg. see attached letter.
The stupidity of the Conservatives pushing the RCMP against indigenous people's rights across Canada will cause irreparable economic harm to not only Canada but to the United States. I have warned time and time again that it would take only ten (determined) people to derail the Canadian economy.
The Media in Canada and the Government of Canada are hiding the fact that seven derailments and stoppage of trains have occurred in Ontario this year. Those blockades were done by covert operations by persons unknown. The leadership have done blockades openly and sent information out before the blockades happened. The court were well aware of the blockades and the court granted injunctions despite the issue of unforfilled treaty obligations and the challenge of who really owns the lands that the trains run on. Covert operations are different.
Bloodied faces from Eslipogtog First Nation is angering a lot of our people across Canada. If another flash point occurs in Buffalo Point over a simple matter, people wanting democracy, it will a dumb move by the Conservative Government of Canada. Nothing new, same issues, different time. IF they don't like what Douglas Bland is telling them, they should at least review the maps of where all the railway lines and pipelines are.
Terrance Nelson
Vice-Chair American Indian Movement.

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013

By Terrance Nelson

Hello Robert Kakaygeesick jr and Ernest Cobiness
John Thunder is now charged with extortion. He has been released and must appear in courtNovember 25, 2013. In 1999, you Robert were a council member of Buffalo Point First Nation. You and Dorothy Camp were a quorum of the Chief and Council, you as two councillors signed a Band Council Resolution directing the Department of Indian Affairs to conduct a democratic election replacing the disputed Hereditary Chiefs system.

Today the hypocrisy of the Government of Canada that defended Chief John Thunder in 1999 has changed, into a full 180 degree turnaround. The reason is clear, while the rights of indigenous people to democracy means nothing to the Canadian Government, the rights of white people will be defended.
John Thunder ran afoul of white people therefore the Government of Canada and the RCMP will protect white people, even against a white Chief.
In late 2012, a group of protesters occupied the band office on the reserve for over a month, demanding Thunder resign.
Thunder is a non-elected, hereditary chief and a number of residents accused him of mismanaging the First Nation. Eventually, Thunder secured a court injunction to have the protesters removed from the band office.

A year ago, I was in Tehran.
Some excepts (with Typo corrections) from my 2012 letter to Iranian Ambassador in Ottawa, ... I would like to tell you about a group of indigenous people who are not allowed to have a democracy in their community. I am taking a camera to interview a ninety year old woman who has never been allowed to vote. Florence Kakaygeesic is over ninety years old and her husband who is deceased a number of years ago was in the U.S military.
Robert Kakaygeesic Sr. was a traditional man, a kind person and Florence was never aggressive, so their rights were never upheld. Robert Sr. died without ever having voted in tribal elections and Florence will die without ever having voted because in Canada democracy is not a right if you are an indigenous person.
Frank Thunder was supposed to be the real hereditary Chief but he was serving in Vietnam when his adopted brother James Thunder took over. James was white and his son John Thunder took over after his father.
In 1999, I tried to help the people when they occupied their government office. Two council members ( quorum of three) signed a legal document asking for a democratic election. The Government of Canada, the Department of Indian Affairs denied their directive. So, the people of Buffalo Point have been denied any democracy.
James Thunder got an injunction against the people and armed police (RCMP) came into the office, arrested the people and charged them. The police came in with dogs, tear gas ready, and with all kinds of weaponry in case the people resisted.
Their lands have been stolen, occupied by white cottage owners who were leased reservation lands by the white chiefs. The real owners of the lands, the indigenous Ojibway people do not get paid for their lands being taken from them. If Canada is such a champion of human rights, why are they denying the people of Buffalo Point a right to democracy.
Maybe if Florence Kakaygeesic were on Press T.V., her voice might finally be heard outside of Canada, the so called Champion of Human Rights might have to answer the world why they deny democracy to indigenous people.
Frank Thunder served several tours in Vietnam but the Americans don't care about his right to democracy anymore than they cared about Robert Kakaygeesic Sr, another United States veteran who died never having had the right to vote.
End of letter to Iranian Ambassador.
After the failed 1999 occupation of the Band Office, people of Buffalo Point tried in 2012 to once again occupy the band office in an effort to get democracy. Once again the Government of Canada, the Canadian courts and the RCMP ensured that the indigenous people's right to democracy was denied. As the Winnipeg Free Press wrote last year, October 26, 2012. 
SIT-IN protesters at a southeastern Manitoba First Nation want a hereditary chief thrown out of office and elections called after a referendum dispute last week. About 15 people, including a woman in her 80s, have been occupying the band office at Buffalo Point First Nation since Oct. 19. Telephone and wireless service to the band office was disconnected Monday. Elliott Cobiness of Winnipeg said his brother, Ernest, is among the group occupying the band office. Elliott Cobiness said the group acted after eligible band voters were turned away from the pollsThursday and Friday without being allowed to cast votes in the referendum. "This was the last straw and people said enough was enough... People don't want to deal with him anymore," Cobiness said. "They want democracy." Buffalo Point Chief John Thunder called for a referendum on a new land code for the First Nation after the federal government granted it the freedom to opt out of land-related sections of the Indian Act in January. "We're pushing for elections (under the Indian Act) because Buffalo Point is under a hereditary system," Elliott Cobiness said. Buffalo Point, 175 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg on the shore of Lake of the Woods, is better known as the location of an upscale cottage development and resort. Thunder is the adopted son of the former hereditary chief and his leadership has raised periodic headlines because of his heritage. He is Caucasian by birth. Thunder was not available for comment. Cottagers have also been at odds with the hereditary chief over property-tax hikes earlier this year. That dispute is the subject of a case before the Federal Court of Canada, brought in July by the Buffalo Point Cottagers Association. alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.caRepublished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2012 A9
RCMP and the courts of Canada do not uphold the rights of the people of Buffalo Point, they will however ensure that the white people who invested in the stolen lands at Buffalo Point, got 99 year leases, and built cottages will be protected from the Chief who is appointed by his father. The right of the people to democracy will not be protected by Canada, the Courts or the RCMP if it affects only indigenous people, but they might do something if it affects white people.
Robert and Ernest,
My advise is for you to contact lawyer Norm Boudreau, ask the courts for a forensic audit that will get information into the court about the finances of the First Nation. The courts will not do this to protect the rights of the indigenous people but they might do it to get more evidence against John Thunder. Canada will protect the rights of the cottagers, so if you want an election, you must also protect the agreements that were made with the cottagers. As bad as that might feel for your people, you will not get an election without some compromise for the whites who now occupy your reservation lands.
You are all poor. You have no money for lawyers and when you were charged back in 1999, it cost you a lot of money to fight for your rights in court. John had all the money and you had none. At the time the cottage owners supported the Chief and of course the courts and RCMP sided with the white people. You lost in court.
The RCMP do everything the Government tells them to do. Their pay cheque are Government of Canada cheques. The only reason the RCMP went after John Thunder is because white rights must be protected.
I am sending out this email to all my over four hundred email addresses. What the RCMP did last week in Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick is nothing new, the RCMP did this to your people in 1999 and in 2012. They came in with dogs, tear gas, assault rifles, all to oust indigenous people who were peacefully occupying their own band office in an effort to get something everyone else in Canada expects as a right, the right to be able to vote.
Robert, The American media never gave a damn about your father who served in the US military, nor did they defend the right of Frank Thunder when he came back from Vietnam. The US media never even published anything about your people and the RCMP coming in with assault rifles to enforce a dictatorship that the people opposed. The Americans never came to the defense of three soldiers who served in the US military, men who put their lives on the line.
Ernest, your father Eddy Cobiness also served in the Military, the United States Navy. So much for democracy for your people. The United States said they were fighting for democracy against communists in Vietnam. Three young men from Buffalo Point in Canada believed the Americans and volunteered. 

Terrance Nelson
Vice-Chair American Indian Movement

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