Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2013 in review

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The City of Victoria is celebrating its 150th anniversary with what it’s calling “a wide range of events and projects that embrace Victoria’s proud history and its defining heritage characteristics, while maintaining a current and contemporary view of the future.”

In their promotions for the events, the organisers remind us that: “Victoria has been home to some of Canada’s most colourful characters… including architect Francis Rattenbury, painter and writer Emily Carr, newspaperman and ‘lover of the universe’ Amour de Cosmos, hanging judge Matthew Bailey Begbie…” And, one of the planned Victoria 150 activities focuses on the importance of Fort Victoria’s role in helping to build the city. To pay tribute to this history, the organisers have planned what they call a “fun event [that] will register the ‘universal appeal of forts’ while paying tribute to Victoria’s start as Fort Victoria, a Hudson’s Bay Company outpost, which is the basis for the modern City…”

To take up the City of Victoria’s invitation to embrace Victoria’s heritage and history, with an eye to engaging the present and future, it is necessary to go beyond ‘celebration’ to raise the matter of our ‘obligations.’ It is necessary to ask probing questions about the past and about our relations today. Positioning the above characters as ‘colourful’ and framing the appeal of forts as ‘universal’ reflects a disturbing gap between unthinking celebration and engaged obligation.

We should ask whether the term ‘colourful character’ is appropriate in the context of a “hanging judge.” We can remember that Judge Begbie tried people outside of his jurisdiction, often finding defendants guilty after trying them without interpreters. Undeniably he is an important historical figure, the restored version of his courtroom resting in the Maritime Museum of BC, located in Bastion Square, the heart of the old Fort Victoria site and the site of planned celebrations is a testament to this fact; but what does it tell us about our celebrations when we denude the context of a hanging judge? Who did he hang and why? Or, what does it tell us about ourselves when we pass off the state’s executioner as “colourful?” What, who, and how are we celebrating?

In the most direct terms, the configuration of the fort as having universal appeal is delusional. It is important to acknowledge that ‘fort’ is a shortened word for fortification and to remember that fortifications are precisely built structures of contest, violence, and exclusion. They exist because of a desire to assuage fear and provide security through the physical separation of peoples, those inside who are safe and trustworthy but who see themselves as under threat from those outside who are dangerous because of their difference from those inside the fort (civilised v. savagery). It is important to acknowledge and remember that our Fort was a structure laden with cannons and directed the entire colonising force on the Island. It helped to organise and perpetrate quick and devastating and long-term acts of violence on people throughout the land – helping the forced removal of people from their lands, the confinement of peoples into ghettos, theft of resources, intensive missionizing efforts and sustained cultural suppression through school curricula and colonial history. Forts, by design, do not have universal appeal and ours is part of a militaristic and violent operation whose effects continue to this day. That the organisers of the City’s celebration could conceive of it so out of time and history — so out of context — that they would contend that a fort is for all is more than naïve, it helps to create the conditions of revisionist history and altered reality.

To celebrate our history and our place in Victoria is a worthy endeavour and the practice of building structures in downtown Victoria is a creative idea that will no doubt yield interesting, provocative, and artistic responses. In the most serious of terms, however, I wonder if we could valorise other institutions and other ideals. Could we think about and plan for what we need in Victoria, and in downtown Victoria specifically? Could we envision a safe injection site, mental health help, care and love for seniors, food, public toilets, and safe places for marginalised and vulnerable people to live and sleep? There is no doubt that the history of the fort is important and undeniably it is crucial to the city of Victoria, where I live and the community that I care about dearly. Nonetheless, could we celebrate and create something beautiful?

Clearly, with the desire to celebrate our heritage there come obligations to understand our past against what we know to be true and how we’d like to organise and live our lives today. That is, at this time of celebration and retrospection, we could ask questions about the past, examine different accounts of events, and reflect upon how these histories effect our relations today. In this way, with the coming Victoria 150 Celebrations, we could reflect on certain specific community building practices and ask how they might shape our lives. We could, then, remember that Fort Victoria is the site of the ‘signing’ of many of the so-called ‘Fort Victoria’ or ‘Douglas’ Treaties that took place in the early 1850s and we could do something daring and work to honour our treaty obligations.

To celebrate our history is to know it.

I am canvassing to see if there is an interested audience for another, different free class.

I am thinking of offering something like a reading course on the “History of North American Anthropology.” I am expecting that this class would be smaller and have a different level of commitment than the previous public classes. (I am working on the next public classes and hope that we will have information to share about them soon). Of course, even if the class is limited in size no one will be refused participation; and it will be free.


FKP on Facebook

On Sunday, November 6, 2011 we will be presenting the following resolution at Centennial Square. We need support in numbers at 2pm.

The Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, 6 November 2011

RESOLUTION, Statement of Intent and Action for Decolonizing Victoria & Memorandum of solidarity and support with Indigenous peoples of this land and all Indigenous peoples in what is commonly known as British Columbia and Canada.

WHEREAS, that as a signal to the “Occupy Together” movement and Indigenous peoples here who have felt excluded by the colonialist language of occupation used to name this movement, we meet under the name: The Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

WHEREAS, we acknowledge that we are on Lekwungen land, territory that is shared in ways with WSANEC and other Indigenous communities but has never been ceded and is illegally occupied by British Columbia and Canada.

WHEREAS, we acknowledge that despite great colonial pressures Lekwungen, WSANEC and other Indigenous communities from the area remain sovereign nations and we will endeavor to build open and supportive communication with members of these communities.

WHEREAS, we recognize that much of the wealth and its distribution being protested in the Occupy-Together Movement is derived from the past and continued theft of Indigenous peoples’ land and resources and an unsustainable exploitation of the Earth.

We, The Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria do hereby declare it:

RESOLVED, that we will take greater responsibility to learn the histories of Vancouver Island and surrounding area, including colonial legal history and the Douglas Treaties.

RESOLVED, that we will be open to cultivating political and social relationships with Indigenous peoples that will effect meaningful change to address historical and contemporary injustices.

RESOLVED, that we will create a standing working group focused on living up to these commitments and developing further actions in the spirit of addressing the problems of colonialism.  We respectfully seek a pathway to prepare ourselves to build non-colonial relationships with Indigenous peoples and their lands. We are open to benefiting from the involvement, knowledges and participation that Indigenous peoples and communities want to offer this standing working group.

RESOLVED, that moving forward, we are open to potential forms of alliances, mutual learning, action and solidarity with local Indigenous peoples, when, and if, they view such cooperation to be appropriate and constructive for achieving change to our relationships.

Extending an open hand of humility and friendship, The Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria respectfully recognizes the protocol breach of not approaching Lekwungen before convening this assembly on their land. We take this opportunity to ask for permission now.

We offer these gifts as a token of the Assembly’s sincerity to address colonialism and all of our relations.

We are many 10/15/11

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Re-posted by Emily from Redescription: Thoughts on Politics, Society and Media.
(Thanks Tim!)

This is the written version of the speech given by Marc Pinkoski at Centennial Square (Victoria), on Oct. 15, 2011.

I am struck by the ready conversation and commitment to stand together against injustices and inequalities.

I am struck that a discussion of how we come to be here on this land and come to think we can speak law and justice here has been brought to the forefront.

I am struck by the comments that some people feel emboldened to make; and whether it is because of the anonymity of the internet or because of an anxiety about how we come to be here and live our lives, venomous hatred couched in bigotry and ignorance has too-often been directed at friends and colleagues.

I will leave the hate-filled comments for now, but I want to discuss two kinds of comments that have been raised frequently: equality – that we are one and all part of the same movement and that colonialism is innate to Euro-Canadians, or settlers, and that is the only way we can act.

The first suggests that we are all part of an economic and social problem and that somehow the rights of Indigenous peoples and our obligations to them are a special interest in a global movement. It is true that Indigenous peoples are entangled in social and economic systems often not of their making, but to urge Indigenous peoples to “occupy” the Square today with us today is an affront to reality of the situation and the history of here.

This Square is occupied and has been via the HBC, England, the Colony of Vancouver Island, Victoria, BC, and Canada. Notwithstanding these occupations Lekwungen and WSANEC peoples have never surrendered their lands and they continue to persevere amidst great pressures. It is because of this recognition that those of us who meet today, do not meet under the banner of occupation but rather in solidarity with global movements to challenge the power structures that we face and also facing the history of the place where we are right now and how we come to be here. We are many.

Secondly, there is a suggestion that colonialism is the way that Euro-Canadians behave – innately. Moreover, it is contended that colonialism benefits Settlers and does harm to Indigenous peoples. While I am certainly not trying to say that Indigenous peoples aren’t harmed by colonialism or that settlers do not benefit from these relations, I think we also must realise that these actions are not innate to us, they are taught, and they do us a world of harm. They limit how we think about ourselves, the care we offer, and reward exploitation of people, land, and resources.

So, I believe, we need to recognise the connection between economic and capitalist inequalities and injustices and colonial mentalities and work to believe that we are not stuck in these relations. We need to believe that we can work creatively and caringly for ourselves and each other and build other forms of relationships.

A story running on Canadian newswires this weekend concerns the on-going Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the relationship of the RCMP to Indigenous communities and state programs, such as the residential school system. The CBC’s headline states “RCMP ‘herded’ native kids to residential schools” and reports that:

The RCMP released the report Saturday at a Halifax session of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is looking into how 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families over more than a century. The 463-page report found that the RCMP had a major involvement in bringing students from First Nation communities to the residential schools. The report says that at times, RCMP withheld information from parents of residential school students about what was happening with their children, and at times they acted like truant officers to schools.

“Students saw themselves herded like cattle and brought into RCMP cars and taken into school. What they say is that these stories have come out throughout the years, but what this does today is validate those stories and show that they were true,” CBC reporter Michael Dick said in Halifax.

The truth and reconciliation commissioners have been listening to powerful testimony from people who suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the schools and who were forced to give up their native language and customs. Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair chairs the commission, established as part of a landmark $4-billion agreement reached in 2007 with survivors who had filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government and the churches that ran the schools. “It is for the purpose of establishing a national memory around this so that future generations of people will be able to understand not only what happened but why it happened. And that will ensure that it does not happen again,” Sinclair said.

This story made me think of this incredible report by Russell Diabo and Shiri Pasternak (June 7, 2011) “First Nations Under Surveillance: Harper Government Prepares for First Nations ‘Unrest.” Their article begins “Internal documents from Indian Affairs and the RCMP show that shortly after forming government in January of 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the federal government tighten up on gathering and sharing intelligence on First Nations to anticipate and manage potential First Nation unrest across Canada.”

They write:

Information obtained by Access to Information requests reveals that almost immediately upon taking power in 2006, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was given the lead role to spy on First Nations. The goal was to identify the First Nation leaders, participants and outside supporters of First Nation occupations and protests, and to closely monitor their actions.

To accomplish this task, INAC established a “Hot Spot Reporting System.” These weekly reports highlight all those communities across the country that engage in direct action to protect their lands and communities. They include Tobique First Nation, Tsartlip First Nation, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) First Nation, Six Nations, Grassy Narrows, Stz’uminous First Nation, the Likhts’amsiyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Gitxaala First Nation, Wagmatcook First Nation, Innu of Labrador, Pikangikum First Nation, and many more. They include bands from the coast of Vancouver Island to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

What we see in these documents – from the hot spot reports themselves, to the intelligence-sharing between government and security forces – is a closely monitored population of First Nations, who clearly are causing a panic at the highest levels of Canadian bureaucracy and political office.

They explain that as result of this oversight that:

Aboriginal people who are defending their lands are now treated on a spectrum from criminals to terrorists. On either side, under Harper, an intensification of intelligence gathering and surveillance procedures now govern the new regime.

Also telling here is the cozy cooperative relationship between INAC and the RCMP. The INAC briefing to the RCMP is almost indistinguishable from a presentation one would expect to see from security forces, rather than from a government ministry. Contrary to their claims, Indian Affairs is not an institution of reconciliation and negotiation, but rather appears to be a management office to control the costs of Native unrest, and they are willing to work closely with law enforcement to accomplish this task.

Two points immediately come up. It is clear from examples such as these that the relationship of state military force over Indigenous people’s lives is not a technique of the past. And, the notion of Reconciliation offered in the CBC article is seriously undermined by the actual practices of our political relationships detailed in the second piece. This exercise of truth and reconciliation is not nearly sufficient to address the concerns at hand.

If anyone is interested in doing an hermeneutic of the present through a reflection on these issues and their place in them, consider reading this facebook post by Ian Ki’laas Caplette and the commentary that follows.

Here are some responses to his meme:

what a load of crap. No one is trying to rob anyone of Identity or lands.   Native lands have been growing quickly for decades. We are giving beautiful campgrounds, parks, beaches… etc. to Natives all the time. We share all Canadian land but yet if a Caucasian goes on Native reserve land they usually get confronted with aggression. We show off the Native traditions in our Olympic ceremonies even though the ones against the Olympics the most are most native tribes. We proudly display the native jackets. Totem poles… etc. Lets also look at history and war. How many lands invaded and conquered were returned back then. And who alive today was alive back then to rightly complain about it now? I have never heard Jews complain and I have rarely heard Blacks complain. NATIVES HAVE TO STOP BLAIMING PEOPLE OF TODAY FOR SHIT THAT HAPPENED BEFORE ANY OF US WERE BORN. Let’s co-exist together fairly and as equals. GET RID OF NATIVE RESERVES… THEY ONLY SEPERATE US AS CANADIANS. WE ALL USE CANADIAN ROADS, FUEL, UTILITIES SO LETS ALL PAY TAXES TOGETHER AND BE A MORE UNITED COUNTRY. ENOUGH WITH NATIVE RIGHTS FISHING AS IT IS DEPLEATING THE WORLDS SALMON SUPPLY ( catching millions of spawning salmon every year before they can lay there eggs while also trudging through the streams destroying where some eggs have already been layed. NATIVES AND CANADIANS WILL NEVER BE TRULY CANADIAN TOGETHER UNTIL WE START LIVING AMONG EACH OTHER WITH EQUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND WITHOUT BLAMING THE LIVING FOR WHAT THE DEAD HAVE DONE. Move forward, stop dwelling on the past stop passing blame.

I am not one of the ones who have hurt you, never will I be!!!! So, as far as racisim go, especially as far back as it goes….when none of us that are here NOW, has been part of what you are saying…….many generations ago………..why is it WE have to pay for their mistakes? Then, or now, I, personally, would never hurt any one who is not of my race, don’t let the way back pass hurt your future, as far as God goes, WE ALL ARE ONE, please remember that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

maybe starting a campaign to stop your brothers from indulging in such extreme alchoholism might be a more constructive use of your time than just wallowing in the past. I would love it if, rather than getting drunk in the streets every day, the local native population did more constructive things with their time.

The other day a native american who was drinking in the streets near my house climbed an electrical pole and got electricuted on the transformer.. You should be more concerned with this than you are with “your plight”.

indigenous people… your ancestors simply immigrated here before the rest of us. if your ancestors had encountered others living here i’m not sure that your people would have treated them any better. there is a myth of a kind of utopia existing before the european settlers arrived. i owe you no apology because i have done nothing to you. there are people in many areas of the world that would do just about anything to gain the freedom and rights of a canadian or u.s. citizen.

If anyone wishes to raise any questions from the discussion that is taking place, we can try to facilitate it here.

Marc Pinkoski

Occupy & Decolonization

On May 13th, Michael Asch gave a talk entitled “Establishing a Just Relationship with Indigenous Peoples” at the annual general meeting of the Friends of the Nemaiah Valley. FONV has been working hard to raise awareness about political, legal, and ecological issues in the Nemaiah Valley, British Columbia. Three such issues are the wild horse ranger program, the aboriginal title case Tsilhqot’in Nation v. B.C., and the on-going proposals to build a multi-billion dollar open-pit gold and copper mine in the area.

Michael’s talk followed a short presentation from lead counsel in the Tsilhqot’in Nation case, Jack Woodward, who spoke about the current status of the decision’s appeal before the BC Supreme Court and the mounting logistical and financial burdens that lay ahead in protecting Tsilhqot’in aboriginal rights and title through the courts. In turn, Michael offered what he called a long-term perspective and a hopeful message meant to explore possibilities for political relationships based on principles of treaty. Beginning by acknowledging Esquimalt and Songhees priority, he stressed the issues as imminent, reminding the audience that the same fundamental conditions that create the pressing issues for the Tsilhqot’in exist here too and throughout BC and Canada. Focusing the talk by posing an internal and reflexive question, he begins by asking, how do settlers “allow ourselves to be comfortable in explaining to ourselves that, while we benefit from rules that recognize our jurisdiction, we do not apply these rules to the lands of the Tsilhqot’in? In other words, how do we explain that the Tsilhqot’in lands come under the jurisdiction of Canada and BC, for after all these people were here before we arrived?”

And through an engaging and impassioned account, covering a range from settler identity to a condemnation of the BC Treaty Process, Michael focused on settler obligations and constructed a hopeful message about the opportunities that lay before us all, concluding:

Here is what I think.  The principles that hold in the treaty relationship are a place to begin discussions with those with whom no treaties are yet made.  That is, we need to accept that the policy contained in the Royal Proclamation ought to apply to them as it did elsewhere in the province and in Canada.  That is, to act justly we need their permission to settle on their lands, and in that regard we need to begin by offering to them the same provisions we offered to the people of Treaty 8 as understood by Chief Desjarlais. But most crucially, it means that we must acknowledge that we need to make an agreement before we do anything else – hence what is wrong with the BC so called treaty process, for it assumes we are ok already.  So I think we ought to begin by offering the same terms as with the treaties: settle on the land, share in responsibility for its care under their guidance, and ensure that no harms come to them in the process.  That is certainly an ambitious project and may take a long time. But it is one we need to begin traveling today.

Michael’s talk was met afterward by forceful statements from Xeni Gwet’in First nations Government councillors Roger William and Lois Williams, and Wild Horse Ranger David Setah. Please have a listen to the talk and have a look at the linked information about Xeni Gwet’in and the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

Class 3 (April 11, 2011) – CBC Archival footage related to the James Bay hydro-electric project:

James Bay Project and the Cree

Next Class, Lecture 4 (April 18, 2011)- CBC archival footage related to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline proposal:

Berger Pipeline Inquiry

Rob Hancock is offering a four week course entitled “Aboriginal Rights, Anthropology, and Development in the North.” He is focusing on the emergence of Aboriginal rights law in the context of Indigenous resistances to resource development in their homelands, and examine the role played by anthropologists in this process. The class begins on Monday, March 21 at Solstice Cafe (715pm).

March 28, 715-915 Introduction and Background: Aboriginal Rights, Land, and Resources, 1763-1973

April 4, 715-915 Aboriginal Rights and Hydroelectric Development in Quebec in the 1970s

April 11, 715-915 Aboriginal Rights and Gas Pipelines in the Northwest Territories in the 1970s

April 18, 715-915 Aboriginal Rights and Resource Development in BC, 1991-2011

The classes are open and free.