“Dubious, bizarre lawyering” nets First Nation federal court rebuke, $2000 fine in anti-TMX challenge
Coastal First Nation resistance to TMX suffered an embarrassing setback after the
“Squamish Nation filed submissions adopting those of Tsleil-Waututh Nation…(but) is not as badly out of compliance,” writes Justice David Stratas in his September 25, 2019 ruling, which notes their filings accuse him of bias and therefore ineligible for a panel that ultimately hears the appeal.
Construction is set to begin on the first section of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
According to the Globe and Mail, Trans Mountain Corp. will begin to lay pipe near Edmonton as the delayed project finally moves towards construction.
The progress could help ease some friction between Alberta and the federal government, although this could once again be constrained should environmentalists begin another campaign to stop pipeline growth.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple the current capacity and allow for more oil to make it to both export markets in Vancouver and refineries in the United States.
Currently, the multiple organizations believe Canada loses from 50-70 million per day as a result of lacking pipeline infrastructure.
Saskatchewan’s Finance Minister Donna Harpauer has said in a 2018 interview with the CBC, that if current discounts continued, her province’s industries would stand to lose about $7.4 billion in revenue.
The recent uproar over the recipient of an Indigenous scholarship has yet to die down, and for good reason, seeing as much of this happened around Metis week and there are plenty of other cases like this that haven’t been called out.
Without any identifiable outward appearance of being Indigenous, 18-year-old Ainsley Whynacht claimed to be Metis and was accepted for The National Union of Public and General Employees (NSGEU) scholarship, which was intended for Indigenous youth.
Right away, it should have been suspicious to the NSGEU that Whynacht claimed to be Metis because Metis people are from the midwest of Canada, not the Maritimes. This doesn’t make her declared heritage an impossibility, but it definitely should have raised questions for the NSGEU.
Whynacht’s mother did not get back to TPM with proof of her daughter’s Indigenous heritage. Two weeks ago she claimed the family has documentation from the Universite de Ste. Anne demonstrating their Indigenous heritage from the Mi’kmaq nation.
It’s odd that when presented with someone that does not appear overly Indigenous the NSGEU would hand her the award without any proper vetting of her heritage. The fact that it never crossed their minds that an actual Indigenous student could be sidelined because an invalid candidate applied is negligence.
It looks like NSGEU knows this themselves. When TPM called them to speak to Les Bush, the person in charge of their scholarship program, we were first told he was out of the office, and when we asked if it was at all possible to get into contact with him, we were flatly told no.
Conservative MP David Yurdiga, when asked for comment by The Post Millennial on the topic of standards for Metis identification, said, “So this is an enormous challenge for the Canadian government obviously when there is funding coming along. And, you know, when you have some groups that don’t have a clear, concise standard, it causes a lot of challenges with distributing grants and funding, which groups get it, which groups don’t.”
Either way the NSGEU fumbled this, awarding the scholarship by merely looking at the application unquestioningly. The form comically asks the applicant to check off whether they are Indigenous or not and nothing more on the subject.
This is equivalent to a police report having a checkbox for whether the report was filed falsely or not. The NSGEU has seemingly never been made aware of the concept of lying and whether or not people like to do that sort of thing for money. The applicant should provide at least some information that would make them plausibly Indigenous.
The lack of verification that goes along with the scholarship meant for Indigenous youth makes it seem as if it was meant more for virtue signalling than a genuine effort to make more educational opportunities open for those who tend not to be given equal opportunities.
The Post Millennial interviewed Robyn Lawson, a Metis activist who has been deeply involved in the Metis community and knows about the lax standards around Indigenous identification.
In the interview, she highlighted the backwards way in which so many people claim to be Metis without any clear evidence confirming their heritage.
“I happened to know that there are several, especially on the Atlantic seaboard, along the maritime region, they have a lot of their departments actively still trying to find Metis settlements in proof of Metis identity out there,” Lawson said. “They’ve never been able to find it. But it doesn’t stop them from first claiming to be Metis and then looking for the proof… that’s probably their busiest fraudulent act; to claim to be a member of a nation that they’re still searching for evidence to substantiate that claim.”
Lawson pointed out that the rise in Metis identification, which has risen in places like Nova Scotia by 125 percent in the last decade, is connected to a 2003 Supreme Court decision, R vs Powley, that outlined five specific steps to identify as Metis. Those steps include aligning with the only officially recognized provincial Metis affiliates under the umbrella of the Metis National Council (MNC).
Her point about identification was further illustrated at her son’s university orientation week.
“In my son’s University Indigenous orientation meeting… there were six kids in that meeting, we parents and the Indigenous justice department staff. So, I’m not shy about asking people: ‘Whose family?’ And, ‘What’s your community?’ There were three answers [that day]. First one, ‘I don’t know, I was told I was Indigenous, so I assumed it’s Metis.’ The second one was similar to that, ‘Yeah. I know my mom or my dad is Metis, but I don’t know from where.’ And the third one said her answer was Mi’kmaq. I said, ‘Oh, Mi’kmaq. My brother married a Mi’kmaq woman out east. What community are you from?’ And she had to look to her dad for the answer. So she looked up at him, and he looked at her, and he turned back to me, and he said New Brunswick, and then I knew what I was dealing with right there… I’m telling you 48 hours later there was a story in the paper about the scholarship she had won, a significant Indigenous scholarship, for Metis leadership. She claimed Mi’kmaq when directly confronted in that meeting,” said Lawson.
Ainsley Whynacht, the NSGEU scholarship recipient, presented a Metis identification card online following the uproar to her Instagram posts joking about how white she is, but the card only raised more questions. It comes from the unrecognized Eastern Woodland Metis community and is not considered legitimate by real Metis.
Regarding the operations of “eastern Metis” groups, Lawson said, “The eastern groups, looking at their actual meeting minutes, which I’ve been privy to through various channels, in every single one of their meetings, the discussion is around, ‘How do we get this government to recognize that we are Indigenous and that we are Metis, and then next on the agenda is, what kind of goodies are we going to get for these cards? So, I can get my gas tax free, and I can go to this store and pay for my groceries tax free with this card.’ Those are the kind of conversations they have. They are never to be seen on the front lines of any Indigenous issue ever.”
Communities like the Eastern Woodland Metis seem to not care that their pursuit of recognition on faulty grounds only goes to watering down Metis culture. The belief that any native blood makes someone a Metis ruins the actual definition of what Metis heritage and culture means. If anyone can claim Metis heritage then it makes a mockery of the special classification for a group of people whose families were wronged in the past.
Despite how it sounds, an Indigenous scholarship is not fundamentally ethnic only, but also cultural. The point of these scholarships should be to reward those who work hard and achieve, despite inadequate educational resources, because it’s Canada’s duty to Indigenous people.
“The bottom line is these awards, whether they’re scholarships, or bursaries or a job opportunity, these awards are meant to lend a hand up, and some of these institutions play a crucial role in their efforts to act on reconciliation. You know, reconciliation requires genuine acts of reparation and supplying the education for Indigenous people. Not only is it an act of reparation and reconciliation, but it’s also an actual obligation in the Indian Act. If any group is going to go to the effort of supporting Indigenous endeavours, it’s incumbent upon them to make sure those awards are going to where they’re intended,” said Lawson.
Many scholarships for Indigenous people turn out to be poorly made affirmative action programs where those who have worked hard to pull themselves up from tough circumstances are skipped over for those who have every advantage and privilege.
Author and associate professor of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University, Darryl Leroux, made a note of the “raceshifting” trend amongst Nova Scotia’s population.
Mr. Leroux argues that ridiculous, lax standards can undermine the preservation of a unique culture. Despite Metis traditionally living in the midwest of Canada, somehow Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of Metis residence, despite one official settlement.
Much of the background of fake Metis communities are documented on the website Raceshifting, and much of the information is taken out of Mr. Leroux’s book, Distorted Decent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, which tracked the legal creation and activities of each community.
If the NSGEU wants to host an indigenous scholarship program, indeed, there should be far more transparent and stricter standards around Indigenous identification. In the case of Ainsley Whynacht, it seems likely an actual Indigenous/Metis student was deprived of a scholarship because of selfish self-identification.
A trial underway in a Nanaimo B.C. courtroom this week is attracting controversy and strong opinions on both sides of the issue, as it forces school officials, the media and the public to reluctantly confront the question of what constitutes “religion” in the public sphere. The case of Candice Servatius v. School District No. 70 (Alberni) is about whether a public school can require children to participate in a spiritual ceremony, or in a ritual that appeals to the supernatural realm.
In September of 2015, Candice Servatius received a letter from the principal of John Howitt Elementary School (JHES) in Port Alberni, B.C., stating that JHES would be hosting a Student/Classroom “Cleansing” performed by a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth, a term used to describe fifteen related First Nation tribes who live on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The school’s letter described in detail how the cleansing ritual would “cleanse” the classroom of “energy” and cleanse the “spirits” of the students. The letter claimed that without cleansing, the classroom and even the furniture would harbour negative “energy” and would not be safe until the “energy” was “released”. Smoke from sage was fanned over the bodies of children, including Mrs. Servatius’ daughter, who was required to participate in this ritual against her will. Several months later, an aboriginal prayer was offered to a “god” at a school assembly that children were required to attend.
Skye Ryan, a reporter with CBC affiliate CHEK news, writes that the practice of Nuu-chah-nulth spirituality is “on trial” and implies that Mrs. Servatius is opposed to aboriginal spirituality. Ms. Ryan’s story largely ignores the court documents, which make it abundantly clear that the only issue on trial is whether public schools can impose spiritual rituals on children in the classroom.
If Mrs. Servatius is successful in her court action, the Nuu-chah-nulth will not lose any freedom to practice their spirituality, ceremonies and rituals, nor will public schools cease to teach about aboriginal history, culture and practices, including aboriginal beliefs. If the court rules in favour of Mrs. Servatius, the only difference will be that children are no longer compelled by the state to be present and participate in spiritual ceremonies, prayers or rituals. This is the only just result in a pluralistic society that includes a wide variety of spiritual beliefs and practices, including the complete absence of such beliefs.
In her story, Ms. Ryan quotes Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers complaining about smudging being banned from schools. But Ms. Sayers herself has given evidence that in Nuu-chah-nulth practice, smudging is always entered into by consent. Neither Mrs. Servatius nor her daughter consented to this young girl participating in the ritual in the classroom.
Another aboriginal leader, Harry Cadwallader, testified that learning about smudging is different than being smudged. Mr. Cadwallader agrees that children can learn about smudging in a number of different ways: “You can be shown a demonstration. You can be shown a video. You can be read a description.” Mr. Cadwallader has testified that “the infusion of aboriginal culture, content, language, history, of understanding, as a methodology to improve the success of aboriginal students and raise awareness of all students about aboriginal people” can be accomplished without compelling children to be smudged against their will. This evidence was entirely absent from Ms. Ryan’s story, although it was publicly available in filed court documents.
Ms. Ryan further reports that the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is a “right-wing” organization, perhaps hoping this might somehow make Ms. Servatius’ claim worth dismissing out of hand. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not a “right-wing” document, and the Justice Centre works to uphold the Charter freedoms of all Canadians, regardless of where on the political spectrum they might reside.
If Ms. Ryan believes that defending freedom of religion (which includes the right not to be compelled to participate in spiritual practices) is “right-wing”, she is fully entitled to express that opinion. But Ms. Ryan should do so by way of an opinion editorial, and not insert her personal beliefs into what is supposed to be a straight news story. As the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines puts it: “We clearly identify news and opinion so that the audience knows which is which”.
The two Justice Centre lawyers in court in Nanaimo this week, Jay Cameron and James Kitchen, were not available to be interviewed for Ms. Ryan’s story, and they referred Ms. Ryan to me, also a lawyer. Ms. Ryan did not contact me, yet claims in her story that “Neither Servatius or her lawyers would be interviewed.” I was, and remain, available to be interviewed, but as of this writing Ms. Ryan has declined to contact me for comment.
Court cases, by definition, involve two competing “sides.” It behooves an objective media to remember that.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which represents Mrs. Servatius in her court action against School District 70.
The Soviets had a term for their minions in the West who advocated for Communism and tried to tear down democratic capitalist nations:
They were “useful” in the sense of doing what the Communists wanted in pushing their message and sowing discord, and they were ‘idiots’ in the sense that they would obviously suffer if Communism had won, and wouldn’t be a part of the “new order.”
And now, the Western world is once again beset by “useful idiots.”
A recent report discussed how US activists initiated a plan in 2008 to crush the Alberta oilsands, and are apparently “claiming victory” as Canada is increasingly divided, the Alberta oil industry struggles, investment flees, projects are delayed, and the energy sector faces existential risk.
Of course, global emissions keep going up.
Because emissions in Communist China continue to surge, with China building loads of new coal plants, both within China and in other nations like Pakistan.
So, what have those foreign-funded activists accomplished?
They’re tearing apart Canada, a democratic nation which already has among the highest environmental standards, redirecting money towards ruthless states like Saudi Arabia, and giving Communist China cover for increasing their emissions as the Communist State builds up their economy, which in turn gives China the wealth to build up their military forces and impose their authoritarian will over a larger and larger section of the planet.
Great job guys…
It seems that this generation’s “useful idiots” are much more successful than the useful idiots of the past, as their effort to destabilize and weaken Western nations like Canada are actually working, while the power of the Communist State grows by the day.
And like the useful idiots used by the Soviets, those who do the bidding—even unwillingly—of Communist China will meet a similar fate if the Communists win.
Do you think China will listen to criticism of energy projects?
Do you think China will give activists any rights?
Do you think China will follow environmental regulations?
Of course not.
The fact is the world is increasingly locked in a battle of two world-views. The democratic capitalist nations vs authoritarian communist China. Anything that hurts one (like dividing Canada and crushing Alberta’s oil industry), benefits the other.
That’s why all freedom-loving Canadians must speak out against the foreign-funded activists seeking to weaken our country and must redirect attention to the true threat posed by Communist China under that country’s current leadership. We must stand up for Alberta’s energy industry, stand up for the interests of Canada, and stand against those who put everything we’ve built at risk.