First Nations: Fair shake in energy development & mining

once again we look to our brothers and sisters of the first nations of canada to point out the real way forward for all who share, to varying degrees, this land of australia.

like the history of the world wide relationships between dominant cultures and the original inhabitants of the stolen lands (treaties were really of little value) ours too has been one of colonialist subjugation of our cultures, languages, and even our very existence.

certainly the theft of our lands, rivers and seas, along with all of the resources therein, has been universal. it has happened to all original tribes in so many countries. the world is still ruled by distinct cultures only now we describe them as distinct countries or sovereign states. but as we know only too well those distinctions are still very very tribal in their nature as is exampled by europe and the middle east. regardless of how impure the tribe may be now. now it is also more based on nationalism and the claim to a divine right of existence, such as america and isreal.

currently the canadian first nations do have some treaties that allow them to not only own some of their traditional lands but also some resources of those lands and the seas. the maori are another example of this tribal ownership owning large tracts of forests and some 53% of the fishing fleets of aotearoa. there are of course also further examples.

we aborigines however own very little. i purposely leave our torres strait islanders out of this equation for several reasons. eddie mabo won his case in june 1992 for ongoing rights of ownership to his island of mer and this was spread to the other torres strait islands as well. after they killed off the criminal concept of 'terra nullius' they remain in a far better social position than we do for the rest of australia. they have won their rights to their islands and to the seas around them. they also conduct their day to day affairs under the torres strait regional authority that allows them a level of autonomy. aborigines have no such access to such an authority and our land clams are a sick joke. it appears that all of australia's resources are on the mainland and tasmania.

their greed for those resources has lasted as long as their invasion of our lands. first came the land itself and its fresh waters then the special metals and so on up to the present day. the current destruction of our lands in the pilbara and the Kimberly's for iron ore and its multi billion dollar profits is naught but a travesty of justice. who will manage the so-called share for the traditional owners of these lands? from what i can ascertain it will be left to the wa government to 'manage' it on their behalf. already they have stated that they will build houses, schools, clinics, etc, for the aborigines. civic structures that are supplied to white communities regardless of their remoteness. why should we pay for our civic needs when other communities do not? governments of all persuasions simply spend our monies with gay abandon even building roads to the mine sites with our money.

just recently our social justice commissioner mick gooda complained to the gillard government on using mining royalties to pay for the long-term leases of up to 99 years as compensation to the owners as 'outrageous'. the money comes from the aboriginal benefits account that the aba holds and distributes the mining royalties paid to aboriginal people in the northern territory. this misuse and fraud of our money is nothing new, of course. the howard government continually dipped into the $40 million deaths in custody fund along with dipping into the keating initiated fund to purchase land for those aborigines who no longer had claim to their lands. howard used the dollars taken to fight in court land claims and also the claims of the stolen generations. he firmly believed that to use the money in such circumstances was ok as it was being used to settle aboriginal issues. krudd and gillard merely continue the same cynical practices.

aborigines have known since the invasion that whilst some non-aborigines can be trusted, even liked, white governments over the centuries cannot be so treated. too much use and abuse by governments only allows the breastplaters to become their obsequious 'leaders'.

i think it was albert einstien who stated that insanity is repeating the same failed schemes and experiments and expecting a different outcome. this however the practice of all governments because their bottom line is not social justice for those that they rule but to only accept full and complete assimilation into their alien society. it is my belief that whilst some have and others remain fence-sitters, the greater majority of our 517,000 odd peoples do not. up to the 1950's australia was sycophantic to 'mother england', for the next 50 years we were a sad mixture of royalists and republicans whilst since then our sycophancy is now deeply in the embrace of the usa, much to the chagrin of the royalists.

it is time for the governments of this country to bring about change by seriously partaking of a brain enema. a complete wash-out of their colonial and capitalist synapses' that would allow them to be able to accept our full invasion history and the absolute requirement for real compensation. such compensation would include, but not be restricted to, sovereignty, treaty(ies) and social justice. i would direct their gaze and thoughts to the krudd government signed un declaration on aboriginal rights as the first course of such a debate feast.

the human rights crimes against the traditional owners and their descendants continuous without contrition of any kind. when non-aborigines suffer hurt, pain and other trauma they are compensated. why are we not compensated? why are the child migrants stolen from england not compensated? all governments are cowards with the truth and prefer their monied consciences.

the proposed change to the constitution, whether in the preamble or its body, must be fought for but if change does occur it changes little if our full rights are not also recognised. chief shawn atleo states it more clearly.

we know that their are still many battles to be won but we must win the invasion war.

if you don't fight - you lose.


Ray Jackson
Indigenous Social Justice Association

Harnessing the 'Indigenous Potential'

National Chief Shawn Atleo
Assembly of First Nations

Shawn Atleo National Chief, Assembly of First Nations The Mark News July 13th 2011

First Nations deserve a fair shake in the development of energy and mining resources.

This is a time of enormous potential for indigenous peoples in Canada and around the globe – a time when respectful energy and mining development could be a key tool in helping our peoples and nations reach their full potential.

Across North America, there are unprecedented opportunities to develop resources on indigenous lands in a responsible and sustainable manner, and many First Nations in Canada are using these opportunities to build and rebuild their nations, build skills and capacities for their people, and build up their economies. They are creating thriving communities in which their people can live, work, and grow.

With the reality of climate change and the prospects of green energy, there is a growing global demand for natural resources and energy. This creates an opportunity for us to shift the view from what is too often seen as the “indigenous problem” to one of “indigenous potential.”

In Canada, First Nations citizens can add over $400 billion to the economy by 2026 if we close the education and labour-force gap between First Nations and other Canadians. As the fastest and largest growing segment of Canada’s population, with almost half of our people under the age of 25, First Nations citizens in Canada could fill the looming labour shortage created by Canada’s aging, retiring population.

By increasing and improving the collective understanding of indigenous rights, responsibilities, and opportunities in relation to resource development, we can, and will, create the space for indigenous citizens, communities, and economies to thrive. These are the factors that recently brought together more than 800 indigenous leaders and citizens and representatives from government and industry from around the world in Niagara Falls for the first-ever International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining.

The three-day summit, hosted by the Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians, is just one of the many efforts underway to transform the relationship between indigenous peoples and the rest of the world. The summit was a chance for all the key players to identify and discuss effective approaches to energy and resource development, keeping in mind the necessity for approaches that respect indigenous rights and treaties. Through this – and through other relationship-building approaches – we will continue to share experiences and challenges, answer questions, and develop best practices that will eventually lead to increased recognition, respect, partnerships, and prosperity for all.

More and more, First Nations citizens in Canada are taking their rightful place as leaders and active participants in the economy in ways that benefit our peoples, our communities, and our collective future. While there are good examples of effective engagement and agreements between industry and First Nations, there are also too many bad examples. This is our chance to work together to eliminate the bad examples. I have said, recently, that this could be our new fur trade. Indigenous peoples in Canada were essential to the fur trade. We were active participants, providing knowledge and insight to traders, and the traders, in turn, respected our right to our resources, lands, and territories.

First Nations are not opposed to development, but we do not believe in development at any cost. We continue to advocate for the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principle of free, prior, and informed consent before any development occurs. That means consulting and accommodating First Nations prior to development. Our mantra is: “Engage early and engage often.” This is necessary to establish the relationships required to build effective partnerships and agreements between First Nations, governments, and industry.

As stewards of the land, as fathers and mothers, and as business people and community leaders, indigenous peoples in Canada have a responsibility to our ancestors to fulfill their vision. This is a vision of strong, healthy communities that are thriving in our languages, cultures, and economies. With this knowledge and respect for our ancestors and Elders, we continually seek an important balance – living and learning according to their wisdom while gaining the knowledge and support we need to fulfill our roles and responsibilities for future generations.

Those who attended the International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining brought with them their best ideas and best practices. We announced the creation of a First Nations Virtual Institute on Energy and Mining, which will serve as an online tool for sharing information, experience, and data. And everyone who participated agreed we must gather again soon to maintain momentum on this important matter.

We have shown that we can build on existing successes, learn from our challenges, and recognize opportunities for indigenous peoples to work together and lead the way based on the original relationships set out in treaties and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We can transform these relationships in ways that strengthen our citizens, communities, and economies. This is a win-win situation for everyone. By raising the collective literacy around energy and mining development and the rights of indigenous peoples, we will unleash the full potential and energy of our people in a way that strengthens all of us.