Our Home and Native Land

Our Home and Native Land

By Jacquelyn Smith

The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author’s, and are not necessarily shared by the staff and owners of LifeinQuebec.com.

You wake up in the morning to a wrecking ball coming in through your bedroom window. Shocked you leap out of bed to see what is happening. In your housecoat you approach the wreckers.

“What are you doing? This is my house! I didn’t hire you to tear it down!”

The wrecker gets out and says “Sorry we didn’t know there were still people in there! We have orders to rip this house down and drill for oil”.

“This is my house! I haven’t told anyone they could drill for oil.”

Managers are called and lawyers are beckoned. Everyone gets out their contracts, deeds of sale, municipal papers etc. Finally, in the kitchen of your semi demolished house the representative of the oil company gets out a paper with the signature of Stephen Harper dated yesterday, leasing your land for 100 years to the oil company for the amount of 5$ per square metre. The oil company rep politely hands you a cheque for two thousand dollars.

“ You can’t do this! First of all my house is worth way more than two thousand dollars. Second of all the government can’t just sell my land from underneath me without any notice. Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do?”

Your lawyer quietly explains that the government can lease your land for you, according to a new omnibus bill that just passed and has immediate effect.  How can the government do this, you ask yourself? Does this not go against hundreds of years of case law? Do I not have any rights anymore?

This is what Idle No More is about. This is how Idle no more affects you :

On December 5th the Conservative government passed another omnibus bill, Bill C-45, candycodily deemed the “Jobs and Growth Act”. The bill essentially modifies many different existing laws in one fell swoop in a 400-page report that was passed without much revision or discussion.  Bill C-45 removes the protection of many parks, rivers, waterways, not to mention First Nations reserves. The

One of the most contentious changes made by the bill is the one that affects the Navigable Waters Protection Act, one of the country’s oldest pieces of legislation. Bill C-45 removes approximately 99 per cent of protected lakes and rivers. There were virtually millions of protected lakes and rivers in Canada on December 4th, 2012 and there are now 97 lakes 62 rivers and 3 ocean borders. Furthermore bill C-45 will reduce the time that it takes for industry development to get federal approval from six years to two years. Environmental assessments would not have to be done for unprotected lands because they are no longer managed by the federal government. This is a direct attack on Canada’s fresh water supply.

Furthermore, the bill intended to, without consent, give the Minister of Indian affairs power to surrender reserve lands, according to the Idle No More website (http://idlenomore1.blogspot.ca/p/blog-page_17.html ).

That is right, a wrecking ball in your living room, an oil rig in your backyard. By doing this the Harper government has violated articles 18 through 20 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by allowing the government power to make direct changes to reserve lands without the consent of First Nations communities.

This is a new wave of colonisation. This affects all Canadians. This affects all North Americans. This is why Chief Theresa Spence is on a hunger strike. She wants to speak to Harper on a nation to nation level about the changes he is imposing on First Nations peoples, their land and our country. She wants him to respect his obligations under international law, even though he did not do so with Kyoto.

First Nations peoples have lived on reserved lands for hundreds of years. Many of these reserves are desperately poor with terrible living conditions, however many Native leaders have seen themselves as environmental stewards who see themselves as protectors from mining, forestry and fishing industries. First Nations people and protected areas are the reason that Canada has so much unspoiled wilderness and clean water. Without them we would not be the true North strong and free.

Bill C-45 is a direct attack on all Canadians, our land, our way of life. Stephen Harper has sold the oil sands to China, has taken the reserves from the First Nations the next stop is your backyard.

Please help us stop the wrecking ball.

You can join us in protest at Carré d’Youville on January 11th 2012 at noon.

Bring signs, photos or your casseroles.

At the time of writing, Jacquelyn Smith is a law student at University Laval. She has spent many years working in parks in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. She is not of aboriginal descent.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Jacquelyn Smith

Jacquelyn Smith was born and raised in Hamilton. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Developement from the University of Guelph and is currently studying Law at Université Laval. Jacquelyn Smith lives in Quebec City.


  1. Farnell Morisset
    Farnell Morisset 3 January, 2013, 23:37

    Excellent article. Just excellent.

  2. auntiekay
    auntiekay 11 January, 2013, 14:40

    Great article, and I’ll pass it around to friends and family. Sorry I heard of the protest on carré d’Youville too late. Could you keep us posted on other activities, actoins, protests…. within the movement? Thank you!

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