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Indigenous law

Protecting Pípsell: Standing up Secwépemc law on Aboriginal Day

21 June, 2017

West Coast is proud to ally with the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) in their use of their own laws to determine the future of Pípsell (also known as Jacko Lake and environs), a sacred area threatened by the proposed open pit Ajax mine. Our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund team travelled to Secwépemc territory back in March to support the SSN’s independent environmental assessment of Ajax mine, which rejected the proposed project (read about it here). It was a powerful ceremony. Today, on National Aboriginal Day, we stand with the SSN as they share the video of their ceremony designating Pípsell as a Cultural Heritage Site according to Secwépemc law, protecting this special place for future generations.

Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation celebrates declaring Pípsell a Cultural Heritage Site

Over 30 organizations joined the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) to sign the Declaration of Support for their rejection of the Ajax Mine.

A solemn promise: Indigenous perspectives on the Douglas Treaties

15 March, 2017

West Coast's RELAW Project Lead Maxine Hayman Matilpi shares stories from a recent conference that brought together historians, legal scholars and Indigenous people who are direct descendants of the signatories to the Vancouver Island Treaties (aka Douglas Treaties). The topic spurred rich conversations about the ways Indigenous people view land and resources, as well as what it means to live under these treaties today.

Artwork by Isaac Murdoch.

Alright Vancouver Island peeps. Listen up:

Mni Wiconi: Water is life, more than ever

1 February, 2017

These simple and profound words, “Water is Sacred,” have become a call to action in North Dakota. Since April 2016, thousands of people have gathered there to protect water from “the Black Snake,” the Dakota Access pipeline proposed to bring oil under the Missouri River.

After a year of work on the RELAW project, West Coast's Maxine Hayman-Matilpi reflects on her own relationship and responsibilities to care for the sacred gift of water.

The words on this button have become my mantra: “Water Is Sacred. No Pipelines.” Isaac Murdoch’s image of Thunderwoman – the same image we see on social media, at Standing Rock, at protests encouraging divestment – is doodled into my notebook, on my calendar and emblazoned on my hoodie.

RELAW Project: Summer in review

19 September, 2016

Over the summer, the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) team has been busy working with stories, and travelling to visit with participating Nations about Indigenous laws. The six participating First Nations are looking at creating water policies, marine use plans, environmental codes of ethics, consent regimes, and environmental assessment practices all rooted in their own laws.

This presentation by Articled Student Lindsay Borrows summarizes in photos and stories some of the lessons and activities to date in revitalizing Indigenous laws through the RELAW Project.

 

 

Over the summer, the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) team has been busy working with stories, and travelling to visit with participating Nations about Indigenous laws.

Field notes from the Haida Gwaii Potlatch: Why government and industry should take heed of Indigenous governance decisions

14 September, 2016

I was honoured to have been invited to witness this historic potlatch, Raven Always Sets Things Right, hosted by the Yahgulaanaas/Janaas Raven Clan of Haida Gwaii. I visited Haida Gwaii for the first time just last year, and it left an indelible mark as a very special part of the world, as it does for most who are lucky enough to visit, so I was happy to return.

The potlatch was significant for a number of reasons. The primary work was to remove the hereditary chieftainships of two hereditary chiefs. The hereditary chiefs had signed a support letter for Enbridge’s request for a deadline extension on one of the 209 conditions of its approval in June 2014. No one I spoke to could remember hearing about an act as serious as removing a chieftainship before, although the possibility of the removal of a name is part of the chief naming ceremony itself.  The removal of the hereditary chieftainships in this potlatch needs to be understood by industry and governments as a legitimate and powerful response that undermines the commonly used tactic of cherry picking individuals to support their projects and “divide and conquer” communities.

 

Mug shot: One of the gifts from the potlatch – “Raven Always Sets Things Right”

Yo ho wee
Yo ha wee yo wee yah
Hey hi yo
Ha wee ah wee yah wee yah
Hey hi yo ha wee
Ah wee ah-ha
Ah wee-ee ah wee yah

Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water: The Cheakamus Retreat

20 June, 2016

The Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water (RELAW) Project is a new initiative that aims to deepen First Nations’ capacity to engage in the process of revitalizing, applying and enforcing their own laws to contemporary environmental problems and proactive land and resource decision-making. In this post, Articled Student Lindsay Borrows recounts her powerful learning experiences at the recent 5-day RELAW retreat at the Cheakamus Centre in Squamish Nation Territory.

A meandering stream at the Cheakamus Centre (Photo: Alice William)

Reflections on RELAW: The role of stories in law

17 June, 2016

West Coast is excited to launch the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water (RELAW) project in partnership with the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) at the University of Victoria. RELAW is a pilot project with the aim of supporting First Nations in their process of revitalizing, applying and enforcing Indigenous laws in relation to a contemporary aspect of environmental governance. In this post, Staff Counsel Georgia Lloyd-Smith reflects on her experience researching Secwepemc law with ILRU and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, to provide insight into the work we will be doing in the RELAW project.

West Coast is excited to launch the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water (RELAW) project in partnership with the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) at the University of Victoria.

Learning from the land: Anishinaabe law camp at Walpole Island First Nation

17 May, 2016

Last month, Staff Counsel Hannah Askew traveled with Anishinaabe scholars John Borrows and Heidi Stark to Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario to assist with, and learn from, a four day Anishinaabe law camp. Hannah recounts the lessons she learned from the camp as well as lessons taught to her by Anishinaabe elders. 

Last month at the invitation of Professor Val Waboose and the Windsor Law Faculty, I traveled with Anishinaabe scholars John Borrows and Heidi Stark to Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario to assist with, and learn from, a four-day Anishinaabe law camp.  The camp was organized in part to fulfil Windsor Law’s commitment to implement Recommendation #28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Report which stat

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