The 192-member nations of the U.N. General Assembly passed the declaration wth 143 votes in favor and 11 abstentions. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand claimed it gave excessive property and legal powers.

The UN declaration of rights for indigenous peoples states that “indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”

That could potentially put in question most of the land ownership in countries, such as those that opposed the declaration, whose present population is largely descended from settlers who took over territory from previous inhabitants. A balancing clause inserted at a late stage in the text says nothing in it can authorize or encourage “any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity” of states. That was not good enough for the four objectors, notably Canada, where the issue has become a political football. Many of Canada’s 1 million aboriginal and Inuit people live in overcrowded, unsanitary housing and suffer high rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide (Worsnip 2007).

Worsnip, Patrick. 2007. “U.N. Assembly backs indigenous peoples’ rights.” Reuters. September 13.

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The Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods in Europe coincide with the period of colonization in what was called the New World. When we admire artistic creations from these periods how can be also remember colonial activities and their implications for everyday life in 2007.

Freeman (2000a 127) describes one of the distant relatives of the 17th century as a fur trader, interpreter and man of public affairs whose influence increased in 1643 with the formation of the United Colonies of New England (Plymouth, Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Haven). His name was connected with almost every Indian transaction on record.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Freeman, Victoria. 2000. Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Freeman, Victoria. 2000a. “Ambassador to the Indians.”Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. pp.127-147.

A tiny community prevented an even greater tragedy by rescuing Queen of the North ferry survivors (March 22, 2006) in their own boats. Months later the hamlet has only met with broken promises. The new search and rescue vessel turns out to be a lifeboat with a putt-putt motor, the upwelling of the 200,000 litres of oil threaten their waters.

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Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Nanuq of the North II: Animal Rights vs Human Rights.” Speechless. Uploaded January 3, 2007.

Finally in December 2006 Bush blinks, but why now? The Bush administration took advantage of the way in which all eyes turn towards Santa’s North Pole, where big-eyed talking polar bears, reindeer and seals live in harmony, to announce that they would save these creatures from Nanook of the North. Is this for the environment or for votes? See story.

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Nanook (nanuq Inuktitut for polar bear) was the name of the Eskimo hunter captured on film in the first documentary ever produced, Robert Flaherty’s (1922?) Nanook of the North, — still shown in film studies survey courses. Nanook the Stone Age-20the century hunter became an international legend as a lively, humourous and skillful hunter of polar bears, seals and white fox who tried to bite into the vinyl record Flaherty had brought with him. (The real “Nanook” died of tuberculosis as did countless Inuit from small communities ravaged by one of the worst epidemic’s of tuberculosis on the planet.)

On August 13, 1942 in Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that many animals with cute eyes could actually talk and therefore shared human values. Nanook and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

The White House has once again come to the rescue of these vulnerable at-risk animals. (There was an entire West Wing episode in which a gift of moose meat was rejected by all staff since it came from a big-eyed-talking-animal. See Ejesiak and Flynn-Burhoe (2005) for more on how the urban debates pitting animal rights against human rights impacted on the Inuit.) Who would ever have suspected that the Bush administration cared so much about the environment that they would urge an end to the polar bear hunt, already a rare phenomenon to many Inuit since their own quotas protected them?

When I lived in the north the danger for polar bears did not reside in the hearts of hunters. Nanuq the polar bear who could not talk was starving. He hung out around hamlets like Churchill, Baker Lake or Iqaluit, looking for garbage since this natural habitat was unpredicatable as the climate changed. Some people even insisted that there was no danger from the polar bear who had wandered into town since he was ’skinny.’ That did not reassure me! I would have preferred to know that he was fat, fluffly and well-fed. Polar bears die from exhaustion trying to swim along their regular hunting routes as ice floes they used to be able to depend on melted into thin air literally. They die, not because there are not enough seals but because they need platform ice in the right seasons. That platform ice is disappearing. They die with ugly massive tumours in them developed from eating char, seals and other Arctic prey whose bodies are riddled with southern toxins that have invaded the pristine, vulnerable northern ecosystem. Nanuq is dying a slow painful death. Nanuq is drowning. Although he doesn’t sing he is a canary for us all.

Climate change and southern industrial toxins affect the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic first. The Inuit claimed in 2003,“Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit .”This is why Sheila Watt-Cloutier laid a law suit against the administration of the United States of America. Now the handful of Job-like Inuit who managed to survive the seal hunt fiasco of the 1980s and are still able hunt polar bear, will have yet another barrier put between them and the ecosystem they managed and protected for millennia. When I see Baroque art and read of the Enlightenment, I think Hudson’s Bay and the whalers in the north. It wasn’t the Inuit who caused the mighty leviathan to become endangered. Just how enlightened are we, the great grandchildren of the settlers today? Who is taking care of our Other grandparents?

Since the first wave of Inuit activists flooded the Canadian research landscape fueled by their frustrations with academic Fawlty Towers they morphed intergenerational keen observation of details, habits of memory, oral traditions and determination with astute use of artefacts and archives to produce focused and forceful research. When Sheila Watt-Cloutier representing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) was acknowledged with two awards in one year for work done to protect the environment, I wondered how many cheered her on.

I don’t cheer so much anymore. I am too overwhelmed, too hopeless to speak. I myself feel toxic, perhaps another pollutant from the south — my name is despair. I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those activists who still have courage to continue. For myself, I feel like the last light of the whale-oil-lit kudlik is Flicktering and there is a blizzard outside.


From wikipedia entry Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected[1][4] International Chair of ICC, a position she would hold until 2006[1]. Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she has launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.[5]

Digitage elements:

Caspar David Friedrich’s (1824) The Sea of Ice
Tujjaat Resolution Island, abandoned, DEW line station DINA Northern Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) web site
My photo of ice floes in Charlottetown harbour, March 2000
A section of my acrylic painting entitled Nukara (2000)

Selected Bibliography

Eilperin, Juliet. (2006). ““U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.” Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page A01

Gertz, Emily. 2005. The Snow Must Go On. Inuit fight climate change with human-rights claim against U.S. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. 26 Jul 2005.

The Guardian. 2003. ““Inuit to launch human rights case against the Bush Administration.”

DEW line contaminated sites in Nunavut.,3604,1104241,00….….

This will be updated from EndNote. If you require a specific reference please leave a comment on this page.

Creative Commons Canadian Copyright 2.5 BY-NC-SA.

Moratorium on what some call Canadian ‘Blood Diamonds’? De Beers Canada benefit from government stalling tactics on land claims to extract valuable raw resources leaving behind environmental devastation. Many of the 45,000 Cree and Ojibwa in NAN region live in fourth world conditions in post-RCAP Canada. How many more NAN youth will choose suicide? Let’s not forget Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Kash’s still unsolved water problem.
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For more reading check out my Customized Search Engine on Nishnawbe Aski Nation on Swicki

Richard Nixon noted, “[In 1994] China’s economic power makes US lectures about human rights imprudent. Within a decade it will make them irrelevant. Within two decades it will make them laughable (Huntington 1997:195).” Rural norther women (2006) in southern SEZ, earn pennies. Profits shared by retailers, Tianjin, Klein, Nautica, Chaps, Feniger

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Challenges of Human Rights within a Geopolitics of Exclusion

Originally presented as part of: Flynn, Burhoe, M. 2004. “Human Rights Comprehensive,” Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.


The 1993 Vienna Human Rights Conference revealed the ideological schism between the Western bloc of liberal democracies embodied in European and North American countries and diverse ideologies of fifty non-Western countries[1] which the West lumped together as Asian-Islamic. In spite of this, cultural relativism was rejected in favour of the universality of human rights. At this same conference Islamic and Chinese delegates emphatically stated that the universality of human rights was not questioned. But as China’s economic clout increases so does the demand for a shift in the dominant western-centred human rights lexicon to include Asian values [2] defined traditional knowledge as a collective means of re-interpreting a rapidly changing world. Falk suggested an “alternative to the false universalism of globalization in the form of an intercivilizational world order that combines the ecological and biological conditions of unity with the civilizational[3] realities of difference and self-definition (Falk 2000b:161). This radical shift recognizes the emergence of civilizational identities which challenges the dominant statist identities (2000b:147). Another term that is used to describe this geopolitics of inclusion is multi-civilizational dialogical relationship. An international globalization research centre, Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research (TODA) is developing a multi-civilizational conceptual framework focusing on the unity and variety of conditions and institutions for global democracy in an age of globalization and regionalization

[1](including Communist Cuba, Buddhist Myanmar, Confucian Singapore, Vietnam, North Korea, China, Muslim Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya)

[2] At a recent conference on Governance Self-Government and Legal Pluralism Premier Okalik acknowledged the challenges of transforming a society afflicted with inherited social wrongs. Governance for the new territory is based on traditional Inuit values respected for the full weight of the history it reflects, as a proactive means engaging the transition. Inuit culture remained intact until relatively recently unlike other indigenous peoples in North America. Okalik described one of the pivotal values of Inuit governance resides in unique form of communication based on listening to others while never losing one’s own horizon in a process that is as complex in execution as it is simple in expressing. In this way Nunavut governance evolved using the best of the Westminster style of government but with unique Inuit traits that reflect Inuit culture and knowledge Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. The application of IQ is contemporary and continues to evolve although it is steeped in tradition [3] Falk traced the roots of the civilizational explorations to Braudel

Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA License

These items placed in a linear chronology of events are gleaned from historical documents, reports, testimonies, witnesses produced as part of the largest most comprehensive participatory action research project undertaken in Canada, the Report on The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996). They are but a fragment of a thorough research project. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
I am currently working on a more complete social history of Inuit.

Selected Social Histories Including Relations Between Settler Populations and First Nations, Inuit and Métis of Canada

1763. This “can best be done by a new Royal Proclamation, issued by the Queen as Canada’s head of state and the historical guardian of the rights of Aboriginal peoples, and presented to the people of Canada in a special assembly called for the purpose. The proclamation would set out the principles of the new relationship and outline the laws and institutions necessary to turn those principles into reality. It would not supplant but support and modernize the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which has been called Aboriginal peoples’ Magna Carta. (RCAP 1996)”.

1930s-1960s. “The use of the term ‘colony’ may sound odd, but it originated with civil servants who entered public service in the 1930s and felt they were doing work similar to the pioneering on the prairies of the nineteenth century. The term disappeared when they retired in the 1960s. See Tester and Kulchyski, Tammarniit (cited in note 134), p. 186. RCAP” ” Tester and Kulchyski, Tammarniit (cited in note 134), p. 111. The authors also caution that the term ‘experiment’ must be seen in the context of the administrative culture of the day. The civil servants involved in northern administration considered that they were opening up the North “in a manner parallel to what had happened on the Prairies following Confederation —” (p. 119). Experiment, at least in this context, had noble rather than sinister connotations.” RCAP. Canadian cultural policies Aboriginal affairs Inuit history.

1941. S. Arneil, “Investigation Report on Indian Reserves and Indian Administration, Province of Nova Scotia” (Ottawa: Department of Mines and Resources, Indian Affairs Branch, August 1941). RCAP.

1952. Contrary “to the perceptions of administrators at the time, one of the last residents of Takush, Robert Walkus, Sr., says the community was active and healthy before the relocation. Many people were employed in the fishery, and there were 30 boats, compared to the eight owned by community members in 1994. “I never had trouble finding any work. There was employment all year round. We never were dependent on the Government for anything. We were well off.” Robert Walkus, Sr., quoted in Franka von Specht, “A Gillnetter’s Journey on Land and Sea”, Awa’k’wis 5/7 (July 1994), p. 3. RCAP”. Chief G. Walkus, letter to Indian Agent, Alert Bay, 28 September 1952, quoted in Emery and Grainger, “You Moved Us Here”. RCAP.

1952. “NAC RG22, volume 254, file 40-8-1, volume 2 (1949-1952), “The Future of the Canadian Eskimo”, 15 May 1952, p. 1. RCAP”.

1952-62. Clancy, Peter, (1987), “The Making of Eskimo Policy in Canada, 1952-62: The Life and Times of the Eskimo Affairs Committee”, Arctic 40:3 (September 1987):191. See also Frances Abele, “Canadian Contradictions: Forty Years of Northern Political Development”, Arctic 40:4 (December 1987), pp. 310-320. We also discuss the development of northern policy administration as it affects Aboriginal people in the North in Volume 4, Chapter 6.” RCAP.

1953. “NAC RG22, volume 254, file 40-8-1, part 4, Minutes of a Meeting held at 10:00 a.m., August 10, 1953, in Room 304, Langevin Block, to Discuss the Transfer of Certain Eskimo Families from Northern Quebec to Cornwallis and Ellesmere Islands. RCAP”.

1956. NAC RG85, volume 1514, file 1012-1, part 6, Minutes of the Seventh Meeting of the Committee on Eskimo Affairs, 28 May 1956, pp. 9-10, quoted in Tester and Kulchyski, Tammarniit, p. 310. RCAP.

1958. “NAC RG22, volume 335, file 40-8-14/1, Graham Rowley to Gordon Robertson, Memorandum for the Deputy Minister, 22 January 1958, quoted in Marcus, “Inuit Relocation Policies”. 161 NAC RG22, volume 1511, file 1000-179/2, R.A.J. Phillips to Gordon Robertson, Memorandum for the Deputy Minister, 15 January 1958, quoted in Marcus, “Inuit Relocation Policies”. RCAP”.

1958. NAC RG85, volume 1382, file 1012-13, part 5, Minutes of the meeting held November 18 [1958] at 10:30 a.m., in the conference room to discuss resource studies for the proposed relocation of Eskimos, p. 1, quoted in Tester and Kulchyski, Tammarniit, p. 319. RCAP.

1960. “Northwest Territories Archives (NwTA), N92-023, Alex Stevenson Papers, Box 10, Confidential Memorandum to the Director: Relocation of Eskimo Groups in the High Arctic, from C.M. Bolger, Administrator of the Arctic 15 November 1960.” RCAP.

1964. Diamond Jenness, Eskimo Administration: II, Canada, Technical Paper No. 14 (Montreal: Arctic Institute of North America, 1964), p. 58. RCAP.

1968. RCAP, High Arctic Relocation (cited in note 1), p. 18. The Hudson Bay Company’s post manager’s influence is alluded to in an economic survey written in the late 1960s that touches upon the [relocation] and the people’s unhappiness, though with little empathy: The Eskimo found rough ice choking the harbour, which made sea mammal hunting difficult. The Hudson’s Bay Company Manager dispersed half the Eskimos to Croker Bay. The Cape>Dorset and Pangnirtung Eskimos disliked the long winter period of darkness. The more superstitious of the Eskimo were also fearful during the dark period —The Hudson’s Bay Company closed the post due to poor ice conditions and moved the Eskimos to Arctic Bay. (Don Bissett, “Northern Baffin Island: an area economic survey”, volume 2 of the Northern Baffin Island Report [Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Industrial Division, November 1968], p. 36.) 144 RCAP, High Arctic Relocation, p. 18. RCAP.

1970s. The large project proposals of the 1970s, such as the James Bay hydroelectric power development and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, galvanized Aboriginal peoples across the North. They organized to pressure governments to halt or regulate the projects. One result of this activity was the establishment of the comprehensive claims negotiation process, which was intended to achieve in modern times what the treaties had achieved (at least in part) in the past: secure and peaceful access to northern resources by those interested in developing them, and the regulation of land and water use so that Aboriginal hunters, trappers and fishers, and industrial developers, could coexist. A second result of land-use conflicts in the 1970s was the introduction of regulatory and review processes, such as the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Process.124 See The North RCAP 1996.

1979. Two “large collections of potlatch regalia were returned to the communities of Alert Bay and Cape Mudge in British Columbia. They were housed in museums built specifically to receive them and financed by the federal government. Repatriation can be a deeply spiritual and powerful experience, as indicated in the Peigan Nation response to repatriation of their cultural materials.” RCAP.

1983. The 1983 publication of “Native Children and the Child Welfare System, prepared for the Canadian Council on Social Development by Patrick Johnston, sent shock waves through child welfare and government systems, particularly those involved in First Nations child welfare.16 It presented documentary evidence that First Nations people had good grounds for protesting against the massive involvement of child welfare agencies in removing children from their families and communities” (RCAP 1996).

1988. The “Lubicon Lake Cree organized a boycott of The Spirit Sings, the cultural showcase of the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Museums were asked not to lend objects for the display, and many people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, refused to attend. The boycott did a great deal to raise awareness of the issues, and as a result of the conflict, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) formed a task force with a mandate to “develop an ethical framework and strategies for Aboriginal Nations to represent their history and culture in concert with cultural institutions”.6 The task force report sets out guiding principles, policies and recommendations on repatriation and calls for the creation of new relationships to serve the needs of Aboriginal people and the interests of Canadian cultural and heritage institutions. (See Appendix 6A to this chapter for excerpts from the report.)” RCAP.

1990. “Janet Mancini Billson, “Opportunity or Tragedy: The Impact of Canadian Resettlement Policy on Inuit Families”, American Review of Canadian Studies, 20:2 (Summer 1990), p. 192.” RCAP.

1996. The “Report on The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was published with findings that the damage due to a 150-year-old distorted relationship between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal community in Canada and a call for reconciliation moving towards a renewed relationship of mutual recognition and respect, sharing and responsibility. “We were told many times during our mandate that most Canadians know little of Aboriginal life and less of Aboriginal history. Information in school curricula is limited. Media coverage is often unsatisfactory. Few governments, agencies and organizations promote awareness of Aboriginal issues among members, employees and colleagues. Yet without mutual understanding, a renewed relationship is impossible. Part of the answer is information. We recommend a number of steps to increase and improve the quality of information about Aboriginal people and their concerns. But information alone will not break down walls of indifference and occasional hostility. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people need many more chances to meet each other face to face and learn about one another. We urge Canadians to become involved in a broad and creative campaign of public education. Our report can be a starting point – a basis for study groups, lectures, meetings and exchanges, organized by churches and unions, schools and hospitals, local businesses and national corporations, about what they can do to understand and accommodate Aboriginal people and their concerns. Remaining passive and silent is not neutrality – it is support for the status quo (RCAP 1996).”

1998. A Teaching Manual entitled Aulajaaqtuta: Curriculum of empowerment was published by the Nunavut Divisional Education Councils. Sheila Levy was one of the organisers behind the project. The bibliography did not mention the RCAP report on Education. No Inuit references were cited at all although the report used a word in Inuktitut in its title.


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