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Chris Selley: Ottawa hands Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs total victory, while band members lose

After months of conjecture and leaks of uncertain veracity, Wet’suwet’en members finally got a chance last week to see what their hereditary chiefs had agreed with the British Columbia and federal governments with respect to control over their ancestral lands. The hereditary chiefs are selling it hard.

“You will be the first Indigenous Nation in Canada to have recognition of your Aboriginal title over your territory by agreement,” they boasted in a backgrounder document explaining the memorandum of understanding. In return, they added, the signatory federal and British Columbia governments got “absolutely nothing.”

“Canada and B.C. recognize the Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by the Wet’suwet’en houses under their system of government,” reads the first paragraph of the memorandum of understanding. Perhaps that’s suitable for framing. But the nature of those rights and title is still to be negotiated over many months. Excluding titles and signatures, the memorandum consists of one page; the landmark 1999 Nisga’a agreement, the first modern treaty signed in B.C. for a century, has 252.

This is a massive undertaking. To wit: “Areas of jurisdiction that will need to be addressed include… child and family wellness; water; Wet’suwet’en national reunification strategy; wildlife; fish; land use planning; lands and resources; revenue sharing, fair and just compensation, economic component of Aboriginal title; informed decision making; and such other areas as the Wet’suwet’en propose.”

“In some cases the jurisdiction that is transferred… will be exclusive, and in some cases it will be shared with Canada or B.C.”

None of the jurisdiction will be transferred until “specifics on how Aboriginal and Crown titles interface have been addressed,” or until “clarity” is achieved on the “Wet’suwet’en governance structures, systems, and laws.”

All of that is supposed to happen within 12 months. It’s more likely Donald Trump and Joe Biden will walk together on the moon.

In the meantime, the memorandum has precisely zero immediate effect on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project — which is odd, because the controversy over that pipeline is the only reason this memorandum exists. It was what forced government ministers to the table… and yet what they’ve come up with solves nothing.

It’s more likely Donald Trump and Joe Biden will walk together on the moon

In theory, there’s no bad time to sit down and hammer out longstanding disagreements. But this conflict has introduced Canadians to a tragically divided community with a uniquely dysfunctional governance structure that everyone agrees needs reform — including the hereditary chiefs, at least according to the memorandum, to the point of requiring a “national reunification strategy.”

In opposing the pipeline the hereditary chiefs are at loggerheads with the elected band councils and, as far as anyone can tell, a solid majority of Wet’suwet’en members. They have stripped pro-pipeline hereditary chiefs of their titles and installed anti-pipeline replacements. They did not keep promises — echoed by provincial and federal politicians — to at least run the memorandum of understanding by the rank and file. They wouldn’t even distribute draft copies. Now Wet’suwet’en members are supposed to believe identical promises that they’ll be kept in the loop going forward.

Understandably, then, many of them see this memorandum as fruit of a poison tree, and a rotten foundation on which to build a new future. “If (the negotiation) goes ahead you’ll see more separation within the nation and they’re already separating clans and clan members, and houses,” Gary Naziel, a hereditary subchief, told Canadian Press.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary subchief Gary Naziel.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press/File

“We’re not understanding what is the rush here,” elected chief Maureen Luggi told CBC — a sentiment Naziel echoed. “We sat here for 30 years already, waiting and talking about it,” Naziel said. “We can wait another year or two. It’s not going to hurt anything.”

Indeed, from the average Wet’suwet’en member’s point of view, there is no hurry at all. The logical thing would be to fix the governance structure, heal the wounds that need healing, and then undertake these monumental negotiations.

But for the governments involved, this wasn’t about offering the Wet’suwet’en a better future. It was about putting out a fire: A group of Mohawks thousands of kilometres away in eastern Ontario had blockaded CN’s main line in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs; and the Ontario Provincial Police, armed with an injunction demanding the blockade end, refused to lift a finger.

Somebody had to get screwed, and it was the rank-and-file Wet’suwet’en

Something had to give. Somebody had to get screwed, and it was the rank-and-file Wet’suwet’en. For no good reason whatsoever, the hereditary chiefs now hold all the keys to their future. It’s an appalling and appallingly predictable result.

“I don’t see why the government gave them this, because this has got nothing to do with what the protests across Canada started from,” chief Dan George of Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation told CBC. “Those issues are not resolved. They can set up roadblocks again and do it again, and that’s what I’m worried about.”

If negotiations don’t go well, that might well prove to be a prescient remark. But for now, the hereditary chiefs’ victory is total: They have every reason to stay the course. The message to other groups, however, is clear: If you want to advance your cause, make friends with the Ontario Mohawks. They pretty much run the country.

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Members of Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh appealed to Tural Ganjaliyev

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 25

By Samir Ali – Trend:

Chairman of the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, Tural Ganjaliyev, has responded to the appeal of the Armenian community, Ganjaliyev told Trend on March 25.

Ganjaliyev noted that he was concerned about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Recently, a number of members of the Armenian community (names were not disclosed for security reasons) of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, turning to me as an elected representative, informed about the increase in the number of people infected with acute respiratory infection, pneumonia in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the deplorable state of the health infrastructure, lack of tests, lack of medical personnel, expressed concern that Armenia and the illegal regime are concealing the cases of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) from the population,” the chairman noted.

“As an elected representative, I urge the Armenian community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to strictly observe personal hygiene rules, such as self-isolation, social distance to protect against coronavirus. I am sure that after the end of the Armenian occupation, the Azerbaijani state will restore the health infrastructure in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of our country and both communities will use the capabilities of a medical system meeting modern standards,” Ganjaliyev said.

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EU members back Greek migrant crackdown

Brussels (AFP) – European Union member states stood squarely behind Greece on Wednesday in its effort to secure its frontier against migrants arriving from Turkey, despite questions over its legality.

The United Nations refugee agency has warned that Greece’s suspension of asylum claims — in the face of a new wave of migrants and refugees — has no legal basis.

But top EU officials, who visited Greece and its border on Tuesday, nevertheless offered Athens their full solidarity and a 700-million-euro package of support for border security.

There, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, praised Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, going so far as to call Greece Europe’s “shield” against the influx.

On Wednesday, ministers from the 27 member states met in Brussels and defended their partner’s actions, as EU capitals warned Turkey not to use refugees as a political tool — an accusation quickly rejected in Ankara.

“I trust the Greek authorities to comply with Greek and European law,” said Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. “Now we need full support for Greece.

“We must also remember that this is not a random humanitarian crisis, but a guided and accentuated action by Turkey against Europe. Greece is protecting the EU against it,” he said.

The ministers were expected to discuss how they could help by reinforcing the frontier and providing a safe harbour for some of the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children.

But while several said they might send border guards, few were ready to commit to accepting more refugees.

– ‘Protecting our borders’ –

Nehammer’s German colleague Horst Seehofer agreed that Greece was facing a particular challenge at this time, which justified its decision to stop allowing arrivals to make asylum claims.

“Yes, it’s in order, given the situation. Greece is doing a very important job for all of Europe, protecting our borders,” he said as he arrived at the European Council.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned that Turkey’s decision to let the migrants leave had confronted the bloc with “a perhaps historic moment” to secure its frontiers.

Switzerland is not an EU member, but migration minister Mario Gattiker attended the talks to represent a neighbour and a member of the Schengen free travel zone.

He said his country could send around a dozen border guards to support the force Brussels is putting together to help Greece push back migrants and refugees from Turkey.

Luxembourg’s interior and foreign minister Jean Asselborn was more cautious on the legal aspects. Europe should help Greece so that “international law is not trampled on”, he said.

He said his small duchy could take in 10 refugee children.

– ‘Rubber bullets’ –

Margaritis Schinas, the EU commissioner for migration and promoting the European way of life and himself a Greek, said he hoped the crisis would lead to broader reform.

“We have a patchwork of regulatory solutions that do not work,” he said, praising the EU leaders’ “unprecedented show of solidarity” on the Greek-Turkish border.

“Now is the moment to come forward with the new EU package for asylum and migration. And I’m very hopeful that this would be the case in the weeks to come.”

Greece’s deputy migration minister, Georgios Koumoutsakos, said he was hopeful for his partners’ full support.

Criticism of Greece’s tactics was being fed by “propaganda”, he said. Denying live rounds had been fired near migrants, he said it was just “probably some rubber bullets”.

Social media footage from the Aegean region has shown what appears to be Greek authorities intimidating and endangering migrants clinging to unstable rubber dinghies.

Human Rights Watch director Lotte Leicht said: “If the EU’s highest officials are willing to turn a blind eye to such abuses and violations of international law, they just invite more of the same.”

But senior EU officials have repeatedly warned of the danger of “fake news” being weaponised to undermine European solidarity.

They blame the crisis on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to send million of migrants and refugees to Europe unless he receives more support in the Syrian conflict.

Turkey on Wednesday rejected the accusation that it was using migrants and refugees to blackmail the EU.


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Winnipeg police dog Banner dies, saluted by WPS members – Winnipeg

Winnipeg police confirmed Thursday one of their good boys has died.

Banner, who was a furry member of the K-9 unit, died Wednesday at Bridgwater Veterinary Services.

Winnipegger Cassie Maeren posted on social media that she witnessed Banner and his handler heading into the vet Wednesday.

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“Fast forward an hour or so and tons of other police cars show up at the vet and are parked all around the building,” she said. “A bunch of officers get out of their cars and are standing at the door to meet the handler who is walking out with a large box.

“The handler loads the box into the back of the K-9 unit vehicle and everyone appears to be crying and hugging.”

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The officers then got back into their cruisers, she said, then all the units turned on their lights and slowly drove away.

“It was a absolutely beautiful send off for the police K-9 and although it was devastating to see this it made me so happy to see the respect and honour that was given to that dog by his handler and other police officers,” she said.

Banner was featured in the Winnipeg Police Services 2018 Calendar.

The WPS is one of the few police services in Canada that has its own in-house breeding program, and currently has 10 K-9 teams as part of the Special Operations Unit. The dogs are trained to help take down fleeing suspects and some are trained for other jobs including sniffing out illegal drugs, explosives and more.

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The WPS uses Belgian Malinois dogs, with a sprinkling of German Shepherds.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anger at antiquaries charity after sex abuser wins members’ vote | Society

A vote allowing a sex abuser to remain a fellow at a prestigious educational society has provoked a fierce internal backlash and demands for the organisation’s reform.

Scores of fellows at the Society of Antiquaries of London, a charity that promotes the study of the past, are up in arms about the vote, which has allowed Hubert Chesshyre to continue as a fellow.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard evidence that Chesshyre, an expert on heraldry and genealogy who held a number of senior positions within the royal household, was found to have sexually abused a teenage chorister over the course of three years in the 1990s.

The 2015 finding was made following a “trial of the facts”, which is held when someone is considered unable to plead due to their poor mental and physical health. As a result, despite being found to have committed the abuse, Chesshyre – who is said to have dementia – was given an absolute discharge.

The finding saw fellows at the society, one of Britain’s oldest educational institutions, granted a royal charter in 1751, table a resolution demanding his removal. But a majority of fellows who voted backed Chesshyre, a former president of its elite dining club, the Cocked Hat Club.

In an open letter published on Sunday in the Observer, many fellows expressed outrage at the decision.

Pledging their support to the victim, they signalled their “determination to reform the organisation so that it reflects the values and behaviours that should be expected from any public organisation or individual”.

They add: “The voting arrangements were such that only around 100 of the society’s 3,000 fellows were able to attend the vote, which due to the existing governance structures of the society only allowed voting in person on a weekday afternoon. This disenfranchised a large number of fellows unable to attend at such a time.

“The 76 fellows who voted against the proposal to remove Mr Chesshyre’s fellowship do not represent us, and do not represent the values and behaviours of any organisation we are willing to be members of.”

Paul Drury, the society’s president, denied that the vote showed it had “stood by” Chesshyre. “We are committed to acting in ways which are consistent with our status as an educational charity operating for the public benefit, and as an institution which confers public recognition of the achievements of its fellows,” he said in a statement on its website.

“We are therefore actively working on the reform of our statutes, to enable swift action to remove fellowship from those who do not live up to the society’s expectations of integrity and good character.”

Drury added: “The society unreservedly apologises to the victim for any hurt the defeat may have caused.”

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