LIRR Digest – Human Rights Day 2014

Hello defenders of Indigenous Rights,

I have just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.  There are many new insights from this classic Biblical story.  I remember a Cree storyteller sharing a similar story, only it was a girl who was a very good shot with a bow and arrow, overcoming the giants.   A couple of quotes I especially liked from the book:

1)      In commenting on civil rights activities in Birmingham, Alabama on May 3, 1963, Gladwell writes “What they did is not ‘right’, just as it is not ‘right’ to send children up against police dogs.  But we need to remember that our definition of what is right is, as often as not, simply the way that people in positions of privilege close the door on those on the outside.” (page 190)

2)      Gladwell notes that people in authority, be they judges, elected leaders, teachers, police officers,  in order to get people to behave,  are dependent on how they behave, and the “principle of legitimacy”.

He notes that legitimacy is based on three things (p.208):

–          The people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice – that if they speak up, they will be heard.

–          The law is predictable.  There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today.

–          The authority has to be fair.  It can’t treat one group differently from another.

What do you observe happening on this International Day for Human Rights?

On this day, why not review the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In a gathering, each person could read one of the articles.

You can order a handy poster of UNDRIP from KAIROS.

Montreal Gazette – Opinion Dec. 8, 2014

Terry LeBlanc, Mi’kmaq/Acadian, is executive director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community. The piece was co-authored with Gayadowehs Lu Ann Hill-MacDonald, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations; the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald,  National Indigenous Anglican Bishop; and Michelle Nieviadomy, Assistant Director, Edmonton Native Healing Centre. The authors are members of a coalition of faith groups and Indigenous people working for reconciliation through education.  They make a plea for the church and all Canadians to continue seeking the resumption of negotiations regarding funding and legislation of First Nations Control of First Nations Education.  The UCC wrote such a letter in June 2014 to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Valcourt and has had no response to date.

Jodi Bruhn draws attention to our need to talk “but when we talk, will our words foster understanding? Or will they only reinforce the barricades? The language we use to describe our relationship is polarized, vague, sometimes brutally abstract.  Take any word of significance to the Aboriginal/settler relationship. Start a dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Observe the rift that opens up.”  She gives these words as examples: treaties, partnership, status Indian, integrate.   For the full article, see

The Globe and Mail is doing a series of interviews of Canadians with a variety of experiences to discuss the major challenges our country is facing and how best to address them.

Jeanette Armstrong, Canada research chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy at the U of British Columbia offers her thoughts on ‘taking our place in the world’ which would involve reconciliation and partnership with indigenous peoples.

These interviews are part of the project Possible Canadas, created by Reos Partners, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and a diverse coalition of philanthropic and community organizations. For longer versions of these interviews, or to join the conversation, visit  Here you can also find an interview with John Borrows on how Canada could be enriched by indigenous peoples’ legal traditions as relevant to making judgements.  He points out that we failed in 2014 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Niagara.

The three candidates for National Chief are Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations; Leon Jourdain , Chief of Lac La Croix in northwestern Ontario; and Ghislain Picard, AFN Regional Chief for Quebec and Labrador.

In Advent hope and peace,
Cecile Fausak
Liaison Minister: Residential Schools
General Council Office: Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools
780-676-0562 (office cell)
780-675-7753 (Athabasca, AB home office)


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