Grand Elder Robinson joins New Brunswick anti-Fracking protests
Today, June 24th 2013, Grand Elder Raymond Robinson of Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake First Nation Manitoba, Treaty 5 territory) joined antifracking protestors in New Brunswick in their third week of nonviolent resistance to shale gas exploration being carried out by a U.S. company on traditional Mi’kmaq territory.
“Fracking equals death,” said Robinson. “The chemicals injected into the ground attack our trees, our waters, our food chain, our medicines, and contaminate our soil. This is not uniquely an indigenous issue; it concerns all of us. Water knows no borders, no boundaries, and no limits, and it is our duty, obligation, and responsibility as people of this world to protect Mother Earth and preserve what was given to us by the Creator. We are all born into this world as caretakers of Mother Earth.”
Grand Elder Robinson made this 15 hour journey from his home in Gatineau, Quebec along with his three friends and fellow movement supporters Claire StewartKanigan, Christopher Coyle, and Alex Tyrrell. The four friends represent the provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, and Québec respectively.
In an effort to build support for the movement, Robinson stated “I ask all the people of this world to come together and join this global fight against environmental degradation and hydraulic fracturing at the hands of the most powerful multinational corporations.”
Grand Elder Robinson will be protesting at the junction of Highway 116 and 126 for the rest of the week. He will be available for media interviews and can also be followed through his website, Facebook page, and twitter account.
514 885 7356
Statement following the 2013 NDP federal convention
Participating in last weekend’s federal NDP convention was an excellent experience. Every single resolution presented by the Aboriginal Caucus passed unanimously. There is hope in the NDP. I would like to tell my fellow First Nations people across Canada that there is a high probability that an eventual NDP government would change the status quo with respect to First Nations issues in Canada.
When I met with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (in the hallway) I expressed my concern that he has not been specific enough about where he stands on a variety of issues facing First Nations peoples. He quickly responded that First Nations issues had been his top priority since winning the leadership last year. I questioned whether or not he would make that statement in front of any audience, or simply to me, a First Nations person, in the hallway of the party convention.
I was disappointed with Mr. Mulcair’s keynote speech. Despite ensuring me that my people’s issues were his “top priority” merely an hour before getting on stage, he included only a brief mention of First Nations issues. He decided to focus on criticisms of the Harper government and made an observation about our “3rd world living conditions”, and the fact that our schools are funded less than their provincial counterparts.
I have requested a more formal meeting with Mr. Mulcair in Ottawa over the coming weeks. This was my first time meeting with him, despite my actions on Victoria Island and my second hunger strike that concluded last week. I came to this convention to ensure that the new government will uphold a true Nation to Nation relationship with my people. My hope is that Mr. Mulcair will publicly state, both in writing and in person, his concrete commitments to First Nations peoples of this country. I would also like him to elaborate on what a true Nation to Nation relationship would look like under a potential NDP government.
I would like to thank my MP Niki Ashton for standing in solidarity with me. She, along with many other NDP MPs such as Romeo Saganash give me hope that we will someday be able to move forward as a people.
I challenge the NDP and all Canadians regardless of race to join me on a grassroots fight to achieve justice for First Nations peoples.
You can watch a video of my speech from the convention floor at: http://cpac.ca/eng/programs/cpac-special/episodes/ndp-convention-april-13-2013 (starts at 69:00)
Message from my lead organizer Alex Tyrrell
Wednesday, April 10th 2013 7:00pm
Four weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting Grand Elder Raymond Robinson. I had not been involved in any Idle No More organizing other than making videos of local protests and events. As a non native, white person, or as some would say a settler, I was helping the movement in a support role.
When I first met Raymond I was immediately taken aback by his spirituality and his positive anti-racism message of unity that did not seek to lay blame on anyone for current and historical wrongdoings. He told me stories about the problems facing his, and many First Nations communities across Canada. Problems that I had read and heard about before at Idle No More teach-ins, but hearing them from a survivor in a one on one conversation was different.
I asked him where he was headed next, after 43 days of hunger strike on Victoria Island. Under a context of continued racist, colonial, and genocidal policies being enacted by the Harper government against his people. He told me his dream was to travel the country and the globe to spread his message of unity, of hope, and of the dire need for Canada to improve its domestic human rights conditions.
The reality of the situation facing First Nations is not known, or understood by most of my fellow Canadians.
To help get Raymond’s message out I booked him a Montreal speaking tour, wrote his biography, and started a website designed to bolster his position as a public figure. I also set it up to accept donations that could be used to carry out his much needed educational quest.
A friend and I met Raymond in Ottawa and interviewed him so we could write his bio for the website. We recorded a video of Raymond explaining his goal to travel the country, and, asking for donations. Before we could get the website running and people donating, raymond called me on a Sunday night and explained that he was contemplating going on a second hunger strike. This time with no water or fish broth.
He explained to me that it was breaking his heart to see that despite he and Chief Spence’s efforts on Victoria Island Prime Minister Harper was actively implementing bills C-38 and C-45 through comprehensive funding agreements due to be signed by all First Nations before April 1st 2013.
His visit to Montreal was scheduled for the following week. He began his second hunger strike on the morning of his speaking tour in Montreal. When he arrived at my school, Concordia University, he explained to the crowd that he had been pushed to the point where he needed to go on a spiritual fast to draw attention to the injustices facing his people.
From that point on he invited me to stay with him and a small group of people while on his hunger strike in the Ottawa region. From the kitchen table in the house where we were staying, a small group of us did everything we possibly could to get his message out. At the same time we absorbed the emotions that surrounded a man who was putting his life on the line to bring much needed attention to his cause.
Halfway through the hunger strike and encouraged by the outpouring of support expressed by hundreds of people on social media, in person, and on the phone, and faced with a disrespectful Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, he decided to live. He decided to choose life over death and began to refer to his action as a spiritual fast, not a hunger strike. He pulled back on his demands and explained to us that he was simply praying for higher intervention to help his people out of the unfair situation they are in.
After 5 days and 15 hours without a drop of water or food, and following over 30 candlelight vigils held in cities around the globe in his honor that evening, he decided to end his spiritual fast by drinking a Tim Horton’s coffee and some homemade soup.
With photos coming in from candle light vigils from across the country, the pressure on all of us began to fade, and to change into an emotional quest to absorb what we had all just experienced together. Raymond stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching an archive of the live feed from Toronto’s vigil, where many people he knew from Victoria Island were expressing their support and saying good things about him to the camera. He read messages of support, and looked at the pictures coming in from across the globe. We programed a tweet to go out at 9:30am that morning to break the news to the world that the fast was over, that he was in good health and we went to sleep.
In the morning Raymond was mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted. More so than at any time over the 5 day, 15 hour fast. With the spiritual fast over, he began to feel his body once again.
We called a press conference for 3:30 that afternoon on the steps of Parliament Hill where Raymond explained that he had ended his spiritual fast, and that it would be up to others to carry the torch forward.
The media, was unreceptive to his message, and questioned why he decided to end his hunger strike without getting his demands met by a minister who had literally laughed in his face just days before. They wanted a show, they wanted to see one of two things; the death of a tribal elder, or, a step back by harper and a victory party.
This, was neither one. It left the mainstream news networks disappointed. For hours they talked, wrote, and tweeted in circles searching for how to fit a spiritual fast into a mainstream mold. Several media outlets chose to simply not cover his courageous action and simply looked the other way. Many tried to attack his credibility for choosing life over death in the face of the cold, and merciless, Harper government.
After the press conference Raymond canceled all his interviews scheduled for that evening. He decided that instead of playing their game he was going to go for a meal in a local restaurant along with us, and a young supporter who he had just met. We returned the the home where we had been staying at for the last four days and had a final conversation before I packed up my belongings and drove back to Montreal in the sunset.
On the way home I reflected on the events of the past week. I thought about what could be done to carry his message of unity forward. I know that he is still willing and able to to travel the country and the world to spread his message of hope. That is, after all, the way I first came into contact with him.
Raymond Robinson is a man who has gone to extreme lengths of personal sacrifice to raise awareness about the situation and the reality facing First Nations people in Canada that most of us are all too happy to ignore.
I think that the least we can do, as individuals, as canadian society, and as human beings is to help Raymond achieve that goal. For this reason I ask you to donate to the Raymond Robinson Support Fund set up to raise funds for expenses associated speaking events.
Together, we can, and we will, make his dream come true. and I call on you to make it happen.
Thank you, and keep up the fight.
Please Donate Here
Grand Elder Robinson ENDED HIS FAST Monday Night at Midnight
Thank you to all those who came out across the globe for Monday night’s #RayOfHope vigils that were organized in over 25 cites from Parliament Hill to California, to Germany. Together, we can and will change the world. Thank you once again for all the support. Here are some of the pictures you have shared with us so far.
-Grand Elder Robinson and his Team
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson’s Video Message to Canadians
Statement from Grand Elder Raymond Robinson
Monday April 8th
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude and admiration to the late, and well respected Right Honourable Jack Layton.
During the course of four federal elections, and during his time as leader of the NDP he was the only candidate that continuously defended aboriginal rights and our place in this country.
It hurt me at a personal level when I learned of his passing because he shared our hopes and dreams to be recognized as a contributing members of society.
Canada enjoys insurmountable wealth and the Right Honourable Jack Layton wanted to insure that we would have our place and the recognition that we have been aspiring to for the past 500 years.
Now we have a new leader; Thomas Mulcair. Who thus far has not even bothered to take the time explain, in concrete terms, what he would do as Prime Minister fix the injustices facing my people.
I call on Thomas Mulcair to take a firm stance, in concrete terms, as to what he would do to address First Nations issues in this Country. I wish him all the best and encourage him to follow the footsteps of the Right Honourable Jack Layton in every sense of the term.
Statement from Grand Elder Raymond Robinson
April 7th, 4:00pm
I am not demanding anything from anyone; this is a spiritual fast. I am refusing the necessities of life; food and water. I am praying and meditating constantly for the creator to show mercy and compassion to the people of the world of all colors and races. I am praying to bring down all the préjudices, and all the boundaries that have separated the people of this world.
I am seeking intervention, mercy, and compassion that the differences that are arising from these treaty relationships between First Nations and the Crown be restored.
I am praying that the two nations of Canada; First Nations and the Crown start seriously working together on a Nation-to-Nation basis. That is what I pray for on this fast. It’s a spiritual fast.
As a Grand Elder have a duty and an obligation to always live by the sacred teachings that have been handed down by the First Elder, our Creator; I pray for people regardless of race, creed, or belief. I pray that people work together for the stability and cohesiveness and well being of all common men and women. I pray for this world to aspire to work together. And that is what I’m doing on this fast without food and water.
I encourage everybody to always aspire to come from the same respect, to always come from the natural laws of life; for that is the real red road. These natural laws are; respect, honor, humility, honesty, truth, courage, and wisdom. These seven natural laws are intertwined, they are in balance. One cannot go without the other, they must always come as one, for when you break one, you break them all. Not only do you break them with the creator, but we also break them with ourselves, with Mother Earth. So I encourage you to always come from that respect.
April 6th Statement
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson is on a full hunger strike and has not consumed any food or water since April 3rd, 2013 at 9:00am.
Raymond will remain on hunger strike until Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with First Nations leaders on a Nation-to-Nation basis;
On Friday Raymond met with Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt only to have the Minister literally laugh in his face and refuse his request without any negotiation. Raymond offered to end his hunger strike in return for a meeting between First Nations Chiefs and the Prime Minister on a Nation to Nation basis.
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson is putting his LIFE on the line, his demands are not unreasonable, and Stephen Harper must ACT NOW to save his life.
Monday morning will mark Grand Elder Raymond’s 5th day without food or water. It is unbelievable, and unacceptable, that this country has come to a point where First Nations Peoples are literally starving themselves just to get a meeting from a Prime Minister who is enacting radical genocidal legislation taking aim at First Nations, the environment, and the Canadian people.
Join us Monday night for candle light vigils across the country to send a strong message to Harper that Canada needs to begin to heal the wounds of hundreds of years of colonial, assimilationist, and paternal legislation.
Let’s stay peaceful, raise awareness, and come together as one in these difficult times that will un undoubtedly mark Canadian history forever.
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Communique 6 Avril
Grand Elder Robinson est en grève de la faim complète et n’a pas consommé de nourriture ni d’eau depuis le 3 Avril 2013 à 9:00 am.
Raymond restera en grève de la faim jusqu’à ce que le Premier ministre Stephen Harper accepte de rencontrer les chefs des Premières nations sur une base de nation à nation;
Vendredi, Raymond a rencontré le ministre des Affaires autochtones Bernard Valcourt. Celui ci lui a littéralement ri dans la figure et a refusé d’accéder à sa requête sans aucune négociation. Raymond a offert de mettre fin à sa grève de la faim en échange d’une rencontre entre les chefs des Premières nations et le Premier ministre sur une base de nation à nation.
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson met sa VIE en jeu, ses demandes ne sont pas irraisonables, et Stephen Harper doit AGIR MAINTENANT pour sauver sa vie.
Lundi matin marquera le 5e jour sans nourriture ni eau de Grand Elder Raymond. Il est incroyable, et inacceptable, que ce pays soit rendu au point où les peuples des Premières Nations se laissent littéralement mourrir de faim juste pour obtenir une rencontre d’un Premier ministre qui met en vigueur une législation génocidaire radicale ciblant les Premières nations, l’environnement, et le peuple canadien.
Joignez-vous à nous lundi soir pour des vigiles à la chandelles à travers le pays, afin de signaler clairement à Harper que le Canada doit commencer à soigner les blessures causées par des centaines d’années de législation coloniale, assimilationiste et paternaliste.
Restons pacifiques, éveillons les consciences, et unissons-nous en ces temps difficiles qui marqueront sans aucun doute l’histoire canadienne à jamais.
Statement from Grand Elder Raymond Robinson
For immediate release, Friday, April 5th 2013
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson will be meeting with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt this afternoon. He will be arriving at 2:00 pm, 30 minutes before the meeting which is scheduled for 2:30 pm. He will also be available for comment immediately following the meeting.
Grand Elder Robinson is praying for two things. The first is that Prime Minister Harper remove new sections added to First Nation’s comprehensive funding agreements that seek to implement recent changes in government policy including bills C-38 and C-45. He is unhappy that First Nations are being “blackmailed” into signing the agreements or risk having their funding cut off.
The second is for the government of Canada to begin a meaningful “Nation to Nation” relationship and dialogue. Grand Elder Robinson also points out that Prime Minister Harper has not followed through on the commitments made in the January 11th meetings. PM Harper has not met with First Nations leadership “in the coming weeks” as promised, nor did he send a representative from the PMO to the AFN’s Treaty Forum held in saskatchewan last week.
By 2:30 this afternoon Grand Elder Robinson will have been without food or water since April 3ed at 9:00am, which will bring the hour count to 53.5
Today’s meeting will be held at:
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington, North Tower
More Information: RaymondRobinson.org
Statement from Grand Elder Raymond Robinson
April 3rd 2013
For Immediate Release
Grand Elder Raymond Robinson of Cross Lake Manitoba will begin a no liquid hunger strike on Wednesday the 3rd at 9:00 AM.
We would like to formally invite you Wednesday the 3rd at 4:00 PM, to a Montreal speaking event with Grand Elder Robinson in the Concordia University Hall Building on the 7th floor student lounge. Immediately following the event there will be a peaceful support rally beginning at 4:30 PM outside the building.
Mr. Robinson says he is ready to die for his cause and that he will not stop unless Steven Harper removes a series of amendments that were quietly, and recently, added to the First Nations Comprehensive Funding Agreements and agrees to a meaningful Nation to Nation dialogue with First Nations.
Tuesday night on CBC Power and Politics Robinson Declared: “I have spoken to Chief Theresa Spence about this and she is in full support with me.” He is also expecting a meeting with National Chief Shawn Atleo. “I am hoping and praying that [National Chief Atleo] will meet with me.” He asks this to Stephen Harper: ”Prime Minister, listen to me Prime Minister of Canada, all you need to do is meet with my chiefs on a nation to nation basis. All you need to do is start seriously having open dialogue with my people. All you have to do is take those new amendments [out of] the [Comprehensive Funding] Agreements that you’re forcing first nations to accept.”
“This all can end if Harper just opens the door for my people to come in and let them talk to him in a serious dialogue.”
More info: info@RaymondRobinson.org
Please come and help us give him a voice.
March 25 2013
For Immediate Release
Today, March 25th 2013 Grand Elder Raymond Robinson who carried out a 43 day hunger strike alongside Theresa Spence declared in an CBC Power & Politics interview that he is ready to go back on a hunger strike if the Harper Government does not reverse changes made to First Nations Comprehensive Funding Agreements.
The government of Canada has added sections to fiscal year’s Contribution Funding Agreements that serve to implement aspects of Bill C-45. If a First Nation refuses to sign on to the changes, they will stop receiving federal cash as of April 1st. “First Nations are being blackmailed into signing their rights away. These changes have been implemented without any consultation and I am prepared to go back on a hunger strike unless the Harper government reverses the changes. They are asking us to give up our waters our lands our resources and even our Inherent Aboriginal Treaty Rights” said Robinson.
Grand Elder Robinson is planning a National & Global day of Action on Parliament Hill and is asking all Chiefs across Canada to bring their Contribution Funding Agreements (CFA) so each can read the contents of the new CFA; then leave it at the Parliament Hill doorstep.