Correction: This story mistakenly said Flores Island is on the East coast of Vancouver Island, it’s on the West.
Elizabeth May and the Green Party have made indigenous issues at the centre of all they do. May tells us that a Green government would work tirelessly to accelerate First Nations reconciliation, prioritize land claim and treaty negotiations, honour Canada’s fiduciary responsibilities, to always act “in good faith”- and, most importantly, that the Greens will respect native sovereignty like no government ever has.
Greens work hard to demonstrate their heartfelt respect for First Nations, often opening their meetings and media events with indigenous women drummers singing traditional songs. Greens feel it’s important to start off their speeches by first acknowledging they’re standing on the local First Nation’s territory. When May stepped up to the stage at this years Press Gallery awards, her first words were a vulgar attack on earlier speakers for their non-compliance:
“like what the fuck was wrong with the rest of you and you didn’t notice you were standing on traditional territory!”
But while Green’s and environmentalist’s enthusiastic support might indeed be powered by love, it’s conditional, and no less paternalistic than the Hudson Bay Company. Their movement’s respect for indigenous sovereignty terminates the moment a First Nations community’s priorities deviate from their own. Their response is to use the oldest trick in the colonist’s cookbook- identify angry, weak, and/or corruptible locals and get them to work on your side.
1% Funded “Grassroots” Attack Ahousat’s Democracy
The Ahousaht First Nation come from Flores Island BC, just off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Ahousaht have a long and turbulent history with fish farming. Many members rejected the industry at first, protests were held, and there was a lot of discussion about benefits versus risks.
The Ahousaht used to have a decent fishing industry, but it fell apart after wild salmon stocks dwindled, and many people lost their jobs. There are about 2,000 Ahousat, but half have moved off of the island in search of opportunities for work and a better life.
The Ahousaht signed their first agreement for salmon farming on their territorial waters in 2002. The relationship wasn’t perfect, and there was some friction at first. After a management change the Ahousaht setup new negotiations with the Norwegian fish farming company (now called Cermaq & recently taken over by Mitsubishi) and eventually signed a new agreement in 2010. Cermaq claims they’ve employed 50-60 people from the community, and money was coming in for projects like the restoration of a river previously damaged by logging activities.
Everything changed on September 9, 2015, when a small group of protesters hopped into their motorboats and headed up for a protest on the northeast side of Flores Island, BC. Their press release described the protesters as “members of the Ahousaht First Nation.” who are strongly opposed to the fish farming industry- on a mission to stop a Norwegian based fish farming company from anchoring their “controversial farm”.
The protest sounded grassroots on the surface, but something smelled kind of fishy. First, there were two almost identical versions of the press release- the only difference was that they were signed different NGOs. The first is Clayoquot Action, a small Tofino based group run by a husband and wife team. The other was the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, a Vancouver-based NGO colonized by Downtown Eastside radicals.
But despite their efforts to give the impression they were a group of concerned Ahousaht residents, it only took a few glances at their pictures to realize there’s a whole lot more to the story. Turns out that there were more NGO affiliated professional protesters than Ahousaht, and two of the locals have received direct funding from US foundations and NGOs. Basically, about as grassroots as the pitch on a Women’s World Cup FIFA match- Astroturf.
The Who’s Who of the Salmon Farm Occupation Zoo
Alexandra Morton is an American transplant who comes from Elizabeth May’s home state of Connecticut. She comes from a fascinating family. Her grandfather Louis Marx was a business tycoon who once ran the world’s largest toy company. Her mom Barbara Marx Hubbard is a New Age guru who teaches “conscious evolution”. She appeared in the New Age documentary Thrive, and she’s a regular at TIDES Canada’s Hollyhock resort on Cortes Island BC. Demonstrating her connection to power, she was once nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate for the Democrats and is an honorary member of the Club of Budapest think tank.
Morton self-identifies as a biologist. She has a 2-year degree from the American University in Washington and was awarded an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University in 2010. It’s generally not accepted for an honorary degree holder to use the title “Dr.” Morton tends to avoid this faux-pas speaking to the media- but often uses the title promoting her events. The Green party’s webpage called her “Dr Alexandra Morton” on the night Elizabeth May came out to help promote her documentary.
After graduating her liberal arts degree, Morton took a job working for John C Lilly, a “psychonaut” who began his career experimenting on dolphins for the US military. He later started an NGO for studying human/dolphin communications- funding came from TIDES Foundation USA. Lilly took copious amounts of drugs in his life, starting off with LSD and later experimenting with Ketamine. He’s most well known for inventing sensory deprivation isolation tanks. He was a participant in an early Greenpeace expedition, and a contributor to Hollyhock founder Rex Weyler’s Greenpeace Chronicles.
Morton is one of the world’s most vociferous opponents of open net salmon farms. Her NGO Raincoast Research Society has received at least $900k in funding; including grants from TIDES Foundation in the USA, the Living Oceans Society, and the Ruth and Henry Goodman Fund. She runs another NGO called the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society that made a documentary about her work- it relies heavily on emotions and circumstantial evidence, a lot like the now infamous “Gasland”.
Morton called her credibility to question on her blog entry about the protest. First, she said it was a “new” fish farm, this was a lie. It was an existing farm being relocated to an area with higher water currents- the previous location was problematic, this was a solutuion. The protest’s other big lie is that the relocation was unannounced, a July 2014 story was published about the move in the Westerley News, and fellow protester Lenny John created a petition on August 18.
In April one of her letters on sea lice proclaimed “This has to become an election issue.” On August 24th, Morton wrote a press release claiming Stephen Harper makes wild salmon a BC election issue. On August 25th, there was an article in Cowichan Valley Now claiming Morton Wants To Ensure Wild Salmon Protection Is An Election Issue. On September 4th, she wrote an op-ed to the Times Colonist declaring BC’s Wild Salmon Should Be An Election Issue.
Five days later a group of “autonomous” “Ahousaht First Nations” activists decide on their very own to interrupt a fish farm relocation- and Morton’s on the boat.
Jeh Custerra is a relatively new staff member with Friends of Clayoquot Sound who recently relocated to Vancouver Island. Custerra’s 15 minutes of fame happened in 2009 when he and his friends in the Love Is The Movement tattoo cult interrupted Parliament just before NDP leader Jack Layton was about to speak on climate change. Some in the media accused Custerra of using fake blood on his face to add extra effect during his arrest. Curiously, Elizabeth May held a press conference to stand-up for Custerra and his friends.
Custerra has focussed most of his activist career working in Saskatchewan but he’s got around a bit too. He claimed he was at last year’s battle against Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mountain. He’s travelled to Mexico to meet with the Zapatista guerrilla army. He was the Sierra Club Prarie Chapter’s Tar Sands campaigner where he worked with ForestEthics and EcoJustice in a case against Syncrude for allegedly killing some ducks. Like others in this protest, he’s spent time at the Unist’ot’en Camp.
Anushka Nagji was born in the United Arab Emirates, grew up in Calgary, went to law school at the University of Victoria, and now lives in Vancouver. Four years ago Nagji was one of the people leading Occupy Victoria. She was arrested in 2012 at what’s likely to have been the most stupid protests of the year; a march “in solidarity” with the Quebec student strikes where she and fellow protesters (pardon my language) acted like complete assholes.
Anushka describes herself as an “autonomous” activist, but she doesn’t do a good job hiding the fact she’s part of the NGO-industrial complex. In September 2014 Anushka held a press conference at the Union of BC Indian chief’s office representing herself as the “legal advocate” now claims to be giving “legal support” to anti-mining protesters, she’s left law school but she’s not in the Law Society’s registry.
On September 29, 2014, Anushka participated in a blockade of the Red Chris Mine with the Klabona Keepers- a group that’s received 100’s of thousands of dollars from NGOs. On November 26, 2014, Anushka was named on an injunction from Imperial Metals requiring them to stop blocking access to the Red Chris mine.
On August 14, 2015, Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced that there was a new agreement, and the Klabona Keepers were satisfied “with a proposal that would give the First Nation complete control of an independent engineering review of the tailings pond under construction at the huge copper and gold mine.”
Green Party Niagara-Centre candidate David Clow was there at the time and was planning some sort of a disruption. It’s been reported he was incredibly disrespectful to the First Nations people whose territory he was on. David Suzuki’s grandson Tamo Campos wrote an open letter complaining about his behavior, saying:
“He spoke over the elders, and disrespectful to the women in our group. On request of the elders we told him not to take action. He told us “I don’t take orders…
His actions in this territory were racists, ignorant and an offence to traditional protocol and respect. I needed to share this because actions without respect to indigenous laws, simplifying of complex situations and misdirection set this movement back. This message is written by myself but with a message from the Tl’abāne elders, Klabona Keepers. It’s a warning for other groups. The timing of his actions put at risk plans of the Klabona Keepers and Beyond Boarding and is extremely frustrating for everyone involved here.”
Alexandra Morton reported that Lennie John was the first person to moor his boat to the fish farm. She claimed he was “surprised” to see them working and told them they must stop because “they may have permits from Victoria and Ottawa, but they were located in Ahousaht traditional territory and did not have Ahousaht consent” (Which was wrong, the Ahousaht signed-off).
Lennie claims he invited Alexandra Morton. She was there, and certainly knew better than to let him yell out this nonsense- a friend would have done that, a colonist would just take advantage.
Tsimka Martin was neither a “settler ally” nor a member of the Ahoussaht, she originates from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Martin runs a small business providing guide services for people who plan to go paddling or canoeing in and around Tofino. She’s led a local initiative to install wayfinding signage for people paddling in the area.
Martin is a staunch anti-capitalist claiming “the partial adoption of capitalist values has not advanced our people, but rather has displaced us further into poverty and social problems”. In 2014 she made a video with Clayoquot Action playing an April Fools joke that there was an oil spill in Tofino. In 2011 she spoke at a rally against Imperial Metals.
Bonnie Glambeck and Dan Lewis run Clayoquot Action, a small Tofino NGO that’s been grooming local indigenous youth into joining their movement. Dan used to be a “professional” kayaker, Bonnie has taken a serious interest in the sport too. Both were part of Clayoquot Sound’s mass protests in 1993. CA is a signatory on Naomi Klein’s Leap Manifesto.
In January 2015 they ran an event in Tofino titled “Take A Stand For Wild Salmon”. The event featured Alexandra Morton, and John Rampanen from Ahousaht. John’s criminal history includes charges for assaulting and obstructing a peace officer in 2000, a 2001 conviction for unauthorized possession of firearm, a 2013 fine for “driving while prohibited / license suspended”, and a 2005 conviction for assaulting a peace officer.
Dan and Bonnie have worked with Green Party of BC MLA Andrew Weaver- he presented their petition against salmon farming to the legislature in May 2015.
Sacheen Pointe and Joe James Rampanen are a married couple who run an organization called Ancestral Pride, a “grassroots” group of two, with a little help with their friends in the NGO-industrial complex. Pointe’s indigenous heritage comes from the Hupacasath First Nation but she grew up in East Vancouver. She moved to live with Rampanen in his home territory of Ahousaht.
Rampanen is a councilor on the Ahousaht First Nation council. He’s also on on the board of Clayoquot Biosphere Trust- an NGO created to “help the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Region Community to achieve its vision by providing funding and logistical support for research, education and training initiatives that promote conservation and sustainable development.”
Sachen is a member of the infamous Native Youth Movement, an ultra-radical protest group sponsored by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The NYM took a central role in the protests against the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, their spokesperson at the time was Clayton Thomas-Muller, a former employee of the Indigenous Environmental Network who now works for 350.org. The NYM’s music video features masked “warriors” carrying guns, clips of Zapatistas, and racist calls for violence including “take back the land, kill the white man” and “if whitey crosses that line there’s gonna be some blood squirting.”
Sacheen, and fellow NYM member Nicole Manuel (a.k.a. Kanahus Paltki) have a history working together on anti-mining projects including the Red Chris Mine. The both travelled to Oakland, California together where they met Chairman Fred Hampton Jr, son of the founder of the Black Panthers- Kanahus went on a tour with Hampton visiting Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
The NYM received grants from the Seventh Generation Fund, a foundation where Kanahus’s father Arthur Manuel is on the board of directors along with former US Green Party vice presidential candidate Winona LaDuke. The trust’s funding and support comes from the 1%- the Ford Foundation, TIDES USA, Turner Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Other NYM income was handled by Harjap Grewal of No One Is Illegal and the Council of Canadians.
Ancestral Pride is also on the payroll of the 1%. In 2012 they were awarded a grant from the Fertile Ground Institute, a US NGO that’s provided support to the two leaders of the Unist’ot’en Camp, and runs conferences with people like violence advocate Derrick Jensen of the Deep Green Resistance and Chris Hedges. The FGI gets their cash through the Wallace Action Fund.
Ancestral Pride has also been awarded grants from the Indigenous Environmental Network, their 2012 grant was very specific, and might help us understand where one of the Ahousaht protest’s boats came from:
“AP will use grant funds in an attempt to stop Imperial Metals from constructing a copper mine in the UNESCO-protected Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve on a sacred location known as Chitaapi. Their goal is to protect Chitaapi and surrounding area from the damage associated from industrialized metal extraction processes. Due to the remoteness of the location of the primary community (Ahousaht) and the proposed site, monies will be used to purchase of a boat to transport people and materials for building a resistance camp to oppose attempts at mining this site.”
Other funding has come from Honor The Earth, a US-based NGO run by Winona LaDuke (who’s also involved with the Indigenous Environmental Network). Both HTH and IEN get their cash from a similar list of funders as the Seventh Generation Fund.
Send In The
Sakura Saunders is an American anarchist with a long history of working with foundation funded NGOs. She made a $200 contribution to Sacheen’s crowdsourcing page for the salmon farm occupation. Her partner Darius Mirishahi is an anarchist rapper who was arrested (and later let off) for encouraging violent behaviour during the 2010 G20. Both are closely monitored by law enforcement; Sakura has been of interest to agencies on both sides of the border.
Sakura and Darius are in the middle of a “grassroots” tour, travelling across the country radicalizing youth and convincing them to join “the revolution”. Unfortunately for the people of Ahousaht, the two will be visiting the island next week, Joe James Rampanen called them both “my good friends”.
Send In The Greens!
Lisa Barrett is the Green Parry’s candidate for Vancouver-Centre. Barrett is the former mayor of Bowen Island BC, and a failed municipal candidate for COPE Vancouver. Her biography describes her as a woman who “champions anarchist values like participatory democracy, solidarity with indigenous peoples, and fighting oppression of marginalized groups”. Barrett made a contribution to Sacheen’s crowdfunding for the salmon farm protest.
When one of Barrett’s supporters wrote an emotional story about his experience at her campaign launch he claimed he “saw a deep respect for First Nation’s culture” with Barrett. He then went on to explain how she followed the Green Party tradition of launching her campaign with “a traditional welcoming onto the territory” from a First Nations woman with a drum, “singing the Woman’s Warrior Song.”
The drummer he’s speaking about is Audrey Siegl, yet another indigenous victim of the city’s Downtown Eastside extremists. Siegl was a high profile participant in the 2014 Oppenheimer Park occupation where she boldly told the media they weren’t going anywhere because it was “unceded Musqueam land’. The Musqueam quickly responded saying that she wasn’t speaking on their behalf- basically, she appropriated the voices of her own community.
Siegl brought her drum to the #ShutDownCanada protest in February 2015. As she was standing in the front line confronting the police, a cop walked past Siegl and accidentally bumped into her drum. Siegl responded by very publicly accusing the cop of “assaulting” her, commenting to a reporter in the Georgia Straight that she’s “considering” filing a complaint. The problem was that the video showed it was a mistake and an eyewitness confirmed- and, of course, no complaint was ever filed.
At the end of Barrett’s supporter’s story about her campaign launch he stated:
“Lisa side [SIC] that she believes Unceded First Nation’s have absolute rights over their territory and that nobody within government or industry has the right to impose their will.”
Barrett is deeply entrenched in the radical community that picked up people like Siegl and Sacheen off the streets. She’s not supporting the “absolute rights” of First Nation’s sovereignty- quite the opposite, she’s a neo-colonialist.
And it’s not just Barrett, many other Green candidates were cheering for this protest. It’s a similar situation with the Unist’or’en Camp- NGOs have radicalised and funded a few local indigenous “leaders” who are highly outnumbered by scores of “settler allies”. The Unist’ot’en recently made up a completely false story about the RCMP planning “mass arrests” of a dozen or so campers and the Greens defied logic and signed a petition on behalf of a group of “peaceful” protesters who run around threatening and intimidating pipeline workers.
Some Parting Thoughts…
I really went deep down into the rabbit hole with this story. I wasn’t too aware of the situation at Clayoquot when I started so I started to chart out my findings- you can find the full interactive version here. The results are deeply disturbing, I’ll write more in-depth soon, but here’s a quick summary.
First, see that red circle on the left side of the chart? That’s the Ahousaht First Nation. All of the entities surrounding them are members of the NGO industrial complex who are “respecting their sovereignty” by demanding that the Ahousaht follow their demands. The vast majority of these modern colonizer’s power comes from the American 1%- EcoTrust, one of the most influential, has an actual Rockefeller on their board.
The Ahousaht are under attack and they’re surrounded by a hugely powerful oppressor. Canadians are facing the same problem- Ahousaht is a microcosm of what’s been happening around the country. The first step we need to resolve this problem is to make the right choice at the polls on Monday.
Please, do the right thing this election, and vote for any candidate but the Greens- they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing…