Life isn’t very good for the people of Attawapiskat. The people in the northern Ontario community have suffered through housing problems, sewage backups, conflicts over the local De Beers diamond mine, and allegations of severe mismanagement by former chief Theresa Spence and her non-native boyfriend who kept the books
This week things got worse when it was announced Attawapiskat was experiencing a suicide crisis. NDP MP Charlie Angus didn’t realize this problem was happening in his home riding until this week, he responded by calling for an emergency House of Commons debate. A team was dispatched including Assembly of First Nations chief Perry Bellegarde, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, and Minister for Children and Youth Tracy MacCharles- they came bearing $2 million in temporary aid, with a promise of a long-term solution.
On that same day – while Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada should have been busy working on a tragic emergency – a group of self-promoting idiots marched into INAC’s Ontario regional headquarters and shut them down. The media was all over the protest like a fly on a bright light. Later that evening the protesters had a visitor, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak- who spent the evening “in solidarity” with the people who helped orchestrate one of the cruelest incidents of indigenous abuse that’s happened this century.
Entitled Protesters Demand INAC’s Attention:
The occupation began on Monday morning when a group of protesters walked into Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s regional Ontario office at 25 St Clair Ave in Toronto. The protesters took the elevator up to INAC’s reception, walked in the door and demanded an immediate meeting the person who is in charge of the office. A few minutes later some of them laid on the floor to conduct a “die-in”.
About seven minutes into the protest an indigenous protester named Davin Ouimet (a.k.a. Davyn Calfchild) pulled the reception’s Canadian flag off the pole. Ouimet said that the flag “isn’t worth the price of toilet paper,” which is a radical change from his behaviour in 2013 when he interrupted Toronto’s Remembrance Day event claiming to be “a proud Canadian veteran.” Later on day 2, someone vandalized a Canadian flag etched into the office’s front door with a blue marker.
At about eleven minutes into the protest, the Regional Executive Director’s assistant came out to meet with the occupiers. She immediately walked up to their bowl of burning sage and brushed it across her body with her hands, she understood the ceremony and participated like a pro. She explained that the director was open to meeting with one of the protesters in her office, when the protesters got abusive she responded explaining that “we’re not politicians, right, we just do the work.”
The police arrived at about forty minutes into the protest and went in to speak with the director. The came out and explained that she was willing to meet with one of them in her office. He had to continually ask them to stop yelling at him and talk one at a time. The protesters insisted that they wouldn’t be satisfied with that, one of the cops went back to her office to tell her.
The first nations protesters present were the usual suspects Toronto has seen at most every radical-left protest since Occupy Toronto, we’ll dig more into their backgrounds in a moment. They were accompanied by a few protesters from Black Lives Matter including Yusra Khogali, both groups worked together at the recent occupation of Toronto police headquarters. Also present was Alex Hundert, a militant extremist anarchist who was sentenced to over a year in prison for his part in coordinating the violence during the 2010 G20 (Alex has a history of threatening women, disabled, and trans people).
When the cops came back from their conversation with the director one of them explained the director’s position:
“She’d love to meet with you guys, but unfortunately, she’s busy working on disasters going on up on north, and she’s missed a meeting already to speak with the chiefs who direct where they want the aid to go back and forth. So they’re in charge, and she needs that time to work out the logistics- to supply and help the people”
Just when the cop was saying that the director was willing to meet with them later that day he was interrupted by when Gary Wassaykeesic yelled out:
“This is typical of what happens with first nations people when we’re trying to express our concerns on tragedies, they always put us on hold and then they’ll send people like this to tell us. But they themselves will not come and tell us themselves about the matter, they will not talk about it.”
Next Yusra Khogali then took the opportunity for self-promotion, yelling out:
“If she was concerned about these communities why won’t she come outside.”
The cop explained again to Khogali that the director was working directly on the problem and couldn’t speak to them at the moment. Khogali, in a brilliant example of millennial entitlement (and disrespect for the chiefs who were waiting for the director), responded by saying:
“Working on what, the people are here, the community are here, everybody is out here.”
A pack of media showed up and the director came out a little while later. She politely explained the situation and started to take questions. But people in the group didn’t exactly want to listen to her, three minutes after she started talking they started yelling at and treating her disrespectfully- she gave up and walked out.
The protesters acted like she was being disrespectful by not standing there and putting up with their unconstructive abuse. Lost in their own egos, they completely ignored the fact that there was an emergency situation in Attawapiskat and they were delaying efforts to deal with it.
The protesters vowed they’d stay until Howlett came back and continued her conversation with her, and as time went by they added to their demands that they won’t leave until Prime Minister
Selfie Trudeau promises to travel to Attawapiskat. Their demands changed back and forth a few times- at one point a protester said they wouldn’t leave until a list of requests from “the children” in Attawapiskat was fulfilled.
Representing the “media”, Richochet Media’s Niky Young has been on site since the beginning of the protest. Young has been to several protests with this group in the past, he’s a close ally who refers to them as “my people”.He was involved in one of the stupidest protests of the year in 2015 with David Suzuki’s grandson Tamo Campos.
Also present playing “media” was livestream operator Dee Shangar (a.k.a. Giovanni Sampogna) who led live online video broadcasts during Occupy Toronto. Outside of a recent appearance at the Black Lives Matter occupation of police HQ Shangar has been a bit quiet lately, he mentioned one his livestream from INAC that he was involved with training Black Lives Matter livestreamers in Ferguson. Shangar was caught making false accusations about Toronto police at one of Sakura Saunder’s Barrick Gold protests in 2013- most of the people at the INAC office were there.
They were joined by other professional protesters as the day went by. Of particular interest was American anarchist anti-mining protester Sakura Saunders and her anarchist rapper husband Darius Mirshahi- the couple brought their 3-month-old child into the conflict zone. The two extremists are of interest to law enforcement on both sides of the border, Mirshahi was arrested for his part in organizing the violent protests at the 2010 G20 but was later let off.
Later that evening the protesters were rewarded with a visit from Grand Chief Derik Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Nepinak is no stranger to this crowd, he’s been on their livestream in the past, and was a keynote speaker at the Peoples Social Forum- a union-funded activist gathering many of the protesters travelled to in Ottawa in 2014. Saunders and Mirshahi were organizers, the unions paid him a salary for his work.
It’s unknown if Nepinak knows the ugly and abusive history of the people behind this week’s protest. That said, he’s been mindlessly sharing their lies and misinformation. Take the above screenshot for example; the fire department didn’t come into to put out the protester’s sage, the only reason they came in was because a fire alarm went off. It’s incredibly disrespectful that they say they’re representing the people of Attawapiskat and start telling lies while doing it. There were many incidents like this.
The last interesting participant is a young Somali woman named Shadiya Aidid, a York University student studying “environmental politics”. Aidid is on the board of governors of the University Secretariat, she ran on a platform of lowering tuition for foreign students (money that could instead be used to help first nations) and for divestment of military and fossil fuel divestment.
Like more than a few of the privileged protesters connected to Black Lives Matter, Aidid is an avid participant in poetry slams. Ignoring the tastelessness of using the platform of Attawapiskat suicides for personal gain, she’s used the protest as an opportunity to promote at $15 per ticket fundraiser she’s performing at.
Meet The Occupy Toronto Livestream Team:
If you’ve been following the usual suspect’s Toronto protests since the Occupy movement then the indigenous contingent (who are supposedly leading the protest) will likely look very familiar. They’ll also look familiar to people who followed the story of Kevin Annett, a defrocked United Church minister who faked the discovery of a mass grave of residential school children in Brantford, Ontario.
Davin Ouimet (a.k.a Davin Ouimet) and his wife Cathy Walker (see above video) were two of the more prominent “representatives” of first nations during Occupy Toronto. Davin got his start as a protester in Vancouver as a participant in the “Woodsquat” condo occupation in the early 2000’s. He called himself a “reverend” back then, today he’s telling the media that he’s a “hereditary chief” of the Siska First Nation in Alberta.
INAC Occupier Carrie Lester is a close friend and associate of Ouimet, Walker and Wassaykeesic. The four have participated together at the recent Black Lives Matter Toronto protest, and the protests against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. They were also close associates of Kevin Annett- Lester was possibly one of his biggest supporters.
Ouimet met Annett back when he lived on Vancouver Island. The now-defrocked minister was with the United Church at the time, spreading rumours of mass graves of residential school children and Queen Elizabeth secretly flying to Canada to abduct indigenous children and use them for “child sacrifice” in “satanic rituals”. Carrie Lester was promoting Annett in Toronto at the time, other prominent Toronto supporters included Ryerson University professor Winnie Ng and NDP Socialist Caucus leader Barry Weisleder.
In 2010, Annett tried to infiltrate the Occupy Movement. He started at Occupy Vancouver where he tried to convince people to occupy a church to protest the Queen kidnapping and killing indigenous children. Vancouver occupiers rejected Annett’s proposal seeing how it would create horrible publicity.
Annett’s next destination was Occupy Toronto where he met up with his old protege Davin Ouimet. There was a yet unproven legend of a mass grave of indigenous children beside the Mohawk Institute Residential School on Six Nations property near Brantford, Annett convinced local elders that he had the resources to find it He promised to bring professional archeologists and other professionals to do the job.
Ouimet, Lester and Wassaykeesic travelled to the Six Nations reserve with Kevin Annett- I’ve been told they used $500 from Occupy Toronto’s donations to rent a ground sonar device. Magically, without the help of any professional archeologists, Annett discovered the “bones of children” that were “chopped-up” by evil Anglican Church clergy.
A few days after the meeting Annett, Lester and Ouimet travelled back to Occupy Toronto to show off the bones they “discovered”. The meeting was facilitated by Sakura Saunders. Saunders told everyone at Occupy to be quiet for “a very important” presentation by Annett at Occupy- he pulled the so-called children’s bones out of his pockets and started waving them around like trophies (you can watch the moment in all it’s inglorious action in the video below).
I learned about Annett’s wild claims, and the disrespect he showed by pulling “children’s bones” out of his pockets and became immediately suspicious when I arrived in Toronto. Over the next couple of years I worked with a group of researchers who systematically deconstructed Annett’s lies and showed that he pulled one of the ugliest cons on first nations in recent years.
In 2012, I was contacted by Todd Lamirande at APTN who was working on an expose and had the opportunity to give input to his report. APTN proved that the bones Annett claimed he discovered were actually animal bones. That wasn’t enough for Ouimet and Lester, they continued insisting Annett’s story was real and put their full backing behind a man who was publicly disowned by Mohawk elders.
This same group of protesters were part of Occupy Toronto’s Livestream team where Ouimet and Walker had a weekly show broadcast by Dee Shangar. Their show was filled with hate, racist jokes, and outlandish claims like we’ve heard at this week’s occupation when they claimed that the “foreigners” in the Toronto Police Service have no right to arrest first nations people.
In July, 2013 the group ran one of the most racist and hate-filled livestreams in the history of the Occupy movement. The fundraising broadcast was held on the campus of Ryerson University, Kevin Annett and professor Judy Rebick were scheduled to talk, as well as a young man now known as “Taliban Billy”. Billy spat out racist and anti-Semitic hate speech- claiming that the holocaust is fake, and threatening to murder members of the Freemasons. Shangar claimed at the end that Billy was justified in his violent and racist speech.
Who Was Hurt, Who Benefitted?
The protest is now in its 5th day of interrupting INAC’s office. The protesters were denied access to bathrooms on other floors by the building’s management (for security reasons) and have been pooping in buckets. Another occupation has popped-up in Winnipeg, offices across the country were closed to avoid other occupations.
The question that must be asked here is who’s benefitting from the protest, and who’s paying the price? The protesters are certainly benefitting from all of the media coverage they’ve received, and Adid benefitted from promoting her performance. It’s also been a useful process for “movement building”, helping to bring people together to increase the number of people who show up to their events (May Day is coming soon).
But, like most of their protests, the people who pay the highest price for their actions are innocent people of the 99% (as opposed to the 1%). In this case, the victims are the first nations people who are depending on INAC for their support. It started with the chiefs who were waiting for support from the director. Later on, as offices were shut down across the country, the victims became ordinary first nations people who were denied access to get their status cards renewed.
Viewing their behaviour over the past few days one gets the feeling that the protesters don’t care nearly as much about the people of Attawapiskat as they do about having fun and raising their own profiles. It’s a lot like the horrible incident where they helped Kevin Annett con the Six Nations community with his fake mass grave.
If the protesters had any respect for the people of Attawapiskat they wouldn’t be lying and spreading misinformation while saying they’re there to represent them. Not a single one of the occupiers has a connection to Attawapiskat, they’ve put little effort into discussing solutions to the problem- beyond having Justin Trudeau fly up for a photo-op.
The only good news in all of this is that it appears that the media is picking up on the fact that most first nations protests in Toronto are run by this same group of usual suspects. The media is normally all over protests like this, but their coverage quickly sizzled out after the first few hours. Since then, most of the coverage has only come from “movement friendly” publications like the CBC, Rabble.ca, and Ricochet.
That said, there’s one thing this raggedy band of unwashed bucked poopers have proven over the past few days. The Trudeau government is so spineless when dealing with first nations issues that they’re scared shitless of the bad PR they’d get from throwing them out of INAC offices. That’s a real shame, people on reserves are genuinely suffering across the country, this interruption to INAC’s operations is only going to make things worse.