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Maude Barlow's blog

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Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. More information on Maude Barlow can be found at: www.canadians.org/Maude

Maude Barlow: Why I'm sending back my Diamond Jubilee Medal

| January 13, 2013
Photo: Brent Patterson

A few months ago, I received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and my husband put it in a lovely frame and hung it up. On Friday, we took it down and on Monday I will send it back to Rideau Hall.

This was not a light decision. Although I am not a monarchist, I do recognize the power of symbol and know that a great many wonderful Canadians were proud to receive this honour for their dedication to their communities and I felt proud to be in such company.

But the actions of the Harper government in recent months have been so extraordinarily anti-democratic and just plain wrong for this country, that I and many other Canadians are having to find whatever means we can to protest.

Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement, with whom my organization is working closely, have taken a brave and visionary stand to oppose the draconian omnibus bills that are destroying environmental protection in our country.

Without consultation with First Nations, as required under their Treaty rights, or with other Canadians who have fought for these laws over decades, the Harper government unilaterally gutted the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and many other laws, ushering in a free for all on our water heritage.

Chief Spence, in putting herself and her life on the line, is doing so to sound the alarm on what these awful omnibus bills will mean to all of us and to future generations. I for one am deeply grateful.

If it is too much for my Prime Minister or my Governor General to walk across a bridge to Victoria Island to greet this brave woman by her sacred fire, I don't want any honour they can bestow.



Way to stand up for your beliefs Ms. Barlow.

It is has become abundantly clear (because it has been confirmed by many politicians when being interviewed), that the settler community does not speak as one voice. The man who purports to speak on behalf of all of us (and whose toadying propagandists are in full damage control mode) represents only a small minority of us. I believe that Canada's indigenous population has understood this for quite some time - a lot longer than most members of the media are giving them credit for.


Author Naomi Klein and singer Sarah Slean said Friday on Twitter they are rejecting offers to receive the medal as a show of support for Idle No More.
– Globe & Mail

Dear Ms.Barlow,


To me it doesn't matter that you intend to send back your Diamond Jubilee Medal. The subject is not to be news worthy as far as I am concerned.

What concerns me, and what should concern each and every Canadian, First Nations people included, is how we are being pulled in different directions because people don't take the time to read about what has really transpired over the past few years.

Slogans cried out by protesters will only carry value with it if the slogans are based on at least some understanding of the truth. The Idle No More movement stands in opposition to Bill 45, but there are a few things which must be brought to the fore. 

Here is what I would like you and other protesters to read, so that they may have a better understanding of the other side of things. You know, there are always two sides to any story:

1. the Government, within bill C45, has already opened up the process for Native involvement of leasing lands to third parties etc by allowing a different voting system within the Native held territory.
2. the Government, within bill C45, has made changes to the NWPA so that projects would face a less layered bureaucratic oversight - NOT in regards to environmental pollution concerns but in regards to navigational concerns. The Environmental Protection Act is still in place as before.
3. the current Government has also made other changes in regards to drinking water, education and the like effecting Native communities.

All of these changes had been asked for by at least some Native representatives. And all of these changes have been incremental changes.

Yet, Canadians have to search far and wide to find the reporting on these 3 points outlined above. My question is why? Why is the media so reluctant to address the incremental changes brought forth by this government in cooperation with at least some members of the Native community?

In my mind it is very clear why PM Harper has no other choice but to make changes incrementally and selectively when it comes to Native issues. It has become quite clear that were the Harper government to try and appease all of the First Nations at once, the task would simply be impossible. Some Native communities clearly have asked for the changes made in C-45 concerning Reserve Lands (third party involvement leases etc) while other Native communities may not have been in favour of such changes at all, for whatever reasons they may have. So what's a PM to do? Let the Reserves who wish for the change in order to get ahead, not have such opportunity because other Native Chiefs oppose or don't understand such a need? That would be ludicrous!

It is has become abundantly clear (because it has been confirmed by many regional Chiefs when being interviewed), that the Native community does not speak as one voice because it cannot speak as one voice. I believe that PM Harper has understood this for quite some time - a lot longer than most members of the media are giving him credit for.

Not every Native community is looking for the very same solutions to their problems as are other Native communities. Time we all wake up to that fact. Perhaps now that the division within the Native community at large has become so abundantly clear to most Canadians - and more importantly to the members of the media - here is to hoping that PM Harper will now be better understood as he tries to solve many of the Native issues in incremental ways - because there is no other way!




Francien Verhoeven




Good on you, Ms. Barlow!

Now, let's hear from more recipients of this dubious honour who are willing to stand up and do the same.

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