Pelletier death by police sniper needs deeper examination: family
Juror at coroner’s inquest supports call for broader inquiry
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 6:34 PM CT
Coroner’s inquest juror Catherine Spence supports a call for a broader inquiry into police shooting (Runs: 3:18)
Delbert Kenneth Pelletier, 44, was shot and killed just outside his home on the Muskowekwan First Nation north of Regina in November 2006.
According to police, Pelletier had shot at an armoured police car before being killed.
A coroner’s inquest made several recommendations to police, including suggesting the RCMP implement more sensitivity training on aboriginal culture.
Delbert Kenneth Pelletier, 44, died Nov. 13, 2006, after being shot in the chest by an RCMP sniper. (Pelletier-Fisher family)
The inquest took place over several days in October 2008 and the jury’s recommendations were provided to RCMP. The Mounties’ response was delivered to Saskatchewan’s chief coroner some time later. The coroner’s office released the response on Tuesday.
In the material, the RCMP said its training and policies were sufficient. The force said that it conducts an aboriginal perceptions training course twice a year for members of the Saskatchewan division.
Calvin Pelletier, the brother of Delbert Pelletier, told CBC News on Wednesday that he is disappointed with the RCMP response.
He said if the RCMP had adequate procedures and training, his brother would not have died.
The inquest jury also recommended that a full-time emergency response team be established for the RCMP in Saskatchewan.
Inquest juror speaks out
Delbert Pelletier died after a lengthy stand-off with police at this home on the Muskowekwan First Nation. He was shot by a police officer. (CBC)
The family’s call for a broader inquiry was supported Wednesday by one of the six jury members who participated in the coroner’s inquest that examined Pelletier’s death.
Catherine Spence told reporters Wednesday that jurors wanted to include a recommendation for a public inquiry in their report, but were dissuaded from doing so by the presiding coroner. Spence said the jurors were told a further inquiry would be too time consuming and costly.
Spence, however, said that evidence presented during the coroner’s inquest raised more questions than answers.
“All it did was bring up a lot more questions,” Spence told reporters on Wednesday. “And I think the family is justified in going forth with asking for a full inquiry. There’s too many unanswered questions here.”
‘Hell to pay:’ Residents angry as RCMP seize guns from High River homes (with video)
HIGH RIVER — RCMP revealed Thursday that officers have seized a “substantial amount” of firearms from homes in the evacuated town of High River.
“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” said Sgt. Brian Topham.
“People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms … so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”
That news didn’t sit well with a crowd of frustrated residents who had planned to breach a police checkpoint northwest of the town as an evacuation order stretched into its eighth day.
“I find that absolutely incredible that they have the right to go into a person’s belongings out of their home,” said resident Brenda Lackey, after learning Mounties have been taking residents’ guns. “When people find out about this there’s going to be untold hell to pay.”
About 30 RCMP officers set up a blockade at the checkpoint, preventing 50 residents from walking into the town. Dozens more police cars, lights on, could be seen lining streets in the town on standby.
Officers laid down a spike belt to stop anyone from attempting to drive past the blockade. That action sent the crowd of residents into a rage.
“What’s next? Tear gas?” shouted one resident.
“It’s just like Nazi Germany, just taking orders,” shouted another.
“This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms,” said Charles Timpano, pointing to the group of Mounties.
Officers were ordered to fall back about an hour into the standoff in order to diffuse the situation and listen to residents’ concerns.
“We don’t want our town to turn into another New Orleans,” said resident Jeff Langford. “The longer that the water stays in our houses the worse it’s going to be. We’ll either be bulldozing them or burning them down because we’ve got an incompetent government.”
Langford blasted High River Mayor Emile Blokland over comments made Wednesday in which Blokland said residents will be allowed to return after businesses, such as hardware and drug stores, are opened.
“It was ridiculous,” said Langford. “I think he’s a puppet on a string.”
Langford said Premier Redford should come to High River to address residents’ concerns and provide information.
“This is at the highest tension,” he said. “What’s going to happen next is that people are just going to be walking across these fields, and I don’t care if they put hundreds of thousand of police officers there, they’re not going to stop from getting in.”
Sgt. Topham said he didn’t know when residents would be allowed to return to their homes. “People much higher up are going to make those decisions,” he said.
He did confirm that officer relied on forced entry to get into numerous houses during the early stages of the flood because of an “urgent need”, said Topham.
Police are no longer forcing themselves into homes and the residences that were forced open will be secured, he said.
Topham said the confiscated firearms have been inventoried and are secured at an RCMP detachment. He was not at liberty to say how many firearms had been confiscated.
“We have seized a large quantity of firearms simply because they were left by residents in their places,” said Topham.
The guns will be returned to owners after residents are allowed back in town and they provide proof of ownership, Topham added.
Residents promised to returned to the checkpoint at noon every day until they are allowed to return to their homes.
Forty-one years ago Lynn Thompson was stolen from off the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba.
“We were told by our grandparents, if white people come around, you run in to the bush,” said Thompson.
But the three-year-old could not run fast enough and she and her two sisters, one of whom she carried on her back and the other she was pulling, were apprehended by social workers. Her eight-year-old uncle, who kicked the men who were taking her, was also grabbed. Thompson’s three older brothers made it to the bush safely. Thompson would be 40 before she reunited with members of her biological family, but they still remain strangers to her.
Thompson was one of a conservatively estimated 20,000 children who were apprehended in the 1960s through to the 1980s. The “60s Scoop,” as this action became known because the majority of children were taken in the first decade, was a government-sanctioned program entitled Adopt Indian/Metis children. These Aboriginal children were placed in foster homes throughout Canada and the United States. Thompson said the uncle who tried to rescue her was sold for $500 to a family in the US. What ensued for Thompson were 25 foster homes in Ontario and Manitoba by the time she was eight years old and two failed adoption attempts. Like many of the children in her situation, she was abused. Eventually, she ended up being settled in a German Mennonite community in Manitoba. Seventy per cent of the children taken were placed in non-Aboriginal homes.
“I would have given anything to have been in a residential school, to have other brown faces around,” said Thompson, who shot herself while in care.
The pain of Thompson’s childhood, which she classifies as “pretty messed,” followed her into adulthood.
Twelve years ago, Thompson accompanied a partner to Saskatchewan. Shortly after arriving in that province, she contracted HIV through intravenous drug use.
“I wouldn’t say I was a regular user. It was just something I experimented with and I ended up contracting HIV,” she said.
That was when she took control of her life.
“With HIV, it’s either fight or flight. I chose to fight. I educated myself,” said Thompson who spent two years learning all there was to know about the virus. She turned away from modern medicine and treated herself with a traditional tea and is also under the care of a healer from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation.
“I’m kind of the White Buffalo of HIV. I’m the only one I know of in Canada that uses traditional meds (for HIV),” said Thompson. “Instead of getting sicker, I’m getting better.”
But she didn’t stop there. Nine years ago, Thompson became an advocate for those suffering from the virus, fighting against the stigma and discrimination HIV-positive people experience every day.
Saskatoon, where Thompson lives, and Prince Albert have the highest cases of HIV in the country. Young women present the highest numbers, contracting the virus through intravenous drug use. But in the next few years, Thompson expects to see those figures skewed as a larger number of older men become HIV-positive through unsafe sex. Thompson said men are paying $20 or $30 extra to do the act without a condom.
Thompson has amassed an impressive resume. She serves as consultant for such organizations as Persons Living With AIDS Network and AIDS Saskatoon; has been an advisor for working groups such as All Nations Hope Network and Public Health Canada; has spoken in schools both in the Saskatoon Public School system and Saskatchewan First Nations; has participated in the documentaries “Positive Women” (for Canadian AIDS Law Society) and “Silent Epidemic” (Indigenous Circle); and has written articles and been interviewed for various television programs.
Thompson is also one of two women named in a class action lawsuit launched last year against the federal government in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina. She and Valery Longman represent other First Nations and Metis children targeted in the “60s Scoop.”
For the past 15 years, Thompson has been collecting information and stories from and about children taken from their homes in this manner. After she was reunited with her youngest sister, who broke her back after running away from a foster home in the US, Thompson and others realized something needed to be done. It was then that a lawsuit was discussed.
Thompson is hopeful that the lawsuit can lead to support similar to what residential school survivors have received through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. She also hopes it makes Canadians aware of another dark part of Canadian history.
BY SHARI NARINE
Sage Contributing Editor
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
By Annette Francis
APTN National News
The federal Aboriginal Affairs department has been spying on a high-profile campaigner for First Nations children, documents show.
The department has amassed a large file on Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring society.
The file contains emails and notes about Blackstock’s personal information and critical briefings on her activities.
“They have found it necessary to not only put one employee onto tailing, but if you look at the records there are numerous employees on the government payroll who are being asked to comment on what I am doing or to violate my privacy by going on my personal Facebook pages,” said Blackstock.
Blackstock has for years been pushing for equity for First Nations children caught up in the welfare system.
In 2007, her organization filed a human rights complaint against the federal government claiming discrimination against First Nation children.
She says the lawsuit changed her relationship with the department. Soon after, Blackstock said she was barred from a departmental meeting she had attended with Ontario chiefs.
“They barred me from the room,” said Blackstock. “And had a security guard guard me during the time I was there.”
The incident led Blackstock to file an Access to Information request about herself, to see what information the department had on her.
It took a year and a half for her to receive the file and, to her surprise, they watched her every move.
“Not only had they been on my personal Facebook page, but they had a government employee go to their home at night and log in as an individual, not as the government of Canada…and go onto my Facebook page and take a snapshot of it and then have that in a government of Canada log,” she said.
Aboriginal Affairs staffers also monitored Blackstock as she made presentations about the state of First Nations child welfare across the country.
The file contains briefing notes with critical details of the topic and her speeches.
APTN National News contacted the department.
The department refused to comment on the Blackstock file and instead issued a statement saying Aboriginal Affairs “routinely monitors and analyses the public environment as it relates to the department’s policies programs, services and initiatives…social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are public forums, accessible to all.”
27 Edward Snowden Quotes About U.S. Government Spying That Should Send A Chill Up Your Spine
“With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your e-mails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
“Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere… I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President…“
“To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone.
“The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things… And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse. [The NSA will] say that… because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”
The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about U.S. government spying that should send a chill up your spine…
Would you be willing to give up what Edward Snowden has given up? He has given up his high paying job, his home, his girlfriend, his family, his future and his freedom just to expose the monolithic spy machinery that the U.S. government has been secretly building to the world. He says that he does not want to live in a world where there isn’t any privacy. He says that he does not want to live in a world where everything that he says and does is recorded. Thanks to Snowden, we now know that the U.S. government has been spying on us to a degree that most people would have never even dared to imagine. Up until now, the general public has known very little about the U.S. government spy grid that knows almost everything about us. But making this information public is going to cost Edward Snowden everything. Essentially, his previous life is now totally over. And if the U.S. government gets their hands on him, he will be very fortunate if he only has to spend the next several decades rotting in some horrible prison somewhere. There is a reason why government whistleblowers are so rare. And most Americans are so apathetic that they wouldn’t even give up watching their favorite television show for a single evening to do something good for society. Most Americans never even try to make a difference because they do not believe that it will benefit them personally. Meanwhile, our society continues to fall apart all around us. Hopefully the great sacrifice that Edward Snowden has made will not be in vain. Hopefully people will carefully consider what he has tried to share with the world. The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about U.S. government spying that should send a chill up your spine…
#1 “The majority of people in developed countries spend at least some time interacting with the Internet, and Governments are abusing that necessity in secret to extend their powers beyond what is necessary and appropriate.”
#2 “…I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.”
#3 “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to.”
#4 “…I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
#5 “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything.”
#6 “With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your e-mails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
#7 “Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere… I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President…”
#8 “To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that’s the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or someone that they suspect of terrorism, they are collecting YOUR communications to do so.”
#9 “I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.”
#10 “…they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.”
#11 “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded. …it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life.”
#12 “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”
#13 “Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.”
#14 “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
#15 “I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
#16 “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong.”
#17 “I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act.”
#18 “There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.”
#19 “The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things… And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse. [The NSA will] say that… because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”
#20 “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”
#21 “You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk.”
#22 “I know the media likes to personalize political debates, and I know the government will demonize me.”
#23 “We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”
#24 “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end.”
#25 “There’s no saving me.”
#26 “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night.”
#27 “I do not expect to see home again.”
Would you make the same choice that Edward Snowden made? Most Americans would not. One CNN reporter says that he really admires Snowden because he has tried to get insiders to come forward with details about government spying for years, but none of them were ever willing to…
As a digital technology writer, I have had more than one former student and colleague tell me about digital switchers they have serviced through which calls and data are diverted to government servers or the big data algorithms they’ve written to be used on our e-mails by intelligence agencies. I always begged them to write about it or to let me do so while protecting their identities. They refused to come forward and believed my efforts to shield them would be futile. “I don’t want to lose my security clearance. Or my freedom,” one told me.
And if the U.S. government has anything to say about it, Snowden is most definitely going to pay for what he has done. In fact, according to the Daily Beast, a directorate known as “the Q Group” is already hunting Snowden down…
The people who began chasing Snowden work for the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, according to former U.S. intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity. The directorate, sometimes known as “the Q Group,” is continuing to track Snowden now that he’s outed himself as The Guardian’s source, according to the intelligence officers.
If Snowden is not already under the protection of some foreign government (such as China), it will just be a matter of time before U.S. government agents get him.
And how will they treat him once they find him? Well, one reporter overheard a group of U.S. intelligence officials talking about how Edward Snowden should be “disappeared”. The following is from a Daily Mail article that was posted on Monday…
A group of intelligence officials were overheard yesterday discussing how the National Security Agency worker who leaked sensitive documents to a reporter last week should be ‘disappeared.’
Foreign policy analyst and editor at large of The Atlantic, Steve Clemons, tweeted about the ‘disturbing’ conversation after listening in to four men who were sitting near him as he waited for a flight at Washington’s Dulles airport.
‘In Dulles UAL lounge listening to 4 US intel officials saying loudly leaker & reporter on #NSA stuff should be disappeared recorded a bit,’ he tweeted at 8:42 a.m. on Saturday.
According to Clemons, the men had been attending an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
As an American, I am deeply disturbed that the U.S. government is embarrassing itself in front of the rest of the world like this.
The fact that we are collecting trillions of pieces of information on people all over the planet is a massive embarrassment and the fact that our politicians are defending this practice now that it has been exposed is a massive embarrassment.
If the U.S. government continues to act like a Big Brother police state, then the rest of the world will eventually conclude that is exactly what we are. At that point we become the “bad guy” and we lose all credibility with the rest of the planet.
Explosive new report alleges widespread RCMP abuse of Indigenous women and girls
February 14, 2013
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A new report by Human Rights Watch alleging widespread abuse by the RCMP against Indigenous women and girls was the subject of fierce debate Wednesday in Parliament. The 89-page report “described abusive treatment by police officers, including excessive use of force, and physical and sexual assault.”
“Those Who Take Us Away” details police failure to protect Indigenous women and girls in northern British Columbia in and around Highway 16 (known as the “Highway of Tears”), documents allegations of RCMP violence and abuse against Indigenous women, and calls on the government to convene a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
In Question Period Wednesday, the Conservative government ignored calls from the opposition to call a national inquiry. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said, “I would encourage anyone with information that bears on these matters to pass it along to the appropriate authorities.”
Human Rights Watch’s website provides a summary of the report’s findings:
Human Rights Watch conducted research along Highway 97 and along the 724-kilometer stretch of Highway 16 that has become infamous for the dozens of women and girls who have been reported missing or were found dead in its vicinity since the late 1960s. In July and August 2012, Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 50 indigenous women and girls, and conducted an additional 37 interviews with families of murdered and missing women, indigenous leaders, community service providers, and others across 10 communities.
Indigenous women and girls told Human Rights Watch that the RCMP has failed to protect them. They also described instances of abusive policing, including excessive use of force against girls, strip searches of women by male officers, and physical and sexual abuse. One woman said that in July, four police officers took her to a remote location, raped her, and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
Women who call the police for help have been blamed for the abuse, shamed over alcohol or substance use, and have found themselves at risk of arrest for actions taken in self-defense, women and community service providers told Human Rights Watch.
Despite policies requiring active investigation of all reports of missing persons, some family members and service providers who made calls to police to report missing women or girls said the police failed to investigate the disappearances promptly.
Today is a national day of action for missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.
In Parliament today, the Liberals are expected to bring forward a motion calling for a special parliamentary committee to investigate the missing and murdered women.
Human Rights Watch noted that it was not the first international organization calling attention to the plight of Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
United Nations human rights bodies have criticized Canada for the inadequate government response to violence against indigenous women and girls. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women announced in December 2011 that it was opening an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. In 2008, the committee called on the government “to examine the reasons for the failure to investigate the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and to take the necessary steps to remedy the deficiencies in the system.”
The government of Canada has taken some steps to address the murders and disappearances, Human Rights Watch said, but the persistence of the violence indicates a need for a national public commission of inquiry.
“The high rate of violence against indigenous women and girls has caused widespread alarm for many years,” Rhoad said. “The eyes of the world are on Canada to see how many more victims it takes before the government addresses this issue in a comprehensive and coordinated way.”
NDP MP Niki Ashton criticized the government’s response to this latest report as “callous.”
“Families are hurting, communities are hurting and they want to see a commitment to action. That’s why we’re calling for an inquiry.”
Photo: Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch