By John Bacher; Joy Phillips; Maxime Faille | 1988-12-01 12:00:00

Innu Civilly Disobey

GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR --Last September, six Innu with their priest, Father Jim Roche, occupied the Lac Minipi bombing range near here. They demanded that this land be given back to them, and that the militarization of their homeland be halted. This forced the British, Dutch, and West Germans to suspend their bombing practice.

Of the 10,000 Innu people, 800 live in Sheshatshit, a community near Goose Bay, They spend much time hunting and fishing on their land. Daily, they and the animals they hunt are frightened by the screaming jets flying 100 feet above their heads. After protesting against this illegal use of their land since 1980, with no response from the Canadian government, they are now pleading with Europeans to respect their rights.

On September 15, about 70 Innu men, women, and children occupied the German section of the base. They were arrested and detained in a recreation hall. They demanded to meet the NATO committee that is evaluating Goose Bay for a proposed $500 million Fighter Training Centre.

On September 22, about 100 protestors occupied the Dutch section of the base (where F-16s are parked) and had to be carried to buses when arrested. The base commander expressed concern about the security of the aircraft. By October 4, most Innu residents from Sheshatshit had moved into a protest tent camp on the runway. The Catholic Bishop visited and called on the government to recognize Innu rights. Rather than negotiating with the protestors, however, the government continued jailing them. Five Innu, Daniel Ashini, Ben Michel, David Nuke, Peter Penashue, Michel Gregoire, and Father Roche, chose to stay in jail until ministers Bill McKnight and Perrin Beatty agreed to meet them. This has not happened.

Yugoslav Activists Jailed


TORONTO--Last summer, a crackdown on independent peace activists took place in the Slovene republic of Yugoslavia. Journalists Janez Jansa, David Tasic, Franci Zavrl, and military officer Ivan Borstner were convicted of betraying military secrets in a secret military court, as some 10,000 people protested outside. Their sentences ranged from six months to four years.

This took place in one of the most liberal parts of the Communist world, which has been a centre of open, legal protest on peace and ecological issues. It emerged during growing public criticism of the military, after smuggling of weapons from Sweden to Yugoslavia to the Middle East and Africa was exposed.

According to Marko Hren, the military had a plan for a coup in Slovenia, including a list of people to be arrested. It failed for lack of support by top Communist officials. Those leaders expected that massive non-violent demonstrations would follow.

A Lonnnnngg Walk

HAMILTON -- Peace Wave consists of a young grandfather, Derek Youngs, "The Family" (Keith Thirkell, Teoni Spathelfer, Désirée, aged 8, and Orielle, aged 1) and three West Germans. Derek and The Family are neighbors in Galiano Island, B.C. but are not related, and the young Germans turned up to join them.

Derek is an old hand at long peace walks. One day when he walked past Teoni's house, she hailed him. He gave her a copy of his newsletter, and within three hours it was all decided. Five days later The Family left in their four-wheel drive truck. On May 27 they started walking from Halifax to Nanoose Bay!

How do they manage with the baby? "With great difficulty," says Keith. They never know where they will spend the night. Sometimes the truck, which is painted with peace posters, goes ahead, and whoever is in it will ask at likely places, such as churches. Money? They haven't much, and what they have comes in various ways: donations, the sale of T-shifts with their logo, and the occasional job. (They were all off to pick grapes for a day after we had seen them.) Weather? They know what they face on the prairies and Rockies this winter. They plan to reach Vancouver at the end of April for the Peace Walk, thence to Nanoose.

This little group is walking for all. To send a donation, the address is c/o Zachariah Crow, Box 33825, Station D, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 4L6 (cheques payable to Derek Youngs). $10 to the same address will bring you the newsletter, "The Giveaway," published about every two months, with their expected itinerary. Watch for them, and offer them beds, baths, or just the use of your washing machine.

Canada Elected to the Security Council

Competing for the two "Western and Other" seats were Greece, Canada, and Finland, while Bangladesh and Malaysia sought the vacant Asian seat.

Canada assumes its seat at a time when the political balance of the Security Council has undergone an important political shift seen as favoring the 100-strong Non-Aligned Movement.

The previous five non-permanent members represented a highly pro-Western presence. Pro-Western Zambia and Japan are being replaced by Marxist Ethiopia and nonaligned Malaysia.

Incoming Canada and Finland, though Western states, are seen as less subservient than outgoing Italy and West Germany. Canada is "widely perceived as being more sympathetic to many Third World demands and Arab views," according to the New York Times. Neutral Finland is especially disposed not to offend its powerful neighbor, the Soviet Union.

This shift is regarded by diplomats as significant, as it comes at a time when the Security Council, as the Executive Body of the United Nations, is taking on an increased role in resolving regional disputes.

The election marks a second substantial "victory" for Canada at the U.N. this year. Canada's Ambassador for Disarmament, Douglas Roche, was elected as Chairman of the important First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, which deals with Political and Security issues. Also adding to Canada's U.N. curriculum vitae this year was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the U.N. Peacekeeping Forces: Canada is the only member state to have participated in every peacekeeping operation in the history of the United Nations. Over 80,000 Canadians have served with the Blue Helmets, 78 of whom have given their lives.

Peace Magazine Dec 1988-Jan 1989

Peace Magazine Dec 1988-Jan 1989, page 24. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by John Bacher here
Search for other articles by Joy Phillips here
Search for other articles by Maxime Faille here

Peace Magazine homepage