Sep 13, 2014 - Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards and the Corporate ‘REDWASH’ Agenda – An Open Letter by Clayton Thomas-Muller


Dear Indigenous Peoples Movement,

We need to talk (again) about a serious issue threatening our livelihood and our collective inherit and treaty rights known as corporate sponsorship and the ‘REDWASH’ agenda [of our artistic and education institutions]

Last night the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards (APCA) happened in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba and some of our brightest artists and their work were recognized.

The APCA show was sponsored by some of of the biggest violators of Indigenous/Treaty Rights in this country, here is a short list of these corporate criminals:

  • Transcanda Pipeline Corporations (Grand Rapids Mother Pipeline-Alberta, KXL-USA, Energy East-Alberta to New Brunswick pipelines)

  • Enbridge (Northern Gateway, Great Lakes Pipelines, Line9-Ontario-Main, Alberta Clipper-Minnesota)

  • Manitoba Hydro (Mega Hydro Expansion-Northern Manitoba)

  • Royal Bank of Canada (biggest financier of destructive fossil fuel and mining development in Canada most notably tar sands and associated pipelines.)

  • The Northern Company (food monopoly in northern Canada, price gouging, exploiting food deserts in First Nations Metis and Inuit communities)

These companies and their investors are committing genocide & ecocide on Indigenous peoples and our sacred lands and waters thru their operations and by funding the lobby effort to deconstruct and attack our collective rights via the termination tables agenda, yet are still able to be corporate sponsors of events like the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards.

Here is a post I put up a year or so ago on the matter of Corporate Sponsorship of another high profile event Indispire….

Couple thoughts on Corporate Sponsorship of our Indian Arts Institutions…for those of you that recently went to the Indispire Awards Show (formally National Aboriginal Achievement Awards). You should know they approached me a couple years ago about receiving their National Award for Environmental work…I told them no thank you, and that the minor recognition I would receive to the work I do from the award ceremonies and its associated PR machine would not come anywhere close to the social capitol their corporate sponsors would receive by green washing (or redwashing in this case) their operations with my personal name or the social license to operate as business as usual in our Native Lands they receive by being showcased in front of Canada as “Good” corporate neighbours to First Nations. When the truth of the matter is, they are the reason along with Canadian Apartheid Indian Policies that we as Native Peoples continue to suffer under colonial occupation…..we must end corporate sponsorship of our arts institutions by these genocidal corporations…having a major mining company or energy company sponsor these events is no different then having Du Marier or Players (Imperial) tobacco company sponsor our head start programs, or havinga porn company sponsor a teen age body image campaign…..they bring death, cancer and destruction to our people, land and water in all places they operate.

I know that many of our peoples have become dependent on the economic benefits of these artistic and educational operations for your livelihood, I am not attacking this. I am however pointing out that this kind of private sector incursion in to our institutions like the APCA greatly supports the devolution & termination agenda of the Federal Government to devolve their legal and fiduciary obligations defined by inherit rights and treaty rights. The corporate sponsorship agenda is to ‘REDWASH’ many of the front line impacts that their investments and operations externalize on local communities like in the Alberta tar sands or in the 185 First Nations from Alberta to New Brunswick who’s water ways and hunting grounds will be effected by Transcanada pipeline’s Energy East project currently being peddled to our peoples by former National Chief, Phil Fontaine and his consulting firm Iskogen.

(Phil has been secured in a special consultant role with the Royal Bank to help them gain access to the Aboriginal Market, Royal Bank is the biggest financier of tar sands development in Canada. Recently he has been appointed to the New Brunswick Power Authority, the primary oversight body presiding over the TransCanada Energy East Pipe Line of which his consulting firm Iskogen is doing the consultation on behalf).

Corporations and their ‘redwashing’ corporate sponsorship agenda is designed to blind First Nations, Inuit and Metis as well as Canadians into thinking these companies are all good because hey, they give so much back…right?

No, the money these companies give to the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards and other awards groups is nothing compared to the costs our Sovereign Nations absorb in the form of human and ecological health impacts, Treaty and aboriginal rights violations, violence against our Woman, assimilation of our youth to an inherently unsustainable world and cosmos vision that directly violates our natural laws or original instructions….

It is my belief that to be sovereign we must develop a comprehensive multi-pronged approach to becoming economically self sufficient that is rooted in Anti-Colonialism, Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and be bio-regionally planned. We must do this in a phased long term strategic framework that addresses in an intentional and meaningful way our dependency on these revenue streams that come from the very companies that would see us disappear like the buffalo…..

We must not be afraid to call out injustice, we must not be muted by the perceived social license that the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards lends to these corporations…we are in a fight that is about corporate power vs the carrying capacity of our sacred Mother Earth and the communities that depend on her for their livelihood.

I challenge all the recipients of this years 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards to post your thoughts about these companies and their operations in your homelands….to speak for your people who are being harmed, to speak for our water, our air our sacred earth, the cosmos and for your children yet unborn, speak out even if your voice shakes.

Ekosani Maha, Ki Na Na Skomitin

Clayton Thomas-Muller

Pukatawagan Cree, Treaty 6 Territory

posted from un-ceaded Algonquin territory

*this is my personal opinion and does not reflect any of the groups I organize for….

Last Real Indians