Canada: Feds monitoring 'aboriginal hotspots'

Date of publication: 
14 June 2011

Documents recently uncovered by First Nations researchers show the federal government, along with the RCMP and CSIS, has been monitoring aboriginal “occupations and protests” since 2006.

“A number of us who are involved in First Nations policy issues have been looking at the criminalization of First Nations activists by the government, for being involved in protests or political actions,” said Russell Diabo, who first published the information in his newsletter the First Nation Strategic Bulletin.

The documents, obtained through an access to information request, include two presentations made by officials with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the RCMP and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, on monitoring “Aboriginal extremism.”

The documents show that as of summer 2006, members of the Privy Council Office, CSIS, Public Safety Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs and other federal departments were holding conference calls to share information about aboriginal protests and occupations.

INAC also began a “Hotspot Reporting System” to spread information about “existing and emerging risks” to work with intelligence reporting systems run by CSIS’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP.

It included summaries of events in First Nations, including peaceful pro-tests, highway blockades and seemingly unrelated events such as an underground oil spill.

They are described as reports “regarding activities that threaten public safety in relation to issues relating to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.” In some, the information is attributed to media and “public safety partners.”

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (formerly INAC) John Duncan did not respond to an interview request, but his staff sent an email that acknowledged the existence of aboriginal “hotspots” reports.