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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 15, 2001 - Issue 51


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Ontario Federation of Labour Honours Leonard Peltier
with Human Rights Award


Leonard PeltierAlmost 26 years after his false extradition from Canada to the United States, Leonard Peltier was honoured on December 5, 2001 with the 2001 OFL Human Rights Award from the Ontario Federation of Labour. The province's federation of trade unions represents about 600,000 of the estimated 2.2 million unionized workers in Canada. Several hundred delegates from across the province as well as national labour representatives attended the OFL's 6th Biennial Convention in Toronto.

Wayne Samuelson, OFL President and Ethel Birkett-LaValley, Secretary-Treasurer, together with Executive Vice-President Irene Harris, and others stood on stage to honour Leonard Peltier and his lifetime sacrifices for his people. Frank Dreaver, co-ordinator and international spokesperson of the LPDC Canada (Coalition), received the award for Leonard Peltier and spoke of new avenues emerging in Canada and the need for labour' s continued support.

Members of the OFL Human Rights Committee were on stage including its co-chairs Tim Brown (OPSEU) and Bob Borch (CUPW). Tim Brown, an aboriginal representative, spoke of increasing phone restrictions used inside prison denying Leonard the chance to speak with more people and to audiences. Mr. Brown introduced a specially prepared video compilation of still photos together with a song by singer-songwriter Robbie Robertson that included a voice recorded message from Leonard.

The audience was clearly moved by Leonard Peltier's acceptance statement read out by Mrs. Birkett-LaValley. He congratulated the Canadian labour movement and the OFL for its leadership role in human and civil rights and for recognizing the importance of solidarity and brotherhood. Examples of Canadian labour solidarity in his case include parallel clemency campaigns launched last year by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and many of the national unions in co-ordination with the LPDC-C organizing of a legal inquiry and submission of Canadian documents to the U.S. president. In another example, Ethel Birkett-LaValley, the first aboriginal-elected member to the OFL executive council and Warren Allmand, President of Rights & Democracy, gave strong presentations of the case at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in South Africa.

"When working people unite to make a better society and world, hope for all of our futures can be embraced," stated Leonard. He also expressed his hope that the American labour movement would be influenced to join in a North American-wide campaign for justice in his case. The LPDC Canada (Coalition) is researching international and Canadian appeals to enhance American efforts to uncover evidence and pressure U.S. courts for commutation of sentence and a new and fair hearing process. A CLC-sanctioned labour working group is a key component of the coalition that includes legal, aboriginal, human rights and political representatives in Canada.


Dear Brothers, Sisters, Friends and Supporters,

I am very grateful to receive the 2001 Ontario Federation of Labour Human Rights Award. I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the human rights representatives, executive councils and membership of the OFL for this honor. It gives me great hope to know that the OFL continues to support both me in my personal struggle for freedom, and my people in our continuing quest for human rights and justice. I want to congratulate the OFL for taking a leadership role in Human and Civil Rights in Canada and for recognizing the importance of solidarity and brotherhood. When working people unite to make a better society and world, hope for all of our futures can be embraced.

I want to personally thank the Canadian labour movement and its national unions for supporting my bid for clemency. Due to the outpouring of support that came forth, we came painfully close to succeeding. It appears as though Bill Clinton had planned to sign my clemency petition, but backed down at the last minute due to behind the scenes pressure. But we have not given up.

I am encouraged by the new plans of the LPDC Canada and LPDC U.S. and I want to ask the OFL to continue its collaboration with us. Although the clemency defeat was devastating, we must build upon the incredible momentum and support that had united. I understand that the LPDC Canada is developing a national coalition on my behalf, and I am pleased to hear of the growing number of unions and labour leadership that have joined. I hope that more labour organizations here in the U.S. will follow your lead and also be influenced to join our campaign for justice. It is the support of the people that allows me to continue.

In closing, I want to wish each of you and your families the very best. I know that these are difficult and uncertain times for us all and I am grateful to know that you are still supporting me and my people nonetheless. The OFL's leadership in Human Rights and social justice is needed today more than ever and I thank you for all of your good work.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

For more info. contact LPDC Canada (Coalition) at (416) 439-1893 Until Freedom Is Won!
The New Peltier Justice Campaign

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044

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