Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald discusses the issue of land rights in Canada in light of the Wetʼsuwetʼen hereditary chiefs opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline..
Citroën Ami. Citroën
- Citroën has announced the Ami, a tiny, all-electric “quadricycle” meant for traversing city streets.
- The vehicle, which will be sold in Europe, is so small that you don’t need a license to drive one.
- It has a range of 43 miles and is nearly a foot shorter than a Smart Car, making it ideal for quick trips in urban areas.
- The Ami is also incredibly affordable; drivers can order one for roughly $6,600, lease one for $22 per month, or rent one on-demand for around $0.29 per minute, at current exchange rates.
The ‘light quadricycle’ is coming to Europe this Spring
On a warming planet, most of the ice field covering West Antarctica would be lost, researchers conclude.
We’ve all heard the saying: “The best way to predict the future is to study the past.” And that’s exactly what climate scientists are doing to predict future global sea-levels.
A recent study led by Chris Turney, Professor of Earth and Climate Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia, explains that during the last interglacial period, about 129,000-116,000 years ago, Antarctica experienced a massive thaw that caused sea levels to rise up to three metres in some parts of the planet. According to Turney, temperatures across the polar oceans were less than 2°C above current values, and an ocean temperature rise of less than 2°C led to that scenario.
This is a cause for concern in present-day, as we continue to see temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate in the polar regions — thus causing ice to melt more rapidly and subsequently contributing to rising sea-levels. On a warming planet, most of the ice field covering western Antarctica would be lost, researchers conclude.
An aerial photo of the Getz Glacier ice shelf front on November 5, 2016, reveals water so clear that you can see some underwater portions of the ice shelf, including two cavities being hollowed out near the water line. Source: NASA Operation Ice Bridge photo.
This past February 6th, temperatures measured at the Argentine research base of Esperanza reached 18.3°C. That was officially the highest temperature measured in the southern continent on record, exceeding the previous record set in March 2015 with a high of 17.3°C. The surprising thing is that a few days later, on February 9th, the thermometer at the Argentine base of Marambio, located on Seymour Island, registered an even higher temperature of 20.75°C.
These temperatures are not common, and although they are certainly eye-openers, scientists investigating climate change in Antarctica have pointed out that they cannot be directly attributed to anthropogenic climate change affecting the region.
What really worries those investigating the metamorphosis that Antarctica is experiencing this decade, is the rise in ocean temperatures as it relates to accelerated ice melt and its potential contribution to sea-level rise.
The Pine Island Glacier drains part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet into the Amundsen Sea via Pine Island Bay. Recently, the glacier has been calving massive icebergs, such as this one, designated B-46, captured in a NASA satellite image from November 7th, 2018. Image by NASA Earth Observatory.
WHY WESTERN ANTARCTICA IS MOST VULNERABLE
Unlike the East Antarctic ice sheet, which is mainly on high terrain, the West Antarctic ice platform rests on a seabed. It is bordered by large areas of floating ice that protect the main section of the ice field. As ocean water warms and travels through the lower cavities of these platforms, the ice below melts, reducing the thickness of the platforms, making the central ice sheet highly vulnerable to higher water temperatures.
While most scientists investigating Antarctica drill vertically into the ice core to extract samples, Turney’s team used a different method; the horizontal analysis of the ice core, based on isotope data collected from samples of volcanic ash, gases and DNA from bacteria trapped in the ice. The rate at which the ice fields of West Antarctica melt indicates that this region of the continent is especially vulnerable to ocean warming. In addition, this mantle of ice rests on oceanic waters that continue to warm year after year.
A look at the future of Antarctica’s ice melt, via numerical simulations conducted by the research team, shows the clear impact ocean warming would have on Antarctic ice sheets several centuries from now. For example, if we saw a warming of 2°C over the next thousand years, sea level would rise around 3.8 metres. The simulations also indicate that over the next 200 years, ice fields would melt first, with sea level subsequently increasing.
Map 1 : Heat flux into the deep ocean (below 2,000 meters) between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, based on repeat ship cruise data. Places where the deep ocean gained heat are red; places where it lost heat are blue. NOAA Climate.gov map, based on data provided by Greg Johnson.
Scientists also worry if this continuous rise in sea temperatures will end up affecting other areas of Antarctica. If so, the excess energy could accelerate ice melt beyond a tipping point that would eventually amplify ice melt even further while leading to much higher sea levels across the globe.
White supremacist vigilante groups have put a call out for people to use violence against blockades throughout the country today. If there is an ongoing blockade or action in your area numbers are needed to keep people safe.
Two Sons of Oden members approached the BC legislature yesterday evening and then surrounded it with trucks honking their horns. Bomb threats have also been made against the Unist’ot’en and Tyendinaga Mohawks.
The Indigenous youth occupying the BC legislature have put a call out for people to stand with them throughout the day today.
While this is incredibly upsetting people are not standing down and new actions are happening every day. It is imperative that people show up and stand in solidarity with the indigenous people on the front lines making sacrifices and standing in harms way for what is right.
Three incredible videos were released yesterday that illustrate the amazing power of this movement:
- Chief Woos reflecting on the visit of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs to Mohawk Territory
- A video of the Gitxsan taking over the highway of tears for 8 hours and forcing the RCMP to release their hereditary chiefs who were arrested after blocking the rail line.
- Victoria Redsun speaking to APTN about being arrested during the raid on the Unist’ot’en Camp.
If you can, take 15 minutes to pause your day and watch them all in full. This moment is historic, and has only just begun.
ACTIONS AND FUNDRAISERS HAPPENING TODAY
BURNABY (Feb 29): https://www.facebook.com/events/215368846174530/
BELLEVILLE (Feb 29): https://www.facebook.com/events/193144761758212/
KELOWNA (Feb 29): https://www.facebook.com/events/2640671029502660/
NORTH VANCOUVER (Feb 29): https://www.facebook.com/events/474242896790615/
RIMOUSKI (Feb 29): https://www.facebook.com/events/606810776547690/
TORONTO (Feb 29):https://www.facebook.com/events/552005328856191/
“On Feb 24, Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Spookw, Gwininitxw, and Dawamuux were arrested at a Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk solidarity blockade on the CN rail tracks that run through unceded Spookw territory in the town of New Hazelton, British Columbia.
14 arrests were made in total, including journalist and filmmaker Melissa Cox who contributed footage to this video report.
When Gitxsan community members learned of the arrests, they blocked Highway 16 and demanded the release of the chiefs. What followed was an 8 hour stand-off, where police were outnumbered and stood down as Gitxsan community members, their Wet’suwet’en neighbours, and supporters held bonfires on the main highway through Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en territories, and blocked all traffic.
The Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, together with hereditary chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en nation, were plaintiffs in the landmark Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court case. The Supreme Court of Canada found that Canada had never extinguished title to over 55,000km2 of Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en land.
When the Chiefs were released, the spontaneous gathering dispersed with no further arrests. Upon release, Chief Spookw told the crowd: ‘I hope this increases the resolve of our people because it’s our future, our title to this land that’s at risk. For them to come and arrest me on my territory, my family’s territory, my Wilp’s [House Group’s] territory, to come and arrest us for trespass – is wrong. It’s an issue that has to be corrected. They cannot have that option.’
Video report by Michael Toledano and Melissa Cox”
speaks about being arrested at the Unist’ot’en Camp
“I went to Unist’ot’en in the summer for the youth art camp, and I recognized the healing of the land, and it really angered me and hurt me deep inside seeing the CGL workers and RCMP going through the territory. I asked the matriarchs of the territory if I could come back for the Winter. I decided to come back after learning that the Wet’suwet’en speak a similar dialect to the Dene and I recognize them as my relatives, so I saw this as an ancestral fight that I needed to fight.”
Love and Rage,
Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade
The landmark high court judgment will resound around the world and show Britain can lead in tackling the climate crisis
An Extinction Rebellion protest outside Heathrow airport, April 2019. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters
By some strange quirk of fate, it is exactly 12 years to the day since I, alongside fellow climate activists, climbed on to the roof of the House of Commons to protest against plans for a third runway at Heathrow. Today’s high court judgment is a vindication of everything climate activists have been saying for more than a decade: Britain cannot honour its national commitment to tackle climate change at the same time as building a new runway at one of the busiest airports in the world.
To be precise, the court did not quite say this. It ruled that ministers’ failure to take the UK’s climate change commitments into account rendered the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – which effectively gave the green light to a third runway – unlawful. In order to be lawful, the ANPS would have to be rewritten to include a credible plan for squaring expansion with our commitment under the Paris Agreement to seek to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C. The court was careful to clarify that it has no opinion on whether or not this is possible.
As someone who has been fighting these plans for 15 years I can confirm that it isn’t. If the third runway is built, there are only three possible outcomes: either we will fail on climate change; or we will have to constrain capacity elsewhere, roughly equivalent to closing Manchester airport; or we simply won’t be able to use the new runway at Heathrow, making it one of the most expensive white elephants in history.
It is difficult to overstate the significance of this decision. Heathrow airport is a bastion of the global fossil fuel economy, so the symbolism alone of this defeat will resonate loudly around the world, giving courage to the movement fighting for a livable future – while striking fear in the hearts of the corporate fossil interests still determined to profit while the planet burns. It also sends a clear and timely message in advance of the UK hosting the most important UN climate summit since Paris, Cop26: Britain is prepared to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis. Scrapping Heathrow expansion is a surprise gift to climate diplomacy.
But the mechanics of this decision could be even more important for the climate struggle. A British court has ruled, quite sensibly, that domestic policy decisions must be assessed against their impact on the UK’s ability to fulfil commitments under the Paris Agreement. The British judicial system remains incredibly influential globally, with courts around the world modelled on our own, so this means any high-carbon infrastructure project – from motorways to fracking wells to coal-fired power plants – could potentially now be blocked as unlawful in any of the 195 countries that are signatories to the Paris Agreement.
So what happens next? Well, the airport will appeal, but it will lose – because the argument is unwinnable. Expanding Heathrow will have no positive impact on the UK’s economy. Pressure to expand Heathrow has nothing to do with increasing the number of international business flights, which are in sustained decline across all of London’s airports. In reality, the industry’s push for expansion is overwhelmingly about handling ever more international transfer passengers, alongside more and more outbound leisure flights by wealthy frequent flyers from London and the south-east. These are all journeys that cost the UK money rather than bringing it in. My own suspicion is that it may not even get as far as an appeal, as Heathrow’s investors will now get cold feet and find excuses to withdraw from the project. The third runway is dead, and cannot be resuscitated.
More widely, today’s judgment marks a turning point in the climate struggle. It looks like the beginning of the British state taking the implications of the climate emergency as seriously as its citizens have now begun to. For UK air travel, this means there is turbulence ahead. We can no longer muddle on with the pretence that ever-increasing demand for flights can be met while also reducing emissions down to zero. The uniquely generous tax breaks that have kept air travel artificially cheap must end, but if the climate movement wants to maintain the support of the wider public, we must do this in the fairest way possible. That means bringing in a frequent flyer levy, which would protect access to some air travel for all, regardless of income, while still keeping aviation emissions within safe limits for the climate. Whether Boris Johnson’s government has the stomach for this kind of medicine remains to be seen. SOURCE
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is proposing that its Peacekeepers head up a temporary Indigenous police force to patrol Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia.
Grand Chief Joseph Norton says the measure would allow the RCMP to withdraw from the area as hereditary chiefs and government representatives work to negotiate an end to a pipeline dispute. MORE
As the International Days of Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en build in momentum across Turtle Island, the responses of the Canadian and British Columbian governments have been abysmal.
The Delgamuukw Supreme Court decision in 1997 affirmed that Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have legal jurisdiction over the nation’s territory. In violation of this decision, both the provincial and federal governments have continued to sanction illegal RCMP attacks on camps and Indigenous land defenders on the land of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Beginning on February 6, the RCMP raided monitoring posts, supporter camps, and finally the Unist’ot’en camp, healing lodge and camp on Monday, February 10, 2020.
Shamefully, this was not the first time that governments have sanctioned RCMP raids since the Unist’ot’en camp was established in 2009. And late last year, the Guardian revealed that the RCMP has been prepared to use lethal force in previous raids. It is obvious that the Canadian and British Columbian governments are putting the rights and interests of a corporation over the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
This pro-industry attack on land defenders is not a new development. An article from the Narwhal earlier this week highlighted that the B.C. government has been pushing to abolish Aboriginal title to benefit industry since at least the Delgamuukw decision. Instead of prioritizing the healing of residential school survivors, the government discussed using federal funds to pressure Nations into treaty negotiations, and other tactics to fight land rights with legal challenges.
We saw another clear example of our governments’ pro-corporate stance when the B.C. Supreme Court extended the Coastal GasLink (CGL) injunction in late December. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs govern the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, and have never given permission to CGL to enter or work on their territories. As such, the law of this land is Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en Law). The fact that the provincial and federal government moved against a Supreme Court case law decision and Anuk ‘nu’at’en, means that their actions were both illegal, and tell us a lot about their priorities.
The government’s pro-industry move is also in violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was affirmed by the B.C. government just months ago. Article 10 of the declaration clearly states that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous peoples concerned…”
Our country continues to experience a corporate-led, colonial counter-revolution working to undermine the advancement of Indigenous rights.
The Wet’suwet’en are not alone in their struggle to push governments to recognize and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in their daily lives.
This week in Nova Scotia, the Council of Canadians joined Mi’kmaq grassroots grandmothers and water protectors in uncovering new documents showing the Alton Gas Project, a fossil fuel storage project proposed to take place on the land of the Mi’kmaq Nation, would violate the federal Fisheries Act. Rather than enforce its own laws, the federal government opted to pursue an exception that would allow Alton Gas to pollute the local river and introduce toxic brine eight times saltier than seawater to local fisheries.
The Alton Gas Project also illustrates how effectively corporations and billionaires have captured our democracy – and our ability as a society to protect human rights and fulfill our obligations to tackle the climate crisis. The Mi’kmaq Nation did not provide Free, Prior and Informed Consent to the project as required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
These actions in B.C. and Nova Scotia effectively place a shameful asterisk on Canada’s claims to support Indigenous rights and reconciliation, with fine print underneath.
The struggles of the Mi’kmaq and Wet’suwet’en Nations are crucial in pushing against the corporate agenda that has captured our decision makers. Our governments have shown where they stand – it is up to us, the people, to show up and support those engaged in the front line resistance to the corporate agenda.
Call your Member of Parliament and let them know that you support the Wet’suwet’en Nation and Hereditary Chiefs.
Get information about a solidarity action near you. If there is not currently an event in your community, use the Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit to organize your event and add Idle No More, Indigenous Environmental Network and Indigenous Climate Action as Facebook event co-hosts so they can help to amplify.
Council of Canadians chapters, supporters and staff are firmly in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation as they continue to assert sovereignty on their traditional territories and resist state violence.
Land defenders have shared on the Unist’ot’en Camp website: “On December 31, 2019, BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church granted an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en nation who have been stewarding and protecting our traditional territories from the destruction of multiple pipelines, including Coastal GasLink’s liquefied natural gas pipeline.” The Wet’suwet’en issued a call for international solidarity actions in response to this escalating situation.
Earlier this month, all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation evicted Coastal GasLink (CGL) from their territories. The company sought and obtained an injunction from the BC Supreme Court, which gave the Wet’suwet’en until 3pm on Friday, January 10 2020 to comply with an order to remove gates and cabins on their own lands.
In early 2019 the RCMP forcibly removed Wet’suwet’en people and their guests from the Gidimt’en checkpoint. This heavily militarized raid included assault rifles and the RCMP were authorized to use lethal force against Indigenous land defenders.
Since this brutal attack in January 2019, BC has passed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law, including the right for Indigenous nations to give free, prior and informed consent to activities on their lands. This right includes the right to say no, which is what the Wet’suwet’en are doing now.
In January 2020, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called upon Canada to halt construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline until the Wet’suwet’en people grant free, prior and informed consent to the project. The committee also urged Canada to cease the forced eviction of land defenders and prohibit the use of lethal weapons against Indigenous Peoples, and to guarantee that no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP from traditional lands.
In their own words, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demand the following:
- That the province cease construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
- That the UNDRIP and our right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
- That the RCMP and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
- That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by CGL respect our laws and our governance system, and refrain from using any force to access our lands or remove our people.
To support the Wet’suwet’en Nation, you can take this action in solidarity now.
The Council of Canadians supports the demands of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and remains in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders. We demand the Governments of Canada and British Columbia end their violence against Indigenous People immediately and respect the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation SOURCE
Blockades of rail lines, roads, ports and more have been happening across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en.
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Jason Hargrove
Public pressure is building through mass protests, road, rail and ferry blockades as people across the country are showing their support for the Wet’suwet’en’s right to choose what happens on their unceded ancestral land.
Coastal GasLink (formerly TransCanada) is proposing a 670-kilometre pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat in British Columbia where it would be processed in a new liquefied natural gas plant on the coastal shore. A portion of the pipeline runs through these Indigenous lands.
For years, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have been saying “no” to the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline project. When the corporation started moving onto the land, the Hereditary Chiefs asked them to leave. In response, the corporation obtained a court injunction and on February 6, armed RCMP officers forcefully removed the Hereditary Chiefs, Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and their supporters from their own land.
Here are five things you should know about the Wet’suwet’en’s fight for their rights:
1. The United Nations recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Canada must too.
The Council of Canadians supports Indigenous sovereignty, including the implementation of the United Nations Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
UNDRIP clarifies the rights of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent regarding projects that impact their lands and livelihoods. It also clarifies that Indigenous Peoples will not be forcefully removed from their lands. The British Columbia provincial government passed UNDRIP into law in November 2019.
A UN committee has urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP and immediately suspend work on the pipeline. The RCMP has offered to move its detachment near the Wet’suwet’en camps to Houston, but this is contingent on the Wet’suwet’en allowing CGL to continue to build the pipeline. This is contrary to the eviction notice and would not actually be a removal, as Houston is in Wet’suwet’en territory.
2. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs hold rights and title on ancestral lands that has been recognized by Canadian courts.
Infringing on this right jeopardizes the integrity of how the Canadian and British Columbian governments treat Aboriginal rights and title for the future.
In the 1997 case Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, Canadian courts recognized that the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs hold rights and title over ancestral lands. The Hereditary Chiefs have spent years fighting for this recognition in Canadian courts, and achieving it lays the foundation for their ongoing stewardship of ancestral lands in line with the way their community has done for generations. CGL needs their consent to be able to continue building its natural gas pipeline.
It must also be noted that for 23 years, the Canadian government has failed to reconcile its laws and priorities to respect the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Placing a pipeline on this land would permanently alter the on-the-ground context for the rights and title of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. It violates the principles that the Hereditary Chiefs have successfully fought to have recognized, which they have practiced for generations, and which allow them to continue to care for the land in ways consistent with their traditions. These traditions prioritize the health of the land for the future, which is important in the face of the climate crisis.
3. The authority of Hereditary Chiefs pre-date the authority of Band Councils.
Hereditary Chiefs represent different houses that make up the First Nation as a whole. Their titles are passed down through generations and pre-date colonization. According to the First Nations Drum, “the Wet’suwet’en nation is made up of five clans, and within those, 13 houses. The five hereditary chiefs representing the clans are all opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline running through their territory, while the elected council gave their go-ahead.”
The article goes on to state that, “elected chiefs and council generally hold authority over reserve lands and their infrastructure. Traditional chiefs oversee the territories and hold ceremonial and historical importance to First Nations.” This isn’t a question of taking sides, but of recognizing what the Supreme Court has decided – that it is the Hereditary Chiefs who have jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.
The Indigenous electoral systems came as a result of the section 74 of the Indian Act, which Canada imposed on First Nations. “It was designed to eradicate the hereditary system and create something more recognizable for the western government,” the article adds.
Both Hereditary Chiefs and Elected Councils are working on behalf of their people and hold unique roles. CGL has exploited the differences of opinion related to this project by moving forward without consent from the full community. Using the injunction from British Columbia, CGL would permanently enforce that division and jeopardize the existing mechanisms for Indigenous Peoples to give or refuse consent.
“The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have maintained their use and occupancy of their lands and hereditary governance system for thousands of years. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are the Title Holders and maintain authority and jurisdiction to make decisions on unceded lands.”
4. This is a clear example of corporate capture and how corporations have the power to override fundamental rights.
Government policies are aligned with the interests of Coastal Gaslink, a corporation that will profit from this pipeline as Indigenous rights are sacrificed.
In fact, permanently undercutting the Hereditary Chiefs’ rights and title seems to have been a longstanding corporate goal of Coastal GasLink, in part indicated by the fact that CGL asked local leaders to contract out of those rights for the future. The Canadian government is choosing to hold onto their colonial mandate, mobilizing state violence through the RCMP and corporate interests, instead of aligning government practices to reflect a proper nation-to-nation relationship. Governments – provincial and federal – could choose to honour the Hereditary Chiefs’ right to say “no,” respect that they have refused the pipeline, and shift Canadian legal systems to pave the way for a substantive and just reconciliation.
These events are an example of how governments assume that “Canadian interests” – or, in this case, the interests of a corporation – are prioritized, undercutting Indigenous rights and title, no matter how clearly those rights are recognized within Canadian law.
In addition, the climate crisis means we should be saying no to new pipelines, not allowing oil and gas companies to build them. We must move away from polluting energies, not build new infrastructure to move them. The Council of Canadians has a long history of supporting people and communities that want to protect their land, water and air from polluting extractive industries such as fracked natural gas.
5. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their supporters have called for peaceful actions in support of their concerns.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and supporters have asked for disruptive, but peaceful actions because they heighten pressure significantly for policy makers to change their decisions. The level of action makes it clear that people are no longer willing to allow colonial dispossession to take place, and that we support the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, including the ability to say “no.” The historic injustices, including denying these rights, must end, and it will take people coming together to make that happen.
This moment builds on the history of Indigenous resistance to colonial actions. It is inspiring to see people around the world joining the Wet’suwet’en’s call to action. This situation is tense and complex in many ways, but it is also a way to say that ongoing colonization and dispossession can no longer be tolerated.
Ways to add your support:
There are many ways you can get involved and add your support. If you haven’t already, please write to your Member of Parliament, phone your MP, join local solidarity actions, or read the links below to learn more.
Wet’suwet’en Crisis: Whose Rule of Law? (The Tyee, Feb 14)
The Wet’suwet’en, Aboriginal Title, and the Rule of Law: An Explainer (First Peoples Law, Feb 13)
Wet’suwet’en: Why Are Indigenous Rights Being Defined By An Energy Corporation? (Shiri Pasternak, Yellowhead Institute, Feb 7)
Corporations don’t seem to understand Indigenous jurisdiction (D.T. Cochrane, The Conversation, January 16, 2019)
On the front lines of the Indigenous resistance movement, it is young women — born after the 1990 Oka Crisis — who are taking a stand.
KANESATAKE — Brigitte Rice had been on her feet for 24 hours by Tuesday morning, hoisting the Warrior flag in one hand and using the other to slow traffic into Mohawk territory.
She came to the blockade Monday to “hold it down” for the protesters arrested for stopping rail traffic in Tyendinaga that morning. Hours after the raid, Rice was among the dozens of Mohawks on the front lines in Kanesatake, sealing off access to the reserve to show solidarity with her sister community.
They lifted the blockade early Tuesday and are allowing a single lane of traffic to pass through the reserve along Route 344.
“My son asked me if he would have to do this when he grows up. It hit me hard,” Rice said. “I really hope he doesn’t have to. I was watching live when the RCMP moved into the Wet’suwet’en camp. I started crying. It really hurt me.
“I’m here for them. I’m here for our people, for the Mohawks arrested in Tyendinaga, taken to jail for defending their land.”
As the provincial government announced plans Tuesday to try to dismantle the protest in Kahnawake, neighbouring Mohawk communities are on guard, ready to act in defence of their nation. The rail protests in Kahnawake and Akwesasne began in early February as an act of solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs blocking the construction of natural gas pipeline on their land in northern British Columbia.
The Ontario Provincial Police dismantled the Tyendinaga camp near Belleville, Ont., on Monday, spurring a blockade in Kanesatake and a slow-rolling protest on the Mercier Bridge. On Tuesday, Canadian Pacific Railway announced it has an injunction to clear protesters from their tracks in Kahnawake.
The Mohawk resistance is showcasing a new generation of activists, ones like Rice: young women born after 1990, women who are reclaiming the Kanienʼkéha language and assuming their roles as clan mothers within a sovereign Mohawk nation.
“I only started learning the language at 13 but my son is learning it in school,” she says. “He teaches me. I could cry just thinking about it.”
Across from Rice, standing with the purple Iroquois Confederacy flag draped over her shoulder, Katsi’tsaronhkwas Stacy teases her friend.
“We’re gonna be on the news,” says Stacy. “Don’t give us a hard time, we’re tired!”
Stacy works at the Kanesatake treatment centre on weekends, helping people recover from addiction. She’s a full-time student at John Abbott College with a penchant for arguing with her profs.
“One of my teachers used to be a judge, we get into sometimes,” Stacy said. “I have a physical copy of the Criminal Code in my car, we have our own laws, we hold ourselves down, we exist but the government doesn’t seem to recognize that.
“We were here for thousands of years, we have the Great Law of Peace but now that we’re stuck on reservations we’re a bunch of nobodies? Well, I want to learn the law so we can use the law to defend what’s ours by right.”
Standing behind the barricades Monday, Ellen Gabriel said these women are keeping a 1,000-year-old tradition alive.
“It is the women, in (Iroquois) culture, who hold title to the land,” said Gabriel, who played a key role in defending Kanesatake during the Oka Crisis. “It is the women who chose the chiefs and who organize the community. The next generation needs a bit of guidance, but we’re proud of their energy and their dedication.”
Some of the enduring images from 1990 are of masked men, wearing camouflage and clutching AK-47 assault rifles in defence of Kanesatake. These were immortalized on television news, documentaries and in photos splashed across newspapers throughout Canada.
Nearly 30 years later, the face of Mohawk activism is a much different one. Standing near the women on Route 344, ‘Greg’ — who was 17 when he took up arms with the Mohawks — said he’s happy to see that shift.
“We don’t want violence, no one is looking for their 1990, no one wants to earn their stripes that way,” he said. “We had to resist, we had to defend ourselves, we were worried the army would come in and kill us all. We don’t want that for our kids.
“I’m proud to see these young, educated women who know their rights and stand up for our community.”
As Rice approached her 26th hour at the blockade Tuesday, another young woman showed up to help stand guard at the hill that overlooks the port of Oka, the Lake of Two Mountains and the expanse that once was the Mohawk nation.
“We have no choice but to defend what’s left of us,” Rice said. “I’m not a political person but I’ve been forced into a political situation.” SOURCE