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Image Credit: @colinsmithtakespics on Instagram
This week, Halifax was the latest city to continue the summer-long trend of violent encampment evictions and fierce encampment defence. Also in so-called Nova Scotia, police stepped up their harassment of Sipekne’katik First Nation members exercising their treaty right to fish with the arrest of the band’s Chief. In so-called BC, forest defenders at Fairy Creek fought hard to defend their headquarters amid an onslaught of repression by the RCMP. Finally, we mourned the news of the death of two unnamed people killed by the prison system in so-called Saskatchewan.
This week brought the announcement of an exciting weekend of anarchist activity coming up in Montreal. On Saturday September 11, the DIRA Library and L’Insoumise bookstore will be hosting an Anarchist Bazar. Then on September 12th, the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair has announced an Anarchist Gathering, with more details to come.
Red paint has been splashed over the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Park for the second time this summer. https://t.co/8Fcqns98x8
— CTV Kitchener (@CTVKitchener) August 16, 2021
In Kitchener this week, a statue of Queen Victoria was sprayed with red paint and the message “Every Child Matters,” making this the second time this year that the statue has been vandalized. Following the toppling of a statue of John A MacDonald in Hamilton last week, one arrest was made this week, with an individual being charged for mischief over $5,000. Solidarity with all those taking action against symbols of colonialism!
The Queen Victoria statue in Kitchener’s Victoria Park has been doused with red pain for a second time. https://t.co/YtVtXeKk9H
— CTV Kitchener (@CTVKitchener) August 16, 2021
Mass Eviction of Encampments in Halifax
Riot police responded to a mutual aid group in #Halifax setting up shelters + tents in a park for houseless folks by destroying everything + attacking the crowd gathered in support. https://t.co/Rp0S6Mxn38 https://t.co/uu7zibJ1yM
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 19, 2021
On August 18th, the City of Halifax and its police force launched an offensive against residents living in four parks and public spaces across the city. Officers arrived at each of the sites before 7am. Some of the encampments were dismantled that morning by residents, under the pressure of the police presence. Despite their voluntary departure, residents received fines of $237. A large defense effort was concentrated at the site of a pair of temporary shelters near the old Halifax Central Library.
At the old library site, a crowd of about 200 people gathered around the shelters, attempting to block police access. One person climbed onto the roof of a shelter and stayed there for hours before eventually being arrested. Police responded with escalated violence, including the deployment of pepper spray. Multiple reports have claimed that a 10- and 15-year old were among those pepper sprayed. Two dozen people were arrested. Ultimately, one shelter was removed and the other was demolished on-site. The shelters, along with those in other locations, were built and provided by the community group Halifax Mutual Aid.
This is the scene in downtown Halifax.
People vs. Halifax Regional Police as a front-end loader tries to remove a temporary shelter from the former library site. pic.twitter.com/QksKvbhlQQ
— Nicole Munro (@Nicole__Munro) August 18, 2021
Altogether, an estimated almost 50 people were evicted over the course of the day. Many of those evicted stated that they were not offered any housing alternatives, despite promises from the City.
Shelters currently remain standing in other sites in Halifax and Dartmouth. Housed community members are now staying at these sites round-the-clock in an attempt to defend the remaining encampments. On August 20th, an additional shelter was erected in a green-space in Halifax, prompting a heavy police response, though ultimately police did not attempt to remove the shelter. Community members supporting the remaining encampments have stated they plan to stay until they are assured that the shelters will not be removed.
Halifax Mutual Aid has built an additional shelter at Dublin street and Chebucto this evening and 5 police vehicles showed up but left. Dozens of supporters also came. Officers asked for the name and contact of the spokesperson, took photos and left. pic.twitter.com/ZgS3KLImvh
— Sarah Plowman (@SarahPlowmanCTV) August 21, 2021
Harassment and Persecution of Mi’Kmaw Fishers Continues
The campaign of harassment and intimidation against Mi’Kmaw fishers in southwest so-called Nova Scotia continued this week. On August 16th, the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched their fishing season at the band’s recently-established treaty fishery. The same day, after attending the launch, Chief Mike Sack was arrested, allegedly for promoting an illegal fishery.
The fishery was established in 2020 by the Sipekne’katik First Nation, in accordance with their treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which regulates fishing in so-called Canada, has never endorsed the fishery. In the fall of 2020, fishers experienced significant backlash for the launch of the fishery, including the arson of a lobster pound, and the assault of community members.
“It’s intimidation" – Chief Mike Sack
Sipekne’katik chief arrested, detained by DFO following launch of annual treaty lobster fishery https://t.co/O9YjMbQbCV#kukukwesnews, #indigenousnews, #indigenous, #mikmaq, #treatyrights, #indigenousrights, #novascotia, #lobsterfishing pic.twitter.com/qcb3hOyr7e
— Ku'ku'kwes News (@Kukukwes) August 17, 2021
Until recently, fishers have been operating with ‘food, social, and ceremonial’ licenses issued by the DFO, which have no prescribed season but do not allow fishers to sell any of their catch. A 1999 Supreme Court decision affirmed Mi’Kmaw peoples’ treaty right to fish for a ‘moderate livelihood.’ The band is transitioning away from these licenses and toward operating under their own fisheries management plan. It is also moving away from the language of ‘moderate livelihood,’ rejecting the language provided by colonial courts.
No charges were laid against Chief Sack, and the arrest so far has appeared to be purely an attempt at intimidation. The DFO also removed the band’s lobster traps from the bay, and has stated that they plan to continue to do so. Community members, meanwhile, have vowed to continue fishing.
A Deadly Week in Saskatchewan Prisons
In just one week, immediately following Prisoners Justice Day, two people died in prisons in Saskatchewan. One person died on August 11th in the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon. As the person was charged as a youth, no information about their identity has been released. Then, on August 12th, a 32 year old man was found dead in his cell at the provincial Regina Correctional Centre. Prison officials have confirmed that his death was not related to COVID-19, but have released no other information.
While the exact details of the deaths aren’t known, what can be known for sure is that prison itself is the culprit of all deaths inside. This was put well by the French group Os Cangaceiros:
There are no natural deaths in prison; those who succumb, die of prison. Murder is called “accidental death” … Prisoners’ suicides are all murders committed by the prison administration that gladly provides you with the rope for hanging yourself.
Even those with pre-existing health conditions, either mental or physical, are guaranteed to have those conditions exacerbated by their environment. Prisons across Canada are notorious for sub-standard health care, as evidenced by multiple ongoing lawsuits. For example, there are five lawsuits related to healthcare in Ontario’s Beaver Creek Institution in alone. The Correctional Service of Canada is currently facing a class-action lawsuit for its failure to protect federal prisoners from COVID-19.
Siege on Fairy Creek Continues
Logging protestors near Fairy Creek in B.C. are worried that someone may get fatally injured as confrontations between RCMP and protestors are on the rise.
The RCMP said 49 people were arrested in Fairy Creek yesterday, bringing the number of arrests to nearly 700. pic.twitter.com/sbbNO7GMmF
— APTN News (@APTNNews) August 20, 2021
[S]ince the beginning of the RCMP invasion, and with a seemingly ever greater tendency in recent weeks, arrests have been increasingly arbitrary, brutal, and hazardous. As the media spotlight has faded greatly, and journalists themselves have been brutalized, arrested, or denied access, the RCMP (wearing banned white supremacist “thin blue line” patches and covering their name and badge numbers), acting with total impunity and disregard for the admonishment and rulings of the courts, have continued to use extra-judicial “exclusion zones”. With these they deny access to media, and illegally detain and arrest people, many without charge, often releasing them within hours nearby, in unpredictable ways and locations.
Arrests were significantly ramped up toward the end of the week, as the raid on the camp’s HQ continued. On August 21st, a mass action took place in an attempt to defend River Camp. The RCMP responded with an massive show of force that included the liberal use of pepper spray, beating and dragging protesters down the road, and more arrests. Forest defenders continue to issue urgent calls for supporters to join the camp. Multiple ‘RCMP Stand Down’ demonstrations are currently planned for Monday August 23rd.
Regular updates, calls to action, and information on how to get to camp can be found at Fairy Creek Blockade on Facebook.