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cover image: @landbackskyler
This week, land defenders reacted swiftly and strongly to the arrest of a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief. As protests against RBC’s involvement in the Coastal GasLink (CGL) Pipeline popped up all over and Six Nations blocked highway 6, Marc Miller accepted his new position as Minister for Crown-Indigenous relations with a mind-boggling and sure-to-go-nowhere speech about giving the land back.
Highway 6 is closed between greens road and argyle street in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. pic.twitter.com/TDLvgp7Pcx
— Skyler Williams (@landbackskyler) October 28, 2021
In Gitxsan territory, not far from where the battle against CGL is raging, an attempt to take a six year old Gitxsan girl off her territory into foster care was stopped by chiefs and community members who likened the practice to the abduction of children into residential schools. Since the action, a judge has ruled that the girl won’t be taken from her First Nation again.
Last night, social workers arrived on the Gitanmaax reserve in Hazelton, B.C. to take a six-year-old Gitxsan child to a foster home far away. This is what they found instead: chiefs, matriarchs and family members – and Gitanmaax councillors – who delivered a clear message: pic.twitter.com/l8bcYZ0IPW
— Kai Nagata (@kainagata) October 17, 2021
This week we cover more land defense updates from Haudenosaunee territory, and the cancellation of the Alton Gas project in Mi’kma’ki, as well as updates on a new anti-trans bill in Quebec.
Read on for the full stories!
More Blockades Up on Wet’suwet’en Territory, Actions Against RBC
Earlier this week, CGL used heavy equipment to block Wet’suwet’en chiefs’ access to their territory. In turn, Likhtsamisyu Chief Dsta’hyl and others established a camp directly where they has been stopped, effectively preventing CGL workers from entering or exiting on the main road. As he had warned, Chief Dsta’hyl disabled some of the heavy machines blocking the road.
The day after the camp was established, RCMP officers arrested chief Dsta’hyl, and Kolin Sutherland-Wilson of the neighbouring Gitxsan nation. Others at the camp were read an injunction and told to leave. The two arrested have since been released.
After his release, chief Dsta’hyl stated, “We fought this fight for a long time and we are not giving up now. We never give up hope and I’m telling everybody out there, do not give up hope on us because this battle is far from over.”
Between 1870 and 1905 the Wet’suwet’en had 3 National meetings in the community of Hagwilget. The meetings were to discuss a possible War with the Whiteman who forced us off of our lands.
Over 115 years later we are still left with few options #wetsuwetenstrong #likhtsamisyu pic.twitter.com/QRV3DxBDFa
— Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan (@Likhtsamisyu) October 29, 2021
Wet’suwet’en people are fighting on many fronts across the territory, including blocking access to one man camp. For more details on news this week from Wet’suwet’en territory check out this article.
As Sleydo’ of the Gidimt’en clan stated in a recent video, “Shut shit down. Wherever you are, whatever you can do. Start making noise, start making a fuss. Get things going wherever you are.”
This week, response to the situation out west included a shutdown of Highway 6 through Six Nations territory. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council officially voiced its support for Wet’suwet’en peoples defending their territory earlier this month.
— #1492LandBackLane (@1492LBL) October 28, 2021
On October 29, a day of action was called against the Royal Bank of Canada, who facilitated the recent partnership between TC Energy and its new investors. RBC is also one of the largest fossil fuel investors in Canada.
Breaking: Climate activists, land defenders take over intersection outside @RBC headquarters, calling on bank to stop financing fossil fuels & respect Indigenous rights.
— Richard Brooks ☀️ (@R_BrooksStand) October 29, 2021
Protests took place outside RBC branches across the country, and outside its headquarters in Toronto, protests blocked an intersection in the heart of the business district.
RBC funded $208,000,000 towards fossil fuel. The view in Waterloo Ontario. RBC is Canada’s first biggest fossil fuel investor and the 5th largest fossil fuel investor in the world. pic.twitter.com/ZdpQS4GiSP
— Louisette Lanteigne 🌎✌️⚖️♥️ (@lulex) October 29, 2021
Other actions included the stickering of RBC ATM screens, sabotage, postering, and banner drops.
Whoa! Momentum is gathering, eh? Can you feel it?
So much going on we haven't had a chance to post the most recent sightings of these Truth-to-Power stickers.
💚Many thanks to A. Nony Mous💚
— quit.RBC (@QuitRbc) October 25, 2021
As actions ramp up against owners, partners, and defenders of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, it’s worth noting that folks who were still facing charges from last years’ round of actions are finally having their charges resolved. Four people charged in relation to an overnight rail blockade in Hamilton put out a statement this week that read in part:
After an astounding 20 months, the remaining four of us facing charges in Hamilton, ON for a rail blockade in solidarity with Tyendinaga and the Wet’suwet’en in 2020 have finally settled our charges with a non-cooperating plea.
We offer our complete respect and solidarity to the many frontlines throughout Turtle Island right now – from the Haudenosaunee at Landback Lane and Arrowdale, to the Secwepemc protecting their homes; the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht protecting their old growth elders; the Mi’kmaq peoples protecting the Shubenecadie and fighting for sovereign fisheries; and of course with great care – the Wet’suwet’en who continue to take an active stand and face yet another invasion by the RCMP.
— Post-Moderna Boy (@ramirezlouis_) October 29, 2021
Rally in Support of 1492 Land Back Lane at the Ontario Court of Appeal, New Land Defense Occupation by Six Nations Members in Brantford
Six Nations community members reacted strongly this week to the arrests on Wet’suwet’en territory, blocking the highway 6 bypass through their territory. But they’ve also continued to fight for land back closer to home.
Last week saw the return of 1492 Land Back Lane to the courts as civil lawyers representing Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the camp, went to the Ontario Court of Appeal on October 26th to challenge the validity of the permanent injunction put in place on October 22nd 2021. They argued that it was procedurally unfair for the evidence that the land defenders tried to submit to be struck from the record, and for Skyler Williams to be barred from participating in the hearing. The judge barred Skyler Williams, who was self-represented, from participating in the hearing regarding the injunction that named him because he refused to agree to leave the Land Back Lane site.
Happening right now at 130 Queen St. W.!! Come show your solidarity with Six Nations Land Defenders who are appealing permanent injunctions today!! #solidarity #landback @1492LBL pic.twitter.com/qRuZDKhgWz
— Rising Tide Toronto (@RisingTideTor) October 26, 2021
Before the hearing, about 200 supporters gathered outside the Ontario Court of Appeal to support the land defenders. In Skyler Williams’ words, “Though I am the only person named in the injunction, Jane and Jon Doe includes every indigenous person and all those allies that have stood shoulder to shoulder with us against this theft and exploitation of our lands. October 22nd last year our entire defense was struck from the record. We were barred from participating in anyway. This afternoon ended with the OPP waiting to inflict more violence on our nations. I pulled taser darts from my brothers back as we were shot with rubber bullets. Injunctions put our nation to nation relationship in the hands of men with guns. Courts and cops are not the path towards truth or reconciliation. We may never find justice in their system.”
Elsewhere in the Haldimand Tract, other Six Nations members have started up a new occupation in recent weeks. On October 9th, a small group of land defenders set up camp on the former Arrowdale Municipal Golf Course in Brantford, Ontario. According to the Brantford Expositor, “Brantford City Council voted in December 2019 to close the nine-hole municipal golf course and sell almost 32 acres of the property to a developer.” Trevor Bomberry, Oneida from Six Nations, told a journalist: “This land is part of the Haldimand Tract, and it’s under land claim right now. The City of Brantford knows it and they’re still trying to sell it to a developer.”
Video from the fantastic rally in solidarity with Six Nations land defenders from #1492landbacklane at the courthouse in Toronto today.
— socialist.ca (@socialist_ca) October 26, 2021
The land defenders from Six Nations are being supported by a group called Friends of Arrowdale, who filed a petition containing more than 7,800 signatures with the City in February attempting to stop the sale of the golf course. City officials are attempting to spin the sale positively to progressives, claiming it will allow them to pay for the creation “of 140 urgently needed affordable housing units.” The occupation appears to be going strong, with plans for tobogganing and hot chocolate should it last into winter.
Alton Gas Project Cancelled After Years of Resistance
This week, energy company Alton made an announcement that has been fought for for years: they would be cancelling the Alton Gas project on the shores of the Shubenacadie River. The project, announced in 2014, intended to create underground caverns in which to store natural gas by using water from the river to flush out natural salt deposits.
Resistance to the project was led by Mi’Kmaw grandmothers and water protectors such a Cheryl Maloney of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, who first drew attention to the project in 2014 by organizing a traffic slowdown on one of Nova Scotia’s main highways.
Resistance to the project has since notably included a treaty truckhouse and Treaty Camp. The right of the Mi’Kmaq people to build truckhouses is outlined in the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Mi’Kmaq people exercised this right in 2016 when they set up a truckhouse on the banks of the Shubenacadie River near the Alton Gas brine dumping site, as a home for the resistance to the project. They subsequently set up a Treaty Camp along the entrance to the Alton Gas work site, effectively blocking the company from working on the project.
A court case also helped stall the project. In 2016, the Sipekne’katik First Nation challenged Nova Scotia’s environment minister’s decision to grant approval for the project, in part on the basis of adequate consultation with the First Nation. In March 2020, a Nova Scotia supreme court judge ruled that the First Nation had not been adequately consulted, and ordered that the parties resume consultation for 120 days.
A statement on the website Stop Alton Gas reads in part:
We wish to express with the utmost humility and gratitude our sincere thanks to Mi’kmaq rights holders, grandmothers, Elders, youth, and allies for all the support over the last eight years in standing to protect our sacred river.
It was the unity of all these people, and the diversity of their sincere efforts, that led to this day.
Proposed Anti-Trans Law in Quebec Sparks Backlash, Dave Chapelle Books Show in Toronto
A bill brought forward recently by Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has caused widespread outrage among the province’s trans communities. Currently, since 2015, people in Quebec have had the option to modify their designated sex on identity documents regardless of whether they have had surgery.
The passing of Bill 2 would mean that it would be impossible for a trans person to change their sex designation on IDs without undergoing surgery. It would create the option to separate sex and gender on government ID documents in a half-assed attempt to remedy that change. As reported by CBC, many LGBTQ+ groups have explained the likely harm to come from this change should it come into law.
One activist, Mona Greenbaum, told CBC:
A trans woman who hasn’t had surgery will still have an M for her sex and an F for her gender on her legal documents.
“What that does is it puts that person in danger. You have a document that says you were born an M, but you became an F and you have to show that document to other people.
“It obliges you to make do with coming out, whether you want to or not.
Since the backlash began, the justice minister has indicated the possibility for future study and potential changes to the bill.
In other transphobia news, Dave Chappelle, in the news recently for his transphobic Netflix special, has booked a show in Toronto. He plans to perform at the ScotiaBank Arena on November 15th. It would sure be nice if that didn’t happen!
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