Filed under: Canadian Tire Fire, Featured
Saddle Lake Cree Nation announced this week that it is investigating the deaths of over 200 residential school children who never returned home. Research is being led by the Acimowin Opaspiw Society, a group formed to investigate potential burial sites tied to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School. Research has consisted of combing archival records and collecting witness statements from members of the nation. Saddle Lake Cree Nation is calling on the federal government to provide funding for ground penetrating radar technology to assist in the search.
It has been one year since Tk’emlups te Secwépemc announced the confirmation of 215 unmarked graves on the grounds of a nearby residential school. Since then, over 2000 unmarked graves have been confirmed at the sites of residential schools across so-called Canada. The confirmation of these sites has provided new evidence to the truths that Indigenous communities have known and lived with for decades. And yet, the same conditions remain – persistent neglect and under-funding of Indigenous communities still impacted by intergenerational trauma, and the over-representation of Indigenous children in Canada’s foster care system mean that the state of Canada is far from reconciling its past and present program of genocide.
In other news, Canadian-owned mining company Trevali Mining confirmed this week that no survivors have been found following a flood-related mine collapse in April where 8 workers were left stranded in the zinc mine located in Burkina Faso, one of the many Canadian-owned mines operating in the global south.
An incredibly tragic story, & also a demonstration of what every day impunity & a lack of accountability in the Canadian mining industry really looks like. When we leave it up to 🇨🇦companies like @trevali to not cut corners on safety to maximize their profit this is what happens. https://t.co/CYeo6L53Lb
— Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) (@mininginjustice) May 19, 2022
In repression news, Indigenous land defender Will George has been sentenced to 28 days in jail for his actions protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The court found that Will George and other protesters breached a court injunction ordering them to stop blocking access to a Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby. The Trans Mountain pipeline, along with the court where the hearing took place, is located within Tsleil-Waututh territory, the nation of which Will George is a member. Yet, supreme court Justice Fitzpatrick, who provided the sentencing, admitted during the hearing that she did not know the location of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
At the time of writing, international students are on their fifth day of protests against Alpha College, a private college in Scarborough, ON. The college recently announced it was forcing students to take an unofficial “drop,” meaning that they would be forced to take a break in their studies without the official documentation that would allow them to work over 20 hours per week. This places students in a precarious financial position and makes them vulnerable to exploitation by employers. Students have occupied the front entrance to the college day and night since May 19th. On May 21st, police and private security began to forcibly remove students’ belongings in order to end the protest. Yet, students were back the next day and are calling for community support. Keep an eye on @NSNPeel for updates!
BREAKING: Yesterday, International students protested day & night against Alpha College in Scarborough for being forced to take an unofficial “drop” without any advanced notice. 🧵 #LuttBandKaro #Justice4Students pic.twitter.com/Mp2SWSe06i
— Naujawan Support Network (@NSNPeel) May 20, 2022
Finally, in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador, students staged a walkout to protest the unfair treatment of the trans students at their school. Menihek High School ended up closed for the day after approximately 75 students walked out to demand that all students be allowed to use the washrooms of their choice. The protest was initiated after a student was prevented by staff from using the women’s washroom, though the issue had been a point of contention between staff and students for years.
Actions Against RBC Continue
The Royal Bank of Canada, (RBC), continues to be targeted for its choice to stay invested in the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project hoping to pass through Wet’suwet’en territory.
In Winnipeg, three people connected with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition locked themselves to the doors of an RBC branch in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders. The windows of the branch were decorated with huge red letters spelling out “No $ for Oil and Gas,” and “Immoral,” “Unethical.” The action ended after large numbers of cops arrived to arrest the activists.
Concerned community members lock themselves to the doors at 370 Portage RBC on Treaty 1 Territory in solidarity with #wetsuweten land defenders and the @ScientistRebel1. @Gidimten @bank4future @QuitRbc @ClimateHuman @yintah_access pic.twitter.com/MV2ezdumzq
— Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (@mbenergyjustice) May 18, 2022
In Montreal, Chief Na’moks of the Wet’suwet’en Tsayu clan and around 100 protesters gathered outside of an RBC branch in downtown Montreal on May 12th to protest its involvement in the CGL pipeline and show their support for the resistance to the pipeline.
Also in Montreal, RBC had an unlucky Friday the 13th when one of their branches was covered in red paint. From the communiqué: “We decorated an RBC Branch, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders. We used red paint, like the colour of the blood staining this bank’s hands.”
Shortly thereafter, another Montreal RBC branch was also targeted with red paint bombs. That communiqué reads: “RBC is a dirty bank that fuels the climate crisis and global injustice. In solidarity we visited this RBC Westmount branch as a little reminder.”
On the yintah, daily police visits continue to attempt to disrupt life, work, and ceremony at the Gidimt’en Checkpoint. You can follow @gidimten on twitter for on the ground updates.
Three Actions Against Ray-Mont Logistics in Montreal
For quite some time, Ray-Mont Logistics has been a target for vandalism and other attacks in Montreal for its role in attempting to develop the Terrain Vague, or “wasteland” in the city’s eastern Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. The wasteland is loved and used by many different people and has been a home to a tent city in one of the city’s only urban forests. While Ray-Mont’s work is beginning, in the shadow of many attempts to stop and delay it, the company was targeted with three actions last week.
Protesting destruction of Terrain Vague in Montreal
A text available to read in French, lists the three actions as including the sawing down of a pole in the wasteland on which a surveillance camera was mounted. A Ray-Mont office building across the city was also smeared with paint and tagged with “Ray-Mont, you’re destroying our lives,” and the vice-president’s home was targeted and graffitied with the slogan “le terrain restera vague” which translates as “the lot will remain vacant.”
The text, written in the form of a letter to the president of Ray-Mont, finishes with:
Charles, you’ve known for a long time that the people who defend the wasteland are numerous and determined. You have to understand that they will never stop putting obstacles in your way and that their actions will only increase in intensity.
It must be stressful to realize that the police can’t protect you. I really hope they leave you alone now, but if I were you, I wouldn’t rely too much on that.
If I can give you some friendly advice, you should really abandon this doomed project, while there is still time.
See you again
A friend who only wants the best for you
Homeless Residents Tear Down Fence Erected to Keep Them From Vacant Lot
A fence erected by Goldmanco, a real estate developer, around a lot frequently used by homeless Indigenous residents in the Milton Parc neighbourhood of Montreal, was torn down by members of that community recently. The lot had long been used by members of the urban Indigenous community in the area, but in 2020 Goldmanco erected a fence to keep them out of the lot. The fence was erected in a context of a “vocal minority” in the neighbourhood complaining about the congregation of homeless people in the area.
The fence has been blamed for the death of Kitty Kakkinerk, an Inuk woman who often spent time in the lot. In August 2020, Kitty was running away from an abusive partner and was blocked by the fence, which forced her to run into the street where she was hit by a car and killed. Friends told the media she wouldn’t have died if the fence hadn’t been there.
The group started a petition to "keep the fence down." They want the vacant lot to continue to be accessible to the neighborhood's homeless population. https://t.co/qP25uSterV
— Global Montreal (@Global_Montreal) May 16, 2022
Since then there have been many pushes to remove the fence. The city of Montreal has even tried to rent part of the lot from the developer. But these efforts have failed and the fence remained, until community members took matters into their own hands in early May and tore it down.
Now, people have returned to use the lot again, and a banner hangs on the remaining section of fence that reads “Too many walls, not enough houses!”
On May 15th, Palestinians mark the 1948 Palestinian Catastrophe, or Nakba, when Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and driven from their homeland and the year the state of Israel was established. The day commemorates the ongoing persecution and displacement of Palestinian peoples and their struggle against Israeli colonialism.
This year, Nakba day protests also mourned the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot by an Israeli soldier while reporting at the Jenin refugee camp on May 11th.
Photos and video from the Nakba Day protest in downtown Montreal on Sunday, in support of Palestinian self-determination, and to denounce Israeli occupation and apartheid. #Nakba74 #FreePalestine #cdnpoli #polmtl 1/ … pic.twitter.com/mtppOrGNNj
— No Borders Media (@NoBordersMedia) May 17, 2022
In Toronto, thousands took to the streets of downtown, stopping in front of the Israeli consulate.
In Montreal, about 1,000 people marched through the city, despite police attempts at intervention. No Borders Media reports:
At one point, riot police stopped the protest to direct the sound system away. However, protesters defiantly continued marching and were able to join up with the sound truck at another location. The protest continued for hours, ending in Old Montreal with a vigil.
Gatherings also took place in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Calgary and Saint-John.