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Sep 13, 23

Canadian Tire Fire #64: Fairy Creek Updates, Radical Pride, Migrant Prison Hunger Strike and #SearchTheLandfill Solidarity

In August, wildfires continued to burn across Canada. By mid-August, the amount of land burnt by wildfires this season amounted to 15.3 million hectares, which is 10 times more than 2022. On August 18th, British Columbia declared a state of emergency in response to a fire near Kelowna, which required more than 35,000 people to evacuate their homes. In the northwest territories, all 20,000 residents of Yellowknife were forced to evacuate on August 18th. Residents were sent by road and air to Alberta, Manitoba, B.C., and the Yukon. The evacuation order was lifted on September 6th, though residents in other parts of the territory still have not been able to return home. This is the first full-scale evacuation of a provincial or territorial capital city, and notably one where Indigenous people make up about a quarter of the population – an alarming new benchmark in the era of mass climate crisis displacement in Canada.

A feast hall is set to be completed in the coming weeks on Gidimt’en territory near the path of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. This is an important occasion given the outlawing of traditional feasts through the potlatch ban. The potlatch ban was a crucial tool of settler colonialism on the west coast, instituted in 1885 and in place until 1951, with effects lasting into the present.

Fairy Creek Updates

In late July, a new blockade was established to prevent old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island. The blockade of a truck road on Edinburgh Mountain follows the mass movement against old-growth logging that took place in the area between 2020- 2022. On August 15, RCMP broke up the blockade, enforcing an injunction that was originally granted to the Teal-Jones logging company in 2021. Three land defenders were arrested and released later that day. Following the raid, many remained at the camp.

Fairy Creek Blockade on Instagram

Earlier in August, the BC Prosecution Service announced it would be dropping charges against 146 protesters from previous rounds of resistance at Fairy Creek. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal against the acquittal of one protester who was cleared of criminal contempt earlier this year. In February, the BC Supreme Court found that the RCMP did not properly read the injunction to the protester before he was arrested. In all 146 cases, police read the same injunction script to other protesters, leading the prosecution service to conclude that the remaining cases would also be unsuccessful.

Hunger Strike at Laval Migrant Prison

Dozens of migrants imprisoned in Laval, just north of Montreal, began a hunger strike on the morning of September 7th. The strikers delivered a petition to the Canadian Border Services Agency to express their demands, deploring the fact that many people have been detained for several months for no reason and with no timeline for their release. Some of the strikers are demanding access to  “alternatives to detention” such as electronic monitoring or reporting in person to a CBSA officer.

In recent years, the Canadian government has sought to expand these so-called “alternatives to detention,” pouring money into not only new prisons but also new surveillance methods that enable more people to be under the control and surveillance of the CBSA. It is completely understandable that these would be preferable to continued detention for many, but we should keep in mind their role in expanding border infrastructure.

According to Le Devoir, In Canada, as of August 25th of this year, a massive 12,600 people arrested and subject to immigration controls have been released under “alternatives to detention” and are living in the country but subject to specific surveillance and control. Around 230 people are held in migrant prisons and provincial jails.

Everyone should be free to live, move, and stay without threat of imprisonment, but also without surveillance, restraint, and state control.

Search the Landfill Solidarity Actions

In Toronto, folks marched and blocked a landfill entrance in solidarity with Camp Morgan and Camp Marcedes in Winnipeg. The action supported calls in Winnipeg to search two landfills for the remains of Indigenous women who were murdered by a serial killer. The Toronto protest temporarily blocked a municipal waste station in solidarity with the dismantled blockade of the Brady Road landfill in Winnipeg. During the protest, a man arrived, seemingly prepared to disrupt the action and threw a can of white paint on a legal observer. Shortly after the paint incident, police arrived and arrested two of the protesters, who were later released. The police also initially refused to take a statement from the legal observer who was attacked. Her attacker, identified as Joseph Picken, was arrested two days later.

Via Gigi on Mastodon

The Toronto action follows a number of solidarity actions over the past month, including those in Vancouver, Ottawa, and St. John’s.

Rad Pride Actions

In Ladner, a small town within the municipality of Delta, BC, a spirited anti-hate rally was held on August 13th. About 100 people gathered and marched to the site of regular hateful demonstrations on the Highway 17A overpass. In an interview with a local news outlet, organizers stressed the importance of a community-led response to the demonstrations, rather than one that relies on police. Community members have countered the hate rallies directly, as well as organized escorts to help people safely pass the demonstrations as they’re going on. Organizers also said they plan to connect with high school gay-straight alliances in town, to let students know they have support in the community.

A notoriously unsuccessful transphobe and conspiracy theorist from Montreal organized another rally against trans people recently. François Amalega called for an anti-trans rally in Quebec City on September 9th. The event was poorly attended on his side, and vastly outnumbered by a festive counter-demo. According to news articles, the groups exchanged chants and insults while separated by lines of police.

In Hamilton, for the second year in a row, folks held a radical pride march as an alternative to the city’s corporate pride. A reportback reads in part:

“We left the park and headed towards the prison, taking the streets with flares and music. At the prison, fireworks were set off and met with loud banging from the folks on the inside. A speaker from the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project told the story of the first person ever executed at the Barton Jail — he had murdered his landlord while on rent strike. The speaker went on to describe how prison impacts queer people and reproduces patriarchy:

“The odds are good that there are people in solitary confinement behind these walls right now for no other reason than that they are queer. This is structural homophobia — exposing queers to the worst conditions in the prison system. And that trauma is then exported back into our communities.”

Making a ton of noise (“Bottoms! Tops! We all hate cops!”), we took Barton Street for a block and then turned back north to reach the abandoned city housing complex at James and Strachan and the tent city that has sprung up around its perimeter, where a person who lives in an encampment briefly addressed the crowd.

We then went down the hill to Bay Front Park, where the mainstream Pride event would happen. That event — with its fenced perimeter, its security guards, its bag searches, and its cops — really seems like a caricature of what happens if you don’t believe that queers have the ability to keep each other safe. Yes, past Pride celebrations in Hamilton have been shitshows, but they have been shitshows where queers fought and won.”

Read the full report here.

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A weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. Email us at: [email protected]

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