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Jun 8, 23

Canadian Tire Fire #60: Anti-Logging Blockades, Toronto Rent Strike Kicks Off, Fight to Stop Deportations

cover photo: @MWACCanada

On May 29th, the New Brunswick Department of Justice and Public Safety announced that they will not be following through with plans to build a new prison in Fredericton. The ministry cited resident complaints about the location as the reason for the cancellation, and said they are looking at another site outside the city for the $42 million project. Let’s hope opposition follows this project wherever it goes, so that the prison never gets built!

The Media Co-op has released its monthly report on police-involved deaths, finding that at least 12 people died in interactions with the police in May, the worst so far this year. Seven people were shot by police, three died in police custody, one person died in a car chase and one person who was in mental distress fell from a high-rise balcony while being visited by police. Many of these deaths involved people in mental distress. Regardless of the circumstances, no one should die in an interaction with the police.

On May 29th, a federal cabinet voted down a motion from conservative leader Pierre Poilievre targeting harm reduction and safe supply aimed at fighting the overdose crisis. Poilievre’s motion painted a picture of pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs as ineffective and dangerous, while drug users and harm reduction activists insist that safe supply saves lives. Even with the motion defeated, harm has been done in stoking moral panic and fear around drug use, which harm reduction groups continuously work to combat.

Innu and Atikamekw Logging Blockades in Quebec

On May 30th the Collectif Mashk Assi and Innu territorial guardians instituted a moratorium on logging in their territory, serving a notice of eviction to all logging companies north of the Réserve faunique des Laurentides and in the Lac Kénogami watershed in the Saguenay.

According to Radio Canada, posters and flyers were affixed to forestry equipment stating, “The guardians of Nitassinan, sovereign and unceded territory of the Innu people, order the immediate evacuation of all employees and sub-contractors of the following companies: Scierie Girard, Scierie Martel, Groupe Forestra, Groupe Lignarex, Scierie du Lac-Saint-Jean, Produits forestiers Résolu, Coopérative forestière Ferland-Boilleau.”

The Innu land defenders state that the logging operations are illegal because they have not given consent. In the absence of the cessation of logging activities on the territory, the Collectif Mashk Assi stated that they would begin blockading the logging roads to enforce their eviction notice and that they would be supported by Atikamekw land defenders as well. A blockade was erected by the collective on Tuesday May 30th, but due to the forest fires sweeping the area a festive mobilization event planned for the blockade had to be moved to another location.

Source: GoFundMe

Since the beginning of March, Atikamekw from Wemotaci have erected a protest camp on a forestry road west of La Tuque to block the exploitation of their territory by Rémabec logging mega-company. There has also been a protest camp and intermittent blockading of forestry activity on a backcountry road nearby Manawan, another Atikamekw community, for over a year. On May 19th, a hard blockade was set up on the road ahead of the year-old camp, but after conflict between land defenders and Atikamekw forestry employees, the blockade at KM 16 was dismantled. Logging on Atikamekw territory has come to a halt in the first week of June due to forest fires, but it is likely blockading will resume and multiply once the fires are put out. They are continuing the struggle against the will and directives of colonial governing bodies of band councils and the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw. There is a GoFundMe available for those who wish to donate to the Atikamekw blockades in Manawan and Wemotaci.

On May 31st, Mobilisation Matawinie, an anti-colonial ecological movement in Lanaudiere conducted a short occcupation of a Quebec government office for the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resources. Around 40 people, including children, took part in the action, which held a popular assembly in the ministry offices. When they left, the group delivered a letter expressing their support for the blockades.

Queer, Trans, Drag Defense in Jonquiere, Brandon, and Toronto

The homophobic and transphobic Right has continued to attempt to disrupt drag queen story hours and other queer events across the country. But queers and anarchists of all stripes have been coming out to defend those events, making clear that the efforts to harrass and cancel queer events will not succeed.

In Jonquiere, Quebec, far-Right conspiracy theorists who have had their protests shut down in the Montreal region tried their luck at disrupting a drag story hour elsewhere in the province. In Jonquiere as well, though, they were met with a large, festive crowd who danced, defended each other, and made it clear that the homophobes and transphobes were not welcome.

A photo report back can be seen on Kolektiva:

In Brandon, Manitoba, the public school board bowed to pressure from a group demanding the removal of library material supportive of LGBTQ+ youth. They held a meeting in a school gym and community turnout in support of queer kids was overwhelming. As a result of the turnout and the speeches by queer and trans kids and their supporters, the school board voted 6-1 to maintain its policy of inclusion.

From a report back on the event:

The cherry on top was when People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier showed up to a loud chorus of boos and heckling. The PPC has opportunistically made anti-LGBTQ+ politics its main focus. Seeing things weren’t going his way, Bernier slunk out in mid-meeting.

On June 1st, a Pride protest against rising police budgets and ongoing police killings was held in Toronto. A list of their abolitionist demands is available here.

Another event is planned by the same Coalition on June 25th. The No More Shit! Abolitionist and Antifascist Pride March will start at Grange Park and conclude with food and music.

Ongoing Protests to Stop International Student Deportations

Beginning May 30th, hundreds of people have been showing up every day to the CBSA headquarters in Mississauga to protest the deportation of international students from India. The immediate demand of the protests is to stop the deportation of one person, Lovepreet Singh, whose deportation is scheduled June 13, but he is just one of an estimated 700 students who are facing deportation after being given fraudulent immigration documents.

The students are victims of a scam in which an immigration agency in India, responsible for helping students apply for education abroad and obtain student visas, gave students fake college acceptance letters. Students were granted student visas based on the letters, and in many cases were later informed by the agency the program they believed they were accepted to was full, leaving them to scramble to find different college programs once in Canada. Years later, after graduating and joining the workforce, many of those people began to apply for permanent residency. Among their documents were the original fraudulent acceptance letters, which this time caught the attention of CBSA. While CBSA will not confirm numbers, it is estimated that around 700 people may now be at risk of deportation.

The scandal has been the subject of a series of protests over the past spring, including protests at the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Minister of Public Safety’s office, and now CBSA. On May 30, community members held a 24-hour protest, followed by nightly protests in the following days and another 24-hour protest on June 2. Community members from Brampton and Mississauga, many of whom are part of the Sikh community, have gathered nightly to listen to speeches, share langar (a communal meal) and pray. On June 5, police threatened to remove protesters from the site, but backed off later in the day as supporters continued to show up. Supporters are highly encouraged to stop by at 6900 Airport Rd!

Tenant Organizing News; Toronto Rent Strike Kicks Off

On June 1st, 200 tenants living at 33 King Street in Toronto launched a rent strike. Their corporate landlord, Dream Real Estate, has repeatedly raised tenants’ rent above the rent increase guideline, while making tenants leave their homes for renovations and denying them access to their balconies. The tenants are demanding that existing above-the-guideline rent increases (AGIs) be dropped, that the landlord stop applying for new AGIs, and to be compensated for the loss of services during recent rounds of construction on the building.

Also in Toronto, tenants of two large buildings owned by corporate landlord Akelius occupied Akelius’s head office in a disruptive protest, calling for them to drop AGIs in their buildings.

In Montreal, one determined tenant is single-handedly holding up a large condo redevelopment project by refusing to leave her $400/month apartment. A developer who hopes to demolish the rental building in order to build 176 condo units has been given the condition that they must reach an agreement with all tenants in the building. Carla White, the last remaining tenant, has stated she will not move until she is provided stable alternate housing or fair compensation.

In sobering news, two tenants in Hamilton were shot and killed by their landlord on May 27. The couple had been planning to move out at the end of the month. The landlord, who lived in the above unit, allegedly barricaded himself into the basement apartment with the tenants and shot them over a dispute related to mold in the unit. The landlord was killed a few hours later by police.

Follow Canadian Tire Fire on Kolektiva 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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