The Shape of Solidarity with the Unist’ot’en Camp in Canada, and Beyond

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Ill Will Editions sits down with a comrade from Montreal to talk about the expanding struggle in solidarity with the Unist’ot’en camp in so-called British Columbia.

Ill Will Editions: Can you give me sense of what is going on in and around Montreal?

Wednesday morning there was a blockade of the Jacques Cartier bridge, which lasted for about 20 minutes and resulted in 7 arrests. That day, and frequently since then, there have been demonstrations at the Trans- Canada offices and in front of Justin Trudeau’s offices. There have been blockades of the port of Montreal on Notre-Dame street (Highway 720), which allows truck access to the port. There have also been demonstrations in most major Canadian cities. Friday, there was a rolling blockade that stretched from Oneida of the Thames to Six Nations, and from Akwesasne to Tyendinaga. People drove 20-30 miles per hour, blocking or slowing about 400 miles of highway, and in Six Nations there was a hard highway blockade.

How are people feeling in Montreal and beyond?

Comrades in Montreal are finding a sense of excitement, potential, and possibility. It feels a little like the lead up to a general strike, where all your time is shifted, and daily life is suspended. There’s this feeling that everything is connected to this—people all across Canada are mobilizing for the blockade in northern British Columbia. We’re also trying not to be totally swallowed by this, so we’re not dropping everything else. Some things are difficult; internal differences between groups make it difficult to work together, and the situation is not resonating as much for the more anarcho-communist and anarcho-syndicalist milieus who relate less actively to anti-colonial or land-based struggles.

The rolling blockade involved indigenous people from six different Mohawk territories. A rolling blockade like this hasn’t happened for 15 years, and it was organized with one day’s notice. There’s a feeling that it’s a big deal, that people from different communities are coming together in a show of solidarity like this. Meanwhile the Haudenosaunee Confederacy put out a statement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation, saying that “the Unis’to’ten camp has the potential to spark a conflict similar to that of Standing Rock in the United States.” So there’s a sense of importance in this moment. In the last few days there have been new connections made, which has created the possibility of working with people in ways that might have felt less accessible before.

What kinds of things do you think would resonate from across the border?

Awareness is powerful right now. People are talking about raising awareness, so actions in solidarity would be effective. Actions that convey both “make it seen,” and also “we have your back.” Solidarity actions are raising morale, and there’s a need for spirit raising. Make the raid impossible to ignore. Connect it to Standing Rock as much as possible. This raid has the potential to unfold in ways we don’t anticipate. There’s the possibility of making this situation politically untenable for the government by connecting these situations and talking about about how what’s happening in Unist’ot’en is important globally. We can use this struggle to bolster what’s happening around water and pipelines beyond this region. This may seem hard because of organizing across the border, but this particular case is relevant to all the struggles on Turtle Island.


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