Author Archives: Niki

Stop the Sludge/Support Six Nations Land Defenders–> Hamilton Event

STOP THE SLUDGE! SUPPORT SIX NATIONS LAND DEFENDERS! Speaking Tour
Friday June 29th
7-9 @ Corktown HARRP (187 James St. South)

Join us to learn about struggles to stop the sludge plant at the Headwaters of the Grand River and how to support Six Nations activists who are being criminalized for defending their land.  Speakers from Six Nations and Dundalk share their experiences, followed by an opportunity for discussion.

STOP THE SLUDGE!
How would you like to eat food that was fertilized with hazardous human waste? What if that same waste leaks into our local rivers?

In the lead-up to a July 7th walk in Dundalk, Ontario, to show the growing and united opposition being mobilised against these dangerous developments at the headwaters of the Grand and Saugeen rivers, we will be joined by James Cooke of citizen groups Stop the Waste Park (http://www.stopthewastepark.com/) and the Southgate Public Interest Research Group (http://opirg.org/southgate/home.html).  During this public info night we will learn about the unfolding events and struggles against a dangerous project to build a new waste processing (‘sludge’) plant at the headwaters of the Grand River, as well as resistance to this project from those at the frontline of this environmental struggle.

The story on the sludge plant:

In February 2012, residents of Southgate township and the town of Dundalk, Ontario drove their vehicles onto the access road leading to a construction site. The so-called “eco-park”, located near a school at the edge of town, was to be developed into a sludge-to-fertilizer processing plant.

This land protection action, 145km northwest of Hamilton, Ontario at the head waters of the Grand River (O:se Kenhionhata:tie), has stopped construction of the plant which would have processed the human sewage, industrial and medical waste that would be shipped in from Toronto. The out-sludge would then be sprayed on fields as fertilizer for our food.

With the support of Haudenosaunee land defenders, and a mobilized and highly knowledgeable local community, the blockade’s energy and strength continues to grow and there is grounds for optimism about the impending court date in July which would see the zoning rules disallow further development.

Check out the AW@L Radio interview with Ruby Montour (Haundenosaunee elder, land defender and Grandmother) and Dundalk resident James Cook (Southgate Public Interest Research Group), who have been blockading further development of the site, in a bold and brave land protection effort: http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/awl/2012/05/stop-waste-park

For more information on the proposed sludge plant, and to hear plans of ongoing and upcoming actions on this water issue, visit:

– http://stopthewastepark.com/

– https://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-the-Bio-Solids-Plant-from-Being-In-a-Town-or-near-Housing/282799498412223

SUPPORT SIX NATIONS LAND DEFENDERS!


On June 25, the April 28 Coalition kicked off a speaking tour in Toronto with the  launch of a new Six Nations Land Defenders Legal Defence Fund to support front line Haudenosaunee land defenders who have been criminalized and targeted by the state.

Francine “Flower” Doxtator is a Haudenosaunee Land Defender, grandmother and a member of the April 28 Coalition from Six Nations. She will be in court on June 26 in Cayuga to continue dealing with charges stemming from a February 18 incident at Kanonhstaton, the Six Nations reclamation site near Caledonia, where she and others confronted racist agitator Gary McHale’s planned incursion onto the site known as “the Protected Place.” She was later recharged for allegedly breaching unjust bail conditions when she attended the April 28 walk for “Peace, Respect and Friendship,” where people from Six Nations marched with allies under the banner, “We Are All Treaty People.” For more information on Flower’s case see: april28coalition.wordpress.com.

At Six Nations, the last six years have seen harsh criminalization of Haudenosaunee Land Defenders. Dozens of people have faced criminal charges and several have served substantial time in jail. In Brantford an injunction was passed making it illegal for anyone from Six Nations to be involved in land claims protest within the city; in Flower’s case we see further criminalization of land defenders with bail conditions that attempt to keep her away from already reclaimed land.

We are reminded of our collective strength and the potential for support within activist communities when over the last two years unprecedented levels of support has been generated for the G20 defendants and some of those convicted and that currently there are massive outpourings of solidarity and support to the legal defense funds of Quebec student associations. It is important to remember that the same level of financial and physical support has not arisen for Indigenous Land Defenders and other front line struggles. This needs to change.

We must continue to build support for Six Nations land defenders and other everyday struggles against colonization. We must also remember that all of us living on the land are treaty people, and we as treaty people must work to overcome these outrageous and heart breaking violations of treaty and human rights by building support for our friends and allies at Six Nations.

This event has been organized by Hamilton members of the April 28th coalition.

If you have questions about other work the April 28 Coalition is doing, please contact: april28info@gmail.com

1 Comment

Filed under April 28 Coalition, Court Support, Development, Environoment, Hamilton, Injunctions, Political Prisoners, Six Nations Land defenders Legal Defence Fund

“Truth and Reconciliation” Rally, Caledonia/Six Nations, February 27th, 2011

“Truth and Reconciliation”

Caledonia/Six Nations, February 27th, 2011

Gary McHale organizes a “Truth and Reconciliation” rally in Caledonia, demanding that the OPP, the government, and Six Nations people apologize to the “victims” of Caledonia.  They attempt to erect an “apology” monument at kanonhstaton (the reclamation site).

McHale has approximately 20 supporters.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, AW@L, Caledonia, CANACE, Christie Blatchford, FNSWG, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Men's Fire, Racism, TRUE, Unions, YOU

Barriere Lake Algonquins: Threat to Customary Governance

(reposted–forward widely)

ANNOUNCING A CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT THE ALGONQUINS OF BARRIERE LAKE
OPPOSE SECTION 74 of the INDIAN ACT:
HARPER, STRAHL TO WIPE OUT THE BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUINS’ CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

The Canadian government is preparing to forcibly assimilate Barriere Lake’s customary governance system using an archaic and rarely invoked piece of Indian Act legislation – Section 74. This strategy is a draconian, last ditch attempt to sever the community’s connection to the land, which is at the heart of their governance system.  By breaking their connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating resource-use agreements and illegally clear-cutting in their traditional territory.

Section 74 hasn’t been forcibly imposed on a community since 1924, when the Canadian government unilaterally deposed the traditional government of Six Nations, padlocking shut the Haudenosaunee Confederacy lodge.

Barriere Lake is one of only two dozen Native communities still operating with a recognized traditional governance system. They attribute the strength of their community, language, knowledge and protection of the land to its endurance. The impacts of losing their customary governance system would have devastating consequences on their way of life.

There is a broad consensus in Barriere Lake in favour of retaining their customs and against a Section 74 order erasing their Customary government.

Take a stand today!  Support the Barriere Lake Algonquins and their inherent right to govern themselves according to their customs:

EVERYWHERE: Write/call/fax Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

OTTAWA: JOIN Barriere Lake community members in Ottawa on June 14 and 15 2010

June 14: Feast and Celebration of Customary Governmenthttp://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125575680806297

6:30PM, Monday, June 14, 2010
Mac Hall, Bronson Centre at 211 Bronson Avenue, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

June 15: Demonstration: Stop Harper and Strahl’s Elimination of Algonquin Customary Governmenthttp://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128467113839884

11:30AM, Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In front of Indian Affair’s Minister Chuck Strahl’s office
Bank St and Wellington St, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

TORONTO: Come MARCH with community members at the Indigenous Day of Action Against the G8/G20 on June 24th in Toronto: http://www.defendersoftheland.org/story/179

June 24: Day of Action for Indigenous Rights!
11:00AM, March start point: Queen’s Park, South Lawn
To arrange a bus ride from Ottawa to Toronto for June 24, please send your request athttp://g20.torontomobilize.org/ottawatranspo

—> For more info, to donate, or to endorse the campaign: please email barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.comwww.ipsmo.org

:::: BACKGROUND ::::

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake live on their unceded territory 300 kilometers north of Ottawa, in Quebec. They govern themselves by a customary system, the Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin. Unlike most First Nations, they have never had band elections imposed on them by the federal government through the Indian Act.

Section 74 of the Indian Act states that the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose an electoral system on First Nations with customary leadership selection processes:

“Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.”

On April 8, 2010, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl signed off an order to invoke section 74, initiating the process to impose Indian Act band elections on Barriere Lake. The federal government has already hired an electoral officer to oversee this process, meaning the federal government aims to hold elections within a matter of months.

Despite its inclusion in the Indian Act, section 74-imposed band elections would be a violation of Barriere Lake’s Indigenous customs, a draconian interference in their internal affairs, a breach of their constitutionally-protected Aboriginal right to a customary system of government, and a violation of the minimum standards included in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is an attempt to politically weaken the community, by destroying the way they have governed themselves since time immemorial.

The affirmation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution in 1982 guarantees Barriere Lake’s right to maintain their customary system of government. There has been absolutely no case-law since 1982 that would indicate that the Minister has the power to infringe on Barriere Lake’s rights.

The Government move also contradicts a recent Federal Court decision concerning Barriere Lake’s leadership. On February 17, 2010, Federal Court Judge Robert Mainville concluded in the case of Ratt v. Matchewan that Barriere Lake can “select their leadership in accordance with their customs unimpeded by any conditions or requirements which the Minister may deem appropriate.”

But the Canadian government, even if they had Canadian law on their side, would have no authority to interfere with Barriere Lake’s inherent jurisdiction over their lands, which precedes Canadian sovereignty claims by thousands of years. Barriere Lake has never ceded their lands by treaty or agreement and continue to exercise their jurisdiction over their lands by responsibly managing the territory.

Barriere Lake’s customary government is tied to their use of the land – their hunting, fishing, trapping, harvesting over their vast traditional territories. Only those band members who live within their territories and have knowledge and connection to the land can participate in their customary system of government. The position of Chief is based on hereditary entitlement, but other factors are equally or more important, including leadership abilities, knowledge of the land, and community support. Elders have a key role in the leadership selection process, ensuring the customs are respected. They oversee a blazing ceremony, nominating potential leadership candidates who are then approved or rejected by community members in public assemblies. Leadership requires the consent of the governed, meaning leaders can be removed at any time. Such a directly democratic form of government accords well with the community’s decentralized organization.

For the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, their governance system is one of the sources of their political strength and assertiveness: eligible community members have a stake in the land, and they will select leaders who ensure its protection and responsible management.

But if the Canadian government can impose section 74 Indian Act band elections, this will change. Elders will lose customary responsibility for cultivating leaders and for shepherding leadership selections. Voting by secret ballot would undermine the consensus-based, directly democratic process. Fixed terms for elections would destroy the hereditary elements of their system. Indian Act elections would open eligibility for selecting leaders to people on the band registry list, not just those who live and use the traditional territory. As in many First Nations across the country, off-reserve band members who have no stake in the land’s protection but a say in elections or referendums concerning agreements or modern treaties will likely vote for cash deals that may extinguish Inherent, Aboriginal, or Treaty rights to the land.

The federal government’s attack on the community’s inherent right to a customary governance system has served the ends of the Quebec government, which has been allowing forestry companies to illegally log in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory, without consulting and in areas that are supposed to be off-bounds under the terms of the 1991 Trilateral agreement. Quebec has just issued cutting permits for a new period of logging.

—->Please take a moment to support a community that has protected their territory from extractive industries for decades at great expense and sacrifice to their lives.

DEMAND THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPECT BARRIERE LAKE’S CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

SEND AN EMAIL VIA THE BARRIERE LAKE SOLIDARITY WEBSITE:http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière
******************************

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum


THE LETTER

Please add your signature  and circulate widely.

An Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum at Mount Royal University

As scholars, students and concerned citizens we are deeply troubled by the invitation of grass roots anti-Native organizers and leaders of the “Caledonia Militia” to the New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum to be held on May 5th, 2010 at Mount Royal University. Dr. Frances Widdowson personally invited Mark Vandermaas and Gary McHale to be discussants on a panel entitled “Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Rule of Law.” McHale and Vandermaas are leading figures in grassroots anti-Native organizing against the Six Nations people of the Grand River Territory in south-western Ontario; they have played key roles in the formation of a non-native “militia” aimed at repressing Indigenous land protests and they have also organized a variety of anti-Native protests, a number of which have attracted the support of neo-Nazis and far right racists. While Vandermaas and McHale claim to speak for Caledonians, their activities have consistently increased tensions in this community facing a well documented land claims dispute.

The groups that McHale and Vandermaas are involved with falsely describe Indigenous people resisting the ongoing theft of their land and the abrogation of treaty rights as “organized criminals”, “terrorists”, “lawless” and continually refer to Six Nations people protesting as “Native thugs.” McHale and Vandermaas describe themselves as ‘non-violent’ ‘human rights activists’ inspired by the vision of Martin Luther King, working to dismantle a “two-tiered justice system” that benefits Indigenous people. On March 21st 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, McHale organized an ‘anti-racist’ rally claiming that white people in the area are oppressed by ‘race-based policing’ and “Canadian Apartheid.” These alarming appropriations are an insult to the histories of anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles and to all who uphold anti-racism. The re-naming of anti-Native organizing as anti-racist struggle is an affront to the struggles of Indigenous peoples and peoples of color across the globe who have survived and continue to struggle against genocide, apartheid, and colonialism.  As scholars, students and people of conscience we need to expose the violence of this appropriation by McHale and Vandermaas, not legitimize it.

While McHale loves to sue people for defamation of his character, his inflammatory campaigns have smeared Six Nations grandmothers and mothers,  the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers,  Christian Peacemaker Teams, the provincial and Canadian governments and the OPP as either being “terrorists” or aiding and abetting “terrorism”.  McHale and Vandermaas consistently portray assertions of Indigenous sovereignty as lawless, terrorist, racist and evidence of what they term a “Native Supremacy Movement.” These understandings are not far removed from the perspectives of conference organizer, Dr. Frances Widdowson, who claims that “current demands for ‘aboriginal nationalism’ and ‘sovereignty’, because they connect land to ancestry, have more in common with the ideology of Nazi Germany than left-wing ideas.” Not surprisingly, while movements for Indigenous sovereignty gain little support from neo-Nazis, Gary McHale and his anti-Native activities certainly do.  Paul Fromm, a high profile white supremacist leader, best known for his support of holocaust denier Ernest Zundel, has actively publicized McHale and his events on the neo-nazi website Stormfront.  Fromm has been photographed at McHale led events, as have other members of neo-Nazi organizations such as the London, Ontario “Northern Alliance” group.

While McHale claims he is the “National voice of Caledonia”, neither he nor Vandermaas reside in Caledonia and they do not speak on behalf of all Caledonians. Indeed Mr. McHale was from 2007 to 2010 banned from entering Caledonia due to bail conditions stemming from the eruption of violence at one of his protests.  The Commissioner of the OPP has described McHale et al.’s actions as a ‘lightning rod’ for confrontation and violence. Many Caledonia residents are fed up with their antics, especially those who are working to heal the tensions between Caledonia and Six Nations.

We the undersigned condemn the “New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum’s” decision to give these anti-Native agitators an academic stage to parade their false allegations and half-truths.  Anti-Native activism and militias are not a “New Direction”, in Aboriginal policy, — in fact they represent a very old pattern of colonial activity that seeks to increase and justify violence and injustice against Indigenous peoples. We believe that the inclusion of McHale and Vandermaas in a discussion on Aboriginal Policy will serve to normalize racism, aggression, appropriation, and citizen-led militias as tools to solve localized conflicts over Indigenous lands, whereas what is needed is a recognition of Indigenous land rights, nation to nation negotiations and the peaceful settlement of land claims.  We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.

For more information and background on these issues, please go to https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/

TO SIGN THE LETTER:

The gopetition site has disabled the site because “GoPetition has received a legal opinion from Mr McHale arguing that contents of the petition constitute defamation in Canada. GoPetition does not offer any opinion as to whether these assertions are legally accurate. However, in these circumstances, we cannot continue to host your petition. Our actions are in no way a commentary on the validity or utility of the contents of your petition, but rather reflect our own internal policies.” It is of course interesting that the letter of protest above simply condemns the invitation of these anti-Native leaders to an academic forum on Aboriginal Policy, and that these anti-Native leaders have tried to assure that your voices will not be heard, all the while claiming that the letter is an attempt to silence them and Caledonia residents. As the letter asserts “We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.” If the petition were still up, you would be able to see that the majority of Caledonia residents ensured that their names remained anonymous to the public out of concern. As one Caledonia resident wrote: ” As a resident of Caledonia I can assure you that these people are NOT Caledonia’s National Voice. Out of concern for my family from the intimidation and retaliation these people and their followers wage, I sign “Anonymous”. I encourage ALL peoples of Caledonia and Six Nations to continue to build friendships and understanding. Together through communication we will find the key and “lasting peace” will be our answer. ”

To add your signature to this open letter, please email concernedacademics@gmail.com and we will add your name along with 286 names that have signed so far. Please include: your full name, email address, province, country, university or other affiliation and any comment you would like added to the petition. It is also encouraged that you send a letter of concern yourself directly to the Mount Royal Dean and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts:

Manuel Mertin, PhD Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: mmertin@mtroyal.ca

Sabrina Reed, PhD, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: sreed@mtroyal.ca

NEW INFORMATION:

Frances Widdowson and Mark Vandermaas have posted responses to this letter of Protest on their respective blogs. In both posts the authors claim that Vandermaas and McHale were never a part of the Caledonia “Militia.” Vandermaas was in attendance at the first meeting of the “Militia” in June of 2009, claimed on his blog that he fully supported it, and in a Brantford Expositor news article is described as a leader. McHale is the media spokesperson for this group. McHale also spoke at the first meeting for an hour, a clip of the speech given that day can be seen on the youtube link below. The clip is from CHCH news, and shows McHale telling the first meeting of the Caledonia “Militia” that citizens can pressure the OPP ‘into doing their jobs,’ by saying either you arrest that person “or I will.” After much negative media coverage McHale, the spokesperson for the group, announced that the group would be renamed the “Caledonia Peacekeepers” and claimed that naming the group “militia” was designed to create press for the group. Whatever the reasoning the group planned to effect citizens arrests of people engaging in what McHale has termed “native lawlessness.” While Flemming, a close associate of both Vandermaas and McHale, claimed that the group would arrest anyone breaking the law, the group was clearly organized with respect to Six Nations resistance to the ongoing theft of their land.

Caledonia “Militia”:
http://www.thespec.com/article/588406
www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/updates/090622simcoe.html
http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1615957
http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/PrintArticle.aspx?e=1636760
http://www.voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/caledonia-militia-seeks-volunteers-to-defend-haldimand-property-owners/
http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1622935
www.voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/cupe-and-criminals-work-together-against-haldimand-victims/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-inRqTEPGM

For further information on Gary McHale’s protests, police responses and former bail conditions please go to:
www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070120/caledonia_protest_071120?s_name=&no_ads=CTV
www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070419/caledonia_organizer_sued_070419?s_name=&no_ads=
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/crown-stays-mischief-charge-against-caledonia-ont-activist-gary-mchale-91741844.html
http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/748717–julian-fantino-vows-pushback

To see evidence of Neo-Nazi attendance and advertisement of McHale led events please go to:
https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/the-far-right/

To Read Widdowson’s and Vandermaas’ responses:

Widdowson: http://blogs.mtroyal.ca/fwiddowson/

Vandermaas: http://caledoniavictimsproject.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/native-militants-cupe-try-to-intimidate-university-into-silence-re-caledonia-victims/

Vandermaas’ response is entitled “Native militants & CUPE try to intimidate university into silence re Caledonia victims.” Once again any organizing against McHale and Vandermaas gets accorded to “Native Militants”. This letter was written by non-Native academics concerned by the invitation of two men to an academic forum who continuously cast Six Nations people protesting the continued theft of their land as “terrorists”, “militants”, “thugs,” “criminals”, “sociopaths” and as a part of a “Native Supremacy Movement.” They have gone so far as to post a picture of a Six Nations man with a KKK hood superimposed. Here is a link to a page posted on Caledonia Wake Up Call where author Gary McHale continuously refers to “the Natives,” and “their” shared ideology with the KKK.
http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/news/nativekkk.html

5 Comments

Filed under Anti-Native Activism, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Open Letter of Protest, Racism

Max Haiven of CUPE 3906 on Olympic Protest and Union Solidarity

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Upping the Anti & Hamilton FreeSkool present: Countering Right Wing Backlash & Building First Nations Solidarity

Hamilton FreeSkool Practical Solidarity and Upping the Anti Present:

Anti-Native Organizing & the “Caledonia Crisis”: Countering Right Wing Backlash and Building Indigenous Solidarity in Settler Communities.

Wednesday, January 13th 7pm @ the Skydragon Center (27 King William St Hamilton)

Presentations, Discussion & Launch Event for Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action #9

www.uppingtheanti.org

The Six Nations people of the Grand River territory have been faced with a steadily increasing level of anti-Native organizing since they began the reclamation of the “Douglas Creek Estates” housing development in Caledonia in February of 2006. In addition to the large anti-native protests held by local residents, anti-native activists (who claim to speak on behalf of all non-natives) have organized a “militia” to oppose “native lawlessness,” have held protests against native smoke shops, and have supported actions of local governments to criminalize Six Nations land defenders. At the same time, there have been some important initiatives over the past several years that have seen non-native activists organize in solidarity with Six Nations and work on building on going relationships of solidarity and struggle.

Please join us on Wednesday January 13th at the Sky Dragon Centre for this public talk and to celebrate the launch of UTA Number 9.

About the presenters:

Katie Milley is a member of the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group and the author of _“Where is John Wayne when you need him?”: Anti-Native Organizing & the “Caledonia Crisis”_ In Upping the Anti #9. Tom Keefer is an editorial committee member of Upping the Anti, an activist with the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, and the author of several articles on Six Nations land struggles.


About the facilitator:

Niki Thorne facilitates Hamilton FreeSkool’s ‘Decolonizing Practical Solidarity’ class and is also a member of CUPE 3903’s First Nations Solidarity Working Group.  She’s written several articles about Six Nations land struggles and anti-native activism for Mayday Magazine and has co-authored a forthcoming book chapter about the same.

For more information about this event please contact uppingtheanti@gmail.com or check out www.uppingtheanti.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Anti-Native Activism

Activists Divert the Olympic Torch from the Heart of the Grand River Territory, Six Nations

Activists Divert the Olympic Torch from the Heart of the Grand River Territory, Six Nations

by Niki Thorne

“We are Haudenosaunee people, and we stand strong for our sovereignty and our rights, and we will never give that up, not even for a day, not even for a celebration. We will never give that up.” (Ojistori:yo, also known as Melissa Elliot)

On December 21, 2009, Six Nations activists peacefully diverted the olympic torch from entering the heart of the Grand River Territory. Spokespeople for the action stressed that allowing the torch into Haudenosaunnee Territory at all was a compromise in good faith with Canada and the people of the Six Nations community who did want to celebrate the Olympic torch. However, in solidarity with First Nations communities out west, who have made an international call for support regarding the destruction caused by preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, under no circumstances was the torch to pass through Ohsweken village.

The torch was peacefully prevented from entering the heart of the Grand River Territory, and no arrests were made for blocking the planned torch route, despite over $900 billion spent on Olympics security. The celebrations organized by Band Council were relocated from the community centre in Ohsweken to Hwy 54 & Chiefswood Road, where all who wished to participate in the Olympic torch ceremony were able to do so.

Allies were encouraged to participate in the action to divert the torch, organized by the Hoskanigetah (Men’s Fire), Ahgongweh (Women’s Fire), Onkwehonwe youth and other concerned people to prevent the torch from entering the heart of Grand River Territory. Allies were asked to be present to show bonds of peace, respect and friendship, but to stay back if there were attempts to push through with the torch–stopping the torch would ultimately be up to activists of Six Nations.

Activists stand in solidarity

The physical presence of 30-40 individuals at the Riverbend on Hwy 54 ensured the organizers decision to reroute the Olympic torch, and there was no confrontation. Six Nations people blocking the torch specifically noted that they were not ‘protesting’ but protecting the land and the people, and making a stand for the coming faces (future generations). Activists were not protesting athletics, or international competition, but are against the Olympics for breaching the Great Law of Peace, which gives Haudensaunee people the responsibility to protect the earth for future generations. Some specific reasons include:

-Damage to the land, including destruction of habitat of the endangered spotted owl, and destruction to mountains for Olympic infrastructure such as stadiums, stands, and wider highways;

-Continuing colonialism and damage to First Nations communities and people, including the continuing appropriation of unceded land, and the death of Harriet Nahanee, who, when imprisoned for Olympics related activism became sick and passed away after spending 11 days in a men’s prison;

-Detrimental effects for the people of Vancouver. Due to gentrification, many lower income families and individuals have been rendered homeless as affordable hotels are turned into accommodations for the Olympic tourists and higher priced condominiums. The United Nations Human Rights Council delegation, reporting on their 2007 visit to Vancouver stated concern regarding information “received on the impact that the preparation for the Olympics could have on low-income housing residents, and particularly on low-income single resident hotel units situated in the downtown Eastside neighbourhood.” Am Johal of the Communities Coalition reported to the Dominion that there has been a doubling of homelessness since 2002. An estimated 1,150 low income housing unites have been lost in the past six years. Additionally homeless people are criminalized and can legally be removed from the downtown core by police force, which hosts a variety of key services such as needle exchanges and free condoms. Poor people and women, often aboriginal, are put at further risk through forcible relocation to places that do not have these services.

Ojistari:yo (Melissa Elliot), cited Six Nations sovereignty as an additional reason to block the torch: “We are not Canadian. We are not a conquered people.” She stated, “We stand firm…the torch and what it represents: the destruction of the mother earth out in BC, and the missing aboriginal women, the homelessness, all of these things that the torch represents…we are not allowing their flame, that foreign flame through the heart of our territory.”

TOP 7 REASONS WHY HAUDENOSAUNEE NATIONS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST 2010 OLYPICS & TORCH RELAY: (document prepared by concerned Haudenosaunee people)

1. The 2010 Olympics & Torch Relay does not reflect the values of the Great Peace
Essential values within the Great Peace are being ignored with the planning of this Relay. Division of our people is being influenced by a foreign nation, consensus decision-making is failing to be utilized and temporary benefits are being prioritized over long term effects on the future generations from our participation. The Olympics is promoted as representing “peace, friendship, inspiration, passion for the love of sports, and unity amongst all people around the world.” In reality it is a multi-billion dollar industry representing colonialism, fascism, power, corporate interests, industrial profits, homelessness, inequality, racism, violence against women and the raping of mother earth. The Torch Relay was initiated by Hitler during the 1936 Berlin ‘Nazis’ Olympics where it was run through ‘conquered’ territory to showcase and empower white supremacy. The Torch continues to represent this legacy.

2. Band Council has no jurisdiction to approve the Torch Relay to come through Haudenosaunee Territory
In every Haudenosaune Territory, approval for the passage of the torch relay has been granted under the authority of band council. Under the 8 Points of Jurisdiction, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy alone has jurisdiction over both Land & International Relations. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy was only asked to participate after the Torch was already approved and their involvement is limited. At Six Nations community meeting the vast majority of community members present were against this Torch coming through our territory and these voices were ignored. Throughout the planning of this Torch Relay, the International Olympics Committee has been treating every Haudenosaunee Territory the same as any other Canadian Municipality. When the Torch comes through our territories it is not coming though another Canadian community – it is coming through another nation’s land. If we are a sovereign peoples we must act sovereign and demand treatment as such.

3. Canada is breaking the peace with their extreme Olympic security tactics
These Olympics are being used as another opportunity to target our people as “terrorists”. The security for the 2010 Olympics & Torch Relay is the largest military operation within home borders in the history of Canada. The Canadian military, Vancouver Police, RCMP, CSIS, NORAD & US military are being joined together for this. They are utilizing Emergency Response Teams, riot cops, helicopters, armoured vehicles, new crowd-control technology, over 35,000 police & security. The security tactics Canada is testing with these Olympics are serious and are setting the precedence to be used on our Onkwehonwe people whom are already criminalized in our assertion of inherent rights. OPP, RCMP & other security agencies will be allowed to travel free through our territory with the Torch Relay.

4. Canada has been breaking our treaties, denying our rights, and refused to move forward on our peoples many issues. It is a widely know fact that Canada has a horrible record with our peoples: They have openly rejected our treaties such as the Two Row Wampum and after 4 years at a negotiating table (Canada, Ontario & Six Nations) – our people have been made many promises which have all been broken. With continued development on unceeded lands, criminalization of land defenders, border issues in Akwesasne, the HST tax and so much more – Canada expects us to put aside all ‘politics’, to forget all of the things they have & are still doing to our people so we can be used for preformances in their events.

5. The international image Canada is trying to create with this “Red” Olympics is a lie
There has been a premium set for the inclusion of ‘First Nations’ within these games. However, Canada is putting a “Red Face” to the 2010 Olympics & Torch Relay for very particular reasons. Canada has had a negative image in the international realm for the treatment of Onkwehonwe (Indigenous) peoples with the Residential School exposure, refusal to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ongoing land claims, missing & murdered aboriginal women, HST tax etc. In light of this negative image, Canada is using these 2010 Olympics & Torch Relay as a way of undoing the negative image their relationship with Onkwehonwe peoples.

6. It is our responsibility to stand up for and protect our Mother – the Earth
Massive destruction to the land has taken place in preparation for the 2010 olympics in so called “British Columbia”. Ski resort development of sacred mountains still in use by native peoples, 2 million salmon being killed in local rivers, blasting of mountain sides for the development of the Sea-to-Sky highway are all examples of the environmental impact. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles of not supporting the destruction of our mother.

7. It is our responsibility to assist and unite with those other onkwehonwe peoples/nations that call for our help.

In 2007, an international call for help and solidarity with west coast and BC interior nations to expose/resist the 2010 Olympics & Torch Relay was sent out from an international indigenous gathering that took place in Sonoma Mexico. The same Onkwehonwe peoples in 2006 held a Six Nations Solidarity Rally in Vancouver with over 500 in attendance to support our people in our time of need. In the spirit of unity and in accordance with the Great Peace, we have the responsibility to assist our brothers and sisters out west in their time of need. Now is the time to unite, to show canada and the world our strength and to proclaim that we, the Onkwehonwe are one peoples and what affects one affects us all.

WE MUST TAKE A STAND AGAINST THIS TORCH RELAY’S TRAVEL THROUGH OUR TERRITORIES BECAUSE WE ARE HAUDENOSAUNEE ONKWEHONWE PEOPLES THAT REMEMBER OUR WAYS AND RESPONSIBILIES – WE CAN NEVER GIVE THIS UP – NOT EVEN FOR A DAY.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2010 Olympics