Tag Archives: AW@L

On “keeping it local” and “keeping it peaceful” in Caledonia

blog post by Laura McDonald, Kitchener-Waterloo

Yesterday, I participated in a “Peace, Respect, and Friendship” celebration, including a march from Caledonia to Kanonhstaton, the reclamation site just outside of town, and a gigantic party including a bouncy castle, spoken word, speeches, music, and a gigantic potluck.

It was overwhelmingly – no, exclusively – positive. The event was wonderful. I find it bizarre that we needed to reassure people that it was going to be (and now, that it was) “positive” and “nonviolent”. It frustrates me that anyone would assume it wouldn’t be. But I will reassure you anyway: the onlyhositility I witnessed at all today was from people opposed to the event.

But I don’t want to talk about that.

While walking through Caledonia, I saw a restaurant with a sign saying “Keep it local. Keep it peaceful.” A friend of mine took this as a semi-positive thing – at least they were engaging with the issue in a not-overtly-hostile way. That’s a valid way of looking at it, for sure. I, however, saw it as representative of some pretty big misunderstandings that I want to address.

1. Keep it peaceful. I’ll do this one first because it’s easier (and because it’s not what I really want to talk about). Combined with the guy carrying the “anarchists go home” sign all over the place, I saw this as reflecting a common lack of understanding of who activists and anarchists are and what they do.

Always being told to make sure our protests are “peaceful” (and thus “valid”) takes away any agency that we have in just being peaceful because we were going to be anyway. It’s always a surprise that we were peaceful, or assumed that we were forced into being peaceful by the police presence. Like with the recent rainbow demo at UW, this assumption that we need to be told to be peaceful is really insulting and perpetuates a lot of dangerous myths about activism – and people in general. (It also perpetuates a lot of problematic ideas about what constitutes a valid form of protest or civic engagement, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms!)

More specifically, people apparently thought “G20 Anarchists” were going to come to town and smash windows. Um, what? If you know anything at all about anarchists, you know that’s an absurd (and I mean really absurd) thing to think with respect to this event. But most people don’t know very much about anarchists, and don’t try to. For the record, these “G20 Anarchists” were there. Some even played key roles in the explicitly peaceful event, because THIS (walk, make giant banners, prepare food for giant potlucks, arrange busses, show support, etc) is what they do, far more often than smashing windows.

I also think this “keep it peaceful” statement could reflect a fundamentally racist assumption (which is also, importantly, rooted in a complicated experience that I absolutely cannot speak to) that anything relating to Six Nations and the reclamation site is likely to NOT be peaceful. This is clearly wrong, and I hope today helped clear that up.

I think there are reasons people have these misguided notions, in both cases. I hope we can all keep working to dispel these illusions.

2. Keep it local. This statement was clearly directed at the hundreds of people who bussed in from other cities. This says “you don’t live here; you don’t understand; this isn’t your issue”. I fundamentally disagree with this argument pretty much across the board. Indigenous rights, environmental destruction, “development”, nuclear power, civil rights, human rights absuses, whatever – we are all affected and thus have a stake in these things no matter where they’re happening. It’s incredibly dangerous to think we can only fight for justice in our own communities, and we can’t let people tell us that’s how it should be. The boundaries that denote “local” issues are false, in many ways, and I think we all have the right (and duty) to have a say in things going on elsewhere and also to ask others to join in solidarity when dealing with so-called “local” conflicts, as non-native allies were asked to join today.

But in this case there’s also a much more specific reason this bothered me. This is what I want to talk about. While I get why people in Caledonia might feel this way, to an extent, I don’t think that many people (in Caledonia, or here on Facebook) understand that this is local for me. This is local for all of us. Yesterday wasn’t just about Caledonia, or Six Nations, or Kanonhstaton. This is about the entire Haudenosaunee territory, on which I live. On which many of the people who came to the event live. This is about all of the territories on which all of us live.

This event was about the treaties to which we are all beholden, and which we, as settlers, need to fight for, because they have not been upheld by our government, at any level, and it is our responsibility to change that. It is our responsibility to recognize the tremendous harm that has been done – and is still being done – by the immense and intentional dismissal of these treaties by the Canadian government.

We are all treaty people, and we need to start acting like it.

*for more photos from the event see http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/photo/marchrally-solidarity-six-nation-reclamation-april-28/10683

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Filed under 6NSN, April 28, Caledonia, decolonization, Haldimand Tract, Kitchener-Waterloo, Racism, Uncategorized

Respecting historic agreements with the Haudenosaunee and walking to Kanonhstaton for peace

AW@L Radio: A discussion with Luke Stewart

Rabble Podcast Network, 20 April 2012

LINK:  http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/awl/2012/04/respecting-historic-agreements-and-walking-peace-april28net-discussion-hi

Show Notes:

The feature of today’s show is our discussion with radical historian Luke Stewart on the upcoming Rally, Walk, and Community BBQ taking place on April 28th in Grand River Territory of the Six Nations, hosted by the April 28th Coalition (http://april28.net). This discussion looks at the the intentions of the event organizers (both indigenous and settler), respecting historical friendships and honouring our treaties (such as the Silver Covenant Chain, The Two Row Wampum, and the Haldimand Proclamation) and the resistance to the event from business interests and white citizens’ councils, among other topics.

– Check http://april28.net for more information about the upcoming rally, walk and community celebration in Caledonia and @Kanonhstaton, Southern Ontario.
– Audio of the invitations for this event Indigenous Land Protectors and their Settler Allies.
This podcast is part of the weekly 2-hour radio show AW@L Radio on CKMS 100.3 http://soundfm.ca from 16:00-18:00 on Fridays.
Check the whole episode at: http://peaceculture.org/drupal/radio/aw@lradio-2012-04-13-fe.mp3

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Filed under April 28, AW@L, Caledonia, Haldimand Tract, Sovereignty and Haudenosaunee Passports

No Olympics on Stolen Native Land

No Olympics on Stolen Native Land:

Solidarity with Six Nations and organizing against the 2010 Olympics.

Posted on Narrative Resistance

For over a year now, AW@L has been devoting much energy to our No Olympics on Stolen Native Land campaign. In October of 2008 we, along with some of our friends from Toronto, Guelph and London teamed up with a crew from Six Nations to blockade the Olympic Spirit Train. Just yesterday a friend and I (from KW ARA) worked with a group of youth activists from Six Nations to drop several No2010 banners at the Canadian Aboriginal Festival in Hamilton.

On December 27 in Kitchener, AW@L will be joined by friends from Six Nations and across the region for a rally, march and demonstration against the Olympic Torch Relay.

For AW@L Radio, every time we have spoken with any of the members of Young Onkwehonwe United (YOU),  they have stressed how central the anti-Olympics campaign was to their work at Six Nations. When Missy Elliott and John Henhawk spoke at the KW Community Centre for Social Justice (kwccsj), as when they spoke at the Rally in Solidarity with Six Nations Land Rights, they stressed the importance of Indigenous-settler solidarity in practise against the Games.

It has been suggested by some media commentators, both locally and nationally, that the Olympics as a target of protest is merely an attention getter. While the international media spotlight is part of the reason this protest movement has become so heated, it is ignorant to suggest that it is the grassroots activists who are the ones that are taking advantage of the spotlight.

The feds, BC, Vancouver, VANOC and the Olympics’ corporate sponsors are using the Olympics to send a message to world; they are all good global citizens representing the alleged Olympic ideals of unity and excellence through competition.

Their $6 Billion media stunt is nothing but a hoax.

Part of the message of the 2010 Olympics is that Canada has reconciled with First Nations—that this is a post-apology Canada. They are trying to make the world forget that we are one of only three countries that have not signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIP). They are trying to make Canada forget that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs refused to endorse the Olympics, so instead a corporation called The Four Host First Nations, comprised by willing Band Council representation from four coastal First Nations, was created to host the Games. They are trying to send the same bullshit message that Harper espoused at the G20 in Pittsburgh when he stated that Canada has “no history of Colonialism.” But Canada does not only have one of the ugliest colonial histories in the world, in fact, in Canada colonialism is ongoing.

On the west coast, in so-called British Columbia, almost all of the territories are unceded, meaning that Canada has no treaties legitimizing their occupation of the land and their control of the resources. One result where treaties have been signed, recently in the case of the Nisga’a, has been the institution of private property on the res. In other places in the west, like in the land claims process across the country, the negotiations are dominated by the structures and limits imposed from the federal side, and only money in exchange for title and access to resources is on the table for “negotiation”.

And this is where it all comes back to Six Nations. The negotiations on land claims at Six Nations are a disgrace; at a total standstill with the feds being obstinate, disruptive and disrespectful. And with respect to those claims, AW@L is very cognizant of the fact that we live on Six Nations’ land.

KW is right on the Grand River, the Haldimand Tract, which is Six Nations territory. Like the Coast Salish Territories, the Grand River Territory is stolen land. The land on the coast remains unceded, and Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford, Cambridge, and others are all partially on lands that have been illegitimately obtained through illegal surrenders.

VANOC parading the torch through the Grand River Territory, like the scheduled “Sunrise Ceremony” planned for Kitchener’s Torch stop, is an attempt to put a certain face on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people, with Six Nations. Because, at AW@L, we believe in the importance of the stories we tell ourselves in our communities, we don’t intend to let that lie be told unchallenged. Not in our town.

We plan to support YOU and other activists from Six Nations in their stand when VANOC tries to bring the torch through the Six Nations res on December 21; we will support in whatever way we are asked. There the issue is sovereignty. Canada wants Six Nations to participate in the Torch relay as a Canadian municipality. But Six Nations is not a Canadian municipality. So we will support activists from Six Nations when they assert their sovereignty by saying that Canada and VANOC cannot dictate the terms by which an international symbol is paraded across Haudenosaunee territory.

Upriver from Six Nations, we are pleased to be able to say that we are working with our allies there to resist the Olympic Torch Relay when it comes through Kitchener, the last stop on the Haldimand Tract.

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Filed under 2010 Olympics, AW@L, Haldimand Tract, Kitchener-Waterloo, YOU