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Events, Idle No more, Tar Sands

Calling All Warriors to Protect the Land

Now that it is spring, the grounds thaw, and construction workers prepare for work.

MANY MAY BE FAMILIAR with the ongoing demonstrations against the slew of bills (C-27, C-38, C-45, S-2, S-6, S-8, C-428, S-207, S-212) passed last year and this winter in Canada, as well as mining activities, among them the proposed pipeline extension (Keystone XL) through Canada and the USA.

#J11 Calgary, Alberta Idle No More, Photo by Arnell Tailfeathers

#J11 Calgary, Alberta Idle No More, Photo by Arnell Tailfeathers

Initially there was a loud outcry in the form of flash mobs, round-dances, and street blockades from indigenous people who opposed the passing of Bill C-45 and others. This continuing outcry received a decent amount of national media coverage, and quickly included Canadian citizens, allies in Germany, Netherlands, Columbia, Australia and elsewhere around the world declaring their position against the proposed legislation and the infringement on aboriginal sovereignty.

The cries were for the protection of mother earth and indigenous rights.



At this time Chief Theresa Spence went on a hunger strike lasting 44 days, and ended in slight disappointment as the federal government failed to meet her demands, which included a new nation to nation relationship between the First Nations Chiefs, the Canadian Prime Minister, and the Governor General (representing the British Crown).

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during a press conference outside her teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa on Friday, January 4, 2013.  Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during a press conference outside her teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa on Friday, January 4, 2013. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press.

Her role was pivotal in inspiring many to action by her selfless act of sacrifice. This includes the recently successful Mi’kmaq hunger strikers, as well as Journey of Nishiyuu walkers. The Cree Nishiyuu youth embarked on a 686 mile (1,105 Km) journey from northern Quebec in early January, and are due to arrive at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 25th. They will be greeted by hundreds, united in their re-initiation of indigenous sovereignty.

Barraute, Quebec. Photo by Gabriel Herodier.

Barraute, Quebec. Photo by Gabriel Herodier.

The fire generated by all of this energy spread around the world, and concern about the environment started growing among American citizens who are beginning to stand up in opposition to fracking, mining and the KXL pipeline. Notably, on February 17th, over 40,000 people stood up (along with Idle No More supporters) to oppose the KXL pipeline.

Photo by Kandi Mossett

Photo by Kandi Mossett

Meanwhile, within indigenous communities (who hold the key to protecting the environment from ensuing legislation), the loud outcry seen in November, December, and January slowly shifted it’s focus onto education and training.

There have been countless meetings, teach-ins, and training camps through-out the winter, spinning the focus from the impact of legislation on individual communities, to how to assert indigenous sovereignty, including cultural and spiritual activities, signing of agreements and treaties, and the reclaiming of illegally occupied or developed territory.

These activities have not received much media attention, excepting the lecture at University of Lethbridge, led by Tom Flanagan (former Haper advisor and long time proponent of indigenous assimilation, as opposed to sovereignty). His talk was disrupted by Idle No More demonstrators, and under the ensuing pressure Flanagan lost all composure and made a slew of controversial statements which led to his career’s ultimate demise.
flanagan shame
There is no sign from the Canadian government that they intend to reverse their damaging and illegal decisions. Also, the Keystone XL Tarsands pipeline, although not legally given the go-ahead by the Obama administration, is still going ahead with it’s construction plans and obtaining permissions to build in the USA.

Now that it is spring, the grounds thaw, and construction workers prepare for work. The aforementioned bills will be enforced with a heavy hand, and aboriginal communities, as well as allies, are using their bodies and accumulated knowledge to oppose any mining and pipeline activities…to avoid a world like this:

Photo by Peter Essick / National Geographic.

Photo by Peter Essick / National Geographic.

Below are some ongoing Indigenous resistance activities. Feel free to get involved:

Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP)
Aamjiwnaang + Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP) group’s campaign against Enbridge Line 9. Enbridge is trying to reverse the flow of a pipeline built in 1975 to bring corrosive tar sands through Ontario, from Alberta. The company also plans to increase the flow through this pipeline to more than 160% of the current number of barrels per day. As a result of this line 9 project, there would be far more of a risk of a rupture that would pour tar sands into the Great Lakes. Numerous waters and lands are threatened by this pipeline.
Nizhawendaamin Indaakiminaan Red Lake Enbridge Blockade
Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan (We Love Our Land) is a group of Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, joined by blockaders and solidarity activists. The encampment is located in Northern Minnesota near the town of Leonard. Tom Poorbear, vice president of the Ogalala Sioux Nation declared, “We fully support the Red Lake Nation and its members who are opposing the Enbridge pipeline to stop the flow and remove the illegal pipeline from their land.” The occupation of the Red Lake Ceded Land began Thursday, February 28.

Photo by Jenna Pope.

Photo by Jenna Pope.

Algonquins of Barriere Lake
Today, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are re-affirming their opposition to the proposed exploration activities of the junior mining company Copper One (TSX-V: CUO) within their unceded traditional territory. Copper One’s Rivière Doré project is within the area of an existing co-management agreement that Barriere Lake signed with Quebec and Canada in 1991 (the Trilateral Agreement).

Photo from

Photo from

Unis’tot’en Camp
The Unis’tot’en Camp is a resistance community whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region.

Photo from Unis'tot'en Camp.

Photo from Unis’tot’en Camp.

Moccasins on the Ground Activism Training, March 8-10
Moccasins on the Ground training at Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota kicked off with celebration and ceremony. Debra White Plume, Lakota Grandmother, spoke about the goal for the weekend: “This training is a message to Obama and TransCanada that if they try to build KXL we’ll be here to meet them with our moccasins on the ground.”

Photo by Andrew Ironshell.

Photo by Andrew Ironshell.

Want to start a movement in your community? Check out the Outreach Packet.


One thought on “Calling All Warriors to Protect the Land

  1. We have finally awakened from our long sleep! IDLE NO MORE is a polite way of saying we are not taking it anymore! All across the world, indigenous peoples have been subjected to war crimes, genocide, apartheid, assimilation, murder, rape and racial discrimination on a scale never before the history of civilization. So, we are all fighting this as brothers and sisters united for the common good and the tears of our ancestors will flow no more for we will fight this until we can find justice. Gray Wolf Wabanaki First Nation “IDLE NO MORE”

    Posted by Gray Wolf Wabanaki First Nation | March 19, 2013, 3:19 PM

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