TORONTO – Over Canada’s Labour Day long weekend, thousands of American Indians and Canadian First Nations gathered at Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota to protest the construction of a pipeline that will not only contribute to future greenhouse gases and global warming, but add another sad chapter to the long list of atrocities committed against our Peoples. On this very holiday weekend, 25 years ago, many American Indians and activists joined Mohawks and First Nations at Kanesatake, Quebec to protest the forced expansion of the Oka golf course on a sacred burial site. The images of Quebec police and Canadian military confronting our Peoples have become iconic world-wide.
Next year, Canadians will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In order to build a railroad and expand out west to add the future provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Canadian government forcibly removed, and later starved tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples. “Clearing the plains” was the beginning of the human rights violations that still exist today, and directly contribute to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women; and the high proportions of our children in care, suicides, and our Peoples in prison.
This past weekend, innocent men, women and children – peaceful protesters – were attacked with tear gas, pepper spray and dogs in order to allow bulldozers to destroy sacred land for another pipeline. LaDonna Bravebull Allard of the Standing Rock Sioux perfectly summed up this latest atrocity: “The U.S. government is wiping out our most important cultural and spiritual areas. And as it erases our footprint from the world, it erases us as a people. These sites must be protected, or our world will end, it is that simple. Our young people have a right to know who they are. They have a right to language, to culture, to tradition. The way they learn these things is through connection to our lands and our history.”
However, its not just Indigenous People’s space in this world that is being disregarded, all of humanity is at stake. It was just 10 months ago that the newly elected Trudeau government pledged to spend billions to help end global warming at the December 2015 Paris Climate Change conference. At the same time, this very same government, along with industry, is spending millions of dollars on consultations and lobbying the US government in order to build more pipelines to ship the very substance – oil – that is the number one contributor to global warming. How incredibly incongruous is that? At the very least, building more pipelines to ship more crude oil will only result in short term economic gains – and very few new jobs – in return for the long-term destruction of our ancestors’ lands, the water we all drink, and the air all humanity must breathe to survive.
The answer to ending these atrocities against both our Peoples and Mother Earth is so very simple. Canada, the United States, and 100 other countries pledged to progressively, but decisively end our reliance on fossil fuels in order to slow and impact global warming. Now is the time to expend that energy on building a green economy that is clean and addresses climate change. Now is the time to turn over the protection of our shared environment; land, air and water — back into the hands of Indigenous Peoples who have peacefully co-existed with their environments since time immemorial.
First Nations and Tribes across these lands referred to as North America have been stating quite clearly, in pre-confederate and later modern treaties, authority and indigenous jurisdiction includes protection of land for future generations – current colonial governments have not guarded against harm to our lands and have steam rolled over human rights in an effort to promote assumed and mistaken corporate entitlement to Indigenous lands. This must end now!
I call on Prime Minister Trudeau, all Premiers and Territorial Leaders in Canada, and President Barrack Obama and State Governors in the USA to end the notion that we have the luxury of time to de-entrench gradually from a fossil fuel society – there is not a second longer to waste. We must abandon “oil centrism” and act now to reconfigure into a new North American energy program that will be aimed towards saving the lives of Our Children and improving the quality of life of all humanity.
When all of our Peoples are fully involved – from North Dakota to Hudson Bay, from Arizona to British Columbia – we will create and maintain long-term solutions that do not involve pipelines or dams that will only cause more death and destruction. The time for confrontation is over. We need to act now to save our planet for our children, and for future generations.
Regards of Dire Concern for Our Children,
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini
Ontario Regional Chief
Assembly of First Nations
— Supaman (@Supamanhiphop) September 6, 2016