Solidarity with Six Nations and organizing against the 2010 Olympics.
For over a year now, AW@L has been devoting much of 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 Yong 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.