Last Thursday, July 13th, people from Grassy Narrows First Nation were joined by members of a number of environmental groups in escalating their blockade – targeting the Trans-Canada Highway for one day. (For more information of the Grassy Narrows blockade see my post earlier today.) They were able to keep the road closed with a number of people holding banners, by erecting a 10-metre tripod in the middle of the roadway with a woman suspended from it and chaining themselves to barrels. They also commandeered a transport logging truck with one protester laying underneath, chained to its axle, for the majority of the day.
“We’re here to draw attention to the fact that Grassy Narrows has held a blockade that’s been ignored by the government,” said Leah Henderson of the Rainforest Action Network to the Kenora Daily Miner. “We think it was time to give some attention to the Grassy Narrows struggle.”
“The clear-cutting of the land is an attack on our people,” said Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows blockader who is also a trapper, in a press release. “Weyerhaeuser and the McGuinty government don’t want us on the land, they want us out of the way so they can take the resources. We can’t allow them to carry on with this cultural genocide.”
The police did not move on the TransCanada blockade on the 13th. Instead they waited until Friday and then raided the Grassy Narrows blockade site.
What follows is a press release from Grassy Narrows regarding this police aggression:
Six Nations Warriors Arrested in Grassy Narrows
OPP violate native jurisdiction over reserve lands in a aggressive action
OPP officers raided Grassy Narrows blockade site yesterday arresting Six Nations people who had come to participate in a gathering as guests of the Grassy Narrows community. 5 six nations people were detained, 4 were charged. The OPP are targeting 6 nations people and people of colour.
Police cruisers also entered the Grassy Narrows reserve without permission, violating the community's sovereignty and legal jurisdiction over their reserve lands. Grassy Narrows Band councilors seized an OPP police cruiser over jurisdictional issues and later released it. The Six Nations delegation had come to meet with the community of Grassy Narrows and participate in the Earth Justice Gathering-an opportunity for First Nations and supporters to meet, and strategize about protecting the Boreal Forest and Indigenous sovereignty.
"It is hoped that the safety and security of all First Nations people is first and foremost in the mind of the Canadian Government and their agencies..." said Brian Skye a citizen of the Cayuga Nation Wolf Clan of the Six Nations Confederacy, and a member of the delegation that was invited to Grassy Narrows Earth Justice.." For if anyone is put under further duress, injured, or if a fatality is caused, they must take responsibility fo their acts of racism, colonialism and genocide."
"The act of war perpetrated by the OPP in taking members of our delegation hostage and holding them ransom (bail) is an act of terrorism on the First Nations peoples of North America. The ramifications of this aggressive, violent instigation will be reciprocated swiftly and justly, as it is the obligation of all First Nations to do so.
"Traditionally the Six Nations have an historical agreement that we stand with our arms linked together with the Anishinabe Nations, as they are our neighbors, understanding that they are linked with their neighbors. Because of the attacks perpetrated upon our people this unity across North America which has held for centuries is being reaffirmed."
"This is a clear act of police intimidation -an attempt to suppress legitimate dissent and stifle the growing movement for indigenous rights through force without addressing the serious grievances at the root of this issue, nor their political implications, " said David Sone, an organizer for the Rainforest Action Network. " arresting Native people as they assert their rights is a clear act of racism. The government must deal with the root issue of fundamental human rights in a honorable way, on a Nation to Nation basis, not with force. Police should not be used to suppress the inherent rights First Nations or to interfere in legitimate political disputes.
contacts: Judy da Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org) 807-925-9941
Messages can be left at: 647-883-5983
For more information and updates see the Friends of Grassy Narrows website.