Land Defenders from Six Nations and Tyendinaga Speak: Audio from Guelph's 4th Annual Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner
On October 17, 2008, Guelph's 4th Annual Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner brought together many anti-colonial allies, families, farmers, students, community organizers, and warriors. These include speakers Boots Powless and Skyler Williams from Six Nations, Jackie of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Dan Doreen from Tyendinaga, and Sarah Dover from Toronto. These five speakers spoke very passionately about their struggles and efforts to defend their land, their families, communities, and culture.
Boots Powless is a member of Six Nations on the Grand River, who recently came into the limelight for staying in a teepee on a development site in Brantford. For almost three months he participated in shutting down a fiberglass insulation factory and a large hotel site, which now remain undeveloped and in negotiation. He talks of the need to stand up for the land, for the water, for ourselves.
Jackie is from the Mississauga nation, and talks in particular from her perspective as a mother, and the dire need to stop all the horrors of development from destroying her children's future, and the fallacies of negotiating with the system.
Dan Doreen is a Mohawk from Tyendinaga, who has been involved in numerous land disputes in nearby non-Native towns and on his reserve. He talks of how the time to fight is now, whether we are Native or not. He talks of the economic disruption his community has caused to CN rail, in actions in solidarity with Six Nations in 2006 and 2007, and how they shut down an illegal gravel quarry on their land, that remains shut down to this day.
On top of that, the community of Tyendinaga is supposed to get a brand new police station, even though many people don't actually want it. While spending millions of dollars on a new police station, in the elementary school next door children still can't drink the water that comes out of the taps. The land claim for the quarry is still not revoked, negotiations for their land in Deseronto is proceeding at a snails pace, yet the band council thinks they need a new police station.
Sarah Dover eloquently and powerfully lays out why the only option that the Canadian government, law, and courts leaves to Indigenous people is to take direct action. Yet for exercising their only option available, they get thrown in jail and threatened with violence. She also talks of how taking steps towards healing from addiction and substance abuse is just as militant a step towards decolonization as is blockading.
Skyler Williams talks of his role in actions at a Stirling St. suburb in Caledonia, and why and how he became politicized and committed to taking action in defence of his land. With regards to Stirling St., where 200 riot cops moved in on a handful of Six Nations people, he tells the story of his violent arrest where cops held him down, handcuffed him, and electrocuted him four times with a Taser. As a relatively young warrior, his story is an inspiring one, and it transcends 'activism' and academia and gets to the heart of what many of us experience.
All in all, they are all powerful speakers who speak from the heart. One of the most important points that they all bring up is that these issues are not just affecting Native people, but all people. We are connected in these struggles not in a charity-based sense of solidarity, but as people who's future's are being killed off just as surely as anyone who is Native.
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