A militant rally and march took place in Toronto on December 11, part of ongoing actions to stand with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders who are facing the most brutal state violence and terror at the hands of the RCMP as they fight to stop the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline being forced through their territory.
More than 300 people participated in the event which included speeches from Indigenous activists who shared their experiences of the struggles for their rights against the racist colonial Canadian state and its governments.
One of the main themes of the rally was the growing resistance being waged by Indigenous peoples across the land for their rights and sovereignty and the unity between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Speakers pointed out that Indigenous peoples and Canadians are one, facing the same racist state which violates the rights of all. The rally participants joined in denouncing the actions of governments and courts at all levels which violate the rights of Indigenous peoples while enforcing the private interests of resource monopolies and their funders such as TD Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, the Canada Pension Plan and others.
A number of the speakers pointed out that the fight being waged by the Haudenosaunee and the Wet’suwet’en and other Indigenous peoples is creating “uncertainty” for all private interests and their funders involved in resource extraction or building pipelines on Indigenous lands in violation of Indigenous law and without consent. This “uncertainty” will continue to grow, they said, as the Indigenous peoples and their allies stand together against the lies and violence of the Canadian state and its police whose aim is to create “certainty” for private interests by any means.
Of note were the reports given by Mohawk land defenders Layla Staats and Skyler Williams of Six Nations who travelled to the Yintah to stand with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders. Staats in particular described the Gestapo-like tactics of the RCMP against the land defenders and their allies. This included coming at the land defenders in military formation, with attack dogs, pointing assault rifles at unarmed men and women and elders, violent arrests and beating up land defenders. Staats spoke about being forcefully arrested and of the efforts to dehumanize her and others. From the time they were arrested till they appeared in court they faced constant efforts to break down their spirits, such as forcing them to appear before the judge in their underclothing, and other psychological warfare tactics.
To the cheering of the participants, Layla Staats said that her spirit and the spirit of the others remain unbroken because their cause is just. Skyler Williams highlighted the advances made as a consequence of the broad unity of the people in the struggle and the social love between Indigenous peoples and their Canadian allies.
Following the rally at Toronto City Hall, the participants marched to Bay Street, stopping at intersections and in front of bank offices to chant slogans and call for ending the funding of the CGL pipeline. The march ended with spirited chanting outside the corporate offices of TC Energy, the owner of the CGL pipeline.
This article was published in:
Renewal Update No. 80, December 16, 2021