On Sunday, a group of peaceful demonstrators from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds blocked a train on the CN Railway tracks in Toronto as a sign of solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders in British Columbia.
The action, organized by Rising Tide Toronto, was meant to raise awareness and demand the release of the Indigenous land defenders and journalists who were arrested on Nov. 19, when the RCMP moved in to enforce a Coastal Gaslink injunction into a site known as Coyote Camp that was being blockaded. Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their allies have been blocking access to their unceded territory, where energy company Coastal Gaslink wants to drill under the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River).
Sunday’s action in Toronto saw around 100 people peacefully hold the line as police watched on. Indigenous land defenders from various nations including Six Nations, Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Wet’suwet’en gave powerful, rallying speeches while allies occupied the territory among cries of “SHUT DOWN CANADA” for about three hours. Sage burned as the beat of the drum filled the air. Food was provided. Celebration and resistance mixed peacefully.
The significance of the multicultural, multi-ethnic spirit of the demonstration was not lost on Eve Saint, a Wet’suwet’en land defender whose sister was arrested in the latest RCMP offensive (and daughter of Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos).
Immigrant settlers, she says, have a duty to learn of Canada’s dark history and of Indigenous people’s ongoing resistance against assimilation.
“They have used violence against us. They have killed us with diseases. They have overpowered us with guns and put us on reserves….In the past year, they’re digging up graves of children who are Indigenous, thousands upon thousands,” she told New Canadian Media at Sunday’s Toronto blockade.
“This is an example of what this justice system is about. It’s not about you or me or about a lot of people here. Why are we going to allow this? We have to push back.”
Fernando Arce is a Toronto-based independent journalist originally from Ecuador. He is a co-founder and editor of The Grind, a free local news and arts print publication, as well as an NCM-CAJ member and mentor. He writes in English and Spanish, and has reported from various locations across Canada, Ecuador and Venezuela. While his work in journalism is dedicated to democratizing information and making it accessible across the board, he spends most of his free time hiking with his three huskies: Aquiles, Picasso and Iris. He has a BA in Political Science from York University and an MA in Journalism from Western University.