Injustices Happening Against Our Indigenous Neighbours You Should Care About

It’s no surprise that there is unrest coast to coast in Canada. The lack of support and recognition the voices of Indigenous peoples are receiving is disheartening. Here are some crucial issues that need to be given more attention in the media.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

I’m sure by now you have been exposed to the romanticized version of the story of the first missing and murdered Indigenous woman, famously known as Pocahontas. The issue of the disappearances of Indigenous women has been pressed on for years to no avail. Indigenous women seem to go missing every year, and there are trends to these disappearances.

Michelle Chubb, a Cree activist, raises awareness of her suspicion that the most disappearances take place in areas where there are high levels of fishing exports in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia. She fears that they are being shipped overseas using large shipping containers. While it’s optimistic to hope it isn’t true, it isn’t completely unlikely.

Wet’suwet’en Territory

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and allies are protesting against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. Ever since Coastal GasLink was given permission from the Supreme Court, Wet’suwet’en Nation members have been blocking access to this project. Coastal GasLink says permission was granted by all 20 First Nation groups across the route of the pipeline, which would cover about 670 kilometres across northern B.C. The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs explain that they did not consent to the construction of the pipeline on their traditional territory and that they are protesting not only against the pipeline but also for their rights. 

Under the Indian Act, the band councils that are made up of elected chiefs and councillors have authority over reserve lands and territories. The Wet’suwet’en Nation is advocating for their rights over their own lands which should be protected under treaties and acknowledgments given by the Canadian government.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are carrying out unlawful and unjust arrests and use of force against these protestors. This protest is also being displayed to the nation as a protest only against the pipelines rather than the embedded issue of Indigenous autonomy over their land.

Secwepemc Territory

The Secwepemc peoples have been protesting against the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Kamloops, British Columbia. A group including the Hereditary Chief, his daughter and many others were arrested. Protesters were, according to the RCMP, “blocking an active worksite” and “violating a court-ordered injunction” by doing so.

This land that the company TMX is working on was never ceded or surrendered by the Secwepemc and they did not give the government or the pipeline company permission to carry through with the work on their land. The pipeline expansion involves drilling under the Thompson River. The effects of this project would directly impact the well-being of the river’s ecosystem, the river’s health and the people who rely on the river itself for food and water.

The government and the company clearly did not receive permission to continue working on the expansion of this pipeline. Through the arrests and the deployment of the RCMP, the government and TMX have shown that they failed to listen to the voices of the Secwepemc despite the two cease and desist letters sent.

Indigenous peoples’ voices are not valued by the government and it is evident through their actions, or in this case, the lack thereof. This is also a rights issue rather than a simple protest against the pipeline, yet again.

1492 Landback Lane

In Caledonia, Ontario, Haudenosaunee people and members of the Six Nations of the Grand River are fighting to get their land back from companies that wish to build homes over this disputed land. The OPP have used a taser and have fired at least one rubber bullet, according to CBC news.

The 1784 Haldimand Proclamation guaranteed a tract of land in Ontario to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations for playing a supportive role to the British during the American Revolution. This land stretched from Lake Erie to the Grand River in southwestern Ontario. Most of this land was stolen back by the settlers. Disputes over it continue on 230 years later. Protests were going peacefully until the recent clashes with the OPP.

Once again, Indigenous rights are still being fought for despite the existence of several treaties that are supposedly protecting their land rights.

Algonquin Territory

In the province of Quebec, two Algonquin communities are raising their voices against the hunting of moose for sport at La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve. The protestors raise concern over the fact that moose populations are under threat due to the excessive moose hunting done for sport. The population of moose has dropped from three moose per ten square kilometres in 2008 to approximately two as of February 2020.

Not only are the Algonquin protesting for the safety of the ecosystems, but also their rights, livelihoods and, yet again, autonomy over what is their land.

The list seems like it could be endless. Indigenous groups such as Kanehsata:ke, Mi’kma’ki and many more still have to fight for their rights as the Native peoples of this land. So, what can you do? First things first, you must educate yourself. Yes, you’ve read this article but now you’ve got to go find MORE facts and research to understand what is going on, why it’s going on and how Indigenous peoples are being affected all over Canada and the United States.

Write to your local Members of Parliament, to the Members of Provincial Parliament. Sign petitions and listen to and amplify Indigenous voices. Be that supportive ally, help decolonize and USE YOUR VOICE.