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The Time is Now to Stand in Solidarity with Indigenous People

Settler supporter at Sqeq'petsin, Secwepemc land defense at TMX, calls on more settlers to take action as Indigenous peoples face violence from the colonial state

by Arielle Houghton

Photo from Sqeq'petsin camp resisting the TMX pipeline, Secwepemc territory (BC). Photo: Asif Ahmed
Photo from Sqeq'petsin camp resisting the TMX pipeline, Secwepemc territory (BC). Photo: Asif Ahmed

I am writing today as a Sqeq’petsin camp member and Secwepemc supporter in solidarity with Indigenous people fighting against the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX). TMX is currently drilling under the Secwepemcetkwe (Thompson River) in unceded Secwepemc Territory (near Kamloops, BC).   

The time is now to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people for the rights of all people to breathe clean air and drink clean water. This is what Indigenous people have been fighting for since time immemorial. The Secwepemc Hereditary family, the Woman's Sacred Fire Council, the Elders Council and the Secwepemc Youth Council have all made it clear that they are opposed to the TMX project.

Last week, nine arrests were made at the gates of the two TMX drill sites on either side of the Secwepemcetkwe (Thompson River). Now, with the Sqeq'petsin camp under a thin layer of snow and closed for the winter, the Secwepemc people are calling supporters across Turtle Island (North America) to host solidarity actions.

The Secwepemc people are not the only Indigenous community fighting against destructive Industry that need your help. Right now across so-called Canada, Indigenous people are being criminalized by the Canadian police state for defending their inherent and constitutional rights. In Haudenosaunee territory, the Ontario court has granted a permanent injunction against 1492 Land Back Lane and shortly after the police fired rubber bullets at land defenders outside of the injunction area. In Wet'suwet'en territory, Coastal Gas Link (CGL) is test drilling under the Wedzink Kwa river without the consent of the Wet'suwet'en people. In Mi’kmaq territory, the RCMP forcibly removed Mi'kmaq fishermen from their own loberster pound while 200 white supremacists surrounded and raided the building. The building burned down just days later.

With all of these actions taking place simultaneously, the understanding of the violence caused by the colonial police state is rising. More and more people are able to witness the horrific injustices committed against Indigenous people. Just search “Justice for Joyce” or “Colten Boushie” online if you have any doubts. How has it gotten so bad? How did we get to this point? The answer is short. We’ve always been here.

The Gustafsen Lake Stand-Off is a stark example of what the militarized police state does to Indigenous people defending their ceremonial and sacred burial grounds. In 1995 a small skirmish between a cattle farmer and the Secqwepemc people resulted in the Canadian state unleashing 450 heavily armed paramilitary personnel, 8 bison armored tanks, land mines and 77,000 rounds of bullets on Indigenous land defenders. This is just part of the legacy the RCMP has left in Secwepemc territory.

Since then, the Secwepmec have been fighting biosolids dumping on drinking water aquifers, the expansion of upscale resorts onto traditional hunting grounds, as well as mining operations that put at risk the water quality of the salmon bearing Secwepemcetkwe (Thompson River).

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place earlier this year taught us that “Silence is Violence.” The same goes when we are referring to what is taking place in our own backyards. Canadians can no longer bunt the burden of white supremacy South to Trump loving maga hat racists. It’s easy to point the finger. It’s harder to look in the mirror and face our own demons.

So the question for settlers becomes: will you stand with the Indigenous people on whose land you reside, or will you turn away? When you reflect on your answer to this question, just remember that the cumulative impacts of TMX, CGL, unbridadled housing development and commercial fishing, fish farms, and much much more, will impact you too. 

As April Thomas, member of the Secwepemc Sacred Woman’s Fire Council said at the gates of the TMX drill site, “Canada is a fake corporation. You can’t eat money. You can’t drink oil”. This is as much about food sovereignty as it is about human rights, as they are inextricably linked. 

If you eat food, drink clean water or breathe air, you have a responsibility to show up right now for Indigenous people across Turtle Island fighting for their rights. Organize a solidarity event. At the very least show up when called upon, because sometimes the only power we have is in physical numbers. Don't forget: we are a part of this system too.

If you are far away or immunocompromised you can show up digitally on Instagram at @r.i.s.e.now or on Facebook at “We the Secwepemc: Virtual Unity Camp to stop Transmountain Pipeline” or through email by signing up at sqeq-petsin.ca 

For inquiries to have a Secwepemc Spokesperson at your event email Secwepemcfire@gmail.com.


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David Gray-Donald (David Gray-Donald)
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