WATCH: ER protestor rails against “white faces, white lies, white sheets” says she’s “not proud to be Canadian”
A protestor at Saturday’s Extinction Rebellion blockade of the Toronto railway took to the microphone to explain the significance of the Canadian colours “white and red.” The woman claimed that the white stood for “the hands that stole this land … for every Prime Minister that came after the fact … white faces, white lies, white sheets.”
She continued: “The red is no better. Red for the bloodshed of the people you call redskins. Red for the bloodshed of slaves. Red for the bloodshed of young black boys targeted by the police. Red for the bloodshed of missing and murdered indigenous women. Red for the bloodshed brown people labelled as terrorists.
The only red and white I can wear is the white knuckles in my clenched fist held high in the air and the red in my angry face as I demand to see change. I am not proud to be a Canadian. I am not a Canadian.”
Extinction Rebellion gathered in downtown Toronto today to block the rails and prevent CP trains from running.
This is the latest in a series of actions taken by anti-pipeline protestors to express their anger over an early morning raid and a number of arrests at an anti-pipeline camp on Thursday.
GO Transit had to suspend service on the Barrie line as a result. The group claimed during the protest that they were blocking pipeline materials.
Toronto-area GO Trains have been halted after protestors were cleared from weeks-long rail blockades near Belleville, Ontario.
The group, known as the “Wet’suwet’en Strong: Hamilton Solidarity,” migrated to the tracks of the Bayview Junction in the Chicago-to-Toronto rail corridor that also serves Amtrak, VIA, and Go Transit, The Globe and Mail reports.
The group said in a Facebook post that they were served with an injunction by police, which they “happily burned.” The group then set up blockades on the GO tracks, which the group has said is in response to the OPP’s dismantling of blockades on Tyendaninaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville.
Those blockades were broken up Monday morning after police forced protestors to leave, eventually arresting 10 people on the scene. The blockades, which stayed up for three weeks, caused nationwide economic stagnation as both CN rail and VIA rail had to temporarily lay off employees, along with other massive inconveniences such as supply shortages.
But after the blockade was taken down, the protestors saw it fit that they continue their rallies, this time on commute tracks.
The group posted on Facebook Monday, saying that “the violence the state has perpetrated towards Indigenous land defenders and their supporters, the forced removal and criminalization of Indigenous people from their lands” was their reason for protesting. “This is a pattern that has existed since settlers came to Turtle Island and that continues to exist today.”
Another blockade has been set up on Highway 6 in Caledonia, Ontario as well, blocking traffic between Argyle and Greens Road.
Blockades across the country continue to put a halt on the Canadian economy as goods cannot be transported to where they need to be. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he wants to come to a quick and peaceful solution but that does not seem very plausible at this point.
BMO Capital Markets senior economist, Doug Porter, said that the coronavirus has negatively affected the global economy and the rail shutdown is an added extra pressure for Canada’s economy according to Financial Post.
“The ultimate cost will depend on the duration of the shutdown, and we have plenty of recent evidence to make an early assessment,” said Porter. “The November CN strike, which lasted more than a week, ended up carving less than 0.1 ppts from GDP that month. However, this shutdown threatens to be more open-ended, with the situation ‘fluid.’”
Manufacturers are assuming that their revenues will also be negatively affected by the rail blockades.
Today, Maple Leaf Foods president and chief operating officer, Curtis Frank along with President of CKF Inc., Ian Anderson noted at a press conference that “every day the rail stoppages continue, $850 million worth of manufactured goods are sitting idle.”
Other guests at the conference include ArcelorMittal Dofasco, BB Résaux Électriques, Demers Ambulances, J.D. Irving LTD., Énergie Valero and more.
Chief Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations was also scheduled to hold a press conference today in Ottawa with hopes of discussing the present Wet’suwet’en situation.
Vancouver Island Extinction Rebellion appeared outside the home of British Columbia Premier John Horgan claiming they would be attempting a citizen’s arrest on the premier.
Protestors said they were attempting to prevent Horgan’s attendance of the provincial budget announcement at the BC legislature Tuesday.
RCMP vehicles were on scene, as well as members of Horgan’s security personnel.
Protestors have been spotted holding signs outside of Horgan’s home, with others laying down across Horgan’s residence.
The premier was seen arriving at his home at around 8 a.m. PST, getting in a verbal argument with protestors there to arrest him.
According to CTV News, the RCMP created an “exclusion zone” and threatened to arrest anyone who remained on the premise. Protestors were then arrested, while others remained outside the street.
Horgan reportedly left his home with his security detail at 8:30 a.m.
The action outside the premier’s home Tuesday comes after numerous displays by the eco group that have disrupted Canada.
On Feb. 11, hundreds of activists blocked the entrances to the B.C. legislature as the government was set to deliver its throne speech.
The Extinction Rebellion demonstration were in solidarity with anti-pipeline Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.
“The events of the past week on Wet’suwet’en territories have been an extreme demonstration of colonial violence, approved by the Trudeau and Horgan governments in contravention of Wet’suwet’en, Canadian and international law,” said a statement released Monday night by the group.
“We join the Wet’suwet’en in urging the Horgan government to stop privileging corporate interests over indigenous sovereign rights and the integrity of the Yintah.”
Extinction Rebellion has garnered negative attention recently, as the group has participated in railway blockades that have inconvenienced the travel of an estimated 90,000 VIA Rail travellers and countless CN Rail cargo shipments.
As the #ShutDownCanada protests rage on into the 12th day with no end in sight, with border crossings being the latest major infrastructure spots targeted on Monday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only late Sunday finally taking the crisis seriously, here’s a look at some of the most important facts regarding the illegal protests.
1. What is the pipeline project?
The Coastal GasLink pipeline project is a 670 km pipeline that is meant to carry natural gas across the northern section of British Columbia. The project is estimated to cost $6.6 billion. The pipeline path starts in the Dawson Creek area close to the border of BC and travels west to Kitimat, B.C.
2. Prolonged and growing illegal protests
On Dec. 31, the BC The Supreme Court granted an expansion injunction to Coastal GasLink against members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who were obstructing access to construction.
Blockades began on Feb. 6 when the RCMP started to enforce the injunction and protestors were asked to leave the camp. The protestors were blocking a service road close to Houston, BC Tensions have been escalating since the incident and #ShutDownCanada blockades started springing up across the country.
The protests are still going strong, with cargo and passenger trains shut down across the country and border crossings blocked today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled a trip to Barbados last minute Sunday and had a meeting with a group of cabinet ministers in Ottawa on the subject Monday. Trudeau said his government is focusing “on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully.”
3. Arrested protesters
Many of the protests have illegally blocked major parts of Canada’s infrastructure with impunity, but others have ended up in cuffs.
On Monday, Feb. 10, 57 protestors were arrested for the Metro Vancouver port blockade.
On Jan. 7, there were 14 arrests made at a protest camp in Northern BC.
There were 12 protestors arrested in the office of the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
On Feb. 8, there were 11 people arrested at the Port of Vancouver.
Another 6 arrests occurred earlier in the month at a blockade in Northern BC.
Despite these arrests, the majority of the anti-pipeline activists have gotten away with breaking the law, with one counter protestor trying to remove a blockade getting arrested instead of the people illegally blocking a highway.
4. Support vs. opposition for the pipeline
The Angus Reid Institute created a poll that sampled 1,508 people and asked them about their opinions on the pipeline. The poll found that 51 percent of Canadians support the pipeline while 36 percent are against it. Less than half of Canadians are for the Wet’suwet’en solidarity protestors with 39 percent supporting them.
Most people feel that further consultation with the hereditary chiefs is needed to discuss the pipeline properly.
The poll was taken from Feb. 10-12.
5. Majority of First Nations involved want the pipeline
There are 13 hereditary chief positions, but not all of them are currently filled. These chiefs oversee the Wet’suwet’en Nations five clans.
All 20 of the elected First Nations councils who are located along the path of the pipeline have signed agreements with Coastal GasLink. These councils represent approximately 2,800 people.
Five Hereditary Chiefs have claimed that the project does not have any authority to carry on without their consent.
6. Why isn’t law enforcement breaking up blockades and arresting more people?
Law enforcement may be hesitant to break up blockades because the protests going on resemble that of the Oka Crisis which began on July 11, 1990 and lasted until September 26, 1990, spanning 78 days. The Oka Crisis is an ugly chapter in Canadian history that the government does not want to repeat.
The Oka Crisis involved a standoff between the Canadian military and the Mohawks. The standoff was over the expansion of a golf course onto Native land and eventually resulted in one fatality.
TVO talked to Kahente Horn-Miller who remembers the crisis. She said, “Oka is still in our memory. There are still a lot of people who are alive who were a part of that. That was only 30 years ago. And it was a moment of awakening for a lot of us, because my generation were teenagers, right? So it’s not easy to forget,”
The crisis finished after the expansion was cancelled on Sept. 26, 1990.
7. Shortage of goods due to CN Rail trains blocked for over a week
Goods that travel by rail across the country have been at a standstill along with the trains. This is leading to shortages of groceries, propane, drinking water, baby formula and personal hygiene products.
8. CN Rail lays off employees
CN rail announced Monday it has had to send out layoff notices to employees in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia due to the prolonged shut down of their operations. Other employers that have a supply chain that relies on Canada’s railway system will also inevitably be affected by lay offs if the protests continue.
9. Via Rail says nearly 100,000 passengers trips cancelled
Via Rail announced on Saturday that over 400 trains had been cancelled and over 83,000 passengers were unable to take the train to travel across Canada in the span of the last week and a half. As trains are still not moving, that number continues to rise and would undoubtedly raise the price of other modes of transportation such as air travel.
10. Difference between hereditary Chiefs and elected chiefs
Hereditary chiefs are chiefs who have their titles passed down from generation to generation. These titles predate colonization. The chiefs are representatives of the separate houses that together make up the First Nations. Hereditary chiefs are in charge of traditional land management.
Elected band councils differ from the hereditary chiefs because they are elected community members. These councils came in 1876 after the Indian Act was established. The act created a guideline for how the Canadian government interacts with Indigenous people.