From It’s Going Down
Welcome to Canadian Tire Fire, a new weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. We’re excited to provide a central place for “Canadian” news on IGD.
In Canadian Tire Fire, you can expect to find news on anarchist actions, Indigenous struggle, land and environmental defense, anti-fascism, borders, labour, police, prisons, and more. We aim to provide regular updates on news from across the country, from an anarchist perspective. We may also occasionally publish more in-depth analysis on ongoing struggles.
The Canadian state claims a vast area, and has a fairly dispered population compared to our neighbours to the south. Explicitly anarchist news can at times be harder to come by, but there is no shortage of resistance, nor of authoritarian violence and oppression to resist against.
In particular, Canada is shaped by a violent history and ongoing project of settler colonialism, from which some of the most compelling anti-state, anti-authoritarian struggle emerges. This history is an important context for any news from this part of the world.
We welcome tips on news stories from all corners of so-called Canada. If you’d like to get in touch, email us at email@example.com. You can also find us on twitter at @CdnTireFire.
With all that said, let’s get to this week’s news!
Rolling Blockade in Kanehsatà:ke
Photo credit: The Action Network
On May 22, the group Kanehsata:Ke Land Defence held a rolling blockade to protest ongoing land development pressures on the community. Community members and allies made up a blockade of around 100 cars and stopped at sites throughout the community, ending at the site of a housing development near the Pines. The Mohawk community of Kanehsata:ke has a long tradition of asserting their right to the land and fighting back against development, one notable example being the Oka Crisis of 1990.
As reported by No Borders Media, this blockade focused in particular on the suburban housing developer Grégoire Gollin, who has threatened to cut down trees in the Pines. In a speech, spokesperson Ellen Gabriel stated:
We call upon Prime Minister Trudeau to declare a moratorium upon all development and to sit down with the Rotinonhseshá:ka or Haudenosaunee, Peoples of the Longhouse. The traditional government upon which the women are not only vested as the titleholders of our Homelands, but also have an obligation to protect the land.
From Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Francois Legault, to Mr. Gregoire Gollin, Mayor Pascal Quevillon, and the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, they have disrespected the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke, in particular the women of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation. We have tried the peaceful methods to bring resolution to our land conflict but our voices incessantly fall upon deaf ears. The economy trumps the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples. We are constantly squeezed into smaller parcels of land. Our community is unable to overcome the impacts of the dysfunction of colonialism which Canada and Quebec benefit from.
1492 Land Back Lane Spokesperson Turns Himself In, Three More Arrests in Connection with Ongoing Occupation
Further west in Haudenosaunee territory, on May 19th, Skyler Williams, spokesperson for #1492LandBackLane, turned himself in to the police after living with outstanding warrants related to the occupation for 10 months. Skyler told media that he made the decision so that he would be able to go back to work to support his four kids, saying he would continue to support and advocate for the camp. He was accompanied by a caravan of supporters to ensure that the Ontario Provincial Police would release him immediately as promised.
1492 Land Back Lane is an occupation of a site slated for a settler housing development called McKenzie Meadows. The occupation has been ongoing since July 19, 2020. Since Land Back Lane was established, dozens have been arrested in connection to the site. In the past weeks alone three other people from Six Nations, the reserve adjacent to the site, have been arrested on warrants nearly a year old for participation in land defense actions.
Despite the ongoing repression, the occupation continues, with 25 fruit trees newly planted at the site and the one year anniversary of the beginning of the occupation drawing near. For updates, follow @1492lbl on twitter.
Tiny House Warriors Found Guilty in Court Ruling
On May 21, siblings and founders of the Tiny House Warriors movement Kanahus and Mayuk Manuel were found guilty of theft and intimidation, respectively, in B.C. provincial court. Tiny House Warriors is a group committed to stopping the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline across unceded Secwepemc territory, through direct action. One of group’s primary tactics involves building tiny homes in strategic locations along the pipeline route. Participants have faced repeated criminalization for their actions. As reported by APTN, this latest charge stems from an interaction with security personnel outside a Trans Mountain pumping station in September 2019.
Mayuk and two other members of the Tiny House Warriors were in court the following week, related to charges laid in December 2018. Mayuk, Snutetkwe Manuel and Isha Jules were charged with mischief, causing a disturbance and assault as they interrupted a private meeting between federal politicians, government staff, regional First Nations leaders, representatives of Trans Mountain, and security personnel. The group pled not guilty to all charges, and in the first week of trial, Isha Jules was acquitted on one assault charge.
Fairy Creek Forest Defense
Photo credit: @SaveFairyCreek
It’s been an extremely eventful few weeks at the Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island. Forest defense has been ongoing in the area since last summer, when the Rainforest Flying Squad established a series of blockades to stop the logging of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek watershed, one of the largest remaining areas of old growth in North America. Teal Jones, the largest privately-owned timber harvesting and lumber product manufacturing company in B.C., has been granted a permit to log in the area. The area is part of unceded Pacheedaht territory.
On May 17, RCMP gave protesters 24 hours’ notice to vacate the area or be arrested, and from there, conflict has escalated significantly. Protesters have employed a variety of creative tactics to hold blockade positions along logging roads, where the threat of clear-cutting is imminent. Activists have chained themselves into fallen trees, suspended structures, into the ground, and to other infrastructure. Some have also hung in platforms suspended from trees, and were arrested by helicopter. Over 170 arrests have been made so far. At the same time, over a thousand people have joined the protests, including seniors, youth, Indigenous folks and allies.
As of June 4, organizers announced that 10 plainclothes RCMP officers breached Waterfall Camp, and that road building equipment is on its way to Fairy Creek. An urgent call-out has been issued for supporters to join forest defenders at Fairy Creek Headquarters. Those who can’t join are being encouraged to hold solidarity actions.
Discovery of Bodies of 215 Indigenous Children in Residential School Mass Grave Sparks Vigils across Country
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced on May 29th that the bodies of 215 children had been found in a mass grave following a ground-penetrating radar survey on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in so-called British Columbia. The residential school was operated by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969, at which point the Canadian government took over to administer the building as residences for a day school until 1978. Residential schools, the last of which closed in 1996, were a central tool in the genocidal attempt by Canada to separate Indigenous children from their families and communities and raise them without access to their cultures and languages. Indigenous people have always maintained that there was mass undocumented abuse and death at the schools.
In response to the announcement, vigils, memorials, and demonstrations have been held across the country. Many memorials placed children’s shoes at significant sites, statues, and government buildings to represent the kids whose bodies were found. At Ryerson University, a sit in was held at the graffitied statue of Egerton Ryerson, an architect of the residential school system, calling for the statue’s removal. The Charlottetown city council has voted to permanently remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from a downtown intersection in response to the revelations, reversing their previous vote not to remove it and instead to add an Indigenous figure to it. Anishinaabek in anishinaabek aki (Central and Northern Ontario) are calling for Indigenous people across Canada to #HaltTransCanada on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day, in response to the news.
In response to public outcry about the discovery, the provincial and federal governments have issued statements and called for flags to be lowered to half mast. However, many are drawing attention to the hypocrisy of these actions given that Canada is simultaneously headed towards trial in a lawsuit by 105 First Nations seeking reparations for harms to First Nation cultures, languages and communities caused by residential schools. The federal government denies responsibility in court filings.
Palestinian Solidarity Rail Blockade in Mississauga
On May 30, hundreds of protesters blockaded rail tracks at the Lisgar GO transit station in Mississauga, in solidarity with Palestine. In an escalation of the many pro-Palestinian solidarity rallies taking place across the country in recent weeks, protesters blocked commuter traffic and demanded an arms embargo on Israel. Protesters dispersed after three hours without any arrests. As pointed out in further IGD coverage, this action shows a promising continuation of a tactic that gained prominence last year during the Shut Down Canada movement.
Mi’kmaq Fishers Forced to Scale Back Operations while COVID Restrictions in Effect
Mi’kmaq fishers, who last September faced settler violence in response to their lobster fishing operations, are currently dealing with a government clampdown on their fishing. While Mi’kmaq have a treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood”, the federal Fisheries Department has been actively removing any traps that are not licensed.
As reported in the Toronto Star, the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia has announced that it will modify its plans to launch a “moderate livelihood” fishery in June, instead scaling back to a “smaller food, social and ceremonial fishery.” Because June is outside of the federal commercial season, fishers had been warned that any commercial operation would result in their traps being seized.
Fishers also noted that when COVID restrictions ease up, they would feel empowered to expand their fishing with more supporters being able to travel to the wharf in Saulnierville from the Halifax area.
Fascist Calgary Mayoral Candidate Denied Access to Voters List
The current brand of far-Right personalities have been using election candidacies to gain power and notoriety over the last few years, and many anti-fascists have spoken up about the about the dangerous platforms and power this risks providing them. Recently, in Calgary, Alberta, a new related threat has emerged. A current Calgary mayoral candidate, fascist, grifter and failed Mississauga mayoral candidate, Kevin J. Johnston, has been threatening Alberta Health Services (AHS) employees for their role in the occasional enforcement of the province’s public health act during the pandemic. Johnston has said he will release the names and addresses of AHS employees and threatened to show up at their homes, armed.
The city of Calgary usually creates a list of voters and gives it to each candidate a month before the election. The list contains names, addresses and phone numbers of each voter. As reported by the Calgary Herald, because of the threats made by Johnston, city staff have said they have not yet created that list and have no plans to do so. The list is not mandatory in Alberta, so not every municipality creates a list, or does so every year.