Six Nations land defenders criminalized by court injunctions for protecting ancestral lands
Haldimand County Police say: “The situation escalated as demonstrators at the site failed to comply with the injunction.”
It is now Day 27 for Six Nations land defenders who are protecting their territory from a housing development at a site they have renamed 1492 Land Back Lane.
The land defenders began their re-occupation of this land on July 19.
By July 31, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) escorted a court sheriff who read and delivered an injunction against the occupation. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law has commented: “The land defenders, all of whom are Indigenous, were not represented in court.”
On August 5, OPP officers raided the site and arrested 9 land defenders for not complying with the court injunction. The land defenders returned shortly afterwards.
On August 7, an Ontario Supreme Court judge issued two more injunctions and extended a third injunction against the land defenders.
The legal fund for 1492 Land Back Lane comments: “These injunctions only serve as a colonial mechanism to disposes us of our lands and resources, which fundamentally violates our rights as sovereign Indigenous people.”
Haudenosaunee lawyer Beverly Jacobs further explains the ahistorical aspect of injunctions against Indigenous land defence struggles in this APTN video clip. The Yellowhead Institute has also commented on the skewed granting of injunctions, as has Kate Gunn of First Peoples Law (who PBI met with in Vancouver in November 2019).
On August 10, the OPP said they did not have an update on when the court injunctions would be delivered. In the meantime, the OPP continue to have a presence near the site.
On August 13, land defender Skyler Williams posted: “After being shot at, beaten and tasered, dragged off our land and criminalized we as community have never been more determined to see our way forward.”
Skyler has also commented: “This is about Haudenosaunee people asserting their rights over their territory and I think the criminalization of that is the crime here.”
Earlier this week, CBC reported: “Williams said he and the other [land defenders] intend to dig in at the development, despite the ongoing police presence and injunctions demanding they tear down their tents and the barricades.”
For additional background on the reasons for the 1492 Land Back Lane re-occupation, you can listen to this 48-minute Warrior Life interview by Mi’kmaq lawyer Pam Palmater with Skyler Williams and Myka Burning.
APTN has also explained that this present-day situation can be traced back to 1784 when Quebec governor Frederick Haldimand granted a tract of land spanning 10 kilometres in either direction from the banks of the Grand River (see map below) after the Haudenosaunee allied with the British during the American Revolution. Throughout the 1800s the Haudenosaunee were dispossessed of this territory and an unresolved court challenge over the legality of that loss of territory began in 1995.
For further updates, you can also visit the 1492 Land Back Lane Facebook page.
To make a donation to 1492 Land Back Lane, you can e-transfer your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for their GoFundMe page.
Linda · August 17, 2020 at 4:57 pm
It is being made known and becoming known to all citizens that these numerous, continuous and widely used injunctions are but a method du jour which enable the continuation of wrongful and illegal land appropriation. It is not right to continually use mirroring tactics to depict Indigenous peoples as criminals in their assertions pertaining to their well documented and supported Rights. This needs to stop. Dignity and pride is for all. Not a one of us can own or remove these of another. I wish for them, among many necessary things required by all human beings, SPACE to finally be abled to carve out a life for themselves. How could anyone possibly wish misery on another. If anyone harbors a burning hate towards Indigenous peoples, or any person deemed too different from themselves to be worthy of basic love, then what are you doing here??? How were your belief systems founded? Where do they come from? There is not one single race who is superior to another. That teaching was a fabrication. We need to live respectfully and in proximity. Canada is not an all white Nation. It never was. It can never and never will be. My desire is not for it to be an all anything. Black, white, yellow and red. Canada needs to honor their obligations and get over this obsession with this ugly and ultimate dominance and control which comes at any price and in the form of lives. Not okay. We don`t want it. Learn to listen for a change. We love the Earth. We love the animals. We value the quality of the air and the waters. We value life. We want to live it and we want others to be able to enjoy it. Why? Because it`s right. Life is relatively short, but should be and feel long and well lived. Lets live for God sakes. Live. And let live. Come on Canada. Who are you and who do you want to be. We are all BEAUTIFUL. And if you don`t feel that way, then there`s something wrong with …. *YOU*