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Mi'kmaq warriors speak in Toronto

By: 
Jesse McLaren

February 22, 2014

 
On February 20 member of the the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society spoke to a packed crowd at the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, the latest stop on their tour that started on the west coast.
 
The evening began with a welcome and drumming, and heard from activists about the impact of poverty on the Downtown East Side what people are doing to resist. Then members of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network talked about the impact of environmental destruction on women’s bodies, and the way climate and reproductive justice are intertwined.
 
An activist from Grassy Narrows spoke via skype about the recurring threats of logging on their territories and the need for solidarity, and Vanessa Gray from Aamjiwnaang described the environmental racism imposed on her community, surrounded by petrochemical companies.
 
“Normalize resistance”
This became the backdrop for the Mi’kmaq warriors, highlighting the importance of their resistance in Elsipogtog against fracking. Suzanne Patles (who will be a keynote speaker at next month's Powershift conference in Halifax) described the generational continuity of resistance, from her parents and grandparents who had resisted residential schools, to her and her children who would resist ongoing colonization. As she described the media portrayal has tried to isolate resistance when in fact it was the whole community that was united against fracking. As she said we need to normalize resistance, and demand those Mi’kmaq Warriors still incarcerated be released.
 
“If we all work together we can defeat the oppressor”
Coady Jipol described how colonization affected him personally—from drugs and incarceration to his friends’ suicides—and the urgency of changing the world. As he said, “I don’t want my son burying his friends.”
 
First inspired by the Mi’kmaq blockade at Burnt Church in 1999, he joined the blockade at Elsipogtog and described how it renewed cultural pride and stopped the fracking company despite police brutality. He described the process of radicalization, where the more people get involved the more they see injustice, and appealed to people to join the struggle: “if we all work together we can defeat the oppressor.”

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