No One Is Illegal - Toronto condemns the Trudeau government's continuation of Canada’s colonial violence towards Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island. Indigenous communities have time and time again proven their resilience and strength, finding ways to resist and reassert their sovereignty in the face of ongoing displacement, dispossession, and cultural genocide. This violence has occurred for centuries and remains integral to Canada’s policies and practices today. Lack of drinkable water, housing, adequate health and social services, and a continual mismanagement of funds by the Canadian government has left Attawapiskat First Nation and countless other Indigenous communities across Turtle Island without adequate supports to thrive and exist with dignity. The ongoing theft of land, lack of support in terms of transfer of funds and government services, and failing to recognize and affirm the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations in material ways are just some of the factors that have contributed to the crisis in Attawapiskat.
The Canadian state has been founded upon land theft, rape, genocide, displacement and environmental destruction. These actions are not Canada’s past, but shape Canada’s present and affect Canada’s future.The ongoing effects of colonialism are exemplified in the case of the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2 Spirit people, coercive resource extraction projects, inadequate service provision, and gross withholding of monetary resources that are rightfully owed to Indigenous communities. The violence of colonialism is ever-present as Indigenous people struggle to survive on their land, or to struggle in cities or to be trapped in prisons where Indigenous peoples are disproportionately represented. Indigenous children and youth are also disproportionately held in government care. Child and youth apprehensions lead to separation from family and community, which often reproduces the same effect of residential schools. Disconnection from community and loss of culture, along with continued exposure to abuse are all impacts from government mandated apprehensions that continue this vicious cycle of colonization.
No One Is Illegal-Toronto stands in solidarity with the recent grassroots Indigenous, Black and other allied activists who have occupied the INAC building on St Clair St in Toronto as well as occupations in communities across these lands. We support their demands that Justin Trudeau immediately visit Attawapiskat to meet with community members and to face the direct family legacy of his father. The White Paper, a proposal drafted by Pierre Trudeau in 1969, remains a quintessential example of the Canadian state’s desire to get rid of the so-called ‘Indian Problem’ through aggressive dispossession and assimilation. Justin Trudeau has been able access power through the legacy of his family name. With this entitlement he also has to carry the weight of his family’s and his government’s legacy of colonial violence.
We demand that Justin Trudeau face the current realities of Indigenous nations by dedicating time to heal, transfer resources, and to commit to processes led and determined by each individual Indigenous nation in terms of how they want to negotiate with the Canadian state. Aid and flying in social workers (oftentimes who are non-Indigenous and who are not aware of the complexities faced by remote Indigenous communities) at this time is just a band-aid solution to quell media attention. These suicides and suicide attempts are not simply a result of a mental health crisis. These suicides and suicide attempts need to be contextualized. They are a response to colonial violence and are connected to experiences of intergenerational trauma due to Canada’s violent nation building efforts. Alongside short-term interventions, longer term solutions, ones that are grounded in indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and that hold the Canadian government to higher levels of accountability are needed now as well.
We encourage our members and supporters to send messages of solidarity, contribute resources, or to be there in person at the occupation to provide much needed support. Please visit the INAC office 25 St. Clair St east of Yonge St.