Thursday, January 29, 2015

What's #ShutDownCanada about?

First Nations civil disobedience continues to move into the tech age.

Photo from Facebook, by Mike Roy ‎#ShutDownCanada*
"Everything is interconnected. This government blatantly oppresses indigenous peoples in a calculated effort to create dysfunction within communities to maintain control of the land and exploitation of natural resources." ~ from #ShudownCanadaLethbridge Facebook page

Chris Davis

A small Lethbridge-based group has joined a nascent and growing First Nations movement #ShutDownCanada under their own hashtagged name, #ShutDownCanadaLethbridge (SDCL). On social media including a Facebook page (SDCL) reissues #ShutDownCanada call for First Nation communities across Canada to blockade railways, ports, highways, on February 13. "Don't buy, don't fly, no work and keep the kids home from school."

"The goal is to significantly impact the Canadian economy for a day and demand there be an independent inquiry into the 2000+ cases of missing or murdered indigenous women. It's Time to #ShutDownCanada." 

Getting the attention of and exposure from corporate mainstream media is a common theme of these civil disobedience actions. "Just need 12 or so to get the front page", advised one presumed SDCL member on their Facebook page.  I've covered Piikani protests that turned out to be two or three passionate speakers.  For others the whole community comes out.  First Nations communities that would have been at odds with or unaware of each other pre-European invasion are uniting across borders, languages, cultures, and mores.  It's a highly effective variant of the flash mob, writ large.

Idle No More Piikani protest 2012, Highway 3
C. Davis photo

Increasingly social media has been embraced by First Nation culture, and particularly the younger generations are tuned in, sporting mobile communications devices, active on Twitter, Facebook, websites, YouTube, etc.

According to is made up of grassroots organizers from the west coast "such as Shannon Hecker and Dan Wallace", sparked the initiative through social media, including the Facebook account ‘In Solidarity with all Land Defenders’ which " is encouraging people to show their discontent with the current state of affairs".

The group is calling for diverse tactics that would disrupt the everyday flow of the Canadian economy. ~ 

An example of #ShutDownCanada in action: According to , on December 2, 2013 members of the eastern coast Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation, the "Highway 11 Land Defenders", held an anti-fracking Emergency Day of Action " to protest assault on native lands and right to protest".  The Mi'kmaq are a maritime people.  Their action included the blockade of Highway 11 (New Brunswick). Click here for a CTV report about that.

According to The Media Co-op's article "Wave of #ShutDownCanada Actions Shows Support for Anti-Fracking in Elsipogtog", at least five people were arrested under an injunction "banning protesters from being within 20m in front or behind SWN (SWN Resources Canada Ltd.) equipment, or within 250m of the highway they are working along".

"#ShutDownCanada (2013) was called to coincide with the end of the injunction, and saw actions from Houston to Montreal, from Halifax to Vancouver."  In Vancouver the port was blockaded.  That group declared themselves to be  "A loose coalition of: Active Anarchists, Busy Bourgeois, Concerned Citizens, Determined Defenders of the Land, Elsipogtog Endorsers, and Fracking Fighters".

Down the road from Pincher Creek the Piikani Nation has blockaded Highway 3 as it passes through Brocket several times, with significant numbers, as we've reported here several times in recent years.

Piikani Idle No More 2013
C. Davis photo
Another excerpt from the #ShudownCanadaLethbridge Facebook page: "Make no mistake that systemic racism and structural violence are connected to the needs of this illegal colonial state to maintain control of the land for exploitation. That is why we must call attention to these issues at the same time - the tars sands, the pipelines, fracking, mining, mega-dam projects and justice for #MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) - it's all connected."

In a separate Facebook post a list of First Nations concerns are cited, as are unrestrained rebukes to Prime Minister Harper's Conservative government's "Action Plan".

"While the issues are many and varied throughout different regions it’s all interconnected and it is this corrupt government that is responsible. The only way for the people to get the attention of this government is to target their pocket books. That is the reason to #ShutDownCanada."

After the 2013 Piikani Nation Idle No More brief blockade of Highway 3, Piikani's Abby Morning Bull said "We didn't have the right to vote until 1961. We were not seen as human beings until 1961. Women got the right to vote in the 1920's. Why did it take another 40 years until First Nations people were allowed to vote? that's what this government has done, and that's what people don't see and that's what people don't talk about."


Again from the #ShutDownCanada mission statement:  "The system has failed us all miserably. There is no democracy and we the people have an obligation to demand justice for all. The current status quo in so called Canada serves only the elite few while the majority of Canadians are financial slaves to the system. Politicians do not represent the people, nor have they ever. Indigenous communities know this all too well and have been actively resisting subjugation since contact with the first colonizers who illegally imposed their jurisdiction through covert biological warfare and the ongoing genocide implemented with the residential school system."

"The residential schools took the children from the land to disconnect people from their culture in order to take the land from the children. The genocide is ongoing, we still see the constant removal of indigenous children from their ancestral lineages and the untimely deaths of so many indigenous men, women and children. Indigenous peoples are over-represented in the (in)justice system and homeless populations are disproportionately indigenous. The systemic racism in the RCMP and Police forces negates any effective justice from taking place. This is the reason why so many indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered without any real action to prevent further violence. "

"Everything is interconnected. This government blatantly oppresses indigenous peoples in a calculated effort to create dysfunction within communities to maintain control of the land and exploitation of natural resources. The rape and destruction of our mother earth is another facet of the ongoing genocide which holds no prejudice affecting all children of the earth. We are all directly affected by ecocide."

Here it is posted in the Powell River Post, located on the west coast of BC.

Here's more information at the popular Red Power Media blog.

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