This week brought a number of updates from the struggle against the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline project on the west coast. It also saw the arrest count at Fairy Creek hit 500, as forest defenders fought to maintain multiple camps and re-gain frontline territory lost to the RCMP. Both struggles have experienced repression from a number of fronts, ranging from the state to industry workers to fascist vigilantes; with news emerging this week that drew new connections between far-Right actions against Wet’suwet’en and Fairy Creek struggles.
This week, hundreds participated in actions calling for status for all migrants, while migrant justice organizers mourned the death of a cherished member of their community, Carmelo Monge.
While we couldn’t cover these events in detail, we’d also like to mention the recent banner drop in so-called Saint-Felicien, Quebec, to denounce dumping in the Ashuapmushuan river by the nearby Kraft factory. We also had our eyes on the statement from the Sisters of Charity, the order of nuns who ran the Shubenacadie Residential School in so-called Nova Scotia. The organization continues to refuse to grant access to the archives from the period during which they ran the school, so their words of remorse ring hollow to many.
With that, here’s the news for the week!
#StatusForAll Day of Action July 25, Long Live Carmelo
A #StatusForAll March to Ottawa was held on July 25th. Organized by Solidarity Across Borders (SAB) (based in so-called Montreal) and the Migrant Rights Network in Ontario, marchers and organizers called on the government to grant full and permanent immigration status to all migrants.
Many on social media described the march as historic. While it was certainly a large, well attended event worth celebrating, it is not the first March on Ottawa organized by migrants and migrant justice activists. In 2005, SAB organized the No One is Illegal March on Ottawa, inspired by other historic marches that have headed to the capital city.
This year, because of the pandemic, the march took a different format. The proposed seven-day walk into the city was replaced by a bus into a campground nearby and a walk from there to Ottawa. But the week of action also featured neighbourhood flyering, multiple smaller rallies in Montreal, a community supper, and a soccer game.
— Solidarité sans frontières #StatusforAll (@SolidariteMTL) July 25, 2021
The struggle against borders and for #StatusForAll has been a long, hard fight and will continue. Despite incremental gains, the Canadian government has consistently ignored or refused to grant the kinds of large scale and disruptive demands made by organizers seeking more than small reforms for specific groups. Over the last decade, Canada has made it harder for migrants to acquire permanent immigration status in the country, while simultaneously increasing and diversifying its border and deportation enforcement capacity. The organizers of the march this year have been clear: “We will not stop until everyone has full and permanent immigration status, with no exceptions. We will leave no one behind.”
We celebrate the ongoing struggle against borders and for freedom of movement for all, while also wanting to send our solidarity and support to friends, family, and comrades of Carmelo Monge. Carmelo was a well known and widely loved migrant justice organizer in so-called Montreal. He was involved in Mexicans United for Regularization, Solidarity Across Borders, and the Immigrant Workers Centre among other groups. He passed away suddenly on July 23rd, 2021 and his absence will be felt for a long, long time by many organizers in the city and beyond. Solidarity Across Borders is helping to raise money for the repatriation of his body to Mexico, where his blood family lives, and where he was born and organized with Indigenous and student movements.
Long Live Carmelo!
TMX Updates: Front Line Repression, Solidarity Actions, and A Change of Route
The Tiny House Warriors, land defenders on the front lines of the struggle against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, experienced the latest in a long saga of harassment from industry workers this week. On July 23, Secwepemc warrior Kanahaus Manuel reported on twitter, “50+ tmx workers invade our home, installing cameras, perimeter fence and removed half of our safety barricades!”
Fuck Trans Mountain pipelines and their tmx dirty man camps //// home invasion today as 50+ tmx workers invade our home, installing cameras, perimeter fence and removed half of our safety barricades! #stoptmx pic.twitter.com/wGErn9xbKm
— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) July 24, 2021
Workers installed a new surveillance tower, which appears to include a robotic camera, floodlight, and loudspeaker. Workers and security personnel maintained a heavy presence on the site over the following days, constantly harassing and filming land defenders. On July 27, truckloads of workers arrived, seemingly to intimidate land defenders, and blocking access to the road, river, and harvesting grounds.
Pipeline men blocking access to our river, wild blueberry harvesting grounds and access to our road. #TransMountain pipeline workers come block us to harass us and to intimidate us. They were driving around 6 trucks deep around our home to intimidate. #shutdowntmx pic.twitter.com/0YVlQOu3Ok
— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) July 27, 2021
In constructing houses in the pathway of the pipeline, the Tiny House Warriors are asserting their right to live on their unceded territory. They also clearly draw connections between “man camps”: camps that house industrial workers, and violence against Indigenous women and girls. The aggressive response that the warriors have faced for many years from both industry and the RCMP demonstrates that their direct action tactics pose a real threat to the pipeline project.
Meanwhile, anti-pipeline activists had a busy week on the west coast. On July 28, a group of climate activists, some associated with the group Protect the Planet Stop TMX (PPSTMX) gathered outside a downtown Vancouver RBC office to protest their funding of the Trans Mountain Expansion project. Protesters occupied the lobby of the bank and held a prayer circle, and also hung banners and flyered outside the office. Also on July 28, members of the group organized a last-minute “welcoming committee” for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland at a press conference in Vancouver.
— J Mo curran (she/her) (@jmocurran) July 29, 2021
And on the same day, a coalition of doctors and medical professionals in Victora, Vancouver, and Seattle held coordinated banner drops calling for the cancellation of the project, and linking it to climate change and the recent heat deaths in BC.
— Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast (@WCDrs4PH) July 28, 2021
Finally, it was announced last week that Trans Mountain Corp will be changing the planned pathway of the pipeline in response to opposition from the Coldwater Indian Band. Over the past decade, the Coldwater Nation has participated in a legal challenge to the pipeline, working with the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nations. One of the Coldwater Nation’s primary concerns has been the threat posed by the pipeline to an aquifer that is critical to the Nation’s water supply. The Nation’s leadership has accepted the rerouting. The news was described as “bittersweet” and “a great win for Coldwater Nation” by RAVENTrust, a legal defense group for First Nations who has helped coordinate the legal opposition to the pipeline.
A bittersweet moment for Pull Together. But also a great win for Coldwater Nation! Protecting their aquifer was the goal. https://t.co/GO4rJ41LGF
— RAVENTrust (@RAVENtrust) July 28, 2021
Workers at Wild Coffee & Bistro on Strike in Victoria
The four employees of the small Wild Coffee & Bistro in so-called Victoria, BC walked off the job on the morning of July 27th, citing lack of pay, malfunctioning equipment, and negligent management. The workers are being supported by the IWW and the Workers Solidarity Network (WSN), both of whom have provided advice on labour regulations as well as supported getting the word out about the strike.
Workers at Wild Coffee & Bistro in Victoria have had enough. For the second time in recent years, they’re having to go public with some of the ways they’re being mistreated. We’re here to stand with them, come on by and show your support ✊. @CTVNewsVI @CHEK_News @CBContheisland pic.twitter.com/oXgULn2LwC
— Worker Solidarity Network (@WorkerSol_BC) July 27, 2021
As reported by The Martlet, this strike is at least the second time extra-union labour action has been taken in the Cafe’s history. In 2016, an employee was being paid less than minimum wage and workers successfully organized with the WSN to have their wages reimbursed.
Some photos from the ongoing Wild Coffee strike pic.twitter.com/vCc4ms8MX2
— Vancouver IWW (@vancouveriww) July 29, 2021
The current strike, ongoing as of July 29th, was also motivated by the fact that the workers grievances were being ignored by the owner, Marla Donaldson, who has been in Mexico for a month. When the strike began, Donaldson’s son showed up and took the employees keys away, beginning a lockout.
Despite the small size of the cafe and the hostility of the owner, the strike has garnered a lot of public support, showing the importance of knowledge sharing about labour rights and how crucial it is to support wildcat strikes when they happen!
— Worker Solidarity Network (@WorkerSol_BC) July 28, 2021
Winnipeg Cops Use Property Forfeiture Program to Pay for Robot Dog, Protest Surveillance Training
Police in so-called Winnipeg, Manitoba have announced how they plan to spend money they have acquired through their criminal property forfeiture program. As reported by the CBC, the program allows cops to “seize and liquidate criminal assets,” and has raised $611,000 for the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).
“Criminal proceeds and assets” are people’s money and belongings. Cops steal and then use the money to buy themselves new surveillance technologies, and the cycle continues.
— Winnipeg Police Cause Harm (@WpgPoliceHarm) July 29, 2021
The WPS has announced that $257,000 will be spent on a “public-safety robot” – specifically a robot called “Spot” made by Boston Dynamics. The acquisition of this robot adds significant capability to the WPS arsenal, as their current robots do not have the capacity to operate on rough terrain or climb stairs. The robot will be able to take photos and carry items.
Cops spending even more money to ‘liaise with protestors’ and get a robot dog – if you wanna talk about whose profiting off of the defund movement its them leveraging calls for justice and real safety into a threatening rationale for more police spending.
— maybe: surviving (@acabforbooty) July 29, 2021
While these creepy cop toys are becoming more common in the US, this is the first instance we know of in Canada. In April 2021, the NYPD canceled their lease of the same model (“Spot”) after widespread public backlash.
The WPS is also spending over $36,000 on training developed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police aimed at helping cops to more easily identify and “communicate effectively” with the organizers of protests.
More resources for cops, their tools, and their training is always a bad thing. And the mainstream media which provides uncritical PR for new police initiatives plays an important role in protecting cops from possible criticism and backlash. For those looking to get involved in movements to abolish the police in Winnipeg, we suggest checking out the police abolitionist group Winnipeg Police Cause Harm.
Forest Defenders Persist in Fairy Creek
As of July 31, the ongoing Fairy Creek forest defense effort has seen 71 days of police enforcement and over 500 arrests. Forest defenders have held strong in the face of ongoing enforcement, maintaining multiple camps and finessing their direct action tactics. On a particularly exciting day this week, over 60 people participated in a successful coordinated effort to re-take Waterfall Camp.
On July 29, the Fairy Creek Blockade facebook page shared this update:
With the blockades we’re holding down on either side of the Fairy Creek watershed we are effectively delaying the clear-cutting of Ancient Forests in a few approved and undeffered cut-blocks. But we just don’t have the numbers to protect it all. Shortly after 10am this morning a massive old-growth tree, loaded on a logging truck passed the gate at HQ and made its way to Lake Cowichan and perhaps beyond. It’s a reminder of the ecocide that continues despite our efforts. And yesterday we learned that the BCNDP granted Teal Jones permits to cut two new massive cut blocks of valley bottom old-growth in Caycuse, another area that the public was tricked into thinking was subject to deferral. We need a new blockade out there, but we frankly don’t have the numbers to erect it. Gather a crew, bring them to camp, and as we hold down the fort over here we will train you on how to get a good blockade going. Together we can defend more forests.
News also emerged last week about the connections between far-Right harassment of the Fairy Creek blockade and an attack on a Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockade last winter. As an article posted on IGD pointed out:
This link underlines not only the overlap of Indigenous struggle, anti-colonialism, and ecological protection, but also the grim techniques of repression characterized by militarized police and auxiliary vigilantes.
It’s important to understand the full scale of repression that emerge from the conditions created by colonialism and white supremacy. Similar as well to the experiences of the Tiny House Warriors, the response from different actors: the state, industry, and fascist vigilantes, point to the complexity of the threats that need to be anticipated and fought against.
“At least one of the vehicles that has been harassing the Fairy Creek front gate has been confirmed to be the same vehicle that participated in an attack on a solidarity picket for the Wet’suwet’en…” Report from front lines of @SaveFairyCreek. https://t.co/fU1RB3noWG
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) July 23, 2021
Shout-out to those doing the work of monitoring these attacks and drawing those connections.