CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group

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Protest Gary McHale’s Anti-Native “Anti-Racism” rally in Caledonia, Sunday, March 21 at 1pm.

March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racism — a day that grew out of anti-colonial resistance to South African apartheid. Increasingly, it is also becoming a day which neo-nazi groups are trying to co-opt by claiming it as “World Wide White Pride Day” http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?p=1749334

Now Gary McHale, the noted anti-Native activist who has made a career for himself by stirring up tensions between people in Caledonia and Six Nations is getting in on the action. On March 21 he and his followers are organizing a so-called “Anti-Racist Rally” in Caledonia, claiming that white people in the town are the victims of ongoing “racism” at the hands of people from Six Nations and the provincial government. http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/join-merlyn-kinrades-anti-racism-rally-in-caledonia-on-march-2110/

McHale’s followers are planning to gather for a “rally” outside the Lion’s Hall in Caledonia and then according to one of the organizers, they are considering trying to march onto the Six Nations controlled former Douglas Creek Estates in order to have a “potluck” – a move calculated to raise tensions and produce further conflict in the area. http://caledoniawakeupcall.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/plenty-of-reasons-to-rally/

As far as we know, Gary McHale has no formal connection with neo-Nazis, but his constant attempts to portray white people as ever present victims of “land claim terrorism,” his painting of activists from Six Nations as ‘violence prone thugs’, and his misrepresentation of the colonial reality that indigenous people face every day in Canada, lays the groundwork for openly racist groups and individuals to spread a message of hatred and fear in white communities surrounding Six Nations. There is documented video evidence that prominent Canadian neo-Nazi Paul Fromm has attended McHale’s rallies in the past, as have members of the neo-nazi Northern Alliance group http://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/the-far-right/.

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group took the initiative to organize against McHale and his followers when he organized the “Caledonia Militia” group for the purpose of carrying out citizens’ arrests of Six Nations people defending their land rights last summer. https://3903fnswg.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/a-call-for-a-peaceful-protest-against-the-formation-of-an-anti-native-“militia”-in-caledonia/ Now that he is again organizing a public rally, we call on all anti-racist activists and supporters of indigenous struggles to stand in solidarity with Six Nations and show that Gary McHale does not speak for all non-natives, and that his political program and political activities are most certainly not “anti-racist”.

Please join us in gathering outside of the Caledonia Lions Hall at 100 Haddington St, Caledonia starting at 1pm.

The CUPE 3903 FNSWG.

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March 22, 2010 Posted by | far right, FNSWG Events, protests | 1 Comment

2009 Annual Report of the FNSWG

CUPE 3903 FNSWG Report for 2009

Introduction

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group was created at the local’s March 2007 AGM. The mandate of the working group is as follows:

1. To educate and organize the CUPE 3903 membership about issues relating to matters of indigenous sovereignty and solidarity and to encourage membership participation both within the working group and the local on this issue.
2. To work within and to help build rank and file networks of union activists working on issues of indigenous sovereignty and solidarity.
3. To co-ordinate efforts in support of indigenous sovereignty with other local, regional and national (union and non-union) projects in support of indigenous sovereignty and solidarity.
4. To actively participate in supporting indigenous struggles such as (but not limited to) the Six Nations struggle to reclaim the Haldimand Tract.

Since its existence, the FNSWG has been one of CUPE 3903’s most active working groups, and has been at the forefront of indigenous solidarity work in southern Ontario. As per its mandate, the main focus of the working group has been on educational activities, building connections with activists within other trade unions and indigenous solidarity groups, and well as working directly with indigenous activists. Although the working group is not exclusively focused on solidarity work with Six Nations, this has for the most part tended to be the indigenous community with which we most closely work. This is due to the following reasons: Six Nations is located less than a one hour drive from Toronto and is the largest indigenous community in Canada; while other solidarity groups in Toronto focus on supporting indigenous communities in Tyendinaga or Barriere Lake, there are no other groups explicitly focusing on Six Nations; Six Nations is also one of the most politically active indigenous communities in the area and there are a variety of grassroots indigenous organizations wanting to build relations with non-native activists. Our working group has been most closely working the Hoskanigetah (the Six Nation’s Men’s Fire) and Young Onkwehonwe United, a youth group on the territory.

The efforts of our working group in the past year can be categorized as follows.

1. Publicizing the day-to-day struggles taking place at Six Nations.

a. The http://www.6nsolidarity.wordpress.com website. The working group has developed the 6nsolidarity website, which serves as an information clearinghouse on Six Nations struggles. Although there are a number of popular websites on Six Nations land issues, the vast majority of these sites are non-native websites highly critical of indigenous land rights. The aim of our website is to provide a source for information coming directly out of Six Nations but also to give our analysis of the conflict and to counter a lot of the right-wing anti-native backlash that is being promoted by the mainstream media.

b. Hoskanigetah Speaking Tour. In the spring of 2009 we organized a major speaking tour of representatives from the Hoskanigetah (the Six Nations Men’s Fire). The speaking tour was aimed at raising awareness about a number of ongoing issues faced by the people of Six Nations including the criminalization of Six Nations land defenders in Brantford, the Brantford city injunction, the efforts of the people of Akwesasne to block the arming of Canadian border guards in their community, and the problems posed by the reopening of the Edwards landfill in Cayuga. The tour went to several different locations in Toronto, as well as Hamilton, Guelph, Ottawa, Montréal, Orangeville, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

c. Brantford TRUE. The working group has built a close relationship with a non-native solidarity organization in Brantford known as Two Row Understanding through Education (TRUE) which has organized over a dozen public talks in Brantford aimed at educating local non-natives about the real situation with the land claims in Brantford. TRUE events are usually attended by between 50 and 100 people, and FNSWG members have attended many of these meetings and been featured as speakers on TRUE panels.

2. Support around specific issues

a. Anti Militia Rally. In June of 2009, some alarming news came out of Caledonia, Ontario, which has been a major flash point between Six Nations and local non-natives since the 2006 reclamation of the Douglas Creek Estates. A grouping of right wing anti-native activists announced that they were holding a public meeting to form a “militia” to carry out “citizen’s arrests” of native people who were “obstructing” property developments on contested lands. On very short notice, the working group sprang into action and organized a major protest of over 200 people opposed to this militia. The efforts of the working group received large amounts of coverage in the press, and we held a very successful event which received a lot of support from both local residents and people from Six Nations. As a result of the protest, and the supportive media coverage, the Caledonia “militia” was discredited. They changed their name to the “Caledonia Peacekeepers” before lapsing into inactivity. The protests saw members of the working group organize with other non-native activists in a variety of different cities.

b. Cayuga Dump. Non-native residents near the town of Cayuga and people from the nearby Six Nations community have long resisted the reopening of the Edwards landfill — a toxic waste dump that contains large amounts of improperly disposed of waste from a nearby resin plant. The working group has produced video reports on the dump and has also worked closely with Six Nations activists from the Hoskanigetah to publicize the issue. The working group has also built relationships with members of the group Haldimand Against land Transfers (HALT) the non-native group that has been spearheading legal resistance to the reopening of the landfill site. As it became more evident that the dump was going to be reopened, working group members participated in the creation of a rapid response network that could bring solidarity activists together with people from Six Nations to non-violently block access to the dump. These actions have so far proved successful, and the dump has yet to be reopened.

c. Brantford Rally for Six Nations Land Rights. The working group played a central role in the launching of the Six Nations Solidarity Network – an organization made up of a number of community groups and trade unions (including several CAW locals, CUPE locals 3903, 3906 and 3902 and members of USW 1005). One of the first initiatives of this network was to organize a public rally in support of Six Nations land rights on November 7, 2009. The rally consisted of a series of presentations from union activists and people from Six Nations about what the issues at stake in Brantford and why they supported Six Nations land rights. The rally attracted about 300 people, garnered significant local press coverage, and strengthened the ties being made between unions, community groups, and the people of Six Nations. The event culminated in a potluck that was attended by over 100 people. Video footage of the event is available on the Six Nations Solidarity Website at http://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/multimedia/

d. Media Centre. One area of specific support that members of the Hoskanigetah requested has been assistance in setting up an Independent Media Center with computers, an Internet connection, video equipment, etc. that could use to report on their own struggles and better disseminate news and information about their community. The Media Center is envisioned as a place for activists from Six Nations to learn how to build and develop websites, edit video, and design posters and leaflets for their events. The Media Center is housed in one of the community’s central gathering places, the Six Nations council house, which is operated by the Hoskanigetah. The working group has put out a call for donations of computer and video equipment, and is also organizing workshops and training sessions for Six Nations activists. So far this work has been organized on a shoestring budget, with donated equipment and 100% volunteer labor. In the future it is expected that we will require funds to buy needed equipment that we have not been able to receive as a donation, and also to cover costs that some of the technical trainings.

3. Financial support for other indigenous struggles

a. Requests for financial support. The working group regularly receives requests for funding support from other groups and individuals doing important work in support of indigenous self-determination. In 2009 the working group made contributions to a variety of initiatives, including the before mentioned TRUE group in Brantford; the “No More Silence” group draws attention to missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada; the protest Barrick Gold group which is opposing the dispossession of indigenous people on a global level by multinational resource extraction companies — many of whom are based in Canada; the indigenous community of Grassy Narrows, Women’s Coordinating Committee Chile-Canada who have been focused on linking the struggles of the indigenous Mapuche people in Chile along with doing solidarity work with people in Six Nations; the Hamilton-based Practical Solidarity group which has been working in solidarity with Six Nations; as well as support for a public event hosted by Upping the Anti on the Alberta Tar sands which featured indigenous activists.

Proposed Future Work in 2010.

a. Educational Speaking Tour. The need for education is a continuous one, and the working group would like to follow up on its past successes by organizing a speaking tour with Six Nations activists and members of the working group which could go to various unions and community groups to provide them with information about the history of colonialism in this part of Canada and how union struggles connect to indigenous rights. The idea with this speaking tour is that it would be geared particularly towards union locals and be aimed at increasing union participation for Six Nations struggles for self-determination. A number of different CUPE and CAW locals have expressed interest in hosting events with this tour.

b. Door to Door in Brantford. Because the city of Brantford is so intent on promoting development on numerous sites of unresolved land claims within the Brantford city limits, Brantford is currently “Ground Zero” in the struggle for Six Nations land rights. Importantly, there has been a significant amount of non-native support by local residents for the actions of Six Nations in opposition to local development, as much of these developments are being planned on ecologically sensitive land along the city’s waterfront. This land is currently parkland and many residents want to keep the land as it is. One of the main initiatives that our working group seeks to take in conjunction with the Six Nations Solidarity Network is to organize door-to-door canvassing at a number of locations in Brantford which are close to major land claim struggles and to assess the possibilities for building solidarity across native and non-native communities.

c. Visits to Six Nations. One of the things that has made our working group so effective has been our consistent commitment to making regular visits to Six Nations. We have developed many close relationships with people there, and these visits have been made possible by the fact that the working group has paid for the transportation costs of such visits. On average, members of the working group go to Six Nations a couple times a month.

d. Facilitation and training. The working group is becoming an excellent place for union activists to develop skills and inform themselves about the politics of indigenous solidarity. One area that we would really like to concentrate on in the future is the further development of the skills by organizing “train the trainers” style workshops for working group members to help develop skills in meeting facilitation, anti-oppression awareness, and practical skills such as video filming and editing, public speaking, and press release writing.

In conclusion, we feel that the CUPE 3903 FNSWG is at an important crossroads. With more three years of experience in doing consistent solidarity work with the people of Six Nations, we are at the forefront of some of the most innovative and consistent union/indigenous solidarity building work in Canada. Not only do we have a proven track record of being able to organize hundreds of people in major protests, but we have been working behind the scenes in much less glamorous ways to do the nitty-gritty solidarity of educating rank-and-file members about indigenous land rights while also building personal and political ties with indigenous activists at Six Nations.

We encourage all members of CUPE 3903 to get involved with our working group and to become a part of this important work.

In solidarity and struggle,

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group
3903fnswg@gmail.com

March 4, 2010 Posted by | reports | Leave a comment