CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group

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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

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

FNSWG 2008 Report

Report of the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group to the 2009 AGM

by Tom Keefer and Tyler McCreary (Working Group Co-ordinators)

The First Nations Solidarity Working Group was created as a CUPE 3903 working group at our 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 solidarity 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.

In the second year of the working group’s existence, we have continued to be quite active, primarily in supporting the struggle at Six Nations and in working closely with the Haudenesaunee Men’s Fire at Six Nations. Unfortunately, working group activity largely ceased during the strike and resulted in us losing some momentum, but things are now picking up again with a variety of new initiatives on the horizon. There are currently 30 formal members of the working group and about a dozen active members. The working group plans to meet monthly, so if you would like to get involved, please e-mail tomkeefer@gmail.com to get added to our mailing list.

Working Group Activities

Although the land claim struggle and Six Nations has generally moved to Brantford as conflict over development has intensified there, California remains an important flashpoint. Following OPP aggression against the Mohawks of Tyendinaga in April of 2008, people from Six Nations blockaded the Highway 6 bypass near Caledonia. Members of the working group were present on the barricades, produced a short five minute video update of the action that was distributed online, and also contributed several hundred dollars in food and supplies for the action. See http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3174571808308323266 for the video.

On May 10, the working group organized an event entitled “Building Solidarity Across Struggles: A Conference on Supporting the Struggles of the People of Six Nations.” The half day conference was held in conjunction with the Black Action Defense Committee and the Anarchist Black Cross Federation – Toronto Chapter. The event included film screenings of several short films on the Six Nations reclamation, a panel of Six Nations community members (Wes Elliott, Ruby Monture, Melissa Elliott, Doreen Silversmith) who provided context and background information about the struggle of Six Nations, a panel discussing the role of non-natives support for Six Nations including Chris Harris from the Black Action Defense Committee, Joanne Webb of the CUPE National Aboriginal Council, and Tom Keefer from the CUPE 3903. The final panel focused on issues of incarceration and resistance and included a statement from former Black Panther party member and political prisoner Robert Seth Hayes on the Six Nations struggle, as well as panelists Skyler Williams (a former Six Nations political prisoner), Sarah Dover (a lawyer for Six Nations activists) and Sara Falconer (of the Anarchist Black Cross). The venue was filled to capacity and was successful in providing a space for members of the local and interested community activists to find out more about the struggle of Six Nations and the opportunities for being involved in solidarity work.

One of the most significant areas of working group activity in 2008 was focused upon organizing the August 2008 Peace and Friendship gathering at Six Nations in coordination with the Haudenesaunee Men’s Fire. The working group was an absolutely central part of organizing this event, and members attended ongoing meetings at the Onondaga language center in Six Nations from April until August. One of the most central contributions of the working group was in raising almost $5000 from local trade unions to support the gathering. Contributions were received from locals including: CAW 27, CAW 2458, OPSEU 349, CUPE 3908, CUPE 3902, CUPE 4156, CEP 975, CEP 34, CUPE 4400, CUPE 4207, USW 1998, CUPE 3261, CUPE 2331, and CUPE 2316. Getting this kind of support from local unions was an important way of connecting union struggles to indigenous struggles, and it helped us build the beginnings of a relationship with other locals around supporting indigenous struggles. One major challenge for the working group will be to follow up on these links and to try and bring out actual participation as well as financial support from these locals. The Peace and Friendship gathering itself was a great success, as over 600 people came to a weekend of discussions and workshops on a wide variety of issues relating to indigenous struggles and solidarity building. Organizing for the festival in the four months leading up to it provided an ongoing way for the working group to build relationships with activists in Six Nations and also to connect with other local community organizations.

The other major area of work that the working group has been involved in has been in supporting and working with a group of non-natives solidarity activists in Brantford (Brantford is a town of hundred thousand people adjacent to the Six Nations reserve). The Brantford group, known as the Two Row Understanding through Education (TRUE) has organized regular meetings on a wide Friday of educational events in Brantford that are geared to educating the local non-native population about the real issues behind the lamp. These events have included talks about the local residential school, environmental issues, the history of land claims in Brantford area, and media representations of the conflict. Working group members have been involved in organizational and planning meetings of TRUE and have also attended and spoken at TRUE public events.

In the spring of 2008, the working group applied for and received a $3000 grant from the anarchist Freedonia foundation to support antiracist organizing and non-native communities surrounding Six Nations. So far, $1000 of that grant has been disbursed to TRUE to help cover the cost of their public events while the other $2000 will be spent in 2009. To date, TRUE has held over a dozen events, with the average attendance at meetings being between 100 and 200 people.

Although activities of the working group slowed down during the strike, we were able to invite members from the native youth movement at Six Nations to speak on the picket lines on November 12. These NYM members walked to each picket line and after speaking with strikers gave out warrior and Haudenesaunee Confederacy flags to fly on the lines in solidarity with our struggle. The video of their talk on the Sentinel picketline is available at http://cupestrikevideo.wordpress.com/?s=six+nations

Other activities of the working group involved cosponsoring and organizing the visit of a Solidarity delegation from Venezuela to Six Nations. We also sent a working group member to a weeklong visit in support of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation through a solidarity delegation organized by the Christian Peacemaker Teams. We attended and helped to publicize the “Mother Earth Protectors” sovereignty camp out at Queen’s Park in may of 2008 and also attended the Six Nations Youth Gathering in July of 2008.
We have also continued to work closely with the York Aboriginal Student Association, via their President, Melissa Eliott from Six Nations.

Looking forward to the future:

One recent initiatives of the working group has been to work closely with a variety of different groups in half a dozen cities in southern Ontario to organize a speaking tour of Haudenesaunee Men’s Fire activists to speak about their ongoing efforts to block development in the Brantford area. So far, we have commitments from activists in Brantford, Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Kitchener Waterloo, London and Six Nations, to organize a seven city speaking tour in May of 2008. The tour will feature local community activists and Men’s Fire members speaking together on the political issues they face in their struggles.
Another initiative that we are working on is to organize a panel on indigenous Solidarity at this years left forum in New York City which will feature activists from Six Nations.

We are also working with activists from TRUE to build a website/blog to cover news coming out of Six Nations in regards to the ongoing land claim struggles in Brantford as a way to get around the mainstream media’s failure to cover the details of this important struggle. To date, Six Nations community members have stopped over $2 billion worth of development, Haldimand Tract and the struggle is only likely to intensify over the coming months and years.

How to get involved:

The working group will be moving to a schedule of having regular monthly meetings. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday March 17 at the Black Horse (928 Bloor St. Across from the Concorde Café). Please come to the meeting if you’re interested in getting involved with the working group. Or contact us at 3903fnswg@gmail.com . We are also developing the beginnings of a website for the working group at https://3903fnswg.wordpress.com/

November 15, 2009 Posted by | FNSWG Events, reports | Leave a comment

Fall 2009 – Indigenous Law and Marxism Reading Group

Reading Group: Indigenous Law & Marxism
Sept. 10 – Dec. 10, 2009
Thursday, 7-9pm
Location: OISE, University of Toronto, Room 2-227
Contact: marxismandindigenouslaw@gmail.com

The intersections of Marxism and Indigenous Law raise significant
questions around the political-economic aspects of contemporary
Indigenous and non-Indigenous struggles. Based on a successful summer
reading group that began to examine the significant tensions and/or
linkages between Marxist and Indigenous theorists, we have put
together a more intensified reading course for the fall. If you are
interested in taking part, please send us an email at:
marxismandindigenouslaw@gmail.com. The reading group is open to all
who are committed to doing the readings, and to engaging in on-going
discussion.

Please see attached list of readings below.

September 10

Wood, E.M. (2002). The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View. New ed.
London: Verso.

September 17

Rosenberg, J. (1994). The Empire of Civil Society: A Critique of the
Realist Theory of International Relations. London: Verso.

September 24

Stewart-Harawira, M. (2005). The New Imperial Order: Indigenous
Responses to Globalization. London: Zed Books.

October 1

Luxemburg, R. (2003). The Accumulation of Capital. London: Routledge,
p. 307-447.

October 8

Smith, N. (1991). Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the
Production of Space. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, p. 132-211.

October 15

Hall, T. (2003). The American Empire and the Fourth World. Montreal:
McGill-Queen’s University Press, p. 295-426.

October 22

(1998). The Annotated Indian Act and Aboriginal Constitutional
Provisions. Ed. Shin Imai. Scarborough, Ont: Carswell.

October 29

Neu, H, Neu, D. & Therrien, R. (2003). Accounting for Genocide:
Canada’s Bureaucratic Assault on Aboriginal People. Black Point, N.S:
Fernwood; London: Zed.

November 5
(1997). Supreme Court of Canada: Delgamuukw v. British Columbia.
Available online at http://sisis.nativeweb.org/clark/gitksan.html

November 12

Cairns, A. (2000). Citizens plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian
State. Vancouver, Canada: UBC Press.

November 19

(1997). Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Ottawa, Ont: Libraxus
Inc, Available online at http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ap/rrc-eng.asp

November 26

Widdowson, F. (2006). The Political Economy of Aboriginal Dependency:
A Critique of the Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Available online
at http://theta.library.yorku.ca/uhtbin/cgisirsi/P5YQmqG7X2/YORK/128210013/9
, part 1 & part 3.

December 3

Bedford, D. (2001). The Tragedy of Progress: Marxism, Modernity and
the Aboriginal Question. Halifax: Fernwood Pub.

Churchill, W. (1996). From a Native Son: Selected Essays in
Indigenism, 1985-1995. Boston: South End Press, p. 461-482.

December 10

Alfred, G.R. (1990). Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous
Manifesto. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | FNSWG Events | Leave a comment

Callout for June 13, 2009 delegated meeting in support of Six Nations

Invitation to a delegated meeting to discuss building solidarity with
Six Nations — hosted by the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working
Group (FNSWG) and the Hosgenegehta (Haudenosaunee Men’s Fire)

Dear Friends,

We would like to invite your organization to send two delegates to take
part in a special meeting that that the CUPE 3903 First Nations
Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG) is organizing in conjunction with the
Hosgenegehta (Haudenosaunee Men’s Fire). The aim of the meeting is to
introduce the Hosgenegehta — who have been leading Six Nations
resistance to development on traditional lands — to activist groups in
Toronto and to facilitate the sharing of information and support between
our different struggles for social justice and liberation.

As many of you might know, the CUPE 3903 FNSWG and the Hosgenegehta have
been organizing a seven city speaking tour with representatives from the
Hosgenegehta over the past month. One thing that is becoming
increasingly clear to us is the disconnect between activists in our city
and the very important and ongoing indigenous struggle that is happening
on the largest (by population) reserve in Canada — one that is less
than an hour’s drive away from Toronto.

Although people were familiar with the Caledonia reclamation, and many
Toronto activists went down to support it, there has been virtually no
support for activists at Six Nations since the reclamation transitioned
into a different and more protracted form of struggle. Over 30 people
from Six Nations have been arrested since then, and they have stopped
more than $2 billion worth of construction and development efforts.
Currently, the Canadian state’s strategy of criminalization of dissent
has reached a new level as key leaders within the community are facing
jail time for their refusal to abide by a variety of different
injunctions which seek to halt indigenous protest at construction sites
in the Brantford area.

Another frustration shared by both the CUPE 3903 FNSWG and the
Hosgenegehta is that while individual high profile events receive a
large scale turnout very little work is being done in concrete,
coordinated and ongoing ways to build the kinds of long-term
relationships that are necessary between indigenous struggles and other
anti-capitalist, environmental, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist
struggles.

Consequently, as part of a speaking tour, we are organizing a one-day
event on Saturday, June 13, beginning at 4 p.m. that will have half a
dozen representatives from the men’s fire present to talk about the
current situation in Six Nations and what it is they need from various
groups that wish to support them. Instead of organizing this as a public
meeting we want to hold this as a closed “delegates only” meeting and
would like to request that your group send two delegates to the meeting.
This way, the delegates can report back to their organization and
hopefully ensure that solidarity with Six Nations is done in a more
ongoing and consistent fashion.

Following the completion of the tour we will be having a meeting at Six
Nations hosted by the Hosgenegehta, to which delegates from all the
different organizations that were involved in the tour will be invited
to talk further about building an ongoing support network around Six
Nations struggles. The various groups that attend the June 13th meeting
in Toronto will be invited to send delegates to the meeting in Six Nations.

Please let us know if you are interested in attending the meeting on
June 13th, and if you can think of some other groups that should also be
there. Please email 3903fnswg@gmail.com to confirm your attendance at
the meeting or call Tom at 416-526-4255.

In solidarity and struggle,

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group

July 21, 2009 Posted by | FNSWG Events, six nations | Leave a comment

Map to the Cayuga Lion’s Hall

June 22, 2009 Posted by | protests | Leave a comment

Bus locations for peaceful protest against racist anti-native militia (update KW info)

Buses will be leaving from Hamilton, Toronto and Guelph and Kitchener/Waterloo.

KITCHENER/WATERLOO: Kitchener City Hall, 3 PM

GUELPH: corner of Norfolk and Paisley 4:00 PM

TORONTO: north-east area of Dufferin Mall parking lot (Dufferin, south of Bloor) 4:30 PM sharp departure time

HAMILTON Bus departing from CUPE 3906 office, McMaster 5pm. (office is in Wentworth House, 1280 Main St. W) Email to reserve spot on bus. Hamilton contact: hamilton.6n.solidarity@gmail.com.

There are carpools being planned from Peterborough.  If you are planning on attending this protest, or would like to arrange a carpool or have any other questions, please email <3903fnswg@gmail.com> so we can plan and co-ordinate buses.

Please bring food and water for yourself. There is a suggested donation of 10$, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A call for a peaceful protest against the formation of an anti-native “militia” in Caledonia

A call for a peaceful protest against the formation of an anti-native
“militia” in Caledonia – Tuesday, June 23rd at 6pm Outside the Lion’s
Club in Cayuga, Ontario.

Dear Friends,

As you may have heard in the mainstream media already, things are
escalating again in Caledonia. Doug Fleming (an associate of
anti-native sovereignty activist Gary McHale) has announced that he is
now forming a “militia” to directly confront “native lawlessness” in
Caledonia. According to Fleming, the militia would patrol areas in
Caledonia by car and by foot wearing uniforms and communicating with
radio equipment. If alerted to an instance of “native lawlessness” the
militia would then use “reasonable force” to effect a citizen’s arrest
and would hold the native person until such time as the OPP arrived to
take the “prisoner” to jail.

Needless to say, this represents a major escalation in regard to the
conflict at Six Nations. In addition to the OPP having already laid
over 120 charges against Six Nations activists, the formation of this
militia — with a primary target of removing “illegal” native “smoke
shacks” near Caledonia — points directly to the increasing of the
possibility of violent conflict between natives and non-natives.
Fleming has called for a public meeting for founding of the militia to
happen on June 23, at 7 p.m., at the Lion’s Hall in Cayuga. The
announcement of the formation of the militia has received widespread
publicity in the mainstream media. (Links to the coverage can be found
below).

Although Gary McHale and his supporters have avoided making public
racist comments towards natives, there is no doubt that the formation
of the militia will draw explicitly racist individuals who have long
wanted to physically confront native protesters into activity.
Neo-Nazi groups have long participated in McHale’s various protests
since at least the fall of 2006, and there is every likelihood that
they will be drawn to this meeting if they are not already involved in
organizing it.

Put simply, this meeting cannot be allowed to happen unopposed. As
non-natives who have long supported indigenous struggles in general
and the Six Nations struggle in particular, we are issuing a call for
all who are opposed to escalation and violence inherent in Flemming’s
call for a “Caledonia Militia” to peacefully protest the holding of
this meeting.

Transportation to the protest will be organized by activists in
Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. Please contact
3903fnswg@gmail.com for more information, to endorse the protest, or
to reserve a space on the buses. Buses will be leaving from Toronto at
4:30pm sharp (from the north-east corner of the Dufferin Mall parking lot) and should return by 10pm that night at the latest. You
must contact us over email to reserve a space on the bus. Please
reserve a spot immediately so we can get a sense of how many people
require transport. There is a suggested donation to help cover the
cost of transport is $10 although no-one will be turned away for lack
of funds.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group.

****

Sources on the formation of the “Caledonia militia”

http://www.marchforfreedom.com/smf/index.php?topic=466.0 This is a discussion board run by Gary McHale where the event was first announced.

http://www.westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2009/06/caledonia-militia-looking-for-a-few-good-men.html This right-wing magazine ran a story on the issue. The comments section is quite informative.

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com This is the website of Mark Vandermas an associate of McHale’s.

http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/652121 This is a Toronto Star article on the issue. If you look at the comments, you’ll see that almost 90 of the 100 are strongly in support of the forming of the militia.

http://caledoniawakeupcall.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/caledonia-militia-draws-criticism-from-cowards/ This is another blog by the McHale supporter in Caledonia.

http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=604501 This is the world’s most popular English-language neo-Nazi website. Here is a discussion thread that is discussing McHale’s various activities and protests in Caledonia and provides some information about neo-Nazi participation in them.

http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/election/ElectionResults.pdf And in case you thought that McHale was simply an irrelevant right-wing agitator, here is a link to the federal election results from last year when he ran as an independent candidate in Haldimand Norfolk. As the results indicate, he polled 10% of the riding’s votes, nearly getting 5000 votes (neck and neck with the NDP, and double the Green party votes). He won most of the polls in the non-native communities near to Six Nations, indicating that he has a significant base of anti-native support there.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | far right, protests, six nations | 2 Comments

2007 FNSWG Annual Report

Introduction

The First Nations Solidarity Working Group is a new working group that was struck at last year’s AGM. The working group has four primary aims which are 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 solidarity 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 land reclamation.

The first year of the working group’s existence has been one of slowly but steadily laying the groundwork for doing this kind of work in a sustained fashion. There are over a dozen members of the working group, and the working group has been quite active to date.

Working Group Activities

In March of 2007 members of the working group worked with the Caledonia-based Community Friends organization to hold an educational and organizational meeting where trade union activists could learn about the struggle at Six Nations and figure out what concrete steps they could take in support of the people of Six Nations. Over 50 people representing a dozen different unions attended the meeting in Hamilton.

The working group co-sponsored and helped to organize the event “Hip-Hop for Six Nations” held in June of 2007 in conjunction with Toronto’s Black Action Defense Committee and the family of Chris Hill, the Six Nations political prisoner. This work was particularly useful in building links between the Black community in Toronto, trade union activists in 3903, and the people of Six Nations. The working group paid for organizers from BADC to drive down to make links with youth at Six Nations; helped to organize a meeting at the BADC offices where friends and family of Chris Hill spoke about the reclamation and the situation of political prisoners; and paid for the bus which took CUPE 3903 members, Black youth organized by BADC, and other Toronto area activists to the hip-hop show held at Chiefswood Park in Six Nations.

In June of 2007 the working group financially and politically supported the holding of a community potluck organized by the Community Friends group in Caledonia which brought together people from Six Nations and Caledonia area residents to build links of solidarity and mutual understanding.

Members of the working group participated in the June 29 AFN Aboriginal Day of Action by marching in rallies in Toronto and also by going to support the protests in Tyendenega Mohawk territory.

Members of the working group organized carpooling to attend the Six Nations of the Grand River powwow in July of 2007.

Members of the working group traveled to Caledonia during the Sterling St. standoff in October of 2007.

The working group endorsed and financially supported the Native Youth Movement Anti-2010 Olympics tour in February of 2008.

In January of 2008, tensions between natives and non-natives in the Caledonia-Brantford area again began to increase as news spread of a planned neo-Nazi weekend retreat that was being held on a Brantford area farm. Increased sightings of neo-Nazis in the area were reported including well-known Canadian neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Paul Fromm. In this context a group of Brantford area non-native supporters and trade union activists held an organizing meeting in Brantford which eight members of our working group attended in January of 2008.

The meeting of some 30 people decided to organize a public educational forum in Brantford on March 6 to take some proactive steps in educating non-native residents in the area about the history of Six Nations and their land rights. Given that over one half of ongoing Six Nations land claims are within the Brantford area, Branford is a likely flashpoint for further protests and land reclamations. The working group has endorsed the March 6 public meeting and has made a donation of funds to help pay for the meeting hall for the event.

Conclusion:

Over the course of the past year, the working group has served as a space to facilitate CUPE 3903 members making regular visits to Six Nations to support the reclamation site when anti-native protests have taken place, and has also assisted in the developing of more mundane and low-key links of solidarity and support. Members of the working group are building ongoing networks and relationships with people at Six Nations and it is our hope that this will continue into 2008. Some work is also taking place within the working group to develop an educational documentary film about the struggle at Six Nations that can be widely distributed amongst union activists and the general public.

Most recently, the working group has been building links with members of the York Aboriginal Student Association and is looking forward to holding a series of public educational events for the purposes of better in forming our union’s membership about ongoing indigenous struggles. We also have a lot of work to do in continuing to build links with other trade union activists active in supporting indigenous struggles. In particular, the Hamilton area Steelworkers of Local 1005 and the CUPE National Aboriginal Council, are two union groups with which we hope to build ongoing working relationships.

And of course, another area that we need to improve in is in reaching out more effectively to the CUPE 3903 membership and involving you all in our work. If you’re interested in getting involved with the working group or would like more information about our activities, please contact 3903fnswg@gmail.com for details.

In solidarity and struggle,

The CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group.

June 5, 2008 Posted by | admin, reports | Leave a comment

Why Canadians Should Support Six Nations Land Rights

This is the text of a leaflet that was developed by the Community Friends group in Caledonia Ontario and distributed with the support of members of CUPE 3903

1. Because their claim is just and right. Canada has a long and shameful history of mistreating First Nations peoples. Canada has broken treaty after treaty and has refused to fulfill its obligations to First Nation peoples, the Six Nations people included. Despite the fact that the Six Nations people have always been (and remain to this day) a national Confederation with whom the British crown entered into nation to nation agreements, the Canadian government imposed its own “Indian Act” by force upon them and encouraged the illegal sale and theft of land and revenue belonging to Six Nations. Respect for First Nations land and treaty rights and respect for indigenous sovereignty is a matter of upholding human rights, international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Colonization and appropriation of other peoples resources is morally wrong and must be opposed, even if we or some of our ancestors have benefited from it.

2. Because the fault in this conflict lies with the federal Canadian government, not the people of Six Nations or Caledonia. The government knew that the Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) lands were contested when it allowed them to be sold. If the government had developed a comprehensive land claims settlement process and had negotiated in good faith with Six Nations from the start, this problem would never have taken the form it has. People from Six Nations occupied the Douglas Creek Estates to stop a housing development from being built on contested land. Now that the situation has been escalated, non-natives on and off the Haldimand tract can best resolve this issue by pressuring the Canadian government to establish a fair and comprehensive settlement of all outstanding land claims with Six Nations.

3. Because this situation will not be resolved by violence and conflict. The time when the Canadian government or non-native vigilantes could drive first Nations Peoples off their land has passed. Any attempt to use force to resolve the reclamation of Douglas Creek Estates will only make matters far worse and will likely end in bloodshed and serious injury on both sides. As events at Ipperwash and Oka proved, native land rights are political issues that must be solved through dialogue and negotiation. These are political and not “law and order” issues, and the use of force or threat of violence will not resolve them. Might does not make right, and attempts to raise the level of tension through the Friday night rallies in the Canadian Tire parking lot or through proposed events like the October 15 march against the reclamation site will only make the situation worse and increase the likelihood of people being injured or even killed.

4. Because the environment and our quality of life is improved by recognizing first Nations land rights. The conflict over the Douglas Creek Estates and the future conflicts brewing over the Haldimand tract stem from the greed of real estate developers who are turning farmlands, animal habitat and countryside into suburban sprawl in order to enrich themselves. This way of life is not sustainable in the long-term and although it makes profits for the bankers, realtors and lawyers it does not benefit rural life or the average people in small towns like Caledonia. As suburban sprawl spreads small businesses are pushed out by the major chains and big box stores, farmers are pushed off the land and our natural environment is degraded. First Nations peoples have a long history of protecting the environment and of respecting nature. A recognition of their rights will ensure that the lands on and around the Haldimand tract are not ecologically devastated by further suburban sprawl or clogged up by excessive road traffic and smog.

5. Because it is the only way that Caledonia as a community can heal itself and move forward. The people of Six Nations and of Caledonia live closely connected lives, sharing schools, workplaces, friendships and families. The tensions caused by this conflict need to be resolved. The people of Six Nations have made clear over and over again that they are not calling for the removal of non-natives from their lands. No non-natives living in Caledonia are at risk of eviction. What Six Nations wants is the compensation they are owed and recognition of their land and treaty rights. It is possible for natives and non-natives to live together in peace and harmony, but in order to have peace there must be justice.

Community Friends for Peace and Understanding with Six Nations

June 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Proposal for a CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group

This is the text of the motion that was passed at the 2007 CUPE 3903 AGM to create the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group.

Proposal for a CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group

Preamble: Indigenous struggles in Southern Ontario have reached a new level of intensity over the past year, primarily as a result of the year-long reclamation of land near Caledonia by the Six Nations of the Grand River. Over the course of this struggle CUPE 3903, through both officially constituted bodies (such as the GMM, the Flying Squad and the International Solidarity Working Group) and through the actions of its individual members, has expressed its solidarity with the people of Six Nations in a wide number of ways.

The local as a whole has made several significant financial contributions to the reclamation site, the International Solidarity Working Group has attended local solidarity organizing meetings in Toronto, and the Flying Squad has brought members down to the reclamation site during particular moments of tension when supporters were most needed. At the same time, individual CUPE 3903 members working both on their own initiative and through these working groups have been involved in supporting Six Nations in a wide varieties of ways (doing grassroots media work, organizing solidarity demos in Toronto, keeping tabs on right wing anti-native protestors, attending and organizing public information meetings and fundraisers throughout the area, and working through a Caledonia based solidarity committee – Community Friends for Peace and Understanding with Six Nations).

As the Six Nations struggle has intensified over the past year, one of the most interesting and important aspects of the solidarity organizing that has taken place has been the role that organized labour has played in building support for this struggle. Almost every major trade union organization (from the CAW to the Steelworkers, to OPSEU, CUPE and the CLC) wrote letters of support and made financial contributions to the reclamation site. At the same time, because of the fact that cities surrounding the Haldimand tract have one of the highest trade union densities in North America, much of the grassroots support and activism by settlers in support of indigenous struggle has come from rank and file union members. This has certainly been the case with the Caledonia Community Friends group, whose core activist membership is made up of rank and file members of CAW 505, CAW 707, USWA 1005, CUPE 3906, CUPE 3903, CUPE 4200, and several other SEIU and CUPE locals.

Work to consolidate and build an increased network of grassroots union activists that can both push the trade union bureaucracy to give more meaningful support to indigenous struggles within against the Canadian state and build a rank and file network of union support for indigenous sovereignty is an important area of work that CUPE 3903 with its history of support to Six Nations and other indigenous struggles is uniquely able to contribute towards.

Therefore, the following motion is being brought forwards to the March 5th, 2007 CUPE 3903 AGM.

BIRT CUPE 3903 create an First Nations Solidarity Working Group whose mandate shall be 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 caucus and the local in general on this issue.
  2. To work within and to help build rank and file networks of union activists working on issues of indigenous solidarity 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 land reclamation.

BIFRT an annual budget of $5000 be allocated to the First Nations Solidarity Working Group to carry out its work.

BIFRT the organizational structure of the First Nations Solidarity Working Group shall be as follows:

Every six months the First Nations Solidarity Working Group shall elect 2 co-ordinators to make sure that meetings happen regularly and to serve as contact people for the executive and the rest of the local, as well as taking on such administrative tasks as keeping an email and phone list, and keeping track of financial expenses.

The First Nations Solidarity Working Group itself shall meet regularly and shall work by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached on particular issues decisions shall be resolved by majority vote.

The First Nations Solidarity Working Group shall develop such other organizational structures as it deems necessary.

The First Nations Solidarity Working Group shall regularly report its activities to the CUPE 3903 GMM.

June 5, 2008 Posted by | admin | | Leave a comment