Outside Makeshift Prison:”For Us Native People this is What We Know, this is Canada”
By Megan Kinch. This appeared on the site of the Toronto Media Co-Op, a project of the Dominion News Cooperative.
Jail solidarity has been going on all day despite vicious repression. After the first wave was violently dispersed, a second wave arrived at about 11 AM. 20 to 30 people stood outside the prison, chanting “sol sol sol, solidarity” as riot cops assembled across the street. In the crowd was a Native woman named Ray she asked me if I knew anyone inside. I told her that several friends were there, and included Journalist Ben Powless from 6 Nations, who had been arrested in the mass arrests at the Novotel. She pointed at the assembled riot police and told me:
“This reminds me of a Reservation.” Ray said “this cement and wire cage there it represents the invisible cage that are Reserves. These cops give protection to the government not to the people. If thier is any indigenous person thats on a reserve, if any speaks up they kill them just like Dudely George. Any reserve is a prison. Indian affairs have made us prisoners in our own country.”
“This is real life, this is the real Canada. This happens happesn everyday but now you can see it. this is g20 freedom of speech. For us, Native people this is what we know. This is Canada.
Whatever they do to native people they will eventually do to everybody else in this country. Canada, the US, any citizen in the world you are under siege from the new world order in action right here.”
“We were put down, killed, genocide from day one when they made Canada. Before that, in 1820, and when they first came here with blankets and diseases. Residential schools killed our children, thousands dead, I’m a product of residental schools myself. They will kill you for no reason- that what they’ve done to our people espeically our women. The government killed of thousands and thousands of our people and buried them with no graves.
And first they did it to their own people, to the Celtics and the Druids, the medicine woman they killed. And they have the gall to say to the Natives that they will give us medicine, that the Indian act will protect you…”
About a dozen prisoners were released one by one at odd times from about 3 PM. The crowd, by this time about 50 people, cheered as they walked across the street, many in socks since their shoes have been confiscated. Someone made a large box of sandwiches and people lent their phones to the newly released prisoners. They told press that they had been held without phone calls, and not been given water for the first five hours.
Spirits lifted when critical mass arrived, with hundreds of people on bikes, most raising their hands with a peace sign. Everyone chanted “Peaceful Protest!” and “Let them go!” loudly, which must have been heard by the approximately 562 people inside(CBC). Everyone demonstrated at the intersection of Pape and Eastern. After a minutes though, riot cops assembled and everyone sat down, still chanting “Peaceful protest” and “The People united will never be defeated!”. After about half an hour the riot police began to box in the protesters, but most people escaped through alleyways. Critical Mass rode away down Queen Street on their bikes, flying their flags proudly.
Rae spoke about how we need to stand together: “How ironic that this day June 2010 it’s happening to you, now as non-native people. We’ve got to stand up for each other. Because whatever they do to Native people they will eventually do to everybody.”