Land Defenders Travelled 1000s of Kilometers from across Turtle Island
On October 13 and 14, 2023 GJEP joined Indigenous land defenders that came to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to build their shared resistance to Canadian company TC Energy’s colonial pipeline projects on their territories.
Wet’suwet’en leaders traveled 4000 kilometers east from Wet’suwet’en territory and Mixtec, Otomi & Nahua land defenders traveled north from Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico to participate in a film screening, panel, and march throughout downtown Toronto.
Film Screening and Panel, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
The land defenders spoke in front of a packed room, sharing their stories and hope. Panelists included Nnimmo Bassey, renowed Nigerian environmental justice activist and GJEP’s board member:
I see that our struggles around the world are so interconnected… We have the potential to win this fight and save the world from itself when we have the wisdom of Indigenous people.. …A people united can never be defeated.
The night included the global premiere of a preview of a new film, Tlapehuala La lucha de las mujeres, that examines the struggle to defend the land in Mexico (to be launched in full this winter).
Also shown was a preview of INVASION, a new film about the Unist’ot’en Camp, Gidimt’en checkpoint and the larger Wet’suwet’en Nation standing up to the Canadian government and corporations who continue colonial violence against Indigenous people.
Finally, we watch the first 9 minutes of KKR, Coastal GasLink and General David Petraeus.
The next day the land defenders marched in solidarity with GJEP and hundreds of protesters throughout downtown Toronto, making speeches at Toronto City Hall, Global Affairs Canada and TC Energy’s Toronto office.
Solidarity Rally at Toronto City Hall
As protesters gathered in front of Toronto City Hall, the land defenders made impactful speeches.
Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief standing outside of Toronto City Hall confirmed that
When it comes to oil extraction, not once did we say yes, not once will we say yes to it… …Industry and government hope that you’ll be silent, they hope that you’ll go away, they hope that you let them continue. But that should never happen. That hope should never exist.
Ortencia Reyes Valdivia, Mixtec land defender who came from Mexico, speaking in front of Toronto City Hall through a translator:
Hope is not a strategy. We cannot hope to win. We have to have hope, yes, but we need to plan, we need to prepare, we need to protect what we have left, because we all have a vested interest in what we have to protect, we all have to do this work together. Because one of the main tactics in that counterinsurgency manual is to divide and conquer.
Yesterday was October 12. It’s the day of resistance and dignity for Indigenous people and we will continue to fight against war, especially the war that is brought upon our brothers and sisters, our Zapatista brothers and sisters. We will continue to fight along with them to defend our territory. The government loves to be able to say that they have divided us. They love to say that some of us will accept it while others resist. But we are united
We are not going to win this fight, we are winning this fight… … We are winning and we will continue to because we won’t stand for the type of treatment that is happening to indigenous people and the type of desecration that is happening to our sacred sites, our future generations anymore. We have to stand with each other always. And we will win.
Protest March throughout Downtown Toronto
Salvador Aparicio Olvera, a campesino, social activist and land defender from the Otomi community, Chila de Juárez, in Puebla, Mexico said:
We have thus far been able to stop the Tuxpan Tula pipeline by TC Energy… …But we know that this fight is not over, there are more threats every day. They see our resources as only a commodity but we are here to defend our forests.
Molly Wickham (Sleydo’), Wet’suwet’en land defender also spoke during a stop along the protest:
Seeing all of you here today is inspirational to me… …It helps us keep going, even in the face of the kind of repression that we are experiencing in our own territories, in our own homes, in our own ancient village sites. We have to stand with our relatives across Turtle Island and around the world. An attack on one is an attack on all.
We are going to stand up and fight back.. we’re going to shut this sh*t down. No more pipelines on stolen native land… ...Things can be different if we force them to be different. We can force change to happen in defense of the earth and water that we rely on.
Speeches in front of TC Energy’s Toronto Office
The march ended in front of TC Energy’s Toronto Office, with more speeches and a closing ceremony.
Click here to find out more about the event.