1492 Landback Lane and the Colonial Playbook with Dr. Robyn Bourgeois

You’re listening to Medicine for the Resistance.  This episode was recorded on Thursday, October 22 which is the day that an important court decision was brought down regarding 1492 Landback Lane.  We start with an update from Karl Dockstader of One Dish One Mic, a journalist who is on the ground at the Landback Lane action.  And then we continue our discussion with Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, the Acting Vice Provost for Brock University in Indigenous Engagement.  Thanks for listening. 

Patty:  Big Day, big guy, big news come down from the judge.

Kerry:  Yes. Incredible use incredible news.

Patty:  So what  does that mean in terms of no blockades at all? like is that like, no Indigenous people can have blockades anywhere and hold them accountable?

Karl:  Yeah, for all time forever. That’s I think that’s the part that’s a little bit unprecedented is that no, no road, can be. No road anywhere in all of Haldimand County can ever be blockaded. And I’m not even sure that they specified, I think probably it would be dangerous language to say, no Indigenous person can blockade a road.

Patty:  Right

Karl: So I don’t think anybody for any reason, like somebody pointed out, there was a there was a traffic crawl from Six Nations the other day. So my understanding is that according to the terms of the blockade, that’s that’s now illegal, because that’s an obstruction of a road.

Robyn: Wow.

Patty:  Like, can they even do that?

Karl: They did.  <laughter>

Kerry: I was just going to say

Patty: No, but I mean, like judges can make judges can make any order they like, right, like, so sometimes they make orders that they don’t really have the jurisdiction to do. Because they know how much energy it’s going to take to fight that as far up the food chain as it needs to fight. So that’s why I’m just wondering like, is that something that is, you know, is that something that can be fought?

Karl: I think that what’s interesting here is this is an injunction law. And so this is this is what we saw with Wet’sueten and this is what we’re seeing now in Six Nations. And this is what we saw with the moose moratorium up in up in Quebec, is again and again, you’ve got you’ve got an injunction court. So it’s not it’s not a full court, like it’s not a full trial with witnesses and evidence and all the things that you would normally have.

So you’ve got in this case, an Ontario Superior Court justice, that’s using their discretion. And, and that’s, that’s shocking. The first time it happens, but now this is the third high profile case that’s going on right now. Where I mean, I think Yellowhead hit the nail on the head with with their research, I think they’re ahead of the curve, and showing that like 81 out of 99, or 81, out of 100 times the they rule in favor of the non-Indigenous party. So it’s it’s a way I think, of getting around the law. But we’ve been seeing this for like 152 years. And if we want to be honest, it’s more like 500 years of the rules just fit the situation.

Robyn: So it’s a system working like it should.

Kerry:  You just validated Karl  exactly what surmising is that whether you know, the judge can or cannot make that order. They are, right? And, and the reality of it is, as you so eloquently put there Patty, that they make it so that you can’t fight it, or the amount of time that it takes to be in the fight, you know, they’re still getting what they want in the long run anyway. And what I’m really hoping that comes out of this is, while that Corporation, or whatever the situation is, seems like a victory in the moment to that other side, every single Canadian or Indigenous person, everybody should be very, very afraid. If this is showing up in this space, at this time, it is an insidious.

Patty:   Well, I don’t know about every Canadian, because this just keeps ruling in their favor, right. Like the development people, they get their development, the pipeline, people get their pipeline. And, you know, Canada, Canada just keeps rolling along like you know, the Mi’kmaq fishermen were able to get an injunction. So that’s kind of an example of it, but it’s one out of how many,

Kerry:  I think, and I agree with, but what’s not lost on me is how high profile this has been. And I know, I know, I know that, you know, 1492 hasn’t been as necessarily on the same level, but we were in a different time. The circumstances around this being COVID the circumstances of what we’re watching legislatively, even in those ways where our certain rights are being, you know, legislated away when we’re being put into these lockdowns. I think there’s tie ins here. There’s a blatantness to this. Yes, it is always been. Don’t get me wrong, but what I what what? What comes to is just the there’s just a sweep. normal things under the table, you know, make it a little less sweeping, you know? Or at least add some Vaseline maybe this time. I know that. I know that sounds harsh. But this time, it just sounds like it’s just there’s no nothing in it. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s putting us back and letting us know who’s in charge. Does that make sense? I’mnot sure

Patty:  That’s Canada, right. That’s what happened in the RCMP stormed into Wet’suet’en? That’s, you know, that’s the RCMP, the videos of the RCMP standing by while you know, while the white fishermen burned things, you know, could you imagine if that 1492 they’d been burning things. I mean, they’re burning tires now. But the development, I mean, serious things like, this is just been,

So, what’s the mood? They’re like, what are people? Obviously, you’re not going to tell us what plant you know what their plans are, but

Karl:  they’re um, actually I am I gonna give you I gonna give you a pretty exhaustive update, and then I’m gonna jump out.  Battery issues. But it made more sense for me to talk to you from here. Since I’m here, at all, I mean, I’ll tell you exactly. I’ll give you a really quick timeline.

I mean, there, there was the court case. And I think that’s been unpacked a lot. But then, after the court case, they were trying to arrest a land defender, that was at about five o’clock, in the course of arresting the land defender, they fired rubber bullets. And to get an idea of what a rubber bullet the reality of the situation is, real people’s media shared a picture of the rubber bullet that was fired at the land defender. The area that it was fired in, though was was 6 and 6. And that’s the camp that’s been set up here. And the camp has been completely peaceful.

So a stray bullet went. And I heard an account from one eyewitness that said, it actually hit a woman in the back. The other thing I heard was that it flew through a crowd of people and there were elders that were actually in the midst of the crowd. So here’s this area, where you know, the police are trying to do whatever it is the police are trying to do. But then they fire a couple of these rubber bullets. Apparently they had their tasers, the the account I have is that there were about eight officers. And they were all ready to act and escalate things. And then further to that they almost headed into Kanonhstaton.  Now Kanonhstaton for people that don’t know from 2006 is is a territory that was reclaimed by the Six Nations people in the past. And Six Nations people very much consider that to be sovereign territory. If that officer stepped foot on to 6 and 6 itself or in to Kanonhstaton then I’m not sure what what would have happened.

So but they, yeah, they fired so they fire the rubber bullets. And things immediately escalate. Especially since it was so close to the crowd of people, people started to block the road and then different people came in. And now they’ve lit fires and everything is sort of at a standstill, and everything, everything here is on edge. I think that this is compounded by the fact that after today’s court ruling, there was no closure in the situation, nothing really changed. Like even though people are obviously frustrated with the outcome that the judge provided. It’s still sort of business as usual. And you’ve got Six Nations people that regardless of how legitimate you think their grievance is, or isn’t, they’ve got a genuine grievance. And until that’s resolved in some sort of way, that’s fair, then then I think that there’s going to continue to be these these types of standoffs.

So that’s the situation now. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. But I’m going to jump off because I’m also fighting with my battery life situation. And I want to make sure I have lots of camera because I hate to say it. As a journalist, this is also providing a layer of protection for people should something happen with the police. I want to make sure that that I’m doing my responsible part and documenting and I hope it doesn’t escalate to that degree. But I want to be sure that I’m ready in case.

Patty:  I think we’ll let you go then. And will let you protect your battery.  And thank you for the update and you know, stay safe.

Kerry:  Solidarity all the way and thank you for the update.

Karl: Yeah, for sure. I’ll send you guys off with a couple shots of the fire. So here’s the one. And then there’s another one off off in the road.

Patty: Yeah.

Karl:  So reach out if you guys if you guys need anything. I’ll obviously be posting updates to One Dish One Mic as the evening unfolds. And yeah, thank you. Thank you for doing everything you do. And for reaching out. Thank you.  yawʌ’kó

Patty:  Miigwech.  Stay safe.

Kerry:  I can’t tell you how upset I am right now.

Patty:  Yeah. Well, and let’s see too a Montsion the detective ,police officer up in Ottawa. He was acquitted this week.

Robyn: Yep.

Patty: His gloves his reinforced gloves were determined to not be anything a sign, a sign of any kind of premeditation. And Montsion is the officer who, when he was arrested was that he was the one where the office, the other officers all wore the solidarity bands, wasn’t it that they were they were all wearing the solidarity bands with him, you know, it just really the entire force just really came out and, you know, in solidarity with someone who had just beaten a man to death.

Kerry:  And that’s the truth and the reality of what this is, there is an utter, I think this one is really, I mean, it’s so visual, I mean, we’re, we were very privy to it right up close and personal. But you know, as an ally, and as somebody who stands, I just see how much of, of the similarities that just ebb and flow between our two peoples, and it’s just so the same, even in its differences, that, that that core sense of disregard? And and, and just the sweep of the callousness that it becomes for us, iIs really hitting me in this moment.

Patty:  Yeah. When I saw when I saw the court, like, you know, the thing about Montsion the other day, and then I saw the news today from, you know, from the from the news from Six Nations about the the permanent injunction

Robyn: Mm hmm.

Patty: It was just, I didn’t know where to go with any of that, in terms of you know, because this is somebody had posted on Twitter about you know, the, about the Royal Proclamation, and the mistake was making that, you know, that we had made the treaties. And for people who aren’t aware of the Royal Proclamation came out in 17. That sorry,

Robyn: 1763

Patty:  1763. So before the American Revolution, so what applied to all of British territory, and what it essentially said was, if you want to buy Indian land, you’ll have to go through the crown. If you can’t, I mean, I mean, it’s a lot longer and more detailed than that. But what it essentially says is, if you want to buy Indian land, you can’t just kind of go and ply them with liquor and, you know, marry their daughters and all of that and buy Indian land, you have to go through us.

And in Canada, what we’ve done is we’ve always tried to hold the crown to account for that, you know, using the Crown’s laws to hold them accountable. Whereas in you know, in the US, they’ve done thing, you know, the tribes have done things differently. Basically,  kind of ignoring, like just saying, Okay, I guess we’re American, you know, it’s America, so they’re not really worrying about that Proclamation. They focus more on the treaties were Canadian  Indigenous activists have focused a lot more on this is what the treaty says, These are the rules. These are your words, it’s your own words.

And it never works. We’ve been doing this for 1763: 250 years. We’ve been holding them accountable to their own words. Due to treaties. You wrote down these words. This was the proclamation you made was it chief Big Bear? had said he was going to talk to the queen. He was going to use her words. He was going to repeat her words back to her and look what that got him.  In jail. Yeah. Right. Like we but we keep doing it. Keep holding them. No, we keep seeking relief.

Kerry:  And we know

Patty:  and it doesn’t work and it doesn’t it doesn’t work, you know, for Black people, either. You guys seek you know, to seek relief in the courts and Montsion walks. Like we talked with Desmond Cole about in his book beautifully lays out absolutely all the ways in which it just these rules just don’t apply to us. They were written with our names on them in terms of the treaties, but they really they’re just terribly one sided thing. So Robyn, I’m gonna ask you to just kind of take it away because you know, that’s everything I know about the royal proclamation.

Kerry:  I think I …

Patty:  am you know, and the treaties and treaty relationships and beautiful a lot more about that and kind of what threads tie Wet’suet’en to 1492 to Mi’kmaqi reaching back to Burnt Church, and Oka and all of these other things. They’re all of a piece. They’re not isolated. Wow, I never saw that coming. They’re all parts of the same parts of the same story.  Take it away.

Robyn: Exactly

Kerry:  And I think I think there’s value in that education for those of us who don’t.

Robyn:  Yeah, you don’t. It’s funny. It It’s something I’ve been talking to a lot with people lately. One of the things I that I spent time in Mi’kmaqi before coming here, and treaty education is such a central part of living in Mi’kmaqi. Like, it’s in schools. It’s in everywhere. And I’ve never seen that like having now lived from coast to coast. I’ve never seen that same emphasis on treaty education anywhere.

And I’ve been thinking about that a lot, because I had the good fortune last night of listening to a knowledge carrier from Six Nations. His name is Bobby Henry. He’s actually now a new lecturer at Brock, and full disclosure, also my brother in law. But he, he is, you know, he’s Cayuga, he has this incredible knowledge of the treaties. So Two Row, Dish with One Spoon, Silver Covenant.   And when you listen to him talk about it. This is all part of that same. Exactly what you said Patty, this is all part of the same puzzle. And it’s all connected. And it’s all related to the fact that we have two very different interpretations of what treaties are right.

You know, like I think about, he doesn’t really good job of explaining how this relates, particularly to the traditional Haudenosaunee. But we have the same kind of idea in Cree ,like treaties are about relationships, they’re living, they’re eternal, they’re long term, you’re constantly working on that relationships are constantly working, so that everybody benefits and it’s so it’s not.

Western society imagines that is ownership, right? Because it goes to land ownership and capitalism and colonialism, which are all linked, right? Like I can’t, I’ve got a great student who reminds me this all the time. And now I’m just with her. Capitalism, colonial is they’re like this, right? [gestures with hands held together]   And so it’s all part of that project. They need land, not only for their colonial existence, but they need land for this whole capitalist system. Right. And so, like, somebody asked him last night, do you think like, Indigenous, or the settlers that came actually, you know,  understood what they were signing? And he was like, he was hopeful? I’m not entirely I think, you know, there’s so much manipulation there. And we look at that, right? We see that with like, my favorite one is

Patty:  Yes, right. I have a book about that!

Robyn:  We see that with, my favourite one is ..YES!  Right!

Patty:  This book was recommended to me, somebody on Twitter recommended it to me, Property. And, of course, I have a book about that. [shows a copy of Property and Dispossession by Allan Greer]

Kerry:  Oh, I was gonna say we say it out loud. So that our readers who are …

Patty:  It’s called Property and Dispossession by Alan Greer. And what he talks about is so interesting, because when the first colonists arrived,

Robyn:  yeah,

Patty:  they had we had very similar ideas about property in relationship to land. So they paid rent to the Powhattens.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty:   Which increased the Powhatten chief’s stature.

Robyn: Yeah,

Patty:  and because now he’s got another town paying him tribute. And it blew my mind how similar and even in Spain and Mesoamerica. And the tribute all Spain did was walk into Montezuma’s system and take it over.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty:  It’s like our understanding this idea that we had no concept of landownership. Neither did they, at the time, they were just starting to enclose thing. So yeah, that book was so fascinating. And I know this podcast has been so expensive for Kerry, because I keep Twitter is expensive for me because people recommend books, I buy them. And then I start talking about them on the pod and Kerry’s like, online ordering, and while we

Kerry:  As we’re talking (laughter)

Patty:  That I knew what you were talking.

Robyn:  And that’s what’s so like, so many times, I wish we could go back because we really were that close, like i i agree with you, I think we and then that system, it’s an internal takeover. And it just becomes this machine. Right. And so like, that’s when, when Karl was saying today, you know, this injunction and the link between them, the system, like people are gonna be like, Oh, it’s broken. We got to fix this. Now, other systems refuse that. Right? Yeah, this is never meant. I mean, there’s two things Canada cannot exist without land. Because the land is the source of its wealth.

Kerry:  Yeah,

Robyn:  So it’s gonna do whatever it needs to do to protect that, you know, it’s the reason that, you know, people like Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang have to write an article called, Decolonization is not a Metaphor, and that you have to get to land back. Because, I mean, the system even in proposing things like decolonization, reconciliation, will be like, Well, you know, we’ll make space for ceremony. We’ll do little land acknowledgments, but we won’t actually get to that, that issue of the land,

Patty:  and even the Mi’kmaq. Oh, what’s happening in Mi’kmaqi was yes, they got they got their injunction. Yeah, but what they but what they’ve got is right to a modern livelihood. Right so the injunction that they got threatens the state of Canada in absolutely no way shape or form. It doesn’t really threaten the white fisherman. It certainly doesn’t threaten Clearwater. You know, the main the big the big the big corporation out there does. So yeah, so they can have their injunction they can have their when they can you because it costs Canada absolutely nothing. Where Landback Lane. Yep. Oka. Yeah, well, even Oka, it was, you know, they could stand down from that. But you know, these other things it cost it’ll cost Canada something likely to rule in favor of the Haudenosaunee people at Landback Lane would cost Canada something because the argument there is based on the Haldimand tract,

Kerry:  yep. I just gonna say and then it’s a precedent. Yeah, that’s

Patty:  right. So could you talk people through a little bit what that Haldimad Tract is and what that would mean?

Robyn:  Yeah, that’s it’s so significant. I mean, this goes back to treaties. And I’m not, I’d like a detailed historian in here and so on this, so I please forgive me for this very abbreviated version. My understanding is for the Haldimand Tract. This was an agreement that was created to provide a basic land base, and it’s quite extensive. Like, when you look at the I actually show up, when I talk to students and Indigenous Studies about this. I show the map because the tract of land is like, if you look at the map is quite, it’s huge. It’s it’s

Patty:  Well it’scalled the length of the Grand River. Yes. Yeah. Six miles on either side. And then the reserve piece of land. Yes.

Robyn: And the reserve is like in that within that is like

Patty:  this, like tiny eraser cap it. And within that is, is that Mississauga credit?

Robyn:  Yes, exactly. So it’s even a little tiny, your spot, right? And so here is this really significant tract of land that is in? Let’s be honest, the, you know, the breadbasket or the, what do they call it? The greenbelt? Right. So this is the agricultural base of Ontario. This is like, there’s so many amazing natural resources. So this is a very

Patty:  And it’s so easy to build on.  Like we talk a lot about that about how people think these developments go up on arable land, and how dense but arable land super easy to build on. Yeah, right. Because you’re not hauling rocks, you’re not dealing water, you’re not you know, it’s a very stable land, super easy to dig out, build your nice pretty subdivisions on, grow your lawns, throw up a few shade trees. And so that’s why they really like building on it because it’s cheap.

Robyn: Yep, exactly.

Patty:  And it’s close to all the cities, it’s convenient. And we’re going to pave paradise,

Robyn:  I think about Caledonia, I lived in Caledonia for, Oh, my gosh, I don’t remember how many years we live there. But if you look at where the lot like if you look at the lay of the land, and how you would expand Caledonia, guess which way they’re going? Because if you go the other ways, that is a different, very different landscape. And it would be like, you know, it’s not, it’s really not arable. It’s not any of those things. So of course, it’s going to go the other way. Right. And in doing that advances the whole colonial project anyway, right?

Because it’s shrinking the land base, every step that goes. So this is this is significant, though, because this is an agreement. And this was an agreement that was made with the community, and those treaty rights aren’t  being respected. And that’s really the other part of this, you know, we’ll have these treaties, we’ll sign these agreements, and we will not hold up our end of the bargain, from the settler perspective, right? Ever. Like, I can’t think of one instance, where that’s even

Patty:   yet imagine how upset everybody would hate if the US decided not to uphold the Treaty of Ghent and make, you know, come across the Canada US border, because they decided the treaty was signed on, you know, 100-200 years ago and a long time ago, we don’t need to validate that anymore.

Robyn:   Exactly.  That’s a that was something that Bobby said to me last night that I like, every time I listen to him, he is so incredible, and talking about treaties. But that’s what he said was one of kind of the barriers around treaties, is that both settlers, and even some Indigenous folks think about those things as in the past is something that’s historical. And yet, in the true understanding of those treaties, they are living their life now. They are applicable now. And he he made a really a good point of, you know, talking about that language about as long as the sun is shining and the water is running. Like this is always this is not something that was in the past that has no application to us. We’re all treaty people.

Patty:  You know, because of treaties. Well, in BC they’re working on the modern treaties.

Robyn: Yes, exactly.

Patty:  What that’s all about eroding land based on the original treaties.

Robyn: Exactly. Even the original treaties were about eroding land base, right? Well, it if you think about how those were achieved, and, you know, going through and forcing communities to sign treaties, like I think about the violence that was involved in the number of treaties, across the, you know, really part of little bits of BC, but mostly across the prairies, those treaties, I mean, there was coercion, there was manipulation, there was violence, forced starvation, to get people to sign these agreements.

And I’ve heard so many times, there’s so many great documentaries that talk about this. And the communities are like, our ancestors didn’t understand it that way. And they understood this as sharing like, that was what these were about sharing and building relationships. And yet the settlers have now interpreted that as land ownership. And, you know, really, this is ours, you have no right to it, and not honoring that obligation that that treaty has to that relationship, right.

Patty:   And when we think about land ownership, I mean, and that’s one thing that Greer does really well in his book.  Land ownership is kind of is a weird thing, because I okay, I own eight acres. Yeah, but land ownership, like I can’t just do whatever I want. Right? Like, I can’t do whatever I want. I can’t do whatever I want with this land.  What that money bought me his permissions to do certain things. Yes, it gave me permissions to, you know, to have certain boundaries.

But really, if the city wanted to expropriate it for some reason, they could, you know, the mineral rights that lay beneath that are not mine, the air rights above it are not mine. If I wanted to move to Welland, I can’t just pick up my land and take it to Welland, right. So land ownership is kind of this really weird, multi layered thing.

And we understood that, right, we weren’t stupid. We understood, like, between the Anishnaabe and the Haudenosaunee, we crafted that dish with one spoon treaty. Yeah, that’s all about layers of ownership.

Robyn: Exactly.  

Patty: Right. That’s all what that is about. That’s all about layers of ownership, who’s gonna do what when, I mean, it’s simplistically been described, as, you know, take his take what you need, and, you know, leave the spoon clean and all of that stuff. But it was a little more complicated than that. It’s a big belt. There’s lots of shells in there. And, you know, so so we understood that, we got that. But they weren’t talking about sharing. Not in any of the treaties, were they talking about sharing, they were talking about taking and having all of the rights, not any kind of shared rights, like I have some shared rights with the city, you know, in exchange for the taxes that I pay in exchange for permission to live here and whatever. They had no idea of that.

Kerry:   And it wasn’t about them for that. So when you mentioned Robyn, you know, the idea of there being coercion, yeah. The idea of this, you know, not being done in the best light. I think that’s what we have to just come right back down to.

And what when, when we were talking about this, you guys were mentioning everything that’s going on here, what came to my mind is reparations, how you know, you let’s not let’s not just talk the land yet they, I’ve always found I remember, as a child, when we would talk about land, and we were buying houses and stuff like that. It really always struck me as how do we how do I own this space, like it never sat right for me, even as a child, the idea that we can own a pocket of this expansive place, and I couldn’t understand why we got put out 100,000 plus for it. When you’re right. You never own it, you the you’re always paying taxes on it, you may pay off your house, you may pay off your land, but you are forever going to owe the crown. There’s forever this reminder that we are just stuck and mired in a system that keeps us confined.

And I think about that not only is that the truth, then they didn’t even build it themselves. It was done off the backs of us as as a whole.   It was our slave labor. And even now they want to dance around that. I know that there is a coalition in the West Indies in the West Indian islands who have all come together and are demanding from the crown reparations and the dance that has been happening around that space. absolutely enormous.

And it’s been in the conquer and divide the way that they keep the the all these situations that we have talked about. I mean, we’ve mentioned five here or four, and kept them like they’re fractionalized. But yet it’s such a part of a whole system. And it’s in the fractionalization of it, that they have managed to continue and perpetuate what this truth is.

And so for me, what, what, what it brings up is the strongest, you know, not a stronger and just the growing “no”, that it will never change until we hit revolution. Do you know what I mean? It just, you we can’t fix it. We can’t expect, as you mentioned that idea of, oh, let’s take it, you know, that give us a little something. We’re going to work this out. We’re coming from the same space, because we’re not. And I don’t know if we were we’ve come to that yet. I know. We’re trying our best. Right. But that I think I’m really feeling frustrated today.

Patty:   I think we all are yeah?Right. Everything that’s been happening the last couple of days. And you know,

Kerry:  that fire seemed real appealing to me seeing those tires burn the real appealing to me, as I watched out, like that need for there to be some sort of, something

Patty:  Reform, right. I mean, if reform happens, reforms are always rolled back. Yeah. Right. Like, look at all the gains of the civil rights movement. Look at how fast how fast Trump has rolled so much of that back.

Robyn: Exactly. Reforms  are precarious, reforms are at the whims of government. So I always picture like waves like we walk forward, and we back forward. Right? constantly, constantly the swing of that pendulum.

Patty:  Yeah. So how to kind of want to take a little bit of a sharp left, kind of into where we were originally planning on going into this conversation. It’s it’s tied this disrespect for land, this rape of the earth?

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty:  You know, through extracting it, you know, through extractive colonialism. And I think that what your student is getting at, with the two hands of capitalism is you’ve got settler and extractive colonialism together.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty: You know, you know, so it’s, so those things are deeply tied to the abuse of women.

Robyn:  Mm hmm. Yeah.

Patty:  You know, the theft of land and the theft of labor, like even through slavery, but because that slavery, humans were transformed into commodities.

Robyn: Yeah, exactly.

Patty:  And so when you commodify the land when you can modify the people. rape is inevitable, right? Yeah. And this is really this is this is this is really kind of where you’ve been doing all you know, a lot of your research and a lot of well, knowledge. 

Robyn:  I really, I got a, Karl did a shout out for this earlier, and I got to see the same thing. The land bank report by Yellowhead Institute, one of the things I so value about that word, is the organization around the notion of consent.

Patty: Yes,

Robyn: because that’s and I actually took, I taught a class last summer called land, body and sovereignty. And we actually walked that, to understand how that issue of consent is at the core of both of these things, because they’re interrelated, right? And actually, like, I think I need to take a step back. So I can tell this story in the right way.

But even before, like, we talked about Indigenous peoples before colonialism, and I can’t talk generally, but I can tell you from a Cree perspective, that we consider the land, the rocks, the stones, everything, our relations, they’re not an object, they are our ancestors, they are our family, they are a religion, and it’s a relationship. So the relationship we have with the earth, and that’s different than thinking about we own that, right. And so when you have a relationship like that, it’s really hard to abuse that land, because you have you understand that you have respect for the land, which means in turn, that you have respect for people. And the link is always made, like I think about my teachings and how often those things are always constantly linked. Respect for the land, respect for the people respect for the land. In fact, there’s a there’s we have Cree  words, it’s one of our basic values is that you have respect for each other and that across the spectrum, you know, us for each other as people but also within the realm of you know, the water, the air, the land, we and that’s reciprocal. It’s, you know, it’s a relationship.

That’s I think it’s so important.  Settler colonialism does not see that right because of the demand for labor, capital, etc. And that’s, they, to be able to go into that system, which is based on hierarchy and domination and power, and violence, because violence is critical to all of this.

Patty: Yeah,

Robyn:  you need to be able to dehumanize and objectify, right, because that’s what you’re talking about. That’s what happens. And it happens to spaces so we can treat the land as an object that needs to be conquered and controlled. And that you can hear that in in the discourse of settlers. In fact, I actually did my original, like my master’s thesis, I actually looked at the construction of whiteness in my hometown, which is a settler hub, like a settler community. And they taught that the language around land use was so powerfully racist.

For they had these metaphors where they talked about the community I grew up in had, it’s the home of the Splatsin, and the they have quite a bit of territory throughout that area.

But what happened is it it became a hub for a really strong Chinese community as well. And so the Chinese community invested in creating market gardens in the community, like, right in the core of the community, in fact, they’re right in the heart of that community. And they actually became incredibly successful. Like, at one point, this town was considered the celery capital of the world. Like, that’s how big this was.

And when you looked at the language around city council who stepped in and was like, Whoa, we’re losing the land, both in terms of, you know, land claims around the, of the Indigenous folks, but also around the Chinese, the language goes, so the settlers are, they’re the perfect example, right? They’re the only perfect example; Indigenous folks were portrayed as lazy and unproductive because they left the land “undeveloped.” The call the converse discourse for the Chinese population, in Armstrong was that they were “aggressive” and “bled the land dry.” And they did something that was actually entirely against the law at the time that passed a ban that prevented the ownership of land in the heart of the community, for anybody who was of Asian ancestry.  And that was against the bylaws of the province of British Columbia at the time, and it’s on the books, but that’s, it’s always about that land, right.

And one of the like, I think back to the how this all really begins. And if we really want to understand that kind of British concept of land, and how Canada comes to exist, we have to go back to Terra Nullius, we have to go back to the very core idea that Britain had two different statutes for addressing land coming under the English crown, the British crown. One was that they found people they had to negotiate a treaty. And that’s the only way they could claim that land for the crown. They also had Terra nullius, which was this doctrine that basically said if you found empty land, you could claim it by virtue. 

Of course. Canada is not empty. Hello, right. These lands have not were not empty. There were people here. And the critical thing that happened there was that we had to, they had to dehumanize Indigenous peoples. And that’s where we get the racist discourses coming in.  Right. So now we’re lazy, backwards, savage, heathen, unchristian, you know, them all, right. And so, from the very start of Canada’s kind of founding in those claiming of the land, it was about declaring Indigenous peoples, not people. And us not existing except for we do, right.

And it’s actually the racialization of space is fascinating and disturbing. Because then it becomes about how do you contain these bodies, right? So we negotiate treaties so we can get them tied to certain parts of land so we could free the rest up. In fact, I saw when I was doing my research in Armstrong, I actually saw ads that said “manless land” or no “manless land for landless men”, and it was an ad recruiting European settlers to come. And that’s exactly it was this land was considered empty, but we’re still dealing with Indigenous people. So we signed treaties. And then we do the reserve systems. So we contain them to very specific spots of land that are the least arable that have no connection to their traditional territories that disrupt their patterns of subsistence and livelihood. And we keep them there and we make them in situations where they’re either so isolated, that we kind of don’t have to worry about things, or we put them close enough to us so that we can watch, right. That’s how the settler framework works.

And so you’ve got Indigenous peoples contained to land, you’ve disrupted their entire systems of and livelihoods. And actually, there’s, I recommend this book to everyone, Hugh Shewell’s book called “Enough to Keep Them Alive”, talks about how welfare dependence was actually a specific governmental strategy. And I think it’s so important for people to read that book, because we always hear about Indigenous peoples being a drain on society, are portrayed as welfare bums, and yet, it was a particular strategy of colonialism.  Because if you could get people to Indigenous peoples to be dependent on the government of Canada for their livelihood, then they can control us, right. And that’s what they do. I mean, there’s limits now to whether you can access services and supports whether you’re on reserve or you leave reserve, right. And it’s always been about that.

And it’s been that too, and I think this is important, it’s been the same for other racialized communities, I mean, we can see it, if we think about the landscape of Canada, Toronto is actually a great space to think about those because you have Black spaces, you have South Asian spaces, you have all these particular enclaves. And one of the things that’s really interesting, if you read some of the work around this, part of that is about creating community, right, because we all need community. And we come together and find ways to survive, especially in an in a setting that is hostile. And at the same time, those outside settler forces constantly push those communities into those particular spaces. So it’s not for example, you know, just chance that if you think about a city like Vancouver in the downtown Eastside, that that’s where not only is, you know, the the skid row of the community, right, but also there are the ethnic communities and we have, you know, a Chinatown there. We have, I think there’s little India in there. And those things happen for a reason. It’s about containment, right? And making sure most of the land is free, but also surveillance, but even then they’ll take it like I think about Africville all the time in Nova Scotia, and how quickly you know, as soon as they wanted land, here we go, right? We’ll take it anyway. We’ll raze your village, it doesn’t matter, like,

Patty:  well, and it was the language of public safety.

Robyn: Yes.

Patty:  Despite the destruction of Africville. So we’re going to create this community, we’re going to starve it of resources.

Robyn:  Yep.

Patty:  And then when shit goes sideways, we’ll blame them.

Robyn: Right.

Patty:  You know,  because “they’re animals,”  you know, what, who can who can live like that? So we’ll blame them. And then we’ll take it away.

Robyn: Yep.

Patty:  And lather, rinse, repeat.

Kerry:  That’s, that’s what is, you know, the commonality is right there. Even right now, there’s a justification that’s been happening in Toronto, in what was little Weston? Yes. You know, we had an area at Oak wood and Eglinton Road, that was a concentration of the Black, you know, hub, it was a Black West Indian hub. And right now, you know, they put another thing that’s normally a thing is when railway lines go in. And when they added the light rail, or the I think it’s the it’s above ground, you know, the LRT has gone in there. And that has caused a complete disruption of the community. Not only did it starve it out in the period of time that it’s been taken to build it, it has caused so many people to be scattered and the community is looking very different than what it used to be

Patty:  Well that happened in Boston when they put the highway through

Kerry:  Yeah, right. You know, it, there is a book, you know, what I mean? Like, they’re they’re literally, you know, is a handbook, there’s a set of rules, they figured out exactly what it is, and they’ve got it down to a fine art form. And what I believe is, the truth of it is for us to recognize that that’s what it is, it has affected every single one of these of us and our communities. And sooner or later, we’re going to have to, you know, get the memo and come together to figure something out.

Patty:  Kerry is getting ready to burn it all down.


Kerry: I really am, I really

Patty:  Kerry ate her Wheaties today, oh my god

*general laughter*

Kerry:  I’m not I’m like really, though, really. You know, that’s really the sense that I’m feeling. It’s an outrage. I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it for on so many levels. And and just the the truth of what I think that’s what it is there’s an inevitability we’re feeling this rise. And I just don’t see where where else does this go because we’re, we’re in one realm and one understanding, there’s a different one that you’re dealing with. And, you know, I was told once by one of my, you know, a thug friend of mine, that said, that said to me, sometimes some people, you know, I’m using that loosely. Um, some people just don’t understand anything but a punch in the face. *laughter*  You know. I’ve always been like, that’s not true and you know, me, I’m the Kumbaya.

Patty:   But that’s the way states operate, right?

Robyn:  Mm hmm.

Patty:  That’s exactly the way states operate. Right? If violence is not the answer, why do we have a police force? Well, the violin is not the answer. Why do we have a military? Why is the OPP firing rubber bullets, right And all rubber bullets? are his regular bullets covered in rubber and plastic?

I just read an article to somebody was saying about rubber bullets. And, you know, and that they’re still dangerous. And I’m like, hell yeah, they’re dangerous. They’re regular bullets.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty:  Covered in rubber. So the regular bullets that won’t pull you, they’ll just hurt you. And we’ll we saw what happened in the US, right, with people losing eyes and

Robyn:  Exactly . But it’s not surprising right?  Because within this system, Indigenous and racialized bodies are considered disposable.

Patty:  Yes,

Robyn:  we’re in the way, right. So you know, what, if your life is disposable, it doesn’t matter? Right? Well, fire you doesn’t matter. You know, it’s I this is one of the things I talk about when I talk about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It’s part of this, it is part of this entire process. And, you know, it’s really convenient for the Canadian state that there are individual perpetrators who will go and commit this violence for them. Because they just have to turn a blind eye.

Patty:  Yeah.

Robyn:  Right. It’s like, it makes me think of, if you’re gonna read Zygmunt Bauman’s book about the Holocaust and modernity? No, it’s a fascinating read, because he talks about the fact that bureaucracy is critical to how the Holocaust operated, and how people were able to deny responsibility in those things.  So he talks about how the distance between the people who gave orders to kill and those who had to delivering the killings, actually, it that was critical to how that operated. Because the people up here *gestures high*, who were saying, you know, basically, you know, let Kill Kill, didn’t have to actually do the killing. So you don’t have any qualms about saying, you know, what, murder a million people. The people down here *gestures lower*  doing that actual violence. They’re so far away from that. They’re just following orders. And so for the rest of their lives, they can say, Well, you know, what, I was just following orders.

And that’s the same kind of thing at play here. You know, the Canadian state can like perpetrators go, you know, commit its own violence, and oh, well, you know, it’s that same, bureaucratic distance. And it allows that dehumanization, because for neither party, or those people, human beings,

Patty:  right,

Robyn:  It’s replicated it like every time that we see racial violence, you know, whether it’s Indigenous people, Black folks, whether it’s, you know, South Asian people I thinking about right now, the anti Asian sentiment around COVID-19, and the violence that’s coming there, this is all related and connected and part of that same system.

Patty:   Mm hmm.   Well, and that’s exactly how policing operates. That’s how you can see right, you know, and I’m gonna, that’s how Child Welfare operates. Yes, the people that are making the decisions, right, and then you’re just on the ground carrying out orders

Care, nothing orders.

Robyn:  Yep, exactly.

Patty: That’s all you’re you know, you’re just on the ground carrying out orders. And the worst part, you know, you know, the worst. The worst part is, when you think you’re doing the right thing. Yeah.

Robyn: Right.

Patty:  Like, you know, this, this idea that we have of, you know, you know, child welfare workers are there to keep kids and police officers are just there to keep our community safe. And we tell these noble narratives about the thin blue line between, you know, between civilization and chaos and, you know, keeping the barbarians at bay. And, you know, and we instill in this, you know, in, you know, in policing, in particular, this blue lives thing about how you know about how noble they are, it’s what they believe they’re doing the right thing, and yet all of their language, when they’re talking about perpetrators is so dehumanizing and terrible, right, and it’s fills our TV sets when we watch Law and Order and The Wire and all of those other shows, and I watched Law and Order for probably decades. I don’t know how long that was on there. But the way they talk about the bad guys and vilify them, and it’s all copaganda, I mean, really was at X. I love X Files, it’s copaganda there to make the FBI look like the heroes. And the bad guys look like the bad guys.

Robyn: I mean, there is a reason that psychopaths are attracted to military jobs, and police jobs, like they’re given permission to be absolutely ruthless and violent to people.

Patty:  And people are already inclined that way. Yes, permission to behave that way.

Kerry: Yep

Patty:  can’t even screen them out. If they don’t start that way, the system will do it

Kerry:  exactly. I was just gonna say it’s, it’s a fostering, that the systems are designed to bring out this parts of who you are. And when you were mentioning this, it brought to mind I just did a talk a couple days ago on the idea of the angry Black woman, and we were doing a discourse on what that idea is. And it came to mind because what I’m recognizing yet again, is how the systems are set up to de-compartmentalize us to create and disassociate the way that we are seeing that you will become these invisible, you know, the boogeymans of the world that every Black woman then becomes an idea of she’s been dehumanized, and she is the savage already so who cares if she disappears or she herself is beaten down, because she’s that woman that’s got the six kids, and the 50 baby fathers, you know, maybe not 50. But at least three, like there’s these ideas that sit in the reality of how it’s created. And you can see the associations when they talk about Indigenous women. And I think that adds another layer. Because when you have compartmentalized us, we are weak, as we stand, you know what I mean, you’re not weak, but you are a lot more susceptible to be taken down in the system. And that’s what they’ve done, they separated, they have mother and child, you know what I mean? They’ve separated that unit, from the whole idea of a family unit, and the systems that have been put into place to keep that going, when you’re taking our men and throwing them in jail. You know, and or you are getting pushed into the foster care the foster systems and and all the systems isms that exist

Patty:  And Obama buys into the absent Black father, oh, man, he talks about men need to stand up. And really, when you look at it, when you break it down racially, the Black father is more present than anybody else.

Kerry:  Thank you

Patty:  more present, and yet the myth of the absent Black father, which comes out, and it’s awfully bold, for a people who spend most of their adult life raping Black and Indigenous women to accuse us of being the easy ones. But

Kerry:  isn’t it

Patty:  mighty bold?

Robyn: Yeah. Yep.

Patty:   But we’re rapable

Robyn:  Exactly

Patty:  Like theland. You know, just to kind of, you know, we’re like you said, we’re turned into these commodities.

Robyn: Yep.

Patty: Who can’t give consent? For whom consent is a non issue.

Robyn:  Yeah. Because if you’re already seen within that ideology is being innately sexually available, because that’s the whole idea behind a sexist colonialist discourse around Indigenous femininity, then it’s not a crime. You’re already there, right? Like, you might have inviolable, because you’re all like, it opens the door for that. And we hear that if you listen, in criminal cases surrounding direct sexual violence, that’s the constant discourse, you know, and it comes in different ways. Like you’ll hear it in different ways. It’s not always you know, so blunt

Patty:  It’s not always Cynthia Gladue getting her vulva brought into court

Robyn: Exactly,

Patty: It’s not always that obvious. Right?

Robyn: Exactly. But that’s what’s going on. And it happens again, and again and again and again and again. And the law reaffirms it right because that’s what the law does. This system was not meant to protect Indigenous peoples

Kerry:  Notat all. Not, you know, Black back.

Robyn: Exactly, or, yeah, exactly. And criminalize. I mean, that’s the two prongs of this right. We won’t protect you but will criminalize right and we see that that’s the literal reality

Kerry:   Because then we can  enslave you in a legal way. You know,

Robyn:  Exactly.  It’s all about that. It’s that same and the It’s containment space control. Right. And elimination. I mean, that’s the part I always get frustrated with folks about because they can get the containment part. But I’m like, no, it’s also about elimination. Like, we have to talk about this. People are dying every single day.

Patty:   You know, we not all of them are able to record it on Facebook and get people outraged.

Robyn: Yeah,

Patty:  but what that what the reason she hit play, or hit go live, whatever she hit was because she knew because it was so common and normal and expected.

Robyn:  Yep. And and

Patty:  They’llget outraged, and I’m tired of them being outraged.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty: I tweeted that out.  I’m tired of you being outraged.

Robyn: Yeah.

Kerry: It’s not enough

Patty:  honestly, all you’re doing is telling me you’re not paying attention.

Robyn: Yeah.

Patty:  How is this so shocking and surprising? Have we not been talking about this? Was there not a whole last commission about this?

Robyn: Right.

Patty: How many commissions?  How many commissions? How many recommendations? Pick one, pick one, read the executive summary, pick one thing? Maybe that’s what we can leave people with? Because I’m just mindful of the time. So maybe that’s what we can leave people with. Read one of the recommendations one of the inquests um, you know, like, there’s, you know, there have been so many inquests after police officers have killed Black men.

Robyn:  Exactly.

Patty:  There have been commissions out, you know, the TRC , the, you know, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women read the executive summary of these one, one, and then pick one of the calls to action and do it.

Robyn: Yeah, I think that’s, and that’s where we have to move in this rate, you know, for so long. Those things sit on shelves. I mean, that’s the whole point, I oppose the inquiry in the first place. Like I was actually I was outspoken and was like, I don’t think this is going to do anything, because that’s what my research has shown. And I went, and we’re more than a year on and nothing. And COVID. You know, I just wrote a piece about this COVID is a convenient excuse.  This is a regular pattern, you know, so I that’s I, we have to get to a point where we’re reading these things. Everybody’s reading these things, and we’re moving to action on those steps, right? Our lives are at stake. We don’t have time to wait anymore, like get to the work.

Patty:  Get to the work. That’s a good  place to leave it

Kerry:  I love that yet more. I think we leave it there because it is that we got it.

Robyn: Yes

Patty:  So find a commission, find a report, pick one, read it. Pick one call to action, do it. And then once you pick one, pick one that you can do at your work, find somebody to disrupt with, that’s what we’ve talked about before, but finding somebody you can disrupt with at work, because there are racist policies in your workplace.

Robyn:  Yeah, exactly.

Patty:  So get to work on it and join a health and safety committee. I loved it. When I worked, I loved th health and safety committee because there’s so much potential there to do something and the employer has to listen to you. You know, they don’t always listen, but think but the way the legislation is, it’s the one place that the worker has some solid voice, and all these things that we’re talking about our health and safety in the workplace, right? The violence, the racism, the stress, all of those things.  That can be a really neat way to to get your you know, to get some of this stuff into whatever workplace you’re at?

Robyn:  Have you seen that meme going around? About COVID? I think, and like, for me, I was just like, yes, this is obvious. But I’m glad that folks who are not really seeing that are now seeing this, you know, about there, like there wasn’t a shutdown. There was middle class people who got to go and hide out. Well, poor and mostly racialized folks went and we’re up to them to workers, right. And I was like, exactly,

Patty:  yeah, brought things to them

Robyn:  issue, right. It’s still like, it’s every element of our life, right? Every element?

Patty:  Well, and that’s a new now when you talk about criminalizing that’s what keeps Black and Indigenous people in those low wage service jobs. Because if you’ve got a criminal history, you are exluded from a lot of things.

Robyn:  That one, that’s what I think is really actually quite frightening about that injunction around the road,

Patty:  because it criminalizes space it makes it illegal to be in a particular space.

Robyn:  Exactly. And I’m going to bet that, you know, if they want to have you know, I don’t know, Caledonia has all kinds of marches on roads, where they have to shut things down. And I bet those will be fine. Right? It’ll be specifically used to target Indigenous folks. Right?

Patty: Because they will get the permits and we won’t.

Robyn:  exactly and that’s so it’s just a further criminalization on top of, you know, charging people and I heard, I don’t know if you read that, but they’re saying that one of the land defenders may be on the hook for like $20 million.

Kerry:  I saw that. Yes.

Robyn: Like, this is where we’re at.

Kerry:  And I really love that you point that out because I know we’re Going over time, but I just think that, you know, it’s important to note it all though all of you who think you’re oblivious. You’re not. It has started here. It has been perpetuated here, but they normally test things on us. This is the testing ground. Yeah. Remember that?

Patty:  And  I think just to come back to what you had said you had made that comment at the beginning is we and this is what we have seen in the US and this is why so many people in the US are getting mad now is because the things they’ve always been doing to Black and Indigenous people are now starting to hit, you know, particularly poor whites, but also middle class whites. They’re starting to notice that power isn’t really here for them either. And so yeah, you’re right, Kerry, people should be mad and should be noticing what’s happening this criminalization of space.  Because it’s going to come

Kerry:  down to

Patty:  Yep, it’s gonna come into it always does. And that’s one of the reasons I

Kerry:  cared for it. It’s no skin off our backs.

Patty:  We’re used to it.

*general laughter*

Kerry:   It’s not a skin off our backs. But I wonder about yours

Robyn: Yep,

Kerry:  I wonder about you. Just sayin ..

Patty thank you so much, Robyn.

Robyn: Thank you, for having me, this has been amazing, I just love your energy

Patty:  You’re so delightful.

Kerry: You are.

Robyn:  Thank you so much

All:  All right, bye bye bye.

You can find Medicine for the Resistance on Facebook and the website http://www.med4R.com . Don’t forget to rate share and support us by buying us a coffee at https://www.ko-fi.com/medicinefortheresistance.   You can also support the podcast and so much more by going to https://www.patreon.com/PayYourRent.  You can follow Patty on Twitter @gindaanis and at daanis.ca  you can follow Kerry @kerryoscity  and find her online at kerrygoring.com  our theme is fearless.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Barclay for assisting with the transcriptions.

Thanks for listening

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