Sisters march in Ontario to support indigenous land rights struggle

We can move forward together and transform our relationship with indigenous lands, resources and cultures, and in turn, our governance, economic stability and democracy, says emprising Toronto-area sister march organized by Indian Women of Windsor.

TORONTO: The non-profit group Sisters on the Move (SOW) and the Workers’ Centre of London, Ontario (WCOL) organized a sister march Friday in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s (WFU) rights struggle against B.C.’s development of the Site C hydroelectric dam project.

The march, held in front of the Ontario legislature, was held in the hopes of learning more about the indigenous rights struggle on the Wet’suwet’en Nation in Canada’s most northern region.

SOW and WCOL are also pushing the provincial government of Ontario to meet with aboriginal communities to learn about the issues affecting their language, traditions and culture.

Photo by Lauren Raznick, SOW

SOW held the event to bring light to the indigenous struggle and to identify more resources to support and encourage more sister marches taking place across Canada.

Maria Bressan is a organizer for SOW and director of operations for the London, Ontario-based Workers’ Centre of London. Bressan said that in the coming weeks and months there will be more and more sister marches planned in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and their struggle.

She said that a sister march for protest movements everywhere would help to raise more awareness about indigenous rights.

“We can move forward together and transform our relationship with indigenous lands, resources and cultures, and in turn, our governance, economic stability and democracy,” Bressan said.

Nancy Johnston-Kelleher, a member of the London, Ontario-based WOW Music Choir, participated in the march to learn more about the battle being waged by the WFU to protect their land and natural resources.

Johnston-Kelleher said she was unaware of the role that WOGAF (The Wet’suwet’en Environmental Defence) was playing in opposing the B.C. dam until she learned of the march Friday.

“I think it’s imperative that we educate ourselves and that we’re learning more about it and how we can support the Wet’suwet’en [while they’re fighting against the development of the dam] and try to help with all kinds of issues in the community. And everybody has a common cause and all people should be fighting it together,” she said.

WETSUWET’EN water protector Oella Lion said that Wet’suwet’en were called the ancestors and savages who took the land and wetlands of BC, and that all of us need to care for these waters and their history and their values.

“We must raise the voice [against the dam],” she said. “Our sovereignty must be protected and we will continue to do our best to do so.”

Lion and many of the WU water protector members are members of the London, Ontario-based Babine Forest Protectors. The two sister marches held today were the second and third events organised by WU this week as it continues to fight to protect its traditional lands from Site C.

On Sunday, over 250 WU members held a larger water protector memorial march in Victoria, B.C.

According to WU, the dam project has caused tremendous contamination in the old natural territories of the region.

“The size and scale of the project cannot go forward without causing catastrophic ecological devastation in this unique ecosystem,” the organization said in a press release.

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