The aboriginal activist group Defenders of the Land is launching its third annual Indigenous Sovereignty Week, several days of disseminating information and celebrating victories over the past year, from November 14–20.
Defenders of the Land, which calls itself “a network of First Nations in land struggle,” is calling on communities and their supporters to reflect on a successful year of standing up to industrial development and political land grabs, while discussing “how best to organize against the threat to Indigenous Peoples posed by Harper’s anti-Indigenous rights agenda,” the group said in a release.
The goal of Indigenous Sovereignty Week is to build local relationships, explain the logic of “Indigenism” and work on uniting Canada in a movement to strengthen indigenous rights, “led by Indigenous communities but with a broad base of informed support,” the release said. Among the victories of the past year: Cartier Resources’ decision to hold back on mining exploration on the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake; the court victory that Grassy Narrows First Nation won against loggers who wanted to clear-cut their territory, infringing on their treaty harvesting rights; Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation’s 96 percent vote to reject industrial development in the Big Trout Lake watershed, as well as specify a protocol for obtaining consent for industrial development outside the watershed; the scuttling of the Prosperity Mine by the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, saving Little Fish Lake; and the “major role” that aboriginals had played in protecting their communities from further development in the Alberta oil sands, especially when it came to the postponement of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The week promises a range of events, the organizers said in a release, including speaking events, bush trips, cultural or arts events, and the occasional ceremony. Speakers will include activists and leaders of local and national struggles, elders, Indigenous intellectuals, and supporters, Defenders of the Land said. Activities are taking place all over, including Toronto and Edmonton.