Free speech has become a game. Being an activist for several years now I have found that free speech is really just a myth. Sure, you have folks spouting about gay marriage, health care, abortion, women’s rights and the environment but when it comes to native rights we are the ones who get arrested and thrown in jail.
How is fighting to protect your small piece of land from developers any different from speaking out against stem cell research? The answer, big business!
Flags in Caledonia
Let’s kid not ourselves folks, protesting can only go so far. Just ask the Mohawk in Caledonia Ontario who have been blocking passage to a work site since February 28th 2006 because of ongoing land disputes.
Like Caledonia there have been many disputes regarding the First Nations vs the government and big business. In 1990, during the Oka crisis when the town of Oka tried to extend the golf course by going through a graveyard, the Mohawk spoke out and years of pent up frustration came out. In the end, though, they lost against public opinion, poor media coverage and a government determined to hide the fact their policies have done way more harm than good!
There are a few subjects that are strictly taboo to speak out against, them being the First Nations, the Israeli conflict and big business. If you are against the Israeli government for what it has done to the Palestinians then your branded an anti Semite because you’re not allowed to do that.
It’s the same thing with big business. Take a map of all the deforestation, mining and oil drilling in Canada then take a map of all the First Nation reserves and you will see how they practically line up. Yet when we speak out against this we are arrested and thrown in jail.
You see big corporations run the government. They lobby the government over jobs, saying that they need to drill or mine or cut down this forest in order to help the economy. What they don’t mention is the devastation they leave in their wake and when I say devastation I mean bad water, poisoned land and death.
Tar Sands impact on the First Nations
The folks of Fort Chipewan near Alberta’s Tar Sands have been experiencing a spike in rare cancers that can only be explained the toxic damage caused by the tar sands. Though big business had said that there is no reason to suspect the tar sands independent research has suggested that they are to blame.
So how do we fight the hypocrisy in our country? How do we fight the insurmountable odds facing our communities?
How do we win the PR war?