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Council organizer Rachel Small at #DeedsNotWords in Toronto

Council of Canadians organizer Rachel Small was at the #DeedsNotWords gathering in Toronto today.

Small tells us, “The Toronto action today was amazing! We took over the Yonge-Dundas intersection with a huge round-dance. There were some excellent chants in time to the drum beat, including against Site C, in solidarity with Standing Rock, against Line 9 and Energy East, and ‘Stop Nestle – water is a right!’.”

Global News reports, “Deeds, not words, was the message on Thanksgiving as dozens of Indigenous community groups gathered across the country to call out the Trudeau government for what they say are broken promises. In May 2016, the federal Liberals announced their commitment and obligation to work with Indigenous communities on a range of issues, including natural resource development, land claim disputes and First Nations’ right to self-determination. But many of those gathered in Toronto Monday told Global News the government is not committed to those promises.”

That news report adds, “According to those at the Toronto gathering, they said they will continue to demonstrate and take action with future rallies across the country until the government acts on its words.”

And CBC notes, “Becky Big Canoe, co-founder of Water is Life: Coalition for Water Justice, said while Trudeau has vowed to support Indigenous people across the country, he’s already reneging on some election promises. Big Canoe said the current Liberal government has done little to reverse the environmental legislation of Stephen Harper’s previous government that she sees as damaging. ‘We’ve got little to be thankful for in terms of what’s happening nationally in this country’, she said. ‘The previous government gutted legislation that protected lakes and rivers, waterways in Canada. And so far we haven’t seen Trudeau make any moves towards restoring those protections’, she added.”

The demands being made on the Trudeau government today include:

  • Implement UNDRIP in Canadian law.

  • Clearly indicate it respects Indigenous Peoples’ right to say no to development on their land. (This means Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, not manipulated sham consultations).

  • Stop the Site C dam.

  • Close the funding deficit for First Nations now.

  • Stop pipeline, gas, and oil mega-projects: build green energy, transit, and houses.

  • Introduce a climate plan that respects the 1.5-2 degree temperature target that Canada helped negotiate in Paris. Adopting Harper’s emission reduction targets is a betrayal of that commitment.

  • Fully fund Indigenous-owned and controlled renewable energy projects.

The mercury poisoning of the Grassy Narrows First Nation was also highlighted at the gathering in Toronto. The CBC has explained, “Reed Paper in Dryden, Ont., dumped chemicals in the English-Wabigoon River system in the 1960s and early 1970s, resulting in mercury poisoning among First Nations people who ate fish caught in the area. The contamination closed the commercial fishery that was the foundation of the economy at Grassy Narrows First Nation. With little money and no local grocery store, residents have continued to eat the fish throughout the years.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “After 57 years of devastating contamination of their waters, the people of Grassy Narrows are owed a debt of justice. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that their rights are finally respected and upheld.”

For more on this Indigenous Day of Action, please click here.

#DeedsNotWords #WaterIsLife #EveryLakeEveryRiver