April 18, 2018 — As we arrived for our court date in the ongoing battle of the people vs Kinder Morgan, Justin Trudeau and the rest we were greeted by the cadence-like movement of of Will George’s characteristic feathered head dress. He was accompanied by a circle of drummers and participants in dancing the words and prayers of his ancestors.
Today, it was in honour of those of us attending court. Their voices and rhythm filled the concrete tunnel linking Vancouver’s Smithe Street Law Courts entrance despite the sound and fumes of the passing cars. The vibration even through the concrete was powerful.
What a difference then walking through the door and confronting the black and white costumed legal bees buzzing throughout the first floor of the Supreme Courthouse and all the way up to Courtroom 55 where the drawn-out proceedings of the Canadian Legal system were shown to be as confusing as ever.
During the approximate three hours in the courtroom the court was silenced twice, at separate intervals, by two Indigenous people who took space in the court to berate the Canadian legal system for its unfairness in daring to seek punishments and to criminalize people who are fighting to save the land and the water and who are acknowledging the principle and the law of free, prior and informed consent required in the use of Indigenous held lands. There were no media reports either of the morning greeting nor the episodes of drama in the courtroom.
Those two courtroom episodes, (I apologize for not being able to credit them personally) stopped the court in its tracks. There was silence as each of those people spoke of long term injustice and growing strength in the face of it. One spoke in her Heiltsuk language. The other speaker presented with the power that comes from centuries of resistance.
And they gave rise to searing applause and shouts of support from the hundreds in the room who are in the process of submitting to the harsh reality of a legal system that does not accept dissent in any meaningful way! The judge listened without cautioning or commenting.
But none of the above was deemed to be news by mainstream BC or Canadian media.
But what was the news media highlight of the day?. CBC and other news outlets shouted from the roof tops that Angus Reid that “trustworthy” pollster owned by “no” corporate interests, they say, has stated that based on their most recent on-line poll it’s clear that British Columbians want the pipeline to go ahead. That was the a.m. news and nothing changed about the top story all day. While callers to the noon-hour BC Almanac mostly berated the polling results and questioned the notion that so much credence is given to polls, the methodology and outcomes and issues reported from the poll were credited as fair by host Angela Sterritt.
But in, fact no other activities, no counter polls, hardly a mention of the complex sovereign ownership of the land and sea complete with wildlife and resources that are threatened were counted or reviewed by Angus Reid. No discussion of free, prior and informed consent related to Indigenous People’s rights.
So today a group of primarily settler resistors, in the courtroom, backed by some powerful Indigenous voices both inside and outside were, once again, ignored by Canadian mainstream media.
For resisting settlers, it is not so much a brand new experience as a reminder of how long Indigenous Communities in this country some of us call Canada have been resisting. It is a lesson in time.
Time flies, they say, when you are having fun. The time, for Indigenous sovereignty, respect and learning exactly what those will mean for all who live in this territory, has come! It is not fun to be in a constant battle over truth and only truth can lead to healing in this territory.
Its up to every one of us, settlers in particular, to both change and ignore those polls and join the resistance in forceful but peaceful resistance.