Organizing committees needed for Indigenous Sovereignty Week


Defenders of the Land, a cross-Canada network of First Nations in land struggle, fighting for indigenous rights, is issuing a call to like-minded indigenous people and groups in communities and cities, as well as non-Native supporters, to cooperate in organizing a cross-Canada week of educational events on indigenous rights and indigenous struggles, from Oct. 25 – 31.

We have in mind that this work will reach different audiences: Indigenous people living in communities, urban indigenous people, and non-indigenous people living in cities and towns. Events may take place on campuses, in community centers, in schools, or other locations.

The purpose of this week is to build local relationships between groups and individuals, disseminate ideas of indigenism, and generally, contribute to building a cross-Canada movement for indigenous rights, self-determination, and justice that is led by indigenous communities, but with a broad base of informed support.

There will be a range of events, including speaking events, cultural or arts events and ceremony where appropriate. Speakers will include activists and leaders of struggles, elders, indigenous intellectuals and supporters.

Based on the direction of the first gathering of Defenders of the Land in Winnipeg last year, the following have been highlighted as questions to bring forward:

Struggles for Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination

• Overview of the history of indigenous organizing;

• Sharing histories and examples of struggle, successes and challenges;

• Hearing from local struggles;

• Current legal frameworks – UNDRIP, Section 35, court rulings; the concept of aboriginal title;

• Who bears indigenous rights? Who determines who is indigenous?

• What does/would indigenous sovereignty look like, practically? What would be the relationship to the Canadian state? What are viable models of cohabitation?

• What is solidarity? How to make solidarity work in a good way, learning from past successes and mistakes. Hearing from specific experiences.

Indigenous Knowledge, Culture and Identity

• The importance of the relationship to the land, living on the land;

• Residential schools and other policies of genocide and their impacts;

• Oral stories and histories;

• The status of indigenous languages;

• The role of ceremony;

• Documenting and maintaining traditional knowledge.

Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

• Environmental racism and environmental justice;

• Impacts of developments on indigenous peoples and cultures – specific examples and campaigns;

• Biodiversity and cultural diversity;

• Traditional understandings of stewardship.

History of Indigenous-Canadian Relations

• The period from contact to the historic treaties;

• The history of the treaties and treaty-making;

• History and impact of the Indian Act;

• What’s wrong with the poverty and service-dollars approach to indigenous issues – the horizontal framework of cradle-to-grave dependency;

• The government’s current agenda: Extinguishment of title, replacement of collective rights with individual rights, cash payouts, and assimilation. How to name this and resist it?

Other elements to include, where possible and appropriate

• Ceremony;

• Drum and song;

• Community feast with traditional foods;

• Indigenous language programming;

• Arts programming;

• Youth-focused programming;

• What does “appropriate” mean in this context? Appropriate means if it is done under the leadership of indigenous people, for indigenous people, involving the participation of mostly indigenous people.

If you are interested in organizing educational events in your community during this week, contact us by e-mail at defendersoftheland@gmail.com. We will establish a list to cooperate on developing and organizing this event.

Communities can plan their own programs according to their needs and capacities – the purpose of a joint organizing list is to share resources and coordinate speakers’ itineraries.

For more information about Defenders of the Land visit the Web site.