LAND, FREEDOM AND DECOLONIZATION COALITION
The Land, Freedom and Decolonization Coalition is a network of groups and individuals in Vancouver including the Native Youth Movement, No One is Illegal, Native Solidarity Network, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Palestine Community Center, Refugees Against Racial Profiling, Anti-Poverty Committee, International Solidarity Movement, Bus Riders Union, Committee for Solidarity with Columbia, South Asian Youth Alliance, Friends and Families for Mexican Political Prisoners and others.
We have been organizing since May 2004 around the front-line struggles of colonized communities with two demonstrations: one on July 1, Canada Day to celebrate our resistance as immigrant/refugee and indigenous communities, and the Convergence against Sun Peaks which took place on Secwepemc Territories on August 29, 2004.
We are currently working on building an Anti-Olympics Coalition. The Olympics, another capitalist project that will bring unquestionable devastation to our communities: the continued theft of native land, the gentrification of Vancouver’s downtown East side, increasing privatization and corporatization of public services especially transit, and exploitation of cheap, temporary migrant labour.
Some members of the LFD Coalition:
Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre: www.skwelkwekwelt.net
The Anti-Poverty Committee: http://apc.resist.ca
The Bus Riders Union: http://bru.resist.ca
Queers United Against Capitalism: http://quak.resist.ca
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy: www.sansad.org
No One Is Illegal: http://noii-van.resist.ca
The Palestine Community Centre: www.palestinecommunitycentre.com
The Native Youth Movement: http://users.resist.ca/~wolvesnotsheep
LAND, FREEDOM, AND DECOLONIZATION
STRUGGLING FOR JUSTICE FOR MIGRANTS AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
(originally UTV editorial)
The Land, Freedom and Decolonization Network brings together individuals and groups directly victimized by Canada's colonial border policies; from the self-organized committee Refugees Against Racial Profiling, to struggles for indigenous sovereignty in Cheam and Skwekwek’welt, we attempt to build genuine links between our diverse struggles for social justice and dignity, between individuals and families seeking a measure of control over their lives and destiny.
Borders, a creation of colonization, are the cartographies of anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggle. As a Chicana protestor declared, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Displacement, migration and race are intertwined phenomenon from the colour-line to the border-line. The majority of displaced throughout the world are indigenous peoples in the settler states or from communities of colour in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Yet when those communities fleeing former colonial regimes in the South manage to make a home in the territories of the North, they continue to remain foreigners as hyphenated citizens, Indo-Canadian, Chinese-Canadian, just never quite Canadian enough.
Today an estimated 150 million people are in migration. And the causes of this migration are intertwined with the imperialist policies of the G8 nations that plunder, displace, and dispossess people from their own lands from Palestine to the Narmada Valley in India to Columbia, and then refuse any semblance of life and dignity to those who can get to the territories of the North. Those colonial forces are the same forces that have caused and continue to perpetuate genocide and dispossession of indigenous peoples within the colonial project of “Canada”.
As bombs drop on Iraq and Afghanistan, the "war on terrorism" will only increase the numbers of people crossing international borders, including the number of people seeking refuge in Canada. And any attempts to halter or criminalize their freedom of movement will not succeed, as migrants will fight back with greater fortitude for their rights to a new life. People continue to cross one of the most heavily armed borders in the world, the US- Mexico border, despite the fact that last year over 400 people died trying to cross the southwestern part of the border. Simultaneously, as the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid causes more devastation to traditional unceded territories and destroys ecosystems that sustain entire communities, indigenous peoples will resist such expansion with all their power and courage.
There has been some tension with left nationalist politics as there is panic about “immigrants stealing jobs” and “Indians taking over the land”. Such hysteria is an attempt to subjugate our communities to remain in ghettoized spaces in the South or on reserves across North America, reinforced by a sense of national entitlement that white people feel to “Canada”. This needs to be challenged with an integrated politics that accounts for the need to end displacement and recognition that nationalism serves the interests of global capitalism. Migrants from former colonial regimes and indigenous peoples are the living reality of corporate globalization and militarization, and as such, they are the human face of our movements and must be honoured.
At the surface of it, it would appear that migration from the global South would deepen dispossession and settlement of indigenous communities. However, displacement is understood as an imperialist and elitist agenda, rather than quantatively. Migrants of colour and indigenous communities in the settler states face similar conditions of unequal citizenship: underrepresented, underpaid, constantly belittled by overt and institutional racism, massively incarcerated, denied equal access to social services, and face gross inequities in income, wealth, and health.
All social movements are essentially about freedom, choice, and self-determination for individuals and communities, and as migrants we have to realize that our struggles will be short-lived if they are gained at the expense of freedom for indigenous peoples; in the same way that indigenous self-determination, as a movement for social justice and autonomy, is not about exclusion. Indigenous peoples of the settler states have waged the longest wars against colonization and dispossession, and the struggles of this land must be respected and central to any social movement in North America.
One response to this reality of global apartheid is to demand charity or reformist approaches to "improving" Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or the Indian Act that accept the colonial control and administration of the territory. Contrary to such approaches, the Land, Freedom and Decolonization campaign sees strength in our unity. Real justice will come as immigrants from former colonial regimes and aboriginal communities continue to build greater trust in visions of an alternate world and organize, educate, act and fight for their collective liberation that lies in the destruction of capitalism and all its vicious institutions.