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  • Stacey

1492 Land Back Lane

Much of what the media has portrayed of 1492 Land Back Lane, has been simplified and shallowed — we see "yet another" blockade and police striking with force. We hear background mutterings of land claims and traditional land. This leads many non-Indigenous peoples to roll their eyes and turn their heads.

This is the story for many land defenders.

Those who call themselves Canadians seem to think this is outside of their story and something that is just on-going background noise. When it is actually a centuries old story, that has not stopped being told in current times. It is about alliances made and broken, treaties negotiated and being dishonoured, colonization and genocide, capitalism, patriarchy and the continued disrespect and silencing of Indigenous peoples across this land.

This dispute starts with the Haldimand Treaty of 1784. The Haudenosaunee had lost land during the American Revolution due to their allyship with the British Army. Because of this, the Quebec governor at the time "gifted" lands through Treaty — or so the Haudenosaunee were led to believe. In reality, between racist legislation such as the Indian Act and desire on the government’s part to populate the area with white settlers, this Treaty, like all colonial treaties on this land, was broken. No enforcement was made to keep Haudenosaunee land settler free and Indian Agents falsified agreements that were never made.

"In 1841, Indian agent Samuel P. Jarvis allegedly brokered a surrender of land along the Plank Road (now Highway 6 outside Caledonia) with several Six Nations officials. While the surrender was immediately disputed by Six Nations leadership — and still is — the Crown honoured it. Land Back Lane sits on some of the disputed territory." (Chandler, 2021)

This land was stolen through Imperialism and then stolen again and again for over 200 years, and yet, these land defenders are often criticized as unreasonable.

So now, we take a look at today, where Haudonosaunee warriors hold their ground and defend their land. This land is being lived on by the rightful guardians of this place, but a housing development seems to take precedence over the land and the Haudenosaunee people. Many have stated that the Indian Act elected chief and council has approved the McKenzie Meadows building development. If we look across turtle island, this is an ongoing issue. This issue is complex and has many layers, but one aspect to be very aware of, is that elected chief and council only have jurisdiction over reserve land - all other unceded lands fall under the guardianship of elders and hereditary leaders.

This argument against all land defenders needs to simply STOP - it is inaccurate and diminishes the work of land protectors. It is also a very complex issue that if you don’t understand, you need to just back off! Listen. Learn. Educate.

We at Inclusive Canada stand with 1492 Land Back Lane.

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