Indigenous Peoples Solidarity


The road from Kenora to Grassy Narrows twists and turns. Like the story of this First Nations reserve, it has precarious highs and rock bottom lows. Peter points out the spot where one CPT (Christian Peacemaker Team) delegation car left the road to go for a plunge in the lake.

The path across the rise and fall of pre-Cambrian shield through the boreal Whiskey Jack forest was walked long before the European settlers built roads. It was road building that prompted the relocation of the Grassy Narrows band. Their village, on Grassy Lake, was located where commercial interests indicated a roadway trumped indigenous claims.

The lure that attracted them to the pre-fabricated, side-by-side, 612 square foot houses was the offer of electricity, plumbing, and most of all, a school. An alternative to the Residential school was what sealed the deal.

They hadn’t been there long before people started getting sick. It took years of protest before the Ontario and Federal governments acknowledged the problem. A trip to Minamata Japan in 1974 where industrial mercury poisoning had crippled villagers was what convinced the Grassy Narrows people they were suffering the same effects.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Anishinaabe Water Walk in in pictures, videos and tweets

Over the course of one week, dozens of Anishinaabe walkers marched 125 km along the Energy East pipeline route to oppose the tar sands project and protect the water.

Organize by the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence, it called attention to the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed, which would cross Treaty 3 territory to carry 1.1 million barrels per day of oil to the east coast of Canada, endangering dozens of waterways. Over two-dozen walkers started at the Eagle Lake Pow-Wow in Northwestern Ontario, and ended at Shoal Lake in Eastern Manitoba, joined by supporters and allies. The Indigenous grassroots resistance to the Energy East pipeline in Treaty 3 is only the beginning of the growing opposition to the project.

CPT Intern Madeleine Sutherland has put together a stirring account of the walk in pictures, recordings, video and tweets. Click here to take a look.

CPTers have walked alongside the Anishinaabe people of Grassy Narrows since 2002 and were on this walk with them as well.  Help them continue walking in solidarity:

Prayers for Peacemakers August 4, 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers August 4, 2015   Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Pray for the safety of the Anishinaabe Water Walkers who are hiking this week from Eagle Lake to Shoal Lake in Treaty #3 territory to call attention to the danger the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline poses to water systems in the region.

photo: Rae Louise Breaux

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: IPS team supports Anishinaabe Water Walk from Eagle Lake to Shoal Lake, Treaty 3

Push 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen (tar sands oil) from Hardisty, Alberta to St. John, New Brunswick through a 40-year old natural gas pipeline. What could go wrong?

On 3 August Anishinaabe walkers and their allies will begin walking on the eastern edge of Treaty 3 territory at Eagle Lake First Nation and proceeding along Transcanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline to Shoal Lake, Ontario. The five-day walk is planned by the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence (GIWD) to draw attention to the threat TransCanada, Inc project poses to the water and mobilize people in surrounding Anishinaabe communities.

“Transcanada’s pipeline is going through the process of consultation and approvals to push the oil through these lands,” said GIWD organizer and Grassy Narrows First Nation’s environmental advocate, Judy da Silva, at this year’s World Water Day in Kenora, ON. “These are the kind of serious water issues people need to look at in Kenora and in Treaty 3 if they want to keep the water pristine for the future generations.”

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 17, 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

June 17, 2015
Prayers for Peacemakers, June 17, 2015      Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Pray for Canadian institutions to take seriously the ninety-four recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding the atrocities committed against Indigenous people in the residential school system. Give thanks for the healing journey thus far, for the dedication of the survivors, and for the opportunities for genuine reconciliation created by their testimony. 

 *Epixel for Sunday, June 14, 2015
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. Psalm 9:12b
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: IPS team attends Judy Da Silva’s court hearing, reconnects with partners, visits Shooniversity campus


Randy Fobister, Chuck Wright Carrie Peters, and ally Jon Benson 
Photo by IPST intern Aly Ostrowski

May members of IPS team journeyed to Treaty #3 territory of northwestern Ontario to visit friends and partners of the project.  They timed the visit to attend the 14 May hearing about a pre-emptive injunction served to Judy da Silva of Grassy Narrows First Nation following a water ceremony originally planned on Canadian National (CN) Railway tracks running through Grassy territory.  At the request of an Elder, ceremony participants moved the 10 April ritual away from the railroad.  Although a Kenora court dissolved the injunction, da Silva awaits another court hearing on June regarding CN’s lawsuit against her.

While in Grassy, CPT-IPS had the opportunity to visit with a few long-time friends and partners. Local trapper, Shoon, shared about his passion for passing on traditional practices and showed the team a locally produced video entitled titled “Shooniversity,” which documented a workshop he led in the community on tanning hides. The team also hosted Band Councilor Randy Fobister for a pancake breakfast at the local Trapper’s Centre, where he shared about his efforts to assert sovereignty within Grassy territory and mobilize First Nation members, particularly youth, to advocate for protecting of the forest.  â€œWhy would you want to destroy that which makes Grassy strong?” Fobister asked rhetorically. After a few nights in Grassy greeting people and receiving updates, the team returned to Kenora.   

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Aboriginal Justice Team changes its name to Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team


The Christian Peacemaker Aboriginal Justice Team has undergone a transition to a new team name, after much deliberation and discussion. Although the mandate and vision for the team remains the same, the name change represents an effort to maintain currency within Indigenous movements for self-determination, and the team feels Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team better captures the desired scope of its work. The team has floated this change past some of its Indigenous friends and partners who have welcomed it. 

Still in popular use, the term “aboriginal” refers to First Nations, MĂ©tis, and Inuit peoples. However, as Mohawk scholar Taiaike Alfred and Cherokee professor Jeff Corntassel (2005) indicate, while some Indigenous people have embraced this label, “this identity is purely a state construction that is instrumental to the state’s attempt to gradually subsume Indigenous existences into its own constitutional system and body politic” (p. 598). In 2008, the Union of Ontario Indians and later Grand Council of Treaty #3 representing the Anishnaabek passed resolutions and launched a campaign to eliminate the inappropriate use of the term "aboriginal." To many, “aboriginalism is a legal, political and cultural discourse designed to serve an agenda of silent surrender to an inherently unjust relation at the root of the colonial state itself” (Alfred & Corntassel, p. 599). To the chagrin of many First Nations, in 2011 Canada's Conservative government changed the minister and department title responsible for “Indian Affairs” to “Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development,” embodying this discursive tactic. 

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 20, 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 20, 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Give thanks that a judge in Kenora, ON dissolved the injunction calling for the arrest of Grassy Narrows member Judy Da Silva, if she tried to block the CN rail line.  Nevertheless, CN railway is still threatening to sue her.

*Epixel for Sunday, May 17, 2015
photo 2013
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?But if we hope for what we
 do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised Common Lectionary

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 15 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 15 2015 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Pray for the community of Grassy Narrows and Judy Da Silva.  On Friday, April 10, 2015 water protector and Elder, Josephine Mandamin, held a traditional Anishinaabe Water Ceremony on the shores of Wild Lake, near the CN railway mainline between Kenora and Grassy Narrows along with other Grassy Narrows community activists. Despite the fact the group called off a blockade of the railway—which transports toxic tar sands bitumen over local waterways—CN still served Da Silva with an injunction against impeding trains and/or trespassing on CN property, and/or ‘counselling’ others to do the same. The injunction will be before the court on April 16 at 10 a.m. in Kenora.

Anishinaabe water ceremony targeted with injunction

Epixel* for Sunday, April 18, 2015
photo by Alex Hundert

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words,
and seek after lies? Psalm 4:2

 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 18, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 18, 2015

Give thanks for the Grassy Narrows First Nations Members who remain strong in their determination to resist logging on their traditional lands, despite recent court rulings allowing corporate exploitation of these lands.  On 16 March 2015, youth groups, Band Councilors, Drum Groups, Elders and others engaged in protests at the Weyerhaeuser Mill, Kenora Forest Products and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office. 

Photo: Alex Hundert