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Our Heritage - Ellen Gabriel
Turtle Clan Member and Indigenous Human rights activist, Gabriel was well-known when she was chosen by the People of the Longhouse and her community of Kanehsatà:ke to be their spokesperson during the 1990 "Oka" Resistance; a 78 day standoff to protect their traditional territories from the expansion of a golf course.
Excerpt, “Untethering colonial rule for Canada’s 150th Birthday”
“Indigenous peoples have been fighting imperialism for centuries, from the free market economy of capitalism to glorification of the “American” or Canadian dream of prosperity. Our ancestors were forcibly removed from our homelands to make room for settlers who in turn created the “reserve” system that took away our security, our languages, our culture and customs. Rich, proud and honorable nations were reduced to wards of the state after the War of 1812.
We were treated as less than human and only a couple of decades ago got access to human rights mechanisms. Even today, people don’t realize that in spite of Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, recognizing “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights,” those rights are not clearly defined. Indigenous peoples have to go through exhaustive court battles to define those rights, and have had to prove “occupancy” of our lands since time immemorial.
There is no other group of peoples who must constantly undergo such scrutiny to obtain justice and have their rights respected…This is evidenced by the sweeping approvals of major industrial projects on Indigenous land without the consent of Indigenous peoples, like the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion or Site C Dam.
Instead we remain at the mercy of municipalities, policing authorities, Canada’s army and its politicians, whose ignorance of Indigenous peoples’ human rights forces us into situations whereby we must fight to defend our lands, and indeed, our very identities. This is the Canada that we, as Indigenous peoples, know.”
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