Yes, Christine Blatchford has the free speech to voice her opinion on First Nations issues in Caledonia.
BUT do you want to hear the good news? So can you!
Here are the deets:
Christie Blatchford to read at Woodsworth College, 119 St. George Street. Special author reading and book signing event.
Join noted Globe and Mail columnist and reporter for a reading and discussion of her new book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy and How the Law Failed All of Us.
When: Monday, March 14, 2011, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, 119 St. George Street
Cost: $10 alumni/$12 guests (registration required)
Light refreshments will be served.Books will be available for sale.
A letter by the First Nations Solidarity Working Group:
Dear Concerned Members of the Community:
On March 14, 2011, at 6:00 p.m., anti-Native journalist from the Globe and Mail Christie Blatchford will be reading from her new book: Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us at the invitation of Woodsworth College, University of Toronto.
In her book Blatchford chronicles the events starting in 2006 at Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia where the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) people of the Grand River reclaimed land that has been in dispute for over 150 years.
In the years, months and days leading up to the reclamation, and for more than a century, Six Nations people have educated, warned and entreated governments and residents to resolve the unlawful development of their land.
Drawing upon some centuries-old colonial and racist tropes, Blatchford portrays Six Nations people, who were compelled to respond to the continual corporate development and theft of their land, as “criminals.”
Ignoring the rampant anti-Native rallies that became weekly occurrences in the early part of the crisis, where police were often stretched to their limits controlling the crowds who chanted around barrels of fire “burn natives burn,” Blatchford champions white Caledonia residents as hero-victims, rendered helpless and traumatized by “native lawlessness.”
Christie Blatchford does not speak for Caledonia. The residents of Caledonia hold a variety of diverse opinions, and certainly not all of them asked to be portrayed as “helpless” by an irresponsible journalist.
Blatchford is in close contact with leading anti-Native organizers in south-western Ontario and her coverage of the Caledonia Crisis has been compared to, “a zombie movie. The Six Nations get to be the undead.”
Blatchford conveniently and very actively erases the fact that between 1951 and 2006, Six Nations has filed 29 land claims recognized as legitimate by the Canadian government, and out of which only one claim has been resolved.
Equally important, Blatchford ignores the colonial context of the violences of residential schools (behind the former Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Six Nations children who did not survive the violences were buried), the massive incarceration of Aboriginal peoples, deaths in police custody, the Indian Act, over 800 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and other outside-imposed governance structures under which Six Nations peoples have been living and surviving for centuries.
Today, the current Six Nations land base represents only 5% of the 950,000 acres outlined in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 as their sovereign territory. Blatchford says her book is not about “aboriginal land claims,” but “the failure of government to govern and to protect all its citizens equally.”
Blatchford is thus reproducing the colonial logic of erasing the histories and present context of violence done to Indigenous nations and peoples. This erasure does not belong to Blatchford alone; mainstream media accounts of the reclamation have been largely distorted with sensationalistic accounts that portray Caledonia as an ongoing warzone.
We as part of the student body at U of T, York and/or other concerned members of the academic and activist communities request that you come join us in a non-violent protest outside Woodsworth College, 119 St. George Street at 5 p.m. where we will be holding signs and distributing educational literature to people attending her talk.
We are hosting this protest in the spirit of holding our university, and Canadian educational institutions at large, accountable for hosting authors/speakers and other events where colonial, racist, sexist, homophobic, Zionist and Islamophobic discussion happen with impunity.
We will stand outside Woodsworth to protest the fact that the discourse of academic freedom is often mobilized to legitimize these colonial and racist talks and to silence Indigenous people and other people who live in precarious positions given their differential belongings to the Canadian nation-state and whose lives are affected by the policy changes and discussions which take place within these academic settings and in which they have little or no say.
More importantly, given the context of Blatchford’s work, we will protest her talk because members of First Nations Solidarity Working Group consider it as an integral part of our settler responsibilities to hold whites and other settlers accountable and respond to racist and savaged representations of people of Six Nations and other Indigenous nations.
We request that you join us in this peaceful protest and keep your calm even if and when provoked. The purpose of staging this protest is NOT TO shut down Christie Blatchford’s speech or to create any impediments to her talk.
Our goal is to encourage people attending her talk to listen carefully and ask her important questions about colonialism, violence done to people of Six Nations and demand that she respond to questions about land rights of people of Six Nations and upholding treaties with Six Nations.
If you feel that you are not willing or able to talk to the people on the street about the issues with Blatchford’s book and the context, please feel free to refer them to members of FNSWG who will be able to provide more information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected]
In solidarity and struggle,
FNSWG (First Nations Solidarity Working Group)