Hello and welcome to rabble radio. It’s the week of Friday, December 10. I’m your host and the editor of rabble.ca, Chelsea Nash.
This week on the podcast, rabble contributor Brent Patterson interviews Wet’suwet’en land defenders Eve Saint and Jocelyn, or Jocey, Alec. Eve and Jocey are sisters who have been arrested and criminalized for defending their sovereign territory in northern British Columbia from a fracked gas pipeline being built on those lands without consent.
Eve was arrested by the RCMP on February 7, 2020, at the Gidimt’en checkpoint blockade at the 44-kilometre mark on the Morice River Forest Service Road.
There were 60-100 police officers present, including the Emergency Response Team (ERT), dressed in army green and carrying automatic weapons.
Before she was arrested, Eve said to them:
“This is Wet’suwet’en territory. We are unarmed. We are peaceful. This is unceded territory. This is the territory of Woos. I am his daughter. You are invaders. You are not allowed here. You are not welcome.”
Eve was charged with obstruction of justice and held in custody for four days.
More recently, Jocey was arrested by the RCMP on November 19, 2021, while inside a cabin at Coyote camp near the 63-kilometre mark on the road.
That cabin was built on the Marten Forest Service Road near Morice River to stop Coastal GasLink from drilling under the river to lay the pipe for its pipeline.
Jocey was inside the cabin when the RCMP used an axe and then a chainsaw to tear down its front door as an ERT officer pointed an automatic weapon at those inside. Journalist Michael Toledano filmed this dramatic footage of the assault.
Jocey was charged with civil contempt for breaching the terms of an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink not released from custody until November 23.
Eve has said: “The post-traumatic stress is real. As Indigenous peoples, we don’t like to see these images of our relatives and loved ones being invaded with these colonial forces.”
Take a listen to these two powerful women as they discuss their experiences with Brent.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
This week at rabble, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows just how much higher the risk of contracting COVID-19 is for Indigenous, racialized workers, senior national politics correspondent Karl Nerenberg reports.
The new report does an analysis of jobs that require close physical contact with others and where risk of infection is highest. This includes jobs in health and long-term care, retail and warehousing and food processing. Here, the researchers’ findings are striking. They identify not only a race and ethnicity gap, but also a gender gap.
Indigenous women had the highest share of employment — over 30 percent — in the occupations that ranked as most dangerous and risky due to the physical proximity to others these roles demand. Next were non-Indigenous women at 28 per cent, followed by Indigenous men at 14.6 per cent.
Non-Indigenous men had only a 12.5 per cent share of these dangerous and risky jobs.
Racialized workers held well more than half — 57 per cent — of the jobs that included, to some degree, what the CCPA describes as “close proximity” to others. It is interesting to note that white women worked these jobs at almost as high a rate. On the other hand, a third of racialized men and only 28 per cent of white men worked in such high-risk situations.
Overall, the CCPA notes that:
“the fault lines of the pandemic have been drawn between low-wage and high-wage workers, between women and men, between those who could safely work from home and those who risked infection at work, between Indigenous Peoples and settlers, and between racialized and white Canadians (sic).”
The study also noted that From July 2020 to June 2021, 28 per cent of Indigenous and 31 per cent of racialized households lived with economic insecurity. They lacked adequate funds to pay for basic needs such as food, housing and medicines. For white households, the proportion was much smaller: 16 per cent.
It’s these exact systemic disparities that authors Karen-Marie Elah Perry and Shila Avissa say are being brushed aside in our governments’ ongoing pandemic response. Why are we being asked, they wonder, to return back to “normal” or to build “back,” when “normal” is what got us here in the first place? Why are we being told that the pandemic is over because businesses have reopened meanwhile new variants are spreading rapidly across the globe, and the majority of the Global South is left without access to vaccinations?
“Whether driven by a focus on the economy above the wellbeing of workers, white supremacy’s refusal to acknowledge the pandemic’s ongoing impacts on racialized communities, or toxic masculinity’s tendency to conceal vulnerability and “push through” the emotional pain of the pandemic, gaslighting is culturally systemic,” the authors write.
Also this week:
Writer and land defender Kelly Tatham writes about her decision to divest her personal funds from the Royal Bank of Canada due to its involvement in funding fossil fuel projects like the Coastal Gaslink project currently being pushed without consent through Wet’suwet’en land. There’s absolutely no reason to continue letting the big banks use our savings to bulldoze through Indigenous rights and fund the destruction of the planet. Even if there isn’t enough money in your account to make a measurable difference in fossil fuel project investments, closing your account sends a message and creates a ripple effect, both inspiring others to do the same and empowering you to take on more tangible actions in your day-to-day life, Tatham writes, as she encourages others to take similar action.
Stephen Wentzell reports that Canada has been failing children living in impoverished conditions across the country for decades. At the current rate, childhood poverty won’t be eradicated until the 2070s, according to a recently published report from Campaign 2000. The report concluded Canada has over 1.3 million children living in poverty, making up nearly one in five children. Between 2018 and 2019, just 24,170 children were lifted out of poverty, representing less than one per cent of Canada’s impoverished youth.
That’s it for this week! If you like the show please consider subscribing. Rate, review, share it with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble and your time and effort is invaluable to us. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca, and if you’d really like to support us directly, you can make a donation at rabble.ca/donate. You make indie media happen.
Thanks to our producer Breanne Doyle, to Brent Patterson for contributing this week’s interview, and to Eve Saint and Jocey Alec for coming on the show.
I’m your host Chelsea Nash. Thanks for listening to rabble radio — I’ll talk to you next week for our final episode of 2021.
Photo: Gidimt’en Checkpoint Twitter