Building solidarity between North American Indigenous peoples and Palestinians

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Image: The image modified for use in this post is used with permission of Indigenous Land Defence Across Borders.

Terri Monture is a Mohawk woman of the Wolf Clan who lives in Toronto and remains very connected with her home community of Six Nations of the Grand River. She is an active trade unionist, and is regularly involved in activities related to land defence, decolonization, anti-racism, and missing and murdered Indigenous women in both Toronto and Six Nations. Scott Neigh interviews her about Indigenous Land Defence Across Borders, a project that is working from an Indigenous feminist perspective to engage in solidarity exchanges in which Indigenous people from Turtle Island and Palestinians visit each other's territories, learn about each other's struggles, and build relationships.

The project began as a conversation between women in the Palestinian community in Toronto and others who are part of No More Silence, a network of Indigenous women working to end the murders, violence, and disappearances faced by Indigenous women in the context of settler colonialism. No More Silence's Audrey Huntley (a guest on Talking Radical Radio back in 2014) had worked with Terri Monture before, and invited her to be involved.

The goal of Indigenous Land Defence Across Borders is growing a "global network for the defence of our lands against colonial confiscation, resource extraction and forced expulsions." Both Indigenous people on this continent and Palestinians face settler colonialism, albeit in different stages and forms, and they hope that by learning from and supporting each other, their respective struggles will be strengthened.

An initial delegation of mostly Indigenous women visited Palestine in July of this year, including Monture as well as her daughter. Monture's daughter is a university student and she is active on her campus in supporting the Palestinian struggle, particularly through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign. The delegation spent a week there, visiting the Palestinian territory of the West Bank as well as Palestinian communities within Israel.

For Monture, the visit drove home how settler colonialism works in similar ways across vastly different times and places. It was particularly stark when they spent time in a community where just three weeks before the Israeli state had bulldozed several Palestinian homes. Being by the wreckage evoked for Monture stories from the history of her own people. In fact, many of the things being done by the Israeli state today in Palestine in terms of home demolitions, land confiscation, regular state violence, and violence and encroachment by settlers vividly evoked for Monture earlier periods of the Haudenosaunee experience of settler colonialism in North America, particularly from the late 1700s to mid 1800s. At the same time, of course, though the context has changed, different forms of very similar harms are still central to settler colonialism in Canada -- from the ongoing need for Indigenous land defence actions across the continent, to the continued targeting of Indigenous women and girls for violence, to the tragic cases just this year in which the Canadian legal system excused the murders of Cree teen Colton Boushie and Haudeosaunee man John Styres by white men.

The trip also involved mutual sharing of experiences of resistance. This included their respective efforts to understand and push back against the gendered and sexual violence that is inherent to settler colonialism. It included, for Monture, visiting an agricultural co-op in the Jordan Valley that was an inspiring example of economic self-sufficiency and presence on the land, which she sees as a promising model for Six Nations to use on land reclaimed by the community in recent years at the so-called "Douglas Creek Estates." It included learning about resistance in the cities of Acca and Haifa, including one instance where Israeli efforts had attempted to take a Palestinian woman's home in order to enable beach-front commercial development, but popular mobilization by the Palestinian community in the city were successful in defending her and keeping her in her home. And it involved Monture and the other women travelling with her offering examples from their own peoples' long histories of resistance.

The next step for the project will be to bring a delegation of Palestinians living in Canada to Six Nations, again for dialogue, learning, and relationship building. A little farther down the road, they hope that some of the women they met in Palestine can also visit, with more solidarity exchanges in both directions envisioned for later on.

Image: The image modified for use in this post is used with permission of Indigenous Land Defence Across Borders.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada, giving you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show check out its website here. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or contact [email protected] to join our weekly email update list.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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