Some of you might be following my live tweets from the protest at #davidchiarelli. This is a just a quickie blog as I am in the thick of things......
Organizers say there are 17 protesters occupying the INAC [Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada] 8th floor office at the 25 St. Clair office, including a young baby. They plan to be there for the long haul, though food, water, and washroom facilities are limited for now. Police security is pretty tight. I got escorted out.
The protesters occupy the office reception room. The rest of the office space is locked down or closed off by police. There is no water. There are two buckets for a toilet. Lights go off at night, but there is still power. Supplies seem to be sporadic. Food and water deliveries were being stacked outside but could not be brought in as of this evening. At least one of the protesters has been there since 11 am yesterday morning. The police containment strategy strikes me as quite similar to that used against BLM TO Tent City on College St,. earlier his month.
Protesters were gathering outside all day. Lots of drumming and feet stomping was going on, to keep warm, as the crowd grew. The 6:30 rally was bereft of union flags. That's too bad because they could possibly have provided a "think twice" deterrent as the harassment continues. However, the speakers minced no words, and there weren't any pompous airs. It was a very refreshing, grass root, political protest.
In it's simplest terms, the Attawaspiskat's immediate demands are simple, and two fold. They want PM Justin Trudeau to come to Attawaspiskat asap for some meaningful talks, not a PR op. They need community resources now to deal with the youth suicide epidemic. The speakers were not naive. As one noted, they have all ready heard "enough words", a sentiment that earned considerable cheers of support from those gathered where I was standing. I was on the front steps, as the speakers stood with their flag in front of the building doors.
Just a few doors away, pero/ but ....
I note with interest that the OECTA offices are a few doors away. However I didn't see any flags, coffee, no signs of solidarity. The same however, seemed true of the other teacher union affiliates, ETFO and OSSTF who's provincial offices are in downtown Toronto too.
Teachers know about the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Committee] and residential schools. The mass genocide of our indigenous population and theft of their land as we "settled" Canada. The mass suicide epidemic of the Attawapiskat youth, who have given up all hope.
This is happening here, in Canada folks! If it happened anywhere else in the world we'd be outraged, ready to send in the CF-18's to blow everybody up! One hope's the protest will not fall on deaf, teacher, social justice, activist's ears! Attawapiskat is a huge news story of international interest. The whole world is watching. Let's not be hypocrites! We pride ourselves on being a caring people in a a very developed country, whom believe in justice and human rights! Yet, this is happening in our own backyard!?!?
The rally was tonight at 6:00 pm. A group is camped outside overnight in anticipation of a possible police raid. A protester occupying the office told me that they are upstairs in the INAC office for the long haul. Further events have not been scheduled yet.
[Here's a few, with more to follow!]
Twitter accounts @ Attawapiskat and @ INACgroundzero
Attawapiskat declares a state of emergency after 101 suicide attempts @ IndianCountry
Statement by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day @ Chiefs
On the Attawapiskat INAC occupation and their demands, including photos of conditions within the office @ National Post
An interesting backgrounder on the crisis @ Globe
On what the young folk in Attawapiskat have to say @ Buzzfeed
BLM TO in solidarity with Attawapiskat @ CBC
Attawapiskat: isolation and despair @ Globe
Bob Rae writes about indigenous youth and the cycle of despair @ Globe
Attawapiskat Youth: what does the community need? @ Huff