By Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, Jan 23, 2012
The American Indian Movement is in the final stages of sanctioning a chapter in Winnipeg that is prepared for “direct” action to extract “justice” from Canada, members said Tuesday.
During a small press conference at the Marlborough Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, former Roseau River First Nation chief Terry Nelson and a group of seven people, some wearing AIM t-shirts, said the time for round dances had passed.
“We round danced, but we didn’t get any results. We want results, that is what we want and there is a thousand more people like us willing to stand up,” said Blackwolf Hart-Bellecourt, whose father Vernon Bellecourt was one of the co-founders of AIM.
Hart-Bellecourt said AIM has always been present, but not visible and that’s about to change.
“AIM has never been idle, we have always been here, our culture is strong,” he said.
“We are committed to action,” said Kylo Prince, another member, from Long Plain First Nation which is near the scene of last Wednesday’s rail blockade.
“These cars I see go my place on the CN tracks, I don’t see oil in them, I see the blood of my ancestors driving by, stolen from the ground of mother earth,” said another member known as Indian Ozzy
Prince said the chapter is going through “certain steps” to get sanctioned and still needs final approval from AIM’s grand governing council.
Several of the fledgling AIM Winnipeg chapter’s members and Nelson, who is also vice-chairman of AIM, were involved in last Wednesday’s temporary rail blockade. They are now girding to fight CN rail in court over the action. CN obtained a court injunction against the blockade last Tuesday evening and served the blockaders the next day.
“We are saying very clearly, we will answer the injunction and we will ensure that our side is told in the court and we have no illusions about the court. There courts in Canada are not about justice, but about the law…The immigrant court was established by the immigrant government and must follow immigrant laws passed by the immigrant government,” said Nelson. “We as Indigenous people are clear that the only one trespasser that is here…is CN who trespassed on our lands.”
Nelson, who doesn’t usually mince words, said the pressure is going to continue to mount against Canada’s economic arteries unless the Conservative government finally comes to the table and acknowledges First Nations people are the rightful owners to the lands in Canada.
“Our rights don’t come from treaty, our rights come from the fact we are the Indigenous people, we are the owners of the land,” said Nelson. “The treaty is where the immigrant gets their rights, not us.”
Nelson warned of looming escalation.
“A lot of the people here, in their communities, there is 60 to 95 per cent unemployment, so we don’t have a hell of a lot to lose if we end up in a fight with Canada,” said Nelson.
Prince said the battle is on now for survival.
“It’s about a fight for survival, not just for us, but for everybody,” he said. “We have to protect the land, we have to protect the water, for our descendants, for the next seven generations and their seven generations after that.”
Canada has faced at least seven rail blockades over the last several weeks. Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia have all seen rail blockades stop train traffic.