The Land Alliance, a powerful coalition of five First Nations in Ontario, has been clear from the start about what they’re fighting for: an end to mining and extraction on unceded Indigenous land without permission.
“Nothing will happen without our free, prior, and informed consent,” Chief Chris Moonias of Neskantaga announced to cheers and applause from the crowd at a rally outside of Queen’s Park in Toronto in late July.
Workers across the province have long had a score to settle with Doug Ford, from his strong-arming of unions and his bills capping public sector wages, all the way to the Greenbelt scandal, with much in between. Tomorrow, busloads of people from across what we colonially now know as Ontario will be marching in the Land Alliance’s “March for the Land” to tell the Ontario government to put a stop to extraction and to respect Indigenous sovereignty. If the settler working class wants to show the government that we’re serious about fighting, we must throw our support behind the Land Alliance and show them that the working class will not be divided.
The bottomless pit of settler colonial capitalism
As even the weakest land acknowledgements will tell you, the Treaties signed by Indigenous nations and settlers that govern the land on which many of us live and work have long been ignored and disrespected by settlers, from their date of signing to this very day. And for all that time, Indigenous nations have been actively fighting settler encroachment, imposition, and domination.
The violation of these agreements is and has always been an intentional move from our settler colonial ruling classes. Capitalism is entirely dependent on private property and the conception of land as a resource, and not as a site of life and sacred meaning. Feeding capitalism – feeding it land and raw materials with which to build settler colonial capitalist empire – requires settlers to have, maintain, and enforce domination over land.
The genocide of Indigenous peoples, including the killing and displacement of people through the RCMP, residential schools, the child “welfare” system, the carceral state, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (including the Manitoba Conservatives running an entire campaign centred around their refusal to search landfills for their bodies), and every other act of settler violence against Indigenous people and nations is part of settler colonial land theft. This violence is not an accident. It is at the rotten core of what settler colonialism has always been about. And as extraction continues on Indigenous lands, it’s plain as day that settler colonialism cannot change its stripes.
Settler colonial capitalism cannot exist without Indigenous genocide. But if we believe in our fight against capitalism – as we do, as we should – then we must believe in our ability, as the settler working class, to fight the ruling classes alongside our Indigenous comrades and tell the settler state that we have no interest in what is being done in our names.
The fight against Ford is the fight for Indigenous sovereignty
Since his election in 2018, scores of workers have been organizing and hitting the streets to oppose Doug Ford. We have marched and rallied against his legal aid cuts, his housing policies, and his cutting and privatization of public healthcare. Thousands descended upon Queen’s Park at an emergency rally to support education workers in 2022, then thousands more came out once the strike officially began. The most recent outpouring of outrage against Ford as his Greenbelt scandal unravelled showed once again that workers have had beyond enough of this bumbling premier who can’t even keep his story straight, much less the province’s affairs.
Most importantly, however, we have seen that when we fight in large enough numbers, we win. The mass show of support and threat of a general strike around education workers got Ford to walk back Bill 28 just as soon as he passed it. Similarly, after a long fight and a renewed surge of public anger, he gave up on his long-standing policy of opening the Greenbelt for development.
Making Ford respect Indigenous sovereignty and renege on his promises to mining companies would be another huge blow to both a government and a system that rely upon extraction-led profiteering and Indigenous genocide. Together with our Indigenous comrades, we can show the world that we will not stand for the theft, destruction, and genocide being carried out by the ruling classes – not just Ford in Ontario, but everywhere, at every level of government, present and future.
Settler colonial capitalism needs land to function. By standing shoulder to shoulder with our Indigenous comrades on the streets, we can help our comrades wrestle the land out of the hands of those who insist upon squeezing it for every drop of oil and blood and put it back in the hands of those who steward and protect it.
The March for the Land is taking place tomorrow at noon at Grange Park in Toronto. For more details, please click here.
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