Land Defenders


Image courtesy Isaac Murdoch.

This image depicts the  Tiny House Warriors defending their unceded territory against Canadian encroachment.  Kanahus Manuel explains Tiny House Warriors’ position in this interview.

After strong unified resistance from the province, Indigenous nations and environmental groups, Kinder Morgan backed away from the pipeline project for fear of losing investors.  Trudeau then used 4.5 billion Canadian tax dollars to buy the pipeline, with the intent to force it through Secwepemc territory, without the nation’s free, prior and informed consent.  On August 30, 2018 the Federal Court of Appeal halted approval of the pipeline, citing Canada’s failure to adequately consult with the six First Nations who do not approve of this project.

Not far from the Secwepemc resistance, Wet’suwet’en land protectors are defending their territory against the encroachment of pipeline companies. Traditional chiefs advise a different route that will not violate pristine headwaters of the salmon spawning beds but government and company officials do not listen to the Elders’ wisdom.  The Unist’ot’en Healing Camp is an example of a sovereign Indigenous leadership initiative for healing that depends on their ability to protect Wet’suwet’en territory.  Yet settler colonial activities persist.

Historical Thinking Questions

Consider the information above and check out the links provided below to answer the following questions:

CBC Panel on Federal Court Ruling

1.  Identify some key misconceptions about Canadian land and sovereignty expressed by John Ibbitson.  Explain how Ibbitson’s perceptions reflect ideas that have been generally accepted by Canadians throughout Canada’s history, how these ideas have perpetuated colonialism, and why these ideas may not be widely held by Canadians anymore.  (Historical Perspective) 

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance     Autumn Peltier   Glditas Daqvu     Mary Vickers

2.   To what extent have Canadian government officials changed or remained the same in terms of their reaction to Indigenous land defenders over the years?  (Continuity & Change)

3.  How have Indigenous land defenders’ first line of defence (the way they protect their land) remained the same and or changed over the years? (Continuity & Change)

Blockade: A meeting place of law by Shiri Pasternak (p. 32-35)

4.  What motivates Indigenous land protectors to protect the land?  (Historical Significance)

Decolonization: The frontline struggle by Kanahus Manuel (p. 42-46)

5.  What happens to Indigenous land protectors when they protect their territories?  (Cause & Consequence)

Gerald Stanley Acquittal    Peter Khill Acquittal     Pam Palmater’s Analysis 

6.  Compare white settlers’ first line of defence in protecting their property (supported by the Canadian judicial system) to Indigenous land defenders’ methods of defending their territories.  Compare what happens to settlers when they protect their property with what happens to First Nations when they protect their traditional territories.  (Cause & Consequence)

RCAP Vol. 1 (p. 137)         Six Miles Deep          Haldimand Tract

7.  Where should Kitchener and Cambridge residents’ property taxes go to? (Historical Significance)

Recommended Reading: 

Unsettling Canada by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson