past Projects

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DECOLONIZE YOURSELF: CELEBRATE AND LEARN ABOUT INDIGENOUS HISTORY

A land acknowledgement is not enough.

"When I was little, I loved celebrating Canada Day. My parents would help me put temporary maple leaf tattoos on my hands on arms, sometimes on my cheek [...] I never thought about what it might feel like for [people] to see fireworks celebrating the establishment of a country that resulted in their genocide." - Maija Kappler

The celebration of days such as Canada Day reinforce colonial traditions and are rooted in discriminatory actions. Instead, take the time to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse culture, and outstanding contributions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. For instance, learn the significance of storytelling and potlatches to Indigenous culture, celebrate Indigenous art and artists such as Buffy Sainte-Marie and Ray Henry Vickers, and learn about the Indigenous origins of lacrosse.

While enjoying Indigenous cultures and contributions, we ask you to ensure that you educate yourself on colonial impacts on Indigenous peoples and their cultures, and reflect on how colonial violence and control remain deeply ingrained in Canadian institutions and societies. If you are surprised while exploring Indigenous culture and history, ask yourself why.

Ignorance breeds racism and violence, and this ignorance is not accidental. If you're like us, you were taught the history of the colonizers and oppressors as students. We were taught that individuals like Jacques Cartier, who established the first sustained colony in Stadacona (present day settler city of Quebec City), are to be celebrated for 'conquering' and 'exploring' the land. No one told us how those same individuals violated Indigenous culture. Cartier himself supposedly several kidnapped Indigenous individuals, including Chief Donnacona of the Stadaconian Nation, to take back to France, never to be allowed to return home.

Colonial ideologies continue to run rampant, and Indigenous peoples continue to be consistently disrespected to this day. The deeply-rooted nature of this issue means that there are a multitude of systemic and social factors at play, and there is no easy path to justice and sovereignty. To work towards sovereignty and justice as adults, we must take time to learn how to decolonize ourselves together and learn the history of the oppressed. Commit to educating yourself on the history of colonization; teach yourself what you don't know and un-learn the myths that you have been conditioned to believe and praise. By educating yourself, you fight against the perpetuation of colonial ideologies.

Remember: Silence fuels colonialism. Speak out about what you learn. If you see injustice, call it out.

ECHO Canada calls for actions beyond tolerance and reconciliation. To find resources and learn more, check out our statement and collected resources here.

BLACK LIVES MATTER/ANTI-RACISM PROTESTS

Know your past, critique your present, and fight for your future.

Please check back for our full statement.

PRIDE MONTH: STANDING UP FOR BASIC RIGHTS

[Photo shows Marsha P. Johnson (left) and Sylvia Rivera (right) at the New York City's 1973 Gay Pride Parade. Source: Leonard Fink, courtesy LGBT Community Center National History Archive]
[Photo shows Marsha P. Johnson (left) and Sylvia Rivera (right) at the New York City's 1973 Gay Pride Parade. Source: Leonard Fink, courtesy LGBT Community Center National History Archive]

This June, we must stand with one another. Show up for one another.

Respect for and support of the current Black Lives Matter protests accompany the recognition and celebration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. And vice versa.

We celebrate Pride Month because American gay liberation activists Marsha P. Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, and numerous other members of the LGBTQIA2+ community had the courage to stand up for their rights, the strength ot fight back against discriminatory police brutality, and the support to ignite the modern LGBTQIA2+ movement.

On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village and a gathering place for young members of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community. Apprehended patrons resisted their arrest and bystanders began throwing items at police officers. Neighbourhood riots broke out and last for six days.

In his article 'What Made Stonewall Different', David Carter writes that "Compared to earlier events [those of the gay rights movement], Stonewall was of a different order: it was the only sustained uprising, lasting six days; it was the only one that involved thousands of people; it was the only one that got much media coverage..."

On June 28, 1970, Christopher Street Liberation Day marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the first Pride Parade in American history.

Pride Month honours an uprising against police violence and discrimination. From the Stonewall Riots came the beginnings of the modern LGBTQIA2+ movement - the formation of organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance.

"Active anti-racism doesn't end when the riots end. Anti-racism is a mindful, constant, uncomfortable, ongoing practice - one that must continue even and especially when we enter queer spaces." - Joseph Zita (@josephzita)

SOLIDARITY WITH THE WET'SUWET'EN PEOPLE

[Photo shows Wet'suwet'en rail blockage in Toronto. Source: Megan Devlin, courtesy of Shutterstock]

Colonialism seems like a word of the past, as something taught to us in grade school history classes (from the perspectives of those who colonized the land). We are often left praising colonizers while outspoken individuals who fight for the rights of their people, those similar in character to Louis Riel, are dismissed as rebels. When we are finally made aware of the unfavourable truths of our colonial history, colonialism is referred to as a thing of the past — not applicable to the current status of our seemingly globalized, multicultural world. The historically oppressed have more rights now, so what’s the problem? Unfortunately, colonialism is present, alive, and well, with its effects reaching farther than they superficially appear.

Recently, the true threat of persistent colonialism hegemony has been on full display. On February 6, 2020, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) enforced an injunction granted by British Columbia’s Supreme Court to TC Energy, the company behind the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project, to clear unceded Wet’suwet’en traditional land. Militarized police armed with dogs, night vision, and automatic weapons conducted an early-morning raid and arrested six land defenders from the Unist’ot’en Camp. It has been reported that the tents occupied by the individuals arrested were not in violation of the injunction area[1]. Subsequently, protests have broken out throughout the nation in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people.

Given that eight hereditary chiefs have opposed the pipeline and thus no consensus has been achieved from the people who hold the title to the land, it has been suggested that the Government of Canada is ignoring the precedent set by its own courts for the use of unceded territory while continuing its denial of Indigenous rights, and that the Province of British Columbia and TC Energy have not done their due diligence in consulting or working with the Indigenous people most directly affected by the establishment of the CGL pipeline.

The fundamental issue here, as we see it, is the infringement on Indigenous rights and a continued disrespect for Indigenous rights. Silence fuels colonialism. By standing up for Indigenous rights, we fight back against the perpetuation of colonial ideologies.

To join us in supporting the Wet'suwet'en people, check out our statement here.

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