Students of Colour Montreal (SoCM) honours and respects the Idle No More movement as part of the continuing 500 years of resistance by Indigenous peoples in the colonized Americas. Further, SoCM stands in solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence, Emil Bell and other fasting Elders, honouring the validity of their tactics and demands.
Communities of colour must stand in solidarity as we ourselves reside on Indigenous land. Harper’s Conservative government is expanding a colonial agenda rooted in the exploitation of the lands and the Original Peoples. The welfare of all people and the sustainability of the environment are increasingly overshadowed by the pursuit of the material enrichment of imperialist corporations and the advancement of neo-colonial capitalism. Bill C-45, one of many omnibus budget bills, will drastically change the Indian Act and environmental protection laws in this country. The Harper government’s disregard of the nation-to-nation treaty relationship further entrenches institutionalized White supremacy and strips Indigenous nations of their sovereign rights. The Canadian Government relies on anti-Indigenous racism and the complicity of the settler population to push through these illegitimate pieces of legislation. This continues the genocidal process of elimination through assimilation in the guise of integration – an explicit goal of the Canadian settler state since its inception.
The cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples and the expropriation of Turtle Island’s resources continues to operate on the same patriarchal logic that legitimized the fatal and racist work conditions experienced by various communities of Colour in Canada. Examples include the enslavement of Black and Indigenous peoples, the use of Chinese railroad labourers, and today’s exploitation of temporary workers. Fundamentally, these are linked by a systematic commodification of non-White bodies in the labour and economic market of Canada. This comes at a cost to the environment, the health and safety of our communities, and contributes to the further entrenchment of the white dominant colonial state on stolen Indigenous lands.
We also recognise the role of our non-Indigenous members as settlers. Simultaneously, as racialized people, the historical backgrounds of our communities and diasporas are sprung from colonial rule. For generations, we have experienced firsthand the ravages of colonialism: war, sickness, famine, forced migration, slavery, expropriation, etc. As individuals and communities, we have experienced the indignity and dehumanisation of colonization. It would be myopic of us to ignore the Idle No More movement as separate from our own struggles. However, it remains crucial for People of Colour to understand our participation in Canada’s settler state and to work in solidarity for the decolonization of Indigenous peoples.
Ultimately, Indigenous struggles for the long term survival and well-being of their communities and lands must be the primary concern of every inhabitant of Canadian soil. This movement is beyond Canada and its defined borders: Idle No More is a worldwide challenge to the treatment of Indigenous peoples on colonized lands everywhere. It is a movement grown from the personal experiences of millions (living and passed) not mere political rhetoric or academic discourse.
In solidarity, we promise to be in the streets with you.
Students of Colour Montreal