Occupied Canada: Indigenous & Black Lives Matter Activists Unite to Protest Violence & Neglect

Last month, First Nations people occupied the offices of Canada’s indigenous affairs department to demand action over suicides as well as water and housing crises in their communities. The protests came after the Cree community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over attempted suicides. Protesters set up occupations inside and outside the offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in Toronto, Regina, Winnipeg and Gatineau, Quebec. Among those who took part in the occupation of the office here in Toronto were local Black Lives Matter activists who just weeks earlier had launched a 15-day encampment outside police headquarters following news there would be no criminal charges for the police officer who fatally shot a South Sudanese refugee named Andrew Loku last July. Among those who turned out in force at the encampment outside Toronto police headquarters were First Nations activists. We are joined by Erica Violet Lee an indigenous rights activist with the Idle No More movement and a student at the University of Saskatchewan; Hayden King, an indigenous writer and lecturer at Carleton University’s School of Public Policy in Ottawa; LeRoi Newbold, a member of the steering committee for Black Lives Matter Toronto and director of the Black Lives Matter Toronto Freedom School Project; and Desmond Cole, a journalist and columnist for the Toronto Star and radio host on Newstalk 1010.


Broadcasting from Toronto, Canada, Democracy Now! also looked at how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized this week for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in which Canada turned away a Japanese steamship in order to prevent more than 370 Indians, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, from immigrating to the country. The move was widely acknowledged to be aimed at keeping Indians out of Canada. Then premier of British Columbia, Sir Richard McBride, said at the time, "And we always have in mind the necessity of keeping this a white man’s country." We feature excerpts from the award-winning documentary on the Komagata Maru incident, "Continuous Journey," and speak with its director, Ali Kazimi, who is also author of the book, "Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru." Kazimi also discusses Canada’s current practice of detaining asylum seekers after a string of deaths inside detention centers.

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