Excerpts from Commons Conference

Community gathering Tragedy of the Market: from Crisis to Commons took place in Burnaby, Coast Salish Territories last weekend, and featured many Indigenous participants speaking on the various panels.

Left to right: Arthur Manuel, Chandra Melting Tallow, T’Uy’Tanat Cease Wyss, Rod Lightbound, Tantoo Cardinal, Riel Manywounds, Billy Pierre, Unknown (oops our apologies!), Isaac Komalathukizhakkathil Oommen

T’Uy’Tanat Cease Wyss of the Skwxwu7mesh gave a powerful and deeply moving panel presentation. She discussed the importance of fighting to hold onto our rights and land, but emphasized that what will truly keep us alive is learning to live off the land, be respectful and “decolonize our soil from the ground up literally”. The notions of direct action are changing she noted, and keeping things simple is a part of this process, with a special emphasis on listening to our elders. She encouraged the listeners to grow one thing regardless of whether one lives in an apartment or a house, adding that she lives in an apartment, and growing herbs and medicines is what keeps her connected to the earth.

Arthur Manuel spoke on the Defending Land, Water & Future Generations panel noting that despite the fact that the government of BC does not acknowledge section 35 of the constitution regarding Aboriginal title, Christy Clark is clearly aware of its importance since she publicly stated her plans to construct 8 open pit mines by 2015 yet is unable to carry forth these plans without signed consent of Aboriginal peoples. He brought up the point that despite propaganda accusing Aboriginal title of creating “economic uncertainty”, you need only look to an example like the salmon. While in extreme danger 35 million have been expended in an effort to figure out how to save the salmon with no result. He urged that it is time for Canadians to participate and wake up.

Billy Pierre co-founder of Redwire spoke on the urgent issue of children apprehension and the manner in which our women are targeted by child services, mentioning Carrie Laurence who had her daughter taken away last summer. Actress Tanttoo Cardinal attended the conference as well and stressed the importance of not forgetting that our women are targets of violence, and made comparisons of the femicide in Central America.

Riel Manywounds, of the Tsuu Tiina and Nak’azdli Dakelh Nation currently a board member for Redwire spoke on the Media Commons panel alongside Isaac Komalathukizhakkathil Oommen of Vancouver Media Co-op.  Both discussed the changing landscape of media with an emphasis on digital media. Riel spoke of the importance of reconnecting on an intergenerational level and the healing power within the uncensored forum. She also discussed the shift in Redwire since the loss of funding for print to our current website, with the aim of continuing to discuss important issues facing our people, especially the current struggles concerning resource extraction. Isaac spoke on the significance of the digital revolution opening new possibilities in its broad accessibility that transcends social barriers. This was particularly relevant since the largest dissemination of information concerning land defense has been over the internet.

Within the event there were many other Indigenous speakers that gave powerful talks opening up the floor for discourse of a wide variety of subjects. The end of the conference it was noted that there will be only more gatherings in the future of these kinds.

Two interviews with two panelists conducted by Isaac Oommen:

Glen Coulthard on Indignity, Education and Media
Glen Coulthard, an assistant professor in the First Nations Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at UBC speaks about indignity and the commons.

Russell Myers on Williams Lake and Solidarity
Russell Myers speaks about Williams Lake and what solidarity with indigenous struggles looks like.


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Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade

Documentary on T’Uy’Tanat Cease Wyss:

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