Statement from (former!) Toronto Defendants on the ongoing #ShutDownCanada Repression

From Blockade Defense

Over a year has passed since the initial wave of #ShutDownCanada actions. This wave included protests, blockades, occupations, and disruptions held in support of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, actions which garnered a broad amount of coverage and public support.

We the undersigned were amongst the dozen or so arrested on February 26, 2020, at a #ShutDownCanada blockade staged in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en and the arrestees at the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory. Months later, our charges were withdrawn without us having to offer any concessions to the state, which we believe is a tacit acknowledgement that those charges were groundless to begin with. We were amongst 150 others arrested at different actions during this period.

There remains over 60 land defenders and supporters across several provinces facing criminal charges for their participation in the 2020 blockades. Historically, criminal charges have always been doled out more punitively against Indigenous defendants by the racist, settler-colonial state. This includes twenty-eight defendants from Tyendinaga being charged after they faced a violent raid from the OPP. This also includes six defendants from Hamilton being charged for their participation at a rail blockade very similar to the one we were arrested at. That their court cases are ongoing and ours are resolved only speaks to how arbitrary and punitive this legal system is. It is a system designed to criminalize and suppress any form of opposition towards its regime of colonialism and extractive capital.

In the time since winter 2020 and now, media and public attention has understandably drifted away from these events and their participants, but violence, harassment, displacement, surveillance and suppression continue to be carried out by the Ontario Provisional Police, the RCMP and the legal system. It is imperative that we not look away. We urge supporters to offer solidarity and material support to those defending themselves in court cases against this oppressive legal system, and all those fighting the colonial state.

In solidarity,

A dozen former blockade defendants

Blockade Defense: Website launched to support #ShutDownCanada defendants

New website project compiling information and solidarity initiatives related to the ongoing charges from the Shut Down Canada blockades from winter 2020.

https://dropthecharges.ca

There are currently at least sixty people still facing serious criminal charges from the 2019 and 2020 raids on Wet’suwet’en territory and the solidarity movement known as Shut Down Canada. Dealing with criminal charges is often an isolating and scary experience, especially when the legal system intentionally tries to make people feel alone and powerless. We think a support campaign is the best way we can fight back against these forces and show the state that we will not allow our friends and comrades to be criminalized. If we can support one another now, then we can support one another in all the struggles to come.

More than avoiding repression, what matters is how we deal with it. We need to always be finding ways to show those targeted they are not alone — this makes it easier for them to get through it with strength and integrity. As people move through the justice system, displays of solidarity and practical support make a real difference in the outcome. We need to show that those who are brave and take risks will be supported if we want to be brave together again in the future and see our movements grow.

We want to provide a space where defendants can write about their experiences with repression and criminalization, statements of solidarity, and updates about the charges, which will be posted on our Updates section.

We want to help defendants to fund raise for their legal battles, where we provide links to different defendants and communities’ GoFundMe pages.

We want to help defendants feel more supported in the incredibly isolating process of state criminalization, and are offering a PO box where letters of support, postcards, and zines can be sent, which we we then forward to defendants.

And, finally, we want to create an email campaign to pressure for charges to be dropped or for prominent figures to publicly support charges being dropped. We have created a basic sample template for a (polite) email, and a list of talking points that defendants have given us, and compiled a list of emails for it to be sent to.

Please share this campaign on your various data-mining surveillance platforms and use the hashtag #BlockadeDefense

Wet’suwet’en territory: #ShutDownCanada Anti-Repression Posters Up

Anonymous submission to North Shore. Posters and details of the charges here

A few shots taken a week or two after an experimental exercise in the quaint little picturesque mountain town of Smithers (glad to see most of the posters stayed up!). This little hamlet/colony happens to be located in one of two yintah’s (territories) of the Cas Yikh (Grizzly Bear) – part of the Gidumten Clan of the Wetsuweten – the other Cas Yikh yintah is where the Gidumt’en Checkpoint kicked of the “shutdowncanada” movement with two years of winter blockades.

A very small gesture among gestures. Its super easy way to express a little bit of solidarity with those facing repression from the state for their brave efforts resisting industrial expansion and indigenous genocide. For wheat paste just throw some boiling water into a bucket and whisk in some flour (maybe a little sugar for good measure), grab a brush and you’re good to go. A great excuse to go for a nice stroll with a hot beverage of your choice; have a laugh with a friend or a few (perhaps explore affinities and/or hatch some plans for further action).

After a Winter of Blockades: Updates on criminal charges from #ShutDownCanada (en/fr)

Le français suit l’anglais

After a Winter of Blockades: Updates on criminal charges from #ShutDownCanada

8.5 x 11 pdf poster file for printing or sharing!

It’s been almost a year since the wave of blockades in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders known as Shut Down Canada. Since then, there has been no shortage of urgent issues, and public attention has moved on. However, for both those on the front lines and those still facing charges,  moving on has not been an option.

There are currently at least sixty people still facing serious criminal charges from the raids on Wet’suwet’en territory and the solidarity movement. These actions involved thousands of people in every province of the country, and it’s impossible to describe them briefly, but here are a few aspects:

In January 2020, solidarity actions began as the RCMP prepared their latest offensive against the decade-long reclamation of Wet’suwet’en territory. When the raid started in earnest in early February, Mohawks at Tyendinaga launched a rail blockade shutting down traffic between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Rail disruption immediately became the preferred tactic for the movement and in the coming weeks, long-term, Indigenous-led blockades occurred as well in Kahnawake, Listuguj, Six Nations and New Hazelton. Shorter (and sometimes repeat) blockades happened in Halifax, Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver, Magnetewan, Coquitlam, Hamilton, Morris, Saint-Pascal, Edmonton, Saint-Lambert, Kamloops, Saskatoon, Elsipogtog, Saguenay, and across the border in Washington state. Demonstrations and road blockades occurred in many places as well.

From that massive mobilization, twenty-eight people from Tyendinaga Mohawk territory are still fighting charges, following the OPP’s attack on their community. The next largest group of defendants is from a blockade outside of Sherbrooke, Quebec, where some fifteen people are waiting for trial. In Hamilton, Ontario, six people are each facing four counts of indictable mischief for a 24 hour rail blockade. In the Bas-Saint-Laurent, one person stil has charges from a rail disruption and two people in Montreal have mischief charges for alleged graffiti.

During the previous winter, in January 2019, there was also a violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory. Although the solidarity mobilization was smaller, it still saw significant demos, occupations, and blockades across the country, and these too were met with repression.

Two people who were present at the blockades on Wet’suwet’en territory during the 2019 raid still have assault police charges. In Hamilton, one person is charged for alleged vandalism at an RCMP detachment. In Montreal, six people are still dealing with charges connected to the blockade of the Jacques Cartier bridge.

Nearly a hundred and fifty people were arrested during these two years of struggle. Many were released without charge, others simply got tickets. Some of the criminal charges laid have resolved. For instance this fall, twelve people charged from a rail blockade in Toronto saw their charges withdrawn, two in Vancouver received discharges, and all charges were dropped against those arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory during the raid last February (though the RCMP report their investigation is ongoing).

That more charges are resolving is certainly good news, however we also need to be cautious. The legal system drops charges against some in order to isolate and delegtimize others. Even as we celebrate, we need to remember that it’s likely some of those still charged will end up in prison for moments of struggle we all shared.

Everyone does not face the legal system on an equal footing. It is deeply racist and colonial, and Indigenous defendants are more likely to be found guilty and to receive harsher sentences. As well, those with criminal records, especially ones stemming from their political involvement, will also receive worse treatment and are more likely to do prison time.

The movement last winter was incredibly powerful, and the struggle isn’t over. On Wet’suwet’en territory, work on the pipeline hasn’t stopped for the pandemic, and land defenders on the front lines haven’t stopped resisting. This is true for many other Indigenous peoples across Canada — from Mi’kma’ki to Six Nations to Secwempec territory, this has been a landmark year for Indigenous resistance and assertions of sovereignty. These currents will continue overlapping with resistance to industrial expansion, creating new possibilities and sites of resistance. Nothing stopped, and there will be other times when we will need to shut down Canada again.

All successful movements face repression and have prisoners. More than avoiding repression, what matters is how we deal with it. We need to always be finding ways to show those targeted they are not alone — this makes it easier for them to get through it with strength and integrity. As people move through the justice system, displays of solidarity and practical support make a real difference in the outcome. We need to show that those who are brave and take risks will be supported if we want to be brave together again in the future and see our movements grow.

We will continue sharing updates on North Shore Counter-Info with details about the changing legal situation, and will also amplify fundraising efforts and specific asks from defendants for solidarity or support. On North Shore, they will be under the tag “Blockade Defense” (north-shore.info/tag/blockade-defense) and on Twitter under the hashtag #BlockadeDefense.
 
If we are forgetting anyone or you have any comments, get in touch in English or French at blockadedefense@riseup.net. The pgp key is available at keys.openpgp.org.

Après un hiver de blocages : Le point sur les accusations criminelles en lien avec #ShutDownCanada

Poster en format PDF 8.5 x 11 à imprimer et à partager

Presque un an est passé depuis la vague de blocages en solidarité avec les défenseurs de la terre wet’suwet’en. Par la suite, de nombreuses questions urgentes ont fait que l’attention du public est passé à autre chose. Toutefois, pour celleux en première ligne aussi bien que pour celleux avec des accusations en justice, il n’y a aucune possibilité de passer à autre chose.

En ce moment, au moins soixante personnes font encore face à de graves accusations criminelles en lien avec les descentes policières dans le territoire wet’suwet’en ainsi qu’avec le mouvement de solidarité. Ces actions ont impliqué des milliers de personnes dans toutes les provinces du pays, aussi il est impossible d’en faire rapidement le portrait, mais voici quelques aspects :

En janvier 2020, tandis que la GRC préparait leur nouvelle offensive contre la réoccupation du territoire wet’suwet’en qui dure depuis plus d’une décennie, les actions solidaires ont commencé. Quand les flics sont descendus pour de vrai dans les premiers jours de février, les Mohawks de Tyendinaga ont lancé un blocage ferroviaire qui a paralysé la circulation entre Toronto, Ottawa et Montréal. Perturber la circulation ferroviaire est vite devenue la tactique privilégiée du mouvement et les prochaines semaines ont vu des blocages à long terme menés par des communautés autochtones à Kahnawake, Listuguj, Six Nations et New Hazelton. Des blocages de moindre durée ont eu lieu (souvent à répétition) à Halifax, Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver, Magnetewan, Coquitlam, Hamilton, Morris, Saint-Pascal, Edmonton, Saint-Lambert, Kamloops, Saskatoon, Elsipogtog, Saguenay et de l’autre côté de la frontière dans l’État du Washington. Il y a également eu des manifestations et des blocages routiers en de nombreux endroits.

À l’issue de cette mobilisation massive, vingt-huit personnes du territoire Mohawk de Tyendinaga se battent contre des accusations suite à l’attaque du PPO sur leur communauté. Le deuxième groupe en importance c’est les quinze personnes accusées qui attendent leur procès en rapport avec un blocage près de Sherbrooke, Québec. À Hamilton en Ontario, six personnes font face chacune à quatre chefs d’accusations de méfait pour un blocage ferroviaire de vingt-quatre heures. Dans le Bas-Saint-Laurent, une personne est encore inculpée après une perturbation ferroviaire et à Montréal il y a deux personnes accusées de méfait pour des graffitis.

L’hiver précédent, en janvier 2019, il y a également eu un raid sur le territoire wet’suwet’en par la GRC. La mobilisation en solidarité était à échelle plus modeste, mais il y a eu des manifs, des occupations et des blocages importants un peu partout dans le pays, qui ont également vu de la répression.

Deux personnes présentes aux barricades sur le territoire wet’suwet’en lors du raid sont encore accusées de voie de fait sur la police. À Hamilton, une personne est inculpée pour des dégradations d’un poste de la GRC. À Montréal, six personnes se battent encore contre des accusations de méfait en lien avec le blocage du pont Jacques Cartier.

Il y a eu presque cent-cinquante arrestations durant ces deux années de lutte. Beaucoup ont eu pour résultat des remises en liberté sans inculpation. D’autres des amendes. Certaines des poursuites criminelles se sont déjà résolues. Par exemple, en automne 2020, le procureur a retiré les accusations contre douze personnes en relation avec un blocage ferroviaire à Toronto et deux autres à Vancouver ont eu des absolutions. En outre, toutes les charges contres les personnes présentes sur le territoire au moment du raid de février dernier ont été abandonnées (mais la GRC a laissé savoir que leur enquête se poursuit).

On ne peut que se réjouir que de plus en plus d’affaires se résolvent, mais il faut tout de même rester prudent. Le système judiciaire abandonne les accusations contre certaines personnes à fin d’isoler et de délégitimer d’autres. Il ne faut pas oublier que certain·e·s inculpé·e·s ont de fortes chances de finir en prison pour des moments de lutte auxquels nous avons toutes et tous participé·e·s.

Tout le monde ne fait pas face au système judiciaire sur un pas d’égalité. C’est un système profondément raciste et colonial, ce qui fait que les accusés autochtones ont plus de chances de se voir condamnés et de se voir imposer des peines lourdes. De même, les personnes avec des casiers judiciaires, surtout avec des condamnations en lien avec leur implication militante, risquent d’être traitées de façon autrement plus sévère et de finir en prison.

Le mouvement de l’hiver dernier était d’une puissance incroyable et la lutte n’est pas terminée. Sur le territoire wet’suwet’en, les travaux sur le pipeline continuent malgré la pandémie, tout comme la résistance des défenseurs de la terre en première ligne. C’est la même histoire chez d’autres peuples autochtones partout au Canada – de Mi’kma’ki au territoire Secwempec en passant par Six Nations, c’était une année charnière pour la résistance autochtone et les affirmations de souveraineté. Ces courants continueront de s’entremêler avec la résistance face à l’expansion industrielle, ce qui créera encore de nouvelles possibilités et des sites de résistance. Rien n’est arrêté et dans le futur nous aurons besoin de bloquer le Canada de nouveau.

Tout mouvement qui connaît du succès subira de la répression et aura des prisonniers. Ce qui est plus important que d’éviter la répression c’est la manière dont on y fait face. Nous devons toujours trouver des moyens de montrer aux personnes ciblées qu’elles ne sont pas seules, pour qu’elles puissent en venir à bout en se sentant fortes et en restant intègres. Des démonstrations de solidarité tout comme le soutien pratique font une immense différence quand les gens ont affaire à la justice. Il faut que les personnes courageuses qui prennent des risques aient de l’appui si nous voulons être courageux et courageuses ensemble encore et voir nos mouvements croître.

Nous continuerons de poster des mises à jour sur North Shore Counter-Info sur les affaires en cours et nous amplifierons les collectes de fonds et les appels au soutien concret ou à la solidarité de la part des accusé·e·s. Les mises à jour seront regroupées sous le tag « Blockade Defense » sur North Shore (north-shore.info/tag/blockade-defense) et sur Twitter sous le hashtag #BlockadeDefense.

Avons-nous oublié quelqu’un ou avez-vous des commentaires ? Contactez-nous en anglais ou en français à blockadedefense@riseup.net. La clé pgp est sur keys.openpgp.org.

Flyers for distribution #shutdowncanada

Anonymous submission to North Shore
These flyers were produced with the intention to disrupt the liberal narratives surrounding the Wet’suwet’en struggle, and the activism we have seen emerge as a result of the most recent waves of state violence. Simultaneously we are inspired by the actions of many of our comrades, especially the Mohawk blockades and those engaged in militant demos and sabotage. We hope these flyers continue to feed the fire of insurrection.
Decolonization Means No State (Single) (Four per page)
Reconciliation is Dead (Single) (Four per page)
Strike Back for the Climate (Four per page)
Why Wear a Mask (Double sided, four per page)
Reconciliation is Dead, and Decolonization Means no State were heavily inspired by tawinikay’s (aka Southern Wind Woman) work – much of the words appearing on them are tawinikay’s directly. Her work provides a critical and revolutionary stance on current struggles to shut down so called canada – we are very grateful for this work. As anarchists working to refine our perspective and practice, tawinikay’s critical intervention with the struggle and Indigenous solidarity work many of us engage in demands our engagement.
Against the state and capital
For a growing militant movement
Links to tawinikay’s work

Kingston: Report from #ShutDownCanada Action

Anonymous Submission to North Shore Counter-Info

In response to the ongoing raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, more than 100 people gathered yesterday in a downtown park. After a couple of speeches the crowd piled onto two packed schoolbuses and a few extra cars and headed to the train tracks. The original plan was to shut down the rails, but Mohawks at Tyendinaga have held the line closed since Thursday despite being served an injunction from CN Rail. As the action got nearer, we decided to proceed whether or not the lines were still closed, to show our solidarity with everyone shutting down critical infrastructure across Canada.

We marched from the train station to a rail crossing and occupied both the tracks and the road for about 90 minutes. Some safety precautions that we prepared included bringing air horns to use as a warning signal to leave the tracks, and calling the CN emergency line from an anonymous prepaid cellphone to notify them that people were on the tracks. There were drums, speeches, a barrel fire and some kids had a snowball fight on the train tracks. Some people chanted things like “when justice fails, block the rails,” “Wet’suwet’en, we got your back! Close the roads and block the tracks!” and “No more pipelines.” Others led songs and drummed. Folks with banners surrounded us on both sides to control the road. We had wanted to flyer the oncoming cars, but the police chose to close the road entirely and redirect traffic away from us. A few people flyered cars behind the police lines while the rest of us rallied on the tracks.

We had promised folks we’d get them back by 4:30 so at around 4:15 we marched off, chanting, back to our buses. The mood was super positive and determined and everyone made it home safely.

Kingston is a smaller city and it’s unusual for so many people to come together for any kind of demonstration, let alone crowd onto buses to take part in a somewhat risky action together. We know that this is a reflection of how activated, outraged and inspired people feel by Wet’suwet’en people defending their land against Coastal Gas Link’s pipeline and by Tyendinaga Mohawks standing in solidarity with them on their own territory. We hope that today’s action can also be a sign of more things to come in Kingston. People came out in numbers and showed a lot of bravery. We hope that we can come together like this again and again and try more and more new things. More specifically, we see this as a reaffirmation that whenever land defenders are attacked, people across the country, including here in Kingston, will strike back, target the economy, and refuse to allow business as usual to continue. Shut Down Canada!

#ShutDownCanada: Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions Continue Into Weekend

Following RCMP raids on Wet’suwet’en Territory this week, indigenous people, land defenders and accomplices have been taking up the call to Shut Down Canada with ongoing actions across the country targeting urban centres, highways, ports and railways. Here is an update on some actions across southern Ontario thus far and some notes on what’s to come. Something incomplete or missing? Send us a reportback!

TYENDINAGA
Starting Thursday afternoon a group from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has been blocking a rail crossing on Canada’s busiest rail corridor. At first there was a deal to allow stranded passenger trains to pass through but Via/CN double-crossed them by tagging on freight traffic, leading to the complete closure of the tracks to all passenger and freight traffic. They say they will block trains “until the RCMP withdraws from Wet’suwet’en Territory.” This action is ongoing – check out Real People’s Media on Facebook for updates.

HIGHWAY 403
“On Feb 6th a group of supporters led by Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Metis women and two-spirits blocked Hwy 403 outside of Hamilton & Six Nations, in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders.” There is also a short video from SubMedia.

AKWESASNE
Mohawks from Akwesasne marched across the Seaway International Bridge on Friday, closing it to traffic for about an hour.

TORONTO
A solidarity demo organized by Extinction Rebellion disrupted traffic at the corner of Queen and Bay Streets in downtown Toronto on Friday. Rising Tide has called an Emergency Action on Saturday.

OTTAWA
Solidarity demo and round dance on Friday started at Parliament Hill and marched downtown.

PETERBOROUGH: Solidarity demo at MP’s office downtown.

UPCOMING ELSEWHERE

Barrie – Solidarity Demo on Saturday

Kingston – Banner-making Saturday followed by Solidarity Action on Sunday

Waterloo – Solidarity Action on Monday

Across Canada and beyond – check out this FB event for updated calls to action

UPDATES FROM OUT WEST

Unist’ot’en Camp

Gidimten Yintah Access

Update on Hamilton Rail Charges

Anonymous Submission to North Shore Counter-Info

Hamilton, ON
Territory of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas

After an astounding 20 months, the remaining four of us facing charges in Hamilton, ON for a rail blockade in solidarity with Tyendinaga and the Wet’suwet’en in 2020 have finally settled our charges with a non-cooperating plea.

The blockade itself lasted for 24 hours and shut down both CN & CP lines in a strategic bottleneck, stopping all cargo between Ontario and New York state, with no ability for the companies to bypass the stoppage. The action cost CN & CP Rail more than $45,000, and was part of #ShutDownCanada – a wave of solidarity actions that spread throughout Turtle Island and included the blockades of ports, rails, highways, bridges, and more. Nationwide rail blockades alone stranded an estimated $425 million in cargo each day, creating serious delays in ports, as well as delays in mining and agriculture.

(For a summary of those actions and of the charges that resulted, see this post: https://north-shore.info/2021/01/11/after-a-winter-of-blockades-updates-on-criminal-charges-from-shutdowncanada-en- fr/)

Collectively, our actions were described as a potential “catastrophe for the economy.

For our roles in these shutdowns, we each faced four criminal counts: 2 X mischief over $5000 and 2 X mischief under $5000. We pled to just one count of mischief under each. Three of us were able to plea on a conditional discharge with one-year probation, while our fourth accepted a one year probation on a suspended sentence after serving 14 months on a strict pre-trial house arrest. Our decision to plea was not just motivated by punitive and coercive bail conditions, but also our hearts and minds which sought to reduce risk for all coaccused, and find more meaningful and empowered ways of being in struggle than just dealing with repression in the colonial courts.

Early on, we committed to navigating the legal process collectively, sharing resources and making strategic decisions together. Unifying principles and our care for each other made this possible – though not always easy – and we see collective defense as an essential part of the overall struggle against repressive forces.

We believe the only good way through repression is to step and stand together.

We’re happy to say we did just that, and even ended the sentencing proceedings with a few inspired and unrepentant words to the court.

On the Intensity of Repression & Surveillance

From the moment charges were laid, the court – with apparent input from detectives – imposed conditions to limit our use of social media and prevent us offering any kind of support to the Wet’suwet’en, or any other Indigenous group.

We were restricted from attending or organizing most protests – a condition from the Toronto G20 Main Conspiracy case in 2010 that has since become standard in southern Ontario bail proceedings related to “activism”.

One defendant was ejected from the city altogether. Another was put on house arrest following separate charges related to an OPP raid on 1492 Landback Lane. That individual continues to face charges alleging their involvement in actions taken against the RCMP in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en back in 2019. Look for future updates about those charges.

If you missed it, we encourage the reading of a previous North Shore article that provides details around the surveillance of Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions and actors in our area https://north-shore.info/2020/08/20/details-of-police-surveillance-targeting-wetsuweten-solidarity-organizing/, but in short: At least one of the individuals arrested had been under intermittent mobile surveillance in the months leading up to their arrest. This involved 4 to 5 teams of plainclothes officers following that individual for entire days, documenting what they did, and retrieving video footage and receipts from stores they entered. On the same day the arrests for the rail blockade took place, Hamilton Police also sought an application under 492.1(1) – a warrant to apply an electronic tracking device to a vehicle – against one of us. The application was heard and approved before our bail hearings ever took place. A warrant to search that same person’s cellphone using Cellebrite to crack encryption was also granted later in the year as police attempted to make a conspiracy case against us.Despite these extraordinary measures, police were unable to make their case.

We don’t know how extensively Hamilton (or any) police use these methods against activists and anarchists as a whole, but it is clear we need to consistently and proactively keep these things in mind – without letting it stop us. We encourage discussing these new revelations with your crews and taking a minute to brush up on security culture basics https://north-shore.info/2019/11/05/confidence-courage-connection-trust-a-proposal-for-security-culture/

Last Words – for Now

We offer our complete respect and solidarity to the many frontlines throughout Turtle Island right now – from the Haudenosaunee at Landback Lane and Arrowdale, to the Secwepemc protecting their homes; the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht protecting their old growth elders; the Mi’kmaq peoples protecting the Shubenecadie and fighting for sovereign fisheries; and of course with great care – the Wet’suwet’en who continue to take an active stand and face yet another invasion by the RCMP.

Land Back.

P.S. We also learned that each individual rail car sitting on the tracks costs about $32 per day. We think that has the potential to add up pretty quick. What do you think?

Toronto: Banner Drop in Solidarity with Gidimt’en

From Rising Tide Toronto (Facebook)

On the last day of the Week of Action in support of the Gidimt’en, a banner was dropped in the busy west end of downtown Toronto to draw the attention of rush hour drivers toward the invasion of Wet’suwet’en land being perpetrated by our government. We want to remind people that the RCMP are foreign aggressors assaulting members of a sovereign nation in defense of a pipeline (and CGL – the company who has repeatedly breached their own environmental management plan) that threatens Wedzin Kwa, and the people, salmon, bears, etc that depend upon it. RCMP GET OUT!
#RCMPofftheYintah #AllOutForWedzinKwa #WetsuwetenStrong #ShutDownCanada

For Autonomous Communication: North Shore Counter-Info at Two Years

North Shore Counter-Info launched just over two years ago, at the start of March 2018. Since then, we’ve published 302 texts with the goal of providing a platform for autonomous communication and connecting related struggles across the region. We’ve had a lot of feedback that the project is useful – starting from the repression in Hamilton around the Locke St affair in the project’s first days to the Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement this winter. This text is written by some members of the collective to share a few thoughts about what North Shore has been able to do so far and offer some directions for future growth.

In founding the project, we wrote about overcoming isolation in Southern Ontario, sharing resources to make anarchists across the area stronger, and make space for a conversation specific to our needs here. In some ways North Shore is a news site – we do hope to make actions and ideas visible, especially among people who share some underlying ideas. However, there are far, far more things that happen in the area than what gets posted to North Shore. We could spend more time scraping things from social media or reposting articles, but it isn’t our goal to be exhaustive or represent “the struggle” as a whole.

We encourage people to share news and reflections about their activities and situations because they value having access to an autonomous platform to reach other radicals that isn’t run by interests hostile to their own (like, for instance, Facebook). We encourage people to read what’s posted here to share tactics and ideas across the region, amplifying everyone’s actions and linking them together around shared principles.

The benefits of having this platform have been very rich. A surprising piece is how North Shore has enabled actions that might not have otherwise happened because there would have been no way to communicate about them. We are concerned with an emerging ‘common sense’ even in some anarchist circles that actions are only relevant when they are shared on social media, and so the only actions considered are those that can safely be posted to Facebook. This is intensely pacifying and greatly limits the kinds of tactics and strategies at our disposal.

During the wave of #ShutDownCanada actions in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders, North Shore provided a secure, anonymous platform for a wide variety of submissions on actions ranging from reports on public demos to blockades to sabotage actions and incendiary attacks targeting the rail system. We hope that by amplifying these calls to action, analysis, communiques and reports that we helped contribute something meaningful to the level of coordination between anarchists active in the solidarity movement. In particular, it’s much harder to communicate about clandestine actions like sabotage, and North Shore was one of the only where people trying such actions could share experiences and build momentum.

It’s not our desire to privilege these actions over others though – in our first retrospective text at six months, one challenge we identified was that North Shore seemed associated with the most combative and controversial aspects of anarchist practice in a way that limited what kinds of actions seemed post-worthy. Our hope is that clandestine attack, protests of all kinds, blockades, mass organizing, and agitational street art can all appear here alongside analysis and reflection. We want people who do different things to be in touch with each other and develop their ideas together, to co-ordinate when it makes sense to, and have lively debate and critique around tactics and strategy.

This practical diversity has been most vibrant on North Shore during social movements. The first big moment of that was the Pride Defenders solidarity movement after the far-right attack on Hamilton Pride in 2019. Reports of rallies, discussion, graffiti, counter-demos, and more poured in from all over, articulating different visions of solidarity, struggle, and queerness. This conversation through action was beautiful, complemented by reflective pieces and notes in the comments. During the Wet’suwet’en solidarity campaign this winter, the conversation about solidarity continued and deepened – is anarchist solidarity based on taking direction to further the strategic objectives of those we support, or is it based on clarity about our own ideas and attacks on common enemies that further both our respective priorities? It’s unlikely that a discussion of that nuance, playing out through a dozen reportbacks and analysis pieces, would have happened about this movement without a platform like North Shore.

One small change here at North Shore is we have scrapped the Events page. Although we feel it’s urgent that we regain our collective ability to promote and find events without relying on social media, the plug-in was never very user friendly and we didn’t receive many submissions. We suspect that while some anarchists are exclusively posting their events on Facebook, others have wider strategies to promote their activities that are specific to their local context and don’t gain much from appearing on a regional website. That said, we have heard stories of anarchists finding each other for the first time because of an Event post on North Shore – we remain open to your ideas!

This brings us back to why we don’t encourage the use of social media, especially corporate platforms. Although we do want a wide reach, our goal is much more qualitative than quantitative – we want to deepen and enrich, not just grow. We do have some social media for North Shore – Twitter and Reddit, and also Raddle (a radical-run alternative) – but, in line with how some recent texts have proposed (here and here) we “think of social media as a megaphone, a way of amplifying your voice, and not as a living room, for discussing and getting to know people. [We] use it to promote, to announce, to disseminate, but move conversations elsewhere.” We also encourage “collective abstinence or near-abstinence from personal social media, and very limited use of social media platforms for promotion, with the explicit intent of drawing people offline while drawing them towards anarchist practice.”

Quantitatively speaking though, of the 302 posts on North Shore, 139 are action reports and 101 are news or analysis. Considering that a bunch of the latter are updates from ongoing projects, it seems like the balance is pretty good in terms of keeping theory welded to practice. In terms of location, the balance is a bit skewed. There are as many posts tagged Hamilton (115) as there are of Toronto (51), Kingston (28), Ottawa (24), and Kitchener-Waterloo (11) combined. This might be partially explained by the level of anarchist activity in Hamilton, but it’s also due to a radical culture in that city that makes a point of writing report-backs.

This location breakdown is about the same as it was after North Shore’s first six months, so our goal “to continue trying to involve people in cities and towns throughout the region” hasn’t really been successful. Building cohesion and dialogue regionally still seems like a worthwhile goal, so we will keep trying to find ways to bring in more content from as many places in Southern Ontario as we can. If you want to support the project consider writing content about actions you’re involved in or taking some time to write a reflective piece or opinion piece about your local context. Encourage your friends to do the same, argue about ideas together and help each other edit, and then hit submit.

Finally, with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and the government measures that now dominate our lives, we think this project could be more relevant than ever. As anarchists and anti-authoritarians around the world are scrambling to respond to this rapidly developing crisis, having online platforms to encourage, highlight and reflect on real-world organizing and intervention is vital. As more and more people are finding themselves isolated, quarantined or locked down – whether it be by choice, circumstance or threat of punishment – we want to provide a space where critical discussion can happen about the new social and political context we find ourselves in. In a period of intense threat to human health and survival, when the economy seems to be crashing while state repression and social policing are rapidly escalating, we must continue to find ways to struggle together, both online and especially offline, for lives worth living.