Over reaction by Canadian authorities to anti-fracking protests… what does it mean? First Nations are at a very different stage in their relationship with Canada than, say, Alaska Natives are with the US. If anything, entrenched Native institutions in Alaska would probably want, and get, their due piece of the action in drilling, mining, logging, etc.
The Canadian government’s heavy handed response is overkill; but something like this is to be expected. The mode of operation against such protests these days is for the authorities to legitimize their move to crush opposition by getting the courts to give the green light. Involved in this process is usually some form of negotiation with less radical elements while simultaneously marginalizing the more extreme radicals who won’t come to the table.
A report on Canada’s vulnerability to aboriginal insurrection says that their energy and transportation infrastructure is brittle and vulnerable to sabotage and attack by a “warrior cohort” of young, unemployed, criminalized Natives. A strike by this cohort could cost the Canadian economy tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars per week. The response suggested by the report is an escalation of the police state plus public project/welfare buy offs for First Nations and resettlement of some communities; basically a carrot and stick approach that would bring indigenous people’s in line and into the fold.
On their own peaceful protests and blockades won’t win us sovereignty. In the age of Idle No More they are great for spreading sympathy and news rapidly around the world, but they won’t force the government to the table with favorable terms for indigenous people. My suggestion, for what it’s worth, would be to use these events as catalysts to legitimize the threat of our own violent response. After all, that is what they do when they deploy heavily armed
paramilitary troops police. Indigenous people could either participate in the marginalization of radical elements, which is what they want us to do before we come to the table, or we could go to the negotiating table with a guerrilla militia capable of crippling the Canadian economy at our backs.
What would this look like? Well, it wouldn’t mean armed clashes at blockades. That’s a recipe for disaster and unnecessary bloodshed. Indigenous people couldn’t win such a fight and it wouldn’t win any hearts or minds to our cause. Instead, it would mean proving that we have the capability of inspiring a continent wide strike against economic infrastructure. This is a relatively peaceful demonstration (as in no one really has to get hurt) of 4th generation warfare. To some extent the Canadian Government already knows this. So in the short run it may look using tribal governments as cover while at the same time building alliances, building networks, rebuilding traditional, grassroots institutions such as clans, bands, houses and villages, and creating a shadow system of self governance. The ultimate goal would be to reassert true indigenous sovereignty over our territories through the establishment of de facto tribal nations that have the capability of striking back against the system when our sovereignty is threatened. Of course, alliances with non-indigenous people on the continent will be critical. The alternative is to simply continue going along with the kangaroo court that has been set up by colonial powers to continue robbing us blind.