Three demonstrations have been held in Montreal in opposition of the DAPL
The sound of drums and singing filled Phillips Square in downtown Montreal on Nov. 13 as participants held hands and walked in a criss-cross formation along the square to raise awareness about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The gathering sought to shed light on the violence directed at protesters in the Standing Rock reserve in North and South Dakota and the threat the proposed DAPL project poses to the environmental state of the land.
This was the third event this week in downtown Montreal in opposition of the DAPL and the lack of human rights extended to protesters in Standing Rock. The previous events were held on Nov. 7 in Victoria Square in downtown Montreal and on Nov. 10 in the Hall building of Concordia’s downtown campus.
“It’s not just only in support of Standing Rock, but the first idea is to bring awareness,” said Jesse Achneepineskum, a participant at the event in Phillips Square. He said there has been a lack of media coverage in Standing Rock, a reoccurring trend for issues concerning indigenous communities.
“I first heard of it through Facebook only,” said Achneepineskum, referring to the treatment of protesters in Standing Rock. “On Facebook it tends to be shared—news of native people amongst native people.” He said the wave of organized protests in different cities is due to the constant sharing of information on social media platforms such as Facebook.
“People around here started organizing marches and protests to force CBC and CTV to send people to cover the events and to bring awareness to the general public,” said Achneepineskum, adding that in the U.S., the rising tensions in Standing Rock were not adequately covered by American media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC.
Craig Blacksmith, a participant of the Montreal protest on Nov. 13 and member of the Dakota tribe, said if the Indian Act was abolished and indigenous people had control over their land, corporations would not be threatening their land with pipeline projects.
“If we focus on this Indian Act and we get it abolished, it’s going to open up a whole new dialogue,” said Blacksmith. He said this is because removing the Indian Act will enable Indigenous communities to have authority over their land, as opposed to the government. This would result in giving them the power to decide whether or not the pipelines will be allowed to go through their land.
Blacksmith is from Manitoba, however his Dakota tribe is one of the tribes which make up the Sioux Nation—many of whom reside in the Standing Rock reservation. The Dakota tribe is spread across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska.
According to Jean-Philippe Warren, a Concordia professor from the department of sociology and anthropology, the DAPL has struck a strong reaction from Montrealers because it ties in with an issue close to home.
“The [DAPL] project is immediately conflated with the TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline,” said Warren. Keystone XL is the official name for the pipeline proposal that includes the DAPL. “Opposing one is opposing the other.”
Warren said people in Quebec are more likely to be against the expanded use of crude oil, regardless of whether they use a car or not. “Quebecers are much more opposed [to] the oil energy because they believe that everything should be electric,” said Warren. “Hydro-Quebec convinced them that hydro-electricity is the best source of energy.”
“In the case of the TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline, Alberta’s or the rest of Canada’s interests do not seem to serve Quebecers’ interests,” said Warren.
On Monday, Nov. 7, Concordia First Peoples studies professor Louellyn White spoke out against the DAPL at a demonstration in Victoria Square, downtown Montreal.
The purpose of the demonstration was to encourage participants to close their accounts with RBC, TD or Scotiabank until these banks remove their investments in the DAPL.
White said the DAPL raises the issue of sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, whose land the pipelines are proposed to run through. She added that, for centuries, their sovereignty has been ignored by governments, states and individuals.
White discussed the Fort Larry Treaty of 1851, an agreement between settlers and people of the Sioux Nation which gave settlers ownership of their land in exchange for protection, food and education for the Sioux people.
White said this treaty has repeatedly been broken. She said none of these promises to the Sioux people were kept. “That land was further and further diminished.”
A separate protest against the DAPL took place in Concordia’s Hall building on the downtown campus on the evening of Nov. 10. Participants chanted “water is life” to express concern for the effects the DAPL will have on the environment, as well as the issues the DAPL pose to indigenous rights.
This initiative was brought forth by Concordia First Peoples studies professor Donna Goodleaf, the students in her elective class, “Haudenosaunee Peoples” and Concordia’s Indigenous Student Association.
The events on Nov. 7 and Nov. 10 informed people on how to help protesters involved in the Standing Rock protests. Students in the Indigenous Student Association and Goodleaf’s elective class handed out pamphlets on how you can financially aid protesters in this initiative.
Donations in aid towards the Standing Rock protesters are being accepted to the following address: Sacred Stone Camp, P.O. Box 1011, Fort Yates, N.D. 58538. These donations will be used for food, propane, water, blankets and other supplies.
Climate Justice Montreal shared forms which state the problems with banks investing in the DAPL. The forms indicate how people can close their accounts with their bank as a way to encourage them not to invest in the DAPL.