PAWS: Justice for All

By Chris Mulhall & Raymond Bidyk, Aboriginal Committee Members

In the United States, we are witnessing state-sponsored militarized enforcement shooting rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons on peaceful and unarmed water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota – the water protectors are merely standing up for their land rights and everyone’s climate safety. Regardless of where you stand on pipelines, this level of force is unacceptable. A member of our committee joined protectors at Standing Rock and recognized that the issues occurring there hit close to home. After the Husky Oil spill this year, our government did little to be inclusive and transparent with the Indigenous communities that were impacted – to this day, their food sources are severely affected due to the spill. Both of these instances reveal the lack of respect and inclusivity from our North American governments. We must work to ensure the decolonization of our lands, and the Aboriginal Committee will continue to do its part in ensuring a just society for all.

Members of the Aboriginal Committee have been writing articles for the Front Line Newsletter this past year around Power, Air, Water & Safety – together, they make up our PAWS campaign. We first wrote about the Power of Indigenous movements and knowledge. We then focused on the importance of clean Air and the need to respect Indigenous lands. Our focus for Water was centered on the systemic oppression of access to clean drinking water amongst Indigenous communities across Canada. Safety concentrated on the racism Indigenous people experience daily. We hope our campaign has helped spread awareness around the serious conditions and issues Indigenous people face because as labour activists. We must demonstrate solidarity for our Indigenous brothers and sisters. We need to recognize that treaties are like collective agreements, and blockades are like picket lines – to break or cross them risks justice for all.

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