The Interpersonal is Political: Lessons from Indigenous Solidarity Organizing
Reflections on Union Activism and Indigenous Solidarity Work
I’m in the Home Hardware in Sioux Lookout, nearly 1,750km from my Toronto home, arguing over a pickaxe. I’m overcome with worry as I stare in disbelief at its price tag and mentally calculate what my group has spent so far in the trip and what is left. While I anxiously negotiate our budgeting, the Mohawk land defender who has joined our delegation – annoyed with my hesitance to spend money – seems ready to write us off. It’s obvious to him that we are clueless about what is needed in the bush. Our reluctance to listen to him feels tantamount to writing off his knowledge and putting our own interests before collective needs. It sinks in that the other settler delegates and I had been calling the financial shots for the duration of the trip. I feel ashamed. Although we did end up buying the pickaxe, the situation upset my efforts to express genuine solidarity with Indigenous resistance.
This moment occurred during a trip made by a delegation of union activists to support an Ojibwe land defender, Darlene Necan. Though seemingly insignificant, it still resonates with me when I reflect on how these tensions had been pervasive below the surface of our interactions. It was one of many times that revealed the dynamic of material needs versus access to money. All material resources for our delegation were in settler control. I came to realize how insufficient and uncomfortable this structure was and began to think about transformative relationships in solidarity work. The moment exemplified how systemic power imbalances across settler-Indigenous difference can be mirrored back to us through our relationships.
In 2012, Idle No More brought renewed visibility to Indigenous resistance. A proliferation of blockades and reclamations demanding Indigenous sovereignty, from Unist’ot’en to Elsipogtog, have kept Indigenous struggles in the consciousness of those concerned with social justice. Movements on Turtle Island are increasingly supportive of Indigenous peoples’ struggles for self-determination and decolonization. This emergent anti-colonial solidarity is promising, but it comes with the potential of settler appropriation of Indigenous knowledges and struggles. Many organizers and writers have been calling attention to problematic ally behaviours and propose new strategies for effective and supportive allyship. This literature also considers the complexity of settler colonialism and the varied histories of oppression faced by non-Indigenous communities in order to strategize alliances across anti-racist, abolitionist, migrant justice, and queer liberation movements.
Putting theory into practice while engaging in anti-colonial solidarity can be hindered by the relative privilege of some allies; in particular, white settler allies that may have very different experiences from Indigenous communities grappling with generations of colonial violence. Material disparity compounds the tensions built into different lived realities. Settler allies of relative privilege also tend to have greater access to institutional and social power, which are structural conditions that reflect settler colonialism. In this article, I focus on these tensions by exploring the political role of interpersonal relationships in solidarity work. I argue that commitments to support Indigenous resistance must be accompanied by a dedication to sustain good relationships and to address the ways that colonial and capitalist power are embedded within them. We need to take the interpersonal seriously in order to embody our political convictions.
I draw these reflections from my experience organizing with the First Nations solidarity Working Group (FNSWG). FNSWG is a working group of CUPE Local 3903 – a union local representing graduate researchers, teaching assistants, and contract faculty at York University in Toronto, Canada. I reflect on how mobilizing moments of discord rather than ‘solving’ them can be constructive to identify and challenge their roots in systemic oppression. While I focus on my own personal involvement with Indigenous organizing, this paper also speaks to larger questions of radical solidarity and mutual aid.
I examine these questions through the theory of bell hooks by centring the (inter)personal as political. hooks pushes the whitestream feminist slogan ‘the personal is political’ by integrating an intersectional, experience-centred understanding of private conflict as a site of both oppression and resistance. Extending this analysis to the settler colonial context, I also draw upon Indigenous Action Media’s (IAM) zine, Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex, An Indigenous Perspective. This text critiques problematic ally behaviours and is central to politicizing the interpersonal relationships of solidarity organizing. Finally, I draw upon Harsha Walia’s frameworks of healing and emotional justice in political praxis. Both frames address the need to nurture healthy relationships in order to sustain political movements and struggles. Taken together, these theoretical interventions reveal important tensions in settler solidarity organizing and push us to make our work more meaningful and self-reflexive.
By reflecting on my organizing experiences with FNSWG, I intend to politicize moments where we have fallen short on our ideals of prioritizing Indigenous experience and settler accountability. Locating and resisting the power dynamics that operate through our relationships and organizing practices is central and necessary to politicizing the interpersonal; otherwise our solidarity work undermines itself.
Adapting ‘The Personal is Political’
The feminist dictum ‘the personal is political’ first appeared in the title of a 1970 article by Carol Hanisch. The text itself responded to charges that diminished radical feminist claims as merely ‘personal’ issues that should be left outside of political organizing. Hanisch and others brought attention to the political nature of these so-called personal problems by connecting them to the operations of patriarchy. As such, they politicized relationships within the household – relationships of care, the division of labour, sex, reproductive justice, and so forth. Importantly, hooks, a radical Black, intersectional feminist, broadened the slogan’s relevance beyond the narrow and privileged experiences of whitestream second-wave feminists.
Hanisch’s women’s liberation groups were largely exclusive to white, middle class women in the United States. These consciousness-raising groups were heavily critiqued by Black feminists for universalizing white women’s experience of oppression in the home in order to construct a unifying notion of ‘sisterhood.’ According to hooks, this ‘sisterhood’ reflected bourgeois white women’s urge to convene on a shared experience of victimization that consequently alienated racialized and classed experiences of oppression, and glossed over these women’s culpability in the oppression of others. She states,
feminist consciousness-raising has not significantly pushed women in the direction of revolutionary politics… it has not helped women understand how capitalism works, as a system that exploited female labour and its inter-connections with sexist oppression… It has not shown women how we benefit from the exploitation and oppression of women and men globally or shown us ways to oppose imperialism. Most importantly, it has not continually confronted women with the understanding that feminist movement to end sexist oppression can be successful only if we are committed to revolution, to the establishment of a new social order.
hooks critiques versions of feminism that articulate struggle as merely combating individual experiences of sexism. Rather, she emphasizes that feminism needs to understand itself as “a political movement which aims to transform society as a whole” (71). Emphasis on personal experiences of oppression or discrimination can detract from the political goal of social transformation and individualize systems of power like heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, and settler colonialism.
Despite the problematic assumptions of second-wave white feminism, the act of politicizing what was deemed ‘the personal,’ while connecting it to the systemic oppression of patriarchy, is a radical move by feminists that challenges liberal individualism. Connecting how our personal lives are shaped dialectically by systemic circulations of power should be an integral part of our political views and organizing strategies. In this way, the personal as a target of politicization does not necessarily contradict drawing connections to larger structures of power relations.
hooks’ methodology is rooted in personal experience and challenges the silencing of speaking out on issues seen as private. She demands that we interrogate the artificial divide made between the public and private spheres in order to see,
how deeply connected that split is to ongoing practices of domination… The public reality and institutional structures of domination make the private space for oppression and exploration concrete – real. That’s why I think it crucial to talk about the points where public and private meet, to connect the two. (Emphasis added)
While hooks is writing from a Black feminist framework, anti-colonial Indigenous solidarity similarly needs to consider ‘the personal’ as a site where power operates in daily life and our political organizing. The split of the private and public spheres is carried into spaces of organizing when emotional labour, relationship building, and social reproductive labour is devalued or taken for granted. It is also important to consider how the private/personal can be a site of violence, particularly for those who experience multiple, interlocking oppressions.
The interpersonal then, ought to be considered as a site of struggle where institutional power and exploitation are reflected. Considering the interpersonal as political also reveals work that is disproportionately performed by women and people of colour, work that is undervalued or made invisible. Finally, the interpersonal is a potential site of resistance and political organizing.
In the context of settler colonialism, politicizing interpersonal relationships must integrate a critique of settler complicity in colonization. As IAM identifies, settler attempts to be ‘good allies’ to Indigenous struggle can reproduce the dominance of their positionality. That is, self-proclaimed allies “build organizational or individual power, establishing themselves comfortably among the top ranks in their hierarchy of oppression as they strive to become the ally ‘champions’ of the most oppressed” (1). This pattern of tokenistic solidarity, aptly named the ‘ally industrial complex,’ reinforces the increasing professionalization of activism. FNSWG members are graduate students building careers in academia, and our political organizing has the potential to be operationalized in order to gain access to communities and knowledges that can be turned into research subjects. As such, we ought to interrogate our own implication in the ally industrial complex. Following hooks’ framework of the interconnected public and private, I contend that ally accountability at the interpersonal level is critical to checking the reproduction of power imbalances in solidarity organizing.
CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group
FNSWG was formed after CUPE 3903 members responded to calls for support from members of Six Nations of the Grand River during the 2006 land reclamation of Kanonhstaton. The reclamation resulted in a stand-off between Haudenosaunee land defenders and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) over a housing development that would expand the boundaries of Caledonia onto Six Nations land, which had long been contested and was subject to an ongoing land claim. After the OPP invaded the site in an attempt to evict and arrest the land defenders, CUPE members offered support by providing food, donations, and by documenting the events. The formative relationships made at this time led to the creation of a working group internal to CUPE 3903 to provide long-term support for the reclamation, while building relations of solidarity with Indigenous struggles more generally.
By 2014, FNSWG had developed relationships beyond Six Nations. Recently, FNSWG’s solidarity has included a cabin build and legal defence support for Darlene Necan, as well as a furniture drive to address the housing crisis in Mishkeegogamang, a reserve community in northern Ontario. These projects connect FNSWG’s commitment to Indigenous solidarity with the broader membership of 3903, as well as other unions. We have forged relationships with UNIFOR, other CUPE locals, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), and participated in broader efforts to identify the connections and complicities of labour organizing within settler colonialism.
FNSWG navigates the tensions inherent to supporting anti-colonial resistance even as we continue to work and live on stolen Indigenous land. Rooted in relationships formed over the years of the group’s existence, we aim to learn from and support Indigenous grassroots community leaders, land defenders, educators, spokespersons, and activists. We prioritize projects that preserve Indigenous control of lands and resources and those that build political autonomy and community capacity for self-determination. While FNSWG institutionalizes a commitment by our local to support Indigenous movements, it is the challenge of us as organizers to use these resources in a way that fosters long-term relationships and networks of support for Indigenous struggles.
Although FNSWG has evolved over time, the group has maintained at its core a commitment to anti-colonialism. Anti-colonialism aims to dismantle the assumption of Canadian sovereignty, while supporting Indigenous governance and the reclamation of Indigenous land and territory. We consider anti-colonialism to be necessarily connected to resisting other forms of domination. As artist and activist Giibwanisi, a long time friend of FNSWG, elaborates,
a decolonizing [project] must be committed to dismantling the state, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and must also be anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist. It may incorporate various degrees of traditional Indigenous governance and may have political forms that are parallel with some strands of Communism and Anarchism.
Harsha Walia describes decolonization as, “as much a process as a goal.” In this sense, the means of organizing are as important as the end results. FNSWG strives to emphasize the importance of collective needs over capitalist individualism; to challenge sexism, racism, and class-based inequalities; and to recognize the interdependence of our movements and partnerships. FNSWG’s model of centring relationships with Indigenous partners discourages coopting Indigenous solidarity projects to outside agendas. By stressing the importance of these relationships, we commit to building and maintaining them in a way that aligns with our anti-colonial values.
Relationships and Resources: Organizing Across Disparity
As described above, the working group aims to support projects that strengthen Indigenous self-determination and autonomy against a colonial state that continues to undermine Indigenous sovereignty and disempower colonized people. For instance, we supported Necan in her struggle to provide secure housing for members of her community. When the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources attempted to halt her work with stop-work orders and fines, we organized around her legal defence. Supporting Necan’s right to build a home on unceded land directly resists colonial dispossession and contributes to building the capacity of grassroots leadership in her community, which faces inadequate housing and resource extraction. Other projects, like supporting a Kanien’kéha youth language camp in Six Nations, also build capacities that are independent from colonial institutions. For the most part, we work with individuals acting autonomously from band councils, as community needs always extend beyond what band councils are able or willing to provide.
Grounding our work in relationships with members of communities that face issues of poverty, health and housing crises, and encroaching resource development, has meant that material disparity pervades the work that we do. As such, FNSWG is sometimes called upon to provide material resources for day-to-day survival needs. In these instances our access to resources can manifest in an imbalance of power in our relationships. With this stark contrast in access to resources, how do we organize collaboratively as partners? What kind of accountability system do we maintain with both our union and our Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg partners? What counts as a political action must stretch beyond the blockade and reclamation camp when day-to-day realities impede capacities to politically organize. Our challenge is to provide support without replicating a charity or social work model that becomes focused on temporarily addressing the symptoms of colonialism rather than resisting and dismantling it. Putting resources toward day-to-day supports needed for survival is thus politically necessary for FNSWG but insufficient for anti-colonial resistance against the structural causes of poverty and disparity.
Operating through the bureaucracy of a labour union means that at times our dual obligations are in tension. FNSWG needs to maintain good standing with the broader CUPE 3903 membership. Even as we aspire to be led by Indigenous partners, FNSWG ultimately decides on expenditures because the group is legally and financially liable to the larger union. Thus, although decisions are made with the best intentions, we are positioned as gatekeepers of much needed resources, which can introduce problematic power dynamics. According to IAM, ally gatekeepers hold power over, rather than with, oppressed groups. Gatekeeping can often accompany a saviour ally complex, through which these ‘allies’ see tokens and victims rather than co-conspirators and “create dependency on them and their function as support” (5).
A white saviour complex inserts victimization and dependency into the relationship, making themselves necessary at the expense of those they claim to ‘save.’ Therefore, this relationship becomes abusive and exploitative while simultaneously giving the ‘ally’ credit for political work. Settler guilt and shame can also be alleviated through this process without making any changes to the power dynamics in the relationship (3). These insidious aspects of settler organizing are not always obvious, and the ways these exploitative relationships manifest in solidarity work often go unacknowledged. While certainly imperfect, FNSWG strives to mitigate this gatekeeper status by distributing our resources in direct response to the requests and needs of those with whom we organize. Even so, IAM’s intervention demands accountability and for us to be aware of our motives as we assess our role in these projects and relationships.
Applying the Interpersonal as Political to Anti-Colonial Organizing
The contributions of ‘the interpersonal as political’ are useful for navigating the tensions of anti-colonial organizing described above. For hooks, politicizing the personal is not the end in itself, as this can lead to the fetishized individualism of identity politics. Rather, politicizing the personal is necessary “to find a point of connection between material struggle and metaphysical concerns. We cannot oppose the emphasis on identity politics by inverting the logic and devaluing the personal.” hooks’ advice is to address “in a dialectical manner the issue of feminist politicization – the link between efforts to socially construct self, identity in an oppositional framework, one that resists domination, and allows for the greatest degree of well-being” (107).
Applying hooks’ approach to an anti-colonial context allows us to locate the ways in which our interactions reflect settler colonial ideologies. For instance, IAM describes a number of problematic behaviours of settler ‘allyship,’ including “navigating allies,” who make personal projects out of other peoples’ oppression, and “parachuters,” who arrive “seemingly out of nowhere” and bring specialized knowledge that is applied paternalistically to the situation without regard for experience and knowledge of those living the issue (5). As IAM argues, this is “structural patronization that is rooted in the same dominion of hetero-patriarchal white supremacy” (4). FNSWG’s model of organizing – one that prioritizes the creation of long-term relationships of support and solidarity – attempts to combat these settler tendencies of patronization and dependency that often arise out of tokenistic modes of solidarity. We are certainly not outside of these problematic dynamics, but we are committed to the self-reflexive and interpersonal critique that is required to transform organizing across settler-Indigenous difference.
For FNSWG, to remind ourselves that ‘the personal is political’ is to commit to identifying power relations that manifest in our relationships and actions. It challenges orthodox understandings of what is deemed proper politics, and when committed to resisting identity politics, it can work against individualizing, self-centred politics. Consideration that the personal level reveals power relations and is a site of systemic power relations makes us better allies, acquainting us to more nuanced ways that settler power operates.
FNSWG and Interpersonal Work
Part of addressing frictions that emerge in anti-colonial organizing is prioritizing the emotional work required to maintain relationships. Material disparities influence us and impact our worldviews across varied lived realities. This is not to say that we cannot know or understand each other, but rather that settler ways of knowing are often so engrained in our worldview that seeing past our particular values and decision making frameworks affects our cooperation and willingness to meet requests of those we are working with.
In my own experience, I have performed the “Act of Resignation” described by IAM, where “those who benefit from systems of oppression… reject or distance themselves from those benefits and behaviours… [and] act paralyzed… resigning their agency, or capabilities as an act of ‘support’”(6). When I participated in a delegation to Necan’s community, this ‘resignation’ prevented me from building connections with other people. In a space where differences of privilege were acutely apparent, my hesitance to insert myself to avoid being a “parachuting” or exploitative ally compromised the building of healthy, honest relationships. Although we were there primarily to deepen our relationship with Necan while doing work on the land, when we felt uncomfortable, we tended to fall back into a comfortable dynamic amongst each other, rather than fostering relationships within the community. When we engaged in work that was unfamiliar, there was a tendency to sit back more than step up, not wanting to be disruptive. While this dynamic was due to discomfort, it revealed an unhealthy power imbalance of settler reliance on Indigenous labour in a solidarity project. Meanwhile the invisible emotional labour of checking in with each other, care, reinforcing social connections, and attempting to maintain group cohesion was primarily performed by women.
Feelings of discomfort that emerge in interpersonal relationships are not disconnected from the differences of our lived experiences; they are shaped by different positions within the hierarchies of settler colonialism. Emotive reactions to difference can reassert separateness and alienation. Walia argues that to resist structural colonialism, we need to “think of our interconnectedness, not separation or isolation, as we strengthen alliances and enact solidarities to dismantle colonial structures and ideologies.” Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox urges settlers to commit to “co-existence through co-resistance,” and argues that, “relationship is fundamental to meaningful co-existence, and an antecedent to motivating change within settler society over the long term.” Building the mutual trust and understanding needed for co-existence takes time and work. Settlers cannot claim the role of ally before putting in the work required of relationships. Paying attention to the relationships and divisions of labour can only be done if revolutionaries take seriously political power within interpersonal relationships. This is ongoing work within FNSWG. We collectively and individually visit these questions and reflect on how to navigate our relationships with care, to coexist with intention and mutual respect.
Conclusion: Interpersonal Relationships as a Site of Resistance
Given that colonialism and capitalism require and perpetuate isolation, decolonization calls on us to affirm community… The motivation for strong movements and communities is genuine, empathetic, healthy, and loving social relations forged in the process of struggle, as we overgrow the logic of the dominant system.
Centring strong, healthy relationships at the interpersonal level in radical and anti-colonial organizing cannot be ignored, particularly when organizing across different proximate locations of power. FNSWG’s model of organizing around long-term relationships of accountability has attempted to navigate the power imbalances and ward against repositioning our privileges as white settler allies. Mobilizing these commitments in our praxis is part of the hard work of political solidarity.
I have used hooks’ critique of the public/private dichotomy to question the secondary importance that is sometimes afforded to interpersonal-level practices in our political organizing. Defining politics and political change more broadly, however, brings interpersonal relations into scope and compels allies to self-evaluate. This self-evaluation is necessary to identify the problematic ally behaviours that we may unwittingly perform – behaviours that derail Indigenous work and recenter white allies. Solidarity organizing is consuming and demanding work that is further strained when relationships are degraded by resignation, alienation, and interpersonal tension. The point is not that we need to avoid disagreement or conflict in order to organize with each other, but that we need to care for each other in our organizing work. Politicizing the interpersonal means applying a critical lens – against colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy – to ourselves as we evaluate our political work and the relationships we are building.
Here, Walia’s work on “healing justice” and “emotional justice” are particularly informative. Healing justice collectivizes the notion of care and considers the well being of all community members for the well being of a community as a whole. This notion is opposed to an atomistic concept of ‘self care’ that places undue onus on individuals to tend to collective needs for healing and care. Emotional justice “is the praxis of understanding and fully experiencing one another with empathy, and sustaining kinship beyond the bounds of capitalism and border imperialism” (268).
Taken together, healing and emotional justice actively disrupt the heterosexist devaluation of our emotional labour and care. And importantly, these frameworks actively encourage us to engage fully in collectivizing support. That is, emotional and healing justice are necessary correctives to existing models of settler solidarity, which I argue devalue the interpersonal and therefore hold a limited view of what political organizing looks like. And rather than reinforce atomized service models of organizing, building interpersonal relationships is a form of resistance that can forge honest, collaborative relationships with different kinds of activists.
As we continue to value and honour our relationships with Indigenous partners, we are directed by critical reflections on the integrity of those relationships and their alignment with our core values. Even as material disparity remains a reality, prioritizing self-reflexive relationships can ameliorate disparities of power internal to our movements. FNSWG’s work empowers its members by connecting them to histories of resistance, to uses of land that are powerfully anti-colonial and anti-capitalist, and to inspiring Indigenous activism. The redirection of resources away from institutions and toward Indigenous grassroots organizers and community leaders, while laden with problematic power dynamics, remains an important political commitment. There will always be a tension between our access to material resources and our commitment to de-centring the settler in Indigenous solidarity work. However, we must continue to be actively critical of our access to institutional power and resources and be self-reflexive about our assumptions and behaviours in our interpersonal relationships. And so, by prioritizing collective understandings of healing and emotional growth through our relationships, FNSWG’s work attempts to resist reproducing the tendency toward the settler saviour complex and disempowering relationships of dependency, ultimately moving us toward a more holistic political praxis of settler solidarity with Indigenous struggles.
1. Otherwise called North America.
2. For example, Black Lives Matter’s solidarity work with the occupation of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office in Toronto demanding justice for Attawapiskat in April 2016; Rising Tide’s climate justice organizing alongside Aamjiwang First Nation; and ongoing commitments of No One Is Illegal Toronto and Vancouver with Indigenous struggles.
3. Maile Arvin, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morrill, “Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy,” Feminist Formations 25(1): 2013. Adam Barker and Jenny Pickerill, “Radicalizing Relationships To and Through Shared Geographies: Why Anarchists Need to Understand Indigenous Connections to Land and Place,” Antipode, 44(5): 2012; Harsha Walia, Undoing Border Imperialism. AK Press, 2013.
4. Zainab Amadahy and Bonita Lawrence, “Indigenous Peoples and Black People in Canada: Settlers or Allies?” Pp. 105-134 in Breaching the Colonial Contract: Anti-Colonialism in the US and Canada, edited by Arlo Kempf. Springer, 2009; Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua, “Decolonizing Anti-Racism,” Social Justice Vol. 32:4, 2005; Tiffany King, “Labour’s Aphasia: Toward Antiblackness as Constitutive to Settler Colonialism.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society blog, June 10, 2014; Scott Morgensen, Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Andrea Smith, “The Colonialism That is Settled and the Colonialism That Never Happened.” Decolonization, Indigeneity & Society blog, June 20, 2014; Harsha Walia, 2013.
5. bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre. South End Press, 1984; bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989). Routledge, 2015.
6. Indigenous Action Media, Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex, An Indigenous Perspective, Version 2, accessed from www.indigenousaction.org, (May 2014).
7. Carol Hanisch, “The Personal is Political,” (self published online, 2003), accessed from http://www.carolhanish.org/CHwriting/PIP/html. Hanisch credits the editors for the coining the phrase, and her specific faction of feminists and the women’s movement more broadly for its theoretical underpinnings.
8. These issues were related to bodily autonomy, household independence, and wages for domestic labour, and were advocated by primarily white, middle class women.
9. hooks, 1984, 159.
10. hooks, 1989, 2.
11. Indigenous Action Media, 1.
12. Which means in Kanien’kéha, “the Protected Place.”
13. See http://www.ontario.ca/page/six-nations-grand-river.
14. Darlene Necan is the off-reserve spokeswoman for Saugeen Nation no. 258. She advocates for adequate housing for her community, building cabins for elders in her community, and built a cabin for herself at her family’s traditional trapline, with the help of an ILPS delegation including FNSWG. Despite this success, in off-hunting season she was made homeless while building a plywood cabin for herself in Savant Lake when Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources served her a stop-work order claiming the house was on Crown land. Necan defended her right to build and live on unceded territory. FNSWG, No More Silence, and Muskrat Magazine organized legal and political support for
Necan, and in March of 2015 charges were dropped.
15. Gary Wassaykeesic, a member of Mishkeegogamang First Nation approached FNSWG in late 2014 proposing a furniture and warm clothing drive to address the housing and material needs of the community. Mishkeegogamang’s housing needs were such that 20 people were sharing a small home and in other homes people slept in shifts on the limited number of beds. FNSWG joined this project, filling and sending two 18 wheeler trucks from Toronto to the community, 300 km north of Thunder Bay, full of donated beds, couches, winter clothing, and children’s toys.
16. Devin Clancy, Annelies Cooper, Karl Gardner, and Thania Vega, “Union Solidarity With Indigenous Struggles: Reflections on CUPE 3903’s First Nations Solidarity Working Group,” Unpublished manuscript, 2016 (presentation at “The Work of Settler Colonialism,” CUNY, New York NY).
17. Karl Gardner and Richard Peters (Giibwanisi), “Toward the 8th fire: The view from Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society Vol. 3: 3, 2014.
18. Walia, 250.
19. Indigenous Action Media, 3.
20. hooks, 1989, 107.
21. Indigenous Action Media, 5.
22. Walia, 257.
23. Irlbacher-Fox, “#IdleNoMore: Settler Responsibility for Relationship.” 2012. decolonization.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/idlenomore-settler-responsibility-for-relationship/.
24. Walia, 266