Solidarity with Breathing Lands Nations in Toronto
Wednesday Sept 27, 2023, a river of solidarity coursed through the streets of Toronto. Anishinaabe and Ojibwe Nations joined forces with 6000 marchers to push back against the Ontario government’s rampant pro-mining, pro-logging, pro-industry agenda.
We are overwhelmed by the support pouring in from communities ready to do what it takes to protect Indigenous rights.
RAVEN team members are meeting with the Breathing Lands coalition — including some members of the Land Defence Alliance, plus six other Ontario Nations.
“Being surrounded by allies and our Nation partners, hearing the speeches and chants, adds more purpose and validity to why we’re here in solidarity with these Nations. My heart is full, my cup is full, and I am re-energized to get up and go do this again tomorrow.” says Danielle Wilson, RAVEN’s Executive Director.
Danielle was present for the march in Toronto to build support for RAVEN’s Breathing Lands campaign, a far-reaching legal challenge in which 10 Nations are working together to enshrine a vision for shared land management —grounded in Indigenous caretaker values— into law. With over 20,000 permits approved for mines and other mega-projects in their territories, Nations are drawing the line: Ontario’s and Canada’s settler governments have run roughshod over Indigenous territories for long enough.
Breathing Lands Nations were in Toronto to deliver an unequivocal message.
“Government are still encroaching on the lands we love, and live off of. We want to hold on to what our Creator gave us for our youth, and for future generations. We will continue to stand strong: our elders struggled, but they never gave up. Thank you to the many people who have joined and are supporting us.” — Cecilia Begg, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Nation
This is a critical moment for the Breathing Lands challenge. The time is now for Nations to do the heavy lifting to prepare the strongest possible case. This means collecting mountains of documents, retaining expert witnesses (historians, scientists, cultural knowledge keepers), and preparing expert reports. Even before the trial, motions will be brought — by the government, but also by plaintiff Nations, i.e. injunctions to stop destructive projects. Multiply all of that by ten, and this is a very expensive process. RAVEN is making a long-term commitment, and we are calling on the RAVEN community to join us in this commitment. Join with Anishinaabe and Ojibwe leaders who are investing everything they have to restore Indigenous governance to their territories and protect their lands from an overzealous extractive industry.
This monumental case has the potential to change not only how development is carried out in the precious peatlands, but how treaties are interpreted across Canada. Says lead lawyer Kate Kempton, “Much of the so-called ‘natural resources’ that exist across Canada are threatened with rampant exploitation, at a time when the world must come together and rebuild. In order to rebuild, we have to listen to the land, and we have to turn to the Nations and cultures who listen and respect most, and facilitate their re-emergence into leadership roles. That’s what this case is about.”