Endangered Turtle (August 2014)

 
 
 
The goal of this event was to make space to discuss the  dangers of tar sands pipelines to humyns, animals and the Earth.
 
We created space to share knowledge and skills about ongoing efforts to resist tar sands expansion and continued construction of pipelines around the continent of Turtle Island (otherwise known as North America). The questions we were trying to answer in this event included:
  • How do we help animals being threatened by tar sands pipelines?
  • In what ways are animals put at risk by projects like Line 9 and Northern Gateway?
  • Can we integrate the needs of nonhuman animals with ongoing campaigns for Indigenous sovereignty and environmental defense? 
While we had speakers giving report-backs from active anti-pipeline efforts and speakers offering practical hands-on strategies, we also made particular emphasis for this event to be about indigenous women explaining how we can all learn to practice long-term animal solidarity through historical wisdom and current lived experiences.
 
After the event finished, we organized a caravan to join the then-ongoing blockade of a Line 9 construction site –  being led by Dam Line 9.
 
This event happened on occupied territory of the Attawandaron (Neutral) people on whose traditional territory the University of Guelph resides. Offering respect to our Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Métis neighbours, whom which we strive to strengthen our relationships with them & to honour the Two Row Wampum. A land acknowledgement such as this one does not exist in a past tense, but as a current ongoing process and something we need to build mindfulness of over our present participation.
 
For a comprehensive summary of how pipelines are killing and endangering so many animals, please read Pipelines are bad for animals.
 
While ELK hosted this event for folks living in/around Attawandaron Territory (within the colonial borders of ontario) (https://www.facebook.com/events/861072117253849/),
there was a sister event created for folks living in/around Coast Salish Territories (within the colonial borders of british colombia) (https://www.facebook.com/events/262828480569414/).
 
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Sâkihitowin Awâsis, presenting “Re-visioning Relations”
Spoken word has the transformative potential to be healing, empowering, and confrontational. It provides a way of resisting and dismantling colonialism and other oppressive systems that degrade our relationship to the land, water, animal beings, ourselves, and each other. This workshop will explore the role spoken word, as an act of truth-telling, has in anti-colonial and anti-pipeline struggles that are working towards the liberation of all living beings.

Awâsis is a Michif (Oji-Cree Métis) spoken word artist, educator, and community organizer currently helping to cultivate resistance to the tar sands pipelines locally and illegal occupation of Indigenous lands globally. As a dedicated advocate for environmental justice, her work is very much focused on drawing connections between the health and well-being of the Earth and Indigenous families. She is continuously inspired by acts of decolonization, resurgence, and community healing.

Vanessa Gray, presenting “The Front Line Reality of Canada’s Chemical Valley”
A look at the slow industrial violence in the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Canada’s oil addiction has left toxic water, polluted air and the displacement of all indigenous beings.

Vanessa Gray is a Anishinaabe kwe from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, located in Canada’s Chemical Valley. In 2009 Vanessa started an environmental youth group called Aamjiwnaang Green Teens to bring environmental awareness to the community. In 2012 she co-founded ASAP(Aamjiwnaang + Sarnia Against Pipelines), in 2013 she organized Idle No More actions, and today she continues to organize against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal. Vanessa is currently working to restore and take back traditional territory.

Chloe Gleichman, of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS), presenting “Mine is Yours: Collective Struggle, Heartbreak, and Strength”
The word fighting gets thrown around a lot. We’re fighting pipelines. We’re fighting fracking. We’re fighting corporations. But there are some who, quite literally, are fighting for their lives. And in a way we are all fighting for our lives, because when this culture tries to kill any of us, it’s trying to kill all of us. First it’s their home, then it’s his body, then her mind, then their family, but you can be certain it will one day be you.
This talk will feature a synopsis of Enbridge’s ventures in so-called Michigan, a discussion of the 2010 tar sands disaster in Kalamazoo, and examples of how the MI CATS have fought back. Relating all of this to the larger fight for autonomy and justice, we will have a conversation about collective struggle, solidarity, and resilience in this age of industrial domination.

The MI CATS are a group working toward stopping all transportation and refining of tar sands oil in the Great Lakes Basin. She is an activist, organizer, and friend interested in issues related to the environment, prison abolition, and the justice system’s role in criminalizing dissent. Chloe is also passionate about destigmatizing mental illness and exposing the connection between state domination and the deterioration of psychological health. Chloe will be starting law school in 2015 with the intention of becoming a criminal defense attorney. Outside of her work and activism, Chloe enjoys cooking, writing poetry, water, seasons, and ambiguity.

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Wolfgang Chrapko, presenting “Report Back from Dam Line 9!”
Wolf provides a first-hand report back from the Dam Line 9 occupation against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline.

Wolf is a white settler, currently occupying stolen Chonnonton/Attawandaron Territory in so-called Guelph. For the past 2 years their activist focus has primarily been anti-pipeline and anti-tar sands organizing. They use banner-making, silk-screening and graphic design as tools of the revolution.

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pjpattrice jones, presenting “Intersectionality in Action: Situated Strategic Planning for Effective Activism”
Change is certain. The only question is which direction it will go. Rather than pouring their energy into spectacular, but futile, expressions of dissent, activists can and should analyze situations in
order to envision interventions likely to lead to desired outcomes. Since everything really is connected, those strategies must take ecologies into account, including both material circumstances and social systems. Unfortunately, straight-line thinking is ill-equiped to grapple with the complexities of overlapping and intersecting social and material systems. Luckily, there are many ways for individuals and groups to become better able to see connections, cross-currents, and opportunities for effective intervention and to imagine creative ways to seize those opportunities. So, let’s learn to think like rivers rather than pipelines!

pattrice jones is a cofounder of VINE Sanctuary and the author, most recently, of “The Oxen at the Intersection: A Collision”. Her activist history dates back to the 1970s and includes work in the feminist, anti-racist, disability rights, LGBTQ liberation, and anti-poverty movements. She has taught college and university courses on the theory and praxis of social change activism, with an emphasis on coalition building and effective responses to specific situations. VINE is an LGBTQ-run farmed animal sanctuary that works within an ecofeminist understanding of the intersection of oppressions. Carol Adams and Lori Gruen’s new book, “Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth” includes pattrice’s new essay, “Eros and the Mechanisms of Eco-Defense,” which may be of particular interest to attendees of this event.

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lynnDr. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-Kwe, presenting “Indigenous Knowledge: Where is It and Who has It”
Many Indigenous people and organizations are interested in harnessing and incorporating traditional Indigenous knowledge into their policies, practices, research, and ethics. This is a much needed shift as it is apparent the current paradigm is not working for humans and all the beings that came before us. In this talk I draw from the Anishinaabe knowledge tradition discussing what is meant by Indigenous Knowledge, answering such questions as where is it, and who has it, and are the Indigenous nations of Turtle Island the only people who have Indigenous Knowledge?
Drawing on the Anishinaabe Creation Story and the Clan System of Governance I will talk about our place in Creation and the responsibilities we have in this place. I will also talk about the wholistic nature of Anishinaabe knowledge and the importance for people to value the 2 intelligence of the heart in a way that they begin to look more critically at their own thinking process so as not to be manipulated by the current order of capitalism, materialism, and resource extraction.

Lynn is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley, Ontario, Canada. She describes herself as a learner-researcher, thinker, writer, Black Face blogger, and she has been an Indigenous human rights advocate for 25 years. Lynn works to eliminate the continued sex discrimination in the Indian Act, and she is also an outspoken critic of the contemporary land claims and self-government process. She has a doctorate in Indigenous Studies, a Master of Arts in Canadian and Native Studies, and an undergraduate degree in Anthropology. She also has a diploma in Chemical Technology and worked in the field of environmental science for 12 years in the area of toxic organic analysis of Ontario’s waterways. While advocating for change is currently part of what she does, she is also interested in traditional knowledge systems that guide the Anishinaabeg forward to a good life.

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