Tag Archives: Urban Warrior Alliance

Blockades and bonfires — Warriors stand with Wet’suwet’en chiefs

Before Trudeau called for an end to national protests, Winnipeg’s Urban Warrior Alliance blockaded Highway 75 in support of community engaged in years-long dispute

Pipeline actions ramp up

Several people were arrested Monday when Ontario Provincial Police broke up a railway blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in the latest escalation of a conflict that began more than a year ago in British Columbia.

Since January 2019, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and community members have been resisting the construction of a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is part of a $6.6 billion project to bring natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the coast and has been approved by the provincial and federal governments. Five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils are also in support.

But the hereditary chiefs have consistently opposed the construction and set up blockades to stop work from going forward in the winter of 2019. The project has also been panned by B.C.’s human rights commission and the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination.

A report published by the Guardian late last year said authorities were prepared to use lethal force against the land defenders.

After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) moved to act on an injunction requiring the Wet’suwet’en to stand down earlier this year, solidarity demonstrations and blockades popped up around the country, including the Tyendinaga action that began over two weeks ago. In Manitoba, demonstrators have shut down Portage Avenue several times — including twice in front of the Manitoba RCMP headquarters and a rush hour rally that saw some 400 people shut down the Portage and Main intersection.

A blockade of the CN and Via Rail tracks near Headingly, Man., lasted less than 24 hours before a CN injunction was quickly approved by the courts. On Feb. 17, members of the Urban Warrior Alliance blockaded Highway 75 for several hours. Following Monday’s arrests, another series of solidarity actions sprang up, including blockades of commuter rail lines in Ontario and the second rally outside Manitoba’s Mountie headquarters. 

Manitoban columnist Cam Cannon attended the Feb. 17 highway blockade and filed the following report.

The air is rich with the smoke of a nearby bonfire.

Indigenous warriors and land defenders, clad in camouflage, are holding an emergency meeting in a large black pickup truck parked on the side of Highway 75, where a blockade of both the CN railway and the southbound lanes of the highway has been set up.

All traffic is being allowed through at the moment — everybody around the fire is in disbelief at what just happened.

Moments earlier, as Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) liaison officers dressed in plain clothes visited the blockade — informing the land defenders that the officers were there not only to protect the public, but to protect the land defenders as well — a large tractor trailer pushed through the blockade, swerving through at speed as land defenders scrambled to stop the driver.

The truck sped away, followed shortly after by an RCMP vehicle.

A land defender’s arm was “jarred” during the incident, according to Harrison Powder, a land defender with the Urban Warrior Alliance — one of Winnipeg’s warrior societies, an organization of Indigenous militants.

Land defenders completely stop all traffic in retaliation — including passenger vehicles, which earlier in the day had been allowed through while only commercial trucks were being held up.

They hold the line for about 10 more minutes before holding an emergency meeting away from their allies and the media.

The truck breaking through the blockade was only one of three separate incidents of what Black Turtle, a warrior with the Urban Warrior Alliance, described as “violence” against the land defenders during the day, including an individual who exited his vehicle to confront blockaders.

“That’s never happened before,” she said, comparing the incident to previous demonstrations.

“It’s like the temperament in some of the people has gotten a lot worse than it used to be. The anger level is higher, I guess the stakes are higher.”

“In eight years of protesting — like real heavy protesting as a land defender, doing lots of other kinds of protests, blocking highways, rail lines — this has maybe happened maybe once and today we’ve had three incidents of violence on this highway,” she said.

Overall, the attitude toward the blockade from drivers can be described as tense. People could be heard yelling obscenities from their cars with some regularity, though a few dropped off snacks as they passed through.

The blockade — established as part of a wave of ongoing peaceful protests in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk nations — was established at noon.

The RCMP were on the scene minutes later and maintained a presence for the rest of the day. Within a few hours, a court injunction was served to land defenders by RCMP officers — which they promptly threw to the wind.

“I’m kind of surprised how fast it was, it seems a little not normal,” said Powder, noting it has taken up to eight hours to be served with an injunction at previous protests.

“They’ve been getting these injunctions now in a matter of three, four hours,” he said.

“Once a blockade is going up across Canada — because it happened in Toronto, too — they had a blockade and were served within four, five hours.”

The blockade came down after 5 p.m. Amidst rising tensions over the blockades that have shuttered parts of the Canadian economy, there has been increased pressure from both the police and civilians to take down the blockades.

Although some injunctions had gone unenforced for weeks before this weekend, a blockade just south of Montreal, Que., was dismantled on Feb. 21 upon the arrival of police in riot gear.

At a press conference the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that RCMP were scaling back from Wet’suwet’en and called for all the blockades across the country, now in their third week, to come down and for the rule of law to be upheld.

A few days prior, on Feb. 19, counter-protesters — among them, members of far-right groups and movements including Yellow Vests Canada, United We Roll and Wexit, according to Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, a group that monitors the far right in Canada — dismantled a blockade outside of Edmonton, Alta.

The vigilante action was met with support on Twitter in a now-deleted tweet from Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Peter MacKay.

With rising antagonism from both the Canadian government and from Canadians themselves, Black Turtle — who said she attended the blockade out of love and a want to see reconciliation between the country and the Indigenous populations — questioned how far away that may still be.

“I think that we’re the furthest from reconciliation at this point in time than we’ve been in for a very long time,” she said.

“I think it was starting to come into that direction until this last situation occurred. I’d say that reconciliation is dead at this point.”

“It is completely dead.”

This article was first published in The Manitoban on February 25, 2020. 

[SOURCE]

First Nations Activists from Winnipeg to Blockade TransCanada Highway on Friday

Blockade at Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media

Red Power Media | June 29, 2017

For immediate release

On, June 30th, 2017, First Nations activists from Winnipeg will be shutting down a portion of the TransCanada Highway to protest the Canadian government and bring awareness to the youth suicide crisis in First Nations communities as well to the deaths of several indigenous youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Members of the American Indian Movement, Urban Warrior Alliance and Idle No More will be taking part in a pipe ceremony for youth, followed by a blockade of the highway.

Representatives from groups taking part are demanding the Liberal government increase the availability of mental health services on reserves and provide culturally appropriate resources for youth including in Manitoba. Inadequate health-care services, the loss of cultural identity and lack of proper housing are key factors contributing to the high rates of suicide and mental illness among indigenous peoples. Recently in Ontario, three 12 year old girls died by suicide at Wapekeka First Nation, located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. The latest one happened June 13th when a pre-teen girl hung herself.

The deaths of several Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay have also raised concerns about racism against Indigenous people and inadequate police investigations. First Nations leaders have expressed their lack of faith in Thunder Bay police. The York Regional Police service have been requested to investigate the deaths of Josiah Begg, 14, and Tammy Keeash, 17, found dead in McIntyre River in May. Ten indigenous people have been found dead in Thunder Bay, since 2000. Seven were First Nations students who died between 2000 and 2011 while attending high school in the Thunder Bay, hundreds of kilometres away from their remote communities where access to education is limited. Organizers of Fridays protest would like to see improvement in First Nations education and increase in funding for schooling on reserves.

Activists are requesting the RCMP respect their right to protest. They plan to start their demonstration around 12 pm just east of Winnipeg near Deacon’s corner. A press conference will also take place at that time. Activists are planning to hand out information to motorists and collect signatures on a petition calling for immediate action from the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennet, as well as the Minister of Health Jane Philpott.

Punches Thrown, Arrest Made During Counter Rally at Manitoba Legislature

A group of individuals surround a police car during a disturbance at the Manitoba Legislative Building, in Winnipeg. Saturday, June 03, 2017.

Punches Thrown at Rally at Legislature

Punches were thrown and a 22-year-old man was arrested as a rally and counter-rally collided at the Manitoba Legislature on Saturday.

The man was arrested for obstructing a peace officer but he was later released from custody on a promise to appear in court.

A group consisting of members of Fascist Free Treaty 1, the American Indian Movement, the Crazy Indian Brotherhood, and Urban Warrior Alliance confronted a group that one of their members called a “white supremacist” group.

The confrontation turned violent, as members of both sides got involved in an altercation and began throwing fists at each other. This prompted security at the Legislature to call the police.

“There was a call for several Islamophobic, ultra-nationalist and white supremacists to hold rallies all throughout Canada,” said Omar Kinnarath, a member of the Fascist Free Treaty 1 group.

In a release to the media, Kinnarath called these rallies the ‘1 million deplorable Canadian march’. According to the group’s Facebook page, the marches were being held to protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The rally of the self-styled anti-fascist group started out at City Hall, where they had planned to confront what they called a “white supremacist” group. But once they realized that the group had moved to the Legislature, they moved there to confront them.

A group of individuals shout and make an obscene gesture, while they surround a police car during adisturbance at the Manitoba Legislative Building, in Winnipeg. Saturday, June 03, 2017. Sun/Postmedia Network. Chris Procaylo/Winnipeg Sun

Upon arrival at the lawns of the Legislative building, the self-styled anti-fascist group far outnumbered the protestors from what they referred to as the “white supremacist” group. It was then that things turned violent, and punches were thrown from both sides.

Once tempers had been settled by the police and the legislature security, the self-styled anti-fascist group took their rally on to Broadway Street, directly in front of the Legislature. The police kept a close watch as the group waved flags and chanted.

According to a media release from Kinnarath, this is the third time in three months these types of confrontations have happened. He states that the first was on March 4 at City Hall to protest against The Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens. He claims this group to be a far right, anti-refugee group, and the counter protest to this group saw 300 members.

The second counter rally, according to Kinnarath’s release, came on March 19, again at City Hall. This time, another group Kinnarath claims to be on the far right, the Soldiers of Odin, organized a rally that saw 100 people there to counter their rally.

Sun/Postmedia Network

[SOURCE]

Family, Friends of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace Continue Push For Inquest A Year After Her Death

Family, friends and community members walked through Kenora in memory of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace on Monday, April 17, which marked a year since the 14-year-old Grassy Narrows First Nation teenager’s body was found across the street from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital after a two-day search. The Winnipeg-based community group Urban Warrior Alliance and members of the Winnipeg Bear Clan Patrol marched in support. Kathleen Charlebois/Daily Miner and News

By Kathleen Charlebois | Miner and News, April 18, 2017

Braeden Kokopenace held up a picture of his twin sister emblazoned with the words “We will not forget” and “#Justice4Azraya” for all to see during a march in her memory.

He and Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace’s family, friends and community members from Grassy Narrows First Nation walked from Knox United Church to the wooded site across from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital where Azraya’s body was found after a two-day search a year ago on April 17. She disappeared from the hospital after police brought her there.  Friends, family and provincial representatives continue to press for inquest into her death.

Braeden said Azraya was “a sweet girl” who he loved and cared for. “I want justice for my sister,” he said during a press conference at the vigil. “She didn’t deserve to be treated like that by police.”

He referred to a video that showed a Kenora OPP officer in an altercation with Azraya a few weeks before her death, and he said he believes the incident impacted her badly. “I think it put fear into our community,” he said.

Braeden also said both youth and elders have been mourning for her in the year since her death. “Justice for my sister would mean answers about what happened to her and improving the system so less suicides take place,” he said.

Azraya’s aunt Lorenda Kokopenace said her niece’s death has been difficult to bear and the system “really failed all of them.”

She said she feels like the Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services, who had Azraya in their custody, is another kind of residential school system.

“That stuff needs to stop, and we need to all work together and quit sending our kids away,” Lorenda said. “She wanted to come home and they ignored that.”
Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth in Ontario, said he has written in the past to the regional supervising coroner, Dr. Michael Wilson, to ask for an inquest.

Wilson said last October that the involvement of Child Protective Services adds “additional elements” to his investigation and requires more time, although Kenora Rainy-River MPP Sarah Campbell and Azraya’s family say an inquest is legally required as Azraya was in police custody when she died.

“A coroner’s inquest will investigate and explain circumstances around Azraya’s death and will provide us with the first step that we need to go forward so we can prevent the further loss of Indigenous youth,” Campbell said.

After walking through Kenora, marchers visited the memorial site across from the hospital, where they lit candles and put down tobacco.

Azraya’s friend Kyra Fobister shared that she often visits her friend’s grave in her home community and talks and plays songs they both like.

“We as a whole deserve to know the truth,” she said. “It may not bring her back but it’s our only way to cope with everyday life without her.”

http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2017/04/18/family-friends-of-azraya-ackabee-kokopenace-continue-push-for-inquest-a-year-after-her-death

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Indigenous Groups Take Stand Against Drug Dealing and Violence at Portage Place Mall

Police presence as Indigenous activists gathered at the back of Portage Place Mall. Photo: Red Power Media

Indigenous activists want to deter drug dealing at downtown mall

A group of Indigenous activists are making their presence known around Winnipeg’s Portage Place Mall to deter drug activity.

Members of the Urban Warrior Alliance and Crazy Indians Brotherhood have been congregating near the back entrance of the shopping Centre since mid-week.

The area in back of the mall is a well-known drug dealing site for pills and other narcotics.

Both groups have been occupying space where the drug dealers hang out and peacefully confronting those involved with the drug activity.

Activists say there is too much violence happening in and around the mall because of the drugs.

According to Vin Clarke, a member of the Urban Warrior Alliance “The women and the children don’t feel safe. The elders don’t feel safe walking through the back [of the mall] so we decided we’re going to shut all this down.”

Red Power Media was there when the groups first gathered on Thursday and spoke with organizers who said they planned to remain at the mall for the weekend. They are also planning a prayer walk on Sunday starting noon at the back of the shopping centre.

More than a dozen people rallied behind the mall on Saturday afternoon, some with drums, while warriors in camo waved Unity flags.

Denny Wood, an activist with the Alliance, said they are trying to send a message to drug dealers.

Wood told CBC News they have talked to dealers who try to sell pills like Tylenol 3 and Xanax. He said once activists have the pills in their hands they confiscate them. “We dump it right in front of them.”

Vivian Ketchum, a frequent shopper of the mall, found a drug baggie, a needle and a pill on the ground just steps outside of the back steps of the mall while a CBC camera was rolling.

The action by the groups started after an elder from the indigenous community had her cell phone stolen. The woman told Red Power Media she was recording an incident at the back entrance involving drug dealers with a gun when someone else took her phone to get rid of the evidence.

Tatty, who is with the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, said people have been robbed at gunpoint behind the Portage mall, including his aunt. She was robbed at gunpoint last week and had her purse taken.

“They wanted money to get more drugs,” he said.

Security for the Portage Place Shopping Centre refused to make a comment to Red Power Media about the allegations. The Winnipeg Police have so far also refused to make a statement about the activists presence at the mall.

In a video recorded by Red Power Media, members of the urban warrior alliance dump pills in a puddle and then crush them.

By Black Powder, RPM Staff