A truck and a camper head up line of vehicles about to enter Ottawa

Union of BC Indian Chiefs joins First Nations opposition to ‘Freedom Convoy’

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is the latest First Nations group to speak against the so called truckers ‘Freedom Convey’ which pulled into Ottawa on January 29th.  

According to the BBC, what began as a protest against truckers needing to prove they have been vaccinated before entering Canada, appears to have become a cry for all pandemic measures to be repealed.

The organizers have allegedly pledged to keep going “for as long as it takes… until Canada is a free nation again”.

in his morning facebook broadcast from Ottawa, a trucker calling himself ‘the crackpot farmer’ said the leaders of his movement are holding a press conference with all the media at 1 PM eastern time today (Feb 9th). 

He added, “that’s an interesting development because, up until now, we’ve kind of not been on speaking terms with those people.”

Screenshot of Chief Judy Wilson taken during our interview

 Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary/Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said, “We were seeing the concerns with the other nations, like Algonquin and some of the nations in Alberta. They didn’t feel they were being respected. That’s not a good way to ask for our support or for our involvement. That’s actually belittling  and putting our people down. It didn’t feel quite like a freedom for Indigenous people.”

Last Friday, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians issued a press release stating, “Among the many images of the convoy protest in Ottawa are videos of people dancing using Indigenous hand drums, participating in a mock peace pipe ceremony, and the use of what appears to be a sacred fire. Grand Chief Joel Abram states ‘This is completely unacceptable and it’s making a mockery of all Indigenous Peoples.’” 

First Nations leaders in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta condemned the Truckers misappropriation of First Nations ceremonies.

The President of the Manitoba Metis condemned the truckers use of Métis symbols, like their sash, adding: 

“Canadians and Red River Métis Citizens always have the right to protest, but as your elected representatives, we have the duty to inform all Canadians that these individuals and this convoy in no way represent what we believe in. We are all in this together and staying together is the only way we will be able to walk the path to the other side of this pandemic.”

A number media images show truckers carrying confederate flags and even swastikas

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs issued a press release stating, “In Ottawa, not only were racist flags flown, racist signs paraded around, monuments desecrated, and a homeless shelter threatened, thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles occupied downtown Ottawa – the traditional territory of the Algonquin Peoples. The Algonquin Nation has called the actions occurring in their territory “unacceptable,” stating they did not support the set-up of a teepee, the pipe ceremony and sacred fire in Confederation Park. The appropriation of Indigenous culture to serve a divisive, misinformed agenda is horrific and indicative of the hateful, racist nature of the protests occurring across Canada.”

Wilson added that truckers have also made remarks about Islamic immigrants and people of colour. 

“This is displaced racism and discrimination against people who are already struggling and people who are already trying to make a better life here in Canada,” she said.

Wilson pointed out that, regardless of what people may think, a lot of people are in the hospital, some have died and many have severe complications from COVID. Her sister (a nurse) and mother are among those that came down with COVID, and her mother still does not have any sense of taste or smell.

People were lining up along the highway when the truckers convoy came through Wilson’s territory. She knows people who participated. They said if it was about freedom, yes, they would support it, but ‘then they found out it was actually more about other things.’

“I would just encourage people to really check out  what the messages really are, who they’re coming from, what their origins are and what kind of environment this is creating,” said Wilson. “It’s not creating a democracy or a true Recognition of  people as human beings.”

Top image credit: Freedom Convoy lined up on Wellington Street on the evening of Jan 28, 2022 – screenshot by Jimmy Superstarz from his video which has been taken down from Youtube via wikimedia (CC By SA, 3.0 License)

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