Members of No One Is Illegal spoke Wednesday afternoon at a session on First Nations solidarity activism, to discuss how the struggle of Native peoples can be supported from a no-borders perspective. In their presentations, Jaggi Singh, Robyn Maynard, and Sareta Ahooja all discussed aspects of anti-capitalist resistance, decolonization, and anti-racism.
Singh began the presentation by explaining No One Is Illegal’s belief that the institution of national border protection represents an inherent system of violence and racism. He discussed various examples of border protection policies that result in the death or imprisonment of thousands of would-be immigrants all over the world, and asserted that all people deserve the right to migrate, resist displacement, and return to their lands of origin.
“Migration today is not just some arbitrary phenomenon; it’s the result of hundreds of years of colonialism and imperialism,” said Singh.
Maynard then focused the discussion more narrowly on Canada’s history of displacing, subjugating, and disenfranchising First Nations peoples. “It’s important that we see Canada as a settler state that came about as a result of genocide, theft, and warfare,” she said.
Maynard explained that status Indians were barred from voting in federal elections until 1960, and briefly discussed the federal government’s residential schools, which operated under a largely pro-assimilation mandate and were notoriously abusive toward their students.
“Colonialism isn’t over in Canada,” she said. “There’s still land being taken on a day-to-day basis.”
Ahooja expanded upon Maynard’s presentation by discussing the conditions faced by Mohawks living near the Canada-U.S. border, including the loss of their traditional lands, and a history of working as migrant laborers and steelworkers in urban centres across North America. She then launched into a discussion of the border dispute stemming from the arming of customs agents at the Mohawk reserve of Akwesasne.
“We have to get beyond the legalese of these struggles and focus instead on principles of humanity, as a part of the larger point of resisting global apartheid,” Ahooja said.