Monday, August 22, 2005

Warriors No More?

What follows is the final communique of the West Coast Warrior Society and some of my thoughts and reflections below:


The West Coast Warrior Society has disbanded.

As a result of the unlawful and unethical activities of Canadian police agencies in targeting our members and our organization, and the unfair branding of Indigenous activists as terrorists, we have concluded that it is no longer possible for us to be effective in carrying out our responsibility to defend Indigenous lands, communities, and rights as we have been doing. The police have used lies, misinformation, threats and intimidation by law and force to create a climate of fear surrounding our organization and have undermined our support.

It must be understood that we are first and foremost men who are committed to our families and communities. This commitment is stronger than our adherence to an ideology or allegiance to an organization. We have talked with and listened to our elders, our women, and our children, and it is out of love and respect for them and concern for their well-being and security that we have decided to end our association and operations.

We have never advocated the use of violence to advance our cause. We reiterate that our actions in Burnt Church, Cheam, Esowista and Saanich, and in all of our other involvements, were acts of self-defense. They were legitimate and justified responses to the direct threat posed to Indigenous peoples by racist policies and overzealous law enforcement agencies. We restate our disavowal of the use of violent means to achieve the goal of Indigenous self-determination. However, the police killings of Dudley George, J.J. Harper, Neil Stonechild, Anthany Dawson and thousands more of our people confirm the need for us to maintain the right to defend ourselves and protect our families from physical harm.

We restate our dedication to fight for the survival of our people and to protect our way of life. Our communities, cultures, and lands must be defended. We are disbanding as an organization dedicated to the physical defense of Indigenous communities and we are embarking on the path of strictly nonviolent political and social struggle. We are rededicating ourselves today as warriors and we are committing to advance Indigenous people’s cultural and political and social resurgence.

Coast Salish Territory
August 2, 2005

"We have always been wit woq (warriors) and always will be. They can never take that away from us. We were always wiiuk (brave, courageous) and we need to be that again." - Quote from a respected Nuu-chah-nulth elder

I was involved with the West Coast Warrior Society for a little more than a year, and while I saw a limited amount of "action" I have always appreciated the original intent - to defend the people and the land. The role of various warrior societies was never more prevalent than when the Canadian government deployed its military or paramilitary forces in places like Kanehsatake, Esgenoopetitj, Gustafson Lake or Cheam. While embracing non-violent resistance, I will always advocate for the right for Indigenous people to defend themselves.

In a post-9/11 world the military power of the state and the freedom to abuse its power can be overwhelming. After a few weeks of armed struggle the world witnessed the Zapatistas begin a campaign of non-violent resistance. This year also marked the laying down of arms by the Irish Republican Army. We are in a new era of resistance to imperialism/neo-liberalism/globalization and Indigenous resurgence. In resisting and resurging it is imperative that we not become like our oppressors. We must also realize the futility of attempting to meet the imperial powers on their own terms and on their terrain. If we are to not only survive, but thrive as Indigenous people, our resistance must come from the embracing of our ways, our livlihoods, language and culture.

I believe we will be warriors always, however we will begin to choose the time and place of communal resurgence and no longer react to government and corporate infringement. As Indigenous warriors it is not only our duty to preserve life, but to preserve our way and quality of life. Like the tide, we will rise, unstoppable, strong and fluid - by the best means possible - realizing and being who we are.


Post a Comment

<< Home