Six Nations Reclamation
An Interview with a fighter in the Six Nations struggle
By Aaron Mercredi
The following is an interview with Neecha, an Indigenous woman activist who has been involved in the struggle at Six Nations. Neecha was in Vancouver recently to talk about the situation on the ground over there and to build support and solidarity in Vancouver.
Fire This Time: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Neecha: My name is Neecha and from the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe Nation of Northwest Ontario.
FTT: Why did you go and support Six Nations?
Neecha: Because my friends called me up and asked me to go to Six Nations. I didnít really know why I was supposed to go to Six Nations, but I went because my friends needed me.
FTT: How long were you at the reclamation site for?
Neecha: 3 months, 2 weeks and one day.
FTT: And what was the situation like there?
Neecha: At the beginning, it was just a handful of people that stood together. To this day a lot of us are still involved. It just got bigger from then. The OPP was supposed to come in mid March to serve us with some papers that would pretty much tell us to vacate the land. And on that day, they were supposed to come and remove us from the site. Thatís when a lot of people started showing up, because they knew that was the actual deadline. And what we did with the papers is we just chucked it in the sacred fire because we didnít accept it. We didnít look at it. We didnít take it. We just threw it out because it didnít really apply to the First Nations people, because within the confederacy they have their own governance, a nation within a nation.
A lot of people diminished because there wasnít a lot we could do in regards to the OPP coming in. It was just a matter of time of when they were going to come in. So we started building infrastructures and getting a lot of support from Toronto, Guelph and local areas. Mainly young college students that believe the First Nations struggle is something that is really important, taking the awareness back to their campuses wherever they network. You know, itís really important that the solidarity is shown and a lot of participation is taken. A lot of actions have taken place in solidarity with six nations. A lot of groups and organizations have written letters of support and have organized protests and rallies and brought awareness to whatís happening in Six Nations because a lot of stuff that you hear out there is not really true.
What happens behind the barricades is one thing that theyíll never see. Thereís a lot of stuff that happens behind the barricades. Thereís a lot of talking, a lot of sharing. Thereís a lot of people that come with their own life experiences and they pass it on and its all good because when somebody speaks and somebody has an understanding, maybe two people to your side will have an understanding also and they can explain to another person later on.
So, with that being said, letís move on to 4:20. April 20, 2006. Thatís the day that the OPP came in to try and remove our people from the site, which they were pretty successful considering they had to beat us and taser us, choke us and handcuff us. I guess they had to do what they had to do get us out. Because it took a while, it took a lot of work on behalf of the OPP to do the research, the documentation, get the papers in order and to actually get the manpower to come out there and actually remove us which was pretty funny because my friend, one of the women who was actually sleeping in the RV, was actually got woken up by getting kicked in the ribs by the OPP. Because she didnít know what it was, she just rolled over and went back to bed. But what happened is that she got kicked in the ribs again and thatís when she got woken up, and when she stood up one of the women OPP actually grabbed her by the throat and started squeezing her throat. And my friend, of course sheís defending herself, so she punched that OPP in the face. And by doing that, thatís when they tackled her and threw her to the ground and put the handcuffs on her. And then they brought her in to custody.
Eventually, they moved in to Silver Pines and thatís when it actually hit the fan. Thatís pretty much what is being portrayed in the media. Silver Pines is the actual place of confrontation between the OPP and the Haudenesaunee territory. The morning they came in, they pretty much occupied Silver Pines. The OPP were standing on the site and our original people were standing on the road. Thereís actual footage out there that Iíve been showing. It isnít ready for the world yet, but is circulating among our own people because I think it is really important that our people see it first because its really important that our people know how our people are being treated. I guess weíre all being treated bad in different ways, but having it on footage is pretty powerful. But it is out there and hopefully you guys will see it sometime. On the footage, it doesnít show the actual invasion, or the actual impact, but is shows an hour later after they came in. and it shows the OPP in Silver Pines. It shows our people on the road. And it shows us marching the OPP back off the land because you know what, itís our land. There were too many of us because a call was made to all nations. Itís been made throughout Six Nations and surrounding territories to where people are travelling from all over just to come stand with us. And once there was enough people there, my friend Mike played his drum and he played the menís warrior song and thatís when everyoneís spirits were getting ready to awaken and stand up and be strong. And I think that was pretty awesome because just playing that one song on the drum is what brought the spirit back to the people and thatís when they started walking and started pushing the OPP off the land and eventually off sixth line. And after that, they walked to the front line and again there they had around 50 OPPs on the front line.
FTT: What kind of solidarity has come from other Indigenous nations and non-Indigenous people?
Neecha: On the morning of the raid, I heard that at Tyendinaga, they shut down the railway. I heard that Akwesasne, they shut down the international bridge. They marched across it really slowly, apparently. At Kanasetake and Kahnawake, they shut down the Mercier Bridge. And that was just to show in the Mohawk nation, in the confederacy what they have done. In different provinces, there were different solidarity protests and rallies that have taken place. In British Columbia, I guess they had a march from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the bridge at Stanley Park and blocked that, which was pretty awesome. We heard that something was done in the states also. And I think a lot of non-native organizations, like CUPE, and so many people and countries that have shown solidarity. Like, so many countries. Weíve been hanging flags from different countries. You know, weíve teamed up with Palestine, with the Palestinians. Weíve teamed up with so many nations. There are always people from different nations wanting to find out about whatís going on up here. We got a call recently from Colombia wanting to find out whatís going on up here. A lot of people have been sending letters of support and financial donations. A lot of people have been bringing awareness about whatís happening with Six Nations. Itís just so amazing.
FTT: What do you see as the way forward in the struggle against colonialism, against land theft, against the destruction of the environment, and everything that the colonial government of Canada has been doing against us for hundreds of years?
Neecha: I think weíve got to protect our natural resources. Because, you know what? Thatís the one thing that Canada wants. They want the natural resources and thatís what theyíre looking for. Thatís what they live, thatís what they want. And if our people were to actually stand up for 24 hours, on D-Day, on June 29th, a lot of different people are going to start in their individual territories and own individual mines, they are going to take it upon themselves to show the government of Canada that weíre not alone. And I think its really important for people to know that weíre not doing this in spite. Weíre just doing this because we want them to listen. Because emails donít work, faxes donít work. Telephone calls donít work. Letter-writing doesnít work. Weíve been doing it for so many years. Supreme court rulings donít work. Talking to your MP doesnít work. Talking to your provincial members of parliament doesnít work. Weíve been through these avenues I donít know how many times. People have been doing so much work trying to create awareness and get some pro-active actions done and the bottom line is that nothing works. But for us, itís the whole destruction of our lands. Itís the destruction of who we are. And you know what? Iím not going to take it and I donít think anybody else wants to take it either. Like Iíve been telling people, our worlds are colliding. Itís the world of the natural ways versus the European colonial thinking, which is just money, money, money. And they make the money off our natural resources. And my opinion from my heart is that we should just shut down this country and then weíll see what happens. You know, Dalton McGuinty said to us: ďTake down the barricades, or weíll see.Ē Well, you know what? Weíll see what happens. Weíll see what we can do. Weíll see what our people can come up with. Weíll see you, man. Thatís the whole thing with this whole ďweíll see,Ē you know? Weíll see you there.
FTT: Thanks a lot for the interview.
Back to Article Listing