Locally, we have witnessed and been inspired by the strength and leadership demonstrated by members of our program and those who have organized in Six Nations of the Grand River, Hamilton, Brantford, Tyendinaga, Kahnawake, and elsewhere in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. We commend their efforts and lend our support to those defending Indigenous territories. We are especially cognizant of the efforts made by those Indigenous students at McMaster University who have been educating their peers, steadily organizing on the ground, and risking arrest.
The hereditary leaders of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council at Six Nations of the Grand River have encouraged, supported, and shaped the Indigenous Studies Program since its inception nearly thirty years ago. As such, we remain committed to the preservation of the sovereign and self-determining powers of the hereditary leadership and Indigenous governance systems that have been, and continue to be, the target of Canada’s ongoing colonial occupation since the introduction of the Enfranchisement Act of 1869 and continued through the Indian Act today. The current events led by the Canadian government, province of British Columbia, RCMP and OPP, as well as various corporate interests, are not disconnected from the past but rather demonstrate the ongoing attempt to remove Indigenous peoples from their lands, whether unceded or shared through treaties, and undermine the authority of Indigenous governance systems.
As Canada and its institutions continue to espouse the discourse of reconciliation as a pathway forward, the events of the past months (and past 150 years) point to the state’s desire for assimilation. The authority to govern Wet’suwet’en territory is properly Wet’suwet’en. Canada, nor any arm of the state can disavow this right. We stand with the Wet’suwet’en and all Indigenous nations in the sustained protection of our territories.
The Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University