Words by Rhea Singh
Photography by Jimmy Kwan
“Peaceful” was the most common word land defenders used during the blockade on the railway tracks in the Dundas and Jane area, which took place Tuesday. As land defenders took to the tracks, they made sure to make other land defenders and arriving police aware that the blockade was peaceful.
That’s what it was. Peaceful. From the start until around 5 p.m., land defenders were beading, singing, playing Indigenous music and talking about what to expect once the Toronto Police Services (TPS) arrived. Once the TPS did arrive, they didn’t bring the same mindset as the land defenders.
Within the hour, eight arrests were made. One was made against a woman who was quietly beading and another land defender was dragged through the mud below the tracks. Soon enough, TPS began to threaten to arrest anyone who continued to stay on the tracks.
Every rally, blockade and protest is labelled peaceful for a reason. The message of solidarity and supporting peacefully has been deeply rooted in these events.
But for the TPS, RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police, who have forcefully removed land defenders from railways, campsites and to some, their own land—that doesn’t seem to be the case.
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Correction: The blockade took place Tuesday, not Monday, as previously stated in this article.