For Immediate Release
MIKISEW CREE FIRST NATION
February 4, 2022
MIKISEW CREE FIRST NATION CHIEF AND COUNCIL DENOUNCE THE SYSTEMIC RACISM THAT EXISTS
Fort Chipewyan, Alberta — Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief and Council denounce the systemic racism that is glaringly obvious with the anti-vaccine “freedom convoy” occupations and blockades that are happening throughout the country and specifically in Alberta on our relations, Kainai’s traditional territory.
In 2020 and 2021, the Alberta government was swift to target largely Indigenous protesters for showing solidarity with land defenders in BC and Ontario. When a rail line was blocked in Edmonton, the province was quick to pass Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, and police immediately moved to enforce it, arresting Indigenous individuals who were peacefully protesting. Calls for the rule of law were loud from the Alberta government.
Yet, the rule of law doesn’t appear to apply to the occupiers. There is little to no enforcement while critical infrastructure is blocked, hate speech, intimidation and defacing property is allowed to continue. To the contrary, the Alberta government has acceded to the occupiers demands with a plan to eliminate the Restriction Exemption Program (“REP”) – a plan that has boosted vaccination and in turn protected our vulnerable Members and isolated community.
Chief Peter Powder agrees: “We are troubled by what is happening in southern Alberta and across the country. The occupations show the racism in the way that government and law enforcement deal with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people protesting. Our people are overrepresented across the criminal justice system, from victims of crime to over-incarceration. The law applies unequally to our people, who receive criminal records for minor offences, while we watch occupiers violate the law without any consequence.”
“The laws in this province have targeted First Nation people and prevented us from peaceful protests on in our own territories. Where are the rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas and police in riot gear and arrests? These protesters are clearly a threat to national security, spewing hate, blocking critical infrastructure and access for emergency vehicles. In Alberta, there have seen no arrests, at all”.
“We stand with Indigenous Peoples across this country, whose territory is unlawfully being used to promote hate, fear and violence. We call on the Alberta government and the RCMP to protect our communities from the insidious and real danger of the occupations.”
For more information:
Dr. Rohan Ghatak, Chief Executive Officer, Mikisew Cree First Nation