Police arrested five land and water defenders
On 18th April, 155,000 public sector employees belonging to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) went on strike to protest salary and other workplace issues after talks with the government failed to produce a new workplace agreement. Described as one of the largest strikes in the country’s history, organisers say picket lines will be set up at more than 250 locations and that the bargaining teams would continue to negotiate throughout the strike. The union is also seeking more flexibility for workers who want to work from home. The government said the offers it has made are more than fair and that PSAC’s demands are too costly.
On 30 March police arrested at least five people on Wet’suwet’en territory near the construction of a natural gas pipeline that runs through central British Columbia. Police responded to a complaint filed by an oil and gas worker with Coastal GasLink who reported that he had been “swarmed” by protestors wearing masks, that flares were allegedly fired and that a chainsaw had been stolen from the work site. The next day police disrupted the protest and arrested one person for allegedly preventing the police from conducting a search and four more people for refusing to follow police orders. “This harassment and intimidation is exactly the kind of violence designed to drive us from our homelands,” said Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks in a press release.
The constant threat of violence and criminalization for merely existing on our own lands must have been what our ancestors felt when Indian agents and RCMP were burning us out of our homes as late as the 50s in our area. -
On 4th April dozens of protesters rallied outside the Canadian Public Safety Ministry office in Toronto demanding an end to an asylum treaty between Canada and the United States after eight people died by drowning as they tried to cross into the country. Protesters presented a petition to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, whose office is responsible for border patrol. Syed Hussan of Migrant Workers Alliance said the petition had thousands of signatures calling for the end of the treaty and demanding permanent resident status for all migrants. The deaths come less than two weeks after the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) pact was amended, allowing refugee claimants to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive in.
On 25th March people protested outside the US embassy in Ottawa to demonstrate against the visit of President Joe Biden, and against sending weapons to Ukraine. Chanting slogans, holding placards and waving flags, attendees said western aid to Ukraine is undermining peace and stability in the region, calling on Washington to stop spreading war. The event marked the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO, and the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
On 1st April over 100 people protested outside the Vancouver Art Gallery prior to marching to a prominent bank to take part in a nation-wide day of action against bank funding of fossil fuel projects. People demonstrated in 40 locations across the country to voice their opposition to the Royal Bank of Canada’s funding of fossil fuel projects. Eve Saint, a Wet’suwet’en land defender who spoke at the Toronto protest, said a Wet’suwet’en delegation is hoping to meet with RBC president and CEO Dave McKay. “We are going down a very scary path,” Saint said in an interview, citing extreme weather events such as flooding and fires as examples of the effects of the climate crisis.
In April students facing deportation from Canada after receiving fake college offer letters given to them by a travel company organised a protest in Toronto to request the Canadian government to revoke its decision to deport them. Most of the students are from India. “We have come here in the hope of a great future and have worked hard. We completed our degrees from good Canadian institutes, we got work permits from the government here and our records are all clean. We have been paying all taxes ever since we entered here and now on what basis are we being asked to leave this country?” said one student.
In March B.C. residents with ties to India's Punjab region gathered in Vancouver to protest the Indian government’s alleged persecution of a prominent community leader. Organisers of the protest said after Amritpal Singh stormed a police station in India, authorities placed restrictions on gatherings and a blackout of media and internet connections affecting more than an estimated 20 million people. "We're here to show our dissent, our displeasure against the Indian state for this suspension of civil liberties and violation of human rights," said one attendee.
On 17th April about 500 people rallied outside the provincial legislature in Newfoundland to demand government action on the province's most lucrative fishing area. Members of the Fish, Food & Allied Workers Union, many of whom held signs with messages like, "People Over Profit" and "End Processor Control", say they can't afford to fish crab at the current rate set earlier this month by the government. The current rate of $2.20 per pound, submitted by the provincial Association of Seafood Producers and accepted by the government's price-setting panel, represents a steep drop from the near $8 per pound last season.
In early April, a lawmaker proposed a bill that would criminalise “offensive remarks” within 100 meters of a drag show, including so-called drag queen story hours for children. If passed, the measure would create a “2SLGBTQIA+ community safety zone” around drag shows and other LGBTIQ+ events in Ontario. Anyone who protests within the zone would be subject to a $25,000 fine under the legislation. “Any homophobic, transphobic act of intimidation, threat, offensive threats, offensive remarks, protest, disturbance, and distribution of hate propaganda” would be prohibited by law if the bill passes, said sponsor Kristyn Wong-Tam. Free speech advocates say the bill “would penalize free speech and the right to protest, both of which are protected under Canada’s constitution.”
Civic Space Developments