A lesson for nonviolent action and against genocide

Kolin Sutherland-Wilson speaks eloquently

Climate Strikers hand mic to Indigenous Youth

Teen climate strikers with Our Earth Our Future chose not to speak from the stage at the BC Legislature today, and instead handed the mic to the Indigenous youth sitting in to support of the Wet’suwet’en people. The RCMP were attacking #Wetsuweten land defenders during that day’s #ClimateStrike, in an attempt to get a fracked gas pipeline built. #WetsuwetenStrong #FridaysForFuture


Indigenous people in Canada are giving the world a demonstration of the power of nonviolent action. The justness of their cause — defending the land from those who would destroy it for short term profit and the elimination of a habitable climate on earth — combined with their courage and the absence on their part of cruelty or hatred, has the potential to create a much larger movement, which is of course the key to success.

This is a demonstration of nothing less than a superior alternative to war, not just because the war weapons of the militarized Canadian police may be defeated by the resistance of the people who have never been conquered or surrendered, but also because the Canadian government could accomplish its aims in the wider world better by following a similar path, by abandoning the use of war for supposedly humanitarian ends and making use of humanitarian means instead. Nonviolence is simply more likely to succeed in domestic and international relations than violence. War is not a tool for preventing but for facilitating its identical twin, genocide.

Of course, the indigenous people in “British Columbia,” as around the world, are demonstrating something else as well, for those who care to see it: a way of living sustainably on earth, an alternative to earth-violence, to the raping and murdering of the planet — an activity closely linked to the use of violence against human beings.

Solidarity of the longest victims of western imperialism with the newest ones is a source of great potential for justice in the world.

But I mentioned the war-oil-genocide problem. What does any of this have to do with genocide? Well, genocide is an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Such an act can involve murder or kidnapping or both or neither. Such an act can “physically” harm no one. It can be any one, or more than one, of these five things:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

SHUT DOWN CANADA UNTIL IT SOLVES ITS WAR, OIL, AND GENOCIDE PROBLEM, by David Swanson,Executive Director, World Beyond War, WorldBeyondWar.org, Feb 15, 2020


Many of you know I have spent my life “defending the land from those who would destroy it for short term profit and the elimination of a habitable climate on earth” as it says above. One way was living my life without having a personal automobile. I have also sought and engaged with a variety of communities, in a number of ways, to try to get people to see the dangers of, and stop using so much fossil fuel.

As a Quaker my life has also been against violence and war. I turned in my draft cards during the Vietnam War. During the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline struggles I organized nonviolent direct actions and taught others how to participate in them.

We are in the midst of a new revolution, a nonviolent revolution.
Below is an amazing video of Nahko Bear performing solo at the Water Protectors Youth Concert Sept 8, 2016. He says the resounding message he hears during his travels is:

“Remember that nonviolent direct action is the way to a successful revolution.  And that is a hard one, because they are so bad (chuckles).  When they come at us you just want to hit ’em, you know?  Just sit with that.  I know it’s tough.  They’re going to try to do everything they can to instigate you.  But remember what we’re here for.  We’re here to create peace for our Mother.  We’re not here to create more violence.”

Nahko Bear

All this is my way of trying to say I am so impressed and grateful for the nonviolent movement that is taking place in Canada today. It gives me hope that the example of that revolution will trigger a similar one here in the US.

A fundamental question now is what are we, both in Canada and the US, fighting for? Where do we go from here? We should acknowledge Indigenous rights to deny building pipelines. But much more than that, we should see this opportunity to upend the status quo and build just communities for us all.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

To this day we have not come to grips with fundamental injustices our country was built on, the cultural genocide and theft of land from Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans and the legal justifications of bestowing rights and privileges on white land-owning men. The consequences of these injustices continue to plague our society today. And will continue to impact us until we do what is necessary to bring these injustices to light and find ways to heal these wounds.

Jeff Kisling

Let’s use the example of #SutDownCanada to #ShutUSDown

#wetsuwetenstrong #ShutDownCanada #NODAPL #MniWiconi #RezpectOurWater

This entry was posted in #NDAPL, civil disobedience, climate change, decolonize, Indigenous, Quaker, Uncategorized, Unist'ot'en, Wet’suwet’en. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply