As the organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal, we believe that we cannot speak meaningfully about Israeli Apartheid without speaking first about the realities of apartheid here in Canada.
Canada”s reservation system and treatment of Indigenous peoples was closely studied by the planners of apartheid in South Africa, although this is a hidden chapter of our history.
Recently, many defenders of Israel have argued that “Canada”s values are Israel”s values”, and they”re right: the dispossession and theft of Palestinian lands, and the creation of Palestinian open-air prisons and bantustans, mimic Canada”s own historical policies.
From its very foundations, Canada has been based on the theft of Indigenous lands, and the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples. In crucial ways, the Canadian state”s treatment of Indigenous peoples, historically and currently, can be described as an apartheid system — from the imposition of the Indian Act, band councils and reservation system, to stolen children and residential schools; from the continued theft of lands and resources by governments and corporations, to the cultural appropriation of native traditions and culture.
We live, here in Montreal and all over Canada, in colonies, as non-Indigenous, non-native settlers; we are just older and more established versions of the settlements built illegally in Palestine. Canada”s colonial past is celebrated in the names of our streets, towns and cities, while erasing the genuine identity of the original peoples of this land. This colonial project continues to this day, encroaching on native land with golf courses, subdivisions and highways.
There are countless other examples of this colonialism in practice today. For instance, the environmental devastation inflicted on Indigenous communities, such as those downstream from the Alberta tarsands, whose traditional livelihoods are in the process of being destroyed in order to ensure a cheap supply of oil.
This colonialism is also reflected in the obliviousness, and lack of response, by the Canadian authorities and population, to the horrifying reality of hundreds of disappeared and missing native women in the past three decades alone.
In the face of more than five hundred years of colonialism, Indigenous communities continue to resist and survive. Their multifold and diverse struggles demand our active support, especially in the face of state repression and criminalization. As non-natives, we have a role within our own communities, to further the process of decolonizing Canada.
If you are with us in opposition to Israeli Apartheid, we encourage your consistent opposition to apartheid right here in Canada. Let us support both the resistance of indigenous Palestinians, and the survival and struggles of Canada”s Indigenous nations. From Palestine to Turtle Island: There is no justice on stolen land.
— The organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal.
iaw-mtl [at] riseup.net — www.iawmontreal.org