Confrontations at 1492 Land Back Lane bring some glaring colonial hypocrisy into light

News Unsettled Opinions

After heated confrontations at 1492 Land Back Lane, a non-Indigenous mayor claimed that “First Nations can’t just assume they can step on land and take it”

News Unsettled Native Students Union column
Graphic provided by the Native Students Union.

In Six Nations territory, land defenders have been embroiled in a constant struggle against Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) over a housing development on their land. The tensions between land defenders and the OPP had mostly gone down, but a recent injunction decision ensured that hostilities rose again. Arrests and confrontations on Six Nations land are completely against Canada’s stated commitment to reconciliation, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), and the Constitution Act of 1982

On Oct. 22, a Superior Court Justice permanently extended a previous injunction granted against the 1492 Land Back Lane land defenders, which prevents them from interfering with Foxgate construction and blocking county roads. After this ruling, there was a heated confrontation between the OPP and land defenders. The OPP went to the site of two smaller blockades on Six Nations land where they ended up using rubber bullets and tasers. After this, the defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane dug up a road, created a vehicle blockade and destroyed a small portion of CN track.

The mayor of Haldimand county was quoted as saying, “First Nations people can’t just assume they can step on land and take it.” Let’s unpack that.

The lands that the Six Nations defenders are occupying are protected under a 1728 treaty that includes 950,000 acres of land. According to the Six Nations website only 48,000 acres remain. What does this mean?

For the Six Nations specifically, that means that Canada stepped onto 902,000 acres of land and just took it.

Since the inception of treaties in Canada, the government has been breaking them as they see fit. Treaty rights are protected under the constitution of Canada in section 35. In the UNDRIP, which Canada has agreed to adopt and follow, there is at least one mention of treaty rights specifically (Article 37) and many more about land rights.

Despite all these rights embedded within Canadian law regarding land and treaties the OPP and Foxgate, the company building the housing developments, keep referring to the defenders as “lawless”.

Canada has, since the beginning, utilized genocide and their own legal system in order to walk onto Indigenous lands and take them. In the new age of Trudeau’s ‘reconciliation’ these practices are no different, they just occur behind a façade of “respectful and collaborative dialogue,” as a letter from the office of Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, states.

There is nothing right, fair, just, or legal about how Six Nations people are being treated on their lands. As soon as Canada comes knocking, Indigenous nations are expected to give everything and receive nothing. 

1492 Land Back Lane members are completely within their rights to dig up any road, destroy any track, and stop any housing development on their land; especially, when Canada refuses to respect so many of their own laws.

The mayor of Haldimand, and all Canadians, need to understand that all this land is Indigenous land. It is time for more actions like those at 1492 Land Back Lane, because if Canada feels no need to respect Indigenous sovereignty and treaties, then Indigenous people have no need to respect Canadian laws in the assertion of our sovereignty.