Protesters say they will keep torch and RCMP out of Six Nations

Posted by admin on Dec 14th, 2009

By Jessica Smith, Turtle Island News. December 15, 2009

The Olympic Torch is coming to Six Nations next week but a group opposing the run say they plan to protest it, but wont provide details and told the media to leave their meeting after claiming it was a public meeting. The sent out a declaration Monday claiming they would peacefully protest the torch run. Turtle Island News sources said the protesters plan to be at Highway 6, Middleport and along Chiefswood Road when the torch arrives, The group met at the old council House last Wednesday. They said they were opposed to the run and some claimed it was dividing the community.

At the pot luck meeting a group of Six Nations youth presented 10 reasons why Haudenosaunee nations should oppose the torch relay. They cited the Torch and Olympics are propaganda, band council has no authority to allow the run, (Confederacy council could not make a decision on whether it supported the Torch Run or not at its December meeting), not recognizing Haudenosaunee sovereignty, security tactics, stalled negotiations the HST, breaking of treaties, cleaning up its image on the international stage by including First Nations, protecting Mother Earth and the community members who attended were given a chance to speak .After a short break, media was asked to leave before the decision about how to proceed with the opposition to the torch relay was made. Opposition to the torch appeared to be unanimous among the people who attended the meeting. When the group was asked if anyone supports the relay, no one spoke.

The people who spoke acknowledged that when they choose to oppose the torch relay, they are opposing the wishes of people in the community who will carry the torch and of their families. Beverly Atkins said since she has been speaking against the Torch Relay people are angry with her. “I haven’t been getting follow up on dinner invitations,” she said. However, she isn’t deterred. “We have to stand up for our people,” she added.

Community unity is only under threat from unanswered dinner invitations, according to some who spoke. Bev Crawford said he has been speaking against the relay for some time and he’s concerned about how the Olympics and the Torch Run are being promoted to children in the schools. “They’re using our children against us,” he said.

Wes Elliot said he watched parents cry and hug in hall outside of Elected Council chambers when their children were announced as torchbearers. He said he feels badly that those parents don’t know what he knows about the relay. “There will be hurt feelings over this,” he warned the group.

Lindsay Bomberry is one of the youths who organized the meeting and presented a list of 10 reasons why Haudenosaunee nations should oppose the torch. Bomberry said the Torch Relay is about more than sports. She said it was Canada’s biggest domestic military operation ever. “Who is the target? Native people, land defenders, just like us.” Bomberry said it is unfortunate that many people don’t have an education about the Olympics, and that ignorance was something the Olympic organizers counted on.

“This is what they had intended, for some of us to be ignorant, and some of us to be isolated in our enlightenment,” she said.

The disunity caused by the torch relay is not only within the Six Nations, but appears to be between the Four Host First Nations who are supporting the torch relay and native people who oppose the torch. Representatives of the Four Host First Nations have come to Six Nations on at least two occasions. Elliot and youth spoke on a panel with some representatives earlier this year, she said. Crawford said he spoke to the representatives at the time.

“They admitted they didn’t have any choice, the Olympics were coming whether they liked it or not,” he said. The representatives said that they didn’t want to be standing on the outside of the event, hosted on their land, while non-natives reaped the rewards, Crawford added. Crawford told the gathering that Six Nations had recently hosted representatives of the Four Host First Nations again. The Turtle Island News reported last week that representatives of the Four Host First Nations came to promote the torch relay and attended an event at the Community Hall, but no one on the organizing committee informed the community about the visit until after it was over because, in part, organizers were worried about protests, according to Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Henhawk. Crawford asked if anyone knew about the event before it happened, and no one spoke up to say they did. Others claimed the incorporation of First Nations people and culture was a publicity ploy to improve Canada’s international reputation when it comes to how the county treats indigenous people.

“They’ve got to look good to the world,” Crawford said. “It’s a game, and we’re the pawns.” “They’d like to see you there with Canadian Flags,” he said later. John Henhawk said the reason Canada is insisting the torch comes through First Nations communities dates back to the first ever Olympic torch relay, held by Nazi Germany. “Hitler put the torch through each territory he conquered,” Henhawk said. The same group will be holding another public session tonight at the old council house.

Comments are closed.