By shailagh keaney
Repost from Toronto Media Co-op
Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
An Open Letter to Friends and Allies
I write this by flickering candlelight in the Grand River watershed as sounds of fireworks penetrate the sky. It is kkkanada day. One year ago I was in a jail cell after having spent most of the day on lockdown – they were short staffed because of the holiday.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the g20 I have wanted to write to friends and allies and this holiday – a celebration of a country founded upon genocide – seems like a fitting time. As I reflect on this day I feel great respect and admiration for the resilience of native communities who continue to persevere in the fight against colonialism. I feel I have something to learn about the strength of the human spirit, how to continue fighting in the face of intense repression. We all need to keep fighting as this monstrous machine of industrial capitalism keeps ploughing ahead, leaving barren radioactive dirt in its dust. This is a fight for the survival of the earth.
I have been reflecting lately on fear’s impact on our hearts and spirits. For the past year I have felt anxiety like never before, afraid to speak out, to have a political presence. I am slowly moving through this fear to find my inner strength. I see how this fear causes me to withdraw onto myself, narrow my focus onto my own little life, away from what this earth truly needs right now. I also see this in others, as those who were once very active have now retreated, scattered to other lands, or isolated themselves. As I see the affect of fear on my own heart I see how easy it is to let fear win, to close my heart to the world and only care about the me me me. There is a lot of money going into attempting to squash resistance in southern ontario right now, the state knows its divide and conquer techniques quite well. And there is a proposal for a huge mega quarry at the headwaters of 3 watersheds, one of which is the Grand River watershed. I also see those who are still fighting and persevering beginning to burn out and lose heart, as they need more people to step up.
So where do we find our strength to move through this fear? Where do we find our inspiration to carry on? How do we re-examine our actions to move forward with renewed insight and motivation? How do we support and care for one another as we realize that we are all feeling a blow of repression? How do we work with fear and grief so that we do not just go numb, but use it as fuel to keep our hearts open and motivate our lives? These are questions that I have been asking those close to me, as we all need to find our inner strength, to stand strong on our feet and sway the tide of this apathetic suicidal society. To remember that our fight is out of love for this earth. Love for the children, love for the polar bears up north, love for the salmon in the rivers who fight so hard to swim upstream to spawn. Love for those who have dedicated their lives to this earth who now sit in prison cells. This love demands that we go on.
I feel so much gratitude to those who work determinedly for this earth and who are supporting those encountering repression by the state. A huge thank you to all the land defenders, demo organizers, legal fund money raisers, letter writers, car drivers, house arrest visitors. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I had a difficult winter, and the support of people from all over really helped me to keep my spirits up. To read letters from people from the US, the UK, and all over kkkanada – this helped so much with isolation. Thank you to all those from ontario who travelled all the way out east to visit me. Also a huge thank you to my parents, I feel so much gratitude that our relationship made it through the state attempting to turn me into a 16 year old again who couldn’t leave the house without a chaperone and a note. I have much appreciation of how strong our relationship is now. So much love to all of you who have stood by me. To friends who pledged money to act as a surety to get me back to ontario. Tough times reveal who is able to stand by you, and I feel so blessed by the deepening of many of my friendships. I am in awe of the amazing people who surround me. You inspire me.
Let us all support one another. Ask our friends what would inspire them. Dig deep into ourselves to find our inner strength and motivation. Write letters to prisoners. Attend friend’s proceedings in court. As much as we need to dig deep into ourselves to find strength to carry on in the face of repression, we also need to support one another, help each other to stand strong.
This time is also marked by a huge hunger strike in some of the worst prisons in turtle island, with a call out for it to go internationally. Let us draw inspiration from those who are able to maintain their spirits in the face of incarceration and intense repression. Let us fight for freedom for all.
I recently spent some time around the area proposed for the mega quarry. Some of the most beautiful forest I have seen. Balsam fir, Cedar, Maple, Birch, Poplar, mossy rocks, ferns, an island covered in Colts Foot. Let us keep it that way.
Love, Rage, Solidarity,
And don’t forget to Dance dance