Blog post on Vancouver Media Coop site
May 21, 2010
Occupied Coast Salish Territory
The May 18, 2010, arson attack on the Royal Bank of Canada in Ottawa was clearly an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist action. It has had a strong impact across the country and invoked the wrath of the state. As both sabotage and propaganda, the attack was highly successful: the bank was almost totally destroyed while the RBC’s funding of the genocidal Tar Sands was once again highlighted.
The attack appears to be by non-Native militants acting, in part, in solidarity with Native peoples in both BC (the 2010 Olympics and its aftermath) and northern Alberta (Tar Sands), both of which the RBC has been a main funder for.
The action and communique from the FFFC-Ottawa speaks for itself. In the days following, others (besides the government, corporations and pigs) have also taken the opportunity to speak; not against the RBC or genocide of Indigenous peoples, but against those who carried out the action.
Some have done so by invoking the struggle of Indigenous peoples itself as a way of condemning the attack. Some Native reformists and bureaucrats have attempted to impose themselves as some kind of ‘leadership’ over Indigenous peoples and resistance. One jet-setting actorvist has stated that those who support the struggle against the Tar Sands must abide by the ‘leadership’ of those on the ‘front lines,’ including nonviolence (although the only ‘front line’ he’s familiar with is that at the airport check-in).
I personally know Dene from the Fort McMurray area who rejoiced at the news that an RBC had been fire-bombed as an act of anti-colonial solidarity. They are the real people—they have seen, and are seeing, family members die of cancers, their land and water toxified, their traditional way of life destroyed, as a result of the Tar Sands and RBC’s financial support.
Not every Dene, or Indigenous person, will agree with the attack. Nor will every ‘actorvist.’ But then, not everyone agrees with flying around the world attending conferences or rallies. Or walking around in circles with flimsy placards. Yet, we know, or should know, that all these activities are necessary at times to build awareness, consciousness, solidarity, action, and to achieve our objective(s). That is why the principle of respect for a diversity of tactics is promoted.
It is ironic that in this year of 2010, the 20th anniversary of the ‘Oka Crisis’, when armed warriors confronted Canadian soldiers in the Kanienkehaka communities of Kanehsatake and Kahnawake, there are Indigenous ‘defenders’ now attempting to impose codes of ‘nonviolence.’
Our peoples have engaged in over 500 years of resistance to colonization using a diversity of tactics, including armed resistance, blockades, occupations, protests, land reclamations, etc. Yes, people have died and many more have been injured, property destroyed, etc.—but colonialism is by its very nature violent.
Indigenous peoples in Canada suffer many casualties today. Suicides, drugs and alcohol, disease, toxic water, prisons, police violence, thousands of missing or murdered Native women. These are not the result of anti-colonial resistance, but that of colonial genocide. Yet, neither Canada nor the corporations involved in destroying land and life are ever described as ‘violent.’ It is only when there is a militant attack against them that there is a moralizing cry of violence.
To support the institutionalized violence of colonialism, or the state’s monopoly on the use of violence, while condemning those who resist such violence, is nothing less than hypocrisy.
Yes, there is violence in resistance, there is love and joy, there is heartache, there is bitterness and hatred as well as hope and passion. Sounds like life, doesn’t it? And those who risk their freedom in this life and death struggle should be respected for their courage and commitment, not condemned.
In the Spirit of Total Resistance—Smash Capitalism! Long Live the Class Warrior!
Originally published on Warrior Publications