News Brief

Fossil Free Guelph 

Report back by Elizabeth Cyr 

After 7 years of Fossil Free Guelph’s (FFG) organizing for full divestment, the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors (BOG) passed a motion to divest from fossil fuels completely over a 5-year period in an online meeting held on April 22, 2020. This is an incredible accomplishment for the students of FFG and all the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have supported this movement over the years. For the first time in our campaign for divestment, FFG saw our exact demand for full divestment on the table in front of the BOG. There was deliberation from the BOG before the vote to divest, where two Board members who later voted against the motion spoke against divestment, expressing views that were clearly anti-student activism and steeped in conflicts of interest and resistance to change. The three FFG members who were on the call responded to these comments in a calm and informed way, but did not have enough time to respond to comments targeting student activists on campus, which we found quite disrespectful toward members of FFG and student allies who care deeply about this cause. 

The University would not have taken this action if not for FFG’s consistent campaigning over the last few years. A variety of tactics were used in these years of organizing, and an important turning point of the campaign was a sit-in in the UofG’s finance administrative offices, where the Vice President of finance committed to presenting a recommendation for full divestment to the BOG. This victory shows that students will always be the strongest voice for progress on university campuses. 


Elizabeth Cyr is a recent university graduate, vegetable farmer and artist based out of Guelph, ON. In her time at the UoG she was involved in organizing around fossil fuel divestment with Fossil Free Guelph, as well as other campus and community social/ environmental organizing.

News Briefs

Group of various black women in winter attire and many wearing hijab holding protest signs. The women in the forefront has a mic to her face and the signs read "Amazon #hearourvoice"

Fall & Winter 2019

Photo: Awood labour rights group speaking out against amazon

Autumn Peltier: Continues the Fight for Indigenous Water Protection

April – September 2019

At 14, Autumn Peltier from Wiikwemkoong Territory, was named Chief Water Commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. Autumn has been advocating for water protection since she was eight years old and is taking on the role of Chief Water Commissioner after the passing of her great aunt. In September, Petlier addressed guests at the UN headquarters in New York and reinforced, not only the importance but the sacredness of clean water in Indigenous communities. Autumn is continuing to fight for her community but is also urging everyone to take steps towards a more sustainable world. She has been nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize.

Unist’o’ten Village Update

November 6th 2019, Wet’suwet’en Territory B.C

An Unist’o’ten village guest was arrested because she prevented a Coastal GasLink (CGL) contractor from accessing a worksite within Wet’suwet’en Nation. The Unist’o’ten bridge monitor was acting on a protocol agreement that states that any CGL vehicles or contractors entering Unist’o’ten Village must provide 24 hours notice before passing through the territory. The commercial vehicle attempting to enter the village on Nov. 6th had not given notice. This protocol agreement between Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and CGL came into effect in June 2019. Despite the agreement, the guest was still arrested – although later released and not charged. This arrest is part of the on-going surveillance and harassment experienced by Unist’o’ten residents and guests. Both the RCMP and the Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) continue to threaten arrest and deny villagers access to certain parts of the territory. Despite this, the Unist’o’ten village and camp have remained strong and resilient.  This is a reminder that the Unist’o’ten Village is not a protest or demonstration; it is a permanent non-violent occupation of Unist’o’ten territory. 

To read more, donate items or join the camp visit: http://unistoten.camp/

Trans Mountain Surveilling Anti-pipeline Activists (Tiny House Warriors)

November 25 2019, Secwepemc Nation B.C

Trans Mountain, a federally owned corporation, is monitoring folks who are actively resisting the Trans Mountain pipeline. A document shows that the names of anyone posting anti-pipeline content or videos on social media are being recorded and monitored. This list apparently includes anyone who is tagged in anti-pipeline posts or anyone who shares the content. Trans Mountain has also begun singling out certain individuals who they deem as ‘persons of interest’. 

Trans Mountain appears to have a particular interest in the ongoing surveillance of the Tiny House Warriors. Kanahus Manuel, one of the main spokespeople for Tiny House Warriors, has been labelled as a person of interest and is often at the centre of many of the security reports. The Tiny House Warriors are a pipeline resistance group that are strategically building ten tiny houses along the Trans Mountain pipeline route.Tiny House Warriors have stated that “any corporate colonial project that seeks to go through and destroy our 180,000 square km of unceded territory will be refused passage through our territory. We stand resolutely together against any and all threats to our lands, the wildlife and the waterways.”

To learn more or find out how to support The Tiny House Warriors, visit: http://tinyhousewarriors.com/

FYI: Animal Rights Activists in Ontario

December 2019, Ontario 

Ontario just proposed a new bill that could potentially fine animal rights activists $15,000 – $25,000 for trespassing on farms or processing facilities. This new bill is supposed to protect farmers who feel harassed and threatened by animal rights demonstrators trespassing on private property (this includes the stopping or interference with animal transport vehicles). The bill would also impose harsher penalties for repeat “offenders”. 

Awood joins Athena to take on Amazon

December 2019, Minnesota U.S

Awood, a small labour rights group based out of Minnesota, has joined forces with a larger coalition to strengthen their fight against Amazon. Awood was organized in 2017 by East African employees to collectively raise complaints against the company. The group has proven their resilience holding a six hour walk-out on Prime Day, negotiating with management twice and cotinuing to advocate on behalf of the Muslim community. Awood has done all of this without the support of a union but is now backed by Athena. 

Athena is an anti-Amazon coalition of over three dozen labour rights groups that are fighting the e-commerce giant on a variety of different fronts. The goal of Athena is to build solidarity and hold the company accountable for employee mistreatment on a national scale. Some of the big issues being tackled are: workplace health and safety, antitrust policies/procedures imposed by Amazon and equal protection for foriegn temporary workers. 

To read more or support Awood, visit: http://www.awoodcenter.org/

To read more on Athena, visit: https://www.athenaforall.org/

Global News Brief

Illustration of a pot of soup that reads "Food not bombs" to the left is a stack of papers that read "rent is theft" and to the right is a hot bowl with a spoon in it. Text at the bottom reads "Free Soup for The Revolution"

A glimpse of global resistance and uprising in 2019

Revolution in Haiti – 2018-2019

Uprising in Haiti continues as Haitians demand the current President, Jovenel Moise, step down. Food and fuel shortages sparked the movement and Haitians began to demand the President resign. The country’s fuel shortages became so severe that stores, schools, and hospitals were unable to function. Many media outlets are reporting the uprising in Haiti as a crisis that needs U.S intervention but Haiti has long been under the thumb of neoliberalism and the people are demanding a revolution. One of the ongoing problems in Haiti is food sovereignty. The government continues to import more than half of the country’s food as opposed to investing in Haitian farmers and food production. 

Revolution in Sudan –April 11th 2019

Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the Sudanese people after 30 years in power. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered around a military base and demanded the President be removed and the country moved into a civilian rule. This did not come easy, protestors endured extreme violence and al-Bashir declared a nationwide state of emergency. Eventually, the President was overthrown. This is the country’s third revolution. 

Uprising in Chile – October 2019

In 2019, Chile had the biggest uprising in the country’s history. The uprising began as a student-led demonstration against a subway fare increase but quickly sparked into a mass revolt. Working-class Chileans had enough and took to the streets demanding government reform. The biggest social problem with Chile is the country’s ever-growing wealth gap and inequality. The people are fighting against: poor health care, privatized pensions, low minimum wages, and high living costs. Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, quickly declared a state of emergency in response to the uprising; enforcing curfews and ordering the military to “restore order”. After the military violently managed demonstrators,  Pinera lifted the state of emergency, replaced eight cabinet ministers and made some “social reform proposals” to satisfy the ears of most. 

Stopping Pipelines, Healing a Nation

The Unist’ot’en Camp Enters its 7th Year

By Sakura & Darius

Sixty five kilometres up a logging road near Houston, BC, just beyond a river from which you can drink directly, lies an unceded territory actively defended by its original people. To enter, you need to go through a Free, Prior, and Informed Consent protocol designed to keep people out who do not benefit the land and its people. Once inside, you find a flourishing off-grid community with gardens and large buildings for housing, food storage, cooking and healing, built by the land defenders and their allies.

Above: At Unist’ot’en taken by Micheal Toledano 

The place is known as the Unist’ot’en camp, and since 2010 the camp has been building permanent infrastructure on the routes of several proposed pipelines to protect the land and assert the Unist’ot’en’s traditional Indigenous legal systems.

“Building infrastructure is our way of occupying our unceded territory,” explains Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en Camp. “Occupation is the tactic the colonizer used on our people since contact. My dad always said our best ammunition against continued theft of our land is to occupy your territory.”

The camp has garnered international support and inspired other nations to use similar tactics to protect their territory against pipelines and a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant.

In August of 2014, chiefs from the Luutkudziiwus house of the Gitxsan Nation permanently closed Madii Lii territory to pipeline development by erecting a gate and building a cabin to control access to the territory. One year later, members of the Gitwilgyots tribe started occupying Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) to legally prevent and slow surveying, work, and construction of the Pacific Northwest LNG/liquified fracked methane project proposed near Port Edward, BC.

“We have seen the favorable results of occupation,” says Freda in reference to the tactic spreading across the region and emboldening a resurgence in Indigenous land defence and reclamation.  However, the Unist’ot’en camp is about a lot more than simply stopping unwanted pipeline development.

“Our long-term goal for our Territory is to bring holistic healing to our nation,” Huson explains. “The residential schools and the removal of children from our nations and communities has been the government’s tactic for removing the Indian out of the child. Our healing centre will bring spiritual, cultural, and mental healing to our people.”

Below: The Unist’ot’en checkpoint at night. This is the place where the Free Prior and Informed Consent protocol is done before people can enter this protected territory

Though conflict still looms on the horizon with oil and gas corporations who refuse to respect Indigenous law, the work of healing has already begun. Indigenous people and their allies have been coming to the camp for seven years now, to heal the land and each other, and to build the necessary infrastructure for the large-scale plans of healing the nation. Currently, there is an all-season bunk house, a permaculture garden, a large kitchen and dining hall, and construction of a three-story healing lodge is ongoing.  An online fundraising site has been launched to help fund this initiative on the fundrazr (www.fundrazr.com) platform entitled “Stop the pipelines! Heal the land! Heal the people!”

Although a combination of popular opposition, Indigenous refusal, and shifting market forces has led to many of the original seven pipeline proposals being defeated and withdrawn, some energy corporations are vowing to push their pipelines through Unist’ot’en Territory without consent in the near future.

Keep up-to-date with the Unist’ot’en Camp by following them on social media (Twitter and Facebook). Supporters are encouraged to raise funds for the camp through fundraising events, and most importantly educate those around them about the truth about fracking and destructive pipeline projects. Now more than ever we must support Indigenous nations reclaiming their territory, asserting their law and jurisdiction, and charting their own path towards healing and development.


Sakura & Darius
Sakura and Darius are environmental and social justice organizers based in Southern Ontario. They have been active in grassroots political movements for over a decade, and are long-time supporters of the Unist’ot’en Camp

Solidarity with Standing Rock

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1886 km conduit slated to carry crude oil from North Dakota to southern Illinois when it’s completed by the end of this year. Since its approval in late July, the project has sparked outrage. On September 10th, protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota reached a boil- ing point, with violent attacks on protesters by security dogs and numerous instances of macing.

Protests began this summer as the Standing Rock Sioux, the indigenous Nation whose source of drinking water will be crossed multiple times by the pipeline, led a lawsuit to block construction of the pipeline. ousands of people, representing members of Nations from across Turtle Island and their supporters, have converged in Standing Rock to continue to resist the ongoing colonization of land and water.

To donate to the Red Warrior Camp legal, fund visit:

www.generosity.com/fundraising/red-warrior-camp-legal-fund-nodapl

Water For Life, Not for Profit

The Local Fight Against Nestle & The Privatization of Water 

By Amelia Meister

In Aberfoyle, just 5km outside of Guelph Nestle Waters Canada is quietly drawing millions of litres of water per day, without a permit. As surprising as this may sound, this is well within current government law. Current law allows Nestle to draw water on an expired permit, as long as they have applied for a new permit. The most surprising, however, is that there is no time limit for how long they can draw water on the expired permit before a new permit is issued.

In a time of intense drought, where the Grand River Conservation Authority has issued a Level 2 drought restriction and the City of Guelph is on Level 2 water restrictions (the highest they can be), everyone else is tightening their belt and doing their part for water conservation but Nestle goes on drawing hundreds of millions of litres of water a year.

Not only that but Nestle pays three dollars and seventy one cents per million litres they draw. Compare that with Guelph’s water rate, where we would be paying about three thousand dollars for the same amount of water. Nestle pays next to nothing for the water they draw and then sells it back for over one dollar per litre.

This is a blatant stealing of water, happening right under our noses. Nestle plays their broken record of “we are within our legal rights” and the government says that there is nothing they can do but wait for the application process.

However, this fight is about more than permits and fees. This is a fight about the privatization and commodification of water. This is a fight about who has the right to water.

Nestle argues that without bottled water people would go thirsty and not have access to water. The government argues that Nestle has the right to draw water because they apply for the permit and it doesn’t care what Nestle does with the water afterwards. However, this country has the ability to create and maintain drinking and sanitation facilities and we should not need bottled water. While it is true that there are 132 boil water advisories in First Nations across Canada, these are less of a testament to the need for bottled water and more of a statement of this country’s blatant disregard for First Nations lives.

Water should not be sold. We need water to live. Without it we would die within 100 hours or less. It is not up for sale to line the pockets of multinational corporations that promote violence all across the world.

By giving water to Nestle the province is stealing from future generations, endangering their water security and the water security of the entire region. It is failing to protect a vital resource that should be conserved for the public, not for the private interests of Nestle.

There is, fortunately, intense public backlash against Nestle and the government’s current response to water drawing in the province. In media all across the country, this issue is gaining traction. Locally, Wellington Water Watchers has been campaigning tirelessly to educate about the importance of tap water as well as opposing Nestle in governmental processes.

As the resistance to Nestle increases there will be more direct actions bringing the issue of the privatization and commodification of water to the forefront of everyday consciousness. More and more citizens and organizations are working to fight for our waters.

Everyone, right now, can do their part by boycotting Nestle, especially their water products, sharing all articles about Nestle on social media (this encourages more media coverage as media outlets see their articles being shared) and talking to your friends and neighbours about water protection.

To connect with Wellington Water Watchers go to www.wellingtonwaterwatchers.ca


Amelia Meister
Amelia Meister is a poet, healer and radical single mother. She believes in working hard, loving fiercely and grieving deeply. Her writing appears in a monthly column in the Guelph Mercury and her words have been shared on many stages across Canada.