Preparing: What happens if we don’t win?

black and white flower

By Mohammed, Theodore and Richie  

Preparing: What happens if we don’t win? 

In 2018, CBSA reported that 6,083 people had been deported from Canada. It’s a startling number. Even with all the collective community resistance, deportations are continuing to happen. Although this special issue of The Peak is focused on resisting deportation, we felt it was important to include the stories from those who have lived through the traumatic experience of deportation and recount how they have adjusted to life since then. If you or someone you know is facing deportation, we encourage you to fight. Resist! Find community advocates, contact local or national organizations or start a campaign. Remember, there is strength in our numbers.  

Mohammed. Somalia. One year and four months since deportation. 

The first thing I did when I got my deportation notice was contact a lawyer to review and take my case. Since my criminal matter was dealt with through legal aid, and I was no longer a Canadian issue, (they stripped me of my convention refugee status and permanent residence) I was unable to retain legal aid and every other lawyer was charging fees. I went through racism, discrimination and humiliation every video court.They thought they could break my spirits but it only made me stronger.  

I have seen a lot of people lose it and go crazy and check themselves in protected custody or suicide watch. You have to be mentally strong to withstand them courts. Being a kid from Canada, who never left Toronto since the age of seven, there was no way to prepare myself for a third world country. I couldn’t prepare because they never gave me any notice; I was forcefully dragged out of a jail cell in the morning and assaulted all the way to another jail cell. I was then put on a flight where I co-operated and was not handcuffed at all. This all happened in a week. My emotions were running wild because I knew deep down that this was all illegal, but I’m just a Black youth who is no longer a Canadian issue.  

The thing is, I’ve lived in Toronto my whole life; I have no family in this country, my faith is what keeps me strong everyday. I would have never been prepared for this place. I didn’t want to be another deportee statistic and that’s when I realized that education is the key.  

The moment I came here [Somalia] I started university by taking an international relations course. I am trying to make a positive outcome from my negative upbringing and show the world that you can change. I don’t want to be angry at the system and honestly I’m not, it shaped me to change my ways. I can never be sour and mad at Canada; it will always be my home, it’s all I know.  

Theodore. Jamaica. Two years and six months since deportation. 

The first thing I did when I got my deportation order was get in contact with my family and friends back home. I had to try to figure out what steps I could take to help my case. I contacted my mother back home and I started asking questions about what’s like there, what to expect when I get there and help to find a place to stay.  

When I arrived, I started working, playing sports, going to school and trying to figure out how to better my life by having something positive to do. I have been able to integrate into daily life by working, school, farming and getting to know people here.  

I would advise anyone who gets a deportation notice to first get in contact with their family and figure out what steps they can take to help there try to get in a program. Also try your best to cooperate with immigration. 

Richie. Nigeria. Three years since deportation. 

I was not in the right mindset when they sent me the notice. I was very scared because I had not been to my country of origin since I was eight years old. So I hid from the law, but I did it in the wrong way. I was not ready to leave when they picked me up, so I called my people to get me some items that I could be prepared when I landed in Nigeria. Weird thing is the people who brought me my travel stuff came from out of nowhere; I just met them while being deported.  

To adjust, I had to just accept the fact – I was now on my own.  I knew absolutely nobody, I couldn’t speak the language or even understand it. Everyone that saw me knew I was a foreign national; when I spoke they assumed I was a black American (white African). My adjustments were not easy. The change of climate, extreme heat, and even my dress code was not Nigerian. I have not told anyone my real reason for being here because it could get me hurt, alienated or even lead to my death. I’ve met a lot of people who are happy to see me; my popularity has gone viral.  

Eventually, I integrated; I’ve learned small linguistics of my people (Igbo) and some Yoruba. Because of my wide range of skills and knowledge, I have been working for two years now. It is not a lot of money, but I’ve managed to get my own place to live. Money is extremely necessary in order to live here. If you have no money or people don’t know you, then you go hungry. If I wasn’t me and didn’t do what I do, I would be dead by now.  

If you are on the move or just got your notice – I beg you to try in your best power to stay where you are and do whatever it takes to resist your deportation. Life is for real out in these third-world countries, especially if you have no one you know who can vouch for you. But, if it is your lot in this life, then I recommend you learn handy work and get in the work field.  

God brought me home because my mother was dying and she begged for one thing – to see her first born once more before she left this earth. I’m trying for a pardon next year because I want to travel out if I see money, find a link to another country. Or else, I will just rest out my days here in my mother nation and fathers’ land.  

I have two siblings whom I have been building a relationship with. Life, if treated right, will reward us but everyone has their problems; may God keep them all safe. I love you all, my people. Look me up on Facebook Chinedu Abuwa. Wadado wadado! Stay safe, live life and love yourself ‘cause some people don’t care who you are, where you’re coming from. They will only care about what you can give them. 

Best wishes and good luck, I’m out! 

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.