Standing Rock solidarity event closes major intersection in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Organizers inspired by plea from 12-year-old girl
More than 100 demonstrators carrying signs bearing slogans such as ‘Water is Life’ took over the intersection of Memorial Avenue and the Harbour Expressway in Thunder Bay, Ont. during the noon hour on Monday.
It was partly a celebration of Sunday’s announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny permission for the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline to pass under a reservoir of the Missouri River after months of protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
It was also the answer to a plea, posted on Youtube, by Autumn Pelletier, a 12-year-old Indigenous girl who asked people to shut down highways across North America for one hour on December 10 to show a commitment to protecting water from contamination.
“As Indigenous people it’s important to carry out the call, especially if it’s coming from a youth,” said Cheryl Suggashie, one of the organizers of the event in Thunder Bay. “It’s kind of like a ceremony, a prayer.”
Suggashie said she’s concerned about whether the pipeline decision in the United States will hold and about recent pipeline approvals in Canada.
“I know chiefs are butting heads and that it’ll bring jobs but there’s going to be no Earth if it’s going to be destroyed like that,” she said. “I don’t know how you can not see the future.”
It’s significant that women are taking a leadership role in protecting the environment, she said.
“That’s how our ancestors used to do things before European contact,” Suggashie said. “It was the women who were the backbone everywhere across Turtle Island, but we’re stuck in this patriarchy.”