CN Rail Continues to Profit from Genocide
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY– The powerful logistics corporation, Canadian National Railway, facilitates the movement of resources stolen from Indigenous lands on behalf of many of the world’s most powerful corporations in pursuit of profit through ceaseless development and the destruction of the world’s environment.
CN Rail operates on tracks laying on lands stolen from the Mohawks in the 1820s when the Simcoe Deed “Treaty 3 ½” was trashed by Canada and the land occupied by illegal settlements. Across Canada, the theft of land and disrespect for original agreements has proliferated from coast to coast. The RCMP’s violent removal of the Wet’suwet’en people from their traditional and unceded territories is but the latest example of this dynamic.
The expulsion of Indigenous peoples from their lands on behalf of and for the benefit of corporations like the Coastal GasLink pipeline or the Canadian National Railway to allow non-indigenous settlements and industrial projects, constitutes genocide. The UN definition of genocide includes the denial of the “right of existence of entire human groups”. In other words, actions destroying Indigenous peoples’ ability to maintain their sense of collective identity as a group are genocidal. Indigenous peoples have always drawn their cultural cohesion from their relationship to the land and nature. Canada’s systematic deprivation of indigenous people’s control and access to their land blocks their relationship to it and constitues the continuation of genocide.
Furthermore, Canada’s forceful redefinition of Indigenous identities also constitutes genocide. Canada first enacted the Indian Act in 1876 in order to legislate Indigenous identity. This attacked traditional governance structures, such as the matriarchal Haundenoshaunee clan structure, in favor of the Canadian-invented patrilineal Indian Status system. The criminalization of traditional governance and imposition of a foreign colonial structure tried to strip Indigenous peoples of their ability to self-define group membership.
The Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en have been consistently deeply disrespected and violently thrown off their land; their clear title to the land has been denied by the Canadian government. Canada’s removal of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en and denial of their traditional structure is a clear example of the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples across the land known as Canada.
In Tyendinaga, meanwhile, the Mohawks have called upon the Canadian government to come to the table in a respectful way and return to traditional treaty protocols and abandon their genocidal practices. In response, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has requested a meeting with Mohawks to Polish the Silver Covenant Chain, which is now scheduled to take place on the CN Rail tracks in Tyendinaga on Saturday, February 15th. This is the first time in its 152 year history that a representative of Canada’s government has asked to polish the Silver Covenant chain with the Mohawks. Could this be the time that the Canadian government will honor the treaties, recognize Indigenous title to unceded lands, end all genocidal practices and engage in a genuine negotiation demonstrating respect for traditional Indigenous practices and governance structures?
Probably not. But stay tuned, because things are about to get very interesting on the CN Rail tracks that run through Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.