Post-Arrest Statement from reporter Starla Myers

This statement was released on September 18, 2020 after Myers was charged with “Mischief” and with “Disobeying a Court Order” for reporting on the land reclamation at #1492landbacklane. 

“Do you believe — really believe — that all peoples are entitled to equal protection of international law now that you are so strong? Do you believe — really believe — that treaty pledges should be kept? Think these questions over and answer them to yourselves.”

— Deskaheh (Levi General), 1923, in Rochester, NY.

My name is Starla Myers, Kanienka:haka niwakaonhwentsyò:ten Wakenyáhten. I reside within the Haldimand territory, the traditional territory of Mohawks. I work as a reporter for Real People’s Media (RPM) which is a Mohawk owned enterprise that showcases stories from Onkwehon:we across the Americas and around the globe. RPM launched in 2015, I was invited onto the team in the midst of the February 2020 movement in support of the Wet’suwet’en. 

I covered the Six Nations movement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, and more recently the #1492LandBackLane reclamation. Both actions took place within the Haldimand territory, within my people’s lands that are recognized as being ours forever as reparations for supporting the Crown in the American revolution. 

As a grass-roots Indigenous journalist, I provide a perspective based on decolonized historical and traditional knowledge. Despite Canada’s initial hesitancy to accept the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and subsequent conditional acceptance, Recognition of Article 16 UNDRIP is of relevance to this matter. Article 16 reads “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.” It is time for the OPP to recognize this right and end its targeted attacks on Indigenous journalism.

A warrant for my arrest was issued for the media coverage that I provided via RPM which I was only made aware of due to an unrelated issue. As an Indigenous woman, I felt and continue to feel unsafe to attend any police station and requested that an Indigenous advocate be present. This was not possible so instead, a peace officer offered to meet me at the Six Nations Police Department along with OPP officer Samantha Bergeron. This suggestion provided me with a sense of familiarity and relative security. I must impress this is a system I have no knowledge of and quite honestly, I do not understand the reason for or the nature of the charges laid against me.

The OPP has made clear that it is undertaking a concerted attempt to silence grassroots Indigenous journalists as it enables an agenda of illegal land sales by the Provincial and Federal government. The promised negotiations are only an introduction to Canada’s specific claims and additions to reserve policies that are not consistent with Rotinonhsonni Title and, more specifically, The Haldimand proclamation. 

During a time of great distress and without an environment conducive to safety, I was informed by a female officer that SNPD had nothing to do with the charges despite some of the issues having happened at Ohsweken tsi tkanatahere nonwe. The Six Nations Police are complicit in overlooking the responsibilities of the Kayanere’kowa, the Two-Row Wampum, and the Silver Covenant Chain.

Starla Myers

Sept 18, 2020

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