My name is Vanessa Gray and I am a community organizer from Aamjiwnaang First Nation. I attended Justin Trudeau’s Climate Rally on Monday March 4th at the Danforth Music Hall. I came here to ensure that the voices of Indigenous people were present and to draw attention to the ongoing colonial and environmental violence that Indigenous people experience in Canada. Before arriving at the event, I hid a Canadian flag in my shirt that said, “No Justice on Stolen Native Land,” on it to remind those present that ground zero of environmental violence is occurring right now on unceded land — a material reminder that the Unist’ot’en and Gidumt’en have not given their free, prior, and informed consent for Coastal GasLink or any company to establish pipelines or industrial work camps on their territories.
At around 8:15pm, there were a series of disruptions from protestors. After two people who interrupted Trudeau’s speech were forced to leave and as he continued to speak, I threw the flag into the air and said, “No Justice on Stolen Native Land.” The next thing I knew I was being thrown. As seen in the video of the assault, the older white male who was standing in front of me turned around, grabbed me by the arm, and threw me into the crowd of people. Shocked, but not undeterred: I rose up and continued to speak, “No Justice on Stolen Native Land.” I said this over and over until security pulled me from the rally.
The Trudeau Government continues to violate the rights of Indigenous people and prioritizes corporate profits over the wellbeing of all of us. The Trudeau Government advocates for climate change, but bulldozes through the unceded territories of Indigenous people to build their unsustainable pipelines. As an Anishinaabe kwe from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, land protector, and researcher of environmental violence: I have firsthand experience, knowledge, and expertise in how the Trudeau Government and Canada enable assaults on Indigenous life and livelihood from their lack of regulations on multibillion-dollar corporations, such as in Chemical Valley where over 40% of Canada’s petrochemicals are processed, to the purchasing of the Trans Mountain pipeline system, to the incident on March 4, 2019 when Justin Trudeau witnessed a young Indigenous woman being assaulted in front of him and responded, “Oh boy, oh boy.”
It is deeply disturbing that in a country where Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victims of violence and where Indigenous women are murdered at a rate 7 times that of non-Indigenous women that many of the people attending the event, including the Prime Minister himself, witnessed me being assaulted, but did nothing. Instead, I was removed from the building and tossed outside. As for the man who assaulted me? He was allowed to remain inside of the event to listen to the Prime Minister finish his speech.
This is what happened.
This is how the Prime Minister acted when an Indigenous woman was assaulted in front of him.
This is Canada.