Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roberta Keesick needs our help

In early June, 2008 news that Grassy Narrows First Nation’s demand that industrial logging on their territory stop was met when Abitibi-Bowater announced that they would not be seeking a licence in the Whiskey Jack Forest. However the struggle is not over. While the chainsaws have stopped at Grassy Narrows, persecution of those that assert their traditional rights on the land has not ended.

Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows clan mother, trapper, blockader, and grandmother, is facing charges in Red Lake Ontario for building a trappers' cabin on her traditional family lands without a Provincial permit. She has been a tremendous force in the grassroots struggles at Grassy Narrows to reclaim traditional land and assert the right of self determination. The act for which she now faces criminal charges is part of a process of reclamation and revival for Grassy Narrows where people are using the land on their territory as their ancestors have for generations; it is a critically important piece of the work that is being undertaken by the people of Grassy Narrows to empower themselves and to sustain their families, revive their culture and heal their community—this access to land is crucial for the healing of First Nations, and it is this right that is being challenged by the court with the charges that have been brought against Roberta Keesick.

Roberta’s trial date is in the spring. While they have found her a lawyer who will donate his services, he needs his costs of travel, and filing documents with the court, covered. These costs will be approximately $4000. She is seeking donations for a legal defence fund. The assertion of rights on traditional land is one of the most important components of the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights. This case has the potential to set an important precedent; Indigenous people have a right to traditional land use on their traditional territories. This case represents an example of the way that governments disable First Nations from sustaining and empowering themselves. Roberta Keesick’s actions—the building of a trapping cabin on her own family’s trap line—is a perfect example of how people from Grassy Narrows are asserting their rights through the straightforward actions of living an Anishnabe life. It is of the utmost importance that any and all of us who are concerned with Indigenous rights and the well being of First Nations communities, support the grassroots struggles at Grassy Narrows and in other communities and to support Roberta Keesick in her struggle to simply live her life on her land. Please donate generously.

To make a donation to Roberta Keesick’s legal defence fund you can send an email money transfer to Leah Henderson: With the security question: what is your favourite flower

Answer: sunflower

You can also email the above email address to find alternative ways of donating (i.e., cheque, cash, etc.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there, thank you so much for posting this up. I am Roberta's sister and she needs all the help she can get. Even for people to hear about her situation and her stand for my people the Anishinabek. I am thankful for people like you and Leah, and David that care about issues like this. I know alot more people care, but they just need sites like this to become aware of these issues.....p.s. Roberta said your posting was very well written.