Around 1,000 march for Aboriginal rights in TorontoEmilio Comay del Junco — The McGill Daily (McGill University) –
Waving flags and banners, singing and beating drums, marchers demanded better treatment for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, investigation into the disappearance of more than 500 missing Aboriginal women and redress for past abuses, such as residential schools.
Though heavy lines of police on foot, bicycle, horseback and motorcycle were in place the entirety of the march, the protest remained free of violence.
The march was organized by the Defenders of the Land, whose website describes itself “as a network of Indigenous communities and activists in land struggle across Canada.”
Before the protesters set off down University Avenue – one of the city’s main streets and home to the U.S. consulate and various Ontario government ministries and courts – organizer John Fox emphasized that the demonstrations would remain peaceful.
“This is going to be a peaceful protest,” he told the crowds. “We have our elders and children here.”
Ben Powless, a member of Defenders of the Land who helped organize the protest, said that the summits were critical in the struggle for indigenous rights.
“What Canada wants to do is bring in a lot more investment, a lot more of what they call economic development to our communities and use that as a way to take away a lot of our land and resources,” he said.
After winding through city streets, where they caused significant traffic backups at a few intersections, demonstrators arrived in Allen Gardens on the eastern edge of downtown to eat lunch and hear speakers from various Aboriginal activist groups.
Though police presence remained heavy, organizers and officers eventually shook hands and thanked each other for a peaceful event.