On June 11, 2016, Alliance Against Displacement held a public event at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in Vancouver called “Reconcile This! Uniting colonial dispossession and capitalist displacement.” Five speakers were invited to share their perspectives on displacement and dispossession.
Brandon Gabriel from Kwantlen First Nation and Melinda Kachina Bige (Cree and Dene from Lutsel K’e, Northwest Territories) gave histories of the dispossession of Kwantlen First Nation. Brandon spoke about the displacement of villages along the Fraser River, locations that were desired by the colonial government and industrial developers because of the large gravel beds in the river. Read Brandon Gabriel’s article about Prime Minister Trudeau’s tokenizing reconciliation in the Spring 2016 issue of The Volcano. Melinda invited Audrey Siegl from the Musqueam Nation to share the floor with her, and shared with the room that, “According to my teachings, since I am a guest on Musqueam territory, I must invite a person from the host Nation to speak.” Melinda’s gesture showed the living relationships between Indigenous peoples, and shared a traditional protocol with the audience.
Jannie Wing-Sea Leung spoke about her experience as an organizer with Chinatown communities in Vancouver. She shared the perspectives of mostly senior Chinese residents who have been living in Chinatown for decades, and are now facing displacement due to gentrification. Jannie framed her talk in terms of the complex pressures of race, class, gender, and language that Chinatown residents experience on a daily basis. Look for an article by Jannie Wing-Sea Leung in the upcoming Summer issue of The Volcano, and read about organizing in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside with the SRO Collaborative in the Spring 2016 issue.
Ashley Mollison spoke of the current struggle at Super InTent City in Victoria, where she organizes as a camp supporter. Super In-Tent City has fought off the management of the site by Portland Hotel Society, and is self-organizing the camp on a day-to-day basis. Ashley shared the community vision, strength, and perseverance of Super In-Tent City’s marginalized and unhoused residents, some of who traveled to Vancouver for the weekend summit and were in attendance that evening. Read more about Super InTent City and a growing tent city movement in an article cowritten by Ivan Drury and Ashley Mollison for the Spring 2016 Volcano.
Natalie Knight (Yurok), a member of The Volcano newspaper editorial collective, focused her talk on three ways that anti-displacement movements are different from anti-dispossession movements. She said that Indigenous-led movements have incorporated fights against gender and sexual violence in ways that anti-displacement movements have struggled to do. In addition, Indigenous conceptions of the natural world, as well as their relationship to the colonial state, distinguish Indigenous-led movements against dispossession from movements against gentrification and displacement in Canada. Take a look at Natalie Knight and Ivan Drury’s article No Homelessness on Stolen Native Land? for more on the relationship between dispossession and displacement.
The public event “Reconcile This!” was held as part of Alliance Against Displacement’s two-day summit that brought together six communities facing displacement from Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Surrey, Victoria, Abbotsford, and Downtown Eastside Vancouver.