QPIRG and Canadian Indigenous Rights

Our Home on Native Land Logo

QPIRG's 'Our Home on Native Land' logo. Click the picture for more details

QPIRG and the Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement

The Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement (IPSM) was a QPIRG-affiliated group of both native and non-native activists in Canada dedicated to restoring, protecting, and fighting for indigenous land rights.  According to the group’s archived mandate, the IPSM is “dedicated to social justice” and “seeks to uphold a global vision of Indigenous Rights while it acts upon Indigenous issues in Canada generally, and in local areas specifically.”[1]

 This is a clear reflection of QPIRG’s goal of connecting local issues with broader international movements as a way to build a potent solidarity emanating around the concept of social justice. However, such a strategy was not unique to QPIRG, but was in fact part of an international paradigm shift in the anti-colonialism movement.

Historical Background

The anti-colonialism movement is, according to some estimates, the oldest running social movement in Canadian history.[2] Indigenous tribes have long employed a diversity of strategies to fight colonial intrusions onto their traditional lands. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, indigenous anti-colonialism activists discovered a new unity, not only with each other but with an international network. This was no coincidence, as an international network was also forming around another issue – environmentalism.

According to indigenous legal scholar Chidi Oguamanam, a “related worldview and an epistemic tradition based on the sanctity of the ecological order" provided international activist networks and indigenous movements with a “point of solidarity."[3] QPIRG’s events through the IPSM show this solidarity in action. Indeed, indigenous author-activist Lynne Davis states that all those in the movement are “well aware” that many of their recent victories have been the “direct result of…alliances and relationships of solidarity.”[4]

Our Home on Native Land

Our Home on Native Land was a 3 day conference sponsored by QPIRG in 2002. The conference included film screenings, talks, and workshops. As explained by QPIRG organizers, “The themes of the event are broad and general to encompass the range and severity of issues faced…We are hoping to build a stronger movement for indigenous rights where non-native allies can offer support and solidarity in any way needed.”[5]

Indigenous tribes represented included the Kanehsatake Mohawks, Lubicon Cree, Oneidas, Inuit, and Secwepemc. Activists from these nations led workshops on homelessness, self-sovereignty, and environmental justice. A unifying theme of land rights is observable throughout the event materials.[6]

Land, Decolonization & Self-Determination 

The Land, Decolonization & Self-Determination conference was another QPIRG-IPSM organized event. Again centering around solidarity with other movements and indigenous self-determination, materials from this conference illustrated a strong opposition to capitalism. In one brochure, the group claims “capitalist globalization is nothing new – it is simply a new name for the colonialism and culture of genocide which Indigenous peoples have been resisting for centuries.”[7]

[1] IPSM Brochure, 2002, Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement, Box 1.47, QPIRG McGill Fonds, McGill University Archives.

[2] Davis, Lynne. Alliances: re/envisioning indigenous-non-indigenous relationships. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010 pp.4

[3] Oguamanam, Chidi. "Protecting indigenous knowledge in international law: solidarity beyond the nation-state." Law Text Culture 8 (2004) pp. 192

[4] Davis 4

[5] Our Home on Native Land brochure, 2002, Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement – Our Home on Native Land [conference], Box 1.48, QPIRG McGill Fonds, McGill University Archives.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Land, Decolonization & Self-Determination brochure, 2002, Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement – Our Home on Native Land [conference], Box 1.48, QPIRG McGill Fonds, McGill University Archives.

QPIRG and the Anti-Colonialism Movement
QPIRG and Canadian Indigenous Rights