Pinay among those arrested at TMX protest

Vancouver, B.C.

Four arrested after  blockade at major port access

Opinion

Mildred German

As the sacred fire burnt at the Clark Drive and East Hastings port entrance blockade in East Vancouver earlier this week, Indigeneous youth, community members, and supporters gathered to show support for Indigenous land defender Stacy Gallagher. Protesters demanded  his 90-jail charges be dropped. Indigenous youth group the Braided Warriors set up the blockade after the court trial of fours land defenders charged in 2020 were sentenced.

Braided Warriors, an Indigenous youth, set up the blockade disrupting traffic for than 24 hours.

21-year old Filipino youth Laurel Fermina was with the community of peaceful protests when the brutal arrest happened. Despite the the peaceful protest, a sharp increase in police presence and movement seemed an overkill.

A former Capilano University nursing student, Fermina was dragged and arrested while linking arms with protesters and was trying to protect an Indigenous elder beside her. Among the four who were brutalized and arrested, with Fermina was a Black woman, an Ethopian youth, and Lady Chainsaw, who was in a wheelchair.

“I was brutalized, arrested, held in a dark and cramped paddywagon while handcuffed and having panic attacks”, Fermina shared in an interview with Philippine Canadian News.com. “Then I was taken to jail where they treated me as per usual how BIPOC are treated.”

Earlier this year, reports of police brutality dominated the news as a 37-year old Filipino man was shot and killed by police in the Vancouver DTES after a mental health distress call. News of police presence and abuse have been rampant in 2020, although police brutality has been an ongoing problem in the city, all over Canada, and the world.

As more people, Indigenous communities and concerned individuals oppose the TMX and other mega-projects, B.C. ‘s use of police and military tactics to subdue protesters have been concerning. A year ago, in February 2020, RCMP unjustly raided and arrested land defenders at the Wet’suwet’en Territory. The news gathered global criticism and support against the expansion of the pipeline.

Peaceful protests have been met with brutality and the colonial court systems that strive to criminalize Indigenous peoples and supporters who stand in opposition to such dangerous resource extraction projects. This fight is long from over though it  has been opposed and defended for many years. The Canadian government have been unparalleled in their decisions to continue the TMX project that threatens lands, water, and communities. TMX continues construction each day, according to protesters.

“I want the Filipino community to know that one of their kasamas got arrested for protecting what is sacred,” said Fermina who grew up in Cavite, Philippines and has Ifugao and Bicolano roots.

She was never arrested before, was charged with mischief and intimidation She was  eventually released the next day complaining of body aches and sores, exhaustion, and hurt wrists.

Filipino youth, protesters, and community have been opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, along with other mega-projects such as LNG and Site C Dams. The crisis brought by Canadian mining corporations to Indigenous lands, water, and territories locally and globally, including the Philippines, have been the major factor for the protests.

To date, the Philippines remain the most dangerous place for activists, environmentalists, and journalists, next to Brazil.


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