Colonialism, Land Theft & Borders

Since its very foundation, Canada has remained a colonial occupation of territories never surrendered by the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. Using occupying state structures such as police, courts, deportation, prisons and detention centres, Canadians “protect” Canadian borders as part of a continued struggle for ownership and control of Indigenous territories. While Indigenous Peoples of these territories have long had protocol to address the arrival of newcomers,1 the Canadian state and settlers have continually disrespected and disregarded that self-determination. Whether through misinterpreted and broken treaties, racist and assimilationist policies, or the armed dispossession and displacement of communities, Canada's claim to power has always depended upon violations of Indigenous laws and customs, and of the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The central motive of Canada's ongoing settler-colonial occupation is to expropriate Indigenous lands and resources for the centralized accumulation of capital. Resource extraction industries provide ample evidence of how Canadian colonialism, imperialism, and immigration control reinforce the dispossession of poor and Indigenous peoples worldwide. Within Canada, Canadian and foreign corporations are invited to invest in, and profit from, destructive resource extraction projects in Indigenous communities.2 The Indigenous Peoples upon whose territories these projects take place are consistently denied the respect of their treaty rights and inherent rights (such as the right to meaningful consultation) for the sake of these projects. All too often, those protecting the land are left fighting expensive and lengthy court cases or forced to physically defend their territories and suffer the devastating consequences of doing so. Communities in the global South who are resisting resource extraction projects orchestrated by Canadian companies are also facing criminalization and military repression in the name of “state security”.3 Whether at “home” or in countries of the global South, Canadian companies use violence and state collusion to profit off of resource extraction without the consent of affected communities.4

The chauvinistic protection of the nation state and settler-citizens of Canada has historically been founded in classist, white supremacist, patriarchal discrimination. Citizenship legislation presumes the naturalized right of certain human beings to occupy territory, to the exclusion of others. For Canada, the legislation of citizenship is one page in a long history of colonial policy and genocidal practice. From the Indian Act to Residential Schools to border policing, Canada has consistently used violent political force to attempt to “naturalize” and regulate colonial society at the expense of Indigenous peoples and their rights to self- determination. This has included, for example, dishonouring numerous treaties and agreements in order to police the movement of Indigenous peoples passing over colonial borders through their own territories, as is the case for the Akwesasne Nation.5

The enforcement of citizenship and immigration law also permits the Canadian state to practice selective acceptance of migrants. The intention of the state and capitalists is to welcome those migrants who will stimulate economic growth and participate in the colonialist project, while shunning those who could “threaten” it. Current policy trends favour the presence of migrants who can enter the country as temporary workers and “cheap labour” to be exploited, and then deported.6 Therefore, migrant workers often end up in precarious, dangerous jobs with few benefits from their employers or the state. Capitalists and the state can profit off the vulnerability of these workers, without affording them the benefits of residency or citizenship. As people around the globe have less and less access to the resources and freedoms they require for survival, countries like Canada respond by defending the privileges of those deemed “worthy citizens” of a colonial state. A colonial state they created by way of theft, violence, and dishonour.




1. See for information on the Two Row Wampum Treaty, which is the foundation of Nation to Nation agreements between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and settler governments.

2. Government of Canada. “Invest in Canada: Oil and Gas Industry: Canada's competitive advantages.” (accessed February 19, 2016).

3. MiningWatch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). “Highlights from 'In the National Interest?'.” (accessed February 20, 2016).

4. “Canadian mining puts lives and democracy at risk in the Americas-report.“ (accessed February 20, 2016).; & Council of Agrarian Authorities from the Montaňa/Costa Chica region of Guerrero for the Defence of Territory and against Mining and the Biosphere Reserve, Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples (REMA). “Agrarian authorities from Guerrero, Mexico, say Canadian mining companies need a reality check: Open letter from the Council of Agrarian Authorities of the Montaňa/Costa Chica region of Guerrero in Defence of Territory and against Mining and the Biosphere Reserve and the Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples (REMA).” (accessed February 20, 2016).; “International organizations denounce violence against indigenous community in Mexico; Community seeks answers from Teck Resources” (accessed February 20, 2016).

5. Assembly of First Nations. “Border Crossing: AFN Annual Report 2014.” (accessed February 19, 2016).

6. No One Is Illegal. “Summary of Never Home.” (accessed February 19, 2016).