Local Indigenous groups have distanced themselves from a planned far-right gathering in the Kingston area, stating that the event amounts to appropriation of Indigenous culture, and that they are not affiliated with the event, nor do they support it.
“The actions that are taking place on our Territory (Kingston, ON) is unacceptable. For those who are participating in these actions, the Indigenous Community does not support the setup of a sacred fire in Kingston in support of the ‘Freedom Convoy’. The Indigenous Community did not give consent for these ceremonial practices and [they] could cause more harm to who we are as First Nations/Algonquin people,” said the Katarokwi Grandmothers Council, Tipi Moza, Kingston Indigenous Language Nest, and other additional Indigenous organizations in a joint press release.
“First Nations and Non-Indigenous people should always remember protocol and that permission from us [is] needed to proceed,” the letter continued. “This letter is to serve notice that the Kingston Indigenous Community does not support or endorse these actions. If these actions continue, we have no other choice but to support the Kingston Police in their efforts and actions to stop this at once. Once again, we do not support the freedom convoy or any other movement that compromises the safety of our community members.”
Mutual Aid Katarokwi also issued a statement regarding the unsupported event. “June 21st will be celebrated by many as National Indigenous Peoples Day. Meanwhile, past participants of the far-right convoy attacks are on the road again, this time travelling to the ‘greater Kingston area’ to unite at a ‘Sacred Fire Festival’,” the group said.
While organizers of the planned event alleged that they had strong ties to Indigenous communities, when Indigenous groups pressed them on specifics about these ties, they received no response.
“For those who don’t know, Sacred Fires are a revered cultural Ceremonial Practice in many Indigenous communities that have specific Protocols,” the statement continued. “Local Indigenous people with culturally grounded Knowledge stewarding this Tradition have questioned ‘freedom’ advocates on the specifics of which Indigenous community was organising the event and had invited them. Far-right organisers replied ‘I am First Nations’. Further inquiries resulted in a ban and the deletion of all evidence of these questions,” Mutual Aid Katarokwi said. “While the ‘Sacred Fire’ event’s website vaguely references Indigenous Traditions and Beliefs, it does not detail which Indigenous groups have organised the event.”
Mutual Aid Katarokwi said that local Indigenous peoples, and those monitoring the tactics of the far-right, are concerned that “this event may be appropriating Indigenous customs and de-centering Indigenous peoples from stewardship of their own Sacred Protocols, to the benefit of the far-right and the profits of event promoters. These concerns could be addressed and discussed if contact could be made with the community starting and tending the fire. But again, this has been denied.”
Kingston Police have said that they are aware of an organized group descending on the City of Kingston either today or tomorrow for an “event”. “This event has been organized by members directly and indirectly involved in previous protests held in Ottawa earlier this year and involves an undisclosed number of individuals travelling from as far as British Columbia and Alberta to participate,” Kingston Police said in a statement.
“Police have become aware that event organizers are reportedly travelling to the Kingston area to participate in a gathering to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a ceremonial sacred fire in recognition of noted Indigenous significance, on what will be National Indigenous Peoples Day. The Summer Solstice, which is held on June 21st, is the longest day of the year and throughout history and across continents, has been a time for Indigenous cultural celebration,” police said in the statement. “However, after reaching out to Kingston’s Indigenous community members, police have ascertained that they have no awareness of this planned event nor did they invite this group of individuals to attend their own planned ceremonies,” Kingston Police continued.
“As a result of learning this information, Kingston’s Indigenous community, out of an abundance of caution, did not follow through with weekend ceremonies leading up to June 21st, and expressed some concern for how this group will affect their planned celebrations for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Police have assured the local Indigenous community that all measures will be taken to ensure that local celebrations are not disrupted,” Kingston Police said.
Kingston Police also said that they wish to assure the community that they “are working with external policing partners and local resources will be in place to respond to this organized event and will address all safety issues that may arise as a result.”