Algonquin and Black rights activists in Ottawa took to the streets Thursday and blocked off one of the busiest intersections in the downtown core.
The demonstration began at Ottawa city hall with a land acknowledgment and opening prayer. Then a crow of approximately 70 people marched down the street and blocked off the intersection of Laurier Ave. and Nicholas St.
Jace House is from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg north of Ottawa.
He says people have had enough of the violence towards Black and Indigenous people in Canada and had a message to the colonial powers.
“This is my land. You’ve been here off of our generosity for so many years. We allow you to stay in our home and our space and this is how you treat us. You kill us,” House said.
Drivers locked down in the massive traffic jam that ensued got more and more agitated.
House commented they can’t deal with oppression for 20 minutes but Algonquin’s deal with oppression their whole lives, day in and day out.
He says people are left no other options but to lash out.
“If we don’t (act) now we just wait for the next person that dies,” House said “we can’t have that anymore.”
Among the demonstrator’s list of demands they are asking for a freeze to the Ottawa’s police budget, no police in contested Indigenous territories and an end to racism in the healthcare system.
Vanessa Dorimain is with the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition.
She says they are frustrated that racialized people are being incarcerated and killed with the rest of the country turning a blind eye.
“We live in a racist municipal city, we live in a racist province and we live in a racist country,” Dorimain explained. “The things that we are asking for are not considerations or accommodations. Our demands are things that need to happen and we will not taking no for an answer.”
At one point during the demonstration an Ottawa driver’s frustration boiled over and she drove through the blockade bumping several demonstrators.
The woman was immediately pulled over by police.
Dorimain said their demonstration should anger people.
“I hope that folks are very upset and enraged that we have to block a whole intersection to be able to speak up. I hope that people are just as upset right now as we have been for a very long time in this country.”
The Algonquins say they are occupying Algonquin land and their occupation will go on for the next 24 hours with speeches and musical performances by local artist.