Decolonizing Blockade Solidarity
“If environmental activists and activism isn’t thinking about, and implementing, decolonial and anti-colonial practices in their actions and organising, then I hate to break it to you but you’re not going to get anywhere”. This is what Edie Shepherd, a Wiradjuri and Noongar community organiser opened with in our Decolonizing Blockades webinar. She went on to talk about how the colonialist and capitalist ways of framing the environment haves paved the way for society to destroy, pillage and extract, with ‘utmost efficiency’, the land we live on and separate us from the roots of our wellbeing. This made stark the reason for the call to action by Clare Land that “not only does our solidarity with First Nations people need to be decolonized, but we need to make our solidarity a force for decolonization”.
And that’s just a taste of the amazing conversations that Edie, Clare and Chris sparked during the webinar last night. If you missed it, you really have to watch it for yourself, watch it here:
We learnt last night that without addressing colonialism alongside capitalism (the two ideas have been bedfellows for their entire existence, knotted and inseparable) we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. It reminded us of the saying violence begets violence, and in particular Martin Luther King’s teachings in the use of nonviolence. That we cannot beat an oppressive system at it’s own game. What last night reminded us was that there are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, amongst the sea of First Nations leaders internationally, who are claiming their right to self determination and sovereignty and as a result are dismantling the drivers of climate change. Those First Nations leaders are connected to hundreds of years of resistance to colonialism and capitalism. They draw from a living culture that has existed for thousands of years before colonisers arrived on their shores. Their ways of thinking have both a deeper understanding of colonialism and are in contrast to it which encourages us to trust in First Nations peoples when we are asked to move up and fight alongside them.
Chris Twining perhaps made it most clear when she observed we have stopped thinking with the heart. That is not to say we shouldn’t also think with our head, but when did we make everything an intellectual exercise? But it was clear from last night that we can change, and continue to practice decolonising our thinking and allyship on our journey together. Here is a quick list of resources to help you along the way –
- Know the history of colonialism, and your place as a settler, coloniser.
You can start with your own family history,
- Listen to what you’re being told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about what they want, and then broadcast it
- When acting in solidarity, don’t do anything you haven’t been asked to do.
Pay the rent. This means donate some of your resources to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander lead projects.
You can look to organisations in the environment movement like Seed Mob and Original Power but also to the network of blockades, occupations and sovereign camps like Deebing Creek, Djab Wurrung Embassy, Gumbaynggirr Tent Embassy, and Camp Quoll.
There are many ways to support existing efforts including participating when a call out to allies is made, or financial contributions to ongoing efforts for self-determination.
- Be prepared to be vulnerable and make space to reflect, make mistakes and learn to do better, and commit to long lasting changes
As Galilee Rising we are working to provide information, training and resources to support and empower people to participate in peaceful protest in the Galilee Basin. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it elsewhere as well. Our goal is to stop the extraction of coal in the Galilee and we humbly admit that we, as part of a broader movement, still have much to learn and improve on in decolonising our selves and being better allies to all the mob we fight alongside.
Till next time.