Press Release – In Reflection and Appreciation
Line 9 Water Defenders – All Charges Dropped
On December 21st 2015, Vanessa Gray supported by Stone Stewart and Sarah Scanlon manually shut down Enbridge’s Line 9 on Anni and locked ourselves to it. We were then arrested and charged with Trespassing, Mischief over $5000, and Mischief Endangering Life ( carrying a maximum sentence of 35 years.) And Stone was also charged with Resisting Arrest. We know that these charges, in particular the Endangering Life charge, are an act of intimidation and threat to scare ourselves and other land defenders and supporters from taking much needed action against the Fossil Fuel Industry.
On January 13th, 2016, we had our final court appearance in which all charges were withdrawn. After over a year of court dates and meeting between the lawyers, the crown has deemed that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on the endangering life charge and that it is not in the public interest to continue in the prosecution of the mischief over $5000 charge. We will be under a peace bond for the next 18 months which requires us to not enter Enbridge Inc. property and to ‘keep the peace and be of good behaviour.’ We did not receive any criminal records and did not admit guilt for our actions. It is our responsibility to challenge Enbridge Line 9 and all pipelines endangering future generations on stolen Native land. As an Anishinaabe Kwe, it was imperative that Vanessa not be forced to admit guilt for following her inherent right and responsibility to protect the water on her own territory.
We know the withdrawal of all charges is due, in large part, to the overwhelming and continued support and visibility we experienced from our communities.
“When I was informed all the charges would be dropped, I thought of the other land defenders who continue to struggle in the colonial legal system. I will use this opportunity to learn and build stronger communities to continue our common resistance. I’m honored to play a small part in this larger movement. I am forever grateful for my friends at home and around the world for all their support. Indigenous people standing up for the land should not be seen as a radical statement, but a way of life.
Our defense of the land does not begin or end with just one pipeline. Line 9 is only one part of the existing health and environmental problems threatening Anishinaabek territory. The land beneath the refineries is still sacred. We all share the responsibility to use our voices and bodies to make a difference in a very questionable and uncertain future. Our relationship with the land is the medicine we need to survive.”- Vanessa Gray, Anishinaabe land defender.
We wanted to offer thanks and appreciation to so many groups and individuals.
Thank you to everyone who donated funds to our legal campaign, bought a tshirt, shared us over social media, showed up to court, sent us messages and letters of care, created and shared alternative media in support of our case and action, and all the land defenders and activists who continued to fight the fossil fuel industry. Special thanks to all those who helped through our campaign and legal team. We have raised enough money to cover all of our legal costs. The remaining money will be split between Chippewas Solidarity and Aamjiwnaang Solidarity.
There are no words to describe the gratitude we feel for the many different ways folks offered us support along this journey.
The fight is not over. We cannot stop or even take a break. There are so many important land defense projects taking place across turtle island that need your support and solidarity.