Starting before 5 am on June 22, more than 150 police and private security personnel came to Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park to expel two dozen residents of the homeless camp.
Equipped with assault rifles, drones, pepper spray, cavalry, and security fences, the deprived persons were kept in cages. The operation lasted nearly 20 hours. This is a particularly obvious manifestation of the brutal behavior of Canadian colonial capitalism. It is based on the anti-indigenous genocide and is promoted by continuous “predatory accumulation.”
Before Trinity Bellwoods brutally demonstrated national aggression, several other camps in Toronto have recently experienced deportations, and more deportations are planned in the coming days and weeks: the multi-layered violence involved in maintaining settler control of the indigenous peoples Crystallized land.
The first is the violent act of obliteration by the Aboriginal people who support Canadian colonial sovereignty-it requires the right to expel and exclude from the land ruled by the Aboriginal people for thousands of years before and after the European “discovery”.
Toronto was “purchased” by the British for the first time in 1787. The contract did not specify the property boundary. The signature of the chief who “sold” it was affixed on a separate piece of paper: the legal facade of land theft, reflected in various forms throughout the country Everywhere, now calling itself Canada.
The Toronto Park of the deported camp residents (more than one-third of them are Aboriginals) is located on the historic “park”. These are the land allocations divided by the British during their settlement in the city and distributed to wealthy industrialists and military leaders on preferential terms-this is a colonial subsidy to the privileged class.
For example, the Trinity Bellwoods are located on land originally awarded to the Queen’s Ranger Commander Samuel Smith, a military regiment organized specifically to colonize Ontario.
The second is economic violence that has left hundreds of thousands of people in Canada homeless: this country is built on the continuous colonial “killing” that destroys the homes and homes of the indigenous people.
The profits extracted from Canada’s encroachment on indigenous lands and resources are used to feed national compulsory institutions, such as the army and police, because social care institutions are stripped to the bones.
Social assistance is maintained at an uninhabitable level to stabilize the supply of unstable workers to fill the humble work of poor wages. Toronto is one of the cities with the largest “super wealth gap” in the world. Its spending on police services is almost five times that of housing and housing. Last year, the city vetoed a motion to cut police budgets by 10%, but achieved savings by reducing housing and shelter expenditures by $35 million from plans so far this year.
As the abolitionist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Ruth Wilson Gilmore) has observed, the country’s “organized violence” and “organized abandonment” are two aspects of the same coin: in Canada, colonization The overwhelming majority of activists, racists, and economic marginalizers bear both.
The third is the legal violence that supports this unjust social order under the approval of the “rule of law.”
Canadian courts have repeatedly refused to recognize housing as a human right in accordance with the requirements of international law, and the proliferation of “new homeless” laws prohibits people from performing basic living functions outdoors-creating an impossible situation for those who do not have housing.
The crime of “quality of life” punishes the homeless who sleep or “wander” in public places, rather than government agencies exposing indigenous people to housing on reservations that are not insulated, dilapidated, and toxic mold. Canadian courts protect companies that expropriate and plunder aboriginal lands and allow camps for homeless people to be expelled from parks. Sleeping in the park is an illegal “intrusion”-but Canadian occupation of indigenous lands is a legal “sovereignty.”
Anomaly, the judge rationalized the expulsion of the camp in the name of protecting the “park.” [as] A public resource designed to be used and used by all”. Camp residents are not only expelled from the park, but also expelled from “everyone” who has the right to use the park to meet their needs.
The fourth is that spatial violence makes it difficult or even impossible for homeless people to survive in a city like Toronto.
The public space was deliberately constructed into a hostile terrain-designing benches that cannot sleep, depriving the park of toilets and drinking fountains, and installing spikes to prevent people from entering the sidewalk grille with excess heat. In the urban planning literature, this is called “defensive design”: this phrase fully illustrates how those who bear the burden of social structural injustice are seen as their enemies.
The fifth is that information violence is used to conceal and confuse the damn reality behind official lies.
The city justified camp evictions by exaggerating the availability and safety of sheltered spaces. In fact, Toronto’s shelter system cannot accommodate everyone who sleeps outside; one person is turned away every 13 minutes. People placed in the city’s refuge “hotel” reported that they were placed in rodent-infested rooms, walked in naked for a “health check,” and were deported to the winter night without adequate clothing. . A disabled resident said that she was abandoned on the 15th floor in the fire.
In the large-scale police operation at Trinity Bellwood Park, the city showed its tendency to turn violations as a virtue, which Toronto Mayor John Deli described as “mostly peaceful,” “reasonable,” and “compassionate.” However, the reporter was blocked and arrested for reporting the incident.
The sixth is the accompanying term violence, which allows this brutality to be packaged as kindness.
The city referred to camps as “occupation” and residents’ property as “garbage”, making demolition a “cleaning” and “recovery”. This resonates with colonialism’s long tradition of describing its raison d’être as a “waste civilization,” even if it wastes colonized land and lives.
Finally, the seventh type is violent physical violence, which is always to defend this property system and face the challenge of its legitimacy—just as it was so openly and disturbingly unfolded in Trinity Bellwoods three weeks ago.
The police wore children’s gloves to deal with masked persons who endanger public health, while the camp residents were suppressed with iron fists. This difference is not an anomaly, but a manifestation of the original function of police power: as the political theorist Mark Neocleous wrote: “Consolidate a new order based on private property.” Therefore, the historically deep-rooted “tendency to punish property crimes is more severe than crimes involving violence against the person.”
The current evictions are the latest episode in the long history of violence recorded in these parks; the violence inherent in the conversion of aboriginal lands to colonial property. For example, on one side of Trinity Bellwoods is Dundas Street, which is named after a British politician who was responsible for prolonging the transatlantic slave trade.
Canada is not only the terminus of the popularly celebrated liberation of the Underground Railway, but also a place of slavery for blacks and aboriginals.
There is a river buried under the park that has been used by indigenous people for centuries, and was blocked by settlers’ sewage and garbage in the early 1900s-symbolizing how attacks on colonists and the ecosystem that sustain them are Intertwined.
The whole of Canada is a crime scene-as critics pointed out after the discovery of at least 1,300 unmarked graves of aboriginal children, these graves are located in the former boarding “school”-the genocide institution.
Camp expulsion is a manifestation of the colonial power relationship, which turns the ancestral indigenous territory into an area of plunder, exploitation, poverty and death.
Even ostensibly progressive discourse participates in the anti-indigenous erasure at the core of settler rule: for example, by advocating “city rights” or “commons” established on colonial lands to fight against the country’s poverty policy.
However, in the face of this obliteration, the indigenous people continue to exercise sovereignty and protection of people, animals, waters and land. Provide care, treatment and resources in homeless camps; fight against colonial pipelines and chemical pesticides that endanger the Holy Land; challenge the destruction of Toronto’s gentrification with guerrilla art installations, and remind settlers of their treaty obligations to share and take care of the land—— These practices insist that land is not a commodity, but a network of relationships and responsibilities.
“Toronto” is believed to be derived from the words Mohawk, Seneca and/or Wendat, meaning “trees stand in the water”, and may refer to ancient fishing weirs or historic gathering places. According to indigenous history, it was once called a place of gathering and abundance, rather than a place of division and scarcity: a reminder that the beautiful world existed before the settlers colonized the present and can exist in the future after it.
The author would like to thank Babie, Derreck Black, Desmond Cole, Greg Cook, Doug Johnson Hatlem, Les Harper, Hayden King, Nesewin Makoons, Brianna Olson, Papi, and Shelter B for sharing their knowledge generously and thoughtfully with us.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.