Plan Nord Protesters Demonstrate in Montreal
Protest Puts Emphasis on Indigenous Solidarity and Anti-Capitalism
As a snow storm blew over Montreal on Friday, about 200 people marched through downtown in protest of the controversial Northern Quebec natural resource development project Plan Nord.
Montreal played host to the renamed Salon des ressources naturelles, a forum on employment to support Plan Nord.
The forum is being held Feb. 8 and Feb. 9 in Montreal, and protests are planned for both days.
Anti-capitalist and anti-police chants filled Friday’s demonstration, but a large emphasis was put on First Nations struggles, with chants in solidarity with the northern communities that Plan Nord’s prospective developments will disrupt.
“The goal today was to disrupt the salon,” said an organizer of Friday’s demonstration who asked to remain anonymous.
“We’re in solidarity with ongoing indigenous resistance to Plan Nord, especially in the Inuit communities, that have been going on for a few years. We think it’s important to have that resistance here in the city.”
Some protesters came from far, but carried a similar message.
“What you’re going to be seeing is huge resource extraction projects happening in northern Quebec that have not been in consultation with the First Nations groups up there,” said Ian, a protester who traveled from Ottawa to take part in the two-day demonstration.
“That’s my biggest thing—indigenous sovereignty and solidarity is super important. That’s the main reason I’m coming down.”
Ian added that tomorrow’s protest would bring another, larger contingent of people from Gatineau and Ottawa to join the protest.
The demonstration on Friday began at 12:00 p.m. in Square Victoria, weaving through the streets of Montreal’s financial district for about two hours and making stops at the Palais du Congrès, where the day’s forum was being held.
A second demonstration took place on Saturday, organized primarily by the Quebec nationalist group le Réseau de Résistance du Québécois.
Gathering first at Place Jean Paul-Riopelle at 9 a.m., about 300 people took to the streets to protest the second day of the Plan Nord forum.
Similar to the first day of demonstrations, many protesters wore red feathers to signify solidarity with the Idle No More movement and the first nations groups affected by Quebec’s northern development.
Unlike the first day however, Saturday’s protest erupted violently right from the beginning after a group of protesters smashed a window at the Palais des Congrès, throwing paint and shooting fireworks inside.
The SPVM responded immediately, flooding the streets with riot police and setting off a three-hour chase through downtown Montreal.
According to the SPVM, a total of 36 arrests were made Saturday—32 for illegal assembly, three for assaults against an officer, and one arrest for handling of stolen goods.