Legal Help For Rooster Town Blockade

$14,540 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 201 people in 15 months
Between mid-July and mid-September, Indigenous land defenders and allies defended a large aspen forest in south Winnipeg from being clear cut by a private developer, Andrew Marquess. Marquess acquired the public lands in a controversial 2009 land swap with the city.

It was called the Rooster Town Blockade, referencing the nearby Métis community that was expropriated and demolished in 1960 to build Grant Park Mall. Key concerns included a violation of Métis and First Nations rights, destruction of rare animals’ habitats and precious wetlands, and an overall lack of consultation, both with the surrounding community, First Nations and the Métis community to whom the land is owed.

The blockade was removed in September after a judge approved the developer’s request for an urgent injunction. Almost all of the aspen forest has been destroyed since. Land defenders and allies have respected the injunction and not returned to the site.

Now, the developer is suing 49 people for alleged participation in the blockade. It’s expected that they will be pursuing upwards of $500,000 in alleged damages.

That’s not a typo. Marquess is attempting to sue 49 people. For more than half a million dollars.

We’re going to keep fighting. Many of the defendants are in the process of retaining legal counsel. Lawsuits are by nature very expensive and lengthy processes. It will cost us tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. But it’s a far cheaper option that facing the possibility of the plaintiffs winning on default. And in the era of so-called “reconciliation” between Indigenous peoples and settlers, we believe it’s the right thing to do.

Please consider donating to this legal fund. Many of us are students and low-wage workers, so the prospect of paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket for a retainer is awfully intimidating. Every dollar counts enormously.

Who we are: We are some of the 49 defendants named in the lawsuit launched by a Winnipeg developer who is seeking damages potentially in excess of $500,000 for alleged participation in peaceful protest against the destruction of forest and wetlands. We include students, retirees, Indigenous land defenders, low-income workers and environmentalists.

Where we're from: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The site that was defended was in the south of the city, at a place called Parker Wetlands.

Your relationship to party: I am a Métis student who is also a defendant in the lawsuit

How the funds will be used: To pay for the significant fees associated with retaining legal representation by Winnipeg's GCH Law. We've already paid off the first half of the retainer, worth $5,000, with fundraised money and are now seeking to pay off the second half, another $5,000. The case itself could cost between $30,000 and $100,000 over the span of three to years. The money is withdrawn and immediately transferred to the law firm, which then places it in a trust fund that serves as the retainer for the collective defence. This is done via a password-protected e-transfer. There were no problems at all with the first transfer for the retainer.

Miigwetch/Marcii/Thank You

Here are some links to articles about the struggle if you wish to learn more:

An Indigenous Blockade in Winnipeg Is Halting Deforestation Efforts: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/evdj3z/an-indigenous-blockade-in-winnipeg-is-halting-deforestation-efforts

Parker Lands consultations would give Métis a say on ancestral land: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/opinion-parker-lands-consultatioon-1.4221809

Métis-Anishinaabe land defender establishes Rooster Town blockade in Winnipeg to protect wetlands: https://canadians.org/blog/m%C3%A9tis-anishinaabe-land-defender-establishes-rooster-town-blockade-winnipeg-protect-wetlands

Coverage of Winnipeg’s Rooster Town Blockade Reveals Media’s Anti-Indigenous Biases: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/coverage-of-winnipegs-rooster-town-blockade-and-medias-anti-indigenous-bias

The Skoden Chronicles podcast: https://soundcloud.com/the-skoden-chronicles/episode-10-racism-and-the-media

Protesters quietly leave Parker lands: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/protesters-quietly-leave-parker-lands-444778673.html
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$14,540 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 201 people in 15 months
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