Downstream Stories: towards a watershed-scale resistance

Downstream Stories is a new series of articles from Knowing the Land is Resistance, with each piece introducing a wild space and community that we visited during the Seeds of Resistance tour.

Southern Ontario is intricately sewn together by the largest watershed in the world: The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Watershed. All of the wild spaces we’ve visiting are profoundly interconnected within this system, and each is a hopeful vision of healing from the past few centuries of colonial destruction.

This series is also an exploration of land defense and forest restoration in settler communities throughout the region. These struggles are often isolated, both from other kinds of social and ecological justice movements and from similar campaigns in different places.

Observing the ways that different communities are dealing with similar issues is what has motivated us to write about them. Although disconnected, these struggles do perhaps form a sort of loose movement in this region. Land defense struggles are also, at their roots, deeply connected with issues of poverty, gentrification, food security, immigration, education, and anti-racist / anti-homophobic / anti-sexist organizing.

Through these workshops and conversations and articles, we can begin to envision a watershed-scale movement in defense of the land. In doing this, we can draw inspiration from the struggles that First Nations Peoples have carried out for centuries, and that they continue to lead today. We can look to their work as we move away from local, reactionary struggles in settler communities towards a movement that truly acts on the interconnectedness within watersheds.

Rooting ourselves in a relationship with the land we live on and its history is the first step towards allying ourselves with the land’s abundant capacity to heal and flourish. We are in the midst of an urgently important large-scale ecological crisis, and by building links between our local struggles, our resistance can reflect this.

Our hope is that Downstream Stories can be a step in building that connection.

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