Amanda Lickers is a “anarchaqueer Onkwehon:we cis-woman” from the Turtle Clan of the Onondowaga nation; her interests include “combating ecocide, hating the police, and harvesting medicines.” When she’s not using protests and rallies as opportunities to attack the police, Amanda works towards “dismantling all systems of oppression” by paradoxically “slashing at their social, cultural and material infrastructures.
Amanda works with Rising Tide Toronto, many of the same fine people who brought violence to the streets of Toronto during the 2010 G20. As a spokesperson for their protests, she plays a valuable role deflecting the media from asking questions like “how can a group consisting of 99% ‘settler allies’ have the audacity to claim they speak on behalf of entire indigenous communities,” and “why are there so many convicted G20 organizers here?”
Lickers was in the news again last week after emitting 600 kilometers of carbon traveling to fight “ecocide” in Montreal. She and fellow protesters interrupted a National Energy Board consultation on the Energy East pipeline. Standing on First Nations land unrelated to her home at the Six Nations, Amanda was an interesting choice of spokesperson- why wasn’t there someone local? Could it be that she’s following her established tradition of appropriating the voices of indigenous people outside her own community?
Amanda got attention on both sides of the border in 2013 in what many see as one of the year’s most distasteful activist attention seeking stunts. Visiting Vermont’s Middlebury College (which is coincidentally where Bill McKibben started 350.org), Amanda decided it was a good idea to protest “militarism” by pulling up and throwing 2000+ American flags into garbage bags. The flags were placed by a coalition of Democrat & Republican student organizations as a memorial to the people who died in the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Centre.
Amanda explained to the media that her reasoning for this ghastly act was that the flags were on an indigenous burial ground and it was disrespectful to have placed them there. When people complained about her self-righteous behavior she smeared them as “genocide, eugenic, and imperialist supporters!!”. Typical stuff we hear from activists, covering their own weaknesses by making shit up about others.
But there was one major problem. Like last week’s protest, Amanda wasn’t standing on land she had any connection with, it was the traditional territory of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe. The chief was horrified by how she dragged his people’s name through the mud with such an abhorrent self-promotion. In a press conference he not only called Amanda and her friend’s behaviour “disgusting“, but called her on her bullshit that the flags were on a burial ground- they weren’t.
So we have to ask the question whether Amanda was pulling a similar stunt last week. Why wasn’t a local person speaking to the media? Why were the three key people interrupting the meeting shipped in from Toronto? Why weren’t there any local indigenous people put before the media. Could it be that she and fellow professional protesters don’t have as much indigenous support as they claim to?
Amanda is from the Six Nations reserve near Caledonia, her fellow indigenous activist on stage came from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia. If you look closely at the above map you’ll see a yellow highlighted area that gives a rough idea where their homes are. The green parts of the Energy East pipeline are existing segments, the orange are proposed new segments.
Amanda and her friends declared that there will be “no new pipelines” build on “our territory”. The good news in the case of the Energy East pipeline is that it runs hundreds of kilometers away from their reserves, and the pipeline planned for Ontario is already built. So they’ve already won the (non) battle, Energy East will have absolutely zero impact on their communities and won’t be built anywhere near them.
What About Amanda And Line 9?
While it might upset her to hear this, Licker’s background shares many of the characteristics used to describe “old stock” Canadians- early settlers who helped build this country; abandoning their homelands in search of safety, freedom, and a better future for their families.
Amanda’s ancestors are some of Canada’s earliest refugees who were forced to flee their territory in New York after siding with the British against the Americans. The Crown assisted their resettlement by rewarding them land in Southeast Ontario- the place Amanda calls home, now known as the Six Nations reserve.
There’s a blog by Deyoyonwatheh does an excellent job explaining the technicalities and history of Six Nations treaties explaining and debunking all the misinformation we’ve heard over the years. Deyoyonwatheh made another excellent posting about the Six Nations Men’s Fire vowing to stop (the already completed and approved) reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal. He explains in great depth how the Six Nations don’t have a claim on the lands the pipeline runs over and how it’s kilometers away from their reserve.
One of the (valid) criticisms against old stock Canadians was their paternalist tendency to speak and act on behalf of indigenous communities. Most Canadians now regret this behavior, but it doesn’t appear that Amanda got the memo; instead continuing to follow the path she established in Vermont in 2013. As unlikely as it sounds, Amanda has become the poster girl for the social justice movement’s neo-colonial appropriation of indigenous causes.
With Halloween on its way, and costume stores already popping up across the country, it won’t be long before social justice warriors start wagging their fingers and feigning outrage about politically incorrect Pocahontas costumes and baseball hats. The lazy/overtasked media will undoubtedly regurgitate the same stories they’ve been printing about the same subject for the past few years.
But meanwhile, when a protester who’s got as much negative attention for appropriating indigenous communities voices as Amanda stands up on a stage, the media laps it up like a kitten handed a fresh bowl of milk. CP24’s Cam Wooley told me back in July this happens because the media is afraid of “offending people”. The media needs to wake up and start realizing their timidity is allowing the Amanda Lickers of the world smear the names of communities filled with good, innocent, people- many who are horrified to be represented this way.