Image from Vice

Last night, it was an honour to listen to what Michelle Latimer — the director and showrunner of the latest Viceland doc series, RISE — had to say about the challenges faced by Indigenous people.

It was an emotional night. As we sat in the cinema to learn about the conflict at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — an area that expands North and South Dakota — tanks were rolling up to protesters. The people are still protesting today.

Image from ScreenerTV

Latimer, along with a passionate team, created RISE to highlight the immense challenges that the Indigenous people of the world face. The first two episodes of the series focus on the First Nations who are standing up to the Dakota Access Pipeline project, a plan that runs through their land and, more importantly, through their water supply.

The movement started with the youth leaders, mostly female, of the Standing Rock community. Latimer explained that when they first arrived at Sacred Stone Camp, the home base for the movement, it was quite small. Now, the movement has grown from the tens of people to thousands of supporters from all backgrounds. They all stand in solidarity with the Great Sioux Nation to help protect the area that the pipeline affects. In reality, it affects everyone.

The fight for land and water goes beyond geography. The nations have come together to reclaim their history, culture and dignity which was stripped from them through a series of injustices. Women no longer feel safe on their land, some have been kidnapped and sexually assaulted at “man camps,” settlements set up by company workers.

Most of them feel that if they do not fight now, they will lose everything. Late 2016, it looked like the pipeline project was halted. On President Trump’s fourth day, he signed through the pipeline.

At the screening, 3 youth who have been on the forefront of the protest got up to speak about it. Their lives are at risk and they are asking for help.

The RISE series is powerful, heartbreaking, yet also motivating. Stand with Standing Rock and continue to help them reclaim what is theirs.

These are a few ways we can help:

  1. Divest your money. There are 17 major banks that are funding the pipeline. Write to them and take your money out.
  2. Head to the Sacred Stone Camp’s website. On it, there are a few ways you can help, including donations.
  3. Write to your local MPs. Make your voice heard. The people need more than social media shares.
  4. If your local MP is pro-pipeline, find an MP who is not and write to him or her instead.
  5. Stand with Standing Rock. Latimer asked for those who can afford the time to go stand with the protesters. If you can afford the funds, sponsor a willing indigenous person instead of yourself.
  6. Create. Resist. Make some noise.


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