There will be a rally in support of Inuk grandmother and land protector Beatrice Hunter this Thursday, June 8th, from 12:30-1:30pm at The Colonial Building in St. John’s.
“I’d like everybody to know we need as much support as we can get, the more attention we can draw to this situation the better,” said organizer Jodi Greenleaves.
Beatrice Hunter is being held at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) because she refused to tell a Supreme Court judge in Happy Valley Goosebay that she would not visit the Muskrat Falls site.
“This woman has been taken out here because she stood in front of the judge and told the truth. She said that she could not promise to stay away from the Muskrat Falls site, which was the truth. She has been tossed in jail for that,” said Greenleaves.
“Which I think is incredibly wrong considering she is an Indigenous woman. I also identify as an Indigenous woman, our ancestors walked and lived on that land. So for a colonial system like the courts to come and tell us that we can’t go there anymore, they’re infringing on our rights.”
Greenleaves has been organizing daily rallies outside HMP since Hunter was moved from the lock up in Happy Valley Goosebay to the maximum-security men’s prison in St. John’s on Friday June 2nd. Greenleaves has been in contact with Hunter’s sister who confirmed that Hunter knows the daily rallies are taking place and appreciates the encouragement.
“She’s aware that we’re there, and she is extremely grateful that she has support here and back home in Labrador, as well as in other places across the country. There was support from Northern Saskatchewan, there was also support from New Brunswick, and there’s a rally planned in Ottawa for Friday,” Greenleaves said.
Outrage about Hunter’s detainment has been steadily mounting and gaining national attention over the past few days. On June 2nd the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women published a statement saying that Hunter’s human and cultural rights were not being upheld. On June 5th, NunatuKavut Community Council President Todd Russell released a statement saying Hunter’s detainment exposes deep flaws in the justice system.
“We understand how difficult it must be for Beatrice as an Inuk mother and grandmother to be detained in a male maximum security prison. I understand the deep sense of separation one feels when you are taken from your home and so far away from the support of close family and friends,” Russell wrote.
At the time this article was written, close to 2500 people had signed a petition demanding Hunter’s immediate release. A legal fund for Hunter received more than a thousand dollars in donations in a little more than twenty-four hours.Greensleeves says there has also been a tremendous show of support for Hunter on social media and she anticipates a large crowd at the rally on Thursday.