First Nations activist Ambrose Williams says Canada is “police state”
Ambrose Williams has experienced firsthand the active surveillance of activists by the police and security establishment.
A 25-year-old Vancouver man of Gitxsan and Dene ancestry, Ambrose was interviewed in this week’s cover story by the Georgia Straight about the opposition faced by planned oil and gas pipelines in B.C.
“The government is monitoring us. They’re watching us,” Williams said.
In the interview on December 27, Williams recalled the experience he and his fellow activists had last year, when they left Vancouver in a three-vehicle caravan bound for New Brunswick, where they went to reinforce the Mi’kmaq in fighting a company exploring for shale gas.
They posted on social media the place, date, and time of their departure. They barely made it four blocks from their starting point when they were stopped by the police.
“The cops pulled us over and took all of our names,” Williams said.
That happened over and over again as they made their way east to New Brunswick.
“They also were waiting for us in Alberta,” Williams recalled. “I remember we’re driving along the Trans-Canada Highway and a cop was waiting by an exit...and then he started following us. And then he looked at all the licence plates. He dropped back and then literally at the next exit, another cop, like two more, came out and stopped us all.
“This happened like pretty much in most of the provinces,” he continued. “Like we were being monitored and followed the whole way.”
Williams has one conclusion: “It really is becoming a police state. We need to become aware of that.”
The Straight asked Williams what he did in New Brunswick alongside the Mi’kmaq of the Elsipogtog First Nation.
“Without incriminating myself? “ Williams responded in amusement. “I was chopping firewood. I was being there in support. Helping people decompress from the situation. My training is in children and youth care counselling. So I was working with the youth while I was there.
“What else was I doing?” Williams continued. “I was just there to do whatever they felt I needed to do there to help them. Without incriminating myself.”