National | Media Release

April 17th International Day of Peasant Struggle: The National Farmers Union of Canada Celebrates 30 Years of La Via Campesina

We begin this statement of solidarity and celebration by giving thanks to the people of La Via Campesina for our collective struggle and leadership over the past 30 years. Today we raise up our hands and honour the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend the rights of others to continue to fight for a better world. 

In 1996, La Via Campesina established the April 17th International Day of Peasant Struggle to honour the 19 landless Brazilian peasants who were massacred by Brazilian military police during a landless worker occupation protesting the monopolization of agricultural land by elites and foreign corporations. The occupation became emblematic of peasant struggles for land and against the encroachment of undemocratic, corporate-driven agriculture in many parts of the world. 

This April 17th 2022, the National Farmers Union of Canada (NFU) honours lives lost and celebrates 30 years of La Via Campesina

The NFU is a founding member of the La Via Campesina. Even before the movement was formed, the NFU was involved in efforts to build international solidarity. Today, we carry forward our commitment to international solidarity.

For us, solidarity is not only a way to achieve shared objectives as farmers – it is a relationship grounded in values of justice, democracy and responsibility for one another and the earth. 

Today, we celebrate the NFU’s work to build farmer solidarity with Indigenous peoples. We recognize that Indigenous struggles are crucial to the protection of our common future. We strive to tackle the injustices that continue to harm Indigenous peoples on this land. 

We celebrate the NFU’s work to build solidarity with migrant workers. We recognize that many migrant workers in Canada are peasants who have been driven off their land due to forces beyond their control. Many continue to farm in their home territories, but in order to survive financially, they need to leave their families and communities for months at a time to grow food for other farmers, some of them large corporations. 

We call on our governments to protect and extend the rights of peasants, Indigenous peoples and migrant workers. The 2018 UN Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), fought for and defended by La Via Campesina for nearly two decades, is a valuable political tool. In particular, Article 17 (right to land), Article 19 (right to seeds), and Article 14 (rights of seasonal, temporary, and migrant workers) are key to challenging injustice, corporate capture and colonization. 

We affirm our struggles for food sovereignty and agroecology are strengthened by grassroots democracy. Each year at our national conventions NFU members reaffirm grassroots democracy when we make decisions collectively, build relationships across differences, and develop common critiques and pathways forward. As Nettie Wiebe, the NFU’s first woman President and the first woman elected to La Via Campesina’s International Coordinating Committee (ICC), noted, 

when we act in solidarity we confirm our shared humanity. We recognize that our rights, agency, dignity and well-being are bound up with all those other human communities who struggle for theirs. By declaring April 17th a day of peasant struggle we not only named and condemned the terrible violence against Brazilian peasants on that day more than three decades ago, we exposed the structural injustices and violence that continues to oppress and undermine people of the land in many parts of the world. I see working in solidarity against these injustices as key to the defence of our common humanity and to the very survival of human community.

30 years of collective struggles, hope and solidarity!

#LVC30Years #17April2022 #NoFutureWithoutFoodSovereignty #FoodSovereigntyNOW