Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Chief Allan Adam beaten and arrested in Canada

A video shows the violent arrest of indigenous Chief Allan Adam, who was beaten by two Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers.

The death of George Floyd, the black man murdered by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the 25th of May, has sparked a series of protests across the globe. These protests have helped shed light on an increasing number of violent episodes perpetrated by law enforcement officers on minorities.

Among these is the case of Allan Adam, Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation indigenous community. Adam was beaten and arrested by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers. The arrest took place at Fort McMurray in Alberta province on the 10th of March, but the video was only made public on the 11th of June.

The video of Allan Adam’s violent arrest

The video shows the indigenous Chief – who says he is “tired of being tormented by police” – clashing with two RCMP officers. After a few minutes, the situation takes a turn for the worst: Adam is thrown to the ground and the two officers punch him on the head repeatedly. One of the officers then proceeds to execute a chokehold.

The reason for the arrest is related to an issue with Allan Adam’s truck. The fine was supposed to amount to 310 US dollars (approximately 270 euros), but – as stated on the fundraising page that has been set up to help the Chief pay his legal fees – the ticket was never issued. However, Adam was accused – among other things – of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.

Although most of the recent protests in Canada focused on police brutality towards ethnic minorities, there has also been an outcry against the systemic criminalisation of indigenous people, who make up 5 per cent of the Canadian population but account for over 30 per cent of the prison population.

Allan Adam’s fight against the climate crisis

Indigenous communities in Canada have a direct dependency on their territory for survival. Therefore, the climate crisis brings an ever greater existential threat. Adam has tried to draw attention to this fact on many occasions: “Areas further north suffer the effects of climate change three times more quickly than southern regions,” he declared in January 2020. “We’re not talking about temperatures increasing by a couple of degrees here, but by seven degrees. Our community cannot afford the luxury of ignoring the climate crisis”.

In October 2019, Adam met with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, founder of the Fridays for Future movement. They discussed the effects of the crisis on indigenous peoples.

Every day, these communities have to face the problems caused by climate change, from extreme weather events to rising sea levels. They often develop innovative solutions that benefit humanity as a whole. Now more than ever is the time to protect them.

Translated by

Related articles
The Omo Valley, where life flows with the river

The tribes of the Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia live in close contact with nature and the river they depend on. We explore how their ancestral ways of life are being threatened by the impacts of a mega-dam, climate change and a booming tourism industry, in this exclusive reportage.