This was only the second chiefs assembly I’ve attended since announcing my candidacy. funds are limited so social media seems to be the next best way to get my message across. But it’s also a much “greener” way of campaigning.
Speaking one’s truth is not always a popular way for a politician to win votes, but for me, it is the only way. The values of Our Ancestors and their teachings speak to honour, dignity, truth and compassion. In my humble opinion, reflecting those values are vital to making significant changes for our communities. I have watched as my community, Kanehsatà:ke was punished for standing up for our sovereign rights in the summer of 1990. As time creeps closer to the 22 year anniversary of July 11th, it is disheartening that after all we went through, that the provincial and federal government continue to grab our lands for their benefit, not ours. They still do not recognize the Mohawk people’s rights to our lands and resources. If we try to defend our lands and people, we are criminalized by government and media propaganda. But then again, criminalization of Indigenous activists is not new, nor does there seem to be any change in this colonial trend.
Someone mentioned recently, that they didn’t understand why I have chosen to run for the post of national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As Kontinonhsés:ne – Longhouse, my decision was not an easy one. But having worked steadily as an Indigenous activists for the past 22 years of my life, I have been subjected to discrimination, disrespect and attacks upon my dignity by tyrants in government who claim that we – Indigenous peoples who believe in our traditional governments, are criminals as we are blocking “the best interests of the public”. This hypocrisy in the guise of the “rule of law” has dispossessed Onkwehón:we peoples from their sovereign rights, and their authority to protect Mother Earth and all our relations who are being exploited for the sake of the “public’s interest”.
I have observed traditional peoples’ governments being marginalized and dismissed by the Federal Government even though our inherent rights are supposedly protected by Sect. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. We as self-determining peoples should not have to enter into the foreign governments courts to assert and protect our rights. yet that is what we are forced to do, it is not only costly money wise, but costly to our land, our dignity and our rights. So called land claims negotiations do not stop third party development during talks. It supports the 3rd party interest causing more of our lands to be lost to development and making the situation more frustrating and deafening.
What it ultimately means is that colonialism is alive and well supported by a Federal and Provincial government who support more the rights of corporations than the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
the Doctrine of Discovery, Papal Bulls that claim superiority over the lands of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas is the basis of Canada and the USA’s sovereignty. they are the basis of their property laws. And yet, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states in its preamble, that Doctrines of Superiority are “…racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust.”
Our duty as sovereign peoples is to assert our rights, protect Mother Earth and eliminate Canada’s Land Claims policy from negotiations regarding our lands and resources. We have the fundamental tools to create a new decolonized relationship with Canada through the UN Declaration in conjunction with our own laws, customs and traditions.
Many talk about unity as if it is an abstract thought, unlikely attainable. yet we continue to push for it. We cannot depend upon one person or one organization to make unity to defend our rights a reality. WE as a Peoples must consciously make the effort to create the unity required to strongly defend our rights, our Mother Earth, All our relations. Our ancestors our watching us, so are the children. Freedom from discrimination is part of the rule of law. Freedom from colonial mentality is what’s needed to proceed into the future with good minds and good hearts to make positive change.
Skén:nen – in peace
All my Relations