over the past 22 years, I have been asked numerous times by reporters or in public forums as to whether or not I thought that there would be more “Oka’s” in the future.
In order to answer that, one needs to look at the acts of provocation committed by current legislation in Canada. The Indian Act controls our daily lives. There is not a stitch in this almost 138 year old racist Act that promotes peace and a peaceful coexistence. It’s ultimate goal being to disposses us of our lands and resources, then if we disagree, we must do the “civilized” form of action and go to Canadian courts. But hang on, if we have a dispute with Canada why are we going into their courts who have been limited in scope in their interpretation of our inherent rights.
the Oka Crisis of 1990 was not the first time my community was occupied. in the early 1900’s the Sulpician priests (blue bloods from France) ordered their bullies and army to occupy Kanehsatake due to the protests by the Mohawk people against the theft of our lands. Colonization’s goal has always been based upon greed for our lands and resources. Those who oppose, are labeled criminals, trouble makers and worse: terrorists. But I ask “Who is the real terrorist in the history of the Americas?!”
presently the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have placed a barricade on the roads leading into their traditional territories because both levels of government, Canada and Quebec have violated the rule of law in their refusal to not only uphold the honour of the Crown, but in their failure to uphold their own laws like the Constitution Act, 1982, our treaties, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Barriere Lake Algonquins have stated emphatically that the government did not obtain their free, prior and informed consent. Like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, Canada and Quebec pretend that they don’t hear the warnings or that they are above the law and can trample on Onkwehon:we rights because they have their own priorities – supporting their constituents ability to gain employment to the detriment of the well-being of the environment and its Indigenous peoples.
by ignoring the rule of law, domestically, internationally and our laws, Canada and Quebec are provoking an incident where at the end of the day, they will most certainly criminalize the Algonquins and any other Onkwehon:we people, like those opposing the MacKenzie or Enbridge Pipeline or the associated oil companies, the 5 First Nations living around the tar sands whose health deteriorates each passing moment. so who is the terrorist?
Certainly not the Indigenous peoples of this Turtle Island. We should be proud of our heritage, our ancestors and the teachings they fought so hard to leave us.
We like to admire those old photographs of our ancestors pre-Residential School or in Edward Curtis photographs. let’s remember though that those same ancestors were the ones who practiced our traditional forms of governance, kept our traditions and customs alive in spite of the harassment and forms of violence that the colonizers inflicted upon them. Our ancestors fought hard to retain their Indigenous identity, pass on our languages and culture, they fought hard to protect our lands and resources, as well they recognized that we also need to protect the lands for all our relations – the four legged ones, the plants, the medicines, the birds, the waters, amphibians, fish and each other – so that future generations could enjoy and prosper from the land.
I remember several years ago when a national day of action was planned by the AFN. Some became fearful when it was learned that some communities were talking about blockades in every community to protest the development in our traditional territories and the lack of respect for our “Aboriginal and treaty rights”. Fear led to the cancellation by AFN to support the action of country wide barricades for a more “peaceful” approach. Many in the communities felt abandoned and questioned why barricades were considered violent when they were meant to be more symbolic than anything.
As we face a Federal Government who have proven a blatant disrespect for Indigenous peoples collective and individual rights, we must unite to strengthen our struggles to resolve these long standing historical disputes.
It is time we stand with all our Indigenous sisters, brothers and all our relations to take a strong stand to defend our lands, our territories and our resources which include our children, our youth, elders and all our relations.
We can no longer rely on the rhetoric of “sovereignty” but must be ready to implement our rights to self-determination based upon our laws, customs and traditions. As Onkwehon:we we must believe in ourselves that we are nations with the right to protect our peoples, lands and all of creation that resides in them.
Unity is paramount in this fight against Mother Earth and Indigenous peoples collective rights. We must support all of our peoples who are defending the land and educate the government, its authorities and the general population that our goal has always been and remains, peaceful coexistance in the protection of our rights, in our protection for the responsibility of protecting of Mother Earth and all our relations.
I am not against development but it must be sustainable, the way our ancestors taught us it should be. It is time we follow our ancestors in the path they laid out for us to be Onkwehon:we – real human beings, with the will to make the real changes to decolonize ourselves, our relationship with Canada…to make a better life for present and future generations. The time is now, and we are capable of making those changes based upon our own ways, our treaties, our laws, with a good mind.
We are in control of our destiny, it is our right to take control and leave a legacy that future generations can be proud of.
Sken:nen – in peace