Over the past few decades, I have witnessed several kinds of activist’ movements that inspired me to become the advocate I am today. As a child I watched in awe Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights movement in the US and then as a youth, the American Indian Movement. When I came to understand what these meant, I took an interest in educating myself of the many efforts of our Onkwehón:we ancestors whose strength and perseverance, inspires our resistance today.
Why do we have to continue to resist? Why do we have to continue to endure the institutionalized racism that plagued our ancestors? The issue is complex but at the heart of the issues are the archaic Papal Bulls and Doctrine of Discovery that gave European explorers the “rights” to claim lands that were not occupied by Christians: it meant that no one lived there because non-Christians were not human beings according to the Church at that time.
These legal fictions are what Canada and the USA base their sovereignty on and is the foundation of the chaos we as Indigenous peoples are experiencing today. Private property law is based upon the Doctrine of Discovery!
The “Oka Crisis of 1990″ which is really the Siege of Kanehsatà:ke 1990, is rooted in archaic colonial laws, the Indian Act. 22 and half years later, we find ourselves in the same situation as we witness more and more of our traditional lands being appropriated for condo developments and see our traditional settlement, being taken over by Oka Park and its beach.
the Longhouse is not allowed to participate in any decision making process pertaining to our lands and resources. We are invited as individuals only. Our community’s divisions perpetuate the situation that created the “Crisis of 1990″ and allows the government of Canada to steal more lands and resources because we focus on ourselves, not the real enemy.
Idle No More, organized by Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, inspired by a small humble Cree woman Chief Theresa Spence; it has motivated Onkwehónwe/First Nations/Indigenous/Aboriginal peoples around Mother Earth to say “No More” to the oppressive relationship we have with Colonizing governments.
the Fact that the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper has ignored requests by Chief Spence to meet or even to commit to a meeting, is disturbing and bordering on the sadistic. The feigned concern by PM Harper and Minister Duncan about “setting a precedent” by “giving in” to this type of advocacy is selfish, sadistic and sickening. As Elijah Harper mentioned during the “Oka Crisis 1990″, it is We (Onkwehón:we peoples) who have been accommodating Canada for over 100 years”.
It is Onkwehón:we who have been inconvenienced for centuries. it is Onkwehón:we who have had our leaders treated like common criminals when they were only honouring their customary laws in defending the peoples’ rights to our lands and territories.
CHIEF SPENCE is not asking for much in my opinion, she is only asking to be heard on terms that restore a balanced relationship of nation to nation that has been scorned, undermined and attacked since the creation of the Indian Act. When I hear her speak, I do not hear any disrespect, nor anger, only hope that someone in Government will do their job and duty for their people in respecting the treaties and Honouring the Crown as required by their laws. As the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has stated in numerous decisions; that in its (Canada) dealings with Aboriginal peoples, the Honour of the Crown is always at stake.
If Mr Harper is unfamiliar with this or unwilling to uphold the Honour of the Crown, then I agree with Chief Spence that he should step aside and let someone else who is willing, to take his place.
I have been impressed by the Idle No More movement and the peaceful “Flash Mob round dances”. It is one of the most non-offensive and gentle ways to educate Canadians who absolutely need a lesson in history and what the Laws really state about our Relationship with them.
the issues that IDLE NO MORE touch are complex and require education and time. They also require openness, honesty, fairness and a deep understanding of what is needed to go forward. The challenge we have as Onkwehón:we is to demonstrate that sincere Reconciliation is an investment in Peace & Hope that ALL our children’s futures will be better than what past and present generations have experienced.
Bill C-45 is only one example of many in the myriad of legislation that has eroded Indigenous peoples’ rights for over a century. Bill C-45 is built upon arrogant lies that gives the Government of Canada assumed sovereignty over our peoples, lands and resources. It is an example that not only are Indigenous peoples in Canada in jeopardy, but all of Canada is because it protects only 1% of rivers and lakes from development; caters to corporations profits; cuts veterans benefits; employment insurance time; fast tracks environmental assessments amongst many other issues. It is in essence the Harper Government’s statement to the world “come invest in Canada’s resources”, Bill C-45 allows the “exploitation of Indigenous peoples lands and resources; Canada has the policing authorities, military, human and financial resources to try and squash any resistance”
Canada under Harper has deteriorated through; trade agreements with countries who are know human rights abusers; it allows for the importation of foreign workers to replace the many Canadians who need jobs; Mr. Harper has gotten very good at ignoring the rule of Law both domestically and internationally, through his Spin Doctors, but I think most people can see through the lies.
To activists of Idle No More, take a lesson from Kanehsatà:ke (OKA) as back in 1990, Mulroney criminalized those of us who stood up for the protection of our lands and called us terrorists, he stated many times “I want to talk with the moderates”. His government came in and paid our own people to work against us. 22 and half years later, we have more challenges in protecting our lands that are presently being gobbled up by development facilitated by Bill S-24-The “Kanesatake Land Management Act” that passed by 2 votes, excluding the protests and opposition by the numerous Longhouse people.
It will be a challenge to maintain this movement of IDLE NO MORE as the institutionalized racism and barriers that have dispossessed Indigenous peoples’ from their lands and territories for over a 100 yrs, will not go away over night. IDLE NO MORE will require patience, an investment of time and energy to achieve the respect and protection of our collective inherent rights. Justice for our peoples who have been waiting for hundreds of years, will not happen over night, but we must be certain to maintain peaceful protests and the Flash Mobs round dances.
In the mean time, Please do the following: Urge your local MP to call upon PM Harper to meet with Chief Spence, and or: write Queen Elizabeth II to call upon her Crown Representative to meet with Chief Theresa Spence, or as she could do, replace her representative with one who will uphold her Crown’s honour and end Theresa Spence’s Hunger Strike.
I am honoured and proud to support and to know Chief Theresa Spence, my thoughts and prayers go out to her and her team, each passing day. May the wisdom and love of our ancestors be with her and all those of Idle No More.
Skén:nen – in peace