This last month has been for me one of the most hectic and incredible times in my life. I have been blessed to be able to stand as witness as indigenous people across the occupied lands of Canada have started to awaken and stretch, galvanized into action.
The first week of December I was in the wintry centre of the nation, Winnipeg, and had the honour and blessings of receiving some very good teachings from the APTN elders, Jules and Margaret Lavallee. They talked about the Seven Sacred Teaching of the Pipe and the Seven Natural Healing Ways. Both of these things I needed, having always known them but hearing them from the Ojibwe elders reactivated something deep inside my core. They talked at length about things that I needed to hear, having been wallowing in the despair of Jewel’s suicide, subsequent tragedies on my Rez, all of my health issues, and feeling completely hopeless watching the casual racism and arrogant erasure that I see every day in Canadian culture.
And then this entire season with the birth of the #IdleNoMore movement… My spirit has been revitalized, and I actually feel the strength of joyous possibility for the first time than in – well, suffice to say I can’t remember the last time. I first marched on Monday December 17 with the small gathering in Toronto, but watching the pictures on Twitter and Facebook and APTN filled me with the dawning excitement that something huge was happening.
We are rising.
And for once it's not the Haudenosaunee on our own, having to take to blockades to defend the onslaught of development without consent in our own territories. No -- this is going even further and spreading like wildfire across the back of Turtle Island. It is growing beyond even this hemisphere and has caught fire with indigenous peoples around the globe. My heart sang when I saw the messages of support from the Zapatistas, the Maori of Aotearoa, the Saami, the United Aboriginals of Australia. Every day actions and stories and words of support pour into my Twitter feed. It is astonishing, and wonderful, and so damn amazing, I feel privileged to be here to witness it.
The backlash has been hard to take. I must say it has shocked me, the depth of rancour and nastiness and sheer blunt angry ignorance. This is the ugliness of racism of people who are trying to maintain their privilege on our backs. But my people -- holy Creator they have been incredible. Strong, resilient, smart and funny -- the amount of laughter I've had, laughing out loud at some of the hilarious Tweets I read, the funny comments, the brilliant jesting. They refuse to back down. They aren't getting mad, they're laughing. Laughing at the settlers!! Inviting them in, saying, Oh come on, join us! Dance with us! This is the way it's supposed to be, on our land.
O Canada, you will have to change. It is inevitable. You cannot run from your colonial past. It is catching up to you. There is a generation walking among you who have come of age, the first to not be torn from their homes and thrown into a residential school. They are tired of the lateral violence, of the racist Indian Act that throttles and controls every aspect of life on the Rez, they are tired of watching scraps thrown at us while the settlers feast on the riches of our land. They have bested the odds of graduating high school, have gone to university, have educated themselves. They will not stand Idle and watch corporations strip our lands of all their resources. They know how to resist, they know how to argue, they know the legal twists and turns, they will not back down.
O Canada, your home is on native land. How will you honour this fact?