by Kai Kai Kons, formerly known as Johnny Hawke
Sitting around our fire at the Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp tending the upkeep of our repossession of our peoples Sacred Gathering Place known as Council Rock, I am inspired, confused and frustrated in this time, day and hour as I try to filtrate through the many words that are being said and “direct actions” in response to an Omnibus Bill directed to extinguish yet again “Our Way of Life” and Treaty Rights. This rant is not an attack at any specific group or person but just a constructive critical reflection that asks a question: What are some real solutions and what happens after the media photo opt marches, protests and meetings are over?
Chiefs waiting on the People, People waiting on the Chiefs
I recently attended a rally held at Queens Park in Toronto where an estimated 300 of our Anishinabek Peoples and supporters gathered for speeches and marched to a Chiefs of Ontario meeting in opposition to the Omnibus Bill that is supposed to extinguish our rights. I went to hand out leaflets on our camp and on ACTION (Anishinabek Confederacy to Invoke our Nationhood) and network with other like-minded relatives.
I love seeing our people gather together and the spirit and energy, I was inspired and enthused to see other people from my community attend, speak and help organize this event. We marched right into the Chiefs of Ontario meeting to tell them to listen to their people and stand up to the Government. What I got out of this event was that our Grassroots People that were making statements at the march and talking to the Chiefs is that “We are waiting on the Chiefs to stand up against the government” and whereas the Chiefs responded in a direct action of their own on Parliament Hill and in letters to the Prime Minister, “It’s the People that will stand up”
In a Letter to the Prime Minister, Union of Ontario Chiefs Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee stated that, “I cannot, nor would I ever attempt to, control or stop First Nation citizens if they ever decide to have their voices heard in a free and democratic society.”
Recently Chiefs stormed Parliament Hill to voice their concerns on this Omnibus Bill where RCMP denied them access and were forced to leave. UOI Grand Council Chief carried in the 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain belt to show our Nation to Nation Relationship that is based on Peace, Coexistence and Non-interference. At this “action” Mahdahbee stated to RCMP when being removed from Parliament Hill “Let’s see how you like it when you come into our territories” which gave the impression that we are going to deny access as they denied access to the Chiefs.
I am curious why the Chiefs are acting now as they knew about this Omnibus Bill earlier this year. In September the Government announced funding cuts to First Nations Political Organizations and I am not specifically saying anything but as I said in previous years, I am not going to jail or willing to die to secure Chiefs salaries. Are they just now capitalizing on the energy of the grassroots people and using our threats as leverage. During the HST rallies and one day side of the highway marches Day of Actions we seemed to be pretty scary to the Canadian economy but one would happen when Chiefs talked tough and our people shut down the highways and railways for a week, a month? Would we see the Chiefs out on the frontline? What after we get what we want? Return to an elected system that is not our own, return to ways that already mimic a municipality? Would we reemerge our clan system?
I have assisted Elders and seen many hunters and fishers who provide for our communities being charged by Provincial Ministry of Resources Officers for offences that breach our Nation to Nation contracts. I have family and friends in Grassy Narrows who set up cabins on their traditional territory being charged for doing so and who kick out industry which destroys their forests, where they are criminalized. I see our relatives being called into court by the Crown for illegal taxation of our people and being charged, I see these people who are going to jail and standing up for our way of life, being denied help and support by these Political Chiefs organizations. Our people ask these Chiefs for help and support for lawyers to help fight in court but are only to be denied. “We only represent in house” their offices say. While us the people who are the Nation they claim to represent to resist colonialism and protect our way of life
These Chiefs accept Land Claim Settlements and policies they accept only further extinguish our rights. Chiefs from the Chippewa Tri Council which my community is a part of accepted a land claim settlement which is in breach of our Nation to Nation contract. I saw in the media the Chief from my community marching up to Parliament. Beausoleil First Nation Chief Roland Monague tried to remove us from our traditional territories, the land claim area and had our tipi removed as earlier this year three of us opted out of this process and “walked” this sovereignty talk. So I question these Indian Act Governement Funded Chiefs.
What Happens after the Marches?
It aint no Omnibus Bill thats going to extinguish our rights…We accept Land Claim $ettlements that Surrender our Title to our Lands, we continue to depend on a Capitalist Consumerist Lifestyle, We continue to use the Indian Act to protect us, use it to elect ourselves like a Mayor Municipality…Most of our people no longer see our lands, languages, ideaologies and way of life practical in this Jersey Shore Generation. Chiefs accepts economic development that destroys our future generations inheritance.
There are communities who are resisting Indian Act Elections reestablishing their Confederacy or Clan Systems as Governance Models. There are individuals and communities denying Selling our Lands and resisting policies such as Specific Claims Policy. There is a movement happening to reestablish our Nation to Nation Agreements, Intertribal Agreements and Alliances and reclaiming our Warrior Spirit and repossessing our lands.
What happens when the marches and protests are over? We want no Indian Act but when the Govenrment is ready to do away with it what are our own solutions? How far are people ready to go to not Surrender and Walk our Talk. I am not picking on any specific person or group but do not let the Revolution become a Facebook Fad or your own Photo-opt, lets reclaim marching is fine but lets walk our talk.
IDLE NO MORE, NO SURRENDER