“As ‘urban indians’, it is a bit harder for us to maintain our culture becuase we are not on the land. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. As an Indian man, I have always sought to be a good man, husband, father, or brother to my family. What does an Indian man do? He is a warrior to protect his family, and he is also a provider for his family. Its harder to maintain our way of life in the city, but we learn to adapt. I go hunting all the time. Loblaw’s is the new hunting ground.” (Elder Vern Harper)
Living in Toronto, does not mean that we have to give up our traditional values or customs. As a the above quote indicates. For those of you who may have heard about ACTION our organization has been comprised mainly of the Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, located in what is known as Awenda Provincial Park. After spending a full year at the camp, it became apparent, that our peoples are not ready to make a large migration back to the land. In fact the opposite is quite true. While some of our people live on the reserves, and have grown accustomed to reseve living, many of us migrate away. A vast majority of our people leave the rural settings of the reserves and traplines, for urban areas such as Toronto. The 75 000 or so people who claim Native status in Toronto alone is a testament to this fact. (I am sometimes one of them).
While many of our peoples migrate to the urban centres, many do not leave the impoverishment of the reserves behind. Many end up in low paying jobs, or social assistance programs, dependant on food-banks, shelters, soup kitchens etc. I personally have been through all of the above, and can attest to waiting outside food-banks countless times. Having seen the donated foods in the food boxes (high carb, high sugar, low nutrients) it no wonder our people have the highest obesity, diabetes, heart/stroke statistic’s amoung all people on Turtle Island.
“We’ve got to really start doing stuff, you know building community gardens, hauling water, chopping wood, whatever they needed done. I said that is what your responsibility is. That is what a warrior’s responsibility is.” (Leonard PeItier quote from “Incident at Oglala”)
As an Anishinbek man, it is my responsibility to be a protector and a provider for the people. Just because I am not always out on the land, it does not exempt me from my duties and responsibilities. Which is why I am spearheading a chapter of ACTION aimed at feeding our people in Toronto. We’ll call it “Serve the People/Feed the People” Our first plan is to start immediately by joining the Good Food Box program established in Toronto.
(The Good Food Box (GFB) is a non-profit fresh fruit and vegetable distribution system created and operated by FoodShare. The GFB runs like a large buying club with centralized buying and coordination. Individuals place orders for boxes with volunteer coordinators in their neighborhood and receive a box brimming with fresh, tasty produce, on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly cycle.)
While most churches and NGO’s aims to subsidize the $13-18 dollar cost, ACTION aims to provide 100% of the cost. We will be hitting the streets, attending rallies, marches, roundances, with clipboards in hand asking for monthly donations from everyone.
The long term goal is to network with the farmers and community gardeners, to get all of our people involved in every aspect of planting, growing, harvesting, delivering, cooking, sharing…etc, just like our people once did. The immediate goal is to feed some of our people now.
We need public support. We have relied heavily on our allies to contribute funds directly over this past year, and we thank them greatly. But those costs mainly go to the operation of Oshkimaadiziig Unity Camp. We are calling out for public support to help ACTION feed the people.
We hope that you can see the need for such an initiative, and would be willing to give a small monthly donation. Our bank at Alterna makes donating quick and easy. One time donations can be made through our Pay Pal account.
Please contact Giibwanisi at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help today.