Gratitude for all things Six Nations in 2018

The future of leadership on Six Nations is an exciting thought. Times are changing and First Nations across the province are catching up in technology and infrastructure bridging the gap for youth and young adults. And it is encouraging to know that, as messed up as the colonial system is, our political leaders and elected officials have been doing work to help level the playing field for the faces yet to come.

That’s not to say the elected system, AFN or the provincial and federal governments are infallible. Everyone remembers the dreaded and doom-laden journey of the incinerator that was not an incinerator and the money invested and lost in that project.

But it is important to acknowledge the positive work that has been done by those agencies to help correct historical and halt systemic wrongdoings. And the work that has been done in the last 10 years or so — by community members who work for local agencies to make Six Nations a better place. You can almost never go wrong by saying, thank you.

For example, let’s take a moment to publicly acknowledge the work of Elected Chief Ava Hill last year that resulted in the delivery charges being removed from on-reserve residents Hydro One bills. That was, and is, a big deal for several families across the province. It might not be a dramatic political change but it is something substantial that saw several people’s Hydro bills cut in half. For that — Hill deserves a thank you.

And the work of the people on Six Nations who have been forging a new path forward in terms of social service delivery — swapping out the Children’s Aid Society work on reserve and building an all indigenous child welfare agency from the ground up so that our own are taking care of our own. Our children in conflict and families in crisis will be helped with culturally efficient care. Thank you to those people developing policies to build that agency so we are not subject to Canada’s standard but can follow our own path there.

Remember all of the workers in healthcare on Six Nations. The midwives who deliver our babies, the nurses and doctors who care for us, the life-saving dialysis unit, our nursing home workers and drug and alcohol counsellors. Those people who studied and laboured to help our people cope with addictions, trauma and struggling through the Canadian Justice System. Your work is important and we would not be the great community we are without all you do.

For the educators, teacher’s assistants, language speakers, education counsellors, funding officers in our elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. For our daycare workers and home care providers. For nannies and grammas and everyone else who pours themselves into working for the safety, wellbeing and future of our children — thank you.

And we can never forget all the men and women of Six Nations who work around the clock to plow and salt the roads, fill in the potholes, fix the stoplights, dig wells, deliver water, pump gas, fix our cars and keep us safe on the roads. We need you. We appreciate you.

How far can we go in our gratitude for the people? To the ladies doing hair in their basements, to the cousins making regalia and doing beadwork every day, to the artists making a statement about our world, to the singers and songwriters and bass players and drummers. To our dancers and athletes. To our academics and farmers. To the cousins who make us laugh so hard tears come streaming out our eyes and our sides hurt. This community would not be the same without you.

For your talents. For your heritage. For your stories. Thank you Six Nations. Thank you people of the Six Nations of the Grand River. To all you Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga and Tuscarora. And to all the adopted cousins, moms, brothers, sisters, daddies and grandparents. Thank you for making our beautiful community one of great diversity of thought, vision and history.

Six Nations is an incredible place to call home — filled with incredible people to call family.

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