Renewing the Anishinabek/Haudenosaunee Friendship Belt

The Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp was established when the Coldwater Narrows Specific Land Claim Settlement was pending approval in 2012 by Beausoliel, Rama, Cape Crocker and Georgina Island First Nations communities. With the finalization of this land claim settlement, the nation state of Canada breached the original agreements of the Two Row Wampum, the 1764 Silver Chain Covenant Belt, the 24 Nations Belt, the Beaver Belt, the Dish with One Spoon, and the Anishinabek/Haudenosaunee Friendship Belt. This Specific Land Claim Settlement’s is designed to extinguishe Native (Anishinabek/Onkwehon:we) land title, turns reserve lands into municipalities, and thereby seeks to assure our full assimilation as Canadians.

The Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, founded by Giibwanisi and Kaikaikons, sought to uphold the original agreements/understandings of the aforementioned Treaties. Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp began as an occupation of the Canadian Heritage Museum grounds in Coldwater Ontario in April 2012. In May 2012, after a few unpleasant incidents with police, curators and the board of directors of the museum, and even community leaders opposed to the occupation, Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp eventually relocated to the historical Counsel Rock, otherwise known as Awenda Provincial Park.

These so called solutions Canada has for Indigenous People across Canada serve to undermine our Sovereignty, our Culture, and very fabric of our being.  We are calling out to all the Nations represented in these Belts and other Indigenous and Non-Native Allies to gather at our camp so as to unite and mobilize to be heard as one voice. This camp is not intended to cause friction with our settler friends who live in the area, it is intended to strengthen the relationships expressed by these belts. This camp is not representative of Indian Act Governed Communities but a collective voice of brothers and sisters that seek to work together.

The camp has existed for 18 months now, and it has been wrought with struggle; dealing with government agents like the OPP and the MNR, or facing backlash from the community members involved with the settlement.

Some community members thought that we were trying to get in the way of their money, which was not the case at all. As a result we’ve faced resistance and received very little support. Furthermore we’ve over estimated our experience in taking on such an endeavour as we knew little about sustaining ourselves off the land, especially during harsh winters.

All who opposed us seemed to be waiting to hear the news of our failure, which only cemented our determination to continue. We have had  significant support from local settlers and labour unions which has been really important. We will not be forced off of these lands, for if we continue to surrender our treaty rights, instead of revoking them, I fear the next generation will never know how our ancestors lived with the land, even more so I fear that if we fail, this situation will only pave the way for other communities to be completely assimilated.

Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp invites all Onkwehon:we interested in assisting to revitalize the Anishinabek/Haudenasaunee Friendship Belt. Any contributions are greatly welcomed: whether it be skill sharing, resource donations, monetary, or simply spreading the word about this camp. Currently there are Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, and settler people participating in helping sustain and build the Unity Camp to its greatest potential. If you can, please come join us and revitalize the original agreements our peoples had.

For more information check out, Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp on Facebook, email or call Giibwanisi at 416 806 6929.

By: Giibwanisi

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