An outsiders perspective

Thank you Jonathan for inviting everyone to have a voice and be heard.

I am a settler to these lands having been brought here by my parents as a young child. I am as much a victim of the colonial mindset as everyone else born here or abroad and have lived a privileged life by no other virtue of the superficiality of my looks.

School did nothing to develop my spirit and my inner quest and longing to find a true meaning and significance to my existence on this planet. There had to be more to this gift of life than an education pointing to a quest for material comfort and advantage. This has never felt right to me.

As a young man just turned 18, I left home to discover the universe and my place within it. My path took many roads and I have had the greatest good fortune in meeting early on a man of Algonquin family whose grandfather had instructed him in the ways of his people, as had his great great grandfathers before him in a very long line. In his company I was exposed for the first time in my life to blatant racism at the hand of my fellow settlers and marvelled at his quiet composure and gentle but firm handling of these situations — rising above them and not giving in to the anger they tried to provoke in him.

I witnessed old documents that one of his forebears had signed with both sides involved in both sides of the skirmish on the Plains of Abraham, pledging support to both, I heard that his people did not actively participate in the conflict and kept to the side, thus keeping his people from harm no matter the loser or winner. I spent several months at his lodge and learned much. Many many years later I through serendipity arrived in Caledonia with an opportunity to run an art gallery. There I was introduced to a people who were kind and loving in spite of the many reasons they had to be to the contrary.

These were the Haudenosaunee. I have made life long friendships at Six Nations and have come to respect and understand more and more about the deep spirituality and social structure that existed before any interference by colonial expansionists.

That spirit is still alive today.

My ancestors, 400 years ago arriving from Holland made promises together with your ancestors to exist in peace and non interference, in love and brotherhood. Seven generations have gone by since the original Two Row was fashioned and I have deep regrets that this was not honoured by my people. I cannot undo the past, but I can act in the present and I have pledged to do all I can to honour the original agreement and I will teach this and hold it sacred for all the time the Creator grants me.

I have for many years now publicly declared my abandonment of the colonial ship of state and have embarked in my own canoe. It grieves me to see the turmoil today as the intolerable injustices of colonial values are showing their deadly effects on all that gives us life on this planet and is now being addressed by your Confederation of the Tribes of your sovereign Nation. I have great faith and hope and pray that the Great Peace I have come to desire above all else will be restored by your efforts today and that the inclusive and mindful spirit that created it will once more be restored.

I hold hope that your current deliberations and re-connection to your authentic roots and mind will serve as a good model for all the world’s societies to come to understand and emulate as their own. I hope that the outcome of the present moment will birth a wonderful example of the peace your ancient ancestors have so thoughtfully set in place.

With love and prayers
Rene Ariens

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