It holds the memory and the understanding that has always been on this great island. It is the memory that speaks of a land filled with life and hope. It is the understanding that the Creator guides all life on this island.
There is talk of reconciliation that continues to mark the conversation between the original people and the non-natives who ventured onto this land. Reconciliation is to be the nation-to-nation understanding that governs all talks, policies and legislations going forward into the next 10,000 years.
We are talking about a 10,000-year plus history. We are talking about a history that goes back to every original nation’s origin or creation stories. The original people understand that Canada 150 is meant to acknowledge the last 150 years or more correctly the last 35 years with Canada in the role of the state. However, the land of this great island was entrusted to the original people for all time. Therefore, whether the settler colonizers are here for 35 or 150 or 500 years, the original memory and understanding of the land remains the same.
The original people are many individual nations. They are knowledge keepers, ceremonial and spiritual people. The lessons given from the land to the people are not the same as what mainstream calls education. Education in the mainstream classrooms is based on memorizing facts and the tainted Canadian history of what may be presented as truth.
Running from persecution and religious tyranny, many European nationalities ventured west to make a new life. They included new notions of freedom where societal birthrights were replaced by commercial standing. The settler colonizers came to find freedom but sadly after 500 years that freedom is only defined by settler colonizer thinking.
Prior to settlers washing up on the eastern doors of mother earth, the original people were free. They freely roamed this land, respecting Creator’s plan. The various nations were gifted with languages, ceremonies, and a worldview that looked generations ahead while living a blessed day-to-day existence. This is what the original people know as freedom.
It is the freedom to live in accordance with a greater plan or vision.
It is the freedom to understand that as a people, we are intrinsically linked with the land, the waters, the plants and all animal life.
It is the freedom for all people to live a good life from infancy to old age without poverty, homelessness or hunger.
What has the newcomer brought that has ensured these freedoms? When the first settlers came, they were welcomed and this understanding remains the cornerstone of any reconciliation talks. The land was to be shared. As the original people did not have concepts of land ownership, they were ready to share the bounty of this land that Creator had given for all. It was never the intent of the original people to hurt, take or cause irreparable harms to the newcomers. From the earliest peace and friendship treaties, we see that the original people of this land wanted peace and a way to continue living their way of life. Is that so difficult to understand?
However, the colonizers were intent on harvesting and making the most of this land with riches and wealth that the Indians did not seem to see.
That is incorrect. The original people did see wealth and riches. They saw wealth in the health of their people. They saw richness and happiness in their community’s safekeeping with lodging and all necessary comforts. They saw the animals with a keen eye, listening to the morning prayers of the birds, the gentle talks between water creatures and the hum of all things moving as one system. How is this reconcilable into the Canadian system?
As original people, we have heard the judgmental takes on our lifestyles. We have heard the stereotypes that say our people needed help. As we managed to survive for thousands of years, and indeed, helped the first settlers survive, this seems like a faulty premise to build Canada’s history on.
Instead let us look at the facts. Let us see that our original ways of living allowed for all people to have housing. There was no homelessness.
Living close to the land and with our relatives the animals, our people had food supplies so that the entire village or community was fed. There was no hunger.
The original people took only enough to continue their existence. They did so with deep thankfulness and a spiritual gratitude. There was no poverty.
Our people lived side by side in clans or houses that had highly developed spiritually based activities. All things began with gratitude to the Creator. The spoken word of the people went into the cosmos, so the word had to carry truth. If there was any disagreement all the people discussed and came to practiced responses. There was no incarceration.
Since this land was given to the people, and the gifts for a good life were available, the songs and artwork had great meaning to those who were gifted to record or capture the best of the people. We had an understanding of the role of transgender or gay people in our communities. We were an accepting, loving, healthy people filled with laughter and love. There were no suicides.
Our family units rejoiced in our greatest legacy, our elders and our grandchildren. A fallen warrior or mother lost in childbirth never feared for their families. They were always ready to make a journey to the final encampment because we had systems in place that supported the family with food, housing or childcare. In our languages the relationships are so developed that we readily understand that many sisters are second mothers to children. There was no child welfare or taking of our kids.
It is with this system that Canada wants reconciliation. What has Canada brought to the original people but irreparable harm? Homelessness, hunger, poverty, incarceration, suicides and the taking of children from their strongholds were unknown actions until the settlers appeared. Reconciliation starts with acknowledging this. On July 1, the original people will pray and continue upholding their relationship and responsibilities that go beyond 35, 150 or 500 years.