Until my involvement with ACTION and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, I have never been to a blockade or to a land reclamation. Does being at a blockade and or reclamation site make a warrior? Does one have to be in an armed conflict, or face to face showdown with the paramilitary to be considered one?
What is a warrior? The Elder that I admire the most, and take direction from the most is a true warrior. He has fought in many battles and wars, both serving the colonial state, and fighting for his Native/Indian people. His name is Japin Asin, or Elder Vern Harper.
He showed me the door to the Red Road of the Anishinabek. It is been him who has been giving me the teachings. He as told me countless times, that the true make up of a warrior is peace. He often says, “A true warrior is a warrior of peace. A warrior will always seek peace before war. It is only when the women and children are being attacked, that us men have to go to war. He also says that warriors have to have a clean and sober mind.
Warriors have to learn to be good and kind to themselves before they can learn to be good and kind to others. And further to that, they have to know how to respect life, before they put themselves in a position where they have to take a life. A true warrior is also about sacrifice, and by sacrifice its not just about laying your body in front of a bullet for others, its about giving up everything you consider “yours” for the benefit of others. Warriors have to give up their comfort and learn that sacrifice is also about servitude. Warriors are servants to the people. When they are not fighting wars, they then become workers. They haul water, they chop wood, they hunt, fish, trap, everything necessary to continue the health of the community.
When I started sobering up for the first time, Elder Vern told me, that I finally made the first steps on becoming a warrior. A person who drinks/drugs, does so for reasons that may involve emotional, psychological trauma, and that the addict/alcoholic uses to escape/run/flee/hide. A true warrior stands up to this challenge, and faces it dead on.
Sobriety to the addict/alcoholic is a battle ground. It isn’t easy. But it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the warrior. And the warrior is absolutely necessary for the survival of the people.
It takes a great amount of humility to live the life of a servant. It takes patience, sacrifice, time, energy, hurt and suffering and above all commitment. But we chose this life going in. We can opt out at anytime, and many people do. I have fallen off my trail on more than one occasion. But I have bounced back. Like an Indian Rubber Ball, we may get up, and bounce back. But eventually that ball comes to a dead stop. Some will never rise again.
Since my involvement with ACTION and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, I have been called a warrior, and I have been criticized for not being warrior enough. I do not proclaim myself to be a warrior. I proclaim myself to be a servant to the people. That is a role and responsibility that I took on, the day that I decided to quit drinking, and has only been further magnified by my involvement with the above mentioned organizations. If you choose to call me a warrior, those are your own words and reflections and not mine.
I am a servant to the people. Alcohol has no business in my life. But if a drunkard ever showed up at my door asking for help, through my failures and recovery I am better prepared to show them exactly what worked and what didn’t work.
This is my morning coffee thought.