Indigenous Spirituality is Precious: Faith Leaders Unite

Well dear readers, we’re on again for another peaceful march. Let us walk in unity, as friends and believers of faith who care deeply about the spiritual and physical health of water and of all else which is good and peaceful in our circles. On June 23rd we will walk in the glow and light of all things held sacred by human beings the world over. Together, in solidarity with members of the region’s religious leaders and anyone else who wishes to join us, we will gather on Victoria Island (Booth Street entrance) at 10 a.m. on the morning of the 23rd. At precisely 11 a.m., Indigenous roots intertwined and locked as one with settler roots, shoulder to shoulder, we will march in prayer to the nation’s Parliament Buildings. Together, we will show the world that Indigenous spirituality is real and is as rich with the blessings of Creator as are all the other faiths practised by the citizenry who make up the population of Canada.

Rabbi Bulka said, “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.” Let his words become the sacred chain, strong and unbreakable, which binds us as people of faith. Together, we must let it be known to the people of our communities that an attack on one faith’s sacred site is an attack on all our sacred sites. We all deserve a holy place to feast our dead, to pray for our sick and wounded, and to re-assure those who have lost their way that to have faith can overcome all things destructive to one’s emotional and spiritual health. Please promote this march far and wide!

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

Click here for event on FB. More details soon!

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Contaminated Soil Around Chaudière and Albert Islands

I vaguely recall a Fifth Estate (CBC) exposé (I think back in the 50’s) which related how First Nations workers, hired by a corporation to work with asbestos, became deathly ill a few years later. (Note: only “Indians” were hired). Cancer claimed many of them. I only remember that it was up north, possibly in Cree country. I wish I could remember more details about the show. Regardless, I do have a clear memory of First Nations men finding work in an asbestos-filled work environment here in Algonquin territory.

A First Nations friend called me up about 20 years ago. I was in-between jobs and he invited me to work with him “ridding asbestos” from the post office at the Alta Vista location. “The company prefers to hire Indians,” he told me. “And why is that?” I inquired of him. “The boss says we’re the best workers,” was his gleeful response.

One of my cousins (Nelson Bone) took the job. I did not! My cousin worked there for a bit, I’m not sure how long. Several months, I believe. A fact not in dispute is that my cousin died of brain cancer a few years later. Was the cancer which killed him brought on from the work he did in a contaminated worksite? No one knows for sure! It is indeed a fact that direct contact with asbestos will, over a period of time, cause cancer to take a deadly hold of a human being’s organs. So it is quite possible that Nelson is dead now because he took a job in a contaminated work environment.

It is also a well-known fact that the soil in and around Chaudière and Albert Islands is highly contaminated. Not with asbestos, but poison is poison! It will cost many millions of dollars to clean up the awful mess. The deadly agents soaking the soil on land destined, they say, to become a spectacular place of condos and commerce needs to be totally cleansed of them beforehand. The company (Windmill Developments) who is overseeing the work, I’m told, is hoping Ottawa tax payers will dish out over 60 million dollars (I’m serious) to help cover costs incurred by Windmill for the massive clean-up. Meanwhile, Windmill Developments is hiring Algonquin men to work at “preparing the land for construction.” I would pass on the offer!

Are the men being hired to work there aware of just how severely the land at their future workplace is contaminated? Poisons on the islands have been laying dormant for decades. The deadly contaminants presently filling the soil, will most certainly rise up after being disturbed by heavy machinery and become airborne. The men in and around the poisons will take the stuff into their lungs, day after day, month after month. What toll will the poison take on their health?

An investigation of some kind, some research by professionals, some science on it, whatever, something needs to occur at the site ASAP to guarantee an innocent Algonquin worker will not die years down the road because of him/her working in a contaminated work environment. People who want to better their lot in life with a job shouldn’t have to put their lives on the line to do it. If studies have been done, then let the results be revealed to the public. How is it possible to gauge the harmful effects which might occur to a human being after working with such poisons for extended periods of time? Please spell it out for us.

I know nothing of the deadly contaminants at Chaudière and Albert Islands or how quickly the health of a human being deteriorates after being around the stuff for months on end. All I know is that I will offer prayers for the Algonquins who will go there daily to “prepare the site for construction.” If any Algonquin worker becomes sick from doing the work, I hope his next of kin will be properly compensated by the politicians who are allowing this to happen.

The Islands are sacred. The contaminants in the soil there should be removed slowly. There is no rush. Even if it took several years to do it safely, then let it be so. Let the Islands be returned as a greenspace, a sacred space, a park for all Canadians to go to and wonder at the might of water. A place to stand in harmony with all the Peoples who make up the populations of Canada.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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Akikodjiwan Lives, Now And Forever: A Call To Action

Is the soft, rich earth under our feet sacred? Indeed it is! So too are the circles of the sky, the sun and moon, also the wind our children take into their lungs and the waters which flow before a birthing occurs. All of these things are truly special in the eyes of the eagle.

Weak and unsure of life at the time my sobriety began, I searched aimlessly to find a healing place. At last, I found it where the waters fall over the ancient rock of a small, obscure river. Slowly but surely, the songs sent forth from the water at that sacred place, washed away from my aching spirit, all the filth my severe addiction had placed upon it over those many wasted years of my alcohol-fuelled life.

chutes_chaudieres_3E_0Some people teach us today that sacredness exists in many places, that Akikodjiwan (Chaudière Falls) is not necessary as a place of rejuvenation and healing. They point to places like the one where my sobriety began and say, “Healing occurs there, too.” To me, comparing the small falls where my recovery began to the spiritual grandness of Akikodjiwan is like the comparing of a single needle from the branch of a majestic pine to the wonder and greatness of the entire tree itself. Akikodjiwan stands alone as the one true leader of all healing places in Anishinabe Territory. Let there be no doubt or confusion about it!

If there are Algonquin chiefs who fail to understand this, it would not discourage me all that much. You see, the chiefs are responsible for their own spiritual journeys as I am for mine. The chiefs have no authority to interfere with the right Creator gave me to embrace a spirituality placed on Turtle Island since the time of our creation. No chief, nor politician, nor developer, nor any amount of money can take that right from me nor from anyone else. The right to freedom of religious expression cannot be toyed with. Even Canada’s Constitution protects it. Even the United Nations defends it. The chiefs who would block the Peoples of Turtle Island access to Akikodjiwan need to back off at least until all the voters they represent know full well what is spiritually at stake here.

As emotionally troubling as it is, there are human beings among us who believe that ‘spirit’ is no longer present at Akikodjiwan. (I’m serious.) Driven out they say, by industry and pollution. But the fact is and always will be that the so-called ‘Almighty Dollar’ itself will never possess the strength to chase the spirits of our ancestors from our most sacred site. Only the People can do so by rejecting the fact that we too are entitled to our own spiritual beliefs. When we no longer call out to them (the spirits at Akikodjiwan) during our time of need and when we find ourselves in a time of sorrow, the songs at Akikodjiwan will then only be heard by the animals of the field and by the birds of the sky, soaring over our once perfect homeland. The Almighty Dollar will finally have conquered the People and will rule over us brutally and ruthlessly, and without conscience. Our ways will be lost, existing only as shadows or caricatures of something which had served human beings so well in the past before the arrival of money and technology.

I give fair notice at this time: I intend to initiate a class action lawsuit, ASAP, against the NCC, Catherine McKenna, the Governor General of Canada and Justin Trudeau for their failure to do what is right and for their roles in continuing the genocide of the First Nations Peoples. If Akikodjiwan is further defiled by the erection of condos and by commerce upon it, the people and institutions named above will pay dearly for their part in allowing it to happen. This is my promise!

I call for a peaceful protest march to be organized in the near future, led by the city’s faith leaders. The faith leaders would take their place at the forefront of the protestors to prove their recent claim that “an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.”

If a developer dared to give notice to the rabbi, the imam, the priest or minister, and informed them that their house of worship would be ripped down regardless of their protest and be replaced by condos, I would stand with the faith leaders in their opposition to such an outrage. I would donate time, energy and resources to protect their sacred place. I would do so, boldly and without fear of political repercussions. I expect the faith leaders of Ottawa and of the world to do the same for me. The original People will fight to return the faith and spirituality of our forbearers back again to assist us in our recovery as Anishinabeg nations.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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DreamKEEPERS, Politicians, Chaudière Falls

I want all of you who took the time to send your most welcomed remarks congratulating me for receiving a citation (DreamKEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership) to know how grateful I am that you did so.

A friend of mine told me long ago that a human being could do “a lifetime of good deeds and not receive even one eagle feather for doing so.” Such is the greatness of the respect and honour we have for the Creator’s messenger. The eagle feather should never be given to any person unless an action or actions connected to the promotion of health and well-being for all the goodness placed before us by Creator, lest the feather lose its power and what it symbolizes to us who treasure it as one of our most sacred objects.

The citation I received on January 16, 2017 was a proud moment for me to be sure. You can watch the whole DreamKEEPERS award ceremony at this link to RogersTV. My reception of the citation and speech is at approximately 32:00. I do not know who nominated me nor do I know who the committee members are who voted for me. I only know that I am truly humbled and will keep the moment I received the citation forever close to my heart.

citationIt feels pretty darn awesome to know that good-spirited people are ready to defend our constitutional right to freedom of spiritual expression. Any Canadian not prepared to do so should hide their face in shame. I heard faith leaders speak on Martin Luther King Day about how they united after synagogues, mosques and churches were attacked by vandals who wrote hateful graffiti and painted swastikas on their revered houses of worship. My heart went out to them, for no one knows more than the Indigenous Peoples what it feels like to have the sacred places, where our people have gone to pray since time immemorial, defiled and taken from us as an attempt to rob us of our own ancient spiritual beliefs. I speak now about the Chaudière Falls (Akikodjiwan).

The swastikas which were painted on the houses of worship in this city were removed, doing so did not take long. The physical evidence of hate may be gone from view but all sensible people are well aware that hate is still present and is ever lurking in the shadows. I stand in solidarity with faith leaders dedicated to defending their holy places from any further attacks hate mongers may try to bring upon them. I’ll do whatever I can as an activist to help. But I call on the faith leaders to do likewise for us.

Akikodjiwan, the most sacred site within the boundaries of Algonquin territory appears to be on the verge of destruction at the hands of Windmill Development/DreamCorp. Their claim is that Akikodjiwan is now privately owned. This is not true. Lindsay Lambert has researched it and has found evidence that proves most of our sacred site is still Crown Land (land stolen from the Algonquin Anishinabe at a time when we were rendered helpless through European oppression).

Akikodjiwan behind bars. Photo by Julie Comber.

Akikodjiwan behind bars. Photo by Julie Comber.

A great swastika in the form of the Domtar buildings now defiles our sacred site. The faith leaders, all of them, from one end of Canada to the other, up and around, over and under must stand as one with us. If they are true to the teachings of their holy books then they will demand that the people of their congregations assist us in the removal of the swastika now present at Akikodjiwan. If they are real in their claim of solidarity, then they will call on the politicians to have our sacred place returned to the People. If they do not, they prove to all people that the traditional spirituality of the Indigenous Peoples is worthless and is not recognized by the God who speaks to them through the words of their prophets. I challenge any faith leader to tell me why Akikodjiwan is not worth defending in their eyes.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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DreamKEEPERS Citation

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) said, “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” Where did such inspiration come from? Dreams like MLK’s can only be dreamed by men and women who know what it feels like to be persecuted and oppressed, to live in extreme poverty and to have known the agony of seeing their fellow man hanging from the branch of a tree, only for being black.

MLK dared to tell the world of his dream, a “promised land” where bigotry and racism did not exist. And it cost him his life. His beautiful dream was looked upon as a nightmare to people with hate-filled hearts. One of them was prepared to load a rifle and use it in the hopes of stopping the dream from materializing.

I believe MLK’s dream speaks of the love he had for all the people of the US of A. He loved each and all of them, regardless of the colour of their skin or their cultural background. All were clearly visible to him in his dream. It was this powerful love he had for human beings which created the words of his grand oratory at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Today the love we have for freedom, for justice and for valour all grew mightier and filled the nooks and crevices in all corners of our hearts with pride and with a refreshed and re-invigorated devotion to peace because of the fact that MLK lived and because of the way he died.

MLK was an extraordinary man. His message left his heart, passed through his lips and flew over his audience like a beautiful songbird who let fall from its wings words which directed the people who heard them to rally in peaceful protest.

receiving plaque 16Jan12017I admire MLK and was so very humbled today to accept the DreamKEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership. Activists like me do not say that we stand in MLK’s shadow. We are not worthy to do so. The same ballpark? Maybe. I will strive to be more like him though. You can bet on that.

I have my own dream. It is not as mighty as that of MLK. My dream cries to the people of Ottawa to open their eyes to the fact that Creator does not see the colour of our skins but sees only the beauty of our spirits. I too believe in equality. I am fully 100% aware that equality will never be realized until the day arrives where white people harbouring superiority complexes are not allowed anywhere near our justice system, nor in classrooms where children learn. How foolish does a person appear before God who believes that having white skin will make him/her a better police officer, jail guard, parole board member, judge, teacher, etc. than someone else whose skin is of a darker shade than theirs.

I am certain that there will be continuing hardship and more grief for the impoverished and for the working poor of our villages, towns and cities until such a day where politicians no longer allow themselves to be the puppets or the lapdogs of the rich and powerful of the land’s Ivory Towers. There will never be equality until all communities, minority and white folk alike, rise as one and say “no more, enough is enough”.

I said today that if politicians (municipal, provincial and federal) vote to destroy the Chaudière Falls site (Akikodjiwan) by endorsing development of them (Zibi condos), it would tell me that gatherings such as the one today honouring MLK are not real. A day like the one today would be nothing more than a veneer of brittle scales made of pretty lies and clumps of hair from the coat of the beast of greed. Neither MLK nor Jesus Christ would endorse the destruction of a sacred place created so a wounded people could heal.

Were any politicians listening? Time will tell.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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Black Direction House Concert

What a wonderful and memorable evening (January 7, 2017) was had by all who attended the Black Direction House Concert held in La Pêche at the home of Bettina and Andrew Johnston. Our hosts graciously welcomed many good people made up of activists, environmentalists, friends and visionaries to a moment in time where an audience allowed their hearts and spirits to melt into the songs sang for them by Phil Jenkins and Tito Medina. Our time together began with a smudging ritual and ended with a prayer. The highlight for me (I can’t help it) was when Phil surprised me, and I assume everyone else, with him singing a song featuring the words of my poem “When the cedar is gone.” The words are as follows and can be found in my book “Of Trees and their Wisdom”:

When the cedar is gone
Who then, will speak of our spirituality
When the oak is gone
Who then, will speak of our strength
When the maple is gone
Who then, will speak of our generosity
When the birch is gone
Who then, will speak of our creativity
When the pine is gone
Who then, will speak of our legends

Thank you, Phil! Thank you, Tito! Thank you my new friends, Bettina and Andrew. And it was so nice to see Benjamin Ramirez Arancibia (and hear him drum the Unity Song!) and Luc-Anne Salm again. God bless all of you and let’s rock this country in 2017.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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J.B., The Cat Who Thinks He’s A Dog

A friend of mine lives in an old farm house on the outskirts of the city. A cat (I’m almost 100% certain it’s a cat) lives with him. The cat’s fur is the colour of a freshly shined black shoe, the hair, growing only long enough to keep him warm on those long, frosty winter nights. The cat’s name is Jack Black, better known far and wide as J.B.

J.B. is no regular run-of-the-mill cat. Reason being, J.B. thinks he’s a dog. Like a friendly dog, he excitedly greets visitors at the door. He jumps up and down, runs in circles, all that nonsense! And one of his favourite things to do is to rest his head on a human being’s foot. If you whistle, J.B. will come running. “Ya got a treat for me?” he seems to be saying. He’s quite the critter! Visitors to my friend’s house often remark, “Hey man, your cat thinks he’s a dog.”

Although J.B. (the cat?) often carries on like a dog, he gives himself away as a cat when an obliging visitor rubs his belly. J.B. loudly purrs away, totally lost in ecstasy, to the point that the walls of my friend’s kitchen vibrate in response to the sheer power of the purring’s rhythmic eloquence. He gives himself away as a cat, too, when he presses his arched frame up against a welcomed visitor’s leg (I’ve never seen a dog do that). It’s at times like these that some people say, “Hey man, your dog thinks he’s a cat.”

Because he has so many traits usually reserved for canines, there are some people who truly believe J.B. is a dog. “If he has even 1 drop of dog blood,” said one person, “then that’s good enough for me. He is in fact a DOG!!!”

A dog? A dog you say? He doesn’t look like a poodle nor a hound. He doesn’t resemble Lassie nor Rin Tin Tin in any way, shape or form. Fetching? Forget it! J.B. retrieves neither stick nor ball nor frisbee for no man.

jb-the-catOne day a visitor brought two dogs with him to the farm house. The dogs were curious, you know how dogs are and what dogs do! It was for this exact reason that the dogs were called in. The visiting dogs gave J.B. the ol’ sniff test. It was hoped their findings would prove at long last, one way or the other, whether or not J.B. was a dog. If nothing else, a dog knows what another dog smells like! Well sir, the dogs each took their turns with gusto, eagerly pressing their large wet noses under J.B.’s elevated long tail. One of the dogs snorted and sneezed after doing so. It was as if the many years of sniffing out the truth had finally caused a foreign irritant to wedge itself into one (or both) of his nostrils. I felt sorry for the dog, but what the hay, nobody was forcing him to do it. We, the folks gathered there hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery, were beside ourselves with the suspense of it all. The results of the smell test weren’t long in coming. The conclusion, J.B. is not a dog. He is a cat! The sniff test proved it!

You’d think that this silly controversy would have been laid to rest right then and there, but no, there are still some people who believe that J.B. is a dog. “If he has only one drop of dog blood in his veins …”

Some folks are convinced that J.B. is a cat, others are not. What do you think? Let me know. Meow!

UPDATE, UPDATE!

I’ve just been informed that J.B. (the cat?) has begun to write a novel titled “The Dog”. It tells the heart-wrenching story of a proud sleigh dog, the alpha, overcoming attempts at mutiny, the merciless elements of the north of 60 landscape and the cruelty of the desperate man leading the team of dogs into frozen tundra in his lust for gold.

Turns out that J.B. is a hell of a writer. Watch for the release of “The Dog” sometime in 2017. Accolades and awards are expected. J.B.’s next book “Wooff, I Have Spoken” is scheduled for release in 2018. I can hardly wait!!

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

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New Year’s Eve On Parliament Hill 2016-2017

A special moment occurred for me New Year’s Eve on Parliament Hill. I held a torch, along with The Right Honourable Melanie Joly, Canada’s Heritage Minister. His Excellency, The Right Honourable David Johnston and his darling wife held a second pole with a flame burning at its end. We extended the torches slowly and carefully towards the bubbling oil of the Hill’s Centennial Cauldron and as one, reignited it to honour Canada’s 150th birthday. I look at this event as a grand statement of proof that Canada is serious about establishing a new relationship with this land’s original inhabitants. A proud moment for me to be sure. (Check out the CBC video, below, to see this moment.)

My oldest granddaughter is 16 years old now, the age I was when Canada celebrated her 100th birthday. Times were sure different in 1967. Many politicians, the hate mongers, and, it seemed to me, the community at large, had succeeded, through the promotion of hate literature and outright lies, into making some of the First Nations Peoples feel shame. Shame about the special blood flowing like a mighty river through the vessels of their hearts. Children were still being horribly abused in Residential Schools. The 60’s Scoop was in high gear. Our identity as a unique people was being crushed. Our very souls were being grotesquely violated.

But it wasn’t all bad. The big grandfather drum was back in the Ottawa Valley. Brought here by our young people who had gone south and joined the American Indian Movement (AIM). The pulse of pride began to pound in the hearts of those of us who weren’t afraid to renounce religion in favour of our own ancient spirituality. The “Return of the Red Man is at hand” some magazine articles stated!

So Canada is 150 years old. Do I celebrate it? Not me! I’ll celebrate Canada when I begin to see evidence of promises being kept. Are you listening, Prime Minister Trudeau? It was good to be on the Hill. It’s a start.

I hope I represented my family with the dignity and pride deserving of them while I was on the Hill. A new year has begun (according to the calendar). The year for me begins with the Sugar Moon, the first moon of spring climbing the sky. “Wake up, wake up,” she sings to the earth. “Welcome back,” she cries to the song birds. “Let the sap flow,” she urges the maples on. Life stirs, my heart swells, I hold my grandchildren close and promise them that I will do all I can to be their great guide and confidant. I walk barefoot on the earth. I feel the medicines of the land being absorbed into the pores of my feet. I sing my honour song in acknowledgement of Creator giving me the heart of a human being.

Let us together, stand as one nation and do all possible to bring about peace and harmony to all people, wherever they are and whatever their roots of origin might be. The dead fish on the Nova Scotia shoreline call to us to do it.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

 

 

CBC video of New Year’s Eve On Parliament Hill 2016-2017
I took part at around one hour and eight minutes in.

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My Feelings on Joseph Boyden

Twenty-five summers ago at Lebreton Flats, I stood in circle with 70 good people at 5:15 a.m. to welcome the rising sun with offerings of heartberries and tobacco. At least 35 of the sunrise ceremony’s participants were white folk. This impressed me immensely. I thought, the white people are coming on board, they’re turning on to our spirituality. How nice is that! When I mentioned the ceremony a few days later to an elder I have great respect for, he said, “The white man will never be happy to just take his place in our circle. He won’t be happy until he is running them. Mark my words.” I look around today and I think, yeah, there was something to what the old man said. Pirates, liars and cons are ruthlessly pillaging programs put in place to assist those of us whose lives were knocked off balance by the great wrongs of the past i.e. Residential Schools, 60’s Scoop, destructive propaganda geared to promote hatred against us, etc., etc.

I worked in the Ontario prison system for 3 years (2010-2013), all of them in a maximum-security jail notorious for its many violent outbreaks. After being there for 1 1/2 years, Quebec Corrections contacted me and asked that I check out a low-medium security prison in the Laurentians to see if they might be able to convince me to transfer there from Ontario. The Quebec prison had a Pathways program which often means early parole for any inmates fortunate enough to be selected for one of the ten positions made available to them in the program. The Pathways was put in place for Indigenous offenders. A great initiative to be sure. Such programs exist so that our people serving time will not have to be incarcerated any longer than necessary. What I saw at the Quebec prison, however, was that all the ten Pathways spots were made up of men who had self-identified as “Indian”. All of them appeared to me to be white men. The status (full-bloods) of the prison were on the outside looking in at a program meant for them. The Status Indians were bitter about it and complained to me also about the disrespect the “white guys” had for the drum and the healing songs. “If we express any anger, however slight, at the white guys for mocking the drum the way they do, we can expect a week in the hole for it,” is what they told me. I wrote letters to Quebec Corrections but didn’t receive any response to the demand I made for an explanation. I worked only 8 days in the Laurentians and left extremely frustrated at what I witnessed there. The maximum-security prison, though brutal, at least kept the lines of communication open.

Joseph BoydenAll of us know that jobs specifically posted at worksites for our people are being stolen all the time by applicants who self-ID. They (the job thieves) check off the “Are you Aboriginal” box and rob an individual, family, a community from benefitting. Their selfish, greedy act is often responsible for some of our people being on the welfare rolls. In the arts, our voices, those of the “Status Indians” are often pushed aside so that the voice of a self-ID artist can be heard. It has reached epidemic proportions. Believe it or not, there is a growing number of people (self-ID) who are promoting themselves as our “elders”. When will it all end? How will this nonsense impact the emotional and spiritual health of our young people? I shudder to think about it!

My grandfather was Samson Commonda. He took the name Dumont long before I was born. Samson and my grandmother Therese were Algonquin Anishinabe. Their marriage resulted in my Dad being born. My Mother’s mom was a non-status full-blood Algonquin, her husband a Métis who could have easily passed for a full-blood. The blood of my heart is mostly that of the red people. I do not claim to be better or more important than anyone having less blood quorum than I but I honour and respect the full-bloods far more than I do myself or the other mixed bloods around me. Do they not deserve it? Are they not the ones who suffered more outrages by far than any of the rest of us? Are they not the ones that the hate-mongers zero in on? If I have European blood in my veins, does it mean I can self-ID as a white man? The white man of my time would never have accepted me as one of them. This I know with all certainty.

The people with that sweet and gentle bloodline, still untouched by that which arrived here from afar, are special to me. My eyes delight in the art they produce with beads, hide and porcupine quills. The way they fill a canvas with scenes only the minds, hearts and spirits of they of special blood can possibly produce. What mixed-blood or self-ID Indian could have created what Norval Morrisseau did? Our full-blood Indigenous writers and playwrights are in a league of their own. They are the best of the best so far as I’m concerned! Buffy Sainte-Marie is beautiful, unique and a graceful earth shaker, not because she is a First Nations singer and songwriter, she is what she is because the blood of her heart is 100% of the land. Only a full-blood has any chance of replacing her someday! If ever she can be.

The spiritual DNA of the land is more profound in those of us fortunate enough to carry blood, pure and sweet and here since our creation story began. I for one want to hear them. Their voices are more important to me than those of the people who self-ID. Am I wrong to feel this way? Should we not do all we can to promote the artist with that ancient blood so that the world can hear, see and benefit from an authentic voice coming from the land?

If Joseph Boyden really does have Indigenous blood in his veins, then I stand with him and will protect him from those who would work to destroy him. If Joseph Boyden does NOT have the blood of the land in his heart and only said so to spell success for himself, then I would regard him as being nothing more than a pirate, a liar and a con. A wise woman said recently in regards to those people who self-ID as being Indigenous: “It’s not who you claim to be which is important. It is whether or not a community claims you.”

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind

Note: Click here for the APTN article on this subject.

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Asinabka: A Compromise

At the beginning of the night, through the loft window of my cabin I saw them, three women dancing, illuminated by Kokomis’ lantern. How gently their skirts swayed, as if pushed forward by the swelling and deflating lungs of a hibernating four-legged. Such was the softness of the caress they gave to the earth with their moccasined feet. I watched the dancers until my eyes gave in to peaceful sleep. In the morning I awakened before dawn. The women were there yet, near the old yellow birch tree, dancing, paying homage to the generosity of the forest and to the healing ways of the land. Soon, light came from the eastern sky and with it came a signal that the dance, the beautiful prayer, was complete. The women ceased to move. They had danced ‘till dawn and now they could rest. With the light of day filling the forest, they disappeared.

I was gifted that hot sultry night years ago to see, through a window of modern making and with physical eyes, the spirits of women who lived long ago. The dancers too, have a window out of which they can peer at us in the physical realm, to observe our noble actions and deeds and yes, even the wrongs we do. My fear is that the window our ancestors look through to see us is fogging over. Technology and the great force of money rises like the debris of a violent storm from our world to obstruct their view of us. Colour is no longer seen by them, song no longer heard. As we step into the future, the pollution we leave behind stains the window from which all our relations strain to see us. Are we lost? I feel we are close to it.

Lebreton Flats too, is sacred land to us.

The Anishinabe, each and all, once looked to Asinabka with as equal respect and spiritual reverence as Pope Francis of the Catholic church today looks upon the altar of the Vatican’s greatest house of worship. The Falls of our grand river (Ottawa River) were truly seen by the People as an altar touched by the goodness of Kichi Manido, the Great Spirit.

Prayer Ribbons on Victoria Island (Asinabka)The Falls are sacred but so, too, is the area known today as Lebreton Flats. The Flats were a place where visitors from far away nations encamped themselves when visiting Asinabka and where many rituals and ceremonies of high spiritual significance occurred. We, the Peoples of great Turtle Island, must stand together to oppose development of Lebreton Flats and do whatever is necessary to stop the raping of yet another sacred site. Let us call in whoever it is who will inspire us and guide us on the next course of action we will take to assure development of Lebreton Flats will not happen. It is our hope to remain peaceful in our protests but where do we draw the line?

As always, I only speak for myself, but I say here and now that I will only accept the development of Lebreton Flats if Asinabka is left alone! Let the Algonquin contractors who hoped to prosper from work at Asinabka be awarded opportunities to succeed in business at Lebreton Flats. The Algonquin construction companies must be given jobs and training at the ‘Flats’ site. I would respect this compromise and stand with them in their demands for jobs and training. It is a simple solution. Develop Lebreton Flats and grant contracts to our people while doing so but leave Asinabka alone.

Remember June 17! If you cannot make it to the ‘It Is Sacred’ walk, then please send someone, a friend or family member in your place. Be there! We need you to be there!

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind
What you can do to help protect our sacred Asinabka site:
-> Read, act upon, and share this call for support from Four Algonquin Communities: http://bit.ly/1RJB5d2
-> Be there for the Ceremony and Sacred Walk lead by Grandmothers on 17 June: http://www.itissacred.ca/

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