Anglican Apology: For Spiritual Harm the Church caused the Indigenous Peoples

“Our purpose as human beings,” I was told years ago by an old man of Cree ancestry, “is not to try to understand who or what Creator is, but rather, it is to heap daily praise on the abundance Creator placed before us, helping human beings to live well.” The old man I speak of possessed a rich and extraordinary type of wisdom, born at a time long ago before human beings even took their first steps on Mother Earth. I can honestly say that I have not come across such a strong-willed and spirited individual very often in all my 68 years of life. His spiritual beliefs were profound and beautiful. They were strong in the way of healing.

I sat with him as often as possible and heard his forlorn reflections on the wrongs people of this wasteful world are guilty of. “We all should make an effort to make the world better for our children” are words he spoke each day of his life. “We are all guilty of wastefulness,” he told me once, “and we’ll never overcome it without spiritual assistance.” Never in all my counsels with him, did I hear the old man mention the word “sin.”

Who defines what a sin is? By what means does Creator measure the weight of a sin? The Indigenous Peoples of this land who embrace the spiritual beliefs given to them by Creator many thousands of years ago, know very well that it is the waters, trees, animals, fish and birds on whose backs many of the sins committed by human beings are placed upon. What we abused and destroyed of Creator’s making is assured a say on what will become of us on the Day of Reckoning. The bird or plant who became extinct because of our actions, the animal who endured a long and agonizing death while in the merciless grip of a leg-hold trap, the once pure waters of an underground spring now filled with poisons, these things will have their chance to finally be heard. What will they say about us to Creator? When we do wrongs or commit “sins” against the noble and magnificent things of our lands, we need to accept that we will face severe consequences for doing so at some point in the future. Our souls will not escape justice. Of this I am certain!

Smudge_Photo-credit-Julie-Comber_22July2019The Indigenous spiritual beliefs of the Anishinabe (First Peoples) never hurt anyone! Yet, many generations of Christians were told by their faith leaders that Indigenous spiritual beliefs were like a dark and threatening cloud pushed furiously forward and locked into the minds of savages by the scalding breath of the “devil.” Because of this and because of Canada’s Christian foundation, Indigenous Spirituality was outlawed until into the 1950’s. To me at least, a monstrous sin was committed by Canada for making it a crime to sing a beautiful song to Creator with the help of a drum or rattle.

But at long last, a church has seen fit to apologize to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples for the spiritual harm the actions and deeds of the church brought to Indigenous spirituality. Many segments of Christian religions are guilty but only the Anglicans have so far admitted that their condemnation of Indigenous spirituality was wrong. The Anglicans are brave and I believe, righteous. They are ahead of their time! I have a relationship of mutual respect going on presently, with the Anglicans. It is one of trust, peace and friendship and also, one of real reconciliation. I am extremely proud of the friendship I have with them. Thank God for the Anglican Church!

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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Verna Polson, Grand Chief Extraordinaire

There are many reasons why a woman like Verna Polson was elected by Algonquin leaders to be the Grand Chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation. Verna possesses all the major characteristics which define the perfect Chief. She is strong willed, strong in spirit, dedicated, determined and yes, most of all, truly honourable. Whatever the reasons were that motivated Verna Polson to take the stand she did (living on a City of Ottawa sidewalk in a wigwam for 13 days, the last 40 hours of which she went without food and water) have increased now by 10%, no, 20%, no, 100%.

Verna Polson is a greater Chief today because of the hardships she experienced on a noisy sidewalk in Canada’s capital city. If Verna was regarded as a grassroots Chief before she sacrificed so much, then the Anishinabe say, she is more so now, even to a degree which cannot be measured on the scale the human heart places onto all of us. The People respect her and admire her. She is a hero!

The miseries which fell on her over the 13 days at her wigwam protest are now behind her. The little birchbark lodge she lived in is a grander and more eloquent symbol of kindness, peace, love and solidarity with all life than the Parliament Buildings across the street from it ever will be. The Algonquin Nation is no longer invisible. The passenger seat is no longer a place we will settle for. From now on we take the driver’s seat. Thank you, Verna Polson.

Many were present, grassroots and leaders of all stripes alike, proudly in a circle created to honour our Grand Chief. All spoke eloquently and compassionately, reassuring Verna Polson that they have her back. We are unsure of how successful the Grand Chief’s protest was, time will tell. We are very sure, however, that the light, spirit and energy of the fire Grand Chief Verna Polson ignited on the sidewalk at 100 Wellington Street will grow in size. It will in time, brightly illuminate the pathways the Algonquins of the future will walk on, taking them once again to that place of greatness we knew long ago, when our wigwams and long houses filled all the rich places of our grand territory.

Verna Polson has reminded us that our People do not back up. We will do what needs to be done for our future generations. May Creator bless her and keep her well.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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Announcement: Grand Chief Polson Hunger Strike

Grand Chief Verna Polson has just announced that beginning at midnight on July 1, 2019, she will eat no food nor drink water until Algonquin Nation rights are respected on the territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg. The Grand Chief stated publicly on CFRA 580 radio, Sunday morning at 8:10 am, June 30, 2019 that she is prepared to give up her health and even her life if that is what it takes to assure wellbeing and respect of her nation. I know her! I know she is serious!

The Algonquin homeland is being re-colonized all over again, by the AFN, the MNO and the ITK organizations. They step onto our ancestral lands without a word of acknowledgement or gesture of respect to the People who have resided here since time immemorial. Some of the leaders have even raised their voices in anger at our chiefs. Where do people such as this come from? They behave more like pirates and desperadoes than they do as leaders of Indigenous bloodlines. The leaders of the three organizations mentioned here are well aware of the protocol expected of visitors when they enter the lands of hosting nations. The leaders know that the host nation (in a situation like this i.e. the embassy, 100 Wellington St., Ottawa, ON on unceded Algonquin territory) must have a space in their circle. If the outside leaders are not accepting of this, then they need to vacate Algonquin territory immediately and find a home for their ‘embassy’ elsewhere.

The Grand Chief is going on a hunger strike. She is going to sacrifice much, to what end, I do not know. I am hopeful that the worst will not happen. A call is going out, for prayers, for encouragement songs in support of the Grand Chief’s cause. Please do your part!

Please share widely,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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Genocide? Ask the Beothuk!

The Anishinabe (First Peoples) of past times looked with wounded hearts upon the destruction and death that the Residential Schools were bringing to their children and to their once powerful nations. The death toll of innocent children at the schools was so enormous that the name the Anishinabe gave to such structures was “Awakàzo kikinàmàdinàn`n abinòdjìnshag kà awi nibodjig” (Residential Schools: where the children go to die). Dr. Peter Bryce (1853-1932) recorded almost 40 years after the schools first began operating, that 50 to 75% of the schools’ population were ending up dead for a variety of reasons, mainly disease brought on by malnutrition. A high number of the children also succumbed to the elements which overcame them when attempting to run away from the horrors they were confronted with inside the school walls.

The children had been forcefully removed from their family and nations by order of Sir John A. MacDonald, representing Canada’s federal government. Dr. Bryce submitted his report but he may as well have used it as kindling in his stove for all the good it did. The government paid no heed!

The Indigenous children were indeed rounded up and yes, I believe taken into a torturous existence where the weaker ones slowly wasted away until death finally set them free of their pain. The children did not die from machete blows, nor were they stomped to death under the boot heels of an insane brute, bullets did not tear through their little hearts to kill them, but yet, they ended up just as dead as a human being who died during the Rwanda genocide.

Is ‘Genocide’ the proper word to describe what the Indigenous Peoples of this land have experienced? A lot of commentaries posted on varying media outlets across the country object to it. “If a people of an ethnicity different than that of the majority have not been rounded up, tortured and then killed, it is not genocide,” they declare. Experts on what defines genocide are being asked to express their opinions. Scholars and political leaders and even old military generals are being sought out for their views. Most of them are saying, “No, what happened to First Nations is not a genocide.”

We cannot ask individuals from the Beothuk First Nation for their views on genocide, they are no longer here to give it. The ancient, heart-moving songs the Beothuk sang at sunrise those many generations ago are no longer heard in this physical world. The Beothuk are all dead and gone. Their voices and customs, swept away like the leaves of a maple tree on a cold and windy autumn day.

Were they rounded up, tortured and then killed? I don’t know. I only know that the Beothuk would still be here, thriving and healthy, if their world had never been colonized. The Algonquin Nation, from which I am a member, almost ended up as the Beothuk did. In the year 1900 by the federal government’s own count, there were less than 1,500 Algonquins left on the face of this planet. Were we rounded up, tortured and then killed? I don’t know. All I know is that we would be far greater today as a People than the powerful force we were when we had the miserable misfortune to cross paths with Samuel de Champlain. With him, came colonization and with colonization, came death in untold numbers for the Algonquin Anishinabe. Our numbers today are only a small fraction of what they were at the time of contact.

A short while ago I worked for a few years as an advisor at parole hearings involving offenders of Indigenous bloodlines. One day, after a hearing had come to its conclusion (parole denied), I overheard the two parole board members involved in the hearing expressing their feelings on the Indigenous Peoples of this land. (They were not aware that I could hear them.) “I feel sorry for the Inuit,” said one to his colleague. “They have nothing going for them.” “I hear what you are saying,” replied his fellow parole board member. “The First Nations don’t have much going for them either. You know, at the time of contact with the Europeans, the First Nations were pretty much throwing rocks at each other or butchering each other with stone axes.”

The words left me stunned. It was difficult for me to emotionally absorb what I had just heard. I instantly had a harshly worded talk with the two parole board members. As unbelievable as it seems, this is the actual view of a man Canada has placed in her trust, to make an impartial and just decision as to whether yea or nay, an Indigenous offender gets paroled. I don’t think it’s possible for the parole board members I speak of here to do so.

At worst, racism was at play in the view they shared. At best, a superiority complex was doing the talking. The world view of Indigenous People these parole board members have is no doubt also that of millions of other Canadians. I’m certain that according to their (racist Canadians) train of thought, a great favour was done for the First Peoples when the colonization of our territories by Europeans occurred. They believe, in their heart of hearts that their presence on our lands saved us from a wretched existence. To the hardcore of the racist settler communities, we, the Indigenous Peoples, are inferior and as such, not worthy of being treated with respect and dignity.

I dare say, this is why many Indigenous women and girls end up dead or missing. And this is why it will continue until the day arrives when most Canadians will come to appreciate, respect and honour the women and girls of an Indigenous bloodline.

A genocide? Yes, it did occur and is still being practiced to a degree in Canada and I doubt it will stop anytime soon. I know that those of you reading this who say there was no genocide perpetrated against the Indigenous Peoples of this land, would see it differently if the atrocities mentioned here had befallen their family line. Even the loudest cracks of thunder in a lightning-lit sky, would not be enough to drown out their mournful chant, “genocide, genocide, there was a genocide.”

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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Card Sale!

Kwey everyone,

I am presently making a big push to sell the remaining stocks of greeting cards I created a long while ago. There are 15 different cards in my collection. Poems of mine are found in 14 of the cards (only 1 is blank). The verses in the cards touch on numerous topics. They range from words of love and affection to a child of your bloodline and move forward to words of support for a loved one, hoping to find the strength to begin a life of sobriety. I am selling the cards for $10 per package (plus shipping cost). If you are interested, $10 gives you all 15 cards, a $45 value! Two examples of the poetry and artwork in the cards are as follows:

When I look at you

when I look at youWhen I look at you
I see a strong woman
Wise beyond her years

I see you dance with pride
And graceful movement
That quells my spirit’s fears

I see you bathe in the fragrance
Of the sweetgrass, the cedar and the sage
Earnest purifications of your being
To prevent an inner rage

I see you shun temptation
When the drum reaches to your ears
When I look at you
I see a strong woman
Wise beyond her years

Truest Friend

truest-friendIf your wish
Was to be a turtle
Then I would wish to be your shell
For already
I stand to protect you
Like a shield
That heartache could never bend

And if your wish
Was to be an eagle
Then I would wish to be the wind
That carries you to the highest peaks
Of peace and serenity
For I am
Your truest friend

 

I believe that this collection of cards will someday become a sought-after collector’s item. What do you say? Please click here to place your order (via PayPal) or send an email.

All the best,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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Spring

It is spring! In forest dwellings, many a new heart will begin to drum before the Strawberry Moon (the first moon of summer) signals to this wondrous season of countless blessings that her time of service to Creator has finally come to its end. The hearts of bear cubs, deer fawns, wolf and coyote pups and those of a wide variety of birds will sing an ancient song and, together, will contribute to the spiritual greatness of spring. The land will stir and gently send forth her plea for all life of the forest to obey the instructions given to them by Creator. Over the course of its time the maple sap will flow, the rooster partridge will stand on a drumming log and send his energy into the welcoming forest, flowers will decorate the pathway, and great flocks of geese will blacken the sky.

Spring – there is no other time of the year more special! The first thunder strikes will fully awaken a re-energized and refreshed landscape. It is a powerful occurrence! The hiker in the forest at springtime can taste the season when a deep breath is taken into human lungs. Spring is a time of ceremony and prayer. To fast deep in the forest and contemplate life is such a natural thing for a human being to want to do. We should never take for granted what Creator has placed before us.

In the past, a human being might be drawn to go onto the land after the snow had melted away to partake in a ritual of thanksgiving for having been born with a human heart. One would stand, ankle-deep, in spring, river or lake water, a short length of cedar branch in hand. The cedar would be dunked into the water and then sprinkled onto the top of the individual’s head. “I awaken my mind to the blessings of Creator,” the human being would say. “May my thoughts be pure and peaceful, may I have the ability to give good counsel to my children, may my mind always possess the ability to reject hatred.” On it would go, and the mind was awakened to goodness and emotional health.

Next, water would be sprinkled over the eyes, words acknowledging the beauty of Creator’s domain would be spoken. The sunrises and sunsets, the colour of birds and flowers, beauty in the face of a loved one, all was acknowledged. The entire body of the human being was awakened in the way the life in the forest too awakes with the touch of water after its time of rest and sleep has come and gone.

Each season brings with it a rich healing energy. It will serve us well if we believe in it.

All the best,
South Wind (Albert Dumont).

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The Massacre of Muslims in New Zealand

I hear the news of the massacre and I immediately wonder if Creator gave the People a ceremony they could perform to honour human beings violently slain while in the midst of their time of prayer. I know of none!

I hear the news and I immediately ask myself, what kind of man would go into a house of worship with the intention of spilling the blood of innocent human beings, the young, the old, the pure and sin-free? Where can I find a wisdom keeper who can provide me with a sensible answer?

I hear the news and I immediately become aware that it is quite possible that a man with similar ideology as the killer in New Zealand could be living in my city, Ottawa. A man who harbours a deadly hatred for the Muslim religion and possibly, prepares now, to strike at a mosque here in Algonquin Anishinabe territory? If it is so, what can I do now to stop him?

Ancient Pine. Photo by Julie Comber, 2012.I hear the news and I immediately retrieve tobacco from my bundle to place at the roots of old pine trees, making a solemn request of them for healing to at least begin now. Not just for my Muslim friends but for all of us who are now heartsick because of the senseless attack which took place in New Zealand. Imagine a pine tree, old and grand. It has many strong and vibrant branches. Let us see the trunk of the tree as representative of Creator and the branches attached to it as the beliefs of people who honour all things Creator placed before us. Do not all the branches have a right to attach themselves to the trunk? Who would dare attempt to remove one of the branches from the tree? If the devil exists, then it is surely the devil and only the devil who would wish to do so.

I ask myself, who or what was it that created the mind frame of the New Zealand killer? I try to weep for those who died but somehow I cannot. Why is it that a river of tears does not run from my eyes, mourning for the innocent people who died only because of their choice of religion? Tears are not what is needed at this time. Action! Action is the answer.

Together, all people of faith, must gather in the sacred circle to condemn violence and hatred. As former US President Obama once said, “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.”

As far as I am concerned, anyone who hates to the point that they see the murder of those they despise solely because of their religious beliefs as a legitimate reason for slaughter, gives up the right to call themselves a human being. Such a creature no longer has a human heart pounding in its chest. What was once a heart has become nothing more than a pump pushing blood into the body of a wild and mindless beast unknown to Creator.

Nothing of Creator’s touch would do such a thing as was done in New Zealand! Let us pray, using our own words and at our own place of worship, wherever that might be, to end hatred once and for all.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Thinking about Willie Dunn

In recent years, I have not allowed a day of my life to take flight and then swiftly disappear into the twilight of yesteryear without giving a thought to family and friends who have passed away. Not long ago, they lived. Like all of us they were once comforted by the heartbeat of their mothers. And when in their tender years, like all children, they laughed and played in the sunlight. And knew, from the untold sorrows of their times, what it is that pushes tears from the eyes of a human being.

I was well acquainted with Willie Dunn. I wish I could tell you that I had a close and endearing relationship with him but I cannot. I am confident all the same that Willie Dunn respected me. I certainly respected and admired him. Willie supported my work as an activist and was especially fond of the poetry I wrote. He was an extraordinary man who died way before his time. Willie contributed greatly to First Nations identity and purpose. He was a good man who was taken for granted by far too many.

People like Willie are like that tree you are familiar with. The one on the hill perhaps, near a highway you often find yourself travelling on. It is a marker telling you where you are landed or something of tremendous beauty. It portrays strength and emotional wellness. People like Willie are like a rare bird of song. We hear them sing when we prepare a site for ceremony. We hear their song when our hearts ache with worry. The song cleanses us and we are reassured by it that in the end, all will go well.

I recently rediscovered a music video Willie Dunn performed back in 1994. Here’s the link, check it out! Children of the World:

I’m so ready for spring. The winter was difficult, too much snow, too much freezing rain, too much severe cold. My skin longs to feel the hot sun pressing against it. I can hardly wait to feel the soft spongy earth cleansing and reinvigorating my bare feet. One morning soon, I hope to awaken to the song of a robin, to look out the window and declare “Behold the Spring.”

All the best,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)
PS – Here is my Tribute to Willie Dunn.

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Akikodjiwan: A Poem

Akikodjiwan
© Albert Dumont

With the skin
On the soles of our feet
We gently touch, the sacred surface
Of Akikodjiwan

The spirit of the island
Rises from the rock, like a bird
Soaring into the blood of our hearts

We raise our hands into the sky
The stars descend, to caress our palms
We open our eyes
And search the universe, at peace
Looking upon the face
Of the Great Mystery

We listen to the Kichi Zibi
Of the Algonquin Anishinabe
She has followed the path
Created for her by Mino Manido
Guiding her to sacred Akikodjiwan
Where the mighty voice of water
Reminds all Peoples that without water
All life of this world would perish

The moon illuminates the island
She speaks to us
Of her love for water
The fire we kindle hears her message
His flames rising ever higher
Our circle dances, the rapids sing

The smoke of burning sage
Carries our chanting song
To the eternal home
Of our grandmothers and grandfathers

The waters of the Falls
Swallow our humble offerings of tobacco
We call upon the Good Spirit
To bless
All the Peoples of our Nations

“Let us always be kind
To one another” we say
“And honour all things
Creator provides to humankind
So our children can live joyful lives”

We stand with kindness in our hearts
On a sacred island
Where the circle is always strong
Where our instructions as human beings
Rise, encircled in the mist of Akikodjiwan
They call loudly, wanting to be reclaimed
To assure the survival
Of all their relations.

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The Spiritual Caress of the Winter Season

I was recently blessed with a life-altering and dreamlike experience. Truly spiritually refreshing! I want to tell you about it.

It was on a sunlit winter’s day, which followed a period of heavy snow and freezing temperatures. I had attached a pair of snowshoes onto my insulated boots and set out into the forest behind my home. My purpose was to offer words of a prayer and to place tobacco on the land for a loved one who is presently going through a rough time. The trail was physically demanding and not long after I entered the domain of sleeping trees I began breathing heavily and the rhythm of my heart intensified. My store-bought snowshoes failed to support my weight and I sunk into the deep freshly fallen snow with each step I took forward.

The forest was definitely in the midst of its winter slumber. Not a sound could be physically heard in the vicinity of my snowbound trek. Heavy coats of snow covered the branches of spruce and balsam trees, forcing the softwood trees to point downwards at the season’s many layers of snow, one packed upon the other since the first which settled in mid-November last year. The tall white pine trees, too, were snow-laden but the strength of their branches held up and withstood the weight pressing onto them.

I only travelled a kilometre before feeling that I needed a rest and sat on the remnants of an old poplar tree, fallen many years ago. As I rested I took in the beauty and peacefulness of my surroundings. I marvelled at what the season had to offer in the way of teachings, engulfed with spiritual wisdom. Suddenly, the sky clouded over and snow began to fall. The flakes at first were large but sparse. I removed my beaver skin mitts from my hands and raised my bare palms towards the sky. Snowflakes gently alit onto my skin, melting on contact. I began to pray, requesting healing and peace from the season.

Snow in a forestVery quickly then, the snow began to fall in torrents. My turned-up hands tingled and vibrated under the touch of the season. A big wind flew in. It travelled like a giant serpent through the dips, gullies and hills close to my circle. It was as if I was on the outside perimeter of a language unknown to me, spoken by the season but understood clearly by all life in a forest. The branches of the trees waved and swayed wildly, giving the appearance of long-haired dancers, draped in robes covered in fringes and ribbons. The leaves of a nearby oak tree rattled and shook, but most of them refused to loosen from their branches. The powerful wind cleansed the branches of the spruce, balsam and pine trees of the piles of snow clinging to them.

The sky became a swirling, mighty river made of chunks of snow, fiercely swallowing up all things in its path. My still turned-up palms felt like thousands of gentle tiny beings etched a spiritual dance into them. A caress I felt straight through to my heart and spirit. I laughed and prayed simultaneously, never have I ever felt such a remarkable sensation in my entire life. It was a blessing, granted me by the season of winter. It didn’t last long. All of five minutes later, it was over.

I continued in prayer, my tobacco was placed down and I returned to my home to ponder further the experience given me by the season, the snow and the wind.

All the best,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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