I visited Benjamin Chee Chee’s grave today, Sunday, April 23. Chee Chee and I were casually acquainted back in the 1970’s. I knew him only as an up-and-coming artist who was making a name for himself in Ottawa. He was never troublesome nor violent! He was generous and kind-hearted! From what I observed, Chee Chee was the type of guy who would give you the coat off his back on a freezing day. From what I know, he had one flaw, he was overly friendly, often sitting down at a table in a bar with strangers. He was just being friendly!
Benjamin Chee Chee had the misfortune of being placed at the Alfred Reform School as a young lad. He was severely mistreated there by the ‘Christian Brothers’ who ran the ‘school’. Long after Chee Chee’s death, a law suit against the school was filed by its former attendees. A monetary settlement was eventually reached. One of the school’s survivors told, in a newspaper interview, about how Chee Chee would be beaten near to unconsciousness by the Brothers. “They wanted him to cry,” said the survivor, “but Chee Chee never did. They kicked him and beat him with their fists but Benjamin never gave in.”
I ask that you ‘Google’ Benjamin Chee Chee. Look into his eyes. Imagine the great degree of suffering this great artist saw in his 33 years of life. Put tobacco down for him to smoke with his ancestors. Feast him for the trailblazer that he was. Look at his artworks! Ask yourself, what inspired him? What spirit stood by his side when his brush touched the canvas?
Benjamin Chee Chee was born in the springtime of the year. A spring baby! His birth season gave him his sweet disposition (maple sweet water, syrup). The northbound geese of spring gave him his love of geese, the respect he had for them (see his paintings). Spring, the season of water, gave him the flowing brushstrokes he rolled across a canvas to create those striking works of art.
Chee Chee left this world during the time of the Sugar Moon. His spirit no doubt swiftly ascended into the sky to fly with the geese of the season to his northern birth home, Temagami. The lake, the old pines, the gray jay, the trout – how grand was their welcoming of his spirit? We can only imagine!
Benjamin Chee Chee was a gentle soul. Men, artists such as he are not celebrated enough.
The Chief of Pikwàkanagàn (Wendy Jocko at the time) tells the Ottawa Citizen’s readers (March 20, 2023) that the AOO (Algonquins of Ontario) is “here to stay”. Thousands of ‘Algonquins’ removed from AOO membership roles in recent years, thought they were here to stay as well when the AOO first came into being not all that long ago. They’re gone now, never again to be recognized as Algonquins by the AOO nor by the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation, who never accepted them as such in the first place! Suspect members were thrown out like last week’s garbage by the AOO when they (outcast members) could not provide real proof of their claim to have Anishinabe Algonquin blood in their hearts. But how on God’s green earth did they ever get on AOO membership lists in the first place? I want to know!
Hundreds of the evicted members had voted to accept the ‘Agreement in Principle’ (AIP) put forward by governments (Ontario and Canada) negotiating with the AOO to settle the Algonquin Land Claim. I say this to the AOO members who believe that they have a right to sit at any table where Algonquin Land Claim negotiations are taking place: “Go ahead, pretend to be Algonquin to your heart’s content but know with all certainty that not even one square centimetre of Algonquin land is yours to sell, trade or to surrender in a treaty. The land belongs to the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation, not to you!” Hundreds more members will soon be thrown out of the AOO membership because of false/ridiculous claims to Algonquin bloodlines. I believe this fact alone renders the AIP null and void!
The AOO! They endorse nuclear waste initiatives at Chalk River, Ontario (bloody sickening).They clear-cut segments of their membership like they do a forest (without heart, without regret). They go about their business as if the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation didn’t exist. They feel that they are not required to answer to no one other than the Bay Street lawyers who control them like puppets. Strange conduct for people who identify as Algonquins!
Early in March the AOO clear-cut a forest adjacent to where the proposed Tewin Project will stand. (A project said to be an act of reconciliation with the Host Nation by former Mayor Jim Watson but is in reality the worst offence against the Anishinabe Algonquin committed in modern times.) They did the clear-cutting on the sly and under cover of darkness. What a slippery bunch! The AOO is stating now that they should have notified the City of Ottawa of their intention to cut thousands of trees before doing so. According to the former Chief (Wendy Jocko), they will do so in the future. Notifying the City of an intended massacre of trees is one thing but I wonder, why they didn’t feel it necessary to inform the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation leadership of their decision to clear-cut a forest. It would have been in accordance to the Nation’s protocol to do so. They didn’t because the AOO doesn’t give a damn about the authentic Algonquins. The wellness of the Algonquin Nation as a whole is something the AOO wants nothing to do with.
Most of the AOO members have ‘cards’ acknowledging a claim that they are Algonquins. The cards most of them carry are NOT ‘status’ cards but are in fact ‘membership’ cards (membership to the AOO). There is a world of difference.
How could it be that people who could cut down thousands of trees without conscience call themselves Algonquin? They did it under cover of darkness. Shame! They gave no thought to the animals hibernating in the forest. They call themselves Algonquins but their actions are more in line with that of greedy pirates. Did they conduct a ceremony honouring the life of ‘all our relations’ before the timberjacks fired up? I think not.
Since making the statement “we are here to stay”, Wendy Jocko has herself been voted out by Algonquins at Pikwàkanagàn. Chiefs will come and go! So will organizations like the AOO! What is truly here to stay is the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation. Make no mistake about it!
Hate! If my wish were to come true, the hatred some human beings have for other human beings would be swallowed up by the September mist and be taken to a place where it could no longer hurt anymore. The human heart wants nothing to do with hate.
I review my life many times over the course of a year. I see that I have never, never hated anyone in all the years of my existence. Hate doesn’t make any sense! There is no pay-off to hate! It is destructive and will get you into trouble. It will bring depression into your life. It will reflect in the glare of your eye and good people will not want you in their circle of peace and love. I want nothing to do with it.
See below the poem ‘Like the Stars’ I wrote at the request of Alanna Trines (Indigenous Education Lead for the Ottawa Catholic School Board) in recognition of Standing Against Racism Week, March 20 to 24, 2023.
This poem is written as words I would say to individuals who hold hate in their hearts for other human beings because of skin colour and cultural differences, or hate people simply for being the original stewards of the land we live on as is the case with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
Like the stars I am incapable of hate No matter how the force Of your actions against my spirit Wound me I, as a human being Could never bring myself to wish That your culture and identity Would forever disappear
You hope, through cruelty To crush the shell of the turtle Who stands to protect The medicine Of my inner fire Which burns solely To keep kindness alive In my human heart
Still, I search Your soul, for goodness I see dying embers And again, I renew my vow To keep strong my desire To defend your right To take your place In the circle Of emotional and spiritual wellness Granted by Creator Where human beings Can better themselves
In meditation of your life I sit, before the great trees Of my homeland My thoughts rise To grip the branches Of the tallest pines Where I know the spirits Of the eagle and the raven Wait to guide me
I wonder, in the richness Of pine tree wisdom How your eyes Look upon skin colour And the clothing Other human beings wear I wonder how your ears Absorb languages, not your own Spoken by people, at the places Where your children play Deeply, I wonder And a tear leaves my eye An offering For your bloodline
If only you allowed your heart To truly know my heart You would see That I taste and smell love As you do You would see That the birth waters Of my mother Are as sacred as those Of your mother
You would understand at last Why I feel That the caress of the wind Upon my spirit, is something Forever impossible For you to comprehend As long as you carry hate In your troubled heart For other human beings
I feel as one with the spirit Of the land Do not despise me for it Do not try, to empty my sky Of the eagle’s wings Give me your hand instead and know That you and I Can live as neighbours Like the stars Incapable of hate
The ‘I AM A HUMAN BEING’ book of poetry is finally in my hands. Wayne Odjick and Sid Cooko of Anishinabe Printing at Kitigan Zibi delivered 39 boxes of books to my home on November 23.
I AM A HUMAN BEING is an anthology of poetic perspectives on the topics of love, death, support, honour and other emotions contained in the human heart. They are offered by established poets, by folks who dabble at poetic wordsmithing and by deep-thinking high school students from Ottawa schools. And may I proudly add, include 24 from the Kitigan Zibi School.
Readers will find that this book will bring forth a powerhouse of emotions, reaching to the depths of your soul. Your heart is in for a treat. I am so impressed!
There will be a book launch on Sunday, December 18 at 3 pm at Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks St., Ottawa. If you can’t make it to the book launch, you can purchase the book through my website: http://albertdumont.com/books/i-am-a-human-being/
All proceeds generated from sales of this book will go towards promoting poetry as medicine, bringing healing to those finding themselves in emotional distress.
This initiative could not have happened without the support of Verse Ottawa. The ‘I AM A HUMAN BEING’ book of poetry is/will be recognized I’m sure, as a major legacy of mine as English Poet Laureate for the City of Ottawa.
3 samples for your perusal are:
Floating by Lionel Whiteduck
Floating to a new world Gasping for air Afraid – I cry Needing care Finally grown up I seek to express my feelings Thirsty for water Thirsty for life Yearning to procreate Heart is floating Love appears Then growing old Heart beats slowly Thoughts become hazy Gasping for air My thoughts float away My breathing stops I travel to a new world I am a human being
Scraped Knees by Dawn Steiner
Air whooshes out of me I try to breathe Girls in boxed pleated tunics Surround me I begin to cry
I cry into multiplication tables Into mid-afternoon story time I cry when my pencil breaks When a breeze gentles the papers On Miss Sutherland’s desk When a chickadee lands on the windowsill I cry for the gerbils caged At the back of the classroom For Tommy who stutters For my dog I cry for my aunt who is dying For my cousin who hasn’t been told I cry for all the sadness In my mother’s eyes
I am a Human Being by Papegabiisa
I am young Watching my father slowly die But the feeling you have Watching a loved one die Is like the world falling apart A 20-pound weight on your chest And breathing is like a chore
Having to prepare for despair No one can prepare for that Having to go about your day Not knowing Whether your father is alive or dead
Having to continue on your day With a mask, pretending That everything is fine when it is not No one knowing what is going on Going through it alone is enough to feel hopeless
Always wondering When was the last time you hugged them Or said I love you Knowing you may never say A proper goodbye
The idea of writing a poem I would call “One Man” came to me on a recent sleepless night. The poem would tell the tale of one man who believed himself above God. Such an outlook is strange to me. A world where the hair colour, the eye colour, the skin colour of a human being is accepted by the populace in general as a statement of who is and who is not capable of high intelligence, is a world where oppression and hate will run rampant. When we see the stranger next to us as less, in productive worth and spirit, we are dishonouring ourselves as a human being, one of Creator’s most magnificent of creatures.
The one man of my poem, John A. Macdonald, a white supremacist, the likes never seen before on First Nations lands is guilty of genocide. Even the Pope acknowledged it! Canada’s first prime minister, the cruelest and most cold-blooded colonizer to ever set foot on gentle Turtle Island needs to have his true identity revealed. The history books are wrong, he is not a hero.
This one man of my poem would see in trees and rivers of the lands of the First Peoples, nothing of sacredness but looked upon them as things only present on the land for men such as himself to enrich themselves with. This one man would rise to power and create laws and policies in Canada generated to do here what it took generals and countless military campaigns in the United States to do south of our border, hammer the “Indians” into a defenceless state and then place them on reservations! Germ warfare, starvation, residential schools and other forms of outright oppression were normal tactics used by Macdonald as Canada’s first prime minister. Atrocities for sure. Yet somehow, he earned a knighthood from the British while doing so.
As a boy, I had this belief that a knight was a hero. A belief, no doubt brought to my young mind by the 1950s TV series “Ivanhoe”. In the series Ivanhoe roamed the countryside performing good deeds, always coming to the aid of damsels in distress and saving folks being tormented by tyrants. He was likeable and chivalrous. “I want to be like Ivanhoe when I grow up,” is what some boys would say. Then in later life, on a school trip to the Parliament Buildings, I saw a statue of Sir Galahad, a knight known for his kindness and gallantry in the protection of women. Needless to say, I imagined knighthood as the biggest honour the Monarchy could ever bestow on a man (there were no women knights). So I guess it was natural for me as a child to see in John A. Macdonald a hero of the highest calibre. He was a knight after all. I convinced myself that the British Monarchy saw in Macdonald a man of courage with a heart full of love and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. If Ivanhoe deserved knighthood, then why not Macdonald? I admit that I never liked Macdonald’s face (kinda funny looking I thought), but I liked him. I liked him very much until I got old enough to recognize the facts about him as they really were and I finally saw this one man for the monster he actually was.
I wonder now why knighthood was ever bestowed on such a man. He was a killer! My God, thousands of children are dead because of what Macdonald did. The identity of a People is in tatters to this very day because of Macdonald’s actions.
The time has come to demand that King Charles revoke John A. Macdonald’s knighthood.
I herewith announce the intention of my granddaughter Kyrstin and I to lead a campaign whose sole purpose is to fight with all the force of the sun to erase the honour of knighthood away from John A. Macdonald’s name. I ask that all who read this statement will take the time to write to Governor General Mary Simon, demanding that she speak on your behalf to King Charles of your hope that the King will revoke John A. Macdonald’s knighthood. When this one man brought innocent children into his scheme of genocide, he became one man who went way too far. No knight would do such a thing. Macdonald is not deserving of the title of knighthood he received in the 1800’s.
Macdonald believed that God made a mistake by placing the Indigenous People on Turtle Island. This one man had a plan to fix God’s error. “Killing the Indian in the child” was part of that plan. It is so damn sickening!
The monarchy revoked the knighthood of Conrad Black. Did Mr. Black kill children? Did Conrad Black perpetrate genocide? He did not, yet he lost his knighthood. Macdonald needs to be stripped of his too!
Soon after Friday night’s restful hours began for me, I collapsed onto my bed where I promptly fell into deep, peaceful slumber. The events of September 30, the closing of the SJAM Parkway for a couple of hours, the hundreds of people who somehow through the blessings of the good spirit, were able to bring their hearts together spiritually, to offer to Creator the music of one beautiful gigantic heart while all the time a hawk watched from a nearby tree branch – these things, put a smile on my face and delivered me into dreamland.
A few minutes after 3 AM that night I awoke, the memories of the ‘Every Child Matters Parkway’ and the ‘Acknowledge the Truth Walk’ again brought joy to my heart. Wow! What an extraordinary day!
Today, my dear TEAM members are openly sharing their feelings about how rewarding the ‘Acknowledge the Truth Walk’ was for them, too. There exists in the fibres of life’s web, mysteries that will never be really comprehended by human beings. The fact that a spiritually enriching moment in one’s life can take an iron-hold on the spirit, blessing it with a seed from which a beautiful flower will grow! The person it is attached to feels it and knows that the energy coming through their bodies, like the currents of a mighty river, will be part of their spiritual selves for all the remaining years of their life. Know with all certainty, my friends, that the strands of your life’s web will surely become stronger because of it. We will never fully understand what is going on with such an energy transfer. But are 100% aware that it was the honourable deed we took part in which created it. Friday was such a day. All of you who were present know what I am talking about.
I want to identify some people who, if not for them, the walk we were part of on Friday, would never have come to pass. All of these extraordinary people are equally deserving of being honoured. They were and are dedicated beyond measure to actions of reconciliation. What a joy it was to plan and then deliver, alongside them, something as great as Friday’s walk. I begin:
Sylvia Smith, retired school teacher and founder of Project of Heart Dr. Lisa Howell, former teacher and Ottawa University professor Pamela Naymark, mother, perpetual optimist, health equity advocate, lover of food, travel and cultural diversity Bruce Tate, father, partner, mentor, friend, learner, volunteer Laurie, volunteer with Justice for Indigenous Women Diana Brushey, eco-educator with CanaDiana UnlimiTed, and Faith Formation Leader at Kitchissippi United Church Élaine Simon, immigration and refugee lawyer, activist, musician and dancer Nicola Whitehouse, Vice Principal with the Ottawa Catholic School Board Lindsey Barr, Founder of World-Changing Kids
None of them nor I, received even a nickel in honoraria for planning and bringing awareness to the cause of removing SJAM’s name from the Parkway. We only wanted to be part of something of reconciliation between the Anishinabe Algonquin and settler people. The children who suffered and died in residential schools called on us to do so.
If a reader of this tribute to the best TEAM ever, was with us whether in person or in spirit, I want you to know that you are not taken for granted. YOU! You are so special. Your open, gentle and kind heart instructed you to answer the call of the innocent children who were forced to endure untold miseries and death, at far from home residential schools. You did, what too many others do not want to do. You lent of your person, you were counted at the Walk and my heart rejoiced to see you there.
When the team gets together before October is gone, we will honour you and feast you. A spirit plate will be put out for you and all the good people of your bloodline. Migwech for being present on September 30, 2022.
Anishinabe Algonquin elders and Residential School survivors joined us in a smudging ritual before the Walk began. How grateful all of us were to have their energy and spirit, add strength to the purpose of the Walk. Because of the death of Mary Whiteduck, also a Residential School survivor and respected elder who was laid to rest on September 30, some Algonquin elders dedicated to our cause, could not attend.
It was said in the sacredness of the smudging circle that each step of the ‘Acknowledge the Truth Walk’ would be a prayer being offered to Creator for all the children who died in the residential schools. Myself and others among the walkers kept Mary Whiteduck in mind as we walked along. Our people who felt the cruelty of white supremacy will never be forgotten by us who were so fortunate to not be taken from loving family to the hell of a far-away school.
Others who are folks I admire and respect and who I embrace as true and real friends are: Bishop Shane Parker of the Anglican Diocese Claude Latour, artist and activist and a member of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation Chris White, founder of the Folk Festival which delighted thousands of people during its years at Britannia Park Tito Medina, audio engineer, composer, singer, songwriter, cultural activist Kyrstin Dumont, advocate, activist and motivational speaker The shy children who spoke the words “Every Child Matters” Christopher Elle for his song Diana Brushey for her song Julie Comber for her song Ken, Jenessa and Nathan from Kitchisippi United Church for their time and talent And of course the hawk who watched (from beginning to end) from the branch of a tree near where the ‘Every Child Matters’ sign stood. A big ‘Thank You’ also to Beth Bretzlaff, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral for being there to support the walk.
The Walk was made stronger because of the good people from the PSAC-NCR. Their members were present. They acted as marshals and worked the table. They also made a monetary contribution (without being asked to do so) which helped over costs related to the Walk. Thank you, my dear friends. A big ‘Migwech’ too, for the Indigenous Action Circle. You guys rock!
Oppression and genocide took place on beautiful Turtle Island. Too many are still broken because of it! In Anishinabe Algonquin territory, goodhearted people have decided that no more will they remain silent. Their wish is to help mend the wrongs of the past by standing with those who suffered because of colonization’s cruelty and barbarity. They do so because the human heart tells them that it is the right thing to do.
This movement needs your support. Please help out by standing with us at our next event.
“Canada was founded on strong Christian values,” a statement I’ve heard many thousands of times in my 72 years of life. The old white man who sold huge blocks of sawdust-covered ice on hot summer days when I was a child, said it! School teachers in all the classes I attended, said it. Every politician from municipal to federal governments, say it, gee, I wonder how many times a year. I heard Canada’s current Prime Minister say something to that effect again recently when commenting on what the Russians are doing in Ukraine. If the Canada of my dad’s generation and his fathers before him was truly based on strong Christian values, then I pray to Creator now that such values never enter the hearts of my grandchildren. If it were strong Christian values that created the “Indian Act”, then Christianity is a house whose foundation is built, not on rock but more like on a slow sinking mud hole.
“There never would have been a Canada, if not for John A. Macdonald,” a ridiculous claim made by his adorers. Let us finally agree that Canada was destined to happen, simply because its resources dictated it (the victory of the British and Anishinabe fighters in the War of 1812 over the Americans set the creation of Canada in motion), regardless if John A. Macdonald had ever, even been born. The truth is that Canada’s greatness as a nation would be today, a thousand fold stronger in emotional and spiritual health without Macdonald ever becoming prime minister. The Indian Act, Residential Schools and propaganda promoting hatred of this country’s Indigenous Peoples would never have happened without the influence of Macdonald. He was a cruel-minded, mean-spirited white supremacist! The children who died and suffered in his Residential Schools offered testimony to that effect in the spiritual place they went to after leaving this world.
How many dollars have Macdonald’s sins cost us, as taxpayers? Residential School settlements, programs, dysfunction, imprisonment, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Development, all these things don’t come cheap. You, all of us who pay taxes would not carry this burden today if Macdonald had stayed clear of this country.
Imagine if Dr. Peter Bryce had become Canada’s first prime minister, genocide in this country would never have occurred. The Indian Act would never have happened. A relationship based on honour and respect between the Crown and the First Nations would have been the order of the day. Under the leadership of a human being, the likes of Dr. Peter Bryce, strong Christian values as those taught by Christ, not as those defined by people of Macdonald’s mindframe, would have been at the forefront of this country’s first government.
Dr. Bryce lived and worked alongside of men like John A. Macdonald. Yet, he kept his “strong Christian values” intact! There existed in Macdonald’s day, kind-hearted and fair-minded people. But sadly there weren’t enough of them to overrule the greed and viciousness of the majority.
I believe that if Macdonald’s name stays on the Parkway running parallel to the Kichi Zibi (Ottawa River), it would make a gigantic statement on what kind of people hold positions of power, here on the never surrendered lands of the Anishinabe Algonquin. Strong Christian values? Let’s see if they exist.
From the deathbed, a young and vibrant Queen rose to mount the magnificent Burmese, who carried her to the side of a horseman, waiting to go with her to the oaks of Loch Lomond to reflect upon the years of her reign. In the spiritual world where the old are young again, the Queen and Duke rejoin, to continue, the unconditional love and support they nurtured for one another, while bringing culture and identity to the British people.
Physical death, the soul leaves it in the past and the amazing heart of the spirit begins its eternal life. A new world begins, where the fair-minded and good-hearted among us will hear an honour song being sung for them after the transformation, from the physical life to the spiritual one, comes to pass.
The Queen is dead! In the land of the Red Maple Leaf, the sorrow of many citizens fills the skies. The tears, the prayers of her admirers take flight, like the geese of spring and autumn, making their way to the Queen Mother who waits to hold her daughter close to her bosom once again. To the mourners, the Queen was as the grandest tree in a boreal forest. A tree, whose spirit and grace spread pride and comforting smiles to all around it. A tree, a “Mother to All”, whose commitment to duty brought emotional wellness to those standing in its shadow.
In this broken world where the eagle records, on behalf of Creator, the wrongs human beings commit in bringing suffering and death to “All Our Relations”, we accept that all of us will someday account for the negative actions we are guilty of while living on this beautiful planet.
The horrors committed against Indigenous Peoples of British colonized lands by past monarchs will be spoken about around the council fire of the Spirit Land. The Queen will at that time renounce the brutality of the past. Her good heart, the teachings of the Spawning Moon into which she was born, the Whitefish Moon into which her last heartbeat was captured, will direct her to do so.
The Queen, her gentleness, her ability to emotionally connect with the common people, her desire to make the world cleaner and safer, are truths she carries with her now into the Great Land of Souls. She was a light to British subjects while she walked on this earth. To the people who love her, she continues to be a fire, now offering in its circle, a role model for the future generations of her bloodline to follow. May she rest in peace.
An attempt to forever erase the First Nations Peoples of this country was made in Canada’s past by white settler communities and their elected officials. Genocide! It’s such an ugly word! Certainly not one you want connected to the country you love and raise your children in. Who would initiate genocide? Only monsters! The Pope admits to the church’s part in it but others too, stand as equals to the Catholics who felt it was their duty to rid Canada of Indigenous culture and identity. John A. “Kill-the-Indian-in-the-Child” Macdonald was the undisputed leader of the movement to exterminate the First Nations Peoples. No one can sensibly argue otherwise.
I do not believe in the existence of “hell”, the biblical eternal place where hot flames torture sinners for the wrongs they perpetrated while living out their lives on this earth. Indigenous spiritual beliefs that I embrace do not speak of hell, only that no one escapes justice. But if hell does exist, we can be sure that Macdonald is in the hottest part of it. His eternal home is where summer breezes will never again caress his face, nor will he ever again marvel at a sunrise. Flowers and berries, and standing face pointed upwards in a gentle rain, do not exist where he is. The songs of birds and the sight of glittering fish fighting the swift current of a forest brook are things unknown in the land where Macdonald lives forevermore. For Macdonald and men and women like him, the reward of white supremacy, forever theirs.
Macdonald is in a place now where no monument stands in his honour! No parkway is named after him either. But who knows, it could be that the road leading the evil among us to hell might very well be named after J.A. Macdonald (“JAM Highway to Hell”). After all, wasn’t it his laws and policies that cruelly placed many thousands of innocent children in their graves? There have been evil men on this earth since the beginning of time but in my opinion, none match Macdonald in the arena of evil-doing.
I write this as a call to action. We, all of us, must stand together in condemning what Canada’s first prime minister set out to do in the name of Canada and the British Monarchy. If the plan of genocide he proposed against the original inhabitants of this land disturbs you, then I ask that you do something about it. Remember, during the years of the Second World War, a man named Hitler attempted genocide on a segment of Germany’s population. Who would name a parkway after Hitler?
On September 30th we will meet at the War Museum, located at 1 Vimy Place. Please arrive by 8: 30 AM and be prepared to walk on the Parkway for 3 hours. Let’s commit to closing down the SJAM Parkway every September 30th (Orange Shirt Day) until Macdonald’s name is removed from it. A man who promotes the inhumane act of genocide should not have a roadway in the Nation’s Capital named after him. We call on politicians to join us, the clergy, students and teachers, on union members, on the folks at the NCC, on the old and the young, on the rich and the poor to do what’s right. If you despise those who support genocide, whether it occurred today or long in the past, then march with us on September 30th to show your disgust at those who honour Macdonald as some kind of hero.
“When you fear criticizing certain individuals or groups, you know who your masters are,” so said an Armenian man I met years ago at a conference. His words flooded my mind last week when Chief Wilton Littlechild presented, as a gift to the Pope, an eagle feather headdress. The photo I saw of the Pope, the headdress adorning his head, was spiritually sickening to me. What an offence! The eagle feather is sacred to First Nations people who hold it close during trying times. We embrace it as a symbol of Indigenous spiritual beliefs! I was taught after my sobriety began 34 years ago that a human being could do a lifetime of good deeds and not receive even one eagle feather. Yet somehow, the Pope was gifted with a headdress filled with many of the sacred feathers. For what? Because he apologized? How does that make him worthy of being within even 50 ft. of an eagle feather? Other activists and I sometimes wonder if some men recognized as Indigenous leaders suffer onto themselves the weight of an inferiority complex. It is something they can shed from their shoulders anytime they wish but cling to it instead.
What else are we to conclude when powerful First Nations leaders defend Chief Wilton Littlechild for gifting the Pope with an artifact (feather headdress) of such profound spiritual embodiment to us, who regard the eagle feather as something allowing the Creator’s messenger to soar. Have these leaders forgotten that the First Nations people are struggling to revive a spirituality Canada outlawed until into the 1950’s? Have they forgotten that the Pope is the head of a church responsible for bringing cruelty to their people and miserable deaths to thousands of our children? The giving of eagle feathers to the Pope was to me, a vile mockery of First Nations spiritual beliefs. These leaders have lost, not only my respect by defending what Littlechild did but also that of probably tens of thousands of other First Nations individuals who honour the eagle feather as something of great spiritual significance and purpose. Do they care? Only time will tell. Keep in mind that if a Pope had ever come to our lands and gifted one of our Grand Chiefs a solid gold chalice filled with wafers (the eucharist) the Pope had personally blessed, it would be clear to all that the Catholic Church had collapsed! Lost its way! And was no longer an entity worthy of millions of followers.
The Pope revealed in an interview on his return to Rome that it had not “come to mind” that he should mention “genocide” in his apologies. Didn’t come to mind? I wonder why it is that Indigenous leadership didn’t bring it to mind, bluntly and forcibly to the Pope. Why did they neglect to do so? Perhaps they feared that the reaction of the “master” would be too difficult for them to endure.
During the week the Pope was in Canada I heard or read comments made by Indigenous people signalling their inferiority to the masters. “He (the Pope) is God’s representative on this planet,” said one. Sorry, but he is not! All of us, you, me and every other human being on this planet is God’s/Creator’s representative while living out our lives on this earth. You either fail in surrounding yourself with Creator’s teachings or you embrace them with all the strength of your spirit. Another statement: “I felt his pain, I felt his sorrow, I felt his heart.” Strange, because I did not! All I saw was an old man reading from a prepared script and I felt nothing because of it. No emotion whatsoever came forth!
I remember a white man saying back in the 1970’s: “Why are those Indians always whining? We brought them the word of the Lord! And for that alone, they should be forever thankful for European presence on these lands.” If bringing “the word of the Lord” here to Turtle Island is what brought the Indian Act and severe oppression of this county’s original inhabitants, then I would rather the word of the Lord had stayed in Europe.