If at the end of it all, condos 12 storeys high do get erected at Asinabka (Chaudière Falls and its Islands), it will be a great setback to plans honourable people have made in bringing a sensible and lasting process of reconciliation between our country’s Indigenous Peoples and its settler communities. How will we reconcile then, after such an outrage? It will only prove that the overtures of reconciliation made by our political representatives (federal, provincial, municipal) were only sugar-coated words without real empathy attached to them. It will make us (Indigenous Peoples) doubt that reconciliation will ever occur, for our spirituality was our ‘way of life’ long ago and we need to return it as such today. It will also signal to the world that Canada’s claim to be a beacon from which other countries can learn why and how they should protect the human rights of their Peoples is nothing more than a half-baked dirty joke here in the never-surrendered land of the Algonquin Anishinabeg.
We have a right as human beings to access a circle containing the many things we believe are sacred to us. The circle, which we enter with humility and peaceful hearts, is the keeper of all life thriving in the fields and forests of our territories. It is a place where we go to pray for the health of the winds and waters our children must breathe and consume to assure these things will be there for them, all the seasons of their lives. And it is where ceremonies are done to honour the rising sun for the richness of light and warmth it gifts to the land. Our circle holds special places for human beings to go to, such as where the trees grow and the birds sing, so they can communicate to Creator through honour songs their respect for all which has been placed here for human beings to live well. There is no place more sacred in my ancestral land than Asinabka (Akikodjiwan). People have gathered there at the waterfall since time immemorial to better themselves in their spirituality. In a weakened state we were driven from Akikodjiwan by land-hungry settlers. No one among them spoke for us. The only voices heard were those of men who encouraged abuse upon abuse of our rights as human beings on our own land.
Our human rights – to what limit would we go to defend them? What Canadian with a righteous heart would sit idly by as the basic human rights of their fellow citizens were being trampled by municipal, provincial or federal governments? The greatest right we have is the right to have ready and open access to a site we believe is integral to our spiritual wellbeing.
Our right as human beings is to a circle which surrounds the sacred circles of our spiritual beliefs. When we fail to realize this, we prove that the warmth of the scriptures of our holy books cannot lower the temperature found in the coldness of our hearts and we must then ask ourselves why this is so.