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