It was important for me, as an Algonquin, to stand yesterday (Nov. 7) with the good people who object to the planned destruction of Asinabka (Akikodjiwan), our ancient sacred space, at the ‘Zibi’ sales site (3 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec). I wanted my protest to be documented so my grandchildren’s grandchildren will know something about me which will spiritually endear them to me long after the drumming of my heart has disappeared forever from this domain. My many faults are what they are. Like all of us I need a place to heal from a world, often seemingly to me, gone totally mad.
Asinabka (Akikodjiwan), our most sacred site, was stolen from us at a time when no one except the good spirit Mino Manido and Creator cared what the Algonquins had to say about it. We are told over and over again in recent times that a “new relationship of honour and mutual respect is at hand” between us, the First Nations and the settler communities. If Canadians are OK with a sacred site such as Asinabka (Akikodjiwan) being violated in the most despicable manner by the construction of highrise buildings upon it, then their warped definition of ‘reconciliation’ is very different than mine. My mind is not strong enough to even imagine what will be lost to us spiritually if highrises do end up getting built there. I only know with all certainty that our future generations, yours and mine, will suffer the most because of us allowing a place of prayer and ceremony to be raped before our very eyes.
I stand in full support with Algonquin elder Evelyn Commanda’s statement, “Mother Earth is not for sale. If someone was to offer me all the money around the world, no.” Money is nice to have, but when we see our children’s minds swallowed up and destroyed by technology or see them hopelessly addicted to a party and drug lifestyle, what good will money do us then? Would we spread money on the floor and roll in it in the hope of it bringing us peace? When we replace a spiritual base, the natural thing to do on our earth walk, with the one laid before us like a snake in the throes of anguish by the almighty dollar, we will find at the end of our time what a terrible mistake we made. What explanation will we give? “I did it for the money” won’t impress anyone in the land of our noble forebears!
I find the strength occasionally to travel into the swirling darkness, where my life’s most painful memories live like grotesque birds waiting for the opportunity to consume what is left of my sanity. God knows I was brought to the edge of mental breakdown many times by what severe alcohol addiction and the acts connected to it did to my mind. What I survived is not something I ever want my descendants to experience. The spiritual beliefs of my beautiful ancestors saved my life and I became a fit parent because of it. I want spirituality, and the healing it can do, to be there for my loved ones, now, always and forevermore. Akikodjiwan must return again to us as a place of sacredness.
This is what I would have told the people in the Zibi sales office (sales staff and potential buyers) had I had the opportunity to do so. But when Douglas Cardinal and I, two old men, made our way towards the building housing Zibi’s sales office, we were blockaded by Zibi owners, the police, and members of the Memengweshii Council (see the second video on the page, titled “Protesters and Zibi employees share their views”). Still, the experience was worthwhile. Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I call on our supporters to come out. This is just too important. If you really care about the spiritual wellness of our future generations, then take the time to make a stand.
What you can do to help protect our sacred site:
-> Read, act upon, and share this call for support from Four Algonquin Communities: http://bit.ly/1RJB5d2
-> Sign and share this petition: http://chn.ge/1VB6x3w
9 Nov Update: I posted “A Clarification” here. Please read it. I did not feel disrespected on Nov 7. And I hope everyone, regardless of their views on the future of our sacred site, will be treated with respect. There is no need for personal attacks.