In the wake of the tragic events in the isolated community of La Loche, we are asking ourselves what happened to cause this event. A community so devastated by the school shooting, the loss of 4 lives at this time and 7 others that are critically wounded. I ask myself what was the driving force behind this shooting, what drives a young man to commit something so terrible upon his own people, his own community. There are many questions and few too many answers to those questions. A young man bullied for having larger ears than the others. Having been bullied relentlessly in school, driving him to take an action so impactful that bullying will never be looked at again in the same light within that community ever again. It was reported that the shooter skipped over people telling them he wont shoot them, for being kind to him. I have experienced relentless bullying, to the point of attempted suicide, and severe anxiety with a heavy dose of depression. I cant say I understand what it takes to open fire on a school, but I wont lie, it did cross my mind. Within isolated communities is a lack of services to help cope and deal with the underlying issues that can manifest themselves into tragic moments. Sadly this led to something that will be etched into our memories, to be immortalized via social media. hmm… I think back to the time I was in the community on a school volleyball trip. Having taken hours to arrive at our destination, far into the bush beyond any signs of civilization. The only indication of people living out there was the road heading into the vast forest ahead of us. When we arrived in the community, driving past houses with a look of antiquity. An air of poverty and effects of isolation visible at every turn. The man we went with to the community as our coach, a Durocher who use to be a RCMP officer in La Loche. He gave us a tour of the community he has come to love, our final stop before heading to the gymnasium for a volleyball game, we stopped at the cemetery… having walked through rows upon rows of crosses and head poles, we came to a grave. Our coach began to weep, having to wipe his eyes before telling us the story of sorrow behind why we came to this specific grave. The young man committed suicide, it was my coach to cut him down. It was a former player on his volleyball team while stationed in La Loche. Our coach pointed out many of the crosses there were of young people, who had felt hopeless… who have taken their own lives. I was so closed off emotionally at the time I was told, I couldn’t feel the sadness. Today I think back to the community, and I weep. It is a tragedy what had happened, this nation was stifled by the news. No words I can say will heal what has been taken, but I have faith in Creator that we will all heal. Never give up hope, no matter how hard life might be in that moment. There are so many challenges we face on a daily basis, it can become overwhelming, but just know we all go through those challenges together. I will always remember La Loche, because the impact it had on me. Today I try my best to help the youth I encounter, having been taken from their homes, and now reside in care of the government. My prayers go out to La Loche, for healing…
The illusion of control, why do we think that we are in control? We often believe that we as humans are in control, we believe in this sense of superiority. We look at the land, at nature thinking that we decide. The truth is, the land decides, it always has decided. In the natural way of existing, knowing we are so pitiful and dependent on everything, we are below all other creation. That is the natural way to look at it, but there is also this artificial man-made way. This artificial way we think and believe we are superior and in charge of the land and nature. We must be very careful when we begin to think this artificial way, because this way of thinking contradicts natural law, the way of the universe. when we begin to believe in this idea we are humanity are superior to all of God’s creations we also ignore the sacred structures of nature, and many of the teachings such as respect, such as love. in this artificial way they believe they are in control of nature, in control of the land. The land decides, it always has decided from the very beginning of the universe. I always speak on the importance of returning to the land and the land-based practices. Within the land-based practices and knowledge exists structure and wisdom. Long ago we understood this, because we never had anything to distract us from paying attention, to prevent us from being in the moment 100% of the time. We learned everything from the land, we knew when the weather was going to change when we seen the animals acting different, or from the whisper of the winds. We knew when to hunt or fish when we seen the trees changing colors, when the birds flew a certain way. This ancient knowledge is forever present, we just have to pay attention to it. The land-based practices will always exist, because the land will always exist. Newiyawak were connected to the land, living in harmony, not thinking we were in control, simply existing with love and respect. At a time in this world, we as humanity once thought and existed the same way, living with the land in harmony. Somewhere along the way things changed, colonization happened. We are human, we forget at times, time to remember the teachings of the land, to dive deep into the very core of our existence into the blood memories of our ancestors. The knowledge of the land exists within each and every one of use, because we are made of the land, we are made of the water, of the air, of the universe. Return to the land, reconnect to the prayers of the old ones who have gone before us.
First Nations Control Of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA), Bill-C33… What can I really say about it?
Truth is, the canadian government has every right to create legislation over its citizens. First Nations are considered “Citizens Plus”, thanks to Late Harold Cardinal, digging us deeper into a convoluted twisted mess. We have begun to lose our identity, our knowledge of the land. We are beginning to believe that we are canadians, we are beginning to act like canadians. I was born of this land, a natural being in its truest sense, newiyaw. This goes back to the question I asked in my previous blog, “Are we the same people that promised Treaty?”, No we are not. Simply based on the fact we do not function within our capacity as sovereign tribal people. If we lived and embodied our natural existence we would be governed by land-based natural systems, but today we are governed by an artificial man-made system. We must realize that if we are going to be mad at anyone, we should be mad at ourselves. We should be mad at ourselves because we have become lazy and self-absorbed, we have allowed ourselves to get away from the teachings of the land, those natural processes. The canadian government as every right to make laws over its own citizens, we are allowing ourselves to fall under their jurisdiction because we are not enforcing our own natural jurisdiction. We cannot go to the government as “sovereign people” and ask them to stop making legislation over us. The canadian government knows it can not make legislation over sovereign people, so it doesn’t. We must realize we put ourselves under the canadian blanket, as we suckle the great white teet. We have become confused and lazy, we have forgotten our rightful place and the mechanisms to get us there. Reconnect to the land, to the language, to the teachings that exist there. Bill-C33 is for First Nations, canadian citizens. I believe in our Natural Right bestowed upon us by Manito. I have every right to teach my people and children about our natural ways, no government can ever stop that. Also the government won’t give me money to teach them the natural ways, nor do I require it. I see so many people upset at FNCFNEA, but I understand we put ourselves in this position, it is up to us to break free from the imaginary shackles of oppression and misdirection. First Nations people are NOT Treaty, because the promise was made between Newiyawak and the new comers. First Nations is a legal term under canadian law, putting yourself under the blanket of Canada. I can remain in the blanket and suffocate or I can be free and live off the land as mosom did. Your choice, you can choose to be canadian, or love the land. You cannot do both.
It is cold during them winter nights, when you have nothing more than a bowl of flour soup to take the pain of hunger away. Waiting for the food bank to be open so you can get at least something to fill your tummy. This is common place amongst Indigenous people of Turtle Island. Yet the land is fat with its life giving nutrients, but still the people go hungry. I will never forget the land because she sustains me. Struggling to exist in the colonial system is the by-product of assimilation. I had no choice but to exist within this artificial system, I was born into it. I am not going to place blame for these circumstances. Mosom told me to never forget the land, because one day we will return to it. I never really understood what he meant when he first told me, but today is makes so much sense. I consider myself fortunate to have been through all I experienced. I look around at these beautiful lands of Turtle Island, I see these so-called leaders make decisions about the land. Many of these people see the land, not as a spiritual entity, but rather as a thing we are owner of. These Indian Elites never had to struggle like the rest of us, always had things handed to them. To them “The Struggle” is not being able to make a car payment, or getting paid $1000 for a gig when they were suppose to get $1200. These people whose feet have never walked bare across the land, they make decisions on my behalf. Endangering the future generations by making deals to get monies for their indian act bands. Selling resources that do not belong to us. The idea of ownership is vastly different between newiyawak people and the colonialists. The land will continue to provide us with a livelihood, as long as we live in a good respectful way of Creator’s gifts. The struggle I live with everyday gives me strength, I know many more of my brothers and sisters are facing the same challenges of a newiyaw in this modern colonial world. I will continue to stand up for the land and waters, just as my mosom has done before me. Hiy hiy ninaskomtin.
In the beginning there was Love. What has become of the great tribal nations of Turtle Island? Are we truly the same people we were long ago before contact? There are many more questions being asked than there are answers at the moment. If we think about how we lived and existed in this world before contact we wouldn’t recognize ourselves. If we look at how we live today, and we compare ourselves in our practices and teachings, we will see the decline and decimation of our very existence. Truth is, we have become slaves to a colonial system we do not understand. Today we are slaves to their colonial system, slaves to their Will. From what I am seeing in this world, it seems we have forgotten who we are, we have forgotten the prayers of the Old Ones. Forgot our Identity. We are Natural Beings existing within the confines of the artificial colonial system. What is it going to take to be free from this oppression? First you must realize you are being oppressed, too often people are so disconnected from the land they begin to believe the lies forced upon us by the colonial system. Once you realize that you are being enslaved you can begin to free yourself from the shackles of their self perpetuating system. The colonial system relies on you participating in the struggle of it. Long ago we the newiyawak people had our own systems, given to us from the land. We followed the Natural Order of things, followed Natural Law given to the universe by the Creator. Today we are not living and embodying these land-based systems. In this moment we are being governed by an artifical illegitimate system imposed on us by the colonizers. These chief and council systems were imposed on us for so long that people are beginning to believe that this is our true leadership. Fact is, the c&c have no legitimacy from the land or Creator, simply an illusion of power bestowed upon them by the oppressors. The people rise again the colonizers systems, but the illegitimate authority tells us they are helping us, but truth is they only further the oppression and confusion. Many of the colonized First Nations people will tell you we cannot return to the old ways, that it’s not fesable or it is time to move on. It breaks my heart when I hear my own people think this way, it is so easy to fold our hands and do nothing. But I will not be that way. Truth is, newiyawak people existed with values and teachings, with respect and honesty. We need to bring back the values and teachings of old. This is what I say, we cannot go back, but we can move forward as newiyawak, true to the prayers of the Old Ones.
There are many stories about Treaty that have been passed down generation to generation. These stories are very similar but the teachings that exist there are always the same. In the time of Treaty 6 the newiyawak people existed with the teachings of the land. Everything that we know and practice as a people existed because it was given to us by the land, by nature. All of our ceremonies came from nature, in our stories it explains where in nature these ceremonies come from. Today many of our people are afraid our teachings and practices are disappearing. What is vanishing are the elders who were taught how to understand the knowledge given to us by the land. Our newiyawak knowledge and practices will never disappear because Nature will always exist, the sun, the moon, the waters will always exist. Many of the teachings from nature often stare us in the face in our daily lives, but yet we miss them because we are too preoccupied by many useless tasks of colonial society. Look at the tree, to some it is just a regular every day sight, but yet the tree teaches us lessons. The tree teaches us about the importance of a foundation, about our identity. If you look at the canopy of the tree it stretches high into the sky, so wide we hide under the shade in hot days. What we do not see is the roots of that tree. For the canopy of the tree to grow high and vast, it must have a solid foundation or else it will collapse under its own weight. The root system of the tree is often twice as extensive as the canopy above, creating a foundation immovable. We as newiyawak people learned this from the tree, we as natural beings must have a strong foundation, a deep rooted identity in order for us to grow in our every day lives spiritually. We look at the sun, the ultimate oskapews. The sun gives and gives, never asking for anything in return. From the sun we learn of helping, we learn of sacrificing ourselves to help others, never for personal gain. There are so many teachings that exist in nature that not one being will ever carry the entire knowledge of the universe. You can see how we as newiyawak people lived and viewed the world, not as things, but as actual living spiritual beings. When white hands shook brown hands, we promised to live together in peace. The hand shake was a symbol of a bond, a connection, a promise between our peoples. They would learn our ways, just as we would learn their ways. When we promised to learn from each other it was to strengthen that bond between our peoples, so we understand who they are, and so that they will return to the land and it’s teachings. We created an unbreakable spiritual bond between our peoples, bonded by spirit. We are forever connected to the new comers, as our brothers, as our sisters. Treaty is very spiritual, it is living and breathing. The promise was said “As long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow…”. To us as newiyawak people, we understood it as a spiritual promise that our people made with the new comers. We are the sun, the same power that makes the sun warm keeps our bodies warm and the light in our eyes. We are the grass, just as the grass grows we change, we grow and multiply. We are the waters, our bodies are made of the waters, the woman when she gives birth the water flows from her body. We as newiyawak embody Treaty, just as the new comers do too. The Crown will try teach you their ways, their colonial world view. Because they are disconnected from the land the Crown will teach you that Treaty is nothing more than words on a paper, but to us as newiyawak it is much much more than that. This is the difference between us as newiyawak people and the new comers, the connection to the land, to the spiritual teachings given to us in our every day lives. We must begin to ask ourselves, do we still learn from the land? Do we honor the land as my ancestors have done before me? Am I honoring Treaty?…. When white hands shook brown hands…
I can only speak in the context of Treaty 6 Territory and the newiyawak consciousness. What is Liberation? To each being Liberation can mean many different things, but to myself it means to free ourselves from the grips of colonialism and the shackles of oppression. To return to the original newiyawak consciousness. One of the greatest ways to liberate yourself would be through learning and practicing traditional teachings and customs. Everyone is colonized to a degree, we must become aware to what is colonial and man-made in our mindset and lives. The first step to freedom is awareness, you must first realize there is a problem before you can fix it. People fail to notice and become aware to what is colonial at its core because they themselves do not have a solid grasp of their identity. An identity is your foundation, and a foundation based on the cultural and traditional consciousness of their nation and lands is immovable when challenged by the cancerous colonial mindset. There are newiyawak who are aware of the colonial mindset and oppressive tactics, because those people have a strong foundation/identity, a strong understanding of their history as a nation, territory and culture. It is these people who are leading the way in Liberation. The goal of the liberator is to carry the light of truth, to shine brightly upon the darkness we have created in our own lives. People often wonder “what is wrong with the colonial mindset?”. It is the values that exist within the colonial mindset at its core. Many are based on individualism and the illusion of control, there are many contradictions within that mindset compared to the land-based knowledge and values of newiyawak people. The question is, how do you spot the colonial mindset?. You must first understand yourself, your identity, your foundation before you can understand what is colonial. The colonial mindset is a man-made belief system based on an individual’s ideology, but the newiyawak consciousness is based on the land practices and teachings of the Nation. Long ago the newiyawak people learned everything from the land, how to survive, how to do ceremony, it was all given to us from the land. This is why they are land-based practices and knowledge. For example if you look at the parliamentary system of the colonial government of Canada, that in itself is colonial at its core, based on the fact man made that system, man designed the parliamentary system. The systems used by the newiyawak people were given to them to use by the land, by nature. The woman is considered the final decision maker, based on the fact she holds power over life and death of the Nation. The woman was given the gift of life giving by the Creator. With no women there would be no man. You can observe this in all of living nature. This is why it is vital to understand who you are, to understand who you are you must know where you come from. I come from the land. The knowledge I shared with you comes from the land, that is our teacher.