Youth gather in Ottawa for ceremony, not for protest


Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that he is supporting the youth in Ottawa who are conducting ceremony and are there for spiritual reasons.

“This is youth-driven,” says Madahbee. “These are grassroots people who are guided by traditional grandmothers. We are there to support the youth.” Madahbee wants to stress that this is not a protest. “They are praying about the murdered missing woman and girls and for the protection of water,” says Madahbee. “They are creating awareness that Canada150 is not our celebration. We have been here for thousands of years. We want a dialogue with Canada. The federal government needs to do better in the future on how we are treated.”

The Anishinabek Nation released a statement on Canada150 earlier this month.

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 60,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Trudeau urges respect for ‘unsettlers’
OTTAWA – Many indigenous people won’t be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, and with good reason, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Thursday as he called for the so-called “reoccupiers” to be treated with respect and understanding.

While Canadians across the country fly flags from porches and don red and white face paint, indigenous groups are planning protests and ceremonial events to drive home the point that for them, there is nothing to celebrate.

The Bawaating Water Protectors, an indigenous group from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., attempted to set up a teepee Wednesday night on Parliament Hill but clashed with police securing the site for Saturday’s Canada Day festivities.

After a few hours, police released nine people who had been arrested and the teepee was allowed to be set up on the edge of the parliamentary grounds, fenced off from the rest of the site.

The group is not there to protest, but to make people aware of the truth of indigenous history in Canada and to witness indigenous ceremonies, said organizer Brendon Nahwegezhic.

Getting Canadians to understand that history and to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples is a main goal of the four-day “reoccupation” event, Nahwegezhic said.

“We’re here to make people aware of the genocide that went on, the assimilations that went on,” he said.

“That is a part of the history and that is the truth of Canada, unfortunately.”

Trudeau, speaking at an event in Charlottetown, said he understands and hears clearly the messages being sent by those behind the reoccupation.

“We just have to make sure that we deal with both what are going to be historic crowds on Canada Day on the Hill but also deal with people in a respectful and a responsible way,” he told a news conference.

“That’s what I expect of our security services and that’s what I am expecting to see.”

Security is higher than usual in Ottawa as an estimated half a million people are expected to descend on Parliament Hill for Canada Day this year.

Canadians need to understand not everyone will be celebrating Canada 150 the same way, Trudeau said. “We recognize that over the past decades, generations, indeed centuries Canada has failed Indigenous Peoples.”

The intention is to spend the next four days engaging in indigenous ceremonies including sharing circles and sacred fires.

Nahwegezhic said his group plans to eventually move their teepee right onto the main grounds of Parliament Hill. It currently sits on a slope leading up to the building known as the East Block.

“When Trudeau talks about truth and reconciliation, we won’t be able to get to the reconciliation part until the truth is exposed and in the open and told properly,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it seems to be getting misconstrued by politics and whatnot.”

Nahwegezhic pushed back several times at the notion that the group is staging a protest. Rather, he said, it’s a call on people to stand with them, and raise awareness.

“We are on Algonquin territory and we do have that right to practice our traditions.”

Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas said in a statement Thursday as an indigenous woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, she is not celebrating this weekend.

“Our history predates colonization yet we are still being treated like third class citizens even though treaties were signed in good faith on our part,” she said.

“We are of the opinion that we will celebrate when all treaties are settled, all First Nations children enjoy equality in education, health care, safe drinking water, quality housing and governance in our own land.”

Social media hashtags like #UNsettleCanada150 and #Resistance150 are all over Twitter and Facebook, as people post their reasons for not celebrating.

Flyers posted on telephone poles in some cities described the Canada 150 festivities as “a celebration of indigenous genocide.”

In May, the indigenous group Idle No More called upon indigenous people to rise up on July 1 with a “National Day of Action — Unsettling Canada 150.”

Among the plans are a protest event at Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s Canada Day picnic in her Toronto riding, and an event in Winnipeg to draw attention to the disparities between the city and life on Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

That community hasn’t had clean running water for two decades, despite the fact that it is situated on the side of the lake where Winnipeg gets its water.

— Follow @mrabson on Twitter