***Please send all the support you can to these grassroots leaders in their journey to Ottawa to raise profile of Indigenous Rights, awareness out the treaties and Mother Earth, they are almost in Sault Ste.Marie and need funds for food and gas. They can be contacted at the contact information below!***
For the Land and Peace,
Kenora, Ontario â Today youth from Grassy Narrows First Nation began their walk from their small community in northwest Ontario, 8o kilometers north of Kenora. The Anishnabe youth are walking to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and plan to get to the Capital on October 3, 2009.
Youth leader Chrissy Swain and the other walkers will be carrying a copy of the Paypom Treatyâan alternate version of Treaty Threeâa document which is recognized by the Treaty Three Grand Council as containing a truer representation of the negotiations leading to the signing of Treaty Three whose anniversary is October 3, 1873.
The youth are hoping that the walk, and their arrival at Parliament Hill with the treaty will serve as a reminder to the Canadian Government and Public, that they have an obligation to respect and uphold the treaties. The youth also hope to draw connections between environmental destruction and the destruction of communities, to open dialogue about protecting and healing the earth, as well as healing communities and the relationships between them
The walk is to be a spiritual journey inspired by dreams and recent incidents. Swain, along with Grassy Narrows community organizer Judy Dasilva visited the site of the Macintosh Residential School near Kenora. There, behind the old school site, instead of a memorial, they found several large hydro towers right at the site of the graves of those children who died at the school, disrespecting their memory. Following the visit, Chrissy had dreams telling her that this was to be a symbol of the connection between the destruction of Indigenous lands, and the destruction of their communities.
Last year, Chrissy led a group of 22 youth from Grassy Narrows (and a few other First Nations communities), on the Protecting Our Mother Walkâover 1800 kilometers from Grassy Narrows to Torontoâwhich became a catalyst for the Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors and Sovereignty Sleepover in May â08 at Queens Park, where the message was: no exploitation of Indigenous lands, no criminalization of land protectors.
âThe government does not understand that words are not good enough. Talking âgreenâ and making empty apologies that donât actually deal with real issues is not good enough. We have to protect the landâprotect our Mother Earth,â said Chrissy Swain. âI want to tell Harper that apologies are not good enough. Canada needs to give proper respect to the victims, families and survivors of the residential schools. We need Canada to recognize the damage those schools have done to our communities and cultures, and we need an end to the destruction of our lands, and an end to native people being criminalized when they stand up for their rights to protect their lands, their cultures, and their communities.â
Chrissy Swain recently completed a speaking tour of south-western Ontario.
(Grassy Narrows First Nation)
(AW@L Solidarity Working Group)