“THE PEOPLE ARE DETERMINED TO PROTECT THE PINES”: Remembering Oka / Kanehsatake

Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance by Alanis Obomsawin, National Film Board of Canada

“They know very well what they are fighting for and its probably worth much [more] than nine holes in the ground.”

Just over a month ago the Turkish people came out to demonstrate in Taksim Square in Istanbul. The ignition – the desire to save trees. In an overdeveloped but ancient city, Gezi Park is one of the few green spaces left and the plan to rob the citizens of this enduring place for want of a modern mall was the final strike of the match.

In seeing the footage of the masses that showed up in Istanbul, I fantasized about the same size of a crowd gathering to protect the trees and the sacred natural spaces we have left here in Canada a land once so abundant with natural beauty but now being sliced through and whittled down.

Today is the anniversary of the blaze that started here in the town of Oka and Kanesatake community in Quebec. A developer’s desire to conform the land into a golf course was the fuel for a blaze that burned regarding human rights.

For the want of trees a population was ignited into action to deal with the deeper discontents.

The trees in Gezi Park were / are symbolic of the deeper discontent of the Turkish people with regards to their government.  Most people would be in agreement that the Turkish people, in their desire to save the trees, acted poetically in their fight for justice.

Was Oka any different?

END NOTE: Some of the land desired for development was a burial ground for the Mohawk people of that community. For over 400 years an Armenian cemetery was located in that area of Gezi Park. After the Armenian Genocide the cemetery was razed.

JOURNEY OF NISHIYUU: History Being Made at Parliament Hill Today

Aboriginal youth in a group with clock tower at Parliament Hill in background.
Image from www.Canada.com.

“EVERY STEP I TOOK WAS A PRAYER FOR MOTHER EARTH”

If the start of the 21st Century is teaching us anything it is that the small and simple micro movement has great power. Like a little pebble dropped into a pond we see the miracle of the radiating rings – vibrations that reach the far shore.

A few teenagers had an idea. Let’s walk they said. And they did. In a Canadian winter (all of us can relate to that kind of discomfort). Today as they reached the Capital as a country we had to acknowledge that the system is broken. All because some kids got up on their feet and decided to make a movement.

Congratulations to the youth and everyone who joined the walk along the way. I know there were also many of us who joined you in spirit by binding our hands to yours in our virtual spaces.

Thank you for humbling us all into action.

“WALKERS YOU HAVE ETCHED YOUR NAMES IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY TODAY”

Young aboriginal youth smiling at a supporter of the Journey of NishiyuuDavid Kawapit, original seven of Journey of Nishiyuu. Image from the Ottawa Citizen.

Check out their amazing website www.nishiyuujourney.ca.
Follow along on Facebook & twitter @nishiiyuu.

4 out of the original 7 members (Travis George, Stanley George Isaac Kawapit, and David Kawapit) celebrated their birthdays during the walk so why not give them a belated birthday present by donating to Journey of Nishiyuu cause!

Some great articles on the Journey of Nishiyuu walk to Ottawa:

Globe & Mail – Nishiyuu: A movement of Cree youth who voted with their feet

Canada.com – As Nishiyuu Walkers reach Ottawa, Canada should reflect on human rights

Ottawa Citizen – Nishiyuu Walkers reach Chelsea, their ranks swollen from seven to several hundred