“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.

FATHER’S WHO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Little girl sitting on her father's shoulders during a protest on Syria, holding a flag with message FREEDOM with more flags in backbround. Syrians protest against Assad in Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

How many father’s actions are motivated by their dreams for their children?

Dreams of freedom. Dreams of safety.
Dreams of justice.

For every revolution resolved there are fathers to thank for the risks they took.

Large crowd of people walking down Istanbul city street waving the Turkish flag.

At protests in Turkey and uprisings in Syria fathers are fighting for their children and their grandchildren to have a life that respects their humanity.

Young woman from Soweto raises her hand with other students behind her holding a flag with words "Students and Parents let's be one. Kruger's boys have killed again."

Today, on June 16, as South Africa commemorates the 1976 Student Uprisings in Soweto, along with those courageous young people, we remember a father to a nation. Because of the sacrifice of Nelson Mandela, as well as the sacrifice of his own children who waited 27 years for their father’s freedom, we see a very different South Africa in the 21st Century.

And today in Canada, as we totter on the edge of environmental disaster of epic proportions, father’s from East to West, from all backgrounds, Indigenous and non-indigenous,  are fighting for Canadians to have a country where they can drink clean water, breathe in fresh air and live healthy lives for all the generations to come.

Let’s support all the fathers who are making this world better.

Older man raises his hand in peace symbol, young boys in behind him holding giant Syrian FREEDOM flag like a blanket.
Syrians protest against Assad in Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.