This post is written by Tina Nottaway, Spokesperson for the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation
“KWE,” I am an Anishinaabe woman who speaks the Algonquin language fluently. I live in the la Verendrye Wildlife Reserve in Quebec, which is located two and a half hours north of Ottawa. This is where my roots have been for generations. My way of life and identity depend deeply on the resourcesthat Mother Nature has provided for us here.
Our people always had an abundance of natural resources to sustain life prior to the arrival of newcomers. This was due to our traditional ways of managing these resources and the Seven Teaching of our Grandfathers. We had, and continue to have, a sacred trust with the Creator to be Stewards of the Land. It is ingrained in our Algonquin Constitution and this is why any transgressions that contradict harmony with life seem foolish to us. Do they not to you?
As Anishinaabe, we have a great understanding and connection with nature and how living things speak to us in their own way. The forest has always been a university to our people.
Our forest, like your cities, offers us bounty and the means to live. It is the place we find our pharmacy, our food, our place of healing and wellness for our children. We, like you, understand that an economy is needed for the benefit of all. I believe we all understand that our forest, which sustains all life, requires that we manage it in full accordance with its needs. A healthy natural forest, as the centre of our economic and spiritual life, provides for us. This means understanding that it is nature who decides what harmony means – not we who impose our harmony upon Her.
In our world, we want our resources, the animals, and all life to be free and to thrive with dignity. We too want to live the same way. We don’t want to just survive in our territory, we want to live!
The forest is the place that provides us the natural materials to construct our ceremonial shelters and to hold our sacred ceremonies. The spiritual connections and needs which reside in all of us are fulfilled in our sacred natural places. Much like churches are used by some for a direct connection with their creator, the destruction of this natural land is, to us, no different than the destruction of churches and other places of worship. I trust you can understand how this shakes the foundations of our spiritual life. The right to worship is a right that all humanity holds.
Alas, throughout the better part of the last century, we have lived a sad story of abuse, dispossession and neglect by the combined efforts of forestry companies and successive governments. Corporations such as Resolute Forest Products are today directly responsible for decimating the biodiversity which sustains us all. Right now, they are clear-cutting in vital remaining areas of our traditional territory. They are doing it at a frantic pace, in the name of profit, even in this so-called “wildlife reserve”.
We, the Anishinaabe Nation, have welcomed newcomers into our home and shared all that we are. We shared life. And yet, without the forest, we will become extinct as a distinct society. Is this how your Nation shows appreciation and respect? More importantly, can you allow it to continue?
I know there are many Canadians who care for our Mother Earth as we do. If we are to stand together for all humankind, we must take action now.
The number one currency we all have is time. How will we spend our time here on earth? What will we leave for the future generations of all living things? It is not a matter of money but simply one of humanity.
Support the fight for life. Help us protect our homeland. The people make the government, it is not the government who makes the people. It is the same for our people. We are one mind, one heart, one voice. We are the People.
To learn more and help, visit www.mamwi.org
Take Action: Demand Resolute end their destructive logging.
Ho! In my relations, Tina