Both my reading page here and my Facebook feed are overflowing with accounts of marches from all over the world. I haven't seen this strong a spirit for resistance and change since the 60s, and I hope that the sheer size of the response means there is that critical mass of committed activists and participants to keep the spirit strong and growing.
I couldn't march here in Toronto, but friends in Boston and Victoria offered to carry my name in their pockets, so in a way i did march with them, and with all of you who stood up today for human rights, for human dignity, for cherishing the earth and all its peoples, for democracy and freedom of speech and all the other things we must fight for in the midst of this savage move toward fascism that's oozing out of the deep recesses of our past in places around the world.
We've made our opening statement, fired the first rally in this war. Let us continue as we have begun.
Today, June 29th, is a National Day of Action in Canada.
It was called for by The Assembly of First Nations, and summons "First Nations, Canadian citizens and corporations, to stand together to insist that the Government of Canada respond to the crisis in First Nations communities."
This is me, a white settler woman, standing. I do not comment on any of the choices that Aboriginal and First Nations people may take today, because I am not qualified to judge their actions. I have not lived their lives.
I am qualified to judge the history of violence, greed, arrogant colonialism, deliberate exploitation, and calculated oppression committed by European settlers in the lands now called the Americas. To judge the way in which people of settler backgrounds came to the Aboriginal and First Nations people of these two continents and killed many of the people, eradicated some nations forever from the face of this earth, stole their lands, tried to destroy their culture, break their spirit, confine them, exploit them, assimilate them, isolate them, reduce them to the least of the least. To judge the history of callousness and inhumanity, dishonesty, deceit and self-serving paternalism behind the relations between the government of Canada and the Aboriginal and First Nations peoples living in Canada. And I condemn this history, and accept my responsibility for working toward negotiation, reparation, reconciliation, and whatever is necessary for the renewal and regeneration of the Aboriginal and First Nations peoples.
I do not know what form this working will take, but I do know that, on the side of settler culture and organisations, it must begin with respect for Aboriginal and First Nations peoples, and an acknowledgment that we have to start listening and taking the actions that are needed, rather than imposing "solutions" from a position of continued racist paternalism, colonialist thought and settler privilege.
I do know that one place for settlers to listen and learn is from the Wasáse movement. I quote here from the Statement of Principles of Wasáse. I hope this may serve as food for thought on this day, and those to come.
Wasáse is an intellectual and political movement whose ideology is rooted in sacred wisdom. It is motivated and guided by indigenous spiritual and ethical teachings, and dedicated to the transformation of indigenous people in the midst of the severe decline of our nations and the crises threatening our existence. It exists to enable indigenous people to live authentic, free and healthy lives in our homelands.
Wasáse promotes the learning and respecting of every aspect of our indigenous heritage, working together to govern ourselves using indigenous knowledge, and unifying to fight for our freedom and the return of our lands. It seeks to liberate indigenous people from euroamerican thoughts, laws and systems.
Wasáse is a resurgence of diverse actions. It works by awakening and reculturing individuals so that indigenous thoughts are restored to their proper place in the people’s minds and their attachment to false identities is broken. Members of the movement are committed to the restoration of indigenous traditions, ceremonies and knowledges; reconnecting to and loving the land; and, revitalizing indigenous languages.
Wasáse challenges indigenous people to reject the authority and legitimacy of the colonial system and to rebel against its institutions. Wasáse is not a political party or governmental organization, and its members do not seek or hold political office. The movement does not use violence to advance its aims. Its political struggle is conducted through intellectual confrontation and mass communication; revealing the corruptions, frauds and abuses of colonizers and collaborators; and, supporting direct action in defense of indigenous communities, their rights, and the land.