“As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…”
The poetry of this phrase of Treaty always struck me as uncommonly beautiful.
As does the truth of this statement:
We Are All Treaty.
For those who don’t know, Treaties were signed between Canadian First Nations groups and The Crown, which is to say, the authority from which each successive Canadian Government derives their authority to rule.
They were intended as a peaceful resolution to a problematic solution: how to form a country in a land peopled by Aboriginal groups who could not be defeated on the field of battle?
For the Indigenous population, it was an opportunity to return to a more stable way of life, unmolested by the European invaders who they once protected as friends but now fought with for the right to live.
As we saw with the Residential School horror, that peace was not to last.
For the past century and more, Indigenous groups have witnessed the encroaching of their lands, the theft of their resources, and the reneging by the government of monies agreed on in return for peaceful use of the land.
There used to be a fund set aside. Corporations could extract resources from Treaty lands. They would keep 60% of the value and the landlords, the First Nations, would get 40%.
(almost done the history, bear with me!)
Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, wanted to build a railroad…but how to pay for it?
You guessed it. That fund was dissolved. And lo! the railway was born!
And the taxpayer was given the responsibility of taking care of the corporation’s debt to the Treaties. And even then, it was a pittance compared to what was actually due.
If we add up the money that is owed, there is a Trillion Dollar Debt to the children of Canada’s treaties, many of whom have no clean drinking water, no warm shelter for the cold winter months, and no access to decent education and healthcare (all part of the original Treaty Agreements, by the way).
And in the meantime, the government has been trying to rid itself of the “Native Problem” through attempted Genocide, assimilation, and reduction of funds to “starve them out”.
No one in the general public really complains because at the same time, there has been a public continuation of some popular memes, propaganda if you will:
The natives are lazy.
The leaders are corrupt.
The problem with the natives is the natives themselves.
Everyone suffers, why should they be special?
It’s in the past, forget about it.
As long as people believe these obvious untruths, the government has free reign to continue their work of dehumanizing their enemy and chipping away at the treaty lands for corporate use.
Why is this important?
Because those lands have been instrumental in keeping Canada a natural paradise. This is why we are all Treaty. We all share that responsibility.
The beauty of our unspoiled places, that they have been kept pristine and clean for this long is a miracle.
And we want to keep it that way.
All our children deserve it.
And the Treaties make this possible, and its what the government wants to be rid of so that those lands can be developed.
And the waters are now unprotected.
It’s easy to do the math.
And all you have to do is see who profits.
I’m not anti-corporation at all. But I am all for a responsible stewardship of the land we all share. The water we all drink, and the air we all breathe.
As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…
First Nations in Canada have been good allies for the rest of Canada.
In every instance they have come to the table in peace. In every instance they have operated in good faith.
There is a misconception that they are always asking for more. They are only asking for the Government of Canada to live up it’s share of these Peace Treaties.
There is a misconception that all the Chiefs are corrupt and the meagre sums provided have been mishandled. The office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has to approve every cent of expenditures. Myth destroyed.
Canada’s Indigenous people have been very patient. They have been purposely kept in a state of poverty and emotional wreckage in order to control them.
But the new generation is rising. They have been freed from the cycle of abuse and they are educated. They are supported by the wisdom of their Elders. And they are tired of this long, long, fruitless fight. They want peace and fairness.
And so should you.
You should be proud that you live in this time when the broken pieces of the past are being gathered, put back together.
You live in a time when an abused people are reclaiming their dignity and strength. And they don’t carry blame, they don’t carry guilt, they carry an olive branch.
And the settler’s legal books, which they have read and mastered.
Canada is sadly a deeply racist society and that is now being uncovered.
Be happy and overjoyed! The light will cast out the darkness.
You are witnessing a Civil Rights Movement that is lighting the world up with inspiration.
And you are invited to join it. You are invited to be part of what will be the remaking of Canada’s present and providing a better future not only for one of the largest landmasses in the world, but for the world itself. This is only the beginning and it’s time is due.
The time is now.
And you are here.
It can’t happen without you.
You’re here for a purpose. To be a part of something wonderful.
You can feel it.
And you can feel the fear of the establishment. They don’t want change. But change is coming. Peacefully.
It’s time to put this broken world back together again.
If you missed my piece on Residential School, here it is:
In Egyptian Mythology, Isis was supposed to marry the god Set, but instead wed his brother Osiris.
In jealousy, Set killed Osiris and hid his body in the Nile. Isis recovered Osiris’ corpse and prepared him properly for burial but at the funeral, Set stole the body, hacked it into pieces and scattered the pieces across the earth.
Her devotion being so strong, Isis recovered the pieces of the body and reconstructed the fallen god Osiris.
In her grief, Isis transformed into a bird and circled in the air, crying out her sorrow and deep lament. The wind she made with her wings wafted over her husband and new life came into him and he was reborn.
To me, this story talks about the way we can become fragmented – our lives are cut up and compartmentalized- and we become role players, filling various parts but never feeling whole.
We need to breathe.
We need to allow our souls to return to our bodies, and -in prayer or meditation, or in simply being still and quiet- we can rejoin our fragmented selves and become entire once again
People say, “Put the past behind you.”
I say, put it in front of you. A vast wide vista of your life, the lives of your parents, and that whole amazing assortment of those who came before. Learn from them. Learn perseverance, learn love, learn compassion. Learn perspective.
And learn their stories.
Behind you is the future. And you walk blindly into it because no one can see it, we can only catch glimpses.
Allow those who came before you to be your guide. And they will guide you. Their time is done and they can see where you are going, they’ve been down similar paths.
Gain wisdom from your ancestors and prepare yourself to pass wisdom on to those who come after.
The past is gone, and it’s a feast for the curious, a balm for the lonely, and a hope for those who despair. All who came before you are cheering you on.
“You can do it!”
They should know. They left you with the best parts of them.
So don’t live in the past, but never forget it. Bring the lessons with you into the exciting and unknown road ahead.