Nishiyuu Walkers

Nishiyuu Walkers were greeted by thousands of supporters on Parliament Hill on March 25. – Photo by Jody Kechego

By Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee

As spring arrives and we look back at the winter months I think it’s safe to say that the Anishinabek Nation citizens are poised to protect their treaty and inherent rights. Our young people have spoken and along with our leadership, we will continue to act in the interest of protecting our environment and our rights. The federal conservative government has already shown its hands, now it’s time for us to show ours. We all raised the bar through the winter with round dances, marches and rallies across Turtle Island and beyond. Let’s keep the momentum going.

On March 25th we witnessed the determination of our people as six youth (one of them was eight years old) walked through minus-fifty-degree weather for 1,600kms from Northern Quebec to Ottawa. Chief Spence’s hunger strike went over 40 days and she was joined by several other fasters in an effort to get the attention of the federal conservative government. Yet, here we are, still going to extreme measures while the legislative attacks that inspired this movement continues rolling forward, business as usual. It is disrespectful and disgraceful.

So we must continue moving forward as well. Our people have proven that they can accomplish anything and that they will stand up to make a difference. It’s not easy coming up with new ways to describe what we’re up against but what was true in December 2012 remains true today. Bill C-45 is a reality and we must find ways to stop Harper’s irresponsible agenda. The budget announcement will have a minimal impact on helping our cause and the federal work for welfare program will only put more First Nations people in poverty and our families will be asked to bear the burden. This is it folks, this is our time to stand beside our youth and make a difference.

Of course they have many more bills on their agenda of assimilation and muncipalization, bills like the MRP, Safe Drinking Water Act, Education Act and bills to make unilateral changes to the Indian Act. All these bills transfer federal obligations to the province and are aimed at eliminating First Nations treaty and inherent rights.

They want our land, our water and resources and they want us to fade into the distance. They are casting us aside as a special interest group. But there’s one problem with their plan – they have to go through us first and based on what I’ve seen so far, our communities are ready to stand up and fight to protect their land and their rights. The Anishinabek Nation stands with you.

This article originally posted April 15, 2013.