David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Chief Isadore Day, Serpent River First Nation.     – Photo by Kelly Crawford

David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Chief Isadore Day, Serpent River First Nation. – Photo by Kelly Crawford

(Cutler ON, Friday, August 8, 2014) Serpent River First Nation Anishinabek are hosting their 24th Annual Genaabaajing Traditional Powwow this weekend, August 8-10. Drums, dancers, family and friends from far and wide will be in the community to join in this gathering. Ceremonies, traditional protocols and socializing will be non-stop until Sunday evening.

The theme of this year’s gather is: “Honouring Our Keepers of Mother Earth,” with the focus on environment and the next generation. As Indigenous People with a strong affinity to the land, the First Nation is taking time to express the importance of this theme as vital to “all of humanity,” saying that without clean water, land and air, human survival is impossible.

“Our Ancestors have left us specific instructions about our responsibilities to generations yet unborn,” says Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, “we must show clear strength and determination about these responsibilities and put action in place to protect Mother Earth.”

The Serpent River First Nation knows the impacts of development from uranium mining and forestry and says that since the turn of the last century, their parents and grandparent speak of drastic changes and impacts to the land. Several times during the mining boom in the treaty territory, in the Elliot Lake vicinity, there were toxic spills into the watershed and into the Serpent River, rendering the river dead for many years. “We must never allow this to ever happen again in the lands inherited to our children,” says Chief Day.

At this years gathering the First Nation will be invoking a protocol to introduce a “Seven Grandfather” Children’s Eagle Staff being brought in by the Daycare of Serpent River First Nation and the Children. This ceremony will signify the responsibility and obligations for protecting the land that the Community is stepping forward to uphold. “As our Children bring forward the Eagle Staff, let this be an acknowledgement to all of Creation that we will do everything in our means to protect their inherent rights to the land. We are clearly focused; protection of these lands must be our most important commitment, as we know in our hearts and by our teachings that this is instructed by the Creator,” concludes Day.

In tragic light of the recent mine tailings spill in Quesnel BC, Serpent River First Nation concerned community members and leaders are taking time to reflect and to send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the affected region and the Williams Lake First Nation. It is expected that at the powwow celebration, a healing song and dancers will convene protocols for those recent tragedies.

The “Honouring Our Keepers of Mother Earth” theme is being brought forward by Chief Isadore Day to his Council to be formally slated as a standing item for all of their Council meetings until next year, with the intent to elevate the importance of environmental health and safety. It is expected that this effort will bring the Community closer together for the next generation and for the protection of Mother Earth.